Tag Archives: New beginnings

So what are you going to do?

There’s a lot of causes out there. Some good, some not so good, and some so downright fucked up they’re over the insanity event horizon and accelerating past lightspeed. It’s easy to feel snowed under sometimes. Anyway, I’ve done contributing to other peoples causes. Those that were supposed to be good weren’t that good. Those not so good turned out to be stupid and the rest aren’t even worth mentioning. Nowadays it’s hard to find one without a vested interest behind it, so I won’t be looking any more.

Having just been through a double bereavement with all that entails, I’ve been re-evaluating what I want from my life. Where I’m going, what I might do when I get there sort of thing. Becoming the joint senior member of our little clan has come as a major culture shock. No excuses, no deferment, it’s my ball and I have to make the rules now. If they need making. Which more often than not they don’t. My work as a parent has, and continues to be largely done. I’ve morphed role from family guard dog and occasional shepherd to long distance shoulder to cry on, which is as it should be. No doubt grandchildren are somewhere on the horizon, but please, not just yet. What gets me most is the odd sensation that I now have no-one to defer to, which makes me mildly uncomfortable. Adrift and hollow. Much better off financially, but directionless.

So, that begs the question. What do I do now? The world beckons. I’ve a hankering to live in Paris for a month or two next year. Ride those wonderfully curvy Swiss motorways on something like a Triumph Rocket III. Meander through Southern Europe, park the monster 2.3 litre sports cruiser motorcycle outside a little Bar Tabac and let the local kids stare slack jawed at it. Dance the centre line a little along the coast road from Marseille to Genoa. Thence down to Rome, see Naples and live a little. Maybe down to watch Stromboli and Etna spit fire before heading up the coast road with Venice and Vienna in mind. Wander round Prague and Berlin with a side trip through Warsaw. Up through Denmark and across the big bridges into Sweden. Visit a cousin of mine who lives in Gothenburg. Catch a freighter to Immingham and grey, damp olde England. Pay my respects to the wider clan. Ride a container ship back to Canada and run Highway One from Halifax Nova Scotia to mile zero again. Perhaps even zipping south of the border to revisit New York and swing in a wide arc from New Jersey to Texas then North through Nevada. Indulge my wanderlust. Write about what happens as it happens. Perhaps. Then I’ll pitch up on the Pacific shore again and think about the other side of the ring of fire. China, Japan, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Of course these are all mere dreams and may never come to pass, but I’ve done some instalments of that trip at various times in my life and truly want to do them again. While it’s still possible to do so.

Secrets & Lies

Busy reconnecting with estranged family members at present following my Mother’s funeral. The ceremony was a Church do which was well attended. Close on a hundred packed into a small English Parish church for the public goodbye. A day which saw me standing around with siblings doing the duty. Greeting old family friends and occasional relative at the church door on an uncharacteristically sunny English day, wishing protocol allowed sunglasses and a hat. Feeling numb and heavily jet lagged.

Having shed my tears two weeks before, I found myself standing in the front pew at parade rest in my best jacket eyeing the closed coffin bedecked with white roses and lilies, wincing as the organist muffed hymn intro’s and wondering what Mum would be thinking if she could have seen all the fuss. Listening to siblings trying to sing with shaking voices unused to the exercise of a tune. Admiring the architecture of some late medieval robber barons ornate tomb. I think the Ma Sticker I knew would have laughed herself senseless at the irony because we’ve always been such a cheerfully agnostic bunch. However, the local societies wanted to say thanks for all the voluntary work our family and specifically my mother put into the village, so I kept my mouth firmly shut and let priestly platitudes rattle past.

My major issue is there’s a lot of highly personal stuff coming out of my particular woodwork right now making me a deeply unhappy bunny. Why our little clan couldn’t have sat down and talked it all out years ago has left me feeling like Tim Spalls character from Mike Leighs “Secrets and lies“;

There’s been quite a bit of “But we all thought you knew, Bill.” Recently.
Well I didn’t. Much was kept from me by my parents and I am desperately trying not to be very angry with them indeed. Which has taken the edge off my grief. Inheritance isn’t the issue. That’s down to probate and settling the estate. It’s just money. The tax man will no doubt take his bite, but I’m more seriously pissed off at my extended family for keeping me in the dark all these years. I’d suspected of course, but no one took me aside and said; “Bill, there are a few things you should know.” That’s the kind of conversation I’m having with several of my cousins and aunts right now. Clucking bell. First mother in law dies. Next we had to move house and fast. Then my my car gets trashed. Mum dies. My dog dies. Now all this. If I didn’t know better I’d think someone had it in for me. It’s been a tough few months with only a few brief respites.

