Monday, 31 August 2009

Leaving on a jet plane

Youngest is winging her way back to blighty on a twenty four hour eastbound trip via Vancouver and Minneapolis. Lots of hugs and promises, and Mrs S was decidedly emotional with separation anxiety. So much so that I didn't sleep at all well last night. Too many tearful elbows in ribs and me speaking very softly to my other half to try and get her around the sometimes self defeating guilt she feels. That and trying to get a decent nights bloody kip.

Said maternal guilt is based around the premise that we no longer live in crowded old England and are not at everybody's beck and call 24 / 7. Mrs S seems to think Youngest still needs her every thirty seconds for a hug, which is not so, although she is still capable of curling herself up on her Mum's lap like a four year old. Youngest is the baby of the family, and babies always impose the greatest gravitational pull on their mother's emotions. What can I say?

In these circumstances I must play the emotional rock and let the sea of female anxiety wash at my habitual stoicism. It's not easy, especially when I'm feeling a bit fragile myself. Despite various fallings out and her tendency to defend her inconveniently manipulative biological father, there is a bond between Youngest and I. Not much, just a little. We can hold grown up conversations on a wide variety of topics, and can even share the odd giggle, even if she tells me I'm a right scary bugger (Her words) sometimes. She's even been known to single her grouchy old stepdad (Me) out for an unsolicited hug.

To the shared relief of Mrs S and I, we have had three (so far) phone calls to say all is well but a trifle boring, and youngest is one third the way back to University. Before that she will be sleeping off the jet lag at her elder sisters place in jolly old Londinium. Eldest is not so much of a traveller as her younger sibling, and tends to be a bit of a hometown girl. As such, we do not often see Eldest this side of the pond. However, I shall sleep with the phone handset by my side of the bed tonight, just in case we get a call in the early hours of the morning our time with the plaintive complaint; "Me bloody sister's not turned up!" At which juncture other relatives will be roused and sent charging to the rescue.

I have photographs of aircraft taking off with youngest waving frantically from window of Seaplane. These must be processed and e-mailed to coincide with her safe arrival. Mrs S will need another 24 hours of comforting, and then I must take care not to let her kick off for the next week. Oh the joys of married life.

On a vaguely related topic, I see that one man is suspected of killing his stepdaughter and then supposed to have hanged himself, and speculation of incestuous doings are rife throughout the media and various blogs, yet we have no evidence of the man's motivation. Was he the predatory sexual monster some have intimated? Was the motive sexual, or was it a little bit more complicated than that. Being a stepfather of girls myself, and thus being better schooled in the emotional complexities of non biological bonding, I will withhold judgment until there are more facts in the public domain. Having grown up amongst those belonging to the 'stands to reason' school of applied (excuse my oxymoron) logical gossip, I will only condemn the action of the girls murder and the man's subsequent (apparent?) suicide, but I won't be calling the lorry driver a paedophile. Not yet. Not until it's been proven. There's something which doesn't smell right about the whole business.

Very few stepfathers are monsters, despite the stories the media feed us.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

A little stepfatherly pride...

I may not be her father, and I don't appear in any of her holiday photographs, I know because she had me burn them onto a CD.

This is one of the perils of being a stepfather. The certain knowledge that your stepchildren do not care enough for you to keep or record an image of you. No keepsake or token of your existence will be held by them, and when you are gone she will edit you out of her Mothers life as though you have never been. Yet despite all this, youngest gives me hope for the future. Hope for the next generation.

Why, apart from massive cognitive dissonance on my part, would I think this? Well, her choice of viewing gives me a clue. She cares about what's right, what's proper and free. I've found myself watching her reactions out the corner of my eye. The movie in question is V for Vendetta, famously slagged off by the UK Labour politicians of the time as 'glorifying terrorism'. She dug the movie out of my collection without overt or tacit influence on my part. She is the one who has tried to watch it repeatedly despite a skipping disk drive (Since fixed).

It doesn't matter that she bears me no real love, and that my own affection for her is not reciprocated. To be honest she thinks more of my dog than me, unless this is some form of transference. It matters that she is all grown up now with her own deeply held moral code (Which I hope I have been influential in the shaping of), and is quite the critical thinker.

When the current batch of politicians have finished wrecking the Western economies, it is the next generation that will pick up the pieces of our broken society and change it for the better. I have this sneaking hopeful feeling that she and her children will be a part of that. Maybe this is a lot to read from the viewing of one movie, but I like to look on the bright side that the generation I have helped nurture will bring real hope and change for the better. Not just empty rhetoric. If you'll forgive me I will indulge myself in a little pride at this one tiny achievement. I approve of her.


Keep on seeing stories about the UK Met offices gi-normous 'pooter Deep Black 'creating' thousands of tons of 'carbon pollution'. Yet still it can't make a weather prediction better than Piers Corbyn with his solar charts and pocket calculator.

Mind you, I suppose all the techies at the Met Office need something that can play a network game of Halo2 or World of Warcraft on Vista without appreciably slowing down. So far said machine has proved less than effective at mid to long term weather forecasting so it has to be used for something. Three years on the trot the UK Met office has got it's outlook forecasting disastrously wrong. Barbecue summer anyone? Snigger. ROFL. The year we left the UK (2007) it was chucking it down, major floods, UK summer 2008 was likewise a washout, and now 2009. Three years wrong predictions should be telling them that their models are like models everywhere; very little to do with real life, no matter how much computing power is thrown at them. Furthermore, said machine has a two month boot up cycle, which kind of makes my antiquated Thinkpad running Windows 98SE look like a champeen performer.

Like all this climate change mallarkey, it's a massive waste of taxpayer dollar / pound / euro / whatever, and anyone with half a functioning brain cell can see that. The models don't work because the premise behind them has to be fatally flawed. Minor atmospheric trace gas as major climate driver? Pull the other one Guv'nor.

Maybe all those Met Office boffins who are trying to 'prove' global warming with their climate models should re learn the scientific method. You know, use the data to work out the answer, and not work the data to prove their chosen answer.

There's also all the brain-dead 'climate change' protesters (Not a Science or Engineering degree worth spit in a busload) who want everyone else to fall in line with their Neo Malthusian nonsense. As someone who happily recycles and lives a relatively 'green' lifestyle I'm not impressed.

