the WAFFLE page

September 30, 2013. Back from the dentist all battered and bruised - metaphorically speaking. Both Nancy and Emma were waving their fingers at me and threatening all kinds of retribution if I don't put on weight. Nancy will have her weighing machine next visit and will keep a record - she wants me to gain a kilo a week "Dr Clark in Sydney thinks you're not gaining enough weight, and that's bad for my rep. This is all about me!" Emma joined in, "Think Sumo wrestler!" Even Cherie on the front desk heard all the ruckus hehe. It's like a circus every time I visit. Anyway, Nancy said, "I want you going around Australia by early next year!" So there ya go... I'm being bullied by a couple of dentists.

TX Greg wrote: Remember this vid I sent you a couple of months ago about the Lambrecht Chevrolet auction...  Well the auction was this weekend...
AP News Vid... ABC News Vid...

The cars that were stored inside at the dealer brought the most money, with the 1958 Chevrolet Cameo Pickup bring the most at $140,000. But would you believe that this guy had over 500 more vehicles just sitting outside at his farm. Most were trade-ins, but there are dozens of more brand new vehicles that he just parked. Can someone please explain to me how anyone could just park brand new vehicles over several decades out in the middle of a pasture to just rust and rot away.

Check out this toy pedal car that someone paid $16,000 for...

Maybe the dealer was a procrastinator and figured he'd get around to doing something about the cars parked in the field "one of these days" hehe. It's easy enough to do. My mom was at my dad for years to do something about our squeaky front gate. When he finally got around to it, he demolished the whole damn fence and built a new one, including a new gate.

I thought mail from China was pretty slow, but it's even slower from the US. The awning protector/door wheel arrived today, posted almost 3 weeks ago.

From the Beeb: Australian new PM Tony Abbott is to begin a visit to Indonesia, amid tensions between the two nations over his tough asylum policies. Jakarta says Mr Abbott's policy of sending boats with illegal migrants back to Indonesia risks violating the country's sovereignty. Fancy that, our PM makes the Beeb's lead story.

Hmmm, not surprising really - there's bugger all on the Beeb.

Remember this from Christmas Eve 2012? I drove out there just now to "re-enact" the day I bought the Courier and took a bunch of pics at a rest area by the river. Nine months later, here's PJ in the same spot - with a couple of extras.

Next time I take a pic from that angle, you'll see the awning extended, a bit of camp furniture below and not a house in sight, I still can't believe the difference the bumectomy made. There's no strain on the engine in 4th gear, she cruizes along nicely and willingly, and sits firmly and squarely on the road. I suspect the Ironman helper springs play a big part in the stability although I've not had the opportunity to compare the ride without them. The engine has plenty of torque - moves off in second from a crawl even with 800kgs on its back. Meanwhile, I'm quite confident that the rig will take me pretty much anywhere I wanna go around Oz.

When I first started looking at slide-ons on the web, even oldies like PJ were up around the $10,000 mark and in need of "a tidy up", just for the camper alone. No a/c, no solar, no storage boxes, no awnings and no jacks. Anything cheaper needed major renovation, and many were on the other side of the country or in Tassie. It was all just too hard. Das Busse seemed like the perfect solution when I saw the pics on eBay. Yeah, right. So then came the Falcon, perfect for a slide on! Except I ended up with a flat bottomed slide on, didn't I, and the Falcon was a styleside ute. Sheesh.

Anyway, all's well that ends well, as they say. Now I finally have a matching pair. And there's noooooo way I'm gonna part with either of them. I've had enough shopping and buggerizing around to last me several lifetimes. The $450 I spent on the bumectomy was expensive (in terms of my budget) but definitely well worth it considering the camper is now a perfect fit for the tray.

Yesterday, I mentioned being relaxed now that most of the work on PJ is completed. I suspect it's more than relaxed. I think it's plain ol' exhaustion after years of stress, a seemingly endless search for the right rig, constantly saving up between pensions to buy the things I needed, juggling finances to pay the bills. It didn't seem like stress at the time. Only now when I look back and realize how obsessed I was with achieving the impossible do I recognize the stress. The worst time was arriving at the Hertz parking lot in Tamworth and seeing Das Busse for the first time... like someone was playing a joke on me. My heart sank. A dream instantly shattered. Then the night spent at the cheap hotel in Walcha, puking after eating a few bites of a dreadful meal at the local chew and spew. The bikers in the next room clumping their way to and from the loo at the end of the hall all night with their boots on. Tossing and turning, unable to sleep, wishing I'd wake from a nightmare and see that none of this had really happened. Oh dear. I'll never forget that episode.

And here I am. Hehe. A survivor. Bloody amazing if you ask me. But don't ask me to do it again. Gary

September 29, 2013. Here I am! Reappearing like magic! That LED flashlight/work light was a good buy yesterday. It has a row of 10 LEDs along the side of the body for the work light, plus a strong magnet base that can be attached to a hood/bonnet or other metal surface. Pretty nifty thing for $7 and it even came with batteries! BTW, after I applied the sealant yesterday, I used a pipe cleaner to remove excess sealant from inside the dispenser so it's ready for next time. Pipe cleaners, cotton buds, paper towels, and a bottle of turps - every tool kit should have them.

I've often marveled at mobile workshops like those used by auto sparkies and roadside assistance mechanics. Tools are such wonderful things! So are hands and fingers, for that matter. I know I've said this before, but I used to tease Kelly #1 by putting a can of Pal next to her dish and giving her the can opener hehe. She never appreciated that joke. Dogs have a different system - they bury stuff. Ew!

FL Josh wrote: Why not replace the red and black alligator clips to activate the inverter with a switch.  It's easier to remember what to do and what things are for with a switch than a jury rigged job with dangling alligator clips. Too late now. Andrew has finished his jobs. Maybe another time. Actually, they don't dangle - they're clipped onto the straps that hold the battery in place when not in use.

And there's another thing I forgot - to ask the boot man to make me a leather ax cover.

The other day, when the hippeastrums were blooming (they still are but starting to look a bit tired - they don't last long), I took a few pics and chose one to work on. I wasn't happy with it so fiddled around in Photoscape with texture, sharpness, contrast, etc, but it still needed something. Finally, I experimented with frames and found one I was happy with. This is the result I posted on Red Bubble. Looks pretty cool, I reckon.

I suspect the camera will become a permanent fixture around my neck on the Odyssey - always something new and different to photograph, although I'll probably become more selective. No point in having a thousand images of beaches or sunrises and sunsets. But even if I use the camera less often, I'll still carry it more often, if ya get my drift. If I hope to sell prints and calendars, etc, the pics will need to be very special, and that only happens once in a while.

There was a story on telly last night about artists painting landscapes in Oz, out there at the crack of dawn (or beforehand) with their brushes and easels and canvases capturing the morning colors. But as one artist said, the colors change so quickly with the rising (or setting) sun, if you look down to mix a color you've just seen, by the time you look back again it's gone. He said you need to develop a photographic memory, and work quickly. Painting is different to photography in that the painter tries to interpret a person's awareness of the scene rather than produce a photographic image.

And speaking of images, there was a story set in Tasmania about the Huon Valley and its produce; apples, cherries, grapes and vegetables being shipped by a 130 y/o sailing boat restored for the purpose to markets in town. The early morning scenery was absolutely stunning, as was the cinematography, with images of the old ship gliding along the mirror surface of the river, flanked by picture-perfect autumn landscapes and mountainous backgrounds. I've often heard photographers rave about the beauty of Tasmania, and this program certainly did it justice.

Mieke from Red Bubble was in Tasmania earlier this year and took some awesome shots.

Being lazy, I'll use the Odyssey to improve my chances of being at the right place at the right time to get great shots. Mieke goes out of her way to find them.

From the Beeb: A supermarket in Boston is going to sell only food that's past its sell-by date. So what are they, asks Rajini Vaidynathan. In the US alone, 40% of food is thrown out, partly because of confusing date labels, telling consumers to "use by", "sell by" and "enjoy by" a certain time

At least 21 people drowned when a boat carrying dozens of migrants seeking asylum in Australia sank off the coast of Java, Indonesian officials have said. An unknown number of people remain missing and one of the survivors has accused the Australian government of not responding to their calls for help. That'll be all over the TV news tonight.

Class A drugs should be decriminalised and drug addicts "treated and cared for not criminalised", according to a senior UK police officer. Writing in the Observer, Chief Constable Mike Barton of Durham Police said prohibition had put billions of pounds into the hands of criminals. He said a controlled environment would be a more successful way of tackling the issue. He has a point. We will never reach the point of zero demand, and prohibition has been proven to be unsuccessful.

Here's the kinda post I like to see on the GN forum. What an inspiration this is!

Just poked around PJ again and checked a few things. The solar's working fine. Could've done a better job with the sealant but... I'll fix that. Did a pencil trace of the ax head for the bootie. Said g'day to a bloke taking his dog for a walk.The weather is absolutely perfect and if I were camped somewhere now I suspect I'd be snoozing my little head off on the lounger under the awning, not giving a damn about anything. Hehe. Which reminds me...

The idea is to place the mozzie trap away (but not too far) from camp and let it do its thing. Cheap and very effective say the GNs. It lasts about a week. Sorry frogs.

Dunno if feeling as relaxed as I do is the result of Andrew finishing the last of his jobs or just one of those things, but having PJ virtually ready to roll is certainly a relief. The road to this point has been long and arduous, full of disappointments and frustrations, many of which were caused by my own impatience and inexperience (and/or naivety) I know, but nonetheless it's been one helluva struggle. But now it's almost over, and in spite of everything I really do feel a great sense of achievement. For well over a year, PJ sat at the lower end of the drive gradually being threatened by overgrowth - a sad sight sitting on bricks waiting for the day she'd be loaded onto the Courier. And that was a long time coming. I was in no hurry to cart a towering load around town that remained incomplete. But, in order to be finished, PJ needed to be on board, so I had no choice. Then good ol' Stan came to PJ's rescue. Now I can't imagine the two being separated . The perfect marriage.

The list of things I needed was impossibly huge, but one by one the list was whittled down to a point where now there are just a couple of things to go. Not in a fit would I go through all that crap again, especially on a shoestring budget. Once is more than enough. Looking back over the years is quite frightening, actually. How I managed to juggle such a colossal project is almost unbelievable. A major part of the reason I think is not wanting to let you guys down, or Cody, or anyone else who had faith in me. That would have been unforgivable. 

Grey skies are gonna clear up
Put on a happy face
Brush off the clouds and cheer up
Put on a happy face

Anybloodyway, it's time for me to catch a bit of telly and rustle up some grub. Catch you on the morrow. Gary

September 28, 2013. I like this motto from a retired GN travelling Oz: All plans subject to change at short notice.

Yeah, check the map, choose X as the next camp. On way to X, see Y and decide to detour. On way to Y, see Z... etc. Hehe.

Bewdiful day! Sunny and blue, not too hot, no wind. So far, that is. Gotta bitta shopping to do plus a few small things for PJ. Many times on the GN forum I've read posts by newbies feeling nervous about hitting the road full time and leaving the security of their homes behind. This morning I read one GN's comment about how much he was enjoying life on the road and "would never go back to living in a house again". It's quite a contrast, yes? Fear of change, the devil you know, and all that stuff. I have to keep reminding myself of the alternative, and my answer to that is definitely NO.

Wot was I saying about no wind? Hot and gusty now and too hot to think straight. I did the PJ shopping and came home after forgetting the groceries. Did the groceries and came home after forgetting to pick up my script at the pharmacy. Damn! Tomorrow will do. I ain't goin' back up the road. Anyway, one of the things I bought at Bunnings was a pack of octopus straps - 20 of the damn things but at a buck each I couldn't refuse. Also got an extra couple of ropes, some co-polymer sealant and an LED flashlight that doubles as a work light.

Stirred up the GN Forum earlier today with one of TX Greg's old pics.

From the Beeb: The US government is bracing for a possible shutdown, as Republicans and Democrats in Congress remain deadlocked on a budget to continue its funding. Agencies have begun making contingency plans ahead of the 1 October deadline to pass a new funding resolution.

The US Congress must agree to a budget by October 1. If it cannot, the federal government will shut down. But what does that mean for two million federal employees, federal agencies and tourist destinations? The BBC has a one-minute explainer.

A plane carrying 161 passengers was forced to make an emergency landing after the pilot suffered what was later proved to be a fatal heart attack. The United Airlines flight from Houston, Texas to Seattle, Washington was diverted to Boise, Idaho on Thursday evening.

Back from putting a bit of sealant around the house radio antenna where it joins onto PJ's external wall. While there on the ladder, I peeked over the top. Wot? No solar panel! Some bastard's pinched my bloody solar panel! Wait! Lemme see if I can hear the clicking sound the regulator makes when it monitors and controls the solar input. Nope. No clicking. The amp meter is showing zero as well. Hmmm. Lemme check the roof again, this time from the other side. Ah! The solar panel is still there! Thank god for that! Then I noticed the sun... it's very low in the sky, almost setting. Probably has something to do with no charge being fed into the battery, yes? Which explains the amp meter on zero, yes? I also noticed the red alligator clip disconnected from the battery as well as the black one. Phoned Andrew. "The red and black alligator clips only affect the inverter." Oh. So it's only when I wanna use the inverter that I connect both the red and black clips, yes? Yes. Otherwise leave them disconnected so they don't drain the battery. Roite.

Good thing I didn't panic and phone the cops to report a stolen solar panel hehe. Well, it's been a hot day and my brain is fried. It's also late and I better beetle. Not much Waffle today I'm afraid, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Gary

September 27, 2013. Roite, Andrew phoned this morning and asked if I was "about" and I said, yes, I'm about. $390 later and he's installed the Trumper vehicle charge system (which charges both the car and house batteries, and then isolates them from each other when the engine is not running), the new mains power inlet, 2 x antennae, one for the car radio and the other for the house radio, relocated the rear view camera to allow for the bicycle carrier and loosened the rear awning from its cradle. PJ is ready to rock and roll.

He was down south at Nabiac yesterday when fire fighters closed the Pacific Hwy near Taree, and had to drive home the long way which took him a couple of hours. He also mentioned a nice camp spot not far from where he lives at Moorland, and others on the coast near there. Plenty of places to "test" PJ over the coming months.

And speaking of fires, Steve W wrote: As you know I used to live on the Central Coast of NSW, where of course, Gosford had a radio station called 2GO (who, I may add, had a renowned breakfast broadcaster, Gary something or other)! We lived at Point Clare, about 15 mins from Gosford and we had one of the first houses built on a new estate but with many others in varying stages of construction, so few, if any neighbours. There was one summer we had a bush fire bearing down on us from high up in Kariong. Volunteer Firies in those days were in no way as prevalent (if they even existed) as they are today and the state government Fire Brigade were dealing with fires elsewhere and we were basically on our own.
The burning embers were flying for miles in front of the main fire and raining down on us, so Dad and I grabbed wet hessian bags and headed out to put out the hundreds of spot fires the embers caused.
I will never forget that night and the following day. The fires spring up so quickly and keeping on top of them is next to impossible....but we did and fortunately the main fire burnt out - they don't burn well coming downhill fortunately but as I learned, it is the embers that can cause havoc.
Your friends in the US also have dreadful "brushfires" and I love the fact that with the opposite seasons, their guys come over here to assist in major fires and we send our guys in their summer. That is what inter-country relationships is truly about at the real level - forget the diplomats, we all have common problems and work together to help each other.
I am so proud of the Americans and Aussies who do this - and usually on their own time and expense. Gives me faith in the human spirit of helping.

Well said, Steve, and there's no better example of the cooperative spirit than that between America and Straya. Those bloody Yanks can be a bit of a worry sometimes but we Aussies are a pretty tolerant lot hehe.

But back to Andrew for a mo, I mentioned the possibility of updating the solar panel one of these days but he reckons the existing setup should be fine for my needs. I guess I'll find out after a few camps. Being able to charge the house battery with the engine running will be handy when the sun ain't shining.

From the Beeb: The UN Security Council has discussed a draft resolution on ridding Syria of chemical weapons after the US and Russia agreed the text. The vote in the 15-member Council could now take place later on Friday, diplomats at the UN in New York said. It all sounds rather jolly doesn't it - cooperation between old foes.

The highest-level talks on Iran's nuclear programme for at least six years have been held at the United Nations in New York. US Secretary of State John Kerry met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. And the jollies continue.

Google has unveiled an upgrade to the way it interprets users' search requests. The new algorithm, codenamed Hummingbird, is the first major upgrade for three years. I must admit I use Google a helluva lot, even for spelling or finding a particular word.

The number of Americans giving up their citizenship has rocketed this year - partly, it's thought, because of a new tax law that is frustrating many ex-pats. Goodbye, US passport. That's not a concept that Americans contemplate lightly. But it's one that many of them seem to be considering - and acting on. I wonder how many Aussies relinquish their citizenship. Rupert Murdoch did. He's now one of "them".

Which countries have nuclear weapons? As the United Nations discusses the prevention of nuclear proliferation, we look at which countries have nuclear weapons and how were they developed. We're sticking with boomerangs.

Thirty years ago, on 26 September 1983, the world was saved from potential nuclear disaster. In the early hours of the morning, the Soviet Union's early-warning systems detected an incoming missile strike from the United States. Computer readouts suggested several missiles had been launched. The protocol for the Soviet military would have been to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own. But duty officer Stanislav Petrov - whose job it was to register apparent enemy missile launches - decided not to report them to his superiors, and instead dismissed them as a false alarm

Hmmm, does that story make you wonder if perhaps there's some truth to the notion of Fate? That certain things were "meant" to happen? As the man said, if it had been anyone else on duty that day, several Russian nuclear missiles would have been heading towards the United States.

I sat in PJ for a while after Andrew left and listened to ABC radio. I like ABC talk radio - there's usually something interesting and/or informative to listen to. But, more than that, the installation of an antenna was another step towards making PJ feel like home. It's the little things, the familiar things, the routine things, that provide a sense of belonging and comfort. There's nothing homely about a motel room, for instance. It's just a place to sleep.

Soooooo, dear Breth, with that I'll vanish for the day and reappear like magic tomorrow. Hooroo! Gary

September 26, 2013. Well, well, well, Team Oracle USA in this year's American's Cup has one American crew member. The skipper is an Aussie as are several members of the crew. I was surprised to learn that juicy bit of info on the news last night. Back in '83 when Australia beat America and ended over a century of US wins, it was country against country. Now it's crews made up of sailors from all over the world. Not the same. It's technology versus technology these days. And the boats? Where's the galley? Where's the head? Where's the stateroom? They're just skeleton catamarans. That's not sailing, that's skiing!

