Sleepless on Vancouver Island Part 1

Have you ever been so tired you read the word ‘Local’ as ‘Lolcat’? Are your reaction times so slow you make a stoned out hippie look like he’s got the reflexes of a cobra fighting mongoose? Had bags under your eyes so big you feel like Customs, Homeland Security, and the TSA have been rummaging through them? Well that’s how I feel right this minute. My head feels like it’s been stuffed with cotton wool, my fingers are vibrating like quadruple tuning forks, and I swear half the time I’m hallucinating. Mrs S is suffering even more. Stringing two thoughts together has been all but impossible for almost seventy two hours. If it weren’t for the mercy that I got four and a half glorious, continuous hours of unconsciousness last night I’d be even worse.

It’s all down to lack of sleep caused by one thing, and one thing only; my Mother in Law. This is no exaggeration. a few days ago I’d gotten to the point where I actually feared sleep, knowing that my happy repose will be jolted into bleary wakefulness several times during the night by as sound more dread than the pitter of a Tarantula’s tootsies in an arachnaphobe’s mind; a little bell. A wee small tinkling tinny tyranny that shatters somnolence more effectively than a sledgehammer wielding strongman and a very large gong. Every hour and a half, without fail. Christ on a bike, I’m so bloody tired I can’t sleep. This is crazy.

Let me explain; before Christmas my Sister in Law, who lives partly in England decided that it was high time she had a time out from being Mother in Law’s primary carer. So she announced that she was going to the land of Oz, and which one of her other sisters would take on the job for a while. No, Mother in Law was fine, sure she could look after herself most of the time, yes, she’s having a little trouble making herself understood, but otherwise she pleases herself with a little help. She’s no trouble whatsoever. No, she refuses to go into a care home, but that’s not a problem. Honestly.

Yeah, right. Lies, damn lies, statistics and bigger porkies than an entire decades output from the Melton Mowbray pie factory. Much against my wishes and better judgement, Mrs S put up her hand to say of course we’ll look after Mum, it’ll be all right Bill, really. I objected, but had to back down as all the womenfolk on my wife’s side of the family voted against me. I was outnumbered. Being right had nothing to do with it.

The truth is, my ninety plus year old Mother in law is incapable of even going to the toilet without assistance. Even wiping her own bum is a task obviously beyond her. She is effectively deaf, dysphasic and has no, repeat no sense of balance, and a short flight of stairs might as well be a vertical rock face. She has to be dressed, fed, pottied and washed. There is no task of self care that she can perform unaided. Her every need must be catered to, no matter the time of day or we’re left with spreading puddles and the stench of urine all through the house. Hence the bell. We cannot leave her alone because she cannot walk or stand unaided. She’s also a major stroke risk. By stroke I mean Cerebrovascular Accident, and according to prognosis, she’s due for the big one.

This would not be a real problem were she a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident, but she’s not. I know my wife and her sisters insist current insurances will cover all eventualities. I, as a humble male, have serious doubts. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to weasel out of coughing up, quoting clauses citing ‘pre-existing conditions’ etc. If Mother in Law dies or worse, becomes even more incapacitated, my concern is that we will get saddled with a bill that may just wipe us out financially speaking. Now every day has me waking after my fitful repose with the following small prayer; “Please. Not today.”

Mrs S and I both work at two jobs apiece. We’re not high fliers, but those jobs swallow up most of our daylight hours, and a few more beside. Up until recently this wasn’t much of a problem. Now it is. A major league problem with little dayglo warning stickers all over it which say; Crisis. This way up. Fragile. Do not bend.

So far it’s been twenty days and twenty of the longest nights I can ever vaguely remember, and that is no small statement. We have seventy more days to go.

Fuck. Fuck. fuckity fuck fuck, arghhhhhhhhh!

