the WAFFLE page


September 30, 2014. Did I say I've gained 2.5kg? It's actually 3.5kg (7/8lb) since my last visit to the GP according to him. So that's encouraging.

And now to coffee. This is a pic of the coffee I had while in Balmain last time I visited Sydney. And below is a pic of a coffee in a St Kilda (Melbourne) coffee shop ordered by the niece of a Red Bubble friend. How's that for artistry?

TX Greg wrote: It (the legendary Safrican surfer) was John Whitmore “The Oom” you were trying to think of yesterday. He passed away a month after Cody on Christmas Eve 2001. Thanks, Greg. Now how could I forget something like "The Oom"? Don't answer that.

To Beau? Beau schmo. Make that Cody.

And on the subject of skating and surfing, OK Mike (who thinks I'm a resourceful individual) wrote: I skated ( boards ) for many years in Southern California, that was in the days before it was glorified by the likes of Tony Hawk and company . When I was 12 years old I broke both legs due to a fall at high speed from a skateboard. I was in casts of one form or another for nearly two years, six weeks after having my final cast removed I fell again and suffered a compound fracture (open) of my right arm, thus ending my skating experience . Funny, the first thing that went through my mind, before the pain hit, was that Mom was gonna be pissed !

Ouch! Both legs and an arm! Reminds me of Cody getting into fights at school and worrying what his mother would say about the buttons missing from his school blazer hehe.

I too remember when I was a wee brat learning the ropes surfing what Cody called a green room we thought as a tube. I think Green Room is a better description for the closure of a wave. If it were referred to as a tube internationally your books would have been titled Tube, Tube II, nah Green Room is much better.

Remember the joke about a grip of Tarzan's tube? Actually, Green Room is also the theatrical term for the waiting room occupied by actors before and after a performance.

My Baby sister is coming in a couple weeks for a short stay here in Oklahoma, she currently lives in the Bay area of San Francisco and will endure the same shock that I did when we left Orange County California for Oklahoma. Gary that was the absolute worst period of my life. I was barely 14, just discovering things about myself, to be plucked from everything I knew, everything that was me, to be dropped into a place that really sucked balls. To this day I sometimes silently weep for all that was swiped from me.

Parents don't realize the gravity of uprooting teens. Look at what happened to Cody and his best friend when the latter's family decided to move to another country. He and Cody formed a suicide pact that almost succeeded in taking both their young teenage lives. What a tragedy that would have been! But along came an Aussie writer who happened to have written something that Cody recalled at the last possible moment, and that changed his mind.

I too notice in your past post that you shared that Kiwis, Aussies and Safricans share accents, this I did not know wholly. I knew Aussies and Kiwis could be mistaken for one another but not the Safricans.

This is also something I did not know until OH Jim remarked on the similarity of those accents. Similarity my foot. There's absolutely no similarity at all unless you happen to be an alien banished to the Northern Hemispherical boondocks. Cody & Co would have sounded totally weired to me. But not necessarily me to them because Safricans are exposed to a fair bit of Aussie TV and movies. No wukkers, cob.

From the Beeb: "Boots on the ground" is shorthand for combat troops deployed in a foreign country. Barack Obama and David Cameron have both used it - it's a phrase that is constantly cropping up in the news. But where did it come from?

Outside the dusty, one-road town of Kouremale on the border of Guinea and Mali, underground gold deposits have attracted thousands of young men looking to make a living from artisanal mining. Check out the brilliant photography.

The British street artist D*Face is known for his expansive murals and urban artwork. Now he brings his work indoors in "Scars and Stripes," his largest solo show to date. Open now at a pop-up gallery in Los Angeles, "Scars and Stripes" features the ghostly images of celebrities who died before aged 30, including Tupac Shakur, Amy Winehouse and James Dean. D*Face, aka Dean Stockton, was drawn to these celebrities, he says, due to how quickly they achieved fame and how that sudden fame then contributed to their decline. Visitors to the gallery should question "society's drive for celebrity and where is it going to take us," he says.

Fuel, tires, brakes, oil: Four car myths debunked: Many drivers go their entire lives without learning even the most basic car maintenance, and they get around just fine. But even motorists who are blithely ignorant to the forces that carry them down the road can appreciate a good tip, as well as some clarity around habits that have worn out their welcome. Surveying the question and answer community at, BBC Autos compiled the most thoughtful responses to long-held suppositions about cars and how to treat them. So leave the tire changes to AAA, and heed these simple rules of thumb.

Been a hottie today with westerly winds from the interior of Oz giving us unseasonal temps. Dunno what it is at the mo here (26C in this room) but Sydney was headed for mid 30s. And here we are only a month into spring.

Did I say spring? Earlier, Mieke commented on my pic of an historic building in Balmain and the morning light on the sandstone. Yes, light. Gotta remember to think of light when I photograph things instead of the object itself. Light, light, light. So just now, I checked Mieke's new posts, one of which is this shot of grapevines at a winery. Man, is that awesome or is that awesome? That shot just blew me away. What a clever girl.

One of the really exciting things about the Odyssey is being out there every day with endless opportunities to hone my photographic skills with an equally endless variety of subjects. It's gonna be sooooo cool!

And on the subject of fossicking for the yella stuff, on the prospecting forum someone posted a comprehensive list of things to look for at creek sites (dry or wet), a Guide for Newcomers - things a novice like me would never think of like 6. Keep an eye out for Dwarf pine trees they dont grow much beyond about a metre high. These are a good indicator that the chinese miners have been around the area as they used to bring in pine nut and chew the husks off these and spit out the seeds.

How about that? There are 22 tips on the list, plus all the others contributed by prospectors in the field when they post stories of their experiences. I've learned a heap in just a week or two! However, I'm restricting my interest to the alluvial stuff and panning. Metal detectors and the more serious prospecting techniques I'll leave to the diehards.

And that's it for Chewsdee and the last day of September. Whoosh! Oh, and the franks last night? No good. Non-mashable with a fork so I've given the rest to Lindsay who has them cold, dipped in BBQ sauce. Today I made burgers for myself. Gary

September 29, 2014. I'm off to the dentist shortly and, as usual, they'll ask me what I did on the weekend. Wot weekend? To me every day is a weekend hehe. Thank God it's Friday doesn't apply to retirees. However, I will be glad when these twice weekly dental appointments are no longer part of my routine. It's a pain. I see my GP today as well, later this afternoon. There are a few skin cancers that need to be removed. Buggers of things.

Yes, when I'm camped somewhere "out there" the last thing I want is to be disturbed by appointments. I want to come and go as I please, when I please. No timetables. Once in a while for checkups is okay, but none of this weekly jazz. Some of the GNs say they've arrived at a spot to stay maybe a few days or a week and ended up staying for months! Fancy being able to wake in the mornings and not have to worry about what you need to do. Hehe. What a luxury!

OH Jim says he was in a large store recently with a wall of huge LED TVs showing a movie: It was about surfing, or I should say the movie is set in a surfing culture. I have no idea the name, but when I saw it, my thoughts immediately went to Cody. They had a lot of spectacular shots of surfing in the green room... I term I learned from you and Cody... I always called it a pipe line when I was a wanna be young teenage surfer, land locked in Cincinnati. I would imagine what it was like while on my skate board, the closest I would get to doing the real thing. I guess Cody would have thought skate boarding was for little kids, since he had the real thing available. But to me, and my friends of the time, it was THE thing to do on summer evenings, skate boarding down the long hills we have here in Madeira. The sound of the metal wheels on blacktop is ingrained in my mind. Especially when doing jumps. Noise stops... silence, and then the wheels hitting the blacktop again. OR noise stops, silence, then the sound of the board hitting sideways, a big " OHFF" as the boarder gets the wind knocked out of him as HE hits the pavement. No safety gear whatsoever back then... we all wore shorts, and gym shoes and nothing else, so we all had scrapes and bruises LOL. I finally broke my board one night, and it was the last time I boarded. I was 15, and by then I was learning how to drive.

The same thing happens to me when I see a surfing movie on telly. The Codeman pops into my head. His life revolved around the beach, and his room featured a large poster of Endless Summer, autographed by a Safrican surfing legend (whose name escapes me). Cody often mentioned Wingnut going to the local skate park (rink, or whatever those places are called) but I don't think Cody was all that interested in skate boarding. There aren't as many kids riding skate boards around here as there used to be a few years ago. However the local park is always popular, as is the one at nearby Old Bar beach. When I was a kid we had home-made Billy Carts (soap box derby cart).

Jim reckons when his mate Zach reaches a ripe old age, he'll reminisce about flat screen TVs and iPhones and old Mustangs which will all seem quite primitive by then. But what I was talking about is the here and now... the lack of reminiscing available when you're a teen. 5 years ago you were a little kid. 5 years ago I was hardly any different to what I am now. When a teen uses the term "back when I was little" it cracks me up. That's like yesterday, not 40, 50 or 60 years ago! Cody often referred to "when I was a little Cody..." before reminiscing about his childhood.

From the Beeb: Padmini Prakash has become India's first transgender to anchor a daily television news show and she has been grabbing attention in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Since 15 August - India's Independence Day - Padmini appears every evening at 19:00 to present a news show on the Tamil-language Lotus TV based in the city of Coimbatore. And she is thrilled with her new job - not only because she is on air at prime time, but also because it is making a world of difference to her and her community.

The country with one people and 1200 sausages: The Oktoberfest is the largest popular festival in the world - larger, it's claimed, than Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnival in Rio. Created by Bavarian King Ludwig I to celebrate his wedding in 1810, it encapsulates German-ness in a way everyone can engage with - and every year hundreds of thousands do. The British Museum has in its collection drinking vessels from all around the world, but the German collection is striking for its quantity of glasses, mugs, tankards and other vessels - primarily made for the drinking of beer. Mostly from the 16th and 17th Centuries, they're made of all sorts of different materials, and they come from everywhere in the German-speaking world.

Is going to the dentist every six months really necessary for good oral health? Claudia Hammond investigates. A lot of us think that we should visit the dentist every six months – even if it’s not what we do in practice. Whether those biannual check-ups are really necesssary is, however, a matter of debate. In fact, it’s not even clear where the six-month figure initially came from. Some believe it dates back to the 18th Century, long before the advent of randomised controlled trials that could test its benefits.

And here's me with no teeth visiting the dentist twice a week!

Back from my GP and I'm booked in for a whole afternoon's surgery on 6 skin cancers in about 2 weeks. I think he missed a few but we'll see. Anyway, I'll be a walking bandaid for a while hehe. I also bought some frankfurts to have with mashed spud, beans and carrot - blitzed. I should be able to peel the franks and mash them with the back of a fork and smother them in tamaaaaaaaata sauce. Anyway, that's dinner tonight! I haven't had franks for ages and I love 'em. BTW, the doc is pleased with my gain in weight... 2.5kg. Gary

September 28, 2014. Surprise, surprise! This morning on the GN forum, Copper1 (Gaz, Garry) posted a pic of the radio station where I began my illustrious broadcasting career in the winter of 1969 at the ripe old age of 24. He and his wife are touring that area, so he thought of me when they visited Young. I'd searched the web and even phoned the Young historical society for a pic but couldn't get one. Gaz to the rescue! Nice to see the old logo there too. I've just updated my scrapbook site with the pic and a short message.

Well, well, well, memories of a long, long time ago are flooding back. Great to see the old joint again.

OH Jim tells me he's bi: I am bi-lingual, having been raised by a second gen Irish father and a very southern mother. I can speak Irish English with a Southern twang. If I am around people from the south, I talk just like them, complete with the y'alls and doing funny things with vowels. It's a lot of fun when they ask me where I am from, and I say I was born in Cincinnati, and they give me a look, like I thought you were from the South!

Yep, it's all in the vowels, or the lack thereof. Kiwis drop theirs in some words. I've heard that the Scottish accent influenced New Zealanders back in the early days. I'm not sure who influenced ours cos we don't sound like anyone else. It's said that Aussies speak without moving their lips to keep the flies out. Some years ago, before the cancer thing and losing my teeth, I recorded a video (after much lubrication of the tonsils) to discuss my days as a radio announcer...

Oh, wouldn't it be lovely to be able to speak again! You Tube says I posted that vid about 4 years ago. Yeah, 4 or 5, can't remember exactly. But I do remember using the cooking timer to keep it under 10 minutes. Before becoming an announcer, I had to "neutralize" my accent and round my vowels. It was weird at first because I felt very self conscious about sounding so different to normal, but I got used to it. Then people were forever asking me if I was English. One bloke, an American, said I sounded like David Attenborough. Now I sound like a bloke with no teeth.

Jim also wrote to say he has his Mustang back and is ready to start work on it, repairing the accident damage and adding a few extra do-dads. I know the feeling. I miss my PJ when she's away. Jim also said BTW, you had the filter youTube link up instead of the one for panning for gold. I have no idea what you mean, Jim. Looks and works fine at this end.

From the Beeb: Syrian militant group al-Nusra Front has denounced US-led air strikes as "a war against Islam". In an online statement, the al-Qaeda-linked group called on jihadists around the world to target Western and Arab countries involved. It comes as the US and other nations widened air strikes against Islamic State (IS) fighters in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon said jets hit the Syrian city of Raqqa on Saturday as well as IS positions near the Turkish border. Oh well, ya can't please everyone!

Hollywood star George Clooney has married human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin in Venice, in one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the showbusiness year. A host of fellow stars descended on the Italian city's canals for the union between the film world's most eligible bachelor, 53, and Ms Alamuddin, 36. The ceremony was celebrated in a hotel overlooking the famous Grand Canal. Clooney's agent broke the news to journalists in a brief statement. There ya go, a news story with no bombs or violence.

If man were meant to fly, he’d have wings – or at minimum a Paravelo: half-bike, half-parasail flying machine that seamlessly melds extreme sports with eco-sensible transportation. The Paravelo is the brainchild of aviation-obsessed inventors John Foden and Yannick Read, the founders of XploreAir, located in suburban London. Ironically enough, the founders’ workshop is a short walk from the original site of the long-defunct Sopwith Aviation Company, builders of the World War I-era Sopwith Camel.

Speaking of bicycles, and OH Jim saying I'm obsessed with being thought of as a dinosaur now that I'm 70, I decided to test my ability to swing a leg over the saddle of my bicycle. I wheeled it out of the garage and under the clothes line where I hung onto one of the spokes of the hoist while I threw my right leg over the saddle. No problem. And just to prove it wasn't a fluke, I did it again. And then again. But I didn't pedal anywhere. Nope. I just wanted to know if the ol' leg would obey instructions.  I figure there will be plenty of opportunities to test my riding skills on the Odyssey rather than risk providing my current neighbors with a bit of unexpected slap stick comedy.

And that's it for Sundee and the weekend. Hooroo! Gary

September 27, 2014. Sooooo, when you're panning for gold in a dry creek bed, how much are you likely to find? Remember, gold is a rare commodity which is what makes it precious, so it's not likely you'll fill your saddlebags with the stuff. Here's an Aussie in the outback showing us how it's done.

Pretty interesting, yes? A pan, a sieve or two, bucket, pick and a couple of scoops and he's ready to rock and roll. If he made a few hundred bucks from time to time panning for gold, that's not a bad return for a bit of mucking about. So I think I'll get me a panning kit on eBay and keep it handy in PJ. I gather from reading the forum, though, that very few prospectors make a living from prospecting. The big mining companies already have leases on areas that either produce gold in commercial quantities or have that potential. The rest is left to amateur fossickers for whom it's a hobby. I figure if I'm out in the sticks and happen to be in an area that looks promising, I might as well have a bit of a poke around while I'm there. After all, "home" is right next door.

I watched one vid of a woman collecting dirt from crevices in bedrock where gold gets trapped during floods. Rather than wash small amounts of dirt at a time in situ, she took two buckets of dirt back to the camp site and panned merrily away at her leisure. Obviously, panning is not rocket science but it does take a bit of knowledge such as the lay of the land and the presence of materials such as quartz that indicate where gold is likely to be found.

In any case, one needs something interesting and useful to occupy one's time. One can't be sprawled on a lounger under the awning drinking mint juleps all day every bloody day! One needs mental stimulus! A hobby! A reason to get outta bed in the mornings! Actually, to be honest, I've often thought how camping in the bush or outback might be a tad boring, just sitting around with nothing much to do and nobody within cooee. But not now! Hehe.

From the Beeb: The US armed forces chief says Islamic State (IS) militants are being damaged by air strikes in Syria but air power alone is not enough to defeat them. Gen Martin Dempsey said a political solution and a ground campaign would both be needed in Iraq and Syria. Gen Dempsey said that up to 15,000 fighters - to be drawn from Syria's moderate opposition - would be needed for a ground force in Syria. On Friday, the UK agreed to join US-led air strikes on IS in Iraq. French fighter jets are already taking part in strikes in Iraq and Belgium and Denmark are also sending planes. Speaking at the Pentagon, Gen Dempsey said this week's strikes in Syria had disrupted IS's command, control and logistics capabilities.

Three firefighters who were on duty at Ground Zero during the 9/11 attacks have died on the same day from cancer, fire officials have said. Lieutenant Howard Bischoff, 58, and firefighters Robert Leaver, 56, and Daniel Heglund, 58, died within hours of one another on Monday. Thousands of people who helped the 9/11 rescue efforts have been diagnosed with illness, including cancer. But doctors say it is unclear whether sickness can be linked to the attacks.

Lindsay had a techie from a local store (must've been where he bought his TV) come around here yesterday to retune his telly. He said it was something to do with various channels making changes to their signals. It was news to me... until, I noticed my own TV not receiving some channels. Huh? It didn't bother me too much cos I only watch a few. So I just did a Google search for retuning and sure enough there had been recent changes to frequencies for some obscure reason. So where did I put my TV user manual? Buggered if I know. Eeek!

Despite being a septuagenarian who's not supposed to understand technical stuff, I grabbed the TV remote and farted around with the menu for a while, finally figured it out, and managed to retune all the TV and radio digital frequencies. Voila! I'm a genius! More importantly, now I know how to retune the TV when I travel around in PJ. I'll tell Lindsay when he wakes up from his afternoon snooze and say that it was a piece of cake. I'm quite pleased with myself, actually. What a clever little Gary.