Tell you what boys and girls, if you think this world is so over populated, go fall on your swords and leave the rest of us in peace. Alternatively, yea and verily go thou out into the wilderness and live off carbon credits. Live in a commune or ashram in the wilderness. Become 'breatharians' (But keep your CO2 emissions to a minimum). Put your own well being where your mouths are. See how long you last without all the industry based support mechanisms of the modern world. Take Uncle Al Gore and all the other Global Warming advocates with you. You won't be missed. Let the real environmentalists highlight things like deforestation, pollution and overfishing. We need more trees and fish, and less pollution.

Stuff 'em all. I've got important things to do and my Dog has found a dead seal on the beach which should keep him happily occupied for days.

Friday, 28 August 2009

A night at the movies

Mrs S, Youngest and I went to see a movie last night. Julie & Julia. Verdict; excellent. Two thumbs up. Meryl Streep is magnificent as larger than life 1950's American cook, Julia Child, with the ever splendid Stanley Tucci in support.

Great movie, go and see it. It's worth it for the Lobster and chicken gags alone, although vegetarians and vegans won't be impressed. A real foodie movie.

It even made up for being dragged round the shops for three hours beforehand, it was that good. Tremendous enjoyment, and I empathised every step of the way with the way Merly Streep acted when her character finally got her cookery book published. Brill.

Now if only they'd kick that pious proselytizing pseudo environmentalist David Suzuki off the screen on the pre show adverts, the evening would have been even better. I don't know why his lecturing style irritates me, only that it does.

Thursday, 27 August 2009


This is a post I wrote a few weeks ago about some of the stresses we’ve been going through. Specifically Mrs S’s reactions to immigration setbacks. Fortunately she’s past the negative stuff now, but at the time I was completely backed into a corner and contemplating all sorts of dire scenarios.
…Just made a nice supper this evening. A nice slab of Sockeye that I’d barbecued. Three of my delicious nine minute boiled eggs, toast, lettuce and a smattering of seafood fried in olive oil and butter before being chilled.

Mrs S turns up from work in a foul mood and promptly stains the whole evening because of a damned half-assed e-mail from our Immigration Lawyers saying the bank statement we’ve provided them with isn’t current. Immigration Lawyer is an idiot. Bank statement is dated June 2009 in top right hand corner, three weeks before we collated our package of documentation and sent it to her in July. Last transaction date on savings account when the interest had its yearly calculation in January 2009. I try to phone. Immigration Lawyers offices in Quebec are shut at this time of day. Mrs S gets all tearful and there’s not a thing I can say or do to ease her mind. She’s made her mind up it’s a bloody disaster, and nothing I can say or do will make a sodding difference.

To try and ease her pain a little so we could talk I got her a drink. Made her a cup of tea to help her wind down. Tried to talk. What happens? I got the figurative door in my face. This was driving me crazy. I put the supper on the table after she had the drinks, sit down to eat and what happens? She goes to the kitchen to get something, scuffs her foot and promptly collapses in floods. That was it. I had to take the dog for a walk. She ate alone. My appetite deserted me. I just felt sick and supper went to waste.

Yet again I’m at my bloody wits end and don’t know what to do. It’s like the woman I married has read all the books on how not to be unhappy and is doing the exact opposite of what they recommend. The least little thing gets her tearful and I’m buggered if I can understand why. We can’t move forward like this if she’s going to behave like the annoying archetypal girl in the slasher B-movie who falls over, twists her heel, screams and slows everyone down just as the hero is leading everyone else to safety. I’m supposed to be strong for both of us, but even the strongest have to ask for quarter sometime.

I hate it when she’s like this; it turns everything sour and no one can enjoy anything. The best food and wine are ashes in my mouth, I can’t think logically and fix whatever is going awry because if I even try I’m yapping at empty branches and the monkeys are throwing rocks from other trees. I can’t touch her or offer comfort because everything I do will be wrong. My normally eloquent tongue is nailed firmly down in my mouth for fear I will make things worse. I feel so bloody useless. “This is going to give me a bloody heart attack.” I said at one point, the words pushed out of my lips by the sheer frustration of it all. My appetite disappeared and I’m still desperately trying to leave the whiskey bottle alone. I feel I’m backed into a corner with no way out. I feel depressed by any measure of the word.

I want to throw something big and heavy and watch it smash, cut my stupid traitorous heart out with a kitchen knife, drive the bloody car off a cliff. Anything but just sit here and take it all the bloody time. Christ knows I do my best, but I'm constrained by work permits, circumstance and finance and having to tough it out because there’s no current alternative is no bloody fun what-so-fucking ever.

This isn’t right. Here we are, living in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, superb vistas, impossibly blue skies, lovely weather, nice neighbours and she’s miserable at the drop of a hat. All the resilience that should be there isn’t, and guess who’s in the firing line when her frustrations boil over. The emotional shrapnel wounds bloody hurt, and I’ve no-one to talk to but a computer screen.

I can feel a tightening in my chest every time this happens and I’m sure at some stage the stress and frustration will kill me in the not too distant future. The constant overstimulation of my parasympathetic nervous reaction may cause a rapid build up of atheroma in my coronary arteries until one gets blocked and there is a massive, terminal, cardiac infarction. The affected triangle shaped section of heart muscle will die and rupture causing a massive bleed into my pericardium. My heart will literally break. I will be at an end, and to be brutal I’m not so sure this will be a bad thing. It is at this point the darkness within me speaks up to say sneeringly; “When it’s all over and the endless night reclaims your petty consciousness; won’t that be a relief, eh, Mister ever so clever Bill Sticker?” I don’t want to agree, but the logic appears flawless from where I’m sitting. The way I feel right now, a bullet in the head would be the ideal personification of God’s infinite mercy.

Yet to let that happen would be the ultimate cop out, the easy way. There are people depending upon me to do my job. There are talks to be given, projects to be completed. People in genuine need.

The irony is that the following day I called the immigration Lawyers and pointed out their error re information on Bank statement. Immediate apology and retraction of half-assed e-mail. Yes, everything fine. No problem, everything looking great. Well thank the Lord for that.

Blood and sand.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A brief obituary

I don't usually comment on the passing of a politician, but in this case I will make an exception and break my usual habit of de mortuis nil nisi bonum. Senator Edward Kennedy is dead. Well I can't say I'm sorry to hear the news. Perhaps the fires in a small corner of Hell are burning a little brighter.

