Tag Archives: Amusement

Hummingbirds etcetera

We have four distinct hummingbirds who visit the feeder we’ve set up half way along the back deck. Two pairs who I presume take it in turns to incubate their eggs in trees downslope of us. One male with a bright copper cap and orangish breast. His mate with a gorget of red on an otherwise green based colour scheme. Another male with what look likes a black hood which flashes iridescent copper at certain angles and his mate who has a thin green piping down the right hand side of her neck, from beak to wing-root. I managed to get some pictures but damn, those little suckers are fast! I was lucky to get this image of the female with the white stripe down the side of her neck.

All together now; “Awwwww!”

This is a seriously cheeky individual that hovered within eighteen inches of my face two weeks ago. I was sitting outside reading Niall Ferguson’s The Square and the Tower when I heard this low pitched buzz and there she was, giving me the once over. All I could do was sit there transfixed by this exquisite little creature thinking “Damn! My camera is indoors. If I so much as twitch she’ll disappear.” So it was. A moment later I blinked and like some UFO, she zipped off at warp speed and was gone. Fortunately, I managed to take some video of her feeding today which I may post when I’ve edited out my heavy breathing.

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Here comes the… Ah.

Looks like the rumours of possible Tsunamis from Hawaii are more ‘don’t panic’ than panic. According to the geologists it’s not that kind of eruption because Kilauea is a shield volcano, not the more explosive Strato or composite type. Still, I’ve seen a few people locally wandering around with face masks on, just in case of fumes, okay? Even though the winds are blowing any emissions in the opposite direction from our little corner of the Northwest Pacific. So lots of oozing type lava flows and local disruption, but next to no risk of major landslips or subsequent tidal waves. At least according to the Vulcanologists and Geologists on site. However, it can’t be much fun on that side of Oahu (Big Island) as the dramatic civil defence video below shows.

So no big boom. What else is new? Not much.

Oh yes, over on the other side of the world a nice young chap called Harry married a pretty American girl called Meghan on Saturday. Now this event would be unremarkable, because young couples who want to raise families get married all the time. However, Harry’s grandmother (Who likes dogs and horses) owns quite a lot of property in and around a little place called the UK. Not only there, but she’s the Chairman (Chairperson is such a verbally clumsy term) of a big global property conglomerate. Which means people tend to take notice when the next generation want to get hitched. Mainly because they think Grandma shouldn’t own all this stuff and want to give it to an amorphous group they call ‘the people’, who are in reality the preferred in-group that these vocal people claim to support. Just so long as they can say who gets what. Frankly I’m happy for Harry’s Grandma to keep all her stuff because I don’t trust the greasy little sods who want to take it all away. Mainly because what they want is to take her place and have everybody else’s stuff (Yours and mine), not just that owned by Harry’s Grandma.

More pleasantly, out in our little deck garden all things seem to be progressing well. The Parsley. Basil, Sweet Peas and Nasturtiums have germinated nicely, our hybrid tea rose has at least eight flowering buds in various stages of development and the new honeysuckle should be blooming shortly too. That and I fixed the leak in the automatic watering system. So far so good.

Workwise, things have settled into a routine and I’m thinking about doing a gun safety course, just for the hell of it. Doesn’t mean I’m going to spend my hard earned on firearms, it just means I’ll have a gun licence to flash in a gun shop so I get to legally handle the merchandise. Alternatively, it’s a useful extra piece of photo ID.

Delightful

Our seedlings are doing well. There’s a minor leak-glitch in the automatic watering system I installed yesterday, but nothing that can’t be fixed by a little PTFE (Plumbers) tape. A five minute fix. Otherwise our drip system works perfectly and will do the necessary job of keeping our plants suitably refreshed and thriving without wasting water while we’re away in July. Mrs S is delighted and so am I. A little green on the deck creates a pleasant space for work breaks where we can rest our weary screen-dried eyes on the local scenery. It’s also become a place where, when the weather is suitable, we can dine on tea and cucumber sandwiches. Which feels very civilised. There’s just something about sandwiches with the crusts cut off and one bite H’ordeuvres for supper that act as a balm to the soul. Must be a cultural thing. To paraphrase a famous quote from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam;

A glass of wine, a plate of sandwiches and thou, talking softly to me in Victoria.

