the WAFFLE page

December 28, 2014. I've been forunate as well as privileged enough in my life to meet some remarkable people, none more so than Art Dawin from North Carolina. Art began corresponding with me about 5 or so years ago after reading The Codeman, and went on to become a regular contributor to Waffle. A few months ago I noticed he'd been absent for a while so I wrote a note to ask if he was okay, He replied with a brief explanation, "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". He said nothing of being terminally ill.

In early December Art had not written again for a while so I made a second inquiry about his health. Then on Christmas Day this year I received this note from his son:

I’m sorry to inform you of Art’s passing on October 18. He had developed esophageal cancer. He was a class act and never complained nor went on pain meds. I’m going through his contacts and letting his contacts know. My sister Cindy and I will have a memorial service in the spring to inter his ashes beside my mom at Grace Church Morganton.


Keith Darwin

Over the years, Art occasionally sent me short essays he had written about his life as a country boy as well as those spent in the American military, based in London in 1944. I was so impressed with his talent as a short story teller I posted them on a special page called Art's Art. His short bio is on the main page.

I'll add more to the Art page as I get better. Overcame a major problem with constipation today - very painful - so am getting better. Seeya round, Art. Thanks so much for dropping by. Gary

December 25, 2014. The big day, huh? Well, I've gotta keep reminding my auto watch that I'm not dead yet.  The damn thing keeps stopping cos I ain't movin enough.

I'd like to thank OH Jim for writing every day. Mostly I'm too buggered to absorb much tho. Takes me all my time just to struggle around the house. Poor Jim has been putting up with hoards of "rude" christmas shoppers for the past few weeks.

TX Greg wrote: You're in my thoughts everyday. Just feel helpless to be so far away and can't do something for you. I made the pic a couple of weeks back before you got ill. Hope it brings you a smile. LYT, GREG

More than just a smile, Greg. You're a good and thoughtful man.

BR Joao wrote: "Don't give up without a fight" - said the Pink Floyd. Well, I say: don't give up, period. You are like Uluru. I want to see a lot of Aussie landscapes through the lenses of your camera. So, get well. I'm sending the usual Xmas card, with a new improved visual for your caravan.

You're a loyal old friend for many years, Joao, even during Cody's lifetime. Thanks for the great graphic and for the extra things you have done for me. Many thanks indeed.

And me? I think the infection has gone but I'm still weak. Shops open again tomorrow so I'll ask Lindsay to get me a  TON of food. Gary

December 24, 2014. Too exhausting to write and explain stuff. Still very weak.

Paperwork arrived for CT scan and blood test Jan 5 Sydney.

Jan 2, see Taree GP to help with paperwork. All in preparation for operation Sydney Feb 19. Yes, I know... might still be too weak to travel to Sydney. Play it by ear. Thanks for the graphic BR Joao


December 19, 2014. No, no pneurmonia. NOT. NYET. NON. Chest infection. The anti biotics seem to be successfully clearing that... slowly but significantly. Not much appetite but keeping more things down and producing less slimy spit. The doc was good. Just fixin, no lectures. Still buggered. Need lots of sleep. Gary

December 18, 2014. Home visit by doc today. Sutures removed from 5 cancer surgeries. Anti biotics for chest infection. Maybe better news tomorrow. If not, hospital. Gary

December 16, 2014. OH Jim mentioned exhaustion the the other day and I think that about sums up what my condition is. I can sleep deeply for 12 hours and then again for another 12. I have little or no interest in anything. The TV and computer lie dormant for days without being turning on. I do what's needed and nothing more. Sleep, sleep, sleep, It feels like I'm catching up on many years of strain.

I see the doc in a few days to have the stiches removed but I think he'll need to visit me... I'm too buggered to go anywhere.

Glad to see the hostage situation in Martin Place has ended. The guy was a loner, a known criminal using Islam as a cover. He was a major nut case. Gary

December 12, 2014. Wow, that surgery has knocked me for six (cricketing espression). Good thing I had it done before the biggie in February. Apart from tea, all I had yesterday was pureed fruit which gave me a little energy and acted as a gentle laxative, so that was good. I slept all night Wedesday, almost all day Thursday, all Thursday night and most of today. I just made a smoothie with some difficulty cos I know I'll only get worse if I don't feed myself. Everything is such a struggle cos all I wanna do is sleep. Anyway, I thought I'd better let you know how I am. I am improving even though it's very slowly. Gary

December 10, 2014. Apologies, dear Breth, but 5 excisions took priority over Waffle today. Everything went well, and no complications. I'm gonna hit the hay early. Gary

December 9, 2014. Here's an interesting article about an Aussie scientist who has developed the technology to extract more electricity from existing solar panels. More power! To him too!

And now an Aussie comedian commenting on US gun laws and the 2nd amendment from an Australian perspective. I couldn't get sufficient volume out of the vid to understand it properly... only bits. Maybe you'll have better luck. I tried Google but other vids on line have been pulled due to a copyright claim by Underbelly.

Speaking of comedians, Australia's most unlikely comedian, Stella Young, died yesterday aged 32. Here are 17 things she wanted you to know about "crips".

Yes, perspective is an interesting thing, and Stella's was unique.

I tried to solve the problem with my pension again this morning but spent ages being annoyed by tinny classical music on the phone waiting endlessly for somebody to answer. Gave up in the end. Bleh. Maybe a trip to their office is on the cards.

From the Beeb: Security has been stepped up at US facilities around the world ahead of the release of a report expected to reveal details of harsh CIA interrogations, the White House says. Embassies and other sites were taking precautions amid "some indications" of "greater risk", a spokesman said. A 480-page summary of the Senate report is due to be released on Tuesday. It is expected to detail the CIA's campaign against al-Qaeda in the aftermath of 9/11. As well as detailing the controversial methods used by CIA operatives in an effort to extract information from high-value suspects, the report is expected to say harsh interrogations failed to deliver appropriate results. Publication of the report has been delayed amid disagreements in Washington over what should be made public.

Australia are playing India in the first Test in Adelaide - in an emotion-charged game following the death of Phillip Hughes. The Australian players entered the ground wearing Hughes' Test cap No 408 on their shirts and black armbands to honour their former teammate. Spectators were then asked to stand for 63 seconds of applause before the game. Hughes, 25, was 63 not out when he was struck on the neck by a bouncer last month. He died two days later.

Best of British: British automotive marques are extension of the nation’s class system and style. Whether conjuring the leather armchairs and wood panelling of a gentleman’s club or the naked mechanicals of a locomotive, they echo the singular, manic ambitions of the engineers who realised their dreams – however remote or eccentric these may have been. Rare is the British car built with the mass market in mind, and that tendency has had lasting effects; vehicles produced in high volumes in today’s UK all carry the names of foreign automakers. But that singularity has left the world a trove of emphatically British cars that demand reverence. Here, then, alphabetically arranged, are 10 British cars well worth celebrating.

