the WAFFLE page

July 31, 2011. Tomorrow's pretty important if you happen to be a horse. A horse in the southern hemisphere, that is. January 1 is used as the common birthdate for horses in the northern hemisphere and August 1 for horses in the southern hemisphere. This is to coincide with horse racing seasons.

Yesterday's link to a sleepy dog prompted NC Art to tell a story about British humor: The train was quite crowded, so a U.S. Marine walked the entire length looking for a seat, but the only seat left was taken by a well dressed, middle-aged, French woman's poodle. The war-weary Marine asked, "Ma'am, may I have that seat?" The French woman just sniffed and said to no one in particular, "Americans are so rude.  My little Fifi is using that seat." The Marine walked the entire train again, but the only seat left was under that dog. "Please, ma'am.  May I sit down?  I'm very tired." 

She snorted, "Not only are you Americans rude, you are also arrogant!"

This time the Marine didn't say a word; he just picked up the little dog, tossed it out the train window, and sat down. The woman shrieked, "Someone must defend my honor!  Put this American in his place!" An English gentleman sitting nearby spoke up, "Sir, you Americans often seem to have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You hold the fork in the wrong hand. You drive your autos on the wrong side of the road. And now, sir, you seem to have thrown the wrong bitch out the window". 

An English gent would have said 'motor cars'. But it's funny anyway.

Speaking of accents, here's a Brit who seems to understand what the Aussie accent is all about. Apparently, Aussies have a penchant for dipthongs; a combination of vowels rather than a pure vowel sound. Right becomes roite and nice becomes noice. Hehe. Mate becomes maete. We also drop the 'r' sound at the end of a word. River becomes rivah and mister becomes mistah. I use gonna in my written English but in Oz it's pronounced gunna. A 'gunna' in Oz is someone who's always gonna do something but never gets around to it. A bit like me and the Odyssey.

Then of course you get Italians trying to speak English.

Beeb time: Republican leaders have expressed confidence that a deal can be struck to raise the nation's debt limit before Tuesday, and avert possible default. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said there was "a level of seriousness with the right people at the table". But his Democratic counterpart said there was no "meaningful" engagement. In a sign of the level of anxiety over the issue, troops in Afghanistan asked Adm Mike Mullen if they would be paid. The admiral, who as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is on a visit to southern Afghanistan, said he did not know whether that would be the case if the US fails to raise the $14.3tn (£8.7tn) limit by 2 August. Democrats and Republicans have so far rejected each others' proposals for cutting spending and raising the debt limit. It's a worry. Brinkmanship I think is the word used to describe such situations. A plane has crashed and broken in two on landing at Guyana's main airport in the capital, Georgetown, causing injuries but no deaths. The Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737-800 flight BW-523 from New York had 163 people aboard. The plane apparently overshot the runway at Cheddi Jagan International Airport during wet weather. "It's an absolute miracle that took place today," said Caribbean Airlines chairman George Nicholas. A few passengers sustained bruises, with one suffering a broken leg. One woman passenger said she was in terror. "I was praying to Jesus." Anders Breivik has admitted killing 77 people in two attacks in Norway. Peter Svaar from Norway's broadcaster NRK was one of the first reporters at the scene of the Oslo bomb blast, and describes finding out that it was a former classmate who carried out the attacks. Read the full article here

Well, I've decided I need more exercise. A lot more. I've been getting seriously lazy and unfit lately, so I went for a walk around the block. But half way around, I spotted a motorhome parked by the river. I do love a chat, ya know, so I wandered down there, took a few pics with the little Fuji and then stuck my head in the driver's side window and said, "G'day". And that's how I met Pru and Mike (Or was it Mick? Can't recall.) Anyway, we had a good ol' chat for quite a while about traveling Oz. I'll do a small Journal entry tomorrow with a few pics. I also made a few notes so I don't forget the convo.

Travelers are very easy to talk to. No worries about striking up a conversation. Maybe they're more relaxed about meeting strangers. And why wouldn't they be? Who the hell else is "out there"? Anyway, it's a bit late now to do the journal entry. Gotta do all that boring domestic stuff shortly. Bleh.

Bacon and eggs and.... no, I better not say. Gary

July 30, 2011. The United States has one of the widest rich-poor gaps of any high-income nation today, and that gap continues to grow. In recent times, some prominent economists including Alan Greenspan have warned that the widening rich-poor gap in the U.S. population is a problem that could undermine and destabilize the country's economy and standard of living stating that "The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself".

I pasted that from Wikipedia in response to a discussion going on at Justin's Blog between a couple of lawyers with differering points of view, such as the credibility of the Tea Party.

Here's NC Art's take on "Gurvermints": The epic struggles over raising  U.S. debt ceiling go on apace. One problem with the American experiment in self-government is that every time we get our shit together we misplace it. Dictators have it so easy--until someone shoots them, that is. 

And here's Oregon Richie's: News of Norway seems to be increasing here not to even forget mention of the debt ceiling and budget battles back in DC.  We're all pawns.... I swear to the almighty we're just pawns !!  Currently poorer people pay less taxes if much at all and the very wealthy pay less, too... but guess what?  The remaining middling class folks seem to pay proportionally MORE !!  Now ain't that a surprise....

Yes, pawns. I remember my lawyer saying that to me when I appeared in court many decades ago. "It's a game between the judge and the lawyers, Gary, and I'm afraid you're the pawn."

Beeb time: The US House of Representatives has passed a Republican bill proposed by Speaker John Boehner to increase the nation's debt ceiling. Mr Boehner's plan passed the House by a vote of 218-210, with 22 Republicans and every Democrat voting against. Read the full report here. The chief of the Turkish armed forces, Isik Kosaner, has resigned along with the army, navy and air force heads. They were furious about the arrest of senior officers, accused of plotting, shortly before a round of military promotions. There has been a history of tension between the secularist military and the governing AK party, with the two sides engaged in a war of words for the past two years over allegations that parts of the military had been plotting a coup. That's all we need... more instability. The pilots of an Air France plane that plunged into the Atlantic in 2009 lacked adequate training to deal with high-altitude stalling, a report finds. The trouble I have with flying is that at 32,000 feet there's nowhere to go but down. Tens of thousands of Syrians have again turned out for Friday protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. Troops fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters, killing two people and wounding dozens, activists said. There have been reports of fighting in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour between military intelligence agents and residents after five protesters were killed overnight. I really do wonder if those people have any idea of what it's like to live in a country like Australia. Police in northern California have uprooted 460,000 plants and made more than 100 arrests in a major operation against illegal marijuana cultivation. Authorities said they had seized 1,500 pounds (680kg) of processed marijuana, 27 guns and 11 vehicles over two weeks in Mendocino National Forest. The 900,000-acre site is part of an area known as the Emerald Triangle for its high number of marijuana plots. I remember God saying something about apples but I don't remember him saying anything about marijuana. And speaking of apples: Apple now has more cash to spend than the United States government. Latest figures from the US Treasury Department show that the country has an operating cash balance of $73.7bn (£45.3bn). Apple's most recent financial results put its reserves at $76.4bn. Moving right along... Chinese migrants endured more than a century of government-backed discrimination in Australia. Now, Chinese Australians are about to ask for a formal apology. Descendants of those 19th Century labourers and miners say it is time that Australia said sorry for the past. I don't get it. How can the current generation apologize for something their ancestors did? We can regret what happened, yes, but who are we to say sorry? The people who need to say sorry are all dead. I feel the same way about apologizing to Aborigines for the way they were treated by past generations of European settlers in Australia. That's like asking all white Americans to apologize for black slavery. It's in the past... finito, kaputski. Let's move on. Major carmakers have agreed new fuel efficiency standards proposed by the Obama administration in an effort to end the dominance of gas guzzlers. They have agreed that by 2025, cars and light trucks sold in the US will drive on average 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) of fuel, compared with 27 mpg today. It's about bloody time. The Europeans have been doing it for decades. 

Meanwhile, 2025 is 14 years away, so what's happening with alternative fuels such as electric cars?

I favorited a couple more Red Bubble pics this morning. This one I found irresistible, and one with which I can readily identify. And here's one I can only dream about photographing. It's amazing.

Back from shopping, including Averil's. I always take my little Fuji with me just in case I spot something... and I did! And now it's time for kitchen duties. I bought some of Eddy's chicken rissoles, which are lovely. I asked Lindsay what he wanted them served with and he said... CHIPS! What? Chips again? Well, I don't mind really... I love chips. Hehe. Always have. And it's pretty hard to go past the ones I make. Gary

July 29, 2011. Census time! Well, it will be on August 9. A lady from the Bureau of Statistics called to the front door this morning at 9am to hand me a bit of paperwork. I chose to do mine on line. Mucho easier. Seems like it's the centenary of the Australian census - 1911-2011, so it apparently began 10 years after federation. Not sure what happened before that. Maybe no one cared.

NC Art wrote: You are right about the foot pump. but a hand powered bicycle pump was an old standby, but still required effort. A 12-volt contraption worked for me--once, then blew its seal and went to the junk heap. May I reasonably suggest a trip to a tire repair shop to plug the pesky leak in the damned tire? Or are you thinking of vast empty spaces to be encountered when the Odyssey begins? (On my long trip from Georgia to Alaska, we carried three spare tires and used them all!)

The question that immediately springs to mind is, why not use the 1 spare three times? Hehe. I think I know the answer to that one. When I first used the foot pump, I jumped up and down on the pedal like like a man possessed. Oops! Gotta give the cylinder time to fill with air, I thought. So I slowed down and it worked better. But it's not something I'd wanna do for a living. As to a trip to the tire repair shop, I can't drive Das Busse on public roads because she's not registered. So I'd have to remove the wheel and use Bluey to take it down to the tire place. All too hard. Besides, the leak is very slow. It's taken 4 months for the tire to lose a third pressure. I'm also thinking of being in remote areas where an air compressor might be very useful, even if only required once or twice. This kinda problem never happened when cars used solid rubber tires, ya know. Then Robert William Thomson came along in 1846 and buggered everything with his pneumatic tire, which John Boyd Dunlop used on bicycle wheels. Then Michelin introduced the first pneumatic automobile tire in 1895.

Some years ago in Sydney, I was driving my Kombi as a car approached from the opposite direction. When the other car was almost level with mine, I heard a loud bang. As the car sped past, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw it doing a couple of 360s. Its front tire had blown. Fortunately, the road was free of traffic. Had the tire blown a few seconds earlier, that car would have collided head on with my Kombi. Incidentally, I had a set of Michelins on the Kombi and they were still in good nick when I sold it 8 years later. 

Beeb time: The military commander of the Libyan rebels fighting to topple Col Muammar Gaddafi has been killed, the rebel National Transitional Council says. NTC head Mustafa Abdul-Jalil said Gen Abdel Fattah Younes was killed by assailants, and the head of the group responsible had been arrested. He said Gen Younes was summoned for questioning about military operations, but never made it to the meeting. Gen Younes is a former Libyan interior minister who defected to the rebel side in February. He was also part of the group that helped bring Col Gaddafi to power in 1969. Sorry... I don't get it. A Republican bill to raise the US debt ceiling, cut spending and avert default on US debt is inching toward back-to-back votes in the House and Senate. But House Speaker John Boehner's bill faces a conservative revolt, unanimous opposition by Senate Democrats and a White House veto threat. A House vote was delayed on Thursday evening as Republican leaders struggled to round up support. Congress must raise the US debt limit by a deadline of next Tuesday. Fix the problem, boys, and stop arguing about how. Police in Norway have called off the search for further victims of a killing spree on Utoeya island, but are still searching the water around it. Anders Behring Breivik was arrested by police on the island and has admitted to shooting 68 people there and killing eight in a bombing in Oslo. Most were teenagers, the youngest of them being 14-year-old Johannes Buoe. Mr Breivik has claimed he acted to stem what he called the Islamisation of western Europe, blaming the government for allowing it to happen. One twisted mind, 76 people dead. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful. A San Francisco judge has struck a proposed male circumcision ban from a November ballot, ruling that the city cannot regulate medical procedure and citing religious freedom protections. The ruling was applauded by opponents of the proposed ban, who attacked it as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim. In May, advocates of a ban gathered enough voter signatures to put the measure on the city's ballot. They described the sacred rite for Jews and Muslims as "genital mutilation". There ya go. Sacred rites. God appeared in the clouds one day and said, "Sorry, guys, I made a mistake. You don't need that bit, so you can cut it off." US car maker Ford is planning to expand its operations in India as it attempts to capture a greater share of the country's car market. The US carmaker says it plans to invest $1bn (£612m) in building a new factory in the western state of Gujarat, its second production line in India. The announcement comes as Ford is looking to increase its global sales by 50% over the next four years. India is one of the fastest-growing car markets in the world. Cars are no good without roads, mate. And guess who pays for roads whether they own a car or not? Oliver and Olivia were the most popular baby names across England and Wales in 2010 for the second year running, figures show. The top four boys' names - Oliver, Jack, Harry and Alfie - all held their popularity, the Office of National Statistics' 2010 list shows. There were no new entries in the girls' top 10, but Sophie, Emily, Lily and Amelia all rose into the top five. Ollie was the fastest rising name in the boys' top 100 while Olly was 113th. What happened to Tom, Dick and Harry?

It's 19C at the mo, and we can expect highs of 20 to 21C (70F) during the next few days. Not bad for winter! And it's sunny as well. I spent a while in my sun room (otherwise known as Das Busse) earlier, and nodded off as usual. I'm a bit reticent to admit that publicly but... oh well... I can be excused because I'm a senior citizen, and we oldies can get away with being a tad eccentric.

1. It's a very nice campervan. Do you use it often?
2. Oh yes, quite often.
1. Where have you been?
2. Well... er, nowhere yet. But I sit in it. And I pump up the tires regularly.
1. Here in the backyard?
2. Yes.
1. How, er, interesting.

Okies, time to cook din dins... meatloaf with roast spuds and pumpkin, and gravy. Can't beat the ol' home cooking, ya know. Gary

July 28, 2011. I'm glad Lindsay is here to organize Sue in the bathroom. It's a bloody circus and one I prefer not to be involved in. In fact, there's no way I could look after Sue by myself... showering and all that stuff.

Well, Mieke, one of my fav Red Bubblers, emailed me to say she did a little investigating and discovered that a bunch of visitors to her Bubble page came from some place called Aussie Odyssey hehe. I got sprung. But she's cool. She even sent me hugs. Anyway, I think her work is great. She has a keen eye and a very artistic approach. In my reply to her mail I told her to "watch out cos I'm taking notes".

Yes, dear Breth, photography is not just about pointing and shooting. Rather, it's all about the eye of the beholder. Here's an interesting example. There are miles of mudflats around Derby in West Oz, stretching as far as the eye can see. All very boring, really. But not to Mieke. She chose a small sample and used the camera to isolate it and frame it. And this is what she produced. I think it's remarkable. Notice how she uses portrait mode to accent the isolated detail and give the image added depth. She's the type of person who really does see the trees for the forest.

The job of an artist - musician, painter, photographer, poet - is to recognize the things the rest of us see but fail to note. Comedians are the same. Artists act as tour guides on the journey of life.

By the way, I spotted a short report by Ten News in Oz about the Norwegian bomber and shooter. In a word? Insane.

Being insane is not like having a cold. If you have a cold you know you have a cold. If you have a sore toe you know you have a sore toe. But if you're insane, guess what? The other worrying aspect of insanity is that you can be insane but not stupid.

Beeb time: Tripoli has condemned the UK for recognising the rebels as Libya's "sole governmental authority" after similar moves by France and the US. Khaled Kaim, deputy foreign minister in Muammar Gaddafi's government, told reporters the decision was unprecedented and irresponsible. Libya would seek to reverse the decision through the courts, he said. Britain has ordered the expulsion of all eight remaining Gaddafi diplomats in the UK. Courts? What courts? Meanwhile, I'm amazed that Gaddafi and his supporters have managed to hang on for so long given the pounding they've endured. Top Republicans and Democrats go back to the drawing board with their budget plans after nonpartisan analysts said their sums did not add up. Hehe. Silly bois! But it's not funny really. Those guys are playing with people's lives. Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg has announced the creation of a "22 July Commission" to investigate Friday's bomb and gun attacks. He said the commission, agreed to by all political parties, would analyse everything that happened. The speed of the police response to Anders Behring Breivik's second attack, on Utoeya island, has been questioned. I'm not surprised. The response was pathetic. Folk rock musician Dan Peek, who sang lead vocals with the band America, has died at his home in Missouri aged 60. Peek was a member of the Grammy winning group for seven years and co-wrote numerous hits including chart topper A Horse With No Name. America's Dewey Bunnell said that Peek's music will "live on in the great songs he shared with us all." "We created lasting music together and experienced a life we could never have imagined," he added. What a great band. One of my favs. A Mexican judge has sentenced a US-born teenager to three years in prison for four murders, which he said he carried out on the orders of a drug gang. Edgar Jimenez Lugo, 14 at the time of the killings, said he was under the influence of drugs and threatened by gang leaders, according to officials. The sentence was the maximum allowed for a juvenile in the state of Morelos, where he was tried. Jimenez was born in California, but has spent most of his life in Mexico. The juvenile court in Morelos found the teenager guilty of killing four people, whose mutilated bodies were founding hanging from a bridge in Cuernavaca in 2010. Jesus Christ, 14 years old. Drugs are bad news - very bad news. An eight-week-old kitten has survived after being stuck in a washing machine cycle for an hour in Aberdeen. Susan Gordon, owner of Princess, assumed she was elsewhere but the washing machine door opened to reveal her bedraggled and clinging to jeans. Princess was taken to vets and spent three nights being treated for her injuries. The kitten is now said to be fine, with no lasting damage from her washing machine ordeal. I know exactly how she feels. 

Oregon Richie was right about using a foot pump to inflate a tire. It's a bit like using a watering can to extinguish a bushfire. I'm buggered after all that pumping, and the tire pressure hasn't improved much. Soooooooo, it's off to the auto mart to buy a 12V air compressor. Plug and play. That's more my style. I'll use the foot pump for something more sensible.

Speaking of sensible, I'm just back from a haircut at Mark's Barber Shop, so that's how I look now... sensible. Earlier I looked like the original wild man from Borneo. Mark also trimmed my eyebrows which have gone feral lately. On the way home, I walked past this house, which was for sale recently. I figured it might be demolished because it was so dilapidated and appeared to be abandoned, but no. It's being renovated, which is great to see. It's a lovely old house with walls made of vertical boards, both inside and out. The front door was open so I had a quick peek inside. The house used to sit on wobbly old tree stumps which have been removed and replaced by new timber poles. Renovations have only just started so it'll be interesting to see how they progress. With a bit of luck they might even let me inside with my camera. If I had the dough, I'd love to live in a lovely old house like that, and furnish it to match the period. I suspect it was built around the turn of the 20th century. Yep, open fire place, pianola, 1930's cabinet radio, fuel stove, and all that lovely stuff.

Anyway, it's THAT time again... kitchen. Sue's been to the dentist so she's not in the mood  for food, so I'll do something simple. Gary

July 27, 2011. If I'd thought of it at the time, I would have added to yesterday's gross story about the cow's butt in veterinary class that we're quite happy to have the stuff dumped on our strawberry patch. The thing about human inconsistency is that it's consistently inconsistent.

I spotted a couple of interesting pics of Oz on Red Bubble this morning. Here's one of a paddle steamer on the Murray River... something I must experience on the Odyssey. Here's a close up of Uluru. I hadn't realized it was illegal to sell images of Uluru taken in the national park there. Anyway, the pic is interesting cos you don't often get to see the rock's detail close up. And here's a view of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. The Blue Mountains are so named because they appear blue from a distance; a phenomenon caused by sunlight on oil evaporation from gum leaves.

The Blue Mountains acted as a barrier to areas west of the Sydney basin until Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson set off in 1813 to find a way across. It was hard and dangerous slog, but they were eventually successful and their route over the mountains opened up massive areas of fertile grazing lands to the west. Gold was also found and started a goldrush in 1851 near Bathurst. Today, of course, driving on sealed roads across the Blue Mountains is a piece of cake thanks to the pioneering bravery and determination of Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. You have to wonder if that kind of spirit still exists today.

One hundred years later in 1913, the railway link between Gloucester and Taree was completed at a cost of almost a million bucks, which is not all that much more than what my old house in Glebe (built about 1860) fetched at auction recently. How times change. A million bucks sure ain't what it usedta was.

Beeb time: The White House has warned that President Obama could veto a debt limit plan proposed by top House Republicans. Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner's plan to trim public spending and raise the limit met with resistance from rank-and-file members of his own party. Washington remains deadlocked as a deadline to increase the government's borrowing authority looms on 2 August. The US runs a budget deficit that topped $1.5tn (£920bn) this year, and has amassed a national debt of $14.3tn. The government's authority to borrow more money has expired, and the US risks a first-ever default on its debt obligations if congressional and White House negotiators are unable to agree on a plan to increase the debt limit by 2 August. The debt limit has been raised dozens of times in recent decades, mostly without partisan debate. This year, though, conservative Republicans refused to allow an increase unaccompanied by dramatic cuts to the US budget deficit. I do agree that borrowing more to pay debts is not the brightest of ideas... UNLESS the capacity to repay the debt increases. Norway's police have published the names of four of the 76 victims of Friday's mass killings in Norway carried out by Anders Behring Breivik. They include three people killed in the Oslo car bomb and a 23-year-old man who died on a nearby island where Mr Breivik went on a shooting spree. Meanwhile, the police have defended their handling of the attacks. It was an hour-and-a-half before an armed unit reached Utoeya island after the shooting began. Under those circumstances, an hour and a half would have been an eternity for those trying to flee. Imagine a gunman wandering around, firing at will for 90 minutes while the cops were elsewhere. 90 minutes is a bloody long time! Egypt's ex-President Hosni Mubarak is weak and refusing solid food, according to the country's official news agency. He is due to stand trial in a week, accused of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters. The head of the hospital where Mr Mubarak is detained in Sharm al-Sheikh said he was depressed, has lost weight, and was not eating enough to keep him alive, MENA agency reports. But critics see Mr Mubarak's illness as a ploy to avoid going on trial. Well, lemme put it this way... he's not on my Christmas card list. Seventy-eight people were killed when a Moroccan military aircraft crashed into a mountain in the south of the country, the army says. The army said three other people were severely wounded in the crash, in what is thought to be one of Morocco's deadliest air disasters in years. Officials have blamed the accident on poor weather. There was a chopper crash in Oz recently, also due to bad weather. So why do people fly in it? An art dealer has been arrested and accused of smuggling a tonne of African ivory into the US for sale at his Philadelphia store. Victor Gordon, 68, paid a conspirator to fly to Africa, purchase raw ivory and have it carved to his specifications, prosecutors said. The conspirator dyed the carvings in order to make them appear old before smuggling them into the US, they said. Traffic in ivory is tightly restricted under US and international law. "It's safe to say dozens of elephants sit before you," Edward Grace, deputy chief of law enforcement for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, told reporters in Philadelphia. Nuff said. Physicists have confirmed the ultimate speed limit for the packets of light called photons - making time travel even less likely than thought. The speed of light in vacuum is the Universe's ultimate speed limit, but experiments in recent years suggested that single photons might beat it. If they could, theory allows for the prospect of time travel. Now, a paper in Physical Review Letters shows that individual photons too are limited to the vacuum speed limit. That means that photons maintain the principle of causality laid out in Einstein's theory of special relativity - that is, an event's effect cannot precede its cause by travelling faster than light. It is violation of this causality that would, in principle, permit time travel. I'm no scientist but I reckon nothing exists except the present. Read the full article here. Is Australia too obsessed with sport? An interesting read

Yep, despite B grade Hollywood movies about time travel, I reckon the past is memory and the future is imagination, neither of which exists in a physical sense. So that leaves only one place to go, and that's here and now.

