Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Okay, where's the warming?

It's the 31st of August, mid Vancouver Island in British Columbia and it's got so chilly this afternoon that I've just lit a log fire.

Bugger my 'carbon footprint'.

Home thoughts and ye olde nightmares of England....

Am spending a rainy day catching up on business correspondence and invoicing. Just workaday stuff. Mrs S is home and we're doing some emotional catch up after a long weekend apart.

On the horizon is a mid October visit to the UK to arrange the shipping of the last of our 'settlers effects' to our new home. Apart from the joys of greeting family and friends back in England, the prospect of visiting a country where the populace ignores serious issues like encroaching totalitarianism, and instead gets wound up about trivia like who wins an over rated faked TV talent contest, a video of uncertain age posted on LiveLeak of a girl throwing puppies in a stream, and a silly, and as it turns out frustrated, woman dumping a moggy in a wheelie bin. Mind you, if I was faced with living in the awfulness of life in urban Coventry, I'd be inclined to take it out on something else in acts of meaningless petty cruelty. Coventry I've found has that effect on people. Yet I'm told death threats were posted to the people involved? Oh for crying out loud. They'd seriously consider killing another person for that? Not what I'd call a rational act. Death threats, especially empty ones, are the currency of the insecure with metaphorical below the waist winkle inferiority complexes. At least that is my experience.

Nevertheless, we're in England for just under two weeks, and after three years here in the relatively civilised culture of British Columbia, I'm not looking forward to going. You get used to things like decent customer service and friendly staff. Used to an easier and less frenetic pace of driving. More elbow room, and the sheer neighbourliness of most folks around here. I'm actually looking forward to the flight home to BC more than the outbound trip; even flying air cattle truck.

What I'm not looking forward to; louring grey skies, the M6 with it's interminable roadworks, narrow roads, small houses, small horizons, low doorways, narrow minds, the X factor, high prices, low morals, British Supermarkets, English cooking and all the other psychic sandpaper that makes people so thin skinned they go off like a firework display at the least irritation.

Although looking on the bright side; there's no bloody tedious Eastenders any more. Oh, hang on; I'm feeling better already.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Anyone hear the irony?

Just picked this up from the National Post. Apparently a team of Psychologists at the University of Texas have found that heavy or moderate drinkers live longer than total abstainers. Only one word to say to that; Cheers!

I've just bought a nice Malbec for when Mrs S gets home from her conference tonight.

This could be fun

The movie asks; has the US government really run out of taxpayer dollar? I know the UK has, but no one over that side of the pond seems to have the talent or inclination to make movies like the above. As for the politicians? Some are too busy arguing over a woman who once dumped a cat in a wheelie bin and appearing 'green' to address the real economic issues. Sheesh.

The thought occurs that those espousing 'big government' solutions are too far removed in real life, either mentally or physically, from the actual real privations. We're talking day on day, nose to the grindstone at a job you hate to keep a roof over your head solutions. Forever running to keep up. The stuff Michael Moore never talked about. The stuff ordinary people do every day only to find that some bastard has put another tax on the workaday to fund some pompous holier-than-thou prats pet cause. Making them worse off than they were.

H/T to I Hate the Media for the clip.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Now he tells us.....

Turns out ex US President George W (Miss me yet?) Bush didn't want Gordon Brown to be the UK Prime Minister. All I have to say is; neither did I, neither did I.

Not being resident in the UK any more and shortly to apply for full Canadian citizenship, I feel the whole question is rather academic, but any damn fool could see how unbalanced Brown was and is by the reports filtering out via Guido Fawkes and others. The reports of violent temper tantrums and other unseemly behaviour were a good indicator of how unsuitable Brown is for high public office. No wonder George W voiced his concerns; maybe his aides used to read Guido's regular mocking revelations?

As for the policies; it was IR35 that broke me and a whole lot of others. Only a complete and utter dolt with the attention span of a lightly stunned gnat could think otherwise. That and thinking raids on pension funds could ever be 'revenue neutral'. Yet the British electorate bought into the Blair bullshit three times in a row, and those of us with even the slightest hint of prescience made our plans and got out.

As for the current Labour thinking about 'taxing the rich'; it's a fairy tale for buffoons. The true rich have clever accountants to keep their money out of the hands of the voracious maw of HMRC, so higher taxation will only ever hurt the people who can't afford top flight financial advice and who can't mobilise their capital quickly. Namely the less well off, who will be impoverished by such policies. The result is that the tax take goes down when the rates go up because of the simple law of economics which says that the more taxation, the less production.

Brown of course ignored all this, and reportedly got very upset when reality conflicted with his stratagems. Hence the reports of tantrums which told anyone with a functioning brain cell that he was never going to be fit for purpose.


Oh, and just to rub it in; guess who's on a best selling T-Shirt right now (As if you didn't already know).
I think they do miss you George W, I really do, now the chickens have come home to roost.

Encouraging environmental news

Two items;

The Sockeye Salmon run being almost bigger than the 1913 record breaker. So many that the catchers and processors can't keep up. I shall be waiting for the prices to drop to lay in a store of canned stuff.

