the WAFFLE page

June 30, 2014. According to a report pasted on the GN forum, the RV market in Oz is going great guns, and will grow even more when the baby boomers start retiring. If you order a new RV in Oz the waiting list for delivery is 6 months. GNs are also the biggest spenders by far on tourism within Oz, with a lot of regional centers relying on GNs to keep their local economies bubbling along. And there I was thinking the Odyssey was gonna be something unique. Yeah, sure... about as unique as a wombat in Wagga Wagga.

Chilly wind outside, but PJ is facing into it so sitting in the sun with a coffee and listening to the radio was noice. There was a lot of discussion about a local footballer being charged with 'lewd' behavior after a photograph of him in a toilet peeing  into his own mouth (so it seemed) was plastered all over the media. My question is this: if the photograph had remained in private hands instead of the media making it public, what would he have been charged with then?

NC Art had this to say about condensed milk: I’m pretty sure milk was condensed b4 WWII. Luckily we had fresh milk daily because of cows when I was a kid. I did not like the cloying sweetness of the condensed stuff. But, it worked well in cooked recipes.

I reckon you're right, Art. But it was a bloke during WWII (so my mom said) who put a can in a pot of boiling water (probably thinking it was beans or whatever) and then forgot about it. By the time he remembered, the condensed milk had caramelized. As to the 'cloying' sweetness, my taste buds have changed since the cancer op and I quite like sweet things. I'm also far more sensitive to hot spices than I used to be, and can't handle wine. Beer's okay though.

FL Josh wrote: As for you liking the condensed milk, which I think is the same thing we call over here "sweetened condensed milk" . . .  that stuff is chock full of calories.  Maybe you could try eating it with a spoon as a snack.  I'm trying to watch my weight, but I sometimes eat peanut butter with a spoon as a snack.

Calories are good! Bring on the calories! And 'sweetened' is also what it's called here. Peanut butter is another thing I love and have trouble stopping after one teaspoon. I could easily polish off a whole jar in one go.

And Steve W wrote: Absolutely agree with condensed milk, especially in the tubes. Relied on that when I was in the Boy Scouts and away camping. It was eventually suggested that I should perhaps leave the Scouts, but that’s another story. Let’s put it this way, I didn’t take to a lot of rules and regulation, this was supposed to be fun!

You and FL Josh would get along like a house on fire, Steve. He was in the scouts too, as a senior leader or whatever it's called, organizing the kids and shouting orders and making sure scallywags like you behaved themselves. Hehe. However, I must admit to being a bit of a rules bender myself. All my life my obstreperous ways have managed to irritate bosses and other tyrants to the point of despair.

OH Jim was busy doing his ham thing: This weekend on the radio is the American Radio Relay League's Field Day contest. Basically you go out to somewhere and campout for the weekend, and you set up a station, which means putting up antennas somewhere. And then you operate a 24 hour radio contest, where you try to talk to as many other hams doing the same thing. You exchange callsigns, a class ( number of stations and type of power ) and the section you are operating in (usually a state or Canadian province ) . I got on the air from home , since I work the weekend.

There ya go... different strokes for different blokes. Or as Code would say, whatever blows your hair back. One thing's for sure, though, everyone needs a hobby or interest. At my school, we didn't have the opportunity to choose our subjects so I was lumbered with all the boring academic courses. Looking back, I'd have preferred woodwork, metalwork or one of those hands-on subjects. Oh well...

From the Beeb:

Islamist militant group Isis has said it is establishing a caliphate, or Islamic state, on the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria. It also proclaimed the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as caliph and "leader for Muslims everywhere". Setting up a caliphate ruled by the strict Islamic law has long been a goal of many jihadists. If only they realized the joys of NOT taking life so seriously.

The UK government is making a fresh bid to overturn a decades-long US import ban on traditional Scottish haggis. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson will raise the issue with senior officials from the Obama administration this week. Scottish producers had asked Mr Paterson to take action when he visited the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh earlier this month. Yuk! It's already banned from my table, and will forever remain so.

Dolly Parton has drawn a huge crowd for her debut Glastonbury set, performing some of her biggest hits as thousands of fans chanted her name. The audience was larger than that for Friday and Saturday's headliners, Arcade Fire and Metallica. Parton told the audience: "I've been waitin' a long time for this." The country singer and cultural icon sang tracks including Why D'You Come In Here Lookin' Like That? 9 to 5, Jolene and Coat of Many Colors. Good ol' Dolly - she's a real trooper.

Now here's something I saw on a cooking show recently that sounds interesting (even though I'll have to wait for fangs to try it). It's an English hot dog that uses a pork sausage instead of a frankfurter. Fry the sausage(s) for a few minutes until there's some fat in the pan. Add cored and peeled slices of granny smith apple and cook until browned. Put aside, and finish frying the sausage(s). When ready, add the sausage and apple to a hot dog bun, pour over some of the pan juices and enjoy! Sounds pretty good to me. I also like to toast my buns hehe... and don't be RUDE.

On the same show, another chef used ground venison to make burgers, which he said makes fab burgers. But the meat is very lean so he added a couple of ground bacon strips to the mix. Sounds like a good idea - even added to regular ground beef. The second chef used the burgers on an open sandwich on a plate, but also topped them with fried apple.

That's another thing I'd like to have learned at school if the subject had been on the curriculum - cooking. But in those days, cooking was for the girls. How short sighted and dumb! And a woman's place was in the kitchen. Have you ever heard the expression "just like grandpa used to make"? No? Go figure.

TX Greg wrote: I think I figured out what you and Josh are talking about on the top line of the waffle. Not sure what browsers you all are using but in IE at the bottom right is a way to increase the page size for easier reading. When I have the page set to 100% everything is all on one line, but if I go to 125% the lines double up. Gary now that you are using tables and cells you need to set the properties for each one. And you have some crazy tables inside tables stuff going on here, hehe. I might need to work up a simple template that will fix that. But to solve this problem you need to set the properties on the upper right cell to align to the right and then lower the words to below the boomerang pic.

Greg also sent HTML code but I'll fiddle with that tomorrow in case I bugger up something at this late hour and get myself into a holy pickle... which I am inclined to do on occasions. Yeah... tell me about it.

At the dental clinic this morning, Andries gave me a small bottle of medi honey, which Cherie bought for me from the health shop. Bloody hell, forty bucks even at a discount! That was very generous of her, but they're good to me those people.

And that's it for today, folks! Jeez, I lead an interesting life hehe. Not really... I just crap on a lot (being an old advertising copywriter). Gary

June 29, 2014. Did I say KY Mike? Oops! It's OK, as in Oklahoma. Fixed! Was there a musical called Oklahoma? I saw it as a kid. And if I remember correctly, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" came from that movie. And that's the kinda morning it is here in Taree... a tad chilly at the mo but it'll warm up.

And warm up it did. Back from my morning coffee and a bit of talk radio in PJ. Heard a lovely story about a country cab driver from Coffs Harbor (just up the coast from here) who went to the thoroughbred sales with $2000 hoping to buy a racehorse. Hehe. He ended up bidding for a horse that had "issues" but it looked okay to him. Cost him $1200. He almost got it for $800 but the auctioneer opened his big trap and said, "This horse has to be worth more than that! It won a Sydney barrier trial last week!" That attracted a few more bids which raised the price to $1200. Still dirt cheap for a racehorse, though. A good one can fetch many tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands.

Had his own vet check it and the verdict was put it in a paddock for 6 months and be kind to it. Prob was the horse wasn't too kind to him, and bit him. But he decided to kill the horse with kindness rather than punish it. So he persisted with training and the horse eventually came good. It ended up winning several races, including races in Sydney and Melbourne, and won a total of about $6 million. One time the owner was in England with the horse at a race meeting where the Queen happened to be in attendance. They met informally and began to chat - the Queen is an avid horse fan. There was a big screen in front of them showing race officials trying to get horses into the stalls. One refused and the Queen remarked, "They should know better. They should turn the horse around then try again, and it would go straight in." Which is exactly what happened. So the bloke dug her in the ribs with his elbow and said, "You should be a horse trainer!" She replied, "Maybe I should... but I won't give up the day job."

The horse is 14 years old now and retired from racing but still does occasional show runs at various meetings. And the owner - considerably richer these days - still has about six horses in work. He no longer has to drive a cab for a living.

Nice in the sun but pretty breezy out there. Worse in Sydney and areas south, though, where the wind is playing havoc with trees and power lines.

FL Josh wrote: Clearly Elliot Rodger had a personality that just radiated "get away," and he had nurtured that persona from when he was very young.  And he mentions being all alone so not only was he unable to interrelate with the girls but also the guys because he clearly had no guy friends.

I figure if he had convinced himself that girls (or even people generally) didn't like him, there was no way he would risk being proven wrong, so he created a barrier to vindicate his conviction. Seems he gained a morbid satisfaction from being shunned. Moreover, I think he enjoyed blaming others for his 'condition' instead of himself.

As to the pictures Mieke Boynton had on her article. . . good Lord that woman can take pictures.  Anyone can get the occasional good shot, but she just churns them out.  The composition, the depth of field, the everything.

She's a clever girl, alright... natural talent but also a hard worker. She was a champion athlete when she lived in the US, and applies that kind of dedication to everything she does. She's visited Tasmania a couple of times for winter photographic meets, and braved freezing temps, drizzle and rain to get great shots of the mountains, lakes and forests there. Personally, I think she's nuts. Not really, but that's what I tell her.

You said you went shopping but did not say anything about how PJ ran.  Does it seem to have any more pep?

Bit hard to tell around town in traffic but she certainly runs well. I'll need to take her out on the highway to detect any difference in performance but I'm on a pretty strict budget for the next 2 months until I pay off the debt. The ute was never designed for neck-snapping acceleration, but does handle the ton of camper sitting on her back quite well. I suspect the cracked head was a fairly recent development, which also caused rough idling and occasional misfiring.

So there I was this morning sipping coffee and listening to the radio while browsing through Camps Australia maps when it occurred to me that there are sooooo many little towns and places in Oz that are off the beaten track, I'll never get to see them all. Not in a million years! Little villages I've never heard of dotted between major centers. And even the major centers are no more than small towns anyway. So I think it's best not to even bother trying to cram in as many places as possible... just relax and enjoy what I do manage to see. Camping for a week in one nice place is far preferable to rushed overnight stops in half a dozen - and a helluva lot less stressful.

My Red Bubble mate Terry posted a pic recently of a 4WD out in Flinders Ranges country (which has a great reputation as a scenic must-see), and I was concerned about the track it was negotiating. Very rough and corrugated. So he wrote back and said it was an off-road track leading to a lookout, and not the main drag. He says PJ will have no trouble negotiating the scenic roads throughout the Flinders, which is great to know. That's one place I just gotta visit.

My morning coffee sessions in PJ are giving me itchy feet, imagining myself actually out there as I peruse the maps and recognize all the names I see regularly on the GN forum. Who's the patron saint of gums? I think I need to have a serious word with whoever it is.

Notta lotta stuff on the Beeb today, except that the Iraqi army says it's turning the tide and winning back some captured territory. I heard one bloke on the radio as I shaved saying if it weren't for Iraq's oil, the West and various Middle Eastern countries wouldn't show the slightest interest in getting involved in its internal conflicts. Oil, huh? 'Bout time we found a practical and cheap substitute.

There was also a discussion on the medicinal use of oil derived from marijuana for the treatment of cancer, and that despite the alleged success of clinical trials, those with a vested interest in traditional forms of treatment are pressuring governments and other authorities to ban the oil.

Actually, that reminds me in a way of how the automobile played a vital role in solving the huge problem of pollution in large cities like London during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Back then there was so much horse manure in the streets that it was affecting not only air quality but also people's health by generating various airborne diseases. At one stage, the government alone had 50,000 horses in London. In more modern times, of course, the situation has been reversed, and it's the automobile that has become the cause major pollution in many cities around the world. We certainly do love our private transport. Mine even has a kitchen sink!

FL Josh wrote to say that the top of the Waffle page used to have all the wording (the Waffle page & Keep the Odyssey wheels turning) all on one line, and now they're on two. I noticed that when the old Toshiba carked it and I switched to the Acer with a smaller screen. But Josh reckons it's happened since I started using Kompozer. Buggered if I know what's causing it. Maybe I need to resize the font or something. Why don't pages resize themselves automatically to suit various screen sizes or situations? Oh well...

I know that Kompozer does have a mind of its own in some ways and I'm still learning to use it, but it also has many advantages over the old Netscape Composer so I'll stick with it. One advantage is that I can display/edit HTML with a click of a button. With Composer I had to use a separate program, Windows Notepad.

Josh also sent this link to a fun video.

And now to condensed milk. Have you ever used it on camping trips? It's available in tubes or cans. I use it in smoothies, and love to scrape off the extra bits from the can lid on my finger and eat it. Yum! And when I empty the second half of can I love to spoon out the dregs and EAT it too! It's gorgeous stuff. Some army bloke during WWII accidentally boiled a can for 20 minutes or something (with a hole in the lid) and disovered that the milk had caramelized into a thick and tasty spread. My mother used to make it and use it as a caramel spread on toast. Yum! But any which way, condensed milk is yummy stuff.

Vietnamese coffee is made with condensed milk. I have a Vietnamese coffee maker which uses the drip method. You put condensed milk into the cup, and then the drip thingy on top. I've not tried it yet but I must.

Meanwhile, it's about time I wrapped this edition of Waffle (which doesn't rhyme with jaffle or snaffle but does rhyme with offal hehe) and attend to my evening ritual. Gary

June 28, 2014. Ah, so that's there the cursor went! Figured it out. And back from spending a couple of hours enjoying the sun and warmth in PJ, drinking coffee and listening to talk radio. It's kinda like camping when you're not camping.

FL Josh wrote: You had a link to, "wax on, wax off." I heard on TV just yesterday that when they were finished shooting Karate Kid, which was 30 years ago, one of the producers gave Ralph Macchio the yellow '48 Ford used in the movie and Macchio, now 52, still owns it.

30 years? Really? Bloody hell, that was quick! Anyway, I just love that car - one of the best looking Fords ever, I reckon. And I don't blame Macchio for hanging on to it. It's a classic.

I received an unexpected reaction to my piece on lonliness yesterday:

From TX Greg: Very well worded and soooo true :)

From OH Jim: Your comments about Zach and me were dead on. The same thing about you and Cody applies...  a common interest leads to good friends. Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Abraham Lincoln

From OK Mike: I once was caught in the trap of  "I will be happy when / if ." Having broken that juggernaut and running without a rudder for sometime I discovered many things about myself and what it truly is to be happy.  I fortified my insecurities with drink and drugs , much like Steve had done. Years slipped by without my approval, one day like the last, until something happened that changed my whole way of thinking, of doing things. I was caught up in thinking was I gay because I drank, or did I drink because I was gay, what a mess to find yourself in. When I tossed the crutches away and learned to lean on a collection of trusted friends things became clearer for me. I drank and used drugs to fit whatever situation I found myself in, and I found myself in many situations. Regardless of the amounts I would partake happiness always eluded me, no matter how much I used I would never fit in my own skin. Today, nearly seventeen years since my last debacle, I am pleasantly content with my station in life. When I quit trying to get those things that I thought I would have to have to be happy, happiness found me. When I quit being what I thought others thought I should be, I became me. There is nothing better in life than liking what it is that you have, there's no better feeling than doing something because it is the right thing to do.

It's rather like preaching to the converted, roite? Those of us who have learned the hard way. People who have convinced themselves that happiness can only be achieved via a certain route or goal are unlikely to be swayed easily. However, according to Justin, who is now a genuine shrink after graduating from shrink school, the secret to getting people to see the light as it were is to let them do the talking while the shrink asks the questions and steers the convo in a particular direction. Telling is not selling, as they say in the sales biz. Allow the person to arrive at his own conclusion. Women do that all the time with their husbands. It's called letting hubby think it was his decision hehe.

Also got an email from a bloke who used "mate" three times in the one para. No prize for guessing his nationality. He's a GN, and his name is Garry with an extra 'r' - ex cop - retired because of a heart attack. My younger bro was a cop. I remember seeing him shortly after he joined the force and wondering why his voice had suddenly plummeted to baritone. When I asked, he said, "well ya can't ask a driver to pull over in falsetto." Anyway, Garry is a regular Waffle reader so it's noice to have him on board, as long as he doesn't arrest me for telling cop jokes or being disrespectful.

Back from a little shopping. One onion, one bell pepper (red capsicum), one small bunch baby broccoli. That's all I needed in the veg department to make a chicken satay without the chicken. Well, sort of. I saute finely chopped onion, capsicum and broccoli in a wee dash of canola oil till soft, add a pouch of ready-made sauce, 1 1/4 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1/4 cup of water and stir for about 5 minutes. Then I add cooked and finely sliced chicken meat from the deli (after chopping it into teensy pieces) and stir through. Easily swallowed and no chewing. Soive with boiled rice. Sorry, roice. Makes a bit of a change from noodles.

From the Beeb:

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has extended a week-long ceasefire with pro-Russian separatists in the east for another three days. He said he was hoping for progress on his peace plan. Some rebel leaders in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions said they would observe the truce, but others rejected it. Mr Poroshenko's announcement came hours after he had signed a landmark EU trade pact - the issue that has been the trigger of the recent crisis. He said it was a "historic" moment, but Russia warned of "consequences" and that Ukraine would split in two.

Armed US drones are flying over Iraq to protect American military advisers on the ground, say officials. Their role is "force protection" of US assessment teams helping Iraqi security forces repel militants now running large parts of the country. They are supporting other manned and unmanned aircraft making 30-40 surveillance missions each day.

Legendary soul singer and songwriter Bobby Womack, who penned hits for many of the greatest musicians of the 20th Century, has died at the age of 70. The cause of death was not announced, but Womack had suffered from cancer and Alzheimer's disease and battled with drug addiction. His hits included It's All Over Now, performed by the Rolling Stones, and Lookin' for Love. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.

There was a time when I thought 70 wasn't a bad innings. Hehe. NOT NOW! Anyway, at least Bobby made his mark while he had the opportunity.

Roite, well there's the roice done - enough for several meals. I cook everything in advance. Then at dinner, I spoon roice into a bowl, add the satay sauce with veg, add the chopped chicken meat, a little liquid if necessary, and bung it in the micro for a minute or two. Voila! Dinner! And better than any of that frozen rubbish.

I make the trifle in advance too... two trays. When I'm peckish, I grab a spoon, eat my fill from the tray, put the lid back on and the tray back in the fridge. No washing up. I also make a liter of smoothie... 3 glasses... enough for the whole day. If I could eat regular food, I'd cook at meal times but what's the point if I'm on a diet of mush (or close to it). Things like steak, eggs and chips can't be cooked in advance. Ew! Gotta be done on the spot.

Lindsay gets his meals from Meals on Wheels, which ain't bad. But still a bit suss looking to me hehe. I'd rather make my own. But Lindsay's limit is a sandwich or nuking a frozen dinner. He can't even boil an egg. He gets me to boil 3 at a time for him.

Roite, that's the satay sauce done. Bit thick for me so I'll thin it in the bowl with a bit of stock. No wukkers. Isn't cooking fun? It will be when I can attack stuff with a new set of fangs. Speaking of which, what about that World Cup soccer player who bites people? Sumthin' seriously wrong with that bloke.

OH Jim wrote: WELCOME TO BEAR SCARE 2014 !!!

There's a wild eastern black bear that somehow made it across the Ohio River and was spotted yesterday morning about 2 miles north of my house.  We don't have bears in Ohio, let alone in the city, so the bear has been the topic of hours and hours upon endless hours of talk show blab on the wireless. There's been "experts" giving all kinds of advice from "don't feed it " and "don't scare it" or "don't corner it"  or "scare it, if it corners you". We been warned that bears can run 35 MPH, except in school zones, where the speed limit is 20 MPH. And that bears eat just about anything from bugs and fruit  to cats and dogs, and the occasional  goldfish in outdoor fish ponds.

As you know, we don't have bears in Oz except for Koalas (which are not really bears) but they have been known to drop out of trees and tear people to shreds (according to Barnacle Bill and other GNs on the forum). Various celebs posing for photos holding a koala have been peed on. The killer koalas are called 'drop bears', and there are signs in national parks (also according to Barnacle Bill) warning of the presence of Drop Bears in the vicinity. Hehe.

Jim also wrote: You might want to look into house wash for PJ's camper. it comes in an attachment for your garden hose, and you spray it on aluminum siding, then rinse it off. Then you could spray wax the cleaned camper. He's determined to turn me into a cripple, that bloke. But various GNs have recommended truck wash for campers. Forget the wax, though. I got better things to do, like flake out in the recliner and stack up a few Zs.

The black bear was just spotted (per WLW) on Euclid Ave, in Madeira. No wonder Little Black Cat was acting like the little hunter killer that she is. I just thought it was another deer that she wanted to kill. WLW has one of their interns, that they call their Senior Wildlife Correspondent, chasing after the bear on a motorcycle. Sadly, he doesn't have an Aussie accent. Where's Steve what's-his-name when you need him?

Irwin. Oh, and Steve Irwin's Aussie accent was cultivated for the US market. He was way better known "over there" than here. Hugely popular in the States. He also married an American.

Anyhoo, that's it from moi for today. Time for a bit of telly and satay. Home made - sort of. Gary


June 27, 2014. What better way to enjoy a coffee than sitting in the sunshine streaming through PJ's door? It's getting to be my new morning habit. The weatherman on the radio said it was minus 2C in Kempsey this morning (an hour north west of here) but will warm to 22 during the day. Ditto here. I used to work in Kempsey at the ABC radio station during winter, and rode my bicycle down the long hill to the station at 4.30am each weekday. Then I'd turn on the transmitter, a/c, and get the kettle going for coffee all with frozen fingers. The station relocated to Port Macquarie about 2001.