Notwithstanding, I’m trying very hard to look on the bright side. Be positive. Letters have been written to mend fences. I’m trying to do the right thing and move forward keeping my chin up.

Mrs S and I are back in Canada and heavily jet lagged. Stepkids are good and making their own lives. We have kept nothing from them. My wife still loves me, although sometimes I wonder why. And I’m quite well balanced, insofar as the chips upon both my broad and brawny shoulders are in a state of perfect equilibrium.

The curtains of darkness have been stripped from my past and they have revealed a tangled emotional forest that would give the Brothers Grimm nightmares. One which I have to traverse alone. So I think I’ll be taking a chainsaw with me. With extra gasoline and maybe some Gelignite. Bring it on.

I’ll be back in due course. You know how it is. Dragons to rescue. Damsels to slay. Providing the next media scare story doesn’t get us all first, or stupid EU politicians don’t talk us into a war.

Regards

Bill

Speeding up

I’ve just moved my office space into the sun room behind the kitchen and very nice it is too. Not too warm, not too cold, and a decent view. Only one issue; because of where the Cable guy wired in our modem, the wi-fi router is at the front of the house. Which means I get a wi-fi signal of under forty percent. Downloads were like watching treacle pour, streaming bandwidth felt restrictive and meant every YouTube video I tried to watch stopped and started like they were running on a 56kb telephone link.

So yesterday I elected to spend a few bucks on a wi-fi extender. Being a cautious kind of person I went to the local Future Shop and purchased A Linksys N300 extender for sixty bucks. Linksys used to be owned by Cisco, I have a Cisco Wi-fi router which has worked flawlessly since we bought it for under a hundred bucks about three years ago when our last Belkin router died. As an aside; we’ve had two Belkin Routers – they’re cheap and cheerful, but that’s the best that can be said for them. So I thought, yeah, great. Linksys don’t do duff kit (Insert ironic laugh here). How wrong can you be? After two hours of teeth grinding, finding out that Belkin had bought out Linksys and a demanded charge of twenty five dollars for tech support on a brand new item. Not to mention the setup programme crashing two browsers and taking me to a BSOD. At which point I thought “Bugger all this for a lark.” And hiked back to Future Shop with the offending item. This time I purchased a NetGear WN3000RP Universal WiFi Range Extender which cost just over ten bucks more. I avoided the D-Link N300. Cheap it might be, but I haven’t worked in Tech support for a while and I’ve got better things to do with my life than fuss over issues which shouldn’t exist. Half an hour later after a minor panic looking for my Wi-Fi SSID password I’m home with a 95% plus signal in my new office and a very happy bunny indeed. Yes, the NetGear Extender does create a new Wi-Fi network segment to manage, but the improved signal more than makes up for the minor inconvenience and best of all, no need to delve into my ageing laptops registry to fix problems caused by iffy setup programmes. Streaming video and downloads streak along at full tilt. I’m delighted. For under a hundred bucks the NetGear is good value for money, even if it does look a bit clunky. It works.

Canada recognises Bitcoin

Bitcoin CanadaJust caught this off The Register. Bitcoin just got the endorsement of regulation in Canada. My, my. On the same footing as the Dollar no less. A little bit of a two edged sword this, as by putting Bitcoin on the official list of currencies, the various exchanges will have to register and comply with the financial regulations up north of the 49th parallel or get out of Canuckland. However, the upside is that by recognising Bitcoin, it gives the controversial crypto-currency a veneer of respectability, and encourage wider trading and convertibility. Which in a wider sense can be considered a good thing. Even if the main intent is to allow the taxman to get a piece of the action.

First the Enbridge pipeline gets approved, now this. Canada’s economic future is looking brighter all the time.