Remember when VCRs first arrived and we used them as tuners for the telly? They had fiddly little knobs you had to twiddle forever before each channel was tuned. Fortunately, at the time, there were only 5 channels. Those were the days when remotes were wired. How primitive! Still, it was easier than changing channels manually. Before remotes, my mother used to be first out of the blocks, and then dash across the room to change channels before anyone else could have say in what we were gonna watch... Zorro, Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hawaii Five O, Bonanza, Matt Dillon, Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, etc. All in black and white, of course. Color didn't arrive in Oz till '76, which is when my parents bought a Rank Arena telly. Remember Rank Arena?

And that's another thing about being a septuagenarian, you have more to reminisce about. Imagine a millennial doing that. Is that what they call kids born in the new millennium? Milli something or other. Anyway, kids have no idea of what quality reminiscing is all about. Crystal sets, FJ Holdens, fixed-wheel bikes, radio serials, pin ball machines, drive-in movies, juke boxes...

Oh well, life goes on. Catch ya tomorrow. Gary

September 26, 2014. Checked out the prospecting site again and this time found a couple of experienced guys who wrote helpful tips about panning and what to look for. One was a simple tip about throwing a stick into a flowing creek and watching where the stick goes to as it heads for bends. Anyway, I created a page where I paste that kind of info for later reference. Knowing what the signs are is the key. On my earlier mini Odysseys in Tough Titties I visited many places where gold was found back during early settlement days but never gave panning a passing thought. Thilly me. I coulda been rich!

Actually, being on a fixed income as a pensioner, fossicking could be a good little earner over the years. Money depreciates but gold appreciates in the long term.

Speaking of TT, OH Jim was saying that his '68 Mustang needs lead substitute added to the fuel. So did TT otherwise she'd ping. She was a 1971 model 202 six. He says the Mustang also has the same problem as PJ had with the fuel nozzle at the pump... gotta hold it a certain way to get it to work. But PJ has only encountered that problem once.

Jim also writes: I was reading a short story on line and the characters were based in New Zealand. The author is from there also. There was a line he wrote: New Zealanders and Australians are pretty much enemies. Them ozzies with their Fiesh and Cheaps. So what is your take as a native from down under? Is this like it is here in the States, where anyone from the South has an inbred inferiority complex? Or is the above statement just a work of fiction? When I hear ZL ( New Zealand ) or a VK ( Australian) Hams on Ham Radio, they all sound alike with the "Crocodile Dundee" accent. And you can lump in South African Hams also, although they are harder to find than the run of the mill ZL or VK, they sound like VK's also.

Aussies and Kiwis rib each other but it's not serious, unless it's on the football field. We reckon their version of marriage equality is being able to marry sheep. But they reckon we're unrefined and dim witted. Russell Crowe is a Kiwi but we claim him as an Aussie. Truth is we get along pretty well. As to accents - Aussies, Kiwis and Safricans all sounding the same - that's what we say about Americans and Canadians. My dentist Andries is a Safrican-born New Zealander living and working in Oz, married to an American. So there ya go... and he has an Aussie accent.

1) The scene is set, the night is cold, the campfire is burning and the stars twinkle in the dark night sky... Three hang-glider pilots, one from Australia, one from South Africa and the other from New Zealand, are sitting round a campfire near Uluru, each embroiled with the bravado for which they are famous. A night of tall tales begins.... "Kiven," the kiwi says, "I must be the meanest, toughest heng glider dude there us. Why, just the other day, I linded in a field and scared a crocodile thet got loose from the swamp. Et ate sux men before I wrestled ut to the ground weth my bare hends end beat ut's bliddy 'ed un."

Jerry from South Africa typically can't stand to be bettered. "Well you guys, I lended orfter a 200 mile flight on a tiny treck, ind a fifteen foot Namibian desert snike slid out from under a rock and made a move for me. I grebbed thet borsted with my bare hinds and tore it's head orf ind sucked the poison down in one gulp. Ind I'm still here today."

Barry the Aussie remained silent throughout, slowly poking the fire embers with his penis.


After their boat sinks, two aussies are left floating around in their lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. All of a sudden one of them spots a funny looking bottle bobbing in the water and pulls it out. He sees something written on the bottle but can't quite read it so he gives it a bit of a rub. SHAZAM.....out pops a genie! "For releasing me from the bottle I will grant you one wish." The guy glances at his mate, smiles and without further hesitation says, "I wish the whole ocean was beer!" The genie claps his hands together and BOOM, there's a blinding light and the genie is gone. The guy quickly leans over the side of the boat and takes a big swig of "water". "You're not gonna believe this mate, but it's really beer!" His mate screws up his face and says "That's just bloody brilliant mate! Now we’re gonna have to piss in the boat!!”


1) Three blokes were working on a high rise building project, Macca, Chook and Simmo. Chook falls off and is killed instantly. As the ambulance takes the body away, Simmo says, "Someone should go and tell his wife." Macca says, "OK, I`m pretty good at that sensitive stuff, I'll do it." Two hours later, Macca comes back carrying a slab of VB. Simmo says, "Where did you get that, Macca?" "Chook's missus gave it to me." "That's unbelievable, you told the lady her husband was dead and she gave you beer?" Macca says, "Well not exactly. When she answered the door, I said to her, "You must be Chook`s widow." She said, "No, I'm not a widow." And I said, "Wanna bet me a slab?"


3) A bloke escapes from prison where he has been for 15 years. He breaks into a house to look for money, beer and guns and finds a young Australian couple in bed. He orders the bloke out of bed and ties him to a chair. While tying the girl to the bed he gets on top of her, kisses her neck, then goes into the bathroom. While the man is in the bathroom, the husband tells the wife: "Listen, this bloke's an escaped inmate, look at his clothes! He probably spent lots of time in jail and hasn't seen a woman in years... I saw how he kissed your neck. If he wants sex, don't resist, don't complain. Do whatever he tells you. Satisfy him no matter how much he nauseates you. This bloke is probably dangerous. If he gets angry, he'll kill us. Be strong, honey. I love you." To which the wife responds: "He wasn't kissing my neck. He was whispering in my ear. He told me he was gay, thought you were cute, and asked if we had any Vaseline. I told him it was in the bathroom. Be strong honey, I love you too!!"


Three Kiwis and three Aussies are traveling by train to a conference. At the station, the three Aussies each buy tickets and watch as the three Kiwis buy only a single ticket. "How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" asks an Aussie. "Watch and you'll see," answers a Kiwi. They all board the train. The Aussies take their respective seats but all three Kiwis cram into a bathroom and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the bathroom door and says,"Ticket, please." The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on. The Aussies see this and agree it was quite a clever idea. So after the conference, the Aussies decide to copy the Kiwis on the return trip and save some money (being clever with money,and all that). When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the Kiwis don't buy a ticket at all. "How are you going to travel without a ticket?" says one perplexed Aussie. Watch and you'll see," answers a kiwi. When they board the train the three Aussies cram into a bathroom and the three Kiwis cram into another one nearby. The train departs. Shortly afterward, one of the Kiwis leaves his bathroom and walks over to the bathroom where the Aussies are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, "Ticket, please."

And finally, what do you get when you cross a kangaroo with an elephant? Bloody big holes all over Australia.

From the Beeb: Singer Barbra Streisand has created US chart history by becoming the first artist to score number one albums in each of the last six decades. The veteran star's latest release, Partners, topped the Billboard rundown after selling 196,000 copies. The 72-year-old's first number one album, People, was achieved almost 50 years ago in October 1964. Streisand's latest hit also makes her the only female singer to clock up 10 number one albums in the US. The musician now stands at number four in the all-time list of album chart-topping acts in the US, behind The Beatles, who lead the hall of fame with 19 number ones. Jay Z is second with 13, while Bruce Springsteen is in third place with 11 best-selling albums. Streisand ties for fourth with Elvis Presley, who is featured on her latest work.

The US military has released footage and still photos of its air strikes on oil refineries controlled by Islamic State (IS) militants in eastern Syria. The raids, carried out by US, Saudi and UAE aircraft, targeted 12 refineries in Syria on a third night of air strikes against the militants. IS has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months. Sales of smuggled crude oil have helped finance its offensive in both countries.

Although the sound of a burbling V8 engine is indelibly associated with the Mustang, Ford is pitching the car’s turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine as a power plant for the future, one that rationalises the American pony for global drivers. “The new Mustang’s potential for performance is most fully realized through its new 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine,” crows a Ford press release. “Turbocharging permits engineers to extract good power from small, otherwise fuel-efficient engines that must meet ever-more-stringent government fuel economy standards while providing good acceleration.” Yeah, but it doesn't LOOK like a Mustang!

While farting around with PJ earlier I noticed something interesting in the garden... well, sort of interesting photographically speaking... so I experimented with a shot or two and posted this one on Red Bubble. Just goes to show what an old stick is capable of. Not me... IT. Gary

September 25, 2014. Raining. Bleh. Andres asked me this morning what it feels like to be 70, and I didn't have an answer. The ageing process is so gradual that there's nothing much to notice, unless you compare your current age with some decades ago. I tend to go through a gate these days instead of jumping a fence. Climbing trees is not something I do a lot. Pirouettes are out. And it's been a while since I ran up a flight of stairs two at a time. Otherwise, turning 70 is no biggie.

Checked out the prospecting web site this morning and learned a little more. Some of the guys (and it seems to be a guy thing) posted pics of streams and creeks that showed various things to look for, like crevices, cracks in the rocks, obstructions and rubble. I see it as something I'll do from time to time just for the fun of it. Then again, if I get lucky and find a nugget or two, I may see it differently. Gold fever I think it's called.

Looks like my letter to Ford Australia caused a bit of a ruckus. The the local Ford dealership has installed a client liason person to deal with complaints. She just called and asked if Graham's explanation was satisfactory yesterday, and was I happy to close the case. Happy not, but I don't see an alternative. Oh well... On the bright side, PJ has so many new bits now she's probably good for a few years of reliable service.

Meanwhile, OH Jim is busy organizing parts for his 2001 Mustang. He says his odometer needs an occasional thump with his fist to encourage it to work. Mine too. Things like that add character hehe. PJ is full of character... idiosyncracies that one learns to work around.

The other day I filled up at a different service station and had major problems with the pump. The gun kept shutting off. Finally, the attendant came to take a look after I'd changed from one pump to the next, and solved the problem by turning the gun sideways. What a hassle! Fortunately it was a slow day and there were no irate motorists waiting behind me.

From the Beeb: French President Francois Hollande has strongly condemned the beheading in Algeria of tourist Herve Gourdel by a jihadist group linked to Islamic State (IS) militants. The president described the killing as a "cruel and cowardly" act. He said that French air strikes which began on IS targets in Iraq last week would continue. Jund al-Khilafa killed Mr Gourdel, 55, after its deadline for France to halt air strikes on IS in Iraq ran out. Algeria said it would do everything possible to bring the killers to justice.

One of the loonies arrested in Oz the other day planned to execute a random person in the street and video the murder. Talk about twisted.

A teenage terror suspect shot dead after he stabbed two Australian police officers may not have acted alone, a top police officer said. Abdul Numan Haider, 18, was killed on Tuesday evening at a Melbourne police station. He had been asked to attend a meeting with counter-terrorism officers amid concerns over his behaviour. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said police were investigating the exact circumstances of the incident.

The Mando Footloose is a beautiful bicycle, a clean arc of aluminium stretched between two wheels. Everything extraneous seems to have been removed – including, surprisingly, the chain. The Footloose is an electric bike, but rather than using a motor to provide assist when pedaling, the only direct link between the pedals and rear wheel is electronic. The pedals power an alternator instead of a chain ring, and send power to a lithium-ion battery pack. That battery powers a motor in the back hub, which is controlled with a thumb throttle. The 250-watt motor is dual-wound, and shifts motor speeds when it encounters a slope, thanks to what the company calls an “artificial intelligence gear shifter.” No matter the terrain, the rider moves along at a steady pace, pedaling leisurely as if on a bike path through a city park.

Remember I wrote that I overdid the polarizer during my Port Macquarie trip? I wrote to a Red Bubble mate to ask about polarizers (he leaves his on the camera all the time). Great timing. He had just returned home from his mother's funeral. Mind you, she was 102 and 1 week, so it's not like her passing was any great surprise. He has been her carer for many years and only had time for photography during 'respite' periods. He's been all over Oz during his life and covered well over a million miles, so my guess is he'll be off again. He loves the bush.

Bit difficult to see where that video border begins and ends on the page in normal edit mode cos it's invisible so I'm typing this sentence in source mode. Hope it works! Hmmm... back in normal mode and it looks okay.

I did some shopping earlier and as soon as I drove into the driveway, large drops of rain began to fall. Then, once inside the house, down it came with thunder, lightning and the whole shebang - not bad timing! I'm gonna try a couple of those meatballs with baked beans in tomato sauce tonight... with a bit of extra salsa for good measure. Gary

September 24, 2014. This house is full of the tantalizing aroma of fried savory meatballs (veal and pork). Mmmm! There's enough for a couple of meals. Some will get the crush treatment from the back of a fork at dinner time tonight. I picked up a trick from a cooking show about making meatballs/burgers... you can bind the ground meat by using a slice of bread (crusts cut off) torn to bits and soaked in milk.

Congrats to OR Richie and Becky who are celebrating their 2nd wedding anniversary today. Isn't that sweet? Childhood sweethearts who parted ways 30 years ago and then got together again and tied the knot. Domestic life is agreeing with them both, and they're having a lovely time making improvements to the El Rancho.

Meanwhile, over in Ohio, Jim is having a lovely time with bureaucrats: So, the saga of getting my 2001 Mustang road worthy and legal to drive on the road again is just starting . My insurance company will pay me $2,282.36, which is $2,282.26 more than what I expected. I wanted no salvage title put on the car, not that I give a hoot if there was, since I plan on driving it into the ground ... or until they l plant me into the ground, which ever comes first. Then I plan to sell it to Zach for $1. He'll fix it up, and drive it until he is in his 60's.

BUT... the State of Ohio has a law that says if an insurance company has totalled (the cost to fix it exceeds what they think it is worth) a car, they have to report it to the State BMV and I then have to take the title, the registration, insurance info, my drivers license, and Zach's report card from 8th grade to get them to give me a salvage title for the car, which then stays with the car forever. That tells any buyer that the car was in a serious accident.

BUT, that ain't all... I have to get the Salvage Unit of the Ohio Highway Patrol to inspect the car. I have to produce original receipts for any parts I bought to fix the car. If they are used parts, they have to be bought from a real company, not from Craig's List or eBay, AND they have to have the VIN number from the donor car. Nothing can be loose, or held together with duct tape. Plus no sharp edges hanging out. They said air bag replacement was optional, my choice. So this will cost me a couple of hundred, before they are done with me. Oh, I asked what else do they look for, and the guy said " sorry, that's confidential". No kidding, he actually said that to me. Jeez. Some people have way too much authority or maybe he is related to Barney Fife?

Yep, we all have a story to tell about bureaucrats. They get off on wielding the power they have. As to air bags, I've never owned a car with them. I think it's probably just as well that PJ doesn't have air bags at her age. The less gadgets an old car has, the less there is to deteriorate or go wrong.

And here in Taree, Oz, it seems that it's Ford 1, Gary 0. Just got a call from the local Ford dealer to say that the leaky radiator, faulty water pump and then the cracked head were coincidental and not related. And neither was the fact that today's call arrived 6 weeks after I mailed a letter asking for an explanation, plus a further letter mailed to Ford Australia 2 weeks ago to say that I was being ignored by the local dealer, and asking for intervention by head office. According to the caller, the 6 week lapse was caused by his having the flu. Yeah, right. Long bloody flu.

The caller said that when PJ arrived at the dealership on board the tilt tray truck, it started and ran fine. Next morning he started PJ again and it ran rough. They did a compression test (or some kind of test) and discovered what appeared to be a cracked head or faulty gasket. Upon further investigation, they found that water was entering #3 cylinder. So it's their word against mine. Like I said, Ford 1, Gary 0. And there's nothing I can do about it. It's the Golden Rule... he who has the gold makes the rules.

From the Beeb: The fight against jihadist group Islamic State (IS) will take years, a US military spokesman has told the BBC. Rear Admiral John Kirby also said that US-led air strikes against IS in Syria had disrupted the group's capabilities. The remark came as President Barack Obama thanked Arab states for help and Secretary of State John Kerry said more than 50 nations had agreed to fight IS.

China has pledged for the first time to take firm action to tackle climate change, telling a UN summit it aims to make deep emissions reductions by 2020. Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said China's carbon emissions - the world's highest - would soon peak. US President Barack Obama said climate change was moving faster than efforts to address it, and the US and China had a responsibility to lead other nations. The summit was the largest high-level climate meeting since 2009. Maybe they can convince Oz to take action too.

A teenager shot dead after he stabbed two police officers was a "known terror suspect" whose passport had been cancelled on security grounds, Australian officials say. The incident happened at a Melbourne police station late on Tuesday. The 18-year old, who had been asked to attended an interview, stabbed two counter-terrorism officers several times. One of them then shot him. Police would not confirm reports he made threats against PM Tony Abbott.

So now some people are saying the coalition of the willing withdrew from Iraq too soon, and that the current mess is a result of not finishing the job properly. If that's the case then GWB was right. Then there are others who say we should never have been involved in the first place. I guess we'll never know for sure. What matters now is how we resolve the present situation. I think John Kerry has done a great job of getting 50 nations involved, including Arab states. IS and other terrorist groups need to know that it's not just the West they're dealing with.

Seems to me that evil will always exist in one form or another. Individuals pre-disposed to violence and hatred band together once they're offered a cause that justifies their demented gang mentality. It happens in urban environments and, on a much larger scale, in environments like those that exist in the Middle East. But their Modus Operandi is the same whether it's a neighborhood gang or a sophisticated outfit like IS... rule by fear.

