Category Archives: Musings

A Chernobyl moment

Mrs S and I went out to get a small treat today from a Tim Hortons drive through. Also to have a general chin wag and to set the world to rights as we often do. Something she said touched off a memory flashback which took me all the way to a rainy UK midlands industrial estate in 1986.

That day I was outside, bareheaded in the rain with water trickling past the collar of my sodden heavy wool coat, doing the job the new foreman had sent me out to do. This new foreman hated my guts for some reason. No idea why, some people are naturally ill disposed to others and there seemed no obvious rhyme or reason to it. My previous boss had been booted upstairs for being too efficient and we were stuck with a new ignoramus who did all the petty things low level managers are not supposed to do, like play favourites and take out his frustrations on his most junior subordinates. Of whom I was one. We got all the shit jobs. Me because I was (and remain) reasonably well spoken and modestly educated, traits which will always get you into trouble with a certain sort. This particular task was something he’d given me because my face offended, so outside I was sent. I think I was checking serial numbers or something, sorting out gear in the yard for bringing inside the workshop later. It’s not important now.

I heard that specific foreman died of a heart attack in the early 90’s. Don’t ask me to be sorry about that because I’m not. He was a very unpleasant man.

On that afternoon the air tasted of something like burning tin, but I thought nothing of it at first since there was a flame cutting shop over the way and we used cutting discs and plasma cutters a lot, so I was used to that kind of smell. But you get to know the taste in your mouth when hot metal is being cut. After a while you can tell which material is being cut and what it’s being cut with, be it copper, steel, or aluminium by flame / laser or plasma cutter. They’re like power chords in a heavy metal number, brash but distinctive. Once you know what they are, some of that gets hard coded into your senses and it never leaves you.

This was different. It was akin to the harsh stink of galvanised steel being cut with a flame cutter, but not quite. I remember sniffing and glancing curiously at the workshop over the road where the guys were busy setting up a jig for a new contract. Their cutting gear was cold so it couldn’t be them. So I sniffed again, then licked rain off my top lip and spat it out. The smell was in the downpour.

I remember looking up at leaden clouds, which seemed to have an odd yellowish tinge to them. The sun, where its shape shone through, was a parody of a badly poached egg. The rain felt heavy, the kind of steady, solid English downpour that soaks you to the skin no matter what you wear. At the time I couldn’t get any more miserable than I was and I’d catch hell if I didn’t complete the task, regardless of the weather. And it wasn’t until watching the news at ten that evening that I realised what I’d seen that afternoon was probably the radioactive fallout cloud from Chernobyl passing overhead.

Just over seven years later I was under the knife, having a growth in a lung removed. Took me six months to recover. I used to wonder if that was because I’d breathed in something nasty on that afternoon in 1986.

Doesn’t matter. Shit happens and we have to adapt.

What really struck me this afternoon, and it’s been going around in my head ever since, is this one thought;

This is Communist China’s Chernobyl moment.

Never mind anything Trump or Johnson are doing in response to this event, that’s irrelevant. A chain has been set in motion and the world is changing before our very eyes. This is fall of empires stuff where not quite all the major players die at the end. Governments will fall. Two empires will collapse. I’d tell you whose heads I expect to tumble, but that would spoil the surprise. Although I’m sure my one remaining reader can hazard some reasonable guesses.

I believe the regional economic fallout will last as long as the ban on Welsh and Cumbrian Lamb after Chernobyl. Perhaps much, much longer.

Now that’s a very sobering thought and I now need a very large whiskey to counter it.

Now wash your hands

This is a general post about the need for personal hygiene. Wash your hands. Properly. Keep your hands to yourself as well. I mean it.

The Covid19 virus outbreak is now a global pandemic in all but name and we should try not to further the spread. Official current status here.

Covid19 is a nasty bug, it is worse than its sister coronoviruses, which are responsible for the common cold and a variety of other influenzas, but it’s not the black death. The death rate is much higher than common Influenza and will speed the demise of those who are already chronically ill with heart disease, diabetes etc. However, and this is a big however, it is not as bad as some might have you think. In it’s worst form it will hit the hygienically careless individual like a sledgehammer, but there are ways of limiting the spread. As any fule should kno, when even medical staff are dying of it, you can bet your ickle pink bootees that it’s a bad ‘un. So, best to avoid catching it in the first place.

That established, what do we do to minimise the spread? To do this, first you have to understand the major modes of transmission.

Droplet;
Ah yes, the old ‘coughs and sneezes spread diseases’ meme. If you’re going to sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or you will spread whatever lurgi you have, and even some you don’t know you have at around thirty five metres per second (Yikes! Just under 80mph). In the case of flu or a cold, the video below will fill in a few fun facts.

In the case of Covid19, that specific nasty little bug has demonstrated a two week window(!) in which simply touching a contaminated surface will likely spread the infection. Even after that, it might be a good idea to give the surface a quick (but thorough) wipe with a concentrated bleach solution or a good hard dose of UV radiation. Or both.

Interpersonal;
Hugs and kisses are a great way of passing on any given micro-organism. Diseases of all types agree that this is the easiest way to get around in their daily commute between hosts. Even simply shaking hands is an avenue of possible infection if one or the other party has been a little careless with their personal handwashing. So if like me, you aren’t a hugger to start with, this is a brilliant excuse to politely fend off those who seem to like doing limpet impersonations with every single social interaction. Might also be a good idea to go for a vigorous stroll instead of relying on public transport for one’s daily commute. If at all practicable.

Faecal;
This is one most people do not even think they are doing and why it is important to wash your hands properly after they have been anywhere near your toilet bits. See below for an approved method. Learn it.

This is because Covid19 can be transmitted via faecal matter. It should be noted that those from cultures who wash their toilet parts with only water and their left hand are especially prone to spreading the disease via this route, especially if washing hands after a visit to the smallest room is a bit rushed. Better still not to let your digits anywhere near those areas unless they are going to get at least a sixty second antiseptic scrub afterwards. Iran being a case in point. Their infection / death rates are much higher than the norm for this bug and they have no one to blame but themselves.