Back from shopping. Remember the girl who sold me that waterless cleaning wax and accessories for fifty bucks about 6 months ago? She spotted me wheeling my trolley to Bluey and, all smiles, she said, "Have you used it yet?" I shook my head. Hehe. So we chatted for a few minutes. She graduated high school and is undecided about what to do with her life, so she's making a few bucks selling this stuff. It pays the rent. Maybe she'll go to university in a year or two but she's undecided. She's a very bubbly person with a lively personality, but I'm surprised she remembered me. Must be something stamped on my forehead.

Margaret Olley, a celebrated Australian artist and philanthropist as down to earth as you can get died yesterday aged 88. "The wheel of life is receiving and giving. And it's in perfect harmony." She was a real treasure, not only as an artist but also as a person. "Friends to me are everything." As Cody would have put it, she had a no bullshit 'tude.

So that's it. Dinner's in the oven and it's time for a bit of telly. Isn't life exciting? Gary

July 26, 2011. NC Art tells the story of first-year students at the Purdue Vet School attending their initial anatomy class with a real dead cow. They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet. The professor started the class by telling them, "In Veterinary medicine it is necessary to have two important qualities as a doctor. The first is that you not be disgusted by anything involving the animal's body." For an example, the professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the butt of the cow, withdrew it, and stuck his finger in his mouth. "Go ahead and do the same thing," he told his students. The students freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns at following the professor's lead. When everyone finished, the Professor looked a them and said, "The second most important quality is observation. I stuck in my middle finger and sucked on my index finger."

Ew! But ya gotta remember that Art was raised on a farm. Many years ago I lived at a boarding house in a country town where I worked at the local radio station. One of the other boarders was a student at a nearby veterinary training college. One evening as all the boarders sat at the tables in the dining room eating their meals, he decided to tell the story of how that day he had done a pregnancy test on a cow, which involved shoving his arm all the way up to his shoulder into the cow's vagina. Sheeeeeeesh! Country boys ain't squeamish ya know.

Art also sent this link to a story about a single family winning the lottery 3 times! How lucky can you get?

Just phoned my mobile techie. He took my faulty external drive away a couple of weeks ago and I've not heard anything since. I thought he may have forgotten about it. Nope... it's cool. The drive is okay but there's something wrong with the case. He ordered a newie and is waiting for it to arrive. So all is well in the backup department. Amazing innit... 14 years of stuff in a little black box.

Just checked Aussie Odyssey's stats on Webalyzer: Average daily visits have gone from 85 a day in August last year to 385 now. That's a lotta visits! For me, anyway. How many hang around for a good look or vanish within seconds I dunno. But it is improving, and when/if I finally get my act together it should improve even more. 

Beeb time: Torchlit processions are held across Norway to remember the scores of victims of Friday's twin attacks. Understanding the mind of the killer. Democrats and Republicans have unveiled competing plans to avoid a default, as the president and the House speaker prepared to address the nation. Despite weeks of negotiations, the two parties remain at odds over the size of spending cuts and tax increases. Amid the impasse, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner were appearing on TV on Monday night. This not about democrats and republicans, this is about the American people and the rest of the world. If a political ideology wins, and the world loses, then nobody wins. I just caught the end of the live republican address... "God bless you, God bless your family, and God bless America." There ya go, problem solved. God to the rescue. The New York hotel maid who accuses former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her in a hotel suite has given her first interview. Nafissatou Diallo told Newsweek magazine that she has told the truth about the incident on 14 May. "God is my witness. I'm telling the truth. From my heart. God knows that. And he knows that," she said. There's God again... pretty handy dude to have as a witness, I reckon. Pity he's too busy to appear in court. It all sounds a bit suss if you ask me. Parliament in mainly Roman Catholic Malta passes an historic law legalising divorce which now only requires the signature of the president. Maltese lawyers will be pleased. A 50-year-old South African man woke up inside a mortuary over the weekend and screamed to be let out - scaring away attendants who thought he was a ghost. His family presumed he was dead when they could not wake him on Saturday night and contacted a private morgue in a rural village in the Eastern Cape. He spent almost 24 hours inside the morgue, the region's health department spokesman told the Sapa news agency. The two attendants later returned and called for an ambulance. Spooky, huh? I think we all worry about being pronounced dead when we're not. The ol' fingernail scratch marks on the inside of the coffin lid trick. Two US teenagers are in a serious condition after a grizzly bear attacked a group of seven students learning survival skills in the state of Alaska. Four of the teenagers were injured after coming upon a bear walking with her cub, state troopers said. National Outdoor Leadership School spokesman Bruce Palmer said 17-year-olds Joshua Berg and Samuel Gottsegen sustained the worst injuries, caused mostly from bear bites. "I thought I was going to die when I was being attacked. I was so scared," Mr Gottsegen told the Associated Press news agency from his hospital bed. That's learning survival skills? Australian and Malaysian officials have signed a controversial deal intended to stem the flow of asylum seekers travelling to Australia by boat. The deal allows Australia to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia. In return, Australia will take 4,000 refugees from Malaysia over the next four years. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it would "smash the business model of people smugglers". Well, if Julia says it's true then it must be true. Right? Yeah, right. Superhero film Captain America: The First Avenger has knocked the final Harry Potter film off the top of the North America box office chart. Captain America made $65.m (£40.4m) in its debut weekend in the US and Canada, according to early estimates. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was in second place, with takings of $48.1m (£29m). That was in stark contrast to its record-setting opening of $169.2m (£103.9m) last week. Okay, that's it. I've made up my mind. I'm gonna write a book about Captain Oodnadatta. Forget the tight pants and capes and helmets. My hero's gonna be dressed in shorts, singlet and thongs and a battered bush hat with corks, and he'll be armed with a fly-swatter with magical powers.

Hmmm. Captain Oodnadatta. Maybe that's not so silly. I think it's hilarious that Oodnadatta, population 277, is smack bang in the middle of desert country and yet has canoe hire. Ya can't believe a word those outback Aussies say, ya know. Check the Oodnadatta Pink Roadhouse. And be sure to click the side bar links. That's one place I gotta visit.

I watched an interview with a psychologist last night who talked about the Norwegian bomber and shooter. He apparently lacks normal empathy and  conscience. He has no feelings for his victims. He sees himself as some sort of Messiah. One survivor said the killer was very calm during the shootings. He didn't run, he walked as his victims tried desperately to flee, saying something like "you may run but you can't hide". Another person interviewed said the most chilling thing about the killer was his intelligence; he didn't give the impression of being a madman. His actions had apparently been planned meticulously for some years in a calm and orderly fashion, and even during the execution of those plans, he was methodical and dispassionate. 

I suppose the law of averages says if you have 6.5 billion human beings on the planet, there's bound to be a number of aberrations. It's unavoidable. Gary

July 25, 2011. NC Art compared my Lotto win with a class action: Your Lotto winnings are akin to class action suits against manufacturers of dangerous gadgets. Hundreds of thousands of folks join the suit as plaintiffs and a jury awards them $150 mil. Then a judge cuts the award by 75 %, 100 lawyers get 75% of that, and the rest get $5.40 each after five years and bundles of paper work to prove they have a legitimate claim. And you still wonder about justice?

No, mate, I don't wonder about justice. Justice is a figment of human imagination. If justice really existed, there'd be no misery.

Meanwhile, it's off to the doc shortly for a regular checkup, and to burn off a few skin cancers. Those buggers keep popping up like weeds. Our doc is a pretty good bloke... country boy born and bred. What a job, though. Imagine spending all day talking to people bitching about their illnesses. That's the reason I stick to "g'day" and never ask "howyagoin?" G'day requires no answer; just a nod of acknowledgment. Mind you, it doesn't work with Averil though. She tells me all about her aches and pains anyway.

I'm not a follower of sports but Aussies have been doing pretty well lately on the international stage. Ohio Jace can tell you the story: This was a good day for OZ (sports wise anyway); Cadel Evans won the Tour de France, Casey Stoner won the motogp American Grand Prix, and Will Power won the Edmonton Indy car race.

It's true that many Aussies punch above their weight, and maybe that's because we're a small population that tries harder because we have to. Jace tells me the weather over there in Ohio is hot and humid and stormy, with lots of thunder and lightning. Not pleasant at all. The local pond is "bath-water temperature" and the young-uns are spending a lot of time there... skinny dipping, of course, with their willies bouncing all over the place. Good thing they don't have kookaburras over there. There's a reason kookaburras laugh a lot ya know.

Dunno where Jace got his info from but he says: The most the Norwegian monster can get is 21 years in prison so he could potentially be released to do it again in 2032. If that's the case, then it's an absolute disgrace. That man should never be allowed to walk the streets again. 

Justin posted this link on his blog. This summer, the renowned director/producer Ridley Scott launched a global filmmaker competition dubbed “Tell It Your Way” following its Cannes Lions award-winning short-film project “Parallel Lines.” The entrants were given freedom of expression and could take up any theme they wanted; still there were two strict rules—there had to be the exact six-line dialogue as it was in the Parallel Lines films, plus the entries could last no longer than three minutes.

Oh yes... back from the doc. He checked my blood pressure... fine, and did the stethoscope thing on my chest and back. Then he squirted a few skin cancers. He also updated my prescriptions, and then checked a rough skin prob inside my mouth just below my bottom teeth. He suggests I get a biopsy. Eeek! In there? That's getting pretty personal. He said it'll be under full anesthetic in hospital, with an overnight stay. Drat! And if it's cancerous? I don't even wanna think about that.

While I waited for the doc to return to his room, I stepped on the weighing machine. "66 kilos and 66 years," I said as he sat at his desk. He grinned and said, "I should live a long, long time, then." He ain't skinny lemma tellya.

Beeb time: The man blamed for Friday's twin terror attacks in Norway is due to make his first appearance in court. Anders Behring Breivik, 32, admits carrying out a massacre on an island youth camp and a bombing in the capital Oslo in which at least 93 people died. Under current law he faces a maximum of 21 years in jail. He has described the attacks as "gruesome but necessary". He is said to be linked to far right, anti-Islamic organisations, and to have spent years planning the operation. Right. so that's where Ohio Jace got his info. Read the full article here. Gay couples wed in their hundreds in New York after it becomes the sixth and most populous state to recognise same-sex unions. And the gay florists are rubbing their hands with glee! Soon will come the day when all this no longer makes headlines, ya know... just like a black person sitting anywhere they like on a bus. Mexican police arrest 1,000 people in a crackdown on human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Ciudad Juarez, officials say. It's not before time that the war on criminals got VERY serious. I just hope the prisons are big enough to accommodate all the crooks. The New York hotel maid who accuses former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her in a hotel suite has given her first interview. Nafissatou Diallo told Newsweek magazine that she has told the truth about the incident on 14 May. The move comes as authorities consider whether to drop charges against him amid doubts over her credibility. The French politician, 62, who resigned as head of the IMF to defend himself, vigorously denies all the charges. He has said that what happened between he and Ms Diallo was consensual, and his lawyers have described the maid's interview as "unseemly". There's a moral to that story - don't touch the merchandise. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said he is confident the White House and Congress will be able to agree a deal to reduce the US debt. He said it was "unthinkable" the US would not meet its obligations on time. Mr Geithner's comments to CNN come after talks between President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders on Saturday failed to make a breakthrough. North Carolina Art reports: An old friend called me Friday night and said she was--at age 82--ashamed of her country for the first time. She meant the United States of America, and the occasion was a congressional leader walking out during negotiations with President Obama over the financial crisis. Some ideologues don't care a fig if the United States defaults on debt and throws global financial markets into a meltdown. These stupid creeps evidently don't remember the Great Depression when half the world went hungry and never recovered. I DO! David Cameron lived in his brother's shadow while he was growing up, he writes in a column for the Big Issue. The PM, who guest edited the latest edition of the magazine, said his older brother Alex had been a role model but he always felt "a few steps behind". A very interesting article which you can read here. Fast food giant McDonald's sees its quarterly profits soar 15% on higher sales across all its global regions. So much for the fast-food critics and their doom and gloom messages. When you think of Pakistan do you think of jazz classics like Dave Brubeck's Take Five? No? Check out the vid.

I noticed one of Das Busse's tires is slowly deflating. I have a foot pump which I'll try, but if it's all too hard I might get a 12V air compressor. I reckon that would be a handy thing to have out in the sticks in any case. About 30 years ago, a bloke I know drove around to my little house in Glebe in his flash Porsche. When it came time to leave, he noticed one of his tires had gone flat. So he whipped out his new-fangled air compressor but it didn't work... the tire refused to inflate. So he had to get a special low-loader tow truck to take his car home. Regular towing wasn't an option for some reason... probably because the thing had such a low center of gravity. Anyway, it cost him a fortune hehe. And he was not amused. Nonetheless, he went on to build a million dollar empire in the advertising biz and I was still charging a pittance for my advertising copy. So I guess he had the last laugh. Gary

July 24, 2011. That lunatic who bombed a building in Oslo, and then shot several people afterwards, is apparently a Christian fundamentalist. I don't remember Jesus doing anything like that. Does one need to be a lunatic in order to be a fundamentalist, or can they be independent? I dunno, but I suspect murderous assholes like him are lunatics who use any excuse to justify their twisted causes. The entire world-wide Christian hierarchy should immediately condemn that person's acts, and make it plain to any potential copy-cat that there is no place for violence in religion. In fact, all religious leaders should do the same. Violence in the name of religion is a definite no-no. Period.

I've been having trouble with my internet connection this morning and it's bloody infuriating. Maybe it's Allah.

So, this morning I got an email to say I had 4 numbers in last night's Lotto. 4 Main numbers Prize Pool: $1,912,261.40

Woooooooooohoooooooooooooooooooooooo! Almost two million dollars! Hang on a tick... I was one of... 59387 winners, each received $32.20. Hmmm. Oh well...

Beeb time: Norwegians are mourning the victims of a massacre at an island youth camp and a bombing in the capital Oslo. At least 85 people died when a gunman opened fire at the Utoeya camp on Friday, hours after a blast in the government quarter killed seven. Another four are missing on the island. A 32-year-old Norwegian man was charged over both attacks, but police say it is possible another person was involved. The suspect's lawyer said he admitted responsibility for the attacks. He said his client believed his actions were "atrocious" but "necessary", adding that he would explain himself in court on Monday. The suspect surrendered when approached by police officers, police said. Atrocious but necessary? WTF? An island youth camp. Imagine that. A bunch of kids just having a nice time. How insane is that? Don't bother trying to make sense of it, dear Breth, you never will. Troubled singer Amy Winehouse, who has battled drink and drug problems, is found dead at her London home at the age of 27. And yet another tragedy. At least 32 people have died and more than 100 are hurt after two high-speed trains crashed into each other in eastern China, state media reports. Two train coaches fell off a bridge after derailing close to Wenzhou in Zhejiang province. Chinese media report that one of the trains came to a halt after being struck by lightning and was then hit by the second train. "D" trains are the first generation of bullet trains in China, with an average speed of just short of 100mph (160km/h). Struck by lightning. How unlucky can you get? US President Barack Obama holds crisis talks with congressional leaders in a bid to avert a catastrophic debt default. I've been thinking about that. Maybe the Republicans figure a catastrophe is just what they need to be elected. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is at the centre of the phone hacking scandal engulfing British politics. But how did the press baron go from inheriting an evening newspaper in a sleepy Australian city to becoming a global media titan? Read the full story here. A heatwave has baked eastern parts of the US and Canada, as temperatures surged to record-breaking highs in some parts. The mercury in Newark, New Jersey, reached 108F (42C) on Friday, the highest ever recorded in the city. In Canada, an extreme heat alert remained in effect, a day after two dozen cities and towns broke their previous single-day heat records. At least 22 deaths have been blamed on the heat. Across the US alone, where nearly half of the population was under a heat advisory, more than 220 heat records have tumbled. I don't wanna make light of the situation but temps such as those are not uncommon in Oz. A sex offender who lived among the remains of 11 dead women at his home in Cleveland in the US state of Ohio has been convicted of killing all of them. Anthony Sowell was found guilty of aggravated murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and abuse of a human corpse in the 11 deaths. The 51-year-old former US Marine could face the death penalty. I honestly believe the death penalty is too lenient for such criminals. You can't pay your debt when you're dead

I hope I'm wrong about the Republicans and their apparent attempt to cause Obama's downfall in order to win the next election, despite the immediate threat to America's economy and international standing caused by the Bush administration in the first place. But if it's true then that is not only unAmerican and undemocratic, but tantamount to treason. America deserves better than that. Any political party that puts its own agenda ahead of the common good of the nation and the interests of its citizens doesn't deserve to exist.

But back to punishment of criminals. If you were a judge sentencing Hitler for murdering millions of Jews in the most abominable fashion; tearing families apart and causing unspeakable heartbreak, misery and sadness; sending millions of young troops to their deaths, and causing the deaths of millions more civilians, what would your sentence be? It would be impossible to punish a man for such heinous crimes. Nothing, no matter how horrendous, could ever repay that man's debt to humanity. Even if he were staked to an ant's nest and eaten alive it still wouldn't be enough. Nowhere near enough. Similarly, there is no punishment adequate for the crimes of Anthony Sowell or that Norwegian madman Anders Behring Breivik. How about that Basque separatist murderer who received a 377 year jail sentence? What a joke.

When the bloke who wrote the Bible invented Hell and damnation, with its eternal fire and brimstone for would-be sinners, he had a pretty good idea... frighten the fuck outta anyone who crosses the line. Hehe. But even that didn't work. So don't look at me for the answer, dear Breth. I'm just sitting on the sidelines and taking notes.

Thank God for the Two Ronnies. If there's one thing we need in this life it's a good laugh. How Ronnie Barker remembered all those lines I'll never know. What a wonderful talent he was. And thank God for Youchewb otherwise all that stuff would be locked in vaults never to be seen again.

Yes, ladies and genitals, if it weren't for humor, there'd be nothing left. Gary

July 23, 2011. Satdee again. After enjoying the Great Train Race vid on Youchewb, NC Art wrote: The history of railroading is woven into the history of America since the first track was laid. An exhaustive book, "Nothing Like It in the World," was published a few years ago and dealt with the first transcontinental line built during the Civil War. How it ever got done is a miracle given the graft and corruption it caused during the building of it. The purpose was Abraham Lincoln's way to keep the American Pacific West from breaking from the Union in disgust. Forgive the preaching, but I read a lot of history in trying to understand the madness of the present.

Art's comment kinda reminded me of going to work with my dad during winter vacation, and getting up at 4am on Fridays. Dad worked for a printing company that, among other things, printed The Land newspaper, a weekly must-read for farmers and country folk. Dad would park in a lane at the back of the building and we'd enter the printing room via a small side door. It was nice and warm inside that huge room, and the bloke in charge would always offer us a cuppa tea. I remember the clunk-clunk and the chug-chug of the giant printing press as it pumped out scores of newspapers in rapid succession. And I remember the rather intoxicating smell of newsprint and ink. It was all pretty amazing for a kid of 12. Then we'd load parcels of newspapers on the truck and deliver them to Central Railway Station for distribution to various country centers in New South Wales.

I really enjoyed going to work with my dad during school vacation. It was the only time I got to see the big city and all the statues of naked ladies that adorned many of the 19th century buildings. And I'd help my dad carry stuff into customers' offices and the ladies would chorus, "Oh, isn't he gorgeous! I wish I had red hair like that!" Sheesh.

But back to Art's comment about reading history in trying to understand the madness of the present, I sure hope we never again see madness like we did during the 20th century, with two world wars and then the cold war between east and west. Surely nothing could be madder than that.

Mind you, the 20th century produced many good things as well... the evolution of the automobile, electric power, world travel by air, space exploration, telecommunications, the internet, and me. :-P

Beeb time: Norway has been hit by twin attacks - a massive bomb blast in the capital and a shooting attack on young people at a governing Labour Party youth camp. At least seven people were killed in the bombing, which inflicted huge damage on government buildings in Oslo. A few hours later a gunman opened fire at the camp on an island outside Oslo, killing at least 10. The suspected gunman was arrested at the camp and the government have confirmed that he is Norwegian. Police have said the 32-year-old suspect was also linked with the bomb attack. Witnesses described the gunman as tall, blonde and say he was dressed as a policeman. As Art put it, "the madness of the present". Read the full report here. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has walked away from crunch debt ceiling talks at the White House with US President Barack Obama. Mr Obama said Mr Boehner had rejected an "extraordinarily fair deal" that would have included $650bn (£400bn) of cuts to entitlement programmes. The president said he had been willing to take "a lot of heat" from his party. Mr Boehner told a news conference afterwards that Mr Obama had "moved the goal posts" by demanding a tax hike. President Obama said he wanted a meeting with congressional leaders, including Mr Boehner, at the White House at 1100 (1500 GMT) on Saturday. The wonderful thing about having two sides to an argument is that each side can spend all its time blaming the other without actually doing anything to solve the problem. A gruelling heatwave intensifies over the eastern parts of the US and Canada, with Friday expected to be the hottest day yet. Global warming? Not down here it ain't. David Cameron says James Murdoch "clearly" needs to answer questions from MPs after his evidence to MPs on phone hacking was challenged. Quite a change from reporting the news to making it. US President Barack has announced the ban on openly gay people serving in US military is to end on September 20. His certification on Friday of the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) law comes seven months after it was overturned in the US Congress. The Pentagon had asked for time following the repeal to prepare troops for the arrival of openly gay comrades. Mr Obama's move affirmed the Pentagon had declared it was ready to accept openly gay troops. I can't wait for the war movie that stars a John Wayne type character with a lisp. Hehe. A court in the Spanish capital Madrid has jailed Garikoitz Aspiazu, a former military leader of the Basque separatist group Eta, for 377 years. Aspiazu, arrested in France in 2008 and moved to Spain in May, was convicted of a role in the attempted assassination of a mayor in 2002. At the time of his arrest, the man who went by the alias "Txeroki" (Cherokee), was the most wanted Eta fugitive. More than 820 deaths have been blamed on Eta over 40 years. It's a pity the twit won't live and suffer that long. More than A$1m ($1.07m; £664,000) of wine has been destroyed in a forklift accident in Australia. The 2010 Mollydooker Velvet Glove shiraz sells for A$185 a bottle ($199; £122), the AFP news agency said. Winemaker Sparky Marquis told reporters he was "gut-wrenched" that 462 cases of wine had been smashed while being loaded for export to the United States. "When they opened up the container they said it was like a murder scene," he said. "But it smelled phenomenal." Makes the Murdoch story look pretty ordinary. What a tragedy! As space shuttle Atlantis' wheels touched down in Florida on Thursday, the shuttles' epoch of defining manned spaceflight came to a close. What comes next for the US space agency is a new way of running things - but not everyone is happy about it. Read the full article here. A Ghanaian minister is "promoting hatred" by urging people to report those they suspect to be homosexual, a human rights group has told the BBC. Ghana's Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights said Paul Evans Aidoo's comments could endanger the nation's underground gay community. Mr Aidoo said he wanted to rid society of gay people and take them to court. It would need to be a pretty big court. I still think anyone who hates gays with such a passion has a MAAAAAAJOR problem themselves. Closet queens if you ask me. 

