All white now

A fine to moderate snow has been falling since Saturday night down here by the water, leaving us with a covering of three to five inches. Reports from town say that there’s ice in the narrow channel between Newcastle Island and the marina. I can’t confirm. It doesn’t show up on the local webcams.

Here everything is pasted white. Even roads that were clear yesterday have a four inch covering. Our traditional fortnight of winter is officially here. Well, one of them anyway. We tend to get three of four of these episodes of varying severity every Winter. This is our third so far. The first two were more or less gone in forty eight hours. This bout may last a little longer. Semi regular thumps announce the fall of wet snow from the roof, frightening the dog, and our scenery has been seriously photoshopped.

I’m not working in town until Wednesday this week, so there’ll be plenty of time for chilling (Ouch, sorry). Not that there’s really going to be much choice. According to Environment Canada we’re in a short lived ‘Abnormal temperature trend’. Just seems like an average BC Winter to me. Lots of rain and a little snow. Although I’m also informed Mount Washington Ski resort was suffering from too much snow recently. A ski resort with too much snow? Seriously? Well don’cha just live and learn.

Oh well, work calls, and I have an online course to sign up for. TTFN.

Update: All incoming phone calls are being answered thus; “Ski Shop. How can I help you?”

In a word, Genius

Well now. Here’s a classic example of the law of unintended consequences coming out for a quick dance of joyful mischief.

Girl Guides in the USA who raise funds to go to camp or for their troupes by selling the traditional range of Girl Guide cookies have been setting up their stalls outside the new Cannabis shops currently springing up in States where cannabis has been legalised. A perfect example of the market in action if ever I saw one, but who saw it coming?

Really it makes perfect sense. The ‘Munchies’ are a well known phenomena of cannabis use, and to cater for that appetite on the part of those Girl Guides carries with it the mark of sheer genius. Marking them out as smart kids who will go far. The girls in question saw a need and catered to it, incidentally making piles of cash for a cherished cause.

Unfortunately this does have a dark side. The next thing you know is that there will be Girl Guide gang wars. Hot competition between cookie sellers over favoured locations. Perhaps Bake sale gang bangers might try to horn in on their action resulting in female fisticuffs breaking out over the frosting and heaven knows what else.

More seriously there’s going to be hot (Groan, sorry) competition over the super profitable pitches for hot dog stands or fast food restaurants close to these new Cannabis shops. Talk about a licence to print money. Maybe even tie-ins. I mean there’s an opening for a whole new set of menu selections at every fast food joint in the country. Do you want fries with that?

Oh my giddy aunt. That has just cheered up a very snowy evening.

Netflix

Snow day today. Probably tomorrow as well. The guys whose boats we were to have seen today cried off the viewings and rescheduled for next weekend. No biggie. I’ve got to be over in Van and Victoria next weekend anyhow. The money will be there for the right boat. So today I shall watch a little TV. Thereby hangs today’s tale.

I have a Netflix subscription. Instead of coughing up fifty bucks a month for a cable subscription, which is, I am often assured by friends and just about everyone I meet “Just not worth having.” I spend just under eight dollars a month on Netflix. Roughly five pounds. So for slightly under ninety six dollars a year – well under half the British licence fee, I get (relatively) high definition, advert free content. No trailers, no public service announcements, no drama queen TV announcers. Only the drama that I want to see. Apart from fighting over the remote control. And I don’t have to plough through the cable schedules to see the show I’m looking for when I’m in the mood to view. Or wade through ‘News’ coverage.

For example, should I take a shine to a given series like ‘Chuck‘ or ‘Longmire‘, I can watch one episode after another. Which is great if a series has multiple show story arcs, so you can watch the cliffhanger episode followed directly by the denouement. It’s also great for catching up after being out of the loop for a while. Even if the series isn’t the latest ‘Game of Thrones‘ (Loved Season 3). I can find that through other means. Hey, it’s only TV.

Which is very cool indeed. Well, it would be if only….. My one major beef with Netflix Canada is that I’m paying the same as a US subscriber for restricted choice. Significantly so. Apparently it’s down to the film and TV distribution companies who won’t license their output for showing in Canada. Well, not at the prices Netflix pay. So we have an Apple TV box as well, but that suffers from the same restricted catalogue issue. Which forces people to use VPN‘s, or browser plugins like Mediahint(Which is free) or Tunnelbear(Which isn’t) to access content and content providers. Plug or share your ‘pooter into your big screen, and in the vernacular, Robert is one’s Father’s Brother. Although being a little bit of a Techie is useful when setting up and accessing content in this way.

