July 31, 2014.
Jules and Billeeeeeee wrote to say that they plan to drag me and PJ off kicking and screaming next summer when they visit Taree to the wilds of the mid north coast amongst the megafauna, locust plagues and millions of venomous snakes and spiders. Sounds like fun, yeah? They're determined to introduce me one way or another to the joys of life on the road even if they have to embalm me and strap me to a camp chair, propped up under the awning. Isn't it nice to have caring friends?

I see through the kitchen window that Av's rellos have organized a lifeline truck to take away her bed and other furniture for charity. I imagine there are only a few personal items they will keep for themselves. Before my cancer op, when I was doing lots of errands and regular shopping for Av, she spoke of my being "rewarded" but I'm pretty sure she never made a will. She had quite a few $$$ socked away too. I used to do her banking so I was aware of it. But I think my absence since the cancer kinda reprioritized the who's who of Av's carers and I took a back seat. In any case, I want nothing to do with contesting wills or any of that shit. Money was never my motive in any case.

TX Greg wrote: Was sad to hear about Averil, but at least glad you're home and doing better :)

Not quite that better, Greg, but not too bad. Had to cancel my appointment with the dentist this morning cos I figured I couldn't walk that far with any confidence. Which reminds me, OH Jim was asking about my gums during my stay in hospital. Gums took a back seat. Half my medication was missing and nothing was done about the exposed bone or cleaning. The docs had other priorities. Jim also asked if GP meant general practitioner... yes, it does, and he's due here sometime today for a home visit. I know Americans think home visits are something extraordinary... things have changed since Dodge City, Matt Dillon and Doc Holliday with the focus on money and business these days. But it's also a culture thing. Oz had burgers and fried chicken for a long time too but it was the Yanks who turned them into multinational fast food franchises. Oz also made the world's first feature film (The Ned Kelly Gang) but it was the Yanks who capitalized on the idea and created Hollywood with all its Movie Factories - MGM, WB, Columbia, Radio RKA, Paramount, etc.

FL Josh wrote: Good to have you home, and getting stronger by the hour. You have yet to share with us how you ended up in the hospital. Last we knew, you said the day before that you were going to ask Andries for a prescription for some antibiotics in the morning. Did you go to the dentist and Andries had you taken to the hospital or did you have to call an ambulance or what?

I think it was or what. I forget what I've mentioned and what I haven't. I phoned the dental clinic and asked about Adries prescribing antibiotics. He didn't like the idea so I was told to either see my doc or phone an ambo. I chose the latter, and that was on the Monday, four days after I'd gotten sick. By the time I arrived at the hospital, I was described as "frail" which hit me like a sledgehammer. Frail? Me? I fully expected to be back home in a few hours, instead I was there for a week with pneumonia. And I'm still recovering.

My GP visited me earlier today with a student. The doc commented on my scaring the daylights out of the hospital staff with my weight loss - exacerbated by eating nothing for the 4 days before I finally phoned an ambo. He asked the student to use his stethoscope to listen to my breathing. The young bloke lifted my pullover and shirt, so I said, "I'm in there somewhere, mate, just keep looking." At least the doc got a laugh hehe. The student has had a personality bypass, I think... one of those wet-fish handshakers. Never mind.

I spent a while in PJ this arvo and said g'day to Bubba... told him it was good to see him again. He's a cute little bugger and I love his face. I really enjoy being in PJ, and that armchair shaped cushion is very comfy... a bargain at $30. I was thinking that I'll keep my GP as my regular doc (given my history over the past 13 years) and visit Taree once or twice a year on my travels just to maintain contact and have regular checkups. I'm determined to prove that 'frail' is a temporary condition. I'm also missing those hospital hot meals already, and I haven't been shopping yet, dangit. Better do it tomorrow and stock up on meat and veg.

From the Beeb: Israel says it will investigate the shelling of a school housing displaced civilians in Gaza, and apologise if Israeli fire was responsible. A government spokesman told the BBC: "We have a policy - we don't target civilians". The US and UN condemned the attack, which killed at least 16. Israel said its military responded to mortar rounds launched from near the school

The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution to sue President Barack Obama for allegedly exceeding his constitutional powers. The 225-201 vote along party lines means House lawyers will now draft legal documents to launch a lawsuit. Its supporters say Mr Obama exceeded his powers when he delayed an insurance deadline in his healthcare law. The president himself has dismissed it as a waste of time. "Everyone sees this as a political stunt," he said. "If they're not going to do anything, we'll do what we can on our own," the president added.

Australia has approved a $15.5bn (9bn) coal project, despite concern over its potential environmental impact. The Carmichael project in Queensland would include one of the world's biggest coal mines and a new railway. It would be overseen by the Indian mining company Adani, which has already won approval to build a new coal port terminal at Abbott Point in Queensland. But critics have voiced concern over local water use and possible indirect impact on the Great Barrier Reef. The decision to approve the Carmichael project, which will dig up and transport about 60m tonnes of coal a year for export, mostly to India, was announced on Monday. Adani is yet to make a final commitment to the project, which would be biggest coal mine ever proposed for Australia.

Boring ol chicken soup tonight plus a few other bits and pieces. I feel like something more substantial! Oh well... tomorrow. And that's it for today, Ls and Gs. Be noice. Gary

July 30, 2014.
Stressed! But not now. The nurse responsible for providing me with medications filled my head before leaving hospital with all kinds of dos and donts and I've been stressing about being disorganized until this morning when I sorted out all my new and old meds and got things back under control. I even stood while taking a leak just now... first time in several days that I've had the strength to do so. However, all my obs have been fine, including oxygen which is about 92-93%. According to the nurse, that's pretty good for a bloke with emphasema.

Averil's funeral was yesterday. Seems strange after knowing her so long, and checking to see that her curtains were opened/closed at certain times of day. No more Averil. Obviously, I didn't attend... I was still laid up in hospital.  Her rellos are here organizing the house and other things - down here from far north Queensland. As soon as I'm able, I'll visit her grave which she now shares with Kev who died about 6 years ago.

One of the things on my list today was a shave. Haven't had one for over a week and I was getting pissed off with all the whiskers taking skinny dips in my drinks. I had to almost drag the thing off cos I shave with a blade, the current one being something less than sharp. But I'm now whisker free which is a blessing. I've tried electric shavers in the past but am yet to find one that works properly. The last was a Remington and it was hopeless. My current shaver is one of those Gillette cartridge 4-bladed ones with a single battery that vibrates the top end. Gives a good shave but needs water and gel. Not the sort of thing you can use in a hospital bed.

I'm feeling a little better than I did last night... a tad more stamina... getting about the house a bit better... even sat in PJ's cab for a spell in the sunshine - beautiful day. And I'm a tad mentally more "myself".

I need to go shopping so if I feel able to drive tomorrow, I'll take Lindsay with me, park on the roof of the supermarket and get the elevator down to the mall. That way I can wheel the trolley back up to PJ and unload all the stuff. No more noodles... fresh veges and cooked meats from now on, blended separately and served in one of those microwave plates with individual sections the way the hospital serves them, and drowned in gravy or sauces. The hospital food was actually quite good and tasty. I have an ice cream scoop to make my servings look more "professional". I plan to cook up a bunch of spud, pumpkin, beans and blended meats (roast beef, chicken, pork etc) in advance and micro individual servings as required. For lunch I had blended Lamb Hot Pot which was actually quite good - a can left over in the pantry. So that's the new resolution - eat well and put on WEIGHT!

More about Averil - after a major heart attack here she was taken to the local hospital where she was revived after being clinically dead twice, then she was flown to RNS Sydney where she was placed in an induced coma. Her rellos arrived from QLD sometime afterwards and asked to decide on whether or not to continue life support. Knowing Av, she would have not wanted to continue as a vegetable, so the decision was make to remove life support. She was pretty badly bruised after all the treatment and very unwell. I know she had planned to go from her house into a nursing home eventually but I think it's just as well that she didn't. She lived independently and happily right up to the end, which came suddenly.

I was also asked last week by the doc if I wanted CPR if I stopped breathing and I said, "sure, if you've got nothing better to do." Then he asked if I wanted to be kept on life support and I answered no.

Have you heard of Tulips from Taree? No? Nor had I. But during my stay in hospital, a nurse brought tulips to my bed and said they were from a friend. I explained I had no friends but I forgot about dentists. I have dentists. More dentists than most people. Dentists coming outta my ears. So guess who sent the tulips and card? Yeah. Cheree and Anna. Wasn't that sweet?

OK Mike wrote: Greetings my friend , I patiently waited for your release before I took to this message , ( waiting = something I am not very good at .) I am grateful that youre now home and on the mend . Quite surprised when your blog went unattended , quickly fixating on all that is negative . As your health continues to improve remember this; that there are many , many people spread around this mud ball that appreciate your daily input of life in general . Take care my friend and know that you are loved worldwide , and to some a hero.

How about those sentiments? That means a lot to me, Mike. A damn lot. Not for me personally but for what I do. It's what I do that matters to me, and how it might add a smile or a bit of interest, however small, to a person's life. Thanks ever so much for those wonderful words, Mike, and for having the wherewithall to express them so sincerely.

It's early evening now and I'm feeling a little better than I did this morning. Hopefully better again tomorrow. My GP is paying a home visit tomorrow to make sure I'm taking all the proper meds, etc. Gary

July 29, 2014.
Home at last! But still have a way to go bfore I'm fully recovered with lots medications including a few new ones. I'm very weak and my guess is it'll be some days before I'm well again. My vision is all blurry too for some reason. There's lots to write about but not just now.

Thanks for all the notes and wishes, including a call today from Jules and Billeeeeeee. I still haven't checked the GN forum yet though... no energy to collect my thoughts let alone express them.  OH Jim said he didn't understand the swallowing business. The muscles in my throat sometimes allow thin liqiids to drain into the wind pipe which may cause infection, and possibly pneumonia (as it did this time). So I'm on a diet of thicker liquids until I can exercise my swallowing gear back to normal. Even plain water needs to be thickened as do all drinks.

I've learned a few tricks from the way the hospital prepares its food so I'll copy that and start a new diet regimen, inlcuding better balanced nutrition and veg. I ate well while in hospital  and my appetite was good. Hopefully I'll be better organized tomorrow and start getting back to normal.

It is tomorrow.. faded last night and hit the sack without posting this. Gotta organize all my medication which is still packed away. More later. Gary

July 26, 2014. Thanks, TX Greg, and also the GNs asking about me on thr forum, and for Plato who phoned today.  Got swallowing exercises to work on for the next month or so and need to thicken food to prevent gagging  coughing. Had throat Xray yesterday to check mechanics of swallowing... needs improvement. Appetite is good though and eating well. Home Tuesday.


July 24.2014.  Things  are progressing well in hospital but the difficulty is writing. I'm all wired up with crap all over the place which makes it impossible to place the comp somewhere I can type properly... and I can't focus on the screen. The pneumonia bug is "tradional" so the treatment is penicillin. The speech therapist has given me throat srengthening exercises. I'll be back home early next week. Gary

July 22, 2014. Just a quickie to bring you up to speed. I don't have the energy mental or physical to do any more than that at the mo. I have a chest  infection diagnosed as pneumonia. For the frist day, they were worried that a swallowing problem may have caused some food to enter the lung. In any case I was not allowed any food or drink all day and overnight. Murder! But after being seen by a speech therapist this morning, I'm allowed thickened drinks and blended foods. I am feeling a little better but expect to be here for another few days yet. Gary

July 20, 2014. Av would kill me if she knew I'd misspelled Kev's name yesterday (Ken). So I fixed it. TX Greg sent flowers to Av when Kev died: That was a shock and depressing news about Averil. I've always been fond of her as she reminds me a little bit of my grandmother. Is it me or is the bad stuff winning? I hope at least you are feeling better this morning.

A little better, mate - I even drank a bit of fluid during the night - lime cordial with two squirts of lemon juice. But I'll ask Andries tomorrow morning for an antibiotics script. That should improve things. Dunno why they make those tablets as big as a bus, though. I can't even swallow half a one. I have to dissolve them. BTW, I didn't have to use Notepad to de-format your text... just clicked on source and it worked. Composer had source too but didn't allow you to edit it.

As to Averil's condition, I've heard nothing further. I remember Kev telling me about the first heart attack. She was in a bad way and there was no time to lose. It happened in either Melbourne or Sydney. Anyway, Kev had a V8 Valiant and it was pedal to the metal all the way through the traffic to the hospital. After she stabilized, one of the docs said if she'd arrived a minute later it would have been too late.

FL Josh wrote: So sorry you are under the weather down under. Hope you are on the mend and feeling better soon. Thanks, Josh.... who also sent this link to Archie's final comic as he attempts to protect his gay mate from a homophobe.

OH Jim also wrote: I was starting to worry about you. I am just about to turn in (it's 3AM Saturday morning and i haven't been to bed yet) I thought I would give the Waffle a shot and see if it had changed. So glad you posted something. Not good news about your neighbor. I hope she survives Ok. I'll say a prayer for her. Maybe things will work out ok. You never know. If you have the flu, you shouldn't mess around. Go see a doctor as soon as you can. You can develop pneumonia and that would not be too good. Mean while get some rest, drink fluids and keep eating and stay warm. I was half joking about the chicken noodle soup, in a way. But it is good for you. More later. Pretty tired. Glad you're on the mend.

Seeing a doc ain't easy when you're feeling like shit. Everything's a major effort. There's a box of tissues everywhere I go... here at the comp, by the bed, by the TV chair, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in PJ and the driver cab. That's an advantage PJ has... not having to go to six different rooms for six different things... everything is close handy.

