Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy new blogging environment

Having been bid a Happy New Year by my comrade in words, the Angry Exile, here's my entry on the blogging environment meme thingy. Working from right to left;
  • Scanner
  • Hunting goods catalogue
  • Work cap
  • Receipts
  • Corporate information packs
  • Visitors cards
  • 3 shelves
  • Legal and letter size brown envelopes
  • Letter size 75gsm paper
  • Empty T-shirt tin (Reads 'Multi-tasking male - experimental model only)
  • 2 out of date 2010 calendars
  • 30 assorted magazines
  • Webcam
  • 17" Desktop Screen
  • 2 PC speakers
  • Desktop tower unit
  • 4 port USB hub
  • The only extant copy of 'The Sky full of Stars' by John Morrow
  • Empty packing box for above
  • 'Age and Guile' by P J O'Rourke
  • 'Long dark tea time of the soul' by Douglas Adams
  • 'Brewing Quality Beers' by Byron Burch
  • 'Name of the Game' by Steve Schall
  • BCAA Maps for BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island
  • BCAA Guide books for; Western Canada and Alaska, Ontario, Atlantic Provinces and Quebec, Arkensas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, Also North Central.
  • Various local maps for BC, Ontario, Quebec Ctiy, Montreal, Victoria, Toronto
  • 2010 Backroad offroad Mapbook for Vancouver Island
  • 2 Baskets full of defunce pens and old receipts
  • USB Port drinks warmer
  • Rack of assorted paperwork
  • 18"x24" Magnetic Whiteboard with black pen
  • Bin
  • HP Inkjet Printer
  • 5 Gang power socket
  • Window
  • Map of Vancouver Island
  • Nautical Map of same
  • Guest bed 78"x50" with turned wood head and footboards
  • Mrs S's Desk with 24" screen, Mouse, Mouse pad, desk lamp, Microsoft Keyboard, 3 shelf unit with cordless phone handset, Magazines, 3 drawer plastic shelf unit, BC Certification
  • Toshiba L510 laptop
  • Jar of pens and pencils
  • 2 A5 ring bound Notebooks
  • Map of Canada
  • 2011 planner
  • Beige carpet
  • Large shredder
  • 3 small laptop bags
  • 8"x12"x6" cardboard box lined with white kitchen bin bag
  • Internal white painted door 78"x 36"
  • Mirrored closet door 78"x50" (Two panels)
  • Wooden swivel chair in dark pine
  • Wooden 'carver' style chair in light pine
That's it. Now I'm off for a large drink that is going to last clear through into 2011. TTFN.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Katla update 30th December


Daily visit to the Icelandic Met Office website earthquake page. Just observed this change in tremors from the subsurface burbling that has set in under the much vaunted Icelandic Volcano Katla over the past few months. From having settled into a routine of small scale tremors between 100m to 1Km below the surface, the tremor activity sank to 5km down. Does this mean the magma chamber is filling, draining, or in the fashion of a large coffee percolator, mean there is a surge of magma coming from below? Anyone got any ideas?

As usual, caveats about 'tremors on their own mean little' apply.

Bloggers soliloquy

To blog, or not to blog, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous falsehoods,
Or to take up words, and by opposing, defy them.
To stop, and speak no more, and by a waking silence to end
The headache, and the myriad WTF!'s That mind is heir to.
'Tis a consummation most devoutly to be wished.
To write, perchance make sense : ay, there's the phrase,
For in that slough of words what thoughts may come
When we have shuffled off some blogrolls end,
Must give us pause. There's some respect
That makes calamity of online life.
For who would bear the ignorance and slurs of Trolls,
The lamestream's wrong, politician's contempt,
The pangs of unrequited links, the law's encroach,
The silence of little traffic, and spurning
That patient merit of his unworthy site,
Where writing might his quietus make
Without a keystroke? Who would trolls bear,
To grunt and swear upon unread prose,
But that the dread of no longer having blog,
Dumping irksome thoughts, puzzles the will,
And makes us tolerate those faults we have
Than try out new ones we know nothing of?
This conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. -- Soft you now,
My unquiet mind! -- Thought, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

Bill Sticker, with many abject apologies to another poor scrivener known as William.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Risk and fear

Out and about yesterday, bargain hunting for kitchen gear in the sales. Mrs S had baggsyed the drivers seat, so I'm relaxing in the co-pilots position letting my mind wander. Found myself thinking about the mechanics of the risks we all take on a daily basis. For example, sitting in the front passenger seat in traffic at some eighty kph could be compared with falling face first off a wall. Say there was no engine, windscreen, seat belt or airbag in front of me and I came to an abrupt halt, there is a distinct chance that I would not survive. Particularly if that sudden halt was occasioned by a solid concrete wall. Yet many people take equivalent risk daily without even a single nod towards the consequences. To even fully consider the consequences would mean you'd spend your days in a permanent state of abject grovelling terror.

A century ago such a mode of travel would have been inconceivable. Yet today most of us shrug off even the merest notion that we are an eyeblinks inattentiveness from serious injury or death. Then you see the self same people worrying themselves sick over stuff with an infinitesimal risk factor, like pesticide residues, mobile phone radiation, or having the occasional drink. As they say over here, go figure.

For my own part, I'm rather glad that I never listened to the worry warts who said moving to Canada was foolish; "No Bill, you'll never make it, not qualified enough" (Shows how much they knew about me, eh?) Mrs S and I stepped up to the plate, and despite a couple of strikes (If you'll forgive the Baseball metaphor), made it along with the rest of our little clan.

There's a saying that the unexamined life is not worth living. It occurs that part of that examination must come from serious tests of the mind, body and spirit. A simple physical challenge like a Marathon is not sufficient to qualify. Any such experience must leave an indelible mark between the ears, and destruction test a persons self doubt to be truly valid. Needless to say, this entails considerable risk, especially financial.

Sometimes I've been given to thinking that if I'd known what the immigration road ahead had been like; I'd have thought twice back in 2001 before giving my solemn oath to Mrs S that we would emigrate. Instead of taking a deep breath, nodding, and saying; "Though hell itself should bar the way." Let me tell you, there's a considerable downside to this trying to do the right thing all the time. In the intervening nine years we've pretty much destruction tested our relationship and both become more than we were. All because we decided to confront our natural fear of the unfamiliar and manage the inevitable risk of taking a chance.

I'm enjoying it so far. I think.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Global cooling?

Scare story or coming reality?


For the record; my money is on Piers Corbyn (Anyone who takes money off bookmakers can't be far wrong). Now I'm off to put my money into Winter sports manufacturers and housing insulation.

Why? Well aren't we getting a re-run of the stormy stuff of last year? Or the year before? Or the year before that? Or even the one before that? Is it just me or is the severity increasing? Not that we can draw any conclusions from such a small sample of course......

At what point does all this weather become climate if only a few warm years are able to establish an uncontrollable warming trend?

Noooooo! We're all doooomed! Or maybe not. My money's still on Piers. He amongst others have been talking about the world going into a 30 year cooling trend for some time now.

Not dead enough

A while ago, I asked for my Facebook page to be deleted. Followed the instructions and everything went quiet. All well and good you might think. Until I started getting 'friend' requests last week. I responded to Facebook e-mails to 'Go view your account' with a polite "I thought I told you to shut this down and delete" email. It seems this was not enough. Some people just can't take no for an answer. Although who would want to be 'friends' with me beggars belief. I'm not a nice person.

Unfortunately, what this means is that all facebook related requests are going to be marked as spam from now on, and I will keep logging their emails as spam until they get the message that I no longer wish to participate.

I thought my Facebook account was dead. Yet now it seems that it is not dead enough.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Katla at Christmas

Seen Christmas day on the Icelandic Met office web site.
Now this post comes with the usual disclaimer about tremors alone do not an eruption signify, but there's been steady low level tremors under Katla for some time now. Just little stuff but, and here's the kicker; look at the depth. All about a hundred metres down. All low level. Nothing big, but enough to indicate something is going on down there. What is is however, is something for the vulcanologists to determine. That or the volcano.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas from BAA (Not)


Thanks to British Airways and BAA, the Sticker household will have a much diminished Christmas.