Victoria BC will no longer dump untreated sewage into the ocean. Which will be good for the Juan De Fuca waters.

It's a nice day. I'm off for an afternoon's fishing.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

How many?

Whether you agree with Beck and / or the diverse aims of the US Tea party movement, it does seem to me that their numbers / influence are being talked down. Mainstream press reports have often indicated far fewer than the videos posted as attendees at these events. Was there violent disorder? No. Unlike others from the opposite ends of the political spectrum.

It's at times like these I switch off the rhetoric from both camps and use my own eyes. How many were there? Only a 'few thousand'? I think not. Even to my observation, I think the crowds at both the 'Restoring Honor' and Tea Party protests last year easily breached six figures, and no CGI.

Whichever way you cut it, that's a lot of pissed off people. Yet CBC gave equal story time to a much smaller rally led by the Rev Al Sharpton. Hmm.

Update: Just had a look at the pictures over at Gateway Pundit and a couple of other sites. Then measured up the area using Google Earth.

The ruler indicates the length of the area covered in people at the 'Restoring Honor' event. That's an area just over half a mile long by a quarter mile wide. Working on the pictures published at Gateway Pundit, and assuming a crowd density of one person per square yard, a space three feet to a side, and given that a third of the visible area taken up by the event has no people on; let's say at total area of 258133 square yards occupied at one person per square yard average density. That means over a quarter of a million people at a conservative estimate.

That's impressive.

Saturday musical interlude

Just a little time warp to the mid 70's / Early 80's with the Moody Blues.

And this video of their classic, 'The Voice', which never fails to raise the hackles on the back of my neck.

"Make a promise, take a vow." I did, and it's paying off for me. Superb.

Have I been banned?

Tried to register to comment on Richard North's blog 'EU Referendum' today, only to receive the message that the email address I use, and which is a valid point of contact for this blog, is "Not allowed to be used". Now I delved through my email archives to see if I'd forgotten my login details; but no, I couldn't find any confirmation email. As I can't recall having commented there, at least within the last 12 months, this putative ban bothers me.

This begs the question; Dr North, have I been banned from commenting on your blog, and if so, would you be so kind (or bothered) as to tell me why? You don't have to, as I'm only a minor blogger and as such, quite used to being ignored.

I did try contacting a 'Board Administrator', but ironically there's no link to do that until you register, and since the 'Umbrella blog' board won't accept my gmail address, I can't tell anyone. Moderating to get rid of troll and spamvertiser infestations is a necessary evil, but being lumped in with such low common denominators somehow feels quite offensive.

Friday, 27 August 2010

"Self detonating statements?"

Under the heading of 'cabinet of curiosities' and assorted semantics comes this little gem on the subject of philosophy. Worthy of repetition despite all the 'Star Trek' graphical content.

H/T Captain Ranty, from whom I seem to get several hits a day. Now blogrolled.

Update: The follow on video is posted below.

Is it boiling yet?

Dropped by at the Icelandic met office site for my twice daily look at the seismic reports to see a fair bit of recent activity up in the Tjörnes fracture zone. According to the available data, a number of these tremors are less than 10km deep, which would indicate something is going on in that small area. BTW; the dotted oval on the map is an ancient caldera, so low level activity should be expected in that area. Current status of Bárðarbunga under the Vatnajökull glacier is still the same, lots of little grumbles, but nothing significant reported. Katla and Mt Unpronounceable are quiet, so no issues there.

Any old road up, I'll be keeping my eyes on the situation as the Canadian branch of the Sticker family is due to go visiting kith and kin in the UK shortly, and if anything goes 'foom' in Iceland, we want to be prepared with alternative return strategies. Sleeping in air terminals is no one's idea of fun; unless you're a masochist of course.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The view from my deck

Is quite awesome this evening. Although I still have trouble with inviting friends and neighbours to "Hey, let's sit on my deck." But for the sake of a vowel goes social ostracism. The thing is, I do have a large deck, and that is no hyperbole. Then again, this is a country of big decks. Few Canadians worth their salt would ever own up to having a small deck, but enough of the double-entendres.

I was watching a movie earlier on this evening and I saw a very bright flash outside. Bright enough to be someone taking photographs close to my front window. Dog had slunk into his usual hidey hole down the back of the washing machine in my bathroom so I went outside. No-one there. Apart from a large isolated lightning cloud around thirty miles to the North-East. Massive bolts of lightning too far away for me to hear even the remotest trace of thunder. I watched it for ten minutes as giant arcs of static electricity shorted between ground and cloud.

Quite spectacular, but that's British Columbia for you. Superlatives tend to be the stuff of workaday, from the biggest Sockeye Salmon run for almost a hundred years to my morning view of Mt Baker 93.9 miles away. Canadians have a word for it; 'awesome', and that is no exaggeration.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Schwarzenegger sings!

It just goes to show you can find anything on the good old interweb, from 'Total Recall - The musical', to......

......Conan the musical!


Mrs S is off on her travels for the next few days, so I'll have more time to look for this sort of stuff.

