the WAFFLE page

August 31, 2013. FL Josh wrote: Speaking of Bentleys, For the past month, I have been looking into purchasing a 1999 Bentley Arnage with 20040 miles on it.  It is located about 200 miles from me and is currently having its twin superchargers rebuilt.  I cannot think of a single logical reason to justify such, but then such decisions are emotional, not logical.  

I would keep my current car as there are certain places I wouldn't feel safe parking the Bentley.  I have measured my garage to make sure it will fit (just barely). I have talked with three different places in my area as to whether they can service the car.  Yes and no.  I went to a Bentley dealer about 50 miles from me and sat in a $370,000 Bentley (picture of it attached) and stuck my head in the window of a $510,000 12 cylinder Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe convertible with suicide doors (picture of it also attached). 

The General Manager of a Lexus dealer has owned the '99 Bentley for about three years, then recently a 2003 Bentley came in and he took it and is selling the '99.  One day I am sure I won't get it, and the next I think about getting it.  I haven't seen the car yet, but the price is really good so I am suspicious and fear there must be something making it not so desirable, like having been smoked in, which can never be fixed.  I have run a Carfax on it and it has never been damaged and has been regularly serviced.
If I do end up getting the car, and with such low mileage, the fact that I don't drive all that much, and it being such a good price, I figure I can drive it for a couple of years and sell it for about what I paid for it and get this insanity off my bucket list.   

The reason you're telling me this, Josh, is because you know I'm crazy enough to say "go for it" and "you only live once!" If an opportunity like that came my way I'd grab it. Sometimes in life there are no second chances.

Poor Josh. He's been reading my stuff for too long hehe.

I just unscrewed all 20 screws holding the panel at the back of the fridge, but the previous owner used some kind of weather sealant so that the top of the panel is stuck to the exterior wall of PJ. I can still see inside though, and it looks like something you might find in an ancient tomb, complete with spider webs. The screw holding the flue cover is rusted tight so I gave it a good squirt of WD40. I'll replace just 4 of the panel screws and wait for Andrew to turn up so he can take a peek. I was expecting him this morning but nope... not even a phone call. The job he's working on in Sydney is his father in law's place so I suppose his missus is making sure it stays his No.1 priority... especially if there's a mother in law also involved.

The original maintenance manual for the fridge is with a bunch of other ancient documentation in PJ that lists all the parts and what needs to be done to clean the pilot and flue. A new fridge would cost about a grand or more soooooo... I hope I can kick start this old bus.

Ohio Jace wrote: I thought your birthday was before Wingnut's, thus the b-day card. Obviously I was in error. I might as well send Stevie's early too. He will be the big 3 0 September 1, practically an antique. I put my list of birthdays away for safe keeping while remodeling the homestead and have not seen it since and my mind is not what it used to be so.... My mother would have been 103 on August 23 that one I better not forget.

That thistle (dandelion) you talked about makes a great wine. My grandfather used to make his own from the flowers. The only drawback the mash had a horrible odor once the fermenting was done and the whole neighborhood noticed. The wine though was delicioso. Here the thistle is considered a pesky weed. The kids like the seed head though, the slightest breeze sends the parachutes sailing.

I like the new look for PJ. Is that Avril's house in the pic or does she live on the other side of your house? I know yours is brick.

Thanks, Jace. The house at the side of my garage is a financial investment business (an agency of Australian Mutual Provident) which was started by the bloke who still owns the house. He retired and sold the biz to some other bloke who rents the house and operates the biz from there because it's where it's always been and the clients are used to it. Averil lives in the house on the other side of mine, in the street that intersects with the street mine fronts. All three houses were originally owned by the people who lived here back in the '30s. Now the original owner's niece (who's 90+) owns this one and Averil's. She lives in Canberra. From what I gather, the owner of this house was the guy who ran the punt that crossed the river before the bridge was built in 1940. He also had something to do with the local fire station. Their daughter, a school teacher and enormously fat, lived here till she died some 20+ years ago. According to old Kev (Averil's deceased husband), she used to drink at least a bottle of scotch a day that didn't even touch the sides. She bought it by the case.

From the Beeb: Obama faces difficult timing over Syria strike.

Six people, one of them a juvenile, were put on trial for last December's notorious gang rape and murder of a female student on a bus in the Indian capital, Delhi. All of them were charged in court with rape, murder, kidnapping and destruction of evidence - all six denied the charges. Here are brief profiles of the suspects

In 1945, a rare and curious Volkswagen car was shipped from its bomb-damaged German factory to England. Here, a commission of leading British motor manufacturers, chaired by Sir William Rootes, inspected the small, streamlined saloon. It would be “quite unattractive to the average motorcar buyer”, the commission reported. “It is too ugly and noisy”, while “to build the car commercially would be a completely uneconomic enterprise. 

Yes, I remember the Rootes Group - Hillman, Humber, Sunbeam and Commer (trucks). They no longer exist.

I noticed three birds of paradise clustered together in the garden the other day and took a pic. Then decided to tart it up a bit with Photoscape by adding a frame. This is the result.

And that's Satdee. Not much to report but at least I got to peek at the back of my fridge... and measure it. I think it's about 60 liters which is plenty for one person. Heaps. The oldest document in PJ's collection is a receipt for an electrical check dated 1974, which I suspect is the van's year of manufacture. Then there's a stamped metal plaque on the door of the gas compartment dated 1984. The door as well as the metal panel covering the back of the fridge is not part of the original van, so I'm guessing that the fridge came later, probably replacing an ice box. The stove is a 1984 model as well. However, all the interior wall linings, cupboards, bench/table tops and ceiling are more recent, probably just a few years. Ditto curtains and soft furnishings. And the wiring all looks pretty new.

Meanwhile, the cleaning of the flue and pilot looks a tad complicated for me to tackle so I'd feel safer letting Andrew take care of that little job - at least the first time. And now it's time to toddle off to telly land and foooood. Gary

August 30, 2013. I just did the bum test on the new lounger/recliner and I'm here to say it came through with flying colors. What a chair! It opens and closes with ease, no levers or knobs, and it adjusts to whatever position you want by using your feet to lift or lower it. The headrest is attached to the frame by a moveable elastic belt with velcro. The fabric is open weave and laced to the frame with elastic rope to cushion the sitter. Bloody comfy! The arm rests are long and wide and solid and there's a ton of space between them for a skinny bloke like me. I've seen such chairs for up to $200 or so but this beauty was a bargain from Deals Direct at $59 + $11 delivery. Worth every penny! Happy Birthday, G.

If there's one bloke who can turn Happy Birthday into something the size of War and Peace, it's Oregon Richie: Hello and Howdy thee roadgoing Rowdy....So here is the day of two nine just starting and a salutation to your six and nine.  Two times three in sequence plus nine of which three is one third so with six of the D as in six decades of escapades and 9 of the Y kind as in the G factor of cats lives of which you qualify, well.... yeah.  Of course.  Happy Birthday from the troops in Fortress Oregon again !!  "She keeps on rolling.... she keeps on rolling..... down that long twin silver line.......".  A great song from Bob Seger and his "Silver Bullet Band" from the old days.  Don't know why THAT song came to mind as I was scanning over WAFFLE this morning, but... it did indeed.

Steve W was much briefer: And a Happy Birthday from me too.

NC Art had a point to make: A 69th birthday is hardly something to crow about …. Maybe just grateful will do. I’ll be 88 in October, but what the hell, Happy Birthday to You anyway. A few hours late, but that’s because of technical difficulties with a new wireless router which balked for two days. Wailing and gnashing of teeth appropriate.

   Funny how things work out. I was right suspicious of the taller PJ and feel much better with its lower profile now. Also that gas valve you turned the wrong way for off/on … I wanted to comment, but what do I know about gas fittings Down Under? Hell, you drive on the wrong side of the road, so why not reverse everything?

   BTW, wot does wukkers mean?

Hehe. Ninety eight comin' up. Well, no wukkers is a derivative of "no worries" which is expressed as "no fucking worries" in more colorful Aussie vernacular. That, in turn, is expressed by more conservative Aussies as "no wukking furries" or, to use the shorter version, "no wukkers". Yanks on the other hand use "no problem". So "no fucking problem" would become "no pucking froblem" which would end up as "no puckers" hehe. Doesn't work as well.

As to driving on the wrong side of the road, do you remember that film shot by a camera mounted on the front of a San Francisco tram travelling through town back in 1906? Automobiles, horse-drawn carts, bicycles and pedestrians were all over the shop - left, right, shooting out of side streets, zig zagging all over the place. Bedlam! Amazing footage, though.

And speaking of automobiles, OR Richie was a bit late but eventually found the link to the Fifties Bentleys photo album: Ah... don't know how I managed to miss it yesterday but scanned the lovely Bentley collection this morning.  Lovely.  Love the many exterior shots and cool paintwork and the elegant interior shots as well... very much reaches a special place in the automotive admiration soul for me.  Hail Brittania, God save the Queen, may the saints preserve us to tack a bit northwest, and there you go.

FL Josh wrote: I was looking at the map on the home page and noticed it doesn't show Taree, and so I downloaded the map and put Taree in just above where Hunter Valley had been.  It may not work with the interactive feature and it might be that Hunter Valley is more useful for mentioning things, so don't feel unless you really want Taree on the map, don't worry about the one attached.

Thanks, Josh. Taree is just one of many small to medium towns along the coast, but at least your version gives Wafflers an idea of its place in relation to the capital cities of Sydney and Brisbane. The Hunter Valley, which you removed to insert Taree, is a very large area about two hours drive south, and includes the city of Newcastle which is the 5th or 6th largest city in Oz, and the site of the biggest coal port in the world. The Hunter is a far more significant region than the Manning in terms of population, economy and size. It's also a premium wine growing area, as well as famous for its beef, dairy and thoroughbred horse studs.

I watched a science program last night (Catalyst) about the universe, the big bang, and the extraordinary coincidences that make it possible for intelligent life to exist. Also the possibility that an infinite number of universes exist "out there", one or more of which might be identical to our own. It reminded me of a weird idea I had when much younger of the liklihood of there being "another me" somewhere, so that if I suddenly got hit by a bus or struck by lightning, the "other me" would just carry on as if nothing had happened. Hehe. Hmmm. The most amazing thing about intelligent life is that it makes it possible for the universe (and whatever else might exist) to observe itself. Yes, dear Breth, what would be the point of existence if there was no awareness of its existence?

And that's another thing I've always found curious. If you look at Josh's map and all the little yellow dots, of which tens of thousands are not shown, there are actual people there going about their daily business at this very moment, brushing teeth, going to work or school, doing the shopping, chatting in coffee shops or over the back fence, living lives invisible to us. But just because they're invisible doesn't mean they don't exist. Hehe. Dots on maps are much more than dots on maps as I will be delighted to discover in PJ.

Back from a little hardware store bash at Bunnings. Jeez, pressurized air ain't cheap. $16.45 a can but it's at a consistent 70psi. The same company makes WD40 so I bought a can of that too on spesh at $6.20. AND... for a couple of bucks I spotted a little telescopic inspection mirror for sticking under assorted orifices to see what's going on in there hehe. I was thinking of the gas flue.

I also got $70 worth of petrol which I hope lasts a little longer than the last tank. Once again, I noticed on the drive around town today the vast improvement in wind resistance, general performance and handling. The $450 it cost to have PJ lowered should pay for itself in no time.

As PJ reaches the completed stage, it gives me a real sense of security. I remember all too clearly the time all residents, including myself, were given 30 days notice to quit 29 Fort St. Petersham, a block of 8 flats which was to be sold and renovated. I was broke, unemployed, seriously behind in my bills and had nowhere to go - literally. I was faced with the very real prospect of being turfed out onto the street - until the ugliest face in Australia asked me if I wanted to share a house he found nearby with him and his missus. Saved by the bell.

Whoda thunk a few years later I'd be living in an 8-room house in Taree and driving a flash Holden Premier?

Nothing like that could happen now because I'm an age pensioner with a regular income, albeit modest. But I have no gambling, alcohol or other expensive habits and can live reasonably well on the pension. But even if something pretty bad happened I would have PJ to call home, and perhaps someone's backyard to park it until I got my act back together. Pity that wasn't the case back in Fort St. in 1996. That was pretty damn scary!

From the Beeb: The US has said it will act in its "best interests" in dealing with the Syria crisis, after British MPs rejected military intervention. "Countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable," the US said. Washington accuses Syrian government forces of using chemical weapons - a claim denied by Damascus. The move by British MPs, meanwhile, ruled out London's involvement in any US-led strikes against Syria. al-Assad must be rubbing his hands together with glee.

If you were to consult the Atlas of True Names when planning a trip, you might become a little confused. Searching for the big US city on the shores of Lake Michigan, you would find the name "Stink Onions" instead of Chicago. That is because this particular atlas attempts to reveal the etymological roots, or original meanings, of the names of familiar places all over the world. It has been argued that the word Chicago, for example, is actually a French version of the word shikaakwa - or Stink Onions - named after the plants that were once common along the Chicago River. German cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust are the married couple behind the Atlas of True Names, which now has five maps in the series

Why living costs worry Australian voters: On a perfect winter day, an average Australian is walking along the Bondi waterfront. Her name is Kendall Hayes, and she is being entertained by her two little girls on their scooters, dodging in and out of the afternoon joggers. Ms Hayes is not the perfect, average Australian, but according to Australia's Bureau of Statistics she is pretty close

TV presenter Rolf Harris has been charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of children, police have said. Mr Harris was first arrested in March by officers investigating historical allegations of child sexual abuse. Six offences relate to the indecent assault of a girl aged 15-16 between 1980 and 1981 and three relate to a girl aged 14 in 1986. The indecent images of children were alleged to have been made last year. What a tragedy for everybody concerned... and soooooo dumb!

Well, what a day weatherwise! It's still 26C after a top of 30 and sunny. And winter's not even over yet! I had to remove my top earlier because I was too hot, and the shoes and socks got the flick as well. I'm barefoot now. The forecast for Monday in Sydney (when I see the doc) is warm and sunny so that'll be great for roaming around the Botanic Gardens and giving the Nikon a serious workout. The gardens should be looking great as well being early spring. Imagine that - the harbor, the city skyline and the gardens. What a photographer's paradise!

And, and, and, and, and... I'll be traveling there and back first class on the choo choo.

Time for a wrap. I can hear the parrots outside, hundreds of the little buggers squawking and carrying on, so spring is certainly in the air! Gary

August 29, 2013. That time of year again... TX Greg wants to know if I've ever seen a full moon rise over Uluru...

I doubt the local Aborigines would be too thrilled about having their sacred site mooned. But Greg's a Texan. Greg also remembers with great fondness (and I do too) one of the two vids he made for me back on this day in 2010. Check the 29 August entry and click the link for video 2.

Here's a note from FL Josh: G'b'day Gary,

You set a goal.

You pursued your goal.

You reached your goal,

It matters not the road you traveled.

What matters is you never, never, ever gave up.


Steve W also has something to say about setting goals hehe: I have been out of touch overseas for a while and only now catching up on my Daily Waffle. First.......thank goodness, how many times did I suggest that PJ's centre of gravity was too high........well done. I can rest easy now :)

Well, it probably would have been okay the way it was. After all, the previous owner did a lot of miles. But I wasn't entirely comfortable with it, and I'm the one who'll be doing the miles in future.

Secondly......I watched both of those youtube links - absolutely stunning and beautiful. It made me realise how valuable it is just to be here. Thanks for sharing. (This is the one NC Art sent... and this is the one FL Josh sent)

Lastly..........when are you finally going to set a date for departure on AO?

Steve is one of those business gurus who goes by the book. If you want something to happen, set a date. Well, I have set a date but not for departure. I see the doc in Sydney on Monday and he'll check out the facial orifice and make a decision as to whether or not I'm well enough to withstand an operation on the lower gum to remove exposed bone so that dentures can be fitted. If he says yea, then I'll suggest an oral surgeon at Port Macquarie who also works here in Taree. It'll be a lot more convenient to have the op here. But if he says nay, then who knows? Stay tooned. If all goes well, I anticipate departure will be late this year.

Only two peeps so far have volunteered captions for the photo TX Greg sent yesterday:


Steve W: Too obvious I know but had to say it: "Love the aroma of nuts roasting on an open fire". 

Well, there ya go. I must be slipping in my dotage. "Roasting nuts" didn't occur to me. But "throw another shrimp on the barbie did" hehe.

Earlier today I tested the screws holding the exterior panel covering the back of the fridge (where the flue and pilot are). I was expecting the screws to be difficult to undo but no... it was easy to loosen all of them with a hand screwdriver (about 20) and then retighten them. I'll remove the panel after I get a can of compressed air. No wukkers.

And my fold-away lounger chair arrived! It's still in the box but I'll take a peek later.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama says the US has concluded that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attacks near Damascus. Brilliant deduction, my dear Watson.

Life may have started on Mars before arriving on Earth, a major scientific conference has heard. New research supports an idea that the Red Planet was a better place to kick-start biology billions of years ago than the early Earth was. The evidence is based on how the first molecules necessary for life were assembled.

Qantas has swung back to profit as its alliance with Emirates helped narrow losses at its international operations. It made a net profit of A$6m ($5.4m; £3.5m) in the year ending 30 June, reversing a loss of A$244m a year ago.

Miniature "human brains" have been grown in a lab in a feat scientists hope will transform the understanding of neurological disorders. The pea-sized structures reached the same level of development as in a nine-week-old foetus, but are incapable of thought. The study, published in the journal Nature, has already been used to gain insight into rare diseases. Neuroscientists have described the findings as astounding and fascinating. The human brain is one of the most complicated structures in the universe. Yeah? Well, they don't know some of the people I know.