One GN yesterday was asking how many travellers live in their vans 24/7. Quite a lot responded with positive comments about the joys of touring "the playground" as they like to call it.  Billeeeeeee and Jules said they haven't had a winter in 3 years. A few asked about getting sick and having to see the doc. Others said seeing a doc while travelling is the same as seeing a doc at home. Sometimes you need to hold up in a caravan park for a week or so but other than that it's no biggie.

For example, here I am on a cold and cloudy winter's day all rugged up in a house I can't afford to heat wheras if I were camped up north somewhere I'd be sitting out in the free warm sunshine.

However, I saw it as more a case of living 'out' of your van 24/7 rather than in it. Most of your time is spent outdoors sightseeing, chatting with fellow travellers, using the BBQ/campfire for cooking, and photographing various places (in my case). And all the while, your shelter, bed, transport and possessions are waiting for you nearby with all the home comforts. One bloke who sold his house described it as a brick storage shed for stockpiling all the things you don't need.

Now back to FL Josh who wrote again: Hope you are feeling better, mate.

No worries, mate. She'll be roite. Thanks for the following story. There's good and bad in this world, and it's at times like these I like to read the good.

I love surfing Youtube, especially the talent show competitions from around the world. It not only drives home how similar people are all over the world, but highlights some really wonderful people and their stories. Last night I was intrigued by a video hyped as the most emotional and touching talent video ever. I watched it and it lived up to the hype.

It's from the 2011 X-Factor Australia, and 17-year old Iraqi-born, Australian singer Emmanuel Kelly. Emmanuel and his brother, Ahmed, a year his junior, were born in Iraq, with no arms or legs due to chemical warfare their mother was exposed to. When they were still infants, their mother left them in a shoe box in a park where nuns discovered them and the Mother Teresa Orphanage in Baghdad became their home.

In 1998, when they were 4 and 5, an Australian humanitarian, Moire Kelly, took them to Australia for medical treatment and subsequently adopted them. In 2009, Ahmed and Emmanuel became Australian citizens. Their adopted mother, Aussie Moira Kelly, who was born in Melbourne in 1964, developed an interest in disadvantaged children when she was 8 years old and saw a documentary film about Mother Teresa. At 18, she studied to be a special education teaching assistant, then trained as a lay missionary. She traveled to Western Australia where she worked as a "house mother" at an Aboriginal mission. At 20, she sold her car in order to come up with airfare, and left for Calcutta where she stayed and worked with Mother Teresa's mission. In the late 1990's she returned to Australia. She has received numerous awards for her humanitarian work including in 2003, receiving the Victorian of the Year award, and in 2003 and 2004, being nominated for the Australian of the Year award. She was the subject of the 2001 documentary film "A Compassionate Rage" which followed her around for 18 months on her missions overseas as she organized medical treatment for sick and injured children.

Emmanuel's quadruple amputee brother Ahmed, is an Olympic swimmer and represented Australia in the 50-metre breaststroke, 50-meter backstroke, 150-meter individual medley, and the 100-meter freestyle at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. He holds two world records in the 100-meter breaststroke, an event not in the Paralympics, but he placed 4th in the 50-meter breaststroke. Here are some videos about them. Get the tissues handy. Handy? Did you read what I said about tissues earlier?

Emmanuel's audition for the 2011 Australia's Got Talent.

Information about Emmanuel and Ahmed .

The final 12 in the 2011 X-Factor Australia Grand Finale singing the John Lennon's Imagine.

Interview with Emmanuel two years after his appearance on X-Factor Australia.

It's not very often my automatic Citizen stops. There's no external winder or battery, so it relies on the wearer's physical movement to keep its auto winder going. I've been sleeping so much lately, the bloody thing stopped! A bit of hippy hippy shake with my left arm fixed that. I've lost weight too, which is a worry. My poor little 45kg bod hardly has the strength to repair itself with all that's been happening the past few years, and now this. Its natural immune system must working overtime. But sleep called the shots there for a while and I had no say in the matter.

It's mid afternoon and I'm having breakfast - a smoothie. They're a pain to make but worth it. I can actually feel it doing me good, and it tastes bloody good too. In fact, I think I'll have a second glass... and a third later.

I wonder if Andries and Anna have heard this dentist joke, sent in by NC Art:

The female dentist pulls out a numbing needle to give her male patient a shot. "No way! No needles. I hate needles," the man protests. The dentist starts to hook up the nitrous oxide and the man objects again. "I can't do the gas thing either. The thought of having the gas mask on suffocates me!"

The dentist then asks the patient if he has any objection to taking a pill. "No objection," the patient says. "'I'm fine with pills." The dentist then returns and says, "Here's a Viagra." The patient says, "Wow! I didn't know Viagra worked as a pain killer!" "It doesn't" said the dentist, "but it's going to give you something to hold on to when I pull your tooth."

Art also sent this piece about being older than dirt. I can remember almost all of the things nominated in the piece, so that makes me a contender for being older than dirt. How many do you remember?

My Dad is cleaning out my grandmother's house (she died in December) and he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of holes in it. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea. She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker or something. I knew it as the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to 'sprinkle' clothes with because we didn't have steam irons. Man, I am old! How many do you remember?

*Head lights dimmer switches on the floor.*

*Ignition switches on the dashboard.*

*Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards. *

*Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.*

*Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.*

Older Than Dirt Quiz - Count all the ones that you remember, NOT the ones you were told about! {or change the color of the print} Ratings at the bottom.

1. Candy cigarettes.

2. Coffee shops with tableside juke boxes.

3. Home milk delivery in glass bottles.

4. Party lines on the telephones.

5. Newsreels before the movie.

6. TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the morning. (there were only 3 channels!! if you were fortunate)

7. Peashooters.

8. Howdy Doody.

9. 45 RPM records, 10" 78 rpm records.

11. Hi-fi records 33 1/3 rpm.

12. Metal ice trays with lever.

13. Blue flashbulb.

14. Cork popguns.

15. Studebakers.

16. Wash tub wringers.

If you remembered 0-3 = You're still young. If you remembered 3-6 = You are getting older. If you remembered 7-10 = Don't tell your age, & if you remembered 11-16 = You're older than dirt!!! THAT'S ME!!! I might be older than dirt but those memories are some of the best parts of my life.

I don't think the last few days will be one of mine, but ya gotta take the good with the bad. I'm having a nice hot cuppa now and just turned on the heater. Time to let the telly do all the work. Must say again, Greg, clicking on Source to paste emails and other stuff, even a number of paragraphs at once, works a treat! Gary

July 19, 2014. Still on the sick list but feeling a little better after sleeping practically nonstop for almost 3 days. I think I have a chest infection. If the situation doesn't improve I'll organize a course of antibiotics but I'll have to do it by phone - easier said than done on a weekend. I have a puffer and some of that Medi Honey, which is an antibiotic.

Meanwhile, Averil, my next door neighbor, set off her personal alarm late the other night and I got a call from the people who monitor such things. I explained that I was too ill to visit her house while she waited for an ambulance, so the person suggested Stan the Lawn Man and Sue but they were holidaying way up north in their caravan. They called a second time this morning to say her alarm went off again. So I asked Lindsay to check the house. All locked up and no answer. So I asked him to call the hospital. They told him she'd been transferred to another hospital but would give no further information to anyone other than family.

Then Sue called about midday to inform me they'd only just arrived back home after I'd received the first call. Averil had nominated them or me, so there was no one else to call. Obviously they kept trying regardless. Sue walked in the door to a ringing telephone and drove over to Averil's house right away. It was a heart attack. They took her by ambulance to Manning Base from which she was tranferred urgently by air ambulance to Royal North Shore Sydney (where I was flown after my my heart attack in 2002). She's now in an induced coma and not expected to pull through. She had a massive heart attack about 20 years ago and was lucky to survive that one.

Thank God for Sue. She's a master organizer and responds well to a bit of high drama. No way I could have handled those arrangements in my condition. She's made all the calls necessary to Averil's neice in Cairns, the estate agent, Home Care and others who need to know. So how's that for timing? I'm laid up with a chest infection and Sue walks in at the last possible moment.

Yep, an hour later and Sue's at Averil's house with a friend and his ute and trailer cleaning up the joint like a good soldier. She said they left it in "a bit of a mess" the other night getting Averil away in an ambulance (packing medications, undies, change of clothes, etc) but Sue's version of a "bit of a mess" is nothing compared to mine. She's one of those spic and span ladies, constantly fussing.

So that pretty much spells the end of an era (for me) in Taree. I spent many hours in Kev and Av's house over the years. Kev died about 6 years ago so I took care of the hospital visits with Av and then escorted her to the funeral, then did all her shopping and errands until I was too sick with cancer. I stopped visiting altogether when I had all my teeth extracted cos it was impossible to conduct a conversation.... even by phone. So now it appears as if Av's gone too.

Av and the landlady who owns these two properties were good friends and stayed in touch by phone over the years. What effect Av's situation will have on the properties is not certain. Even if she does defy the odds, she'll probably go to a nursing home. But I'll bet the real estate agent will urge selling to a developer. The blocks are in a prime commercial area and occupy a large parcel of land. Our rents are pretty low at the moment because of the landlady's insistence. But she's well into her 80s and her newphew, to whom she's willed them, has other ideas.

The uncertainties of life, yes? As to me getting back to normal, maybe another day to two. I'm still a bit groggy, Gary

July 17, 2014. Sick today, folks. Slept all night, slept all day, and still feeling buggered. Nothing serious though. Hopefully, I'll be okay tomorrow or the next day. Gary

July 16, 2014. Cool and wet today, dangit. But the forecast says showers easing, and the rest of the week looks pretty good, so our sunny and mild winter ain't over just yet. However, we still have windy August to get through.

Two experienced skiers weren't so lucky down south in our Alpine region. The adventurous pair (old school mates) got caught in a snow avalanche and perished. They were found buried under a meter and a half of snow yesterday. A land of extremes is Terra Australis.

OH Jim added more info about his '68 Mustang. He never meant to keep it. It just happened. In fact, he never meant to buy it. He had his heart set on a Camero RS. He was checking the for sale ads in the paper one day and his aunt asked if he'd ever considered buying a Mustang. He answered no so she threw the keys on the table and invited him to try hers. The rest is history. But the old girl has had a few facelifts over the years (and I'm not referring to his aunt). New floors welded in, new gas tank, new chrome bumpers, several water pumps, alternators, radiators and major tune ups. Even a new paint job back in 2001... original candy apple red. And Jim did all the work himself, including stripping the old paint back to the metal. However, engine, transmission and carb are all original with matching serial numbers - the "holy grail" of vintage autos.

And did he ever realize his dream of owning a Camero? Yep, as well as a Plymouth Sundance, a Saturn RS dual cam, Dodge pickup, Chevy Blazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, a 1991 Mustang 5 convertible and his current 2001 Mustang which be bought new. And through all those years he kept the ol' '68. I guess it must've become like a member of the family.

There are quite a few cars I would like to have kept, come to think of it, but in particular my old Benz. Nothing special, just another old Benz to most people. But to me it was special - as was the three pointed star at the end of the bonnet. That model ('61-'68) was the only Benz that succumbed to the American 'fin' look, but it was pretty low key.

There was more talk on the radio today about Ian Thorpe's coming out interview. One bloke said research shows that homophobia is more prevalent in the sporting fraternity than in the general population. He said that even homophobic comments not meant to insult anyone in particular can be overheard by people struggling with their sexuality, and can be very hurtful. He went on to explain that people like Thorpy need our support and the support of their sporting colleagues, and that "we should all get behind Ian..." Behind him? I think he could have chosen his words a little more thoughtfully.

From the Beeb: Israel warned thousands of Palestinians in eastern and northern Gaza to leave their homes as it continues air strikes. The warning came after an Egyptian truce initiative failed to halt militant rocket attacks on Israel. Hamas initially rejected the truce but an official later told the BBC it would consider a political solution. Palestinian officials say Israeli raids have killed 204 people so far. Israel on Tuesday reported its first fatality. Ten people were reported killed in Gaza in overnight attacks.

Last week the Magazine reported that production of India's famous Ambassador car has been stopped due to low demand. The article, which reflected on some of the cars finest and most frustrating features, prompted readers to send us their own memories of the iconic car. I had the pleasure and pain of travelling in Ambassadors in the 1980s. I remember one journey when the glove box kept on falling open, and while still driving along (at speed) the driver took the keys out of the ignition, leaned over and locked the glove box. I still have a soft spot for the old Morris.

Australian rules football pundit Brian Taylor has apologised after using a homophobic insult to describe a player who gave a "royal wave" to the crowd. His remarks came as defender Harry Taylor was hoisted onto his team-mates shoulders to mark his 150th game. "I've just seen that crap from Harry. He's a big poofter," said the commentator. "Next thing you'll have your mum and dad out there." TV network Channel Seven said he would be given "education and counselling". There was swift condemnation of Taylor's comments online, and he apologised during a subsequent broadcast on Saturday night. That's the story that inspired comments on radio today.

One of the most famous characters in comic book history is set to bid a sad farewell. In the latest issue of Life with Archie - a spin-off following Archie's adventures as an adult - the character tries to foil an assassination attempt on his friend Kevin, the series' first openly gay character. But in the world of comic books, being fatally shot does not necessarily mean the end. Tim Allman reports. I used to read Archie as a kid.

A letter sent to pupils at a Lancashire primary school along with their key stage two test results has gone viral on social media sites. The letter to pupils at Barrowford Primary School in Nelson told them the tests do not always assess what makes them "special and unique". It has been posted on Facebook, Twitter and featured in national newspapers. Head teacher Rachel Tomlinson said she had been "absolutely astounded" by the reaction in social media and elsewhere. Too true, too true!

Well, lookie, lookie, lookie. Yesterday I mentioned pastes from the Beeb having a formatting mind of their own so TX Greg wrote and suggested I paste the Beeb stuff in Notepad cos it loses its embedded formatting. And he's right! Bit of a pain fiddling around but it's better than alphabet soup.