The reason for this is simple; presents were being transported to Vancouver by our girls. Then the snow (Although not a great deal by all accounts) hit Heathrow. Luggage had already been checked in, containing presents for friends and relatives over here. Luggage was supposed to follow a day after our girls arrived. Enquiries at Vancouver Airport found no cases. The following two days brought the news that the cases in question were, apparently, due to stay in Heathrow. Then the cases were supposed to be in Vancouver, where they had not, according to staff, arrived. Repeated visits to Vancouver Airport seeking said have proved fruitless. Considerable expenses (Extra travel, Ferry journeys, working time lost) have been incurred. Lawyers are to be consulted.

To date (late Christmas Eve) there has been a complete lack of presence of any presents. With BA's record of luggage tracking we have no expectation of ever seeing them again. We had hoped for better, thinking that the bad old days of 'Thiefrow' were long past. This appears not to be so. The luggage tracking system for checked baggage appears to be just as inefficient as it ever was, despite bar coded luggage tags and sufficient computing power to control a multitude of space flights. Under the circumstances, it would seem that to expect efficiency from Heathrow, BAA and British Airways would seem to be the triumph of hope over experience.

Mrs S is bitterly disappointed, as is Sister in law, our girls, and the rest of our disparate little clan.

Un mauvais quart d'heure

This has not been a fun week.

It seems I have spent six whole days chasing other people's tails and being treated like an unpaid flunky. I am not a happy man. I am unhappy with BA for losing my kids luggage. I am unhappy with BAA for not being able to operate an airport effectively in conditions most other countries don't even blink at. I am unhappy at being on the receiving end of an overload of emotional backlash simply because others can't bloody cope without lashing out.

There is nothing I can physically do, yet I'm expected to. Then be at everyone else's back and call.

On top of that, I have people telling me what I should and should not want. Well I bloody well don't! I need salt to balance my electrolytes, sugar for energy, exercise in the open air and proper rest to enable my body to wind down.

Now I want to say this; I am not yours to command. You have no right. Your problems are not my problems. Fix them yourselves. Grow a pair and grow up!

Now sod off and let me curl into a ball in some dark and neglected corner. Alone. I want the rest of the festering season off. The TV is going off and earplugs are going in.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Waiting for a plane

This is a follow-on from my previous post.

Mrs S and I were at Vancouver airport just before ten pm local time 21st December 2010 waiting for the first Heathrow to Vancouver British Airways flight for five days. All right Nigel, the bloody thing flies over the North Atlantic, Greenland, Baffin Island, The Arctic, Nunavut, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, so maybe it isn't a true 'Transatlantic' flight. It crosses the bit of the world split by the Atlantic, so, pedantry aside, it's a 'Transatlantic' flight in my book. I'd write you a letter but I can't spell Thrzzzp! So there.

The board gave the estimated time of arrival of British Airways flight BAW0085 as 20:49. That time passed.

In the Arrivals hall were quite a number of expatriate Brits, including myself, collective breath not quite held. The atmosphere at the end of the gate exit was subdued, expectant, even tense. We knew the flight was definitely on its way, yet no-one including myself, appeared quite certain whether their loved ones were actually on board. All most of us were doing was living in hope, indulging in various forms of nervous displacement activity, pacing, talking quietly, fiddling with iPhones and Blackberrys, watching other passengers come in on other flights with not a little muted jealousy. Occasional officials, including one of the Airports RCMP detachment were gently interrogated upon their interpretations of what the difference in time meant. Anything was worse than not knowing.

At approximately 21:20, the board changed, showing BAW0085 as 'landed'. There was no massed sigh or relief, but people who had been walking back and forth in the arrivals hall gravitated to the end of the arrivals gate. A sense of expectancy became almost palpable as the crowd watched the video feed from the arrivals hall. Another flight had landed ahead of the first BA flight out since Heathrow had been virtually shut down. Those passengers filtered out, but the crowd at the Arrivals gate just stood, eyes fixed on the monitor.

About thirty five minutes later, the first passengers from Heathrow came filtering through in ones and two's. One lady stumbled through the gate looking as though she was on her last vestiges of life, until an excited little girl hurtled up the walkway to hug her legs. As for other greetings, there were individual little vignettes of joy, but nothing spectacular. One girl ran right up the the clear glass doors, hopping from foot to foot in impatience and unable to contain her relief. Hugs and red roses were much in evidence, but it was hard to tell if this wasn't the arrival of a routine flight, not the first return from five days stuck in Heathrow.

I did think of videoing some of the rendezvous, but then stopped on the grounds that I felt it would be too intrusive. This was other people's life, not mine, and to graphically document others deeply private moments goes against the grain of my core beliefs.

Visitors and returnees from the UK gave the full gamut of acknowledgement, from foot stamping little dances of joy, to almost embarrassed half waves. Some had luggage, others not. Most looked as though they were well overdue a shower and fresh clothing. All seemed thoroughly relieved simply to have made it to Vancouver. No big fuss, no crowd scenes, just happy people filtering away until the mob around the Arrivals gate looked quite threadbare.

About 10:23, Mrs S, hitherto leaning against one of the pastel yellow two metre thick pillars supporting the upper Departures concourse, gestured to me to join her. "Bill. Have a look at this." I wandered over and took up station watching the Arrivals Hall monitor screens. About ten minutes late, to my knee sagging relief we saw our two girls; deeply in need of a shower and clean up, wearing borrowed clothing, but very much here, and looking more than a little tired and travelworn. I tried to take some pictures coming through the gate, but they shied away. "I look awful. Don't take my picture." So the Camera was pocketed, unused.

"Show us your passports." Mrs S said, and our girls entertained us with an almost breathless recounting of their encounter with Canadian Immigration, which was relatively painless. There were also several anecdotes about their tribulations at Heathrow, which they, bless them, coped with magnificently. With less than 19 days to go before their Visa expiry deadline, they had 'Landed' as Permanent Residents of Canada.

We took the Skytrain out to Yaletown and wandered through Vancouver to our Hotel, leaving them in their hotel room to argue about who got to have the first shower. Later we feted them with Champagne, and Mrs S delivered an impromptu speech in which she praised her daughter resourcefulness and steadiness of nerve. Crusty old Stepdad (Me) simply added his agreement until his face ached with smiling. Tired girls then went off to bed, and Mrs S and I let our knees sag with relief.

Our initial reaction?

We've done it. We're proud as punch of our two. They met almost insuperable obstacles and succeeded where others lost out.

Any other reaction?


Now if you'll excuse me, I intend to drink a little more than UK government 'approved' guidelines.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Suspense

I'm currently hovering over the online flight trackers watching the status of a particular flight out of Heathrow. Why? I have close family on board. When they arrive in Vancouver they have a small task to perform. When that task is done they will be freer than they were, and all the efforts and expense of the past five years will have proven worth every nanosecond.

Five years of my life putting up with a whole heap of inconvenience and tribulation to help realise a dream. Everything rolling down to one transatlantic flight. Now I'm not a religious man, irreverent certainly, as God himself knows, but in this particular agnostic foxhole is someone pleading "If there is someone who can help, would you...... please?" Clocks are ticking in all sorts of ways, and the suspense is almost killing.

If all goes well, there will be no posting on this blog for at least forty eight hours. If not, in the silence you may hear my heart breaking.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Monday Musical interlude



'Waiting for Tomorrow' from Hawkwinds 1987 album 'Choose your Masques' featuring Hu Lloyd-Langton. I used to have the 12 inch vinyl of this one - yes, I'm that sad. The album version is much better but couldn't find one I could embed. Waiting for tomorrow is what Mrs S and I are doing right now. Hope there are no more travel hang ups.

There's also this, which many libertarians may find some synergy with;

"We're sick of politicians harassment and laws, All we do is get screwed up by other people's flaws"

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Stuck at Heathrow?

For those of you stuck at Heathrow, you have my utmost sympathies. You are the victims of a massive cognitive dissonance which has gripped the political world for some time. This failure of intellect has resulted in a lack of planning for cold weather events, and failure to prepare for the current Arctic blast. It is the reason why there is insufficient equipment to deal with the current, and well predicted, inclement weather.

Do not call some poor kid in a 'customer care' call centre and burn their ears off because it's not their fault.

Do not kick out at desk staff, who did not make the decisions leading to you, or your loved ones, being stuck waiting for a flight that isn't going to take off.

Do not even blame British Airways or BAA (Yes I know, a big WTF! on that one) They have all been misled.

