the WAFFLE page

May 31, 2010. Last day of May. Wow, almost half way through another year. Ya know, when you think about how quickly a year passes, three score and ten ain't all that bloody long.

Another dull and dreary day but not as bad as the south coast had yesterday. Gale force winds, lots of rain and quite a bit of damage - trees downed and flooding. They say the storm was as bad as a category 2 cyclone. But it petered out before it hit Sydney and won't reach the mid north coast. I don't know what I'd do if I were living in a campervan in a storm like that. What the hell could I do? Don't park under a tree for one thing.

Back from shopping and I had a nice little chat to the checkout chick about bums and toilet paper, and whether or not Betty Windsor wipes her own. Hehe. The people in the queue behind me were a tad astonished. But the CC was cool. She's a bit of a hoot, actually. When I told Averil about the convo she said it's only a matter of time before they throw me out.

By the way, here's my mate Peter Holme III's tribute to Memorial Day USA.

Beeb time: The Israeli navy has stormed one of six ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip, with at least two people reported killed. Israel's Channel 10 private TV puts the death toll at about 14. Israel has so far declined to comment. The ships are carrying 10,000 tonnes of aid to the Gaza Strip in an effort to break an Israeli blockade. Israel has said it would stop the boats, calling the campaign a "provocation intended to delegitimise Israel". Yeah, well if Israel isn't careful, it's gonna be seen as a bully. But maybe Israel doesn't give a shit. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is the worst environmental disaster the US has faced, a senior official has said. White House energy adviser Carol Browner also said the US was "prepared for the worst scenario" that the leak might not be stopped before August. BP is to try a new tactic after its latest failure to halt the leak, but says there is no guarantee of success. Time for the blame game to stop and everybody to pitch in and get this thing sorted. Standing on the side lines and pointing fingers ain't gonna solve nuthin. A plane crash in Libya that killed 103 people on 12 May was not caused by mechanical failure, according to a preliminary inquiry. The "black box" recorders indicated that the Afriqiyah Airways plane had enough fuel and made no call for help. After studying the recorders, officials also ruled out a terrorist act as a potential cause. So that leaves...??? Two gay men jailed in Malawi but later pardoned by the country's President Bingu wa Mutharika have been released from prison, say reports. They should never have been charged and convicted in the first place. It's a bloody disgrace. Bangladesh has blocked access to Facebook after satirical images of the prophet Muhammad and the country's leaders were uploaded, say reports. Yeah, well, would you expect anything less from a country like Bangladesh? 

Can you imagine what the world would be like if all governments were religious? Can you imagine what the internet would be like? If there was one. Freedom of speech? Forget it. Freedom of thought? Forget it. Freedom period? Forget it. Democracy? Forget it. Scary stuff, yeah?

Right, time to think about din dins. Beef burgers, onions and bubble and squeak. Do you have bubble and squeak "over there"? It's kinda like a hash brown except it's a pattie you make from various vegies (usually leftovers) and fry. Quite yummy, really. And that's about it for today, folks! Gary

May 30, 2010. It's a Sunday cos my day/date Citizen always has Sundays in red. There ya go. Sundays are red, violets are blue... Boom boom.

Not a bad response so far to the War vid I posted on Youchewb yesterday. I really got carried away with that thing, downloading pics from the net and organizing the music and farting around with the editing software. But it was good experience, and I'm getting the hang of AVS pretty quickly for an old bloke. Watch out Speilberg!

I got the inspiration to put the vid together while I was cooking dinner last night. Normally at that time I'm in the mood to relax and watch a bit of telly. But I gulped down my dinner and didn't even turn the telly on. I was engrossed in putting the vid together and determined to get the thing finished before I hit the sack. Don't ask me where I got the energy from.

Speaking of energy, all this reformatting business and posting various stories to Codysworld has made me realize just how much I accomplished over the past decade. It's bloody amazing, and something I hadn't really thought about. TX Greg has been working his proverbial off adding various stories, the latest being 40 chapters of Steve so far. And what a story that is. I'd forgotten just how astonishing (as SF Jim described it) it really is. Time tends to dull the memories. So basically, I've come to the realization that the past decade of my life has produced far more than all the rest of the decades combined. It's weird because you don't realize at the time exactly what's happening or how much is being accumulated. Mind you, it was a lotta work for very little financial gain, but maybe that's not the point. In fact, if money had been the point, all that stuff would never have materialized.

Ah! Just had a little spurt of inspiration again. Check it out.

This internet is pretty damn cool ya know. If I write a little piece I've got somewhere to post it. If I wanna make a vid I've got somewhere to post it. If I take a pic I've got somewhere to post it. Yeah? And if I wanna make on a comment on something someone else has said on their blog or whatever, then I can. How cool is that? The internet rules!

I shouldn't be talking like that ya know. Cool, rules, and all that teen lingo. I'm 65 and I should be more mature and conservative. I'm a bloody disgrace to the rest of the seniors.

It's Red Shield Day and a bloke with a Salvation Army badge arrived at my door this morning to collect donations. "I hate everybody except the Sallies," I said as I opened the screen door. "I'm collecting for the Sallies but I'm not a Sally," he explained. "In that case, I hate you too." But I gave him five buckeroonies and told him not to spend it on a beer.

Beeb time: Oil giant BP says its latest attempt to stop the leak in the Gulf of Mexico has failed, and it will try another technique. I know the feeling. I always take the long way around. Hollywood actor Dennis Hopper has died at the age of 74 following a battle with prostate cancer. Known for such cult classics as Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now and Blue Velvet, Hopper embodied the image of the Hollywood icon. He was last seen in public in March when he was honoured with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Here comes the bowling ball and we're all just hangin' around like ten pins waiting for the strike. A man who attacked 29 children and three teachers at a nursery school in east China has been executed, state media says. Xu Yuyuan, 47, knifed his victims at the Zhongzin pre-school in Taixing city in the Jiangsu province on 29 April. Xu, who was unemployed, reportedly said his motive was to vent his rage against society. All 32 victims survived the attack. The reason such atrocities never make sense is because they never make sense... if you know what I mean. The world's leading supplier of the anti-diabetes drug insulin is withdrawing a state-of-the-art medication from Greece. Novo Nordisk, a Danish company, objects to a government decree ordering a 25% price cut in all medicines. A campaign group has condemned the move as "brutal capitalist blackmail". More than 50,000 Greeks with diabetes use Novo Nordisk's product, which is injected via an easy-to-use fountain pen-like device. What's more important? Running at a profit or people's lives? Go figure. A gay couple jailed in Malawi after getting engaged have been pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika. Mr Mutharika, speaking as UN chief Ban Ki-moon visited his country, said he had ordered their immediate release. Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were given 14-year jail terms earlier this month after being convicted of gross indecency and unnatural acts. The case has sparked international condemnation and a debate about homosexuality in the country. Mr Ban hailed the president's decision as "courageous". I don't wanna rain on their parade but I have to wonder if the pardon was staged for Ban Ki-moon's visit. Israel says it will not take part in a conference aimed at achieving a nuclear-arms free Middle East, proposed at a UN meeting in New York. Well, well, well, why am I not surprised? 

I ditched my prescription reading glasses a week or two ago because one of the screws in the frame kept working loose. So now I'm wearing my cheap non-script 2X magnification reading glasses I bought for $25 a couple of years ago at the pharmacy. The prescription glasses from an optometrist cost over $200. And guess what? My close up vision is improving. I noticed it this morning when I checked my watch for the day/date. Clear as a bell WITHOUT glasses. I'm also thinking that the improvement might have something to do with ditching my old computer monitor in favor of this laptop, which is much clearer and easier on the eye.

I used to wear glasses for driving because my long-range vision wasn't so good. About 5 years ago I discovered I didn't need them anymore. I could see fine, and an eye test proved it. So what does it all mean? Well, apparently vision can repair itself under certain circumstances.

The other day when I spoke to young Josh at the front gate, I saw his mother approaching. She was maybe 20 or 30 yards away and I could see her quite clearly. But Josh was squinting and asked, "Is that mom?" I'd seen him wearing glasses before (which he prefers not to wear and wasn't on this occasion) but I hadn't realized his vision was so badly impaired. Next time he's across the street and I shout g'day, I'll know I'm just a blur... which, come to think of it, probably improves my appearance.

Anyway, the day (as in light) is coming to a close and it's almost fish n chip time. It's been a pretty quiet one. I feel like doing another vid just to liven things up a bit but I don't wanna create things just for the sake of it. It's gotta be meaningul. Hmmm, maybe an idea will occur to me. Anyway, time to split. Gary

May 29, 2010. I am the greatest! Muhamad Ali. A fascinating look at Parkinson interviewing Ali over the years.

And while I'm checking out Youchewb vids, here's one of my fav singers, Chris Smither and a song about intelligent design.

Jim M wrote: This might sound nuts, but ask young Josh, ' 30 years from now, will he remember Gary? ' Of course, the answer is 'yes.' But, how will he remember you? What event will stir his memory? I would also be interested in hearing his views on diversity, especially since he is aboriginal, and with goals to be a teacher. I think you have had a huge impact on his life. A neighbor who made a difference. Don't just let things pass. Sit down and reach into his mind and heart before you part.

A Great Admirer,

Ooer! Anyone who says they admire me scares me half to death. I don't know how to handle it. This whole Waffle thing is like I'm having a convo with people out there in cyber space and we're just chatting away about stuff as equals. Anyway, if Josh remembers me in 30 years from now it'll be because of something that lodged in his brain... something that for whatever reason made an impact. I remember one friend who said to me, "You treat me like I'm Jesus or somebody!" That was about 45 years ago and he said it long before John Lennon said something along similar lines. Certain things stick in your brain, and for Josh I could be one of them. But it's not something I'm consciously aware of when we chat.

Before I fergit, check out this pic of an old loco crossing a bridge.

FL Josh, after seeing that emotional pic yesterday of a soldier crying on the shoulder of his buddy, sent me a couple more similar pics. So I got inspired to create something - a video using stills I downloaded from the net put to Beethoven's Fur Elise. I've got all the elements so far, and I'll put the thing together later. I'd like a bit more time to think about it.

Beeb time: Signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty agree to hold a conference on a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East. And how does the Middle East feel about that? Isn't Israel part of the Middle East? President Barack Obama pledges to triple the manpower in coastal areas hit by the Gulf oil spill as he tours affected areas. Good old manpower... when all else fails, you can count on sweat and muscle. Former Diff'rent Strokes star Gary Coleman has died, aged 42, after suffering a brain haemorrhage. Mr Coleman was taken to hospital on Wednesday after a fall at his home in the US state of Utah. Mr Coleman played Arnold Jackson in Diff'rent Strokes from 1978 to 1986, coining the catchphrase "What you talking 'bout, Willis?" What happened? He was a kid last time I saw him. A South Korean man whose baby daughter starved to death while he spent much of his time playing a fantasy game online has been jailed for two years. The 41-year-old's wife was also sentenced to two years in jail, but her sentence was suspended. The judge said he had shown the woman lenience because she was pregnant with another child. Too busy playing games to feed his kid but he managed to find time to bonk his missus. Can you believe that? Comparing your income with those of family and friends is a recipe for unhappiness, a study has suggested. I agree. I earn less than just about everybody but I manage, and I don't compare my lot with theirs. Make do with whatcha got, I reckon, and don't bitch about it. China "will not protect" whoever sank a South Korean warship in March, Premier Wen Jiabao has said. "China objects to and condemns any act that destroys the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula," Mr Wen was quoted as saying after talks in Seoul. How do you like them apples, Pyongyang? A South African government official is proposing a complete ban on digitally distributed pornography. Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba has approached the country's Law Reform Commission to ask whether a change in the law is possible. Internet security experts have dismissed the idea as "madness". Adult porn is simply filming what people do anyway. What's the biggie? As Ohio June once said to me, it's only sex.

Just got a few more ideas for the fur elise vid and downloaded a couple more pics. I hope this thing works as well as I expect it to.

Right, 4 o'clock and time to bung the chicken in a slow oven. Takes about 2 hours to cook a 2kg chook in an oven bag on slow. Tweezy... already marinated and basted. In about an hour I'll pop the peeled spuds in, sprayed with canola cooking oil and sprinkled with herbs. Later I'll make the gravy. Roast chicken and spuds with gravy. Just the thing for a cool wet night. Yum.

Several hours later... I just posted the latest vid to Youchewb. Gary

May 28, 2010. I saw on the TV news last night that Art Linkletter conked out. He was 97, which ain't too shabby. I enjoyed his shows with kids, and the humor. Kids can be an absolute delight if handled with the kind of empathy and genuine affection Linkletter had in abundance.

Maybe that's what I had with Cody. I still am amazed by his frankness as he told me about his daily exploits. All these years later, as I reformat the Codeman chapters, I still shake my head in disbelief as I read his accounts of Life with the Codeman. And yet it was all so matter-of-fact for him.

Okies, here's a Red Bubble pic I favorited today for reasons that will become obvious when you check it out. If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye nothin' will.

Beeb time: Rescue workers are trying to free survivors from the wreckage of a train in eastern India after a blast on the line killed at least 25. The blast hurled a passenger train into the path of a goods train speeding in the opposite direction in West Midnapore, a railway spokesman said. Railway official Manoj Kumar told Reuters: "At this stage I can confirm 25 deaths. The toll will be much higher." A doctor quoted by AFP said there had been 30 deaths. A local government official said the toll could go up to "anywhere around 50-60" because many passengers were trapped inside mangled coaches. The area is known to be a Maoist stronghold but officials say it is too early to say if rebels were to blame. So many people with a cause believe that the end justifies the means. It happened 65 years ago at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Is it justified or not? Depends on your perspective, I suppose. US President Barack Obama has defended his government's handling of the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Speaking at the White House, President Obama vowed to hold BP accountable for the "horrific disaster". He stressed that his administration, and not oil company BP, was in charge. But he admitted the government did not have the technology to deal with the damaged oil well nearly a mile (1.6km) below the surface, meaning that Washington must rely on BP to plug the ruptured well. There ya go. Don't go blaming BP if you can't do the job yourself. Accidents happen ya know, and BP wouldn't have been there in the first place if they didn't have permission. People who fail to brush their teeth twice a day are putting themselves at risk of heart disease, say researchers. A Scottish study of more than 11,000 adults found those with poor oral hygiene had a 70% increased risk of heart disease compared with those who brushed twice a day. I've heard that there are more germs in a person's mouth than any other part of their body. Ew! Jamaican police say at least 73 people have been killed in four days of fighting between police and gunmen, as authorities continue their search for an alleged drug lord. Of these, 70 are civilians, including a number of suspected gunmen or gunwomen, and three are security personnel. The information minister said it was unknown whether the chief target of the operation, Christopher "Dudus" Coke, was still in the country. In the country's capital, Kingston, security forces have been going from house to house in Mr Coke's Trivoli Gardens district an attempt to find him. Find the bastard and crush him. Two members of a Zimbabwean gay rights association have been freed from custody, their lawyers say. They say the two are facing charges of possessing pornographic material and insulting President Robert Mugabe. In that case, they should arrest me as well. Illinois paint shop assistant Lee DeWyze has won the ninth season of the American Idol talent contest. He overcame his shyness to impress judges and viewers with his spirit and soulful voice, beating bluesy musician and judges' favourite Crystal Bowersox. "I have never been happier in my life," he said after scooping the title and a recording contract which will launch with his version of U2's Beautiful Day. From paint shop assistant to superstar. How's that for a fairy tale rise to fame? The youngest person to climb Mount Everest says he hopes his achievement will inspire young people around the world to get out and exercise. American teenager Jordan Romero, 13, has just returned from the north side of the mountain. Yeah, right. "I'll be home later, mom... just gonna go for a walk." A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men. And what's the population of India? A kitten got itself in a spin when it survived a 30-minute cycle inside a washing machine! It's thought that Kimba, a fluffy white Persian kitten from Sydney, Australia, climbed in when the door was open and curled up with the dirty clothes. Her owner, Lindsay Rogers, said he was amazed when he went to get the clean clothes and found Kimba in the machine. "We could hardly believe our eyes when she emerged, looking like a drowned rat," he said. It must be true then... what goes around, comes around. A range of extra-large condoms has been launched in South Africa, to cater for "well-endowed" men. "A large number of South African men are bigger and complain about condoms being uncomfortable and too small," said Durex manager Stuart Roberts. There ya go... if you're a size queen, don't go to India, go to Safrica.

A carer's news pamphlet arrived in the mail today and one article referred to the carer's lump sum payment in July. Oh? I thought lump sums had been absorbed into the pension and spread over the year at so many extra dollars a pay. Apparently that's not the case with carer's pensions. Sooooo, a bloke can look forward to a little extra loot in the kitty in July. That'll be nice. 

Young Josh returned the book I wrote about him - Joshua - today. He's already got a copy that I gave him for his 17th birthday but the bloody drongo can't find it. Anyway, he borrowed my copy for his girlfriend to read. I was in the loo when he arrived so I didn't see him, and I don't know what his girlfriend thought of the story. I just read the first chapter. Not bad. I'd almost forgotten it because I wrote it almost 2 years ago. In a way 2 years might as well be 20 years ago because I tend to focus on N O W. When ever I read something I wrote some time ago, I'm usually surprised at where my brain was at at the time. It's kinda spooky, like a time machine. Images of oneself taken some time ago are different because they're physical, but when you read your own thoughts, that's really you!

Speak of the devil, I spotted Joshua standing out front and spoke to him. He sits for an exam tomorrow for admission to university and he's pretty confident of passing. If he does, he's off next month to Coffs Harbor Uni to study for 4 years as a school teacher. I asked if his girlfriend read the book. "She read the first couple of chapters." Right... thanks for the accolades. AND... he and Shana (his g/f) are off to Bali soon for a holiday with a bunch of old school mates. They must have money to burn. Where did I go wrong?

Kitchen time. Cheap but not so nasty tonight... meat pies and chips. Hehe. Junk night. Gary

May 27, 2010. FL Josh sent a link to Greyson Chance's second appearance on the Ellen show. Can you believe that kid's vid on Youchewb has had 30M hits already? My steam loco vid has had about the same... minus the M.