Meanwhile, Billeeeeeee and Jules posted a message on the GN forum yesterday. They're staying in Broome WA at the mo, enjoying sunny days and 30 degree temps and relaxing at Cable Beach. How noice! Mieke (whom I mentioned yesterday) lives nearby in Derby.

A Red Bubbler commented on one of my pics this morning and sent this story:

A photographer went to dinner hosted at home by a rather posh lady … on arrival he was complimented on his work with the words “you must have a very good camera” … he accepted the compliment graciously and proceeded to enjoy a fine meal.

At the end of the evening, the photographer thanked his hostess for the meal with the words “you must have a very good oven” ….

TX Greg sent me a note about Kompozer and the green background table not being aligned center. Fixed that, but now there's no cursor as I type this. I have to guess where it is. However there is a blinking "60px" thingy in the white column on the far left...whatever that means. I've had a few temptations to go back to Composer when strange things happen but that's no good either cos it's way too slow with a page as long as Waffle gets towards the end of the month. The prob with adding a pic to the Waffle page, for example, took me ages to figure out. Now I copy the pic from 'My Pictures' to the folder containing all the aussieodyssey stuff to avoid .../.../.../ in front of the pic URL. Confused? Yeah... so was I for hours. Then I discovered the Waffle tables getting out of hand... ending up with a large chunk of green before the white table appeared. Took me ages to figure out how to fix that as well. Meanwhile, I miss my cursor. Maybe Greg can tell me how to find it again.

Speaking of the devil:  Wow the wax job is looking really great there. I know that's a lot of hard work to do, but it does give a feeling of pride when you see the results. Now don't slack off and just do the truck cab. You still have the rest of the camper to do. Can we say "Wax On, Wax Off"

I dunno what I just did there, Greg, but the cursor's back. However, lemme say waxing the camper is simply not on the agenda, present or future. I have a long handled sponge mop stashed away in the storage bin in case PJ gets really, really, really dirty on the outside. Otherwise, a bit of a swish with a duster and an occasional swipe with a damp cloth inside will suffice. Wax schmax.

However, I did notice first thing this morning that a bird had defecated on the bonnet. Grrrrrrr. But it was still wet so I managed to remove it with a tissue. Ew! It was no doubt that idiot peewee that thinks its reflection in the wing mirror is another peewee. Dickhead chook.

FL Josh wrote: The ute cleaned up really well.  It looks great.  And it looks pretty respectable under the hood.

Thanks, Josh. Yep, she'll do the job. I can't afford pretty but I can afford practical hehe, and I know which one matters most. I was extremely lucky to find a camper that had undergone a major interior refit. Even though she's an oldie, she should last for many years. The bloke who did the refit obviously encountered some financial strife (or health problems) and had to sell. Then the next buyer went through a divorce and had to liquidate his assets. Happily for me, there I was waiting in the wings with only just enough money to buy the thing. Actually, if the highest bidder hadn't reneged shortly after the auction ended, my bid would have been just short of enough. How lucky can you get?

So, when I spend money on repairs to PJ, I'm mindful of what the previous owners went through, especially the one who did the refit. All that time and money down the drain. I'm not prepared to allow something like that to happen to me if I can possibly avoid it. As Steve W wrote, Happy you have PJ back, look after it. Yep, look after it I will! She's my future.

Steve also wrote: Have you ever used a product called Autosol……its a German metal polish in a small tube, rub it on your bull bar, polish off and it will be as shiny as! It’s quite cheap from most auto spare places and does a great job! The roo scooper is painted alloy, not bare metal. In any case, I'm not too fussed about it. This is the bush, mate. We're a pretty rugged lot out here ya know. No wukkers.

OH Jim wrote about visiting a surplus electronics place on his way home to check out a test meter he'd seen on sale at the ham fest a few days previously. The owner of the store recognized him and remembered him and his young friend, then asked what the young bloke was into - which happens to be older stuff. So the owner produced an old police hand held that someone had left on his table at Dayton, and told Jim to give it to his young mate.

The young bloke was thrilled with his new toy, of course, but I got to thinking about those two - both ham radio tragics, both into Ford Mustangs. Despite their age difference, they have a lot on common which really bonds them. They work on ham projects together, their Mustangs together, they eat out together, and the young bloke is always making himself at home at Jim's house. Reminds me of OH Jace and the relationship he has with neighbor Sean and Sean's family, whom he's known for donkey's years.

Which leads me to TX Greg's email yesterday about Elliot Rodger and lonliness. Lonliness to me can be a state of mind. Maybe not always, but I suspect many lonely people convince themselves that they can't be happy unless there's that special someone in their lives. To me, that's like convincing yourself you'll never be happy unless you win the lottery. Take Jim and his young mate as an example. What brought them together was their common interests. The hobbies came first, the friendship came second. Therefore, if you don't wanna be lonely, get interested in something... anything... and you'll soon find people with whom you can share that interest as well as a lasting friendhip - or more.

In Elliot Rodger's case, he was self-obsessed. Now who the hell is gonna be attracted to someone whose sole interest in life is himself? Asperger's syndrome it may have been, but it gets down to the same thing - me, me, me. Perhaps he figured the BMW and his father's fame would be sufficient to attract the girls. Big mistake. Girls attracted by such shallow things are not worth knowing anyway.

It's like trying to remember a person's name or a particular word. The harder you try, the more elusive that name or word becomes. As soon as you focus on something else, whammo, the name or word pops in. GNs are forever meeting people and making friends. Why? Because they all have something in common. Simple. They don't set out to make friends, it just happens as a consequence of their main pursuit, which is to get out there and see Oz. The reason I have for doing the Odyssey is not to improve my social life but to write a journal and take lots of pics. But you can bet your sweet bippy I'll know a lot more people after a year or two on the road than I do now.

From the Beeb:

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has told the BBC that he hopes jets from Russia and Belarus will turn the tide against rebels in the coming days. "God willing within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists' dens," he said. He said that the process of buying US jets had been "long-winded" and that the militants' advance could have been avoided if air cover had been in place. "I'll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract [with the US]," Mr Maliki said. "We should have sought to buy other jet fighters like British, French and Russian to secure the air cover for our forces; if we had air cover we would have averted what had happened," he went on.

A 12-year-old missing for 11 days was found by police in his own basement, and his father was told of the discovery live on television. Charlie Bothuell was feared dead after disappearing in Detroit on 14 June. On Wednesday, officers found the boy behind a barricade of boxes in his family's basement.

My oldest bro went missing as a kid one afternoon and my parents had all the neighbors out looking for him. After some hours, they found him in the kitchen cupboard getting stuck into a jar of jam. Hehe.

Eli Wallach, whose films included The Magnificent Seven and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, has died aged 98.  Character actor Wallach - who began his film career in 1956 after 10 years on stage - was admired for his wide range in a career spanning six decades. His portrayal of bandit chief Calvera in The Magnificent Seven was regarded by many as his definitive role.

Another one gone. But the legacy remains. Time for me to be gone too... but only till tomorrow (unless Fate has other ideas... not that I believe in Fate). Gary

June 26, 2014. Cherie at the dental clinic says it was 2 C when she left for work this morning. Brrrrrr. Lovely now though. When I arrived home, I made coffee and sat in PJ in the sun to enjoy it and have a little chat with Bubba. Bliss! I really do think of PJ as home now. And that sun on a winter's morning is just divine!

So here I am back in the cold house, drinking a smoothie and taking my meds, but soon I'll back in the yard giving PJ the rest of the beauty treatment - kinda like giving an old broad a face lift and telling her she looks gorgeous. Hehe.

My Red Bubble friend Mieke is back from a photographers exhibition in Indonesia, with some of the best photographers from around the world. She was invited to represent Oz - all expenses paid. Here's her journal of the event with pics. It's a great read.

Normally, TX Greg writes a line or two so I was surprised this morning to recieve his thoughtful, extensive and even passionate comments on the tragic circumstances surrounding Elliot Rodger. Back on the May 25th Waffle/Beeb you had the story of Elliot Rodger that went on the Isla Vista rampage... The story was all over the news here and for the past month I've been reading alot more about it. Barbara Walters who retired just last month is already coming back out of retirement to do an interview with Elliot's father, director Peter Rodger, which is to air this Friday the 27th.

Elliot was a 22 year old virgin who is believed to have suffered from Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, a narcissism disorder and a social anxiety disorder which when he hit puberty brought his life to a painful downhill spiral.

Although he couldn't always hold a normal conversation - he even shook form anxiety panic attacks when he met someone for the first time - he was able to talk to the camera on his cell phone. In his mind he really was totally unable to understand "Why do girls hate me so much?"

Elliot's YouTube Channel can be seen here...

And what he couldn't say in spoken words to reach out he left, what is being called his manifesto, his life story "My Twisted World". The PDF file can be downloaded here:

A family friend of the Rodger's Simon Astaire mentioned an encounter with Elliot once as "...I thought he was the loneliest person I've ever seen in my life." This one short vid that Elliot did made me tear up because the only real true solace in this world that he found was a cuppa from Starbucks, a good tune and enjoying the beauty and serenity of a sunset...

Gary, it reminded me just how important the words on your YouTube vid for Green Room are:

Teenage suicide
"Unless you've come close to doing something like that
you'll never know just how fucking down you are at the time
and just how close you are to doing the most drastic thing ever
so down that you don't think straight. Fuck, you just don't think.
As soon as you feel like that, call a friend - your folks - anyone
You need to know there's always something to live for
and that there's always someone out there for you."

My own feeling is that loneliness is largely a state of mind. But it's a bit late in the day to go deeply into that subject. Maybe tomorrow. I've been playing with PJ for a large part of the day, and enjoying being out in the sun. We won't get too many days like this before winter is over at the end of August, so make the most of it I will! BTW, I used double sided tape to attach "sweet home" to the wall in PJ. I think it's slightly crooked hehe. Dozen madder. As long as it covers Andrew's holes.

From the Beeb:

A new search area for the missing Malaysian plane has been announced by the Australian government after further analysis of satellite data. The search will now shift south to focus on an area 1,800km (1,100 miles) off the west coast of Australia, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss confirmed.

Researchers have developed a new manufacturing method which could bring down the cost of making a type of solar cell. A team at Liverpool University has found a way of replacing the toxic element in the process with a material found in bath salts. The scientists say that this could have a "massive, unexpected cost benefit".

Antibiotic resistance has been selected as the focus for a £10m prize set up to tackle a major challenge of our time. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a "post-antibiotic era" where key drugs no longer work and people die from previously treatable infections.

Google has announced the first smartwatches powered by its Android Wear operating system are now available for pre-order. The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live - both featuring rectangular screens - mark an attempt to standardise the way Android wearable devices function. "The problem with smartwatches so far has been that the sector hasn't quite decided what it wants to be - is it a phone on your wrist or an accessory device," Steffen Sorrell, from the Juniper Research consultancy, told the BBC. Dick Tracy here we come!

Well, it's about time I toddled off to la la land again. Blame PJ... she's getting possessive. Women are like that, ya know. Oh yes... the doc last night. No probs. Blood pressure's fine, weight's not, of course, but also not a major problem. I was the last patient for the day so he was itching to get home to his missus and dinner. And I was too late for the flu shot so I'll have to make a separate appointment. Gary

June 25. 2014. Yes, it's always a good idea to have a drawer full of handy bits and pieces "just in case" you need to repair something... like an airplane attacked by a bear.

I'm a tad disappointed that PJ's engine doesn't look all shiny and new after the head job (good thing Cody is not reading this), so I'll spend some time in the yard and sunshine to remedy that situation. Then I'll give the truck a wash and polish.

Did I say wash and polish? I've washed it, polished one door and one fender, and I'm having a rest. Sheesh! I hope being on the road makes me fitter from walking, cycling and generally DOING things. I'm so unfit now it ain't funny. But... I also ain't in a hurry. The paint is not what you'd call blindingly showroom shiny but it has improved. Years of greasy workman's hands left their marks around door handles but the polish easily removed those. Clean and respectable is the result, which will do. Mirror schmirror. The engine isn't as dirty as I thought last night. The aluminium cover (tappet cover?) is just tarnished with age. The engine started no prob this morning, auto choke working fine, exhaust clean, valve lifters quiet, idle smooth, revs willing and effortless. Ford replaced the EFI fuel filter as well. Sounds like she'll go forever! Or as Steve W put it: Hope PJ is tip-top, ship-shape and tickety-boo and is now trouble free for you. That's the Pom coming out in him.

BTW, it's a gorgeous day out in the sun - fantastic for winter. I even had to roll up my sleeves! The bureau expects it to continue for the next several days. Suits me!

Back from polishing the bonnet. That's enough. The passenger door and fender can wait till tomorrow. Who the hell needs to rush? It's looking nice and clean though. TX Greg wrote: Oh dear, that joke had to frazzle the nerves. Congrats on getting PJ back and running. I bet you feel like the Mazda commercial kid and are ready to "zoom, zoom", hehe.

Frazzle's roite. FL Josh also commented that my friend was very naughty. Very naughty indeed, but he said he felt really awful about it when he read yesterday's Waffle. Hehe. The reason he didn't answer the phone from Ford the first two times was cos he was in the loo. But if it’s any consolation, I’m having my regular colonoscopy (because of the bowel cancer years ago) tomorrow and was at the first stages of the “cleansing” process at the time of the calls and that’s why I couldn’t answer Chris. So was feeling pretty shitty myself so I just had to do something silly to brighten my crappy spirits. Sorry mate.

There ya go. But I'm feeling much better now that I've given PJ the beauty treatment, and enjoying having her back home. In fact, in the bathroom while shaving, I danced to the Monkees Last Train to Clarkesville and the Kinks Waterloo Sunset. Two great old songs. The program was talking about public transport, namely country train services (or the lack thereof).

Josh also commented: And as to the Ford dealer not cleaning the greasy handprints off PJ's finish left there from the repairs, that is inexcusable.

True, but it's not a biggie. I'm just relieved that it's all over (except having to lay low for the next two months while I repay the debt) and that I can get back to normal. No shakedowns but at least I can play! Mounting the 'sweet home' plaque is next. Er... after the rest of the polishing, that is. Josh also asked if BB was safe and glad to see me. Yes! Sitting patiently on the couch waiting for daddy (or gramps, take your pick), and I was glad to see him too. :)

I'm off to see the doc at 5pm cos that was the only time I could get this week. Better reverse PJ out the drive and onto the street before the traffic gets too busy. Done!

From the Beeb:

The first US troops deployed to assist the Iraqi army in combating a growing Sunni militant insurgency have arrived and begun work, the Pentagon has said. Nearly half the 300 special operations soldiers promised by US President Barack Obama are in Baghdad or on the front lines of the fight. The rest are expected within days. Also, US Secretary of State John Kerry called for regional unity to expel the Sunni Isis rebels who have taken large swathes of Iraq.

Few Australians are aware that the country's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had regular contact with foreign Muslims long before the arrival of Christian colonisers. And Islam continues to exercise an appeal for some Aboriginal peoples today, writes Janak Rogers.

A Nigerian man has been sent to a mental institute in Kano state after he declared that he did not believe in God, according to a humanist charity. Mubarak Bala, 29, is said to have been forcibly medicated by his Muslim relatives, despite being given a clean bill of health by a doctor. The International Humanist and Ethical Union say a Lagos-based group has asked a lawyer to take up his case. Kano is a mainly Muslim state and adopted Sharia (Islamic law) in 2000.

Well, off to the doc in a mo, so I'll post Waffle before I leave. Gary

June 24, 2014. When I was trying to solve the problem of the oscillator pic not appearing on the posted Waffle page, I became frustrated and was tempted to go back to using Netscape. But it's oh so slow compared to Kompozer which uses smart tags. Kompozer also has more features, although that necessitates a learning curve which can be annoying. Seems the older you get the more reluctant you are to changing old ways, which can be a disadvantage. Roite? I know lots of older peeps who won't go anywhere near a computer because they're terrified of the things hehe. They figure if they didn't need one in the past, why would they need one now? Averil was like that with microwave ovens. It wasn't until she was given one free by a friend who upgraded to a later model that Averil discovered the joys of cooking with a micro. Now she reckons she couldn't live without it. There ya go.

I resisted texting with my mobile phone for years, in fact, until just recently when a friend asked to be texted, so I was kinda forced into it. I still don't like using the numeric pad to type words with my thumb but I can also see the advantages of texting as opposed to making voice calls. Brevity is the key. The advantage to the receiver is that it only takes a quick glance to get the message instead of going through the whole hi, how are you routine with a voice call.

Mobile/smart phones have their drawbacks, of course, with people using them in inappropriate situations. I've seen heaps of footage on telly of people falling off railway station platforms onto the tracks, bumping into pedestrians or stepping in front of cars, colliding with doors, falling down stairs, etc., etc. Worse still are people who insist on using mobiles while driving a car.

Speaking of which, I downloaded this 1966 Ford Thunderbird the other day. What a great look! Clean, uncluttered, perfectly proportioned. A beautiful thang. Makes you wonder why they didn't stick with it. Nice house and landscaping in the background too.

And now FL must-have-the-final-say Josh: Let me rephrase my comment, removing the word pantry, and see if that helps. Lemme put it this way without going into a long and boring soliloquy; some GNs are tempted to take all kinds of cooking utensils, gadgets and clothing with them that never get used, so this particular GN was referring to putting stickers on those, and not stuff in the pantry or stuff that gets used on a fairly regular basis. I know I used the word "everything" in my original comment, Josh, but I wasn't expecting a legal eagle's fine tooth comb to do its microscopic delving.

OH Jim wrote: I agree with Josh about that waterless stuff that you are gonna subject PJ to. The paint is probably too far faded and will probably do more damage to its paint.  I learned a lot about restoring dead paint on my '68 Mustang. After trying just about everything I could find at Pep Boys and Autozone, I figured out that nothing takes the place of a new paint job, which probably won't be in the cards for PJ. So you could try to use a buffer and buff the paint, but you'll probably do more damage from inexperience. The TV shows make it look so easy, but if you never buffed, it isn't. Wash the thing with water, and polish it by hand, and then wax it good. After that, wash it occasionally and then use a spray wax that you spray on, and wipe off with a clean towel immediately. hey... PJ is a TRUCK, and it's ok to have a truck with some character and a kick-ass engine.

Washing and waxing sounds like work, Jim. I'm retired, remember? Yes, old utes are a bit like old jeans... they don't need ironing or even washing. Faded thighs, holey knees and threadbare cuffs are fine too.

BTW, I 've also learned that what we refer to as valves in old radios in Straya are called vacuum tubes "over there".

From the Beeb:

Sunni rebels in Iraq say they have fully captured the country's main oil refinery at Baiji, north of Baghdad. The refinery had been under siege for 10 days with the militant offensive being repulsed several times. The complex supplies a third of Iraq's refined fuel and the battle has already led to petrol rationing. Insurgents, led by the group Isis, have overrun a swathe of territory north and west of Baghdad including Iraq's second-biggest city, Mosul. They are bearing down on a vital dam near Haditha and have captured all border crossings to Syria and Jordan. A rebel spokesman said the Baiji refinery, in Salahuddin province, would now be handed over to local tribes to administer. Meanwhile, the West watches and doesn't quite know what to do.

Got the call from Ford... PJ's ready. I'd been worried that Ford would charge an arm and a leg for the job despite quoting $1500. Fortunately, that didn't happen and they honored the quote. But I was relieved nonetheless. Then I had to message my friend who offered to take care of the bill on his credit card to let him know when Ford would call him for the transaction. Have you ever tried to message anyone from a little cheapy mobile phone? Any more than 2 or 3 words is an absolute pain... pressing tiny buttons 2, 3 or 4 times to select the correct letter, making mistakes, being too slow, forever erasing and starting again. AND THEN having to select alpha and/or numeric and back again. Aaaagggghhhhh!

So the Ford driver was late. Phoned Ford to see what the prob was. Texted my friend again with a revised message. Finally arrived at Ford a nervous wreck. "I thought you'd be all excited," said the driver. "I will be when this is all over," I replied. Gave the receptionist my friend's phone number. She phoned twice. No answer, so she left a message. No answer? That's odd. Maybe my friend has reneged or spat the dummy for some reason. A few days ago, he received some bad news about being ripped off by his ex partner for a large sum of money, which caused him to have second thoughts about a loan to me. So the possibility of a backflip was already something I'd considered.

So I sat there thinking the worst. I'd have to leave PJ at Ford and make my own way home, not knowing how I would resolve the issue. I'm used to disappointments but, after all I've been through over the years to get PJ together - to turn my dream of the Odyssey into reality - the thought of having to leave PJ at Ford, to an uncertain fate, was a nightmare come true.

The receptionist asked me to relax in the customer lounge with a coffee while she tried the number again at 10 minute intervals. Sure. Why not? I had nothing better to do, and I needed the time to collect my thoughts. The world had gone mad.

A few minutes later, as I endeavored to make a cup of crap instant coffee, the receptionist appeared and said she'd managed to contact my friend: "He said he's never heard of you and doesn't know what you're talking about." Oh? But it wasn't such a great surprise, really. I'd already figured something had gone terribly wrong anyway, and that this was it. Kelly's got a million ideas but none of them work. The old story again. Then she asked if I wanted to speak to him on the phone.

Back to her desk I went, took the phone, but the line was bad. I couldn't make out what was being said at first, but it sounded like "it was only a joke". It took a moment to sink in. A joke? So I burst out laughing. Yes, it was funny. Hilarious even. But my nerves had already been frazzled by worrying about Ford sticking to the quote, and then hoping that coordinating the transaction would go through without a hitch. Even now, two hours later, I'm still a mess. I honestly believed back at Ford that the whole deal had fallen apart. Instead of driving home thrilled with being reunited with PJ, I drove home in a daze.