The people to blame are those who vociferously advocated that the world is warming uncontrollably because of man made Carbon Dioxide emissions. People like James Hansen of Nasa. Jones, Briffa and Trenberth of Hadley CRU. People who have stood up and insisted, despite all evidence to the contrary, that we're all doomed because the world is warming. They are the guilty parties. The Gores, Suzukis, WWF'ers, Greenpeace, 10:10. Their names are all public domain. The Camerons, Browns, Blairs Huhnes and Cleggs. The EU. The left of centre activists. Those who politicised the Met Office. Every single one of the patronising bastards who patted you on the head and said "Don't be a silly Denier. We know better than you.". Those are who to vent your spleen at, not the poor sods on the front line trying to do a job deprived of the right tools by political dogma.

Well, stap me vitals!

I've long been an admirer of the work of Piers Corbyn, ever since I heard he was taking serious money off bookmakers by betting on the weather. Piers has his own professional weather forecasting service at which I'm told he makes a modest but steady living. He does this by being consistently 80% accurate, which is quite impressive when you look at the opposition. If you're making future arrangements for an outdoor event, there are few better resources as to whether you need to book alternate venues in case of inclement weather.

Now Boris Johnson, that cuddly mop head Mayor of London has had the scales nudged (But only slightly) from his eyes. Boris has openly (if guardedly) questioned the dogma of Man made climate change / global warming / climate disruption in this article.

Well stap me vitals, say I. A major politician saying "Err. You know chaps, I'm not so sure...."

Will Boris be the first to openly break ranks? Possibly. His reality of having to run a major city during its fourth cold Winter in a row may be the big wake up call against the political dogma that is Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. He's one of the first, he certainly won't be the last. That place is jointly reserved for Chris Huhne and David Cameron.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Just asking

Just a quickie. Anyone seen any of those Wind turbines turning actually in a wind recently, as if they're being blown as opposed to being run to stop the bloody things icing / seizing up? Oh yes, while we're at it, has anyone seen or heard of an Electric car being run during the snow in the UK?

Just asking, that's all.

Thank you

This obscure little blog usually gets around forty hits a day, most of which are what I call 'fly-bys'. Very few people stop to read, and fewer still choose to comment.

The blog itself is a brain dump for my anger at what I see going wrong in the world, things that could so easily be remedied if the will were available. Like so many others as evidenced in my blogroll.

My point of view is that I always try to see the world as it is and not how I would like it to be. To deal in pragmatism rather than flights of fancy. So it is very gratifying to see my hit rate go off the chart simply for flagging up an attack against the very foundation of the democratic principle.

Many thanks to the good Captain Ranty for the extra traffic on 'Democratia Mortuus est', and also Anna Raccoon for her mention of my complaint about the snow inspired ineptitude demonstrated at Heathrow on Friday. Also for 'Realityreturns' slightly chilling compliment paid to my studied expostulation (See graphic) on a Tellytubbygraph comment thread about the pointlessly asinine UKuncut protests against retail middleweights Vodaphone and Topshop. I wonder if the protesters will change their name when they realise it can readily be spoonerised into 'ucuntUK'.

Cameron is right, but then he's very wrong as well

Heard about this speech on energy security from David Cameron, Prime Minister of somewhere or other in Europe. Some little principality or other that is effectively under direct rule from Brussels.

"The fact is, we've got a very clapped-out electricity generating capacity"
Fine. with you so far. Out of date Power Stations and infrastructure in need of replacement. Very cogent thinking there.
Here's where it all goes horribly wrong; "that is pumping carbon into the atmosphere and we need to replace it."
Replace the carbon? Carbon particulates, Carbon Monoxide or Carbon Dioxide? Carbon Buckyballs? Or replace the power generation infrastructure?
Oh dear. "What we want is green, reliable, cheap electricity, and we're not leaving that to chance. We're setting out policies today that will deliver that.
More windmills and Solar panels? More inefficient, subsidy hungry pipe dreams based on the discredited postulation that the world is warming uncontrollably and it's all our fault?
They'll also have the spin-off advantage of helping to make Britain one of the greenest places for green energy, for green electricity" for green investment and crucially for green jobs anywhere in the world."
Ooo, oo, I know the answer to this one! Spain, anyone? Hey, haven't 'Green' jobs been a real success story over there, eh?
This has to be the definition of insanity. Repeating the same action again and again in defiance of what's actually happening in the real world.

Incoming....

Our visitors are still expected on Tuesday, British Airways notwithstanding, with the added benefit that other relatives, who are only here for a day or so on the run up to the 25th, will get to party with both us and them.

According to our Weathervane the wind has swung around to the Northwest, and is currently what I would call 'frisky'. Cheeky little coat and skirt lifting gusts to catch out the unwary. It's also quite chilly and damp. No hint of snow (as yet) for Christmas, but hey, this is the Island and anything can happen.

Snow is not ruled out.

As far as weather is concerned, looks like SNAFU seems to be the best acronym for the situation.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas postponed

Certain of our relatives were at Heathrow on Friday, due to fly out to us for Christmas. Mrs S and I spent the day in Vancouver, where we were supposed to pick them up and take them to our home to celebrate the good old festering season. Their flight was cancelled.

It was scheduled flight BA0035 to Vancouver, yet we were told at one stage that there were 'no cancellations'. Bull-shit.

We were told that the runways were clear.

Then we found out that because of the lack of planning, Heathrow has only enough gear to run one de-icing crew. Why the hell said crews weren't used more effectively I don't know. Now if anyone had asked me, which is unlikely as I'm only a single voice in the blogging wilderness, instead of having the de-icing crew move round all the terminal, wouldn't it have been better to set up a single de-icing station on the taxiway, and route all outgoing aircraft through it? Ten minutes a plane and 130 litres of de-icer. Or did someone forget to order sufficient de-icing fluid to 'keep costs down'? Surely there was sufficient warning? Oh gosh! Silly me! It's supposed to be the 'hottest year ever'! Yeah, right.

Here's how they do it in Minnesota.

Also, I was under the impression that all modern aircraft had on-board de-icing capability because it gets pretty parky at thirty plus thousand feet. Although when flying into the UK in October on a 767, I noticed patches of thin ice on the outer wings as we began our descent.

Fortunately, my family members have secured a booking for later in the week, providing you lot in the UK don't suffer from the 'wrong kind of snow'. God alone knows where their luggage has gone to. Or maybe we'll be confronted with that 1970's joke spoofing one of BA's advertising slogans; 'Breakfast in London, Dinner in New York - Luggage in Barbados'.

We had hoped to kick off the holidays this weekend, regrettably we will have to keep the champers on ice for another few days. What I don't want to hear is more excuses about failing to prepare for a known cold weather event. Ahrrggh! I need a drink.

Update: Have spoken to temporarily marooned relatives, and according to them, the desk staff were not very happy with the situation and made some rather disparaging remarks about the short sightedness of their management. No names, no pack drill.

Democratia mortuus est

Just read this wonderful piece of news for all you poor buggers still stuck in the UK. Thought your vote counted? Well apparently it soon won't.
UK will 'cut and paste' EU laws directly onto UK statute books to cut down red tape
So what's the point of the 'Green' Cameroonies and the eco-looney Huhnes? Someone tell me please, I've forgotten.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Electric cars

This post has been generated by three cross currents of thought. The first was seeing one of those conspiracy theory 'Documentaries' about how wicked 'Big Oil' killed off some whizzy super electric vehicle supposed to replace all those pollution spewing Internal Combustion Engine propelled cars and trucks. The second was a piece in the Tellytubbygraph about subsidies for Electric cars. The third was a conversation I had about practical technologies with a work buddy.

Now electrically powered cars have been around a long time. Over 100 (One hundred) years. The technology is relatively simple. Electro Magnetic Force (Electricity, or plain old 'leccy' as the transfer of electrons along a conductor is known) translated into rotary motion by magnetism acting on coils and windings. Yes I know that's an over simplification, but this is a blog, not an encyclopaedia, for goodness sake.

Electric motors work. So long as there is sufficient electricity, they work very well indeed, and quite efficiently. Ideal for driving a vehicle you might think. Well, yes and no. The thing is, that while electric motors are a relatively efficient means of converting power into motion, independent electrical storage media (a.k.a. batteries) have not attained this level of utility. The major issue is recharge, and the time it takes to recharge the storage media without it blowing up.

