All posts by Bill Sticker

Expatriate observer of life in the UK and British Columbia, Canada. Politically slightly right of centre with a pro libertarian bias. Writes, publishes and now a lot more relaxed about life in general. Is keeping his British accent for tax purposes.

Not your average French Fry

One of the things I’ve been trying to do of late is reduce the amount of carbohydrates (And therefore calories) in our diet whilst retaining variety and taste. To this end, while burrowing around the Internet I found out about the uses of Celeriac or Celery root. At simplest it turns out that you can fry Celeriac like potatoes to make a slightly nutty tasting form of French fry or chips.

Now to look at, Celeriac looks like something dreamed up by a Dr Who scriptwriter with all it’s gnarly tight packed roots and rough skin. You could even be forgiven for thinking it’s some strange sessile alien creature awaiting it’s chance to leap out of the vegetable bin and burrow it’s way into what remains of an unsuspecting cooks brain. But this is not so. This sci-fi looking root vegetable has a firm texture like turnip, without the risk of horror filled school dinner flashbacks caused by mashed Swede or ‘Rutabaga’.

If asked to describe the taste, I’d say it was a mild form of Parsnip with a hint of hazelnut and Crimini mushroom. Actually quite pleasant when you get past the first shock of the unfamiliar, yet definitely superior in flavour and texture to the mouth cloying fries most Canadians are offered in ‘Casual’ dining outlets. There’s no starchiness, and definitely none of that horrible floury aftertaste so many commercially produced French fries leave in the mouth.

Right: Onto the method. Not much to it. Peel Celeriac root and carve off extraneous alien looking tendrils with a knife. Do use a sharp knife unless your vegetable peeling tool is really robust, remembering not to carve off your delicate little pinkies. I refer you to rule 1 of peeling and cutting. Fingers behind the blade edge children. Either that or invest in Bandaid futures.

Once peeled, cut into 12-15mm (About 3/8ths to 1/2 of an inch seems to be optimal) square sections for traditional English style. Put a pint of cooking oil into your oldest and deepest sacrificial saucepan or no more than a third full and put over a medium high heat. Why only a third? It’s very simple, filling less than half your cooking vessel will spare you kitchen fires if you’re called away for five minutes to tell someone on the Interweb that they are categorically in the wrong and you just have to tell them so.

Once your oil goes on the heat, in another pan, boil some salted water and dump your cut Celeriac pieces in. Take off heat immediately you’ve brought them back to the boil and leave for five minutes. Drain Celeriac chip shapes and pat them dry using paper or cloth towels. Check oil temperature periodically by chucking in a tiny piece of Celeriac. If it foams and sizzles immediately, your oil is hot enough for deep frying. If not, patience. All good things come to those who prepare carefully.

When first piece foams and froths in the hot oil, put in as many pieces of cut Celeriac as will fit in one layer floating in the oil and fry for five minutes. Then using a slotted spoon or similar haul them out onto paper towels or into a sieve and wait two minutes for the oil to reheat. Now chuck in the next batch. Follow the same procedure. Let the oil get back up to temperature then put in the first batch again until most frothing and foaming has subsided and the fries are a light browny gold. If you aren’t sure, nick a chip out of the hot oil (Not with your fingers, dimwit!), drain it, dry it off, and when cool enough to eat, taste for desired texture.

At this point it might be a good idea to heat up a serving dish, dry thoroughly and line with paper towels. As each batch of fries becomes ready, drain and decant into this lined bowl or dish to keep them drained and warm. When all batches of fries are done and in the bowl, switch off the stove and serve with Mayonnaise. Or Ketchup. Or Brown Sauce, in fact whatever you want as a dip. Be adventurous. Cook naked if you want (But this blog advises a decent cooks apron, because even a small spot of hot oil on your important little places can really put a painful crimp in the whole experience).

Now serve. Remember, this is a very adult taste, and those under 25 should not bother unless they are as sophisticated as wot you obviously are.

Talking of adventure and I haven’t done this yet, but it’s next on the list; try oven cooking these chips. Instead of deep frying them, after boiling and drying off, roll the cut pieces of Celeriac in a little olive (or any other cooking) oil, dust with dry seasoning of choice, be it salt, salt and pepper, garlic powder, a light sprinkling of curry powder or Chinese five spice, or even a hint (And I do mean only a hint) of Cayenne pepper. Whatever you fancy, but it has to be dry. Then bake, just like you would Oven chips at 220°C/ 425°F for around 30-35 minutes depending on your oven.