Sexual;
Covid19 is a tenacious little bugger, and appears to be able to spread via the exchange of bodily fluids, especially if the bits involved have not been washed properly prior to getting down and dirty, so to speak. Think of it like popping a breath mint before getting up close and personal. A courtesy. Besides, it’s a gesture of respect, showing you care about your chosen bedmate by ensuring your pleasure parts are all bright and sparkly.

To conclude;
Decent personal hygiene, such as frequent and thorough washing of hands will reduce the risk of contracting and passing on this nasty bug, thus a reduced risk of premature clog popping, which any sensible individual will want to avoid. Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing likewise. No need for mask or gloves, you’re not in operating theatre, just small sensible precautions may help save you from a possible very nasty bout of illness.

Let’s all be careful out there.

This has been a public service announcement.

Update:
You know the old piece of folk wisdom about the best treatment for colds and flu being fresh fruit, fresh air and moderate exercise? Well, all of these assist with vitamin D conversion in the body. A brisk early morning stroll and a modest dose of cod liver oil or vitamin D supplement could reduce your suffering, should you be unfortunate enough to contract even a seasonal cold or flu, never mind Covid19, by over half. See the video below for dosing information and where and when vitamin D supplements can be useful.

Taking my own advice and that included in the above video, I’m ensuring that my vitamin D levels are kept up to snuff by a modest daily dose of 500mg (two capsules) of cod liver oil, the occasional snack of sardines on toast, while Mrs S goes for a canned tuna melt a couple of times a week. We both try to get out for a stroll, or at least outside as often as possible and are hoping that this will be enough to fend off the worst of cold and flu season, regardless of any other virulence.

All for vanity

Canada’s Prime Minister has just returned from swanning around Africa, brown nosing for votes to give Canada one of the currently vacant seats on the UN’s insecurity council. This is nothing more than a vanity project, especially when Canada is being brought to a grinding halt by little more than a handful of Tides-funded fake nations protesters. Now he wants to engage in a dialogue? Do I hear someone laughing? Soros, is that you? Again.

The majority of real first nations are standing on the sidelines going “WTF?” They want pipelines. They want prosperity. I get the sense that they’re very pissed off about these fake nations taking their name in vain.

The Police appear to have been given stand down orders because they do nothing when main highways and rail lines are blockaded, yet will arrest any public spirited citizens who attempt to clear up the mess. Then there are the handful of activists who blocked the Legislature in downtown Victoria. Not sure if they’re still there. Perhaps they’re lecture dodging.

Protests are fine, but physical blockades? No, that’s a step on the road to anarchy. Not acceptable. It could even be described as terrorism. Not that there’s any terror involved for anyone above the level of total wuss.

There’s something going on beneath the surface because even the politicians are getting harassed yet the RCMP and local cops are doing nothing apart from jumping on any people who object to the blockades. Or are the Canadian Police simply doing this in mute protest at being given a big ‘hands off’ by their superiors when it comes to these blockades? By their forced inaction are the lower ranks making a political statement about enforcement? As political as they are allowed to be that is. Maybe they’re so fed up that they’re going to let things go down to the wire. Or are their upper echelons so subsumed by PC culture that the rank and file are ordered not to intervene? I have no idea.

As far as the first nations are concerned, the RCMP are damned if they do and damned if they don’t so maybe they’re simply choosing the least worst option, at least as far as they are concerned. If the country’s economy is heading toward lockdown, they don’t care. Or at least they’re not being allowed to care.

All the time the Federal Government refuse to allow the Police to do their job. All because the vanity of Trudeau wants a seat on the UN Security council, thinking that a worthwhile achievement. Even if the country he is supposed to be head of is slipping into deeper economic trouble. Even if Trudeau’s mate and sponsor George says things will be fine. Well, perhaps fine for someone who profits from the economic chaos engendered by the many NGO’s his Tides foundation gives money to, but not so good for the ordinary Canadian in the street.

I know it’s not all Tides, there’s the Rockefeller foundation and a few others as well as the Saudi’s funding these anti-oil NGO’s. The Saudi’s because they want to keep selling their oil to Canada, Rockefeller and similar US interests because the oil sands directly compete with their interests. Funding these NGO’s is just business, even if it does sabotage Alberta, and by proxy the rest of Canada.

For an informed commentary of what is currently going on, see video below. Max Bernier is right. It is a circus, and all for vanity.

On a personal front, life and work trundle on. These blockades will have little direct effect on me personally because my commute to work measures under ten metres to my windows on the world of finance and business. Which as far as Canada is concerned, look a bit sick. The Trump inspired USA continues to boom with no underlying issues that might cause a step change in the markets. Which is good for me because most of the companies I invest in have significant cross border interests.

The pound is stable, trading up on it’s pre-January 31st value despite the failure of the EU to be even remotely sensible when trying to strike a post Brexit trade deal. The EU want it all their own way and have no real idea about how to handle a proper negotiation. They want something but don’t seem to want to give anything substantial in return. Which will be the EU’s downfall. The UK holds all the aces. Links to global markets, restored fisheries, a veritable queue of negotiating teams including the USA lining up at the door. The EU is still working on the failed model of central banks, imploding economies and quantitative easing.

The only thing that can go wrong for the UK is if Bojo embraces the Green policies being discussed and sends the UK down a fiscal rabbit hole. HS2? Rail links? How very 19th Century. Never mind trying to power them with more wind farms and (derisive snort) solar farms in a cooling climatic phase. Better by far to go down the route of small scale nuclear and hydro than ‘renewables’.

Perhaps it is worth mentioning that Hydro power on a small scale can have the secondary benefit of local flood management whilst churning out stable base load, as well as being able to react quickly to upticks in demand. There are quite a few old UK mill sites that could have their networks of sluices and ponds rebuilt and a modest turbine installed. There’s also the possible added benefit of running trout farms in the mill ponds. Food and power together? Now there’s a project worth considering.