Jeez, fancy a bottle of plonk selling for $185 a bottle. Hehe. No way I could afford that stuff. I drink cardboard dry white... 5 liters in a cask, and they were on spesh yesterday at 2 for $20. So that works out to be $2 a liter, or a bit cheaper for a bottle cos a bottle is 750ml. It's not a bad drop actually. Most quaffable in my humble. Matter of fact, I'm having a sip now. *hic* And it's not even midday yet. I don't understand all this sun over the yard arm business. By the way, I don't just drink ANY cardboard. No, no, no. Berri Classic Dry White is my drop. I'm very selective. If I'm gonna pay $2 a liter, I demand quality.

Oh dear... here I go again. For some reason I was thinking about the old radio serials I listened to as a kid, like Yes What. My mom and dad and younger bro and I all sat at the dinner table listening to the radio as we ate the evening meal. So I searched Youchewb and guess what? Yep, I found episodes of Yes What. "Good morning, boys!" "Good morning, sir!" I'll never forget that. I'm pretty sure my fertile imagination owes a lot to listening to radio serials as a kid and visualizing the mental images. 

I read where the actors involved in Yes What became so familiar with the characters that they hardly needed a script... they just ad libbed their way through each episode and made it up as they went along. I remember well the introductory sound of that school bell and how I looked forward with eager anticipation to what was about to happen next. "Greenbottle? You're late again! What's you're excuse this time?" "Me, Sir?" "Yes, you, Greenbottle!" Hehe.

Does anyone read all this nonsense? Dozen madder. I'm gonna write it anyway. It's wonderful therapy, and it keeps me occupied.

NC Art sent a thing about breeding bulls. Basically it's the story of  bloke who took his missus to a cattle show. They checked out a bull that had mated 50 times in the previous year, and the missus said, "Oh, that's almost once a week!" They checked the next bull and the sign said that he'd mated 150 times in the previous year, and the missus commented, "Wow! That's more than twice a week!" Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Then they checked out a third bull and the sign said he'd mated 365 times in the previous year. The missus grinned, elbowed her husband's ribs and said, "My goodness, that's once a day!" And the husband said, "Yeah, but was it with the same cow?"

What's the bet that little story was written by a bloke?

Well, the current (now former) owner of 15 Hegarty St Glebe (my old house) wrote to say the house has just been sold at auction for $690,000. Boo hoo! She said it was a very emotional moment. They bought a similar terrace house further down towards the point, nearer the Harbor. Very nice. It's also at #15, one of my lucky numbers. She wrote to ask if it's okay to pass on my details to the new owners, Helen and Ben, and the pics I took back in the '80s. Of course! No worries. I hope Helen and Ben enjoy the place as much as I did. Gary

July 22, 2011. July twoty twoth. I think I figured out what that wrong number on my mobile yesterday was all about. I think Byza is local vernacular for Byron Bay... surfer talk. Byron Bay is where I set Green Room, so maybe it wasn't a wrong number after all. I worked with a woman named Marilyn who was nicknamed Maz. I was nicknamed Gaz. Maz and Gaz. We got along like a house on fire and were great mates. No naughty stuff though. No, no, no, no. None of that.

My link to the steam train vid yesterday brought back childhood memories for NC Art:

Down at the station
Early in the morning
See the little puffabillies all in a row
See the little driver 
Turn the little handle
Choo choo whoo whoo off they go.

And thanks for the memory of real big noisy steam engines huffing and puffing, brakes squealing against iron wheels, air blasts as brake lines are uncoupled between cars. As a five year old, I would cover my ears as trains pulled into the station yard and unload freight and passengers. Older relatives often arrived by train, and Dad took me to meet them.

I was standing adjacent to the engine when the driver blew the whistle, and it almost deafened me. It actually hurt my ears! But I was too busy fiddling with the camera to cover them. Yep, there's something very special about old steam locos, and I hope enthusiasts keep them running forever. I posted this link to the Steamfest Great Train Race some time ago, but that was before Art joined Waffle. I think he'll enjoy watching race footage shot from the driver cab of one of the trains. Anyone who's seen it before can watch it again. It's great stuff.

Incidentally, Art thinks the sketch Brian did of me some time ago would frighten two year's growth out of my little Nicaraguan tyke, Anyel. World Vision doesn't want me to post a pic of Anyel on the net, but if you saw him you'd realize he's as grumpy looking as I am. That's the main reason I chose him for my sponsorship.

Another wet and dreary day, dammit. And I can't postphone the shopping any longer. I promised L&S I'd do a roast tonight.

Let's check the Beeb: Leaders of the Eurozone countries have agreed a new bailout package for Greece worth 109bn euros ($155bn, £96.3bn). For the first time, private lenders, including banks, are also pledging support which will give Greece easier repayment terms. The Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, welcomed the deal: "We now have a programme and a package of decisions which create... a sustainable debt management for Greece. And this in the end of course will mean not only the funding of a programme but it will also mean the lightening of the burden on the Greek people." I'm not sure I understand all this monetary business but I gather if one goes down, it threatens the stability of the other members. Is that the price Europe is paying for a common currency? If that's the case then I can understand why Britain remained independent. Realist painter Lucian Freud, one of Britain's most distinguished and highly regarded artists, has died aged 88. New York dealer William Acquavella said Freud had died at his London home on Wednesday after an unspecified illness. Freud, a grandson of the psycho-analyst Sigmund Freud, was born in Berlin in 1922 and fled to Britain with his Jewish family in 1933, when he was 10. Freud - particularly known for his paintings of nudes - became a British citizen in 1939. His works have been increasingly sought after at recent auctions and his portrayal of an overweight nude woman sleeping on a couch sold in 2008 for $33.6m (£20.6m) - a world record for a work by a living artist. If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, here it is. Pakistan has accused the US of slander against Islamabad over the arrest of a Kashmiri-born man accused of acting as a Pakistani agent in Washington. Ghulam Nabi Fai, a 62-year-old American citizen, is accused of working in Washington for a Pakistani spy agency to lobby for Kashmiri independence. Mr Fai was arrested on Tuesday and charged with failing to register as a foreign government agent. Meanwhile, Congress rejected a proposal on Thursday to cut off aid to Pakistan. Very strange behavior if you ask me. Are they friends or enemies? I can't figure it out. A punishing heat-wave settles over the central and eastern US, with millions enduring temperatures as high as 37C (99F), and as many as 22 deaths. 37C? You're joking, right? We don't even turn the fan on at 37. Evidence on phone hacking given to MPs by News International chairman James Murdoch has been called into question by two former executives at the firm. He told the media committee on Tuesday he had not been "aware" of an email suggesting the practice went wider than a "rogue" News of the World reporter. But ex-NoW editor Colin Myler and ex-NI legal manager Tom Crone have now said they "did inform" him of the email. Mr Murdoch later said he "stands by his testimony". I was amused by a comment made by our PM Julia Gillard when she advised reporters "not to write crap". One reporter said, "When politicians stop talking crap, we'll stop reporting it." Or something to that effect. Hehe. Meanwhile, the Murdochs are providing the media with plenty of headline fodder. A Saudi woman whose imprisonment for driving drew global attention to the issue says she is more determined than ever to continue her campaign. Manal al-Sharif, 32, was held for nine days in May after driving in the eastern city of Khobar. "We won't stop until the first Saudi license is issued to a woman," she told the BBC in her first interview since. Earlier this week, prosecutors in the city of Jeddah announced they were going to prosecute a woman for driving. Bloody amazing. I was teaching women and girls to drive 40 years ago! The grave holding the remains of Adolf Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess has been destroyed to stop it being used as a pilgrimage site by neo-Nazis. Hess's bones were exhumed at the graveyard in the town of Wunsiedel, southern Germany, early on Wednesday. The remains were later cremated and are to be scattered at sea. They should have been flushed down a toilet. 

So what's this neo-Nazi business all about? If they succeed in ridding the world of their enemies, what then? What's left to get excited about? What would religion do without the devil? What would good do without evil? What would governments do without an opposition? What would a see-saw be if it were only half a plank? What would protesters do if they won their case? What if the world were perfect and there was nothing to complain about? There's so much I don't understand, dear Breth. 

Right. What's worse? Being trampled by a herd of stampeding buffalo or being eaten alive by a swarm of crocodiles? Hang on. I haven't finished yet. OR, shopping? Try number 3. I hate queues. What's more I hate people who open upright freezer doors and spend ages choosing something. And then they finally close the door and leave you with an impenetrable fog. It took me the best part of 3 hours to do today's shopping, which included Averil's. She has no idea where anything is and I'm constantly backwards and forwards up and down the aisles as I search for what's on her list. And when I got home I did 6 trips from the van to the house, carrying all the stuff IN THE RAIN while Lindsay watched TV. AND THEN I had to separate all the stuff - ours and Averil's - and deliver Averil's stuff to her house.

No, no, no. I'm not cranky. Okay... a little bit. But I'll get over it. There's a marinated and stuffed chicken roasting in the oven and so far it hasn't complained. And I just put the herbed spuds in. So I'll feel better when I tuck into that for din dins. Yum! Gary

July 21, 2011. Pardon me for a moment... gotta pay the bills. Back in a tick.

Right... done. Almost back to square one cos I paid the quarterly power bill. Talk about juggling oranges. I think of my bank account as a revolving door.

Well, at least someone thinks I'm a "charming and really nice person" hehe. I got a letter today from my little Nicaraguan dude, Anyel, the boy I sponsor through World Vision. I sent him some postcards with pics of Australian wildlife that he liked very much, and also the drawing of me done by Brian some years ago. Anyel says "it's nice to know that someone besides my mother loves me a lot." Isn't that sweet? He's a bit young for school at the mo - he's only 2 or 3 - but his mother says he's looking forward to going to school and studying. He says he will "write and draw to you". Makes me a bit teary to be honest... to think that a little kid in Nicaragua and his family are benefiting from the few bucks I send each month. He says he would like to learn more about me. Oops! Well... lemme think about that. The word 'selective' has just sprung to mind.

I also got a message from a Japanese bloke on Youchewb who saw my vid of a steam loco that visited Taree a while back. It is first time to send my mail. I recorded the footage of Vintage steam loco made in UK. about 45years ago. But the 8mm cinema have no sounds, so I searched for the sound of SL made in UK. especially, Beyer Peacock's one. I'm very happy to hear the sound, and many thanks for you. 

There ya go. The little things you do that make someone else's day. That's what it's all about, yes?

Now, this business of the inter-changeability of dickhead and numbnut has got me puzzled. NC Art asked me to be the arbiter, and threw in fuckwit as well just to confuse the issue even more. Is there a connection? And can one expression be substituted for the other? My first thought is that if you translate dickhead literally you get a mental image of glans penis. And if you translate numbnut literally you get a frozen testicle. So there seems to be a bit of a mismatch there. On the other hand, if you treat both expressions as metaphorical rather than literal, you get a different meaning... someone, as Oregon Richie puts it, "with a shortage of picnic fixins" hehe... as in a sandwich short of a picnic. So I suppose that makes both expressions inter-changeable, and the same would apply to fuckwit in a metaphorical sense. Actually, I'm not sure about the literal translation of fuckwit... the mental image that immediately springs to mind is a bit overwhelming.

My post yesterday of the Model-T Ford and Australia's first caravan brought back pleasant memories for Art: First off, I got a great kick from the T-Model Ford + Caravan. The old T was a versatile work horse. A T was the first vehicle I drove beyond a farm wagon with mule power. The orphanage had a similar rig used as a school/activity bus. The roof was not so high and the rain curtains were mounted inside for ease in rolling down and fastening with brass turn clips. Seats were three long leather covered benches, one on each side and one down the center. My dad used the thing to travel to the mountains of North Carolina and fetch a load of Wine sap apples each October. Steep hills often required using reverse gear to back up an incline because first gear had less torque. 

How's that for a memory? But while Art's memory is intact, his bum's not: Meanwhile I visited my doctor this morning to contribute a phial of blood for rechecking analysis. (My blood calcium was high.) A ten-minute procedure wasted two hours because the office resembled a cattle auction in Omaha. Waiting room chairs are made of Masonite and most unkind to a skinny butt; sensitive skin stretched over bone unpadded with muscle or fat! This "old" business is for the brave or masochistic!

True. Getting older has its drawbacks, but it's compensated by a much better and more comprehensive view. Keep in mind, however, that ya gotta have a sense of humor to go with the view otherwise it doesn't work.

What's crackin bro. U moved to byza yet? My mobile phone rang and that was the message. Wrong # ya think? Hehe. Byza? Where dat?

Oh yes... there was also something Oregon Richie wrote that I thought was worth pasting here: Local news is much-about all the present sabre-rattling and endless duel between the Republicans and the rest of us over budget, debt ceiling, threatening to plunge the country into a serious economic mess and otherwise make life as difficult as possible for our President.  These new far-right folks are something else.  I think they are determined to dismantle 7 decades of social progress and programs for their own selfish means and saving the wealthy a lot of money and must hate the middle class... which is self-defeating since I view a strong and progressive middle-class as THE economic engine of our country.  I don't get this at all.  It's disgusting, and in some ways... such as the current affairs of NASA.... it just seems that we're off the tracks.  THE greatest space program in history... the greatest explorers of the last century... we are no longer a space-faring nation with virtually zip capability to do so so... what the hell ?  WTF !!!

Beeb time: The police team investigating phone hacking has been boosted from 45 to 60 officers, Scotland Yard has said. Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers said the move came after a "significant increase in the workload" over the past fortnight. She said there had been a "surge of inquiries and requests for assistance from the public and solicitors". Earlier, the Met was accused by MPs of a "catalogue of failures" in the News of the World phone-hacking inquiry. Meanwhile, News of the World owner News International said it had authorised law firm Harbottle & Lewis to answer any questions from Scotland Yard and the Commons home affairs committee about its work for the company. I remember Scotland Yard movies at the Saturday matinee when detectives used to whizz around London streets in Wolseley 6/80s from the early 1950s. The US says it will send aid to parts of Somalia controlled by al-Shabab if it receives assurances the Islamist militants will not benefit. Assurances? Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has launched an unprecedented attack on the Catholic Church in parliament. He said the recent Cloyne Report into how allegations of sex abuse by priests in Cork had been covered up showed change was urgently needed. Mr Kenny said the historic relationship between church and state in Ireland could not be the same again. He said the report exposed the elitism, dysfunction, disconnection, and narcissism that dominated the Vatican. "The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and 'reputation'," the taoiseach said. Well said, Kenny. Kenny 1, Benny 0. Three visitors seen climbing over safety barriers to take photos at a waterfall in California's Yosemite park are presumed dead after being swept away. I know the feeling... gotta get that shot. But sometimes it ain't worth it. Libya's foreign minister has denied that Col Muammar Gaddafi's removal was being considered in efforts to end the country's conflict. "Gaddafi's departure is not being discussed," Abdelati Obeidi told reporters after talks in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Last week France said it had been contacted by Libyan envoys saying Col Gaddafi leader was prepared to leave. My feeling is that Gaddafi thinks he has too much to lose by abdicating after 40 years in power. I figure he wants to be remembered as the leader who resisted the West and won. He doesn't want history to remember him as a quitter. Space shuttle Atlantis is ready to make one last descent to Earth. The orbiter and its crew of four are scheduled to hit the runway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida just before sunrise on Thursday. At "wheel-stop", the ship will complete its 13-day mission to the space station; but more significantly, it will close the book on Nasa's 30-year shuttle programme. Atlantis, like Discovery and Endeavour before it, is being retired. So what's next? American Airlines has announced multi-billion dollar orders for 460 new Boeing and Airbus planes. The world's fourth-largest airline by number of passengers, American is buying 200 Boeing 737s and 260 Airbus A320 aircraft. American described the twin deals as "the largest aircraft order in history". Its parent company AMR Corporation added that the new single-aisle planes would "transform" American's fleet. The new aircraft will be delivered between 2013 and 2022. I think Oregon Richie's in the wrong business hehe. He sells cars, and I'm pretty sure he never sold 460 in one hit worth several million dollars each

NC Art wrote something about competition: Rupie Murdoch had a head start on the money biz. His daddy was a millionaire in Oz, so Sonny could hit the ground running with his ambitious enterprises. He had other assets, notably ruthless determination to stamp out competition and let prime ministers and politicians know the power of the press. As a one-time city councilman, I found out that if you can't love them, buy them or beat them!

Yes, competitors get in the way and make life difficult. Get rid of the buggers and solve the problem. Did you watch that soda pop vid yesterday? It's all about Coca Cola and Pepsi dominating the market, except this one guy is providing opportunities for competitors to do their own thing, and some of them have been doing it since the 19th century. Competition is cool, provided it exists. Hehe. Choosing between Coke and Pepsi ain't real competition to my way of thinking.

All of which reminds me of McDonalds and Hungry Jacks. I favorited a Red Bubble pic of Hungry Jacks in Christchurch NZ before the earthquake demolished it. I just love it... straight out of Happy Days. Here's another pic I favorited... a very special moment between two little mates. Gorgeous stuff. I also favorited a pic from Mieke of a water abstract. It's just awesome! There are some clever people out there ya know. I asked Mieke how do I plagiarize that and tell people it was my idea in the first place? And she said find a water feature and use telephoto when there's no direct sunlight on the water. Ah ha! Okay, stay tuned.

It's cold and wet and miserable today so I didn't venture out to the shops. It's a matter of scraping together whatever's left in the fridge for dinner, which happens to be scrambled eggs (with cheese), sliced tomato and chips. No worries. Everybody loves it. But I'll have to shop tomorrow, dammit. Gary

July 20, 2011. Goodness me, it's mid afternoon already and I've only just started! I've been messing around with Youchewb, getting a few giggles out of Clarke and Dawe, and sending comments to Justin's blog. I love having fun on Justin's blog. He's very religious and I enjoy saying silly things just to ruffle his feathers a bit.

How interesting is soda pop? Not very? Think again. You won't believe this vid. It's amazing!

You wanna see some heart-in-the-mouth river crossing stuff in 4WDs? Wiz favorited this clip.

Oh yes, I've also put together the pics of the first caravan built in Oz.

Let's do a quick Beeb: The Met Police are accused of a "catalogue of failures" over the News of the World phone-hacking inquiry in a damning report by MPs. The Commons home affairs committee also criticises News International's "deliberate attempts to thwart investigations" into hacking. This Murdoch business is making Quo Vadis look like a home video. The UN is set to declare a famine in parts of Somalia, as humanitarian conditions deteriorate amid the worst drought in over half a century. And we think we've got problems. British troops in Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province prepare to hand control of the city of Lashkar Gah to Afghan security forces. "You can have your own town back now, chaps. Good luck." If it sounds crazy it's because it is. Police in the US, Britain and the Netherlands arrest more than 20 people in connection with an investigation into high-profile cyber attacks. Hackers deserve to be treated like common criminals in my book. Assholes. A teenager in the US state of Florida, accused of bludgeoning his parents to death with a hammer then throwing a party, has appeared in court. Tyler Hadley, 17, allegedly killed Blake and Mary-Jo Hadley on Saturday before locking their bodies in a bedroom and inviting guests round. Dozens of guests showed up at the house on Saturday night for the party, and police were called in the early hours after a noise complaint from a neighbour. When a patrol car passed the house at about 0130 on Sunday the party guests were just leaving, police said, and no further action was taken. After receiving an anonymous tip about a possible murder, police returned later that morning to the house and the accused answered the front door. Upon searching the property, police said they found the bodies of Mrs Hadley, 47, a school teacher, and Mr Hadley, 54, an electrical utility worker, in a bedroom. Try to make sense of that. I can't. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said News Limited in Australia will face "hard questions" in the wake of the phone hacking scandal in Britain. She said she was "disturbed" by revelations about Rupert Murdoch's UK titles. By the same token, according to the polls, the vast majority of Australians are also "disturbed" by Julia Gillard. All she can muster at the mo is a 26% support rating

NC Art also comments on the Murdoch mess: Yep Rupert Murdoch became a U.S. citizen and renounced his Aussieness. That way he could buy lots of American radio and television networks, plus the Wall Street Journal. His FoxNews channel alone has misinformed more people about what's factual than any media outlet in history. He's a real piece of work, huh?! Oh, but neither he nor son James had any idea there were unethical rogues in his far-flung enterprises.

Well, it takes quite a few bob to buy lots of American radio and television networks, as well as the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. So where did Rupie baby get all his money from? I mean if I went to America I'd be flat out affording a bag of chips. Meanwhile, you can read the Borowitz Report: Murdochs Vow to Launch Full Investigation to Find Out Who is Running Company They Are in Charge Of. If you're a bit late getting to the Borowitz site, check the side bar for the story. Borowitz is a hoot.

Actually, I was thinking how I was born about 2000 years too late. I shoulda be a fishermen in Nazareth or wherever it was that Jesus chose his apostles. I coulda written a pretty interesting gospel - the Gospel according to Saint Gary. Like, you know, funny about those 12 guys all being bachelors and stuff like that. But alas, it was not to be.

Come to think of it, where did Matthew, Mark, Luke and John learn their literary skills? One minute hauling fish, next minute scribbling on parchment. Sounds a bit fishy to me. Sorry.

