Friday, March 31, 2023






There are stories of triumph over adversity due to the strength of the human spirit, of people being unwilling to surrender to physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual depths . . . Helen Keller, Robert Stroud (The Birdman of Alcatraz), Alfred Dreyfus (sentenced to Devil’s Island incarceration despite being innocent).

Such a man was also Salvador Avarenga (1975 - ), who spent 14 months adrift on a small boat in the Pacific Ocean beginning on November 17, 2012. Imagine it: day in, day out, no food or water except what you could obtain or produce, the endless ocean stretching out to the horizon, nothing to break the monotony of each day’s sameness and extreme solitude.

His story:

Alvarenga was born in El Salvador and left El Salvador in 2002 for Mexico, where he worked as a fisherman for four years. He has several brothers who live in the US.

On November 17, 2012, Alvarenga set out from the fishing village of Costa Azul, off the coast of Mexico. An experienced sailor and fisherman, he was intent on a 30-hour shift of deep-sea fishing, during which he hoped to catch sharks, marlins, and sailfish. His usual fishing mate was unable to join him, so he arranged instead to bring along the inexperienced 23-year-old Ezequiel Córdoba, with whom he had not previously spoken, and whose surname he did not know.

Their boat was a seven-meter (23-foot) topless fiberglass skiff equipped with a single outboard motor and a refrigerator-sized icebox for storing fish,

Shortly after embarking, their boat was blown off course by a storm that lasted five days, during which the motor and most of the portable electronics were damaged. Though they had caught nearly 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) of fresh fish, the pair were forced to dump it overboard to make the boat maneuverable in the bad weather. Alvarenga managed to call his boss on a two-way radio and request help before the radio's battery died. Having neither sails nor oars, no anchor, no running lights, and no other way to contact shore, the boat began to drift across the open ocean. Much of the fishing gear was also lost or damaged in the storm, leaving them with only a handful of basic supplies and little food.

The search party organised by Alvarenga's employer failed to find any trace of the missing men and gave up after two days because visibility was poor.

As days turned to weeks, Avarenga and Cordoba learned to scavenge their food from whatever sources presented themselves. Alvarenga managed to catch fish, turtles, jellyfish, and seabirds with his bare hands, and the pair occasionally salvaged bits of food and plastic refuse floating in the water. They collected drinking water from rainfall when possible, but more frequently were forced to drink turtle blood or their own urine. Alvarenga frequently dreamed about his favorite foods, as well as his parents.

According to Alvarenga, Córdoba lost all hope around four months into the voyage after becoming sick from the raw food, and eventually died from starvation by refusing to eat. Alvarenga has said that he contemplated suicide for four days after Córdoba died, but his Christian faith prevented him from doing so. He related that Córdoba made him promise not to eat his corpse after he died, so he kept it on the boat. He sometimes spoke to the corpse, and after six days, feared he was becoming insane, he threw it overboard.

Alvarenga reported that he saw numerous transoceanic container ships but was unable to solicit help.

He kept track of time by counting the phases of the moon. After counting his 15th lunar cycle, he spotted land: a tiny, desolate islet, which turned out to be a remote corner of the Marshall Islands. On January 30, 2014, he abandoned his boat and swam to shore, where he stumbled upon a beach house owned by a local couple. Alvarenga's journey had lasted 438 days.

The length of his voyage has been variously calculated as 8,900 to 10,800 km (5,500 to 6,700 miles).

Alvarenga's vital signs were all "good", with the exception of blood pressure, which was unusually low. Alvarenga had swollen ankles and struggled with walking. On February 6 the doctor treating him reported that his health had "gone downhill" since the day before and that he was on an IV drip to treat his dehydration.

The implausibility of someone surviving so long at sea on a small craft led a number of commentators to doubt Alvarenga's story, though investigators were able to confirm some of the basic details. Initial questioning of Alvarenga upon his arrival in Majuro and found him to be truthful. Experts supported the fact of the currents, timing, ocean conditions, ability to survive and that Alvarenga’s story was consistent with the truth. In April 2014, Alvarenga's lawyer told a press conference that he had passed a polygraph test while being asked about his voyage.

After 11 days in a hospital, Alvarenga was deemed healthy enough to return to El Salvador. However, he was diagnosed with anemia, had trouble sleeping and developed a fear of water. In 2015, he gave a series of interviews about his ordeal to the journalist Jonathan Franklin, who published his story as the book 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea.