You know how it is with a near miss? You're glad you're still in one piece but at the same time still shaken? That's how it is. After a good night's sleep I'll be fine again. But I hope never to go through a stressful time like that again. Never!

Oh yes... PJ's engine sounds great. I checked under the bonnet... doesn't look much different, and the lads left their greasy fingerprints all over the place, including on the paintwork, but that's the least of my worries. And yes, she's been fitted with 4 new spark plugs. Gary

June 23, 2014. Had a terrible time last night for several hours trying to get the pic of the oscillator to stick to the page, so I resorted to reading the Kompozer help forum and saw something about the root of the pic (address, URL) so I fiddled around with that and managed to fix the prob. What a drama! Simple when you know how though.

FL Josh must have been checking while I was fixing, and said the pic showed on one browser but not another. That's not the case any longer.

Josh also checked out the waterless wax/polish I referred to and said the paintwork had to be clean before you use the wax. Yep, they told me that when I bought it, and it's written all over the can, Josh. But it doesn't need to be "just washed" clean. Anyway, when I mentioned that teensy molehill I wasn't expecting it to be turned into Everest.

And speaking of not real bright, I got a kick out of the system the GN came up with to keep his pantry free of out of date food products. "One GN puts red stickers on everything and then removes them during use. Anything that still has a red sticker on after 6 months gets the flick."  Brilliant.  When he checks his pantry, everything in it will have a red sticker on it and therefore "get the flick."  And as if that is not dumb enough, when he uses a food item from his pantry, he removes the red sticker from the container before throwing it in the trash.  As Click and Clack, the "tappet brothers" like to talk about their radio show, Car Talk, "Decisions unencumbered by the thought process."

Pantry? Pantry, pantry, pantry. Where dat? Did I say pantry? Nope... can't find any reference to pantry in the piece about the GN and red stickers, Josh.

But there's more! As for Life not recognizing cruelty and sadism, of course not.  Life isn't something that can recognize anything.  It is a state of being, the state of not being dead.
Just thought I'd mention it anyway, Josh. Sorry about that. They're not all luminaries out there, mate.

TX Greg noted that Steve W is off to England for a few years and wants to know what Plan B is now that I can't use Steve's home address for mail when I hit the road. I don't have a Plan B yet. Averil next door would be fine except she doesn't have access to email, and my older bro doesn't want "that kind of responsibility" in his dotage. Sheesh, my snail mail is confined to less than a handful of notices each year, such as license, registration, insurance reminders etc. Everything else is electronic. You can get a commercial forwarding addy but they're all too expensive. I'll figure something out.

Chris, the receptionist at Ford is getting a tad peeved with my calls hehe. That's too bad. I'm not gonna sit around waiting for her to phone. So the news is they're working on PJ and she should be ready later this afternoon. How noice!

When I had Bluey serviced at the Nissan/Kia dealer at the other end of the Ford complex (not sure if it's part of the same company), the service manager there was great. He took the time to explain things every time I arrived to collect the car, and sometimes over the phone before I collected the car. Ford's attitude by contrast is more concerned with its own problems than mine. It's like they're doing me a favor and I should be grateful for whatever I get.

It's become embarrassingly apparent since running around the house with my fleecy rug draped over my shoulders that I would have made a pathetic Zorro. I'm forever sweeping stuff off shelves and getting the corners stuck in drawers. I never saw Zorro doing that. He could leap about the place, swashing and buckling to his heart's content without his cape ever rearranging the joint. He was all class, that guy

Why it is it that TV programs had a much greater impact on my life as a kid/teen than they do now? I have very fond memories of shows like Peter Gunn, Wyatt Earp, The Honeymooners, Have Gun Will Travel, Cheyenne and Sugarfoot, Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, Route 66, Kojak, My Three Sons, Not Only But Also, Perry Mason, Bonanza and so many others. TV these days holds very little interest for me. Maybe it has something to do with growing up and the memories associated with a special time of life.

From the Beeb: 

The Iraqi government appears to have lost control of its western borders after Sunni militants reportedly captured crossings to Syria and Jordan. Officials said the rebels took two key crossings in Anbar on Sunday, a day after seizing one at Qaim, a town in the province that borders Syria. The strategically important airport in the northern town of Tal Afar has also reportedly fallen to the rebels. Isis-led militants have cut a swathe through parts of Iraq.

A recent Magazine article about the decline of Australian slang prompted readers to share some of their favourite expressions. The piece, by Sydney correspondent Jon Donnison, looked at the huge contribution to "strine" made by Barry Humphries and terms originating in the country's legendary laddish drinking culture. Here's a selection of other slang phrases you sent in.

Roite, 3pm and getting close to PJ time. Ford said they'd phone me but bugger that. I'll phone them before 4pm. I'm not feeling terribly confident at the mo... too many disappointments. So let's see what happens.

I was just reading about Harriet on the GN forum. Harriet was a Giant Galapagos tortoise taken from the island by naturalist Charles Darwin in 1835 and kept as a pet. I'm not sure when Darwin died but it was a helluva lot earlier than Harriet. She was 176 when she carked it at Steve Irwin's zoo in Queensland in 2006. I've heard of pet cockatoos lasting 80 years but 176 is awesome! I remember seeing footage of her on telly in her old age and I can tell you, she didn't look too sprightly hehe. Mind you, tortoises are not generally known for leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

And now for the call to Ford. Ready? Well, they've almost got it all back together but they haven't started the engine. Until they do, they won't know if it's running okay. It's a bit late in the day to be testing engines so better to wait until tomorrow. And that was my suggestion! No point in rushing things at this point just to have PJ parked in the yard overnight. Methinks Ford bit off more than it could chew with this job, which I suspect is something none of the mechanics there is used to dealing with. I was quoted $1500 and asked if I wanted to go ahead with that so they'd better not try to pull a swifty and up the price. That would be a job for Consumer Affairs to handle and I don't mind telling Ford that's where I'll go if they don't stick to their word. It doesn't need to be a written agreement either... verbal/oral will suffice. Anyway, I may be worried about bugger all. I'll find out tomorrow.

Oh, won't it be wonderful when all this drama is over! Then I can focus on the music PJ's engine makes with its new stable of galloping steeds as she whizzes down the highway. Bliss! Actually, 2.6 liters is pretty big for a four. Most of the old sixes in Oz, like the early Holden, Ford Zephyr, Wolseley. etc, were only a tad over 2 liters. My dad owned a Standard Vanguard with a 2 liter four. But most English fours were 1.5 or smaller. The Beetle was only 1.2 until the late '60s. And the first Minis whizzed around with 850cc under the bonnet. So, yeah, 2.6 is quite substantial.

So there goes Mondee. No PJ in the yard but getting closer. So's Christmas according to Steve W hehe, but at least there has been some progress. It's the old story of the hare and the tortoise. Gary

June 22, 2014. Here's a post on the GN forum of How Not To Pass a Road Train While Towing A Caravan

FL Josh commented: You wrote, "There's also a can of spray-on wax/polish in PJ's storage bin you can use without washing the car first."  As soon as you finish washing a vehicle, dust and grit starts settling on the finish.  If you use a wax/polish that claims you can use it without washing the vehicle first, you are, in effect, using sandpaper on your finish

Unless it's this stuff.

You also wrote, "To be honest, if this is the last time I ever polish a car it won't be too soon."  If that is the case, be sure to use a wax\polish guaranteed to last forever

Provided that's how long I wanted it to last... or unless I paid someone else to do it.

Steve W discusses inherited genes: I have also inherited my Dad’s “hoarding gene”. We emigrated (immigrated) WTF from the UK to Oz 50 years ago, this year in fact, arriving on April 1st somewhat appropriately! My Dad was allowed do to all his own packing from his shed into tea chests as they were then called. When they the arrived in Sydney, some months after us, my Mum had apoplexy when she saw what my Dad had packed to travel 12,000 miles……not just old nuts and bolts by the hundreds, but small pieces of wood, string (just in case they didn’t have that in Australia), rusty nails and used screws - that will impress the Aussie’s - bet they haven’t seen those before!

However, now that I’m packing up my goods and chattels to return to the UK for a few years, have discovered I have accumulated and kept so many “just in case” items that have moved house with me probably 6 times and most never used or even looked at in 20 or more years. It is time to dispose, which I have been doing and found it very therapeutic in fact.

Whilst I am an Australian citizen I can still hold my UK passport which is pretty good so can live there indefinitely. I became an Aussie officially after 33 years of being in Australia and the ceremony was conducted by the Honourable Bronwyn Bishop MP, who is the current speaker of the House of Representatives in Canberra. She is very short and her hair is about as tall as her. When I told her how long I had been in Oz before becoming a citizen, she asked “I hope you make other decisions more quickly than that?” I said I would have to get back to her on that answer! Still haven’t. 

I'm sure a lot of Poms who emigrated to Oz had the idea that we were a bit uncivilized and simple out here hehe. Many took umbrage at how disrespectful we were to our "betters". But most settled in okay and became dinky di Aussies. As to hoarding, I'm forever finding groceries way past their use-by date (sometimes years) that I'd forgotten about but purchased in the first place "just in case". Once I'm on the road, I'll be limited by PJ's size and carrying capacity which should cure my impulse buying quick smart. One GN puts red stickers on everything and then removes them during use. Anything that still has a red sticker on after 6 months gets the flick. Ah, yes, Bronwyn Beehive Bishop... or should that be 'Bossy'? Not my favorite lady. Anyway, Steve, enjoy your time in Jolly Olde. I'm sure we'll be getting amusing anecdotes direct from the Mother Country from time to time.

Oh yes, before I fergit... the poster of historic auto related pics on a newsgroup has been at it again, so I put another 50 together in an album which you can peruse here.

OH Jim went to another hamfest yesterday... just a quickie before work. He also sent a few pics of something his young friend built. Every home should have an oscillator, right? He started with the item in the first pic, built what you see in the second, and installed it in his transmitter to replace the broken one. Clever kid. Is that an old valve? My dad played with those many, many moons ago. Then, in the late '50s my parents bought a portable Japanese National transistor radio with leather case. Probably thought it was a technological marvel! 

From the Beeb: Iraq's government is struggling in its battle against militants, diplomats and politicians have told the BBC. Fighters from theIslamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) said they seized a border crossing to Syria and two towns in north-west Iraq on Saturday. Correspondents say Isis appears to be better trained, better equipped and more experienced than the army

The building of a museum to house the work of William Heath Robinson will start this autumn. This great illustrator of absurd contraptions has bequeathed a curious legacy. Heath Robinson is now part of the vernacular. The phrase transcends the man and has entered the English language. First seen in the dictionary in about 1912, Heath Robinson-ish/esque/like means an "absurdly ingenious and impracticable device".

US country music star Glen Campbell's Alzheimer's disease has worsened to the point where he needs full-time professional care, his wife has said. Campbell, 78, revealed he had been diagnosed with the disease in 2011. Isn't that sad. Alzheimer's (dementia) is such a cruel disease

Yes, robbing a person of their body is one thing but robbing them of the essence of their being - the essence of who they are - is quite another, and so ruthlessly sadistic. On the other hand, Life itself doesn't recognize human concepts such as cruelty and sadism. Sympathy and empathy are not part of Nature's modus operandi. 

Speaking of nature, some GNs are talking about global warming. One bloke wants to know who took it... cos it was 5C overnight in tropical Qld yesterday. Another reckons he's got more to worry about cos the bloody cockatoos have pinched the chillis from his garden, as well as the leaves and stalks, and left their excreta all over his tiles as their final departing insult. Now he's gonna have to use powdered chilli on his Mexican mince and beans tonight. And a bloke from Tasmania reckons if anyone has any global warming to spare to send it down his way cos he's freezing his tits off.

I can tell you there's not too much global warming around Taree at the mo either.

And here's something about our dear Fred on this day: 

1987  -     Singer, dancer and actor Fred Astaire dies.

Fred Astaire was born Frederick Austerlitz in Nebraska on 10 May 1899. Astaire's mother took him to New York for professional dance training in 1906, with the intent to train him for a career in vaudeville. A Paramount Pictures screen test report on Astaire read simply: "Can't sing. Can't act. Slightly balding. Also dances." Astaire went on to become a film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor.

Astaire was awarded an honorary Oscar for his "unique artistry and his contributions to the techniques of musical pictures" in 1948. He won nine Emmys for a series of TV specials in the 1950s and 60s and in 1978, he was among the first recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement. He was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1981 by the American Film Institute. Physically active right into old age, Astaire died from pneumonia on 22 June 1987.

So much for the "experts". Doncha love it when they get it so wrong?

And that's it from me for the weekend of Waffle, dear Breth. I'm looking forward to getting my security blanket back tomorrow. Hell, I miss that thing! Gary

June 21, 2014. OH Jim pointed out the other day that today is solstice day but I forgot. Then Steve W pointed it out again last night. So I was pretty close about yesterday being the shortest day but not quite... today is. Here's a short article on the GN forum which explains what the solstice is all about. 

Jim asked what kind of wax I use on PJ. Short answer is I don't use a regular brand. I just buy any old thing off the shelf. I currently have a bottle of Turtle stuff that's supposed to get rid of minor swirl marks. It's a leftover from Bluey, so I'll use that. There's also a can of spray-on wax/polish in PJ's storage bin you can use without washing the car first... provided the dirt is not mud. I'll use that as a topper if needed. To be honest, if this is the last time I ever polish a car it won't be too soon. Jim also writes: I agree with Josh about how great JB Weld is. I've used it on I don't know how many things through the years... from a cracked and leaking toilet tank that I broke when I dropped a big set of channel lock pliers in it, to broken radio knobs and even the steering wheel on my '68 Mustang.

I'm a bit like my dad in that I keep old nuts and bolts and washers and screws and whatnots "just in case" they come in handy for something. I also have string, rope, tape, wire, tie downs, tubes of various goo and other bits and pieces. Every time I read a post about handy hints or tips on the GN forum I end up with something else squirreled away in PJ.

However, I have had second thoughts about visiting remote places accessible only by rough dirt roads. I don't need the kinda drama that comes with breakdowns in the middle of nowhere just to add another dot to the map of places I've been. There's a million other places more easily accessible and better serviced, most of which I won't have time to see anyway. And if some places are a "must see", I can always join an organized tour and leave the breakdown worries and rough roads to someone else. Sooooo, no heroics from this old boy.

I checked out one GN blog this morning to see pics of a steep 2km walk through the Pinnacles at Halls Gap. Lots of pics of rocks. And more rocks. Rocks, rocks, rocks. I mean, really, I have nothing against rocks, but... enuff is enuff! The view from the lookout was spectacular but, other than that, yeah... rocks. I noticed one sign there that pointed to a 0.1km walk. That's more my style.

At the mo, though, this damn cold is sapping my energy and leaving me breathless. And no, I'm not taking anything for it. I take too many damn pills as it is already, so it can just do its thing and die its natural death... the sooner the better. However, I did invest in stronger, thicker tissues capable of stopping slimy missiles from escaping and splattering anything and everything within range. Ew!

From the Beeb: The Brazilians who avoid football. They are the Brazilians who are not interested in watching the World Cup. Instead of spending 90 minutes in front of a TV or at one of the 12 World Cup stadiums, they prefer to bake cakes, surf, walk the dog, watch their favourite classic films - or even sleep. Here, we speak to five Brazilians who contradict the old cliche that everyone in their country loves football.

The White House has set up a taskforce to tackle the decline of honey bees. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the agriculture department will lead the effort, which includes $8m (£4.7m) for new honey bee habitats. Bee populations saw a 23% decline last winter, a trend blamed on the loss of genetic diversity, exposure to certain pesticides and other factors. A quarter of the food Americans eat, including apples, carrots and avocados, relies on pollination. Honey bees add more than $15bn in value to US agricultural crops, according to the White House.

Like other leaders around the world, Cuba's Fidel Castro has had over the years several government limousines at his disposal. But some of the older, Soviet-built presidential limousines have been decommissioned and reborn as Havana taxis. The luxury cars can be seen on the streets of Havana carrying foreign tourists with a taste for history. About 14 of these cars were passed on to Cubataxi five years ago.

Which reminds me, the Drum panel on telly the other night was discussing the surprise expressed by other countries toward the lack of security in Oz for Australian politicians. Oz pollies go pretty much anywhere, mixing with the locals, without the need for protection. The issue came about because one pollie was worried about being jostled by a group of protesting students at a university so he hired "a" bodyguard. Even pop stars have more than that. Here in Oz though it's only when we host visiting pollies, like Obama, that the choppers and bullet proof cars and whatnots are dusted off. Otherwise, it's owyagoin' mate, no worries.

Abbott often competes in public triathlons and cycle events with little or no security... not that you'd notice, anyway.

Oh yes, and limos... our PM gets wheeled around in a 10 y/o Holden hehe. Mind you, it's a pretty flash Holden but basically the same as you can buy from a showroom. I saw a clip on telly the other night showing the PM visiting a property out west and stepping out of an old ute much like my Courier.

Time to vanish again till tomorrow, and then one more sleep till PJ arrives home... I hope. What a saga! Gary

June 20, 2014. There's been much discussion on the GN forum lately about 'self contained' RVs and local councils stipulating that only self contained RVs are allowed to camp overnight in certain areas within their duristiction. According to council by-laws, it means that only RVs with gray water and sullage tanks can use the facility. My question is, if a rig doesn't have a built-in shower, does it need a gray water tank anyway? Or a sullage tank if it doesn't have an on-board loo? Is it a crime to not shower for 24 hours? Or take a Number 2? Is it against a council's by-laws to pee in a bottle? Why am I thinking that you don't need to be a genius to be a councillor?

I've had a mobile phone for years but it's only now that I'm discovering how convenient it is. I bought it for emergencies, such as car breakdowns on the road. Months or even years would pass without making a single call. Or receiving one. But today, for example, I sat in the sunshine on the veranda while I phoned Ford and sent a text to another person. How lovely! Beats being anchored to the "office". Anyway, Ford is currently working on PJ but the job won't be completed today... rather, it looks like Monday afternoon. At least now that I'm aware of that, I can do a little shopping and other things without worrying about missing a call.

I've always loathed being a pest, but another thing I've discovered is that being a pest pays dividends. Sometimes it's the only way to get things happening. The risk you take with being Mr Nice Guy is being taken for granted... which doesn't mean you need to be nasty... just pesky. 

Back from shopping, and as I put stuff away into the cupboards I thought how nice that would be if they were PJ's cupboards.

From the Beeb:President Barack Obama says the US will send 300 military advisers to Iraq to help fight Islamist-led insurgents. Mr Obama said the US was prepared for "targeted and precise military action, if and when" required, but added that US troops would not fight in Iraq. He insisted there was "no military solution" and urged the Shia-led Iraqi government to be "inclusive". US Secretary of State Kerry is expected to travel to Iraq soon to press for a more representative cabinet.

Scientists who claimed to have found a pattern in the sky left by the super-rapid expansion of space just fractions of a second after the Big Bang say they are now less confident of their result. The BICEP2 Collaboration used a telescope at the South Pole to detect the signal in the oldest light it is possible to observe. At the time of the group's announcement in March, the discovery was hailed as a near-certain Nobel Prize. But the criticism since has been sharp

Songwriter Gerry Goffin, who penned chart-topping songs with his then-wife Carole King, has died at the age of 75 in Los Angeles. He wrote dozens of hits over two decades, including The Loco-Motion, Will You Love Me Tomorrow and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. He was inducted, along with King, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In a statement, King said Goffin was her "first love" and had a "profound impact" on her life. "His words expressed what so many people were feeling but didn't know how to say."

The founder of the Wikileaks website Julian Assange says he fears for the safety of his family. Speaking at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, Mr Assange said unspecified individuals had made threats against his children and his mother. He complained that he has been unable to see them in four years. Mr Assange took refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy two years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Iconic motorbike manufacturer Harley-Davidson has revealed its first electric motorcycle. The bike will not go on general sale, instead the firm will select customers from the US to ride it and provide feedback The bike - dubbed Project LiveWire - will travel down the US's Route 66 visiting more than 30 Harley-Davidson dealerships between now and the end of the year. Fans had a mixed reaction to the bike

Can you imagine a gang of Hell's Angels hoping to strike fear and dread into the hearts of locals by gliding silently down the main street of town? For that matter, can you imagine a galloping horse without the sound of hooves?

FL Josh is auto man from way back, and had his share of grease under the fingernails: Five Epic Improvised Automotive Repairs. I love J-B Weld and have been using it for years.  It comes in different styles and one version is quick set that sets up in about five minutes.  Sticks to damned near anything and the first time I learned about it was in a hardware store where they had a bunch of nuts and bolts J-B welded to the top of a 32oz glass Coke bottle.  Anything that would stick to glass like that impressed me and I have used it ever since.

I had to quickly adopt a bit of improvisation when I pasted Josh's email just then. The URL was a mile long and stretched the page so I got busy with the tools and learned a few new things. Kompozer is similar to the old Composer but there's also a lot that's different.

Is today the shortest day of the year? Not sure... but the sun set before 5pm so it's hereabouts. Which also means I'm about to swap the typist chair for the softee and a bit of telly. Looking forward to pastrami with my noodles tonight too. Love pastrami! Gary

June 19, 2014.  BR Joao has been interested in the World Cup: I know it’s not a big deal for you, but the Socceroos played a great match against Netherlands. It was one of the best matches of the tournament until now.Probably Australia won’t pass to the next round (as I said, it’s a very difficult group) but Aussie football already has an international expression, and this is a very good thing. Well done, Socceroos!

Thanks, Joao. But here on the east coast of Oz the focus last night was on AFL and the series final between NSW and QLD (the Blues and the Maroons) in the State of Origin match, which NSW won for the first time in 8 years. I didn't watch that either but Lindsay did. Barnacle Bill, a Queenslander, will have cried in his weeties this morning.

