the WAFFLE page

June 30, 2011. I must admit, I prefer the Toshiba to the Acer, and it's nice to have it back. Just now I reposted the Scrapbook page to include the update about my old house in Hegarty St as well as the pics from the real estate web site. Dave from Ormond Beach commented: Considering what your house looked like when you lived there, it's obvious that a lot of effort and money went into this major makeover. And from the front picture, it looks like the neighbors have done similar work (at least on the outside). Is this what they call gentrification?

Probably is, Dave. I arrived just before 'gentrification' started. My street was populated by people who had lived there for many decades. The houses looked pretty much the same as they did back in 1840 when they were built. In 1983, I was the first to knock down the old kitchen and external laundry and build a new section out back. Pretty soon, everyone was following suit and Glebe went from an old working-class suburb to yuppy-ville.

Probably a bit surprising that the old houses weren't torn down and replaced, since I'm not sure what condition they are in structurally (is that a word?) But I guess land is worth too much, and any new structures would no doubt be wider and therefore need more land.

Yep, my old "worker's cottage" was just 13' wide hehe. All those old houses were constructed of sandstock bricks, and basic mortar, which can get a bit crumbly if not sealed properly. But all those inner city areas are heritage protected now. You can do pretty much what you like inside but the facades and streetscapes need to be preserved, which I think is a good thing. And you're right about the land value, Dave. Even something the size of a postage stamp in inner Sydney is worth a fortune. $800,000 up here in Taree would buy you a mansion.

Here's wishing a happy 29th to Cody, and like you said, if he were still alive he might have a couple of kids by now. He would have made a good father, I sincerely believe.

Well, Cody certainly would have made an interesting father. I don't believe there's a kid alive who could tell a fib to the Codeman and get away with it hehe. Cody had already done it all.

Meanwhile, I've long been agonising over this crazy Odyssey idea; having nightmares about all kinds of things. What is the point of it all? Well, the point struck me this morning. It's a research project. Yeah? You see, dear Breth, there's gotta be a purpose to anything we do... some sort of logical conclusion. I've often thought of writing another book. But what about? To date, apart from my meetings with Cody and Steve, I've not done all that much that warrants writing a book about my experiences. Soooooo, if I think of the Odyssey as a way of gathering material for a book rather than just going for a bit of a wander around Oz with no particular purpose in mind, then it makes sense... especially if the book makes a few bucks and buys a nice little place I can call home when I'm ready to settle down... with a bit left over to spend on a few goodies. Financial security, in other words.

I think seeing pics of my old house in Sydney has motivated me to DO something positive about my present situation. Being at the mercy of bureaucrats and landlords and living on a pension in old age worries me. I like my independence. So that's the deal. I want my life back. I'll travel around Oz, keep a journal, take lots of pics, and then write a book based on the highlights. If Steinbeck can do it with Travels with Charley, then so can I. In other words, ladies and genitals, there WILL be method in my madness. Wanna buy the movie rights?

Beeb time: The EU welcomes the Greek parliament's vote in favour of a severe austerity package that has sparked strikes and violent protests. I watched a report on TV news last night that said many of the Greek protesters were public servants who were paid to do virtually nothing. News Corporation sells its ailing social networking site MySpace for a fraction of the price it paid for the business six years ago. Win some, lose some. A childless French couple have adopted a 13-year-old female gorilla named Digit. The gorilla spends the day at the Saint Martin la Plaine Zoo, before going home with zookeepers Pierre and Elianne Thivillon. Well, it's kinda cute I suppose, but, sheesh... Check out the vid here. A tiny water boatman is the loudest animal on Earth relative to its body size, a study has revealed. Scientists recorded the aquatic animal "singing" at up to 99.2 decibels, the equivalent of listening to a loud orchestra play while sitting in the front row. The insect makes the sound by rubbing its penis against its abdomen in a process known as "stridulation". Researchers say the song is a courtship display performed to attract a mate. And you thought the gorilla was weird! Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said a householder who knifes a burglar will not have committed a criminal offence under plans to clarify the law on self-defence in England. He told the BBC people were entitled to use "whatever force necessary" to protect themselves and their homes. Yep, I agree. If someone breaks into your house, he forfeits all rights. End of story. Pope Benedict XVI has sent his first tweet to launch a Vatican news and information portal on the 60th anniversary of his ordination. His message read: "Dear Friends, I just launched Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI." The Pope, 84, tapped an iPad to activate the portal and send the tweet. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are all now being used by the Vatican to spread its Christian message. Tweeting Benny... there ya go.

Yes, it's about time I had a purpose in life instead of just wandering around aimlessly, which is basically the story of my life. Hopefully, it means there will be a pot of gold at the end of the Odyssey rainbow. At least, that's my intention. I'm tired of being poor. And the title of the book? What else but Aussie Odyssey? The Poor Man's Guide to Traveling Oz. Come to think of it, my recent history, going broke, caring for a couple of wallies, and scraping together the bucks to get this thing on the road all adds to an interesting story. Yeah? No silver spoon in this kid's mouth, lemme tellya.

My internet connection is down. Phoned my ISP and they have a recorded message to say that there's a break in the ADSL cable somewhere along the east coast. No estimated time of repair. Oh well... Gary

June 29, 2011. Another day but not necessarily another dollar. My ex neighbor in Sydney sent a couple of links to the sale of my old house in Glebe. They've been pretty lavish with the Real Estate speak: Tucked away... cosy lounge and dining, bright bathroom, intimate courtyard, a stroll to shops and restaurants (which is apparently preferable to walking) and minutes away from Broadway at 3am when there's no traffic. But the recent owners have done a pretty good job with the house. The center dividing wall has gone which provides one large living area. The original two fireplaces have been turned into one. And the kitchen has been tarted up. Here's the slide show. I see that my little gas fire is still there - bloody useless thing.

I sold the property 20 years ago for $165K (most of which I owed the bank). My guess is it'll go for something in excess of $800K, which would be pretty handy to buy a motorhome and do the Odyssey. But alas, as I said to Oregon Richie this morning, I bit off more than I could chew and got chewed. And screwed.

Yeah, well so much for spilled milk. It's interesting to note that I bought the house once and sold it once. But the real estate agents have sold it many times over the years, and keep making their commissions over and over again. It's not everyone who can sell the same thing several times ya know. I'm in the wrong biz. Mind you, I'm not bitching. No, no, no, not me. If it weren't for real estate agents, BMW and Italian shoemakers would probably go broke.

NC Art commented on my mention of Grayson Chance yesterday. Don't think a joint appearance by Grayson Chance and Justin Bieber would work well. Two opinionated little boys with big egos surely would lead to attempted homicide. Master Bieber can be a bit of a snot without help. Recently as guest on a TV show he locked an assistant producer in a broom closet and rammed his fist through a cake to be used on a cooking segment. Boys will be boys, huh?

Yes, I imagine fame has gone to both their heads. Neither is mature enough to handle all the attention, and many adults fall into that category as well. But what I was interested in is how Chance can open his mouth and make so much damn noise! I'm far too timid to do that. I'd frighten myself. I suppose singers see themselves as a musical instrument rather than as a person, which apparently allows one the freedom to make as much noise as possible without fear of embarrassment.

I think that's why I prefer writing. It doesn't upset the neighbors until they read it. Hehe.

Beeb time: At least seven people are reported killed as a top hotel in the Afghan capital, Kabul, comes under attack by gunmen and suicide bombers. Allah? Yoo hoo! Don't you think it's about time you had a little chat to these people who are doing all this in your name? Mind you, if you don't exist, there's not much point in asking. France's Christine Lagarde is named the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund, the first woman to hold the post. My mother was in charge of finances at our house. Hehe. She thought dad was too dumb, and dad never argued. Police use tear gas to disperse stone-throwing youths in Athens as a 48-hour general strike is held against a parliamentary vote on austerity measures. Stone throwing... how intelligent. If you wanna solve problems, throw stones. Sheesh. Libyan rebels capture a major complex of underground weapons bunkers in the west of the country as they continue their push towards Tripoli. "After 4 decades of rule, this is the thanks I get!" cries Gadaffi. The hacker group Anonymous has taken down a US tourism website in Orlando, Florida as a protest against the arrests of people handing out food to the city's homeless. Anonymous said the attack on was retaliation for the arrest of members of the group Food not Bombs. The website, which is not owned by the city, went offline for part of Tuesday. Anonymous rose to prominence by hacking the sites of major corporations. Anonymous is often seen as a political collective and has pledged to take action against those its members view as acting improperly. They have been linked to several high-profile web attacks, including several on Sony websites as well as the Church of Scientology. Another case of the pot calling the kettle black. Hacking web sites is not the right way to go about protesting, in my opinion. One form of bullying is as bad as the other. A piece of debris has narrowly missed the International Space Station (ISS), forcing its six crew members to go to their escape capsules and prepare for an emergency evacuation back to Earth. The junk was of unknown size but experts say even a small object could do considerbale damage to the ISS. The US space agency's (Nasa) Associate Administrator for Space Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, said it was the closest a debris object had ever come to the station. An analysis was now underway to try to understand its origin, he added. And yet another space hazard... man made this time. One of Egypt's richest men has been accused of mocking Islam after tweeting cartoons of Mickey and Minnie Mouse wearing conservative Muslim attire. Telecoms mogul and Coptic Christian Naguib Sawiris apologised for re-posting the images on Twitter a few days ago, saying he meant no offence. But several Islamic lawyers have filed a formal complaint and there are calls for a boycott of his businesses. Anything legitimate has nothing to fear from being mocked.

Yes, I worry about people who are overly sensitive towards criticism. To me, it's a sign of insecurity. If something is right, it can't be made wrong. Conversely, if something is wrong, not even the threat of eternal damnation can make it right. Boom boom.

Beau the mobile techie arrived with my Toshiba. $220 which I thought was reasonable. It looks HUGE compared to the little Acer. But it appears my external drive has a problem so he's taken it away to investigate it and, hopefully, fix it. It has 12 years of stuff on it that I can't afford to lose.

And now it's time to post this page and put the little Acer away in its cubby hole for safekeeping while I go back to the Toshiba. Actually, my first transistor radio was a Toshie back in '67 when the Japanese used to fit them with a leather case. It was an odd shape... tall and fairly narrow with shoulders below the tuning dial, kinda like a square bottle with a neck. Gary

June 28, 2011. We all know about those call centers being sent off-shore to foreign lands. NC Art wrote:  I knew it would be a strange day when I had a phone call before I got both legs in my boxers this morning. A "courtesy call" reminded me that my washer/dryer warranty would expire soon unless I sent them 90 bucks to extend it. Obviously my instinct was to schedule a "free" service call quick. Getting that done entailed talking to an Aleut native in Winnipeg, Manitoba--or so the accent suggested. After giving all my personal history several times to as many people over 15 minutes of telephone tag I think it might happen on Wednesday between one and five p.m. and I must stay by the phone to take a call confirming that a service person would be along shortly. Of course I thought of places I needed to go, but alas, I was to be under house arrest that day. All the automated phone crap and clutter must cost  a stack more money and time than one simple call to one live person to get the thing done. I have talked to people in New Delhi, Shanghai, Sevastopol and Madagascar. None of them knew their ass from a nee hole in a hollow tree.

Yes, but Art hasn't spoken to an Aussie call-center person yet hehe. Then he would REALLY be confused. Noworriesmateowyagoin? Sowhatsthejohndory?

Art also commented on the NY state legislation that legalizes same-sex marriage and how it all began 40 years ago: For me the Stonewall episode was a shocker. Just reading about laws, etc., never had such an impact as seeing the pictures of what went on all over the country. And I sensed that this was a point of no return, no matter the opposition or how long it would take for society to waver and fall over the line on civil and human rights. It's happening!

Oregon Richie also commented: That was an interesting commentary about "equality" you had and pretty excellent... and also interesting that it is SO damned obvious and true to anybody without a prejudicial brain and soul that one wonders WHY it is NOT more obvious to most folks.  I never have figured that one out.  If there is ONE thing that most people are driven to protect in their lives it MUST be their own prejudices... that which causes them fear, or threatens themselves, or... who knows what.  Yeah?  Show me an ANY-PHOBE and I think I can show you someone who is not very comfortable with themselves at some level.

I've often wondered why Richie hasn't worn out his Caps Lock key yet.

My mobile techie Beau phoned to say he's trying to force the Toshiba to shut down just to make sure there are no funny bugs still in the thing. He said I'll have it back tomorrow. So I told him about the Acer and he said they're not a bad little thing... "easy to carry around". Yeah... and cheap! Well, cheap is relative. I received news today that my carer's bonus is due next pay but I think I've already spent most of it on Bluey's rear window, the Acer and the bill I'll get for fixing the Toshiba. Woe is me. DB will simply have to wait.

I happened on this clip of the "worst ever" American Idol contestant. It's supposed to be funny but I found it very sad. Ya know, when Charlie Chaplin slipped on a banana skin it was funny, but when it's for real it's not funny.

On the other hand, here's a kid who knows how to let it all out. No inhibitions. Greyson Chance with I wanna be where you are. How the hell does he do that?

Good ol' Sally Kern has written a book that warns us of the homosexual agenda that threatens America. It's called The Stoning of Sally Kern. Apparently she has a direct line to God who she says tells us that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination. Did he really say that? I've never met the guy. I've heard about him, mind you, but never actually met him. So it's a bloody good thing that Sally is letting the rest of us plebs know what's really going on up there in heaven. Otherwise we'd never know! You can read more about good ol' Sally on Justin's blog.

Ya know, the great thing about creating a God is that you can have him say anything you like.

Beeb time: Trade unions in Greece have begun a 48-hour general strike, hours after PM George Papandreou urged parliament to back an austerity package. Huge crowds of protesters are expected on the streets of Athens, while public transport is set to grind to a halt. On Monday, Mr Papandreou said only his 28bn-euro (£25bn) austerity programme would get Greece back on its feet. If the government loses, the EU and IMF could withhold 12bn euros of loans and Greece could run out of money in weeks. I don't get it. What are the unions doing? If you're broke, baby, you're broke and you can't go back to the old ways until you're outta the shit! The governor of Afghanistan's central bank, Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, has resigned, saying he feels his life is in danger after investigating fraud. He said the government had interfered in his efforts to pursue those responsible for massive corruption at the privately-owned Kabul Bank. Waheed Omar, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, said Mr Fitrat's resignation amounted to treason. He added that Mr Fitrat was himself under investigation. Well, with all due respect, if the manager of my bank was called Abdul something or other, I think I'd change banks. Libya rejects a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for the arrest of Col Muammar Gaddafi, saying the court has no authority. According to many Libians, the Col has no authority either. Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is found guilty of trying to sell the US Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. And his first name is not even Abdul. Moreover, he's not even a colonel. France will invest 1bn euros (£0.8bn) in nuclear power despite warnings after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, President Nicolas Sarkozy says.  The new investment will include a boost for research into nuclear safety. The French nuclear giant Areva is developing the fourth generation of reactors. France gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear power. The French have always been different... viva la difference as they say. The US Supreme Court has struck down a Californian law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to those aged under 18. The court voted 7-2 to uphold an appeals court ruling that declared the law contrary to free speech rights enshrined in the US Constitution. Speaking at the Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Antonin Scalia said: "Our cases hold that minors are entitled to a significant degree of First Amendment protection. Government has no free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which they may be exposed." So I guess it's back to the parents. Engineers have conducted a test-run of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail link, days before its public launch. Officials, reporters and company bosses were on board for the 300 km/h (190mph) train's maiden voyage, which the government has promised will halve the journey time to under five hours. China is planning to roll out high-speed lines across the country. But the project has come under fire for its high cost - the Beijing-Shanghai line cost 215bn yuan ($33bn; £21bn). China gets the train while we here in Oz get the talk... but no trains. Check out the video here.

Yep, for years in Oz we've had all the political mumbo jumbo promises about bullet trains but no action. Ditto Sydney's second airport. Lots of talk but no action. No worries about the new Parliament House in Canberra, though. Oh, no. Bugger the billions, let's build a monument to Australia's politicians! No wukkers!

As to violent video games, you have to wonder about that. When I was a kid, we went to the Saturday matinee and watched cowboys shooting Indians and practically anything else that moved. At school we read a book about a bloke who had thorns stuck into his head before he was forced to carry a heavy wooden cross up a hill where his hands and feet were nailed to it. We learned about a place where people burned in agony for all eternity if they didn't go to church on Sundays. And if we didn't pay attention, the teacher gave us six of the best across our outstretched hands with a leather strap or cane. I was forever getting it. And if I complained to my mother, she'd say, "Well you must've deserved it!" I remember one De La Salle brother (bro Anselem) who locked me in the darkness of the stationery cupboard for 10 minutes because I was talking too much. Who? Sweet little innocent me? I was 10. This is the pic that brings back memories for me. Is it any wonder I fled school at age 14?

I wore a blazer like that, except it was gray with a gold and blue badge on the pocket - St John's De La Salle College Lakemba and something in Latin about being brave and courageous and truthful or whatever. Why must it always be in Latin? I remember the priests saying "Dominus vobiscum" and never knowing what it meant. What's wrong with "The Lord be with you?" I guess they liked being mysterious. If you say something in Latin, it carries more weight. Anyway, obviously the Lord wasn't listening in my case hehe. "Yoo hoo! Gary! Come out, come out wherever you are!"

But back to leaving school... on the other hand you get guys like Cody who dreaded leaving school. That was his life. It was where all his friends were, and his sporting interests. The day all the final year students assembled for the last time was a very sad and emotional day for Cody. And I remember how Wingnut felt all alone and abandoned as he choked back the tears. Jeez, the last time I walked through the gates of my school I refused to look back... not even one final time. I hated the place. But not Cody. Oh, no. He went back to help train the juniors in the swim team. Hehe. He couldn't stay away from the place. He also competed in the Old Boys versus the Seniors swim races. Speaking of the Codeman, it'll be his birthday in a few days. He would have been 29, probably with a little Cody or two biting his ankles.

