Category Archives: Family

Polly wanna cracker

I’ve got the house to myself at present. Mrs S has gone up island with her sisters and I can wind down a little. Three sisters with all the decades old interplay of personal baggage of all siblings could be compared to babysitting an erratically ticking emotion bomb. You don’t know how long the fuse is and the bloody thing stops counting down and resets every so often, so there are respites. However, this does not make me feel comfortable. Outnumbered yes, comfortable, no. If ever I enter a walking on eggshells competition, I’ll be in the top five.

Anyway, Mrs S and second sister, visiting from the fabled land of Oz, who I think is actually scared of l’il old me (No idea why- I’m an amiable old bear in real life), will be back next Sunday, whereupon I will treat them to some nice lamb chops for Sunday supper. Which will be nice. Mint sauce being something we don’t get to use that often. However, there will only be three of us, which is easier to cope with. Both on an interpersonal and catering basis. Sister in law from up island is notoriously picky in matters of diet. Which has put the kitchen chez sticker under significant pressure, but the cook has coped. Only one minor hitch when they told me to have a meal ready for six thirty and didn’t roll up until well over an hour later. To which I intoned to Mrs S when she phoned to tell me they were going to be late, an hour after I’d begun cooking. “Yer dinner’ll be in the dog. Or it would be if we still had one.”

On to this posts title. One thing bothering me recently, amongst many others is why a ‘carbon tax’ is being levied all over the planet? The UK is having one imposed by Treason May and her coterie of remainers in the case of a ‘no-deal’ BREXIT, we’ve got a Federal carbon tax pushed on us by Trudeaupe in Canada and attempts elsewhere are going on to a background of the parroted line that *Insert country name here “is warming twice as fast as anywhere else”. Right, how can one place ‘warm twice as fast as everywhere else’ if everywhere on the planet is making the same claim? If, as Trudeaupe claims that Canada is warming twice as fast as anywhere on Earth and the Chinese premier makes the same claim about China, who is telling who the truth? The Chinese premier or Trudeaupe? Or is someone else right? Perhaps the leaders of the first(?) world all turned into parrots? They all sound a lot like “Gwaaarrkk! Polly wanna carbon tax!” What is going on?

Unfortunately for the Federal Liberals, no-one with two fully functioning brain cells believes this widely parroted fiction any more. The political compass is swinging firmly to the right of the political spectrum, conservatives winning first the provinces of Ontario and Quebec then Alberta, and latterly PEI (Marginally). Carbon Dioxide is not at the root of an ever-changing global climate. From a deeper delve into the data I’d say it’s a bit part player at best. Indeed, some serious thinkers have calculated that the ‘warming signal’ of CO2 is completely swamped by ocean evaporation and rainfall. Considering that all the models have failed to reflect reality, that has the highest probability of being true.

As for all this garbage about ‘man made’ climate change or ‘Saving the planet’ you know, it’s funny how the biggest mouthpieces bullshitting about such causes own lavish beach properties and holiday on private islands. If you thought there were going to be massive rises in sea level like they’re always telling us because all the ice is melting, why are they so all-fired keen to live so close to the waters edge? These people talk about ‘science’ but I don’t think these mouthpieces have a clue about what real science entails. They just parrot what they’re told, or what their febrile self loathing demands they say, then get in the politicians faces. From there everything goes into groupthink mode and the politicians end up ripping off the taxpayer, which is what carbon tax is. A complete rip off. There is no reason for a ‘Carbon tax’ apart from to take money out of the ordinary taxpayers back pocket and give it to the politicians favoured cause. That and massively increase the cost of living for billions. Squeezing the productive until the whole system goes haywire, because those pushing the ‘we’re all doomed’ narrative don’t have a clue about economics or atmospheric physics. But seeing as they’re part of the scam machine, they won’t go hungry. All they have to do is keep parroting the same old lies.

Which I’d start being worried about if I were a parrot. These carbon tax pundits might put me out of a job.

“Gwaaarrkk! Polly wanna cracker! Showusyerknickers!”

Oh stuff it. The deck garden is doing well, especially the Pansies. My Lemon Plants are fine and the four Grapefruit seedlings are each almost two inches tall. In other news, it looks like Venezuela could be ditching a bad idea. Good for them. They need a break.

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Green shoots

Or as a celebrity gardener was heard to shout as he did a charity parachute jump; “Geraniums!” Bit of a windstorm this morning. Which meant winds of up to sixty miles per hour rattling the eaves. It was that kind of a Saturday. As for the deck garden, despite all the wind, little green shoots are popping up everywhere. And like all plants, they all seem to look the same, rather like most babies look like they’re doing Winston Churchill impersonations. They’re all two tiny oval leaves on top of a needle thin stem.

Spring cleaning this weekend. Bathrooms first, followed by bedrooms, both our offices and the main lounge. This is the first run through as Mrs S’s middle sister arrives from the fabled land of Oz in the last week of April. Youngest sister will be descending upon us from up island. Outnumbered and out-gunned, I shall be keeping my head down, as three sisters together may be a little more than my delicate nerves can stand. God knows my own side of the clan can be enough hard work. But I ration my time with them and an afternoon every two years is more than enough. There’s a lifetime of deferred conversations out there which I don’t think anyone has the courage to address. However, I’ve already made my peace with those I could and the rest will have to miss out. Such is life.

Wife’s sisters will be coming and going for three whole weeks. All this and I’m paying my tax bill on Tuesday. Lord have mercy on my pathetic raddled soul.

On the upside, the mainstream media, who once thought our foppish PM could do no wrong, are turning against him. For example, the cover of Macleans, one of Canada’s top magazines, had him on the front cover with the title “Imposter!” emblazoned in large unfriendly letters and his polling numbers are in the tank. Live by the media, die by the media. Forgive me for sniggering quietly to myself. Or not.