For Mary Jo Kopechne who he left to drown alone.

For the victims of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, for which he was openly complicit in raising money for terrorist weapons . 'Campaigner for peace'? Hah!

Now Ex-Senator Edward Kennedy is being lauded by the new US President for his 'achievements'. Oh dearie me. I'm sure the Northern Irish graveyards, and in some cases the unmarked and unknown graves funded by Senator Kennedy's efforts are not unappreciative. As someone with Irish antecedents I feel disgusted that the UK government gave him an honorary knighthood. Not in my name, say I. Nor in the name of my family.

He is gone. Today the world feels a little (But not much) cleaner.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Mojo working is

For months I've been looking at my writing output with a modicum of despair. Poorly constructed arguments, rubbish sentence structure (No I don't usually write like this), disjointed paragraphs, poor vocabulary and ugly metaphors. Today for some reason my mojo is most definitely working overtime to make up for the shortfall. My second manuscript is virtually writing itself and finally the characters have taken on real personalities that you can actually relate to. They bitch, they are fallible, by turns unstable and steadfast, the heroes are flawed but credible, and the villains plausible yet deeply unpleasant. Five thousand words of good, solid copy and dialogue so far today and I'm still going strong.

I'm actually rather enjoying myself.

Last act of a drama

Mrs S and youngest have got the trusty (or not so) battlebus all fixed and are homeward bound from Kamloops. My sigh of relief when they return home safely will be heard clear across the mountains to Tofino.

Truth be told, when it comes to my families well being I'm a bit of an old worry wart. Their safety is very important to me, and I would take a proverbial bullet for each of them should the need arise. Although, given the choice, I would prefer re engineering the situation so they don't end up getting shot at in the first place.

It's a long drive to the ferry and a rendezvous in the early hours of the morning, but there's one thing I'm sure of; Next time they fly.

Well this is going to work......not

Just read the outline of how the UK government intends to prevent 'illegal downloading' of material from the Internet and am trying to stop laughing. They really don't get it do they?

I write this because there are holes in this proposal big enough to drive the proverbial truck through. According to the proposal, Internet connections of 'persistent offenders' will be 'cut' or have their download speeds 'throttled'. Oh dearie me. What a bunch of bozos. They want to control something, but really have no idea how it works. Identifying the 'illegal downloaders' requires a closed, stable network, with fixed identifiable IP addresses and machine names. It pays no attention to Wi-Fi devices which can access the Internet and download anywhere there's a decent signal. For example, Youngest has an iTouch which can download music and videos off any public Wi-Fi point. If you move around a town with any modern laptop or netbook and use the many free Wi-Fi services, then accessing peer to peer sites is a snip. Simply accessing a peer to peer file sharing site via anonymous proxies can help dodge the bullet on these proposals. Jeeezus! These UK control freak politicians really have no idea about technology have they?

Just when you think there's no more stupidity to ridicule, along comes a UK Government Minister parading his ignorance like a fourth of July celebration. On the very subject for which he is supposed to be Minister. In the words of the sage of sages, Bugs Bunny; Whattta maroon! They don't even believe in Internet Gremlins.

I need tea.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Oh dear....and ouch

Mrs S and youngest were due back this evening. At one o'clock this afternoon I received a plaintive phone call. "We're in Kamloops." Said my other half.
"Why?" Says I. Kamloops is five hours driving and a two and a half hour ferry ride away.
"The car was chugging at the traffic lights."

There followed several strained telephone conversations, both with Mrs S and the Service Manager of a local Ford Dealership. The upshot is that the transmission on our old grey battlebus has blown a gasket, which will require around seven hundred dollars plus to fix. Mrs S came over all stressed, and I put my best talking head on to keep her calm. The upshot is that Mrs S and youngest are stranded for two days in Kamloops waiting for the car to be fixed. I am left wincing at the size of a large unexpected bill which just wiped out my last paycheque. We'll cope, but it's just inconvenient. A client still owes me money for work done (Invoice put in four months ago, several reminders sent, second Invoice just submitted), so no extra tea, toast or treaties for a while. Bummer.

To keep my spirits up I'll end with a small joke which seems appropriate;
Percy the Amazing Penguin is driving through a small town on a hot day when his car goes phut and coasts to a stop. Of course he's 'amazing', you ever hear of another Penguin who can drive a car? Percy gets a tow into the local Garage, and having ensured that his car will be fixed that afternoon, goes to visit the local ice cream parlour.

Percy being a highly stressed Penguin, much comfort eating of Vanilla ice cream ensues. The day being hot, a lot of ice cream ends up all over Percy's beak. While in the ice cream parlour, greedily scarfing another pint of ice cream, Percy gets a text message summoning him urgently to the Garage where his car is being fixed. So quickly does Percy leave the ice cream parlour that he forgets to wash the melted ice cream off his beak. Arriving at the Garage all stressed, out of breath and his face covered in ice cream, Percy demands of the mechanic; "What is it? What's wrong?"
"Well it's fixed, no problem." Says the mechanic.
"But what happened?" Demands Percy.
"It looks like you just blew a seal." Says the mechanic. Percy suddenly catches sight of his ice cream daubed beak in his reflection and goes bright pink in embarrassment.
"No, it's really just ice cream." Said Percy.
You have to laugh of you'd go daft.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Weekend alone

Mrs S and youngest left me on my lonesome with my dog this weekend while they went over to a weekend conference in mainland BC. The chores are done, I've been fishing, and the house looks like a rubbish bomb has hit it because I defaulted to bachelor mode. Why? Why not? I wanted a lazy couple of days is why. Yet when Mrs S and youngest return tomorrow eve, all will be clean and fresh, and my other half will be none the wiser.

What has happened? Not a lot apart from the odd spot of unwelcome wildlife in neighbour folks Koi pond. Unwelcome wildlife butchered all the fish in the pond, which has much displeased neighbours. They tried traps etc, but to no avail. I did suggest snares but I've got a sneaking feeling that course of action would have the local wildlife officer down on them like a thousand kilo's of rectangular clay building things. Not a happy thought. Also suggested a 5mm perspex sheet with a number of two inch holes drilled in it hidden just under the water. The idea being that unwelcome wildlife would take a header after viewing juicy looking sushi and Splash! Bonk! Unwelcome wildlife gets a perspex induced migraine, and elects not to use their Koi pond as a feeding station again; pain being a great teaching aid. Well, that's the preferred outcome. Failing that, I was going to suggest stringing 30lb fishing line across the pond, just under the surface, but then neighbour folk would have had to deal with highly pissed off wildlife tangled up in the line in the small hours. So mayhap this was not such a good idea.