Since I wrote that last para, I had a little snooze. But it turned out to be a BIG snooze. So I'm late for the kitchen. The problem is turning on the heater. The heater makes me sleepy. Tomorrow I've got a job to do. NC Art and his son were discussing the inter-changeability of dickhead and numbnut. But Art also wonders if fuckwit is an equivalent, and he wants me to be the arbiter. Stay tooned. Meanwhile, feel free to contribute your own thoughts on the subject. Gary

July 19, 2011. Does the name Carl Barron ring a bell? He's an Aussie comedian. A short bloke. He's also an accomplished musician; guitar and piano, and speaks with a laid-back Aussie accent. Check him out.

Yesterday, I mentioned Greg Somers, the artist I worked with some years ago. I discovered him on Youchewb, and he's still the same hehe - laconic, and in no great hurry to gather his thoughts. He's working at Terrigal Beach where I used to live back in the early 70s. He reckons as he gets older the world gets more absurd. Tell me about it! At least it provides a bit of entertainment in one's latter years. 

But at least now I don't react, just go with the flow. I've been going to Buddhist meditation classes for some months now. It has made a big difference in attitude. Every day is a good day, every day is a bad day. It's how we see it.

Greg's sense of humor hasn't changed. Here's a little cartoon he did:

Did you get a good look at Greg's self-portrait, which he entered in Australia's prestigious Archibald Prize? Click on the thumb to get the bigger pic. He was one of the finalists, even at his first attempt. How's that for cool? Don't you love the 'Dory in grey' painting in the background? A hint at Oscar Wilde's character Dorian Gray, an individual obsessed with living forever and staying eternally youthful. Check the message at the bottom of Greg's tie. "Become an artist. Immortality is to die for." It's also interesting to note that Greg is not big time into ironing shirts.

Meanwhile, Oregon Richie sent some pics of his recent trip to High Cascades aboard his Honda 599. Beautiful scenery of snow-capped peaks and spectacular waterways. I'll put a little album together and post it on Guest Travelers... maybe today or tomorrow. I also spotted a series of pics on an auto newsgroup this morning of Australia's first caravan, built in Tasmania in 1926. I'll make an album of those as well. That'll take care of July cos I've been too slack to go anywhere.

I'm also gonna have to put some time aside to update the Bluey Page to include Das Busse and my latest plans. Sheesh. So much to do!

Beeb time: A former News of the World journalist who made phone-hacking allegations against the paper has been found dead. Sean Hoare told the New York Times the practice was far more extensive than the paper acknowledged when police first investigated hacking claims. A police spokesman said the death was currently being treated as unexplained, but was not thought to be suspicious. By the way, Rupert Murdoch is an American citizen. When he left Oz and went to America, he relinquished his Australian citizenship to become an American. Just thought I'd throw that in. People keep calling him an Australian. He's not. US officials have held face-to-face talks with representatives of Col Muammar Gaddafi's government, the US state department has confirmed. The US said the meeting reiterated its demand that Col Gaddafi step down, and involved no negotiations. In a statement, the US state department said officials had given representatives of Col Gaddafi a "clear and firm" message that the Libyan leader had to go. No one can accuse the west of rushing into things. Gaddafi's been in charge of Lybia for 40 years. Hello? The price of gold jumps above $1,600 an ounce for the first time as debt worries in the US and Europe escalate. Funny about that. Old abandoned gold mines in Oz are being reopened. I wouldn't mind having a bit of dig myself. The US general who has taken over as commander of international forces in Afghanistan has warned of "tough days ahead" in the military campaign. Addressing troops at a handover ceremony in Kabul, Gen John Allen said he had "no illusions about the challenges we will face together". Insurgents have stepped up attacks on troops and senior Afghan officials. Gen Allen has taken over command from Gen David Petraeus who is returning to the US to run the CIA. The never ending story... ya can't have the goodies without the baddies What the hell would Hopalong Cassidy have done without crooks? The Fab Four made two hysteria-inducing visits to America in 1964, launching the so-called "British Invasion" of the mid-1960s. As they visited Washington DC and Baltimore a young photographer, Mike Mitchell, snapped dozens of images of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Now, after being filed away for nearly 50 years, these never seen before black-and-white photographs are being sold at auction at Christie's in New York. Take a look at some of them, and hear The Beatles perform and talk about their visits to the USA. Interesting stuff! Those were the days!

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way...

Well, I just put Oregon Richie's pics together and posted them on the Guest Traveler page. The reason Richie is not perched on the saddle of his Honda 599 is because he's the one who took the photo. Just thought I'd clear that up. He's not that bloody clever. Yes, he could have used the self-timer button and put himself in the pic but... well... I'm not saying another word.

I just checked the clock. I've got five of them in front of me... just in case one goes bung. It's 5pm. Ibce... hang on, my fingers are not in position. Let's try that again. Once upon a time, there were a dozen little prawns swimming around happily. Not any more. Pretty soon they'll be in my oven. Do I feel bad? Well... no... not really. I mean, who's more important? Me or the prawn? Does a prawn write this Waffle page? No. I rest my case. And if that doesn't strike you as funny, have a few plonks and read it again. Gary

July 18, 2011. So what was NC Art doing living amongst 100 orphans? The reference to 100 orphans is easily explained. I was born on the orphanage campus because my father worked there as farm/dairy/buildings overseer and jack-of-all-trades on top of it. So I lived on campus until my 17th year. I graduated high school at 16 and thereafter ran the printing shop, drove the activity bus and supervised senior boys dorm. In fact this was a continuation of what I had been doing since my sophomore year in school. My dad retired when I was 14, but I wanted to finish school with my friends, so I became an "orphan" when parents moved off-campus.

Part of that time I also worked nights as a typesetter in a town 16 miles away, but somehow managed to hold it all together. So I had two sets of friends: townies and orphans, but with my activities I saw more of the orphan friends because I slept and ate with them.

Since my dad had been the school bus driver, I got that job. The printing instructor joined the navy after Pearl Harbor, so I took over his job. The housemother left to work in an ammunition plant, so I got her job. I had worked in the print shop since age 12. [Precocious maybe; I produced a magnificent orgasm on my 11th birthday and found many opportunities to revel in that wondrous sport, occasionally with a like minded bud.]

I expect this sounds way far out to most kids now, but that's the way it was until I was 18 and enlisted in the air force. 

How about that for a story? Sounds like something out of Dickens or Mark Twain. If I were Art, I'd be getting my fingers busy on the keyboard to tell the tale before it fades into oblivion. One also has to wonder at the fate of those orphans... how many went on to live happy and productive lives, and how many fell by the wayside.

Meanwhile, Oregon Richie had a thing or two to say about Michele Bachman: I never fail to be stumped and stupefied about these idiotic comments that people make about any and everybody who has ever dealt with gay or bi or no-sex issues at all.  Among her other ravings, Michelle Bachman represents the rather off-the-cliff far right of the Republican lunatic fringe.  She says things so inaccurate, so wrong, so incorrect, so contradictory to facts, and downright stupid, that I can't believe she is voted in.  I guess her supporters merely love to hear CRAP that reinforces their own.  I guess that is the reason why so many otherwise intelligent peeps happened to listen if not adore a certain chap named Adolf some time back.  I can't fathom it.  I suppose it's "the dark side" and their version of the force is a farce.  Nuff said.

I get the feeling Richie is not a big fan of Michele. Hehe.

But you see, ladies and genitals, the world is made up of the Richies and the Arts and the Garys and the Micheles and a whole bunch of other "kinds", all of whom, allegedly, it takes to make a world. And I guess that's the way it will always be. One bloke accuses the other bloke of being a dickhead and vice versa, and so on, and yadda yadda, ad infinitum. Variety is the spice of life? Well, imagine the alternative. Benny does. He would like to see the whole world turn up for Sunday mass. It's all about the missionary mentality... let's go out and convince the world of the error of its ways.

Beeb time: Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has resigned following the phone hacking scandal. Britain's most senior police officer has faced criticism for hiring former News of the World executive Neil Wallis - who was questioned by police investigating hacking - as an adviser. Sir Paul said his links to the journalist could hamper investigations. He said there were lessons to be learned from the affair, but he was leaving with his integrity intact. He also said he had no knowledge of the extent of the phone hacking. Is this what they call the Domino Effect? A senior aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Jan Mohammad Khan, has been killed in an attack on his home in Kabul. Lawmaker Hasham Atanwal also died in the attack, said police, as men stormed the house in the capital. The incident comes less than a week after Mr Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was assassinated. Meanwhile, foreign troops will cease combat operations in 2014. You have to wonder if 10 years of foreign intervention has achieved anything at all. Libyan rebels say there have been fierce clashes with Muammar Gaddafi's forces in residential areas of the eastern oil town of Brega. Ten, nine, eight, seven... South Africans are set to celebrate ex-President Nelson Mandela's 93rd birthday, with festivities expected across the country. Every country needs its heros, and Safrica hit the jackpot. The final Harry Potter movie has shattered box office record in the US and Canada, taking $168m (£104m) over its opening weekend. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 had already made $92.1m (£57m) on its opening day, said the film's distributor, Warner Bros. The previous opening weekend record was held by Batman film The Dark Knight, which took $158m. I wonder what all the publishers that rejected JK Rowling when she first tried to get published are thinking now. I hope they kept copies of their rejection slips, framed them and stuck them on their office walls. India's Tata group says it will launch cheap housing that can be built within a week for 500 euros, according to Indian media reports. A spokesman for Tata, which in 2009 launched the world's cheapest car, the Nano, said the pre-fabricated houses would help the rural poor buy a home. Prototypes are already being tested with a view to launch by next year, the PTI news agency said. Indian authorities say millions of homes are needed in rural areas. Jeez, even Das Busse cost more than that!

Actually, if you check out primitive peoples like those who lived in Papua New Guinea not so long ago, they could whip up a house in a day. Chop a few palms, erect a few bamboo poles, and whammo, instant house. And it cost nothing except for a bit of labor. And what about all those pioneers who moved west a few hundred years ago in America? No way they could jump on the phone and talk to an architect or a builder. Same thing happened here in Oz. An artist mate of mine about 40 years ago built his own mud-brick house in the bush at Somersby, not far from Gosford back in the '70s. He even made his own bricks. Greg Somers living at Somersby. Yeah. Figures. I just did a Google... whaddaya know... Greg's still doing his thing even after all these years. He and I collaborated on quite a few jobs when I was still operating my advertising copy business. He's obviously done well.

This mug which I now use as a pen/pencil holder is all I have left of my work with Greg. It was a campaign I worked on back in the late '80s for a suburban newspaper. The radio ads did the whole "Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's Multi Man!" thing. Hehe. The rest of the ads went on about people wanting to sell a camel or a stuffed croc or their mother in law or whatever. They were fun days. After recording the ads, we'd all go across the road to the Il Costino Italian restaurant and pig out on pasta and wine for the rest of the afternoon. The client, a woman who worked for the newspaper, had the major hots for me, and made me terribly nervous. "What a waste", she once said about me to the advertising agent. Hehe. She was what you might describe as a Sherman tank in a dress.

The owner of that restaurant used to sell me pure alcohol and aniseed essence so that I could make my own Ouzo at home. Whoa! Did that stuff have a punch or what?

WRONG! I forgot that Greg also designed my old biz card, and he did a sterling job. That was back in the mid '80s. You see that button on the far right all by its lonesome? I never did figure out what that was for.

Yes, folks, it's that time again. Din dins. I've just spent the best part of the past hour talking to Greg Somers on the phone. My first attempt at emailing him bounced but we've managed to sort that out. It was great to chat to him again, and he sounds just the same. He says he was thinking of me recently, and even passed through Taree a few weeks ago. And yes, he still lives in the same mud-brick house he built all those years ago. As I type this, he's out in the yard splitting logs for the open fire. How wonderful. Then he'll check out Aussie Odyssey. Gary

July 17, 2011. Correction time. NC Art made a boo-boo. Six hundred bushels of sweet potatoes to feed "10" orphans is a bit of overstate. The figure should have been 100 orphans [plus staff members who cared for them]. Must have been healthy; the boys went to amazing lengths to get up with girls. Of course horny pubescents also found satisfaction among themselves in barn lofts or wooded areas of the farm. I can't speak for the young ladies.

100 orphans? Art must have had quite an interesting childhood. Anyway, I'll stick to regular spuds if you don't mind.

And now, a group of Catholics is debunking the church's belated acceptance of Galileo's claim for solar centricity. Their reasoning: "False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions--thus the state of the world today....Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world; and governments and academia were subservient to her."

Well, it's no surprise that religion can do pretty strange things to the minds of believers. I find it curious, for example, that American presidents can stand up and say "God bless America". Prime Ministers in Oz never say that. I don't think PMs in Britain do either. However, I do have a soft spot for American patriotism. It can be quite stirring, even for an Aussie like me. Check out this link posted by Justin on his blog of a surprise for shoppers at a Provincetown supermaket.

NC Art also wrote: Here's wonderful news for all the gays of the world. A Minnesota congresswoman named Michele Bachmann is campaigning for the Republican nomination for president of the U.S. She is a devout Christian and shares her husband's views of homosexuality. She says gay people are in self-imposed bondage and slaves to themselves and their curious behavior.

Hmmm. Well, I would suggest that Michele and her husband are slaves to their own curious behavior. But that's just my opinion, and I'm not a presidential candidate (nor a Republican, for that matter) with a million degrees in higher education. I'm just your basic dickhead Aussie who likes Vegemite on toast. What the fuck would I know?

The thing is, it's common knowledge that many gays undergo major psychological difficulties adjusting to their sexual orientation. They're afraid of how their parents will react, they're afraid of how their peers and friends will react. Moreover, they're afraid of being "different", of being cast aside by God. All of which makes them extremely vulnerable to vultures like Michele Bachmann and her twisted husband who are nothing more than snake-oil salesmen. Criminals. Crooks. Con men. Liars. Cheats. People who make a buck outta the baseless fears of others. And Michele is gonna run for president of the United States? Wasn't there a song called 'Devil in Disguise'?

I passed that link along to Justin, along with my little blurb.

Jeez, imagine life without the internet.

Beeb time: The UN has made its first aid delivery to drought victims in areas of Somalia controlled by al-Qaeda-linked militants since they lifted an aid ban. UN children organisation's Rozanne Chorlton said al-Shabab had given UN workers unhindered access and hoped this would encourage other agencies. Why doesn't al-Qaeda fly aid into areas that desperately need help? Or is that a dumb question? Iran says it is ready to co-operate with Argentina over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. Argentina has blamed Iran for the attack, in which 85 people died. The Iranian Foreign Ministry denied any involvement and said it would help Argentina with its investigation, which it said "was going down the wrong way". Yes, of course. And isn't it generous of Iran to be so willing to assist? Foreign Secretary William Hague has defended David Cameron, saying he was "not embarrassed" by the extent of the PM's dealings with News International. Mr Cameron has met its top executives 26 times in the 15 months since he became prime minister, it emerged. Mr Hague defended the PM's decision to entertain Andy Coulson after the latter quit as an aide over the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. In press ads, Rupert Murdoch apologises for "serious wrongdoing" by the paper. Lots of furious backpedalling going on, ladies and genitals. Hehe. Oops! US President Barack Obama has held private talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, despite strong criticism from China. Mr Obama told the Dalai Lama of his "strong support" for human rights in Tibet, a White House statement said. Beijing released an angry statement saying the meeting had damaged relations between the two countries. What relations? Meanwhile, Oz PM Julia Gillard snubbed the Dalai Lama when he was here in Oz. China is our biggest customer, so I guess that's understandable. Actress Googie Withers, best known for appearing in Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes and TV's Within These Walls, has died in Australia aged 94. She was born Georgette Lizette Withers in what was then British India. She died at her home on Friday. She was the first non-Australian to be awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Her last role was in the Oscar-nominated 1996 Australian movie Shine. In 1958, Withers moved to Australia with her husband, Australian actor John McCallum - he helped create the classic television series, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. The couple co-starred in 10 films, and they lived together in Sydney until McCallum died last year at the age of 91. Another Aussie icon bites the dust. Computers and the internet are changing the nature of our memory, research in the journal Science suggests. Psychology experiments showed that people presented with difficult questions began to think of computers. When participants knew that facts would be available on a computer later, they had poor recall of answers but enhanced recall of where they were stored. The researchers say the internet acts as a "transactive memory" that we depend upon to remember for us. Yep, I agree with that. When I want to check something, I do a Google. But I don't necessarily commit the information to memory cos I know I can go back there.

Wanna check out a 1935 Duesenberg Speedster? I found a bunch of Duesenberg pics on a newgroup that I emailed to Oregon Richie, and he subsequently found the site of the museum that hosts the display. Check out this clip. They don't make cars like that anymore, babes. That is one head-turning chariot.

Sue's delusional again. Lindsay is running around mumbling about "nursing homes" and "I don't understand what she's talking about". So I wrote a longish email to her sister in England about Sue's condition. Sue's rellos have no idea of the seriousness of this situation. They think all she needs is a pair of reading glasses and the morning newspaper, and a night out on the town once a month. Yeah, right. Her brain's gone. It's history.

How will that affect me? Well, I have a feeling my days as Sue's carer are numbered. I figure she'll be institutionalized at some point. There's no way Lindsay or I are qualified to care for somebody in Sue's condition as it deteriorates further. Also, I don't see myself getting Das Busse and the Odyssey organized in the near future, so that will probably mean moving out and getting a small flat by myself. It will also mean a loss of income as well as an increase in rent. Not good, huh? Well, we'll see. Gary

July 16, 2010. Yep, you guessed right, another Satdee. Have you ever seen g'day in living color? I favorited this shot on Red Bubble this morning. How clever! The beach, Wamberal, is just across the road from where I lived at Terrigal back in the early 70s when I worked at radio 2GO.

Here's another shot I favorited... a very creative shot of a big rock in Oz that's been photographed a million times. Just goes to show that there's always a new way to tackle an old problem

When I arrive in Sydney on the Odyssey, I'm gonna be faced with the challenge of photographing all the icons in a new or different way. Can it be done? Hehe. I dunno. Icons don't change, but the lighting does. So I'll keep that in mind. Also, there's an image that sticks in my brain. One time, many years ago, I stood at the base of the Harbor Bridge looking at the massive foundations, and all the giant bolts that hold them in place. Gotta get a pic of that!

I guess photography is not so much about the subject but about the way the photographer sees it. Yeah?

NC Art reckons sweet potatoes are cool, and that I must've done something terribly wrong to bugger it up. You must have done something vile to your sweet potato, m'man. These things are delicious, nutritious and very healthy food. Full of vitamins and minerals, really. As for cooking, wrap the thing in wet paper towels, bake in microwave 4 or 5 minutes, burn your hand removing it. Split and lay a slab of butter on and pierce to allow butter to get inside. That's the easy way. Alternately you may make sweet potato pie. Boil or bake potato, remove skin and mash it to smooth consistency. Add 1/4 cup of butter, a bit of cream, one beaten egg, sprinkle lightly with ground cinnamon and top with marshmallows. Bake until marshmallows are lightly browned. Let cool a bit, slice and eat as delightful dessert or dinner accompaniment. Refrigerate uneaten portion and enjoy as an afternoon snack with tea. My mom spurned the traditional pumpkin pie but used it with sweet potato, then spiced it up with nutmeg and cinnamon to disguise the pumpkin flavor. Incidentally, we harvested some 600 bushels of the golden root crop annually to feed 10 orphans through the winter. And when I came home from school, there was usually a potato baked in hot ashes of the fireplace. Great edible hand warmer!

I can think of another edible hand warmer but I'd better not say anything. 5th amendment and all that. Yes, I did do something silly with my sweet potato. I cut it up into chips and deep fried it. Didn't work. But Art's comments remind me of the way I do potato and pumpkin mash. When you boil them together (about 2/3 spud and 1/3 pumpkin) you don't need milk or butter to arrive at a smooth consistency. The pumpkin does all the work, and it sweetens the mash to a most agreeable taste.

One popular way of baking spuds in Oz on a barbecue is simply to wrap the spud (with skin on) in foil and throw it on the fire. Serve with sour cream and chives. When I bake spuds in a conventional oven, I peel and quarter them, spray a baking dish with a light film of canola oil, place the quarters round side down, spray the tops with more cooking oil, sprinkle with mixed dried herbs (a generous pinch each) and bake at medium temp for about an hour or until the skins are brown and crisp. Yum! I always do that when I roast a chook or a meatloaf.

Lemme see what I could do with spuds for a week: Monday, mashed. Tuesday, chips. Wednesday, baked. Thursday, battered and scalloped. Friday, potato and leek soup. Saturday, barbecued. Sunday, potato pie. You could actually live on the damn things!

One of the dishes I like to make in winter is meatballs in tomato. Too easy. Make lots of small meatballs with sausage mince, chopped onion, parsley, garlic, celery, and a pinch of herbs. Shallow fry and drain on paper. Dump the fat. Meanwhile, boil diced potatoes until tender. Pour a can of diced tomatoes into a saucepan and heat, add cooked meatballs and potato. Serve with buttered crusty bread. Voila. Din dins.

Here's a classic lawyer story sent to me by NC Art:


This took place in Charlotte, North Carolina. A lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against, among other things, fire. Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars, the lawyer filed a claim against the insurance company. In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost 'in a series of small fires.'

The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason, that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion. The lawyer sued - and WON! (Stay with me.) 

Delivering the ruling, the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company, in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable 'fire' and was obligated to pay the claim. 

Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000 to the lawyer for his loss of the cigars that perished in the 'fires'. 


After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000 fine. 

This true story won First Place in last year's Criminal Lawyers Award contest. 