TX Greg wrote about Valiants: Speaking of Valiants, when I first started to learn how to drive at 16, my parents put me in a really old 1967 Valiant. Sort of looked like this pic, same yellow cream color. It had a straight 6 cylinder that never gave out and really had some power. I was always intrigued by the fender mounted turn signals indicators, sort of made you feel like it was a Cadillac, hehe. Wow they still make restore parts for those, and geez they are proud of the price on those indicators...

Our '67 had a different grill but otherwise was the same. And those slant sixes were great engines, as well as powerful. I had an uncle who operated a service station (he was a mechanic) who bought the first Valiant model in Oz and said it was too powerful for its light chassis hehe. So he traded it on a sedate British Humber. How boring. The little fender lights weren't fitted to ours until the '70s. They not only flashed when the indicators were used but also acted as a warning  if you were a little too enthusiastic with the throttle (and chewing too much juice). My last Valiant was a Hemi with ELB (electronic lean burn). I drove from Sydney to Brisbane on a single tank and still had juice left over several weeks later. The cops here used Valiant Chargers as pursuit cars back in the late '70s. Chrysler no longer manufactures in Oz. It imports Jeep and the 300C.

Yep, cars and how we associate different makes and models with various events in our lives. I still remember the action and feel of the door handles on my first car and that was back in '62. However, I don't go back quite this far... an 1870 Concord Coach.

It's a hottie today! 38C is forecast but it feels like that already. That's 100F. Good thing I have Netbank to pay all the accounts on line. No walking, no stamps, no petrol, no nuttin. If Andrew my sparky decides to turn up this weekend, it'll be a lot cooler according to the forecast.

From the Beeb:  Sir Ben Ainslie's Oracle Team USA sealed one of sport's greatest comebacks when they overhauled an 8-1 deficit to beat Team New Zealand in the America's Cup decider in San Francisco. The holders won eight straight races to triumph 9-8 after being docked two points for cheating in the build-up. Oracle surged to victory by 44 seconds to retain the Cup they won in 2010So who do you congratulate? The Brits, the Aussies or the Yanks?

Barely half an hour after they were jolted by a major earthquake on Tuesday, people of the Pakistani coastal town of Gwadar had another shock when they saw a new island emerge in the sea, just over a kilometre from the shore. A local journalist, Bahram Baloch, received the news via a text message from a friend. "It said a hill has appeared outside my house," Mr Baloch said. Lots of interesting pics with this story.

After more than 21 hours, Republican Senator Ted Cruz has finished speaking against the Obama health law, amid bipartisan attempts to avert a looming government shutdown. The Tea Party Texan's filibuster-style oratory continued through the night, after he vowed to speak "until I am no longer able to stand". How juvenile.

The first computer built entirely with carbon nanotubes has been unveiled, opening the door to a new generation of digital devices. "Cedric" is only a basic prototype but could be developed into a machine which is smaller, faster and more efficient than today's silicon models. Nanotubes have long been touted as the heir to silicon's throne, but building a working computer has proven awkward. Amazing isn't it. Everything was, is and always will be a work in progress.

Not surprisingly on such a hot day with a hot wind, there's a high fire danger. Two fire trucks just sped past on their way south over the bridge. I can see the smoke haze from here. The fire has closed the Pacific Hwy in both directions to allow fire fighters access to the blaze. Much of the state is on fire alert and Sydney is experiencing destructive winds. Looks like being a long season for the fire fighters (firies, as they're called here). Just back from standing outside - the wind is quite strong, coming from the west, and blowing the pall of smoke along Old Bar Road. It's fairly bushy along there too so residents have been warned to watch for fire embers.

Here's an interesting article from the Huffington Post. It was written by a French girl who met John, one of the GNs on the forum. They met again a few times on the road in Oz and that's when she told him she was writing an article for the HP about people like him. When the article was published, she sent him the link. But it was in French! However, another GN, Dorian, used Google's translator to come up with this. The translation is not great but it's readable. Francois can read the original French version here.

Hmmm, just as I checked the plume of bushfire smoke to see it looking better, I heard more sirens and saw two fire trucks speeding their way over the bridge. Ain't over yet, apparently.

Emergency Warning - Purfleet fire (Taree) 26/09/13 16:19
Posted: 26/09/2013

An emergency warning is in place for the Purfleet area (south of Taree) due to a bush fire. The fire is not under control.

Current Situation

The fire is burning in an easterly direction, south of Old Bar Road.

The Pacific Highway has been closed and diversions are in place. Avoid the area. Check for up to date traffic information.

If you are in the area to the south of Old Bar Road, seek shelter if the fire impacts on your property. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire.

If you are to the area to the north of Old Bar Road, consider leaving if the path is clear. 

Emergency Alert telephone warning messages have been sent to people in the area.

There ya go. I've never been this close to a serious fire before. The smoke is now quite thick and dark, but the wind has dropped although there are still gusts.

Hopefully, the wind won't turn southerly or I'll end up doing my Black and White Minstrels routine. More tomorrow, Ls and Gs. Gary

September 25, 2013. OR Richie and I were discussing Valiants and my having owned 5 over the years. Good cars. But before the Australian launch of the Valiant in 1960, Chrysler stuck with the early to mid '50s Plymouths and plonked a few fins on to tart them up a bit. They called it the Royal, and it wasn't a bad bus but no match for the dominant Holden. Ford's offerings at the time were Customlines and English Zephyrs.

If you drove one of those during the late '50s, you were considered pretty posh. Hehe. My dad had an earlier version, a fully imported '54 De Soto but by the time he could afford one, it was 10 years old. I drove it one time - it was a side-valve six with a two-speed auto, and as slow as a wet week. But my mom thought it was posh cos it had tinted windows.

And here I am at almost 70 driving a 20 y/o Ford ute. I've done well hehe. Which reminds me, there's a tear in the passenger side sheepskin seat cover so I'll call into the local bootmaker. He's got all that leather stitching machinery and whatnot, and maybe even a bit of spare sheepskin lying about... or knows where to get a bit.

So, a failed business, no house, no healthy bank account, no new car and nudging 70. What does it all mean? I dunno. Does it matter? I'm quite content. I have the means to travel Oz, the means to write about it and cameras to document it. My health is not hundreds but reasonable. And the government gives me a few bob every fortnight. Things could be worse, ya know.

My photography is improving. A few Red Bubble groups have "featured" my stuff lately, and there's one "high quality" group that has accepted all of my recent submissions. That's important to me because I don't want AO to be just another snapshot site. BTW, my hit counter clicked over 50,000 a few days ago. It's not a helluva lot but not bad for a site that hasn't left the driveway yet hehe. According to my ISP's Webalyzer stats, AO gets between 12,000 and 15,000 "visits" a month, or 400-600 a day, but I suspect those figures include a lot of robots. The most encouraging stat is the length of time a little over 50% of visitors spend on the site. In more recent times, 11% stay 5 minutes, 6.7% stay 20 minutes, 3.4% stay an hour, and almost 30% stay longer than an hour. 

In any case, while my lack of professional success (if I can use that term) is glaringly obvious, I'm comforted by the fact that it ain't over yet. The fat lady is still dozing in the wings. Stand by for the grand finale! Will that include a mansion and a few Bentleys parked in the drive? Nah. It'll mean having accomplished what I set out to do, which is to write an interesting journal, take lots of good pics, and keep an audience entertained and informed as I travel the Great Southern Land. Financial reward is not the point of this exercise. My reward will be the satisfaction of knowing I've contributed something worthwhile to my fellow human beans and used my time productively. That'll do.

BTW, Greg, I did as you asked and my ISP techies now have the info from Verizon.

Forgive them, Father, for they know not how dopey they are. Lindsay has been dropping hints all morning about my giving him a ride out to Wingham where Sue is in respite. "How big is Wingham? Would the hospital be in town? How long does it take to get there?" He mentioned catching a bus several times but I refused to bite. So now he's decided his back is killing him and he'll postpone the trip. He's been standing in my doorway with his hand nursing his lower back, and grimacing with "pain". But apparently his back is okay for a walk uptown to buy some smokes. As soon as he was out the door, I heard his footsteps just as brisk as ever. *sigh*

NC Art wrote: Thanks for the link to Frank Bruni’s NYTimes column on Pope Francis, who appears to be a few yards saner than his predecessors. Let’s hope so. Bruni is gay and comfortable with himself apparently. When he started working at the New York Times, he did a column about it, sensibly, honestly and surprisingly got virtually no backlash from the usual mob of soreheads and the uncommonly pious politically correct piss ants which infest decent society.

   I had missed this column, so appreciate your including the link. I had heard the Pope’s remarks on the subject and agree with Bruni.

Yes, I was impressed with that article too, and Bruni's writing style. I was unaware of his sexuality, not that it makes any difference.

Here's a short account of a GN's first year of retirement and life on the road.

If this story weren't told by an Italian, it wouldn't be anywhere near as funny.

Back from doing a few things in town, and testing PJ in gusty conditions. No dramas. She also drives a lot better in 4th gear after the bumectomy and a big improvement in aerodynamics. She's still tall, though, especially viewed from the rear. In a line of parked cars, she stands out like a sore thumb. While I was in town I called in to see Harold the boot repairer and showed him my holey sheepskin. He reckons he might have an old ugh boot lying around somewhere. If not, he'll patch the hole with a bit of leather.

From the Beeb: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he is prepared to engage in "time-bound and results-oriented" talks on his country's nuclear programme. He told the UN General Assembly's annual meeting in New York that sanctions against Iran were "violent". He also welcomed Syria's acceptance of the Chemical Weapons Convention and condemned the use of such weapons. Most encouraging.

Oracle Team USA levelled the America's Cup at 8-8 against Team New Zealand to take the competition into a winner-takes-all final race on Wednesday. Exciting finish! 

Australian officials have made what they say is one of the largest seizures of the drug ephedrine, hidden in a shipment sent from India to Melbourne. A joint agency task force seized 274kg (604lbs) of ephedrine, which is used to make crystal methamphetamine, the Australian Federal Police said

Aussie cops have been involved in quite a bit of gang busting lately, bikie gangs, drug gangs, all kinds of gangs, which is great to see. Undercover work that busted one large gang recently took several years. The raid, which simultaneously targeted several locations around Sydney and country NSW, was executed with great precision and surprised the bejesus out of the crooks. Good work, guys.

US President Barack Obama and his predecessor Bill Clinton have joined forces to promote Mr Obama's healthcare initiative, just days before one of its major provisions takes effect. In New York, they discussed the law's progress and denounced Republican efforts to stymie its implementation.

During his lifetime, George Daniels was considered by many to be the finest watchmaker - or horologist - in the world. Working from his studio in the Isle of Man, Daniels is claimed to be the first person in history to make every component of a watch from scratch and by hand. The timepieces he painstakingly produced were said to be among the most extraordinary and technically advanced watches ever made

It's cooling off now after a hot day again, and summer is still a couple of months away! But I like summer, particularly the early mornings and evenings outdoors, a great time to go for a walk along a beach. The middle of a summer's day is basically for snoozing or enjoying a quiet one in a pub, or under a willow tree with feet dangling in a creek. Oh, the stress of it all! I wonder how long it will take to shake the guilts about spending large chunks of each day doing bugger all hehe. Lots of GNs talk about sleeping in of a morning. I can't sleep past 7am without feeling guilty. However, I don't feel guilty about taking a grandpa nap during the day, so long as it's in a chair and not in bed. Actually, I like to think I'll be up pretty early each day on the Odyssey, which is the best time to give the camera a workout. And if it's raining? Well... I suppose that's a good excuse to stack up a few more zeds.

Yes, it'll be interesting in more ways than one. Stay tooned. Gary

September 24, 2013. I've heard that the toxin of a daddy long legs is so powerful that if its bite could penetrate human skin the insect could kill a person. Then I read about red backs, which are much bigger than a daddy LL in body size. Nonetheless, it's the daddy LL that kills and eats red backs. Ooer! The reason I mention the daddy LL is that there's one in PJ munching on the occasional ant that wanders in. There's one in the bathroom too hehe. He gets most upset when I turn on the shower. As to red backs, they're as common as anything around here but seek out dark, hidden places where there's little or no activity from other creatures such as humans. They're not aggressive. Ya just gotta keep your eyes peeled when you go rummaging around in dark corners. In fact, I'm not aware of any Oz spiders that attack without provocation, real or perceived.

Thanks for the message this morning, TX Greg. I replied but it bounced. Verizon has my mail server on its spam list. I tried the disconnect/reconnect cut and paste trick but that bounced too. My ISP has sent my complaint up the technical ladder to a more experienced person but so far no joy.

What a surprising portrait of modesty in a church that had lost touch with it. And what a refreshing example of humility in a world with too little of it. Quote from an article in the NY Times about Pope Francis. Justin had the link on his blog so I pinched it.

I watched a program on telly last night about kids these days and their obsession with social media - twitter, facebook, etc, and "selfies", photos of themselves taken by themselves in all kinds of suggestive, provocative and even pornographic poses, all hungry for "likes" and peer approval. It's all about me, me, me, me, me. There's no humility, no modesty. Instead there's ego, insecurity and bullying. As one young person commented, "They're just photos, just bodies, there's nothing about the person's character."

Mongolian lamb tonight. A stiy fry but with minced/ground lamb for ol' gummy here, served with noodles. Tastes good, though, even without chewing. Those packet sauces (the wet ones) are a great idea... all the right ingredients with no waste, and still less than $2. The recipe called for fresh chillies but the ol' taste buds are still a bit sensitive so I used a shake of Tabasco instead.

From the Beeb: Kenyan security forces say they have taken control of all floors of the Nairobi shopping centre attacked by suspected al-Shabab militants. An explosion and bursts of gunfire were heard coming from the complex on Tuesday morning as speculation grew that the operation was nearing its end. At least 62 people have been killed with more than 170 injured. They see themselves as heroes fighting a just cause. What can you do?

An estimated 20 million Americans live in mobile homes, according to new Census figures. How did this become the cheap housing of choice for so many people? That almost the entire Australian population!

US President Barack Obama conquered a long-term smoking habit because he was afraid of his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, he has joked with a UN official. The jesting admission, which the president made apparently unaware he was on camera, came at the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday. Mr Obama privately told a human rights campaigner that he had not had a cigarette in roughly six years. "That's because I'm scared of my wife," he said with a smile.

Forget coal, oil, shale gas, even nuclear. The bin bag - full of your household waste - is becoming one of Norway's fuels of choice. Try to imagine the smell when a bin lorry passes you on the street on a hot summer's day. Breathe it in through your nostrils. Stinks, doesn't it? Now multiply it by a thousand. That's what it is like inside the largest energy recovery facility in Norway, the Klemetsrud plant. A vast concrete hall of waste. Tens of thousands of tonnes of rubbish piled up. The conveyor belts clunk and clank as more pours in. Bin lorries reverse towards the chutes and tip out more plastic bags of waste.

The Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra has taken the top honours at this year's Emmy awards, held in Los Angeles on Sunday. The film, shown on the cable network HBO in the US, won three awards including best TV movie and a best actor award for Michael Douglas.

I've just been involved in the Battle of the Blowies. Dunno if it's the smell of the Mongolian lamb or just food itself, but blow flies congregated around the front screen door as well as the kitchen windows. Some managed to find little holes somewhere and got in, so I sprang into action with the swatter. But there were too many buzzing and zipping all over the place, so I grabbed the big gun and squirted them with insecticide. That fixed 'em. So is it something in the Mongolian sauce? Or the result of yesterday's 30+ C and spring causing the buggers to hatch by the millions? I've not seen this many blowies all at once in all the years I've been here.

As to "trailer trash", seems to me there's a big diff between people who live in trailer parks and those who travel in trailers. But at the end of the Odyssey, when I'm too old to travel another inch, I can see myself living in a caravan somewhere. Why not? Those things are much nicer and more comfortable than many el cheapo flats I've seen. And if the neighborhood gets a bit rough, I can move without all that irritating packing and unpacking business. Anyway, I'll worry about that if or when the time comes. Meanwhile, I've got a lotta living to do.

As well as a bit of telly to do. Hooroo. Gary

September 23, 2013. Back from another squirt by the dentist, not Nancy this time, she's up in Crocodile Dundee territory studying some doctor's medical technique which she finds interesting. She's been up that way before but as a camper/traveller in a 4WD. She gets about, that girl.

Interesting doco on telly last night about the way we've reshaped the world in terms of moving stuff, including people, around the planet. Supersized Earth: The Way We Move. The biggest shipbuilding yard is in South Korea where they turn out a massive cargo ship every 3 days. Sheesh. It's the magic 'box' that has revolutionized shipping - the humble container. Boxes are easy to pack, load, unload and store. Bridge and road building in China is another amazing story. It's all happened in the last 20 years at a furious pace that doesn't look like slowing any time soon. The show, a BBC production in association with a French company, covered all forms of transport from roads to space travel. Riveting stuff. And more to come.

Television is a great tool for combining information with entertainment - my kinda program.

How did you hear about the YMCA?

Well, I just trashed another bunch of rubbish into the wheelie bin and found a chair! Isn't that amazing! Little did I realize there was a chair under all that crap... a folding camping chair. It's gonna look a lot more at home in the outdoors than it does here in my "office". I was on eBay this morning providing feedback for the 12v computer power supply and comp battery when I realized there are a couple of other things that haven't arrived yet. Short term memory prob ya know. One is the hammock and the other is... er... oh yes, the door wheel for the awning. I also splurged a bit more loot this morning on a 12v oscillating 6" fan for the car or camper. $17 from China with free postage.

From the Beeb: Most of the people caught up in an attack on a shopping centre in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, have been rescued, defence officials have told the BBC. Col Cyrus Oguna said only a small number remained under the control of the militants, who are thought to be from Somalia's al-Shabab movement. Some of those rescued are dehydrated, said Col Oguna. At least 68 people have been killed.

Dom Joly and Owen Bennett Jones on who supports whom in Syria. There have been a number of recent attempts to find a pithy way to explain the complexity of the Middle East and who supports whom in Syria. Comedian Dom Joly, who grew up in Lebanon and travels frequently in the Middle East, and the BBC's Owen Bennett Jones, a Middle East expert, have recorded their own attempt.

The Powertech laptop 12v power supply is now unpacked. It comes with 16 different adaptors that plug into the computer. I didn't realize there were so many different types! The Acer, for example, is different to the Toshie. Anyway, according to the AC adaptor connected to the Toshie, the Toshie uses 19v and 5 amps, which is 95 watts, right? The Powertech is 90 watts. Nautical Bill uses one with his Toshie with no probs so here's hoping mine will work too.