There is an old saying…

… that “it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” First coined by an author called Maurice Switzer, not Mark Twain or Franz Kafka. However, according to my loyal team of word jugglers and Thesauri hunting Igors this saying has roots that go back to the Old Testament (Proverbs 15:2 & Solomon 17:28).

Sunday was a very strange day which had Mrs S and I wondering aloud why we actually bother sometimes.

First we went to have lunch with an old family friend to find that enough marbles have rattled out to God knows where to the point that our lunch out didn’t happen. Despite having confirmed our time of arrival over the phone the night before, old family friend had forgotten all about us and buggered off to lunch with someone else without a bye, leave or thank you. So we slipped off and purchased a coffee and cookie type of snack without her. Mrs S was visibly upset as she has known old family friend since she was ten and we have always considered friend as part of our extended family. Yet the person we met today was showing definite signs of cognitive decline, forgetting names, relationships and other things we’ve had in common for years. For my own part I was halfway expecting this, and had steeled myself mentally for the encounter. Many people forget things, but they don’t often repeat themselves four times in a twenty minute conversation. Not unless they’re trying to sell you something.

After that we dropped by at sister in law’s place where the aforementioned proverb was well and truly put through the axiom tester. Brother in law was in full remainer rant mode over BREXIT wanting the overthrow of parliament and the abandonment of democracy. When I politely enquired about what he would put in the place of the UK’s Parliament, he said he didn’t care. If he couldn’t have his way to stay in the slave-state of the European Union, the baby had to be thrown out with the bathwater and fuck the consequences. This is an allegedly educated man with no job and a Bachelor’s degree. Old thickie me, who has two jobs and no degree, begs to differ. I think the benefits of the undemocratic EU superstate have been massively oversold and it’s on the way out. Notwithstanding, we made our excuses and left.

We’re back at home now and Mrs S is soothing her ruffled feathers with a large glass of red and a couple of episodes of CSI, season twelve on Amazon Prime. For my part, having heard his irrational remainer arguments, I need a bloody good shower and need to scrub my skin clean from the inside.

Trying to look on the bright side, a few more seedlings have broken surface in our deck garden and will be providing us with fresh flowers, herbs and vegetables throughout Summer and well into Autumn, before we head on over to jolly old Londinium to see what all the fuss is about.

Oh well, the working week beckons and I need a serious drink.

Power

There is no such thing as power without responsibility. Well you can try, but it always ends in tears. Even when you don’t there are winners and losers. Let me enlarge…

Over the last three weeks we have been busily involved in exercising our legal powers as powers of attorney on behalf of an old family friend. Emphasis on the ‘old’. We’re talking upper nineties here.

Recently our very good friend became ill. For twelve long hours she lingered at death’s door, or should I say dithered indecisively before deciding to stay with what she knew. Which annoyed some people, but less about them later.

Upon hearing the news, we thundered up the Island highway. Made sure all was under control at the hospital, obtained reports, discussed issues with medical staff and care home manager. Then we thundered back down home getting back late and very tired. Daily phone calls to hospital and relatives ensued while juggling new work issues. A disinterested and cynical reader might think we were being a bit over the top, but we reckon we owe our elderly friend a debt of gratitude for the help that she and her late husband gave us when we first landed. That is a debt I will not consider paid until she is gone and her estate settled.

What didn’t help was Hospital staff and Doctors often giving conflicting information. On one occasion within an hour of each other. On the third day one refused to give us any details over the phone because we “Weren’t on the list” which we bloody well most certainly were. Top of the list of contacts as legally registered powers of attorney if you please.

In the middle of this muddle our friend was blithely and obviously non compos mentis so we held all the aces. A terse conversation with hospital administration was had. Apologies were received. “Oops, sorry, that was on another screen.” Yeah, right. A full report was forthcoming. Necessary people were notified and informed, arrangements made, through which our old friend glided sedately as a Swan, while we and others were doing a lot of desperate paddling underneath. Which made some people, how shall I put this delicately, a little defensive.

Let me explain. A lot of West Coast Canadians hate confrontation to the point where it’s almost comic. They cannot negotiate like a European or our Southern cousins will. They either duck the issue and pass the buck like nobody’s business or get all whiny and passive-aggressive. For our part Mrs S and I handle confrontations without all the circumlocution and squirming West Coasters so often go in for. To us a spade is a spade, you use them to dig holes. Or hit people who won’t give you a straight answer. As people we are often direct, concise and to the point. Which makes us unpopular but what the hell. Did I say West coasters hate confrontation? The passive-aggression we occasionally meet is easily deflected by a flash of legal powers. The opposition might know their ‘rights’ but unfortunately for them, so do we.

Notwithstanding, another trip up and down the highway with a two night stay was booked so we could be there for our friends release from hospital into her residential home at the weekend. Then a phone call from the Care Home Manager. Why not from the Hospital? We’re the powers of Attorney, not him. She’s being sent home when? Today? Hells bells! Thanks for letting us know, you utter tossers. Change of booking. Thunder up Island highway again. Negotiate care instructions and agree with fortunately co-operative Manager of Residential home where elderly friend is resident. At least he appreciated our no-nonsense approach.

I’ll say this for this particular care home, it’s very nice, more like an upmarket hotel for Seniors than a UK pattern care facility. Elderly friend’s apartment is compact but more of a studio apartment plus bedroom. It’s roomier too with a full en-suite bathroom. The facility also has it’s own care unit for the less able, which is where elderly friend stayed until she retrieved all her marbles and got reassessed so she can go back to living more independently.