Weeeeeeeell, just opened the box containing the black lounger/recliner. I was expecting something fairly cheap and kinda flimsy... the usual camping stuff... but this is surprisingly good quality and well made. It's quite heavy at 7kg (15lb) and large enough for a comfortable siesta with built-in pillow and extendable footrest. A bed in other words - that all folds into a neat 3' x 2' x 6" package. It'll need to be carried on top of the bed in PJ... too big for anywhere else. But it sure looks comfy! Losing my fav chair here in the house was one of my concerns but not now! 

So I'm right in that department - I still have two fold up chairs from my old Kombi days (Lindsay busted the third one with his bony ass years ago) and another with arms I bought about 5 years ago - one of those tragic green ones you see everywhere.

Woohoo! Now THAT is a chair! Can't wait to park it under a palm tree!

I just sent my first ever text message. I'm not the least bit interested in all that baloney (he said writing his umpteenth Waffle) but my sis in law just texted me happy birthday so I replied with a thank you note. So there ya go... 69 and my first text. Not too crazy about using a piddly keyboard though, and pressing keys several times to get the right letter. Bleh.

There's no way I'm gonna copy and paste this comment from the GN forum on Waffle. Ew! But I'll link to it.

And that's it for my 69th. No party, nothing special (apart from the contributions to Waffle), just another day. But that's okay... I don't make a fuss of birthdays anyway. Oh, and Averil phoned. However, I do place some importance on embarking on a "new life" during my 69th year. A fresh start, a bold adventure, a revitalization of the spirit. In a way, I don't feel I'm getting older but, rather, getting younger hehe. You ain't seen nuthin' yet, baby! Gary

August 28, 2013. I've been meaning to put that Best of British album together with all those lovely Bentleys from the Fifties and now I have... for your pleasurable perusal.

Well, according to the gas switch, there are no leaks. I must have done the test improperly yesterday but TX Greg sorted that out: BTW> The gas valve should be ON when parallel to the line and OFF when turned out at a 90 degree angle away from the line. And the stove works! Judging by the color of the flame at first, there was a bit of air in the pipe but that's now gone. The fridge is another matter. Tried a few times but to no avail. I saw a flash of flame briefly in the mirror but that was it. Not sure what you're supposed to see but I imagine a flame is a flame and there should be a bit of blue flickering going on. Maybe the flue and pilot need cleaning. I must get a can of pressurized air. Meanwhile, I turned off the bottle again. I figure that's a good habit to get into when I'm away from PJ.

One useful thing I discovered was that the ice bricks from the portable cooler fit easily into the little fridge freezer, which is not really all that little. I'm not much into frozen foods so it doesn't bother me. Maybe a few veg or a bit of fish. But frozen ice bricks will certainly be handy.

From the Beeb: US Vice-President Joe Biden has said there is "no doubt" that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and that it must be held accountable. The US has said its military is ready to launch strikes should President Barack Obama order an attack, and allies say they too are ready to act. Good. I was beginning to think there for a while that it was all talk.

Russia and China have stepped up their warnings against military intervention in Syria, with Moscow saying any such action would have "catastrophic consequences" for the region. So what do you suggest, chaps? Isn't the situation catastrophic already?

The US is to send a senior official to North Korea to request the release of a US man jailed in the communist state. Robert King, the US special envoy for North Korean rights, will arrive in Pyongyang on Friday, the state department said. He will request a pardon and amnesty for Kenneth Bae, 45, on humanitarian grounds, it said

Wal-Mart, the largest private sector US employer, is to offer health insurance to the same-sex partners of its staff. The world's largest retailer has about 1.3 million staff in the US, although the company said it did not know how many would use the benefits. Wal-Mart's move brings it into line with many other big US firms that have already begun extending such benefits.

A couple from Saltash in Cornwall have driven 25,000 miles (40,000km) in an 80-year-old Austin Seven car. Guy Butcher and his partner Eunice Kratky drove down the western seaboard of North and South America for charity. My dad had a little Austin 7 back in the '30s - his first car

Speaking of cars, I've noticed here in Oz the popularity of utes has increased dramatically since the introduction of supercabs and twincabs, as well as 4WD. The original reason for the ute in Oz was so that a farmer's missus could be driven to church on Sundays in something more comfortable and respectable than a truck. Well, now it's not just the missus, it's the whole family (but not necessarily to church). There's plenty of room in a twin cab for a family of four plus a stack of gear in the back. A most versatile vehicle, for sure. And the later models are far more stylish than old PJ from 1994 - as well as bigger and gruntier. I've noticed stacks of them on the road giving the traditional Landcruisers and Pajeros a run for their money. Cheaper too.

This is the latest Mazda version of my Courier. I'm not sure there's a Ford version any more.

Anyway, now that the stove is working in PJ that's another step closer to home sweet home. The fridge will be the next step. Once I can do anything in PJ that I can do in this house (within reason), that'll be it. PJ will be my new home and there'll be no reason to miss this one. There was a GN couple who bought a new van and practiced living in it in the backyard until there was no further reason to duck into the house for something they'd forgotten. Self-contained and independent, that's the plan. :)

Not to be outdone by NC Art's link to the Nature video yesterday, FL Josh sent this link to a beautiful vid called Gratitude - Moving Art. The images are not only beautiful but the message is also philosophical about life, and what it means to be alive.

And now it's vamoose time again. I hope you enjoy looking at all those lovely Bentleys. Here's a pic TX Greg sent, asking me to develop some sort of story or scenario: Speaking of campfires, here's a challenge for you. Add your thoughts to finish this scenario. "Gary woke from a snooze to the warm glow and soft crackling of a campfire to step outside PJ and..."

And nuthin'. What are you trying to do to me, Greg? Anyway, here's a better (and safer) idea... I'll ask Waffle readers to think of an appropriate (or inappropriate) caption. Yeah? Gary

August 27, 2013. Back from Peter's joint, and the damage was $450 which I thought was very reasonable. I was thinking somewhere between 5 and 600. It leaves me a bit short but it's payday this Thursday so I'll be able to take care of Andrew on the weekend.

OR Richie wrote: Well by golly the new streamlined and lowered PJ looks pretty damned good !!  I can see that you are very happy with it and I agree, now that I see it as it is.  I may not get up to stand corrected as it were but I can surely sit here corrected as to my thoughts about it.  And if it makes you feel better and more relaxed then it just plain IS, and that's good.  Yep, that door open looks pretty inviting, really !!  I like what you have planned and I also think that you might at least look into some of the tapered and aerodynamic storage pods for roof-mount that are available.  Anyway, all the way around it looks like a good tough little rig you have there, so... most excellent, for sure !  Good pictures.

Dunno why you've got this roof-mounted storage pod obsession, Richie, but that roof is for solar panels and a ventilation hatch.

TX Greg likes PJ's "new look" too: What a HUGE difference, PJ really looks AWESOME and ready to take on the Outback :)

The drive out to Peter's, then into town and back to Peter's before coming home was enough to convince me that PJ now feels like a single unit rather than two. The marriage works well, and the handling around corners, roundabouts and in tight areas is very good. I can also tell by the engine revs and pulling power in 4th gear that the lowering of the camper has reduced wind drag significantly, even at lower speeds around town.

Meanwhile, FL Josh is worried about my health: I know you hate me nitpicking, but I don't want to see you go out there and get killed. In the 7th picture it looks like the top hook of the turnbuckle is straightening out almost to the point where the chain will slip off.

Optical illusion, Josh - angle of the dangle. It's all fine. You don't really think Jason (Peter's offsider) would allow that to happen? Or me, for that matter.

I put the gas bottle together with the switch and regulator all attached, then did the leak test with the switch. Looks like there's a leak somewhere cos the switch shut down. I haven't tried the soapy water trick yet but I will - probably tomorrow. Meanwhile, the bottle is turned off. BTW, there are two lever type valves on the copper tubing. One in the gas bottle compartment and one at the back of the stove inside the camper. There's no 'on' or 'off' marking so I presume that 'off' is parallel to the tubing and 'on' is at right angles. I'm trying to remember our gas water heater at home when I was a kid but it was a long time ago. Anyway, if there's a prob I'll ask Andrew about it this weekend.

From the Beeb: Is compulsory voting in a democracy a contradiction in terms? That is the question some Australians have been asking since voting became required by law here nearly a century ago. The right to vote is a freedom fiercely sought by people all over the world, but Australians do not have a choice. The continent is part of a small minority of just 23 countries with mandatory voting laws. Only 10 of those enforce them. Yep, we're off to the polls in early September.

Police in the US have rescued more than 360 pitbull terriers and arrested 12 people as they broke up an organised dog fighting ring, officials said. Authorities said the malnourished and mistreated dogs were recovered along with $500,000 (£320,000) in raids on Friday in Alabama and Georgia. US Attorney George Beck said bets on a single dog fight had risen as high as $200,000

Is it possible to create a radically different society? One where material possessions are unnecessary, where buildings are created in factories, where mundane jobs are automated? Would you want to live in a city where the main aim of daily life is to improve personal knowledge, enjoy hobbies, or solve problems that could be common to all people in order to improve the standard of living for everyone? Some may think it is idealistic, but 97-year old architect Jacque Fresco is convinced his vision of the future is far better than how we live today. I'll second that.

For Nissan 360, the Nissan Motor Company’s month-long product jamboree in southern California, the company annexed the driveway at the posh Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach to create a memorable family reunion photo.

Speaking of V Hickles, after PJ's bumectomy, I saw a regular little motorhome parked in my yard and wondered why the hell it had taken sooooo damn long to arrive at something so unspectacular and ordinary, hehe. She's no head turner, that's for sure. Most people save up a few bob or get a loan and buy one from a new or used dealership. It's all over in a day. But not me. Oh, no. I went through years of drama with a variety of tragic machines that were unsuitable (or worse) for a variety of reasons. And even when I did finally find a decent camper and, later, a ute, it was another 16 months before the two were married! Sheesh! 

When I was out and about earlier today, I saw a couple of motorhomes and caravans, all of which were HUGE! We're talking St Bernards and a chihuahua here. Even so, I have never spent so much time, energy and money (relative to income) on any project in my life. Never. And what have I ended up with? Something tres ordinaire. Useful, yes. Practical, yes. Worth the money, yes. But not exactly Concours D'elegance material. 

On the other hand, is it the vehicle or the purpose for which it is intended that really matters? Obviously, it's the latter but I still reckon I could have chosen a much easier and more direct route to get where I am now hehe. The best part of this whole damn saga is that it's almost over! I can't believe I actually went through all that crap.

There is an advantage to being small and unobtrusive, of course. I can park anywhere a normal car can park, negotiate narrow roads and dirt tracks. There's no hitching or unhitching. I can live quite well on the pension! And I'm always guaranteed the best seat in the house!

Perhaps over time I'll develop a fondness for PJ that can only come with life on the road. I can imagine, one day, reminiscing over pics of her parked alongside famous icons, or at an endless stretch of beach or outback desert, or sitting at the side of a dirt road with a flat tire, or covered in mud, or at a campground with a camp fire at sunset or in the main street of a country town. PJ and G, old travelling mates.

Anyway, here we are after several years of highs and lows, heartbreaks and restarts, mistakes and solutions, searching eBay and Gumtree, and finally ending up with a little motorhome called PJ. What a journey! 

And now, boils and goils, here's a link sent by NC Art to a most extraordinary video of Nature at its Best. Settle back for a new moments and watch the magic. Gary

August 26, 2013. Roite. Back home after getting PJ loaded up again and secured with re-arranged tie downs. That channel rail at the rear is no good according to the bloke who did the job. It's only secured to the frame by four small bolts. So the new tie down arrangement hooks up to the chassis in front, and the tow bar at the back. 

As I walked around PJ once it had been lowered onto the tray, I realized what a big difference a foot makes. Gas and water are now easily accessible, the camper itself looks far more stable and comfortable at its reduced height, and even on the short drive home through town I could appreciate the difference in handling and overall "feel". Even the engine seemed more relaxed.

And how much did it cost? Dunno yet. Peter wants his mate to fill in a job card tonight, so I'll call around tomorrow morning. BTW, the new owner of the business is Peter's foreman... Peter sold it to him after 42 years in biz. He'll be 67 later this year. He told me this morning he's getting a bit too old for off-road racing cars - those things that are basically an engine on a chassis held together by welded pipe. I just did a Google and found Peter Sowter listed on the NSW Off-Road Racing Hall of Fame for 2010.

TX Greg wrote: Wonder why they mounted the power inlet so high up on the wall. You'll need a ladder every time to hook up. And the cord will hang over the window. That seems really odd, but looks like that came from the factory that way. I noticed there are three switches above the sink, could one of those be a breaker?

The small black and white ones are 12V and 240V for the oyster light. The larger one is the exhaust fan. The nearby power points are external mains.

Can't wait to see the new slim and trimmer PJ :)

You can see in that last shot where the brake/indicator wires for the camper have been relocated. Well, guess what? I spent about an hour reloading all the stuff I took out of the storage boxes last week, including the one that no longer exists. And.... everything but the Porta Potti is in, with room to spare. The pop-up beach shade slipped nicely behind the seat in the cab so no worries there. Now the question remains, do I need tool boxes?

When you start packing stuff, after a few bulky items go in, you start to notice nooks and crannies. And the more stuff you load, the more nooks and crannies there are. You start seeing a place for this and a place for that. I was amazed at how everything slotted into the two big side bins without any problem at all. First to go in, on the passenger side, were the jacks, wrapped in an old ground sheet. On the top of the ground sheet went the telescopic ladder (whose width only just makes it). Both the jacks and ladder are fairly flat items, so there was plenty of room on top for various other stuff, plus a stack of room left over! The bin on the other side contains the air conditioner in the middle, so on the right of the a/c are the watering can (used to fill the water tank by hand), a fuel can, a large cooler box, and my tool box. On the left of the a/c are the 12V shower, 12V air compressor, hand pump and battery charger plus a bucket full of ropes, pegs, etc and lots of spare room.

I splurged again! But it's a good price and I need one... ish.

From the Beeb: When asked about the trial of former top politician Bo Xilai taking place this week, Lao Zhang, a security guard standing outside a downtown Beijing office building, barely reacts at all. "The trial has no effect on average people," he frowns, bending down in the afternoon sun to dust off his shoe. "There are so many corrupt officials out there and they don't have any connection with us."

UN inspectors are due to visit the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack that took place on Wednesday near the Syrian capital Damascus. The Syrian government and the rebels agreed to a ceasefire to allow the inspectors to collect evidence safely. However, Western governments criticised Syria for taking too long to allow in the UN team. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned the US against military intervention, saying it would end in failure. "If someone is dreaming of making Syria a puppet of the West, then this will not happen," he told the Russian newspaper Izvestiya.

The mining and resources boom has fuelled the Australian economy - but how has it changed Western Australia, asks Professor Fiona Haslam McKenzie. While other Western economies have languished or even faced bankruptcy, the Australian economy has, for the last decade, experienced exponential growth on the back of what appears to have been insatiable Asian, most particularly Chinese, demand for our mineral resources

Just cooked Chinese beef which I'll have with noodles and cheese tonight. I can smell the ginger and spices. Mmmm. Meanwhile, I am a happy chappy after PJ's bumectomy, and I shook Peter's and his mate's hands today to say so. BTW, the new frame slotted between the tray rails perfectly. The only thing that took a bit of time was organizing the new tie downs which, for the rear, meant splitting each length of chain into two and linking the two lengths with a turnbuckle. He also rummaged through my box of tricks and found a couple of U shackles which he used.

So there ya go. Next it'll be Andrew and the solenoid plus a couple of radio aerials. And the tool boxes? Well, we'll see. Not necessary as it turns out, but could be handy. And now it's time to call it a day, update and catch a bit of telly. Gary

August 25, 2013. Another gorgeous sunny day but what'll I do with it? A little shopping is all I have planned. Meanwhile, TX Greg has a few Qs about PJ's mains power.

I would have never guessed that was a power outlet. I rather like the way it points straight down, a little bit more weather proof. Our outside plugs are flush mount behind a spring loaded flap cover. When I saw the pic today of that plug my first thought was, oh dear please tell me that's not how the mains power hooks up and we have another doubled ended male cord problem. You haven't said or shown, nor do I think you have actually hooked the camper up to mains power yet. So how exactly does yours work and plug up? Does the camper have it's own breaker or fuse box? Ours uses a breaker box inside the camper with a power cable wired direct that pulls out to attach to mains power.

At first, due to my ignorance, I thought the outlet was an inlet hehe... and was surprised to discover the extension lead had a female plug just like the outlet! So I asked the GN techie forum about it and learned that the inlet for mains power is elsewhere... near the stove exhaust:

I bought a new lid but the hinge is stuffed, so the other day I bought a whole new fitting and will get Andrew to install it. As to a fuse box, I have no idea. Seems your leads pull out to attach to mains power, but here it's the park's lead that pulls out to attach to the van.

A father teaches his son how to plug up the camper...

Pretty cool pic of the thistle. We call them dandelions. As a kid they were fun to pick and blow the seed pods off and watch them fly. And now as an adult they are a pain as every spring they take over my lawn, hehe

This one had the sense to wait till Stan the Lawn man had been and gone before it popped out to greet the sun.

From the Beeb: The UK and the US have threatened a "serious response" if it emerges Syria used chemical weapons last week. Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama spoke on the phone for 40 minutes on Saturday, Mr Cameron's office said. Both were "gravely concerned" by "increasing signs that this was a significant chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian regime". The Syrian regime and opposition have accused each other over the attacks.

