Thursday, 30 July 2009

New links

Have elected to add Weather Action and Heresy Corner to the sidebar essentially because it's my blog and who the hell cares apart from me anyway?

Another warm day with temperatures due to hit thirty six Celsius (Again) and no real change before Sunday. Am taking some time out to catch some rays and have a quiet sarky smirk to myself that I don't have to put up with weather like this any more. Mrs S complains that I still have a 'Farmers tan', but then plus ca chose plus ca meme chose eh?. Hey look Mom! Mom! I put 'the Canadian Eh?' into a sentence. I'm finding my inner Canadian!

On the shopping list for this week is a small electric fan for the bedroom to help stir the air around and make sleeping a little easier.

Youngest is due in at Vancouver in two weeks, and we have a little welcome planned. Lots of outdoor stuff like barbecues, cycling, swimming, and sunbathing etc. Must say I'm quite looking forward to it. Absence makes the heart grow fonder sort of thing.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Cooling off

Yesterday hit thirty six Celsius (Thank goodness for air conditioning) almost blood heat. Today at just before 7am it's twenty eight. Yet the heat isn't oppressive. It's what Mrs S calls a 'dry heat', the air feels like warm silk against your skin. In this kind of weather, the rivers become very popular with bathers, and the bathing spots are well established, with locals jumping off bridges (Gasp! What about 'elf 'n safety!?) to cool off. One place we pass every day has a girder bridge with about a thirty foot drop from the deck to the water. The local teens love it. Just like the other local swimming holes.

Mrs S and I however, are a little more sedate in our habits, and will be using the local swimming pool today which for under six bucks (Around 3 Quid) gives you a steam room, sauna, three water slides, whirlpool bath and wave machine. Unlike by the river, there are no mossies or no-see-ums to bother you and leave nasty little bite marks in your important little places.

To cool off your car, there's a free (No joke) 'car wash' not far up the road.

Just drive up to it and your car gets a buckshee sluice down. It may not be the same as a commercial car wash, but when it comes to cooling off the old battlebus, it's just the ticket.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Back again

That darn cats back in the neighbourhood again. Landlady knocked on the door to tell me she saw a medium sized Cougar wandering about in our back yard on Sunday night. No wonder my dog won't go anywhere near the woods at the moment.

That great smell...

With the current spell of warm weather (31 Degrees Celsius at the kitchen window) I noticed something unusual. Just to the rear of our apartment is a conifer. It is always bedecked with pine cones. At present it is absolutely chocker with green (Unripe) cones which are absolutely dripping clear resin which is terrifically sticky and is right bugger to get out of your clothes.

As the temperature peaks, the resin drips and crystallises, and the scent becomes truly intense. Not harsh and chemical, but warm, rich and fragrant, so unlike the artificial scents that are touted about as 'natural'. Hi ho, time for a cool shower and work.

Monday, 27 July 2009

A walk in the park

Yesterday Mrs S and I took some time out from the usual round of keyboard and kitchen to explore one of our local provincial parks. Gorgeous day, brilliant sunshine. Too nice to just walk the dog locally and sit out in the front yard waving to neighbour folk as they pass.
This is the antidote to all the stupid news in the world (Ooo, if you don't do what we say you'll die kind of news). A walk through a half mile of Pine, Spruce and Cedar scented woods (Nothing like the 'artificial scents', think orders of magnitude richer and less harsh) down to the waters edge. Ignore the 'Bear Warning' they don't move around much in the heat of the day, and generally steer well clear of those noisy pesky two legged thingy's unless they're too hungry to care like when fresh out of hibernation. Could have sworn we heard one laying back and rolling over in the undergrowth.

Parks over here aren't the 'green desert' places, shorn to within an inch of their life. Parks over here are full of BC's major renewable resource - trees. Even Stanley Park in the middle of Vancouver. Canadians have high regard for their trees, and despite logging still being a major industry though reputedly a shadow of it's former self (We still see log booms passing our place every day)
The Islands in the backround are the De Courcy's, once the haunt of the infamous 'Brother 12', who is reputed to have buried forty kilner jars of gold coin which no one has ever found, or ever will. Modern thinking suggests that any gold ended up in a Swiss bank vault.

Still, it was a wonderful day, and I'm still trying to work out how I got two mossie bites behind my knee while I was wearing jeans for crying out loud. Pass the germolene.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Storm light

Sitting and reading early yesterday evening ('Bedlam' by Greg Hollingshead if you must know), Mrs S looked up and said; "Bill, look at the light." While close to we were in shadow, the early evening sunlight brightly lit the middle distance with a pale yellow pastel illumination. The water was beginning to show whitecaps and tall treetops swayed, buffeted by a freshening breeze.

"Storm coming." I remarked. I've seen this sort of thing before.
"Big one?" Asked my other half, obviously thinking about possible power cuts.
"Maybe, not sure." I replied guardedly.

Over the next two and a half hours we watched a rainbow form, blowtorch bright at either end of its arc, almost too brilliant to look at directly. The pastel light took on a pale orange glow then deepened to an almost sullen ruddy glow, as if heaven itself was burning. Strangely wind sculpted clouds heralded the impending spectacular.
My dog was pacing back and forth, looking for a place to hide. He hates storms, the big wuss, and can't seem to make up his mind where to hide. Under the bed in the spare room, under my chair, in his travelling box where he normally sleeps. He just couldn't settle.