Well, that'll do me for this Wednesday. I'm looking forward to mashing some of those meatballs tonight and having them with mashed spud and veg, with lots of gravy. When I serve it on a plate, it actually looks like a proper meal instead of a bunch of gloop in a bowl like I used to have. It's okay to have a bowl of oats but not a bowl of dinner, if ya know what I mean. It's a psychological thingy. Gary

September 23, 2014. NC Art says the spirit's willing but the flesh ain't up to speed, OH Jim's complaining of a green belly button and TX Greg's not feeling well either: Speaking of being ill, I've been down for over a week now. Not sure if the flu or a chest cold. Just sick and weak enough can't drive to the doc and not sick enough to call a ambulance, hehe. Doc's just don't do house calls over here. A little better this morning tho.

Well, you'll be glad to know that there is hope according to a GN who posted this helpful advice on the forum.

I phoned the prof's office in Sydney yesterday about the CT scan of my jaw. The prof has the report from the Imaging company but not the images. He'll ask me to mail them if he needs to see them, they said. I get the feeling he's already made up his mind about the bone transplant op. If that's the case, I could get a call any day now asking me to pack my bags and head for Sydney. More disruption and inconvenience BUT... munch, munch, munch. Thin and crispy Supreme, please, with double topping.

More importantly, of course, is being able to pack PJ next year for the final exit from the driveway. Mine must be the longest prep in history. This web site started in 2007. Sheesh!

From the Beeb: The US and allies said to include Arab nations have launched the first air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria, the Pentagon says. Spokesman Rear Adm John Kirby said fighter and bomber jets and Tomahawk missiles were used in the attack. The strikes were expected as part of President Barack Obama's pledge to "degrade and destroy" IS, which has taken huge swathes of Syria and Iraq. The US has already launched 190 air strikes in Iraq since August.

Heirs to the Rockefeller family, which made its vast fortune from oil, are to sell investments in fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy, reports say. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is joining a coalition of philanthropists pledging to rid themselves of more than $50bn (£31bn) in fossil fuel assets. The announcement was made on Monday, a day before the UN climate change summit opens on Tuesday. Some 650 individuals and 180 institutions have joined the coalition.

The man who broke into the White House on Friday evening had 800 rounds of ammunition, a machete and two hatchets in his car, authorities have said. Omar Gonzalez, 42, was carrying a knife when stopped by Secret Service officers just inside the building. On Monday officials said he was also arrested in July with two rifles and a map marking the White House. The Secret Service says it has stepped up security and launched a comprehensive review of procedures. Mr Gonzalez, a US military veteran who was decorated for his service in the Iraq war, faces charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building carrying a "deadly or dangerous weapon".

The chief spokesman for the self-named "Islamic State" (IS), also known as Isis, has given the clearest indication yet that his fighters would actually welcome a ground war in Iraq and Syria against US troops. In a 42-minute audio message uploaded to the internet the group's Syrian-born spokesman, who has taken the adopted name of Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, mocks recent US air strikes and the moves to build an international coalition against Islamic State. Addressing President Obama, the spokesman says: "Is this all you are capable of doing in this campaign of yours? Are America and all its allies... unable to come down to the ground?" No military response? Two things emerge clearly from the various references to the US-led campaign to confront IS in the Middle East. The US and French air strikes in Iraq are causing IS real damage - it has no effective military response to them - and for a number of reasons it really wants the US to commit ground troops to the battlefield.

Talk back radio this morning was full of callers concerned about Muslims, the wearing of burkas in public, Sharia Law, and terrorism. A couple of people commented that if Muslims attract this much attention with only 2% of the Australian population, imagine how much they would attract if they were 10%. I've not met any Muslims personally so I don't have an informed opinion. On the other hand I may have without realizing it. I would like to think that Muslims are people first, and Muslims second, and that they have more in common with the rest of the community than not. Intolerance is usually the result of ignorance. Mind you, I'm talking about Australian Muslims; people who settle here to get away from religious in-fighting and fanaticism. She'll be roite, mate, no wukkers.

Geez, has the day gone that quickly? Musta been the two snoozes I had hehe. Septuagenarians are allowed an extra snooze occasionally. A little while ago I introduced myself as a newbie to the Australian Prospecting forum and told the story of the nugget. Later I'll go back in to have a poke around and see what I can glean. I figure reading forum threads is a better and more interesting way to learn about a subject than reading a book. Yeah? Get better soon, Greg. Gary

September 22, 2014. Since no touch up paint is available for OH Zach's old Toyota ute, Jim is gonna try to find something close, but that ain't easy. I had that trouble with old Bluey. However, I have seen other cars with dings whose owners have not bothered. Instead, they paint "OUCH!" over the ding. As to Jim's Mustang, he's gonna repair the recent accident damage himself and fit new after-market headlights. Cool beans, according to Zach.

Speaking of older cars, Francois sent this link (forwarded from Dio) to an 84 year old Packard in 'as-new', original condition still driven regularly by its 101 year old lady owner. I posted this story on Waffle some months ago but if you missed it, here it is again.

It's been a while since I've heard from NC Art, so I emailed him yesterday to enquire about his health. He's 88 - no spring chicken. Ah, here he is. His reply was waiting for me when I returned from the dental clinic: Spirit willing, Flesh weak. or some such eggzcuse.

I know how it feels, Art. After surgery or being ill, when the flesh is being uncooperative (or even inoperative), the mind follows suit. There have been times when I couldn't even look at a keyboard.

I watched a science show recently about time and the 'big bang'. The universe continues (and will continue) to expand. Time is motion. Nothing stands still, not even the inner workings of an atom. I think they said that the light from the beginning of the big bang hasn't even reached Earth yet. Anyway, all I know is that the concept of time is something I find most difficult to wrap my head around. Impossible, even. Even the experts can't agree.

During the interview with Arianna Huffington on telly last night, she said she's a spiritual person. I'm not sure if she believes in an El Supremo but she does enjoy the mysterious nature of certain things, like coincidence. She told the story of a young couple buying lunch at a Subway restaurant. When the young man received his change, he spotted a dollar bill with his girlfiend's name written on it. So he gave it to her. It was some years later, after they'd been married, that he asked if she still had the dollar bill. It was then that she told him the story: As a young girl, before she met him, she had long wondered how she would recognize the boy of her dreams when/if he came into her life. So she got the idea of writing her name on a dollar bill and then putting it back into circulation. If the signed bill ever turned up in her possession again, she would know that the boy she was currently dating was her Prince Charming. Her husband, after hearing the story, asked why she hadn't mentioned it at the Subway restaurant. She explained that they'd only just met at the time, and she didn't want put pressure on him by saying they were fated to marry; that he may have felt trapped or obligated had he known. But, as it turned out, they fell in love and married anyway.

After relating the story, Arianna asked what were the chances of that happening? One in a billion? One in a trillion? Was it coincidence or something else? It's that kind of mystery - the sheer wonder of the inexplicable - that she finds so spiritually fascinating.

The Huffington Post, according to Arianna, has a section on divorce which was introduced after one of Huffington's editors suggested it by saying, "Marriage comes and goes, but divorce is forever!"

Back after checking out the junk mail. I took it down to PJ to read it. Sounds weird but PJ is somehow more conducive to reading than this room is. Maybe it's the table and seating arrangement (which the GNs call a club lounge). Anyway, there was the usual electronic stuff, furniture, groceries and a real estate mag. You can buy a small villa around here for under $200K which is pretty cheap compared to Sydney. Or a house between $200 and $300K up to $1M+.  There's nothing particularly attractive about Sydney's outer suburbs anyway. Dunno why I'm checking out real estate though. Haven't got the brass for one thing, and I'll be off like a bride's nightie as soon as I get teeth. But the pictures are pretty. :)

From the Beeb: The US space agency's (Nasa) latest Mars satellite has arrived successfully in orbit above the planet. Hurtling through space for the past 10 months, the Maven craft slammed on the brakes by firing its thrusters. The 33-minute burn removed sufficient speed to allow the satellite to be captured by Mars' gravity. Maven has been sent to study the Red Planet's high atmosphere, to try to understand the processes that have robbed the world of most of its air. Today, the air pressure is so low that free water at the surface would instantly boil away.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told the BBC that it may be necessary to use "force capability on the ground" to defeat IS militants. Referring to Barack Obama's airstrike policy he said that the "fanatical force" could only be "harried and hemmed in by airpower". He also said it would be best if the ground troops came from nations in the Middle East. Mr. Blair was speaking to the BBC's Nick Bryant.

Tens of thousands of people have marched in Moscow to protest against Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict. People carrying Russian and Ukrainian flags chanted "No to war!" and "Stop lying!" Similar rallies took place in St Petersburg and other Russian cities. Ukraine accuses Russia of arming rebels in the east and sending Russian troops across the border. Moscow denies this.

Thousands of people have watched the last two airworthy Lancaster bombers in the world fly over the site where the famous Dambusters raid was practised. The Lancasters passed Derwent Dam in Derbyshire three times on their way back to RAF Coningsby, in Lincolnshire, from Southport Air Show. The once in a lifetime sight was in tribute to the Dambusters crews and those killed in World War Two.

This morning at the dental clinic, Cherie told me that there's an old gold mine in the Taree area. Could be good for a short camp and some piccies, and even a bit of fossicking. So I did a Google and discovered that there was a lot of mining in this and neighboring areas during the 19th century, and not only for gold but also gemstones. I plan to join a prospecting forum and learn from others, much the same as I have about camping/travelling from the GN forum. Panning is also a helluva lot simpler and cheaper than using metal detectors. A few dishes and a pick will get me started.

Sooooo, that brings me to the end of another Waffle. I'm looking foward to dinner - ham and veg and buckets of gravy (chicken cos it goes better with ham). I'm starving! Maybe I'll nibble on some chocolate first hehe. Gary

September 21, 2014. And another lovely spring day it is too, albeit a chilly morning. So what exciting things are on the menu for today? Ummmm... yeah. Well, at least there's a bit of excitement in Ohio where Jim's young mate Zach is buffing up... the old Toyota ute, that is... after two evenings of buffing it with a cutting compound, then with a polish and finally with a wax. What was a dull, faded brown, is now restored to a respectable shinny red, called Wine Red. It was a 1989 only Toyota color. The bad news is that you can't buy touch up paint for it. So we are fishing for a solution.

Jim - whose belly button, incidentally, is now British Racing Green (following a period of black and blue bruising) - also tells me that Zach replaced the interior rear view mirror and broken door latch. Doing up an old vehicle can be a most absorbing and satisfying project, especially for a teen. It's a major step up from running around the back yard dressed in a Batman suit.

As to Francois' happy snap of a deer wandering close to his house... Saw the deer photo. Yawn. We have deer here ... up the wazoo. A couple of years ago, I was going out the driveway door and I hit a deer right in the nose with it ( the door)! It's nothing to see a momma and two or three doe walking through our yards, or even down the middle of the street. They are pests, they eat all my perennials and rub up against trees and screw up their bark. Not to mention causing traffic accidents. It's not unusual to see dead ones on the side of the roads or expressways. Rutting season is upon us, and bucks are running amok. Pea brains in a couple hundred pound bodies. Dumb as a rock. And they spaz out Little Black Cat when she sees them while sitting in her window. She wants to kill them.

Nothing more irritating than having one's perennials munched. Kangaroos pose a similar prob in Oz. During dry periods they wander into towns and feed on resident's gardens. "No, no, no! Not my perennials!" Could be worse, ya know. We have large herds of feral camels in Oz.

Where's my kitchen scales? Oh yeah... in PJ. I keep putting stuff in there that I still use in the house. I'm getting carried away. Anyway, so I took the nugget down to PJ, grabbed the scales, and weighed it. A gram or just over. The kitchen scales are not all that accurate down to a gram but close enough. A couple of those each day prospecting would be cool. Problem is, those metal detectors ain't cheap! Not even second hand ones. And I'm not sure how often I would bother prospecting, or be in a suitable area. My main purpose is to see the country, meet people, take photographs, and write a journal.

In any case, to be a successful prospector, you need to be something of a geologist, and to understand how the topography of a particular area might affect the presence of gold. The days of stubbing your toe on a large surface nugget are long gone. Boo hoo!

From the Beeb: In many places you need to pass written and practical tests to get a driving licence - but not in Mexico City. For now, all you need here is a few papers and a bit of cash. To be honest, I'd been putting it off for months. I'd heard it was easy to get a driving licence in Mexico City, but something about the peeling green paint of the Public Ministry offices seemed to epitomise Mexican bureaucracy and paperwork.

The NFL football star Adrian Peterson's child abuse scandal has sparked a national debate in America about spanking children and the growing illegality of certain kinds of "abusive" corporal punishments. In a personal piece, author Stacey Patton describes the complex legacy of corporal punishment in black America.

An Australian hunter says he has survived a crocodile attack - by poking the reptile in the eye. Stephen Moreen, 20, said he waded into water in the Northern Territory to retrieve a goose he had shot when the crocodile grabbed and pulled him under. When the hunter jabbed the 2m-long (6ft 6in) animal in the eye, it let him go. The hunter's cousin then shot the reptile. Mr Moreen admitted he had been "a little bit tipsy" at the time.

Adding sweetened condensed milk to smoothies, I've found, can be a bit of a hassle. It's too sweet to use all of a can so I use half, which means mucking about with measures and storing the remaining half. So the other day at the supermarket I saw small tetra packs of heat-treated, long-life thickened cream. Great for PJ's pantry on the Odyssey, I thought, but also for smoothies. So I bought 4 packs at about $1.50 each. I used one pack in a smoothie and found the cream taste a bit overpowering. So next (this) time I again used one pack but also added a flat tablespoon of brown sugar. Yeah? Brown sugar goes with banana, fruit, cereal and lots of things. Anyway, it works very well... softens the cream taste and ain't too sweet. AND... the cream contains FAT, which is just what I need. Fat, fat, fat, fat. Besides, I'm tired of jumping up and down on the scales to get the needle to move hehe.

I'm actually feeling quite chipper these days despite being so damn skinny. At least the bod is getting lots of nutrition and my energy level has improved vastly on what it was a few months back. Climbing the stairs leading to the lighthouse the other day was no picnic but at least I made it. I figure that will improve on the Odyssey anyway because of regular walking and riding the bike. Living in a house makes you lazy.

Speaking of which, my arm chair is about to get a bum transplant and the telly a bit of a run. Ah, I see that Arianna Huffington, head of the Huffington Post group is being interviewed - that should be interesting. Gary

September 20, 2014. Another weekend already! Here's something posted on the GN forum you may find interesting... stuff you may not have known about Oz.

Gorgeous day here - still a bit fresh in the house but magnifico outside in the sun. Yesterday, I received an email from my ex neighbor in Glebe informing me that my old house is about to get a makeover - an extended top storey with a second bedroom and balcony. I had plans drawn for that very same makeover back in the late '80s but it never happened. Anyway, I no longer pine for that old house. It's history now and my focus is on the future. Next!

Francois wrote: photo prise hier de ma clôture à 10m de ma maison

Translated that means my balls were itchy so I scratched them. Oops! Sorry... my French is atrocious. It means pic taken yesterday from my fence at 10m of my house.

Francois lives in New Caledonia. Venison anyone? Speaking of animals, there was a program on telly about tanneries which were once common in Oz. I remember one just a few blocks from our house and the disgusting smell of the tanning process when the wind blew our way. I used to get offcuts from them to make pouches or whatever. But tanneries gradually went out of business because of cheap imports. One of the very few survivors in Brisbane discovered the superior qualities of kangaroo hide, and became a specialist. Roo leather is tremendously strong and supple, yet thin - ideal for use in sports shoes. The company supplies leading manufacturers such as Adidas, as well as auto manufacturer Audi for the hide's use in its vehicle upholstery. The product is so good, it can be sold at a premium price.

While sitting in PJ enjoying the sun, I read a gold prospecting magazine that accompanied the nugget Larry sent me. Seems the best experienced amateurs can manage is a handful of minus 1 gram nuggets in a week or two of intensive prospecting. Most places have been cleaned out over the years. The mag is crammed from cover to cover by ads for prospecting equipment and/or tours, so it seems that's where the real money is. Hehe. But it's the fun of the hunt and enjoying nature, so they say, that makes prospecting a popular pastime. A bit like fishing. And, of course, the chance, albeit slim, of striking it rich.

I think the Oz price for gold is about $40 a gram. It's reasonable to expect 5 or 6 grams from a week's prospecting so that's a few hundred bucks extra in the kick. Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick.

During the 19th century Palmer River goldrush in rough, inhospitable North Queensland country, one prospector decided to leave the main camp and follow a tributary of the Palmer on his own. Then the wet season came and the waters rose, which cut him off from the main group altogether. By the time he was found months later, he had died of starvation. At his camp, they also found 19 pounds of gold in bags.

Given the scarcity of gold, it's no wonder mining towns like Kalgoorlie are also rare. Kalgoorlie, pop. 30,000,  inland Western Australia, is said to be richest square mile of earth on the planet - a place that's on my Odyssey bucket list for sure. Alan Bond, in his hey day, bought up several old mining leases in the area and turned them all into a huge open pit mine. He's the bloke who sponsored the Australian challenge and America's Cup win in 1983.

From the Beeb: Politicians on both sides of the argument are to consider the best way forward for Scotland in the wake of voters rejecting independence. The SNP is contemplating a change of leadership after First Minister Alex Salmond announced he is to stand down.

Some 49 Turkish hostages seized by Islamic State (IS) in the north Iraqi city of Mosul in June are now back in Turkey, PM Ahmet Davutoglu says. The hostages included diplomats and their families as well as soldiers. They were seized from Turkey's consulate after IS militants seized Mosul in a rapid advance in June. Sucking up to Turkey now - divide and conquer, yes?

Five out of six of Syria's Unesco World Heritage sites have been "significantly" damaged by the country's civil war, satellite image analysis has revealed. Historic structures across the country, including ancient mosques, government buildings and castles show signs of destruction - with some reduced to rubble, researchers from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) say. The only site that appears to remain relatively unscathed is the ancient city of Damascus.

