Waiting…

Mrs S; “Lovely day.” (She turns, advances to front door.) “Inspiring prospects. Time to go out” (She turns to William.) “Let’s go.”
Bill Sticker: “We can’t.”
Mrs S: “Why ever not?”
Bill Sticker: “We’re waiting for Canada Post.”

Excuse me channelling Samuel Beckett, but I’m still waiting for my book order to arrive when the official delivery date was 25th July. Now the gaping void on my bookshelves sings a siren lament every time I pass, achingly begging for fulfilment. It pulls at me like a gravitational singularity, pulling my gaze first to the gap, thence to the void on our front doorstep. A promised space stares at me accusingly. I feel its hunger like a gape in my belly. So potent it’s almost sexual. An unfilled bookshelf is a terrible thing. It haunts, accuses, points and says; “Fill me!” with the urgency of a lover in heat. Thwart it at your peril.

Another victim of Canada Post Will the postman eventually leave my package on the doorstep while we’re out, or one of those faux-cheery accusatory little cards saying; “We tried to deliver your package, but you were out. Pick it up at your local postal depot next week.” Next week! No, no! I wasn’t out, I was here, waiting. I’ve been good. Honestly. Eagerly anticipating my orders arrival with an acid sense of anticipation, ears pricked. Listening for the faintest thump on the doorstep which will announce my books arrival. Afraid to go out less I miss the slightest clue. Hoping against hope that my package has not been delivered to another household, where my precious purchases will be treated with contempt by someone else who is not capable of appreciating their contents, or horror beyond measure, callously left out in the rain, wrapping soaked and wood pulp pages beginning to rot, for my package to be picked up by the delivery person next time they pass for redelivery. If they ever do.

I’m driving my wife nuts.

Update 5th August 2016 12:48pm: All ten books have arrived.  My bookshelf is now whole.

Going fishing

Trout fishing the lakes with brother in law up island tomorrow, as it’s a long weekend and Monday is a public holiday over here. Today I’ll make time to pop over to Canadian Tire to stock up on Steelhead trout and Smallmouth bass lures, as most of my gear is for salt water. Brother in law is a fly fisherman. I prefer spinners. What with the recent warm weather, I think the fish will be hugging the bottom and be too sluggish to rise for a fly, so my lures have to go deep.

Mrs S and her sister are going to have a picnic nearby, so they can natter and criticise our casting technique. So, picnic basket is being readied, finger food prepared. Although to be honest perhaps it’s best to let sis-in-law buy her own picnic stuff. She can be a bit picky, and has to watch what she eats because of the Statins and low salt regime she’s on.

The only threat to our plans are the forecast thunderstorms for Monday. Oh well, if the fishing is a washout we know a number of places for a decent lunch. Which with sister in law is too often a tense affair in case we say something she doesn’t like. Which can be anything from our holiday plans to what we choose for lunch. Heavy sigh. She can be very hard work.

At least when you go fishing, no one fusses about what your opinions are on a given topic, nor do the fish care what creed or colour you are or what you’re doing next year. It’s a simple hunter gatherer interaction and refreshingly free of human-induced complications and opinions. Which is probably why fishing is so enjoyable. Mr Rea and I agree on this, so it must be one of those universal truth thingies.

TTFN

Blogroll update

scriblerus border large… Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me. Well not quite but possibly. Who knows. This blog has been invited to, and accepted, membership of the Scriblerus coalition of blogs, which is an apolitical, loosely-based association for blogs of a certain quality, for a given value of ‘quality’. It’s also named after the enlightenment age Martin Scriblerus club, whose members included Johnathan Swift (Gullivers Travels), John Gay (Beggars Opera), and Alexander Pope.

Which simply means;
1. The blog is posted on more or less regularly or at least conveys the idea it is alive and kicking;
2. It’s varied, not just a single issue rant;
3. Though it might be political, the wing or shade doesn’t matter – only the quality of the blog matters;
4. It’s been around for a while and has a readership, no matter how small and dedicated;
5. The blogger can string more than two words together in a roughly articulate manner.

Apart from editing the order of the main blogroll, now retitled ‘Sundry Malcontents’, that’s it. All my fellow malcontents, rapscallions and downright scamps (The little tinkers) will be included on my link list for the edification and enlightenment of anyone who cares to drop by. Read, don’t read, like, don’t like, whatever. Have fun. Oh yes, and play nice.