Batteries are in their simplest terms Electro-chemical devices used to store and release electrical energy. They do this by a chemical reaction which releases electrons from atoms, which in their turn barge into the electron shells of other conductor atoms, thus creating a 'flow' of electricity. Again, this is an over simplification of the process, but my previous point about this being a very generalist blog still applies. It may surprise my reader that power storage devices of this nature have altered little over the past couple of thousand years. Two differing conductors and an electrolyte are all that is required. Modern batteries have come a long way from the old Lead / Acid contraptions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. but they still rely on the same principle. Charging too fast will overstimulate the chemical reaction within the battery and make it overheat, and even explode. So recharge times must be adhered to, lest you end up with a recharge station full of toxic chemical sludge and fast moving shards of metal and plastic. Short of some form of fast electrolyte recharge, where the old fluid is pumped out and replaced with fresh (Which doesn't replace / repair corroded anodes and cathodes incidentally), there is the major issue with electric cars. Not function, but recharge and recharge system longevity.

Perhaps some other process which 'refreshes' the electrolyte and shifts those pesky ions (Charged particles) to the correct end of the battery might be an idea. Whether such a process could be made to work or not would be down to whomsoever could crack the chemistry. Then you've opened the environmental can of worms about what you do with tonnes of exhausted battery electrolyte, which would be a by product of all those chemical recharges.

Until the electrical storage issues I have outlined above are resolved, the truly practical Electric Car will remain an expensive short range vanity item not worth spit in cold weather. As far as I'm concerned, the five thousand pound subsidies are worthless because the batteries need to be replaced for around $9000 (about six thousand quid) a pop after five years (or even less). God alone knows what the resale value of such vehicles might plummet to.

There's also a big question mark over how much pollution these things are responsible for. As far as I can see they simply defer, rather than produce no emissions. Power will still need to be generated to drive the things, and that will require a more robust energy grid, should the recharging business ever be solved. Then there is the pollution from Rare Earth production that goes into making modern batteries. Maybe that was why GM etc crushed all those leased EV1's, because the cost of battery replacement outweighed the economic benefits of leasing, and the future state-imposed costs of recovery / recycling. When it comes to the Electric Car, I still think Edison had it right over a century ago.

The various screw ups and bad curry-like repetition of the Electric car idea is what happens when people who don't understand technology manage high tech projects, or make ill-informed rules to buy votes. No conspiracy, just everyday human cock-up.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Another interminable post on global flaming warming

If the 10:10 violent child porn apologists would care to take note; this Armstrong and Miller sketch is both funny and satirical. "Believe, or we'll throw you in gaol". Enjoy the snow, guys.



H/T Bishop Hill

BTW: Lots of Warble Gloaming in China, the Middle East and lots of other places.

Monday, 13 December 2010

On being a migrant

Having successfully immigrated into Canada, I'm struck with the changes we need to go through having gone from being 'Temporary residents' to 'Permanent Residents', a status which needs renewal every five years, unless you wait until eligible for citizenship and go for that.

Everything is new. You are given a permanent Social Insurance Number which means you aren't reliant on the one job any more, but then you have to dash around updating Driving licences, health insurance registration, and a whole heap of other things. Always with the creeping sensation that you've missed a trick somewhere. Creditworthiness needs to be reinforced with a 'major purchase'. For us this has meant a new car. Registration with all sorts of agencies designed to help new migrants, but which only kick in when you become a 'Permanent Resident'. If you're only on a work permit they can't add you to their stats. In a way this makes us feel like we're entering the country all over again.

Although Mrs S and I are delighted with our new status, we're still left with a sensation of "Okay, what's next?" When dealing with officialdom. There's nothing intrusive apart from the smoking ban, and most issues are dealt with as a matter of courtesy. The North American 'Point and shoot' style of driving still bemuses. Even most of our local population of down and outs are polite to the point where you feel embarrassed not to throw them a couple of bucks. Everywhere, pedestrians carrying insulated cups of coffee carefully held in front of them like protective amulets.

There's an odd disconnected air to it all, and all the certainties I'm used to dealing with have gotten fuzzy round the edges and somehow much bigger. Like we've finally been let into the party, which we thought would be a small 'do' of maybe fifty or sixty and finding ourselves in a happy chattering crowd of thousands.

We'll get used to it shortly.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Rust in peace

All good things come to an end, and it is my sad duty to announce the demise of our venerable, spacious (we used it as a camper van on the Trans-Canada) old battlebus. Bought at a knock down price back in 2007, we got over three years almost trouble free use from it (Apart from an almost inaccessible seal blowing on a transmission pump and a brake service). I will miss it. It served us well.

The battlebus has in our ownership crossed Canada coast to coast, from Tofino on the west side of Vancouver Island, to the easternmost tip of the Cape Breton trail, Nova Scotia and the misty hills of Price Edward Island. We have crossed vast prairies asking deep and reaching questions like; "When's the next bend?" or "Is that a hill over there?" and rarely; "Hey! Isn't that a tree?" Listened to songs about the majesty of Northern Ontario's forests that weren't by Gordon Lightfoot. Had to retune the radio four times a day because we kept on passing out of the transmitter footprint (No Sirius). If you think it's too far to walk down to the shops for a cold one, then Canada isn't for you. Vast is almost an understatement, yet our vehicle took it all in it's ageing stride.

However, Mrs S and I, after much headbanging deliberation, have purchased a more fuel efficient SUV with all season tyres, satnav and all the trimmings. Not only that, but it's a blast to drive, and nimbler than a mountain goat on amphetamines. The frustrated banging of heads has stopped, only to be replaced with a dash out of the front door to be first into the driving seat, a practice at which Mrs S becomes ever more Machiavellian. "Oo, I've forgotten my keys, lock the front door love." She says, and yours truly ends up in the passenger seat yet again. Hmmmm.

If anyone is interested, we've christened the new vehicle 'Thumper'. Why? Because it reminds me of this Disney Character.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

I know I'm the last to post this but.............

Isn't this just a first class indication of the intellectual level of the CAGW / man made climate change / disruption / whatever true believers? So dumb they don't know what water is?


Seriously. If anyone has the names collected on that petition, I'll post it. Unaltered, with links to the organisation and facebook pages of the relevant delegates if I can.

I don't get it

A Muslim suicide bomber was killed by his own devices in Stockholm today. Now I have to declare an interest here. I have family and my wife has friends who actually live in the city.

I don't get it. Why bomb Stockholm? The Swedes are a pleasant lot, and are neck and neck with the Canadians in a politeness arms race. If there was a politeness Olympics, Sweden and Canada would be neck and neck for most of the Gold medals with a tie breaker based on tolerance and hospitality. So the cartoonist who once drew a funny cartoon of a religious leader lives there, so what? Their forces are committed to pulling out of Afghanistan in 2014, even if there are only a grand total of 500 odd actually there. It's hardly a US style 'surge' is it?

You might as well set the Vatican on fire because one Catholic gave you bad service in a department store. It's the disproportionate nature of the act that gets me. In addition, the problem with these acts of indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets is that they give politicians the excuse to keep troops in the area under dispute. If the bombings stopped, there would be no reason for the troops to stay in the 'stan. So, no reason for bombings. Or am I being terribly naive here? Mind you, as my e-friend Umm Yasmin rightly points out, it's Muslims who bear the brunt of the crazies. It's just the sheer pointlessness of it all that scrolls my knurd.

As for the 'domination' of one religiuous creed over all, to expect everyone to share your belief system isn't simply unrealistic, it's insane. Then, as God pointed out to me last week over our customary beer and fishing session, that's religious types for you. "Nothing to do with me." He said.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Down and out in BC

In the Library this afternoon, busy browsing the shelves and was addressed thusly by one of the local 'Street people' who'd overheard me talking to Mrs S. "Can you say something?"
"Pardon?" I was somewhat taken aback.
"What part of England are you from?"
"Here and there." I hedged.
"That is a wonderful accent."
"Really?"
"Can you say something more?" He asked. I obliged. You can't help it when someone asks you as nicely as he did.