Beeb time: Les Hinton, one of the top executives of Rupert Murdoch's embattled News Corporation media empire, has quit. Mr Hinton was chief executive of Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Mr Murdoch said the resignation brought him "much sadness". Rebekah Brooks - chief executive of the media group's UK newspaper arm, News International - also quit on Friday. Mr Hinton led News International from 1995-2007, when the UK's News of the World was hacking phones. Mr Murdoch will apologise for "serious wrongdoings" by the News of the World, in full-page advertisements signed by him, in Britain's main national newspapers on Saturday. What is it they say about the bigger they are? At least 28 people are killed by security forces in some of the largest protests against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad so far, activists say. This is lunatic stuff. What the hell does al-Assad think he's achieving? Pop star and actress Jennifer Lopez and singer Marc Anthony are divorcing after seven years of marriage, in what they call "an amicable conclusion". I can't help wondering why some people bother to get married in the first place. President Barack Obama has said he is seeking a "big deal" with Republicans to reduce the budget deficit and keep the US from defaulting on its debt. At the White House, Mr Obama warned time was running out for a bargain, but rejected Republican plans to cut public spending without raising taxes. Cross-party talks between Mr Obama and congressional leaders have failed to make a breakthrough. The US must raise its $14.3tn (£8.9tn) debt limit to borrow beyond 2 August. Failure to reach a deal would rattle a world economy still trying to put the 2008 downturn behind it, analysts say. "We're all Americans, and we all believe what's good for America is good for all Americans... it's just that we can't agree on what's good for America." Well, anyway, that's my take on it. The United States has recognised the Libyan opposition as the country's "legitimate governing authority". The move means billions of dollars of Libyan assets frozen in US banks could be released to the rebels. The decision was announced by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a diplomatic meeting in Istanbul. Gaddafi must be fuming hehe. A couple from Largs in Ayrshire have been named as the winners of the £161m Euromillions jackpot. Chris Weir said she and her husband Colin were "tickled pink" when they realised they had scooped Tuesday's jackpot. "I even had a glass of white wine which is something I normally only do at Christmas!" laughed Chris. What will they do with their new found wealth? Read the story here. Volkswagen has sold more than 4 million vehicles during the first half of the year, a record for Europe's largest carmaker. Deliveries increased by 14% on the same period last year, led by strong growth in Asian markets. All this from the humble Beetle that was originally available in one color... gray

There are funny jokes and hilarious jokes. I think this one sent to me by NC Art belongs to the latter category: A cowboy walked into a drug store in Texas , and asked to talk to a male pharmacist. The woman he was talking to said that she was the only pharmacist and as she and her sister owned the store, there were no males employed there. She then asked if she could help him. The cowboy said that it was something that he would be much more comfortable discussing with a male pharmacist. The female pharmacist assured him that she was completely professional, and whatever it was that he needed to discuss, he could be confident that she would treat him with the highest level of professionalism. The cowboy then agreed and began by saying... 'This is tough for me to discuss, but I have a...  permanent erection. It causes me severe embarrassment, and I was wondering what you could give me for it.' The pharmacist said, 'Just a minute, I'll talk to my sister.' When she returned, she said, 'We discussed it at length, and the absolute best we can do is as follows: 1/3 ownership in the store... A company pickup truck... Two home cooked dinners a week... and $3,000 a month in living expenses.'

Justin's blog posted a couple of links to a story about a psychiatrist who "cured" a child of effeminate behavior that might have led to the child becoming homosexual. Instead, it led to the child's suicide as an adult.

I think Justin is mad at me. I commented on the article, suggesting that George Rekers is a homophobe who uses bullying tactics to "cure" people of the very thing that troubles himself. That's what homophobes do... they try to cure their own "problem" by curing others, either by physical abuse or, in Rekers case, psychiatric abuse. They suffer self-denial, in other words. People who are comfortable with their own sexuality are not interested in criticizing the sexuality of others. But I also suggested that people like Rekers probably console themselves by saying that they are created by God in his own likeness, and argue that what God has joined together let no one put asunder. Oops!

Well, I figure if Justin can use that argument to justify his own identity then so can George Rekers. What's good for the goose, etc... But I don't think Justin agrees with my logic. He (at this point) hasn't posted my comment. You see, dear Breth, discussing religion and politics can get you into serious trouble, especially if you say what you think. It's okay for believers to say what they think, but woe betide any non-believer who dares to do likewise. Funny old world, yeah?

Back from shopping, and taking a few more pics of the new police station being constructed just up the road. I've been taking pics since they started demolishing parts of the old courthouse and building the new adjoining structure. While shopping, I bought a new Energizer AA/AAA battery charger. $35! Sheesh. But that included four new 2450 nAh NiMH batteries, which hold their charge very well and are pretty good. The Sony camera uses a proprietary battery but the 2 Fujis and the Kodak use AAs. My Gillette shaver uses AAAs.

I took a pic of Das Busse the other day when I moved it out onto the street to make way for Stan the Lawn Man's mower and trimmer. At the time, I didn't notice the sign on top of DB's roof. Seems appropriate, yes?

No cooking tonight, it seems. Sue's at the dentist having more teeth removed. Yes, even on a Saturday in the PM. The surgeon had a cancellation so Sue was slotted in. She won't be in any mood to eat din dins when she gets back here. And Lindsay reckons he'll pig out on junk. So all I have to worry about is ME. Gary

July 15, 2011. Well, ladies and genitals, I have some nice chewns for you. I found this one on Youchewb this morning... a lovely version of Jobim's 'Wave'.

I was impressed so I sent the link to a Red Bubbler from Colorado who's a pretty nifty guitarist (as well as photographer and graphic artist), wondering what he would think. I'm no expert. So he Bubblemailed me: holy crap, gary ! that was a wonderful vid ! “wave” is one of my favorite jobim songs…. i found one for you…’s on youtube…’s the song “crazy” sung by diana krall, willie nelson, and krall’s husband elvis costello... thanks for the tune, loved it ! peter

Well, that was a pleasant way to stay the day, thanks to my plug-in Logitech speakers. The Toshiba built-ins are dreadful.

Oregon Richie commented on the price variation between the US and Oz on electronics: I suppose it's true about the size of the US market and also the massive bulk-buying power that many US retail powerhouses may have.  That probably reduces overall cost and shipping. But as Richie points out, Oz has extensive health care and medical subsidies, and there's no such thing as a free lunch. The money's gotta come from somewhere. In our case, it's China. :o)

Dave from Ormond Beach says pretty much the same thing - tariffs. Yes, we do have large discount stores in Oz but it still gets down to a small population and market. I watched a report on telly last night about Aussie consumers. Savings are up and spending is down. Consumer confidence, for some reason despite a healthy economy, is stagnant. Our oldest department store, David Jones, says response to its latest sale has been dismal. To make matters worse, David Jones value on the stock market fell by 12%. Other retail stocks are down as well. By the way, David Jones city store doesn't have piped music. Oh, no. Nothing that crass. They still have a bloke dressed in his black and whites playing a grand piano.

Averil gave me a sweet potato the other day. I'd never tried one before. Yuck! Never again. Gimme the good ol' reliable basic spud any day. However, Averil did steer me in the direction of rippled wholemeal crisps, flavored with sour cream and chives. Mmmmm. Not bad! They're a blend of corn, wheat and oats. No spuds.

Beeb time: The FBI is investigating reports that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation sought to hack the phones of victims of the 9/11 attacks. The criminal probe follows calls from a growing number of senators and a senior Republican for an investigation. It's my belief that anyone as obsessively ambitious as Murdoch doesn't mind treading on toes to get him where he wants to be. Problem is, it also gets him to where he doesn't wanna be. President Obama reportedly tells lawmakers he wants a breakthrough on US debt negotiations in 24-36 hours, as a fifth day of talks ends with no deal. It's what's known in the fiction trade as a cliffhanger. The Italian Senate passes a stringent austerity budget, aimed at reducing the country's deficit and avoiding a bail-out. I've been through my own personal austerity budget and I can recommend it. The Pentagon has admitted it suffered a major cyber attack in which thousands of files were taken by foreign hackers. Deputy Defence Secretary William Lynn said that in a March attack and other breaches, hackers had taken information on "our most sensitive systems". The admission came as the Pentagon rolled out a strategy for strengthening US cyber capabilities and addressing threats and attacks in cyberspace. The plan would treat cyberspace in a similar manner to land, air and sea. "In the 21st Century, bits and bytes can be as threatening as bullets and bombs," Mr Lynn said, unveiling the plan. In a speech at National Defense University in Washington, Mr Lynn said about 24,000 files containing Pentagon data were stolen from a defence industry computer network in March, marking one of the largest cyber attacks in US history. Anyone wanna take a guess at where the hacker(s) came from? The US has expressed concern over a crackdown in Malaysia on protests last Saturday. The state department's Mark Toner said people should be allowed to "freely express their democratic aspirations". Malaysian police cordoned off central Kuala Lumpur on Saturday and used tear gas and water cannon against thousands of people demanding electoral reform. Reminds me of my De La Salle brothers school days. A Maori MP has been thrown out of New Zealand's parliament for refusing to read the oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II. Hone Harawira began reading his own oath in Maori, which instead swore allegiance to the Treaty of Waitangi - New Zealand's founding document. The parliamentary speaker stopped him and told him to leave the chamber. My initial reaction is that Harawira should have told the speaker to leave the chamber. An online entrepreneur says that poor spelling is costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue for internet businesses. Charles Duncombe says an analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half. Mr Duncombe says when recruiting staff he has been "shocked at the poor quality of written English". Sales figures suggest misspellings put off consumers who could have concerns about a website's credibility, he says. I've noticed that spam emails have atrocious spelling - too easy to pick. The UK winner of the £161m Euromillions jackpot has claimed their prize, lottery operator Camelot has confirmed. It is not yet known if the ticket holder is an individual or syndicate - or whether they will go public. If the winner is a single player, they would instantly be placed 430th in this year's Sunday Times Rich List. Tuesday's £161,653,000 prize was Europe's biggest-ever and was capped after a series of rollovers. It follows a £113m UK Euromillions win in October. The lucky winner of the £161m prize, who is said to be deciding whether or not to reveal their identity, successfully matched all five main numbers and both Lucky Stars. That's about $300m... woohoo! Imagine that! No shortage of friends, that's for sure... including friends you didn't even realize you had!

Peter, the Red Bubbler who sent me the link to 'Crazy' earlier today, just sent this one of a duet featuring two marvelous young pianists playing the same piano. Awesome stuff. Ya know, the human brain is capable of incredible things. When they're bad, they're very bad, but when they're good they're wonderful.

But back to winning $300m. Would you tell your friends, or keep it to yourself? Hehe. Pretty hard to keep a secret that big. But of course you realize the consequences of going public. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Lots of sad stories about being desperate for a quid, and how you could save their ass. The wise thing would be to keep it quiet. But who's in the mood to be wise when you get a phone call to say you're $300m richer?

Not sure what I'd do if I won that much loot. I reckon $300m is about $299m more than I need. I'd probably set up a bunch of trusts to fund various educational foundations, drug and alcohol rehab centers, charities that care for the poor and underprivileged, and that kinda thing. I don't need no Ferrari or Rolls Royce or Cartier wrist watch, man. Actually, I don't ya know... those things don't interest me in the least.

However, I would invest in a new battery charger... with or without $300m. My Energizer AA and AAA battery charger just went fffttt! Dammit. Gary

July 14, 2011. Last night as I cooked dinner, I grabbed a sheet of newspaper and saw an article about electronics and the variation in prices between Oz and the US. Canon EOS 60D DSLR camera AUD1599, USD1000 - gap 37%. Lenovo Thinkpad X1, AUD1979, USD1199 - gap 39%. Apple IPad 2 64GB 3G, AUD949, USD829 - gap 12%. Panasonic HDC-HS900 video camera, AUD2099, USD1400 - gap 33%. Very interesting! I figure it must have something to do with the much bigger market available in the US. 310 million compared to our 21. It's not the value of our dollar which is currently worth about 1.06US.

Ohio Jace commented on the introduction of feral creatures: I watched a program on the Science Channel recently about Cane Toads. 102 were introduced into Queensland in 1935 at present there are 1.5 billion in NSW, Queensland, Northern Terr. And about to cross over into Western OZ. They have been introduced into Florida and Hawaii as well as several islands in the Caribbean. Introduction into Louisiana was unsuccessful. They occur naturally in southern Texas and Mexico south to Brazil. They are edible and are commonly eaten in their native range. Once skinned and the poison gland is removed they are boiled.

Ew! I'll pass. I met a bloke from Far North Queensland about 20 years ago. He lives on Magnetic Island, just west of Townsville, and is a very talented artist who was commissioned to paint a selection of tropical fish pictures for an Australian series of stamps. I saw them and you'd swear they were high-quality photographs. But for a bit of fun, and extra income, he gathers the carcasses of cane toads that have been flattened by passing cars, cleans them, dries them, and then fashions them into weird caricatures with human characteristics.

Jace went on to talk about various bird species that have been introduced... pigeons, sparrows, starlings... Yep, we've got the buggers here too, and they're a bloody nuisance. Jace also had a bit of a whinge about his local pollies (like I keep whinging about ours). Hehe. But he says the Ohio gang is well - and that, after all, is the most important thing.

But we all like to have a bit of whinge now and again, and bitch about things that annoy us. NC Art is no exception: This Dallas hoopla leaves me wondering  about the brains of TV producers. By the time JR got shot I didn't give a rat's ass hoodunnit, but I did wonder why the shooter took so long to get around to it. And the Harry Potter frenzy over the last film of the franchise has gotta be anticlimactic. But book buyers and cinema ticket  sales make Ms. Rowling a multibillionnaire--and one of the richest women in the world. And there's Gary who can't get Green Room published! Hope Justin gives you some good advice.

Well, ya never know. I've long had the feeling that it would take the "right" person to discover Green Room, someone with a genuine belief in the value of the story who is also in a position to do a bit of string pulling. It's the ol' who ya know trick. Interestingly, Justin wrote: I cannot understand why no one was interested in publishing this book. . . . .when I notice the total trash which is in too many bookstores. Now there's a clue. Publishers don't mind trash so long as it sells. Who cares if it's trash? Publishing is about sales! Yeah, I can understand that. Bucks rule.

As to the chilly winter weather we're currently experiencing in Oz, Art has this to say: Oh how you whine over 50F temperature in winter. Right here today's high was 98F, with a heat factor of 108F. Sheesh! Ohio Jace mentioned the same thing... a heatwave in his state.

In other news, seems like the Australian tycoon Rupert Murdoch is squirming and sputtering about journalistic misadventures. Looks like half of England was on the take and feeding News of the World juicy tabloid fare. Ruppie's been a bad boy. Hehe.

Art's been experiencing computer "issues" lately, regarding connection. Tell me about it. Before electricity was invented there was no such thing as a "blackout". Now a blackout causes havoc. Ditto with all the other inventions that have spoiled us, and become "necessities". Hehe. Just because we lived quite happily without all these technological marvels before they were invented is irrelevant. We've become dependent upon them.

Lindsay and Sue are not going to England this year so they're using their money to buy goodies, like a new flat-screen TV that's almost twice the size of the one they have now. Why? Because they can. When I first met Lindsay he was earning $5 a week to buy two bottles of beer. His disability pension was used by the boarding house manager to pay for lodgings and meals and cigarettes. Before I became Sue's carer, Lindsay would arrive home from the boarding house with two plates of bolognaise, a couple of toilet rolls and maybe some soap, and expect Sue to be grateful for his ability as a husband to be Sue's provider. Sheesh. Compare that with what he said to Sue this morning after arriving back from a trip to the electrical store. "They've got TVs almost twice the size of ours for ONLY a thousand bucks!" Only a thousand? He hardly had a dollar to bless himself with when I first met him. And what's happening with the old TV? "I'll put it back in the box and keep it as a spare." Meanwhile, here's me still watching my little 18" Samsung I bought second hand for $90 about 8 years ago. I'll have to upgrade soon because analogue will be switched off next year. Nothing big or flash... something portable I can use in Das Busse that can run on 12V.

NC Art sent this little gem: Never Choke in a Restaurant in the South!

Two hillbillies walk into a restaurant. While having a bite to eat, they talk about their moonshine operation. Suddenly, a woman at a nearby table, who is eating a sandwich, begins to cough. After a minute or so, it becomes apparent that she is in real distress. One of the hillbillies looks at her and says, 'Kin ya swallar?' The woman shakes her head, no. Then he asks, 'Kin ya breathe?' The woman begins to turn blue and shakes her head, no. The hillbilly walks over to the woman, lifts up her dress, yanks down her drawers and quickly gives her right butt cheek a lick with his tongue. The woman is so shocked that she has a violent spasm and the obstruction flies out of her mouth. As she begins to breathe again, the hillbilly walks slowly back to his table. His partner says, 'Ya know, I'd heerd of that there 'Hind Lick Maneuver' but I ain't niver seed nobody do it!'

Beeb time: Indian officials blame terrorists for three explosions during the evening rush-hour in Mumbai which killed 21 people and injured dozens. The twisted minds of religious fanatics. How the fuck do you solve that problem? I guess Allah could but apparently he doesn't give a rat's ass. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp drops its bid to take full ownership of BSkyB, after mounting criticism over phone-hacking allegations. Fiddling while Rome burns. Ratings agency Moody's has said it may cut the US AAA debt rating, citing the "rising possibility" the US will default on its debt obligations. The agency warned the likelihood the US would fail to raise its statutory debt limit in time to avert default was "low" but not "de minimis". The US has surpassed its debt limit, but Congress and President Barack Obama remain at odds over how to raise it. More fiddling while another Rome burns. The campaign group, Human Rights Watch, has accused rebels in Libya of looting, arson and the abuse of civilians. Observers from the New York-based group say they have witnessed some incidents themselves, and have interviewed witnesses to others in territory recently seized by rebels. I'm not surprised. War brings out the worst in people. Or maybe it's the worst in people that brings out war. Roman Catholic bishops in the Philippines are to return sport utility vehicles (SUVs) received as gifts from government funds, an inquiry has heard. Senators are investigating claims that illegal gifts bought with state lottery money were given to the bishops by the last government to win their support. The bishops acknowledge accepting the cars but say they did so only to help poor people in remote communities. More than 80% of Filipinos are Catholic and the clergy are highly influential. Of course they are. They've got a monopoly on ticket sales to heaven. An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-licence photo wearing a pasta strainer as "religious headgear". Niko Alm first applied for the licence three years ago after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons. Mr Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, pastafarianism. The idea came into Mr Alm's noodle three years ago as a way of making a serious, if ironic, point. A self-confessed atheist, Mr Alm says he belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a light-hearted faith whose members call themselves pastafarians. It had to happen. British people are used to the stream of Americanisms entering the language. But some are worse than others, argues Matthew Engel. I have had a lengthy career in journalism. I hope that's because editors have found me reliable. I have worked with many talented colleagues. Sometimes I get invited to parties and meet influential people. Overall, I've had a tremendous time. Lengthy. Reliable. Talented. Influential. Tremendous. All of these words we use without a second thought were never part of the English language until the establishment of the United States. An article definitely worth reading

Yep, suicide bombers do what they do because they believe in a heavenly reward for their actions. Suicide bombers are motivated by greed. They are not heroes. Repeat, not heroes. True heroes unselfishly risk or sacrifice their lives purely for the sake of others. True heroes seek no reward or personal gain. No point in telling that to the religious fundamentalists and fanatics, though. Their brains are fucked. And when a person's brain is fucked, it's hello? Knock, knock... anyone home?

Bloody good thing I live in Taree and not Kabul hehe.

Anyway, the heater's on and it's time to think about cooking din dins. At about six, Lindsay will turn the heat off because the living room will be nice and cosy. He figures once the temperature reaches a certain point, it's time to turn off the a/c even though the temp plummets half an hour later. If we had a log fire, he would walk in at a certain point with a bucket of water. That's the way he is, and there's no point in trying to argue with his "logic". I like to keep the peace around here and arguing with Lindsay is not the way to do it. One of these days... Gary

July 13, 2011. Here we go again. Those chicken sizzle things last night were actually quite good. Spray a little oil in a very hot pan, sizzle for about 30 seconds on each side and that's it.

Also yesterday I took a look at the latest flyer from Australia Post. The postal biz has suffered since email and internet banking have made inroads into the mail biz, so Australia Post has diversified into retail, selling all kinds of things such as printers and ink, laptops and notepads, external hard drivers and memory cards and all kinds of computer peripherals, as well as cards and stationery. I noticed those USB memory sticks are now cheap as chips. I've still got a 2GB stick I've never used that cost about 12 bucks. Now 12 bucks buys 8GB. It's all a far cry from when I started back in 1986.

Just checked the local weather. 9.5C at 9:30am (about 50F) and cloudy. Bleh. 50F might be okay for you blokes who live in places where winter is severe but it's BLOODY cold as far as I'm concerned. Despite my fair complexion, I'm not a winter person. Gimme the tropics any day (but not the humidity). After the Odyssey, I think I might settle somewhere north... not sure where at this point... maybe far north Queensland or even in West Oz in Broome or Derby. I've heard great things about Tasmania too, but it gets a bit nippy down there during winter. Anyway, anything could happen. I might even conk out before the Odyssey ends!

A bloke from Arizona just called... something about opening an internet store. I don't remember filling out a request for anything like that. Oh well, dozen madder. He was pleasant enough, and had a very nice phone voice. He even understood my Aussie accent, and ended the call politely when I told him I wasn't interested. Me? Run a store? I don't think so.

Being winter, the local council blokes are out trimming extraneous branches from the street trees. One bloke operates the chain saw and another bloke tells him what to trim. Hehe. Can't have one bloke doing both jobs.

The other day I mentioned the revival of the Dallas TV soap, and TX Greg took umbrage at my "ho hum" comment: What the remake of Dallas "Ho Hum" haha. I grew up on that show. Actually for a short while I lived a few miles from the Southfork ranch. Would always see limo's wizing by carrying the stars while filming there. When you tour the place it's a way smaller house than they make it appear on the show.

And Larry Hagman wouldn't even tell the queen who shot JR....

Beeb time: A key US senator calls for an investigation into whether reported hacking by News Corporation journalists targeted any American citizens, as the scandal continues to grip the UK. Same thing is happening in Oz. This is bigger than Dallas. Financial constraints, maritime regulations and campaigns by activists will not stop Japan sending its whaling fleet back to the Antarctic, a senior official tells the BBC. And so the battle will continue. If a restaurant put whale meat on a plate in front of me I'd puke. Ratings agency Moody's cuts the Irish Republic's debt rating to junk status saying the country is likely to need further official funding. Moody's cut Ireland's ratings by one notch to Ba1 from Baa3. And the agency warned that further downgrades were possible if the Irish government failed to meet its deficit reduction targets, or if Greece were to default, thereby causing further market disruption. Things are grim, folks. Which is a shame. I've always thought of Ireland as a happy place, with emerald green fields and gnomes playing in the garden. Former occupants of the White House and other US dignitaries gather at a California church to honour late US First Lady Betty Ford. It's funny about funerals. Everyone's there except the guest of honor. A US woman drugged her estranged husband, tied him to a bed and cut off his penis, police in California say. The woman then threw the penis into the waste disposal and told police who attended the incident in Garden Grove, near Los Angeles: "He deserved it." Catherine Kieu Becker, 48, has been charged with poisoning and assault with a deadly weapon. The 51-year-old victim, who has not been named, is in a serious condition following surgery. The mind boggles. Indiana is the latest US state which will not require its schoolchildren to learn joined-up, or cursive, writing. But students will have to learn basic typing skills, which education officials say are more useful in the modern employment world. The move is part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which aims to ensure consistency in US education and makes no mention of handwriting. But critics say writing well is a vital skill for life and builds character. Despite being a proficient typist, I'm with the critics. Handwriting is a very worthwhile skill. 