Additional problems arose when a couple of ‘relatives’ decided to turn up out of the blue and foist themselves on our elderly friend. Eating her food, using her facilities, which we, as her powers of attorney thought was a bit of a nerve. Especially when other family members far closer than we would not put them up. Which I found a little odd. When we asked why, no-one wanted to deal honestly. Mrs S and I found it quite comic listening to someone literally squirming on the other end of a phone line. Obviously no love lost there. It was a pity they couldn’t just be honest with us. “No, they’re an utter pain we don’t want as a house guest.” Would have been quite acceptable as a response, but no, we had to listen to fifteen minutes of ever more elaborate excuses. They had their own lives and wanted someone else to make the hard calls while the vultures descended.

My attitude to the vultures is simple; visit by all means, but pay your own way please. Elderly friend gets charged for having guests in her apartment, which even we as her legal guardians are refused access to. Another set of terse phone conversations were had with the care home. Veiled statements of legal intent were issued. Instructions were reiterated. If elderly friends recovery is threatened by these people, out they bloody well go. Do not pass go, do not dip your hand into her wallet. Elderly friend is supposed to be resting after a very life threatening illness, not in need of ‘cheering up’ or ‘taking out of herself’ by mindlessly well-intentioned freeloaders with their piggy little eyes on our old friends money. Have the common decency to wait until she’s dead, you greedy bastards.

That’s one thing about our part of the Sticker clan is our fierce loyalty to close friends. We look after our own and we like our friends alive thank you very much. Now sod off.

I’m a tourist get me out of here part two

Packing today. The litany of lists and suitcases with a smidgeon of “Why the hell do we need to pack that?” Thrown in. Trying to get our single suitcase down to below the 23kg airline limit. This is not an easy task and requires a few sacrifices. Fortunately we’re going premium economy most of the way which means slightly looser baggage allowances. We might also invest in a small to medium suitcase for Mrs S, despite my misgivings after she tried to shift a bag that was way too heavy for her in Paris and ended up breaking her wrist.

We’ve only a few days to go before we step onto the plane headed east and I’m starting to have strong misgivings about the ‘family’ part of the trip. Phone calls to relatives have not exactly been encouraging. Indeed I feel they were a bit ‘off’ with me. There’s no apparent enthusiasm for any meeting and even a whiff of burned bridges in the air. Well this was what I was going to find out but all the clues so far are not that positive, so this looks like being a one time thing for me. As I’ve written about previously. We live and we learn, eh?

Otherwise, we’re just living out of the fridge and making sure there are no leftovers that have been left alone so long that they have spawned strange new lifeforms and evolved into tiny, highly specialised civilisations. Then there’s the final cleaning so we come back to a sweet smelling and comfortable apartment.

Frankly, I’ll be happier when next week is over.

Friends, Countrymen, whatever…

I write not to criticise but to praise. Saturday afternoon I was sitting in my office writing when Mrs S drew my attention to an email she had just received full of ‘Awesome’ and other superlatives commending her for a job well done. My good lady seemed somewhat stunned and cynical about the missive, automatically believing the sentiments contained to be a piss-take. Well, we are both British born, it kind of goes with the territory. “Can you read this Bill?” She said, handing over her iPad.
“It’s a bit OTT.” I remarked after a short perusal. “But accurate. You are officially awesome.” I gave her the tablet back.
“I find that hard to believe.” She rejoindered. We continued the conversation as she went into her bathroom.
“You shouldn’t. I know how good you are. Even when you were just one of the thousands working the teaching chalkface you were remarkable.” I pointed out, getting up to stand in the bathroom doorway as she washed her hands. “You forget, I saw the stats on your kids. I saw how you could get them up two grades and more in just one term. Even children others couldn’t be bothered with.”
“Well I’ve never thought of myself as more than ordinary.”
“But you are. Extraordinary.” I persisted. “Hell, I was just your backup when you were working ten hours a day at your job and then another eight having to requalify for your BC teachers permit back in 2010. I just kept you fed and watered.”
“You did more than that Bill, you kept me sane. You took the calls. Took care of business. Gave me a hug when I needed it. Did all my tech support.”
“Ach!” I protested. “That was just routine stuff.”
“But I still don’t think I’m anything but ordinary.”
“Rubbish!” I retorted. “You are so much more than that. I knew before we married how remarkable you are.”
“I’ve never thought of myself that way.”
“Well I have always thought of you that way.” I reiterated. “You’re better than you know. It’s blindingly obvious to me and I’m no genius..”
“Oh, Bill.” She said.
I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her close. “Look. You know I’d literally take a bullet for you. And the girls. What a great job you did with them. Look how they’ve turned out.”
“Yes, but you helped give them continuity.” She still won’t look me in the eyes until I make the effort to look right down into her face. I swear even then she tries to avoid my gaze. She’s embarrassed by the attention. My best girl has a terminal case of acute modesty.
“All right.” I concede. “We’re both a bit special. I’ve known that since the day that van driver tried to wipe me out on the Swindon Road and I didn’t even drop my bike.”
“Then that guy who…”
I pull her closer. “Enough.” I let her pull back and let her go. If she wants to list my misguided good deeds we’ll be here all week. Okay, I’m a bit of a Boy Scout, so sue me.
“I still don’t know how to answer that email.” She says.
“How about a simple thank you?” I suggest. “If it’s genuine, no one will mind.”
“Okay.” She disappears back to her office. There is a brief rattle of keys and an intake of breath as she hits ‘send’.

Half an hour later she gets a reply and all is well. Even so, such exaggerated praise does not sit well with her. At supper she seems distracted, out of sorts. Her inner world-view has obviously clipped the kerb. I know why this is. She thinks that whenever someone is that effusive it makes her wonder if she’s being set up for a fall. The fact that just occasionally they’re not adherents of Niccolo Machiavelli often comes as a shock to her belief system.

