Category Archives: Musings

Never work

Well there’s a probability that I will be dead before this piece of idiocy comes to pass and just as well. A proposed UK 2040 ban on sales of all Diesel and Petrol engined vehicles. Oh dear, there are so many things wrong with this proposal that I’m having trouble enumerating them all.

Now Diesel, yes, I can see the utility from that, given the ‘known’ link between Diesel fumes and cancer. Well, at least according to the most recent IARC report. Worse than smoking, by all accounts. But that’s by the by. But petrol and diesel? Hmm.

The problems with the proposed ban on internal combustion engines begins, as the source article says, with the necessary upgrades in generating capacity that going over to a predominantly ‘renewables’ based power grid as mandated by legislation will entail. When the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine there won’t be enough batteries in all creation to power the UK’s energy needs, especially if millions of electric vehicles are all plugged into the grid. Even if every spare hillside is covered in bird killing wind turbines. So investment in Nuclear seems like the obvious solution. Thorium seems the safest option, as the end product can’t be used for bombs. However, that technology need to mature. As for fusion? Well given the current rate of progress, that is at least fifty years away. Especially if the focus remains on the ‘bang in a bottle’ Tokamak based designs. Research has been focusing on that branch of technology since the 1960’s to my recollection, but the goal of sustainable nuclear fusion reactions remain just as far away.

The next issue is grid capacity. I haven’t actually done the sums but even a back of a fag packet guesstimate means that the UK grid will need at the very least triple the current infrastructure. Given twenty plus years, this isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility, however, expect lots of brown outs and power rationing. Then you can triple the number of pylons marching across the landscape. All the scenic views will be interrupted by cables and wind turbines. Don’t even mention hundreds of thousands of substation upgrades, and extra diesel powered backups. No, sorry, no more diesel backups. Everyone’s electrickery bill will be through the roof. Not to mention the price of everything because transport costs will rise as all those Diesel powered trucks which tow containers of food to supermarkets will go out of style.

Here’s my argument; there will be around 75-80 million people in the UK. This estimate is based on the demographic boomer dieback that is in progress. Yes, all those post 1940’s and 50’s born folk will be going away leaving fewer descendants and many more immigrants to pick up the slack. Incidentally, all that finger pointing and blame attribution (“It’s all the boomers fault!”) won’t do a spit of good when the following generations haven’t picked up the slack. So, a less productive population demanding more from Government and services. Including electricity. Which is going to be a bit of a bugger when Winter comes. Considering a lot of solar physicists are predicting global cooling from around 2030. There’s also a possibility that coal and wood stoves will get banned along with the ICE. People are going to have to learn to wrap up warm. Just like I had to do as a boy. And get used to walking a lot more. Used to do a lot of that, too.

As for all of the UK owning electric vehicles? Never work. Even an enhanced grid couldn’t take the strain of thirty plus million vehicles (Number of vehicles currently using UK roads) probably fifty by 2040, slurping an average of 17.6 kWh (Average) each for a 62 mile journey from the grid, every night. More if the daily commute is over 40 miles each way. More if owners (As they are wont to do) leave all their vehicles on charge when not in use. Even more if someone can make battery technology work for trucks. Although some form of diesel electric would work. Diesel running at peak efficiency to power generator and thus drive electric motors, like one of these. Although if you scroll down and read, the uphill and top speeds are hardly on a par with modern Diesel trucks. Very stylish though. But if diesels do get banned, what then?

I’m all for cleaner air, but you can’t eat it and it won’t keep you warm in Winter. Anyone got any better ideas than a ban?

Cruise control and wide open skies

One of the things that we don’t generally use on our car is the cruise control feature. Until yesterday when I was getting bored with the unending flatness of rural Manitoba and clicked on the ‘cruise’ button on the steering wheel followed by the ‘Set Coast’. There was a sense of the accelerator pedal developing a mind of it’s own, then as I gingerly pulled my right foot off, our little Subaru took over, taking care of all the throttle controls, leaving me nothing else to do but hold onto the steering wheel. Now when it comes to driving I’m a bit of a control freak, I don’t like not knowing exactly how much pedal goes to the metal or which gear I need to be in.

