Road trip, Day three

Right, we’ve made it down to Oregon of all places. Down from the bleak vastness of the High Chaparral to the lush lower reaches of the Columbia river valley. Past four major hydro-electric dams and tens of square kilometres of those next best thing to useless twirly things.

When it comes to describing the good old US of A, the word ‘vast’ is so inadequate. ‘Huge’ is a vapid description of something so big that merely being humungous can only go halfway to describing a hundredth of the open country we’ve passed through. Towering waterfalls, highways so straight that their vanishing point disappears half way to the horizon. I thought Canada was big, but we mostly snuggle close to the 49th parallel to keep warm in winter. The US is, how should I put it, more three dimensional, spreading down from the 49th Parallel to the Mexican border. It’s almost like dipping a toe in the total perspective vortex.

Gas, or petrol is about a third cheaper then back home and doled out in US gallons, which are smaller than Imperial measure, 3.785 litres as opposed to 4.546. Which has made the conversion in my headometer run a little slower than usual when checking out the prices. I’m sure there’s an ap for this function, but I haven’t downloaded it yet. Growing up when I did, we had Imperial to Metric conversion drilled into us until it became second nature. Even now I can freely convert from pounds and pence into the old pounds, shillings and pence. Funny the way some things stay with you, isn’t it?

Hotels are good, the food is okay, but our southern cousins do have a predilection for frying everything, so the cuisine is not up to Parisian standards. Although their steaks are bloody wonderful. If there’s one thing the yanks do really well it’s a steak. Not burgers, but thumb thick slabs of juicy pinkness. The aftereffects of consuming a 10oz include making my stomach hug my spine as it goes ‘thank you – thank you’. So I’m in pretty good humour.

Short drive starting today, down to the West coast to begin the northbound leg of our trip. Listening to some of the locals talk about distance the other day, I noticed that they talk of journey times, not in miles or kilometres, but in hours. But in a country this size, it makes perfect sense.

Road trip, day two.

Clint Eastwood riding palelyWell that was interesting. Yesterday we started off pootling through thickly forested landscapes reminiscent of Upper BC, only to end up scooting down the Columbia River valley. This is territory I can only describe as ‘the Big lonely’, endless dry grass, horizon spanning expanses of chaparral, sagebrush and tumbleweed. I fully expected to see Clint Eastwood and his mule riding out of the East to greet us. Some of the tumbleweed we actually saw tumbling. Which was a sight more active than the crop of Wind Turbines we passed through.

I mean who takes these colossal wastes of money seriously? They only generate a maximum of twenty percent of rated capacity and rely on an unpredictable source. When that source isn’t available, they need energy from the grid to keep turning so their bearings don’t seize up. As a means of serious energy generation, they’re a very bad joke. Unless of course you’re one of those with their nose in the subsidies trough. Same for electric cars. They’re hardly any better than those built a hundred years ago. A dead end, junky technology that only really exists because of taxpayer dollar.

Anyway, that’s besides the point. This morning we’re back over the Cascade range of mountains and heading towards the jolly old Pacific Ocean before turning Northbound to head up the Coastal Highway. Hotels and ferries are booked, our fuel tank is full, the horizon beckons. There’s a whole world out there to explore. Well, a couple of States anyway.

TTFN.

And away we go!

We’re off! Away from conferences and nitpicking fine detail, away from the smoke shrouded hills of upper BC. Away from the terrible Vegetarian food which even some stalwart Vegans on the team were calling tasteless. Maybe the conference won’t be held at that place next year. I think the only thing stopping a lynch mob being formed for the catering staff is that lynching is so un-Canadian. Although from some of the grimaces I observed, there were definitely a few people who could have been persuaded.

On the final day we scooted off after the last meeting, only to run into a four hour delay, not at the US border, which we were expecting, but on the Sea to Sky southbound, where two motorcyclists got hurt hitting a Jeep Cherokee that had allegedly run out of petrol and had stopped in the outside lane. Considering the vehicle couldn’t have long passed a Gas station, that seems like someone just hadn’t bothered to fuel up, or was hoping to make Vancouver on just fumes. Who knows? We just pulled aside to let the emergency services though, wandered around, chatted, read books, walked dogs, watched some kids playing catch and in some cases seethed quietly until everyone had to do a three point turn, backtrack to the previous junction, then go up and around a couple of sleepy little suburbs until we were decanted back on the main drag. After that, the five minutes wait at the Peace Arch was a breeze.

