Category Archives: Random Amusement

Trust issues

Excuse the lack of posting of late, but I’ve been up to my neck in UK financial issues. Banks, lawyers, all the usual shizzle. Everything has to be verified, documented, double checked and rechecked before the compliance people are happy. They trust nobody, but then again, neither do I any more. This isn’t paranoia, it’s experience. And all because my family trusted someone to do their job over three decades ago. However, there’s light at the end of this particular tunnel, and it’s not some bleeder with a torch bringing me yet more paperwork.

I see someone has breached their trust and forwarded on Donald Trumps 2005 1040 form (Client copy) to the mainstream media, who have found; shock! Horror! He paid the taxes he was supposed to for that year! Right, so he’s done nothing wrong. Nothing to see here, move along. Apart from the theft of legally protected paperwork, which should not have been released until the IRS completed their tax audit. Not that the lamestream media can be trusted with anything.

Some reporters still just don’t get it, as with this interview with French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

Trust has been dropping like a rock with mainstream media sources all over the world for over twenty years. And with good reason. The mainstream has become less trustworthy, deciding what to report and how to represent those stories. It has fallen prey to the triple poison of bias, groupthink and manipulation. Not that it was ever immune. So much so that stories presented in a particular way get automatically cascaded through all the ‘professional’ outlets. Others are ignored or shuffled to a couple of lacklustre paragraphs on page 7. Mountains become molehills, and vice versa, it’s all in the presentation.

Matters have gotten to the point that Mary-Rose Papandrea, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law has stated: “The American public is hostile to the media. Every news outfit should be very afraid of what a jury will do,” from this article. Specifically over a slanted ABC ‘News’ comment that a meat company sold ‘pink slime’. And this is one example of only a few. Remember Christopher Jeffries? Unfairly defamed by eleven news outlets. Piers Morgan’s editorship of the Daily Mirror and the infamous fake cover of ‘British soldiers’ beating up an Iraqi to name but three?

It’s all too easy for those with the mouthpiece to defame dissenting voices, labelling them ‘Rednecks’ and other such denigrations, yet come over all precious, clutching at their pearls in horror when the proles won’t swallow their misrepresentation wholesale. I mean, how dare the public not believe? How could they?

For myself, I was brought up to be cynical by my parents, who knew all too well what happened if you talked to a reporter with an agenda. So when contacted by the BBC in 2006 for an interview over my then work blogging, I rapidly backtracked after yet more high profile bloggers were ‘Doxxed’, that is, their real names and details were published. At the time I was on my uppers and seriously needed the money my erstwhile job brought in, so couldn’t afford to get fired. So unlike others I declined my fifteen minutes and slunk cautiously back into the alleys and side streets of my genesis.

Then there have been many misrepresentations over BREXIT, the US elections and a whole lot more. The reporting so biased that even the politicians are taking notice. Anyone even vaguely right of centre is being painted as a villainous thug, even when all they want is to restore a little balance. While others seem to be given a free pass because of the colour of their skin or religion. This view is spreading. Seems like I’m not the only one.

Yet who is to blame? Well, there’s only one answer, the Western mainstream media. They have been like kittens with several balls of wool as far as the truth goes, trying to shape it to tell a particular tale and just leaving a tangled mass of misrepresentation and omission. By their antics they’ve made the most wild eyed conspiracy theorist look like Bertrand Russell. Which makes me surprised that they can lie down straight in their own beds.

Speaking of beds, I’m finally beginning to sleep more than five hours a night as my particular tangled web becomes more organised. Other people have created a legal and financial mess which Ma Sticker’s youngest (Me) has been helping tidy up, but it’s not been without personal cost. As Mrs S commented yesterday, I’ve physically aged ten years in the last eighteen months, to which I’ve responded; “Add another century to that in terms of cynicism.”

Now I trust no-one. Especially not in the news media. Because they have proven themselves untrustworthy.

On the nature of custard

Some like it cold,
Some like it hot,
Some dab while others smother,
And with a simple, yellow blot,
Robert’s one’s father’s brother.