Like with riding a motorcycle, you are not really a rider, your machine should really become no more than an extension of your own body. Your hindbrain takes care of the weight distribution, line into corner, throttle, gear and so on, and the bike provides the power and grip, letting your higher brain functions enjoy the ride, occasionally making conscious decisions like trying to scrape your sidestand on a particularly fast left or right hand bend. Depending on which side your sidestand is fitted of course, unless of course you own a particular model of Vincent, which is one of the few motorcycles ever to be fitted with two sidestands. Saw one back in the 80’s on the ferry to the Isle of Man TT races. Something to do with rapid wheel changes as I recall. The guy who owned it did admit his machine had been modified, and joked about it being one of the ultra-rare ‘White Lightnings’. Although I think what he really had was a repainted Black Shadow.

Any old road up, after that brief sashay down memory lane, back to the main thrust as it were.

It’s a bit disconcerting to find yourself sailing up hill and down dale at the same speed without your right foot being involved. But after a while you get used to it. It even becomes fun. So after the initial discombobulation I simply sat back and enjoyed myself cruising across the (very) flatlands of Southern Manitoba until we arrived for tonights stopover in Winnipeg. Holding on to the steering wheel, for want of anything else to do, chatting idly to Mrs S as the scenery rolled on by under magnificently cloud decorated skies, chasing the coat tails of a recent storm.

In our hotel we checked the news as is our wont, and were greeted by the grim item of another couple of terrorist attacks in London. So we got on the phone to Youngest to check that she was okay, which she was. Reading further I noted with grim satisfaction that the attackers sponsors both for Manchester and London, are about to get a very nasty shock. The real dogs of war have been set on their trail, no doubt with orders not to mess around and dispose of any evidence without fuss. I would not like to be in the Islamists traditional dress right now. A lot has been learned since the Gibraltar Fiasco, when three IRA murderers got offed in public on their way to attack an army band giving a concert. I am led to believe matters are dealt with a little more discreetly nowadays. While the PR team do the flashy stuff like jumping out of helicopters for the cameras, the hard core specialists will be down at street level disposing of the garbage.

At which point I’m moved to comment that sometimes society at large needs the protection of its meanest sheepdogs, and with the Daesh facing annihilation in their current domicile, they are lashing out in desperation, exposing their UK operatives and networks with these last ditch terror attacks. Of course the terrorists eventual demise will be no comfort to their victims, or the inevitable collateral damage to the innocent, but digging out a cancer like the Islamists can be a messy business and not always possible without amputation, even with the best of surgeons. Sad but true.

Just hope Youngest doesn’t get caught up in the resultant mess, that’s all. Despite the fact that she’s old enough and wise enough to make her own life choices, we still worry. Why? We’re parents and worrying is part of the job.

Anyway, it’s past bed time and my presence in same is being demanded.

TTFN

But….

One question I’ve noticed that left leaning journalists like to ask people in various vox pops is; “How many gay friends do you have?”
If asked that question I’d answer: “But I don’t really know any gay people. Why is that important?”

Which is true, or at least if any of my very small group of friends is gay, then they are keeping that snippet to themselves. Probably because they know that I don’t really care about their sexual preference. That’s a personal matter for them in which any opinion of mine is immaterial, so why ask me? Of course over the years I’ve met a few openly gay people, but none I’d care to call ‘friend’, simply because we’d nothing in common and I occasionally found their antics rather off-putting. So we passed like far off ships in the night, never to cross courses again. But I never ‘hated’ them, that would have been irrational, like hating a fish for swimming.

Besides, in the circles I move in gays are not that common. Not that I’ve ever been a big socialiser. Given the choice between reading a book and going to a dinner party, the book wins every time. Besides, I have my own criteria for choosing friends and sexual orientation comes right at the bottom of that list. However, at the very top comes trust, and if I don’t trust someone, then they can never be any friend of mine.

Singing my own praises

Why sing my own praises? Because I’m the only one that will… hold up a moment, did Sister in law just give me a compliment? Can I cook for them again? Hells bells, I think I’m going to faint!

Well not to my face, but the Sticker household has developed a reputation for being pretty damn sharp when it comes to comestibles. Take for example Easter weekend, our dinner guests got treated to my roast pork with crackling recipe. Which for some reason didn’t seem to be on my ‘Cooking for Conspiracy theorists’ list. Even though I’d already posted it elsewhere. Have now remedied this omission. In-laws even asked for my assistance with getting a proper Lamb joint. I said that I would search around and try to source some proper Lamb, not the Mutton which too often gets passed off as Lamb in Canada. Fortunately we’ve found a good local butcher who should be able to help. I’ll get the Mint sauce out for a 2lb shoulder of Lamb this weekend and see what happens.