Cream crackered

Totally tired today for some reason. Worn out, shagged, knackered like I’ve been burning the candles at both ends with a flamethrower. A heavily sedated slug has more energy than I do at present. It’s not as though I’ve been eating or drinking to excess. I haven’t. Modest exercise, lots of vitamins and vegetables. Sunshine and early mornings. Hmm. Maybe that’s my problem, too healthy, with excess blood in my alcohol stream. Have to do something about that.

Almost done with the packing for Friday’s house move. Then twenty four hours without Interweb and then back up and running. Afterwards I may just sleep.

Interesting…..

During a break from packing the office this morning, I was looking around for some blow by blow coverage of the European Elections and came across this gem of a quote in the dear old Grauniad. Even though the full results won’t be out until Sunday.

An internal Liberal Democrat document reveals that the party is braced for a complete wipeout in the European parliamentary elections.

As voters go to the polls for the European elections across the UK and local elections in England and Northern Ireland, senior party figures have been briefed to say that a failure to win any seats in the European parliament should be “expected” at this stage in the electoral cycle for a governing party.

ORLY? (Sound of muffled laughter all the way from British Columbia).

Little boxes

We’re getting all boxed up for the move. The house is an absolute tip. Where did all this junk come from? We’ve only been in this suite three years. Where did that come from? I don’t remember buying it. These are the questions you ask when rummaging through your drawers for the stuff you want to keep. Never mind. Tomorrow the office gets wrapped up and steam cleaned before we close it up. The whole idea being to reduce our living space gradually down to three rooms until we walk out and hand over the keys, leaving a clean place and our damage deposit intact.

While we’re packing we’re half watching the UK Euro MEP elections and hoping like hell the big three political parties get a bloody good scare thrown into them. Let’s face it, Labour, Tories and the Limp Dems have been taking the electorate for granted for far too long and deserve a good fright. Maybe even kicking out of power altogether. There’s hardly a wet fag paper to stick between them, the only difference being that the Tories are marginally less incompetent than Labour. Hell, they all got their PPE Degrees at the same universities anyway, so it’s scarcely any wonder.

The Barclay Brothers Beano and all the other broadsheets of late have been populated with anti underdog hit pieces, but it’s the comment threads that are the most telling. You can tell the trollsters are worried that their cushy little sinecures are at risk and the penny is only just dropping that the best way to recover votes is not to tell Mrs & Mrs Public that they’re a bunch of morons. Mr & Mrs Public don’t like that, and have been saying so. With the occasional bit of moral support from the expat community.

If challenged on this point with a threat to vote for Nige and the Purple Gang, the big three will tell you there’s no room for a fourth major political party. Ooh no, they say, there’s no need to vote for anyone else, vote for us again you suckers and we’ll promise you the moon. You won’t get it of course. No way you peasants. No referendums, no choices and you can jolly well put up with what we decide to take off you. We’ve been to Uni and know better than you of the great unwashed. By the way, we’re putting taxes up again. Got to save the world from you lot. How will we fund our Business class travel otherwise?

You know what? From what I hear and see, I think Slaphead, Minutely Bland and Clogg are genuinely frightened. Trouser fillingly so. You know what else? I really do hope they get the scare they so richly deserve. They know the mob are threatening to storm the ballot boxes and the metaphorical tumbrils look like rolling. Maybe. I genuinely want to believe there’ll be a change, but my natural English bred cynicism won’t let me.

Not that it will make any odds to the EU. Nige and Co have been taking the piss out of Brasso and Van Nonentity for several years now and little has changed in the Euro Parliament. Apart from the EU trying to expand into Russia itself. Which will all end in tears as the last three attempts did. The Russki’s have done a deal to sell gas to the Chinese (as predicted), and India, the other regional Superpower in the making, will no doubt follow. Then when the Ukraine and Europe is freezing in the dark there will be another long retreat from Moscow. Canada will get its pipeline to sell oil to the other side of the Pacific despite all the machinations from US and EU funded pressure groups, and the great decline of the West will continue. No Nukes required.

Talk about predictable. At least we’ll be warmer in Victoria.

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.

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.

Welcome back Anna

Anna Raccoon is back on the blogroll after being reported missing in inaction due to illness.

Absolutely delighted to see Anna back up and stumbling. Only sorry she trashed her blog layout which now needs rebuilding. I’m sure the magical Interweb wayback machine might be of some assistance here.

Big H/T to Leg Iron at Underdogs bite upwards