the WAFFLE page

October 31, 2014. And another month bites the dust. How embarrassing. Years of talking about doing the Big Lap and I'm still here. What's more I've left a trail of devastation behind me - several unsuitable vehicles, thousands of dollars wasted, a major cancer operation and radiation therapy, 2 years without teeth, and another operation to go. A series of minor interruptions, ya might say.

So, will 2015 be The Year? It bloodywell better be. This is getting way beyond a joke!

That vinegar/water rinse seems to be working. My gum is not so sore this morning, but it's a bit like sucking a lemon. Hehe. I dunno why I'm laughing, all I wanna be is normal. Normal, normal, normal. Oh, to be normal again! Maybe this is some kinda lesson to teach me to appreciate things more. Actually, that reminds me of a post by a GN who lost everything in a fire:

I lost everything in a house fire and for the first two weeks I would think to myself... I'll put on a favourite jumper or play my guitar or read my books and then I would realise that I didn't have them anymore. As time moved on I began to be grateful that I was still alive and oh thank goodness I didn't need to pack up and move a great load of stuff. I used to play in a band and had three huge bags of photos that I couldn't throw out, they were now gone. No guilt. All those things that I kept for sentimental reasons. Gone. I felt free and light and now five years later I still think long and hard before I buy stuff. Do I really want it, I usually come up with no, not really. The more stuff I load myself down with the less space I have to relax in. The harder it is to find things in the cupboard and the more weight in Gus the bus. Give me a comfy chair to sit in under the annex, a cup of tea in my favourite mug, nature surrounding me, and aaaah!!!!! bliss. I am in heaven. Lynne

I felt free and light, she says. I think I can identify with that. Just me and PJ... and Bubba. I remember one of the other patients in the cancer ward after an operation the same as mine. His movement had been severely curtailed for a month or more by wires and tubes attached to a stand beside his bed. Then, one day, he was released from all the wires and tubes, and was free to move about without restriction. He was a big man, but danced around the ward like Tinkerbell, waving his arms and grinning from ear to ear.

I felt free and light, she says.

OH Jim posed the question: why is it that teens are in such a hurry to grow up while old farts are desperate to stay young? I would say it has something to do with the grass being greener on the other side. Problem is, nothing looks more ridiculous than a kid trying to act as an adult, or an adult trying to act as a kid. I often wonder what a child is really thinking when an adult tries to amuse it by pulling faces and making goo goo noises.

Remember when the Ts invited Mark and Wingnut to join them on their family camping holiday at a lakeside park? Mr T and Mark went fishing on a couple of mornings in a rowboat and chatted about various things. Mark said later to Cody that he really liked Mr T because he didn't treat him as a kid, but rather as an equal. It probably seemed that way to Mark at the time. However, I'm sure Mr T did make certain allowances for the difference in ages but without being patronising. Mark would have made certain allowances too.

I had to walk a fine line in my relationship with Code. He was happy for me to be funny and "pretty teeny for a fossil" but when it came to solving issues, he expected me to be mature and sensible. Mate and mentor both. However, my relationship with Steve was an even more difficult balancing act. The last thing he needed was a lecture. He could have gotten that from anyone. He needed support and understanding but also a guiding hand at the same time. Talk about eggshells.

But getting back to "acting one's age", I don't think it's a role that requires acting. Simply being yourself is how I would put it. I don't like 'try-hards', people who pretend to be someone or something they're not.

I read some more of GR in PJ this morning, the chapters about the family holiday and the surprise visit by Paul on Cody's 18th birthday. It was impossible not to raid the tissue box. Several times, in fact. I noticed a boo-boo too... Paul was Rick in GR but I referred to him as Paul in a scene with Cody having dinner at a nautical restaurant with his folks the night before his birthday party.

From the Beeb: Russia has agreed to resume gas supplies to Ukraine over the winter in a deal brokered by the European Union. The deal will also ensure gas supplies to EU countries via Ukraine are secure. "There is now no reason for people in Europe to stay cold this winter,'' said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. European Union energy chief Guenther Oettinger said he was confident that Ukraine would be able to afford to pay for the gas it needed. He added that the agreement might be the "first glimmer" of hope in easing tensions between Russian and Ukraine.

One hundred years on, the Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) legend is as strong as ever in the national consciousness but it is in one of Australia's most remote towns that the country's formal commemoration of its entry into World War One will begin. The tiny whaling town of Albany, tucked in behind a series of harbours and headlands on the southern coast of Western Australia, would have been the last sight of "home" for many of the young men sailing off to war. Beyond the protected waters of King George Sound lay Southern Ocean swells, sudden squalls and dangerous winds that roared up from the South Pole. An armada of ships few of the town's inhabitants would have witnessed before was bound for a European war. But most of the 30,000 soldiers and thousands of horses on board would end up on the blood-soaked beaches of Gallipoli.

If there's one thing West Africans don't want you messing with, it's their Jollof rice. Or at least that's how it seems from the online reaction to Jamie Oliver's recipe for the dish. Here's how to think about Jollof rice: it means to Africans what paella means to the Spanish, what fish and chips means to Brits or what burritos mean to Mexicans. The traditional dish is made with tomatoes and spices and it's widely considered part of the heart and soul of the region. So when British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver published his own "interpretation" of the dish on his website, there was always the potential for controversy.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has publicly acknowledged his sexuality, saying that he is "proud to be gay". Mr Cook made his announcement to try to help people struggling with their identity, he wrote in a Bloomberg Businessweek article. He has been open about his sexuality, but has also tried to maintain a basic level of privacy until now, he said. This week Mr Cook challenged his home state of Alabama to ensure the rights of gay and transgender people.

To Honk or not to Honk. Cultural variance makes visiting other countries both exhilarating and challenging. Some differences are intensified when adding a country's driving habits into the mix. But what exactly do these driving deviations look like for two common functions: honking the horn and flashing headlights? BBC Autos sifted through responses on, the question and answer community, for first-hand perspectives from across the globe.

Christmas 2012 was when I took delivery of my Courier ute, so that's almost 2 years ago, and I've used the horn once - just to hear what it sounds like. I live at a roundabout and I often hear people honking horns, usually after the event. Rarely are horns used as a warning, which is what they're supposed to be used for. Most drivers use it as a means of venting spleens or to attract the attention of someone they recognize. Generally, though, Aussies are not a race of horn users.

As to taking pride in one's sexuality, I don't see it as a reason for pride, nor shame for that matter. Ya is what ya is, and that's it. No biggie.

Calling TX Greg, calling TX Greg, come in TX Greg. One of the GN members provided this link to a Starlight window handle (which according to another GN is the brand of my window). It says the handle may be removed by pulling out, which is fine by me, but if the control box needs to be removed first that could be biting off more than I can chew.

Now 'chew' rings a bell. Been a while since I was able to chew anything. Catch yaz tomorrow on a new page. Oh... before I go, OH Jim reckons I missed out on The Three Stooges. No way, Jose. I remember those guys well from my Saturday matinee days at the flicks - Moe, Curly and Larry. I hadn't seen them for ages and wondered if their stuff was still being shown so I asked young Josh (a couple of years ago) if he had ever heard of them and he said they were still shown on TV, so there ya go. The Stooges live on! Gary

October 30, 2014. Another noice day with about 30C forecast. Bring on the times when I can take full advantage of such weather by strolling down to the shores of a lake or taking a walk along a beach for a few early morning photos before breakfast. Or stepping out PJ's door to take a few shots of a mountain range in the light of a breaking dawn. Yeah, dream on.

Cody was in that situation where he could wander down to his local beach with his board for a Dawn Patrol. He talked about the stillness and the silence and the peace, and how special it was to observe the most beautiful and magical time of day from the back line.

Back from an oral squirt and clean by Andries. Last Monday I asked him if I had a thrush infection and he said no. I'm susceptible to it because of the Seretide puffer, and my gum has been sore lately. But he's since had second thoughts and today he said I probably do. He suggested a mouthwash with half vinegar and half water, so that's what I did just now. Whoa! That stuff really makes its presence felt so I gather it must be doing its job. I'll do the vinegar/water trick twice a day, and see what the oncologist says on Monday when he checks me out.

OH Jim says his morning routine (mostly) is to wake, make coffee and read Waffle: So I was reading down the page, and I got to the part about Zach's new radio and I read " nothing soothes a teenager's broken heart more than a new transvestite". And with that I sprayed the mouthful of coffee all over myself and the table and the keyboard and display. LOL I really did. I thought how did I screw up and write THAT? After cleaning up the mess I made, I got back to reading, and only THEN did I scroll down past the picture and read your "apology"... SNORT ! Jeez, this is just like a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Sorry about the coffee, mate. Anyway, Zach spent all evening wiring the new transceiver into his computer, taking great care with the audio settings in the equalizer to make his young voice sound more like Kojak after a heavy night out.

Reminds me of the way the techie at a radio station where I worked set up the auto gain control of the mic. He had it so you didn't have to fade the instrumental intro of a song down to speak over the top of it. The mic sucked the voice out of your throat like a vacuum cleaner on full turbo, and made you sound like you were blessed with oversize testicles.

Anna is back at the dental clinic after having been married. She showed me a framed photo of her hubby and herself as kids (two separate photos) and I swear to you if those images had speech bubbles she'd be saying, "That's the boy I'm gonna marry," while he would be saying, "Not on your bloody life!"

Not all that much going on today at the Beeb, however I did read this story: The median house price in Sydney has now reached a jaw-dropping A$800,000 ($697,000, £440,000), many times the average wage. Hardly surprising, therefore, that Australian house prices are among the least affordable in the economic bloc of more than 30 OECD countries, leaving a generation of renters with dwindling prospects of achieving the dream of home ownership.

Even here in Taree the average is about $300,000, which is also way beyond my reach. In any case, at 70, I'm too old to even think about raising finance, which is another reason (if I needed one) to take off around Oz in PJ. And what will happen when I'm too old to travel anymore? Well, the worst case scenario is this: I'll be back where I am now - a pensioner renting a place - so what's the difference?

However, there is another possibility. Yes, dear Breth, there is another possibility. The Odyssey will take me far and wide, on the adventure of a lifetime. If that's not a story worth telling I dunno what is. BUT. It takes more than a good story to write a best seller. And that's the tricky part. There's a gotta be a plot, and at the mo I don't have one. So that's what I gotta figure out. A PLOT.

Speaking of which, Stan the Lawn Man and his wife Sue were here the other day and Sue said, "You'll be dead before you go anywhere and we'll have to bury you and the camper together!" Charming! But that's not the kinda plot I'm talking about.

So apart from the obvious things such as seeing Oz, meeting interesting people, and keeping a journal and photographic record, what will be the common thread that ties the whole story together? That gives it a beginning, a middle and an end? A conclusion. A purpose. As if it were a race, or a challenge like climbing a mountain, or the search for lost treasure.

It could be that a plot will eventuate of its own accord. Matter of fact, come to think of it, my dream of writing a book that sells enough copies to buy me a house IS a plot! How about this? On my travels, I'll be searching for the perfect town with the perfect house in which to spend my old age. And just when I think I've found it, there'll be a better one in the next town. Or the next. Yeah? Sounds like a plan.


My Search for the Perfect Town

Here's a classic Kombi like my old one, posted on the GN forum... scroll down for the second pic. She's a beauty and still going strong.

At the other end of the spectrum you get a bloke with a rig that even has a dishwasher!

And that's my cue to exit stage left... who used to say that? Was it some cartoon character that pronouced the 'l' in wolf? Here comes the wol-f! Here comes the wol-f! That voice over guy was a hoot. Gary

October 29, 2014. Before the end of the month I figured I'd assemble another album of historic auto-related pics from the first half of the 20th century and post it. That brings to an end the stuff I've downloaded from the auto newsgroup - so far. One of my fav pics in this bunch is of a hillbilly garage with a couple of chooks running around the front yard hehe.

FL Josh wrote: You say, "Actually, it occurred to me the other day that only in America would the antics of a cartoon character like Wile E. Coyote seem normal, regularly opening boxes of Acme bombs and other assorted weaponry delivered by parcel post." You really think that the things Wile E. Coyote does in the Roadrunner cartoons are normal things in America? Your impression of what life is like in America and what Americans are like is so far off base.

For crying out loud, gimme a break, Josh. I know Wile E Coyote is a caricature, but even caricatures have elements of truth about them otherwise they wouldn't work. What I'm saying is that it would take an American cartoonist and/or story teller to create a character like Wile. It wouldn't occur to an Aussie or European. Can you imagine Yosemite Sam running around Uluru throwing boomerangs? *Sigh*

You were also puzzled by Americans' penchant for fast food restaurants rather than sitting down to gourmet meals.

That's not what I said, Josh. Quote: Well, I have to wonder about the American penchant for assembly-line style, fast food... Penchant, not puzzled, and I didn't say anything about sitting down to gourmet meals. You said that, not me. I was talking about Asian street vendors who, incidentally, sell fast food too except it has a centuries old tradition.

Perhaps in Australia, most workers have two or three hours for lunch and have very high salaries so that they have the time and money to enjoy gourmet meals for lunch every day.



And yes, we Americans like a lot of room in our cars, Yank tanks as you call them. We refer to a lot of small foreign cars as sardine cans.

I'm not looking. Is the coast clear yet? TX Greg sent another link to the Jim Carrey spoof of the Lincoln car ad with Matthew McConaughey but it also excludes Oz from watching it. However, I did get to see Ellen Degeneres do her thing with the brownies and it was a hoot.

The biggest problem I had with the window winders was the handle was plastic and would always strip out on the spines of the metal gear. We always kept a huge supply of different handles at the dealer. They did have metal handles, but the problem was people would over crank and damage the gears. So the plastic handle, tho cheap, would strip first and protect the gears from damage.

Thanks, Greg. I'm just back from trying to prise off the plastic plug from the handle but can't shift it. Someone else has tried before me and obviously given up. Maybe it needs a special tool. I used a tiny screwdriver with a straight blade, and then a larger one, but nuttin. The plug seems sealed tight as a fish's rectum. Now what?

I've written to Caravans Plus who have the replacement parts and asked for suggestions as to how to remove the handle without going to all the trouble of removing the window and fly screen to get to the winder control box screws on the outside of the window.

From the Beeb: Sierra Leone has condemned Australia's decision to suspend entry visas for people from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa as "counterproductive" and "discriminatory". The move has also been criticised by Amnesty International. And UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said travel restrictions will severely curtail efforts to beat Ebola.

A wi-fi signal named "Al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork" (sic) has resulted in a long delay for passengers on a plane at Los Angeles airport. A passenger alerted American Airlines cabin crew when his smartphone identified the network as one available nearby and police were notified. After an investigation lasting several hours, police at the airport said no crime had been committed.

The spotted hyena is not a habitual scavenger, despite what you may have heard, and it is fabulously intelligent to boot. Reputation: Hyenas are ugly villains that only eat dead things, sometimes lions, sometimes even humans. Then they whoop with laughter. Despicable. They are also hermaphrodites, aren't they?

I've been wondering for a while how OH Jace is doing, and today he emailed me with his Halloween message. If any masked kids knock on my door I'll spray them with child repellant. But back to Jace. He says Ohio is experiencing its final gasp of summer weather before Jack Frost takes over on the weekend. Being late in the season, an unfortunate garter snake got the business end of Jace's lawnmower. Poor Jace wasn't expecting it to be there.

Jace has been taking an interest in the changes over recent years to Cape Town: Cody might not recognize the place. A lot of his stomping grounds have fallen off the map. Shanty towns have sprouted up everywhere. The government has postponed repatriating the land back to the blacks. Maybe, they have seen the light with what happened in Zimbabwe. ZA is still the most economically advanced country on the continent even with the ever increasing crime. Gangs from Nigeria run the drug now, perhaps they always have. Tourist are being robbed in broad daylight.

Yep, before modern European civilizations colonized places like South Africa, the indigenous peoples were living pretty much the same way for thousands of years. My guess is they had their own methods of maintaining law and order but that's all gone now - dominated for centuries by the imposition of foreign ways - and it seems there's nothing left of their original culture to return to.

Africans have adapted well to living in North America and Europe but the same can't be said for Africans at home, living in former colonies. Maybe they need another leader like Nelson Mandela.

Having raised two boys I can tell you that when it comes to food they are a bottomless pit. If it does not jump off the plate it gets sucked into the abyss. When they left for college my food bill dropped next to nothing. I only eat two meals aday and rarely snack. Of course, I have very generous neighbors who have me over for dinner once in a while.

I don't remember all that much about my eating habits as a teen except that I could make short work of a milkshake or two. Cody didn't say much about food either, other than Mark having the munchies, or when Code made his traditional toasted peanut butter sarmies after school. But I know what you mean about food bills. In this house they plummeted after I had to quit my job as carer and had only myself to look after.

Jace also asked about school holidays in Oz. December 18 - January 28. April 12 - 28. June 28 - July 14. September 20 - October 6. As you can see we don't have a long summer vac like you do in the States.

Just received a reply from Caravans Plus: They are not designed to be a user serviceable part, sorry. Roite, so that puts paid to that idea. I'll probably get it done professionally when I get around to replacing the cracked glass in the big side window - one of these days.

And thanks for the Happy Halloween card, Jace. I tried 3 times to match the ghosts and kept getting toasted! Not to mention spooked.

Meanwhile, OH Jim says nothing soothes a teenager's broken heart more than a new transvestite...

Sorry, transceiver. I get mixed up about stuff like that. ...a $2,300 Ham Radio transceiver. Specifically a Yaesu FT-2000 with a DMU unit. So what's this all about?

I got a feeling we're gonna hear about it anyway...

Well... On Sunday night, Zach and his girlfriend broke up. He called me yesterday morning and gave me the news. He also wanted to know if I thought it was ok if he traded in a really good amplifier that belonged to a silent key ( a dead ham), whose widow gave to him a few months ago. He brought it over to my place after work . We set it up on my "shortwave table" - because it has three shortwave receivers on it - and in the picture he is programming it. There are 147 separate settings that need to be set before you can transmit and receive on it. You don't see the computer keyboard in his lap, that is plugged into the DMU unit, that is sitting on top of the FT2000. The monitor is also plugged into the DMU. That little box alone costs $800. And required another board to be added inside the 2000.

I'm sure Zach's ex will be thrilled to know what she's been replaced by hehe.

How the hell did we ever survive with no computers, cells, internet, Mustangs and with just 3 black and white snowy TV channels??

Ya don't miss what ya never had, I guess. I know one thing... I find it a helluva lot easier to keep myself amused these days than I used to before technology came to the rescue. Jim also inquired as to my younger bro's health after I clobbered him with a lump of wood. It was only when my mother told me about it years later that I even knew it had happened hehe. It was obviously not a matter of great concern to me at the time. Anyway, he eventually became a copper so I'm not sure if that was the result of brain damage or what.

As to "throw another cicada on the barbie," that pic of the bloke with a bunch of ikky things in a frying pan over a flame was probably someone frying witchety grubs. I know Asians are big into eating insects but most Aussies aren't, and certainly not this one. Actually, one GN this morning was asking advice about ants invading her caravan so I suggested toothpicks and dipping them in chocolate. And tea and crumpets at 4pm? Nah... a schooner (large glass of beer) down at the rubbity (rubbity dub = pub) is more like it.

I'm a bit late for the early birds so I'm outta here! Gary

October 28, 2014. Melbourne and Sydney were battered recently by electrical storms and gale force winds. I saw a pic of a new car parked in a street completely squashed by a fallen tree as if it were an empty cardboard milk carton. Then I read a GN's report this morning about her new fold-out camper being tossed around by strong winds with pegs and guy ropes being ripped out of the ground. She said they'd been camping for 40 years so they weren't newbies. Makes me wonder why they attempted to erect their pop-up camper in a gale in the first place. You'll never catch me with my awnings out in strong winds.

TX Greg wrote: Matthew McConaughey appears in a new Lincoln car ad, which can be seen here... 

Jim Carrey was on Saturday Night Live this weekend and did a hilarious three skit spoof of the commercial...  HAHAHA.

The poster has not made this video available in your country, the sign says. Oh well... Must be some kinda copyright issue.

I saw a clip last night of The Rolling Stones performing in Oz (WA I think) to a packed house and enthusiastic crowd, with Jagger energetically strutting about the stage just like he did in his youth. Bloody amazing for a bloke in his 70s. After the performance, they screened grabs of fans saying what a fantastic show it was and how much they enjoyed it. Who could ever have imagined those guys still performing half a century later?

About perpective. As an Aussie, I see John Wayne on horseback herding a mob of cattle down the main street of a town in Wyoming or somewhere. Or Barack Obama dressed like Wyatt Earp, complete with marshall badge and six guns, making a speech from the lawns of the White House. On the other hand, OH Jim sees Oz as a land of creepy crawlies the size of dingos: So IF Australia had the harmless little lightning bug, they would probably have mutated into something with two rows of razor sharp teeth, secrete a poisonous grease and glow a scary red color. Oh, they would eat a cow in one sitting... bones and all. Maybe they would have a single eye, like that creepy magpie bird picture you posted. And of course it would have to have a wierd Aussie name with a lot of "z"s .. you know like tuzzie or gozzie or something like that. Hey... I'm an American and I am not good at making up Aussie words. There could be two varieties... the 2ft or 3 ft kind. Thats not their size, but how far you get, after they bite you, before you die. (I know, that's an old joke about Aussie snakes, but I had to throw it in).

I'm glad you did. I've not heard that one before. Jim's not too keen on cicadas either: I hate cicadas. All they do is fly around, make noise, land on your hair, and make a mess out of my cars as they smooch themselves on the bodies and windshields. Thankfully , they only show up every 6 years or so. Do Aussie cicadas have teeth? No, but Aussies themselves do. Haven't you heard the expression 'throw a cicada on the barbie'?

And while we're on the subject of bugs, who would win in a race between an American cockroach and an Australian tiger beetle?

Jim also brought to my attention an item about Julian Assange having been found guilty of hacking, of which I was unaware: Regarding Assange and hacking. This is from Wikipedia: In September 1991, he was discovered hacking into the Melbourne master terminal of Nortel, a Canadian multinational telecommunications corporation. The Australian Federal Police tapped Assange's phone line (he was using a modem), raided his home at the end of October, and eventually charged him in 1994 with thirty-one counts of hacking and related crimes. In December 1996, he pleaded guilty to twenty-five charges (the other six were dropped), and was ordered to pay reparations of A$2,100 and released on a good behaviour bond. SO HE ISN'T A VIRGIN!

As to the American obsession with firearms: Darn right about gun ownership is imbedded in our culture, and in our constitution. If it wasn't for the Kentucky long rifle and our homegrown militias, I would be drinking gallons of tea and crumpets at 4 o'clock and my Reds would be a professional cricket team.

And if you hadn't kicked the Brits out of America, they wouldn't have had to find a new dumping ground for their convicts, which turned out to be Terra Australis Incognito. Unfortunately for the Brits, the colonials ended up with a better cricket team. Eventually, self-government was attained by the Commonwealth of Australia without a shot being fired and everyone lived happily ever after.

When I was a little kid, I had a Matel Fanner 50.. a scaled down version of a Colt .45 six shooter. It was complete with a gun slinger quick draw holster and would fire caps. All my friends and I use to run around the neighborhood ambushing each other ... when we weren't playing baseball or reading comic books. It was socially acceptable that we were all "armed". It was nothing to see a little boy with a toy cap gun in a holster on his hip in the grocery. In this day, all the soccer moms would freak out, I am afraid. There's a 6 year old armed and dangerous with a pistol with an orange barrel ( all toy guns have to have an orange barrel). Better call children's services and the SWAT team.

There's a pic somewhere around here of me and my younger bro at Christmas when we were kids dressed in our cowboy suits pointing toy guns at each other. But it would take ages to find it. So things here were the same. Later, I graduated from cap pistols to making my own bow and arrow with which I tried to do serious damage to my younger bro, and when that didn't work I clobbered him over the head with a lump of wood.