Around half past eight, and from a long way to the North east there was the first grumble of thunder. Then just before nine as the rainbow faded, the celestial light show began in earnest. From sporadic far off flashes to Medusa like branches of lightning lighting up a quarter of the sky. There was supposed to be a firework display in town to celebrate some local festival, but tonight nature upstaged it in spades. For a while I stood awestruck on the front porch. "I wouldn't want to be in Powell River." I said.
"Looks like Vancouver is catching it." Mrs S leaned on my shoulder as the storm began to head our way across the straits of Georgia.
"Do me a favour love, light some candles." We've been caught out before when the power got knocked out by lightning. We shut down the 'pooter and sat back to enjoy the free firework display. Dog finally hunkered down under the bed in the spare room.

Around tennish, massive bursts of lightning were illuminating the whole sky. Burst after livid burst and then after a short count a grumble of thunder like someone moving furniture upstairs on a wooden floor. At the storms peak, the grumbles seemed to merge so it was very difficult to work out which rumble belonged to which bolt of lightning. I did try to take some video footage, but all I got were vague flashbulb type shots that didn't adequately do the whole scene justice. Then the rain came to answer the prayers of the local firefighters and damp down the risk of forest fires, big fat droplets hammering on our skylight like a disorganised corps of drums. Flashes lit the whole sky over the islands as the wrath of the gods flared and shattered. Megavolt bolts ripping from cloud to cloud, to the sea and to the ground in brilliant crackle edged towers of light which stayed imprinted on your retinas for seconds afterwards.

Fortunately the worst passed us by, and around eleven the storm had mostly passed. The rain eased to a gentle pattering. Only a far off flash to the south to give any hint of the violence that had passed close by. The air is cool and fresh after the oppressive heat of the past two days.

As usual, I am left mentally kicking myself for not investing in a decent camera.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Clarkson's in trouble again

JC, front man of the one BBC show left worth watching, has recently come under fire for calling the UK's Prime Minister something short, nasty and Anglo-Saxon, and it's not the first time he's said what a lot of the UK populace appear to be thinking. See vid below.

I totally agree with the sentiment at the end of the car sauna vid; "Leave us alone." Precisely. How can you expect people to grow up and become mature adults if Government has to figuratively wipe their behinds? Another 'glad I don't live there any more' moment. Sigh. Have finished chortling and am off fishing now on a gloriously sunny BC afternoon.

If I was a Superhero, I would be.....

Mrs S and I have been given two spanking new bicycles to pootle around on, and I have been busy adjusting brakes, lowering saddles and tightening nuts. Trouble is, it can get a bit too warm in the saddle during the heat of the day. Tchah. All in the name of getting fitter eh? Roll on my dose of swine flu, which doesn't seem to be much worse than ordinary influenza, according to this source.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Getting warmer...?

Despite all the propaganda that in five, ten eighty or ninety years human, or anthropocentric CO2 emissions are going to result in the heat death of the planet, there seems precious little real empirical evidence that temperatures globally are actually rising. Sure there is the argument which says that "the models predict", but forgive me for being a crusty old sourpuss when I point out that there appears precious little actual extra warmth due to Carbon Dioxide. At present the opposite seems to be happening. Snow in Buenos Aires perchance?

To enlarge; having spent several years as a farmworker while working my way through college, I spent a lot of time out of doors and learned to read the sky. Mainly because what I did day to day was highly weather dependent, and it helped if you knew to take a waterproof coat with you. It got to the point that towards the end of my working time on the farm, my boss would often take one look at the weather forecast, grimace, and then ask me what local conditions would be like for the next day or two, rather than trust the Met Office. Said skill often helped me out during my life on the streets because it usually meant that I was heading for a covered beat ahead of the downpours. I'd occasionally run into colleagues who were either sweating buckets because they were too heavily clad, or soaked because they went out in shirtsleeves, and not a little annoyed at me because they were too hot / wet and I often wasn't.

Needless to say yours truly was rarely caught out by the notoriously changeable British weather, although on a few occasions I found myself forced to 'ghost' a couple of streets when downpours ensued. Normally these errors of judgement were more due to a poor sense of timing rather than a failure to predict on my part.

One phenomenon that has caught my eye of late is the increased prevalence of phenomena like Noctilucent clouds. Essentially these are caused by low angle sunlight reflecting off clouds of high level ice crystals in the mesosphere, normally seen between 50 and 70 degrees of latitude. However, in the Northern hemisphere at least these appear to be observed ever further southwards if you can take the photographic galleries on, and various other anecdotal observations as a guide.

Now I may be wrong, not being a 'professional' in these matters, but an increase in ice crystal phenomena would to me indicate a net cooling effect (Albeit of the upper atmosphere). So why on earth are certain people so all fired certain that it's going to get hotter because of CO2? We are told that global levels of this trace atmospheric gas are up and that according to the IPCC it's all our fault, and we're aall doooooomed but for the life of me I just can't buy into the hype. If it's a race between what the politicians and media say and a real live (Albeit anecdotal) cloud gathering above my head, I know whose predictions I'll be paying attention to, and it won't be a journalist or politician, although Christopher Booker of the Telegraph does try, bless him). When the Moonbats et al are figuratively (and vociferously) running around with their fingers in their ears, bleating about Anthropogenic Global Warming and ignoring the current weather trends, he's got an uphill battle. The only reason why I bother to think about the subject at all is the continuing insistence of politicians all around the world that there's a climate problem we as a species have any control over; there isn't, I confidently predict the climate will change on it's own without any help from l'il ole Hom Sap; and that tax is not the answer. Taxing to 'prevent' a natural phenomenon is rather like writing cheques to ward off double pneumonia; or as Douglas Adams once pithily pointed out "it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy"

Back to the grindstone.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

French test

Recently we had to do a TEF test to prove our knowledge of francaise for the immigration people, even though we live on the other side of the country to Quebec. Sometimes I think that's like forcing people who live in the Home Counties to learn Welsh because it is spoken in Wales, by (Some of) the Welsh.