Excuse me rewriting Nancy Tyler’s old saw, but I often remind myself how much I like custard. Not the thin runny nightmare of School dinners long years past, but of a thick yellow comfort food which lubricates any pie, cobbler, crumble or steamed pudding down into the digestive tract like a greased pig off Teflon. There are many versions, from the almost white sauces with a huge hit of Vanilla to the golden lusciousness of which I write, made with Mr Birds famous custard powder. Which is a strange substance, given to exploding and people have even been known to walk on it. At General Foods in Banbury 1981, some actually detonated, the explosion being strong enough to blow the factory wall out and injure 8 people. So, handle with respect. This is not a safe cooking space.

I belong to the thick custard end of the spectrum, because thin custard, as anyone who has partaken of a pre 1980’s UK school dinner will know, runny custard is an abomination and not fit for polite society. Thick custard is far more versatile and as well as generally being more tasty, can be moulded and even sliced by those inculcated into the culinary mysteries that even the Freemasons and other so-called ‘secret’ societies never tell you about. I’ve even heard it whispered that some chefs crust it over like Crème Brûlée, which is basically a fancy custard tart without pastry, and consume it in guilty secrecy so that the waiting staff will not look down their noses at them. Because custard is, well, too English, and English cookery is très inférieur, non?

Which is a nonsense. French cooking is good, but when it comes to stews and roasts English cuisine matches the English climate, in that it is bucolic, robust and hearty. Both the French and English traditions have their specific strengths, but neither reigns supreme. Each has a place. Just like sometimes you want the brash horseradish heat of Colemans English Mustard with roast beef where the spicier Dijon or German mustards just won’t do. Or a decent crumbly Blue Stilton where Roquefort is too pungent and Danish Blue too greasy.

This is where English style custard raises a triumphant two primitive fingers against all the food critics. It has no pretensions, no finesse, it just is. The trick is not too much custard powder and just enough sugar. I find a 50/50 mix does the trick, adding just enough whole milk, not skimmed, 1% or 2% but full cream, to give your custard the rich creaminess that is the hallmark of this viscous gold.

To make really thick custard for slicing when cold:

Ingredients:
One heaped teaspoon of Birds Custard powder
The same amount of white granulated sugar
One drop of Vanilla extract
One and a half cups whole cream milk

Method:  
Mix custard powder and sugar together, add a little of the milk to make a smooth yellow paste. Heat the rest of the milk on a small one pint pan over a medium heat until it begins to bubble at the edges.
Now add the custard and sugar paste in the pan, stirring gently.
Or
Decant hot milk into bowl with custard and sugar paste. Mix. Now return to the saucepan and put back on heat.
Now add one drop of vanilla extract, no more.

Keep stirring gently, or your custard will become full of lumps as the cornstarch in the mix binds too quickly and no one will love you ever again because it has been scientifically proven that those who make lumpy custard are no good in bed. I use a whisk for the best results. Wearing Leather bondage gear is optional. Not PVC or leather substitute. Like with your custard, only the real thing will do.

When the mix is thick enough that a slow stirring motion briefly exposes the bottom of the pan, remove from heat and decant custard into a dish. At this point you can eat the custard hot with the pie or pudding of your choice, but I’ve another suggestion.

Leave the custard to cool for an hour until it has the consistency of jelly. remove from dish using a knife so it forms a dome. Now you have the choice of making a kind of fruit compote and pouring it over the solidified golden dome, or stewing some apple, leaving that to cool and, having sliced your solidified custard into quarter inch slices, put a layer of stewed apple between each slice. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar, ground cinnamon and perhaps even nutmeg if you’re feeling posh. Bung in the fridge for half an hour. Serve. Or keep it for yourself. You’re worth it. I give you permission to caramelise with one of those rinky dinky little blowtorches. Tell me how you got on because I haven’t bought one yet.

Yes, Jordan Peterson says you must embrace your inner monster so you never have to use it, but I say, don’t just give your inner monster a kiss and a big hug, take it by the hand and drag it into the bedroom. Well made custard will enable you to do this. Honestly.

Told you so… again

Well, the writing on the wall is now appearing for the latest ‘Gluten free’ fad diet in a recent study of 30 years data. Well, colour me surprised. Not. Another fad diet bites the Broccoli.