From the Beeb: US health officials will actively monitor health workers who have treated Ebola patients in West Africa, under new rules. Updated guidelines issued on Monday will require most medics to be checked for symptoms for 21 days but will not require quarantine or isolation. The UN Secretary General has condemned enforced quarantine measures. The US announcement comes after a nurse who complained about her quarantine in New Jersey was allowed to return home.

Organised criminal gangs are increasingly targeting high-end cars with keyless security systems, a UK motoring industry group has warned. The thieves are able to bypass security using equipment intended only for mechanics, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said. Manufacturers are trying to stay ahead of the thieves by updating software.

A fragment of ancient Australia has been found under Vanuatu in the South Pacific, raising questions about how continents are formed, researchers say. Experts had believed that the volcanic islands, east of Australia, were isolated from continental influence. But a team from James Cook University says it has found tiny zircon crystals of the same age in rocks on Vanuatu and in northern Australia. Researcher Carl Spandler said the crystals "shouldn't be there".

Back from the kitchen and frying up some burgers in advance. Saves buggerizing around when the telly's on and/or Lindsay is hogging the kitchen. He's like a blowie, always buzzing around when I'm in there. Burger patties are good - and cheap. I made 8 with about $3 of ground veal/pork - including seasonings, that's about 50 cents each.

If anyone "out there" is familiar with window winders on campers (wind-out) take a look at the thread I posted on the GN forum. Maybe you can suggest something the others haven't.

Thanks to OH Jim for his informative contributions again. I don't always post stuff emailed to me but I do if I think it's of interest to readers generally. So now I'll toddle off and see yaz tomorrow. Gary

October 27, 2014. Monday morning and the nine-to-fivers are back to their routine. I'm back to mine too but it's a 7-day a week routine. My last "job" was caring for Sue (and Lindsay as a tag-along) so it's been a helluva long time since I was a nine-to-fiver.

FL Josh wrote: The Feds never said they were going to charge Assange with treason. They were hell bent on charging him with something, but not treason. The thing about charging him with treason originated in a Fox news interview, when the reporter asked a senator "What to you think of the Justice Department’s action so far in not to charge Julian Assange with treason?”

According to two-time Booker prize-winning Aussie author Peter Carey, that's not the case.

As to guns in the U.S. if only we would pass a law making owning guns illegal, we would rid our country of gun crimes, and if Australia would only make it illegal for kids under 18 to drink alcohol, there would be no more teen drinking. And if both countries would make illegal drugs illegal, there would be no more illegal drug use. When will they learn.


"Sustained. The prosecution will desist from making further frivolous commentary."

And you said, "Meanwhile, OH Jim wants us all to know he's not a guts." I'm guessing "a guts" is an Aussie expression meaning someone who makes a pig of himself when eating?

That's true, Josh. Being a guts (gluttony) is quite different to having guts (courage), spilling one's guts (confessing), spewing one's guts (puking) or a gut feeling (hunch).

OH Jim wrote: So, maybe Josh has used the wrong term regarding Assange, but the USA has every right to extradite and prosecute him for what he did. Last I heard it's illegal to hack into any facility, or publish classified information. Ditto for rape. Sweden wants him for that.

Assange would argue that Sweden wants him for "alleged" rape and that it's basically an excuse to hand him over to the US where he reckons he's got Buckley's of getting a free and fair trial. As to hacking, Assange didn't do any hacking. And publishing classified info? So who's gonna take the world's mass media to court?

In any case, the rights and/or wrongs of leaking classified information are now redundant. The damage has been done. In my judgement, there would have been no reason for a leak in the first place if the information had not been used to conceal injustices.

As for the right to bear arms, I am for it. If you banned weapons, you won't accomplish anything, since you won't disarm the bad guys, so what's the point? You can easily get as much weaponry as you want underground. It won't stop the violence, since there will always be guns in the hands of the bad guys. Personally, I don't own one. Like my Dad, I had my fill of them in the military. I never understood his point of view until I got out. But that doesn't mean I am against owning a weapon. And I do like shooting, but I had my fill that's all. Banning weapons won't slow down the ability for the bad guys to get them. It would just stop the honest people from protecting themselves. Besides most of the shootings and murders done in Cincinnati (somewhere north of 60 this year in Cincinnati, I think) are between drug dealers / gang members in the slum parts of Cincinnati that I wouldn't go through in broad daylight. A dead drug dealer? Well good riddance.

Shootings in large cities here are mostly for the same reason... disputes between outlaw gangs. But I did notice in the Beeb report that the weapon used by the shooter in that last school shooting was legally obtained. It was the same scenario in a previous shooting where the kid used his mother's gun to shoot her before going on a shooting rampage at his school.

However, as Aussies who have tried to explain the American attitude towards gun ownership have often said, it's embedded in their culture and you will never understand it, let alone change it. Boom boom. Actually, it occurred to me the other day that only in America would the antics of a cartoon character like Wile E Coyote seem normal, regularly opening boxes of Acme bombs and other assorted weaponry delivered by parcel post.

And now we cross live to Ohio for our Waffle weather report: So I went outside last night to get something out of my 01, and I thought something isn't right out here. Then it dawned on me... it was quiet. There were no insect noise. No crickets. No frogs. Just faint tire noise from I-71, a few miles off to the west. SIGH. A sure sign that winter is coming and summer is long gone in the rearview mirror. It was a sound you don't really notice for the last six months or so. Until it's gone.

Like the lightning bugs that are out for 3 or 4 weeks in June. At their height, there are thousands upon thousands of little green lights twinkling in the trees, in the air and in the yard. They make no noise, just light. They are totally harmless. They don't bite. As a kid, my friends and I would catch flying ones and put them in an old peanut butter or jelly jars. we would put them in our bedroom and fall a sleep looking at them. Usually my Dad would take the jars outside and let them go after we went to sleep.

One summer our next door neighbors had a family from England staying with them for a few weeks. One night I came home from a friend's house, and I found them all standing out in the backyards, just staring at the lightning bugs. Turns out they had never seen such a sight, since apparently they don't have any back in the UK. I just reached up and caught one, and showed them how the bio-luminance worked.

I'm not sure we have them in Oz either. But we do have blowies. Just a minute ago, while in the loo, I heard one buzzing loudly outside the screened window, obviously attracted by the aroma of its version of lunch. It's just a tad early for blowies but the weather lately has been hot. My favorite bug as a kid was the cicada, due soon in its tens of thousands to fill the air with its loud and monotonous droning. The sounds of an Aussie Christmas - blowies and cicadas.

From the Beeb: Pro-Western parties will dominate Ukraine's parliament after the first elections to the body since February's revolution, exit polls suggest. As votes are counted, President Petro Poroshenko's bloc looks set to win the most, with PM Arseny Yatsenyuk's People's Front party a close second. Mr Poroshenko thanked voters for supporting what he described as a call for a reformist, pro-European majority. About 3m people in two eastern regions ravaged by conflict did not vote.

As Unesco considers listing the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger" from development, on the other side of Australia one of the country's great natural secrets is finally attracting scientific scrutiny and government protection. Within the next few months the government of Western Australia is expected to release more details about its much-heralded plan for a series of marine parks stretching along the stunning and remote Kimberley coast. Conservationists will be watching to see how many sanctuary zones - which exclude activities such as mining and fishing - will be included in the parks.

Three men, one of them wearing a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) outfit, have tried to enter Parliament House in Canberra. The men are reportedly calling for a nationwide ban on the full-face Islamic veil. One of the three was wearing a motorbike helmet and the third had donned a Muslim niqab. Earlier this month, parliament said anyone visiting the building with their face covered would have to sit in a separate area of the public gallery. That ruling, subsequently overturned, sparked intense national debate about the Islamic veil and about possible discrimination against Muslim women.

So where do I stand on this issue? I dunno. There are those Aussies who call for integration and assimilation of migrants from foreign cultures to Australia, such as some GNs on a thread about this very matter the other day. My take on the matter was "I'm glad the Italian, Greek and Asian migrants from our past didn't settle for bangers and mash." Hehe. The Aussification of new arrivals is something that occurs over time, usually a few generations. As I've often heard Muslims say, "we're only people just like everybody else." It's the looney fringe you have to be careful of, but you get those in all cultures, including our own.

There's also a story on the Beeb about Pakistan thrashing Oz in the first cricket test but you don't wanna read about that rubbish.

Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody is a good song for people to listen to if they feel unwell or down, a poll suggests. A ComRes survey for BBC local radio for Faith in the World Week, which is exploring the healing power of music, offered 1,000 people 10 choices. Dancing Queen by Abba came second, with Happy by Pharrell Williams in joint third with "classical music" generally. More than two-thirds of those polled said they like listening to music when they do not feel well. And nearly nine-out-of-ten of respondents agreed that listening to music can make people feel better when they are sick or facing difficult times.

Does the gypsy lifestyle change you as a person? According to this GN, it does.

Here's another GN post of a pic taken in New Zealand of a bloke showing us how (not) to move a fridge.

Been too hot and humid to bother going to the shops today (either that or I'm too lazy) and I've run outta meat. So I figure I'll do scrambled eggs and smother them with cheese sauce for lubrication. Then I'll have some trifle for dessert, and a smoothie to wash down the meds later. One thing I like about Mondays is that my regular programs on telly are back on. I wonder if that will be the case on the Odyssey. I suspect not. I have a feeling that routine will quickly become a thing of the past. Gary

October 26, 2014. FL Josh wrote: You commented about Julian Assange, saying, "'[T]he initial reaction by US security was to extradite him to the states where they could charge him with treason.' I dunno about now but obviously the Feds were unaware at the time that Assange is Australian born and bred." The fact that Assange is Australian born and bred is irrelevant. Just because someone was born in a foreign country does not give them the right to commit crimes against the U.S.

Just so I've got this right, Josh, you're saying that US authorities can charge citizens of another country with treason?

You mentioned Australian Magpies have a piercing golden eye and attached is a picture of one.

Meanwhile,  OH Jim wants us all to know he's not a guts: Good Lord NO! Not 2 or 3 Big Macs, but 2 or 3 regular McDonalds hamburgers! It's the original burger that McDonalds started with and they are small. i can only eat one big Mac if that! A BIG Mac is a double decker, and even though they have shrunk, it is enough even for Zach.

As for street vendors, well, there are not any here. Downtown Cincinnati has several hot dog carts, complete with steamed buns, but that's it. Maybe larger cities like New York has them, but not here, where most roads don't even have sidewalks or pedestrians. Just 35 or 45 mph roads with parking lots, which are private property. Besides, when it's cold and snowy out, like last winter was, who is gonna eat at a street vendor, anyway? The closest thing we have around here is the food booths at local festivals, which seem to be one every weekend around here in the summer and fall. Like the cowgirl booth at the Dayton Hamvention in May. They do bratwursts and burgers and in the mornings hot coffee and donuts.

I'm aware of the absense of street vendors in the US and western countries, Jim. They are an Asian phenomenon because the food there is inextricably linked to Asian culture.

Greek immigrants to Oz have an interesting story. Just about every town in Oz had a Greek restaurant in the old days before McDs, etc.  A family would establish a restaurant that sold t-bones, mixed grills, fish 'n' chips and the like (nothing traditionally Greek at all), build up the biz, invite family to emmigrate from Greece, train them to run a restaurant while they lived and worked there, and then send them on their merry way to start up another Greek restaurant in another town. And so the cycle continued for decades until just about every town had its Athenian or Paragon restaurant. They were popular with locals and tourists alike because the meals were simple, generous, reliable and cheap. They were also the same style... always in the main drag with a simple shop front, and long rows of booths down a central aisle. They've all disappeared these days in favor of you-know-who so the Greeks still in the restaurant biz run establishments with genuine Greek cuisine.

At Zach's high school, they regularly have shooter drills, just as they have fire drills. Plus a special assembly to go over what to do if a shooting occurs. More importantly, they go over what to do to get help, so it never gets to a point of shooting to begin with. And there are those who want to arm specially trained teachers with concealed weapons. The dark side of being a high school student in today's age.

More specifically, today's age in the US, Jim. I know school shootings also occur in other countries but not with the same alarming regularity. According to the news on telly last night, the recent shooting in the states was the 51st this year. Various attempts by governments in the US to modify gun laws have met with persistent opposition from the NRA which, quite simply, wields too much power to have the status quo changed. So it seems that as long as America demands its citizens' right to bear arms then it will just have to keep living with the consequences.

From the Beeb: A nurse quarantined on her return to the US from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone has criticised the way she was dealt with at Newark airport. Kaci Hickox said the experience was frightening and could deter other health workers from travelling to West Africa to help tackle the Ebola virus. Illinois has become the third state after New York and New Jersey to impose stricter quarantine rules.

Neuroscientist and part time stand-up comic Prof Sophie Scott reveals 10 things you probably didn't know about laughter. Laughter really is funny. The first time I did stand-up comedy my only coherent thought afterwards was that I wanted to do it again immediately, and do it better. Why is laughter so much fun? As a psychologist, this is especially puzzling as pretty much everything we think about laughter is wrong. So here are 10 things you, probably, didn't know about laughter.

Jack Bruce, bassist from 1960s band Cream, has died aged 71, his publicist confirms. Legendary supergroup Cream, which also included Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, are now considered one of the most important bands in rock history. They sold 35 million albums in just over two years and were given the first ever platinum disc for Wheels of Fire. Bruce wrote and sang most of the songs, including "I Feel Free" and "Sunshine Of Your Love".

Wow, Cream goes all the way back to Long John's disco in the Cross in the mid/late '60s. I was talking to Andries the other day about kids and booze, and mentioned that Long John's was unlicensed. Despite that, the joint was packed with kids including American sailors on R&R (Vietnam). These days, kids drink themselves stupid even before they hit the clubs. Andries says that's the way it was during his university days (not all that long ago) - binge drinking was the social norm. And now "recreational" drugs are the norm, including ice.

So what does it all mean? That the human race is hell bent on destroying itself? Do we blame the drug barons for clever marketing and making the stuff readily available? Actually, I heard on the news the other day that bikie gangs are now focusing on regional towns like Taree to sell their drugs - less police, less surveillance.

Anyway, substance abuse, as the authorities call it these days, is way, way outta control and it doesn't appear that they know what the hell to do about it. It's a worry. Gary

October 25, 2014. Consistency is the key to the success of fast food giants such as McDonalds, KFC, Dominoes, Skyline, etc, according to OH Jim. And that's true. But it also applies to the street vendors in Asian cities who have been serving up traditional finger foods cooked exactly the same way for centuries. I watch a lot of cooking shows and saw something the other day about a Thai foodie organizing a movement to debunk what passes as "genuine" Thai in western countries, not only in restaurants but also in supermarkets that sell flavor sachets or frozen dinners. He said it's affecting the reputation of Thailand as a foodie tourist destination.

So yes, consistency is very important - knowing the quality of the food will be the same no matter what town or state you happen to be in. GNs often dine at a Maccas or Hungry Jacks or KFC for convenience, but they also like to patronise local bakeries, cafes and pubs.

Jim reckons he can devour 2 or 3 Macs at a sitting. Even when I had teeth I'd be flat out getting through just one, and often doggy-bagged it. BTW, Jim also wants to make it quite clear that he neither arm wrestles nor squirts people when he eats out. How unadventurous.

I was just reading a post by a GN on the forum. It was in answer to a wannabe who's worried about all the what ifs associated with hitting the road and living the nomad lifestyle. The GN calls himself Yeoeleven and he runs a blog. He was 74 y/o with a '79 Hi Ace pop-top and no funds when he decided to travel Oz on a pension. He said his first year as a nomad was the best year of his life, and it's been getting better ever since. He's 78 now, and in the four years he's been on the road he's managed to upgrade to a used Toyota Coaster fitted out with all the comforts, and celebrate his last two birthdays with a stack of good friends (fellow nomads) at a favorite nomad haunt, Greens Lake, to which he returns at about this time each year. He's currently out in Mid Western NSW (Orange).

Now honestly, can you imagine most people's reaction to a bloke in his mid 70s with a 30+ y/o campervan wanting to travel Oz on a pension? They'd think he was a fruit loop. He says there were a zillion what ifs when he first set out, but he didn't let them bother him.

How long does a hug last? was a question Stephen Fry asked the panel on last night's QI. So one smart ass got up from his chair, threw his arms around Fry and timed his hug with his wrist watch. Fry was okay for a short while but became visibly uncomfortable after a prolonged period. Then the rest of the panel decided to get in on the act, and one hugged Fry in an attempt to break the previous hugger's record. Anyway, it seems we all have a body clock that times hugs at a desirable 3 seconds. Any shorter and it's insincere, any longer and it's an emotional embrace. 3 seconds is the perfect length of a hug.

I'm not the huggy type. I never hug people (unless I'm coerced) and I freak when someone's arms gather me up. Eeek! It's a personal space thing with me, and probably has its origins in my upbringing where, apart from the usual family snaps of my parents holding me as a baby, affection amongst family members was never openly demonstrated.

From the Beeb: One person was shot dead and four students wounded in a school cafeteria by a student who then took his own life, police in the US state of Washington have said. The shooting occurred at Marysville Pilchuck High School near Seattle. The four students, including two cousins of the gunman, were shot in the head, with three severely wounded. Officials said the gunman, identified by local media as Jaylen Fryberg, died at the scene.

A video which gets girls as young as six to swear has been watched over 12 million times online with the space of a few days. The makers of the film - a for-profit company - say they put the girls in pink princess costumes and got them to use "a bad word for a good cause" to start a conversation about feminism. But controversially, they're also selling a product as Anne-Marie Tomchak reports.

Who is the NSA whistleblower? And why did he do what he did? A new documentary lets him speak – and film critic Owen Gleiberman is impressed by what he hears. Citizenfour, Laura Poitras' exciting and newsworthy portrait-of-a-whistleblower documentary, is something all too rare: a movie about a seismic event that seems to take place right at the centre of the earthquake. For most of the film, we're inside the anonymous, white-walled confines of a Hong Kong hotel room in June 2013, where Edward Snowden, the former CIA system administrator, discusses his decision to leak thousands of classified documents that revealed the US National Security Agency's vast surveillance apparatus.

There was an Aussie author on telly last night talking about his latest book based on whistleblower Julian Assange. He said the initial reaction by US security was to extradite him to the states where they could charge him with treason. I dunno about now but obviously the Feds were unaware at the time that Assange is Australian born and bred.

Power is one of those things that, unless you keep a lid on it and have in place certain limitations monitored by an independent body, it's bound to become a can of worms and a law unto itself. It's the nature of the beast. For me, it's not a case of supporting or condemning the actions of whistleblowers, but simply accepting the inevitable result of corruption in high places.

It's spring in Oz and the nesting magpies are in swoop mode. Four attacked Lindsay this morning on his way back from the shops, one pecking his head and drawing blood. He said it's never happened to him before, and it hasn't to me either, but it's fairly common in Oz to have nesting maggies on dive-bomb alert. They're not as big as a crow but are crow-like with a piercing golden eye and large beak. Their call is familiar and much more pleasant than a crow's. Maggies warble. They're also tamed easily and can learn to talk.

However, I was dive bombed by a couple of pee wees this morning on my way to PJ. But those little guys just make a whole bunch of harmless noise.

Now, smartie pants time. Do you reckon you can solve a problem posed for students of a Hong Kong Elementary School, Grade One? Check it out.

And here we are again, folks, after a very warm spring day that was (and is) more like mid summer. Hooroo! Gary

October 24, 2014. FL Josh wrote: When I mentioned "getting rid of all the evil religious fanatics do" you took that to mean "ridding the world of evil?" and you can't figure out why Americans sometimes have fast food instead of having a gourmet meal custom cooked just for them, and PM Whitlam visited Sydney in 1975 and had no security, but in the US, Abraham Lincoln, who was President during a raging civil war, was shot in 1865. Well, there ya go. No wookiees.

I feel for you, Josh. I know I can be such an infuriating and irritating source of frustration.

OH Jim is reading a new W.E.B. Griffin novel. He calls it fluff reading because it requires no real thought. Well, that sounds to me like reading for reading's sake. I've heard some people say they love reading, and even read the labels on jam jars. Others read for relaxation or late at night in bed before nodding off to sleep. Reading requires too much patience for me. My mind wanders (unless what I'm reading is utterly riveting). If it's a book, and the first paragraph doesn't grab me, that's it. End of book.

Cody was a keen reader - usually of novels by his fav author Clive Cussler because the setting was always nautical. Nonetheless, it's difficult to imagine Cody sitting still for longer than 5 minutes. Jim said he received a text from Zach who just aced his advanced calculus quarter exam with a 100% score. I don't think I ever scored anything remotely like 100% in any subject! I know Josh will find that difficult to believe but it's true.

Meanwhile, I would like to read more, and maybe that will become the case on the Odyssey. We'll see,

Meanwhile, Jim has just survived a bureaucratic nightmare to secure a new salvage title for his '01 Mustang. I'm sure bureaucrats create those impossible mazes in order to remain employed - at the taxpayer's expense, of course.

From the Beeb: EU leaders have reached a landmark deal to cut greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. The binding decision came after heated discussions at a summit in Brussels, as some members had argued that their varied interests should be protected. Correspondents say it could make the EU a leader again in climate policy. The bloc also agreed to boost the use of renewable energy to 27% in the total energy mix and increase energy efficiency to at least 27%. There were deep divisions within the EU on emissions cuts.

Tasmania has become a "living laboratory" that is unlocking the secret lives of cows, monitoring stress levels among oysters and warning vineyards of disease and frost to help boost farming on Australia's Apple Isle. The project is a collaboration between the University of Tasmania, the Tasmanian government, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and computer giant IBM.

Singer Alvin Stardust has died aged 72 after a short illness. He had recently been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and died at home with his wife and family around him, his manager said. Born Bernard Jewry in the East End of London in 1942, his hits included My Coo Ca Choo, Jealous Mind and I Feel Like Buddy Holly. The former glam rock star had been due to release his first studio album in 30 years on 3 November. He recently announced the record, titled Alvin, was finished and would represent "a new and exciting departure" of which he was "immensely proud".

A stretch of beaches and parks on the Sydney coastline has been transformed into an outdoor art gallery. More than 100 sculptures dot the Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach coastal walk as part of the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. Australian and foreign artists have created art pieces for the event, which is in its 18th year.

In the Western world the swastika is synonymous with fascism, but it goes back thousands of years and has been used as a symbol of good fortune in almost every culture in the world. As more evidence emerges of its long pre-Nazi history in Europe, can this ancient sign ever shake off its evil associations?

Do people know where their chicken comes from? By Tom de Castella.

I have a feeling that I would find vegetarianism irresistibly appealing if I had to kill my own meat, or if I toured an abattoir. There's one in the next town and trucks loaded with cattle often pass by this house on their way to slaughter. If the wind is blowing in a certain direction, the stench of urine is overpowering.

Matter of fact, I won't eat whole fish, or crab or lobster whole, and I wouldn't be seen within a mile of whole pig on a spit. And yet, for some strange reason, I'm quite happy to dismember a whole prawn (provided it's not still wriggling). Oh... and hold the chicken feet please.

It's quite ironic that a gorilla was chosen as the villain in King Kong. All those guys do is sit around all day munching on bamboo shoots. Anyway this daylight saving thing has tricked me again. I was surprised just now to see the clock showing post 5pm. I've been guilty of having a few naps today cos I'd been feeling a tad unwell but I'm fine now. Gary

October 23, 2014. OH Jim wanted to clarify that it was Zach who passed on the onions, and not himself. I LIKE onions. Especially Valdalia onions. very sweet. yum. It's Zach's still not developed taste for raw onion that is the issue here. I finally got him to put onion on his pizza, and he'll eat cooked onion now. But not raw. Yet.

Jim's on an onion crusade. Anyway, last night the pair dined at Skyline: So he had a 3-way and I had a 5-way and both of us ordered a cheese coney . Zach polished it off in less than 8 minutes. He was slowed down by having to use a fork. Jim reckons even Presidents dine there so I should put it on my bucket list... Obama visited the Cincinnati Skyline.