Ford phoned to say all the parts have arrived and that the job will be done "as soon as possible". There we go again with those infuriatingly imprecise timelines. So I asked what "as soon as possible" meant hehe. "Hopefully today." Oh dear... well, at least that's a bit more precise.

Andries studied my X-ray this morning on his PC monitor and said I have a head full of staples... fasteners used during the operation on the cancer in January 2012. God knows what alarms I would set off if I walked through a security scanner at an airport. Can you imagine what I must have looked like, lying there on the operating table under the lights, with my neck sliced open from ear to ear and all the ikky bits on show? Ew!

FL Josh wrote to comment on teen behavior and OH Jim's situation: As to OH Jim's young friend, part of becoming a teen is the need to establish your independence from your parents, and that usually translates as doing things your parents don't approve of.  When I was a kid, we could do this pretty harmlessly by growing our hair out. "Stretching his leash" is a wonderful way to put it. It's when kids channel that drive into things too far out there that they get into trouble.  I agree with OH Jim's feeling that he does not want to destroy the boy's trust in him.  That is a difficult line to walk, and I think the thing to consider is what is to be gained by the parents knowing something in exchange for the loss in trust.  If it is something that cannot be undone and the only thing to be gained is to persuade the boy not to repeat it, then it might be to the boy's advantage to hear the lecture from Jim and not have the parents find out, as opposed to the parents finding out, giving the boy the same lecture Jim did, and the trust is irreparably damaged.

We spend our entire lives making judgements based on incomplete information. The ol' "what you don't know won't hurt you" trick. Most of us, if not all, project a public persona that hides certain aspects of our character that we prefer to keep secret. That very subject was discussed on telly the other night by a panel asked how it reacted to the news that Mr Goody Goody Two Shoes, Rolf Harris, had been charged with sexual assault on young girls. All were shocked, of course.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama had told Congressional leaders he does not need lawmakers' approval for any action in Iraq, the top Senate Republican says. Senator Mitch Mc McConnell was speaking after a meeting between the president and senior members of Congress. Iraq has asked for US air strikes against advancing Sunni militants.

The internet trade in images that show child sex abuse is now "an epidemic", according to the head of the global initiative to combat the problem. Police officers from around the world serve on the Virtual Global Taskforce. Its chairman, Ian Quinn, tells the BBC there has been an "explosion" in cases handled by US authorities. The US alone has 61 Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) units, each made up of state, local police and federal agents

A new type of chemical iris designed for smartphone cameras has been created by researchers in Germany. Traditional cameras use mechanical blades to change the size of the aperture through which light enters. The new micro-iris features transparent chemical rings which turn opaque when a small voltage is applied. The ultrathin device could inspire a new generation of tiny cameras for phones and tablets according to a study in the Journal of Optics.

One of the GNs regularly posts a history of "on this day", and today's has short articles on the abolition of slavery in the US, the history of the modern pizza, and Garfield the comic strip character. Most interesting.

There's also a post by a GN who's on the pension as well as permanently on the road, whose clutch broke. So he got in touch with a local mechanic, shopped around on eBay, found a supplier in West Oz happy to ship the kit to the mechanic, and solved his problem while still living in his rig. Which all goes to prove that attending to breakdowns while travelling is really no different to attending breakdowns from a normal home base.

Speaking of home base, Jess answered the phone at Ford this time (I don't wait for their calls any more... I call them). She said they didn't get a chance to start work on PJ today but that it will be first cab off the rank tomorrow morning. Then she added, "I'll make sure it is." Good ol' Jess.

The weather looks good for the weekend so that'll be an excuse to give PJ a show and shine, and fiddle about a bit inside. Can't do much else for a month or so - these bills lately have plundered the cookie jar. But at least I'll have PJ and Bubba back!

It occurred to me this morning lazing in the bright sunshine on the veranda that winter in June is quite pleasant if you can get out of the house during the day. Camping would be no problem provided you had ample heating of a night. Also, heating a space the size of PJ is a lot easier and cheaper than heating a whole house. Not having to go from room to room to fetch things is another plus. Everything is within easy reach.

My surrogate bank manager just texted me while I was in the loo to say he assumed "it" (the job at Ford) was not happening today. "What a surprise!" Yeah... sometimes I forget this Waffle page is not a live broadcast hehe.

However it is time I went walkabout. Hooroo for now! Gary

June 18, 2014. After using Netscape Composer since the late '90s as my WYSIWYG HTML editor I downloaded Kompozer last night. It's an updated (2010) version of Composer by the Firefox (zilla) folks. I think TX Greg wrote something about that a while ago. I can see the similarities between Composer and Kompozer, as well as the additional tools like CSS (whatever the bloody hell that is). Anyway, looks like I've finally gone "modern".

One thing I've noticed so far is that entering new text into Kompozer is a lot faster than Composer, which began to struggle once a Waffle page reached its half-way point through the month.There's a Kompozer forum on the web so I might take a sticky beak one of these days and pick up a few new tricks. Not that I want AO to be flashy... I'm quite happy with the absence of whizz bang doo dads which become tiresome after a while anyway.

Creating links is easier too. I don't need to type target="_blank" each time I want the link to open in a new window... I just click on 'open in new window'. Easy peasy!

No surprises with FL Josh's admission: Guilty as charged.  I was a parent's dream, but I don't remember any of the kids I hung around with ever getting into any trouble.  I guess it's the old adage, "you are judged by the company you keep."

Or birds of a feather. OH Jim added this about his young friend: So far he hasn't crossed, or remotely come close to my line that I would have to have a talk with his Dad about something he did. I think that time will never happen. He's basically a good kid and I don't want to destroy his trust in me. Having said that, he is a typical teenage boy, and will try to stretch his parent's "leash" (for lack of a better word) just as far as he can get away with at times. Teenagers are, well, teenagers. Sometimes they are so simple and trusting, other times, well...

Rather than admit or deny anything about his childhood, NC Art chose to comment by sending some pics of kids that explain why mothers yell so much. Go figure.

Dr Steve W elected to say nothing about his upbringing also but did give me some medical advice: Sorry to hear that you have succumbed to this thing that is having a good time spreading its joy. Have you had a flu shot?

Not since a year or two ago when I had a skin cancer removed. The nurse gave me a jab while I happened to be available in surgery. But I need to see the doc again soon so I'll get one. Thanks for the reminder, Steve.

From the Beeb: The suspected ringleader of the September 2012 raid on a US diplomatic post in the Libyan city of Benghazi, which left four Americans dead, has been captured, the Pentagon says. Ahmed Abu Khattala was taken into custody in a secret US military raid in Libya on 15 June. He is now being held in a secure location outside the country, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed. The Yanks never give up.

A Connecticut woman has been crushed to death after the weight of her ceiling-high clutter collapsed the ground floor of her home. The state medical examiner's office told the BBC that Beverly Mitchell, 66, died of traumatic asphyxia. She was found in her Cheshire home a day after police began clearing debris with a digger. Police described Mitchell as a hoarder and believe she may have been dead for at least a week

A neighbor down the road a piece, Beau, who has since gone into a nursing home, was a hoarder. He had his own garage chockers with junk, and "borrowed" two others which he filled to capacity. Then he asked if he could store a few things in one of mine. I asked him to remove it all and return the key when I noticed it getting out of hand. He never spoke to me again. Crazy man!

China signs £14bn trade deals with UK amid Premier's visit. China says it wants to back major UK infrastructure projects and has signed £14bn in trade deals. The news comes on the first full day of a visit by its leader. Interesting. I can't remember the last time I bought something "Made in England".

A US web monitoring firm has declared the millionth English word to be Web 2.0, a term for the latest generation of web products and services. Matt Frei reports on English's unique linguistic evolution and then spoke to Global Language Monitor's Paul Payack who helped find this millionth English word

I was gonna give Ford a call but forgot and it's too late in the day now. I'll call tomorrow to see what the story is. Pay day tomorrow so I'll be rich... for about 2 seconds. PJ's getting about half of it. Father time will sort that out, though. I've changed the way I think about money since being a pensioner. I think of dollars in terms of time. For example, I paid $50 for my Citizen watch from Singapore 4 years ago which means it's cost about a dollar a month and is still going strong. That's cheap! 4 years from now, if PJ behaves herself, I can say the cost of recent repairs, including radiator and water pump, cost $X a month (whatever it turns out to be). What irks me about the last 13 years in Taree is all the rent money that's gone into the landlady's coffers. My share of the rent is $5000 a year so that's $65,000 that could have paid for something I got to keep... like a motorhome with all the bells and whistles. There was no choice though... I was Sue's carer for most of that period and we needed a proper house. Anyway, dozen madder, I'm not doing too badly.

Time to saddle up and ride off into the sunset, boils and goils. Gary

June 17, 2014. Mid afternoon and just starting Waffle. There's a bug going around and I've got it... a cold with the sniffles, so I took a long nap this morning. Seems like lots of others have it too according to a question uttered by a staff member to another at the local hospital: "Oh, I see you've got the dreaded lurgy too?" I've just arrived back from having an X-ray done of my mouth for Andries. 

So how long is too long? The staff member at the hospital said, "Sorry about the wait... shouldn't be too long, though. Would you like to get yourself a cup or tea or coffee?" I still had no idea how long 'too long' was gonna be. But while I waited, she reminded me again that it shouldn't be 'too long', and then about 5 minutes later the x-ray machine operator apologized for the delay and also said he wouldn't be 'too long'. So, in this particular case, 'too long' turned out to be about 30-40 minutes. But it could have been longer or shorter, depending on... depending on whatever it is that 'too long' depends on.

Other phrases that confuse me are "back in second" which is never the case, "someone will see you shortly" and "won't be a minute". Oh yes, and "as soon as possible" is another.

OH Jim has a small issue with my paraphrasing his comments yesterday: So need to clarify something about my young friend doing donuts in the snow.  I DIDN'T show him how to do that! That was his own teenage idea. All I did was to give him a taste of traction in it. Or lack of it. If I was his Dad, he would have been grounded for that stunt. As it was he didn't hit a fire plug,  parking bump or curb buried in the snow. And his parents were none the wiser.

Parents were none the wiser? Isn't it amazing how often that's the case? Mine would have freaked if they'd known a tenth of what I used to get up to unbeknown to them. Ditto Cody, Wingnut, Steve and Mark and their folks (Mark to a lesser degree). I suppose there must be kids who have a more trusting and honest relationship with their parents but I've never met any. Or maybe I have. I can't imagine FL Josh ever being a little demon up to no good.

From the Beeb: Up to 275 US "military personnel" are being sent to Iraq to provide security for the US embassy in Baghdad and other personnel, the White House says. The personnel will assist in the temporary relocation of some staff from the US embassy in Baghdad. Fighters from the militant Sunni group ISIS have seized a number of Iraqi towns and cities in the past week.

As Sunni extremist militants continue to make territorial gains in Iraq, many American servicemen and women who served in the country are left stunned by the unfolding events. For some veterans, although watching Iraq fragment into sectarian chaos is discouraging, it does not come as a surprise. Since 2006, Sunni militias have grappled for power, and in recent years, they have gained territory in both Syria and Iraq. But what many veterans are dealing with is a deeper internal struggle - how do the recent events in Iraq change the way they look at their service? In light of everything, was it worth it?

Relatives of dozens of asylum seekers who were killed in a shipwreck off Christmas Island in 2010 have launched a legal case against Australia. Lawyer George Newhouse said the government knew that people were at risk out at sea, but did not do enough to prevent their deaths.

On the south-western coast of the world's driest inhabited continent sits a green, vibrant city that is defying a chronic lack of rain and warming temperatures. Perth is Australia's driest major city, yet in its central areas at least, does not feel like a place that has confronted a water crisis. From its perch on Mount Eliza, Kings Park peers majestically over skyscrapers and office blocks, offering lush oases for weary workers and visitors, along with some of the most perfect grass your correspondent has ever seen.

That's something I'll need to be aware of on the Odyssey... the lack of and the preciousness of water at various locations in the outback. Even where there's plenty of water, I'll need to get used to the fact that PJ is not connected to the town supply hehe. Gotta keep that 50 liter tank topped up as well as check the gas regularly. And the battery amp level. And remember not to park in the shade. And watch out for low hanging branches. And and and and...

Just read a post by Billeeeeeee on the GN forum... he hasn't seen a cloud or rain for about 2 months now (up north in the tropics). And Jules says the average daily temp is 28 C. How noice!

And that's it for today, folks. Time to shuffle off and do the doings. Gary

June 16, 2014. Somebody once remarked after a friend had died that it was more like an amputation than losing a friend. I could say that about Cody, but also about PJ, except that PJ is coming back. For years, almost as long as I can remember, I've had this weird habit of being in a small room, like a public rest room, and mentally planning how I would arrange things if it were to become my living space. Small, compact places inspired me to think that way for a reason I could never fathom... until now, of course. It all makes sense, and explains why PJ means so much to me. Maybe it's a womb thing hehe. Maybe I was pissed off about having to leave.

Back from Andries (I think that's how it's spelled) who says progress is slow but steady. It'll be interesting to get the specialist's impression in September. He's unaware of Andries' latest procedure and the difference it's making. Fingers crossed, 2014 will see the end of this gum saga.

Meanwhile, Cherie, the sweet lil thang that she is, did a bunch of cooking yesterday at home and made a big pot of pea and ham soup with pasta (my fav) and brought some into the clinic just for lil ole me. There's a stack of it, and I had a bowl just now for lunch. Mmmmmm! Nice and thick and tasty. Is this behavior typical of dental surgeries? It is in my hood. :)

OH Jim wrote: It's 7:55AM Sunday morning and I am sitting here with a monitor next to me putting me live in the front seat of the #73 Corvette doing the last hour or so of LeMans. No commentary, just 24 hours of engine noise and 8.5 miles of endless  track, with the occasional LeMans prototype blasting by. So cool.

I've been a fan of LeMans ever since I saw the Steve McQueen movie.

I wouldn't mind entering PJ in that race just for the hell of it. Pit stops with a cuppa under the awning.

You call that weather you're having winter???? Winter in southwestern Ohio can be either mild ( in relative terms) or brutal. We saw -22 below zero(F) and endless ice and snow storms about 5 months ago. Now I am wearing just a pair of shorts and a tee shirt and going bare foot

OH Jace and OR Richie often tell me about their winters with lots of snow and ice. I can think of better ways to spend 3 months, or longer as Richie says about Oregon winters. The alpine regions of NSW and Victoria, and the state of Tasmania, are the main areas for snow in Oz, plus a few scattered inland areas. Mostly, though, Oz ranges from temperate through to tropical at the top end. New Zealand is famous for its snow but its latitude is further south, closer to the Antarctic. Gets a bit nippy down there ya know.

Last winter, Jim taught his young amateur radio friend a thing or two about controlled donuts in a RWD Mustang on slippery ice in a parking lot. Reminds me of myself during my wild youth, sending passengers rigid with fear hehe. For some reason Beetles brought out the McQueen in me.

Today in Taree it's most pleasant, sunny, blue and mild with almost no wind.

Meanwhile, BR Joao sent this: It seems is not only here in Brazil that the World Coup is provoking controversies. A gigantic balloon in the shape of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue flying over Sydney and Melbourne didn’t exactly please some clerics. Well, it was an advertising campaign of a betting company, maybe something not really pious. Here we just used light to add some colours and put the statue that cariocas of all faiths love so much more in the spirit of the tournament. Christ is wise enough to pardon the irreverence of both

Yes, I remember the phrase well... "forgive them Father for they're Australians"

From the Beeb: Washington is considering direct talks with Iran on the security situation in Iraq, a US official has told the BBC. The move comes as US President Barack Obama weighs up options on action to take in Iraq. Meanwhile the US condemned as "horrifying" photos posted online by Sunni militants that appear to show fighters massacring Iraqi soldiers. In the scenes, the soldiers are shown being led away and lying in trenches before and after their "execution"

DJ Casey Kasem, best known for hosting US radio show American Top 40, has died at the age of 82, his daughter has said. Kasem became a household name in the US after launching the nationally-syndicated show in 1970. He also voiced cartoon character Shaggy in Scooby-Doo. He had suffered from Lewy body disease, a form of dementia, and had recently been at the centre of a bitter family court battle over his care. His death comes days after a judge allowed the star's daughter Kerri to withhold food, liquid and medication from her father against the wishes of his wife of 34 years, Jean. I remember him from my old DJ days. He was a legend.

Jeez, I must be getting a tad ancient myself!

Imagine your boss was a machine. For some people it’s almost a reality, says Jane Palmer, so will we all end up working for robots and algorithms? In 1910, a strike broke out at the Watertown Arsenal near Boston, when a manager with a stopwatch stood behind a worker, timing the craftsman’s performance. “No tyrant or slave driver in the ecstasy of his more delirious dream ever sought to place upon abject slaves a condition more repugnant,” said one labour leader.

Jess is the name of the girl at Ford with whom I get along really well. She answered my call just now to say that if I'm prepared to wait until Thursday or Friday to have the job done that would be great. No worries. A few more days won't hurt, just so long as it's this week. Now I can let my friend with the credit card know when (approximately) to be ready to part with his entire life savings. Actually, I get paid on Thursday so I can pay more of the bill and have less to pay him. Jess is gonna call to let me know which day it'll be.

If the weather's okay on the weekend, I'll whip out the bottle of polish and the cordless drill to give PJ a show and shine. Gotta look after the old girl ya know. I suspect when the time comes to hang up the hat, I'll stick to being 'trailer trash' and live in a park somewhere, probably in something larger than PJ with its own loo and shower connected to the park plumbing. Renting a flat involves buying furniture which I don't wanna do, much less truck it all if I'm ever evicted for whatever reason. Relocating a mobile home/caravan is much easier and far less stressful. It's also an option if I tire of the place I'm at. I could even have a little herb and flower garden! Anyway, there's plenty of time to think about that eventuality. I might even win Lotto!

That raises an interesting point. Lots of GN newbies ask about whether to keep or sell their house before launching themselves into a full-time gypsy lifestyle. Obviously, I don't have that problem and haven't had since selling my little house in Glebe over 20 years ago. But if I were to win Lotto I'd buy a property here in Taree and rent it out while I travelled Oz. A modest but decent place around here can be purchased for around the $200K mark, close to all amenities, which is about a third of the median price in Sydney. Whether or not I chose to return to Taree at the end of the Odyssey is open to question but, return or not, at least I'd have something to sell and the funds to buy elsewhere at the current market price. So, yes, if I did own property I'd keep it and rent it, although others argue that maintenance costs and tenant abuse can be a pain as well as expensive.

Meantime, of course, it's PJ and me, and come what may. It's also sundown and time for my routine. Did I mention adding a splash of soy sauce to last night's bowl of yummies? It was deeeeelicious! So, until tomorrow, same time, same station, same Waffler, it's hooroo for now! Gary

June 15, 2014. Clear blue skies and a top of 78F where Jim lives in OH so he tells me. Dead of winter here... clear blue skies and a top of 65F, getting closer to 70F later in the week but chilly overnight and in the mornings. Not too bad for winter, and much better the further north you go. At the top end, there are only two seasons... the wet and the dry.

Lots of GNs head north for the winter to enjoy the sun in their shorts and Ts. No worries about humidity during the dry either. Lucky them! Jules and Billeeeeeee are there at the mo and took a flight over the Bungle Bungles (Pernululu) and Lake Argyle, which is a dot on the map but the lake holds 40 times as much water as Sydney Harbor! Some dot!

So much for a pleasant day... the wind howled in from somewhere and buggered it, so I travelled by taxi to the shops as well as back again, and the driver (hugely overweight) helped me with the groceries at both ends of the trip! Not only that, he drove up on the footpath and parked right outside the front gate! Good ol' country folks. And now the soup vegies are roasting in the oven before I make another pot of stock. I bought a ginger root to add this time, which should make it a bit more interesting.

From the Beeb: The US says it is sending a warship into the Gulf to provide President Obama with military options should the situation in Iraq deteriorate further. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the USS George HW Bush, which carries dozens of fighter jets, to be moved from the North Arabian Sea. Meanwhile, Iran says it could be prepared to work with the US to fight Sunni insurgents in Iraq

War and peace. Seems like the two are linked; one dependent upon the other to exist; like love and hate, happiness and sorrow, darkness and light, life and death, synonyms and antonyms. I wonder sometimes if accepting the way things are is a lot easier and more practical than trying to understand them.

Well, naughty me has been a bit lazy today - dunno where the time went but it's after sundown already. Whoosh! Monday tomorrow and the new head should arrive at Ford. With luck, PJ will be back Tuesday! Gary

June 14, 2014. This was posted on the GN forum this morning and I thought I'd copy it here. Nice piece and not too sentimental...


You know. .. .. Time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my soul mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. 

But, here it is... The winter of my life and it catches me by surprise...How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it friends are retired and getting gray...they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me...but, I see the great change...Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant...but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd be. Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat's mandatory! Cause if I don't on my own free will... I just fall asleep where I sit! 

And I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!! But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will last...this I know, that when it's over on this earth....its over. A new adventure will begin! 

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn't done...things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done. It's all in a lifetime. 

So, if you're not in your winter yet...let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don't put things off too long!! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember...and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!! 

"Life" is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one. 

TX Greg responded to yesterday's post of the Minnie Winnie by OH Jim: That sure brought back a ton of memories seeing OH Jim owned a Minnie Winnie and by that pic appears Jim owned a 1977 model. You said between the radiator, water pump and new head you spent $2,400. What a coincidence, here's a 1977 Minnie Winnie for $2,400... But PJ is in way better shape:)

Hmmm, no interior shots. I didn't think Jim's was that old judging by the pic yesterday. In Oz, something like that in good condition would cost maybe $10-15K, which is roughly what I've spent on PJ all up. The thing about a slide-on though is that it's independent from the tug, so either one can be replaced/upgraded separately. Anyway, Greg, you were close...