Did the revolving door trick again today - pay day, bills day, back to square one. Next, I'll whizz up the road and do the shopping. How boring. Same old, same old. I think a bloke needs an Odyssey. But first a bloke needs a quid.

Beeb time: BP says a bid to plug its leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is going to plan, but it is too early to know if it will work. That's a headline? Amnesty International has criticised the "politicisation of international justice" in its annual report, which documents torture in 111 countries. The human rights group accuses powerful governments of subordinating justice to political self-interest and of shielding allies from scrutiny. It expresses particular concern over possible war crimes committed during fighting in Sri Lanka last year. The report also criticises the UN for its failure to intervene. In its report, Amnesty also cites the United States and European Union for using their position with the UN Security Council "to continue to shield Israel from strong measures of accountability for its actions in Gaza". Hmmm, makes you wonder about what is kept from us. Colombian beauty queen Angie Sanclemente is arrested in Argentina, charged with involvement in drug trafficking. Skin deep indeed. The trial of an anti-whaling activist detained in the Southern Ocean during clashes with Japan's whaling fleet has opened in Tokyo. Peter Bethune from New Zealand, a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, boarded a ship in February. He pleaded guilty to four charges, including trespass and obstructing commercial activities, but denied a fifth charge of assault. If convicted he could receive a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Whoa! That's gonna cause a helluva stink! Apple has pushed past arch-rival Microsoft to become the world's biggest technology company. Changes in the share price values of the two in Wednesday's choppy trading left the total value of Apple at $222bn (£154bn). Microsoft is now valued by investors at $219bn. Well, well, well... the poor cousin finally has his day. Suspected robbers in Germany appear to have miscalculated the quantity of explosives needed to blow their way into a rural bank. The building housing the bank in the northern village of Malliss was largely destroyed by an overnight explosion. The bank's cash machine survived intact and the suspected thieves are not thought to have made away with any money, Germany's Welt Online reported. No-one was injured, though the blast damaged nearby cars and buildings. If it weren't so serious, it would be hilarious. The chief rabbi of a West Bank settlement has prohibited women from standing in a local community election. Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of the Elon Moreh settlement, near Nablus, said women lacked the authority to stand for the post of local secretary. He wrote in a community newspaper that women must only be heard through their husbands. Now there's a bloke who really doesn't know what day it is. A fleet of "Little Ships" which rescued Allied troops from Dunkirk in 1940 are to set sail from the South Coast to mark the 70th anniversary of the event. The flotilla of around 60 vessels will sail to France to commemorate Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of some 338,000 soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk. Some things should never be forgotten

Back from shopping. Naturally, I took my little Fuji with me and grabbed this shot. It's cool that the flash didn't activate so I managed to capture the existing lighting which is really nice. Also checked Bluey's tires and filled the tank. $1.28 a liter now... that's about $5 a gallon. But I don't use much. Last time I filled was about 2 months ago hehe.

BTW, I've added a few new favs to my favorites on Red Bubble that are worth checking out.

Ohio Jace wrote. I thought he might've been mad at me for ditching MrB but no... there were technical issues and he couldn't get in touch. Bit of bad news tho... two of the neighbors (very close friends) were involved in an accident with an unlicensed and uninsured driver who ran a red light, and collided with two cars as well as the neighbor and a pillion passenger on their motorcycle. Lots of grazes and broken bones, but everyone survived. The driver at fault had been arrested for drunk driving on a previous occasion. Bad, bad, bad. No license and no insurance doesn't stop the fuckwits. Luckily no one was more seriously hurt. Meanwhile, Jace, good to have you back in touch. And don't forget to watch my steam loco vid or there'll be big trouble.

And here we are again... kitchen time. Porterhouse steaks for THEM and Asian thingies for me. I quite like steak but I can take it or leave it. Actually, I watched a cooking show on telly last night which showed cattle and pigs being farmed for meat. Admittedly, the animals were living in wonderful and pristine conditions in Tasmania BUT, as the farmer said, "We love our animals but we know what they're here for." Hmmm. Apparently you're supposed to feel better about slaughtering an animal for meat if it's led a peaceful and happy life. Well... I'm afraid I'd make a lousy farmer. Gary

May 26, 2010. Well, back to the old routine, sort of. Two more Codemans posted and more movies on hold for the time being. They really are a lot of work and I don't intend to shoot anything that's not a worthwhile event just for the sake of doing a vid. There's a mate of mine, a Red Bubbler (in fact the guy who introduced me to RB) and sailor. He's working as a bus driver (the singing variety) on the Gold Coast at the mo, and intends to drive back to Taree to collect his small yacht. He wants to tow it back to where he lives now. When he's in town, we'll meet up for a beer. I'll do a shoot of the yacht and he can do the on-camera commentary - "This is the helm, this is the rudder, this is the keel, this is my wife, yadda, yadda." It'll be good experience for me doing the audio, the video overlays, the cutaways, etc... and the content will be quite interesting. I love boats... but I'm not crazy about waves, particularly anything above my ankles.

Yes, it's going to be a fair bit of work and another steep learning curve, with lots of hair-tearing and swearing, but... a bloke's gotta do what a bloke's gotta do.

A Red Bubbler just commented on the steam loco vid: "Nice work, Cecil..." Hehe. I think that USD59 I invested in the editing software is money well spent. It's opened up a whole new world for me... and probably another obsession. By the same token, I don't wanna get too serious about it. That would take all the fun away. I've learned something in life: professionals take time out for vacations, but hobbyists never do. Honestly, if I were to take time off from what I do I'd be bored shitless!

THEY had t-bones last night while Averil and I shared a supreme pizza with double topping. YUM! THEY don't care for pizza, and I reckon they're crazy. Actually, there was a woman standing beside me at the pizza shop. She'd ordered 6 boxes of various pizzas. "And what's everyone else having?" I asked. She said it was her son's 17th birthday and he was in charge of the menu. Hehe. Figures. I've never met a teen who doesn't like pizza.

Okay, time for a Beeb: Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding has vowed to restore order after at least 31 deaths during an anti-drug offensive in Kingston. He said he regretted the loss of life as security forces battled fighters loyal to a suspected drug trafficker sought by the US. Mr Golding said police would continue searching for illegal guns and crime suspects. A most serious situation. Read the full story here. President Obama is to request $500m in funding to send up to 1,200 troops to help secure the US-Mexico border, officials say. We're lucky downunder in that we only have the Kiwis to worry about, and they're pretty cool. Hehe. Actually, our only borders are internal. North Korea is to cut all relations with South Korea, Pyongyang's official news agency reports. KCNA said the North was also expelling all South Korean workers from a jointly-run factory north of the border. The move comes after an international report blamed North Korea for sinking a South Korean warship. Silly games, but dangerous nonetheless. An advert for a clothing shop that features Adolf Hitler dressed in pink has provoked outraged reactions in Italy. The posters were put up in the city of Palermo in Sicily, with the caption: "Change your style. Don't follow your leader". The swastika on Hitler's armband has been replaced by a heart. But the local association of wartime resistance fighters said the adverts were offensive to those who had fought fascism. Everyone enjoys a good joke but it's impossible to make a humorous or tasteful joke out of Hitler and his insane Nazi regime. The house made famous by the 1970s Amityville Horror film has gone on sale in Long Island, New York, with a price tag of $1.15m (£800,000). The five-bedroom house at 108 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, gained notoriety through the film based on the story of the Lutz family, who moved in in 1975. The Lutzes say they soon discovered that the house was haunted. Several months earlier, six members of another family had been shot and killed as they slept in the house. The family's eldest son, Ronald DeFeo Jr, was convicted of the 1974 murders. Ghosts? Hahaha! I don't believe in ghosts. BUT... I don't think I'd wanna live there... just in case. Hehe

I watched a nature program on telly the other night that talked about polar bears standing 13' high on their hind legs. I was skeptical. 13'? That's twice the height of a tall man. No way. So I checked Wikipedia. The info doesn't talk about height but it does talk about weight. Try between 350 and 680 kg for adult males. I'm a regular guy at 70 kg. Hehe. So a really big male polar bear could be almost 10 times my size. I think I'll stick to koalas. That is scary! On the program, the guys used a chopper to check out the bears. Then they decided to land to get a closer look. The bears weren't fazed by the chopper at all. Rather, they were curious to get a closer look at the humans, so they approached. Oops! The guys clambered back into the chopper and took off, and I don't blame them.

Put a VW Beetle up against a Ferrari and what happens? Check it out.

Well, look at me! Up to date with everything. Makes a pleasant change from the past few days when everything was frantic. It's weird ya know. There's no pressure except the pressure I create for myself. There was a time when I told my bosses to get nicked if they gave me a hard time. Now I'm the boss and I can't tell myself to get nicked. Hehe.

So here we are again, kitchen time. Leftover bolognaise with a little extra chopped ham for good measure. Gary

May 25, 2010. AVS4YOU turned out not to be as simple as I thought. But I've got it figured out now... after a full day yesterday tearing my hair out. As I write this, I'm uploading the video of 3237 to Youchewb. I've not done music or voice over YET. I'm too impatient to get the damn thing posted. Maybe later. Music is a hard one tho because of copyright issues. Anyway, now that I've put one vid together, I'll be fine for subsequent extravaganzas.

Yesterday, I discovered the hard way (my normal style) that the vid format AVS uses is not suitable for Youchewb. Of course, it wasn't until the thing was fully uploaded that Youchewb said, "Sorry, baby, it didn't work." All that time wasted. So then I converted the AVS vid to WMV which took 90 minutes. After that I began to upload it to Youchewb but it was gonna take 3 or 4 hours! The file was half a gig. I quit after about 90 minutes and went to bed. More time wasted. This morning I converted the vid to another format, one recommended for Youchewb, and it took about 15 minutes. The size of the file is about 170MB which takes about 90 minutes to upload. Yeah... things I wish I'd known beforehand.

The vid does have a few drawbacks. There's a lot of strobing caused by the painted stripes on the train carriages, the pixel quality of the vid is not very high, and there's a bit of shake because the camera was hand held. But a woman there with a heavy tripod and an expensive camera was in all kinds of bother trying to maneuver the thing as the train moved about. I had no problem at all because I was free to twist and turn, and the little Kodak was a breeze to operate. The irritating aspect of the shoot was people standing in front of my camera while I was shooting. They were so intent on getting their shot they didn't even notice me. Rude buggers.

However, despite the frustrations of the shoot and the steep learning curve with AVS, it's been a worthwhile experience. I loathe learning anything new. I'm always a bundle of nerves and my thoughts are riddled with doubts. But the end justifies the means, yeah? Now I can confidently shoot little movies of various events and places I encounter, and I expect my technique to improve as I gain more experience. Yeeehaaaaa! Cecil B de Kelly!

Okay so now it's a matter of waiting for the vid to upload before I post this page. I'll fill in the time with a Beeb:

Jamaican police launch an assault on the stronghold of alleged drugs lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke in Kingston. I have no time for those evil bastards, feeding off the misery of addicts. The US toughens its stance on BP, with one official pledging to "keep our boot on their neck" until the Gulf oil leak is stopped. Okay, so if companies like BP decide it's all too hard and get out of the business of exploration, what will the government do then? A top UK scientist who helped sequence the human genome has said efforts to patent the first synthetic life form would give its creator a monopoly on a range of genetic engineering. Professor John Sulston said it would inhibit important research. US-based Dr Craig Venter led the artificial life form research, details of which were published last week. Now the old rivals are at odds again over Dr Venter's efforts to apply for patents on the artificially created organism, nicknamed Synthia. But Professor Sulston, who is based at the University of Manchester, said patenting would be "extremely damaging". There's a tricky one... public domain or private ownership? I would hope the former prevails in the interests of the common good. The US has confirmed it will hold naval exercises with South Korea, after a report blamed the North for the sinking of a Southern warship, officials say. The Pentagon said the joint anti-submarine and other military exercises would start "in the near future". South Korean President Lee Myung-bak earlier froze trade with Pyongyang, vowing to punish those who carried out the attack. North Korea has said it will retaliate for any action taken against it. Meanwhile, China is waiting in the wings. Australia has expelled an Israeli diplomat saying Israel was behind the forging of Australian passports linked to the murder of a Hamas operative in Dubai. Australia's foreign minister said these were "not the actions of a friend". The Israeli foreign ministry said Australia's decision was disappointing. Hehe. "Disappointing". Don't ya just love diplomacy speak? The Cannes Film Festival has given its top prize, the Palme d'Or, to the mystical Thai film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. It beat British director Mike Leigh's Another Year, which was seen as the favourite by many at the French event. I can't recall mine, so maybe this is my first. The fourth instalment in the Shrek franchise was the top film at the North American box office over the weekend, taking $71.3m (£43.9m) on its first three days on release. Yet Shrek Forever After did not perform as well as its two predecessors, Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third, both of which made more than $100m (£69m) in their debut weekends. Amazing stuff... what the world needs now is Shrek - escape from reality. Researchers have shown off a transistor made from just seven atoms that could be used to create smaller, more powerful computers. Transistors are tiny switches used as the building blocks of silicon chips. If the new atomic transistor can be made in large numbers it could mean chips with components up to 100 times smaller than on existing processors. And you thought the Intel chip was small already. The old advertising slogan "Guinness is Good for You" may be true after all, according to researchers. A pint of the black stuff a day may work as well as a low dose aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks. Bit heavy for me, thanks all the same. I prefer a paler ale.

Okay, here's the URL for the steam loco vid. I'll be back later to finish this page.

I just subscribed to a new Youchewb channel. As soon as I heard this guy's piano playing I began to weep. But that's just me. TOO EMOTIONAL! By the way, Greyson Chance has been invited back on the Ellen show after his signing with a record company. The kid's doin okay.

Oregon Richie just sent a link to a story about Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees who chucked a wobbly at Heathrow Airport. He's 60 but he looks a bit lived in... looks 70+ actually. I'm a fan of the Bee Gees though... they made some great music. I remember them as kids. They recorded their first hit Spicks and Specks back in the mid 60s at a studio in suburban Hurstville, a converted butcher shop operated by Spin Records. It was the same studio my band used, with a 4-track recorder. I believe the Beatles' Sgt Peppers was recorded on a 4-tracker.

But if you think 4-track recording is basic, guys like Frank Sinatra had to record with the whole damn band in the studio using one track!

Oops! Are you still here? I had a bit of drama here earlier but all is well now. But I forgot about posting this page! Don't worry about it... it's age. Gary

May 23, 2010. Ladies and genitals, please be upstanding to drink a toast to our dear old fart Gary Kelly for managing to figure out AVS4YOU in just a few hours.

Well, I haven't figured it ALL out yet but I've made pretty good progress. Once I got started it kinda became intuitive - probably because of my experience in editing suites for many years. I wasn't an operator but I did quite a bit of observing. Anyway, I like the software so I bought it ($59 US), and now I have unlimited use of the program. It's pretty tricky, actually, with all kinds of bells and whistles, and not as scary as I thunk it would be.

I put together the edited vision of the steam loco and decided to test it before adding effects/audio etc but Microsoft chucked a wobbly and closed the process. WHAT??? But then you expect MS to stuff things, so I shouldn't be surprised. Anyway, I was sufficiently impressed by AVS4YOU to buy it, but I've had enough fiddling for one day so I'll get back to it tomorrow. I need to shorten the vid as well... it's currently running at 10:37. And ya know what? I think I'm gonna like this shooting and editing business. :o) The Little Movie Maker! I'll call it Fossil Productions.

Back from shopping, which took ages. Averil asked me what I was going to do with the videos I make. Sell them? "No, no, no. It's a hobby. I like doing it. I'm having a nice time. Once you start thinking commercially, it becomes too complicated. I just wanna have fun."

Beeb time: World leaders and communities around India pay tribute to the victims of Saturday's plane crash in which 158 people died. Passengers one minute, victims the next. What can you say? A passenger train has derailed in China, killing at least 10 people, reports say. The Ministry of Railways said the train had been knocked off the tracks by a landslide in a mountainous area of Jiangxi province, state news agency Xinhua reported. Maybe we should all just stay at home. A man on a Greyhound bus travelling across the Canadian Prairies has killed and decapitated a fellow passenger. An eyewitness said the victim was stabbed 50 or 60 times by the man sitting next to him, who then severed his head with a large knife. The driver pulled over and passengers fled from the bus, bracing the door to keep the attacker inside. "All of a sudden, we all heard this scream, this bloodcurdling scream," passenger Garnet Caton told CBC television. Yep, I definitely think we should all stay home. Read the full story here. It's unbelievable. One of the world's rarest stamps has fetched a record price at auction in Switzerland, organisers told the BBC. The stamp - a version of a 1855 three shilling stamp which was meant to be printed green - is believed to be the last of its kind. Auctioneer David Feldman said the stamp was the world's most valuable object by weight. And all because of a mistake in printing that made it yellow

The world is crazy. So what do you do about it? *Shrug* I don't have an answer to that question. I really don't. However it's not easy to ignore all the bad things. When you stub your toe, you're unlikely to say, "Oh, well, it's only my toe. The rest of me is just fine." I suppose it's a balancing act, basically. Acknowledge the bad, but don't ignore the good. In fact, the more you embrace the good, and enjoy it, the less likely you are to be overwhelmed by the bad. Yeah? Something like that.

Anyway, time to don the chef hat. BTW, the bolognaise last night was deeeeeeeeeelicious! Tonight, it's chicken burgers with hash browns and corn fritters. An easy Sunday feed. Tomorrow, I'll get stuck into the 3237 vid again. I need to write a voice over script which you're supposed to do FIRST. Oh well... Anyway, I need to buy a little microphone for the laptop. Gary

May 22, 2010. The twoty tooth. There ya go. Well, I worked my droopy old ring off today... 2 Codemans, a bit of email, and I posted the loco pics on Aussie Odyssey. Then I read the help file of AVS4YOU. Eeeek! Kinda frightening but I suppose if I take it one step at a time I'll get the hang of it. I was gonna give it a shot today but I'm a bit buggered... not to mention terrified. If it weren't for my interest in short vids on the Odyssey, I wouldn't even bother to try. I like stills because you can print them, hang them, frame them, turn them into calendars, etc, but there are some instances where a vid tells the story more comprehensively. I used not think so but after seeing various vids on Youchewb I've changed my mind. So it's a skill I'd like to master before dementia sets in hehe.