Well, I suppose I'd better put my chef hat on and do the kitchen routine. I suppose it keeps me off the streets and outta trouble. Gary

June 27, 2011. Blue sky and headed for about 20C (high 60sF) which is okay for mid winter. Actually, it's not really MID until mid July and through August. But at least we don't get snow here, or sleet or blizzards or any of that other yukky stuff.

Justin's blog has posted a lot of stuff about same-sex marriage lately, including its recent legalization in NY state. Seems to me that sexual orientation is not really the issue here, it's equality period. A black man will never be white, or a gay person straight, or a Muslim Christian, but so what? Who's to say one is less or more than the other? You don't have to "like" a person or agree with them to treat them as an equal. In my view, people who treat others as lesser individuals are nothing more than bullies and bigots. Love thy neighbor as thyself, the man said. It ain't always easy, hehe, but that's the way it's gotta be.

I don't think I'll ever be invited to a gay wedding, but I'd love to see the bridesmaids in their fishnet stockings and stilettos hehe. Anyway, life is all a bloody circus so what the hell.

Beeb time: Rebel forces in Libya have clashed with troops loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi about 80km (50 miles) south-west of the capital, Tripoli. A rebel spokesman in the Nafusa mountains said there had been heavy fighting on the outskirts of the strategic town of Bir al-Ghanam. The rebels told the BBC they were making a push for Tripoli. Meanwhile, Col Gaddafi has agreed to stay out of talks aimed at ending the conflict, African leaders said. In a communique after talks on Sunday in South Africa, the African Union panel on Libya said it welcomed "Col Gaddafi's acceptance of not being part of the negotiations process". The statement did not elaborate. No madmen admitted. A Cambodian UN-backed tribunal holds its first hearing in the trial of four former Khmer Rouge leaders, including Pol Pot's "number two". Better late than never I suppose, but it pisses me off that it took so damn long. China's Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged to take measures to increase trade between Britain and China. Mr Wen, who is on a three-day visit, said he wanted to welcome more UK products into China. Yeah, so they can copy them. Bit hard to copy Australia's coal, gas and ore though. Hehe. The only known authenticated portrait of the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid has sold for $2.3m (£1.4m) at auction in Denver, in the US state of Colorado. The tintype - an early form of photo using metal plates - is believed to have been taken in 1879 or 1880 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. It depicts the gunfighter in rumpled clothes and a hat, gazing at the camera and holding a Winchester rifle. Billy the Kid gave the image to a friend, Dan Dendrick, in whose family it has remained ever since. It is a classic image of the American West, said Ms McCracken before Saturday's auction."There's only one photo of Billy the Kid, and I think that's why it captivates people's imagination," she said. He fell into a career of thievery and lawlessness and was hunted across the southern US states and northern Mexico. Billy the Kid was captured and sentenced to hang for the 1878 murder of a county sheriff. He then escaped, only to be hunted down and killed by Sheriff Patrick Floyd Garrett on 14 July 1881. Sheriff who? There ya go. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be the goodie.

I called the mobile techie who said the Toshiba is "being scanned" and won't be back till tomorrow. No worries. So I went shopping. As I was being served at the checkout (I refuse to use the auto ones - too impersonal) another checkout chick walked past and smiled. "How's the cigarette going?" I was surprised she remembered. The last time we spoke she was serving at the tobacco counter and I said I was down to one a day. Then after a pause, I added, "it's 25 foot long." So today I told her the story about my being sprung by my uncle puffing on a ciggie behind the outdoor loo at the local Church of England when I was 12.

I enjoy a little repartee with the checkout chicks - you can't do that with machines. Come to think of it, I don't like ticket machines, coffee/drink/snack machines or any other machines that dispense things. You stand there reading directions and if you don't understand what the hell it's all about, the people behind you get irritated. And there's always the chance that the machine will malfunction or display a sign that says "incorrect" something or other. If it's a talking machine, and it says something you either don't hear or understand, you can stand there all day asking "what?" and it'll ignore you. I hate them.

Well, time to do the domestic thing again. Bleh. I bought some of Eddy's chicken breast schnitzels again. They're pretty good. I pan fry them in butter and serve them with corn cobs. I noticed tomatoes were sky high today - twice their normal price... must be the recent floods. When I regularly frequented restaurants, I used to see the phrase "served with vegetables in season" on the menu. Now that I do my own shopping, I understand what it means. The prices are up and down like a bride's nightie. Gary

June 26, 2011. Well, I think I've solved the problem of text not keeping up with my typing speed on the Waffle Page. This is a blank page and the typing speed is not restricted. It's a breeze. So when I've finished today's Waffle, I'll simply cut and paste this text to the existing Waffle page and upload it. Repeat after me: GARY IS NOT DUMB.

But TX Greg thinks I'm pretty dumb hehe. So where are you going to find a computer techie in the outback. Go 60km thru the bush turn right at the croc pit? haha

True. That's why I bought this Acer backup netbook. Actually, it was Lindsay who suggested I buy a second comp. He was worried that I'd drive him and Sue nuts if I was without my favorite toy for the weekend. Meanwhile, Greg goes on to talk about backups, which might be helpful to others reading this page:

Ok really you need to learn how to do this. You should check your owners manual to see if the Toshiba has "Factory Restore" option. (Don't confuse that with Windows System Restore which is a piece of crap) If you back up ALL your files, programs (that you own like the Netscape Composer) and favorites to a external hard drive then with a couple of clicks the comp is just like the day you first took it out of the box. Then reload your files etc. Yes you'll spend a couple of hours fiddling with it, but it beats being without the comp :)  I stress again the main thing is to have a good external backup of everything you want to keep!!!

Here's a couple of things I found... first one (video)... and second one (text).

And now for something non-technical. Greg wrote: Did ya know we also have crocs in Texas?

Well, alligator, crocodile, pretty much the same except for snouts. Gators have short snouts and crocs have long, pointed snouts. But that is one helluva big lizard. In Oz we have two types of crocs... freshwater and saltwater. The saltwater guys are the dangerous ones but I wouldn't wanna tangle with a freshie either. In fact, even our goannas and lace monitor lizards can give a nasty bite if threatened. I photographed one a couple of years ago, and I was just 10 feet from the damn thing! It was about 5' long... not the kinda thing you put in a shoebox and take to school to show the teacher.

I phoned Averil who said she heard a noise last night at about 2 or 3 in the morning. It was my old TV that I left out for council collection. The Friday/Saturday night drunks decided to use it as a football.

Beeb time: Prominent Chinese dissident Hu Jia has been released from prison and reunited with his family, his wife says. Mr Hu, 37, served a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for "inciting subversion". His term had been set to end on Sunday. He was active on a wide range of civil liberty issues, and also campaigned for the environment and support for Aids patients. Mr Hu's release follows that of artist Ai Weiwei on Wednesday. Mr Ai's detention in April had prompted a global campaign for his release. Four of associates were also reported to have been freed. It's about time China realized this is the 21st century. The Great Wall is no longer protecting you guys from the outside world. Syria's military has moved into a village near the border with Turkey and a town near the boundary with Lebanon, activists say. Hundreds of Syrians, some with gunshot wounds, have fled into Lebanon, according to reports. At least four civilians were reportedly killed by security forces during house-to-house raids and at funerals held for those killed in Friday's rallies. Protests against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have gone on for more than three months. Activists say more than 1,300 demonstrators have been killed by security forces and government supporters. Apparently that's the way it is with dictators like Hitler - wait until the last possible moment before putting a gun to your head and shooting yourself in disgrace. The number of adults with diabetes in the world has more than doubled since 1980, according to a new study. Researchers from Imperial College London and Harvard University analysed data from 2.7m people across every continent, using statistical techniques to project a worldwide figure. They claim the total number of people with diabetes - which can be fatal - has risen from 153m to 347m. Its authors said 70% of the rise was down to people living longer. And getting fatter. A young emperor penguin found washed up on a New Zealand beach has undergone two operations but remains in serious condition, reports say. The penguin was found last Monday by a dog-walker on Peka Peka beach, about 60km (37 miles) north of Wellington. It had apparently swum off course some 3,000km from its home in Antarctica. As its condition deteriorated, the penguin was moved to Wellington zoo where it has undergone operations to remove sand from its stomach. The penguin had been eating sand - apparently mistaking it for snow, which penguins eat for hydration and to keep cool, but which is now causing internal blockages. The things humans do for animals that animals would never do for humans. For same-sex couples across New York, this is a day to celebrate. Jo-Ann Shain and her partner Mary Jo Kennedy have been together for 29 years and have a daughter. Now, finally, they can get married. George Constantinou and Farid Ali Lancheros are expecting twins via a surrogate mother. "We're 16 weeks pregnant," says Mr Constantinou, who runs a bistro in Brooklyn, "and now we can get married. It's so exciting. I never thought I would see this day. I grew up knowing I was gay and wanting to get married and have children. I've been to so many heterosexual weddings, and now I look forward to inviting my heterosexual friends to our wedding." Read the full story here

The shop I bought my Acer from is Dick Smith Electronics. The chain is now owned by Woolworths but years ago, when Dick started the business (he was a radio freak into crystal sets and stuff like that) he opened his first store at Greenwich in Sydney on the corner of the Pacific Hwy and Greenwich Rd. In 1991, after I sold my house in Glebe, I lived just down the road and bought my first IBM compatible there for - wait for it - $3000. It was a 286 with a massive 10mb hard drive. Well, a lot has changed since then. Dick made a fortune from selling his chain of stores and went on to become an adventurer, and the first man to fly a helicopter solo around the world. He was also the conductor on a London double-decker bus that jumped 15 motorcycles hehe. He's nuts, but also very popular in Oz. Everyone knows the bloke who used to call himself  "The Electronic Dick". You can read his bio here.

The young manager of the store at Greenwich wasn't a bad looker. I used to phone him and say things like, "I can't figure out how to do yadda, yadda..." so after work he'd trot down to my place and show me how to do whatever on the comp, and all I had to do was give him a beer. Nothing else ever happened because I was too stupid to know that he fancied me.

The manager of the Dick Smith store in Taree is middle-age and married, and full of techno-speak, almost all of which I didn't comprehend. He told me that my problem with all the bugs in my Toshiba was the result of visiting "inappropriate" web sites hehe. How diplomatic. No mention of porn. He also said the bugs "morph" themselves and stay ahead of the Nortons and McFees and other bug software people, who are always one step behind. So basically the story is stay away from suspect sites. Hmmm. Naughty Gary. I hate it when I get sprung. The first time was when I was about 12 or something. I was smoking a cigarette behind the outdoor loo at the Church of England after the Saturday matinee at the local cinema. My uncle's face unexpectedly appeared over the fence. "Put that thing out or I'll tell your father!" I shat myself and skedaddled quick smart.

Well, guess what? My washing is still in the basket. If I hadn't bought this damn Acer it would all be done and put away by now. There oughta be two of me... one to do all the housework and another to do all this internet stuff. And now, ladies and genitals, it's time to cut and paste all this stuff to the Waffle page to see if it works. Gary

June 25, 2011. Well, I'm getting more used to the Acer notebook (netbook) as my fingers learn where to go. It's not too bad. It's very slow with this Waffle page because it's getting towards the end of the month and the page is pretty long, so that's what slows down the typing speed. The Toshiba slows down too but not as bad. Email and other stuff on the Acer is okay. It's an Acer Aspire ONE D255 in case you're interested in the specs. Mine's got a 1.66GHz processor. Anyway, you can't expect a whole lot for $360 (although the salesman told me it was originally retailing at $500).

Oregon Richie says computers are cheaper over "there" and I guess it's because of the market size... 310 million compared to Australia's 21. NC Art reckons the Acer brand is "too flimsy" but this one seems okay. My last experience with an Acer was a monitor back in the late '90s that was in its final death throes, and I used to try to fix it by giving it a whack with my fist. It would come good for a little while and then die again. Very frustrating.

I reckon laptops and netbooks are the way to go. When I cleaned up the comp desk yesterday, which used to house the old desktop, I noticed a lot less spaghetti underneath. Wires have an infuriating habit of getting tangled no matter how careful you are. Untangling them is the pits. NC Art has a tower and separate monitor but he's not living in a campervan.

Some weeks ago I sent Justin a copy of Green Room and Green Room II but they never arrived. Some problem with the mailing address. So I attached a pdf version to an email. He was only up to page 20 when he felt compelled to email me with his impressions, which were all positive. Then he stayed up till 2am to read over 200 pages and was most impressed. I take that as quite a compliment given Justin's background and his masters degree. And I'm still baffled as to why publishers have not shown an interest. Meanwhile, at that rate Justin should have finished the book in a day or two, so I'll be interested to learn what he has to say then. 

Beeb time: Many Syrians take to the streets across the country after Friday prayers, with unconfirmed reports of at least 15 deaths as security forces open fire. After Friday prayers? I guess the prayers must psyche them up to do battle. Peter Falk, the American actor most famous for his role as US TV's scruffy detective, Columbo, dies at the age of 83. Oh, that's sad. I was a great fan of Falk. He made you believe that he was indeed the character he played. The US House has refused to give President Barack Obama authority to continue US participation in the Nato-led operation in Libya, but rejected a bid to cut off money for the conflict. The US role in the Nato mission has drawn criticism from many in Congress in recent weeks. "The president has operated in what we now know is called the zone of twilight as to whether or not he even needs our approval," Republican Representative Tom Rooney of Florida said. "So what are we left with?" Mr Obama says he does not need additional congressional approval, as US forces are simply supporting Nato. "A sudden withdrawal of American support for the mission would strengthen Gaddafi's hand and increase his confidence that he can wait out the rebellion against his rule," Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said on the House floor. "It would put civilian lives at risk... I urge my colleagues: protect our valuable alliances and the principles of human rights that they safeguard." My feeling is that war is inevitable. Either you go to it, or it comes to you. Alleged gang boss James "Whitey" Bulger has returned to his home city of Boston to appear in federal court, following his arrest in California. Mr Bulger is accused of committing 19 murders. He asked for a public defender, but prosecutors objected, citing large sums of money found at his Santa Monica home. A ruling has not yet been made on the 81-year-old's request. Mr Bulger, who was arrested on Thursday, is accused of involvement in 19 murders as well as running the Winter Hill gang in the Boston area in the 1970s and 1980s. He is the inspiration for the main character in the Martin Scorsese film The Departed. Pity it took so long to catch the mongrel. US country music star Glen Campbell has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, the 75-year-old and his wife have told People magazine. Kim Campbell said if her husband "flubs a lyric or gets confused on stage", she wanted fans to know the reason. Mr Campbell plans to retire from the music industry later this year with a series of farewell concerts. 'Farewell' being the operative word. I remember him well from my old days in radio

The layout of this page has done something strange and I'm wondering if it's only a local thing or if it'll affect the page when I post it. This Acer has a mind of its own in some respects and I'm not sure what's going on. Actually, I'll try it now and see what happens. If it's gone all wonky, I'll have to fix it.

No, it's okay. I managed to fix it before uploading. The green columns at the sides disappeared at one stage and I have no idea what caused that. Oh well... The slowness of the typing speed also pisses me off. I like to write as quickly as I can think, otherwise it's like trying to conduct a conversation with somebody who's hard of hearing. Gary

June 24, 2011. You hoo! The techie phoned this morning to say the old comp would be away for the weekend, so I got the major withdrawals and decided to get a backup comp. It's an Acer notebook which is as slow as a wet week, and the keyboard is hprrible. See what I mean? But it only cost $360 so suppose it'll be okay as a backup. It was an instore display model.

The old comp is infested with bugs so it's gonna take a while to clean it, and the weekend kinda got in the way. I don't understand people who don't work 7 days. What's wrong with weekends? Imagine if the world stopped spinning on Fridays and we all fell off. Or if supermarkets closed and petrol stations shut down. Or if the internet operated 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. "I'd like to order a supreme with double everything." "Sorry, we don't deliver at night or on weekends." "Hello? Emergency? My friend has just had a heart attack." "You have reached emergency. Please leave a message after the tone."

Meanwhile, I can't believe how slow this Acer is or how dicky the keyboard is. It can't keep up with my normal typing speed. But I suppose you get what you pay for, right? Maybe it's okay as a backup but I'm tempted to take it back.

On the poz side, the absence of my Toshiba gave me the opportunity to clean up my office desk and vacuum 10 years of accumulated dust. This internet thing is a major addiction ya know. Routine goes out the window. Normal household duties take a back seat.

Anyway, at least I can keep up with email and stay in touch until I get my regular comp back. Gary

June 23, 2011. At the moment, I'm waiting for the mobile techie to arrive, and I'm not sure if he'll be able to do the maintenance thing here on site or if he'll need to take the comp away for a while. So I'd better post this link now. Justin posted it on his blog this morning and it's a wonderful version of Amazing Grace by four tenors and bagpipes. My nickname for years in the radio biz was Grace, but I wasn't very amazing hehe. In fact, the boss's daughter re-named me dis-Grace.

So I'll post this update now. If the techie does his thing here I'll update the page again later today. Otherwise, if the techie takes my compy away, this will be it until I get it back. Gary

June 22, 2011. Sure enough, much of the junk I put out yesterday for council collection has disappeared courtesy of local scavengers... the old Teac stereo and cabinet, exercise bike, and a few other things. All that's left now is an ancient oil heater and an old TV. And I won't be surprised to see those go before collection day. Suits me.