Oh yes, a word of warning about Cayenne pepper. Wash hands immediately after handling, just in case you feel the need to rub your eyes. Trust me, you do not want Cayenne in your eyes. Not unless you’re into heavily swollen eyelids and not being able to see properly for a few hours. Cayenne has the same effect as Pepper spray. It stings. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Awww…

Great news. My Tomato plants have started flowering. Awwww… innit pretty.

However, does this mean I’ll have to get the cotton buds out to do some assisted insemination? Just to get some baby Tomatoes to develop?

Oh goodness. Will I personally have to deflower my delicate ickle blossoms? Mmm-hmm. Kinky.

Damn! That’s SEXIST!

But somehow intriguing.

Back to the future

Well, we’re all set for our first odyssey to the fabled land of Oz, where according to some men who work, Where beers flow and men chunder. Flights are booked and paid for, visitor visa’s obtained, hotels booked and confirmed and cars hired. Eldest is taking care of SIM cards for our cell phones, so we’ll be in full comms less than two hours after clearing immigration and customs. So short of some unforeseen disaster or a direct nuclear strike we’ll be down under over Christmas and the New Year. In the case of cancellation we’re insured three ways to breakfast, so any financial losses by cancellation or delay will be minimised. Sometimes all you can do is try to stack the odds in your favour and let the cards fall as they may.

On the topic of cell phones, I sometimes look at all these handy little things that have so many Darwin Award contestants wandering across the road without looking, or getting killed driving while texting and wonder why they’re so fixated. What is it that’s so important they’re willing to court an untimely demise? It’s worth noting that some 16,000 of cell phone related road deaths were recorded in the USA alone between 2001 & 09 (I think – studies differ). In the UK drivers distracted by cell phone (Calls and texting) overtook the kill rate of all other forms of road death back in 2014. Allegedly (It was in the Daily Express). But even if it’s not completely true, that’s a hell of a lot of dead bodies just because dimwits can’t focus on what they should be doing. Specifically, keep their eyes on where the hell they’re going. If it was down to me, I’d set up a law that says if you were using a mobile phone at the time of a fatality causing crash, that should automatically upgrade to a manslaughter charge. But that’s just me. I’ve almost been run off the road many times because some tit behind the wheel simply can’t leave the phone alone. So colour me prejudiced. I don’t want my death certificate to read ‘Death by social media’.

Aslant to that topic, recently I’ve been suffering a bout of nostalgia for my old UK mobile, which even fifteen years after I bought it still does sterling service. As you can see from the picture below, I also have one of those rinky-dinky smartphones. The problem is that one of these devices is not really that much use to me any more. Guess which one it is, go on, have a wild stab. (Although not at me, I’m allergic to the sight of my own blood) Correct! it’s the Samsung Smartphone on the left. Yes it still does wi-fi and bluetooth, but so does my tablet. The main problem appears to be my version of Android. Now according to Samsung’s web site their devices will still support stuff like Whatsapp on Android version 2.3 up to 2020AD. The Samsung on the left has version Android 2.3.3 (and will update no further). Which might lead one to think; “Supported to 2020? Oh, that should be fine.” Only it isn’t. Unfortunately my network (Thanks a bunch Virgin) will not allow any of the new App upgrades like Google Maps and Whattsapp to update any more. So this all singing all dancing mobile phone, once a fully functional piece of kit, barely limps along. Not to mention the battery life being pretty crap. It no longer fulfils the purpose I bought it for and I’m still shelling out CAD$XX every month just for the privilege of connecting to my carriers cell phone network. Without the ability to make international calls, which is one of my chief beefs against Canadian cell phone companies. It’s not that phoning overseas costs, it’s just that my Canadian network block me from calling them altogether. Surely they can make more money if I’m allowed to call one of my overseas contacts like at 50+ cents a minute. Don’t they see that? Although perhaps they can, as an international ‘roaming’ charge is CAD$10 a day. Then they add your metered call costs on top of that. Sounds like a licence to print money.

