At last!

Well it’s nice to have something positive to say about something. I mean all this negativity can really weigh a person down. Stuff like artificial shortages, bans, Governmental incompetence, wars, ever encroaching attacks on civil liberties and free speech, increasing fiscal dithering, currencies about to implode and all the fallout that will entail.

Yet I am like a man watching the predawn light before a wonderful sunrise. A sense of excited anticipation lifts my heart, and raises my eyes from the grim grind of work-eat-sleep. There is hope, a promise of a bright new day despite portents of doom and failure in the outside world.

It helps that I’ve just finished two weeks of back to back shifts, and now have a slightly less onerous work schedule for the next three months. There’s even a holiday in the offing, which is nice. There is the promise of uninterrupted guiltless repose. My social life is going to cough and strain back into uneven existence. I’m positively giddy with anticipation.

The pool is cleaned out, the solar collectors are hooked up once more, and it will be up to swimming temperature is another two weeks if the weather holds. I am going to buy a hammock and sleep outdoors – damn the recent Cougar sightings. If that mouldy moggy wants to snack on my hide, he’ll find himself discounted ten cents a slice at the local Deli. Not that he will, small children and domestic pets are more his speed. As an aside, there are quite a number of ‘lost pet’ notices locally. Mostly Toy dogs like Shi-tzu’s, Pomeranians and toy poodles. Full size dogs generally get left alone. The local Deer population seems to have taken a dent, too. However, this is besides the point;

Yes. Mother in law goes home today. Forever. Never to darken my threshold ever again. Huzzah! I thought she’d never leave. After a hundred and one days of whining, sleep disruption and spreading her own low grade misery wherever she goes. A hundred and one days of no social life. A hundred and one days unable to go out for a meal because she’s so totally dependent (Not to say needy) we could not leave her on her own and couldn’t take her anywhere because even getting her up and down stairs is a two handed affair. A hundred and one days of disrupted work patterns because she couldn’t even go to the toilet unaided. And she wanted to go to the toilet. Every hour and a half.

This morning the sun is bright, and the house feels a little different, as if it harbours a keen sense of imminent release. Mrs S has the duty of returning Mother in Law to the UK, and we’ve planned everything down to a finesse. Down to the car, to the airport, wheelchair out first. I carry bags to check-in desk and Mrs S wheels her up to security. Everything is packed to ensure a swift transition, and as soon as they’re in security, I’m gone. There is a house to be cleaned and sanitised. Beds to be stripped and cleaned. The washing machine and vacuum will be running red hot all afternoon. The deck and outside windows have already been power washed, and I have industrial quantities of air freshener to rid us of the stink of her passing. This isn’t sanitising – it’s an exorcism. A liberation from the continuous misery she brought with her.

Now I’m going off to have a minor fit of hysterics. Then tomorrow my Whiskey supply will need replenishing. Allow me to leave you with Roger Daltrey of the Who in Ken Russells version of Tommy, the Rock Opera.

What if it’s not just the booze, fat and salt?

There’s been lots of coverage in the UK press and elsewhere about BM or Behavioural Modification initiatives via taxation. Politicians and their advisers want extra taxes on Alcoholic beverages (Minimum pricing and all that garbage), they talk about ‘fat taxes’ to solve the ‘obesity crisis’ and forcing food companies to cut back on the salt content of their products. Now my biochemistry is only slightly better than basic, but I have had specialist training in anatomy and physiology. I know where most of the important bits of the human body are, and have a slightly better than average idea of how they work, and what they need to function. I’m also a keen amateur cook who can prepare all sorts of things from their raw natural state to a delicious repast, and isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty. Got a raw haunch of Moose? Where’s my boning knife?

To cut to the chase, I was visiting Leg Irons a while ago and picked up on his little snippet about large doses of fructose, long term, being associated with an elevated incidence of Cirrhosis via Hepatotoxicity. Really? Thought I, so did a little searching. First up was this paper on Hyperuricemia induced by fructose. Oookay. In the first few google searches using the keywords ‘Cirrhosis’ and ‘Fructose’, a number of liver damage related issues flag up with increased sugar content in the modern human diet.

