the WAFFLE page

September 30, 2011. September went that a-way. Justin posted a thing about Irish dancing on his blog, so I had a look around Youchewb and found this clip of Sean Downes, Irish Dancing Champion. This kid is amazing.

And this is how the pros do Irish Step Dancing. Riverdance will blow you away.

NC Art commented on my mention of religion yesterday: Here's justification for any particular religion: Ask the chap for the rationale for his religious credo and he will look at you in astonishment and say, "Because it's true you idiot!" Case closed. Conversely, ask a scientist why he spends a lifetime searching for God and he'll be offended even as he struggles to find out how and why all this stuff got made in the first place.

As with prejudice, religion shields, empowers, justifies itself. Wrapped in the armor of a majority, it's plainly right to condemn homosexuality because the majority are straight. Happens with a multitude of cultural warpage. Slavery was justified because people of the Bible practiced it, you know. Witch doctors had great power because they were insane and feared. Yet, laws made for health reasons soon became weapons for tribe control. Jews discovered that unsanitary conditions sometimes caused sores under the foreskin, so off with the offending tissue. Undercooked pork made people sick, not because it is "unclean" but because it hosted a trichinosis worm that played hell with digestion but was destroyed by thorough cooking. And removal of shoes before entering a house reduced infections from fecal borne bacteria. We are talking shit from dogs, cats, goats, donkeys and godonlyknows what other critters roaming the streets and dooryards. What a stink! Well, enufff of this crap!

Godonlyknows? It took Brian Wilson 7 minutes to write that song.

A religious bloke the other day asked me to describe an atom (because I'd mentioned it) and I said, "Well, it's a round thing with a whole bunch of stuff inside whizzing around." Hehe. Then he asked me how it came into being. And I said, "Religious people figure if something exists then somebody must have made it." He shuddup after that. It's the same old story. Floods and famines and other natural disasters are sent by God to punish us for our sins. Sheesh.

BTW, I've been meaning to mention my finger thingy. When I had the old desktop and mouse, I used the mouse with my left hand. I was hopeless with the right. But now that I use a laptop with a finger thingy, I use my right hand. I could use my left, but I find the right more natural. How's that for spooky?

You gotta watch this. It's Ronnie Corbett telling his Jungle Joke. He takes forever to get around to the point of the story (which is par for the course with his monologues) but it's well worth the wait. Oregon Richie will enjoy this one (but I won't say why).

Beeb time: The US secretary of state has condemned an attack on US ambassador Robert Ford after he was pelted with eggs by Syrian president supporters in Damascus. Hillary Clinton said it was "wholly unjustified" and urged Syria to protect diplomatic staff.  Eggs and tomatoes were hurled at Mr Ford as he met an opposition figure. Veteran politician Hassan Abdul Azim said about 100 protesters tried to get into his office as Mr Ford arrived and then surrounded it, trapping them both. US officials said the mob was violent and seriously damaged embassy vehicles, but that Mr Ford was unharmed. Yes, "the mob" with mindless mob mentality. Germany's parliament has voted by a large majority in favour of supporting a more powerful fund to bail-out troubled Eurozone economies. Chancellor Angela Merkel received strong support despite criticism of the plan from some of her ruling coalition. Many Germans are against committing more money to prop up struggling eurozone members such as Greece. I'm not sure I understand all this stuff but I suppose any chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Forces loyal to Libya's transitional authorities have taken the airport in the city of Sirte, the birthplace of fugitive leader Muammar Gaddafi. Fighters moved through the partially destroyed terminal buildings tearing down symbols of the Gaddafi regime. The whereabouts of the ousted leader remain unknown but several members of his family have fled Libya. Why would anyone wanna be loyal to a loser and a psychopath? Reminds me of what NC Art wrote: Witchdoctors had great power because they were insane and feared. Pakistan will not bow to US pressure to step up its fight against militancy, its prime minister has said. Yousuf Raza Gilani told a rare meeting of political and religious parties that relations between the two countries should be based on mutual respect. Relations have hit new lows since the top US military officer said Pakistan backed the Haqqani militant group in Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan rejects. Yes, "should be" based on mutual respect. Oz and the US have mutual respect, which is why the US doesn't give us any money. Hehe. 

It's windy at the mo. Wind annoys me. It moves stuff around. I prefer things to stay still. Even going to the letter box means coming back into the house looking like I've just crawled out from under a herd of stampeding buffalo. You can't hang your washing on the clothes line. You can't sit on the veranda and read a newspaper. You can't erect a tent without ending up 20 yards from where you started. And if you smoke, you've got Buckley's of getting the Bic to work. Anyway, I figured it was better to go up the road for a few things today cos rain is predicted for the next 3 days. And I hate rain even more.

This morning a neighbor turned up at the front door to show me the latest Rivers brochure. Remember the rocker joggers I bought the other day for $50? They're on spesh for the next four days at $25. Why do people do that? A few months ago my ex-neighbor emailed me to say my old house in Glebe sold for $700,000, and that others around the hood were fetching a million. Sheesh. So I told him I bought a house for $3,500 (Das Busse) and that it would cost $10,000 to do it up. And that it's got a very big veranda. He hasn't written since. He's pissed off that I'm not. (Well, I am but I'm not gonna tell him that).

Meanwhile, Lindsay's new TV arrives later today. He's been telling me non-stop for the past few days how big it is. Do I care? If he wants to sit in the front row and get a sore neck from watching cinemascope that's his problem. I DON'T CARE. I still watch my little $90 Samsung I bought 10 years ago second hand. And if I wanna watch particular programs I missed I can watch them any time I choose on the internet.

I don't understand why some people insist that you can't possibly be enjoying life if you're not doing whatever it is they do.

Well, the TV's installed. Lindsay said, "Whaddaya reckon?" And I said dryly, "It's big." The umpteenth run of Bonanza is on and Hoss looks bigger than he did before. So there ya go. A bigger Hoss. Congratulations. I'll ask him if he wants to borrow my bicycle pump to blow up Sue so he can have a bigger wife.

Well, here we go again... kitchen time. Scotch filet steaks and onions for THEM and I've still got half that Kiev and corn cob left over so I'll tuck into that. Gary

September 29, 2011. Here's a clip of suicide victim Jamey Rodemeyer's parents being interviewed on the Today show. As NC Art writes: The suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer is still getting media play. The school policies are being investigated and there has been talk of charging a group of students with an organized agenda to hound the boy without mercy. Jamey's sister appeared on CNN for an interview with Anderson Cooper. Dunno what will come of it. Probably not much--as usual.

It's raining again, as the Supertramp song goes. And the forecast for the long weekend is showers, showers and more showers. Looks like the Old Bar Festival will be a washout, along with the Kombi Fest. What a shame. Maybe God doesn't like Kombis.

NC Art tells me that what we call corn cobs are called corn on the cob in the US. Makes sense. Corn on the cob. Boom boom. He reckons if you leave the shucks on and grill the cobs over hot coals they're a terrific treat. Sue and I had ours last night. Yum! My Kiev was very nice as well, but I couldn't get through the whole thing, so I'll have what's left for lunge!

By the way, when I took that photo of the white wisteria the other day, I didn't think it was very good. But one of the Red Bubble groups featured it, so there ya go. Never underestimate your own efforts. And it's a good thing I took the pic when I did cos the blooms have gone all brown and horrible. They only last a few days.

Here are the Two Ronnies having a shot at us Aussies. Hehe. Not bad except they said alligator instead of crocodile.

Then again, Aussies are pretty good at sending up other people, such as Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Or Abba's Momma Mia. Or even Betty Windsor!

Beeb time: Bank shares have fallen in London after the UK said it would "resist" a financial transaction tax on EU members proposed by the European Commission. The tax would raise about 57bn euros ($78bn; £50bn) a year and would come into effect at the start of 2014. London would be hardest hit by the tax as the majority of banking transactions in Europe come through the city. City of London officials have said that about 80% of the revenues of any Europe-wide financial tax would come from London. Stuart Fraser of the City of London said the question that had to be asked was whether the proposal was "a tax on London". I can understand the Brits' concern. Online book and music retailer Amazon unveils a $199 (£130) colour tablet computer called the Kindle Fire to rival the Apple iPad. Hmmm. I guess in my case, you don't miss what you ain't got. A 26-year-old US citizen has been arrested for plotting to fly explosive-packed, remote controlled planes into the Pentagon and the US Capitol in Washington DC. Rezwan Ferdaus was also charged with attempting to supply materials to al-Qaeda and aid attacks on US soldiers. The Northeastern University physics graduate is accused of planning to commit "jihad" since early 2010. Mr Ferdaus was arrested in Boston after an undercover investigation by the FBI. Jesus. I'm glad the FBI is awake up to these dangerous lunatics. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has overturned a court ruling sentencing a woman to 10 lashes for breaking a ban on female drivers, reports say. "Thank God, the lashing of Shema is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved king," tweeted Princess Amira al-Taweel, wife of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. "I am sure all Saudi women will be so happy." Unlike the judges. Sheesh. Al-Qaeda has accused Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of spreading "conspiracy theories" about the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Inspire, an al-Qaeda-linked online magazine, described Mr Ahmadinejad's controversial speech to the United Nations last week as "ridiculous". The Iranian leader said he believed the World Trade Center towers could not have been brought down by aircraft. The article said such a belief "stands in the face of all logic and evidence". Kettles and pots calling each other black. They're all nuts. 

How could any person in his right mind justify something like 9/11, or any other suicide mission perpetrated by al-Qaeda and like-minded fanatics? Religion, that's how. Religion doesn't require logic or rational thinking. All it requires is "faith". As a mate of mine says, religion is just another form of superstition. Superstition allows its adherents to believe in the absurd and to justify it. It doesn't need to make sense. It doesn't need to be logical. Does that mean the world would be better off without religion? Religion is the product of human beings. To rid the world of religion would require ridding the world of the entire human race. Looks like we're stuck with it.

The thing is, dear Breth, after God created everything except mankind in the world he realized that none of the living creatures was aware of his existence. So he solved that little oversight by creating Adam and Eve. They went forth and multiplied and here we are. I should give Benny a ring and let him know about that. He probably hasn't figured it out yet.

Oops! I just saw a flash of lightning and the wind is blowing like crazy. I better shuddup.

Well, my little sponsored World Vision boy Anyel from Nicaragua will turn 3 in January. Wow! A whole three! So World Vision sent me a letter today containing a birthday card personally addressed to Anyel, and reminded me to write a personal note wishing him a special day. It takes a couple of months for mail to reach sponsored kids, so I need to attend to that pretty soon. Isn't that sweet? By the time he's my age, I'll be 131.

So what's another of my fav songs? How about this one?

It's almost 6pm, dear Breth, so I better attend to feeding the troops. Crumbed prawn cutlets and.... CHIPS! Gary

September 28, 2011. TX Greg to the rescue yet again! 

"Feel like some bacon and egg zonks?" I followed Mark inside to the kitchen where he fried some bacon and eggs, then put them on two slices of buttered bread, with tomato, lettuce and onion. Meantime, he'd mixed a sauce of mayo, herbs, pickles, and other ingredients, which he poured over the top of the zonks, then topped them with a second slice of bread. We were back at the courtyard table, sitting on the same side, when I took my first bite. "Mmmm! These are fucking good!"

Yes, Cody had one word to describe everything. Hehe. There ya go... bacon and egg zonks.

Meanwhile, Steve W commented on my mention of Arnott's biscuits: Liked that comment "there's nothing like a Ginger Nut"..............didn't you used to be.......oh it dozen madder!! Yes, I was a ginger nut. I used to be called 'Red', 'Ned', 'Carot Top', 'Ginge' and 'Bluey'. How the hell they got 'Bluey' outta red hair I'll never know, but it was common to hear redheads being called 'Bluey'.

Justin is carrying on about the difference between who as opposed to what we are, which reminded me of Abbott and Costello's classic Who's On First? Always good for a laugh, and worth watching again.

Beeb time: European countries proposing a new UN resolution over Syria have dropped demands for immediate sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's government. The draft, proposed by the UK, France, Germany and Portugal and backed by the US, threatens sanctions only if the repression of protests does not end. The scaled-back version is aimed at winning the support of China and Russia, which oppose sanctions. Life is a compromise according to a T-shirt a friend of mine used to wear. Western officials express growing fears for tens of thousands of civilians caught in fierce fighting in Libya's remaining pro-Gaddafi strongholds. That's understandable after the discovery of mass graves. Michael Jackson's personal physician, Conrad Murray, goes on trial in Los Angeles for involuntary manslaughter of the singer, a charge he denies. I hope for his sake he's innocent. It would be very sad if he's not. Iraq makes the first payment in a deal to buy 18 US F-16 fighter jets which officials say is aimed at securing air sovereignty after US troops leave. And the US will get some of its money back. At least 13 deaths and 72 illnesses have been linked to a listeria outbreak from Colorado cantaloupes, health officials say, in the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade. Three other deaths may also be related to the tainted fruit, which are linked to a farm in Holly and have been recalled. Bacteria were also found on equipment and produce at the farm's packing site. Cantaloupes? I had to look it up. We call them rock melons. Yum! Western powers have expressed dismay at Israeli plans to build 1,100 more homes on the edge of Jerusalem. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the move "counter-productive" to peace talks while the EU said the plan should be "reversed". I can't figure it out either. A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers. The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July. Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal. In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law. I see it but I don't believe it. How absurd. Talk about dark age mentality. Australia has lifted all restrictions on the roles that women can carry out in its armed forces. Suitably-qualified female soldiers will be able to serve in the special forces and front-line combat units. Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the ban would be lifted immediately but may take up to five years to implement. Critics described the move as premature and a gimmick. Canada, New Zealand and Israel already allow women in all military roles. Jeez, we already have one as a Prime Minister! 

Speaking of all-time great pop songs (which I was yesterday), here's another one that I used to play on air 40 years ago. And it still rocks today.

No, no, no, I'm not stuck in a time warp. If something's good, it's good. My older bro, on the other hand, drives everyone mad with Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller. Not that I have anything against big band music, I like it very much, but NOT ALL BLOODY DAY.

Averil just rang to tell me fresh corn cobs are on spesh at Woolies, 2 for $1. Hehe. So what am I gonna do... eat corn cobs all week? Actually, I could. But I don't think fresh cobs keep all that well. Anyway, dozen madder. Even at normal prices they're cheap. And that's what Sue and I are having tonight with the chicken I bought the other day... marinated thighs for THEM and Kiev for me. Lindsay doesn't eat corn... no bloody teeth. So I'll do him a hash brown.

Speaking of the dollar, it's back up to almost parity again... 99 point something or other. The bloody thing is riding a pogo stick with all this Euro business. It was 1.06 about a week ago. The upside of a high Aussie dollar is that petrol is cheaper. When it falls, the price of petrol rises. It's all a pain in the butt. There's probably a zillion barrels of the stuff hiding under one of our deserts that no one has discovered yet. And by the time they do, we'll all be running around on hydrogen. They didn't have this problem with camels ya know. Grass didn't need to be imported. Camel filling stations were called an Oasis. And you never had to book them in for a service and a tune up or change the tires. Gary

September 27, 2011. Did I win another small prize on Lotto last night? Yes, I did. $11.20. How's that for thrilling? Meanwhile, NC Art wants to know how that kid in the photo yesterday managed to fight his way outta my bedroom. What a terrible thing to say! Truth is, I forgot to lock the door. I won't tell you what TX Greg wrote. Something to do with 7 but I won't say what. Suffice to say he tried to lighten up the pic to get a better peek hehe. I knew he would.

Oregon Richie reminded me that I, in fact, DO know someone who has visited Poland. Him. Okay, I forgot. I was there in September of 2001 during the Yamaha dealer-incentive award trip aboard the MS Noordham and the Danish island of Bjornholm was our first stop, and then we docked in Gdansk, a charming old European town. Richie returned home 36 hours before the 9/11 fiasco happened. I was in Petersham Sydney at the time, less than 2 months away from departing for Taree. Cody had about 6 or 7 weeks to live. He was killed 4 days after we arrived here. Not a good year, that one. The following one wasn't too flash either... Steve had a major drug problem and I had a heart attack.

Time for a giggle. If you think Mr Magoo had a problem, check out the Two Ronnies at the Optometrist.

But back to coins and the vernacular... Art says: Not all the Oz idiom for coins is familiar to me, but the two bob was current in England while I was there in WWII. Also the florin, tuppny, and thruppny bit for the three penny coin. Amazing how many coins of slightly different values were in use--unnecessarily!

Yep, the cent and two cent coins have disappeared from Australian currency. The lowest denomination is now the 5 cent coin, which is practically worthless. You wouldn't even bother to pick one up on the street. The one and two dollar notes have disappeared, replaced by coins. The lowest note is now $5. Most people at the supermarket use plastic to pay for their groceries. I still use cash cos L&S pay their share of the fortnightly expenses (including rent) with cash, which I use for the next fortnight's purchases. One and two dollar coins go into my money box. L&S don't have plastic. They still have passbook bank accounts, and use withdrawal forms. So does Averil for that matter... and cheques/checks.

The Oz dollar is now below parity with the US dollar. I think it's about 96 cents or thereabouts. Exporters would like it to be a lot less. The last thing Oz needs is for its exports to be too expensive on the world market. Our wine exports are currently in the doldrums because of the high dollar. By the way, Carlton United Brewery - famous for its iconic Oz brands such as Fosters and Victoria Bitter - has been sold to SABMiller. Goodbye Vegemite, Arnotts and now Fosters. Not that it'll change my habits... I still like Vegemite and I still drink VB. Not much into biscuits, although I am quite partial to Scotch Fingers. And there's nothing like a Ginger Nut biscuit for dunking into a cuppa.

Beeb time: Libyan fighters breach Colonel Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte from the east, as they push to conquer one of the last remaining loyalist strongholds. As the French say, it's a fait accompli. Or... it's all over bar the shouting. The West is trying to create "total chaos" to break up Syria, the country's foreign minister has said. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Walid Moualem blamed months-long anti-government demonstrations on "foreign intervention". He said the reforms announced by President Bashar al-Assad had to take "a back seat" as a result. Mr Bashar's government is accused of a violent crackdown that the UN says has killed more than 2,700 people. The president denies the allegations, saying he is tackling armed gangs of terrorists. Yes, well it all depends on one's point of view, doesn't it. And I know which one I'm backing. A shipwreck containing 200 tonnes of silver worth about £150m has been found in the Atlantic - the largest haul of precious metal ever discovered at sea. The SS Gairsoppa, a UK cargo ship sunk by a German U-boat in 1941, was found by US exploration firm Odyssey Marine. The firm will retain 80% of the cargo's value under the terms of a contract with the Department for Transport. I wonder what the deal would have been if the wreck had been found by a German ship. The state of Texas has ended the practice of offering death row inmates their choice of last meal before their deaths. What does a killer's choice of food say about his state of mind? Definitely worth a read

Have you seen white wisteria before? There's a bunch of it growing in my backyard. Click on the pic to get a larger view.

Okay, so what'll I have for lunge? I might go beserk and fry an egg. Once the egg is done, I put it aside on a paper towel, and then fry a slice of bread on one side in butter. Then I put the fried egg on top with a slice of cheese and a little pepper, and place another slice of bread on top. When the first slice is toasted, I flip the sandwich over and fry the other side in more butter. Boom boom. French fried toast with egg and cheese in the middle. Even Francois would enjoy that. That's what I call a wicked sandwich.

