the WAFFLE page

May 31, 2014. And here we are, the end of May and half way through 2014 already! Hopefully, for me, the second half will be an improvement on the first. Pizza for Christmas! And with a bit of luck, PJ will be back on the road by the end of next week, humming along with all pistons firing.

Actually, that little negative voice in my (and everyone else's) head has been driving me nuts lately. What if the NRMA refuses to provide the tilt tray truck to take PJ to Ford? What if Ford finds all kinds of problems with PJ and I can't afford to have it fixed? What if, what if, what if? Grrrrr. I don't remember hearing that voice in my head years ago, which explains why I made so many radical and impulsive decisions back then hehe. So it must be something that emerges as we get older - preferring to err on the side of caution. Caution is fine. It's when the voice becomes totally irrational that it really irritates me - worrying about the most unlikely of scenarios and, worse still, not suggesting a Plan B. Negative, negative, negative. If I allowed that voice to take control, I'd never get out of bed in the mornings!

OH Jim wrote after reading about the water level in PJ's radiator going down a smidge yesterday to ask where the hell the water went since it hasn't been driven anywhere! Well, that's the $64 question, isn't it. It's been happening for several months. First, Ford recommended replacing the radiator, which I did. But the water level kept going down. So Ford recommended replacing the water pump, which I did. And still the water level kept receding. Then the hydrolock happened, and the NRMA bloke said it was probably caused by water getting into the cylinder via a blown head gasket. And here we are back to square one. Hopefully, the riddle will be sorted next week - AND FIXED. It's cost me over $800 already.

Jim also suggested giving the spark plug a tap with a hammer at the metal base to encourage penetration of the WD40. Can't do that cos the base of each plug is buried inside a well. And he sent me a formal invitation to attend his Ham group's dinner at the Post Dayton (Hamvention) Let Down Edition in Tylersville Rd West Chester at 6pm sharp next Monday. Yeah, right. Can you imagine me sitting with a group of ham radio tragics telling tall stories about "come in, WXYZ 3248, over"? With all those Merry Can accents? Besides, er, I have a dental appointment on Monday. Actually, the dentist is married to an American.

Cold and wet this morning, bleh. "Possible shower," they said. Oh, really? But they say it will clear. I'm hoping to do some shopping later - but not in the rain. I don't care what the song says.

From the Beeb: Climbers have broken two records at once on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. More than 300 people carrying flags lined the landmark on Friday, breaking the records for both the most people on the bridge, and the most number of flags flown off it. The former record was previously set by a group led by US TV host Oprah Winfrey in 2011. The event, organised by Rotary International, was part of their campaign to eradicate polio.

Edinburgh's tram service is ready to take its first paying customers as the long-awaited route from the airport to the city centre opens to the public. The first tram services are due to set off at 05:00 from the Gyle Centre in the west of the city. It follows six years of disruption and problems, including a bitter dispute between the council and its contractor. The Edinburgh tram route cost £776m and covers 14km (8.7 miles) from the New Town to Edinburgh Airport.

Trams are cool. Sydney had them for years before the government decided to trash them in the early 60s and replace them with buses. What a dumb idea! Now  trams (light rail) are back in some areas of Sydney and the service will hopefully be expanded.

Back from shopping... with no car. The walk up to the mall was fine, the shopping was fine, but I bought some heavy stuff which was waaaay too heavy to carry home, so I got a taxi. And whaddaya know? The cabbie knew I was struggling a bit so he parked out front and carried all the heavy stuff onto the veranda for me. How wonderful! I thanked him profusely, of course. You wouldn't get that kinda service in Sydney. The cabbie said he does that kinda thing all the time, especially for the little old ladies. Hmmmm.

Actually, my stamina is steadily improving despite lifting heavy weights still being a prob at the mo. Yesterday, I practiced high kicks, limbering up the old pins in anticipation of throwing a leg over my bicycle saddle on a regular basis. I'm determined to be fit enough to ride that thing around when I'm on the road permanently. It will be a very useful extra set of wheels, I'm sure. Besides, riding a bike is good fun. The other day on the GN forum I noticed someone referring to a camp site which was an "easy 5.5km walk into town". Walk? Bike for me, thank you very much.

Bolognaise tonight. Mmmm! The pork/veal minz was on spesh and so was the bol sauce - Ragueletto with red wine and garlic. Easy peasy. And I added a little ground pepper, Tabasco and 2 bay leaves for good measure. Smells great. Those bottled sauces make life sooooo easy. I also made a new smoothie. I've been using condensed milk (as well as regular) lately and it makes a really nice difference. So I guess a toothless diet does have its moments.

When I first started making smoothies I checked recipes on the web and tried using different ingredients for variety but now that I have this particular Kelly recipe down pat, I'm not the least bit interested in changing. If you'd like to try it, here's the recipe: 3 scoops vanilla Sustagen, half can condensed milk, about the same of regular full cream milk, two big scoops plain yoghurt, tablespoon smooth peanut butter, dollop of honey, 1 raw egg, half large banana. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate.

Just read on the GN forum that a town council not all that far from here decided a while back to close the free camp in town, probably because it was attracting "free loaders" which some businesses such as caravan parks and motels complain about. Sooooooo, what happens when the Grey Nomads are not there? The local hoons take over, of course, and vandalize the place - which is exactly what has happened. So now the bright sparks on the council have decided that having the Grey Nomads at the free camp was maybe not such a bad idea, and they're considering re-opening it. *Sigh*

Also on the GN forum is this post from a nomad who's just built a new medicine cabinet. I want one! NOW!

You'll enjoy this... a couple of mad Aussies doing a Toyota Hi Lux commercial. Here's another one.

You don't find too many Aussies like that in cities, they're mostly bushies, and I hope to meet quite a few on my travels. I love that dry, laconic humor.

Anyway, it's time for me to catch a bit of telly and get stuck into a bowl of yummy bol with lots of Parmesan on top. That'll warm up the cockles. Gary

May 30, 2014. FL Josh wrote: I see TX Greg sent you the same hydrolock video I sent you two days ago!!! Now, now, Josh, let's not get our knickers in a knot. I have to say that watching videos of mechanical repairs is not my idea of a jolly good time. As editor of Waffle, I reserve the right to include or exclude whatever I deem appropriate in the broader public interest at the time of publication. No correspondence will be entered into and the judge's decision is final. So there.

Yesterday, I forgot to include Steve W's comment: You have had PJ serviced by Ford before yet you cannot budge plug 3? Surely as part of their “service” they would have removed and checked your plugs (as it were) - if they didn’t then they were negligent! I still think it is a head gasket and replace that and with new plugs you will be ok. If the oil isn’t milky, thats great - as to where the water from where your radiator went, well who knows, but with a dodgy head gasket, could have gone anywhere... but with clean oil, I am still thinking it will turn out to be alright. But what do I know!

My invoice from Ford for the service lists replaced engine oil and filter, checked all fluid levels and controls, checked all lights and tyres, road tested vehicle, all okay. At the bottom of that invoice, it recommended the installation of a new radiator and provided a quote. So, it appears that if you want anything else checked/done you need to specify it.

Steve also said that he was made redundant by his own company last year... no, don’t even ask how that happens! No need to ask, Steve... it happened to me too hehe. The rot sets in when you cease being a sole trader and allow other people into the business Never again! Anyway, from July Steve will head overseas to spend the next 4 years in the US and UK. That should be interesting! Looks like your redundancy is a blessing in disguise, mate.

NC Art wrote and wants me to do an Aussiepedia: Uh, what’s a chook, cum or sans tete? Chook is Oz vernacular for chicken. We had a chook pen down the backyard when I was a sprout, and so did the neighbors. Free eggs ya know. A famous Oz politician - Joh Bjelke Petersen, premier of Queensland during the 70s and 80s - was responsible for coining the now famous phrase "feeding the chooks", which he used to describe press conferences. Chook is used mainly in reference to a domesticated flock. Once cooked, it becomes chicken. You don't ask for chook a l'ivoire in a restaurant, for example. Or Kentucky Fried Chook. We do have a modicum of sophistication Down Under ya know.

BR Joao also wrote: I remember the first time you posted the Dodge cars draws. I don’t like cars, but I loved those ads. Very beautiful. And like you I have lost the files, so thank you for find them again and divulgate. The Socceroos are here in Brazil already, in a town called Curitiba, where the Group B of the World Cup is based. It’s a very difficult group since it also includes Spain, Netherlands and Chile. If Australia won Spain it will be great! Curitiba is near Floripa so I hope my “positive vibrations” supporting the Socceroos  could reach the match.

Well, I'm about as interested in soccer as you are in cars, Joao. Everybody here is talking about the big rugby league match between NSW and QLD the other night, when NSW won for the first time in 8 years. I honestly can't see what all the fuss is about. I've never been a sports fan. However, I did take an interest in Cody's sporting pursuits, even his boxing. In fact, when Steve came along later and engaged in pugilistic warfare with his father, and then the school bully, with Wingnut as his coach, I was mesmerized. It makes all the difference when you know the person involved, yes?

TX Greg wrote in reference to the Dodge car pics: I'm totally clueless on this pic... Can someone explain what that guy is doing? I zoomed in. The guy has felled a Christmas tree and is trying to pick up the trunk buried in the snow. I suspect the pillarless car in the pic is designed to show how such a bulky item can be easily transported.

And speaking of transported, PJ is booked in to Ford for Tuesday so I'll organize the NRMA and tilt tray tow on Monday. Hopefully, there'll be no expensive surprises and the job will be pretty straighforward. I gave the plugs another squirt of WD40 this morning and checked the radiator... fluid level is down a smidge.

From the Beeb: Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko has vowed to punish "bandits" after pro-Russian rebels shot down an army helicopter, killing 12. "These criminal acts of the enemies of the Ukrainian people will not go unpunished," he was quoted as saying by the Unian news agency. The helicopter was shot down near the eastern city of Sloviansk. An army general was among those killed.

What are the views and experiences of the bright young things leaving Harvard University this summer? These will be the movers and shakers in US society in the years ahead, many of them about to step into influential jobs in business and government. Harvard's in-house magazine has provided a fascinating snapshot of this young US elite, based on a sample of about half of this year's leavers.

I'm getting more techno savvy. My local GP sent an email about a weight loss program purportedly endorsed by a BBC health writer. So I wrote back asking him if he was serious about my losing weight... or had it been a mistake or the result of his email being hacked. He responded just now by saying I was right... his email had indeed been hacked. So there ya go. BTW, I have put on a couple of kilos lately. :o)

Cooler today and drizzly. It's not quite wintery yet and, according to the forecast, won't be for at least a week or so, but the string of lovely warm days we've been having seems to have passed. Dammit. Actually, there's been a fair bit of discussion on the GN forum lately about caravan and motorhome heaters (diesel versus gas) so it seems not all GNs choose to travel north for the winter. I know where I'd rather be! Bugger worrying about heaters. I have my heated throw rug if I need something on cold nights (which you get in some outback areas). Otherwise, I'll be toasting marshmallows over a campfire. Now wouldn't that be awesome!

And now on this rather fresh Friday evening, it's time to warm up the joint and turn on the telly for a bit of enlightenment, then some curry and rice. Gary

May 29, 2014. The goody goody gum drops news is that Andrese says the gum is looking good. "Pain is not a bad thing." Yeah... it gets a bit angry occasionally if I drink cold liquid or eat certain foods. The dead bone he removed was protecting sensitive areas but, of course, now they're exposed. Ouch! That's the price of healing. He says he'll do the other side fairly soon. Eeek! It's not fun but it's gotta be done. So it's fortuitous that Nancy went to Darwin and Andrese took over... with fresh eyes and ideas.

TX Greg wrote: Yes indeed, the plot thickens, I think BB did it, hehe. Well that's not a good sign that Stan couldn't remove the plug. Found a hydrolock vid, not your engine but, wanted you to see just the first 20 seconds where he turns the engine over with the plugs removed and the coolant sprays out... At the 3:22 mark in the vid he shows where the gasket is broke down and allowed the coolant into the cylinder. Then at the 11:22 after the repair is complete and the engine started you see the remaining coolant in the exhaust system blow out. I noticed he mentioned the gasket is in part made of plastic. Geez no wonder, I really think things are designed today to break on purpose.

Good thing my engine is not a V6! By comparison, the in-line 4 looks a lot simpler.

FL Josh wrote: If you have PJ taken to the Ford dealer the day before they have it scheduled for work, you might want to mention to them about not being able to remove the #3 sparkplug so they can check it immediately and squirt some penetrating oil on it to sit overnight if necessary.

OH Jim wrote: Ok, if the plug is stuck, I use PB Blaster on it . It's a really good  penetrating oil, but any brand would work. Even WD40. Usually, I will  spray it for a week, giving it a shot  a couple of times a day.  Even  if you take it to a dealer, I would start treating it with penetrating  oil . Doesn't take a lot, and you just wipe off the excess. It may  save you a trip to Ford, or extra labor charges from them. You might  want to treat the other three also, just for argument's sake. Regarding the Detrola photo... my cell phone doesn't have a flash, so  I had to make do with the room lighting. I cheated some and stuck a  little LED flash light in it to light up the dial from the back. Cool that you know your way around an engine. That makes life a lot  easier.

A squirt of WD40 crossed my mind yesterday. This morning after reading the emails I gave all four plug holes a squirt. The rubber caps on the remaining 3 plugs are still a bit tough to pull off, so I used the plastic tube that comes with the WD40 to get deep into well. Handy little thing that. Oh, and I forgot to mention yesterday that I helped my dad give my old side-valve Morris a valve grind and decoke. I don't think it did much good though. Why Morris decided to use the old 40bhp side-valve 1500cc engine in its first Oxfords instead of the MG's 50bhp 1500cc OHV is anyone's guess. It wasn't until the '54 Oxford MkII that the OHV engine was used and the car became familiar as the ubiquitous Indian yellow taxi, which has only just been replaced after 6 decades.

I saw a Youtube vid of a re-built MO Morris Oxford in Brazil accelerating like a scalded cat, and commented. The bloke said he installed a VW Golf engine. Ah!

And speaking of cars, back in the early 2000s shortly after I arrived in Taree and was still using dial up, I saw a bunch of pics from the 1920 Dodge Brothers booklet, classic, beautiful pen and ink drawings of Dodge cars depicted in various scenarios as well as diagrams of the cars' chassis and working parts. It took forever to download the pics, which I then printed (scenario only) and had mounted in 8" x 12" frames arranged within a large 2' 6" x 4' frame which still hangs on my office wall. Soooo, I was pleased this morning to see that someone else had posted the pics on an auto newsgroup, so now I can share them (lost the previous ones) in an album. I'm sure you'll enjoy them.

And now to food. Once I'm toothy again, I'll get back to cooking the things I really like, and one of those is my own sausage rolls. But you need puff pastry which is a devil of a thing to make. Frozen sheets of puff pastry is the answer IF you have a full width freezer, which PJ doesn't. Soooo, I got the idea of typing 'substitute for puff pastry' on Google and found a BBC recipe for flaky pastry made in a few minutes. Bonanza! It's amazing what you can find out there on the net. So now I can look forward to cooking all sorts of cool pastry things out in the sticks. Yum!

From the Beeb: US Secretary of State John Kerry has labelled intelligence leaker Edward Snowden a fugitive from justice who should "man up" and return home. Mr Kerry added that if Mr Snowden, 30, "believes in America, he should trust the American system of justice". His comments come in the wake of an interview with NBC in which Mr Snowden said he sought asylum in Russia because the US revoked his passport.

US President Barack Obama has led the tributes to Maya Angelou, describing the poet, author and activist as "one of the brightest lights of our time". He hailed Angelou, who has died aged 86, as "a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman". She made her name with the memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which charted a childhood of oppression and abuse in the Deep South in the 1930s. Her family described her as "a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace".

Yep, we have intelligence and we have the ability to acquire knowledge. More importantly, we have language with which we share that knowledge.

Luigi Di Cicco was the son of a mafia boss, and most people expected him to follow in his father's footsteps. He could easily have fallen into a life of money, crime, violence, jail - but he broke free. When Luigi Di Cicco was coming home from school one day in a small town near Naples he heard what he thought were fireworks. "Who's celebrating?" he wondered, as he approached his house. "And why?" Then came the appalling explanation. Two of his uncles were lying dead in pools of blood in the road. They were both mafia men. The explosions he heard had been gunshots - an ambush by a rival clan.

My dad's sons didn't follow in his footsteps either. The eldest became a ladies hairdresser (still coifing the girls at 83), the second eldest became a clerk in the public service, I was a late starter in radio, and my younger bro became a mechanic and then a cop. What a weird bunch!

Weren't we talking about chopping heads off chooks the other day? Last night on QI with Stephen Fry, they showed a headless chook that lived for 2 years after having been beheaded. Apparently the ax failed to remove one of the necessary bits and, although the chook was only whole from the neck down, it survived quite happily for 2 years being fed with an eyedropper, and exhibited by its owner at some sort of freak sideshow.

Just reading the GN forum and spotted this thread with some piccies you might wanna check out of places way out yonder.

Meanwhile, time for another wrap. Enjoy the Dodge Bros pics! Gary

May 28, 2014. Mostly cloudy today but warm. When it warms up a little more I'll remove #3 spark plug and take a captain cook. TX Greg reckons: Sounds like the next step is to take out the spark plug on cylinder # 3 and look at the plug to see if it is wet with coolant. I agree with Steve W, this could be as simple as a spark plug going bad, a bad plug wire or a coil issue. I just can't believe this is a hydrolock problem if there is NO coolant showing in the oil. I don't think so, Greg. That wouldn't explain where the radiator water is disappearing to even after a new radiator and water pump. Or the steam coming from the exhaust.

OH Jim says: I would pull #3 plug to see what the tip looks like.  You can read a plug to see what the engine is doing . If it is a tan color, it's ok.  Black is too rich a mixture.  IF YOU SEE RUST, WATER IS PRESENT. If you pull the plug, take a picture of it and post it on waffle. Some of the guys on there sound like they know what they are doing, and the plug is a piece of the puzzle.

FL Josh says: If PJ experienced hydrolock at idle or would not start because of it, the chances are good that you did not damage your engine. According to this article, the damage occurs when it happens at speed and you know it immediately because you will hear horrible noises.  I'm venturing a guess that you will be able to get by with just a new head gasket.  Also in your favor is you did not comment on PJ running hot.

You said the Premium NRMA membership includes a "hire car."  Does that mean you will be able to get a free rental car while PJ is being worked on?

Nope. As I understand it, only if you break down away from home or are involved in an accident that's not your fault. I had a kid run into the back of my old Benz back in '74 and the NRMA gave me a little Holden Torana (Vauxhall Viva) which was a bloody terrible thing to drive.

And Bubba B writes: Bloody hell! Everybody's talking about this damn hydrolock shit and NOTHING about my hat pics!

I told you he was sensitive.

Just tried to pull the rubber cap off the plug - too tight, and I don't wanna damage anything including my hand, so I'll leave it to Ford. I'm not entirely without experience in these matters ya know. I used to take out the plugs on my first car every damn week to clean them of carbon and oil, and regularly drain the oil and remove the sump so I could shim the big-end bearings to shut the damn things up. The crank shaft had worn to an oval shape. I also broke a rear axle and had to replace that myself. After my first car, I swore never to work on another one. Bleh.

OH Jim also asked what kind of engine PJ has. It's a 4 in-line, 2.6 liter, 12 valve, with alloy head, EFI. Here's a pic. I note that in December 2012, PJ had 164,200 kilometers on the clock. Now it's 166,200. 2000 klicks in 15 months - hardly a run around the block.

The 2014 equivalent of my Ford Courier is the Ford Ranger (Mazda BT-50) which gets quite a lot of praise from GNs who drive one as a tug for their caravans. Barnacle Bill is now driving his second used Courier and he's a happy man too. Despite the problems I've had with mine, I still think it's a good car, and I'm looking forward to getting that engine purring like it should.

Jim also mentioned Australia's most celebrated racing car driver: One last thing.... On the F1 Monaco broadcast this morning, the American feed announced the death of Sir Jack Brabham.  That was a big shock. He died last Monday, and our newspaper sports page had NOTHING.  I always liked and rooted for his son Goeff, when he was racing in the USA IMSA  sport car series. It made the headlines here, of course. The guy was a genius, even winning with his own home-built car! He was mechanic first, driver second. He loved machinery and did all his own work.

Jim is a radio ham and recently told me about his dad giving him his first radio many years ago: Here's the Detrola . I don't dare turn it on... all the capacitors have probably dried up. Some day I might try to replace them and all the resistors. If I can find a schematic for it. It's tuned to 700 kc, WLW, in Cincinnati.  WLW  is a clear channel station... the only one on 700 kc in the USA.