A Muslim academic has opened a gay-friendly mosque in South Africa, despite receiving death threats and fierce criticism from parts of the local Muslim community. Women will also be allowed to lead prayers at Taj Hargey's "Open Mosque" in Cape Town. "We are opening the mosque for open-minded people, not closed-minded people," Mr Hargey told the BBC. He says the mosque will help counter growing Islamic radicalism. Mr Hargey, a professor at the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford in the UK, told the BBC's Newsday programme it was time for a "religious revolution". "In South Africa 20 years ago, there was a peaceful revolution changing from apartheid to democracy and we need to have a similar development in the area of religion," he said. Well said, mate.

As you know, I've been enjoying a big dollop of malt extract on my oats for breakfast every morning, so I thought I'd discovered something new. Yeah, right. Saunders, the brand, has been around for donkey's years, and their web site recommends pouring it over breakfast cereals (although they don't mention oats). They also recommend using it as a spread (it has the consistency of honey), or in baking cakes, biscuits, etc. Saunders originally migrated to Oz from England in 1850. He was a candle stick maker, but teamed up with his father in law, a maltster in a brewery, and went on to become a brewer himself. I'd never heard of Saunders Malt Extract before. The old fashioned logo is a drawing of a little boy in diapers holding up a steel girder one-handed. The malt I normally see at the supermarket is in powder form, mixed with milk solids, and used to make malted milk drinks. Saunders is the real McCoy in 1kg tins, located in the spreads aisle - honey, jam, peanut butter, etc. When I first spotted it some months ago, there were only a few cans available on the bottom shelf - almost out of sight. The other day, stock had grown to about 12 cans but it's still on the bottom shelf. No wonder I'd never heard of it before. However, I've seen it mentioned on a few foodie forums so maybe I'm not the only newbie "discoverer". Powdered supplements just ain't the real deal.

And on that note, it's time for me to think about feeding this old face (which I'm currently doing, actually, with a glass of yoghurt smothered in fresh strawberry puree), and checking out the latest on telly. A cold wind sprung up earlier today and buggered the nice warm weather we were having, dangit. So I'll give the heater a bit of a workout for a while. I'd prefer a campfire but that's a tad impractical at the mo. Pity. Gary

September 19, 2014. Didya miss me yesterday? It was a bit late after arriving home from Port Macquarie and attending to a few chores to update Waffle.

The drive to Port Macquarie for a CT scan of my jaw was uneventful. I arrived on time but it took ages to find Mid North Coast Imaging and I was late for the appointment... but as it happened it didn't matter - the waiting room was full. Following the scan - which was done with one of those radiation tunnel machines that swallows you up horizontally while it takes a 3D image of your bits - the operator gave me a large envelope of the pictures. Huh? What am I supposed to do with these? Forward them to the doc in Sydney? When I got back to Taree, I phoned the doc's office to ask if they'd received copies of the scan electronically. Nope. So they're investigating and will let me know if they want the pictures forwarded or not. Confusion, confusion.

I took the coast road from Port Macquarie back to Taree - at least as far as Laurieton where I joined the Pacific Hwy for the remainder of the trip - and gave the Nikon a bit of a workout. But this time I experimented with a polarizing filter and discovered (after arriving home and checking the images) that darkening the sky overexposes bright subjects like sand and white objects. Not good. So I won't be using the polarizer again except in exceptional circumstances. The filter also causes vignetting when the lens is set at 18mm. Grrrr.

At one location, Lighthouse Beach, I had just finished taking a shot and was walking back to PJ when two young girls on their way to the beach warned me to stay clear of a grassy area a few feet away into which a large brown snake had slithered a few moments beforehand. One of the girls said it was 10 foot long (probably an exaggeration but even so...) and brown. Brown snakes are highly venomous and can be aggressive if provoked. So there ya go... the snake and I had crossed paths but, luckily, not at the same time. The down side is that I didn't get a photo of the critter. Click here for the photo album with captions.

FL Josh wrote: Here is a brief explanation of osteoradionecrosis (my gum condition).

However, on a more somber note, Josh adds: You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life. As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.

I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before for this homeless man. And as I played "Amazing Grace", the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together.

When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full. As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen anything like that before, and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."

Apparently, I'm still's a man thing.

My gold nugget arrived from Larry yesterday so I took a pic today and posted it on the GN forum with a thank you note.

From the Beeb: Scotland has voted to stay in the United Kingdom after voters decisively rejected independence. With 31 out of the country's 32 council areas having declared after Thursday's vote, the 'No' side has an unassailable lead of 1,914,187 votes to 1,539,920. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond called for unity and the unionist parties to deliver on more powers. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he was delighted the UK would remain together and called for national unity.

President Obama has said Congress's backing for his $500m plan to aid moderate Syrian rebels shows the world the US is united against Islamic State. He spoke moments after the US Senate approved his plan, a day after it was passed by the House of Representatives. "The strong bipartisan support in Congress for this new training effort shows the world Americans are united in confronting the threat from Isil."

Police have carried out anti-terrorism raids in Sydney sparked by intelligence reports that Islamist extremists were planning random killings in Australia. PM Tony Abbott said a senior Australian Islamic State militant had called for "demonstration killings", reportedly including a public beheading. The raids, with at least 800 heavily armed officers, led to 15 arrests. One man has been charged with planning an attack. Prosecutors said it involved "gruesomely" killing someone.

It's 75 years since the death of Sigmund Freud, and the words and phrases he popularised are deeply ingrained in popular culture and everyday language. How did Freudian jargon become so widespread? There's the Freud in textbooks. The bearded Viennese polymath who pioneered psychoanalysis. The Freud that academics never tire of arguing about. Then there's the other Freud. The pub Freud. The one you might allude to when you mention dreams, or verbal slips, or someone fancying their mum. His relationship to the first Freud is tangential at best.

Yes, the good ol' Freudian slips... I make them all the time. No worries. Seeya tomorrow. Gary

September 17, 2014. FL Josh wrote: Here's a clip from the movie, "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean," starring Paul Newman as Roy Bean. Here Judge Roy Bean deals with the albino Bad Bob using his own form of fair play.

One thing I noticed about that clip was that the town was built of timber but there wasn't a tree in sight.

As to the cost of housing prisoners, for fiscal year 2012-2013, it cost Florida $47.50 per day to house a prisoner, which included $2.32 for three meals.

The figures for the Dept of Corrective Services in Oz was an average of $207 per day per adult in 2007/8 including Vegemite sandwiches. 70% of the cost of the justice system is spent on policing.

Well, the rent for this house has just been increased by $20 a week to $220, which is the same as we were paying for a 2-bed crappy flat in Petersham, Sydney, 13 years ago. Imagine what that flat is costing now! We did well by moving to Taree. Just had Stan the Lawn Man here to spray the lawn for bindis - millions of the damn things - before they develop little thorns. His wife Sue reckons I shouldn't have the reconstructive surgery on my jaw and "go through the whole thing again" but she doesn't realize what a hassle it is to be toothless. People eat 5 or more times a day, every day, without giving it a second thought. But I do. I think about it all the time. It also affects my speech and communication with other people. I've had enough!

At about this time tomorrow PJ and I will be on our way to Port Macquarie to have my worsening osteoradionecrosis scanned which will determine what the prof says about further reconstructive surgery. That'll be interesting. Then I'll take the long way back to Taree, down the coast road which is a far more scenic and pleasant route for a bit of Nikon snapping.

And guess who turns 6 early next year? Little Anyel, my sponsored child in Nicaragua. He was almost 2 when I first sponsored him and his family, so he's grown quite a bit! Not so little any more. World Vision sent me a card to fill in with a personal greeting and a small gift to return. I've not mentioned anything about my health issues to Anyel or his family. They have enough problems of their own.

Yesterday, I mailed a copy of the letter I sent to Ford here in Taree over a month ago to Ford Australia, advising them that the letter has been ignored, and asking for some kind of head office intervention. If it's not forthcoming, I'll send a copy to Consumer Affairs. Ignoring me is not gonna make me go away hehe. Bugger 'em.

From the Beeb: Both sides in the Scottish referendum debate are making their final pitch to voters on the last day of campaigning. It comes as the latest polls suggested the result remained too close to call, with a slender lead for a "No" vote. First Minister Alex Salmond has written to voters appealing to them to back independence, urging "let's do this". Key figures from the pro-Union Better Together campaign were out meeting nightworkers into Wednesday, ahead of a Love Scotland, Vote No rally. Three new polls, one by Opinium for the Daily Telegraph, another by ICM for the Scotsman and a third by Survation for the Daily Mail, were published on Tuesday evening. With undecided voters excluded, they all suggested a lead for "No" of 52% to 48%. If it ain't broke...

President Barack Obama has called the West Africa Ebola outbreak "a threat to global security" as he announced a larger US role in fighting the virus. "The world is looking to the United States," Mr Obama said, but added the outbreak required a "global response". The measures announced included ordering 3,000 US troops to the region and building new healthcare facilities. Ebola has killed 2,461 people this year, about half of those infected, the World Health Organization said. Yep, it's getting more serious by the week.

The US space agency Nasa has picked the companies it hopes can take the country's astronauts back into space. It is awarding up $6.2bn to the Boeing and SpaceX firms, to help them finish the development of new crew capsules. Since the space shuttles were retired in 2011, the Americans have relied on Russia and its Soyuz vehicles to get to the International Space Station. Boeing and SpaceX should have their seven-person crew ships ready to take over the role by late 2017. Disagreements over Moscow's actions in Ukraine have made the current Soyuz arrangement increasingly unpalatable for Washington. My favorite race, the space race.

A brute among utes: Holden Special Vehicles, "Australia's leading performance car manufacturer", has announced details of a range-topping version of its Maloo pickup. It's called the GTS, and it's actually quite mad. ‘Good' mad, though, and an important bit of news, too. General Motors, which owns Holden, announced at the end of last year that it will stop building cars in Australia by the end of 2017. So this GTS Maloo is the one of the last in a long, fine line of mad V8 utes from Down Under. As such, it gets GM's 6.2-litre supercharged LSA V8 engine, producing a big fat 576 horsepower and 546 pound-feet of torque.

Here's a pic of fuel prices in California, 1941, I found on a newsgroup and posted on the GN forum.

One of the GNs posted a link to Julie Fletcher Photography - an Aussie lady with a passion for taking awesome photographs in and of outback Oz. Check out her web site and read her bio. Stuuuuuning!

The new bloke next door is in the concreting business. Do I need any concrete? Maybe new shoes for Lindsay? And swimming lessons? Anyway, folks, it's time for me to retire for the day... to the arm chair, that is, and a bit of telly followed by blobs of blended sustenance. Oh well... one of these days. Gary

September 16, 2014. I was woken by the brief squeal of brakes followed by a thud this morning at 6. A bloke had rear-ended a box trailer parked in the street across the road... the one owned by Anthony who runs an antenna installation business. The car pushed the trailer onto the footpath, blocking the entrance to Anthony's driveway some meters further down. The car had also mounted the kerb. My guess is the driver was using a mobile phone and lost concentration. There's no way he could have wandered into the kerb lane if he'd been focused on his driving. Luckily, no pedestrians were using the footpath at the time. Yesterday, in Sydney, an unlicensed driver lost control of a car which careered into a bus stop, killing a 16 y/o girl waiting for the school bus, and then carried on through the front of a shop. This craziness has to stop.

OK Mike wrote about his camping trip: The camping trip was a much needed, under appreciated, way too short, time out for me. As a youngster we kids ( brother and sister ) were treated to eight or ten camping trips every summer. Over the years I have lost touch with the good it brings into my life and now have decided to " make room " for more ventures to the great outdoors. To me camping is food for the soul. The food, no matter what it be, always taste better, especially the COFFEE !!!! Blame it on fresh air, twinkling stars or ice cold well water, your choice because I haven't a good reason why this should be. A four dollar can of Dinty Moores beef stew becomes manna when cooked on an open fire in a cast iron skillet. Kim and I noticed , as we sat and visited about our three decades of friendship, how time absolutely flew by while in conversation, just amazing. An additional bonus was that I slept like a babe in mothers arms both nights we were out. I have not slept well since my accident of 20 April 2012 save those two nights. An absolute joy to awaken in the morning and realize I had slept the night through.

Well, there's a recommendation for camping if ever there was one. The GNs often comment on how quickly the time goes when they're chatting around a camp fire. A few have also commented on what a good night's sleep they get. BTW, the bottom pic on the left is Mike and his friend's accommodation and on the the right is the new ablutions block.

Meanwhile, OH Jim and his mate Zach have been busy with the Toyota ute and fixing the timing chain: So he got back at 4 or 5, and started into it out in my detached garage. Zach had an instruction set, so we just went step by step. Except for a break for McDonalds, we worked through until 1 AM. He stayed in a spare bedroom, and the plan was to watch his favorite movie called Gumball Rally, and then get some sleep. We both dozed off in less than 20 minutes sitting on the couch. We were that beat. We didn't wake up until 5 or 6 AM, when I woke up and we went to lay down. Started this morning and by 5PM everything was fixed or restored. After eating out at Frishes ( to let the gasket goop cure some more), we came back home in the soccer mom SUV and we added oil and coolant. Zach fired the engine on the first try, and it ran fine. NOTHING LEAKED!

The next major project is the paint, which I started while Zach was bolting things back. He was happy with how I got shine back to the front fenders. Later I did the hood. Then we ran out of time. He said he isn't going to let Clayton, or Clayton's Dad see the truck until we finish buffing it out all the way.

Yep, it's a wonderful feeling to put all those bits and pieces together and have them running smoothly in sync like a Swiss watch. A great sense of achievement. Machinery, according to an American farmer who migrated to Oz many decades ago and builds/invents his own farm equipment, is a living, breathing thing that, if treated well, will treat you well. He still uses machines he built ages ago, and they still run like clockwork. Anyway, congratulations, bois, sounds like a job well done.

From the Beeb: The US has carried out airstrikes in Iraq in support of troops who were being attacked by Islamic State (IS) fighters, the US military has said. It said that the attacks took place on Sunday and Monday near Mount Sinjar and south-west of Baghdad. They were the first made as part of expanded efforts outlined by US President Barack Obama last week. Meanwhile Iraq has criticised the decision not to invite Iran to an international summit on the IS threat.

Imagine opening the curtains in the morning and instead of grey skies and rain looking out at a rust-coloured rocky panorama. The year is 2045. You have woken up on Mars. If you build it Colonising Mars could happen sooner than you think. Elon Musk plans to build a city there. Nasa wants to send people by 3035. Then there's the Mars One mission, Big Brother for the slightly suicidal.

Mexican independence is officially celebrated on 16 September, but a maverick streak courses through this country of 120m year round. One needn’t look further than the country’s streets for proof. Whether in a heaving megalopolis or a piñon-scented mountain village, México’s motorways are catnip for car-spotters.

Had a bloke come up to PJ today at the Mall car park to say he also owns an old Freeway. He wanted to know how much they weigh, so we chatted for a while. His ute is a V8 Ford Falcon that runs on LPG, which can be a bit of a worry in remote areas. He's also a member of the GN forum (a newbie). His Freeway cost $3000 but it's not refurbished like PJ - still has the old 70s interior. It also doesn't have two awnings like mine, or solar, or storage bins, or a/c, etc. So $4700 for PJ sounds like a pretty good deal!

I'd not heard of Judge Roy Bean before I read this thread on the GN forum. Quite a colorful character, it seems, not to mention poetic.

Actually, that reminds me of arguments for and against the death penalty, and costs associated with housing the prison population. One of the patients who shared the ward with me while I was in hospital for pnemonia recently said that it costs $800 a day to accommodate, feed and treat each patient. Whoa! Thank goodness for Medicare! I don't know what it would cost to house prisoners but I imagine it's a helluva strain on the public purse. Anyway, that's a problem for others to solve, not me.

New tenants are moving in next door (Averil's house) as I write this. Looks like a young couple (or maybe two). There are quite a few people involved in the moving but I can't figure out who's moving in and who's just helping out.  They seem like a respectable mob... no teens or rough necks. They're doing it on the cheap... a huge pile of plastic bags on the front porch, and an old truck delivering the furniture. No shortage of man power though.

And that's it from moi for today. Thanks for popping in, and for your contributions. Gary

September 15, 2014. A couple of GNs are serious photographs and post great images. Here's one who posted some pics of wildflowers.

Imagine the limitless variety of photographic subjects there are "out there"... something new every day. My Nikon will be kept busy for sure, and my learning curve is gonna go from a gentle slope to almost vertical. There's a helluva lot I need to learn and I can't think of a better way than to take lots of pics every day.

Speaking of photos, one of the pics I took in Sydney was just featured by Boats, Beaches and Bays on Red Bubble. What a nice thing to come home to after having Andries and Anna poking about in my oral cavity at the dental clinic.

From the Beeb: At the turn of the 20th Century, life was incredibly difficult for the African-American community in the southern states of the US. But one self-taught photographer used his camera to challenge racial barriers and capture the diversity of the American South. "I did not know my grandfather but I am very proud that he was able to capture these people in pictures - whether they were black or white, rich or poor, farmers or businessmen," says Martha Sumler.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is spending a week governing the country from a remote indigenous community in the Northern Territory. He arrived in Arnhem Land on Sunday, honouring an election promise to spend a week every year in an indigenous area. Mr Abbott says he wants to hear from local people about community needs. His visit comes a day after he committed Australian troops to the fight against Islamic State.

Several Arab countries have offered to take part in air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq, US officials say. But any action is subject to approval from the Iraqi government, they add. US Secretary of State John Kerry says he is "extremely encouraged" by promises of military assistance to tackle the extremist group. He spoke in Paris after a whirlwind tour of the Middle East trying to drum up support for action against IS. France is due to host an international conference on Monday about Iraqi security and tackling IS.

