Friday, 29 May 2009

Why it's all going wrong

I keep on reading repeated stories in the UK press about 'over zealous' Council Officials making ordinary folks lives a misery, like 'elf 'n safety zombies who enforce seemingly ridiculous rules or Parking Attendants who stick tickets on everything in sight. Writing as one who is familiar with the labyrinthine workings of Local (Mis)government; I feel I may be able to offer a little insight to the Byzantine process that has led to this sorry state of affairs.

The whole business of dealing with British Local Government can be compared to metaphorically stamping upon the proverbial Brontosaurus, (all right, Apatosaurus if you have to be pedantic) tail. Now Local Government in the UK acts very much like the aforesaid giant Jurassic reptile in that it is

a) Unwieldy
b) Slow
c) Heavy on the fuel (Or council tax - very little bang per buck)
d) Overall, not terribly bright

Regarding point d; while individuals within the structure might be in their ordinary off duty lives terribly bright, witty, engaging companions who are a delight to encounter; the procedures that they are forced to oversee / implement are so bereft of the natural adaptability of the human animal that they make any individual who is involved in the process appear like a congenital dullard following a frontal lobotomy. Everything is designed by a committee, and anyone who has ever been project managed by a committee knows how desperate a situation that can be.

Up until the day I left the UK, I was a keen observer of this process at close quarters. The process would go as follows;

Step 1: Person with bee in bonnet (Read, frothingly over the insanity event horizon and accelerating) perceives an 'injustice', real or imagined and gets on their high horse about it 'raising community awareness' (Being a pain in the arse). Person with bee in bonnet becomes Persons with bees in bonnets without any real solution to the perceived problem; that's generally 'somebody else's problem' (Read; the 'government should do something' or 'there should be a law, innit?'). No one gets off their arse and spends ten minutes of their own time doing something pro-active.
Step 2: Person with bee in bonnet bothers local Councillors etc so hard it becomes almost a meme that 'something must be done' even though it is patently obvious that the effect of proposed changes may have an overall negative effect.
Step 3: Harassed at every turn by Person(s) with bee in bonnet, Councillors (Anything for a quiet life) meet to discuss perceived problem. They come to a decision before sloping off for a nice soiree at one of the many 'do's' they get invited to. Said decision is not often a workable solution and more usually arbitrary and completely obtuse. Usually because those making the decisions are well insulated from their immediate effect.
Step 4; A professional (And highly qualified) Manager is recruited to fulfill the task created by all this decision making. Said 'Manager' is generally selected for their complete lack of imagination, humour, and people skills. All that counts are the examinations they've passed. Once hired, they are given taxpayers money and told to fulfill their allotted task.
Step 5; Bodies are hastily recruited to fit the general tasks required by the overall purpose, and a set of hastily agreed guidelines for the undertaking of their duties. The 'Bodies' recruited (I know because I used to be such a 'body') are informed in no uncertain terms upon threat of summary dismissal that they must do what they are told because they have no initiative whatsoever. Bodies are then set loose on an unsuspecting public, 'doing what they are told'. Said Bodies have no choice in the matter if they want to keep drawing wages. They are told to stick parking tickets on everything in sight by Manager. Manager tells them how to do their job, or else.

Predictably, chaos ensues. Mainly because the Councillors (Mostly Political placemen), Manager, and 'Bodies' seem to lack an understanding of the problem they were supposed to solve, or are prevented from doing so by 'diversity' or 'health & safety' guidelines imposed by Central Government. Not to mention the inordinate amount of buck passing and issue dodging that goes on behind the scenes.

For those who insist that the 'government should do something', well they have. The results are all around you.

Thank goodness we don't have so much of that attitude in Canada.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

More on insanity

Bugger! Tin foil hats don't really stop the Government, military and big business reading your mind according to this amusing little vid and some researchers at MIT. Instead there may be cause to believe that said apparel is amplifying the thoughts of the slightly unhinged. Ah but that's what 'they' want you to believe isn't it? ROFL. More spilled coffee.

I thought it was getting a bit noisy around here. Can you guys keep the noise down please?

H/T 'Hunter' on the wattsupwithat comment thread

Mad, am I?

As one who is used to looking at the realities of life and making my own, fairly logical but often sarcastic judgments, I read these letters and articles in the UK Times and Telegraph and almost spilled my morning coffee. Essentially what these people are saying is that if you don't believe what they do you're a candidate for the booby hatch, you know, that cosy little room in the secure wing with your own stylishly tailored straitjacket. No doubt the accompanying electroshock 'therapy' to 'cure' one of any pesky 'denialist' tendencies would be merely a customer service add-on. Nothing to worry one's fussy little head over, eh? How stupid do they think people are?

For the final time, as I'm getting very bored with people saying 'it's all humanity's fault'; the climate changes, and the evidence so far suggests that we have very little real or long term effect on it. For proof, look at the historical records of climate since say the Roman period, or does that leave one open to accusations of 'Cherry-picking' data? Why not since the Holocene? Bugger, no SUV's. No real human activity either. Next!