Yeah, people like Shakespeare and da Vinci depended on handwriting. And even someone like me, a relative newcomer, dipped his nib in a bottle of ink as a kid at school. I was in high school before ball-points were invented. They were considered evil at first, the work of the devil, and we weren't allowed to use them. I didn't learn to type until I was in my mid-twenties.

Well, I suppose I better do a bit of shopping. Averil needs a few things as well.

Back! I had Bluey's heater on full blast. Too bloody cold! But I paid Averil's rent and got a few goodies at the supermarket. And now the heater's on in the house. I'm a frankfurt freak ya know, so I bought a dozen as well as those bake-at-home bread rolls hehe. Hot dogs for lunch! With hot English mustard! And before you start waving your finger at me, I'm skinny. 140 pounds. So there.

The young girl at Eddy's Chicken who makes the gourmet chicken rissoles said she's flat out making enough to keep up with demand. I'm not surprised. They're very nice... chicken breast mince mixed with chopped veges and crumbed. Bung 'em in the oven for about 30 minutes and Bob's yer uncle. They work out at about a dollar each.

When I was a kid, chicken was a once-a-year treat, usually at Christmas. Now chickens are raised by the millions in huge sheds on chicken farms. If Wile E Coyote had known that he would have stopped chasing the Road Runner. By the way, did you know that the Coyote finally DID catch the Road Runner?

And now, dear Breth, it's time to end this sermon, and attend to my more basic duties, such as cooking for the ... well ... THEM. And me, of course. I need sustenance as well. Gary

July 12, 2011. So yesterday was my lucky day, huh? Not according to Lotto it wasn't. But I did get an email from Justin who is most impressed with Green Room and says he has an idea (about publishing) rolling around in his "little cranium". Well, if he can pull a string or two over there in Massachusetts that's fine with me.

Meanwhile, NC Art has something to say about numbers: 9x99x9x9x9=? G'day Gary, So eleven has special import for you. Nine is an interesting bugger too because you can't get rid of it. Multiply any number by 9 and you will get 9 in pairs, triplets etc and other single numbers which will add up to 9s. (9x9=81, and 8+1=9) Go ahead and play with it when you have absolutely nothing better to do on a cold and rainy afternoon. Hehe.

So what'll I waffle on about today? Dunno, actually. Oregon Richie said it must be difficult living with L&S, which is true. But before those two came along, I was living in Canberra with my ex-biz partner and his family, and that was a major chore as well. So I guess I was in training - getting used to the idea of living with mentally-challenged nitwits. They say that everything happens for a reason, but I haven't yet figured out why my life took a sudden U turn 20 years ago. I was cruising along pretty well until then. Oh well, all will be revealed at some point, I suppose. One thing I've learned... don't be so trusting. Or have I? Hmmm.

Oh yes... one of my fav Red Bubblers, Mieke, returned home from an evening out and decided to take a self-portrait while she was all dolled up. She's not a bad sort, ya know. Most of the time she's in the bush taking pics of the Kimberley outback and boab trees. She's quite a gal. Just now she announced on Red Bub that she won a prize. Well deserved, I say.

Justin's mention of Green Room inspired me to re-read the final chapter to refresh my memory. Justin said he'd become so engrossed in GR that he took a break (probably because of July 4 and the many relatives visiting his house over the holiday period). He's now ready to finish the book. I wonder how many tissues he'll go through. In the last half hour or so I've gone through heaps. Even after all these years I'm still deeply affected by Cody's untimely demise, and also by how his death as well as his life profoundly affected all his friends and family. He was one helluva dude. Justin knows him as Kyle, of course, but that's okay. Kyle was the name Cody chose when I first began writing stories about him.

Beeb time: The US Secretary of State has said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has "lost legitimacy", amid diplomatic tension between the two countries. Speaking after a crowd attacked the US embassy in Damascus, Hillary Clinton said Mr Bashar was "not indispensable". France blamed the regime after its embassy was similarly targeted. The embassy attacks came after the US and French envoys visited the troubled city of Hama last week, drawing sharp criticism from Syrian media. "Not indispensable" is diplomatic speak for "dickhead". The UK terror threat level is being reduced from "severe" to "substantial", the home secretary has announced. The new alert level means the risk of a terrorist attack is considered to be a "strong possibility" and "might well occur without further warning". Theresa May said: "The change in the threat level does not mean that the overall threat has gone away. "There is still a real and serious threat to the UK and I would ask the public to remain ever vigilant." Then why reduce the level? A man in the US state of Colorado has died after shooting himself in the head during a game of Russian roulette, police said. Anthony Martin, 21, and other men were drinking and playing with a gun before the incident, Pueblo Police Sgt Eric Bravo told the Pueblo Chieftain. Mr Martin died at the scene early on Sunday. Investigators believe he did not know the gun was loaded, Sgt Bravo said. No arrests were made. What can you say? Failure to raise the US debt ceiling could trigger another recession and throw millions out of work, President Barack Obama has said. Mr Obama is struggling to marshal support for a budget package that would include some $4tn (£2.5tn) of cuts. Don't look at me! I'm hopeless with money! Neptune is celebrating its first birthday. On 12 July it will be exactly one Neptunian year - or 164.79 Earth years - since its discovery. Jeez, if you were on a salary paid monthly over there, you'd starve! 

I'm wondering how long in Earth time it would be between breakfast, lunch and dinner on a typical Neptune day, but I can't be bothered figuring it out. Math ain't my forte.

And now back to Mieke. She lives in Derby, east of Broome in Western Australia, up there in Kimberley country. I checked my Camps book and saw quite a few camp sites around the area but very few with mobile phone access, which means I'd be off line for extended periods. I would continue to write the journal, of course, and take lots of pics, but updating Aussie Odyssey might be fairly infrequent when traveling around areas such as those. They're pretty remote. Anyway, that's many moons away yet.

Here's a Youchewb vid I found about living in Derby. Mind you, there are probably a million other vids out there about a million other small towns.

Being on the east coast, the Odyssey will begin here in Taree. North or south? That will depend on the season. If I were leaving now, it would be north. If I leave in the summer, I'll head south or maybe west. I'm not sure. Dozen madder. It's all interesting. One thing's for sure: it's gonna take YEARS!

Meanwhile, it's time for din dins. I bought these thin chicken breast sizzle things and I'm not sure I should have. But I'll give 'em a go, and serve 'em with potato scallops. Gary

July 11, 2011. Hmmm, two elevens. This could be my lucky day! In numerology I'm an 11, which is supposed to have some sort of spiritual significance, as do the numbers 22 and 33. All other numbers are reduced to a single digit, except those. My 11 comes from being born on the 29th. According to the numerologist I spoke to (he gave me a free session cos I was the local radio personality) I would become a writer. That was 40 years ago and I'd not really written anything. In fact, I was a talker on the wireless! I thought the guy was nuts but he insisted that because I was born in the 8th month and the year 44, all the fours meant I was destined to be a writer. Hmmm. Silly him.

The kookaburras are pretty vocal this morning... laughing and cackling themselves silly outside. I wonder if they realize how comical they are. Mind you, lizards and meeces don't think they're too comical. Interestingly, kookaburras are related to kingfishers but don't eat fish. On the other hand, I'm not related to kingfishers and I do eat fish. So there ya go.

Well, you've probably asked yourself many times what would happen if someone gave a chimpanzee an AK-47 they thought was unloaded. Thanks to NC Art for forwarding the link.

Art also asked about a species of snake that was imported into Oz to get rid of the rabbit plague (rabbits were also imported). I've not heard of the snake (although there's no shortage of those buggers in Oz), but some bright spark decided to import South American toads into Oz to get rid of the sugar cane beetle. The toads took a liking to other prey, dismissed the cane beetle, and are now spreading right across the north of Oz into places like Kakadu and the Kimberley. Cane toads are poisonous and anything that preys on the toad, such as goannas, snakes and larger birds, dies. Cane toads have been spotted as far south as the Mid North Coast (here in Taree). They are a major problem that has so far baffled scientific efforts to eradicate them. Ditto the rabbit. However, rabbits are now being farmed for their meat.

There's a football team in South Sydney called 'The Rabbitos'. The team was named after the street vendors who sold fresh rabbits during the Great Depression years to make an extra quid. Rabbit meat was associated with being poor but it's making a comeback these days as a delicacy. Pity we can't eat cane toads hehe. But I've heard there's a fledgling industry now that uses cane toad skin to make shoes, bags, etc.

As Art says, Don't mess with Mother Nature! should be taken seriously. How true. But Europeans who settled Oz thought they knew better than the Aborigines who kept Oz in a pristine state for 50,000 years. Some might say it's because they didn't know any better. Oh really?

Meanwhile, Art made it his business to research the rabbit story in Oz: An exhaustive search for information about the Aussie rabbit plague left me...well, exhausted. It is a wondrous story of the pests and the desperate measures undertaken to control the furry beasts. One small positive note in the saga of 600,000,000 bunnies was during the Great Recession. Farmers and station staffers ate the creature, fed them to their dogs, boiled them for chicken feed and sold the pelts for hatters in Europe. That was helpful but never near the cost rabbits caused to agriculture, erosion of soil, and destruction of habitat for other species, especially birds.

Actually, that reminds me of the Akubra story. Akubra is Australia's hat icon, made from rabbit pelts. Just about every Aussie farmer and bushman wears an Akubra, which is also the famous slouch hat worn by the Australian military service since the mid 19th century - the 'digger' hat. The slouch hat’s mark in history is rooted in Australia’s introduction to modern warfare at Gallipoli and the reputation established by the AIF on the Western Front. From that time the simple felt hat, with its side turned up, was an emblem of the courage of the Australian digger, and it became a national symbol. Although commonly believed to be uniquely Australian, similar styles of hat were adopted by many other countries, including the United States, New Zealand, India and even Germany. Wikipedia. My Aussie bush hat is not a "proper" one... it's made in Oz but from wool. Pretty good hat, though.

Funny how this daily page starts out as blank and yet somehow manages to get filled, thanks to various contributions and my own fertile imagination. I also have a penchant for going off on tangents, quite often losing the plot. No, that's not quite correct. There's never a plot to begin with. I thought yesterday's paragraph that began with space exploration and ended with clotted cream and scones was pretty typical of how my brain works. Hehe. That's how I drive as well. I make a lousy navigator.

Now, for example, I'm tempted to go off on another tangent and investigate any link between navigator and alligator but I'll resist the temptation.

Beeb time: The US says it is withholding some $800m in military aid to Pakistan. White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley told ABC television that Pakistan had "taken some steps that have given us reason to pause on some of the aid". He said the US raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in May had affected ties but he insisted the relationship "must be made to work over time". The New York Times said the move was to show US anger at the expulsion of US military trainers and to pressure Pakistan to step up its fight against militants. No allowance for you this week, son, unless you promise to behave yourself. Atlantis has docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on the final mission of the US space shuttle programme. It will spend at least seven days at the ISS and, on its return to Earth, will be retired along with the other shuttles in Nasa's fleet. Atlantis is taking vital supplies to the space station, including more than a tonne of food, ensuring astronauts there have got enough to last a year. The first shuttle mission was in 1981. That's older than Das Busse! So what happens to the space station after the shuttles are retired? Once Nasa retires its shuttles, it will be relying on robotic spacecraft from private companies to make cargo runs to the ISS, he says. There ya go. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have visited a school in the deprived Skid Row area of Los Angeles on the final day of their North American tour. Prince William and his wife, Kate, were welcomed to the Inner City Arts academy by six young children holding a banner and about 150 well-wishers. The royals were later escorted to a visual arts studio where they sat at easels and spoke to youngsters. Skid Row, in LA's downtown area, has a large homeless population. The haves and the have-nots. I guess that's the way it's always been, and always will be. Survival of the richest. A full series update of classic 1980s US soap opera Dallas has been given the go ahead, it has been announced. US network TNT said it had ordered 10 episodes of the programme, after it commissioned a pilot earlier this year. Original stars Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray reprise their roles in the new show, which will focus on the Ewing family offspring. The series is due to air in the US next summer. Ho hum. The Australian government has unveiled plans to impose a tax on carbon emissions for the worst polluters. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said carbon dioxide emissions would be taxed at A$23 ($25; £15) per tonne from 2012. The country's biggest economic reform in a generation will cover some 500 companies. In 2015, a market-based trading scheme will be introduced. Households are expected to see consumer prices rise by nearly 1%, and the move has been criticised by the opposition. Critics argue the levy would damage economic competitiveness. Australia is one of the world's worst emitters of greenhouse gases per head of population. The country relies on coal for 80% of its electricity generation, and is a major coal exporter. The problem I have with Julia Gillard is that she's Julia Gillard. The problem I have with Bob Brown, leader of the Greens is that he's Bob Brown. And the problem I have with the independents is that they supported a minority party in order that it could govern. In combination, those people told the majority of Australian voters that they could stick their votes. Well, in 2 years from now, we'll see who sticks who. I can't stand the bastards. As one commentator, Alan Jones, put it, "Julia, go away, get out of our lives." I can't stand Jones either but at least we agree on something.

Stan the Lawn Man is here giving me cheek, as usual. "You haven't backed into any more garage doors, have you?" So I gave him a look at the strap in DB that holds the hood up when one is attending to the engine. Some twit cut it. An old leather belt with a buckle would do the trick. Something pretty tough and strong. So I asked him to think about it. Stan likes a bit of a handyman challenge. Maybe he's got something in his garage that might be useful. My dad was like that. If you needed a bit of wire or a nut or bolt or screw or whatever, you'd be sure to find it in my dad's shed. And guess what? I have a drawer full of bits and pieces as well, but nothing to fit DB.

Well, that's about it for Mondee. Pork chops and mash for THEM and a beef and mushroom pie with mash for ME. Then a bit of telly. Is the Tour de France over yet? One of my fav programs, the Letters and Numbers Game, has been sidelined while the channel broadcasts lots of bums on saddles. Bleh. So I've been watching the Time Team instead which is a Brit program about archeological diggings in England and Wales to find Roman pottery and other assorted bits and pieces from their ancient past. At least it's a bit more interesting than lycra-clad bums on bicycle saddles. Gary

July 10, 2011. NC Art wrote about feral pigs in his state making a nuisance of themselves, rooting up crops and scuffing rural roads as they forage.  Citizens wish to shoot the pests, which have been protected for years. Thinning wouldn't hurt much; a sow can produce forty piglets a year by multiple fertile periods. The beasts were introduced by Spanish explorers, got loose and had a ball. No natural predators to bother them.

Feral pigs are protected in NC? That surprises me. We have them here in Oz too but they're certainly not protected. Nor are feral rabbits, feral cats, feral camels or feral anything else (except politicians). Actually, the feral camels are used for meat, and also exported to Arabic countries where they are prized because of their disease-free status. Kinda like sending coals to Newcastle. It can be done, ya know. Camels are also a regular part of the scene at Cable Beach in Broome, Western Australia. If you happen to be on the other side of Oz in Birdsville, you can visit the Birdsville Bakery and enjoy a curry camel pie. Hehe. I'm not sure I'd be in a desperate hurry to try one of those.

I can hear Lindsay trying to organize Sue in the bathroom. She screams if the water's too cold, and screams if the water's too hot, and Lindsay has no idea how to control the taps properly. It's a bloody circus, and one I can frankly do without.

Camels were first used in Oz by early outback explorers. Camels were eventually made redundant in the early part of the 20th century by the introduction of motorized vehicles. When the Afghan and Pakistani handlers were told to shoot their animals, they refused and instead turned them loose. The camels adapted well to Aussie desert conditions and flourished. Hundreds of thousands of them now inhabit the Australian inland.

Beeb time: Leaders across the globe have been sending their congratulations to South Sudan on the day it became the world's newest nation. Statements recognising South Sudan's nationhood flowed from the US, UK, Russia and others as tens of thousands watched an independence and flag-raising ceremony in the capital, Juba. US President Barack Obama said in a statement he was "proud to declare that the United States formally recognises the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9 2011". As Oregonian correspondent Richie reports, That's what decades of civil war will get ya !! New US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said the US is "within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaeda". Mr Panetta said that following the killing of Osama Bin Laden, key leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere had been identified and would be targeted. He offered the upbeat assessment during his first visit to Afghanistan since taking over at the Pentagon last week. Defeating al-Qaeda is only part of the story. Defeating terrorism is the whole story. A rose by any other name... 

Hmmm. Not a lotta news around today. However, Waffle's Oregonian correspondent Richie did sent this report on the final flight of the Shuttle: That is really disturbing to me since we don't have crap waiting in the wings at all.  This is not good for progressive American exploration, space research, science and technological innovation, and I can't flat believe it.  The Orion rocket program and the associated Apollo-type spacecraft program seems to be stalled.

I guess there are too many issues "at home" right now that need to be addressed before we can resume space exploration. Besides, the whole space program thing was pretty much left to the Americans (and to a great extent the Russians) while the rest of the world sat back and watched. Space exploration really needs to be a joint effort by all nations. I'm sure Oz would love to be involved as the official caterer - lots of cuppas and barbecued bangers. And scones! Don't forget the scones with jam and cream. The posh people call it Devonshire Tea. In Devon, England, where Devonshire Tea originated, the scones or bread were served with clotted cream rather than whipped cream. What's the difference? Whipped cream takes a few minutes whereas authentic clotted cream takes 8-12 hours in the oven. Hello? You wouldn't wanna be in a hurry. Then the clotted cream needs to be cooled to room temperature before spending a further 8 hours in the fridge. The thick yellowish skin on top is the clotted cream. The rest of the cream below can be used for baking. Well, I think I'll forget all about making genuine clotted cream and stick to whipped, thank you very much.

But back to space stuff, I watched Collectors on telly the other night, a program about all kinds of people who collect all kinds of things. One of the collectables was a medal minted in honor of the Apollo 8 flight around the moon

Not the most exciting of Sundees, dear Breth. Gary

July 9, 2011. 2.7C ain't warm, lemme tellya. I heard the breakfast announcer on local radio this morning say if you're not outta bed yet, don't bother. Hehe. We're headed for 16C today which ain't too flash but at least it'll be bright and sunny.

Now here's a short tribute to a bloke who made the whole world laugh without saying a word, Charlie Chaplain.

JustinO is posting more stuff about relationships... the dos and donts. It gets terribly complicated and I wonder if people underestimate the true value of inflatable dolls. Meanwhile, staying single gets my vote. I can do without all the complications involved in relationships. Many years ago, I remember reading about the owner of Resch's Brewery in Sydney. He was a very wealthy man but he regularly dined alone at the old Australia Hotel restaurant. At the time, I thought it was rather strange that such a man should choose to be alone, but now I too have no qualms about being alone in a cinema or a restaurant or wherever else. Some people feel terribly inadequate being by themselves, as if they'll be judged friendless and undesirable.

On the other hand, I also remember reading about Dean Martin who apparently got somewhat bitter and twisted in his old age and was often seen dining alone and feeling miserable. But his reasons were different to mine. I'm simply content with my own company. With or without, it's no biggie.

Have you read the latest Borowitz report on Murdoch, and the shutting down of News of the World? That Borowitz dude is a hoot.

It's bloody cold in the house so I grabbed DB's keys and sat for a while in my "sun room". Mmmm, lovely and toasty. It was so nice, I nodded off and had a snooze. Slowly but surely, DB is becoming more "friendly", if ya know what I mean. Like I belong there.

Beeb time: Celebrations erupt on the streets of South Sudan as it becomes the world's newest nation - the climax of a process made possible by a 2005 peace deal with the north. Welcome to the world. Former US First Lady Betty Ford, the widow of former President Gerald Ford and founder of a renowned rehabilitation centre, dies at the age of 93. Read Betty's obituary here. The space shuttle Atlantis launches from Florida on a 12-day mission, marking the beginning of the end for the space shuttle era. Not only flying into space but also flying into history. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived in Los Angeles as they continue their first official overseas trip as a married couple. "They are the most genuine, down-to-earth people I have ever met," said Neil Stiles, the president of Variety magazine group who hosted the technology event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Hmmm, just a few days after July 4 hehe. Adolf Hitler's hometown in Austria has revoked the Nazi leader's honorary citizenship - even if he never may have been given it. The council in Braunau am Inn decided to strip Hitler of any honour he may have received and which did not expire automatically after his death in 1945. The only thing that asshole and his supporters deserve is utter condemnation. Sex gives worms the power to fight off parasites, report researchers this week in the journal Science. Worms forced to reproduce asexually succumbed to a nasty bacterial infection and died. The researchers say the results are the most convincing evidence to date for a key theory in evolutionary biology. The theory holds that sex evolved because it lets organisms reshuffle their genes into new combinations to stay a step ahead of parasites. Sex has long troubled evolutionary biologists. Yep, that's why God created Eve (metaphorically speaking). A skull belonging to one of the largest "sea monsters" ever unearthed is being unveiled to the public. The beast, which is called a pliosaur, has been described as the most fearsome predator the Earth has seen. Palaeontologist Richard Forrest said: "This is an iconic specimen - one of the most exciting we have seen in years. It was probably the most fearsome predator that ever lived. Standing in front of the skull you can imagine this enormous beast staring straight back at you, fixing you with its binocular vision, and attacking. Just thinking about it raises the hairs on the back of your neck." Estimates from scientists, based on the 2.4m-long skull, suggest that the predator would have measured between 15-18m from tip to tail. God obviously got a bit carried away during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods

Actually, I can understand why God got a bit carried away during the creation process. He'd been sitting around for several billion years twiddling his thumbs (assuming he has thumbs), with nothing to do. So you can't blame him for getting a tad adventurous when he decided to create Earth and all its living creatures. He must have been having a wonderful time, like a kid with a bunch of new toys. Wheeeeee!

But back to the two sexes thing and the "reshuffling" of genes. I've watched nature programs on telly and noted that the dominant males in a group of animals do all the bonking, while the lesser males look on forlornly in hope. Females are also very selective about who gets to bonk them and who gets the flick. I figure it's Nature's way of making sure that only the best genes are passed on to the next generation. If all creatures procreated asexually, without a partner, there'd be no competition and the quality of genes might suffer as a result. What would be the point of evolution?

Oops! I got involved in other things and forgot that I hadn't finished or uploaded this page. Thilly moi! Better do it now. It's old age ya know. Gary

July 8, 2011. In the US, 'father' doesn't rhyme with 'rather', but in Oz it does even though we drop the 'er' in favor of 'ah'. However, in Oz 'rather' doesn't rhyme with 'gather'. How do you make sense of all that? Maybe you're not supposed to. I often think of how American eyes read these words with an American accent even though they're written by an Australian. Hehe. Noworriesmateshe'llberight.

Anyway, if the Poms can understand all those different dialects within a relatively small country, with the Scots and Irish thrown in for good measure, then Aussies, Yanks, Kiwis and Safricans shouldn't have a problem. However, when you get Greeks trying to speak Aussie, you get Con the Fruiterer.