How to eat an Elephant

Vaudeville comic. “I say, I say, I say! Have you seen my Elephant?”
Straight man. “I didn’t know you had one. Why do you have an Elephant? Is it a pet? Or are you just bragging?”
Vaudeville comic. “No, my dear chap, it’s for my lunch.”
Straight man. “Good god man, you must be hungry.”
Vaudeville comic. “I am. I am. Have you seen it?”
Straight man. “No good sir, but you’ve piqued my curiosity. How on Earth do you go about eating an Elephant?”
Vaudeville comic. “One slice at a time!” Ba-Boom!
Catch and eat elephant
Yerss… wellll. I’ve done it again. The realisation has sunk in that I’ve let my wife talk me into another mammoth (Groan. I know, I’ll get me coat) undertaking (Groan again) The Elephant in question is this three month European motorcycle tour for 2017. Mrs S as usual is dropping a good deal of the research in my lap and then when I’m just about to hit ‘Book’ on the accommodation booking site wants to take an entirely different route altogether. Also known as the “Oh Bill.” Manoeuvre. Which always leaves me with the sensation I’m following the Mrs Beaton recipe for Elephant a la Tanganyika (Serves 500), which not only requires half a tonne of star fruit and oranges for the sauce, but begins ‘first catch your elephant’.

Now the maps have arrived I’m reminded of the first round Europe tour we did on two wheels, which was a titch by comparison yet still took up slightly over three thousand miles in three weeks on my old 900ST. This version will be taking us almost three times as far in three months. Which is a much different ball game.

However, today I just saved myself well over three thousand dollars which is a little less Heffalump to scarf down. Let me explain. Touring motorcycles, even big ones like a 1215 Trophy, BMW KL1200T, Honda Gold Wing or ST1300 Pan European have a finite luggage carrying capacity. One of the solutions to improve the carrying capacity is to fit a tow bar and tow a small trailer. But these things, while popular in Germany and over here in North America, are expensive and leave rider and pillion vulnerable to people who are not particularly switched on. Here in North America, where on some roads you can go an hour without seeing another vehicle this isn’t a problem. In crowded old Europe it’s just more bike to be hit.

The saving comes from digging out my old water resistant ripstop nylon thirty inch duffel bag which will bungee and cargo strap neatly onto the rear top box platform of the Trophy whilst giving us at least thirty kilo’s of extra luggage capacity. It also gets us round several logistical concerns, like whether Air Canada will treat such a trailer as a separate vehicle and charge me another three thousand dollars on top of what I’ll already be coughing up for the air fares. Then there’s parking, overnight storage and security in the less secure environments we may find ourselves passing through. Better a single bag I can sling over my shoulder, Mrs S can take the electronics in my old weatherproof Belstaff backpack and I still have a bolt cutter resistant wheel lock and cable. I’ll spend some of the money I’ve saved by purchasing a proper tank bag and cover.

Overall this little epiphany may end up cutting at least five thousand dollars off my original trip budget, possibly even as much as seven. Which is money that can be put to other uses like upscale accommodation, and nicer country restaurants who don’t bat an eyelid at people who amble in from the car park wearing full motorcycle gear. Any of you who were alive and riding in the 1970’s and 80’s will recall the many ‘No Biker’ signs around every pub in the UK. Contrariwise, I have found continental Europe blessedly free of such blind prejudice.

The one dark spot on the horizon is a household disagreement over the current state of US politics. Mrs S thinks Hilary Clinton should be the next president of the USA, mainly because she’s female and a veteran politician. My view is that if I had a vote it would be for anyone but Hilary Clinton, precisely because she is a ‘veteran politician’, and thus part of the problem not the solution. She may have a ‘track record’ but so has a horse that’s run a lot of races and consistently come last. As an observation; during our road trip around the US, and latterly when we spent our last long weekend north of Seattle we saw lots of Bernie Sanders bumper stickers and lawn signs and quite a number for Donald Trump, even a few for Barack Obama, but absolutely no visible support for Hilary Clinton anywhere. From Washington State down through California and across to South Carolina. We saw no bumper stickers, lawn signs, billboards or anything. Well, perhaps her campaign has been pacing itself, or they were hiding off the main Interstates, but I’m not convinced.

Anyway, that’s someone else’s Elephant to eat. Hope they brought plenty of mustard and a bakery load of bread.

Maps and books

We’re busy buying books and maps at present, as our old stuff is way out of date, and when you’ve got a map of Europe blu-tacked to the kitchen wall with some brightly coloured bookmarks tags on, it’s easier to build up a mental picture of the route in your head and get an idea of the physical distances between places. Okay, the satnag might tell you it’s a three hour run down the Autobahn, but what about that interesting road over there leading off to who knows where? Does it loop back towards Magdeburg or Kiel? How far is it, and how fast can we do it without grinding the top off the sidestand or occasioning fits of hysterics from my pillion passenger and collecting speeding tickets? What do those squiggles tell you? Apart from that particular road has a lot of sharp bends.