Did some worthwhile writing on my latest manuscript. Good character and story driven dialogue which kind of gets me out of a rather sticky plot conundrum by switching narrative threads. Don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.

What the hell, the weather's been gorgeously sunny and not too hot. Mr Brain is ticking over nicely without ten million intrusive domestic details and left field questions to fret over, yet the chores are getting done without any fuss and palaver. Time to feed the dog.

Dan Hannan speaks..

At the US Army and Navy club. Now I've developed quite an admiration for Dan over the past few months. He stands for the individual and not an unrepresentative state, and is that rarest of beasts, an honest politician.

H/T The Last Ditch and Theo Spark

Watch and pass it on.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Utter cobblers

Saw this 'news' story and had to stifle a 'what a bunch of pathetic idiots' that rose unbidden to my lips.

If you read the story, which is a prime example of lazy cut and paste journalism, you'd think this is a new phenomenon. Gasp! Bad people running amok with GUNS! Lawks! We're all gonna get our froats slit in our BEDS! Help, help! Call nine one one! Call out the militia, cos we're all a-gonna DIE! Well excuse me, but this is a complete load of utter bollocks.

I'm going to pour cold water on this one because there's nothing new about shotgun peppered roadsigns in the UK. People potting street furniture in rural areas has been going on ever since a drunken Farmer Brown first took exception to these manifestations of the Highway code late one night. It happens in rural Canada, the USA, probably in China, Russia, Australia, or wherever. I've passed shotgun peppered warning signs in France, Germany Italy, Switzerland and Spain. My first recollection of the practice came when my Dad drew my attention to one such example when I was a mere stripling of ten years. Less than a quarter mile from our doorstep. Was anyone shot to death? No.

The culprits are generally otherwise respectable folk who've been out 'lamping' for vermin in the dead of night, and have had a nip or two to keep the cold out of their bones. Mostly young guys, but I've heard of one incident where a very respectable pillar of the community took a dislike to a particular speed limit sign, and gave it both barrels of his Purdey in the early hours of one morning. As kids, specific unpopular road signs were often targets for catapults, rocks and airgun pellets when no one was looking. No-one ever got hurt. It was usually a protest at a specific unpopular council decision, so to draw attention to such practices as 'sniping', is hyperbole of the first order. One guy I recall was stupid enough to get caught shooting at road signs and lost his shotgun licence for a year, but that was the worst of it.

The RAC foundation spokesman in question is obviously wetter than a Halibuts breakfast and needs to grow a pair. Must be the silly season.

Just confirming what I always knew...

My Political Views
I am a center-right moderate social libertarian
Right: 2.8, Libertarian: 2.91

Political Spectrum Quiz

Friday, 21 August 2009

I remember Lockerbie

I remember Lockerbie very well. In December 1988 I was working my way through college working as a van driver, and said village was on my regular run from the UK Midlands up to Edinburgh, twice a month. An early start to arrive for 8am at a wholesalers on the Kirkcaldy Road. The job just about paid my tuition, course fees and rent with the odd few pennies over for a beer or two at a weeks end.

The day before the terrorist-bombed 747 fell to earth and obliterated several houses in that village I'd driven past (Once northbound, once southbound) with barely a glance. All Lockerbie meant to me was a mile marker on the A74(M). The following evening I watched blurred BBC footage of the whole village ablaze, and burning debris on the road. Repeated images like the above of the eggshell fragile nose section lying crushed, misshapen and embedded in Scottish soil. All that I could think at the time was; There by the grace of God go we all.

Two weeks later I drove past on my regular run up to Edinburgh and saw a fire stripped low hillock where houses had overlooked the highway. A long half oval section trench in the blasted earth pointing obliquely towards the road, some three or four metres deep. On the hard shoulder there were a couple of gawkers, but apart from that the road was pretty well deserted. Just as if all the regular traffic was in mourning for the people whose lives were involuntarily ripped away; both at thirty one thousand feet, and for those who died in the fires on the ground. For my part I could not imagine why that aircraft? Why those people?

Even now I have an awful mental image of people tumbling and screaming in free fall, shards of flaming aircraft falling with them. Freezing air stripped from their lungs at high altitude. Did they burn? Was the pain too awful? Sometimes my imagination is a little too gruesome. I do remember remember praying quietly to the little bit of God I know that the passengers and crew had not suffered.

Then I ask myself for what did these people die? Were they active combatants? No. In an active war zone? No. A 'revenge' attack for an Iranian airliner that was shot down when it wouldn't change course? Maybe. All I know is that every time innocent people die in terrorist related incidents, it is, to use a latin phrase culled from the Domesday Book, wasta est(It is a waste). A waste of resource, a waste of lives, a pointless destruction of tomorrows which will only generate revenge. What did it achieve? Did anything positive arise from it? No. Just like 9/11, a capricious, pointless, and above all, ugly gesture at the wrong target.

Now the man convicted of the bombing has been set free, arriving to a heroes welcome in Libya. He will die shortly. Some say he was not guilty, a Judas goat to placate outraged American public opinion. I do not know. I do not think we will ever know for certain.

When it comes to my recollection of Lockerbie, the only thing I know for certain is that innocents died for nothing. It achieved nothing positive. It brought no victims back from the dead. It brought no peace. No justice. It didn't help any displaced Palestinians. It did not serve God. Perhaps that is the true punishment for the perpetrators is knowing that the murders they committed that night served no purpose at all, and thus render the murderers without use or purpose. Perhaps understanding that pointlessness is the Hell they so richly deserve.

Now this is art

From the Kipling poem come the words "Yes it's good, but is it art?" I think on this occasion that this Ukranian performance from Kseniya Simonova gets a hearty 'yes' on all levels. A story is told utilising a dynamic medium in front of a live audience. The symbolism of which evinces a genuine response from the witnesses. No wonder this is going viral. All from her performance in 'Ukraine's got talent'.