Je pense il faut un diabolical liberty cela. Pour tout les gens qui habite BC. Cette le bloody Rockies between nous et Quebec pour crying out loud. Je ne compris pas que nous parlez francais dans flaming Bretagne Colombie. Merde.

Et maintenant je fait recherchez la plume de ma tante, et le temps perdu. Vraiment.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Going on the wagon

Have decided to forgo the pleasures of my old boon companion Al Cohol for a while, as he's tending to get in the way of the creative process. One MSS has been completed and despatched for consideration this year and I'm busy on the follow up, so have elected to keep a clear head while I plough on with the narrative. If you aren't so hot on keeping notes like me, keeping a fictional world neatly juggled between your frontal lobes is much easier without chemical intervention.

Not that I'm a great drinker, to be honest, since I came to Canada my consumption of such beverages has dropped off the edge of the proverbial cliff. There's just not the need for a large glass of wine after the frustrations of the working day any more. Despite all the shenanigans with Wife's Ex, putting together the immigration documents, Mrs S's occasional bouts of guilt over the girls, as well as the struggles with permits and stuff, I just don't want the booze so much any more.

At present there's also what I call the 'post submission blues', which is the 'did I do a good enough job' meme that can play around your head like a maddening tune that you can't shut up. All you can do is get your head down and say "Ah stuff it". To quote another bloke called Bill:
Jog on, jog on the footpath way and merrily hent the stile-a
Your merry heart goes all the day, your sad tires in a mile-a

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The calm after that storm

Today has been a chilled day in some respects, but not in others. The financial threat from wife's ex to our girls has been thwarted and circumvented by some quick footed joining up of relationship dots. Essentially the lady who was our girls new stepmother, now happily divorced from Mrs S's ex, did not know what Ex was up to, and has turned round to us and said the money thing he tried to foist on to us was meant for him; so all is sweetness and light on that front once more. Well, maybe not for that particular ex husband, who will no doubt be muttering what bitches his ex wives have been to him into a large gin and tonic at his golf club. The story I hear is that according to both ex wives, he had fair warning to mend his faithless ways and ultimately paid the price.

Nevertheless, our girls are growing financially more independent by the day, and making their old stepdad very chuffed at how they're both turning out. They have places to live and stay arranged throughout the UK, so no sofa surfing for them. Not that they'll need it, they've inherited their Mother's brains, and those I can safely attest are quite keen. I think some crusty old duffer named Bill helped out upon occasion when things threatened to go haywire.

Oh well, so far so good, as the falling man was heard to say as he passed the tenth floor on the way down.

All that, and it's been another gorgeously sunny BC day. Time for a Jameson's to celebrate methinks.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Why is it so difficult?

Whenever an on line friend loses someone close, someone you have a cordial if distant relationship to, it is only natural to feel a little of their sorrow. Some sympathy for their bereavement. A token of solace when they are only naturally feeling pretty low.

At times like mere sympathetic words can feel clichéd, lame and artificial. You want to give some form of tangible comfort without being gushing or intrusive, but even the most heartfelt phrases of condolence come out as clumsy leaden platitudes.

This must be the dilemma every parish priest comes across at a funeral where they know little of the deceased and their family. Standing staring in your place of work at a bunch of strangers who are looking for some straw to clutch at to float them in their sea of inner distress.

I write of the sharp, witty, and often acerbic mummylonglegs of "And there was me thinking". Her Mother recently died of Cancer.

Having lost my own Dad to the big C, I know what a shitty thing a loss like this can be to deal with. Go give her a virtual hug. She needs all the luck and help she can get.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Happy Moonday part 3

First Command Module docking to Lunar Excursion Module ready for extraction from third Stage followed by footage (Which I never saw before) of Buzz Aldrin entering and checking out the LEM.

It's just like being a kid again.

Late 20th century UK political history, a perspective

I first wrote this a year ago, but never posted it: Prescient or what?
Well, it’s happening. Mrs S and I knew we’d have to leave the UK because a) the kids were all growed up now and wanting to stretch their wings, and b) Six years (then 2002) ago we could see that Britain was going to hell in a hand basket no matter which way you cut it. ID cards, the reduction of Civil rights and the growth of the all powerful ‘State’ (Again).

Now I’m old enough to recall the mess successive Labour governments have made before this. If there’s anyone out there who remembers the 1970’s like I do, you may be persuaded to agree. Massive industrial unrest exacerbated by a complete governmental inability to manage the proverbial piss up in a brewery, and an ineffective looking opposition. Sound familiar? Not yet? Read on, the list of scandals throughout the 20th century is enlightening too. Tories seem to get caught (Predominantly) with their trousers round their ankles, Labour (Mainly) with their fingers in the public till. Why do we trust politicians?