Now, where to store the bits. Of course! The computer carry bag I bought on eBay ages ago, and that I'd almost forgotten about. It even has the Toshiba user manual in there. I'd forgotten about that too! Aren't bags wonderful? Especially those with lots of pockets and compartments. And a handle so, if it's in the way, you can easily move it and its contents somewhere else. No wonder people refer to "getting a hanfle on a situation..." So that takes care of the power supply and 16 adaptors, plus both laptops. Bags are beautiful things! No wonder women use them for everything but the kitchen sink.

That reminds me of a woman I worked with on a TV production back in '89. She had an Apple IIe which had its own bag - like a backpack. The IIe wasn't as bulky as PCs back then but it was still fairly hefty, and a LOT heftier than today's laptops. Anyway, she was either paranoid about somebody peeking at her work, or the machine being stolen, so every afternoon at knock-off time she packed the thing away in the bag, heaved it over her shoulders, and toddled off into the sunset. She was only 5' nothing and looked like an elf carrying Santa's sack.

The estate agent bloke who was here the other day to inspect the house used an iPad or whatever it was to record his findings and make notes. Twelve years ago, the agent who did the inspection used a voice recorder, which would have needed transcribing back at the office. Twelve years ago I was using a desktop as big as a fridge with one USB port and a 40GB hard drive. Backups were done on CDs. My new digital camera was 2.2MP hehe.

This is lifted from the BBC news: The number of over-70s who hold a UK driving licence has exceeded four million for the first time, the RAC Foundation has said. The foundation said 191 people a century old or more hold a licence, with a 107-year-old woman the country's oldest licensed driver. Motorists over 70 must declare they are fit every three years, but they do not have to take a driving or medical exam.

Lindsay tells me Sue's operation went okay - screws in the fractured femur - but she'll need some weeks of respite and then be transferred to Wingham hospital for physio. So she might be absent from here for 2 or 3 months. Hmmm. It's been quiet here in this house, ya know. Very quiet. A taste of things to come, yes?

And speaking of quiet, that's the way it's been today. Not a lot happening, folks, unless you count my camp chair no longer hidden by a mountain of rubbish, and a bit of fiddling with power supplies and such. It's nice to see the place slowly being cleared of junk - stuff I've accumulated for some obscure reason - stuff I really don't need, nor want, to be honest. So, I'm off to the magical land of telly. Catch you tomorrow. Gary

September 22, 2013. Scrumptious day. Earlier I was doing my Attenborough thing in the garden when I spotted a small spider preparing breakfast.

On telly last night there was a program about bees and honey, and a restaurant in inner Sydney that serves "local" honey. In fact, it's so local it's right above where the diners are seated. A rooftop apiary. Rooftop apiaries are fast becoming popular all over the world in cities using the space atop skyscrapers to increase bee populations, and thereby the good work they do in pollenating flora. We depend on the busy little dudes for our very existence. I have honey every morning in my smoothie.

And speaking of food, here's NC Art with Spam b Damn: During my flying days in England our mess officer was a devout Merman, conscientious objector to killing people, but did his dour best to feed the troops decent concoctions from whatever was at hand.

   On one lovely day for bombing Germany, the cook managed to find fresh eggs for breakfast … a rare and welcome change from reconstituted dehydrated egg powder. My radio man looked at his serving and said, “Man, I’ve got to have enough for sustenance!” Cookie looked around and answered, deadpan, “I don’t see Sustenance here, so move on.” We had seen him every day for six months and didn’t know he had a sense of humor.

   When Hitler stood down the scramble was on to move thousands of aircraft and crews back across the Atlantic. Apparently there were no more ships and airplanes to come the other way with foodstuffs. But, there was plenty of Spam. I think it had been piling up in warehouses since 1939 when England was first under attack.

   Therefore the brass made a decision not to bring any of it home to the U. S. I am making a guess here, but it’s reasonable because by god we ate Spam three times a day for six weeks while repairing our bomber for a trip home.

   So, no matter how sweet is that kid leering at a can of Spam, please don’t show such an abomination to me ever again!

Yes, that kid is cute, as are most kids, and I figure that's why we have the three score and ten thing. Imagine a world full of Methuselahs - grumpy old wrinklies and no fresh faces to brighten our day. Kids can be a pain in the butt BUT they're cute.

I'm not sure if this pic was taken at Wingham Brush, but it's a sight that happens every day at sunset when the protected population of flying foxes takes off in search of food around the Manning Valley - fruit trees of any kind. Together with native bees, the bats are a vital link in the pollenation chain, which is why they're protected. So when I take PJ for its first shakedown cruise, camped on the banks of the Manning at Wingham Brush, I'll be sure to get a pic or two of the daily exodus. Here's a bunch of the little dudes just hangin' out together. Here's one in full flight.

OR Richie's been having a tough time the past few months but has just kicked a goal and is now a very happy camper again. Congratulations, Richie! He sent this link just now: History's 10 best-selling cars of all time.

From the Beeb: An unknown number of hostages are still inside a shopping centre in the Kenyan capital Nairobi after a deadly assault by al-Shabab militants, say officials. At least 39 people died when members of the Somali Islamist group stormed the Westgate centre on Saturday. Say no more.

They say religion (and ideology) causes wars. I say people cause wars. No people, no religion, no ideology. They only exist because we do. Human beings can be such marvelous creatures - creative, productive, imaginative, innovative, loving and caring. But they can also be such fucked-up halfwits it defies belief. The most frustrating thing is that you can't use logic or even plain common sense to debate an issue with a religious or ideological fanatic. Mind you, they feel the same way about moderates and/or non-believers hence their use of murder and terrorism. Live and let live is not an option for people obsessed by superstition.

So what, you may ask, is stition if it's not super? superstitious
late 14c., from O.Fr. superstitieux, from L. superstitiosus, from superstitionem (nom. superstitio) "prophecy, soothsaying, excessive fear of the gods," perhaps originally "state of religious exaltation," related to superstes (gen. superstitis) "standing over or above," also "standing by, surviving," from superstare "stand on or over, survive," from super "above" (see super-) + stare "to stand," from PIE base *sta- "to stand" (see stet). There are many theories for the L. sense development, but none has yet triumphed. Superstition is attested from 1402. In Eng., originally especially of religion; sense of "unreasonable notion" is from 1794.

Remember the Dam Busters? Now we have the Loo Busters: The Venezuelan government has taken over a toilet paper factory to avoid any scarcity of the product. The National Guard has taken control of the plant, and officers will monitor production and distribution.

Loo paper is something we take for granted - UNTIL it's not there. Hehe. What a predicament! I suppose in an emercency one could always flush the loo and use the toilet brush. Yow! That could be a tad painful even without hemorrhoids. I've read on the GN forum that some travellers (such as backpackers on a budget) pinch loo paper from public toilets. The selfish bastards. Another GN suggested McDonalds if you're on the road and in need of a clean loo.

Have you ever tried one of those "microwavable" frozen burgers from the supermarket? Big mistake! One of the key ingredients of a burger is the bun, and Maccas has perfected it. Not too hard and crusty, not too big, not too 'bready'. When you bite into a Maccas bun, it doesn't send the filling shooting out the other side, like with some corner-store burgers in Oz. The Maccas bun has just the right give to take a bite without upsetting the equilibrium. Some Aussie burgers are a bit too ambitious with the filling. There's so much food packed between the buns the slightest nibble can have catastrophic consequences. Those kinda burgers are best left to a plate with a knife and fork. I shouldn't be discussing all this burger business ya know. I haven't tucked into one in aaaaaages!

Well, there goes another weekend. Whoosh. I feel a bit guilty about having wasted it but the time is approaching when not a day will be wasted ever again - even if it's writing the AO journal under a palm tree, or chatting with a neighbor, or giving the Nikon a bit of a workout. I'll be in the thick of the action - at the front line so to speak - 24/7. Gary

September 21, 2013. I've been fiddling around in Photoscape again...

I made a bigger size as well for Red Bubble for use as postcards. Pretty nifty montage, yeah? Maybe I can do something similar when I visit various towns and locations on the Odyssey. You can buy a 4" x 6" postcard from Red Bubble for $2.30.

Here's a distant ancestor of the modern programmable computer - The Writer Automaton. An amazing machine invented by an amazing man back in the 1770s when Captain James Cook in the Endeavour was charting the east coast of Australia. NC Art sent the link: Fascinating !!! And just a little creepy...............

From the Beeb: How US bomber nearly nuked North Carolina in 1961. In a new book Command and Control, journalist Eric Schlosser chronicles America's terrifying nuclear mishaps and near misses. He recounts how in one incident in 1961, days after President John F Kennedy's inauguration, two hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped on Goldsboro, North Carolina, as a B-52 bomber went into a tailspin. Only the failure of a single low-voltage switch prevented disaster, Schlosser explains to the BBC's Katty Kay.

Donations of more than $110,000 (£67,000) have poured in from across the US for a Boston homeless man who returned a lost bag with $42,000 in it. Glen James alerted police after he found the backpack containing cash and traveller's cheques last weekend, and the bag's owner was then tracked down.

For Volvo owner, 3m miles and counting. A Volvo P1800 logged its three-millionth mile on 18 September while travelling Alaska’s Seward Highway. The coupe is owned by Irv Gordon, 74, who purchased it new in 1966.

I think I'm suffering eBay withdrawals. No prezzies. I wonder if there is such a thing as an eBay addict. I suppose there is. After all, we refer to some regular shoppers as shopaholics. So far, I've resisted buying anything that's not necessary or at least practical. In fact, I said to Lindsay this morning that PJ has been bought and paid for by slot machine money - money the machines didn't get. Hehe. 

Anyway, I just tried the lounger to see if it fits into the cab over for storage and transport. No wukkers. That's about the largest and bulkiest thing I have so there won't be problems with anything else. Although.... I'm not too crazy about the porta potti sitting on the front seat when I'm travellng hehe, so I might experiment with transporting it in two halves and store them separately. Once I get the tool boxes fitted, lots of smaller things can be stored in those which frees up more space in the larger boxes. Down there for dancin', yeah?

Some older GNs with large motorhomes who find it difficult to climb into the cab over, use it for storage rather than sleeping - and there's a helluva lotta room in there!

FL Josh wrote: Ah, the happiness Spam can bring to campers!!!

Spam on a bun. There ya go. And that's all I'm sayin'. Who's Alec Tumbles anyway? Alec J Fischer - he's an actor from Alec in WILDerland, an adventure and survival show and he's from Texas. So where's the Larry Hagman hat? And what's he doing with Spam? Hmmm. Anyway, Spam schmam.

Here's a recipe from the GN cookery forum that sounds delicious: Chocolate Spiders...

1 pkt Chang's Fried Noodles.

2 tablespoons peanut butter.

2 cups chocolate melts.

In saucepan, add peanut butter & chocolate and cook over a low heat until just melted and combined.

Add noodles and work quickly to mix well.

Place small spoon full mixture onto a baking paper lined tray and put in fridge until set.

Very more-ish.

Not one for the people on a Jenny Craig diet.

Or people without teeth. Grrrrr. Aaaaaaaanyway, time for me to skedaddle and catch a bit of telly and sustenance. Gary

September 20, 2013. I'm gonna miss all the prezzies arriving when PJ is finally finished, which she almost is. There'll be a few bits and pieces I'll buy on eBay from time to time but nothing like all the stuff I've been getting over the past year or two. One GN often writes about having stuff sent to a post office near where he happens to be camped, so there's no drama with deliveries. Other stuff I can buy from stores in major towns. OR Richie mentioned roadside stalls, and there's no shortage of those for fruit and veg bargains.

Roadside stalls bring back memories of my mother when her eyesight was beginning to fade. She'd spot spuds or tomatoes or whatever on spesh at a roadside stall but by the time she alerted dad he would have driven some distance further on hehe. "I can't turn around here, Nell! There's too much traffic!" The thing I remember most about those days, returning from a day at the beach, is lying on the floor of the cargo area at the back of the van and watching the power poles drifting by through the rear window while listening to the engine revs and gear changes. Going around corners gave a new perspective to the view.

Well, if I ever win a "truckload" in Lotto I can now have it deposited in my bank account. I've just gone through the ID process, which is a once only process, and which involved scanning and emailing a few documents. Pretty straight forward. There was a few hundred already sitting in there which I thought would be more productive sitting in my bank account instead of theirs.

Just phoned Andrew. His achilles heel is getting better but he's busy with a bunch of stuff at Nabiac so he reckons it'll be another week or so before he tackles my jobs. He said some stuff arrived in the mail (according to his missus) which is probably my aerials for the camper and car radios. He's gonna fit one of the aerials to the top of the van on a swivel base. I also mentioned relocating the rear view camera to avoid the bicycle rack.

I figure my first shakedown cruise will be at Wingham Brush which is not far from here - half an hour, beside the Manning River at Wingham and home to a large fruit bat population. It's a free site with a 24 hour limit but I might get to stretch that to two nights. It'll give me an opportunity to test a few things and take pics of PJ in an actual camp situation for the long-awaited video starring Stan the Lawn Man tackling the overgrowth at the side of the driveway. Jeez, that's a while back and a lot has happened since. The bumectomy, for one.

It's nice to have the new battery in the laptop as well, which means I can Waffle when I'm away from camp - enjoying a beer in a pub or relaxing on the porta potti or whatever. :o

I thought I'd embed that video, Legends of Southern Land - Straya - cos I didn't want you to miss it. :o)

Steve W wrote to comment on the pic of the railway clock: Liked the photo of railways clock and what you did to the pic.......but surely you must have been doing that for some time now with the photos of yourself - especially that toothless one in the hat!

Yes, I know.......piss off Steve!

Unfortunately, I can't claim to have used any Photoscape effects on the toothless hat pic hehe. It's straight out of the camera. Oh dear...

Have you heard about Pope Francis saying he won't be commenting on issues such as gays and abortion? NC Art sent this link to the Borowitz Report on the "scandalous" matter.

Meanwhile, TX Greg spotted something that might come in handy next time I'm on the loo: Well what will they think up next. You could have fun with one of these if you're on the loo and those Jehovah's Witnesses show up at the door again, hahaha...

From the Beeb: Syria's deputy prime minister says the civil war has reached stalemate with neither side strong enough to win. Qadri Jamil told the UK's Guardian newspaper that at proposed peace talks in Geneva, Damascus would call for a ceasefire with the armed opposition. The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says Mr Jamil seems to be reflecting a drive by Russia to prepare for peace talks. Better they sort out their own problems rather than by intervention from the West. But I don't think al Assad will be in any hurry to vacate.

When considering the 1960s, there are certain photographers whose names leap out at us, the majority from the world of fashion, with the so-called holy trinity of David Bailey, Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy at the forefront. Yet away from the glamour of the fashion scene, a new breed of social photographers was emerging. And one of those was Tony Ray-Jones whose pictures helped define photography in the 1970s and beyond, despite his death from leukaemia aged 30 in 1972

Pope Francis has said the Catholic Church is too focused on preaching about abortion, gay people and contraception and needs to become more merciful. He warned that the Church's moral structure could "fall like a house of cards" unless it changed

With able assistance from readers, the editors of Top Gear magazine have named the 50 greatest cars built since the publication’s inaugural issue 20 years ago. Befitting the planet’s most opinionated automotive news source, this is a list that inspires strong reactions – not least of which from BBC Autos editor Matthew Phenix and deputy editor Jonathan Schultz, who have endeavoured to recreate moments where these special machines stormed into their lives. If OR Richie reads this I'll never hear the end of it.

Here's a snapshot of Longreach, the birthplace of Qantas in Oz, by a GN who's just visited there and taken a few pics. I'd love to ride atop that wagon and take pics. Pretty dusty out there though.

Have you ever wondered why sharks circle before they attack?

And now it's time for me to post this Waffle and do my evening thing. If I were camping, I'd be taking sunset pics. But that's then and this is now. Gary

September 19, 2013. Another glorious day on the Mid North Coast of NSW Straya. Speaking of pronunciation and accents, there's a bunch of American wheelchair footballers (handballers?) here at the mo playing an Oz team. It's a pretty rough and tough game. The father of one of the US players was on the sidelines, cheering his son's team in a Southern drawl about 10 times more pronounced than the rooster's in that WB cartoon Foghorn Leghorn. Do people really speak like that? I thought the guy had to be kidding at first, but no, he was real. Then I heard one of the players speak with an accent far less pronounced, so maybe it's a generational thing that's slowly disappearing.

Murphy's law is at it again. As soon as I was in the loo, the postie arrived with the new battery for the laptop, and also the Powertech power supply for 12v use. "Are you there, Gary?" "Yeah... hang on!"

From the Beeb: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he is committed to a plan to destroy his country's chemical weapons but warned it could take about a year. Speaking to Fox News, Mr Assad again denied claims that his forces were responsible for a deadly chemical attack near Damascus on 21 August. Just cos we got 'em doesen't mean we used 'em. Yeah?

Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani has said that his country would never build nuclear weapons. Mr Rouhani also told US broadcaster NBC he had full authority to negotiate with the West over Tehran's controversial uranium enrichment programme. And he described a recent letter sent to him by US President Barack Obama as "positive and constructive". So far, so good.

Asia is celebrating the annual lunar thanksgiving holiday this week. In South Korea, where it's known as Chuseok, the holiday is celebrated by visiting family, paying respects to ancestors... and the giving and receiving of packaged cans of Spam. The pre-cooked tins of pork meat are the stuff of jokes, lunch boxes, wartime memories and, here in South Korea, a low-key, national love affair. Spam has become a staple of South Korean life, and the country is now the biggest consumer of it outside the US.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013: From views of the Moon and our neighbours in the solar system, to colourful depictions of the gases and galaxies which swirl in deep space. Take a look at the best images - and see the overall winner - of this year's Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Fabulous stuff, well worth a look.

The coffee chain Starbucks has asked its customers in the US to stop bringing guns into its outlets. Starbucks has not imposed a ban, but says guns "should not be part of the Starbucks experience". Thank god I live in Australia.

I'm pretty sure my mom used to buy Spam. I vaguely remember it in summer salads on Sundays. I smothered everything in salads with vinegar so that was my way of disguising the taste of anything I didn't like. And I loved vinegar! Still do. Vinegar is a good cleaner too. However, there's no way a can of Spam will ever see the inside of PJ. I'm not too crazy about canned meat at the best of times. Better to buy slices from the deli and refrigerate them, pastrami being one of my favs. I'll also be splitting 500g of ground beef into two halves - one for a bolognaisey/tomatoey type dish I can use in jaffles or with pasta, and the other for burgers which I prefer to regular steaks anyway. That would be enough for several meals - cheap! Some GNs talk about dining at pubs and restaurants, which is fine once in a while, but the cost of a meal in a pub could feed me for a week if I do my own cooking. Gotta watch the budget ya know.