“Well that’s okay Bill.” you might advise. “Go out and get a new phone contract. There. Fixed it for you. Off you go.” But honestly, as far as I’m concerned, a smart phone’s utility is limited. Especially if you’re prohibited from upgrading the operating system so that certain Apps can run. Yes, there are workarounds, but honestly, it’s a lot of faff for far too little return.

Frankly I’m buggered if I’m going to shell out for a sparkly new mobile phone every three years just so I have a functional means of communication. So the Samsung is going to be replaced by the phone on the right, my basic call and text only Nokia 6310i which plays no music or games yet after 15 years still has a battery standby life of over twelve days and three hours talk time and connects to any GSM network. For email, games, writing notes and general Interwebbery I’ll still have my Android tablet.

As for my new Windows 10 laptop. It’s not that wonderful. For onboard applications the ‘upgrade’ really doesn’t do a lot more than Windows 7, which was a worthy successor to the only other decent Windows platform, Windows 2000. The bundled application software like Windows Movie Maker are still better with Windows 7 than 10. Not sure what Microsoft are up to, but if Windows 10 is their best effort, then I’m distinctly underwhelmed.

Yes, yes, I could have bought a MacBook or iPad, I’ve got the funds, but I’ve never had the urge to be an Apple Fanboy. On the various occasions I’ve walked into an Apple store the customer service has been worse than useless. The only time I got decent service at an Apple store was because a mate was working as Tech Support Manager at that particular franchise. Every other time I’ve tried to attract the attention of an Apple store employee, all I got was a vaguely contemptuous look that said “What’s an old fart like you doing in here?” So I walked right out again. Which makes me wonder if there’s a part of the Apple store interview process that goes; “Are you a narcissistic fuckwit who loves Apple and won’t sell one of our darling devices to an over forty?”
If the answer is “Yes.” Trust me, you’ll be hired. At least if my previous encounters with Apple Store staff are any guide.

Anyway. My old Nokia 6310i. Is it unlocked for any network full size SIM card? Oh yeah. Does it work as a phone? Yep. Bluetooth compatible with my new stereo headphones and relatively new HK250 earpiece? You betcha. Does it pair with my cars satnav / radio / handsfree? Perfectly. Connects to any GSM Network? Dee-fine-ately. I’ve got a tablet, so why on earth would I need one of those new tiny screens to do my emails, notes and other general Interwebbery?

Answers on the back of a plain brown envelope please.

Farcebook rides again

Driving downtown yesterday. Mrs S and I were idly chattering about this and that when she dropped the bombshell that Farcebook have been asking users to send their nude pictures to Farcebook so that they can ‘Police’ the images off their platform. Which statement drew a loud bark of laughter from me. Apparently they want to get rid of ‘revenge porn’. “Are these people serious?” I enquired after my initial ‘WTF’.
“Oh yes.” She chuckled back at me.
“Oh my giddy aunt.” I responded. “That’s going to work, isn’t it?” We shared another laugh.
“Glad I don’t use it any more.” She said.
“I’ve tried to delete mine twice and it still comes back. Bloody thing. Worse than Zombies.” I replied.
“Eldest and Youngest use Whatsapp and Instagram anyway. So they’re not affected by this idiocy.” She said. The last Facebook post we saw from either of them was back when we lived in Nanaimo. And that was over four years ago. Even back in 2011 our family regarded Facebook as somewhat passé.

According to reports a pilot of this scheme is being rolled out in Australia. A ‘send us your nude pics just in case an ex has posted them. We’ll delete them -honestly.’ Then Facebook members of staff get to have their brains fried by overdosing on personal porn or perve off on the quiet because they’ve had ‘special training’ to view the stuff that the algorithms are supposed to dredge up. However, a much more studied perspective exposes the flaws in this plan. Which would tempt anyone with more than two functioning brain cells to express a big Oh. My God.

This is yet another Farcebook PR disaster. Which leaves me soo tempted to short their shares. From where I stand they’re a classic financial bubble in the making because real people are actually leaving the platform, which will ultimately leave it as a half forgotten digital wasteland strewn with diehard digital addicts and ‘bots. What’s that Sooty? Won’t happen? Remember Myspace.com? Oh. Right.