There is no / will not be any / man made climate catastrophe. The correlation of CO2 emissions to the climate is an unproven, unprovable hypothesis, the erroneous portrayal of which has been definitively shot down in a British court of law. CO2 driven Anthropogenic Climate Change isn't even a theory, as theories demand proofs, and the only 'proofs' the alarmists have are woefully inadequate and incomplete data models and suspiciously fudged data. McKittrick and McIntyre proved that with their demolition of Mann's infamous 'Hockey stick' graph. Lord Monckton of Brenchley's erudite and even handed presentation 'Apocalypse No' shows quite clearly that the continually hyped 'effects' of global warming just aren't there. A regular visit to the pages of wattsupwithat will show the intellectual heavy hitters constantly demolishing each new 'proof' of CO2 driven climate change as it pops out of the woodwork. It's like watching a cerebral version of 'whack-a-mole'.

Real climate scientists who no longer have to worry about their political masters pulling their pensions / funding are saying AGW is all bunkum. In fact the only people really pushing said agenda are politically motivated. It is politics, not science that is pushing the Anthropogenic CO2 side of the argument. You only have to look at who is really advancing said agenda to understand that.

As for 'the debate is over'. Well, yes it is. The Alarmist case is not proven. We are more at risk from Near-Earth Asteroids.

As for the assertion that denial of their case is a mental illness, well I wouldn't say I'm mad, just continually mildly irritated by those who insist that we're all doomed unless we 'go green' and totally stop producing CO2. In my darker moments I have thought that I would like those who are pushing the anthropogenic argument to show me how it's done by way of a demonstration. They could stop exhaling CO2 for a start. Oh, and demonstrate how to stop 'outgassing' of CO2 from the oceans while you're at it. That would be a good trick.

I readily agree that we should be cutting air and water borne pollution and not overfishing the oceans. These are threats that we can and should be doing something about. CO2 is, within certain parameters, beneficial to plant growth. The rest we should have to get used to and adapt, which is what humans are really good at.

To conclude; the only people in 'denial' here are those who still 'believe' we are in for repeated climate catastrophe due to man made CO2 emissions. They have no proof.

Gentlemen, take away the fool(s).

Monday, 25 May 2009

Day off?

Having grafted like a good 'un all weekend and successfully delivered my project to customer I announced to Mrs S that I would be taking Monday off. Some day off it's been. Customer rings to say that their email has crashed and they need the file now (Why is your crashed email suddenly my problem?). However, being the obliging sort that I am, off I trot and deliver full package on a data key. This has taken half a dozen phone calls and emails and a shattered leisure schedule to arrange. Mrs S told me on the phone at lunchtime that we have to be in Vancouver on Saturday and that "The logistics will be down to you, Bill." I have booked the ferry, the dog sitting service, planned the directions and approaches to our destination.

Then I look at the tide tables to see if there is any point hiking up to a decent fishing spot for a little 'me' time with rod and line. Phone calls have been coming in left right and centre. No chance of that then.

"Bugger it." thought I. "I might as well clean the apartment while I'm at it." So I did. Now I'm signing off because I've got another appointment I didn't get told about, and I've missed yet another because of that. Some day off.


Read yesterday that the UK's 'tough new immigration rules' had successfully thwarted a dire terrorist threat in the shape of several Canadian Musicians. Well can I say on behalf of both myself and Mrs S that we are arse squirmingly embarrassed to have anything to do with both the people who drafted those rules and the barely trained chimps who got the job of enforcement. The Airport authority must have recruited the officers concerned from the ranks of Parking Attendant rejects, and that's pretty dumbed down.

We would both like to say 'sorry' to the Canadian people and our fellow dwellers on Vancouver Island. The current UK authorities responsible for this debacle are really nothing to do with us or the expatriate British community over here. In fact they're partly the reason for our leaving the UK. We're truly very, very sorry about the complete incompetence displayed by both the UK immigration rule drafters and the implementers. I mean come on! Canada is a friendly nation, an ally. How dumb can you get?

Now I'm going to go and hide, and if found claim to be Irish, Australian or a New Zealander. Anything but English. How do I feel about the UK now? To quote Brian Chapman playing King Arthur in 'Monty Python and the Holy grail'; "On second thoughts let's not go to Camelot, it is a silly place."

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Magic potions

Every family has them; a favoured 'cure-all' type drink that soothes the savage breast and restores one's inner world to equilibrium without recourse to the pharmacopoeia. A panacea to be applied as a first strike front line defence against every malaise of flesh and soul. Nothing fancy, but just one of those folk remedies to help the body fight all types of lurgi, dreaded or otherwise.

What with all the stresses and strains of immigration documentation, tantrums and maliciousness from elderly relatives; not to mention an up and coming French exam for Mrs S next week, sleep is becoming an increasingly rare commodity. She's restive and I end up with flailing elbows in my ribs (and other sensitive areas) at three in the morning. Then she's grumpy all day despite all my Machiavellian japes and capers designed to restore smiles to her features and thus a measure of domestic harmony so I can concentrate on my work. I can't ignore her when she's in a bad mood because that only makes things worse.