A woman in her 80s punched a robber in the face, causing him to run off. The woman was walking her dog in Whitstable, Kent, when she was grabbed in an alleyway by a man dressed in black and wearing a hooded top. She fought off her attacker by punching him in the mouth. Kent Police say they are looking for a suspect with an injured face. Det Ch Insp Paul Fotheringham, of Kent Police, said: "It appears the suspect has picked on the wrong person." Good onya granny.

I've witnessed a couple of street bag-snatchings over the years. One was in the city with the young robber pinned to the footpath by a couple of men who had chased him and brought him down. The kid was whimpering and saying he didn't mean it and that it was all a mistake. Yeah, right. Gutless asshole. Another was in a open air restaurant area packed with lunchtime diners at North Sydney. Suddenly, a woman screamed "my bag, he's got my bag!" and blokes came from everywhere, tackled the young thief, and held him until the cops arrived. I have no sympathy for thieves. None. Which makes me wonder what my great, great grandparents did to deserve being shipped to Australia as convicts. Mind you, in those days it didn't take much to find yourself on the wrong side of the the law, and there was a lot of misery amongst the poor and working class.

I can remember stealing threepence as a kid of about 4 or 5 y/o from another kid in the class. It was school fete day and I didn't have any money to spend on goodies. Somehow, an opportunity to steal the other boy's threepence must have presented itself because the next thing I remember was being asked by the boy if I stole his coin. I responded by saying it was mine because I recognized a scratch on it. Where that excuse came from I have no idea but it saved my hide.

In any case, I've had the guilts all my life about that episode - plus a few more. Then, when I was in my early teens, I discovered how marvelously rewarding it felt to be honest. A shopkeeper gave me too much change after I'd purchased some sweets. I didn't notice the extra money until I'd left the shop, but immediately returned to explain the oversight and hand back the extra change. The shopkeeper was delighted and couldn't thank me enough. His gratitude made me feel 10 feet tall and very proud of myself.

Nonetheless, Karma intervened at various intervals during the following years and sought retribution for my former childhood "sins". A number of times I was myself the victim of theft, including losing everything I owned, even my professional reputation and self respect, after getting mixed up with my former business partner in a failed enterprise. But all that is in the past and no longer fazes me. *shrug*

I'm not sure I believe 100% in karma but I'd like to think it exists. When I read this morning about golfer Greg Norman's accident with a chain saw that almost severed his right hand, I thought about the time he killed a great white shark off the coast of Port Lincoln, SA, that ultimately cost me my little house in Glebe. Hmmm. And I'm sure if I heard about my former biz partner being run over by a bus, I wouldn't be in any great hurry to sent a sympathy card. It's not that I seek revenge or wish harm to anyone, but if something unfortunate happens to occur to people who've treated me badly... well.

That's all a bit dark, isn't it. Fancy me after all these years owning up to stealing threepence. Gary

September 14, 2014. Fantastic day! Sunny and 25C. I spent a little time in PJ doing the usual... thinking about being camped somewhere. *sigh* OK Mike has been camping with a friend... "decompressing" and enjoying life under the stars (or canvas), and cooking up rib-eye steaks and camp baked potatoes. Have you noticed food tastes so much better outdoors in natural surroundings? Maybe it's the fresh air or the smell of the bush that stimulates the appetite.

OH Jim is still feeling stiff and sore after the accident. The insurance company has provided him with a loan car while his Mustang is being repaired. It's a Ford Flex SUV (whatever that is). After the Mustang, it feels like a bus... this thing is really big. I know I will get use to it, I did drive a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee, but this thing is huge. And quiet as a church. NO NOISE what so ever. I think I will be ok in it, but for just me, it is over kill. I was pulling Zach's leg, when I told him I was getting a Corvette. When I came clean with him, he wasn't thrilled with the Flex, calling me a wanna be "soccer mom". Zach calls women who drive really big SUVs or mini-vans soccer moms, because they drive really slow and usually have the their vehicles full of kids going to soccer practice, and are talking on a cell phone.

Yep, we have them here too... large 4WDs built for the outback or rough terrain but used instead by city mothers to take the kids to school or do the shopping. You rarely see them with a speck of dirt.

From the Beeb: The murder of David Haines was an "act of pure evil", David Cameron has said after the release of a video appearing to show the UK hostage's beheading. The 44-year-old aid worker, from Perth, was kidnapped in Syria in 2013. He was being held by Islamic State militants who have already killed two Americans. The latest video also includes a threat to kill a second British hostage. The PM vowed to do everything possible to find the killers. Mr Haines's family said he would be "missed terribly".

Australia says it is sending 600 troops to the Middle East ahead of possible combat operations against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the deployment, initially to the United Arab Emirates, was in response to a specific US request. Nearly 40 countries, including 10 Arab states, have signed up to a US-led plan to tackle the extremist group. France is hosting a regional security summit on Monday.

How long is the average tongue? Californian Nick Stoeberl has just taken over as holder of the world record for the longest tongue. His measures 10.1cm (about 4in) from the tip to the middle of the closed top lip. How does this compare with the average person's tongue, asks Clare Spencer.

Lizards have long tongues. They regularly clean their eyes by licking them. And frogs can zap a fly from a foot away or whatever. And what about hummingbirds?

A "piecemeal" World War III may have already begun with the current spate of crimes, massacres and destruction, Pope Francis has warned. He was speaking during a visit to Italy's largest military cemetery, where he was commemorating the centenary of World War I. "War is madness," the Pope said at a memorial to 100,000 Italian soldiers at Redipuglia cemetery near Slovenia. The Argentine Pope has often condemned the idea of war in God's name.

Frank's right, war is madness. And if human beings weren't such utter dickheads, it wouldn't keep happening with monotonous regularity. Question: How do you stop dickheads from being dickheads?

What does an aurora look like from space? This and the most impressive pictures from the worlds of science and technology this week, including an amazing aurora and a Mexican moonscape.

Who amongst us has the most hair? FL Josh, OH Jim, OK Mike, TX Greg, OH Jace, Steve W...? According to QI the other night, we all have the same amount, at least the same amount of hair follicles. Those of us with seemingly less hair, have microscopic hair, but hair nonetheless. As a matter of bloody fact, we may appear less hairy than chimpanzees but we have the same number of hair follicles as they do. Shorter arms, though. Hehe.

Another "quite interesting" item I heard on QI was that the puritans didn't leave Britain on the Mayflower to settle in Massachusetts to escape religious persecution. It was the opposite reason. They wanted to impose their religious beliefs on all new settlers in America. Stephen Fry told one story about an unfortunate man during those puritan days who happened to have only one eye. To make it worse, he was just plain ugly. One day, a pig he owned gave birth to a litter. One of the piglets also had only one eye and looked remarkably like its owner. The local puritans accused the man of having "lain" with the beast and charged him accordingly. During questioning, he denied the charge, so they told him that if he confessed, he would be shown mercy. Thinking that he would escape the death penalty by confessing, he admitted to the crime - despite its absurdity - of having "lain" with a beast. Then he was told that it was God who would be showing him mercy, and not them. So they went ahead and put him to death. The pig, who had acted as a witness during the trial, was also put to death. What exactly the pig's evidence for the prosecution was, isn't known. Perhaps it winked at the accused or something.

In any case, those puritans and their whacky ideas were a bit of a worry. Even today, in this supposedly enlightened age, there are still many religious fanatics practicing their beliefs in the US and elsewhere. Religious fanatics are the kind of people who reject such facts as humans and chimps sharing the same number of hair follicles. They want nothing to do with evolution or scientific fact. Humans are god's special and unique creation, totally separate from all other living things, and destined for either an eternity in heaven or hell. Amen.

In my opinion, this idea of being separate from the rest of nature, of being elevated to a higher status, of having a special destiny, is the root of all evil. To me it's all related to ego - mankind's belief in its own superiority - the notion that humanity should be rewarded for simply existing. But that's just me. Billions would disagree. That's cool.

Well, I hope I don't feel guilty about tucking into my pastrami tonight hehe. Poor thing... but it's all for a good cause. Been a lovely warm day so no need for the heater as the sun begins to set. Gary

September 13, 2014. OH Jim wrote: There was a BBC TV show about fate that aired here in the US in the late 70's-early 80's. I think it was called Connections? I can't remember the guy who hosted it, but I found the premise very interesting. How someone doing something causes someone else to do yet something else, which caused something else to happen. Same thing here with all of us on Waffle.

One thing leads to another? Well yesterday I posted a note on the GN forum about my situation with the gum and teeth issue, and the operation. So, lo and behold, a bunch of well-wishers responded, including a retired bank manager who's now a full time prospector travellng Oz in search of gold. I've always wanted to meet a real, true blue, fair dinkum prospector, so outta the blue, this bloke invites me to join him on a prospecting expedition when I'm well and living the Nomad life. He reckons I'll be his good luck charm. So I responded by saying how thrilled and appreciative I am at such an offer, which was totally unexpected. But even more unexpected was what followed:

Gary, PM me your postal address mate and this "lucky" gold nugget will be winging its way to you on a little case so you can't lose it.....keep it with you during the next 6 months for luck then I figure you may wish to get your dental man to implant on your new plate as one of your front teeth.?!?'ve no doubt heard the expression...."he's as flash as a Rat with a gold tooth"......

I call it the "lucky" nugget because I found it in W.A. in a former creek bed right next to a very large Brown Snake skin....and when I bent down after detecting the nugget to dig, I hadn't seen the snake skin, and I jumped 6' in the air when I saw it as I thought the skin was still occupied......! I trust it brings you every luck too's nowhere near as big as the caring this Forum has for you......Hoo Roo

One thing leads to another, yes? Who woulda thunk I'd be the proud recipient of a gold nugget for posting a message on the forum? There ya go. Stay tuned for the journal entry and pics of the day Goldie and I go prospecting somewhere in Oz. How cool will that be?

Jim also says his neck, shoulder and back are sore from the car accident but otherwise he's okay. Moreover, as it happens, Jim has something in common with OK Mike: I had a 2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1 that was tail ended while in Ft Worth, this is when and where my neck issues began . It took nine years before that injury showed its face and ultimately required surgical fusion to remedy. Of course they fixed the rear end damage and had my car like new in just a few weeks . Cars are really simple to fix or even replace, but once something interferes with your health it's hell to pay getting it back .

As to your up coming procedure, hooooorayyy, now may be you can get somewhere. Not that the surgeon will give you a choice as to where they will harvest the required tissue for transplant. I will tell you this ( recent experience ) DO NOT let them take it from your hip point !!!!!! That's where they harvested the tissue for my cervical fusion and let me tell you this - It hucking furt !!!! To this very moment the slightest bump into anything nearly takes me to my knees. The pain surpasses that of the operation a hundred fold, and I was told this prior to being put under.

Thanks for the tip, Mike. Josh reckons it'll come from the ribs. Anyway, I'll ask before they wheel me into the boning room. Speaking of Josh...

FL Josh wrote: You commented, "I hear from Francois that he has terminal cancer and he's not yet 60. My younger bro was another critic but he died at 61." What in the world does that have to do with my suggestion that you tell your doctor about your smoking and alcohol consumption so he can make accurate decisions as to your treatment?

I give up, Josh. Does it matter whether or not it relates to your suggestions? Maybe a crash course in Irish Logic might help.

Here is a video that shows what a CT scan of your jaw will be like. My dentist has this equipment and scanned me and it is a piece of cake. What they get is unbelievable, a 3D image that they can rotate around and look at from any angle and much more.

"Rotate around" is tautology, Josh. Tsk, tsk. Incidentally, the place where I'll have the scan is Mid North Coast Imaging, Hermitage Medical Center, Lake Rd, Port Macquarie next to the private hospital. It's not far from the waterfront so I'll potter around with the Nikon afterwards. Maybe take the coastal road back to Taree rather than the highway (which is boring).

From the Beeb: Memory specialist SanDisk has created an SD card with 512 gigabytes (512GB) of storage space - the highest capacity ever released. The card, which is the size of a postage stamp, will go on sale for $800 (£490). The launch comes a decade after the firm released a 512-megabyte (MB) SD card with one-thousandth of the space.

The US Navy is continuing to search for a missing pilot, after two of its jets crashed into the western Pacific Ocean, a spokesman has said. The F/A-18C Hornets were operating off the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson when they came down. One pilot was rescued and is receiving medical attention aboard the ship. A search effort is underway to find the second, the navy said. The two jets, which cost $57m (£35m) each, have not been recovered. The cause of the incident is under investigation, the navy said in a statement.

Tucked in a corner of Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow airport, the future of urban mobility is quietly unfolding. Since 2011, on a closed course between the terminal and the Business Car Park, 2.4 miles away, a fleet of 21 diminutive passenger pods have ferried as many as 1,000 passengers each day, quietly logging well more than 1m autonomous miles in the process. It’s a small-scale experiment, commissioned by Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited and built by UK-based Ultra Global PRT (for Personal Rapid Transit), but its success – measured by cost savings, environmental impact and user-friendliness – may help define locomotion in the city of tomorrow.

The latest US-made Lockheed Martin F35 fighter jets are on Oz's shopping list but there's dissension in the ranks by peeps who say Russian-built fighters are better and cheaper. I wonder if those two American fighter jets crashing into the ocean will stir the pot here.

And here we is again, time for the telly and to rustle up a bit of dinner... pastrami, veg and lots of gravy! I also bought two punnets of fresh strawberries so I'll have some of those with yoghurt for desssert. Gary

September 12, 2014. The problem with leaving one season behind and heading into another is that the seasons get a little confused. Summery yesterday, cool and cloudy today. It's a bit like turning 70, I suppose. Not quite sixties but also not quite seventies. Hehe.

FL Josh wrote to say the photos of Balmain were good and the captions added so much extra to the experience. He also couldn't help lecturing me about my bad habits again. The last bloke who did that gave up after a while, and even got mad at me, and now I hear from Francois that he has terminal cancer and he's not yet 60. My younger bro was another critic but he died at 61.

Speaking of rellos, my mother's mother was a bit of a rebel. I didn't know her very well but remember that she used to travel a bit. In her old age, she lived in a caravan at my aunt's place. She also lived at our place for a while, at first in a caravan in the back yard, and then in a small room at the rear of the house that used to be my father's printing room. He had a hand-operated machine that printed copperplate business cards, one at a time. Thick ink was applied manually to the copper plate, then the excess wiped off with white powder and a rag. The cards had raised lettering and were very expensive. Customers were doctors, lawyers, etc. The large spoked wheel on the left side of the machine that operated the roller looked like a ship's helm. Anyway, my grandmother didn't stay long. She moved into a nursing home with her own room. It was the same home at which my mother lived during her final years.

But it occurred to me the other day that maybe I have something in common with my grandmother because I certainly don't have anything in common with the rest of the family. I was about 12 when she gave me a copy of They're A Weird Mob which is the only gift from her that I remember receiving. In fact, it's the only time I remember having any kind of communication with her. Maybe she recognized something in me that prompted her to give me the book. I've never been much of a reader but I enjoyed reading that one, and readily identified with its characters.

So I must give my older bro a call and ask him what he remembers of our grandmother. He was 14 when I was born so his recollections would be far more detailed than mine. My grandfather on my mother's side worked for a printing company and was a regular gambler. I remember my mother saying that one week the family would be poor and the next they'd be rich. My gran had to squirrel money away to get them through the poor weeks. So it seems like he was a bit of a rebel too. He died in his 60s before I was born. Gran was 90 when she died.

So there ya go. Maybe my wayward ways and wickedness can be explained after all.

Phoned my older bro. Turns out he didn't know our grandma very well either. However, he did say that our gran was one of 4 daughters of Irish convicts shipped to Tasmania by the Brits. Ah, so that explains why my gran used to travel to Tasmania from time to time. My mother had mentioned Tasmania once or twice but NEVER anything about our convict heritage. Hehe. No wonder my mother was always trying to elevate herself socially, and had a thing about owning a house. Her parents could never afford one because of her dad's gambling.

There was a science show on telly last night about an ancient mummy at an Aussie museum that was a gift many decades ago. It had always been a mystery because the cloth wrapping had never been disturbed. But now with CT computerized 3-dimensional scanning (like the scan I'll be getting next week at Port Macquarie), "peeling" away the layers of wrapping is possible, with all the details available on screen. Now I understand what the prof wants to see. He'll be able to look through my jawbone to assess its condition.

FL Jim wrote to say that his friend who recently turned over a new leaf has gone back to the booze. It doesn't surprise me. For some people, the greatest obstacle to enacting change is the here and now. For them, there is no future. They can't see beyond their current situation or craving. Or refuse to. Warnings about where they're headed go unheeded because they apply to a time they refuse to acknowledge. If it doesn't relate to the here and now, don't bug me.

For some people, self is insufficient motivation. They need to make changes for someone else's sake. Someone they love and care about. Josh's friend has gone beyond caring about himself.

Meanwhile, OH Jim was involved in a car accident on his way to work: I was about 1.5 miles away from my house, fixing to get on I-71 South at Montgomery Road. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I can remember is sitting in the driver's seat, both air bags had gone off, and some lady was yelling at me " are you ok????" over and over again. I somehow ran into the back of her big SUV. I have no clue what happened. All I knew was my head was swimming and my neck and right shoulder hurt like hell.

After reading that, I was expecting Jim to tell me that his Mustang was totalled. But no. They took me to the ER at Bethesda North hospital. Long story short, they x-rayed my entire body and then did an MRI on my skull. Nothing was broken and they confirmed that I did have a brain, intact.

Zach arrived at the hospital to get me by which time I was released with some pain pills and muscle relaxers. I was warned that by tomorrow morning I would be really sore, and that I would be that way for a few days.

On the way home, Zach and I went to the tow company and signed some paper work to release the car to the body shop. All in all, my car suffered minor damage to the body. Nothing crumpled and the only body damage is a broken bracket that held the head lights in place on the drivers side. The engine started right up when Zach started it up. Of course, both air bags deployed, and that is going to be the major issue. The sheriff's deputy said the lady I hit was OK, and the there was no damage to her car.