The reason I didn't paste OH Jim's email today was the same... formatting went ballistic. So in future I'll use the Notepad trick for that too. Greg to the rescue yet again!

And now it's time once again to bid thee farewell till the morrow. Gary

July 15, 2014. Ian Thorpe may be gay but he sure ain't dumb. He and his friend Michael Parkinson, the interviewer, formed a production company, packaged the interview and sold it to television networks. Thorpe pocketed $400K from the sale. Not bad for a 'coming out' prezzie.

One of the panelists on The Drum last night looked at the camera and said, "Don't feel bad about admitting being gay, Thorpy. It's not your fault, it's ours." He was referring to the pressures I mentioned yesterday that cause many gays to live in denial for much of their lives, if not their whole lives.

It's 4pm already! I've been working on the first draft of the letter to Ford Service. Seems okay but I'll leave it for a day or two before I revise it.

I also made a caramel sauce with a can of sweetened condensed milk. I found a recipe on the web that uses a microwave. The traditional method is to place the can in boiling water and simmer for 3 or more hours, but the micro is much quicker. Pour contents into a bowl. Add 30g of butter (cubed) and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar. Mix and cook on 600 watts for 5 minutes. The result is noice but the sugar didn't fully dissolve. So next time I'll melt the butter in a saucepan, add the sugar and mix over moderate heat until fully dissolved. Let cool a little and then add to the condensed milk before microwaving for 5 minutes. Yeah?

What were you doing back in '68? I was working as a clerk in the Dept of Main Roads (now roads and maritime) after stints as a DJ in a disco, a salesman in a shirt shop, and a driving instructor after quitting the public service in '66. I was one year away from my first job in radio. '68 is a helluva long time ago. But for OH Jim it was the year he proudly took delivery of a new Mustang, which he still owns and still drives every day. Ain't that sumthin? FL Josh is the only other bloke I know who keeps cars for a long, long time. I'm pretty sure he said he has a '70s Chrysler which he says is still just like new. I often wish I'd kept some of the cars I've owned but I was too focused on "now" to bother considering the future. Pity. Anyway, here's a pic of Jim's classic '68.

Yep, Jim allows his young mate Zach to drive his precious baby. How's that for trust? Anyway, getting back to '68 - that's 46 years ago! Mama Mia! I was driving a green Beetle 1300 and turned 25 that year. A mere baby.

From the Beeb: Israel has accepted a Egyptian proposal for a truce in the conflict in Gaza. Hamas, which controls Gaza, has not formally responded. But its armed wing has rejected the plan as a "surrender". I wonder how long this will last?

Survivors of one of the worst bushfires in Australia have won a payout of almost A$500m ($470m), in the country's largest class action settlement. Some 10,000 plaintiffs sued a power company for negligence over the fire.

Don't ask me why the font has changed when I paste text from the Beeb. It refuses to be formatted. Maybe it's cos I started using Google Chrome today cos IE died. Who knows? Blame the vagaries of the internet.

The wrecked Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia has been successfully raised from the under-sea platform it has been resting on for the past year, salvage workers say. The wreck - the target of one of the biggest maritime salvage operations in history - is now floating about 2m (6ft) off the platform. In all, the refloating operation is expected to take six or seven days. The ship will then be towed to its home port, Genoa, where it will be scrapped.

Copenhagen is one of the cycling capitals of the world - in the 1990s it was the first capital city to install a bicycle hire scheme. The city has now upgraded its bikes to include electric assistance and GPS travel guides and they can be booked using a smartphone. BBC Click's Lara Lewington reports.

This page is looking like alphabet soup. Oh well. Anyway, it's time to scoot. But before I do, I'd like to congratulate Josh and Jim for dragging certain things from their respective past into the present and preserving them. I'm not sure if it was due to foresight or accident, but it's a cool thing to do, I reckon. Gary

July 14, 2014. As you may know, I wear my 'faux shearling' throw blanket over my shoulders around the house all day to stay warm. There's not much of me at just 47kg so I need all the help I can get. So this morning, I decided to wear it to the dental clinic, expecting comments. But no. Everybody commented on how cold it was outside but no one critiqued my somewhat eccentric ensemble as I sat in the waiting room all rugged up - literally. That's one of the great joys of becoming a senior - you can wear whatever the bloody hell you like and not give a rat's ass about what others might think. As I pointed out to Andries, once we stop being carefree kids, we spend most of our lives worrying about the opinions of other people. How dumb is that?

I remember being a little puzzled by young Josh's request one time - he wanted me to drive him to the end-of-school-year dance which was only a few blocks away in town. He could have walked there in 5 minutes. It was only later that I realized he didn't want to be seen after school hours dressed in his school blazer walking the streets. Ahhhhh! Of course... peer pressure. What's acceptable and what's not according to the rules of 'cool'. Silly boi.

Back from shopping and taking PJ for a spin up the highway. Yep, she has a few more horses and runs really well - zoomed along in 5th no worries at all and took all the hills and dales in her stride, even with a heavy load on her back. So that's cool. What wasn't cool was seeing an ambulance and rescue truck at the scene of an accident back in town. It appears that a car rammed the rear of a stationary vehicle waiting to turn right. I don't know what caused it but it wouldn't surprise me if the driver at fault was on a mobile phone talking or texting. Damage was extensive so it seems there was no attempt to apply the brakes. And traffic was light.

While shopping, I decided to buy myself a little prezzie so I splurged $28 on one of those backrest cushions with armrests. More like elbow rests, actually, but that's fine. It'll be great in PJ when the dining area is turned into a double bed and I'm watching telly or working on the comp. The cushion is nice and plump too, and well shaped.

From the Beeb: Germany were crowned world champions for the fourth time as Mario Gotze's extra-time winner beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final. Sorry about that, Joao.

An "Islamic caliphate" has been declared in the Middle East and the group behind it, Isis, has now rebranded itself simply "the Islamic State". Panorama has spoken to a defector about life inside the feared jihadist group. Isis is not an organisation it is easy to leave. We met a man who had - and he was terrified of the consequences. "The brutality of Isis terrifies everyone," he said. "My family, my cousins, my siblings are all still there. I fear for them. If they can't reach me, they will reach my family."

Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing northern parts of Gaza after Israel warned it was targeting the area in its campaign to stop rocket attacks. Israel has carried out air strikes for seven days. The UN says 17,000 people have sought refuge in its facilities. On Sunday, Israeli forces raided a suspected rocket launch site in Gaza in their first reported ground incursion. At least 172 Palestinians have been killed since Israel's offensive began, according to health officials in Gaza.

Five-time Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe has revealed he is gay in an interview on Australian television. The 31-year-old told British journalist Sir Michael Parkinson on Channel 10: "I've thought about this for a long time. I'm not straight." Thorpe had previously denied he was gay and wrote in his 2012 autobiography 'This Is Me' that he was heterosexual.

On talk-back radio this morning, a woman told the story of her daughter who was engaged to be married to "a lovely young man" before she broke the news to her mother that she was lesbian. The engaged couple bought a house in the same street as the girl's parents, and both families helped renovate it. Both mothers were excited about the prospect of becoming grandparents, and everyone involved got along really well. Then, the bride-to-be decided she couldn't go ahead with it, and admitted she was gay. Wedding plans were cancelled. Her mother was devastated, to put it mildly. So was the the boyfriend as well as his parents. Both families were crushed. And if that weren't bad enough, the girl's sister did exactly the same thing after she had been engaged to be married. She called the whole thing off after deciding she couldn't go through with the marriage. She was lesbian too.

So why leave coming out so late? My guess is that both those girls were hoping that marriage and a family would help them through their 'problem' with sexual identity, and that everything would turn out just fine. Then, when the reality of what they were about to do finally dawned on them, they reneged, breaking a lot of hearts and shattering a lot of dreams in the process.

But the reasons for living in denial are developed early in life, brought about by various pressures from peers, parents and society to conform to the norm. Closeted gays get themselves so deeply involved in living a lie they paint themselves into a corner from which their appears to be no escape. Many commit suicide, unable to confront the truth. As the distraught mother said, "it's every mother's dream to have grandchildren." Her daughters knew that, and lacked the courage to shatter their mother's dearest wish... until they just couldn't cope with the burden of living a lie any more.

In my book, the sooner a person's sexuality, no matter what it is, is no longer an issue - as soon as it's accepted as normal by society at large - the sooner cases such as those above will cease to exist, and the sooner the unnecessary hurt and anguish associated with unrealistic expectations will cease to exist. Don't blame the people. Blame the pressure. Blame the homophobes.

In Ian Thorpe's case, a number of talk-back callers said they figured expectations by Thorpe's sponsors may have contributed to his denial. There were few if any surprises about his admission though. Yoo hoo! Hello sailor!

Anyway, it's time for me to put the cap back on the ink bottle and wipe the nib clean. School bell is about to ring for end of last period. Ding a ling! Gary

July 13, 2014. Just got a rocket up the ginger from Texas, so I finally got around to fixing the yearly journal index page for 2014. Something happened to the template when I switched to Kompozer but it's all fine and dandy now thanks to Greg's expertise. What a clever chap he is! Rude, but clever.

Nice and sunny today... if you happen to be at 20,000 feet. Also, the wind has picked up again. Sailors will be happy, of course, and all those thrill-seekers who take to the skies. Who needs thrills? What's wrong with being horizontal on a lounger and dozing off a lot? Thrills schmills.

One GN has put paid to my recent remark that country towns have lost their innocence. Some have but not all as she points out. I'm very glad to hear that cos I'm looking forward to discovering lots of little towns as I travel Oz, and getting to know some of the locals - the salt of the earth types - the characters you read about but never meet.

OH Jim wrote the other day about his young mate Zach who was driving his 1998 Mustang when the front wheel hit a pothole and made a helluva racket which led to a sudden loss of steering. He got it home and this morning looked under the car and found a leaking shock. He called me and I said I thought that there was probably a broken ball joint or tie rod. So he decided to spend his hard earned  Ham radio fund money on new shocks, ball joints and tie rod ends.  Much against my advice he drove it back to his Dad's house and changed it all by himself today. He had to go there, I guess, since his Dad had all the tools, jacks and jack stands needed.

This morning, Jim wrote: So last night Zach called me on the phone and we talked about his Mustang and how well it handles now. As we talked, I sorta sensed that he wasn't the cocky teenager that he normally is. Finally I asked him what's wrong. He said "Ya know, we were lucky". I asked how so, and he said " we should never have taken my car to Fair (Radio, in Lima). If that ball joint had broken ( at speed), the wheel would have folded and we would have been killed." Hmmm . Not what you expect to hear from the mouth of a 17 year old teen, who usually thinks he is indestructible. Maybe the kid will see 20 after all.

What puzzles me is that despite a million or so years of human evolution, we still start out as kids having to learn the hard way. God knows how I managed to survive until now. I shoulda been dead a dozen times at least.

And another thing, cars older than 5 years in my state of NSW have to pass an annual roadworthy inspection by an authorized examiner before a car can be registered. I dunno about Ohio but Oregon Richie tells me that cars there don't need a roadworthy certificate. Not all states in Oz do either.

From the Beeb:

The UN Security Council has called for a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Israeli air strikes hit the territory's security HQ and police stations early on Sunday, in what a BBC correspondent described as the heaviest bombardment since operations began on 8 July. An earlier air strike is said to have killed 17 members of the same family. The BBC's Jeremy Bowen: "It is clear the Israelis have some serious questions to answer."

Scientists have patented a new way to make ultra high-res displays that can bend and are thousandths of a mm thick. They used a miniscule layer of a phase-change material, that flips between two chemical states when hit with current. By sandwiching it between transparent electrodes, they made pixels just 300 nanometres across and produced images smaller than the width of human hair. The design, published in Nature, could be useful in wearable technology, smart contact lenses or foldable screens.

AFTER years of denials, Olympic star Ian Thorpe has revealed he is gay. Oh really? Shock, horror! Surprise, surprise! I dunno why he bothered to deny it. I picked him as gay umpteen years ago. His fits of depression came as a surprise but certainly not his sexuality. In any case, big deal. What does surprise me is that it made headlines. This is the 21st century, baby. Gay schmay.

Yes, the 21st century. There are kids born during the early naughties who are teens already! Another few years and they'll be in their 20s! Twenty years ago to me seems like nothing. I could almost reach out and touch it. There's a bunch of VHS video tapes on a shelf next to me that I used to record the Sydney 2000 Olympics opening ceremony from my old TV back in Petersham. And here I am in 2014 still thinking I must get around to throwing them out. I don't have a VHS recorder any more and the quality of the recording is not all that great anyway. Oh yes... and those shoes I bought in the mid eighties, I must remember to throw those out too. And the suit with the moth holes. Hehe. And all those bottles of after shave I've received as gifts over the years that I've never used. Some are almost 30 years old! And my mother's old vertical grill? That can go too.

I can imagine what Steve W went through when he was sorting out the stuff he would keep in storage from the stuff he would toss when he moved out of his house last Friday in preparation for his new life in the UK. "What the hell do I need this for?" he must have asked himself a thousand times before relegating it to history. I'll be doing the same before I hit the road on the Odyssey, except I'll be tossing even more. I won't be storing anything - not a bloody brass razoo - and anything that won't fit in PJ gets the flick, as well as some stuff that will. I won't be quite down to the bare essentials but pretty close. How's that for scary?

But first I need to relegate my gum 'issue' to history. Won't that be noice? Gary

July 12, 2014. Stacked up lots of ZZZZZZZs in PJ this morning luxuriating in the sun. How bone lazy is that? I was thinking about reptiles and how they like to sun themselves for ages. But once disturbed, they bolt at lightning speed. I'm more like a bear waking after several months hibernation. Yaaaaaaaawn!

