Death and other mysteries

Well the inevitable has come to pass, and our old family friend is no more. We got a panic stricken call from his wife on Monday night and went haring off into town to support her. As it happened she was just having ‘A little moment’ and just needed some fellow grown ups to talk to. The actual final blow fell on Tuesday afternoon, when Mrs S and I were summoned by his wife to the hospital, where he was headed down the final furlong of life. His lungs were finally giving up the ghost, and there was nothing more that could be done for him.

I’ve seen people die up close and personal a number of times, including close relatives, but it’s always a rough emotional ride. Seeing once vibrant and alive people transformed into inert waxen husks. No matter how many times you watch people succumb to the entropy of existence, it always gets to you. The swelling tautness in your own throat and chest, the tears that won’t come because you’ve seen it all before and you know people are relying on you to be the strong one.

To cut to the chase; after a brief discussion with the Hospital medical staff, it was agreed that the man we had known no longer inhabited the fleshly shell currently gasping for each tiny sip of air. The oxygen was turned off, and we said our final goodbyes. I tried to take our friends hand for one final handshake, but there was no response, but I bid him “God speed” all the same, and watched for a while as his breathing grew ever more uncertain and ragged. I’d hate to think the last thing he heard on this Earth was impersonal gossip. Better a friendly familiar voice than the disassociated concern of medical professionals. If there is a life beyond our short traipse across this window in time, a kind word or wish, I hope, may make the transition easier.

At his widows request we left before the final denouement and I stepped out of the Hospital entrance to see a glorious full arc rainbow, as though something were trying to say “That’s it. The tough bit is over. It’s okay.” It was a day of rainbows, which I normally consider favourable portents, but not that Tuesday.

Fifteen minutes later the phone call to say he was dead came from the hospital. His widow smiled a little to know his suffering was finally over. She’d done her real crying the night before, when she realised this was it. Now all we felt was a small lifting of a choking cloud of uncertainty. She bid me clear out his basement workshop, and I did my best; packing box after box of tools and gadgets. Mrs S kept a steady flow of that great English panacea, Tea, going. I swear, if the apocalypse came and the world was in ruins, you would still find real English people sitting on a barren waste waiting for the kettle to boil with a smile and a “Cheer up. You’re still breathing!”

We laid out a timetable for Wednesday, and today has been spent running errands for our newly widowed friend. Making arrangements to get her into a nice care home where she will have company, and the grim reaper has a more genteel and studied touch. Funeral arrangements to make. Fielding phone calls from tearful relatives, which ironically made the Widow cheer up. “She was worse than I was.” I heard her comment about one particular friend, who had phoned from Nova Scotia and had hysterics when handed the news of our friends demise.

There was a stove (cooker) to fix. The central heating had sprung a leak, and there are still forms to fill in. Always forms to fill in. Annuities to transfer, Service Canada to notify. Service BC to talk to. The blandishments of smoothly practised sales people at the funeral home to resist. Did you know they made steel coffins? I didn’t until today. Title of assets to be transferred. Lawyers to be reminded. Fortunately I haven’t had any serious work to do for the past couple of days, so we could spare time to help out.

My penultimate task in this little drama is the formal identification of the body prior to cremation. The legal niceties must be observed, and the tax man takes HST on it all. Death and Taxes together. The irony clangs. At the request of his widow, there will be no service or memorial. Donations to charity, and keep the flowers in your gardens.

I did ask her if I might write an obituary for him, but she said no, and I must respect that. Apparently there are vultures in human form who trawl the obituary columns and prey on the newly bereaved, so my friend will cross to eternity without public recognition. I find that very sad for a man who has had such an eventful life. He should be remembered, but as his Widow insisted “All the people who needed to know about him know.” I conceded, and we owe him that final discretion.

I will be busy for a while.

Probably because……

I’ve said most of what I want to say on this blog, and have too many other claims on my time. The UK has a weak and vacillating ‘leadership’ and keeps on making the same stupid errors as the previous lot. I’ve just got to the point where I really don’t give a stuff if fading pop icons get married yet again and politicians keep screwing up in the same way, and the European economy may well be circling the drain if there are any serious defaults on the fantasy money they’ve been borrowing from each other. If the current incumbents down south carry on spending as though it doesn’t matter, they’ll have soup kitchens and bread lines before you can blink.