Anyway, the maps and physical map books arrived arrived today, and are being deployed ready for the next phase, which is deciding precisely what is doable in terms of side trips and what is simply a bit of a slog just to tick off a place name. Google maps is all very well, but doesn’t take to having sticky labels put all over the screen and not getting them mixed up with other people’s stuff. Besides, where’s the adventure in that? As I’ve said before, we’re taking the roads less travelled and finding stuff which may not be on the main tourist trails.

Yay! Phone call from the Motorcycle store over at Esquimalt. Our helmets and jackets have arrived for trial fittings before I go visit the local Triumph dealership and rent one of their big bikes for a two day up-island trip in August. I’m also plugging the gaps in my Terry Pratchett book collection, including copies of his very underrated Johnny Maxwell trilogy. Which were scheduled to arrive today, but they’re coming in from the UK so when they actually turn up is anybody’s guess. The sun is shining and for the moment we’re on top of our work and courses. So far so good. Or as we used to say; “It’s a very nice day. Now watch some complete tit try and ruin it.”

Coffee envy

While others have been indulging in less than salutary pastimes like killing priests in Parish Churches (For which they were quite rightly shot dead on the spot), I have been indulging in a little friendly comment spat with Leg-Iron over at his place. It began with a surrealist video of a man being offered German coffee which ended up being solid in his cup. Which is a great way of making sure you can’t spill any.

Now I drink a lot of coffee. Good basic home ground Columbian, none of your pre-ground or (Horrified shudder) ‘instant’ coffee which I wouldn’t use, even to clean drains. Just over a pint (usually a gnats wossname under 500ml) each morning. See picture of my two mainly used coffee mugs below. The big NYPD mug holds around 750ml. Maybe a little more, and the yellow Cornwall mug on the right holds about 500ml, just over a pint or slightly under half a litre. Coffee mugs As proof, I filled each mug with water and decanted into the nearest measuring jug. The little Espresso cup in the middle is there simply to give an idea of scale and add an element of cuteness.

My morning coffee ritual is as follows; around half past eight I grind the beans in my conical burr grinder. Clean and load my percolator. Fire it up and just over five minutes later pour out my morning ration. Coffee stuff Not bitter like the stuff sold by Farcebucks, but smooth and muscular in the Canadian style. The flip side of which is where Mrs S is sometimes moved to remark after seeing that I’ve dashed off a significant part of my workload before 8am; “You did all that without coffee?” To which I give a knowing smile, knowing that providing there’s not too much blood in my caffeine stream I will be in reasonable humour until around three pm. Unlike the two priest-killers now deservedly roasting in hell. Along with all their other fellow travellers.

Achtung! Deutschland!

Road trip planning this weekend for May to July 2017. We’ve decided to take a nodal approach this time round, as opposed to the more traditional linear model of road trip. Translation: we’re planning to travel to one place for a week and stay, making mini-excursions for days out as opposed to the logistical nightmare of stopping every day or so on the road, packing and unpacking every other night, dodging from place to place to ‘do’ places like we’re ticking boxes like we recently did on our road trip around the USA.

We’re currently, as the title of this post suggests, planning our route through Germany and I keep reading about the upsurge in violent attacks from the Muslim population over there. Now I happen to feel sorry for the Germans, who on a number of previous visits in the 1980’s and 90’s I’ve found to be generally warm and welcoming people. This generosity of spirit currently seems to be rebounding on them as their chancellor has imported a whole tranche of ingrates who do not have the wit to integrate in their new home. To quote two recent examples; a Suicide bombing in a bar, a pregnant woman hacked to death for refusing the advances of a newcomer to name but two incidents from the last week. Never mind the much more well known attacks like the attack on train passengers. And these are just the ones we hear about. Then there’s the backlash.

It’s easy to dismiss the civilian response to the terror attacks with the ‘neo-nazi right wing racist’ label, but that’s not ‘right wing’ at all. Hint; many of the attackers are identified as Neo-Nazi. But hang on, isn’t that National Socialist? Hmm. Not exactly ‘right wing’ are they? Rightist politics are by definition not pro big government or even remotely socialist, whereas the attackers tend to be of a big government, pro socialist bent (Often with big, gothic letter tattoos). Therefore the correct description for many of these backlash attackers who are described as Neo-Nazi (and therefore Socialist) is actually ‘left wing racist’. Not to mention that the majority of these attacks seem to be happening in Eastern Germany, territory of the old DDR (the Socialist German Democratic Republic). Now tell me, wasn’t that a left wing regime up until 1989? Answers on a postcard. No prizes for getting the correct answer.