The Sticker clan all time favourite restorative has to be hot milk and honey (Or syrup) drunk just prior to turning out the lights. A teaspoon of honey (or syrup) in a mug, then boil some milk and stir into the honey / whatever. Paracetamol or Aspirin may be taken at the same time in case of feverishness, or just to send you off to a sound nights repose after a stressful day. It's surprisingly effective. Flu? Hot milk and honey at bedtime. Stressed out? Bubonic Plague? Ebola? (Well, maybe not) Hot milk and honey at bedtime. Rarely fails to bring at least a measure of improvement. As folk remedies go, it's a winner.

For more serious afflictions there is the 'hot toddy'; my version of which is 50:50 Jamesons and hot water to be drunk at a measured pace while still hot. The theory behind this is that the hot water vaporises some of the alcohol while it is being imbibed allowing more ready absorption by the various mucosa; nose, mouth, throat, stomach. As a quick way of getting a concentrated hit of knock out juice into the system, it's quite effective. Some folk authorities will add honey and herbs to the mix, but for my side of the family it was always received wisdom that this a) Was rather gilding the lily, and b) Ruined the taste of the whiskey.

Thus it was that last night I dug into my armory of restoratives and went for the double barreled approach. Hot toddy followed by hot milk and honey delivered in quick succession.

Well it worked for me. Both Mrs S and I slept through in granite like repose from eleven last night till seven this morning. This morning I feel clear headed and alert, ready to face whatever rigours the day may hold. Mrs S will have her morning mug of tea shortly, dog will be fed and walked, and the project I have to deliver Monday morning will be operational and complete with bells and whistles.

Tote that barge, lift that bale. Yah mule.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Rocks threatening my relationships

I am not a happy man. I am unhappy for a signal reason. Mrs S, to whom I am devoted besides all else has been in tears. The root cause has been my Mother in law. My infantile, manipulative, egocentric Mother in law. My words were chosen with great care and are an accurate description of the parent in question.

Today we have spent most of our time escorting her to do whatever she wanted, which isn't much. I personally went out of my way to get her what she needed only to have a tearful tantrum worthy of a two year old with ADHD thrown in my face. My reaction to such overt ungraciousness was instant and would have been applied even had she been my own Mother. "Don't throw a paddy at me!" I snapped. "Pull that one more time and I won't take you out again." I'd been trying to help her choose a new walking stick at the time (In the fifth store for that one specific purpose). Mrs S was not impressed I could tell.

We left Mother in law at Sister in laws apartment where she is staying as she requested. Sister in law is well off, and has a nice residence in the middle of town with sea views and all mod cons. We cannot make use of it because of my dog, but Mother in law is there because Sister in law wants it so. We are below the salt in her estimation because Sister in law has a high flying job in the USA which pays lots of dosh. I am merely a Technician, and Mrs S a Teacher. We get by, just.

This evening Sister in law calls via Skype just as I'm going out for a walk with the dog. I come back from walking dog to find Mrs S on the verge of tears. She's wandering about the house complaining about how untidy everything is and how there's no space for everything. I'm supposed to deliver a project on Monday, and I can't focus on my work while Mrs S is muttering and throwing things about. In the end she is having a full blown crying fit and I have to shout at her to get her attention.

Shouting at my beloved is not something that I do lightly. She is my raison d'etre, my core, my most precious jewel. In my eyes she always shines and I am truly proud as a man can be of her. Yet she is muttering about Sister in law making her feel inadequate.

After half an hour of holding my tearful other self in my arms and talking softly to her, I found out that Mother in law phoned Sister in law and has been telling lies about Mrs S. Sister in law has been taking Mrs S to task about it. Hence the tears.

Well, Mother in law goes back to England in just over three weeks and as far as I'm concerned she can stay there. All previous promises regarding bringing her over once our Permanent Residency is approved are hereby revoked. All bets are off. I will not have my dearest one reduced to tears by some manipulative old crone every second day of every week for no better reason than the old woman isn't getting precisely what she wants at the very instant she wants it, and I'm damned sure I won't tolerate having tantrums thrown at me for no good reason. I've successfully helped steer two adolescent girls through to womanhood and I've had quite enough of that kind of behaviour thank you very much.

A promise may be a promise, but there are limits.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Sleepless nights

Don't know what's wrong with me recently. I've been having trouble sleeping. The past three nights I've found myself awake at three in the morning staring at the ceiling.

Maybe it's just dealing with all the immigration bumf that's doing it. Every day seems to bring a form that requires editing / filling in, and every area of my life feels uncomfortably under some kind of microscope. Then there's Mother in law and the constant case conferences via skype between Mrs S and her two sisters. All I know is that I feel hemmed in, unable to make a move without causing major domestic upset.

The best analogy I can think of is that it's like trying to sleep on one of those very itchy polyester covered couches. The one's with that awful faux-wool polyester coarse weave and seat cushions that go from too hard to no support seemingly overnight.