I know one thing, too few places over here know how to cook Lamb properly. For example, a Lamb Rogan Josh at one of the local curry houses was effectively chunks of lamb cut way too big and not cooked long and slow enough. The meat hadn’t had enough marinading either, which made what should be a very spicy dish that melts in the mouth into something akin to chewing recycled car tyres dipped in curry sauce. Seriously, that was one serious sheep. I bet it had been beating up bears and cougars before dying of old age it was so tough. Guess where I won’t be going again.

A word to the wise; Lamb, beef or chicken for curry should be roughly cut into half inch cubes before marinating at for least two hours. Then given ten minutes in a pressure cooker to tenderise it before adding sauce ingredients. That way the meat cooks properly and the sauce flavours penetrate the meat. As a proof I’ll post my method (Including quick cheat) on the sidebar at a later date. A clue, my good friends Messrs Patak and Sharwoods are often a great help. Providing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency lawyers don’t get involved and screw around with what ingredients my culinary friends are allowed to use. In which case, pass the salt cellar.

BREXIT Day

Well, well, well. It’s finally here. Official negotiations begin to get the UK out of the EU finally get underway. For my part, I’ve decided to ‘go long’ on my UK investments, keeping funds in Sterling as I have a ‘seeming’ that the value of the Pound Sterling is going to go up significantly, having been artificially depressed a la Marvin the Paranoid Android for far too long. The currency markets don’t like uncertainty, and will punish any currency where the political will of a country is judged as weak. A case in point being the Euro, which isn’t doing so wonderfully, what with the uncertainty of the Anti-EU groundswell in the Netherlands and France, to name but two.

Frankly, I think the EU has had it. Indeed, the old Warsaw pact collapsed because it was being artificially glued together by the old Soviet Union. But there were too many differing cultures and languages for such a beast to work without a rule of iron from the top down. So it will be with the European Union.

It’s a shame for Europe. Had the EU stayed as the European Economic Community free trade zone to standardise weights and measures I think it could have survived. However, the bureaucrats wanted a big federal state with all the trimmings, and economically sane people don,t. Because big bureaucracies are unwieldy and uneconomic. Too much is taken from the productive to provide millionaire lifestyles for a self-selecting and unaccountable political ‘elite’ which strangles everything else. Canada and the USA function because they are (mostly) held together by the grass roots of common interest. There is some form of democratic control. The EU doesn’t really have any.

Now the trigger has been pulled on BREXIT I’m quite sanguine. Indeed, this is a form of ‘triggering’ which along with several other factors directly affecting the Sticker household, are giving cause for celebration. BREXIT, like the Daffodils and Cherry blossom may be late, but all three are welcome, and presage better years ahead.

Dark thoughts

I have a stepdaughter whose legal work takes her all around the London law courts, and sometimes into the UK Houses of Parliament itself. After todays terror attack there was a concerned flurry of transatlantic telephonic activity to jolly old Londinium from the Sticker household and I am pleased to report that Youngest was not in the area at the time.

As a concerned parent, my first reaction is “Youngest safe. Good.” Although I’m deeply sorry to hear that the attacker took down a Police officer in the process along with another three un-named as well as injuring forty others, some of whom will have to live with the physical consequences for the rest of their lives. However, the attacker is dead, good riddance. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Good riddance also to Martin McGuinness, who died yesterday. We’ll never know how many deaths he ordered or was involved in personally, but it’s well known that his hands were bloody as hell. Which is why the flames will burn a little brighter from now on.

These people who murder for a ’cause’ are key factors in prolonging the suffering of their fellow citizens. Had the civil rights protests in Northern Ireland not been tainted by the terrorists, there would have eventually been peace, work and plenty for all, Catholics and Protestants. Unfortunately many Mk 1 Homo Sapiens masquerading as evolved life forms in Ulster still don’t see it that way. So the killing still goes on, only the initials change. So will it be with Islamic inspired attacks. The killing will go on and on unless those who push the ideology are eliminated from within by the very communities they hide behind. Or have their minds changed. Not that I’m holding my breath you understand. Most people aren’t self aware enough to see the obvious.

An interesting tale

Apropos of nothing. Back in the day when teachers didn’t have to fill in a twenty page risk assessment, we used to be taken out on School Trips. Bundled onto a coach twice a term and taken to somewhere ‘educational’ where a teacher would try and engage our interest. The poor benighted fools.