I also slept in this morning cos it was soooo cold. And then when I did venture into the kitchen, I was greeted by the fresh warm smell of toasted crumpets. Lindsay had just made breakfast. Grrrrrr! I'd kill to be able to eat crumpets! But I had to settle for a cuppa.

Which reminds me. Last time I bought meat it was shredded rather than shaved - meant to be used as a pizza topping. When shredded or diced meat is chopped finely, it still has corners, which most peeps don't have a problem with cos they can chew. Soooooo, how could I simulate the chewing process? After chopping the shredded chicken meat, I used the back of a fork to pulverize it before adding it to a bowl of cooked noodles in stock with a knob of butter. Success!

You often hear people use the expression "melt in the mouth" even though it means minimal chewing. Minimal chewing is no good in my case... it needs to be NO chewing. The funny thing is I've not learned any of this from professional nutritionists and dieticians on their $100K salaries. They know all about calories and vitamins and minerals but they don't know about food preparation techniques. I don't want an exclusively liquid diet. I want FOOD. Chopped and pulverized meat might not be strictly solid but it's not strictly liquid either, and at least I get some satisfaction from "eating" things as opposed to "drinking" them. Another plus I get from not blitzing everything in a blender is that I can see the different foods I'm eating, which means meals are more visually appealing. The only food I have now that's blitzed is my smoothies. And I love those.

From the Beeb:

Israel will resist foreign pressure to halt its operations against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said. He said Israel had attacked more than 1,000 targets there since Tuesday, and was using twice the force it used during a similar operation in 2012. Palestinian officials say at least 121 people have died in the air strikes. Hamas militants have continued to fire rockets into Israel from Gaza, causing damage and injuries. Mr Netanyahu said he had held "very good, positive" telephone consultations with US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But he added that "no international pressure will prevent us from acting with all power". Yes but for how long? Forever?

US government infectious disease labs mishandled dangerous pathogens five times in the last decade, according to a health agency report. This year alone, workers mishandled samples of anthrax and the highly-infectious H5N1 avian flu. In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has closed the two labs involved. The agency has also temporarily barred high-security labs from transporting dangerous pathogens.

Thousands of pictures including "naked selfies" have been extracted from factory-wiped phones by a Czech Republic-based security firm. The firm, called Avast, used publicly available forensic security tools to extract the images from second-hand phones bought on eBay. Other data extracted included emails, text messages and Google searches. Experts have warned that the only way to completely delete data is to "destroy your phone".

The arrival of cheap drone technology - and small, light high-quality cameras - has given rise to a new genre of beautiful aerial photography and film-making. A new competition, sponsored by National Geographic, has highlighted some stunning examples of drone photographs taken in the past year. The winner of the competition was a stunning view of an eagle soaring high above a national park in Indonesia.

Reminds me of a news broadcast I heard recently on radio. A large piece of Russian space junk burned up on re-entering the earth's atmosphere and the newsreader described the scene from certain countries as being a "bird's eye view". Oh? I didn't think birds could fly that high. Anyway, the pic of the eagle in the Beeb story above is truly spectacular.

OH Jim commented on the Chevy/Holden resemblance: Yeah I see the family resemblance with the BelAir and the Holden. But the Holden looks so different in the front. I wonder if the Holden's front was from one of the designs that didn't make Chevy's final cut that year, so they gave it to Holden?

GMH in Oz traditionally introduced the "new" look a year or two after it had been introduced in the US. Not only that, the designs were modified to suit Oz conditions and public "taste". Fins, for example, were largely avoided. Also, Holdens were smaller... referred to here as large but by American standards they were compact. Anyway, by 2017 Holden will cease local production in Oz because of high manufacturing costs, so that will be the end of "Australia's Own Car", first manufactured here in 1948. Ford will also cease local production about the same time, so that'll be the end of the Falcon. Ditto Toyota with the Camry. Mitusbishi gave the local game away some years ago with the Magna, and Chrysler quit building the Valiant back in 1980.

Not sure if the name Holden will disappear though. It's been around for well over 100 years, and many imports such as the German Opel still bear the Holden badge here in Oz. The Holden Rodeo is a rebadged Isuzu. Ford does the same thing with Mazda.

Jim also writes: I seldom comment on politics, but it's funny how Obama can negotiate with terrorists around the world, yet he can't negotiate with the Republicans across town in the House. Maybe Speaker Boehner needs to carry an AK-47? BTW, he went to the same high school as I did ( years later) and lives in the same town ( West Chester) as Zach does.

Well, there ya go, familiarity breeds contempt I suppose. American presidents carry a bit more clout with strangers perhaps. Boehner knows that Obama's not gonna drop a bomb from a drone on his house. Hehe. Our parliament is a mess too, with constant bickering and nit picking.

So, what makes an Aussie an Aussie? Here's a GN's attempt at explaining what we blokes and sheilas are all about.

Meanwhile, it's time for me to vamoose and attend to my little evening ritual. I need a bit of excitement in my life hehe. Gary

July 11, 2014. Not a breath of wind so far so it looks like today will be sunny and pleasant - outdoors, that is. If I could turn this house around on its foundations, I could face the side windows into the morning sun and capture the warmth. Choosing which direction to face PJ so that sun or shade (depending on the season) is maximized is something I'll become proficient with when parking at a new camp site. Too easy. Kinda like having a house built on a turntable.

I'd love a dollar for every GN newbie who's admitted being nervous about setting off on a new life-changing adventure when most people their age are settling down to a quiet and predictable life. But it's not only GNs as Steve W explains: I shall keep you posted as best I can. Heading to San Francisco next Thursday, staying with Carol for 2 weeks than we head to England for the wedding and trying to work out where we may live. All very exciting though daunting at the same time. Similar to your adventure in PJ……just take one day at a time and stay positive. But at the moment, am crapping myself! Anyway, must go, have to pack more stuff.

Yes, it's that little negative voice in our heads that keeps telling us not to rock the boat or change the status quo. Imagine how dull life would be if we paid attention! Steve also has something to say about dentists: many last minute things to deal with - including 2 visits to the dentist in the last two days. Now, I should explain my early years were in the UK and we were sent to “school dentists” or rather butchers in the late 50’s. It has scarred me for life and have a fear of dentists and so my visit yesterday was 2 years since my last. Some changes have occurred over the two years, receding gums, a few cavities and wisdom teeth that may cause me grief in the future. I know that dental practices are much improved on those 50 or more years ago, but those memories never leave you. I only had minor stuff done but can only imagine what you go through so often. I dips me Akubra to you, mate.

You had school dentists? We didn't even have string tied to a doorknob. Nuttin. As far as my parents were concerned (and probably most working class Aussies at the time) teeth were made to rot and fall out. I remember in my early teens having to use a drinking straw because my front teeth were shot and the nerves were exposed. But I never mentioned it to anyone cos I thought it was "normal". My first visit to a dentist was in my late teens when I could afford to pay for it. I remember that needle, the biggie that goes through the roof of the mouth and up behind the nose. WHOA! I've had a couple of those since, including lately when all my remaining teeth were pulled after radiation. Not fun, I can tellya.

But that wasn't the end of the story as you know. I was left with exposed bone so I've had to attend surgery twice a week, every week, since. It was only yesterday that Andries looked at his comp screen and remarked that I've set some kind of attendance record. Hehe. Anyway, what can you do but "cop it sweet" as we say in Oz.

Meanwhile, Steve, enjoy every minute of your new adventures with Carol. It sure beats bingo nights at the senior's club. And remember, you have Carol for moral support, while I have Bubba B.

By the way, I just remembered something OH Jim said about having a friend with the same gum condition as mine, and that it eventually healed. The worst case he's heard of took three years. Mine has taken 18 months so far. Progress is slow but, by the same token, it's a lot less painful and irritating than it was in the early stages last year. Matter of fact, I discovered the other day that I can actually lick my lips! That's something I couldn't manage even just a few weeks ago.

The pic of OH Jim's first car and remark about gas prices prompted FL Josh to reminisce: As to back when service stations offered service, when I was a teen in the late fifties, I had a '22 Model T Ford and my best friend had a '28 Model A Ford.  We were out in his Model A and pulled into a filling station for gas.  We pooled our resources and asked the attendant to give us 29 cents worth of gas.  We also asked if he would check the tires.  He stepped back about five feet, studied the car for a few seconds, then said, "They're okay."  For 29 cents worth of gas, that was all the service we were going to get.  Interestingly, about 30 minutes later, the left rear tire blew, sounding like a rifle shot.  Such exciting adventures.

I was poor back in those days too, and often resorted to cashing in soft drink bottles for 3d each in order to pay for a gallon of petrol (about 4 bob - 40 cents). My goodness, I wouldn't be seen dead doing something like that today. The least amount of petrol I ever bought was in a garage just a mile or so short of my destination when I ran out of fuel after driving all the way from Queensland's Gold Coast to Sydney. My mate and I searched the old Morris for lost pennies and ha'pennies - under rubber mats, in the glove box, in the boot, under seats, everywhere, and found 11 pence, enough to buy a quarter of a gallon which got us to his place and then me to mine. Sheesh. Who'd wanna be a kid again?

From the Beeb:

The US is prepared to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, President Barack Obama has said. His comments came during a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr Netanyahu earlier said Israel's operation was progressing as planned and "more stages were expected". More than 90 Gazans have been killed since Israel's campaign began on Tuesday, Palestinian officials say. Here we go again, Aunty Sam to the rescue.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Afghanistan to try to help resolve tensions over the country's disputed presidential elections. He will meet both of the candidates claiming victory in June's run-off, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. Mr Kerry earlier warned against a power grab, amid reports that Mr Abdullah was planning a "parallel government". President Hamid Karzai is stepping down after more than 10 years in power after the US-led overthrow of the Taliban. The fact Mr Kerry made this trip at such short notice, is an indication of just how concerned the US is about the risk of Afghanistan descending into post-election turmoil, the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Washington reports.

Director Richard Linklater has long defied being boxed into prescribed Hollywood genres. His eclectic catalogue of films, including Slacker, Dazed and Confused, School of Rock and the Before trilogy lay testament to a creative mind open to playing with subject matter, format and time frames - and pushing boundaries. Yet, his latest independent film, Boyhood, would seem a groundbreaker too far, even for him.

If Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was reimagined for road trips, the elegant new Marco Polo – Mercedes-Benz’s latest take on the luxury camper van – just might sit atop the psychologists’ famous pyramid.Designed by Westfalia-Werke , renowned for its classic “pop-top” Volkswagen van-conversion packages, the Marco Polo relentlessly eliminates “roughing it” from the camping lexicon. Based on the sleek new V-Class design, which was unveiled earlier this year and effectively replaces the Viano and Vito vans, the stylish Marco Polo sleeps four people, courtesy of a two-seat rear bench that morphs into a single or double bed in seconds, and an upper berth that nests beneath an electric-powered pop-up roof.

Sounds a bit flasher than my old Kombi campervan, which was a '73 model I bought in '88. Pretty basic it was compared to PJ. But it was fun. GNs call vans with sliding side doors "whizz bangs" because of the noise the doors make when opened or closed. Apparently, lots of backpackers with whizz bangs arrive at all hours of the night and make a helluva racket setting up camp hehe. I don't think it would bother me. I'm pretty easy going most of the time.

People who bother me are the mess makers - those who leave their crap behind. "Leave no trace" is the GN motto but some people just don't give a shit. You get those though anywhere, anytime in any situation. I'm forever picking up cans, food wrappers and other crap from the front yard, tossed there by morons on their way home from the pub. Grrrrr. One time I found a used syringe and called the cops. Country towns ain't the innocent little backwaters they used to be, dear Breth.

And here we is again, time to call it a wrap for the day. But before I depart for another day, I'm sure all Wafflers will join me in wishing Steve W and Carol all the best for the future and a most rewarding life together. Hip hip, hooray!!! Gary

July 10, 2014. Well, well, well, guess who won a photo challenge on Red Bubble? I'm not normally into challenges but I was invited to enter this one, so I did. The photo was taken the day I had PJ's awning replaced at Nabiac.

OH Jim sent a pic of his first car: So here's a picture of a 1961 Chevy BelAir , just like my first car. Mine was white like this one but it had a blue interior and a six cylinder. Not the Mustang I lusted for... that would come later, but it was MINE! It was pretty basic, with a metal dashboard and a rubber floor. No carpets and no radio. The radio was easy to install. I got a used AM one free from a fellow Ham teenager . We installed it in about 30 minutes and we had a sound system that we could get WSAI, 1360kc, the local rock station. I forgot what we used for an antenna. I think we just stuck a wire along the window seal . 'SAI was strong enough to drown out the ignition noise.  I learned how to tune up an engine on that thing.

Now you know where the styling for the 1962 EJ Holden in Oz came from. As to my first car, it was a 1951 Morris Oxford and, like your Chevy Jim, it was MINE! I also learned a thing or two about fixing cars on that old Morris. By the way, anyone in Oz who owned a new Chevy was rich! As a kid familiar with American TV shows, I thought all Americans lived in large 2-storey houses with 2 cars and had money to burn (except Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton). Mind you, it's quite common these days for Aussie families to live in large 2-storey houses with 2 or more cars. But not when I was a kid. We often played cricket on the road after school for ages before a car appeared.

Jim also wrote: That was a cool picture of the SOHIO gas station. All those gas attendants with ties and "50 mission crush" caps are a hoot. And they were all adults... no teeners. I wonder if they gave away S&H Green Stamps? That station wagon looks like a '55 Chevy Nomad. And the Buick with the hood up getting it's coolant drained right onto the pavement is a '56? Try doing that today. The EPA would declare the whole parking lot an environmental disaster area. LOL. What's missing is a sign with the price of gas. Gas at BP ( what SOHIO became) this afternoon was $3.79 for regular. I bet their price was under 20 cents.