Camping next to someone with a bunch of fishing rods is a good way to ensure an invite to dinner as well hehe. Or being a solo bloke. Women get all motherly when they see some poor old bloke camped on his own. Back in Queanbeyan (near Canberra) 20 years ago I lived in a flat across from a couple originally from South Africa, and the wife was constantly knocking on my door with leftovers. They were yummy too! Maybe there was something else going on as well but I didn't twig. She eventually left her hubby to return to Safrica and he bought a villa in Queanbeyan. In any case, I was busy with another woman in the block of flats who also thought I was scrumptious. Eeek!

Does that shot look like something I took while in Sydney 2 weeks ago? Well, it is. I fiddled around with it in Photoscape earlier today - converted it to sepia and gave it an antique photo look. See? You can't believe anything you see these days. But it certainly makes the image look interesting - even authentic - and the clock is after all mid/late 19th century. It's on Central Station in Sydney, and still keeps perfect time.

Speaking of photography, I hope you enjoyed the entries in the Astronomy Awards. Magic stuff! Also agree with the choice of winner - the pic of the Milky Way with the lighthouse in NZ. I'll have to start learning a thing or two about night photography in readiness for the AO.

Meanwhile, that's a wrap for Waffle for this Thursday. Gary

September 18, 2013. I'm bleeding! But it's a good thing according to Nancy - it means the gums are vascularizing. It occurred to me this morning that a shakedown mini cruise will take a bit of organizing with dietary needs - I can't eat ordinary foods so I'll have to cook/prepare stuff in advance (like smoothies) and keep them refrigerated. It means I'll have to limit my mini O's to about 2 days. Caravan Parks (with powered sites) are out cos they're too expensive while I'm paying rent here as well.

Sue goes into the operating theater tomorrow. But what I'm wondering is what happens when she returns? Lindsay's back is stuffed and she'll no doubt resume her regular vertical plummets so I suspect it's only a matter of time before there's another major drama. Oh well...

Back from PJ and another couple of little jobs done. I connected the gas switch again but it just sits there and does nothing with the full/empty gauge, so I dunno what the story is. It's now in the tool box in case I bump into someone who is familiar with how it operates - or is supposed to. I also checked the back of the fridge for gas leaks. AOK. So all the screws are back in. Naturally, I managed to gouge part of my arm off against the wind-flapping gas bottle door, and almost got bitten by a red back spider that was lurking on the jar of screws. It parachuted on its web to safety after I disturbed it but my foot brought an abrupt end to its escape attempt. A red back bite can make you pretty sick. I reckon a week of camping should have me wrapped head to toe in bandages with both legs in splints.

Here we go again... my reply to OR Richie is not getting through. TX Greg reckons it's because I use a wireless modem that gets a different IP address every time I log on. Anyway, the message says I don't need to re-send cos they'll keep trying.

The bloke from the estate agency arrived a little while ago for the inspection and was most impressed. "It's a real credit to you." Hehe. He wouldn't have said that before Ivan did his thing. But the house wasn't dirty, just somewhat untidy. The agent is 74 and still working. "I retired but came back," he said. "Sucker for punishment." He owns a 25' caravan and has traveled around Oz quite extensively. He mentioned PJ. He told me why he bought his van 6 years ago. His wife was diagnosed with leukemia and given 12 months to live. He said to her you're not dying here, so he went out and bought a caravan. He reckons the travelling did her the world of good because the cancer went into remission and she's still here. He's still got the van but doesn't use it much because he's back working full time. I've asked a few GNs on the forum if the nomad lifestyle has improved their health and outlook and they all say yes, it has.

I posted that story on the GN forum and got this response from one reader: I know a bloke who at the time was in his early 70s,went to the Drs because he wasn't feeling %100 ,the Dr told him to go home and put his affairs into place,  due to some med condition he found he had or presumed he had. This bloke went home but instead of getting his affairs put into place he packed his camping gear into the side car of his motor bike (Honda Goldwing) and hit the road. That was over eight years ago. After he rode around Oz (two years ) he traded the bike and side car on a small motor home and still travelling and never stepped inside a Drs surgery since that time way back when he was given the prognoses of not being around for all that much longer. Last time I spoke to him on the phn he was volunteering at the Transport Museum in Alice Springs.

From the Beeb: Tony Abbott has been sworn in as Australia's prime minister, days after his Liberal-National coalition ended six years of Labor government. Mr Abbott, 55, took the oath at Government House in Canberra in front of Governor-General Quentin Bryce. His conservative coalition won a comfortable lower house majority in the 7 September polls. He's already in the poo for having only one woman in his cabinet.

Notice I didn't say his wardrobe? I was tempted though hehe.

Close-up footage of the Costa Concordia wreck shows the extensive damage to the ship after it ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio. Engineers in Italy have succeeded in setting the vessel upright, 20 months after the incident.

Why does Wisconsin send so many black people to jail? For decades in the US, the incarceration rate for African Americans has been much higher than for whites, a racial disparity the US Attorney General Eric Holder has described as "shameful"

The man who killed 12 people at a Washington DC Navy installation had received treatment for mental health issues, US media report. Former US Navy reservist Aaron Alexis, 34, had been treated for paranoia, hearing voices and sleeplessness, the Associated Press reported. If a person with a gun snaps, they'll use it. Simple as that.

Here's a pretty serious rig from a GN.

It's that time of day again, ladies and genitals. I dunno where the time goes, honest. Midday arrives in a flash and then before I know it it's 5-ish. Oh well, let's see what tomorrow brings. Gary

September 17, 2013. I was throwing more stuff out last night and came across this magazine article I hadn't read. It's from Open Road, a mag published by the National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA) which handles my roadside assistance and vehicle insurance:

THE FIRST GENERATION VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE started out as 'the people's car' and became an automotive legend. The 1962 model we've tested  here is, technically speaking, the third model of the first generation, and perhaps the best all-rounder.

Very early Beetles (think late '40s or early 50s) are highly sought after by collectors today but are diabolical to drive, thanks to such nasties as cable brakes and underpowered engines. By the mid 1960s, VW had added hydraulic brakes and larger engines, making the Beetle more driveable while retaining simplicity. 

What impresses novice punters the most about an early Beetle is how capable they are as a daily driver all these years later. Punting along the motorway at 110km/h, this beautifully original, meticulously maintained 1962 model keeps up with traffic easily. You often have to remind yourself that this is, in fact, a 60-year-old vehicle.

I've driven more early Beetles and Kombis than I care to remember, and this early example is, without doubt, among the best. It's tight, rattle free, comfortable and a cinch to drive, delivering a perfect snapshot into driving life in 1962.

The 1200cc engine sings along nicely, the four-speed manual gearbox is precise and shifts easily and the four-wheel drum brakes are more than adequate for repeated city use. Even the automatic choke works! It's still six volt, though, and the Beetle's headlights won't win friends on a really dark night. You might need to consider an electric pump for the windscreen washers too - the original runs off the compressed air in the spare tyre!

Something that always impresses me about VWs is their inherent simplicity. They were also designed for extreme climates too, meaning instant cult status in hot and dusty Australia. Look after an early Beetle and it will more than likely roll on forever.

This look back has provided us with a valuable insight. It shows quite graphically how far a company like VW has come, but also sheds a genuinely favorable light on where it began. The new Beetle is an exceptional car with a whole host of safety equipment and technology that we now take for granted. Its grandfather, though, is still a brilliant example of mid-century engineering. That it holds its head so high on the road in 2013 only serves to emphasise that point.
Yep, I have very fond memories of my old Beetles, which were certainly fun to drive. If I'd been half smart I would have kept my first one and saved a bloody fortune over the years. $1900 brand spanking new it cost me in 1965.

Ivan showed up at sparrow's and went about his business, taking an hour longer than he quoted hehe, which had nothing to do with my incessant chatting. Yeah, right. But, typical of blokes, he missed the little jobs like paw marks on doors and light switches, but I'll take care of those. Like Stan the Lawn Man, who's also here, he's an ex farmer (dairy) and reckons cleaning and general maintenance work is a breeze compared to running a dairy farm. He was from Comboyne which is not far north west of here.

Last night I bought the Powertech laptop power supply recommended by Nautical Bill. Double the bucks asked for the Chinese one but a good brand, and cheaper than store bought - also the last one from that seller as it turns out. Bill says he's been using his with his Toshiba with no problems. I also splurged on a new battery for the Toshiba this morning - wholesale price and free postage. So I'm all set to waffle on the AO under the gum trees.

Stan the Lawn Man showed up today as well and approved of PJ's bumectomy.

Occasionally on the GN forum I read about someone having something stolen at a camp site or being annoyed by hoons but it doesn't happen often. Here's an article in the GN mag about camping safety in Oz compared to the US.

Not far from Canberra is a town called Yass. Wanna see what the McDonald's sign looks like?

From the Beeb: Engineers in Italy have succeeded in setting the cruise ship Costa Concordia upright, 20 months after it ran aground off the island of Giglio. They said that the unprecedented salvage effort "reached degree zero (vertical), which was our target". Amazing effort. The thing weighs twice as much as the Titanic.

I received some stuff from World Vision today about Anyel's birthday - my sponsored child in Nicaragua. He'll be 5 in January. How about that? From a toddler to a school-age boy already. I've not mentioned anything about cancer or whatever to him or his family, nor anything about the Odyssey. I'm simply the mystery man from Oz who helps out with the bills. What's going on in their lives is far more important than what's going on in mine, at least for now. Maybe one day when they get internet access and a better understanding of English it'll be time to learn more. Meanwhile, I'll write a personal message on Anyel's birthday card and send it off. At age 5, he'll have a much better understanding of his situation and the work World Vision is doing to give him a brighter future.

Did I mention Nancy's reaction to Mini Odysseys? She's all for it - taking breaks between visits and irrigations to check out the camping scene. There's not all that much left to do on PJ - a few more things by Andrew. Other jobs like tool boxes, cracked window, etc, can wait. So I suppose I better start thinking about where and when. It won't be as much fun without teeth but they could take months to materialize. Hmmm.

For the moment, though, it's the usual routine while I think about where I'll go for my very first shakedown cruise. Gary

September 16, 2013. "Why me?" I said to Nancy and Emma this morning. "Why couldn't I get some boring old dentist who behaves like a proper dentist instead of all this giggling and carry on?" Quick as a flash, they said, "Ohhhh, we can organize that, no problem!" Hehe. They really are a couple of cheeky characters, those girls. But both agree that the medication prescribed by the specialist in Sydney is working, albeit slowly. Progress is visible.

When I arrived back home, Ivan the Cleaning Man phoned to say he'd be here tomorrow morning at 7. Sheesh.

Meanwhile, after yesterday's drama with L&S, TX Greg reminded me of something I should keep in mind: 

Greg also sent a link to an ad on Youtube - a real ad but not one you'd see on regular TV. A funny advert for a real product.... Think that would work in your porta potti, hehe

I watched a story about Mexico city last night, a city of 20m + built on a volcano crater that's sinking, which causes major problems with their sewerage system pumps. The pumps sometimes become clogged with bulky items so a diver is sent down into the crap (literally) to remove blockages, one of which was a horse's head. Currently being built is the world's largest underground concrete tunnel which will ultimately take over sewerage disposal, and pump it 35kms out of town. 

Then you get a bloke like an Aussie farmer and restaurateur who plans to place a "farm" on top of a Melbourne skyscraper which will produce most of the food needed for his restaurant on the ground floor. He already operates a restaurant that has no rubbish bins. All organic waste is converted into compost which is used to fertilize the food he grows for the restaurant. Even the toilets collect urine that is "injected" into the soil as a fertilizer. The restaurant's suppliers of various products use recyclable containers that are either returned or used as compost. Nothing is wasted and everything is re-used. All drinks, including alcohol, are delivered in bulk and served by the glass or carafe. Wineries refused at first but he insisted - and won. Hehe.

I've often thought how crazy it is that Australia's cities and towns dispose of their waste in ways that ignore its recycled value when we have huge areas of farming land that could make excellent use of all that waste instead of relying on erratic rainfall or suffering long periods of drought. Maybe this bloke with the restaurant can penetrate a few thick skulls in Canberra with his message. If it can be done on a small scale, it can be done on any scale.

In South Oz, in a desert near the Great Australian Bight and ocean, there's a huge solar powered vegie patch. It's a massive hot house that uses hydroponics - no soil, only coconut fiber for the roots. Salt water from the ocean is converted to fresh - all powered by solar energy converted to steam that drives the pumps and everything else in the plant. Bulk fertilizer is mixed with the fresh water to nourish the fruit and vegies, and everything is drip fed automatically. The plant also has its own bees to take care of pollenation, and good bugs to control the bad bugs. No chemicals are used. The experiment has been a great success so now a similar plant ten times the size is planned. Or was that 100 times the size? Can't remember.

Well, we had ambulance blokes here during the night. I remember hearing voices but I didn't wake up. Must have been after 5am cos I was about to go to the loo when I saw L&S's bedroom light on and figured the loo was engaged so I used a bucket instead. Anyway, Lindsay just arrived home (I didn't even realize he was gone) and said he and Sue had been at the hospital for the past 5 hours. She had complained of pain all through the night so the docs checked and she's got a fractured femur - no doubt the result of one or more of her frequent falls. She's still in hospital and will be for some weeks. Lindsay says if they can't operate (she has serious osteoporosis) she'll be permanently bed ridden. As it is, she spends 20 hours a day in bed.

From the Beeb: French President Francois Hollande has described the US-Russia deal on Syria's chemical weapons as an "important step" towards the much bigger goal of a political solution to the civil war. But in a TV address Mr Hollande said: "The military option must remain; otherwise there will be no pressure."

Falling resource prices have seen thousands of workers laid off in Australia, and towns like Mackay, at the heart of the coal mining region on the east coast of Queensland, have suffered more than most. When Scott Gralow bought Mackay Motorcycles in 2007 the shop had just had its best year. They had sold 150 Harley-Davidsons, not bad for a town of just over 100,000 people. Then, two years later, he sold 210 of them. "It went from boom to 'boom boom'," he tells me. Those numbers made him one of the biggest regional Harley dealers in Australia

One of the largest and most daunting salvage operations ever attempted is set to begin with an attempt to pull the shipwrecked Costa Concordia upright. The Italian Civil Protection agency said the sea and weather conditions had mostly been right for the attempt

On my recent visit to Sydney and the Botanic Gardens, I took a number of shots of the Harbor Bridge and Opera House together from the foreshore promenade as I walked towards The Domain but there was one shot in particular that caught the imagination of Red Bubblers.

I've been chatting on the GN forum with Bill, the bloke who has a similar rig to mine, about plugging the laptop into 12v rather than the inverter. He uses a power adapter designed for powering laptops in the car. I checked eBay for a Powertech like his but found this one instead. BTW, Bill's built a few boats in his time so I'm wondering why he hasn't gotten in touch with Clive Palmer to offer his services with the New Titanic.

Incidentally, TX Greg, I got another bounce when I tried to forward my reply from the other day to you.

Another couple of plastic bags of JUNK got turfed into the wheelie today which now awaits tomorrow morning's collection. Good riddance! This is fun ya know... whittling down the stuff that clutters this joint. I mentioned it to Nancy during this morning's irrigation. "That's what I do," she said, "turn one big problem into several little manageable problems!" Yeah... way to go.

And that's it for Waffle for another day. It's almost back to winter tonight, cool and wet. Bleh. Gary

September 15, 2013. Interesting morning. Lindsay assisted Sue to the loo as usual then waited for her to finish before helping her back to bed. But when he entered the loo to help her off the seat, he pulled a muscle or something in his lower back and he was on the floor in severe pain. I waited a while for him to recover but he didn't, so I phoned triple 0 for an ambo. The first two paramedics decided they needed help, so another two arrived. Finally, they got him onto a stretcher. But all the time, Sue was poking her head around the loo doorway itching to get out. My attempts to draw attention to her were ignored. They would have to learn the hard way that she's a very determined woman with habit of falling in a heap on the floor. Anyway, they were both hauled off to hospital - Sue for her own welfare. I'm not capable of lifting her or attending to her toilet needs. Nor do I want to. They were the ones who "sacked" me as carer when I came home from the cancer operation, so they can go to buggery.

Home alone! How nice! But for how long? Maybe I should pile everything into PJ and take off now. Nah. Can't do that.

Hmmm. How quickly things can change. Last year, when I returned from the cancer op, Lindsay couldn't wait to get rid of me as carer. "I'm Sue's carer now, I'll look after her," he took great delight in saying on more than a few occasions. "You can't even look after yourself!" He's always been pissed off with me as carer - it was an insult to his "authority" as husband. And now? If his back injury is permanent or semi permanent, who does the shopping? Who takes care of Sue? Who organizes the meals? Don't look at me. I've been sacked.

Early afternoon now and they're back. Lindsay's walking again but loaded up with pain killers. Hmmm. So back to square one.

TX Greg pointed out that 'junk' is American slang for penis so Junkless G has a connotation I hadn't considered. He also says he adopted his HAHAHA from Steve and his HEHEHE from Cody. Me too. I save HAHAHA for belly laughs and HEHEHE for a more subtle response. Come to think of it, I don't think Cody ever used HAHAHA. He was more of a sniggerer.

I replied to Greg's email earlier but it was bounced by his mail server's spam filter. I've notified my ISP.

BTW, the Landline program last night wasn't about moo cows but about fossils - the earliest animals of some 500 million years ago - in the South Australian desert near the Flinders Rangers. The diggings and discoveries are the work of a Californian professor and her two teenage kids while 87 y/o grandma is back at the homestead doing the domestics. I was impressed by the kids ability to speak about their work - most articulate indeed. But still kids. The program also did a story on a musician who lives just down the road from here, at Nabiac (where the caravan repair place is). He worked for years in the States with top musos such as the Doobie Bros as a keyboard-playing singer songwriter but is now back in Oz on his grandfather's farm with his missus learning all about cows and mending fences. But he still has his music and regularly travels around small towns with his "Big Bus Travelling Band", a group of musos he's worked with over the years who all enjoy a few weeks away in the scrub bringing city standard entertainment to the bush - and the locals just love it, coming from miles around to enjoy the shows.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama has welcomed an agreement between the US and Russia under which Syria's chemical weapons must be destroyed or removed by mid-2014 as an "important step". But a White House statement cautioned that the US expected Syria "to live up to its public commitments". Nice to see those sparring partners are working together.