I was driving PJ behind a new Holden the other day, thinking how sweet the Holden looked and behaved. It's a world-class car these days and a shame GM-H is ceasing production in a few years. Holden will still sell re-badged imports but it'll be the end of "Australia's Own Car". Oh well, that's the reality of the free enterprise market place - consumers vote with their money and if they no longer want large cars then that's it.

The high Aussie dollar was the major stumbling block for manufacturers and exporters for a long time. At one stage a year or two ago it was worth $1.10 US. Now it's just above 0.83 US cents and falling as the US ecomony improves. They say it'll stabilize at about 0.75 cents, which will give our manufacturers and exporters a boost, as well as  tourism. Problem for consumers is that imports like oil and electronics will be more expensive. Drat.

My only concern at the mo is two more major purchases... a new solar panel and a second AGM battery. Other than that I'm pretty right. A Nikon 2.8 18-300mm zoom would be nice but that can wait.

BTW, a GN commented the other day that US fuel prices had dropped to $2 a gallon, which is 50 cents a liter. We're still paying about $1.50 a liter. Grrrrr.

Shortie today, folks. Pretty quiet day except for those pesky crows outside calling to their mates on the other side of the river. They tend to get quite aggressive and territorial at this time of year which probably has something to do with raising their young. All the other birds bolt for a while until the crows leave. I wish I still had my sling shot. Bloody crows. Gary

December 8, 2014. Before I toddle off to dentists and doctors this morning, here's a pic I discovered on Red Bubble this morning of a replica historic village from the 19th century in a town called Wilberforce in NSW. It's near the RAAF base, I think, but I was unaware of the replica village. It looks lovely and quaint. Click on the pic to enlarge. Imagine soaking up the atomsphere of an early settlers' village and having a fighter jet fly overhead.

One thing I've noticed during my mini Odysseys around the mid north coast, in relatively isolated areas that are very quiet, is that you occasionally hear a commercial jet overhead flying at cruising altitude - a tiny, silver speck in the sky that you would otherwise never notice. Experiences like that make you feel even more remote from the hustle and bustle of urban living.

OH Jim remarked on my referring to houses as boxes. Yes, well, there are boxes and boxes. Actually, it makes me think of myself as being homeless even though I live in a house hehe. Know what I mean?

You refer to your house as a box, and I can see why you do that. But this place is my home. I grew up in this place. I never expected to own it, but after my Mom died of Alzheimer's, I got a chance to buy it. I can look at any room and so many memories come flooding back. Everything inside the house has changed... all the furniture, carpet and wall coverings are different. But still I can look at something and remember what caused it. I look at a cement wall, down here in the basement and remember my Dad and I coating it with some kind of a cement over coat. (Render). The brush marks are frozen in time, right there. Dad would mix that stuff in a metal bucket, and then we'd brush it on the walls. LOL I think I got more on me, than on the wall. But it was cool to work with my Dad. Cool that he wanted ME to help him. And I can still see the brush strokes on the wall. Just as we did it that Saturday afternoon. It's little things like that, that makes this place more than just a box to me.

Can dig. But I was referring to the city workers being moved around from box to box on a daily basis, en masse, in a detached, impersonal, logistical sense... as the traffic reporter sees the daily exodus from his chopper. Which reminds me, I haven't heard a traffic report on radio for ages! They were on every 5 or 10 minutes when I lived in Sydney.

On one visit to see the doc in Sydney, I happened to be on Central railway station during morning peak and was reminded of how passengers disgorge from train doors in droves and head to the exits like a locust swarm. So I stood aside and let them pass, remembering how it was for me when I was part of that daily frenzy hehe. It was routine back then, and I didn't give it a thought. How habit blinds us to our madness.

Back from Andries and David, the GP. I don't muck about ya know. I get my surgery in bulk. None of this one excision at a time business. I'm booked in for Wednesday afternoon for a double, double. Yep, two doubles. I'm being de-barnacled once more. Lots of skin cancers that I figure should be removed before major surgery in February. David agrees, and will remove a couple of littlies from my scapular area plus a few larger ones elsewhere. There's also one on my forehead that's been driving me nutz cos the scab won't heal, but I've been loathe to have it removed cos needles in the forehead (no flesh) are not fun! But it's gotta be done. David is gonna bulk bill Medicare direct like before so I don't have to pay a penny.

David's a good bloke, and he's been my doc now for 13 years and is familiar with my history so I think I'll return to Taree once or twice a year on the Odyssey for checkups rather than change to some other medico.

OH Jim said he was a huge Beatles fan. Yep, much of their music transcends fashion and fad, and is as fresh now as it was then. It doesn't happen all that often. They were also very brave by breaking new ground and creating trends rather than following them. Their timing was superb - appealing to a mass audience despite being innovative. Imagine releasing songs like Eleanor Rigby and Yellow Submarine in the middle of a rock and roll craze! And Yesterday. What a song! Can't remember who said it - maybe Brian Wilson - but whoever it was, said it was the "perfect song". Wilson was no slouch in the genius department either.

Think of all the things that would not exist if it weren't for homo erectus. Music, art, architecture, machines, technology, space exploration, creme caramels... Bloody amazing. But it all goes back to primeval slime ya know. Life itself. A bunch of elements. Even more bloody amazing.

I saw examples of man's ingenuity on a doco about Colditz last night. Colditz was a POW camp in Germany - a remote medieval castle from which there was no escape, with 24/7 surveillance. So the Germans thought. But the Pommy prisoners had other ideas, and built a false wall in an attic which left them a small space to build a 2-man glider from timber and bed sheets, using millet porridge as an adhesive and varnish to make the sheets taute around the frame. The war ended and the camp was freed by the Americans just before the glider was to be launched from the roof top.

But the story was so intriguing, a team from Britain went back recently to re-enact the escape attempt. They used the attic to build a glider exactly the same as the original, using bedsheets, a timber frame, and porridge. Then they built a "runway" out of table tops, and arranged a pulley system using ropes and a bathtub filled with water as a weight which would drop to the ground below and accelerate the glider to a necessary 30mph for take-off. All right under the Nazis' noses. Above their noses, actually.

The re-enactment used a polystyrene dummy as a "pilot" and the controls were operated remotely by radio control on the ground. But the damn thing flew - a little awkwardly at first - but managed to cross the nearby river and land safely in open countryside on the other side. Success!