As I write this it just struck me as to how this must have been like for Cody. Everything just ended in a blink of an eye. He probably never knew what hit him. Of course he was hurt a lot worse than I was, and he never woke up like I did. But it is so weird, totally not remembering anything of the accident. And waking up to a lady screaming at me. It is so sudden. I have no idea how long I was out.

Very strange indeed. A cabin full of airbags, a woman screaming, you banged up, and all with minor damage to the Mustang and none to the SUV. Has anyone mentioned the possibility of a blackout? I had one a few years ago and ended up getting a brain scan which was negative. No brain. Hehe. Nah... it was an abberation. Never happened before and probably never will again. Anyway, Jim, you're okay and have a few days off work. Coulda been worse.

As to Cody not knowing what hit him, it's the lead-up to the crash that I try not to think about... the high speed, a crazy driver (drunk, drugged or both) and the inevitability of it all. Unless Cody was dozing, of course. He'd had a few beers after work with his mates so hopefully he was blissfully unaware of what was occurring before the crash.

But your experience reminds me of friend whose car clipped another, spun a couple of times and rolled. When everything came to a halt, he said it was like a dream... surreal... like it never happened and that everything would somehow magically revert to how it was before the accident. He said he had no memory of the crash either.

BTW, that mummy was killed by a long curved sword that sliced off part of his arm, cutting into the bone and severing an artery or two. He was also struck across the face, smashing his cheekbone. He was an otherwise healthy and muscular specimen in his 30s with all his teeth in good condition. Probably a professional warrior. Using 3D imaging, they made a reconstruction of his skull which then had "flesh" attached by a forensic artist using modeling clay. It was soooo spooky to see that life-like reconstruction of a person who lived thousands of years ago. He had a prominent, broad hooter and looked somewhat Neanderthaloid, but not unattractive if ya know what I mean. I think they said he was from about 50BC.

From the Beeb: The CIA says the Islamic State (IS) militant group may have up to 31,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria - three times as many as previously feared. A spokesman said the new estimate was based on a review of intelligence reports from May to August. IS has seized vast swathes of Iraq and beheaded several hostages in recent months, leading to US airstrikes.

Australia has raised its terrorism threat level from medium to high, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced. The move comes in response to growing concern over the domestic impact of militant conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Security officials were concerned by the growing number of Australians "working with, connected to or inspired by" Islamist groups, Mr Abbott said.

The judge in the trial of Oscar Pistorius is due to announce if the South African athlete is guilty of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend. Judge Thokozile Masipa cleared him of murder on Thursday, saying the state had failed to prove he intended to kill the model Reeva Steenkamp last year. But the judge said his conduct on the night in question had been negligent.

On the telly news last night, they said there were so many journalists from all over the world at the trial of Pistorius that they couldn't all fit into the designated areas of the courtroom(s). They said the trial had attracted enormous world-wide interest. Oh really? It's been boring the pants off of me.

Buckingham Palace has made it clear that the Queen does not wish to influence the Scottish referendum, saying it is "a matter for the people of Scotland". But would the Queen's role north of the border change if Scotland votes for independence? The Royal Family's links with Scotland are well-known: Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire is one its most famous residences, bought for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert. The Queen spends a week every year at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.

Something pretty major is going on south of here. I've heard about six sirens during the last 5 or so minutes... cops, ambos, fire trucks, the works. And here comes another one.

In Love & Mercy, the Beach Boy’s life is given similar treatment to Bob Dylan’s in I’m Not There. Owen Gleiberman gives his verdict. The allure of a big-screen biographical drama is simple and almost childlike: in our dream scenario, we're not just watching a movie – we're stepping into a time machine until we're in the presence of Abe Lincoln, Jim Morrison or Mozart. When you watch Love & Mercy, a drama about Brian Wilson, the angelic yet haunted genius of The Beach Boys, you feel like you're right there in the studio with him as he creates Pet Sounds. And it's a little like sitting next to Beethoven: the film is tender and moving, but also awe-inspiring. Now there's a movie I gotta see!

I'm not sure whether it was Lennon or McCartney from the Beatles who said it, but one of them (or maybe both) said The Beach Boys was the best band in the world.

There goes yet another siren, probably a vehicle from another town assisting. I suspect there's a big pile-up on the Pacific Hwy south of here and rescue vehicles from miles around have been called into action. Nothing on the radio, though.

Now, what does pizza have to do with timing chains? OH Jim reveals all: So Zach's kit was only $89 ( timing chain, gaskets, new bolts, new water and oil pumps included!), a shop manual and a 5 quarts of oil and a few additional gaskets included for $52. The anti-freeze I had in stock, so I donated it to the project. Labor is mostly free, thanks to Clayton and Zach. Mostly because feeding two teenage boys isn't cheap. I figure maybe a couple of large pizza's delivered will cost around $40 every 4-5 hours. I figured that I will be fronting that part, since in addition to being two eating machines, the boys are traditionally broke, or close to it.

Yep, brings back memories of my youth. Always starving and always broke. Jim also mentioned Zach's father who has a basement full of tools including welding equipment and a full-blown professional industrial grade machine shop. Why? Because he can! He's divorced and single hehe. Earlier today, when I was talking to my bro on the phone, there was a pause in the convo while he said something to his wife. He returned to explain that she was cranky about whatever, and then said, "You're lucky to be single." Hehe. My response was, I used to think that I was missing out on something, but not now.

Actually, I think that dangly bit has a lot to answer for. Once it starts being used for activities unrelated to peeing that's when all the trouble starts. What was it that Robin Williams said about a bloke's blood rushing from his brain to his penis and only having enough blood to make one work? That about sums it up, I reckon.

Well, today's Waffle certainly makes up for yesterday's shorty. Plenty of time today and no interruptions. Plus plenty of contributions, including my bro making it official that we're all related to Irish rogues and scallywags, the kind of people who gave Australia its unique and colorful culcha. No worries, mate. She'll be roite. Mind you, my mother would not agree but I suspect her mother would hehe. And that's probably why she gave me a copy of They're A Weird Mob. It's all making sense now. Gary

September 11, 2014. Dunno where the time went today. It's after 4pm already. Been a gorgeous day though, almost like summer. Did the shopping, paid the bills, went to Medicare, and buggerized around with this and that.

Also had a slow internet connection which made online transactions almost impossible at times... like posting the Balmain photo album. But it finally got through with captions intact. Some pretty interesting shots there too.

Julie from the prof's office phoned to say she's booked me in for a CTC scan at Port Macquarie next Thursday at 11am. So it's all happening folks.

And on the subject of teeth implants, TX Greg wrote: Well that suxs on the jaw part, but cool that they want to do the permanent implants on the lower. A short vid showing how they do that...

Thanks Greg. That's pretty interesting! Imagine all that screwing at my age! Glad you didn't send a vid of the entire operation though... eeek! I wonder what part of my bod they're gonna take bone from to transplant? No bone jokes please. When I had the cancer operation, they used a big slice of my right arm to transplant into my neck under the chin. Sheesh. Fair dinkum, sometimes I feel like the stunt man from a horror movie.

OH Jim has been telling me about Zach and his $500 Toyota ute. They discovered timing chain problems. Oops! That's a BIG job! I had it done on Bluey a couple of years ago and it cost a bomb... which turned out to be a total waste of money cos the vehicle was unsuitable for the Odyssey and I ended up selling it for peanuts after spending a fortune on various repairs. I've spent a bit on PJ too but that's different cos she's SUITABLE. Zach, by the way, is doing the job himself with help from a mate or two using a kit he bought. Very sensible. And he doesn't mind a bit of grease under the fingernails. Furthermore, between them they know what they're doing... which helps. Roite?

Speaking of accents, there was a Japanese mother and young son across the aisle from me on the train from Sydney. After a while I noticed him speaking with an American accent. He was about 8 or 9 and quite articulate. One time he asked his mother if she would recognize "ours (station) when you see it". I noticed that all the letters in "ours" were articulated individually, including the 'r', as opposed to an Aussie pronouncing it "owz" hehe. Anyway, he sounded like a smart kid.

Sorry about the shortie today, boils and goils but time has flown and I gotta git. I hope you enjoy the pics of Balmain and Sydney. It was a sunny and bright morning which is reflected in the Harbor waters and some of the buildings. One of my favs is the bloke walking across a zebra crossing with the Walk Sign going in the opposite direction. Gary

September 10, 2014. I wanted something definite from the prof yesterday and that's what I got. Seems that the medication - oxpentifylline and mega doses of vitamin E - didn't do the job. It was a trial anyway. My exposed bone is getting worse (more of it now than there was last time he saw it 6 months ago) and he suggests there's a danger of my jaw fracturing.. Sooooooo, first thing is to have a CTC scan done, which he's organizing, and if it reveals what he already suspects, then I'm in for another operation... a serious one. 10 hours in surgery, 2 weeks in hospital and 6 months recovery, probably using a food tube for much of that time. Bone from another part of my body will be implanted into my jaw, and new teeth will be inserted into the bone. I'll have "real" teeth in the bottom and an upper plate. But at least it does away with uncertainty and provides a timeline. If it happens fairly soon, I'll be ready to rock and roll by about next March/April.

I was quite chuffed with the idea even though it means 6 months of crap again. His assistant said most patients are horrified by the idea of a bone implant and that it was strange to see me accepting it quite willingly. Yeah, well it's the result I'm focusing on. TEETH!

I'd forgotten how hilly Balmain is near the foreshore, and decided not to tackle most of the area. I took a few pics and then boarded the ferry again for a bit of tour around the Harbor and back to the city where I took more pics. Then a bus ride to Newtown and the prof's office. Then a cab back to the railway station and Taree.

I spent a fair bit of time today organizing the pics from yesterday and naming them, but it's too late now to assemble them into an album. Besides, my connection is slow. I'll put the album together tomorrow. I've also been doing a few other time consuming chores.

Meanwhile, FL Josh wrote about an acquaintance of his who's grossly overweight, smokes like a chimney and drinks like a fish: He went out today and bought a bunch of healthy food, lots of produce. He also said he is going to try to quit smoking. Then he said he is worried because he has a patch on the back of his throat that he noticed about a month ago and he has gargled with different things trying to get it to clear up but it is still there. I thought, "Oh, oh." He is only 49 years old. I told him he needs to get that checked ASAP. He said he is scared.

Being scared doesn't help. The only way to solve a problem is to face it head on. He's developed a habit of living in denial with all that bad stuff he's been doing to his body. And denial ain't gonna make that patch go away. Neither will gargling potions or eating mountains of turnips. It needs to be removed surgically like mine was. And I'm still here. The chances of surviving an operation like that these days is excellent. The recovery phase is a pain in the ass but I reckon if it hadn't been for the exposed bone prob I developed, I would have been okay ages ago.

The trick with healthy food is to do lots of research on the internet for good recipes - ones that TASTE good. Eating should be enjoyable not a chore. When you start to choose healthy foods because they TASTE great, you've got the junk problem licked.

Josh also sent some links to early model Ford utes and pickups. And also some early Chrysler models.

Not to be outdone, and being a ham radio tragic, OH Jim sent this info: By 1935, political unrest in Europe and the Pacific Rim made the need for advanced radio technology a high priority for the military. The U.S. Navy sought bids with less than three months notice for an advanced high performance receiver. The National Company's high-tech ham receiver would meet the requirements with some modifications. None the less, completing a prototype based on a radio not yet in production, in such short time, would be a challenge. The engineers nicknamed it the "HRO," which stood for "Hell of a Rush Order." The name stuck. The National HRO receiver met the deadline, and outperformed the competition.

One thing's for sure, there's nothing like a war to incentivize a little extra creativity.

Anyway, I've run outta time, ladies and genitals. It's been one of those days where things haven't gone as smoothly as one would like, and we all know about days like that! Gary

September 8, 2014. I think it was the Babylonians who divided the day into 24 hours, 12 in the am and 12 in the pm. But it's possible to divide the day into anything you like. How about a digital day? 20 hours a day instead of 24, 10 in the am and 10 in the pm - 100 minutes an hour instead of 60? They were talking about that on QI the other night but I don't think anyone is in a hurry to change the status quo.

When Oz went decimal in 1966, 12 pence (pennies) in a shilling became 10 cents. 100 cents became a dollar or half a pound (10 shillings) and a pound became 2 dollars. I think they were toying with the idea of calling it the 'royal' but finally settled on calling it the dollar. It was all a bit confusing at first. Everything seemed to double in price until we got used to the idea of 2 dollars being equal to 1 pound. My first Beetle in 1965 was 950 pounds, brand new off the showroom floor. The following year it was $1900.

A few years later we went from imperial measurements to metric. I was on the air then and had to give temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. That particular radio station also experimented with digital time calls but the audience kicked up a stink and we went back to analogue. One thing that still confuses me is the American style of dating, month/day/year, so I spell out the month instead of using a number.

Speaking of am, at 1.30 tomorrow morning I'll be aboard the XPT on the way to Sydney to spend most of the day there, returning mid afternoon and arriving back at Taree at 8pm. According to the forecast, it'll be most cloudy, dry and 22C so that'll be good. A bit of cloud means better photographs and less glare.

OH Jim wrote: You mentioned about not sharing anything in common with your Dad. That seems strange in a way. Nothing? No common interest? With me it was baseball and later cars. With my brother it was motorcycles. Cody and his Dad had surfing. Zach and his Dad have all the things they are involved with.

My dad and I did have one thing in common. Neither of us was interested in sport. However, it's a bit difficult to share a non-interest hehe. He was into cars but I wasn't until my teens. Even then I wasn't interested in the mechanical aspect. He was a qualified wireless (radio) technician (but chose not to make it his living) whereas I was more interested in what came out of radios rather than what went into them. But more than that, my dad wasn't a communicative type of person... a man of very few words. Family conversation at the dinner table of a night was zero.

I don't blame my father for being who or what he was. Any affect his nature may have had on me is not an issue. I never knew either of my grandfathers by the way. They both died before I was born.

From the Beeb: A small asteroid about the size of a house is passing Earth, US space agency Nasa says. At its closest point, the asteroid 2014 RC passed over New Zealand at 18:18 GMT on Sunday. It is about 18m (60ft) wide. Nasa says it is about 40,000km (25,000 miles) away, and posed no danger to Earth. However, a meteorite that landed near the Nicaraguan capital Managua on Sunday could have come from the asteroid, experts there said. The object caused an explosion and earth tremor, leaving a crater 12m (39ft) across and 5m deep near the city's airport.

US President Barack Obama is to set out his "game plan" against Islamic State militants in a speech on Wednesday. Mr Obama, who has been criticised for failing to outline a strategy, told NBC TV the US would degrade IS, shrink their territory and "defeat them". US jets bombed IS targets in western Iraq for the first time on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Arab League has vowed to take "all necessary measures" against IS, which has seized a huge amount of territory from Iraq and Syria.

My mother would have been mortified to see a news item on telly last night about what they're teaching kids in Japan. The class was about poo. Plastic facsimiles of human poo were on display... different shapes and textures. Modeling clay was given to the kids who were asked to fashion a poo that looked like the last one they did. They were also taught about the uses of treated poo as fertilizer for growing vegetables. One little girl said, "I didn't like poo before but now I like it."

So there ya go. I've long considered treated effluent piped out to sea as wasted waste, if ya know what I mean. It would be much more practical to pipe it inland to deserts and other arid areas to improve soils so that barren landscapes can be turned into useful farmland. Everything in nature is designed to be recycled, including poo.

It's been a while since I checked out the GN thread that invites people to post pics of their rigs, so I had a peek today. Almost all the rigs are new or near new caravans or motorhomes that make mine look like it belongs to Fred Flintstone hehe. I hope they don't get all snotty when I park PJ near them. When I see the size of most of those vans though, there's no way I'd tow one. They look terribly clumsy to me, as well as dangerous. There's a possibility I might buy one for permanent living when the Odyssey is over, however vans are giving way to cabins in parks for permanent residents these days. And they ain't cheap to rent!

But that's something I'll worry about when the time comes... if it comes. I might cark it with my Odyssey boots still on.

The trouble with vans is they look like tin sheds on the outside despite their sumptuous interiors. Caravan (trailer) parks can't help resembling shanty towns somewhat, especially when they're all packed in like sardines. I remember John Steinbeck in his book Travels with Charley (his large poodle) visiting a trailer park and being most impressed with one that belonged to a couple he had befriended. He was surprised to discover that it featured all the mod cons of the era (the '60s).

So it'll be interesting to be a member of the itinerant sub-culture and to experience the way we're treated by 'normal' society. It's gonna be a whole new way of life. Gary

September 7, 2014. Yes, my speech therapist. To answer FL Josh's question, no, she hasn't made another appointment yet. She was away on vacation so she probably returned to a backlog of stuff. The nutritionist called the other day though and was happy with what I'm doing.

Josh was inspired by OH Jim's piece yesterday about fathers and sons to write of his relationship with his own dad: I remember my last Christmas with my dad. I gave him a leather cover for his steering wheel and as I laced it on, he came out and sat in the car with me, which was not something he normally would do, but it was something that meant a lot to me. We always got along great but he was not one to sit with me as I worked on things.

This incident happened Christmas day of '84, when I was 41 and he was 74. A month later he dropped dead in the garage. When my mother was at her doctor's for an appointment a few months later, she commented to the doctor what a shock it was for him to drop dead so suddenly and the doctor looked at her and said, "He didn't tell you?" My mother said, "Tell me what?" As it turned out, when my dad saw the doctor in August, he told him he had only 18% of his heart muscle still functioning and he should get his affairs in order. When we heard this, we thought back and realized that my dad had spent hours and hours getting all the financial records and such organized and all his affairs in order. He didn't tell us because we would only have worried and there was nothing that could be done.

So that time he spent with me as I put the steering wheel cover on he knew was in all likelihood the last time we would spend time together because the day after Christmas, I had to head off to Atlanta for a week then back to Orlando to work, and it would be a month or so before I got back to visit.

He was the finest man I have ever known, fought in WWII and the Korean War, skipppering his own sub chaser, got a Purple Heart, ran his own business, worked part time for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), was president of his Kiwanis club, 3-time Mayor of our city, one of the founders of the Naval Reserve Association, Commandant of our Yacht Club, was asked to be in the Nixon Adminiistration (my mother said, "No way,") and on and on, and I never knew him to raise his voice.