Just added all last fortnight's expenses, and the grocery bill came to $189 for 3 people. That's $63 each or just over $30 a week. And that includes detergent, soap, toothpaste, paper towels and all the usual household stuff, as well as food. A 3-course meal in a restaurant would cost $30 for one person. To fill Bluey's tank costs over $70. And yet I can feed 3 people for about $4 each a day. Hehe. Bloody amazing. And we don't skimp either - t-bones, roast chicken, fish, chops, veg, salads, etc. I'm a thrifty shopper who looks for specials, and I don't buy anything we don't need. All meals are home-cooked. The thing about home cooking is that there are often leftovers, and I'm always quite happy to make an extra meal out of those.

It's quite a contrast to my previous life, I can tell you. I used to spend a fortune in restaurants during the "good old days". Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end...

NC Art forwarded a thing about winding roads but it was a pps file that my computer refuses to decipher. However, winding roads are not my favorite route of travel either. My trip to and from Tamworth to collect Das Busse in April meant crossing the Great Dividing Range along the Oxley Highway, with all its twists and turns over the mountains. You're forever slowing down to 25 or 30kph and it takes ages to cover any distance. It's also quite a narrow road, and in both directions I happened to get caught behind a couple of cattle trucks. On the return trip, it rained all the way which made it even worse. On the other hand, long straight freeways are as boring as batshit cos there's nothing much to see and the passing miles become monotonous. On the Odyssey, I have a feeling there'll be a lot more stopping than going, and a lot more backroads than freeways.

I saw a program on telly last night about old abandoned gold mines in Oz being re-opened now that the price of gold has risen to 1400USD an ounce. They expect it to hit $1700 before it settles back. I was wondering if any of the silt left behind by the recent Manning River flood might contain a bit of the yellow stuff. Gold mining around these parts was big biz back in the mid 19th century. Actually, I wouldn't mind trying my hand at a bit of panning on the Odyssey. Nothing serious... just to pass the time and maybe make a few bucks. I did it years ago when I was just 16 on a camping holiday at a place called Bendemeer on the McDonald River, and I got me half a matchbox full.

Beeb time: The Greek government wins a critical vote of confidence in parliament as it struggles to win support for extra austerity measures and avoid a sovereign default. Common sense prevails, hopefully. Mexican officials say they have arrested the alleged leader of the La Familia drugs cartel, one of the top drug gangs in the country. Maybe the tide is turning... bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders eliminated, drug barons shot or arrested, Middle East despots being deposed. It's all happening, folks. We're on a roll. Flights are gradually resuming from airports in southern Australia after two days of cancellations caused by an ash cloud from a Chilean volcano. As one European passenger said, "We're used to it in Europe". Europe's space freighter has destroyed itself over the South Pacific. The ATV-Johannes Kepler ship took 1.3 tonnes of rubbish from the space station into a controlled dive into the atmosphere just before 2100 GMT on Tuesday. Most of the vehicle and its waste cargo would have been vaporised in the descent. Only a few robust pieces of hardware could have survived to the ocean surface, say officials. The burn-up brings to an end Kepler's four-month mission to the station. Its purpose had been to deliver more than seven tonnes of fuel, food, air and equipment to the orbiting platform. That's what you call built-in obsolescence. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has praised "brave" Saudi women who are campaigning for the right to drive. Mrs Clinton said they were "right" to press their demands in the ultra-conservative kingdom, in her first public comments on the issue. Bloody amazing. I was a driving instructor back in the '60s teaching girls and women to drive. Russia and other parts of the former USSR commemorate one of the darkest days of their history on Wednesday, the 70th anniversary of Hitler's invasion. An interesting read. A Brazilian woman thought to be the world's oldest person has died at the age of 114. Maria Gomes Valentim died of multiple organ failure a few weeks before she was due to turn 115. Guinness World Records said they had verified her birth record, from 1896, and just last month declared her the oldest living person . Shortly before her death, she said she liked Brazil's national dish, feijoada, and pasties with plenty of hot sauce. Guinness said that Ms Valentim died at the age of 114 years and 347 days. If after 114 years of life all you can say is that you liked feijoada, it's a bit of a worry. Foster's Group, Australia's biggest brewer, has rejected a takeover bid from global brewing giant SABMiller as too low. SABMiller offered 9.5bn Australian dollars ($10bn; £6.2bn) for Foster's. Shares in Foster's jumped 13% to A$5.11 in early trading on Tuesday on news of the rejection. Next thing ya know, the Church of England will make a bid to buy the Vatican. A well-preserved Stradivarius violin has just been sold in an online auction for a record £9.8m. But what is it about the violins made by Italian craftsman Stradivari that makes the instruments so valuable? I remember Jack Benny in an interview saying there are violins that sound better than a Stradivarius but that a Strad is a unique classic. Read the full article here.

This computer has been doing a few strange things lately so I just phoned the mobile techie. He's due here tomorrow. So if I disappear for a while, you'll know why. I think it needs a check-up and a clean-out. And while he's fiddling around with it, he can do a backup to my external drive. How come there's a hyphen in check-up and clean-out but not in backup? I dunno. One of life's mysteries. Meanwhile, I watched a program on telly last night with a woman who's a virus expert and she reckons there's a whole bunch of nasty people out there in cyber space trying to bring the whole internet undone. She said even her computer was infected with malware and that she was unaware of it despite being an "expert". It's weird isn't it? You have the builders and the creators and you have the destroyers... people who can't resist wanting to rain on other people's parade.

And now it's THAT time again. Bacon and eggs and chips. Gary

June 21, 2011. Viva la difference! It's a French expression originally intended to celebrate the difference between the sexes, but it can also be extrapolated to mean a celebration of other differences. Same-sex marriage, for example, is a union that might inspire the expression 'Viva la similarity!' But on the other hand, same-sex marriage is DIFFERENT to opposite-sex marriage. Hehe.

There's also the expression 'opposites attract' and yet we're always hearing about relationships formed between people who have a great deal in common. It's all a bit confusing, really. If opposites attract, why don't more footballers marry ballet dancers? Why don't more Christians marry Muslims? When was the last time you saw a double garage with a Rolls and a Gogomobile parked side by side? Imagine a tennis court with two players on opposite sides of the net, one holding a tennis racket and the other a cricket bat.

Anyway, don't ask me to make sense of the world. I'm just here for the show.

Beeb time: A Tunisian court has sentenced ousted Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his wife Leila to 35 years in prison for theft and other charges. The couple, who left Tunisia for Saudi Arabia after a popular uprising in January, were being tried in absentia. In a statement issued earlier on Monday, Ben Ali said he had taken his family to Saudi Arabia on 14 January for safety. He said he had intended to return to Tunisia immediately, but the plane left without him, "disobeying my instructions". Oh, damn! What bad luck! Syrian President Bashar al-Assad maintains a tough line in the face of anti-government protests, but says a national dialogue on reform will begin. Yeah, right. Pull the other leg. The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, with mass extinction of marine species looming, according to a panel of scientists. Let's hope they're wrong. And if they're not? Stay tooned. The US Supreme Court has dismissed the largest class action lawsuit in history, ruling against women alleging discrimination by US giant Wal-Mart. The court ruled that 1.5 million women who said they were paid less because of gender must pursue action individually. Plaintiffs had sought to unite more than a million women in their effort. The court accepted Wal-Mart's argument that the women work in diverse jobs in stores across the US and do have not enough in common for a class action. Which all goes to prove that too many Davids give Goliath the advantage. James May shows what goes on inside the body to cause hangover symptoms after drinking too much alcohol. He also explains why people suffer a bad night's sleep after drinking. Click here for the vid.

It's junk week - time to put all your bulky junk out on the nature strip for collection by council. So I took the opportunity to banish a lot of rubbish I've been carting around for years, like old stereoes, an exercise bike, old furniture, a couple of old heaters, etc. What's the bet local scavengers will lighten the load before official pick-up time? The last time I put a load of junk out there, there was hardly anything left by the time the council arrived.

There was a time during my early radio days when I frequently changed jobs that I could fit all my worldly possessions into a VW Beetle and travel from town to town with no hassle. Buying a house was my undoing. I started to accumulate things - big things - and ever since then I've needed a huge truck every time I move. Well, the Odyssey is gonna put paid to that little problem. Hehe. Goodbye possessions. Yes, it's a worry. Separation from the things to which one has become accustomed is always a worry. People naturally resist change. Old habits die hard, etc, etc. So I have to ask myself the question: If I was happy when all my stuff fitted into a Beetle, why wouldn't I be happy to be back in that same situation?

I think the great thing about what you accumulate in your head is that it takes up no extra room and is wonderfully portable.

I just googled quotes on possessions. Mid 1st century Roman philosopher Seneca said, “What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.”

Bertrand Russell said: “It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.”

I dunno who made this remark but it makes a lotta sense to me: “An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.”

Anyway, the ultimate proof of the pudding is in the eating, and when I start eating it, I'll let you know what it tastes like. Until then, it's purely academic.

And here we are again, time to attend to the resident stomachs. I've been defrosting a couple of chicken and veg pies which I'll bung in the oven and serve with CHIPS. Sue doesn't like pastry so she can have scrambled eggs, sliced tomato and chips. How exciting. Oh well... it's cheap. Gary

June 20, 2011. Just added a few extra pics to the Taree flood album that I took yesterday of the aftermath. I also used one of the shots to have a bit of fun on Red Bubble.

NC Art wrote in response to my owyagoinmatenoworries comment yesterday and began his email with 'G'day mate': What's this about the Catholic Church being slow? It got around to proclaiming Galileo right on Earth circling the sun just a few years ago. Even considered it kosher for the faithful to believe the earth is sorta spherical! Give 'em time fer gawd's sake.

Hehe. Yeah, but poor ol' Galileo never got to hear the Vatican's apology. That's what really bugs me. I'm also pissed off that Oscar Wilde never got to enjoy his current rep as one of English literature's great minds and wits. Instead, he died in poverty in France. Some people are credited with being ahead of their time, but AT THE TIME it can be a major pain in the ass.

Beeb time: Eurozone ministers say Greece must impose new austerity measures before it gets a 12bn-euro (£10-bn) loan, as anti-cuts protests continue in Athens. I can understand why protesters are pissed off about austerity measures but I don't understand their logic. You can't get outta the shit by creating more shit. Rory McIlroy completed a remarkable four days to clinch his first major title with an eight-shot victory in the US Open at Congressional. McIlroy became the youngest US Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923 and the youngest major winner since Tiger Woods clinched the Masters in 1997. The 22-year-old broke a host of scoring records through the week and shot a final-round 69 to end 16 under par. Australian Jason Day (68) was second, with Lee Westwood (70) tied third. I'm not a golf fan but it is an extraordinary achievement. Nato has admitted "a weapons systems failure" may have led to civilian casualties in Sunday morning's air strike in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The alliance said the intended target was a missile site, but "it appears that one weapon" did not hit it. The Libyan government earlier said Nato had bombed a residential area, killing nine civilians, including two babies. Meanwhile, rebel leaders said their administration had run out of money as donors' pledges had not materialised. They told a news conference in the eastern city of Benghazi that they were still waiting for funds that should have been deposited by last week. Nato wouldn't be bombing anything if Gadaffi would piss off. Outgoing US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has confirmed that the US is holding "outreach" talks with members of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Mr Gates said talks were "preliminary" but that a political solution was the way "most of these wars end". I wish him luck but trying to reason with unreasonable extremists can't be easy. For starters, they can't talk without raising their voices and waving their arms all over the place. More than five million people are now reported to have been affected by deadly floods in eastern China. Torrential rain was continuing, leaving large parts of Zhejiang and Hubei provinces under water, state-run news agency Xinhua said. It said nearly 1,000 businesses were being disrupted and crops destroyed, pushing up food prices. This month's flooding - the worst since 1955 - has already left about 170 people dead or missing, reports say. Makes our Taree flood look like a non-event. An Obama impersonator was shown off the stage at a Republican gathering after making jokes about the party's White House contenders and the real president's mixed-race heritage. Reggie Brown mocked the Mormon faith of Republican hopeful Mitt Romney. I tried to find the vid on Youtube but failed. However, you can read the full BBC article here. US Senator John McCain has blamed illegal immigrants for starting some of the huge wildfires that have devastated the state of Arizona in recent weeks. Arizona's Republican senator said migrants "set fires because they wanted to signal others... to keep warm" and also to distract border agents.  The senator said: "There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally." However, he did not provide any details of the evidence he cited. He's John McCain, a Palin supporter... he doesn't need irrelevant things like details. The Church of England is expected to confirm that openly gay clergy can be made bishops, if they are celibate. Legal advice is due to be published as early as Monday saying homosexual clergy in civil partnerships can become bishops. The move is in response to the Equality Act, which protects from discrimination on the grounds of sexuality. But it risks deepening divisions over gay clergy, which threaten to split the Anglican Communion worldwide. Seems to me like it already has

What we need now is for someone to prove conclusively that Jesus was gay. That would REALLY upset the religious applecart hehe. Come to think of it, there is no mention in the Bible of his apostles being married except for Peter whose mother-in-law was apparently healed by Jesus. I suspect Peter never forgave him. "Of all the mothers-in-law in all the world, you had to heal MINE!"

Here's a short film called The Tailor shown at the Jewish Film Festival, featured on Justin's blog. It's very well done.

So here we are again, time for din dins. Well, tonight's is easy... potato and pumpkin mash, gravy and leftover meatloaf. Oh, BTW, Stan the Lawn Man arrived early this morning with his tool box to fix my damaged garage door after it was kinda rearranged a little by Bluey's hatch a week ago. He made a racket with all his banging and carry-on but he managed to get the job done. Then he spotted a jar of Vaseline that I smear on the battery terminals to stop acid build-up and used it to lubricate the roller door slider channels. Yeah, it worked a treat. And he didn't charge me. "You owe me," he said as he left. "And now I better go and earn some REAL money!" He'll never let me live it down, you can bet on it. Gary

June 19, 2011. Sundee. Averil says Mondee, Chewsdee, Wensdee, etc. And she often uses 'me' instead of 'my'. Hehe. "I had me hair done today." And she often drops the 'g' from ''. So did Cody. Pop music is notorious for using incorrect grammar... the sun ain't gonna shine no more. But incorrect grammar seems to work well with music, so I ain't gonna complain. In my writing, I like to use a mix of correct and incorrect depending on the "sound" it makes, and for "effect". I like to write the way I speak. And bugger the profs who don't agree.

I also tend to use American spelling with few exceptions. I use 'ass' instead of  'arse', for example. 'Color' instead of 'colour'. It saves ink.

However, I do insist on 'gday' and 'mate'. Years ago, I thought what's all this 'hi' business? Australians are not Americans. It's okay for an American to call his friend 'buddy' but in Oz we say 'mate'. 'Buddy' in Oz is something I associate with Aussie used-car salesmen who wear striped sports coats and floral bow ties. I think it's important for Aussies to maintain certain elements of their culture. Anyway, these days it's once again cool to say 'g'day' and 'mate'. For a while there, we suffered a 'cultural cringe' and abandoned much of our identity in favor of Americanisms. Thank God we got over that little hump. When in Woolloomooloo, do as the Woolloomoolooians do.


However, all credit to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from all parts of the world who have made Oz what it is today... a harmonious, multi-cultural society with just enough 'Aussieness' to make it uniquely Australian. It works well. When you see an Asian face saying, "No worries, mate, she'll be right", it's a real buzz.

TX Greg sent this link to one of the funniest vids I've seen. I don't know what these ladies have been drinking, but they sure are enjoying this party game. You need to show this to Averil, bet she'll get a laugh :)

Greg also says: BTW> Pic # 049 in the roadworks album??? haha

Beeb time: The US is engaged in talks with the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said, in the first high-level confirmation of US involvement. Mr Karzai said that "foreign military and especially the US itself" were involved in peace talks with the group. "In the course of this year, there have been peace talks with the Taliban and our own countrymen," Mr Karzai told a Kabul news conference on Saturday. "Peace talks have started with them already and it is going well. Foreign militaries, especially the United States of America, are going ahead with these negotiations." Sooner or later people realize there are only two options: you either learn to get along with your enemies or you spend forever bickering. Syrian troops sweep into the town of Bdama near the Turkish border, reports say, as a campaign to crush protests continues. Yeah, well, it's only a matter of time before the protesters are doing the sweeping. US President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner made a winning team on the golf course - with federal budget discussion likely to have taken place between the shots. They teamed up to beat Vice-President Joe Biden and Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich at a military base outside Washington DC. The game was touted as an opportunity to socialise and discuss the budget. What an interesting concept... two guys in opposition teaming up for a common purpose. Nato accuses Libyan leader Col Gaddafi of using mosques and children's parks as shields after Tripoli said Nato was targeting civilian buildings. It's obvious that a guy who has spent 40 years in power ain't gonna give up that easily. The Vatican is to set up a new e-learning centre to help safeguard children and victims of sexual abuse by clergy, as part of its efforts to deal with damaging scandals. The Roman Catholic Church is preparing for a major conference on abuse to take place next February in Rome. Better late than never, I suppose. But one can't help wondering why it's taken so long. A US man dubbed the "Barefoot Bandit" for a string of robberies, thefts and assaults he committed as a teenager has pleaded guilty at his trial in Seattle. Colton Harris-Moore gained cult status during his two years on the run, during which he stole cars and light aircraft to keep ahead of police. In addition to a jail term, the 20-year-old will forfeit any future earnings from selling his story. "The many years of Mr Harris-Moore avoiding responsibility for his criminal conduct have come to an end," said US Attorney Jenny Durkan in a statement at Friday's hearing. "We have ensured he will not profit from his crimes, and that his victims will be compensated to the greatest extent possible. While we cannot stop him from telling his story, we can make sure he never sees a dime for his crimes." Maybe not, but others will profit and get away with it. A convicted murderer, who was India's oldest inmate, has been released from prison at the age of 108. Brij Bihari Pandey, a Hindu priest, was serving a life sentence for the murder of four people in 1987, when he was 84. How bizarre. Vietnam and the United States have taken the first step towards cleaning up Agent Orange contamination. The US sprayed 12 million gallons of the defoliant over jungles between 1961 and 1971 during the Vietnam war. Vietnamese experts say more than three million people have suffered the effects of the herbicide, of which some 400,000 died. And all for what? The problem with hindsight is the first four letters. A Jewish rabbinical court condemned to death by stoning a stray dog it feared was the reincarnation of a lawyer who insulted its judges, reports say. The dog entered the Jerusalem financial court several weeks ago and would not leave, reports Israeli website Ynet. It reminded a judge of a curse passed on a now deceased secular lawyer about 20 years ago, when judges bid his spirit to enter the body of a dog. The animal is said to have escaped before the sentence was carried out. To quote a mate of mine, religion is just another form of superstition

Noodles for lunch. I suspect noodles were invented by someone with 20-20 vision. My glasses keep fogging up. Mind you, if I weren't sitting in front of the laptop I wouldn't be wearing glasses. I think DB's larder will be well stocked with noodles on the Odyssey. And various pasta, and canned stuff, and dried stuff. Anything that doesn't require refrigeration. Eggs are good, too. Flour keeps well. Make a simple dough and you've got fresh bread. Mind you, I don't intend to be out in the sticks all that often, so regular visits to the supermarket or bakery are definitely on the cards... plus the occasional McDs. And, of course, if you're camped somewhere and look too stupid to know how to feed yourself, there are always fellow campers who'll say, "Excuse me, but would you like to join us for dinner?" "Who me? Ohhhh, how sweet of you!" I mastered that stupid look when I lived in Queanbeyan and the lady next door kept giving me leftovers. She was Safrican and a great cook. Never tell your neighbors you're a good cook. NEVER!