Anyway, it just goes to show how resourceful human imagination can be when things get tough.

From the Beeb: Final preparations are under way in New York for the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday. Prince William will also meet US President Barack Obama in Washington during the three day trip. The couple prompted huge crowds on their last visit to North America - a trip to Canada in 2011. Tom Esslemont reports from Washington.

Not all that much waffle type stuff on the Beeb today. In any case I just got caught up in bureaucratic bullshit with regard to an aspect of my pension and it took ages on line to get absolutely nowhere. I shall take another shot at solving it tomorrow.

Suffice to say that everything was bowling along nicely until the rent for this house went up by $20 a week, $10 each, a month or so ago. So I thought I'd claim for the extra just for the sake of a few bucks, didn't I. I filled in the form on line and got the increase. Then they sent me a form by snail mail to fill in. So I did, and posted it back. But apparently the form was was missing something (or it never arrived at the office) so they sent me another form saying my increase would be cancelled if the form wasn't filled in and returned to the office IMMEDIATELY. Immediately was a tad inconvenient cos I was crook last week - stomach problems followed by bowel problems. However, I filled in the form on the weekend and left it at the real estate agency this morning for them to co-sign and post on my behalf. Meanwhile, this afternoon I received an email (one of those DO NOT REPLY ones) to say that my rental assistance - and not just the latest increase but the whole bloody lot - had been cancelled. That's about $80 a fortnight.

Now if I'd left things as they were, with no changes, everything would have remained fine and dandy. A few extra bucks less, but better than none at all. Honestly, is there a government ceiling on IQ levels for job applicants? Nothing above shoe size? Gary

December 7, 2014. Seems like all that hot, humid air that caused major electrical storm activity on the east coast of Oz for the past week has drifted away somewhere. Cool, cloudy and pleasant this morning.

OH Jim wrote: As for being a gypsy, it's fun for maybe a month, being on a long vacation, but I do miss my place, and I always want to get home by that time. I had a weird experience, once. I was driving home from FLorida, and was on the road for almost three days. When I got home, and walked into the house, it seemed so SMALL. Almost like a cave. I got over that feeling in a minute or so, and never had it ever again. But it was so weird.

I can imagine that feeling - going from the great outdoors back into a box. I also empathize with that 'good to be back home' feeling. Been there, done that. Home is where your bed is. Hehe. However, for me on the Odyssey, my bed will be coming with me, along with everything else I own. So there'll be no "home" to go back to. There's also no one or thing here in Taree to which I'm attached. If I were in your situation, Jim, I'm sure my attitude would be similar to yours.

The Odyssey will redefine, for me, the meaning of the word homelessness. We never refer to a wild animal as being homeless. Its home is wherever it chooses to roam. But once an animal has been domesticated, and wanders off somewhere, then we refer to it as being homeless. So I'm looking forward (albeit nervously) to defining my life on the road and how it affects my sense of self and belonging.

Actually, the feeling I do have right now - and fear - is living the rest of my life in the one spot. For me, it would be like sleeping every night in my coffin. How spooky!

Jim also spoke of traffic jams and accidents. So, for the last two days, traffic on I 71 up by Madeira / Kenwood area has been really bad . On Wednesday morning, someone was killed, so the cops shut down the expressway  while they cleaned up the mess, and then spent hours doing a four page, single spaced, 10 point book report about the accident. Fortunately the accident was north bound and I was going south. They were out there with survey equipment. Really? Traffic was backed up for ten miles or more, all the way into Kentucky. And there they were, screwing around with a theodolite. Really? At least it's the weekend, and traffic is going to be a lot lighter. Makes driving a lot more enjoyable, when you are not stuck going 1 or 2 miles an hour, stopping every 10 or 20 feet, or so it seems.

Yep, did that for many years, morning and night. So when you think about it, cities are made up of workers who spend an hour or two every week day travelling to and from their place of employment, then eating and sleeping in a mortgaged or rented box until the process is repeated. Imagine that. Hundreds of billions spent on roads and public transport just to ferry the masses from one box to another box and back again every weekday to keep the system going.

What's the alternative? I dunno. Ask a farmer. Hehe. Maybe robots will solve the problem. Robots won't need to travel to and from their jobs. They'll be in situ 24/7. No more 9 to 5. No more traffic jams. No more overloaded public transport. Then what? How will people spend their time or earn a living? Stay tooned.

Meanwhile, I wanna experience what it's like to live freely in a natural environment. An environment relatively untouched by human contrivance. Except for pie shops and dump points, of course. And petrol stations.

Ya know, it has occurred to me that the answer to the question "what the hell are we all doing here?' may not exist hehe. And if it doesn't, that in itself is the answer. So I'm looking forward to many days of walking along beaches, sitting under willow trees by a river, gazing at camp fires, and chatting to fellow travellers to see where it all leads, and to what conclusion if there is one.

When John Steinbeck embarked on his Travels with Charley across the USA in a motorhome, he missed his wife. So they arranged to meet somewhere for a few days occasionally. Then, after three months, he decided he'd had enough of the gypsy life and returned home to write the book. Chicken. I don't have a wife or anyone else to miss, and I don't have a home to return to. So that will be the difference. Steinbeck also wasn't interested in roughing it in the bush or deviating too far from civilization. In fact, I'm not sure he was on any great mission to discover a personal connection with nature. He was just curious about life on the road, I suppose.

From the Beeb: Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he hopes a permanent ceasefire will soon be agreed in Ukraine, after talks in Moscow with French counterpart Francois Hollande. Mr Hollande is the first Western leader to visit Russia since the start of the Ukraine crisis earlier this year. A ceasefire was signed in September but there have been constant breaches. Russia has been angered by Western sanctions imposed for its support of pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Sir Paul McCartney has recalled the "horrific" moment when he learned of the murder of his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon. Speaking on the Jonathan Ross Show on ITV, he also said he felt "very lucky" that he eventually made up with Lennon after the rifts that split the pair. Lennon was shot outside his apartment in New York on 8 December 1980. "I just for days couldn't think that he was gone... It was just a huge shock," said Sir Paul. He said: "I was at home and I got a phone call. It was early in the morning... It was just so horrific, you couldn't take it in and I couldn't take it in."

I well remember that day, being driven in a Ford Marquis by a client back from lunch at an Italian restaurant. When we arrived at his office, I wrote Lennon is Dead on his whiteboard. It was such a shock.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has been re-appointed as leader of the ruling party, while his wife Grace has been given a top position in the party. Grace Mugabe's promotion to head of Zanu-PF's women's wing puts her in a good position to succeed her husband in the future, analysts say. The first lady has criticised political rivals, including Vice-President Joyce Mujuru, in recent months. Mr Mugabe, 90, is due to stand for election again in 2018. Wonders will never cease.