One Red Bubbler wrote to say I should take off on the Odyssey now before fuel prices become prohibitive. But I explained that the Odyssey won't be about driving all day and covering long distances, it'll be about driving an hour up the road, stopping, setting up camp, taking a look around and maybe staying a couple of days. I honestly don't expect to be covering more kilometers than maybe 1 or 2 hundred a week... if that.

Another Red Bubbler responded to my bitch about some bloke standing in front of my camera as I was shooting the furnace of the 3237. "Next time that happens, yell out 'Who dropped that $100 note?'" Hehe. Yeah, I'll keep that in mind. One of the features of AVS4YOU is an extensive range of dissolves and transitions which are bit gimmicky. I've seen them used on amateur vids and they can be rather annoying. I suppose used sparingly they're okay. I prefer simple dissolves and zero clutter. If the video is not well shot and interesting, and well edited, no amount of gimmicky razzamatazz is gonna save it (sez me who hasn't even edited his first vid yet).

Now, lemme ask you a question. If a kangaroo loses its testicles, would you call it lucky? No? Well, those testicles were apparently lucky for a 13 y/o American boy, the youngest person to climb Mt Everest. Check out the link sent by Oregon Richie.

Yeah, well I'm still trying to figure out why carrying Kangaroo testicles is supposed to be lucky. It's like a rabbit's foot. You ever seen a rabbit hopping around on crutches?

Beeb time: A plane has crashed near the southern Indian city of Mangalore, with dozens feared dead. More than 160 people were said to be on board the Air India Express flight from Dubai, and some officials say they believe there are no survivors. Mangalore airport is located at the top of a hill and analysts say it can be a difficult airport to land in. That's an understatement. Admittedly, air travel is the safest statisticaly BUT... well, you know. Two political veterans are expected to head a US commission investigating a huge oil spill, amid criticism of the government's response. Reports say former Democratic Senator Bob Graham and William Reilly, who once served as environment chief for the Republicans, will lead the inquiry. President Barack Obama's administration has been forced to defend its record in dealing with the spill. Yes, the blame game is on in earnest but blame doesn't fix problems. Education officials in the US state of Texas have adopted new guidelines to the school curriculum, which critics say will politicise teaching. The changes include teaching that the UN could be a threat to American freedom, and that the Founding Fathers may not have intended a complete separation of church and state. Critics say the changes are ideological and distort history. I don't understand this 'founding fathers' business. Wisdom is not the preserve of the ancients despite what some people like to believe. Pakistan has arrested several suspects in connection with the failed bombing in New York City, officials say. One of the arrested is the co-owner of a prominent catering firm used by the US embassy in Islamabad, Pakistani officials told news agencies. Catering for what? Hundreds of people have protested in Cannes against a film about Algeria's struggle for independence against France. The film, Hors la Loi by French-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb, opens at Cannes on Friday. The demonstrators, who included right-wing politicians and French veterans, claim it is biased against France. Algeria gained independence from France after a brutal eight-year war that ended in 1962. Well, darling, when you're fighting for independence, as the Americans did, the "other" side tends to become the enemy. Campaigners against a controversial new immigration law in the US state of Arizona have adopted a popular children's cartoon character as a symbol of their cause. Dora the Explorer has taught millions of American children basic Spanish phrases on her Nickelodeon TV show. But a doctored image on the internet now shows the cartoon heroine with a black eye in a police mugshot. Her alleged crimes? Illegal border crossing and resisting arrest. Seems to me like Arizona has bitten off more than it can chew. Toyota is to invest $50m (£35m) in US electric car company Tesla Motors, as the two firms announced a joint partnership to build electric vehicles. The deal will give the Japanese giant a stake of about 2.5% in Tesla, which will build its new saloon model at a Toyota factory near San Francisco. Analysts said Tesla, which was only formed in 2003, will benefit from Toyota's mass production skills. Are you getting the impression that your current car is gonna be a museum piece sooner than you expected? Heart attack survivors are highly likely to avoid sex, fearing it could kill them, US researchers say. I'm a heart attack survivor and I have exactly the same amount of sex I had before. None. 

Yes, the wisdom of the ancients. There's no denying that certain ancients were very wise indeed, but you and I will be ancients one day and what will they say about us then?

Anyway, that's enough for one day. Got the spag bol simmering away. I'll do the pasta soon, and then lavish the servings with lots of grated parmesan! Cheese making is fascinating stuff ya know... been watching a few programs on telly about cheese making. The number of varieties boggles the mind. I'll visit dairies on the Odyssey and have a closer sticky beak. Say cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese! Gary

May 21, 2010. Aaaggghhh! Codecs! I've spent most of the day looking for codecs cos Windows Movie Maker doesn't wanna know about the video I shot this morning. Grrrrr! Talk about frustrating! In the end I gave up trying to solve the codec bullshit and downloaded a video editing program called AVS4YOU. Looks like something I can understand without too much hassle. I've had enough buggerizing around for one day so I'll read the help file tomorrow and learn how to use it. If I like it I'll spend the $60 it costs for unlimited usage. It has time lines for vision, audio, voice over, video overlay, effects, text, etc, so I think it'll do the job pretty well.

On the plus side, the little Kodak 2.2MP camera I bought back in 2002 did a pretty good job of shooting motion. It was a bit nerve wracking at the time cos I had no idea whether or not I was operating the camera in movie mode properly. But it all turned out okay. One lesson I learned was not to mix shooting a movie and shooting stills. You can't do both at the same time. I had two cameras around my neck and got myself into a helluva tizz. The Kodak was set on low res so the result wasn't too flash. I was worried about the size of the memory card which is 750MB max but I only used 132MB. I'll shoot in higher res next time.

Meanwhile, I posted a couple of shots on Red Bubble. This one and this one. Later, I'll post all the stills on Aussie Odyssey but I've gotta write the journal first and it's late. I'll do it tomorrow.

Okay, time for a quick Beeb: The US Senate passes a bill providing the most sweeping overhaul of financial regulations since the 1930s. Take a bow, Barack. US President Barack Obama's national intelligence director has resigned after a 16-month tenure marked by a series of security failures. His term of office saw the Fort Hood shooting, the Christmas Day bomb plot and the Times Square car bomb plot. Well, I guess ya can't win 'em all. Hehe. British Airways reports its biggest ever annual loss, citing lower passenger numbers, higher costs and the impact of strike action. I pity anyone trying to run a business... honestly I do. The US state department says there "will definitely be consequences" for North Korea following the sinking of a South Korean warship in March. The North is facing international condemnation after investigators blamed it for the sinking of the ship, in which 46 sailors died. Pyongyang has rejected the claim as a "fabrication" and threatened war if sanctions were imposed. China urged restraint and did not criticise the North. China's reluctance to admonish N Korea is what Pyongyang is banking on. Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell. The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell. The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA. The researchers hope eventually to design bacterial cells that will produce medicines and fuels and even absorb greenhouse gases. I suspect we ain't seen nuthin' yet. A judge in Malawi has imposed a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison with hard labour on a gay couple convicted of gross indecency and unnatural acts. The judge said he wanted to protect the public from "people like you". I think it's patently obvious that the public should be protected from people like the judge. Thailand's government says it has mostly restored order in the capital, Bangkok, a day after violence which left at least 15 people dead. Speaking from custody, one (red shirt) leader, Veera Musikapong, has urged all sides to co-operate in peaceful talks. "I'd like to ask all sides to calm down and talk with each other in a peaceful manner," he said. "We cannot create democracy with anger. Good things are built on non-violence." Very sensible, and something you should have considered in the first place. Pakistan has blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube because of its "growing sacrilegious content". Access to the social network Facebook has also been barred as part of a crackdown on websites seen to be hosting un-Islamic content. We can't allow criticism of Islam, dear Breth, because Islam might fall down and go boom. 

Ya know, come to think of it, Islam and all other religions have a point. Non believers should be punished. Children, for example, who refuse to believe in Santa Claus should be put though a mincer and made into kiddie pies. If they don't believe in the Tooth Fairy they should have all their teeth pulled, preferably without anesthetic. It's no good allowing people to accept or reject certain beliefs at their own discretion, they should be forced to believe or else face dire consequences. Yes? Free will is no good! Free will is the enemy of er... HIM... or Her or whomever. Faith should not be a matter of choice. Yabba yabba do diddly wobba dobba ding dang. And so say all of us. Hail whatsisname. Amen!

Yes, time for kitchen duties. It hasn't been a good day... well not entirely. But there's always tomorrow. Gary

May 20, 2010. There are always two sides to every story, right? We now cross to our Florida correspondent, Josh, for his latest on-the-spot report: Don't let the situation in Malawi with the gay couple ruffle your feathers too badly.  When they held their celebration that drew attention to them, they were either incredibly dumb or they wanted to draw world attention to the laws in Malawi.  It's the first step in effecting change.

As for the grinning faces around the vehicle carrying them, that doesn't necessarily reflect the feelings of the population as a whole.  Those are people who gathered to condemn the two men because their beliefs are different or because they need to make a show that their beliefs are different.  What would have been tragic is if they got arrested and convicted with virtually no media attention.  Thus, all the hoopla is a good thing overall albeit not for them.  Perhaps years from now they will be celebrated for being the seed that brought change to Malawi.

Australia has 22,000,000 people compared to 15,000,000 for Malawi, but Malawi has only one sixty-fourth the land area.  The population density is so high in Malawi that the crimes these guys were convicted of will in the not-too-distant future become commonplace just from people jostling each other at the marketplaces.  "Ooops, 'scuse me.  Someone bumped me"  "Ummm, that's okay.  Hey, wanna hit McDonalds and get some McAnts on a stick?"

FL Josh also reports on my comment about steam and that it's pretty much relegated to ironing these days. You mentioned steam power.  Although not particularly romantic, nuclear powered ships are steam powered, the nuclear reactor generating the heat to make the steam. The newest US aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, is 1092 feet (333 meters) long and 257 feet (78 meters) wide, displaces 100,000 tons, can hit speeds in excess of 30+ knots (56+km/h, 35+ mph), and won't need to refuel for 20 years.  BIG streamship. The worlds first nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, was launched in 1960, is 1123 feet (342 meters) long, 257 feet (78 meters) wide, 93,000 tons displacement, and is still in service. 

Okay, I get the picture. Fancy being married to that guy!

Anyway, in a couple of hours from now I'll be at Taree railway station to check out 3237 as it arrives. Not sure at this point whether it will arrive under its own steam or be shunted by diesel loco. However when it leaves tomorrow morning on a trip to Grafton it will use its own power. I'll return then to do a little movie of all the huffing and puffing. It'll spend 6 weeks or so up around the Grafton area doing trips and then return to Taree early July for a passenger trip to Sydney. Hopefully, it'll do a local trip before that in which case I'll be on board.

I was walking down to the lemon tree to put more lemons in the FREE LEMONS box which is beside my front gate on the other side of the fence, and I asked a passing woman if she wanted some free lemons. So she said sure, and took three. Then she asked if I wanted some free basil. She had a big bunch in a carry bag. There ya go. So she gave me quite a few cuttings a few of which I planted. Fresh basil in the garden, yeah? I dunno if they'll take but they might. I'm not the world's greatest green thumb. Dig a hole, bung 'em in, water 'em and that's it. They smell nice tho, and I'll use some of the leaves in a bolognaise. Rosemary is another herb that's easy to grow. Averil's got a couple of bushes in her yard. Herbs! God's gift to cooking!

Okay, let's do the Beeb: A North Korean submarine's torpedo sank a South Korean navy ship on 26 March causing the loss of 46 sailors, an international report has found. Investigators said they had discovered part of the torpedo on the sea floor and it carried lettering that matched a North Korean design. Pyongyang rejected the claim as a "fabrication", South Korea's Yonhap agency reported. It said the North threatened war if sanctions were imposed by the South. But South Korean President Lee Myung-bak pledged to take "stern action" against the North. Now there's a nautical pun if ever I heard one. But this is very serious stuff. Bangkok remains tense after a night under curfew, following a Thai army crackdown on anti-government protesters. Surely there's a better way to resolve this dispute. The first oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill has reached a powerful current that could drag it to Florida, scientists say. I'm sure FL Josh will be following that story with interest. I'm sure all Floridians will. When such disasters affect your own backyard, they take on a whole new meaning. US President Barack Obama has vowed to pursue fresh UN sanctions against Iran despite Tehran's nuclear deal with Turkey and Brazil. Mr Obama telephoned Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan to say Iran's moves still "do not build confidence". So much for do unto others hehe. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has used the start of a state visit to the US to renew his attack on Arizona's controversial new immigration law. Mr Calderon said migrant workers were forced to "still live in the shadows and, occasionally, as in Arizona, they even face discrimination". President Barack Obama emphasised a message of solidarity, saying the US and Mexico would "stand together". While it suits us. The French cabinet has approved a bill making it illegal to wear in public clothes designed to hide the face. The legislation amounts to a ban on the full-face Muslim veil. When in Paris... Muslims living in Christian countries need to understand that they're not living in Muslim countries. I think they've got a bloody hide, actually. In Uganda, plans to introduce draconian new laws against homosexuality look likely to go ahead despite mass protests, a major petition, and condemnation from the international community. The bill, which proposes the death penalty for so-called 'serial offenders', has already been described as 'odious' by President Obama. Check out the BBC video report

Back from the railway station. All very interesting but the steam loco was pulled by a diesel, which disappointed most of the gathered crowd. Apparently there are some steep climbs on the way from Sydney and the 3237 was not designed for such heavy work. It had 6 carriages in tow though. It took a side track and parked some distance from the main platform where I was standing (along with everyone else). Still, it was interesting. I'll be back tomorrow when it leaves for Grafton. It'll depart the main platform so I should get some decent footage, plus a bunch of stills. I wanna check out the interiors of the carriages as well. I spoke to a Brit engineer who worked on the Brit railways for many years, and also an Aussie who worked for NSW railways for 54 years, most of those on steam locos which he described as "hot and dirty work". He spent the last 20 years driving diesel XPTs. He's retired now and is booked on tomorrow's trip. One question I asked the Brit was how they syncronize three steam locos linked together, all pulling the one train (which I saw on a Youchewb vid). He said they do it by "feel"... the drivers, that is. Diesels are different in that they're operated by computer which syncronizes all two or three locos used for pulling a long train. The driver is basically an observer and the computer does all the work. Not so with the old steam locos.

After tomorrow's shoot, I'll put an album together and post it on Aussie Odyssey, then I'll edit the video and post that on Youchewb. All very exciting, yes? 

Last but not least, a comment from Oregon Richie about steam: Steam engines... yeah.  Among other things... I think I mentioned before, that they were essentially the PRIME MOVER for the first Industrial Revolution.  Internal combustion, turbines, and what-not followed but it was the steamer that really got it all going... quite aside from other prime movers, be it animal, water, Dutch windmills, and... so forth.  Electricity fashions itself, no doubt... as second place in the hit parade, and of course... I have long held the belief that the CPU / microprocessor was and is the prime mover of the second ( or third ! ) industrial revolution.

So that's it for today. Fish n chips tonight. Gary

May 19, 2010. Reformatting the Codeman after all these years still makes me reach for the tissue box. No one I've ever known has impacted on me as much as the Codeman, or for as long.

Anyway, one more sleep till 3237 arrives in Taree. Steam obviously fascinates people, otherwise we wouldn't still have sayings such as 'full steam ahead', 'letting off steam', 'under his own steam', 'steaming into the harbor', etc. Steam these days is pretty much confined to ironing clothes but the metaphors are still alive and well. I love all that huffing and puffing, and smoke pouring from the chimney, and the sound of the steam whistle. Last time I rode in a steam loco was 2003 and I remember well the chuffa chuffa chuffa sound of the engine as it steamed along the track. Magic stuff. Diesels might be more efficient but they just ain't the same.

If I were being thoroughly professional here I'd be writing a shot list before the shoot. But... well... I'm lazy. I'll do it on the fly. Besides, unlike a pro shoot, I'm not sure at this stage what's gonna be available, such as meeting the engineer or whatever. Once I edit the vid and do a voice over, I'll post it on Youchewb. ME AND MY BIG MOUTH.

By chance I discovered a vid on Youchewb this morning about the old Sydney trams. I was about 17/18 when they were removed from Sydney's streets, and all the tracks dug up to be replaced by motor buses. Trams were great, and very efficient. Light rail has been introduced to Sydney but there are a lotta people who would prefer the old trams. In fact, Sydney had one of the most sophisticated tram networks of any city in the world. And they gave the whole thing away, the dickheads.

Beeb time: Gunfire is heard in central Bangkok, as army units advance on anti-government protesters, with five reported injured. Have you ever seen two dogs fighting? With their lips bared and their teeth showing? You can tell they're not in the mood to listen to compromise. The Tea Party's Rand Paul has defeated Republican establishment favourite Trey Grayson in the GOP Senate primary poll in Kentucky, partial results show. The outcome of these primary ballots will be seen as a key indicator of the volatile political mood in America. Polls suggest anti-incumbent sentiment is rife across the US. Many voters are concerned that the federal government is doing too little to foster economic recovery and cut wasteful spending, analysts say. Ah, politics. Who the hell would wanna be involved in that crazy business?A court in Malawi has convicted a gay couple of gross indecency and unnatural acts. Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were arrested in December 2009 after celebrating their engagement ahead of a wedding planned for 2010. They have been in jail ever since and now face 14 years in prison. Their arrest had sparked international condemnation and a debate about homosexuality in the country. Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa convicted both men of engaging in gay sex, which he said was "against the order of nature". They are to be sentenced on 20 May. Check out the grins on the faces of the onlookers. It's enough to make me puke. Bolivian President Evo Morales has handed the Pope a letter urging him to allow priests to marry. Mr Morales also asked the head of the Roman Catholic Church to admit women to the priesthood. Scrap celibacy? Oh, my goodness me! We can't have that! Next thing you know, they'll be asking us to wear pants! 

What that Malawi judge Nyakwawa wawa lala haha nana booboodeedoop nincompoop doesn't understand is that NOTHING exists that is not natural. Certain natural occurrences may be aberrations but they are not unnatural. Let me repeat, NOTHING exists that is not natural, otherwise it would not exist. For him to say that those convicted men engaged in activity that is "against the order of nature" is proof of the judge's ignorance - and those two men have paid the price for that ignorance. The judge is no better than the idiot clowns laughing in the background. I can't begin to tell you how disgusted I am. Check out the faces of those two unfortunate men... shamed by ignorance; shamed by pea-brains who know fuckall about nature. It's an absolute outrage that makes my blood boil.