For your average punter, these methods are often too complicated by half. Their main problem is usually finding the right button on the remote control (or even finding the remote at all), not setting up and fixing issues like circumventing restrictions. The Internet for them is a dark and dangerous place, full of sexual predators, scammers, viruses and porn. For those in the know, the jolly old Interweb is a wonderful hall of mirrors, information and entertainment, and the small number of sexual predators, scammers, viruses and porn vendors are like Jehovah’s Witnesses. They can come a’knocking, but you don’t have to let them in. It’s what firewalls and anti-virus software were invented for. The NSA and anyone else can snoop all they want too, but all they’ll get is this. Nothing to see here, move along. Stand aside bub, you’re in the way. Quit hogging the bandwidth.

On the plus side, Netflix are putting out content like the rather amusing ‘Lillyhammer‘ and ‘House of Cards. Kevin Spacey, while no Ian Richardson, is still a respectable backstab at emulating the wit and wicked to-camera asides of the original UK mini series, which is also currently available on Netflix Canada for a compare and contrast.

Any old road up. That’s all for now, and me and my dog are off out for a play in the snow. Then we’re settling down in front of a nice log fire to watch a couple of episodes of something fun and fairly mindless. Without adverts or admonitions. Cool.

All together now….. Arh!

This weekend sees me off looking for a boat. And it’s snowing. Which might actually work in my favour, the market in maritime gear being more depressed than a depressive whose wife has just run off with all his money and the psychiatrist, leaving him outside in a downpour with his house and car keys stuck down the drain. So yes, as far as I can see it’s a buyers market.

The kind of boat I’m looking for isn’t a sailing boat with all those fiddly ropes, stays, corsets and centreboards, but something like a forty to fifty foot long converted deep sea fishing boat with a single, get-you-home-in-dire-emergency roller reef rig. Something with capacious fuel and water tanks and maybe even an onboard water maker.

Something in fact, like one of George Buhlers power boat designs. Love his engine rooms. You can actually get at the diesel and gearbox to fix it if anything goes wrong. I also have a well thumbed copy of “The Troller Yacht book” whose subtitle is; ‘How to cross oceans without getting wet or going broke’. How can you not love that for a title?

The intention is to buy just such a boat, live aboard for three to six months of the year whilst learning about handling it properly for the first couple of years or so, doing short (2-400km) trips around the local islands, dodging stray logs as we go (A constant hazard in coastal BC). Longer trips down the west coast to Mexico, then visions are of travelling further afield. Like trans-pacific to see relatives in Australia. Possibly across the southern Indian Ocean around the Cape of Good Hope, over to Tristan Da Cuhna, Ascension and the Canary Islands, then a sojourn in La Belle France, where family have a small residence, and maybe a perambulation around the Med before stopping off in the UK to see family and friends, thence back into warmer waters and all points south, maybe through Drakes passage at the southern end of Chile, and coast hop north all the way home to BC. Well, that’s the plan, anyways. Weather and circumstance permitting.

Pirate breath fresh advert bWhen we told our friends what we intended, we were swamped with the usual tall tales from non-seafaring folk. They told us about volcanoes, sea beasties and rogue waves so big they can swallow entire fleets. You know, like on Discovery Channel. So something with the flotation properties of a rubber duck is probably in order. Good watertight hatches that won’t cave in the first time we take a big hit. Watching the weather forecasts with the eye of a competent raptor might also be a good idea. Oh noes, but there’s icebergs and sea ice that can crush a hull to smithereens overnight. You know, like on Discovery Channel. Okay, but I’m not that keen on going where the cold is. Good salt water resistant electrics and electronics, a fog horn, and a decent quality liferaft might be a good idea. Arr, but Bill, matey, what about when it rains so hard it makes yer head bleed. We saw it on YouTube. So waiting inside a nice dry cabin until the rain stops might be a good idea then? But, but, but, Bill, there’s storms so wild they go on for weeks. We heard about them from my best friend’s brother in law who used to work in a dock side pub. Weeks of rough weather during which I plan to be safely moored up, spending quality time ashore in a nice cosy bar. Arr, but matey, there do be pirates out there who’ll slit yer gizzards and steal all your booty. Yes, yes I’m sure, but there are very well updated websites about piracy hotspots, and the intent is not to go anywhere near them. Any pirates can keep their hands on their own booty, thank you very much indeed. Saucy fellows. The very nerve. Hmm. Wonder if I can get away with mounting a couple of these and saying they’re just for distress flare launching? Just in case.