I bought a tankful yesterday @ $1.54 a liter. There are about 4.5 liters to a gallon so that's almost 7 bucks a gallon in Oz! With the weight of the camper to haul around, PJ ain't all that economical either... about 20mpg. But I do remember the old fashioned service you used to get in petrol stations. The attendant would always open the hood/bonnet to check battery, radiator and oil, and then clean the windscreen while the tank was filling. We still call them a 'servo' in Oz (short for service station) even though service is a thing of the past.

Same thing with supermarkets and department stores. They're all self-serve. There's never a staff member in sight to answer a question. Even manned checkouts are giving way to full automation.

And the cream cheese spread I bought yesterday? Yum! I could eat a whole jar at a single sitting so I need to exercise a little restraint.

From the Beeb:

The situation in Gaza "is on a knife-edge", UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, urging Israel and Palestinian militants to end hostilities. Mr Ban warned that the region "cannot afford another full-blown war". His comments come after Israel said Hamas had fired dozens of rockets at Israeli cities on Wednesday night, following Israeli air strikes in Gaza. He might as well tell whales to stop beaching themselves.

US President Barack Obama has sided with Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry on recommendations for improving security on the US-Mexico border. While visiting the state, Mr Obama said he had no "philosophical objection" to increasing the number of border patrol agents and repositioning them. But Mr Obama said such action was held up by Congress' delay in approving his request for extra funding.

Bill Clinton the Musical is about to open at the New York Music Theatre Festival. Written and directed by Australian brothers Paul and Michael Hodge, the musical offers a satirical take on Clinton's time in the White House. There are 21 songs in the show and the character of Bill is played by two different actors, aiming to show the "two sides" to the former US President. Hodge and actor Karl Kenzler told BBC News about the show.

City centres of the near future may become little less congested if machines like the Urb-e electric scooter take hold. Not intended to displace the family car, the Urb-e is billed by its maker, US-based upstart EgoLogical Mobility systems, as a “last mile” solution – a brisk alternative to hoofing it between, say, the train station and the office. And unlike most the electric bikes on the road today, the Urb-e is geek chic, with a look that is industrial, minimalist and cool. Recycled aircraft-grade aluminium – available in a rainbow of colours – has been artfully machined and styled into a contraption that neatly transitions from sidewalk transportation to living-room conversation piece.

Lots of older GNs use electric scooters or bikes to whizz around camp sites or local towns. I prefer a bicycle for the time being cos it'll help keep me fit (provided I manage to stay vertical).

We've been spoiled on the mid north coast by the beautiful days we've been having for the past few weeks but today is windy, dangit. And that wind has a chilly southern bite to it. Oh well... it is winter after all, and it'll be spring in another six weeks or so.

And now it's time to warm this joint up a bit I reckon, and catch a bit of telly before dinner - such as it is. Gary

July 9, 2014. As I mentioned yesterday, it was 2C the other night, and 3C the night afterwards. Dunno what last night was but it's bloody cold this morning! However, the forecast for today is 22C. Mid winter and 22C? Can't complain about that! And as soon as it warms up a bit, I'll be out there soaking it up.

Steve W commented on the failings sometimes of the written word: Glad you worked out that you were cc’d on that email. I really do like you mate but “Darling” never! Yes it was sent to Carol who's been focused on saving the Asian Elephants for 8 years through her photography and raising money that goes back into their wellbeing. Oh, and the reason I addressed her as “Darling” is that Carol and I are going to be wedded in England on the 30th August. I have known Carol for 25 years and somehow we have now become the two of us. Long story but I’m heading over to Carol next week in San Francisco and then on to England. Carol, like me is also English, so we will be married in a 903 AD Church, ex Benedictine Monastery. I may not be in touch so much from here on but will send pics .

Well, well, well, that's the second Waffle wedding I'm aware of... the other being between Oregon Richie and his childhood sweetheart Rebecca. They parted ways in their early 20s and both managed to lose the plot in life but met again a few years ago and have been making up for lost time ever since. So congratulations, Steve. August 30 is the day after my BIG 70th. The ex-Benedictine monastry sounds very romantic indeed and so frightfully English. Jolly best wishes to you both.

Speaking of romance and wedded bliss, NC Art wrote: Stumpy Grinder and his wife Martha were from Portland, Maine. Every year they went to the Portland Fair and every year Stumpy said, "Ya know, Mahtha, I'd like ta get a ride in that theah aihplane." And every year, Martha would say "I know, Stumpy, but that aihplane ride costs ten dollahs .. and ten dollahs is ten dollahs."

So one year Stumpy says, "By Jeebers, Mahtha, I'm 71 yeahs old, and if I don't go this time I may nevah go."

Martha replies, "Stumpy, that there aihplane ride is ten dollahs ... and ten dollahs is ten dollahs."

So the pilot overhears then and says, "Folks, I'll make you a deal. I'll take you both up for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say ONE WORD, then I won't charge you. But just ONE WORD and it's ten dollars."

They agree and up they go... the pilot does all kinds of twists and turns, rolls and dives, but not a word is heard. He does it one more time, and there is still no word... so he lands.

He turns to Stumpy as they come to a stop and says, "By golly, I did everything I could think of to get you to holler out, but you didn't."

And Stumpy replies, "Well, I was gonna say something when Mahtha fell out ... but ten dollahs is ten dollahs." 

And now to something nautical from Francois: Just a site I found this morning about the current winds on the earth in real time:,4.75,622 It shows the position and force of the typhoon which now on the south Japan. But you can turn the globe and zoom on whatever place: usefull to plan an immediate trip in the sea.

Hmmm, I think I should count my lucky stars that PJ can't float. :)

From the Beeb: An epitaph for India's 'appalling' national car. Production of the Ambassador, the first car to be made in India, has been halted because of falling demand. Modelled on the Morris Oxford, the car's design has changed little since it first went into production in 1957. But motoring journalist Hormazd Sorabjee is not too upset to see it go. Generations grew up with this car. It was a taxi for many and a family car for the rich. It transported prime ministers, MPs and bureaucrats. It was truly India's national car, dominating the roads for decades. My first car was a Morris Oxford.

How I tried to help Elliot Rodger. When a student, Elliot Rodger, went on a rampage in California in May, killing six people, one man began wondering if he could have prevented it. Hollywood screenwriter Dale Launer knew Rodger and had tried to help solve his problems with women.

A typical full-time writer earns 11,000 a year, according to research commissioned by the Authors' Licensing and Collection Society (ALCS). The number of those working as full-time writers has also dropped from 40% of all writers in 2005 to 11.5% now. Chief executive of the ALCS, Owen Atkinson, said the research by Queen Mary University of London, suggested these are "concerning times". The typical income of a professional writer in 2005 was 12,330. Obviously, JK Rowling is not typical.

Yep, most artists who follow their dream of becoming a professional painter, writer, photographer, musician, actor or whatever starve. I remember Aussie musos who went to the US seeking fame and fortune in the '70s commenting on the amazingly high level of musical talent working as street buskers or in small clubs and practically living on the poverty line. The Aussies soon learned that getting that " big break" was a helluva lot more elusive than they first thought. Despite that, quite a few made it.

The Bee Gees went to England rather than the US to try their luck. They left Oz because they weren't making any headway here... that is, until they were on the high seas heading to London when they heard that their newly released "Spicks and Specks" had made it to No.1 here. The rest is history.

I think you need to be pretty tough as well as street smart to make it to the top in any industry, showbiz or otherwise.

Just saw a post on the GN forum by a bloke who's given his rig a very creative name.

The mercury is plummeting again (even if it is digital) and it's time I flicked the a/c switch. Been a lovely day though, and saw some peeps in town wearing short sleeves when I did a little shopping. BTW, according to my cheapie scales, I've put on a couple of kilos since pigging out on peanut butter, and discovering the gastronomical delights of stock with my noodles and chopped shaved meat from the deli. Today, I bought a jar of cream cheese spread that will soon be put to the spoon test. Chocolate is another thing I eat a fair bit of cause I can suck it. And condensed milk, of course. Gary

July 8, 2014. Steve W wrote and began with 'Darling...'. Hello? Who, me? But then I realized the email was actually addressed to a lady friend of his and I was simply sent a copy. Anyway, as I suspected, it was a response to the Beeb story yesterday about the maltreatment of elephants in Myanmar (Burma), which is a subject close to Steve's heart.

I've never understood the human propensity for cruelty - cruelty to any living thing - but I suppose it's in the nature of the beast as history abundantly testifys.

I often get email from OH Jim and OH Jace so when I saw this pic of Ohio this morning I thought I'd post it so that non-Ohioans might see what it looks like:

Yep, the grand opening of a standard oil co. garage - no expense spared. Note the 4 balloons. Note also the condition of the drive-thru. I suspect there are more than a few leaky sumps in that town.

OH Jim has sent a bunch of Mickey Mouse Club pics from his DVD so I'll see what I can do about making an album. The quality of the pics is not great but they're not too bad when downsized. Their visit to Oz was 1959. I was 15 and in my first year as a clerk working in the Registrar General's Dept, Old (Land) Titles section. I suppose all the old land grants and titles have been digitized now but back when I was a kid the original parchment titles from the early settlement days, with their ornate printing and hand-written copperplate script, were assembled in large leather-bound volumes. The department had its own book binding section. No dates using digits back then. Oh no. They were hand written as "In the year of Our Lord, eighteen hundred and twenty seven" etc. Many were land grants issued to reformed and/or freed convicts. The fledgling settlement needed all the farmers it could get. In fact, early Sydney for a long time relied on Norfolk Island for its farm produce.

Amazingly, the early Europeans never bothered to investigate "bush tucker" which the Aborigines had been living on happily for tens of thousands of years, and which has now become popular in many upmarket restaurants.

And here's something interesting I saw on telly the other night about Akubra hats. Just about every Aussie farmer wears an Akubra, who also make the iconic digger's slouch hat. Akubra has been in biz for 100 years making hats from rabbit pelts. It takes 12 pelts to make 1 hat. Up until recently, obtaining rabbit pelts wasn't a problem because the damn things were in their feral millions. But apparently various attempts over the years to eradicate them have been largely successful, which means Akubra now has to import them! Moreover, there's a huge demand for farmed rabbit meat now, and the price has skyrocketed to above $25 a kilo. Many restaurants offer it as a gourmet dish, and I've seen chefs on cooking shows who say, properly cooked, it's sensational. Sheesh. When I was a kid, rabbit was a cheap substitute for chicken which was horrendously expensive, and during the Great Depression, many unemployed people hunted wild rabbits in the bush around Sydney and sold them on street corners or in pubs.

My hat? Nope. Not an Akubra. It's Australian made though, from wool, and I bought it for about $30 at Big W.

From the Beeb:

When you live in a foreign country and delight in cultural differences, there can come a time when you discover that, in some tiny way, you're beginning to adopt them yourself.  It's usually something innocuous, like developing a taste for salt liquorice or taking your tea with mint instead of milk. But mine? Well, it's not exactly a deep, dark secret - more of a low-level luxury. I have a passion for the bidet. The Joy of Bidets, by Dany Mitzman.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been criticised for saying that Australia was "unsettled" before the British arrived. He said on Thursday night that Australia owes its existence to the British, as it was previously "unsettled or scarcely settled". He was answering a question on foreign investment at a Melbourne conference. An indigenous leader said the comments were offensive and his chief indigenous adviser called them "silly".

Hmmm. Well, I wouldn't call Abbott the sharpest tool in the political shed but by the same token he doesn't have a lotta competition here in Oz.

Time to call it a day again. It's so bloody cold in this house the warm sunshine during the day is just too lovely to resist. Actually, it was just 2C the other night, but the days are up around the 20 mark, with clear skies. Nice camping weather if you can stay warm overnight. PJ has air conditioning but I'd need mains power (or a generator) to operate that.

And speaking of camping, OR Richie wrote: I still get some emails from this very unusual and incredible place where Becky and I stayed near Johannesburg in SA... it's just a fantastic place which is simply not like any other place in the world !! They have been making some changes, and added a gallery which I really liked and thought I would share it with you...

 Meanwhile, I'll bid thee farewell for this chewsday and see you again tomorrow. Gary

July 7, 2014. I was thinking about all the crap I've been through these past years pursuing the Odyssey dream and asked myself 'would I do it all again'? Definitely no... not knowing what I know now. As they say in the classics, there's gotta be an easier way. On the other hand, was it all worth it? Yes.What else would I have done? The Odyssey was something positive to focus on during all the cancer drama. How I'd have handled it otherwise is something I dread to ponder.

I must admit, though, the gum issue has become tedious as well as frustrating. No one knows when the healing will be complete. Speaking of which, I'm due at the clinic in half an hour. AGAIN.

Half an hour? That was six hours ago! Where did the time go? Shopping, napping, sitting in the sun listening to the radio... all the usual geriatric stuff. However I did have a burst of energy at the dental clinic and provided Andries and Anna with a bit of Travolta action. I happened to mention my dancing and DJ days so Andries found Stayin' Alive on the office comp and as soon as I heard that disco beat, away I went, dancing around the surgery hehe. "He's still got it," I heard Anna say, so there ya go. Twinkle Toes lives on.

Yes, I know, dear Breth... I shouldn't be allowed out.

Speaking of days gone by, OH Jim sent some screen captures of his Mickey Mouse Club DVD... the Mouseketeers arriving at Sydney Airport (which back in the '50s looked more like shed on a farm) in a Qantas Super Constellation. My, my, that's going back a bit. I was only a kid myself.

And TX Greg wrote to say thanks to FL Josh for the vid of the little boy whose stuffed toy was returned after some years: Send a special thanks to Josh for that vid. It was nice to shed a tear of joy for once.