Trying to run a nation on whizzy little battery cars powered by wind and solar ‘renewables’ won’t do any good. Renewables are simply inadequate for farming or industrial use, apart from for subsidy farming. For useful power generation there’s just not enough energy density, even with the up and coming generation of battery technology. Better, and much cheaper to invest in Internet bandwidth, cabling and local distribution hubs. Now there’s an enabling 21st century technology that works. And it’s relatively cheap and flexible compared to building and maintaining railways.

If like me, your desk is at home, all you need to do is log on, hook up your comms and you’re away. Which is what I do. No scabby trains or traffic jams. No aggravation from thoughtless soccer moms or texting titheads. Add to that the advantage of not having to share an office with people I don’t really like or trust. Win-win I think.

Travel plans for 2020 are Southern Ireland this Autumn for a couple of months where we have rented a cottage in the South so that friends and family can pop over for a visit. The flights and accommodation are all now paid for, with a short hotel stay in Dublin for when we stumble thoroughly jet lagged off the plane yet to be organised. Oh my aching wallet. Car hire has yet to be booked and I’m not sure what will happen to my Lemon tree plants while we’re away, but I’m sure they’ll cope.

So, the game’s afoot and we will be gracing the Emerald Isle with out dubious presence this year.

Could be interesting.

Looking forward

Well, the champagne (A small bottle of Pol Roger) is on ice, awaiting 3pm Friday 31st, BREXIT day. That’s 3pm Pacific Standard, 11pm UK, midnight in Brussels, or should that be midnight for Brussels? Mrs S just reminded me, but I’d already made preparations.

Rain permitting I will be hanging out the Union flag to rub various noses in it. At least if I see any of the despised circle of stars banners on display in the neighbourhood. I choose to celebrate my countrymen’s decision and success in wresting themselves from the pelagic ooze of Brussels. Good luck chaps. I wish you all well. May the sun always be on your backs and the road rise to meet your feet. I have a seeming that those backing a Bojo led BREXIT have put their money on a winning horse.

My path looks like I shall be taking a different road and despite the current threat of Chinese Coronovirus, Mrs S and I are feeling optimistic. Plans are afoot and so shall we be.

The sad news is that Elderly Friend declines further by the day, her marbles continue to rattle out and down the memory holes of existence. However, that’s dementia for you. Within the next month or two we expect to visit her only to be greeted with a surly “Who the hell are you?” and the door of her sheltered accommodation slammed firmly in our faces. This is a thing we are resigned to facing. It’s part of the downside of being a Power of Attorney, but one you have to expect. All we can do is play along with her continual confabulations and await the long-dreaded phone call from the staff. She might see one more Spring, she might not, but at the current rate of decline I think she’ll be pushing up the daisies before they break bud. We’ll sigh, Mrs S will cry a little and I will do the honours like we did for her husband back in 2011. My goodness, was it that long ago?

Notwithstanding, the future beckons and we must heed its call, stepping up to the challenges we are set.

May our gods go with us.

Happy independence day UK.

I am not your label

Got into a minor comment spat over on YouTube where some so-called ‘intellectual’ type was spouting divisive nonsense about how the ‘Boomers’ have stolen their children’s future. I watched for three minutes before my bullshit detector overloaded and I switched to something more stimulating. I also left a comment to that effect.

It must have struck a nerve because someone responded, accusing me of being a ‘boomer’ with a disparaging ‘okay boomer’ remark, saying the ‘intellectual’ had proven his case with statistics. To which I say; any damned fool can prove any case with statistics. Statistics can be used to prove that the moon is made of blue cheese and are, in the wrong hands, merely numbers tortured to the point where reality starts cracking. As Sam Clemens said; “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” Which is as neat an axiom as was ever laid in print.

All this talk of the ‘old stealing from the young’ is bollocks on stilts. Garbage reasoning to promote division so that the promoters of divisiveness may profit from asset stripping those they accuse. No-one has ‘stolen’ anything from anyone. My parents were modestly well off and worked hard to raise their boys, as did their parents before them. They are the giants whose shoulders I stand upon, and the next generation stands on mine, as with the next and the next. Overall, I am proud to say, we as a family have become more educated and better off by increments. As for ‘stealing’ from our children by burdening them with debt, well newsflash kiddies; so were we. The taxes paid by people born in my era were still paying off war debts incurred by previous generations right up until the 2010’s. From both the first and the second world wars.

Were our futures ‘stolen’ by our parents by paying these war debts? Don’t be ridiculous. Mrs S and I have what we have because we’ve spent our lifetimes laying up resources when times were not completely shit. Deferring our gratification. Not paying for the pub managers next holiday. All this talk of redistribution of wealth off the back of this ‘stealing from the young’ crap is just cheap political rhetoric to help asset strip the haves and then not give to the have nots.

Think of this; if authority takes from the haves, there is always a cost of collection. People to employ as collectors, office space, phone bills etcetera. All of which have to be paid for by more taxes. Then there are the costs involved in paying out the resources stripped from the haves, often from different departments with multiple redundant processes employing people who might be better off and happier doing real jobs. For every dollar raised for taxes of this nature, the redistribution tends to happen as follows; From every dollar taken in extra taxation, a good forty cents go into collecting and dispersal, twenty cents plus go into the back pockets of the politicians friends who build their offices and ‘help out’ with the financing of same and less than thirty cents out of the remaining forty end up where the politicians say they’re going to go. Although this is hard to prove. Sometimes the whole dollar just disappears into the black hole of general taxation, the redistributive schemes disappearing after a couple of years, whilst the increased tax remains. This is observation, not a statistic, and being merely anecdotal has no means of proof. Yet the extra tax money is still taken. Where it ends up is anybody’s guess. Don’t even get me started on carbon taxes.