Just back from shopping, and taking a look around town at the post-flood mess. It's not too bad but there's a bit of damage and lots of silt. But I suppose after a bit of rain the silt will feed the soil, and the grass and the trees and will improve and look wonderfully green and lush. Otherwise, the river is pretty much back to normal height. I met a duck while I was there that quacked. Well, it was a sort of quack-honk. I dunno what kinda duck it was but it was pretty. I'm not particularly fond of ducks but this one apparently thought I was.

Anyway, I took a few pics which I'll add to the current flood album and re-post it, probably tomorrow.

So that's it for Sundee. Pork loin chops for THEM and I think I'll settle for a bit of leftover junk. Gary

June 18, 2011. Another cool but pleasant day. Cool inside, that is, nice and warm outside in the sun. By the way, I've added a few new favorites to my Red Bubble page if you wanna take a bo peep.

Photography these days, with the digital revolution, is available to just about everybody, and not just the preserve of professionals. Television News is now happy to use amateur footage and stills of events as they occur around the world. I think it's fabulous! This is real communication, folks! Person to person. Even this blog is amazing to me. A couple of decades ago, before internet connection, whatever I wrote was confined to my own computer. Now it's "out there". Even my scrapbook is "out there"! No point in hiding your light under a bushell, ya know. And now people like NC Art, Oregon Richie, Ohio Jace, TX Greg and FL Josh are known to millions. Okay, dozens, but it's better than nothing.

Justin's blog has just posted an article about the UN Council passing a gay rights resolution, introduced by South Africa. Cody would indeed be chuffed. Hillary put it succinctly: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made gay rights a key focus of the State Department's human rights agenda, expressing her view that "gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights."

Minority discrimination is bad news. It's unthinkable in this day and age of sending black people back to where they were during the slave era, or even back to the mid 20th century. It's equally unthinkable to go back to the days when homosexuality was illegal. Let's move on, dear Breth.

Beeb time: In a landmark speech, Morocco's King Mohammed VI announces proposals for constitutional amendments, including more powers for parliament. I'm sure Bob Dylan wasn't referring to what's happening in the Middle East today when he sang, "the times they are-a changing" back in the '60s. Nevertheless, that wind he mentioned just keeps on blowing. Syrians demonstrating against Bashar al-Assad's regime pour onto the streets across the country, with reports of at least 18 protesters killed. You're fighting a losing battle, Bashar. Ultimately, tanks are no match for public sentiment. Saudi women begin driving cars in the capital Riyadh in open defiance of an official ban on female drivers, in an action organised on social network sites. Amazing, isn't it? Welcome to the 21st century. Germany and France say they want a new bail-out for debt-ridden Greece to be agreed as soon as possible. I'm sure people like Plato, Aristotle and Homer would agree. A fierce debate is gripping Russian internet forums over a police stunt to highlight indifference towards the aftermath of traffic accidents. A fake accident scene was staged in a village in the Astrakhan region in which a boy of 14 was covered in fake blood and placed face down by a road. Some drivers slowed down but no-one called for help, police said. Some human rights groups argued it was wrong to use the child despite the consent of the boy's mother. Russia has one the worst records for traffic fatalities in the world, with a death rate more than twice the European average. How callous! The largest emerald in the world has gone on display for the first time in Colombia, the country where the giant stone was originally discovered. It has up to 15,000 carats and has been kept in its orginal form since it was found in Boyaca, around 47 miles (75km) north of Bogota 12 years ago. The emerald's value has been described as 'unmeasurable'. I thought the word was 'immeasurable' but it doesn't matter. Click here for the vid. Footage of an orangutan apparently trying to revive a poorly coot chick has emerged online two years after the video was recorded. Leo Oosterweghel, director of Dublin Zoo, said it showed the animals had a gentle side to their nature. Worth a look

Oosterweghel? In Dublin? There ya go. 

I discovered something interesting today. Happiness is being a clam. Yes, folks, it seems clams are happy little chappies. At least that's how Oregon Richie described his lady visitor who's apparently having a lovely time shopping and enjoying the local Oregonian attractions, which I gather include Richie. I've known him for 10 years and never realized he was such a Casanova. Still waters run deep, yeah?

Looking back, I don't think anyone has ever found me edible, as in sexually attractive. Nice, yes. Pleasant, yes. Amiable, yes. Even moderately good looking. But not edible. No one I've met has ever leaped from a chandelier, or tackled me as I tried to flee, or left me black and blue after a night of passionate unbridled lovemaking. Come to think of it, I've never had a night of unbridled lovemaking. Not even bridled for that matter. Oh well... 

I meant to mention that the road outside this house, which was razed and given a new surface over a year ago, has weathered the recent torrential rains extremely well, despite heavy traffic which includes a lot of trucks and semi trailers. It's as good as new. I remember somebody saying to me at the time that the surface would be lucky to survive six months. Well, that's not the case. It seems that whatever technology they're using these days to build roads is pretty effective.

Oops! I've just discovered that I didn't post the roadworks album from last year, so I better do that now. And here it is!

Meanwhile, it's chicken schnitzel and corn fritters time! Gary

June 17, 2011. Okies, I just updated the Journal to include the pics I took yesterday of the Taree flood. There's a lot more flood damage up and downstream but I only visited the local CBD a few blocks from where I live. It's interesting that I've had a couple of inquiries from internet friends about how I might have been affected by the Taree flood - people I've never met - but no emails or phone calls from my brothers and their families in Oz who would have seen the news reports. No surprise, really.

And the weather today? Bewdiful. Sunny and bright and late teens C. Also, I just checked Das Busse and was pleased to find that she's as dry as a bone inside even after all those days of torrential rain. We don't want to crawl into a wet sleeping bag, do we. Can you imagine that? Ugh.

Beeb time: Syrian troops travelling on tanks, armoured personnel carriers and buses have moved into two northern towns. Security forces were gathering in Khan Sheikhun and Maarat al-Numan, a town of 90,000 between Damascus and Aleppo. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged Syria to halt the bloodshed and "stop killing people". The UN says that at least 1,100 people have died as the government has violently sought to quash protests over the past three months. We settle our political differences at the ballot box in Oz. Saves a fortune in tanks. Saves lives too. But then again this is not the Middle East. Maybe I shouldn't have said that, but I did. The US will hunt down and kill new al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri as it did Osama Bin Laden, Washington's top military officer has vowed. Adm Mike Mullen said al-Qaeda still posed a threat to the US. "As we did both seek to capture and kill - and succeed in killing - Bin Laden, we certainly will do the same thing with Zawahiri," he said. And the sooner the better. Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn claimed immunity and complained about handcuffs when he was arrested at JFK airport in New York, documents reveal. Immunity from what? Justice? Thirty-three people are killed in violence blamed on rival drug cartels in one of the deadliest days ever for the Mexican city of Monterrey, officials say. With a bit of luck, the rival gangs will eliminate each other and leave the rest of us in peace. US Democratic lawmaker Anthony Weiner has resigned his seat in Congress following an internet sex scandal. He said "the distraction that I have created" had made continuing "impossible". He said he apologised for the "personal mistakes" he had made. Mr Weiner had been under pressure after lying about a series of online chats with women to whom he sent lewd photos. We all learn from our mistakes, but some mistakes are just way too costly. I feel kinda sorry for the guy. He must be feeling sooooo bad. The US secretary of state has said she is troubled by reports that Libyan government forces are raping civilians. Hillary Clinton said she was was "deeply concerned" that Muammar Gaddafi's troops were participating in widescale rape in Libya. The International Criminal Court says it believes that there were orders given to rape and drugs were provided. Have you seen Gaddafi's beady little black eyes that he often covers with sunglasses? They're full of evil if you ask me. Nearly 100 people were arrested amid city centre rioting after Vancouver's ice hockey team lost the deciding game of the Stanley Cup final, police say. Chief Constable Jim Chu blamed the violence on "anarchists and criminals" and said police had seized weapons. Cars were set on fire and shops were looted following Vancouver Canucks' 4-0 defeat to the Boston Bruins. Residents said they were embarrassed at the spectacle, and volunteers helped clean up the mess on Thursday morning. Decent people are crying 'shame' but how do you shame people who are incapable of feeling shame? Thugs and assholes. Trash. One committed protester was at the front line when Greek police fired teargas at protesters outside parliament on Wednesday. The dog, thought to be a stray called Loukanikos, or Sausage, has been in the centre of the action for years. Yes, I saw the canine protester on a news clip. Here are some of his most memorable moments. The president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has called Britain "arrogant" for refusing to negotiate on the Falklands. She was speaking a day after UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the issue of sovereignty was non-negotiable. Margaret Thatcher's moment of glory. And if ever there was a woman of arrogance, she was it. Indonesia has jailed radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir for 15 years for backing an Islamist militant training camp. Hundreds of Ba'asyir's supporters had gathered outside court in Jakarta, and some wept when they heard the verdict. Idiots. Another crackpot bites the dust.

By the bloody way, I spotted a time-lapse pic of the moon eclipse on Red Bubble. The photographer lives in Victoria, Oz up in the Dandenong ranges.

For quite a while now, and particularly since purchasing Das Busse, I've been plagued at night by that negative voice in my head about taking on the Odyssey. I'm gonna have a head-on crash with a semi-trailer, I'm gonna get stuck in mud on a dirt road, the bus is gonna break down and spend a week in a repair shop, I'm gonna camp somewhere and be attacked by thugs, I'm gonna fall off a cliff, I'm gonna get vertigo crossing a narrow bridge somewhere and get stuck half way across, I'm gonna spend a fortune on doing up DB and it's gonna be a waste, yadda, yadda, yadda. The voice is very persistent, and I really don't know where it comes from. But I decided today to ignore it. It's driving me nuts.

Now I'm thinking about the time I interviewed Jesse Martin, an 18-year-old who sailed solo around the world in 1999. He said he spent many days terrified of the weather, etc, but he carried on regardless. Why did he do it? Simple. Now he's afraid of nothing. He met the challenges head on and survived. He banished fear from his agenda. Now he has the confidence to tackle almost anything that comes along. Yeah. It's too easy to think of all the reasons why you should not do something... to play it safe. But where does that get you? So bugger the negative voice. JUST DO IT. Besides, Cody called me an Awesome Old Dude soooo... what choice do I have?

Mind you, I'm not comparing traveling Oz solo in a campervan to sailing solo around the world, but there is a common theme... the conquering of one's fear of being alone and self-reliant.

That little song and dance inspired me to check Google for tourism in Oz. Guess who are the biggest spenders? I think one of the most interesting experiences on the Odyssey will be meeting foreign tourists, although I don't expect to meet many Asians because they tend to take organized bus tours and travel in groups. It's mostly Europeans, Brits, Yanks, and Canadians who do the backpacker thing and rough it. Also, English is not spoken very much in Asian countries. Still and all, it'll be interesting to swap stories with people from other lands and cultures, as well as our own home-grown Aussies from a variety of backgrounds. It'll be a change from L&S hehe.

Meanwhile, it's time to think about throwing on the chef hat again. Gary

June 16, 2011. Yep, still a little cloudy but the sun is trying to peek through. The storm system is now headed south towards Newcastle and Sydney. I heard on local radio this morning that quite a number of roads have been cut by floodwaters around Taree, but here on the hill where we are, it's okay. Further north, I heard that part of the Pacific Hwy will be closed for 5 days! The state government has declared some of the towns up north disaster zones. Just heard a chopper overhead, probably there to assess damage.

Actually, I hadn't realized that the river was up so high. Click here for a series of pics at 3pm yesterday by the Manning River Times.

TX Greg sent this link to a cute vid of a dog riding a scooter. Makes me wonder what the dog is teaching its owner to do.

NC Art commented on Lulu adding Green Room to iPad etc. I assume you do get a royalty on sales. Yes, I do. Green Room should be a million seller but I'm afraid it's a looooooooooooooong way short of that. Try a couple of hundred. However, I am compensated by readers' comments. Those who have read the book have been deeply moved.

Art also commented on Captain Jimmy: Well old James Cook did get around a bit, but unfortunately he mistook some islanders in Hawaii for welcoming friends and got chopped to death with bolos. Interestingly, William Bligh was Cook's sailing master who survived a mutiny on his Bounty. And later became governor of South Wales and faced another mutiny of sorts. He must have been downright disagreeable.

Art goes on to talk about circumcision: Wikipedia is silent about the appearance of either of these bloke's penis. Hardly matters in the greater scheme of things. I assume that the practice of circumcising was likely religious law, but could have been engendered by an infection which was treated by excising the offending flesh and the religious aspect was rooted in good hygiene. Indeed, the clipping is still defended on medical grounds, but the evidence for its efficacy is slight. Most young lads manage to retract the foreskin--because it's pleasurable--and expose glans penis for a healthful wash-up. Another possible  advantage is the toughening of the covered part to reduce sensitivity and prolong the sexual experience before climax. I can't vouch for that; what I was born with worked well enough.

I don't remember having asked my mother why I had a foreskin but I must have. I do remember her answer, however: "It's there because it protected the natives when they ran through long grass." She also explained that my younger brother was circumcized shortly after birth because his foreskin was too long. I remember she said it looked strange because it was "purple". She figured it was okay to have him circumcized because our dad always kept our lawns mowed.

Art's fav music site is But if you're in Oz, this is what you get: We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for listeners located outside of the U.S. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

Art also mentions the use of external speakers for his laptop. Yes, sireee. The built-in speakers of my Toshiba are dreadful so I use a pair of Logitech externals that cost only $60. They're brilliant! And they're powered by the USB port. No mains.

Beeb time: Skywatchers in parts of Europe, Africa, Central Asia and Australia have been watching the first total lunar eclipse of 2011 and the longest in nearly 11 years. This type of eclipse occurs when the Earth casts its shadow over the Moon. But indirect sunlight can still illuminate the Moon turning it a dramatic shade of red. Well, if it happened here in Taree we didn't see it cos we've had heavy cloud cover for a week! President Barack Obama does not need congressional approval for the US to continue its role in the Nato-led Libya mission, the White House has said. In a 32-page document, the White House said the president already had legal authority to order forces into Libya. A Vietnam War-era law states Congress must authorise participation in hostilities longer than 60 days. Members of Congress have accused Mr Obama of violating that law since 20 May, when the 60-day deadline ended. Obama's critics should get their facts straight before they open their mouths. Indonesia is ramping up security in preparation for a verdict in the terrorism trial of radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir. Police chief Sutarman said more than 3,000 security personnel would secure the Jakarta court and surrounding area. Ba'asyir, 72, is accused of helping to organise and fund a jihadi training camp in western Aceh province. He denies involvement with the training camp but has repeatedly defended it as legal under Islam. The cleric has been involved in radical Islamic groups in Indonesia for four decades. Over the years, he has been repeatedly arrested, jailed and then released. No wonder the idiot is always smiling and laughing. Pakistan has arrested five alleged CIA informants who helped the US plan the raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in northern Pakistan in May. Among those held by the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, was the owner of a safe house rented to the CIA to watch Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, the New York Times wrote. The Bin Laden raid strained ties between the US and Pakistan. Our (BBC) correspondent says that the Pakistani authorities appear to be making every effort to unearth CIA informants while showing little interest in arresting Taliban and al-Qaeda sympathisers. Go figure. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that the occupants of southeastern France were brewing beer during the Iron Age, some 2,500 years ago. A paper in Human Ecology outlines the discovery of barley grains that had been sprouted in a process known as malting; an oven found nearby may have been used to regulate the process. Beer brewing's heritage stretches back to the Bronze Age in China and the Middle East, but this is the earliest sign of the practice in France, where wine-making had already taken hold. How sensible. Pasta has topped a global survey of the world's favourite foods. So how did the dish so closely associated with Italy become a staple of so many tables around the globe? Read the full article here. I love pasta! The US internet radio service Pandora Media rose sharply on its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, before falling back. The firm, which has yet to make a profit, had an offering price of $16 (£9.76) a share. Pandora started out as a music recommendation service called Savage Beast Technologies in 2000. It changed its name in 2005 when it launched an internet radio service, which allows users to create custom radio stations by specifying which artists and genres they want to hear. It has 94 million registered users and makes most of its money through advertising. Okay, so now I know what Pandora is. An Australian television presenter attempted to tell a Dalai Lama joke to the man himself, but struggled to raise a smile. Karl Stefanovic from the Today show had to have elements of the joke translated to the Tibetan leader, and the play on words were met with a blank stare until the Dalai Lama laughed at Mr Stefanovic's attempts to explain the humour. Funny stuff... even if the Dalai didn't get it

Well, well, well... blue sky. Whaddaya know! So now I can do some shopping. 