As for posting ‘revenge porn’, I mean seriously? There are even dedicated platforms for that sort of thing. You are more likely to find ‘revenge porn’ posted to Tinder (Which has Spotify and Facebook integration) or Tumblr. I’d argue that only the most Interweb-naive people will use Farcebook for posting any form of porn because it hurts both parties. Why? Because once your bedroom antics are public, there’s no going back. Your, and by the same token their inadequacies, are now subject to public ridicule and multiple reposting. Anything short of physical perfection will rebound on both parties. As a matter of interest, a quick pootle around many dedicated porn sites (The things we must do, eh?) will turn up Facebook and Twitter integration buttons. As well as huge archives of amateur porn pics and pictures. Which aren’t on Farcebook, so Farcebook can’t delete them.

Anyway. That discussion concluded, we turned right from Blanshard into View Street, noting that all the fancy painted pedestrian crossings at that intersection had been dug up after less than a year. No doubt more taxpayer dollars will be wasted there and on Victoria’s network of seldom-used bicycle lanes. Not that a lot of bicycle users know how to use them properly. Or that the fancy painting does anything to improve pedestrian safety or driver awareness.

Hey-ho. No skin off my nose. We don’t need to go downtown more than twice a month anyway. Like with Facebook, there’s not much of interest to us down there.

By bread alone

Man does not not live by bread alone. At least goes the biblical quote from Matthew 4:4. Which is kind of the introduction into a matter of diet. Mrs S and I have given up bread. And rice, pasta, flour, noodles and potatoes.

So apparently have brother and sister in law in the fabled land of Oz. Like us they’ve given up on chocolate and sugar entirely. Which some might find a little extreme, but honestly chums, I feel much better for it. Now you might be forgiven for thinking this expensive, but considering the price of bread over here, the cost of two reasonable quality loaves buys a pound and a half of steak once a week. The elimination of chocolate, sugar and other candy pays for more fish like Salmon, which is almost a basic staple over here. And of course there’s room in the budget for more bacon. Especially as I’ve found a decent butcher in our locale who actually knows their meats. They do four (Thank you God) varieties of proper dry cured bacon although I eschew the sugar maple cured stuff.

For her part Mrs S is eating more full fat yoghurt rather than that awful low-fat garbage with the strange aftertaste, and I’ve even taken a liking to garlic stir fried Taiwanese Cabbage of all things. Indeed our consumption of low carbohydrate vegetables has more than doubled. Which pleases Mrs S because she harbours the idea that vegetarianism is somehow virtuous. Odd how a lot of women feel this way. I of course, choose to differ. Meat is my métier.

Essentially what we’ve done is cut all the fattening starch and stodge out of our diets. Which does lead to a few strange looks from waiting staff when we go out for lunch and stipulate no fries or potato and definitely no bread. However, a good steak with buttered Asparagus is always a sound choice. We snack on Hickory smoked Almonds instead of popcorn or sweets when we rent or go and see a movie. I’ve even got to the point where I can easily out-stare a large bar of Cadbury’s Dairy milk fruit and nut without a single pang.

One issue I’ve been struggling with is sauces. So many require a roux of flour and water as a thickener, I’d almost given up hope of tasting the delights of a good thick gravy like substitute. And I do love lovely thick British style gravy. Fortunately, the jolly old interweb has ridden to the rescue to provide the outline recipe for a remoulade Cajun sauce. Which I have since refined to the recipe below.

A quarter of a large Red Pepper (Fresh Red cabbage can be substituted if no peppers)
Half a stalk of Celery
One Green (Spring) Onion
A quarter cup of fresh Parsley (Not dried)
Half a cup of full on Mayonnaise
Half a cup of full fat Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche (Creme Fraiche is best)
Two heaped teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
Two heaped teaspoons of Horseradish
A shake or two of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
A shake or two of Tabasco
Two heaped teaspoons of Paprika
Four heaped teaspoons of crushed Tomatoes or two medium size tomatoes
A third of a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper

Throw it all in a blender and puree until relatively smooth. It will come out pink, but this is good stuff which warms the mouth without setting it ablaze. Serve hot or cold. Just don’t boil it on the reheat. If you’ve gone down the red cabbage route, this sauce develops a fresh crunchy texture that never tires.