The human liver is, in its simplest form a biochemical filter, but actually does a lot more than that. To quote the Wikipedia page:

“This organ plays a major role in metabolism and has a number of functions in the body, including glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells, plasma protein synthesis, hormone production, and detoxification.”

So in the simplest terms, it’s an essential organ in the human body. When it fails, you fail. As any fule kno, Liver failure without a transplant is a one way ticket to the mortuary. One of the ways to make it fail, or at the very least damage Liver function, is to bombard it with long term high doses of sugars. Which is what the modern urban diet does. Never mind the booze.

Don’t believe me? Well next time you’re nosing through the kitchen cupboards or supermarket shelves for a treat, read the labels and simply make a note of how often the words ending in – ‘ose’ appear. Also note how high the starch content is; starches readily break down in the human digestive system into their component sugars. Corn Starch, wheat starch, they’re all complex sugars, it’s one of the reasons why bread tastes sweeter after chewing for a minute or so. Salivary Amylase in the mouth begins the process of breaking down starches into their component sugars (This used to be Junior High level science). Further down the Gastrointestinal tract, high doses of sugars also have the often ignored property of increasing the porosity of the small intestine. It’s why doughnuts are so waistline thickening. The high sugar / starch levels make it possible for the long chain lipids (fats) in the doughnut to be more readily absorbed. Fats and other long chain molecules on their own are not so readily absorbed by the digestive tract, but add extra sugar and, bingo!

Of course this is a highly simplified version of what happens, but it is what happens. The human gut is evolved for a mixed ‘opportunist’ type diet of fruit, nuts, fish and meat. A diet consistently high in sugars and starches isn’t what your digestive system is built to cope with, long term. In the short term, the human digestive system is remarkably robust, and can cheerfully cope with all manner of crap, which is why a Super size big mac or suchlike once or twice a month won’t hurt you, but as your regular diet – not such a brilliant idea (See Morgan Spurlocks experiences in ‘Super size Me‘), but not for the reasons you might think. Why? Well to put it simply, it’s not the actual burger that really does the damage, it’s all the stuff that goes with it, the buns, sauces and fries. The starches and sugars, not so much the proteins, fats and salt are the culprits.

There’s also the point that sugar consumption alone has skyrocketed since the 1980’s. Add in the extra starches, and that’s a whole heap extra. Some Doctors are ringing the alarm bells (Listen to this podcast), whilst many appear to ignore the issue.

Contrary to popular belief, a diet high in lipids (fats) proteins and salts is not on its own, harmful. That’s the major reason why low carbohydrate (Low starch and sugar) slimming diets work so well; because compared to Wheat, cornstarch and sugar, they are relatively low in convertible calorific value. A high starch / sugar diet (Lots of bread, cookies, sweets, ice cream, desserts, pasta, starchy veg, pies, pasties, pizzas, sorry girls – and chocolate) will therefore hammer your liver far worse than bacon and eggs every morning and a rib-eye steak for supper followed by a bottle of half decent Malbec with a large single malt to round it all off. Don’t take my word, google this stuff for yourself, especially the available scholarly papers.

That’s even without the long suspected behavioural problems and suchlike associated with high sugar intakes (Real life example: Youngest Stepdaughter used to go completely AWOL when she hit the sweetie jar or full strength fizzy drinks), and the associated increased incidence of diabetes. To be fair, the studies on this so far are still contentious, and more research on the behavioural aspects is obviously required for proper falsification. Yet politicians seem obsessed with the idea that all what ails us is down to the booze, fats and salt, and that taxing same is the answer. Well I think they couldn’t be more wrong if they tried.