Also; have the people born in my era been ‘wrecking the environment’? More complete hogwash. I was a card carrying environmentalist until I saw the light and understood that there are other ways of working towards less pollution, cleaner air and water. I began my working life in the UK industrial midlands with the stink of used soluble oil ever present in my nostrils. Now you can walk those same streets and not catch a whiff. Similarly diesel fumes. As for the nonsense bloviated about ‘man made climate change’, well, I’ve stated my opinion about that imaginary bugaboo often enough. We, those of us now in our fifties, sixties and seventies, were the people who campaigned for less pollution and the west is now much cleaner. The east is beginning to follow, but all these massive changes take time. All of this in the last forty years.

Did I mention that people of my age raised families with the ever present threat of nuclear Armageddon looming above us? Yes we have minor terror attacks now, but I grew up with IRA bomb threats (and real bombs), so little has changed. The world isn’t ending, despite any Coronavirus, which incidentally is not the fault of people born in the demographic bulge of the fifties and sixties. Nor is anything else, including a minor warming trend as we crawl out of the last of the Little Ice Age, which has already turned into a minor cooling trend, scheduled to last for the next thirty years. We will still have plenty of arctic and antarctic ice, sea levels will not flood major coastal cities like we’ve been told will happen twenty years hence for the last forty years. According to these doomsayers that is due to happen this year (2020). Seriously, it’s like waiting for the Great Prophet Zarquon.

Yes, so I find all this labelling of people in my age group as ‘Boomers’ whatever the labellers think that means, offensive. Also I do not choose to accept their label. It’s nothing but a cheap toss off, a worthless mental squiggle, only to be used by the hard of thinking.

/rantmode

New neighbours

Mrs S and I were having a chat about the news that Harry and Meghan Windsor, possibly the soon to be ex-Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have set up shop on the other side of the Island highway in Saanichton.

Saanichton isn’t that bad an address. At least the rural part of it. a little dull perhaps. But there’s reasonable transport links, the Brentwood to Mill Bay ferry. A decent marina for a hundred foot plus boat. I know it well. Then Victoria (cough) International airport (Only if you’re travelling to the States) isn’t far away. There’s also a cute little seaplane place not far from the Spitfire Grill around the back of the airport. It’s pleasant enough in the Summer months. The traffic on the Patricia Bay Highway can get quite congested when the ferries from Vancouver are unloading, but there are ways around. A couple of winding back roads from the airport through Brentwood and into Saanichton. West Saanich road can also get you off the beaten track and down onto Highway One if you know which turns to take. There are wineries producing rather average Canadian wine, hiking trails, a couple of parks, sea fishing, Kayaking and suchlike. A lot of Deer, and the occasional Bear and Cougar.

Regarding the possible loss of titles, from what I hear Meghan is the major fly in the ointment. She’s been backchatting the Queen and behaving in a most unregal way in public. Which may be one reason why she and Harry are over here on Vancouver Island. If they do lose the Duke and Duchess titles over their lèse majesté, they’ll have to go through the whole immigration process to stay in Canada like the rest of us plebs, or at least their lawyers will.

Now I can’t speak for Meghan, but I’m told Harry is a decent enough sort who is allowing his affection for his wife and newborn to cloud his judgement. If I were him I’d quietly upgrade my military training on helicopters and parlay it into a professional civilian rating. Which wouldn’t do any putative immigration application any harm. At least if he and his wife intend to stay. Canadian immigration rules, okay? Do either of them speak passable French? Mais non? Desolee messieurs dames.

Fortunately they’re both set for life as far as money is concerned, although their security bills will eat through their respective fortunes fast enough without the protections afforded to those on the Civil list.

In addition; for the benefit of those who don’t understand the UK’s Royal Family, may I offer a little insight. An insight which Diana, late Princess of Wales and latterly the ex-Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, forgot. They too thought they could do what they wanted, and look what happened there. HM Queen rules, UK? She said frog, they had to jump. Which, after some wandering willies got in the way of their relationships, they declined to do.

The UK’s Royal Family is unique in that it is the last real sacerdotal monarchy left in the world. That means the hereditary head of state, currently Elizabeth II, is both the titular head of state and landlady to most of the UK, she is also the head of the Church of England. Well so what? You might say. Well actually not so much “so what” as what HM Queen does as her job.

From sparrow fart until bedtime Liz II has her whole life mapped out for her, from cradle to grave. She is the head of ‘The Firm’ as Prince Philip once perceptively referred to the Royal family as. Because as Royals their lives are a business, the business of the visible state. All the parades, protocols and flummery that help socially glue the UK together.

Not only that but as head of state Elizabeth II is also the head of the UK’s military. You know when someone makes the rhetorical challenge “You and whose army?” Ahem, well that’s hers, including the tanks. As well as the UK’s Navy and Air Force, which she lets politicians borrow from time to time. Their oath of loyalty is to the Crown (Apart from the Royal Marines, who swear fealty I believe, to the board of Admiralty), which Liz II is the public figurehead of. It’s a strange, symbiotic relationship between the person and her immediate family, and the entity that ensures the continuity of her rule, or rather not rule. The queen is notoriously apolitical. Sometimes, some would say, to her personal detriment.

However as monarch, the Queen’s whole life is bound up in narrow protocols. She has very little say over her daily activities because she is the visible component of the whole machine that is the Royal Family. She can’t publicly disrespect anyone. Not even the nastiest little third world dictator, so long as they’re on a state visit. She has to be on her very best behaviour at all times. No room for even the smallest public slip in decorum.

Unlike Meghan, who seems to think that simply because she married Harry, she can treat anyone any old how. Actually the opposite is true. If she wants to retain her title, she has to apologise to the Queen, promise to do better and then keep her word to the absolute letter. She must now set an example. Follow protocols and precedence. Do the duty of deputising for the sovereign when called upon to do so. Because by marrying into the UK’s Royal Family and taking on the title and privileges, that became her new day job. She is no longer a B-list celebrity actress but a Duchess, which probably requires far better acting ability. Indeed, it could be construed as the role of her lifetime. Unfortunately Meghan doesn’t seem to have the stomach for it and she’s dragging Harry down with her. Which is a shame.

Oh well, there goes the neighbourhood.