Remember one time when Cody was at Mark's house and they got a bit peckish? Mark had the munchies cos he'd been smoking funny ciggies and asked Cody if he would like a ... can't remember what he called it... but it was a fried sandwich with bacon, egg, cheese and tomato and a bit of mayo (I think) and Cody thought it was heaven. Hehe. Cody's limit was toasted peanut butter "sarmies" so no wonder he was impressed. What a funny pair they were... the quintessential odd couple... with Wingnut thrown in for good measure.

Well, it's all happening this weekend, folks. The Old Bar Festival. There's a vintage car show 'n' shine on Saturday, the Kombi Australian record attempt on Sunday, an 80th anniversary fly-in at the heritage listed airstrip, buskers, skateboard and surfing competitions, gourmet food and wine, and a whole bunch of other attractions. So I'll drag this tired old butt out there on both days to capture some of the action. The forecast is okay - possible showers.

In my book, one of the very best pop songs ever written was written and sung by Roger Hodgson. Who is Roger Hodgson? I gather he and another member of Supertramp had a falling out. Here's a clip of The Logical Song sung by Roger, followed by Supertramp's version without Roger. By the way, Roger wrote that song while still a teenager and before he joined Supertramp.

And that's it for today, ladies and genitals. God, if my mother knew I used that expression on my blog she'd call the cops. Anyway, it's lamb chops for THEM tonight while I pig out on bolognaise pizza with extra olives. Gary

September 26, 2011. Speaking of corporal punishment in schools and the meaning of life, here's Aussie comedian Carl Barron.

Meanwhile, NC Art had a few things to say about Imperial weights and measures, currency, as well as the Brits themselves: Pounds, crowns, half-crowns, florins, pence, pennies and 'apnies [Cockney for a half penny]. Getting all that digested took a couple of months, and the stone thing baffled me. Never could find out just what rock became a measure of weight. One chap decided I was an insolent twit for asking such stupid questions. One does NOT EVER get flip with a Brit. Some cannot even yet understand why a bunch of savage, unsophisticated colonials would ever wish to leave the benevolent protection of His Majesty George III.

In Oz, we had the quid (one pound), a spin or fiver (five pounds), a tenner or brick (ten pounds), ten bob or half fiddly (ten shillings), a deaner or bob (one shilling), two bob (florin), a zac (sixpence), a trey (threepence), a penny and ha'pnie. And if you weren't worth a brass razoo, you were penniless. It's a good thing Art wasn't posted here as well as London or he would have returned home to the US totally confused. Actually, every ANZAC day, all the diggers play Two Up at pubs around Oz with original pennies. Two Up is illegal but the cops turn a blind eye on ANZAC day. 

Wikipedia says  "The exact origins of Two-up are obscure, but it seems to have evolved from pitch and toss, a gambling game involving tossing a single coin into the air and wagering on the result. Two-up was popular amongst poorer English and Irish citizens in the 18th century. The predilection of the convicts for this game was noted as early as 1798 by New South Wales’s first Judge Advocate, as well as the lack of skill involved and the large losses. By the 1850s, the two-coin form was being played on the goldfields of the eastern colonies and it was spread across the country following subsequent goldrushes. Two-up was played extensively by Australia’s soldiers during World War I. Games, to which a blind eye was cast, became a regular part of ANZAC Day celebrations for returned soldiers."

The Sydney Morning Herald tells us:

  • Two-up is legal only on Anzac Day except in Broken Hill, Kalgoorlie and casinos.
  • It can be played with either two or three coins.
  • In Broken Hill the game can only be played legally at the Musicians’ Club and in Kalgoorlie at a designated two-up school.
  • The kip is the piece of wood the coins are thrown on.
  • The person in charge of the game is called the boxer or ringer.
  • A nob is a double-headed coin.
  • ‘Come in spinner’ is the call for the coins to be tossed.
  • The person who looks out for the police in an illegal game is called a cockatoo.
  • In the casino version of the game, punters cannot place wagers with other players but in the Diggers’ version they can bet with as many people as they like.
  • The object of the game is to spin a pair of heads.
  • The spinner must throw heads three times in a row before he/she collects the winnings.
Art continues: And there were some who complained that the trouble with Yanks was that they are overpaid, oversexed and over here. The Yanks' answer that Brits were underpaid, undersexed and under Eisenhower. War time jollity in a grim and dangerous time and place. Radio news regularly spent much air time reporting stellar gains by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, and brief mention of American field units. My radio man was wont to to mock such with fake announcements such as: This just in. Gen. George Patton's Third Armored Division rolled up 100 miles of German occupied territory today and captured five major French towns. Monty has captured two chicken coops and a shit house he thought Nazis had occupied. The chicken got away.

Hehe. Well, the Ten Pound Poms got a bit of shock when they arrived here after spending ten quid on a ticket to Oz by ship (assisted passage) to settle in the land of sunshine and opportunity. They thought they could lord it over the colonials but it didn't work out that way. Aussies don't take shit. The Ten Pound Poms (also known as Whinging Poms) soon got the message and settled in. Either that, or they returned home to 10 months a year of cold and drizzle to tell their friends and relatives that we were a bunch of uneducated ingrates. However, there was a very dark chapter in Australia's immigration history just after the war. Lots of British children were told they were orphans with no parents or relatives, and were shipped in their hundreds to orphanages in Oz where they were abused, assaulted and generally mistreated. I've seen some of those children, now in their sixties and seventies, weep when asked to recall their experiences. Many believe they were robbed of their childhood. Dark days indeed.

Beeb time: Women in Saudi Arabia are to be given the right to vote and run in future municipal elections, the country's King Abdullah announces. Somebody must've given Abby a current calendar. A mass grave which Libya's interim authorities believe could contain up to 1,270 bodies is found at the notorious Abu Salim prison in Tripoli. And now the secrets emerge. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas receives a hero's welcome in the West Bank after his bid at the UN for full state membership. But if full state membership is not forthcoming, the tide could easily turn. People are so fickle. The IMF warns it may not have enough money to bail out larger eurozone countries if the debt crisis were to spread. In other words, watch your spending. Bullfighting fans in Catalonia have seen the last fights before a ban on the age-old tradition comes into effect in Spain's north-eastern region. About 20,000 spectators filled Barcelona's famous Monumental arena, where top matadors performed. Lawmakers voted for the ban last year - the first in mainland Spain - after 180,000 people signed a petition. They say the bullfighting is barbaric, but opponents say they will challenge the ban in Spain's top court. I agree with those who signed the petition. Prince William apparently left the handbrake on as he drove his new bride Catherine away in a classic Aston Martin, a royal photographer has said. The Sun's Arthur Edwards told BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs that it was Prince Charles who had divulged news of the royal couple's shaky start. The newly-weds had borrowed Charles's car to drive to Clarence House as part of their wedding day celebrations. Hehe. Oh well... he was a bit preoccupied at the time. US planemaker Boeing is to deliver its first 787 Dreamliner later on Monday to Japan's All Nippon Airways after three years of delays. I hope they invited Wilbur and Orwell to the ceremony

There are two blokes here installing the security screens that were removed from the main bedroom and living room a week ago. One of them is about 18, tall, blond, muscular and tanned and the other is....well, don't worry about him. Anyway, the screens are now hinged at the top and key-locked at the bottom so they can be opened to allow the old push/pull windows to be opened and closed. How sensible. 

Yes, I know... I shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a camera. Especially when I've got visitors. By the way, I used supressed flash on that pic so that the guys were lit from the front by the light of the window. Pretty cool, yeah?

Well, shopping's done, and I've had my little chat with Averil. So that's about it. I went to Eddy's Chicken and the girl said, "What would you like?" And I said, "I dunno." So she said, "What about marinated thighs?" Hehe. If I'd been a rude heterosexual I would have said something disgusting, but instead I said, "Hmmm. THEY like things like that, so yeah... I'll take four of those." "Which ones?" "Oh... the honey and soy ones." "Anything else?" "Yeah, something for me." "What about something in pastry?" "Yeah, I love pastry." So I chose a chicken Kiev wrapped in filo. Turns out the thighs and the Kiev take about the same time to cook in the oven so that'll work out just fine. Mix 'n' match... way to go. THEY get their marinated thighs and I get my Kiev. Gary

September 25, 2011. It's taken a while to put the article about Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, together with all the links, but here it is. After I'd finished linking all the text, Art wrote and told me how to save the pics, so I did, and made an album.

It's been one of those days. Sue had another fall this morning and did the whole I'm gonna die routine so I woke Lindsay and called an ambulance. After a trip to hospital and some x-rays, it turned out nothing was broken or seriously damaged. But you never know with Sue. She carries on like the world is coming to an end so you can't take any chances.

Other than that, we had a pretty serious thunderstorm overnight that woke me at about 3am, and another this afternoon. In fact, there was a clap of thunder just now. Eeek! I also wrote a My Story article which Justin thought was worth posting on his blog. So the day is disappearing folks.

Let's do a quick Beeb: Libya's interim government forces have made major progress in their attack on Sirte, one of the last strongholds of Muammar Gaddafi' loyalists. Gunfire was heard and black smoke was seen rising as National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters moved to within 1km (0.5 miles) from the city centre. The troops regrouped as night fell, preparing for a new assault in the morning, a BBC correspondent says. Sirte is Col Gaddafi's birthplace, but it is not known if he is in the city. The city has always been a hugely symbolic target for the NTC, and it seems close to being won, reports the BBC's Alastair Leithead, who is with anti-Gaddafi forces in Sirte. Sorry about that, Colonel, but it looks like the show's over. The IMF says it will take decisive action to tackle the eurozone debt crisis and support the global economy. In a communique on Saturday, the global lender said it would review the resources it had available to tackle the crisis. The statement added that eurozone nations would do "whatever necessary" to resolve Europe's debt crisis. How to put a patchwork quilt together in a hurry. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he has accepted a proposal to stand for president in March 2012. Addressing the ruling United Russia party's annual congress, Mr Putin and current President Dmitry Medvedev backed one another to switch roles. The announcements end speculation over which man should run for the top job. United Russia, which Mr Putin leads, dominates the country's politics and observers say his return to the Kremlin is now all but guaranteed. Yes, he's just one of those guys who can't handle being out of the spotlight. Nasa says its six-tonne UARS satellite plunged to Earth over the Pacific Ocean, off the US west coast. It appears likely the decommissioned craft came down between 03:23 and 05:09 GMT - with a best estimate of 04:16. If correct, this means any debris that survived to the surface probably went into water and not on land. The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is the largest American space agency satellite to return uncontrolled into the atmosphere in about 30 years. Even satellites get homesick ya know. Georgia businessman Herman Cain has won a surprise victory in a Republican presidential straw poll in Florida. Mr Cain secured 37% of the vote, beating Texas Governor Rick Perry (15%), the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. The result is seen as a further blow to Gov Perry, who struggled in the party television debate earlier this week. I'm not sorry Perry is scoring badly but it's interesting that Herman is even blacker than Obama! I mean we ain't talkin' tinted here, baby, we're talkin' a moonless night! The wartime prime minister's (Winston Churchill's) dark moods, plus a series of lucky encounters, may have transformed the course of human history, writes John Gray. A most interesting article about the what ifs of Churchill's leadership during the battle against Naziism and Imperial Japan

Earlier today I watched the Two Ronnies in a sketch about how to fail at being a potential extortionist.

By the way, NC Art responded to my comment about his Limerick yesterday: Yer roight maighty. Yanks don't use Britticisms such as arse. And since the chap weighed 12 stone, 8 there was barely room for a US gallon much less an imperial gallon of petrol and his tukas! But BritWit still owns a flavor all its own.  Two English gentlemen who had not seen each other for some time were invited to a country house for a weekend party. Reggie says hello to Percy and asks after his wife's health. Percy replies, "Buried her ladyship last week." Reggie: "Buried the old girl eh,?" Percy: "Had to, dead, y'know."

12 stone 8. There ya go. Stones, pounds and ounces were in common usage when I was a kid. I still think of myself as being about 10 stone (1 stone = 14 pounds). But now it's all kilos and grams. I didn't know Americans were aware of stones... they always talk in pounds. When I was a kid, a new Holden weighed a ton, or 20 hundredweight (cwt). Petrol was measured in gallons, and mileage in miles per gallon. Not now. It's liters per 100 kilometers. Of course, young people these days wouldn't know what the hell I was talking about. 

Time again to fix dinner. That's American for cook. Hehe. Gary

September 24, 2011. NC Art wrote: The picture of Jamie and the story of his suicide broke my heart. It seems the little progress made lately is far too little and our current crop of politicians are trying to reverse it. Pfft. Jamie could have been a little Wingnut--but without the attitude?

Cody was only a year or so older when he and Paul came dangerously close to "offing" themselves. Good ol' Daniel to the rescue, albeit unwittingly. One commenter on Justin's blog said he had suicidal thoughts at age 14 but never had the courage to go through with it. Courage? It doesn't take courage to take one's own life, it takes desperation. I've heard it said that suicide is not the wish to die, but the lack of will to live.

However, according to a NY Times article about cyberbullying, there's more to the attitude of youth towards bullying than meets the adult eye.

My mention of my eldest bro's Austin 10 yesterday brought back memories for NC Art who learned this limerick circa 1935:

A chap in the city of Boston
Went for a spin in an Austin
There was room for his ass
And a gallon of gas
But his balls hung out and he lost 'em.

Must've been written by a Yank cos arse doesn't rhyme with petrol. Hehe.

Here's a Red Bubble shot of the interior of the refurbished Queen Victoria Building in Sydney. I remember it as a kid when it was in a pathetic state of disrepair and neglect, with windows and doorways boarded up by sheets of corrugated iron. There was talk at the time of demolishing it. What a tragedy (not to mention a crime) that would have been! Now it's a major jewel in Sydney's crown.

Beeb time: The Middle East Quartet urges Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks within a month, after the Palestinians ask the UN to recognise their state. Both sides have to realize that give and take doesn't mean you give and I take. A trial of a new cancer drug, which accurately targets tumours, has been so successful it has been stopped early. Doctors at London's Royal Marsden Hospital gave prostate cancer patients a powerful alpha radiation drug and found that they lived longer, and experienced less pain and side effects. The medics then stopped the trial of 922 people, saying it was unethical not to offer all of them the treatment. Take that, you nasty bugs! IMF chief Christine Lagarde has called for countries to "act now and act together" to keep on the path to economic recovery. "We are by no means strangers, and we are linked by a common destiny," she said at the annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington. "And these turbulent times must bind us ever closer together." Sounds like something Churchill might have said in 1939. Turkey has seized a Syrian-flagged ship loaded with weapons, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. He did not say where or when the vessel was stopped, but vowed to confiscate any arms shipments for Syria coming through Turkish waters or airspace. Mr Erdogan has repeatedly criticised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his government's violent crackdown on street protesters. Last week, Mr Erdogan said the era of oppressive dictators was over. I hope he's right. Meanwhile I'd like to know who is supplying weapons to Syria. Pope Benedict XVI has met German victims of sexual abuse by priests, expressing "deep compassion and regret" at their suffering. The Pope met five victims for half an hour, on the second day of his four-day state visit to his native Germany. A statement from the Vatican said he was "moved and deeply shaken". There have now been allegations of abuse in 18 of Germany's 27 Roman Catholic dioceses. In 2010, more than 181,000 Germans deserted the Church, at least in part in reaction to the abuse scandal. Moved and deeply shaken, huh? Benny baby, it's been going on for centuries. Prison officials in the US state of Texas have abolished the traditional last meal request for inmates who are facing execution. The move came after a prisoner requested a huge meal then did not eat any of it, saying he was not hungry. Lawrence Russell Brewer, a white supremacist, was executed on Wednesday for a high-profile race crime, chaining James Byrd to a pick-up truck and dragging him along a road. Brewer's massive order arrived at 16:00 on Wednesday but he told prison officials he was not hungry. It included two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream and peanut butter fudge. A fuckwit right to the end. Good riddance. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he believes - as an engineer - the World Trade Center towers could not have been brought down by aircraft. Interviewed after his address to the UN General Assembly sparked a walkout, he told the AP news agency some kind of planned explosion must have occurred. Diplomats from more than 30 countries, including the US and EU nations, left the hall as he attacked the West, denounced Israel and questioned the Holocaust. And that bloke is the leader of a country? Sheesh. Pakistan's foreign minister has warned that the US could lose Pakistan as an ally if it continues to publicly accuse Islamabad of supporting militants. Hina Rabbani Khar told Geo TV that the US could not afford to alienate Pakistan's government or its people. Why not? It's costing the US billions in aid

NC Art forwarded an article about Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland, a remarkable place, but the pics didn't arrive. However, the links did. They're all on Flickr but not part of the same set. They're all over the place, and I can't save them to my computer. So tomorrow I'll put the text together with links. It'll mean lots of clicking as you read but it's worth it to see the pics. There's a bit of stuff on Youchewb about the mine but it's not very good.

Anyway, that's it for another Satdee. I didn't even go for a walk today cos the weather's been a bit dreary. According to the forecast it'll be even drearier tomorrow. Never mind. Gary

September 23, 2011. Gonna be a hottie today according to the forecast... 28C. The bushfire season has started early, and firefighters have been battling blazes at Leura in the Blue Mountains south west of Sydney. They say the fires were deliberately lit. As one observer said, that's tantamount to murder. No mercy for pyros in my book.

Speaking of mercy, NC Art wrote: If a bloke serving a life sentence has a conviction overturned he gets fifty bucks, a new suit and a ride home. If a bloke sentenced to die is exonerated after the switch is thrown, 'oops, tough luck Joe' ain't any comfort.

Art also checked out the Youchewb vid of a trip through London in 1939, the link to which I posted yesterday: Enjoyed the motor trip north from London. A lot of Buicks, LaSalle's, and Chevrolets on the roads--from cracker boxes on wheels to early streamlined contours. The double decker city buses were still familiar to me in 1945. Architecture was familiar--still seventeenth century in spots. "Manford Nut Hotel" made we wonder: the staff or the clientele?

Yes, I recall those old cars. My second oldest bro had a '37 Olds and a '39 Buick, while the oldest bro had a late '30s Austin 10. I remember the little roller blind fixed to the Austin's rear window. It was an English gentleman's car.

Justin's blog has posted another article about a teen suicide caused by cyber bullying, and I've had my little say on the matter.

Beeb time: Forces loyal to Libya's new government have taken control of the strategic city of Sabha, which controls the main road south to Niger. Fighters have been firing into the air to celebrate its capture, which means anti-Gaddafi forces now control southern Libya. The desert town was one of the last strongholds of Col Muammar Gaddafi. I'm still mystified as to why Gaddafi's forces are even bothering to resist. Asian stocks slide on Friday, after warnings about the state of the global economy caused a US and European sell-off. It's called investor confidence (or the lack thereof) and it's what determines the fate of the world. A bunch of jittery gamblers dictating the fortunes of the global economy. A lock of hair has helped scientists to piece together the genome of Australian Aborigines and rewrite the history of human dispersal around the world. DNA from the hair demonstrates that indigenous Aboriginal Australians were the first to separate from other modern humans, around 70,000 years ago. This challenges current theories of a single phase of dispersal from Africa. While the Aboriginal populations were trailblazing across Asia and into Australia, the remaining humans stayed around North Africa and the Middle East until 24,000 years ago. Only then did they spread out and colonise Europe and Asia, but the indigenous Aborigines had been established in Australia for 25,000 years. Australian Aborigines therefore have a longer claim to the land in which they now live than any other population known. And Adam was created 6000 years ago?

