Arrgh!

Woken at ugodly hour by the hotels fire alarm making an ear piercing, screeching noise that propelled me out of bed down to reception. Then there was the additional sound of running water inside the wall between our room and the bathroom. Jesus H Christ on a Speed Twin! I thought the damn wall was going to come in. This morning I felt like I had a serious hangover. Tired, woolly headed and seriously out of sorts. Checked out of the hotel with only an insincere apology from the staff and got the hell out of Dodge. However, an hour, two coffee’s and one Red Bull later I began to return to my usual irascible self.

Eventually we found that the cause of the issue, and thus my lack of blessed repose, was down to a compressor failure on the sprinkler system caused by a lightning strike on a remote power line. The surge had caused the sprinkler system compressor to fail and the failure had set off the shrieking alarm. We were lucky it hadn’t triggered the bloody sprinkler system. Heavens to Murgatroyd! This was a newly built hotel. Had the hotel builders never heard of surge protection? Especially when their electrickery comes from the storm-prone Rockies. Argh!

As an aside, I’m beginning to take a distinct dislike to most hotel ‘breakfasts’. Rubbery scrambled eggs devoid of any real taste and something supposed to be cooked ham, but might as well be salty tofu. In establishments that advertise themselves as having three stars no less. It’s like this particular standard of hostelry are trying to shave more and more off the bottom line and are trying to tempt people in with the promise of a free meal. Better that they didn’t provide anything at all. Tim Hortons or McDonalds provide much better fare. Anyway, we’re moving on, and leaving such unpleasantries firmly in the rear view mirror.

On the plus side, on our way to our next port of call we discovered one of Alberta’s hidden secrets; lake resorts. Small communities off the beaten tracks where there are beaches and water sports facilities hundreds of miles from any coast. Quite smart little places with everything from grocery, drug and liquor stores to their own Police Station. Restaurants, bars, all that is necessary to refresh the hungover traveler. We sat and enjoyed the view at one such, just sitting and reading in the shade. Me ploughing through Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Death in the Afternoon’ and Mrs S enjoying what she calls ‘a right bodice ripper’. I think it’s called ‘Outlander’ or some such. It makes her laugh anyway.

Also on the positive side there is news of a successful temporary treatment for Autism from a group of researchers in San Diego. It’s not a cure, but the old treatment for Sleeping Sickness, Suramin, has proven to bring positive effects for all of those given the treatment in a double blind trial. While it’s not a real cure, what these human trials have achieved that there is hope for the 1 in 68 afflicted, and once they’ve identified exactly which brain chemistry triggers are responsible for ASD, a better and more permanent treatment can be developed.

Despite a rough start, not a bad day, all things considered. And the sun is shining. Yeah.

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Mosquito mania

It must be nearing Summer. The mossies and no-see-ums are beginning to make an impact on our hides despite copious anointments of bug repellent. Seriously, the little tinkers must be passing messages saying “Fresh blood, guys. Pile on.” Mrs S is suffering worse than me, poor lamb, and woke me around four this morning with a shriek when she twisted a muscle trying to apply ointment to an almost inaccessible part of her anatomy. Now she has to sit quietly to let the muscle settle, and my beloved does not sit still very well. Hi-ho. Unfortunately this means I have to do all the driving.

Well, we’ve crossed the Rockies and are well into ranching and oil territory. We missed a turn while admiring a Rocket III whoosh ahead, and because we didn’t realise our error for over half an hour and ended up driving for an hour longer than anticipated. Such are the grid patterns of Albertan roads. No biggie.

The one thing about crossing mile after mile of forest and pasture punctuated with the odd swamp is that it gets boring. Like with the Rockies, you can only take so much awesome in a day. I find when trying to stick to the 110kph (68mph) speed limit on dual carriageways such splendour gets more than a little dull. So much so that I start yawning, provoking a “Bill, you are drifting. Be aware.” from Mrs S, who paraphrased Omar Sharif’s famous line from Lawrence of Arabia at me with a playful slap. However, I got the joke, perked up, and an hour later we arrived safely at our hotel.

Anyway, tomorrow is a much shorter hike, with a planned stop off to do a little canoeing en route. Whether I end up doing all the paddling is moot. One thing is certain; those bloody mosquitoes will be trying to make a meal of us. Time for a trip to the drug store for more Deet, then.