Historically speaking; from 1964 onwards, when the Wilson led Labour government was elected the economy wasn’t in bad shape. There had been a few ‘scandals’ with the predictable public outcry (Does this sound awfully familiar?) and the MacMillan Government was unpopular because of events like the Profumo scandal. It wasn’t all sweetness and light, but economically speaking, things weren’t all that bad.

Post 1964, after a honeymoon period the economy began to slide because of industrial unrest and increased social budget requiring ever higher taxation; major prestige high-tech projects were cancelled on cost grounds (Blue Streak, TSR-2) putting people who might have generated more economic activity out of work (‘Backing Britain’ indeed – Hah!). A torrent of new legislation poured out of the new government, but to little benefit. On to 1970, and the centre ground Conservative party led by Edward Heath was elected because the economy wasn’t so hot.

Following the conservative election victory, the economic situation did not improve. At least partially due to politically motivated industrial unrest as well as a Middle East oil crisis. The economic slide began to turn into a nosedive after the second election of 1974 and we were treated to power cuts in the middle of Winter, one of the factors which eventually forced Edward Heath to ‘Go to the country’, which showed it’s dissatisfaction by narrowly voting in a Labour administration. Matters (again) did not improve, and at one stage in 1976, the UK (Labour) government was forced to go to the IMF for a £2.8bn loan to bail the whole country out.

Following massive industrial unrest and the notorious ‘Winter of Discontent’ a new conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher was elected, promising more freedom for the individual and less state intervention. This decentralising agenda proved a very messy business. The highly unprofitable, overmanned and inefficient nationalised Coal and Steel industries were mostly reduced and sold off. This pattern was repeated throughout much of the manufacturing sector. The highly government subsidised Rover (Previously British Leyland) was privatised and reduced. The financial industries were partially deregulated, beginning a renaissance of Britain’s economic fortunes. Taxation was eventually reduced. After two ‘boom and bust’ cycles the economic situation began to stabilise and improve. The north sea oil boom revenues helped restore UK fortunes.

Now let’s have a quick fast forward to 1997. There was the ill-fated Major government. Unpopular because of repeated scandals such as Aitken and Archer, and the aftermath of the poll tax protests and other inner city unrest. Yet the British economy was in moderately good shape and pretty stable, despite the recession of the early 1990’s. There were some ‘stealth taxes’ but these were manageable. Jobs were relatively easy to find; but as I watched the election results come in, I wondered about emigrating there and then. "Things can only get better"? Oh the bitter irony.

Since 1997, not only the economy has come in for a battering. The UK constitution is in a complete mess. Most power seems to be ceded to Brussels, and the House of Lords; to many a bunch of over privileged old duffers who seemed to like to get in the way of 'progress', has been emasculated. I think it was a shame. Love them or hate them, the Lords was a constitutional bulwark against poor legislation. The ‘old duffers’ had a collective constitutional memory that went back centuries “Tried that in the 1700’s – didn’t work old boy.” Sort of memory. Under the guise of ‘reform’ this constitutional memory was reduced to the point where the House of Commons (and Brussels) can railroad through almost any legislation they like, and there is no one to stop them. The British were promised some form of elected upper house, but have ended up with a bunch of political appointees and unelected peers who seem only accountable to the ruling party. The torrent of poorly drafted legislation increased. Despite the creation of new laws and 1000 new ‘criminal’ offences, (and fudged figures) lawlessness increased. Despite the 1998 ban on hand guns; gun crime and fatal shootings happen more often than they ever did before the Dunblane inspired ban.

Moving forward ten years, in 2007 Britain has a similar economic situation to that of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, economy on the downslide, bureaucratic inroads into everyday life, increasing regulation, industrial unrest, and a weak 'centre ground' opposition. It’s all looking depressingly familiar. There’s no sign of anyone with the statesmanlike nous to give the whole mess a thorough and much needed shaking (And for embittered Socialists to blame everything on twenty years on). There’s no substantial North Sea Oil revenues to fall back on at present, despite the recent West Rinnes discovery and hopeful articles in the financial press.
Upon very careful and sober reflection, I think Mrs S and I have made the right choice. Things right at the moment of writing aren't so hot for us, but there are signs of an upturn out there, and from a personal perspective I think we've ridden out the worst of the economic storms. Canada is our future, and providing the current Harper Government are fiscally prudent enough over the next year or so, it will be a prosperous one.

Not a good night

Quite warm and sticky at the moment locally.

Mild case of indigestion gave rise to a number of bad dreams last night. Dream one saw me back in England and trying to catch a train on a dark misty December morning, one of those winter days when the air is so full of moisture all the cobwebs are hung with droplets. I tried to go down a normally rose arboured passageway, only to find all the roses are dead and choked with cobwebs. As I tried to pass through, I kept getting caught up in thorns which snagged at my hair and clothes. Dream two was a bit more disturbing. It was a bright moonlit night and I couldn’t sleep for the full moon in my eyes. There was the repeated noise of a light aircraft passing overhead. I pulled a blanket over my head in an attempt to blot out the silvery brightness then heard a far off screaming which went “NO, no , no!” Followed by a high pitched drawn out dopplering (Male) scream terminating in a very solid sounding thump, like something heavy hitting the lawn outside our house. Very real, but end of dream. There was no body or large indentation in the yard this morning, so yes, it must have been a dream.