Well, if the mountain refuses to come to Mohammed.... I just phoned the hospital about the results of the biopsy. They've arrived but the doc hasn't had a chance to check them yet, and apparently there's another report to come (whatever that is). Also, the scans are not done at the hospital but at another place not far from here, and I need a referral from the doc before I can make an appointment with the imaging place. Sheesh. Soooo, my next appointment with the doc is October 6 at midday. She'll inform me of the biopsy results, refer me to the imaging place for scans, and I'll go from there. Nothing in life is simple, folks. It's all about standing in queues.

For quite a while, I've been trying to put my thoughts about bullies into words but ended up trashing it. It's a complicated issue. Cody solved being bullied in his own way, but rearranging a bully's teeth is not everyone's solution. Hehe. Suffice to say that what comes out of a bully's mouth is shit, and should be treated as such. Never let a bully's remarks get the better of you.

Left over cold chicken and salad tonight. Gary

September 22, 2011. The twoty tooth. NC Art sent this link to a most amusing vid of a bunch of appreciative cows getting into the live jazz scene. 

I'm expecting to hear from the hospital today about the results of the biopsy, and an appointment for head and neck scans (probably tomorrow). I guess next week I'll know about the recommended procedure and when and where it's scheduled. It'll almost certainly be Newcastle. If it's surgery to remove the lesion, it'll be over in a couple of days. If it's radiation or chemo, it'll probably last for months. I have a feeling the doc thinks it might be surgery, but we'll see.

As I shaved in the bathroom, I listened to an interview with a professional gambler. He prefers "investor" to gambler. He makes a living out of playing poker (slot) machines. 17 years ago he started with a bank of $500 and has won millions. He plays machines that advertise a jackpot, usually displayed in flashing lights on a board above the reels. There are two sets of numbers... the total payout and the current payout. As the difference between those two numbers narrows, and the jackpot gets closer to payout time, he works out how much he'll need to "invest" (and lose) in order to win the jackpot. The trick, he says, is to have enough money as well as enough time to last the distance. He says it's a bit like buying tickets in a raffle... if the prize is $100 and there are only 50 one-dollar tickets left for sale (and the prize hasn't been won yet) then go ahead and buy all the remaining tickets. Anyway, the proof is in the pud, and he's got plenty of pud. Interesting, oui?

Beeb time: Barack Obama has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas he will veto his bid for UN membership, as he tried to persuade him to drop the plans. But Mahmoud Abbas vowed to press ahead during a meeting with the US president, the White House said afterwards. Mr Obama had told the UN General Assembly a Palestinian state could only be achieved through talks with Israel. Been there, done that. Death row inmate Troy Davis has had his final appeal rejected by the US Supreme Court as he awaits execution for the murder of a policeman. The state of Georgia's top court earlier also rejected an appeal by the 42-year-old, whose lethal injection was scheduled for 19:00 EST (23:00 GMT). Seven out of nine witnesses recanted their testimony in the case. Protests and vigils have been held all week. Davis' request for a polygraph test was denied by prison officials. He was convicted in 1991 of killing Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer, but maintains he is innocent. I sure hope they know what they're doing. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has accused a UK publisher of a breach of contract for releasing drafts of his autobiography without his approval. Canongate has said the memoir will be sold in shops and online from Thursday. But Mr Assange insists it is a work in progress, has not been checked, and that the publisher was profiteering from an erroneous draft. Canongate says Mr Assange had worked with a ghostwriter, but later backed out and tried to cancel his contract. Ooer! I guess critics of Assange would call that poetic justice. Libya's interim rulers, the National Transitional Council, say their forces have now taken control of much of the southern city of Sabha. The city was considered one of the key remaining strongholds of fugitive leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces. Nato, whose air-strikes have been vital in bolstering the efforts of anti-Gaddafi forces, said it will extend its air campaign for up to 90 days. And it's not just Libya that Gaddafi has lost control of. His marbles ain't doin' too well either. Members of legendary US rock band REM have announced they are splitting up after 31 years. "We have decided to call it a day as a band," the band said. "To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening." The group found fame with a string of albums, notably 90s hits Out of Time and Automatic for the People. 31 years together... that's a long time. A local council in central Turkey has built a morgue with a warning system, in case apparently dead bodies come back to life. The Turkish Anatolia news agency reported the mortuary's refrigerators are sensitive to movement inside. A cemetery official said the slightest motion would set off an alarm. Oh dear... finger nail scratch marks on the inside of the coffin lid. I don't even wanna know about it. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has extended his lead over investor Warren Buffett at the top of the Forbes list of rich Americans. Mr Gates' wealth grew by $3bn (£1.9bn) to $59bn, despite his philanthropic efforts, as Microsoft's stock climbed. Mr Buffett, who also continued giving his wealth to good causes, dropped $11bn to $39bn as the value of his Berkshire Hathaway firm slid. It's true ya know... money makes money. A project to construct one of the earliest mechanical computers based on sketches by its designer, Charles Babbage, has received a major boost. The Science Museum in London has agreed to help by digitising the mathematician's original plans. Eventually the images will be used to create a full working model of the Analytical Engine. Conceived in the late 1830s, it foreshadowed the modern computer revolution by more than a century. What's the bet Charles Babbage never made it to the rich list top ten? Charlie Sheen's TV exit on sitcom Two and a Half Men was watched by 28.7m in the US - the highest ratings for the show since it began in 2003. The season nine opener began with the funeral of Sheen's character, Charlie Harper, after he was apparently killed by a metro train in Paris. The episode also introduced Ashton Kutcher as Sheen's replacement. Sheen was fired from the show in March after criticising its producers and months of reported drug use. Only in the land of the stars and stripes

In case you're asking yourself, 'who is REM?', check it out.

Shopping's done, and my plonk was on special (Averil reads all the junk mail and lets me know)... 30 liters for $60 hehe. Only top shelf stuff for me ya know. Actually, the brand I buy is eminently quaffable, and there's a wine glut in Oz at the mo. It's Berri Classic Dry White. One of the liquor retailers told me there's a local police sergeant who snaffles heaps of the stuff whenever it's on spesh, and he would be earning ten times more than I make.

Fresh strawberries were also on spesh at $1.50 a punnet so I bought two. Gotta love dem strawbs.

Here's something interesting I discovered on Youchewb. A superb amateur home movie in colour from August 1939, recording a trip north from London along the A1. Starts at Baker Street, London, showing buses and horse pulling a cart. Some of the footage may be familiar to NC Art.

Well, no call from the hospital so I guess I might get one tomorrow, in which case the scans will be next week. Que sera sera. Gary

September 21, 2011. Those joggers I bought yesterday are called Airforce Rockers. I think Airforce has something to do with the cushioning of the sole, and Rocker refers to the way the sole is designed to tip the foot forward once a person's weight is transferred from the heel to the balls of the feet. The sales lady said she tried a pair and they felt "weird", so I suppose they'll take a bit of getting used to. I'll go for a walk later and see if I can break the sound barrier.

Beeb time: The chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, has been killed with several other people in a bomb attack in Kabul, officials say. Mr Rabbani was killed at his home by a suicide attacker who officials believe had concealed a bomb in his turban. He was meeting members of the Taliban at the time. The council leads Afghan efforts to negotiate with the Taliban. I don't get it. How can you negotiate with murderers? The global economy has entered a "dangerous new phase" of sharply lower growth, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The organisation warned that continuing political and economic woes in the US and eurozone could force them back into recession. The IMF says the prognosis for economies in the developed world is "weak and bumpy expansion". The US - the world's largest economy - is likely to have weak growth "for years to come". Okay, so let's do something positive about the "political and economic woes", or is that too hard? Japan's top weapons maker has confirmed it was the victim of a cyber attack reportedly targeting data on missiles, submarines and nuclear power plants. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) said viruses were found on more than 80 of its servers and computers last month. Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Japan's defence minister Yasuo Ichikawa said the cyber attackers had not succeeded in accessing any important information but MHI would be instructed "to undertake a review of their information control systems". Modern warfare, folks. Spies who sit in offices far away from the front line. A fatal grizzly bear attack in July at Yellowstone National Park may have been provoked when the victim and his wife fled and screamed, officials say. Hikers said they heard a woman's screams and a man making animal noises, possibly to scare away the animal. The bear killed Brian Matayoshi, 57, before picking up his wife Marilyn by her backpack, but she was not harmed. Park authorities decided to let the animal remain free as its reaction was deemed normal for a surprise encounter. Park officials advise hikers to carry pressurised pepper spray with them for self-defence from bears, but the couple were not carrying any. A woman screaming and a man making animals noises. Go figure

Well, I didn't break the sound barrier, but one neighbor I met on the way stood and watched me walk down the hill in anticipation of seeing something reminiscent of Charlie Chaplain. I disappointed him but I must say these shoes are a bit of a challenge.

Anyway, the day got away from me big time and now it's late. Sorry bout that. Gary

September 20, 2011. Off to see the ear, nose and throat specialist soon. You can't go directly to a specialist, you need to be referred by your GP. So it's only a formal g'day and a bit of a look-see. The next step will be to book me into surgery for the biopsy at the local hospital, which will be an overnighter. Ho hum.

And I need new shoes! Old Kev's hand-me-downs are wearing out. There's a place called Rivers here which is a clearance warehouse for the national chain of stores. All old stock, ex-lines and whatever are sent there and heavily discounted. So that's where I'll go. The Rivers brand is actually quite good quality.

BACK! Well, it was a bit more than a formal g'day. Dr Smita Wani Nagaonkar is an Indian woman, maybe late 30s, and very pleasant as well as informative. She did the biopsy there and then. She sprayed some anaesthetic on the inside of my lower gum (where the lesion is) and then removed about 3 small bits. Eeek! But it was fairly painless. "Now I want you to help me here. Hold your head back and open your mouth. That's it... excellent. Now put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and hold it there. Good man. Now don't move." Hehe. Not the most pleasant of experiences but not the worst either. That procedure happened about 4 times.

The results of the biopsy should be ready later this week, in which case the hospital will call me and book me in for scans of the head and neck. After that, a decision will be made by a group of specialists at Newcastle hospital as to what treatment will best suit my situation. It could be surgery to remove the whole lesion, or radiation, or chemo. And all that will happen sooner rather than later. The doc suggests treatment begins as soon as possible.

While I was there, the doc did a quick check of my neck, nose and throat, and also removed wax from my ears. Ew! The lesion seems to be the only problem at this stage. So that little episode cost me $200, less $112 refunded by Medicare. It's much cheaper just to conk out ya know.

Okies, I bought a pair of lace-up joggers from Rivers... blue and gray, with lots of stitching and fancy bits, and springy soles that propel you forward against your will... the kind that make you look like you could win a marathon even though you're the type that struggles to make it around the block without collapsing in a heap. $50 for shoes marked at $110.

Beeb time: Italy has had its sovereign debt rating cut by Standard & Poor's, the latest move in the deepening European debt crisis. S&P cut its rating by one level to A from A+, adding that the outlook for the country was "negative". It cited fears over Italy's ability to cut state spending and bring its finances in order, particularly given the country's growth prospects. Italy said the move had been influenced by "political considerations". A government statement said the downgrade had also been dictated more by stories in the media than by economic reality. So what's happening here? Do modern societies expect a standard of living that's unsustainable? A policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" banning open homosexuality in the US Armed Forces is repealed, nearly two decades after it was introduced. The operative word is "open". I suspect the percentage of gays in the armed forces won't change one way or the other. Six Italian scientists and a former government official are due to go on trial for manslaughter over the 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila. The 6.3 magnitude quake devastated the city and killed 309 people. Prosecutors allege the defendants gave a falsely reassuring statement before the quake after studying hundreds of tremors that had shaken the city. The defence argues that there is no way to predict major earthquakes even in a seismically active area. The case has attracted the attention of the scientific community. More than 5,000 scientists have signed an open letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in support of the defendants. I don't blame them. US President Barack Obama has outlined plans to reduce the US deficit and to kick-start economic growth. At the White House, he proposed cuts to healthcare benefits but said business and the wealthy must pay higher taxes. He unveiled a plan to save more than $3tn (£1.9tn) over a decade that would pay for his plan to boost jobs, with roughly half coming from tax increases. Republicans in Congress, who oppose tax rises, quickly criticised the plan, which they say will not boost jobs. We cross now to our Oregon correspondent, Richie Ropable: I saw more this morning about the Republican reaction to the Obama tax-level news and they are crying "class warfare".  Which intrigues me greatly considering that these "friends on the other side of the aisle" seem to have been doing a good job of just THAT for quite a while now.  And the gall to suggest that current tax cuts for the struggling middle-class should be erased from the books and the struggling should struggle even more.  Forget the fact that the burdened middle-class is and was THE greatest economic and social engine of American prosperity and advances and let's hear it for the financial aristocracy.  This really makes me want to puke.  Trickle down, supply-side, favors to the fortunate and the tooth-fairy hopes that taxing the big dogs less will result in more fiscal revenue from the blissful ideal of 27 financial Virgins somewhere smiling down from the Valhalla of Wall Street has been a "theory" that has been shown to fail time and time again.  And again. Anyway... all that crap has never been a theory of sound economics.  It's a political ideal and principal and never has been anything other than that.  P Obama has perhaps faced the most uncooperative Congress of all time, or at least of the past century. A simple initiative in the Philippines is bringing a bit of brightness into the lives of the country's poorest people. The project is called "Litre of Light", and the technology involved is just a plastic bottle filled with water. Now this is something that will brighten your day... as well as their day

But back to the difference between rich and poor. If all the money in the world was divided equally amongst all the people in the world, what kind of world would we have? Everybody would be the same. All the houses would be the same. The cars would be the same. There'd be no upscale restaurants. No expensive jewellery. No upper management. No castles or white houses or mansions. No kings or queens or presidents. Everybody would be equal. Sound like a good idea? And how long would that equality last? Not long, I suspect. Some people are more frugal than others, and more astute with their money. Some are more entrepreneurial and can start a business that employs others. Sooner or later, the world would revert back to inequality... rich and poor, powerful and powerless, workers and bosses, empoyers and employees. Seems like we're stuck with inequality, dear Breth. It's the nature of the beast. Gary

September 19, 2011. As it turned out, we had fish 'n' chips last night. With a squeeze of lemon, of course. Then David Attenborough showed us how a seal catches a penguin and rips it to shreds. Charming. Nature is so damn cruel. All living things are either an eater or an eatee. Life is basically a cannibalistic force that feeds on itself to survive. Ew!

Anyway, I didn't design the joint so don't blame me.

Roite... toime to say g'day. Australia's most famous country singer Slim Dusty died on this day in 2003. Here he is with his catchy G'day G'day song. I posted the link to Justin's blog and he and Peter were singing along.

Beeb time: A global BBC poll suggest more people support than oppose UN recognition of Palestine as an independent state, as the Palestinians prepare to submit their bid. I'm not surprised. Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn tells French TV his liaison with a New York hotel maid had been a "moral failing" that had deprived him of the chance to run for president. I've had a few myself over the years but my ambitions were less stratospheric. At least 16 people are killed in India and Nepal after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake strikes the Himalayas. Can you imagine the one that actually created the Himalayas in the first place? Life lessons in competitive lock picking. I couldn't resist reading this article and watching the vid. In the green foothills of the Brokenback mountain range in the Hunter Valley, the first buds of spring have begun to flower, but this is not likely to be a season of great cheer in one of Australia's oldest wine producing regions. New figures show sales of Australian wine have fallen sharply as the industry faces its worst slowdown in a decade and a half. Growers here talk of the "perfect storm" whipped up by a strong currency, oversupply and cautious consumers. The slump will almost certainly be made worse by a bigger-than-expected harvest this year, which will add to an already bulging wine glut. Yes, the high Aussie dollar is causing much grief amongst Aussie exporters. Here at home, good Aussie wine is as cheap as chips. An investigation has been launched after a vintage aeroplane crashed near a grandstand at an air race near Reno, Nevada on Friday. Nine people were killed, police said on Saturday, including the pilot. Seven died at the scene and two others in hospital. Dozens were also injured. The vintage World War II-era P-51 Mustang crashed at about 16:30 local time (23:30 GMT) on Friday at the National Championship Air Races. The Mustang, named The Galloping Ghost, was flown by well-known racing pilot Jimmy Leeward, 74. Very sad. Most of the pilot's family was there as well. Dozens of Indonesian women wearing miniskirts have protested in Jakarta after the city governor blamed rapes on provocative clothing. The activists carried signs reading "My miniskirt, my right" and "Don't tell us how to dress; tell them not to rape." Don't look at me... I haven't worn one for years. A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after the death of a suspected intruder at a Greater Manchester house. Police found a man, aged in his 30s, with knife injuries after they were called to a house in Midland Road, Bramhall, at 19:50 BST on Saturday. The man arrested on suspicion of murder is aged 39 and believed to be the householder. Ch Supt Tim Forber, said: "Clearly this is a serious incident in which a man has lost his life and at this time we believe the dead man was one of two men who were attempting to carry out a burglary at the house." Hello? The victim is being charged with murder? What a joke! US President Barack Obama is planning a higher minimum tax rate on Americans who earn more than $1m a year, say White House officials. God, the poor darlings will have to make their Cadillacs last a bit longer. The Beatles refused to play to segregated audiences in the US, a contract for one of the group's concerts shows. Good on 'em.

I bought a new flip desk-top calendar today... 2012. I remember buying the 2000 one and thinking, "Wow! A new millennium!" Almost 12 years later, so what? It hit the bin a few years ago when I decided it wasn't worth keeping. Gary

September 18, 2011. Yes, it was a nice little chat with the ex-postie bartender yesterday. The last time I was there I chatted for ages with the female bartender about all kinds of stuff. So it seems likely I'll be doing the same on the Odyssey. More often than not, I've struck up convos with total strangers on mini Odysseys. Maybe I'm easy to talk to or something, but I never have any problem communicating with people. It could have something to do with my old radio days. When you interview people, you're there to talk about THEM, not yourself.

During my brief stint in sales, I was trained to enter a person's house and head straight to the mantel shelf and ask questions about sporting trophies or whatever. If there were paintings on the walls or antiques in the room, ask questions about those. If you take an interest in a person's possessions or hobbies or achievments, it's far less confronting than asking personal questions. That can come later after the ice has well and truly melted and the atmosphere is more relaxed. 

These days we talk about how modern technology has improved so many aspects of our lives. But last night I watched a program on telly about a bakery in Tasmania that uses a wood-fired brick oven to bake all its bread. Electric ovens can't compete. The heat produced by the brick oven is more evenly distributed, and the smoke adds flavor. The texture of the interior of each loaf is uniform from top to bottom, and the crust is superior, whereas bread from an electric oven tends to be light at the top and more dense at the bottom with a dismal crust. The Tasmanian bakery does a roaring trade, and the baker even grinds his own flour with a hand-driven machine that looks like it's made from old bicycle parts. Absolutely nothing smells more appetizing than freshly baked bread... the old fashioned way. Our Father who art in Heaven, give us our daily bread. Hehe. What wonderful stuff! And forget that margarine crap... gimme butter, the stuff that comes from a cow's udder.