Thousands of people have attended a rally in Washington DC to mark 50 years since Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" speech on civil rights. Jobs, voting rights and gun violence topped the concerns of many of those who marched to the Lincoln Memorial. Eric Holder, the first black US attorney general, said he and President Barack Obama would not be in office had it not been for the original marchers. Mr Obama will mark the event on the actual anniversary next week. Who could ever forget "I have a dream?"

Very quiet in town today and at the mall. The CC was a young bloke and as I wheeled my trolley of groceries towards the checkout he was just standing there looking bored and waiting for someone to appear. Most unusual in that place, which is often a mad house. And me? I've had two naps so far. Tsk, tsk. Feeling too lazy to do anything. Not that there's much that needs doing anyway. Oh, yes... I did check my folding 2-step with the ute and was surprised at the distance between the top step and the tray. Then I remembered that the weight of PJ lowers the height of the tray by 3 or 4 inches! There was also nothing to hold on to so stepping onto the tray was a bit wobbly hehe.

Which reminds me, I must ask the bloke who did the work on PJ to think about attaching a handle near the back door. I'll get it done when I have the tool boxes fitted.

Not much of a waffle today, I'm afraid. I'm in one of those dream-like states where your eyes glaze over and your mind wanders. I see Nancy the dentist at 9 tomorrow morning, and then it's off to Sowter Engineering to put PJ back together. I suppose some of the locals have seen the ute in the yard without the camper and concluded the worst. Hehe. People are like that. "I knew it! I knew it was too tall! I knew it would fall off!" Gary

August 24, 2013. TX Greg wrote: Youre freezing and heat here is about to make me drop over. Is there some magic half way point that the weather is always nice, hehe

Yesterday was a 100% improvement on the morning before... 0C to 1C. But I was wearing my LJs so I didn't really notice when I drove out to Peter's. The days are nice though... 20-ish.

Great to hear and see the bumectomy went well. That was some huge neat steel sawhorses they were using there. Can't remember if I've asked you this before. That louver thingy that sticks out half way up above the RHS tail light, is that a fresh air intake for the stove? I've just never seen a stove have a direct fresh air inlet. That appears to stick out more than the water drain, so the door should still open and secure ok.

Nope. The exhaust fan for the stove is above the driver side window in pic 5. The dooverlacky above the RHS tail light is a power outlet for using mains power externally. According to the GN techie forum guys it's a domestic fitting and not suitable for a camper. The saw horses, BTW, were used to catch the bottom box during the bumectomy. There's some pretty serious machinery at Peter's place... obviously set up for much bigger jobs than mine. I think he feels sorry for me hehe.

Am I seeing things this morning, the large side window appears to be really cracked bad???

The crack was there when I bought the camper. It's a clean break that runs the width of the glass, and has been sealed with Silastic. The glass doesn't move or leak but I intend to have it replaced at a Caravan Repair place about a 15 minute drive down the highway when all the other work has been completed. The previous owner received a question about it when the camper was being auctioned on eBay and said it would cost about $50 to repair. Yeah, right. Click repair instructions at the top of this page for details. The winder on the rear window is buggered also, so I'll get that fixed as well. I reckon the total job will be around the $400-500 mark.

Meanwhile FL Josh wrote: You might want to check with them to see if the wood they used is pressure treated so it won't rot or be prone to attack by termites, other insects and fungal decay.

Wood? What wood? The frame is iron. If the floor of the camper is wood, it's the original (or a replacement during repairs and renovation).

Also, check and see if you can remove the spare tire.

Nah. I'll leave that to the tire bloke down the road when I get a decent tire put on. However, Sowter Engineering will fit the tool boxes.

I like the looks of the engineering firm.  They look like they have it all going on and I noticed a bit of another camper or RV there which might mean they work on such things all the time and know all about them, which would be a plus. Now all you need is a coon tail, no wait, kangaroo tail, attached to the radio antenna, and you are good to go.

You're probably referring to pic 3, Josh. That's the back end of PJ. There were no other campers there but that's not to say they don't work on them occasionally. I know they do truck trays. And Peter's been motorhoming for decades. He's hoping to sell the biz and do the Big Lap.

Speaking of which, OR Richie commented on the significance of 69: and of course.... yeah- here's a toast to the coming b'day and while many people make an instant joke of the number 69 one has to reflect that it does have a perfect symmetry of a sort; the one up, the other down, the high and the low and the year that our little group of species managed to take off on the biggest boldest adventure of our times.. heading off a quarter million to "Tranquility Base", and let's hope that all yours are just that, too.

GOT IT! Just back from shooting 20 pics of the thistle and got 3 good ones, one of which I just substituted for the old one on Red Bubble. Click the image for the enlarged version. Pretty nifty, yes? Just as it came out of the camera, uncropped. Luckily, most of the delicate little seed "parachutes" held together in the occasional gusts of wind. I lost a couple.

Back from checking out all the gear in the garage... the stuff that came out of the storage boxes. I figure the only item that won't fit in the side bins (actually, it does but takes up too much room) is the Porta Porti so that'll have to ride in front with me. The diameter of the pop-up beach shade is too big so that'll be inside PJ up in the cab over with camp chairs and table. Otherwise, everything else will be in the side storage bins or tool boxes or behind the front seat in the cab where there's quite a bit of space. No wukkin' furries.

The bike rack is a bit awkward too, but it's only attached when driving and carrying the bike. When camped, it can go under the truck. Doesn't need to be stored.

From the Beeb: The Pentagon is moving forces closer to Syria as the US weighs its options in the conflict there, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has suggested. He gave no details, but media reports say the US Navy is strengthening its presence in the eastern Mediterranean. On Friday, President Barack Obama said fresh allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government this week was of "grave concern".

A huge California wildfire has burned into Yosemite National Park, park officials say. The week-old Rim Fire grew to 164 sq miles (424 sq km) by Friday morning, and had burned 17 sq miles at the edge of the park by the afternoon. The blaze has forced scores of tourists to flee during peak season and is threatening thousands of homes. More than 2,000 firefighters have been tackling the flames in difficult terrain. It is just 2% contained

The car that saved a President. Saved by a goddess.

I think today's weather would have to score a P for perfect. It's gorgeous outside and the wind has dropped to zero. P for perfect weather to be camped somewhere. Or in Sydney at the Botanic Gardens right on the harbor with an iconic view back to the bridge and opera house. That's where I'll be in just over a week. Good time to be at the Botanic Gardens too cos it's spring! I'll be there early just after 7am opening, snapping madly away with the Nikon.

A drunken man walks into a biker bar, sits down at the bar and orders a drink.  Looking around, he sees three men sitting at a corner table.  He gets up, staggers to the table, leans over, looks the biggest, meanest, biker in the face and says: 'I went by your grandma's house today and I saw her in the hallway buck-naked. Man, she is one fine looking woman!' 

The biker looks at him and doesn't say a word. His buddies are confused, because he is one bad biker and would fight at the drop of a hat. The drunk leans on the table again and says: 'I got it on with your grandma and she is good, the best I ever had!' 

The biker's buddies are starting to get really mad but the biker still says nothing. The drunk leans on the table one more time and says, 'I'll tell you something else, boy, your grandma liked it!' 

At this point the biker stands up, takes the drunk by the shoulders, looks him square in the eyes and says...'Grandpa;... Go home!'

Well, that's it for Satdee... a pretty quiet one at that. Be noice! Gary

August 23, 2013. Jeez, no wonder I was cold yesterday morning. It was 0C. Dunno what it was this morning but I had the long johns on when I drove out to Peter's just before 7am and arrived before they did! They had to move vehicles out of the big shed before I could move in. Then I undid all the turnbuckles and chains, unplugged the brake/indicator lead from the tow bar (yes, I remembered this time), set up the jacks and then let the guys take over. Peter arrived about 7:30 and booted me outta there. When I asked him about money he said not to worry about it. "We know where you are!" He figures they might need to keep the camper over the weekend (no one works weekends but they might not get the job finished today - they're 1 man short). When I asked about measuring the ute tray for the new frame, the guy said he'll take measurements from the old wood frame... and may even use that one again. Why not? It would be cheaper. Meanwhile, Peter invited me back at about 1pm just to check on how the job is going.

So there ya go, pretty painless so far (not counting getting outta bed at 5:30am). I took some pics and I'll take a few more when I go back for a peek in about an hour. The Courier is back to its frisky, bone-shaking self, and zooms along without the burden of PJ.

NC Art wrote: Hey, don’t knock Iceland , mate. Landing there can be a bit squirrely since it involves guessing at the right fjord for one shot at the landing strip. No room to turn around if you choose the wrong one. But, the natives are friendly and all the women are beautiful blue-eyed blondes! Well, that’s the way it was in 1945 when my bomber crew visited on the way home after the unpleasantness with Adolph Hitler.

And speaking of bombers and flying and such, Art sent this link to an incredible story, Mission Unimaginable: Kind of makes you wonder why we even had fighters on ready alert without any armament installed or ready

FL Josh wrote: The mention of Susan Manning's alcoholism reminded me of a experiment I read about once.  They took two glasses, filled one with water, the other with alcohol, and dropped a worm in each glass.  The worm dropped in the water lived, but the worm dropped in the alcohol died.  This they said proves that if you drink alcohol, you won't have worms.

Also, happy 69th.

Lemme see. August 29. Ooer! Pay day! That'll make me happy. I should have enough to pay Andrew for his next jobs. Then it'll be off to Sydney to see the doc.

TX Greg also wrote: Hope everything goes well today with the bumectomy. That should make for some interesting pics. I know you will be happy to have that weight off your back, or should that be off the tray back, hehe :)

Not so much the weight of the old box but reducing the gap between the floor of the cab over and the roof of the cab. The bumectomy should improve the aerodynamics significantly, as well as fuel economy. PJ was a bit too thirsty for my liking. I'll miss the extra storage, obviously, but life is a compromise... especially when you're poor!


When they said "all day" they meant half a day. They knock off on Fridays at 1pm for the weekend. The hardest bit of the job according to the bloke who worked on it was relocating the gray water hose just below the RHS tail light. I hope it doesn't interfere with the door opening and being secured. If it does I can use some sort of ring in the eyelet on the exterior wall. I also see they've used scrap iron to make the underbelly frame. Fine with me. Cheap, cheap, cheap. The bloke said the old timber frame had seen better days so they discarded it after using it for measurements. Interestingly, the skids on the new frame go from side to side rather than end to end like the old timber ones.

So, there you have it. The bloke asked me to call back Monday after morning smoko (9am) to load the camper. And that'll be it! No it won't. Tool boxes come next, probably in 2 or 3 weeks. And Andrew the weekend of August 31.

Actually, when the bloke said he had a prob with the gray water hose, I said but that's what you do for a living. You're a problem solver. And that's better than doing the same old, same old every day. He was more than happy to concur.

From the Beeb: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said the alleged chemical weapons attack near the Syrian capital "needs to be investigated without delay". He is sending disarmament chief Angela Kane to Damascus to press for an investigation, his spokesman Eduardo del Buey said on Thursday. Earlier, France said a "reaction with force" might be needed. No problem! Come on in and check out our chemical weapons! Make yourself right at home!

Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman in a forthcoming Superman sequel, bringing together the two superheroes in one film for the first time. The 41-year-old will star opposite British actor Henry Cavill, who will reprise his role as Superman from the most recent film, Man of Steel. Director Zack Snyder revealed the big screen superhero mash-up at a comic convention in San Diego last month. Production is expected to begin next year for release in the summer of 2015. And who's gonna be Robin?

A 23-year-old photojournalist has been gang-raped by five men in the Indian city of Mumbai, police say. The woman, who was on assignment on Thursday evening in the Lower Parel area when she was attacked, is in hospital with multiple injuries. What kind of morbid mentality are we talking about here?

Well, here I yam as the sun is about to do its northern hemispherical thing for another 12 hours and I'm pleased to say the day has not been as melodramatic as I thought it might. The bumectomy went without incident. And hopefully there won't be any surprises when it's loaded onto the ute on Monday, which I'll spend sorting out what goes in the bins and what goes in the tool boxes. Not sure about the Porta Potti, but I do know it fits comfortably on the passenger's seat hehe. If that turns out to be its "place" driving from one camp to another on the Odyssey, and I happen upon some poor bugger who needs a ride, I can always store it temporarily inside PJ. However, I don't intend to be a taxi service.

So, that's it for Fridee's Waffle. Bit of an anti-climax in a way hehe. Gary

August 22, 2013. High cloud is stopping me from getting a dose of warmth from the sun, dangit. And it's cold in the house. So I've done the hot water bottle trick between my back and the chair.

OH Jace is worried I might cark it before I hit 69 so he sent a birthday greeting a week early. You have been talking about your warm days down under while we are having cool days in what should be the hottest part of summer. June was rainy with 20 consecutive days of thunderstorms. July was hot and humid but for only 9 days. The rest of the summer has been below 80 degrees with nights falling into the 40's F. Not your average summer for sure.

Jace says all the boys are back at school, and the grandson is 2 months old now and growing like a weed. Sean and his big bro are still somewhere in Europe: They started in Iceland first of the month then flew to Germany. They talked about hitting Russia this time, but I'm not sure they got the VISA. They will fly home from Rome in late August heading back to work for eleven months so they do it again next August. Not sure where they plan to visit next year.

Those young blokes sure do love to travel. Iceland? Sheesh. Anyway, I'm glad to hear that all the Ohio Gang is doing well and making babies. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Jace. Seems like yesterday that BR Joao congratulated me on becoming a sexagenarian.

TX Greg wrote: Well I see I was only half right on the gas switch, that it does only shut off in sudden increase in flow. I'm rather amazed that it can detect a small leak in only 45 seconds and I'm guessing that has something to do with it being on the high pressure side in front of the regulator. I would still also use the soap spray bottle just to be sure. Here's how a leak would look...You did a great job on the Teflon tape :) I've never seen pink Teflon tape before, but I rather like that idea because it's very easy to spot that it was applied to the fitting.

I have a feeling that whoever installed the original regulator hose used joint compound. The fitting was stuck solid. Good thing Stan is a strong bugger with powerful arms. When I finally get the PJ video finished, you'll see Stan wielding a chain saw. He was also a competition tennis player.

The other day I saw a thistle on the lawn and thought about photographing it. But by the time I decided to, the wind had blown all the seeds away! So yesterday I saw another and decided to grab the Nikon. I tried to peg it to the clothes line without success, so I raced inside and grabbed a bit of tape. But I was so concerned with the thing disintergrating in the breeze, I left the clothes line too high to get a close up shot. Drat! In the end, I had to crop the pic to hide the line and tape, which means there are insufficient megapixels for a large print. BUT. This morning I found another thistle. It's sitting on the bookcase beside me.until the sun pops out. This time I'll get a macro shot so I don't need to crop the pic. Photographing it attached to the clothes line means I can get a blue sky background. A Red Bubbler this morning asked if I had to lie on the ground to get that shot. Lying on the ground is the easy part, Terry. It's the getting back up that presents a problem.

Andrew phoned this morning to say he hasn't forgotten me. He found a solenoid for about $100, which is $150 cheaper than he expected. So that's good. He's also still busy with his father in law's house in Sydney and won't be here this weekend. That's also good because PJ's bumectomy tomorrow is gonna put a pretty big hole in the budget and I need a bit more time and another pension to fill the coffers again. So the timing is working out quite well. When things settle down again, I can organize the tool boxes.

From the Beeb: The trial of Bradley Manning has cast light on how he came to leak thousands of classified documents, and on his troubled childhood in a family splintered by divorce and alcoholism. Susan Manning liked vodka - it was easier to hide. "If you put vodka in certain drinks, you can't really smell it," said her daughter, Casey Major, in a courtroom in Fort Meade, Maryland, last week

UN officials say alleged chemical weapons attacks which Syria's oppositions says killed hundreds near Damascus were a "serious escalation". Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson made the comments after briefing an emergency UN Security Council meeting about Wednesday's incident. The Security Council also said that clarity was needed over the attacks. Some 35 member states called for UN weapons inspectors already in Syria to be dispatched immediately to the scene. Opposition activists said that more than 1,000 people were killed after government forces launched rockets with toxic agents into the Damascus suburbs in the Ghouta region early on Wednesday. What happened to that red line Obama mentioned?

Two future US presidents called Richard Nixon in support after he gave a speech on the Watergate scandal amid a staff exodus, newly released tapes show. Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush attempted to boost Nixon as he denied any knowledge of the infamous break-in at his political rivals' offices. One could argue that Wikileaks is simply speeding up the process a little.

Two schoolgirls have become the world's youngest formation wing-walkers. Rose Powell and Flame Brewer, both 9, took to the skies over Gloucestershire on Wednesday. Encouraged by their grandfather, who is a professional pilot, they undertook the record attempt to help raise awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Have you ever wondered where you or your children may be living in 2050? Experts predict that by then three-quarters of the world's population will live in cities. For part of its Tomorrow's Cities season the BBC takes a look through the crystal ball to imagine what city life might be like in 40 years' time. I'll be 110 and a tad wrinkly.

I've been experimenting with the thistle shot again, learning a few tricks. But by the time I'd figured out how to get the best shot, the clouds came over. And I need bright sunlight to get the thistle to glow. A breeze wasn't helping either, blowing the thistle in and out of focus. BUT I searched the yard and found 3 more thistles. So tomorrow afternoon (depending on what's happening with PJ) I'll try again. It's all practice, ladies and genitals, all practice. I'm sure passers by in the street think I'm a few bob short of a quid.

Anyway, by this time tomorrow, I'll know how PJ has come through the surgery. Apart from removing the bottom box, they need to make a new frame to hold the camper and two side boxes together, and sit between the side rails of the tray. The camper is about a foot wider than the tray, 6" per side. So I hope there are no complications. They start at 7am which I'm NOT looking forward to, but I'll be wearing my long johns.