Digging out

Well, the snow has stopped falling and our driveway cleared after an hour of vigorous snow shoveling on my part. It was good exercise as there was between ten and eighteen inches of global warming snow to shift. Now my working morning is being punctuated by soft subsonic thumps as the ten inches or so of snow on the roof slides off in a series of mini avalanches as a welcome thaw sets in. However the sun is out and I’m looking forward to getting out of the house for the first time since Friday. Or was it Saturday? Bloody hell, I’ve lost track. It’s already Thursday.

Working from a home office is all very well, but you do need a change of scenery after four or five days or a little cabin fever starts to set in. So we’re going out. I’ll deal with the rest of the shenanigans my morning job throws at me later. It’s only numbers. Easy enough.

The outside world trundles on without any input from this household. The Iranians have ‘fessed up to downing that Ukrainian airliner and are having to put up a patsy to take the fall for an error from higher up the food chain. BREXIT moves ever closer to a WTO ‘no deal’ outcome because the Eurocrats are still trying to stymie the whole process and why wouldn’t they? That’s their fat expense accounts that are about to walk out the door. A seventh of total EU yearly contributions are about to wander off whistling happily. Unless they get their act together, fast.

If asked I’d say the spectacle was almost pathetic, rather like the Limp Dem peer who essentially called all pro-Brexit voters ‘ignorant Nazi’s’. Which just illustrates the depths of desperation some people will sink to.

Despite all the whining and bitching from the opposition benches, who seem to be of the disarrayed mindset that if they can’t direct the game, they’re going to run interference for the opposition, things proceed. Unfortunately for them, Bojo has his majority and can more or less ramrod through the necessary legislation regardless of any opposition from the upper house. Blair set the example in the 00’s with his repeated use of the Parliament act, so the boot is now firmly on the other foot.

For BREXIT night itself I’ll be laying in a bottle of pink fizz to drink the health of the dear old UK and wish everyone in the old country every possible success. Eleven pm UK time translates to three pm Pacific, so a Friday afternoon glass of bubbles should provide a happy end to that working week.

Anyway. Where’s me shades? That reflected snowlight is getting kind of intense.

Last ride of the season

Still coughing and spluttering a bit to the point where my upper chest aches first thing in the morning. This London cough has been no fun at all. I’ve been home for three weeks and it’s hanging around like a bad smell. Gone but certainly not forgotten.

The other not so good news is that the Mutts insurance finishes tomorrow. So I went for a quick spin around town for the last time this afternoon before I put my big blue motorcycle into storage. Temperatures locally have settled into the single digits with some serious hail on Tuesday, some of which, like my cough, I noted was still hanging around at the edges of the road as I rode around town.

When I was bowling along happily in the sunlight it wasn’t too bad, but once passing through shadows for more than a kilometre, despite several layers of insulation I felt the cold leaking in. After an hours meandering around at both highway and urban speeds I retreated home feeling like I’d been working in a cold store, naked. Chilled to my bones. Haven’t felt this cold since I was soaked to the skin on a rainy Winter days foot patrol. It was just like half my body heat had leaked away.

Now as Mrs S likes to say I have what she calls a ‘cold weather metabolism’. Anything above zero Celsius doesn’t really bother me. Normally speaking. I can sit in an unheated room in light clothing while everybody else has chattering teeth. Think there must be some hidden Geordie in my DNA. So the wind chill must have been getting into sub zero territory. Should have worn my trusty old heavy leather riding jacket rather than my Summer riding gore-tex. Maybe some heavier gloves and switched on the heated grips. However, we can all be wise after the event can’t we?

Oh well, it all burns calories and I’m off to arrange some storage insurance tomorrow before I put the Mutt into hibernation mode for the Winter. Not that I won’t be running the engine at least twice a week to keep the battery alive and fluids circulating. Then when the temperatures begin to rise in Spring I’ll put full riders insurance on again and get out and about. Not that it’s been a great riding season for fair weather riders like me. To be quite honest I hear all the panicmongering about the coming heat death of the universe as promised by the UN and think “Bring it on.” Some higher temperatures and less rain, at least around Victoria BC this Summer, would have been nicer. I remember the foreshortened riding seasons of the 1970’s and 80’s. Those weren’t much fun.

Now there’s a promise of a longer, thirty year global cold period coming, perhaps even a descent into a new Maunder-like solar minimum, which kind of makes a nonsense of all the rhetoric about oceans drowning the cities or higher temperatures making places uninhabitable. Seriously, haven’t these people heard of galoshes or air conditioning? No really. I’ve a sneaking notion that as things cool we’ll actually see global CO2 levels stop rising or even begin to drop off as outgassing from the oceans that cover two thirds of our little blue green planet reduces or even reverses. The upside of which will mean that all the carbon doomsayers will have to find something sensible to talk about. Not that it’s likely. Some people just aren’t happy if there’s nothing to act up about. Me, I like being able to relax and enjoy things. We only get one life each and it’s important not to waste it.

The downside of a global cooling means coughing up funds for some better insulated riding gear. Winter drawers on as they say. Note to self; must get some shares in Damart or other maker of thermal underwear. Now there’s a marketplace which is due to take off in the next few years.

Another day out

Good old rainy London. Gave my new raincoat a thorough testing today. Wandered around Covent Garden and environs sampling pleasures and tastes while dodging the drizzle tainted crowds. Mrs S directed our steps into a couple of expensive venues I would normally never go anywhere near. For example one of the top rated patisseries in London.

Well colour me impressed. The coffee was excellent. Heavy on the Italian influence rather than the bitter American. Quiche that was divine, and as for the Sachertorte, that was light and melted in the mouth rather than leave you feeling like you are chewing stodge, as happens with so many mass produced versions. Exquisite. I’d had an indifferent pint of IPA earlier, so perhaps I was ready for some quality.

We’ve had a deal of discussions with family and friends of late where the discussion has centred around quality stuff and why it’s worth the price. Reason one; longevity. A really good pair of boots will last ten times as long as a much cheaper pair. Why a good quality suit is a good investment (Buy two, with extras if you can – looking smart is never a bad idea) Nice cotton shirts feel better and last longer. M & S basics more comfortable than the cheap stuff from Primark. A little more spent on the basics means you can go cheap on the accessories.