You'll have to learn how to suppress that camera flash, Jim. Nice radio, though. I've long been fascinated by old radios. My dad was a radio (wireless) technician and built the home radiogram. He tried to make a living repairing radios at home but, as my mother said, he didn't have the heart to chase bad debts. People were too poor to pay in those days, so he went back to driving a truck. Until recently, I had a couple of bakelite radios from the 40s and 50s but sold them... no room in PJ for superfluous items.

Stan the Lawn man is here mowing the lawn for the last time before he and Sue toddle off in their caravan for 2 months up north. He's a very excited man! In fact, they're just back from a short trip down the south coast, and they'll be off again Friday. That's how it is with most Nomads who aren't full time... as soon as they get home from one trip, they start planning the next. The majority on the forum, though, are full time on the road.

Aaaaany-bloody-way, since Stan is here I asked him if he would take a look a the spark plug. He got the rubber cap off okay, then grabbed a plug spanner. Stan is a very strong man despite his years but even he couldn't budge the plug - not a millimeter. He even bent the steel rod that goes through the holes in the plug spanner. "That bloody thing has probably been in there for 20 years!" he said after giving up. So, it's a job for Ford. "Get all the plugs replaced," Stan added, "and you'll be surprised at the performance." Meanwhile, the plot thickens.

Stan's hands are soiled from mowing and he left prints on PJ's paintwork. I'm okay at applying polish but not so good at polishing it. Hello? Light bulb time. I have a cordless drill, roite? Can I fit a polishing disk? According to Google I can. Whoopee! PJ's gonna get a good polish just as soon as this other business is over and there are spare bucks in the bank. How exciting! PJ's paint is dull and there's hairline cracking on the bonnet/hood. She's obviously been in a prang and resprayed - and not very well.

From the Beeb: Google is to start building its own self-driving cars, rather than modifying vehicles built by other manufacturers. The car will have a stop-go button but no controls, steering wheel or pedals. Pictures of the Google vehicle show it looks like a city car with a "friendly" face, designed to make it seem non-threatening and help people accept self-driving technology

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has described himself as a trained spy specialising in electronic surveillance, dismissing claims he was a mere low-level analyst. In an interview with NBC, he reiterated that he had worked undercover overseas for the CIA and NSA. He said the US got better intelligence from computers than human agents

A Pakistani woman has been killed by her relatives outside Lahore High Court for marrying against their wishes.Police said 30-year old Farzana Bibi died on the spot after being attacked with bricks and sticks. Her father handed himself in, but police say her brothers and former fiancee, who also took part in the attack, were still free. Superstition lives!

Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, contains errors in nine out of 10 of its health entries, and should be treated with caution, a study has said. Scientists in the US compared entries about conditions such as heart disease, lung cancer, depression and diabetes with peer-reviewed medical research. They said most articles in Wikipedia contained "many errors".

Just back from another fiddle in PJ, re-arranging things from one cupboard to another that makes more sense. So why didn't I put them where they make more sense in the first place? Hehe. I guess I'm getting more used to the layout and how things will be once I'm on the road. It's very relaxing sitting in PJ - my special place. Cody had his special places where he would go to sort out his head. To be alone with his thoughts. I strongly suspect that Oz is not the only thing I'll discover "out there", but a lot about yours truly as well, and perhaps life itself.

Hmmm. Human interest. The reasons people do what they do. Actually, I learned a little about schizophrenia listening to the radio in PJ. It's what happens when people lose the ability to distinguish between perception and reality, and start to believe the former rather than the latter. Not all that much is understood about schizophrenia. The woman who was being interviewed has a twin brother who is schizophrenic. She grew up with him and watched it slowly develop. Then as a young adult, she decided to do something about finding the cause of the condition. She studied psychology and psychiatry but couldn't find the answers there, so after earning her docorates, she studied neuro-science as it relates to the brain in order to discover the physical causes of schizophrenia. Neuro-science is a relatively new science so it's early days yet, but she's hopeful of finding a way to prevent the disorder before it takes hold.

So, after listening to that, I looked at Bubba B and said, "Did you hear that, Bubba? Perception and reality, huh? So what's all this crap about you getting pissed off if I don't say 'hello' in the mornings? You're a stuffed toy, roite? Stuffed toys don't get pissed off!" However, despite the logic, I don't think Bubba is convinced. Nor me, to be perfectly honest.

The sky is pink! It does that when you northern hemisphericals pinch our sun, so that's my signal to down pens and close books. Isn't that what we did at school when the lesson was over? Long time ago, ya know. I remember brother Eric cos he used to flick chalk at me. And I remember brother Anselm cos he locked me in the stationery cupboard for talking in class. Other than that, it's all a bit of a blur. Anyway, time for The Drum and a bit of newsy stuff  about the day's events. Gary

May 27, 2014. Wot's black and white and wrapped in cling wrap that could save a disaster? My check list, that's what. I printed it yesterday - a list of things to check before I drive off in PJ after camping somewhere. Easily forgotten things like hatch closed, campfire out, fly zip done up, etc. I'd love a dollar for every time a GN has posted a comment about leaving an item behind after a camp.

As to the hydrolock prob, FL Josh suggests it's too risky to start the engine, and that I should remove the camper. Can't do that cos it would be between the ute and the driveway gate, and to turn PJ around would require starting the engine. I just called Andrew (he was a mechanic before becoming an auto electrician) to ask if he could do the job. Nope... it's a job for a proper workshop. He also warned against starting the engine to avoid internal damage. So... that means towing. Normal towing is out but I could organize a tilt tray. I could also increase my NRMA membership to top cover which would give me free towing. Top cover is $100 more (per year) but it's something I intended to do anyway before the big exit. And that would save me the cost of hiring a tilt tray.

In any case, spending anything at the mo means I can't afford to get the job done (or even assessed) until next pension which is a week and a half away, so PJ will have to sit in the drive and wait.

Roite, NRMA membership is now upgraded from "Classic" to "Premium" for $82.50. The bloke on the phone asked if I needed roadside service today hehe... tricky bugger, so I said no. I'll wait till next week to organize a "breakdown" tow. As to "classic" membership, it's those marketing people at it again... not basic cover, oh no, classic cover. Sounds better than basic. Nonetheless, basic is what it is. But now I have premium, which includes things like unlimited towing, emergency accommodation, hire car and mouth to mouth resuscitation. Or something like that.

TX Greg wrote: Yeah, see how uncommon the word and problem with hydrolock is. That NRMA bloke should have never mentioned to you the word hydrolock. At least that's a good sign that the oil shows no signs of coolant in it.

Interestingly, Andrew knew what hydrolock meant.

You didn't give exact details as to what the engine did when you tried to start it, but if the NRMA bloke thought hydrolock then, only guessing here, maybe the timing chain is worn and jumped a loop causing the engine to buck and misfire. Then again, there's a million other things stuck on these newer vehicles that can go wrong.

Nope, not the timing chain. I had that problem with Bluey and it cost $1800. I think I should have called Bluey "Blewit" instead. What a disaster that turned out to be. One other thing the NRMA bloke did was get me to feel the manifold after running the engine for a minute or so. # 3 cylinder was cool compared to the others, so it was not firing, which also explained the erratic running caused by water in the fuel mixture. That's been happening frequently lately at start-up as well as causing the engine to cut out on idle. I thought it was a tuning problem.

OH Jim suggests checking the oil again, which I just did. Looks fine. I also checked the radiator level and it hasn't changed since yesterday. 

Steve W wrote: Sorry to hear about the latest drama with PJ though I would suspect it isn’t as serious as you may think, well let’s hope so anyway. You’ll get there mate. Thanks, Steve. With a bit of luck, damage has been minimal and kept that way. Steve also recommended I change my ISP after recent problems but that's easier said than done. They host this web site and other stuff so I'd rather maintain the status quo.

Bubba B is getting a little outta hand. He sulks if I don't say good morning and now he wants to get behind the wheel. He's taking over the damn joint. Barnacle Bill reckons Bubba must have long legs.

Anyway, I phoned Ford and cancelled tomorrow's booking. I'll rebook for next week, which means I'll have to call NRMA roadside assistance the morning I'm due at Ford and let the NRMA book the tilt tray in order to get the freebie. Or, I could do it the day before and let Ford keep PJ overnight - that would save any potential problem with the tilt tray's availability at short notice. Yeah?

So where am I now? Car-less, that's where. But at least everything's organized or will be. One day, dear Breth, PJ will be running like a Swiss watch and, apart from the occasional maintenance repair and service, motoring will be care free. Provided Bubba drives carefully, of course.

Just got a Bubblemail from a fellow photographer...

Hi Gary,

I found this poem by Dave Browning as I flipped through a magazine in my G.P. waiting room yesterday and thought you might like it.

The Butcherbird’s Song

No music composer has ever matched,
No symphony of a thousand strings
Is as sweet as the sound of the butcherbird’s song
And the simple joy it brings.

Wherever I am in this great wide land,
Wherever I chance to roam,
It’s the familiar sound of the butcherbird’s song
That makes me feel at home.

I wake with a start in a motel room,
The city noise crashing in.
Then above it all comes the butcherbird’s song
Cutting through ceaseless din.

My swag is cold as the sun rises slow, 
Smell of smoke from the fire.
Loud I hear the butcherbird’s song
Joining the morning bush choir.

I am convalescing in a hospital bed
Absorbed in my misery.
Through the window floats the butcherbird’s song
And lets my mind drift free.

Beside my ute in the far outback
Not a stir in the midday heat,
Then a bar or two of the butcherbird’s song
And my whole day is complete.

I rest on the beach in the casuarina’s shade
In awe of the surf and the sights
Above me the melody of the butcherbird’s song
Singing with all his might.

This southern land has so many sounds
That fill our hearts with glee,
Yet above them all is the butcherbird’s song.
That’s the sound of Australia to me.



Yep, I hear them every morning and always appreciate their musical greetings. They have quite a repertoire and if they're in a particular mood you get treated to the whole shebang. Here's a relatively tame one doing a recital for the camera.

From the Beeb: The Nigerian military say they know where the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram are but they will not attempt a rescue. Nigeria's Chief of Defence Staff said it was "good news for the parents," although he admitted the military would not risk "going there with force." More than 200 girls were abducted by Boko Haram gunmen from their school in northern Nigeria in April

One of the architects behind London's famous Gherkin skyscraper has now turned against glass buildings. Is it time tall towers were made out of something else? asks the BBC's Hannah Sander. It is one of the UK's most recognisable buildings. A Stirling Prize winner. A backdrop to Hollywood films. Named the most admired tower in the world. But 10 years after it was opened, one of the designers behind the "Gherkin" has turned against it. Architect Ken Shuttleworth, one of the team at Foster and Partners who designed the tower, now thinks the gigantic glass structure was a mistake.

The parents of a gunman who killed six students in California tried to stop him after receiving an email minutes before, says a family friend. They raced to Isla Vista but heard radio reports on the shootings as they drove, friend Simon Astaire told US media. Elliot Rodger, 22, warned of his intentions in his emailed manifesto and a YouTube video posted the day before.

China plans to remove six million vehicles, that do not meet exhaust emission standards, by the end of the year as a way of improving air quality. More than 300,000 vehicles will be decommissioned in the capital Beijing. Recent findings from the state's environmental agency showed that 31% of the air pollution in Beijing comes from vehicle exhaust fumes. Next year, the government plans to scrap up to five million vehicles from other regions

The Chinese government can do pretty much as it pleases without fear of voter backlash. Can you imgine the Obama administration trying to remove 6 million cars from US roads? Mind you, the pollution in Beijing has reached crisis point. A couple of Aussies visiting China remarked on it in a recent program on telly and spoke to residents some of whom only let their children out of doors on relatively clear days, which are few and far between.

Earlier, I was thinking about the countless blunders I've made during my life. If I listed them I'd need a roll of paper a mile long. I seem to have an inherent propensity for making dumb choices hehe. And that's another reason I wanna do this Odyssey thing - it'll be my last chance to redeem myself; to do something worthwhile. I'll still be running around in circles, of course, but at least the Odyssey circles will lead somewhere, and provide all kinds of journalistic and photographic opportunities in the process. And this time the purpose will be singular, culminating in a collection of material that makes sense of the title - Aussie Odyssey. No sudden trips to Bali, no launching of a new career, no deviation from the ultimate objective, no silly tangents.

And when it's time to hang up the hat and settle down somewhere, I'll draw on all the accumulated material to write a book - not like the scrapbook on this web site; that bloody thing is just a chronological account of events that never really led anywhere, that never had a purpose or goal.

And in the meantime, I'll be honing my photographic skills and learning new techniques. Every day will be a photo shoot, and every day I'll discover something new. That in itself will have a worthwhile purpose.

Actually, I wanna get away from the usual touristy thing of pics of me standing in front of a monument or groups of people posing. I'm not sure yet how I can make the Odyssey different from other travelogs and blogs, but I'm confident that something will occur to me. Human interest will be the key, of course, but how remains the question.

Anyway, it's that time again. One useful thing I've discovered about minz (from reading a recipe on the GN forum) is that pork/veal is a "softer" combination for burgers, rissoles, etc. For me, that's important. Chicken minz, for example, is too gritty and I find it difficult to swallow. Bits get stuck in my oral nooks and crannies which is really annoying. So does beef for that matter. So veal/pork it is! Gary

May 26, 2014. Well, what will today bring? Apart from Andrese poking around in my oral cavity, of course. There are several scenarios, as FL Josh pointed out: First of all, my sincere sympathies on PJ's problems. When you were having to add water to PJ's cooling system after getting a new radiator on March 18th, that was a dead giveaway of a problem.You might have to get a junk yard engine for around $1,500 and spend another $1,000 to have it installed, and that would basically get you back to where you were before your engine overheated. Hey, it's just an experience and you and PJ will be fine.

Yeah... broke but fine. $2,500 is about 12.5% of my pension or double that after expenses, and I'm still skint after all those recent insurance, power and repair bills. I was hoping for a breather to play catch-up. $2,500 is totally out of the question unless I'm car-less for several months. As to getting an advance on my pension, I already did that to take care of the awning damage to those two parked cars, and I'm not eligible for another advance until October.

Josh also suggests that the cause of the problem may not have been the radiator or the water pump at all, in which case Ford may have misdiagnosed the solution, especially in light of the previous owner having given me two large bottles of radiator coolant after the purchase - which I thought was a tad strange.

TX Greg wrote: Hydrolock, that's the first time I've heard of that. I could see that if you drove PJ thru a lake. Usually a blown head gasket wouldn't allow that much water into the cylinder to cause hydrolock. Although I guess there could be a major head crack that could cause that. Did the guy from NRMA pull the oil dipstick? If not go out to PJ, pull the dipstick and see if the oil is milky... If the oil IS milky then you definitely have coolant entering the engine from somewhere.

That's one of the first things the NRMA bloke did... check the dip stick. He studied it for quite a while, and was apparently satisfied that the oil was okay. He asked if I'd had any overheating probs to which I replied no. I gathered that the prob so far isn't as bad as it might be. He even suggested I drive it out to Ford for a check, and driving it is not something he would recommend if the condition was dire.

Back from Andrese and the news is good. He removed the stitches and said the treated gum area was looking a lot better than the other untreated side. It's a bit sore but now that the stitches are gone it should improve. Meanwhile, we wait to see how the healing goes and if it all goes to plan, he'll do the other side. 

Then I phoned Ford and made an appointment for Wednesday to have PJ checked and damage assessed, plus an estimate of what it'll cost. And I'll take it from there. I spoke to the head mechanic and had to explain the meaning of hydrolock. Hello?

I was thinking about people who climb mountains or sail solo around the world, and how they say upon their return that if they can conquer such a challenge they can conquer anything. I feel a bit like that after having been through all the cancer crap and now the gum issue. That kinda experience toughens you up and makes you more philosophical about what life throws at you. I can't say I'm delighted with the hydrolock business but, on the other hand, one day it'll be just a memory.

Meanwhile, NC Art wrote: The Dunning lady hasn’t got much on me. I’ve held a driving license for 74 years which is valid until I hit 92. At my last renewal, the official seemed skeptical when I told him I’d be seeing him again pretty soon.

I like you're style, Art. I've had mine since 1962 and up until some years ago, still had the original document as well as the receipt for my first car, first registration papers, the receipt for my first week at the boarding house where I lived in 1970 and a few other cherished items of memorabilia. They were stored in a plastic bank book holder. Remember Luke? Thinking there might be money in it, he stole it, and probably tossed it into a gutter somewhere after discovering there was no money. How despicable and callous.

Jeez, it's 1pm already. I was sitting in PJ enjoying the sun and listening to a bloke on the radio who is a crisis negotiator. He explained what happens to mass murderers like the young bloke in CA the other day. "People don't shoot people," he said, "they shoot objects; inanimate things. So they de-personalize their victims until shooting them is like target practice at a rifle range." Then he told the story of a guy who walked into his office pointing a gun, and who was ready to use it. He had some sort of problem with a woman so the negotiator, rather than freak about the gun, said, "Okay, so what do you want me to tell her? What should I say to her?" That took the gunman's mind off killing and caused him focus on conversation. He sat down and began to discuss the problem. It was only then that the negotiator (probably a psychiatrist/analyst) said, "That gun is making me a little nervous. Do you mind putting it away?" And the guy did just that.

Anyway, the thing about de-personalization (if that's the right word) is that it's far too common these days. Some poor bugger can suffer a heart attack on a busy street and people walk past as if it's not their concern. We watch the TV news and see people being slaughtered left, right and center - we're desensitized. The negotiator mentioned the US fixation with guns. He says it's because many Americans are paranoid about their safety; they fear danger lurks around every corner. Well, if their paranoia is warranted, my personal reaction is who the hell would want to live in that kind of society? However, I strongly suspect that their paranoia is not warranted. BTW, the negotiator said he doesn't carry a gun, "words are my weapon".

What a day! I've been on the phone for ages with a techie from my ISP trying to sort out connection probs and also probs with my email. After a stack of buggerizing around he decided to uninstall the modem software and then reinstall, which took two attempts. Finally, it's working properly and I can access mail okay. 

I keep forgetting I'm using the Acer and that certain programs/hardware are not installed, like the new Canon printer. Earlier I couldn't figure out why I couldn't print a page! Grrrr. And then it finally dawned on me. Ho, ho, ho. NOT!

From the Beeb: Petro Poroshenko, who looks set to win Ukraine's presidential election, says he wants to "end war and bring peace". Official results are expected on Monday but exit polls suggest the billionaire confectionary magnate has won the election with about 56% of the vote. He said his first step as president would be to visit the eastern Donbass region where pro-Russian separatists have seized control in many areas. He also said Kiev would never recognise Russia's "occupation" of Crimea.

Thailand's military leader has received royal endorsement at a ceremony in the capital, Bangkok, after taking power in a coup last week. Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha was formally appointed to run the nation at the army headquarters. The 86-year-old monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, did not attend the ceremony. Birds of a feather.

Photographer Aletheia Casey recently returned to Australia after living abroad for five years and began work on a project looking at the process of reconciliation and apology to indigenous Australians. To mark National Sorry Day in Australia, Casey writes about the work.

Sundown, and the day has finally calmed down too, thank god. But it'll be an interesting week. I'll know probably on Wednesday what Ford has to say about the head gasket, etc. Despite the potential drama, I'm kinda excited about the prospect of adding a few more horses to the team. I thought PJ's current performance wasn't too bad hehe.

In all the excitement, the gum issue has taken a back seat, but progress (touch wood) is being made in that department too. So maybe everything will turn out okay. Gary

May 25, 2014. FL Josh wrote something that should have been obvious but wasn't, given that we're so used to living in a house sitting on permanent foundations: NC Art wrote about your notepads, "hang it by the door. Otherwise you'll arrive at the shops without a clue because you left your list hanging over the sink." If you did realize when you got into the shop you didn't have your notepad with you, you just go back out to the parking lot and get it from the kitchen since PJ is right there.

Yes, of course! Actually, every time I return to PJ from shopping I sit a while in the car thinking that, one day, that'll be it... I'll be home hehe. It's a nice feeling. 

I loved the bit about 101 year old Margaret Dunning and her 1930 Packard.  I did some research on her and she will turn 104 next month and as of a month ago, she was still going to car meets.  She had to drop out of college when she was young so at 102, she decided to go back, and FRAM, the company that makes Fram Oil Filters, heard about it and awarded her a full scholarship.  She is a millionaire but the gesture meant so much to her.  She got her first driver's license over 90 years ago.  Jay Leno presented her with a special award for her Packard in the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, and commented she'd owned the car for 62 years, then added, "and has only two payments left."  At age 103 she was recognized as a Michigan Person of the Year

That's the key... getting the most out of life while you've got it. I'm sure the joy she derives from her interests adds to her longevity. I know that's the case with a lot of GNs. Even in my case, still playing the waiting game, I get a buzz out of buying bits and pieces and making preparations for the big day. Running this web site also keeps me focused. In fact, I'm just back from catching the morning sun streaming through PJ's door. She's parked facing west - sun in the morning, shade at night. Must remember that for winter mornings when I'm camping.

