Tag Archives: Local stuff

Boats and other impedimentia

Last weekend we went looking at boats. The object of this exercise is to sidestep all the dullness of living on land to find a slightly more interesting way of life. We’ve looked at houses, but quite frankly there’s not a place where Mrs S and I feel we would fit in. On a torrentially rainy day, on a muddy stretch of the Fraser river I think we found an answer. Not perfect, but certainly with all the comforts of home. GPS, depth sounder, radio, recent anti-fouling, Blue water capable, solid diesels, spare generators, which with a little internal remodelling, electrical upgrade and a satellite interweb connection would prove very liveable indeed. Reminder to self, shop around for a radar set. The boat has a washing machine, dishwasher and joy of joys a tumble dryer, as there’s nothing worse than not having a dry stitch to put on. Did I mention I spent some of my formative years bumming around on canals and canal boats? Before getting used to the vagaries of the English Channel. Being wet for days on end is no fun at all.

We came up with this wheeze a couple of years ago, but the stories of municipalities all around BC shoving out all the liveaboards gave us pause. What indeed is the point of having a decent boat as a base if you keep on getting moved on like some water borne Pikey? Now the heat is dying down, and there are places to moor up without the threat of summary eviction. I’ve also been cultivating contacts in the Marine section of the RCMP and local Harbour watch as a kind of insurance. Took an enhanced security check, but now I have legit ID to flash if need be. Never hurts to show you can jump the hoops. Having worked in municipal enforcement, I know how handy officially sanctioned ID can be in some circumstances. The trick is knowing when and how sparingly to use it.

What attracts me is the ability to simply up sticks for the weekend, scoot across to the bright lights of Vancouver or Seattle, moor up and go visit the bright lights for a few hours before coming home to your own cosy floating apartment. Or go work in Vancouver (without paying Vancouver prices), then shove off at the weekend for pastures new. Don’t like the neighbours? Hey, move on. Repel boarders (and snub the day boys and prefects- arr matey) There’s obstacles of course, surveys, insurance, fuel costs, boat security, permits etcetera, but nothing insuperable.

The glass is falling hour by hour

I swear the Weather gods are trying to tell us something. This is the mid Island, one of the warmer climates in Canada, and yet again it’s been snowing. Yesterday evening we transported in-laws around Victoria in pleasant but chilly greyness. The minute we get to the Malahat summit, the Malahat being a bloody great piece of rock that literally splits the south of Vancouver Island from everywhere else, snow. Thence snow all the way back home. Fortunately not the settling kind like we had last weekend, but enough to coat the trees and fields in a dusty white. It was a long drive home.

Today we’re in Richmond, I hope, viewing a boat. An ex-military tug converted to a liveaboard. Tonight evil dreams rob me of blessed repose and I’m sitting here emptying the sleeplessness into my keyboard. That’s the last bottle of Crane Lake Cabernet I’m drinking. Not bad on the palate, but I was jarred into wakefulness by dreams of intruders and various misdeeds. It was either the wine or some dodgy Canadian Brie. Whatever. Going back to bed now.

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?”

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.

Black ice

Well wasn’t that interesting young Bill? I was out late last night, around midnight, on my way home from a job. No big deal, just routine. When I got a rude reminder about Winter driving.

There was a thaw yesterday, so I left the four wheel drive at home and used our thrifty little commuter car instead. Big, big mistake. As I fired up the engine, the internal thermometer read five Celsius. So being the trusting soul I am, took it as read that there would be no road icing and didn’t think to go extra easy. Clear roads. Some sanding had been done, but I was expecting fog and damp that evening. Not ice. Moron.

Two hefty broadslides later…… Yes, wasn’t that interesting? Almost too quick for that heart in mouth sensation to kick in. Also comforting that I haven’t forgotten how to control a skidding vehicle.