To be honest, I’m more concerned about the various customs regulations, and how to get in and out of various ports at a time of my choosing without being skimmed and scammed by local authorities. Like the Argentinians, who don’t like people visiting the Falkland Islands without a note from their mother, which will cost you Gringo. The rest will be down to the tide tables.

Other friends, whose opinions in such matters I value, have simply shrugged and said “Go for it.” Which has been encouraging. As some of these have spent serious time afloat, there has been some good advice from this quarter. Stuff you won’t get told by sales persons or those with bottomless pockets.

Notwithstanding, the whole enterprise is fraught with perils, both real and imaginary, and that’s just making sure what we buy has a sound hull and reliable diesels. Wiring has to be good, water resistant and connections tinned with solder to prevent corrosion along with a myriad other critical details. All of which has to be accomplished without breaking the bank.

The project is a challenge. It’s a really steep learning curve, and that’s probably what appeals. However, we’ve already got some serious interest from like minded souls who want to do a similar trip, and are experienced enough to stand a watch, pay for the odd tank of diesel and generally help out, so crew recruitment isn’t going to be a problem.

You only live once.

Culinary roulette

About to prepare supper last night. Opened the fridge door to a whole host of leftovers. Not in amount, but variety, certainly. Chinese (Takeaway Cantonese & Szechuan) from Friday night. Home made Chicken Tikka Marsala from midweek, and half a portion of my signature beef stew from last Sunday. “Waste not.” Said my other half from over my shoulder, giving me a cheeky grope.
“Seriously?” Said I. I mean I’m used to pulling culinary rabbits out of chefs hats, but this left me challenged.
“Sure. I trust you.” She said. Foolish girl.
“Right.” I said doubtfully, and retrieved the ziploc (Think ‘Tupperware’, only more effective) boxes. To be honest, I should have given this stuff to our in house recycling unit (the dog), but I don’t want him hooked on my curries. That could get expensive. I already have to almost fight him off with a spatula each time I make a traditional English beef stew.

Thinking about it, I haven’t indulged in this form of culinary roulette since my bachelor days. Some might call it ‘fusion cuisine’ because failures in preparation can have the same effect on your digestive system as a thermonuclear test on a deserted Pacific atoll. I’m almost tempted to refer to this practice of reheating leftovers as ‘zombie cooking’ because you’re trying to breathe new life into the dead.

However, I raided the spice cupboard for extra garlic, chillies and ginger, added some extra basmati rice and used the microwave of full nuke prior to pan use, ensuring the foods temperature got high enough to make life very unpleasant and short for any pesky little bowel blasting bacteria. The end result? Not one of my proudest essays into the realms of cuisine, but edible and nourishing. Perhaps even unique. Three completely different styles of comestible should have been big time yuk, but somehow it all worked. Just don’t ask me to do it on a regular basis.

One of my errands before going to this evenings job is to stock up on fresh groceries.

Bunko Steerers

I first saw this colourful term on a wall poster supposedly copied from a Las Vegas / Los Angeles / San Francisco wherever 1881 / 2 original poster at a friends house back in the 1970′s.

Bunko steerer; noun Informal
A swindler or confidence trickster, especially a person who lures another to a gambling game to be cheated.
Origin 1870-75 North America

Oh my, there are so many people to whom this term applies. I’m sure my reader will be able to come up with a plethora of names without really having to think.

Unprecedented

I like words. Especially the polysyllabic. However, today’s post is a protest against the abuse of an innocent word by politicians and various speech writing hacks. That word is;

Unprecedented
un·prec·e·dent·ed adjective
[uhn-pres-i-den-tid]
Definition;
without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unexampled or unparalleled: an unprecedented event.
Related forms;
un·prec·e·dent·ed·ly, adverb
un·prec·e·dent·ed·ness, noun

Synonyms
unique, extraordinary, exceptional, novel.

Here at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Words, we wish to protest the persistent misuse of this word, and make clear the cruel abuse it is suffering.