One day we were taken to Worcester in England to see the then-famous Royal Worcester china works and the cloister of Worcester Cathedral where, at the foot of a staircase, lies a tombstone bearing the simple legend ‘Miserrimus’. Our History Teacher, eyes glittering with the historical romance of her story, enthusiastically regaled us with the Wordsworth inspired tale of a medieval monk who took on the sins of the world and was buried as a reminder to all the other monks that he was the biggest sinner amongst them, and that just to remind them of how naughty they were, they had to walk over his grave for the rest of time. That learned ’em, right?

The truth though, is a little more prosaic. The tomb of ‘Miserrimus’ is that of a Parish Priest defrocked in the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 for his loyalty to King James II and who spent the rest of his long life as an outcast until his death in 1748. Still, there was enough money to give him quite a fancy funeral and bury him outside the Church where his tombstone could continue to make his embittered point. Where it did for a while until the ex-reverend passed from living memory. Then along came some ‘romantic’ writers and poets who saw the stone and made some stuff up. Which is what they do.

Seriously. The guy spent fifty plus years carrying his political grudge instead of realising nothing was going to change unless he made it do so. Then he decided to be buried under a pseudonym, the reason for which was mostly forgotten. As was anything good or bad that he may have achieved in his life. Which is a shame, because he was not an unpopular man and was described as a caring and good looking chap who could have made a far larger impact on the world than his pseudonymous tombstone ever could.

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

More of the same

Things trundle on. More forms to complete, and I had to mess around with my handy dandy Printer / Fax to get necessary details off to the UK last night without getting charged an upper and larger extremity on courier fees. Seriously, these guys charge like a Rhino with a migraine then still don’t get the bloody thing there on time because of a lick of snow that they wouldn’t even notice over in Calgary, so it’s worth lugging the fax into the front room where the phone line connection is and spending ten minutes messing around with RJ11s and the like.

bills-weather-rockOn the subject of weather, I was checking my blogs history for ad hoc local observations on the weather, and noticed that we seem to get a serious dash of ice and snow here every two years, with more snow and ice than usual every three. Summer temperatures can end up in the low to mid thirties Celsius (Centigrade, whatever), which is nothing unusual, given that we’re on the same latitude as mid-France, so when someone blarts out that it’s the “Hottest year, EVAH!” I do have to suppress a chortle. I think these prognostications of media doom are simply cries for more funding. My Weather Rock, however, remains unconvinced, and has taken to lurking indoors on a nice cosy windowsill in the kitchen, hogging the view. It’s probably sniggering at all the other weather rocks forced to shiver outdoors, but it’s very hard to tell with rocks.

Anyway, it’s good that we have an AWD with decent all-weather tyres because I have to get Mrs S to a conference downtown today. Which means an early start allowing a bit of extra time for the inevitable dickhead faction out on the roads. Then I may amble into the downtown core for an hour to check something out before heading back to the barn and getting a nice hot feed set up for her ladyship when I go to pick her up around four. I hope to perform this task without any additional drama. Although I can hear the local snowplough already trolling up and down roads, so by the time we set off, our hill will be cleared.

On the drama front, we’ve finally stopped watching Canadian Netflix because it’s become so crap. Seriously, as a streaming service it’s really gone downmarket. Not that it was ever brilliant, but it was better than the alternatives. All there seem to be are tenth rate ‘documentaries’ with the odd watchable feature film and a host of what used to be called ‘B’ movies and teen series. Honestly, it’s like the PC Police have decided you can’t watch programmes which don’t comply with certain nauseatingly touchy-feely guidelines, which may ultimately prove their downfall. So we’ve signed up for a CraveTV account which gives us some reasonable HBO and Showtime series for the same price. The other choice, Cable, is terrible, chock full of adverts and not worth the fifty bucks a month our service provider charges for the ‘basic’ package. To which I am moved to retort; if I wanted propaganda, there’s plenty on YouTube for free.

One of the things I have noticed over the past 12 months is a serious decline in the overall quality of TV and Movie entertainment. To which I’m inclined to hypothesise that maybe all the slebs and half way decent writers have been so busy fundraising for the Clintons, protesting and electioneering that they stopped doing their jobs as entertainers. Don’t even get me started on the patronising crap about to be foisted on Netflix viewers like ‘Dear white people’, which is such a dire idea and so poisonous to race relations that it defies rational comment.