I feel so damn sorry for those poor guys. Their crime is that they love each other and want to live together. That's a crime? Jesus Christ. A pox on Judge Wawa Lala Booboodeedoop Nincompoop and all his idiot kind. 

Soooooooooooooooo, what now? I dunno. Not easy to settle down after my little outburst. It's just that such injustice really gets under my skin - dickhead bureaucrats imposing their bullshit on others who are just going about their private business and doing no harm to anyone.

Actually, I think I'll call it a day. Gary

May 18, 2010. Dreary, wet day. Bleh. But at least it's an opportunity to recharge more camera batteries. No galavanting about outdoors today. Sooooo, doubtless there will be days on the Odyssey like this, in which case I'll probably be confined to the van. That would be insufferable if it were not for the laptop and the internet.

Lindsay mentioned that a local electronics store has Olympus digital compact cameras on spesh for just $68. Sheesh! 12MP and 3x zoom. He says he'll get one for the trip to England. He asked me where the memory card and battery go, so I showed him my Fuji compact. Then he asked where the film goes. Hehe. He has no concept of what digital means. Mind you, he has little concept of what anything means.

I'm kinda tempted to get one of those Olympus compacts but... I got 4 cameras already!

Recently, I mentioned Aussie author Ion Idriess and my interest in reading one of his books, Across the Nullarbor (back in 1951 in a Peugeot 203). The book is out of print so I applied for a National Library membership card, which I received this morning. It means I can access digital material in the library's archives. How cool! One of these days I'll be crossing the Nullarbor so it'll be interesting to read Idriess' account of 60 years ago before I do. Isn't the internet wonderful? I honestly dunno know what I'd do without it.

FL Josh wrote: Enjoyed the link to John Cleese on Sarah Palin.  He hit the nail right on the head that she is like a parrot, spouting out words that she doesn't have clue to their meaning. Here's a video of John Cleese at home.  Most of us think of celebrities living in mansions, and I guess most do, but John Cleese is more realistic.

BTW, Josh also sent a link to this story about young Greyson Chance getting a recording contract.

TX Greg has been working his Texas ring off getting various MrB stories posted to Codysworld. All of Daniel's Diary is posted and he's working on the Daniel short stories as well. I'd forgotten about some of those. How I wrote all that stuff plus 5 books astonishes me. What an extraordinary period of my life that was.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama will set up a commission to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, officials say. The horse has bolted, Barack... but maybe you can learn something about how to keep it in next time. The UN urges Thai protesters and the government to negotiate an end to the political crisis which has claimed dozens of lives. Let's hope common sense prevails. Trouble is, sense ain't all that common. Chinese tycoon and businessman Huang Guangyu is sentenced to 14 years in prison on bribery charges, state media reports. Power corrupts, yeah? Imagine how that guy feels now... it's a helluva long way down from the top. A US missionary has been convicted of trying to illegally take 33 children out of Haiti in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in January. The judge sentenced Laura Silsby, 40, to the time she had already spent in jail on remand, and said she was free to leave the country. Silsby, from Idaho, was caught with nine other Americans trying to take the children into the Dominican Republic. This is the kinda thing that happens when people believe they are acting on behalf of God and doing his will. It's lunatic stuff. Barack Obama made millions in book royalties last year and took delivery of a special $1,600 gift - the family dog Bo, financial records show. Royalties from "Dreams From My Father" and "Audacity of Hope" earned him at least $1m each, according to filings released by the White House. Bo, a Portuguese water dog given to the Obamas by the late Senator Edward Kennedy and his wife was valued at $1,600 in Mr Obama's financial disclosure form. That's about what it cost me in vet fees for Kelly II, and she wasn't worth anything at all... just another mutt from the pound. Robin Hood has failed to hit number one at the North America box office, landing behind last week's box office lead, Iron Man 2. The Ridley Scott movie, which opened the Cannes Film Festival last week, made $37.1m (£25.7m), while the Iron Man sequel netted $53m (£37.7m). The film, starring Russell Crowe, fell short of industry forecasts that it would take $40m (£27.7m). It is estimated Robin Hood cost at least $155m (£107.6m) to make. Guess how much it cost to write Green Room. Some 90% of gay men in the Asia-Pacific region are denied access to HIV/Aids help because of discriminatory laws in many states, a UN-backed report says. Almost half the region's countries criminalise gay male sex and the report says this is worsening a situation in which infection rates are climbing. Repressive laws "often take on the force of vigilantism", it argues. Repressive is right. Get real, dummies. Video sharing website YouTube now gets more than two billion hits daily. That's nearly double the number of people who tune into the US's three prime time TV stations combined, its owners Google have said. Twelve years ago, potential investors I spoke to said I was crazy for having an idea that was basically Youtube and Blogs combined. It'll never work, they said. Cest la vie. Iran has signed an agreement to send uranium abroad for enrichment after mediation talks in Tehran with Turkish and Brazilian leaders. Correspondents say the plan could revive a UN-backed proposal and may ward off another round of sanctions. But the BBC's Tehran correspondent says the deal will be viewed with scepticism in Western capitals, as Iran says it will continue enriching uranium. So what does that mean? One step forward, one step back? 

A Red Bubble photographer took a shot of a Baroque column in a 13th century Italian church - a fascinating perspective. I asked him about an odd looking gadget that seemed somewhat out of place. Yes, it's a security camera. He said, "It's Big Brother, not Our Father". Quite so.

Where the hell do I find these things? Here's a couple of crazy teens doing a mime. Very funny. I give it a 9. Oh, and do you understand German? Dozen madder. Check out this vid anyway... it's from a show called Who is the Sexiest German? And that's all I'm saying... mainly cos I just stuck a sock in my mouth.

Yes, folks, when things get a little dull, just check out Youchewb and you're sure to find an interesting diversion.

And now it's time to throw some vittles together... chicken schnitzels and corn fritters, with a squeeze of lemon, of which I have about 3 million. Why can't lemon trees ripen their fruit in stages? Why does it have to be all at once? Actually, the damn tree has a heap of babies already. It makes the human baby boomer period look like nothing happened. Gary

May 17, 2010. Half way through May already. Good thing the old steam loco will be rattling into Taree this week or I'd have no photo album for May. I am getting a bit slack in that department but that will change when I'm OUT THERE on the Odyssey. Matter of fact, I'm charging up the Fuji and the Sony at the mo. You never had to worry about that with the old mechanical cameras but everything is electronic these days. Batteries are big biz.

Cameras are getting more sophisticated, I notice, as well as cheaper. A pretty good DSLR with fixed zoom costs less than $500. Not quite up there with professional cameras but certainly good enough for most shots, and the quality is excellent. I've been surprised, for example, by having some shots taken with my el cheapo Fuji compact favorited and/or featured by groups on Red Bubble. And that's a $92 camera! (Actually, it's a $130 camera but it was on special). I know a pro photographer on Red Bubble who always takes his Canon compact where ever he goes and he says some of his best shots were taken using that little thing. His proper camera is an expensive Nikon DSLR worth several thousand dollars. So there ya go.

The thing is tho, you have to look the part. If you're shooting a wedding or a surf comp you're not credible if you're using a little compact. You've gotta have a lens as long as your arm to impress the audience. It's a case of perception. And I guess that's what sells things like penis enlargment pills and Harley Davidsons.

Old Ken, a neighbor, bought a used Canon 35mm film camera the other day from the Salvation Army store for $4. Hehe. Imagine that.

Beeb time: Britain's two busiest airports are closed as a volcanic ash cloud drifts further south, threatening disruption to thousands. Lindsay and Sue will be thrilled to hear about that... they plan to fly to Heathrow in August. The US has said the success of a move by oil giant BP to curb a leak in the Gulf of Mexico is "not clear" and the technique provides "no solution". It was responding to BP's move to siphon oil from the leaking well head to a tanker on the surface. A government statement said it would not rest until the leak was permanently sealed and the spill cleaned up. BP executive Kent Wells earlier said the siphoning process was "working extremely well". Settle down, guys. Some progress is better than no progress. Thai officials reject an offer of UN-moderated talks to resolve an increasingly violent dispute with protesters. A red-shirt leader, Nattawut Saikua, said protesters were willing to hold UN-moderated talks to end the stand-off, providing that the army withdrew from the area around the red-shirt camp. But government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn insisted that no outside help was needed. "We reject their demands for UN mediation... No Thai government has ever let anyone intervene with our internal affairs," he said. Sounds bull-headed and stubborn to me. Turkish officials say they believe a deal on Iran's nuclear programme is close, as PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew to join talks in Tehran. Mr Erdogan will try to persuade Iranian leaders to allow their nuclear material to be sent abroad for processing. Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is also at the talks. Sounds encouraging. Japan has hosted the world's first wedding to be conducted by a robot. The automated creature, known as the I-Fairy, oversaw the wedding of Tomohiro Shibata and Satoko Inoue in the capital, Tokyo. The couple decided to use the robot as they are both connected with Japan's thriving robotics industry. Since robots had brought them together in the first place, they said, having one officiate at their wedding was a natural choice. During the ceremony, I-Fairy - which has flashing eyes and plastic pigtails - instructed the groom to lift the bride's veil for the kiss. The wedding took part in a rooftop restaurant in the Japanese capital. Welcome to the 21st century, folks. England secured their first victory at an ICC limited-overs (cricket) tournament with a crushing seven-wicket win against Australia in the World Twenty20 final. Grrrrr

Back from shopping. I took a quick detour to the river and spotted a bunch of gulls just hanging around - pretty much typifying Taree today. Nothing much going on. *Yawn* You have to be careful when you approach those guys or they freak. Once one takes off, the rest follow. So I kinda pretended I wasn't interested and got into position without disturbing them. Hehe.

But back to being bull-headed and stubborn. Thailand's insistence that no outside help is needed to settle their internal affairs reminds me of Lindsay's reaction when I ask him why he does certain things that don't make a lotta sense. "Because I've always done it this way." Yeah... well there ya go. But then you expect Lindsay to not make a lotta sense because he's not the full quid. He could very well make a good politician.

Speaking of politicians and birds, namely parrots, Oregon Richie sent this link to a vid of John Cleese commenting on Sarah Palin.

I'm seriously considering doing a short vid of the 3237 steam loco's arrival in Taree this Thursday. I can do stills as well but I just wanna take the plunge into putting a vid together. A MOTION PICTURE! Woohoo! Naturally, I'm terrified because I've always been a wuss with anything new. I've also never used software to edit a vid. Eeeek! Sheesh... here I am at 65 but I still feel like a kid starting out. You know that excitement you feel when you try something new? Yeah... that's what I'm feeling.

Just phoned the local bloke who's involved with the arrival of the 3237 and he spoke for ages about the problems of parking the thing, turning it around, and de-ashing (coal ash is apparently toxic and has to be disposed of by burying - quite a change from the old days when people bought it by the bucket and put it on their gardens). The loco was scheduled to stop over for water and general maintenance at Taree without taking on passengers, but the local bloke changed all that - he and his wife volunteered to man the ticket desk. It will arrive at 2:30pm Thursday and stay overnight to leave at 8am Friday. I'll be there on both occasions to get whatever pics I can. The loco will return in early July for a local trip which I'll join.

And that's it! Dinner has been cooked, served and eaten already. Gary

May 16, 2010. Flying ain't my thing. And I'm not too crazy about landing fighter jets on a pitching aircraft carrier deck in rough seas at night. I can think of safer things to do. But FL Josh, an old air force guy, sent two links to vids about the dangers of such things. They're 10 minutes each but well worth the time to view. Gripping stuff for sure. It is about landing aircraft on a aircraft carrier deck, at night, in rough seas, when the deck is pitching 30 feet up and down and rocking from side to side.  Recovering aircraft in this scenario is more dangerous than the missions they fly. They have to send added aircraft up to refuel the fighters as they try and try again to land.  Everyone in the carrier holds his and her breath with each attempt.  Incidentally there are about 5,500 people on a carrier. These videos show how Naval Aviation is different from any other type of aviation. The highest stress levels every recorded in humans has been found in pilots landing on carriers.

Click here for link 1, and here for link 2.

How do you figure this? Young Josh mentioned yesterday that he didn't like the touch pad on laptops, and preferred the mouse. I've used a mouse for donkey's years - left handed. But now that I use the laptop I use the touch pad - right handed. There ya go.

The science program I watched on telly last night was about the erection of the Taipei Tower, and the technology used in its construction. It's built to withstand earthquakes and typhoons, both of which are prevalent in the area. One of the construction techniques is based on bamboo - incredibly strong but light and flexible. Another is based on a technology developed thousands of years ago... the outrigger on small sailing boats.  Yet another is based on 300 year old stream technology to pump water from mines. Yep, all pretty amazing. Skyscrapers are used in the same way we use shelves in our homes... lots more space using a small footprint. Skycrapers have been described as money-making machines. Taipei Tower can accommodate 10,000 people - that's a small city with a footprint the size of a city block.

Beeb time: Thailand's PM Abhisit Vejjajiva says troops will "push forward" with an operation to end a huge protest in the heart of Bangkok. Many of the protesters support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup. They want Mr Abhisit to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections. Well, if Abhisit says he represents the majority and has nothing to lose, then why not? Brazil's president is in Iran to hold talks with its leaders in what is seen as a last ditch attempt to find a compromise over the nuclear issue. President Lula's visit to Tehran has been described by both senior American and Russian officials as the last chance for a compromise before new sanctions are imposed on Iran. Teach them the Tango while you're at it, Lula. The US Episcopal Church has ordained an openly lesbian bishop in a move likely to increase the turmoil in the Anglican Communion. Saturday's ordination came despite warnings from the Archbishop of Canterbury that it would deepen an already bitter dispute on sexuality. If Christians can't agree on one God and one church, how could they possibly agree on anything else? The doctor accused of giving a fatal dose of anaesthetic to Michael Jackson has come to the rescue of a woman who fell unconscious on a plane. Dr Conrad Murray responded when cabin crew asked if a doctor was on board a US Airways flight, US media said. That'll change a few minds about the doc. Australians have gathered around Sydney harbour to welcome back teenager Jessica Watson from her record round-the-world sailing adventure. The 16-year-old is said to be the youngest person to sail non-stop, solo and unassisted around the world. Yep, the young lady in her pink boat got the royal pink carpet treatment in Sydney yesterday with the prime minister in attendance and a foreshore packed with thousands of well-wishers, and a harbor packed with boats.

But there are claims that Jessica didn't sail far enough, and her feat won't be recognized by the World Speed Sailing Record Council because they abandoned their under 18 category. She spent 7 months at sea sailing solo despite the critics who said the voyage was too dangerous for someone so young. Oh well, no matter what you do in life you get the knockers and the party poopers, most of whom I imagine have never done anything worthwhile. I also thought she was crazy to attempt such a dangerous mission but she did it, and she returned triumphant. Ya gotta admire anyone who can beat the odds no matter how crazy they are.

Just spotted a new 4WD covered in dirt. Bloody amazing. You see TV ads for those things climbing over rocks, negotiating the roughest of roads, and wading through mud and slush but you never see them like that in real life hehe. They're always clean and polished, with spotless wheels and tires... mostly used for taking the kids to school and shopping. Yeah, I mean who's gonna spend $100,000 on a vehicle and then trash it? You're better off buying an old Jeep or whatever to do the dirty work.

Once upon a time a Landcruiser or Land Rover or Jeep was a basic no-frills machine designed to do the hard yakka. Now they're all carpeted, with polished timber inserts, leather upholstery, air-conditioning, and fitted with all the posh gizmos including expensive mag wheels. Not the sort of thing you take off the highway and into the bush to get scratched to buggery and filthy. Funny innit?

'Innit?' is apparently a new internet word. Albert uses it, and he's a chat addict. 'Innit' has been British Cockney slang forever - short for 'isn't it?' Actually, 'isn't it?' is kinda weird as well. Remove the apostrophe and you have 'is not it?' Hehe. I gather that is short for 'is it not?'. So I guess 'innit?' is not so weird after all.

My older bro once said "I hope you're not using internet language in your books... English is such a beautiful language". Oh? What English? The English Shakespeare used? English changes with usage. Whether you like it or not, whether you approve of it or not, that is the case and is something up with which you must put. Language does not belong to the professors. It belongs to the people. And the people shall determine its evolution. In fact, all change is inevitable. AND... if all change is inevitable, and therefore desirable, imagine a place like Heaven, dear Breth, where there's no such thing as change; where a billion years is simply a clone of the previous billion as well as the next. Scary innit? :o)

And here we are again; the sun is beginning to set and it's time to think about feeding the troops. I've got some chicken sausages with fresh lime and spices. The troops have requested I serve them with chips. Sounds okay, I guess. Gary

May 15, 2010. Before I fergit, I've added a few more favs to my Red Bubble list. Check it out. Some really cool stuff there. When I look at that page of thumbnails I'm amazed by the diversity of subject material on RB... almost everything you can think of. 

Oregon Richie wrote: I'm personally surprised that the young lad of current YouTube fame (Greyson Chance) is getting as much attention as he is.  He's good, he's talented, but... don't quite see it to that extent.  Of course, even the internet has its own version of herd mentality, too.  People also LOVE to "discover" a new young talent. Yes, it's true that teen heart-throbs are soon overshadowed by the next rising star. Sadly disposable. There's an element of hysteria at the initial discovery that can fade pretty quickly, which is a shame. The problem with kids and teens is that they don't stay that way for very long, and the transition from kid star to adult star may not translate very well. Michael Jackson was a rare exception but I think it's probably wiser and safer to be "discovered" as an adult. It's a bit like people who buy a pet puppy and then become disappointed when it grows up.

2-minute noodles for lunch. Mmmm. Add an extra pinch of chilli powder, a sprinkle of dried parsley, a little ground pepper and Bob's yer uncle. I get the home brand which are as cheap as chips... probably less than 50 cents a bowl. And if you wanna make a proper meal out of it, you can throw in a bit of bacon or leftover chicken or whatever. Noodles will certainly be part of my Odyssey pantry. Actually, you can buy dried bacon chips that require no refrigeration. Stick around, ladies and genitals... I'll be a wealth of knowledge within a year or two of being on the road.