Oops! Almost forgot to empty the bottom box! So I just did that and put all the stuff in the garage. There's a fair bit so it's gonna be a bit tricky to get it all back in again, especially with the jacks stored in one of the side bins. The tool boxes will help but they're limited to smaller items. Anyway, I'm pretty good at organizing storage.

So that's it for Thors day. And as OR Richie says: ...and good luck of course with Andrew and the Engineering folk of Peter and company.... sounds fun in a way, and can sense that you're really looking forward to that part of the project. It's a fairly major operation and one I hadn't anticipated until the camper was on board the Courier and I'd driven the rig around a bit, including the haul to Port Mac and back. But I think I'll be happier with the new arrangement despite losing quite a bit of storage. Anyway, I'll know soon enough! Gary

August 21, 2013. TX Greg wrote: Well that's great news, Stan helped you get your nuts off, hehe :)


Now I take it Stan is pretty smart, but I hope Stan did something BEFORE fasting those fittings back together. The one end that goes to the copper tubing is a flare fitting that does just screw on, BUT that other end that screws to the hose looks like a pipe fitting. That can NOT just be screwed in. It requires either what we call pipe dope, pipe joint compound or Teflon tape to be applied to the threads BEFORE screwing together, otherwise it WILL leak. I'm bring that up because you didn't say the bloke that sold you the fitting also sold you one of those items.

I knew that! Okay... so I didn't know that. But I just read this article about the difference between joint compound and Teflon tape. I'll go with the Teflon.

"Even if there is a prob, the gas switch automatically shuts everything down." Is this what you bought...

Yep... exactly the same model and brand.

Gary that will only shut off in a extreme flow rate, like if you were to wreck and totally rupture a line. it will NOT shut down for a small leak. How could it, you have to have flow to run the stove or fridge.  To use the gauge for detecting for leaks, you would open the bottle to pressurize the system. Then turn the LP Bottle off and I would wait 24 hours to see if the gauge dropped.

The switch has directions for checking leaks. After step 5 "close cylinder valve" it says (6) Observe the gauge for up to 45 seconds. If the needle remains stationary, NO LEAKS exist. (7) If the needle moves towards EMPTY within 45 seconds, A GAS LEAK exists. Find and repair the source of the leak(s). (8) ALWAYS perform a leak test before using an appliance.

As to detecting leaks, it says The GasSwitch will cut off the supply of gas when it detects a sudden increase in the flow of gas. This may be caused by a failure of the hose, regulator or appliance. If the GasSwitch cut off device activates, immediately turn off the cylinder valve.

I also see in the other Ford pic the same mystery rod is there on the frame. Ford put it there for some reason, right?

Not necessarily. Mazda did. Maybe there are a few differences between the Mazda version and the Ford re-badged version.

Back from shopping for a few bits and pieces including a roll of Teflon tape at the plumber supply shop. You've set me back $2, Greg. But I appreciate your professional advice in such matters, particularly when it involves an involuntary trip to the moon. The tape is pink and comes in a pink container so I asked the bloke at the counter if it was for girls. Hehe. He wasn't amused. Ho hum, heard it all before.

There's a bit of Teflon showing but that's as far as the fitting will screw on tightly (without being too tight). The Teflon is interesting the way it clings to the groove of the thread like a second skin.

Meanwhile, FL Josh, being the helpful little Floridian he is, wrote this: Here's a link that will show your readers what you mean by a spanner wrench.

Mischievous NC Art on the other hand, sent this Borowitz report about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his fallout with the GOP.

Not content with that little gem, Art also sent this: AIRCRAFT HITS FOUR BUILDINGS. Scares the crap out of everyone.

From the Beeb: Number 10 was involved in discussions with the Guardian about material it had obtained from American whistle-blower Edward Snowden, it has emerged. Prime Minister David Cameron ordered Britain's top civil servant Sir Jeremy Heywood to contact the newspaper. It came after the Guardian published details about secret US and British surveillance programmes. Editor Alan Rusbridger said it was later forced to destroy the computer hard drives storing the information.

With more than 50 million Hispanics living in the US, the Latino community is now the country's biggest minority. While most are brought up within the Catholic Church, a number of them are turning to Islam. Precise figures are difficult to pin down as the US Census does not collect religious data, but estimates for the number of Latino Muslims vary between 100,000 and 200,000. It's a bit like ditching Mickey Mouse in favor of Bugs Bunny.

Three Oklahoma teenagers have been charged in the death of an Australian who was gunned down in broad daylight as he jogged on a road in the US state. College baseball player Christopher Lane, 22, was shot in the back in the town of Duncan on Friday. Police said one of the accused admitted Lane was killed for "the fun of it". This is the story I referred to yesterday.

I saw the mother of one of those teens interviewed on telly. "Life in prison? He don't need that. Execution for murder? He don't need that," she said. So there ya go, it's everyone's right to have children.

FL Josh is into little league, and so too, it appears, is Oz: The Little League World Series is taking place in Williamsport, Pennsylvania right now and Australia has a team competing for the first time ever.  Little League is growing in leaps and bounds in Australia, and they changed the regions this year so that Australia is now its own region and will always have a team entering.  Australia's team is new to all this and it was clear their coach had prepared them to be outplayed but to enjoy the experience and they are one of the most likeable teams there.  Their coach is also one of the most admirable in the way he treats his kids and talks to them.

Here are two links, the first telling a bit about the Aussie team and Little League in Australia.  The Second is a bit long, about 20 minutes, and is about last year's championship, but it is the best I could find towards capturing what it is all about.

A good story I forgot to mention was that about a year ago, one of the players saw his favorite baseball player in a restaurant and went up to him and asked for his autograph.  That baseball player is working with ESPN as an analyst this week and remembered the boy so went up to him in The Grove, and asked for HIS autograph.

I'm wondering if my ex boss from the late 70s and early 80s has something to do with the Australian little league team. He's been a baseball fanatic and caller for many years. He also went to China for an Australian TV network to report on the baseball at the Olympics. Maybe he's too old now at 69, soon 70.

I'm afraid I have little or no interest in sport apart from a moderate interest in major events like the Olympics, and even then only in a few sports. But I do have an interest in folding steps for motorhomes. Mine arrived today in readiness for PJ's bumectomy. They're about 12" short of the deck so that'll be fine.

A group of guys, all age 40, discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the waitresses there were gorgeous, with tight skirts, perky breasts and nice bums.

Ten years later, at age 50, the friends once again discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the food and service was good and the wine selection was excellent.

Ten years later, at age 60, the friends again discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because they could dine in peace and quiet and the restaurant had a beautiful view of the ocean.

Ten years later, at age 70, the friends discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the restaurant was wheelchair accessible and had an elevator.

Ten years later, at age 80, the friends discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View Restaurant, because they had never been there before and heard it was quite good

I'll be doing that on the Odyssey... going around in circles and thinking how wonderful it is to be seeing new things all the time. Hehe. Anyway, my quota for today is up. Oh yes... just remembered something I thought about today. There's a whole bunch of people doing the Big Lap and keeping a blog. So what's my USP, as they call it in advertising - my unique selling point? Just two little letters - me. Is that enough to make my Odyssey different? I hope so. Too bad if it ain't. By the way, OR Richie thinks my new regulator hose is very noice. Gary

August 20, 2013. "Sorry, we don't have anything that small. Go around the corner to the camping place. They might have what you're looking for." "No, we don't have anything like that here, mate. Try the Gas Man next on the right." "No, we don't do that kinda thing here. What did you say? You need a joiner? Try Pirtek, next on the right about half way along." So I went to Pirtek. Fluid connectors? Tires? What the hell? "I dunno why they sent me here," I said to the bloke behind the counter then showed him the old regulator hose and the new one. "I need a joiner for the new one that's the same as the old one." The bloke didn't say a word. He took my old hose over to a wall of little plastic drawers that housed all kinds of small metal thingies. "Oh? This looks promising," I said. At least he was looking. After a few failed attempts, he approached the counter again with the piece I needed. "And that'll cost you $3.75." I was astonished. I'd already given up hope of ever being able to connect the new hose to the old copper tubing. "You've made my day," I said. "I'm ecstatic!" "That's why they sent you here," he said matter of factly. Then he advised me to do the soapy water trick to test for leaks, using a spray bottle with water and a little detergent.

That stuff on the end of the old regulator hose by the way is a piece of tape to stop the bugs from getting in while it was unconnected.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot... how did I manage to disconnect the old hose? Stan the Lawn man turned up so I gave him the big sob story. "Lemme see what I can do," he said. He's the type of bloke who reckons he can do anything, and loves to prove it. Hehe. It cost me a Bandaid though cos he banged his knuckle. TX Greg will be glad to know that Stan used the "squeeze" method with two spanners.

That was so funny on the "Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs". That was really easy to read. And speaking of spelling I see I miss-spelled wrenches on the right side of that pic. Well you taught me another Oz word. We say wrenches, you say spanners :)

Wrenches are adjustable, spanners are set to a specific size. My spanners are double ended... open at one end, and a ring at the other. I have two sets, one SAE and one metric. I also have two large wrenches and several smaller ones.

The reason I suggested Ford take a peek is because that pipe really should be extended out from under the wood bed for safety. Not to mention now with the camper mounted, exhaust could get inside. If it did come new from the factory with the pipe turned out the side and that will interfere with the new box, then and easy straight pipe out the back to clear the tray should work. Guess it really doesn't have to be Ford, any muffler shop could fix that right up. Do you also call them Muffler Shops???

Yep, we have muffler shops and/or exhaust shops. Ford checked the ute back in December for registration and passed the exhaust. I can't remember ever seeing a ute with a side exhaust. Here's another Courier - same model, same exhaust. The bed is not wood by the way, it's a sheet of aluminium.

Had a weird phone call last night about 6. The bloke didn't ask for anyone but he sounded like Lindsay's dad who's a bit of a practical joker. So I said, "Who do you wanna talk to?" and he said, "Anybody!" So I figured it was Lindsay's dad and I said, "Okay, I'm anybody." But it wasn't. The bloke said, "I'm holding a note here that says 'Sorry but I backed into your car today.' And it's got your phone number on it. It happened at Coles car park." What? So I told the bloke I hadn't been anywhere near Coles and that it must be a practical joke. Anyway, it turned out that he was talking about Coles in Wingham, which made it even more ridiculous. I told him I was from Taree. I also asked him about the damage to his vehicle and he hadn't even had a look yet hehe. Sheesh. So I wished him well and said goodbye.

From the Beeb: The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, General Guide Mohammed Badie, has been arrested in Cairo, Egyptian officials say. Reports said he was detained at a residential flat in Nasr City. A state of emergency is in force in Egypt amid turmoil following a crackdown on Islamists in which hundreds have died. Three days of mourning are being held for 25 police killed in Sinai by suspected Islamic militants. Here we go again.

The CIA has released documents which for the first time formally acknowledge its key role in the 1953 coup which ousted Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadeq. The documents were published on the independent National Security Archive on the 60th anniversary of the coup. They come from the CIA's internal history of Iran from the mid-1970s. "The military coup... was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy," says one excerpt. And it was all about oil.

The 87-year-old actor Dick Van Dyke has escaped unscathed after his car burst into flames on a freeway in the Los Angeles area. Passers-by saw him seemingly slumped over in the driver's seat on the shoulder of the Ventura freeway, but actually trying to make a phone call, Van Dyke said. They "yanked me out of the car" before it went up in flames. He said he had not realised the Jaguar was on fire.

Catching the last bus: Some might face this news as they might the passing of a Golden Age Hollywood actor: “Wow. He was still alive?” In fact, the Volkswagen Type 2 – which debuted in 1950 and has been known variously as the Transporter, the Microbus, the Bulli, the Hippie Van and, in Portugal, the Breadloaf – has been built in Brazil since 1957, giving it the longest production run of any passenger automobile in history. Production of the Type 2 continued in Germany and the US until 1979; in Argentina until 1986; and in Mexico until 1996. The holdout, Volkswagen do Brasil, has at last announced the retirement of the line at the end of this year.

BR João wrote An Old Guy's extravagancy: Diversity is the salt of the earth, I agree, but some guys go too long. Why didn’t he use a spoon? What a bizarre story!

The Beeb didn't carry this story I saw on local telly last night. A young Aussie baseballer living and working in the US was shot in the back and killed while jogging in a park in Oklahoma. It was a random drive-by shooting by 3 teens who "just felt like killing someone".

Well, the new gas regulator and hose is attached to the copper tubing. Stan removed the gas bottle this morning to increase elbow room so it's in the garage. I'll connect it all up later, including the gas switch. Nice to know I managed to bypass a regular gas fitting person because they just don't wanna know about small timers like me and their little jobs. Bugger 'em. Once I've connected everything and checked for leaks, it should be fine. Even if there is a prob, the gas switch automatically shuts everything down. I've also got the AO alarm inside the van as well.

So there goes another day with a positive note! Three more sleeps till PJ gets her bottom smacked, then I'll count the pennies and figure out when I can order the tool boxes. Meanwhile, it's time to update Waffle and think about stuffing my face with dinner. Oh, BTW, that photo I took - Siblings - was accepted by the Old Farts group on Red Bubble, and they only accept high quality stuff. So that's encouraging! Byeeeee! Gary

August 19, 2013. Every now and then, you crack a goodie - a special photograph - and this is the one I got this morning. As usual, click on the image to enlarge it.

FL Josh wrote: That spare tire is atrocious and obviously came off a vehicle that was way out of alignment.  Were the tires you replaced worse than that? Can't remember but I don't think so. They were on the back and fairly worn. The front ones were near new so the tire bloke put those on the back and the newies on the front, then did a wheel balance and alignment.

TX Greg wrote: Hmmm that is a mystery on that rod. Wonder if maybe that was a tail pipe hanger support when the truck was new and the pipe turned and came out the side. You can see in the pic that the tail pipe looks like at some point something like a pipe extension had been slid up about 1/2" over the end. Perhaps the next time you're out and about swing by Ford and let them take a peek.

At what?

Wonder why you're having so much trouble getting the gas fitting loose. I'm looking at that pic again and where the hose attaches to the copper pipe is just a simple flare union fitting. Yes it would be better to set the gas bottle out to get in there. Try putting on a pair of work gloves (better leverage and protect your hands), put a wrench on each fitting with little a gap as possible, then wrap your hands around both wrenches on the outside (as to not pinch your fingers in the middle) and then squeeze both wrenches together. That is really hard to explain in words. Don't laugh at that pic, only way know how to explain and drew really fast, hehe

Could've been worse - you could've said wenches. Anyway, I tried something like that but with two spanners (and no gloves, which explains why I nicked my knuckle and bled). 

Are your LP gas bottles like ours, the fitting that screws direct into the bottle is backwards threads? If so then that gas switch would be backwards threads into the bottle and backwards threads from the regulator into the gas switch. Everything else should be righty tighty, lefty loosey, unless your talking about sex that is, hahaha

Yep, it's all confusing with left threads and right threads. Here's the article I read yesterday about changing/attaching a gas bottle. Andrew knows about this kinda stuff, and by the time he arrives again PJ will be a foot lower, so I'll wait till then. I've also posted the pic on the GN techies forum to see what others say about it.

Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs: I cdnualt blveiee taht i cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht i was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at cmabrigde uinervtisy, it deosn"t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a word are the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat be in the rghit pclae. The reset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzantghah?  Yaeh and i awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt.

From the Beeb: Brazil says the detention under British terror laws of one of its citizens at London's Heathrow airport caused "grave concern" and was "unjustified". David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who published documents leaked by Edward Snowden, was held at Heathrow for nine hours on his way to Rio de Janeiro. He reportedly had his mobile phone, laptop, DVDs and other items seized. Mr Miranda was later released by British authorities. Yes, it's a bit of a worry when journalists are intimidated for doing their job.

The first same-sex weddings have taken place in New Zealand after the country became the first in the Asia-Pacific region and 14th in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Thirty-one same-sex couples had been due to marry on Monday, according to the Department of Internal Affairs. The what? Internal affairs? Hmmm.

This year Australia welcomed the 800,000th refugee to be resettled since the country's independence from the United Kingdom in 1901. This former penal colony has harnessed their verve and risk-taking, while some of Australia's richest people, including Westfield shopping mall king Frank Lowy, arrived seeking sanctuary from cruelty overseas. I suppose my ancestors could be classified as refugees; refugees from boredom and perhaps poverty.

While my plan is to travel Oz at a leisurely pace, here's an Aussie teen who is currently flying around the world solo. Here's his blog. It might be something you'd like to bookmark.

And that's it for another lovely springish day on the mid north coast of New South Wales. Funny about the 'Wales' component of this state name. I don't consider myself a new south Welshman. I'm FROM NSW but not a Welshman, new south or otherwise. If anyone asks where I'm from I usually say Sydney now living in Taree. But most of all I'm an Aussie, citizen of the world. Actually, there was a woman who spotted her husband in the kitchen wielding a fly swat. "Killing any?" she asked. "Yep, five so far... three males and two females." "How can you tell a fly's sex?" "Three were on a beer can and two were on the phone."

Did I say the bol was delish? The bol was delish... and still is. So I'm looking forward to a big bowl of that a little later. Is there such a thing as a big later? I've never heard of a big later. Hehe. Words are funny things. Imagine if we all had beaks instead of mouths. Can you imagine all the chirps and whistles? Our written language would probably look more like Morse Code. Lorikeets do that. In summer when the bottle brush is in flower, they arrive by the hundreds and settle in the trees all madly chattering at once.. a cacophony of squeaks and whistles.