I favorited this pic (a drawing from an old photograph) this morning on Red Bubble. Real Huck Finn stuff, and I love it. Read the accompanying notes - it's a lovely story. I think NC Art could easily have been one of those kids.

Back from shopping, and taking a look around town. Ooer! I've been hiding under the bed for the past few days, staying out of the rain, and I had no idea the flooding was as extensive as it is. I took some pics of the flooded carpark down the road, and of the river. The riverside park is all under water. The kids' playground has disappeared. The road that runs alongside the river is nowhere to be seen. I'll make an album tomorrow and post the pics. Meanwhile, here's one I posted on Red Bubble.

It's late now, and I just made a meat loaf which is now in the oven, together with spuds and pumpkin. Time to vamoose! Gary

June 15, 2011. Lulu has added my book Green Room to the iPad thing. I don't really understand all that stuff but I guess it means that Green Room is now available to download as an e-book to mobile devices. Lulu wants to make sure that Green Room is available to every potential customer on the planet, starting with the 120 million+ readers who own an iPhone®, iPad®, or iPod touch® and shop at the iBookstore. 

Hmmm, sounds cool to me.

Still wet here. Rained a lot overnight, and got pretty windy at times. Further north, a small seaside village was struck by a mini tornado which almost blew the place off the map. However, things are predicted to ease soon and the weather will return to dry, calm and mild. AND IT'S ABOUT BLOODY TIME!

Oregon Richie mentioned the Endeavor this morning... the name of the ship Jimmy Cook captained back in 1770 when he charted the east coast of Oz among other southern lands. Richie added: Then too there was Apollo 15.... the lunar module was FALCON and the command module spacecraft was the Endeavor.  And maybe DB is a bit of both, actually..

Anyway, a couple of years ago I visited the Endeavor replica at Port Macquarie during one of its voyages. If you're a newbie who hasn't seen the pics, or an old hand who hasn't seen them for a while, you can check out the album here.

Speaking of Oregon, if you've ever wondered what a Junco hyemalis oreganus is, thanks to Red Bubble here it is.

Beeb time: Libyan rebels fighting to topple Col Muammar Gaddafi have been edging west from the city of Misrata as they try to advance towards the capital, Tripoli. Nato dropped leaflets on Zlitan, just west of Misrata, urging government troops to abandon their posts. In and around Tripoli, a series of Nato airstrikes have been reported. I'm amazed that the country's infrastructure remains intact during all this commotion... food, power, water, fuel, etc. The chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, has warned that the country's creditworthiness is at risk if its borrowing limit is not raised. He said the US could lose its coveted AAA credit rating if Congress did not vote in favour of lifting the $14.3 trillion (£8.7 trillion) debt ceiling. If there is no deal by August, the US may start defaulting on obligations. When in doubt, ask Sarah. Police in Brazil say a land rights activist who had allegedly argued with illegal loggers in the Amazon has been murdered, the fifth in less than a month. Greed has no conscience. Syrian tanks have fanned out around towns and villages near the Turkish border, widening a crackdown on 12 weeks of anti-government protests. Damascus said its forces were pursuing rebels through the countryside around Jisr al-Shughour, after consolidating control over the northern town. Witnesses say troops are pursuing a "scorched earth" strategy, destroying houses and crops as residents flee. The US, meanwhile, renewed calls on Syria to halt its crackdown. Yeah, right, and a lot of good that will do. The wedding of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner to his 25-year-old girlfriend has been called off, following her change of heart, Mr Hefner announced. Mr Hefner was to marry Crystal Harris, who was featured in the magazine as Playmate of the Month in December 2009, on Saturday. The 85-year-old has been married twice before, in 1949 and 1989. Silly boi. Police in Pakistan say they have arrested two men for stripping a woman naked and parading her in a village. One of the offenders had accused the woman's son of having illicit relations with his wife, the police said. Public dishonouring of women is not uncommon in Pakistan and other parts of South Asia, but the incident is rare in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Stuck in the past... living fossils content with their ignorance. Hollywood star Russell Crowe has apologised for criticising the ritual of circumcision on his Twitter account. Interesting article that you can read here

I don't get the circumcision business. Circumcision began as a religious ritual, right? Religious people believe in God; that God created everything. So what are they saying? That God made a mistake by creating a foreskin? "Hey, God! Yoo hoo! What's this bit for?" By the way, Adam was created an adult. Did he have a foreskin? In fact, did he even have a penis given that Eve was an afterthought. And what about Cain and Abel? Did Adam circumcize them? And if he did, what did he use? Oh yea of little faith.

It doesn't pay to question religious beliefs, dear Breth. To believe requires blind faith. Once you start questioning things, you could end up becoming a cynic and cynics don't get past the Pearlies. No harp, baby. No 27 virgins. No nuthin'.

Nothing on the Beeb about the latest earthquakes in Christchurch NZ. You can check the latest news at the NZ Herald web site. The locals are getting pretty tired of all that hippy hippy shake business, and especially the liquification that bubbles up after every shock.

The weather here on the Mid North Coast has been pretty wild too, with local flooding and wind damage. Taree itself is okay, though, at least where I live. According to the forecast, Friday through to next Tuesday is looking good - mostly sunny with temps in the high teens.

And now ladies and genitals, let's hear Peggy Lee singing one of my fav songs, Is That All There Is.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine wrote to say that his favorite lady is coming to visit after a very long absence. They met in 5th grade, were lovers for a while during their teens and twenties, and then went their separate ways. Then outta the blue, after many many years, they got together again by phone and have been chatting away merrily for the past month or so. And now, as I write this, they're back together after all this time. My friend has been busy the past few days scrubbing the bathroom clean as a whistle, dusting everything, polishing floors, mowing lawns, sweeping leaves and oiling the bed springs. Isn't that romantic? Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

I think I'm too grumpy to have anyone from my past revisit. In my case, absence has had the opposite effect. But I certainly don't deny my friend the opportunity to rekindle something that's always been special in his life. Gary

June 14, 2011. I was standing in the kitchen when Lindsay walked in, looked out the window at the rain (after spending 10 minutes on the front veranda and seeing it there) and said, "Only a few drops. I'll walk up to the shopping center and get a cab there." So I'm supposed to say, "It's okay, Lindsay, I'll drive you." But I didn't. Bugger him. If he wants a lift, he can ask instead of carrying on with all that dumb hint-hint bullshit.

Reminds me of the days when I was a young bloke working at the Registrar General's Dept. I needed to borrow ten bob from the boss, so I said, "You know that ten bob I owe you?" And he said, "What ten bob?" I said, "The ten bob I'll owe you when you give it to me."

Justin used a funny expression - Honey Dos. He's home during summer vacation from college, being lazy and just "hangin' out" except for his mom's Honey-Dos. Honey, would you do this and Honey would you do that... Hehe.

According to the forecast, Taree is gonna be wet, wet, wet until Friday. And I mean WET. To add to the misery, there's a strong wind blowing the rain against my bedroom windows. And just outside, poor DB is sitting in the drive getting drenched. When I drove her back from Tamworth a while back, it was in heavy rain all the way and I didn't see any leaks. So I hope that remains to be the case. Meanwhile, I expect there'll be some local flooding around the Manning Valley, not to mention damage to roads. And the dirt roads? Leave me outta those.

Beeb time: Contenders for the Republican presidential nomination hit out at President Obama's economic record in the first major debate of the 2012 race. And don't forget to mention G W Bush's. The unemployment rate in Gaza is among the highest in the world, a UN report finds, as Israel's blockade of the coastal strip enters its fifth year. So much for love thy neighbor and do unto others. I reckon they're all nuts. US officials order a security review after the US Senate website was hacked at the weekend by a group identifying itself as Lulz Security. That's not what I would call staying one step ahead of the competition. US President Barack Obama has said he would resign if he were in the position of Anthony Weiner, a New York congressman who has admitted sending lewd photos of himself to women online. In an interview with NBC, Mr Obama said Mr Weiner, who is married, had "embarrassed himself". What an understatement.

I just looked out the window for a while, watching a couple of people braving the rain, trying to keep their umbrellas from being turned inside out by the wind. No thanks. I ain't goin' nowhere! I don't care if I starve to death!

So there's not much to do except bugger around with Google. As I kid, I remember wearing Stamina trousers. I also vaguely remember The Stadium, Sydney's premier entertainment venue which was little more than a glorified tin shed, and which was demolished in 1970. But it's where the Beatles performed and also Frank Sinatra. This photo would have been taken when I was 10 or less. Here's a shot of Sydney showing David Jones Barrack Street store (cnr George St) in the '50s. No Holdens, just a Ford Mainline ute and an old Citroen - and a fruit barrow. Up the road a bit there are the old Sydney trams, a common sight around Sydney and suburbs in those days, and I can make out Beard Watsons, a department store that vanished years ago. It's interesting that I can't see any traffic lights at the intersection, so traffic must have had to wait for a break in the stream of pedestrians before it could move on. Here's an old red rattler (with doors open as usual) crossing the Harbor Bridge and heading north to Milsons Point. What? No Opera House or skyscrapers? Yes, they were the days when I could buy a Phantom comic for 1/- (10 cents). I remember having a Phantom skull ring that glowed in the dark. They were also the days when Qantas Empire Airways operated flying boats on Sydney Harbor at Rose Bay. Here's an old Holden giving a Jaguar a run for its money hehe. And here's the area near St James railway station in Elizabeth Street where I traveled to and from work each day on a red rattler. On the far right of the pic is the corner of the St James cinema where I took my mom and dad to see Ben Hur back in '59. This is pretty much the same area in Elizabeth Street at the turn of the century. And here's Central Railway. Note the McWilliams Wine ad, and also the Vincent's APC ad. APC stood for aspirin, phenacetin and caffein - a deadly and addictive cocktail that attacked the kidneys and even killed people before it was banned. People were taking half a dozen or more Vincents a day without realizing the danger. "Take Vincents with confidence for quick three-way relief!" went the jingle. They even had dispensing machines in pubs, offices, and public places everywhere. Ah yes, the '50s would not be complete without an FJ Holden. Our neighbor had one and his son invited me to sit in the back seat. We weren't allowed in the front. Yes, things were very different back then... swim shorts and cigarettes. And here's what the Australian Navy was flying back then.

Well, that filled in a bit of time on a dreadful day. Isn't the internet wonderful? A few clicks and you can take a trip down memory lane.

And now it's THAT time again. Lamb cutlets for THEM and I'm not sure about me. There are some cocktail frankfurts in the fridge that need using, and I've still got some 'bake-at-home' bread rolls, so I might have a couple of mini hot dogs. Why not? With mustard. Gary

June 13, 2011. Richie asked if I'd ventured out this weekend. No. Too wet and dreary. Some photographers brave all kinds of nasty conditions to get a great shot. Not me, hehe. Too bloody chicken. Besides, as I pointed out to AO's Oregonian correspondent, there'll be more than ample opportunities on the Odyssey to get great pics.

I commented on one pic on Red Bubble this morning... a great shot of the Very Fast Train in Japan. In William's notes he mentions that he used a tripod and a wireless remote. If it had been me, I would have just taken a normal hand-held shot. But not our William. He's heavily into HDR (high dynamic range imaging) processing, so he uses multiple shots with varying exposure levels. Naturally, all the shots need to be identical in terms of framing so they can be combined into a single image. If you scroll down this Wikipedia page a bit you'll see a demo of how HDR works.

I learn a lot from observing the work of photographers on Red Bubble... not that I aspire to getting too technical... I'm far too impatient to go through all that complicated rigmarole. But I learn things about framing, composition, lighting, etc, which helps when I get "out there" to take a few happy snaps. This shot by Mieke for example manages to highlight the boab tree and yet also capture the immensity of the West Australian outback.

Beeb time: Near-complete results from Turkey's poll show the governing AK party will win but fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution unilaterally. I must say I don't follow Turkey's fortunes all that closely. The Syrian army has taken control of the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour following what state media has described as heavy fighting. A BBC reporter embedded with troops says clashes erupted after the army entered the town at dawn. Sources said three people had died. The government operation sent hundreds more people fleeing towards the Turkish border, to join thousands who have already crossed. I'll stick to living in Oz, thank you very much. Qantas has cancelled all its flights in and out of Melbourne, Australia, because of ash drifting over the Pacific Ocean from a volcano in Chile. Qantas had already cancelled flights to and from Tasmania and parts of New Zealand. Other airlines have also grounded flights in the region, stranding thousands of travellers. Australian airline Qantas said it was too dangerous to fly through the ash. It took most passengers completely by surprise. Ash all the way from Chili? Where the hell is Chili, anyway? A teenager from a poor family in the rural Philippines has been declared the world's shortest man as he turned 18. Guinness World Records presented Junrey Balawing, who is 59.93cm (23.6 inches) tall, with a certificate at his birthday party. Mr Balawing stopped growing when he was two, his father said. He is more than 7cm shorter than the previous record holder, Khagendra Thapa Magar from Nepal, who had held the record since last October. I believe the local community is very protective of Junrey so that he doesn't become the town freak, which is a good thing. Nissans made in India? Click here for the story

Time to think about lunch... so I stuck my head in the fridge to see what was there. Ooer! Bread rolls! They're those little dinner rolls that are half baked. You stick 'em in the oven for 5 minutes until they're golden brown and then butter them. Yum! Fresh hot bread straight from the oven. That'll do. I've got a little parmesan cheese left over so I might sprinkle a bit of that in as well. Brings back memories of the smell of the horse-drawn baker's cart that delivered fresh bread to our street when I was a kid. Modern supermarkets just ain't the same, although the one I go to has its own bakery which is pretty cool. I don't know of anything that beats the aroma of a bakery. And to think that someone, somewhere, many moons ago got the idea to grind up grain in a mortar and pestle and make flour. What a genius!

Makes you wonder if the wheel should be credited as the world's greatest invention. I mean, take the Lord's Prayer for example. It doesn't say Our Father who art in Heaven, give us our daily wheel. Right?

I can hear a helichopter. What an interesting sound they make. You don't hear many aircraft here in Taree... maybe the daily Saab commuter from Sydney (which I can hear now) and the occasional private plane or two, but not much else. Not like my previous abode in Petersham which is under the Sydney airport flight path. You could practically reach up and touch the undercarriage of those big jets. If you were engaged in conversation when one of those things flew overhead, you'd have to shuddup for 5 minutes unless you wanted to look like a dummy minus the ventriloquist.

Just checked the weather forecast for Townsville QLD, fine fine fine and lovely. Kakadu NT, fine fine fine and lovely. Broome WA, fine fine fine and lovely. Taree? Yeah, right. There's only one place to be at this time of year... at the top end. Darwin's temps during "winter" are the same as Taree gets during summer. On the other hand, Taree is a lot more comfortable during summer than Darwin is. Summer at the top end is the wet season with extreme humidity. So it pays to travel light and be a nomad.

I've been thinking about traveling light for the past hour or so. Traveling light means leaving pretty much everything behind - your furniture, your photo albums, your filing cabinet with all its receipts and papers, pretty much everything about your life that won't fit into a campervan, and that's pretty much everything - and taking only what's absolutely necessary. So it's like starting from scratch at 66 or 67. Day 1 of my life is when I leave this driveway for the last time. Gary

June 12, 2011. Wet and dreary again. And I slept in till almost 8am! Not even the butcher bird's song or the kookaburra's cackle could get me outta bed this morning. Too cosy. And I had lots of weird dreams, including one where I was telling my teacher that the last time I left school was when I was 14. He said something about not getting a proper education and career. But in the dream, I'd gone through school a second time and there I was ready to graduate at 66. Hehe. But I woke before the dream revealed what kind of employment I was about to get. Also, I remember telling the teacher that I had a rep for being difficult... that I resented being told what to do or ordered about. When old Kev next door was still alive he said to me one day, "the army would soon sort you out!" I doubt it though. I told Kev I'd probably spend most of my time in the brig.

Speaking of retired military personnel, NC Art wrote: Seems that disagreeable weather makes you a bit disagreeable too! Your screed against people meddling in private citizens' affairs got pretty heated, what? Today's local newsrag ran a story with a curious twist. A local male musician is in jail on a $3.5 million bond for sexually abusing a 15 year old schoolboy. As most news accounts go, it isn't clear exactly who was abusing whom. The man would stop at the school, pick up the lad, drive to a quite spot, give the kid a blow job, and return him to school. Bad arrangement because a security officer noticed and called the local sheriff. The music man admitted several such encounters with the boy. Oddly, in the perpetrator's car there was a sheaf of e-mails sent by the boy to websites' looking for more action pleasurable trysts. HUH? Who's victimizing whom here? Perp or victim? or what?!