Not that I’m overly worried about these attacks impinging upon our trip, except maybe peripherally. I’m more concerned about crazy Italian drivers, caffeine-driven eastern European truckers and diesel spills. Defensive riding will get us past most problems on the road, but it’s the thoughtless dithering of distracted drivers that sends chills down my spine. They’re a far bigger threat to me and mine than any would be terrorist.

Notwithstanding we’re plotting our route through Germany to run from Southern Italy, probably catching a ferry to Split in Croatia before doglegging back to Venice via Trieste and hacking north through western Austria and Bavaria, south east Germany (Which we’re told is very scenic) into the Czech Republic, thence back across the border into Berlin and up into Denmark, possibly via Lubeck or Kiel. Now I’m fairly familiar with south western Germany, the Saarland and Rhine valley, but want to see how the East has fared since reunification during the 1990’s. We’ll also be touring off the Autobahns, as they’re generally filled with crazy people trying to achieve light speed in their Mercedes and BMW’s. Our style is going to be more of the bimbling and pootling variety along minor routes. The road less travelled. Mostly away from the madding crowds.

For those not familiar with the terms; to bimble or pootle means to meander (Walk, ride, drive) in an amiable and casual fashion, without undue haste, allowing plenty of time to stop and sightsee. Although Mrs S has observed that my version of bimbling can involve high speeds when warranted. Around some very twisty roads indeed. Or; as she once vouchsafed after a mildly throttle happy trip. “Sticker, you are a fiend.”

After that, the rough plan is to stop around Copenhagen so we can make forays into southern Sweden. I may even try to visit one of my cousins, who I’m told still lives in Gothenburg. Although she’s often elsewhere in the world. After that we’re discussing staying in Amsterdam and possibly Delft before sliding off to Bruges and back across the channel before getting back on the plane home.

Right. That’s the rough plan. Spirited discussions about where we’re going to stay and for how long have been had over the weekend, and no doubt will continue until I start putting money down, which isn’t going to happen until late August. This kind of trip takes time to organise if you don’t fancy taking your chances on accommodation. Berlin is by necessity going to be a weeks stay on its own. Likewise Copenhagen. The possible fracturing of the EU may well impact on our operational necessities, but being Canadian tourists, I don’t think it’s going to change our plans that much. At least not in the short to medium term.

Achtung Deutshland! Wir kommen. We’re coming. Oh yeah.

Trump card

Now that Donald J Trump is officially the Republican Presidential nominee I expect to keep hearing even more stories about people from south of the border (and I don’t mean Mexicans) threatening to move to Canada should he become President of the USA. Trust me chaps, it’s a bad idea. Honestly, as this cartoon by the irrepressible XKCD points out. Our Winters can get a bit brutal, especially in the Rockies and Eastbound. Which is why most of us prefer to snuggle up close to the 49th Parallel or thereabouts. Even here in the comparatively mild Maritime climate of the Pacific Northwest it can get decidedly chilly. Especially Campbell River and north.

Dont move to canada To begin with, north of the 49th parallel we do not enjoy the same diversity of goods as in the US of A. Grocery stores do not stock wine or even lite beer. Did I also mention it’s more expensive to live up here as well? Food and rent prices are generally higher, and property costs more to buy, even with the current exchange rate. A lot of places close on public holidays as well as Sundays and Mondays and Wal-Mart is no longer taking VISA payments in some of its stores. And if you want to shop at Target instead… oh, wait. You can’t. They’re all shut. Permanently. Then there’s the bears. Who aren’t to be messed with, even in the suburbs of Vancouver. They’re are also known to break into cars (To be fair, it was a Lexus). On the plus side, the wildlife does tend to keep the human varmints indoors, when they’re not indulging in the odd gang shooting (The gang bangers, not the Bears or Cougars). Which keeps our local Police busy. Yes, and Marijuana isn’t fully legal just yet. So before you sell up and fill up the U-Haul, take a deep breath.

Then there’s the Governance. It’s a bit more, well, intrusive if you know what I mean. Especially at the local scale. We might currently have a progressive prime minister, but no, Canada is not the progressive paradise you might think it is. Trudeau or no.

Don’t even mention the First Nations land claims or the endless prevaricating over relatively simple decisions like building a new sewage treatment facility for BC’s provincial capital. Or that our Provincial Prime Minister avoids coming to Victoria as much as possible because there’s “No real people” here (Which I find a bit insulting). Dear me no. A can of worms? More like truckloads. It’s why things move at a slower pace up here in the not so frozen north. Especially immigration.