Update: The bell has been confiscated, nocturnal nappies have been applied. Nurse has been hired twice a week. Mrs S and I actually got a full nights sleep last night (apart from one alarm around 4am). Now Mother in law has developed Hives. Emotional stress seems to be the most likely cause. She’s stressed? I’m surprised that Mrs S and I aren’t covered head to toe in nasty red welts. Insurance has been notified. Visit to clinic arranged. Ho de doo dah day, wibble my millennial hatstand your worship. Where’d I put my straitjacket?

Update 2
: Oh sod, it’s bloody Shingles. Fortunately I had my dose of Chickenpox when I was five, so my likelihood of developing Shingles late in life is much reduced. Or so says my friend Mister Flibble.

EU Arrest warrants – ease of abuse

Family issues (and lack of sleep) are currently consuming my time, but I picked this one up at Longriders, and subsequently Anna Raccoons; an apparent travesty of the UK courts enforcing an (allegedly incomplete) EU arrest warrant for an alleged murder in Portugal following on from a previous trial at which the defendant in question had been acquitted some years ago, even though the alleged ‘victim’ is not, it seems, dead. Nor that the defendant had been anywhere near.

Having read the accused’s blog, A nasty suspicion arises that some functionary somewhere, thought it was a good idea to shut him up, dug deep into his past, lit the blue legal paper and retired to a safe distance. Of course, that is veering into the abhorrent territory of conspiracy theory, but does raise a disturbing issue; if the UK courts and Police are enforcing said warrants in this fashion this occurrence is at best incompetence, and at worst, malevolent. My vote, as always, veers towards cock-up, but I can be wrong.

A mere rifling

A couple of work buddies and myself are awaiting the final demise of the long gun registry before rejoining the local fish & game club as shooting members. I’m looking at something like a bolt action Browning 30-06 and possibly a pump action 12 gauge for hunting in general. I’d keep them at the club for range practice of course, as the tacit agreement is that we’ll only fit out one of our trucks with a decent lock box for the guns and ammunition.

My general preference is for a bow, but what with it looking like another damp summer in western BC (Although I really hope I’m wrong), bowhunting is no fun with a damp bowstring. That and a halfway decent shotgun and fifty rounds of solid rifled shot costs less than a modest sixty pound draw recurve, twelve arrows and six broadhead tips. Several local friends (All well respected people) have agreed to support my application for a firearms license. Which I think is jolly decent of them. In the meantime, I shall be renewing my salt water fishing license, and going to spend some quality time standing the rocks with my rod in hand, casting my cares upon the waters and watching the Seals, Sea Lions, Otters, and if I’m really lucky, the odd passing Orca or even some Pacific White sided Dolphins passing by. There’s been some rather unpleasant windstorms of late, with trucks and cars almost bisected by falling trees, and I’m getting a bit twitchy for some sunshine.

It’s been a stressful few months, what with visiting family and all making demands on my time, and I really need a decent time out to recharge the old spiritual batteries. Never mind, Spring is almost here, and the buds are beginning to break. I shall feel happier when the Birch and Maple are in full leaf.

Reading Hayek

It’s nice to see that you aren’t alone in how you see the world working. Reading Hayek’s 1944 exposition on the individual vs the intrusive state, I’m struck by his thoughts on the pros and cons of both approaches. The bit that resonates with me, having spent time as an enforcement officer, is the difference between the rule of law (One rule for all – occasional lapses of ‘Justice’) and attempting to legislate ‘morality’ (Creation of privileged minorities – ‘Justice’ begins to disappear altogether – for everyone).