Well, I have to wonder about the American penchant for assembly-line style, fast food - burgers, spaghetti, hot dogs, sandwiches. Visit any city in SE Asia or India and the streets are crammed shoulder to shoulder with outdoor vendors selling all kinds of gourmet delights cooked while you wait. As to me, I'd have to go back at least 20 years to the last time I ate out for dinner (even the pizza shared between Averil and me was eaten at home).

Dunno about those steamed buns either. I prefer my hot dog and burger buns toasted and buttered.

Meanwhile, FL Josh wrote: You put, "Now when I take a lady out to dinner we can arm wrestle. Or shake up our drinks and squirt the people at the next table." I can't imagine you doing any of that. Did you forget some italics and this was Jim speaking?

Nope, it was the other me speaking. The loony one.

And here is a question for you. All things considered, do you think the existence of religions does more good or harm to mankind? In other words, if we could do away with all the evil religious fanatics do, but it would mean also doing away with all the hospitals, homeless shelters, orphanages, schools, help for the poor, etc. that religions run, do you think that would be a good thing.

That's a rhetorical question, Josh. To rid the world of evil would also mean ridding the world of goodness and kindness. The existence of one is dependent upon the existence of the other... as well as the existence of mankind itself.

Josh also commented on PM Whitlam's lack of security during his visit to the radio station I mentioned yesterday. I'm presuming you were not comparing the security Gough Whitlam had, Australia then having a population of 13.7 million, to what the President of the United States, with 317 million people today (216 million in 1975), gets. I really wasn't sure what your point was.

Was there supposed to be a point? In any case, the USA had a population of 31m in 1860, just five years before the assassination of Abe Lincoln.

From the Beeb: A gunman shot and killed a soldier at a war memorial in Ottawa, before police engaged in a gun battle inside the parliament building. Police confirmed a gunman was shot dead, but Canada's capital remained on alert through much of the day. PM Stephen Harper said the country "would not be intimidated" by violence. The shooting came hours after Canada raised its terror threat level. On Monday another soldier was killed in a hit-and-run attack by a Muslim convert.

US car safety regulators have expanded a recall of vehicles with potentially dangerous Takata airbags to 7.8 million. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warned that owners should take "immediate action". If deployed with force, the airbags have the potential to eject deadly shrapnel at passengers. The NHTSA has identified 10 manufacturers who used Takata as a supplier, including General Motors, Honda, and Toyota. The agency has told those who might own affected vehicles to check the list at, and specifically warned those living in more humid climates such as Florida and Hawaii to get their vehicles inspected.

The latest print edition of the Collins English dictionary contains 50,000 newly-added words, including selfie, onesie and photobomb. It also contains the word "adorkable", which was voted in by Twitter users from a shortlist of emerging words. Collins, which began life in Glasgow in 1819, has been publishing dictionaries in the city from its earliest days. The new edition, which contains 722,000 words and phrases, is the largest single volume dictionary in print.

Is no wukkers in there? Well, whaddaya know? It is! But it's spelled wukkas. Looks like I've been misspelling it all this time. Oh dear... But, regarding the matter of strine, here's an article from an Aussie newspaper that will enlighten those of you who find Aussie-speak confusing. It mentions former PM Paul Keating who had a colorful turn of phrase which he used to great effect to demolish his political opponents. Once the house burst into laughter at one of Keating's barbed witticisms, the victim had no hope of making a come-back.

I couldn't think of anything more to write so I finished off making a trifle (bugger the bread and butter pudding). Ya gotta make the jelly (o) first and it takes overnight to set. Raspberry - my fav. And that brings me to shoot through time. Gary

October 22, 2014. The death of Gough Whitlam was all over the telly last night, including a 2-hour tribute. There are lots of stories about his humor, including a comment he made about death and finally meeting his maker: "Rest assured I shall treat him as an equal."

My personal debt to his time as Prime Minister is the introduction of Medicare. I'd be history without it.

At the time of The Dismissal, Whitlam and his successor Malcolm Fraser were arch enemies. Fraser engineered the government's sacking. Yet Whitlam bore no personal grudge. He wasn't the type to carry grudges. In fact, the two later in life became very close friends with much in common. When interviewed about Fraser and his role in The Dismissal, Whitlam said of his new mate, "No one's perfect. We all make mistakes." Hehe.

I never met Whitlam but I was behind him at 2KY in '75 after he had recorded a radio program and was on his way down the grand winding staircase (the building was once a nightclub) following a young technician who lost his slip-on shoe. Whitlam stooped to pick up the shoe and then handed it back to the kid, who was most chuffed. Whitlam often joked about his status as a deity but was in reality a regular, down to earth bloke.

I remember that morning. Whitlam was accompanied by a personal assistant (perhaps also a body guard) and a chauffeur. Outside waited a big Ford LTD (illegally parked, of course). And that was it. No army of secret service guys, no guns, no helicopters buzzing overhead, no nuttin. Just the three of them. Moreover, I was there doing my regular job as usual. No one had mentioned Whitlam's arrival and there had been no security checks beforehand. Can you imagine that happening in the US?

OH Jim wrote that he hadn't heard of our Whitlam, he was too preoccupied with Tricky Dicky and Watergate in Washington DC. So was the rest of the world, Jim. Oz was a political and geographical backwater before Whitlam arrived. 23 years of conservative government had succeeded in making Australia the most boring place on the planet hehe. As a journalist said on telly, Australian political history is divided into two periods; pre-Whitlam and post-Whitlam, and that can't be said of any other Australian politician. Whitlam changed the way Australians saw themselves. He changed the way Australia saw itself as a nation, and he dragged Australia kicking and screaming onto the world stage. He introduced a flurry of reforms. In fact, the speed with which he tried to change Australia contributed to his downfall. He tried to do too much too soon. He was a visionary but had no talent as a leader of men. He was impatient. He couldn't stand fools and made many enemies. He was naive in trusting people who didn't deserve to be trusted. Many of his government ministers were embroiled in scandals. Inflation soared, unemployment soared, and his government was broke. The opposition blocked the supply bill that would provide the funds necessary to carry on normal government business. The government couldn't function without funds, which provided grounds for The Dismissal.

Nonetheless, Gough Whitlam became a legend, and left a legacy of change that is still with us today. Gough is our version of Ronald Reagan or John F Kennedy, depending on which team you barrack for.

FL Josh wrote: In the Waffle of the 20th, you opined. . . It occurred to me last night that sometimes as an atheist I wish there was an afterlife so that I could prove there isn't. Huh? Yeah... well... you get my drift. It's just that all those dumb Islamic militants and screwballs are rejoicing in the deaths of suicide bombers earning their reward in Paradise as martyrs - and no one is coming back to dispute that claim (or verify it). So how do you convince them of the error of their ways? Well, it's rather like convincing all the weeds in your garden to have respect for their neighbors and to peacefully co-exist. It's not gonna happen.

Your hypothesis is incorrect. Terrorists do what they do not because of religion, but because they want things. They use religion to justify to others what they are doing. If you took religion away from them, and made them all into atheists, nothing would change and they would continue to do what they do, but preach some other justification for what they are doing.

How interesting, Josh. If you took away Paradise and all the virgins, and turned all the militants into atheists, they'd continue to blow themselves and others to smitherines because uh... well... I can't think of an appropriate reward for atheistic suicide bombers at the mo, but I'm sure there must be one if you say so.

However, I do agree that terrorists use religion to justify their cause. And not only terrorists. All religions use a carrot at the end of a stick to attract believers. Take away the rewards (as well as punishments for being a non-believer) and religion would cease to have anything to offer in death. That would lead to a loss of membership, a loss of income, a loss of power and a loss of influence. Atheism would be the only alternative but, luckily, it costs nothing to be a member, has no hierarchy, no rules and wields no power. And it doesn't seek to punish those who disagree.

I also agree that terrorists would exist no matter what. You can't have peace without war just as you can't have light without darkness. One depends on the other for its existence.

That said, I don't accept your claim that my hypothesis is incorrect, Josh. I'll stick to my peashooters.

OH Jim, on the other hand, has this suggestion for my bucket list. I had lunch with Zach yesterday, at our favorite Burger Death, and I watched him devour a Whopper with cheese, no onion, in less than 5 minutes. I had a Whopper Jr, and I wasn't even half through it. Then he ate all his fries, and then mine. The kid was hungry.

I'm gonna have to practice opening and closing my mouth. What was that? No onion? Perish the thought! Doesn't it say in the Koran somewhere that you must have onion? Or maybe that's the Bible. I must say I've never heard anyone say 'hold the onion'.

From time to time Jim mentions Zach's shenanigans with his girlfriend (as well as his own during his youth). Cody was no slouch in that department either. But I must say I'm grateful for my own lack of testosterone activity these days. It sure makes life far less complicated hehe. I can go back to the way it was before puberty and focus on stuff totally unrelated to the propagation of the species. Now when I take a lady out to dinner we can arm wrestle. Or shake up our drinks and squirt the people at the next table.

Seriously, though, sex does rule our lives to an inordinate degree. We've all been there so there's no need to elaborate. Suffice to say that the mind plays tricks and blocks out all memories of the joys of childhood when life was a breeze. Girls had girl germs and boys were stupid, so one associated exclusively with one's own gender. Then catastrophe struck. Hormones stirred from hibernation and wrought radical change, not only to our bodies but also our minds. We might as well have been taken over by aliens from space and turned into mindless robots.

Well, I for one am relieved to have emerged relatively unscathed from those decades of being at the mercy of hormones, to continue life as it was before Nature decided it was time to end my blissful pre-pubescence.

Back from seeing the nurse at the doc's joint. She removed all the stitches as I waffled on with my usual babble and it was all over before I knew it. Now I don't look so Frankensteinish. The doc said one of the cancers on my neck was a melanoma. He needs to keep an eye on one on my leg. He "thinks" he got all the cancer but is not 100%. So now I can take a month off before I get the next lot done. Not sure how many there are... maybe a couple. The doc put the whole lot through medicare so all I had to do was sign a form. It would have cost me a fortune otherwise. Normally, I pay the total bill and then get an instant partial refund from medicare, but the full amount needs to be in the account to begin with.

Then I popped into the supermarket and some kid said, "g'day Gary". It was young Keiran and I hadn't recognized him. He says it's because of the glasses. He used to wear contact lenses. Anyway, as soon as he smiled I recognized that impish, trademark grin of his. It's a tossup as to which one of us has the skinniest legs - his are traditional Aboriginal, like a stork wading in a shallow pond.

From the Beeb: Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the virus, says the World Health Organization. Speaking in Geneva, Dr Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and a vaccine ready for January 2015. The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people.

The US defence department has said it is examining an Islamic State video appearing to show militants in control of US weapons intended for Syrian Kurdish fighters. Some 27 bundles containing small arms, ammunition and other weaponry were dropped on Monday for militias defending the town of Kobane from IS. A Pentagon spokesman said the vast majority ended up in the right hands. Kurdish forces control most of the town but IS remains a threat, he said.

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has begun serving time in jail for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He was driven to Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru prison where he is expected to be housed in the hospital wing. Judge Thokozile Masipa gave Pistorius a five-year jail sentence for culpable homicide, but cleared him of murder. His defence said it expected him to serve about 10 months, with the remainder under house arrest. His family say he will not appeal.

Tributes have been paid to Australia's former prime minister Gough Whitlam who died on Tuesday at the age of 98. Tony Abbott, the country's current PM, said he was a "giant of his time" while opposition leader Bill Shorten said he "changed the lives of a generation". Mr Whitlam ended 23 years of conservative rule in 1972 and introduced a host of reforms including establishing universal health care.

An Australian teenager who joined IS militants in Iraq and Syria has emerged in a video addressing PM Tony Abbott and US president Barack Obama. The 17-year-old, named as Abdullah Elmir but who calls himself Abu Khaled, said "we will not put down our weapons until we reach your lands". He ran away in June with another Australian teenager and it is believed he travelled to Syria via Turkey. A government spokesman said it showed the threat posed by Islamic State. "That is why Australia has joined the coalition to disrupt and degrade ISIL in Iraq," the spokesman said. Idiot kid.

The hours have flown, dear Breth, and it's time to call it a day. Gary

October 21, 2014. I was trying to think of which Holden was based on the '63 Chevy that Mike sent a pic of yesterday, and it was this one, the HD released in 1965. Some people commented that the sharp forward edges of the front fenders were dangeous so GM-H modified those the following year in the HR. They also upgraded the engine from a 179 to a 186 (c.i.). I arranged for a sponsor of mine to trade my father's Ford Cortina for an auto HR (same color as the one in the pic) after he had his left leg amputated below the knee.

Speaking of yesteryear, a bloke I worked with in radio back in the '80s popped outta the cyber woodwork last night in an email. He's been reading AO and also noted my posts on the GN forum. His sudden appearance caused me to reflect on how difficult it was and how long it took me to redefine my identity after my world crashed in the early to mid '90s. Trying to cling to the 'old me' proved fruitless and for a while there I wandered aimlessly around in identity limbo. Unemployed and broke. I discovered that you're only as good as your last show, and that I desperately needed a new show. Not only a new show, but a show that didn't depend on old colleagues or the industry with which I was formerly associated, and which had abandoned me. It took a few years, some chance opportunities, and a lotta luck, but here I am, dear Breth... the sparkling and vivacious new me!

At the dental clinic yesterday, Andries surprised me by saying that he hears "I hate you" several times every day from patients who are terrified of dentists. Blaming the messenger, I suppose. Averil had a fear of dentists and hadn't been to one for many years. That irrational fear only exacerbates the problem of course. Like any phobia, it's not the thing you fear that's to blame, but the fear itself. Nonetheless, Andries has to handle all that crap as he goes about his daily duties.

Can you imagine what a dentist has to endure every time he's asked by a stranger at a social gathering what he does for a living?

Anyway, now I don't bother to tell people what I 'do'. I just tell them I'm retired hehe. It saves a lotta rigmarole. On the Odyssey it will be different. I'll be a traveller, a journalist and a photographer. So take ya bloody pick. And no one can fire me!

Malala was only 16 when she said that, having survived being shot by the Taliban. She said in the interview I watched the other night that she's much stronger now. Life certainly does have a habit of testing us, whether it's what Malala went through, or what I've been through, or being the child of dysfunctional parents. There are so many circumstances over which we have no control other than to use whatever personal resources we have at our disposal to rise above that which would seek to destroy us. Character building, they call it. Like the soles of a shoeless bushman. He doesn't even think twice about travelling a path that would bloody the soles of tender feet.

What is the saying? That which does not destroy us, makes us stronger.

From the Beeb: Vital supplies and resources to tackle Ebola are beginning to arrive in the three worst-hit West African countries, Ghana's President John Mahama has said. Mr Mahama, who heads the regional bloc Ecowas, also told the BBC that treatment centres were being set up in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. But he called for proper co-ordination between agencies to avoid duplication. The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people, almost all of them in those three countries. An estimated 70% of those infected have died.

The writer and puzzle master Martin Gardner, who died in 2010, was once said to have turned dozens of innocent youngsters into maths professors - and thousands of maths professors into innocent youngsters. Maths writer Colm Mulcahy looks back at the amazing career of a man who would have been 100 this week. Yep, making learning fun solves more than half the problem.

Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam has died at the age of 98. He was credited with transforming Australian society in the 1970s after 23 years of conservative government, introducing many far-reaching reforms. But his government was plagued by resignations and the governor-general dismissed it in November 1975 after just three years. In a statement, his family said he was an "inspiration to us and our families and for millions of Australians". Prime Minister Tony Abbott described Mr Whitlam as a "giant of his time" and said flags across Australia would fly at half-mast on Tuesday.

'Giant of his time' is putting it mildly. The man was already a legend in his own lifetime. His government was sacked by the then Governor General Sir John Kerr (Australia's representative of the Queen), and there are those who blamed (and still do) the Americans for his downfall. He was the first Australian leader to visit China (before Nixon) and set up diplomatic relations between the two nations, which fueled speculation by the CIA and FBI that Whitlam had socialist and even Communist leanings. "Well may they say God Save the Queen," he said on the steps of old Parliament House after news of the sacking, "because nothing will save the Governor General." Kerr was a pathetic alcoholic. He retired and spent the rest of his days living in Britain.

Naturally, in his late '90s, ol' Gough's death was expected but it still comes as a shock. He was a remarkable Aussie. And so was his missus for that matter, Margaret, in her own right.

The aircraft that changed the way we fly: The Boeing 707 revolutionised air travel and kicked the jet age into top gear. Commercial flight today owes it everything, Jonathan Glancey writes. Whenever Frank Sinatra sang “Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away,” the image of a Boeing 707, all etched-white vapour trails jetting across some deep blue transcontinental stratosphere, could never be far from mind. This song was from Sinatra’s album of the same name. It was released in January 1958, a month after the epochal, swept-wing jet airliner made its maiden flight. Before the year was out, the sleek 707 was in service with Pan-Am. It was to change the way we fly and see the world.

Cold and cloudy today. Bleh. But tomorrow will be warmer and sunnier, then warmer again as the week progresses and by Saturday it'll be a top of 30. Bloody good thing too cos I was about to phone the bureau of meteorology and complain.

My sis in law phoned today to let me know that my oldest bro's knee replacements went well. No pain, no complications and the exercise routines are going smoothly. Quite a few GNs on the forum have told tales of woe about their knee surgery. One patient in my bro's hospital has had 3 operations already! But John's looking forward to getting back to his lawn bowls. Not bad for 84. His wife is not all that far behind and she's doing well too.

Both of them were shocked to learn I weigh only 48kg. They had no idea. Anyway, it's time to catch a bit of telly and then feed the face later. Bring on February and the operation on my jaw! I'm running outta patience. Gary

October 20, 2014. OK Mike sent a pic: On to something more along the lines of the AO I have included a picture found in my daily bouncing around the internet that I thought was neat.

And neat it is, similar to PJ except it doesn't sit on top of the tray like PJ does. GNs are forever posting pics of their new rigs worth truckloads of cash but I'm quite content with my old girl. Now all I gotta do is put it to good use!

Lately, we've been discussing accents and vernacular, but what about sign language? Mike's sister provides an insight: I shared with my sister a few of your entries, she and I had a good giggle over the plurality in words. She's is an interpreter in American Sign Language and says that there are often huge differences in "signs" from one area to the next, as well as generational. This often leads to bouts of humorous confusion.

Well, there ya go, I never would have guessed.

Meanwhile, winter approaches the US, and here's what OH Jim has to say about it: We had our first frost warning Saturday night. Temps in the low 30's. My Mom would always cover over her plants which were not cold tolerant with old sheets, or newspaper, if it wasn't windy (and if it was, there would be less likely there would be frost). She also said once, in passing, that a lot of old, feeble wildlife, that would be barely hanging on, wouldn't survive the freeze that night. Whether that is true or not, I don't know, but it was a downer for me as a kid.

Frozen dew. The windscreen of my Beetle wasn't frost tolerant in Young, south-western NSW. It was the town I moved to back in the winter of '69 for my first job in radio. So I covered it at night with newspaper. In the mornings I had a battle unsticking the windscreen wipers from the paper. Grrrr. Then I learned to boil a jug of water and pour it over the ice. Didn't do any good though... it was iced-up again before I got to the end of the street.

But back to Jim's story: When my little hunter-killer was just a stray kitten, looking for a meal, it was a frost warning that made me pick her up and literally throw her in the house one night. Years later, she is my bud, and will snuggle up next to me at night for a while when I go to bed. She is always gone by morning. I usually find her curled up in this office chair that I am sitting in. Right now, she is sleeping on the couch in this room. Little Black Cat has her routines.

OR Richie also has a puddy tat and often tells me about its shenanigans and rituals. If Cody had had a puddy tat instead of his 'Staffy' Sox, Wingnut would have been out of a job.

However, winter can mean different things to different peeps, as Mike recalls: I enjoy this time of year. Years (decades) ago, as a wee little brat, I remember raking leaves into a huge pile just to run and jump through them, I remember the acorn fights, or whatever nut that had recently fallen from the neighborhood trees. Many times going home with whelps covering most our bodies, ah the joys of youth .

There was unseasonal snow at the Blue Mountains (60 miles west of Sydney) the other day and, sure enough, the kids were outdoors making the most of it, throwing snowballs and sliding around the place. As to raking leaves, I remember as a kid being fascinated by the colors of autumn in the leaves of our Camphor Laurel tree - ruby reds, golden yellows, bright oranges and tinges of emerald green. But it was dad who did the raking. I practically lived in that huge tree (classified as a weed these days - not me, it).

Jim also mentioned driving licenses, and that he can't imagine teens not driving. Zach was driving at 15 1/2, Jim at 16 and his daughter drove a Dodge Neon in high school. Well, I dunno if the rules in Cape Town are the same as here in NSW but you've gotta be 16 before you can get a learner's permit, which must be held for at least 12 months (unless you're over 25). As a learner, you need to complete at least 120 hours of supervised driving practice (including 20 hours of night driving) and record it in your Learner Driver Log Book, which is given to you when you receive your learner licence. So the minimum age before progressing to a drivers license is 17. Your first license is provisional (P1) which has a number of driving restrictions, and needs to be held for at least 12 months before you can apply for a P2 which also has restrictions but less of them. After 24 months of being licensed P2 driver, you can apply for a full license.

From the Beeb: US military aircraft have dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State (IS) militants in the key Syrian town of Kobane. US Central Command said C-130 transport aircraft had made "multiple" drops of supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq. US air strikes have helped push back IS in the town near the Turkish border. Correspondents say the airdrops are likely to anger key US ally Turkey.

On the tracks of Australia's last record maker - There's been a resurgence in sales of vinyl in recent years - but in Australia there's only one company still making discs with a vinyl press. It means business is booming for Zenith Records in Melbourne. So get into the groove and take a look at how they do it:

Brad Pitt said he hoped his new film Fury recognised the trauma suffered by soldiers in World War Two as it closed this year's BFI London Film Festival. "War is hell," said Pitt, who plays a Sherman tank commander on a mission behind enemy lines in 1945. He said the film "was about the accumulative psychic trauma that every soldier carries to some extent." Brad Pitt hopes the film will go some way towards recognising the horrors and suffering that soldiers go through Speaking on the red carpet, Pitt told the BBC News website: "The film follows a tank crew - which hasn't really been dissected before to this kind of detail."

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban a couple of years ago for speaking out in favor of education for girls (and children), was interviewed in Oz last night. She was talking about living in her home village at the time, and how fearful everyone was of being next on the Taliban's hit list. The Taliban would come into the village, round up certain individuals and execute them for "crimes" against the Koran. One was a hairdresser, which according to Taliban doctrine is against the rules. Another was a teacher. Can you believe that such twisted thinking exists in the 21st century? No wonder modern education is the enemy of the Taliban - it's also the enemy of ignorance and superstition.

It occurred to me last night that sometimes as an athiest I wish there was an afterlife so that I could prove there isn't. Huh? Yeah... well... you get my drift. It's just that all those dumb Islamic militants and screwballs are rejoicing in the deaths of suicide bombers earning their reward in Paradise as martyrs - and no one is coming back to dispute that claim (or verify it). So how do you convince them of the error of their ways? Well, it's rather like convincing all the weeds in your garden to have respect for their neighbors and to peacefully co-exist. It's not gonna happen.

It also occurred to me after reading emails from fans of Cody & Co - who are feeling terribly sad about their loss - that loss is the thing we all tend to focus on after a death. It took me a while to come to terms with the initial shock which was eased somewhat by trying to help Steve deal with his own feelings of loss (as well as other serious problems). But it eventually dawned on me that I have a lot to be thankful for, as do all of us touched by Cody's story. There are 4 and a half years of Cody's life that can never be lost or taken away. They are ours to keep forever. So when ever we're tempted to feel sad, we should remember to feel grateful. As I sit in PJ reading GR, I'm made abundantly aware of the fact that the importance of having known the Codeman and his mates has not diminished one iota over the years. And there's only one person in my life I can say that about.