A Russian official referred last week to Great Britain as "a small island to which no-one pays any attention". PM David Cameron responded by challenging anyone to name a country with a "prouder history, with a bigger heart, with a greater resilience". But he conceded that the UK was a "small group of islands". Is it?

Australia's ex-Prime Minister Julia Gillard has revealed the "acute distress" she felt after being dumped as leader of the Labor Party in June. "Losing power can bring forth a pain that hits you like a fist," she wrote in an opinion piece in the Guardian. At the time she was full of bravado, so why the confession now?

Here's something Oregon Richie sent: Modern researchers have puzzled for centuries over the striking stone construction known as Stonehenge. But now researchers have discovered new aspects of the site, including a processional road, that may eventually help unravel some of its mysteries.

Here's a post by a GN on the forum about husbands and wives trying to understand each other's gender based idiosyncrasies.

Well, what a strange day, and one I hope is never repeated - in regard to L&S that is. BTW, TX Greg asked if PJ's a/c is fitted with a drain hose and the answer is yes. There's a hole drilled in the storage bin lid just to the right of the vents with part of a black drip hose showing between the hinges.

So that's it for today. Seeya tomorrow. Gary

September 14, 2013. Ever wonder where TX Greg got his HAHAHAHAHA from? It's a Texas thing. Here's a voicemail from a witness to a traffic accident in Athens, Texas, where a car ran a red light and hit a vehicle occupied by 4 little old ladies.

And now here's a GN who's serious about packing everything he needs for the Big Lap.

If you're wondering why my reply hasn't reached you, Richie, it's because it bounced - your mail server is "not accepting connections". "The following address had permanent fatal errors".

Meanwhile, Francois sent a link to a vid showing a couple of backpackers (without backpacks, or anything else for that matter) in a rented camper playing whoopsie: you may challenge your young neighbors for a ride in your camper as this

Here's my convo with a Jehovah's Witness who came to the door just now:

Oh, there you are! I pressed the button but there was no buzzer.
No. It's a special buzzer for dogs.
I'm Fred and this is Bill.
You've had an operation recently? (Noting the scar on my neck)
Oh, that's no good.
Yes, it is. It's good.
It's good? 
Yes, it's good that I'm still here.
Oh... well, that's what I meant to say.
No worries.
Yes... well... we're showing people the good news in our magazine...
I'm not surprised.
Have you ever wondered why there's pain and suffering in the world?
Not really.
You've never wondered why there's pain and suffering?
Well, no. I mean, if there's no God why wouldn't there be?
You don't believe there's a God?
Oh. Well, we all have different beliefs. Some believe there's a God and some don't.
Very true.
But in our magazine, even for those who don't believe there's a God, there's valuable information that is very helpful...
How nice... I hope you find someone who's interested.
You're not interested?
Well, it was nice to meet you... enjoy the rest of your day.
Thank you.

I think Fred might be getting a few tips from his mentor, Bill, after our little chat. Nasty piece of work, aren't I.

NC Art wrote about the Ford Edsel: Actually, the Ed was not a bad looking vehicle—if you could avoid looking at the horse collar. I looked at one a long time, but my wife became the decider finally. Like, NO! And actually again, Andy Griffith was a short tempered rude dude and hard to work with. Meh. But good performer.

Pity your wife said no to the Ed. They're worth a fortune now as a collector's item. As to Mr Griffith, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at how an actor can portray himself as something other than what he really is. That's what actors do.

Speaking of autos that failed to inspire public acceptance, here's a slide show from the Beeb called Beautiful Losers.

And here's the Tomcar, Australia's Four-wheeled Swiss army knife.

Not much else on the Beeb today... pretty quiet "out there". Pretty quiet here too. Andrew didn't show so I guess his ankle is still giving him a tough time. If not, he's probably furiously playing catchup. Last time we spoke on the phone he said he had the solenoid ready to install, so he's obviously keen to get the job done. Not sure how old his kids are but I suspect they've been saddled with jobs around the farm while dad's hobbling about on one foot.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to tidy up piles of stuff that have accumulated because there's nowhere to put them. The filing cabinet is absolutely chockers with papers that go back decades - all redundant. There's not a flat surface in this room, including the floor, that is free of crap. Well, it's not all crap. The cameras aren't crap. But all those things need a place and I've run out of places. Those that are moved into PJ will have a place; those that are not will be relegated to the wheelie bins or sold. "It's amazing what people will buy," commented a GN on the forum after conducting a successful garage sale and putting all her stuff on the front lawn.

Another GN who answered a newbie's question about what they should take on their trip said she and her hubby spent the first month or two dumping stuff they thought was essential hehe. The most important thing in a motorhome or caravan is space, and anything that uses space unnecessarily gets the heave ho. I just threw out a heap of spice and herb bottles that are all way past their use-by date hehe. Used once and that's it. They gather dust. There were probably $60 or $70 worth. Now I buy those one-meal sachets with all the pre-mixed ingredients you need and there's no waste. Some say it's the expensive way to buy herbs and spices but it depends on how often you use them. For me, it's not often, with few exceptions such as pepper.

Anyway, I've decided to whittle down the piles bit by bit - some each day - so that the wheelie bins can handle it (without Lindsay bitching about my junk taking up all the room). Then I won't have to deal with a mammoth cleanup before I leave on the AO. Gotta go through my wardrobe too hehe. There's stuff in there from the '80s would you believe. Stuff I haven't worn for decades! THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN IN PJ, I promise. I've had enough of JUNK! The new cleaner, leaner, meaner me is emerging! Junkless G.

I'm thinking about where I'll be using this laptop on the Odyssey. Inside PJ some of the time but probably outside quite a bit. I wonder if this comp can be plugged directly into 12V. I have a couple of 12V plugs here from other devices (now redundant). One has a sticker that reads "Input DC 12V - Output DC 7.5V 600mA - only for use with DC 12V system with negative chassis ground." Sooooo, does this comp have a negative chassis? Buggered if I know. The other car adaptor says it's RoHS compliant and "connect only to DC 12V." I know that this laptop runs off a battery (now dead as a doornail) when not connected to house power. One of the 12V adaptors belonged to that mini TV I had. It could be powered using an AC/DC adaptor (like this laptop uses) or by the 12V adaptor plugged into a car socket.

If hooking up directly to 12V isn't advisable, then I can always plug one of my power boards into the inverter for outside use.

Anyway, sitting on a chair under the awning by a river or whatever appeals to me as a great spot to tap merrily away on the keyboard rather than being stuck inside. I've been stuck inside for way too long already here in this "office" with a boring wall to look at.

Yesterday, NC Art sent a notice advertising Men Teaching Classes for Women. I posted it on the GN Just Joking forum hehe, and I've been advised by one GN to keep a low profile for a while.

And that's it for Satdee, ladies and genitals. Landline is on at 6 which is a good show about what's happening in rural areas of Oz. I like that kinda stuff - tractors and moo cows and country towns. Then Gardening Australia which I enjoy too - as long as they do the work while I watch. Hehe. Gary

September 13, 2013. Friday the 13th, folks! Not that I worryabout such things. Our cleaning bloke is Ivan. He looks like an Ivan, but doesn't sound like one. Must be second or third generation. He's 30-ish, fit and nicely tanned, and a very friendly bloke. I'd say he probably enjoys a few fringe benefits from some of his customers. He'll be here Monday or Tuesday, and will even pressure spray the side wall (vinyl cladding) which cops a lot of crap from truck exhausts.

And now to unravel the riddle of the 1960 red convertible, here's FL Josh: The mystery car is a 1960 Edsel Ranger, one of only 76 ever made.  Gary hit the nail right on the head.  The picture with name is attached.

To keep costs as low as possible, as well as to drop the signature "horsecollar" look, the 1960 Edsel shared the same mechanics and body style as the 1960 Ford Fairlane series.  Production of the 1960 Edsel began on September 14, 1959 with introduction of the 1960 line to the public on October 15, 1959, with only the Ranger line and the Villager station wagon being offered. The last official day of Edsel assembly was November 19, 1959, making the 1960 production run only two months. Total Production for all 1960 was 2571 Ranger models and 275 Villager wagons.

1960 was the first year Edsel offered a convertible and only 76 Ranger convertibles were made, making it the second rarest Edsel, second only to the 59 Villager 4-door, 9-passenger station wagons made in 1960. Original prices ranged from $2,643 to $3,000. Here is an article called What ever happened to the Edsel

Here is a cute video on parking a micro car, and it advertises the micro car auction Art mentioned. Jeremy Clarkson, who is 6'5" (196 cm), works for the British car show, Top Gear, test drives a 1963 P50 Microcar Jeremy was so impressed with the P50, he designed and built his own version of it, which he called the P45, because it is smaller than the P50.

I found the awning saver you bought also listed on ebay of Australia, by the same seller in Mr. Airy, North Carolina that you got yours from.  Andy Griffith was from Mt. Airy and the fictional town of Mayberry in the Andy Griffith Show and its sequel, Mayberry, R.F.D., is based on Mt. Airy. Camco, the company that makes the awning saver is located in Greensboro, North Carolina, just 60 miles southeast of Mt. Airy

So what you're basically saying, Josh, is that NC Art sounds like Andy Griffith. That's cool. I was a fan of The Andy Griffith Show, and thought he was a most genial chap.

I also like TX Greg's idea of rounding off the corner of the screen door.  That might be all it takes for both doors, unless you have a seam that could still get snagged.  It there is no seam, just smooth fabric, the rounding of the corners should be sufficient.

Speaking of Mayberry-sounding Art: Plant a story in some science journal about discovering that cane toad brain is a powerful aphrodisiac. Within six months Chinese poachers will clean the continent of the last pest.

On the other hand, Steve W responded with: "Maybe we should spread the rumor that cane toads are a powerful aphrodisiac" mean they aren't.......what have I been smoking them for?

I thought you were being environmentally sensitive.

From the Beeb: Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan have attacked the US consulate in the western city of Herat. The Taliban told the BBC a suicide bomber had detonated explosives outside the building before dawn on Friday. Other fighters then opened fire on the consulate. Several Afghan police are reported to have been killed and injured in the gun battle.

Provocative artworks by a Syrian political cartoonist have gone on display in London. Without Words, an exhibition organised by the Mosaic charity, features the work of Ali Ferzat. He is living in exile, after being tortured by the Syrian regime, but continues to challenge it through his work

Ray Dolby, the US engineer who founded Dolby Laboratories and pioneered noise reduction in audio recordings, has died in San Francisco aged 80. Mr Dolby had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for several years and was diagnosed with leukaemia this summer. Now you know where Dolby got its name.

Some of the striking landscapes of Ecuador's Galapagos islands can now be explored online on Google Street View. The launch marks the 178th anniversary of the British scientist Charles Darwin's visit, which inspired his theory of natural selection

Almost forgot to get something for tonight's supper so I whizzed up the road - 500g ground beef/pork, bolognaise sauce mix, can diced tomatoes with basil and oregano, large mushroom, onion. Add 2 bayleaves and Bob's yer uncle. Other than that, I've been running around the house cleaning a few things hehe. Can't have Ivan doing it all. Besides, there are SOME things that have gotten a bit grotty with ongoing postponement. In fact, some things were so tacky I threw them out... and there's more to come.

No call from Andrew yet but I'm expecting him to show tomorrow, in which case it'll be an interesting day! Meanwhile, it's time to call it a wrap and zap! Gary

September 12, 2013. Steve W wrote: As a regular reader (and also your go-to authority on matters piscatorial) of your Waffle, your comment and link re the African Elephant slaughter was both graphic and appalling. Keep in mind that it is not just the African Elephants that are suffering but also the Asian Elephants. In Asia, in particular Thailand, the plight of the elephants is different, but no less stressful and unfortunately the result, much the same - they are used and abused. Can I point your readers to and there are some links as to how we can all help - every bit counts, even if it is simply awareness.

Thanks for the link, Steve. Given the demand for ivory, it's a pity cane toads are not a good source. Forget eradication programs that don't work. Find a popular use for cane toads and they'd be gone in a flash. Maybe we should spread the rumor that cane toads are a powerful aphrodisiac. It works with tigers. Yeah? Not so silly methinks.

TX Greg wrote: The awning rollers here come with a screen door protector also. They just use what looks like a thick round plastic flat washer and you screw that to the top corner so the rounded part sticks up above the sharp edges of the screen door. Or if you're really good with a metal file, most of those screens doors could be hand shaped and rounded fairly easy.

I was thinking maybe a tennis ball or something. Anyway, I did a search for awning rollers and could only find them in the US - North Caramelina. Cost $10 for postage (over $40 priority). Sooooo, it's on its way.

Speaking of North Caramelina, Art took a stab at identifying the car posted by FL Josh yesterday: Cannot identify that mystery car you posted. First yelled BUICK, but then the twin tail lights baffled me. The stupid thing looks like it has jet propulsion tubes to boost acceleration maybe?

So did Oregon Richie: I'm not sure about the 1960 ragtop bright red rookie Yank Tank either.  First guess is.... not the model, but... BUICK.  The rear styling except the lamps reminded me of a Buick "Invicta" that my parents owned when I was very young and when we moved to Eugene about 1961.

Art continues the auto theme: While cooling my heels on Monday while waiting for inspection on my 23 year old Buick, a magazine story entertained me. Seems a museum of classic minicars has sold out its stock. One number which sold for $120,000.00 was a three wheeler, 4.5 feet long, It sports a 2.4 hp one cylinder engine, manual shift and has no reverse gear. However it does have a handle on the rear end to facilitate lifting the end with the solo wheel to walk it around and head the other way. How thoughtful.

Mine was a pedal car (as a kid) and if I wanted to reverse, I had to remove my feet from the pedals and place them on the ground (no floorpan) and walk backwards. I was very much into the art of reverse parking back then, and lining it up perfectly parallel with the border of the garden.

On the GN techies forum I asked how long it takes to cool a gas absorption fridge from ambient temp. Sheesh. Can take several hours but loading it with cold stuff at the start helps. Before leaving on my mini Odysseys, I'll use house power overnight to get it started. Once permanently on the road, I'll be sure not to leave it off for any longer than necessary. They say a couple of hours while shopping or sightseeing is okay.

Back from a splurge at the op shop (Sallies). 1 ice bucket, rich red leather-look plastic, $4. 1 Vittoria coffee plunger, $3 (looks new). The ice bucket is ideal for use as a kitchen utensils holder in PJ.

From the Beeb: Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a direct personal appeal to the American people over the Syrian crisis. In an opinion article in the New York Times, he warns that a US military strike against Syria could unleash a new wave of terrorism. He says millions of people see the US not as a model of democracy but as relying on brute force. He has a point. It's not what America is, it's what people think it is.

The US has remembered the victims of the 9/11 attacks in a series of memorials marking the 12th anniversary. The 11 September 2001 attacks killed almost 3,000 people in New York, the Washington DC area and Pennsylvania. In New York, families of the victims read the names of each person who died at the World Trade Center. "It was just a plane flying into a hotel," said Sue that morning in Petersham, thinking it was a movie.

In Britain, butlers may seem like a relic of another era, but in some other countries, particularly emerging economies, they are in huge demand - and their employers can often afford to pay handsomely for the privilege.

Lindsay exploded again, this time about the cost of a cleaner. We have a house inspection next week and the joint needs a bit of a spruce up. I suggested it'll cost about $200. 
"$200?" he scoffed. "More like $600! The mechanic down the road charges $80 an hour!"
"Yeah, but the engineer who worked on PJ cost $50 an hour."
"That's an engineer! I'm talking about cleaners!"

Do you believe that last line? Engineers charge less than cleaners? Anyway, the cleaner is due here shortly to quote on the job, so we'll know then won't we.

Once again, the day has flown and I'm not sure I've been very productive... apart from a few bargains at the Op Shop. So before the cleaner arrives, I'll post this off!  UPDATE: $150! Split 3 ways, $50 each. Gary

September 11, 2013. $23.60 in last night's Lotto and about $12 a week or so ago. No biggies, though. Oh well...

Nancy was busy with the bone nibbler this morning as well as giving me an irrigation. She says she can see evidence of vascularization in the exposed bone - in fact during the nibbling she produced blood, so that's a good sign. Despite being a slow process, it appears that it's a matter of when rather than if. 

FL Josh wrote: Interesting BBC article about the chemical found in skin and how when a hand with the chemical was placed in a mosquito-filled enclosure, it was completely ignored by the mosquitoes.  This finding was really driven home by inclusion of a picture with the caption, "A hand in a mosquito cage was not attractive when covered with the chemical" and showing two side by side hands, about ten mosquitoes and only five are on the hands.

So was that with or without the chemical? One would suspect without.

Here is a 1960 American car that I have removed the name from and let's see if any of your readers can identify it.  As much as I was into cars back then, I would not have known it.

Ford was busy trying to modify the Edsel back then so I'll go for Edsel.

NC Art commented on my seeds idea for the hammock: Forget the seeds and watering can. Take a Boy Scout to hold one end of the hammock while you admire the view.


As for the science of testicular size, we could waste time on more useful studies. Personally, I was endowed [cursed?] with outsized marbles and still caught nappy duty with regularity. The bath business was fun, since my son liked water sports at 3 and 4 years of age, and his mother spoke right sharply when viewing part of the house swamped by monsoons.

Some comments about the Asian piano prodigy were plain snarky and uncalled for. Hell, I studied piano for a year and still can’t play chopsticks. He he.

I hadn't noticed the comments. I guess some people have nothing better to do than vent their racist and nasty spleens anonymously. How pathetic.

An Irish Tale from Art:

An attractive blonde from Cork, Ireland, arrived at the casino. She seemed a little intoxicated and bet twenty thousand dollars in a single roll of the dice. She said, "I hope you don't mind, but I feel  much luckier when I'm completely nude." With that, she stripped from the neck down, rolled the dice and with an Irish brogue yelled, "Come on, baby, Mama needs new clothes!"

As the dice came to a stop, she jumped up and down and squealed... "Yes! Yes!!  I won, I won!" She hugged each of the dealers, picked up her winnings and her clothes and quickly parted. The dealers stared at each other dumbfounded. Finally, one of them asked, "What did she roll?"

The other answered, "I don't know - I thought you were watching."

I had a look at the rear awning today and managed to open the top of the holder, but couldn't find a way to lift the awning out of the cradle. I have diagrams (and there's a printed one on the inside of the holder lid) but I'm buggered if I can work it out. It seems stuck in there to me. According to the diagram, there's a length of tape (like those you get in small battery compartments that lift the batteries when pulled) but it's not there. Maybe the last user didn't leave it exposed. I'll ask Andrew if he knows about those things when he arrives. The larger awning at the side of PJ has a winder. Both could be a tad difficult for one person to set up.