‘Morality’ to me is rather a subjective term, and perhaps therefore not the best basis for legislation. What might be moral for a far right religious fundamentalist for example, say pray every day, death to the infidel (As self avowed ‘infidel’ I take this rather amiss), women as second class citizens, whatever, looks like perpetuating the same old mess. Similarly; the far left pro libertine (as opposed to libertarian) perspective of enforcing the ‘rights’ of minorities instead of simply agreeing that everyone has the same rights. By ‘rights’ I mean the rights to freedom to own property, go where you please, work at what you please, believe what you please, say what you please, and to live how the heck you please so long as you don’t cause deliberate harm to anyone else and are tolerant of the rights of others. Regardless of age, belief system or cultural heritage. If my neighbours want to dance half naked round their garden wearing nothing but goat skin loincloths I won’t bat an eyelid (I might giggle at them a lot if they did and post the pictures online – but that’s the downside of such behaviour – right?). Just so long as they don’t demand that I do as they do. When it comes to ‘rights’, I most certainly do not mean something like ‘Freedom from poverty’ (Want to be poor? Don’t want to try to do better? Your choice) which means other people are paying for your ‘rights’. Especially Freedom from ‘being offended’, which means no-one else can have an opinion differing from your own (You’re ‘offended’ by the opinions of others? Tough shit you intolerant little tit – now fuck off and die, no one forces you to read). In my books ‘Freedom to’ trumps ‘Freedom from’ every time. Although those who screw around with me without provocation should be aware that I reserve the ‘right’ of creative retaliation.

The other thing I ‘get’ is the futility of rigid planning when it comes to humanity. In war and peace it is said that ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’, and the old and discredited road of ‘five year plans’ etc is littered with the detritus of failure. So why, when the evidence of experience clearly demonstrates that too much planning leads to failure, are said plans trumpeted as ‘the only way forward’? Phrases like ‘the triumph of hope over experience’ and remarks about the definition of insanity being repetition and the expectation of differing results spring jack-in-the-box style to mind. For example; journeys planned to inflexible schedules which do not include a significant ‘jesus factor’ for flat tyres, traffic conditions, doses of unscheduled minor illness (on anyone’s part), or mechanical breakdown of any sort will be high blood pressure affairs at best.

On a personal note; posting has been erratic because firstly I’m exercising my freedom to be busy on other projects. Secondly, during the recent windstorm, the local trees have been exercising their freedom to fall on the power lines. This has denied me my ‘right’ to a constant electricity supply. However, I exercised my freedom to use alternative means of heating, and didn’t worry too much. Still, the Hydro crews have (Bless ‘em) exercised their freedom to rush all hands to the pumps so the electricity was back up and running within four hours. Therefore they will get paid extra overtime and perhaps time off in lieu to exercise their freedom to spend money on nice holidays or pay off the mortgage early, neither of which they should be begrudged. They earned it, and the product of their honest extra sweat should not be stolen via taxation to pay for the chosen extra leisure of others.

As an addendum; I’m amused to see that there’s even an online comic book of Hayek’s seminal work. To be frank, the cartoon version’s a bit simplistic, and dare I say a piece of classic propaganda of its own, but still worth a look.

Where I disagree with the Freeman movement

My blogroll contains a few links to people some might consider raving revolutionaries, specifically the Freemen on the land, as embodied by Captain Ranty. Now I have a deal of respect for the good Captain and cohorts, and what they are trying to do. I appreciate that the oaths sworn by those who consider themselves our rulers are, to say the least, now highly suspect. Sovereignty has been sold. Deals have been struck. The economic futures of whole countries have been mortgaged to the hilt and then refinanced, consolidated and remortgaged again then sold twice over to cover the interest on the remortgage. Like the people who make up those countries didn’t really matter. Effectively what this means is that the old oaths of office sworn in the UK are for all intents and purposes, worthless. The laws, traditions and treaties they were based upon have been conveniently tossed in the rubbish bin for future Historians to squabble over. Constitution? Oh, you mean the UK’s ‘unwritten’ constitution? That old thing? Dahleengs, Magna Carta and 1689 is sooo out of date. Look at this sparkly new EU consti-thingy we signed for you peasants. So who cares if you aren’t allowed to go your own sweet way any more. Yes, it pisses me off as well. Massively.

To the Captain and friends, this discarding of ancient law and precedent renders a good deal of modern statute law worthless. They consider the discarding of law and effective handing over of sovereign authority to a foreign power as nothing less than an act of the highest treason against the people of the UK. They have a very good point. Democratic countries and nation states are (so we are assured) based upon mutually binding promises between rulers and ruled. When those promises are not upheld, then membership of that grouping loses its authority. What this leaves you with, as Mao once pointed out, “Grows from the barrel of a gun.” At that point there is no Democracy, people have no real say in how they are governed, and the whole system begins to break down.