During the summer, according to wise GNs with experience, it pays to park so that the side of the van with the fridge is shaded. And if it's really, really hot, hang a wet towel over the outside vents. I've learned a heap of stuff from the GN forum but I suspect it'll take a while in practice before most things become second nature. One time, camping in the Kombi with a mate, I had a neat trick of leaving a bucket of water with detergent in it out front of the side tent for cups, plates, etc as they were used during the day rather than clog up the camper sink. A sink full of water and dishes means you can't use it for anything else.

As I shaved this morning, I heard a woman on the radio talking about old people's homes (in particular women) and how important it is for residents to have a few familiar items from their past in their rooms - a bedside table, a favorite chair, photos, etc - to give it a sense of home. Yep, that vindicates what I believe about PJ. Even Bubba is now a familiar and welcoming sight despite such a short period. It's that feeling of home that sustains the weary traveller, I reckon, and eliminates any fear of leading a gypsy lifestyle; of being a stranger in a foreign environment (which was something that used to concern me but not now).

Isn't it wonderfully liberating to be at an age where playing cubby houses and having a stuffed toy don't bother you? Hehe. Oh, yes, when I recall the days during which so much of what one did depended on what others might think, I cringe. How absurd! How restrictive! How utterly irrelevant! As Art might say, a pox on peer pressure.

Have you heard of "hydrolock"? It's what happens when there's water in a cylinder and the engine won't turn. I couldn't get PJ to start so I called NRMA roadside service. Didn't take long for the bloke to suss it out after he managed to get the engine started. "Sounds sick," he said. He checked the radiator and, sure enough, the water level was down (which it shouldn't be after a new radiator and water pump). Then he showed me the exhaust which was blowing steam. A few people mentioned the possibility of a blown head gasket when I was having trouble with the radiator leaking regularly but I figured Ford would figure it out. Not so, it seems.

I guess I was fortunate that the hydrolock occurred while parked in the yard. Had the engine been running at speed, it could have caused major damage (as explained in the Wikipedia article). So, there's another unexpected drama, dammit. I didn't buy some things while shopping cos I need the money. I was also gonna spend the afternoon at a bush picnic area not all that far from here, and take a few pics, but cancelled that. However, I did need a particular medication which is not subsidized and that cost $60. It's for the gum problem. Getting back on my fiscal feet is proving to be a lot more difficult than I'd hoped. Grrrrr.

But that's the thing about buying an old car: you know there are gonna be things that need fixing but you hope they won't be all that many. Then you get to a stage where there's no turning back - you just keep fixing things and telling yourself that it will soon be over and you'll get good use out of the vehicle for the next umpteen years. Meanwhile, this latest drama might prove to be a Pandora's Box once the head comes off and the damage is assessed. If luck is on my side, which doesn't appear to be the case at the mo, the job will be straight forward and PJ will have a few more willing horses under the hood. Amounts of water significant enough to cause hydrolock tend to upset the air/fuel mixture in gasoline engines. If water is introduced slowly enough, this effect can cut power and speed in an engine to a point that when hydrolock actually occurs it does not cause catastrophic engine damage.

Well, so much for my cushion with arm rests or anything else I might like to buy.

From the Beeb: US police have confirmed that a man who killed six people in a rampage in California was 22-year-old Elliot Rodger. The student was the son of Hollywood filmmaker Peter Rodger, who was assistant director on The Hunger Games. At a press conference, police said Elliot Rodger had stabbed three male room-mates to death at his apartment. He later went on a rampage through Isla Vista in a black BMW, shooting at people at random.

Ukrainians are going to the polls to vote in a new president after months of unrest following the ousting of former President Viktor Yanukovych. Eighteen candidates are competing in the contest, which is widely seen as a crucial moment to unite the country. But pro-Russian separatists in the east who oppose the election have threatened to disrupt the voting process.

Gore Vidal was one of the intellectual greats of the 20th Century, whose writing influenced politics, literature and the culture wars.

An award-winning documentary on the liberal thinker's life, Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia, has just been released at select cinemas in the US. Over five years, director Nicholas Wrathall gained unprecedented access to Vidal, his extensive archives and his close friends and colleagues. He told the BBC about how over five years he watched Vidal - who died in 2012 aged 86 - come to terms with his own mortality.

Mortality? The difficulty (if there is one) is that we're used to continual renewal. We're used to there always being another tomorrow. We finish one book and start reading another. It's not easy to grasp the concept of mortality as it relates to oneself. It's other people who "pass on" hehe. Anyway, fretting about it serves no useful purpose. It's better to be like Margaret Dunning with her 1930 Packard and make the most of each day. I have something similar in mind for my 1994 Ford - once the damn thing stops being irritatingly obstreperous. Grrrrr. God knows what it's gonna cost. I might have to be wheel-less for a few weeks or so. 

Time for me to take my bat and ball and go home to nurse my wounds. I'll contact Ford tomorrow and keep you informed. Gary

May 24, 2014. "Spiral" was the word that occurred to me out of the blue this morning in relation to the notebook I wrote about yesterday. But  help was on its way from the USA anyway...

FL Josh wrote with pics of larger sizes, 8.5" x 11" and 6" x 9", but my 5-pack measures 3" x 4.5". Not bad for a bit over 2 bucks.

NC Art wrote: Just call the notepad spiral bound or wirebound. And hang it by the door. Otherwise you’ll arrive at the shops without a clue because you left your list hanging over the sink. Yeah... done that before too.

TX Greg wrote about the TV and added something appropriate: The TV looks awesome and fits that spot on the wall perfect :)

BB is ready for his favorite show, hehe

And Steve W wrote: I trust that when you finally mount the TV in PJ, that you will remove the base from the TV… looks like it is levitating! You're right, Steve. Spooky! And yes, the base screws on so I'll remove it once the TV is a permanent fixture.

Speaking of things for a coupla bucks, 6 or more months ago in a Two Dollar store I bought 2 pair of stick-on hooks (those that can be removed by pulling down, leaving no trace) for $2 each and waited until I was pretty sure about where to put them before going ahead. They're really neat... big enough to hang clothes on or shopping bags, an umbrella or whatever, and fold flat when not in use. I decided eventually to place them on the fridge door and the closet door. Pretty cool, what? Playing cubby houses as a kid was never this much fun.

Ya can never have enough hooks! Well, that's going a bit far, but you know what I mean. And I still have another pair left.

The perspective makes them look off center but they're not. Optical illusion ya know.

Now here's something pretty special... a 101 y/o lady driving her 1933 Packard.

And how's the weather in Taree?

I'm getting pitcha happy.

From the Beeb: The US has suspended $3.5m (£2.1m) in military aid to Thailand and urged the country's army to restore civilian rule "immediately". Washington also urged tourists to cancel trips and halted non-essential visits by US government officials. The move came as former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra spent her first night in military custody. She was detained along with dozens of political figures on Friday as the coup leaders tightened their grip on power

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has said he will respect the outcome of Ukraine's presidential election. Speaking in St Petersburg, he said Russia was prepared to work with whoever was elected Ukraine's president in Sunday's vote. It is the first time Mr Putin has explicitly indicated that he will accept Ukraine's election result.

The oldest living American, one of the few living people born in the 19th Century, has marked her 115th birthday. Jeralean Talley was born on 23 May 1899 and is the world's second-oldest person, according to a list maintained by the Gerontology Research Group. The oldest is Misao Okawa in Japan, who is 116, according to the group. Sorry, Art... one day maybe.

Two Slovakian parents have failed to block the adoption of two of their sons by a same sex couple in Kent. The Catholic couple, who are of Roma origin, argued their two young children would grow up alienated from their family and community. Taking the case to the High Court, they accused the local authority of social engineering by attempting to turn the children white and middle class. An earlier hearing heard evidence they had neglected their children

The wonderful thing about having so much stuff in PJ is that I've always got things to fiddle with. So there I was sitting in PJ... fiddling with something, of course... when a girl walked past, stopped, retreated a few steps and said, "Nice little place you've got there." Yes, I agree. Francis Albert was singing Girl from Ipanema at the time with Antonio Carlos Jobim (thanks Joao) and it was all very pleasant. The thing I was fiddling with this time is an old pencil/pen holder I cleaned up, a relic from my advertising days in the '80s. It's big enough for a letter opener, scissors, a couple of pens, an eraser and some pencils. Every camper should have one.

There are a few things I need uptown tomorrow, including a medication repeat, so I'll get one of those cushions with arm rests. Pretty soon, I won't want to be in the house! But that's the whole idea, roite?

And that's it for Satdee! The sun has disappeared, the air is getting a tad chilly so I might just fire up the a/c for a little while and catch a little telly. Oh yes, just remembered... yesterday I reported that everything in my pot was deceased. I should have borrowed Steve's far more eloquent "dispatched". Gary

May 23, 2014. How about this for a brilliant Aussie invention?

And here, dear Breth, is the result  of my handiwork. Da daaaah!

Don't worry about the nut missing from the bolt behind the TV... that was purely for demonstration purposes and the TV is back inside the house. Anyway, as I expected, the addition of the TV on the wall makes a big difference to the feeling of homeliness. When PJ arrived in May 2012 she was an empty shell. Now she's loaded with MY goodies. Things in the cupboards, things in the closet, things in the cab over, things in the drawers and things scattered around the living space. In the beginning, she felt like someone else's camper. Not any more! She's fast becoming my fav place to be. And Bubba's, of course. Bubba is also a great addition; always there to greet me like a faithful pet when I open the door.

Back from shopping in my bright red Buckeye Ohio State University T which attracted the attention of a bloke at the supermarket who hails from Ohio. His brother still lives there. Anyway, he was all friendly and chatty and hi buddy so I did my best to make toothless convo which, trust me, ain't easy... or impressive, I might add. Hehe. I get the feeling sometimes that people wish they hadn't struck up a convo once they hear me struggling with diction.

I also bought another little prezzie for PJ... a pack of 5 spring bound notebooks. Is that what they call that kinda binding? The one with a wire spring thingy woven through a bunch of holes? Anyway, notebooks are cool... very handy things to have on hand, as well as a few pencils, sharpener and eraser. I like to keep a note book for my shopping list, to which I add things as they occur to me, so there's one hanging on a small plastic hook just above the sink in PJ. All very organized.

From the Beeb: Thailand's military leader has summoned more than 100 key political figures to a meeting in Bangkok, a day after taking power in a coup. Ousted leader Yingluck Shinawatra, the acting PM and his government, and protest leaders were among those told to report in to the army. It was not clear why they were summoned or how many would attend the meeting. Thursday's coup, which followed months of anti-government protests, has drawn widespread international criticism

The UN Security Council has approved sanctions against the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, five weeks after it kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls. It will now be added to a list of al-Qaeda-linked organisations subject to an arms embargo and asset freeze. US envoy Samantha Power said it was an "important step" in support of efforts to "defeat Boko Haram and hold its murderous leadership accountable".

In 1914 optical engineer Oskar Barnack was working for Ernst Leitz when he designed the very first Leica, the Leitz Camera, or so-called Ur-Leica. The small handheld camera, one of the first to use 35mm film, finally went into production in 1925 following a long delay caused by World War One. It went on to revolutionise photography in the hands of the first photojournalists who set out to record the world on the brink of change. Here photojournalist Tom Stoddart, who works with a Leica camera, shares his thoughts on a number of classic photographs as well as the background behind his own favourite image

Veal/pork minz tonight with ginger, honey, lemon, soy, garlic, shallots and sesame. A touch of Asian. Oz is plonk in the middle of SE Asia anyway, so why not?

Those Aussies touring China were on telly again - the ones who visited a restaurant specializing in penis. This time they bought a Sydney lobster from a market and then visited a high-class seafood restaurant where they asked the chef if he would cook it for them in his special way. When it was served, it was still alive, but had been disembowled with its guts arranged on the plate beside it. "I don't think I'm feelling hungry any more," one said, and then mumbled something about the Asian culture's relationship with animals being so different to ours. Yeah. Then they both exited the restaurant.

Another thing they noticed was that one of the (probably 'the') best red wines in Oz, Penfolds Grange Hermitage, was a big favorite amongst the nouveau rich in Beijing. BUT they did something to the wine which would horrify connoisseurs of the regal drop around the world - they added Coca Cola. Sacrilege! And they reckon Aussies are a weird mob.

The only person I've met who has ever added Coke to wine is Lindsay. During his six months many moons ago living on the streeets of Sydney as an alcoholic and rummaging around garbage bins for "half eaten burgers with flies all over them", he used to add Coke to cheap cask wine to make it palatable. He was eventually rescued near death by the Salvos and placed in psychiatric care. During that time Sue had been visiting rellos in England and Lindsay thought she wasn't coming back - which is what drove him to despair - but she did return and spent months looking for him. She finally contacted the Salvos and they were reunited.

And that's it, boils and goils, time for me to depart. BTW, there's nothing 'live' in my pot. It's all well and truly deceased. Gary

May 22, 2014. Bubba B did very well at the dental practice this morning - he's a very brave little er... patient. And I'd like to thank Andrese and Emma for taking extra good care of my little mate, as well as Cherie at the front desk for making the appointment at such short notice.

As to me, I somehow managed to pull a suture last night in bed, which hurt like hell, but I wished it away and went back to sleep. It's still "keeping things together" according to Andrese, so he's happy to leave it the way it is and check it again on Monday. He says it's looking okay, and better than the other side, soooooo fingers crossed that it's a step closer to getting DENTURES!

BTW, when Andrese came into the waiting room he asked for Bubba B, not me. So I had to ask if I could come too.

Another perfect day weatherwise on the Mid North Coast and only a week to winter. Enjoy it while we can, yes? Speaking of months, FL Josh went to the trouble of checking to see when I bought the smoke and CO alarms. It was about mid 2013, and the CO alarm had already chewed through 3 AA batteries by December so the last replacements (that died yesterday) only lasted about 5 months. Seems a bit excessive if you ask me. By the same token, carbon monoxide is known as the "silent killer" so I guess a few bucks is worth the price of staying alive.

Remember that piece of timber I bought, cut to size, for the TV bracket? I thought near enough was good enough but I changed my mind later, and today I bought a piece EXACTLY the right size. So the job is now done. Cost me another six bucks but what the hell. I didn't say anything before cos I figured y'all would reckon I'm a picnic with no sandwiches.

While I was doing the job, the bloke on the radio mentioned a famous musician's birthday is today. He was born not far from Taree at Wauchope, near Port Macquarie. Does Iva Davies ring a bell? No? What about Icehouse? No? How about one of their greatest hits? They're also known around the world for their hit song, Great Southern Land.

And while we're on the topic of bands, OH Barrie wrote to say he went to a concert last night, but not just any concert.

Did you realize that the famous Glenn Miller Orchestra is still around? I didn't, and neither did Barrie: The story is that after Miller was killed in WWII, the  Miller family kept  the Orchestra going , and they survived. I  always  thought that they were gone along time ago. They are on the road for  49 weeks every year.

Well, I'll be buggered (metaphorically). I must let my older bro know... he's a huge GM fan.

And now here's a pic of a Ford Courier similar to mine carrying - according to the GN who posted it this morning on the forum - a facelift for PJ.

Not too crazy about the hubcap. But I think the covered wagon look of the camper is kinda cool, in an eccentric way.

From the Beeb: Attackers have crashed two cars into shoppers at a market in the Xinjiang capital, Urumqi, and thrown explosives, killing 31 people, Chinese reports say. One of the vehicles exploded in the attack, which happened on Thursday morning. More than 90 people were hurt, state-run Xinhua news agency said. The Ministry of Public Security called it a "violent terrorist incident". There are periodic outbreaks of violence in Xinjiang, which is home to the Muslim Uighur minority group.

A 25-year-old woman who went missing 10 years ago in California has told police she was forced to marry her captor and have his child. The unnamed woman contacted police shortly after communicating with her sister on Facebook, officers said. Isidro Garcia, 41, was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of kidnapping, rape and false imprisonment. Police said in a statement he had been living with the girl's family at the time of her disappearance. There are some scary weirdos out there.

Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has warned against further sanctions on Moscow for its role in Ukraine's current crisis. In an interview with the BBC, he said Europe risked playing into the hands of nationalists trying to isolate Russia. Instead, he urged EU leaders to help Ukraine become more stable, saying this could encourage change in Russia. Mr Khodorkovsky was Russia's richest businessman until he fell out with the Kremlin and spent 10 years in prison.

A police officer, rabbi and a nurse were among more than 70 people arrested in the US for allegedly sharing child pornography online. They were charged as part of a five-week operation led by the US Homeland Security department in New York. More than 600 laptops, smartphones and other computer devices were seized as part of the effort. The special agent in charge of investigations at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New York said the sheer volume and professional backgrounds of the alleged child porn traders was "troubling".

The most puzzling thing about child porn is that it doesn't make any sense. Since the advent of the Internet, and the ease with which these deviates can communicate and ply their evil trade, the extent of just how widespread it is has become frighteningly obvious. It's gotta be some sort of psychologic disorder... a seriously sinister one, of course. 

And on that sorry note, it's time to exit stage left - which the sun has already decided to do. Gary

May 21, 2014. Saw a number of 'wet paint' signs this morning that made me realize I've never seen 'dry paint' signs. How's that for a brilliant observation?

Well, the anesthetic wore off last night and the pain was tolerable so I didn't bother with pain killers. The last thing I need is another damn pill! Andrese wants me to take antibiotics though.

And now my ISP is down. Tried all the usual tricks plus rebooting. Still down. Went shopping for meds. Still down. Tried phoning... "the number you have called is congested. Please try again later." You'd think there would be an easier way to find out.

This morning in PJ I heard a beep from the CO alarm. Batteries low. That's 3 x AAs, and they're only... lemme see, can't remember when I bought the smoke and CO alarms but surely it's not 12 months ago. Anyway, I disconnected it, ditched the batteries and put the alarm in the cutlery drawer to remind me to connect it up again when I'm using the gas.

Hmmm, mid afternoon now and the ISP is still down. Must be something pretty serious causing the prob. That means I can't access email, the Beeb or anything else!

For some strange reason while waiting for my prescription at the pharmacy this morning, I thought about nudism and people who like to go naked. The main concern I have with being naked is that there's nowhere to put anything. Have you seen ladies at the checkout open their purse to search for their wallet? It can take ages to find anything buried in there. Blokes, on the other hand, just reach into their back pocket. Too easy. Pockets rule.

Dogs have a similar problem further exacerbated by having no hands. There was a dog in Canberra when I lived there that loved chasing sticks and balls, and catching them in mid flight. Then it would drop the ball at your feet expecting you to throw it again. Yeah, right. Dripping with slimy saliva? Ew! No thanks. I saw a bloke at Blackhead Beach one time with a dog that loved to chase and retrieve, but the bloke was smart enough to have a long-handled plastic scoop. Way to go.

Oh, yes, about comfort as I mentioned yesterday. On my first shakedown, with no experience, I stored outdoor stuff in the living area of PJ after sundown, which made the living space cramped and uncomfortable. WRONG! On day two, I realized that the driver's cab had tons of vacant space, so I stored all the outdoor stuff in there overnight. What a difference! Lesson: Living space inside PJ is reserved for just that - living. There's plenty of room in there provided it's not used for storage, especially of bulky stuff.

I've seen quite a few GNs post comments about possessions being nicked overnight or while they're away during the day if it's not secured or locked up - especially expensive items like generators. So it pays to be cautious. Obviously, security varies from place to place, proximity to town, etc. Camping areas out in the sticks with just a few fellow campers would be pretty safe. Word gets around quickly on the forum so it would pay to check with GNs if you're not sure about a particular camp site. Stuff I can't store will be chained.

Since nothing's happening with the on line department, I've taken the time to put another album of historic autos in everyday situations (plus a couple of a cool 1920s camper) together. The poster on the newsgroup has slowed down somewhat but a few are still dribbling through from time to time.

Ah! Back on line and it's 6.30. Oops! Now their FTP server is down... or still down. Seeya tomorrow - hopefully. Gary

May 20, 2014. TX Greg wrote to ask if the dentist had noticed my oral thrush. Probably not. It's only recent, and also the doc in Port Mac did a pretty thorough investigation which included shining a light to the back of the throat. Anyway, after getting the script from the pharmacy, I was asked if  rinse my mouth after using the inhaler "because, if you don't, that can cause thrush." Ah ha! That explains that, as well my red face hehe.