For me, Cody's adventures throughout his teens kinda filled a lot of gaps in my own life as a teen, which was as boring as batshit save for a handful of highlights. As he wrote about his life, I adopted it as my own. I adopted his mates as my own. It was as though I was re-living my teen years though him - getting a second chance, so to speak, and making up for all the cool stuff I never did. Hehe.

Well, the clock ticketh and it's wrap time. Hooroo! Gary

October 19, 2014. Sundee, the day after Satdee. OH Jim described the voices he "hears" as he reads about the characters in Codeman or Green Room as sounding like people he knows... Cody like Zach, Steph like his daughter Beth, etc. We all draw from our own experience. Depending on the reader's nationality, Cody had a variety of accents. Steve is the only one I know who could describe Cody's accent accurately. He said when Cody read poetry by Kahlil Gibran his voice was soft and hypnotic. He also had a habit of giggling a lot, for which his oft used 'hehehe' was appropriate. Steve was a 'hahahaha' person.

'What a waste of a great kid', Jim wrote. True, but there is one consolation... he recorded his life in words that he sent to me, and which I turned into a book. When I read Green Room now, Cody is alive in my mind, and his interactions with his friends and family are forever part of the Continuum, immortalized. He could so easily have vanished almost without trace, but our chance meeting in cyber space prevented such a tragic waste. Cody's words have been read by tens of thousands of people from all over the world, and will continue to be.

Don't get me going on Indian call centers," Jim said. Yes, we get them too. Language is a kind of music, with the words being the notes. They are sung rather than spoken. The written word, however, is static and mute. Undertanding the written word is much easier than the 'sung' word. Even when foreigners speak one's own language, they use the 'music' of their native tongue... the same lyrics sung to a different tune.

As to the TV show Highway Patrol: Broderick Crawford in Highway Patrol. Those were Dodges? I saw a DVD of that show a few months ago, in the $5 bin. That show never interested me much. Maybe it was too adult for my little kid taste. My favorite was SKY KING! A cowboy with a Cessna 310.

Yep, Dodges but also Buicks in earlier episodes. I remember the '59 Dodges. I was about 15 or 16 then and still a couple of years away from buying my first car. Here's a photo of it - a '51 Morris Oxford - undergoing final inspection at the factory in Britain. The smaller car behind the Oxford is a 'low-light' Morris Minor. Isn't it amazing what you find on the net?

Up until now, Anyel, my little sponsored bloke in Nicaragua, has sent me crayon traces of his hand along with letters about how he and his family are doing. But he'll be five next January so his drawing has matured. This time he sent me a drawing of a chicken which he colored brown. The chicken is pecking at a few seeds on the ground, and nearby is a soccer ball (I think), also brown. At first I thought it was an egg but it's too large to be an egg. The kid's no Rembrandt but at least he's trying.

According to the 'Dear Sponsor' info pack, Anyel is healthy, currently attending 3rd level, pre-school which he attends by travelling on foot. At school, he needs to improve his performance in the drawing class. (They said that, not me). In his community, he drinks water from a well. His home has electricity, but the floor is dirt. He receives packages of gifts (from World Vision) such as shoes, clothes, vitamins, de-worming tablets, sporting goods and kitchen goods for the family. The info pack also contains a recent photo of Anyel with close-cropped jet black hair looking rather salubrious dressed in a red long-sleeve top, black jeans, white socks and blue/gray shoes. In the background is a little brown and white dog, resting but also watching proceedings with interest. The first photo I received some years ago showed a grumpy little boy but now he's looking far happier and healthier, all dolled up in his Sunday best.

In Anyel's bio sheet, he colored in a smiley with his favorite color yellow. He used blue to color the types of clothing he likes to wear everyday - t-shirt, baseball cap, lace-up shoes and jeans. He used yellow again to color his favorite fruit, which is pineapple, and blue to color his favorite toy, a soccer ball.

From the Beeb: Catholic gay rights groups say the rejection by bishops of proposals for wider acceptance of gay people, backed by Pope Francis, is "very disappointing". A draft paper issued at a Catholic Church synod in the Vatican had included text calling for greater openness towards homosexuals, and divorced Catholics who remarried. But this failed to win two-thirds backing and was not in the final text. The synod will reconvene next year.

Yes, if you're looking for expert advice about sexuality, marriage, and even life itself, ask an old bloke who's a committed bachelor, is sworn to celibacy and who wears a funny hat.

I've noticed lately that politicians in Parliament, in order to be politically correct when they criticize the validity of an opposing member's suggestion, accuse him or her of believing in the tooth fairy rather than Santa Claus. To cast doubt upon the validity of dear ol' Santa would be unacceptable. But to question the existence of the tooth fairy is fine. To my knowledge, there exists no group of tooth fairy believers that is likely to protest against being mocked. On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me if there were.

Apparently, it's also politically correct to accuse a person with whom you disagree about a particular matter of being silly enough to be a member of The Flat Earth Society. Mind you, that wasn't always the case. Galileo tried it once with the Vatican and was not only excommunicated but also placed under house arrest for life.

Yes, it's a funny old world. Oh, by the way Ye Olde. I was watching QI the other night and Stephen Fry asked the panel how they pronounced Ye. Naturally, they all said Ye... as in Y e. They were wrong, of course. Y is middle English for the letter thorn, which is a combination of the letters t and h. So ye is actually a substitution for the, and is pronounced as such.

And with that little gem, it's time to hurtle off into the distance (about 4 feet, actually). It's been a pleasant day weatherwise, and hopefully we've seen the end of winter which thus far has been unwilling to let go. The local jacaranda trees are about to blossom and provide a wonderful sight. I've photographed them before but I'll photograph them again using some of the techniques I've plagiarized from Red Bubblers who know infinitely more than I do. Further north, a town called Grafton has stacks of jacarandas and a festival to go with them, but it's a bit far for me to travel at the mo so I'll settle for the locals just across the Martin Bridge. Gary

October 18, 2014. Two of the pics uploaded to the historic autos album yesterday were corrupted but they're fine now. I don't check until my internet connection is less congested. It's painfully slow during the day but not too bad at the mo... two whole bars! Woohoo!

And now to the family reunion I mentioned yesterday.

Whoa! And guess whose family it is. Here's a picture of a family reunion we had... not everyone could make it... what's scary is that EVERYONE in this photo is related to each other. This was in 1994... My daughter was an early teen back then. My mom and Aunt Marilyn organized that one. They rented the entire City Park in Madeira. Not everyone made it that day to the reunion. There were people from as far as California. And of course the Florida contingent. LOL we all had pre-printed name tags that had our names, and then under it said who's kid we were. Mine said Jimmy ( what I was called as a kid to tell me apart from my Dad, who was also Jim). Under my name that said Rose's boy.

My Grandparents ( the ones with the farm) had 13 kids who lived to adulthood. That's why I have 123 cousins and God only knows how many kids they have . Most of my cousins were older than me, so they now have lots of grandkids and even great grandkids. Most of the 13 brothers and sisters have died... another one passed away 3 weeks ago. But they were all alive on the day that photo was taken. What was cool about that photo that we were not grouped in family units, but all mixed up together as one big family. That was my Aunt's idea. They wanted it that way. What was really cool was knowing that who ever you were next to that day, you were related to them.

Yep, that's OH Jim's mob. There are quite a few in the Kelly Clan too I guess, most of whom I've never met or seen, but I suspect our clan is nowhere near as big as Jim's. I was amazed when I saw that pic... and even more amazed to know that not everybody turned up!

Jim was surprised to learn that "sarmie" is pronounced more like saw-me. It's all in the vowels. However, when Jim says 'saw' it's different to the way I say 'saw'. Jim drops his lower jaw to say saw whereas I purse my lips as if I'm about to take a swig of Coke. And that's the way Cody pronounced it. Also, the 'r' is silent in 'sarmie'. Complicated? Yep.

Arvie is the same. More like Or-vie. Here in Oz, though, we use a long 'a' so our abbreviation is ahh-vo. Hehe. The full word is pronounced ahh-f-ta-noon, whereas Cody would have said aw-f-ta-noon. The Yanks use a short 'a', as in can and can't. But Safricans and Aussies use a short 'a' in can, but a long 'a' in cahh-n't just to confuse the issue.

I remember Francois saying he had enough difficulty understanding written English let alone spoken English... and would never understand Aussie spoken English hehe.

I thought more about that jet flying low yesterday and it probably was the local Saab turbo prop. Normally, I see it approaching the airport from north of here at a distance, but this time it was almost overhead and a lot lower than usual, which explains why it looked so damn big! There were storm clouds present at the time so it was probably avoiding those for better vision.

And now back to Edsels and Citroens for a moment: I remember the Sunday night when Ford rolled out the Edsel on nationwide TV. I think it was on a commercial break for Maverick and it was a big deal. There had been speculation about it for the last month. After they showed it, no one in the living room said anything. Then I said something like that it was sure ugly. ( BUTT ugly, but I didn't say that. I didn't want a smack on MY butt!) . Given a choice, I would take an Edsel over a Citroen. Detroit iron. Even an Edsel ! And you can't say the Edsel's horse collar grill didn't have character. The wrong character, perhaps, but character. I think Ford over hyped the Edsel. And when it was finally shown, it wasn't what the mass was expecting. It's called setting the customer's expectations, and then meeting it. A classic example of a sales department gone amok. LOL Dad said that he would stick with Oldsmobile. And with that, there would be no Edsel in OUR driveway.

The Detroit Irony (to use a pun) is that the Edsel is now a sought-after collector's item. However, I have to say I was never a fan of those big, clumsy Yank Tanks of the late '50s and early '60s. I remember Broderick Crawford in Highway Patrol driving one of those finned, chrome-laden blimps.

From the Beeb: A US plane on a top-secret, two-year mission to space has returned to Earth and landed in California. The aircraft, resembling a miniature space shuttle and known as the Orbital Test Vehicle or X-37B, spent 674 days in orbit around the planet. It touched down at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday morning. The purpose of the plane remains unclear - a theory that it was taking a look at China's space lab has recently been downplayed by experts. Air Force officials have only told US media the aircraft performs "risk reduction, experimentation and concept-of-operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies".

President Barack Obama's credit card was rejected in a restaurant. How often do US heads of state spend their own money, asks Jon Kelly. It's commonly said the Queen doesn't carry cash. It seems her American counterpart doesn't get his wallet out too much either. Barack Obama told an audience that his credit card was rejected in a New York restaurant last month: "It turned out, I guess, I don't use it enough." During his term in office, Bill Clinton once had his credit card rejected too.

Iraqi pilots who have joined Islamic State are training its members in Syria to fly three captured fighter jets, according to a UK-based activist group that monitors the conflict. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said witnesses had seen the planes being flown around a military airport in Aleppo.

In 2008, Derrick Kuzak pushed an unfathomably large pile of chips towards the centre of the table. No, Kuzak was not playing high-stakes poker, but as Ford’s then-vice president for global product development, his arm movements carried weight. In his role, Kuzak directed Ford’s R&D department to dedicate half its total resources to investigating a radical question: what would happen if the next F-150 pickup truck were made from aluminium instead of steel?

As you may know, voting is compulsory in Oz, for which there are arguments in favor and those against. The best argument in favor of compulsory voting in my book is that it forces the major parties to appeal to the middle ground. The far right and the far left don't get a look in. The theory is, if voting were not compulsory, half the voters wouldn't bother to turn up at the polling booths and therefore open the way for fringe groups. However, according to FL Josh, here is the best argument I have ever seen against mandatory voting.

Compulsory voting may also explain why Australia's social services, such as medicare, are far more generous than most other countries.

And now, (drum roll) ladies and genitals, the results of my first attempt at bread and butter pudding! ...Disastrous. The baking dish was the wrong size for the ingredient measurements. I figured that was the case as I made it but went ahead anyway. While it was baking in the oven, it also occurred to me that using sliced raisin bread would be easier than plain bread sprinkled with raisins, so I did a Google. Sure enough, staring me in the face was Tip Top's (bakery) recipe. The recipe I used was from an old fashioned cook book. Oh well... Next!

And speaking of food, beans ain't beans, to coin a phrase from the Castrol ad. According to OH Jim, my use of 'whizzed beans' yesterday in answer to Zach's 'cool beans' would have cracked Zach up. 'Whizz' over there means pointing Percy at the porcelain (or in this case, my beans). But he does love his 3-ways... Cincinnati Greek chili with beans, chili and grated sharp cheddar cheese on a bed of spaghetti.

Roite. I'm assuming those beans are not the type of beans I whizzed, which were long, green beans. I think they're called string beans... the ones Jack tossed out his bedroom window and which grew overnight into a very tall vine.

Here's a bit of history I was unaware of... on this day: 1867 - The United States purchases Alaska for $7.2 million, the equivalent of about 2 cents an acre.

Russia, the original "owners" of Alaska, held the territory from 1741. As British and American settlers encroached upon Alaska's southern border in the mid nineteenth century, increasing the likelihood of territorial disputes, the financially-strapped Russia offered to sell the territory to the United States. The formal transfer of Alaska from the ownership of Russia to the United States of America took place on 18 October 1867. Alaska was sold for $7.2 million in gold, which equated to about 2 cents an acre. Initially, President Andrew Johnson was derided for the purchase, as Alaska was seen as too remote to be of any real value. However, following the great Klondike gold strike in 1896, Alaska came to be seen as a valuable and strategic addition to American territory.

Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. So it's time for me to throw a leg over the proverbial saddle and gallop off to my favorite easy chair. Matter of fact, it's the same chair I sat in while watching Broderick Crawford all those years ago at my parents' house. Gary

October 17, 2014. First off, here are a couple of links. This one is a GN's journal of his visit to the Flinders Ranges in South Oz... interesting reading and great pics. If that link doesn't work, try his post on the GN forum. And this morning I assembled another 50 historic auto-related photos from the first half of the 20th century.

So here it is mid afternoon already. I read a bit more of GR in PJ, then listened to a bit of talk back radio, had a snooze and then had my bandages redressed by the nurse at the doc's. And on the way home I did a bit of shopping and picked up a few meds. The bandages on my neck were already unstuck by the time I got back, by the way. Useless things.

As I walked down to the car before I left for the doc's, I heard a plane. I looked up, and this giant passenger jet barely a few thousand feet up, flew over Martin Bridge (just a block away) heading towards the airport. It wasn't the regular turbo-prop service, but some bigger jet. It seemed enormous from where I stood. At first I thought it was in trouble but everything seemed to be working okay, then I wondered if it was part of an air show or something, but it's just an ordinary Friday as far as I know. I've never seen a jet that big or that low around here before.

Further to accents and Cody's sarmies (pronounced more like saw-me), TX Greg wrote: Hehe, now here's a couple of dudes, that remind me a little of Cody and Steve, giving us a few South African slang words...  Love the accent :)

And here's what OH Jim had to say about it: Cody speak and my daughter Beth's speak were remarkably the same. As I read Codeman, and the way Cody wrote, I was struck by how close it was to Beth's emails and the way she talked of the same time period. She had the same phrases. Of course some words were totally alien, but still, other phrases sounded just like her as a teen. It was like I was back in that time again. Now Zach is a different generation, and Zach speak is totally different. And the learning of his speak is on going. " COOL BEANS!"

Whizzed beans in this house. I just steamed a bunch and gave them the ol' whizz a dizz dizz for tonight's dinner. Same with some carrots. Does Zach say 'cool carrots'? What about 'zingy zucchinis' or 'peachy pumkins'?

Incidentally, for those of you who don't know (or who are a tad confused), Green Room is the abridged version of the original Cody story (with most of the naughty bits removed). Names and locations were changed as requested by Steve. GR is set in Byron Bay on the north coast of NSW Oz, with Wollumbin (named Mt Warning by Captain Cook in 1770) taking the place of Table Mountain. As I read the book this morning, Code was talking about the upcoming millennium, so he wrote that back when I was living in Petersham Sydney with no idea I'd be in Taree within two years. Or that Cody was destined to be killed in a fatal accident. For me, his words are still as fresh now as they were back then. Cody lives!

From the Beeb: Boyan Slat is a 20-year-old on a mission - to rid the world's oceans of floating plastic. He has dedicated his teenage years to finding a way of collecting it. But can the system really work - and is there any point when so much new plastic waste is still flowing into the sea every day? "I don't understand why 'obsessive' has a negative connotation, I'm an obsessive and I like it," says Boyan Slat. "I get an idea and I stick to it." I'm sure Cody would be backing this young man, and so do I. Best of luck, mate.

The Islamic State (IS) militant group has been driven out of most of the northern Syrian town of Kobane, a Kurdish commander has told the BBC. Baharin Kandal said IS fighters had retreated from all areas, except for two pockets of resistance in the east. US-led air strikes have helped push back the militants, with another 14 conducted over the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, the new UN human rights commissioner has called IS a "potentially genocidal" movement.

The University of Sydney has suspended a professor and government education advisor for sending racist emails. Prof Barry Spurr referred to Aboriginal people as "human rubbish tips" and used racist terms to refer to Muslims and Asians in Australia. In a recent review of the curriculum, Prof Spurr had advised that schools teach less Aboriginal literature. He said the emails were part of a "whimsical" game, but students are demanding that he be fired. The emails were obtained by Australian magazine New Matilda, which said they had been sent to about a dozen people, including officials and academics at the university between September 2012 and late 2014.

It occurred to me the other day after posting those links to the Indian College of Linguistics' videos of How To Talk Australians that if those vids were made by Aussies taking a shot at Indian culture, there'd be a huge stink and cries of racism. But I thought they were funny. What the hell's wrong with being able to laugh at yourself? Maybe that's the problem in these days of political correctness.... some people simply don't have the ability to laugh at themselves. Instead, they take themselves and their culture/religion far too seriously. SF Jim, a Lutheran minister, once said to me, "People forget that God has a wonderful sense of humor."

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Milan to meet his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko and key EU leaders to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine. The leaders of the UK, Germany, France and Italy are expected to press Mr Putin to do more to end the fighting. They accuse Russia of arming separatist rebels and sending regular Russian troops to Ukraine. Moscow denies this.

Putin will be Puttin' on the Ritz in Oz soon for the G20 meeting in Brisbane. Our PM said he was gonna "shirtfront" Putin about the shooting down of a Malaysian jet with several Australians on board, but after a lot of publicity about the use of the football term, changed his tune to "robust talks" the next day. Hehe. In any case, the press will be on the lookout for any hint of a blue between Putin and Abbott during the meet. Putin is a matial arts exponent and Abbott is a boxer cum triathlete.

I've run outta time today, folks. But tomorrow I'll post a pic of a family reunion you won't believe. It's almost as big as the entire Australian population! Gary

October 16, 2014. Sore but not sorry this morning after being relieved of five skin cancers yesterday. However, I must say that the bandages were not designed to adhere to skinny necks. I dunno why the nurse bothered to put them on in the first place. They're hanging off me like rags after a hurricane. And now I'm off to Andries' den of dentistry for a rinse and squirt.

Andries and I discussed having a positive attitude. He reckons it's impossible to handle life's challenges without some kind of spiritual assistance; that one's own resources are finite. I don't agree. I reckon to remain positive is not about effort. It's like the way a refrigerator works. Cold is the absence of heat. In the same way, darkness is the absence of light. Positive is the absence of negative.

There was a bloke on telly the other night interviewing kids. "Now we're gonna play a game," he said, and all the kids got excited. "Close your eyes," he continued, "and don't think about a white elephant." The kids closed their eyes and you could tell by the expressions on their faces that they were having difficulty trying not to visualize a white elephant. "Now, you must not think about a white elephant," the bloke repeated, which made it even more difficult for the kids. Hehe. Then they all admitted to thinking about a white elephant.

It's the same when you're dealing with that negative voice in your head. Rather than acknowledge it by arguing with it, simply refuse to acknowledge it. Ignore it. Don't fight it. Think about something else entirely. For example, if the negative voice is telling you that the doc is going to hurt you when he jabs that needle into your arm, think about driving your car. Think about what you watched on telly. Think about something entirely unrelated to the doc and his needle. Often the anticipation of pain is worse than the pain itself.

So my theory is that positivity is simply the absence of negativity. And the best and easiest way to rid yourself  of negative thoughts is to ignore them, don't fight them, don't acknowledge them.

None of my current medical conditions was planned. I was planning to breeze through life without any of this crap, but that didn't happen. Soooo, rather than bitch about the unexpected change of plan, which wouldn't do any good anyway, I figured I'd make the best of the hand I'd been dealt. Yeah? There are only two choices... accept it and deal with it as best you can, or let it get the better of you and be miserable.

Back from sitting in PJ reading GR. It's been years since I wrote that book, and I was toying with the idea of having another go at it. But now that I'm reading it, I'm pleasantly surprised. It's quite well written - better than I'd expected. There are some parts I'd like to re-write but nothing major. Also, I've discovered that reading GR there has "introduced" Cody to PJ - he has a presence there that was missing before.

From the Beeb: Islamic State militants are retreating in parts of the strategic Syrian town of Kobane, a Kurdish official has said. Idriss Nassan told the BBC IS had lost control of more than 20% of the town in recent days. US defence officials say hundreds of militants have been killed around Kobane as US-led air strikes intensify. The news came as US President Barack Obama and European leaders agreed on the need to do more to stop the IS advance in Iraq and Syria.

Kangaroos too big to hop: They roamed Australia while mammoths and Neanderthals lived in Europe - and it now seems they did so by putting one heavy foot in front of the other. According to new research, the extinct "sthenurine" family of giant kangaroos, up to three times larger than living roos, was able to walk on two feet. Today's kangaroos can only hop or use all fours, but their extinct cousins' bones suggest a two-legged gait.

The Australian state of New South Wales has been battered by a massive storm which has left thousands of homes without power. Sydney and the surrounding areas have been hit by unseasonal snow, strong winds and torrential rain. Heavy snow up to 15cm deep has been recorded on the Blue Mountains leading to sightings of kangaroos jumping around in the snow. Only a few days ago, there was a heat wave and the locals were discussing bushfires.

Explore BBC Earth's unique interactive, personalised just to you. Find out how, since the date of your birth, your life has progressed; including how many times your heart has beated, and how far you have travelled through space. Investigate how the world around you has changed since you've been alive; from the amount the sea has risen, and the tectonic plates have moved, to the number of earthquakes and volcanoes that have erupted. It didn't work for me, maybe it will for you.

OH Jim wrote: Gary ... I came home and found this still in my out box. I think I forgot to press send button this AM in the rush to get to work.

It's after 4pm so you made it before wrap time. And now the mystery of Cody's word for weekends is unraveled.

ARVIE ! That's it! That's what had me totally confused as to what he was trying to say. I had no idea that all he was saying was afternoon. I knew it was a time word ... Maybe he said that when he was talking about a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I guessed right on sarmie, but that was easy because of context. Those kids seemed to be raiding the refrigerator all the time. Boy could they could eat. But then they were teenagers, who are always hungry. Just like Zach and his friends. They are always eating also. BTW.. we have no nicknames for afternoon and for sandwiches here.

I see, so you can't have a banger on a sanger at the barbie in the arvo.

What I was asking about Bloomin Onions was about the dish itself. Is it an Australian dish, or something invented in the kitchens of Outback?Interesting about the word blooming. I thought it was called that because the dish looked like a flower in bloom. Didn't know about the Aussie meaning ...

I saw the pic of the dish. It's obviously a play on the word bloomin' as in petals as well as its slang usage - so you're right about them using it because the dish looks like a flower in bloom. But no, it's not an Aussie dish. The word can be used specifically to mean flowers in bloom or it can be used as an all-purpose adjective. Such words are called enhancers because they're used to enhance meaning - bloomin hot as opposed to just hot.

To Josh... I saw the segment about the 2CV on the show Chasing Classic Cars also. I just shook my head. Wayne Carini ( the host) said that they only made 100 of them with the 9 HP engine. That's probably why it sold for that much money at auction. Still butt ugly. My 9 hp push mower has better lines. And cuts grass better. That car reminds me of the Ford Tri-Motor or JU52-3M airplanes because of the same crudeness . I agree with Gary's comments about the Citroen... "It ain't a car". That's for sure ...a car it ain't. Maybe a POS, but not a car. Whoops... POS = Piece of Sh** .