The problem is that whole European (and elsewhere) electorates have been bought with political promises substantial as soap bubbles. “Vote for us and we’ll make everything fair.” kind of thing. “Hey! We can get everything we want by taxing the rich!” Those who make these claims either don’t realise that ‘Fair’ and ‘Rich’ are relative terms, and don’t include the people with the smart money. The ‘Rich’ might well turn out to be the guy who is at present only ‘comfortably well off’, and the ‘Fairness’ he / she is about to find out about is the greater burden of taxation being surreptitiously lowered onto his / her brawny shoulders. Which has already happened, funnily enough. Or rather unfunnily enough. Oh and where are those ‘rich’ people? You know, the ones with the real (not fantasy) money. Like the Cheshire Cat, all that will be seen of their money is a fading fiscal grin, and the more the ‘Tax the rich’ faction clamour for the ‘rich’ to pay for their lifestyles, the higher the burden on the once only modestly well off John Q Public. Not real rich people at all. A vote for ‘Fairness’ will ultimately kill the very system that almost levels the playing field. De Toqueville was right.

All for the sake of power and privilege. That’s what has gone wrong. Too many politicians have gotten too goddamned cosy with taxpayers money.

So, how do we fix it? This system that is so broken? This bargain between individual and state that is the functioning, beating heart of a democracy? Do we rise up, or do we try to pressure the politico’s into taking the pressure off ordinary people and reach some new solution? Where I and the Captain disagree is not about what the problem is, but rather the means of solution.

For me, butting heads with authority using old rules is not an option. Challenging the courts on their home ground is not the solution. Rules can be changed, adapted, and even blatantly ignored by the Judiciary and courts under political supervision. Confrontation simply ups the temperature and the rule makers and enforcers will cheat in order to rid themselves of petty nuisances. Because cheat they will to be rid of people whose only ‘crime’ is to speak their mind or stand up for themselves. The little guy will be sidelined, ignored and sometimes imprisoned. I’ve seen this in microcosm because it’s how UK law works. It’s why a rich man who can afford fancy lawyers can literally get away with murder. Criminals can intimidate witnesses, and political types protest outside their opponents homes and get at their opponents friends and family, because the coppers can’t be everywhere. The little guy working off his own bat (Which is what most Freemen seem to be) can be abused at will because the law is changing so rapidly and applied so arbitrarily. It also helps to remember that what you get in a British court is law, not justice. The law can be bought. This is the way it’s always been. The trick is to make law work in your favour.

“Okay mister brainbox.” one might easily ask. “How would you fight the broken system? How do we get our ancient rights back? How do we get rid of the awful grinding bureaucracy that blights the land if not by fighting back?”

Well, firstly; try not to flag up on the old judicial radar. For my part I’m a law abiding sort by nature, which helps. I also understand how thinly spread the powers of Law and Order are, and try not to make their job more difficult. Because whilst the uniform confronting you may not be your friend, the person within it may be persuaded that you mean no real harm. Politeness pays. Officials are like everyone else, with a few notable exceptions, human. Often a friendly non-confrontational approach will pay off where everything else fails. It is possible to out-nice them, but don’t take the piss. Completely stupid they aren’t, no matter what that nice young radical chappie down the pub told you about “standing up for your rights”.

Understanding what an official is, and the parameters of their job is also useful. Understanding what part of the process you are in is critical. Anything legal must be done just so, or you can walk. The court or issuing authority must do things just right or their case falls apart. Procedures must be followed. JP’s and Judges are bound by very strict rules and guidelines, and whilst they may gloss over certain items for expediency’s sake, if you can clearly demonstrate someone is playing fast and loose with courtroom procedures or the rules of evidence, the case against you will probably collapse. As an aside; while ‘arresting’ JP’s for serving under an unlawful authority may look like a jolly super wheeze, don’t expect to get away with it more than a couple of times. The “Are you serving under your Oath of Office?” approach also has a limited lifespan.