Another thing that I found utterly delightful this morning was Alberta UCP leader Jason Kenney’s statement that Justin Trudeau is “an empty trust-fund millionaire who has the political depth of a finger bowl.” Who “Can’t read a briefing note longer than a cocktail napkin, OK.” Although I’d be inclined to observe that even the shallowest finger bowls generally have more gravitas than the empty-headed talking points regurgitated by Trudeau.

Which rather throws Trudeau’s comparison of people who do not agree with current CO2 driven climate dogma to advocates of Female Genital Mutilation into sharp relief. Which is a cheap way to demonise people who don’t agree with what a lot of researchers now consider very shonky ‘science’. Hells bells, even the latest IPCC report has downgraded the predicted impact of any human effect on the climate. By repeating the failed dogmas Trudeau is like the talking toy recently marketed to promote his popularity. Yes, our darling mop top is pretty, but he’s also pretty vacant without his team of advisors and handy teleprompter. Even with them he’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the box by a long chalk. As the last couple of years have amply shown, he just just isn’t up to the job of being Canadian Prime Minister. Even a half way competent one would have called in the witless Provincial Premiers Horgan (BC) and Notley (Alberta) and firmly told them to stop playing les bougres risibles with Canadian jobs. He’s got to go. The Federal elections in 2019 can’t come soon enough.

Not so delightful has been the news that Amsterdam is going to try and cut down tourism by restricting holiday rentals and putting up hotel taxes. Fortunately this won’t interfere with our travel plans this year as the changes don’t come into effect until January 2019. Talk about being a victim of your own success, eh?

Sweet FA

Not much happening at the moment apart from work, work, work. Sweet Fanny Adams in fact. Just number crunching, which isn’t part of my usual workaday skill set, but it’s not really dragon magic, just a big game of arithmetical join the dots. I’m just mildly surprised that no-one else in this particular company has just buckled down and sorted out the mess they created for themselves. Oh well, it all makes work for the working man to do. As in ‘the gas man cometh’. See below.

I see that Starbucks is caught in a perfect PC storm where two guys who wanted to use premises without the normal niceties of a commercial transaction cried ‘foul’ when they behaved like arses and got nicked. Now that haven or PC hipsters has come under fire for asking two of a protected class to behave like ordinary people or leave. Does the boycott these Twatterers are talking about mean we’ll be able to get a table now all the latte classes will be boycotting Starbucks? Good. Although this means the hate mob will have to find another coffee shop chain to haunt. Who knows. if they all fuck off and stop hogging tables and bandwidth for hours at a time maybe other patrons will get a look in? As far as coffee shops are concerned, these keyboard warriors can’t be the most profitable of customers.

Mrs S likes Starbucks, but honestly I’m not that impressed. My taste is for less bitter brews. I prefer Italian roasts like Lavazza myself.

A visual treat

As a lover of ‘hard’ sci-fi, every so often you come across stuff that tweaks a nerve. This offering from Artifex studios had me riveted. Although while one of the scenes was playing I was a bit irritated at the Astronauts reactions to an emergency. Why the hell did he not have his freaking helmet on?

Verdict; could have been a little better with more realistic performances. In that I mean less overt emotion, not more, a more stunned reaction at the end, a little evidence of disorientation maybe. Overall, very, very well done indeed. Almost, but not quite great. Adam Stern is definitely a director to watch. Just needs a bit more nuance and he’ll have it bagged and tagged.

Certainly beats a lot of the rather second rate stuff appearing on NetFlix.

Have I missed anything?