That's one of Wingnut's qualities I found so admirable and charming. Every Christmas and birthday, he would draw a hand-made card and address it to "my big bro" Cody, from your "little bro". How sweet was that? It still brings a tear to my eye. No wonder Cody placed such great emphasis on friendship. But he also had a dark side. Remember Wingnut's first pube? He couldn't wait to show it to Cody who promptly plucked it. Hehe. Winger was devastated.

Beeb time: Fighting has been raging in Libya for the loyalist-held coastal town of Sirte after a setback for anti-Gaddafi forces at Bani Walid, south-east of Tripoli. Anti-Gaddafi fighters pushed forward at Sirte with machine guns and rockets but met shellfire from loyalists. Anti-Gaddafi forces at Bani Walid are regrouping after a retreat on Friday. The BBC's Alastair Leithead, with the anti-Gaddafi forces near Sirte, said the fighters had advanced about another 10km (six miles) towards the city. He says there has been slow, steady and careful progress as there are strong defensive positions which the anti-Gaddafi forces have been bombarding, wearing down and then taking. Gaddafi speaks of fighting to the bitter end. Maybe he means it. Maybe it's an honor thing that rational people like you and me don't fully comprehend. There is evidence linking the Haqqani militant network to Pakistan's government, the US ambassador to Pakistan has said in a radio interview. "This is something that must stop," Cameron Munter told Radio Pakistan, when discussing Tuesday's militant assault on the Afghan capital, Kabul. At least 25 died during a 20-hour-long attack blamed on the Haqqani group, who are believed to be based in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities have consistently denied links with militant groups. If that's the case, why do militants find Pakistan a convenient place to hide? At least nine people were killed when a vintage plane crashed at an air race near Reno, Nevada, police say, as investigators launch a probe. I saw that on telly. The thing just nose-dived for no apparent reason. The only daughter and eldest child of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, Kara, has died of heart failure aged 51, her brother Patrick has said. The former TV producer was in remission after having a malignant tumour on her lung removed in 2003. She had been weakened physically, he said. In recent years, Kara Kennedy Allen worked for a charity involved in providing arts opportunities for the disabled. Senator Kennedy died in August 2009. You could be forgiven for believing that being a Kennedy was synonymous with tragedy. Italian newspapers have carried transcripts of phone calls in which PM Silvio Berlusconi allegedly boasts that 11 women were queuing up outside his room to have sex with him. The intercepted conversation was with local businessman Gianpaolo Tarantini, who prosecutors allege was running a high-level prostitution ring. Eight people are charged with supplying prostitutes for Mr Berlusconi. He has not been charged and says he was unaware of their activities. There ya go... sounds feasible to me. Yeah, right. The (British) government has indicated it is committed to changing the law to allow gay marriage by 2015. Ministers are to launch a consultation next spring on how to open up civil marriage to same-sex couples ahead of the next general election. Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone told the Lib Dem autumn conference that current laws were "simply not fair". God said "go forth and multiply". Okay, we've done that, and we're almost up to 7 billion, many of whom are diseased and starving. Any suggestions? 

Back from another walk, and stopped by the Royal for a beer. The female bar attendant said, "What would you like, darling?" And I said, "How did you know I was Darling?" She said, "Because you look like a darling." Hehe. So I said, "Ooer, I think I like it here." I'm not sure having a beer should be included in my exercise regimen but what the hell... 

Scrumptious day... about 28C which is like summer. So what's for dinner? THEY have a choice of salad, fish, fish cakes, or meat pies. They're asleep so I'll ask them when they surface. I don't care what we have. Gary

September 17, 2011. Satdee. Bit of drama last night. Lindsay woke me about 2am to say there were "guys in the front yard". The chickenshit was too scared to go outside, so I did and asked "what's going on?" Turned out to be a young bloke playing hard to get. His parents were trying to calm him down, but he jumped the side fence and toddled off. According to his mother, the cops had locked him up earlier for whatever but had released him after failing to charge him. The mother was very apologetic. The parents live out of town and had to drive all the way in. "Why didn't the police keep him locked up?" she kept asking. I guess they couldn't without a charge. Anyway, I figure the kid had a night on the town, got rejected by some chick, and spat the dummy.

Speaking of spitting the dummy, I saw television footage of a young African boy getting a needle for something (I think it was measles). As the doc jabbed the kid's arm, his look of utter dismay was priceless - wide eyed and mouth shaped like an O. Then he burst into tears. Hehe. I was reminded of that this morning when Sue took another tumble. Good thing we have carpeted floors. Anyway, as usual she burst into tears.

NC Art was kind enough to give Green Room a critique on Amazon: Man, how I can sling kangaroo poo! heheh

That's two 4-star reviews. I remember talking to a wine rep some years ago. His job involved visiting restaurants and selling his brand, Kaiser Stuhl. He said the two most popular wines in restaurants were the second most expensive, and the second least expensive. Generally, people avoid the most expensive because it's a bit lavish, and avoid the cheapest because it's embarrassing. I solve that problem by ordering House White (or Red). If it's good enough for the house then it's good enough for me.

NC Art also sent a link to the latest Borowitz Report... God Tells Pat Robertson to Shut the Fuck Up.

Just screwed the Bootie's strap onto the door pillar behind the passenger seat in Das Busse and it works like a charm... holds the engine hood in upright position no worries. So that's ten bucks well spent. The engine looks okay... clean and tidy. All the hoses and wiring is in pretty good nick, and the radiator was reconditioned 3 years ago. AND... the old donk started first go again after a couple of weeks just sitting there. I'll let it run for about half an hour.

Beeb time: Anti-Gaddafi forces have been forced to pull back from Bani Walid after meeting fierce resistance from those loyal to the ousted Libyan leader. Fighters came under heavy shelling and gunfire after entering the town, 90 miles (140 kilometres) south-east of the capital Tripoli. Further to the east, forces are continuing an assault on Sirte, another remaining Gaddafi stronghold. Earlier, the UN voted to give Libya's seat to the transitional authorities. The move, which faced only minor opposition, clears the way for National Transitional Council (NTC) chief Mustafa Abdul Jalil to attend the UN General Assembly in New York next week. Surely Gaddafi loyalists will run out of ammunition sooner or later. I don't understand why they're bothering to resist the inevitable. Mahmoud Abbas says in a speech that he will apply to the UN Security Council for full membership for a Palestinian state, risking a US veto. How much Palestinian money is invested in the US? Just asking. An Irish man has been arrested in Brazil with almost a kilo of cocaine hidden in his gut, police there say. The 20-year-old suspect was detained as he tried to board a flight from Sao Paulo to Brussels. Officers said they became suspicious because he looked nervous. When questioned, he admitted having swallowed sealed capsules of cocaine. He was rushed to hospital, where he expelled 72 capsules containing 830g (1.8lb) of the drug. Desperate people do desperate things. How bizarre

I think it's time for another Dave Allen sketch... this time about death and Irish funerals.

Right, well, I played up a bit... went for a walk and stopped at the pub for two beers. The barman is an ex-postie. He used to ride a little Honda postie bike around Old Bar. So we got to chatting about posties when I was a kid. They rode bicycles back then and delivered the mail twice a day... morning and afternoon. And the housewives would hear the whistle and wait at the mail box for them to arrive. These days they use Hondas but they're allowed to ride on the sidewalks. He said he used to enjoy school holidays when the kids would beat him to the mail box and argue about who was gonna take the mail into the house. Hehe. Then we talked about how things have changed with email and the internet, and people paying bills via netbank, and getting paid by bank transfer instead of check. Anyway, for whatever reason he decided to quit being a postie in favor of serving behind a bar. At least he's no longer bothered by the weather.

T-bones for THEM tonight, which gives me an excuse to pig out on pizza. I was rather impressed with the McCain ultra-thin Tandoori chicken last time so I'm having it again. Imagine that... Italian pizza with Indian topping. Why not? Gary

September 16, 2011. The Window Man is here making a racket, freeing the painted-in frames in the living room so that they open and close. Next, the security screens will be attached on the inside (one for each pair of windows). They'll be hinged from the top so they can be pulled backwards from the bottom to allow access to the window handle for opening and closing. It's all a bit messy but that's because the screens were fitted to the inside in the first place. Meanwhile, Lindsay's having a wonderful time out there chatting away to the workman hehe.

I took the time to ask the Window Man about fitting aluminium security screens to the two side sliding windows on Das Busse. They slide but don't lock. At the mo they have clip-on insect screens fitted to the interior but they're not a good fit. Any mozzie worth its salt could gain access, and it only takes one to ruin a good night's sleep. Exterior screens are not a good look but they are practical in terms of security and a bug-free zone. Anyway, that's something I'll consider down the track.

Amazon has confirmed that Green Room is live and available on Kindle. Now they want me to publicize my details on Author Central to let readers know how scrumptious I am. Sheesh. I hate all that stuff but I suppose it's gotta be done.

Steve W mentioned smoking the other day. Here's the late Dave Allen talking about giving up the habit. Dave Allen worked in Oz for some years hosting his own Tonight Show. A very funny man. Here he is before he gave up the fags, talking about drunks. Hehe.

Isn't Youchewb wonderful? I watched a program on telly last night about Smart TVs and how they're affecting traditional press, radio and TV. With a Smart TV you can access newspapers via the internet, thousands of radio and television stations around the world, music channels, Youtube, movies, books and whatever else is "out there". I can't remember the detail but there was one woman who runs her own "TV channel" on Youtube who gets more viewers than the most popular programs on regular TV. That has to be a worry for traditional media and the advertising industy, although the ad industry will simply go wherever audiences go. It seems to me that the days of media barons like the Murdochs are numbered.

I dunno about these days but when I was a kid people around the world thought this was a common sight in Oz. Hehe. It probably is out in the country but not in suburbia. 

Beeb time: Libya's interim authorities say their fighters have entered the coastal city of Sirte, one of the last places still loyal to ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi. A National Transitional Council spokesman said the fighters had breached Sirte's defences but were meeting heavy resistance. Earlier, crowds in Benghazi cheered UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. They are the first foreign leaders to visit Libya since Col Gaddafi fell. Somebody better tell the Colonel what "fell" means. Denmark's centre-left has won the country's general election, ending nearly a decade in opposition. With all votes counted, the bloc led by Social Democrat leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt had won a narrow majority in parliament. She is set to become Denmark's first woman prime minister. Incumbent Lars Lokke Rasmussen has admitted defeat. We've got a woman PM in Oz who didn't need a majority... she managed with a minority. The man who confessed to killing 77 people in Norway in July was filmed by security cameras minutes before he launched the attacks, it has emerged. Anders Behring Breivik, 32, is seen dressed in a police uniform with a gun as he walks away from a car after placing a bomb in Oslo. Police confirmed the photo published on the ABC Nyheter website was authentic. The car bomb killed eight people. Mr Breivik then shot dead 69 people at a youth camp on the island of Utoeya. The photo of Mr Breivik came from monitoring cameras at government headquarters six minutes before the car bomb exploded, ABC Nyheter reports. It said that no-one in the building raised the alarm. Obviously not. A planet orbiting two suns - the first confirmed alien world of its kind - has been found by Nasa's Kepler telescope, the US space agency announced. It may resemble the planet Tatooine from the film Star Wars, but scientists say Luke Skywalker, or anyone at all, is unlikely to be living there. Named Kepler-16b, it is thought to be an uninhabitable cold gas giant, like Saturn. The newly detected body lies some 200 light years from Earth. Though there have been hints in the past that planets circling double stars might exist, scientists say this is the first confirmation. Another one of God's prototypes. He made a lot of them ya know before he got Earth right. Several billion. What's it like to be the Guinness Book of Records holder of the world's largest afro? Find out here. Australians have been given a third choice when describing their gender on passport applications, under new guidelines aimed at removing discrimination. Transgender people and those of ambiguous sex will be able to list their gender as indeterminate, which will be shown on passports as an X. People whose gender was different from that of their birth were previously required to have reassignment surgery before they could change their passport to their preferred sex. An Australian senator, Louise Pratt - whose partner was born female and is now identified as a man - said the reform was a huge step forward. "There have been very many cases of people being detained at airports by immigration in foreign countries simply because their passports don't reflect what they look like," she told Australian radio. "It's very distressing, highly inconvenient and frankly sometimes dangerous." Even in the land of the "owyagoinmatenoworries" Aussie Yobbo, anything's possible

Back from filling Bluey's tank and calling in to see the Bootie. The Bootie charged me $10 for Das Busse's new engine hood strap. "That's cheap!" I said. "You mustn't eat!" He replied in all seriousness, "I don't. The kids do but I don't." Anyway, the strap looks pretty substantial... thick leather with a steel buckle. I'll try it tomorrow. I couldn't find a used one, and the local Toyota dealer never got back to me about a new one. Had I been successful in finding a new or used one, I reckon it would have cost two or three times what the Bootie charged me. And his is quality leather! Not plastic like the original.

And petrol? 36 liters @ $47, which is roughly 8 gallons @ six bucks a gallon. Not cheap! Back in 1962 I was paying 40 cents a gallon. Hehe. It's a good thing I don't do many miles. That tank will probably last 2 or 3 months. Actually, when I checked Bluey's tire pressures, the tread looked exactly the same as when I put them on brand new back in early 2009.

And that's it for this Friday. Time to think about FOOD. Chicken schnitzels and corn cobs. I love fresh corn smothered in butter with a sprinkle of ground pepper. Is it a grain, a fruit or a vegetable? Lemme check. Ooer! It's also called maize... I didn't know that. And it's a grain... but also used as a vegetable or starch in cooking. Gary

September 15, 2011. Here we are on the merry-go-round again... pay day/bills day/whoosh day... and a bit of shopping. It'll be different on the Odyssey, of course. No rent, no power bills, no regular shop for the zoo and Averil. Just lil ole me who eats like a sparrow. As long as I have my bed, a cooker, a fridge, a roof over my head, a place to sit, my computer and the internet, my cameras and spare undies, I'll be sweet.

Justin's blog is undergoing a bit of a hiatus at the mo due to PC problems and Justin's busy schedule at university, so I took the time to read about The Happiest Man on Earth, a Eulogy of Fr Mychal Judge - hero of 9/11. When I first saw the article a week ago I scanned part one and thought, yeah, nice guy, yadda yadda, but this time I read the whole thing carefully and took it all in. Yep, it was worth reading. What a helluva dude Mychal was.

I don't buy his religious beliefs but that doesn't matter. It's what the bloke did in life for others that matters. His life and example remind me of the loaves and fishes story. Were the loaves and fishes real, or a metaphor for love and kindness? It's quite possible to give love and kindness to thousands of people without ever needing to replenish supplies. Fr Mychal Judge proved that. And for that matter, so did Cody.

Just checked Amazon Kindle to see if Green Room is "live" and it is. I was surprised to see 1 customer review already... completely unsolicited. The more the merrier. And don't forget his name is Kyle. :o) I'll wait to see how GR goes before I upload GRII.

It'll be interesting to see how this Kindle thing goes. I've heard that electronic books and reading devices are pretty popular. Mind you, Amazon is a helluva big bookstore with probably millions of titles. I wonder what Cody would think of all this hehe.

Beeb time: The head of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) has appealed for weapons as NTC forces fight to capture parts of the country still loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi. Mustafa Abdul Jalil told the BBC that the ousted leader was in southern Libya and planning revenge attacks. A written message attributed to Col Gaddafi appealed to the UN to stop "crimes" against his birthplace Sirte. Boots on the ground is the last thing the UN wants. The design for a huge rocket to take humans to asteroids and Mars has been unveiled by the US space agency Nasa. The Space Launch System (SLS), as it is currently known, will be the most powerful launcher ever built - more powerful even than the Saturn V rockets that put men on the Moon. On top of the SLS, Nasa plans to put its Orion astronaut capsule, which is already in development. The agency says the first launch should occur towards the end of 2017. This will be an uncrewed test flight, and it is estimated the project will have cost $18bn (£11.4bn) by that stage. "The next chapter of America's space exploration story is being written today," said Nasa's top official, General Charles Bolden. "President Obama has challenged us to be bold and dream big, and that's exactly what we do. While I was proud to fly in the space shuttle, tomorrow's explorers will dream of one day walking on Mars." It's the nature of mankind to explore, and nothing will stop it. A US federal report has blamed the worst oil spill in US history on "key mis-steps", poor leadership and a poor cement job by BP and its contractors. BP was "ultimately responsible" for rig safety, with Transocean responsible for safe operations and worker safety. BP tried to save time and money at the cost of safety, and Transocean operated normally despite the hazards, it said. "Multiple causes, involving multiple parties, including Transocean and Halliburton" were to blame, BP said. Okay... so now what? A British company searching for oil off the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic says it has made further significant finds. The company, Rockhopper Exploration, said it expected to start pumping oil by 2016. It said it would need $2bn (£1.3bn) to develop the field. The search for oil off the Falklands has angered Argentina, which claims sovereignty over the islands it calls Las Malvinas. Been there, done that, and Margaret won. Henry Winkler, who played the Fonz on the classic US sitcom Happy Days, has been awarded an honorary OBE for his educational work on dyslexia in the UK. Winkler, who may now add "honorary OBE" to his name, received the award at the British embassy in Washington DC. The actor-turned-children's author was himself diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult. In the last two years, he has toured schools in the UK, talking about the learning disability. Who would have thought the Fonz would end up with an Order of the British Empire? "Cool, man." President Barack Obama has been dealt a double setback after Republican wins in two seats, including one billed as a referendum on his economic policies. In New York, Republican Bob Turner won a key election to succeed Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner, who quit in June over a sex texting scandal. The retired media executive is the first Republican to take office in New York's ninth district since the 1920s. Meanwhile, Mark Amodei defeated Democrat Kate Marshall in Nevada. They're out to gitcha, Barack. A man armed with an axe has killed two young girls and four adults in a Chinese city, media reports say. The attack happened early on Wednesday on a street near a kindergarten in Gongyi city, Henan province. A 30-year-old local farmer, who is suspected of being mentally ill, has been detained, officials said. The incident is the latest in a spate of similar attacks across China, several of which have targeted schools and young children. I wonder what makes them think he was mentally ill. Oh, what a crazy world this is. 

NC Art has been poking around Amazon: Your  efforts worked for Kindle, so now if they turn profitable we will all rejoice for you! Actually, I was surprised to find two print editions also available at Amazon , and at a steep price of $30 or $40 US bucks. Nevertheless, it seems you are right generous in sharing credit with two blokes who provided editing and an intro. Kindle usually offer a few early chapters of books for a free 'test drive' and I downloaded a few pages. The change of venue and introduction for early Kyle personna is right on the mark. As I read--haphazardly--Mr. B Stories it was never clear to me just what made Kyle tick. And so far there have been no red-hot sex marathons to offend innocent babes. After finishing the free sample I'll decide whether to kick in ten smackers for the whole thing, but I also am thinking of adding a review for others to check out on the website. So far, there is none by an objective reader. Am I objective? Nah, but maybe the fraud will slip by.

Yes, Lulu has a deal with Amazon to make its books available there as paperbacks. As to sharing credit, I would have liked to include Cody's name as well but he never revealed his last name. Besides, in the book he's Kyle (a name he chose back in the early MrB days)... and it's pretty obvious to any reader that he lived and wrote his own story.