The ‘tax it to death’ approach was most rigorously applied via the UK’s fuel price escalator, but last time I drove on UK roads back in 2011, they seemed more crowded than ever. All the extra tax does is act as a drag on the economy. The extra tax also seems to simply disappear into some fiscal black hole rather than be spent wisely on front line services. The additional funds seemed to go on bureaucratic empire building rather than the more essential blue collar end of things. The overall increase in ‘white collar’ employment is probably a factor. As might be the relative increase in stress levels (Too much fight or flight and too little physical activity to burn off the flood of hormones).

There is neither hope nor evidence that extra taxes on foodstuffs will do anything more that depress economic activity even further, and no hope or evidence whatsoever that the current crop of European politicians won’t waste the extra revenue. Although if the laws of economics hold true, actual overall tax revenues will decrease, with no real effect on disease rates or obesity, as people will be forced to subsist on poorer quality high sugar food because they cannot afford better.

Those who maintain a ‘healthy’ lifestyle are usually comparatively well off. They physically consume less high fructose corn syrup drenched foodstuffs. The clinically obese appear to come from less economically successful households, and their consumption of starch laden take-outs is far greater.

From a purely observational point of view I’m inclined to think that the booze, fat and salt are not the issue here. The increase in sugar and high fructose corn syrup consumption most certainly is. I’m also inclined to observe that comparative inactivity is also part of the problem, but you can’t tax that. The tertiary observation is that the current crop of politicians are more interested with appearance rather than substance, which is why the current mess will continue. Bombarded by lobbyists for particular industries they fiddle, compromise, spin and point score, minimum price this, ban that, but as always the law of unintended consequences will be their ever present shadow because most politicians don’t understand what they’re doing. Perhaps if they did less things might improve?

Prohibition is doomed to failure

The phrase, “A scientific study says..” is enough to elicit another core shuddering groan from me. We are constantly bombarded with messages such as; “This is bad for you” or ‘that will kill you”. To which I say; You’ve got to die of something. Death is the final arbiter of all matters. We are finite; we inspire, then expire. This is a fundamental fact of (insert ironic laugh here) life. It’s not worth worrying about. I’m under no illusions, as I’ve just attended the second funeral of family friends in six months. We are mortal, all of us, and that’s that.

I grew up in the countryside, in an English village so small that if you hadn’t hit the brakes when you’d seen the ‘Welcome to’ sign, you’d be halfway out of the parish by the time you stopped. Amongst my neighbours was a guy everyone called ‘Pop’. A decent old stick who was largely self sufficient and seemed to spend half his life out in the garden, or for a once weekly five mile walk between pubs to enjoy a pint and a pipeful with friends. His house had no central heating and a coal burning AGA, but old Pop nursed a dark secret – home made rum. Wicked stuff which I was once allowed a taste of, much to my fathers and Pop’s amusement. Well, I was only fourteen at the time.

About once a month or so in late summer, Pop would amble amiably down to his garden shed with a new home grown marrow and a bag of Demerara sugar and a few other bits and bobs. The marrow would have the inner cavity scooped out, filled with raisins and Demerara sugar, then the bottom (Stem end) stuffed into an enamel bucket. I’m not sure if he used any yeast as this was a long time ago. What I do know is that he had several of these things on the go at any given time. Every so often he might add a little water, and once the sugar and raisins had liquified and drained out of the marrow into the bucket he would piece together the following: an old copper kettle, some copper tubes and an old car radiator which he’d flushed out with boiling water a few times. He’d put the rather unpleasant smelling liquor into the kettle and put it over an old gas ring then set it to simmer for a couple of hours while he went to do some weeding. He’d wander back and forth to his shed, then shut the door to do something mysterious. Around twilight he might be observed wandering up the garden path with a single half pint whiskey bottle in his hand. He would arise late the following morning. Usually around Eleven, sit outside his door on an old folding chair, full head of shortish white hair still mussed with sleep, a pipe of home grown baccy which had a particular fruity and rounded smell, and smile gently at the world. He died aged 95 in the early 1970’s. Less than three months after well meaning relatives had shuffled him off to a nursing home.