Power corrupts? I watched an interview with Aussie artist John Olsen last night and he said, "Success corrupts, but lack of success also corrupts!" He was commissioned to paint a mural for the Sydney Opera House back during its construction days in the early '60s. It was an abstract, and he was constantly harassed by some of the workers, one of whom remarked, "My 5 year old kid could paint better than that!" So the artist responded with, "Good! I'll introduce him to my dealer."

There was little appreciation or demand for art in those days. Ignorance prevailed throughout the Great Down Under Backwater. Even in the early '70s when Gough Whitlam became PM and purchased a painting to hang in the Opera House foyer for $1m, there was a public outcry. How could the PM pay a million dollars for a painting any child could have painted? It's probably worth 100 times that now, and has become a national treasure.

Anyway, Olsen described the day he came home from work to announce to the family around the dinner table that he was quitting his job in the advertising department of David Jones (department store) to be a cleaner and study art full time. "The first thing my mother said was 'What will the neighbors think?', and then my father said, 'Art? There's no money in that!'"

I received a similar reception when I announced I'd quit my government job for a job as DJ at a Kings Cross disco hehe. In fact, I was told to leave home. Ah, the folly of youth. Thank goodness I've matured and grown wiser, and now choose sensible pursuits like driving around Oz in a 20 y/o truck on a pension.

But back to Olsen for a mo, he was born in Newcastle but his family moved to Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach when he was a kid during the depression years, and he grew up embracing the open space and the sun (rather like Cody). All his life, he's had a fascination for Sydney Harbor.

Well, I reckon it's time to put my coloring pencils back in their case and call it a day. Anything worthwhile on telly? Yeah... bit of this and that. So until tomorrow, fellow Wafflle-ites, it's toodle oo and may the thingamebob be with you. Gary

December 6, 2014. OH Jim wants to know if the prof in Sydney is the best around. Yep, he's the man. But I'm on the public system which means I don't get doctor of choice when it comes to actual surgery. I get the prof's understudy. Not quite as good but free, and the prof remains responsible. Patients on medicare cannot make a direct appointment with a specialist unless the patient has a referral from his GP. In my case, I had a referral from my GP to see a local specialist, who did a biopsy which was negative but to be sure she referred me to another local specialist. He decided that my situation was out of his depth and referred me to the prof. I also needed (and still do) a referral from my GP to see the oncologist in Port Macquarie.

So, dear Jim, with medicare footing the bill, I don't get the luxury of a second opinion. In any case, who needs a second opinion when you're dealing with the best there is? Not only here in Oz but internationally. And if you think, judging by his photo, that he's a g'day kinda bloke, he is. The first thing he said to to me was g'day. Hehe.

As to the trial medication that didn't work, the options two years ago when all my teeth were removed and exposed bone was discovered were a long spell in one of those "bends" iron lung thingies to oxygenate my gum sufficiently to withstand an operation to remove the exposed bone (being underweight was also a problem) or the unproven medication, which the prof admitted at the time to having only a slim chance of being successful. It was the soft option.

An operation involving general anaesthetic just 12 months after the initial operation was also dangerous, given my frail state. I suspect the past two years has given my body time to recover sufficiently to undergo a second major op under general anaesthetic without needing the hellishly expensive oxygenation treatment.

And what does my local garden variety dentist Andries think of all this? He doesn't. He's not qualified. There's an oral surgeon in town as well but he's also not qualified to handle situations such as mine.

Another thought about losing your best friend.... it is always harder on the kid who is left behind. For the kid who is moving away, it's a fresh start. New home, new neighborhood, new friends. For my Mark, it meant a new school also. Yeah, I remember going over to his new house. I had to be driven there ... it was too far away and my parents wouldn't let me walk there. It wasn't the same, in a way. His new house was so much bigger than our place, and I didn't feel at home like I did at his old house. After that visit, I kind of realized that he really did move away. Funny, as I think about it, he never really came back to the old neighborhood to visit. Oh well. For an 8th grader, it was a change that I finally got (over). But it took a while.

There ya go. It's not just the person but all the things associated with that person - house, hood, etc. So when the circumstances change, so too can the person... or your perception.

The latest issue of the Grey Nomads mag has an interesting intro to one of its stories (that I've not read yet) that reflects on the things that can make us happy: Who needs a house, a lawnmower, and a vacuum cleaner when you can have the freedom of the open road? Not us! Issue 86 of the Grey Nomad Times looks at scientific research showing that accumulating experiences instead of possessions is the real key to happiness.

If that's true, it probably applies to losing a best friend too. Friends can become like possessions and possessions are always vulnerable to loss. Unless you lose your mind, you can't lose experiences. And even if you do lose your mind, you're unaware of it. Anyway, I tend to believe I'll be a richer person in many ways after five years on the road as opposed to five years spent in the one spot with the same daily routine. How could I not be?

Anyone can write a journal about their travels but I want my journal to be much more than postcard pics and a record of places visited. I want it to be about lifestyle, and the discovery of self as well as places. Am I looking for meaning? I reckon so. Probably something to do with one's relationship with nature and the universe - a conscious connection. I suspect civilization has too many distractions to allow unfettered communication with ... whatever it is we call our soul or spirit hehe. At least, the one I'm looking for.

Which reminds me, I saw the most amazing photo this morning on Red Bubble - a monastry carved from a rock-face in a remote area of Jordan. It's a fascinating example of the artisan's raw material in its natural state contrasted with his creativity. It's like a "before and after" pic that we don't get to see with other examples of mankind's genius such as planes, skyscrapers, computers or whatever.

And on the subject of the accumulation of wealth, whether it be material or otherwise, I stopped buying lottery tickets a few months ago in an attempt to pay off some bills and save a few bucks. It was then that I realized I had no hope of ever buying property. Without a ticket in Lotto, I was doomed to be poor forever.

The chances of ever winning a major prize in Lotto are miniscule. True. But at least they're not zero. And there's a significant gap between miniscule and zero, at least psychologically. So the other day I splurged $10 on a $15m draw. I didn't win, not even a minor prize, but what the hell. I'll have another go another day - maybe in a week or a month. Dozen madder. What matters is hope.

From the Beeb: About half a million people have fled coastal villages and evacuated their homes in the Philippines as a powerful storm approaches the archipelago. Typhoon Hagupit, which weakened slightly on Friday night, is due to make landfall on Saturday evening. It is on course for the Eastern and Northern Samar provinces and the city of Tacloban, where thousands were killed by Typhoon Haiyan a year ago.