Ohio Jace has also been peeking hehe: Green Room has 1 comment (positive) on Amazon and a 4 star rating. Jace also commented on local politics as well as Federal: The Republicans have one thing on their agenda and that is to make sure Obama is defeated in 2012. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS! Yes, it's developing into quite a nasty business. And I won't be surprised if loose religious-right lips make a racist statement sooner or later. If that happens, the Republican ship will have something in common with the Titanic.

You mention taking the train across the coat hanger. Have you even gone under the harbor bridge in the tunnel? No, Jace, that's something I've yet to experience. But a tunnel is a tunnel is a tunnel. I don't know if it would be all that thrilling. I prefer the old coathanger. Actually, I saw a pic on Red Bubble recently taken from the top of the southern pylon. It was a great pic! That's something I could do... climb the stairs in the pylon. Climbing the bridge itself is way outta my league. Heights worry me.

Jace mentioned his 13 y/o nephew Chandler and how he feels about riding motocross. He feels pretty much the same way Cody felt about surfing. Anyway, Chandler started his first season in last place at 43. He soon rose to 1st place with a 30-point lead. And then? Ka-boom. Check out the vid.

Well, time to feed the zoo. Been a nice warm day so we're having salad tonight, with chicken, roast beef and ham and all the fixins as the Yanks say. I'm having mine on a fresh bread roll. Gary

September 14, 2011. Lindsay has been bitching about how hot the living room gets in summer. The security screen is mounted on the inside, which means the windows (the old push/pull timber style) can't be opened, and the poor dear needs his fresh air. So I let him go with his ranting and raving. This morning a workman turned up and removed the security screen's two sections. Guess what? The windows have been painted in and still can't be opened. Welcome to Pandora's Box, Lindsay. No problem. Install new windows. I'm sure the landlady will be thrilled about that. Good thinking, Lindsay. Why didn't you just leave well enough alone? Go figure.

The Green Room submission to Amazon's Kindle had a mistake... I omitted the author's name. Hehe. Well, hey, it's on the front cover! But Amazon wants it entered into the submission details, so there ya go. I fixed that, so there should be no further problems. I also entered Simon Belcanter for his editorial assistance, and Jim Lokken (SF Jim) for his foreword.

Feel like sitting in with the driver for a train ride over the Harbor Bridge? Why not. Milsons Point to Wynyard, a trip I've done many times... even in the old red rattlers.

Steve W wrote about the cancer: Sorry to hear about the diagnosis of the cancer. Just a question, did you used to be a smoker in your younger days? The reason I asked is that I was diagnosed with rectal cancer some 11 years ago and underwent radio, chemo and surgery. I was a smoker at the time, and the radiologist advised that I give them up…… response was that since I’m not in the practice of sticking the ciggies up my arse, I will keep going, but thank you anyway! He just shook his head. Even in dire situations, it is important to maintain a sense of humour, it is after all, the best medicine. Wishing you good fortune mate.

Thanks for the tip, Steve. No more ciggies up the arse. Hehe. It's not a good look in public anyway. Yes, I was a heavy smoker for many years. I still enjoy an occasional puff but nothing compared to the way it was. And I agree with you about a sense of humor. It's the only thing that keeps us sane.

Beeb time: Afghan and international forces are closing in on the last insurgents who attacked the US embassy, Nato HQ and police buildings in Kabul. BBC correspondents in Kabul say gunfire can still be heard from a multi-storey building where gunmen are holed up. Afghan officials say at least four policemen and two civilians were killed, as well as six insurgents. The attack comes as US and other foreign troops begin to withdraw from Afghanistan. Guess what happens when you stop weeding the garden? The number of Americans living in poverty rose to 46.2 million last year, nearly one in six people, according to the US Census Bureau's annual report. The 2010 data shows the poverty rate at 15.1%, from 14.3% in 2009. The number of Americans without health insurance also rose slightly to 49.9 million. That's more than double the population of Australia. Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that recognition of a Palestinian state is an obligation not an option. He told the Arab League that before the year's end "we will see Palestine in a very different situation". Mr Erdogan made a new attack on Israel, saying its government's mentality was a barrier to peace in the Middle East. The Palestinians are currently preparing a bid for United Nations membership despite Israeli and US opposition. No wonder so many Jews choose to live in other parts of the world. Two Americans jailed for spying in Iran will be released in two days, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told US media. Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were imprisoned for eight years last month. The pair, in custody since their arrest in July 2009, claimed they strayed into Iran accidentally while hiking near the border. An Iranian judge told the BBC he would release the men on payment of $500,000 (£316,000) bail each. Mr Ahmadinejad revealed the news in an interview with NBC's Today show. In a separate interview with the Washington Post, the Iranian president described the release as a "unilateral pardon" and a "humanitarian gesture". Yeah, right. Ahmadinejad thinks the rest of us are as nutty as he is. Australia's government says it is to set up a wide-ranging investigation into the media, after the News of the World phone hacking scandal in the UK. It follows calls by the Greens for a sweeping parliamentary inquiry into ethics and media ownership. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the terms of reference were under discussion with the Greens, a key partner in Julia Gillard's minority coalition government. Yep, without the Greens, Julia would not be PM. Guess who's pulling the strings

A quiet one today, ladies and genitals. Not much to waffle about. Gary

September 13, 2011. Justin posted links to a couple of inspiring vids on his blog today. This clip is about one of the heroes aboard flight 93 on 9/11 that crashed in Pennsylvania - heroes who sacrificed their own lives to save others. This bloke happened to be gay. The lyrics of the song tell the story.

And here's one about a 14 y/o kid whose articulation and intelligence is astounding. Here he is being interviewed by Ellen Degeneres.

As expected, I've been getting advice and well-wishes from Waffle addicts who have either had cancer or known someone who has. ZYX told me the story of his wife. Back in 1984 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through  two weeks of  extremely painful....excruciating suffering.... and that was followed by four months of chemotherapy.  She was 64 years old. After six months of oral medication and periodic check-ups, she was declared cancer free. We spent the next 19 years traveling around the country visiting places we would never have dreamed of just a year earlier.

ZYX goes on to say: On December 23rd, 2003, just 8 days after her 83rd birthday and two days before Christmas and YEARS after doctors had given her up for dead, she passed away peacefully with a smile on her face. Yeah, well I figure she was thinking about how ZYX would have to iron his own shirts from now on. Hehe.

Doctors mean well, Gary but like you and I, they are not God.  If the spirit within you is willing you will probably outlive even the youngest of those doctors.  Trust that spirit, Gary, it is stronger than any doctor on earth or God in.............where-ever!

There's an old joke... what is the difference between God and a doctor? God doesn't think he's a doctor. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts, Gerry.

NC Art also had a thing or two to say: After radiation, be damned sure to follow the sawbones' advice. My brother in law had rad for a jaw cancer and was told to stay out of the sun. Being a doctor himself and stubborn and with a large yard and orchard to attend, he went right out to trim shrubs, gather apples, mow grass---and went totally deaf in one ear. Bad reaction from mixing radiation and UV sunlight. Now 95, he is missing a gall bladder, prostate gland and other assorted non-essentials. Still deaf, still stubborn!

I hope you're not suggesting I'm stubborn, Art. There's not a single stubborn bone in my entire body. :-P

Francois has had personal experience with radiation therapy: Just to talk to you on radiation-therapy, because I'd twice in my life. It's only boring and tiring. For my spine cancer I'd around 10 sessions after the surgery: each lasted 30mn while my head was tied/blocked on the table, to not move an hair. My tumor was on the spine and nerves cellulars are very weak to radiation, so a very definite place was aimed each day by a very thin beam of radiations. The longest time was to aim the beam... none in the room to speak to... boring, I've no remembrance of other effects, but I was in a very bad state due to the surgery.

Well, as far as I'm aware, there'll be no surgery in my case (except for the biopsy). Francois had another cancer later, this time in his prostate: Anyway I was treated by hormono-therapy during 6 months: 2 shots of female hormon... I leave you imagine the results! Then the prostate had stopped to work and the tumor was down 1mm, so they killed it with radiations: boring, it's all, hips tied to the table, alone of course in the room. Some drowsiness after and a little tired... Quite nothing and rather short sessions: no precision needed. 6 months after my prostate was working very well (too much sometimes hehehe)

Francois concludes by advising me not to be afraid of radiation therapy. I don't think 'afraid' is the word. What good would that do? I'm pissed off about the disruption and hassle of traveling to and from Newcastle for however long the treatment lasts, and all this buggerizing around, but otherwise I'm resigned to doing whatever needs to be done, and I'll leave the outcome to the gods. As FDR said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Which reminds me of something else Francois wrote: Reading your lame excuses, I thought to some words of this stupid General MacArthur: "Youth is not a period of time. It is a state of mind, a result of the will, a quality of the imagination, a victory of courage over timidity, of the taste for adventure over the love of comfort...." 

Well, I'm not too sure about all that but I do find it curious when I meet people my age or older who THINK old. I feel like I'm half their age even though I'm not. I can't relate to people whose brains have seized up and lost their suppleness. Mind you, I still get a kick outta being grumpy like Mr Magoo. Hehe. A good ol' bitch now and then does you the world of good. However, I also believe that the windows of the mind should always remain open, and fresh air made welcome.

Beeb time: Amnesty International has called on Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) to take steps to prevent human rights abuses by anti-Gaddafi forces. In its latest report, the group says that while the bulk of violations were carried out by loyalist forces, anti-Gaddafi fighters have also been involved in torture and killings. Earlier, Col Muammar Gaddafi vowed in a TV message to fight "until victory". The whereabouts of the 69-year-old fugitive leader remain unknown. Yes, I'm sure atrocities have been committed on both sides. War can bring out the worst in people no matter what side they're on. Republicans object as the White House says it plans to pay for its $450bn jobs plan with taxes on oil firms, fund managers and corporate jet owners. Hehe. How to win Republicans and Influence the Rich. A group of 22 Shia pilgrims travelling on a bus to Syria have been found shot dead in Iraq's western Anbar province, say Iraqi officials. I wish Allah would make up his mind whose side he's on. How come he's so quiet? Rick Perry's lambasting of the US federal pension system may prove a flashpoint as Republican White House contenders hold their latest TV debate. The problem Republicans like Perry have is they don't recognize their own worst enemy. And it ain't Barack Obama. Astronomers using a telescope in Chile have discovered 50 previously unknown exoplanets. The bumper haul of new worlds includes 16 "super-Earths" - planets with a greater mass than our own, but below those of gas giants such as Jupiter. One of these super-Earths orbits inside the habitable zone - the region around a star where conditions could be hospitable to life. The planets were identified using the Harps instrument in La Silla in Chile. Read the full article here. Fears are growing for the wellbeing of Happy Feet, an emperor penguin who washed up on a New Zealand beach, after scientists lost contact with the bird. A transmitter attached to the penguin earlier this month on his release back into the wild stopped relaying information on his location on Friday. Researchers said Happy Feet may have been eaten, or the tracking device may have failed or fallen off. Yes, as I mentioned the other day, being released back into the food chain was not without its hazards. Keep that in mind next time you see the Pope on his balcony releasing white doves. Andy Whitfield, the British star of US TV drama Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has died at the age of 39. Whitfield died on Sunday in Sydney, Australia, 18 months after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, his family and manager said. Whitfield was born in North Wales and moved to Australia in 1999. "On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18-month battle with lymphoma cancer," his wife said in a statement. Thanks very much... just what I needed to know

NC Art mentioned something about Amazon Kindle, the e-book site: A few days ago I read that a writer can self-publish material in Amazon's Kindle division. But the writer was woefully short on detail. Thought of your less than lucrative experience and wonder if you could prowl Amazon website, ask questions, and maybe find something positive there. Worth an hour of frustration?

Well, yeah... a bit of frustration, mainly because the Green Room cover graphic was hidden away on my backup hard drive in the LAST place I looked! Otherwise, the process was pretty straight forward. So, in about 24 hours, Green Room will be available on Kindle (provided it's approved). Thanks for the tip, Art. It would be nice to make a few extra bob.

And thank god for the backup drive! As I searched for the Green Room cover I saw a whole bunch of stuff there I'd almost forgotten about. Apparently, I've been a busy little boy for the past decade or so.

Time to update Waffle and attend to the zoo. Gotta feed the animals. Pork chops for THEM and I dunno what I'll have. Maybe I could take a leaf out of Francois' book and go down to the river to catch a flathead or bream or something. But that could take hours! And then I'd have to gut it and scale it and cook it. Nah... I'll think of something else. Gary

September 12, 2011. Francois reckons my geography is very bad. Yes, I agree. I have a terrible sense of direction. The island south west of New Caledonia is Oz. The Ile des Pins is south east. Francois also thinks my excuses for procrastinating are "lame". I'm sure Cody would agree with him, except Cody's version of the word was "lamo". 

Yes, it's a good thing Oz is an island (two if you include Tasmania... more if you include all the other islands such as those around the Great Barrier Reef, Kangaroo Island off South Australia and many others elsewhere). At least I can't get lost.

One of the advantages of being on a boat, as opposed to traveling around in a campervan on land, is that you can throw a line over the side and catch dinner (or breakfast). I don't fancy wallaby stew or goanna pie hehe. Francois has spent all his money on his boat and a small house, and now survives on a pension which is about a third of the average income (same as mine). Luxuries are out, or as Francois puts it, "no extras." Like me, he's on regular medication. So now you know why he reckons my excuses are "lame".

Here's what Oregon Richie has to say about it: So far as casting off on the AO goes I would not engage in too very much debate with you, or the various aspects of that in terms of physical or fiscal comfort zone levels.  You cannot be entirely unpractical.  Neither can you be utterly practical.  It's a balance of things and what you figure you can do, and how, and for how long.  One thing is usually for sure, though... if one waits for just the perfect time and circumstances for anything to happen or be undertaken it's a certainty that it never will.  Balance !!  What a great word !!

Anyway, before I can do anything, I need to get this mouth cancer sorted out. Just checked the distance between Taree and Newcastle... 167 kilometers. It's all highway driving so that's about 2 hours. I'm thinking commuting might be better than moving, provided the treatment doesn't affect my driving. Not sure if it'll be chemo or radiation. My sister in law had her cancer treated in Newcastle and went bald! But at least the cancer went into remission... and her hair eventually grew back. Her husband (my younger bro) wasn't so lucky with his bladder cancer. Luck of the draw, mate. Win some, lose some. On the plus side, there are quite a few towns, villages, beach resorts and other places of photographic interest between here and Newcastle, so I'll be sure to take my camera along! At least it'll be spring/summer.

Beeb time: The US pauses to mark 10 years since the 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania which killed nearly 3,000. And another reminder that humanity is capable of the most deplorable acts of utter madness. One of the sons of the fugitive Libyan leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi, has arrived in neighbouring Niger. Niger's justice minister said Saadi Gaddafi had been in a convoy which was heading towards the capital, Niamey. Col Gaddafi's whereabouts are unknown. He has said he will die in Libya. Some of Col Gaddafi's family have fled to Algeria. Several convoys of former Gaddafi loyalists are also said to have streamed over Libya's southern border with Niger recently. It's all falling apart, and not before time. Doris Day has become the oldest artist to score a UK Top 10 with an album featuring new material, according to the Official Charts Company. Day's My Heart has gone in at number nine, 62 years after the 87-year-old's debut album was released in the US. My Heart is a selection of recordings produced by her son, Terry Melcher, before his death in 2004. In a career spanning more than 50 years, Day - Hollywood's "girl-next-door" - has appeared in 39 films and recorded 28 other albums. I remember thinking Doris was awesome when I was a kid. I think she played Calamity Jane... a cowboy with lipstick! Wow!

I favorited this pic on Red Bubble today. Cute, huh? Anyone who's ever owned a dog knows THAT look.

But back to Doris Day. She starred alongside Kirk Douglas in the 1950 movie A Young Man with a Horn. Hehe. Can you imagine a title like that today? Here's a radio interview I found on Youchewb with Doris talking about her new album.

I was just watching Tony Blair talking about the anniversary of 9/11. He compared fighting terrorism to the rise of Communism during the Cold War. "In the end, the reason why it crumbled was because we had a better idea than their idea." However, to my mind, the major problem with religious fundamentalism, and suicide bombers, is that no suicide bomber can come back and say, "It was all a load of shit. I blew myself up for nothing. No Allah, no paradise, and no 27 virgins." How the hell do you convince the loonies that they're wrong if you can't prove it? Religion exists because people are unwilling to accept their own mortality. They figure they are too important to die without being resurrected. It's all about ego - excessively high regard for one's own importance or station; conceit.

Imagine life without ego... no fashion industry, no jewellery, no hairdressers, no perfumes and deodorants, no class distinction, no Rolls Royces or Bentleys, no mansions... no religion.

Just back from my little walkies to Solomon's Fruit and Veg Market for vitamin C... strawberries and mandarins. Take that, you cancer bugs! On the way, I stopped for a wee chat to Paul the radiator repair man. There was a Toyota camper parked in his yard, a later model than mine - a Frontline conversion. But the van was similar. More modern dash and whatever but basically the same except the conversion was molded plastic instead of marine ply as mine is. I think mine looks better actually. Das Busse also has two extra side windows at the rear which give the interior more light and a feeling of extra spaciousness. The Frontline looked a bit cramped as well as dingy.

The doc's people called my people. :o) He managed to bring my appointment with the specialist forward to September 20. That's only one week away. And you know why, don't you. It means it's serious. Hehe. Eeeeek! The biopsy will come later at the local hospital, and will depend on when they can fit me in. After that, if the cancer is not benign (which seems likely), I'll probably be sent to Newcastle for weekly radiation therapy. Averil tells me there's a chemo therapy unit here in Taree but not radiation. She asked her nurse about it and the nurse said the hospital in Newcastle also has rooms available for overnight stays. Anyway, chemo makes your hair fall out. So there ya go... I wrote about my experience with the heart attack, now I'll be able to write about my experience with radiation therapy.

So that's it for another day, ladies and genitals. Oh, and the name of the specialist? Dr Smita Nag Aonkar. Yeah... hehe. Gary

September 11, 2011. Francois sent a few more French rockets up my tired old butt about procrastinating with the Odyssey. He says go go go! Well, that's easier said than done. But I can understand where he's coming from. He also had a battle with cancer and it took some years for him to recover. Then he realized how precious life was, and also how quickly it can pass, so he sold everything in France and moved to the Caribbean where he spent 7 wonderful years. Now, he's living in New Caledonia (where his daughter lives), and is having a wonderful time there. He's back in NC after having spent 6 weeks with a family he knows; they were on their boat and Francois on his, just fishing and having fun near one of the south west islands off NC. Check out the pics on his album. And keep in mind those pics were taken during winter.

Francois is basically telling me what a young backpacker from Sweden (holidaying in Oz) told me a few months ago: Do what you can while you can. I'm aware of that. However, it ain't that simple. Since my heart attack in 2002, I've been on medication... stuff I need to take twice a day to keep me alive. If I'd been at sea for six weeks, I'd be dead. Sounds a bit melodramatic but that's the way it is. And my financial situation? Close enough to $10K in the red. I need that much again to fix Das Busse.

There was a bloke interviewed on the film about fr Mychal Judge with whom I can readily identify. He was a successful man who ran outta luck and went down the tube. He was living on welfare... $200 a week, with no prospect of ever improving his pathetic situation. All his friends and former colleagues had deserted him. He was finished. One day he met fr Mychal Judge and told him his sad story. Mychal said, "My God (and he can he your God too if you like), in spite of all his wisdom and power, hasn't made tomorrow yet. Even he doesn't know what's gonna happen tomorrow. So who the fuck are you to say it's all over?" Hehe.