Another day, another hotel

Off onto the land of the rising sun, and I’m not talking Japan here. We’re heading Eastbound and sideways. Scenery is still completely awesome, we raised the tally to nine Black Bears observed in the last four days when we photographed a mother and two cubs studiously ignoring tourists on highway 16 east of Jasper.

Which raises the question; are Ursus Americanus ‘black’ enough? Or will BLM and their cohorts claim that’s one of their sacred ‘ists’, and since I’m not the ‘correct’ skin hue am I on the list of people allowed to refer to these creatures as ‘black’? Having photographed a mother and two cubs; again, can one call the female parent of a bear cub a ‘mother’? I’m told there are people who make the rules in Ontario who have views about that sort of thing. They have a hit list of non-approved words, and ‘mother’ is most definitely on it.

Also a bit gutted because I slept through a magnificent display of the Northern Lights last night. Fortunately I met a like minded geek over breakfast this morning who let me know what tonights peak activity was going to be like. We’re also 100km north and 200km east of our last lodgings, so I’m going to stay up way past my bedtime, camera in hand in ‘movie’ mode to try and capture the sky dancing. Posting of pictures and such may be a bit delayed as I haven’t loaded any photo and video editing software on my new ‘pooter. However, watch this space.

As for the forthcoming UK election; are there people who seriously have a remaining brain cell going to vote for Labour with Corbyn in the driving seat? He’s a wetter re-run of Michael Foot for heavens sake! At least Foot was anti-EU. Corbyn is so keen to play lovable puppy to Juncker and Merkin that he’ll become everyone’s bitch as far as BREXIT is concerned. May is far too authoritarian, but at least she’ll get the UK out of the EU. Corbyn won’t, he’ll fold faster than a black belt in Origami.

Glad to see that Trump fellow is backing out of the Paris accord on Climate Change. He may be bombastic and a little boorish in manner, but isn’t he annoying all the right people? Must buy some more popcorn tomorrow, as I’ve run out and my handy dandy little hot air popcorn maker has remained at home.

That’s all for the present. Having a splendid time and am going up a glacier some time in the next day or so. Play nice now.

Aand we’re off!

Interweb connections have been far and few between over the past few days. At present I’m writing this off line for a quick post and paste when connections allow. Mrs S and I are having a forty eight hour chill out on the edge of Mount Robson National park with an excellent view of Mount Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rocky mountains which looks like a peak shaped layer cake below brilliant blue skies.

Well it’s been an interesting trip so far as we hurtle through the sunny back country of BC toward the other side of Canada. Six black bear sightings, the first sitting ten metres back from the road on highway 24, head moving back and forth as if counting the traffic. Maybe he was doing his Green Cross Code, or perhaps was even a member of that secret cabal the Tufty club, doing his best Policeman Badger impersonation, who knows? Another camera shy counterpart was sighted ambling up a hillside on Highway 5 as a couple driving a rented camper van focused their long lenses upon him. Then there’s the rocks, the trees, some more rocks and OMG! Is that a Douglas Fir? Surely not. Maybe a Birch, Maple or dare I say it, Spruce. Four other fine looking Ursines were spotted doing their own personal photoshoots while we were passing through Jasper National Park.

May is truly the finest month to visit the Rockies. In the latter half of the month the lowland snow is mostly gone and most of the parks are open. There’s new growth everywhere, the alpine meadows look gorgeous and the mountains are decked out in the purest white. Can I say that or is it “Racist”? Don’t know, care even less. I don’t think the scenery cares what a lot of student activists say either.

In some ways I’m a little spectaculared out already. You can only take so much awesome in a day before you need a serious lie down and a nice cup of tea. At the moment I’m sitting twenty metres from one of the prettiest mountain streams I’ve ever encountered. It looks like someone learned how to make glass run like water. Oh and there’s Elk and a mother bear with two cubs in the neighbourhood so our very nice hosts tell us. As well as a forest fire being doused by helicopters working in shifts (And very pretty they look, too).