Anyway, I'm outta here till the morrow. Gary

August 18, 2013. Perfect weather today - brilliant sunshine and lovely outside. Not so lovely in here though. I had another fiddle with the gas hose nuts but they won't budge. I toyed with the idea of using the leak detector on the old hose and regulator but checked Google first and read about hoses and regulators needing to be replaced at certain intervals due to wear and tear. Sooooo, I'll wait till Andrew turns up again and get him to do the job. It'll also be easier with the gas bottle out of the compartment. It's a bit cramped in there.

So no more excitement till Friday when the bottom box gets the heave ho.

About two years ago, NC Art sent a bunch of pics and humorous text about South Africa's Kulula Airline. And just to make sure I got it okay, he sent it again today hehe. If you'd like to refresh your memory about Kulula, here's the journal entry and link to the photo album - scroll about halfway down the page (July 8).

Here are a couple of pics from a GN worth having a look at. And a few more.

A 2007 study found that the average Australian walks about 900 miles a year. Another study found that Australians drink an average of 22 gallons of beer a year. That means, on average, Australians get about 41 miles per gallon. Bloody good value that! 

Well, the Beeb's pretty quiet today, as is everything here in Taree. Even the treetops are motionless in the absence of wind. I read the GN forums (fora) but there's not a lot happening there either. And PJ? Well, not a lot I can do in anticipation of the bottom box removal. I'd like to order the tool boxes now but I'm not sure what Peter's cost is gonna be so I better halt the spending (despite my little spree on Friday). The tool boxes can wait for another day. Incidentally, there's a small metal rod that will need to be removed for the tool box installation on the passenger side. You can see it welded to the chassis rail just behind the spring. Dunno what the hell it is, but it appears to be redundant. Anyone know what it's supposed to be for?

That spare tire doesn't look too flash either, and I think it could do with an upgrade. The tire bloke down the road often gets used tires in good nick so I'll pay him a visit. The chunk of steel plate with the two bolts, by the way, is part of the tow bar assembly.

So there ya go, I can't even play with my new toys. How boring. I'm expecting things to liven up in September though, provided of course the doc in Sydney gives the go ahead for the operation on my gum. Once that's healed, it'll be dentures time, and by then PJ will be done and dusted. All of which means...??? Yeah.

When I think about it, starting AO earlier this year would have been premature anyway because it's taken this long to get PJ organized. The pension can only go so far, and only so much at a time. Nonetheless, I think I've done pretty well. And I'll continue to add things once I'm on the road... a 200W solar panel, a second AGM, windows fixed... that's about it really. But those things can wait. Also, living expenses will be cheaper on the road so I'll be able to save more. My share of the power bill alone here is about $1500 and rent is $5000.

One GN the other day said he needed boots and a few other things, so he visited an Op Shop in a town somewhere and bought the lot for $20. Hehe. Anyway, 'tis getting a little late in the day and I've run outta stuff to write about. When I first started AO I wrote "I've just turned 63 and by the time I'm 73 I hope to have seen every nook and cranny of Oz." Yeah, right. How long did it take to build Rome? So almost six years later I'm still here, but at least I've come a long way and overcome quite a few obstacles (including a serious bout of cancer). But the most important thing is this: I never took my eyes off the prize, not even when I was laid up in Royal Prince Alfred IC looking like this:

Nuthin's gonna stop the Odyssey. Nuthin.


August 17, 2013. I was expecting Andrew to phone this morning but he must still be involved with his dad's house or whatever it is he's doing in Sydney. Oh well... no rush, I guess. It's only 12C at the mo with a layer of high cloud, heading for 24C, so I'll wait till it's a bit warmer before I put on my gas fitter's hat. Can't be too hard to screw a few things together.

I've been making bolognaise for donkey's years but I just made the easiest one ever... getting ready for cooking on the road. Canned and dried stuff is a real no brainer. Brown ground veal in some olive oil, add dried onion and garlic to veal as it's browning (to stop the dried onion and garlic from burning). Once browned., add small can of sliced champignons in butter sauce, 1 sachet of tomato paste, 1 cup water, mix, add sachet of bolognaise sauce mix (wet type), some ground pepper, a dash or two of Tabasco, simmer for 10 minutes, and voila! Done.

The small fridge doesn't have a full width freezer - just a little pokey one - so cooking is the best way to preserve stuff when camped too far from town for regular shopping. Some GNs solve the fresh "meat" problem with a rod and reel but I'm not particularly piscatorially predilected. Yabbies (fresh water crays) are also popular with campers. I'll settle for a can of salmon or tuna. Actually, I love home made fish cakes. And CHIPS of course. I'll always have a few fresh spuds on hand.

Well, the gas thing was a non event. I couldn't loosen the old regulator nuts. Been there too long, I guess. It was last certified by a gas inspector in '84. So I gave it a spray of WD40 and I'll leave it for a few days. Bleh.

A year or so ago, the BBC posted its correspondent Nick Bryant to Australia. He's a great writer, and I saw him appear often on local current affairs programs. But now the Beeb has given him a new assignment, and posted him to New York. Read his first report.

On the streets of Cairo it's not just a fledgling democracy that lies in ruin. US policy too is in tatters - in the eyes of many - or at least America's reputation and credibility. Since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the US has struggled to strike a balance between support for the tenuous progress towards democracy and protection of its national security interests. The White House has tried hard to work with whoever is in power in Egypt but has ended up with no friends and little influence in Cairo

The Lockheed U-2 helped create Area 51 and spied on the Soviet Union from the edge of space. It's still in service 57 years later. BBC Future peers into its fascinating history

Here's a GN with a few bob in his kick hehe This is his rig with 5th wheeler. Wow.

On the Tips and Ideas forum I saw a handy one... quick, cheap and easy fire starters. Rub Vaseline into cotton balls and store in a zip plastic bag. Vaseline is handy for lots of things. Hehe. And that's all I'm sayin. Someone else said corn chips make good fire starters as well.

Ronald Reagan and Nancy reckon this bloke is not only talented but funny. What's more, you don't often see a juggler who's also a comedian. Check it out.

And that's about it for Satdee Waffle. I was hoping to become an instant gas fitter today but, alas, it was not to be. Perhaps that explains why I'm still alive to tell the tale hehe. Gary

August 16, 2013. Too long between prezzies, I reckon, so I went shopping at Supercheap Auto. Got me a new Campmaster gas regulator with hose, a Campmaster gas switch (leak detector and gas level indicator) and a 4-man dome tent. The gas switch was on spesh at half price and the tent was a stock sellout at just $40. My last tent was nicked from the Falcon ute. I only ever put it up in the backyard but always considered it a useful thing to have as emergency accommodation in case PJ gets struck by a meteor or whatever. 

Meanwhile, the blob of Silastic sealant on the copper gas tubing that TX Greg spotted in a photo, and went ballistic about, is probably a precautionary measure rather than a repair. The gas bloke who looked at it (and then didn't turn up for the job) said, "but that's a nut joint", as if to say it's not a crack or hole. So I figure the gas switch will soon determine whether or not there's a fault. It's a branded item that conforms to Australian Standards and is guaranteed for 3 years so it should be reliable. It'll also be useful as a gauge.

I also went to the Nuts and Bolts place to get some new bolts for the channel rail at the back of PJ. The existing bolts are rusted to the sheethouse. As I walked into the N&B place, there was a bloke at the counter laughing himself silly at a picture in today's Telegraph. Scroll down to see our PM Kevin Rudd  being investigated by a bomb squad canine. Hehe. What a classic! That'll be all over the TV news tonight.

I've not heard back from the folding step seller about the availability of a 3-step version so I guess a 2-step is it. TX Greg reckons I should go with the 2-step, so I measured the height of the ute tray - 730mm. The height of the steps is 435mm so that leaves a 300mm gap, which is 1 foot. Not exactly a giant leap, so it should be fine.

Matter of bloody fact, I just bought it. They only had 4 left, and there's not many of those things about.

So there's a bit of excitement! And $145 spent all up. Oh well... that's what money is for, and I think I got my money's worth.

Another thing I noticed after casually inspecting PJ this morning in the sunshine was that the brackets that currentlly connect turnbuckles to the ute tray will be a foot lower once the bottom box is gone. Hello? It'll be at the same level as the tray height. So goodbye turnbuckles. That won't be a prob at the rear cos I'll use Peter's brackets to bolt onto the channel rail, which will be just above tray height. At the front, there's a second pair of brackets higher up, to which chains are currently connected. They'll come down a foot too, so I'll connect them to the tray rather than the uprights. She'll be right, mate, no worries.

From the Beeb: The Egyptian capital Cairo is poised for renewed protests as supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi call for marches after Friday prayers. It comes two days after authorities broke up Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in the Egyptian capital with the loss of at least 638 lives. Egypt is in a state of emergency and police have been authorised to use live ammunition in self-defence. Meanwhile, Egypt's interim leaders have criticised remarks by President Obama. Maybe those Middle Eastern people are just too culturally immature to embrace democracy.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) broke privacy rules and overstepped its legal authority thousands of times in the past two years, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden. The incidents resulted in the unauthorised electronic surveillance of US citizens, according to documents published by the Washington Post. Mr Snowden, a former NSA contractor, has leaked top secret documents to the US and British media. Power corrupts, yes?

Two powerful earthquakes have rocked the New Zealand capital, Wellington, but there were no immediate reports of major damage. The first quake, with a magnitude of 6.5, struck close to the South Island town of Seddon at 14:31 (02:31 GMT) and was followed by a 5.7 aftershock. The tremors were felt across central New Zealand, sending workers rushing from buildings in Wellington. They ain't called the 'shaky isles' for nuthin ya know.

Did you see an airship today? No? Beautiful, mystical and elegant, the airborne equivalent of an ocean liner is a wonderful idea, but as James May explains some bad PR put paid to them

You know the way kids use the word 'like' these days. Like I was talking to this other kid and he like said he had a really cool time at the like movies and... Hehe. Well, at Supercheap Auto a young girl was asking the shop assistant about steering wheel covers. She was holding one she fancied and wanted to know if it would fit. So the assistant explained the difference between standard size steering wheels and the sporty types. The girl responded with, "It's only like a Mitsubishi..." Oh? Like a Mitsubishi? That could mean anything. Or IS it a Mitsubishi? Where did this 'like' thing come from anyway? The shop assistant solved the matter by saying, "It should fit. If it doesn't, bring it back and we'll exchange it or give you a refund."

You'll love this vid... a geriatric traffic jam.

A man wakes up in the hospital bandaged from head to foot. The doctor comes in and says, Ah, I see youve regained consciousness. Now you probably wont remember, but you were in a huge pile-up on the freeway. Youre going to be okay, youll walk again and everything, however, your penis was severed in the accident and we couldnt find it.

The man groans, but the doctor goes on, You have $9000 in insurance compensation coming and we now have the technology to build a new penis. They work great but they dont come cheap. Its roughly $1000 an inch.

The man perks up.

So, the doctor says, You must decide how many inches you want. I understand that you have been married for over thirty years and this is something you should discuss with your wife. If you had a five incher before and get a nine incher now she might be a bit put out. If you had a nine incher before and you decide to only invest in a five incher now, she might be disappointed. Its important that she plays a role in helping you make a decision.

The man agrees to talk it over with his wife.

The doctor comes back the next day, So, have you spoken with your wife?

Yes I have, says the man.

And has she helped you make a decision?

Yes, she has, says the man.

What is your decision? asks the doctor.

Were getting granite kitchen tops.
An  older gentleman had an appointment to see the urologist  who shared  offices with several other doctors. The waiting room was filled with  patients.   As he  approached the receptionist's desk, he noticed that the receptionist  was a large unfriendly woman who looked like a Sumo wrestler. He  gave her his name. In a  very loud voice, the receptionist said, "YES,  I HAVE YOUR NAME HERE. YOU  WANT TO SEE THE DOCTOR ABOUT IMPOTENCE,  RIGHT?" 

All  the patients in the waiting room snapped their heads around to look at the very embarrassed man. He  recovered quickly, and in an equally loud voice  replied, 'NO,  I'VE COME TO INQUIRE ABOUT A SEX CHANGE  OPERATION, BUT  I DON'T WANT THE SAME DOCTOR THAT DID  YOURS.'

And here we are again, time to wrap the Waffle and attend to domestic duties. Been a fairly intersting day... like the old saying, a purchase a day keeps the blues away. Gary

August 15, 2013. Pay day today. In and out, roundabout, never enough to shout about. However, I did win two smaller prizes on Lotto this week. Wheeeeeee! Everything happens in threes, roite? Stay tooned!

NC Art sent this. It's supposed to be a scientific study of women versus men drivers, with the dog as judge:

Art also sent this: Toward the end of the Sunday service, the Minister asked, "How many of you have forgiven your enemies?"  80% held up their hands.  The Minister then repeated his question.  All responded this time, except one man, golfer Walter Barnes, who attended church only when the weather was bad.

"Mr. Barnes, it's obviously not a good morning for golf.  It's good to see you here today.  Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?"

"I don't have any," he replied gruffly.

"Mr. Barnes, that is very unusual.  How old are you?"

"Ninety-eight," he replied.

The congregation stood up and clapped their hands. "Oh, Mr. Barnes, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years and not have an enemy in the world?"

The old golfer tottered down the aisle, stopped in front of the pulpit, turned around, and faced the congregation. "I outlived all them assholes," he said before calmly returning to his seat

From the Beeb: There has been strong international condemnation of the deadly crackdown against protest camps in the Egyptian capital Cairo. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the events were "deplorable" and "a real blow to reconciliation efforts". EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also deplored the use of force. The interim government has declared a state of emergency and a curfew was in force across parts of Egypt overnight. One suspects the interim government and the military couldn't give a rat's ass about world opinion.

Pte First Class Bradley Manning has apologised for hurting the US by leaking a trove of classified US government documents to Wikileaks. At a sentencing hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland, Pte Manning, 25, said he had mistakenly believed he could "change the world for the better". And he said that in retrospect, he should have worked "inside the system". Pte Manning, 25, faces up to 90 years in prison following his conviction in July on 20 espionage and other charges

The 10 most famous cars sold at auction. Got a cool half million or more?

And on the subject of cars, OR Richie sent this link to an article on electric cars built early last century, and suggests that the oldies are better than the newies.

Been another slow day. Bit of shopping, an errand for Lindsay to pick up a prescription from the doc, and that's about it. PJ is running well after the Italian Tune-up to Port Mac and back, and I'm a lot more confident driving the rig now. I'm expecting a call from Andrew in the morning to say he'll be here on Saturday morning. That'll ease the boredom a bit. I'm itching for a bit of PJ action!

There was a bloke selling waterless car polish in the parking lot at the Mall. He spotted me and asked how I was doing, if I drove a car, etc. Then he started on the spiel about the car polish but I told him I already bought some 2 years ago. "It's in the garage. I haven't used it yet. In fact, I've had two different cars since then." So he said, "Well, I'll let you go then." People always use that expression when they really mean, "Well, you're no good to me, piss off then." Or, "I'm getting bored with this conversation, so I'm outta here." If Sue's in the loo and Lindsay is desperate to go, he stands at the door and says, "Sue? Are you gonna be long?" What would he do if she said, "Yes." Hehe. My doc is far less subtle (and I've told him so). When time's up, he goes to his surgery door and opens it. But I've wised up and say something like, "Where are you going?"

Hope you can read that small print. Rolls Royce never advertised when I was a kid so obviously things were different back in the early '30s. I imagine By Appointment to HLM The Emperor of Japan would have been scrubbed during the early '40s as well. Hehe. So, I'm off to telly land and a spot of feasting. Catch you tomorrow. Gary

August 14, 2013. Lots of measuring today, figuring out what fits where after the bottom box goes. I think it'll all work out okay. I also made a boo boo about the tool boxes. They come in pairs but not a pair per side. The pair is for one each side, in this case both behind the rear wheel. So that solves the problem of the fuel filler hose being in the way. I was gonna get 4 but I suppose 2 is enough. Cheaper too!

As to the folding steps TX Greg recommended, they're too short so I've asked the seller if they have a 3-step.

Francois forwarded this: I've received many remarkable nature photographs over the years but this photo of a nesting Falcon is perhaps the most remarkable Nature shot that I've ever seen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Nature is truly breath-taking! (you'd imagine this text is not mine and I pasted it as received...)

and even if you aren't fond of skateboarding, do you think my new hip will someday give me the chance to do something as this:

In a word, Francois? No. However, in the case of the nesting Falcon, it looks like there was a flood at one time and the floating wreck was dumped there. Either that or the driver was going too fast when he hit a speed hump.

NC Art contributed this one:

Travel Plans for 2013-2014

I have been in many places, but I've never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can't go alone.. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane. They don't have an airport. You have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my children, friends, and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

I may have been in Continent, and I don't remember what country I was in. It's an age thing. They tell me it is very wet and damp there.

From the Beeb: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has criticised his election rival after opposition leader Tony Abbott praised a candidate's "sex appeal". Mr Rudd, who faces an uphill battle in the 7 September polls, said national leaders should set an example. Mr Abbott has put his comments down to "exuberance". It's along the lines of Obama's comment about that good looking lawyer. What the hell? What's wrong or politically incorrect about giving a compliment where a compliment is due? Just because a person is sexy doesn't mean they're not intelligent as well. Rudd is grabbing at straws. Besides, Abbot the other day in his nationally televised debate with Rudd used the word 'suppository' when he meant 'repository' hehe. Oops!

I've often seen GNs on the forum asking about TVs and satellite dishes and antenna, etc, as if TV reception while traveling Oz is a major concern. But just now I read one GN comment about the two TVs he has in his van. One is never used and the other has been turned on twice in two years hehe. I suggested the other day to someone that they "watch" the news on the radio. That way they can enjoy the view at the same time. I'll be taking my TV but I don't expect to be using it much. 