But FL Josh already knew that: I wonder if your inhaler is a steroid and if so, could it have been instrumental in you getting a candida fungus infection, and if so, maybe rinsing your mouth out after using the inhaler might help improve things.

NC Art sent this pic:

That's weird. If it's true, how do you explain short and long-term memory? Sue, for example, couldn't remember recent stuff but could remember stuff from her youth. Now, if remembering a past event is actually a memory of the last time it was remembered, and not the event itself, then that memory becomes short term and not long term. Yes?

The other night on telly I watched a program about a music therapist who attended nursing homes that cared for people suffering dementia. Patients who spent most of their time in a daze, suddenly focused on specific events and had clear memories of various songs including lyrics as soon as the therapist began to play (he played a variety of string and keyboard instruments and sang as well). Two of the patients had been professional musicians in the past and were able to sing along and even harmonize! One was also able to conduct a coherent convo. Once the therapy session had finished, though, the patients reverted to their normal state of dementia. 

Speaking of remembering, yesterday, as I walked from PJ to the cancer institute entrance at the Port Mac hospital, which has a huge carpark, I was offered a lift in a golf buggy taxi driven by a 'pink lady' (volunteer hospital worker). How cool! Pity I didn't have my camera with me. It was LHD too - Yankee import.

Lately, I've been getting a couple of doses of inner shedness each day. I think PJ and I have finally bonded hehe. There's a feeling of belonging that was missing until recently, and I enjoy just being there and fiddling around with stuff. Maybe Bubba B has something to do with it. It's not quite home sweet home yet, but it's getting there.

Back from Andrese and NEEDLES! I've had a million of 'em over the years and lemme tellya it doesn't get any better. Anyway, Andrese used a drill to get rid of some dead bone, then placed a little piece of gauze over the top and sutured the gum. Now we wait to see what happens. But at least it's doing more than just cleaning and hoping. One good sign is that he produced blood from live bone underneath the dead, which was great news. However, I got into serious trouble for forgetting to bring Bubba B for a photo shoot in the chair.

BTW, Cherie is gonna have a bravery medal waiting for me when I go back on Thursday.

From the Beeb: China has denounced charges brought by the US against five army officers accused of economic cyber-espionage. Beijing said it had "never engaged or participated" in cyber theft and that the charges would damage co-operation between the two countries. China summoned the US ambassador to Beijing over the incident, the state news agency Xinhua reports.

The Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse has pleaded guilty to helping some US clients avoid paying taxes to the US government and agreed to pay a $2.6bn (£1.5bn) fine. It is the biggest bank to plead guilty to criminal charges in the US in more than 20 years. US attorney general Eric Holder said the bank helped US "tax cheats dodge US taxes".

A Canadian firm has courted controversy with its claim to have built a practical quantum computer, a feat thought to be decades away. Now, independent teams are trying to understand how the machine works and whether it really can tap the strange world of quantum physics. For the modest sum of $15m (£9m), a start-up near Vancouver will sell you a black box the size of a garden shed with its logo emblazoned on the side in white neon

A US judge has struck down the US state of Oregon's ban on same-sex marriages, as couples queued up at the courthouses in anticipation of the ruling. Judge Michael McShane said the 2004 voter-approved ban discriminated against gay and lesbian couples. Lawyers for the state refused to defend the ban in court and will not appeal. The ruling is the latest in a series of court cases overturning state bans on gay unions, following a ruling by the US Supreme Court in 2013

Oh yes, you know those cushions with built-in arm rests used as a backrest in bed? No good for PJ's cab over cos the ceiling is too low to sit up in bed but it's ideal for the double bed that converts by lowering the dining table "downstairs". That's where I'll be watching telly anyway. Well, the Reject Shop in town has fake wool ones for 30 bucks. Perfect! It'll be like having a favorite arm chair, and would probably work well with the folding lounger as well. It's very important to be comfortable ya know. It's all very well to rough it for a while camping, but even campers are glad to get home again where they can enjoy all the familiar comforts. So that's how I want PJ to be. I don't want any second thoughts "out there". The Odyssey is not a holiday, and there's no turning back.

And once again, it's time for a wrap. And when the anesthetic wears off? I don't wanna know about it. Aaaaggghhh! Gary

May 19, 2014. Pretty fresh at 7am but it'll warm up later to another bewdiful day on the Mid North Coast. I'll leave at 10am to get to Port Macquarie in plenty of time for my appointment at 11.30am. Meanwhile, Steve W wrote: Those were the days with proper butchers. Still a few of them around but I think it would be good for youngsters to understand that the meat does actually come for previously live animals. If you go into supermarkets these days you would have no idea where it came from. When I was 17, a mate of mine had a mother who had an upside down metal funnel attached to a tree - the chicken was put in the fat end and then its head. sticking through the smaller end, was severed. No running around with its head cut off. I do the same thing with fish that I catch and decide to keep, they should be despatched humanely.

Nice word that - dispatched.

As far as Art’s comments, that sex is "comedic combat” then could I respectfully suggest that he may possibly be doing something wrong!  From my experience, it is far from comedic or combat!! 

Depends on your perspective, Steve... whether you're a participant or spectator. When I was one of several hundred prepubescents at the regular Saturday matinee, and that pesky woman in the movie finally got the hero to kiss her, the whole joint erupted into boos and hisses hehe. Those damn women always spoiled everything! We went to the flicks to see punch-ups and shoot-'em-ups, not scenes of heroes catching girl germs.

In all seriousness, I just can't see God fashioning Adam from a lump of clay and designing the sex act as we know it. No self-respecting Supreme Being could possibly invent such a preposterous gymnastical display in order to go forth and multiply... unless he was drunk. And that's the very thing that upsets the righteous to the point of horror hehe. They expected something more dignified; something in keeping with our "chosen" status, i.e., created in the Almighty's likeness. The mind boggles.

On the other hand, some would argue that God, being a novice in such matters, existing in a genderless environment and having never married or "begat" in the physical sense, got a bit carried away with his experiments.

Back from seeing Dr Jacques Hill and all is well... ish. I have a minor oral thrush problem. Last time I had oral thrush was... never mind... it would involve telling how I got it hehe. And this time? Gunk... I need to brush more but that exposed bone is SENSITIVE!  Anyway, the doc wrote a prescription that will fix it. And it turned out that this was not my last visit - he wants to see me again in 6 months.

Tom Cat Creek turned out to be a rest area and not a camping area, so it seems the council has re-designated the area since Camps Australia listed it as a camp site. There's nothing much there though, so I figure that's not the one Andrew was talking about. Must be further along Moorlands Rd out in the sticks and a long way from the highway. 

Creek? There was a gully with lots of undergrowth so I figured that was it... with possibly a frog or two lurking somewhere. In any case, I had coffee at the picnic table, a pee in the loo (which was clean and tidy) and then toddled off back home. PJ ran very well. On the way to Port, there was an accident being attended to by tow vehicles and various blokes dressed in yellow vests - a tug with a squashed roof and a mangled caravan sitting on the deck of a table top truck. If anyone had been hurt, the ambulance must have been and gone. The road was straight, no wind, light traffic so don't ask me how the driver managed to jack-knife. No shortage of RVs on the highway either, heading in both directions. So there's someone's travel plans ruined (at least for a while). Poor bugger(s).

Also, last night I charged the CB radios and took one with me today. It clips onto the sun visor. I heard a bit of trucky convo so at least I know it works. But it was competing with the radio so I turned if off. CB is only necessary on two-lane backroads used by trucks, or in case of a breakdown in areas where there's no phone coverage. It's a twin handset type so it could also be used when I go bushwalking - give one to a fellow camper and take the other one with me.

Tom Cat may have been a disappointment but at least it was out in the bush with lots of tall gums and fresh air, so I spent time as I sipped my coffee thinking about camping somewhere nice. Gum trees are great cos they drop small limbs, a number of which were scattered about the place providing easy firewood. The drive was also uplifting, sailing along the highway just as I will be once I'm on the road full time. PJ is actually pretty good to drive and handles quite well.

I'll skip the Beeb today cos I've run short of time. Seeya tomorrow. Gary

May 18, 2014. And the lovely weather continues. According to the weather report on telly last night, this is the longest spell of above-average temps and dry weather for May since records began way back in the early to mid 1800s.

The story of the Dam Busters on the GN forum yesterday brought back memories for NC Art: Yeppo, the Brits’ dambusters were fearsome weapons. American bombers tried repeatedly to destroy the Bielefeld Viaduct bridge without much success. Finally a pair of Lancaster bombers buried two big blasters in foundations at one end and the bridge was out of commission for the duration of the war. My bomber crew visited the target three times only to take out bits that were rebuilt in less than a week. Frustrating as hell, but joyful when the Brits finished it off for good.

It ruined Adolf's day, though.

Um, dunno abut Steve’s description of sexual exercises. Actually, it seems more like comedic combat, and hard to describe as graceful. Ballet dance it ain’t. Wingnut’s description of group rutting was hilarious, but hardly beautiful.

Horses for courses, mate. I thought Steve's use of the word 'liberating' was most salient. A similar thing happened to me when I wrote stories about Cody et al. It was all shock, horror to begin with (owing to certain prudish notions left over from my religious upbringing) but eventually became quite normal... or liberating as Steve put it. It certainly put an end to any silly ideas I'd harbored over the years about sex. However, I take your point about comedic combat, Art. Describing something that fits onto a teaspoon as a truckload proves that hehe. Remember From Here to Eternity and the classic beach scene with Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster rolling around passionately together on the sand with the surf crashing all around them? Yeah.

That said, I still think prepubescents have a valid point about sex being a non event. Hormones, like any hallucinogenic substance, are such a disruptive influence. Suddenly we're discarding Captain Marvel comics for National Geographic. How absurd is that? Uh... National Geographic? I'm showing my age.

While I shaved in the bathroom, I heard a woman on the radio describing a memory from 50 years ago of her father killing a chicken in the backyard. She was horrified and ran into the house to tell her mother that "daddy was hurting a chicken". "It's alright, darling," said the mother, "it'll all be over in a minute." The little girl went back to the yard and peered around the corner of the chicken coop to see her father place the chicken's head in a bag and then raise an ax into the air. Down came the blade with a thump. "See?" said the father, "the chicken didn't feel a thing." Then he took the chicken from the bag and placed it on the ground, whereupon the headless bird galloped off around the yard with blood spurting from its neck. "And ever since then," concluded the woman, "I've always been afraid of the sight of blood."

Well, at least her dad put the chicken's head in a bag. My memory of seeing a chicken killed goes back 60 years when the bloke next door placed the chicken's head on a stump in broad daylight and brought the hatchet down. He let go of the chicken which bolted around the yard headless, bleeding profusely. I've since learned that a chicken's brain is situated behind its head, some ways down its neck, which means it was still conscious after having its head severed, and it bled to death. Charming. Next thing I remember was the woman next door in the laundry at the back of the house, plucking the carcass and feathers flying everywhere.

Some years later, on a farm in the country, I was treated to the sight of a sheep having its throat slit, then strung to a rafter and gutted. Next day in the kitchen with its old fashioned fuel stove warming the room on a chilly morning, I was asked if I wanted chops for breakfast. I hesitated a moment, remembering that poor sheep the day before, but then answered in the affirmative hehe. Best damn chops I ever tasted.

Although I was raised as a city boy, we didn't have packaged meat like we have in supermarkets these days. As a kid I often saw our local butcher hang a carcass in full view of the shoppers and carve a section, or place a section on the chopping block (a large tree stump) and use a cleaver to sever the bone. He always wore a butcher's apron and a scabbard full of razor sharp knives plus a metal rod used to keep the knives sharp. It was quite the show each time he withdrew a knife and sharpened it before slicing through a chunk of steak, which he then placed on his open palm to show the customer before wrapping it in white butcher's paper. Those were the days when it was not uncommon to see a butcher's hand with one or two digits missing. Oh yes... and the floor on the other side of the counter was always covered in fresh sawdust every day.

My younger bro started his working life as an apprentice butcher (before deciding to quit for a mechanic's apprenticeship instead). I asked him one time what went into sausages but he refused to tell me. Maybe he took a butcher's solemn oath or something never to reveal the ingredients of the humble sausage. Probably just as well.

One of the things I remember about the grocer next door to our local butcher was the neat way he wrapped a half pound of butter in newspaper, with all the right creases and folds just like a real pro. Actually, two things... the other was the way he filled a brown paper bag with biscuits or whatever and then held the top corners of the bag between the thumb and forefinger of each hand as he twirled it around to close the bag with two little ears on each side. He would also write the contents on each bag or wrapped parcel so you'd know what was inside when you got home. Which reminds me, all the prices were written on a piece of paper, tallied up in a flash, and the total amount pencilled at the bottom. I suppose the grocer must have had a till (although I can't remember it) but the hand written note was quicker and also served as your receipt. Tills didn't have a printer in those days.

From the Beeb: The Chinese government has evacuated more than 3,000 of its nationals from Vietnam following a wave of anti-Chinese riots, Chinese media report. State-run Xinhua news agency says Beijing is arranging charter flights and ships to help more people to leave. At least two Chinese nationals have been killed and 100 injured in recent unrest in Vietnam over a Chinese oil rig drilling in disputed waters

Swiss voters will take part in a referendum on Sunday on whether to introduce what would be the highest minimum wage in the world. If approved, employers would be obliged to pay workers a monthly minimum of 4,000 Swiss francs (£2,680; $4,470). Supporters say the move is necessary for people to live a decent life. But critics argue that it would raise production costs and increase unemployment because young people would find it more difficult to get work

A Sudanese court has sentenced a woman to hang for apostasy - the abandonment of her religious faith - after she married a Christian man. Amnesty International condemned the sentence, handed down by a judge in Khartoum, as "appalling and abhorrent". Local media report the sentence on the woman, who is pregnant, would not be carried out for two years after she had given birth. Sudan has a majority Muslim population, which is governed by Islamic law. "We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death," the judge told the woman, AFP reports.

Yes, folks, it's all very simple. You wanna be a judge? It's all in the book, A Judge's Guide to Being a Robot. You don't need to be very smart, you don't even need to think. Everything you need to know is in the book... step by step instructions on how to do virtually everything, including making life or death decisions. You can also get the Everbody's Guide to Being a Robot. Same book, actually, and the perfect companion for all non-thinkers who seek answers to everything they need to know about living the perfect life, even how to access Paradise with its countless virgins. Get your copy! OUT NOW!

One more sleep till I'm off to Port Macquarie and a lecture about my weight. It'll be my last visit according to the doc. It'll mean I'll be out of remission - provided I'm still cancer free, of course. However, the oral problem of exposed bone persists. Andrese' first attempt at speeding up the healing procedure will take place the following day, Tuesday. Pizza, here I come! I hope. That should take care of the weight issue... that, and all the junk food I can lay my hands on hehe. Imagine that! Pastries again! I absolutely adore anything (almost) wrapped in pastry. Ooooooh, there's sooooo much I'm looking forward to! I'll be able to get back to cooking my fav recipes again, and making chips! The past 18 months have been a culinary wasteland, dear breth. Boring, boring, boring.

Had to laugh at a post by Barnacle Bill on the GN forum where he referred to his slide on as an old Win-a-bagel hehe.

And that brings me to another Waffle wrap, Ls & Gs. Y'all come back now. Gary

May 17, 2014. Satdee again! And another beautiful autumn day in Taree - cool mornings, warm days. On Monday, I'll pack a few vittles to take with me to Port Macquarie and spend a bit of time somewhere to take photographs. Gotta be back next day for a dental appointment. 

Steve W responded last night to my comments about sex and society's attitudes thereto: I assume that your comment "Sex is completely and utterly undignified. The sex act involves being reduced to basic animal behaviour. Get down and boogie. There is absolutely nothing about sex that could possibly be dignified” were not your words, rather your interpretation of what the religious zealots may think. Sex is completely natural - like eating, sleeping, farting and crapping….it all needs to happen. I am hetero-sexual but this is neither here nor there (actually yes it is but lets leave that alone). The act of having sex, making love or whatever has been totally destroyed by the porn industry.  It is a beautiful act between two consenting people and is the most special connection two people can ever have. Myself and my partner have been to swingers clubs in Sydney and elsewhere in the world and I have to say it is the most wonderful experience ever. Seeing couples having sex and then us having sex in front of others is so liberating and you get to understand how important it us for all of us. It is not embarrassing at all. If only we were more open about it, and the Catholic Church especially, recognising the importance of sexual activity we would not have half the issues we are now seeing. Let’s all grow up - sex is great!

Operative words 'grow up'. Yes, Steve, a mature attitude to sex is what's needed, not attitudes steeped in superstition or religious mumbo jumbo. As a kid going to my weekly confession I was taught that thoughts about sex were "impure". Sheesh. I supect that embarrassment about things au naturale stem from a desire to elevate human beings to a non-natural state - one completely distinct from our true ancestors, and where babies are either delivered by stork or found under cabbages.

NC Art, on the other hand, was more concerned about hitching britches: Ditch the belt and get a pair of suspenders [or calluses or whatever]. Woven material with a bit of stretch covers all eventualities. I have a variable waist size and learned long ago that suspenders obviate all manner of tribulations with covering one’s whatevers while keeping your pants from dragging in the dust..

Never thought about suspenders (called braces in Oz). I remember young Josh buying a pair from Vinnies for 50 cents and wearing them to school because they looked "cool". He rather fancied the idea of running his thumbs up and down the inside of the braces during deep contemplation, and then stretching them confidently after having reached a decision. However, like most teen fads, the new fashion statement was short lived. As to me, no offense, Art, but I'm not the straw-chewing, howdy-all-y'all type.

Now I'm gonna get a lecture about famous academics who wore suspenders.

Back from spending a few hours in the sun and getting a good dose of inner shedness. PJ feels more like home every day. When I think back to the early days, during the time she was parked alongside the garage up on stilts, my feeling then was nothing like it is now. Sitting inside felt rather odd, and I still had a zillion concerns about things like height, how she would fit onto the tray of the ute, how she would be anchored, what needed to be done to get the gas and power working, yadda yadda yadda. There's been a helluva lotta water under that particular bridge since then... trips to Sowter Engineering, lots of shopping on eBay and other places, visits from Andrew the auto sparky to name a few. There were also mods to the ute like the helper springs and bull bar, plus various repairs. Sheesh, no way I'd wanna go through all that again. I could speculate about what I would have done had I known what a long and frustrating road I was headed down but that would serve no worthwhile purpose. I often watch shows on telly about people who renovate old houses and castles in Britain who almost invariably go way over budget, discover a miriad of hidden problems and spend far longer on the project than anticipated. No doubt it's a good thing they began as excited optimists. Hehe.

From the Beeb: France is to host a security summit on the threat from Boko Haram Islamists, after they abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria in April. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and other West African leaders will attend the talks in Paris.

Fossilised bones of dinosaur believed to be the largest creature ever to walk the Earth has been unearthed in Argentina, palaeontologists say. Based on its huge thigh bones, it was 40m (130ft) long and 20m (65ft) tall. Weighing in at 77 tonnes, it was as heavy as 14 African elephants, and seven tonnes heavier than the previous record holder, Argentinosaurus. Scientists believe it is a new species of titanosaur - an enormous herbivore dating from the Late Cretaceous period.

Legendary US broadcaster Barbara Walters has retired from a 52-year-career with a last appearance on her daytime show, The View. Walters, 84, began her career in 1962 and was known for her high-profile interviews with broadcaster ABC. She was joined on the programme by Hillary Clinton and media mogul Oprah Winfrey, both frequent Walters interview subjects. Walters will continue to serve as executive producer of the programme.

The Supreme Court of the US state of Arkansas has halted same-sex marriages pending an appeal against a lower court ruling overturning a voter-backed ban. On Friday the court suspended the ruling by a Pulaski County circuit judge, but it was unclear whether his ruling applied to other counties. Since the courthouses opened on Monday, hundreds of gay couples have wed. This is the latest in a stream of cases where same-sex couples have challenged state-level bans on gay marriage

Well, today's weather is delightful. But will it last? Yes, according to the weekly forecast... same conditions for the next 7 days, which includes my trip to Port Mac and a deviation on the return journey to check out Tom Cat Creek camping area for a photo shoot, just for the heck of it. I'll have lunch there. Or is that 'do' lunch?

Here's an interesting 'today in history' post on the GN forum about Prof Julius Sumner Miller (who studied under Einstein) and the story of the 'Dam Busters' who attacked Nazi Germany's dams and munitions factories during WWII.