It seems to me that what the Freemen are engaged in is asymmetric warfare, for ancient freedoms. A fight by peaceful means against a new, unaccountable and illegal (In the Freemens eyes) Establishment which appears to be holding all the best cards. Which to a degree they are.

Not that I am advocating any morally or legally reprehensible acts. I’m simply commenting on how the Freemen seem to want to butt heads with the establishment. Which I think will be their undoing. Unless they change their approach.

Upon reflection; the only way for the code Napoleon type laws, which puts the onus of proof on the defendant to be overturned and ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ restored is the complete collapse of the EU power bloc. Secession from the EU may be the only legal way forward. Accomplishing this salient act will require cooperation with other Freemen type organisations in other EU bloc countries. Organisations with which to form expedient alliances, build bridges, and perhaps form the foundation for a more democratically accountable alliance of European countries to replace it. A true grass roots reform, not the current dysfunctional top down, micro-manage everything culture currently in power.

To achieve this, one has to understand the limits of the State in operational terms. The law and the state are not very flexible institutions, and have a long track record of reacting in a heavy handed and inefficient manner. It’s all they really know. For example, several years ago a thrifty Welshman worked out how to use discarded chip shop oil with a touch of methanol in a diesel engined car. The reaction of the state; make it an offence to use said fuel in a vehicle without paying ‘fuel duty’ (but then had to do a climb down because it was unenforceable). This is how the current crop of politicians think. Yellow, red or blue, it makes no odds. They all studied politics in the same schools.

One of the key things to remember is that the organs of the UK’s top down state don’t work very well on evenings or weekends, which is a point worth considering. Read people like Inspector Gadget for example to understand how thinly the much vaunted blue line is spread, where all those highly trained Police Officers spend their time, and under what restrictions they work. Add to this the additional snippet that Council employees and other such state functionaries are actively discouraged from using any form of initiative, and you begin to see the cracks through which Freemen may slink unobserved with a sly grin on their faces. Traveller communities for example, regularly run rings around state employees because they play by their own set of rules. Do Travellers pay tax or road duty? Not that I’m condoning such behaviour of course.

The trick appears to be not to directly confront, don’t play their game, for game it is, on the over intrusive states terms. The odds are stacked in their favour, they play with loaded dice, and make the rules up, so don’t play.

The truth is that the top down, command driven state cannot cope with an opponent, who like McCavity the cat, isn’t there to be caught. This is why the Hunt ban never really worked. Multiple events in widely spread locations (Gosh, did our dogs kill that fox? Oops, sorry. Really.) The tactics of the Flashmob, where tens, sometimes hundreds of like minded individuals turn up at say, Victoria Station to do the zombie dance for three minutes to Michael Jacksons ‘Thriller’ then disappear in a hundred different directions before Security can intervene or the Police arrive. Both peaceful activities, but if the same principles are applied to other activities it may be enough to make other unjust laws unenforceable. In a posted video showing how scrutinised and observed the British are, Ranty asked how the powers that be could ever watch all that surveillance footage, read all those emails and eavesdrop on the texts and phone calls. The answer is they can’t or they’d need so many bored security staff the economy couldn’t stand it. And there he had a partial answer to his own question. The dots are all out there to be connected. Some assembly and creative thinking may be required.

For example; the overweening state needs increasing tax revenues to function, and here is it’s Achilles heel. Barter between Freemen and sympathetically inclined individuals cannot be taxed because it does not have monetary value. Growing for your own consumption cannot be taxed. True, this requires effort, but if you want to be free, then effort is required. As there is no such thing as a free lunch, nothing good happens without a little graft. As solutions go, it’s got to be be better than just sitting there, watching crap TV and moaning about getting shafted.

The aforementioned may not provide the answers the good Captain was asking for originally here; but they’re the only workable ones I can currently offer.

Auroras and Sunstorms

Well, never mind the odd missing Server and a few 500 series errors, there might be real fireworks within the next twenty four hours. The little G class star from which all our solar energy flows is having a bit of a hiccup. An X5 solar flare no less. Not quite a Carrington event, but it looks like I might even be lucky enough to see my first ever Aurora borealis down here near the 49th parallel if the predictions hold good.