Never learn…. Can’t teach ‘em. Waste of keyboard time.

Do I care

A multimillionaire businessman in the computing field has died and all of a sudden there’s lots of girlie faux-grief all over every other web page. Oh for goodness sake you lot, get a fucking grip. He sold computers. He made lots of money out of you, and now he’s dead the rest of us who do not share your false emotions are getting a bit ticked off with all the weeping and fucking wailing over your computing messiah.

So not all his products were as wonderful as some might claim, and having to purchase a brand new iTouch or iPod when just the battery had died after less than 18 months (and out of warranty) was a pain. Sure the computers he sold were great for DTP and graphics, if they weren’t they didn’t deserve space on the shelves. Otherwise, they were overpriced and some would say over hyped.

Sometimes I get the feeling that a good proportion of computer viruses out in the wild were written by his fan club, just because they couldn’t stand other people not using their Gods hard and software. How immature can you get?

He’s not the messiah – he’s dead. Now get over it and do your mourning decently – in private.

Looking East…….

I see the muppet in chief of the UK is about to deliver a speech on “This isn’t going to hurt me – you, on the other hand….” Households are to be ‘encouraged’ to save.

Save what? Personal debt is at an all time high. UK Government kamikaze economics (New Labour or Blue Labour – no real difference) has wiped out the value of many people’s savings. What are the poor people left in the UK going to save, ‘Call me Dave’? Moonbeams in a jar?

Christ on a bike…

Delingpole on Reason TV

Of course, one of the things James doesn’t mention is with probable European economic collapse no-one will be able to afford Climate Change mitigation, whether the problem is real or not. Not that it is real. If increasing CO2 had the warming effect as predicted, the trends would be clear by now and they aren’t.

There is another irony. As he rightly points out, only rich societies can afford to clean up rivers etc. Cut economic growth, collapse the system, and guess what? The Earth will become a less pleasant place, and all the Environmental improvements made over the past thirty years (Cleaner air, water and so on) will go into reverse. Simply because it will become uneconomic to clean up the mess.

Rather like burning houses down in Uganda to make way for plantations of non-native species selected for ‘CO2 mitigation’. Oh tempera, oh mores.

Never learn

Back in the early 1970’s, when I was but a mere slip of a lad. In the UK we had almost back to back industrial unrest, 3 day weeks, rolling power cuts, the UK going cap in hand to the IMF for a ‘Bail out’ and massive redundancies which took unemployment over 3 million a couple of years later.

Nowadays, whenever I look East and South I seem to suffer from a severe case of deja vu. In an echo of Denis Healey’s “Soak the rich” policy (Which had an incredibly short life span as I recall), I hear the same policies are to be rolled out again in the UK and also in the USA.

I mean really, doesn’t anyone read recent economic history any more? Don’t they understand that money is not a thing but a process? A measure of economic activity rather than a tangible commodity? The current administrations of the EU, UK and USA don’t seem to ‘get it’. So they’re going to dredge up a failed economic policy in the hope it will get them out of a fiscal hole caused by their failed policies. Dumb fucks. The money will move, as it always does, as it always will do. Only those who cannot afford to move quickly enough will suffer. All the slightly better off middle income earners, the professionals. The really rich will simply move their stash or get their accountants and tax lawyers to fix it so said cash is immune to the taxman’s predations. If really pressured they’ll just fade away into the morning mist, ne’er to be seen again.

As for those stupid bozo’s of UKUNCUNT, they will reap what they sow. When the politicians have emptied every pension fund, stolen every inheritance, squeezed middle earners until they might just as well work as supermarket shelf stackers at UKUNCUNT’s behest, and there’s still not enough money for the public purse, none of them will get the message of history.

For my own part; living in rural Canada with a larder full of dry goods, log store ready for Winter, Broadheads fitted to new shafts. A reliable, if reduced, income stream. If all goes well I’ll never need the backup supplies. If not, I’m cool with that, too.

What conspiracies?

Sometimes I look at these blogs and view them with the same jaundiced eye that a bar regular looks at the visiting nutter. Especially those wide eyed innocents who repost the semi coherent crap about how 9/11 was ‘done by the government’ to justify some otherwise unpalatable turn of foreign policy or create a ‘casus belli‘.