Shortly after the release of Alvarenga's book, the family of Ezequiel Córdoba sued Alvarenga for $1,000,000, accusing him of cannibalizing their relative in order to survive, despite their pact that Córdoba would not be eaten after death. Alvarenga's lawyer has denied this accusation.

(I have not been able to find the outcome of the court case).

From Franklin's book:
Life on land has not been straightforward: for months, Alvarenga was still in shock. He had developed a deep fear of not only the ocean, but even the sight of water. He slept with the lights on and needed constant company. Soon after coming ashore, he appointed a lawyer to handle the media requests that came in from all over the world. He later changed representation, and his former lawyer filed a lawsuit demanding a million-dollar payout for an alleged breach of contract.

It wasn’t until a year later, when the fog of confusion subsided and he scanned the maps of his drift across the Pacific Ocean, that Alvarenga began to fathom his extraordinary journey. For 438 days, he lived on the edge of sanity. “I suffered hunger, thirst and an extreme loneliness, and didn’t take my life,” Alvarenga says. “You only get one chance to live – so appreciate it.”
Today, Alvarenga lives in El Salvador, in a small town surrounded by land, as far from the water as he can get.

Alvarenga gets a haircut after rescue in the Marshall Islands, Feb. 4, 2014.

José Salvador Alvarenga after a shave, a shower, and some much needed recovery time in the hospital.

Back home in El Salvador. For months he was in shock, afraid of the water

The family of castaway fisherman Jose Salvador Alvarenga -- (L-R) his sister Fatima Orellana, father Jose Ricardo, and mother Maria Julia Alvarenga -- pose for a picture in their fishing hometown of Ahuchapan February 4, 2014.

Thursday, March 30, 2023





News report March 30, 2023:

The sun has developed a massive “hole” 20 times larger than Earth, marking the second such occurrence in a week. The coronal hole is unleashing solar winds of 2.9 million km/h towards the Earth, which will hit our planet on Friday. Scientists are carefully monitoring the situation to assess if the winds will impact our planet’s magnetic field and satellites - with the potential for knock-on effects on the internet, mobile phone networks and GPS.

Not very funny, I agree, so let’s let some sunshine in and have some humour . . .

As usual though, a caution that there is some risque content ahead (although I do rather suspect that some of you look forward to the content more when there is a risque caution).



I don’t get why people are bothered by the sun while driving.

I just close my eyes and it’s not a problem.

A solar eclipse is when the moon is between the Earth and the Sun. A lunar eclipse is when the earth is between the Moon and the Sun. What’s it called when the sun is between the moon and the earth?

The apocalypse…

An elderly couple returned to a Mercedes dealership to find out the salesman had just sold the car they were interested in, to a beautiful lady. 

“I thought you said you would hold that car until we raised the $75, 000 asking price,” said the man. “Yet I just heard you close the deal for $65,000 to that lovely young lady over there. You insisted there could be no discounts on this model.” 

“Well, what can I tell you? She had the ready cash and just look at her. How could I resist?” replied the grinning salesman.

Just then the young woman approached the old folks and handed them the keys.

 “There you go,” she said. “I told you I could get this joker to drop the price.  See you later, grandpa.”

Goes to show…. Never mess with the elderly!


A lengthy item but it made me laugh again on re-reading it, and again on watching the video . . . 

Byter David H emailed me a video of Dustin Hoffman telling a story on the Graham Norton show when they were both a lot younger. The story is one that I had heard previously in a different setting but this version is better, plus it is delivered superbly by Hoffman, an excellent story teller.

Thanks, David.

At the beginning of the video Hoffman explains that he is keeping the celebrity names to do homage to the story. Those celebrities, for the benefit of younger readers, are:

Ringo Starr, one of the Beatles

Omar Sharif, actor and 1960s sex symbol

Brigitte Bardot, actress and 1960s sex symbol

Click on the following link to watch the video:

For those who prefer the written version . . .

A flea goes into a travel agency and says “I’ve been working so hard for the last few years, i really need a holiday.”

The travel agent asks “What kind of holiday are you in the market for?”

The flea says “i want to go somewhere bright and sunny, somewhere that i can just relax and enjoy myself, don’t want to worry about anything.”

The travel agent says “Okay” and starts flipping through his catalogue book. After some research, the travel agent announces proudly “Okay, i can give you one week in Nice, in Ringo Starr‘s hair.”