Pop once gave me a snifter (With my dad’s permission) in a tiny liqueur glass for energetically cutting back his overgrown privet hedge one wet spring day. I was bone achingly tired and soaked to the skin, but that stuff put steel in my spine and before long my damp clothes were steaming. Even after this length of time the oily texture and rich sinus clearing aniseed overtones are still vivid in memory. The taste wasn’t wonderful, but it certainly woke me up.

While the previous example might not on the surface, seem to have much to do with prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages, I cite it as evidence that even if you couldn’t buy hard liquor, there are easy ways to make your own. How would prohibitionists have stopped him? Confiscated his marrows? Banned the sale of sugar or raisins? Taken all the junk out of his garden shed? The enforcement overhead to shut down every Pop level home brewing operation would be (and is) incredibly expensive. The same goes for all substances that people use to sidestep the mundane day to day of the modern world.

From home brewing to grown marijuana and small scale drug production, intoxicants of one shape or form will always be with us. This is the reason why prohibition is doomed to failure. The enforcers can’t be everywhere.

Intellectual Pron?

Excuse the deliberate title typo, but in this post I want to explore a specific subject, specifically ‘pornography’ without flagging up on multiple ‘block’ lists. The ‘stimulus’ for this post came from this little article about noted thinker, Alain De Botton, deciding to produce more intellectually satisfying matter of this nature. Presumably this means his performers will be exploring deep philosophical questions whilst probing each others pink bits to appear on the ‘better porn’ website he is proposing.

Here he is, exploring values after religion.

Don’t entirely agree with him, but that’s just me. My personal view is that people should be free to explore personal extinction through ‘drugs’, should they have the will and the means to do so. It is not for me to dictate their behaviour.

Likewise with those mini treatises on copulation and comparative anatomy. Done well they are high art, done poorly, cheap brutishness. In some respects it’s more a matter of quality control than morality. The cheap and tawdry stuff De Botton presumably wishes to offer an improvement on is kind of the Supermarket low price own brand end of the marketplace. Junky, unsatisfying, full of cornstarch filler and additives, but contains enough calories and suchlike to support life – although add enough chocolate and you’ve got an ‘obesity epidemic’.

In sex, as in food, there is a wide variety; from a good steak dinner to junk food and all stations in between. What is satisfying for one leaves another feeling hollow and craving something better.

So it is with matters erotic. There is such a thing as a ‘healthy’ level of stimulation – although I would steer clear of De Bottons idea of making such materiel available to children. Childhood is tricky enough without having to learn too early why little John and Janet have different bits to piss from, and what purposes said bits are used for when you grow up. Even more so when said bits seem to develop a life and will of their own shortly before puberty. So porn for children – no. It opens too many dark and disturbing little avenues. Why should they be forced into growing up too soon just to satisfy others? It narrows their mental horizons. There are more things to explore in this world than sex. Everything to its own time and season.

As to whether pornography can be turned into something ‘moral’ or ‘noble’, well, there’s a moral dichotomy right there. Carnality noble? The immoral, moral? If Mr De Botton wants to try, he’s welcome, but I feel that biology will be the final arbiter. Psychology, with a small spicing of philosophy, may be able to conjour habits from a rat, but humanity is hardwired for sex.

In a medical text I once studied there was a diagram of the human brain with representations of which area governed which organs and senses. In the male, the second biggest area was the hands. No prizes for guessing what the largest area was. If you see one of those cute little male homunculi models representing the amount of brain use as outsize hands, feet etc, you will notice that these public models are relatively sexless. Which is a lie. If these homunculi were truly representational of brain function, they would be dragging massive willies about. Bigger than the hands in fact.

If that aspect of human behaviour is what De Botton is trying to give nobility and morality to, he’s got an uphill battle ahead of him.

Facebook spam

About a year ago I ‘deleted’ my Facebook account and consigned all those ‘I want to be friends’ requests to the great interweb garbage can. Followed the instructions. Received notification that all my ‘friends’ were ‘very sad’ that I was leaving Facebook. The account disappeared to be seen no more. So far so good.