To serve, put a small amount in a side dish bowl, something about three or four inches across for immediate use at the table. Heat it in the microwave if you like. Stick the rest in the fridge or freezer. This sauce keeps. If it lasts that long. It also survives being repeatedly thawed and heated, even in a microwave. Goes pretty well with Steak, Chicken, Pork or Fish. Which is nice. It’s an all rounder with plenty of roundness and flavour.

Haven’t tried it with poached eggs, but I’ve found a quick and easy way to make fresh Hollandaise which is wonderfully buttery and mouthwateringly moreish over Asparagus. Then there’s the delight of French style omelettes, which kick the dessicated flat North American type into touch.  See Below.

Yes the dropping of starch and sugar has been challenging from a cooks perspective, but I don’t miss the rice, potatoes or starch and my waistline is thanking me for it. As for the substitute for cornstarch for a roux, I’ve been experimenting with Psyllium Husk powder, although so far some of the results have been disturbingly motile.

Will report back on this topic once I’ve cracked the method.

TTFN.

It’s okay

…To be ‘White’. Or ‘Asian’ (Indian, Chinese or variants thereof, whatever) or ‘Black’ (all the many shades) or simply a man or a woman or whatever in between. Honestly, if anyone can be bothered to ask, I belong to the it’s ‘okay to be a biped hominid’ faction. Which is a pretty broad church.

What it’s not okay to be is an arsehole. Indeed, all leftist Social Activists are definitively arseholes because they’re the ones saying you can’t be friends, or at least cordial acquaintances with people not of your skin colour or sex. They’re the ones stirring up all the race hate and sexual paranoia because they want to keep the minorities (And many women) on de ol’ plantation a-votin for de ol’ lefty massa. Just like LBJ’s infamous quote about keeping a certain section of the population voting Democrat. Not that I’ve got time for the extreme right either but come on guys this is so transparent it’s made of glass. Badly made distorting glass, but glass nonetheless.

However, the epic trolling of SJW’s on an Alberta college campus recently has made some of those noisy lefty heads explode with the ‘it’s okay to be white’ meme. And it’s an obvious meme (Definition 2), a gag, a practical joke, a complete piss take on racist ‘diversity’ politics. Because the authors of the meme understand that ‘diversity’ identity politics isn’t diverse at all. Indeed it’s divisive and poisonous. Identity politics seeks to play favourites by saying; “If you are A then you must be hated by B because of X, therefore A is bad. Let us help you hate them, even though we are actually A.” Even if X was over a long, long time ago and the ghosts of grudges had settled down, raised kids, retired, died and been Requiescat in pace for a number of years. The current tranche of such grudges are revenants of zombies that should have been laid to rest years ago. However, without them the activists wouldn’t have anything to do, poor lambs.

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Which is proven because proponents of ‘diverse’ identity politics just lurrve to dig up ancient grudges and hang them on the fence, then use the resulting mistrust to generate support and ride those coat tails to political power. Which is all they really want. Power to bring about their utopian nightmares, as all utopias become because they are a narrow clique’s dream, not anyone else’s. Like the religious freaks from various ‘Churches’ who turn up on doorsteps. They too peddle their own utopian visions and are, like the political activists, not to be trusted.

As a note for reference I always apply this simple rule; if it has to be peddled door to door, it ain’t worth the price. The Claymore mines, Punji sticks, man traps and moat of hungry crocodiles in the front yard Chez Sticker should be seen as part of my customer-don’t-bloody-care-pal-sod-off service to such people. Although of course these are automatically disarmed for deliveries and welcome guests. The rest have to run that gauntlet then face the ‘No Soliciting’ sign on the door which dares them to sully my doorbell and face my well-honed sarcasm.

While we’re on that topic, another target for sarcasm is Martha Lane-Fox, late of lastminute.com (Hint; Tripadvisor or Expedia are much better), now the House of Lords. How by the moonlit glow of Satan’s left testicle did she get there? According to The Register she wants all reputable web sites to wear some sort of virtue-signalling ‘Fair’ badge. I can reassure my last remaining reader that this blog will not be falling in line. Apparently Ms Lane-Fox is one of those miffed about Pepe the Frog memes. Fortunately we were able to contact Pepe for comment on this issue, and although not a big talker, his sotto voce response to Ms Fox and those who get their panties in a bunch over him can be viewed here.