Did you know it's Left Handers Day? Yep, and I'm a leftie despite doing many things right handed. Mouse, left handed. Laptop touch pad, right handed. Table tennis bat, left. Golf club, right. I write left handed but if I "write" with my finger through the air I use my right hand. Weird.

Very quiet day today, folks. Or maybe all that measuring of PJ gobbled up the day. At least it served a purpose - I'm no longer wondering if everything will fit, and I've sorted the tool boxes business. And now it's time for the usual routine. BTW, OR Richie thought the pics of the old Rover were nice... a bygone era. That's what cars represent, I think... various eras. They're like songs in that we associate them with a time and place as well as people, including ourselves. Gary

August 13, 2013. Peter's foreman agrees with me that his boss is hopeless hehe. I spoke to the foreman this morning and he took at look at PJ to assess the work involved in removing the bottom storage box. Looks simple enough but it could be a Pandora's box depending on what he finds. He figures it's about a day's work. The tool boxes can be fitted afterwards, so no need to worry about those just yet. And the tray doesn't need to be empty for the boxes to be fitted. Also, I can use the truck while work on the camper proceeds. So it's nice to have all that sorted. All I have to do now is phone Peter to organize a day.

Another plus about having the bottom box removed is it'll be easier to use the jacks. They're a bit stretched at the mo with the extra height.

I'm expecting Andrew this weekend to fit the solenoid/isolator and reposition the rear view camera (for the bike rack), so I'd better watch the pennies.

It was 30C yesterday. Sheesh. That's certainly not a winter temp, or even a spring temp! That's a summer temp! But it's back to 22 today, which is still warmer than the average winter temp. Most pleasant indeed. Coincidentally, just received a note from Youtube about a comment on my video of Sydney on a Winter's Morning: Can't believe July is the dead of winter over there. That's so bizarre when you live in the northern hemisphere

Yesterday, I mentioned wind in the tree tops as I drove to Port Mac and back. A more gusty version sprang up later in the afternoon but it was pretty mild to what Sydney experienced. Gale force winds down there uprooted trees and toppled power lines. I don't think I'd remain on the road in those conditions, thank you very much. 

Roite, well the job at Peter's is organized for Friday week at - wait for it - 7am. Sheesh.

From the Beeb: The US has urged the Palestinians "not to react adversely" to Israel's approval of 1,200 new settlement homes only days before peace talks resume. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday's move was "to some degree expected", but stressed that Washington considered settlements "illegitimate". This "underscores the importance of getting to the table quickly", he told reporters during a visit to Colombia. Pretty worn out old table.

Bottle light inventor proud to be poor: Alfredo Moser is a modern-day Thomas Edison, whose invention is lighting up the world. In 2002, the Brazilian mechanic had his own light-bulb moment and came up with way of illuminating his house during the day without electricity - using nothing more than plastic bottles filled with water and a tiny bit of bleach. In the last two years his idea has spread throughout the world. It is expected to be in one million homes by early next year

Former US President Bill Clinton has been travelling around Africa with his daughter, Chelsea, visiting Clinton Foundation projects. He spoke to the BBC's Komla Dumor about Obama's legacy in Africa and the growing influence of China.

There have been quite a few Milky Way shots on Red Bubble lately. Here's another one that'll blow your mind. Don't forget to click to enlarge.

And on the subject of things astronomical:

The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert.  After they got their tent all set up both men fell sound asleep. Some hours later Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, "Kemo Sabe look towards sky, what you see?"

The Lone Ranger replies "I see millions of stars..."

"What that tell you?" asked Tonto.

The Lone Ranger ponders for minute then says "Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.  Astrologically it tells me that Saturn is in Leo.  Time wise it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning.  Theologically the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant.  Meteorologically it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.  What's it tell you Tonto?".

Tonto says "You dumber than buffalo shit.  It means someone stole the tent!".

And now a little story about our neighbors across the Tasman:

Two Kiwis, Trevor and Jeanette, are walking down a street in Bondi in Sydney. Trevor happens to look in one of the shop windows and sees a sign that catches his eye. The sign said 'Suits $10.00 each, Shirts $4.00 each, Trousers $5.00 per pair'

Trevor says to his pal, ' Jeanette, look!  We could buy a whole lot of those, and whin we get beck to InZid, we could make a fortune. Now whin we go unto the shop, you be quiet, okay? Just lit me do all the talking cause uf they hear our accint, they might not be nice to us. I'll speak in my bist Aussie accint.' 

'No worries,' smiled Jeanette, 'I'll keep my mouth shut.' They go in and Trevor says, 'I'll take fufty suits et $10.00 each, 100 shirts et $4.00 each, and fufty pairs of trousers et $5.00 each. I'll beck up my truck and...'

The owner of the shop interrupts, 'You're from New Zealand , aren't you?'

'Well... Yis,' says a surprised Trevor. 'How the hill dud you know thet?'

The owner says, 'This is a dry cleaners!'.

Oregon Richie is a diehard Rover fan, particularly Land Rover, a fine example of which he owns. His sweet wife also drives a Landy. My mother liked Rovers which she believed were 'the poor man's Rolls Royce'. Here's a 1949 Rover 75 Saloon I remember as a kid, and with which Richie may be unfamiliar. Terribly British, what?

And now I must bid thee farewell for yet another day, dear Breth. A bit of telly and supper awaits. Gary

August 12, 2013. Thanks to FL Josh for wishing me well. He got in early last night. And to OR Richie and TX Greg for wishing me a safe trip. There was some mix-up with appointments and I wasn't supposed to be there. So I did what all grumpy old farts do and kicked up a stink about having driven all the way from Taree, and it worked. Hehe. Not only did it work, I got to see the nutritionist, the understudy doc and the main doc as well! All agree that I'm doing well despite needing to put on a bit more weight.

And PJ? Well, she wasn't frightening at all. In some areas the tree tops were waving about frantically but I didn't notice much wind effect on the camper. Even when big, long trucks went past at speed, the buffeting wasn't alarming in the least. BUT... she was chewing a bit of juice. I daresay she'll be noticeably more economical once the camper is lowered and the flat area in front is reduced. The engine performed pretty well. I sat on about 80km/h most of the way (which extended my trip by about 15 minutes). She slowed on a couple of long inclines but got all the way there (and back) in 4th gear.

On the way back, I noticed the engine temp gauge creeping up a bit too far so I pulled off the highway and into a small village where I parked under the shade of a tree to let the engine cool for while. Then I took a look. The coolant was low, so I topped it up from one of the two large containers on board PJ. No probs after that. I've been getting a bit lazy in that department because of all the short trips I do. The Falcon must have had a different system cos it never needed topping up. 

I've been dreading this trip to Port Macquarie for ages, imagining all kinds of dramatic scenarios like the wind blowing me off a bridge, or a passing truck causing me to suddenly veer off course, or PJ wobbling about like a drunken sailor. None of that happened. In fact, the entire trip was a non event. Moreover, despite considerable wind resistance, the engine performed very well and better than I'd anticipated.

TX Greg wrote: I see in the current pics how the pool ladder hangs on those hooks below the door. Did you forget about something. Ok, so if you hang this new ladder on the 3rd rung and use the upper ladder sides as handles,  how do you plan on closing the door or fly screen without removing the ladder each and every time???

Ummm... yeah... how long have I got to answer?

From the Beeb: Jon Oringer, 39, founded 10 companies before he hit on the idea for Shutterstock, the successful stock-photo website that has made him Silicon Alley's first billionaire. "I'd failed a whole bunch of times before that and I was willing to fail again," says Mr Oringer of his decision to go into the photography business, something he knew nothing about.

India is set to unveil its first home-built aircraft carrier from a shipyard in southern Kerala state. The 37,500 tonne INS Vikrant is expected to go for extensive trials in 2016 before being inducted into the navy by 2018, reports say. With this, India will join a select group of countries capable of building such a vessel. Other countries capable of building a similar ship are the US, the UK, Russia and France.

Is democracy overrated? Democracy is championed as a universal good by the West, but we over-estimate its power to guarantee personal and political freedom, argues Roger Scruton.

Well, the day is almost over (in terms of Waffle) and it's been a bit of an education. PJ is not as top heavy and ungainly as many thought - not even with the extra storage box underneath. So that's a relief. Handling should improve even further once lowered, and I'm now totally confident in her ability to handle the big tour of Oz. Economy should improve as well. She'll never be a miser carrying all that weight but I'd expect something like 12 liters per 100km or about 20mpg.

BTW, there was no shortage of motorhomes and caravans on the highway today, the majority being big expensive rigs. Poor PJ looked a bit sad by comparison. Oh well...

So that's out of the way. Next, the doc in Sydney in 3 weeks. And then? Well, we'll have to wait and see. Gary

August 11, 2013. TX Greg is worried that in my dotage I might not be able to safely negotiate the trampoline ladder I linked to yesterday. He suggests a double fold-out step specially made for caravans and motorhomes. Looking at the pics of PJ I really think with the bottom box gone that the double step model will work and Peter could fab up and weld these under the tray. No more ladder to store or be stolen, just fold up for travel :) The license plate would have to be moved, but that's a easy fix, just mount below the camper tail light lens and drill about 1/2" hole in the bottom of that lens to light the plate. And perhaps instead of spending on the lower side boxes, do this first. And you do know, one broke leg or arm is going to be more than the price of those steps!

Well, I did a bit of measuring. With the bottom box gone, the 1100mm trampoline ladder's feet will stand on the ground, while the top (3rd) rung will hang on the hooks in the channel rail just below the door. The ladder can't move sideways or backwards. That leaves the two sides of the ladder above the rung (and tray height) to act as handles. Yeah? Sounds cool to me. Cheap, and no fixing. And those handles will be pretty handy.

Now here's a PJ conversion that Richie will enjoy... Yeah, yeah, silly pic, but I was thinking the metaphor "The Odyssey Dream Takes Flight." :)

I don't think it's a silly pic at all! I love it! It reminds me of a story I watched on telly last night about an 82 y/o aerobatics pilot who's been flying for over 60 years and intends to keep flying for "another 20 years". His missus loves to fly with him, and together they've been all over Oz, particularly remote areas where larger aircraft don't (or can't) fly. He said he recently tried to rent a car and the company said he was too old. "That's ridiculous!" he complained. Mind you, you don't get a lotta traffic and crazy drivers "up there".

BTW, while I was measuring PJ I checked the porta potti crack and it seems to be holding well.

NC Art wrote: Yer roight, I did not mention the electric car, but the thing was familiar to me. In my home town in South Carolina, two old maids owned an electric buggy very much like the one you showed. It was a bit eerie to suddenly see a car roll past but without a making a sound. Cars are supposed to roar or rattle or clank … or something! The electric ghost was disconcerting. A brother who operated a motor service station was gladdened, however. Once a week the huge bank of batteries in the car had to be recharged and it took all day. Money in the till for doing nothing but clamping electrical cables to the charging post.

Now that you mention it, Art, I think you told that story once before, so I must have posted something similar at one time. I love the dark green and black two tone paint job, and the white tires. Life has changed so dramatically since those days, it makes me wonder if we're the same species.

From the Beeb: The Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Egypt's top Islamic institution, has begun inviting different political forces to talks on ending the country's political crisis. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyib hopes to oversee a national reconciliation meeting. Last week, Egypt's interim President, Adly Mansour, declared that international efforts to resolve the political crisis had "not achieved the hoped-for results". I hope the sheikh ain't called Grand for nuthin'.

From little Gaza to chunky Australia: "Well, you have certainly got a bigger patch," one of my friends in Gaza remarked as we strolled along the beach on my final sun-kissed summer evening on the shores of the Mediterranean. A little heavy of heart as I stepped around children flying kites against an ever-pinkening sky, I was about to leave the pint-sized Palestinian territory and set off on the interminable thrombosis-inducing journey to the vast expanses of Australia.

Singer Eydie Gorme, who had a hit in 1963 with Blame It On The Bossa Nova, has died in Las Vegas at the age of 84, her publicist has said. Gorme was a popular nightclub and TV singer, both with her husband Steve Lawrence and as a solo act

This image, from a summer day in 1963, appears to show nothing more than a packed car park at London Airport (renamed Heathrow in 1966, after the hamlet – Heath Row – that was demolished in 1944 to build it). But to aficionados of vintage European cars of the less-than-exotic variety, it is pure gold. A keen eye will spot a Ford Consul, a Riley 1.5s, a Hillman Minx, a Triumph Herald, a Morris Oxford, a Singer Vogue and a very grand Jaguar Mark IX. What other tin treasures can you identify? Most of those cars were a regular sight on Oz roads so it's pretty easy for me.

There was a brief sunshower a few minutes ago and I spotted a rainbow through the window.

One more sleep before I toddle off to Port Macquarie to see the doc. The forecast is for similar weather tomorrow, which means sunny and warm, in fact about 3 degrees warmer than today, with light winds. So it'll be interesting to see what it's like pushing all that metal through the air for a couple of hours. And even more interesting to compare it later with the new "lowered" version.

Another quiet day today. Even the GN forum is quiet. So it's hooroo until I get back from Port tomorrow. Gary

August 10, 2013. No one mentioned the photo album of the Broc electric car I posted the other day. Oh well... I thought it was really cute.

After dinner and the news on TV last night, I gathered all the bits and pieces and tools I'd need for the hose job, sat on the easy chair and proceeded to do my thing. Not the prettiest looking squishy hose in town but hopefully it'll do the job... and it still fits into a small box.

See? I haven't even hit the road yet and already I'm a proficient bush mechanic.

Strange noises coming from the kitchen. Lindsay is probably doing something dumb. Sounds like popping. Ignore him, I say. I really can't be bothered investigating whatever it is he's doing. Besides, I'm busy doing other things, like photographing a hose. Hmmm. What's that smell? Something burning? Oops! The eggs! Lindsay asked me earlier to boil some eggs for him. No worries. I put the timer on but forgot to start it. So the eggs boiled dry and then started to explode. And all the time Lindsay was in bed asleep. And now the house smells of burnt egg. Is that what's known as a senior moment?

I thought I had enough of senior moments yesterday with the super glue. This from TX Greg: I see you answered your own question as to who keeps acetone handy, hehe. At least the glue dried before you needed to pee, hahaha. And then there are kids with Super Glue...

NC Art wrote:  Acetone is a marvelous chemical. Just don’t breathe it overmuch, or spill it all over you. It was used heavily for polishing scratches from Plexiglass and smoothing edges of the stuff after cutting for window replacement. Also we found it super for cleaning oil and grease stains from uniform pants and jackets. The repair shops on air bases had barrels of it, so it was easy to snitch five gallons and clean up lots of clothing. And, It’s super cold as it evaporates! Dip your hands or arms in it and watch the skin frost over and ‘’smoke.’’ And … it can dissolve fingernails. That Superglue bargain sounds too good. At that price I expect it just might be tubes of steel hard stuff. Hehe.

Art also comments on a Beeb story from yesterday: The lightning story reminded me of a tale my dad told me about a neighbor when Dad was a small boy. He was chatting with the old man when lightning struck a tree in the yard. The man spat tobacco and said, “Betcha can’t do that again.” Within seconds the same tree took another strike which split it down the middle. What said the old man then? “Okay God, I’ll be at prayer meeting tonight!”

Reminds me of something OR Richie wrote the other day: "No such thing as an athiest in a fox hole." 

Incidentally, I left hand cream on my fingers for about 45 minutes last night before I scrubbed them with acetone using a pot scourer. Not all the glue came off but I got tired of trying and gave up. This morning, all the remaining glue was gone, presumably flaking off during the night.

From the Beeb: President Barack Obama has promised "appropriate reforms" to guarantee greater oversight of controversial US surveillance programmes. At a White House news conference, he proposed "safeguards against abuse", including amending legislation on the collection of telephone data. Mr Obama also urged appointing a lawyer to challenge the government at the nation's secretive surveillance court. Now I wonder what brought about that sudden change of heart?

It occurred to me today that I need one other thing on the AO - a place to file stuff like receipts and various other papers. So I bought an expandable carry-file made of laquered board that looks rather like a kid's school case, with handle and catch. Seven bucks plus a heap of stick-on labels for a dollar fifty. My regular filing cabinet (which still has stuff going back 30 years) will get the flick, together with everything in it except a few papers of some sentimental or practical value.

Trust me to go searching. I've just spent ages there checking out old stuff which was a waste of time. But I did find the original drawing of the AO logo which I thought had been lost. It's not a brilliant drawing but it's the original... so that's important. I've scanned it and sent it off to TX Greg. He might wanna trick it up a bit in Photoshop. It needs a clean-up anyway.

I also found a heap of receipts for work on my old Kombi poptop. Eeek! I don't think I wanna know about all that wasted money, so it all goes in the bin. There's a bit of stuff about my old house in Glebe, though, which I'll keep. Otherwise the past is the past and good riddance.

Another thing I noticed is that with the bottom storage box gone from PJ there's no need for that old pool ladder. It's too long. I need something like this.

And there goes Satdee! Gary

August 9, 2013. All quiet on the PJ front at the mo and has been for a while. I miss all those prezzies arriving and jobs being done. I think Andrew will be in Sydney again this weekend. His next job on PJ is the solenoid thingy and battery isolation. Next week, after I return from seeing the doc at Port Macquarie on Monday, I'll take PJ around to Peter's engineering place for an assessment of the job I want done. So until then, it's pretty much diddly squat.

Well, that was a great start to the day. I just pierced the cap of the Super Glue and a blob oozed out so I couldn't get the nozzle back on the cap. All I could do was smear the blob on the porta potti crack and hope some penetrated while Lindsay held the crack open. Naturally, I ended up with more on my fingers than on the crack. Get it off with a solvent like acetone, the label says. Oh yeah. Acetone. I've got 10 gallons of it lying around the place. Who the hell keeps acetone handy? So now my fingers are covered in dried super glue. And the tube is in the bin. Useless. And the porta potti? I'll try it in a day or two to see if the glue worked.