Actually, there was a very popular show on telly a while back called The Bush Tucker Man (photo) - with Les Hiddens. Each week, Les showed us how to survive out in the bush and how/where to find edible fruits and other foods. Most viewers lived in cities and had no intention of eating bush tucker but they watched the show anyway purely out of curiosity. Besides, Les was a pretty entertaining character. Many early European explorers perished in the Oz bush or outback not because of a lack of food and water but because they didn't know where or how to look for it. The Aborigines had survived out there for 40,000 years! Mind you, I intend to have a full larder on the Odyssey... NO witchety grubs. Click here for Les Hiddens Wiki bio. Oregon Richie will be impressed that Hiddens drove a Land Rover - two in fact.

Beeb time: UN chief Ban Ki-moon urges protesters and troops in Thailand to avoid more violence as a tense Bangkok stand-off continues. Yes, the old predictable "break it up you two!" from a bystander. Barack Obama vows to end the "cosy relationship" between oil companies and US regulators after the Gulf of Mexico disaster. Obama the feather ruffler. Hehe. Well, cosy relationships between business and bureaucrats can be a worry. Google admits its Street View cars have been wrongly gathering information from people's wi-fi activity for three years. Oops! Now you tell us! Indonesian security forces say they have uncovered a militant plot to assassinate the president and kill foreigners in a Mumbai-style attack. They say the plan was to strike during an Independence Day ceremony on 17 August, and declare an Islamic state. The militants also planned to take over hotels and kill foreigners, they said. Allah told us to do it. Some 20,000 pieces of mail - many more than a decade old - have been recovered from a postman's garage in the US city of Philadelphia. The missing mail is said to have included large numbers of cheques, bills and official letters. Many have since been delivered to bewildered residents of Bustleton, a north-eastern suburb of Philadelphia. "I got mail today from 2007," Kevin Carpenter told ABC News. "Pay-cheques, things like that that I needed - stuff from the social security administration and the IRS. I asked Dave [the postman] and Dave said he hadn't seen it but as soon as he got it he'd call me," Mr Carpenter added. Now that they've found the mail all they gotta do is find the missing postman. Mike Hussey hit an exceptional unbeaten 60 from 24 balls as Australia beat Pakistan by three wickets to set up an ICC World Twenty20 (cricket) final with England. It was the third highest winning run chase in Twenty20 internationals and arguably one of the greatest finishes to any match. The 34-year-old Hussey, known as Mr Cricket to his team-mates, hit six sixes in all to steer his side to an amazing victory and set up a mouthwatering final against their Ashes rivals on Sunday. Warms the cockles, that does. Hehe.

I'm by no means a cricket fan/follower or a fan of any other sport, really, but I must admit I do get a bit of a thrill when the Aussies win. At one stage it looked like the Aussies would lose that game but they rallied with a vengeance. "Never underestimate the green and yellow," someone said.

Kids can be brats, right? Check out this little darling. And here's GWB using his remote to open his garage door. And now for something completely different, Charley Bit Me.

I've been thinking about shooting a short movie with one of my digital cameras. I've had professional experience at putting wild footage together but only as a writer - a paper editor - not an actual editor. Maybe it's time to learn to push a few buttons. I saw a vid on Youchewb the other day shot on board the 3237 as it traveled through Sydney or somewhere but it was pretty wobbly as well as unedited. Just the wild footage as it was shot. I reckon I could do a better job, and I'd like to get some practice before I head off on the Odyssey. Stills in album form will be the main visual content, with a written journal, but a short vid now and then would be cool. I could add a voice over track in post production. It's just a matter of DOING it, and I've always been terrified of doing anything new. Hehe. What does the Nike slogan say?

I'm a notorious procrastinator as well. I just put a new battery in a quartz clock that's been idle for days.

Knock at the door. Young Josh! I've seen him around town a few times but haven't spoken to him for ages. He looks good and hasn't changed much. Still doing the whiskers thing with a little goatee. Anyway, he wanted to borrow the book I wrote about him... the story about the alien Joshua. Josh is named Jesse in the story. His NEW blonde girlfriend wants to read it hehe. He's got two part time jobs, one tutoring Aboriginal kids in grade 6 and another somewhere... I forget. But he's making $450 a week which is pretty damn good. More than me, the bugger. Next month, he's off to Coffs Harbor university to become a certified primary school teacher.  He won a scholarship. His girlfriend is going with him so they'll be like Mr and Mrs without the kids sharing a flat. She wants to study to become a pre-school carer/teacher. Sounds like a good match...a skinny kid with black hair and a blonde with big boobs. Anyway, it was good to see him again and great to hear that his plans are coming together.

Little Keiran has been a naughty boy. He's been chucked out of school a couple of times and is now living with his father in Newcastle for a "while". Newcastle is Australia's 5th largest city so high school there will be much different to high school in a country town like Taree. Hopefully, he'll settle down and learn a few lessons about how to behave. He's a good little bloke... just a bit highly spirited. I've seen him spit the dummy before, and if he were 6 foot something instead of 4 foot something, you'd be wise to duck. Hehe.

Josh wanted to know when I'm leaving on the Odyssey. Yeah. Me and my BIG mouth. But I'll get there.

And that's it... almost. T-bones for THEM and Asian thingies for me. They don't like Asian thingies so it's my opportunity to pig out on junk. BTW, those lean beef sausages last night were very nice - pan fried and no fat. Gary

May 14, 2010. Guess who's coming to Taree? 3237. Huh? It's a steam loco, a 32 class introduced to NSW railways in 1892. It arrives next Thursday and departs again Friday morning at 8am for Grafton. I won't be going on the trip because it's one way, and passengers have to make their own way back to Taree. But I'll be there at the railway station to take lotsa pics. It'll be back again in early July for a Taree shuttle (whatever that means - if it means a local trip that returns to Taree, I'll be on it).

The last time a steam loco visited Taree was back in 2003 and I was there, but the camera was a 2mp Kodak... not the best for high res prints. The loco was the 3801.

FL Josh wrote: Geez, Louise, that kid is incredible.  I Googled him and found his name is Greyson Michael Chance and he will be on Ellen today (the 13th I think and if not, then the 14th.) In visiting his site, I found it was interesting he is here in the states, in Oklahoma, and his last log onto youtube was two hours earlier.  It was 5:15am my time so I think it would have been 4:15 Oklahoma time, which means he was last on at 2;15am.  Kind of late for a 6th grader.  The article dated today, the 13th said he had gotten 3.7 million hits in the last 24 hours.  I noticed he had 5,469,541 when I checked and the video was posted on April 28th, so that was 6 and a half million in 15 days.  At that rate, all 6+ billion people in the world will have seen it by mid July, and youtube will be out of pixels!!!! [Note - in the hour and a half I was checking videos, Greyson picked up another 1,100,000 hits.]

Yep, Greyson is quite a kid... and scrubs up pretty well on telly too, being interviewed on a top-rating chat show.

FL Josh goes on to talk about Justin Bieber... from Ontario, that I saw on Oprah yesterday afternoon and he started posting videos on youtube and got discovered when he was 13.  I saw just now that one of his youtube videos has gotten 133,000,000 hits in 2 months.

Youtube, as well as the internet itself, has changed the world. Bloody amazing. This morning I was reformatting a couple of Codeman chapters and Cody was talking about Y2K. Remember that? Seems like ages ago. That was when the chicken littles were telling us that the whole computer/internet thing was gonna crash. I dunno if Cody got teary when he wrote those emails but I certainly do. Costs me a small fortune in tissues. And ya know something? If it hadn't been for the transfer of some MrB stories to Codysworld and the reformatting of the Codeman I don't think I would have re-read those emails. I was prepared to let sleeping dogs lie but that wasn't to be.

Beeb time: Thai security forces and anti-government protesters remain in a tense stand-off in Bangkok after clashes which killed one. I get the feeling sometimes that people actually enjoy confrontation. Maybe it relieves the boredom or something. US authorities arrest three men said to be linked to a suspect charged with the New York Times Square bomb attempt. Crooks have a habit of underestimating the cops ya know... hehe. The ability of Tibetans to live on the "roof of the world" may be down to their DNA, US researchers say. Two of the genes are linked to haemoglobin - the substance in blood that transports oxygen round the body. Doctors say the research, published in Science, could lead to treatments for severe forms of altitude sickness and other illnesses. One reason I never wear stilettos. A Taiwanese businessman has pleaded guilty in a US court to attempting to ship banned missile parts to Iran. Yi-Lan Chen was arrested in the US Pacific territory of Guam trying to ship thousands of components with dual military and civilian use. Such exports to Iran are banned under a US embargo. See what happens when you get greedy? A married teacher is poised to become Italy's first woman priest when she is ordained later this month in an Anglican church close to the Vatican. Maria Longhitano, a member of the breakaway Old Catholic Church, says she hopes her ordination will break down "prejudice" in the Roman Church. I think they mean a real one... not one that just walks funny and says 'hello sailor'. Hawaii has enacted a law allowing officials to ignore repetitive requests for US President Barack Obama's birth certificate. The measure is aimed at "birthers", who claim Mr Obama was not born in the US and is thus ineligible to be president. Mr Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961. Since the start of his run for the White House, Mr Obama has been hounded by rumours he was born not in Hawaii but in Kenya, his father's homeland; Indonesia, where he lived as a child; or elsewhere. I wonder if those same people have a problem with Jesus being a Jew. The number of US homes being repossessed hit an all-time high last month, but is set to start falling, says the body that tracks the figures. Banks took control of 92,432 properties in April, up 1% from March, and a 45% rise from a year earlier, said RealtyTrac. So what happens to the dispossessed? Cate Blanchett and Russell Crowe brought some red carpet glamour to the south of France as Robin Hood opened the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. The latest retelling of the legendary outlaw, from director Sir Ridley Scott, is not competing for an award. New Zealand-born Crowe, who plays the title role in Robin Hood, said: "There isn't a Robin Hood that's been done that gives me a satisfying feeling that I know the motivations of the individual, so that's what we attempted to do. There were many, many hours of discussion before we came to the fact that we'd better start at the beginning of the story and see how we do." Trust the Poms to remind us that Crowe is NZ born. They're jealous. He's as Aussie as they come. Bewdy-noworriesmate. A Moscow court has sentenced a Russian national to four years in prison for handing over state secrets to the US. Gennady Sipachev was found guilty of sending classified Russian military maps to the Pentagon via the internet. The maps can be used to make the targeting of US cruise missiles against Russian targets more accurate, Russia's security service officials said. 007 is alive and well, I see

Apart from the steam train next week, there's a lifestyle expo on this weekend in Taree. I went to the last one and .... well, it wasn't too impressive so I'll give this one a miss even though it might present a few photographic opportunities. I'm getting picky. I love steam trains though, and this time I'll do high res pics.

And the British elections? Well, if you want the whole mess put into humorous and insightful perspective, then you must read Stephen Fry's comments. Proportional representation, by the way, is the electoral system we have in Oz, and have for almost a century. I could never write like Fry, and would never even try, but I do enjoy his literary wizardry and wit.

AND it's that time again... bellies need to be filled. Lindsay suggested sausages the other day but I'm not too fond of the regular snags... too many chewy bits and crap. So I bought some "lean beef" sausages - a bit expensive but not overly - a little less than a dollar a snag. I'll pan fry them and serve them with fried onions, mashed potato and gravy. That should do the trick. Gary

May 13, 2010. I bought my first pouch of tobacco today at PM Rudd's new tax-increased price. Almost $30 for 2 ounces (I smoke an ounce a week). Bloody outrageous. Problem is, when a dickhead like Rudd introduces a new tax, and is accordingly voted out of office at the next election, the incoming twit doesn't abolish the existing tax. No, no, no. Politicians are pretty much tarred with the same brush. Yummy, yummy, yummy, money, money, money.

What I'd like to know is what it costs to manufacture and distribute a 2 oz (50g) pouch of tobacco. I'm guessing but I suspect a pouch could retail for between $2 and $3. I remember when a pack of tailor mades cost 40 cents. Tobacco companies can't advertise any more, or sponsor sport, etc, so where does the rest of the money go? No prizes for guessing. It sucks. Tax the bad guys.

Here's the bottom line: people addicted to nicotine have never broken the law. And are still not breaking the law. And yet Rudd the Dud sees fit to treat smokers like criminals. It's a fucking disgrace.

BUT... there are more pleasant subjects to discuss, like teens who can play the piano and sing like an angel. Justin posted this link on his blog. Check it out.  I believe this little dude has a guest spot on the Ellen D show coming up.

AND... here's a most amazing image captured by a Red Bubbler called A Cultural Divide.

It's been a busy day with bills and shopping and this and that, so let's do a quick Beeb: David Cameron prepares for his first cabinet meeting as UK prime minister, with the economy set to be be top of its agenda. It's wait and see time. The Thai army says it will surround a protest camp in Bangkok within hours, increasing pressure on opposition demonstrators. Maybe Gordon Brown is wishing he'd taken a leaf out of the Thai book hehe. I like Thai food tho. A serious disease has hit poppies in Afghanistan, driving up opium prices in the region, UN officials tell the BBC. Did somebody wake Allah? The device meant to stop oil leaking from a Gulf of Mexico well after last month's rig explosion was faulty, US Congressional investigators have said. The blowout preventer (BOP), a set of huge valves, had a hydraulic leak and a failed battery, they said after studying documents from BP and others. Oh dear, we don't need another disaster. Get it right, chaps! Aviation officials in Libya are investigating the plane crash that killed 103 people at Tripoli airport. The flight recorders have been recovered and handed over to analysts for clues on what brought down the Afriqiyah Airways flight on Wednesday. Police and rescue workers wearing surgical masks and gloves have been combing the wreckage of the Airbus A330 near the runway. Oregon Richie reckons those A330s can practically land themselves... this one.. and those flying it, sure megascrewed THAT pooch. I think he means pilot error. A former Serbian paramilitary leader suspected of war crimes has been arrested in Australia. Dragan Vasiljkovic was detained on the basis of information provided by the Netherlands, Australian officials said. He is wanted in Croatia for allegedly committing atrocities during its 1991-1995 war of independence. Mr Vasiljkovic, who is also an Australian citizen, denies committing war crimes but has admitted to killing people in combat. Australian Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said he would make a decision about Mr Vasiljkovic's extradition as soon as possible. In the meantime, he will be held in prison. If the accusations are true, we don't want the dude here. The Los Angeles city council has voted to boycott Arizona businesses in one of the strongest moves yet against the state's new immigration law. Council members agreed to bar official travel to Arizona and avoid new city contracts with state firms. Last month, Arizona passed a law requiring police to check the immigration status of people suspected of being in the US illegally. Opponents have rallied against the law, saying it encourages racial profiling. Integration is a bit like slow cooking, really. Takes a bloody long time for all the flavors to meld but the resulting dish is delicious. There are around 450 criminal gangs around the world making money from images of child sex abuse, the UK's Internet Watch Foundation has said. 450 criminal gangs and how many customers? It's a major worry. Then again, so is humanity. 

Well, that's it. I'm cooking din dins at the mo. I bought a whole bunch of stuff today but Lindsay wanted scrambled eggs and chips. Okay, no worries. Hehe. Too easy. Gary

May 12, 2010. Bit of drama overnight. My ISP went down, and both my websites were off line. I woke to a bunch of "Hey! What happened?" emails this morning hehe. How the hell would I know? I was asleep. TX Greg said the sites were down for 8 hours and I slept through the whole thing. Yeah, well, at my age whaddaya expect? My ISP suspects it was attacked by some hacker lunatic, but all is back to normal now.

Yesterday's summery conditions have gone AWOL... we've gone from 27C to 19C, which ain't too bad but there's a cold wind blowing. :(

The local crows have been trying to take over the hood lately but I noticed this morning that they're getting a bit of curry from the local magpies and some smaller birds who don't like the idea of being pushed around. Well, that's a positive sign. I don't like crows, and I like their calls even less. They're noisy bullies.

Beeb time: David Cameron is the UK's new prime minister, bringing the Conservatives back into power after 13 years, as the Liberal Democrats agree to a coalition. Mr Cameron, who is six months younger than Tony Blair was when he entered Downing Street in 1997, is the youngest prime minister since 1812 and the first Old Etonian to hold the office since the early 1960s. Stand by for Gordon Brown's memoirs. Seven children have been hacked to death in north-western China in the latest in a series of violent attacks on schools, state media report. At least 20 others were injured after the attack in Hanzhong city in Shaanxi province, Xinhua news agency reported, citing local authorities. China has been shaken by a spate of attacks on schools in recent weeks. Why? You tell me. Oil executives have traded blame in Congress over the Gulf Coast oil spill, as the battle to contain it continues. British oil giant BP told a Senate hearing a crucial safety device made by drilling contractor Transocean failed. Senators heard Transocean argue in turn that BP had been in charge and that a third firm, a BP contractor, did not plug the exploratory well properly. Yes, the blame game. I mentioned that a week ago. Blame solves nothing but people engage in it anyway. A Swedish artist who created an international furore by depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog was assaulted as he delivered a university lecture. Lars Vilks says he was head-butted by an audience member as he spoke about the limits of artistic freedom. The cartoonist's glasses were broken, but he was not injured. When you offend a person's deeply-held personal beliefs, you might as well be calling their mother a slut. It's just the way it is. It is meant to be a beautiful, melodic and spiritual start to the day. But the morning calls to prayer by some of Istanbul's muezzins and imams have had locals plugging their ears rather than reaching for their prayer books. Nothing worse than singing off key. Mind you, all that Middle Eastern and Far Eastern stuff stuff is anything but music to my ears anyway. Ten suspected Somali pirates captured by the Russian navy last week may have perished after their release, a defence source in Moscow has told reporters. Marines seized them during a dramatic operation to free a hijacked Russian oil tanker far from shore, killing an 11th suspect in the gun battle. They were released in an inflatable boat without navigational equipment. Within an hour, contact was lost with the boat's radio beacon, the defence source said. "It seems that they all died," the unnamed source was quoted as saying by Russia's Interfax news agency. I see. Well that explains the Russian's "generosity" at freeing the pirates Bye, bye, guys, bon voyage! Pope Benedict XVI says the clerical child abuse scandal shows that the greatest threat to Catholicism comes from "sin within" the Church. Sin within? Well, well, well, how about that. 