What this blog would like to offer as an alternative to the divisiveness of SJW’s is this; Be whoever you are. It’s okay. It’s fine. No worries. Relax. Life is too short for their crap. Fancy a beer? You’re paying.

All quiet

….at least on this Western front. We’ve had a little more light snow, but nothing to interfere with tomorrow’s trip up to the mid island. A bit more snow. No hordes downtown ‘screaming at the sky’ (Why bother, we’re Canadian, eh?) to mark Trumps election a year ago today, and certainly no raised voices in our neighbourhood. In fact the only shouting we came across was on the way back up Douglas Street when two Darwin Award applicants decided to have a row right in the middle of the main drag. So really, nothing to write home about.

The interesting stuff is happening in Saudi Arabia. Dozens of arrests on corruption and money laundering charges. Announcements that women will be allowed to drive (Sorry officer, didn’t know I was speeding, me Hijab got in the way) and a number of other overdue reforms. In addition to the reported grounding of certain Princes private planes. Well that’ll hit the takings in certain European Casinos. Don’t know much about the new 2030 agenda, but I’ll be researching that when we’re back from the mid-island this evening. What larks eh?

What else? The Madrid Government continues to mishandle the Catalan Independence affair by throwing people in jail. Same old same old. But hang on a minute! Whats’ this? Our tickets and visas to the fabled land of Oz just landed on our doorstep. Mrs S has just taken possession of a bright sparkly brand new phone. Hooray! And there’s another bit of news. As of 1st December, all cell phones in BC have to be sold unlocked from their carrier. Well, it’s rather a weekend for turning up of books.

Makes a nice change.

A fall in Autumn

We’ve got snow on the deck! What the hell, this is sunny Victoria, we’re not meant to get snow until January! We’re still in Autumn for heavens sake! Looks a bit strange with the leaves still on the trees. See above picture of deck at 7:30am today. Damn. I may have to call Nanook of the North. And he charges like a bad tempered Rhino on LSD.

No seriously, nothing to see here move along, it’s just weather and part of the normal cycle of things here in the sunny south west tip of Canada. Every so often we get the odd fall of snow. Which is why we have Winter sports locations like Mt Washington in the mid island. Here’s the current state of the Tube run via webcam. Which is getting a huge inflated inner tube, dragging it to the top of a snowy slope and sliding in it all the way to the bottom and then some. Which is fun for non-skiers like me and works out way cheaper than getting all the kit and only using it once a year. According to reports Mt Washington had no snow last night, but I can tell them where it ended up if they’d care to collect. I had an inkling that we were due for a long cold Winter after the long and hot Summer we’ve just had. Simply because one usually follows the other. And no computer models needed consulting. They only get it wrong anyway.

No skin off my nose because our little SUV is kitted out and ready with all wheel drive and all weather tyres, and we’re on a main bus route which gets the snowplough first and regular clearings throughout the day and night. The downside of which means I may have to get out and go dig an exit through the icy berm they always leave in front of our drive. Or I could stay home today and stand in the front room with a nice hot cup of coffee admiring the view. (Pops into front room for a look – returns) No, no berm and the roads are clear. Well that’s saved me a job, and Nanook’s callout charges.

Our propane stove is now lit and pumping out all that healthy CO2 and a good tranche of heat. Which will prove a saving on our electrickery bills. Which can get astronomical because idiot politicians think that wind and solar power can replace even a few fossil fuel power stations. Or that an atmospheric trace gas affects climate in the long term manner they claim. Or that we don’t know that the CO2=climate is bad science being used to support one of the biggest wealth transfer schemes of all time. Fossil fuel stations we don’t use much because most of Canada’s electric power is Hydro based. Compared with other nations our use of fossil fuel and nuclear is tiny. To replace even one large power plant with wind power you’d have to cut down huge tranches of forest, at least in BC because what we do have is trees. Lots of them. Hundreds of thousands of square miles of trees. Just over 20% or the worlds boreal forests in fact. Cut down those to put up inefficient sources of electricity? I console myself thus; at least the trees can be replanted and grow back when this idiotic flirtation with retrograde technology is over.