That's how it is with me. Any person, even with the most rudimentary math skills, would conclude that my dream of the Odyssey is a load of shit... useless wishful thinking... that I don't have the money nor the means... that it's impossible. Nonetheless, I hang onto that dream. 1) because it's all I have, and 2) because God hasn't made tomorrow yet.

Meanwhile, Dan wrote: The healthcare system is no better here in America either. I'm also on government assistance and I'm convinced they put us off for months like that because they're hoping we die before they haveta deal with us :P

Beeb time: The head of Libya's interim government, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has flown to Tripoli for the first time since anti-Gaddafi forces captured the capital. Mr Abdul Jalil was greeted by hundreds of cheering, flag-waving supporters. Until now he had remained in the eastern city of Benghazi. His presence in the capital is aimed at sending a message about his authority. BBC correspondents say he now faces big challenges as he tries to stabilise the country and form an effective national administration. Maybe so, but there's no turning back now. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will stick to its peace treaty with Egypt despite the attack on its embassy in Cairo. Yeah, can't afford to alienate Egypt as well as Turkey. The US prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with commemorations at the sites where the four hijacked airliners struck. Yep, kinda like the bombing of Pearl Harbor all over again. At least 187 people are killed, but 620 are rescued after a ship carrying at least 800 people sinks near the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar. Did I ever tell you how much I like dirt? That's where I like my feet to be... firmly planted on dirt. Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2011. From giant oval storms on the surface of Jupiter to colourful wispy remnants from a supernova explosion and the dazzling green curtain of the Northern Lights - nearly 800 images were submitted for the latest Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Take a look at some of the winning photos with two of the judges from the Royal Observatory Greenwich, public astronomer Marek Kukula and astronomy programmes manager Olivia Johnson. Hollywood actor Cliff Robertson has died at the age of 88. He played a young John F Kennedy in the biographical 1963 film PT-109 and won an Oscar in 1968 for his performance in Charly as a mentally disabled man. Never a top leading man, Robertson remained a popular actor from the mid-1950s onwards. His later roles included the kindly Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man movies. His secretary said he had died in New York state of natural causes. Yes, a familiar face. You tend to think these people never get old, but they do. Robertson died the day following his 88th birthday. A new polymer jelly could be the next big step forward for lithium batteries. The jelly replaces the volatile and hazardous liquid electrolyte currently used in most lithium batteries. Researchers from the University of Leeds hope their development leads to smaller, cheaper and safer gadgets. Once on the market, the lithium jelly batteries could allow lighter laptop computers, and more efficient electric cars. Isn't evolution wonderful? Always something new

How are some of those pics from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Awards? Pretty cool, yeah? Imagine that... all that gas and debris, exploding stars, dying stars and newborn stars, infinite space, billions of light years old. And here we are on this little speck watching it all happen. What's the bet no one out there has heard of Barack Obama, Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann? Or could give a damn if they had? Come to think of it, they probably couldn't give two hoots about Pope Benny either.

Bit cool and blowy today BUT the rest of the week looks good... clearing showers tomorrow and then fine for several days with temps in the low to mid 20s. That'll do. I do like my sunshine! So does Francois, and New Caledonia seems to have plenty of it. Pity Das Busse doesn't float.

My doc just sent an email. He's gonna phone the specialist tomorrow (Monday) and have my appointment brought forward. Once I have a date, I'll get my people to call your people. My people? I think my doc is cracking a joke. But anyway, he obviously thinks the biopsy should happen sooner rather than later. Frankly, I wish it didn't need to happen at all! But, ya gotta go with the flow, right? The bugs are out to get me. And this means war!

Lazy Sunday dinner tonight. Chicken & veg pies for Lindsay and me, and leftover bangers and fried eggs for Sue. They're happy with that, and so am I. Gary

September 10, 2011. TX Greg wrote and quoted something Cody said shortly after 9/11: "On the Cody’s Pad page I put a pic that TJ sent me of an eagle. You can grab it and use it if you want. I cried when I saw it."

Cody wrote me after he and Steph saw the news on telly. He asked me if the world had gone mad. I said, no, it hasn't gone mad, it's always been mad. He and Steph never made love that night. "How could you have sex after seeing something like that?"

My recollection is Lindsay saying, "Jeez, those terrorists are giving the Yanks a hard time." I had no idea what he was talking about because I hadn't heard the news at that stage. Sue said, "It was just a plane crashing into a hotel." She thought it was a movie. She still has no comprehension of the magnitude of that event or of its repercussions.

BTW, if you had trouble viewing the movie about Saint Mychal Judge (as I did because of copyright issues in Oz), Dan suggested I try Youtube, and it worked. I made time today to watch the whole thing and I'm glad I did. Mychal Judge was indeed a most remarkable man. I don't share his views on religion but what the hell... a good bloke is a good bloke. Thanks for the tip, Dan.

NC Art wrote: Why three months delay to do a biopsy when a malignancy is suspected? Sounds like Bush medicine of some sort. A biopsy takes five minutes, and evaluation should not take more than a few days. Including sending to a qualified laboratory. Anyway, sorry about this development.

It is bush medicine, Art. I live in the bush! It's also free medicine. I don't have private health insurance so I rely on Medicare, which means I'm in the queue with a bunch of other people waiting for elective surgery. However, the receptionist at the hospital (which is a private hospital just out of town) asked me to contact my doc. If he's not satisfied with the December 9 appointment he can request to have it brought forward. Mind you, that's just the appointment to see the specialist... not the surgery required for a biopsy. That comes later. How much later I dunno. And it's not a 5 minute op. The cancer is behind my front bottom teeth at the base of the gum, which is a difficult spot to reach, and will require full anaesthetic plus an overnight stay in hospital. But that's just for starters. If the biopsy proves malignant (which seems likely), then the closest place I can get treatment is Newcastle, about a 2 hour drive south. Whether I drive there and back, or move there, is yet to be decided. There's a daily train service but it's a hassle. Yes, it's all a pain in the butt, and one I could well do without.

BTW, as I drove around town yesterday, I parked outside the boot repairer's shop and had him check out Bluey. The strap that holds the engine hood aloft is pretty much the same as the one in Das Busse so that gave him a good idea of what the situation is. He's already found a strip of leather and was about to do the job, so I was just in the nick of time.

Beeb time: Protesters have broken into the building housing Israel's embassy in Egypt's capital, Cairo, entering consular offices, officials said. Police used tear gas and gunshots were heard nearby. Cairo airport officials said the ambassador was waiting for a flight out of the country. US President Barack Obama urged Egypt to protect the embassy after Israel asked Washington for help. The mission has seen protests amid a downturn in Egypt-Israel relations. As NC Art wrote the other day: Then there is the stange ways of foreign policy. Under the guise of humanitarian aid the U.S. was so grateful for Egypt's recognition of Israel that it amounted to a bribe for playing nice. That is not likely to last, and an incident has already occurred involving attacks from Egyptian territory. Apologies were made--this time. But if hard line Islamics gain more power in the New Egypt, what then? Anti-Gaddafi forces in Libya say they are close to capturing the town of Bani Walid, one of four towns still controlled by fighters loyal to the former leader. It's difficult to understand the meaning of "forces loyal to Gaddafi" unless they're as delusional as he is. Syrian protesters take to the streets in their thousands following Friday prayers, calling for international protection from the security forces. Where's Syria? Is that in the Middle East somewhere? Funny about that. The US secretary of state has warned that al-Qaeda is behind a credible threat to Americans in the run-up to the anniversary of 9/11. Hillary Clinton said there had been a "specific, credible but unconfirmed report" of an attempt to target New York and Washington DC. President Barack Obama is to visit New York and Washington on Sunday as the US marks 10 years since al-Qaeda attacked. Yeah, well you don't need to be too clever to figure that out. Feeding a supercomputer with news stories could help predict major world events, according to US research. A study, based on millions of articles, charted deteriorating national sentiment ahead of the recent revolutions in Libya and Egypt. While the analysis was carried out retrospectively, scientists say the same processes could be used to anticipate upcoming conflict. The system also picked up early clues about Osama Bin Laden's location. How interesting... an intelligent crystal ball. If humans can't learn anything from history, maybe a supercomputer can. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country will in future escort aid ships travelling to the Gaza Strip. Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mr Erdogan also said Turkey had taken steps to prevent Israel unilaterally exploiting natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean. He spoke amid a growing row over Israel's refusal to apologise for a deadly raid on an aid ship last year. Turkey has already cut military ties and expelled Israel's ambassador. It has also said it will challenge Israel's blockade of Gaza at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Relations between Turkey and Israel have worsened since Israeli forces boarded the Mavi Marmara aid ship in May last year as it was heading for Gaza. Nine Turkish activists were killed during the raid. Israel has refused to apologise and said its troops acted in self-defence. How do you spell isolation? Tony Blair has blamed Iranian intervention for prolonging conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Regime change in Tehran would make him "significantly more optimistic" about the region's prospects, the former prime minister told The Times. He also said Syrian president Bashar al Assad's position was "untenable". Ahead of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Mr Blair told the Daily Mirror defeating radical Islamic terrorism would take "a generation of effort". Mr Blair, who was PM when the attack took place and is the current Middle East envoy for "the Quartet" which is made up of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States, said the number of radical Muslims had been underestimated. You can say that again, Ollie. Hopefully, we've learned our lesson.

Just posted the Loo with Kombi pic on Red Bubble.

The bloke the other day who wrote to say he booked himself into hospital because of his depression after reading the Cody and Steve stories is okay now. He takes medication for back pain, and stopped cold turkey. The medication also happens to be a mood stabilzer that should not be stopped abruptly. So there ya go. He's fine now, and will focus on getting his balance together. All's well that ends well.

Ya know, when we lose someone special, it's natural to be sad, and to grieve. But we must also remember to be thankful for having known that person, and for having our lives enriched as a result. Would my life have been better if I'd been spared the sorrow of Cody's death? The answer is definitely NO. I never owned Cody, but I own everything he gave me.

And now, ladies and genitals, it's THAT time again. Fillet steak and onions for THEM and probably something junky for me... maybe spring rolls and Indian pastries with a bit of sweet chilli sauce. Gary

September 9, 2011. NC Art told me the story of an old bloke who was pulled over by a cop at 1am for driving erratically. The cop asked the bloke where he was going, and the bloke said he was on his way to a lecture about the evils of alcohol. "At 1am? Who on earth would lecture about the evils of alcohol at 1 o'clock in the morning?" asked the cop. The bloke answered, "My wife."

Wet and dreary today, and I have an appointment to see the doc at 12:30. I feel like canceling it but that wouldn't do any good. Procrastination never does. Meanwhile, all the little baby birdies in the trees will be wondering what the hell's going on as they sit in their drenched nests waiting for mom and dad to bring home the worms.

Oregon Richie is caring for a friend's puddy tat for two weeks, so now he's got a kitty litter tray in the bathroom. Ew! My ex neighbors in Glebe had a cat and a tray in the loo. Every time I went in there for a pee, I could smell the cat's doings. I guess if it's your own cat you can handle it, but IT WASN'T MY CAT. I soon discovered that holding one's breath for the length of time it takes to pee is impossible. Back in the early '70s I shared a flat with a girlfriend who had a male cat that wasn't de-sexed. Ugh. Every time we arrived home after work on a hot summer's day, the place smelled putrid. The cat's favorite peeing place was under the TV. I was almost asphyxiated on a daily basis but my girlfriend, despite having a hooter that made Barbara Streisand's look petite, couldn't smell it... or so she said. Anyway, one day the cat disappeared. The flat was a penthouse on the top floor. Hehe. No, no, no, I didn't... but my girlfriend remained adamant that I'd given the cat a flying lesson.

Better do a Beeb before I see the doc. US President Barack Obama has urged lawmakers to back his ambitious proposals aimed at creating more jobs and cutting taxes. In a rare address to a joint session of Congress, Mr Obama said his American Jobs Act would help boost the flagging US economy. He urged both Democrats and Republicans to pass the plan - worth more than $400bn (£250bn) - "right away". Republican opponents have described the bill as Mr Obama's re-election plan. Well, of course it is. Getting the economy back on track is any president's number one priority. What do the republicans expect? The republicans don't want Obama to serve a second term, no matter what. And that worries me. The US Department of Homeland Security is warning of a "credible threat" of a terror strike in advance of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Giving no specific details, a statement said: "It's accurate that there is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information." US TV network ABC News is reporting that three individuals - one a US citizen - entered the country in August with the intent of carrying out a terror attack inside the US, but the report remains unconfirmed. Officials noted that documents seized during the raid of Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound in May showed the al-Qaeda leader was considering strikes to coincide with the anniversary. Yep. That kinda threat is now a permanent fact of life. The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan has admitted it mistakenly killed BBC reporter Ahmed Omed Khpulwak in July. Isaf said a US soldier mistook the Pashto service journalist for an insurgent when troops responded to a militant attack in the town of Tarin Kowt in southern Uruzgan province. Director of BBC Global News Peter Horrocks said: "Ahmed Omed's death further highlights the great dangers facing journalists who put their lives on the line to provide vital news from around the world. It is essential that journalists are given the best possible protection whilst reporting in dangerous situations so that the world can hear their stories. Another fact of life, tragic though it may be. Scientists have shown that the Earth's surface became enriched with precious metals by impacting meteorites. The Earth's crust and mantle has considerably more gold than expected from favoured models of planetary formation. A study from the University of Bristol looked at some of the oldest rocks on Earth, demonstrating that gold was delivered by meteorites long after their formation. A most interesting article. A homeowner in southern Sweden got a shock when he found a drunken elk stuck in his neighbour's apple tree. The moose was apparently on the hunt for fermenting apples when she lost her balance and became trapped in the tree. Per Johansson, from Saro near Gothenburg, found the elk making a roaring noise in the garden next door. He called the emergency services, who helped him free the boozed-up beast by sawing off branches. She spent the night recovering in the garden. The next day she took herself off into the woods with her hangover. Drunken elk are not an uncommon sight in Sweden during autumn, when there are plenty of apples about. Ah! So that might explain why God warned Eve about eating apples! Nearly 100,000 people in the north-eastern US have been given orders to evacuate areas around the Susquehanna River after torrential downpours. Squalls from Tropical Storm Lee drenched New York and Pennsylvania and pushed river levels dangerously high. That's about five times the population of lil ole Taree.

Well, I just found out that Jim Angel, a radio newsreader I remember from my early days in radio, and right through to the early noughties, died of a stroke back in 2007 aged 67. He was very much a straight newsreader, which is why John Laws, morning presenter, couldn't resist interrupting his bulletins and having a bit of fun. Scroll down the page a bit and you'll see a little link to an audio grab. It's a classic, and a wonderful way to remember good ol' unflappable Jim.

Back from the doc. He referred me to a specialist at a local private hospital to take a biopsy of the cancer in my mouth. The appointment is for December 9. He said it might be benign but agreed with me that it's probably not. If that proves to be the case, treatment will only be available at John Hunter hospital in Newcastle, which would necessitate my moving there. It's about 2 hours south of here, half way between Taree and Sydney. That's where my younger bro had his bladder cancer treated with radiation therapy. Soooooo, ladies and genitals, that kinda changes the game plan a wee bit hehe. I said to the doc, "Just think about all the money you'll miss out on if I conk out." And he started talking about how I'll be remembered as a nice bloke, etc, before he realized what he was doing and said, "No, we won't start eulogizing just yet..." And I agreed... it's a tad early. By the way, he didn't charge me for the visit. 

If you'd like to know more about Saint Mychal Judge, Victim 0001 casualty of 9/11, the priest mentioned on Justin's blog yesterday, here's a link to a film about the man and his work. Because of copyright issues, it's not available for viewing in Oz. Pity.

Just took a look at rentals in Newcastle. Not cheap! Anyway, I won't know until December what the result of the biopsy is so, depending on the outcome, I'll attend to the matter then. As the doc said, any treatment required will depend on how far the cancer has spread. Meanwhile, it seems Aussie Odyssey is on hold. Gary

September 8, 2011. Those bangers and mash and peas and gravy and onions last night were pretty damn good. It's called "home style" cooking. But there's an art to it. Timing is everything. All 5 components have to be ready at the same time and served while hot. That's easier said than done ya know. 

My bill from Comcen (my ISP) was a little higher this month. I checked and discovered that they re-registered Aussie Odyssey on my behalf for another 2 years. Which reminds me, I've almost used the 1 gig of space I have so I'll have to increase it. ....Just off the phone to Comcen. Guess what? They have a new set of charges for web hosting that are cheaper than the previous... and it's only just happened. Soooo, I've upgraded Aussie Odyssey from 1 gig to 2 gigs and I'm paying about $15 a month less! How's that for a nice little surprise? I've been with Comcen since 1997 when I met Cody - 14 years ago. They were a fledgling company back then with a handful of employees. These days they're one of the top 10. When I first got MrB happening in 1999, they sent me a postcard congratulating me on my success and didn't charge me for about 3 months to help me get established. They were the days I was frantically trying to learn web mastering, HTML and all that baloney.

BTW, I forgot to post a link sent by Ormond Beach Dave the other day: Thought this might interest you. This "paddle-out" was held in memory of local high school teacher killed in surfing accident during or after the effects of Hurricane Irene recently. Reminded me of the ceremony for Cody some 10 years ago.

Well, Cody's ceremony was more modest... attended by his dad and a few close friends, but it was just as moving. I'll never forget it. I'll never forget this either.

Oops! It's after 4 already... too much yakking to Averil after shopping. Beeb time: Libya's fugitive leader Muammar Gaddafi has dismissed as lies and psychological warfare the speculation that he has fled south to neighbouring Niger. The comments, made in a telephone call to a Syrian TV channel, apparently came from inside Libya. Col Gaddafi also promised his forces would defeat Nato and the National Transitional Council (NTC). Earlier, Niger said it was considering how to deal with him if he decided to enter the country to seek refuge. Let me say it again... delusional. Russia and the world of ice hockey are mourning the deaths of 36 players and officials from the major league team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in a plane crash. World ice hockey chief Rene Fasel said the crash in Yaroslavl was "the darkest day in the history of our sport". The Yak-42 plane came down shortly after take off on Wednesday from the Russian city and burst into flames. In all, 43 people - including top Russian and European players - died in the accident. Only two people survived. The world's safest mode of transport. But when something goes wrong, it goes terribly wrong. Rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 have faced off in a debate at the Reagan Presidential Library in California. Texas Governor Rick Perry, new to the debate cast, sparred with ex-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney over their records on job-creation. The debate is one of three scheduled in the coming weeks, and analysts say the Republican field is likely to thin out in the coming months. The 2012 primary season is not expected to begin until February. The world will be watching. Ninety-one people, including doctors and nurses, are charged with making fraudulent US Medicare claims totalling $295m (£185m), officials say. Not surprising. Silly people sucked in by what they figured was an easy buck. Nasa does not have enough astronauts, even though the space shuttle programme has ended, a report says. The National Research Council, a non-profit group advising on science policy, said Nasa should increase the size of its space-flying crew. It said astronauts were needed to staff the International Space Station (ISS) and pave the way for new exploration. American astronauts currently have to travel on Russian spacecraft in order to reach the ISS. Imagine if JFK were alive today and read that. Australia's unemployment rate rose unexpectedly to a 10-month high in August. Joblessness jumped to 5.3% from 5.1% in July, according to the country's statistical bureau. The Australian dollar fell half a cent against the US dollar after the figures were released. Barack would kill for an unemployment figure like that

Justin has posted a story about the Saint of 9/11. His body was tagged with the designation "Victim 0001" as the first official casualty of 9/11. Many believe the priest deserves to be beatified but the Roman Catholic Church has turned its back on initiating the process because he was gay.

