The Daily Grind

Feeling a little better now my system has adapted to my medication and the source of my ill-health is slowly but surely responding to treatment. So yesterday I went out and bought a little conical burr coffee grinder. Just to cheer myself up. Said item now resides next to my filter coffee machine, helping finesse my caffeine quality control. Which is a very pleasant duty after the unpleasantness of the last three weeks.

A nice cup of coffeeI’ve always been a fan of fresh ground coffee. One of my happiest childhood memories was simply sitting in the kitchen watching our (at the time) new fangled electric percolator burbling and burping away. My Dad taught me how to open it up, clean out the basket, add just the right amount of water and ground coffee before closing up properly and hitting the switch. Which I suppose was the beginning of my occasionally distant love affair with real coffee. All my friends’ families of the time always drank instant, and even at the age of eight I found myself preferring even badly stewed tea because instant coffee was, and is, so unremittingly appalling. As well as containing the suspected carcinogen, Acrylamide. Frankly dahleengs, I wouldn’t use instant to clean our drains with. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that even bad percolated or filter coffee is far superior to Instant, no matter the brand.

Good coffee is, I feel, rather like wine. It has nose, bouquet, body and flavour with the added benefit that it sharpens, not clouds the senses. I’m only vaguely surprised that the better class of coffee bean doesn’t have a vintage (“I’ll have a cup of the 1989 Brazilian Couer De Rio please, waiter.”). Same for tea. I buy loose leaf teas because with a little practice and care, even a fresh cup of PG tips can provide a greater lift than the best tea bagged product, and I do have some very nice herbal (not that kind of herbal) tea bags for when bog standard orange pekoe just can’t deliver.

Now I have a half way decent grinder I think I’ll put together a few small airtight canisters of beans; Columbian, Honduran, Kenyan and various other varieties. I may even cast around for an Italian coffee roast variety, as when it comes to Espresso the Italians produce far and away the best roasts. Despite being on our figurative doorstep, Starbucks and all the coffee houses in Seattle don’t seem to be able to produce the depth and richness of Espresso that the Italians can. Ah yes, a small Espresso machine might be in order.

As for tea; down here in Victoria we have the Empress tea rooms, where we go for a civilised treat every time we’re flush with funds. They do an extremely nice and refreshing Kenya and Indian blend to which Mrs S and I are very partial, even if it is brewed from tea bags. I keep a couple of boxes in stock for those occasions when caffeine is preferred to alcohol. Mrs S is even badgering me to start making tiny lemon cakes and similar for afternoon Tiffin. Although this might entail the purchase of a small Toaster oven for small batch baking. It’s not really worth firing up the big stove for five or six mini-cupcakes.

Working from home as we both do, we’re relearning the art of being gentle with ourselves, instead of simply sticking our noses to the grindstone without remittance from dawn to dark. Good tea, Lemon cakes and small bite size delicacies can make for a pleasant afternoon interlude when we can sit down to discuss work issues and bounce ideas off each other rather than just grab a snack and run back to our respective keyboards. By way of an aside; it’s surprising how much more productive you can be if you take your time and step back from it all. If only to get a fresh perspective.

Oh well, back to the grind….er.

No more Halloweens

As per my last post, I’m not a well cat. Mostly from the side effects of medication. A little light headed and more tired than I should be. So I’ve been resting a lot over the weekend. Nothing much, just chilling and reading. However, being mindful that it was Halloween, I put out some candy at the front door so the kids could help themselves, as that evening I was in no shape to walk down a flight of stairs unaided. This morning I found half the candy we’d left out for them strewn all over my landlady’s front yard.

My response? Oo-kay. I’ll clear up the mess they made this time, but next Halloween the trick or treaters can fuck right off. Ungracious little bastards. So much for being environmentally friendly Canadians.

The meat of the matter

Not a well catNot posting much because I’m a bit crook at the moment, having contracted an infection in a difficult to medicate part of the anatomy. Ergo I am suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous side effects like nausea, vomiting, flatulence and sleeplessness to mention but four. As well as having to take pills that would choke the proverbial Equus ferus caballus every morning.

The problem with being unwell is the ‘diet experts’ who pop out of the woodwork telling you a bacterial infection is all the fault of your food intake (WTF?). These being the self same ‘experts’ who seem to suffer more from ‘allergies’ and ‘food intolerances’ than anyone else on Earth, from ‘genetically modified’ or GMO to bananas and peanut butter. They’re brimming over with ‘good’ dietary advice despite having all these allergies and intolerances. Which for me is a good indicator that they are full of shit. If their chosen regime were that healthy, how come all these foods make them sick, huh?

For the record, I do not suffer from any food intolerances, apart from a deeply held prejudice against badly prepared food. Whether ‘organic’ or whatever.