We’ve had snow. Nothing much, just a hard sugar frosting which will be gone by tomorrow. So what’s the latest craze? Oh yes, it’s something called the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ which has been sliding under my radar, so I’m having to play catch up.

Like with the documentary above. Watch it all. Seriously. Food for thought and an antidote to the screaming incoherence from the extreme side of both political aisles. ‘Dark’? Not really methinks. Just depends how naive you are. Or could it be said that the path to enlightenment leads through the darkness of accepting our own ignorance? Hmm. Sounds suitably apocryphal.

This weekend I’ve been introducing Mrs S to the work of Dr Jordan Peterson and the theories of Karl Jung. Her response was, “Why haven’t I come across this before?” I replied that I didn’t know. Which sparked off one of our long in depth conversations where I told her how I’d learned and failed until I found out how to reconcile and control the diverse parts of my personality. From which I derived the thought that there are people out there who rely on others not having integrated their dark side properly (I’m looking at you Skywalker! And your Father.) and thus gained the emotional distance necessary to reason. Perhaps because the only way to access these essentials to becoming a more rounded individual have previously been hidden in academic level psychology courses or been overshadowed by popular religion and new age psychobabble.

Just an afterthought, but why is open discussion of ideas being called the intellectual dark web? I know ‘Dark Web’ is one of those labels invented for the hard of thinking as far as the wide open prairies of the jolly old Interweb is concerned, but ‘intellectual’? Doesn’t that imply that many out in medialand are unable to discuss ‘uncomfortable’ issues like grown ups? Now as far as I can see, the TV talking heads seem to be pushing an agenda whilst not recognising their own blatant biases and how repulsively divisive and dishonest they are being. Whether they are just victims of mindless groupthink or deliberately being obtuse I leave to my last remaining reader’s good(?) judgement.

Indeed, it is my observation that all many talking media heads do is slap a cheap label on something then never actually think or re-examine the issue again, except to react to the label like a dog whistle. Like GMO’s being ‘Frankenfood’s’ or referring to genetic interventions to help would-be parents with a hereditary defect that can be genetically corrected as ‘Designer Babies’. Both of which are highly misleading. As are referring to certain practices being ‘kind’. By way of illustration, the evils of Eugenics and involuntary Euthanasia used to be defined as ‘kind’ by such luminaries as the Fabian Society in the early parts of the 20th century. It was only after large scale experiments conducted in Europe and the Far East between 1933 and 1946 had filled a few million graves that the whole matter was ditched as a really epoch-breaking bad idea. Until recently.

As for Dr Peterson’s online lectures, I do believe Mrs S has become quite a fan. Well, she’s watched ten of his YouTube videos plus a few on related topics this Sunday and she’s already asked me about buying his book; “12 Rules for life, an antidote to Chaos“. I may even send copies to the Stepkids.

A Marxist Joke

I’m very busy at present with a new job, some medical tests my doctor seems to think are essential, despite feeling quite well and full of beans. So not much time to blog. This post has been put together over a week or so concerning a matter than has made me crank the old lips up in an ironic half smile.

Here’s a question. When did the workers begin to seize the means of production? I ask my last remaining reader because it occurs to me that it wasn’t a Marxist at all who made it happen. Not Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Chavez, Maduro or Castro but ironically someone from the other end of the political spectrum.

I was over at Longrider’s blog last week I think, perusing the comments on one post and I suddenly had an epiphany. It’s a fairly simple exercise in applied logic with a large side serving of irony and I think anyone who doesn’t get the joke needs a quick jump start on the old frontal lobes with an ECT machine. I frequently see it said from left wing sources that ‘property is theft’ and that the workers should seize the means of production, but here’s a thing, what if the workers, of whom I count myself a part having spent much of my life as a working man, have already been taking a firm hold on the ‘means of production’ for several decades. At least in the UK. Certainly over here across North America where the practice is widespread.