Have noticed a distinct reduction in my appetite recently, what with all the diverse alarums and tribulations that have come to visit over the last few months. Work has been difficult as the local economy has shrunk enough to cut the money supply to our sector. I always try to put a positive spin on times like these in that the nasty stuff has to have a bright side, and let's face it, the law of averages says my luck has got to improve if I keep on plugging away and don't get stuck in a rut. What the hey, it's Friday.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Happy Moonday part 2

Watched this bit at school, as we didn't break up until the 18th of July that year. Saw the landing on our old black and white set at home on the following Sunday. Still holds me riveted.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Happy Moonday (Not a typo)

Forty years ago today, I was allowed to hog the family TV and watch the launch of Apollo 11. Four days later on the 20th of July 1969 I repeatedly goggled at footage of the successful lunar landing. They showed it at school, I watched it at home, the word 'awesome' (Not that it was in my vernacular at the time) would not pass my lips because I was too thunderstruck to say anything but 'wow'.

Like a lot of other boys my age, I dreamed of becoming an Astronaut, and in my imagination I have soared out of Earth's atmosphere on voyages of discovery. Regrettably, the Apollo programme was curtailed due to budgetary restraints, and manned space exploration became restricted to Earth orbit. Hearing that, for me, was a very sad day. We were not going to Mars, or anywhere else in the Solar System. The magic faded.

I consoled myself by following the Voyager programme, but it wasn't the same. In a way I felt cheated. Cheated of the chance of seeing mankind soar to new heights and follow a path that would take us out to the stars. Cheated by hearing bone brained conspiracy theorists saying the moon landings were a massive hoax. Then again, said conspiracy theorists seem to have a very poor grasp of basic physics and probably all believe that Al Gore has a brilliant scientific brain, or every neo-malthusian prediction will come true. If they only knew how pointlessly ignorant and pathetic they sound.

I have a dream that in my lifetime science will become less politicised, and that we can stop wasting our time on 'Green' technology. If we put the money into proper Nuclear Fusion research instead (Not just Tokamaks), the dream of near limitless energy might be brought about. Maybe a sideline of that research would provide clues to a workable faster than light technology and we as a species could branch out to the stars. I may never see it, but it's a dream worth having.

In the meantime; here's one of my all time heroes, Edwin Eugene (Buzz) Aldrin, putting the record straight with one of those wastes of space who thinks the moon landings were faked.

Well, it makes me smile. Happy Moonday.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A bad forty eight hours

I have not enjoyed the last two days despite glorious weather. One of the reasons is my Wife's ex, who had agreed to provide a place of refuge for our girls in the UK. Well, he is their biological father. Unfortunately, as I have probably blogged before, he's also a prize git. One moreover, who thinks nothing of walking out on his freely undertaken responsibilities whenever it takes his fancy.

The last demand came two days ago, intimating that unless we stumped up so much money per month, our girls (His daughters) would have nowhere to live in the UK when not at University. In effect to have them thrown out on the street. Mrs S went into a flat spin; I got angry, and the Dog went into hiding. Fortunately he's not the only family they have in the UK (Even if he mainly stays in Africa), and my side of the clan have stepped into the breach to ensure our girls always have a place to stay. No strings attached.

After a sleepless night and several transatlantic phone calls I am now confident that if cuntybollocks makes good his threat, then my side of the clan will ensure the girls will have a place of refuge against the storm in the UK. I know he's their biological father and all, but the guy is a prize twat of the first water. I would never do business with him because he's someone who simply can't keep up his side of a bargain. Mrs S and I have ensured that the girls University fees are all paid and send them cash whenever we have a little spare; we didn't threaten their education when times got a little tough financially.

Today things are calmer. Plans and resources are in place, and Wife's ex can sod off and die for all I care. I know I'm only their stepfather, but I hope these past couple of days will convince our two that their biological father is a nasty piece of work, and not worthy of their affection.

For myself, I want nothing for my two stepdaughters but to see them grow up into two well balanced and successful adults. I want Mrs S to be relaxed about their safety so she doesn't get upset. What I don't want is to hear from her ex husband ever again.

Monday, 13 July 2009

The dangers of Home Schooling

Home schooling is big over here on Vancouver Island. There are companies set up to support children whose parents elect to have their children educated at home. Whole Government supported mechanisms exist to assist parents to teach their children properly. It seems to work.

However, home schoolers in the UK find their right to educate their children at home threatened by 'The Badman Report'. If certain provisions within said report are enacted into UK law (As seems the fashion at present), any parent who wishes to educate their children at home rather than in the notoriously sporadic UK state education system will have to jump even more hoops than at present, with little or no support from outside agencies. In fact, it appears that some outside agencies would be actively trying to take the children of said parents away and put into the opaque UK 'care' system under the catch-all excuse of 'child abuse', whether 'abuse' of a child exists or not. UK Social Services appear to be highly ineffectual in preventing such abuse. Furthermore, the State has such a grip, that even the slightest contravention of good parenting practice can earn a parent an 'at risk' flag on the Criminal Records Database.