At least the hose job is going okay so far. I read on the GN forum that the best way to get a clean cut when cutting garden hose is by using pruning shears. My old shears are a bit worse for wear but they cut the hose cleanly - two small lengths I can attach to the ends of the squishy hose and clamp tight. Then I can insert standard hose fittings.

FL Josh wrote: I thought for sure one of your readers would point out that the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car became the Batmobile.  You danced around it but didn't come right out and say it.

Well, the reason I didn't say it is cos I didn't know it. Actually, it's not Batman of whom I'm reminded when I see those old Yank Tanks sporting fins and dripping with chrome bling, it's Brodrick Crawford in the TV series Highway Patrol. He spent half the show jumping in and out of a big Dodge that handled like a mobile mattress.

Back from shopping. The department store had hose fittings but not hose clamps. Sheesh. But I had to go to the Mall anyway to get medication and a few groceries. And - here's a first - nail polish remover (with acetone). Then I went to Bunnings for the hose clamps. The department store had squishy hoses with fittings for $50. But I've already spent $30 on the mail order one so it was cheaper to get fittings and clamps for $10. I hope they work!

As to super glue, I spotted an el cheapo brand at the department store... 7 tubes for $3. It's made of the same stuff as the regular brand so it should be okay. And if it dries in the nozzle after one use, no prob. Toss it and use another one.

From the Beeb: An encrypted email service thought to have been used by fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has abruptly shut down. Ladar Levison, owner of the Texas-based Lavabit service, said legal reasons prevented him explaining his decision. But he said he would rather suspend his business than become complicit in "crimes against the American people". Correspondents say Lavabit appears to have been in a legal battle to stop US officials accessing customer details. "I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people, or walk away from nearly 10 years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit," Mr Levison wrote in a letter posted on the Lavabit website. He said he had decided to "suspend operations" but was barred from discussing the events over the past six weeks that led to his decision. "This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States," he wrote.

Summer storms often result in thunder and lightning. Every year a small number of people die from being hit, but what about those who survive? Lightning is a discharge of static electricity that occurs when there is an imbalance in the electrical charge between the cloud and the earth's surface. Put very simply, it is a giant electric spark in the sky - a very powerful one. A single bolt could contain a billion volts. It can stop a person's heart and cook their internal organs

Hollywood star Karen Black, who featured in cult films such as Easy Rider, Nashville and Five Easy Pieces, has died aged 74. Hugely prolific, the Illinois-born actress appeared in more than 100 movies over a career spanning 40 years. There was a time when I considered 74 to be a pretty good innings. Not now.

US talk show host Oprah Winfrey says she was the victim of racism during a recent visit to Switzerland. She said an assistant refused to serve her in an upmarket handbag shop in Zurich. Winfrey, one of the world's richest women, was apparently told the bags on display were "too expensive" for her.

A GN wrote the other day that he's finally finished the Big Lap, so I asked what it comprised... the circumference of Oz or zig zagging. Another GN answered the question with this Google map. The pins are the stopovers along the way. His Big Lap started in 2011. But most GNs agree that the Big Lap doesn't even scratch the surface. Some have been on the road more than 10 years and still have a million places on their bucket list.

Been one of those fiddly days with time whizzing by at an alarming rate, so here it is almost 6pm already! Gotta soak my fingers in warm water with soap now to soften the glue, and then do the nail polish remover trick. Wish me luck! Gary

August 8, 2013. Our stunning run of spring weather has been interrupted by a cold wind and cloud, dangit. But according to the weatherman, the lovely weather we've been enjoying of late will return for the weekend and beyond.

Para: Kelly,

I wish you many blessings. My mother is helping me to write this letter. Thank you for sending me this beautiful birthday card and the stickers that you sent me. It is nice to have friends in another country. I will always keep you in my heart. I love you a lot.

Anyel Centeno.

Isn't that sweet? That's my little 4 y/o mate from Nicaragua whom I sponsor through World Vision. The money goes on providing education, hygiene, housing, and community gardens for growing small crops. When he's older, and has access to a computer and the internet at school, he'll be able to follow my adventures on Aussie Odyssey.

I checked prices of new slide ons on eBay last night. Around the $25000 mark at the lower end of the market. And that's just for the camper. I figure I've spent about $10K on PJ and that includes the wheels, so I'm doing okay. Once the bottom storage box is gone, the only place to store larger items like the folding camp table and chairs will be in the cab over. It's a very handy area because above the mattress is all open space - and it's only used for sleeping. If the camp furniture needs to be inside during wet weather overnight, I can store it in the main living area. No worries.

There's a fair amount of media focus on electric cars these days. Here's one from a century ago I spotted on a newsgroup. So quaint!

And here's something you don't see often... an ORIGINAL 1914 Ford...

From the Beeb: The US and the European Union have called on all sides in Egypt's political crisis to end "a dangerous stalemate" after the interim government said foreign mediation had failed. In a joint statement, they said the Egyptian government bore a special responsibility to begin this process. The whole ME is a basket case.

The Kremlin says it is "disappointed" the US cancelled bilateral talks in September, after Russia granted asylum to intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. Russian President Vladimir Putin's foreign affairs adviser said the move showed the US could not develop ties with Russia on an "equal basis". A White House aide said Mr Snowden's asylum had deepened the pre-existing tension between the two counties.

An Indonesian passenger plane has skidded off a runway into a field after crashing into a cow. The Lion Air plane, with at least 110 passengers on board, hit the cow as it came into land at Jalaluddin airport on the island of Sulawesi. No-one has been reported injured, but the cow was crushed to death under a plane wheel.

TX Greg tells me it's been 105F in his hometown today. That's a tad warm! Meanwhile, there's no flies on FL Josh: Before you start hanging bags of water in PJ, read what Snopes says. Occasionally, you get a bum steer from the GNs but mostly the tips are good.  NC Art has a more open view: The wet penny shoo-fly sounds intriguing, but where do you find coppers in Australia these days? I thought those low value items had all disappeared.  Anyway, I couldn’t have found enough pennies [1-cent coins] when I was a kid battling flies in the barn. I might save pennies for weeks just to buy a popsicle. The Depression, y’know.

The only place you'll find coppers in Oz these days is with numismatic dealers and collectors. There's an old Oz expression, 'spend a penny', which means to go to the loo. That's how much it cost to use some public toilets in the city with coin-operated locks on the doors. Too bad if you were literally penniless. All public toilets now are taxpayer funded. Yep, pennies and ha'pennies disappeared with the introduction of decimal currency in Oz in 1966. Cents and two cents disappeared a few years back and now the lowest denomination Aussie coin is 5 cents. The highest is $2. The lowest denomination note is $5 and the highest $100.

That ’58 Ford X-2000 concept car looks like it is propelled by a ramjet engine augmented by booster rockets for dog fighting and outrunning everything in the sky. Man, some of that stuff must have given designers wet dreams as imagination went apeshit.

Yep, designers went ballistic during the '50s. I reckon it was inspired by the new auto glass technology that could mold windscreens and canopies into any shape. Ditto plastics used in dashes and upholstery. They were also inspired by rapid advances in aeronautical and space technology. And superheroes who wore their undies on the outside of their body stockings. But it was all a fantasy and none of those fanciful autos ever made it to the asphalt - except the Batmobile.

Glad you are again in good health and ready to potter about with PJ matters. Also good news from Francois is welcome. Um, what does NC mean when he uses it? To me it’s North Carolina, so does he mean New Caledonia?

Go to the top of the class, Art. OR Richie also commented on the concept cars: The concept cars from the 50's were certainly.... sumpin' else.  I would have liked to see a better perspective of the Olds Rocket car but about the only one I thought I could imagine actually driving in public was the Cadillac Ghia car, and the rest were somewhere between too exotic, too nasty, too much like something from the pre space-age JETSONS cartoon series, but... interesting the model NAMES which were later actually used on successful vehicles began that early.

The motorhome of course was truly something else and truly exotic and like a cross between a business jet and a London bus.  It also had the distinction of being pretty damned ugly in my opinion.

Good, cos it means I can't afford to be ugly. I'll stick with PJ. And now it's time to catch up with the goss on telly and stick a bit of meat on the old bones. Stay nice! Gary

August 7, 2013. I saw a shot of an antique typewriter the other day on Red Bubble and immediately thought it must be English or whatever because the Z key was yellowed and almost unused. So I checked the photographer's ID and it appears the machine is American... which surprised me cos the Yanks have a fetish for replacing 's' with 'z'. At the time, I didn't think to look at the $ key. If it were English it would have had a £ key.

Francois wrote: Good idea to cut your too much high PJ: I'd not like to drive it as this! 

I'd my surgery (hip replacement) 3 weeks ago in Nouméa. Much pain during 10 days but I'm now better than before the surgery and improving day after day. I walk now without limping and without crutches. An ambulance comes and takes me each morning to the physiatrist: one exhausting hour! Maybe in 3 weeks I'll be authorized to drive again. In waiting I'm stuck in my house with a boy (Mat) of 16y/o who came from france for his hollidays. I enjoy his presence and his cousins in NC are coming often here to help me. When I can go back on my boat, I think I'll be happy!

I'm delighted to hear the news about your hip, Francois. Good news indeed! And especially good to know you're feeling better with each day and getting around without the aid of crutches. Nothing beats the feeling of being well again, and to enjoy life!

Francois also included a link to Fabulous Concept Cars of the 50s. I remember as a kid seeing them occasionally in newspapers and thinking how futuristic they looked. But instead, the roads of the 60s were crowded with buzzing Minis and Beetles. Hehe.

Meanwhile, it's good to have my appetite back and to be eating proper food. This morning I feel quite energetic compared to how I was feeling recently with the bug.

Well, I've been fiddling around with the Nikon in the garden and then fiddling around with Photoscape, and here's the result - Bird With Attitude.

That's a handy little trick to know cos I'll be able to produce montages like that with pics on the Odyssey - a montage of a beach scene, or the main street of a town, or various interiors of a building, etc. Yes, even one of PJ in different locations.

And now, folks, the world's ultimate and most expensive motorhome. You gotta see it to believe it.

Nothing much on the Beeb today but I found this little article about Time Travel. Is it possible? The simple answer is yes. The more complex answer is it requires travelling close to the speed of light. And always going forward. Unless you find a wormhole

Here's a contribution from a GN... think before you speak.

And now for something musical and British - a Mini Peformance.

Here's one from a GN that might inspire a recollection or two from NC Art. How to keep flies away with a bag of water and pennies.

Well, bit of a shortie today, dear Breth, but at least there's a few links to keep you amused and informed. I spent a little time getting a dose of inner shedness today, checking to see how well the anti-slip matting works in the cupboards. Yep, works a treat. Also, as I was photographing the birds of paradise this morning, Averil stood at her back door and yelled g'day. She said Stan the Lawn Man was most impressed with PJ and wouldn't mind borrowing it for occasional weekends away. Yeah? Not likely. His caravan is a modern one with all the bells and whistles so giving PJ a compliment is quite something. I wonder what he'll have to say when I tell him the bottom storage box is coming off hehe. He buggered around with that box to get it to fit the tray. It was quite a lot of work - not to mention dangerous - and all for nothing as it turns out. Hmmm. Might be better to keep my trap shut. Gary

August 6, 2013. Stunning day today - like spring or better. Just back from filling PJ at the servo and got 10 cents a liter discount. It's creeping up to $1.60 a liter now with the lower Aussie dollar (about 92 US cents).

TX Greg wrote: Did you get my pun, hehe "Driving Miss PJ" = from the movie Driving Miss Daisy...

Yes'm, ah deeyud. I saw Miss Daisy this morning totally confused in a roundabout. She was in the outside lane and turned 180 degrees in front of cars on her inside. Sheesh. Naturally, she was totally oblivious to what she was doing.

Found a cool pic, Home Sweet Motorhome...

NC Art, on the other hand, is more interested in natural history and sent a link to a video entitled True Facts About The Aye Aye - which is one critter I'm glad I don't have as a pet. Ew!

I've been thinking a little more about the modifications I plan for PJ. As OR Richie points out, whichever way you look at it, I'll be toting a brick. True. It's also true that lowering the camper by 1 foot doesn't sound like much. But what happens is the heavy weight stored in the two side storage bins is where it's supposed to be... flat on the tray, which means better and more even weight distribution. Extra weight stored in the underbelly tool boxes will further improve center of gravity, which should in turn improve stability. Overall height doesn't concern me as much as where the weight is.

Just made a pan of tacoodle which smells delish. I love that stuff. I make it a little differently to the normal taco mix. Brown the ground steak and onion (I cheat and use dried onion). Add taco mix - spinkle a bit at a time and work it in with a wooden spoon. Add can mixed diced veg (corn, peas, carrot) and small can diced peppers (capsicum) - DRAINED. Mix through. Add small bottle taco sauce. Mix through and simmer for 10 minutes. There's enough liquid in the drained veg and taco sauce so no water is needed. You can use the mix with taco shells, or on toast, or in jaffles, or with mash or (as I do) with noodles, topped with grated cheese. Mmmm! A blob of sour cream would be nice too.

From the Beeb: US senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have joined top diplomats in Cairo to help find a peaceful solution to Egypt's political stalemate. The Pentagon said Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel had called army chief Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to discuss mediation progress by US and EU envoys. I wish them well. The Middle East needs all the diplomacy it can get.

The boss of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has agreed to purchase the Washington Post newspaper for $250m (£163m). Mr Bezos is buying the paper and its other print properties in a personal capacity. The Post has been owned by the Graham family for 80 years. Sounds cheap to me.

A DIY digital camera designed to teach children about how the tech it uses works has been launched in the US. Owners of Bigshot's device need to assemble its parts in a specific sequence to make it work. An online guide explains the science behind them. It has been developed by a US computer science professor who used funds from Google and the US Department of Defense to develop the kit. What a great idea! Shades of crystal sets, Mechano and model trains.

A snake escaped from a pet shop and killed two children in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, police say. In a statement, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they believed the reptile had strangled two boys, aged five and seven, in Campbellton. The boys were staying overnight at a friend's apartment above the pet shop. Police said they believe the snake slipped out of its cage overnight and travelled through the ventilation. The serpent has been captured by police.

I haven't taken any "serious" pics for a while. One Red Bubbler has resorted to commenting on my old stuff in return for my comments about her new stuff. So early this morning, armed with the Nikon, I did some experimenting in the garden. I thought this shot was interesting - a lone little flower in focus contrasted with a large area of obscured background. Click the image to get the larger view.The birds have been busy munching on little berries growing in the front garden but missed these little dudes hiding beneath the canopy

Photographs like those are basically practice. I put them on RB in case anyone makes a favorable or otherwise comment, hopefully so I can learn something else. Blurring foregrounds and backgrounds, leaving the subject in sharp focus, interests me. I'm kinda getting into manual focus a lot more than I used to. Or should I say have been. Manual focus was all I used on my old 35mm Olympus OM-1 SLR.

I was rather impressed with one GN's comment about camping at Byron Bay. He liked the place so much he decided to stay for a few more days. Isn't that wonderful? No alarm clocks, no appointments, no pressures, just decide to stay if you're enjoying it. Now, that's freedom!

And here's a newspaper cutting about the condition of the Dorrigo Cutting (not far from Taree) 102 years ago:

Here's the link to Dorrigo tourism.

Anyway, it's getting a bit late, boils and goils, so I better peace off till tomorrow. BTW, Nancy was a bit peeved about my cancelling my appointment with the doc in Sydney yesterday but understood about getting a dose of the bug. Can't be helped. When I started to explain about the antibiotics, and having some left over from the teeth extraction episode, she interrupted and said, "And you halved the dose, right?" "Yep. How did you know?" "Because that's what lay people do... halve the dose thinking it won't do any harm. Trouble is it doesn't harm the bacteria either. In fact, it makes them more resistant!" Oops! Gary

August 5, 2013. Roite. CD Stacker posted, hair cut, rail ticket to Sydney rebooked and Peter the Engineer consulted. AND, the cold/flu seems to have all but vanished.

NC Art wrote: Top Heavy Tessie: I think TX Greg is right if you can swing it. Besides the sway of that top heavy box, the wide gap above cab looks aerodynamically goofy and probably adds to instability due to wind buffeting. But what do I know, hehe. I drove a school bus in high school one year, and was distracted by the sway inherent in flying cracker boxes.

Flying what? I presume Art is talking about the kind of things students manage to turn into missiles when travelling on school buses.

Maybe you should add a daily intake of added protein in one of those nasty tasting diet supplements such as Ensure?

Yep, do that already... stuff called TWO CAL which gives me chronic as well as putrid flatulence. And there goes another of my deep, dark secrets. BTW, Art, thanks for the tip about antibiotics. I had some left over from the teeth pulling episode, so I halved the dose and did 4 days. I think it helped a lot.

TX Greg wrote: Driving Miss PJ: Well I think you know my thoughts on this and although it will be a big expense I do believe all of us too will have better peace of mind :)

Some other things to consider before doing this...

The side compartments were also built on and not part of the original camper. You need to make for sure that those are independent (Floor bottom and sides) of the bottom storage and won't be affected by the removal of the bottom.

She'll be right mate. I spoke briefly to Peter about making a frame for the "new" bottom that will hold the camper and side boxes together as a single unit, and that will fit snugly between the existing tray side rails.

I'm sure there's got to be enough clearance, but you should measure the current height from the back cab truck rack to the underside floor of the cabover and then measure the height of the bottom storage box just to see exactly how much lower it will be and that it will still clear that rack.