H/T Bishop Hill from Samizdata.

I'm seriously impressed.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

If you can't beat 'em - join 'em

Well I've succumbed. Heard so much about these wonderful Carbon trading thingy's that I had to go get myself a few million.

Feel left out? Want to salve your 'green conscience'? Need to keep up with the oh so irritatingly smug and eco-friendly Jones's? Hang one of these in your den / office / living room when your annoying 'green' friends / neighbours come to call and watch them drool.

Want to contribute to Al Gore's retirement fund? Be an instant Carbon millionaire? Well wait no more. Go get your Carbon credits here. Absolutely no purchase necessary.

H/T Wattsupwithat

Snigger. Pass it on.


Well, it's officially the silly season in the UK press. You might expect this sort of thing in the UK's Sunday Sport or the USA's National Enquirer, but zombies? According to one august organ who should remain nameless, the killer (my paraphrase) sentence appears right towards the end of the article;
(The research)..... was conducted by one professor and three students, whose ‘research’ consisted mainly of watching zombie films and playing video games.
Heavy sigh. Groan.. Stagger. Where's me fishing gear? I'm off to find sanity at the waters edge.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Honey, I blew up the router

Have been offline for the past day or so due to a technical failure. I was trying to change the security settings on my old wireless router and in the process of trying to reset after a typo in the wireless key managed to screw up the router. The result was that I had to purchase a brand spanking new wireless router which, obviously, is now up and running.

That'll teach me to watch what I'm typing in future. Smacked wrist! Silly Bill!

Sunday, 16 August 2009


All is right with my particular little bit of the world for the moment. Dog is snoozing lightly snuggled at his master's feet, the apartment has been cleaned top to bottom. Well, it will be by this afternoon; I'm just taking a short blogging break.

Did have a problem with our little 4x4 which turned out to be a loose oil sensor causing a knock on effect that made the engine cut out. Refitted the loose sensor after cleaning all the clag off it with some WD40. Have treated it with some oil and a tank of 89 octane gasoline and now it purrs up hill and down dale like a big ol' pussycat. I've even given it a wash.

The kitchen is cleaned and I just have to give the bathroom (and the dog) the once over and my chores are done. Mrs S and I take turns to do this, and I try not to be too competent at cleaning, or else she'll insist I get the scrubbing brushes out every spare moment I have. Heavy sigh. It begins when you sink into her arms, it ends with your arms in her sink.

After I'm done I'm going to bunk off for an hour or twos fishing this afternoon when the tide is full. The rod is refurbished with two hundred feet of new 30lb line to compensate for my improved casting. I may take a beer with me. The rest of the world can carry on without my input for a while. It's a lovely day and I shall be seeing our youngest later on this evening when Mrs S and she return from Vancouver.

Not evil, just wrong

Pass it on.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

How about sod off.....

Another "Thank God I live in Canada" moment. The UK powers that be are suggesting that everyone must dance (Or what else?) I can't, having like so many others the proverbial two left feet. Enforced dancing is a crime against my Terpsichorean challenged feet. That and said feet are excused dancing shoes due to work boot induced plantar fasciitis.

Please Mr / Ms / Mrs Visa processing person, tick the box to make me a permanent resident of Canada so I don't have to go back to that insane asylum. Ever.

Why in the name of all the gods can't the UK's political elite just SOD OFF AND LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE! Politics isn't the answer. Politics doesn't fix anything. Although one of these might if applied with the correct angular momentum to a politician or one of their camp followers.

Politicians of whatever stripe aren't smarter than the rest of us, all they're good at is getting elected. After that they should be immediately locked up so they can do the least harm. Like in Terry Pratchetts Last Continent.

Excuse me, I've been drinking. Sometimes it's the only time that stuff like this actually makes sense.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Two questions...

There are a couple of questions that are bugging the hell out of me, and have been for some time. Being only a thickie and not able to understand all the physics that get bandied about, although to me a lot of the seemingly high powered and jargon filled papers seem to come from the 'baffle with bullshit' school of thinking. Lots of talk about proxies which aren't, and peer reviews which tell John Q Public next to nothing. Although having had engineering training I'll warrant I know a little more about latent heat and the method of mixtures molecular weights, and materials technology than many AGW 'believers'. You know, boring stuff like real physics, and not the fantasy versions you hear being taught.

First question. Despite multiple failures of varied 'Global Warming' doomsaying prophesies, and with physical proof and empirical evidence (Arctic not melting, lower average global temperatures) now pointing to Carbon Dioxide being less than a bit player in the natural cycles of Earth's climate, why do high level politicians still insist that "we're aaalll dooomed" unless we stop giving off CO2?

Second question. Why did various governments 'bail out' certain banks and effectively nationalise them so readily?

Now I have my own thoughts on both matters, and would like to link both questions to a common thread. My logic may be less than impeccable, as I possibly lack certain pertinent facts. On the other hand, my bullshit detector array has been twitching wildly whenever various politicians and soi disant 'environmentalists' pontificate upon either topic.

The easy answer to both is 'follow the money', but where is that going? Over the past twenty (Possibly forty plus) years by my observation, we have seen a gradual sea change in the power structures of the Western Democracies. A new political elite has arisen and slowly supplanted the old order. This new and very loose grouping, come from a predominantly academic background, and go from University Activist to Party Faithful to Elected Representative because this is their alleyway to power. The respective party machines they are part of are geared up to fight elections more effectively than an independent ever could because they make use of the societal polarisations e.g. Conservative vs Liberal and so on, that we are all used to following.

Because the new elite have no real money such as currency based on finance derived from an agricultural or industrial financial base, they cannot rely on the old 'mutual' system and must therefore create their own. Said financial power base relies on the creation of the putative 'Carbon economy' in which the investment houses can speculate. The new elite need to consolidate their power base with new channels of money, hence the 'need' for a 'carbon trading' which appear little more than a tax masquerading as a commodity. This seems behind all the otherwise groundless scare stories we the public are bombarded with.

The investment banks which gambled with 'sub prime' products (High risk mortgages) over a property bubble are another. The subsequent collapse of several high profile investment banks can be cited as a proof. Bail outs were required because the new elite, whose speculative fortunes these banks manage, would have otherwise faced penury when their dosh was subject to a massive and some would say necessary deflation. The rest of us would have been hurt financially by the contraction of these investment markets, but not nearly so badly as the new elite. But better the little people should go to the wall, rather than them eh? Hence the mortgaging of our own, and our children's futures.