That’s the thing with fad diets, they take little or no notice of actual facts. Now if you have the flattening of villi in the small intestine that indicates Coeliac disease, a lot of Gluten is not fun. Lots of abdominal issues including distension, dire rear, discomfort and a tendency to huge flabby woof-woofs await (As well as upping your ‘Carbon Footprint’). Besides, that’s only a problem for the one percent of the population with a genetic predisposition to the disease who have to lay off the sarnies. The rest of us are quite safe. Although too high a proportion of grain based food in the diet isn’t the best thing for you, so maybe cutting back on the breads and pastries isn’t that bad an idea. As for too much Gluten causing Coeliac disease, well, doubt has been cast upon that assertion.

According to the head of the study behind this news item, Dr Geng Zong, a ‎Research Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston:

“Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fiber and other micronutrient [such as vitamins and minerals], making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more,”

Which is what we see in the supermarkets, like with the fad over ‘Superfoods’ and the otherwise inedible Kale, which some people rave about. ‘Rave’ being the operative word here, or maybe ‘unhinged’ would be better. Fixating on one’s diet to the exclusion of all else isn’t good for you, physically or mentally. That way lies OCD.

As for Kale, it’s one of those things I was once persuaded, much against my good judgement, to eat. But honestly after one prickly mouthful found wasn’t worth the effort. I’d class it as one of those foods you only need to eat if there’s nothing else in the larder and every shop within a fifty mile radius has sold out and shut down for the next forty eight hours. Yes, it’s got minerals and vitamins, but so has a brick. Oh yes, and depending upon where it’s grown, can contain significant levels of the toxic metal Thallium. I’m told that it used to be popular in Scotland. Which would explain much about the Scots.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a nice brace of steaks ageing in the fridge calling my taste buds. That’s a low gluten diet fixation with flavour.

Can’t give it away

In the past three days I’ve had two sales calls from my local Internet Service Provider offering me Cable TV. Both times I have declined, and asked them, quite pointedly not to ask me the question again. Which my last remaining reader might think odd, because in their desperation to increase their CableTV subscriptions the Cable company were offering quite a financially attractive package. No contract. Ten bucks a month off my Internet and phone bill. Pretty please with sugar on it. Pur-lease buy.

On the second call, when asked why I didn’t want to effectively be paid to have the service, I essayed a chuckle and opined that CableTV was “Crap that you couldn’t pay me to watch.”

I don’t need Cable TV anyway, because all the news I need is out there on the jolly old Interweb, and I’m quite capable of reading and listening for myself without having overpaid people telling me how to think and feel about a given situation. The Weather news I get direct from Service Canada. The Financial news direct from the markets themselves. There are some other excellent reasons for not bothering with Cable TV like;

  • I don’t watch sports
  • I don’t watch Fox, CNN, or MSNBC
  • I don’t watch anything on our TV until at least 7:30PM, and then I only have a series or a movie on as background while I read a book
  • Most of Cable TV is dire and chock full of adverts for stuff I’ll never want or need
  • The ‘News’ is all third hand Op-eds and therefore useless

Seriously, if I want the financial news there are far better real time sources online to base my decisions upon. If I want real news there are far better sources than Cable. Honestly. It all depends what I’m looking for. As for analysis, don’t make me laugh. These services are little better than paid mouthpieces for the guy with the deepest wallet or the most useful idiots.

So it doesn’t matter how much they discount the price, I will not be taking a Cable TV subscription. Because it’s so bad and obviously slanted now that the service providers can’t even give it away. Well, at least not to an old cynic like me.

Snow more no

Well, that was quick. The snow and ice outside has gone, washed into the gutters by a more seasonal rain. Last night was a bit wild and woolly, with wind and rain rattling the gutters and whistling around the eaves, but nothing we haven’t had before.

Various sagas trickle on in the background. Nothing all good, but nothing all bad either. I’m planning fallback measures for as many eventualities as I can against the constant background motion of moving goalposts trying to open a Sterling bank account from Canada. Oh what a complete mess of spaghetti it all is. As soon as one form is correctly filled in, some functionary comes back with “Errr, this wasn’t on the form, but…” Which leaves me hurriedly scrambling around, begging obscure answers off people who send me up a blind alley of ‘confidentiality’. It almost seems like some factions are trying to turn the administrative clock back to the early 1950’s when nationalisation was all the rage. Like they want to outlaw the individual choice that drives successful economies back into the financial dark ages. No matter. Nothing is impossible and I console myself thus; if it were that straightforward, everyone would be doing it.