It ain't just a car is what I said, Jim. In any case, ugliness is in the eye of beholder. In my opinion, the Ford Edsel was ugly but I suspect its unpopularity with buyers was due to its not being ugly enough! In other words, the worst sin a designer can commit is to design something bland... something without character... something without soul. And no Citroen designer has ever been guilty of committing that sin.

And I hold the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions.

Yes, but is it bolted to the steering column?

The crash: My right hand was on the shifter, going down into 1st gear, because I was stopping. I am pretty sure that a white van or SUV moved into my lane from the right side and in front of me. I don't remember anything else... the impact or the air bags going off. The only burns I got were across the backs of my fingers on my left hand and the inside of my wrist... also on my left hand. Holding the wheel at 7 & 5 o'clock is damn dangerous for good car control . No way could I move the wheel multi turns from that position. Especially in a skid or avoidance maneuver. Even the 3 & 9 o'clock position isn't all that great , but 5 & 7? Ummm no way. BTW, I was taught the best is 2 & 10 O'clock. Because you can do hand over hand easy.

We call it '10 to 2', and that's my driving position. Well, time has beaten us again, to quote TV interviewers watching the floor manager giving them the wind-up signal. It's that time of the arvo again. Funny about that... we don't have a slang term for morning like morno hehe, or the night - nighto. We do have nightie, but that refers to a woman's sleepwear. However, there is a term for getting up early - waking at sparrow's (fart). Gary

October 15, 2014. Yesterday, when FL Josh expressed his frustration at my use of Aussie vernacular, I thought of Francois who often has trouble with English, let alone my English hehe. On the FL Josh comedy topic, can you imagine with my english? Sometimes (quite often) I just give up, jumping to the next paragraph! But sometimes I understand hehehe

OH Jim wrote: Message to Josh... you don't wanna know what I thought BB meant... That brought brought me to a sudden pause... with a HUH ????

Jim also wrote: Even though we all speak English, it's funny how we call the the same thing a different word. Sometimes I have no clue what you are talking about, if I can't figure it out from the context. Cody would use a word for the weekend I never heard of, and I was clueless for many chapters before I figured it out. Sadly I can't remember what he called it now. So if you know, please say what it was, because it is driving me crazy trying to remember.

Nope, can't remember what Cody called weekends (apart from weekends). But he did use a few Safrican colloquialisms that confused me at first. Arvie for afternoon (we call it arvo) and sarmie for sandwich (we call it a sanger). When he went somewhere he went 'through' to where ever it was. And when he referred to a particular person in a group he would say 'the one guy' instead of 'one guy' or 'a guy'.

To answer your question about 'bloomin onions', Jim, bloomin' is an old fashioned general-purpose adjective, a  diluted version of 'bloody', which was once considered vulgar. Like saying heck instead of hell. The host of a gardening show in Oz used to end each episode with "and that's your bloomin' lot for this week..." Another alternative to bloody was 'flamin'... not on ya flamin' life!

And from Josh himself: And Gary, loved the definitions. Hope you do that with each Waffle when you include words or abbreviations a lot of your readers will not understand. Good improvement towards making the Waffle "user friendly."

So, on the topic of user friendly, one of the GNs this morning posted a link to a series of short videos on How To Speak Australians produced by a bunch of Indian migrants with a delightful sense of humor. No Academy Awards for acting here but it's very funny stuff nonetheless.

Sorry for the interruption, Josh... As to OH Jim's comments on the air bag. I have always enjoyed driving using my right hand on the steering wheel, grasping the wheel at the eleven o'clock position, But, with the advent of air bags, there is a problem with that position. If the airbag goes of, it will drive my arm into my face, so I have had to learn a new way of driving and I now grasp the wheel with both hands down at the seven and five o'clock positions because it has them well out of the way of the air bag. Took a while to get used to, but now it is fine. I wondered if when OH Jim's airbag went off, the injuries he received were solely from the airbag or did his arm become a weapon in the process.

This is not an answer from Jim (that may come after he reads the above comment) but an afterthought in relation to  what he wrote yesterday: So to explain Airbags briefly ... the original design of the airbags were designed to open very quickly and violently. They injured too many, so eventually they were redesigned to be a lot safer for the people that they protect. I had no clue until I did some research on line after the accident. So what I installed was a delete kit, sold for race cars. The space that the air bag takes up is filled with hard foam that give a little. It looks like the OEM cover, but it is a repro, not NOS. Like I said, I will take my chances with my belts. I've owned my '68 Mustang for 44 years, and it doesn't have air bags and here I am , still alive. Whoops... OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer. repro = reproduction and NOS = New Old Stock. GEN1 air bag = broken neck.

And now back to Francois. Well, not Francois per se, but matters French (and a subject very near and dear to OH Jim's heart) contributed by Josh: As I type this, I'm watching a car auction on TV where a 9 hp 1956 Citroen 2CV, estimated to be worth $15-$20,000 sold for $30,000. The 2CVs were made from 1948 to 2008. Some things I found interesting on the car was that headlights could be adjusted from the dash so if you had people in the back seat that weighted down the car, you could bring your headlights back down from the dash. Also, the windshield wipers got their power from the speedometer cable. This video is not the one I saw, but is a great video and anyone who has ever loved a car can identify with the driver's enthusiasm and emotions. As Gary said discussing the Citroen DS, "It ain't just a car," and this video shows that concept.

. . . and for those who think that is just too tame, here is a video of the first ever 34 hour race for 2CVs, later models having up 35hp. The grandstands were packed, at one point having 15.

. . . and, for those who think that was too tame, here is a 2CV that someone has tucked underneath a Ferrari chassis. Can you imagine driving that to a 2CV meet, arriving flying around corners, engine and gears screaming!!!

. . . and here is how the 2CVs were made in 1990

Can you roll a 2CV?

. . .and here is a video of restoring a 2CV. The video is different from most and quite well done. 

I need to stop or I will just keep adding videos of 2CVs. What a wonderful car that has brought so much joy to people and still is.

There was a show on telly some time ago where a Brit was driving around France visiting famous French gardens. He chose to drive a 2CV because, as he explained, it was the quintessential French car in which to travel the French countryside, and it was fun to drive. A lot of the footage was shot with him behind the wheel, and I remember being rather intrigued by the car's controls and fitout, as well as its unique (if not quirky) design. If I remember correctly, Francois once owned a 2CV.

In an hour or so I'll be in surgery having skin cancers removed. Most are on my neck and shoulder area and make soaping under the shower a hassle so I'll be glad to see the damn things gone. My GP calls them barnacles.

The weather today is cold and windy, but should ease later. We've had stormy weather lately, which has been a bit wild and woolly but nothing compared to the storms that hit Sydney and environs last night. It blew like crazy which brought trees down and caused widespread power outages.

Being left handed at most things but also right at others makes me what? Ambidextrous? Yesterday I witnessed something that convinced me I'm basically a lefty. Lindsay, who's a righty, was stirring his coffee - clockwise. And it struck me how awkward it seemed. I've never noticed right-handed actions appearing awkward before, so this was a first. I stir with my left hand anticlockwise. So I thought about other things, like polishing the car. Even if I use my right hand I polish anticlockwise.  But - get this - if I polish left handed I go clockwise. Hehe. When I draw a figure 8, I start at the top and draw clockwise, and then finish the number anticlockwise. Averil noticed that one time and commented. Prior to that it had never occurred to me. I also draw the letter O anticlockwise. When I underline a word or signature, I draw the line from right to left. When I use a ruler and stanley knife to cut paper or cardboard, I cut from right to left, using my left hand. However, when I use scissors I automatically use my right hand.

Yoo hoo! Back from surgery! The doc removed 5 cancers - 2 from my right leg and 3 from neck and shoulder. He also squirted a few others. The rest can wait - that's enough for one day. And I was a very good patient - I just laid there and let it all happen. Quiet as a mouse. NOT. I was babbling on about something or other and the doc said, "I didn't hear a word you said." But I kept babbling anyway.

Then I did a little shopping on the way home. I'm gonna make an old fashioned bread and butter pudding - the kinda thing moms made during the Great Depression. 4 slices of buttered bread arranged alternately in a baking dish with currants, milk, sugar and an egg. Bake for half and hour and that's it. But it's yummy, and I haven't had it for centuries. I have some Dutch cinnamon too, so I'll sprinkle that on top. I thought it might be a nice change from trifle.

Weeeeeeell, that's it. Time to don the chef hat and turn on the telly. But not in that order. Gary

October 14, 2014.  Woke to an email this morning from the Prof in Sydney: I have looked at your scans and scheduled a date. Julie will be in touch. Man of brevity, yes? Julie is the receptionist so I'm expecting a call sooner than later. Not sure of the date for surgery but I imagine it's not too far away. Looks like 2015 will be the Year of the Odyssey. Meanwhile, I'm booked in with my GP for surgery on several skin cancers tomorrow. And next Monday I'm supposed to be in Port Macquarie to see the oncologist. Sheesh.

Can't say I'm looking foward to the bone transplant and being hospitalized for 2 weeks, or the six month recovery period. But at least it's not as serious as the first op, and I can look forward to a normal life... if life on the road can be considered normal. According to this GN it's not, but there are compensations.

FL Josh wrote last night and I think he deserves the Comedy of the Year Award for 2014:

Message to OH Jim -- Don't feel all alone as to not knowing what GR meant. I experienced the same thing, having to stop cold in my reading tracks, and see if I could figure it out. I finally figured it out and only then could I move on.

In virtually every Waffle, I find myself having to stop and try to figure out what some abbreviation means or some strange word that may be an Aussie colloquialism, or homemade word of Gary's. On the 11th Gary mentioned going "troppo." Still haven't figured that one out. And in that same Waffle he said BBs rule. That brought be to a screeching halt. I finally figured out it was baked beans but I lost time and experienced frustration.

On the 10th, Gary referred to the OECD and I just stared at it and moved on. On the 9th it was "aggro" and "blowies." On the 7th we had "anno." On the 5th, it was DL and on 9/30, we had "No wukkers, cob," and I have yet to figure out "cob." "Close of Business?" maybe or "Church of the Brethren?" No, probably not that last one.

But then you, Jim, threw "vee wee" at us the other day, but after ruling out a woman's privates, I was able to figure out it must be what I would refer to was a VW.

Am a bit behind keeping up with the Waffles lately because in the past week I have had to do a 2254, a 3.800 (that worked and we got a nunc pro tunc order) and am now working on a 3.850 that has to be done by the 19th and I can't get an EOT on it. Then have to file an IB for the same client on a denial of a 3.800. Got an invite to lunch this week with a local APD for white pizza in her office. Got all that? Did I do a good job of comunicating with you? If not, no wukkies, OJ, don't get your blowies caught up in your aggro. BBs rule. (And I should know because I had a BB gun when I was a kid.)

Great piece of work, yes? Now let me explain a few things.

Troppo comes from various tropical diseases suffered by explorers, soldiers or whomever whose symptoms included hallucination.

OECD is not an Aussie colloquialism or a Garyism but rather an acronym for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ...

Aggro is short for aggressive.

Blowie(s) is Oz vernacular for blow flies, those that infest sheep rear ends with maggots.

Anno is short for anniversary (and I got that one from OR Richie).

DL is daylight saving but I suppose I should have used AEDLST for Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time.

No wukkers is a shortened version of no wukking furries which is the polite way of saying no fucking worries. Too easy.

Cob is short for cobber, meaning mate/friend, used by early Cockney settlers. Dig (digger) is also used, popularized by Aussie soldiers during WWI who fought in trenches.

By the way, did you read the Russian press reaction to our PM Tony Abbot's promise to "shirtfront" Vladimir Putin when he arrives here for the G20 Summit? I would have thought the Russian press was above resorting to juvenile, dummy-spitting journalism, blaming Australian culture and the country's historic ties with its allies for the remarks of one man.

From the Beeb: Shia militias in Iraq have kidnapped and killed scores of Sunni civilians in recent months, a report by campaign group Amnesty International has said. The killings were in apparent revenge for attacks by Islamic State (IS). Amnesty said the militias had been supported and armed by the Iraqi government and operated with impunity.

Senior clerics taking part in a review of Catholic teachings on the family have called on the Church to adopt a more positive stance on homosexuality. A preliminary report written by bishops during a Vatican synod said homosexuals had "gifts and qualities to offer". The report does not challenge the Church's long-held opposition to same-sex marriage, but some gay rights groups hailed it as a breakthrough. Conservative groups rejected the report, one labelling it a "betrayal".

Yeah, well the gay bloke who painted the sistine chapel had a few "gifts and qualities to offer".

A singlet bearing a slogan seen by many as racist has been removed from supermarket shelves in Australia after it was "inadvertently" stocked. The vest with Australia's flag and the slogan "If you don't love it, leave" was on sale at two Woolworths stores in Queensland and New South Wales. A spokesman said the company would review its processes to "ensure this sort of error cannot happen again".

A backpacker found a 3in (7.5cm) leech that had been living up her nose for a month after a trip to South East Asia. Daniela Liverani, 24, from Edinburgh, had been having nosebleeds for weeks but put them down to a burst blood vessel from a motorbike crash. Ms Liverani was having a shower last Thursday when she  realised the dark shape wriggling in her nose was actually an animal. Hospital staff used forceps and tweezers to remove the parasite. A month!!!???

Roite, I phoned the Prof's secretary in Sydney to organize a few things around the surgery on my jaw and it seems she has "quite a few things to organize" for me, including the booking of the operating theater "which won't be until next year". Then she added "probably around February". So, now I can negotiate with Port Macquarie to move my appointment with the oncologist. I'm supposed to be there Monday but I don't like the idea of travelling all that way bandaged and stitched from the skin cancer surgery tomorrow. It takes a week to have the sutures removed and wounds inspected.

So, we're looking at February with the Prof? I thought it might be sooner. Oh, well... That means the recovery period will extend from autumn through winter 2015. It'll be September before I'm completely healed (provided all goes to plan). Meanwhile, the oncologist answered my email and my appointment with him is now November 3.

OH Jim wrote to say it was The Codeman he read and not GR, so there ya go. He says Cody's death came as such a terrible shock, he can't bring himself to read any more. I never knew the kid, but he was so much like Zach and Beth (my daughter), I can't do it. He ( through you) touched me so much ...

Jim mentioned a chain of restaurants in the US called Outback Steakhouse, and was wondering what I thought of the menu. I initially had trouble getting that site to load, but while trying I discovered that Outback Steakhouse is also franchised in Oz with quite a few locations. Here's the Aussie menu. As to the US menu, it's as I suspected... liberal use of Aussie colloquialisms such as mate, barbie, good on ya, no worries, etc.

When Jim told me about his recent car accident, with little damage caused to his Mustang despite serious damage caused to him, I couldn't figure it out. Well, today's email explains all: Tonight, Zach and I worked on my 01 Mustang. I installed my air bag delete kit in my steering wheel. There is NO WAY I will ever re-install GEN1 air bags back in my car... not after getting knocked out and having the ER doc telling me he was surprised my neck wasn't broken. I'll take my chances with seat / shoulder belts, since all I can get for my Mustang is Gen1 airbags.

PJ doesn't have air bags but I've travelled in taxis and other late model cars that do, and it worries me to see those airbag signs everywhere... in front, at the sides, and god knows where else. They make me nervous.

Jim also sent  this rib tickling tale: The Mustang's Belt Reminder failed. About a year ago, it became intermittent. Plugging the seat belt in didn't cancel the dinger. It kept on dinging. Then it would work ok for a while. It was driving me up the wall, because it wasn't sensing that the driver's side belt was attached. DING DING DING  for the first 15 minutes. So tonight we just cut the wires into the belt anchor. Zach twisted the wires together and it didn't silence the dings. We looked at each other and both said simultaneously "what the hell?" So... I said pull the wires apart and the dings stopped and the panel light went out. I can't get into the belt anchor, so that is the way it will be. I don't need a stupid chime and flashing light to tell me to put on my belts. That happens BEFORE I even start the engine. Time to take some personal responsibility for my life, and not rely on Ford telling me to do something.

A couple of years back, I rented a Toyota RAV4 for the trip to Tamworth to pick up Das Busse, a Toyota campervan I bought on eBay sight unseen except for a few photos. What a disaster that was! But on the drive to Tamworth, I kept hearing this annoying (and mysterious) chirp, chirp, chirp noise coming from the dash of the RAV4. The damn thing had so many warning lights and switches and knobs and dials, I had no idea what all that stuff was for. And I had no time to familiarize myself with it. So on and on and on it went... chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp. What the hell was happening here? And THEN! It dawned on me. My backpack was sitting on the front passenger seat and the alarm thought it was... yes... a person not wearing a seat belt. So I dropped the backpack into the footwell and all was fine. Modern cars have way too many gizmos for my liking.

And here we is again at 5-ish and it's time to tap-dance off stage. See ya next time. Gary

October 13, 2014. Yep, I reckon you haven't lived unless you've been on a steam train. The Enfield Marshalling Yards were fairly close to where I lived as a kid but I never rode one. Electric trains ran the suburban route. So it wasn't until I was in my sixties that the opportunity to ride a steam train arose when a vintage loco visited Taree. There have been a couple since.

I suppose the same could be said for a flight in a vintage bi-plane, a hot-air balloon, a ride in a T-model Ford (or similar) or a voyage aboard a tall sailing ship. Oops! Nearly forgot about a ride in a stage coach.

So the question is, why don't we get excited about watching TV or listening to the radio, or riding in a modern train or car or plane? Is it because we're not kids anymore? Has the magic gone? Maybe not for some, such as ham radio enthusiasts like OH Jim. Did he tell me he's also into model railways? I think he did. He's a worry ya know.

OH Jim and I met after he read Green Room. Yeah? So this morning he wrote to say I lost him yesterday when I referred to reading GR in PJ. He wanted to know what GR stood for. *sigh* Anyway, he's an avid reader. He reckons books transport him to all kinds of interesting places: I started my daughter the same way. And she thrived as a reader. In high school, she was in the International Baccalaureate program, taking college courses in parallel with her high school classes. By the time she graduated from Princeton High, she was already a sophmore in College. She got a full scholarship to the University of Cincinnati. I'm really proud of her. And she is doing my grand-daughter the same way. She has her own tablet. At the ripe old age of 4.

Zach on the other hand struggles when it comes to reading anything that isn't technical. He's a straight As student except in English Lit. His parents are IT bosses. My problem is being a cynic. I simply can't get involved in fiction because I know it's a figment of someone's imagination. It wasn't an issue when I was younger but it is now that I'm a grump. I'm the same with movies, always thinking about what's going on behind the cameras, or analyzing the actors' techniques or taking an interest in what the extras are doing. Hehe.

Biographies, history, magazine articles, etc, are a different matter, as are documentaries, current affairs and anything else based on fact. What a boring old fart I've become!

It's been Mental Health Week in Oz and ABC-TV has been running programs about the subject. One last night told the story of a bloke who found himself losing the plot through depression and stress. He lost his job, family and even his self respect. He said he felt the need to build something, so he did. He built a boat. Not a big one, just a small row boat. One day, he packed a few possessions, supplies, camping gear, clothes and his dog into the boat and rowed up river where he spent some weeks. He said the peace and quiet worked wonders - the serenity of his boat gliding over calm waters, the sound of wind whistling through the trees, and that special sense of belonging you get from being at one with Nature. "Being alone out there doesn't mean you feel lonely," he said.

So now he runs similar excursions for people with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, each with his/her own boat. As a kid, I would go with my parents on weekends to a place called Bobbin Head where they had canoes for hire. I couldn't wait to paddle my way into the various bays and inlets amongst the mangroves. To me, it was adventureland. My younger bro and I also rode our bikes to the Georges River where we hired a rowboat for the day. It was real Huck Finn stuff.

From the Beeb: Turkey has agreed to let the US use its military bases in the campaign against Islamic State militants, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice says. Ms Rice said the US welcomed the new agreement, which included use of the Incirlik air base in Turkey's south. The US is leading air strikes against IS, which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months. Turkey shares a border with both countries, but has so far ruled out any ground operation of its own.

The cool cars that money can't buy: An eager crowd gathers, coloured lights blaze, and everyone stares eagerly at the mysterious shape concealed beneath dark covers at the centre of the stage. Thumping music reaches a crescendo, the covers are removed with a dramatic flourish to reveal… what is actually a fairly dull and nondescript new car. A middle-aged man in a suit then tells us all about it, at some length. This is a fairly common experience at the major international motor shows. But every now and then, you do see a machine that is truly striking, truly unique, that sets your pulse racing. Invariably, it's a concept car.

Hollywood actor and director Robert Redford is to receive a lifetime achievement award from New York's Film Society of Lincoln Centre. The 77-year-old's career highlights will be celebrated at a gala in the city next April. The society, which organises the annual New York Film Festival, said that Redford's "impact is hard to measure in many ways".

Redford was a heart-throb a minute ago. What happened? And how come his hair looks younger than his face?

Monty Python star John Cleese has said new television comedy pales into insignificance compared with the greats, such as Buster Keaton. The 74-year-old said the amount of "brilliant new stuff" today is "small" and he has seen most of it before. Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Cleese added: "When you've been doing comedy for as long as me, you really know most of the jokes."

I've never thought Cleese was all that funny, to be honest. But I do like a man who titles his memoir, 'So, anyway...' Hehe. And I feel the same about modern comedy as he does. I've seen it all before. And I increasingly find myself guessing the punch line of jokes long before the joke ends. However, I did find one comment from a GN the other day amusing. The thread was about traditional Muslim dress and face coverings such as the burqa. One GN said there was a Muslim girl working at his local Hungry Jacks and that she wore traditional head dress. So someone piped up with The Burqas Are Better At Hungry Jacks.

Now lemme think. I was at a friend's house back in the  '80s and I was doubled-up with laughter watching some movie. What was it? Oh yes... The Party with Peter Sellers. What a hoot! I've seen him in other shows including The Pink Panther but wasn't all that impressed. But his role in The Party was pure genius. Never laughed so much in all my life... and I'm talking belly laughs. I also found him very funny in an interview with Michael Parkinson. Sellers had promised to be interviewed on the show but reneged on the day or the day before. The show went to air live, and Parkinson was desperate to get him to change his mind. He contacted Sellers and asked him what the problem was. Sellers replied that he was afraid to appear on telly as himself... that he was far too boring and uninteresting to be interviewed. So, in a flash of inspiration, Parkinson suggested Sellers come as his favorite character. That did the trick, and Sellers turned up as a German soldier from WWII. He was a riot! And had me in stitches, as well as Parkinson.

I'm a bit like that myself. I let my fingers do the talking. The personality that emerges via my fingers at the keyboard is far less inhibited than the bloke "behind the scenes". I'm like that in front of a microphone too. I go into performance mode hehe. Otherwise I'm about as thrilling as cold porridge.

Writing is great therapy for me. It's like taking my other self for a walk in the fresh air before he's locked up again. Come to think of it, I'm not really sure who's the real me... the quiet, reserved one who keeps to himself most of the time or the one who's let loose every day on a blank page. Maybe other people do something similar with music or painting or some other artistic pursuit. It's the kinda thing that rescues you from being alone and bored. For me it's a form of communication but on my own terms. I've got the floor.

I suppose it's all about carving "I was here" on a tree; a form of Attention Deficit Disorder hehe. Dozen madder. Just as long as it keeps the kid amused. Gary

October 12, 2014. Speaking of steam (I mentioned it yesterday), there was a great show on SBS telly last night about two bearded blokes in the UK travelling around England on motorcycles in search of old steam engines that need restoration. They checked out a restored steam loco that was part of the original fleet used in the London Tube - Metro 1, with its burgundy and black paintwork polished to a mirror shine, and brass fittings gleaming. The Tube was celebrating its 150th anniversary and I was fascinated to learn that the underground railway system was originally designed to accommodate steam engines. Air vents were placed at appropriate intervals to allow the smoke to escape.