Fear and disassociation

Reading the news in the Tellytubbygraph, and the hilarious comments thereon from both public and an apparent clique of paid lobbyists pissing in the fountain of public discourse, I am more and more of the opinion that many people are just not versed in the day to day business of life. Take this little op-ed about dogs.

Let me declare an interest here, on the whole I like dogs. They are an excellent guide to their owners. My own slightly scruffy mutt is somewhat excitable, loves new friends, and is only ill tempered when pushed to extremes. He, like his owner, loves having his back scratched and tummy rubbed and is a complete slut when it comes to affection. He's not terribly brave or clever, yet will stand his ground against all comers when the need arises. I love him to bits. Yet even so, there might be people who fear his exuberant and enthusiastic mode of greeting. Unlike his owner he is sometimes too indiscriminate in his affections. Ergo, he sometimes needs his boundaries reset. No big deal.

Now the above should not prove surprising. I grew up in a house where dogs and cats were kept as pets, and so received a thorough grounding in how to deal with them in all their moods, including unhappy visits to the vet. Giving pills to cats and other such hilarity were part of my boyhood training. How to approach a strange dog on and off his 'turf'; all that stuff. I have the scars to prove it. So in the Sticker household both owner and dog are what might be called 'well socialised'. Unlike some of the dog hating denizens of the comments section.

Now I can understand disliking or distrusting some of the more aggressive breeds, but hating all dogs? That's just plain irrational. Rather like hating all cats. That's a phobia not a reasonable response, and there should be no room on the statute books for phobias.

The aforementioned says a great deal more about dog haters as people than anything else. It bespeaks a fear of the world outside of their narrow little minds. More often than not they want a 'law' against everything they personally can't cope with, forgetting that laws need enforcement and that's why property / council tax is often so high. They dissociate from the simple truth that the more you want from Government, either local or national, the more you have to put in. They also seem to forget that Government at whatever level is horrendously inefficient. The bang for buck ratio being very poor indeed.

Governments are good at very big stuff, like roads, defence, law enforcement etc. That is because such projects require large investments of manpower and energy not available to most individuals or groups. What Government can't do is live your life for you or wipe your arse when you forgot; and it is unreasonable to expect such institutions to do so. For example; a Policeman's job is not to deal with every slight or hurt you might feel, nor should they be expected to do so. When they are asked to do so, the response is often a world weary "Oh what is it now?"

If you can't personally deal with dogs or other domestic animals the advice is learn a strategy or avoid them. If you can't do that then, tough.

The thought does occur that anyone demanding 'there should be a law agin it' should be asked how much they personally are willing to pay for said enforcement. Want cleaner streets? How often do you want them cleaned? A dog warden to clean up all the dog poo? Okay, put your hand on your wallet and shell out for his salary. Failing that, do something about it yourself. Clean up the dog mess or challenge the owners to do so in person. Most of us dog owners already do. It's not unreasonable.

The point is that big brother government is broke, and if you want anything more then you have got to pay for it; not your neighbour, or the guy at the end of the street, but you. What an excellent idea.

Monday, 23 August 2010

There goes Summer

Well there goes our Summer from the look of things. So much for the predictions of 'out of control warming'. At least up here in the Pacific North West. Other occurrences of below average temperatures south of the equator seem to be passing by the alarmist section of the media. Well, if the agenda don't fit, cancel the meeting, eh?

I'm off to damp and not so jolly old blighty in a short while to sort out the shipping of our last UK worldly goods. Expect much expostulation of "Why the hell did we want to keep this, then?" From both Mrs S and myself. Bad language advisory will be posted.

Positively Darwinesque

It must be summer vacations. While driving around town I keep on running into the little emblem indicated on various vehicles. More so than the fish symbol which apparently tells people you're a real Christian, and not one of these Johnny-come-lately wishy washy Catholics or Protestants, the wimps. I like these Darwin emblems as a response to the 'born agains', who quite frankly bore me to tears with their reliance on scripture rather than science.

I think I may purchase one of these 'Evolve' stickers myself, the only problem is which one? There are so many to choose from. Oh dear. Choices, choices.

Maybe it's not about the money

Sometimes you read a piece that reeks so much of disingenuousness it stinks to high heaven. Namely the proposal to pay egg and sperm donors up to GBP800 for their donations because there's a 'shortage'.
But the low payment is thought to be behind a shortage in egg and sperm donation which is driving infertile women and men to overseas – often unregulated – clinics, according to research.
If memory serves me correctly sperm and egg donation dropped like a rock when the right of anonymity was stripped from donors around 2005 (ish, I think).

The point is, you can chuck as much cash as you want at the problem, but no one with any brains wants some 'in vitro' fertilised person suddenly turning up on their doorstep twenty years later demanding to see their 'real' parent or the CSA or equivalent demanding payment for same. Family life is complicated enough as it is without having to explain; "It was a sperm / egg donation okay; I was broke at the time." or more comically; "Look who's come to dinner dear, It's one of my ejaculations." to one's startled spouse of the moment.