Here we snow again

It’s eleven on Monday morning. Two hours ago I looked out of my office window to see a grey sky that looked full of rain. An hour and a half ago it started snowing. Now it is snowing quite heavily, with visibility under a hundred and fifty metres.

This is rather absurd because over the weekend we were promised snow, which did put a dusting on the hills further north, but left our little domicile basking in sunlight. Now we’re getting dumped on. This is Victoria. The Canadian Riviera. It’s not supposed to snow here. Where’s that global warming when you really need it?

Seriously though this is just another part of the usual climate cycle. Some years it’s warm, sometimes it’s not, and despite all the fluffy whiteness currently descending upon us, it’s just weather. Like all the climate Cassandras out there, wandering round like old school bible thumpers constantly prophesying that “The end is nigh.” keep saying when things don’t happen as they predict, and that anyone who’s ever driven to work or taken a transatlantic flight is somehow guilty of causing a warmer or colder than average spring day. Earth’s climate is a chaotic system, and so far the climate models have more in common with the obscurity of Nostradamus’ poetic prognostications or a newspaper astrologer than reality. These are models that idiots like Trudeau want to impose carbon taxes for? The climate models that don’t actually work?

Never mind. Today I have forms to fill in and send to the UK. My offshore bank is closing down because similarly bureaucratic-minded morons think that relatively small time investors like me are all wicked money launderers who need to have Mr and Mrs Spank take a quick trip to bottyland. So the bureaucrats have upped the regulatory burden to the point where there’s no profit in it for my bank any more. Of course the big guys with millions will be fine, they can afford the lawyers and shell companies, but people with only a few hundred thousand are being squeezed out of the market. Which means I have to find a new bank account and jump through even more bloody hoops to transfer my funds around Europe and the UK without getting caned by my Canadian banks extortionate foreign currency transaction fees.

At one point last week I was reduced to naked sarcasm with a bank functionary over the levels of disclosure they required to open an account. Not being satisfied with my notarised ID and credit references and previous bank statements, my late parents sources of income were demanded. To which I was forced to respond; “I don’t know. Can you hang on while I go and find a first class spirit medium and ask them?” Seriously. Trying to find another bank that will take my funds is turning out to be a Kafkaesque labour of Hercules. You’d think they didn’t want the money.

And outside the snow is falling. Onward and bloody upward.

New books

A literary interlude is on the cards with probable forthcoming hospital stays. Last time I was so immobilised, I took to reading and trying to memorise the complete works of Rudyard Kipling with a side order of Defoe and Melville. This time I went and raided the bookstore for almost the complete works of Earnest Hemingway.

Mrs S will be travelling to London on her own to see Youngest this year because I have to keep my diary clear for possible surgical interventions. Which is annoying, but as one brought up in the stoic tradition of “What cannot be cured must be endured”, what else am I to do? Keep taking the tablets and chill with the pills.

I haven’t read Hemingway since my English Literature class trudged (mostly – I still like reading) unwilling teenagers halfway through ‘A Farewell to Arms’. As for literature in general, just don’t talk to me about Brontes or Jane Austen. Did Wuthering Heights and Sense and Sensibility for English Literature A level, and I’m still having unpleasant flashbacks. Fortunately we had a teacher who explained how to understand the middle English of Geoffrey Chaucer and some of the better Shakespearean jokes. Which was a compensation for the Wessex novels of Thomas Hardy (Don’t ask). Frankly I found Calculus, Logarithms, and Binomial expansion more fun.

a-few-hemingwaysFirst pick was of course ‘The old man and the sea’, but as it’s a bit on the short side I also bought ‘The Sun also rises’, ‘Death in the Afternoon’ and seven others. See the picture of my latest acquisitions currently hogging the seat of my office reading chair. There is also a used collection of Milton, Conrads classic ‘The Heart of Darkness’ and sundry others to grace the old bookshelves and keep Lady Chatterly’s Lover warm on those draughty upper shelves above my collection of Terry Pratchetts. If time allows I’m going to delve further into D H Lawrence, I’m sure he won’t mind.

As far as ‘macho’ writers like Hemingway are concerned, there are people out there who are keen to tell everyone what they can and cannot read, say or think because it contradicts one of their sacred ‘ists’ or ‘isms’, but right at this moment they can all sod off because my plate’s a little full right now and I truly can’t be arsed.

Happy reading.