If asked, I would prophesy a further collapse because a certain level of genuine wealth generating economic activity is required to support such large political edifices. I think it was Terry Pratchett who pithily observed that it takes forty people with their feet on the ground to support one with his head in the air (Small Gods).

Now all this imperfect thinking can easily be dismissed as the ravings of a solo whack job conspiracy theorist, but being that particular lone voice I'm not so sure. I was bright enough to see the current mess coming and sell up almost at the top of the market. Had Mrs S and I stayed put in the same jobs and house we'd both be hating every minute, and probably a lot worse off; both in terms of quality of life, and financially. We got out just in time.

Now whilst I do not ascribe to the 'Bilderburg' and 'New World Order' conspiracy theories, I do recognise that the power structure of the Western Democracies is changing and has changed. We are getting a very different breed of politician selected to be on our ballot papers in the late 20th and early 21st centuries because of the highly polarized party system, and the reluctance of voters to change political horses or gamble on an independent. What the electorate need is statesmanship and true leadership, but all we get is empty rhetoric and cleverly scripted sound bites from well oiled party machines, those highly specialised fund raising and vote catching juggernauts. In some respects, voting can be rather like going to a fancy restaurant and only being presented with a set and highly limited menu. Democracy? Mmmmm, sort of.

Not that my observations and opinions are worth the hard disk they sit on of course.

Current reading:
'Meltdown' by Thomas E Woods
'The Wizard of Menlo Park' a biography of Thomas Alva Edison by Randall Stross

On a more useful note, my casting technique is improving. I did the most perfect lobbing cast of my entire life this afternoon. Pity it stripped all the line off my reel leaving me without lure or line. Bummer.

Rain is good

Yesterday's rain has damped everything down locally, and hopefully helped damp down all those wildfires on the mainland. Personally speaking I like Canadian rain. Rain is good. It wets the bones of the country and strengthens them. It brings coolness and damps down the mosquitoes and other biting insects.

When rain falls here for more than a couple of hours, the forests look as though the hills are on fire. The gross transpiration of the trees pushing huge clouds of water vapour into the air. It's quite spectacular.

Yesterday my day job took me on a hundred mile trek up Island and it poured every single mile. Was I bothered? Not one jot. Did I need special waterproofs? No. Not in British Columbian Summer rain. It's like the rain in Ireland is reputed to be, soft and healing. Not chill, harsh and miserable like English precipitation, but vaguely warm, gentle and polite as most Canadians are. Maybe it's something in the water. I don't know. All I do know is that it's not unpleasant, even nice.

Thursday; As it's raining again today, here's an update with what I think are some of the coolest rock intro's ever put together from the 70'sand 80's (I think there are even a couple of 90's tracks in there somewhere)
My all time favourite being the opening track for 'concerto for a rainy day'.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Clearing the decks

In preparation for two week long visit of youngest from the UK, Mrs S and I spent Sunday turning our apartment upside down. Mrs S has tired of reading up on Feng Shui, and picked up one of these interior design books about the Indian discipline of Vastu. This means that I have spent my day moving furniture around. The joys of cosy domesticity eh?

I ended up having to fix the TV when a cable broke, leaving half a phono plug rather awkwardly jammed in the DVD video feed socket. Once I'd cleared the socket, which involved stripping off the TV's casing, and shoving the broken piece out from the inside, a new cable was purchased and I'm keeping the old one as a spare in case Mrs S manages to break one of our Hi-fi leads. My dearest one does have a propensity for moving things without looking, and when I hear a thump followed by her particular cry of frustration I know it's time to reach for my tool kit. Sigh, all makes work for the working man etcetera, etcetera..

In spite of that, the apartment looks more spacious, my dog likes his new sleeping arrangements underneath the TV, and the vacuum cleaner nearly packed up with all the dust bunnies and dog hair it had to swallow. I'm prepared to put up with the current disruption to my working routine because I get the place to myself for two whole weekends while les girls spend time shopping in Vancouver and Kelowna next weekend and the one after. Me? I have a couple of local fishing spots scouted out, and intend to pursue the life piscatorial while nobody's looking.

Pay for news?

News is that a certain Australian / American entrepreneur is going to be charging for online content at his 'news' organisation. Oh dear. I see a massive own goal coming up.

The only thing that will save the scheme is if the news organisation in question has some pretty wonderful content or they're going to end up with a readership even smaller than mine.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

More on ID cards

What's the point of spending oodles of recession strapped taxpayers cash on a high technology project which no-one really needs (and a great many of us don't want), to address a problem it cannot fix.

The UK Home Office claim that high technology ID cards will help in the 'fight against terrorists' forgets one salient fact; the 9/11 maniacs, the Madrid bombers, the 7/7 bombers all had legitimate government issued ID. Every last single one of them. They were all, as far as the bureaucracy was concerned, totally legitimate and legal.

Now I don't mind carrying identification. My British Columbia driving licence covers me for most things. I have a modern UK passport, and as a law abiding citizen, no criminal record apart from one (Paid) speeding ticket picked up in Ontario.

My problem with the UK Home Office scheme is this; it puts al your identity eggs in one basket. Tax, health, everything. Lose it and someone else has your life. Using the technology currently available they can make a couple of minor modifications and strip you of everything you own. The card technology is readily hackable as proven by one researcher, thus making a would-be ID thieves life very easy. It's quite literally offering terror organisations and criminals a free lunch.

The point is, while you have disparate pieces of identification, if you're careful, the ID thieves have to work quite hard to defraud you. On the other hand, with one size fits all ID, that's all the criminals will need, your card. Maybe it's just my over active imagination, but I prophesy a wholesale business murdering people and destroying their bodies just for these wonderful one-does-everything ID cards. The cards stolen will be hacked, modified and increase the opportunities for terrorists to operate even more freely than currently. In the UK, someone's life will be worth the price they paid for their ID card. Quite a chilling thought, isn't it?

The only way to beat terrorism is a solid hearts and minds programme which removes the root grievance. Failing that, forced expulsion of the entire sub group responsible for the terrorist acts. Both have been shown to work, historically speaking. Forcing the rest of a resentful populace to carry ID cards won't.