When he moved his business from Atlanta, Georgia to Florida in 1958, he told his 15 employees that the company was too small to pay for their relocation but any who wanted to stay with the company were more than welcome to move on their own and keep their jobs. Every single one of them, from the Office Manager, to the secretary, to the production line workers, and even the guy who drove the delivery truck, packed up their families and made the move so they could stay with my dad. I owe my success in life to following his example.

Luck of the draw, I guess. My dad was "even the guy who drove the delivery truck". He was too young for the first world war, too old for the second, and left school when he was 12. Like father, like son. During his 60s and 70s he suffered a number of heart attacks, had one leg below the knee amputated because of gangrene, and finally succumbed to a brain tumor which horribly disfigured his face and put him in a nursing home with a room full of "old blokes". On my last visit to the nursing home before he died (that night) he asked me to roll him a cigarette, which I did.

So there ya go, Jack Kelly, born the same year as the Wright Bros flew a heavier than air machine for the first time. And there he is 111 years later on the internet with his soon-to-be wife Nell. Looks like my dad knew someone who was interested in photography but I'm not aware of who that might have been.

Meanwhile, according to OH Jim, Zach is all excited about his "truck" and wanted to take his g/f to the football in it hehe but had to settle for his Mustang. That's how the Ausse ute came about. Back in 1934, the wife of an Australian farmer wrote to Ford Oz to ask if they could make a combination car/truck for the farm so that her husband could carry the sheep around the property during the week and her to church on Sundays. She wanted something comfortable and respectable. So Ford responded with the world's first ute, which led to Ford US adopting the idea "over there" where it was called a pickup.

As I shaved I heard a bloke on the radio talk about his throat cancer and recovery, and how his taste buds have gone haywire with the result that he can't enjoy certain foods any longer. The interviewer was empathising big time and saying what a terrible time he must have had. So it's all relative, isn't it. I don't see my own situation as being that bad. Not a barrel of laughs either but it's not like I can't handle it. To quote Churchill, it's something up with which I must put. Averil used to say things like "oh, you poor man..." hehe, which made me wonder if there was something she knew that I didn't.

The bloke also said something that relates to the father/son thing we've been discussing. He said his brush with mortality caused him to want to leave his son a good legacy, to make the most of opportunities to be with his son and to do things together that provide him with memories to cherish.

Funny thing about my father, despite his being introverted and mysterious - and a regular working-class bloke content with the simple things of life - is that he left photographs of himself that I'm proud to post here and say 'that's my dad'.

From the Beeb: Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have recaptured a strategically important mountain from Islamic State (IS) militants, helped by US air strikes. Mount Zartak overlooks a plain that stretches to Mosul, the city seized by IS in June. The mountain fell to the Islamists last month when they staged a lightning attack on Iraqi Kurdistan. Since then Kurdish "peshmerga" fighters have been slowly pushing back, assisted by US air power.

The Australian parents of a deaf baby boy have described the "overwhelming" moment their son heard their voices for the first time. Lachlan Lever was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe hearing loss at birth, but was fitted with hearing aids when he was seven weeks old. His parents Toby and Michelle captured the amazing occasion in 2012 on video, but only recently shared it with the world on Youtube. Mrs Lever told the BBC: "Our baby not only smiled for the first time, more importantly he heard. His whole world opened."

FL Josh's pet hobbyhorse is his disapproval of smokers and smoking: I found this bit on the news interesting that the 8 out of 10 households in the U.S. forbid smoking in the home. Utah had the highest rate, with 94%, and Kentucky and West Virginia has the lowest at under 70%. Since the vast majority of smokers fall among the least educated in the population, I checked to see how Utah, Kentucky and West Virginia fare as to educational attainment and just one would expect, Utah was up near the top, at 9th, while Kentucky and West Virginia were near the bottom, at 47th and 43rd, respectively. Kentucky has such a bad reputation as to intelligence that the joke is that guys there going to family reunions to pick up girls.

I wonder where Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill went to school? And Sigmund Freud? And Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and John F Kennedy and Franklin D Roosevelt? And George Orwell and Oscar Wilde? And John Tolkien and JK Rowling? And Mark Twain and Whoopi Goldberg and John Lennon? And Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren and Kate Winslet and Luciano Pavarotti? And John Wayne and Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra? And George Burns and Bob Dillon? Must be a right bunch of dickheads those people. Actually, Mark Twain said it all when he wrote, 'there are lies, damned lies and statistics'.

I'm not an advocate of smoking, nor am I an opponent. That said, smoking in PJ is banned too because it stinks. My pet hobbyhorse is obsessive crusaders on a relentless mission to impose their will on others. Which reminds me of something my 84 y/o bro said on the phone the other day. He asked if I still smoked and I said yes, a couple of rollies a day. He went on to say he's had a couple of stents inserted in arteries in his legs. "Before the operation, the doc told me not to bother coming back if I continued to smoke." Hehe. Now that's something I can handle. No ifs, no buts, no nonsense. The doc is obviously a man of brevity who gets straight to the point. The prof in Sydney is the same. No dentures. That's it. No compromise.

It's gettng a bit chilly now with the sun about to disappear for another day, so it's time for the heater, telly and chocolate. I was never much of a chocolate eater but I am now as long as it's plain. Gary

September 6, 2014. These weekends seem to be popping up with the frequency of weeds lately. Maybe it's because I'm retired and the working week no longer drags - cos there isn't one! Anyway, at this time of life you don't want time speeding up, you want it slowing down!

OH Jim wrote something interesting about the relationship between fathers and sons, and how sons are destined to "leave the nest" and start a new life for themselves: Zach was planning to show the pickup to his Dad, and he was plenty nervous about it, since this was the first time he ever did something this big without his Dad being consulted. I told him to calm down and just make sure the first thing he says to him is that you have their next project. Zach said, "we have all kinds of projects... Ham Radio, the boat, the Mustang , the dirt bikes, R/C airplanes and who knows what else!"

I explained that they have all these projects because his Dad is afraid he might lose his son to growing up. Of course Zach said "he won't" but I disagreed. I told Zach that I did that to my Dad when I got into my 20's and started to have a life of my own. And my daughter did it to me when she grew up. There was no response from Zach.

Later... Zach called me while he was with his Dad. He made up an excuse that his Mustang was out of gas (and that was probably true .. he is ALWAYS out of gas LOL), so could Joe (his Dad) come get him at his Mom's. They were going out to dinner. And that was when he showed him the truck. You know what Joe said? "I could help you patch up those holes", and Zach replied, "I was hoping you would". And with that all was good.

I bet his Dad was smiling all night. He was impressed that Zach had called the insurance company to find out what it would cost before he bought the truck. It was $35/mo more. His Dad said that was ok, and he would cover it. So with that, Zach is going to get parts 2 and 3 done... re-registering the truck, and getting new plates for it. As for dirty fingernails, Zach and his bud Clayton have this idea that leaving the grease on your hands is cool. Sigh. I make him wash it off before he gets into my cars.

Back to Dads losing their sons to the inevitable growing up... My Dad and Mom were over to our house visiting, and my Dad and I were looking at the 68 Mustang. I was showing him something in the trunk when he asked about the missing mat, and I said it fell apart years ago. So the next thing I know he and I were going to the hardware store. He bought some indoor-outdoor carpeting and installed it in the trunk. I couldn't figure out why he was so happy, and just dismissed it.

A year later he died suddenly. One night I was talking to Mom about Dad, and she told me that little project we did together was really a big deal for him, and that was all he would talk about ... that he and I did that together. Then it dawned on me... and to this day I regret that I didn't do more things with him. I'm just glad I didn't argue with him and chose instead to go along with what he wanted to do that afternoon. That was 30 years ago. I still remember it as if it was last week. I never told Zach about that. Maybe I shouldn't... I don't want to "guilt trip" him.

Interesting, Jim. My father was not very communicative at all, and I really don't remember us sharing any common interest. Even when we did spend time together - when I went to work with him during school holidays - there was little or no conversation. Then I bought my first car. Dad was a car tragic, and taught me to drive. Later, he and I worked on the engine together, doing a valve grind and decoke. Now that I look back at that time together, maybe sharing a mutual interest in a car gave him an excuse to relate. Finally, we had something in common. But even then, I don't remember any of the conversation except references to technical stuff.

God knows what he and my mother ever talked about. On weekends he read the Sunday papers from front to back but, other than that, all I ever saw him reading was motor mags. He would sit up till late at night, alone, reading those things.

Did you know that this is redhead day? Yeah... someone posted the link on the GN forum. I was a redhead till I went white - at least on top. The other bit's still red. I was the only redhead in the family and I remember my older bro when his wife was pregnant with their first child saying, "... so long as it's not a redhead!" Guess what? Yep, neh neh neh neh neeeh neh.

I wonder if Garry (Copper1) ever said neh neh neh neh neeeh neh after booking a motorist. Garry was recently awarded his police service medal and a proud man he is! He posted a pic on the GN forum.

From the Beeb: A ceasefire agreed by the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia rebels in the east appears to be holding. No fighting was reported overnight after the deal was struck in Minsk, capital of Belarus, on Friday. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko says there should now be talks about a long-term solution to the conflict, which has killed about 2,600 people. However, the rebels said the ceasefire had not changed their policy of wanting to separate from Ukraine.

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and musician Sting are among the cultural figures to be awarded this year's Kennedy Center honours. Singer Al Green, actress Lily Tomlin and ballet dancer Patricia McBride will also receive the decorations at a White House reception on 7 December. The movie star said the honour added to being "a fortunate man, in that I love the work I do". Figures who have influenced US culture through the arts are awarded annually. It is relatively rare for a British artist, such as Sting, to be recognised. He likened it to receiving an artistic knighthood in the UK. He told the BBC: "It was very unexpected. I'm thrilled. I'm only the 18th British person to receive it, along with Cary Grant and Julie Andrews.

When the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity were launched in 2003 to look for water on the red planet, nobody knew for sure whether the technology would work. But to the delight of Nasa scientists, the robots survived several Martian winters, mechanical break downs and many other challenges to send an ongoing stream of images from the surface. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the rover landings, a selection of those images is being exhibited at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. And as Jane O'Brien reports, they offer a remarkable picture of how the planet Mars has evolved.

Earlier today, I converted PJ's dining area into a double bed to test my "armchair" cushion, and it's great! Ideal for napping or watching TV or using the laptop. Or reading! The cab over doesn't have sufficient headroom for sitting up so it's only good for sleeping. Anyway, just $30 solves the prob of not having space for a regular easy chair. I do like my creature comforts ya know. Outside, where I intend to spend most of the day, I can use the folding lounger.

One GN, an older lady who lost her husband fairly recently, posted a note to say her adventure is all over. She's been having a wonderful time travelling solo, visiting all kinds of places and posting regular updates, but this time her motorhome broke down and it seems no one can fix it. It's apparently a computer related problem. She's originally from Melbourne but at the moment she's on the other side of the continent in Western Oz. Anyway, she posted a short note and was obviously in tears and distressed about what to do. Out of the woodwork came dozens of GNs, some in WA, ready to help. A couple sent private messages offering assistance. So I reckon by now Fran is in good hands, and well on her way to being bright eyed and bushy tailed once more so she can continue her travels. It certainly pays to have a network of friends such as fellow GNs when you're out there doing the Big Lap on your own.

There have been quite a few posts on the forum during the time I've been a member about retired tradies such as electricians, mechanics, etc, coming to the aid of fellow GNs who happened to need a helping hand. All good stuff.

Just checked the forum for the latest on Fran and, as expected, everything is sorted out now and she's okay.

Speaking of Odysseys and such, I'm getting a bit impatient. All this "come back in 6 months" business from the Sydney prof is starting to annoy me. Andries and Anna reckon I should press the prof for more specific information... like how long is this gonna last? November 2012 is when all my teeth were extracted so it's been two years already without much headway. I'm 70 now and not getting any. Younger, that is. Hehe. So on Tuesday I'll quiz the prof. It's time for PJ and I to do our thing.

While I was testing my armchair cushion in PJ I checked out a few maps in Camps Australia and recognized a lot of the names of places GNs have described on the forum... magic places I wanna see for myself! Grrrr. Gary

September 5, 2014. Last night's meatballs turned out better than I expected... slid down the screech no problem at all, and they tasted great (better than the pathetic things you buy already cooked). I used salsa to mix with the mashed meatballs and it's a good thing I chose mild. Phew! I mashed the spaghetti into 1" lengths. Anyway, it looks like my swallowing ability is improving for whatever reason. I don't have any trouble with oats either, even without blending them. Next thing I'll try is scrambled eggs in a cheese sauce.

Now that I know the meatballs work, I'll experiment with different types... cheesy chicken, bacon, etc. With a bit of luck, a bloke might even put on some weight!

The bloke who's posting historic pics on an auto newsgroup is still at it. God knows how many he has in his stash but here's another 50+, some very interesting, especially the last one. It's a pity the camera took so long to be invented. Imagine how fascinating it would be to see pics of life during ancient times and right throughout history.

Hmmmm. Now that raises an interesting point, Can you imagine prints of the real Jesus nailed to a real cross with real blood and guts being hung in churches and schools? No? Neither can I. And you know those pictures of the sacred heart wrapped in thorns with Jesus looking rather peeved? How would the faithful react to the sight of a real heart bleeding real blood from real thorns? Think of it this way, imagine a large framed photograph of JFK lying on the operating table after being shot hanging in the Oval Office.

On the GN forum there's often criticism of free camping by local councils and operators of caravan (trailer) parks. So it's interesting to read this post: FROM THE CABOOLTURE SHOW SOCIETY Interesting comment on their Facebook page. Wonder if the CP Lobby can still call us freeloaders? Caboolture Show Society... For the last month our staff have been running a little experiment to see how much our campers contribute to the local economy. We have had a bucket in the camp area into which campers were asked to place receipts for locally bought goods and services. We have just totalled up the ones for August. Believe it or not these receipts came to $310,000! As not every purchase would have been added the total was probably even more. That is one hell of a boost to local traders.

Yeah, and that's a small town. So much for free campers being freeloaders. Also on the forum, someone asked about the cost of living the nomad lifestyle on a permanent basis, and quite a few responded by saying they spend an average of $100 a day for food, accom, fuel, etc. So I dared to say that a pensioner couldn't afford $100 a day and a couple of posters challenged me to explain how it could be done for less. Fortunately, another poster came to the rescue and answered on my behalf. He said his expenses average about $300 a week. There are lots of pensioners who live on the road quite comfortably, and have for years. So there! The biggest expense is saving up for a rig, Once you've got that, you're sweet.

Here's another interesting paste from the GN forum: The first petrol pump (called gasoline in the USA) was manufactured by Sylvanus F Bowser of Fort Wayne, Indiana, in his barn. It was delivered to the very first petrol-pump owner, Jake D Gumper, on 5 September 1885. The pump tank used marble valves and wooden plungers, and had a capacity of one barrel or 42 gallons of petrol.

From the Beeb: Comedian and TV host Joan Rivers has died, her daughter has said. Rivers, 81, had been on life support in Mount Sinai Hospital since having a cardiac arrest in New York last week. In a statement, her daughter Melissa said she died surrounded by family and friends, and she thanked hospital staff for their "amazing care". The comedian, best known for her lacerating wit, stopped breathing during a procedure on her vocal cords at an outpatient clinic last Thursday. "My mother's greatest joy in life was to make people laugh," said Melissa Rivers. And millions did. Good one, Joan.

He's the globetrotting Australian leader who is flexing his diplomatic muscles by branding Russia a "bully" over its actions in Ukraine and comparing Islamic State extremists to a "death cult". Tony Abbott says Canberra will now send military trainers and advisers to Ukraine, while its aircraft have begun transporting weapons to Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq. Australia's warplanes are also standing ready to join US airstrikes on Sunni militants. But as the conservative prime minister revels in a more interventionist foreign policy, there are fears that he risks overstretching his nation's armed forces. Ah yes, but they're forgetting about our huge stash of boomerangs.

A new way of accessing bank accounts is being launched which identifies individuals through the unique pattern of veins in their fingers. Instead of having to use a series of passwords and numbers, users will be able to log on to their accounts by placing one of their fingers into a scanner. The technology is quite distinct from fingerprint recognition. To begin with, Barclays will offer the service to business customers only. However, "finger vein authentication", as it is known, is likely to be offered to all customers in the future.

Today has been cold, wet and miserable. Bleh. So I hope tomorrow improves. The forecast is for the "chance" of showers over the weekend and then the weather improves during the week. I'm more concerned with Tuesday in Sydney cos I wanna ferry it over to Balmain and take piccies! Balmain is one of the first suburbs of Sydney and began as a working class area. It has a wonderful history which is still evident.

OH Jim kept me updated today about his mate Zach and his $500 Toyota which is now running with a new starter motor. That'll keep him and his friend busy for a while getting their fingernails dirty, but it'll be a useful vehicle to have. Utes rock! He can use the Mustang for carting his g/f to cheap dates... if she doesn't mind dirty fingernails. OH Jim also sent his best wishes to Steve W and Carol.

And that's about it from me, dear Breth. Time to warm up the joint and attend to mashing things. Silly me bought a large can of spaghetti which is gonna take ages to eat. It won't keep for longer than a few days in the fridge. I'll buy smaller cans next time. Dozen madder how many meatballs I make cos I can have those with different accompaniments... and I made a lot! Yummy though. Gary

September 4, 2014. Spring is back! The wind has died and it's sunny and blue again. Cold overnight and in the morning, though, which is to be expected.

Steve W, who's in the UK getting hitched, wrote: Many dramas here prior to wedding but we did get wedded last Saturday - including the owl that delivered the rings and was blessed at the end of the ceremony. So that mission accomplished at least. Ok to post pic if you so wish!

There ya go. I've not heard of the barn owl thing at a wedding ceremony before, but there it is. Anyway, my best wishes to Steve and Carol and their new life together. Should be a hoot. Sorry.