The US space agency's new Orion crew capsule has completed its maiden, unmanned voyage with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico. Drone video sighted the ship descending gently on its parachutes, shortly before it hit the water. US Navy support vessels, with the help of divers, moved in swiftly to recover the floating spacecraft. Orion is designed eventually to take humans beyond the space station, to destinations such as the Moon and Mars.

Can't shake the feeling that human evolution is still in its infancy.

The Duke of Cambridge will meet President Obama at the Oval Office on Monday, the White House has announced. Prince William's meeting with the president is part of a three-day trip to the east coast of the US and is his first visit to Washington DC. He is expected to give a speech on combating illegal wildlife trafficking at the World Bank. President Obama has welcomed the prince's work against what he called "a devastating environmental problem".

Kenyan head teacher Douglas Ochwodho Ondari was on a bus that was attacked by Somali al-Shabab militants last month in north-eastern Kenya, near the border with Somalia. He survived the attack, but 28 passengers, including his wife, did not. He told the BBC his distressing story:

Distressing is putting it mildly. And how alarming it is to know that the minds of men can be so easily and successfully manipulated by evil-doers.

Here's a little gem from a GN on the forum - how to fold a pop-up shower tent.

And that's it for Satdee. No noisy storms today... so far. Sydney was forecast to cop it again today, as well as other parts of the east coast. But what can you do? A GN posted a graphic recently about a lesson we can all learn from the weather - criticism never bothers it.

Oh yeah... before I go, here are a couple of examples of what man can do, beginning with a lump of modeling clay.


December 5, 2014. Have you ever been woken by the birds at sunrise, flat on your back in bed with your nekkid butt on a couple of sheets of newspaper, trying to deal with a faecial compaction prob when, lo and behold, you start coughing? No? Well, it's not a lotta fun, trust me. At least it prompted me to roll off the bed - veeeeeery carefully - and make for the loo. The coughing was a curse and a godsend at the same time hehe, and I felt the compaction slowly uncompacting. So I made it just in time.

I tried sitting on the loo for a long period earlier in the night but I passed out momentarily and fell off the loo onto the floor. Call an ambulance? Like this? Yeah, right. So I decided to risk it in bed.

Anyway, thanks to FL Josh and OH Jace for asking how I am. No wukkers. And speaking of food.... kinda... a woman went to breakfast at a restaurant where they had a 'senior's special' of 2 eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast for $2.99. When the waitress was ready to take the order, the woman said, "the senior's special sounds good. But I don't want the eggs." "In that case," the waitress replied, "that will be $3.99 because you're ordering a la carte." "You mean I'll have to pay for NOT taking the eggs?" the woman asked. "Yes." "Okay, then, I'll take the special." "How would you like your eggs?" "Raw and in the shell."

Don't mess with seniors.

Jim responded to my mention of Wingnut being upset about Cody and Mark graduating from school: You were talking about Wingnut being upset that Cody and Mark had graduated from high school ( or whatever they call it in SA). I know how he felt, when I lost my best friend when his parents bought a new house about 3 or 4 miles away. It was the first time I had ever felt being lonely. It was like my world was turned upside down the first time I went out the front door of our house, and started to cut across our neighbor's front yard to go to Mark's house, like I did a million times, and stopped, realizing that he wasn't there anymore. It was a bad summer.

Yep, I reckon most of us can identify with Wingnut's dilemma. I certainly did. I'd never really had a best friend when one kinda popped into my life and made himself a permanent fixture. We were both 16 and almost joined at the hip. Then one day, he told me he and his dad would be going to Canberra for his dad's work. I'd never felt this close to anyone before, of either gender. It was a whole new experience, and one I couldn't comprehend. He was standing at his open front door with me on his veranda saying goodbye when I was overcome by the desire to tell him how much he meant to me, and how much I would miss him. FOR A WHOLE TWO WEEKS. Seems funny now but it wasn't then. After a week, I got tired of waiting and rode my bike to his place every night for the remaining week hoping to see a light on. Lonliness was another whole new experience for me.

And then? He began to get a bit touchy feely and I wasn't prepared for anything like that. So it was see ya later, sunshine. I saw the local parish priest and asked him about it. He told me to say one Our Father and three Hail Marys and everything would be honky dory.

But, leaving that gem of insightful advice aside for the moment, it took Cody a while to discover that there was life after Mark when Mark went to Joberg, just as it did when Paul left Cape Town with his folks for England... and as it did for Jim when his best mate disappeared out of his life: I think that me moping around the house led my Dad to drop the old Detrola radio on my desk one Saturday afternoon, and hook up the antenna to a screw on the heating register. That radio led me to discovering other kids on Ham Radio, and eventually getting my own license. And of course making friends with all the other kids I heard that day. But that was all in the future and I wasn't in a good state that morning when I realized my best friend was not there anymore. I was so lost. "Not the same".

Losing something to which or whom we're attached ain't easy, to be sure. But like a gambler desperate to win back his losses, trying to recapture the past just doesn't work. In fact, it makes the problem worse. Nothing stays the same. Period. I made that mistake when my pro career went for a major slide and took all my old colleagues with it.

Teaching Cody such lessons about life helped me teach myself. Funny about that. If I'd never experienced the collapse of my "previous" life, and things had remained rosy, I would have been useless to Cody and his issues. And to his mate Steve as well.

There's a light show at the mo, lots of thunder as well, cooling off a hot and humid day. I was out there on the lawn a moment ago, checking out some plants. No sooner had I arrived back here than a sharp crack of lightning sounded and it appeared to come from directly above this house! Sheesh! Fried GK would make faecial impaction look a bit ordinary. Could have done with some of those sound effects last night though.

From the Beeb: Protests have been held for a second night over the death of a black man held in an apparent chokehold by a white New York police officer. Thousands of people took to the streets in New York and other US cities, disrupting traffic and holding sit-ins. The protests began on Wednesday, after a grand jury decided not to press charges over the death of Eric Garner. Civil rights activists are pinning their hopes on a federal investigation into the case. This one ain't goin' away in a hurry.

The Australian parliament has approved changes to immigration laws that include reintroducing controversial temporary visas for refugees. The bill will allow refugees to live and work in Australia for three to five years, but denies them permanent protection. It was passed by 34 votes to 32 in the senate and later backed by MPs. Australia currently detains all asylum seekers who arrive by boat, holding them in offshore processing camps.

The man responsible for the Vatican's finances says he has found millions of Euros "tucked away" off balance sheets. Cardinal George Pell, who heads the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy, said it meant the Holy See's finances were better than expected. He made the comments in the Catholic Herald, in an essay outlining his vision for the Vatican. Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Pell as part of his efforts to reform the Church and make it more transparent. "It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke," Cardinal Pell wrote. "Apart from the pension fund (...) the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments. Trust an Aussie to find the hidden goodies.