But I will repeat myself. My wife is an incredible woman. One who does an immense amount of good in her working life, every day. She also drives me nuts on a daily basis but she’s someone I couldn’t live without. I know how good she is and to me that’s all that counts. A thoughtful man should always praise his woman and be thankful for her to whatever deity happens to be his choice. Because a little gratitude in a relationship goes a long, long way. If I’ve managed to teach our two reprobates that simple lesson I can die happy.

P.S. The Lemon Tree seedlings are doing well.

On being an Expat

Apropos yesterdays post. Another in-car conversation on life, the Universe and everything found Mrs S and I discussing our lives. Why we keep so few real friends, which is more an act of personal preference than anything else. Neither of us have ever been manic socialisers. Although we are decent enough folk, well, we like to think so, we find that there’s little point getting involved as everyone else has stuff to do and so have we. So dinner parties are rare events as neither of us is that keen on small talk and always find ourselves at odds with some of the regurgitated media talking points certain people call their opinions.

There are sayings that “You can never go home again.” or “You can’t cross the same river twice.” and now ten years after Mrs S and I began our Canadian adventure I find there is much truth in them. Having gone back to blighty on five separate occasions, visiting places where I grew up only to find a chilly welcome and a “Oh, what’re you doing back here?” No one wants to know you. Old work mates make repeated excuses to not have a beer and a chin wag like you used to, even when you’ve spent thousands to go and see them. When you meet people you thought were good friends it’s a little spooky to watch their faces close down when you say “Hi.” Like while you’ve been living and working overseas you’ve been doing something they’re ashamed of, but it’s not simply that. There’s often a mix of jealousy and disconnection which gives you the sense of being a stranger in your old home town. A feeling of isolation within familiar spaces. Like you’re just a tourist. Which feels like truth. Because it’s not your home any more. You moved on, they stayed. You’re now an outsider, an exile, who shouldn’t ever have come back. This is not your tribe.

There’s a century old story about a man who went to Australia and made his fortune. I think it was told as an anecdote in one Thomas Hardy’s Wessex Novels, not sure which. (Correction: From Laurie Lee’s classic “Cider with Rosie” – A staple of my Senior School English Literature classes – Thank you to the commenters for this correction)  Now the story goes that this newly enriched Australian came back to visit the English village he’d grown up in but left twenty years before. While he’s there he shares his good fortune with old friends and neighbours. Even spending one evening in the village pub buying drinks for everyone. Yet on his way back to his lodgings he was beaten up and robbed by some of the very people he’d once called friend. The very people he’d tried to share his good fortune with.

Life is a river, and like water, time flows in only one direction, unless you’re a very advanced physicist. Sometimes it pools, other times it bounds along, effortlessly carving its own way through solid rock. But always onwards, down to an estuarine end, or abruptly off a cliff or down a hole. So it is with old friendships and family. Those who stay still get left behind. This can breed resentment within them because perhaps they did not really want to stay, but somehow lacked the impetus, like me, to begin new lives for themselves in a different land, or even wonder, and feel a little betrayed by, my need to do so. In their minds, I left them. Which may have bred ill-feeling.

Which leaves me in a dilemma. I have to visit the UK next year anyway, but knowing what I do now, do I go visit and try to reconnect, or just accept what I’ve been told at face value and forever suffer a small nagging doubt? Considering my family history, or rather lack thereof, it has been characterised by a certain; “You don’t need to know that.” feeling. Indeed, trying to track my own Mother’s side of the family has proven interesting* because I was always shut out of the conversation because my very existence (Well I am a bastard from a time when this was frowned upon) is a source of embarrassment. Very few will even acknowledge that I am a blood relative. That and my Mother’s tendency to ‘re-invent’ herself every twenty years or so has not helped.

Oh bugger it, I’ll go and knock on some doors while I’m back in the UK. What can my relatives really do apart from tell me to sod off?

Update: There is also the thought that if we were such great friends and family, all my emails and letters would have been answered. But instead responses dried up fairly quickly, so maybe my erstwhile family and friends don’t really want to know at all. Heart says go and see, head says that they haven’t been in touch because they don’t want to be. Rather like an old mate who broke surface only to disappear into the mists of the Interweb. I offered to come over next time I was in the UK and have a chat over old times and where our lives had taken us. Result; complete radio silence. I’ll take my Aunt and her son out for dinner next time I’m in Blighty, but as for the rest, yes, well. Their lack of interest has been duly noted. Moving on…

* “Interesting” in like pulling a Bull’s teeth without anaesthesia.

Best Christmas message ever

Got a letter today. An old fashioned honest to goodness handwritten letter on ten pages of paper written in real pen from one of my two surviving Aunts. It absolutely has made my entire Christmas because it’s helped me reconnect with people who I didn’t think cared I still existed. My extended family. The pages repeatedly scanned today could not have been more precious if they were written in diamond on 24 carat solid platinum sheets. All right, my Aunt hand wrote the letter because her printer ran out of ink and my cousins won’t be visiting until next weekend to buy and fit a new cartridge for her, but as I read my crusty old eyes were almost moved to sentimental tears. Even if she hadn’t sent a Christmas card, this was far better.

I say better because all the sentiment within was genuine, not forced or the grisly secondhand saccharine sloppiness or ghastly lame humour of the usual run of Christmas cards. The letter was chock full of the dark humour typical of my clan, stuffed with information on a branch of the family who I thought had forgotten all about yours truly decades ago. Some of the news was sad, about a distant aunt and uncle who have left this world, but more was happy because people I used to love and trust, and think I still do, are still around and sinning despite all life’s vicissitudes. No, none of us do ‘Social media’, we have real lives. We connect in four dimensions not the two of Farcebook or Twatter.