So what’s going on in the big wide world? It the FT I see Gas (petrol) prices will rise because the Saudi’s are closing the spigot. Which may help the current misery of the Venezuelans, or maybe not. Maduro has big debts to pay before the extra oil money can trickle down into the rest of Venezuelan economy. Me, I think he’s cocked up big time and the country will be bankrupted before he’s finished. Despite their oil reserves. Up here Trudeau is losing popularity because he keeps on hitting working Canadians in their bank accounts and blocking pipelines while wittering on about how unfair it is about girls not being allowed to play in the big wide world. Which isn’t true by the way. Women can do just as well in commerce as men if they’re willing to pay the same price. George Soros is dying (I’ve seen recent pictures – no one looks like that and lives for long), which I think he knows, so has pushed USD$18 billion into his network of politically meddling non-profits. Just so he can go screwing up economies from beyond the grave. That Trump chap is motivating idiots to go and ‘scream at the sky’ on the 4th November because he won an election. One of them screams at me, I’ll simply laugh in their face and walk away. However, he doesn’t seem to let all the hit pieces and political sabotage get to him, he’s just doing what he said he would. And you have to admire someone like that, even if you don’t totally agree with them.

Update: Tesla shares drop over 5% with the potential end of US subsidies for EV’s.  Oh well, that’s that.  More EV’s for museum exhibits.

Amo amas amat it again

Sorry about the old Latin gag as a headline, but yes, they’re all at it. Now the UK Labour party rediscovers it’s inner sex beast (Post-Prescott) and all the puritans are kicking down the doors just in case anyone should be having any fun whatsoever. Whilst those of us in the crowd behind them are quietly chortling at the hypocrisy. From all sides.

As any Victorian-era (Or Greek, Roman, whatever) pleb could tell you, there’s nothing quite like a good political sex scandal or public execution to lighten the working week. Just to know there’s some other poor bugger getting it in the neck for their transgressions and not you. This is a universal constant in all human activity because at the core all humans know they are randy, venal, lazy, self centred little opportunists and xenophobes. On a sliding scale. Which, I might add, are excellent survival traits and nothing to be ashamed of. All else, I would argue, is a cultural veneer. The gilding of humanities base metal. A trick of insight. Gosh is that my cynicism again? Shirley Knott. Wondered where I’d put it.

For example; Someone might think they’re a ‘nice’ person, second only to St Francis of Assisi but really they’re not. The ‘niceness’ always has a few holes through which the corrosive core of their real selves may be glimpsed, and morality is a malleable concept anyway. Wanton nethers know no conscience, no matter who you are. Ergo Gods have feet of clay. Heroes are flawed. Politicians are corrupted. Saints are made of plaster. So why does everyone act so surprised when these scandals come to light?

So where is this moral ambiguity most visible? One could point to many occurrences. Twatter ‘hate mobs’ for example, who in their desperation to prove what ‘good’ people they are (Sorry, can’t help laughing at that) by going after people they disapprove of, or who have the guts to call a spade a wood handled digging implement.  With the result that these mobs try to strip the object of their disapproval of their normal societal protections and ruin lives in the process. Could that be called ‘good’ or ‘moral’? Of course not. Self-righteousness is never good. Except of course to those who indulge in it. I see it as just another form of bloodless Fox Hunt. The hate mobs sharing that vicarious thrill of chasing down and destroying something which is not them. They’re not guilty of course. No matter how many lives they ruin, or how many people they force out of employment just because they disagree with the mob.

In that vein, the Weinstein Hollywood sex scandal (and others), whilst not much of a surprise, continue to unravel as layers of Non disclosure agreements start to crack. People who agreed to keep their mouths shut for a large sum of money over the years are now looking at their Non Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) and thinking “How can a Non disclosure agreement be legal if it covers up a crime?” Which is an excellent question, and one I and many others would like to see answered. If a murderer got his victims family to sign on the dotted to say nothing after one of their own had been killed, I’m sure that if it ever came to light the courts would not find in favour of the transgressor, or would they? Same for rape, or fraud, or anything else which the law says is wrong. Surely such gagging orders verge on legal malpractice?