From the Beeb:

Following Rolf Harris's conviction for indecent assaults against four girls, the art world has begun to distance itself from the disgraced entertainer. Galleries that once sold his works have removed Harris's limited-edition prints and sculptures from sale. While auction site eBay is still listing private sales, it is coming under pressure to pull items associated with him - although it continues to sell items associated with other disgraced celebrities including Jimmy Savile and rock band Lostprophets - whose former singer Ian Watkins is serving 29 years for serious child sex offences. Experts say that since Harris's name has been tainted, his art - which previously fetched hefty sums - has become worthless. But can art ever be separated from the artist? And what about people who already possess a piece of the entertainer's work - should they feel guilty about owning and displaying it?

Australia has confirmed it has returned 41 asylum seekers to the Sri Lankan authorities at sea. The transfer took place on Sunday. Rights groups had raised concerns that some 200 Sri Lankans may have been handed over, including Tamils who say they face persecution at home.

Wild elephants are being held in horrific conditions in Myanmar by smugglers looking to resume a lucrative trade, a report says. It claims the animals, mainly calves, are being brutally treated as they are "tamed" for tourist camps in Thailand. Campaigners Traffic fear a resurgence in smuggling could seriously threaten the elephant's survival in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Cruelty to animals ain't my thing. It's barbaric. Period.

I've been a bit naughty today, boils and goils. It's that time again and there's not a lotta Waffle to show for it. I must say I'm pleased with PJ though. Starts easily, runs well, nice and smooth. I like the low gearing as well. You can move off in second from a mere crawl, and drop it into third at low revs. She has plenty of torque so you don't have to race the engine to get anywhere, not even fully loaded. The old long stroke, side valve engines from the '30s and '40s were like that - lazy but torquey. So, it's hooroo for now and it'll be g'day again tomorrow. Gary

July 6, 2014. Been in PJ again enjoying the sunshine and a coffee and listening to the radio. The announcer was talking to various peeps on the phone from different parts of Oz (the program is called Australia All Over), and one was piloting a hot-air balloon. He had to pause a few times to fire up the burner, which made a lot of noise. He said there was a flock of sheep below and didn't want to disturb their early morning graze. He pilots passenger balloons for a living and reckons it's a great job. Chances are I'll get an opportunity to drift around in one of those things on the Odyssey. Scares the pants off of me just thinking about it but you only live once, roite? Besides, I might get some wicked pics.

Some of the callers were travellers one of whom runs a catering business. She and her partner work for a while in a town somewhere (this time Kalgoorlie) and then move on when the mood strikes them. They reckon it's a good life, and a lot less stressful than their previous business which was running restaurants.

Speaking of moving on, Steve W reckons he may have to shoot himself... ’cause I’m turning into a “Josh”! You said "I do believe that the earth rotates around the sun, which it's doing now as I type and causing the sky to turn pink”. Yes the Earth does rotate around the sun but it’s the Earth rotating on its axis that causes night and day and pink sunsets. Rotation around the sun causes the seasons. Oh “stop it Steve”. I can only blame it on the the fact that I am so stressed right now, packing and throwing so much accumulated stuff away prior to heading overseas. Have to be out of the house next weekend and so much still to be done. This is a lesson for both of us, keep things simple, if you don’t use it, then don’t keep it for 'just in case'. And your blog gives me an avenue to get really important things off my chest, such as the following…….

As far as checks on what foods come into Australia, yes AQIS do check they don’t contain harmful substances but don’t ever check the nutritional value (or otherwise) of the product. You are right, not all poos are equal. Human poo, because of the significant protein in our diets is not good, but horse, cow, chook and even (and especially) elephant poo are fantastic fertilisers. Another example is dog poo, never ever use that as a fertiliser, again because of the high protein due to their diet. Enough about excrement, now have to eat!

I certainly don't envy you moving, Steve. What a daunting pain in the arse that is! Many - way too many - times I've stood in the middle of a room surrounded by boxes wondering how the hell I'm gonna finish packing everything before the deadline. It never seems to end! On the Odyssey, however, I'll be moving once or twice every week but packing will take all of about 5 or 10 minutes. Ditto unpacking.

And being corrected? Doesn't bother me one little bit, mate. Did you know that the combined intelligence of an ant colony is about the same as that of one human being? Hehe. As a proportion of their total body weight, ants have the largest brain of any animal. Don't quote me on that but I seem to recall it from an episode of QI.

As to poo and recycled effluent, I'll have to be careful on the Odyssey not to confuse water fit for drinking and water that ain't. Drinking water is something almost all of us take for granted in our homes - just turn on a kitchen tap and there it is. But "out there" even rivers and streams can't be trusted cos you never know who's camped upstream and how they dispose of their unspeakables.

NC Art had this to say about native flora: Bringing trees and scrubs from half a world away is a time honored practice … often with unwanted results. In the US, folks from the well-watered eastern climes found that tree pollen caused allergies to make their lives miserable in many cases. Solution? Move to dry Arizona where the dry desert air is easy on asthma sufferers. Being human and thus contrary, lots of these folk had evergreen varieties of flora shipped out west for landscaping their home plots. Also had to buy, inherit or steal water rights to green up their surroundings.

Result: Import allergy doctors from the east to battle hay fever and asthma! Vicious and expensive circle, my man!

Yep, it took a generation or two of the first settlers in Oz to appreciate the natural beauty of this wide, brown land - Terra Incognita. And it's only in fairly recent times that gardeners have taken a shine to native flora for use in suburban plots. There are many benefits; it grows easily, is hardy and pest-resistant, requires minimal maintenance and far less watering than non-indigenous flora. Even no watering at all in many cases. Also, in fairly dense plantings (compared to native habitats), its beauty becomes increasingly apparent.

FL Josh is a bit of a worry ya know. A tad eccentric. I mean he wrote and asked me to watch a vid with Bubba. Can you believe that? I'm a grown man for Christ sake. And he's asking me to watch a video with Bubba? Sheesh. Anyway, I don't like to upset the old bugger so I thought, oh well, it's not gonna hurt anyone... so I did. And now there's a big pile of used tissues in the bin.

Speaking of dolls and kids and stuff, OH Jim wrote: So I need to ask a question about Aussie TV folklore. A few Christmas's ago, I got a DVD set of the first week of shows from The Mickey Mouse Club. October 3, 1955 to October 7, 1955.  And on one of them, some of the Mouseketeers (Bobby, Lonnie, Doreen, Sharon, Cubby, and Karen - who is paralyzed from the waist down from an auto accident) were interviewed together as adults by Leonard Maltin. They  were on the original sound stage, complete with the original curtain. They talked about the trip to Australia that was organized a few years after the show was canceled by ABC and Disney ( Disney had only enough ABC money to do either Zorro or the MMC, so he dropped the MMC. Not a smart move).   So anyway, the MMC, according to them , was the first show on Aussie TV everyday, at 5PM or so.  The tour was a smash hit, apparently, despite one slight problem, they all had grown up into teenagers! BTW, Annette has died from MS

Oh yeah, I remember the MMC show very well. Not sure if it was 5pm but it was on early of an afternoon. However, I don't remember the tour. Oz didn't get TV until 1956 which coincided with Melbourne hosting the 1956 Olympic Games; the first games ever telecast. No satellites then so I think recordings of events were flown to various destinations around the world.

Jim also suggests I buy Peter Pan peanut butter, made in the US where peanut butter was invented. Sticks to your ribs, he says. Well, I have to say I've had about 6 heaped teaspoons of the Chinese stuff so far today and it's pretty damn tasty. I think I'm becoming addicted. Make that two more spoonfuls, the second of which I'm eating now.

Sticks in the throat a bit but that's cos I don't produce sufficient saliva. I had the same prob with the shaved meat I add to noodles cooked in stock but I solved that by adding a knob of butter to make it slippery. Which reminds me, I allow toast to cool a little if I'm gonna have it with peanut butter (or Vegemite) cos warm toast, as opposed to hot, doesn't totally melt dairy butter. When you spread the peanut butter over partially melted dairy butter it becomes creamy and tastes even better. Toast at the mo, though, is a no no. Ho ho ho NOT.

Jim also wrote: This is dumb, but I really thought Rolf Harris was one of the guys who did The Muppets with Jim Henson. Then it dawned on me... Rolf was the name of the Muppet dog. As for the other Rolf,  well he did what he did. He deserves what he got. I bet the guy is really rich, and now the state has to take care of him. Too bad they can't bill him for everything.

I heard on the telly recently that in Oz it costs about a quarter of a million to build each new jail cell in a new wing of an existing prison, and about the same to accommodate just one inmate for a year. I dunno how many prisoners we have in Oz but it sure as hell is an expensive business for the tax payer! I suspect if the average citizen was aware of how much incarceration costs, they might be willing to consider an alternative system of punishment for certain offenders.

From the Beeb:

The US State Department says it is "profoundly troubled" by reports that a US teenager was beaten while in Israeli police custody in East Jerusalem. Tariq Khdair, 15, from Florida, is a cousin of Mohammed Abu Khdair, the Palestinian 16-year-old whose abduction and murder has triggered riots. Israeli officials say they are looking into the incident. Police say the youth was among a group attacking officers. However, his family deny that he was involved in the violence.

There has been anger in Australia over the sentence handed down to Rolf Harris, after he was found guilty of abusing young girls. Several newspapers were critical of five years and nine months jail term given to the 84-year-old, with one paper warning "he'll be out in three". Phil Mercer reports from Sydney.

Some have money and look the part. Others, like billionaire US investor Warren Buffett, choose not to flaunt their wealth. The so-called Oracle of Omaha’s 2006 Cadillac DTS is worth a whopping $10,000. But plenty of used cars don't require the selling of internal organs to afford, while commanding a distinct air of obnoxiousness about them. To identify these – whether as purchase propositions or as cautionary tales to would-be buyers – we took, the question and answer community.

Hmmm. Well, I doubt if the sight of PJ is gonna make anyone think I'm rich. Free, yes, rich no. Anyway, dozen madder. I have nothing to prove and no one to impress, unless you're talking words and pictures. However, if I were inclined to buy a used car to impress, I'm not sure what I'd choose. I rather fancy old Benzes from the '60s and '70s but they're not really impressive except to collectors. Nah. Come to think of it, I'm not the pretentious type. Daggy is more my style hehe. However, something like this would suit me, I think.

Meanwhile, I'll happily potter about in PJ. You see, PJ is real, whereas something like the Winnie parked outside the other day is not. At least, not for a bloke like me on a pension. So I'll stick to real.

Well, as day slowly gives way to night, I'll hang the 'closed' sign on the metaphorical doorknob and pull the blinds for another day, and another weekend. Sleep tight. Gary

July 5, 2014. Another gorgeous day... if you happen to be outside in Taree, which I was for some hours fiddling around with PJ. Even got the hose out and filled the water tank. And I was so relaxed, I rolled up the hose again without kinks. Now that's relaxed! It's amazing how efficiently you can do things if you're not in a mad rush.

TX Greg wrote to say, among other things, that he enjoyed the friendship photo album of the orangutan and dog that Josh sent. Yeah... a real heart-warmer, that one.

And OH Jim wrote: Curt, a Ham who was a neighbor down our street when I was a teenager. He retired from P&G and moved to Colorado. I got this link from him this morning. Not a word is heard, but it speaks volumes about the 4th.

I gotta ask a question about the photos you posted... for being winter, how come there's leaves on all the trees???? Don't they fall off?

Trees around here are mostly evergreens - not many deciduous. Before this area was cleared for farming, and/or ravaged by logging during the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was mostly rain forest. There are still pockets of rainforest which are protected these days, but nothing like there was. However, the climate hasn't changed so obviously it's still ideal for sub tropical vegetation. Further south, and inland, you get traditional autumn colors and winter "fall" but only because of prolific plantings of non-indigenous flora by Europeans who hanker for the old traditional ways.

Winter? Pot belly stoves. How romantic. Now a jolt of reality.. winter driving in an ice storm.  That's what my Mustang looked like after driving to work on ice... and that is ice on the pavement. Right after that we got 8 inches of snow, and after that the temps dropped to -10 F below zero, and stayed that way for 3 or 4 days. That was just 5 month's ago.

Jeez, Jim, sorry I missed that! I just love ice and snow! Oh well...

NC Art wrote about the hurricane named after him: Yup,  storm called Arthur blew through and put me in the dark for a few hours. No big damage here, just leaves and limbs trashing up the yards and driveways. My son has everything tidied up and debris burned for the most part. No wurries, but I  hate to stumble about in the dark while looking for fresh lantern batteries.

Batteries? Whatever happened to whale oil? Or good ol' kerosene? Or candles for that matter? North Carolina must have changed since I watched TV westerns. Then again N. Carolina is eastern. Hmmm.

Steve W wrote about Chinese agriculture: It is not often that I disagree with you but……buying Chinese Peanut Butter! Yes I know local brands are more expensive but at least we know under the conditions they are grown. I would not like the thought of eating peanut butter (nor anything for that matter) that may have been watered and fertilised by human sewerage or worse. Have you tried Dick Smith’s brand - it’s good and 100% Australian. I know that money is tight but I would be concerned about what I consume and you are not likely to eat a jar per day, I hope.Also, did you know, ‘cause I didn’t. peanuts are not actually nuts at all, they are in fact legumes. Who would have thunk?

Isn't that pooism? Aren't all poos treated equally? I would have thought poo is poo. But according to Wikipedia it ain't. Well, I can only hope that Woolies have done the necessary background checks to make sure nothing dangerous to human health is being imported into Oz. Surely there are government regulations to ensure this? However, I do remember the old septic tank at Terrigal back in the early '70s ringed by lush green grass while the rest of the backyard was stuggling to produce any lawn at all.

As to peagumes or legnuts - nah. Doesn't sound right. And Dick Smith? I'll check his peanut butter next time. Meanwhile, I haven't been deterred from pigging out on the home brand stuff which is very moreish, I must say.