'Street person' had a warm jumper on which I reckon cost whoever donated it to him a couple of hundred dollars. "Good, eh?" He grinned, plucking at the fine wool on his sleeve.
"Keep you warm?" I asked.
"Sure does."
"I got my DVD player charging over there. Only cost me sixty seven bucks." He said.
"I recall when those were a thousand dollars apiece." I responded with an ironic twist to my mouth. This was one of our better dressed down and outs. As polite as the majority are round here. There's the odd one or two who are so far gone they hate the world and all that's in it, but the rest are polite as all hell. Talk about culture shock. Toffler would be nodding with an air of quiet satisfaction.
"It's pretty cool." He grinned and moved on, DVD's in hand. He at least would have viewing tonight. I passed him by later. He was wearing headphones and watching some art house movie. Not bothering anyone, just like a man who knows that the tides of fate have their ebbs and flows, and his time would surely come. All he needed was patience.

What a contrast from the UK. Damn, I love this country.

The wrong targets

I've been watching reports and footage of the student protests (riots?) in London, UK with a furrowed brow. Why the Cenotaph? Why Churchills statue? The Treasury and the Law Courts I can understand, but it seems to me that the protests lost legitimacy when they strayed off target. In other words, it's a massive public relations FAIL.

Smashing things up like a toddler having a tantrum doesn't work. All it does is increase Police overtime and cost the poor bloody taxpayer money they don't have any more.

Prince Charles' Roller will be fixed. Paint will be cleaned off monuments, public buildings repaired, flags replaced. Students in the riots will get injured by the Police. The injured protesters will whine pitifully to the press about 'Police Brutality' (The bunch of jessies). It's so predictable.

As for 'take from the rich'? The 'Rich' (as always) will do what people with money always do, quietly shift their assets away, further impoverishing the country, costing ordinary people livelihoods and their children's futures. What's the point of having money in a place where there's no money to be made? Britain will become, as I reluctantly have characters in other writings vouchsafe; "A wretched little poverty trap".

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Screw the UN

Have just read Monckton's report on the shenanigans down at Cancun courtesy of Jo Nova. Apparently the United Nations want our money to give to 'poor' countries on the back of the still unproven (and never will be) bandwagon of climate change / disruption nonsense.
The UN wants nothing less than 1.5% of our GDP.

That’s $212 billion from the USA every year ($2700 per family of 4).

That’s $32 billion from the UK every year ($2000 per family of 4).

That’s $13 billion from Australia every year ($2400 per family of 4)
A treaty is no good unless ratified, and while I would like to see 'world peace' as much as anyone, the UN is not the vehicle. Let's face it, if the UN were a motor vehicle, it would qualify for a 'cash for clunkers' or 'retire my ride' program. It's way too heavy on the gas, the performance could best be described as 'lumbering', and the transmission is shot. Time for the scrapyard.

As for the money. Well you guys didn't ask for my consent, so it is not given. I'll be campaigning for the non-ratification of any treaty. The way I feel about this demand for money is, if the cohorts of Bin Laden were to drop an airliner onto the UN building in New York while it was in full session I think I'd cheer (Providing only suicide bombers were on board).
The Secretariat will have the power not merely to invite nation states to perform their obligations under the climate-change Convention, but to compel them to do so. Nation states are to be ordered to collect, compile and submit vast quantities of information, in a manner and form to be specified by the secretariat and its growing army of subsidiary bodies.
Screw the UN. Screw your 'World Government'. You don't speak for us.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Family stuff

The news from around all the family is pretty good. Our girls are over for Christmas. Sister in Law likewise, and she's just got a new high flying job. We just bought our first ever brand new car. I'm meeting with a headhunter over the next few days regarding a new job for me.

But bloody hell, the stress on the run up has been abso-sodding-lutely murderous.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Unhinged Kingdom

This is one of those 'Thank God I don't live there any more' posts. So If such views offend, pass on by, you'll find nothing of interest here.

Whenever I read the news from the UK, I'm always struck by a feeling of 'What the hell are they doing this / that for?' It's like there is some massive cognitive dissonance going on about how an economy operates. Elder sibling tells me repeatedly that the 'lunatics are in charge of the asylum' and all I can do is stare in wonderment and even venture a modicum of astonished disbelief.

The land of my birth is seemingly engaged in a self destruct where personal wealth and ambition is seen as fundamentally 'bad'. Taken to its logical extreme this philosophy would mean the collapse of the economy. The end of the City of London as a Financial Centre, and subsequent shortfall in tax revenue. Seeing as that's where the money-go-round fuelling the UK economy is based, I'm inclined to look at all the whining about 'Eeevil Bankers' and protests against Employers who generate income for thousands as more than a smidge short sighted.

Whether you like it or not, with the ever creeping reductions in manufacturing and innovation across the UK, and the expansion of the public sector and client state, there is an increasing imbalance which will require a massive correction. Why? Because Big Government, touted as 'Good' by those of a left of centre persuasion, is, as I have written both here and on this blogs predecessor, unsustainable. When it comes to money, Government is a wealth absorber rather than a wealth creator. Mainly because it is horrendously inefficient. As a form of 'Wealth redistribution', Government delivers very poor bang for buck, and besides, if you've made your money fair and square, why should you give it to people / causes you don't want to support? It's like Electric cars. Despite a century of failure of the Electric vehicle as a mass market mode of travel, people who can't do joined up thinking keep on wasting money on the bloody things.

Same for Governments 'spending the way out of recession'. It won't work because there's too much wastage in the system. Too many chair polishers who need to draw salary. Too many committee members who, because of 'fairness' have to have their say and let off so much self esteem they cloud every issue under discussion. Little people afraid of third world tinpot dictators. Or is that a more succinct view of Government in the UK? Once a world power, now a third world country. No-one's listening Bill. Rant all you want against the stupidity of the world. You don't live there any more. Thank goodness.

'Sustainability'? Meh.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Bifstoo!

While more climate change shenanigans are revealed in the latest Wikileaks scandal, covered here, I've elected to do a blog culinary interlude. I mean it's all very well arguing over CO2 and the climate with a bunch of people who won't listen, and won't engage except to regurgitate ad homs and bad science, but sometimes you just have to sit down and have a good feed.

The Bill Sticker culinary contribution today is my version of a family favourite, beef casserole, or as everyone else in the household calls it, Bifstoo! Yes, the exclamation mark is necessary, as it conjures up the enthusiasm with which this dish is always received. This is a family recipe, handed down the generations, and as such may be considered a form of heirloom.

Best made in batches of half a kilo or more, this is a very simple dish, simply prepared. What you'll need;

Stewing beef cut into half inch (12mm) cubes. If you have Venison, that's good too. This recipe works with any cheap cut of red meat; Moose, Elk, and even Bear, although a good seasoning of Rosemary is recommended if you're going to try it with Lamb. Kangaroo may also be good, although I've never tried it cooked this particular way.
Heaped teaspoon Bisto browning powder (Not the granules, and definitely not OXO or knorr)
Heaped teaspoon White flour or cornflour.
Carrots.
Onions.
Salt & pepper
Saucepan
Big fry pan or Wok
Casserole dish
Oven
Water (About half a pint or 250ml)
Safety goggles (Optional)

Preparation time fifteen minutes
Cooking time 2-4 hours
  1. Cut the carrots into small slices about a quarter inch (6mm+) you'll need enough to form slightly more than a layer (or two) in the casserole dish.
  2. Wearing goggles if need be, dice up a large onion a bit bigger than the size of your fist. Throw in saucepan with half a cup (ish) of water and gently heat to 'sweat down' or soften. You may now discard the safety goggles.
  3. Mix equal amounts of Bisto and flour together dry.
  4. Dust cubes of meat with dry mix of flour and Bisto so they are liberally coated. You can do this by rolling in the mix of shake in a bag - whatever coats the meat best.
  5. In the Wok or large frying pan, put a dessert spoonful of cooking oil, no more, and put over a low heat. Drop coated beef into pan and fry until all the cubes are thoroughly brown.
  6. When all meat is browned off, add water, and with the remaining dry Bisto / Flour mix, make a cold gravy mix with a little water.
  7. Heat browned meat and gravy mix in pan, and add extra gravy mix to thicken (But not too much or this will come out like set concrete). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Throw meat, softened onions and sliced carrots into casserole dish. Put in oven at medium heat (About 350 Fahrenheit, 175 Celsius or Gas regulo 3).
  9. You can at this point prepare some vegetables. Mashed, boiled or roast potatoes are fine, and if you're feeling guilty, you can set up some broccoli, peas, french beans or similar (Asparagus is a bit OTT though). Do not begin to cook these yet.
  10. Now the important bit; put the kettle on, put your feet up, watch a movie, scurf the net, or read a book for at least an hour and a half. Alternatively go and chop some wood, walk the dog, or other physical exercise. The thing is about this dish, it needs at least a couple of hours to cook properly. This is an old fashioned stick to your ribs dish for snow days and weekends.
  11. The really good thing is that if the family throws a collective mardy and decides they don't want such solid nourishment right this minute, once cooled, store in portions and put in fridge or freezer for microwaving later. Do not give to pets, as afterwards they won't want anything else, and will have no truck with that crap you feed 'em out of a can. My dog gets the leftovers, and his empty food bowl does on average two laps of the kitchen floor. He's that desperate not to miss a bit. Stepkids love it, although they haven't the patience to prepare and cook it.
As an aside, during my student days I used to make this stuff for my own consumption, only to have one of my house mates (An irritating proselytising vegetarian) denounce it as 'dogfood' while I was eating. That was rich, coming from someone known to subsist on baked beans and junkfood. Last I heard, he'd developed some form of pernicious anaemia - couldn't happen to a nicer person. Hence my oft-expressed prejudice against Vegans etc. I don't mind people having a different dietary regime, just don't expect me to share your misery, that's all. As for being hectored by stupid politicians and 'health care professionals' advised by said sad acts to eat less meat - Fuck off.