OH Jim wrote: OK about the motorhome prices. We bought the Minie around 1984 or so.  It was a '74, and had a Dodge 383 V8. We paid $8,000 for it.  I don't want to think what it would cost in today's money. Nor the price to fill both gas tanks. It could carry 50 gallons. As for camping in a primitive site, all I would need is a little Honda generator to power the TV and my Amateur Radio gear. Any fool can go out and be miserable camping. It takes a little more intelligence to go out and take all the creature comforts with you. Oh yeah,  and a lot of money. LOL . Our Minie wasn't one of those huge 50 foot Prevosts, with a motorized satellite dish and bump outs. But we had a lot of fun in it. I always wonder where it is today. I never saw it again after I sold it..  And all the RV camp sites had fire rings for a bonfire every night. That was the best time of the day

Jim also mentions engine oil and pan sludge. PJ has had 3 six-monthly services in the time I've owned it, during which I've driven only 1500kms, so the oil hardly had a chance to wet the sides. And now it's due for yet another change! Jim also said there's been nothing on his local news about our visiting PM which is not surprising.

FL Josh wrote: You said, "I presume the warranty covers all work and materials."  You can presume anything you want.

I chose 'presume' just for you, Josh. :) Anyway, dozen madder cos Australia's consumer laws override anything Ford may write or say. Josh (and Jim) also pointed out that because the pistons and rings haven't been replaced, there's no need for the engine to be run/broken in. Ford might want you to stop back in after 100 km or so to retorque the head bolts as the pounding of the engine will cause the new head gasket to compress slightly, causing you to lose a bit of the original torquing.  At least that is how they did it 30 or 40 years ago.  They may have gaskets that don't compress now. And yes, I did ask Graham how the cylinder walls looked once the head was off, and all's well in that department.

Once PJ is back, I'll give her a polish and use the cordless drill with a buffer attachment to buff up the old paintwork, which is dull and lifeless at the mo. Can't have her looking good on the inside without matching the outside! I wanna see little droplets of water on the paintork next time it rains.

Josh also used the word 'investment' when he referred to the new head (as opposed to reconditioned), which is how I see PJ - not just as a motorhome but as a lifestyle and perhaps the most rewarding experience of my life. Bring on the adventure!

BR Joao wrote again about FIFA and politics: Sorry if I’m still talking about football. But if you want to know the origin of most problems of 2014 World Cup, read what British newspaper The Independent says about Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president, “the must repulsive man in football”. The guy is so repulsive that he did the inconceivable: “he’s made Brazilians oppose a World Cup in Brazil”. When I was a boy I lived a few blocks from Maracană Stadium and, though I was not a big sport fan, I used to go there with friends of my age. People of all social classes meet there, united by a common passion. It was the most democratic space I ever saw. Now, due FIFA’s interests, new Maracană is only for rich people, working class is banned. It’s really soulless. Could all this change in a short future? I hope so. Maracană complex includes a public school, swimming stadium and athletics court. FIFA wanted to destroy all of this and build more parking places and a mall [money, money and only money]. But people of Rio went to the streets and obligated Rio’s governor (Maracană is a public building) to back down.  If FIFA done all that crap in Brazil, imagine what it will do in Qatar? Well, there’s no use in to talk about Mr. Blatter. Today the Socceroos meet Chile and I will be the number one supporter of the Aussie team. Cross your fingers.

Sepp Blatter has been getting negative publicity here too, Joao, but not quite as blunt as the Independent's comments. As to the Socceroos, they're up against teams to whom football is a religion, so they'll need all fingers and toes crossed!

I'll have to watch my typos today. Steve W was first out of the blocks last night to let me know of a typo, so I corrected it straight away hehe. It's not impossible to be 100% correct all the time but it's damn difficult! The most irritating thing about typos (or any mistake) is that it draws disproportionate attention to the boo boo, and away from the main purpose of the exercise. Blunders are rememembered long after the deed is forgotten. It's in the masochistic nature of man.

From the Beeb: Alexis Sanchez scored one and made another as Chile started their World Cup campaign with a win over Australia (3-1). Ah, there ya go.

Businessman Donald Trump is fighting with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel over a sign affixed to Mr Trump's downtown skyscraper. The 20ft (6m) tall T-R-U-M-P sign was placed 200ft above the Chicago river and is backlit by bright lights. Mr Emanuel's office said the mayor believed the "architecturally tasteful building" was "scarred" by the sign. But Mr Trump has said the sign is "magnificent" and "popular" and argued the city previously signed off on it. It enhances the building, he told NBC News, and said the building itself was "a great piece of architecture, great for Chicago".

Hawaii has a problem, one that the whole world is likely to face in the next 10 years. And the solution could be a metal that you've probably never heard of - vanadium. Hawaii's problem is too much sunshine - or rather, too much solar power feeding into its electricity grid. Generating electricity in the remote US state has always been painful. With no fossil fuel deposits of its own, it has to get oil and coal shipped half-way across the Pacific. That makes electricity in Hawaii very, very expensive - more than three times the US average - and it is the reason why 10% and counting of the islands' residents have decided to stick solar panels on their roof. The problem is that all this new sun-powered electricity is coming at the wrong place and at the wrong time of day.

Dazzle Ships and the art of confusion: A pilot boat, conserved by the Merseyside Maritime Museum, has received a fresh lick of paint. Its striking new design reveals a fascinating history of the art of confusion (of German U boats) in warfare.

I feel like a convict in his cell crossing off the days of my sentence waiting to be reunited with PJ. PJ is unlike any other vehicle I've ever owned. It's not just my transport, it's who I am, it's what my life is (or will be) all about. When the two components were separate, and the camper sat on blocks while the ute was in the garage, I was a bloke with a dream. When they became a unit, the dream became real too. There, parked in the yard, was proof that my years of ramblings were finally taking shape. The words were no longer hollow.

Fixing the "sweet home" plaque to the wall inside PJ may seem like an insignificant thing but it ain't. No way. It'll be like the wax seal on an official envelope. One of the GNs refers to such things as "my little treasures", the possessions that make a place a home. Cody's room was like that according to his mate Steve. It had a special and unique Cody feel about it. Come to think of it, I shared a room with my younger bro so there was nothing about that room that had my stamp on it. It was just a room. Maybe that's why I had a thing about cubby houses as a kid, and still do today with PJ. I remember my Vegemite jar with water in it, and a lone nasturtium. Hehe.

So yes, investment is a good word. An investment in a future that will take me away from routine and predictability and open up all kinds of possibilities. Sounds more like a new career than retirement; a new beginning. A Red Bubbler this morning commented on the hibiscus pic I posted the other day and said I should print a book of my flower pics. That's how I need to think every time I use the Nikon... publish, publish, publish. That's ultimately what the Odyssey will be all about... as well as a daily journal, of course. I enjoy the immediacy of daily updates.

Here's something for the techno tragics... an engine running on vapors and getting 100mpg! True or false? Hmmm.

Meanwhile, it's time for me to stop waffling for the time being and cross off another day on the jail cell wall. Gary

June 13, 2014. If you're gonna go fishing, you might as well make it worthwhile. Here's a proud GN with his prize barramundi.

And I forgot to mention yesterday that I asked Graham about the spark plugs, and whether or not they were removed. He said they came out easily, so I told him about Stan's first try which was unsuccessful, and that I sprayed WD40 twice in the days preceeding PJ's delivery to Ford.

FL Josh wrote and suggested some questions I should ask Graham when he calls: a) You might want to ask if they are magnafluxing the head to make sure there are not other cracks, and have it milled to make sure it is flat. b) You mentioned Ford warranting their work.  Is that both parts and labor or just parts, and the warranty good at any Ford dealer or just that one?

I presume the warranty covers all work and materials. It depends on who supplies the part(s), them or me. And it's them.

Meanwhile, Steve W wrote: I share your frustration with these places, again why I prefer to deal with a good mechanic that I know and trust, but understand for warranty reasons why you are going down this path but it does drive (or in your case, non-drive) one crazy. I remember No Name restaurant, what a top place it was, wonder if it still exists? Probably not, fire regulations OH&S and all of that stuff would have probably put an end to them. Those were the daze.

You're not wrong, Narelle. There was a No Name at a pub I often visited during the '80s. Can't remember which pub now... somewhere in the inner city 'burbs - just off Broadway. Not sure if it was a franchise or not, but it wasn't the same as the old place. Just another pub restaurant, and no BYO el cheapo chateau cirrhosis.

OH Jim wrote: What are you gonna do for a shake down cruise, once you get PJ back?  Are you going to do a short over nighter to a WalMart parking lot, or are you gonna be real adventurous and camp out in the driveway? Winter would be a good test of your systems in PJ, and a good test for you to see what it would be like in cold weather out in the outback  ( I LOVE using that word for real and not for the steak place LOL).

When I'm on the road for real, I'll be up north in the tropics during winter where it's 30 C during the day. There could be an occasional cold night inland but I'll be doing my best to avoid the cold... and certainly snow! Had enough of freezing temps during my time in Canberra where it was below zero overnight in my little Kombi camper. Brrrr. My nose used to go solid. Meanwhile, there is no shortage of camp sites around these parts - dozens of 'em, each with its own special attractions. So, we'll see.

We used to have a 23 ft Class C Winnie Minnie Winnebago, exactly like this one .  When it was cold , we ran the heater in it. One night we didn't run the heater, and the next morning we had condensation all over everything .  We were  camping at the Kentucky Horse Park just north of Lexington KY, about 90 minutes from home. It was a great place to go, just far enough that we could get there quickly , but far enough away that we felt like we really went some where. Plus they had drive through paved parking pads with water and power hookups

Something like that is beyond my means, Jim, although I realize they're much cheaper in the US than here. A used motorhome like that would cost about $30-50K+ here. My ute is 15' long but PJ is 11' 6". I have a/c but it needs mains power and none of the camp sites around here have mains connected, except for the caravan parks. CPs are not like real camping, though... with a proper camp fire, surrounded by native flora and fauna. As to condensation, I used to get that in the Kombi. But GNs on the forum recommend moisture-absorbing crystals to solve that problem. Cheap as chips, too. I saw some in the Reject Shop the other day for just a few bucks.

Jim also asked about medi honey: It's the honey's superior antibacterial effect and success with strains of bacteria that have become resistant to regular anitbiotics. It's been used for thousands of years as a wound dressing, but has now also been found to be effective against certain cancers. When producing honey, bees add an enzyme called 'lucose-oxidase'. This enzyme ensures that small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, an effective antiseptic, are constantly being formed from the sugar in the honey. The advantage over the hydrogen peroxide bought over the counter is that small concentrations are sufficient to kill germs, as it is constantly being produced.

Moreover, medihoney consists of two different types of honey, one which forms a comparitively large amount of hydrogen peroxide, and another known as Lepto-spermum honey. Leptospermum is a species of tree which occurs in New Zealand and Australia. Honey from these trees has a particularly strong antibacterial effect, even in a 10% dilution.

And and and... it tastes very more-ish! I had to transcribe all that info ya know. Interestingly, the Australian tea tree (leptospermum lanigerum) produces a wonderful antiseptic oil used neat or included in many soaps, shampoos, medicated creams, deodorants, etc. I have a small bottle I use for scratches, cuts, etc. A little dab'll do ya. Tea tree oil has been used by Australian Aborigines for thousands of years.

On the topic of Brazilian politics and the World Cup, Joao wrote: Well, today the Football World Cup starts here. I’m writing before the opening match. This year we will have general elections here in Brazil. President Dilma is very popular, and opposition parties (right wing) see no possibilities of win the presidency.  So they are promoting an underground campaign to discredit the federal government (forgetting that we are a federal republic, there are three levels of governments, and many states and cities are governed by the opposition), trying to concentrate in the Cup all our problems. It’s useless. First, Brazil is in a good moment of governance, the real necessities of people are attended (of course nobody can solves all the problems of a country in a pass of magic); second, all the opinion polls say that Dilma will win the elections. Our big media (big newspapers and TVs) have a murdochian vocation, so only the negative news are shown. No use. Though FIFA and mafia sound very similar, football, without politic connections, without economic interests, is much more important to Brazilians.

Just had a call from Ford... it was the office girl I usually deal with, who's a hoot. She's the one who drives me to and from when I have work done on PJ, and we get along really well. Graham gave her the quote - $1500 including labor - all new parts. No worries about magnafluxing and milling. "Your old head is stuffed," she said, then asked if they were okay to go ahead with ordering parts and doing the job. Of course! So work will begin next week.

A bonus will be quiet valve lifters. Remember the prob with oil draining after standing for a few days and the lifters rattling before the oil had a chance to re-circulate? The engine will be as quiet as a mouse now. After all the work that will have been done on the Courier, she'll be in better nick than any car I've had since my last new one, which was a Beetle in '71, and theoretically should provide me with many thousands of miles of trouble free motoring. Lemme see... $500 for the radiator, $400 for the water pump, $1500 for a new head - $2400, which is not bad for a new engine (virtually). It's a lot to spend on a 20 y/o vehicle but if I get many years of good service I won't be complaining.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama says his government is looking at "all options", including military action, to help Iraq fight Islamist militants. But the White House also insisted it had no intention of sending ground troops. The remarks came after the cities of Mosul and Tikrit fell to Sunni Islamist insurgents during a lightning advance. The US has begun moving defence contractors working with the Iraqi military to safer areas

There was internet footage of an Australian ISIS preacher on telly last night - a young convert to Islam (from Catholicism) who has become a prominent exponent of Sunni extremism on the web, advocating things like the Pentagon being a "legitimate" target. He lives somewhere in the Middle East now. Oddly enough, he's from Italian heritage. Anyway, it struck me that bullies like him who preach hatred and violence need to be treated in like manner... no mercy. That's the problem with easy-going, tolerant people like us, we're reticent to fight fire with fire, which is sometimes the only way. In cases such as this, it's not the meek who will inherit the earth. Bullies should never be tolerated. Never, never, never.

World Cup 2014 kicks off with colourful ceremony: The 2014 Fifa World Cup officially got under way on Thursday with a colourful opening ceremony before hosts Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 in the first match.

Pollution at the Great Barrier Reef has fallen significantly, Australia says, as it seeks to convince the UN cultural agency not to downgrade the site. Unesco has threatened to list the World Heritage site as "in danger" because of "significant threats" to the reef. On Thursday, Queensland's state government said it had cut pesticide and nitrogen loads in the area. Critics say the dumping of dredged sediment still threatens the reef. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral structure, rich in marine life. It stretches for more than 2,300km (1,430 miles) along Australia's eastern coast.

I wonder if a new head needs to be run in, or can I take PJ for a bit of a burn along the highway. In the old days you had to drive at 30mph or under with a new engine for the first 500 miles, and people often displayed a "Running In" sign at the back of the car. Then I bought a brand new Beetle in '65 and remember the user manual saying there was no need to run the engine in, or warm it up after a cold start. You could drive it like a bat outta hell from day 1. Which I was quite happy to do in my early 20s. But I'd still like to take PJ on a 100km/h spin down the highway. Wheeeeee!

Has our PM Tony Abbott made the news on telly in the US? He's over there to stir up business, meet various business leaders and pollies including Obama. But Abbott and Obama are from opposite sides of the political spectrum. Abbott is a conservative. He comes across as quite wooden but, according to those who know him, is a most personable bloke. Anyway, I doubt whether he'll attract all that much attention in the US. I'm sure many Americans think we have a collection of PMs who take turns to visit the White House... Rudd and Gillard were there not all that long ago, and now Abbott, who was elected only late last year. Rudd and Gillard played musical chairs in the previous government, taking turns to be boss cocky. What a joke.

During the nineties and into mid naughties, PM Howard struck up a friendship with GWB, who referred to Howard as "a man of steel" but also made a speech in which he confused Australia with Austria hehe. Howard was standing beside Bush and flinched a little when he heard the mistake, but recovered quickly and let it ride. George kept talking regardless, totally oblivious to his boo boo. Oh dear...

And now for a bit of trivia. Are carrots good for your eyesight? Probably no better than any other vegetable. The first British Spitfire pilot to shoot down a German plane at night used a new fangled invention called radar, which the Poms didn't want the Germans to know about, so the rumor was spread that the pilot ate lots of carrots. There ya go.

Speaking of food and nutrition, I'm looking forward to another bowl of stock with noodles and chicken meat tonight. It's such good stuff! Yum! First time in ages that I'm actually loving my evening meal. The bowl is as clean as a whistle when I'm finished. And that's it, boils and goils. Catch you tomorrow. Gary

June 12, 2014. The boys in blue are advising us not to cross a swollen creek during a flood, so what the hell are they doing here? Oops! And to make it worse, someone had a phone camera.

Andrese told me this morning that he welcomes any publicity I can provide on this blog about dentists being normal, happy, considerate people rather than grumpy masochists as popularly believed. It's true, though. As I've mentioned before, this is the first time I've gotten to know dentists on a personal level and they're just like you and me. Well, perhaps more you than me. I'm a tad weird.

Andrese, and particularly Cherie, whose idea it was, were excited about the success of the medi honey on my gum. Cherie gave me another little container of the magic potion. And Andrese, being a native Kiwi, couldn't resist making the point that it's New Zealand honey. So there ya go. I'm a medical miracle.

Way back in the early '60s a mate and a small group of teens went caving at Wombyan, in the southern highlands of NSW... my first and last experience. I took a few slide pics, one of which showed a startled looking face poking through a small opening in a cave wall, but the pics have vanished god knows where. It was a pretty scary experience, dropping down into a deep sink hole to get to the cave proper, and then encountering a shoulder-width tunnel we had to crawl through to get to a large cavern on the other side. We tied a rope to the first guy's ankles in case the tunnel was a dead end.

So I was surprised to see a pic of Wombyan caves this morning on Red Bubble, imagining that the photographer must have been a pretty adventurous person. However, things have changed since the days of my daring exploit: Hi Gary… That was very brave of you! Now the tour of these caves are much easier….(no ropes) pretty much fenced off….. and well lighted….but not to people suffering from claustrophobia, they did turn off the lights for a bit, so we could experience what it was like before they introduced electricity … I hope you find your slide pics

Not sure if my expectations have settled down or whether the broth improves with time but last night's bowl was deeeelicious! I really look forward to my evening meal now, even though it ain't the type of food I'd prefer. At least it's way ahead of what I've been having the past 16 months, and it tastes a whole lot better. Took ages for the method to evolve, though, despite the Asians knowing about it for eons.

Watched another food show on telly last night, and one story was about a Mexican family that moved to Oz and opened a restaurant. The queue of patrons waiting to get in stretched a long way down the street as well as the full length of the staircase leading to the first floor. How's that for popular? No street frontage, no advertising, and relying on word of mouth... plus excellent food, of course.

Years ago I used to frequent a spaghetti restaurant called No Name which was situated in a back lane, with the entrance via the fire stairs at the rear of the building. Prices were cheap, bring your own flagon of plonk, everyone was seated at long tables and benches and could eat as much as they wanted. The place was always packed.

And now for something creative. There's a hibiscus flower in the yard that's been pestering me to photograph it, so I relented... and added a touch of creativity. Worked out pretty well, I thought.

And... my "sweet home" 3-owls arrived in the mail today ready to be installed in PJ. How cute!

And and and... my bank wants to give me fifty bucks bonus to open a goalsaver account currently @ 3.81% p.a. paid monthly. Yeah... I really need to do something like that, and will as soon as I take care of PJ's bill.

From the Beeb: The UN Security Council has condemned attacks in Iraq by Islamist militants who have overrun two major cities, Mosul and Tikrit. The UN also said the humanitarian situation around Mosul, where up to 500,000 people have fled, was "dire and is worsening by the moment". Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki vowed to fight back against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) insurgents. Deaf ears methinks.

Australians have always had a way with words. The underlying principal of speaking the lingo down under seems to be: if in doubt, shorten it. "Afternoon" to "arvo". "Journalist" to "journo". "Swimming trunks" to "swimmers". "Sunglasses" to "sunnies". "Postman" to "postie". "Mosquito" to "mozzie". The list is endless. Aussies can also have a charming turn of phrase. The recent Australian budget was recently branded "as popular as a Polly Waffle in a public pool". A Polly Waffle was a marshmallow chocolate bar on sale in Australia until 2009 - but because it was brown and cylindrical the term also came to refer, with lavatorial humour, to something else. A Polly Waffle in a pool is not popular at all.

Scientists have created mosquitoes that produce 95% male offspring, with the aim of helping control malaria. Flooding cages of normal mosquitoes with the new strain caused a shortage of females and a population crash. The system works by shredding the X chromosome during sperm production, leaving very few X-carrying sperm to produce female embryos. In the wild it could slash numbers of malaria-spreading mosquitoes, reports the journal Nature Communications. Mozzies with a lisp?

Mozilla, the organisation behind the Firefox browser, has announced it will start selling low-cost smartphones in India within the "next few months". Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the firm's chief operating officer suggested the handsets, which will be manufactured by two Indian companies, would retail at $25 (£15). They will run Mozilla's HTML5 web-based mobile operating system, Firefox OS. The firm already sells Firefox-powered phones in Europe and Latin America. The current handsets, which are sold via eBay, retail at £59.99 in the UK, or $69.99 in the US.

Like all technology, it gets cheaper as time goes by. My first IBM compatible desktop cost $3000 in '91. Eeeek! This little Acer Aspire cost less than $400 two years ago. And my first digital camera, a Kodak 2.2MP compact in 2002, cost more than my DSLR Nikon a year ago! Matter of fact, even my little Fuji compact at $90 runs rings around the old Kodak.