Sperm and egg donors are going to overseas clinic to donate, not merely because they get paid more, but because outside of the UK's ridiculous rules, their anonymity is better protected. Which only goes to show that one persons 'closure' can be another's can of worms. Maybe that's a more potent reason why so many fewer people in the UK are donating sperm and eggs.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Moving logs

The log pile has now been moved into the storage shed for final drying before the rain sets in for Fall. Landlord and I chatted as we shifted the final few hundredweight out of the weather; about the latest developments with the row over the very unpopular new Harmonised Sales Tax. Apparently the courts have yet to have the final say, but it looks like Gordon Campbell the Provincial Premier is toast over this issue. We talked about family; hopes and dreams for the future and new generations, little tidbits on insurance issues when fitting certain items like woodburning stoves in your property. How much the inspection costs, that sort of thing. Just two guys doing the chores, but as in all these cases, if you listen, you do pick up important stuff if like Mrs S and I, you are interested in self build.

You learn about the insect and arthropod life too; the size of Spiders, Termites, and other assorted peskiness that likes the peace and quiet of a log pile. Until the humans want to move it that is. Unfortunately for the aforementioned, these humans know about domestic pesticides, and have applied them to the log store so that the womenfolk don't get bothered if its their turn to take in Winter fuel.

What the hey, the sun is out. It's time for a light lunchtime snack, and I'm back to serious writing.

Can blue men sing the whites?

An interesting question as posed by the 'Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band' in 1968.

Upon reflection no, but middle class women can certainly sing the 'whites'. At least if Fascinating Aida have anything to say on the matter.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Laying in stores for Winter

Well I was wrong about last year, but I'm still making preparations for another cold one here on the Island. Why? Well I've been keeping tabs on the Ocean temperatures, which took a large dip in 2008 then recovered, and according to those frightfully clever chaps over at Wattsupwiththat is heading downwards in a similar manner. We're going into an La Nina to boot, which is another indicator of inclemency.

Now I don't know if this means lots of snow or not, but we're taking no chances this year. Snow tyres on truck, log store being filled with a 'ready use' supply on the deck, propane stove and emergency lighting ready. Plenty of canned stuff in the larder, so we don't get caught out like Winter 2008/9. This year we will be cosy and toasty no matter what. Even if the power goes down for several days. I have bought a few Pratchetts and Holts to keep me amused if we get snowed in, and there's always batteries for the CD player and radio.

The minor hot spell we've just had has petered out and temperatures are back well below normal. The cooler weather is welcome, but it means we've probably only got another two weeks use out of the solar heated outdoor swimming pool. Bummer. Where's all the Warble Gloaming when you really need it?

Other amusements come from Dog, who is still learning the hard way about screen doors. He goes dashing through the house at full tilt and then thumps into the netting, silly pooch. Why he does this I have no idea. He has his own doggy door, but still tries to run through the fine heavy duty mesh meant to keep the mossies out and ends up bouncing back into the kitchen with a comical yelp.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Pardon my paranoia, but....

Every day it seems there is a scary story in the lamestream about something or other being very bad for you and you'll all die howwibly if you don't stop right NOW! If it's not a study funded by a multinational designed to undermine a current practice, it's some bloody puritan trying to sell their putrid self help bollocks to a seemingly more gullible public. Every day the mainstream print articles with little more basis than thinly recycled press releases.

You simply can't trust the lamestream, because they don't seem to burrow any more. Good old fashioned investigative journalism happens to other people.

Honestly, sometimes it seems certain 'news' has more of an agenda than a hyperactive City Council meeting. Everyone it seems, has a metaphorical axe to grind. Especially in the 'scary story' category. For example; one type of 'healthy' drink might be found to be not so healthy after all, but then the study to prove it was funded by a group who get their money from a lobbying firm connected with sugar interests, and vice versa. Studies on ADHD recommend pills when another, less well publicised study which indicates that said 'disorder' is simply a position on a sliding scale of natural human behaviour. Same as 'Autism'. Fifty years ago, behaviour which might be described as 'shy and dreamy' now carries the risk of being diagnosed as 'borderline Aspbergers' requiring some pill or other. Environmental non-profits produce scare stories about certain human practices meaning the end of all life as we know it, and the press releases seem to go through the lamestream faster than shit through a Goose. Driven towards a farcical 'perfection' we can never attain by a Greek chorus of hectoring voices, the temptation is to turn off the TV or radio for good.

Are things that bad or is it just me being cynical? Why bless me, I do believe it is. The world has shaped me thus.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Electrosensitive insanity

You know, there are some people who really need to grow up, stand up and stop falling for every scare story under the sun. The latest scare is our old friend 'will radio signals make my head explode?' This is a bunch of people in Barrie, Ontario, who are frightened that Wi-Fi signals will give them and / or their children Cancer. Apparently the scare comes from a guy called Steve Miller in the UK (I think I met him once) who claims to be hypersensitive to Wi-Fi signals (but probably only the ones he is told about). Steve says he takes refuge on a Cornish house with 18 inch thick granite walls. Well then, I hope it's well ventilated to prevent the build up of Radon gas then Stevie me boy. I hope you remembered not to have one of those fashionable granite kitchen counters installed either. Either that or it's a publicity stunt for his latest album. Which begs the question; how could he bear to be in a recording studio with all that electrical stuff around if his electro-sensitivity gives him such bad headaches?