Blast from the past.

WAIT! Here's the one I'm looking for! Yes, there is a leader tape, and once the awning is out of the cradle, the rest is easy. So I'll try again, and next time I'll see if I can find a way to lift the awning before removing it, which ain't easy on a bloody ladder. As to fitting a wheel to the top corner of the door to stop it tearing the fabric, it's a 2-part door, with the screen door inside (as you can see in the pic). A wheel can't be fitted to the screen section without interfering with the main door, Maybe Peter can figure out something that slips over the top corner of the screen door when the awning is in use and removed again afterwards. Like an orange on a skewer.

From the Beeb: President Obama says he will pursue diplomatic efforts to remove Syria's chemical weapons but has ordered the US military to "be in a position to respond" if such measures fail. In a televised address, he said he had asked Congress to postpone a vote authorising the use of force. So much for preventing more atrocities, but who pays for those already committed?

Researchers have found evidence to suggest that climate change, rather than humans, was the main factor that drove the woolly mammoth to extinction. A DNA analysis shows that the number of creatures began to decrease much earlier than previously thought as the world's climate changed. It also shows that there was a distinct population of mammoth in Europe that died out around 30,000 years ago.

Looks like climate change won't be to blame for the extinction of elephants. I watched a program last night about the illegal ivory trade in parts of Africa where elephants are being slaughtered at an alarming rate for their tusks. It's an absolute disgrace. People who buy goods made of "new" ivory should be made to feel utterly ashamed of themselves, and dealers should be jailed.

Wildfires are burning across the state of New South Wales, Australia, posing a threat to houses near Sydney. Up to 40 fires are burning out of control and are far from being contained. High temperatures and strong winds fanning the flames have hampered fire crews' efforts to control them. I turned on the telly last night after updating AO expecting normal programming. Instead, it was live wall-to-wall reports of bushfires around Sydney's outskirts.

An Italian priest has given Pope Francis a 20-year-old white Renault 4 to drive himself around Vatican city. The car - which has 300,000 km (190,000 miles) on the clock - was presented to the Pope by Father Renzo Zocca at the weekend. The pontiff later drove it. Don't knock 20 y/o cars!

Here's a post on the GN forum by John, a bloke on a pension who's done up an old Toyota Coaster bus and is enjoying life on the road.

Here's an update he posted yesterday. Nice pics of waterfalls.

I like this one... it's about stress management.

DATELINE: NEW YORK - A public school teacher was arrested today at John F.Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in  possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule and a calculator. At  a morning press conference, Attorney General John Ashcroft said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of maths instruction. "Al-gebra is a problem for us," Ashcroft said. "They desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to every triangle'.

And here I is again, at the end of another Waffle. Catch you tomorrow! Gary

September 10, 2013. FL Josh wrote: Are there any comments on the GN forum about using hammocks that don't have a metal frame?  When I used to do the camping thing about 40 years ago, those who took hammocks that attach to trees never were able to use them because it was too hard to find two trees big enough to support the hammock that were the right distance apart and had the ground cleared between them. Be cautious with your purchases as you may be trying to buy happiness rather than things you need.

I'll be taking a packet of seeds on the trip, Josh. And a watering can, of course. However, I did think about a metal frame for the hammock but decided it would be too bulky to carry. In any case, I have lots of spare ropes if trees are too far apart, and I can always tie one end to PJ (and the other to a friendly neighbor's rig, for that matter). The hammock, like the spare tent, is one of those things that's easy to carry and handy to have if the need or impulse arises. I can use my lounger otherwise. Being an old boy scout you would appreciate the motto 'be prepared'.

Josh also sent this link to a 4 y/o boy playing piano "better than any master". When I see such incredible ability, I figure if it's possible for one human brain to be so wired then others must also have the potential, if not yet realized. Human evolution is probably still in its infancy, with occasional flashes of genius like that little boy's. Note how easily the boy plays. His brain is not even raising a sweat.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama has said he will put plans for a US military strike against Syria on hold if the country agrees to place its chemical weapons stockpile under international control. But he said he was sceptical the Syrian government would follow through. As the US Congress debates authorising an attack, Russia on Monday proposed Syria relinquish its chemical weapons. At least Obama has everyone talking and seeking a solution.

A link between the size of a father's testicles and how active he is in bringing up his children has been suggested by scientists. Researchers at Emory University, US, said those with smaller testicles were more likely to be involved with nappy changing, feeding and bath time

Almost a quarter of men surveyed in a UN report looking at violence against women in parts of Asia have admitted to committing at least one rape. Rape was particularly common within relationships. However, one in 10 men admitted raping a woman who was not their partner

A naturally occurring substance found in human skin could yield a viable alternative to existing mosquito repellent, scientists say. They say the chemical could help render people "invisible" to the insects. At the American Chemical Society meeting, they revealed a group of compounds that could block mosquitoes' ability to smell potential targets. When a hand with these chemicals was placed in a mosquito filled enclosure, it was completely ignored

That could be related to a thread on the GN forum the other day about mozzies. One woman said she was rarely bothered by them while her daughter was not only allergic to their bite but also seemed to attract them.

Roite, well it's late afternoon and cooler so I did the soapy water trick with the gas bottle and fittings (as per TX Greg's instructions) and not a bubble in sight. So all seems well in that department. I noticed a little 12 ft caravan from the 50s or 60s parked across the road, and towed by a small car. Cute little van, with a big picture window across the back. Not too aerodynamic in front though. Anyway, not everybody drives a big flash motorhome or tows a 30' van I see, which makes me feel better. Hehe. Actually, some of the backpacker jalopies I see around the place look like they're just about ready for retirement. They were the type of RV I was looking at some years ago but changed my mind and went for a slide-on. I'm glad I did.

Here's a little trick I just read about on the GN forum. A bloke with a big 4WD drives up to a bowser and fills up, then waits for a smaller car to fill up, goes to the checkout, nominates the little car's bowser, pays for that, drives off and leaves the owner of the little car with his bill. It's happened to a few GNs. Gotta keep an eye on the bowser amount!

Feral pig pinches multiple six-packs of beer and runs riot at Pilbara camp sites...

And a comment from a GN: Reared pigs on a small holding many years ago and we used to give the pigs the slops (dregs of beer out of the pumps and ends of barrels) every night. I'll tell you now, the pork was the sweetest tasting meat I have ever eaten and there is a dish called "Beer Belly of Pork" and it is made from (obviously pigs belly's) pigs that have been soused with beer.  Try it, unbelievable  MMMmmm 

The reason the publican encourages is it............. it'll be dinner one day!! Pork soaked in sweet cider is good too. Perhaps this should be in what's cooking, sorry to digress. 

Hmmm, another shortie. Must be the hot weather or maybe I'm brain dead. Anyway, it's time to call it a day and attend to other matters, such as telly and dinner. I dunno why that is exactly. I'm sure it won't be like that on the Odyssey when there's still an hour or more of daylight and the sunset to watch (and photograph), or neighbors to chat to, or a walk along the beach to be had. Oh well... I'll find out soon enough on my first mini Odyssey. Gary

September 9, 2013. Back from Nancy and another irrigation. She's seeing my gum and bone situation from a different point of view now that she's aware of what the Sydney specialist has in mind, and is quite pleased with the progress. She now has a game plan - one socket at a time chipping away at dead bone and encouraging gum growth. I'm due back on Wednesday (unless I have a "hot date" hehe).

FL Josh wrote to suggest some things to try while my Nikon battery is being charged... stuff to fill in a bit of time and keep me fit.

Meanwhile, TX Greg has relegated me to the back of the classroom and given me a pointy hat to wear. Did you do my instructions wrong or write them wrong on the waffle as you said, "sprayed connections, pipes and joins with soapy water, turned on the gas and waited." I told you to "Turn the bottle open and do the soap bubbles test." The gas bottle should have been turned on first to pressurize the lines, then spray the soap. If you sprayed all those fittings first there may not have been enough liquid still on the lines or fittings to make bubbles.

"I didn't leave the knob pulled out long enough and the flame went out when I let go, but that's okay. At least I know it works." NO you don't know it works, because the flame didn't stay on. The thermocouple could be bad or need tightening. (The thermocouple is that little copper tube that comes out of the burner box to the gas safety valve with the red plunger.  Say a gust of wind blows out the flame the thermocouple will shut off the gas flow in about one minute.) And there is no way to tell if the burner is burning correctly by looking thru the site glass. You have to look directly at it from the back Which could be another reason the flame didn't stay on.

I'm really confused as to why you haven't given the fridge a real proper test run on electric or now the gas, so no you really don't know that she's road ready. Reminds me of some of our customers that would head out for a weekend, throw a ton of food in the fridge and THEN turn it on. Yeah, it doesn't work like that.


Well, I meant the gas works, not the fridge. I'll test the fridge with mains power and gas before I go camping. And I'll repeat the leaks test by turning the gas on first. Okay? Now how much longer do I have to wear this pointy hat?

Well there's always Plan B for a cold beer, a styrofoam cooler and a bag of ice, hehe

I have two coolers, a biggie and a littlie. Handy for when I defrost the fridge and for keeping things cool out under the awning. Another thing I must add to my list is a hammock. Not much good out on the Nullarbor (place with no trees) but pretty handy elsewhere. Roite. Done. $25 with spreader bars, striped cotton from China. Delivery in about 2 weeks, free.

From the Beeb: "It's Tony Time" read the banner at the coalition victory party last night, as two glitzy-looking women encouraged the crowd to "gimme a T, gimme an O, gimme an N, gimme a Y" and then begged the question: "What have you got?" The answer is Tony Abbott and with it a significant shift to the right, bringing an end to six years of an often dysfunctional Labor government. "I am so pleased to see the Labor Party go down the gurgler," one woman told me, adding to my ever-expanding range of Aussie lingo. "This is like the joy of a baby being born in the household," said a Sikh man, sporting a splendid blue turban.

The other night on telly, before the election, Abbott was still on the campaign trail in a shopping center when an old bloke of European origin (probably Eastern) grabbed the sides of Abbott's head, pulled him forwards and planted a big wet one on his forehead hehe. It broke Abbott up as well as everyone else. What can you say after something like that? But it's interesting that there are so many nationalities here these days expressing themselves far differently to the old laconic style of traditional Aussies. I think the second and third generations settle down a bit, though. She'll be roite, mate, no wukkers.

Two Irishmen were waiting at the bus stop when a truck went past loaded up with rolls of turf. Jimmy said, "I'm gonna do dat when I win da lottery." "What's dat den?" asks Mikey. "Send me lawn away to be mowed."

Just taking a peek at suggestions on the GN forum for camping spots around this area, and found a few near Gloucester which is about an hour inland. I was out there in old TT some years ago (Barrington Tops) and have also seen the scenery from the train on trips to/from Sydney. It's stunning countryside, so that might be a nice way to spend a few days. There's also a zillion coastal camp sites around here - beaches galore. Funny innit, I've lived here for 12 years and only been to the beach a few times. The problem is my skin - I burn easily - and it's a hassle bringing all the stuff I need. But with PJ it'll be different. I'll have my pop up beach shade, cold drinks, hat, sunscreen, yadda, yadda. And "home" will be a stone's throw away, with a nice big shady awning. Moreover, I can spend time at the beach early in the morning and/or late in the afternoon when the sun is less intense, and ideal for walks (and photography).

Anyway, a few mini Odysseys are not far off - PJ is just about ready to rock and roll so it'll soon be just a matter of heading out the drive. Meanwhile, it's been a hottie today so I haven't ventured outside much except for a bit of shopping. I'll check the gas tomorrow. Hehe. Lazy me. Gary

September 8, 2013. Well, election day 2013 is over with results at this point Labor 51 (expected 57), Liberal/National coalition 82 (expected 89), Greens 1 and the rest shared by independents. Clive Titanic Palmer looks like winning his seat. Labor's defeat was conclusive but not as crushing as some polls predicted. PM Rudd won his seat but has resigned as Labor leader.

What surprises me is that despite Labor's leadership battles and general lack of cohesion over the last 6 years, the Libs/Nats win wasn't even more convincing. I guess that says something for Labor's potential to bounce back. If they can settle on a decent leader and stick with him/her for the duration, they'll be in with a chance next time.

Compared to the Democrats and Republicans in the US, Labor is left of center and the Liberal/National coalition is right of center. But both parties are essentially conservative. Back in the mid 20th century, it was the Libs that gave us the White Australia Policy and Labor that gave us pensions and free medical, which gives you an idea of their backgrounds and ideologies. These days, however, both parties support cultural diversity and social welfare.

FL Josh wrote: Your butterfly picture is stunning.  I love pictures with extremely sharp focus and this one is that, not an easy task with a close up.  You'll get lots of comments on Red Bubble on it.

Not an easy task hand-held in low light conditions either, Josh. But a bloke can get lucky sometimes. Photoscape allows me to sharpen an image but it's gotta be well focused to begin with. Mieke made a comment, which is cool. I don't get many from her. Anyway, one of the great things about photography is you never know what's gonna flutter into your life and present an opportunity. And I must say the more I use the Nikon the more I like it. Mind you, I love the little Fuji compact as well, which is the camera I use for quick shots like those I take of gas fittings and bits and pieces of PJ, and self-portraits hehe.

TX Greg wrote: I'm not too impressed with this gas switch. You said it was a Campmaster, but their web site does not list it or give ANY product support, that's a bad sign. I found this listing, but strange they don't say it's a Campmaster product... Nor do they show any product support. What could be happening is when you turn the bottle on a sudden normal burst of vapor could be causing the switch to shut off. Since I can't find a owner's manual to see what it says on that and also how it resets, I would say let's take it out and just hook the regulator to the tank.

It may be a generic model also branded by Campmaster. Mine came in a Campmaster bubble pack, model CM4790, same as the one in your link. It was on spesh and a lot different to the other Campmaster model so it's probably superseded. Anyway, I'll remove the gas switch and do a soapy water test. If there is a leak, at least I'll know where it is. Resetting the gas switch requires removal, reconnecting, and going through the leak test all over again. And to answer your question about a pilot light for the stove, no there isn't one.

ANYWAY, I dragged my feet down to PJ in the heat and humidity thinking this whole fridge business was gonna be a nightmare and... it wasn't. I followed Greg's suggestions, removed the gas switch, hooked up the regulator directly to the bottle, turned off all appliances, sprayed connections, pipes and joins with soapy water, turned on the gas and waited. No bubbles. At least none that I could see. Soooooo, I tested the stove. No wukkers. Each burner lit like a charm. Then I tested the fridge. No wukkers. Lit second go (from inside PJ) and it was easy to see the pilot flame in the reflector. I didn't leave the knob pulled out long enough and the flame went out when I let go, but that's okay. At least I know it works. Then I turned the fridge and bottle off. I also discovered an easy way to move the bottle around when connecting/disconnecting. It sits on an old carpet square so I just pulled the carpet toward me and the bottle came with it. Easy! Then I just pushed it back. Now that I know everything is fine and dandy, I may reconnect the gas switch and just use it as a gauge. But if it gives more trouble I'll dump it.

So that's a relief! Cooking and refrigeration departments now on line.

From the Beeb: Australia's PM-elect Tony Abbott has said his top priorities are to abolish a tax on carbon emissions and to stop asylum-seekers arriving by boat. Mr Abbott's Liberal-National coalition ended the Labor party's six-year rule in a landslide victory on Saturday. Ooer! Tony made the Beeb's lead story!

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the number of states ready to take military action against Syria's government is in the "double digits". Speaking in Paris, he said the world could not be "silent spectators to slaughter" after Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons against its civilians. I agree. It's bud nipping time.

Tokyo has been chosen to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games ahead of Istanbul and Madrid. The Japanese capital won a final round of voting by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members in Buenos Aires to beat Istanbul by 60 votes to 36. Jeez, they're talking about 2020 already! Seems like it was Sydney's turn yesterday - so fresh in my memory.

Human happiness may rely on our ability to conquer a natural fear of upsetting the status quo, says AL Kennedy. Imagine three identical boxes. Two are empty and one contains your heart's desire, perhaps love, perhaps a nice cup of tea. A kind, if slightly perverse, person says you can pick one box and own its contents. Let's say you select Box A. The person then shows you Box B is empty. So either Box A - your choice, or Box C - a mystery, contains your happiness. Now, you can change your choice to Box C, or stick with Box A. But what gives you the better chance? Should you change or not?

Ah, yes, change. That's what frightens me about the Odyssey, but also what excites me. Isn't it weird that millions of people spend two weeks a year doing what I'll be doing, and then rush back to what is familiar and routine? Hehe. Toe dipping. I realize most of them have a job, school and/or other responsibility but even so I'd love a dollar for every time I've heard someone say "Oh, it's great to be home" after spending time away. There's also that sense of "belonging" many of us have about a particular spot on the map. So becoming a gypsy is gonna be weird to say the least. Perhaps PJ will become my security, my sense of "place", and of course my web site. I'm pretty sure I couldn't handle a never ending series of hotels and motels.

Remember that young bloke I mentioned who's flying solo around the world? Here's a paste from a GN on the forum: Well he's back home now, Ryan from Wollongong flying his plane solo around the world at 19!!  Amazing stuff...

A  little old man totters into a chemist to buy some Viagra. "Can I have 6  tablets please and I want each of them cut into quarters."

The  chemist says "I can do that sir, but a quarter will not give you a  full erection."

"I am 96 and don't have much use for an erection. I just want it sticking out a bit so I don't piss on my slippers."

Well, Lindsay asked me yesterday if I'd cook steak and onions for them tonight. Silly me said yes. Sooooo, I'm outta here. Be noice. Gary

September 7, 2013. OR Richie sent a link to an article about the recent death of Rochus Misch at 96, Hitler's bodyguard. He spoke of his 5 years with Adolf and of "a different reality". How interesting. Reality is different things to different people. Strictly speaking, there can only be one reality, but not when "reality" is a matter of perception. I often hear politicans begin a statement with "the reality is...". Hehe. Yeah, right.

A Baptist minister I knew was concerned about my attitude towards Daniel's Diary, which was the subject of my writings some years ago. "You talk about him as if he were real!" he said. And I thought, "You should talk. That's the way you talk about God." When I wrote about Daniel visiting Cape Town on a swim tour and meeting Cody, Cody wrote me and said something like, "He seems so real, like I'll come home from school and he'll be there." Another time, Cody was so desperate for advice from a peer, he wrote Daniel asking for help knowing full well that Daniel and I were the same person.