The guys were also involved with static factory steam engines, giants of things, some of which hadn't been fired up for many decades, and needed serious refurbishment. One was in a coal mine and what a majestic thing it was, especially when they got it working; huffing and puffing, and driving its enormous fly wheel. The grandfather of one of the bearded guys worked at the coal face all his life as a miner in the old days, so they allowed the grandson to re-create the scenario by descending 400 feet to the shaft and using a pick to chip away at the face. He was on his back after crawling into a small space to collect a few samples as a keepsake. I was suffering serious claustrophobia just watching the screen!

These days we press a button to start an engine instantly. But not back in the old days. No way. It took six hours to fire up a steam engine hehe. I remember the volunteers working on a vintage steam loco visiting Taree one time, and they were saying that it took several hours to get the loco ready to roll. However, there is absolutely nothing to rival the living, breathing sound of a puffing billy as it slowly draws away from the station and gathers speed, eventually choofing its way magically through the countryside with smoke billowing from its chimney. What a sight!

One of the old workmen involved in the restoration of a boiler said tradesmen in the old days were never in a hurry to build anything. Quality of workmanship was their main priority, and if it took a lot of time, so be it. The reason for that was that everything was built to last at least a century!

Recently, I posted Steve W's impressions of living in the UK and US, and then OR Richie's as well as my own feelings about Oz. Here's what OH Jim has to say about living in the good ol' USA: I'm very happy and grateful that I was born and live in the USA. Would not trade it for anything. And I lived a year in Turkey, and traveled some in Europe, so I have something to base it against. I would say the same about OZ , or SA if I lived there all my life. Maybe because we drive on the correct side of the road that makes the difference LOL. I was in the Bahamas for a vacation and riding in the airport bus to the hotel scared the holy crap out of me ( I don't have any unholy crap), when I first saw the traffic coming towards us on the wrong side of the road. I had instant ice in my stomach!!! I couldn't watch out the front all the way to the hotel. Eventually I sorta got use to it. I refused to get a rental car that week we were there. I didn't trust myself.

Habits die hard, yes? Some of the Aussies on the GN forum have rented motorhomes in the US and not had a problem (apparently) but I reckon it would take a bit of getting used to driving on the "other" side of the road. By the same token, if the steering wheel is on the left side of the cab, maybe driving on the right side comes naturally. Dunno. Had to be there, I guess.

The big fright here is Ebola. One guy in Texas has it, and everyone else is spazzing. They temporarily quarantined and entire airliner flight .. crew and passengers .. because a passenger got sick and was in Africa. They later released the plane when they figured out that the guy was ok. So far there was 1,500 false cases reported with no one really having it.

Same situation here. A nurse returned to Oz recently from working in Africa with ebola patients and became ill. She was quarantined and tested but proved to be free of the virus. She'll remain in quarantine for a second test just to make sure. Authorities say if the ebola outbreak in Africa is not contained soon, it will become another HIV situation. I knew a couple of guys back in the '80s who died of AIDS. It was a disease that affected almost everybody one way or another. This is the AIDS commercial that ran on Oz TV back in '87 - The Grim Reaper.

Reading books is not something I do a lot. Make that rarely. Too many distractions and a short attention span. So the other day I took GR down to PJ for something to do and read the first couple of chapters. The next time I went, I read a couple more. And just now, another couple. So it seems that sitting in PJ is conducive to reading, for some reason. Actually, it started a few weeks ago when I took the prospecting mag that came with the nugget down to PJ and found myself reading the thing cover to cover. Maybe reading is something I'll do often on the Odyssey to pass the time. It's cheap, educational, portable and requires no power or signal.

Well, back from a little top-up shopping. For a long time, I've been wondering what to replace my old drinking habit with. Actually, I was more of a sipper than a drinker - it gave me something to do while sitting here tapping away on the keyboard. A smoothie was no good cos it disappeared in few minutes. You can't sip on smoothies all day. Or coffee, or tea. Snacks like fruit puree and yoghurt are the same... gone in a few minutes. There's only so much chocolate you can nibble. I needed something long lasting that wouldn't fill me up. Soooooo, today I spotted barley sugar. Now I've changed from a sipper to a sucker. Mmmm!

I can't drink wine because of my dry mouth. Nor soft drink. But this barley sugar is no problem. In fact, it stimulates saliva, so it's kinda like having a drink. And it tastes good! Gotta take care not to allow the thing to slide down the screech and choke me though. It's a bloody slippery bugger. As well as the barley sugar (I haven't had that stuff for donkey's years!), for a bit of variety, I bought fruit drops as well, a similar kind of hard candy you can suck for ages.

So there ya go... something to keep me amused as I write. Also, the stimulation of saliva seems like it might be an unexpected bonus healthwise! Mmmmm! Just popped a lemon one.

From the Beeb: The UN special envoy on Ebola says he hopes that the outbreak can be brought under control within three months. David Nabarro told the BBC the number of Ebola cases was currently increasing exponentially, but greater community awareness would help contain the virus. People were becoming aware that isolating those infected was the best way to prevent transmission, he added. So far, there have been more than 8,300 confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola, and at least 4,033 deaths. Most fatalities - 4,024 - have occurred in the west African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Cases have also been reported in Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the US.

The situation in Kobane in northern Syria remains "dangerous" says US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel. Fighting between Islamic State militants and Kurdish defenders continues, with more than 500 people reported dead in a month of conflict. Mr Hagel said that US-led airstrikes had made progress against the militants, but they still occupied areas on the town's outskirts. The fight against IS in Syria and Iraq would be a long-term effort, he said. US aircraft have bombed IS positions as Kurdish fighters cling on to the town's vital border crossing with Turkey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered thousands of troops stationed near the Ukrainian border to return to their bases, Russian media report. Mr Putin's spokesman said about 17,600 soldiers on training exercises in the Rostov region would be pulled back. The latest order comes ahead of a planned meeting between Mr Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday.

Well, seems the fruit drops have too much acid or whatever and affect my dry mouth the same as wine and soft drink does. So they can hit the bin. The barley sugar works well, so I'll stick to that. And don't worry about my teeth falling out. It won't happen.

Well, well, well, I just Googled barley sugar to see if there was any health benefit and found this: In more recent times, oncologists recommend the consumption of citrus flavoured Barley Candy for their chemotherapy patients. Patients find it helpful in relieving the dry mouth and metallic taste which are common conditions resulting from their chemotherapy treatment. So there ya go! The full article is here.

And that's a wrap. Same station, same time, tomorrow. Hooroo! Gary

October 11, 2014. Another weekend! Dunno why I'm saying that really cos OR Richie and OH Jim work weekends and I don't work at all. The most important day to me now is every second Thursday when the government puts a bunch of numbers into my bank account.

Guess what I had with the ham with last night? I didn't wanna mention it yesterday cos I thought OMG! they're all gonna think the poor old fart has lost his marbles, gone troppo, that he's broke and desperate. BUT it was delicious. Baked beans, ladies and genitals. I had the chopped ham with baked beans in tamaaaaata sauce. I can admit it now hehe. I don't feel bad about it at all. Some time ago I tried to swallow baked beans crushed with a fork and couldn't get them past the tonsils. But it's not a problem now, so something is improving. BBs rule! And the ham works well too, especially with a dollop of salsa mixed through.

Of course the really big news is that OH Jim's mate Zach has a new tie to match his g/f's dress for the school Home Coming Dance. Yeah? Remember Cody's prom, and Steph looking like a princess, and Mark looking like a teen James Bond? And the limo that drove them to the ball? What a night that was. But despite all the glitz and glam, those kids couldn't wait to ditch their flash clobber at the beach for a midnight skinny dip. Kids can only remain civilized for short periods, ya know.

Back to venomous creatures of the slithering kind, Jim wanted to know if Steve Irwin was killed by a snake or a shark. The latter is closer. It was a sting ray. Irwin was swimming above it when it freaked and lashed out with its tail. A photographer bloke I know who specializes in underwater photography reckons you NEVER swim above a ray in a manner that could be deemed threatening. Like any animal that feels cornered, it will attack.

As to Steve W's impressions of the UK, US and Oz yesterday, OR Richie commented: Living in the US. Being born, raised, and working here... I guess it is what it is. There is no egotistical feeling of great love or that we're at the top of the global heap because "we" are by no means at the top and I basically have more emotional longing for other places. The whole southern African scene seems in almost every way to feel more natural than life stateside.

Richie has a thing about big cats and other African wildlife. He's visited Safrica a couple of times and loves it. As to patriotism, I'm not overly patriotic towards Oz... not enough to do much flag waving or anthem singing. But I do enjoy being an Aussie and have no desire at all to live anywhere else. I once met a young Pakistani who said, "Pakistanis are the best!" And I thought, big deal. Best at what? Another time a young Chinese bloke told me China was a great country. Oh, really? Congratulations. I really don't understand all that chest-beating business... like those silly military parades in North Korea with a sea of goose-stepping robots. Even cheerleaders at football matches leave me cold. Maybe I'm not the excitable type.

Yes I am... sometimes. I took the grandson of my landlady in Lismore to a smash-'em-up stock car race at the local showground back in '71. It was raining and the track was slippery. During the race, all the powerful cars spun out of control, smashed into each other and caused all kinds of mayhem. Meanwhile, the one and only little Beetle in the race quietly went about the business of completing each circuit without mishap, avoiding the tangled wreckage of the bigger cars until, at the end of the final lap, it beetled across the line victorious. Hehe. And there I was, the only one in the crowd standing, waving my arms all over the place and cheering myself hoarse.

Interesting story on telly last night about a reunion of rowing champions 58 years after they competed in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Oz. In all that time, they've remained life long friends. One of them, a Japanese man, said his team was very worried at the time because it was only 11 years after the end of WWII, and they were expecting a less than friendly reception. But that wasn't the case, and they were welcomed with open arms. What's more, friendships formed with the rest of the teams and they've all been mates ever since. Nice story, yes?

From the Beeb: Police in a small Alaska town mistakenly told a couple their son had been killed in a car accident, leading to a joyous scene just hours later. In Palmer on Thursday, at about 03:00 an officer told Karen and Jay Priest their son Justin, 29, had been killed. The devastated couple drove to Justin Priest's girlfriend's home to inform her, when he greeted them at the door.

Australia's PM Tony Abbott has said he wants visa rules tightened so preachers of extremist ideologies will be refused entry into the country. He said the proposed legal amendments would also make it a crime to "promote terrorism" in Australia and make it easier to ban extremist groups. Australia has been on high alert for terrorist attacks and has conducted anti-terror raids in recent weeks. It has joined a US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

War has always spurred technological change, but in the early months of World War I a whole new way of fighting emerged: from the air. A century ago this month, two French airmen made history by becoming the first to shoot down an enemy aircraft. Within weeks, the first rudimentary aircraft carriers were taking shape, planes took to the night skies to bomb enemy targets, and the first fighter planes began stalking the skies above the trenches – and as Stephen Dowling discovers, it all happened within the space of six months

I heard on radio this morning that once the technology used in super computing filters down to regular home use it'll make the computers we're using now seem pathetic. And that will happen in about 2020. Amazing, isn't it? It took tens of thousands of years to get to the steam age and the industrial revolution, and then POW! Technology took off on steroids. 100 years ago we were in the air and 60 years later we were on the moon! The mind boggles at what the world might be like by the end of this century. That's if humanity hasn't obliterated itself.

Here's an interesting story about a bloke's Australia-wide search for old nitrate film, the stuff used to make movies back in the old days. His mission was to find material and donate it to the national archive for the preservation of our national film heritage. Priceless treasures were found in cupboards, old sheds, on a garbage tip and all kinds of unlikely places. But the most enjoyable part, according to the bloke, was travelling all over Oz and meeting all kinds of interesting people. Sound familiar?

And that's a wrap, boils and goils. Time to put away the books and pencils (remember that at school?) and file out of the classroom (in an orderly fashion, of course). Gary

October 10, 2014. So Oz is the best country in the world to live, according to the OECD in a Beeb report yesterday. Coincidentally, Steve W wrote: Well we are no longer in Ye Olde - we came back to Carol’s place in CA after a couple of months in the UK. We had planned to move there as Carol has an elderly Mother and Sister with 3 children still living there but after our time there, England has changed so much and none for the better so we are considering our other options which are either the US or back to Oz (which would be my preference) but we shall see. I honestly don’t feel comfortable in the US and cannot put my finger on it……it's just so different and just a bit odd. Also the current affairs on both TV and radio is appalling - it is nothing like Oz and I think they work on the “mushroom” policy. Miss the ABC on TV and radio. Still getting used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road…..again, what is wrong with this country!

Homesick? Or spoiled? I can't really comment on Steve's impressions of the UK and US cos I've never lived in another country. Or even visited. But I do know that all my US friends seem happy to be living in the States. On the other hand if I had a dollar for every Aussie returning from a trip overseas saying this is the best country in the world I'd be a zillionaire.

Because of IS and the problems in the Middle East, the focus in Oz is on Muslim migrants even though they are a very small minority. So it's interesting to look at the total number of migrants to Oz, and where they come from. Scroll down for the percentage table.

Well, after all the discussion about solar panels, it looks like TX Greg and I agree: Yeah, replacing the old panel with a newer bigger wattage and reusing the old brackets would be the best choice. I can't remember if you have taken a pic of the roof with the solar panel, but what I also meant yesterday about a "smooth surface" is I think your roof metal (like the side walls) has a pattern surface...  Not that easy trying to stick something that large to all those dips and valleys.

My step ladder isn't tall enough to see the roof, and my extendable ladder is locked away in a storage bin. It's on the garden side of the drive so it's a bother to get it out. In any case, reusing the existing brackets to install a 200watt semi flexible, framed panel (as opposed to solar film) is the way to go.

Here's what OH Jim had to say: In addition to solar, maybe you ought to investigate getting a small Honda generator. Yeah, it's not green, and you have to buy gas for it, but you can use it when it's dark . Maybe build it into PJ, and use the gas from the tank? It maybe cheaper than all those solar panels. Greg is right about flat surfaces and your roof. Also, if you have not done so already, convert all you lights to LEDs. They are much more efficient, and draws a lot less power. You probably already did that, but it is worth mentioning.

Cheaper than solar? Honda generators cost the earth! In any case, many campers frown on the noise, and there are camp sites that won't allow them, or have separate areas for them. In any case, my generator is under the hood - PJ's engine. It charges the battery(s) when running. If the battery(s) are getting a bit low, they can be topped up by running the engine on idle for half an hour. Yep, the interior house lights are LED - main and bed areas. There's a small twin florescent too but that won't be used much.

I missed the eclipse... we had solid overcast and rain that night. But last night, the sky was clear, and driving home from Kentucky, the full moon was really huge. It was really spectacular. It was sitting right at eye level as I came off the big hill and down into the Ohio River valley ( the "Cut in the Hill"). It was sitting right above the city. really cool.

I had a similar experience only once in my life, driving along a main road. On the horizon was the full moon rising... a huge ball (magnified by the atmosphere). Oh for a camera! Photographic opportunities to capture something like that will present themselves on the Odyssey, I hope, being outdoors in the bush much of the time.

From the Beeb: University students are being urged to urinate in the shower in a bid to save water. The Go with the Flow campaign is the brainchild of students Debs Torr and Chris Dobson, from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich. They want the university's 15,000 students to take their first wee of the day while having their morning shower. Mr Dobson, 20, said the idea could "save enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool 26 times". Can you imagine busting for a pee but having to wait till you're undressed and the shower warms up before letting go?

What would happen if humans became extinct? A look into what would happen if a doomsday event killed every human on the planet.

After posting my thread about leeches the other day on the prospecting forum, which attracted a number of horror stories, another member posted a thread about snakes. Eeek! It's attracted 3 pages of comments so far, with some stories that make leeches seem harmless. Well, apart from dining on your blood, they are. Not snakes though. It's spring and they're out and about in great profusion after hibernation looking for a mate as well as sunning themselves. Normally, snakes keep to themselves and avoid contact with humans if possible. But if a person stumbles across one accidentally, they can become very aggressive, especially territorial snakes and those protecting their young. One of the members said he refuses to go prospecting at this time of year for fear of snakes. Another told of having to lift his legs up to the handle bars of his motorcycle while riding past a coupe of tiger snakes that tried to strike as he sped by at 90km/h. One quoted a newspaper during the gold rush days of the 19th century in Victoria that published a tally of fatal snake bites that averaged about six a week before prospectors began to take precautionary measures.

I don't know a helluva lot about snakes but enough to be aware of bulky leaf litter, long grass or undergrowth, piles of dead wood, discarded sheet metal, hollow logs, wetlands (where frogs abound) and any place that looks suspicious. If you come across a snake, freeze, then back off slowly, avoiding any sudden movements. It's also a good idea to make plenty of noise if you're walking through country where you think snakes might be active. Hearing you coming gives them an opportunity to take evasive action before you arrive.

One prospector said he doesn't fear snakes. He's prepared to leave them alone if they leave him alone and, so far, he reckons they've kept their side of the bargain.

(Wikipedia) The estimated incidence of snakebites annually in Australia is between 3 and 18 per 100,000 with an average mortality rate of 0.03 per 100,000 per year. Between 1979 and 1998 there were 53 deaths from snakes, according to data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Between 1942 and 1950 there were 56 deaths from snakebite recorded in Australia. Of 28 deaths in the 1945-49 period, 18 occurred in Queensland, 6 in New South Wales, 3 in Western Australia and 1 in Tasmania. The majority of snake bites occur when people handle snakes in an attempt to relocate or kill them.

Roite, time to flee. That ham last night was yummy! So I'll have it again tonight. Gary

October 9, 2014. Where's Gary? He's at the dental clinic. Oh... again? Deja Vu. Scoo boo be doo.

Years ago, I drove TT out to Ellenborough Falls, a couple of hours from here, and was attacked by leeches. Those things are soooo aggro! I found one under my shirt when I got home, and another in my shoe. So I promised myself that I would never go bushwalking in rainforest again, especially in summer when it's humid. But it occurred to me that panning and fossicking for gold might involve getting mixed up with the bloodthirsty critters as well, so I posted the question on the prospecting forum. Sure enough, lots of peeps posted horrific stories of armies of the damn things on the rampage. There's a product called Bushmans that you spray on boots and clothing that works well but I'd rather not be a temptation in the first place. I might stick to dry creek beds and deal with the blowies instead.

BACK! The waiting room was full and Andries was running late. So he did his thing and bundled me out the door.

I posted a question about flexible solar panels on the GN forum's techie section and got a few interesting results.

Meanwhile, TX Greg had this to say: Hehe, if you had just scrolled down the ebay page to the specs, there was your answer..."In order to charge a 12 V battery with this solar panel you will need to use a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) style regulator with a rating of at least 14 Amps."

I saw that but I don't really understand what it means. I already have a regulator but I have no idea if it's MPPT or what. I know that the battery is fully charged and reading 14v though.

My big concern is your roof is not a good true smooth clean surface that the adhesive could get a good grip. I'm afraid you would be seeing that flying off in your rear view mirror at some point. Most all RVs now have rubber roof systems instead of metal. The rubber is glued down to wood decking. I've seen brand new and older units where they might miss getting the glue and trim secure and just one little pencil point open gap in the wind will cause that rubber to billow up and start ripping off the roof going down the freeway. Same thing happened on cars back when they had vinyl tops.

My last Valiant had a vinyl roof and it never budged in the 4 years I had it, and it was already 5 years old. But I take your point, Greg.

And here's what OH Jim had to say: Just treat the 24VDC like it was 12VDC and use a power inverter. These are from Amazon. Or you can convert the 24VDC to 12VDC with an isolated DC to DC converter like this one. There are tons of them out there to choose from. The question comes up is what do you have on PJ for storage ... batteries that is. Also you could build our own with a regulator and other parts. There's a lot of circuits that you could copy out on the internet. Watch the current that you will draw though. That isn't too hard to figure out.

Storage? At the mo, 1 x 12v deep cycle 105ah battery. But I'm thinking of getting a second. I also have a 300w (max 600w) sine inverter. I don't intend to use any kitchen gadgets like a microwave. Just the TV, laptop, lights,  battery charging for phone, etc. Fridge runs on gas, ditto stove. Meanwhile, I won't be rushing into anything - can't afford it anyway - so I've got plenty of time to consider the options.

From the Beeb: A flaw in cash machines that allows criminals to quickly steal wads of cash has been discovered. Interpol has alerted countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia known to have been targeted - and is carrying out a widespread investigation. Security firm Kaspersky Labs discovered the hack, which is enabled by entering a series of digits on the keypad. Infected cash machines can be instructed to dispense 40 notes at once, without a credit or debit card.

A female spectator cheering for a Saudi football team has angered men on social media in the country. Over 900 people have commented on the clip, most of them angry men, critical of the unidentified woman for being in a stadium filled with thousands of men. "Women aren't interested in football, so why go to a stadium to watch a live match?" wrote one. "Does this woman not have a man? Her place is in the house," said another. Many who oppose women being allowed into stadia say it encourages immoral and sinful behaviour. Others say it puts women at risk of being harassed. Fancy that... people from the middle ages using social media.

The Australian Capital Territory of Canberra in Australia is the best place in the world to live, according a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Canberra led the regional ranking while Australia topped the overall country rankings, followed by Norway. The OECD ranked 362 regions of its 34 member nations in its survey. It used nine measures of wellbeing, including income, education, jobs, safety, health and environment. Five Australian cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Perth were also in the top 10.

I didn't like living in Canberra when I was there but mainly because I'd been hijacked by my ex-biz partner and had to share a house with him and his family. They were okay but he was and is an asshole. Canberra is neat and tidy, well planned, and has an excellent road system but lacks character, I feel. On the poz side, a house is far cheaper in Canberra than either Sydney or Melbourne.

A total lunar eclipse has been visible across much of the Americas and Asia, resulting in a dramatic "Blood Moon". Australian astronomer Geoff Sims watched the event from the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. "The moon is very, very orange, it's very, very obvious," he said. "On the other side of the sky, the Milky Way is starting to appear because the rest of the sky has darkened. It's a very serene, kind of surreal experience actually."

And that's it. More tomorrow. Gary

October 8, 2014. Mieke wrote some nice things about me and my ability to face adversity with a positive attitude. That got me to thinking about "things that go wrong". They don't go wrong. They just don't go according to plan. And what is a plan? It's a thing in your head. Other than that, it doesn't exist. So I reckon life is like a river. Sometimes ya just gotta take the long way around if ya wanna git where ya wanna git.

Anyway, what's the alternative to a positive attitude? In my book, there is no alternative.

There were times when Cody was dealing with a major issue that I felt helpless. Email was all I had. Then I saw something on telly - can't remember what the program was - but it was about raising teens and the frustrations involved when it's important (as a mentor) to keep your distance. There's only so much you can do before it becomes intrusive. Anyway, I'll never forget what the mother of a problem teen said, "The most important thing you can do is to be there for them." And that proved to be true many times during my friendship with Cody. He told me one day that he "carried me around in his head". Hehe. So I was always there for him. That put my mind at rest.

I suspect it also put Cody's mind at rest, knowing there was always one person he could confide in, one person he could trust with his innermost thoughts and concerns, one person who was prepared never to judge him. That level of trust didn't happen overnight, though. After the rape, Cody blamed himself. His greatest concern was that he had "let me down". At first he was reticent to tell me about it, fearing that I would be disappointed in him. So he hinted from time to time that he had a deep and dark secret he wanted to share with me, but was afraid to. So I answered by saying that he was free to tell me when he felt the time was right, and not before. Or not at all, if he so chose. So there was no pressure. When he did finally tell me all about it, I treated him exactly the same as before, with the same respect, the same affection, the same humor. He was still my hero as far as I was concerned. But the thing he appreciated most about my response was saying "don't start over, just carry on from where you left off..." In other words, shit happens. Don't allow that bastard to change who you are. I didn't allocate blame, and I didn't overdo the sympathy. I treated the rape as I thought Cody should treat it. And he did.

OH Jim wants to know how I can be sure the guy driving the Yank Tank wanted to race my Beetle. I just know, that's how. I can still see him in the distance in my rear view mirror, gaining on the straights. He may not have thought about racing when he first saw me. He would have figured a race between his YT and a little Bug was a no contest anyway. But when that little green machine kept disappearing from sight, despite the YT's power and speed, he would have gotten the message loud and clear hehe.