As for the group lobbying their school board, I hope they don't let their kids too near the TV. Oh my giddy aunt.

There's a lot of this sort of thing about, and I'm talking about the hysteria. Some part of the modern world is deemed harmful in some poorly researched study, and then silly and suggestible people go to great lengths to avoid it and like Gwynneth Paltrow, end up getting something worse than a natural response to sunlight.

Every time I read a story in the press saying heretofore innocuous stuff is 'bad for you' I just burst out laughing. I mean talk about gullibilty. If those folk up in Barrie are interested, I can sell them Mason Jars full of clean British Columbian air at fifty bucks a time (Not including postage) to help dispel those pesky household Ontario miasmas. Guaranteed fresh bottled (Not compressed or processed) on my deck at six every morning. Failing that, I also believe I can get you a share of Tower Bridge, London for a reasonable price. Only a hundred thousand bucks a throw and that's cutting me own throat guv'nor.

There is no proof that low intensity radio energies are harmful. Yet there are those who won't gainfully occupy their minds, and rather like my Mother in Law, invent things to worry about. My take on it is this; there are people out there so concerned about dying, they forget how to live.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Word addiction

At my writers group last night, which is a kind of Wordaholics Anonymous for the semi professional writer, I suddenly realised that I haven't touched any of my proper writing projects for over six weeks. Blog flu notwithstanding, this situation must be addressed. Two novels and a screenplay require urgent attention. That and all the other stuff sitting in my filing system awaiting resurrection.

For someone with a usual daily output of 2-3000 words, this is not a good thing. Posting may become even more patchy while I rummage through mental cupboards for the reasons why.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sunday musical amusement

Shamelessly stolen from this post at Theo Spark. More here.

.....and this one has particular meaning for Mrs S and I at the moment as we're looking at economical flights back to the UK later this year for birthdays and packing our 'settlement effects'.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Saturday chores

Well sort of. Definitely Saturday, but maybe not so much a chore. Todays small task has been cleaning our landlords small swimming outdoor pool which we have the use of.

The thing about outdoor pools is, well, they're outdoors, and so is everything else. Mostly insects and leaves. Having had the lack of judgement to drown in a warm chlorinated insect version of Davy Jones Locker, the various invertebrates so deceased do not have the courtesy to be recovered and buried decently in a civilised manner. Effectively resulting in the drifting corpses of large spiders, beetles, and the odd, long legged wasp type insect we call Yellowjackets swirling past you as you pootle up and down the pool. Birds poop in it, as does the local wildlife if you don't put the cover over at night, resulting on one salutary occasion in the last earthly remains of a medium sized rat being netted and disposed of. I can only assume it was a very depressed rodent.

In order to do a proper job of cleaning, I put on my mask and snorkel, diving to the bottom to enjoy half an hours innocent guiding the cleaning siphon around in the depths, disposing of said unwanted detritus and little accretions of dirt that accumulate in still water. By the time I was finished I felt a whole lot better about swimming in it. No doubt I will have to clean said pool again in the next two weeks, the local insect population being so careless of their tiny existences, but I don't mind a bit. I get snorkelling practice, and our landlord gets his pool cleaned. I might even do it again next week. Ah me, the things we must do for our pleasures sake. (Amused chortle)

Friday, 13 August 2010

The Squirrel has it

Ah, good old Foamy. Go Squirrels! But watch out for the Eagle Owls.

Ya gotta push the button, see...

Where we live is mostly heated by what's called a Heat Pump. Of late we've left the heating off and put fans around to stir the air a bit from the cool side of the house to the other. This afternoon has been warm enough to see Mrs S flaked out in the guest bedroom, which is the coolest in the house. I stepped outside with a cold one in hand and met our landlord.

"Warm one eh, Bill?"
"Surely is. Warm enough indoors. Not sure which is hotter, inside or out." I replied. "Plenty of mosquitoes around."
"Yeah, whole bunch of 'em over by the pool." He shrugged in that particular way Canadians do when faced with such inconveniences.
"So a swim isn't such a good idea."
"Not unless you want to get eaten alive." He grinned.
"Yeah, got bitten this morning while changing a light bulb on the truck."
"Uh-huh. Little buggers ain't they. It's hot in town."
"Seems as good a reason for not going there. Hard to know where to cool down."
"You can switch the heat pump on you know." He said.
"Oh, right." I had one of those 'oh sod I forgot' moments but kept a straight face.
"All you gotta do is push the button." He opened a cold one and gave me an almost geological look which said 'you forgot, din'cha?'
"I might just do that."
"Put it on for an hour or two before bed time to cool the place down." He's very tolerant of our occasional faux pas when it comes to modern heating systems.
"Good idea." As he lives downstairs he might have been wondering why we hadn't already. "I'll be out around ten to watch the meteors again tonight."
"Yeah, awesome ain't they?"
"They surely are."
"Catch ya later."
"See you." I said and beetled off inside to read the heating instructions before pressing the correct button.