Well, that's all I have time for today, ladies and genitals. Din dins time. Chicken meatloaf (on spesh for half price at Eddys) and roast spuds. Gary

September 7, 2011. Lindsay has this habit of yawning before he retires to the bedroom after breakfast. It's to let me know that he needs a bit of a lie down and that it has nothing to do with wanting to bonk Sue. Yeah right. He's out again in half an hour. He also specializes in parting shots; making a barbed comment as he walks out of the room. But I discovered on Letters and Numbers last night (a game show I like to watch) that "parting shot" is actually a mispronunciation of "Parthian shot". The Parthians were an empire in Western Asia millennia ago whose horsemen had a remarkable technique of firing arrows over their shoulders as they retreated from battle (or pretended to). The enemy would assume they were victorious, only to be on the receiving end of a shower of arrows. So they were called Parthian shots

I'm sure Lindsay has developed this technique because he stutters under pressure. He figures a Parthian shot gives him the last word as he leaves the room. Most of the time I ignore him but on a couple of occasions I've followed him and confronted him. When that happens, he backs off and stutters an apology. Hehe.

Meanwhile, NC Art wrote: Yesterday I ran across a story clipped--purportedly--from a Brazilian news source. A 16-year-old lad had died after a non-stop all night masturbating marathon. I became right skeptical when the exact number of orgasms was recorded at 42. His mother said she knew her lad was sex-obsessed because his brother told her, and she had made an appointment with a counselor, but too late. My disbelief rises from the question of who was counting orgasms and why the boy was not tied down and whether such a feat is physically possible, etc. Any thoughts?

Yep... same as yours, Art. A load of old codswallop.

That hostage drama in Parramatta yesterday ended peacefully with a man (allegedly the hostage's father) being arrested, and the 12 year old girl released unharmed. As I suspected, it was a custody case.

Beeb time: Col Muammar Gaddafi's security chief is among several former Libyan officials who have arrived in the capital of Niger, Niamey, officials there say. They say the man, Mansour Daw, entered the country on Sunday and travelled via the desert city of Agadez. Meanwhile, a convoy said to be carrying dozens of heavily armed Gaddafi loyalists as well as gold and cash, has also crossed the border. Niger officials say Col Gaddafi is not believed to be travelling with it. A senior rebel military commander said that he believed Col Gaddafi was still in Libya, but heading away from areas which have seen fighting. "We have it from many sources that he's trying to go further south, towards Chad or Niger," Hisham Buhagiar said in an interview with Reuters news agency. The former Libyan leader has vowed to fight to the death, even though he has lost control of most of the country. Gaddafi won control of Libya by leading a coup, and now he's bitching about someone else doing the same thing. A gunman wielding an AK-47 assault rifle has killed three people at a pancake restaurant in the Nevada state capital Carson City, officials say. Seven others were wounded in the attack at the International House of Pancakes chain at 09:00 (16:00 GMT). Two of the three people killed were National Guardsmen in uniform, with several other Guards injured. The suspect, named by police as Eduardo Sencion, 32, then shot himself and died later at a hospital in Reno. Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong said Sencion had no known connection to the military and no known reason to attack the National Guard. Lunatics are bad enough but lunatics with guns are far worse. I hate guns. Dozens of wildfires raging in rain-starved Texas are now reported to have engulfed more than 1,000 homes. The biggest of the blazes - 16 miles (26km) wide - in rural Bastrop County, is burning out of control for a third day, having destroyed 600 homes. Two people were reported to have died in the Bastrop blaze, a local sheriff said, amid hopes for calmer winds to help control the fires. Texas has been suffering its worst drought since the 1950s. I saw one guy on TV last night who had just returned home from serving 12 months in Afghanistan to see his home burned to the ground. God works in mysterious ways, yeah? A giant saltwater crocodile weighing more than a tonne has been captured in a remote southern Philippine village following a series of attacks on humans and animals, officials said. Measuring 6.4m (21ft) and weighing 1,075kg (2,370lb), it is the biggest to be caught alive in the Philippines in recent years. It may also be the biggest specimen ever captured, officials said. Saltwater crocodiles can live for more than 100 years and grow to 23ft (7m). Now that, ladies and genitals, is one helluva big lizard. Check the video here. US President Barack Obama has used a Labor Day address to a lively, sympathetic crowd to call on his rivals to back his plans for job creation. "We just need to get Congress on board," he told supporters in Detroit, Michigan, saying labour and business were already behind his plans. Putting the ball in Congress's court. Not silly. Australian police have ended an 11-hour hostage drama by storming a law office where a man claimed he had a bomb in his backpack. The man made the threat after walking into the office in Sydney's Parramatta suburb with his 12-year-old daughter. But police moved in after talks with the man broke down, charging into the building using a battering ram. The girl ran out of the building in tears and was taken to hospital for a check-up. The man has been arrested. The old battering ram trick. Never fails. Australia's economy grows 1.2% in the June quarter, rebounding from a contraction during the first three months of the year. So far, so good

Back from walkies, and a beer at the pub. I got chatting with the bartender (who me?) and talked about all kinds of things, including the hostage crisis at Parramatta yesterday. She said she could understand the guy going mental over the custody dispute because so many mothers make access difficult for fathers even if they're entitled to it. Then we chatted about the gunman in Nevada who killed 3 people before shooting himself. "He shoulda shot himself first," reasoned the bartender. Hehe. How sensible. That's female logic for ya. She was a hoot, actually... and has some sort of supervisory role with young army cadets on camp. I got the impression she's one tough lady when it comes to keeping kids in line (not to mention doting parents).

Anyway, it's been a lovely day weatherwise... ideal camping weather, yeah? And now it's time to throw on the chef hat. Bangers and mash, with peas, onions and gravy. Not just ordinary bangers, mind you, no, no, no... tomato and onion flavored. The reason I smother them in onions and gravy is so I can't see what's in 'em. AND I DON'T WANNA KNOW! Gary

September 6, 2011. On the subject of alligators and crocodiles, Ohio Jace wrote: From waffle: According to wiki the American crocodile does not live in the Carolinas so that is indeed an Alligator crossing the walking path in the Red Bubble pic. Alligators can live in water as cold as 45 degrees F while the crocodile would drown at that temp so they are restricted to extreme southern Florida in the U.S. and Central America and northwestern South America. As well as the west coast of Mexico and the Yucatan.

Here in Oz we have two kinds of crocodile... fresh and salt water. The salty is the mean one, and can grow up to 18 feet long. By the same token, I don't think I'd wanna mess around with a freshy either. Some time ago I read about a python in Florida whose eyes were bigger than its tummy. It tried to swallow an alligator whole and they both died. How gross!

Jace loves all that nature stuff, and is always on the lookout for new discoveries: Scientists have found several new species. Where? The human navel. According to a brief side bite on the local news anyway. Also found were species not normally associated with humans. One found was the bacteria that causes foot odor.

I remember one visitor to my little house in Glebe who took off his shoes. They were so putrid I had to get him to put them outside in the courtyard. Jeez, talk about stench! By the way, I always give my navel a good wash when I shower. I suspect Jace is referring to innies rather than outies. Bugs prefer moist, warm hiding places.

And speaking of my little house in Glebe, my ex-neighbor tells me the 1880 Victorian 2-bed terrace across the road, which sold recently for about $730K, is now undergoing renovation and is expected to sell for $1.2 to $1.3m. It was a mess and hadn't been touched since 1952. It was owned by a couple of Polish guys whose English was minimal. They kept pretty much to themselves, although one of them did offer me a can of beer one Christmas.

Good ol' Stan the Lawn Man. I knew he could loosen the support-strap screw that holds the raised engine hood in place in Das Busse. All I had to do was give him the big sob story about what a wuss I am and he would instinctively leap to the rescue of a damsel in distress. He buggerized around for ages with that thing, but was determined to win the challenge hehe. He cut his finger in the process and bitched about me being totally useless but he finally got the job done. So now all I have to do is go to the boot repairer and have a new leather strap made and stitched. I used a piece of string to measure the length. Women use that trick all the time... tell a butch bloke how useless you are and he can't wait to show you how clever he is.

Back from the boot repairer. He looked a bit puzzled as I described the situation and what I needed, but I think he got the general idea. It seems I've waisted my dollar on the Vinnies belt though... it's vinyl and has an alloy buckle, neither of which is strong enough to hold the weight of the engine hood + seats. The Booty is booked up for a week soooo... we'll see what he comes up with.

Beeb time: US President Barack Obama has used a Labor Day address to a lively, sympathetic crowd to call on his rivals to back his plans for job creation. "We just need to get Congress on board," he told supporters in Detroit, Michigan, saying labour and business were already behind his plans. On Thursday, Mr Obama will use an address to a joint session of Congress to set out job-growth strategy. Here's what Justin has to say about the situation on his Dunes blog: Is it "officially" the campaign season for political office yet?  It seems to this student of life that we never finish anything any more. . we elect a president upon whom the losers immediately declare open war AND then spend all their time and energies to be sure he is not re-elected to a second term. . . .to be sure he fails at anything and everything. . . [matter of public record from the losers ]. Firefighters in drought-stricken Texas are struggling to contain a 16-mile-wide (26-km) wildfire that has destroyed almost 500 homes. Officials said the fire had "grown considerably" on Monday and was now burning on 25,000 acres (10,000 ha). Texas Governor Rick Perry cut short presidential campaigning, and said the next 48 to 72 hours would be "crucial". Scores of fires are burning across Texas, which has been hit by high winds generated by Tropical Storm Lee. Recent fires across Texas have burned 3.5 million acres, Mr Perry said, adding: "That's roughly the size of Connecticut." If you use the same kind of logic that Perry uses in his anti-gay propaganda, you would say that God is punishing Perry for running for president. Hehe. What's good for the goose... UK Prime Minister David Cameron says claims intelligence service MI6 was involved in the rendition of Libyan terror suspects will be investigated. And so it should be. A man with a suspicious backpack - possibly a bomb - is holding a child at a courthouse in a suburb of Sydney in Australia, local media say. Police have sealed off the area in Parramatta, with one official saying that there is "a hostage situation". Some reports say the man is holding his 11-year-old daughter. Details of the incident remain sketchy. Hopefully, by the time you read this the situation will have been resolved without harm to the child. Pakistan's army says it has arrested a man it describes as a senior al-Qaeda leader and two of his accomplices. Younis al-Mauritani planned and executed international operations for the global terror network, the military said in a statement. The White House praised the capture - reportedly the result of co-operation between US and Pakistani intelligence. Another one down. Seems like the tide is turning at long last. Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong says he was asked to leave a plane he was travelling on in California for not pulling up his trousers. The singer, 39, tweeted to say: "Just got kicked off a Southwest flight because my pants sagged too low!" Southwest Airlines has apologised to Billie Joe Armstrong. Oh well, that's showbiz, and Billie should be grateful for the free publicity

It's 5pm now and still no update as yet about the hostage drama at Parramatta. Sounds like a custody case where the father is pissed off with a court decision about his daughter. At one stage he appeared at a window shirtless, wearing a judge's wig. He removed the wig and spat on it. So he thinks that's gonna reverse the judge's decision and award him custody of his child? Sheesh. Meanwhile, it's time to do the domestics. Gary

September 5, 2011. Got an email from my mate Greg Somers with pics of the Nindigully historic pub in the Queensland outback, so I thought I'd get a few more pics from the net and post an album. Thanks, Greg.

Meanwhile, I have no idea why TX Greg sent me this graphic, but he did. I hadn't realized kookaburra sanctuaries existed. It's not like the old laughing kooka is a threatened species. There are probably more of those buggers than us! Greg also mentioned yesterday's story about the guy who was depressed. Was sad to hear his story but thankfull that he realized he needed help, too many don't. Yes, Cody and Paul almost went through the same thing. And Steve was pretty close at times as well. NC Art had this to say: I do hope the depressed bloke gets the help he needs and determines to help himself thereafter. Some of us find ways to cope--such as after the loss of a wife or lover. I find that rage at the stupidity, bigotry and hypocrisy of politicians keeps me going every day. In my case, I dunno what I'd do without the internet. It keeps me occupied and in touch, and it's the perfect outlet for a bloke who can't keep his trap shut. Oregon Richie also knows a thing or two about depression: Many years ago I was in a staggering sense of clinical and serious depression along with my alcoholism that DID in fact require forced hospitalization so I can understand that, too.

Yep, ya gotta watch those bloody demons. Give 'em and inch and they'll take a mile. Actually, the thing to remember about demons is that they don't exist outside of our own heads.

NC Art also tells me that Several states have passed stringent laws banning "saggy pants" in public. I thought of Wingnut gloriously showing his butt crack for the girls--and guys--whenever possible. Hehe. What party poopers! I think a bit of ass crack is titillating... provided the titillator has the wherewithall to titillate. Hehe. It doesn't always work ya know. Wingnut had it... in abundance. "Can I help it if all the chicks want a piece of me?" he once said to Steve. And it wasn't only the chicks. Here's the "official" view. The problem with "if you got it, flaunt it" is that some flaunters don't realize they ain't got it. Ew!

All this butt business reminds me of a photograph I favorited on Red Bubble some time ago.

Have you heard of Gabriel Iglesias? It's about time you did.

Anyway, the reason I was fooling around on Youchewb was cos I was looking for a clip of saggy pants. While there, I also saw a vid called Saggin Spells Niggas (backwards), with all kinds of references to how the Bible condemns exposed buttocks and how that kind of behavior can lead to... OMG... homosexuality! The two fire and brimstone bashers were African Americans quoting passages from a book written by men from the Middle East, where everyone is as pure as the driven snow. Meanwhile, the African Americans have conveniently forgotten that their ancestors at the time of Christ and beyond were running around buck naked. Wall to wall butts! Why is it, dear Breth, that people insist on being so dumb?

Beeb time: Anti-Gaddafi forces surrounding the Gaddafi-held town of Bani Walid say talks with the loyalist side have failed, so military options will be considered. Loyalists or fuckwits? Or should that be loyalists and fuckwits? Uruguay recalls five of its peacekeepers from Haiti, following allegations they took part in the sexual assault of a Haitian teenage boy. Yes, folks, it's a sad day when a kid can't trust his protectors. Japanese rescue workers resume the search for dozens missing after Typhoon Talas swept through west Japan, killing at least 26 people. Sometimes I wonder if lil ole Taree is on the same planet. Ex-French President Jacques Chirac is due to go on trial on corruption charges, but claims that his memory is failing cast doubt on the case. Case? What case? And who's Jacques Chirac? US President Barack Obama has promised federal aid to east coast areas struck by Hurricane Irene, during a tour of the badly-hit state of New Jersey. Mr Obama said the government would "meet our federal obligations" by doing everything necessary to help communities rebuild. Hurricane Irene caused an estimated $10bn (£6bn) worth of damage. No biggie. Barack is used to dealing with trillions. Toyota is planning to manufacture key components for its hybrid cars outside Japan for the first time, in a bid to boost sales. It will start making parts at its research and development facility in China to cater to growing demand from the mainland. China is one of the world's biggest polluters but sales of hybrid vehicles are expected to grow steadily in coming years. Henry and Carl had not the faintest idea of what they were starting back in the late 1800s. A lost emperor penguin who washed up on a New Zealand beach in June has been released back into the Southern Ocean to begin its swim home to Antarctica. Nicknamed Happy Feet, he was released from the research vessel Tangaroa on Sunday morning about 50 miles (80km) north of the remote Campbell Island. Yes, I watched the release on TV news and I thought, "There ya go, released back into the food chain. Good luck with the swim!" 

Back from my daily walkies and I'm here to tellya that it's gonna take a few more of those to get back into shape (if shape is the right word). The old legs and buns were in a sorry state when I got home hehe. Oh well... Gary

September 4, 2011. I won another small prize in Lotto again... $13.75. Added to what's left over from last week's win, it's enough to get free tickets for another 2 weeks! That's a whole month's worth of free tickets. Can't complain about that.

Another lovely spring day.... a bit fresh in the morning but gorgeous thereafter. A bit like me, actually. NC Art reckons Comedy is hard work, and few comedians get a laugh from their brothers in the trade. Jack Benny was an exception; the guy's sense of timing sometimes broke up a room full of wits.

True, true, true. I'd never have the guts to do standup. It would be like standing in front of a firing squad, trying to convince them not to shoot. And I think the reason some comedians find their brothers not so funny is because they are aware of the techniques. If you can tell where a joke is headed before the punch line arrives, the joke falls flat. It's a similar situation with actors. If an actor appears to be acting then it doesn't work.

I suppose a writer is faced with the same kinda challenge. When I wrote Green Room I wanted readers to fall in love with the characters, not me.

Speaking of writing, a bloke wrote me recently to say he had read the Green Room stories and was depressed because his life hadn't panned out that way. He felt suicidal because at 52 and gay, life had passed him by. He said he didn't know whether to thank me or curse me for having written those stories. 

I was in crisis before I started reading about Cody's circle. I have been on a real rollercoaster ride since then. I am way down at the bottom of the slide atm. I know that you do not need hear the whining of an old frustrated queen. No one I talk to can really understand the depth of my feelings for someone I met ten years after his death. I do not know where I am bound or how to get there. Yesterday I was at the top of the peak looking down at all the possibilities. I was looking to take Cody's lessons and make the changes in my life, health and romance to find that reason to live. I when to the local bath to find some action and it was not only very slow but the vibe was just all wrong to me. I came home and finished reading Steve. Suddenly out of the blue I was struggling with a downward plunge that for the first time since my teenage world I was looking at putting an end to it all. I am not exactly over that now. I do not believe I am a selfish person but I was so suddenly jealous of what those friends shared. I covet the intense relationships Cody had! I feel like snail snot being envious of a young man who didn't live long enough to see adulthood. I know many widowers and divorcee's that go on to have other relationships. I never have had long relationship. The longest relation ship I have ever had was with my fiance back when I was twenty five. I never did get over her all that well. All my relations since then were with men but the longest I had there was 6 months. My current work is not coming along well and is not fulfilling. I have not pursued acting as I schooled for and i am finding it very hard to find a reason to go! I have 4 sisters and we are close and I love them and their kids but being an uncle is not enough. If I do not find someone to make a life with I well....

So I replied thus: Well, if you spend all your time thinking about what you don't have in life, you'll be miserable. Cody and Paul once decided that suicide was the only solution, only to discover at the last possible moment that it wasn't... and both went on to enjoy life.

I don't understand all this business about knowing what's in store or how to get there. Who the hell reads a book backwards? You read one page at a time... forwards. There are all kinds of reasons why I should be miserable so I don't think about them. Why should I? Should I be unhappy because I can't surf like Cody did? I think the most important lesson I learned from Cody was to be happy because HE was happy. You get back what you give out ya know.