All of these conspiracy theories are crap. Every last single one; from UFO’s, ‘chemtrails’ and black helicopters, to ‘who shot JFK’, faked moon landings and 9/11 being a demolition job. Even the assertions of ‘New world Order’ are little more than Politicians letting off esteem. As for the ‘club of Rome’, that document is aspirational more than anything else, so no, it lacks credence, as do those politicians who try and follow the principles. A bureaucratic edifice of such rigid construction will rapidly collapse under its own internal socio-economic pressures. As we can see happening right now. Like the old Soviet Union, such entities are too rigid and inflexible to survive for long.

Why do I make this bold assertion (sic) prey tell? Simple, because I understand logistics and processes. I’ve also trained as an Engineer. You know, worked with real materials and seen, first hand how they behave under various conditions. How breaking strains alter under differing heat and pressure conditions. I also understand (to a degree) the science of illusion, having spent some time on the fringes of the ‘creative’ industry as an AV technician. Ever seen a movie being made? A proper feature film? Pre and post production? Worked and talked with people who do special effects for a living and seen how they ‘fake’ it? Then taken a good long look at the credits list of a movie at the cinema? Yes, I’m one of the sad buggers who doesn’t leap up from their seat the minute the end credits pop up, because I’m looking for names I recognise in the first and second units and the whole army of people it takes to put a half way and not so decent movie together.

Having also spent a deal of my working life in the public sector, I know how driven by cock-up the whole process of Government, both at local and national level, is. Because it is made up of people. Not super humans, but ordinary working stiffs doing stuff ‘by the book’ which has been written by another working stiff who is mere mortal flesh like the rest of us. People who make mistakes, as we all do. People who talk about their work, who bunk off early because its Friday and hide their mistakes from the boss lest they get fired or disciplined. The result being that Government leaks like a sieve. Even the so-called ‘secret’ CIA leaks, the UK security services leak, Mossad, the Russians, the Chinese, everyone leaks. Sometimes these leaks are managed for the purposes of political ‘spin’ by politicians, who are no smarter than the rest of the Mark 1 Human being (Possibly more dishonest, self interested or devious, but definitely not smarter). Sometimes a guy in a bar will say something about what he does to impress a girl with the object of removing her lingerie. Without spending a whole life in hiding, there is no perfect secrecy.

A fortiori; we are gossips. It is human. Leaks happen. That is human. So how on earth does anyone expect an imperfect agency, to wit; Government, to be perfectly secret about hugely complex operations? Even the Atomic Bomb programme leaked back in the 40’s. Even with the ‘special services'; they might not talk, but their neighbours do. Comings and goings at odd hours are noticed. Oddities stand out from the patterns of everyday life. Changes in behaviour. For these big conspiracies to happen, there’s a whole logistic chain of fallible humans to link together. The bigger the event, the easier it is to pick up a trail.

Let us take the example of the ‘space race’ chronicled and filmed to perdition, and with the AV technology available at the time, impossible to fake. For proof, look at Hollywoods finest contemporary portrayals that would have used state of the art camera technology and direction techniques. Now compare with the footage shot by Armstrong, Aldrin, and all the other Apollo astronauts. Then work out how many people would have had to been in on the ‘fake’. It would have been far easier to go there than fart around making truly convincing fake footage. I believe Mr Aldrin still gets pretty steamed at being called a liar by the crazies, and I don’t blame him for punching one of them out. He should have stomped on the nasty fuckers head, and hang the consequences.

For 9/11, look at the physics of failure in a stressed steel skin constriction skyscraper. Faking those with explosives would have necessitated weeks of placing obviously linked explosive charges in offices where people were actually working. Controlled demolition requires (According to a Civil Engineer friend of mine) a lot of work which would not have gone unnoticed. Supporting pillars would have had to be drilled, the charges would have to be linked with stuff like cordex running everywhere to ensure that the charges all went off in the correct order. Far easier to ram a Jet Airliner into a building and let the intense heat of burning aviation spirit weaken the internal structures to the point where they undergo catastrophic failure and the mass of the top thirty or so stories drops at 9.81 metres per second, crushing the rest (Which increases the falling mass), and splitting the external stressed skin from the inside like a banana. All the way down to the basement. As for WTC7, that caught fire, and the fire suppression system couldn’t cope with the blaze. A structural failure on the 13th floor sealed the buildings fate and it collapsed. No need for any conspiracy. No tinfoil hat required.