So now I'm wondering what my perception of reality will be after having been on the road for some time. I suspect it will change - or become clearer, or whatever - but I won't really know until I'm there.

NC Art's reality is "the indispensable noine": Try getting rid of the 9 and discover you can’t do it. Any multiple of 9 will result in more nines when the digits are added. Try it for more fun.

When Sue's brain was less scrambled than it is now, towards the end of 1998, I said to her, "Soon, it'll be noineteen nointy noine." Being a Pom with an accent she refused to modify, she said, "Don't speak like that! It sounds horrible."

Not very useful but amusing nonetheless. Such as those activities you recall as a lad in simpler times. There simply were fewer distractions … or attractions, so we spent long, happy hours fiddling about with nothing. Well, pubescent boys always found something to play with right, uh at hand so to speak.

They did? I don't remember that! But, yes, less distractions or attractions. Back in those days, FL Josh was a math teacher: As for the math trick, I love math and used to teach it in high school and college.  There are a ton of math tricks out there, but each only works in a specific situation. One trick I have always liked is a shortcut to square a number (multiply it by itself) when it ends in five.  To get the answer, drop the five and multiple what's left by the next higher number, then tack 25 onto the end of it.  For example, to square 75, drop the five leaving the 7.  Multiply 7 by the next higher number, 8, and you get 56.  Tack 25 onto the end of that, and to get 5625.  So 75 times 75 is 5,625.  95 times 95 is 9 x 10, 90 and adding the 25 to the end gives 9,025.  105 times 105 is 11,025 (10 x 11 = 110).  9,995 x 9,995 is 99,900,025 (999 x 1,000 is 999,000).

Josh is very popular at parties ya know. He knows a thing or two about cormorants as well: On cormorants, you may know this but the Chinese use them for fishing.  Fishermen will go out on their little boats, not much more than a canoe, and have a cormorant with them. They put a ring around its neck where it joins the body, and toss them into the water on a tether.  The cormorant dives and swallows up fish. Yes, I've seen that on the telly. Very clever and the cormorants don't seem to mind at all.

Lindsay voted early this morning along with a million other people who had to get to work or just wanted to get their vote out of the way. He came back here and complained about the long queues. Hehe. An hour later the crowds had gone - which sounds like a good time for me to do my civic duty.

Done! All over in a few minutes - after running the gauntlet of party tragics outside thrusting how to vote pamphlets under any nose that comes within reach. Voting ends at 6pm and counting begins. I reckon by 9-ish the result will be pretty obvious, if the swing away from Labor is as big as the polls predict. It's been a pretty topsy turvy six years with Rudd for 3 years, ousted by Julia Gillard for 3 years, who in turn was ousted by Rudd just a few months ago in the hope that Rudd would rescue the party from certain defeat. Sorry chaps, the deck chairs trick didn't work. So, Tony Abbot is all but a certainty at this point to be our next PM. We'll know for sure later tonight.

Despite Labor's lack of popularity, Oz has enjoyed 20 consecutive years of continuous growth - no recessions and no 2008 problems. Even after Labor's spending spree over the past 6 years, national debt is very low compared to other advanced economies, interest rates are at an historic low and unemployment is at a respectable 5-ish per cent. Our dollar at the mo is about 92 cents US which is still much higher than our manufacturers, tourism operators and exporters would like. Earlier in the year it was up around $1.05 US.

Isn't it wonderful to have a mate like TX Greg who knows all about old gas fridges? I poked around in the back of the fridge again and found the little burner flap he mentioned but it was pretty stiff. After encouraging it a little with a screwdriver, I managed to loosen and open it so that the burner was in view. Looked pretty clean to me. I hit the flue with my knuckles a few times to loosen any rust particles, and then cleaned the burner with pressurized air. 

THEN I figured I'd test the fridge, so I opened the gas bottle valve and the gas switch gauge didn't move from empty. Huh? Buggerized around a bit, turning things off and on, and finally the gauge measured a little less then half full. Huh? Checked the valves on the copper tubing - parallel to the pipes means on, right? Turned the bottle on again and tested the stove. Nuthin'. Put my ear to the stove burner to see if I could hear gas. Nuthin'. Went back to the bottle and by then the gauge was showing empty again. Am I doing something wrong here? The gas bottle has been turned off for a week so it shouldn't have leaked. I know I'm not an expert with these things, but I would have thought that you simply turned on the gas bottle valve, and went about the business of lighting stoves and fridges without any complications. Maybe that dopey gas switch ought to get the heave ho for playing silly buggers. I can't use the stick-on gauge to check the bottle's contents cos it only works if an appliance has been used for 10 minutes... and I can't even get to first base.

Roite. I've had my little grandpa snooze and calmed down. So I went through the process again. The gas switch gauge was more generous this time and registered more than half way into the green full area. So I waited a minute and the needle didn't move, signifying no leaks. So I turned the gas bottle back on and went to the gas stove. Flame! But only for a brief second. Maybe it takes time for the gas to fill the pipes, I thought, so I waited a while before trying to light the stove again. Zilch. Back to the gas bottle where the gauge had gone back to empty. Seems like there's only one explanation. There's a leak and the gas switch has switched off the supply. Sooooo, tomorrow when it's cooler (it's a hottie today) I'll do the soapy water trick and see if I can spot the leak (presuming there is one). If the bottle is at fault, I can exchange it. One thing I noticed was that the top half of the bottle is warm to the touch and the bottom half is cool.

Oh, the bother and frustration of it all! At least I learned something about the burner.

From the Beeb: Australians are voting in a general election, with opposition leader Tony Abbott's Liberal-National coalition aiming to bring to an end six years of Labor government. Opinion polls suggest Kevin Rudd, who returned as prime minister three months ago, is trailing his opponent.

Speeches by key leaders at the end of the G20 summit in St Petersburg have laid bare the bitter divisions over possible military action in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin restated his opposition to any strike, saying it would destabilise the region. US President Barack Obama said action was necessary in reaction to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Well, we certainly don't wanna destabilize the Middle East do we? Certainly not while it's enjoying such peaceful tranquility.

The US space agency (Nasa) has launched its latest mission to the Moon. The unmanned LADEE probe lifted off from the Wallops rocket facility on the US east coast on schedule at 23:27 local time (03:27 GMT on Saturday). Its $280m (£180m) mission is to investigate the very tenuous atmosphere that surrounds the lunar body. It will also try to get some insights on the strange behaviour of moondust, which appears on occasions to levitate high above the surface. Now that's something I would love to do - levitate.

I saw a couple of big Winnebago motorhomes drive past today - huge mothers undoubtedly worth major bucks - probably somewhere between 10 and 20 PJs. I'm wondering what it'll be like to camp someplace with a couple of those things for neighbors - caviar and champagne? Actually, it was nice to read an update by John, one of the GNs, who's renovated an old Toyota Coaster bus on a pension, bit by bit, same as I have, over a fairly long period. He camped at a spot recently among a bunch of other campers who included backpackers from Germany, Asia and an assortment of Aussies. Some had tents, others had campers. They all had a wonderful time sharing stories and going for group walks. At meal time they all contributed a dish. John's was jaffles hehe - he's no a la carte chef, our John. Then it began to rain so John set up the big awning on the bus and everybody took cover under that while they ate. And a jolly good time was had by all.

Good thing I forgot to close PJ's hatch earlier cos I just remembered and went outside to the veranda where I spotted a butterfly hovering around. Will I or won't I get the camera? Sure as eggs, if I do the damn thing will fly away. But no! Well, yes, but it came back determined to find a spot on my plastic ferns hanging from baskets. Perhaps it's laying eggs, I thought. They do that ya know and once they settle almost nothing will budge them. So I stood on a chair and snapped a couple of shots. Then I took the camera back inside. When I re-emerged, the thing had settled on another plant lower down, so I got the camera again and snapped away a few more shots without having to stand on a chair. I was also able to get a bit closer this time.

Yep, even after processing that pic, the butterfly is still there, obviously depositing a clutch of grubs on my plastic plant. I cropped the image and improved brightness and sharpness. And, yes, PJ's hatch is closed.

Sooooooo, that's about it for Waffle. In less than an hour, the experts and number crunchers will be analysing the votes as they are counted, making predictions and doing post mortems. I doubt whether there'll be any surprises, but the fate of some of the independents will be interesting. I suspect Rudd will resign as PM and perhaps even quit politics altogether. Ms Gillard certainly won't be seen on the world stage again, unless it's in a role outside of politics. The two main independents who supported the minority labor government have both quit politics. What a trail of destruction!

Anyway, life goes on and pretty soon today's events will be relegated to history. Except my butterfly. She's now immortal. Gary

September 6, 2013. Well, my cormorant mate is an Australasian Darter according to Trish on Red Bubble who photographed one a while back. Here's another of Trish's shots. She says their feathers are not waterproof, which is unusual for a sea bird, and they hang them out to dry. According to this Floridian article, my mate is an anhinga as opposed to a cormorant, and it's male.

NC Art wrote: OMG! When I saw that picture under a hat it was nearly sufficient to cause me to swear off the booze forever. Jeez, you could play the role of the Gollum, Frodo Baggins’ horrid little beastie in The Hobbit. Leprechauns who looked like that would cause a drunk Irisher to sober up quick. But fun.

I got the idea from TX Greg's mention of the hat, and also from rummaging through one of my drawers and finding an old shaving mirror, which I cleaned up for inclusion in PJ. Naturally, and typical of my penchant for being ridiculous, I pulled a few faces in the mirror and found them amusing. Hence the pic.

The worst decision Catholics ever made was to decree celibacy for priests. It was an open invitation for sex predators to the safety of the frock. Too bad scandal overshadows so much that is truly good.

Good and valid point, Art. Headlines are never about what happens 99% of the time but about the remaining 1%.

Incidentally, I was watching The Drum's report on an outburst by Clive Palmer (the Titanic II bloke running for parliament this Saturday) during which he accused Rupert Murdoch's Chinese ex-wife of being a spy. One of the panel referred to Palmer as being "unhinged" which worried me, so I did some research last night on the net and discovered that there are serious doubts about Palmer's credentials and his mental stability. For example, there's been a lot of press about Titanic II but, when an investigative journalist tried to find evidence of the thing being built, he came up with zilch. Palmer has captured the imagination of many voters in Oz because he's amusing and charismatic, but also, as many journalists are pointing out, a buffoon. Looks like my vote on Saturday will be for someone far more boring and conservative. But not Rudd. No, no, no, no, no, certainly not Rudd.

TX Greg wrote: That's really a cool pic. I was worried there for a second you were going to say "Wanna see a skinny old toothless bloke wearing NOTHING but a hat?" hehe

Worried is right. That would be a REAL worry!

Oregon Richie wrote: Well... your picture with the pixie grin and hat is sort of fun.  I would not worry about it.

That's all very well for you to say, Richie, it's not a pic of you! Hehe. 

Andrew phoned this morning to say an old ankle injury has flared again and he's almost unable to walk, so today's jobs on PJ will have to be postponed for a few days or a week. No biggie.

So, with a bit of time on my hands, I grabbed my dandelion (which has been sitting on my bookshelf waiting for a creative idea to dawn on me) and the shaving mirror, and experimented with a few shots. Then I used Photoscape to buggerize around with one of the shots and came up with this, which I just posted on Red Bubble. Make sure you click to enlarge. Woohoo! Got a comment already!

From the Beeb: G20 leaders were divided over Syria at the end of the first day of their Russian summit, as the US envoy to the UN showed her frustration at Moscow. Italian PM Enrico Letta said the splits were confirmed at a working dinner. At the UN, US ambassador Samantha Power accused Russia of holding the Security Council hostage by repeatedly blocking resolutions.

US and UK intelligence have reportedly cracked technology used to encrypt internet services such as online banking, medical records and email. Disclosures by leaker Edward Snowden allege the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK's GCHQ are hacking key online security protocols. The encryption techniques targeted are used by popular internet services such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo. Government agencies would never do naughty things like that. Would they?

The wife of the Florida neighbourhood watchman who was acquitted of killing an unarmed black teenager is divorcing him, her lawyer has said. The filing by Shellie Zimmerman, 26, comes a week after she admitted lying for her husband in a bail hearing. People are interesting, aren't they.

Australians go to the polls on Saturday to decide the outcome of the race between Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and opposition Liberal-National coalition leader Tony Abbott. Here are 10 highlights and lesser-known facts about the elections. Yes, folks, we are a weird mob.

A keyboard that is as slim as a piece of paper has been described as the world's thinnest by the product's designers who have been showing it off at the IFA 2013 tech fair in Berlin. The BBC's Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones tested the device, which is a mere 0.5mm thick, and spoke to CSR's Paul Williamson about other applications for the technology.

Why did I post that pic of a 1949 De Soto? I dunno... cos it looks nice. My dad had a 1954 model with a similar grill. But there's something about that era that appeals to me. Families listening to the radio, round-shouldered fridges, barefoot kids in the street playing cricket, picnics and rowing boats, ladies wearing hats, church on Sunday mornings, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Nat King Cole and ice cream cones. I wonder if life really was  simpler back then or if our memories play tricks.

Just reading the GN forum and one bloke during a camp was invited by fellow campers to go crabbing with them. Crabs for lunch! Not a bad way to spend the day. Free too! 

Here's an interesting link posted by a GN called Gypsy Wagons are Beautiful.

Another GN posted the pic below and called it Something We Never Learned (or were taught by our teachers at school). I remember having to learn our times tables by rote. When you look at this graph, it shows that all multiplications of 9 from 1 to 10 when added together equal 9. I never knew that!

And here's an idea for cooking scrambled egg with extras. Break eggs into jar, add extras, replace lid, shake, pour into frying pan. Great for filling a jaffle/toastie as well. This bloke recommends 50g eggs for breaking directly into a jaffle because they don't spill over.

Scram time again. One more sleep till voting day - the polling booth is the public hall just across the road. No wukkers. The results will be interesting so I'll watch the counting tomorrow night. Great way to spend a Satdee noite, roite? Didn't get around to fiddling with the fridge today so that's on the agenda for tomorrow - if I don't get sidetracked again hehe. Gary

September 5, 2013. Well, I learned another little trick with Photoscape this morning. Here's the original pic of my cormorant mate I took in Sydney, with the annoying reflections of light in the water. Below is the pic after using the clone stamp to lessen their intensity. I also sharpened the image to make the feather patterns more pronounced.

So after tarting up the pic, I posted it on Red Bubble. There were two other pics of the cormorant without water reflections but I preferred the one above because it has better detail. BTW, have you ever seen those things dive into the sea? Awesome! The other mornng, Nancy did an impression of one swimming underwater hehe. Not a good look.

TX Greg wrote in regard to my fiddling around with the fridge gas burner: HAHAHA... (Your hat really comes in handy for making pics, hehe.)

Awesome pics again :) Not only did I feel I was there, my feet were having sympathy pains from all the walking you did! I really think that would be a cool trademark of yours if in every album on just one pic you put your hat on something. Like on this one...

Yeah, not a bad idea... a trademark thingy with the hat. I didn't take the hat to Sydney so I must remember to do so every time I go on a shoot. Anyway, Greg, I'm glad you liked the pics. As I'm clicking away I often think of peeps in other countries who appreciate seeing all the stuff we Aussies take for granted. Which reminds me, I favorited another one of Mieke's pics on Red Bubble this morning. And here's another one I reckon is top notch.

Andrew phoned this morning. He'll be here early tomorrow to fit the solenoid, radio aerials and the external mains power input. We spoke about travelling to Sydney - me on the train for free and him by car using $100 worth of petrol there and back each time. Bloody expensive!

Back from a little shopping and checking out the range of body washes. Not cheap! But a few GNs on the forum the other day responded to a suggestion about using soap to lubicate something to do with awnings with "WHO USES SOAP?" Yeah. Makes sense. If you use camp showers, the last thing you want is a cake of soap that's been stored in a container and gone all gooey. Or even worse, soap that someone else has used. Ew! Or those useless little bars that motels and hotels provide. So a bottle of body wash is the go. The thing is, I have thenthitive thkin, so I gotta be careful of breaking out in ikky things.

Roite, all the interruptions are over and now I can concentrate on Waffle. It's weird, but I'm far busier now than I ever was working in a regular job. When I worked in radio, half the day was spent at lunch hehe. Not now! Lunch is grabbing something on the run. I'd planned on taking another shot at cleaning the gas burner on PJ's fridge today but ran outta time.

From the Beeb: A US Senate panel has approved the use of military force in Syria, in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack. By 10-7, the Committee on Foreign Relations moved the measure to a full Senate vote, expected next week. I wonder what the official response from Oz will be after the election this Saturday.

Ariel Castro, who kept women captive at his Ohio home, should not have been taken off suicide watch in June before his conviction, his lawyer has said. A post-mortem examination found Castro, 53, hanged himself in his cell, a month after being sentenced to life in jail. That's one of the reasons I'm against the death penalty. It's the easy way out.

Picture warnings on cigarette packets depicting the dangers of smoking make little impact on teenage smokers, a study suggests. The UK introduced the images, which depict things such as diseased lungs and heart surgery, in 2008. But the Stirling University study found the images have had almost no effect on deterring 11 to 16-year-old smokers. I could have told them that for free.

The Vatican has recalled its envoy to the Dominican Republic and launched an investigation after local media accused him of sexually abusing children. Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski had been the Apostolic Nuncio in Santo Domingo for nearly six years. Remember back in the old days, well before all the current exposes, all the jokes about priests and altar boys?

US car sales surged close to a six-year high in August as consumers grew more confident about an economic recovery. Sales jumped 17% from a year ago to 1.5 million vehicles. That translates to sales of some 16 million a year. Japan's carmakers Toyota, Honda and Nissan all increased sales by more than 20%. The US's Ford, General Motors and Chrysler also saw double-digit growth

Roite, wanna see a hat pic? Wanna see a toothless pic? Wanna see a skinny old toothless bloke wearing a hat? Hehe. I know I'll regret taking this pic but.... well, what the hell. Anything for a laugh.

I wonder what Cody would say if he could see that pic hehe. He once wrote that I was "pretty teeny for a fossil" but I don't think he'd be saying that now. Although... the teen within lives on, albeit well disguised. BUT... once I get my new dentures, I'll be back to looking suave and salubrious, so just keep that in mind.