Down in the Juan De Fuca I’ve noticed a lot of Canadian Naval activity of late. Today was a Frigate, some kind of Corvette / Minesweeper and a diesel powered Submarine with a smoking exhaust. They’re either on exercise or trying to stop all the anti-Trumpettes attempting a very chilly 18 kilometre swim to Canada. Not that Bryan Cranston, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Barbara Streisand, Miley Cyrus, Raven-Symone, Neve Campbell and Chloe Sevigny have actually done so. Whether the aforementioned are part of the 28 (!) people from the US who have filed for refugee status with Canadian immigration I am unable to say. Although perhaps the hypocrisy is strong with them. anti-trump-refugees-fleeing-to-canadaSo maybe the patrols are working as a deterrent or the colder Winter weather here on the Canadian Riviera has something to do with it. Perhaps trying the old Jedi mind trick at the 49th parallel wasn’t such a super wheeze?

Who knew, eh?

Over the moon

Just heard the news. SpaceX is going to the moon late 2018. Two paying passengers will be doing an Apollo 8 type mission which won’t actually land, but will take a Dragon Capsule for a couple of Lunar orbits before doing a slingshot back to Earth orbit.

My inner child has just popped his tousled head up from his ‘Space Heroes of 1971’ annual and is currently punching the air and painting imaginary pictures.spacex-moon-mission-artistic-impression like this one. Which is essentially a collage of three public domain images. As for a landing, well, that may have to wait a couple of years if Musk and his merry men are involved. He’s hired some talented people and they’ve fixed the tail first landing issues. So a Lunar landing may follow. And space tourism. Or more likely a ‘space bus’ service which can get people from orbit to the moon with a weather eye on a manned Mars mission.

Another part of me is going; “Some good news at last!” because I don’t want to know about all the bullshit about ‘fixing the problems down here before we send some rich dudes around the moon on a joyride’. I hated those kind of anti-space exploration arguments when I first heard them at school almost forty five years ago and I think anyone who voices them knows next to nothing about humanity. Earth will always have the same problems of poverty, war, disease, hatred and inconvenient migraines.

Stopping a space programme until we all live in some impossible utopia where everyone is happy will mean we’ll be waiting to get off this third rock from the sun a long, long time. Probably never. Did the Wright Brothers wait until the problems of the world were fixed before hoiking their ungainly machine to Kittyhawk and launching it along some rickety wooden rails? No. Did any Victorian era explorer stop as they were about to pull out of home harbour and say; “Sorry lads. Trips off. Someone’s poor old Aunt Gertie has a sick kitten.” Of course not.

Every argument I’ve ever heard about space exploration being a ‘waste of money’ has turned out to be complete bollocks. If humanity hadn’t sent satellites and manned missions into space we’d know next to nothing about the Van Allen Radiation belts and the Earth’s magnetic shield. There would be no GPS, no pictures of the Earth from the moon that gave fuel to the Environmental movement. Never mind about all the innovations and indirect spin offs in materials technology. Space exploration does one thing which we could never have done without it. It gives us a greater awareness of ourselves in the cosmos, and even if we are only An invisible dot on an invisible dot.” At least because of our faltering steps into the night, we will come to know what we are and can get a better perspective on some of the worse ideas down here.

If Elon Musk and his team can pull it off, good for him. I think they can.

Woodwork and nail guns

Well that’s it, the Drinks cabinet is finished and the house smells of varnish and woodstain, which will go away after a few days. Frankly I’ve stopped noticing it already. Everything works and Mrs S has a better looking reading corner. Job done.