Might one point out the dangers to children and families in general at this point; there are already many reports of bogus, or 'phantom' Social Workers using false credentials to enter private dwellings and 'examine' children. Two of the most recent reports come from Greenwich and Derby. If you lose the right to refuse 'officials' entry to your home then you leave yourself wide open to charlatans who may be abusers, and who can tell forged ID from genuine without installing a card reader outside your front door? I've had people (Purportedly Child Services) trying to barge their way into my house before (I think I even blogged about it) and I stood my ground because a) There was no baby in the house and b) I'll be fucked if I let them in without some kind of appointment. In addition c) I'm not convinced that care homes are the right place for children. Especially babes in arms.

Now I've seen the inside of a local authority juvenile care home, and I wasn't too impressed. A friend of a friend was 'incarcerated' in one (Yet could more or less sneak out when he pleased), and we went to visit on a couple of occasions. At no point were myself or my friends (A bunch of six foot plus hairy, greasy bikers) challenged by staff. However, I will state that this was in the early 1980's, and I cannot speak for how these places are run nowadays.

My point being is that to try and take people's children into care, as alluded to by some UK politicians, just for the 'sin' of wanting to educate them yourself, is a most illiberal act. Whose children are they? Not the State, or has someone reintroduced slavery into the UK and not told anybody?

Saturday, 11 July 2009

I am spartacus!

I have a Facebook profile. Not one I regularly update, because I have this thing called a life. However it has come to my attention that there are at least thirty three other people on Facebook who claim the soubriquet Bill Sticker or Bill Stickers. I would like to make it transparent that they are not me, and none of them or their mates have any connection or affiliation with this blog (As if anyone really cared). They are Johnny come lately imposters to a man (And I think one woman).

I am traduced, misrepresented, and deeply miffed. How could you?


And the world keeps turning

Mrs S and I have finally despatched all the details requested for our permanent residency applications by courier. Personally I will be ecstatically happy if the nice person (You are a very nice person aren't you? Please please prove me right) at the London Visa office ticks our boxes and says 'Welcome to Canada' without another request for (yet) more information. If they don't, well, I've got a couple of fall back options under which we are entitled to apply. I'm that determined.

Notwithstanding, the whole house seems a little lighter this morning. A shadow on our lives has lifted a little, and the air of oppressive anxiety which has characterised the last six months has mostly evaporated. It's all very well working here on temporary visa's, but you're so restricted in what you can actually do for a living. Most potential employers won't even look at you unless you're a permanent resident or citizen. We also have the additional worry of steering clear of possible confrontations, as any less than amicable brush with officialdom might see us out on our ears. Our position here feels that fragile.

All of which is a major frustration, but there you go. We have documented skills, we're both keen and highly adaptable, yet it's enough to try the proverbial saints patience sometimes when people turn around and give you that apologetic look and say "Sorry". Yet the world keeps turning and we will (and must) turn with it. Going back to the UK is not an option. British Columbia is the family home now. I've decided.

Thinking about our part of BC, I can't but agree that it is the best place on Earth. Terrain wise the countryside rather makes me think about a gentrified and improved Scotland, without the Midges. There are quite a few old Scots families over here, as they were the first wave of migrants in the 17 and 1800's. The climate is temperate, not too hot or cold. The sun shines when it isn't raining or snowing, and there's little of that awful unremitting and depressing greyness that characterises England's weather. Apart from the local Mossies (You can almost hear the little sods shouting "Hey guys!" "Fresh meat!" whenever I take an evening stroll with my dog) making a meal of my tender flesh every August and September, it's a wonderful place.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Robert William Wood, Physicist.

Was lurking on the Wattsupwiththat comment thread, having a read of all the comments and trying to understand the implications of the articles when my attention was taken by a name and a web reference. The name was of an American Physicist, Robert William Wood; quite famous in the early 20th century for being a fakebuster extraordinary. A sort of early 20th century cross between Richard Feynman and James Randi.

One of his most famous exposures was exposing the inventor of 'N-Rays' Blondlet, but in another experiment, written up in 1909, held the following passage;
The following article was published in the Philosophical
Magazine in 1909 (Vol. 17, pp. 319−320): XXIV.
Note on the Theory of the Greenhouse By Professor R. W. Wood (Communicated by the Author)
THERE appears to be a widespread belief that the comparatively high temperature produced within a closed space covered with glass, and exposed to solar radiation, results from a transformation of wave−length, that is, that the heat waves from the sun, which are able to penetrate the glass, fall upon the walls of the enclosure and raise its temperature: the heat energy is re−emitted by the walls in the form of much longer waves, which are unable to penetrate the glass, the greenhouse acting as a radiation trap. I have always felt some doubt as to whether this action played any very large part in the elevation of temperature. It appeared much more probable that the part played by the glass was the prevention of the escape of the warm air heated by the ground within the enclosure. If we open the doors of a greenhouse on a cold and windy day, the trapping of radiation appears to lose much of its efficacy.
Which led me to this academic conversation between a person calling him (Or her) self 'Tadchem' and a gentleman by the name of Edward Green. The key phrase being; "A CO2 molecule doesn't know up from down."

Now forgive me for being terribly thick if my understanding of the physics is imperfect, but this would mean that any reflection of electromagnetic radiation of sunlight by CO2 molecules (Or any 'greenhouse gas') would go all over the place, (Mostly sideways or back into space) not just reflected down to the surface of the Earth. Once past the frequency saturation point of any molecule, the net effect would surely be for any such gases to reflect as much energy from the Earth's atmosphere as they absorb. Result; no net warming effect. Huzzah! We're saved! We're not all going to boil to death!