Anyway, I’m standing outside one store on the Kings Road and an expensive car snorted past. Then another and another. People were walking past me in expensive clothes and a thought hit me. Rather a large thought about the economics of everyday life. It made perfect sense and for a few seconds all the dots lined up, I saw the entirety of human economic activity in action and why free markets really do work.

Every single one of us is connected by a massive web of transactions, be those social, emotional or financial. From the single jet of a fountain to the massive money machine that is the City of London, which in turn is connected to all the other major centres all over the world.

Let me enlarge. The single fountain jet provides social value because as humans we like to look at flowing water, it calms and stimulates us, therefore it has worth. However the fountain jet needs water and power to create that worth. These are not free, the power to drive the water has value, as has the water itself, it needs to be sourced, transported through a network of pipes with a lot of other water. The pipes through which the water flows need to be manufactured, channels dug through the ground for them, the complex net of pumps and storage to maintain an even pressure. All of these need human effort and intervention.

Then there’s the electricity that powers these networks created by investment in power plants made out of millions of complex components from heat exchangers and steam handling technology to the massive transformers and circuit breakers which manage the power output (For the sake of brevity I’m excluding ‘renewables’ here, just talking about base load generation). All of which has to be funded and made by finance. Money must be made, credit obtained to pay for the intricate web of costs that underlie even the simplest nut and bolt. Part of what I do as an investor is loan money to larger companies so that they may pay for new machinery to build and maintain those power plants and networks of water pipes. Which kind of brings me round in a circle to the pleasing spectacle of the fountain jet.

Therefore I posit that anything in motion consumes and creates energy and energy is a function of life. Likewise the market of life is in constant motion. Each of us, is whether we like it or not, is interconnected through diverse voluntary transactions to everything else in this world. Thousands of times a day. Every time we step out of the door. Every leaf swept, every drop of rain cleared, everything man made has multiple costs from the parts of a leaf blower and the parts needed to make the machines which make parts for leaf blowers. The credit and finance to pay that cost has to be raised by financial institutions which are the money machine we are all part of, from the beggar hunkered down outside the supermarket to the flash git in his Maserati posing down the street. Sometimes the chains are not obvious, but they are there nonetheless.

Isn’t this a fascinating world we live in?

Update: Tearful phone conversation with Eldest who dwells in the fabled land of Oz. Long term boyfriend just walked out on her, the idiot. That is all.

Time out

Right. Fed up with hearing about the Parliamentary antics and have elected to spend tonight at the theatre after a pleasant steak dinner. An online booking, a skip and a jump on the tube and we’re forgetting all our cares for a couple of hours.

It doesn’t help that all the news, both personal and public, has been unpleasant to say the least. From Elderly Friends dementia to the near-equally eccentric behaviour of the UK Speaker of the House of Commons, I am forced to ask myself, is there an epidemic?

It would explain a lot….

Update: well, we had a jolly fine time at the Garrick watching ‘Noises off!’ with some very polished slapstick routines which had the audience roaring.  Recommended.  We even got free ticket upgrades.

Boris Johnson won his vote on the current Brexit deal by a larger margin than predicted and the comments threads in the FT are more full of pro-EU comment trolls than usual.  Including those praising Barnier as the person who has been tasked with ‘repairing’ the relationship between the UK and EU.  Delusional, much?  Hey he’s 68.  It’s a retirement job.  The likelihood of him ‘achieving’ anything are as remote as the nearest quantum black hole.

Tomorrow I am signed up on a short basic butchery class.  Will try not to remove any of my own bodily particles as part of the learning process.

The only blot on the horizon was seeing Trudeau get re-elected.  Although on the bright side he’s only got a minority government so I hope he won’t be able to do too much more damage to the Canadian economy.

Fingers crossed.

Wandering about

Today we’ve been ambling amiably around the V & A, taking tea surrounded by the sumptuous sculptures of tyrants long gone with the epic line of poetry; “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, look on my works ye mighty and despair. Nothing beside remains…” echoing around what passes for my cognitive processes. Was going to spend the day in the National Science Museum, but it was full of kids, it being half term. So I elected to wait until next week for that small pleasure.

Otherwise feeling a little gloomy because no matter what we do or say, Elderly Friend, safely in her upmarket Canadian care home, is convinced we aren’t ever coming back to Canada, claiming we have abandoned her. As the days pass we get reports that she’s getting get worse and worse, with ever more of her brain shutting down on the gradual journey into the long night.

We write postcards every day, we send messages saying; “See you when we get home”, nothing seems to make a difference, Elderly Friends short term memory will not encode new information, no matter how many times she is reminded, or how many messages are glued to her apartment wall. Sometimes we get a small respite, but no doubt our voicemail will be filled with increasingly angry and frustrated messages when we get home. We’ll just have to roll with it as it happens.

It doesn’t help that the people we asked to keep an eye on her just aren’t ready to cope with what we’ve been handling for months. So it’s middle of the night emails disturbing our otherwise blessed repose and Mrs S is showing the strain after only a week. As if they want us to fly all the way back across the Atlantic right now to ride to the rescue. Not gonna happen folks. We’ve earned this break and anyone who wants to sabotage it will find our email firmly switched off. We have done our bit and can do no more.

Nothing beside remains…. Just a case of doing our own thing whilst matters beyond our control progress. Preparations are in place for the worst case scenario, which seems to be approaching with the speed of an express train. All we can do is wait.

Sometimes I catch myself offering up a dark little prayer for her merciful demise. “Please God, give her an easy death. Soon.” The person we loved has already left us and we must steel ourselves for the outpourings we know will come from her relatives when her body shuts down.

At least there’s plenty of London to wander around.

Who told you that?