OR Richie and Becky were married about 2 years ago, so that's two weddings I know of so far. OH Jace has two sons, one of whom has delivered a grandson (I think), so I guess there's been a marriage there too. But I wouldn't be at all surprised if there have been more. Steve, Mark and even Wingnut?

Back from the dental clinic and all's well - same old, same old. Then I phoned Sydney to check my appointment for next Tuesday. Good thing I did... Dr Clark (who's now an associate professor would you believe) is no longer at the old office. He has his own opposite the Royal Prince Alfred hospital.

Roite, a little culinary experimentation going on here. I mixed sausage mince with ground veal/pork, dried onion, garlic, herbs, parsley, Worchestershire sauce, tomato sauce, gravy powder and pepper and formed a bunch of little meatballs which I fried in butter and olive oil till they were nicely browned. The idea is to mash them finely with a fork and have them with mashed canned spaghetti in tomato sauce (or maybe baked beans). If I need to make the mashed meatballs more saucy to enable me to swallow I'll use salsa. I don't wanna use the blender if I can help it. Anyway, they smell great! So that's dinner organized (I hope).

While I was in town I also bought my train ticket for Tuesday. Seventy five bucks! Sheesh. First class, though.

From the Beeb: The family of US journalist Steven Sotloff have spoken publicly for the first time since a video of his beheading was released by militants. They said that the reporter gave his life to covering the suffering of people in war zones, but was "no hero". Mr Sotloff "tried to find good concealed in a world of darkness". Vice President Joe Biden said that Islamic State militants who killed him and another US man, James Foley, would be pursued "to the gates of hell".

A man who spent 30 years in prison for rape and murder said he has "no anger" over his wrongful conviction, after DNA evidence proved his innocence. Henry McCollum, 50, was convicted in 1984 along with his brother Leon Brown, 46, of raping and killing an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has arrived in India for a two-day visit, with a deal on uranium sales high on the agenda. Mr Abbott will stop first in Mumbai before meeting India's newly-elected PM Narendra Modi in Delhi on Friday. He says he is "hoping to sign" an agreement allowing Australian uranium exports to India. Australia, which holds an estimated 40% of the world's uranium, already exports it to China, Japan, Taiwan and the US.

Really clever jokes are pretty rare... so I was tickled to read this one on the GN forum.

Pretty quiet day today, folks, and it's already time for me to exit stage left. Catchya later. Wish me luck with the meatballs. Gary

September 3, 2014. Spring has taken today off. Grrrr. It's gray and cold so Lindsay has gone to the shops for bread and something or other. Why didn't he get those things yesterday instead of this morning? Ask him. He has no logic. And now he's back, complaining about how cold and windy it is out there. *sigh*

Francois wrote last night to say we're in for winds of up to 80km/h and warned me to be careful of my light frame being blown away. He's back to feeling well now after his last operation, and enjoying making a fuss over his 4 y/o grandson who shares his birth date with mine. I often read comments on the GN forum about how much joy grandchildren bring to their grandparents, so it's not surprising that Francois is devoted to his little French man.

Francois also informed me of a mutual acquaintance of ours who is dying of spine cancer. He's not even 60. That's life: unfair for some, better for others, but you're right, I don't feel it's a destiny... For Einstein, he arrived at the good moment to invent the relativity theory: everything was ready, but it's him who found it searching in the good way...

Yes, well fairness is a human concept. It doesn't exist in Nature. Every living thing is food for something else hehe, and what's fair about that? Go forth and eat each other.

Meanwhile, FL Josh wrote: Here are a couple of goodies that sort of tie into what you were musing about in the Waffle for the 2nd, and a 3rd that is just plain funny.

I think my most valuable lesson in life is coming to the realization that my best friend is a healthy gut, and that if I take care of it, it will take care of me.

Gut is a funny word. I've never liked it... always thought it was kinda vulgar and preferred stomach. Cody used gut a lot when he talked about boxing or fitness as in a flat gut. When people hate another person they often "hate their guts". Oddly enough, when they love someone they don't "love their guts". Then there's "a gut feeling" when you have a premonition about something. Or "guts" to describe courage or the lack thereof in the case of cowardice. Anyway, as it turns out, all those little bacteria guys in the gut play a crucial role in the health or otherwise of a person. So now they're my new best friends.

From the Beeb: An Islamic State video has appeared which purports to show the beheading of Steven Sotloff, a US journalist being held hostage by the militants. Mr Sotloff, 31, was abducted in Syria in 2013. He appeared at the end of a video last month which showed fellow US journalist James Foley being killed. A militant in the latest video also threatens to kill a British hostage.

US President Barack Obama is on his way to Estonia for talks on Russia and the Ukraine crisis with Baltic leaders. He is due to hold talks in the capital Tallinn with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Correspondents say the three states, which joined Nato in 2004, are worried about Russia's intervention in Ukraine. Later in the week Mr Obama will attend a Nato summit that is expected to back plans for a rapid-response force that could be dispatched within 48 hours.

An estimated $1tn (£600bn) a year is being taken out of poor countries and millions of lives are lost because of corruption, according to campaigners. A report by the US-based anti-poverty organisation One says much of the progress made over the past two decades in tackling extreme poverty has been put at risk by corruption and crime. Corrupt activities include the use of phantom firms and money laundering. The report blames corruption for 3.6 million deaths every year.

Two US men who spent three decades in prison for rape and murder, one of them on death row, have been released after DNA evidence proved their innocence. Mentally disabled half brothers Henry McCollum, 50, and Leon Brown, 46, were convicted in 1984 of raping and killing an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina. Recently analysed DNA evidence from the crime scene implicated another man, who is in prison for a similar crime. A county judge ordered the immediate release of the brothers.

The brain can be trained to prefer healthy food over unhealthy high-calorie foods, using a diet which does not leave people hungry, suggests a study from the US. Scientists from Tufts University say food addictions can be changed in this way even if they are well-established. They scanned the addiction centre in the brains of a small group of men and women. The results showed increased cravings for healthy lower-calorie foods. Prof Susan B Roberts, senior study author and behavioural nutrition scientist at the Boston university, said: "We don't start out in life loving French fries and hating, for example, wholewheat pasta. This conditioning happens over time in response to eating - repeatedly - what is out there in the toxic food environment."

Summer is nearly in the rear-view. Time, then, for a last-gasp holiday. Have you got everything packed? Swimwear? Sun cream? Gold-plated Ferrari? Though most motorists would leave the car at home, an ever-expanding group of wealthy travellers, primarily from the Middle East, are making excursions to central London with supercars in tow. The phenomenon has become an annual pastime, drawing enthusiasts into the congestion-charge zone to see and snap the exotic and unusual, which parade through the British capital like models on a catwalk.

Fair bit of interesting stuff on the Beeb today. I was appalled to read about those poor buggers spending 30 years in prison before a DNA test proved their innocence. On the other hand, they're being released into an environment that may not be kind to people with a mental disability. As to corruption causing $1tn to be diverted from its intended use resulting in the deaths of millions of poor people, one of my pet hates is anyone who profits from the misery of others. Low-life parasites.

And swapping one food addiction for another? Why not? Makes sense to me.

Not sure what to think about those rich Middle Easteners flaunting their wealth by driving exotic cars around London. If I parked PJ in front of a Salvation Army op shop could I be accused of flaunting my poverty? Speaking of which, I haven't received a response from my letter to Ford yet. I posted it 3 weeks ago. I'll give it one more week and if there's still no response, I'll send a copy to Ford Australia with a note to say I intend to forward a copy to Fair Trading (Consumer Affairs) if I continue to be ignored.

By the way, I discovered on QI last night that biting a gold coin is not to test its softness but its hardness. Genuine gold coins were (I doubt they're still minted these days) mixed with other metals (alloys) to harden them. Counterfeits were made of lead and coated with gold, which made them softer. So there ya go. They also said that all the gold ever mined throughout history would not fill two Olympic size swimming pools, and I think they said about half of that has been mined in the last 100 years.

Here's a shot of Barangaroo in Sydney taken February 2013 when I was there to see the doc. There's now a huge development going on there (high-roller casino, apartments, office towers, restaurants, recreational space, etc). This is a pic of what early construction looks like now (I was standing at the far right bottom corner). And this is an artist's impression of the finished development. Here's another shot of Barangaroo in relation to the Harbor Bridge and Opera House. They say that a city that's not always growing is dying.

If you're into numbers and math, here's a thread on the GN forum you might enjoy. Meanwhile, it's time for a spot of telly and then the feeding of the bugs. Gary

September 2, 2014. Consistency is not an apt description of the weather so far this spring. Yesterday was gorgeous with a top of 24 but today is cool and cloudy. There's a cold front approaching from the south, dangit. Today will improve but tomorrow will be windy.

Isn't it amazing how quickly we take things for granted? If I wanna know about the weather, I click on a web site for the latest info. Same with the news of the world. If I wanna check the meaning of a word or research a topic, I do a Google. Info at our fingertips, and something I could never have imagined as a kid, not with bread, milk and ice still being delivered by horse and cart.

FL Josh wrote: You linked to the bit on the GN forum about the 89 and 90 year old women who fly from Melbourne to some location and take public transportation to get around, more specifically, the bus, but say they may not be able to keep doing it much longer because the bus doesn't have power steering. That points out another difference between Oz and the States. Here in the States, when you take a public bus, it has a driver driving it so all you do is get on, sit and ride, leaving the steering to the driver, and get off when you want. So those elderly Aussie gals could come tour the States when they can no longer manhandle the steering on the busses there in Oz.

Don't pay any attention to Josh. He's being facetious. The article referred to the lady's Kombi and not public buses with one s. My Kombi had no power steering which wasn't a problem unless I tried to maneuver in a tight spot. PJ is the same. So was Tough Titties. I remember the first time I saw a female bus driver in Sydney, and how easily she turned the wheel of a big Mercedes. My first thought was that they made special buses for lady drivers.

Speaking of oldies, OH Jim wrote about another Gary: He has just bought his first cell phone ever at Florence WalMart on Sunday morning. He is 85, and a retired race horse trainer. Still drives and he says he stays active. I told him about you, and he thinks you are still "one of those kids". He said he reads a lot. Also he said he blew his son away by calling him on the new phone. One of the WalMart Connection center kids programmed the phone with icons of his son's and grand daughter's phone numbers . He didn't want to hang around too long... he was on his way to the casino in downtown Cincinnati.

My sister in law phoned me one time and then handed the mobile phone to my older bro who's almost 84 now. I could barely hear his 'hello, hello...' when I heard his wife say, "you're holding the phone the wrong way around!"

My first mobile phone was the size of a brick! Those were the days when you rarely heard anyone chatting away on a mobile on a train or bus, in a restaurant, or on the street. It made you wonder what the hell they were doing. People unconsciously raise their voice when talking on a phone. It's very different to conversing with another person face to face, which is why it seemed so out of place. Now it's as common as muck. Although I have to say, you don't see too many oldies with mobile phones.

One thing I thought looked rather odd at the Cruzer Show and Shine was people using tablets to take photos. They seemed clumsy.

In any case, here we are living in an age where all kinds of gizmos and gadgets that weren't even heard of a few decades ago are now commonplace. Many are considered necessities hehe.

From the Beeb: Iraqi Shia militias and Kurdish forces are continuing their advance against Islamic State militants after breaking the siege of Amerli in northern Iraq. A BBC team entered the town on Monday, finding residents who had endured more than two months under siege. The joint forces have also seized the militant stronghold of Suleiman Beg. The tide is beginning to turn, and not before time.

Ukraine's defence minister has accused Russia of launching a "great war" that could claim tens of thousands of lives. Russia dismissed the comments, saying they only pulled the Ukrainian people further into a bloody civil conflict. The comments came after Ukrainian troops were forced to flee Luhansk airport in the east of the country amid an offensive by pro-Russian rebels. Meanwhile, crisis talks between Ukraine officials, rebels and Russian envoys have broken up without agreement.

I've been thinking about people who believe in destiny, who describe a given set of circumstances as "meant to be". For example, Einstein was destined to discover the theory of relativity, that he was born for that purpose. I prefer to believe that Einstein discovered the theory of relativity as a result of his interest in mathematics and physics which happened to steer him in that direction.

Am I where I am because it was meant to be this way? I don't think so. That kind of thinking leads to an acceptance of the status quo, that there's no point in trying to improve one's lot because it's all preordained anyway. That's how a loser thinks.

Not sure if I'm explaining myself very well here, but if you want something to happen it's not gonna happen because it's destined to happen, you need to make it happen... unless you're next in line for the throne. I think I read something somewhere sometime about building wealth. Wishing will not make it so. Wishing alone is not enough. You need a goal and a plan to get there.

Pardon me but I'm just having a little chat with myself. Thinking aloud. Or should that be thinking allowed?

As to where I am today, the reason for that has nothing to do with destiny but everything to do with lack of foresight. I've never had any idea of where I was headed. Day to day was good enough for me. Anything beyond next month was of little or no concern. As ye sow....

But things are about to change. Now there's the Odyssey. The Odyssey is not just a vacation; a trip around Oz to check out the scene. It has a purpose, a goal, a plan, and that is to document the entire experience with pictures and a journal, which will result in a book or books. Never too late to learn, yeah?

You know that oft asked question, if you could live your life over again would you change anything? Well, my answer to that is I ain't dead yet, so it's irrelevant. Ask me again when I'm 80. Gary

September 1, 2014. Spring has sprung! Now before I do anything else, for the past two days I've been meaning to mention Dio signing the AO guestbook and wishing me happy birthday, and I kept forgetting. THANK YOU DIO! Dio and I go back to the early naughties.

OH Jace sent a birthday e-card this morning with a lively Brazilian parrot dancing to a latin version of the HB song, which I appreciated. And no corny turning 70 jokes. Jace has celebrated the 10th anniversary of his retirement and says they've been the best 10 years of his life. He also brought me up to speed with the OH gang. They're all doing fine, which is great to hear. He says summer in OH has been crazy, with winter temps in Capetown and Sydney sometimes getting higher than OH. Weird. Anyway, "fashionably late" is fine by me, Jace. Thanks for the wishes.

Things change, no doubt about it. Including us. When I checked the telly guide last night I noticed that Tom and Jerry cartoons were on one of the channels I never watch. I was a huge fan of Tom and Jerry as a kid but haven't seen those cartoons in decades. So I thought I'd enjoy a bit of reminiscing. Yeah, right. I hadn't realized just how much of a curmudgeon I've become hehe, and thought they were boring! I lasted about five minutes before switching channels. I did make one curious observation though. Unlike the Disney and Warner Bros characters, neither Tom nor Jerry speak. But in one cartoon, there was another mouse - a young lady mouse with an English accent - and she spoke while Jerry remained mute. I guess anything goes in cartoons. They don't need to make sense.

OH Jim thought the pics of the Cruzers were nice but that it was weird seeing steering wheels "on the wrong side". Actually, there were a couple of imports there with LHD. Zach called me yesterday ... I think he is going to buy a 1989 Toyota Tacoma pickup for $500 from his best friend, Clayton. The only issue is that it won't start! Clayton bought a used Audi A4, so the pickup is just sitting in his Dad's driveway. The boys are gonna try to get it running this morning. Zach is all excited and he was full of ideas on what he will do to it. By the time you read this, the pickup will be his. How many teenagers own two vehicles? Oh, I don't think he told his parents yet. This will be interesting.

Boys and their toys. Keeps them out of mischief, I suppose. We didn't have the Tacoma in Oz, but judging by this pic the same model was called the Hi Lux here... and still is. A Hi Lux was also on my shopping list before I settled on the Ford Courier but only because it was for sale locally at a price I could afford.

Back from the dental clinic and all seems well enough. Andries asked when I'm due to see the specialist in Sydney. I think he's gonna give me a letter to explain the procedure he performed recently on one half of my gum, and will repeat on the other side at some stage. Meanwhile, the plumber's back here (driving a Hi Lux) fixing a collapsed pipe under the house... the one that drains the shower.

My power drill still works, although the battery needs charging. The wall bracket that holds the fire extinguisher in the "upstairs bedroom" was attached to the wall with velcro but it wasn't strong enough to hold the bracket under braking, so I've screwed the bracket to the door frame. How exciting!

From the Beeb: Leading American senators have called for the US to send weapons to help Ukraine fight what they say is "a Russian invasion". Robert Menendez, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Russia's President Vladimir Putin must face a cost for his "aggression". Senator John McCain said: "This is not an incursion. This is an invasion." Earlier, Mr Putin called for talks to discuss the matter of "statehood" for eastern Ukraine.

Police in New Zealand are hunting for a man who shot two people dead and injured a third at an unemployment office. The incident happened on Monday morning in the town of Ashburton, southwest of Christchurch. The man went into a Work and Income New Zealand office and opened fire, before fleeing. Two people were killed and a third person was in a "serious but stable condition", local police said. "The male left the scene on a push bike and should not be approached." Well, it is New Zealand and petrol is expensive.

Back from a few errands in town and a hair cut. After checking out those pics of me at the dentist, I figured I needed one... and quick! My regular barber Mark is skiing in New Zealand so a mate of his, an old retired barber, is handling the business. I think he's older than me! But he weighs more.

While I waited my turn, I read a car mag. It was full of pics of cars for sale from private owners, with lots of rare vintages. There were quite a few Ford Mustangs... one at $90,000 for a late 60s model. Others in varying states of condition were around the 20 to 50 grand mark. And I saw a Morris Oxford, same model as my first car, in good nick for $10,000. Also a Wolesley 1500, same as my second car, for $6000. It would be so cool to be a collector of old cars but you'd need to have oodles of dough and a big shed. Oh well...

Speaking of old, how old is too old to be living the life of a gypsy? Well, check out this anecdote on the GN forum.

Also on the GN forum was a question about ironing clothes. Appears that most GNs don't bother, and a couple reckon if you carefully roll your clothes instead of folding them, they don't crease. There ya go... another little gem I've picked up. Meanwhile, time for me to git. Gary


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