While unpleasantly awake have been watching the shenanigans from the UK Parliament and the Speakers resignation. The UK is well overdue for a general election in my opinion. That and a thorough de-Quangoing. Far too many people in Government doing jobs which don't really need doing. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Strong stuff

I may be watching the Parliament Square webcam early morning PST to see if Dick Puddlecotes pretty little speech (Found via Old Holborn) turns out to be more than mere disaffection. Why Saturday though? Surely midweek would be a better time to catch all the MP's actually at Parliament, because the troughers concerned will all be cowering far away in their constituency 'second homes' or on junkets over the weekend.

On second thoughts, bugger that. I'm going fishing. That's what Saturday is for. If these guys really want a revolution, they should learn that you can't apply bankers hours to insurrection.

Monday, 18 May 2009


How does someone spend GBP18,800 on food? Even over four years. I thought food wasn't an 'allowable' expense anyway?

During my contracting days, had I tried to claim anything like that from my company HMRC (At the time still the Inland Revenue and H M Customs) would have come down on me like a large amount of red rectangular building objects. So how come UK MP's can snatch that much from the public purse without sanction? I used to claim mileage off site, yes; overnight expenses such as hotel bills (Up to fifty quid a night), yes; a Burger King for supper, with bacon butty and red bull breakfasts snatched while on the road to the next client site. Entertaining if you could prove it was job related squeaked through the books occasionally. Anything more and my accountants tended to send me cutting little reminders about the current expenses allowable under HMRC rules. Oh yes, and the downtime between jobs which you spent looking for more work, spending cash from an ever dwindling reserve. Although I shouldn't really complain, that life funded some very nice month plus long holidays in the USA and Europe. Then came ageism and the contracting downturn of 2003. Ah me. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

Then over a years work hiatus led me to take the day job spent walking the streets to pay the bills. Again, no real complaints apart from the damage caused to my feet on account of the crap footwear we were issued with. Now walking anything over six or seven miles at a stretch resurrects phantasms of pain which can almost, two years on, still literally stop me in my tracks. I'd have sued for work related injuries, but for all the time and effort I'd have to put in, I've worked out I'd still be out of pocket at the end of things. Lost working time, court appearances and all the rest. I wasn't the only one to suffer. My Doctor wrote into my medical records without prompting that my injuries were definitely down to work issued footwear.

That's all by the by. I'm just glad to see the bastards who created the economic situation leading to my work related woes begin to get their comeuppance. Blair and Brown and the rest of the New Labour crew all need a spell in chokey for what they did to the UK. But then I could see the current economic mess coming way back in '03 and '04. The same thing that every British Labour Government has ever done; tax and spend money the country hasn't got. Pissing the exchequer up the wall until the kitty was long gone. They'll never change. At least the Tories of the time never had their fingers in the public till as deeply as this current lot have. Trousers round ankles yes, but not to shaft the public finances as deeply as New Labour have.

Notwithstanding, Mrs S and I only stayed in the UK to get our girls settled into Uni. Now we're over here in British Columbia, Canada and working. We've paid our dues and their fees, and with any luck they'll be joining us to bring up the next generation of the clan.

Over here our local MP may be NDP, but I've met him, and he's a solid constituency man, not some rubber stamp party hack. Rather like the MP we used to have back in the UK constituency I once lived in. That's all rather academic.

There's nothing back in the UK I care to go back to. Although if the Parliamentary Labour party and all their special advisers were going to hang by the neck until dead in Parliament Square, London; I might be tempted to fly back and join the jeering mob. Just for a nice short holiday. That reminds me, must look at getting a new video camera with a decent zoom function.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Catch and release

Took a break from my usual fishing spot and hiked to a place where there's a nice steep drop off to deeper water. For a change the fish were biting. The above pair of small Rockfish decided they liked the look of my lure and were promptly landed for a quick photo opportunity before release. Both gave me a reproachful look as I shook them off my hook (No barbs Mr Game Warden, I know the rules, and I was outside all the conservation areas) before returning to the sea they had come from, apparently none the worse for their quick trip up topside.

Fish caught; two
Lures lost; one
Weights lost; two
Reel broken; one

Not a bad mornings piscatorial play really. Well, by my standards at least. The Sardine lures seem to work best, so I'm off to Canadian Tire this afternoon to invest in a batch of the larger version to see if I can catch something a little bigger. I was glad I broke that particular reel, it was bulky and ungainly. I have my old one which is smaller but better with twenty five pound line set up. Who knows? I may even bag myself a Tyee (Local name for a Chinook, Spring or King Salmon of thirty pounds or more).

Any one of these will do just fine.

To do list

Mrs S is being driven to distraction by;

a) Mother in Laws erratic behavior
b) Immigration issues

I recognise that currently there is little or nothing I can do about either. I refuse to pander to Mother in Laws incessant and erratic filibustering, and have filled in all my immigration forms correctly (That should cat the pigeons amongst the put). We are awaiting results of Medicals and French Language tests. There is nothing to be done. Ergo I am taking the only course a rational man can; I have a new fishing rod and the tides await.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Taking my own advice

Got a parking ticket the other day.

