Grumpiness

At present I have much to be annoyed about, and I’m letting my inner grump have free reign. Why? From people in the UK trying to screw me over for tens of thousands (Good luck with that one – I know what they’re up to and so do my lawyers) and ill relatives, to the happy clappy attitude of some of the locals, who, it turns out, are far more likely to die younger than I. Which is a relief. A man can only take so much ‘nice’ before he considers committing an uncharacteristic act of malice and mayhem. Which tends to upset local law enforcement, and that would never do.

However, there is hope, because a new study has found that being a curmudgeon makes you likely to live longer, be more creative, effective, and generally be more prepared against life’s little vicissitudes. Of which there are a plethora.

The reason for my grumpiness? Hunting for a new apartment. Bills. ‘Hate crime’ laws going back on the books, people you’ve never met acting like you’re their best friend, usual shit. Now Mrs S has just announced she’s had a belly full of ‘nice’ because she’s just asked me what country I’d like to move to because she’s pissed off with the stinking tide of Political Correctness over here in BC. And going back to the UK isn’t going to happen because we like our personal space too much. After a few moments reflection I said “New Zealand. South Island.” For six months, certainly. Okay, I’ll give it a try. This is one of those ‘can hack’ situations where I have to do the hacking. Hey, I got us through the hoops of immigrating to Canada. Five or six months in NZ during 2017-8 by comparison should be a snip.

Just got to work out how to store the car, as the Bike will definitely be coming with us.

Stuff I think about…

“What’s going on in that head of yours, Bill?” Asked my lady wife while we were out shopping this morning. Well, she was shopping, I was just waiting.
“What happens when a warp field collapses.” I replied honestly. Truly. I was bored and wanted to give the old brain cells a quick wander around the block, just for fun. “Just random stuff like that.” Actually I was thinking along the lines of conservation of energy, the possibility of dropping a starship headlong into a relatively particle dense environment like an asteroid belt, comets tail or Lagrange point. Never mind the possibility of quantum foam erosion. In essence, what might happen when a travelling mass transitions from one state within a protected bubble of space time into an uncontrolled near vacuum with no field capable of deflecting incoming masses.
Her reply? “I don’t think I’ll ask you in future.”

A cure for boredomIt’s just my way of switching off. When stress is overwhelming, some people go for a run, bury themselves in their work while others read a book, burst into tears, drink a lot or gorge themselves silly. Sometimes all of the aforementioned. Which don’t work for me. Work is slack, I can’t focus on writing or reading a book and going out for exercise just makes me worry even more about things I can’t control. Telling other people is also off the table, because watching their eyes glaze over always makes me feel worse. That and there are things which should not be shared because in my experience they give others ammunition against and leverage over you. So, I put my mind on a leash and go for a stroll down the path less travelled. Some do pixie dust and unicorns. I like the chilly honesty of deep space.

The reason behind this is having to deal with familial events that I cannot help with but am desperately concerned about, like financial issues of a close relative in the UK which directly affect me, and a near fatal illness of a relative in the fabled land of Oz. I could leap on a plane and arrive all full of vim and vigour, but would my presence achieve anything? No. The UK matters are being handled by my lawyers, who know what they are doing, and the business in Oz by some surgeons with pretty impressive CV’s. Who also know what they are doing. All I can do is worry and get in their way, and that doesn’t do me or anyone else any good, so I have to lead my thoughts down a more picturesque route to take my mind off the bad stuff.

Which is why I think about weird shit that no-one else wants to bother with. Just for fun.

Old joke, but true..

A Biker (Motorcycle rider, not those wussies in spandex) is visiting a zoo when he sees a little girl leaning too close to the lion’s cage. Suddenly, the lion reaches out through the bars, grabs her by the collar of her jacket and tries to pull her inside, right under the eyes of her screaming parents. The biker runs to the cage and smacks the lion square on the nose with his fist. Whimpering from the pain the lion jumps back, letting go of the little girl. The biker then returns the girl to her terrified parents, who thank him profusely.

A reporter watches the whole event and approaches the Biker in the car park as he is about to leave, saying; “Sir, that was the bravest and most gallant thing I’ve ever seen a man do in my whole life.”
The Biker replies, “Why, it was nothing, really. The lion was behind bars. I just saw this little child in danger, and acted as I thought was right.”
The reporter says, “Well sir, I’ll make sure this won’t go unnoticed. I’m a journalist, you know, and I can guarantee tomorrow’s paper will have this story on the front page. So, what do you do for a living, and what is your political affiliation?”
The biker replies “Well I run my own small company, and as for my politics I’m generally but not always conservative.”

The journalist smiles, thanks him again, and leaves.

The following morning the biker buys the paper and reads the following headline:
“Right wing fascist thug assaults African migrant and steals his lunch.”

Well it made me smile.

New Kit

New riding gearRoad trip planning for Europe 2017 continues apace and a deposit has been put on a shiny new motorcycle for delivery March / April 2017. Also purchased are two new Olympia Dakar touring jackets. We still both have our old heavy leather jackets from other trips, but have decided that the lighter and more weather versatile mesh style will be of greater utility. Yes I know we’ll both look like traffic cops, what with the three stripes on the sleeve (Wotcher Sarge) and everything, but my rough and ready ride-all-day-and-all-night days are long past, and I’m growing soft in my not so frail dotage. Two new HJC IS-Max II helmets have also been bought. Could have gone for Shoei or some other make, but the reviews and safety ratings for HJC are good and the ventilation is comfortable. Which in European Summer heat will be an essential. I know they’re expensive, but I don’t plan on ‘spoiling the ship for a ha’porth o’ tar’. A trip like this can be done on the cheap if you’re young and willing to rough it a bit, but when you are, shall we (Cough) say over the big Five-oh, you get to like your comfort. Hence the upmarket clothing and brand new top of the line motorcycle.

Then there’s languages. My French is adequate. My German mm, Ich spreche nicht Deutsch gut and my Italian sounds more like Spanish. However, I can get by, but want to be able to do more. So language freshen ups are required. Current route plan takes us via ferry from Foggia, Italy to Split in Croatia and via Slovenia to Venice, thence northbound. At the very least we need to be able to read road signs, count to a hundred, say “Yes”, “No”, “Please”, “I don’t understand”, “Thank you”, “How much?” and “You must be joking me old china” in Czech, Slovene, Polish, Dutch, Danish and Swedish rather than expecting everyone to speak much English. I think of it this way; it’s good manners to at least try.

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.

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

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