From the Beeb:

The German authorities have summoned the US ambassador in Berlin after a man was arrested on suspicion of spying. The US diplomat "was asked to help in the swift clarification" of the case, the foreign ministry said. German officials confirmed the arrest but released no other details.

In pictures - 4th of July celebrations in the US.

Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris has been jailed for nearly six years for 12 indecent assaults against four girls - including one aged just seven or eight. Mr Justice Sweeney said Harris, 84, had taken advantage of his celebrity status and had shown "no remorse". The sentence of five years and nine months has already been referred to the Attorney General's Office under the "unduly lenient sentence scheme". One victim said the abuse had taken away her "childhood innocence".

Have I ever congratulated you for being the only one of tens of millions of sperm that made it to the egg and grew to become a human being? That's a pretty significant challenge ya know. You could so easily have been a nobody... literally. According to my doc, when I asked him the big 'who am I?' question, all those other poor little swimmers were potential individuals - human beings waiting to happen. But only one of them was yours truly. So what does it all mean? It means if there were such a thing as Fate, and I was "meant" to be the one that fertilized the egg, then how does anyone explain what all those other dudes were doing there if they had no chance in the first place? Hehe. My head hurts.

I my case, I happened to find the hole in the condom. All the other guys missed it as they struggled valiantly to oblivion. So I won by default. Does that mean I should never have been born? My parents didn't want a baby at the time because the Japanese were bombing the crap out of Darwin and Sydney Harbor and threatening to invade. And Hitler was still giving everyone a hard time in Europe and North Africa. So a little red haired bundle of joy was not on the shopping list. I've always been a bit pushy, though, and not one to take no for an answer. My older bros were born before the war, and my younger bro afterwards.

So there ya go, I'm not a believer in Fate. I admit it's tempting sometimes, but no. Ditto walking under ladders and avoiding black cats. Or Friday the 13th.

However, I do believe that the earth rotates around the sun, which it's doing now as I type and causing the sky to turn pink, which means telly time, heater time, and din dins time. Actually, speaking of telly, today in 1954 BBC TV in Britain telecast its first news program. Ah yes, remember those knobs called horizontal hold and vertical hold hehe? And the test pattern in the mornings to enable adjustment of the picture? And in those days in Oz we even had to pay for a license to watch TV and/or listen to the radio. Bloody highway robbery. Gary

July 4, 2014. July 4. Now that rings a bell. Queen's birthday? Nope. Christmas? Nope. International Pogo Stick Day? Nope. Something to do with the US of A, I think, and beating the Poms at cricket. Or something like that.

As you may know, I'm not a big fan of snow. Pretty, yes, but too bloody cold for me. However, a post by a GN yesterday said she was staying out west in NSW at Orange where it was minus something overnight and snowing, but the days were pleasant. She was very much enjoying the snowy scenery, which I must admit is lovely. But the post made me think of open fire places and winter nights watching the flames dance and crackle. Gotta love that. Then I thought about pot belly stoves and how nice it would be to have one. I've seen them fitted to the very first types of caravans, mostly used as accomodation for forest workers and miners, etc. They were more like a mobile home than something that's towed everywhere. Some GNs use a choofer for their cooking - an enclosed fireplace, usually made of cast metal - for use outdoors. The great thing about pot bellies, of course, is that they use a lot less wood than open fires, and heat a large area rather than waste most of it up the chimney.

If I ever settle down somewhere permanently, I'll get me a pot belly just for the heck of it.

The conviction of Rolf Harris in England for sex offences against young girls has stirred a lot of interest ranging from hate to forgiveness. After all, Harris attracted millions of fans over many decades, and earned many civic honors and showbiz awards. It's not easy to condemn a man after such a long and successful career, and especially now at the age of 84. With that in mind, here's what Steve W had to say:

The whole Rolf Harris thing has been giving me cause for thought. I will admit that I grew up watching him and always had a soft spot for him. When I first heard of the allegations, I immediately dismissed them - how wrong I was.

But I would like to throw out a slightly different take on this, though in no way defending what he did. The acts that he was convicted for happened back in the 60’s and 70’s. They were different times. Again not saying it was any better or worse to have engaged in those activities 50 years ago or yesterday. But as I said, society's attitude has changed immensely since then, thank goodness. I suspect that had he been convicted around the time that he perpetrated these acts, he may well have received a significant fine and been placed on a good behaviour bond. I just wonder if there is an argument that says the punishment that was appropriate at the time of the crime, should be the one imposed at what ever time of the conviction? I also question what does society gain from sending an 84 year old man to jail, even if for the possible minimum time, he is likely die there. What has been achieved, does it fix what he did to his victims, I don’t think so. It seems more like revenge to me and that is not what our justice system should be about.

Yes more recently he had been downloading porn images, videos of young children. He was not charged nor convicted with that. Had that been the charge, again I suggest he would have been given a significant fine and a good behaviour bond. The man obviously has had a significant problem for many years. Back in England, my sister attended a concert that Rolf Harris performed at her school. Now my sister was no shrinking violet at 14 or 15 but she happened to be sitting in the front row. Harris publicly embarrassed, humiliated and intimidated her in front of her whole school. Only just found this out recently. He was / is a nasty piece of work, no doubt. But sending him to jail to die just doesn’t seem to achieve anything in my mind. As far as my argument that the punishment appropriate at the time of committing the crime can of course be easily shot down by, for example, say a serial murderer convicted today, committed his crimes back in the 50’s or 60’s, well he would now be sentenced to death in those states that at that time still had the death penalty.

Of course, that could not happen today. Just think it is very sad and I feel for his victims but there are an awful lot in the Catholic Church who did much worse and were protected by the Church and got away scot free. Needs to be put into perspective and I hope the sentencing Judge does that, though I doubt it.

Lindsay buys the Daily Telegraph and I noted this morning that the rag is having a wonderful time dancing on Harris's grave. I stopped buying newspapers 30 years ago.

On the other hand, if there's one positive thing about Harris's conviction and all the publicity it's generated, it's the deterrent effect it may have on other paedophiles who think they can get away with their crimes. Thousands of people are being arrested and charged all the time with child sex offences, but they largely go unnoticed. Harris's story has made headlines around the world every day for weeks on end, and demonstrated very clearly what can happen to anyone charged with and convicted of crimes against children... even decades after the event.

Of all the links and bits and pieces FL Josh has sent over the years, this is the one that takes the cake. It knocked me for a six when I saw it last night. As with any of your Romeos and Juliets, this love story is right up there with the best of 'em. Thanks Josh.

Speaking of Josh and his advice the other day to eat peanut butter straight from the jar by the spoonful, yesterday I checked the label on home brand peanut butter to see if it was all peanuts with little or no additives. Yep, 89% roasted peanuts with the rest made up of sugar, peanut oil, salt and vegetable emulsifier. But I also noted that it was made in China. However, at less than $5 for 750g it was half the price of regular peanut butter.

On the GN forum I often see posts promoting "buy Australian - help the Aussie farmer". So, faced with the prospect of buying Chinese peanut butter, I thought... bugger it, the Aussie stuff is too expensive to eat by the spoonful several times a day. Besides, I need the nourishment and any weight I can add to my skinny frame.

Then, I began to wonder how many farmers buy Australian. How many Aussie-built Fords and Holdens are sold to farmers? Or are most driving imported cars and farm machinery? Besides, as a pensioner, if I buy Australian, what do I go without in order to afford it? Should I be be denied my peanut butter because it's not Australian grown or made?

A lot of criticism is levelled at supermarkets for stocking imported groceries, and even more so for using imported goods in their home brand products. But why? If families on low incomes can feed all the kids well by buying cheaper imports, isn't that a good thing? There's plenty of Aussie produce available at those same supermarkets if people want to buy it, or can afford it. So I reckon this 'buy Australian' thing has gone too far. Proponents haven't thought the issue through.

OK Mike wrote to explain what he meant about AO being a 'chore': Please allow me to expand on what I meant by the AO being a " chore " Seems as if a whole paragraph failed to make the cut and was omitted from my last email . The chore I was referring to was that of keeping up with the almost constant changes in software and services . My last email being proof that I am somewhat an idiot when it comes to computer use , sure I can bang around and enjoy the fruits of a many good photographers , but when it comes down to programing and template construction , and web design then I am lost . Your Waffle pages are much appreciated . Gary , your well on your way to be doing what many would love to be able to do , and getting to follow you in your Waffle may just be that motivator many need to get up and do something with their lives . I now have a 1999 Ford F150 long bed , regular cab 4 wheel drive pick up that I hope to mate with a slide in camper , much like your unit . Thou I will always have a " home base " I have the urge to see and live more the Bedouin life .

Ah yes, webmastering. Well, I must admit I'm a bit of a novice with most technical stuff which gets me into the occasional pickle but I'm okay with the basics. I tend to steer clear of upgrades and have been using Netscape Composer since I first started back in the late '90s, only just upgrading to the later Kompozer version. It's thrown me for a loop a couple of times but I think I'm getting the hang of it now. Anyway, thanks for the kind words, Mike, and may you have lots of happy adventures in your F150 camper.

Speaking of which, I saw this monster parked outside this house a little while ago, trying to give PJ a complex. It's also parked precariously close to the pole that wiped out my Fiamma awning!

Can I run? Yes, but with some difficulty. When I was photographing the Winnie, I leaned out from the vehicle to check traffic coming up the road from behind and saw a truck - a wide truck - which I thought was gonna collect the side of the motor home so I took off like a jackrabbit back to the safety of the footpath. Never moved so fast in all my life! But the truck missed, thank god.

From the Beeb:

Isis rebels have been methodically hunting down non-Sunnis and those opposed to the militants, refugees from the rebel-held towns have told the BBC. Isis demanded officials and soldiers pledge allegiance to the caliphate they recently declared or face execution. More than one million Iraqis have fled their homes over the month as Isis seized Mosul, Tikrit and other cities in the north-west.

Police in Australia are investigating after a video was uploaded to YouTube showing a woman on a train near Sydney hurling racist abuse at passengers. Racially offensive gestures, mocking of accents, referring to a woman as a "gook". The three-and-a-half minute video is packed with racist abuse. It was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday by one of the passengers who filmed it on the train. The video begins with the woman expressing her anger that some children have not given up their seats to let her sit down.

Across America the Independence Day holiday is a time for grilling, fireworks, and parades. But how much is that an excuse to party - and how much is it a genuine display of patriotism? It turns out most people in the US would say they are often proud of being Americans, according to data collected by the Pew Research Center. But this pride often falls along generational lines, and many Americans still wonder if the country's best years are in the past. The BBC's David Botti takes a look at patriotic landscape.

Hurricane Arthur, packing winds of 100mph, has made landfall in the US state of North Carolina, as thousands abandon their 4 July holiday plans. The first hurricane of the season, now a Category 2 storm, reached land between Cape Lookout and Beaufort at 23:15 local time (03:15 Friday GMT), the US National Hurricane Center said. There ya go, a hurricane named after NC Art himself!

Been a fabulous day out in the sun - 22C, which is awesome. But 5C overnight, which is pot belly weather. And I can feel it getting cold again now that the sun is getting ready to disappear below the horizon. Never mind, it'll be our turn again tomorrow. Gary

July 3, 2014. Just learned another little trick about uploading directories to the AO web site... copy them from the original source into the directory containing all the AO files and it makes life a lot easier. In this case, it was the sixth album featuring historic auto-related photos from the first half of the 20th century. The bloke on the auto newsgroup is still posting them so god knows how many there will be in total. Many are quite interesting though and it's worth pursuing - as well as perusing - the series.

Got off to a late start this morning cos the dental appointment was 10.30 instead of around the 9 mark. But I still managed an hour or so in PJ enjoying the warmth of the sun. Then shopping and a bit of business in town. Actually, I saw Andries at the mall and almost didn't recognize him without his dentist's 'uniform'. "You look like a boy!" I said. "I thought to myself 'who's this kid'?" He asked if I was makng comparisons between young and old people again (like I did at the clinic this morning) so I explained that I was just practicing being grumpy. But he did look very young. He has remarkably youthful clean-cut features for a bloke I suspect is hovering around the 30 mark.

  This morning at the clinic I was talking about music and how it triggers memories, which explains why most older people lose interest in current musical trends and favor the older more familiar stuff they grew up with. Then I mentioned that older peeps can look back several decades whereas younger peeps are pressed to remember one or maybe two. In fact, the brain (and I suspect memory along with it) doesn't mature until a person reaches early twenties. So anything prior to that probably doesn't count for much.

PJ is running well. I saw a second-hand later model (now called the Ford Ranger) for sale at $11K in the local paper, turbo diesel with all the bells and whistles. Way outta my league though. Nonetheless, I'm happy with PJ.

OK Mike wrote to say he put off reading the final chaper of Green Room for a while, dreading the ending and Cody's death. Many readers tell me the same thing, and how devastated they were afterwards, for days or even weeks. But that's the way I wrote the story - one minute everything's fine and the next he's gone. That's how it was for all of us who knew him. No warning. Bang. Cody's dead. I really felt for his little bro Wingnut who breezed into Code's room next morning expecting to bounce on the bed and wake him, much to Code's annoyance as usual. But there was no Code. How does a 14 y/o who absolutely idolized his big bro come to terms with something like that?

Mike also thanked me for my continued efforts with the AO blog, and said he knows how much of a chore it would be at times. Well, no, not a chore. For one thing it's part of my new identity. Some people are happy with a name and address and driver's license but I need something else... something associated with what I do as a creative person. Ham radio is part of OH Jim's identity. Surfing was part of Cody's. Nit picking is part of FL Josh's hehehe. Anyway, I do need to be careful not to become obsessed with Waffle or the AO site. The sky's not gonna fall in if I get a bit slack now and then, and it's important to take an interest in other things - which will no doubt be very much part of the Odyssey agenda. Goodbye routine!