Didn't go chasing after the issuing officer to assault, threaten or call the poor bugger names. Didn't rant and rave and tear the piece of paper up. Didn't stick it in a drawer and try to forget it existed.

All I had to do was follow my own advice from two years ago. I simply posted an appeal at the local parking offices an hour after it was issued. All smiling "No problem, it was all a big mistake." attitude towards the desk clerk. There's no sense trying to bully people who've got an unpleasant job to do. Be nice. It's amazing how easy life can become.

Mind you, it was so cheap at the discounted rate of CDN$7.50 (about four quid at current conversion rates) I almost paid up on the spot. However, I thought I'd follow my own teachings just as a matter of principle.

The ticket was, quite predictably, canceled.

As Mrs S commented at the time; "Well Bill, it is your specialist subject."

Thank you dear.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A few notes on Canadian law enforcement

Having been around here for a while, I've been taking a few mental notes about how the RCMP and Canadian police forces do things. It's nothing startling, just stuff I see done over here that works.

I think the major factor is visibility. Mrs S and I were dining in a restaurant the other night, and in pop four armed-to-the-teeth RCMP Officers, for an alarming moment I thought they were after someone, but no, they simply sat down and ordered a meal. Presumably on their break. Before now I've been sitting in Coffee shops locally and five minutes later there's an on street beat meeting between four or five bicycle cops. My thoughts on the matter? Hey, they pay for their own coffee, so why not?

The guns make me a bit edgy, but that's just me. In the past (In the UK) I've had 12 gauge (12 bore) shotguns waved around under my nose, and on one particular nightmare inducing occasion a Smith and Wesson .38, so yes, someone else having a gun when I don't automatically makes me a leedle bit twitchy. However, I'm getting used to the idea of having armed cops around. In a way I find it reassuring.

The main part of the reassurance factor comes from having Police Officers behaving just like regular folks in public instead of simply swooping from unseen heights down to confront evil doers like some comic book superhero. The fact that they are armed with batons, Glock automatics, Tazers, and I think Pepper spray is merely a sign of what they are up against. When one hears of automatic weapons being found at a Cocaine dealers stash in Extension (About ten kilometres south of town) recently, you understand what they have to confront on a day to day basis.

I have always been of the opinion that Law Enforcement is best done at a personal level, and cannot be done at a distance by cameras and other automated devices without alienating the very people it is meant to serve. For law is meant to support the peaceful activities of those it serves, because law should be the servant, not the master. To do otherwise would be to retreat into a kind of modern day feudality where the political classes have the power to remotely manage the day to day lives of the people, and that approach has been tried, tested and found wanting.

For the most part I think, the balance over here is right. It's one of the reasons I like it here in BC. There's something so, well, human about it all.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Did I really pass that?

Certificates arrived from the UK last night, and I leafed through them with an increasing feeling of wild surmise. Did I really pass that? Or that? First class? Good gravy.

Maybe I'm cleverer than I thought.

Now that's a scary notion.

Monday, 11 May 2009

They work for you

Just took this little screen grab of what people are searching for at under popular searches today; 'Gordon Brown', 'Leeches', 'Expenses',and most tellingly, 'hell'. The jig is most definitely up. Well, the party had to end sometime, didn't it?

Asides on the news

Visited the UK news sites last night to find them awash with tales about parliamentary fiddling of expenses (Fiddling? Sounds like the whole bloody string section of the Berlin Philharmonic). All I have to say is; what took you so long boys? People like Guido Fawkes and Wat Tyler have been blogging this stuff for a few years now. You took your own sweet time.

However, the gods rejoice for even one repenting sinner, and as investigative journalism in the UK seems to be undergoing a minor renaissance, a guarded 'well done' to the mainstream media is in order, with the codicil 'don't take so long next time'. Because there will be a next time, human nature being what it is.

Well, at least one sector of the UK economy will be kept going; Her Majesties Revenue and Customs investigation department.

Certain commentators have been asking "What about honour?" Er yes, what about honour? The British concept of honour was effectively despatched many years ago by those revisionist historical academics who took (and still take) great pains to deconstruct heroes from history to suit their own political agenda. The same mindset automatically calls regiments like the Brigade of Ghurka's 'mercenaries', which, having met a few of the gentlemen from Nepal I feel to be a gross misrepresentation and defamation.

A little tale my dad used to tell me about his service as AB Signals on Tank Landing Craft and Minesweepers comes to mind. According to my dad's story, his boat was despatched to pick up a number of American GI's somewhere in Sicily. The shore party found the all the GI's headless. My dad told me that according to the report, a platoon of Ghurka's had been passing through during the night and had killed the GI's because they had mistaken the GI's high legged leather boots for German Jackboots. A case of 'friendly slash' as it were. Notwithstanding, everyone I've ever known who has come into contact with that regiment has nothing but praise for them. This would exclude all those on the opposing side of course.