My Skymaster binoculars are on standby, and I shall be out on my deck in the predawn hours wrapped up warm with camera at the ready and a very large mug of hot coffee.

For those interested in events of this nature, the Canadian Space Science site has this real time auroral monitoring page. The NASA OVATION prediction page here.

Update: Bit of a disappointment so far. Too much cloud, and the view line is still a few hundred miles away, north of the Queen Charlotte Islands Heavy sigh. I was getting quite excited about that. Never mind. It’s not over yet, and there’s been a lot of flare activity over the past 12 months. Still, there was a nice Sunrise first thing. The sun blurring into an elongated vertical oblong through the clouds. Happens most mornings this time of year. I’m told it’s something to do with sunlight diffusing through ice crystals.

Update: Thursday 8th March 20:45 PST. Just had a look at the latest predictions for the Auroral ovals. If the current activity keeps up and there are a few clear patches, there’s a chance that even Seattle might get a glimpse. I’m hoping for a clear patch of sky to the north around 23:30 PST.

Update Friday 9th March 13:25 PST. Occasional vague green flickerings on the horizon in the early hours, but nothing more to report because of the cloud. Oh well, perhaps next time, or maybe when I’m further north some time.

Why I side with the smokers

I don’t smoke. Haven’t done for, er, well, quite a long time (Decades actually). Not really keen on the smell of tobacco, well cigarettes. Don’t mind the waft of a decent cigar, and will happily stay in the vicinity of pipe smokers. The smell of stale cigarette smoke might make me reach for industrial strength air freshener when I get home, but otherwise I’m not really all that mithered by it all.

The one big thing I lost when I gave up was the social side of smoking. Lighting up a cigar in good company with a decent pint was a simple pleasure without sin. The fragrant rush of exhalation, and the buzz from the first smoke of the day. A shared light. Pleasant banter. At the time I truly enjoyed it.

I suppose the rot really set in during the early 90’s with segregated breaks for smokers, and special ‘smokers rooms’. Up until then we all mixed freely, and the most laughter, the most free flowing conversation always came from; guess where? The smokers tables. Most of my friends smoked, and although I’d already given up, that did not stop me seeking out their company. There was nothing joyless or po-faced about them. Just a shared mutual enjoyment, and happy conversation.

When breaks were segregated, so was the happy noise that went with them. At that time the smoker to non-smoker mix in my workplace was around fifty-fifty. The people who smoked chattered and laughed, and on the other side, conversation dwindled, and dare I say a certain sullen grumpiness reigned supreme. A particular type of distrustful tension came to the fore. There were the in-groups and out-groups, and where before there was a certain mixing, a particular democracy of equals; this dissolved into a dull cliqueishness of wannabe alpha males and females.

There were also the pubs. Untouched by any bans, they thrived; but as the social tide turned, my boon companions of those years melted away, and with other events in the English licenced trade. Such as the policy of asset stripping Pub Landlords by breweries under the ‘tied house’ system. During the 90’s ever more good landlords were pushed out by a pricing policy that punished them for selling more beer. From a point where a pub might have provided a man and his family with a modest living for forty years or more, now landlord turnover moved into the one tenant every six months. Rising duty on alcohol simply sent the punters home early, and the economic canker killing the trade moved on to a new phase.

Now the pub is being supplanted by the private drinking session where people go to others’ houses instead of frequenting the pubs and bars. What Leg-Iron calls the ‘Smokey-Drinky’. What my own contemporaries would have called a ‘sesh’. There’s the future; these are the new speakeasies, where a man can talk a little harmless treason without sanction. Well, apart from being roundly told by his friends that he’s ‘full of shit’.

On this blog, I find that more than a few of my ideological fellow travelers in the blogroll are smokers, and with that I have no issue. Your body, and what you do with it is your business. Lets face it, you’ve got to die of something. No one lives forever. All we can do is live with what we have, and I’ve seen a lot of death over the years. A lot of it totally unrelated to lifestyle, often more to the cruel vagaries of fate and genetics.