Yesterday I was doing a bit of spam filter housekeeping, and there, nestling amongst all those wonderful, never to be repeated offers of dodgy software, cheap blue chalk capsules masquerading as Viagra, unintelligible Chinese, and important messages from importunate foreign dignitaries who have a teensy spot of financial bother and just need your bank account details to release billions, were Facebook ‘Friend’ requests. WTF? Didn’t I delete that? Properly? Twice?

Like some moaning spectre, my one time Facebook account appears to have been resurrected more times than a Buddhist with a tricky Karma problem. It has become a zombie, a foot dragging nemesis which refuses to stay dead. I should never have opened the fucking thing, but we can all be wise in hindsight, can’t we?

For my own part I will be going out today, spending time with real life friends on a gloriously sunny BC day, taking a mental sidelong glance at all the fuss over Facebooks stock market flotation and wondering when the Facebook Financial bubble will burst.

Oh what now!

From over the water comes the news that ‘poor’ parents in the UK should receive Government help and advice on how to bring up their sprogs. Following on from my last post on how Teachers don’t suck, I’d like to make the point that not all parents suck either. A surprisingly large proportion don’t, suck that is. Only a minority are so useless that they’re little more than egg and sperm donors. A surprising amount of parents train and motivate their children to become better people than their parents were. Hopefully Mrs S and I are in the latter category.

The problem seems to be here, that politicians of whatever stripe appear to be under the delusion that legislation changes anything, apart from making any sphere of human activity less productive and more expensive. Putting petrol tax up didn’t reduce the amount of vehicles on the roads (Last time I was in the UK in 2011, previously empty roads had become heavily congested). Safety Cameras did nothing for road safety (Swindon in England got rid of theirs, and road accidents decreased). Gun laws didn’t take the guns off criminals (Gun crime has increased in the UK). The ‘War on drugs’ has put more ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs on the streets than before the bans. Restrictions on alcohol have re-introduced bootlegging. Anti-tobacco legislation has been killing off the UK licensed trade and introducing the new speakeasies (In the words of Leg-iron, the ‘Smokey-Drinky’). The world economy is in the tank because of politicians ham handed vote buying attempts to make things ‘Fairer’. Now the UK powers that be think they can teach people how to parent?

Oh FFS! Talk about the triumph of hope over experience.

Teachers don’t suck

Picked up from Oh what now! on a sunny BC morning, I showed this little video to my wife, who is a teacher, and a bloody good one. Howls of laughter ensued.

Just watch it. All right, it was made for an American audience, but the same principle applies. Parents who don’t nurture, who dump their toddlers in front of the TV and don’t get involved with teaching them about reading, writing and life in general. Parents who are too busy, who are too afraid of engaging with their kids, or who spend their whole lives commuting and working, then ignore their progeny when they get home. Parents who use their children as emotional weapons in warring relationships. Parents who can’t be bothered to make a little time to pass on their life skills. In short, parents who don’t train their own children. Parents who are little better than sperm and egg donors.

As Mrs S was perennially fond of pointing out when she worked in the UK educational system; “Parents have their children eighteen hours a day – I only get six with thirty of their little darlings at a time, and they expect me to fix all their kid’s issues?”

Yet politicians spend megabucks of taxpayer dollar fiddling with public education, only to see it failing. Politicians blame Teachers because they’re too slack spined to turn round to the parents and say “You spawned ’em, you fix ’em.” Education and learning are a great and lifelong thing, but unless parents do some of the grunt work and embed at least a passing love of learning (and a modicum of self control), even the best teachers won’t be able to fix what they couldn’t.


Happy Europe Day

Can’t be done often enough.

An Internet fable

The Troll and the pixie dust

Once upon a time, oh best beloved, there was a young blogger who painted his thoughts, such as they were, on the magic pages of the Interweb. A happy frolicker in the fields of dreams that forms the blogosphere. His name was Bill, and he loved the idea that people being free was heaps better than anything ever invented. Better even than the wheel, good whiskey, or fresh black olive bread with lightly salted butter and a nice chunk of Camembert. Or even the entire Interweb itself. Although not as good as sex (Well, we all have our own criteria.)