Which gladdens my scabby blackened old heart. As my good lady wife observed having noticed my smile; “Well, something undid a twist in your soul Bill.” With which I agree, because I feel part of my own special river of humanity again. Connected. No longer as distant or excluded. And you know what? It feels good and it’s the best Christmas present I’ve had for decades. Possibly the best seasonal missive I’ve ever had.

Honestly, I’ve come over all North Brummagem.

I’ve been told that some of our lot are visiting Oz at the same time Mrs S and I are. It would be interesting to run into them and see what they’re really like, or if we’ll even recognise each other after so much time estranged. Family, eh? Who knew?

Another day

….another bomb on the London Tube. Woke up early to the news. First response is to try and raise Youngest on the blower, but she’s at work and not answering. I saw pictures of one woman with extensive burns to her legs being carted off to hospital, but I don’t think it was our girl. No deaths, so that’s a mercy. Doesn’t make you not worry though. You never really stop being a parent.

This is just five am me anyway. That part is and always has been an old worry guts. Although I’ve heard it said that pessimists get fewer nasty surprises, I’m not so much of a pessimist any more. More to lose.

My one hope is that they catch the amateur who made the device before they get better at it, and that said amateur learns the hard lesson of why they shouldn’t bend down to pick up the soap in the prison showers. Maybe we should be rethinking the prison system for terrorist offences. A secure basement somewhere soundproof where the guilty can be kept in solitary for up to thirty days at a time. No entertainments, no books, no conversation, just pictures of the casualties on a screen showing them the reality of what they did and who they hurt. If the injured or dead include those of their own belief system, so much the better. Shine a searchlight on their own petty hypocrisies and thus undermine them from within. Then before going back out to the general prison population for the rest of their sentence they get psychiatric treatment to ‘recover’ from the solitary. Prison on it’s own isn’t the answer.

As for the device, from what I’ve seen in the news it was a poorly made thing, as all the current bomb attacks seem to be, that blew off in a fireball rather than exploded. More incendiary than a proper bomb like the IRA used to salt around the place back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Update: Youngest is fine. She was on an different train. A small part of me just came back to life.

The great white doughnut

“Hi. Bill?” The scrub clothed technician greeted us. Mrs S and I arrived late evening at the Medical Imaging unit. I’d been waiting for this scan appointment since late November. Which was originally supposed to be a ‘ten day’ appointment, where they’re supposed to contact you with a scheduled appointment date within ten working days. I’d had to chase after six weeks of nada and get an first appointment for the end of March, then chase for an earlier cancellation. Oh the joys of Universal Health care.

Inside I was fairly sloshing with the extra litre of water I’d been instructed to consume within the previous hour. No, I wasn’t to substitute any other fluid. Had to be plain water, not beer or pop, okay? So I’d chugged down two and a half pints before leaving the house for our trek across town to the hospital. Good job we weren’t using public transport. I’d have left a puddle somewhere en route.

Confirmed my identity by checking in with my BC Care card. Was I a citizen? Of course. Robes over there, keep your underwear on. Then once reclad in one of those pale surgical blue ‘gowns’ with the big draught in the back, sat down and chatted aimlessly with Mrs S until called into a side room and asked to lie on a low treatment bench. All very folksy and informal. The next mildly unpleasant surprise was having some ‘contrast media’ pumped into my system. So, into my arm went a cannula (Good technique, hardly felt the needle.) and a syringe full of contrast was pumped into my veins.

More questions. Was I worried about the radiation? No, I’d probably had worse on a transatlantic flight. Then after asking me when I’d had a previous scan (in the mid 1990’s) the technician seemed to have doubt about whether I needed this scan at all and disappeared to consult with somebody else. Which left me feeling a little annoyed. If they didn’t do the bloody scan, how in the name of Satan’s trousers were they going to find the source of my chronic pain?

But when he returned a few minutes later, all appeared to have been resolved and I was led into the Temple of the Great White Doughnut, laid on its sacrificial motorised altar and hooked up to a contrast drip. Arms over my head, the motorised bed smoothly delivered me into the centre of this holy medical relic. Red lights flashed, the hieroglyphics of blue lit controls stayed steady. I closed my eyes and breathed in and out or held my breath as instructed via an intercom built into this great holy relic. The motorised bed whined in and out of the Great White Doughnut inscribed with the occult rune ‘Siemens’. Something buzzed a few times as images were taken. All I could do was lie there, my bladder bulging with all the extra fluids.

After a couple of runs through the torus, I was unhooked from the drip and the cannula was removed from my arm with an imprecation to press on the dressing in case I soiled their nice clean floor with my inconvenient blood. Then it was out, quick trip to water the horses and back out to change into my skivvies for the drive home. I was a bit peeved at not being able to see what the scans were telling anyone, because when it comes to bad news I’d rather know than not. The report will be with my GP by Wednesday I’m told, and the next part of the saga will begin. More hurry up and wait.

I feel sorry for Mrs S, she’s the one who will fret and worry while I’m being prodded and submitted to whatever ministrations the doctors decree. I told her I can handle whatever happens, and at least money won’t be a problem, even if my condition does turn out to be something nasty. Note to self; double check the will. Because if I am coming to a premature halt, I want her to be able to forget me in style.

Out of Synch

At the moment I’m a bit out of sorts, a weird sort of pseudo jet lag where my body hasn’t moved but it’s behaving like I’m living on Atlantic time rather than Pacific Standard. Which means I’ve been waking up at 4am like it’s 8am and doing almost a days work before breakfast. Then come early evening I’m ready to flake out. Feels like my body clock is having a bout of jet lag without any travel involved.

Which helps when you’re talking transatlantic to other people on the phone for an hour every time. But it’s no fun when the weekend comes as Mr Boring here is going to sleep at the wrong times during social occasions. Still, I don’t mind as there’s a potential big payday on the other end and in recent years I’ve gotten into the habit of working to the job, not the clock. Getting in early to finish early, or finishing when the work is done and not before. At least working from home I don’t have to face commuter traffic with the proverbial matchsticks holding up my eyelids like I used to.