No, I’m not talking about nationalisation, that’s just the bureaucratic state taking anything it can lay it’s greasy little mitts on. When it comes to actual ownership, the state and the individual are not the same thing, although the ‘State’ may be made up of a certain tranche of individuals it does not constitute an accountable entity. Indeed the ‘state’ is about as unaccountable as it gets with all the arse-covering that traditionally goes on in bureaucratic circles. I’ve seen state ownership first hand and it’s a process of managed decay, stillborn innovation, fear and inward bound loathing.

Now what I’m describing here is the quantum increase in small investors who are investing, crowdfunding, patreoning and supporting a wide variety of ventures all around the world. Literally enabling the means of production in a way that I think even old Karl would have gone “Yeah, Das Kapital, maybe needs a re-write.” Because the factory based society he designed his collectivist philosophy for died during the 1960’s and 70’s.

For my proof I’d first ask this question; where are the massive factories of yesteryear where thousands toiled? Where is the uniformity? In the much depleted corporate world? There are a few big employers, but nothing like the number of big industrial combines that once dotted the landscape. They’ve all been offshored, downsized, diversified and MBA’d. Where are the single workers collectives to ‘seize control’ of all the wealth generation?

The answer is very simple, via old fashioned much-disparaged capitalism. The kind of thing which allows people to put small pots of money in with larger pots to create investment. Pension funds, individual stocks and shares, government insecurities, gilts and all the rest. Through voting shares the individual investor is allowed a say in how a company is run and who runs it. In short, by purchasing shares they now have a small part ownership of the ‘means of production’. In the UK, this universal share ownership was most enthusiastically pushed by no less a person than, wait for it….

Margaret Thatcher.

Karl Marx wouldn’t have seen the joke, but I do.

Everybody loves…

…BC wines. Except for Alberta. Which is about to have its local booze supply cut off. Which will be great for wine importers, unless the NDP leader has a(nother) brain fart and decides that for ‘fairness’ sake, no one in Alberta can buy any wine from anywhere. Until then, importers of wines from everywhere else on the planet should benefit from increased sales. There are good BC Grown Canadian wines, but nothing really spectacular and they’re all pretty limited in distribution.

The news is that we’re having a little inter-provincial trade ‘war’ in Canada over a pipeline which the idiotic BC Provincial Government don’t want built. Denying employment to the very people they say they work for. Between two provincial governments from the same party. Which should tell you something about the Canadian NDP.

Of course Ottawa should have stepped in and cracked heads for this blatantly stupid inter party spat, but they’re the opposition Liberals, who are ‘led’ by the excruciatingly cringe-worthy international joke Justin Trudeau. So they will do absolutely bugger all because, well, ‘it’s 2018’ Duh. Unless of course the alphabet soup, religion of being blown to pieces or Uber-Feminist demographic somehow get involved. As far as the Liberals are concerned, no-one else matters. So they’ll watch the NDP Governments in Alberta and British Columbia go for each other’s throats and hope to profit politically by their misfortune. That and they might have given Federal permission for the pipeline, but they don’t really want it built to appease the rabid environmentalist organisations. Who get funding from the same vested interests as Trudeau did when he got a two million buck boost prior to his election run. Not that they need it. The brainwashing has been very effective out here on the wet coast.

Which is interesting, as is the leak that arch meddler and speculator George Soros is funding an anti-BREXIT campaign to the tune of GBP400,000. Which is pretty small beer for him. That’s chump change from a Billionaires perspective. Is this a very public display of reverse psychology or an “I want the Democracy I pay for” gesture? Or is it a double barrelled move? I have yet to make my mind up.

That’s interesting….

Reported in Liberty about mass surveillance in the UK. Headline reads.. “Court of Appeal rules Government surveillance regime IS unlawful” According to Martha Spurrier, Liberty’s Director:

“Yet again a UK court has ruled the Government’s extreme mass surveillance regime unlawful. This judgment tells ministers in crystal clear terms that they are breaching the public’s human rights. The latest incarnation of the Snoopers’ Charter, the Investigatory Powers Act, must be changed.