There is no subject more chock full of complete bollocks than the politics of food. Politics of food, Bill? Bloody hell, isn’t that a bit of a reach? Not so gentle reader (Either of you). We are constantly told by our ‘betters’ (Hah!) that this or that is bad for you. Eat more vegetables because they are ‘nutrient dense’ go the hectoring voices. Dietary fat is bad for you. Despite so much of what we are told by the lamestream has been proven to be flat out wrong. So it is with the latest foray into nannying by the World Health Organisation that eating red meat is bad for you and may give you cancer (Probably due to lobbying by from ‘food’ and supplement manufacturers) when it is more likely that processed food like ready meals etcetera are more harmful. Even when it has been established that two thirds of cancers are down to genetics and pure bad luck. Face it chums, we all die. All of us, without exception. Life’s a bitch, but like all bitches has a fun side, so enjoy what you got while you got it.

Red meat only gets a bad rap because it’s not politically correct. Vegetarians don’t like it, which is fair comment, as they don’t eat red meat for whatever reason, but that should be no reason I have to give it up. I’ve tried a vegetarian diet and after a month it gave me gastric cramps so intense I needed IV painkillers. My digestion is adapted for a high protein diet, light on the grains and carbohydrates. I can subsist on other stuff, but it’s no fun. However, a good steak once a fortnight puts a spring in my step and a song on my lips. A mixed grill (6oz steak, lamb or pork chop, liver and kidney set off with Mr Heinz best baked beans – no fries) is gastronomic heaven.

As for vegetables being ‘nutrient dense’, well, yes and no. Grass and silage for example, is only really ‘nutrient dense’ if you have the required four stomachs (Rumen, omasum, reticulum and abomasum) to digest it properly. Which is why vegetarians so often resemble rakes, and those that don’t have found other sources of protein, normally some form of whey (A cheese byproduct) or Tofu (Like whey, only made from soy milk). I’ve been told one extreme vegan regime even needs a specific form of clay as a supplement. Pardonnez moi, but I think I’ll pass.

Our digestion is capable of stripping the nutrients from a wide variety of substances (Including grains). We are omnivores. Opportunist feeders. There is, and this is where the dietary proselytisers are dead wrong, no single, top down one-size-fits-all solution. Not vegetarian, vegan, carnivore or otherwise. We are all different.

None of which helps me at the moment. Although my present condition is not that debilitating, it’s certainly put a crimp in my week. Although I will be trying to look on the bright side. I’m allowed beer, and apart from these ‘experts’ (May they boil in Olive oil spiced with a dab of Rosemary, Chili flakes and a clove of garlic) coming at me from all angles I’m mostly fine.

Hi-ho, only forty more days of this and hopefully I’ll be back to my usual self.

Where have all the Eagles gone…..?

From the very talented Minnesotans for Global Warming

H/T Jo Nova

No wonder we get Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons hanging around over my landladies suburban chicken coop. The wind farm up island is just too dangerous an environment for them. Maybe that’s why the Cougars and Bears are heading into our locale, they’re pissed off with the whoosh-whum noise of the bloody things.

Red tide

I greeted my wife with one word this morning; “Trudeau.”
Her response; “Oh, fuck.”

Yes it’s true. A toxic red tide of votes has swept the nation and there’s another brain dead Trudeau as Canadian Prime Minister. God help Canada.
red tide warning
Well I know that Harper wasn’t the most popular choice, but picking a party headed by a Trudeau? Seriously? That is soo coming back to bite us all. Mulcair would have been better as a national leader.

Why? Because I remember the economic disaster Tony Blair made of the UK, and Trudeau is a politician very much out of that mould. So we can look forward to higher taxes, extra ‘Carbon’ levies, more foreign involvement of our (Canada’s) armed forces and a deeper economic downturn caused by ‘capital flight’ as investors seek safer, or more profitable havens for their hard earned cash. On the plus side, he’ll probably cancel the problematic F-35 and legalise Marijuana, so it’s not all bad news. Even if Trudeau’s policies will probably squeeze out the little guys on the Grow-op front and put up the price of groceries.

For my part I’ll be keeping an eye on real inflation and currency fluctuations over the next year or so and keeping my European funds out of Canada until I’m sure which way the wind is blowing. As I observed to Mrs S this morning, it’s not time to pack our bags just yet. There may yet be a silver lining under this cloud. Canadian dollars ran at 2.15 to the pound sterling back in 2006. Due to the economic downturn in the oil and gas industries occasioned by the Saudis dumping their oil at ridiculously low prices, CAD to GBP is currently about two bucks to the pound. With a Liberal government in power, I can see that value dropping to about CAD$2.20 per GBP along with a drop in local property prices as the canny move their money elsewhere.