This WorksafeBC thing is still hanging over us, and we’re seriously contemplating Mrs S moving into a more consultant like role where she doesn’t have the security of a regular work contract, but isn’t being transformed back into a wage slave, which she says she hates the idea of. Funny thing about freelancing. Once you start, you never really want to go back to the dreary old nine to five. Which is where our major objection lies. None of her colleagues want to be reduced to clocking in and out either. Not to mention the power of entry and control WorksafeBC can exercise on ‘workplaces’. You might like the way you’ve set up your screen and keyboard in your own home, but if the guy with the measuring tape disagrees, they can shut you down on the spot. In your own home. Mind you, from what I’ve heard, their inspectors are rarely seen up country, even when people do call them about real safety violations. So we might be thinking about buying a place that is somewhere a little too far out for them, but still has a reasonable Internet service. Or shutting down altogether. From what I hear, some of my wife’s colleagues and support workers have already done so rather than lose their privacy. The rest are busy giving their MLA’s and everyone else in range serious earache. The consensus seems to be that they will submit to the intrusion, but only under extreme protest and very grudgingly. This is, as I have observed to my wife several times, not going to end well.

Anyway, Mrs S is off to Jolly old Londinium in May and is currently obsessing over flights and hotels. I’m thinking of popping over to the old country to see what it looks like and go visit friends and relatives oop norf. However, I haven’t decided yet, so watch this space.

Gang aft agley

The major problem with big institutions is that when they fail, they go tits up big time. Usually over something fairly petty. So it is with the current wave of strikes fucking up the UK. Southern Rail are a case in point. There is currently a dispute between Conductors, Drivers and Management over demarcation, specifically who closes the doors on Southern rail trains. Go figure. The Guards / Conductors claim it’s a safety issue. As do the Drivers. As for demarcation, I thought the UK had left that kind of silly crap behind in the 70’s and early 80’s.

Then there’s threatened strike action by postal workers, Airline cabin crew, Pilots, baggage handlers and even Weetabix production staff (Does anyone still eat that shite?). Right at the busiest time of the year. Although Weetabix is no biggie, the rest will interfere with a lot of people’s travel plans.

Now I’ve never been on strike. Not once. I’ve walked a few times when I felt a job wasn’t worth the candle, but never actually struck. I’ve been on rest days when strikes have been called, but never actually gone on a picket line or been a part of any industrial action. I’ve been on the receiving end of a strike many times, which is a given if you’ve ever lived in the UK, but never actually reciprocated. Funny that. I’ve even crossed a few picket lines in my time. No fuss, no bother, just looked straight ahead and kept on walking. I think some twat tried to spit on me once. Saw it coming and lengthened my stride at the last second. They missed. Another couple of times I just rode my motorcycle straight on through. Strikers may call you ‘scab’ or ‘blackleg’, but I’m no-one’s ‘brother’ and think striking never solved anything. If I don’t like a job I’ll move on. In my eyes, strikes are the last (and often the first) resort of the incompetent negotiator. Why? Because they’re a lose-lose scenario. Political strikes doubly so. The workers never get what the Union says they want, nor do the managers, and the company they work for loses business because people go and buy their goods elsewhere so jobs are lost anyway. A strike is always a Pyrrhic victory. Quod erat demonstrandum. Rinse, repeat. Ad nauseum. Fuckwits.

Well, let me tell you it was a bloody mission last night. Youngest had planned to catch the train out of London to catch her rebooked flight. The strike by the Southern Rail Conductors / Guards pretty much screwed up her timetable and we’re still not sure if she made her flight, despite rousting her out of bed at 6am (10pm our time) and telling her to get moving. We even hired a taxi for her with Eldest organising a London based private hire car for yer younger sister all the way from the fabled land of Oz. We stumped up around a hundred quid for the extra journey via e-transfer from our UK accounts, on top of the cost of the airline ticket she lost after the problem with her Canadian ETA visa. No refund from the airlines for that, the bastards. Which means that so far it’s cost us about a grand (GBP not dollars) extra to sort that out. Then there’s the extra ferry costs, there’s another two hundred dollars (around a hundred and twenty GBP) we won’t see again. We may even end up waiting forlornly at Vancouver Airport for someone who isn’t going to be with us for Christmas.

All over who gets to open and close train doors. Jesus H fucking Christ on a bike. Never mind about automated cars, a far more practical use of the technology would be to fully automate the UK local rail network.

Update: Happy ending. Youngest is currently sleeping off her jet lag in the second bedroom bless her cotton socks. She got to the airport a little late, and there were a few humps and bumps along the way, but to misquote Shakespeare; “Turned out nice again, in’t it?” She wants some slippers for Christmas. We can do that.

Delays and general shizzle

I’m an early riser, and tend to do most of my business between 6 and 11am Pacific Standard Time. Simply because I’m currently dealing with issues over in the UK and have to talk to people in real time rather than wait 24 hours for them to bother answering an email. So this morning I got a shock when I got an urgent message from Youngest saying that she wasn’t going to be allowed to board her flight to Canada in a couple of days.

The problem is her expired Canadian Permanent Residency. Apparently she still shows up as a Permanent Resident of Canada when applying for one of the new shiny e-visa’s or Electronic Travel Authorisations. Which I find rather strange. If your permanent residency is expired, then the whole ETA thing should be much easier, no? If you’ve ever been a Permanent Resident Canada Immigration already has your details on file, so any identity concerns can be easily dealt with. It’s a simple yes / no algorithm. Is Permanent residency still valid? If yes, no ETA required. If no, fee please and fill in the online form. Any security ‘red flags’? No? Cool. Again, fee and fill in the form please. Got immediate family in Canada? Hey, good to see you back. Fill in the ETA form like everyone else. Append ETA visa to passport records which are already online via Canada Immigrations secure internal services, job done. But no, that would be too smegging simple. She has to formally ‘renounce’ her permanent residency which can’t be processed at least until Monday morning, possibly Tuesday, then she has to apply for another ETA, and without one the airlines won’t let her board her flight to Canada.