Yep, offend a person's taste in humor, music, art, religion or whatever else and you've got yourself an enemy. I don't get it. If I don't like something you like, or even worship, what difference does that make? It's not an insult. It's just a difference of opinion. And as I keep saying, opinion never made the world flat. Whether or not I believe in the existence of God or Allah makes no difference at all to whatever the reality is. So what's the problem? I know what the problem is - PEOPLE.

Hmmm. People. Ya can't live with 'em and ya can't live without 'em. As I've said before, I don't get a lotta elephants reading this page.

Sooooooooooooo, I've thrown a bunch of stuff in the pot... potato soup with bacon, extra chopped bacon, extra cubed potato, chopped leftover chicken, chopped onion, a handful of peas, a little milk, 2 tspns chicken stock powder, a sprinkle of Tabasco... and now it's simmering. Thick and chunky.. way to go.

I had a woman phone me today... a telemarketer from the RSPCA. I told her I was retired and on a pension and she said "you don't sound that old... maybe 50". So what I wanna know is what does "old" sound like? I think I know. It sounds like you've given up; like you've accepted defeat. It's in your voice. Mind you, I don't approve of people who "act" young. No, no, no. That's false. Embarrassing even. BUT, I think there's something to be said for the old adage, you're as young as you feel. And I don't feel old. Actually, I think more to the point is this: I don't think old. Okay, so I do the grumpy routine and carry on like I'm pissed off with the world but that's just an act for a bit of fun. I don't consciously feel that I'm 65 going on 30 but that's pretty much how it is. Hehe. Wrinkles on the outside, brand new on the inside. Yeah. Put it this way: if you're fair dinkum, you don't need to act.

Is there a secret to thinking young? I dunno. I reckon in my case it might have something to do with having met Cody. Then again, Cody never saw me as a peer, but rather as a fossil with empathy. He was happy to tell me all about his life despite the generation gap, which was considerable. So I'm not quite sure what the secret - if any - is. Steve confided in me as well... stuff that would not go down too well with adults like his parents. So why me? Hehe. I'm not sure. Trust? Maybe. Yeah... maybe that's it. If you believe that the person in whom you're placing your trust is honest and sincere, then that's the secret - if there is one. Gary

May 11, 2010. It appears that my ISP is down at the mo, which is a pain. Fortunately, it's a weekday so they'll be aware of it. Actually, it's the phone company. There's an outage in Sydney that's affecting NSW. Dammit.

Consistency is very important in life ya know. I just downloaded 2 emails from the Lottery office to say that none of my games had winning combinations. I'm very consistent in that regard. A bit too consistent, actually.

Oh yes... seems like the phone company outage in Sydney is fixed. The internet is my umbilical chord, and has been ever since I became addicted almost 20 years ago. Before the advent of the internet, I used to do boring things like the laundry and ironing and vacuuming. I'm being serious here. Check all the headstone inscriptions in a graveyard and you'll see nothing about laundry, ironing and vacuuming.

Got another little idea for a written piece on Red Bubble.

The interesting thing about writing those little 1+2 ditties is that I can express two points of view... and even a third if there's a 3 in there. I see them as little slices of life, something like a photograph. Capture it while you can. I came up with that idea almost 30 years ago. I'd bash something out on the old manual Olivetti and show it to my boss. He was a pretty good audience.

Another stunning day weatherwise and here I am sitting in my office. I should be shot (with blanks, of course).

Beeb time: Gordon Brown says he is to step down as leader of the Labour Party as the battle mounts to form the next UK government. I don't know a helluva lot about the bloke but I'll be sad to see him go. Global stock markets jump after Europe agrees measures to try to stop the Greek debt crisis affecting other countries. Gambling. That's what life is all about. Hehe. US President Barack Obama has revived a civilian nuclear energy pact with Moscow, which was shelved in the wake of Russia's 2008 conflict with Georgia. Mr Obama resubmitted the pact to Congress, saying US-Russian co-operation over Iran justified the move. The agreement would allow the transfer of technology and equipment, including reactors. Mr Obama has vowed to "reset" relations with Moscow, which became strained under his predecessor George W Bush. Cooperation is cool especially when your stick is bigger than the other guy's. BP officials desperate to stem a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will try to place a smaller dome over the blown-out well, it is reported. The so-called top hat dome could be in place within 72 hours, chief executive Tony Hayward said. The latest bid to plug the gushing well comes after previous attempts to stem the flow failed. I'm confident they'll succeed. They have no option. Eating nuts may help lower cholesterol levels, US research suggests. The review of 25 studies, involving nearly 600 people, showed eating on average 67g of nuts - a small bag - a day reduced cholesterol levels by 7.4%. Show me a squirrel with a cholesterol problem. Hairdressers, pet groomers and farmers worldwide are collecting hair and fur to help mop up the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The hair, stuffed into nylon tights, helps booms soak up thick oil spewing from the blown-out well off Louisiana. About 370,000 salons are taking part, said the charity organising the massive "hair lift". Matter of Trust is largely co-ordinating its efforts via Facebook. Bloody amazing. US singer and actress Lena Horne has died in New York at the age of 92. Renowned for her beauty and sultry voice, Horne battled against racial segregation to become Hollywood's first black sex symbol. How times have changed - for the better. Brain scans could be useful as lie detectors to show if a witness lies when identifying a suspect in a crime investigation, US researchers believe. Scientists at Stanford University were able to tell when a person recognised a mug shot by reading their brain waves. I could have used one of those gadgets during my dealings with certain people in the past. At least five people have been killed in tornadoes that have battered parts of the US state of Oklahoma, disaster officials say. The storms forced road closures, ripped up trees and flattened homes. No doubt about it... I'd freak if I saw one of those things approaching. 

I remarked in an email to Oregon Richie this morning that it seems so odd to have a jar of ashes still talking to me... as in the Codeman. Sad as it may be, amongst the tears (and there's no shortage of those) I still belly-laugh at how impossible that scallywag was - he had a terminal boner. His whole life revolved around hormones hehe. Ya know, if it hadn't actually happened I would never have believed it. But it also makes you think about life and how transient it is. How many billions of souls have passed this way and virtually gone unnoticed? I feel very fortunate indeed to have been the recipient of fragments of Cody's life and the opportunity to preserve them.

As to my own life, well... hopefully there are bits and pieces worth preserving. I'm just one of 6.5 billion people but... somebody's gotta stand up and wave his arms around. Actually, one Red Bubbler commented on the piece I wrote yesterday about Longevity. He says I really know how to make a story out of life's journey. So I wrote back and said, no no no, life tells the story... I just take notes.

Yes, notes. Most people don't take notes. Well, maybe they do but they don't write them down.

And that roast chicken and spuds last night? Maaaaaaaaate! Awesome. Two hours in a slow oven does wonders ya know. And because the chicken is cooked in an oven bag, it stays moist. The flesh is so tender and tasty (thanks to the marinade) I can't begin to tell you. I've got some left over which I'll throw into a pot with chopped bacon, diced potato, chopped onion, a handful of peas, a can of condensed potato soup, a little milk, a few drops of Tabasco, and simmer it until the potato is tender (but not mushy). Mmmmm! Do you use Tabasco? It's wicked. A little bottle lasts for ages cos I only use a few drops at a time. But it makes a huge diff. Piquancy is the word, I think.

Terry Everson just posted a pic of a country homestead in Oz, western NSW. It's so typical of that part of the country, and the colors are magic. Check it out. Yes, I can imagine sitting on the front veranda being treated to freshly baked scones with cream and jam, served with a nice cuppa.

Fish 'n' chips tonight. No... I'm outta spuds. So it'll be fish 'n' hash browns. That's okay... and it's easier. Gary

May 10, 2010. That pie I had last night, the one with the Guinness infused gravy, was the best pie I've ever tasted. Sensational. It was marked down to $3 so the regular price would be $4+ - not cheap for one serving. But definitely yummy. I added nothing except a bit of ground pepper.

One of my Red Bubble mates posted a pic this morning - one that made me think of the Odyssey hehe. Yeah, beer in one hand, smoke in the other, just relaxing in the bush. Terry and his brother Ken traveled Oz quite extensively as young blokes in a Hillman Imp. I'm amazed that the little Hillman managed the rough roads, but it did... and Terry says it did 60,000 miles before he sold it. As you can see, all these decades later they're still at it, albeit in a more modern 4WD machine.

Meanwhile, I posted a little ditty of my own.

And check this out for a novel way to tour Oz.

Beeb time: Polls open in the Philippines for presidential and local elections after three months of intense campaigning. When you live in a country like Australia it's not easy to understand all the political crap that other countries seem to endure. A Chinese man who spent almost 10 years in prison for murder has been freed after his supposed victim was found alive. And what's the bet all the finger-pointers conveniently vanish from sight. The US has evidence the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attempted car bombing in New York's Times Square, Attorney General Eric Holder says. Mr Holder said the militants helped to facilitate the plot, and "probably helped finance it". Like all good gardeners, we need to be ever vigilant about ridding our plots of weeds. It's on ongoing chore I'm afraid. The Twitter account of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has become the most popular in Venezuela, with more than a quarter of a million followers. Mr Chavez says he has hired 200 people to read through the many messages he receives on the social networking site. He says over 18% of the messages he receives are hostile. He deals with the negative messages by laughing them off or sending back jokes. "I don't care," he said, "it's a form of contact with the world." It's a pity Twitter wasn't around when Hitler was in power. How fascinating would that have been? Mind you, I suspect Barack Obama gets his share of abuse as well. It's the nature of the Human Twit. Australia continued their unbeaten run in the ICC (cricket) World Twenty20 as they saw off Sri Lanka by 81 runs in Barbados. Though each team still have one game to play in the Super Eights, only an odd set of circumstances will deprive Australia of a semi-final berth. Bloody Aussie smartasses

Yes, good ol' Oz. I always vote for the OYGNWM party here. Owyagoinnoworriesmate. It's an ancient Aboriginal word meaning bugger it.

My lemon trees don't understand when enough is enough. I took a stack over to a neighbor's house the other day and now the remaining lemons are ripening. I just brought an armful into the kitchen, way too many for us to use. It's ridiculous. And it won't be long before the lemons remaining on the tree ripen as well.

Chris, the bloke who did the rust job on Bluey about a year ago phoned. I left a message on his front door to contact me re a couple of rust spots. I noticed one on the front passenger door pillar the other day. Nothing serious but rust has a habit of spreading if you ignore it. There are a few other spots as well I've noticed over the past 12 months, and the battery tray doesn't look too good. Sooooo, I guess I should get it all fixed. I'm not too thrilled about spending money on a car I intend to sell but... what if I decide not to sell it? Anyway, he asked me to phone again in a couple of weeks and book it in.

This is all pretty riveting stuff, yes? Hehe. I've got a chicken in the oven... a marinated, bagged one. 2 hours on medium does the trick - tender and fall-off-the-bone. About half way through, I throw in some quartered spuds, sprayed with cooking oil and sprinkled with mixed herbs to roast until golden brown. I make the gravy with powdered chicken stock and spoonfuls of the juice from the roasting chicken.

And that's it for another day. Apologies for nothing terribly exciting. But that's the way it is sometimes. Oh, almost forgot, TX Greg posted the remaining Daniel's Diary stories on Codysworld, so that's worth mentioning... and he's working on the Daniel short stories as well. Greg's the kinda guy you can't buy, ya know. He's a gem. Gary

May 9, 2010. Stunning day weatherwise, and I see that the bird of paradise has produced one flower so far, while the camelia is budding like crazy. And where am I? Don't ask.

I was thinking this morning that this Toshiba laptop is a pretty nifty machine. I bought it over 2 years ago on eBay, almost brand new. But during those 2 years, it remained in its carry case for weeks, even months, at a time before being used infrequently. I was determined to stick to the old desktop despite its slowness and faults. Old habits die hard, yeah? Now that I've gotten used to the laptop, I wouldn't go back to the old desktop for quids. But it took the death of the desktop to force me to use the laptop on a regular basis.

Soooooooooooo, I'm hoping that's the way it will be on the Odyssey. I still suffer from grave doubts about living in a campervan, constantly on the road - a vagabond of no fixed abode. Eeeek! But there's a chance I might think "hey, this is pretty cool!" and I'm hoping that's what happens. Hehe. As they say in the Northern Territory tourism ads, "You'll never never know, if you never never go". The 'never never' is a colloquial term for the Aussie outback.

FL Josh commented on my little song and dance about the tax increase on tobacco: The tax increase is a LOT more than 3 times as much for you than PM Rudd. ... Those near the bottom of the socioeconomic scale have very little discretionary income while those higher up have increasingly more. ... I remember some years ago Bill Gates getting a lot of attention for giving something like a million dollars to some worthy cause, and the media was just eating up how generous he was.  At the time he was making something like ten billion a year, so if we assume after taxes and paying all his necessary expenses, he was left with five billion in discretionary, that million dollars was one five thousandth of his discretionary income.  If someone who had $500 a month discretionary income, they could match Gate's generosity by dropping a dime in a beggar 's cup, and if they outdo Gates by tenfold, and put a dollar in that beggar's cup, they still won't get any media attention.

Josh went on to talk about the cost of smokers to the health system. Well, yes, that's true. But you can't go around refusing medical treatment to motor accident victims who were at fault because they were speeding or whatever. The health system is there for everyone, rich or poor, guilty or innocent. I've cost the system by having a heart attack, but I've also saved the system heaps of dough because I never married and never had kids. Should I bitch about couples who breed like rabbits? Blaming smokers for costing the health system is simplistic. There are smokers whose contribution to society has been immense while there are non-smokers who have contributed virtually nothing. The reverse is also true, but they are things you can't really measure by generalizing. A health system has to take the good with the bad, end of story. It's like insurance. If you insure your property for 50 years and never make a claim, that's not the point.

Anyway, I dunno what I'd do without FL Josh hehe. He livens up my day.

Beeb time: EU finance ministers will discuss establishing a new "stabilisation mechanism" to prevent the Greek debt crisis from spreading. Very sensible. If you're all sleeping in the same bed, you need to make arrangements about nobody farting. Senior Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are to hold more talks in a bid to agree terms for a power-sharing UK government. Speaking of bed fellows... and Oregon Richie wants to know why they're called fellows in bed. Hehe. The oil company, BP, has encountered problems with the containment device it is trying to put over a blown-out well on the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico. Chief operating officer Doug Suttles said the 98-tonne concrete-and-steel box had to be moved, after ice-like crystals began accumulating inside it. He said BP's engineers hoped they could find a solution to the problem. Well, problems create solutions, so there would be no solutions if there were no problems. And we can't all sit around all day with nothing to do. Yeah? There has been an angry reaction in Australia after television producers cast a Caucasian man in the role of a Chinese-Australian war hero. Billy Sing was a hero of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I, but a TV drama has him cast as a white man. The producers say they could not find a 60-year-old Chinese actor to play Billy Sing's father, so both parts will be played by white actors. They have been accused of re-writing Australian history. Aside from that, Sing died alone in a boarding house aged 57, worth the princely sum of 20 pounds 5 shillings after having been awarded one of Australia's most prestigious military medals. Read the story here

Yes, one of Billy Sing's mates at Gallipoli was Ion Idriess, an Aussie larrikin and rousabout who later became a prolific author. He wrote over 50 books in 43 years. I remember as a kid reading one of his books (The Desert Column) about his time at Gallipoli and being horrified by his descriptions of the utter chaos and degradation there, which he saw with his own eyes. As to casting Caucasions to play the roles of Billy and his father, I think that's a serious mistake. It's like the old Hollywood days when they cast white guys to play Indian chiefs and English Cocknies to play Australians.

Actually, I've just noted that Idriess wrote a book called Across the Nullarbor (1951), an account of his drive from Sydney to Perth across the Nullarbor and back in a Peugeot 203. That would be an interesting read for sure!

Coming up to 5pm now and you know what that means. THEY are having porterhouse steaks and onions and I'm having a pie. I saw it yesterday at the bakery section of the supermarket, marked down to $3. Beef and Guiness Pie... a delicious homestyle classic, filled with tender, slowly braised chunks of beef with potato, in a Guiness infused gravy. Hmmm. It was marked down cos today is its use-by date.

By the way, I watched a science program last night about a giant million-ton platform in the North Sea off Norway used for extracting gas from the below the ocean floor. All very interesting, and the technology used to erect and stabilize the platform was fascinating... a vacuum system to anchor the platform to the seabed, seamless hollow concrete "legs" to withstand tremendous pressures at great depths as well as the force of huge waves at the surface, and a special suction system that extracts the gas after the intial pressure dies down... all that kinda stuff which I find riveting. I remember finding science a boring subject at school but I think the problem was the way it was presented. Boring and unimaginative.

Anyway, time to split! Gary

May 8, 2010. I'm still posting two Codeman chapters a day, and I'm here to tellya that "listening" to Cody talk to me after almost a decade of being dead is quite amazing. I've lost my parents and a brother already, but I have very little recollection of conversations with them. Ditto various friends. But Cody was different because he wrote it all down. Even then I didn't save all of it... but enough to put the big picture together. How many times does something like that happen in a person's life?

After some weeks of deliberation, I finally wrote the About MrB page for Codysworld. I'm not comfortable writing about myself but TX Greg suggested it so.... there ya go. Greg also mentioned that Francois congratulated him on his work with Codysworld, which was good of Francois. I think Greg has done a fabulous job.

Speaking of fabulous, I watched a program last night about words and their origins. It fascinates me that words can change their meanings over time. Words like frightful, terrible, awful and awesome, for example, started out to describe horrible situations. But now you get expressions like "frightfully nice", or "terribly handsome", or "awfully generous" hehe. Such words are called enhancers. Awesome, of course, is now used to describe anything good, and is especially used by kids to describe something they admire.