We collect over misused nouns, adjectives and even adverbs, to treat them with the dignity they deserve, putting them out to graze in quiet libraries full of peacefully grazing Thesauri, preserving them in protected dictionaries, and letting them have a pleasant retirement for all the hurt they have suffered.

Ladies and Gentlemen; this is a tough era for words, especially now. Many words are brought to us hopelessly crying, scarred with repeated mis-spellings, arthritic syllables, misappropriation, sometimes even additional suffixes (the bastards!) and simply broken through over use. We see it as our bounden duty to take these wrecked remnants of language and rehabilitate them to their original meanings so that they can once more stand proudly within the lexicons of English, to once more serve honourably and with pride. Restored to their proper place and treated with the loving kindness they deserve.

Chiefly we wish to protest the current over use of the adjective ‘Unprecedented’ by unscrupulous politicians and ‘Climate Scientists’, various hacks and speech writers, whose only aim is to place blame where it does not belong, and thus extend unwarranted and undeserved control over an unwitting populace. We have a simple message to such people. The word abuse stops here. Even now we are gathering highly skilled teams of Librarian activists to stand vigil over those treasures of language as still exist, ready to define, defend and even take staunch preventative action against the abusers of language. Needless to say, we have a policy of non-admission to Socialists of all types, as it is they and their collectivist allies who habitually plunder dictionaries in search of words to misuse.

Please; we do not ask for money, simply vigilance against the widespread degradation of innocent collections of letters. Your support is appreciated. Thank you.

Silly me

I wondered why it was quiet out there. I’d forgotten to switch the comments feature back on. Whoops. Silly old me.

Now back on. Same old ruthless rules apply. Keep it on topic, and any comment with more than 2 links goes straight to spam. Unamusing comments with lots of caps get flushed. Unload your soul, if you really, really must. Do not expect to be taken too seriously.Alternative Armed response
Oh yes, comments automatically close on any post after two weeks, because I really can’t be arsed to engage on topics long gone. I would say many appologies for the inconwenince, but frankly, you couldn’t pay me to care.

Variety

There’s a jokey little local saying over here on Vancouver Island; “If you don’t like the weather, go inside for five minutes.”

Over the last week we’ve gone from needing snow shoes and ice skates to go outside, to webbed feet, thence sunglasses. This morning the rain clouds have pootled off to bother someone else, and the sun is up. Out on our deck it’s T-shirt weather, if still a little damp after the rains. In the kitchen, it’s simply too bright to sit down. In short, typical BC weather. The odd damp basement. Nothing to write home about. Although I’m seriously thinking about buying a sea going boat. Nothing to do with weather, I just fancy spending some non-working time pootling up and down the coast, that’s all.

Reading the news from the other side of the pond and hearing relatives complain about having to evolve fins and gills, I’m inclined to count my blessings. Yet I remember similar floods from late July 2007, when on the last working day of our UK careers, Mrs S and I almost had to swim home. In the mid 90′s, when floods turned a twelve mile commute into a thirty seven mile detour to get home and dozens of occasions before and since.

Here’s my thinking; every year in the UK there are floods. This has gone on for millennia. Over the last twenty years, it seems, every year there are hosepipe bans. Every year, reservoirs are decommissioned (Don’t take my word, Google it for yourself). More expensive PR friendly ‘wildlife sanctuaries’ take their place instead of simply replacing or maintaining ageing Dams. Less active dredging and water management. More housing built. Bigger floods. Is it just me, or is there some form of correlation here?

I ask myself; what’s the point of creating a habitat for voles and grass snakes, for example, when the very critters the decommissioned reservoir is meant to preserve will get all drowned, and very dead, when the next, and inevitable, seasonal flood comes around? Well, Duh! I find it rather ironic that ‘ecological diversity’ can be so easily transformed into ecological uniformity (underwater) every time it gets a little damp.

Orwell strikes again

Once a day, I mosey on over to Anthony Watts excellent wattsupwiththat.com website and read about the various academic papers purporting to ‘prove’ the concept of Man made Carbon Dioxide driven climate disaster. I am no genius, but whenever I go to the abstracts of these papers and read them, I’m always left with a sense of WTF! How can so many supposed mega brainy folk come up with such insanity? Are they so bogged down mentally that they cannot see it’s a crock? Fortunately, I came across a quotation of George Orwells from his ‘Notes on Nationalism’ essay (1945) yesterday that helped me make sense of the situation.

“One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

There can be no other explanation. Good old George.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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