So what's happening at Ford? I phoned about 15 minutes ago and got the ol' "he'll be back shortly and will phone you" routine. It will be a quote, so work hasn't even commenced. There goes another weekend without PJ unless they can get their act together tomorrow, which I seriously doubt. Looks like the head hasn't even been delivered to Ford yet. Grrrrr.

Well, so much for that. The service office is closed, so someone else (probably sales) answered and I told them I was promised a call back before everyone went home. She's looking for the bloke now and will call me if she can't find him. This is not good, dear Breth. Not good at all. 

Okies, Graham called. He's the bloke who came to my rescue when the awning spilled out all over the road a month or two ago. He says the head's off and #3 was cracked, as expected. He spoke to a repairer who quoted something like $600 plus gaskets  - which is a lot less than I was told by the receptionist. So he'll phone the repairer again in the morning, get a firm quote, assess Ford's labor to bolt the thing back on, and phone me. Next week sometime will be the earliest the job can be done. And by the way, he didn't notice any damage to the block or pistons. So, in just a few minutes I got all the info I've been hanging out for all damn week! So much for the receptionist and the general communication there. It's hopeless! According to Graham, she hadn't spoken to him about me and my constant pestering. Bloody dumb broad.

Well, at least I'll sleep better tonight. This not knowing what the hell was going on, and being kept in the dark, and told porkies by the receptionist has been infuriating! Thank god for Graham. Gary

June 11, 2014. You know it's winter when your morning coffee is cold half way through. Dangit. And how were the noodles cooked in broth last night? Yummy. Sooo much better than using water. The finely chopped shredded chicken worked well too. So no more ground meat. I'll experiment with different styles/flavors of broth instead. Rice noodles would also be nice occasionally but they're so fine they clog together and need to be chewed, which is fine if you have TEETH! After the noodles I pigged out on trifle, which I have down to a fine art now.

OH Jim sent a couple of pics of his young friend's ham radio setup - equipment that's pushing 50 years, bought piece by piece over several years, and huge! It's like looking at an ancient computer - one of those dinos that took up a whole room of space and yet had less computing power than a modern mobile/cell phone. Miniaturization has come a long way in recent years. I remember wondering why there was such an emphasis on making gadgets smaller, and now I understand. They've done something similar with car engines as well. Two liters can pump out a helluva lot more horses these days than when I was a kid.

Reminds me of those 60s and 70s component tower stereos and speaker boxes that took up half the room. The other day I was browsing through the Vinnies store and heard some music playing. There were no tell-tale speakers mounted on the wall so I didn't know where it was coming from. Then I spotted a boom box but no, it wasn't that. And then I saw it... a tiny MP3 player hooked up to an equally tiny external speaker. Bloody amazing sound for something so small.

I visited Vinnies just to take a look around. They have a clothing store plus a furniture store, and some of the furniture is really good, as well as cheap. $65 for one of those old fashioned single-seater lounge chairs with huge round upholstered arms that you could practically live in. If I was gonna furnish a flat, I'd be checking out Vinnies or the Salvos for sure. Love all that old fashioned furniture with the instant 'lived-in' look.

From the Beeb: More than 150,000 people have been forced to flee Iraq's second city of Mosul after Islamist militants effectively took control of it. Troops were among those fleeing as hundreds of jihadists from the ISIS group overran it and much of the surrounding province of Nineveh. Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki responded by asking parliament to declare a state of emergency to grant him greater powers. The US said the development showed ISIS is a threat to the entire region. Here we go again... good ol' religious intolerance.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff says her country is ready, on and off the pitch, for the football World Cup which starts on Thursday. In a TV address, she said "the pessimists" had been defeated by the determination of the Brazilian people. She rejected criticism of overspending, saying that the tournament would leave a lasting legacy of infrastructure. Brazil has seen a year of protests against bad governance and perceived excessive spending on the World Cup. I wonder what Joao thinks about all this controversy.

With a simple trick, the humble spud can be made into a battery, so could potato powered homes catch on? Mashed, boiled, baked or fried? You probably have a preference for your potatoes. Haim Rabinowitch, however, likes his spuds “hacked”. For the past few years, researcher Rabinowitch and colleagues have been pushing the idea of “potato power” to deliver energy to people cut off from electricity grids. Hook up a spud to a couple of cheap metal plates, wires and LED bulbs, they argue, and it could provide lighting to remote towns and villages around the world.

The egg box that updates a humble yet classic design: Design touches all areas of life, from computer interfaces to the packaging of the goods in our shopping basket. As part of BBC Future’s Imagineering series, where designers reimagine everyday objects, we tracked down the young Hungarian designer who aims to update a century-old staple familiar to almost everyone around the world. Makes you wonder about the old adage 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

There was a doco on telly last night about the arrival of the Beatles in Oz back in '64. The contract was signed before they became famous in the US and were commanding $50,000 a performance. We got them for $1,000 a week! Hehe. But manager Brian Epstein honored the contract. Anyway, the arrival of the Mop Tops created bedlam, especially in Adelaide where literally half the city's population lined the streets to welcome them. Huge crowds, the likes of which had never been witnessed, especially for a pop group, also turned out in Australia's other cities. I remember watching a live broadcast on our B&W telly of their arrival in Sydney. It was incredible. But it was what went on behind the scenes that the doco was really all about. The 60's revolution; teens bucking the system; mild rebellion; sexual freedom, Yep, I remember all that. Australian youth was ready to express its collective independence from the constraints of tradition and The Beatles became the catalyst. Moms and dads liked The Beatles too - their songs were lyrical and wholesome, they dressed in suits and ties, and they behaved like "decent" lads. At least in front of the cameras.

The Fab Four also inspired a revolution in Australian pop music, with bands popping up all over the place, some of whom would go on to achieve international recognition and fame. Heady days indeed.

Also on telly I watched a French cooking show. The chef emigrated to Oz some decades ago and remembers being mystified by Australia's fixation with square bread. Not a bread stick or croissant to be seen anywhere! He runs a French bakery now, and bakes bread for breakfast, bread for lunch and bread for dinner. Bread obviously plays a major role in French cuisine, and it has to be baked 'just so' - all by hand. These days in Oz there are patisseries and bakeries everywhere, and even the big commercial bakers produce a huge range of varieties. Two local supermakets have their own in-store bakeries as well. Fresh crusty bread and butter. Mmmmm! Pretty hard to beat!

Just phoned Ford. The service manager is still at Forster but will be back in Taree tomorrow. "I've got a note for him," said the receptionist, "and they are making headway on your car." She didn't explain what kind of headway but perhaps Anna's fiance and Derek have had a chat. Anyway, hopefully I'll know more tomorrow. I'm really amped to get my beloved PJ back!

And another thing, my gum seems to have improved a lot since using the medi honey topically. It had been sore for a week or so, like having barbed wire under my tongue, so Andrese gave me a script for antibiotics just in case there was another infection. But I chose to try the honey instead for a while to see if it made a diff and it has! Quite a big diff! So I'll let him know about it tomorrow morning.

And back to the subject of little houses, check out this one - not quite built for lots of travelling but nonetheless it's mobile when needed. Not for everyone, but a great story.

Speaking of mobile, it's time for me to mobilize and park the buns elsewhere until tomorrow. Hooroo! Gary

June 10, 2014. Done! Just notified Ford to go ahead with the purchase of the reco'd head, and to quote on the full cost, including labor. One giant leap for PJ. The lead story on the GN forum this morning was about two serious crashes involving caravans, fishtailing and flipping over the long weekend. No serious injuries though. There was another incident of a caravan jack-knifing, rolling and taking the tug with it this morning near Townsville in QLD which is experiencing high winds and rain. One of the reasons I chose a slide-on was because I don't like the idea of towing. Yet there are many GNs who've been towing a van for years and thousands of kilometers without incident, so I posed the question this morning on the forum as to their secret. I suspect common sense and careful driving, plus a reasonable level of skill, play a significant role.

Now wouldn't you know it? Emma, who is in fact Anna from the dental clinic but I've always thought it was Emma, just emailed to say that her fiance who's a mechanic at Ford Forster, half an hour from here, can help with PJ - presumably a private job. Drat! So I've replied saying that it's too late. Drat II. As it happens, the service manager at Taree is at Forster today so if it's not a private job I've suggested the fiance talk to him.

And speaking of the clinic, Cherie gave me a little container of Medi honey this morning to try on the gum. It's $40 a jar at the health shop. Sheet! But the supermarket has a lower rated one for $9. The honey is rated numerically like sun screen according to the level of active indredient. It's from New Zealand and I have a mouthful now. Mmmm! I could easily eat the whole container! Yum! Actually, I can feel it tingling the gum area so something's happening.

As to broth and "dripping", OH Jim wrote: Good for you on making broth. My mom made it the same way. And we used to have an old glass jelly jar full of bacon grease in the back of our refrig that she would use to cook with or fry eggs for breakfast in. Now I just give it a shot of PAM canola oil out of a can. Does its job and tasteless, but the bacon grease tasted better with fried eggs. I eat eggs with Goetta. A German breakfast food made from ground pork, pin oats, onion and other spices. you fry it in a pan. Yum.  Goetta: The Cincinnati German-American Breakfast Staple ...

Yep, when I had teeth and was the chief cook and bottle washer here, I fried bacon in a pan, and then kept it warm in the oven while I fried eggs in the bacon fat. Much tastier than frying in butter or oil. Jim also suggests an outoor antenna for the CB radio, but only a little one about the size of a finger. It can extend the range 5-10 times which would be handy in remote areas like the outback (a chain of restaurants in the US, so Jim tells me).

I happened to catch part of a cooking show on telly last night that showed a broth being cooked in a Vietnamese street vendor's shop - pretty much the same thing I did except it was beef and served with rice noodles. The host of the show said it was his "comfort food" and that he could easily eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. I'll be using a cup of mine tonight to cook regular noodles and serve it with chopped shredded chicken and parsley.

Being carless and having to walk everywhere could make me healthy by default. *groan* I needed a plastic 2-liter lidded jug for the stock so I went to the Reject Shop (there's something about the name of that place with which I readily identify) and found just the thing for $3.50, so I bought two. They'll be handy in PJ for drinking water. It's a most interesting shop with all kinds of cheap goodies.

From the Beeb: A four-day summit on sexual violence in war is to begin in London, hosted by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie. The event, called the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, is the culmination of a two-year campaign to raise awareness of the issue. Mr Hague is calling on the 140 nations present to write action against sexual violence into their military training. Announcing the event in February, he said the issue "should shame all men".

There's an investigation into endemic sexual assault/rape within our own military at the mo which looks pretty bad. For the life of me, I can't fathom that kind of behavior. The charges go back years and some of the accused are now senior ranking officers.

The amount of private wealth held by households globally surged more than 14% to $152 trillion (£90tn) last year, boosted mainly by rising stock markets. Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, led the surge with a 31% jump to $37tn. The number of millionaire households also rose sharply, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group. The report takes into account cash, deposits, shares and other assets held by households. But businesses, real estate and luxury goods are excluded. Like PJ, for example.

A couple who shot dead two police officers and a third man in Las Vegas acted out of hatred for the police and the government, authorities have said. Jerad Miller, 31, and wife Amanda Miller, 22, who died at the scene, viewed law enforcement as "oppressors", said police. The pair had been ejected from Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch during a stand-off earlier this year, US media report. The couple left a swastika and a "Don't tread on me" flag on the dead officers.

A computer program called Eugene Goostman, which simulates a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, is said to have passed the Turing test at an event organised by the University of Reading. The test investigates whether people can detect if they are talking to machines or humans. No computer has passed the test before under these conditions, it is reported. On 7 June Eugene convinced 33% of the judges at the Royal Society in London that it was human.

There was a math/computer guru on telly last night who said that 33% was amazing; that 10 years ago such an accomplishment would have been impossible, but also that 10 years hence artificial intelligence will have become the norm. We ain't seen nuthin' yet, babe. By the way, the guru also said the reason a 13 y/o was chosen as the simulated human was because 13 y/o Ukrainians are old enough to know "something" but not enough to know a great deal more.

This faux fleece throw rug is probably the best value for money item I've ever purchased. There was a similar item at the Reject Shop but the quality wasn't as good. This one uses my own body heat to such great effect that I'm toasty warm wherever I go in the house, and it's oh so comfy wrapped around me on the easy chair watching telly or taking a nap. 20 bucks very well spent, and no worries about using electricity. Cheap as! It was also an impulse buy, walking past Home Art where I spotted an Asian woman unraveling one and checking the detail (as Asians do). She bought one soooo...

And because it's artificial fleece, it's not heavy and cumbersome like leather... in fact it's as light as a feather, and the fleece is double sided. Good one, G!

OH Jim might get excited about CB radios and Mhz, and FL Josh about Bentleys, and TX Greg about computer tech, but I'm more easily pleased.

And there goes Tuesday, a day I thought was a million miles away a week ago when I was hanging out for news about PJ. Hopefully, the saga will be over by the end of this week. Vroom, vroom! Gary

June 9, 2014. OH Jim wrote a whole bunch of technical stuff about CB and SW, and wanted to know if, apart from the pair of hand-held Midlands, I have anything bigger fitted to the truck plus antennae. Yeah, right. You mean those giant poles that look like fishing rods waving around in the stratosphere? No way, Jose. I'm not into all that breaker, breaker, 10-4 good buddy stuff. The pair of Midlands are basically hand-held walkie talkies for making contact within a few kilometers. Outside of emergencies or contacting a truckie up my clacker itching to get past, I have no interest in conducting convos. Sorry, Jim.

One more sleep till I can phone Ford and tell them to purchase the reco'd head and then fit it. It's been weeks since the prob was first noticed by the NRMA bloke. What a drag. It's made me realize just how attached I've become to PJ. We're talking a very serious bonding experience here, dear Breth... like Linus van Pelt and his security blanket. Makes me wonder if I'll ever be tempted to upgrade.

Yep, I'm serious. I've not had this feeling of home-sweet-home since I bought that little house in Glebe all those years ago. It's a sense of belonging you don't get with renting. Every brick and floor board is yours. Or, in PJ's case, every rivet and length of cladding. God knows what Bubba B is thinking, stuck out there in a strange workshop all alone.

My 3-owl, sweet-home plaque will arrive this week too, and I can't wait to mount it.

Back from getting a little sunshine in the backyard, and you'll be pleased to know that I threw a leg over the bicycle saddle with ease and didn't fall off. Mind you, I didn't go anywhere hehe... I just sat there holding onto a pole. However I did check the adjustment thingy on the rear brake, and learned how it works, but I'll fix that later. I also checked the hydraulic jack and discovered that it takes hydraulic oil, not engine oil, so I gather there's a difference between the two. It's funny how you sometimes have to read instructions a second time before certain detail sinks in. "Oils ain't oils," as the man in the Castrol ad said.

Back from a little shopping and bumping into an old ex-neighbor, Ken. He hardly recognized me because of my weight loss but made me feel heaps better... hehe... he's had three strokes and has diabetes. Makes my tribs seem pretty ho hum. He promised to share a pizza with me when I get dentures.

Anyway, I bought soup veg and chicken necks (which are not cheap!). They're all roasting in the oven in readiness for the big pot, plus 2 bay leaves, a rasher of smoked bacon and S&P. Cover with water and simmer for 3 hours. Strain into a bowl and dump the rest. The meat and veg can be re-used but I have other plans. First attempt at making a broth so wish me luck. 

I wasn't sure about using chicken necks but then I figured meat + bones = broth. Yeah? Also there's no skin. Some people use a whole carcase but I have no use for the meat.

From the Beeb: Deadly fighting in eastern Ukraine must end "this week", Ukraine's new President Petro Poroshenko has pledged. He was speaking at talks involving an envoy from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Russia's ambassador to Ukraine. Meanwhile, fighting has continued in and around the rebel-held city of Sloviansk.

Two people have shot and killed two police officers in the US city of Las Vegas, before killing another person and then shooting themselves. The incident began in a pizza cafe at 11:30 (18:30 GMT) on Sunday, when a man and a woman shot at the two officers who were having lunch. They then entered a Walmart shop nearby and shot one person dead, before committing suicide. Police say there are no other suspects in the shooting.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA, has opened its first official accounts on Twitter and Facebook, it announced on Friday. The spy agency said it would help it to engage more directly with the public and make unclassified information on the agency "more accessible". "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet," the spy agency quipped in its first tweet. Within five hours, it had already generated more than 200,000 followers.

V-2: Hitler's last weapon of terror: John Clarke was six years old when the first V-2 rocket to hit London landed outside his house in Chiswick in the west of the capital. "The best way of describing it is television with the sound off. You're deafened, that's what it boils down to. Seeing an airing cupboard crumple in front of you without a sound is an eerie experience," he says.

I still find it astonishing and mind boggling that a lunatic could lead his countrymen into such madness.

Two hours later and the big pot of broth has no layer of fat on top to scoop off, which must mean that chicken necks don't have any fat. That's cool. My mother always saved fat left over from cooking and put it in a baked enamel dish for later use as a frying agent. Back in the Great Depression days "dripping", as it was called, was also used as a butter substitute on bread (with salt and pepper). 

And now for something completely different. FL Josh wrote last night with a link to flowers that look like something they're not, as if to mimic other living things. At the bottom of the page, there are more links to the weird and wonderful (not me though).

Well, I don't wanna wish my life away but I will be relieved when PJ is back where she belongs. Even fiddling around inside with stuff or soaking up the morning sun is enjoyable, kinda like spending time with a best friend just for the hell of it, and knowing that your friend is always there to comfort you. Does that sound weird? Actually, a major plus to come out of this experience is that, no matter where I am in Oz, I'll always have that special feeling of belonging, of being home. I've long suspected that will be the case as I travel, but now I'm sure of it.

Before I skedaddle outta here, what's the verdict on the broth?  A resounding yes! Bloody marvelous. Clear as a bell, the way consomme should be. I trashed all the veg and chicken necks but gave the bacon rasher to Lindsay, who thought it tasted yummy - soft after all that simmering. The necks worked really, really well. I used 10 (500g), the other 10 are in the freezer. Funny, but necks are not something I would normally buy, in fact I never have before, and turnip and swede are still on the list of most hated veg when I was a kid. If they were on the plate at the dinner table, I'd wait till mom wasn't looking and stick them in my school pants pocket. Hehe. BUT... different story in a broth. It tastes rich and packed with delicious goodness. Roasting the veg and meat first makes a huge difference - and no peeling, just roughly cut into chunks. Gary

June 8, 2014. OH Jim, being a ham radio fan, suggests I get CB radio fitted to PJ. Too bloody right, mate! So do most of the Gray Nomads on the forum. It's a great way to let truckies know you'll pull over as soon as you can on a two-lane highway to let them pass, and it's handy in case of an emergency when out of phone/internet range, or as a safety measure when bush walking. It also pays to listen when driving on country highways for approaching wide loads or other traffic hazards. All of which is why I bought a pair of Midland hand-held CB radios last year. Haven't used them on the road yet, but I have trialled them to get the hang of them. I also bought stick-on letters and numbers and have UHF 40 on the back of PJ. So there ya go, great minds think alike. There are 80 channels but 40 is the one mostly used by truckies on country roads.

Of course, you will have to master and get over  the Microphone Fright thing that a newbie on radio gets ..... Yes, like my very first day on commercial radio - I froze. But it didn't take long to get the hang of it. I'm usually nervous about doing anything new, and especially making a boo-boo in public.

However, I've learned a helluva lot from members of the GN forum over the past year or so, and will continue to do so. For example, the other day someone mentioned having a bucket of water with a little methylated spirit added for soaking dishes and cutlery until washing up time. When camping, you don't wanna be washing up all the time and using precious water. The methylated spirit gets off grease and yuk easily, leaving dishes and cutlery sparkling clean. So I tried soaking an old pewter beer stein that was a present from a radio station 35 years ago (and that had accumulated a lot of grime over the years) in hot water with detergent and methylated spirit for a few hours and was amazed at just how clean it emerged with a little extra encouragement from a steel wool pad.

Meanwhile, long weekends are such a pain. Supermarkets, petrol stations, pubs, restaurants all open 7 days but not mechanics. You can even do your banking on weekends over the internet, or use an ATM. But if you need something fixed on your car, you gotta wait till Monday, or in this case, Tuesday. Grrrr.

The thing is, people like mechanics would scream blue murder if any attempt was made to rob them of their precious weekends off work. But if they couldn't buy petrol, or go to the pub or club, or have a pizza delivered, or shop for groceries, or watch the footy on telly on weekends, they'd soon change their tune. Bitch, bitch, bitch.

So why do we scream blue murder and not pink or orange?

From the Beeb: Tesla boss Elon Musk has given the strongest hint yet that the firm is considering "freeing" its patents to help speed up electric car development. When asked by the BBC's Theo Leggett if he was considering giving technology away, Mr Musk said "you're on the right track". Mr Musk said he hoped to break down technological barriers to help speed up electric car adoption. The firm will deliver the first five of its Model S cars to the UK on Saturday. Mr Musk told the BBC: "We don't want to cut a path through the jungle and then lay a bunch of landmines behind us."

Electric cars were around in the early 20th century but never took off. I wonder how much of that was due to pressure from the big oil companies.

Microsoft's Windows 8 has been branded a threat to China's cybersecurity in a state-backed news report. China's CCTV broadcast a strongly critical story in which experts suggested it was being used to grab data about Chinese citizens. The report comes only days after China banned the use of Windows 8 on many government computers.