Where the hell did that sun go? It sets early this time of year and accordingly the temp plummets 10 degrees C. Time to cozy up the joint and catch a bit of telly. I like telly, provided it's informative - interviews, docos, news, current affairs, science and the occasional bit of nonsense like Stephen Fry's QI. So it's hooroo from me, and hooroo from Bubba B. Gary

May 16, 2014. I'm getting used to this Acer and its idiosyncrasies - doesn't take long. But Windoze 7 doesn't have a calendar. Ah ha! But my mobile phone does! I also downloaded jAlbum last night but my registration # didn't work. Oops! Wrong version. All fixed now. I was having a problem with certain aspects of my server's webmail too but managed to resolve that - all by my little smartie pants self.

Steve W is still adamant that I should "graduate" to a Mac. He said he had heaps of PC backups too but loading them into his Mac wasn't a problem. Well, for me, graduating to anything at all is a bit of a problem at the mo hehe, so largish purchases are on hold. This little Acer notebook isn't the greatest comp in the world but at least it does the job - despite being a little quirky.

BTW, TX Greg the other day mentioned several options for connecting the Toshy to a stand-alone screen like the TV, so I checked the user manuals for both the TV and the Toshy and found the types of connectors they use. Too easy! All I have to do now is take those with me to the electronics store to get the right plug!

FL Josh scolded me for even thinking of using chip board to mount the TV bracket, and wrote a giant tome about screws. So I thought, bugger it, and went to a timber yard where I actuallly asked for a piece of timber cut to the specific size I need. Didn't quite work out that way because the timber is of a standard width and depth but it was close enough. It's either pine or maple... can't remember which. And so the job is now done, ladies and genitals. The only problem I had was screwing the hex nuts to the wall without the bracket hehe. Thilly me. But all's well that ends well. Oh, yes, the piece of timber cut to size cost $3. Coulda saved myself a lotta bother by doing that in the first place.

The proposed federal budget in Oz is attracting a lot of criticism that the treasurer is trying to fend off. He said that rises in fees to see a GP amount to "the price of a couple of middies (of beer in a pub)." That it's an insignificant impost on people seeking medical treatment. "The price of a packet of cigarettes is $20," he said, "which is the equivalent of three visits to see a doctor." What the treasurer on a salary of several hundred thousand dollars a year doesn't understand is that pensioners and other fixed low income people like me don't buy middies in a pub or smoke tailor made cigarettes. I've often heard bureaucrats explain away a rise in price or tax as "no more than a cup of coffee". Well, a cup of coffee for me is less than 50 cents. I don't buy coffee in coffee shops or cafes. A middie (or small bottle of beer) for me costs $1.60 not $3.20 in a pub. 

If I want to spend money on "luxuries" like a cordless drill, a decent camera, etc, then I don't spend it on pubs, cafes and cinemas. I'm no scrooge but I've learned a thing or two about stretching a buck. Rarely do I shop without saving a considerable amount on specials. Politicians and other highly paid bureaucrats have no idea what it's like to live on a tight budget of less than $20K a year. Even a humble back bencher gets almost $200K a year.

I don't begrudge them, not at all. But I wish they'd do their research properly when they refer to a few bucks as being "the price of a cup of coffee or a middie" and add "in a cafe" or "in a pub" respectively. And that's another thing that bugs me; advertisements that describe something as "affordable". To whom? Or "conveniently located". To what? Bah humbug.

Not sure if the Beeb is having problems or if it's my connection but I can't access it. So what now? Back to things fiscal on a poor man's means. I guess it's a little like those artists who make stunning creations out of junk, or drift wood, or other seemingly useless material. There's a great sense of satisfaction in "earning" something rather than just whipping out the credit card and buying it. PJ, for example, is a great source of pride and joy for me. But more than that, it's the result of dogged determination as well as a vindication of what is possible if you try hard enough and refuse to give in. BUT... but, but, but, but the icing on the cake is yet to come, folks. The great adventure, the piece de resistance, the culmination of all the blood, sweat and tears... the Odyssey itself! PJ is but the means to an end, yes?

From the Beeb: China says its oil rig will continue drilling in contested waters in the South China Sea, despite deadly anti-Beijing riots in Vietnam. Top General Fang Fenghui said Beijing could not "afford to lose an inch" of territory, blaming Hanoi for stirring up trouble in the region. Speaking in the US, he also warned that America's efforts to increase its focus on Asia were fuelling tensions.

As the drugs used in lethal injections become scarce amid an EU embargo, some US politicians are suggesting alternative methods to execute criminals. Could they turn to an option seldom used since the end of the Civil War - the firing squad? Death by firing squad is rare in the United States - the last execution using this method was just four years ago in Utah. Since then, more than 150 people have been put to death by lethal injection.

Three friends in New York found $40,000 (£24,000) in a second-hand couch they had bought, then tracked down the owner and returned the cash. Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo bought the furniture from a charity shop for $20 and found the cash in several envelopes. The woman said her daughter had sold it while she was in hospital for a surgery,unaware what was inside.

Hmmm. If I found thousands of dollars stuffed inside Bubba B would I track down the previous owner? I'd better not say. Maybe FL Josh knows what the legal/moral implications are.

A top EU court has ruled Google must amend some search results at the request of ordinary people in a test of the so-called "right to be forgotten". The European Union Court of Justice said links to "irrelevant" and outdated data should be erased on request. The case was brought by a Spanish man who complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google's search results infringed his privacy.

Meanwhile, I've put an end to the plummeting pants problem. Called into Rivers today and bought a new belt. $29 was a bit more than I would have liked to pay but it's genuine top quality 1.5" hide with a quality buckle. It was the only plain one left... all the others were covered in shiny studs. Not for this kid. It's 34" (87cm) but I've had to do it up to the last hole which makes my waist probably about 30 (hips are wider though). Anyway, at least I don't have to constantly hitch up the damn duds to avoid being nabbed for indecent exposure.

Which leads me to another of my pet hates. What on earth is indecent about a person's dangly bits? It's society's obsession with all things sexual again. Why are words like fuck, cunt, prick, etc deemed foul, coarse, filthy, disgusting, etc? Because they describe dangly bits or what dangly bits are used for? Are they saying that anything related to sex is depraved? I really don't understand why some people find those words offensive. Dumb, yes, extraneous, yes, inappropriate, yes, but as long as society keeps getting its knickers in a knot about such things, kids will keep using those words to upset their elders and to bond with their peers. And dumb blokes will keep using them because they think it makes them macho. And dumb women will use them because they believe in gender equality.

I do, however, understand why the righteous and religious among us find most things of a sexual nature embarrassing. Sex is completely and utterly undignified. The sex act involves being reduced to basic animal behaviour. Get down and boogie. There is absolutely nothing about sex that could possibly be dignified, except perhaps a kiss on the cheek. Therefore matters pertaining to sex are regarded as "private" and, in many case, sinful. There ya go. How absurd.

Oh well, roll with the punches, I say. No point in getting stressed about the thing we can't change. Like time. And right now, the clock says time for a wrap. Gary

May 15, 2014. Roite, back from Andrese and an irrigation. Emma was also there with the mini Hoover and suggested I bring BB to the surgery next Tuesday for a photo shoot in the chair. What a great idea! On the Monday, I'm due in Port Macquarie to see the oncologist. So it's all happening. And yes, BB met with Andrese and Emma's ecstatic (almost) approval.

FL Josh wrote: I know what you mean about how even though Kerry Packer was clinically dead for 8 minutes and didn't have a near death experience, which proves they don't exist, those who believe they do occur refuse to listen to him.  I know of a similar situation where a guy slept for a full 8 hours and didn't have a dream, so he has been spreading the word that people don't dream, yet those who believe people do have dreams refuse to listen to him.  How can people be so stupid?

There ya go. We all have the ability to rationalize what we believe, which explains why opinions exist (as distinct from facts).

Oh, the reason your screw sheared in half in the old cutting board wood was not because the wood was too hard but because the hole you drilled for the screw was too small.  So don't rule out another piece of hard wood for your project.

I didn't drill a hole for the screw, Josh. The hex screws are self tappers. According to my reckoning, the hole the hex screw drilled for itself would have been roughly about the right size. Hehe. Then again, what the bloody hell would I know?


TX Greg found a companion bear for BB. Let me just put it this way, the companion is unsuitable for publication here. Tsk, tsk.

And there's my little marble vase from the Sallys with a few bits from the garden and BB standing, er, sitting guard to make sure none of his mates pees on it. The vase is velcroed to the bench to keep it from becoming a missile but is still removable for cleaning.

From the Beeb: National September 11 Memorial Museum opens in New York. The National September 11 Memorial Museum tells the stories of the more than 2,700 people who died in the city when jet aeroplanes hijacked by Islamist terrorist destroyed the World Trade Center. The BBC took a tour before the official opening and spoke with a relative of one of the victims as well as the museum's director.

In New Zealand's southern province of Otago, a group of recreational fishermen are about to go on their regular hunt for shellfish. It is autumn here and they will be diving into waters so cold that full-body wetsuits are needed. But it is not just any mollusc that they're after. They are looking for a humble sea snail that has become one of the world's most expensive seafood items.

A young boy had a lucky escape when a neighbour's dog attacked him while playing on his bike. The family cat pounced on the dog and chased him off. Katy Hastings reports.

Roite, back from a recycled building materials place just over the bridge where the bloke gave me a piece of scrap board for free. It's chip board but looks and feels pretty strong and is quite heavy, so I'll use bolts, nuts and washers instead of hex screws to make sure the bracket has a secure and permanent grip. The board will be easy to cut to size with a hand saw too, so there's my job for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Steve W responded to my computer woes with his version of a fix-all: I had been a Windows user for 20 something years and then I saw the light…..or should I say, the MacBook Air….it is everything that a ‘puter” should be and then some. It is amazing, once you get used to the differences and it has no hard drive, so boots in a flash (and no moving parts), and certainly doesn’t get attacked anywhere near Windows PC’s and battery life is amazing (cause it doesn’t have to spin a hard drive). Best thing I ever bought and Apple support is great - if you have an Apple store nearby You can actually deal with a real human (well, a Geek) but you can get any problems sorted there and then - and all free.

Just a thought.

Yep, there's an Apple store in town but I have backups that go back over a decade so I'm loathe to change from a PC to Mac.

On QI last night, Stephen Fry was talking about Cockney rhyming slang and gave a number of examples including septic tank for Yank, which is broken down to septic. But, there's more! If you don't like Americans what are you called? Have you worked it out? Ready? Antiseptic. There ya go. I'm not sure what rhyming slang for Aussie is. How about Bondi Cozzie? Cozzie is a shorted version of bathing costume. So if a couple of Aussies where approaching you, you could say here comes a couple of Bondis. Hehe. Actually, Bondi might be a bit obvious. Cronulla Cozzies would be better. Here comes a couple of Cronullas. Sounds funnier too.

Well, after that little bit of in-depth profundity, I'd better toddle off to telly land and think about rustling up a few vittles. Gary

May 14, 2014. Yesterday was not fun! I figured the old Toshy was on the way out after the screen went black the other day. I panicked and backed up all the latest stuff on the external HDD. Then the Toshy came good again... for a day or two. So now I'm wondering if I should get a new screen for the old girl or spend the money on a new machine.

TX Greg, my unofficial techie, wrote: Oh dear, I take it there's been some mishap with the Toshiba. Hooking it up to a TV would make more sense than buying a stand alone screen. I don't think you can use a USB to hook to the the TV. It would be a different type cable like a S-Video... Once you have the right cable, you will also need to change the display settings in the control panel.

Good ol' Greg. Anyway, yesterday started out okay. My new spare battery for the cordless drill arrived, free of charge. Coolio! Then, after Steve W wrote to suggest I go to Bunnings and check their offcuts bin in the timber dept, I did just that but there was nothing there I could use. However, I did buy a box of small dowels as FL Josh suggested. The prob with those is that the holes are split and rough at the entry points because of the veneer facing which is some kinda plastic. So I figured brass drawing pins (that more or less match the color of the veneer) inserted into the dowels to hide the rough edges would work. Dozen madder anyway cos it'll all be hidden by the TV once it's mounted. Bunnings had mushroom plugs as well but the necks are too big.

So then I toddled off to the Sallys op shop for the breadboard I spotted the day before. GONE! A woman overheard me talking about it and said she saw a breadboard at the C of E op shop around the corner so I went there. GONE! Grrrrr. So I'll just have to wait till something turns up. Josh suggested a lumber yard but been there, done that. That's where I got the first piece of timber that broke the hex screw. Besides, those places are always busy and the last thing they need is some old geezer wanting an offcut.

TX Greg wrote: BB is adorable :) Reminded me of the old TV show Alf... Wonder if you could find a small bushman hat for BB. That would be cute!!!

FL Josh wrote: Your new friend, BB, is what he is and it doesn't matter whether we want to label him a monkey or bear or what, but that being said, he might be a bear.  Below is a site listing a 15 Inch Plush 'Luv to Cuddle" Bear and I have attached a picture comparing BB to it.

Well, I figure BB is probably a bear cos he has footpads and I don't think monkeys do. However, dozen madder cos I'll name him Bubba B. I can still use BB for short. So it's official... Bubba B. Interestingly, most plush bears I've seen don't have footpads, and one of BB's most attractive features, I think, is his tootsies. I gave Stan the Lawn Man a look today and even he (grumpy old butch fart that he is) was impressed.

I bet Lindsay is crushed at BB's arrival on the scene as that pretty much closes the door on you inviting him to come along on the Odyssey!!!

Yes, Josh, I'm afraid so. As much as I'll miss hearing Lindsay's farts and sniffles echoing throughout the house, BB will be my exclusive choice of travelling companion. 

Oh, yes, another thing that bummed me about yesterday was phoning my ISP. You are caller #10 in the queue. Please hold the line and a Spin representative will be with you shortly. In the meantime, don't go to the loo, don't answer the front doorbell, don't answer the other phone, don't try to type one handed, don't grab a snack from the kitchen, in fact sit there like a zombie with the phone to your ear listening to the same boring music we've been playing for decades and stay put until you're told otherwise.

I'd been receiving reminders about an unpaid overdue bill for a week, via email, snail mail, phone and mobile phone, so I resorted to phoning them to explain. As it happened, I had paid the bill but into the wrong account. Took ages to discover what had happened, with lots of "I'll just check. Won't be a moment. Hold the line, please."

And speaking of internet and computer frustrations, NC Art wrote: My sympathies on the keyboard fiasco. Been there, done that! My huge, roomy keyboard died and my son replaced it with a cute little trick…small, sexy, and useless. My arthritic fingers regularly type gibberish causing deletions, backspacing and general discomfort. A pox on the entire breed!

Now, what's Lazarus got to do with anything? Well, I was thinking last night about "the meanng of life" and how Kerry Packer was clinically dead for 8 minutes before being revived and telling the whole world there was nothing "on the other side". Yet, those who believe the opposite, refused to listen. I can understand why. Human beings, in my opinion, are driven by greed. They're not happy about being just another link in the evolutionary chain so they figure there has to be something more; something on "the other side". Human beings are far too important to be a disposable means of ensuring the continuation of the species. They want to be rewarded. Which brings me to Lazarus. There he was with his brand new gold-plated harp and duck-down cloud, enjoying the pleasures of Paradise and looking forward to spending eternity in total bliss, when he was rudely interrupted by Jesus who dragged him back to life for the sake of one lousy miracle just to impress the faithful. Hello? If I were Lazarus I would have been livid. But there's no mention of that in the Bible. Go figure.

Hmmm, now I've lost internet connection. Tried to reconnect many times but no go. I wonder if my ISP's transfer of funds from the wrong account to the right account yesterday was relayed to the proper department, or if I'm still regarded as having an unpaid bill and have been disconnected. "You are caller #20 etc, etc..." No, there's no way I'm gonna go through that again, so I've arranged for them to call me when I'm 1st in the queue.

So now I can't do the Beeb, and I can't shower and shave cos I've gotta be here to take their call. What a bloody pain! I also can't answer email off line cos I use Spin's email client instead of Windows so it's only available on line... saves downloading possible viruses or other nasties to my comp. What was Art saying about a pox?

Okies, the prob was none of the above but the fact that this Acer hadn't been used for a long time (on line) and spent ages yesterday being updated by Microsoft Windows and Avast. According to the Spin techie (a lovely woman) all that reconfiguration can upset the wireless dongle. So all it took to solve the prob was a reboot.

From the Beeb: Ukraine is due to host round-table talks in Kiev as efforts continue to find a negotiated settlement to the crisis in the east of the country. The talks will include members of the interim government and regional leaders, but pro-Russian separatists have refused to take part. Party poopers.

Children have been farming US tobacco fields for generations. But a new report from Human Rights Watch says the practice is dangerous and in need of reform. It may be later than usual because of the harsh winter, but just as they have done for generations, people are planting tobacco across the vast coastal plains of North Carolina. The crop put this state on the economic map, but methods used to farm tobacco here have now drawn the gaze of an international human rights group.

Australia's government aims to nearly halve its budget deficit over the next year through a combination of tough spending cuts and tax increases. In his speech to parliament, Treasurer Joe Hockey said "the age of entitlement is over" and that "the days of borrow and spend must come to an end". Under their plans, the deficit is forecast to fall from $50bn Australian dollars ($47bn; £28bn) to $30bn. It's the talk of all the Oz media today.

I think our current debt is about 20% of GDP, which is miniscule compared to other leading economies but, nonetheless, the government tells us that Oz is in dire fiscal straits and we need to tighten the purse strings.

There's a new program on telly about a couple of Aussie scallywags visiting China. "Everything you see here that was built during the past two decades comes from a hole in Australia." One Chinese bloke was saying that a shipload of iron ore arrives from Oz every day. One of the Aussies said if his estimates are correct, the ore that has been shipped to China from Oz during the past 20 years is the equivalent of shaving a meter of soil off the top of Tasmania. Or was it three meters? Whatever, it was a bloody lot of ore!

Anyway, the guys visited an exclusive restaurant in a large Chinese city that specialized in a particular part of an animal's anatomy. That's all they had on the menu. Penis. However, you could choose from a variety of penises - ox, sheep, mule, pig and even a Russian dog. "Musta been a bloody big dog," one of the Aussies remarked as the two of them inspected the range of cooked appendages on a plate. However, depite being totally intrigued by the specialties of the house, they declined to sample them. Then one explained that certain foods in Chinese and other oriental cultures are not consumed for their culinary appeal but for their "medicinal" qualities. Earlier, they had been invited by a street vendor to try live scorpions impaled on a skewer but declined those as well. Sheesh. And I thought chow mein was adventurous.

Back from a little shopping AGAIN... just a few top-ups and two blocks of Cadbury Caramelo chocolate with soft centers, on spesh @ 2 for $7. Mmmmm. Gotta fill out a bit to stop my jeans from slipping down... or buy a belt with an extra notch. It's very awkward when  I'm carrying two bags of groceries.

Excuse me, could you hold my bags while I pull my jeans up?
Why don't I just pull your jeans up?
No worries. Er, while you're down there...

Now where was I? Dozen madder. It's time once again for me to bid thee hooroo. Gary

May 13, 2014. It's been a bastard of a day with everything going wrong. It's late now so I'll explain tomorrow. Nothing tragic just computer stuff. I'm using the little Acer now with some difficulty... the keys don't match the Toshiba and my fingers keep hitting the wrong keys. The Toshiba needs a new screen but it'll have to wait till I can afford it. To keep you amused, here's a link from NC Art to a page of WWI photos: …and this was the war to end all wars. Wonder what happened? …….!


May 12, 2014. FL Josh wrote: I was able to look up "barney" - a heated argument, and "op shop" - a store with a peculiar odor, but couldn't find a thing as to what a "ham radio tragic," is.  I tried finding a definition for "tragic" used as a noun and found nothing, not even in Aussie slang dictionaries.  In the Waffle of November 2, 2013, you referred to me as a "rap tragic," and I had no idea what that meant.

Cody often used the word 'barney' to descibe altercations of the fisticuffs kind. And 'op shop' is simply a shortened version of opportunity shop such as those run by the Salvation Army and St Vincents (Vinnies). As to tragic, well, that's a word that describes anyone with a keen interest in something. Cricket fans are cricket tragics, Steve W is a piscatorial tragic, Cody was a surfing tragic, amateur ham radio operators are ham radio tragics. They're the guys who have a transmitter/receiver using shortwave (I think) in their homes to make contact with other tragics from around the world. According to comments posted on the GN forum, there's no shortage of CB tragics on the roads as well. And rap tragics? I was being facetious.

To patch deep holes on wood, you can use a dab of glue and a fluted dowel pin. This link is for furniture buttons and screw hole plugs and may be what you are looking for. Also, nice for dressing up screws in wood are cabinet screw covers. Thanks for those links, Josh. Screw hole plugs are what I need... plastic ones.