Well, that's it for today. Been a bit lazy and taking it easy after being knocked about a bit... first by the crook tummy and then the poo that refused to budge. I'm getting too bloody old for all this nonsense. I wanna go outside and play! Gary

December 4, 2014. I've been thinking a little more about the rise of Artificial Intelligence, and how some scientists warn that it may supersede human intelligence and make us redundant. Well, there'll be no need for the sexes any longer. AI will be genderless. I imagine it will also be humorless, soul-less, emotion-less and god-less. Will that be good or bad? Hard to say. On the other hand, perhaps things like greed, hate, envy, anger and irrational behavior will no longer exist as well.

Meanwhile, we're still living in the early part of the 21st century and TX Greg reckons my absorption camper fridge doesn't need any regular exercise: Nope, no need to fire the fridge up once a month. Your cooling coil is a permanent sealed ammonia charge, maintenance free, non-serviceable. Either a rust thru pin hole leaks the ammonia charge or running the fridge off level causes the chemicals to crystallize like a clogged artery, either of which would be time for a new fridge. The only reason you might want to fire the fridge up once a month on gas would be to check that the burner is clean and no spiders have crawled up into the orifice. Ever had a spider crawl up your orifice, hahaha.

No spiders, no. And that's all I'm sayin'. Although, a nurse at RPA in Sydney did find a long thermometer up my passage after the cancer op. It was like an engine dip stick hehe. Ew! She began with an inspection after rolling me on my side, and said, "What's this?" How the hell was I supposed to know?

Anyway, thanks for the fridge info, Greg. OH Jim also reminded me to leave the fridge door open when not in use to avoid smells. Well, it doesn't have one of those chain thingies that allows the door to remain open and that also prevents it from closing during transit. There was one on the Kombi fridge. So PJ's remains closed, held in place by a bolt. I open it occasionally to let it air but it never smells. Maybe that's because it's an absorption type. There's nothing organic in the fridge anyway.

Greg also asked if I remembered the original Star Wars ticket on Cody's Pad sent by his buddy TJ. Yep, it popped into my head when OH Jim mentioned it was 38 years ago. $2.50 admission, huh? Lucky to get a bag of popcorn for that these days. Anyone got a blender? I have it pureed.

Speaking of pureed, I just called the prof's office in Sydney to see if February is still on the agenda for the op on my gum. They've just moved offices AGAIN... not very far tho... just across the road. They're still in the process of getting all their computer records functioning again. But the nurse said they need a new set of scans, this time of my scapula (for suitable bone tissue, I guess) and also vascular scans of my legs (suitable blood vessel to keep the new bone alive). They used tissue from my right arm last time. Anyway, they asked if it's a hassle going to Sydney for the scans rather than Port Macquarie. Sydney means an overnight train trip and back again that afternoon but if it also means better access to the scan results, then hey let's do Sydney. And another photo shoot. What part of Sydney this time? A ferry trip along the Parramatta River? That would be a first for me.

So that's good. I'm getting pretty tired of this toothess gum business - unable to eat or speak properly. No way I wanna spend the rest of my life like this.

But back to the Parramatta River for a tick, there were lots of popular swimming places along the banks during the early 1900s but eventually industry polluted what was once a major thoroughfare between Sydney and Parramatta. During recent decades it's been cleaned up sufficiently to re-introduce ferry traffic and the opening of new residential sites (to replace factories) along its foreshores, but swimming would require a more thorough clean. At least it's on the drawing board.

And now to solving problems by process of elimination. OH Jim has a tricky piece of ham equipment that went pffffft one day for no obvious reason. So yesterday he tried the POE trick. He scrounged around and found a working valve which he substituted for each of the receiver's 29 valves (tubes), one at a time, expecting to find the faulty culprit sooner or later. Roite? It took him all afternoon. And when he finally got to the 29th tube, guess what? They were all working fine. Then he swapped a short jumper cable leading from the radio to the antenna switch. Voila!

Now the cable was the last thing on Jim's mind that could be blamed for the problem. It had sat there for 2 years in the same spot doing nothing. So what I wanna know is if you use the POE system for tracking a fault, why is it that the last thing you eliminate is the one you should have tried first?

My situation with the medication for my gum problem was similar in that after 2 years trial, the prof pronounced it a failure. Thanks, prof. Now if you were a medico specializing in head and neck surgery, and you thought there was a chance that trialling a relatively new procedure might earn you a credit for its success, and you had a patient on the public system ready to be the guinea pig, wouldn't you go for it?

As to memory and old photos, etc, Jim wrote: And I remember reading an interview with one of the Mouseketeers, (maybe Cubby O'Brien?) in which he said "I sorta remember doing all of those TV shows, I can see myself doing it on DVD, but for the most part it is all a blur".

Yeah, the adult memory hasn't formed properly yet so childhood memories are not only fewer, they're fainter (unless reinforced by some sort of trauma). This morning while adding malt to my oats, I got a bit on my finger and sucked it. The raw taste stirred a memory of my dummy (pacifier) as a baby having been dipped in malt. Amazingly that memory aided by my sense of taste is still there even after almost 70 years. Other information about my mother or the room or the cradle wasn't absorbed, obviously. So it must be that taste is one of our first memory producing senses. Touch would be another but too vague to form a specific memory. The taste of malt is very specific, and it was probably the same Aussie brand of liquid extract as I use now.

From the Beeb: The US justice department is to launch a civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner, a black man who was placed in an apparent chokehold by a white New York police officer. The inquiry was announced by Attorney General Eric Holder after a grand jury decided against charging the officer. Crowds gathered in New York to protest against the grand jury's decision. President Barack Obama said the case "speaks to larger issues" between minorities and law enforcement. It certainly does.

A man involved in a car chase with the police in Van Nuys, California, tried to get away on his skateboard after crashing his car. However, he was stopped by a red pickup truck, which swerved to block his path. The truck was driven by Lou Pizarro, who is a realty TV star from the US programme, ''Operation Repo''.

Oops! Friday morning already. Sorry about not posting this earlier but I had a major problem yesterday afternoon with faecial impaction that has taken me till just an hour ago to resolve. It was so bad I couldn't even sit down to send this! Figured I might need one of those an enema thingies at the hospital but I did my own until it got too painful so I took a glass of salts and waited for it to work, which was over 15 hours. Anyway, I'll send this now and write another Waffle during the day. Toodleoo Mr Poo! So nice to see you.... GONE! Gary

December 3, 2014. That Mylanta stuff worked pretty well and I feel a lot better. I'll take more doses today just to be sure.