In the summer of 1967 or 68... 67 I think... My long-time friend Jerry and I volunteered to do Ham radio communications with a local Ham club for an SCCA road rally. Our job was to man a check point on a really hairy road. It was almost straight up and down, with a lot of switchbacks. Jer and I flipped a coin, and I won, so I was driving my 66 Corvair Monza and he ran the radios. Our job was to radio in the car numbers to net control and stamp a card they carried. Their times were recorded at our check point and by net control.

So no problem, I thought. We were on our way to the check point and it dawned on us that there was a competitor RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. It was a 911 and he was honking on pretty good through all the switchbacks. I just hung on his tail, really tight. it was no big deal... I wasn't trying very hard. It was just easy to do. When we got to the check point (it was marked with a sign), he stopped suddenly and I swerved to his right and slid to a stop in the gravel on the side of the road. As I jumped out to grab his card, the driver was leaning over his navigator and I heard him scream.. " Jesus Christ and it's an automatic!!!!!! " as he did a double take.

At that time, I still looked like I was 13 or 14, even though I was 19 or so. The navigator asked me how old I was and in an evil moment I said 16 and I just got my driver's license last week. They were probably in their 40s or 50s. They never said another word. Jerry handed the card to them and they took off. The navigator was shaking his head back and forth as they went around another curve and out of sight. LOL . That whole exchange took less time than it took you to read this. LOVE IT. It's driving moments like that, and your Vee-Wee road race, that you never forget, and brings a smile to your face every time you think of it.

Lucky we've still got a face, mate. How kids manage to survive beyond their teens is a miracle.

From the Beeb: The US-led coalition has carried out its most sustained air attacks so far on Islamic State fighters attacking the Turkey-Syria border town of Kobane. Syrian Kurdish fighters said the strikes were the most effective yet but should have come much earlier. Correspondents said the surge of IS appeared to have been halted.

A total lunar eclipse will be visible across much of the Americas and Asia in the coming hours. The eclipse starts at 08:00 GMT (04:00 EDT), reaching totality just before sunrise at 10:25 GMT (06:25 EDT). During the eclipse - which is the second to occur this year - our only natural satellite will be fully covered by the Earth's shadow. The Moon will appear orange or red, the result of sunlight scattering off our atmosphere, hence the name Blood Moon. Weather permitting, skywatchers in in North America, Australia, western South America and parts of East Asia will be able to see the spectacle. Weather here is cloudy. Drat!

The 2014 Nobel Prize for physics has been awarded to a trio of scientists in Japan and the US for the invention of blue light emitting diodes (LEDs). Professors Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura made the first blue LEDs in the early 1990s. This enabled a new generation of bright, energy-efficient white lamps, as well as colour LED screens. The winners will share prize money of eight million kronor (£0.7m).

Ya never know what technological change is waiting just around the corner. Last night on telly there was a news story about a drug extracted from a berry that grows in a particular place in Queensland that kills surface melanoma. And it's quick! It destroys the cancer cells in just days. R&D, dear Breth. Where would we be without R&D?

There was another story the other night about distilling eucalyptus oil from Aussie gum trees, still being done the old fashioned way by a family company using an ancient steam engine. Eucalyptus oil is used in all kinds of products from disinfectants to cosmetics to toothpaste. Isn't Nature wonderful? Native flora is a veritable mine of pharmaceuticals, most of which are probably yet to be discovered.

However, I learned the other night that a substance found in the anal scent glands of the beaver is used in the manufacture of aspirin. Eeeek! Hopefully, the same substance can be sourced elsewhere hehe. Beaver scent glands were also used in the manufacture of perfumes... eau de badger bum. Sheesh! I can't help wondering if the substance was discovered by a badger bum-sniffer. "Hey, pilgrim, take a sniff of this!" said the hunter holding a beaver aloft by the tail. "I think I've discovered something here!"

And what about cochineal? The crimson dye used to coat red chocolate candy such as M&Ms or Smarties, and used as a coloring for lipsticks? Cochineal is made from carminic acid extracted from a parasitic scale insect. Ew! You have to wonder who the hell discovered cochineal. Maybe some woman grinding flour with a mortar and pestle when a bug or two crawled in.

I'm certainly chatty today aren't I. I really should attend to a few chores in the kitchen before it's too late.

Roite, that's the smoothie done, and the spud is on the boil. Aren't I clever? I'll have mash and spinach with the last of the chicken tonight. Ham tomorrow night. Chop, chop, chop. Some meats are better chopped finely than whizzed in the whizzer.

Speaking of whizzing, which I'm about to do, but not before this - I've long been thinking about adding an extra solar panel to the roof of PJ (and probably a second battery). The panels are fairly cheap but the cost of installation is not. You need a frame screwed onto the roof, waterproofing, yadda, yadda. UNLESS you use a flexible panel. Check this out on eBay. It has an adhesive backing, so you just stick it on. Too easy. Not sure about 24v and other specs, and how that might affect PJ's 12v setup. Maybe TX Greg knows. One thing I've heard though is that stick-on panels get very hot because there's no air circulation. Dunno whether that's an issue or not. Anyway, something to think about. Gary

October 7, 2014. How big is Uluru? It's difficult to gauge because it sits on a massive desert plain, so here's a graphic posted by one of the GNs on the forum that compares it to various structures famous around the world. I understand from what I've read that 2/3rds of Uluru is beneath the earth. That's a bloody big rock! The world's largest monolith, actually. It must be quite awe inspiring to see it in the "flesh".

My Red Bubble mate Mieke wrote a piece about it being the 5th anno of her time on RB. In that time she has sold well over 800 prints, calendars and other items. Wow! But she takes the whole merchandising thing seriously. She also has her own stall at the local markets and sells her stuff from there. I hope to do something similar when I get myself organized on the road and assemble a decent portfolio of stuff from my travels. Mieke is the single most influential photographer I know in terms of my own education, and has taught me a lot just by posting her work. I've yet to put most of the knowledge I've gleaned into practice but I'll get there. Photography will be part of the daily routine once I'm "out there".

OH Jim still thinks the Citroen is ugly: Your SM won the Motor Trend car of the Year in 1972, not 74. The Mustang II won in 74, which speaks volumes about the picks for Car of the Year. Some of their picks leave me shaking my head. Like the Mustang II. It was built on a Pinto chassis and I remember it being a slug. The only thing good about the Mustang II was that it kept the mark alive through some dark days, and many Mustang IIs became donor cars for their front suspension, which in its day was very good.

My SM? Hello? Am I missing something here? I guess some cars are a bit like anchovies. You either love 'em or hate 'em.

As for my 68 Mustang ( same model as your nephew's 67) handling like "wet dog", well all I have to say is a wet dog will kick a Vee-Wee's butt every day. :) I've driven the 68 since 1970, and I maintain it. Like any car, if maintenance is deferred (polite for saying ignored), the performance degrades. Who knows what condition the nephew's 67 was in...

It's the lino that's wet, Jim, not the dog. Do you have lino over there? Short for linoleum (precursor to vinyl flooring). But you're right about a big V8's ability to kick a Vee Wee's butt. If the race between my Beetle and the YT had been on the new Pacific Hwy I wouldn't have seen it for dust. It was the mountains and tight corners that gave me the edge. I was warned early in the piece that if you barrel into a tight bend in second gear in a Beetle (the early models with rear wheels that collapsed inwards when off the ground), never take your foot off the accelerator while cornering. Otherwise you'd lose track width and the car would flip. I remember them saying after I bought my first Beetle in '65 that if I was still alive in 6 months I'd be a good driver. Hehe.

Jim also says the interior appointments and creature comforts of his '68 Mustang are "farm tractorish" compared to later versions. Reminds me of my older bro's '55 Customline. It was such a departure from the plush upholstery common to cars of the late '30s and early '40s with their stitched leather seating and felt hood lining. The Customline had acres of cheap looking vinyl with molded artificial "stitching" that gave the car a bland emptiness (promoted as spaciousness). Gone were the timber-look window surrounds and door-sill cappings, replaced by large areas of glass and a wrap-around windscreen. It was like riding in an empty bus.

Modern cars and their feature-crammed cockpits are a far cry from those of the 50s and 60s. Bench seats that accommodate three abreast are gone, thank god. However, PJ has a bench seat - licensed to carry three peeps, two tradies and a skinny apprentice. The extra space is handy for my purposes.

From the Beeb: Islamic State (IS) militants have entered the key Syria-Turkey border town of Kobane and taken control of three districts after street-to-street fighting with Syrian Kurd defenders. IS fighters entered the eastern districts on Monday, raising their black flag on buildings and hills. Local officials said about 2,000 civilians fled to the Turkish border. Taking Kobane, besieged for three weeks, would give IS control of a long stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border. Bloody determined lot.

The US Supreme Court has rejected appeals against gay marriage in five states - Indiana, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin. The move increases the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal to 30, plus the District of Columbia. By declining to hear the appeals, the court left intact lower court rulings that had struck down those state bans. Support for gay marriage in the US has gained momentum since the Supreme Court delivered two landmark rulings in 2013.

Car enthusiasts in Mexico City have set a new Guinness World Record for the largest parade of classic cars. A total of 1,721 vintage vehicles drove down the city's main avenue during a four hour-long procession. About 250,000 spectators watched the parade, which broke the previous record of 948 cars set in Holland.

The Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine has been awarded to three scientists who discovered the brain's "GPS system". UK-based researcher Prof John O'Keefe as well as May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser share the award. They discovered how the brain knows where we are and is able to navigate from one place to another. Their findings may help explain why Alzheimer's disease patients cannot recognise their surroundings.

Bees are very good at navigating. They can calculate their position by knowing where the sun is in relation to their hive, or the position of a new nectar find communicated by other bees returning home. It takes one bee an entire lifetime to produce one teaspoon of honey.

For those scared of heights, the Eiffel Tower's new floor may be something of a challenge. Visitors will be able to look down on Paris through a glass floor as part of a refurbishment of the tower. Claudia Redmond reports.

What’s happening inside your pizza as it cooks? Food scientists have gone to surprising lengths to find out, says Veronique Greenwood. And in the video above, BBC Future peers inside a restaurant oven to show why not all mozzarella cheese is the same.

Oh, I shouldn't have read that story. PIZZA! How I miss my pizza! Grrrr. Averil and I used to share a take-away thin and crispy supreme with double topping every Cheap Chewsday. Averil would tuck into an apple crumble as well. Sometimes there'd be a long queue at Eagle Boys and I'd be late getting back, so I'd let myself in and there would be Av sitting at the dining room table with her plate and cutlery all ready for me to plonk her half of the pizza in front of her. Then I'd have to let myself out as well while she got stuck into her dinner.

Just received a scam email from someone purporting to be GM saying that 29 million GM vehicles are being recalled because of accidents involving death and/or injury, and giving a bogus 877 number to call, or a bogus email address to contact. Yeah, right. Bloody crooks will try anything. No logo, no name, and the attached list of vehicles is all American. Dickhead.

Well, almost time to vamoose. Meanwhile, we can all thank our lucky stars we don't live in the Middle East. The closest we get to it is on our TV screens when the news is on. I think it was Einstein who said, "There are only two things that are eternal - the universe, and the stupidity of humanity. And I'm not sure about the universe." Gary

October 6, 2014. Mondee... Labor Day and a long weekend in Oz, which means my dental appointment is tomorrow morning instead of today. Say Ahhhhh! Again? How dreary.

More on the Citroen and two opposing points of view. OR Richie thinks it's cool: So a pretty cool shot and picture collection of the very famous Citroen. It was dubbed the SM in this country as well and the press here dubbed it the Citroen "Super Machine" because... it pretty well was at the time, and still is from an engineering view. That lovely Maserati engine. The cool sleek looks; hydropneumatic suspension despite the odd looking "brake bubble" which other Cits had, headlamps that turned with the wheel... and oddly enough I believe it made the Motor Trend ( magazine ) "car of the year" in around 74 or so... the year my lass and I graduated from HS... and I think the car has fared pretty well since then !

OH Jim begs to differ: The Citroens were really a butt ugly cars, back in their day. I think a milk truck had better lines than those things. I didn't know that they had a sports version of their French milk truck. Interesting. To think Nuccio Bertone designed it. Jeez. I wonder if he quit after doing just the front of it or what. Or maybe he did the design while in grade school, and the teacher caught him doing it in geography class, and some one else finished the back end? Or maybe they stole the design of the AMC Pacer, and just Frenched it up some. Just goes to prove that even Bertone can have an off day.

Different strokes for different blokes. Jim goes on to say: This is the Bertone 1965 Mustang. His take on the 65 Mustang. He was commissioned to build it. Full story is here : The enduring mystery of the “lost” 1965 Bertone Mustang. Personal opinion is that the real '65 fastback has better lines. At least the Bertone Mustang doesn't look like a French milk truck. More like a Ferrari with a 68 Mercury Cougar grill and a Mustang running horse in the corral. Also a interesting tidbit about Bertone... his nickname was "GARY" !

Well, I've only ridden in a Mustang once. My nephew (like his dad) had a thing about American muscle cars and bought a '67 Mustang some years ago. He took me for a spin in the thing one time and I have to say (I don't really, but I will...) it felt more like a draft horse than a stallion... big and kinda clumsy, with the throb of a lazy V8. There was a saying in those days about Yank Tanks, that they handled like a dog on wet lino.

I've told this story before. Back in the early '70s long before the Pacific Hwy was upgraded to a multi-lane expressway, I was travelling from Lismore to Sydney on a break from my job at radio station 2LM, in my Beetle 1300. It was an 11-hour drive and boring. The road had long stretches of straight, interspersed with tight, windy sections through mountainous country. On one of the straights, I noticed a big Yank Tank in the rear view mirror catching up to me despite the Beetle doing 80mph flat out. "So ya wanna race, do ya? You're on!"

Just before the YT caught me, we arrived at a section of windy road and I lost him. Musta went round those corners on two wheels (I was mid 20s then and nutz). Then we came to another stretch of straight road and I watched the speck in the rear view mirror gradually edging closer to my tail. But before he could overtake, another section of windy road arrived and I lost him again (but not before I saw him struggling like hell to get that monster around a few bends hehe). This went on for quite some time and all the while I managed to stay in front, nudging the little Beetle up to 85mph sometimes. Then we arrived at a town called, wait for it, Taree. It meant nothing to me then... just another town on the way to Sydney. The speed limit dropped to 35mph and the traffic closed in around us. The YT was right behind me in the outside lane until we got into the town CBD. Then he swapped to the inside lane, which was moving a little faster. But before he had a chance to draw alongside me, I snuck the Beetle sideways and into the gap ahead of him with an inch to spare. Cheeky bugger. By then it was too late for him to do anything but remain behind me because we were about to cross the Martin Bridge over the Manning River, and it was only one lane each way. Well, that bloke exploded! He jumped on his flashy two-tone horn and blasted the thing non-stop all the way across the bridge hehe. Talk about pissed off!

So that was the end of the race as far as I was concerned, and I let him go once we'd crossed the bridge. He was still blasting his horn and waving his fist as he passed me. How dare a little Bug beat a V8 YT over 200 miles!!!! I think the YT was a Dodge Phoenix, one of those big mothers with enough room in the trunk to fit a Beetle.

These days I sit on about 100km/h (60-65mph) and have no desire for speed or racing. What's more, I owned 5 Chrysler Valiants over the years and thought they were great cars. And PJ? Well, she's a truck, and trucks are made for work. There's nothing glamorous about PJ at all. However, she does have some cool features, like a fridge, stove, bed, sofa, table, awning (2), cupboards, and solar power. Even a kitchen sink!

From the Beeb: Inside South Africa Whites-Only town. In the sparsely populated Karoo desert in the heart of South Africa's Northern Cape, apartheid lives on. I spent a few days in Orania, one of just a few black people to have set foot in the whites-only town since its establishment in 1991. Part of a BBC crew, including Zimbabwean journalist Stanley Kwenda, we were given permission to visit.

Short men make better husbands, and make up in wisdom what they lack in stature, says self-confessed small man, Adam Gopnik. Just a few weeks ago, an interesting and lengthy paper by a pair of sociologists from New York University made a lot of noise in what I suppose would these days be called the community of short men - a community to which, as it happens, I rather inarguably, one might say entirely, belong.

Well, I'm not short nor am I married, but my guess as to why short men stay happily married longer is that they are more suited to ducking missiles such as rolling pins.

It is a fashion classic that has endured through the decades. But away from catwalk shows and Hollywood glamour, the trench coat's first starring role was in World War One kitting out battle-weary soldiers. From Humphrey Bogart to Audrey Hepburn and Kate Moss, the trench coat is now synonymous with elan and sophistication. Clocking up countless appearances on the silver screen and in the glossy pages of fashion magazines, it is considered a timeless wardrobe essential. But while today it adorns the shoulders of supermodels and celebrities, it seems - despite the heavy clue in its name - its origins in bloody battlefields may be less well-appreciated.

Actor, comic, writer and musician Steve Martin is to be awarded the American Film Institute's life achievement award, its highest honour. Martin, the star of films including 1983's The Man with Two Brains will receive his award in June next year. Sir Howard Stringer, chair of the AFI's board of trustees, said: "He is a multi-layered creative force bound by neither convention nor caution."

Reading the 'on this day in history' thingy on the GN forum I learned about Sydney's first ferry. It was launched when the colony was just 1 year old, and was a tub that travelled between Sydney and Parramatta (then called Rose Hill) on the Parramatta River. The trip took two days. Sheesh! You can do it by train or ferry these days (or car) and it takes less than an hour! Musta been a slow ol' tub that first ferry. Today's Parramatta River ferries are fast river cats.

Speaking of the GN forum, here's a link to Nine Points to Ponder.

And so the third rock from the sun revolves again to bring another Waffle to a close. Been wonderful weather this long weekend for those who are camping and/or holidaying on the Mid North Coast. BBQ'd chicken (whizzed) with veg tonight, and lots of gravy. Then a spot of trifle and a smoothie. But before all that, I'll nibble on some chocolate. Gary

October 5, 2014. There's a couple of Tiger Moths flying around Taree at the mo before they're sent to Iraq to bomb the crap outta IS. No... just kiddin. They were used during WWII to train air force pilots and built to last about 3 years. Here they are over 70 years later still flying. These guys have been involved in a race (they were flying over Sydney yesterday) which ends today in Taree.

Meanwhile, I've been following TX Greg's instructions about deleting Open Office (the one I downloaded recently with a bunch of malware attached) and installing a new clean version. But the old one didn't wanna go and refused to budge, which caused a hiccup with the new version - it refused to fully install. So I used the start button to move the old version from the list there to the recycle bin and got rid of it that way, and installed version 4.1 .1 THEN I discovered MS Word starter on the desktop. I didn't realize I had that! It's a scaled down version of Word but I suppose it's okay. Anyway, now I've got two word processors.

FL Josh wrote: The Citroen SM - Citroen Maserati Coupe, a sports variant of the Citroen DS was made from 1970 to 1975. I saw one in 1971 at the university where I was getting my MBA and I instantly lusted over it. Like the DS, it was truly unique in appearance. Attached is a picture.

Here are links to one for sale with lots of pictures and the link to the Wikipedia page on it.

From the Beeb: The top 10 debuts at the 2014 Paris motor show. All a bit ho hum, if you ask me. Nuttin to get excited about.

Actually, the Beeb is pretty ho hum today except perhaps for this magazine article: Scammers play sophisticated psychological tricks to fool their marks, says Colin Barras, and that means anyone can be vulnerable unless they know what to look for. None of us likes being scammed, and David Modic is no different. But it’s not the fact that scammers try to trick us into handing over our money that bothers him – it’s the way they can rob people of something far more important: their hope.

It's the beginning of Daylight Saving today in case you notice something different. I noticed something different at 6am when Lindsay tossed bottles and recyclable stuff into the empty wheely bin just below my bedroom window. He wanted me to know that he remembered it was daylight saving by disturbing my slumber. He didn't change any of the clocks though. That's my job... apparently. He leaves the complicated technical stuff to me. He gets me to boil his eggs as well.

OH Jim wanted to know if I received the pic of a surf movie he sent yesterday. It's called The Perfect Wave and it's available at Walmart. Yes I did, but I'm not sure why you sent it, Jim. I need to make a distinction here. I'm not a fan of surfing or surfing movies per se. Sure, Cody was a keen surfer, but his interest in surfing and the surfing culture was coincidental. We didn't become friends because he was a surfer but because he was Cody. He could have been a philatelist for all I cared although I have to admit, visions of Cody, Wingnut and Steve roaring down the face of a 15 footer in their floral boardies is a tad more exciting and colorful than arranging stamps in a book. On the other hand, Cody had a talent for making just about anything exciting.

Boxing is another sport that fails to interest me... UNLESS I'm interested in who's involved. The match Mark fought that time Mr T gave him some advice was thrilling. So was the match between Cody and Alan the bully. And the match between Steve and the bully (can't remember his name). I was glued to those descriptions, and felt a thrill each time Mark or Cody or Steve scored a hit. Even the matches between Cody and Mark in the gym before class each morning were entertaining. But, then, so were the characters.

Back in the early '60s the surfing culture was beginning to take off in Oz. But I was from the south west of Sydney - rocker territory with Elvis hairstyles and suped-up FJ Holdens - except that I had long red hair and a '51 Morris Oxford hehe. So I made friends with a group of surfers from the north side, and spent weekends with them cruising the northern beaches - Whale Beach, Bilgola, Avalon, Bungan, Newport, etc. Can you imagine a standard Morris Oxford with surfboards strapped to the roof, driven by a sun burnt nerd who couldn't surf?

Well, lemme tellya, despite the Beach Boys and California Girls and Hollywood's glamorous versions of the surfing culture, the blokes I was hanging with were BORING to the say the least. Nothing special about them at all. A major disappointment. So I returned to rocker territory and be bop alula. The guys there were boring too but at least I didn't have to drive so far.

And then, a zillion years later, the Odd Couple met on line hehe. The Fossil and the Codeman. What a double! The most unlikely duo imaginable.

Oops! DL saving tricked me... it's after 5 but still sunny. I hope my appetite gets used to the change. Gary

October 4, 2014. 9am and I'm still here instead of out at Old Bar for the festival. This damn medication routine of a morning prevents me getting an early start. If I were on location to begin with (like on the Odyssey) it wouldn't be a problem. Bloody pills!

The other thing is having some of my stuff here in the house, and the rest in PJ. Once EVERYTHING is in PJ life will be much easier. Anyway, no point in getting my knickers in a knot so I'll wander out to Old Bar around lunch time. That'll do.

FL Josh wrote: Received a funny video today and tracked down a couple more by the same guy. His name is Fritz Coleman and he has been the weatherman at a NBC TV station in Pasadena, CA for 31 years and does standup comedy on the side.

Fritz Coleman, NBC Weatherman speaking at the 2014 Conference on Aging, Part 2 2014

Conference on Aging Pasadena - Part 1 (skip the first 3:30 as it is just introductions)

Fritz Coleman doing Live Standup at Open Borders 2011 in Thousand Oaks June 4, 2011

Funny thing is, we oldies can laugh about getting older but teens take their stage of life very seriously. Humor is like wine, I suppose, it improves with age.

OH Jim's mate Zach, for example, takes his pizza very seriously: So Zach and I have this major argument going on. On his pizza, he wants green peppers, mushrooms, onion, pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon bits on a traditional crust with provolone cheese. So what the kid won't have is anchovies! That makes the pizza, especially with a swig of very cold beer.

I'm with Zach on that one. Anchovies yuck!

Jim also suggested maybe you can do something for Australian TV similar to what Charles Kurralt did with his "On the Road" series on CBS. While looking him up on Wiki and Google, I found this single sentence that sums up what he did... Charles Kuralt, CBS's folksy “On the Road” correspondent, spent years exploring America's out-of-the-way places in search of oddball stories.