It is thus with no little rejoicing that I hear ex serving members of the Brigade of Ghurka's are to have the right to take up settlement and / or citizenship in the UK after their service is up. The French do it for those who have served in their Légion étrangère, the United States I believe adopt the same policy towards foreign nationals who sign up in their armed forces, as do the Canadian armed forces. Anyone who serves out their term in that country's armed forces has presumably proved their commitment and value, so why not? Now all the UK politicians have to do is honour the Ghurka's pension rights. Let's face it, when we left UK social services appeared to be throwing money at every illegal immigrant to touch UK soil, and look what that's done. Maybe importing a few thousand people who have demonstrated loyalty and commitment to the UK might do some good.

For me that's all rather academic. I've made my choice and it's Canada. My fondest hope is that any grandchildren our girls present us with will be born Canadian and go on to make the most of the opportunities here.

Sunday, 10 May 2009


Odd feeling this evening. Ended up seeing the latest offering of 'Star Trek' yet have come away a little disappointed. Special effects were brilliant, but I wasn't happy with the suspension of belief that someone could go straight from an academy into commanding a starship unless he was the last crew member alive. It rather spoiled things for me, although mother in law fell asleep (bless) fifteen minutes in.

The above Eagles number carries a lot of emotional baggage for me from the days when all I did was work / travel / eat / sleep for months on end. Mrs S is too busy with her Mother, and both of us are busily processing forms. Can't help feel that something is missing.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Off to the movies

Going to see either Hugh Jackman in the bath (See above), or the new Star Trek Movie tomorrow. We are taking Mother in Law, so this will mean lots of "OOH! What's he doing now?" In the middle of the movie theatre. Mea culpa,mea maxima culpa.

Little Englander

A few years ago, when I promised Mrs S that I would do my level best to help regain her residency of Canada, we were confronted by a tearful Mother in Law who cried "Don't leave me behind!"

At the time I explained to her that no member of our family would be left anywhere if they wanted to be with us, and that Mrs S and I would take care of them as necessary. This appeared to mollify her, and an extended trip was arranged for Mother in law to see if she liked it here in BC. The intention being that we would take care of all her health and pension expenses should she be allowed to stay with us in the future.

Well, the extended trip is here on our doormat and I'm keeping my head down. Mother in law gets taken shopping, to movies, and all around, yet she is curling her lip up at everything. She doesn't like the food, the sun's too bright, we're not there to cook her breakfast in the morning; all that stuff. No major or minor detail of our lives is worthy of praise. "I don't like it." Is the current litany. She can't seem to get her head round the fact that there isn't a Waitrose or Marks and Spencers over this side of the water; and even if a product is the same, well the packaging doesn't look like it does in the UK. There are subtle shifts in flavours she spits out as though they were poison. Nothing is 'right'.

Brother in law has already briefed me that Mother in law is very manipulative, and I can see why. She wants to be looked after by us and no one else, and will not accept anything else. We could beggar ourselves as her servants and she would still not be happy. No wonder Sister in law's consumption of Jack Daniels soared while dear Mother in law was visiting her in the USA.

Well, we have our comeback, and it's a simple but direct "Sorry you don't like it here Mum. We wouldn't have suggested you come over had we known." Cue flight back to the UK in six weeks and no returns. By way of a contrast my mother, Ma Sticker, came over last year and enthused that had she known about BC, and Victoria in particular, she would have brought the whole clan over for good while the Sticker boys were still in short trousers. Yet Mother in law, who gave birth to younger Sister in law when she lived in Quebec, is showing displeasure at many aspects of life here in gorgeous BC. You'd think she would have had the taste for Canadian stuff. Funny the way things turn out isn't it?

Anyway: A quick welcome to the Sidebar to The Lone Voice in Politics and Inspector Leviathan Hobbes the Thinking Policeman in Law Enforcement

Friday, 8 May 2009

A great firefox add on

Recently I've been fuming and cursing at Firefox for being an increasingly slow and unwieldy browser. Watching it load on my ageing PC was like hitting a time warp back to 56k dial-up speeds, as in access web page, walk dog, have a leisurely lunch and then sit down to read the page content. All right, not that bad, but at the observed rate of functionality loss it was getting there. I was considering ditching Firefox as a web browser and trying something a bit lighter on the RAM. Yet the thought of going back to using IE8 or any of the other Internet Explorer incarnations made my upper lip curl in distaste. Chrome is okay, but there's just something about the feel of it that I don't care much for, and my current copy of Safari can be even slower to load than Firefox was.

Now I truly like Firefox as a web browser. It's reasonably secure for my day to day purposes, and up until recently never gave me pause for concern. Yet over the past two months it has been slowing my PC down to the point of outright annoyance; until that is I heard about the NoScript add on. This handy dandy little add on to Firefox blocks all those intrusive little Advertising scripts and returns Firefox to reasonably respectable load speeds and frees your web experience from memory hungry javascript and flash adverts. It has the minor inconvenience of blocking YouTube videos, but nothing that can't be accessed with a couple of convenient mouse clicks.

I like it. It works. My only wish is that I'd heard of it sooner.

As an aside; welcome back to the Sidebar to Delcatto. Long time no see.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Dances with Lawyers

The past week has been one where the relationship between my dear lady wife and myself has been strained to the point of creaking. I think it's the insistence of our immigration lawyers that all of our lives must be laid bare for their inspection. Every charitable committee served on, every job, every extended period of economic inactivity, every place you've ever lived in since before you were 18.