Which is an exceedingly good question to put to the anxiety prone hand wavers one comes across from time to time. Who, with any real credibility, is saying that the world is going to burn up in eighteen months and what is their agenda. And who says leaving the EU will lead to everything in the UK grinding to a sad and inevitable halt? ‘Activists’ who are all sound and fury, the idiots who have become their own tales, that’s who.

Mrs S and I were discussing this today on a short drive out to the mall. The consensus between us was that all the “We’re all doomed!” faction are a bunch of ignoramuses who believe all the cultish nonsense they’re fed. I believe that no force on earth can stop a man with a true righteous hunger (a.k.a Deus impeditio esuritori nullus), and hunger is what these milquetoast radicals lack. All they have is the vapid echoes of clickbait media releases funded by rich bastards who feed off the stock exchange instabilities the activists create by blocking streets and wasting everybody’s time. The fact that some of these activisty types have been raided by the Met, who have reportedly taken some pink cushions into custody, indicates that these few nonsense merchants have peaked. Especially after that hilariously mismanaged incident with the decommissioned fire engine (See video below).

They’re not only wrong, they’re completely inept as well.

Notwithstanding the above, we were both getting a touch of cabin fever after almost a week without seeing the outside of our little domicile. We also haven’t had a real holiday since last year and need some different air to stay sane. The rain has been enough to keep me out of the saddle and the speed traps have been out in force over this last week. So, instead of picking up speeding tickets, we got out of the house to do a little peoplewatching and see what the rest of humanity in our little corner of BC was up to. To which the answer was, not a lot. Just the usual.

I’m all packed for London and will be making contact with friends and (gasp!) family while I’m there. It’s absolutely true. Two of my family members are actually deigning to travel down to the smoke to see their cousin and sibling (Me). Good gravy, whatever next? What are they really up to? Normally they wouldn’t even cross the road to piss down my throat if my lungs were on fire. Something is up. As in balloon going. I know my clan, to paraphrase the words of Edward Young “They ne’er take tea without a strategem”. I have a suspicion I’ll need my lawyer on speed dial. Might not be such a bad idea to put a London brief on retainer.

Which only leaves me wondering as follows; will BREXIT really happen on time like Bojo the suspiciously unclownish UK Prime Minister says? Or will the Scottish courts go on obstructing, creating legislation on the fly? BTW; Scottish law is slightly, but markedly, different to English law. Which is something the Blair-created ‘supreme court’ seems to be forgetting. Ho hum, less than two weeks to the nineteenth. Tick tock.

As for here across the pond, I think the Canadian populace knows what it needs to do on the 21st, but whether they will kick the corrupt and hypocritical Trudeau and his Liberals far enough out remains to be seen because Scheer, the Tory leader is so damned wet and cut from a similar cloth. Will the conservatives upend the vote, or will the Greens and PPC make inroads? I see few clues. Locally there are few, if any lawn signs on private properties in our neighbourhood and the political doorknockers haven’t yet wheezed up the steep bit of the hill where we live. although my vote is already promised to the local PPC candidate. Can’t speak for Mrs S, she’s always been her own woman, although I suspect she’ll be voting blue.

Boring….

A bit bored at the moment. We’re on the run up to London in just under a month and looking for places to entertain ourselves. I’m rather put out because the weather around here has turned quite damp, so the Mutt is currently snuggled up under cover and I find myself reluctant to look out of the window at the rain. Such are the issues with being a fair weather only rider. I’ve got a hankering to take a run up past Comox (450km there and back, all right, 280miles) or even Campbell River (530km round trip, about 330miles) to clear some accumulated cobwebs.

On the plus side, work is under control and Management are happy with the what’s, why’s and wherefores of my workload, which I can handle without difficulty because I’ve whittled a number of tasks, including my weekly reporting, down to a few mouse clicks. It’s all a question of streamlining and automating the simpler procedures, which I’ve had time to do over the Summer, even with me and the Mutt sneaking out for two or three hundred kilometre long rides while things are slack. The mountain loop round Sooke and up to Port Renfrew, thence over the hump to Duncan via Lake Cowichan and back to the barn is a favourite. The road surface gets a bit rough after China bay and up to Port Renfrew but it’s very scenic. You go from a massive vista over the Pacific, where there’s nothing between you and Japan to nice tightening curves between the hills, dodging the logging trucks as you gain altitude. Snow normally hits the high ground in early November on this particular leg, so this is a Summer only pleasure. The Mutt is going into cold storage in the garage until the end of April 2020, so I’ll be making the most of all the sunshine we have left until October.

I was rather hoping that the warmer weather would continue for a while, but like I said, it’s raining and I’m no longer happy to don waterproofs and duke it out with everything the British and European sky can hand out. Never mind the Canadian weather. Yes, you can call me a wuss, but over the years I’ve ridden in everything from blazing heat waves where the mercury casually blew past the hundred and ten Fahrenheit (Forty three Celsius) marker to thunderstorms, torrential downpours where the rain meets itself coming back up, cannonball pea sized hail and even near whiteout blizzards. I’ve come home soaked to the skin through full waterproofs and on a couple of occasions with my leathers covered in a quarter inch of ice. So. Been there, done that, not dumb enough to want to do it again.

One of the benefits of my current age is experience and what I consider a little hard won wisdom. So there.

Don’t panic

I mean it. My own life has taught me that the biggest killer out there is panic. Flailing or running around and shouting will not help. So don’t do it. Trust me on this. A cool head will get you through more scrapes than being a drama queen and expecting other people to take up the slack. Indeed I have found my own personal policy of walking softly and taking a step back when faced with the unfamiliar and occasionally dangerous has often gotten me out of a tight corner.

In this vein we’re having to think ahead with regard to Elderly Friend. Her rapid slide into dementia has both us and the care home thinking that she’s not long for this world. She may even die while we’re in London. So. Funeral home fees and arrangements have to be checked, funds set aside for end of life care, nursing etc. All that stuff you get the joy of as power of attorney. However, this is the job we signed up for and it has to be done. The grunt work of signing off on those details like funeral services and ensuring the right ashes go in the right urn. Just in case.