Impressions of the USA so far? Mostly positive. Upstate Washington reminded me of our 2007 trip across Southern Ontario. To celebrate, we tucked into a steak each. Real food! Just a wonderful slightly bloody steak and salad each chased down by a modest dusty Californian Red, but to us we felt we’d escaped from dietary jail. There was rain too. A blessed strinkling. Just enough to remove the dust from the air. Free at last. Free at last! I think. Maybe. Probably.

Points of evidence

Still hanging around at Mrs S’s conference. Tucked into a corner, watching, listening, observing. Picking my place so I don’t get eaten alive by the mosquitoes in this neck of the woods. Putting up with the low-everything catering. Although salt and pepper is available now. No aircon in our room so Mrs S isn’t sleeping well, which means I don’t either. Lots of being nudged awake “Are you asleep, Bill?” to which the answer always is; “I was.” Such are the delights of married life.

I’m a member of the awkward squad, but you knew that didn’t you? You charming little darlings. Both of you. One of those who tries to take a second look at whatever scare story is blared at them by the lamestream. When that evidence is available to me.Spot the blogger Most of the time I’m like the pictured gentleman, who may or may not be August Landmesser. Arms folded, not saying a lot, but pitching in when he thinks he’s got something to say. Not one of the herd.

On this topic I’ve been following the last couple of years revelations regarding the Savile case. Especially the issues highlighted over at Anna Raccoons. While he was alive, Jimmy Savile was an entertainment public figure and charity worker who had been questioned by police regarding certain accusations. There’s even a whole #ibelieveher lynch mob on twatter who automatically believe any allegations of abuse by celebrities without burden of proof.

Now having done a little bit of enforcement work, I’m a great fan of evidence. Did you know that even issuing a parking ticket (at least when I was doing it) requires seven distinct elements of proof before it can be validated? Not an uncorroborated statement repeated as though it were fact, but time and date, vehicle registration, make and model, colour, location, offence code restriction. Which have to be backed up with a photograph, before and after issue. Anything that doesn’t fit, if the issuing officer gets either the colour, registration number or location wrong that ticket can be successfully challenged and binned. So why is no such burden of proof being applied to the Savile case? Why weren’t these accusations corroborated when he was alive, or in the previous forty years since the alleged offence? Why are uncorroborated assertions being accepted as proof? Why are people so fucking gullible?

If inclined toward conspiracy theories, I’d say this was a put up job, a smokescreen to divert public opinion. News management. But I have no evidence, just suspicions. So when urged to convict or condemn by show of hands purely on the basis of one persons assertion, my arms, like the man in the picture, will remain firmly folded.

Wildfires and other issues

Well we’re off. On the road for the next two weeks after fussing over details like routes, ferry timetables and possible road closures. Keeping a weather eye on the wildfire warnings that might throw our carefully planned schedules all over the place.

Because it’s been a lovely warm Summer so far, but up here in the not so frozen north all the Huskies are lying down in whatever shade they can find, and igloos are reduced to puddles, which is playing merry hell with property prices in Nunavut. Not that anyone lives in anything as retro as a igloo, apart from wilderness survival freaks who like wearing razor wire corsets, just to so how tough they are.

So far it’s been an fairly active wildfire season. Quite normal for an El Nino year. Could do with the odd drop of rain, but that’s not likely just yet.

On the first part of our road trip I’m not enjoying the cuisine at Mrs S’s conference. I can honestly say this lo-fat, lo-salt, lo-every-fucking-thing excuse for food is making me ill tempered and edgier than usual. Last night was salad without any real protein. Breakfast was soggy, vapid hash browns, flavourless pork, and scrambled egg polluted with beans and some other crap. I tried to eat it, but two mouthfuls were enough. The rest was summarily binned.

Being an avowed omnivore, I’ll tuck into most things given three falls and a knockout, but this mornings attempt at ‘cuisine’ was an insult to my Parisian tuned tastebuds. There wasn’t even any toast. This wasn’t food, it was probably illegal under articles 11, 12 and 13 of the Geneva convention covering treatment of POW’s. If I fed this to a dog I’d expect the SPCA to come calling. Furthermore, I’m sorely tempted to say whoever ordered this crap needs putting in the rubber room. You will note I’m not blaming the catering staff – yet. But if lunch is more of the same, I shall be eating exclusively at the Tim Hortons down the road. Oh Gods, I’ve just seen the bloody menu. “Dairy free”. Fuck me rigid.

You know, I don’t mind other people being Vegetarians, Vegans, Gluten free, dairy free, breath free, whatever. Hey, your life, your choice, but when it impinges upon me, I’m inclined to get more than a little testy.

Now where’re my car keys?