My appointment with Andrese is not until 10.45am, which is 2 hours later than normal. He's got a big job on this morning. What on earth inspires anyone to become a dentist? I must remember to ask him. My regular visits to this clinic in Taree have provided an opportunity to get to know the staff there quite well. In the past, it's been the usual quick visit, in the chair and out again, without ever getting to really know the person. In fact, over the years, I never went to the same dentist twice... and avoided them whenever possible hehe.

Next week, it's off to Port Macquarie to see the oncologist for the final time, according to him. My time there for the gastronomy tube op and the radiation therapy is something I won't forget in a hurry. Nonetheless, it all seems very distant, as does my time in RPA for the cancer op. 

Back from seeing Andrese, and asking him why he became a dentist. "I was always interested in medicine but I'm not clever enough to be a 'real' doctor." Hmmm. Not exactly an answer to inspire confidence in patients but at least it was honest hehe. He was also advised by another dentist that dentistry was easier with more regular hours and time off. And, of course, no home visits. I gather the pay ain't too shabby either.

Next Thursday, I'm booked in for another irrigation, and the following week, the day after visiting the oncologist at Port Macquarie, Andrese is gonna "numb me up" for the first of the exposed bone excavations under anesthetic. He'll also suture the gum to see if the two sides knit. Sooooo, this could be the beginning of some real progress! If all goes well, the whole procedure should be completed in time for my visit to Sydney to see the specialist in September. 

I've been out again, this time for a bit of shopping and to check if the Sallys' Op Shop had a bread board or piece of timber I could use. Nope. But, I got sucked into buying something else. Have I ever told you I'm a cushion man? Love cushions, so I couldn't resist getting three, including a roll cushion for lumbar support - with tassles, no less! AND THEN... I found the piece de resistance! My new mascot! My little travelling companion for the Odyssey! He was stuffed in box of soft toys and when I spotted him it was love at first sight! In fact I'm already feeling guilty about leaving him in PJ all alone. Haven't figured out a name yet. How about Banana something? Bubba Banana? BB for short? Any suggestions? I think he's just sooooo cute! He's all soft and cuddly too.

Isn't he just adorable? My new best friend. Hang on... he's a monkey, right? Not a lion? It's a bit hard to tell. Any soft toy experts out there? It's not a major concern but if I'm gonna call him Bubba Banana then he needs to be a monkey. The last thing I wanna do is make him psychotic.

Anyway, I knew this was gonna happen... that I would be in an op shop somewhere rummaging through stuff and suddenly spot my perfect travelling companion. I've been eyeing soft toys everywhere I go, including the dental clinic reception area where there's a boxful for kids to play with. There's a really cute moo cow but it's not a patch on BB. BB has that something special!

Oh yes, the cushions. Not bad for $12 the lot, yes? And I especially like that roll cushion with the tassles. BB was all of $4 so I did well even though I didn't find a bread board. Hang on a tick! They did have a bread board but it was a tad too large, with a metal handle at one end. $4. Dummy me! I shoulda bought that one and swapped it for the one in the kitchen that Lindsay uses, which is about the right size. Yeah? I'll go back tomorrow and get it. Boom boom.

I wonder if OH Jace spotted the little Airstream caravan in the corner of the top pic. That was a prezzie back in the early naughties.

From the Beeb: Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region have claimed a resounding victory in a "self-rule" referendum, saying 89% voted in favour. In Luhansk, another eastern region, the results - also expected to show a strong backing - will be released soon. BBC reporters at polling stations spoke of chaotic scenes, no voting booths in places and no electoral register. Ukraine called the vote a "criminal farce" organised by Russia. The EU and US also said the polls were illegal.

I suppose one could draw a parallel between the situation in Ukraine and the one in Oz, where half the pop here wants a republic and the other half wants to remain a Constitutional Monarchy loyal to Britain and HRH Elizabeth II as head of state. But we're much more civilized about how we resolve disputes.

The governor of Nigeria's Borno state says he has information on the whereabouts of about 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist group Boko Haram. Governor Kashim Shettima said he had passed reports of the sightings of the girls to the military for verification. Mr Shettima added that he did not think the girls had been taken across the border to Chad or Cameroon.

Formal agreements for plans to build a new railway line in East Africa with Chinese help have been signed in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. It is to run from Mombasa to Nairobi and will extend eventually via Uganda to Rwanda and South Sudan. In Kenya, the line is to replace a narrow-gauge track built more than 100 years ago during British colonial rule. China is to finance 90% of the cost of the first stage, put at $3.8bn, with work carried out by a Chinese firm.

Not sure who invented the steam engine but there was a time when it was used soley as a stationary power source in factories. Then the Brits got the bright idea of adding wheels to the engine, and steel tracks for it to run on. The railway line was born, and it revolutionized travel, opening up vast areas of wilderness, particularly in countries like the US and Straya. 

Well, I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am about BB hehe. My new best friend! Imagine that, we'll be travelling mates for years to come, visiting all kinds of cool places together. I'll never be alone again. Isn't that exciting? Meanwhile, it's time for me to do my disappearing trick again. Oh... and I bought those really thin rice noodles (vermicelli) today instead of the regular wheat ones for something a little different with my minz. Speaking of which, I'm getting hungry. Gary

May 11, 2014. TXGreg commented on 'round-headed': Well I'm surprised you didn't say mushroom head, hahaha. I think you're referring to what we call carriage bolts... Oops, I spoke too soon, they DO call them mushroom head in Europe :)

Nope, the bolts I used have the domed head with Phillips screw but not the square neck. Dozen madder. Greg also commented on OH Jim who wrote after reading The Codeman: I see he's from Madeira, Ohio. What a small world. Did you tell Jim you have a closet full of "Ohio" T-shirts :) I forgot! I did think about OH Jace but forget about Sean being in charge of wardrobe. I'm wearing one of Sean's Ts now but it's a London one.

As to a new piece of timber, it struck me that a peruse of the local Op Shops might net me an old kitchen cutting board. I'll try it. Even the used furniture stores might have something. There's one in the kitchen that I'd gladly sacrifice for a more worthy cause but Lindsay uses it. Just now I took another look in the outside laundy and garages hoping to find a suitable bit of timber but no. There's a few pieces of chipboard but I don't trust that stuff. However, during my search I found a discarded sponge mop in excellent condition that will be useful for washing PJ, so it's in one of the storage bins.

Incidentally, OH Jim is a ham radio tragic. So is the bloke just down the road who bought my Falcon ute, which I still see cruising around town and looking good.

Meanwhile, a GN couple posted pics of their overturned caravan and damaged tug. Not a pretty sight! I've never been keen on the idea of towing anything. I appreciate the advantages but definitely prefer non-articulated. I'll just have to make sure I haven't forgotten anything in town when I set up camp. Either that or be close enough to ride the bike to the local store.

From the Beeb: Thousands of unidentified remains from the 9/11 attacks have been returned to "Ground Zero" in a solemn ceremony. Fifteen vehicles took the remains from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to a repository under the World Trade Center site. The move has split opinion among the families of victims, with some holding a protest at the memorial site.

Australian police have fined a gambling tycoon and a TV executive following a public brawl in Bondi Beach that sparked a tabloid frenzy. Billionaire James Packer and David Gyngell were cited for "offensive behaviour", which carries a fine of A$500 ($467, £276) if uncontested.

That story made headlines here because of who was involved in the fracas rather than the fracas itself. A woman commentator on The Drum espoused a completely different perspective on the incident when she described it as "an act of love". Packer and Gyngell grew up together. and have been lifelong mates. According to the woman commentator, one was desperately trying to save the other from "making a decision that would ruin his life", and the result was a major barney which just happened to take place in the street outside Packer's Bondi home. Hehe. It made me think of the barneys Code had with Mark, and Steve too, that ended with everyone patching things up and being mates again. If the woman is right, and I suspect she is, Packer and Gyngell are no doubt laughing about their altercation, and will for many years to come.

Took a little walk down the road to Rivers Clearance Warehouse and bought a pair of jeans ($30), casual cotton pants (kinda like a gabardine fabric - marked down from $20 to $8) and a button-up shirt with button-down collar ($12). Thought I might get a cheaper deal on the jeans but I'm not complaining. Rivers quality is very good. I haven't worn jeans since losing my teeth and heaps of weight. I figured I'd be back to normal weight by now so I've been running around in track pants, with elastic waistbands - the only thing that stops them from plummeting down around my ankles. But the new jeans fit well, with room for a bigger tummy at some stage. So do the pants. The shirt will be for those times on the Odyssey when I need to dress up in my "Sunday best". The $8 pants have a fault in the dye on one side where there's a faded patch, but who's complaining?

And no, they're not the latest skinnier-than-skinny legs. I wore those as a teen, and remember my father telling me that he wore 'stovepipes' when he was a kid. I've seen local kids wearing those skintight jeans which, to me, look sooooo absurd! Not long ago baggies were in, and waistbands worn halfway down the backside. If kids think it's cool to be a clone of their peers that's their problem, and they're welcome to it. Fashion schmashion.

Everytime I see those bony anorexic models doing their stare-straight-ahead, robotic perambulations on a catwalk, I think to myself, "you've gotta be kidding me, roite? Like do you have any idea of just how ridiculous you look?"

Remember Dean Martin's 'That's Amore'? Well, here's Al Mahan's version... 'That's A Moron'.

On a tad more serious note, to fill in your retirement time with useful activities while enjoying the companionship of like-minded oldies, join a men's shed. The results can be very worthwhile.

On this day 1811 -  The original Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, are born. A most interesting short article posted on the GN forum.

So there ya go, I couldn't resist giving myself a few prezzies this weekend... the heated throw rug, jeans, pants and a shirt. Naughty me! Well, it keeps me from becoming a wizened old grump hehe. That's my excuse. I saw a few other things at Rivers I'd like but... maybe another time. Actually, there's a whole bunch of stuff in the wardrobe that'll get the royal heave-ho before the Odyssey - stuff I never wear and never will, like shoes I bought in the mid '80s hehe, and my one and only suit that's been feeding the moths. Once I hit the road, it'll be jeans, Ts and thongs (flip flops) almost exclusively. And if I happen to be somewhere all on my lonesome, well... hehe... I ain't sayin'.

Meanwhile, I'm gonna skedaddle. Stay noice. Gary

May 10, 2014. 'Round-headed' is how I described those bolts I used yesterday as fillers for PJ's extraneous drill holes. Round-headed? It wasn't until later as I prepared dinner that "domed" popped into my head. Grrrr.

Steve W wrote: I was most interested in your spelling of Smidgeon……had never seen it in writing that way, so had to check….and of course you are correct. However this is Oz, so “smidgin” is more possibly appropriate unless trying to get up the noses of those Americans who have taken a perfectly good language and then defenestrated it! Oh, I love that word, but not often you can use it so take every opportunity I can.

Well, I'm fairly sure I read somewhere that American English is actually the English used in Britain when Europeans first settled North America in 1492 (whereas Oz didn't become a British colony until 1788). Back in the 15th and 16th centuries, so I understand, words like 'color' and 'labor' didn't have the 'u', which came later (as did other changes to traditional English words) to compete with the French language. The Poms were jealous so they not only tarted up their own language by adding extra letters but also pinched a good deal of French words, as well as German, for use back in jolly olde. Another interesting linguistic tid bit was the common practice in British upper classes of dropping the 'g' in 'ing' as so many Americans do these days, especially in song lyrics. 

Personally, I think American spelling, in most cases, makes more sense than British. For example, catalog versus catalogue. And no one will ever convince me that 'chicken' should be pronounced 'chickin'.

Back from shopping for a few things including hex screws. I also popped into Aldi and saw heated throw rugs for $30. Hello? Cheaper than eBay! 9 heat settings, 10 timer settings, micro fleece, piped edges, safety auto shut off after 12 hours, overheat protection, detachable LED controller, machine washable, 2m power cord, 1 year warranty and comes in a sturdy box. I'm delighted! Aldi opened a couple of years ago in Taree but today was the first time I'd shopped there. Most impressive... and busy! I also bought pruning shears on spesh for $7 (my old pair is stuffed).

Back from completing the TV bracket job in PJ. NOT! There I was using a ratchet spanner to tighten the longer hex screw when it suddenly became easier. Hello? Upon investigation, I discovered that the screw had snapped half way along the shaft. Oops! I don't know my own strength. So now the bracket is held by one long hex screw and three shorter ones. It's that Queensland red gum that's the problem. It's just too bloody tough. So there goes a perfectly good kitchen cutting board... now sawn in half, full of holes, and with half a screw shaft buried inside. It'll do for now, but I'll keep an eye out for a more suitable piece of timber and do the whole bloody job again. Grrrr. However, it hasn't been a totally useless exercise. I've learned a thing or two about measuring and marking, positioning, drilling and bracing. And timber.

From the Beeb: US First Lady Michelle Obama is to deliver her husband's weekly presidential address to condemn last month's abduction of Nigerian girls. First ladies normally refrain from outspoken foreign policy remarks, but Mrs Obama has been a vocal campaigner for the release of more than 200 girls.

I heard a bloke on talk radio the other day explaining why we don't hear "moderate" Muslim leaders publically criticizing or condemning the actions of Muslim terrorists and fanatics. He said it's because there is no such thing as "moderate" Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims don't resort to terrorism, of course, but he said all Muslims have a common purpose, which is to ultimately convert the entire human race to Islam and introduce Sharia Law. It's that common purpose amongst Muslims that prevents the moderates from criticizing the crazies. He says in some European countries where there are large Muslim encalves, Sharia law has already been introduced despite being a mere 10% of the population. Here in Oz it's 2%.

For people like you and me who live in democracy that respects a person's right to practice the religion of their choice, and the freedom to do so in a tolerant and free society, it's difficult to single out any one religion and accuse it of being subversive and dangerous. By doing so, we risk becoming religous bigots. Under the circumstances, it's quite a conundrum.

Keepod: Can a $7 stick provide billions computer access? The USB flash drive is one of the most simple, everyday pieces of technology that many people take for granted. Now it's being eyed as a possible solution to bridging the digital divide, by two colourful entrepreneurs behind the start-up Keepod. Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi aim to combat the lack of access to computers by providing what amounts to an operating-system-on-a-stick.

#BBCtrending: Film lamenting social media goes viral. A video which slates social media has become a massive hit on YouTube, with more than 32 million views. The video entitled 'Look Up' claims that we've become "a generation of idiots, smart phones and dumb people" and are "slaves to technology". It's been lauded and criticised online with some finding it inspirational and other saying it's just sentimental rubbish

I must say, I don't do the Facebook or Twitter thing, and I wouldn't call my occasional comment on the GN Forum, Red Bubble or other blogs 'social media'. Besides, my life is not governed by what other people think or don't think, and I'm not the least bit interested in mounting a crusade. What the hell would I crusade about? I'm too dull and boring for that hehe. Not to mention lazy.

Just read the instructions for the heated throw rug. A thousand DON'Ts. About 3 sentences are devoted to DOs. Aldi often has super specials on cool things like tools, electricals, gardening, camping, clothing, stationary and all kinds of stuff... as well as groceries and liquor. GNs on the forum from states where Aldi doesn't have a presence are always bitching about not being able to shop there. That's one of the great things about Taree. It's only a regional city of 20,000 (about 50,000 in the greater Taree council area) but it has Aldi, Bunnings, Woolworths and Big W, Coles and Target, IGA, all the major banks, Centrelink, Medicare, Roads and Maritime, and a major hospital. Not too shabby for the sticks.

Well, it's about time I shot through like a Bondi tram and warmed up the telly. Oops! Nearly forgot... here's a thread on the GN forum with pics of bogged vehicles. Later. Gary

May 9, 2014. No appointments! It's nice to have the full day to myself. Steve W wrote: Not sure what size hole you are trying to drill but the trick is to drill a “pilot hole” first. Say you want to drill a 10mm hole, start with a 2mm drill bit, it will go through more easily and then with the existing hole, the 10mm will go through like a you know what! Also if you are using the drill bits that came with the drill, forget it. Go get some proper ones, the ones they supply in kits are rubbish. Hope this helps.

You mean like the ones I saw yesterday at Big W? Now you tell me! I was thinking of buying them but chickened out. As to the pilot hole, I've often done that with hand tools by hammering a nail into the wood a smidgeon before drilling.

FL Josh wrote: You wrote, "the cordless drill removed the old hex nuts but refused to drill a new hole."  Did you remember to change the direction of rotation since drill bits cut going clockwise whereas removing a nut would require the drill to spin counterclockwise.

Hehe. Yes, Josh, I remembered. I've got an honors degree in hand tools ya know. Besides, I'm only half Irish. The other half is Clampett which is French, I think. Je comprends la différence entre horaire et antihoraire. How-bloody-ever, there is a possibility that I went into Irish mode, in which case I plead the fifth amendment (or equivalent in Oz).

BTW, there's a word for splitting a word in half and inserting a new word, like how-bloody-ever. I think it starts with a 't' followed by an 'n' or 'm', and is the only word in the English language to begin with those two letters. Ah, yes, tmesis.

Anyway, I'm back from attaching the TV wall bracket. It turned out to be a bit of a learning curve because of my inexperience, but I'm thankful to Steve for the tip about drilling a pilot hole first. Made all the difference. That piece of Queensland red gum, though, is like a chunk of iron. I had to tighten the final half inch of the longest hex nut with a ratchet spanner. The other nuts are shorter so I'll buy some longer ones. Andrew used softer wood for the backing brace. Once the longer hex nuts are in, she'll be right to support the 18" TV... THE RIGHT WAY ROUND!

Also, I tried using small, chromed, domed 1/2" bolts to fill the holes that Andrew drilled and it looks okay... better than before. At least it looks like they're supposed to be there hehe, instead of empty holes. I'll keep an eye out for proper hole fillers that match the color of the walls as well. It's a bit of a storm in a teacup anyway cos it'll all be hidden behind the TV when it's attached.

The leftover piece of wood will be handy for something so I stored it in one of the under-tray tool boxes. Then I spent ages trying to push the door closed so I could lock it. I was down on my knees, then on my ass in the dirt, pushing and shoving to no avail. What to do? Remember Prof Julius Sumner Miller and "why is it so"? So I relaxed, studied the lock to see how it works, grabbed an adjustable spanner, made a small adjustment to part of the locking device and whammo! Instant success! Thank you, Mr Sumner Miller.

Well, I feel pretty good about having (almost) finished that job. Proves I'm not just a pretty face, and I didn't have to spend $80/hr on Andrew. What could be better than that? Well, I'll tell you. The other day I wrote to the seller of the cordless drill asking about a spare battery and when the next shipment arrives. Here's the response I got just now: Thank you very much for your email. DO not worry, I will send one spare battery to you by Australia Post with tracking number xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.You will receive it next week. If you have any question, please feel free to contact us. Have a good day!

Have a good day? Hehe. I'm over the moon! What a lovely gesture! The drill only cost $52 to begin with, with free postage. What a super deal! 

From the Beeb: Russia is holding its annual Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square amid a surge of patriotism kindled by its annexation of Crimea. A similar event marking the Soviet victory in World War Two will be held in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Shades of N. Korea.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is due to start a year of community service at a care home near Milan. He was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud last year, commuted to four hours work a week with elderly dementia patients. The Catholic care home says Berlusconi, 77, will be treated like any other assistant. Reminds me of my own fall from grace and caring for Sue.

Hmmm... not quite. Berlusconi will be back to his billions and hair transplants after only 12 months.

Gino Bartali: The cyclist who saved Jews in wartime Italy: As one of the cycling world's biggest races, the Giro d'Italia, begins in Belfast on Friday, more is being learned about the daring activities of one of its former winners in wartime Italy. "He had everything to lose. His story is one of the most dramatic examples during World War Two of an Italian willing to risk his own life to save the lives of strangers."

Australian police have fined a gambling tycoon and a TV executive following a public brawl in Bondi Beach that sparked a tabloid frenzy. Billionaire James Packer and David Gyngell were cited for "offensive behaviour", which carries a fine of A$500 ($467, £276) if uncontested. Police had launched an investigation into the incident on Sunday although no official complaint was filed. The cause of the brawl between the two friends still remains unclear. $500? Sheesh! Packer wouldn't even stoop to pick that up if he dropped it.

Meyers Manx, the Beetle-based cure for summertime blues: Ancient alchemists tried in vain to make gold from base metals. In 1964, modern alchemist Bruce Meyers discovered how to make freedom from fibreglass. Consequently, his Meyers Manx dune buggy stands among the most recognisable pieces of 20th Century industrial design.