P.S. I would have posted a picture, but Bifstoo disappears too quickly.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Interesting.....

Logged on to my Disqus account last night to comment on one of the Tellytubbygraphs blog threads. Specifically to do with the breaking news that Japan has thrown the Kyoto accords under the bus at Cancun. No sooner had I typed my comment, than the 'your comment is being moderated' sign popped up. I immediately typed in another short and pithy remark about being immediately moderated, which was published with no moderation. Then I edited it to mention Japan's blunt refusal to extend the Kyoto accords. No moderation again. No mention of Japan's actions in the pages of the Tellytubbygraph, today either.

Interesting.....

H/T to Wattsupwiththat for the Kyoto story.

Fuller coverage over at Jo Nova.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Jante Law

1: Don't think you're anything special.
2: Don't think you're as much as us.
3: Don't think you're wiser than us.
4: Don't convince yourself that you're better than us.
5: Don't think you know more than us.
6: Don't think you are more than us.
7: Don't think you are good at anything.
8: Don't laugh at us.
9: Don't think anyone cares about you.
10: Don't think you can teach us anything.
11: Don't think there's anything we don't know about you.
12: Don't even try or we'll pull you down.

Described in the 1933 novel A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks by Aksel Sandemose

Does this sound awfully and creepily familiar? A classic insight into the trollish mentality?

A.K.A. "Crab bucket Syndrome". Endemic in the UK. An excellent exposition of which is outlined in Terry Pratchett's 'Unseen Academicals'

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

In praise of.....

Now it's not often I write to praise someone without having to see them buried, but today I am looking at the blessings count tick rapidly upwards with a "How the hell did I get this lucky?" grin on my face.

It's difficult sometimes to encapsulate the enormity of someone else's achievement when very few can understand the precise ramifications. Only those who have ever laboured over thankless tasks can envisage what a simple step can mean, not for one person, but for an entire family.

Just over a week ago, a seven year old boy finally began to read. Yeah, okay, fine, you might say, what is so momentous about that? Reading isn't such a big deal, I do it all the time, so what's new? Yawn. Spare us the hyperbole, Bill.

All right. Here's the story. The details are obscured for reasons of confidentiality, but one of the key players is my own very clever wife, Mrs S, who runs a modest personal tutoring service.

Several months ago, Mrs S was engaged to help with the reading for a low literacy family. Specifically for the youngest of the clan, who has been very slow in coming to read, and as a by product had a lot of poorly directed energy. In short, he was driving his Mother, Father, and two other siblings to distraction. His siblings were falling behind in school because their seven year old little brother was diverting their attention from their studies, his Mother was constantly chiding him, and his Father had become too exasperated with his tantrums to help, so the only attention the little boy got was when he misbehaved. The vicious circle of bad behaviour attention seeking was becoming established with all the attendant strains on the rest of the family.

Other tutors had been hired, but none had been able to crack the attention deficit. The parents relationship was becoming ever more strained. They had run out of ideas.

So what has happened? What has a little boy learning to read got to do with it? Read on, and all will become plain. The boy didn't want to read. He only liked the pictures in comics and ignored the text. It was not that he couldn't, it was that he wouldn't. Subsequently, without enough to engage his own innate intelligence he became bored stiff, and took out that boredom on the rest of his family. There hangs the key to this tale.

Without learning to read, as an adult he would be doomed to remain at the bottom of the job pile, forever scratching a living in low status jobs and squandering his talents. Perhaps he might drift into substance abuse or dealing. Without the ability to search for information he would never know the revelation of a new idea, gleaned from his own study. In short, his bright spark of intelligence would be wasted, and no doubt pissed on by others whose only status comes from bullying those they see as lesser souls. All through his young life his mother and father would struggle, and grieve that they had somehow 'failed' their child. Perhaps the strain on their relationship would cause a split, forever screwing up the lives of his two older siblings. Who can forsee these outcomes? Yet the likelihood is that they would not be happy ones.

Bringing up children, especially not your own, can easily become a destruction test of any relationship. When you are helplessly struggling against the riptide of a disruptive child, it's even worse.

A couple of months ago, Mrs S was hired to visit twice a week. She began by reading to the boy, which didn't work. He was distracted and wouldn't pay attention. She talked to him about reading. "Books are boring!" He would protest. Reading was seen by him as something unmanly, which was why his mother could not read to him, and because he was too disruptive, his father would not try. So Mrs S engaged with him, talking to him about what he thought he knew and how he saw the world. At no time did she ever directly challenge his beliefs, because then, in the words of his mother, the 'shutters would go up' and the cause would be lost. She recounted these long rambling conversations with me, and even I could see the massive obstacles to the boys future. She told me of her frustrations, what tactics she'd used and how they had failed, until a few days ago, when she finally found a book that engaged the boys interest enough to get him to sit still for five minutes and simply listen. What the book was doesn't matter, as what will engage and enervate one will simply bore another. Suffice it to say, it took Mrs S four weeks of exploring bookshops and the Library to find the right combination. Once he had listened, he wanted to find out for himself. Once he began to hunt and peck through the streams of words, his reading acuity progressed rapidly.

A week ago, she pried overt permission for the boy to read in bed. According to his Mother, he began to read himself to sleep. The dogs, ever the barometer of the household, began to greet Mrs S like an old friend and pack member whenever she arrived for a her bi-weekly tutoring session, not barking when she arrived, but milling around with wagging tails before settling. Previously they had always barked in those short, choppy 'stranger coming' barks that dogs use when they are anxious or perturbed.

Last night, Mrs S told me triumphantly, for the first time, a father read his son a bedtime story. The boys father had wanted to do this for a long time but his son had always pushed him away with his bad behaviour. Now the Father sat down at the end of the day because his son insisted, begged even. "Read to me Daddy." So the Father did. Today his Mother read to him in front of Mrs S. Also for the first time. Then the boy began to read, and later sat still and listened attentively while others read to him. He has discovered the pleasures of narrative.

In this I think my wife has done something remarkable that may save a life, help prevent a break up, and perhaps even give better futures to not one, but three children. Just by getting one disruptive boy to read.

For this alone I believe my wife is worthy of praise. I am glad to say without even a trace of irony, "All hail Mrs S!"

I count myself truly fortunate to be married to her.

Odd sights

One of the things we don't see around here is large ships. Tankers, Container ships, Cruise ships. The biggest marine traffic we normally get is log booms.

Yet last night and this morning there was a big bulk carrier / tanker anchored saucy as you please just north of Thetis and Kuiper Islands. That's going to annoy the various eco-resorts down at Yellowpoint and scattered around all the other Islands in the neighborhood. Besides, I'm not sure it's deep enough around here to accommodate such vessels. Those things have the turning circle of a minor moon and the various passages between the Islands are a little on the tight side for anything bigger than a fifty metre Gin Palace.

This should get interesting.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Cosy

Wind warning for the Eastern side of Vancouver Island means the rain and wind are howling round the houses this evening. I can hear it washing the last of last weeks warble gloaming into the ditches. Never mind, we're due for some more sometime around the weekend. Feels like that first snowfall was just a rehearsal.