From the Beeb:

Security is being tightened at airports with direct flights into the US - including some in the UK - in response to US warnings of a "credible threat". The UK transport department confirmed airport security was being stepped up. Neither UK nor US authorities specified what new measures would be involved but the UK said most passengers should not experience "significant disruption". It comes amid US media reports that al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria and Yemen are developing bombs to smuggle on planes.

President Obama has praised the efforts of the US football team in the World Cup in a phone call to two of its star players. Despite the US being eliminated from the tournament by Belgium, Mr Obama told goalkeeper Tim Howard and team captain Clint Dempsey they had made the nation proud. "To see the way you guys captured the hearts and the imaginations of the whole country is unbelievable."

Well, I've run outta time, boils and goils. Not really... but it's time for all that other stuff, and to warm the joint up a bit. I'll tellya something... getting up in the middle of the night to pee ain't fun hehe. Damn it's cold! Gary

July 2, 2014. Good afternoon! Make that mid afternoon. Yes, I plead guilty to being lazy. I'm practicing for the Odyssey hehe. I do feel a tad guilty but I'm working on that too.

Lawsy was talking a lot about Rolf Harris this morning (and was yesterday also). Harris has been found guilty of sexual misconduct with underage girls over many decades. He was born in WA, Oz but lived most of his life in the UK where he became a showbiz icon, adored by millions. His talents ranged from singer, songwriter to actor, painter and general entertainer. He fairly recently painted a portrait of the Queen as she sat for him and chatted. He's been awarded many civic honors and showbiz awards over the years both in the UK and Oz. Now, following the guilty verdict (and more charges to come), his honors and awards will be stripped and his paintings removed from galleries, and he'll probably die in jail. He's 84.

Laws was scathing in his criticism of Harris but some callers to the program were less critical, some even forgiving to an extent. I certainly don't condone the crimes of paedophiles, nor do I believe they should go unpunished, but I also don't condone the stoning of sinners. Seems to me that some people still enjoy putting the boot in when someone is down.  I should add that I've never been a fan of Harris's work, including the portrait of the Queen which I thought was terrible.

Steve W wrote: My older sister listened to Laws in the mid 60’s and that was on 2SM where he is back now in Sydney - though no longer 1270, now 1269 (he used to be called “Long John” - I assume because he is tall!) and so I also became a fan and have listened on and off since then. He and I share a birthdate, 8th August, there the similarity ends. He is probably the typical Leo, whilst I am not. Though I don’t hold much store in astrology! Also liked Ian MacRae on 2SM in the mornings and the Hon Nick Jones. Good luck to him still going at nearly 79. Which if Tony Abbott has his way, all of us will be still working till and beyond! Though a tad different sitting behind a microphone to that of a bricklayer. a tiler or any trades person.

Laws was at 2UE when I first knew him. I worked as the DJ at Long John's Disco in Kings Cross. But I do remember the 'Good Guys' at 2SM, including McRae and Phil Halderman. McRae worked in pirate radio, broadcasting from a ship off the coast of England back in the days when there was no commercial radio allowed in Britain. It was pirate radio that promoted many British singers and bands back in those days. It was also popular in European countries that could receive the signal.

One Aussie icon I really do admire is Paul Hogan. Hoges was on telly last in a doco filmed in both LA where he lives and in Oz where he began his working life as rigger on the Harbor Bridge. He was back in Oz recently for a series of one-man shows. The house was packed every night so obviously he's still "got it" even at 74. Interestingly, he refuses to rehearse his act, which I can understand. I hated rehearsing too cos it buggered the spontaneity of the performance.

His Aussie mate, who hosted the doco, ferried Hoges around LA in a rented '59 Cadillac hehe. When Hoges saw it he said, "Oh, yeah... we'll fit right in." Later, he explained the joke by saying that everyone in Hollywood drives a Beemer. But when the pair arrived in Sydney for the rest of the doco, Hoges was ferried around in something quite different... his old late seventies Holden Kingswood which his mate had somehow managed to procure. And a gorgeous old thing it was too, similar to Tough Titties except a later model.

Hoges said those "extra shrimp on the barbie" tourist ads he starred in during the '80s were at the Smithsonian Institute as an example of effective advertising. In fact, that campaign has never been matched by anything since. Also his Crocodile Dundee movie, with a budget of $9m AUD grossed over $400m, and the trilogy grossed $1.2b, the highest ever for an Australian production and also the highest for an independent production anywhere in the world. He said when you've had that kind of success, there's no way you're gonna top it so he decided to 'semi' retire.

Hoges has a razor sharp wit and is a very down to earth person. He personifies the notion of the Aussie larrikin. His mate was telling him about a speech made in Hoges honor, and the words used to describe him as a comedian and icon. Hoges, very matter of factly, said, "Yep, that's what I wrote alright... those very words... and I'm proud of 'im (the speech maker) for getting 'em right."  Hehe. It's impossible to compliment Hoges or embarrass him. He just shrugs it all off.

As he was ferried around Sydney in the Holden (which by the way he loved and drove all over Oz) - in response to a question about negative publicity about his divorces and a charge by the Australian Tax Office about unpaid taxes (which was dismissed and never went to court) - he remarked on how the Australian public reacts to the kind of success he's enjoyed. "Some people think it's great, they congratulate you and give you a pat on the back. Others get jealous and think you're a mongrel - they hate you. But the great majority couldn't give a shit, and are happy to get on with their own lives." I have a feeling that's why he lives in Hollywood where the sight of a celebrity doesn't raise an eyebrow. He's quite a shy person, really, and prefers the quiet life. He was married with three sons by the age of 22.

He also commented on the American version of Crocodile Dundee where about 10 minutes was cut from the movie - footage of Aussies in conversation that the producers deemed indecipherable. Back in the bad old days, Hollywood producers thought the Aussie accent was so bad they used to cast English Cockneys as Aussies. *cringe*

OH Jim wrote: What's funny is I knew July 1 was coming and that it was Cody's birthday. When I woke up this morning, something told me to read Waffle first thing. After remembering to change the number to 058 in the url, I opened it up, and was struck with the date. And my mood has instantly changed. What can I say that hasn't been said before. I know it's a hard day, but I know Cody can feel all the love that you and his parents and his friends have for him, even after all these years.

Maybe I'll play "Ride The Wild Surf" by Jan and Dean. The violin in that song and having the courage to go it alone sorta frames how Cody comes across to me, thanks to you. I really feel for you and his Mom and Dad. It's not easy.

No, Jim, it wasn't a hard day. The days were hard for the first few years but became easier as I learned to deal with the loss. I'm just glad that Cody hasn't been turned into some kinda larger than life hero or god in death. I remember him as a scallywag and a human being who made a lasting contribution to my life and the lives of many others. We're all human beings, mate. As I like to say about Code, he was an ordinary person who lived an extraordinary life.

TX Greg wrote to say there were some nice entries in Cody's guestbook - one from OH Jim and another from OK Mike. Thanks guys.

From the Beeb: Are white supremacists in the US given too much freedom to make hateful speeches? As a shooting spree in Kansas shines a spotlight on extremist ideology and its virulent nature, Tara McKelvey goes back to the scene of the crime, in the city where she grew up, to find out.

A man saved a driver from a burning car by bending the door with his bare hands, say police, describing his feat of "superhuman strength". Bob Renning, 52, pulled up on a freeway in Minnesota to help another vehicle that was filling with smoke. He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he was not sure how he bent the door open far enough to shatter the window glass. Police officer Zachary Hill was first to the scene and full of praise for Mr Renning's "extraordinary" heroics. "He did an extraordinary deed, bending a locked car door in half, of a burning car, to extricate a trapped person," said Hill.

Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios caused a sensational upset as he beat world number one Rafael Nadal to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. The 19-year-old wildcard's huge serve helped him to a 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 victory on his Centre Court debut, and he will play Milos Raonic next. Ranked 144, Kyrgios is the first man outside the top 100 to beat a world number one at a Grand Slam since 1992. Oz is all abuzz about the future prospects of that young bloke.

Well, lookie, lookie, lookie, it's sundown already. But I must admit, I am enjoying being lazy and making the most of the sunny winter days just hangin' out. I checked PJ's radiator today after filling it to the brim a while ago. It's down a little but has stabilized. I'll keep checking it though. Meanwhile, it's hooroo time 'til the morrow. Gary

July 1, 2014. And here we are again, The Codeman's birthday.

TX Greg sent the pic... Code's 32nd birthday if he had lived. Imagine that... a couple of little Code's running around, a flash car in the drive, his own Marine Bio business... all the things he dreamed of, cut short by a maniac driver who not only killed himself but took Cody with him.

Well, here it is mid afternoon and all I've done is enjoy the sun in PJ and then nap for an hour or so. The warm sun makes me sleepy. But it's so cold in the house and so lovely in the sun, who can blame me? People on the radio from various parts of NSW were also talking about the chilly nights and beautiful days, and according to the weatherman a little while ago, we're in for another week of pleasant sunny days before the next change arrives.

Cody would have been surfing in this kinda weather for sure, wrapped in his wettie. Meanwhile, if today is any indication of the way I'll behave on the Odyssey, I'll never get anything done! Reminds me of a lady GN who began her new gypsy lifestyle  feeling guilty about having so much free time on her hands hehe. She's over that now though, and quite happy to spend each day going for walks or just lazing in a chair admiring the view or chatting with neighbors. No rush, no stress, no timetable, and no itinerary.

FL Josh has a little extra to say about condensed milk: I remember as a kid in the 1940's seeing my mother use cans of "Evaporated Milk," which was milk with a lot of the water removed.  I looked it up and evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk started being made in the 1850's by Gail Borden (Borden's Milk).  Adding sugar to the condensed milk retarded bacteria growth.

You say you could eat a whole jar of peanut butter . . . for gosh sakes, go for it.  Peanut butter is a very healthy food and it will certainly put some fat on your frame, and maybe some muscle tissue.

Bit expensive to polish off a whole jar at once... but maybe a few nibbles throughout the day. Josh also remarked on the Waffle page heading being whole again. Took me a while to figure out what TX Greg meant by placing the text under the AO logo, and why or how that would solve the prob, but it finally dawned on me. Slow but sure, that's me.

Speaking of which, I watched Australian Story last night which was about a woman who was disagnosed with Alzheimer's at age 46 - a divorced mother of 3 girls - and told she had about 5 years before being institutionalized. She had been a scientist with the CSIRO, a government research agency. She despaired at first, worried about her daughters, and concerned about ever seeing her grandchildren. But she pulled herself together and decided to become a spokesperson for the disease. She ended up becoming a celebrity, and the author of two books on the subject. She inspired the creation of research and help organizations and traveled the world giving talks. Not only was she an expert but also a victim, and the first to ever speak publicly on behalf of all other dementia sufferers. Over 20 years later she's still going, baffling doctors by her ability to slow the disease's inevitable conclusion. Oh yes... and shortly after the original diagnosis, she decided to get herself a boyfriend by enlisting with a dating agency. She met a wonderful, intelligent man - a retired foreign diplomat. After some time together, and falling in love, she revealed her dark secret. But her new man took the news calmly and philosophically, and they married. His unwavering support over the years has been invaluable. And the three daughters love him too. So do the grandkids, all four of them.

She has little concept of past and future these days - she lives in the present - but still functions quite well. She told the interviewer that her husband would probably comment on the interview later that day, and that she would respond with "what interview?" However, she thinks positively, keeps her mind active and remains determined to wring as much out of life as possible. Moreover, her contribution to the dementia community - sufferers, carers, researchers, friends and family - has been immeasurable. How awesome is her story?

Are you a puddy tat fan? OR Richie is... he has a little furry ball tearing around the house causing mayhem. Ormond Beach Dave has puddies too. So here's a link to a vid that Josh sent of a puddy tat that loves yellow kittens with beaks... sort of.

From the Beeb:

Israel has vowed retribution against Hamas, the militant Palestinian group it accuses of the kidnap and murder of three teenagers. The bodies of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were found on Monday evening, after they had been missing for more than a fortnight. Israel PM Benyamin Netanyahu said: "Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay." Hamas denies any involvement. Israel launched more than 30 air strikes on the Gaza Strip overnight. So much for "revenge is mine", sayeth the Lord.

The Who have announced that they are planning to record some new songs ahead of a 50th anniversary UK tour. The rock group, whose hits include Substitute and My Generation, announced The Who Hits 50 tour would include songs from across their career. "This is the beginning of the long goodbye," said singer Roger Daltrey. "We can't go on touring forever... it could be open-ended, but it will have a finality to it." As does everything.

My problem with all these bands, singers and actors is that I still think of them as kids! I was listening to John Laws on the radio in PJ this morning. I've been listening to him on and off since the mid '60s, and worked with him during the '70s and '80s. He still sounds much the same as he did all those years ago. He'll turn 79 in early August... 9 years older than me. Sheesh.

Embattled US car giant General Motors is recalling another 8.4 million cars - 7.6 million in the US. They are mostly sedans manufactured between 1997 and 2014 and are being recalled for ignition switch defects. Among the recalled vehicles, GM says it is aware of seven crashes, eight injuries and three fatalities. GM said it would take a charge of $1.2bn for recall-related repairs - up from the $700m it had previously estimated.

I feel sorry for the General. One step forward, two steps back. Considering how complex automobiles are, and how many thousands of individual parts go to make up a single vehicle, it's a wonder there aren't more recalls by all manufacturers.

Put another nickle in, in the waffle-odeon, all I want is more of waffle, waffle, waffle. Huh? You'll have to save your nickle for tomorrow, ladies and genitals. I'm gonna turn on the heater, catch a bit of telly and throw some vittles down the screech. Happy birthday, Code, where ever you are, and I hope those whose lives you touched are thinking of you this day. Gary


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