However, we like it, but for Americans some of our more, ahem, eccentric practices might be too much of an an acquired taste. So are you damn Yankees absolutely sure you’re going to head north if, or more likely when, Donald Trump becomes the next US President?

What he said

Read this article penned (or rather keyed) by the ever logical Mr Willis Eschenbach over at Wattsupwithat.com. Which is a fine analysis of exactly how many people get killed by the Police in the USA and more to the point, why. It makes interesting reading. Especially the information that two ‘white’ people die in Police related incidents for every single ‘black’ or African American. That’s right, double the deaths that the BLM activists are all worked up about. Not percentages, but actual cold hard numbers.

Back in my foot patrol days I recall a conversation with my old beat buddy Asif. It’s still clear in my memory even ten years on. We were bitching about the job, and what we were thinking of doing with our lives instead of pounding pavement, collecting abuse and blisters for the sake of parking tickets. I suggested to him that he might make a first class dog handler in the Police Force. Seriously, never met a better man with animals. He loved dogs (Especially German Shepherds) and would have been brilliant at it. Asif, as his pseudonym implies, is not ‘white’. Lovely bloke, but his own worst enemy.
He demurred, responding; “Yeah, but the Police beat up black people.”
To which I half-jokingly replied; “The Police beat up everybody. It’s their job.”
To my shame I was never able to convince him otherwise. He had this peer group driven belief that the Police arrested by skin colour alone instead of criminal behaviour and nothing would shift it. Sad really.

On a more serious note, I think there’s traction here for the various Police Unions in the USA to start some class action lawsuits against media and other organisations that exaggerate and twist the facts over Police related deaths. The proceeds from which should pay the college funds for the dependants of officers killed in the line of duty because of such propaganda. Hey, Gloogle, Farcebook and Twatter have billions. Maybe they should form a financial trust for the families of officers killed in the line of duty, seeing as it’s their platforms that are used to transmit much of the anti-Police rhetoric.

Just general stuff

Well that’s the beginning of our next big trip sorted out. Two new touring jackets and helmets, body armour etc. Matching his and hers ordered. Pricey, but I’ve got the money having made a good deal over the weekend, despite being out of the country. After that I pulled my assets out of stocks and shares because I’m concerned the US market may be close to peak, and don’t fancy losing all my gains if there’s a Wall Street Crash event while I’m busy elsewhere. So, a little profit taking has been done, and I’m standing back for a moment to catch my breath and see what’s going on in the background.

One of the people I’ve begun listening to a lot is Mark Blyth (See sample talk below)

He actually seems to have his finger on the pulse, talking clearly and concisely about macroeconomic matters and their consequences. He’s rational, logical, amusing, down to earth and makes an otherwise difficult topic, so often clouded with politically motivated bamboozlement by the doctrinaire, sound so simple. Save, don’t save, export, trade balances, assets, liabilities he covers a great swath of the worlds economic ills and their root causes. One to follow.

crow and half mastSo, we’re back from the northwestern USA, having seen a lot of flags flying at half mast in memory of the five murdered Dallas Police officers. Every Police station, city hall, fire department and quite a few businesses we saw were flying the stars and stripes thus. Which leads me into a puzzlement. How does whipping up others to kill Policemen advance the cause of the BLM activists? That’s a completely counter intuitive strategy, rather like fucking to increase virginity. Add to that the knowledge that a good many of the class warriors stirring things up are northern European in appearance. In short, what we used to call ‘rent-a-mob’. Turning up at any protest to scream and shout mainly because it gives their miserable lives a perverse sort of meaning.

Not that we saw much of their antics. Near the place we spent last weekend, we observed a great many people blundering around peering intently at their dumbphone screens, headphones on, almost oblivious to the outside world. Apparently many are engrossed in an online game called ‘Pokemon Go‘. Even to the point of playing while driving. Which may qualify them for a Darwin award. One man in New York state is known to have wrapped his car around a tree while playing (I’m surprised he’s the only one reported thus). Stories are emerging of players wandering aimlessly into busy traffic and various Police forces have issued safety warnings. There have been no reported fatalities as yet, but it’s early days. The shallow end of the gene pool always gets emptied first.

As for the Nice attack, words fail me. Well, apart from thinking how pointless it was. Like with Paris last year, we’re not changing next years travel plans for it.

Gosh, is that my cynicism? I was wondering where I’d left it.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada; a.k.a. A Sarcastic man abroad

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