The temperature indoors has just sunk below the eighty degree Fahrenheit marker, and the discomfort from the days heat is rapidly easing. Time for a beer. All this new technology eh?

Friday on my mind

On a personal note it's been a week of things coming unstuck, but in a good way. On the work front I've gone from next to nothing to comfortably fully engaged in three days. Up until now, Mrs S and I have felt less than challenged in our daily round, and to be honest have been chafing at the bit more than a little. The extra work means more out of hours stuff, but I'm good with that. It has its social benefits.

This week we feel that, in a way we've transposed our lives away from the blinkered servitude that governs the existence of many, through various financial privations, to a small plateau from which we can strike out more easily in new directions. Our personal comfort zones have expanded, and, while everything is not totally wonderful, I'm feeling truly positive about our future. It's the sensation of crossing some kind of psychological Rubicon.

On the outside there are so many things I could pass sarcastic comment about, from ghastly grandiose OTT architecture, to the blinkered bansturbatory bullshit emanating from self righteous know-it-all health freaks; but you know what? Today I can't be bothered. It's Friday, and in the words of that doyen of social commentators, Rab C Nesbitt, 'Auchfuckitall'.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

"Throwing dead cats...."

Wonderful quote at 3:56.

H/T to the ever erudite and scientifically literate wattsupwiththat.com

Watching shooting stars

One of the great things about where I live is the lack of light pollution. Vancouver is a diffuse glow low down over the portage between Mudge and Link islands. Victoria another, much smaller, glow beyond Saltspring Island. If you look directly upwards you can see, not just the major stars, but the diamond dusted background of the Milky Way. Last night we went over to friends for drinks, and ended up just after ten standing in the middle of the street, necks craning upwards at the stars, watching a couple of satellites almost zip across the night sky, with the occasional needle like flash as an early Perseid meteor streaks through the Earth's atmosphere.

Tonight promises to be an even better light show, and we are going round the neighbourhood asking friends to turn their outside lights off (They only attract the mossies anyway), just for the next night or two. Bottles of wine and beer are being purchased for a sort of unofficial 'meteor party'. The weather forecast is promising, and Friday night looks like being excellent.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Clap if you don't believe in fairies

Apparently those sceptical about all the climate change hype are 'bastards'. Allegedly. According to US National Wildlife Federation chief Larry Schweiger, who was quoted as saying that he he hoped alarmists would “outlive the bastards.”. Oooh! Sticks and stones.

I may be one of the lesser bastards, but will wear the Climate Change Bastard Badge with pride. Feel free to post the above image where and when you will. Pass it on.

H/T to Wattsupwiththat for the story. Evil snigger.

Russian footage of forest fires

We've been having forest fires over here in BC (Click here for interactive map), but it looks like the Russians have it worse. Piers Corbyn says he knows why.

Monday, 9 August 2010

The problem with this blogging lark

......is finding something worth saying when others have said it (often far better) before. I'm bored with all the playgroundish "Yes it is!", "No it isn't!" pantomime that passes for debate in some of the comment sections. Even more unimpressed by the politicised dross spewed into the public domain by so-called 'professional' journalists, who are supposed to know better. Or is that just me being hopelessly optimistic?

In some ways it's like watching verbal trench warfare with no prospect of armistice over common ground. Nothing gets moved forward or resolved because honesty is the first casualty of any debate, yet without adherence to factual data there can be no forward motion. For example; if I try to build a house out of a material not structurally strong or weather resistant enough; said house will, sooner rather than later, collapse. It doesn't matter what I 'believe', I cannot change how a material behaves under given conditions, even if I were to 'prove' my contention with statistical studies.

I am by training and inclination, an empiricist. If presented with a given statement I always ask; "Does it work?" If yes, all well and good. If no, then let's bin it and go onto something that does work, or modify said statement to fit the actuality. Sorry if that sounds unimaginative, but that's just me at the moment.

Maybe I'm a little down right now. Might have something to do with the recent haze from the forest fires happening around the rest of the province. That and waiting on other people to do their various things. Perhaps I should take a little 'me' time and go fishing for a while. My neglected rod is hanging over the door, the sea is not far away. Hmm. Time for a little time out.

Update. What the post looks like in Google Translate Polish;

...... Jest znaleźć coś, co warto powiedzieć, gdy powiedział, że inni (często o wiele lepiej) przed. Jestem znudzony wszystkie playgroundish "Tak jest!", "Nie, nie jest!" pantomima, która przechodzi do dyskusji w niektórych sekcjach komentarz. Jeszcze bardziej upolityczniony wrażenia przez żużel wygłaszane do domeny publicznej przez tzw "zawodowych" dziennikarzy, którzy mają wiedzieć lepiej. Czy to tylko ja się beznadziejnie optymistyczne?