Yep, did that and once Peter fixes a frame for PJ to sit on there will be just enough clearance - maybe 1" - between the top of the tray upright and the floor of the cab over. About 3" from the roof of the cab.

I really think you should leave the battery as is in the side compartment and not worry with the expense of moving all that to below the tray. I would prefer to see that weight there to help offset the opposite side with the fridge and LP bottle. Use the new boxes below the tray for other items.


Was also thinking that you should have more than enough length in those side compartments to store the jacks.

Only one - the one on the driver's side has the a/c in the middle. But the jacks will fit okay in the passenger side compartment even with the AGM battery/s at one end (if they're wound right down). The jacks are dirty and a bit greasy so I'll put them on the floor and cover them with an old ground sheet so I can store other stuff on top. They're only used once in a blue moon anyway.

Also don't forget that the sink drain will need to be rerouted and the turnbuckles redone. And the wiring for the camper brake/indicator lights. Peter will also figure something out to attach the new frame to the rear of the truck tray.

And not sure what that bottom box weighs, but bet with that gone will help with gas mileage also, not to mention the front penthouse wind drag, hehe

BTW> The other day when you got the gas bottle... Did you REMEMBER to attach and bolt the strap back around the bottle so it doesn't come flying out of there???

Not only that, Greggie Poo, I also tied a cloth around the old regulator so it doesn't strike against the bottle and cause a spark.

Actually, I just pulled one of the jacks out and wound it right down to check the length. No worries. OR Richie doesn't think all this extra work is necessary: I have thought a few times about the situation with PJ and CDM.  On one hand it looks better and may be a little better if it were lowered a bit.  There are tapered and pretty aerodynamic roof-mount storage pods you can get for all manner of RV and they are popular.  May be a helluva lot of work to remove that, remount that, move stuff around, but I don't believe it's as much of a tottering big deal that you think it is.  Look at all the crazy commercial trucks out there.  In the beginning and in the end and everything in between and at slow speeds, I don't think it will make quite the diff you think it might, but that's for you to decide.  Take 'er on a longer road trip and see how acclimated you get to it.  That would be my suggestion anyway before you reinvent it, but... if it makes you feel better, then that too is important.  Of all the varied RV's I either drove, towed, or toted the camper rigs were always about the least comfortable, odd to note, so I adjusted my driving accordingly. 

Quite right. Look at all those crazy commercial trucks out there. And yep, those roof mounted storage pods are aerodynamic and popular but I don't think they make 'em two feet long. I was thinking about using the existing space for a roof rack and spare wheel but... nah. As I said yesterday, when I asked myself the bottom line question: do I like driving PJ the way it is? The simple answer was 'no'. Soooooo, if that's the bottom line, then that's the bottom line.

The extra storage space the bottom box offers is very useful (especially for poles and jacks) and I can understand why the previous owner added it. I have no idea what kinda vehicle he was using - could have been a bigger truck with dualies at the rear for all I know. In any case, I just don't feel all that confident with the Courier, and I certainly ain't in no damn hurry to go shopping for trucks again. I have a feeling the previous owner was using the jacks more frequently than I intend to (which is hardly ever). Most likely he wasn't a permanent traveller and put the camper in storage for extended periods.

Anyway, while I was having my hair cut, I was babbling away to Mark who was nodding at all the right intervals, being polite, while I told him how frustrating it is trying to communicate with no teeth, especially over the phone. "People automatically assume I'm a sandwich short of a picnic." I also mentioned PJ has a reversing camera. "It's fine for seeing what's directly behind but doesn't show what could be approaching from directly left or right... which is a problem when parked nose to kerb like I am outside your shop." I was his last customer before lunch so I asked if he could stand at his door and let me know if the street was clear when I was ready to reverse. He nodded just as he had all along. When we left his shop, and I got behind the wheel of PJ, he kept walking. "Mark?" I yelled. "Are you gonna watch the traffic for me?" He didn't know what I was talking about. So there ya go. All that nodding was just being polite. He hadn't listened to a word I said. Which all goes to prove I was right... no teeth means you have nothing worthwhile to say and/or you're incomprehensible and/or you're a dimwit. "Traffic? Cars? Let me know if there's anything coming?" He finally got the message and I drove off to see Peter the engineer.

So, I figure this new direction with PJ is evolutionary. Happens all the time with GNs - changing rigs, modifying rigs, etc. I'd rather do it here than while on the road. I have the time between doc appointments and medical issues, as well as the contacts. Besides, removing a storage bin and adding tool boxes is not all that much of a biggie.

So that's about it. Dental appointment tomorrow morning and Nancy will wanna know WHY I haven't seen the doc in Sydney. She wants me outta there before Christmas. I want me outta there too but a bloke can't help catching a bug. I'll start eating decent food again tonight - I need the energy. Gary

August 4, 2013. I just happened upon this website and have spent almost two hours reading, grieving and celebrating the life of someone I had never even heard of but wish that I had. Cody was obviously an amazing person.

The latest from Cody's guestbook. Thanks to TX Greg for bringing that to my attention. Greg was also intrigued by the star trails pic: That star trail pic yesterday was wicked. Couldn't figure why the star trails were circular, well until this explained it... Here's a cool vid of how several star trail pics came together... Wonder if you could do a time-lapse treasure trail pic, hahaha

FL Josh is a big fan of a different star, Henry Mancini. How incredible was he!  It's funny how people remember the names of great singing groups, like the Beetles, Simon and Garfunkle, the Beach Boys, but they don't remember the great composers.  I loved Mancini, and bought many of his albums.  I remember specifically the soundtracks from Hatari and Charade, which are in a box of 33's my garage. 

I found a ton of stuff on Mancini, all fascinating, like he was discriminated against because he was Italian and from the "wrong side of the tracks" and because of that, he never dated in high school.  I tried to put something together but could not trim it down to anything short because I found things too interesting. His obituary is a very nice summary.

And for those who want to do some interesting reading, here is a link to a Google book of Mancini's autobiography that one can work through and learn about his tough childhood, sicknesses, and how his father treated his mother.

As to me and my sickness, I felt strong enough today to shower, shave and do a little shopping. Naturally, big ears was monitoring my every move. "Are you going shopping? Willya git bread and smokes for me?" While I was up the road, I saw young Keiran and his mom enjoying a coffee at the Mall. I have to look twice every time I see him now - he's changed quite a bit from the single digit imp of yesteryear. He's almost 15 now, I think. Not much taller though. I saw them again as they walked past PJ parked in the street. 

Anyway, this damn cold/flu has taken its toll on weight - I'm down about 2 kilos and pretty weak so it'll probably take the rest of this week to get my strength back.

While I've been mostly sleeping and resting, I've been thinking about PJ and how tall she is. For several months I've been though the arguments for and against its height, handling, stability, center of gravity, yadda, yadda till I'm blue in the face. Whoever put the extra storage bin at the base did so to store additional luggage on longer trips to remote places. I've cleaned red dirt from inside the windows, which only comes from the "red center". So you can bet ol' PJ has seen a fair bit of the outback - and survived. But even so, I decided to ask myself one simple question - am I happy driving it? And my simple answer was no. I'd prefer it the way TX Greg rearranged it in Photoshop by removing the lower storage bin.


That, of course, creates a new set of storage problems which could be solved by installing tool boxes fore and aft of the rear wheels hanging from the tray. One of them could be used to house the AGM battery/s. Advantages would include lower center of gravity, easier rear door access, and lower awning height. Carrying weight in the underbelly tool boxes should improve the weight distrubution even further. Another improvement would be air flow between the cab over and the truck cab.

The thing that has brought this to a head is my appointment to see the doc at Port Macquarie in a week. I'm not looking forward to pushing that penthouse through the air for a 160km round trip.

So there's something to think about. Peter the engineer will be the bloke I'll ask to do all the work... remove the lower storage box, install the tool boxes, etc. Not sure what the whole thing will cost but I doubt I'll get much change from a grand. Maybe peace of mind is worth it hehe. Once I'm on the road, I want the thing to be set up permanently - or as close as poss. Actually, I even feel better after having written my thoughts down on "paper". Naturally, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

And that's all I have time for today, Dear Breth. I'm hoping the bug will have buggered off by tomorrow so that I can start getting back to normal. Dr Josh has sent some info about getting rid of phlegm despite having being a smoker - but I seem to be over that hump touch wood. He also sent this link to 2013's Funniest Commercial.

And whether you're into photography or not: I saw this on TV and found a video on youtube about it.  Its the Lomography 360 Spinner camera that takes 360 degree photos on 35 mm film.  Here is a video about it.  Don't mind the guy's teeth, he's British.

As I was saying before Josh got the last word in, hooroo! Gary

August 3, 2013. Started off at 7am as usual this morning but couldn't handle it so I went back to bed. The only reason I got up a little while ago (2pm) was to check how much the Kenwood CD stacker fetched at auction on eBay. $10.50 plus $20 postage. Sheesh. I came in at the end of 78 rpm records and the introduction of microgroove LPs. My first record player was a cabinet model with a valve radio and gramophone with 3 speeds - 33 1/3, 45 and 78. It was one of the first stereograms and the year was 1959. It had a sapphire tipped needle as well. The first album I bought was Henry Mancini's theme music from Peter Gunn.

And here I am again after another sleep. What worries me about sleeping so much during the day is not being able to sleep at night. So what have I got, how long will it last and when will my immune system kick in? I wish I knew. Earlier today I had a coughing fit I thought would never end, and I was beginning to have serious trouble catching my breath. But there was a lull long enough for me to get a swig of medicine down the screech that settled the irritation.

Yesterday, I got a call from Andrew to say he hasn't forgotten about me, and that he'll be spending time in Sydney with his father's house. I'm not sure whether they're doing it up or what the story is, but he won't be here next weekend either. That's okay. The recent power bill kinda blew a large hole through PJ's budget so while Andrew's away I can readjust a few fiscal things. There's not a helluva lot that needs doing anyway... solenoid, a couple of radio antenna, external power inlet, gas. 

As to my medical stuff, that's anyone's guess. 

Before I go, I happened to spot a photo taken by William Bullimore, who with his mate is touring outback Oz at the mo in a motorhome. I've never seen anything like this image before. As he explains in one of his replies to comments, it's a series of 30-second exposures taken over a 3 1/2 hour period and assembled in Photoshop. Most remarkable. Also, check out his slide show of some outback shots around Lightning Ridge.

Sorry about this cold/flu business, dear Breth. Hopefully I'll be back to normal pretty soon. Gary

August 2, 2013. Well, despite some encouraging signs yesterday, the dreaded bug returned (or woke up) and gave me a tough time at various intervals overnight and again this morning. So I decided not to take a chance on feeling unwell in Sydney on Monday and moved the appointment to September 2. I've rebooked the train as well. Apart from anything else, I need to be pretty healthy to get the nod from the specialist about the operation on my lower gum. Since this bug arrived I haven't been eating well and am looking a bit shabby.

My appointment with the oncologist at Port Macquarie the following Monday, August 12, remains as is.

Speaking of things medical, NC Art wrote: What should be strange about finding antibiotics in sea bottom sludge? After all, what was to become two-legged human beasts crawled out of the primordial soup, didn’t it? So it is reasonable to assume that the original evolving organisms made it through while protected from extinction by some stuff swimming in the same soup. The first Environmental Protection System mayhap.

   Glad to hear you are  feeling well enough to think up remedies for shortcomings of squishy hose. Good luck with that and hopes the thing is worth the effort. I have been fairly good with repairs on simple devices, but garden hoses always defeated me.  Once I owned an expensive industrial strength 100 foot hose. A utility crew asked to borrow it to use for mixing cement for a street repair job, and left the thing across my drive way with pressure still on it. Next morning our garbage pickup service drove the cart over the hose and split a two foot section of it. Never did get spliced connections to work without copious leaking. So much for being helpful. Bah!

And what if you'd refused the utility crew's request? Oh, Mr Meany doesn't want anyone to play with his toys! I suppose I'll get my share of that on the AO with spannerless backpackers asking for help.

From the Beeb: The UK car industry was once one of Germany's biggest competitors, now it has become one of its biggest assets, argues author Dominic Sandbrook. How did Germany accelerate away? Forty years ago, Germany's biggest carmakers were putting the finishing touches to a product that would change their image forever. The Volkswagen Golf is one of the bestselling cars of all time. It made its debut in 1974, the year West Germany won the World Cup at home in Munich and the German band Kraftwerk released their ground-breaking album Autobahn. Great article about the demise and the rise.

The US has labelled Russia's decision to grant asylum to fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden as "extremely disappointing". The White House is reconsidering a meeting scheduled for next month between President Barack Obama and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The US wants Mr Snowden extradited and tried for leaking secrets.

I watched a report on telly the other night showing some of Snowden's supporters. One of them explained that he was a protester against US involvement in Iraq back when support for the war was 70%. "Try finding that kind of support now," he said. He thinks the same shift in public opinion will happen with whistle blowers like Manning and Snowden, and leakers like Assange. 

That's about all I can manage today, Ls & Gs. A while ago I asked L to so some shopping for me. I didn't have the energy. So off he went with instructions to get an off-the-shelf cough medication for me. He couldn't find it at one store so tried another, then another. Finally he arrived home with something he said ticked all the boxes. And so it did. Within 10 minutes of taking a dose, the cough disappeared and the mucus dried up. "I couldn't come back with nothing," he said, "so I got this stuff." Well, well, well, Lindsay did good, and I can look forward to an uninterrupted sleep tonight. I don't mind being tired so long as I don't have a hacking cough to go with it. Gary

August 1, 2013. Not all horses are born August 1 but designating this to be their collective birthday makes things easier. For us, that is. Horses don't even know they have a birthday.

When a politician like Barak Obama addresses the nation with "My fellow Americans," does he include people like this?

Mind you, we have them here too, and I daresay so does every country in the world. But seeing people like that makes me wonder about things like discrimination, equality, human dignity and respect.

NC Art sent those Walmart gems and also wrote this: Since you have self-diagnosed your medical woe as flu, you are probably wrong. And, a flu shot—as you surmised—is too late after you get sick. The vaccine takes 4 to 6 weeks to afford protection. And so, if you have elevated temperature all day or part of each day, it is likely that you have some stray infection, in which case an antibiotic med  may be the treatment of choice. Ask your doctor!!

I will - if I get to see him. I wasn't feeling too flash this morning but I've improved since then. It's now mid afternoon. If the improvement continues, I'll leave my plans to visit Sydney on Monday as they are. Otherwise, I'll cancel.

Well, it's late afternoon now and I've just enjoyed a couple of hours snooze in bed. I'm feeling pretty good - not quite ready to jog around the block - but pretty good.

Two things I've been meaning to mention:-Yesterday, as I sat in the waiting room with one other bloke, a nurse emerged from the surgery, looked at me, then looked at him, and asked who was first. The bloke responded with, "The other lady." ??? Also yesterday I got an email response from The Flim Flam Shop about my squishy hose - that separate fittings were required and could be accessed at Bunnings, etc. Instead, I removed a fitting from my standard garden hose in the backyard, cut off the squishy's existing fitting (since that was the only way to access the hose itself) and discovered that the diameter of the hose is too small for a standard Aussie garden hose fitting. I informed Flim Flam, and suggested the reason the same type of hose is dearer in the stores is because it's made to Aussie specs. I haven't heard back, and don't expect to.

I checked to see if the squishy hose fits inside the regular hose and it does, so I could cut two small pieces of standard hose, use adjustable clamps to secure them to each end of the squishy, and attach fittings that way. Yeah?

Just got a call from the doc's office in Sydney to confirm Monday's appointment, so I did... provided I feel okay tomorrow. Touch wood. She said not to worry anyway cos he has a stack of bookings. See what happens when you're dealing with a popular specialist? 

From the Beeb: The Queen was expected to urge the people of the United Kingdom to "pray" in the event of a nuclear war, government documents from 1983 reveal. The script for a hypothetical broadcast has the monarch describing the threat to the "brave country" as "greater" than any other in history. It also mentions the Queen's son Prince Andrew, then in the Royal Navy. The speech, devised by Whitehall officials at one of the most fraught Cold War periods, was never recorded.

The Wikileaks disclosures strained US-Afghan relations, a retired US Army general said at the sentencing hearing of Pte First Class Bradley Manning. Brig Gen Robert Carr said documents Pte Manning leaked named hundreds of friendly Afghan villagers, putting their lives at risk. Pte Manning faces up to 136 years in prison after his conviction for espionage and 19 other charges.

It was a complex conundrum which baffled 18th Century scientists and captivated the British public. How could sea navigation be made easier, by being able to accurately measure exact points east and west from a fixed meridian line? For decades from 1714, experts and enthusiasts submitted their ideas to the Board of Longitude in the hope of winning a £20,000 prize - worth £1.5m in today's money.

A completely new and unusual antibiotic compound has been extracted from a marine microorganism found in sediments off the coast of California. The discovery of genuinely novel antibiotics is rare, and experts say resistance to the drugs poses a grave threat to human health. US scientists say the new compound, called anthracimycin, seems to be effective at killing MRSA and anthrax.

Some of the planes in our skies are 70 years old and still going strong. What’s the secret behind their staying power? Two aviation experts explain all

But back to Assange, Manning and Wikileaks for a mo. Soon in Oz we'll have a federal election. Gillard's gone, Rudd is back and Abbott is champing at the bit to lead the Libs to victory. But guess who's also in the race? Assange! Yes, Julian is head of the new Wikileaks Party in Oz which will contest the next senate election before December.

I was hoping to make a further comment about the Wikileaks/Assange/Manning thing but I've run outta steam. Catch y'all tomorrow. Gary


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