The first heart in mouth moment was on a clear looking ninety degree right hand bend. Yes, we do have bends in Canada. Knew things weren’t right when the back end kicked out unexpectedly to the left. Foot off throttle, and bugger, it’s an automatic so the down through the box engine braking trick wasn’t going to work. Telegraph pole looming on road edge to right, dab on brake to increase the skid and slip round the bend sideways, fading left and looking for a safe runoff point. Corner telegraph pole had slightly menacing extra solid look as it flashed past less than half a metre away. Steer out, straighten up as traction returns and slide over to the correct side of the road. Phew. That got the old adrenalin pumping.

The second rude shock was on another clear looking bend down towards the Parkway. Back end began to break just before the apex, and my car took the rest of the hundred metre curve a good forty degrees to the direction of travel, me countersteering frantically to compensate. Managed to control it all the way through, but oh my.

Slip sliding awayThought I’d given up these kind of antics years ago. The last time I didn’t have this much fun driving was back in the nineties, hitting an ungritted patch of black ice in my old grey Ford Escort. Before that, driving a Reliant Robin in six to eight inches of snow back in the mid eighties. Although, thinking about it, our old Ford Windstar did have an alarming tendency to wag its tail like an over enthusiastic Labrador in inclement conditions, and our battered old 4×4 was known to like travelling slightly sideways on packed ice.

The rest of the way home I was ultra cautious, and my midnight sashay down unsanded rural Canadian roads passed off without further incident. Once home, I raided my bottle of Jura single malt before falling asleep in a chair. That’s enough excitement for one day.

Hell, freezing over

Satan skating to workLocally it’s been nothing like the temperatures experienced in either Hell, Michigan or even Hell, Norway, but still cold enough to induce extra work for local metalworkers as local brass monkeys queue up for emergency repairs. Locally we’re currently entering our second week of sub zero temperatures. Not unheard of, but cold enough. Snow from the small covering we had over a week ago was still hanging around in our front yard Sunday morning.

Take the day before yesterday, 7th February 2014; Victoria BC. Never mind the Great Lakes (Ice cover at the time of writing 77.4%), Esquimalt lagoon, Colwood, Victoria was observed to be almost ninety percent frozen over. Hey but this is Canada, Eh? Land of the Yukon bar and near permanent snow cover? Dude, of course it freezes. Not so. While the Midwest provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba alternately bake and shiver on a regular basis, freezing temperatures here in South Western coastal British Columbia rarely drop so low for so long. Yet if, as many are so keen to tell us, the planet is warming uncontrollably because of humanity’s errant wastefulness; where the hell are all these gosh-darned icicles coming from? They’re everywhere. Along Highway One to Victoria, every single bit of rock face sported an impressive display of metre plus long natural ice sculpture. In the six years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen so many.

This is nothing new. Just over a hundred years ago, the channel between Newcastle Island and Nanaimo harbour was ice bound on a semi regular basis, thick enough for local skaters to use. In the photo archives of the local museum, there are several black and white photographs of this occurrence. Yeah, but this is Winter, right? The coldest months of which are January and February, proves nothing. Which is true, and yet again, so terribly misleading. Taken in isolation, of course such observations are meaningless. Yet when compared with historical reports from the late 19th Century, when the world was exiting the Little Ice Age, there seem to be a number of correlations. Low Hurricane count. Tropical Storm force events occurring at less equatorial latitudes, suggesting a shift in temperature gradients. Which of course is all anecdotal, drawn as it is from newspaper and other reports of past times. Although ‘Warming’ seems to be noticeably absent. At least until Spring moseys on around. Or July, as last year.

Hey, it’s just weather. All storms and fury, signifying nothing. At least nothing worth getting taxed over.

I am Evil

I am a very bad person and will probably boil in Hell for all eternity if there is such a place. Why? Probably because I’m an irreverent soul, and although I’ve rarely done anything naughty in my life; I’ve tried to be honest, never gone out looking to do people who don’t deserve it any harm. Mine will always be the necessary helping hand for those that will take it, not the boot in the face.

My major weak spot, and the one that will consign me to the lower reaches of the Pit is my disdain of God botherers, in all their guises. Even if Cranmer is still on my dwindling blogroll. I respect the man. He at least has integrity. Even if one disagrees with him.