Just spoke to Averil on the phone to see if she needs anything when I go shopping later today, and I mentioned PM Rudd's 20% increase on tobacco. My beef is that 20% to a person earning $1000 a week is a pittance compared to what I make as a pensioner. It means the tax increase is 3 times as much for me. Pensioners have few pleasures by comparison. We don't dine in restaurants, we don't go to clubs, we stay home Saturday nights, we don't splurge on luxuries. And yet when a tax is imposed on something like tobacco WE pay the highest price. People like Rudd see themselves as having a divine right to save us nobodies from ourselves. Bleh. Anyway, Averil tells me that I'm not the only one pissed off, and that some letters to the editors of various newspapers have already stated opinions similar to my own. Good. It also occurred to me that we smokers are saving the government billions of pension dollars by falling off the perch 10 years earlier than we would if we didn't smoke. So what does he want? Does he want us to live longer and cost the government a fortune by extending the life span of each pensioner? Does he want us all to quit smoking and lose billions in tobacco tax revenue? The bloke's a bloody drongo, and I sincerely hope he doesn't get a second term.

Anyone who aspires to be a politician, a cop, a priest or a bureaucrat is a person who sees himself as someone with a right to control others. And I'm not too crazy about having a ring in my nose.

Running a bit late today so I'd better check the Beeb! Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is set to hold talks with his MPs as he weighs up the offer of a power-sharing deal with the Conservatives. More than a day after the polls closed, it remains unclear who will lead the country after the general election delivered a hung Parliament. David Cameron approached the Lib Dems after the Tories won the most seats but finished 20 short of a majority. Labour leader Gordon Brown also said he was prepared to talk to the Lib Dems. What a mess. Eurozone leaders approve an 110bn euro ($145bn; £95bn) loan to Greece to prevent its debt crisis from spreading. And it's not just out of the goodness of their hearts. A giant concrete-and-steel funnel has been placed over a blown-out oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico in a bid to contain oil leaking from it. The oil firm, BP, said it might take up to 12 hours for the containment device to settle in place, but that everything appeared to be going as planned. It is hoped it will be able to collect as much as 85% of the oil and begin funnelling it to ships above by Monday. Fingers crossed. What was billed as the Muslim world's first nudist hotel has been forced to close, just six days after it opened. It was shut after a local authority inspection which found that one of the balconies did not conform to the architect's drawings. God/Allah created nudity ya know. Man created clothes. I don't get it. Australia beat India by 49 runs in their opening Super Eights clash at the ICC World Twenty20 after a supreme display with bat and ball in Barbados. 21m Vs 1.2bn - not bad. :o) The chief of the Chicago commuter rail system has killed himself by stepping in front of a speeding train, officials have said. Philip Pagano was under investigation over alleged financial irregularities and was on paid leave. How ironic. Lithuania's first gay pride parade can go ahead as planned on Saturday, an appeals court has ruled. Earlier this week, a lower court outlawed the parade after the chief prosecutor argued that anti-gay groups could cause violence. But the appeals court ruled that the state must ensure the right to peaceful assembly. Correspondents say that homosexuality is seen as taboo by many in Lithuania, a majority Roman Catholic country. If there were no straight bigots and religious nutters, there would be no need for gays to demonstrate

Is the world crazy or is it just me? I sometimes wonder.

A Red Bubbler posted a portrait today of an Aboriginal man looking a bit worse for wear, and said it's a terrible thing in this day and age in Australia to see the desperation of an Aboriginal man. Well, yes. But I've fallen for that trick many times in my life (with people of various ethnicity), and I've drawn the line... no more bleeding heart. I was a teen in Sydney when a tramp approached me and asked for twopence for a box of matches. I offered him a box of matches instead of the twopence but he wouldn't take it. And even back then I understood why... he wanted the twopence to put towards a bottle of methylated spirits. Those guys can smell a bleeding heart from 100 yards, and they'll take you for whatever you got if you let them.

Anyway, it's that time of day again... bacon, eggs and chips. I did a bit of shopping today for Averil and us, but took Bluey to the car wash first. She's all bright and shiny and clean now. The attendant was there and remembered me from last time when he took a few pics of Bluey going through the wash. I gave him an Aussie Odyssey card so that he could check out the pics on line. Hehe. He's a nice guy who enjoys a bit of a chat. Gary

May 7, 2010. 50 years ago I became quite a fan of Ray Conniff and his orchestra. Hehe. Sounds a bit corny now, and even back then it was pretty odd for a teen to like Middle of the Road music. But I liked the way Conniff used voices as instruments. He used vocal sounds rather than words. Well, this morning I got a note from FL Josh: Adiemus is the title of a series of albums by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins (born 17 February 1944). It is also the title of the opening track on the first album in the series, Songs of Sanctuary (1995). Songs of Sanctuary was a huge commercial success, topping classical album charts. It is considered by critics to be the quintessential album, on which Jenkins' vision succeeds to the greatest extent with the fewest resources

Each Adiemus album is a collection of song-length pieces featuring harmonized vocal melody against an orchestral background. There are no lyrics as such: instead the vocalists sing syllables and 'words' invented by Jenkins. However, rather than creating musical interest from patterns of phonemes (as in scat singing, or in numerous classical and crossover compositions), the language of Adiemus is carefully stylized so as not to distract the listener's attention from the pitch and timbre of the voice—for example, syllables ending in consonants are rare. The core concept of Adiemus is that the voice should be allowed to function as nothing more than an instrument, an approach that has become something of a trend in recent choral writing.

When I followed the link and listened, I was expecting something a bit too "cultured" for my taste but I was pleasantly surprised. It's very nice indeed.

My dreams tend to be somewhat eccentric but last night's was even more so. I dreamed I had a pet tiger hehe. He was very large as in HUMUNGOUS, lemme tellya, and a tad intimidating, but he was literally a big puddy tat and very affectionate. Now I'm wondering what he was supposed to represent... if anything. I'm not a dream analyst.

There was an interesting program on tele last night - Catalyst - which did a story on trickery; magicians and their slight of hand. Scientists decided to investigate what it was about the art of magic that confuses the brain, and convinced the magicians to divulge their secrets. Most intriguing! Basically, the brain processes information it receives... but not information it doesn't. Yeah? The trick is to understand the difference.

Beeb time: Oil from a massive slick in the Gulf of Mexico has started washing ashore on a chain of islands off the coast of Louisiana, officials say. Stop talking about it and clean it up. Many people alive today possess some Neanderthal ancestry, according to a landmark scientific study. The finding has surprised many experts, as previous genetic evidence suggested the Neanderthals made little or no contribution to our inheritance. The result comes from analysis of the Neanderthal genome - the "instruction manual" describing how these ancient humans were put together. Between 1%-4% of the genomes of people in Eurasia come from Neanderthals. But the study confirms living humans overwhelmingly trace their ancestry to a small population of Africans who later spread out across the world. You betcha... and quite a few of them live in this neighborhood. Russian forces have freed the crew of a Russian oil tanker seized by Somali pirates off the coast of Yemen, in a dramatic rescue operation. Forces based on the warship Marshal Shaposhnikov approached the tanker with 23 Russian crew on board. The Russian forces then boarded the Moscow University tanker, freeing the crew who had locked themselves in a safe room after disabling their ship. As they did so, the pirates opened fire, sparking a shoot-out. Ten pirates have been arrested, and one was killed during the gun battle. They are being held aboard the tanker, Russian defence ministry spokesman Col Alexei Kuznetsov said. They will be transferred to Moscow to face charges. You bet they will... bloody idiot pirates. Tiger Woods fought back from last week's missed cut with a first-round 70 to lie four shots off the lead at the Players Championship in Florida. It'll be interesting to see how this bloke battles his own personal demons to get his life back on track. Hundreds of voters have been turned away and police called to deal with queues as people struggled to vote before polls closed at 2200 BST. Voters were left "fuming" when they were turned away in Manchester, there were three-hour queues in Sheffield and ballot papers ran out in Liverpool. The Electoral Commission announced a "thorough review" as people were also turned away in London and Birmingham. The main parties all expressed concerns and some results may be challenged. It's been a long time since an election in Britain has attracted this much attention. Looks like the conservatives have got it by the knackers though. Tony Blair must have known what was in store when he chose to resign.

Yes, idiots like those Somali pirates. There's not a lot you can do about idiots. Their brains don't work properly so it's not like you can spray them with WD40 to fix the problem. If you've got a 500cc Fiat Bambino engine driving a Mack truck it just ain't gonna work. I'm not sure that was an appropriate analogy - there's nothing wrong with a 500cc Fiat engine - but you know what I mean. What worries me is that idiots can be and are recruited by evil bastards to do their dirty work - like suicide bombers - people stupid enough to believe the crap they're told. Soldiers are not called cannon fodder for nuthin' ya know. Some people prefer to have their thinking done for them, either that or they're just too damn lazy.

Actually, if you're inclined to be a con artist, it's a pretty easy job. It's like giving a horse a lump of sugar, or rewarding a dog for fetching a ball. Feed a person's ego and they're all yours. But there's a bit of an art to it. Ask a girl if she ever worked as a beauty consultant and she'll ask why. But if you tell her straight out she's attractive she'll think you're hitting on her. Ask a bloke if he plays tennis and he'll ask why. But tell him straight out he's got nice legs and he'll break your nose. So to be a good con artist you gotta be a bit devious. Hehe.

Well, it's that time of day again... time to feed the troops. Pork chops tonight, with spuds and a bit of gravy. Gary

May 6, 2010. Lovely day again but a bit chilly in the mornings. That's okay tho... it's nice to spend a bit of extra time in a cosy warm bed. I don't use an alarm so I wake when I wake. If I'd been in the army I would have spent most of my time in the stockade for ignoring the bugle.

Beeb time: Fifty-eight-year-old Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua died at his villa on Wednesday, state TV announces. Not hard to do ya know... I had my heart attack at 58. Greece's president warns the country is "on the brink of the abyss" after three people die in protests over austerity measures. Sad. The world owes ancient Greece so much. BP seals the smallest of the three leaks spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico, as it prepares to cover the site with an iron box. Progress! Actually, I like the way BP has gone about the business of solving the problem calmly and methodically despite the cries of the Chicken Littles. A Ku Klux Klan leader has pleaded guilty to murdering a woman recruit, a day after an initiation rite in the US state of Louisiana in 2008. Raymond Foster, 45, of the Louisiana town of Bogalusa, was sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder of Cynthia Lynch. A former KKK member testified that Foster shot Ms Lynch, 43, after she told him: "I want out", AP reports. KKK is just another word for lunatic. A Russian warship is rushing to assist an oil tanker bound for China which has been hijacked by Somali pirates. The Marshal Shaposhnikov was heading towards the Moscow University, which was attacked 900km (560 miles) off the Somali coast, officials said. The 23 Russian crew on board are reported to have locked themselves in the ship's radar room. I think the Somali pirates have bitten off more than they can chew this time. The Russians aren't well known for their patience or tolerance. 

Well, well, well, just look at the time. After 4pm already and all I've done is fiddle and fart... and a bit of shopping. As you know, Cody used to refer to me occasionally as the fossil. Well, Brayan from Brazil is studying geology at university, which includes paleontology. But hey, be happy, you're hundred of times younger than what it takes to be classified as a fossil, what would be around 11.000 years or more. And you know one thing? You have a vital spirit that is more active than lots of young people I know (unfortunately, I'm one of them ;-;). Hmmm, maybe I do. Brayan also says that the corridor that leads to the Geology building is the opposite way to the Oceanography building, and every time he passes it he thinks of Cody. Isn't that sweet? Cody had no idea how much influence he had, or would have after his death. No idea at all.

Anyway, it's time to do the kitchen ritual again for the troops... chicken breast burgers, hash browns and corn fritters. A quiet day, folks. Gary

May 5, 2010. My main errand for the day is to drive Averil to the cemetery to visit the graves of Kev and also her mother (for Mother's Day). It was 3 years ago that Kev died (May 3). This will be Averil's first ride in Bluey.

BACK! Av didn't stay long. Shortly after Kev died, she would spend 10 or 15 minutes at the gravesite for a "chat" but now all he gets is a few minutes and some chrysanthemums. And she thinks Bluey is cool. It's easier to get in and out of than a Hyundai 4WD (her usual transport) she reckons. "If all those bloody airbags went off in that damn Hyundai," she said, "they wouldn't find me for a week!"

While we were at the cemetery, we saw a flock of black cockatoos fly past - slowly, as they do. They make a bloody racket though with all their squawking. Black cockatoos are pretty rare, even around here in the countryside. I haven't seen many white cockatoos around here either. Out in the bush, cockatoos give the farmers hell. They're wonderful birds but can be very destructive. Farmers in Oz are often referred to as 'bush cockys'.

Well, I'm having a pretty good Bubble day. First thing this morning I woke to the news that I'd scored a Top 10 rating in a photographic challenge, and just now I got a message to say one of my pics has been featured in the "Which Way" group. Pretty flash, huh? I'm certainly not a great photographer but I do manage to kick a few goals now and then.

Beeb time: Details emerge of how the New York bombing suspect was arrested just minutes before leaving the country. Judging by his photo, he looks Middle Eastern. How odd. Anyway, he got busted, which is good. Allah must've been snoozing. Greek transport workers join civil servants in a general strike over austerity measures planned in exchange for international help. Hey guys, when the pantry's empty you can't dine on caviar. Pablo Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust sells for a record-breaking $106m at auction in New York. This is where people involved in regular porn have got it all wrong... it's gotta be all weird and indecipherable to be worth big bucks. A giant iron funnel being built in a bid to halt the huge spill from a Gulf of Mexico well will be deployed to the seabed on Thursday, BP says. The 98-tonne, dome-topped box being built by steel workers will be connected to a drill ship and lowered to the sea floor. BP has never deployed such a structure at a depth of 5,000ft (1,500 metres) and difficulties may occur, it says. "There's no guarantees," BP boss Tony Hayward told AP news agency. "We'll undoubtedly encounter some issues as we go through that process. But if that was a good outcome, then you would have the principal leak contained by the early part of next week," Mr Hayward said. I wish them well (no pun intended). A comic book shop owner in Australia became a real-life superhero when he caught a robber red-handed. Michael Baulderstone, who was dressed as Spider-Man for a promotional event, spied a customer behaving suspiciously. CCTV footage shows him "leap" into action and confront the would-be shoplifter who had slipped a AU$160 (£97) X-Men book into his bag. Mr Baulderstone said customers at the shop in Adelaide thought it was a stunt until he asked them to call the police. That's one call-out the cops won't forget in a hurry hehe. Making fruit look good holds the key to getting children to eat more of it, a study suggests. In tests, when offered the same amount and types of fruit, children ate far more if it was made fun and attractive, the journal Appetite reports. Abso-bloody-lutely! Show me a banana split with cream and chocolate topping and I'm all yours. Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) web browser, now accounts for less than 60% of the market, down from 95% at its peak in 2003, according to new figures. Still a hefty majority though. Other browsers would kill for it. Just four weeks after release Apple has announced it has sold one million iPads. Helped by a massive amount of hype ahead of launch day on 3 April this latest set of figures mean it's selling faster than the iPhone did when it was released. Bloody amazing... 1M in a month!

Yep, fruit can look pretty damn impressive if you serve it in a creative way. I love all the colors of a fruit salad, for example. But you can't make a fruit salad for one without buying half the damn shop. That's the problem. Watermelons are great too but show me a watermelon the size of an orange. Passionfruit... now there's something special... dribbled over ice cream, or better still sorbet. Sorbet is to die for. Not sure I have a fav but I do love Kiwifruit (gooseberries), and that green flesh looks totally awesome. My fav jam is blackcurrant. Yum!

I gave J a prod on Justin's Blog about the Arizona immigration situation and got quite a response. He was awake after all! There's no way I'm gonna argue with that bloke... he's way too eloquent and informed. But I'm glad I gave him a prod anyway... he has some very interesting, albeit controversial, points to make.

Yes, ladies and gentitals, it's that time again... the kitchen beckons. Too easy tonight... mini meatballs, fried in a little oil, throw in a can of chopped tomatoes with basil and oregano, topped with a sprinkle of parmesan and Bob's yer uncle. Gary

May 4, 2010. After my little speech yesterday about the "meaning of life" I got to thinking about labels such as "athiest". It's a bit like smokers. Before Walter Raleigh introduced tobacco to Britain there were no non-smokers because there were no smokers. For thousands of years, people had no idea they were non-smokers. If there were no religion there would be no non-believers. Before a alcohol was invented there were no teetotalers. If I go through my entire life without killing someone it follows that I'm a non-murderer. When I fill in a form that asks my sex, am I male or non-male?

Don't mind me. Just thinking aloud.

FL Josh wrote: Didn't you say you had Irish roots. With a name like Kelly how could I not? However, my roots go back much further than that, and here's a film clip to prove it.  Thanks, Josh... that's a classic.

Beeb time: Iran's nuclear ambitions are putting the world at risk, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned. She told delegates at a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference that Iran had violated its obligations and should be held to account. Earlier, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran accused states with nuclear weapons of threatening those who wanted to develop peaceful nuclear technology. His comments prompted delegates from the US, the UK, France to walk out. The US Department of Defense later disclosed that it had a total of 5,113 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, a closely-guarded secret for decades. "Yeah, but we're the good guys, so we're entitled to have them... and don't ask us what would happen if someone like Sarah Palin were in charge." US police have made "substantial progress" in investigating an attempted car bomb attack in New York city, US Attorney General Eric Holder said. Mr Holder said police had established "good leads" into who parked the vehicle in Times Square on Saturday. Police have found the registered owner of the vehicle, who sold it three weeks ago. He is not a suspect, police said. Officials have suggested to US media outlets that there may be a foreign connection to the attempted bombing. Mr Holder told reporters he was confident the investigation would be successful "and the people responsible for that attempt will be found and brought to justice". It's more serious than I thought. I saw a clip of the bloke who noticed the smoke emanating from the vehicle - "if you see something, say something", he said. He was being hailed as a hero. Former Argentine military leader Jorge Rafael Videla is charged with an additional 49 counts of murder and torture. Garbage should be thrown out. How people like that assume power in the first place is still a mystery to me. Oil giant BP has acknowledged it is "absolutely responsible" for cleaning up a huge oil spill after an explosion at one of its wells off the US coast. But BP boss Tony Hayward said the firm was not to blame for the accident which sank the Deepwater Horizon rig on 22 April, causing the slick. He said the equipment that failed belonged to drilling firm Transocean. Both companies are expecting lawsuits over the slick, which threatens to cause major ecological damage. Get the job done. Worry about the finger pointing later. Meanwhile, the lawyers are rubbing their hands with gleeful anticipation. California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has withdrawn his support for a plan to expand oil exploration off the state's coast. He said the spill in the Gulf of Mexico had changed his mind about the safety of oil platforms in the Pacific Ocean. Last year he pushed for more oil drilling off California's coastline. But he said after seeing television pictures of the Gulf of Mexico spill he asked himself: "Why would we want to take that kind of risk?" And the obvious answer is? Neil Robertson beat Graeme Dott 18-13 to become the first player from outside the UK and Ireland to win the (snooker) world title since Cliff Thorburn in 1980. The Australian, who rises to number two in the world, had trailed 5-3 but having edged ahead, kept his nose in front despite not being at his best. There used to be a saying in Oz that anyone who was a good snooker/billiards/pool player had to be guilty of truancy as a kid. Film and stage star Lynn Redgrave has died of breast cancer at the age of 67. "Our beloved mother Lynn Rachel passed away peacefully after a seven-year journey with breast cancer," her children said on Monday. A member of the Redgrave acting dynasty, she is the third member of her family to die in the past year. Acting wasn't the only thing common to their genes. Sad... 67 is still quite young. 