For those who have only ever had one job since leaving University / College and never really traveled, this should not really be a headache. For Mrs S and I, who have both spent protracted periods outside the UK working and attended many and varied educational courses, it's been positively migraine inducing. At our lawyers insistence we have had to record every single page of every passport we've ever had, whether there's anything on the pages or not. I must have spent half a working day yesterday just nursing our aging desktop scanner along, and I'm still only half way through. It's really beginning to get in the way of my day job. Fortunately we're in a quiet period at the moment, so I can make the time in among my main duties without straining at the leash of my conscience too much. It's rather like juggling, kick one task off while you're answering the phone or making a call and try to remember what the hell you were going to talk about while scanning, cropping and saving images. After a while you look at your watch and wonder where the bloody hell the day went. Then there's the constant nitpicking at the fine details; French language proficiency, transcripts of post secondary courses undertaken and passed (Which a number of educational establishments like City and Guilds, just won't do) and trying to remember the exact dates of each individual employment start and finish, even if it was thirty years ago. All must be accounted for, no matter how young, drunk and / or stupid (These terms are freely interchangeable in late teens and early twenties) you were at the time.

A number of acquaintances in the sizable British ex-pat community over here have told us that "It's a great place once you've jumped through all the immigration hoops." Which I suppose will make all the migraines worth it. In the meantime pass the Ibuprofen.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Comment maderation part deux

Have put full comment moderation on because I'm sure anyone who bothers to read my fevered outpourings is quite capable of finding the relevant software / naked pictures / religious outpourings / sexual stimulant for their individual needs without having to visit the comments section of this rather obscure little blog.

Heartfelt apologies to my reader for the inconvenience.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Everyone should have a brother

At last there is something not to be so grumpy about. Huzzah! Today I write in praise of older sibling who has by his diligence and patience done me a Brobdingnagian favour.

A little bit of a familial history lesson is in order here. Older sibling and I have often had our fallings out; yet when he has been in trouble, it's always been dimbo here who has ridden in with all guns blazing to pull him out of whatever trouble he had gotten himself into. A signal example was when he was thirteen and being manhandled by two older boys who were trying to steal his bicycle. Despite being half the size of the two rather rum coves shoving older brother about, yours truly stepped up to the plate and let older brother pedal to safety. I think the two fifteen year olds concerned were more amused than alarmed when challenged mano e mano by an irate eight year old. However, older sibling duly fetched grown ups, and junior here got off with no more than a couple of bruises and a split lip, although I did salve my pride by landing one on the bigger boys chin. Again, I think it was the shock of where the physical challenge was coming from that saved me from a quite serious kicking.

This was not the only time I deliberately got in the way of those who meant my brother harm, and as time went on, and I grew taller and broader than older sibling, word got around that one should leave the elder Sticker boy well alone, as young Bill was known to be a bit of a handful, and more than ready to stand up for the family honour, such as it was. We grew up; older sibling went to University, junior here to Technical College, and was only called upon to handle the tricky jobs. To be honest there was no little resentment from my side of the story, as I forever seemed to be on the wrong side of a give and take relationship.

Notwithstanding all the aforementioned, when push has come to shove, the Sticker boys have demonstrated a rather splendid tendency to pull figurative rabbits out of impossibly small hats. Thus today, elder sibling has paid back all the favours done for him over the past forty plus years and I bow towards the country of my birth and humbly beseech the gods of good fortune to smile upon him.

This is why. A few days ago I asked elder brother to see if he could find any of my old school certificates lurking around at the ancient family home, not thinking that any of them existed any more. Several days passed with no word, and I naturally assumed that the certificates had been lost forever, and that I would have to spend a deal of money and time reclaiming them. Ten minutes before I started writing this piece, I received very happy news. Elder sibling had found the lot, every single educational certificate ever gained by me over my highly chequered career. A total of twelve separate certificates in all, covering High School, Technical College, and a couple of others I had clean forgotten about. He had spent two days hunting through old paperwork on my behalf, and I am truly delighted with him. I never thought he'd do it on my account; but God love him, he came through and has put the lot in the post to me here in Canada. Tonight I raise a glass in his honour.

Everyone should have a Brother.

Correction: That should read fifteen educational certificates covering twenty six separate subjects.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Cap and trade, a modest proposal

I have an idea about all these carbon taxes and cap and trade bills. When a politician says that the rest of us need to cut back on our energy usage, they only mean us plebs. The high and mighty will go on paying lip service to the concept and be as profligate as before. Energy and water rationing will be the lot of the common herd; us everyday folk may have no option but to freeze / bake / starve in the midst of potential plenty.