Yes, and I learned a fascinating new word in Chinese (Cantonese) this week; “Baizuo” to describe that pestilential plague of whiny SJW’s who are always banging on about how unfair everything is (Yes. And….) and how it would all be sooo much better if the rest of us gave our worldly wealth unto the ever rapacious big state. Then confess our ‘white guilt’ before handing over everything the Western world has ever built over to those who didn’t help build it. Then shut up and don our chains like good little zombies to be lorded over by the ‘white left’. Just because we other mere mortals are all so racist, sexist, islamophobic or whatever. Even if we’re not. By the way, “Baizuo” is not a compliment. Quite the opposite. Yes, and if someone calls you “Sheng-mu” they’re not being very kind, either. But if the cap fits, wear it.

Posting will be somewhat erratic (As if anyone cared – heartfelt sob) as I’m breaking in a new laptop ‘pooter. So excuse prease and watch this space. In the meantime we’re off traversing the ice fields tomorrow. Cheery-bye.

There’ll be tears before bedtime

Road trip is booked, planned and good to go. Trans Canada all the way out to Newfoundland & Labrador and back. Hotels, gas stations, mileage are all plotted and sorted. We’re taking the northern route out and the quickest way back via Highway One. About the only provinces we’ll miss en route will be Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

The one thing to sour the edge of this magnificent undertaking is the passing of the egregiously idiotic Bill C-16 giving what should be purely a civil matter over to criminal law.  Which means if you use the wrong pronoun to the wrong person you can go to jail. I watched Jordan Petersen give evidence to the Senate in the clip below and I’m inclined to agree with Dr Petersen’s gloomy prediction that this will not end well for transgenders.

The question the politicians overlook is this; if you run the risk of prison by offending someone by forgetting to use one of their alphabet soup pronouns, then will that encourage you to associate with them? Got it in one. It will have exactly the opposite effect to that intended. Transgenders and similar will find themselves even more marginalised as people will unconsciously avoid them even more. I’ve already heard of teachers saying they’ll hang up their teaching tools for good this year over this issue. These are veterans of the chalkface you understand. Experts in bringing children from bottom of the class to the top percentile. The cream of the profession. Now faced with this catch-22 of a bill, I can see other child care and social work professionals doing likewise. To the very detriment of the people they would normally help.

Likewise anyone with eccentric hairdo’s or any of the other indicators of such a lifestyle will be getting nothing from me but a cursory look and a long, deep silence. Because you can’t prosecute someone for something they won’t say. On the grounds that I might find myself prosecuted if I unconsciously offend the offence seeker in any given instance. So if you’ll forgive me I’ll be giving the high shoulder in future to those with blue, green or any unnatural hair rinse, or any of the other indicators that denote one of the newly privileged few. This is entirely understandable because I, like so many other Canadians, will be doing so in case we give some undefined kind of offence and run the risk of arrest.

Second thought: What this means is that I will be taking my money to businesses who do not attract such people. Again. It’s not because I dislike them in any way, although the one’s I have met haven’t really impressed me. It’s simply that now the threat of fine or imprisonment has been added to what should be a purely civil matter, I’ll be taking my custom elsewhere. This isn’t hate speech, it’s simply me protecting myself.

Sincerely,

His high Kekness Bill Sticker. God-Emperor of the known Multiverse, (Oi Vey for short)
FYI: The correct form of address is to Kowtow (meaning 2) three times before giving yourself a wedgie and kissing the ground under my feet. Get that wrong and you’ll be nicked chummy. Sauce for the goose etc.

The indefatigable Anna

While road trip planning this morning, a process punctuated by the sound of American Robins bouncing off our windows, I was utterly delighted to hear the news that the Scriblerus’ groups doyenne, the redoubtable and worthwhile Anna Raccoon is very much alive and poking nethers. The link to her updated blog is on the sidebar. It just goes to show, you can’t keep a good Raccoon down.

Now Anna and I have corresponded on occasion, and I’ve always found her a delight and a pleasure to deal with. Quite simply because people of her determination and integrity are admirable above all others. And her integrity, let me tell you, is constructed of Chobham armour plate with reactive munitions on the side. Even during the worst mudslinging of the Savile saga, she remained unflinching and resolute in her pursuit of factual accuracy. Standing aside from the media and compensation driven witch hunt asking simple questions that turned out to have far more interesting answers than the denunciations reprinted ad nauseum in the mainstream UK press.