Well, here we are again, time to toddle off to telly land and a bit of sustenance. I'll finish off the TV bracket job tomorrow and then... then? Dunno. I can't think of any more holes I wanna drill. Hmmm. Surely there's something somewhere that needs a hole in it. BTW, something I've been meaning to share. Now that I'm as skinny as a rake and buns-less, I can feel the breeze down my inner thigh when ever I fart. Isn't that interesting? Most people don't get that sensation cos they've got buns hehe. Just thought I'd pass that on for your edification. Gary

May 8, 2014. At last! All the big insurance and power bills have been paid and it's blue sky again! Thank god for that. I would have been okay if not for the $650 insurance excess but them's the breaks. I should not have driven PJ to the canvas repairer after brushing the power pole. Big mistake. But it happened, so that's that.

TX Greg wrote: The new awning looks great. Is it me or is the new awning a few inches longer? Looks like it covers more of the cabover window. Wonder if you noticed the new smell yet. Some chemical in the process of making the vinyl gives it that great "new car" smell :)

Ah, yes, that yummy new car smell. Had it with the Beetles and my first Holden but I've not owned a new car since. You're right about the awning being longer. The new one is 3 meters and the old one was 2950mm. It's only 2 inches but the more the merrier! Besides, 2 inches... nah, let's not go there.

Robert, the guy who collected the drop sides and tail gate last night, arrived with bare feet, which I thought was a bit adventurous for this time of year. He was also driving a small hatchback but the gear went inside no problem. His left eye socket had a skin graft... no eye ball. He had an operation to remove cancer from the socket, so we had something in common... sort of. He asked me if my speaking voice would improve and I answered that I hoped so. "My eyesight won't," he said.

Andrese explained to me this morning that he's gonna numb part of my gum soon and remove some of the dead bone. Then he'll suture the gum, cover it, and wait to see if the two overlapping sides of the gum knit. If successful, he'll do small sections over a period of time until the whole gum is covering the exposed bone. Yeah? It's better than waiting around for the current snail's-pace healing process. He's been talking to Catrina, one of the other dentists there who also thinks I need more positive action. Fine by me! And BTW, when I walked into the surgery this morning, Andrese had the first page of my Scrapbook page open on his screen. Hehe. He says I was a bit of a looker back then. Hmmm, how times change.

And now it's mid afternoon. As I walked past the dental clinic to the post office, Andrese spotted me, yelled, and then walked uptown with me. Hmmm. I'm not just another patient, it seems. Had a few banking do-dads to sort out, then a little shopping. Meanwhile, the cordless drill removed the old hex nuts but refused to drill a new hole for the repositioned TV wall bracket. I figured the battery might need charging which takes at least 3.5 hrs so I took the opportunity to walk to town. If the drill still fails to drill a hole tomorrow, guess what? We'll see. 

Anyway, I popped into the dept store to see if I could find anything to disguise the holes that Andrew drilled. I dunno what they're called but there are little plastic buttons that match the timber color (more or less) covering vacant holes in the cupboard exteriors and wall linings - some kinda plug. But the dept store didn't have anything like that. However, I bought a pack of assorted self-tapping screws, two plastic hooks that hang over the top of a cupboard door ($2), that nifty liquid soap dispenser made of bamboo I spotted the other day, a liquid soap refill, and then walked to Sally's Op Shop and bought a small vase shaped something like a wine glass/egg cup only a little larger (8cms tall) made of solid marble. It has a flat base which is ideal to attach with velcro to a small spot I have in mind in PJ. It'll look nice with a few wildflowers and ferns in it when I'm camped. Nothing too obvious or ostentatious... just a discreet feminine touch, and all blokes have a feminine side, yeah? Hehe. Oh, and how much for the marble vase? $5.

From the Beeb: Pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine are due to consider a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin to delay referendums on autonomy. Separatist leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk say they will put the matter before "people's councils". The referendums are due to take place on Sunday and millions of ballot papers have been prepared. Mr Putin has said putting off the vote could help create the conditions necessary for dialogue

The office cubicle is a source of frustration for many workers, who spend long hours at cramped desks dreaming of the executive's corner office. The cubicle has become so ubiquitous that we rarely give it a second thought, but it was actually invented in the 1960s to give workers more privacy and autonomy. In his book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, author Nikil Kapur chronicles the evolution of a place where 60% of Americans now spend their days.

Nintendo has said it will not allow gamers to play as gay characters in its life-simulation game Tomodachi Life. A fan had launched a social media campaign urging Nintendo to allow same-sex relationships between characters in the game - modelled after real people. Nintendo said it "never intended to make any form of social commentary" with the launch of the game. Tomodachi Life has been a big hit in Japan and the firm is set to launch the game in the US and Europe in June.

The bicycle, recharged for the 21st century. California-based Icon is a company best known for its re-imagined vintage trucks and utility vehicles, all-conquering Toyota FJs and Ford Broncos that merge classic style and simplicity with modern engineering and six-figure price tags. The E-Flyer electric bicycle takes Icon in a somewhat different direction

A Mississippi teenager launched an online campaign to push beverage giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to remove a potentially harmful ingredient from their sports drinks. She pauses between high school classes to talk to the BBC about her success.

During the walk back home this afternoon, I heard a woman yelling at someone - some sort of argument. As I turned the corner and walked past the pair - with the woman standing on the verge and a man behind the wheel of a battered little parked car - she said something about her partner putting all his money in the slots, and that she didn't want to go home with him. So she walked off in a huff past me. Then the bloke in the car drove up and pleaded with her to come with him, but no, she was determined to keep walking. Finally, she walked into the police station entrance but without going inside. The bloke drove up, parked the car, and went to fetch her. Whatever he said must have convinced the woman to go with him, so they both walked to the car where she got inside. But before the bloke got inside, he stood at the door and yelled menacingly to someone sitting in a parked car across the road, "What are you lookin' at? Huh? What the fuck do you think you're lookin' at?" Then the pair drove off.

So as I walked the rest of the way home, I thought to myself, how dumb was that guy? If he and his dopey broad make a spectacle of themselves in public, does he expect to attract minimal attention or none at all? What a moron. However, being the wise old fart that I am these days, I chose to keep my gaze downward on the pavement during the fracas. My ears, though, were paying attention hehe.

Earlier today, Lindsay had the kitchen radio on and I heard the talkback announcer, John Laws, say "there's nothing we can do about changing the past, but we can do something about changing the future." Oh? How can you change what doesn't yet exist? I know what he meant to say (about altering course) but that's not what he did say.

And now it's time to go *poof!* into cyber space. Seeya next time. Gary

May 7, 2014. Back from Nabiac! Does that rhyme? Nick nack paddywack, I have been to Nabiac! Or how about: I've been all round Oz and back, including good ol' Nabiac!

Well, Great Lakes Caravans is out in the sticks all by itself but it's HUGE! I've never seen so many caravans in the one spot before. New, used, slide-ons, motorhomes, folding campers, plus a stack of vans out the back waiting for repair. The site also includes a service station and a caravan park, all run by the 12 people who work there.

While PJ was being repaired, I took a wander around the place and checked out some of the vans. Wow! Some of those things were sheer luxury on wheels. Even the smaller ones, 12' or so, were stunning. One of the first I looked at was a used slide-on for about $15K, very nice and spacious inside with quality inclusions. But, it had a flat floor with no exterior storage like my two side bins. I prefer my layout. Not as pretty but more practical.

The bloke who did the job remarked on PJ's interior. He wasn't expecting a renovation job and said it was very nice inside. "I thought so too," I said, "until I saw some of your others."

The new awning looks great, and comes with a proper winding handle (not like the old home-made one I had). The casing is brand new, of course, and UV protected. The old one was was dull gray and brittle. So PJ's looking pretty flash!

I took a bunch of photos of PJ as well as the rest of the place, and then doubled back to Nabiac for a few shots around town. Click here for the album. If you're not familiar with the story of the original awning and its unintended meeting with a power pole, you can read the journal entry here.

Jeez, look at the time already... mid afternoon. Oh yes, I fogot to mention that I asked at GLC if they had a bench saw. Yep! So they kindly sawed my piece of timber for the TV wall bracket in seconds flat. "Nice piece of wood," they all said. And it is... the guy at the timber yard was saving it to make a cutting board for the kitchen, and he gave it to me for nothing.

From the Beeb: A team of US experts has been sent to Nigeria to help find more than 200 schoolgirls abducted last month by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. US President Barack Obama said the team comprised personnel from military, law enforcement and other agencies. He said he hoped the kidnapping might galvanise the international community to take action against Boko Haram.

A spokesman for Bonkers Haram said on telly news last night that the girls shouldn't have been at school anyway. Instead they should be getting married. How weird can you get?

Stars of Hollywood are boycotting one of the area's most famous hotels because of a harsh Islamic penal code introduced by Brunei's government. Comedians Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres are among the celebrities supporting the boycott against the Beverly Hills Hotel and other hotels owned by Brunei. After a heated debate, the city council unanimously voted to condemn Brunei. Brunei's leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, announced the first phase of the new penalties last week. They will eventually include death by stoning for homosexuality and adultery. That's how weird you can get.

Last year, Eesha Khare invented a super-capacitor that charges more quickly and stores more energy than a conventional battery. Her invention scooped the top prize and the Intel young scientist awards, and earned her an interview on the Conan O'Brien show. Now a student at Harvard University, Eesha hopes to see her inventions become an indispensable part of everyday life as well as contributing to the development of new, cleaner solutions to our energy needs

Just had a call from the bloke who bought the ute drop sides and tail gate... he's on his way from Tea Gardens which is about an hour south. Nice spot too. I stayed at a mate's friend's house there back in the late '80s. The mate and I had a blue one night so I drove back to Sydney and left him there. He was cheesed off because the resident pooch had a rep for being most unfriendly and suspicious of strangers. My mate told me that there was no way the dog was gonna let me pet him. Yeah? Well, the old Kelly charm worked wonders and the dog was like a lamb. Hehe. My mate was furious, and stewed for a day or two until he finally exploded and we "had words".

Well, Robert paid for the ute bits and pieces but also needed other bits and pieces bolted to my ute's tray, that I didn't remove... like the locking handles at the front, and the whatchamecallits along the side and rear rails. So I pulled out my tool box, grabbed a torch (flashlight) and away he went. I was in charge of the flashlight hehe. So now it's after 6pm and I'm outta here! He gave me a tip too! Gary

May 6, 2017. At the dental practice this morning, Andrese had the Odyssey website up on his screen, so I better be careful about what I write hehe. He had trouble accessing the site for some hours at first so maybe NC Art and TX Greg are right about my server having probs lately. I've not noticed it though, and I'm on line all day every day (but not at night).

FL Josh wrote: You say adding "fair" to "dinkum" gives the term "an extra quality of incredulity."  Is it possible you meant, "an extra quality of credibility."

It would have been possible had I written that piece, Josh. It's a copy and paste of what was posted on the GN forum.

Meanwhile, Steve W had this to say about "crucy" peanut butter: I was in a new (to me) Woolworths store and they had a refrigerated section that had a big sign over the top of the unit saying “Entertaining Dips”……..stood there for a good 10 minutes watching and they did absolutely nothing. Can I go them for false advertising? I fear for the future of the English Language. I will take my phone next time for a pic.

English is full of inconsistencies, which is great for comedians. Not so good for Francois or newbies learning the language though.

Back inside after half an hour of inner shedness. The difference between sitting in PJ bathed in full sunshine and here in the house is chalk and cheese. It's absolutely gorgeous out there. In fact, I was listening to talk radio and many of the callers were saying what a beautiful autumn day it is. So I reckon a couple of days camped at Tom Cat Creek would be great. Chilly overnight and in the morning but super during the day. Good excuse for a camp fire I reckon. I can't even remember the last time I sat in front of a campfire out in the bush... or even if I ever have!

This morning on Red Bubble I recognized a photograph of a place where I camped in the Kombi back in the late '80s called Green Patch on the south coast of NSW. (Click the image to enlarge). Jervis Bay is actually part of the Australian Capital Territory because Canberra, being an inland city, needed a harbor for the Royal Navy. Dunno why though. I think the subs are based in Adelaide and the rest of the fleet is in Sydney.

I've experienced many indoor open fireplaces though, and been mesmerized by the dancing flames into a trance-like state. I've even been in charge of the wood chopping department in a couple of those places, wielding a log splitter and stacking the wood in a wheel barrow, taking it inside and transferring it to the wood box. All good wholesome stuff. I must've known something cos I bought 2 pair of thick cotton gardening gloves which are stored in PJ, ready for a bit of firewood gathering in the bush. I also have a handsaw and hatchet.

And now to an icon of the sixties:

I was 17 in 1961, and 12 months away from owning my first car which bore no resemblance whatsoever to that T-Bird. Those were the days, my friend, and we thought they would never end, as the song goes.

From the Beeb: The US says it considers the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Islamist militants "an outrage" and is offering help to try to rescue them. White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama was being briefed as his national security team was monitoring developments. Earlier, a video emerged of the leader of the Boko Haram group saying the militants intended to sell the girls. Terrorists and fanatics infuriate me!

A stolen mobile phone has emailed a "selfie" of a mystery man back to its owner. Essex Police said they were now keen to talk to the man in the photo.

Sony has developed a new storage tape that is able to hold up to 185 terabytes (TB) of data per cartridge. Created with the help of IBM, Sony's technology allows for tapes that can store the equivalent of 3,700 Blu-ray discs. The tape hold 148 gigabits (Gb) per square inch - beating a record set in 2010 more than five times over. That's just what I need for my recipes!

Keith Richards’ Ferrari is up for sale.

It's getting chilly already so it'll soon be heater time (I don't have a heated throw rug yet) and a bit of telly. Then Kelly's Ginger Chicken and rice. Pity about the hot water bottle doing a dam busters cos it was useful for warming up the bed. Oh well... Meanwhile, I trust all's well with you lot "out there", including any dentists who may be snooping hehe. Tomorrow morning I'll be off to Nabiac for the new awning, and I'll take the Nikon with me. Gary

May 5, 2014. The Thai chicken was ikky. So that's destined for the bin. I have this thing in my head about shallots, so I'll get a bunch and chop it up. Then I'll make a marinade of soy, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, sesame oil and honey and cook the chicken minz in that with the shallots. 

There was an interesting cooking show on telly on the weekend. The chef had gone on a vegetarian diet for 4 months which inspired him to discover lots of interesting and novel ways to cook veg, and even not to cook it. He interviewed the owners of a restaurant that serves only raw veg dishes - or dried. Their creations were nothing short of amazing, including desserts. One of the treats they made was dried kale chips. They used a slow drying method but here's a recipe that uses a conventional oven. I got a bit carried away with the idea of trying them until I realized I couldn't eat them anyway with NO BLOODY TEETH!

Anyway, the chef had come to the end of his vegetarian "experiment" and went fishing in his little boat. He was really looking forward to having flesh for dinner after a long abstinence but spent all day with an empty hook. Luckily, he spotted a friend in another boat who had a more rewarding day and who tossed him a small mackerel, which the chef cooked on the beach. The look on his face as he took his first mouthful was priceless. Hehe. However, the whole point of the exercise was to show just how much we underestimate the value of vegetables in our cooking. Throughout the series, he prepared various vegetarian dishes and invited his carnivore friends and neighbors to a feast. All were skeptical at first but all went away with a whole new respect for vegies. He did the same with a bunch of school kids who went from "yuck" to "yum" after trying some of his creations... like, would you believe, a beetroot pizza?

Dunno what happened with the drop sides and tail gate for the ute on eBay. I thought I'd advertised a 'buy it now' price of $99 plus auction, but the auction is now at $119.50 hehe, with 5 hours to go. 

TX Greg wrote: I just caught the moth spelling mistake on the ebay page. That was a good one Josh. So Gary, what happens if you, PJ and the barometer get hit by over twelve bogong moths, NO WARRANTY, hahaha...

So you're familiar with bogongs? Aborigines in Canberra used to look forward to the annual invasion because they considered them a gourmet treat. Yuck! I used to work at a radio station down that way years ago and had to put a bug catcher on the front of the Beetle. Using windscreen wipers after being splattered with those things was a no no. And you had to wash the damn things off before they dried otherwise it would take you all day.

Steve W agreed that poof reading reading was becoming a loss tart. Yes we mayday be old farts butt just because it parses the spill check. it dozen mike it rite. Actually, I saw a Woolies ad yesterday for 'cruncy' peanut butter.

Stan and his wife Sue are here running around with lawn mowers and whipper snippers. They've just returned from a month caravanning down the south coast and are already amped to go away again for a couple of months up north to Darwin and the top end of WA. Lucky buggers! Heaps of GNs have gone north for their regular winter migration, or are about to. For years I've been saying this will be my last winter in Taree and here I am AGAIN!

The reason I look totally suave at the mo, dear Breth, is because I'm back from a visit to Mark the barber. There was one bloke in the chair when I arrived plus another four waiting. The new hairdresser shop just up the road was empty. While I was in town, I bought a bunch of shallots (spring onions) and more chicken minz. Added all the other ingredients and simmered it for a while, and now it's cooling off and marinating. Smells great! Much better than that Thai fiasco.

From the Beeb: A new app developed by a British psychiatrist aims to cure a fear of spiders. Sadly it's arrived more than a century late for poor James Payn. Author Jeremy Clay tells the shuddersome tale of the man trapped in a darkened train teeming with tarantulas.

Why the rich stay rich: they don’t invest like the rest.

Yep, money makes money, is basically what it's all about. Most of us get into debt and make others rich by paying interest. I watched a program on telly last night about a young couple in England who bought an old, rundown chapel for 25,000 pounds with the aim of turning it into a family home. After doing some repairs and alterations themselves, which cost them their savings of $20,000 pounds, they asked a valuer what the property would be worth once the whole thing was renovated and complete. He said $2,500,000 pounds. They were pretty chuffed about that, of course. So they plan to keep saving and spending their money on new improvements they'll do themselves until the project has reached a stage where their equity will be sufficient to make them eligible for a bank loan to cover the remaining renovations. Meanwhile, they have a stunning building to live in and raise a family.

I don't owe a cent on PJ, and she's at the stage now where depreciation is minimal, if not nil. Best investment I ever made (apart from my house in Glebe). Being on a pension means it's too late to create wealth but at least I can spend wisely and get more bang for my buck.

Speaking of which, my auction for the ute drop sides and tail gate has just ended... $136.45. And to think I was going to take them to the dump cos I thought there was no market for them. AND, I just blitzed the chicken minz and put it in a container. I had a little taste and the ginger really comes through nicely. Mmmmm, love ginger. Ginger wasn't included in the original marinade recipe but I added it anyway. Creative license ya know. So that's a keepers! Also the sesame oil was supposed to be IN the marinade but I used it separately to fry up the shallots before adding the chicken which I also fried up before adding the rest of the ingredients to simmer for a while. So there ya go, my very own recipe! 

My barometer is back to normal now, so hopefully the weather will stay nice for the rest of May. The nights are cold and but today was beautiful in the sun (so everyone in the barber shop kept saying). And that's about it for my mini dissertation.... no wait! Just spotted this awesome rig on the GN forum. What a stunner! 

And on this day: 1894  -  The Australian slang term 'fair dinkum' appears in print for the first time. 

"Fair dinkum" is an Australian slang term meaning honest, genuine or real. The derivation dinky-di means a native-born Australian or "the real thing". The word "dinkum" had appeared by itself in print, in the novel "Robbery Under Arms" by Australian writer Rolf Boldrewood, when it was published in 1888. However, the term "fair dinkum", giving the term an extra quality of incredulity, appeared in print for the first time in the magazine 'The Bulletin' on 5 May 1894. The Bulletin was immensely influential in Australian culture and politics from about 1890 until World War I.

It has been suggested that the word dinkum was a dialect word from Lincolnshire and Derbyshire in England, where it meant "hard work" or "fair work"; this was also the original meaning in Australian English.

Okies, I'm outta here. Gary

May 4, 2014. Still cold. There's a cold front with gusty winds moving through NSW at the mo and all the way up to QLD. A taste of winter a month early. Someone on the GN forum this morning pointed out that the heated throw rug would use about 10ah plugged into the inverter, which is attached to a 12V AGM battery even though it converts to 240V. Anyway, that's okay for a couple of hours watching telly at night. The sleeping bag will keep me toasty once I hit the sack. It's 16C here at the mo (60.8F) which I think is cold. OR Richie would disagree, as would most peeps used to winter minuses. Up north in tropical Darwin at the mo it's 28C (82F).

The rice worked really well with the curry last night... no need for butter and cheese, just a little water which meant no mucous probs this morning. Rice complements curry and allows the taste of the curry to dominate. It was kinda like a curry soup you can eat with a fork - if that makes sense. Hehe. But it was very noice. I've just cooked up four handfuls and put it in a large tub with a lid to keep it moist in the fridge. Costs mere cents, even cheaper than noodles, and probably better nutritionally. Dinner will be toooo easy! Two or three spoonfuls of cooked rice into a bowl, four of whatever minz I've previously prepared, stir, then into the micro for a minute or two, and voila.

