Welcome to Breakfast in America

My photo journal is an eclectic mix of things; there’s no guiding theme or topic. It is whatever happens to catch my attention, what I’ve been thinking, doing, and whatever my current obsessions are. At the moment, they are clearing some of the backlog on my ‘honey-do’ list, backpacking and hammock camping.


  • The Gateway Arch, St Louis

    The gateway Arch, St Louis, Missouri. Copyright © 2009 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It really is an impressive structure, and I just can’t help myself taking pictures, it is constantly changing as the light varies and its sheer size is awesome.

    Just to give some idea of scale. Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower would fit comfortably under the arch with over 70 feet to spare.

  • Beautiful Decimation

    The impact of Japanese Beetles on a tree. Tinted monochrome image
    Beautiful Decimation. Copyright © 2009 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Japanese Beetle damage at Nathaniel Greene Park, Springfield

    We went for an evening walk in the park down on Scenic and noticed a couple of trees were looking odd. On getting closer we could see that all the leaves had been eaten away they were covered in Japanese Beetles that had eaten nearly all the leaves. They left just these skeleton outlines behind.

    Link: Japanese Beetle

  • Workbench Project

    Workbench Project.Copyright © 2009 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    When we bought the minivan it became obvious that the garage would need reorganizing as it is a very tight fit. It’s almost impossible to get at any tools while the van is in the garage. We’ve also got a lot of carpentry to be done so a workbench with easy access and one that I can mount my power tools on is needed.

    I’ve designed, what I hope will be a practical foldaway workbench. We’ll see. Now all I have to do is make it.

  • Cleaning out the garage

    Clearing out and cleaning the garage. Copyright © 2009 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Now we’ve got it clean we have to formulate plans for putting in the workshop and more storage.   

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  • Getzger Cat likes to ride in the car

    We don't have a nodding dog in our car, we have a nodding cat. His name is Getzger and he's very, very fat.

    We don’t have a nodding dog in our car, we have a nodding cat. His name is Getzger, and he’s very, very, fat.

    In fact he is so fat he looks like he has an udder.

    Taken on this afternoon’s school run.

    Gary and Getzger on the school run

    I’m not sure if I’ve trained Getzger to follow me to the car, or if he’s trained me to take him. Whichever, most mornings and afternoons he comes with me.

  • Meet my old friend Penfold

    Photograph of a Psion MX5
    Psion MX5. Copyright © 2009 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    When I finished work in the UK I had to hand back my Windoze PDA, so I was left wondering what to do for portable notes and a diary.

    I did some checking on the internet and found a guy who could not only fix my old PDA but make it better than new, with a more robust better-designed screen cable (I’ve already gone through two). Unfortunately, some problems with the repairs meant it wasn’t ready when I left the UK, so Robert brought it over for me.

    I wasn’t all surprised when I turned it on after three years of not being used, and it worked fine, but what did catch me out was on inserting my old memory card it all sprang into life just as it when the screen cable last broke. I wasn’t quite prepared for that sudden rush of memories.

    I’m now looking forward to becoming re-accustomed to some decent PDA software. I just hope it syncs with the latest version of Outlook.

  • Ginger and Gary’s Wedding day

    Mr. and Mrs. Copyright © 2009 Erica Turner, all rights reserved.

    At four pm on 20 February 2009 we got married. Below are a small sample of the 800-odd photographs we have of the day. Many thanks to Erica Turner for the super job she did in capturing our day for us.

    As this is a long post we’ve broken it up into more manageable chunks:

    Getting Ready

    The wedding ceremony

    Our wedding reception in Ebbets Field bar


    Jonathan’s homily

    This is what Jonathan said on our behalf during the wedding service.

    In our lives, we all have expectations as to how things are going to turn out. As we proceed through our days, we see our future planned out ahead of us and we trust that certain things are always going to be true.

    We know what we expect our career to be, how our dreams are going to unfold, and deep inside we all hope and pray to find a mate that completes us and makes us feel loved and understood. We are all looking for a soul mate… a best friend and partner…. whether we admit it or not.

    But life never really works out the way we expect.