This mornings episode came when there was a respectful soft knocking from the direction of the front door. At first I thought it was the wind. The dog was quiet, and he normally goes completely AWOL when there’s someone at the door. He even barks hyperactive welcome at me. So I ignored the noise and carried on working. There was the sound again. Dog was silent. This is a dog you understand, who has lungs of iron and no noise limitation. He’s a lovely animal, but his boundless enthusiasm can get a little hard to bear sometimes.

Got up and wandered into the kitchen to reload on coffee, only to see a sombre suited couple walking steadily away down the drive. Both looked around sixtyish, and the man was carrying a briefcase. Now I know we have no debt issues, all our bills get paid on time. We have no school age children, so they weren’t likely to be Social Workers, and if they were the Police, well, I haven’t done anything wrong. Likewise, we’re good with immigration, and our local politico’s know we haven’t got the vote here yet. Further observation demonstrated they were visiting each household in turn. Which leaves, by deductive reasoning, the only other possible conclusion – Religious nutters.

I sighed heavily. I’d missed my morning amusement. If I am sinful, I think my major sin is that I delight in mockery of proselytising pillocks who seem to think I have nothing better to do than listen to their irrational witterings when I should be working. Their activities have always struck me as eccentric because, if you think about it, God does not really need religions. Religions on the other hand, desperately need God, even if none of them are sure where to look. Even if they knew what they were looking for. Or wouldn’t burn / impale / blow up what they were looking for when they found it.

Bearing the aforementioned in mind; it is my contention that one does not need religion to be moral or of good character, as recent revelations about the shirtlifting habits of one specific religious priesthood have proven. Religions are all politico-tribal entities who reflect the moral dimension of whatever community gives the idle sods a living. Support a religion whose priests have been known to molest or even kidnap children? Advocate the murder those who think differently? Quod erat demonstrandum. This is not restricted to one sect of God botherers, many indulge in these moral lapses. No idea why, I suppose the religious lifestyle just seems attractive to those whose secret tastes run that way. Perhaps they simply get off on the power trip of having a Deity covering their eternal arses. Quite frankly, if I was God, I think I’d task my PR people with a few well aimed thunderbolts at these sects, but that’s just me.

Any old road up. As I watched the pair walk down the road to knock on our neighbours door, I reflected sadly that I’d missed the opportunity to try out a rather amusing wheeze. For me, not for them. Did I say I was evil? Good. Just checking.

Conversations with these people tend to follow a script as predictable and tedious as a cold call telemarketer. The conversation normally runs something like this;
God Botherer; “Good morning sir / madam Would you like to talk about God”
Householder; “No.”
GB (Trying to engage); “Nice house sir.”
HH (Suspiciously); “Are you with the Mafia?”
GB (Puzzled); “Er, no.”
HH (Annoyed); “Eff off, timewaster.” (FX: Door slam)

I have several versions of this conversation, which may leave the Householder feeling that the unwilling trudge to see who is invading their personal time has not proven a wasted journey.
Version 1:
God Botherer; “Good morning sir / madam Would you like to talk about God?”
Householder (Pretending to be shocked); “Oh no. What’s he been up to now? You aren’t Social Workers / Police are you? Has he been messing about with the firmament again? I’ve told him / her not to, but he / she’s got such a lively mind.”
GB; “Er…”(FX: Door close)

Version 2:
God Botherer; “Good morning sir / madam Would you like to talk about God?”
Householder; “He’s out at the moment, fishing. Do you want to leave a message?”
GB; “Would you like to read about him, sir / madam?”
HH; “No, no, he / she will probably tell me all about it when he/ she gets home. If you lot were in properly in touch like you claim I’m sure he / she’d have let you know.”
GB; “Err….” (FX: Door close)