All the proposals for energy reduction are based on the so-called 'science' behind anthropogenic theories of climate change which is, as regularly demonstrated here, deeply flawed. The catastrophe's constantly prognosticated by politicians and certain parts of the media have consistently failed to appear. The climate shifts and changes all the time and with our current level of understanding we're still not sure why. To blame all the climate shifts / changes on a gas that comprises 0.385% of Earth's atmosphere which only absorbs energy in two narrow bands of the electromagnetic spectrum is quite frankly technically illiterate. What about the latent heat of the oceans, solar radiative forcings, the water cycle, volcanism and the weakening magneto and solar photosphere effect on cloud formation? Not to mention that the Earth radiates heat off into space quite rapidly. If the Sun suddenly went out we'd all be human popsicles in very short order. Even if the CO2 levels were ten times their current levels. Thus spake the laws of thermodynamics.

I only did physics to what might be called post secondary level (3 years UK Technical college), but it's blindingly obvious to me at least that CO2 is not a significant climate driver. To tax it's production and / or limit economic / industrial activity on this premise alone is therefore ludicrous. I understand and agree that we have to reduce pollution, and reducing airborne particulate matter and noxious chemicals in the environment should be a priority. However, this maniacal focus on a trace atmospheric gas is quite frankly barking. Sorry, but I go by the physics, not the rhetoric.

Some explanation of my personal background is in order here; I grew up in houses without regular hot water / heating. I remember the rolling power cuts and three day week of the UK in the 1970's. It's not very pleasant learning to shave with cold water, using recycled candles and hurricane lamps for light and heat. Wearing five layers of clothing and still having water vapour freezing on the walls inside your room. I've been there involuntarily, and it isn't funny. To even suggest we should go back to this standard of living voluntarily on the back of misleading computer models and fudged data is ludicrous, hence this proposal.

The core of my suggestion is very simple; all the people (Politicians, activists, media) who espouse the view that climate change is all man made should have happen to them what will happen to the rest of us when their ill founded legislation really bites; energy and water rationing. Every political conference hotel; cut off their hot water so they have to take cold showers to 'save energy'. Shut off the water to their houses at the mains. No fuel for presidential style motorcades or private jets, let them use the train, ride bicycles or walk. Off with their heating and air conditioning. Let the freeloaders see what it's like to go without. Them and the mainstream media. Cut all heat to the media channels which promote the catastrophic climate change agenda. Let Ehrlich and all the other doom mongering Malthusians fall on their own swords to help cut the world population (Can I watch? Please, please - I'll bring my own popcorn). Let the Gore's, Hansens and Suzuki's and all their disciples cycle to work and do without hot water like they appear to want the rest of us to do. Let those who call the sceptical side of the argument 'deniers' spend some time living with the consequences of their espoused policies (And no cheating - you'll be watched closely). Ration the heating in the Economics and Social science departments of all Universities (Engineers generate their own heat). Yea and verily, get thee to a wind powered commune (Somewhere in the Northern Territories would be my suggestion). Let them eat Carbon credits (And no ketchup or take-outs.) Send them to hug real live Polar Bears and see what happens.

You can call me a dreamer, but I'm not the only one......

Comment maderation

After a minor attack of spam comments, have elected to enable comment moderation and delete the offending entries. The rule is; if you ain't got anything interesting to say, well spare us the commercial stuff.

Now what part of "grouchy old cuss" didn't anyone understand?

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The pain of paperwork

One thing I absolutely hate is filling in forms. At the moment my annoyance quotient is being raised to artery endangering levels by the infinitesimal detail required by our immigration lawyers. They are asking for proof of employment in the form of payslips and tax receipts, contracts of employment, certificates of everything perhaps even down to being a milk monitor at primary school.

I have to find all this stuff they say, or it won't count on the immigration forms. Hells bells, I never kept track of all the many bits of paper documenting my somewhat eccentric career, all the in-house courses and all the stuff I did at evening classes. This has been a mistake. Yet none of it impacts on my ability or intelligence, as I am quite capable of undertaking quite a broad scope of tasks in a satisfactory manner without a piece of paper to say I can. My post secondary education has largely comprised of being handed the manual and told to 'get on with it'. Upon reflection, perhaps I ought to have learned to look more stupid or say 'no I can't' more often when given a task no one else seemed to be able (Or wanted) to do. My own 'can do' attitude in these instances seems to have largely worked against me, long-term.

No matter. Heads up and on the bounce, I will do or die in the attempt. Now where'd I put me pen?

As an aside, much mild snarkiness on the Malahat yesterday whilst taking Brother in Law to Victoria Airport. I am in outside lane, indicating right to pull out of the way of faster traffic when a Black Ford Ranger pickup with extended cab zips up the inside, causing me to swerve back into left hand lane. Several curse words later, an unmarked Police Ford Sedan coming downhill switches on the "blues and two's" and pulls a sharp U-turn in front of me and hares off after the offending Black pickup. Just under a kilometre later, Brother in law and I were amused to see Cop handing out a speeding ticket to the inconsiderate guy who had just inconvenienced us. On the way back from the airport, having just cleared the road works near the Malahat summit, same Cop was handing another ticket out to a minivan who had presumably been playing silly buggers. Later on towards home, there was an ordinary Police cruiser with all lights flashing, and yet another ticket being handed out. In a way I find that rather comforting.
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