    Gary and Ginger were going through the motions of their lives, separately, on different continents, in different and, as they found out, in many ways, in parallel worlds. One day these parallel lives crossed paths. And everything changed. You see, they knew instantly that they had found the fulfillment of that lifelong hope. Before they ever heard each others’ voices, they knew that they wanted to share their lives forever in some way or another. Today we have the pleasure of seeing the beginning of the fulfillment of that partnership as we gather together to witness the marriage of Gary and Ginger.

    That was the beautiful homily that Ginger and Gary wrote.

    I will add only a little.There is an interesting concept in both hard science and science fiction. It concerns parallel worlds. Physicists postulate that parallel worlds – or universes are implied by some of their important theories. And science fiction writers find it a useful tool for their characters to pop in and out and get from here to way, way out there with ease.

    The interesting parts, for the scientists and the fictional characters, are the convergences — the points and moments where the parallels cease and the real encounters begin.

    I have found that those encounters are usually unexpected.

    Now we may expect something, we may have hopes and dreams, but those convergences can exceed even our outlandish hopes. Think back to the time just before you two met. Could you possibly imagine the relationship that you have now? Could you possibly dream that you would be in love, and sitting in a church — Gary in a place called the Ozarks, and about to get married? God is fully aware of the parallel worlds in which we live. And it is God’s business to make the convergences real and effective for us — to bring people together in love. The old-fashioned term is ― grace. It works even on the new-fangled Internet. It worked for you.

    And we are privileged to witness God’s grace at work in your lives. The fact that you are together and your love for one another gives us real hope for the grace that each of us needs.

    Thank you for being open to God’s work in your lives. Thank you for inviting us into your love. To paraphrase Solomon, many waters — not even the wide waters of the Atlantic Ocean can quench love.


    Gary’s speech

    Welcome everyone. Before we start here are some domestic arrangements. Please feel free to order from one of the menus we have provided, if you choose to order off the standard menu you’re on your own! We have arranged a dessert, so make sure you leave plenty of room. However, if you don’t like cheesecake you are going to be out of luck. There is a tab at the bar, once that’s gone you’ll have to start buying us drinks. But please stay as long as you like. The facilities by the way, are just along the corridor.

    Maintaining the informality of our day, you’ll be pleased to hear we haven’t planned lots of speeches and toasts, but I would like to say a few words on behalf of the two of us before the festivities proper commence.

    Life is a journey driven by our dreams. Dreams are strange things, when we are young we have such wonderful dreams of how our lives will play out, everything is black and white, and everything is possible. Then the reality checks set in, and we find that rather than being black and white, life tends to be a grey blur. Our dreams get buried under responsibilities and day to day trivia. Then over time they get forgotten and lost.

    Ginger and I are lucky and have been able to rediscover our dreams. And one of those dreams was to be together. The journey toward that particular dream started some twenty months ago, it has been a journey of sharing and discovery. To get to today we’ve traveled the equivalent of twice around the planet, exchanged over three and a half thousand e-mails and at one point racked up what felt like the equivalent of the national debt of a small country in ‘phone bills. We’ve also had to battle bureaucracy, jump through endless hoops of red tape and we still have lots more hoops to dance through.

    In the beginning our dream was just that, a dream. Before we had spoken to one another we were best friends and we wanted to be together to share our friendship. Once we started talking we quickly fell in love.

    We decided we wanted to get married over a month before we first met in person, our friend Rebbie was partially responsible for that particular revelation. Ginger and Rebbie had a girls lunch out celebrating Ginger’s birthday, and when I spoke to Ginger she was, shall we say, a little the worse for wear. I’m not sure quite what I said, but Ginger retorted along the lines of ‘I won’t have a marriage like that.’ I of course being the mature responsible adult I am, retorted, ‘You said the M word, you said the M word…’ but we both agreed that that was exactly where we were headed, and where we wanted to be.

    Just over a month later, we met for the first time in the arrivals area of Springfield airport. I stopped to ask the security guard where to collect my bags, and as I stepped away I caught a glimpse of someone running towards me. Ginger nearly knocked me over. I suppose we just meant to have a hug and say hello, but the hug and tears quickly turned into a kiss, and within a few seconds of meeting we both knew for sure that this was it.