One nice surprise was my electric stapling gun. An Arrow ETF50PBN, which is fine for what I need it for, and makes stapling domestic cable runs a breeze. Only good for softwoods though, but I don’t need anything heavy duty. What amused me was it is able to shoot nails too. Well, one type of nail, a 5/8th inch BN1810 to be precise which will require a last tap with a light hammer to drive home, but this is good. I now have a capability I didn’t think I had. No more bent nails because my hammering technique is on a par with a Tourettes sufferer with a bad case of sleep deprivation, and using a nail gun there’s no denting of the wood.

Home Depot still stocks the nails and staples, so despite being over fifteen years old my electric stapler / nail gun will do all I need it for. Which was the final nailing of the finished back over the rear of our pine drinks cabinet. This final phase took longer because I stained the outer skin, so that was another two hours drying time out in the garage (We have a garage! For the first time in absolute yonks!), so fixing the back happened about seven pm last night.

The new home is taking better shape after six weeks. Pictures are finally going up on walls with more to do. Mrs S and I are discussing ways to make the place look a little more homelike, a little less stark whilst retaining the lack of clutter and not spending a bloody fortune. Things have been worse.

eutanic-rock-and-a-hard-placeI’m also keeping a weather eye on the currency markets and looking at taking a serious (for me) short position on the Euro. The Euro is going to take a big hit over the next few months due to the French and Dutch elections because of the strong showing Euro-sceptic candidates of Le Pen in France and Wilders in the Netherlands garnering popular support. The news coming out of Sweden and France regarding Immigrant riots and the large uptick in sex crime will give them extra momentum. So it’s a fairly safe bet to say that if the Euro sceptics don’t win, they will at least come in a close second. In the meantime, I’ll be shorting the Euro. I may lose a bit at first, but what with BREXIT looking a bit more steady, the EUtanic will be going down and I’ll be able to trade out at a reasonable profit. We may even see the return of the Franc and Guilder. That will be interesting.

Another little bit of woodwork

Well, I’ve reached the half way point in the Drinks Cabinet project and proved to Mrs S yet again, that she may be married to one of the world’s few real multi-tasking men. Even if I had to cheat a bit. Having said that I think I’ve perfected my recipe for fish stew, but the Lemon and Garlic Couscous to go with it needs a little work. Less lemon, a spot of butter, and a trifle more seasoning with a scattering of finely chopped bell peppers should do it. I’ll post the method and ingredients under cooking for conspiracy theorists when I’ve nailed it all down.

drinks-cabinet-during-01A small job popped in via email and was quickly dealt with, then I busied myself with the usual chores and a bit of furniture redistribution before removing the shonky looking backing of the cabinet to expose the rebate (See before and after pictures). Why someone fitted that rubbishy looking 3/8th inch square Cedar beading in there is beyond me. I took it out anyway.

drinks-cabinet-during-02Next was staining one side of the inner back section and giving it a double coat of varnish. While that was drying, I fitted a small LED strip light under the shelf, running the cable to the left and left rear of the cabinet out of the back. Then once the inner panel was dry, I dropped it into place and fixed with a few panel pins and some carpenters glue. In the words of Cinderella overheard by palace servants just after her wedding to Prince Charming “It fits! OMG! IT FITS!” Have you any idea what they were up to? Me neither.

drinks-cabinet-during-03So how far have we got? Well, not much further to go. I’ve sanded the outer panel and got rid of the labels and manufacturing stain. The light fitting works nicely, and I should be finished by supper time tomorrow. No more groping around in the semi darkness of the single malt lottery and having to squint at wine labels for us. Although the wine rack is empty as we’ve been buying 3 litre boxes of reasonable Australian and Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignons for the last few months. Which saves all the fuss and palaver with Wine Savers and other such widgets if you just aren’t in the mood to quaff a full bottle.

I’ll restock properly in a month or two when the weather improves enough for an afternoon glass or three out on the deck watching shipping drift past along the Juan De Fuca and trying to ignore all the panicky hand waving over something someone has said on the Interweb, or Donald Trumps latest policy implementation, or BREXIT, and possibly even a FREXIT if the French electorate decides to bet on Ms Le Pen. That could be fun.

In the meantime that’s it really. Same stuff, different day. Life plods on.