The longer you live, one thing is certain, the more you take out of the public purse as far as health care / pensions is concerned, regardless of whether you smoke, drink, or eat excessive amounts of fatty food / salt / whatever or not. So perhaps living longer may not be such a good thing as far as any given exchequer is concerned.

So yes I do feel that smokers are being handed a bum deal. Okay, it may not be the healthiest of lifestyle choices, but frankly, who gives a shit? Apart from the brown shirts and brown-noses. Because although my social life might not have been quite so ‘healthy’ in those years, I also remember my times with smokers and drinkers as being more fun. And I remember them as good times.

Just a Sunny day on Vancouver Island

Today I’m eschewing the politics and general nuttiness of the outside world, and have retreated into my sanctum sanctorum, otherwise known as the kitchen.  The reason for this being is that it’s one of my off duty days, it’s sunny (I’m having to wear polarised sunglasses) and we’re about to play host to a houseful of my Youngests friends for two days.  People have to be fed, and I will be working on the days that they are here.  Whilst Mrs S can cook, the level of catering we’ll need will take her away from her day job, so we’ve agreed if I do a ‘cook up’ today, when our guests arrive we can stuff them full of decent pre-prepared nourishment and leave them to their own devices without too much disruption to working routines.

The menu I’m setting up is simple; my patented (Well not really) Pasta / Hot Bolognese sauce;  Parmesan Fish & Veg bake, and Red Thai Chicken Curry.  These will be cooled, stuck in the freezer, and decanted at leisure for serving at whomsoevers convenience with rice or pasta.  Youngest likes my Hot Bolognese so much that she doesn’t bother with the pasta. 

The recipe itself is fairly bulletproof, and can be modified to suit individual palates, but the proportions should be roughly observed.  The result is a rich, meaty sauce that will warm the mouth without taking the back of your head off.

For the hot bolognese sauce, you will need;

2lbs mince (Cheap stuff is fine)

I 500ml jar cheap Bolognese Sauce (Or a kilo of tomatoes, finely chopped and cooked down to half their original weight and volume)

2 Medium size onions

3 Cloves Garlic or one quarter teaspoon of garlic powder

One half teaspoon Ground Cayenne pepper

One half teaspoon Ground Paprika

One Quarter teaspoon salt

A double twist of black pepper

Dash of Worcestershire Sauce

Dash of Soy Sauce

Dash of Balsamic vinegar.

Method; 

Finely chop onions and ‘sweat’ over a low heat in a tablespoon of cooking oil until soft and onions begin to turn light golden brown.  Add mince and stir sporadically over the same low heat until thoroughly brown.  This is important; do not add any sauce or seasoning until the mince is thoroughly muddy brown.  There should be no pink bits at all. Add Garlic and stew for around five minutes. Add a double twist of freshly ground black pepper.

Throw in a dash (A dash you idiot!  Not a bleeding dollop!) of Worcestershire sauce, then a similar amount of Soy sauce and half as much Balsamic vinegar.  Stir well until the fat in the mince breaks up.

Now add 500ml jar of bolognese sauce (Or if you’re especially adventurous, a half kilo of pre-cooked finely chopped tomatoes run once through the blender.  But be warned, this means a longer cooking time ir required).  Add Cayenne Pepper followed by Paprika.  Stir.  Now let it simmer gently for half an hour before serving with pasta or rice (Or even chips if you fancy).  Failing that, let it cools and decant into freezer packs for serving at a later date.

It’s worth noting that this recipe keeps well in the freezer or fridge, and the flavour ‘develops’ during storage and reheating.  A good basic for all the family and friends.  At least the friends who are worth keeping.

The fish ‘n veg bake is just fillets of any old fish baked with whatever vegetables you like in a simple Parmesan sauce.