Me, I'm just hoping my permanent residency gets fully processed so I can kick off my Canadian citizenship application and never have to reapply for a UK passport or any other UK ID again. Speed the day.

Friday, 7 August 2009

There is no such thing as man made climate change

Now my headline might suggest that this is just another 'denier' op-ed. Far from it. In a report issued today, Friday 7th August 2009, from Oregon State University in collaboration with scientists from the Geological Survey of Canada, University of Wisconsin, Stockholm University, Harvard University, the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Ulster, a team of researchers claim to have identified the cause of our ever changing climate. It's all down to solar variability and variations in Earth's orbit around the sun. The irregularity of the Earth's orbital 'tilt' is in there too. CO2 isn't in it. Ergo all the panic over Coal, oil and gas Co2 output is just that; irrational. Wind and Solar simply can't supply sufficient energy for Western needs.

Read the press release from Oregon State University, and a far more informed commentary than I can ever give over at Ah, I feel much better now. Almost vindicated.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

New store in town

Yesterday I pandered to my atavistic self and spent a whole hour in the new Wholesale Sports Outdoor Outfitters which opened at the end of last week just off the Island Highway in Nanaimo. There's no direct access off the highway because the entrance is off Wellington Road which is a minor nuisance. However, it's jam packed with good stuff, even if you can pick up the odd item cheaper in Canadian Tire. What has me wagging my metaphorical tail is the sheer range of stuff they have.

Went and had a salivate at the Archery section and drooled over all the stuff that you can't buy over the counter in the UK for fear of giving the Home Secretary a heart attack (Broadhead arrow points etc.). Talked to the guy on the counter who said yes they would be getting traditional materials for the dedicated traditional field archer (Cedar shafts, nocking points and all that jazz). He picked up on my accent (Which I'm keeping for tax purposes) and was pretty scathing about the hunting laws in the UK. Being a bit of a hunter gatherer at heart I tend to agree, although I'm aware that the UK is an ever more crowded place these days and you can't have every Tom, Dick or whoever popping off without some form of control like we used to do when I was fifteen. My home town used to boast three very good gun stores, now there aren't any. Did all the knee jerk legislation after Dunblane do a thing to the UK crime rate? Did it buggery.

Over here you can buy machete's for brush clearance almost as long as your arm providing you have valid ID, and I must say their gun counter looked rather enticing, and might just be worth jumping through the hoops to get a hunting licence for. Although I might just stay with a bow, being a trained Archer, just for the physical challenge it adds. Bow hunting has it's own season (which is two weeks longer than season for hunting with a rifle), and Mrs S is quite happy for me to 'buddy up' and disappear into the forest to see if I can bring home some venison. My very good lady knows exactly who I am, bless her.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

On the menu

It's mossie season again, and everywhere I go I seem to run into a cloud of the hungry little bleeders, going "Mmmm, O rhesus positive, my favourite and such a ripe vintage. Yum." If I have to pass through any woodland or swamp areas I find myself swatting at my wrists and ankles like some comedy German in Lederhosen doing the thigh slapping dance.

I've tried all sorts of repellents, creams, antihistamines and antiseptics and hiding in a hermetically sealed box after nine pm in the evening wearing long trousers but my legs still look like they've been hit by a megaton range acne bomb. A visit to a new local sports store had brought some relief with some heavy duty anti mosquito coils and a little pen gizmo that does give some relief from the maddening itching sensation that keeps me awake at night.

Mrs S, who knows about these things tells me; "It's because you're so hot blooded love." Well, she should know. Now if only I could stop these bloody insect bites itching. There must be at least two dozen on either leg.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Helpful hint for UK Immigrants to Canada

The latest waypoint on our journey passed this morning courtesy of an e-mail from our distant but helpful immigration lawyers. Since we got bumped up the waiting list it's been a frantic scramble to assemble all sorts of paperwork for our application. Mrs S shouted from the spare bedroom where the 'pooter lives calling thus in that particular tone that always puts me at action stations. "Bill! You'd better have a look at this."

Fearing the worst I forgot all about preparing breakfast and quickstepped into the office. "What's up?" I asked, wondering what was wrong. I read and re read the e-mail from our immigration lawyers again. No, no problem that I could see, application looks good (The word 'great' was actually used), TEF (French language) test results better than expected.... Oh.

At the bottom of the e-mail read a little note said that although the rest of our application was fine, there was one detail we had overlooked; UK Police certificates. Shit. Was my immediate unspoken reaction. I took a deep breath and said; "Hand me the phone love. What's the Lawyers number?" Did a little mental arithmetic to work out what time it was at our Lawyers office in Quebec and dialled. Unlike previous attempts at phoning our Lawyer, I was pleasantly surprised to be put straight through by the French accented receptionist.
"Hi, William Sticker here." I said pleasantly and quoted our case file number, not knowing quite what to expect, but went and asked what I desperately hoped wasn't a stupid question anyway. "Erm, just asking about these Police checks. Do we really need a Police certificate from the UK?"
"Oh yes. From every country you have ever lived in for more than six months." Spake our Immigration Lawyer. Oops, didn't know that.
"Will a British CRB check do?"
"No." So Canadian immigration doesn't trust them either.
"Oh, how do we go about getting one of these certificates?" Said I, knowing that any such certificate would arrive at least three weeks too late to go with our main application.
"No problem, I'll send you the link." Spake our Lawyer, and here it is. A short conversation later, we had established that it wasn't a problem if the Police Certificates had to follow our main application, no, immigration were used to stuff arriving late like this, and it shouldn't delay our application for permanent residency. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Mrs S deflating with relief as she earwigged in on the phone conversation.

Half an hour later we were scratching our heads and reading through the notes about what information ACPO needed to verify that we were law abiding citizens of the UK with no besmirchment on our legal records apart from the odd parking ticket laid on Mrs S many moons ago. Until it came to verifying our current appearances.
"Someone we've known for two years?" I said.
"What about my sister?" Said Mrs S.
"Er no, her job has to be on this list." I ran down the list of 'professions' that could verify our photographs for us without an expensive round trip to the UK, mentally ticking people off the list as I went. A gradual leaden feeling hunkered down in my belly until; "Bingo!" I cried. "Thank you God!" Throwing my hands up in the air like a supplicant. Retired Naval Officer. It just so happens that one of my dear wife's oldest and best family friends who lives up in town is not only a retired officer from the Royal Navy, but also the Royal Canadian Navy. Splendid chap, just hit ninety and still going strong. "Of course." Mrs S beamed. Phew.