A little bit of woodwork

Things have slacked off on the work and financial front. Documents have all been signed, funds transferred and nothing mission critical is going to happen for the next month (I hope). So there’s not much for me to do and frankly I’m tired of listening to the mess Trudeau and all the other Liberal (Hah!) politicians are making with their virtue signalling (instead of doing the more mundane but important stuff like not spending so much) and trying to tell everyone else what they can and cannot think, the dickheads. So I’ve decided to immerse myself in a little woodwork.

There’s something soothing about natural wood and I’ve always had a penchant for a little DIY since getting my Grade 1 in woodwork at school. Something about patiently working with the grain and texture that fully engages the hands and mind, focusing the attention on minutia, driving out all the negative shit that silts up the daily consciousness. The gentle rhythmic motion of hand sanding, staining and finishing soothes the head, smoothing over all your own roughened edges and allowing a little time to put all your mental dominoes in the right order, letting the right bits of your mental jigsaw fall into their correct places and lower the blood pressure. It’s an exercise that is worth all the pills and potions in the world, and probably much better for you.

drinks-cabinet-beforeAnyway, the project I’ve begun is the improvement of a cabinet we bought two years ago. The main body of which is solid pine, which looks great, but like so much Canadian furniture the back is thin, tatty and unfinished. The current back is some very rough looking plywood which doesn’t even cover the whole back, and since we’re using the unit as a room divider, this needs ‘tidying up’. So the current back, which is frankly a bit of a bodge job (See picture), has to go.

What I’m doing is very simple. I’m removing the old and rough 3/16ths plywood and rather shabby looking beading, and replacing it with a double layer of 1/4 inch finished plywood into a rebate already cut into the pine. Which will make for a more solid back with a nicer finish, even if it does make the whole unit about ten kilos heavier. When I’m done we won’t be looking at a cheap and tatty bit of rough plywood back which needs covering with a backcloth, but a simple solid and plain looking piece of nicely finished wood grain in keeping with the antique knotty pine front and sides. Nothing fancy, although I might be tempted to add some light 1/8th inch pine beading around the edges at a later date. It all depends on the end result. So long as it looks neat and tidy when I’m done.

So far the inner layer has been cut, sanded and stained and I’m waiting for the varnish to dry before removing the ugly old (and much more fragile) cabinet backing to pin and glue the inner layer in place. Then I’m going to sand the outer piece to a fine finish on the edges, sand, stain, varnish and fix with panel pins and glue. Like I say, this is nothing complicated, just a gentle exercise in improving on a previous bodge job.

While I’m at it, I’m also fitting a small LED light internally to illuminate my single malts and the wine rack. So we’ll have a much more functional piece of kit than before. Not bothering with a motion sensor, just a simple bar light and switch.

Doing stuff like this, at least for me, helps clear the mind and improve decision making. Which is nice. More on this project later.

Just received

An email just dropped into my inbox containing the following:

HM Government believes the President of the United States should be extended the full courtesy of a State Visit. We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangements are finalised.

HM Government supports this petition.

During her visit to the United States on 27 January 2017, the Prime Minister, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, invited President Trump for a State Visit to the UK later this year. The invitation was accepted. This invitation reflects the importance of the relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom. At this stage, final dates have not yet been agreed for the State Visit.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Well, now watch the thwarted toddlers of the fascist left permanent student class and their fellow travellers burst a blood vessel over this petition to allow Donald Trump a state visit to the UK.

In other words the decision is already made. Not that I’m going to watch, but rather enjoy the schadenfreude of watching all those out-takes of fuming rioters have a collective public stroke over the visit of a friendly head of state to the UK. Couldn’t happen to a bunch of nicer (?!?) people. Except they’re not nice at all. Not by any measure of the word. Neither pleasant nor scrupulous. Rather the opposite. That much is obvious.

What I would like to do is address the following remarks to those who think it’s okay to smash places up because they can’t have their way and never voted anyway. Please, please do go off and scream kiddiewinks. That nasty old Trumpy man is coming to the UK whether you like it or not. Go throw Teddy out of the pram. Go have your childish self indulgent petulant fit. Wet yourselves in public. Wail, scream, cry. No one really cares. Your side lost the vote, now build a bridge and get over it. Besides, nobody really likes you. Not even you. And that is your own self-perpetuating tragedy.

To everyone else; Happy Valentines day.