Nah, Jim. That would require deadlines, a schedule, a camera crew and a strict itinerary. Been there, done that. I'll probably do short vids for inclusion in the Odyssey Journal but that's it. I'm too old and pissed off to take orders any more.

Jim also wrote: For not believing in God, well I do. Not that I am religious ... I am not, even with a total education by Roman Catholics... Kindergarten through getting a BS from Xavier University.

My view is simple, Jiminy Jim Jim. If there's a God, no amount of believing or disbelieving will change that. It's when people try to impose their views on others that a problem arises.

Didn't you write somewhere that Cody came to you after he died, and he said to you "now I know more than you do". In dream? I don't remember where you wrote it, in one of your books, but the thought that he is in heaven now is comforting, to say the least. It helps to ease the pain of losing him.

That's one reason some people choose to believe in an after life. Anyway, while Cody resides in our memories, we can't lose him. It's true that we've lost Cody the middle aged man, and Cody the old man, but Cody the teen has been immortalized. Can you imagine Romeo and Juliet as a couple of geriatrics celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary? Or the statue of an ancient David, stooped and fragile as he rests his weight on a walking cane? It would seem that some individuals are better remembered during their prime. Would James Dean have become a cult figure if he'd lived to a ripe old age?

Well, I had a feeling Old Bar would be absolutely chockers and I was right. Couldn't get a park within cooee of the joint. So I didn't even get out of the car. Turned around and came straight back to Taree. I loathe crowds anyway. The really smart thing to do would be to book two nights at the beachside caravan park, which is right in the middle of all the action, at umpteen squillion dollars a night. Yeah, right. There are no other camping spots remotely within walking distance to Old Bar. The caravan park and local motels would kick up a stink if there were.

Back in 2012, I was there for the Kombi Fest and shot this video. It's had over 15,000 hits so far.

Which reminds me, I need a faster laptop to make vids, something with 2.4GHz or better. This 1.66 is way too slow which makes editing a pain. My intention is to make short vids on the Odyssey, preferably using a shot list so that most of the editing is done in my head before the actual shoot. A shot list makes the final edit soooo much easier. However, shooting something like the Kombi Fest is a catch as catch can situation with no particular story line. You just shoot the hell outta whatever's there and worry about editing later.

From the Beeb: A video purporting to show UK hostage Alan Henning being beheaded has been released by Islamic State militants. The Salford taxi driver was delivering aid to Syria in December when he was kidnapped and then held hostage by IS. IS threatened to kill him in footage last month showing the death of Briton David Haines, and in this video they threaten US aid worker Peter Kassig. David Cameron said Britain would do all it could "to hunt down these murderers and bring them to justice". The prime minister said the killing of father-of-two Mr Henning, 47, showed "how barbaric and repulsive" IS was. My sentiments exactly.

Sir Michael Caine is one of the most impersonated men in Britain. In an interview with BBC Newsnight's Stephen Smith, the actor mimics his many impersonators and talks about how his voice has changed over the years. He also agrees that his accent has some similarities with that of former UK Prime Minister John Major.

Beloved of philosophers and presidents alike, the CitroŽn DS caused a sensation when it was launched in 1955. Jonathan Glancey tells the story of a French icon. This week, the Divine DS concept car is launched at the Paris Motor Show. DS are letters that spell “CitroŽn”, as well as Deese – or goddess – loud and clear, and have done so since the mid-1950s when the legendary Citroen DS, one of the most stylish and influential cars ever built, made its debut at the Salon de Paris on 5 October 1955.

OH Jim has expressed his dislike of the Citroen before, and it seems most Yanks agree with him given poor sales in the US. Citroen has never been popular in Oz either, for that matter, but I've always fancied them as well as other French marques such as Peugeot and Renault. I was knee high to an outback blowfly when the DS was introduced but I do remember being fascinated by them. The style was straight out of science fiction, and that self-leveling suspension was a joy to watch as a Citroen reverse parked. The only person I knew who owned and drove a Citroen (I think it was called a Palais) in the early '80s said it was a lovely car but useless to him because he couldn't find anyone to service it. So he sold it after a few months and bought a Holden Statesman V8. That's like ordering filet mignon and then changing the order to pie and chips.

The thing about driving a Citroen DS, though, or having one parked in your drive, is that it ain't just a car. It doesn't blend into a line of traffic like other cars do. There's nothing subtle about a Citroen DS. It screams FRENCH! to anyone within hearing distance. Observers assume you're a French diplomat, or maybe a member of the French mafia (if it's a black one). In any case, they all agree that you must be eccentric. No one other than a Frenchman would drive a Citroen DS on purpose. Except people like me.

It's after 5 now and I've thought a bit more about missing out on the Old Bar Festival. I felt a bit guilty at first... should've arrived earlier and all that baloney. Well, bugger it. Why should I? As previously mentioned, I loathe crowds and traffic jams. There will be other opportunities. As they parlez in Francais, cest la vie. Gary

October 3, 2014. The Old Bar Festival is on again this October long weekend so I'll mosey on out there and point the Nikon at a few attractions - aerobatics, vintage cars, Kombis, bands, carnival rides, surfing and whatnot. Today is absolutely gorgeous, and the forecast is for the same tomorrow and Sunday.

Just now, I received a brief (very) reply to an email I sent to Associate Professor Jonathan Clark, my Sydney head/neck specialist, about the gum job. I let him know about the date of my skin cancers surgery (Oct 15) and that I was available anytime after that. And he replied? OK will sort out a time. There ya go, told ya it was brief hehe. But that means it's a goer. It'll happen. We're not talking maybe here, dear Breth. It's for real. Organizing an operating theater for 10 hours ain't easy though, considering the demand at Royal Prince Albert, so I have no idea  of when the op will be scheduled. I better make sure I got plenty of clean undies cos it could be any time.

Is that exciting? Uh... dunno if exciting is the right word. Major surgery ain't my idea of a good time, nor is a 6 month healing period. But compared to what I've already been through - major operation, radiation, followed by 2 years of being toothless - I figure I can handle round 2, especially with the prospect of a set time line and TEETH!

All along, ever since my teeth were extracted almost 2 years ago, there's been no problem with my upper gum. I could have had a top denture fitted no worries. It's only the lower gum that has exposed bone. So once that's fixed, and fitted with implants, I'll be ready to rock and roll. On the bright side, if my lower gum had healed and I'd been fitted with a bottom denture, it would have flopped around like a hobo's shoe, and been a real pain in the butt. But because it didn't heal, I'm getting implants, which are as good as the real thing. Cool, huh? Maybe OH Jim's mate Zach and I can have a pizza eating competition. The kid loves his pizza and so do I.

BTW, Jim tells me Zach has a new after-school job working for the local Ham radio store, fixing broken trade-ins. He'll be in seventh heaven! That's like giving a dog a job in a boneyard.

Actually, if I had my time over again I reckon I'd like to have studied a trade - maybe carpentry or something similarly useful, instead of becoming a boring clerk. Even quitting office work and becoming an announcer didn't qualify as 'useful' hehe. What good is an ex-spruiker?

OR Richie also wrote to say life is pretty good in his neck of the woods and that he enjoyed the historic auto pics I posted yesterday. I'm always fascinated by candid shots of life back whenever... people crossing the road on their way to work or shopping or whatever it was they were doing that day, oblivious to having been frozen in time for others to gaze at decades or even centuries later.

On the GN forum this morning I read that on this day back in 1902, a newspaper proprietor from Manly (Sydney) announced his intention to go bathing in the ocean during the daylight hours on 2 October 1902. Gocher flouted the law three times before he was actually arrested. However, he maintained his campaign against the bathing laws, and a year later, on November 3rd, the Manly Council rescinded the by-law that prohibited bathing during daylight hours. A new by-law was issued permitting bathing in daylight hours, but emphasising the need for neck-to-knee swimwear for anyone over 8 years old. Men and women were also required to swim at separate times.

Absurd, you say? Aussie beaches without our iconic life savers and Speedos? I agree. And now, over a century later, we have a controversy in Oz about Muslim women wearing face coverings in public places such as airports and banks where security is paramount. Naturally, the do-gooders are screaming discrimination hehe. So how come banning full-face motorcycle helmets and balaclavas is not discriminatory?

It seems to me that clothing covering most of the body from head to toe has its roots in ancient times. So what is it about ancient times that's so damn significant? Should we all go back to riding horses, or using candles, or using the same water in one bathtub for the whole family? What's wrong with today? What's wrong with the here and now? Why should religious credibility be monopolized by antiquity?

It makes about as much sense as neck-to-knee swimwear and the segregation of men and women bathers if you ask me. How ridiculous! By the way, the saying 'don't throw the baby out with the bathwater' comes from the practice of using one tub of water to bathe the whole family, with the baby's turn being last.

My dentist Andries, who believes in God and an afterlife, reckons I have a cynical attitude as an atheist. He said the other day that if there's no God and no eternal life, then "we could just go out and do anything!" Then he gave examples such as murdering people. Hehe. Well, my question is why don't I murder people or rob banks or whatever if I don't believe in the existence of eternal punishment? Should the promise of a reward after death be necessary in order for a person to be decent? Are all members of Islamic State and Al Qaeda atheists? Of course not. Do they believe in Allah and Paradise? Yes, indeedy deedy they do! Are they murderers and thugs? Yes, indeedy deedy they are! Does believing in God make a person decent? Go figure.

Andries says life on Earth without the promise of Heaven would be pointless. Oh? What's pointless about the propagation of the species and the passing on of knowledge? What's pointless about evolution? What's pointless about life itself, the here and now, and making the most of what exists?

There has to be more, right? Who says so? Some ancient scribe with a quill and a bottle of ink? Well, if that's what you choose to believe, no wukkers. Just don't try to convince me that the ancients were smarter than the current crop.

FL Josh (who will be thrilled to read all of the above hehe) wrote: In the grocery store today I spotted this, "Boomerang's Handheld Aussie Pies," and I figured I had to buy one just to send a picture of it to you. I looked to see where in Australia it is made and it is someplace called, "Austin, Texas." Actually it says in the side, "Australian Inspired - American Made." It was pretty good. So, it looks like not only is Oz losing its auto manufacturing business, the Aussie Pie business is gone, too!!!

God, not our pies too! Arnott's biscuits, Vegemite, Speedos, Holdens and now the iconic Aussie take-away with tamaaaaaata sauce. Actually, I think the first take-away was the Cornish Pastie, kinda like a pie but made with last night's leftovers inside a half-circle envelope of pastry that the missus made for hubby to take to work for lunch. There is a small inland town on the QLD/NSW border called Texas but the only Austin we have is Austinmer, a coastal town in NSW (probably named after Austin in England with 'mer' for sea tacked on).

I love pies. I used to make my own by lining a foil pie dish with a ring of flaky pastry (using an inverted bread and butter plate to make the circle), filling it with cooked savory ground beef and veg, and gravy, and placing a pastry lid on top, and then baking it in the oven for about 10 minutes. I don't trust bought pies except those in bakeries. And even then I'm nervous about the damn thing having chewy bits of gristle. Yuck.

When I went to work with my dad as a kid, he would treat me to a Sargent's pie for lunch. Sargent's were the best pies in those days, made in their own bakeries using the sweet meat off the bone. Those days are long gone and Sargent's pies are now churned out by the thousands in a large commercial kitchen with average quality. I wouldn't eat one in a fit.

From the Beeb: The Australian cabinet has given its approval for fighter jets to join the US-led military action against Islamic State targets in Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said IS was a "death cult" that had "declared war on the world" and must be stopped. IS controls a broad swathe of territory, spanning a borderless stretch of Syria and Iraq. The US and Arab allies have been bombing IS targets in Iraq and Syria for the past two weeks.

A stray dog in India's Udaipur is recovering after being found stuck in pool of hot tar. The tar, which had leaked from a container, solidified around the animal after it fell in. Animal Aid Unlimited, a non-governmental organisation which rescues animals in distress, spent several hours cleaning him with vegetable oil, and says the dog is expected to make a full recovery.

What if it were possible to engineer animals to be as intelligent as us? As Tim Maughan discovers, we may have already started. Human beings have long believed that it is our unique level of intelligence that separates us from other animals. Our ability for higher learning, creative thought, and – perhaps most importantly – our sophisticated communication via speech and language, defines us as a superior species. However, as we expand our understanding of how the brain works, and use animal experiments to learn more about the genes involved in intelligence, will we reach a point where we can pull other species onto our intellectual plane?

Oh yes, it occurred to me today after the prof emailed me that he must think I'm good for another few years yet to spend all that time and effort (and government money) on major surgery and rehab. Yeah. He shook my hand last time I was there. We were standing around chatting when he offered his hand like a bolt outta the blue. I took that to be an encouraging sign.

Anyway, it's time to wrap this edition of Waffle and attend to other things. I think I'll have my meatballs with spaghetti and salsa tonight for something a little different. Au revoir. Gary

October 2 2014. Time for another 50 historic pics of auto related scenarios during the first half of the 20th century. The first pic is a stunner and I congratulate the photographer for capturing such a fascinating slice of life, especially considering all the paraphernalia photographers had to carry in those days.

OH Jim said something interesting about his relationship with his young mate Zach. Not being Zach's father means he can't ground him if the teen is being obstreperous. Same deal with Cody and me. But the positive aspect of that arrangment is that you (as a father figure) have to figure out how to influence your young friend's behavior without resorting to punishment or lecturing. That can present quite a challenge. Dealing with Steve was much more of a challenge than dealing with Cody, though. When Steve was quitting heroin, he kept a stash in his wardrobe "just in case". I needed to walk on eggshells during that period. I had to resist the instinct to censure him and, instead, subtly encourage him to stick with his goal to quit.

I remember Steve being totally baffled by my responses to his regular attempts to enrage me. "You just never give up, do you? I tell you stuff to piss you off and you just keep coming back for more!" Hehe. One time he let me have both barrels and I responded with "Well, whaddaya know? He loves me!" That really confused him hehe. But I knew he was doing his best to give me a reason to give up on him, which is why I never did. He needed someone to believe in him so that he could start to believe in himself. Once he'd managed to mount that hurdle, everything else began to fall into place. There are so many memorable events in Steve's story it's impossible to pick one that stands out the most.

It was quite an experience for me - learning on the job so to speak. No training, no experience, just gut feeling. Kept me on my toes, that's for sure. Hehe.

Speaking of toes, mental agility and all things cerebral, TX Greg wrote: Hehe, You know you keep getting Cody's fictitious last name wrong. It's Taronto, not Taranto. You even put Taranto in Green Room. I wonder why you keep thinking Taranto??? I doubled checked again and everything in Cody's World, including the Cody TJ Stories, is all Taronto. I did find two places on MrB where you wrote Taranto, everything else is Taronto.

codeman002... "I already told you that Taranto wasn’t my real name when you asked me if it was Italian or something."

Steve99... "Characters are Kyle Taranto, Brett Mann, Stuart Shaffer, Graham Grimmit, Melanie (Steph) and Susan (Carol)."

BTW> There is one other special friend that you failed to mention, "Neighbor John".

Yeah, well, Taranto Taronto. You say tomato and I say tamaaaaata. Dozen madder. Yes, Neighbor John, the bloke who (at Steve's vigorous and impassioned insistence) broke the news of Cody's death to me - 6 weeks after the event. I remember reading that email on a 2001 December morning like it was yesterday, and shaking my head in utter disbelief. Then I started writing. It was all I could think of doing, the only way I could cope. "Weep your tears and we shall weep with you," wrote SF Jim, which is something I'll never forget.

From the Beeb: In pictures: A journey through 19th Century Brazil In 1893, British industrialist Sir Benjamin Stone travelled to Brazil to observe a full solar eclipse. A keen traveller of considerable personal wealth, Sir Benjamin joined a Royal Astronomical Society expedition to the Amazon river. As well as taking photos of the eclipse, he also took a series of photographs of his journey by boat to Brazil and of the people and places he encountered.

Measuring people's sense of smell in later life could help doctors predict how likely they are to be alive in five years' time, a PLOS One study suggests. A survey of 3,000 adults found 39% with the poorest sense of smell were dead within five years - compared to just 10% who identified odours correctly. Scientists say the loss of smell sense does not cause death directly, but may be an early warning sign. Looks like Lindsay is not long for this world cos he's oblivious to his own farts.

The beauty of sports is that anyone can play, rich or poor. Have a net? A ball? A few friends? You can play. But, like with many things, ultra-high-net-worth individuals — people with at least $30m in assets — aren’t content with simply kicking a soccer ball around a local field in a pick-up game. The world’s wealthy tend to join expensive clubs, buy top-of-the-line equipment and participate in sports that may require massive amounts of money to support. Why spend so much when basketball and tennis courts at the local park are free?

Why are we drawn to doodling? As David Robson discovers, there may be much more to our idle scribbles and other drawings than we realised, and the story begins in the sands of the Australian desert

I doodle. Or at least I did before I got keyboarditis. It's not often a pen or pencil is in my hand these days. I used to doodle swirls and circles and spirals and then ink (or pencil) in selected parts of the doodle while leaving other parts open. Some of them became quite complex. Never figured out what they meant though, other than a quest for proportion and balance... like a paisley print.

On the GN forum I read a post by a lady who's house minding at the mo in Brisbane... and getting BORED! So I responded with this: Sounds to me like this free camping business soon becomes an addiction that's not apparent until we stop. Must be some primeval nomadic instinct that stirs from hibernation once we hit the road and taste the freedom. A wanderlust.

Jules was first to respond to my post with: You are right there Gary - it is an addiction - yes a wanderlust! I love heading down a road, looking at everything around me, marvelling at the different shades of green in the bush, wondering what the next camp will be like, who will we meet there, it is indeed a wonderful life.

Then the original poster, Shekon (her nick), responded with this: Could not agree more Jules. Gary you are so right, I was only thinking this morning when all I wanted was some doona diving instead of getting on with life, how much my life has changed over the past 12months, and for the better I believe.

I have gone from a real home body who loved nothing more than decorating my home, making sure it was all spick and span, and looking at doing an interior decorating course, to a person who cannot wait to see what is around the next corner, if it is in the bush somewhere even better. I look forward to meeting new people, having a chat and watching the world go past.

This country has so much to offer and there are so many wonderful, beautiful people out there, that one never meets in a city. My wanderlust is sitting right on the surface, and I am ready to hit the road again. I have another 2 plus weeks to be here and it has been great to get a few things done, and just to sit for a bit, but now the tar is calling me again. It is lonely also living in a house, the people at the shops look at me as if I am mad when I start a conversation, hmmm maybe they are right, but certainly a different way of life and one that I have no desire to settle back into permanently any time soon.

Gary I really hope that your upcoming surgery is successful so you can get out there and join the rest of us wonderfully excited people.

So there you have it, straight from the horse's... er, mare's mouth. Ya know something? My older bro wrote this morning and said he was impressed with my attitude and ability to accept the prospect of more surgery. But I wonder now if I would be so willing if it weren't for the Odyssey carrot dangling on the end of that six month stick. Hmmm?

Anyway, dear Breth, tis time for moi to call it a wrap and turn my attention to belly and telly. Gary

October 1, 2014. Welcome to October! So here are we old blokes discussing our aches and pains and operations while my friend in Massachusetts Justin suffers a "silent" heart attack in his mid 20s - non smoker, non drinker, healthy diet, sportsman and fit. There's nothing wrong with his attitude, though. Still positive.

Speaking of ops, my 80+ sister in law phoned this morning to say that my oldest bro (84 this month) has undergone his knee replacement operation and passed with flying colors - no pain and all looking good. He's being transferred to another hospital today for rehab, and then it'll be home and back to lawn bowls! His wife is fine too, still doing all the housework and driving her car. She said if I need looking after following my gum op I'm welcome at their place.

Averil was the same age as my sis in law and yet she could barely walk and suffered curvature of the spine. She had never driven a car in her life. Chalk and cheese those two. Ditto my oldest bro and Averil's husband Kev, who was a mess when he died aged 82. So it's all in the genes or the lap of the gods or something.

One bloke on telly the other night, a wealthy man who made his fortune gambling, said we're lucky to have been born at all, given how many sperm go to waste for one reason or another. "It's a miracle!" Comparitively speaking, the odds of experiencing life are very slim, so make the most of it.

Among other things, OH Jim wrote: When you wrote that you would think that Cody and his posse would have sounded weird to you, it kinda shocked me that you never heard his voice? I don't know what was available back then (and don't go off on the "back then" phrase... I know it was only 14 years or so ago LOL), but there must have been some crude form of voice over IP back then. It would have been cool to hear his voice. I wonder what he sounded like?

The relationship between Cody and me was compartmentalized. I was the human diary that responded to his daily jottings. But like any diary, I was private. His best friend Paul from boyhood knew about Cody's relationship with TJ and other cyber friends, including me, and Steve knew because he was often involved with Cody in designing graphics for his web site, but they were the only two. No one else knew, and that's the way Cody preferred to keep it. He told me a couple of times that we would never meet, and that our friendship would always remain in cyber space. He never divulged the name of his local beach or suburb, or his last name. I asked him about Taranto one time and he said it was a false name. So I respected his wishes and left it at that.

Cody dealt with a lot of issues (as most teens do) including his sexuality, so being able to treat me as a diary that answered his questions and commented on various aspects of life without intruding on his privacy or social circle was ideal. For one thing, he was able to be totally honest without fear of being exposed in "real" life, which was totally separate from the internet as far as he was concerned. Even if Skype or something similar had been available then, he would have rejected it as being too intrusive... too close to his private world. I also suspect he had a mental picture of me that he didn't wanna risk spoiling hehe. The awesome old dude from across the sea.

The only reason Steve contacted me was because of Cody's death, and his inability to deal with it at first. But even then, he often told me that when he didn't need me any longer (as therapy and a sounding board) he would stop writing. And that's exactly what happened about 10 years ago. Paul (Rick in Green Room) wrote once, when he paid a surprise visit to Cape Town for Cody's 18th birthday. And that was it... first and last time.

So the relationship between Cody and me was quite odd - as close as any two people could be mentally, but at the same time distant physically. Worlds apart yet "soul buddies" as Cody referred to us. It was less intense with Steve and me but he played by the same rules. It suited me because both of those guys came into my life when I desperately needed a diversion from my own problems. Cody saved my sanity and probably my life as well.

This is 180 degrees opposite of what happens on Ham Radio, where you hear the voice coming out of the receiver's speaker, but you have no idea what the other Ham looks like. It is always a shock when I meet a Ham who I have talked with in person. They NEVER look like how I imagine them to be.

I used to get that all the time when I was a radio announcer. "I thought you'd look different." "I thought you'd be older." "I thought you'd be taller." "I never expected you to have red hair!" Yadda, yadda. I think our imaginations take mucho creative license with people we "know" but have never met. Can you imagine the Virgin Mary with a nose like Barbara Streisand's? Or Jesus looking like this?

From the Beeb: Connie Converse was arguably the first modern singer-songwriter, writing and playing intimate songs on her acoustic guitar in the mid-1950s. But she remained virtually unknown and disappeared in 1974. Now, her talent is finally being recognised. In summer 1974, days after her 50th birthday, Connie Converse sent fond letters to family and close friends telling them she wanted to make a fresh start. Disillusioned with how her life had turned out, she packed her possessions into her Volkswagen Beetle and left her Michigan home. She has not been seen since.

One of the leading photographers of the past century, Shirley Baker, sadly died towards the end of September. Here Tom Gillmor, of the Mary Evans Picture Library, who are guardians of her archive, pays tribute to her work.

Microsoft has disclosed the first details of Windows 10 - its next operating system (OS). The name is a surprise, bearing in mind it represents a jump from the last version - Windows 8. The software will run on a wide range of devices, from phones and tablets to PCs and Xbox games consoles, with applications sold from a single store. It also marks the return of the Start Menu, which had been removed from Windows 8.

Rare photos of untouched Australia.

A car that runs on air? That sells for less than $10K US? That is as cheap as chips to run? Could it be a reality? Tata Motors in India says it is.

And that's it for October Oneth. See ya on the Twoth. Gary


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