Un mauvais quart d’heure

Yeah. Today has not been as happy a day as might have been. A creeping sense of FTW has shadowed my every waking thought, casting a pall over what has otherwise been a pleasant day. I know why. It’s been a year to the day when first my Mother, then my dog, died. I really don’t know whether to feel hopeless, sad or just plain angry. This mood will pass, I’m just having a bad quarter of an hour, that’s all. These feelings always fade like a morning fog, but while with you, serve as a reminder that you’re just as full of shit as the next guy. Kind of reassuring really.

Anyway. Tomorrow Mrs S and I set out on a little road trip which will eventually take us down south of the border for a little drive around the US of A. Just dodging the wildfires through Washington and Oregon. Nothing fancy. See the sights, sample the food and wine. Watch the people. Ignore the mass media. Intwerweb stuff will be patchy, but if I see anything vaguely noteworthy I’ll probably post about it, Wi-Fi permitting.

Orange skies

This morning the sky over Victoria is a pale pastel orange. Is this the result of ‘Global warming’? No. It is the result of that recent Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun? Is it the harbinger of a really big thunderstorm? No and no. Apparently it’s good old seasonal wildfires in all those jolly wonderful trees, where the smoke has risen and mixed with the clouds and is refracting the sunlight in that part of the spectrum. When it has been visible, the sun has been a hot pink spot.

Sheer HellWhere is all this smoke coming from? Well, according to wildfires today, a good deal is coming from upcountry Alberta and Saskatchewan. Possibly from fires to the East of Vancouver and West of Seattle. Which feels a bit strange because the last few days have been nearly clear blue skies with nary a surcease of shade. There’s also a mountainside on fire up island but someone else is getting our second hand smoke….. Pass me a beer, will ya?

So much for smoking bans.

A small note about Search Engine Optimisation

Achtung MinenTo all those Search Engine Optimization companies out there; please stop trying to spam my comment threads. It doesn’t work and I’m not interested. Not one jot, not an iota, or any other unit of measurement too small to be worth mention. All your advertisements and solicitations end up in my clever little spam trap, which is the waste disposal for this blog. Rather like a Septic Tank, it needs the turds clearing out from time to time.

Why? Oh heavens to Betsy this is a blog, FFS! A sort of mental gym where I flex my satirical muscles from time to time. It’s not something I generate any income from, nor expect to. One which receives on average fewer than twenty unique hits per day. A level which I’m quite content for it to dip below. Mainly as it means less work for me. I’ve got quite enough real life work ta very muchly and I’m very happy for this state of affairs to continue.

Read my comments policy page if you’re that bored.

TTFN

Comment of the day

“The more you help some people, the more they need to be helped.” These words drifted across the breakfast table, making me blink. Now there’s an intriguing thought was my unconscious response. Mrs S had been working online, talking about one of her clients. One of the needy ones. One of several she has to deal with in her day to day. Members of ‘the clueless’ who, no matter how many times they are shown, assisted, mailed the instructions and generally babied along, keep on asking the same questions about the same old subjects. It’s almost like their ability to remember has atrophied to the point of nothingness.

I remember thinking; ‘I must pass that one on to the Axiom testers down at the Bill Sticker Institute for word juggling and infinitive splitting.’ So I did.

One of our helpful customer service IgorsUpdate: The Axiom testers have come back with Proven. There are a lot of people in the world who fit this precise and pithy description. The lads down at the lab (See left) looked very pleased with themselves when they delivered this particular verdict. Well, I think they did. They’re mostly Igors, so it’s very hard to tell.

The good news is that these hapless members of the zombie apocalypse will probably be the first to starve to death if everything does go pear shaped. Not that it will of course. These are precisely the people that politicians buy the votes of with their endless promises of jam tomorrow and scare stories about the man-made (of course) heat death of the Universe. George Bernard Shaw called them ‘The undeserving poor‘. The rest of us, who can’t be bought or fooled so cheaply, will no doubt be the cash cows wrung out to dry so the pollies can keep their jobs.

Heavy sigh.

Happy Canada Day

Canada Flag Happy Canada dayTo my Canadian reader. And to the rest of you, regardless of where you are on the planet. Unfortunately, we’ll be spending a good part of our afternoon hanging around hospitals, so we’ll miss most of the downtown fun.

The good news is that we’ll be done and dusted in time to see the Fireworks, and I know exactly where we’ll be. There’s this great vantage point no-one else knows about, right at the….. argh! (Sound of struggling followed by a suspicious silence)

Sorry about that reader, he was about to give the game away, and we do so hate being crowded out of our favourite downtown vantage points. We’re afraid Bill has been getting a little…. too feisty of late, now he has to go back to his padded cell. We apologise for any inconvenience, or lack thereof…..

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

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