Man made Climate Change is averted. Good grief Moriarty. Stick another steak on that Barbecue and fill up the pickup. I've suddenly gone all warm and fuzzy.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Democracy is dead in the UK

One of the reasons I'm so dashed keen to set up home here in Canada is that back where I originate, democracy is dead or very nearly so. Now hold hard there Bill me old mucker, you might vouchsafe. Democracy in the UK no more? The mother of all parliaments neutered? Sir, you dissemble. Thou speakest from the place whence the sun shineth not, me old china.

Sadly, my assertion is correct. Back in my other life (February and May 2006)I blogged about a heinous piece of legislation I and others called the Abolition of Parliament act. It's proper title being the Legislative and Regulatory Reform bill 2006. Essentially it allows what are called SI's or Statutory Instruments which actually allow a Government to bypass Parliamentary scrutiny of legislation. No oversight by the Lords, no discussion, no representation of the people, just diktat. The current UK government can, with a few notable exceptions (Even if the bill has been watered down from it's intended original fiendish format) pass what legislation it likes without asking anyone. No use writing to your MP to help you, he / she won't be able to, because the 'rules' won't allow it.

I don't think I'm alone in thinking this is a very bad thing indeed. The powers government in the UK has ceded to itself are quite staggering. I have had first hand experience of those in the various enforcement arms of local and national government, and my experiences have rarely filled me with confidence. I won't use abusive terms such as Marxist or Nazi about them because this is not true, rather the enforcers are so hogtied by all the various rules governing what they can and cannot do, that they can act in no other way. The 'top down' model of Management strikes again.

It is a sad axiom that the more powers the state has, the fewer true rights the citizens have. Already the presumption of innocence before trial has gone the way of all flesh, along with a number of other hard won little freedoms that you don't really notice until you tried to use them. Privacy? Not if the UK Social Services (Rightly or wrongly) have you in their sights. Freedom of speech? Ever heard of 'hate crime'? All that is needed is a complaint, justified or not.

The problem is that with enough new regulations imposed without thorough scrutiny, those whose job it is to enforce said rules find themselves looking like a bunch of concentration camp guards, regardless of their true nature. I've been there and seen that. You can quite easily get to a point where once the machinery is in motion, God help those who fall into it's grinding maw. No mercy, no pardon, and no way out. It is incredibly easy to become an inadvertent criminal in the UK with all the new and unexamined new regulations about.

Therefore I am determined that any putative grandchildren our girls present us with will grow up in Canada. That is mainly why Mrs S and I are here, to provide our family's next generation with a ready escape tunnel from the burgeoning prison state that the UK threatens to become.

Despite all our frustrations with the immigration process, and the hurdles it has thrown in our way; I am convinced that my family's future is here in British Columbia, and I'm prepared to put up with a lot to make sure that happens.

More scawy storwies...not

Haven't been posting much because the past few days have been spent marshalling documents from all over the planet to get to our immigration lawyers before the deadline for applications. That and various upsets have been digging into my time. Mrs S has been more or less monopolising the 'pooter, and to be honest I've not had much to say. That and the apartment looking like it's been bombed with paperwork. However, we now have everything in place and ready for dispatch via UPS tomorrow.

What with all the attendant upsets over details and all I'm emotionally exhausted. Paradoxically too tired to sleep properly yet all I want to do is lie down and rest.

Any old road up; it used to be said that talking about the weather was a 'safe' topic. Nowadays I'm not so sure. Even an innocuous remark about how heavy the rain has been locally for the past couple of days is likely to send some people frothing at the mouth, so I've just been nodding and smiling a lot to avoid being told how the Arctic is melting (It's not), the heat death of the universe is coming unless you return to a neolithic standard of living (get knotted), oh, and we're all gonna die (In seventy or eighty years or so - don't make me laugh). Look chaps, when even expert prognosticators can't make even reasonably accurate weather forecasts for the next ten days, how in the name of good gravy can the ever-voluble doomsayers predict the climate forty or eighty years ahead? I look at all the scary statistics, graphs and stuff, then take a look out of my window and go "Nah." It's all bullshit and hyperbole from people who just want to seem more important and interesting than they really are; which is not at all. As for calling people who disagree 'deniers' and calling for them to be jailed, oh go away and come back when you've grown up a bit and can discuss things properly.

I'm just pleased that the current Harper Government here in Canada is at the back of the queue for such rhetoric, despite the increased and annoying BC 'carbon tax' on gasoline.

The news from the UK was of Government warnings about a 'heatwave' which I think lasted three or four days of nice warm summery weather followed by downpours which shut several parts of the London underground. Sounded like good old fashioned July weather to me, just like we had when I was growing up in England. In fact, just like it's been for most of the 20th century. Had London's storm drain system been operating properly, no doubt the excess water would be flowing down the Thames and not the railway tracks. We get more rain here in BC than they do, yet road washouts tend to happen out in the boonies, not in the centre of town.

In the years before we left the UK, seasonal flooding was routine. In four years out of ten you could virtually guarantee that our home town would be seriously affected by the rising muddy flow in the Spring, Summer and Autumn months. Old photographs I saw in various archives showed more or less the same thing going right back before the 1900's. All right, maybe that's just anecdotal, but it still happened. Never mind all the hysteria based on statistics. The climate does change, but there's bugger all we can do about it but figuratively enjoy the sunshine when it comes and store water for the dry times.

Ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference, there have been attempts to 'talk up' the non-existent 'climate crisis' by telling us that the Coral reefs will all die within 20 years and that class A idiot Gore insinuating that those who do not agree with all the climate hype are comparable to members of the old German National Socialists (Foot, boot, on, the, other, methinks, the). As for Copenhagen, it's just a talking shop for politicians to let off huge clouds of esteem and disinformation about a trace atmospheric gas and enjoy a huge jolly at their respective taxpayers expense. Rather like the G8 talks. Like politicians could actually do something about the climate were the postulations behind CO2 being the culprit being anywhere near true.

Carbon Dioxide only absorbs and reflects light and heat in two specific parts of the electromagnetic spectrum for goodness sake. The climate Elephant in the room is Water Vapour, which is responsible for 95%of the natural 'greenhouse effect' ahead of Methane and other causes; which the politicians don't seem to want to discuss, as you can't tax it. Without said effect the Earth would be a ball of frozen rock, I think I've heard the figure of 33 Celsius cooler mentioned if such an effect didn't exist. CO2 effects? Minimal. You get more climatic effect from large scale particulate pollution events like volcanoes and heavy local smog.

Back in the 1960's and early 70's, there were jokes going round about socialist governments imposing 'sex licenses' and 'breathing taxes'. Looks like those jolly japes might turn out to be a little prescient, and a lot more accurate than all the predictions of CO2 induced climate disaster.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Does my bum look big in this?

On the whole, I'd have to say yes on both counts.

The low profile wheels on the Hummer just make it look bloody silly.

Friday, 3 July 2009


Tony Blair has been seen sporting the remains of a black eye from a 'Gym related incident'.

What I want to know is; who did it and where are they? I'd just like to shake them by the hand and buy them a very large drink.


There really are some people who should think a little more closely about what they write. For example this unhappy soul, who seems to hate it here, and even accuses Canada of being a 'Genocidal state'.

The sound you have just heard is my jaw hitting my keyboard. In the words of John McEnroe, "You have gotta be kidding." I've driven this country coast to coast. Tofino on Vancouver Island BC, over the Rockies through the seemingly limitless flatlands of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba; through Ontario and Quebec out round the Gaspé into New Brunswick then Nova Scotia and the Cape Breton trail. Yet did I find even a hint of genocide? No. Massacres? No. Arguments aplenty, and even the odd rebellion, but apart from the Mohawks kicking up every now and again, it's just like any long running legal battle over specific ownership.

Over here the First Nations have a special status; their own lands (In BC some of the tribes are huge in Property), their own tribal laws, their own Police. The major difficulties appear to arise because (and this is a personal observation), the First Nations are primarily Oral tribal-centred culture(s) and the newcomers (All those pesky European migrants since the 1700's) are primarily from an industrialised culture. All First Nations history appears bound up in their own rituals and legends, and their law of a tribal nature (Each Elder must be consulted for a decision to be valid); whereas the newcomers deal via specialised structures like Government and the Courts. The conflicts that have to be resolved day on day are legion, yet resolved they generally are (Despite much complaining from both sides).

For anyone to claim that Canada is a 'genocidal state' they need to get out a bit more and find out what really makes this place tick.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Those who can....

Popped over to the dear old Torygraph for my daily dose of "Thank God I don't live there any more."

I see that some moron politician by the name of Ed Balls has proposed a 'Licence for teachers', renewable every five to ten years. The bad news for this eye catching initiative is Teachers already have to have a 'licence'. They cannot even get hired without a certificate from the General Teaching Council. Not only that, but they and their schools often get inspected and assessed every three years. I mean, come on.

Maybe we should have, as certain commentators have already suggested, a 'Licence for Politicians'. Basic qualifications; ten years private sector work experience with degree or equivalent in a 'hard' subject like Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry or similar with the stipulation that having a degree in the Political or Social 'Sciences' (Including an MBA) automatically disqualifies any candidate. That should keep some of the riff raff out of politics. Might spare the rest of us from their continual self justification and unskilled tinkering.

Politicians have mooted in the past that bloggers should be licensed, but as bloggers (Apart from those individuals belonging to political spin machines) take no money from the public purse, there is no pressing need. Apart from sparing those in power the serial embarrassment of being caught with their fingers in the proverbial till yet again.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Happy Canada day

Another beautiful but breezy BC morning, and today is Canada day. A national holiday throughout the country. Canadians everywhere are going out to special events, having fun, fishing, cycling, sunbathing, barbequeing or just plain chilling. Some poor beggars are working, but then the whole country can't grind to a complete halt.

Sadly, we are not going to be joining them this time round as we are under the gun re immigration forms. The paperwork is immense. Everything we've ever done has to be on display for immigration to decide whether or not we are worthy of residence. Close relatives have to supply same, and the logistics concerned are quite startling. Every single passport page, education certificate, a years worth of bank statements, and copies of letters and declarations explaining why a box on our immigration forms haven't been ticked. Then this has to be couriered to our immigration lawyers, who will forward it on to the London Visa office at Canada house to sit in someone's in-tray until after Christmas.

Mrs S is in full growl mode and the dog is hiding under the spare bed.

Oh well, at least I have a new chair to blog from. All of fifteen dollars. Could be worse, I suppose, but I'd rather it got easier.

Update: Mrs S has warned me; "Bill, next time we have to do this, it's your turn." Be afraid young William, be very afraid.
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