Make the sauce with these ingredients;

Butter, about a dessert spoon full (You can use Margarine, but not low fat anything as the sauce will curdle and go manky)

Plain Flour, about a dessert spoon full

About half an ounce of Parmesan, or however strong you want the sauce to be.

Water, perhaps half a pint or a quarter litre, the trick is to get the right consistency, not to follow rigid amounts.

A pound of any old frozen Fish

Frozen veg (Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, that sort of thing)

Method;

Put the fish, veg and water in a shallow frying pan and slowly heat until the liquid gets cloudy and the fish goes white.  Take pan off heat.

In a small saucepan melt the butter over a low heat.  Stir in flour to make a paste and gradually stir in water from shallow pan (Gradually, bozo!  Not all at once!)  Keep stirring at all times, or you will be left with a slurry that vaguely resembles premix concrete.  When the sauce is smooth and uniform, start adding the Parmesan, tasting until the sauce tastes a little on the strong side, not much, just a little.  Here you have a choice, you can simply pour the sauce over the fish and veg still in the shallow pan and slow cook for another twenty minutes or so, or if you want to get fancy, shovel it into a casserole dish, pour your Parmesan sauce over the top, and sling in the oven at 350 degrees for around thirty to forty minutes.  Either will do.  Serve with rice, pasta or mashed potatoes.

The Thai red curry is a bit of a cheat as it involves frying inch long bits of chicken in a big pan with a little oil and soy sauce until cooked, then adding a packet or Red Thai curry mix from the local supermarket, along with a bell red pepper and maybe a green bell pepper as well, adding water as per instructions.

As I’m not working (much, apart from writing this and the next phase of a full length novel, watching the Bald Eagles a couple of hundred metres away, babysitting Mother-in-law, listening to Mrs S complain about deadlines etc) today, this is what occupies my time.

Heavy sigh.  Life is so hard.

Google not responsible

Now I’ve had my own beefs at Google for various things, but here’s a bit of good news to brighten some people’s day (But not everyones). In the UK, a new court ruling has been made that Google is not a ‘publisher’ and therefore not responsible for posted content. In the words of Mr Justice Eady;

“I would conclude, therefore, that if I am incorrect, or unduly precipitate, in reaching my earlier conclusion that Google Inc should not be regarded as a publisher of the offending words at all, in accordance with common law principles, I would hold in any event that it would be exempted from liability in accordance with [the provisions set out in the Regulations]”,

Go on, pop over to Out-Law and read the whole thing. If Google is exempt, then this judgement should protect WordPress users as well.

The next apocalypse

If it’s not the heat death of the universe, the Mayans forgetting to carve new calendars or whatever, there’s always good old Earth killing meteorites we can’t do anything about (Mainly because all the money seems to get spent building Wind Farms and other such idiocy). Well chums, (Well one of my two regular visitors anyway) apparently 2013 is where fire rains from the heavens and we all have to face Judgement day. (Oh, noes! Not again!)

Which kind of raises the question; why are some people so all fired keen to have a Judgement Day? Why does the Earth / Humanity have to ‘end’ to make them feel vindicated? Self important little tits. As for mankind ‘threatening’ the Earth – anyone with the least knowledge of this planets processes should be aware of how thin the habitable biosphere is. Also exactly how big it is. So long as humanity keeps its figurative room tidy, the rest will take care of itself. The biosphere was here long before we ever arrived, and it’s our species good fortune (or not) that it will be here even when we’re no more than an interesting layer of fossils.

Meteorites crash land on the Earth, or burn up in the atmosphere, every day of the year. Most of them we never even notice. Remember, approximately two thirds of the Earth’s surface is water (Gleaned from my well thumbed copy of the ‘Bumper Fun book for boys’). Living out here at the Pacific rim as I do, you tend to take a larger perspective on these things, especially when you look at the flight times to Japan, Oz or Kiwiland. Especially when you can look out on a sunny day and literally see the Earth’s curvature. I tell you, it puts all your worldly cares on the back burner. Rather like Douglas Adam’s total perspective vortex. Once you’ve got that sense of scale, everything else pales into insignificance, and there’s nothing to be scared about.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada

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