“No politician is above the law. When will the Government stop bartering with judges and start drawing up a surveillance law that upholds our democratic freedoms?”

Well, that will put a few noses out of joint. Kudos to UK MP Tom Watson for following through.

Meantime, many UK porn sites have been pushed by new laws into creating a registration scheme for users. Although this only affects UK (ab)users from April onwards. But not those with a VPN. Or accessing the web via an offshore proxy. Stuff many tech-savvy teenage boys can do without even bending a neuron.

Trip planning redux

Well, now here’s a thing. No sooner have Mrs S and I returned to Vancouver Island than we’re talking about another trip overseas. This time back to Europe.

At the moment we’re talking about flying direct to that shopping centre with an airport attached, Schipol, and using good old Amsterdam as our base to go gallivanting around Northwestern(ish) Europe. However, this is purely the discussion phase; we have to cost out the trip and keep track of our funds. Germany will be expensive, if we decide to include parts of it. I have business to attend to which cannot be put off any longer in the UK, and Mrs S is going to pop into London to visit with Youngest for a few days. By the end of the week we’ll have a better idea of where and when, although my UK visit is going to be limited to the northwestern Midlands. I’ve found out one of my Uncles is still alive and sinning, and I’d like the old boy to know all is good between our respective branches of the clan before he slips into the long night.

Not much else happening otherwise at El Sticker’s Hacienda. I’m already missing Australia, or rather the sunshine and warmth. And the awesome Asian fusion food. Tip for my last remaining reader, in Canada, Gourmet means with extra cheese. In BC most ‘curries’ are just big, very chewy chunks of meat in sauce, not a melt in the mouth spicy sensation at all. In Oz, getting a decent genuine curry is no problem. Why, in some places one almost might be in Manchester’s famous ‘Curry mile’ the quality is that good. Although that’s changing. Which is slightly saddening.

Nevertheless, one thing did tickle my funny bone this afternoon. Mrs S and I went out to purchase a slow cooker for preparing winter curries etcetera and noticed that you can purchase a marriage license at a store called London Drugs. Which kind of begged the question, where do you purchase a divorce? The spares department at Canadian Tire? (Although I daren’t look, herself is watching) You can certainly buy fishing and hunting licenses at most semi-rural grocery stores here on the island. So why not?

Hang on, she’s finding this just as funny, so in the word of the old joke*, I’ll just risk the one eye. Holy Maracas Batman! Divorce for as little as three hundred and thirty bucks? Two hundred for filing with the court plus ten bucks for registration. Eighty for the final registration and another forty for a certificate. Bloody hell, that’s quite a… sorry dear. I’m getting a look now. If you’ve been married for over ten years you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Returning to the less domestically dangerous topic of slow cookers, or ‘crock pots’ as they are called this side of the pond, the smallest we could buy was four US quarts capacity. Which is a tad over six and a half Imperial pints or a large gulp under four litres. That’s a lot of Chicken Madras and no mistake. So batch cooking a few stews will be on the agenda too. Our freezer can handle the overflow. Set everything going first thing and be ready for a substantial supper around six. Well, that’s the plan. Whether said scheme survives contact with reality is another matter.

There is such a concept as too much of a good thing.

TTFN.

* From the old English folk tale of Lady Godiva. The legendary Peeping Tom and a friend are lurking behind a fence with a large knot hole in it as the naked form of Lord Leofric’s wife rides through the streets of Coventry in her one woman tax protest. “Tom, don’t do it mate! Don’t look!” Urges Peeping Tom’s friend. “If you look at her naked flesh, you, you’ll go blind!”
To which the errant tradesman ties a strip of cloth over one side of his face like a crude eyepatch and replies. “Well in that case I’m only going to chance the one eye.”