Okay, this makes me think there’s some mooks promoted way above their pay grade deciding on these regulations because these new ETA rules are so bloody counter-intuitive. I know there’s security concerns over immigration, but does this help? No. In fact these new rules actively discriminate against people. Yes that’s right, discrimination. Which is supposed to be illegal or some shizzle like that here in Canada. I’ve lost track. Just mentioning discrimination might be breaking the law nowadays. I now neither know nor care. I’m a citizen and will fight for my rights as such.

Fortunately Youngest isn’t going to be stuck in airports for the next few days, but is quite upset about having to stay home when she should be winging her way to us for Christmas and New Year. Fortunately she has a lot of friends in London and a nice cosy flat to wait around in. Better that than hanging around the industrial bleakness of most big airports. Especially Heathrow. The family has rallied round with money for ticket changes, so we’re all good there. She has wine, pizza and friends. It could be a hell of a lot worse.

Hey, it’s an unnecessary delay, but I console myself that everyone is safe. We’ll see Youngest on Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. There’s nothing unfixable.

One other thing; CBC have gotten hold of my email address and are spamming me with fake news about Barack Obama telling everyone how the Russians stole the US presidential election. For which there is no real evidence. Check out Stephan Molyneux’s video of his findings at 3:00. Stuff it. I’ll try and unsubscribe from these unwanted CBC messages, and if there’s a little box plaintively asking why, I will simply tell them not to spam as I didn’t subscribe to their fucking service in the first place. How the hell they got my email is beyond me, because I never visit their web site or any of its affiliates. Don’t even get me started on ‘Fakebook‘ trying to tell everyone what is real news or not. When it comes to fake news, they are one of the worst offenders. May their share price plumb new depths. It’s just a paper stock based on nothing anyway. I wouldn’t put money into Social Media even if you had me at gunpoint. Because I think Facebook and the rest are crap investment prospects which don’t actually produce anything and sell your information to the highest bidder. My twice-killed-but-won’t-lie-down-account doesn’t get posted to, hasn’t been since 2011, so as far as advertising it concerned, it’s a dead loss. No-one reads it. It’s a zombie that won’t die until Fakebook does. Both stepdaughters and most of their real friends have stopped using Facebook too, and they were supposed to be part of the ‘Generation’.

Likewise I won’t trust Snopes any more, nor Politifact or any of the other so-called ‘impartial’ sites. Their brands are now polluted beyond usefulness by a demonstrated pro-globalist stance. Likewise Wikipedia isn’t to be trusted on anything mildly contentious. Hell, like with all the other big ‘news’ networks, if any of them tried to tell me the sky was blue I’d go to the front door and check for myself. The truth may be out there, but everyone has their own version of it.

Right, back to work then yet more bloody packing.

Update:  Joy unbridled.  Paperwork processed, ETA visa obtained.  Flight to be rebooked.  Anticipating having to zip over to Vancouver on Monday to pick Youngest up from airport.  Yay!

Oh yes, and a big THANK YOU to the front line troops at the Canadian High Commission for processing Youngest’s ETA request on a Saturday.  I’ll say this for the counter staff of Canadian Immigration, so long as they think you’re legal decent honest and truthful, they can move minor mountains quite quickly.    Even if the rules they have to implement are sometimes goofy.

A blue collar revolution

We live in interesting times, with Brexit tottering towards March 2017, when despite all legal challenges, article 50 will be triggered. Before that happens a Trump Tornado, propelled by a blue collar vote of the ignored and disenfranchised, will sweep across the world, giving hope to those who thought that no matter who you voted for, that the government always gets in. It will no longer be enough to vote the party line just because it’s what your position in life dictates. People will be forced to get off the couch and make their voices heard above the noise of vicious minorities who think they know better than everyone else. They will also have a greater opportunity to bypass the media gatekeepers because despite best efforts of said gatekeepers, real, unfiltered information has been made available. The dam is breached. The castle wall down, and the defenders are swarming out only to find out that they do not occupy the high ground. The globalist weapon-words of ‘sexist’, ‘racist’, ‘misogynist’ and ‘Islamophobe’ have lost their edge, dulled through over use. Not that they were any more than scary shadow-swords, powerless against human resolve and a little truth.

On the personal front there’s been a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’ over the past few months and I’m like a hunter sitting quietly in the pre-dawn light waiting for the sun to rise. For rise it will. Despite the threats to shut down dissent, both physical and political, the world is turning as it always has, and no one can make it spin any more quickly or slowly. Ding Dong the Clinton is gone, and the coming dawn promises a new kind of world peace. A querulous, demanding cacophony of raised voices will herald the dawn chorus of its arrival, then once every throat gets sore from all the shouting, things will settle down. Especially when all the predicted doom and gloom fails to arrive.

On the negative side, a health issue has come catspaw to slow me down. Surgical intervention will be required, but is fairly minor and won’t interfere with any other plans. I hope. Scans and tests must be performed next week, and necessary medical indignities undergone. Nothing anywhere near the long running tragi-comedy that poor Anna has suffered over the last few years, but painful enough. Not a showstopper, but not very pleasant either. We are all flesh, with all the frailties thereof. My tribulations are mere inconvenience, nothing more.

What else? There’s a new bed and furniture coming next week. Stuff has to be lifted and shifted. We’ve got rid of a few things to make room for the new kit, rooms have to be rearranged and repurposed which means muscle work. I have purchased a new electric screwdriver for assembly, as most furniture over here seems to come flat packed.