As far as I’m aware, NDA’s are business contract clauses meant to protect business information, like recipe’s, processes and patents. Their use as ‘gagging’ orders, particularly to protect wrongdoing, either in commercial or personal affairs, is from what I’ve been able to ascertain, a very grey area of the law. I’ve even gone so far as to put the question to our families legal eagle. She deals with NDA’s all the time and will be able to give me a more informed legal opinion.

All the above notwithstanding, today’s tasks are tidying up the last details of our trip to the fabled land of Oz this Christmas. Yes, and as you can see in the picture, my tomato plants are doing very nicely thank you. After we get back from Oz in mid January I’m thinking of starting an indoor Herb garden to add to my perennials outdoors. Dill, Basil, Oregano, that sort of thing. In the meantime I can be easily located by following the peals of merry laughter as the mighty tumble. Sterling is regaining value too. So for the moment we’re all smiles here at Maison Sticker.

All Hallows Eve

Oh Gawd, it’s Halloween again. A.k.a All souls / all Hallows, Hallowmas / day of the dead (For Mexican Christians). The net effect of which here in the not so frozen north is children and teens begging for candy at the door and more work for your local dental surgeon five years down the line. Not to mention the additional risk of Diabetes in later life. This doorstep begging for candy element is the American gentrification of the ancient Celtic fire festival of Samhain. Which literally means ‘Summers end’ or ‘end of the warm season’. Which is a kind of prehistoric harvest festival. Not the bizarre cultish melange of marketing spinoffs it has become. At least in suburban Canada and North America.

Halloween was more of a fun thing when I was in my teens, bonfire jumping, bobbing for apples, drinking too much and letting the local girls laugh at us. The Harvest Festival formed the churchy side of things which some people went to, but mostly under duress from their more religiously minded parents. Yes, we disturbed the peace sometimes, but most of our antics went unnoticed because apart from the odd self inflicted minor burn or bruise we caused no harm. It was just an excuse for the local lads to party. No zombies, skulls, monsters, or pumpkins. In that era only posh kids did pumpkins, we made do with turnips or just a candle stub, if that. No goth makeup, just us. I think the consensus was that all the dressing up was for kids, and those adults who got invited to the better sort of party. Or those adults who got invited to what were then called ‘wife swapping’ parties, where clothing rapidly became optional. Which reminds me of lots of old and very politically incorrect jokes. We weren’t allowed skulls though. No idea why. You only got a skull if your dad was a doctor and didn’t mind bits of his anatomical skeleton going missing once a year. Our local vicar could get a bit shirty about graveyard shenanigans too, but he was very old school and tended to set his Dogs (He bred English Mastiffs) on such late night invasions of consecrated ground.

As for the North American version of the festival of All Souls, I find it rather dull, saccharine and not a little nerdy, like a dressing up party for six year olds. Lots of pretending to enjoy yourself and sugar fuelled hyperactivity, but not much else. Like having the show without the substance. Wot, no human sacrifices? Well that’s no fun.

Anyway, Summer here in BC has fled, the Maples are a glorious riot of colour (at least until the next windstorm), our propane tank is now full and we’ve set the heater on full blast to dry the house out and ensure we don’t get any issues with black mould like we had when we moved in. Black mould being the minor downside of living in a temperate rainforest zone. It’s a problem in poorly heated and ventilated properties where damp has been allowed to seep in, either by condensation or osmosis. Or the heating kept too low with too many sources of moisture (like people) indoors. It’s also a potential health hazard. Nasty stuff. I nuke it with a heavy duty mould killer if ever a trace is detected in our household.

Honestly folks, it’s worse than the local zombies. But spraying them is rather frowned upon in polite society. No matter how tempting it might seem to sanitise the afflicted who arrive on your doorstep demanding sweets. No idea why, but when you get out the anti-undead spray (Kills 99% of all known Witches, Zombies, Ghouls and Phantoms), people, especially their parents, get so easily upset.

 

Update: I’ve just remembered another quaint little rural custom that happens in quiet unregarded backwaters of the UK.  The ‘Wild’ or ‘Woden’s’ hunt or chase which is basically a lot of drunken hoorays out for the weekend running around with lit torches in the dark, shouting and screaming.  Rarely witnessed, it normally happened (happens) on the grounds of large private estates, away from prying eyes.  I’m told clothing is optional and sex is usually involved.  Never heard of it happening on a rainy night though.