Yes, well I suppose the law looks favorably on the minor because the adult should have known better. Still and all, if there was no abuse involved, I fail to see why the man was arrested and charged. A $3.5m bond seems a bit stiff as well (if you'll pardon the expression). Meanwhile, the term 'jail bait' would seem to be an appropriate warning to anyone tempted to mess with a minor.

Art goes on to say: Reminds me of the great ballet dancer/choreographer Nijinsky who fell in love with his much older teacher. The teacher broke Nijinsky's heart by taking a female to wed. Love is a heartless beast. Nijinsky got even by marrying a countess or duchess or something. All of it sent the greatest dancer on earth to a mental hospital for the rest of his life.

All is fair in love and war? If that's the case, avoid both.

Beeb time: At least 34 people have been killed and 90 wounded after two explosions ripped through a market in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar, police say. The blasts occurred just after midnight in an area of the city that is home to political offices and army housing. The number of attacks by militants in Pakistan has risen sharply since al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was killed in a US commando raid last month. Allah will be pleased. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the death of top African al-Qaeda militant Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is a "significant blow" to the group. He and another militant were killed earlier this week in a shootout with police at a checkpoint in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, officials said. Mr Mohammed was the most wanted man in Africa, with a $5m bounty on his head. He was suspected of having played a key role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa, which killed 224 people. Death is too good for such human trash. A US congressman who admitted sending lewd photos of himself to women says he wants a leave of absence from Congress to seek professional help. Hehe, I think that's funny. Before he got sprung, he thought it was cool. A "peace caravan" which has spent a week travelling through Mexico to protest against drugs-related violence has crossed the border in the US. Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who led the convoy, said the US bore a "grave responsibility" for failing to tackle the drugs crisis. He told supporters in El Paso, Texas that US citizens who used drugs were also partly to blame for the violence. I wholeheartedly agree... no market, no drug crisis. Details are emerging of Sarah Palin's life as governor of Alaska, following the release of 24,000 pages of her e-mails by officials in the US state. As well as the mundane matters of political office, the correspondence reveals her frustration over rumours about her family and marriage. We now cross to our Oregon Waffle correspondent, Richie: I have paid little attention to the Palin email stuff and her answers usually just make the situation worse for her.  She made a number of dingbat and incorrect statements recently about our American hero Paul Revere and her response to various comments simply made the situation worse for her.  But since of her fans are rather myopic idiots they tend to do well with her idiotic statements so there is nothing you can do about that. When a soldier kills someone at close quarters, how does it affect them? This most challenging and traumatic part of a soldier's job is often wholly overlooked. A very interesting article

It's a long weekend in NSW Oz... Queen's Birthday. It's not really, but the government has set aside the second weekend in June as the Queen's birthday whether it's the official day or not. So what happens when Betty falls off the perch and Charles takes over? Or William? Will it become the King's Birthday long weekend? I don't think Aussies will care much as long as they can throw a few bangers on the barbie. Mind you, with all the bloody rain we're getting, I don't think there'll be too many barbies in Oz this weekend.

We've just emerged from a 10-year drought, so I guess that explains all the rain. Once the rain has done it's thing, we'll probably go back to another drought. If that's the case when I'm doing the Odyssey, I think I'd prefer dry weather to wet. Could get a little dusty but it's a case of what's worse... mud or dust. I worry a little about following a 10-kilometer dirt road to a camping site, getting everything set up, and then having a downpour that turns the dirt road into a quagmire. EEEK! Stuck for the duration! Dirt roads are okay when they're dry. Know what I mean? Make sure the pantry's well stocked, Gary. Either that or stay away from dirt roads.

In outback Oz there's dust called Bulldust, which is red, and as fine as talcum powder. They say there are bulldust holes that can swallow a Mack truck. If you drive through that stuff, it gets into everything - every nook and cranny (yes, folks, even there!), so I think I might stay away from that stuff as well.

Do you like burgers? I love burgers. But I've often wondered how to get the ground beef molded into a firm patty without it becoming rubbery or too crumbly. I've tried a few recipes over the years but they've not been all that successful. And the ready-made burgers from the butchery are not up to scratch either. For starters they use cheap grade streak. So I just did a Google and found Jamie Oliver's recipe for Cracking Burger. He uses cracker biscuits smashed into fine crumbs to mix with premium ground beef as well as parsley, mustard, egg, salt and pepper and olive oil . He also serves his burgers with sliced pickled gherkins. Yum! And in another burger recipe he includes parmesan cheese in the beef mix. So now I'm desperately hanging out for a burger but I'm saddled with leftover chicken tonight. Dammit.

On the Odyssey, if I followed Jamie's recipe, I'd have to make 6 burger patties. There's no way you can buy sufficient ingredients to make just one or two. So guess what would be on the menu for the rest of the week? Mind you, I can think of worse fates. And if there were a couple of surfers camped nearby well... I could always share them around. :o) "You supply the beers and I'll supply the burgers." "No worries, mate! Go for it!" 

Meanwhile, here's a bloke who's got a chimney on his campervan. Gary

June 11, 2011. Well, well, well, looky here... another Satdee. I'm not complaining though... the quicker they come around, the quicker I can save my bikkies for DB's revival. One of Stan the Lawn Man's criticisms yesterday was that after spending big bucks (for me) on DB I'll still have an old car. True. He's 68, and I should have told him to forget about getting his skin cancers removed because he'll still have an old body. But I didn't think of it at the time.

Anyway, what's a campervan? It's only a box on wheels. If you can get one that does the job for a reasonable price, does it really matter how old it is? There's a point in every vehicle's life where condition is more important than age. I have two options: spend the bucks bit by bit on DB or save up to buy something for twice the cost or more. The longer I wait, the older I get.

Here's a Toyota camper the same model as mine with a similar fitout, except the kitchen is forward rather than aft. I prefer it aft because it's accessible outdoors from the raised rear hatch. Anyway they're asking $3000 more than I paid for DB, and it has rust which would need to be repaired. So, you know, six of one, half dozen of the other. I might as well stick with DB. At least it's in my backyard and I don't have to go fetch it. There are also plenty of vans older than DB so, again, it's condition that really matters.

Pardon me, dear Breth, I'm just thinking aloud.

Showers today, and heavy rain forecast for most of the week. Bleh. So that's it for the model railways exhibition. I ain't goin' nowhere until I absolutely have to.

Beeb time: At least 28 people die in fresh clashes between protesters and security forces in Syria, activists say, as refugees continue to flee into Turkey. What a mess. Journalists are poring over 24,000 pages of former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin's e-mails, after they were released by officials in the US state. That'll keep the journos happy for a while! And the Democrats. Hehe. A woman whose face was torn off by a chimpanzee in 2009 is recovering after receiving a full facial and double hand transplant. Jesus, the bizarre things that happen to people. A renewed barrage of shelling by Libyan troops around Misrata has left at least 22 people dead and at least 60 wounded, according to hospital doctors in the rebel-held city. Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have been pounding Misrata throughout the day. Somebody should tell them they're fighting a losing battle. You can't win, guys. It's all over! Finito, kaputski! A New York City filmmaker and cyclist has launched a painful online crusade to push authorities to ticket motorists who park in bike lanes. In May, a policeman gave Casey Neistat a $50 (£31) fine for riding in a traffic lane, dismissing his plea that the bike lane was dangerously blocked. To prove his point, Mr Neistat created a video in which he is shown crashing into a series of bike lane obstacles. The video has become a YouTube hit, garnering almost a million views. In the video, Mr Neistat crashes into a taxi, a traffic cone, construction kit and finally, a police car - none of which he had placed there for the video shoot. "Everything we found, I crashed into," Mr Neistat told the local CBS television affiliate. "I refused to leave the bike lane." Definitely recommended viewing. A website for gay Kenyans has been launched in the capital, Nairobi, to help the small openly homosexual community cope with discrimination. The Freedom In Speech site would help gay people end their isolation by discussing their lives and the abuse they face, the founders told the BBC. It would also create a forum to challenge homophobic politicians and religious leaders, they said. Homosexual acts are illegal in deeply conservative Kenya. Conservative? I think they mean backward.

For the life of me I can't understand why governments and religion meddle in things that are none of their business, such as sexual orientation. What's that got to do with running the country? What's that got to do with genuflecting and waving incense around the place and singing hymns? It's not gays who wanna turn straight people gay, it's straight people who wanna turn gay people straight. Not all straights are homophobic, mind you, just the control freaks who figure they've been divinely ordained by the Heavenly Father to do his will. They figure God's not clever enough to do the job properly himself. Bloody hell, I can't stand people like that. What a bunch of pompous, self-righteous dickheads.

By the way, is there such a word as heterophobic? Lemme check. Apparently there is, but it's pretty much a meaningless term unless you're talking about a person who suffers from omniphobia, which is a fear of everything.

Yes, meddle. Meddle, meddle, meddle. I HATE meddlers! I think I might be suffering from meddlephobia.

Back from a little top-up shopping before the deluge predicted over the following several days. There's enough stuff in the fridge now to see us through the week. And I wasn't the only one at the supermarket. Lots of people are apparently thinking the same thing, and doing the Noah's Ark trick.

Meanwhile, this kinda weather is the pits. Cold, wet and dreary. Ya know, when you take a bath, you don't run the water till it overflows. How come God doesn't know that? When was the last time he took a bath? I mean, he was the architect, right? He built the whole damn shebang. So what's the story? I'd ask Benny but he's not taking calls. Apart from that, I suspect he doesn't know the answer. "God works in mysterious ways, Mr Kelly."

Well, I don't work in mysterious ways. I'm totally predictable. Nothing mysterious about me at all. Maybe God should have given me the job of creating the universe. No surprises Gary. No floods, no earthquakes, no tsunamis. No Hitlers, no lunatics, no grief. But maybe I didn't get the job cos God thought I was boring. Maybe God is a journalist who's got a thing about headlines. What's the point of a newspaper if there's no news? What's the point of life if there's no fire and brimstone?

Well, it's time once again to think about filling bellies. And tonight, it's gonna be Thai fish cakes with sweet chilli sauce and... dare I say it... CHIPS! Gary

June 10, 2011. A third of June gone already. Whoosh! On the other hand, saving up my pennies to get Das Busse ready for the big trip seems to be taking FOREVER! I guess it's all psychological. The rate at which time passes is constant despite our perceptions.

I love bitchy humor. Check out this post on Justin's blog about 10 sweet nothings you'd better never whisper in my ear.

The Taree and District Model Railways exhibition is on this weekend so I suppose I'd better check it out. It's indoors which doesn't favor hand-held photograhy but ya never know ya luck. I might get a shot or two that's worthwhile. Besides, there's nothing else happening locally. Apart from my hibiscus bush beside the front veranda.

Beeb time: The UN nuclear watchdog is to report Syria to the Security Council over its alleged covert nuclear programme. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to rebuke Syria on claims of an undeclared nuclear reactor. The structure, which Syria has maintained was a non-nuclear military site, was destroyed by Israel in 2007. The IAEA's move comes as international pressure mounts on the UN Security Council to censure Syria over its lethal crackdown on protests. European nations on Wednesday presented a separate draft resolution to the Council condemning Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. It takes a lot of consistent work to keep a garden free from weeds. Countries involved in the Libya campaign pledge cash to a new aid fund for the rebels, stepping up pressure on Col Gaddafi's regime. Let's hope the devil we don't know ain't as bad as the devil we do. Pakistan's Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has ordered an inquiry into the killing - on camera - of a young man by paramilitaries. Video footage shows the man, Sarfaraz Shah, begging for his life before being shot by the paramilitaries in Karachi. The Rangers say the young man was caught trying to rob someone. His family denies this. Reminds me of a time I saw several men (passers-by in the street) holding a robber down on the ground, waiting for police to arrive. But they didn't shoot him. A number of senior aides have left the 2012 presidential campaign team of Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, citing strategic differences. "When the campaign and the candidate disagree on the path, they've got to part ways," said ex-aide Rick Tyler, according to the Washington Post. The news will hit Mr Gingrich's hopes of being the Republican nominee to challenge President Barack Obama. I dunno the guy so no comment. A US jury has convicted a Chicago businessman of supporting an Islamic militant group blamed for the Mumbai attack in 2008. But Tahawwur Rana, 50, was cleared of the more serious charge of helping plot the attack that killed more that 160 people in the Indian city. The Chicago jury also convicted the Pakistani-born Canadian of helping an aborted attack on a Danish newspaper. Rana is expected to be sentenced later and faces up to 30 years in prison. Good. Iraq will ask the US to keep a troop presence in the country beyond an end-of-2011 pullout deadline, the probable next US defence secretary has said. The US currently has about 47,000 troops in Iraq, none in a combat role. Under a 2008 deal, they are expected to leave by 31 December 2011. Once the sheriff leaves town, guess what happens. Sponsoring a child in the developing world is a popular form of charitable giving. But what do the children themselves make of the system? As a sponsor of a child in Nicaragua, I found this article interesting. A huge wildfire in the US state of Arizona that has forced thousands from their homes, continues to grow as the blaze rages for an 12th day. The fire is heading for transmission lines that supply electricity to hundreds of thousands of people as far east as Texas, and could reach the power supply as early as Friday. The so-called Wallow fire is now the second-largest in the state's history. I've seen the footage on TV news and it's scary stuff. US writer and producer Leonard Stern, who was behind hit shows including Get Smart and The Honeymooners, has died aged 87. The Emmy and Golden Globe award-winner died of heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital, his spokesman said. Stern found early success in the 1950s writing for sitcoms like The Phil Silvers Show. All great shows... I was a big fan of the Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has stood at the Queen's side for nearly 60 years. He is recognised the world over and has become the longest serving consort in British history. But he has told the BBC that he had to work out for himself what his role was "by trial and error". An interesting insight into the mind of the Duke

Well, Stan the Lawn Man was here and he's gonna come back next week to fix my garage door after its argument with Bluey's hatch. He's an old farmer who can turn his hand to all kinds of handyman jobs. He took a dim view of the accident hehe, which I knew he would. "Whenever I come here there's always some new drama happening. What's it gonna be next time?" And he didn't seem terribly impressed with my plans for Das Busse and the cost of repairs. By the same token, he didn't offer an alternative. Oh well, one of these days he might check out Aussie Odyssey and say to himself, "Well, I'll be buggered. The crazy dude finally made it." Hehe.

I found a few photos that I scanned for inclusion in the Scrapbook. Two are of me in the Seacam Video Production Studio in Petersham before we left for Taree 10 years ago, and one is of our next door neighbor Nancy, "the hat lady". Scroll down the page to see the pics

And now the sun is setting, and it's getting quite chilly! I better think about rustling up some grub. How about roast chicken (Sue calls it chickin because she's a Pom) and roast spuds? I bought a ready-roast chicken yesterday all ready to pop in the oven, stuffed and sprinkled with herbs. I'll make some gravy as well... a nice winter meal. Yeah? Gary

June 9, 2011. Pay day, bills day, wham bam thank you ma'am.

NC Art wrote: Your musings on the way months got named provoked memory and guesswork in my case. As with so much stuff which baffles humans, it easiest to invoke a god. But some humans are too arrogant to keep their hands off. Thus, August was decreed by Augustus Caesar to cement his place in history. Julius, not to be outdone crow barred July into the year. This was about the time Roman emperors declared themselves gods for good measure. But a lot of gods get the credit for much of the daily words still in use to mark time. Art's comment inspired me to Google this page.

And the origin of weekday names? Here's part of a BBC article:

The Babylonians named each day of the week after one of the five planetary bodies known to them, and after the Sun and the Moon; a custom later adopted by the Romans.

It was Emperor Constantine in 321AD who, adhering to the concept of linear time, established the 7 day week in the Roman Calendar and designated Sunday (Sabbath) as the first day of the week.

Subsequent days bore the names:

•Venus's-day, and,

The complete BBC article can be found here.

Remember as kids we would constantly ask the 'why' question. First, we'd ask our mother who would say 'ask your father'. In turn he'd say 'ask your mother'. Now we ask the internet. Can you imagine the number of reference books you'd need in your home library to equal what's available on the internet? And it's all so fast! Now there's talk of putting all known information on a chip and inserting it into the brain. I wonder if that's a good thing or a bad thing... over six billion walking talking know-it-alls. Next thing you know, they'll be talking about inserting the chips into pet brains. Fido will be just as smart as you are. Not to mention your teenage son. How infuriating.

But, dear Breth, I suspect they'll never be able to introduce things like experience and talent into a chip. I'm also wondering if knowing something is the same as comprehending it.

Our doc just left after a home visit to see Sue. Lindsay took the opportunity to ask David about his ears. Lindsay's ears are extra large and stick out, which is why he grows his hair long (to hide them). According to David, Lindsay can have his ears surgically pinned back for free. Come to think of it, I could have done it gratis myself on several occasions. So there ya go, after all these years of feeling embarrassed, Lindsay finally gets his ears fixed. He's 54, and I suspect his prominent ears provoked much bullying and intimidation during his formative school years.

David is not your typical doc. On his "rounds", he turns up dressed in a striped football jersey, and looks nothing like a doc. He wore long pants today because it's winter but in summer he turns up in shorts. Hehe. But he's a good bloke, and a good bloke will do me as a doc anyday.