Most days, young Bill would take his blog down to the village of freedom ideas, deep in a small corner of the Interweb, and put up his board with what he had written on that day. Sometimes he would sit all day in the village of ideas and no one would come and talk to him. Occasionally he would stroll over to another board and scribble a note, sometimes serious, sometimes meant to amuse, as a comment on the other postings. More rarely Bill would return to his obscure little blog to find comments written by others. Sometimes he would reply, at other times he simply read and laughed at his friends cleverness or their enemies stupidity.

One day, Bill came back to his message board to read an angry comment from a fellow blogger, a wise man who went by the name of ‘Ironlegs’ which read; “I hate you, and don’t want you playing on my board any more. Go away forever and ever.”

Mildly upset at the vehemence of this comment, Bill erased the links as requested, and with a heavy heart wondered if he would ever read the wise sayings of Ironlegs again. A few days later, another comment appeared on his message board while he was out chatting to friends and drinking coffee. He returned to read “I don’t want to talk to you any more, and you can’t play with me.” From the Captain of Ranters from the far side of the village. Now Bill actually knew the Captain of Ranters and a few of the other members of the village to talk to, so sent a magic message to him which no one else could see or hear, then he took a short walk over to the Captain of Ranters message board, and asked what the problem was.

“Hello Bill.” Said the Captain of Ranters. “Sorry about that, but there’s a silly troll who has found a magical chameleon cloak. He’s using it to pretend he’s other people and go round writing foolish messages telling us not to talk to each other any more.”
“Why?” Said young Bill. “What’s the point?”
“Could be because he’s simply a weapons grade twat.” Commented the good Captain sourly. “Go talk to the Rider.”

So young Bill sent a magic message to the Rider, who stepped off his iron horse and sighed. “Sorry Bill, this silly troll who can neither read nor write properly has stolen a piece of the Interweb wizards magic chameleon cloaks. We think he’s doing this to us so the Wizards of the Interweb will think he’s jolly clever and ask him to join them. He hasn’t a hope.”
“Why is that?” Said Bill.
“Because the wise old Tea Witch knows of him. She says that without the magic cloak he’s a fat, blubbery pointless loser with all the grace and panache of a masturbating twelve year old. The Wizards of the Interweb all think he’s stupid as well.” Sighed the Rider, sadly. “He’s becoming a pest, so we’d better put out the Pixie dust, which he will tread in, and show us exactly where he lives.”
“Then we go over and beat him to a pulp?” Suggested Bill, then caught a stern reproving cough from the Inspector of Gadgets, who happened to be passing by.

As they stood and chatted, Bill noticed a number of the villages other inhabitants wandering over to talk with the Rider. Ironlegs, Richard of the Coated Puddle, High James, The Captain of Ranters, the wise old Tea witch. All the visitors to the village dropped by to discuss what to do, and how to stop the troll being so annoying. One thing was certain, thought Bill, the troll was going to be very unhappy because some of the villagers were talking about using Billygoats. Not that the troll would understand the folklore reference, because he was a very poorly educated, unimaginative and pointless troll, but that Billygoats were very bad indeed for trolls in general. They hurt a lot.

“Okay.” Said the Rider. “Here’s what we do. We scatter the pixie dust, which will only stick to the feet of invisible fairies like trolls, then use it to track it to its lair.” A number of the village bloggers took the pixie dust and scattered it around their message boards. Shortly afterwards, trails of glowing footsteps could be followed from board to board as the troll continued to leave silly pointless messages.

“What is he trying to do?” Asked the Wolf of the Snow.
“I think he’s trying to stop us talking to one another.” Opined Bill. The Captain of Ranters looked at the other villagers and smiled. The Rider picked up the smile, and then all the villagers began to laugh amongst themselves at the abject failure of the stupid troll, because, oh best beloved, all he had managed to do was to make the villagers co-operate more closely. After the laughter died down, the Wise Tea Witch said “Let’s see who we’re dealing with.” And all the villagers trooped off to their far seeing scope, following the trail of pixie dust coated footsteps to the trolls real home in the fabled poisoned woodland of Anglia.