In April 1945, at the age of 16, Stanley Kubrick snapped a newspaper vendor looking at headlines that shouted ‘Roosevelt Dead!’. This was no shoot-from-the-hip picture, however: the future director of 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange gave the vendor careful instructions on how to pose, offering an early sign of the vision that would have him lauded as one of the most important directors of the 20th Century. Kubrick sold that photo to New York’s Look magazine, initiating a relationship that lasted until 1950. A new show at the Kunstforum Vienna reveals a selection of the 27,000 photographs he took while on assignment for the magazine, a five-year stint that served as an apprenticeship in crafting visual stories.

Happened to catch a cooking program last night on telly that showed stock being made - broth or consomme as the French call it. You can't buy it as good as you can make it, so I'll give it a shot. The trick is to roast the root vegies before adding them to the pot - it makes the broth soooo much richer. So when I'm next at the supermarket I'll get a bunch of soup veg and bones (I'll roast the bones as well). And here's another tip... a rasher of smoked bacon. I've also been contemplating the lack of success I've had with certain ground meats that turn into little ball bearings that scatter about the sensitive crevices of my mouth and cause havoc, not to mention major discomfort. So it occurred to me that shredded cooked meat from the deli is the way to go, chopped up finely and added to the finished broth. Shredded meat is much softer than ground. That way I can enjoy chicken and beef again. Another tip is to cook pasta (or noodles in my case) in the broth rather than in water.

If the food I'm restricted to tastes good, it eases the frustration of not being able to enjoy normal food. So that's at least some consolation. By the way, I'm really enjoying the smoothies now that I add condensed milk. Yum!

Barnacle Bill agrees that getting Ford to supply a reconditioned head with a warranty is the way to go, but also asked "is there anything else to replace?" Hehe. No... touch wood. Maybe one day but gimme a break in the meantime... a long break, please. But he also says at least I'll have a good vehicle. Yes, won't that be nice! Age doesn't worry me, or having an old model, what's important to me is reliability and dependability. I'm looking forward to hearing that engine sing!

Another thing I like about the Courier is that its low deck is well suited to the Camper, and the two make a great team. If the new head and plugs give me a few extra horses that'll be even better! Oh, and another reason I prefer to stick with the Courier... I've spent a lot of money already on fitting a bull bar, solenoid, rear view camera, helper springs, 2 new tires, battery - not to mention the radiator and water pump. Might as well get good use out of all that stuff. The body is also rust free and bondo free. A tad shabby but so's the driver.

Here's a link to a GN blog - lots of we-went-here-and-went-there-and-met-so-and-so, but there are some pics that are interesting, as well as a break down (bent axle), and not-so-good pics of the pink lake. Worth a scan. Incidentally, SCAN is also an acronym for Senior Citizen's Afternoon Nap, which I had earlier, wrapped in my toasty faux fleece throw rug. Zzzzzz.

And so ends another Sundee's Waffle. The old buns are looking forward to being parked on the fav chair in front of the telly. Gary

June 7, 2014. Well, the saga of the cylinder head continues. OH Jim and FL Josh agree that the used head could be fraught with problems, and that a saving of a few hundred might work out to be more expensive in the long run. I agree. Jim also suggested that I seek out an independent repairer. Can't do that for a couple of reasons including the cost of transporting the ute to another location and possibly being charged for work done by Ford already.

TX Greg wants to know how Ford determined that the fault is indeed a cracked head and not just a blown gasket. According to the receptionist, the head was removed for inspection. Greg also recommends speaking to the general manager about my grievances. I'm useless at verbal confrontation unless I'm angry. I'm too easily intimidated by aggressive people. So, I have a plan:

There's a friend who's offered to pay the bill and allow me to pay him back. So the plan is to let Ford purchase the reconditioned head for these reasons: 1) If the head is supplied by the customer or someone other than of their choosing, Ford won't provide a warranty. 2) They can't use eBay for purchases.

If Ford does the purchasing as well as the fitting, then I have legitimate grounds to make a formal written complaint about events that led to the current situation, as well as those in the past that are relevant to Ford's lack of detailed attention during servicing. For the moment, though, I intend to avoid any confrontation with Ford while the work is being carried out. The last thing I need at the mo is for Ford to get bitchy before the job's finished. Once that's done, I can hope for some sort of compensation as a result of my formal complaint.

Incidentally, Greg mentioned a new way of checking damage to cylinder heads: BTW> Those new inspection cams are really awesome. Kind of like giving your car a colonoscopy, hehe. They go right in the hole, spark plug hole that is, and look at the piston and valves

Steve W suggests a rethink: I have owned two Fords over the years, neither of them new and experienced problems with both and no sooner as I had one thing fixed then another raised its ugly head (as it were). After the second Ford, I vowed to never get another, stick with Japanese vehicles has been my motto for 20 plus years and I have not had any problems with any of them, including used ones. My concern is that you may get the head fixed and then what - gearbox, transmission, diff? Just sayin’ but maybe you should rethink this? This will not only be your means of transport but also your home. What happens if something pops or goes pear-shaped west of Kickatinalong - you are wheelless (other than your bike that you fall off) and homeless.

Steve is now aware that the Ford is, in fact, a Japanese Mazda. As to quitting this vehicle and taking another chance, I suspect it could be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire. I can't afford a late model vehicle, so I've decided to persist with the dog I know. That's not to say something else won't go pear-shaped at some stage - that happens to the best of 'em - just so long as it doesn't happen all at once! And don't worry about being homeless - with NRMA premier membership I'm entitled to emergency accommodation in the event of PJ being out of action. And if it's only the Ford that's busted, I can dismount PJ and leave it on jacks.

A few people have recommended I swap Ford in favor of good, old fashioned service from a private mechanic. Well, the reason I went to Ford in the first place was because I'd already experienced bad workmanship and service from two good, old fashioned private mechanics in Taree. I actually went to Nissan at first with Bluey but Nissan here is part of the Ford complex. I know what you mean by a good mechanic though... worth their weight in gold. I had one many years ago in Sydney, a German guy who made my Beetle sing like a bird, and a Pommie bloke in Lismore who looked after my Holden.

From the Beeb: Petro Poroshenko is to be sworn in as president of Ukraine, amid hopes the move could help put an end to a deadly fighting in the east of the country. The 48-year-old tycoon has been buoyed by messages of support from the West, after his victory in the 25 May poll. On Friday, he briefly met Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that meeting could be a start of dialogue.

The events of D-Day are often recounted by Allied troops who took part in the invasion. But what was it like for a German soldier surprised by the sudden - and completely unexpected - arrival of the enemy? Eighteen-year-old Private Helmut Roemer was the first German soldier to face the Allied invasion of mainland Europe. He was not on the beaches on the day itself, but inland on the night before, when the first airborne British troops attacked. Great read.

Police in the American city of Seattle have praised the bravery of a student for disarming a gunman who had killed one person and wounded three others. Jon Meis, 22, overcame the gunman at Seattle Pacific University as he tried to reload, police said. Pepper spray was used to subdue the attacker. Police said the actions of Mr Meis, and others who came to his aid, prevented a more serious tragedy.

A cast of stars have paid tribute to actress and political activist Jane Fonda as she accepted the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award. Actresses including Meryl Streep, Sally Field, Sandra Bullock and Cameron Diaz saluted the 76-year-old Oscar-winner at Thursday's event in Hollywood.

I did a little splurging while shopping at the Mall... Ugh boots for just $5.60 from Big W, great for around the house, and cosy... and a Faux fleecy throw rug from Home Art, on spesh at $20. I'm "wearing" it now like a shawl over my shoulders and it's bloody wonderful... traps the warm air, and it's soooo soft! The marketing geniuses are at it again using the word "faux" knowing that most people wouldn't have a clue what it meant, thereby believing that the fleece is real. For $20 who cares? It works, that's what matters... and it looks good. Being non-electric like the one I bought a few weeks ago, I can carry it over my shoulders around the house or use it anywhere, like some flash Hollywood dame in a mink.

And that's it for another Satdee, dear Breth. With a bit of luck, PJ will be back home late next week which will be good for my inner shedness withdrawals. Gary

June 6, 2014. I remember a Sydney newspaper columnist saying that as his weekly deadline drew closer he would panic about having something interesting to write. And here I am, writing a column every day, Waffling on like an incurable talkaholic. I do love a chat ya know.

NC Art wrote: Yep, human beans have such insatiable hunger for knowledge but such a wee appetite for the sense to use it responsibly.

Remnds me of a vid I saw on Youtube where a bunch of soldiers handed a rifle to a chimpanzee as a joke until the animal started firing in all directions as the soldiers ran for their lives. Weapons are not designed to be placed on the mantle piece.

OH Jim wrote: So read the bit about D-Day (from the Beeb). My Uncle Pete was on Omaha that morning and survived it. He would  never talk about it. Not anything. When I was a kid, I asked my Dad  about why uncle Pete never would talk about it, and all my Dad would  say was that it was pretty bad. My Dad was in North Africa, Sicily and  Italy. He lost his right leg at Casino. And he wouldn't talk a lot about things either. As an adult and having been in the Army myself, I  understand how they felt . But as a kid, I was kind of clueless.  Ironically, my Dad did the same thing as I did, an Artillery forward  observer.

You must be very proud of your heritage, Jim. I've heard many stories about returned servicemen who don't like to talk about their war experiences. I saw one last night on telly about an old digger who returned to a town in France where he was wounded during WWII. He told his mate to leave him and save himself from the Germans. He expected to die. Instead, he was rescued by the local French Resistance and hidden in the town while he was nursed back to health. As he stood by the grave of one of his digger mates, he broke down and wept, causing the relatives and descendants of his French rescuers gathered around him to weep also. Like so many other soldiers, he had kept the memories of his war experiences bottled up for decades.

The digger said at the gravesite that he knew his mate couldn't hear him, but that he was sure he was looking down on them from above. Reminds me of something that woman who underwent the wilderness survival course (I mentioned the other day) said about pitch black nights looking at the stars. She said it felt like she was looking down at them, and not up, and that it caused her to panic with vertigo sensations. Yeah, I had an experience like that one time when I observed the rising moon low on the horizon and suddenly visualized myself looking at the moon from a horizontal plane on the side of the earth. Hehe. It was quite unnerving and I had to look away.

There's no up, down or sideways in space, no north or south pole. I'm often amused by religious paintings that show a person gazing "up" to the heavens deep in prayer as if God happened to be in the direction of their gaze. Mind you, some would argue that God is omnipresent but I still think it's rather like giving Adam and Eve belly buttons.

From the Beeb: Hundreds of the last surviving D-Day veterans have gathered on both sides of the English Channel, 70 years on from the momentous World War Two mission. A spectacular Red Arrows display in Southsea and parachute drop in France came on the eve of the anniversary. The Princess Royal was at the drumhead ceremony in Portsmouth, where on 5 June 1944 troops were preparing to invade Nazi-occupied France. Between 2,500 and 4,000 Allied troops are thought to have died the next day. As many as 9,000 Germans are also estimated to have lost their lives when around 156,000 troops, mainly from Britain, the US and Canada landed on Normandy's beaches in one of World War Two's key turning points.

General Motors (GM) has accepted the findings of a "brutally tough, deeply troubling" report into recalls of its Chevrolet Cobalt over ignition problems which have been linked to 13 deaths. GM also said it would launch a compensation fund for crash victims and their families. Chief executive Mary Barra said the report, which was carried out by former US Attorney Anton Valukas, found "the Cobalt saga was riddled with failures". She said 15 employees have been fired. About half of these were senior legal or engineering executives, said the company. Five other workers who acted "inappropriately" have been disciplined. To date, the firm has recalled 2.6 million cars with the defective switch.

Researchers have found evidence of the world that crashed into the Earth billions of years ago to form the Moon. Analysis of lunar rock brought back by Apollo astronauts shows traces of the "planet" called Theia. The researchers claim that their discovery confirms the theory that the Moon was created by just such a cataclysmic collision. The study has been published in the journal Science.

The past is not just a foreign country, but also one we are all exiled from. Like all exiles, we sometimes long to return. That longing is called nostalgia. But, perhaps, it has some function beyond mere sentimentality. A series of investigations by psychologist Constantine Sedikides suggest nostalgia may act as a resource that we can draw on to connect to other people and events, so that we can move forward with less fear and greater purpose.

Yes, not all that long ago one GN posted a graphic (as he often did) about living for the moment, and the moment being all we have. I agreed but also pointed out that if it weren't for the past, we'd have no experience and have to start all over again each day, and if it weren't for the future we'd have nothing to plan for or look forward to. Another GN jumped in and gave my comment the facebook 'like' sign and the initial poster hasn't posted anything since.

Another habit many GNs have is signing off with a famous quote by an equally famous celebrity or historic figure. Seeing the same quote over and over gets a bit tedious after a while. But I suspect those people are hoping that the wisdom expressed in those famous words will be credited to them for being the poster. Fame by association.

See what happens when you spend time observing people and their habits? You become cynical... unless you can exercise dispassion as an entomologist who studies the mating habits of culiseta longiareolata might. I was chatting to Andrese about getting older and more cynical the other day, and pointed out that we need the vast multitides in order to get one Einstein. Hehe.

I think we need a break from all this D&M to look at something pretty... a '32 Chevy roadster.

Tail lights on stalks and dickie seats, wire wheels and pinstriping, and a 7-year-old, wide-eyed NC Art thinking that's about as flash as you can get. Actually, that was about the time of the Great Depression, so it probably was. I remember my mother saying she and dad celebrated their first wedding anniversary with potatoes and onions.

Just phoned Ford and hit the receptionist with "About the quote I'm waiting on... what's the quote for? A new head, a used head, a reconditioned head or my own head fixed?" That confused her, so she said the service manager Derek had "just ducked out for a moment" and she'll get him to phone back. That's the thing that annoys me... just because they're still waiting on the quote doesn't mean there aren't questions I want answered instead of sitting here wondering! I also wanna know if there's any damage other than damage to the head and if they managed to remove the plugs. Also if they're sourcing the quote locally or otherwise. Lack of communication is most irritating, but I guess it's pretty naive of me to expect anything different, and to be reticent about taking the bull by the horns. Scaredy cat. Sorry about the twin metaphors.

Did I say potatoes and onions? I wouldn't mind a decent feed of potato scallops - thinly sliced potato dipped in beer batter, deep fried and sprinkled with rock salt. Ditto the onion rings. Mmmmm! Deep frying in PJ might be too hazardous so I intend to get a cheap portable gas-cartridge stove for deep frying outdoors. A pot and wire basket, that'll do. I've seen cooks deep frying outdoors without a wire basket, using a slotted spoon instead, but I prefer the basket cos I like to give the food a shake every now and then. You can tell whether or not the food is cooked (especially potato chips) by the sound it makes during a shake. There's a critical few seconds between perfection and burnt and you gotta pay attention.

Well, no call from Ford so I called again. Got the old "we're terribly busy" routine. That's their problem, not mine. And you can bet they're all itching to disappear for the long weekend. Anyway, I managed to discover that the best price they've been quoted on a reconditioned head is a thousand bucks! Barnacle Bill told me yesterday that he saw one on eBay for $700, so I'll check it out (as well as others). The message from Ford was they're not permitted to use eBay "but if you can find one cheaper, go for it." So I'll hunt around on the weekend and let them know on Tuesday. If I find something, I'll have it delivered to them. $700 plus labor... seems like I'm looking at about a grand-ish all up. But at least I made a bit of progress. If not for that call, I'd still be none the wiser. Grrrr.

Meanwhile, I'll call it a wrap and see you again tomorrow. I'll also post some of the links on eBay so you can check out what I'm finding.

Here's a used one. I've asked about the pressure/crack test and what it'll cost.

There are kits for sale for $600-ish but they require complete assembly. Not too crazy about that idea. Completely assembled cost around a grand. Gary

June 5, 2014. Being an old country boy, NC Art has the ideal solution to the cracked head problem: Now go stick some bubble gum on that aluminium cylinder head and hit the road.

Not a bad idea but I'd need someone else to chew the bubblegum cos I ain't got any chewers. However, Andrese this morning suggested going for a set of upper dentures despite the advice of the Sydney specialist about dentures harboring bacteria. Andrese reckons if I only use the dentures for eating and speaking, and keep them clean, it should be okay. Cherie, on the front desk, spoke about medihoney, and how its antibacterial properties are being researched by a university in Bonn. It's a special type of honey from certain trees in Oz and New Zealand and has proven to be particularly effective in certain cases. Cherie's daughter suffered severe burns to 40% of her body when she was just four years old. She was given skin grafts but they began to peel off when she contracted a serious infection. The doctors tried everything without success, so Cherie suggested using medihoney topically. They said they couldn't recommend it but, if she wanted to use it, then go ahead. So she did, with amazing results. The skin grafts began to heal almost straight away. When I go back to the clinic next Tuesday she'll give me some.

Steve W reckons after my escapade on the bike yesterday, I'm lucky I don't have two cracked heads. Yeah, hehe. He also reckons if I can't handle two wheels I should stick to four.

TX Greg wrote: A cracked head, that suxs. I was worried that might be the case with that much coolant getting into the cylinder to cause hydrolock. When Ford said to replace the radiator and water pump, was there any signs of coolant leaking on the ground from those parts or were they just guessing as to what the problem was?

I did check under the front of the car a few times and didn't notice any wet spots so I suspect Ford was guessing. Proving it is probably another matter.

Seems Ford should do something to help out here. If they don't, you should go up to the dealer and hang out on the sale lot and have a no teeth chat with other customers shopping cars about how the service department misdiagnosed your problems and now your stuck with no vehicle, hehe. At the very least if your not happy with the service department's answer you should speak direct to the owner/general manger of the dealer to resolve the problem.

Dunno how effective a no teeth chat will be but I am contemplating writing a formal letter. As an old copywriter, I'll use the stuck-fast plugs as a lead in, explaining how I would have assumed that a simple maintenance job like checking plugs would be a normal part of servicing, and that Ford has serviced the vehicle 3 times already. Then I'll explain the rest of the story.

As I see it, Ford mechanics spend all day servicing new or late model cars going by the book. Check this, check that, tick, tick, tick, showing no incentive to think outside the square. If it's not in the book, forget it. Shortly after I bought the car, I had Ford service it and check it for registration. Soon afterwards, I was driving through town and the front brakes failed temporarily. Turned out I needed new wheel cylinders. How come it was serviced and checked for rego and they didn't notice leaky or worn wheel cylinders?

OH Jim takes a similar view: Well ain't that a crock!  I guess it could be worse, it could have been the block. I remember chevy  aluminum engines cracking heads the instant they would  over heat. You want to remind Ford of all the money they had you spend on useless repairs. Maybe they will give you a break on this repair. MAYBE.... ummm....  well anyway it's worth a try.... Oh well,  hope the news gets better on all of the PJ drama. Try to hold Ford to giving you a break on the repairs. If the service manager says no, go above his head to the owner.  Don't take prisoners !

Jim is pissed off cos it's tornado and storm season "over there" which is interfering with his ham radio broadcasts hehe. Yes, life can be sooo cruel.

OK Mike has just returned from a trip to the Gulf of Mexico where he toured a masted ship; a floating museum called the Elissa. That reminded me of my tour of the Endeavour replica a few years ago at Port Macquarie. For those of you who haven't seen the pics, here's the album. Mike says a lot has changed since the Olympus OM 1 days hehe. Sure has mate! I sold mine back in the mid 90s. Nice camera, though. I used a Sony digital camera for the Endeavour shoot. Now I have a D3100 Nikon.

Remember those screw holes in PJ's cupboard where Andrew put the TV wall bracket? I figured the best way to deal with them was to cover them with something, so I just splurged $10 (including postage) on this. Isn't it cute? It's one of only 5 according to the seller. I bought the first one.

From the Beeb: A manhunt is under way in the Canadian city of Moncton after three officers were shot dead and two wounded. Police said they were searching for Justin Bourque, 24, who was "armed and dangerous", and tweeted a picture of a suspect with weapons. Officials have warned people to stay inside and lock their doors. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police told the BBC the officers were shot responding to reports of an armed man wearing camouflage clothing.

A welcoming party in the home town of a US soldier freed from Afghan captivity has been cancelled, amid suspicions that he deserted his post. Organisers said the event in Hailey, Idaho, was cancelled for safety reasons, because of a large increase in the number of expected attendees. Bowe Bergdahl was released on Saturday after five years in Taliban captivity. Several commentators and soldiers have branded him a deserter and called for him to be punished. Why wasn't this known before Obama made his "never forgotten" speech?

A US military jet has crashed into homes in the California desert, about 90 miles (144km) east of San Diego. Television reports show at least one home on fire on a residential street in the city of Imperial, following the crash on Wednesday evening. The pilot ejected safely, and has been transported to a local hospital.

The 70th anniversary of D-Day - the biggest seaborne invasion the world has ever seen when allied forces landed on the coast of France on 6 June 1944 - is being commemorated. Crucial to the success of the mission was the airborne assault and this was spearheaded by the DC-3/C-47 Dakota plane. Hundreds of aircraft dropped thousands of allied  paratroopers on enemy targets in Normandy. Their job was to protect the men on the beaches from German counter-attacks. Duncan Kennedy reports.

Ah yes, the old Gooney Bird... isn't that what they're called? And the old machines are still flying today. So's NC Art for that matter.

Nimbus Concept e-Car runs on flower power: Exactly 50 years ago, Ken Kesey, that irascible chronicler of the US counterculture, drew a line in the sand: you were either “on the bus” or “off the bus”. Suffice it to say, Eduardo Galvani would fall in the former group. The Brazilian artist and designer has devised the Nimbus: a range-extended electric road-tripper with panoramic glass and on-demand four-wheel drive. The shape of the design study is halfway between the recently discontinued Volkswagen Kombi and an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, but don’t be deceived by that adorable mien – the Nimbus has world-conquering potential.