Beeb time: The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor says there is evidence that Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi ordered the rape of hundreds of women as a weapon against rebel forces. Luis Moreno-Ocampo said rape was a new aspect of Colonel Gaddafi's repression. He said he was also looking at possible evidence that pro-Gaddafi security forces had been given medication such as Viagra to enhance their sex drive. I'd like to know why and/or how a guy like Gaddafi managed to stay in power for 40 years before the world seriously objected. The UK and France present a draft UN resolution condemning Syria's suppression of protests, but stopping short of authorising concrete action. A bit like complaining about the weather. The head of China's General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has confirmed that China's first aircraft carrier is under construction. Gen Chen Bingde refused to say when the carrier - a remodelled Soviet-era vessel, the Varyag - would be ready. A member of his staff said the carrier would pose no threat to other nations. For the moment. A drug that makes hearts repair themselves has been used in research on mice. The damage caused by a heart attack had previously been considered permanent. But a study in the journal Nature showed the drug, thymosin beta 4, if used in advance of a heart attack, was able to "prime" the heart for repair. The British Heart Foundation described repair as the "holy grail of heart research", but said any treatment in humans was years away. How come mice always get preferential treatment? They don't even pay for it! Mormon Mitt Romney is an early frontrunner among the Republicans vying to run for president - and one new opinion poll shows him in a surprise dead heat with Barack Obama. Another Mormon, Jon Huntsman, is expected to enter the race. Will their religion be an issue? In the 1960s, there was a similar debate about whether the US was ready for a Catholic president - and having elected John F Kennedy, it clearly was, says Steve Mitchell, of political polling company Mitchell Research. Read the full article here

I don't believe that religion and politics is a good mix, but I suppose it's difficult to avoid. In Oz, our PM is a confessed athiest, or as she puts it, "I'm not a religious person". As far as I'm concerned, that's not the only thing she's not.

Back from shopping where I parked nose to nose with a 4WD in the undercover car park, and noticed the driver running around with baby things and placing them on the bonnet (hood). Then his wife produced the baby which had apparently soiled its nappy (diaper). The driver placed the baby on a cushion and proceeded to undo the baby's pants and nappy. "I've seen everything now," I said as I alighted from Bluey. "A nappy change on the bonnet." "Well, it's nice and warm," he explained. Fair enough. I thought about asking if I could take a photo but decided against it. The baby's butt was naked by that time. Ew!

And now it's THAT time again. Pork mignons with garlic butter and potato for THEM, and Mongolian beef with veg and rice for ME. Gary

June 8, 2011. NC Art wrote: A tough old cowboy from South Texas counseled his grandson that if wanted to live a long life, the secret was to sprinkle a pinch of gunpowder on his oatmeal every morning. The grandson did this religiously to the age of 103 when he died. He left behind 14 children, 30 grandchildren, 45 great-grandchildren, 25 great-great grandchildren, and a 15-foot hole where the crematorium used to be.

Art also sent a vid of the Be-200 Russian amphibious, multi-purpose aircraft, which is a pretty amazing machine. I checked Youtube and found this version of the clip with narration in English. There are a couple of others in the side bar.

One of Justin's readers sent this link to a vid of a gay guy who wasn't gay enough. Funny stuff.

Beeb time: Britain and France are stepping up pressure for a UN Security Council vote condemning the Syrian government's suppression of months of unrest. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said it was "inconceivable that the UN remains silent" in the face of worsening violence. Britain plans to present a draft resolution later on Wednesday. I hope it does some good. It's time tyrants were eliminated from the global political scene - permanently. Germany's health minister says there is reason to be cautiously optimistic that an outbreak of a deadly new strain of E. coli has peaked. You expect this sort of thing to happen in third world countries, not the home of Mercedes and BMW. The Australian government suspends all live cattle exports to Indonesia in a growing row over alleged animal cruelty. Good. I've seen some of the footage and it's an absolute disgrace. US police say there were no bodies found at a house in east Texas, where an anonymous caller claiming to be a psychic said there was a mass grave. US media earlier reported there were up to 30 dismembered bodies including children buried there. A Sheriff's Department spokesman says they found no indication of bodies anywhere on the property. Authorities say they have a name and number and are trying to trace the caller. What rhymes with 'jokes'? Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has vowed to remain in the country "dead or alive" in an audio message on state TV. He called on his supporters to defy the continuing Nato air and missile strikes and gather at his compound in Tripoli. Col Gaddafi said he would welcome death because martyrdom would be a "million times better" than surrender. And Gaddafi's removal would be a million times better than the existing regime. Pop star Lady Gaga was presented with the fashion icon trophy at this year's Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) award ceremony. The singer, well known for her outrageous outfits, was given the prize for "being a fashion revolutionary", the CFDA said. I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am. Shrek the New Zealand sheep, whose ability to avoid the shearers made him a national celebrity, has died. Shrek came to prominence in 2004 after evading capture for six years by hiding in caves on the South Island. The cunning Merino lost his giant 27kg (60lb) fleece in a televised shearing. The 16-year-old sheep had a high-profile career. He met then Prime Minister Helen Clark, became the subject of several children's books and made regular charity appearances. Shrek's owner, John Perriam, of Bendigo Hill station, said the famous sheep had to be put down over the weekend because of age-related illnesses. "He was just an ordinary sheep, went awol and hid, and when he was found he became the darling of the nation," Mr Perriam told local broadcaster TVNZ. There ya go, Gaddafi vows to fight to the death, Lady HaHa wins a fashion award, Weiner gets into strife because of his weenie, and the Kiwis mourn a sheep.

Well, this winter weather is not my favorite time of year, I'm here to tellya. It sucks. I look at the national weather map on TV at night and see places at the top end getting temps around the high 20s and I think, "Why aren't I up there?" Mind you, I wouldn't wanna be up there in summer during the cyclone season with all that high humidity. So it's a matter of moving around with the seasons, which is easier said than done in Oz. There's about 3,000 kms east to west and about the same north to south.

I've been a bit naughty today with extra curricular activities, hence a fairly short Waffle. Oh well... Gary

June 7, 2011. How's this for a Lockheed Constellation? It's for very very small people.

Bit chilly this morning but fine. Once the temp starts getting down to single figures in the morning, you know it's winter. In Ohio, though, it's a different story according to Jace: The boys have been spending a lot of time riding ATV's and swimming in the pond, which is finally warming up to comfortable temps. Until recently there was not enough sun to warm the water or tan the skin. One good thing with all the spring rains the pond has been cleaned out. The debris that accumulated flowed over the spillway into the woods below.

ATVs and skinny dipping at the local swimming hole... not quite Huck Finn but pretty close. I suspect Sean and the boys will always enjoy happy memories of their youth. Kids who grow up in big cities don't know what they're missing. As a kid I was lucky to live in the outer burbs of Sydney, close enough to the bush and local creeks to be within a short bike ride. That's all changed now, of course. It's all houses, houses and more houses. AND TRAFFIC.

Taree is pretty cool in that way. If I walk in one direction I'm in town with all its modern shopping centers and facilities. If I walk in another I'm down by the river with people picnicking or fishing or just relaxing. And if I drive for 15 minutes I'm at the beach or in the bush. If it weren't for the Odyssey, I'd be quite happy to settle here. I'd prefer inner Sydney somewhere near the harbor, but that's waaaaaaay too expensive.

Beeb time: Married New York congressman Anthony Weiner admits sending a close-up picture of his underpants to a young woman, but says he will not resign.  Weiner's weenie. There ya go. We expect the contents of most of the products we use these days to be man-made, however many everyday products still use animal body parts as an ingredient with companies finding innovative ways of making sure every little bit of the animal does not go to waste, says Clare Mottershead. A most enlightening read. Australian researchers have developed a new way of recovering usable fingerprints from old evidence. The scientists, at the University of Technology in Sydney, believe it is a world first, that could help police reopen unsolved cases. They used nanotechnology to detect dry and weak fingerprints, which are not revealed by traditional techniques. The long arm of the law just got a bit longer

Well, so much for that. And now, here's the REAL BBC news with Ronnie Barker.

Given the high level of security at airports these days, could potential al-Qaeda operatives or terrorists be allowed on board an aircraft? The Chasers War on Everything investigates.

You're not gonna believe this but it's true... a vegetable market alongside railway tracks. As Justin comments, every inch counts.

Meanwhile, the Gay Pride thing is happening in the States. What's gonna happen if gay people get their way and become a normal and accepted part of society? No more parties? No more gay pride? No more street parades? Hmmm. That could be a problem. The thing about being normal and accepted is that there's no longer any reason to make a fuss. Oops!

Yes, I think Pride is the wrong word. Gay Celebration might be better. After all, it's party time and parties are not about pride. Parties are about having fun. Pride reminds me too much of Hitler and his jackbooted sycophants.

One quick peek out the window and I see that the sun is about to set on another Chewsday. I sat in Das Busse again earlier today for a little while as the sun shone and said to myself, "this will be home". And then I thought about the things that would make it home. So I did a mental tally of all the things I'd need and decided that it wouldn't be so bad. As long as I still have YOU out there in cyber space, I'll be fine. And a glass of white. Or three. And my cameras and laptop. And my jaffle iron. And my sleeping bag and Doona. AND... my porta potti. Gary

June 6, 2011. ZYX wrote: Fewer people on stage than there are in the audience? What about ONE actor on stage and NO audience at all? (From my soon to be forgotten Autobiography). As the Awesome Aussie often says, ....." HeHe!

Yes, that would be pretty embarrassing... one actor and no audience. I suppose if you were the actor you could always pretend it was a rehearsal. Speaking of audiences, according to Webalyzer, visits to Aussie Odyssey are almost 300 a day now. Dunno why that is cos I'm not doing anything differently. Maybe it just takes time for word to get around. It's kinda scary, actually, but I try not to be intimidated by the pressure to perform. I'll just keep doin' ma thang.

My mother used to tell me that if I didn't stop talking, my voice would wear out. Hehe. Now it's only the keyboard I wear out... and I've worn the letters off quite a few keys over the years, lemme tellya.

Here's a drawing for International Drawing Day 2011. It took the bloke half a day to draw this. I think it's absolutely astonishing.

Last night, I watched a doco about mountain gorillas in Africa - silverbacks and all that stuff. There's only a few hundred of them left, and they're protected. They spend 5 hours a day eating bamboo and other vegetation. Anyway, there was one scene where the dominant male was bonking a female. If it had been two humans (and the commentary was forever saying how similar these animals are to us) it would have been pornographic. I don't get it. You can show gorillas "doing it" on regular television but not us. I suspect it might have something to do with perceived "human dignity", and the way humans consider themselves to be above all that basic animalistic behavior. Maybe it's just as well. It's bad enough stepping in dog poo out in the street without having to dodge human poo as well... or indeed, witnessing it taking place.

Yes, we poo out of sight, and out of sight is out of mind. You never see anyone following the Pope or the Queen with a pooper-scooper.

Beeb time: Beansprouts grown in northern Germany are suspected to be the source of an E. coli outbreak that has left 22 people dead, local officials say. The agriculture minister for Lower Saxony, Gert Lindemann, said there was a clear trail of evidence pointing to a plant nursery south of Hamburg. The BBC's Stephen Evans in Berlin says the announcement may cause embarrassment to German authorities, who had earlier pointed to Spanish farms as the source of the outbreak. Yes, conclusion jumping can be very embarrassing. Israeli troops have fired on pro-Palestinian protesters in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, with Syrian state TV saying 20 are dead. The protesters defied razor-wire fences and ditches along the Syrian border in Golan to mark the 44th anniversary of the 1967 Middle-East war. Israel had vowed to prevent a repeat of a similar march last month, in which hundreds of people breached the fence. The US state department said it was "troubled" by the "loss of life". "We call for all sides to exercise restraint," it said. "Provocative actions like this should be avoided." What? And spoil all the fun? This is what Middle Easterners do for entertainment! Thousands celebrate in Yemen as President Saleh leaves for treatment in Saudi Arabia, amid uncertainty over whether he will return. Return to what? The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are to move into a home at Kensington Palace, St James's Palace says. And he didn't even have to get a mortgage. Artist Aelita Andre might only be four years old, but that has not stopped her opening her first art exhibition in New York. She is said to be the youngest ever professional artist with nine of her paintings on show at the Agora Gallery, in Manhattan, already selling, with pieces priced up to $9,900 (£6,000) each. Angela Di Bello, the director at the gallery, said Aelita had already developed a style of her own. Her parents, Nikka Kalashnikova and Michael Andre, who are also artists, both agree that their daughter's art has an innocence to it. A most extraordinary little girl. Check out the vid. Classic car enthusiasts are celebrating the 50th birthday of the Jaguar E-Type, an icon of 1960s motoring. As part of events to mark the anniversary, more than 50 examples of the vehicle are being driven through London on Monday. Although it was in production for just 14 years, the E-Type is regarded by many as being one of the world's most beautiful cars. E-Type expert Philip Porter looks at why, 50 years on from its debut, the car is still considered to be such a style icon and a design that was ahead of its time. Imagine that... 50 years and still looking fabulous. Check out the vid

Actually, I can't think of any Jaguar model that wasn't destined to become a classic icon. Admittedly, Jaguar did lose the plot a bit during the '90s but they're back into it now. The ultimate classic car? It's a matter of personal taste, but I rather fancy the mid-50s Rollers, the late '60s Citroen, and the last of the '60s Mercedes. There are others, of course, but too many to list.

Shopping's done, and I remembered to close Bluey's hatch before reversing into the garage. Clever me. No way I wanna go through all that shit again. Averil phoned earlier saying she was running outta toilet paper. Hehe. So she gave me a list of things to get, including a BIG pack of loo rolls. Remember Lou Rowles, the singer? Good thing he wasn't an Aussie. Anyway, I got Averil 12 rolls, double length, so that should keep her happy for a while.

Ohio Jace wrote: Also a while back you mentioned bush loos. Save the water bottles and use them as urinals. Once finished, secure the cap and toss the bottle into the nearest trash bin. We learned that with the boys on vacation. On one trip to DC, we stopped at a rest area in West Virginia that had country loos (outhouses). Neither boy was about to enter that stinky place to use one of those large holes that they would probably have fallen through standing to take a leak, let alone park their butts on. It was in a rural area, but the rest area was busy and it was still daylight. My youngest went behind the building and watered the grass, but the oldest would not so June offered him a Pepsi bottle. At the time we had a van so did not have to make pits stops as often as before. Typical for kids they could pee before leaving home and fifteen minutes into the trip have to pee again.

Peeing is like that. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go. And I'd be interested to know how many public loos there are in a city like Sydney or New York or London. There must be tens of thousands! Or more!

Jace also mentioned that a new member of the extended family arrived (Jace and June have virtually adopted the neighbors and vice versa. To tell you the truth, I have a problem keeping up with who's who). The latest member of the Ohio Gang is Ryan and he weighed in at just 6 pounds but is doing fine. So that'll keep Jace occupied for a while longer. He's the neighborhood baby sitter. Hehe.

So that's about it for Mondee. Have you been keeping up with Justin's Blog? There's some interesting stuff there about assisted suicide. Gary

June 5, 2011. NC Art wrote: Hah! If your dad had known how you would turn out he would have fled to Tasmania and changed his name. Hehe...

Actually, Tasmania is where my mother's rellos came from. But you see, WWII was still raging when I was born. Hitler was causing mayhem in Europe and the Japanese were giving Oz a hard time in PNG and Darwin, and even Sydney Harbor. So the last thing my parents wanted at that time was another child. Unfortunately for them, the condom was faulty, which meant I had an unfair advantage over all the other millions of sperm. Had it been a fair and unobstructed swim, I would have probably lost. Natural selection, in this case, meant that I was the one who found the little hole in the condom.

I'm not sure that I was a disappointment to my father as much as I am a disappointment to myself. I had many opportunities in my life that I squandered, or failed to recognize, and I'm not terribly thrilled with my contribution to the species so far. Hehe. But I suppose that could be said of the vast majority of people who have visited this planet at one time or another. There will always be far fewer people on stage than there are in the audience.

Anyway, the fat lady ain't sung yet, so you never know what might happen. Maybe I'll meet a kangaroo and get married.

Are you familiar with a couple of loony Aussies called the Umbilical Brothers? They do awesome mime and sound effects - just the two of them with nothing added.

Beeb time: One of Pakistan's most senior militants has been killed in a US drone strike, locals and officials say. He is believed to have been one of nine people killed in the attack. Ilyas Kashmiri headed a group that specialises in co-ordinated multiple strikes on targets, and was a key commander in al-Qaeda. The US blames him for organising attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India - and has offered its maximum reward for a most-wanted target, $5m (£3.04m). The BBC's Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says his death, coming just a month after that of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, is a major psychological blow to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and will also make it more difficult for wanted militant leaders to find safe places to go. Hopefully, there will come a day when there are no safe places for those assholes.

Otherwise, the news is pretty much more of the same old, same old, yadda yadda.

Did Das Busse start okay? Yes. Am I thinking what the hell have I gotten myself into here? Yes. Does she need a lot of work? Yes. Can I afford it? Not really. Is there an alternative? Yes. What's that? Not sure. So should I or shouldn't I? Yes and no.

It's gonna be really weird ya know, being somewhere and not having to return home. Home will be wherever I happen to be at any given time, and that could be absolutely anywhere in Oz. THAT is certainly gonna take a bit of getting used to. Or will it? I might be surprised.

I believe that home is where your things are. This house is home because that's where all my stuff is. My stuff is no longer in Petersham or Glebe or Gosford or Lismore or any of the other places I've lived. So if all my things (well, what I can manage to fit) are in Das Busse, go figure. That's the theory.

Back from putting $50 worth of juice in Bluey to top her up. Just as I was about to leave after paying, the girl changed the price on the board out front. Down by point 2 of a cent. Oh well, I suppose I can live with that. Anyway, for $50 I got 35.7 liters (9.4 gallons). Not cheap! But that'll do me for a couple of months. The bloke who served me at the pay counter asked, "Which one?" Mine was the only car there. Hehe. So I said, "Dammit, I've forgotten! I think it's the blue one." Then he related the story of a customer who said, "The white one." And there were 5 white cars at the pumps.