However, a little foresight has often proven useful too because it’s of limited use being cooler than liquid Nitrogen if the ground is literally crumbling under your feet. Having a fallback option, just in case, isn’t needed that often, but I like them as they are very reassuring. Doesn’t have to be much, just simple stuff. For example, on road trips, I carry enough first aid stuff to be able to suture moderate wounds and stop bleeds whilst being able to provide some form of pain relief or sluice out a dust afflicted eyeball or contaminated cut. My credit cards are kept separately in case I get my wallet nicked. We always have double travel insurance and I never enter a place unless I already know where the best exit is. Mrs S often jocularly chides what she calls my ‘paranoia’, but despite the odd minor faux pas it’s been a long, long time since I was caught properly left footed.

We’ve gotten lost in the wilds of Ontario with dwindling fuel, but not unrecoverably so. We’ve lost money on investments, I lost five thousand dollars on three particular stocks last year, but more than made it back on others and spent a meagre two fifty on advice of how to set the loss against tax. Then made all my money back and then some on the same stocks by June this year. We try to invest across a wide spread, never put all our fiscal eggs in one basket and try not to panic if there’s a short term drop in the market like over the New Year 2018-9.

Because having at least one alternative is way better than being caught with your financial unmentionables around yer ankles. So it is with a WTO or ‘No deal’ Brexit. Now being a suspicious sort when it comes to news media, reading all the “Noooo! We’re all going to DIE!!” nonsense being peddled even in the FT. I really am thinking of cancelling my subscription. Fortunately I have my own sources. So I did a little digging.

Here’s what I found; imports will not grind to a halt. There are structures already in place to allow imports without delays at all major UK ports. Same for exporters. If you don’t already know, then you haven’t been listening. The tax authorities have been ready for a no deal scenario for over two years. I got that via Pinsent Mason (Major UK law firm who deal in international law by the way). Also from the guy who has just transferred out from being in charge of the port of Dover says they’re ready for ‘No deal’. HMRC have set up 190+ ‘pop up’ customs posts, in addition to the normal ports facilities who deal with clearing import and exports. The only problems will be from EU customs, so you’re more likely to run out of Cheddar at Calais than Brie and Avocados in Birmingham. Besides, where in the EU grows Avocado’s for heaven’s sake? Oh yes, France and Spain. The Netherlands are a major distribution hub and exporter, but don’t actually grow any. The major growers range from Israel to Mexico, New Zealand to Kenya, then there’s Colombia, Morocco, South Africa and the USA. Can’t get your Dutch Avocado? Fine, there are plenty more sources out there with produce to sell. Cut out the EU middle man. Ship direct from the growers, and don’t think there aren’t deals already being cut by the buyers for Messrs Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and Sainsbury.

Even if the EU embargoes all imports to and from the UK, remember this; they need the UK markets more than the UK needs the EU. Never mind not getting a GBP39 billion payday, if they tried cutting UK Plc off without a cent they’d bankrupt a large proportion of their own internal economy. According to a financial report I read 12th September 2019, the European Central Bank is going to cut interest rates and start printing money, a failed policy by the way, which has already hit the Euro. Internally, they are already in trouble.

For expat UK pensioners in European countries (No names, no pack drill) this drop in the Euro means their UK pension will be worth more as the pound sterling will buy more. Expats I know they have been hit badly because of all the Remainer panicmongering driving the value of sterling down at least twelve percent lower than it should be. It would be nice to see them better off.

Me, I don’t put my faith in state pensions, mainly because I like to know where my money is and what it’s up to. As well as the payout of any given state pension being less than likely to support me in the style to which I wish to become accustomed in my forthcoming frail dotage. Also because I don’t trust politicians, any of them, not to plunder public coffers for their own short term gain. They can buy votes with someone else’s dime.

Oh yes, and I’ve finally bowed to Mrs S over buying a new cell phone so she can keep tabs on me, investing in a dual sim Samsung A20 with case and armoured glass.

Looking ever more forward to London, when I will be trying to console those of the Remain faction I encounter by speaking soothingly and gently holding their hands to reassure them.

Why specifically hold their hands? Just to make sure none of the nasty little sods manage to take a swing at me. Like I said, foresight.

Fifty years ago…

July 1969, I was a science fiction loving schoolboy experiencing a feeling I have rarely felt since hearing the words “The Eagle has landed.” All around the world people shared this emotion and danced with joy as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin piloted their Lunar Excursion Module dubbed ‘Eagle’ down from lunar orbit to the regolith of the lunar sea of tranquility.

My Dad and Mum understood my obsession with all things space and allowed me to stay up well past my mandatory bed-time to watch it all happen. From the power and glory of that singular Saturn V launch where the sound was not just heard but felt, listening avidly to each voice only transmission, the TV programme animations and real time images of the command module docking with the LEM, to the disengagement in lunar orbit and down to the moon’s surface. The suspense of being unable to sleep waiting until the following day for Neil Armstrong to step off that ladder and utter those epic words, even if he did fluff his lines a little. Then there was the will they, won’t they suspense of the LEM being able to claw it’s way out of Lunar gravity and orbit for docking and the long journey home to our precious little blue marble. See the documentary below.

Now I come across occasional people who say that they believe the momentous events I was witness to did not happen. They have even gone so far as to publicly harass people who were actually there. However, I’d like to share a little video of what went down when they tried that to an astronauts face (With a few repeats – just for fun) Bless you Dr Aldrin.

No one can convince me that the events of fifty years ago did not occur because I was alive and I watched it all happen in real time. In a time when video fakery was primitive and easily spotted.

Those joyous memories of shared human triumph are etched across my soul as deeply as if carved there. To insist otherwise against all the available and extensive evidence is utterly pathetic. The abject narcissism of such a position is barely worthy of pity.

Excuse me. Now I’m off to have another nice day. I shall shortly be all suited and booted on my own terrestrial rocket ship.

Sorry officer, I was just trying to reach escape velocity.

Update:  or we could just watch the whole Apollo 11 moonwalk.

Remastered footage from the original mission.  thank you NASA.