Looks like I’ll be using my ‘get a free apocalypse’ card sooner than I thought.
Apocalypse gift card

Naughty

It’s Federal Election day in Canada, and Mrs S and I took a walk down to the polling station to cast our votes like good Canadians. In and out inside five minutes. We’d done our research and both independently decided who was getting our ballot. Unsurprisingly, we both went for the least worst candidate. Yes, I know we shouldn’t vote because it only encourages politicians, but nowadays I like to have a say rather than hide in my burrow muttering ‘snot my fault guv’nor when everything goes south.

Now Canada used to have fairly strict rules on political campaigning until this month. No campaigning on polling day (At least on TV). Which was supposed to allow the voter to make as informed and non-coerced a decision as they are capable of on the day. This afternoon, I watched Mulcair and Trudeau supporters waving their candidates signs in the middle of the main drag through Quadra village. One, carrying a ‘Vote Mulcair’ banner was even waylaying passers by, presumably to solicit their vote. Which I still feel is a bit naughty on polling day. I say chaps, that’s not Cricket, or even Hockey. At least with Hockey the Umpires can send offenders to the sin bin.

Not that such polling day pranks can have any effect apart from a negative one. I think most Canadians, even some of the superannuated hippies out here on the Wet coast wouldn’t fall for it. Or would they? Surely not? Although speaking from personal experience, if I see anyone campaigning on election day, that is a high level motivator not to vote for their candidate. This time round they’ve had seventy eight days to get their point across and if they haven’t done so by now, bad luck. Seventy eight days of blitzing the gullible on social media. Seventy eight days of speeches, conferences and photo opportunities. Blood and sand. I’m so glad we don’t have Cable.

This time round I actually bothered to read all the manifesto’s and electoral leaflets before doing a bit of old fashioned joined up thinking and making my choice. Which I hope was a sober and informed decision. So who did I vote for? Ah. No-one’s business but mine. My vote is strictly between me and the ballot box.

Autre jours, autre choses

There are days when you wish you were younger when you made certain choices in your life, but today hasn’t been one of them. Today I have been indulging in a little light cruelty upon political canvassers. Nothing illegal, quite the opposite, just done with a tiny bit of malicious glee on my part. The ones who ignore our ‘No soliciting’ sign have been getting their basic numeracy and literacy challenged; “How can I vote for someone using people who can’t read?” I said tartly to one idiot who chose to ignore the sign.

Oh yes, we have another local big cat sighting. Is it another, or the same one returned to snack on a student? Considering how tame the wildlife is around these campuses, it wouldn’t surprise me if that happened. I went to an evening lecture at UVIC last month and walked within six feet of a three and a half point buck Mule Deer. The deer didn’t blink, even when I took a flash photo below. I bet that’s what the Cougars are coming after. Tame food. Yum.
Mule Deer Buck UVICThose of you who click on the photo and see the blueness of my little pocket cameras flash reflected in this Bucks right eye might be forgiven it was animatronic, or at least controlled by the IT department. Not so. There was another buck and three does within stone kicking distance.

Looks like the local bears are also heading toward human populations as there’s an upsurge in reports from the west of town. Maybe they know something the humans don’t…….

The End

Well it might be. On the other hand probably not. But…

Nothing to do with me folks, I didn’t break it, but according to some obscure religious fruitcake scholar, the world is going to end today. No, this particular doomsaying is not from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Pope, United Nations, David Suzuki or Al Gore (This time), it’s some obscure Bible thumping sect called the eBible Fellowship. Well, they’re from Philadelphia, what do you expect?

Apparently the world is about to be obliterated by fire or something. So I thought I’d take a look around. It’s raining out, so that should damp things down a bit. Everything’s so wet over here you couldn’t light it with Napalm. Riiight, so I meandered over the a couple of relatively reputable information sources like Spaceweather.com. Any killer asteroids heading our way? No. Oh well, are the seas about to rise and cover the land, leaving a lot of beached fish and the odd annoyed crab? No. Not in this epoch. Not unless the moon gets hit by something at least half its own size and buggers up the tides. Rogue black holes? Sorry to disappoint, but none have been spotted. At least not in our spur of the galactic arm. A glitch with the Large Hadron Collider? Nope. Just finished an upgrade. No sign of a Vogon Constructor Fleet, either. Is God so pissed with us he’s going to throw a cosmic fireball our way? I gave him a quick call; “End of the world Bill?” He said. “Not on my to do list.” Well if an omnipotent being says he knows nothing about it….. Besides, we’re going fishing this Thanksgiving weekend, as God says, just to get away from all the bloody prayers. I also have it on good authority that the four horsemen of the apocalypse are booked for a Gymkhana for the rest of the week.