Naturally, the scene drawn by OH Jim's grandaughter and now decorating his fridge which I posted yesterday would have been obvious to almost everyone but in case you found it a tad elusive (like me), here's Jim's explanation: It's Disney on Ice that they went to last year when Gwen was 3, and those are ice skates on their feet. They are gliding around the ice on one skate. The middle person is suppose to be Rapunzel. "She had long hair", according to Gwen. Gwen is really into all the Disney princesses, be it The Little Mermaid, Tangled or Frozen, like any typical 4 year old girl is. Of course, her Mother and Grandmothers don't help any. She gets all the dolls and dresses that they sell in 4 year old sizes. Maybe there is an advantage from being so far away LOL.

Yes, of course, I can see it all now. Plain as day. Disney on Ice. Duh.

Jim also mentioned the trailer for Star Wars 7 being released, and reminded me that the first Star Wars movie was released 38 years ago in 1977. That was the year Elvis Presley died. I was working for ABC radio on the mid north coast back then, living not far from Macksville where Phil Hughes' funeral is taking place today, and which is being televised live by the ABC. Even the visiting Indian test team will be there.

38 years ago? It's weird to remember stuff from so long ago that seems so relatively recent. Memory plays tricks on us, suspending various incidents in time so that we imagine they are still accessible. But I learned during a visit to my old house earlier this year that time has indeed moved on and things ain't the way they used to be. A good reason to embrace the present and make the most of it.

I remember Wingnut sulking under a tree in the school yard after attending the goodbye gathering of seniors for the final time in the assembly hall. The grommet was pissed off about Cody and Mark no longer being accessible at school, and when Cody tried to describe how they were neighbors and that Mark often visited, all Wingnut could say was "Not the same!"

True. But consider the alternative. Imagine if nothing ever changed!

Nonetheless, I find historic photographs fascinating, especially from a bygone era and when they feature people. To see a split second of their lives frozen in time makes me wonder what they were thinking and what they had planned for that particular day. But the moment a match is put to that photograph you realize, as the flames consume it, that you're not looking at the past at all, but simply an image printed on paper. And finally a little pile of black ash.

From the Beeb: Iran has conducted air strikes against Islamic State (IS) targets in eastern Iraq during recent days, a Pentagon spokesman says. Rear Adm John Kirby said the US, which has conducted its own air strikes in Iraq, was not co-ordinating with Iran. A senior Iranian military official also dismissed talk of co-operation between the two countries. The US has said it would be inappropriate for Iran to join that coalition, even though the two long-time adversaries face a common enemy in IS.

Phillip Hughes' funeral is being telecast live from Macksville, and the Beeb is relaying it to the world from London with a BBC reporter in attendance. This link to a progressive report may no longer be operative by the time Wafflers in the northern hemisphere rise and shine.

Phillip Hughes: Australia united in grief after batsman's shock death. Summer in Australia means cricket. That's just the way it is. Footy boots are put away and cricket bats come out. The seasons mean a set of bat and stumps is the perfect present from Santa. Those bats, a symbol of carefree fun in the sun and of a young kid's dream, now symbolise the life of Phillip Hughes, who died on Thursday playing the sport he loved; the sport millions of Australians love.

Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain's pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. He told the BBC:"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI. But others are less gloomy about AI's prospects.

Despite my feeling better now that the antacid stuff has done its thing, today's Waffle is still a shortie. I've had a few sleeps today as well but maybe that's cos it's hot and humid, unlike Ohio, Kentucky and Oregon. Or even Texas. I've also been off my food and probably lost a little weight as well as strength. In my condition, I can't afford to lose a gram let alone a kg or two.

I read a comment about gas camper fridges on the GN forum where someone said they should be fired up about once a month when not in regular use. Mine's been dormant for over 12 months! I wonder what TX Greg has to say about that. Gary

December 2, 2014. Still not feeling hundreds and still sleeping heaps. Food feels like it's getting stuck in my chest and if I consume anything creamy it makes my spit stringy and thick. OK Mike wrote and suggested peppermint for a sour belly. I have a bottle of Mylanta here which is peppermint flavored. You're supposed to take it 3 or 4 times a day, and not within 2 hours of any other medication, so I'll try that.

Mike has some thoughts about Thanksgiving which are worth passing on: Much of your post of the past week or so has been about the holidays , chiefly Thanksgiving . Yes it is easy to find yourself celebrating achievement of the material world , but this is not " the why " I celebrate Thanksgiving . To me Thanksgiving is the day I reflect on as to having just enough . Just enough income to satisfy my needs and meager wants , just enough friends to share the important stuff with , just enough smarts to leave alone things I need to leave alone , and just enough of a belief system to carry me when issues over come me . 

During a recent 12 step meeting "gratitude" was broached as a subject . Nowhere in all the others' sharing did I hear where anyone was grateful with being OK , with having " just enough " . Gary , the feeling of not having was why I drank in the way I did . I drank for a feeling of contentment and never achieved it . Today , nearly 18 years sober I know what true gratitude is and what it's not .

OR Richie would share your sentiment, Mike. He's been there too. In my case, I'm hoping that contentment can come from enjoying nature on my travels - an early morning or late evening walk along a beach, sitting on the bank of a creek under a willow tree, gazing into the flames of a campfire, watching shooting stars at night in the outback. I hope to be able to say, one day, that all of those things are my friends. Make that close friends.

OH Jim spent his Thanksgiving alone but was rewarded soon afterwards: Had dinner with (daughter) Beth and Gwen last night. I met them at Frisch's. I can't believe how tall Gwen is. She wasn't that big in late July. Sigh. I miss them a ton at times. Wish they lived closer, but that's the breaks, I guess. Gwen will be starting kindergarten next year, and she can already write her name. Frisch's gives little kids a kid's menu that they can either color or turn over and draw on. They give each kid some crayons that they can keep. So I now have some new refrigerator art!

I'm sure OH Jim also knows a thing or two about gratitude.

Mike shares my feelings about Christmas. Ho ho ho. Many at the meetings attempt to slam me for my " disbelief " system , ha if only they knew . Exposure to many different belief and faith practices have shown me that the very best I can do in life will still land me in hell , so why bother . I have found it Okay to let others believe in anything they care as long as they don't try to sell their shit to me . OR if their belief states that as an infidel I need to be shot , I will shoot back ! The one sport I excelled at was three gun competition winning many , many meets .