Con is actually Aussie actor/comedian Mark Mitchell who was so intrigued by his local Greek fruiterer that he copied him and turned him into a wonderful character, known and loved by millions of Australians. "Bewdiful!" Mitchell, as himself, speaks with a cultured, slightly English accent.

Here's Con again with a blooper.

I was too lazy to do the shopping yesterday so I gotta do it today. Bleh. So let's do the Beeb: This Sunday's edition of the News of the World will be its last, News International chairman James Murdoch has said, after days of increasingly damaging allegations against the paper. The 168-year-old tabloid is accused of hacking into the mobile phones of crime victims, celebrities and politicians. On Thursday, the Met Police said it was seeking to contact 4,000 possible targets named in seized documents. Its editor Colin Myler said it was "the saddest day of my professional career". He added that "nothing should diminish everything this great newspaper has achieved". The News of the World, which sells about 2.8million copies a week, is famed for its celebrity scoops and sex scandals, earning it the nickname, the News of the Screws. Nuff said. Syria has accused the US of "interfering" in its affairs after the US ambassador to the country travelled to the flashpoint city of Hama. The Syrian foreign ministry said the visit by Robert Ford was "obvious proof" of US involvement in continuing protests in the country. Earlier, the US State Department said Mr Ford's visit was to show solidarity with protesters. So what's wrong with interfering? The US and its allies wouldn't bother to interfere if there was nothing worth interfering in. Nasa enters the final stages of preparation for its last-ever shuttle mission, but the Florida weather looks likely to delay the Atlantis orbiter's launch. History is a bottomless pitt that can absorb everything that comes its way. Click here for an article about 20 highlights from the Shuttle's 30-year history. Surgeons in Sweden have carried out the world's first synthetic organ transplant. Scientists in London created an artificial windpipe which was then coated in stem cells from the patient. Crucially, the technique does not need a donor, and there is no risk of the organ being rejected. The surgeons stress a windpipe can also be made within days. The 36-year-old cancer patient is doing well a month after the operation. Ah ha! I like the sound of that... that's what I call progress. Plastic bits. 

Who's George? I dunno. But he wrote: Thanks for being you. May God Bless You, George Well, George, I'm not too sure God likes me all that much. And secondly, I don't have a problem being me. I just wake up in the morning and whammo, there I am. Hmmm. I wonder what prompted George to write that? Green Room? MrB? Waffle? He didn't say. But I appreciate the sentiment. Thank you, George.

NC Art sent me some stuff about a new Safrican airline. Not sure if he's pulling my leg or not, but it was a bit long for Waffle so I put together a new Journal page which you can check out here, together with an album of the pics.

Shopping's done, and my little chat with Averil is done. She thinks I'm a bit of a worry but she talks to me anyway. And now ladies and genitals, the sun hath set and it's time for me to attend to my culinary duties to feed... THEM. Gary

July 7, 2011. Windy again, but not too bad compared to Sydney where it's blowing like crazy, so Lindsay tells me. He heard it on the radio news. He just arrived back from the local bank after withdrawing his and Sue's share of the rent/grocery money. Meanwhile, I paid all the bills on line and watched my numbers tumble hehe. Don't ask me how long it's gonna take to save the dough needed to bring Das Busse up to scratch. It'll take as long as it takes, and that's it.

Speaking of slow, now I understand why blue-tongue lizards eat snails. Snails are not quick, and neither is a blue-tongue. If you studied that pic of the bluey in my laundry the other day, you'll have noticed how small his legs are compared to the rest of his body. Frill-necks, by comparison, get up on their hind legs and run like buggery. A most comical sight. There'll be no shortage of those little critters on the Odyssey, that's for sure. Or goannas and lace monitors. You gotta be careful of those monitors. If they mistake you for a tree, they can get a little too close up and personal for my liking.

NC Art wrote: Parents and teachers used to tie the left hand of left-handed kids to force conformity with the right-handed majority. It screwed up a lot of kids and caused psychological quirks that were worse than left-handed scribbling. But hey, we just gotta do something about social misfits!

That's what they did to my mom. She was a natural lefty made to write right-handed. I think it explains a bit about my mom's quirkiness. Then again maybe she would have been quirky anyway. But my younger bro and I, who are natural lefties, were left to our own natural devices. Obama is a lefty, and so is Tony Abbott, leader of the opposition in Oz. Leonardo da Vinci was a lefty and could write backwards (as I can) from right to left. If you scroll down a bit on this page, you'll see a list of famous lefties.

All this business about conforming to the "norm" totally pissed me off at school. It was a Catholic De La Salle brothers school. We the students all had to look the same. Yes sir, no sir, three bags full. Funny about the brothers though. They wore frocks. Hehe. The worry is that kids are like clay, and can be molded and shaped to suit the whims of the shapers. However, I was one of those kids that refused to be molded and shaped. It frustrated the hell outta my teachers and parents but that was their problem. Later, it would become a similar problem for my bosses hehe. Oh well... By the same token, I can't say that being stubborn and independent has done me much good.

Beeb time: Relatives of dead UK soldiers are warned their phones may have been hacked by an investigator for the tabloid newspaper News of the World, the Daily Telegraph reports. Is there a difference between digging up dirt and legitimate reporting? I dunno. The chief prosecutor in the attempted rape trial of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn rejects calls to stand down amid claims he leaked information that damaged his own case. If it's true that his case has been damaged, then it wasn't much of a case to begin with. A US appeals court orders an immediate end to a ban on gay men and women serving openly in the military, while new rules are being drafted. I can't wait to see the new uniforms. Facebook announces a partnership with Skype to add a video chat service to the social networking site, a week after Google launched a similar feature. I wonder how that might have affected my relationship with Cody. Hmmm. I'm not sure. China has blocked internet references to retired leader Jiang Zemin after rumours circulated that he had died. Jiang also means river and internet searches for that word have returned a warning the search is illegal. Rumours that 84-year-old Jiang Zemin was dead or dying resurfaced after he failed to appear at a key Communist Party event on Friday. The censorship has prompted people to create cryptic postings about the man who led China for a dozen years. One of these days the Chinese Communist Party is gonna realize it ain't smart enough to outsmart the average Joe. After all, there are 1.3 billion average Joes. A talented chimpanzee called Panzee can recognise distorted and incomplete words spoken by a computer, scientists have discovered. That suggests that apes may be more capable of perceiving spoken sounds than previously thought, and that the common ancestor of humans and chimps may also have had this ability. It also refutes the idea that humans have brains uniquely adapted to process speech, say the scientists who have published their findings in the journal Current Biology. Panzee was raised from 8 days old, by humans, and was spoken to and treated as if she were human. At the same time, she was taught to use symbols called lexigrams to communicate. "This has resulted in Panzee showing proficiency in understanding approximately 130 English words," researcher Lisa Heimbauer told BBC Nature. Wow, she's even smarter than some of my neighbors! A German soldier has turned in safe-deposit boxes containing more than 1m euros ($1.43m; £890,000), two days after finding them, German media say. The soldier found the boxes beside a motorway exit near the Bavarian town of Bad Kissingen on Monday. The authorities had been searching urgently for the cases after they fell off a lorry transporting cash. The soldier handed them in to police, who have yet to decide if he should face criminal charges, reports say. Regional senior prosecutor Rainer Vogt told the DAPD news agency it was not clear what the man's intention was in keeping the safe-deposit boxes for two days before going to the police. I can readily empathize with his reluctance to declare the find right away hehe. Oh dear, what a dilemma. The Hamas government in Gaza has begun enforcing a law introduced last year banning men from cutting women's hair. Until now, the law had not been enforced, but this week at least one male hairdresser in Gaza was arrested. Male hairdressers for women are regarded by many Muslims as against Islamic tradition. Hello? Is anyone home? Australia has lifted a suspension on live-cattle exports to Indonesia, put in place over concerns about cruelty. Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said he was satisfied that the animals would not be mistreated. Australia suspended the trade a month ago when a TV documentary showed steers being whipped, beaten and slashed repeatedly in Indonesian abattoirs. And then, after the suspension, tens of thousands of cattle were stranded in holding pens and Aussie farmers started going broke. Oops. I think it might be a good idea to export some of our politicians to Indonesia. 

It was an over-reaction. The offending abattoirs were a handful. The vast majority were abiding by the rules. It's good that the offending abattoirs have been brought into line, but suspending ALL live cattle exports was a mistake that not only upset the Indonesians, but also Aussie farmers who depend on exports for a living. Dumb politicians.

So what's it really like in the Aussie outback? Well, it can be a bit monotonous. I found parts 1 and 2 of Trip to the Gascoyne and Pilbara (in Western Oz) a bit boring but part 3 is pretty interesting.

Here's a clip that's more to my liking, except for the witchety grub. Ew! Actually, I should do a few vids on the Odyssey and not just stills and text.

Well, I've been buggerizing around looking at Youchewb camping vids for so long that time has slipped away and now I've gotta attend to kitchen duties. Dammit. Gary

July 6, 2011. Did you know over 70% of married men are gay? Yep, you can read about it in the Borowitz Report on Justin's blog.

Now here's an exclusive. I hope this doesn't fall into Nazi hands because they might steal the technology or, worse, identify the people who bombed the hell outta Berlin. The bloke on the far left, bottom row, is none other than NC Art, who features regularly on the Waffle Page. He's 85 now. The pic was taken during WWII in London where Art and his B24 bomber crew were stationed. Check out the bomber jackets, which became a fashion item after the war. That big thing in the upper right-hand corner is not a fan to keep the guys cool, by the way. That's one of the four gizmos that helped get the B24 off the ground.

When I see Art in a pic like that, I can't help thinking that, at the time, he had no idea he would live to see a black president, or be sending email to bloke in Oz. Mind you, in those days I didn't either. I was born in 1944 about the time that pic was taken. I have a neighbor just a few doors down the road who's 86 and she still walks into town twice a day to do her shopping and whatever. It's all in the genes ya know. And the Vegemite.

Back then, as young Art squatted below the wings of that B24, he had no idea that 60 years later, February 17, 2005 to be precise, he would write the following:

Near the mid-point of the twentieth century pockets of wooded rough country survived in Western York County. Surely a few remain along with sturdy, genial and fiercely independent folks who chose habitats there. I hope so.

Using genial as a descriptive has limitations. Outsiders were not readily invited for tea and biscuits. Those who passed a few tests such as having no official government credentials were subjected to another of sorts. A “revenooer” in disguise could not belt down half a jelly jar of raw corn likker without disgracing himself–or even making orphans of his children. Good ole boys could drain a jar of this juice without choking or even burping. Good for lighting fires with wet wood too.

In the early 1950s the patriarch of such a clan was called to join his creator. Preachers and undertakers assisted the family in arranging suitable church services and interment. In all of this, two of the older sons were not consulted because they could not be found. Speculation had it that these lads were hosting a wake, properly at a still known to few. This still was ready for a first run of heavy proof stuff which had to be jugged for waiting customers. Paw had a good business head and so did his boys.

After collecting the cash the fellows stumbled out of the woods to find Paw had been hauled to a church and lots of people were there and prepared to weep on cue. The boys objected on grounds they did not bother to explain. 

They simply walked in and announced that Paw would not be buried today. The word spread to a sheriff’s deputy detailed to lead the hearse to the cemetery. He was met at the church by a pair of 12-gauge shotguns and decided to call for instructions. Backups were dispatched to settle everyone down. They wisely called for reinforcement.

The boys had only one message, “Ain’t gonna bury Paw today.”

Paw was interred that day, several hours late, and after a dozen deputies convinced the boys of their superior fire power and hauled them to the county jail. Mourners had been escaping as the supper hour drew near, so most were safe home eating fatback and collard greens. Kids need their nourishment.

Newspaper stories gave a fair account. Street stories filled in many exciting details. I don’t recall charges being filed or any great stills smashed up. Let snoozing hounds snooze, maybe. Sharon was the dateline of the local rag’s story, but the locale was not identified. My guess is an area well known to my father, whose home place was not far west of it. He often referred to “the coaling ground” in a tone which seemed to mean rough, lawless and dangerous. 

“Coalin” was the way Dad pronounced it. Whether there were outcrops of coal there or if it is a colloquialism for “killing ground” I don’t know. But it fits.

And Art reckons I know how to write.

BTW, Ohio Jace commented yesterday on how we Aussies run our words together: I got an example during one of the recent Motocross races. The only words I understood was great time and the guy talked for over 15 seconds. Two or three Aussies race and he was here visiting, I think. We have many bad speakers here too. Just listening can drive an English teacher crazy. Every sentence contains "you know," "like," sometimes several times and they have to begin a sentence with "I mean". Sometimes all three are used in one sentence. I think "you know" was started by blacks and "like" by teen girls in LA. Not sure about "I mean". And that's only half of it.

Yeah, we had a PM in the '70s, Malcolm Fraser, who was forever saying "you know". Hehe. But I've noticed that the new crop of Aussie actors on telly have not been trained in diction. They mumble, and I have no idea what they're talking about. The same can be said for the new crop of American actors as well, except that Americans tend to speak more slowly so at least you have time to figure out what the hell it is they're saying. As a radio announcer, I used to practice my diction exercises regularly. On radio, listeners can't re-read the previous sentence. What is said needs to be said clearly the first time. Once it's gone, it's gone.

Speaking of gone, I found a couple of vids on Youchewb this morning. One is a compilation of film from the 40s through to the 70s of life in Oz. Yes, I remember it well. The other vid that I found fascinating was a promotional film about the change from British pounds, shillings and pence to decimal currency in Oz. I remember my first pay packet (no electronic bank transfer back then) in dollars and cents. I was 21 then.

Beeb time: The credit ratings agency Moody's downgrades Portugal's debt to junk status saying there is a growing risk it will need another bail-out. Not selling enough port. Portuguese port is wonderful stuff (if you can handle the hangovers). About 200 people are feared to have drowned in the Red Sea as a boat carrying migrants to Saudi Arabia sinks off the Sudanese coast, Sudan media say. Desperate people do desperate things. I saw a report on telly last night about asylum seekers who accept the prospect of drowning at sea. They figure they're as good as dead anyway. Amnesty calls for an international investigation into the Syrian violence, accusing the regime of crimes against humanity against protesters. It's very simple. When a regime denies protesters the right to protest, it is nothing more than a dictatorship. Malnutrition among children fleeing Somalia's drought could lead to a "tragedy of unimaginable proportions", the UN refugee head says. Unimaginable if you're a westerner like me sitting down to three meals a day and taking it for granted. It's time to share the wealth and care for the underprivileged, dear Breth. A few dollars from each of us can make all the difference. US President Obama calls bipartisan lawmakers to the White House for talks on raising the country's debt ceiling, as a deadline for action looms. I've been raising mine for years! India's health minister has sparked a furious row over comments in which he described homosexuality as a "disease". Ghulam Nabi Azad told a conference on HIV/Aids that gay sex was "unnatural". Gay sex was decriminalised in the country in a landmark judgement in 2009 but anti-homosexual discrimination remains widespread. I'll tell you what the disease is: it's called homophobia. All phobias, without exception, are irrational. Scientists in Australia have found the skeleton of a "giant wombat" which lived some two million years ago. The plant-eating marsupial would have been the size of a four-wheel drive car and weighed three tonnes, experts say. Its bones were found on a farm in north-eastern Australia's Queensland state. The animal was widespread across Australia when the first indigenous people arrived about 50,000 years ago. Wombats are still here but much smaller. They're kinda cuddly these days. Mercedes-Benz has reported its best half-year sales on record, thanks in large part to growing demand in emerging economies, particularly China. The German luxury carmaker said it had sold 610,531 passenger cars over the first six months of the year, a rise of almost 10% on a year earlier. Sales in China rose by more than 50% while sales in Russia were up by more than 70%. You've gotta hand it to the Germans... they sure know how to build a good car. 

I've owned 2 British Morrises and a British Wolseley, 5 VWs (3 Beetles, a Fastback and a Kombi), 1 Mercedes, 5 Aussie Valiants, 2 Aussie Holdens, 1 Nissan and 1 Toyota, and although I think they're all good cars I do have a special soft spot for the old Merc. Don't remember his name but the previous owner was a German guy who worked for the German embassy in Canberra. He probably wouldn't have been seen dead driving a Holden. Hehe.

Last night I was tempted to make up the bed in Das Busse and sleep there just for a "trial run" but I didn't. I probably will one of these days but it's winter ya know. Gets a bit chilly overnight and in the mornings. But I did sit in DB for a while this afternoon. It's a blue sky day with the sun shining but there's a cold wind blowing. Nonetheless, DB is parked in such a way that the wind bypasses the open sliding door, and the sun warms up the interior. It's lovely and cosy in there. I call it my sun room.

Every time I sit in there I try to imagine what it will be like on the Odyssey, being confined to such a small space compared to what I have now. But the more often I sit in there, the more comfortable I become with the idea of living in DB. There will be many sacrifices, of course, but there will be far more gains - I think. Hehe. You can't change the view from your window every other day if your house is anchored to the ground. Similarly, you can't change your neighbors every other day. I think I should call myself the reluctant adventurer. The only valid reason I can think of for going ahead with the Odyssey is this: what the fuck am I gonna do with the rest of my life if I don't? Shuddup, Richie.

I was 63 when I first got the idea for the Odyssey. Four years later I'm still here in Taree. "Gary's got a million ideas but none of them work." Hmmm. Well, I guess we'll have to wait and see about that.

I phoned my mobile techie today to see if he'd forgotten about my external hard drive. He took it away last time he was here because the thing was doing something weird. No, he hasn't forgotten about it. He was in the process of copying all the data to his "interface" when I called. There's about 15 years of stuff on that drive... all the MrB stuff, the Cody and Steve stuff, the Green Room stuff and assorted whatever. So what about the life and times of G. Kelly prior to the mid '90s? That's almost all gone except for what's in my head, and a bunch of pics from the scrapbook. Fortunately, I put the Scrapbook together late last year and posted it on Aussie Odyssey, otherwise it would have continued to gather dust on the bookshelf.

So how important is it to document one's life? I dunno. I'll let others be the judge of mine. Meanwhile, I'm glad to have documented at least part of Cody's and Steve's. And I'll bet my left knacker that Art is glad he kept that pic of him and his crew and the B24.

Yes, it's that time again. Din dins. If I'd been a cook in the army they would have given me a dishonorable discharge for calling it din dins. Hehe. Gary

July 5, 2011. Lots of sore heads in the States, I imagine, after yesterday's party time.

Are you into meercats? Oregon Richie is. I can take them or leave them, but I must admit this is a pretty special pic. Speaking of which, here's one of Yosemite National Park that I found captivating. It's called One Perfect Day.

As I wrote Richie this morning, Red Bubble is a fascinating place for me because I get to see so many things through the eyes of many other beholders, everything from marvelous vistas to close-ups of decaying leaves. Photography does that ya know... it forces you to notice things that might otherwise go unnoticed, and unrecorded. Most photographers on RB are not famous... they're not your Attenboroughs or whoever, they're just ordinary people who are interested in a variety of things... bugs, architecture, landscapes, waterfalls, portraiture, everyday happenings, street photography, steam trains, ruins, boats, you name it. It's wonderful. Come to think of it, photography is about one of the great secrets of happiness... sharing.

Okies, here's something I've been trying to get right for a while now. It wasn't easy.

Meanwhile, NC Art sent this stuff... "You gotta love the South":


The owner of a golf course was confused about paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help. He called her into his office and said, 'You graduated from the   University of   Tennessee and I need some help. If I were to give you $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?' The secretary thought a moment, and then replied, 'Everything but my earrings.'


A group of Alabama friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day. That night, one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the weight of an eight-point buck. 'Where's Henry?' the others asked. 'Henry had a stroke of some kind. He's a couple of miles back up the trail,' the successful hunter replied. 'You left Henry laying out there and carried the deer back?' they inquired. 'A tough call,' nodded the hunter. 'But I figured no one is going to steal Henry!' 


The Sheriff pulled up next to the guy unloading garbage out of his pick-up into the ditch. The Sheriff asked, 'Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch? Don't you see that sign right over your head'. 'Yep', he replied. 'That's why I dumpin it here, cause it says 'Fine For Dumping Garbage'.


A senior at LSU was overheard saying... 'When the end of the world comes, I hope to be in Louisiana .' When asked why, he replied he'd rather be in   Louisiana because everything happens in Louisiana 20 years later than in the rest of the civilized world.. 


The young man from Mississippi came running into the store and said to his buddy, 'Bubba, somebody just stole your pickup truck from the parking lot!' Bubba replied, 'Did you see who it was?' The young man answered, 'I couldn't tell, but I got his license number.'


A Georgia State trooper pulled over a pickup on I- 75. The trooper asked, 'Got any I.D.?' The driver replied, 'Bout whut?'

North Carolina 

A man in North Carolina had a flat tire, pulled off on the side of the road, and proceeded to put a bouquet of flowers in front of the car and one behind it. Then he got back in the car to wait. A passerby studied the scene as he drove by and was so curious he turned around and went back. He asked the fellow what the problem was.. The man replied, 'I have a flat tire.' The passerby asked, 'But what's with the flowers?' The man responded, 'When you break down they tell you to put flares in the front and flares in the back.  Hey, it don't make no sense to me neither.'

And this from South Carolina

'You can say what you want about the South, but I ain't never heard of anyone wanting to retire to the North

Beeb time: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez addresses cheering crowds in Caracas after having a cancerous tumour removed in Cuba. I'm wondering if he brought it home in a bottle. French writer Tristane Banon is to file a complaint for attempted rape against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, her lawyer says. Ms Banon accuses Mr Strauss-Kahn of trying to assault her as she tried to interview him in a Paris flat in 2003. Mr Strauss-Kahn said he would sue Ms Banon for making false statements. He was recently freed from house arrest in New York in a separate alleged case. He denies sexually assaulting a hotel maid in the city on 14 May. Oh dear... the Strauss-Kahn plot continues to thicken. More chickens coming home to roost. Tennis champion Novak Djokovic receives a rapturous welcome in his native Serbia, a day after winning the Wimbledon title for the first time. I'm not a tennis follower, but it's obvious that the win means a helluva lot to Serbia. Ex-Bosnian Serb army head Ratko Mladic is removed from a hearing at The Hague war crimes tribunal after continually interrupting the judge. Mladic is forgetting he's an ex. Bloody dickhead. A statue of former US President Ronald Reagan has been unveiled at a ceremony outside the American embassy in central London. The invited guests include former UK prime minister Baroness Thatcher - who was a close ally of Reagan when they were both in power in the 1980s. The 10-foot bronze statue was specially commissioned to "recognise Mr Reagan's contribution to ending the Cold War". A piece of the Berlin Wall will be installed in front of the plinth. The statue stands outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, opposite the statue of President Dwight Eisenhower. I guess the War of Independence was basically about kissing and making up hehe. A group of religious conservatives in Pakistan has condemned a recent event hosted by the US embassy in Islamabad in support of gay rights. The meeting was described as "cultural terrorism" in a statement issued by Pakistan's largest Islamic party, on behalf of various religious groups. "Such people are the curse of society and social garbage," the statement released by Jamaat-e-Islami read. "They don't deserve to be Muslim or Pakistani, and the support and protection announced by the US administration for them is the worst social and cultural terrorism against Pakistan," the statement, which was issued in Urdu, is quoted by the AP news agency as saying. On the other hand, gay people don't strap bombs to their bodies and murder innocent people. Harry Potter creator JK Rowling has parted company with her longtime literary agent Christopher Little, it has been announced. The millionaire author has worked with Mr Little since he found a publisher for her first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1996. Rowling said it had been a "painful decision" but "was not taken without good reason". Her books have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. Right... and now moving right along...