While I was out and about, I took a few more pics of the new courthouse construction just up the road. Apparently, they're upgrading the prisoner section to make it more secure or something, but the new addition looks bloody ugly. A concrete monolith. I've been taking pics over the past few months, and I'll put them all together when the construction is complete. But as I perused various pics, I decided to post something on Red Bubble cos I've been really slack in that department lately. It's a shot of an old Holden I took about a year ago.

And there goes another Sundee. Fish 'n' chips. Gary

June 4, 2011. Yep, another Satdee. I think my ISP is down... can't access web sites. I've tried the normal things when I lose connection but they don't work. When things go bung, it's often on a weekend or at a time when the techies are not on duty. Murphy's Law.

NC Art wrote: A few decades ago, some young crazies played a game of Chicken! with automobiles. Two drivers drove directly at one another to see which would swerve before a double suicide occurred. Downright crazy. Today our US elected representatives are playing Chicken! with our national debt limit. Republicans vote down measures to increase borrowing ability unless the "other" side agrees to cut medical programs and other forms of assistance to the poorest citizens. To hell with the consequences to US credit, including default on national debt. Who's crazier, teen agers with still developing brains or politicians with teen-aged brains?

Or voters who vote them in? Hehe. We have the same thing here... kindergarten time in Parliament each day with lots of finger-pointing and abuse. Pollies spend so much time taking themselves seriously they forget how foolish they look. And therein lies the difference between a politician and a Statesman. A Statesman always conducts him/herself with poise, dignity and humor... people like Winston Churchill and JFK. I think Obama will also be remembered as one of the greats. Clinton was good, but I'm not sure about great. One thing is for sure, the greats are few and far between.

Your story about the young crazies playing Chicken! reminds me of a time I was driving back up the coast from Sydney on the old 2-lane highway when a young bloke crossed the line and headed straight towards me. I was so shocked, I was unable to react, and froze. The only option to avoid a fatal collision was for him to move, which he did. He was laughing as he sped past. It took at least a couple more minutes for what had happened to sink in. On another occasion, I was approaching the crest of a hill on a 2-lane road when out of the blue I was faced with 2 oncoming cars, side by side, with one overtaking the other. Quick as a flash, I hit the dirt on the shoulder of the road and missed the oncoming car by a whisker. I struggled with a bit of fish-tailing for a few moments before finally getting my old Valiant back under control. Whew! My passenger was speechless.

Meanwhile, my ISP wasn't down. Not sure what it was... but I unplugged and replugged a bunch of wires, checked firewall settings and turned the modem off and back on and Presto! I'm back on line.

Beeb time: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has broadcast a brief audio message, hours after being injured in an attack on his compound in the capital Sanaa. Mr Saleh said he was well and urged the army to confront his tribal opponents, who he blamed for the attack. Seven people were killed. The prime minister and the speaker of parliament were among several injured. The attack came amid huge demonstrations and continuing fighting between government and armed tribes. Yes, tribes. Lots of dancing around a fire waving spears and making Neanderthal noises. They're all the same, Saleh included. Ex-Bosnian Serb army head Ratko Mladic has made his first appearance at The Hague war crimes tribunal, but said he would not enter a plea to the "monstrous" and "obnoxious" charges. He is charged with crimes in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre of about 7,500 people in Srebrenica. Gen Mladic told the court he had been "defending my people and my country". So was Hitler when he tried to exterminate Jews. A teenager in China has sold one of his kidneys in order to buy an iPad 2, Chinese media report. The 17-year-old, identified only as Little Zheng, told a local TV station he had arranged the sale of the kidney over the internet. Illegal agents organised a trip to the hospital and paid him $3,392 (£2,077) after the operation. With the cash the student bought an iPad 2, as well as a laptop. When his mother noticed the computers and the deep red scar on his body, which was caused by the surgery, Little Zheng confessed. What was NC Art saying about teen-aged brains? Identical twin Franciscan friars who rarely left each other's side from their births 92 years ago have died within hours of each other. An interesting story

Another interesting story was one I saw last night on the Collectors program, which featured a Tasmanian industry that's been around for a long time, building clinker boats. I just love clinker-built dinghys and sailboats, and always have. The workmanship is pure art, and I love the shape. Even the ribbing inside is attractive. Anyway, the Tassies are keeping the skills alive by running classes in the art of clinker boat building. I wasn't aware that Tassie has a tradition of building those boats, but apparently many international celebs including Frank Sinatra owned a Tasmanian clinker. I fell in love with clinker rowboats as a kid when I used to hire one for 5 shillings (50 cents) a day at Picnic Point on the George's River in Sydney.

Oregon Richie wrote to say he hoped I would find something interesting to do on the weekend. Well, I did... clean up the shattered glass from Bluey's little accident the other day. I wasn't looking forward to that job at all because the glass was embedded in grass and mud and a pile of leaves and whatever else. After sweeping what I could, and shoveling it into a bucket, I used the vacuum cleaner to suck up the remaining little bits, which also sucked up anything and everything else. The vacuum bag was as full as a goog when it was all over, and I was buggered. I sure hope I don't have to do too much bending and squatting and straining on the Odyssey. I'm way past all that shit. Anyway, the job's done... almost. There are still a few bits of glass lurking in the grass and mud and leaves but I CAN'T BE BOTHERED finding them.

Yesterday, I mentioned a town where I worked 40 years ago and how much it's changed, so I did a Google and checked out some pics of Sydney years ago, before the Opera House and all the modern high-rise. Trams, double-decker buses, old Holdens and pre-war cars, even some shots of Pitt Street with horse-drawn carts and pedestrians casually crossing the street. If you tried that now you'd be run over. It's vitally important to have a photographic record of things the way they are at any given time so that future generations can see the way it was. Once something changes, it changes forever. Photographers today (and there are millions of them) are contributing to tomorrow's history. Paintings and sketches are cool but they're not the same as photographs... photographs are of real situations and real people. Here's a pic of my dad walking down a Sydney street, probably taken before I was born or shortly thereafter. It was an inner city suburb because the houses are terraced. Dunno who took the pic but I'm glad he did.

Meanwhile, this particular Satdee is drawing to a close, at least as far as the sun is concerned. Gotta do the chef thing. By the way, my dad was a hopeless cook. My mom was in hospital one time and dad was left in charge of the kitchen to feed us kids. It was okay if you were into sausages and burnt onions. Gary

June 3, 2011. Lindsay made a big deal this morning of adjusting the local taxi company's magnet sticker on the kitchen fridge as I stood nearby. "I'll have to phone a taxi on Monday morning to take Sue and me to the doctor." How subtle. What he really meant is will I volunteer to take them in Bluey. Why couldn't he have bypassed all that bullshit and simply have asked me direct? Because Lindsay is Lindsay, that's why. Not the full quid.

Trevor Thompson, the guy who replaced me at 2UE back in '84, and who also worked at 2LM, Lismore, in the early '70s, sent me a pic of the on-air studio at 2LM. It's been 40 years since I last broadcast from that room. You'll find the update at the bottom of this Scrapbook page.

Trevor wrote "sometimes you wish you could go back and do it all again, don't you?" Well, I dunno about that. I like to remember the good times, and it was fun to be a radio announcer back then, but as to going back... well, maybe it's just as well we can't. Some things are better off staying in the Scrapbook.

Trevor returned to Lismore a few days ago for the funeral of a mate who also worked at 2LM. The guy died suddenly of a heart attack: You would not recognise Goonellabah (a suburb of Lismore where the radio station was situated) these days - I was lost and hardly recognised anything when I was up there earlier this week. Yep, our memories remain stationary but everything else changes. I will visit the area on the Odyssey, and it'll be interesting to make the comparison between then and now.

Beeb time: The E. coli outbreak in Germany is a new form of the bacterium, researchers and public health experts believe. It can cause the deadly complication - haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS) - affecting the blood and kidneys. More than 1,500 people have been infected and 18 have died: 17 in Germany and one in Sweden. Seven people in the UK have the infection, including three British nationals. They are all thought to have contracted it in Germany. The World Health Organization said the variant had "never been seen in an outbreak situation before." Just as you think you've got it all figured out, along comes something from left field. A hacker group has claimed it has attacked the Sony network and stolen more than one million passwords, email addresses and other information. Lulz Security said it broke into servers that run This is not an attack on Sony, Mr Hacker, this is an attack on your fellow human beings and neighbors. You are a CRIMINAL and God help you if you're caught. US kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard has said her life was stolen when she was abducted by Phillip and Nancy Garrido at the age of 11, and she hated every second of her 18 years in captivity. Now 31, she made her first public statement, read in court by her mother, as the Californian couple were sentenced for kidnapping and rape. Nancy Garrido, 55, received 36 years to life, and her husband 431 years. Incomprehensible. What else can you say? Syrian government troops have heavily bombarded Rastan, near Homs, in the centre of the country, killing at least 15 people, activists say. More than 50 people have been killed in Rastan since a military operation there started at the weekend, reports say. Lunacy. People still stuck in the middle ages. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has entered the race to be the Republican candidate for US president in 2012, saying President Barack Obama has "failed America". What he's really saying is that all Americans who voted for Obama instead of McCain and Palin are dickheads. Right, Mitt? An elderly man shot and killed five people in Yuma County in the US state of Arizona before taking his own life, officials said. Carey Hal Dyess, 73, killed lawyer Jerrold Shelley, who represented Dyess' ex-wife in their 2006 divorce. In addition, Dyess shot and wounded a friend of his ex-wife, a police official told the Yuma Sun newspaper. How come you never read stories about people with guns shooting other people in self defense? Isn't that what guns are for? 

Was I this cynical and critical in my 20s, 30s and 40s? I don't remember. Maybe I was too busy focusing on my own life to care all that much about what was going on in the rest of the world. These days, I'm retired and have more time to stare out the window at the passing parade, as it were, and to make observations and judgements. And I have to say that it all seems so crazy to me. People do crazy things. Maybe they were always crazy but I just didn't notice.

I mean like NC Art flew USAF bombers over Berlin during WWII and witnessed the devastation first hand. But I suspect what he felt then, if anything, is different to what he feels now at 85 in retrospect. I'd be interested to hear his comment on that.

In any case, the way we see things as they are taking place is often different to the way we see those same things from a distance. Same things, different perspective. Which makes you wonder which perspective is the correct one, or whether indeed there is a correct one.

I think I'm gonna have to become a poet. When I wake one morning on the Odyssey, make a cuppa, and witness the most incredible sunrise, it won't do to just take a photograph. I'll have to describe it in such a way as to immerse the reader/viewer in the magic of the moment. I wonder if that's possible.

Meanwhile, I was inspired to write a little ditty for Red Bubble.

AND THEN, Lindsay give me a bit of lip so I summoned my dulcet radio announcer tones and told him he could fix his own dinner tonight, and Sue's. I was on strike! A minute later I told him everything could be returned to normal if he apologized, which he did without hesitation. So there ya go. Gary

June 2, 2011. Do you have "lucky" numbers? Birthdates, street numbers, etc? Well, I won $12.90 in Lotto last night. Whoopee doo.

5 11 14 29 32 44 (Supplementaries: 6 8) They are the winning numbers. Below are my numbers.
8 11 15 29 33 44

As you can see, the 8 is one of the supplementaries. So my 15 was one off 14, and my 33 was one off 32. A little closer and I would have had 5 winning numbers and 1 supp instead of 3 winning numbers and 1 supp. But I suppose a miss is as good as a mile. The prize for 2nd was $4,154.25, which would have been VERY nice... not to mention a tad more than $12.90.

Meanwhile, Matt from Smash Zone took Bluey to the workshop for repairs. The rear wiper motor was stuffed so he found a used one for $180, which makes the total bill about $500. Bloody hell. By the way, I've never used the rear wiper in the 2 and a half years I've had Bluey, and probably never will! And all this bullshit because I forgot to close the hatch. The garage door ain't looking too chirpy either. Why me?

Beeb time: UN investigators have accused government forces in Libya of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Rights experts said they had found evidence of crimes including murder and torture, in a pattern suggesting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was behind them. The UN mission also said opposition forces were guilty of abuses that would constitute war crimes, although they were not as numerous. Yes, I do wonder whether the rebels are tarred with the same brush. Hackers in China have compromised personal e-mail accounts of hundreds of top US officials, military personnel and journalists, Google has said. The US company said a campaign to obtain passwords originated in Jinan and was aimed at monitoring e-mail. Google said its security was not breached but indicated individuals' passwords were obtained through fraud. "We have notified victims and secured their accounts. In addition, we have notified relevant government authorities." For every good guy, there's a bad guy. Chemicals which interfere with a mosquito's ability to sniff out humans have been developed by researchers in the US. God might not be too pleased about that. He went to a lot of trouble to make mozzies. The Syrian authorities have announced a full inquiry into the death of a 13-year-old boy who has become a symbol for the continuing uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Opposition activists say the boy, Hamza al-Khatib, was abducted and tortured to death by local security forces. The authorities insist he was shot dead during a demonstration. Charming isn't it. How unfortunate we Westerners are not to live in the Middle East. A New York City mobster convicted of murder for ordering the killing of an associate has avoided a death sentence. A jury deliberated for less than two hours at Brooklyn's federal court before handing another life sentence to Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano. Prosecutors said Basciano deserved to die for the 2004 killing of Randolph Pizzolo, and that life behind bars would not stop his illegal activities. Basciano's lawyer said he should die in prison "in God's time, not man's". To my mind, you can't pay for your crimes if you're dead. A Russian man has died after persuading a friend to bury him alive for a night, hoping it would bring him "good luck". The victim dug a hole in a garden in the eastern city of Blagoveshchensk and climbed into an improvised coffin, with holes for air pipes, taking a mobile phone and a bottle of water with him. His friend covered the coffin with earth and then left, after the buried man phoned to say he was fine. The next morning, he returned to find his friend dead, investigators said. Seems like overnight rain blocked the air holes. How bizarre. The BBC Afghan service has acquired recently-shot video evidence of a man being publicly whipped by a judge as a punishment for drinking alcohol. The lashing was carried out inside a courtroom in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan. I wonder how the judge would feel about Obama drinking Guinness at an Irish pub. 

Well, Matt and his mate delivered Bluey to my house and she's looking good. All back to normal. But they pointed to a couple of spots on the work done a couple of years ago by Chris, the former owner of the biz, and there's rust beginning to show through. Oops! Methinks me better get DB rocking and rolling so I can sell Bluey as soon as poss. Matt is a big, lumbering guy with boots large enough for a little old lady to live in. He's a sort of gentle giant with a ready smile, particularly when I produce my wallet. He specializes in the restoration of older cars... vintage models and classics... stripping them down and virtually starting from scratch. That's pretty much what he plans to do with DB... but no frills. DB doesn't need to be the belle of the camping lot ball. If she does the job, and doesn't give me any grief, that'll do.

Well, the day has flown, and it's time for me to do likewise. Gary

June 1, 2011. I'm not normally into ventriloquist acts, but this is a ripper.

Another bleak day, I'm afraid. Windy and wet... not what you would call inspiring or conducive to feelings of joyous celebration. It's days like this I wish I had a big open fireplace. Maybe one of these days on the Odyssey, I'll put a camera on a tripod and do a vid of a campfire, with me cooking and talking about the day's events. Another thing I enjoy about log fires/camp fires is splitting logs. I used to do that as a kid, and again a few times as an adult in various places.

I lived for a while in a boarding house in Lismore when I worked at the radio station there. The lady who ran the place had a big wood-fired, cast iron fuel stove in the large kitchen, from which all boarders were banned, except me! Her maternal instincts took over and she got all motherly and adopted me. She used to cook wonderful home-style meals on that big old thing, which must have weighed a ton. I've also had a few friends over the years with those old fuel stoves in their kitchens. It was definitely the place to be in winter, playing cards or just sitting around the kitchen table talking.

Just phoned Smash Zone. Finding glass for a 1989 Nissan Nomad hatch ain't easy, but they're trying. I'm expecting a call back today. What a pain.

Beeb time: Ex-Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic is extradited by Serbia and flown to the Netherlands to face genocide charges at The Hague tribunal. Sooner or later, as my mother said, the chickens come home to roost. US military prosecutors have filed new charges against self-described 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators held at Guantanamo Bay, reports say. Each of the five suspects will be handed at least eight charges, which include murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, hijacking aircraft and terrorism. And all for the glory of Allah. Australia has reported its biggest quarterly fall in gross domestic product (GDP) in 20 years. Its economy contracted by 1.2% in the first three months of the year, compared with the previous quarter, the latest government figures showed. The government said flooding and cyclones in resource rich states of Queensland and Western Australia had a significant impact on growth. Australia is heavily reliant on its resources sector for growth. Cest la vie. Indonesian officials have rebuffed claims of widespread animal cruelty in their abattoirs, after Australia halted cattle exports to some facilities. An Australian TV documentary showed cattle being flogged, kicked, slashed with knives and banging their heads against concrete floors. I saw some of that footage and I have to say if I had a gun I would have shot the creeps. Cruely to animals is something I cannot stand. A rare Charlie Chaplin film, bought for £3.20 on eBay, is expected to fetch a six-figure sum when it goes up for auction in June. The film, Charlie Chaplin in Zepped, is the only known surviving copy and is thought to feature some of the earliest-known animation. Collector Morace Park bought the film reel in 2009 because he liked the look of the tin. The movie shows Chaplin bringing down a German Zeppelin aircraft. He liked the look of the tin. Sheesh. How to make a quid when you're not even trying.

Matt from Smash Zone just called. They found glass for a Nissan Nomad hatch. Matt will arrive at 8am tomorrow to collect the car and fit the glass. $350, which is about what I expected. Easy come, easy go. Bloody hell, that's what I paid for the damn car in the first place! And yes, I will be more careful next time. Gary


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