You love your four sisters and their kids but being an uncle is not enough? So the answer is to stop being an uncle? Don't gimme that shit. You have more than I do so stop feeling sorry for yourself and start focusing on the happiness of others. If you give happiness, you'll get it back. Simple as that.

A little while ago I received this email: Hello, this is Xxxx's sister.  He asked me to send a message to you and let you know that he checked himself into the hospital for his depression.  I can relay messages, if you like.  I will be checking his email over the next couple days.

And I replied: Yes, that makes sense... depression. If it's clinical it needs medical attention, so he did the wise thing and checked himself into hospital. Tell him I wish him a speedy recovery and more importantly a PERMANENT one. We can all fall into the trap of feeling sorry for ourselves from time to time, but we must never allow those negative thoughts to take control.

Kinda reminds me of the way I sometimes treated Steve during his depression periods... not too subtely hehe. But it worked. Basically, don't come to me looking for sympathy cos I'm not very good at giving it.

Beeb time: US and UK spy agencies built close ties with their Libyan counterparts during the so-called War on Terror, according to documents discovered at the office of Col Gaddafi's former spy chief. The papers suggest the CIA abducted several suspected militants from 2002 to 2004 and handed them to Tripoli. The UK's MI6 also apparently gave the Gaddafi regime details of dissidents. The documents, found by Human Rights Watch workers, have not been seen by the BBC or independently verified. How's that for an interesting twist? It seems that Gaddafi wasn't the only crook, and that he had support from the west. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis again take to the streets in mass protests in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa over the high cost of living. Too many Shylocks demanding their pound of flesh, I suppose. Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn has left the US and is expected back in France, after the sex assault case against him collapsed. But some of the mud will stick, I suspect. The Vatican has rejected claims by Irish PM Enda Kenny that it sabotaged efforts by Irish bishops to report child-molesting priests to police. It follows the damning Cloyne Report that showed how allegations of clerical sex-abuse in Cork had been covered up. In a speech to parliament in July, Mr Kenny accused the Church of putting its reputation ahead of abuse victims. The Vatican said it was "sorry and ashamed" over the scandal but said his claims were "unfounded". So who's gonna sack the Vatican or vote it out of office? It's a law unto itself. Russia has condemned the EU's move to step up sanctions on Syria by banning imports of its oil, amid ongoing protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the sanctions would "lead to nothing good". I get the impression that Russia opposes the west just for the sake of being difficult. A Brazilian Indian who celebrates her birthday on Saturday may be the oldest woman in the world - and by some distance. Maria Lucimar Pereira, a member of the Kaxinawa tribe, is 121 years old, says a tribal rights group. It says she has a birth certificate showing she was born in 1890. Maria puts her longevity down to a healthy lifestyle, Survival International said - with regular dishes including grilled meat, monkey, fish, the root vegetable manioc and banana porridge, and no salt, sugar or processed foods. Ew! In that case, I've got Buckley's of getting anywhere near that age. I wonder if NC Art's diet includes monkey and banana porridge.

Back from shopping, and bumping into Josh and his mom Stephanie at the Mall. He turned 20 last August. I hardly recognized him. "Is that you?" I asked. He's filled out in the arms and chest, and was wearing a tank top. The cute little boy looks have gone and he's becoming a man, as well as looking more Aboriginal. "You're supposed to be respectable now," I said. "You're a teacher." Hehe. Anyway, it was good to see him again

The other day there was a news story about an alligator attacking a 90 y/o woman. Today, I spotted a pic on Red Bubble taken by a person walking through Huntington State Park in South Carolina. One of the wild monsters crossed the path just a few feet in front, and the person had the presence of mind to take a photo. Then I read some of the comments and the photographer said, Yes was a bit scarey but worth it. Actually 22 of them crossed that day right in front of us. There were about 10 of us taking pics. Hello? 22? Sheesh! Actually, I'm wondering if that's a crocodile because of the long snout. I thought alligators had a shorter stubbier snout.

And there goes another day, ladies and genitals. Tomorrow's the start of a new week. Same town, same people, same routine, but a new week. Lemme think about that a bit more. Gary

September 3, 2011. Satdee. AGAIN! Three score and ten sounds like a lot when you're a kid. Trust me. It ain't.

I watched a vid of a comedian on Youchewb this morning whom I thought was about as funny as a train wreck. He peppered his delivery with profanity, the usual references to genitals and excrement, which I find pretty tedious. There's nothing clever about that. Drunks staggering home from the pub at 3am use the same language. However, he did make one interesting point. He said if you live a bad life cheating, stealing, lying, beating up on people and behaving in a generally despicable manner, and you get sent to hell, why would the devil wanna punish you? Hehe. "You're his kinda guy!" He also wondered why there wasn't an alternative to the Bible, the devil's version of events.

I think critics of religion often miss the point. It's like being critical of insurance companies. If you're anti insurance, what do you have to sell? Nothing. What is the purpose of being anti religion? What does an athiest have to gain by convincing the world there is no God? What can an athiest offer people by proving that when they're dead, that's it, they're dead? It's all over, finito, kaputski? Religion will always win the argument because it has something to SELL. "What's in it for me?" That's what people wanna know.

Anyway, this so-called comedian Jim Jefferies strikes me as the kinda bloke who gets pleasure from raining on other people's parades. It's one thing to tell a kid there's no Santa Claus but it's quite another to tell him he's a fuckwit for believing there is. 

NC Art thought the Ronnie Barker stuff was great... silly but always good for a laugh. I agree, and here's what I wrote Oregon Richie this morning: I'm amazed at how Ronnie Barker managed to stay so composed when he was doing those ridiculously absurd skits about spoonerisms and mispronunciations hehe. But that was the secret to his humor... looking all very stiff upper lipped and terribly British while behaving like a lunatic.

Beeb time: Libya's new leaders say they are beginning the process of restoring order in Tripoli and will encourage fighters to return to their homes. Yep, the party's over, boys. Time to surrender the weapons and go home. Turkey expels Israel's ambassador and suspends all military agreements over Israel's refusal to apologise for the raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla. Ya know, if Israel insists on being difficult with all its neighbors, people are gonna start wondering if Hitler had a point. The US economy added no net new jobs in August, and unemployment was unchanged at 9.1%, according to much-worse-than-expected figures from the Department of Labor. Take another aspirin, Barack. Wikileaks' media partners have strongly criticised the whistleblower group's decision to release its entire archive of US cables uncensored. Wikileaks says all 251,287 of the leaked diplomatic cables are now online in a searchable format. Well, it'll all come out in the wash. The only thing to do now is wait and see what happens. News International boss James Murdoch has declined a $6m (£3.7m) bonus, citing the "current controversy" over phone hacking at the News of the World. His father, News Corp boss Rupert, received a $12.5m (£7.7) bonus. His total remuneration for the year to 30 June was $33.3m (£20.5m), up 47%. James Murdoch saw his pay packet rise 74% to $17m, but said declining the bonus was the "right thing to do". And here's me struggling to scrape six grand together to get Das Busse organized. Those people live in a different world. The US Gulf Coast braces for torrential rain and flash flooding as upgraded Tropical Storm Lee inches towards land. Mississippi has declared a state of emergency a day after Louisiana, where emergency crews are on standby in the city of New Orleans. Lee is packing winds of 40mph (65km/h) and is expected to strengthen before it hits Louisiana this weekend, dumping 15-20in (38-50cm) of rain. Meanwhile, Katia has regained hurricane status with winds of 75mph. A category one hurricane, Katia is expected to pass the Caribbean, but it is not clear if it will reach the US. The Atlantic hurricane season usually brings about a dozen named storms, but Katia is already the 11th with half the season still ahead. And yet people choose to live there. Beats me. The UN nuclear watchdog says it is "increasingly concerned" that Iran is secretly working on components for a nuclear weapons programme. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) describes its information as "extensive and comprehensive". In a report seen by news agencies, it also says Tehran is preparing to enrich uranium at a new location - an underground bunker near Qom. Tehran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful. Of course it's peaceful. That's why it's underground and out of sight. Australian PM Julia Gillard has said she has no intention of stepping down amid reports of unrest in her governing Labor Party about her leadership. Ms Gillard suffered a major blow this week when the High Court ruled that an asylum deal with Malaysia was unlawful. She told Australian media: "I'm not going anywhere. I'm the best person to do this job, and I'll continue to do it." Puh-leeeeeeeeeease! If she's the best person it certainly doesn't say much about the rest of the Labor party. Congestion fees are to be introduced on some roads in the Chinese capital Beijing in a bid to tackle chronic traffic problems, state media report. Officials hope that the charges will encourage more people to use public transport, Xinhua news agency says. The city is also reportedly planning to encourage residents to buy alternative-energy cars. Few details of the new measures have been given, but Beijing has long tried to tackle its congestion troubles. Work from home

I went for my little walkies session earlier and paused to take a few pics. I never go out without my little Fuji in my pocket. This one I called No Frills Religion. And this one is of a derelict building with 24hr Service painted on the side. Hehe.

If there's one thing I admire architecturally it's old country churches. Maybe it's cos I watched too many westerns during my childhood. There's a wonderful sense of neighborliness and friendliness about little country churches that you don't get in big city cathedrals.

Anyway, it's time to feed the inmates again. Bacon and eggs and chips. Hehe. I used to cook a whole bunch of fancy stuff but they prefer basic stuff, and I can't be bothered arguing. If it's basic they want, it's basic they'll get. Gary

September 2, 2011. Friday was always fish 'n' chips day at home when I was a kid. My job was go to the fish 'n' chip shop (run by Chinese people) and bring home the family dinner. But TV had just been introduced to Oz and the local electrical store a few doors down from the fish 'n' chip shop had a couple of working TVs in the window, wired to an outdoor speaker. I would stand there, mesmerized, for ages. When I got home, not only was I late but the fish 'n' chips were cold. So mom and dad bought a TV.

Yes, those were the days when eating meat on Fridays was a mortal sin and would send you to hell for all eternity. The fishermen thought it was a great idea... and so did the fish 'n' chip shops. Jesus' apostles were all fishermen... coincidentally. Funny about that.

These days, of course, it's no longer a mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays. Are the poor souls who ate meat on Fridays before the Church saw the light still burning in hell? I dunno. I don't think Benny has mentioned anything about that. I've not heard of any kind of appeal or parole system in hell. I think once you're there, that's it. If something is no longer a sin, and you're in hell for no good reason, tough.

You know why people are religious? For the same reason they buy lottery tickets. Some people don't buy lottery tickets because they figure the chances of winning a major prize are so remote it's not worth trying. Others reason that you gotta be in it to win it... that no ticket means no chance at all. So believing in God is all about me. Me, me, me, me, and what I can get out of it... eternal life and a free harp. Kids believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy for the same reason.

And agnostics? Well, they're people who don't have the nerve to say what they really think. They plead ignorance in the hope of being pardoned just in case they're wrong. Hehe.

There's quite a bit of interesting stuff going on on Justin's blog in case you haven't visited for a while.

NC Art wrote: The posted pic was a surprise. After three tries to send the things I gave up cause three times I was notified that server had rejected the addressee and refused to deliver the data. These infernal digiboobs are just nasty!

Yes, a pain in the butt. In the mornings, I log on to check mail and whatever and more often than not there's something that insists on being updated. I'm busy, right? I don't wanna be updated! What's wrong with the damn thing the way it is already?

Beeb time: Libya's fugitive ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has said he is ready to fight a long guerrilla war, in an audio message carried by a loyalist TV channel. It was the second message in one day purporting to be from Col Gaddafi, whose whereabouts remain unknown. He vowed to fight "a long, long drawn out war" against what he called the occuption of Libya. "The people will not allow you to take the oil and rob Libya's wealth that God has endowed Libya with," he said, claiming 2,000 tribes stood ready to defend Libya. "Prepare yourselves for a gang and guerrilla war, for urban warfare and popular resistance in every town to defeat the enemy everywhere." He said Tripoli would be "liberated inch by inch", but that his hometown of Sirte - which remains in loyalist hands - was now the capital city of Libya. Delusional. Scientists in the US have warned Nasa that the amount of so-called space junk orbiting Earth is at tipping point. A report by the National Research Council says the number of leftover boosters, old satellites and clouds of minuscule fragments orbiting the Earth could cause fatal leaks in spaceships or destroy valuable satellites. It calls for new international regulations to limit space junk and more research undertaken into the possible use of launching large magnetic nets or giant umbrellas. Some computer models show the amount of orbital debris "has reached a tipping point, with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures," the research council said in a statement on Thursday. Yes, it is a worry. Gravity solves the problem here on earth. Protesters have disrupted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's BBC Proms concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. Several demonstrators in the hall shouted as Zubin Mehta stood to conduct Bruch's violin concerto. The rest of the audience booed in response. BBC Radio 3 said it had to interrupt its live broadcast twice "as a result of sustained audience disturbance". The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had earlier called on people to boycott the concert and urged the BBC to cancel it. It's so often the case with protesters who don't do their cause any good by upsetting people. A 90-year-old Florida woman has had her leg amputated after she was attacked by an alligator near her home. The 8ft (2.4m) reptile emerged from a canal and pounced on Margaret Webb in rural Copeland on Wednesday. A neighbour driving by saw the attack and shot at the alligator, which crawled away, leaving Ms Webb's leg nearly severed. She was airlifted to hospital in the city of Naples where she remains in a critical condition. About five people are bitten each year in Florida by alligators, officials said. That surprises me. Croc attacks in Oz are very rare, but I guess that's because crocs live mostly in areas not populated by people. A lightning strike gives a vivid backdrop to the iconic Eiffel Tower, while the Paris landmark is illuminated in vibrant blue lights. Amateur photographer Bertrand Kulik captured the shot which will appear in an exhibition titled "Lumieres celestes, lumieres des hommes", in Issy L'eveque, Burgundy. It was taken 21:02 GMT, 28 July 2008 during a storm in the French capital. A most extraordinary photograph. Check it out! Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has hit out at a High Court decision that ruled an asylum deal with Malaysia was unlawful. Ms Gillard called the ruling "deeply disappointing" and said the court had "rewritten the Migration Act". The decision was an embarrassment for Ms Gillard's government, which had sought to appear tough on asylum. The most boring woman in the world throws a tantrum. Bleh

Here's one of the funniest as well as cleverest writer/actor/comedians that ever existed, Ronnie Barker. He had an incredible talent for remembering spannerisms and pismonunciations and delivering them clearly and precisely, without the slightest hesitation. He was in fact the president of Pismonuncers Unanimous.

Not many people know this but Ronnie Barker had an identical twin.

Isn't Youchewb wonderful? When you feel like a bit of a giggle you just go in there, use the search tool and watch something.

Feel like another one? The two Ronnies in Men With Bad Memories.

Is it just me or have comedians like Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett disappeared from the face of the earth? I don't watch much telly these days but I've not seen the likes of those two blokes for years. These days it's all sit-com crap - smart-ass one liners and canned laughter. I sometimes see L&S sitting in front of the telly watching some sit-com with not even a hint of a smile on their dismal faces despite the canned laughter on the show. Remember Mad magazine? I think it's still around. I used to read it on the train coming home from work as a teen and I'd be giggling so much, nearby passengers craned their necks to see what the hell I was laughing at.

Anyway, that's it for another Friday. T-bones for THEM which gives me an opportunity to pig out on Tandoori chicken pizza. By the way, I went for walkies again today... a bit further than I normally go. For a while there I thought I was gonna get stuck and have to get a taxi home! I'm so unfit it's a bloody disgrace. Oh well... the only way to fix that is to keep walking. Gary

September 1, 2011. Welcome to spring downunder. It's not officially spring according to the purists, but Aussies like the first of the month cos it's easy to remember. Not sure how the birds feel about that but they seem to be busy doing their normal spring thing regardless, as is all the flora.

The new portable backup drive worked well yesterday and all the stuff on this laptop's hard drive is now safely copied. In total, there's about 100+ gigs of stuff going back to the late 1990s. I have a 2-drawer filing cabinet alongside me which is probably a few thousand times bigger than the little silver box that holds all my digital files from the past 13 or 14 years. How amazing. And further along against the far wall is a bookcase that holds 70 kilograms (5kg more than I weigh) of Encylopaedia Britannica, 30+ leather bound volumes which represent a mere fraction of the information available on the internet.

Meanwhile, it's the old revolving door trick today... pay day, bills day. Thank you very much, seeya later. At least the days of writing checks, sticking stamps on envelopes and going to the post office are gone. My fiscal duties are done and dusted in just a few minutes using netbank.

This is a pic of NC Art aged in his mid teens, shortly after being told an Irish joke. Little did he realize then that he would soon be bombing the crap out of Nazi Germany or sending this pic to an old Aussie fart 70 years down the track. Check out the wavy hair. Is that an ad for Brylcreem or what? Art would have been grooving to Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller back then. How times change. Anyone who says we're the same person from cradle to grave has gotta be kidding. Art also sent me a pic of his stern-looking grandmother but I've decided not to post it because it might frighten the kiddies.

Okies, back from shopping and yakking to Averil, so we better do a quick Beeb: Fugitive Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son has promised victory for Gaddafi loyalists faced with an ultimatum to surrender. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said he was speaking from Tripoli's outskirts, and that his father was fine. "The resistance continues and victory is near," he said in an audio message. The defiant message of Saif al-Islam was in contrast with that of his brother, Saadi, who earlier on Wednesday said he had been authorised to negotiate with interim authorities to end the fighting in Libya. But Libya's interim leaders have made it clear they are not interested in negotiating and Gaddafi loyalists have been issued an ultimatum to surrender before Saturday. The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Tripoli says the Libyan capital feels stable and Saif al-Islam's threats have a delusional feel. Yep, like father like son. It's all over, baby. Get real. US President Barack Obama has declared a "major disaster" in North Carolina and New York state, in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. Mr Obama's move allows the two states to tap extra funds for relief efforts. Irene barrelled along the east coast over the weekend, delivering hurricane force winds in North Carolina and torrential rains in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont, which forced rivers to swell and prompted extensive flooding. God punishing sinners again. Happens all the time ya know. The once ubiquitous 60W light bulb is about to plop off the production line for the last time across Europe. But while its light may be dimming, it is still illuminating many of our homes. Read how the tungsten light bulb is about to hit technology's scrapheap. The headless remains of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly have been identified, 130 years after he was hanged for murder, officials have said.  His body was dumped into a mass grave, later transferred to another mass grave and again exhumed in 2009. Although his skull is still missing the body was identified by comparing a DNA sample with that of a relative. No, no, no, no. Not moi. Ned Kelly was seen by many as a cold-blooded killer and others as a folk hero of Irish-Australian resistance. The bushranger killed three policeman before being captured in Victoria state in 1880 and was hanged for murder at Old Melbourne Jail in November of the same year. "Such is life," were his final words. He was 24. The original recordings for the Beach Boys' legendary "lost" album Smile are to be released this autumn, 44 years after it was first due to come out. The Smile sessions were recorded in 1966, but the album was left unfinished after the group's co-founder Brian Wilson suffered an emotional breakdown. It would have been the follow-up to the group's Pet Sounds, widely regarded as one of the greatest albums ever. The Smile Sessions will be available from 31 October. Wow, 44 years later. It'll be interesting to see how it goes on the charts. Save a copy for me!

Yes, I'll be a Beach Boys fan till I drop.

Well, here we are again, kitchen time. Chicken schnitzels and corn cobs. And a squeeze of fresh lemon. Gary


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