400 million, huh? Sheesh.

But back to the anti gay thing. Bishop Tutu during an interview with Craig Ferguson on the Late Late Show described homosexuality as an "aberration". In Nature, changes or deviations to and from the norm are not called aberrations. They're called a natural variation... a natural occurrence. Variations in Nature don't break any rules because there are no rules. Nature does whatever it likes. So why call homosexuality an "aberration"? I don't get it. Human beings are as much a part of Nature as everything else. Homosexuality occurs naturally. End of story.

Ohio Jace wrote, and he's not too thrilled with what the bureaucrats are doing to Ohioans. He says his state is for sale: Ohio is for sale! Want to buy a prison? There are five to choose from. How about a turnpike? It is 388 km long running east west across the upper portion of the state. It currently costs $15.00 USD to cross, but you can raise the fee to whatever. You can drill for oil and gas in state parks too.

Hehe. Well, I have to admit I've never thought about buying a prison or a turnpike. But fortunately for Jace, the neighbors (who are basically extended family) keep having babies, and they keep asking Jace to babysit. As he wrote his email, the latest arrival Ryan was sleeping on his lap. Ryan is now a whole month old. A whole month? Can you imagine anyone being a month old? One month? Honestly, I don't know what Jace would do with himself if he didn't have kids to take care of, and diapers to change. He loves them all, even oldies like Sean who's early 20s now.

All the Ohio kids are into mud and ATVs and crazy bikes and all that lunatic stuff, including Jace's great nephew. My great nephew is racing motocross for the first time this year. He has a camera atop his helmet and records every race, some of which, he has posted on youtube. If you are interested check him out at 123nasutus. He just turned 13 and changed division mid season, and has risen from 42nd to 14th.

Oregon Richie loves motorcycles too... but not motocross. He's into more sedate forms of riding, and spent today riding his Honda 599 over the Old McKenzie Pass. Maybe he should fit a camera to his helmet as well. Richie is also a licensed riding instructor and conducts classes once or twice a month.

And me? Yeah... well... I'm still into pedal power (when I've got the energy). And now it's off to the kitchen! Gary

July 4, 2011. Yes, folks, it's that time of year when Americans celebrate Independence Day - the commemoration of the Declaration of Independence on this day in 1776. Twelve years later, on January 26, the Brits planted the Union Jack at Sydney Cove and claimed The Great South Land as a British colony, a nation destined to become famous for "owyagoinmatenoworries".

TX Greg wrote: You've mentioned a couple of times about having nightmares about the Odyssey. Reminded me of a very old scary Peter Fonda movie about a couple that takes off on vacation in a brand new motorhome.... And you thought you had worries!!! Oh, is that all? I thought Greg was gonna send something scary! No worries about zombies. They're a dime a dozen over here. It's the redbacks under the toilet seat I worry about. A bite from one of those little buggers and you're butchers for a week. (Butcher's hook = crook).

Oregon Richie wrote: I see absolutely no odd lunacy with the AO project in the least... and I personally would LOVE to do something like that. I very well may, too.  I don't know WHEN perhaps or even if I will be alone or not doing some of it, but... would be sensational.  And very exciting.  I think your comfort level will sink in quite nicely in no time at all, really.  Given my travel instincts I think I would have less patience than you have about it maybe.

No lunacy? He's gotta be kidding, right? On the other hand, if the Odyssey went smoothly with no dramas or unexpected upsets like flat tires or being attacked by a flock of galahs, I'd have nothing much to write about. Where's the adventure in predictability?

BTW, did I mention that a bird shat on one of my shirts hanging on the line yesterday? That's the trouble with leaving the washing on the line overnight. The early bird has no respect for a bloke's washing.

The pic of the busted Mercedes fender yesterday turned out alright. Not a helluva lotta damage but just enough to REALLY piss you off.

One of my fav photographers on Red Bubble is Mieke. She does fantastic work, such as this shot of her dog Banjo. Who else would have thought of such a creative background? She's a whizz. Mieke is actually more of a cat person than a dog person, but Banjo has won her heart, and it's easy to see why. Check out the eyebrows.

Speaking of dogs versus cats, here's a classic. I love it!

Beeb time: The sister of Thailand's exiled former prime minister promises to do her best in government after leading his supporters to a landslide election win. As long as they don't change the traditional Thai cuisine, I won't mind at all. Thai food is yummy. And I'm sure big bro is delighted with the result of his sister's triumph. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says his country recognises the rebel Transitional National Council as the true representative of the Libyan people. Gadaffi won't be too pleased about that. At least 10 people die in attacks blamed on Islamist militants in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, a week after a similar attack killed 25. 10 easy lessons in how to give Islam a bad name. What the hell do those people have between their ears? Ex-Bosnian Serb army leader Ratko Mladic will boycott a hearing at The Hague war crimes tribunal at which he is due to enter pleas, his lawyer says. What's the phrase? Delusions of grandeur. As families around the United States celebrate the nation's Independence Day, many will be counting the days to the return of their loved ones from military service in Afghanistan. Some 33,000 troops are expected to head home by September 2012. For those who leave the military world, there will be challenges ahead as they adjust to civilian life. The least fortunate may end up becoming homeless and many will battle the mental scars of war. Approximately one in five homeless adults in the US is a veteran. At first glance there is nothing remarkable about Parkaso Tomar, a hardy 70-something woman who has spent most of her life working in the fields and tending to cattle in a small north Indian village. Until of course she picks up a gun and fires a volley of shots, all bang on target. I'm not a gun fan by any stretch, but I've gotta hand it to this old granny. Australia has become the latest battleground in the ongoing global fight between Big Tobacco and government regulators. At issue are the Gillard government's proposals to banish corporate logos from packaging, demand that all brand names be printed in the same bland font and that packets come in olive green - the colour that smokers apparently detest the most. Australia already has some of the toughest anti-smoking measures in the world, with grotesque pictures of cancer tumours and gangrenous limbs printed on every packet, and cigarettes hidden in cabinets out of sight of consumers in shops. What a farce. This is the same government that refuses to ban tobacco as illegal. It's a pathetic contradiction from a pathetic government headed by a pathetic red-head. The authorities in Texas have warned United States citizens not to travel to a Mexican border town over the 4 July holiday weekend because of the threat posed by a major drugs cartel. The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement that it has "credible intelligence" that the Zetas cartel is specifically planning to target US citizens in Nuevo Laredo. The threats, it said, ranged from robberies to extortion and car-theft. Didn't the Mexican bandits back in the old wild west days call Americans gringos? Anyway, it seems the "wild" hasn't yet disappeared from the west. These days they steal cars instead of horses

Hang on a minute. What did I call that Indian sharp-shooter lady? An old granny? Bloody hell, I keep forgetting that I'll be 67 next month! Sheesh! I'm not all that far behind!

Hey, I don't know all that much about photography, but here's a shot that grabbed me... the Oriana docking in Sydney Harbor. I like the intersecting lines between the ship and the steps. I love the colors too. Great shot. 

And now, ladies and genitals, it's kitchen time. Prawn cutlets and battered potato scallops. And a squeeze of lemon. The tree's gone mental and I've got more lemons than I know what to do with. Okay... with which I know what to do. Don't get picky. Gary

July 3, 2011. What will this Waffle entry contain on this day in 2012? Or 2013? Who knows? I was thinking this morning about my laundry basket. Basket? Sorry, you can't come on the Odyssey. You don't fold away. You're too big and clumsy, and you take up too much room. See what I mean? There will be lots of changes and compromises... even regarding little things like laundry.

Do you believe in God? Do you not believe in God? Or is there a need to ask the question in the first place?

Well, well, well, outta the bloody blue up pops Steve Oliver! Steve who? He was my boss at the ABC in Kempsey back in '77. He found me on whohub (I can't even remember doing anything on whohub). Yes, good ol' Stevie boy. He hired me cos I had "charisma" hehe. I was only there for six months but the ratings went from 10% to 40%. Then I went back to Sydney and 2GB. Steve visited Sydney a month or two later and treated me to lunch at the nearby Spanish restaurant. That's when he told me about the ratings increase. If you scroll half way down this Scrapbook page, just below the pic of Kurt, you'll see the ABC Kempsey entry.

Ah yes, I remember whohub now.

Well, fancy that... ghosts from my past. Steve said he was surprised that I ended up back at Taree, which is part of the broadcast area covered by the ABC in Kempsey (now at Port Macquarie), but that it's a "lovely part of the world". Since doing the Scrapbook thing there have been quite a few old colleagues who have contacted me to reminisce about the old days. Steve is now living in Tasmania and runs a biz called Oliver Consulting, which specializes in advising people not to hire people like me.

Beeb time: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has rejected indictments of four of its members over the 2005 assassination of Lebanon's former PM, Rafiq Hariri. He also said no power would be able to arrest the "honourable brothers", who have not yet been named officially. The honorable brothers, huh? Yeah, right. Eurozone finance ministers agree to release a further 12bn euros of emergency aid to Greece to help it avoid bankruptcy. And all I want is a lousy campervan for a few grand. Libyan rebel leaders have welcomed an African Union offer to open talks with the government in Tripoli without the direct involvement of Muammar Gaddafi. The Transitional National Council said it was the first time the AU had recognised the people's aspirations for democracy and human rights in Libya. People's rights and democracy? Wot dat? Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi should stop issuing threats against Europeans and resign instead, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says. "Gaddafi should put the well-being and the interests of his own people first and he should step down from power," Mrs Clinton said in Spain. The well-being and interests of his own people? Wot dat? The Vatican has announced its finances have returned to profit - after three consecutive years in the red. Its report said the Holy See saw revenues of 245.2m euros (£222m; $356m) against expenses of 235.3m in 2010. But annual donations from churches worldwide - known as Peter's Pence - were down nearly $15m to $67.7. Wanna buy a ticket to Heaven? We've been selling them for a few thousand years and never received a single complaint. A Bugatti racing car bought for £60 in 1950 has been sold at auction for £430,000. The 1924 type 35 Bugatti was found by Jack Perkins, from Rugby, Warwickshire, at a Nottinghamshire aerodrome and restored to racing condition. The car raced at Indianapolis 500 in 1936 and the American National Championship races in 1938. I bought an old Holden for $1000 in 2002 and sold it in 2009 for $1850. Where did I go wrong? Okay, okay... it wasn't a Bugatti. 

Now that Das Busse is not parked under the rotary clothesline, I took the opportunity to raise the pop-top and take a good look. A bit of discoloration of the canvas, and a few small tears, but otherwise it's in reasonable nick. All the zippers work on the 3 windows, and the insect screens are fine except for a teensy hole in one. So I guess I can live with that. The raised pop-top certainly gives the living quarters a lot more space. Standing room is about 6' and allows you to move around freely in the kitchen and sitting/sleeping areas. It also improves ventilation. I imagine with the side awning erected and the rear hatch open, it would be quite comfortable and airy. A view like this would be an added advantage. Or maybe something like this.

Okay, so the laundry is folded and back in the basket. But when I went into the laundry itself, I saw a blue-tongue lizard in there. No wonder no one has pinched my soap powder or washing machine or whatever. This guy obviously guards the place with great diligence and chases away the crooks. He wasn't too impressed when I first disturbed him, so he disappeared into the cabinet under the wash tub. But then he emerged again and I told him not to worry, that I was only gonna take a pic and leave him alone again. He's not skinny so I gather there's no shortage of snails and other tasty snacks for him to feed on. He's about a foot long. Maybe a bit longer. Check him out.

Back from shopping and snaffling a few bargains. I also saw a nice Mercedes there in the parking lot with a dinged fender. Oops! I can imagine the driver's reaction to that little altercation at the moment of impact. Mercs ain't cheap to repair! Naturally, I took a pic. I haven't checked it out yet but if its any good I'll post it. 

So now there's a marinated chicken in the oven... garlic and chilli, with herbed spuds. That should do the trick. Nothing like a roast on a winter's night. And the laundry? It's still sitting in the basket. Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day, okay? I'll get around to sorting it out. LATER. Gary

July 2, 2011. Cockney rhyming slang was used by certain Brits as a sort of code to confuse the constabulary. They normally took a phrase whose last word rhymed with the word you wanted to say. For example, your missus was your cheese and kisses, but the rhyme would then be shortened to 'cheese' to further confuse the constabulary. If you were going up the road to the pub, you'd go up the frog and toad to the rubbity dub, which would be shortened to going up the frog to the rubbity. Hehe. Rhyming slang was also popular in Oz back in the 19th and early to mid 20th centuries but it's rarely heard these days. Here's a sermon given by the Rev Ronnie Barker in rhyming slang. You probably won't understand much of it but it's funny anyway.

When I checked my Youchewb page this morning to see what might be worth linking here, I found a musical vid posted by a very talented young Brit. He's quick witted, amiable and very clever. His song is called Dr. What.

While I was off line, NC Art wrote "blogless" to ask what was wrong. Hehe. Well, now he knows. I appreciate his missing my daily Waffle though. Art also sent a link to the latest Borowitz Report - how to save America from financial ruin the Republican way.

I started Das Busse yesterday and she kicked over first go, which ain't bad for an old bus that's been sitting there doing nothing for a couple of months. I don't have much faith in that old donk, though. I have a feeling she's gonna need a bit of work. I remember driving back from Tamworth back in early April and the engine sounded a bit rattly at high speed. Not sure if it's valves or tappets or what but something ain't right. She's also a bit wobbly when first started and takes a while to settle down. Oh well... a work in progress is a work in progress.

Justin also wrote about Green Room. He was up till 2am again the other night because he "couldn't put it down". But he's dreading getting to "IT", the end of the book and Cody's demise. You write very well... a gripping style, which also grabs at the heart-strings. I cry easily...cuz I feel deeply. Justin also comments on why publishers have shown no interest: I think likely publishers are afraid to take this on...afraid to get a rep, afraid to invest and not get the return.  Afraid of such a hot item maybe?

The message I keep getting from publishers is it's not their "genre". Bullshit. Their "genre" is anything that sells, and Gary Kelly is an unknown with no runs on the (score) board. I'm the 100 to 1 shot they're not willing to put their money on. The frustrating thing for me is that I keep getting feedback like Justin's. That's the second time he's stayed up till 2am reading the book. How many books can claim that? I remember one bloke who printed the whole thing out and then read it in one sitting. He couldn't put it down. Another bloke said he was devastated for weeks after reading of Cody's death.

Readers of MrB should note that Green Room is an abridged version of Cody's story. The names have been changed (Kyle, Brett, Graham and Stuart) and the location changed to Byron Bay on the far north coast of New South Wales, Oz. The sexual content has also been "modified". However, the story is essentially the same.

Well, the sky is blue and the sun is shining so I'm doing the laundry. How thrilling. I'll have to move Das Busse cos she's sitting under the rotary clothes line hehe. So much buggerizing around just to have clean clothes!

Beeb time: Hundreds of thousands of people reportedly stage fresh anti-government protests across Syria, as rights groups say at least 14 people were shot dead. Despite the government's attempts to quash this uprising, it's not gonna go away in a hurry. The people are determined to embrace democracy. Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been released from house arrest and had his $6m (£3.7m) cash bail and bond returned amid doubts over the credibility of his accuser. Prosecutors have agreed that Mr Strauss-Kahn should be freed "on his own recognisance", meaning he must simply promise to appear in court. He is accused of sexually assaulting a maid in a New York hotel on 14 May. The case is now close to collapse, US media reports say. In a letter submitted to the court prosecutors said that the maid gave false testimony to a grand jury, omitting the fact that she cleaned another room before alerting a supervisor to her claims of sexual assault. Well, there ya go... innocent until proved guilty, yes? Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi threatens to attack Europe in revenge for Nato's operations in Libya, in a message broadcast in Tripoli. All the more reason to get rid of the madman. The principality of Monaco celebrates the wedding of ruler Prince Albert to South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock. The stuff of fairy tales. A baboon has been reported roaming the streets and gardens of a town in the US state of New Jersey. Police have received more than a dozen reported sightings and warned Jackson residents who see it to stay inside. Have you seen the size of the teeth on those things? Delicate negotiations between the US and the Taliban must be allowed to flourish if peace in Afghanistan and the wider region is to be achieved, guest columnist Ahmed Rashid writes. The US and Nato have acknowledged that they cannot withdraw successfully from Afghanistan, or effect a transition to Afghan forces by 2014, without an end to the civil war and a political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban. I wouldn't trust the Taliban as far as I could throw it. But I guess compromise is better than war. Read the full article here. Veteran US singer Liza Minnelli has picked up the Icon prize at the Silver Clef awards in central London. Praising the organisers, music therapy charity Nordoff Robins, she said that when she felt "cranky" she "put some happy music on and it heals me up". Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney was named live act of the year while Annie Lennox was recognised for her outstanding contribution to UK music. Status Quo, meanwhile, picked up the lifetime achievement prize. Good ol' Liza... still pumping and grinding. A roundabout revolution is slowly sweeping the US. The land of the car, where the stop sign and traffic light have ruled for decades, has started to embrace the free-flowing British circular. A few moments after entering Carmel, it's clear why the city has been described as the Milton Keynes of the US. As the sat-nav loudly and regularly points out, there's often a roundabout up ahead. But unlike in the English town famous for them, driving into this pretty city on the outskirts of Indianapolis also involves passing several more under construction. I live opposite a roundabout. Before it was built I believe there was a serious accident at the normal intersection about once a week. In the ten years I've lived here, there have been less than a handful, and nothing serious.

Well, the day I decide to do the laundry a big black cloud decides to park itself over my house and spit rain. Not only that, there's no wind so it's just sitting there. God doesn't like me, ya know. And I can't say I blame him. At least it's not rain rain... just a few spits. But the rest of the sky is blue! If I were a bit further down the road I'd be fine! Anyway, I'll hang out my second load and bugger the rain.

I saw a thing on telly the other night about why dogs are more popular than cats. It's very simple. Dogs have eyebrows. Dogs have expressive faces whereas cats and other animals don't. Dogs have little forehead muscles that move the eyebrows up and down. Moreover, many dogs have eyebrows with different colored hair to the rest of their coat that defines them. Eyebrows are important. Even women who pluck them replace them with a pencil line. I guess dogs have an extra bonus too in that they wag their tail whereas cats don't. For a bit of a giggle, check out this dude.

By the way, the cloud has gone and the skies have cleared. I don't expect that most of the washing is dry though. Not warm enough. I'll check and maybe leave it on the line overnight. The rest of the week looks good... sunny and reasonably warm. Meanwhile, that's it for Satdee. I gotta hit the kitchen shortly and then watch a little telly. Not the most thrilling of days but also no dramas. Gary

July 1, 2011. Cody's birthday, 29 today. If he were alive, he'd be an experienced marine biologist probably running a business of his own. His friend Steve said that Cody's ambition was to get his degree and work somewhere in Florida before returning to Cape Town to establish his own business. I'm not sure what that would be... perhaps a marine park or aquarium, or some kind of research facility, or a combination of them all. Quite a contrast to being the neighborhood odd jobs boy or working in a surf shop.

Meanwhile, I've been off line since late afternoon yesterday. My ISP is not sure if it's my modem or a fault with the line, but they suspect it's the latter and have reported it to their carrier. Yesterday, lines were down in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, but at that stage New South Wales seemed okay except for three isolated incidents including mine. It's very frustrating, of course. I can't even get on line to sign Cody's guestbook. I've just gotta wait till my ISP or the local exchange contacts me. What a pain in the ass.

BTW, yesterday's Waffle (when I get a chance to post it) is here.

One of these days I'll get wireless broadband. Plug in the dooverlackey and Bob's yer uncle. It runs on the mobile phone network which is okay in populated areas but not in isolated areas such as between towns or in the outback. On the Odyssey, I expect to work off line most days and only post stuff when I'm in an area with good reception. For example, crossing the Nullarbor might mean I'm off line for a week or two depending on how many times I stop and camp overnight or even for a few days. The Camps Australia book lists all camp sites with mobile phone reception.

I just checked the map. Wow! That's one helluva big place over there! I note there are quite a lot of camping areas dotted along the Eyre Hwy (across the Nullarbor) but only a few with mobile reception. Western Oz is about as big as Victoria, NSW and QLD combined! It's gonna take forever to check out that joint. I have a feeling that even after a few years of traveling around, I won't have seen anywhere near all there is to be seen. I reckon that might take a couple of lifetimes. Hehe.

I think the most important aspect of the Odyssey won't be so much the places I visit but the people I meet. Most locations have been well documented... deserts, beaches, towns, cities, mountains yadda yadda... so my story will need to be different somehow. I don't want AO to be just another travel documentary. It will need to have strong human interest. 

Just phoned my ISP again. I thought I might try my old modem to see if it's a modem problem but it's not. According to Comcen it's a telco problem (Telstra in NSW and Optus in other states) with the old copper wire network. But the latest news is they hope to have the situation rectified in a couple of hours. It must be causing a major headache for a lot of people and businesses across Oz. Madam Gillard will no doubt capitalize on the old infrastructure breakdown to justify the billions being spent on the fiber optic rollout. I still think wireless is the way to go.

Well, it's almost 24 hours since I was last on line and the latest from my ISP is that "it's a work in progress". The telco won't or can't say when things will be back to normal. And guess what, folks? It's Friday! So all the telco workers will knock off at 5 this afternoon for the weekend.

4pm. Guess what? I'm back on line. I picked up the phone to call my local mobile techie to ask if anyone else in this area is having a prob but the line was dead. So I unplugged and re-plugged lots of phone things and tried again. Hmmm, dial tone. So I figure I happened to pick up the phone while Telstra was testing my line. Anyway, shortly thereafter, whammo, back on line. So here I am, about to update Aussie Odyssey. No Beeb today cos I've got a bit of catching up to do.

Lemme tellya, being disconnected is such a pain! You can't get email, you can't Google, you can't Wiki, you can't do anything! Yes, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it's good to be back. More Waffle tomorrow. Gary


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