We’re also looking at a new apartment over the weekend, a little bigger so we can accommodate guests more readily. Not quite so close to downtown, but then neither of us commutes anyway. It’s like our old place mid-island. A little out on the fringes, but that’s where we seem to belong. Then there’s chunks of money to be shifted to take advantage of tax rules. Pensions to be deferred. Papers to be signed and research to be done. Then I have to pick my next college course to shoehorn in between now and our big European adventure starting in May.

We’re ramping up into a busier time in all sorts of ways. The sense of just marking time that has dulled my edge over the last year will be a rapidly fading memory by Christmas. I’m actually looking forward to it. Then I’m also thinking of getting an Amazon Prime subscription so I can download The Grand Tour.

And what of this new blue collar revolution that is sweeping the world? I think, overall, that it will be a good thing. We shall see.

Important stuff

Well, that’s that. Eldest is now in the Fabled land of Oz. Flight went on time, landed on time, and according to latest message update her immigration visa acceptance was ‘a breeze’. She has a decent place to live, friends in country and even two very reasonable job offers. It threatened to get a bit emotional when we took her to YVR, but my final words into eldest’s ears before we saw her off at the security barriers were; “For god’s sake don’t forget to send pictures and tell us what you’re up to, or your Mum will drive me nuts.”

On the way back to our hotel we had a near-comical Satnag failure where the screen went blank at eleven on a very wet Vancouver evening. Mrs S stressed out at me, but all we needed to do was pull off the main drag, work out what turn we’d missed and memorise an old fashioned road map before setting off in the right direction. Wasn’t that fun? No. If there’s one thing guaranteed to disrupt domestic harmony, it’s driving and navigation.

Notwithstanding, Eldest has a place to run to if things go sour because sister in law now ensconced up Brisbane way can take her in. Mrs S of course is missing her firstborn. Which comes as no surprise. All mothers have this issue, be their offspring two hours or twenty eight years old, ergo my beloved will be less than her usual efficient self for the next two or three days. So I will step into whatever breach is necessary and smooth the path, reminding where necessary, forgiving as much as I can. Settling back to work, planning our next trips to Europe, Australasia and possibly the Caribbean for a little snowbirding in February. Not only that, but Youngest is due for two weeks at Christmas, so there will be another emotional trauma to deal with when she goes back to her London job. Hi-ho, it’s all part of growing up and being part of a global family.

Over here, the story about the Wikileaks Clinton email release and DCleaks Soros information releases is starting to gain momentum. Those in the know have long suspected the interventions and manipulations of various Soros funded organisations, but it’s like being a villager watching for suspicious ripples in a murky swamp that tell you where the Monster is. You can’t see the beast, what it’s target is or what it’s looking at, but you’ve suspected for a long time said critter is up to no good. And you know damn well it’s hungry because stuff goes missing.

Now the evidence is out there in the public domain, defended by a flimsy cordon of hatred-stirring middle class student activist types with their faux-battlecries of ‘Social Justice’, and claiming to be for ‘the people’ when they themselves have no real idea what ‘people’ are really about. ‘People’ are something you can’t learn at a liberal arts university. ‘People’ requires observation and over thirty years of experience. And when you’ve seen ordinary folk in all their light and shadow, will know in your bones that there is no such thing as ‘the masses’ or ‘the people’, just individuals trying to make their way the best they can. Some reekingly bad, some downright monstrous, but also many unaccountably good, the startlingly kind and outrageously decent. All flawed, all imperfect. All in a big, constant murmuration of societal motion.

This being said, itshould come as no surprise that there are those who want to control the motion so that they might personally profit from it. So it seems with the Soros funding machine, which channels millions of dollars (Yikes!) to various politicians and political NGO’s via a series of foundations and ‘charities’, including the ‘Open Societies’ and ‘Tides’ Foundations, which argue and push for more state organisation under the guise of ‘Saving the planet’. For example the news that ‘Global Warming’ pundit Al Gore had at least ten million USD a year bunged his way to ‘aggressively’ push the catastrophic warming agenda should not come as a shock. And there are several thousand more Wikileaks cats gleefully bounding out of bags regarding back door multi-million bungs. So it’s not really surprising that everyone who is anyone wants a taste. It’s easy money these control freaks don’t have to produce or sell anything for and ultimately feeds off society rather than contributing to it in a form of vampire economics.

The word from the sceptical side has always been ‘follow the money’ because the science for Man Made Climate Change / whatever is so obviously weak for any impending man made climate catastrophe. Indeed, certain astrophysicists have predicted that a new Dalton Minimum (possibly worse), when the climate was colder back in the 1800’s will occur over the next thirty to forty years. But there’s no slush fund money for such research, no cash for the activists, so don’t expect to hear much about it outside of academia.

I’ve even heard astrophysicists say that shifts in Earth’s molten nickel iron core have had some effect on climate via changes in our planets Magnetosphere. Which apparently ups the rate of cloud formation. See Svensmark’s work on cloud formation due to cosmic rays (The strange spelling is due to translation errors from Danish to English). Although some atmospheric physicists have claimed that atmospheric CO2 causes shifts in the Earth’s core, which is a mechanism that I have more than a little trouble with, at least from a physical modelling perspective. CO2 is comparatively speaking a very weak climate influence, swamped by all the natural feedbacks and how humanity’s CO2 emissions could alter movements and rotation of the Earth’s core has yet to be satisfactorily explained. Like the laughable claim that all the heat retained by man made CO2 emissions went off to sulk in the deep ocean because no one was paying it any attention rather violates the basic principles of heat transfer.

But we knew all this really, didn’t we? Well, you would have if you’d really been paying attention.