A cool little WordPress feature

Doing a little site maintenance, and found the ‘Protest NSA Surveillance’ banner feature in the ‘Settings’ menu. I know it’s purely a gesture (although hopefully a highly insulting one) in the direction of the hyper suspicious state organs that need to know absolutely everything about absolutely everyone.

You know, just in case Mrs Miggins down at the pie shop is not simply putting out tasty pie recipes on her blog, but that these recipes are, in reality, coded messages to the local Al Quaeda cell to go and do something horrible, like create self detonating custard. Which is actually more likely than you might think. Custard has some interesting properties.

An interesting quote

When the world seems to be against you, and you feel like you’re drowning in a Tsunami of deception, heed these words, ringing across the millennia from the sixth century BC (No, you idiot, not British Columbia, I mean the classic date related interpretation- sheesh, some people)

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.


Wisdom allegedly spoken by Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta (Buddha)

When arguing with activists, it’s an absolute killer. Especially if they claim to have embraced Buddhism. The simple cruelty of using their own tenets of faith against them actually brings a smile to my face. But then I’m feeling particularly evil today.

A deeply philosophical question

There is a branch of 18th century philosophy that asks the question; “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Originated by Bishop George Berkeley in his “A treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge

Today I have been reminded of this question in an empirical manner. My version of this deeply meaningful question reads; “If a baking potato explodes in the oven, will anyone hear it?” To which the answer is a conditional “No”. The conditional statement being; “but only if the cook is not in the kitchen at the time.”

The rest of this philosophical monologue will be taken up with a much greater question; “If indeed a potato has exploded in the oven, how long does it take to clean up afterwards.” Investigations are ongoing.

A conspiracy theory everyone can believe in

Awoke this morning to brilliant sunshine and mini avalanches sliding off the roof, thumping loudly onto the deck like bankers committing suicide. I think one of these slides may have taken four metres of guttering with it, so will report to the landlord. No biggie.

Now this is interesting. Over at ZeroHedge I read this, then went here to get the full skinny.

While these revelations are all very sinister and discomfitting, and as I’ve noted before, if the security services are out looking for trouble they’ll find it everywhere. Ultimately this gives you the uncomfortable feeling that we are all potential ‘targets’. Reminds me of working a particularly tough street where you knew the insults and abuse were going to start flying at some stage. Only to find the abuse throwers turn out to be the very people tasked with keeping the peace. Although they will claim not to be. Which raises the question; how is anyone to tell friend from foe any more? Because at the moment there is a distinct feeling going around that those supposedly tasked with public protection are actually the bad guys. Especially when one hears tales from our cousins in the south about getting put on by the tax man for being critical of the current administration.

What a chilling thought.

I’m also given to think now that this querulous moggy is well and truly out of the bag, every sad little troll who doesn’t like what someone says will start making sly asides, trying to give the impression that they’re working for the security services. Who have guns. The trolls aren’t and haven’t. There’s simply too much information out there, and security budgets are not unlimited. The tactics outlined will only be implemented by government agencies against hard targets with inimical intent. Or someone who annoys a politician. Or… oh dear. Imagination brake failure! O. M. G! Don’t panic. Don’t panic!

Seriously though. In the end it all boils down to trust. If you can’t trust the people tasked with public protection to mind their own gosh-darned business in their own country, who can you have faith in? No wonder other countries are laying cables, building their own Internets and people are developing ‘Blackphones‘.

This does not change my mind about the rest of the conspiracy theories, faked moon landings, flat Earth, 911 false flag, Area 51, aliens, man made global warming. They’re still all bunk.

To close;

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.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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