As for constructing buildings with the object of such a demolition in mind, that would be asking for spontaneous structural failure during the first storms, never mind some spurious Government ‘black ops’ Agency. No Civil Engineer or Architect would design such a thing on purpose. On top of the damage to the building there would be the damage to your businesses reputation. You’d never work again. As for the ‘Drone’ theory, oh FFS! Look at drone technology for 2002. The only place you’d get the level averred to is out of Star Trek or Star Wars. So yes, 9/11 conspiracy theories are total bollocks.

My point here is that governments are largely blunt instruments, good for large scale stuff, but they are also untidy and obvious because they are made up of people. Homo (not so) Sapiens. As Douglas Adams once noted ‘people are a problem’, or rather he should have said that problems are often made up of people screwing up, then covering up, which being imperfect, they also make a mess of. Quod erat demonstrandum. Every single day, everywhere. Ain’t life grand?

Another step away

Gave up my driving licence today. My UK (motorcycle) licence that is. My pristine, never got a speeding or other ticket UK (motorcycle) driving licence. Not that I didn’t come close quite a few times, even got flashed once by a speed camera, but nothing ever came of it.

It’s an odd feeling, having finally transferred all my licences and permits over here. The sensation is like cutting an umbilical, a further step away from the land I was born in.

Still busy with running around after everyone else’s errands. The saga of our family friend who is on the shorter road out of this life continues. He’s in hospital, but when you’re that far gone, as the Doctors keep pointing out, there is little to be done. So they keep him hydrated and fed as best they can. We double as a taxi service for his wife, and try not to say anything that might upset her too much. I suppose it’s bad enough watching your life partner slowly slipping away, going home to a house that will never seem full again, and there’s a fair amount of denial on a number of fronts. For my part, I’ve purchased a black tie and hope it won’t get used all that often.

The waiting is hard on everyone, and the strain is telling. Rows break out over stupid things. Psychosomatic aches and pains come and go like ghosts. All I can do is pick everyone up when they fall, and not worry too much about having my own psychic skin cut about by all the emotional backlash. Early morning fishing trips help. Nothing much, just a wander down to the beach to cast my cares upon the water, and the odd whiskey in the evening to take the edge off things. I cook a lot. That helps too.

Have lost the urge to blog much. I mean, I simply can’t get angry about stuff happening almost a third of the planet away. In a land where most of the problems are caused by people trying to impose dunderheaded inflexible top down ‘political’ solutions to every problem under the sun. It’s not my fault they can’t do joined up thinking. Getting mad at them from this distance solves nothing, and candidly; I couldn’t give a shit. Not even a wet fart about a country flushing ancient rights and freedoms down the toilet of History. The Eurozone currency thing too, is running out from under the whole edifice like sand, and as each country is forced to default on the imaginary money they owe each other, it’ll all end in tears.

I feel sorry for those stuck there, but I can’t help. It’s rather like watching someone die. There’s that much of a sense of sad inevitability about the whole process. To governments drunk on spending, the party is definitely over, and the hangover is going to be a bitch.

Like with our coming bereavement, all I will be able to do is walk away, shaking my head in sorrow, and give what comfort I can to those who are left.

Post updated for clarity. Re type of licence transferred. A clean UK motorcycle licence?. Am I a wuss who never opened the throttle? A moped rider? (derisive guffaw) Well, you might think so, but I couldn’t possibly comment. My Triumph 900 spent most of its working life on English A-Roads. Not posing around the main drags where all the speed traps were, asking for trouble.

Never felt a thing

There was quite a sizeable earthquake off the west coast this morning local time (Lunchtime actually, even our Earthquakes are too laid back to get up early). All the fun happened about 145 miles away, a few miles out from Nootka Island on the Western side of Vancouver Island, which is mostly unpopulated. In town no one seems to have felt a thing, and there’s no news from Tofino of any Tsunami.

“Hear about the big quake?” Someone asked as we gossiped in the grocery store checkout line. A number of people shook their heads, although one of the local hypochondriacs recounted a tale of her house shaking. No one seems to have been hurt, or even mildly inconvenienced, at least in our part of the mid island region.

Panic over. Time for a beer.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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