NC Art forwarded this: This is the only time you see this phenomenon in your lifetime. Calendar August 2014. August, this year, will have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens only once every 823 years. The Chinese call it 'Silver pockets full. " It's actually part of an email that urges you to forward the email to a friend or else risk being run over by a bus or crapped on by a flying elephant, but I don't believe in all that hocus pocus superstition. Anyway, to paraphrase Churchill, "Interesting if true, and interesting anyway."

Speaking of hocus pocus, I was thinking the other day about mankind's insatiable quest for knowledge. Today, we have powerful telescopes, satellites, rockets, robots, computers and science itself to help us gain more knowledge about our place in the universe and the nature of things. But there were times, of course, that technology was pretty primitive or even almost nonexistent. However, man's appetite for knowledge was just as insatiable back then as it is now. No worries. Imagination and creative licence to the rescue! Never let the facts get in the way of a good explanation! If you don't know the answer, invent it!

A couple of times on the GN forum, a GN has posted a link to something fascinating only to be told by someone else that the story has been debunked by Snopes. And what happened! To my surprise, other GNs criticized the Snopes poster for being a party pooper and ruining a perfectly good story, even if it was a load of old codswallop. So there ya go. People love a good yarn - period. Remember that line from one of the Superman movies, "You will believe a man can fly!" That about sums it up.

4.30 now and nothing from Ford. Tomorrow, Friday, is the end of the working week and the weekend is the Queen's Birthday long weekend, so it appears that nothing's gonna happen with PJ until next week. I have no idea why a quote for the new or reconditioned head is taking so long. Maybe they're shopping around Newcastle or Sydney - I doubt they'd find anything of that nature in this neck of the woods. I'll phone them tomorrow.

And that's it for Waffle for another day. Getting a bit nippy so I think the a/c is called for while I watch The Drum and catch up with local politics and whatever. Gary

June 4, 2014. Another chilly morning. So just before 7am, Lindsay arrives back from a walk up to the shops and remarks on how cold it is outside. Then he opens the back door, so I said, "So you're opening the door?" "Gotta put the garbage out, I'll close it soon." Roite... after letting all the cold air inside." (The rear of the house has a micro climate due to no sun in the mornings). Oh well...

It's gorgeous in the sun on the front veranda, though. I spent an hour out there like some decrepit old geezer nodding off a lot in the chair. Hehe.

FL Josh wrote: It's just after 4pm, Tuesday, here and I figure you are just getting up to start your Wednesday, and I just wanted to start your day off with wishes for good news on PJ today.

Now isn't that noice? Thanks, Josh. Much appreciated. 

OH Jim wrote to tell me all about his saga with a leak in his fuel intake pipe on his 2001 Mustang, which involved crawling under the car to fix it. But he's lucky... he has a nimble and energetic 17 y/o friend who also owns a Mustang to do the crawling for him. On top of that, he happens to be a ham radio tragic so the two are as thick as thieves.

It's obvious that I've become very attached to PJ. I miss her! She ain't no flash Bentley or Mustang but she nevertheless means a great deal to me. Actually, I'm reminded of my dad who always had new or near new trucks, but never owned a new or near new car. They were all oldies he lavished his attention on, with the result that he always appreciated the purr of a well-tuned engine, and never took it for granted. As I sat on the veranda watching the traffic this morning, observing all those people taking their cars for granted, not giving a second thought to everything working properly (until, of course, it doesn't), I thought about the buzz I get when PJ bowls happily along the highway. It's like the way you take pride in an old watch that still keeps perfect time.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama is to discuss economic support for Ukraine when he meets President-elect Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw. Mr Obama has said he will offer US support as Kiev tries to settle a gas bill with Russian supplier Gazprom or risk a cut in supply. Ukraine's struggling economy has been in recession since the middle of 2012. Mr Obama is in Poland for celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the end of communism there.

The top-ranking US military officer has raised the possibility Sgt Bowe Bergdahl could be prosecuted if he abandoned his post before his capture. Gen Martin Dempsey said the Army would not ignore misconduct but the 28-year-old was "innocent until proven guilty". The US Army later confirmed it will launch a new review into the circumstances surrounding Sgt Bergdahl's capture. He was released on Saturday after five years in Taliban captivity.

Drama in the backyard. Decided to take the bike for another mini spin, threw a leg over the saddle, caught the crotch of my track pants on the saddle, bike went sideways and so did I, skinning my knees and toes, and looking decidedly pathetic. Oh dear... So I got to my feet, thought about it, and decided the best way to straddle a saddle without a paddle was to hold onto something with my right hand as I threw my right leg. Worked like a charm. So that will be the technique from now on or until I regain my old proficiency. Hehe. Then I took a mini spin and returned using the same technique to dismount. I dunno what's worse... skinning knees or the indignity of taking a fall.

Nothing from Ford yet and it's 3pm. I suspect people are trying to get their cars serviced before this long weekend (Queen's birthday) and PJ's taken a back seat. Soooo, only one thing to do... phone them. Well, PJ is still in the workshop, and it's not just a gasket, no sireee, it's a cracked head. At the mo, they're shopping around for prices on a replacement, probably a used one which is fine by me if its condition is okay. Or maybe they're gonna get the current one reconditioned depending on the severity of the crack(s). As soon as they get a price, they'll contact me and we'll go from there. So I guess a cracked head means the block, conrods, pistons, rings, and cylinder walls are all okay - at least the person I spoke to didn't mention those things - and all the bolt-on peripherals. I have no idea how much replacing a cracked head is gonna cost but I'll soon find out! It'll either mean the job gets done now or has to wait another pension or two. This is not fun, dear Breth.

There are a couple of prices on Google for reconditioned Ford Falcon cylinder heads (4 liter) at around $400 so if that's the kinda money I'm looking at, plus labor at about the same amount, then it'll take two pensions - this one (tomorrow) and the next (June 19). On the other hand, reconditioning my own head (no smart cracks, please) might be cheaper.

I read one article on the web which said many heads, particularly aluminium, are doomed to crack right from the very beginning, and cited a number of Ford and GM engines that are notorious for cracking. However, I've never experienced the problem before with any of the cars I've owned over the years. The worst problem in recent times was the timing chain in Bluey which cost $1800 to repair! What a joke that was, and to make it worse, the Nomad was unsuitable for my purpose anyway. At least the Courier suits my purpose and is worth pursuing... to a point. If  get good use out of whatever I spend, I can handle that.

So that's the state of the nation at the mo, Ls and Gs. Limbo.

Here's a comment by a GN on the forum about the gypsy lifestyle and being "homeless".

And here's another...

It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken,
Who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dyin'
That never learns to live.

I was just about to wrap Waffle for the day when Steve W wrote, and what he wrote just happens to be most relevant to the above: Your words from yesterday resonated with me "it's like we went there, and we went here, and we met so and so, and had lunch, and the scenery was nice and and and... They make it sound like it's all so ho hum."

I was fortunate enough in my earlier career to travel much of the world, and I plead guilty to being to being very much like that. I think it is something that comes (or should come) with maturity. I remember being atop the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Twin Towers, The Sistine Chapel et al and yes take a few shots and on to the next thing. What a fucking waste I tell myself now. From here on, I shall savour every moment, it’s so important.

But that's how life often is when you're young... there's always tomorrow to attend to such matters. The trouble is, as we oldies know only too well, tomorrow comes with a sudden rush and time is of the essence. Thanks for the note, Steve. Gary

June 3, 2014. Lovely in the sun, cold inside, but it's gonna be a beautiful day! The yard looks bare without PJ there, though. I miss my morning dose of inner shedness sitting in the sun. So I wonder what news today will bring from Ford?

TX Greg wrote: I had to do a double take at the tow truck photos. That was pretty clever with the top two on the left. At first glance it made the tow truck bed look as if were 50 feet long, hehe

Total coincidence, Greg. It just turned out that way. Meanwhile, NC Art forgot that Waffle gets a new page each month and is wondering where I've been for the past two days hehe. I'm still here, Art! Yoo hoo!

Spent a bit of time in the sun checking the garages. Amazing what you find in there. A bottle of car polish, a spray can of Armor-All, a hydraulic jack (Bluey didn't have a jack), a cockroach that had eaten half the jack's instruction leaflet and pooed everywhere, and a spray bottle (for water).

From the Beeb: The Obama administration has proposed strong new rules targeting coal-burning power plants in an effort to curb global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan seeks to cut carbon emissions by 30% by 2030. The 645-page rule is a centrepiece of President Barack Obama's plans to leverage similar commitments from polluting nations like China and India. States must submit initial compliance plans by June 2016.

Lockheed Martin has won a contract worth $915m (£546m) to supply the US Air Force with a ground-based radar for tracking objects in space. It will be part of the Air Force's "space fence" programme designed to track satellites and smaller objects. The system is planned to be operational from September 2018 and could be based on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. The number of man-made objects in space has increased dramatically as China and other nations have expanded operations. Currently, the Air Force tracks around 23,000 objects in space.

Seattle has voted unanimously to raise the city's minimum wage to the highest level of any major US city - $15 (£9) per hour, twice the national minimum. Wages would begin to rise next year, ultimately reaching $15 from Washington state's minimum of $9.32 over three to seven years, depending on the business. A councillor who supported the push said the vote "sends a message heard around the world". US minimum wage is $7.25, although 38 states have set higher levels

Currently the full-time minimum wage in Australia is $16.37 per hour or $622.20 per week. This means that most employees in the national system shouldn't get less than this. Casuals covered by the national minimum wage get an extra 24% ($20.30 per hour).

If my pension (with rental assistance and other benefits) were for a 40-hour week, it would work out to about $11 per hour. Seems we're not doing too badly in Oz.

4pm and nothing from Ford yet. The plot thickens, and I'm hoping it's not getting thicker than my wallet! Mind you, that wouldn't take much at the mo. I think I wrote back at the beginning of the year that all the major expenses were over and that I could get back to saving and whittling down my credit card. Yeah, right. June already and I haven't even started yet! Oh well... roll with the punches and all that stuff.

I heard a woman being interviewed on the radio as I shaved. She undertook a wilderness survival course and one of the challenges was being blindfolded at night and made to walk unaided through the bush. She staggered around at first, tripping, getting caught in undergrowth and generally wishing she'd never started the course, but slowly her other senses came into play and sharpened, Soon she was making her way using touch, smell, hearing and even her skin, which she said became a kind of compass. She eventually became quite proficient at navigating through unnumerable obstacles and said, in fact, that it was in some ways easier than being sighted. When someone finally touched her on the arm and told her that she'd reached her destination successfully, she felt not only absolute joy but also a heightened sense of being alive, with her senses still on full alert as if awakened from a long hibernation.

I suppose, to a lesser extent, the Odyssey will be a feast of sensations not only for my eyes but also my other senses, including my sense of being alive. Every day there will be new experiences. How radical is that compared to the regular daily routine most of us lead? 

I have a feeling many GNs don't appreciate the lifestyle as much as they should. I've read a few blogs and it's like we went there, and we went here, and we met so and so, and had lunch, and the scenery was nice and and and... They make it sound like it's all so ho hum. Maybe they're not very proficient at expressing themselves. Mind you, some are, but they're in the minority.

Hmmm. 4.30 now and still nothing from Ford. It's almost knock-off time. Maybe no news is good news. Besides, I can't pay until Thursday (pension pay day), and then only if it's a comparitively simple job. The cost of a major rebuild would be totally out of the question.

And now it's 5pm so I can safely say there won't be a call from Ford today. Maybe they're busy and didn't have time to check out PJ. Or maybe the tow truck driver accidentally dropped PJ over the side of a bridge and didn't tell anyone. Anyway, I expect I'll know more tomorrow. I should mention that I left a typed note on the steering wheel explaining the situation, including the fact that the radiator level still falls despite the work done on installing a new radiator and water pump. I'm hoping it'll make them feel a little guilty so they go easy on me this time around. Gary

June 2, 2014. A jaffle iron is like a small oven, right? And if you bake bread (or damper) in a regular oven you've got enough to feed an army, right? If all I want is enough fresh bread for breakfast, then how about placing a small amount of bread (or damper) dough in the jaffle iron? Yes? I could make the bread/damper dough and refrigerate it, using only what's needed for one or two slices of fresh bread in the jaffle iron. Makes sense to me. Even if I'm near a store and can buy a loaf of bread, it's still wasteful. I can only eat so much.

I'm off to see Andrese in a few mins and then later I'll organize PJ's transport to Ford. It's all happening.

Well, Andrese is pleased with the progress of his "surgery" and now wants to book me in for the same procedure on the other side. I told him I can't wait. Yeah, right. But it's worth the hassle I guess. Anything to get back to normal as soon as poss.

Steve W forwarded this: Being a wordsmith, you may get a smile out of this. I love words and the English language and its weird and wonderful ways.

"Lexophile" is a word used to describe those that  have a love for words, such as "you can tune a piano, but you can't tuna  fish", or "to write with a broken pencil is pointless." A competition to see who can come up with the best lexophiles is held every year in an  undisclosed location. This year's winning submission is posted at the very end.

When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles  U.C.L.A.

The batteries were given out free of charge.

A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

A will is a dead giveaway.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

When you've seen one shopping Center you've seen a mall.

Police were called to a day care Center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

Did you hear about the fellow whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.

A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.

He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she'd dye.

Acupuncture is a jab well done. That's the point of it.

And the cream of the wretched crop: Those who get too big for their pants will be exposed in the end.

Just called NRMA so it won't be long before I find out what the deal is about getting a tow to Ford. I dunno why I'm worried about it - I'm the customer and I have premium membership! I can be such a timid little possum sometimes. Hmmm. Well, the NRMA bloke was the same one who was here last week and who advised me to drive out to Ford. When I said I'd been told not to start the engine and take the risk, he was a bit short with me: "You were driving it last week! But if you want a tow, I'll get you a tow." Then he went back to his vehicle and got on the 2-way. He'd settled down a bit when he returned and I explained I couldn't afford a new engine. "It wouldn't even get warm from here to Ford, but I suppose it's better not to risk it." Hehe. He's one of those guys who prides himself on being an "expert" and doesn't like to be contradicted. Never mind. He was all smiles when he left.

So now that the tow has been authorized, the next thing will be the quote from Ford tomorrow. 

The young tow truck driver wanted to turn PJ around to load it from the front. No way! Then he was worried that PJ might sit too high on the tray and collide with the bottom power line. Nah, she'll be right, mate. No worries! So he relented and everything was cool. Hehe. Then I phoned Ford to let them know PJ was on the way. So far, so good.

By the end of the week, with a bit of luck, PJ will have 4 new plugs and all 126 horses champin' at the bit and rarin' to go! Won't that be awesome! Can't wait to take her for a spin along the highway. Vroom vroom! Come think of it, economy might improve as well!

It's been quite an adventure since the Courier first arrived... bull bar, helper springs, Stan the Lawn man helping to load PJ after months of waiting, Sowter Engineering and the bumectomy plus other mods, Andrew the sparky and a stack of jobs, new radiator and water pump, and now this, a blown head gasket. Sheesh!

So now I'm back from taking vehicle #2 for a spin... an ultra short one. The high kick practice is working cos I managed to throw a leg over the saddle without a prob, but the rest of the trip was a bit wobbly. Hehe. But I'm getting there.

From the Beeb: A solar-powered plane that will be taken on a round-the-world journey in 2015 is set to make its inaugural flight on Monday. The Solar Impulse 2 will take off from Payerne airfield in Switzerland. It is a larger, upgraded version of the aircraft that flew across America last year with adventurers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg at the controls. The two men want to push the boundaries for alternative energy and believe their plane can be a standard bearer.

Ann B Davis, the American actress best known for her role as Alice Nelson, the housekeeper in the TV series The Brady Bunch, has died at the age of 88. A medical examiner in Texas said Ms Davis had died on Sunday morning. A friend of Ms Davis, Bishop William Frey, told CNN she had fallen and hit her head, and suffered a subdural hematoma from which she never regained consciousness.

Final preparations are being made for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil which starts next week. Ahead of the games, BBC News has been finding out more about the country, and not just from the street. The BBC hexacopter took to the sky to see what Brazil looks like from above.

A video has emerged showing Justin Bieber using the n-word in a racist joke. The footage, which was obtained by The Sun, was filmed for his Never Say Never documentary in 2011. It shows Bieber smiling, sitting on a sofa with friends when he says: "Why are black people afraid of chainsaws?". The singer, who is now 20, then finished his joke by making the noise of the chainsaw and repeating "Run n*****" five times. Dumb joke anyway.

Well, all things come to those who wait, roite? Last week, I thought today was gonna take forever. And here it is! In fact, it's nearly over. Time flies when you're having fun, but the reverse is equally true. There are days when I'm desperate to slow it down and days when I when I'm desperate to speed it up. Can't remember any days when the passage of time has been just right. So it's all about perception and one's state of mind.

Meanwhile, I'll call this particular Monday a day (Wafflewise) and do my customary hooroo and seeya later. Gary

June 1, 2014. I stand corrected. Actually, I'm sitting but that's not the point. Steve W wrote: My maths (math, for Americans) isn’t fantastic, but working on the basis that there are still 12 months in a year, the end of month 5, being May, is not really half way. I know, you just said that to see who was paying attention. I was!

BR Joao also wrote: I was reading a magazine about boats and I found that incredible lake as pink as a little girl’s garment. It’s Lake Hillier, in Middle Island, Recherche Archipelago. Where? Australia, of course, the country with the most curious nature in the world. The lake is pink due to sea algae.  I know you can’t get to Middle Island on PJ, but if you pass near Cape Arid National Park take a boat and visit that amazing landscape. I liked to learn about that sophisticated difference between happy chooks in the backyard and not so happy chickens on the plate but I pass, I don’t like both.

I've heard about the pink lake, Joao, and it's one of the places on my loooooong list. The only thing that concerns me is that I'll last long enough to see it all! There's also a pink lake in Victoria. As to chook and chicken, I quite like them especially baked in an oven bag with stuffing surrounded by spuds and pumpkin. The oven bag holds all the juices and is perfect to make yummy gravy. Oven bags are good anyway cos they  keep the oven clean.

It was supposed to be rainy today but it's the opposite - sunny and warm. So I decided to make the most of it and did a bit more fiddling in PJ. This time I found a good spot for the rechargeable Hoover mini vac, close to the inverter power board. It's not an ideal spot but almost. At least it's out of the way and doesn't detract from the open space or inhibit doors. Took me a while to figure it out cos the obvious place was a wall. Yes, this is a wall - a short wall - but a wall nonetheless.

Its previous home was in the cupboard (right - under the fridge) that also houses the bin for the gas bottle, which is my 'bits and pieces' cupboard - toilet rolls, paper towels, plastic bags, odds and ends - and now I have more room in there! I suppose available space will start disappearing rapidly once I move in permanently but I'm confident there'll be plenty.

Inside that step is a 50 liter stainless steel water tank. I checked the thickness of the timber wall to make sure I didn't drill a hole in the tank. Most GNs carry much more than 50 liters but they have showers and toilets and god knows what. 50 liters is heaps for lil ole me. Water for showers, washing, porta potti, etc, can come from anywhere... bore, river, lake, etc.

Ya know, I was soooooo lucky to find that camper and get it for $4700. During my search, I saw heaps in far poorer condition at twice the price, or way out of my reach in another state. I've done some pretty dumb deals with vehicles over the years and lost heaps of bucks, but at least I scored well with the old Freeway. Now all I gotta do is get the Courier ship shape and I'll be sweet. Fingers crossed for this coming week.

From the Beeb: US President Barack Obama says he received security guarantees from Qatar over five Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were transferred to secure the release of a US soldier in Afghanistan. US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was handed to US forces after being held for nearly five years by the Taliban. He has left Afghanistan and is en route to a US military hospital in Germany. Five Afghan detainees were released from the US prison in Cuba and handed to Qatar, which mediated the deal.

China has denounced the Japanese PM and US defence secretary for making "provocative" speeches against China at an Asian security forum in Singapore. Chinese army general Wang Guanzhong said Chuck Hagel and Shinzo Abe's comments at the Shangri-La Dialogue were "unacceptable". Mr Hagel had earlier said China was "destabilising" the South China Sea. How predictable.

President Obama is set to unveil the most significant American attempt yet made to curb carbon dioxide emissions when he announces new restrictions on existing power plants on Monday. The president is likely to endorse a set of rules drawn up by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will seek to limit emissions from 1,600 existing facilities that are responsible for about a third of US CO2 emissions

Steve W has an idea for a fishing book, so he started with another book - a notebook, which will stay in his pocket so he can jot down thoughts as they occur to him. Good thinking, 99. Ideas don't pop into our heads at will, they arrive at the most unexpected times and places, so a handy notebook and pencil is just the ticket. Moreover, ideas that come to us in a flash of inspiration can be easily forgotten - which is another good reason to jot them down before they vanish.

It's been a similar experience with sorting out the cupboards and drawers in PJ. It's a small space, which you would think is easy to arrange. But it's not. I've spent many hours just looking and thinking, waiting for solutions to come to me, which they have in their own good time. Part of the exercise involves trial and error, choosing one cupboard and then changing your mind. So you rethink the situation. Packing the storage bins was the same - arranging and then rearranging until everything fitted neatly, using minimum space. It's amazing how much stuff I've managed to load. And I know exactly where everything is! Attaching chains to the drop down sides to make a bench was a major plus... it allows me to unload the stuff in front to get to something at the back without lots of bending (or getting things dirty or wet).

Life on the road should be as pleasant and organized as possible, I reckon. I'm too bloody old to rough it. And if I need something - anything from tools to tea - I wanna know where I can find it. 

Can't say I'm big time into rocks, but I kinda like this one, pictured on the GN forum. Would be cool for a few creative photos.

Anyway, Ls and Gs, it's time I was outta here. Tomorrow, I'll let you know if there was any hitch getting the NRMA to organize a tilt tray tow for PJ to Ford. Gary


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