Inside the Sticker household all is cosy. Log fire pumping out heat while I laze on the sofa. Dog snoozing at my feet, ear half cocked at the clicking of my old laptops keyboard. I'm having a nice evening after a pleasant supper of Cottage pie. Although if you listen to some creeps currently chuntering at Cancun, that should be a crime. They want WW2 style rationing to 'save the planet'.

Well I've got an idea, why don't we ration climate conferences? You know, on the WW2 basis of 'is your journey really necessary?' Let's have austerity level budgets for certain faculties. Post office bicycles only for tenured professors, research assistants have to get a bus with all the heaters removed. Perhaps if it's getting so warm, globally speaking, let's make some 'carbon friendly' savings by cutting off the heating and air conditioning to particular Climate research faculties. Set an example you chaps. Put your money where your mouth is. Show us how to live in austerity. Do some actual physical poverty research to calculate real-world impacts. A proper empirical study should do the trick. Say a ten year programme to monitor specific effects of long term austerity programmes. This is stuff we need to know. Do climate scientists make good popsicle material when you've removed all their doors and windows? I'm sure there are many who'd like to see what happens to those at Hadley CRU and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change when the notorious East Anglian 'lazy wind' blows unfettered through their department all Winter. This is cutting edge stuff here, and in addition it's truly, eco-virtuously 'carbon neutral'. Come on guys, show us how it's done. You never know, we might even follow your example. On the other hand of course.........

In the meantime, I'll just keep on being cosy. Ho hum. Time for another log on the fire. Life is so hard.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Hottest year on record......... Not

Keep on hearing that this year is apparently the 'hottest on record'. Where? Certainly not locally or in the UK, despite hearing that politicians with all the intellectual nous of roadkill are committed to the 'low carbon economy'. Or should that read 'should be committed'. What with the current cold snap, the declarations that it's been the 'hottest year ever' look increasingly like someone's 'avin a larf.

Summer was definitely cooler this year, both in the UK and on Vancouver Island, not to mention in the southern hemisphere, where sub tropical rivers lost half their reptile population to the cold. Sorry guys, I just can't see this global warming that's going to kill my grandchildren. I can forsee them having to take up Winter sports for much of the year, but drowning because the sea levels are rising, or dying of heat exhaustion? No.

Tell you the truth, I'm more concerned that the North Korean business will turn into a real shooting war with genuine value added nuclear fallout with a side order of Iranian attack and Israeli pre-emptive strike. That Ahvegottadinnerjacket character with all his talk of 'Ambassadors of Death' might just prove nutty enough to pull the nuclear trigger, as might the North Koreans. The fallout from that little show would definitely put a crimp in everybody's day.

Although having looked at the situation a bit more closely, I get the impression that the current North / South Korea spat is one of those high testosterone bits of sabre rattling that the North Koreans appear to be fond of. Same for the Iranians.

Perhaps we'll all get lucky and one of their cheap 'n nasty missiles will detonate on the pad, demonstrating to the world how flaming dangerous these things truly are, and why little boys should not play with such fireworks. A few square kilometres of vitrified landscape might prove a sober reminder to such regimes that Nuclear war is the biggest lose-lose scenario going, and besides dahlings, it's sooo twentieth century.

On the upside, such an event would certainly put the whole global warming bandwagon on the back burner. With even the loony Huhne in Cancun and cohorts might be given pause. Additionally I'm told the weather down there ain't so hot as it usually is. Currently cloudy and wet all week, according to the local forecast. Those delegates who'd planned to hit the beach are in for a disappointing stay methinks.

You know, on reflection, it would be even more apposite if Al-Quaeda managed to smuggle a warhead into the climate conference and set it off. A bit of a shame for Cancun, as I'm told it can be very nice down there, but getting rid of all those delegates would mean that the average intelligence of politicians might go up a percentage point on average and take people's minds off the current wikileaks scandal.

Hmm. There's a thought to conjour with. Think of it as evolution in action.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Friday, 26 November 2010

David Cameron's party just lost my vote for good

I wrote to my UK constituency MP (A Conservative) raising a concern. Specifically about the funding of torture child porn on the taxpayer dollar. Particularly the recent controversial 10:10 video. By way of a reply I was deliberately insulted. In an official reply on House of Commons notepaper. I was patronised as well, but that I can cope with.

Now having taken gigatonnes of verbal crap on the streets of Britain for three years, you might think that I'm relatively immune to insults. Not so. You develop a thicker skin for the workaday, but there are places you don't expect abuse from. Your MP is one. It comes as a bit of a shock. Revelatory even.

As for returning the insult a la swearblogger, I think not. I will not return that specific insult because to play that game I'd have to turn my brain off.

If that particular MP wants votes at the next election, he might have to work very hard indeed to win his safe seat back. Reputation counts for a lot in my old stamping ground, and I'll be busy spreading the word in private. Disrespecting your constituents, even expatriates, is a lose-lose game.

By contrast, my local Canadian MLA and MP are both NDP, and although I don't agree with their politics, they are both splendid people who put constituency first. In the absence of a worthwhile opposition, they will have my vote. When I finally get one, that is.

In Britain it seems views not in keeping with party policy are often treated with open contempt. By Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems, anyone not an independent. Gordon Brown did it in public, the rest of them do it out of the public view. So long as they're in power it seems, they don't give a monkeys.

A good reason not to use Facebook

One of the news services I subscribe to is the specialist legal site Out-law.com run by legal eagles Pinsent Masons which can be pretty useful for keeping up to date with the latest on legal matters pertaining to the jolly old interweb.

One of the latest wheezes with regards to using those apparently oh so user fiendish friendly NHS services is if you have a Facebook profile. The bulk of the story is here, and includes this quotation*:
"Facebook capturing data from sites like NHS Choices is a result of Facebook’s own system," said a Department of Health statement. "When users sign up to Facebook they agree Facebook can gather information on their web use. NHS Choices privacy policy, which is on the homepage of the site, makes this clear."
Apparently if you haven't logged out of your Facebook profile properly (Just closing the browser window doesn't count), then go browsing the NHS database for details of an embarrassing little ailment you'd rather no-one else knew about, Facebook get to know all about it. Isn't that sweet?
Now you know why I went to extremes to delete my entire Facebook profile.

*Published under the 'fair use' provisions of the copyright act to draw attention to or comment upon the article in question, so there guv'nor, gor blimey, luv a duck, it's a fair cop, innit?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Activism masquerading as news

Blood and sand. Just when you thought that it was all over, the hydra of catastrophic man made climate change grows another head. No doubt those very clever chaps over at Wattsupwiththat will take one look and go "Nonsense." before systematically deconstructing the paper in question. In the meantime, lazy cut and paste journalists will repeat the assertions without fact checking, but what's new?

It's just another example of activism masquerading as news. Blatant misrepresentation if you will. No wonder trust in the lamestream media is draining away faster than water from a plugless bathtub.

You don't see the far more well constructed work of Henrik Svensmark given such uncritical treatment in the press. Well, maybe it doesn't fit the agenda, eh? Anyone who doesn't agree with said agenda is automatically tagged with the sub literate soubriquet 'denier'. Which just goes to show that the whole catastrophic meme is politics rather than science, activism rather than real news.

"Nooooo, it's still getting warmer!" Claim the activists as they see the money tap begin to run dry. Yet the weather continually makes mockery of their assertions. Single weather events like the current cold snap may not be climate, as the activists are fond of telling everyone, but climate eventually becomes made up of weather. There have been too many colder than usual years recently to blithely dismiss like that.

Oh well, throw another log on the fire. Have to keep from freezing to death somehow.

Melting

A minor thaw has set in this afternoon, which has meant tranches of snow is sliding off the roof with a sound like someone is shifting particularly heavy items of furniture about up top followed by mini avalanches grumbling down onto the deck. Dog is fretting, and has taken to skulking in the bathroom with his head tucked behind the toilet. God knows why he does this, because this fright of loud noises isn't anything he got from us.