    We never wavered from our goal. Even when we began thinking of all the obstacles that had to be overcome. Even when we forgot how the other felt. Even when we faced the normal misunderstandings that every couple has. Even when we were falling asleep on the phone and trying to fit in a relationship into two busy lives six hours apart. We were committed to Us. And that meant diving head first into the unknown. We had so much to learn. About the process, and about each other.

    We’ve discovered that despite living on different continents we have surprisingly similar backgrounds, we discovered that we are almost identical; two sides of the same coin. We both think the same way, have the same interests and personality traits – for good and ill.

    As part of our preparation for our marriage we completed a questionnaire for Jonathan. I think even he was surprised, as he told us, that if he didn’t know better he would have thought that we cheated and just one person answered a lot of the questions. Of course we aren’t completely identical, we may have the same colour eyes, be the same height, and able to share shoes and gloves, but there are significant (and beyond the obvious differences) I’m organised while Ginger has lots of systems in place to try and be organised. I’m quietly stubborn, while Ginger is well, Ginger!

    So here we are celebrating the completion of one journey, which by and large we traveled apart, and the start of our new journey together as husband and wife. Our dream now is to have a happy and fulfilling life together, though as Ginger has observed, happily ever after still means you have to clean house and pick up after kids.

    The important thing is we have our dreams, and our message to you is don’t forget your dreams.

    Finally, on a personal note, I’d like to thank all those involved in making today a success, I would also like to thank my family and friends, those present and absent, for their support during what has been for all of us, a difficult journey at times. And to all of you, my new family and friends, thank you for your generous support and welcome.

    Thank you.

    Footnote:  The astute may have noticed that I stole a couple of paragraphs of the above from my work leaving speech. I’m sure I can be forgiven for plagiarizing some of my own words.

  • Chili’s

    Chili’s. Copyright © 2009 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I really like the bold red in this sign. The sign is very high up, to get the picture I had to setup the tripod on the hood of the car. Thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten here (2019).

  • Running Repairs: dispelling a common myth

    Running repairs: dispelling a common myth. Copyright © 2009 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    We use a soldering iron power control as a dimmer for some strings of fairy lights in our bedroom.

    Very poor soldering job – Very cheap and not so cheerful. No wonder it eventually failed. Copyright © 2009 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    After a recent furniture move it stopped working. The controller has been sat by my desk for a couple of weeks waiting for that ‘idle moment’ for me to take a look at it, this evening I couldn’t put my mind to any of the other things I’m supposed to be doing so I took the back off and had a look to see what was wrong. It took a couple of minutes to locate a dry joint which is the most likely cause of the problem. Now ironically, I have to buy a soldering iron to fix a soldering iron power control; the only soldering iron Ginger has is more suited to lead pipe work and leaded glass.

    While checking the circuit for problems I was able to dispel a common myth. The US mains voltage is not 110 volts and hasn’t been since the 1950s. It is 120 volts, as my trusty voltmeter attests.

  • Hornby O Gauge LNER Bramham Moor electric model railway engine

    Photograph of a Hornby LNER Bramham Moor
    Boyhood memories. Copyright © 2009 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    From what I can find on the Internet, this Hornby O Gauge LNER Bramham Moor electric model railway engine was manufactured sometime between 1936-1941. So it was well used by the time I got it around age 5.

    Unfortunately, it is showing the battle scars of many a boyhood train wreck. It is missing the lightbulb on the steam box, and the wheels on the front bogey are not correct, they should be spoked (like those on the tender). I guess the wheels we see here were ‘borrowed’ from another piece of rolling stock.

    Here’s a link to an article on this train – from a museum in Australia of all places. At the time of posting the article incorrectly states that the model is clockwork – which it obviously isn’t. Hopefully, when they get my email they might update their catalog. 🙂 Toy steam locomotive, Hornby No.2 Special Locomotive ‘LNER Bramham Moor 201’, 4-4-0 type, 0-gauge, metal, clockwork operated, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England, 1935-1939. You’ll also notice that the manufacturing dates don’t agree with others I’ve found online too. It’s hard to know which of the various sources are correct.