Version 3:
God Botherer; “Good morning sir / madam Would you like to talk about God”
Householder; “Why?”
GB; “Because..(Insert blather about end of world, repenting of sinners and all the other BS they like to chuck around)”
HH; “Nice day for it. So you reckon it’s all going to end at that time?”
GB (Enthused); “Yes sir.”
HH; “Well we had the (Insert competing sect name here) around earlier, and they say you’ve got the dates wrong, again.” The pause indicated by the comma is crucial, don’t forget it. “They told me they thought you lot are all going to Hell if you don’t convert, which I personally thought was a bit steep. They were quite vehement about it. I think I heard them say something about burning Heretics next week. Anyway. Must dash. Can’t take up any more of your valuable time. Byee.” (FX: Door close and lock)

There are many variants on this theme, and I’m sure my reader can come up with many more. Yes, yes, we’ll probably all burn at the stake (Make mine medium done with a little charring – Dijon mustard) for our disbelief in the ludicrous, but what one has to remember is that once ion their power, these unhinged zealots will forever keep tightening their ‘rules’ until they start burning innocents anyway. Believe in what we tell you to or be punished. It’s how they retain their grip on the gullible and easily frightened.

Smart Meters and Saltspring Island

Recently, that most solid of strongholds against the forced installations of the much distrusted ‘Smart Meters’, Saltspring Island, has seen the beginning of a blitz by Corix installation teams. On the 22nd of October, 10 Corix installation vans were seen on the ferry to begin the three week program of installations. Whilst I cannot help but sympathise with those who have these pieces of politically expedient technology thrust upon them, my irony meter has just gone off the scale.

For a long time now, Saltspring and certain of the surrounding Gulf Islands have been undergoing a political sea change. People who dislike the ‘poisons’ of Globalism and Urban living have been migrating there, and if this Op-ed from the Victoria Times Colonist is to be believed, staged some form of takeover. According to author Elizabeth Nickson, they are the ones responsible for preventing development of Island resources via the Island Trust. Nothing must change, goes the ideology, because mankind pollutes our island Earth, and therefore anything resembling industry is very bad indeed. Learning to live without technology is thought to be the way forward. ‘Low Carbon’ is the desired state of being. The Islands even elected a Green Party MP to further this end.

Okay, fine; they choose to live on the Gulf Islands, they choose the lifestyle. No issue with that. However, what raises an ironic smile is that many of the very people pushing the Anthropogenic Global Warming Agenda are those who emphatically don’t want a technology intended to be part of the ‘solution’ to ‘Global Warming’. Shades of the biter bit, methinks.

Whatever the outcome, I do know that the new crop of ‘smart meters’ only have a projected working life of ten years, as opposed to the ‘old tech’ meter lifespan of several decades. Word is that never mind ten years, seven seems to be the median for smart meters. So a rolling replacement program will have to be implemented, and you can be damned sure that the advocates for the ‘Low carbon’ lifestyle won’t want to help pick up the tab for that.

BC Madness

I’ve been busy of late; too busy to even think of blogging, but the following items reinforce my long held belief that sanity is at a premium throughout humanity.

Firstly, the ongoing clashes between Provincial Premiers over the Enbridge pipeline. Alberta wants it built, but BC will not allow the building without cash up front to fritter away on the ruling parties pet projects, only to find that the cupboard is bare when ‘spill cleanup money’ is really needed. Duh. What happened to ‘the polluter pays’ for any cleanup? BC would make far more from an increased tax take from all the money and employment a new refinery would generate than simply ending up stiffed for fees if the price of oil drops due to increased availability.

Secondly, an American dumping 100 tonnes of Iron Sulphate into the Pacific near to Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands for those with old maps). Supposedly this is a ‘carbon mitigation’ project, but one that violates BC anti pollution legislation, a number of other Canadian Federal statutes, and Environmental UN mandates. Oh yes, and seeing as the person who bumped the iron sulphate is an American, the EPA may well have a say. Plankton blooms of the scale already created may well be doing serious harm because they reduce the oxygen content of the local ocean. Well silly old me for thinking that Fish need that dissolved oxygen in order to live. Far from increasing the Salmon population, the effects may well prove the opposite. Read this piece by a Salmon Farmer about Plankton blooms and the harm they can do to fish life. There are grounds for serious concern here.