Oregon Richie wrote to say he'd be surprised if I returned from a walkabout in the Aussie bush praising Jehovah. Yeah, so would I. I will be doubtless full of praise though... for the wonders of nature. We're all one big family here on Earth ya know, all brothers and sisters, and that includes everything that exists in its natural state. Not sure about the two women who were here a few minutes ago asking to use my phone. They're friends of Verne, a neighbor I'm always desperate to avoid. They babbled on about something or other and I didn't understand a word of it. But I let them use the phone. Then one of them smiled at me and said she'd see me again. Hehe. "What are you into?" she asked. Sheesh. Leave me outta that one!

Did that really happen or was I just dreaming? Why me?

Anyway, back to walkabouts, I would like to experience the kinship Aborigines feel for the natural environment... being at one with your surroundings out in the bush. You can't do it in cities. You can't get cosy with power poles or office towers or backyard swimming pools. But you can get cosy with a billabong or a tree, if you know what I mean.

It's that time of day again... getting close to din dins time. Steak n onions. It's been raining most of the day, and it's a little chilly, so after cooking I'll watch a bit of telly. Actually, I watched an interview last night with Mark Holden... law school dropout and 70's Aussie pop star (the Carnation Kid) who became a TV soap star. Later he tried his luck in America and wrote songs for several major performers and became a successful  record producer. More recently he's been a resident judge on Australia's Got Talent, and resumed his law studies. Now, at 56, he's a barrister. How's that for a colorful career? Gary

May 3, 2010. TX Greg worked his butt off over the weekend and posted 100 chapters of Daniel's Diary on Codysworld - plus the Sox Tribute and The Trip. He'll post the rest next weekend. I dunno what I'd do without him. It's funny how life works. I couldn't write something like Daniel's Diary again in a fit. That was then, and it seemed right at the time.

FL Josh wrote: In the waffle, you said "The problem I have with being a self-appointed philosopher is that I've not reached a definitive conclusion about the meaning of life." You have previously stated we are simply a product of chance happenings as the earth evolves, therefore according to your stand, there can be no meaning to life.  It's like throwing a bunch of gravel on the ground and then trying to figure out the meaning of the spilled gravel. So you are off the hook as to seeking the meaning of life.

The meaning of life is very simple. It exists, and it's programmed to continue to exist. When God said "go forth and multiply" he didn't say anything about "because there's a ton of spare room in Heaven". Hehe. I mean, how many damn angels does he want up there? No, he said go forth etcetera because life needs to be renewed over and over in order for it to continue. Nature doesn't care what species exist. Species come and go. But "life" itself continues. And that's because a bunch of amino acids (or whatever the hell they are) mixed with a bit of water produces life.

Now, we humans with our larger brains, have concluded that we don't wanna be leaves on a tree that fall off and become fertilizer on the forest floor. We wanna be special. We have an ego that says "I'm not just another leaf on the tree. I wasn't put here to flower and die just to keep the continuum happening". Human beings have convinced themselves that life is not about the species to which they belong, but rather that life is about the individual. I disagree. If a natural disaster such as an earthquake or tsunami can wipe out a quarter of million people in a matter of hours, what does that say about the importance of an individual? If the species survives, that's what counts according to the rule of nature.

For me, the only purpose of my existence is to be of some benefit (if I can) to my species. Very few elephants read this Waffle Page. I'm here for one reason, and one reason only. My fellow humans. There's nothing else. No heaven, no afterlife, no reward, no punishment, no God. Life exists because the components for life exist on this planet. Happenstance. All living things are related. They assume different forms, but they all stem from the earliest single cell that floated aimlessly about in the ocean a billion years ago. Life grows and propagates. It evolves. That's its nature. It doesn't remain static. And here we are. Yoo hoo!

Individuals are important, of course. Our species stands on the shoulders of those who went before us, and their contributions... the Harry Stotles, the Shakespeares, the Einsteins. The human species owes its success to its ability to record and preserve knowledge so that it can be passed on to future generations. And that's exactly my point. The individual's responsibility is to benefit its species in whatever way it can.

Therefore, dear Breth, there's no great mystery to the meaning of life. Life exists. That's all there is to it. By the same token, a lump of clay exists too. If you're clever enough, you can turn that lump of clay into something worthwhile.

Anyway, that's the way I see it. And if a few billion people reckon I'm a dill, well, that's the way it is.

So, did I win Lotto on the weekend? Of course, I did! Only problem was I forgot to buy tickets... and that's when you win, right? Bleh.

Beeb time: New York investigators study fingerprints and video shots after a car bomb attack was foiled in bustling Times Square. Was it a car bomb? I was under the impression it was a loony carrying dangerous goods. President Barack Obama says the Gulf oil slick is a "potentially unprecedented" environmental disaster, and BP must pay. There ya go. Oil exploration is cool until something goes wrong... then the blame game takes over. Eurozone members and the IMF agree an historic 110bn-euro ($146bn) bail-out to rescue Greece's ailing economy. Yoo hoo! Over here! Ya got a bit left over for a campervan? Pope Benedict XVI has viewed the Turin shroud - the cloth in which, according to many believers, Christ was buried. "The Holy Shroud eloquently reminds us of Jesus' suffering", he said in Turin. The pontiff spent several minutes praying before the shroud, although in line with papal tradition he did not touch on the authenticity of the cloth. Why pray in front of something if it's not the genuine article? Mammoths had a form of "anti-freeze" blood to keep their bodies supplied with oxygen at freezing temperatures. Nature Genetics reports that scientists "resurrected" a woolly mammoth blood protein to come to their finding. This protein, known as haemoglobin, is found in red blood cells, where it binds to and carries oxygen. All very well but it didn't do a helluva lot for the mammoth's continued existence.

Back from a hair cut at Mark's. I had to wait for 5 other customers! But we all had a good ol' chat as we waited thanks to Joe, another customer and the courtesy bus driver for the local RSL/Golf club. He was a panel beater/spray painter in Sydney, then moved up here to the Mid North Coast. He was born in Italy and came to Oz in 1953. As a young bloke, he played in a band. Now he runs a karaoke business on the side, and travels around the local clubs to make some extra bucks. He owns all his own equipment and has 15,000 songs! Quite an enterprising chap! Mark's Barber Shop is one of those old fashioned kinda places where everybody chats like old mates, even if they're strangers... and it's not a bad way to pass the time.

Joe's dad was the typical Italian from the old days who made his own wine, grew his own olives and vegetables and knew how to cook. It was blokes like him who changed the face of Australia from the bland to the diverse. Mark's wife by the way is an iridologist. There ya go... an iridologist marries a barber. If you wanna know what's going on in town, spend a few hours at the barber shop.

And that's it. Fish 'n' chips tonight... with a squeeze of lemon (of which there are dozens on the tree). Gary

May 2, 2010. ZYX wrote: On todays Waffle (May 1) you said it was impossible to start at the top and work your way down?  TIGER WOODS SCORES AGAIN.  He's DOING IT!..................

I guess winning is as much about attitude as anything else. If you feel like a winner then it's easier to win. But once you experience a losing streak, or something happens in your life to damage your reputation and/or self esteem, those nagging doubts creep in, and you respond accordingly. I went through a terrible time after losing my house and going broke. Every time I got behind a microphone in a studio, my throat jammed and I couldn't get through a 30-second voice over without gagging half way through. Something in your brain tells you you're not gonna make it, and sure enough you don't.

How do you polish a mirror to absolute perfection? You sand blast it, of course. Sand blasting metals and other solid surfaces was discovered by an American soldier who served in the Civil War. But in the case of mirrors, you don't use sand... you use atoms. Hehe. They're not as harsh, but they're very effective. I watched a science program last night about giant telescopes used for star gazing. There's apparently a physical limit to just how big you can make a single glass mirror. So in the latest telescope, they made a number of smaller mirrors and fitted them together to create a very big one. But that required ultra precise fitting of the mirror sections to produce a perfectly concave reflective surface. All very interesting... and they used a gadget designed originally as a musical instrument to make the necessary adjustments. Don't ask me to explain the physics. All I know is that when man sets his mind to solve a problem, he can be pretty damn clever.

The thing is, the mirror can see planets and stars billions of light years away. Billions? That makes us look pretty damn small... as in speck.

Beeb time: Louisiana's governor warns the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster risks his state's way of life, amid claims the slick has tripled in size. Jeez, and we thought ours at the Great Barrier Reef was bad! Tens of thousands of people join protests in the US against a controversial anti-immigration law introduced in Arizona. 'Controversial' is putting it mildly. Part of New York's Times Square has been sealed off as police investigate a suspicious vehicle. The area was evacuated while a bomb squad was sent to check the contents of the vehicle on 45th Street, the New York Police Department said. A senior government official told AP the suspicious vehicle was a Nissan Pathfinder. Part of Times Square was also sealed off last December after a report of a suspicious van, although nothing dangerous was found. Can't be too careful these days, but the guy is giving Nissan a bad name. Just five minutes of exercise in a "green space" such as a park can boost mental health, researchers claim. There is growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being. I'll buy that. Sterile gyms with all those smelly posers just ain't the same. Pope Benedict XVI is to appoint an envoy to overhaul a conservative Roman Catholic order whose Mexican founder abused young children over many years. Marcial Maciel's actions were "immoral" and the Legionaries of Christ order had to be "purified", the Vatican said. But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 

Now here's one for the books. Uluru reflections? It's as dryzabone out there... almost always.

Yes, a speck. Here we are, a miniscule speck surrounded by objects billions of light years distant while an even smaller speck at the Vatican wearing a party hat is telling us that he has a direct line to boss. Oh dear...

One of these days I'll study ant language and interview an ant. I expect the ant to be totally preoccupied with life in the nest - his relationships with his fellow ants, the job of the queen, food gathering and storage, etc. If I tell him about the world outside the nest - and I mean the big world - all of it, New York City, the Himalayas, the North and South poles, the Sahara, the oceans and all that, he'll reject it as being irrelevant to his immediate environment, and of no consequence to the purpose of his own existence. We humans are a bit like that except that we ARE aware of the immense universe that surrounds our teensy weensy nest. Despite that awareness, we still insist that our teensy weensy nest is pivotal to all that matters. Hehe.

I'm getting worse ya know. Hmmm... then again, maybe not. I think it's just that I find human beings a bit of a worry and I'm starting to like trees a lot more. I've never been disappointed by a tree. Trees don't let you down. Trees don't tell fibs. Trees don't con you. My best friend as a kid was a tree - a camphor laurel. I practically lived in it. I haven't quite reached the stage of becoming a tree hugger just yet, but I'm tempted. Kids and trees go together ya know. Kids build cubby houses in trees.

I watched a TV program the other night about a house built of English oak in the style of a medieval barn. When it's green, it's like working with cheese. You can cut it, chisel it, drill it, shape it, and manipulate it with ease. There were no metal nails used, only wooden pegs. As it ages, the oak becomes stronger than steel and lasts for centuries. Pretty amazing stuff. Yes, I do like trees. And that's one of the major disadvantages of Heaven, ladies and genitals... there are no trees there.

The problem I have with being a self-appointed philosopher is that I've not reached a definitive conclusion about the meaning of life. I'm still battling with a zillion questions. If I wrote a book it would be about how to tie a slip knot and make a meatloaf. Other than that, I'm not sure what the bloody hell it's all about. But I have to admit, it's fun to ponder, and to have a mind like an open window with the curtains fluttering in the breeze. Imagine how utterly boring it would be to know everything.

And that's it. Meatloaf tonight. I cheated and bought one already made... Mexican style, whatever that means. But I'll roast my own spuds, and make my own gravy. Bit late to grow the peas so I'll get some from the freezer. Gary

May 1, 2010. May already, and I'm still trying to get used to twenty ten!

FL Josh wrote: I read the beeb (and watched the video) about the "Mystery of the Dangling Car," and had seen the story on the news here, but since you are a non-believer, this is a perfect example of how there is a spirit world and I have close ties to it.  I looked at that mystery, and asked myself, "How in the world could the back of a car be sticking out of the wall of a multi-story parking garage, and the answer just came into my head, clearly a message from the other side. "A car in the garage backed through the wall."  And by golly, when they investigated it, that is exactly what happened.  Wow.  There you go.  Psychic powers big time.

Josh is a worry ya know. He also wrote: One final comment then I have to get to my Tarot card readings.  You had in your beeb how Obama is using "every available resource" of the government to try to contain the oil leak and you said he gets no brownie points from you.  We here in Florida and the Gulf coast give him big brownie points because we don't want that crap spoiling our beaches and sea life.

I meant that Obama gets no brownie points for doing what he needs to do. That's what is expected of him. You only earn brownie points if you act above and beyond the call of duty.

Speaking of Obama, I saw an ad this morning for the 1935 Ford Fordor V8, which pictured a white couple in the front seat and a white woman standing by the "built-in" trunk overseeing a uniformed black man loading luggage. How times have changed. Now we have a black man's luggage being loaded by white folks. Yes, Mr President. 

I think it's okay to discriminate. If I wanted a mechanic I'd hire a German. If I wanted a poet I'd hire an Irishman. If I wanted an electronics engineer I'd hire a Japanese guy. If I wanted a shearer I'd hire an Australian. But there's discrimination and there's discrimination. Everybody, no matter what race or creed, in my view, is an asshole. Hehe. Unless proven otherwise.

Yes, I'm still tying a slip knot a day, and I keep surprising myself at how simple it is. The beauty of a slip knot is that you can loosen it without untying it. If you're mooring your boat, for example, you can throw the loop over the pole and tighten it. Then when you're ready to leave, you loosen it, leaving the knot intact - like a lasoo. How cool is that?

Beeb time: US Air Force planes prepare to spray oil-dispersing chemicals off Louisiana as the operation to tackle a huge slick steps up. Isn't it refreshing to see the military being used for peaceful work rather than destroying things. A former US student could face up to 20 years in jail after being found guilty of hacking into Sarah Palin's e-mail account. That was a very silly thing to do. Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks are set to start next week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says. Mrs Clinton told reporters in Washington that US special envoy George Mitchell would be returning to the region next week. Plans to launch the indirect negotiations failed last month over a row about Israeli plans to build 1,600 homes in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since 2008. Wouldn't you love to be a dinner guest at the table with Hillary and Bill? Tiger Woods missed the cut for only the sixth time in his professional career after a horrendous second-round back nine at the Quail Hollow Championship. The world number one, who started day two on two over, began with a birdie on the first hole in North Carolina. But Woods, 34, went on to card three successive bogeys from the 10th before two straight double bogeys on the 14th and 15th to finish with 79. You gotta wonder how important it is in life to be able to hit a ball into a hole. Lebanese officials are investigating the lynching by angry villagers of an Egyptian man accused of killing a local couple and their two grandchildren. The suspect was with police re-enacting the crime when he was seized by a mob in a village south of Beirut, according to Lebanese media reports. The mob stabbed him to death and then hanged him with a butcher's hook from a pole in the village square. Do they feel better now? Rising rates of obesity among young Americans could undermine the future of the US military, two retired generals have warned. More than a quarter of young Americans are now too fat to fight, they said. Yep, that's occurred to me too. Might can't be fat. It just doesn't work (not that I'm prepared to argue the point with a Japanese Sumo wrestler). The outbreak of World War II saw thousands of people across Europe volunteer for military service, in a bid to do their duty for their respective countries. But among those who stepped forward for Britain were 10,000 German and Austrian nationals, who had fled the Nazis and were willing to fight against their own countrymen. Known as "the King's most loyal enemy aliens" many, but not all, were Jewish. Read the article here

When ever I see a photo of Hitler, I see a total fuckwit and I can't for the life of me understand why others didn't see the same thing at the time. But I suppose like beauty, everything is in the eye of the beholder. He probably appealed to the human desire for dreams of glory, rather like religion promises the kingdom of heaven... or 27 virgins if you happen to be a suicide bomber.

I've been contemplating lately what it means to be "the best you can be", and how success is generally measured in terms of popularity. I mean, how many athletes win a gold medal? And what does that say about the athletes who miss out on a medal altogether? Are they failures? If being the best you can be means coming last in a field of runners is that cause for shame? Is winning everything?

If you want to insult someone you call them a loser. What is a loser? Someone who doesn't win? Someone who doesn't come first? For me, all tryers are winners. Losers are those who don't try.

A friend of mine who's in his 50s lost his job a while back and has been seeking employment ever since. He's discovering that experienced people in his age group are not favored by employers, and I'm not surprised. Experienced people like to flaunt their expertise, they like to show the other guy how it's done hehe. They've been there, done that. The inexperienced guy is willing to be trained, to be molded, to fit in, to take orders. Most employers don't want to be told how to suck eggs. They want to tell their employees how to suck eggs. For someone like my friend, that's a very bitter pill to swallow. I know exactly how he feels. And that's the connundrum faced by experienced people when they try to re-enter the workforce. It's easy to start from the bottom and work your way up, but it's impossible to start from the top and work your way down.

Anyway, food for thought. Gary


← Older posts      Waffle Index      Newer posts →
Return to Home Page