So today we went to have tea with my wife's fathers best friend, who signed our photographs for us without blinking. Excellent. Tomorrow those applications will be winging their way blightywards and shortly thereafter all our boxes will hopefully be ticked and we won't have to jump through flaming hoops regarding work permits any more. More work, more money. Hallelujah!

UK immigrants to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA all need one of these certificates. They cost thirty five quid for each family member. Even if the skinflint inside my head is blustering "Sixty five dollars! That's a bit steep isn't it? I could fill up the 4x4 for that!". Expensive business this escape from the UK.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Commenting on Climate Change

Just had a pootle around the various climate change articles in the press that allow comments. Because my router is set not to acknowledge ICMP Pings, various online media anti spam measures automatically bin any comment I might make, so I am reduced to the role of spectator. However it does seem to me that there are a lot more angry folk out there on the sceptical side of the Climate Change fence, while the Climate Change believers appear to be in a vociferous minority, trolling forum after forum and chanting the same old dogma, citing the 2007 IPCC report as holy writ.

The angry sceptical side of the argument point to the lack of empirical evidence that CO2 is a major climate driver and ask; "Why are we paying all these carbon taxes when it's not true?" The believers respond with a variety of tactics, especially ad hominem but little credible evidence. The sceptics point to the 2007 IPCC report and claim the original version was 'edited' by political vested interests. Some of the more extreme of these claim it is a 'conspiracy'. The believers claim that the 'majority' of climate scientists support their side of the argument and that anyone who doesn't believe that we're all a-gonna die because of CO2 should be locked up as a 'climate criminal'. Shades of Lysenko there I think, and look how wrong he turned out to be. If the CO2 driven climate change side of the argument had any obvious and substantive proof apart from reliance on unrepresentative 'models', then there would be no need for anybody anywhere to be locked up, because the truth of the matter would be self evident. As for a 'majority' of scientists, what about the 31,000 who stuck their collective necks out and signed the Manhattan declaration?

Science isn't about belief; it's about proof. For a hypothesis to become a theory it has to be backed by proof, and truckloads of verifiable evidence, otherwise it's just one of those whacko 'conspiracy' ideas. So far, all we have from the believers are incomplete computer models, a little warm weather, and shedloads of failed predictions. Mix with a media hungry to sell their product, and energy (Including Oil and gas suppliers) companies only too willing to jump on the green bandwagon with all their lobbying pull, and bingo! All ye who do not believe are 'bad' and must be punished. All attempts to have a grown up discussion on the matter get hijacked by the zealots (Who aren't too keen on reasoned debate) who are egged on by professional lobbyists and the whole mad circus rolls on.

As one who has walked too many streets and seen how utterly self deluding many people can be, it is only natural that I should side with the sceptics. Yet on hot days like today, especially given the past week locally, it would be easy to believe that man is driving the climate. On our little part of Vancouver Island it's been over the thirty Celsius marker all week; but to borrow a contemptuous little phrase from the believers camp 'weather is not climate'. So it is. The climate does change, that has never been in any doubt. The mechanism of said change is in dispute.

While it is true that massive deforestation can alter a local climate and man made pollution can create local heavy smog, if the cause of said pollution ceases and trees are replanted, it is remarkable how quickly the environment can return to its pre polluted / deforested appearance. For evidence I would offer old Industrial revolution sites hidden under woodland or built upon. Whole civilisations have been 'lost', but they become lost because vegetation / landslides / volcanic eruptions cover them. In England, complete communities and villages were lost for non climate related reasons. What do we know about UK neolithic / bronze age ancestors apart from some of their larger artefacts like Stonehenge? Whole Roman towns reduced to parch lines in the grass. Medieval monasteries, economic powerhouses of their time, reduced to crumbling stone and strange lumps in country meadows. Once thriving 18th and 19th century fishing villages and mining communities are often only indicated by the grave markers of a few stone walls where substantial homes once stood. The whole English countryside, so beloved by the 'Green' preservationist faction, is an artificial construct. The only constant has been change. Most has been human caused, but Weather changes have accelerated change, and those changes were more often exacerbated by cooling, not warming. A classic example being the twenty bad years of harvest which helped the final decline and fall of Roman civilisation.

One can gently point out all the above and still be hung with the soubriquet 'denier'. Frankly, this does not dispose me to look kindly upon those who scream the loudest like spoilt brats in a playground. Perhaps if the pro anthropogenic camp ever calm down and want to talk sensibly and logically about their findings I might be disposed to lend them an uncritical ear, but if what I see on all the online forums on this subject is any guide, I won't be holding my breath.

Notwithstanding all the above, Mrs S is sitting at my elbow and is insisting that I get my kit off and get in the sun. "I'm fed up of seeing all that white skin Bill." She tells me. "Half an hour each side every day." She orders. "Come on soldier, I want to hear those buns of yours sizzle!"

Sigh. Duty calls.

Saturday, 1 August 2009


Two years. That's how long I've been living and working over here. Two years to the day I stepped off the plane, took one look at the British Columbian end of Canada and went whoa!

I won't say it's all been wine and roses because of what has been going on in the outside world. The recession has hurt everyone financially, including us. Various tussles with the immigration rules have destruction tested the relationship between Mrs S and I. Regular work has been difficult to come by, yet for all that we're determined to carry on. Two book length science fiction manuscripts have been completed and are currently with agents in California awaiting judgement upon their literary merit, or lack thereof. As far as I'm concerned we're committed; or if you aren't feeling very charitable towards émigré English folk, should be.

Nevertheless, this evening we're going for a fish and chip supper with friends tonight followed by a few drinkies, and if I'm sober at the end of things then that will come as a considerable surprise.

One pleasant discovery yesterday was a copy of the complete series of "Time Tunnel" on DVD at the local video store. This is both a nostalgia favourite for both Mrs S and myself. If my vision isn't too blurred after ten tonight, I might collapse in an armchair and watch an episode or two.
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