W pewnym sensie jest to jak oglądanie słowne wojny okopowej bez perspektyw zawieszenie broni na wspólnej ziemi. Nic nie zostanie przesunięty lub rozwiązane, ponieważ uczciwość jest pierwszą ofiarą jakiejkolwiek debaty, ale bez przestrzegania zawartych w nich danych nie może być ruch do przodu. Na przykład, jeśli staram się budować dom z materiałów nie strukturalnie silny lub wystarczająco odporne na warunki atmosferyczne; powiedział domu będzie, raczej wcześniej niż później, zapaść. Nie ma znaczenia, co ja "wierzę", nie mogę zmienić, jak zachowuje się materiał w określonych warunkach, nawet gdybym miał "udowodnić" moje twierdzenie z badań statystycznych.

Jestem z wykształcenia i nachylenia, empiryzmu. Jeżeli występują razem z danej deklaracji zawsze pytam, "Czy to działa?" Jeśli tak, to wszystko dobrze i dobrze. Jeśli nie, to niech to bin i przejść na coś, co działa, lub zmodyfikować tym sprawozdaniu, aby pasowały do rzeczywistości. Przepraszam jeśli to brzmi wyobraźni, ale to tylko ja w tej chwili.

Może jestem trochę w dół teraz. Mogą mieć coś wspólnego z ostatnich mgła z pożarów lasów dzieje wokół reszty województwa. Że i czeka na innych ludzi do robienia różnych rzeczy. Być może powinienem trochę "ja" czas i łowić na chwilę. My zaniedbane pręta wisi nad drzwiami, do morza nie jest daleko. Hmm. Czas na trochę czasu na zewnątrz.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

New export opportunity

Now locally we appear to have a problem. Currently there is a glut of Deer in the province. Particularly in suburban areas where the 'Ah, aren't they sweet' mentality holds sway (Thank you Walt Disney - you bastard). My neighbours invest in deer proof fencing to keep the little tinkers out and off their prize begonias whatever, but I've seen a six point buck clear a four foot wire fence in our front yard recently (See photo). That fence is four and a half feet high minimum, but after a short pause to check the distance, the buck was over it without so much as a sneeze. The Deer population in urban areas is becoming a problem with 'calls for action' and other half hearted rhetoric. Now the Deer are asserting themselves in urban areas and occasionally chasing bewildered dogwalkers down the streets, which has me chuckling. Members of Earth's top predator species being chased by herbivores? Oh my.

As a connected aside; here on Vancouver Island people often raise the concern that we are not 'self sufficient' in food, yet we have a glut of an unmanaged food animal? A partial solution is obvious. Give licences for the limited collection (not shooting, safety first) of wayward urban Deer within city limits to interested companies and sell it like the New Zealanders market and sell Lamb. Maybe with a 'BC Organic' label. Manages the Deer population to manageable proportions and provides a local food source. Low cost, eco-friendly and good economic use of a resource currently in oversupply. I mean, what's not to like?

Venison is a premium meat. It is very healthy with low cholesterol and trans fats. It has a strong flavour, good texture and can be barbecued, broiled (Grilled), roasted, sautéed, stewed and stir fried. Even turned into sausages or burgers. In all of these forms it is very salubrious and deserving of a 'health food' label.

Now I know venison is wild meat, and therefore prone to all the assorted ickyness congruent with being unmanaged livestock; worms, ticks, Lyme Disease etc but those can be dealt with using gamma irradiation (no it doesn't make food 'radioactive') and freezer technology to kill the infestations Deer are often host to. Oh, and cooking food properly is always a good idea.

Having eaten venison with both relish and gusto in more affluent days (pre 2004) I know it is also delicious. Haven't tasted any in a while, although I'm sure one of my hunting neighbours has some in his freezer. Must work out some local barter; I fix his PC for a haunch of the good stuff. Cook, and put out an invitation to the neighbours for a barbecue party.

Anyone for venison?

Thursday, 5 August 2010

An accident waiting to happen....?

From '14 Inevitable scientific breakthroughs the world will regret' over at Cracked.com

Go over and have a look at the other 13. Highly risible, and will paint a smile on strained features.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Interesting quotation

Went to visit neighbour last night. Just a beer and jaw session. Neighbour, who is an ex policeman and has worked amongst first nations for some time vouchsafed the following;
"You can't legislate morality. You can only teach it."

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

They don't make 'em like this any more

Back in late 2002, I traded in my Nokia 9210 Communicator for the lighter, sleeker lines of a Nokia 6310i. The 9210 was bought on a whim and I must say I regretted the purchase sometimes. Especially with such issues as short battery life, bulkiness and weight. Although I could run my life off the 9210 and receive faxes, which used to be important, it needed near constant charging after a day on site even after a day of comparatively light use. The 9210i was a monster that required constant feeding. I used to carry two fully charged extra life batteries and change them at lunchtimes, putting the Communicator on charge in my car whenever possible. There was a secondary charger cradle for the extra battery which was handy.