As they looked closer, the troll came bounding out of his lair and roared at them very fiercely indeed, waving a club that was almost half his height long. The villagers stopped and looked at each other in astonishment. “Goodness!” Said Bill. “Hasn’t he got big feet!” Sure enough children, the troll had the biggest, ugliest, most scabrous feet ever seen on a fairy creature.
“Doesn’t match the rest of him.” Giggled someone else. And all the villagers stared at the tiny and very ugly troll with the oversized feet as he danced with impotent rage, waving his teensy weensy twig of a club at them.
“I think the Billygoats might well be overkill.” Said the Wolf of the Snow.
“I don’t think there are any Billygoats quite small enough.” Remarked the wise Tea Witch.
“Gosh, he’s really fat and ugly.” Commented someone else. “No wonder he’s got no chums.”
“Dirty too. He really should take a shower.” As if to make the point, a passing Woodland pig took one sniff at the troll and turned away in disgust.
“How could anyone love a thing like that?” Remarked someone else.
“I think that’s why. Nobody loves him because he’s so deformed and unpleasant, so he creates mischief instead.” Commented the Rider. “He hasn’t anything worth saying either, so all he can do is disrupt. He hasn’t got any worthwhile reason for existing at all.”

With wise murmurs of agreement, everyone turned away and went back to the village and carried on as usual. Of course dear children, this did not stop the troll leaving pointless messages, but now everyone knew who he was, no-one cared, so he became even lonelier and sadder than he had ever been before. Eventually he became ever more deranged and developed an obsession with collecting used pizza boxes and filled his tiny house with them. What is sadder still, when the troll died prematurely of a massive heart attack because he spent his life behind a keyboard, pointlessly taunting people and getting no exercise, nobody really cared. Not even the trolls mother, who was already hiding in shame for giving birth to such a sad creature. Not even the council workers who had to dispose of his maggoty decomposed remains or the tons of smelly pizza boxes. His noisome cadaver was eventually shoveled into a cheap chipboard box and burned at the crematorium as a health hazard. Because he had been so nasty to others in real life, there was no-one to cry for him at his funeral. No one even to put up a headstone to say who he’d been, or if he’d done anything positive with his life.

The moral of my little tale, children, if morality means anything; is that if you treat others like morons, then they will feel no need to even consider your point of view, and you will eventually die alone, ignored and uncared for after an unfulfilled life. Your brief sojourn on this mortal coil will have been wasted. Here endeth the lesson.

Porch life

While we are graced with my Mother in Laws august presence (Think Albert Steptoe in drag but unable to do anything for herself apart from whine), I find myself increasingly exiled to the deck to write. Only another twenty nine days Bill, hang in there. You can do this.

We’re fortunate that we selected a house with a large covered external area (about four and a half metres by six) to live in, so I find myself sitting in the shade with my laptop on a sunny morning waiting for the kettle to boil. The nurse we’ve hired to bathe MiL once a week is giving her a good wash, Mrs S is off picking up some copy from a client for me to rehack and the dog is getting hyper about every jackrabbit that wanders into the yard. There’s just a smidge of a chilly edge in the breeze making it uncomfortable to work in shorts and t-shirt for more than an hour, but otherwise quite pleasant. Not bad for the first of May. We’ve even taken to calling this part of the deck our ‘outside office’.

In spite of a forecast for rain showers, the local weather is currently sunny with a modicum of high cloud. Our local pair of Bald Eagles have shoved off somewhere to please themselves, and there is the far off sound of a ride on mower chugging its way round a neighbours yard, the odd passing pickup, and occasionally a float plane or scheduled flight on its way to or from Vancouver. Otherwise it’s just me and the odd Hummingbird.

My one current regret is that we didn’t come here ten years ago.

Well woger me wigid! It’s bloody hailing! Oh, it’s stopped. That was a fun five minutes, I was wondering what the roaring noise was.