It being what we call a 'snow day' when everything bar essential services shuts down, I've been upping my intellectual input by watching 'Jude the Obscure'. Unfortunately, our technology has given up in protest, and our cheap little DVD player refuses to play any more. Got to the scene where Jude's illegitimate son is paraded in front of his new wife to be before it stopped and the power light began to flash rapidly. Who says machines don't have some sensitivity? Apparently ours baulks at overlong BBC productions of Thomas Hardy novels, although it will quite cheerfully play Ciaran Hinds' performance in the 'Mayor of Casterbridge'. Yet stuff what is a visually unblemished copy of Jude the Obscure in and the damn thing goes on strike. Definitely weird.

Yet another post on intrusive security checks

Now as far as I'm concerned, if one person has to go through a full security screening, there should be no exceptions. No politician, celebrity, anyone should be spared the indignity of a full body scan / 'pat down' if all the rest of those passing through an airport have to do so. This includes their entire entourage.

If there's no discrimination for us 'lower orders', then there should be no exception for anyone else. Only fair isn't it? Anything else is just elitist, and isn't that very bad?

What use is a dog?

Now I'm a 'dog' person (I also like cats, but that's by-the-by), I grew up with a dog in the house, and feel that a dog is the best barometer of a household. I've also formed the opinion that a place where people live is less of a home without a dog. They are a symptom of life and useful gauge of happiness. Especially a crossbreed or 'Mutt'. Pedigrees are a bit more tricky, having been bred mostly to a specific function and generally speaking host to a temperament which can be best described as 'Mercurial'.

Notwithstanding, my own preference is for a 'Mutt', with all their eccentricities. If dogs can be used as a reflection of their owners nature, then mine is a friendly and sometimes over enthusiastic goofball. However, when it comes to being useful, that ball of fur slumped in the office doorway earns his home and comfort just by being who he is.

My dog more than earns his keep as guardian and friend. Apart from his predilection for silent but deadly farts when Mrs S and I decide to watch a little televisual entertainment, he makes a great footwarmer on cold evenings. His hearing is many times more sensitive than a humans, warning of visitors before they get halfway up the drive. His sense of smell has an acuity many times more than the most accurate human, and possibly way more discriminating than any man made device. Although what is Chanel No 5 to him (Bear and Deer droppings) are something he and I will have to disagree on. Yet his sense of smell has prevented household fires and several other potentially hazardous situations. Yes, a good mutt is hard to beat, and mine is a good 'un.

It matters not that his lifespan is much shorter than mine, and that I will grieve terribly when he dies at the age of 17 or so years. More so because it will be me who finally has to hold him in my arms as he draws his last doggy breath. We will have had the shared joy of life, and a new pooch will have been found before then both to give him company and for him to train in the ways of master and house in his declining years, and so our parting will not be such a yawning chasm of loss.

On a slightly connected topic, having watched the growing furore over the invasive and insensitive TSA body searches and scans wonder why the hell more dogs have not been employed in US airports. Yet for all their shortfalls, as a first line of defence they are the best tool in the box. Instead of the tiresome 'everyone has to be scanned' mentality, why aren't the Yanks using a more layered response? At Vancouver airport there's always a dog or two on patrol, and being walked past a trained animal who can detect explosives more readily than a human with a backscatter x-ray device should be more effective. One or two animals walked around the departure gates are not only a first line alert for filtering out the bad guys, but also get round the massive queuing issues that make air travel such a chore.

I'm sure there are people out there who are cynophobic, or have a cultural bias against dogs, but they are in a minority and would have to go through the body scanner regardless. I know dogs aren't infallible, but they're a good first line of defence. If everyone goes through the metal detectors anyway, the airport queues move faster and still filter out the nutters who think that blowing aircraft out of the sky with them on board is somehow very intelligent. This may be unfair to some, but far better a little unfairness to a few, than a great deal to many, as at present.

A well placed dog can help get round quite a number of security issues on a number of levels. Either as a detector or deterrent. So, dogs are useful. Even flop eared, goofy, and occasionally smelly pets like mine. We need more of them. Especially when the enemy doesn't like them much.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Brrr!

Just picked this little weather warning up for the next 24 hours. Now the guys on the prairies will view 5-15cm of snow as risible and barely worth a mention, but they tend to get a more powdery snow than us in our more maritime climate. Snow over on the Island tends to be heavy and wet by comparison to the stuff they get further east. It also compacts into ice very quickly, which compounds any hazard.

However, chez Sticker is fully equipped for all eventualities, even student protests, although the one we mainly get is along the lines of "Awwww Mum!" Our two have their flights booked and paid for, and are busy trying to get themselves organised enough to spend the festering season with us, grandparents, Aunts and friends. That's Canada, Northern England and France. All right for some, eh?

Them that's fightin words

The following rebuttal is mine alone. I do not speak for my husband, for my friends, for my children, but solely for myself.

I am tired of being told to sit down and shut up.

I am tired of being told what I can and can not say.

What is “acceptable”, while my ideas and values are mocked and trampled.
Wow. That's one pissed off military mother. The lady's plain, no-nonsense eloquence is quite frankly startling.

H/T Celestial Junk

Baby it's cold outside

Minus six to be precise, and no surcease forecast for the next day or so. Now I know for our hardier brethren out on the prairies that's still shorts and T-shirts weather, but for us softies here on Vancouver Island it's cold!

Log fire is lit 24/7, and yesterday our venerable old Battlebuses starter solenoid was frozen solid, so last night I rigged up the block heater to prevent the wind chill freezing the engine. For those not familiar with the device, a block heater is an electrical heating system you plug into the mains which keeps the engine compartment above freezing for easy cold starts.

Aside from that, it's business as usual. The new Winter tyres are making easy travelling on the snow and ice, and we're getting where we need to be. No problemo.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Oh no they're not....

From the seemingly never ending archive of warble gloaming pantomime, this blast from the past.

The view from my kitchen window 21st November 2010 around eight in the morning....

Yeah, right....

Respect and H/T to Donna Laframboise

Temperatures went below minus five Celsius this afternoon, and are prophesied to hit below minus 12 tonight. More warble gloaming expected on Friday and Saturday. My snow shovel is at the ready, all weather tyres are on the Battlebus, and the log store is full of seasoned wood. Warm clothing has been purchased. About the only thing we haven't got for the cold weather is a pair of skis and we're on the same damn latitude as here.

No more snowfalls - my arse!

Unnecessary


Picked up via Drudge. They employ perverts at airport security checks now?

Is this real? What half witted excuse for a perverted paedophile thought they should strip search a child in public for heavens sake? What the hell do the TSA think they're doing? There's a classic class action waiting for an ambitious Tort lawyer right there.

It goes without saying that the child in question was not an 'ethnic'. The cack-handed TSA is becoming America's shame.

Our girls are coming over for Christmas, and one connection on a very reasonably priced flight, meant that they would have to go through such a security check as the connection was at Chicago's O'Hare airport. Needless to say, we went for the very much more expensive direct flight option. My Sister in Law will be here for Christmas, and she's talking about driving all the way from Minnesota rather than submit to these unnecessary procedures.

For crying out loud, one guy got arrested for stripping as a protest at the crotch level pat downs. This situation has gone past satire into WTF! territory without breaking step.

One is minded to remark at this point that Israeli flyers have the highest security risk in the world, and their checks are far less intrusive, and far more cost effective.

P.S. Here's the Eyetube version if Youtube shut the vid down.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Winging it

Well, if you listen to some sources, those who believe in the sovereign rights of the individual are filthy 'right wing' scum. Ookay, does this mean that the following tenets of liberty are evil, such as the right of individuals to;
a) Control their own lives and bodies
b) Own pretty much what they want from their own efforts
c) Talk to who they like, when they like
d) Go where they want
So long as no one does witting harm to others, and makes reparation for same if they do.

So that belief set is somehow very bad, eh?

Hmm....... Yet when you weigh up the alternatives, like;
a) Cradle to grave subjugation by others
b) Collectivisation, regardless of contribution
c) No right to opinions or associations but those approved by 'superiors'
d) Travel and recreation only if sanctioned by 'superiors'
Well, that doesn't seem so great to me. Besides, hasn't this type of society been tried several times during the 20th century and failed miserably? If it was so great, then why did the Soviets need Gulags for dissidents?

No, if Liberty and belief in the rights of the individual is 'right-wing' then I'm a filthy right wing scumbag (Swivel-eyed only when specifically called upon - as my Mum said; "If the wind changes you'll stick like it") and proud of it.

Here endeth the Sunday sermon.
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