Then I bought the 6310i and was delighted. Battery life was splendid, needing a full charge only once every three or four days even with relatively heavy usage. During downtime when I wasn't using it much I could expect a full week without charging being necessary. A bluetooth headset sorted out any hands free issues. Signal reception was better than average. Call quality was excellent and it did precisely what it said on the can; it was a mobile phone. I made phone calls with it, and left the e-mail, faxes, and music stuff for my laptop. My 6310i worked, and still works. Although I must confess the casing is showing its age with many scuff marks. Like the well crafted tool it is, it still fulfils the function it was created for, almost eight years on. Mrs S has one too. Despite being dropped, nearly crushed, and bounced around in my pockets with keys and other assorted contents it still works.

To me it's a design classic. Anything more is a toy. Although the sheer signal reception on a Blackberry is sorely tempting. Yet my ageing Nokia still outperforms much newer models. What can I say?

I've owned several Motorolas and Samsungs etc, but no phone has ever been so good to me as the 6310i. Which leads me to the inevitable question; is it the best mobile phone ever designed?

Monday, 2 August 2010

We're all doomed - as usual.....(Sigh)

Well, if you believe the Tellytubbygraph we're all about to suffer as Nasa scientists brace for 'solar tsunami' to hit earth. Apparently there's a C3 class solar flare building which threatens to;
"destroy satellites and wreck power and communications grids around the globe if it happened today."
Well. what's a C3 Solar flare? Well, according to this page on Spaceweather.com;
Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.
Well slap my thighs, I wonder who is talking up what? Just as an aside, the article concludes that;
"A Nasa spokesman was unavailable for comment."
Are the guys on the ISS worried? Not according to their web page, the ISS crew are more concerned with fixing the air conditioning. Hey, maybe they know something a 'science journalist' doesn't?

What the hell, it's been British Columbia day today, and I've spent a goodly part of this afternoon swimming in the pool and trying out my new diving mask having sorted out the mobile phone conundrum. If we're all doomed (again) tomorrow, I might as well enjoy the summer while it's here.

One thing that isn't better in Canada is........

Cell phones. Mobile communications. Coverage, contracts and pricing. Today I am going to free myself of a three year contract I couldn't cancel three days after signing up. If possible I am going to resurrect one of my old GSM tri-band pay as you go Nokia and if I can get a SIM card for it, and woe betide any bumptious sales person who tries to sell me what I don't want. I'd rather not have a cell phone at all than another bloody 'contract'.

Current contract is with Bell.
Coverage; Can't get a signal in my own home. Phone isn't even good as a paperweight.
Pricing; Very poor bang for buck.
Contract; onerous and expensive for what it is.
Customer Service; Poor, verging on dire. Chocolate teapot territory.

My verdict; About as impressed with their service as with a discarded rotting cabbage leaf for breakfast. Mrs S is under strict instructions to shoot me down like a dog if I go anywhere near one of Bell's sales outlets.

I think if Orange were to venture over this side of the Atlantic with their level of customer appreciation and 'Top up' pay as you go service they would wipe the floor with all the other service providers. Back in the UK I had a total of nine mobile phones, eight with Orange, one with 02 (BT Cellnet, as it was then), and the only one I ever had real problems with was with O2. They were rubbish too.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

So this would mean.........?

Sorry to harp on like this, but I feel a sermon from the pulpit of Jesus Christ the bleeding obvious headeth this way.

Yea and verily brothers and sisters! For in the year 1854 a ship was lost in the high Arctic. A ship by the name of HMS Investigator was once sent to find a previously lost expedition. Its crew beset with scurvy, this sailing vessel was caught in pack ice off Bank's Island and the wreck has now been located.

The graves of some of the crew were found on Bank's Island close to a chache of buried supplies. Now the seasonal ice melt has allowed this discovery to be thoroughly investigated. Let's think about those two factually true statements for a moment before continuing. Ready for juxtaposition Cap'n? Engage.

Around 150 years ago, those waters were ice free enough to allow the relatively slow passage of a sailing vessel. The ground was soft enough to allow graves to be dug for the men who died of scurvy. Right. Errr... so that would mean that logically that particular bit of sea is open for navigation every so often. Like in 1903 when Amundsen first navigated the North West Passage. So this ice melt thing some people claim is all mankinds fault has been happening for, er, 150 years at least. Before all those ungreen SUV's and suchlike.

Never mind the open leads of water at the North pole which have been used by surfacing Nuclear Submarines since 1959. Even discounting the uncertain claims that a Chinese fleet commanded by Zheng He may or may not have 'found' the North West passage in the early 15th Century. What is certain is that the North west passage is open periodically. Since before all this 'man made climate change' malarkey. Ergo, it is not unreasonable to assume that ice coverage will 'recover' as it has done throughout the centuries. Atmospheric trace gases notwithstanding. Current global, Arctic and Antarctic ice coverage stats sourced from all the major providers can be viewed via this weblink.

Hallelujah! We're not all doomed then. The ice will be back. No need to panic. Until then we have the Summer. That reminds me, I've got a salad to prepare and some cold beer to buy. Here endeth the lesson. The liquor store is open and school is out. TTFN.
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