So off the flea goes.

After 4 days the flea comes back to the travel agent.

The travel agent asks “What are you doing back here? Aren’t you supposed to be on holiday?”

The flea says “Oh, that was an awful holiday! He spends all his time indoors, he’s always banging on the drums, he never goes out, it’s noisy and smelly. He’s always shaking his head from side to head, i got a terrible migraine! I just want a nice relaxing holiday, you know, out in the sun. i want to relax!”

So the travel agent picks up another catalogue and does some flipping through. Suddenly he announces “Okay, i can give you one week in Monte Carlo, in Omar Sharif‘s moustache.”

So off the flea goes.

After 4 days, the flea comes back to the travel agent.

The travel agent asks “You’re back so soon? What was wrong with that holiday?”

The flea says “That holiday was even worse! He spends all his time in the casino gambling. And what’s worse, he smokes so much, all the smoke went up into his moustache, i got burnt from a bit of ash and cinders, it was smelly and ugh! it was no good, no good! i just want to relax! i want sunshine and sand and blue skies!”

So the travel agent picks up another catalogue and does some research. After a long period, he finally announces “Okay, we’ve had a cancellation, and this is perfect for you. i can give you one week in St Tropez, in Brigitte Bardot‘s muff.”

So off the flea goes.

After 4 days, the flea returns to the travel agent.

“What!!” the travel agent exclaims, completely flabbergasted. “What are you doing here?! What was wrong with that holiday?!”

“Oh nothing!” replies the flea. “It was lovely, she’s so lovely. She just lays out all day long in the beautiful sand, on the beach, she soaks up a lot of sun, she had this radio next to her playing this delightfully relaxing music… I had a wonderful time there, it was the best holiday i’ve had.”

Puzzled, the travel agent asks “Well if it was so great, what are you doing back here so early?”

The flea replies “You tell me! After 3 days, I found myself back in Omar Sharif’s moustache.”


Okay, I will give you the alternative version, which was posted in Funny Friday on December 13, 2013 at:

A flea walking down the street met his friend, who he hadn’t seen in a while, coming in the opposite direction. The first flea says “Erik, what is the matter with you? You look so gaunt, haggard and tired.” Erik says “Leif, I live in a Viking’s beard. I’m always out in the cold and wind aboard ship on the North Sea. There’s ice and freezing temperatures, I’m always wet and if we’re not on the water we’re on land fighting and pillaging. How do you remain looking so sleek and fat?”

Leif replies “I live in a maiden’s crotch where it’s always comfortable and warm. You should find yourself a place like that, you wouldn’t know yourself after a couple of weeks.”

“I will,” said Erik.

A few months later Leif meets Erik again and is shocked that Erik looks even more gaunt and haggard than the last time. “What has happened?” he asks. “I thought you were going to find a nice warm spot in a female crotch.”

“I did,” replies Erik. “I found myself an attractive young woman and made my way there and went to sleep. I really needed that sleep, so warm, so relaxing. Then I woke up and I was back in the Viking’s beard.”



Byter Rob T sent me an email about a limerick that has previously been in Bytes but is definitely worth another airing.

Thanks Rob.

Rob's email:

Dear Otto,

As you enjoy Limericks, did you see this in respect of Boris Johnson lying in Parliament ? . . . 

Significantly, the unpardonable crime of Conservative ex-Secretary of State for War John Profumo (1963) was not that he was indiscreet and a potential security risk, but that he lied to the House of Commons in initially denying any relationship with Christine Keeler. Moreover, he lied stupidly, since he might have saved his dignity and his seat as an M.P. by admitting his misstep. As a limerick that made the rounds of Westminster last week had it:

"What on earth have you done?" said Christine,
"You have wrecked the whole party machine.
"To lie in the nude
"Is not at all rude,
"But to lie in the House is obscene."

With best regards,

Rob T

Bonus limerick:

A conductor, with a voice like a hatchet
Observed to a cellist from Datchet,
"You have 'twixt your thighs,
My dear, a great prize,
And yet you just sit there and scratch it!"



An atheist wakes up in Hell.

He looks around confused at the bright shining sun and the best beach party he's ever seen. People are singing and dancing, laughing and playing, splashing in the crystal water and drinking, just having the best time.

Shortly the devil walks up to him wearing shorts, hat, and raising a glass of champagne, welcoming him to Hell.