I find it curious that some people want to argue about their beliefs or try to impose them. Perhaps they're insecure and seeking constant reassurance. Or perhaps they're just bullies to begin with. I'm happy to state my views and even discuss them, but I'll leave arguing and bullying to others.

Jim also commented again on the death of cricketer Phil Hughes. He wasn't Australia's best known sportsman by any means but his death has certainly affected the nation. Even parliament paused for a minute's silence. His funeral will be held in his home town of Macksville just north of here. I don't expect it to be televised live but it will certainly be recorded and broadcast nationally on the news.

But as good as young Phil was, and could have become had he lived, the man to beat was "The Don", Don Bradman, the greatest test batsman of all time. As a kid growing up in Bowral, a country town in NSW, he practiced with a cricket stump and a golf ball which was a lot harder than using a regular bat and cricket ball. As a professional player for Australia, his test batting average was 99.94, just a whisker under a century every time he set foot on a cricket pitch. They said he was worth "three batsmen" to the Oz team. I watched a Brit quiz show last night and they were talking about batting averages. Anything in the high 40s or over is exceptional. Bradman was unique.

Thanks for the contributions, dear Breth. You've made it easy to fulfill my Waffle obligations for today while I'm still feeling a little poorly. Gary

December 1, 2014. My automatic Citizen stopped at 2.35am cos I wasn't energetic enough yesterday, sleeping most of the day or dozing in an attempt to settle my upset tummy. It seemed to work okay and I feel a little better today, although not completely hundreds as Cody would have put it.

Before I fergit, OH Jim wanted to know if Phil Hughes was a bowler (pitcher) or a batsman (batter). He was batting and up to his 63rd run when the bowler's short ball struck him. In cricket, two guys from the same team are at each end of the pitch. When a ball is hit far enough to get a run (before it's caught by the opposing team), both the batsman and his team mate run to opposite ends of the pitch (and then back again if there's time). If the batsman hits a ball to the edge of the field boundary, it's counted as four runs automatically and the players don't need to run. If the ball lands outside the boundary, it's counted as a six.

But Jim's big love is Formula 1 racing. I'm blowed if I can get excited about those things. Even the V8 Supercars don't grab me. When the Armstrong 500 (as in miles, and now the Bathurst 1000) featured competing cars almost straight from the showrooms, it was exciting, and the cars were the same models we could buy for ourselves. But the super cars they race these days cost a million bucks apiece and have virtually nothing in common with regular road cars at all, except for a badge.

But as much as Jim loves F1, he reckons the cars could do with a styling makeover: I have to agree that the current open wheel cars, be it F1 or IndyCar, are butt ugly. And in the case of F1, they sound like vacuum sweepers to add insult to injury. Screw the ecco/green crap that they are trying to do. I want screaming V8 or even better V-12's. Or turbo charged Offenhausers or Ford Cosworth V8s. Sorry for the rant, but Bernie Ecclestone has been the worst thing that ever happened to F1, just another Tony George, who screwed up IndyCar in the US, setting Indycar back 50 years.

Well, I suppose you're either a sporting person or you ain't. And I ain't. I must be missing a male chromosome or something. My two older bros played tennis and one also played soccer. Now it's golf and lawn bowls. My younger bro was like me, he played no sport but he did like boating and fishing, and in his last years he was seriously into fitness and dancing.

We're into summer programming on telly now so all the regular shows have ended their seasons and we're getting the crap. Funny thing is (not so funny, really) they sell the summer crap using the same superlatives like "compelling" and "gripping" as the good stuff. Oh, puh-leeeeease, gimme a break! And much of the programming is sport. Sportsportsportsportsportsportsport.

Oh yeah... and the Christmas shows also get a re-run. Ho, ho, ho. *sigh*

From the Beeb: The United Nations Ebola mission chief has said there is still a "huge risk" that the deadly virus could spread to other parts of the world. Anthony Banbury was speaking to the BBC in Freetown, the capital and one of the worst-affected areas of Sierra Leone.

Australia has always suffered from bouts of extreme hot weather but the number and intensity of heatwaves is on the rise, prompting a rethink of how the country lives, works and plays in the sun. Some like it hot, but the 13-day stretch of weather exceeding 40C in Longreach that ended last week was some of the hottest weather in living memory for the Queensland town.

Phillip Hughes's final innings has been adjusted to show him being 63 not out after an update from Cricket Australia. Hughes, 25, died on Thursday, two days after being hit by a bouncer in a domestic match in Australia. The scoreboard had listed him as retired hurt but the match was abandoned and he was not replaced. "It might seem like a little thing, but it's an important distinction," said CA chief James Sutherland. "Phillip will forever remain 63 not out." His innings will now be officially recorded as an unbeaten 63.

Bet you didn't see this one coming. This modified Oldsmobile - believed to be the world's first official Batmobile - is coming up for auction in America. You see, a few years before the TV series kicked off in the mid-Sixties, a man named Forrest Robinson decided to profess his love of Batman in the only way he knew how. By dismantling a car and remaking it in the image of the Caped Crusader's own whip. Hardened Batman fans will remember that the original Batmobile was just a teardrop coupe from the 1930s, taken from the comics.

Speaking of the way things useta was, I watched a shark program on telly that said back in the 60s when the surf culture became popular, no one worried about sharks. They were rarely seen. But things are different now that many of the fishing grounds have been overfished. In some areas, stocks have been seriously depleted which has affected where sharks go in search of food. Some are cruising closer to beaches.

One of the shark guys said some of the "predictions" in the Jaws film were now coming true. He said they were in a boat some distance offshore when a 4m shark raised its head out of the water and eyeballed them. After a while, it dove to the bottom, turned and shot straight up at the boat, slamming into it at 25km/h. The attempt by the shark to destroy the boat went on for quite a while, and it took all the knowhow the guys could muster to stay afloat. When they finally got back to shore, thankful but shaken, they met another fisherman who watched the encounter. He explained that he'd been out there the day before when he hooked the shark and then dragged it back and forth trying to tire it, but it got away.

The guy on TV concluded that it was the same shark hell bent on revenge, which meant it must've had a memory of sorts and been capable of hate.

Various victims of shark attacks were interviewed on the program and all of them mentioned the size of the dorsal fin - how enormous it was up close, and terrifying.

So, you see, all that fishing by mankind without giving a thought to sustainability has had its consequences. Fortunately, the authorities in Oz have woken up to the problem and created large marine parks to replenish depleted stocks. By the way, Cody had a number of surfing posters on the walls of his room but not Jaws. Funny about that.

Well, I'm not as crook as yesterday but I know my tummy is ready to kick up a stink again if I feed it the wrong stuff, so I think I'll settle for scrambled eggs tonight and hit the sack early. Gary


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