Now Anna, our own Suzanne Cameron-Blackie is standing (or rather lying in bed) in the UK General Election June 8th as an independent candidate in the constituency of Islington North. If you are an Islingtonian who wants to really stick it to all sides of the political spectrum then I would recommend you vote for her. Because in the simplest terms she is a damned sight more worthy than Corbyn, or any of the other mainstream party candidates.

Now some would say “Hey, she’s terminally ill – what good can she do?” Suggesting that a vote for a dying woman is wasted.

My response would be that Suzanne has been told she was going to ‘die in six months’ before, a couple of years ago if memory serves. And another time before that. This alone would indicate an almost indomitable will and blast-your-eyes bloody mindedness powering her cancer ravaged frame. For which other mortal flesh can only stand in awe. Most other people faced with such pain and suffering would have turned their face to the wall by now and slid under quietly, but not her. This old girl is going down fighting all the way. The grim reaper is probably frightened of her anyway. So I have a feeling La Raccoon will be with us for a little while yet. I’ve even had an amusing vision of her delivering her maiden speech from a hospital bed wheeled into the House of Commons. Or even on a Skype screen installed for the occasion.

What a trooper. God bless her and all who sail with her.

Science, settling

Gritting my teeth today over a large car service bill. However, it’s money well spent as it keeps our little SUV chugging along and less likely to end up letting us down at some critical juncture. It was a large chunk of change, but we only get this kind of expense once a year. Well thrice if you count what’s coming next.

Mrs S and I are about to undertake another epic road trip, this time to Newfoundland and back. Unlike ten years ago we don’t have the complication of the dog, which meant we spent a lot of time looking for ‘pet friendly’ motels who would charge thirty bucks extra a night for the privilege of having our dog with us. We’re also taking the road less travelled along the northern route where cell phone coverage is spotty at best. However, so long as the motels we book have decent wi-fi, we’re all good. We’ve also bought a nice big cool box for picnics en route.

Talking of comestibles and the politics of food, sometimes you just have to give a grim faced nod of ‘told you so’ and shake your head at the sheer capriciousness of the diet industry and the quasi-political organisations that keep on handing down doctrinaire dictations about what we should and should not be eating, having first lobbied the WHO into backing their unhinged assertions.

Over the past few years there have been a number of food scares. All of which seem to be falling by the wayside. Recently the Framington Study, an analysis of dietary salt intake, came up with the long suspected result that a salt intake greater than 2300mg per day is not as dangerous as some would have us believe. The results indicate that good old sodium chloride is not the death dealing masked super villain the hand waving anti-salt lobby would have us all believe. See this article for the alternative guidelines and follow links back to the study.

Of course the anti-salt lobby have pointed out the weaknesses in the study, but the evidence indicates that so long as your kidneys are functioning normally, any excess salt gets flushed out of your system anyway. So why all the fuss? Indeed, more rational voices have argued that a daily intake of 4-6000mg per day is essential for a healthy heart and that the 2,300 FDA guidelines are far too low and may even be damaging.

As always, it seems that moderation is key and maybe the health problems the ‘experts’ claim, along with their total low-taste lifestyle recommendations are just wild guesses. Like the scares over dietary fat, the alcohol intake guidelines and just about every other claimed killer, all the figures behind these claims seem to be plucked out of thin air. It could be argued that by setting the limits way too low they are actually devaluing the case against excessive dietary intake which may well prove harmful at 10,000mg / day. Or are the panicmongers doing what I used to do with Eldest when we were going out, telling her that we were going half an hour earlier than we actually were and to get her buns into gear? Pitching the upper limit way too low because they know no-one’s going to do what they’re told anyway. Well I’m certainly not.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it is that these Government Health guidelines too often have their genesis in advocacy organisations and commercial lobbyists (Sometimes working for the same people) who want to have their preferred product given more favourable market conditions. Like margarine was once promoted as ‘more healthy’ than butter (Hint; it isn’t). Or Gluten free diets for people without Coeliac Disease leading to an increased risk of heart disease. As with fanatic teetotallers pushing for yet another ban on booze, we’re still living with the consequences of that complete cock-up.

What the failure of all these guidelines should tell us is; a little bit of what you fancy is probably far better for you than stressing over Government guidelines that are based on 1) Wild guesses or 2) Advocacy directed ‘research’. Maybe Governments should stop giving out diet related advice as all they seem to do is get it wrong.