Well, tomorrow should be an interesting day with Andrew here working on PJ. Then I'll have to lay low in the spending department for a while and play catchup with my cards. There's no drama yet, but there will be if I don't pull on the reins for a bit. Next on the list is Peter fitting the tool boxes and doing a few other small jobs. Pretty soon I should be right for my first mini Odyssey. Not sure where yet but there's no shortage of cool camping places in the Manning. No bacon and eggs or burgers or BBQ steak yet, though. Drat!

So that's a wrap, ladies and genitals. Time to buggerize around with the usual evening routine. Gary

September 4, 2013. Just finished putting the Botanic Gardens album together - quite time consuming! Some of the cityscape images have a prob with pixelation because of the small album format. They look great in larger format so I dunno what I can do about that without creating separate images for Jalbum. Below is how the small format shots should look. Anyway, I hope you enjoy all the pics - and especially my cormorant mate who went to a lotta trouble putting on a show for the camera hehe.

OR Richie wrote: The Opera House pictures were extremely good and absolutely with a number of perspectives that are almost never seen.  Very different and capture very interesting aspects of the architecture.  A couple reminded me of something like a futuristic land-locked cruise ship and the ones with the steps in the foreground are my favorites.  I have never seen 'em like that, so... kudos and good job on the photographic arts there, Gary. The Whitsunday picture gallery was really great, too.  I could look at 'em for hours and may do that later but it certainly is very appealing.

I was lucky with the steps pics. Major work is being undertaken on building a new underground loading dock for the Opera House and much of the area has restricted public access, which explains why the steps were free of pedestrians. It was also early morning. Richie also asked about train pics. I took a few of Central Railway and also happened to spot a brand spanking new city rail train that hadn't even been commissioned for service yet - it was undergoing trials. Very smart looking thing it was too. And BIG! I walked from one end to the other - all 8 carriages. I'm guessing but I reckon those things can carry a thousand passengers easy.

NC Art wrote: Wilderness is a fine term for navigating the internet … or most everything that we call technology. Your ISP busy phone is sooo familiar. A new router which arrived without a scrap of information required two days of hit or miss experimenting to coax the thing to recognize other devices. Pfah. And so it goes. We have created a monster which owns an agenda meant to terrorize us and minimize our assessments of human worth.

   What good is a self-driving vehicle if the ignition decides not to cooperate? Push the thing down the road as it steers itself? My son set out Monday morning toward Atlanta and a movie production job. He barely made it back home for repairs to the computerized ignition system which can only be done by another computer! Today he’s on his way again and my fingers are crossed until I hear from him tonight!

   O tempora, Oh mores, Oh hell.

I have the advantage of being poor which means I can't afford all those new fangled gizmos on my old bus. A few spanners and a bit of blue tack gets me outta strife.

FL Josh wrote: I did some research on Trental and found this bit. Although pentoxifylline (Trental) is not a peripheral vasodilator, smoking interferes with the therapeutic effect because nicotine constricts blood vessels, which worsens the condition for which pentoxifylline is being used; accordingly, those taking pentoxifylline should not smoke. Did you happen to ask the doctor who prescribed the Trental about your smoking?

Nope. He normally asks me, but he didn't this time. Pity. I could have told him I'm down to 1 or 2 a day, or none at all some days.

From the Beeb: US senators in a key committee have agreed on a draft resolution backing the use of US military force in Syria. The measure to be voted on next week sets a time limit of 60 days on any operation. The draft document also bans the use of any ground forces in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry said the US had to act after the Assad regime's "undeniable" chemical weapons attack. The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, endorsed Mr Obama's call for military action.

A new timeline for the origin of ancient Egypt has been established by scientists. A team from the UK found that the transformation from a land of disparate farmers into a state ruled by a king was more rapid than previously thought. Using radiocarbon dating and computer models, they believe the civilisation's first ruler - King Aha - came to power in about 3100BC.

As Google celebrates its 15th birthday, the web giant has become a byword for information retrieval. But if you put Jonathon Fletcher's name into a Google search, none of the immediate results hint to the role he played in the development of the world wide web. There is certainly nothing that credits him as the father of the modern search engine.

A London skyscraper dubbed the Walkie-Talkie has been blamed for reflecting light which melted parts of a car parked on a nearby street. What happened? It's like starting a fire with a parabolic mirror.

Oh yes, that's what I meant to mention about Sydney - Joggers. They were everywhere! All through the Botanic Gardens, around the forecourt and promenade at the Opera House, up and over the temporary pedestrian bridges around construction sites, and right along The Domain. There I was trudging along with camera and backpack with these fitness fanatics whizzing past and practically knocking me ass over tit. At the end of my six hour walk, there was an African bloke - black as the Ace of Spades, with muscles bulging - instructing a group of young women in aerobics and general fitness, with a bit of weight lifting thrown in for good measure. Just around the corner from them was the NSW Art Gallery where I grabbed a taxi and headed for Newtown and my appointment with the doc.

And now, something I found on a newsgroup the other day - a 1950 Beemer before Bayerische Motoren Werke started exporting their cars to the US, Oz and other parts of the world outside Europe. Cute little car, and I love the burgundy color.

Well, I'm pretty pleased with my photographic efforts on Monday so I just celebrated by purchasing a 7 in 1 lens cleaning kit on eBay for $10 from Hong Kong. I think I bundled the last one with my Sony when I sold it for peanuts. My photographic sojourns have been few and far between these days so I can expect to improve rapidly once I hit the road and use the camera daily. Red Bubble teaches me a lot too... techniques, ideas... just from observing the work of others. But there's nothing like learning by DOING.

Ya know, I STILL haven't used the 55-200mm lens yet! All the stuff I shot Monday was with the 18-55mm which is great for landscapes and general shooting. Instead of using a telephoto to get close ups, I walked there! Well, that was the whole idea. Once you get there, you find a whole bunch of other stuff worth photographing. I'm sure the 55-200 will be very handy on the Odyssey for telephoto shots such as surfing, wildlife, nude beaches etc. Wot? Freudian slip. Scratch the third one. 

This afternoon, I spent a bit of time in the kitchen rustling up an El Paso chilli tacodoodle noodle kaboodle which I'll get stuck into tonight with Colby cheeeeeeeeeeeeeese! Sounds yummy. 

Things are getting back to normal now after playing catchup so I might have another fiddle with PJ's fridge. TX Greg told me how to access the burner cover flap so I'll give that a try. The worst thing that can happen is me ending up looking like Wily Coyote after one of his Acme devices explodes. No wukkers. A change is as good as a holiday they reckon.

And now it's time to vamooski for another day. Gotta beetle as Code used to say. Gary

September 3, 2013. Isn't it weird how the negative side of our brains can be so domineering! Last night, when I looked at the pics I shot in Sydney yesterday I saw quite a few that had simple mistakes - things I should have been aware of when I was shooting. So I got all cranky and depressed about them. Then I took another look this morning, listed all those that didn't scrub up and deleted them. I must have deleted the negative side of my brain as well because as I started to check the remaining images, I felt great about the good ones hehe. So this was definitely a case of out of sight, out of mind. In fact, some of the shots I'm very pleased with. As for the boo boos, I've learned an important lesson: check the pics before you end up 400kms away hehe.

I did some experimental stuff with the Opera House, taking close ups of various parts of the building to highlight certain espects of the design, so I'll do a separate album and call it Opera Perspectives. There was a cormorant nearby that put on a special show for me (Nancy my dentist said that it was mating). I took a lot of pics hoping to get something decent. Three or four turned out quite good so I flicked the rest.

Anyway, the day has raced away so I'll put the albums together tomorrow.

Now, what happened in Sydney with the doc? Well, he wasn't all that impressed with the condition of my mouth because of the exposed bone, so I asked him about the chances of an operation. There won't be one. There what? I don't know how I got this wrong but I've always been under the impression that the doc was waiting for favorable conditions in order to operate on the exposed bone. Nope. That's not the case at all. Mind you, you're lucky to get 10 minutes with those specialist guys before they bundle you out the door so it's not really a surprise that messages get mixed up or misinterpreted somewhere, somehow.

There are two options: Option 1 is to undergo a long and tedious hyperbaric treatment regime followed by an operation to remove the exposed bone. It's more or less the standard procedure but there's no guarantee of success. Option 2 is this new medication regime I'm on (and I'm pretty much a guinea pig in that regard). It involves 1000IU Natural Vitamin E daily plus 400mg Trental twice a day - a medication designed to promote increased vascular activity in difficult areas. There's no surgery involved. The plan is for the problem bone to vascularize sufficiently to encourage tissue growth by the gum so that it eventually covers the exposed bone area. The tissue relies on vascularized bone to grow (and feed). Once that happens, dentures can be fitted. Meanwhile, it's a very slow process.

When I relayed the news to Nancy this morning she was disappointed, of course, but took it all on board. During the irrigation, she chipped bits of dead bone away and, surprise, surprise, noticed tiny indications of improved vascular activity in the live bone. She was most encouraged by that and will do a bunch of research tonight and then get in touch by email with Dr Clark in Sydney to compare notes. She also took a couple of photos after exposing the live bone. She sees me every week so she can be Dr Clark's eyes and ears.

So that's the situation at the mo. Not the news I was expecting but also not bad news. Any improvement is welcome. And I'm really not at all keen to go on a long hyperbaric regime that may prove to be useless - as well as fairly serious surgery.

How will all this affect the Odyssey? I see Nancy once a week for regular irrigation and cleaning. Does it need to be every week? I'm thinking of taking perhaps a month off occasionally to spend on the road, and do shorter trips in between. Anyway, I'll chat with Nancy about that at some stage and work something out. I'd like to get the Odyssey happening at least partially before this gum business is finally out of the way.

Incidentally, everything else is fine. My weight could be improved but it's not a serious issue. My health is fine. There's no sign of any cancer. I spent 6 hours yesterday morning walking around the Botanic Gardens and the Harbor foreshore so I'm obviously reasonably fit.

Francois wrote: TX Greg seems to be very pessimistic about your fridge. Greg is right, no rust on the gaz burner is a good sign: not used often. I've seen several other fridges in boats and campers which were more rusted than yours and worked perfectly for years. And for the not working gaz, it's quite normal after some months without firing it: the small pieces of rust fall on the burner (even never used). You've just to clean the burner: maybe just a little pressurized air on it, is enough, else clean it with a small metallic brush. I'd to do this once a year just before the summer use, in our camper, after some months of not using it. When you see the little blue flame you've to maintain the button for 5s (at least), it's all. But the 1st time you've to maintain the button maybe 15s before firing it (air in the tube). Don't worry, I'm sure it'll work fine.

Thanks, Francois. We will see how it goes! 

My australian friends went at a marine park "Whitsundays" NW Australia and took pics of big fishes which you can caress and Mike put the pics in my site (at the 2/3 of the list): Australia is always surprising and I'll maybe go with them somewhere when I've totally recovered.

FL Josh is having serious Waffle withdrawals hehe, but he wrote the other day: The price listed for the '99 Bentley is $35,994, which because of its condition and care, is about $25k below market value, but the market for such cars is very small.  People with lots of money prefer new ones, and people without lots of money cannot afford the maintenance.  I keep hoping to get a call from them saying the car has been sold to someone else so I can shake my head a couple of times and come back to my senses.  But the ad has quit running and I wonder if the price will go up because of the rebuild on the turbochargers.  I am also very suspicious as to why it is taking two months to rebuild the turbochargers.

My present car has 48,097 mi (77,405 km) on it and this month turns 14 years old.  I bought it in 2000, and have always taken good care of it and kept it garaged.  Everything works, it has never needed any repairs, and it still looks brand new, so I have no need to get another car.

So I do not need the Bentley, would regret buying it, but. . . if they call and say the turbos are done. . .

I hope my doc doesn't think that because I can cope without dentures it means I don't need them. :)

Bleh. Now something's wrong with my internet connection. Tried redialling. No good. Tried unplugging and plugging the modem. No good. Tried a different USB port. No good. Tried shutting down the comp and restarting. No good. So I'll continue off line for a while and see what happens.

Well, so far I've used the time to put together the Opera Perspectives photo album. I think it works pretty well. Yeah? That building is so unique and iconic, even sections of it immediately become recognizable.

Hmmm. My ISP's phone is continuously busy. Does that suggest something?

I'm back on line! It's coming up to 6.30pm now so I better update Waffle and the photo album before anything else goes wrong. Gary

September 1, 2013. First day of spring! Maybe not technically but in Oz we keep it simple. BTW, where did the day go? I wrote that first line early this morning and now it's almost 3.30pm. 

As I shaved and listened to the radio, I heard an interview with a bloke in his mid 20s who jumped into a damn at an outing with his mates, somehow managed to hit his head on something, broke his neck and is now a quadraplegic. He was in the Navy at the time, and a keen surfer and skier. It was difficult for him at first to come to terms with his paraplegia and the restrictions it would place on him for the rest of his life. He certainly found out who his real friends were when the fair weather types began disappearing. But he's doing surprisingly well. He lives alone, cooks for himself and can drive a car. He has use of his biceps but not his triceps, which gives him some wrist and hand movement. He's got a job, does volunteer work, runs a website that lists all "quad friendly" motels and hotels around the country (something he decided to do after staying in places that said they were quad friendly but were not), and is studying at university. He's quite well adjusted, independent, and grateful for small mercies like the limited use he has of his wrists and hands.

Listening to his story reminded me of how I feel about my lot in life. If I don't compare what I have now with what I could have had if my business hadn't failed, I'm happy. Hehe. If I don't compare PJ with the luxury rigs I see everywhere, I'm happy. In other words, life is not about what you don't have, it's about what you do have, as well as opportunities to add to what you have if you try hard enough. I've never been very ambitious or competitive, and I really do believe it's a blessing. Mind you, I like to be good at what I do, but not obsessed about it. If my old Electrolux can chill a can of beer, then that's fine with me.

Speaking of which. TX Greg wrote: This may seem silly, but seeing the fridge pic this morning was a little emotional as it took me back to my teen years when I first started working on RV's. That fridge was the top of line model at that time :)

Well I see good and bad news in that pic. The good news is that I can tell from the burner box that the fridge was rarely used on gas, too clean on the outside. I also see no signs of a leak. If the cooling coil springs leak you can usually see somewhere on the back side a bright yellow dried crust where the ammonia ran out. The bad news is I'm in total shock to see that much rust and corrosion on the actual cooling coil. I'm not sure but perhaps at one point it was close to the ocean and salt water in the air has had an effect on this. I know you don't want to hear this, but if that cooling coil is rusting thru that bad it won't be long with road vibration and bumps before it springs a leak.

Admittedly, it looks pretty bad, but I'm hoping it's the paint that's cracked and peeling and that the rust is superficial. We'll see.

I also see in the pic in the upper left hand corner that someone has added a small 12V fan. These are great add ons has they help to pull air in from the bottom vent and exhaust the hot air out the top vent. You do need to ask Andrew to look at that fan and tell you if it is controlled by a separate switch or perhaps it is wired direct with its own built-in thermostat.

There's a switch inside a cupboard above the sink that operates the fan.

Wonder if there is a way to convert that door. Would be nice if there was a top continuous hinge (Your hardware store should sell in various lengths) Then maybe weather stripping down the sides and bottom and then some type of latch. Perhaps you could ask Andrew or maybe Peter could easy modify that door. Better than taking 20 screws out each time :)

Great idea, Greg. I'm pretty sure I'll get Peter to install two tool boxes under the tray even though there's no great need for them at the mo. It's always handy to have extra storage. When that happens, I'll get him to attach a handle to the rear doorway of PJ as well as a hinged door over the back of the fridge as you suggest. There's another louvred panel at the top of the fridge but I'm not sure what that's for... maybe just extra ventilation. Some GN's recommend hanging a wet towel over thoses vents on hot days to shade and cool the inner workings.

BTW, there are a few of those little fans in PJ - a series of 3 on a swivel bracket in the  "bedroom", one near the AGM battery and... er, can't remember.

Greg also had this to say about FL Josh's Royal Brittania: WOW, that is one SWEET ride FL Josh is looking at. I was really impressed with the low miles and couldn't get over how clean it looks, even the door jambs are spotless. Josh didn't say how much they were asking so I took a peek at the book value. If Josh can pick that up for the low 40's or less I would say go for it. Hey, we are just on this spinning rock once, right :)

And before we leave cars, OR Richie wrote: I thought you might be interested in the 1938 Tatra T87 - Jay Leno's Garage - Popular Mechanics. You can view it here. Mentions the mechanical bits and the VW lawsuit as well.  I was actually fairly familiar with this most fascinating auto...

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama has formally asked Congress to authorise military action against Syria over alleged chemical weapons attacks. He said any operation would be limited, ruling out a ground invasion. Congress is to reconvene on 9 September. This comes after Washington claimed it had evidence that 1,429 people were killed in chemical attacks by the Syrian army on 21 August. The Syrian government gave no immediate reaction to Mr Obama's announcement. Damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Everybody's mindful of the WMD fiasco and the invasion of Iraq, which is still a pathetic mess. But there's also the argument that if western allies sit back and do nothing about Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own people, it will encourage rogue states like N. Korea and Iran to push the boundaries even further. Check out the scene 70 years ago when America sat on the sidelines during the early stages of WWII. If the Japs hadn't declared war on the US during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, what kind of world would we be living in now? 

With a handful of days until Australia's election, former Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Peter Fray assesses the national mood - and asks whether Kevin Rudd can possibly pull off a win

No way in the world would I vote for Rudd. But I don't like Abbot much either - a good Catholic boy with a most uninspiring personality. Not too crazy about all that hot sweaty triathlon stuff he's involved in either. So, guess what? I'm gonna vote for Clive Palmer. Crazy? Maybe, but I like the guy. He's the only politician in Oz with a sense of humor, and a track record of having gone from a cleaner to a mining and real estate magnate and the richest man in Queensland ($800m+). He's the one who's building the new Titanic. He won't win the election but at least he might get enough votes to liven things up a bit. Most journalists and political "experts" have written him off as an eccentric trouble maker. Fine with me. My kinda guy.

And the Greens? No thanks. Too fringe and left wing. Assange's Wikileaks Party? No thanks. I saw him interviewed live the other night and he came across as defensive and amateurish - not to mention nervous.

Go Clive!

Well, no sleep for this kid tonight. Gotta train to catch at 1:30am to Sydney, arriving 6:52am, so I'll be at the Royal Botanic Gardens just after opening time at 7am. And I'll be travelling first class! The Nikon batteries are all charged up so I'm rearin' to go. I'll also have the little pocket Fuji as a spare. The appointment with the doc is at 2.15 and he's always running late, so as soon as that's over it'll be back to Central Railway for the ride home at 4.12, arriving in Taree at about 9.30.

And that's it! Seeyaz when I get back. Gary


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