So, is the world really going to end? We’ll know in six hours or so. I could take the day off, but I’m just too darned busy for an apocalypse.

Must be a Wednesday. Never could quite get a handle on Wednesdays…. Hi ho. Back to the ennui.

Update: Yay! I’ve filled up my Apocalypse gift card! This means I get a free end of the world next time. Huzzah!
Apocalypse gift card I was looking for the full set, but only got my gift card after the Gordon Brown token had been withdrawn from issue.

And today…..

……Nothing happened on the Interweb. At least nothing that piqued my interest. Just the usual.

In the real world, all our recent guests are home safe, with airplane adventure tales told over Skype. Which now lets me off the hook to catch up with a little work and to generally chill out after the last few days chasing my tail. I don’t really mind since we only get to see Youngest once or twice a year, and it was her birthday week. What sort of parent would I be if I didn’t help her celebrate? Apart from Pizza cremation and a few other minor happenstances, like coffee machines almost, but not quite, going foom! All went swimmingly, and our stock rides high with our recent guests.

All is now settling down. I hope. Apart from Cougars in the back yard. Seriously. Actually I missed the Downtown fun. The conservation officers tranquilised it and now doubt the oversized moth eaten moggy will be dumped up island to annoy another community. It’ll be back. Who knows? Maybe it’ll have a chew on one of the local animal rights groupies. Don’t you just luurve natural selection?

On the work front I’ve just finished prying my good lady down off the ceiling, and she is recovering slowly from a recent upset. New software, no project plan, no staff training, deadlines cut; need I say more? I’ve had to restock the Tylenol and tissues twice. For the moment things are settling down before the next crisis digs into my schedule. That and credit cards being stuck in the Freezer to cool off after a months frenetic activity. A decent batch of curry has been prepared for the freezer, as has a similar sized block of home made chilli bolognese. I’ve done enough cooking for a while.

What else? Oh yes, I’ve received my voting card for the Federal elections and remain staunchly unaffected by sundry faces mugging out of billboards all over the place. Eeny, meeny, miny mo, who to vote for? Not telling. It is after all a secret ballot don’cha know, but despite my history as an ex-green party member (A youthful error of judgement on my part) my ticked box won’t be for the Greens. As some are given to say locally; Elizabeth May, but probably hasn’t. I’ve also put a ‘no soliciting’ sign at the front door. First to ring the bell gets a free earful of colourful Anglo-Saxon invective and a stern lecture on the parlous state of their reading skills.

Candy for Halloween is being purchased from Bulk Barn and left in a bowl on the doorstep for the kids to help themselves or next doors cat to shit on. I may leave out some beef jerky in the hope that a passing Cougar or Bear will spend some quality time on my front porch. Failing that, next doors surly moggy will do. Bad tempered animal. I shall leave a besom broom outside for effect. Perhaps with a sign saying; “Warlocks to Witches.” or “Prey, do not disturb.”

What can I say? I’m not allowed to put out Claymore Mines for the unwary or hard of reading.

TTFN

Grand plans and statistics

When I saw the advert about the United Nations SAWA plan in the cinema the other day, my bullshit antenna buzzed madly. See advert below. I would advise either of my readers to have a sick bucket on standby before viewing. It’s that false and saccharine.

Now apart from Richard Curtis’ cute fluffified animals talking about such nebulous nonsense as ‘promoting Social Justice’, ‘ending World Poverty’ and ‘Tackling Climate Change’ after arriving at the UN in very expensive limousines, I was moved to wonder; how does all these high level diplomats having all the best stuff and the ‘carbon footprint’ of a million Soviet era tractor factories each ‘solve’ anything? Then I thought I’d consult the views of someone who can demonstrate, often with the UN’s own data, what the state of economic change is from the 1960’s to today. That source is Dr Hans Rosling, the brains behind Gapminder.org See one of his many TED talks below. This particular twenty minuter is from 2006.

He’s worth watching. Especially on the global economic and health improvements from 1960 to the present day.

Now, you might ask; if all this information is public domain based on the UN’s own information; why are the UN trying to convince us to fix ‘problems’ that are already being fixed, without UN intervention, by simple market economics and the growth of freedom? Or, as my cynicism posits, are they trying to set up a claim that they ‘fixed’ stuff that was already being fixed by free(ish) trade and globalisation of markets? Hmm…..

Update: Just as an afterthought. The UN might be proposing robbing the ‘rich’ (People who can’t move their money fast enough – ) to aid the ‘poor’ (Those who whine the most about impoverishment – not necessarily ‘poor’ people), but what they actually end up doing is enriching themselves. Sometimes they even get caught……

Expatriate expostulations from Canada; a.k.a. A Sarcastic man abroad trying to stay in the middle of the road without getting run over.

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