Meanwhile, flubs are causing havoc in North Carolina. What's a flub? Following a quick Google I found out. Hehe. But according to Art, there's a flubbademic happening in his neck of the woods, with flubs taking over the internet. Art's had trouble accessing Aussie Odyssey lately: Apparently an unknown flub which resolved itself. The net is wunnerful … xcep when it ain’t…

So are moths according to FL Josh: I just wanted to warn you that barometers like the one you had a link to in the Waffle for May 3rd, are susceptible to being attacked by moths, rendering them inoperative so you might want to. . . oh, wait, never mind, I see it comes with a "12 moth warranty!"

That's the problem with spellcheck. If moth is spelled correctly then spellcheck gives it the nod. Poof reading reading is also becoming a loss tart.

So what's exciting? Um... well, in a few days PJ will be fitted with a new Fiamma awning. Is that exciting? And while I'm waiting, I'll wander around Nabiac with the Nikon. I was there a few years ago for a vintage motorcycle meet but I've not taken any pics of the town (that I can remember). There's not much of it. I think the local pop is 5 or 600. It used to be a bustling metropolis of about 4000 with its own two-taxi service according to a bloke I met who grew up there. Both taxis were A model Fords. He says the highway bypass killed the town. The highway bypasses Taree too but Taree is thriving. Then again, Taree is on the rail line and has an airport. It also has a large regional hospital.

Back from shopping and buying a bunch of groceries including chicken minz. The Thai flavored chicken is now simmering on the stove. Got a bit mixed up with tablespoons and teaspoons, and added more brown sugar than I should have. Dangit. Hope I haven't buggered it. I'll taste-test the liqueur after a bit more simmering. If it's too sweet I'll add extra lemon juice and maybe a dash of Tabasco.

Jeez, that fish sauce is ripe! I don't even wanna think about what went into it. Ew!

From the Beeb: Barack Obama has used the annual White House correspondents' dinner to crack jokes about his healthcare policy, his political opponents and Vladimir Putin. The healthcare policy has serious IT issues, prompting the joke: "In 2008 my slogan was: 'Yes we can.' In 2013 my slogan was: 'Control-alt-delete.'" And he ridiculed media commentators for their apparent obsession with Mr Putin's bare chest.

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson says the BBC has told him he will be sacked if he makes "one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time". Writing in the Sun, Clarkson insisted he did not use a racist word while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe in an out-take from the show that was published by the Daily Mirror.

I used to recite that poem as a kid and never thought anything of it. I recall the kid down the road had one of those money boxes with a likeness of an African American lifting its hand to its mouth. I don't use the N word either but even if I did there'd be no racist intent because I'm not racist (except for Texans).

The American actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr, who starred in the long-running TV show The FBI, has died at the age of 95. Zimbalist Jr played Inspector Lewis Erskine in the show, which ran from 1965 until 1974. Before that he became a household name in the US playing private investigator Stu Bailey in 77 Sunset Strip, which ran from 1958-64. Ah, yes, I remember those shows.

The greatest British cars never built: The British motor industry has never lacked for innovation. The original Mini’s space efficiency, the Jaguar E-Type’s inspired agility, the McLaren F1’s high-speed stability – the list of superlatives is long. But some of the greatest British cars were the ones that never reached the production line. Herewith, a look at six of the UK’s most memorable concept cars, design studies, and experimental prototypes

Mindful of the American style peanut butter I bought last time that was made in the US, I checked other brands including the store's own brand. Most made in Australia "from local and imported ingredients". Oh? So then I took a look at a brand I've not tried before, Mayver's. Bit more expensive than the others but it's made from Australian peanuts with nothing added except a little sea salt. Mmmm! It's less firm than other brands and a tad runny (perfect in a smoothie). The US one uses molasses to make it firm.

Just tried the Thai flavored chicken. Hmmm, not too sweet, but I think it could do with a teensy dash of Tabasco. Meanwhile, it's time for me to scram. Catch you on the morrow. Gary

May 3, 2014. Here's an interesting tid bit on the GN forum about Aussies in California: 1851 - California's first known gang, the Sydney Ducks, are blamed for post-earthquake fires and looting in San Francisco. 

During the convict era, between 1788 and the end of transportation in 1868, over 174,000 men, woman and children were sent to Australia. Once pardoned or given a ticket-of-leave, many ex-convicts chose to remain in Australia. However, prospects were sometimes grim for those who chose to stay, some finding it impossible to earn a respectable living with the stigma of their convict past hanging over them. Nor could they return to their families in England, for the same reasons. Thus, when the goldrush began in California in 1848, many ex-convicts made their way to San Francisco.

With the population explosion in southern California, crime became rampant, particularly as many immigrants failed to find their fortune in gold and resorted to crime in order to survive. Criminals began to congregate in San Francisco, east of modern day Chinatown, forming gangs. Among the most notorious were those dominated by Australians, ticket of leave and escaped convicts. By 1849, so many were gathering on the Barbary Coast that it was commonly called 'Sydney Town', populated by gangs such as the 'Sydney Ducks' and 'Sydney Coves'. The Sydney Ducks were California's first known gang.

On 3 May 1851, the Sydney Ducks were blamed for a fire which broke out following a severe earthquake on May 1. Looting was rife, and blame centred on the Australians when a man recognised as a Sydney-Towner was seen running from a paint shop shortly before it exploded in flames. The area remained notorious for its vicious crimes until Sydney Duck member John Jenkins was lynched by vigilantes on 10 June 1851. Following his hanging, the population of Sydney Town dropped significantly as many Australians fled the area. 

Hmmmph. We know when we're not wanted.

NC Art will be interested in this video... a Ford newsreel about the B-24 Liberator and the giant assembly plant in Michigan that turned out one plane every 55 minutes... an amazing feat even 70+ years later.

Speaking of NC Art: Maybe not all fixed. On 1 May there was no Odyssey, just a message that there wasn’t any such web site. Hmm. Wondering if Taree had been washed away or blown away or Kelly had flown the coop, I sent a message to him. No answer. Will check again and advise.

The vagaries of modern communications, Art. Fortunately, it all seems to be working okay now. It could be worse ya know. I mean, if a parachute doesn't open, you don't think to yourself, "I must remember to get this thing checked when I hit the ground."

PJ's radiator is nice and full with green coolant since the water pump was replaced, so that's good. And I checked the engine oil which is as clean as a whistle. It's a great feeling to know that all is well under the bonnet/hood. Hopefully, the old donk will keep spinning smoothly for many miles yet. As the man said, machinery will look after you if you look after it. I knew absolutely nothing about Couriers before I bought this one, and I'm quite pleased with it despite a few hiccups. I've noted that the 2.6 EFI engine has been used in different model Couriers for many years, so it's obviously a pretty decent workhorse. 126 horses doesn't sound like much but it does the job quite well. Actually, the old Kombi 1600 had only 50!

Windy today, and cool, but rain is on the way. My barometer says so. Funnily enough, the weather forecast on telly last night said so too! So they must have a barometer as well. Hehe. The barometer I rather like, and which would look good in PJ, and which is not expensive, is this one I saw on eBay. It's on the shopping list. The one I currently have is not suitable for PJ - it's part of a set of instruments including a clock mounted in a wooden frame.

While getting the barometer URL I noticed a Beetle for sale on Gumtree. How much for a restored 1952 Beetle you ask? 

Speaking of expensive, I just took a look at various types of heaters for caravans. Diesel heaters are waaaaay too costly and require fitting (not portable). Gas bottle heaters are only for outdoors. Electric heaters chew too much power. Sooooo, I reckon hot water bottles are the go. However, be careful of the quality. I just decided to warm up the bod and filled my HWB with boiling water - a little too full as it turned out. I placed it behind my back on the chair and, after a minute or two, felt a burning sensation that made me jump quick smart! The bottom of the bag had sprung a leak from the pressure of my back. Yeeeeow! Not meant to be sat on or squeezed, yeah? I'll look for better quality next time.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I just checked a forum on alternatives to hot water bottles and a lotta peeps recommended a heated throw rug. So I found this one on eBay. It uses normal mains power but is only 100W, which means if I plugged it into PJ's inverter at 240V it would use only 0.5ah (approx) on the highest setting. Users reckon a much lower setting is fine. Sure, it won't heat the whole van but it's only ME I'm concerned about.

Coincidentally, I was just about to post something on the GN forum about heated throw rugs when I saw a post about electric blankets: Just pulled out Linda my elec blanket - it hardly uses any power out of my inverter over night. :) So there ya go... forget hot water bottles. A heated throw rug it will be! Mind you, the trick is to be up north in the tropics during winter but even up there in some places the nights get cold.

From the Beeb: The United States has condemned the "senseless" violence that left at least 31 people dead in south-west of Ukraine on Friday. Dozens of people were killed by a fire at a building that pro-Russians had taken over in the port city of Odessa. A blaze engulfed the building after running battles between pro-Kiev groups and separatists in the city.

How Dutch team is 3D-printing a full-sized house: Architects in Amsterdam have started building what they say is one of the world's first full-sized 3D-printed houses. The structure is being built using a plastic heavily based on plant oil.

The Uruguayan authorities have revealed how marijuana will be produced and sold legally in the country. Licensed pharmacies will sell the drug for less than $1 a gramme, with consumers allowed 40g (1.4oz) a month. The bill specifies that each household may grow up to six cannabis plants, and that marijuana may be consumed in the same places as tobacco. Last year, Uruguay became the first country in the world to make it legal to grow, sell and consume marijuana.

Obviously, the Uruguayan authorities don't think Uruguayans are silly enough already. I tried pot years ago and it sent me bonkers... even more than usual.

Rice tonight - a change from noodles. I figured if I boiled rice for 15 minutes it should be soft enough for me to eat. So I cooked a little in advance. I'll add the curry minz later and heat it in the micro for dinner. Also checked out chicken minz recipes on the net and found a Thai flavored one that sounds pretty good. I'm running outta room in the freezer though hehe (Lindsay has claimed half of it even though it's MY fridge). Cooking for one is okay if you have teeth, but recipes like curries, savory minz and chicken minz don't come in single servings. I have to cook enough for a family and then freeze most of it so I can enjoy a bit of variety occasionally. Tonight will be my third curry in a row. Or is that the fourth? At least it'll be with rice this time.

That's about it from me, folks. Time for the usual. I wish I had one of those heated throw rugs at the mo - it's gonna be a cold night. Oh well... Gary

May 2, 2014. Something weird is going on with internet access this morning. I can access some sites and not others. Tried rebooting, swapping USB ports with the modem, connecting and disconnecting, all the usual suspects but the problem persists. Is it my ISP? Who knows. But I'm not about to hang on the phone for hours waiting for a response from a techie who's gonna tell me to do all the things I've already done. Grrrrr.

Yes, Andrese lived in Cape Town (born in Pretoria) but is not familiar with any beaches or schools I mentioned in relation to Cody. So there ya go. The mystery persists. He has friends visiting rellos over there at the mo who said it was all very nice but they wouldn't go back to live there. Mark once referred to CT as a "backwater" which makes me wonder where he ended up settling down. Or perhaps he's still sailing the world with no particular home base.

Once I'm on the road, I'll be in a similar situation despite "still calling Australia home". However, I'm getting used to the idea (now that I'm a member of the GN forum) of constantly reading posts from people who change locations on a regular basis with no final destination in mind. I guess it's something you get used to, and maybe even addicted to!

There's a thread on the forum about fuel and the cost thereof. One GN said it was a good thing he didn't pay for his fuel, otherwise he couldn't afford to travel. Naturally, he was asked how he got his fuel free. He grows his own seed oil and processes it into bio-diesel - so do his farmer neighbors. His bus carries 1000 liters of oil, enough to cover about 4000 kilometers on each trip. He also carries a small portable centrifuge on his trips to process any waste oil he comes across, if needed. He says all his farm machinery - tractors, trucks, cars, etc - use bio-diesel except for his large chainsaw. Imagine that. Free fuel!

Steve W wrote: I’m not beginning to doubt your sanity at all………I began doubting that 44 years ago with you on the radio, now I’m pretty damn certain! Don’t know how you do it mate, must drive you crazy (sorry, crazier) to not be able to bite into a good rump (steak that is) or chomp on an apple. Hang in, one day hopefully soon, you will have a full set again - teeth, not sure about brain cells - I’m in the same club as far as those are concerned.

Yep, rolling with the punches is not all it's cracked up to be. Hehe.

Internet access is back to normal so I'm guessing it was a fault with my ISP. It gave me a chance to check Steve W's mention of hex nut drivers the other day after I bought the cordless drill. I took the drill down to PJ and had a gander at my cheapie tool kit. There's a bunch of thingies that fit onto a ratchet spanner/wrench. Took me forever to figure out what fits what, but I eventually fitted a holder to the drill and then a nut driver to that, and then tried the whole shebang on one of the hex nuts that holds the panel at the rear of the fridge. Bzzzzt, bzzzzt. Holy Hallelujah, Batman! How's that for cool! Undid the nut and did it up again quick as a flash! When ever I need to check the rear of the fridge to see if the burner needs a clean I'll be able to access it in no time. Even the ratchet spanner ain't that quick. Andrew also used hex nuts to secure the TV wall mount so I'll re-use those when I mount it the right way up. Isn't this exciiiiiiting?

Actually, the cordless drill has awakened an inner passion in me for machinery - something that has been lying dormant all these years. But not now! So next pay I'm gonna buy one of these... a nifty machine that uncorks a bottle of wine and then pours it into a glass. Bloody marvelous!

From the Beeb: Australia top world Test (cricket) rankings for first time in five years. Australia are top of the annual Test rankings for the first time since August 2009 thanks to series wins over South Africa and England. They remain the leading one-day side, and hold the International Cricket Council's number one spots in both formats for the first time since 2008. I knew you'd be thrilled.

The slow death of purposeless walking. A number of recent books have lauded the connection between walking - just for its own sake - and thinking. But are people losing their love of the purposeless walk?

My mother used to walk several miles through farm paddocks and fields to and from school every day, and thought nothing of it. When I lived in Glebe, I often walked to Town Hall in the city and back, which took about an hour each way. It was a pleasant way to pass the time.

South African photographs tell apartheid history. An exhibition of photographs and moving images telling the history of apartheid is one of the events held in South Africa to celebrate 20 years of democracy.

Chevrolet Camaro Z/28: Shock and awe. We are taught that snap judgments are immature, unfair and unbecoming. That said, you need only whisper “Camaro Z/28” to have yourself, and those within earshot, categorised. One for TX Greg.

Francios sent this from Dio. It's been on Waffle previously but here it is again for those who may not have seen it (or those with dementia):


Mr.  Allen Swift:  Born:  1908 ˜ Died  2010. This  man owned & drove the same car for 82 YEARS. Can  you imagine even having the same car for 82  years? Mr. Allen Swift ( Springfield, Massachusetts) received this 1928 Rolls-Royce Piccadilly-P1  Roadster from his father, brand new - as a graduation gift in 1928. He drove it  up until his death last year ... at the age of  102!!! He was the oldest living owner of a car that was purchased new. It was donated to a Springfield museum after  his death. It has 1,070,000 miles on it, still runs like a Swiss watch, dead silent at any speed and is in  perfect cosmetic condition. (82  years). That's approximately 13,048 miles per year (1087 per  month)... 1,070,000 that's miles not kilometres!! That's  British engineering of a bygone era. I don't think they make them like this anymore.

Roite. I've had the Ute for 18 months so far, so... hmmm. Forget it. The story of the Roller was also posted on the GN forum recently, and one bloke said the car's longevity and condition were due to regular, meticulous servicing, which I suspect is true. Another bloke I saw, who featured in a telly program about his ability to create his own farm machinery from bits and pieces collected from junk yards, said, "Machinery is a living, breathing thing, and if you take care of it, it'll take care of you." Hmmm, maybe there's something in that. 

Meanwhile, it's time again for me to exit stage left and plonk the buns in their favorite chair. Gary

May 1, 2014. May I introduce you to May? Seems like yesterday Santa was trying to squeeze down the chimney. And what a lovely first of May it is here in Taree, Straya - bright and sunny and blue.

The bloke who posts historic pics of autos in everyday situations on a newsgroup is at it again. Here's the third album.

Well, there I was sitting in PJ thinking how lovely and warm it is in the sun when I decided to bring the laptop down with me, and here I am, enjoying the "outdoors" in the backyard. Beats the hell outta sitting in the cold office with no view. I was also perusing the Camps Australia book for camp sites around this area and found the one Andrew mentioned, which is not far from his farm. It's called Tom Cat Creek and it's a freebie. I'd say it gets a bit nippy overnight there but that's always a good excuse for a camp fire, yeah? And I do have a sleeping bag rated 0C. I'll bring a quilt as well.

That persistent peewee who's having an affair with my side rearview mirror is at it again, trying to catch his image on the other side of the mirror. Hehe. You'd think after all these months he'd lose patience but no. He's determined to meet his elusive admirer. One thing you can't deny though; the feathered "friend" never fails to be available when Mr Peewee visits the mirror. Can't be coincidence, can it?

Steve W is beginning to doubt my sanity. He's forgetting how crazy I was back in the old Gosford days when I was on radio there. Is this a new dish for MasterChef maybe : "savoury minz”….at least it wasn’t savoury “minge”! Minge? Wot dat? I had to do a Google to find out, and now I'm wishing I hadn't. Ew! The curry last night was good but nowhere near as good as it is without being blitzed or using cubed streak rather than minz. Sorry, Steve. But good enough will have to do until I'm back in business with choppers.

The problem with sitting here in PJ with the sun steaming thrugh the doorway and lots of activity outside is being constantly distracted hehe. Every few minutes I find myself staring out the window daydreaming. On the Odyssey, I may need to reschedule writing the blog to a more suitable hour, like at night when things are quiet.

Back inside. It's impossible to focus on writing outdoors (or close enough to it). Besides, I was almost falling asleep in the sun... and did once I got back inside the house. Anyway, at least it gave me another taste of what it's like to be "out there". I'm looking forward to my next shakedown.

From the Beeb: Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams continues to be questioned by Northern Ireland police in connection with the 1972 murder of Jean McConville. Mr Adams has spent the night in custody after going to Antrim police station, where he was arrested. Speaking before his detention on Wednesday evening, Mr Adams said he was "innocent of any part" in the murder. Mrs McConville, a 37-year-old widow and mother-of-10, was abducted and shot by the IRA. Oh god, let's hope those days are well and truly gone.

How 'Black Fives' led to racial integration in basketball. This week the National Basketball Association has been dealing with a scandal after the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers team, Donald Sterling, was given a lifetime ban for making racist remarks. His comments come nearly 65 years after the NBA became racially integrated

Controversial Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is to take a leave of absence to seek help for substance abuse, his lawyer says. Dennis Morris said his client acknowledged he had an abuse problem and wanted to do something about it.

Unesco has threatened to list the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage in Danger site, amid controversy over a plan to dump dredged sediment. Reef authorities granted permission for the dumping in January as part of a project to create one of the world's biggest coal ports. But scientists have warned that the sediment could smother or poison coral. Good. The reef is priceless.

An enormous sinkhole has opened up in a residential neighbourhood of north-east Baltimore in the US. It appeared as if there had been a landslide, a witness is reported to have said. Measuring a block long, the sinkhole sucked in several cars and forced the evacuation of a row of houses. Adnan Nawaz reports

There was a report on the GN forum this morning about a Queensland highway being closed due to a sinkhole... but it's only a tiny hole compared to the one in Baltimore.

British actor Bob Hoskins, who was best known for roles in The Long Good Friday and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, has died of pneumonia at the age of 71. Hoskins' agent said he died on Tuesday in hospital, surrounded by family. The star won a Bafta and was Oscar-nominated in 1987 for crime drama Mona Lisa, in which he starred opposite Sir Michael Caine and Robbie Coltrane.

Here's a collection of Bob Hoskins photos from various roles. It's a cruel world isn't it... Parkinson's disease in 2012 and now pneumonia at only 71.

Guess what? The sun's going "over there" again. Actually, it's not going anywhere but you know what I mean. So that's the signal to wipe my nib and put the cap back on my bottle of Indian ink. Yes, I remember those days, when all the kids had ink stains on their fingers and our classroom desks were covered in the stuff, we'd have to use blotting paper after writing every couple of words to avoid smudging. Then ball points were invented but we weren't allowed to use them because they would make us lazy hehe. Talk about progressive. NOT. Gary


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