The atheist sputters, "But, but, but, where's the fire and brimstone and suffering and torture for all eternity?" The devil stops for a second, then grins. "Come with me," he said.

He leads the atheist to a giant wall stretching from horizon to horizon hundreds of metres in height with a little peephole at eye-level and gestures for the atheist to have a look.

Stunned, the atheist shudders at the sight of the infernal damnation, the wailing and gnashing of teeth, disgusting scenes of depravity and torment, enough to give Dante nightmares, on the other side.

"What is this?" the atheist stammered.

The devil shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know but the Christians seem to prefer it this way."



I once stayed up all night wondering where The Sun went.

Then it dawned on me.

Earth is the third planet from the sun.

By this logic, all countries are third world countries

My wife apologised, first time ever. . .

She said she was sorry she married me.


Wednesday, March 29, 2023




Hal Gye was chiefly an Australian illustrator of humorous and political cartoons that appeared in a number of journals and newspapers. He also wrote poetry and articles, most of which were collected and published towards the end of his life, and posthumously, under the pseudonym James Hackston.

The following poem was published in the Bulletin 12 December 1956.

In the manner of Lawson, it illustrates some of the cruelty and hardship of life outside the cities, especially in the bush and the outback., particularly in days gone by.

Our Corrugated-Iron Tank

- James Hackston

Our tank stood on a crazy stand,
Bare to the burning sky.
White-hot as glares the desert sand,
And dismal to the eye.
Its lid was like a rakish hat,
The tap bent all awry
And with a drip so constant that
It almost dripped when dry.

It was a most convenient tank
Wherein most things could fall;
Where snakes came from the bush and drank,
The rabbits used to call,
The mice committed suicide,
The gum-leaves sank to rest,
And in it possums dropped and died
And hornets made their nest.

But stark within my memory
I see it once again
When we looked at it anxiously
Days when we hoped for rain;
I hear the hollow sounds it made,
Like some prophetic drum,
As I tapped rung on rung, afraid
Of dreadful days to come.

When mother in despair would pray
As low the water sank;
Four rungs, three rungs, two rungs and, aye,
How miserly we drank;
And there was none for face or hands.
Waste was a wicked thing,
There in the baked and parching lands,
With hope our early spring.

Next came the fatal "One rung left!"
(How cruel words can be!)
As we all stood of joys bereft,
Dumb in our misery:
And then I tapped the tank in pain -
Those knells of drought and doom:
Our tank at last gone dry again,
Our home cast down in gloom.

But, oh, the joy that filled our hearts
When came the bounteous rain
And the drain-pipe sang in fits and starts
And filled the tank agin!
We felt as if we'd riches won,
That life again was sweet;
And, overjoyed then, everyone,
We even washed our feet!

Tuesday, March 28, 2023





Amelia Earhart receives what proved to be her last haircut in 1937:


The RMS Olympic, the Titanic’s sister ship, in wartime camouflage in 1915:


The mugshot of Tokyo Rose, 1946:


George W. Bush plays a little dirty rugby for Yale in 1966:


Harry Houdini exposes “spirit trickery” in 1925:


Washington-Hoover Airport which was demolished in 1941. This is where the Pentagon stands today:


1945, German POWs weep and sit in disgust as they watch footage shot at a German concentration camp:


The Golden Gate Bridge around 1935:


Arnold Schwarzenegger shows off to some elderly women in the 1970’s:


The Kennedy family leave the funeral of John F. Kennedy in 1963:


June 1915, Gallipoli: a Turkish snipersharpshooter, dressed as a tree, is captured by two Anzacs:


Two childhood friends unexpectedly reunite on opposite sides of a demonstration in 1972:


Union prisoners receive rations at Fort Sumter in 1864:


OJ Simpson carries the Olympic Torch in 1984. Nichole Brown can be seen on the left:


Monday, March 27, 2023




Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 – 2004) was a French humanist photographer considered a master of candid photography, and an early user of 35mm film. He pioneered the genre of street photography, and viewed photography as capturing a decisive moment.

Cartier-Bresson clarified the decisive moment philosophy in 1957 in an interview with the Washington Post:
"Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever."
These days, with photoshopping, digital manipulation, CGI etc, that is probably as extinct as dinosaurs. Even images taken on telephones can be easily manipulated.

I was, hwoever, reminded of the decisive moment by images sent to me by Steve M in an email headed Timing is Everything. 

Steve's pics . . .

Thanks Steve.

Here are some bonus extras . . .