Tag Archives: Amusement

Family stuff

Busy with organising for extended visit from Eldest on her way to the fabled land of Oz. She’s done her Africa experience, and now is looking to move down under. Her entry and work visa has been approved, flights are paid for, and backup finances put in place. Which may or may not be needed. Hey, she’s still young, so should do these things while she can enjoy them fully. We will assist where we are able while she gets settled in her new life. She’s got friends and family already in country, so she’s not going in completely cold. Hell, she’s even got mates in Vancouver who moved there after University, so no matter where she goes she’ll have a place to crash, as well as with Mrs S and I whilst she’s passing through Canada.

Which is cool. There’s always that sense of inhibition when you visit family, and the old bug-a-boo of things you always wanted to say but felt you couldn’t. Such as; “Why does no one talk about Uncle Henry?” or “Why didn’t Mum and Dad tell me?” This is something Mrs S and I try not to encourage. Because we both know from our own upbringings how toxic that can be. Repression brings nothing but regret and unhappiness, and over the years I’ve formed the opinion that’s way worse than giving an issue a bloody good shake out and airing. No matter how uncomfortable it is at the time. If you can’t talk about an issue, it just goes underground and festers, poisoning relationships and leaving problems unresolved. Which is something the current politically correct climate in academia, politics and media doesn’t help.

You see, I’m aware of all the problems my personal family history has brought and how it has in some cases stopped me from being a better human being. Now I’ve cheerfully accepted that I’m a real bastard son of a bitch, I feel much more relaxed about my life, and have determined not to pass that shit on to the next generation, while trying to improve my own lot. Put it this way, my stepkids do not have either my, or Mrs S’s hang ups and have been set free to make their own way in the world. With a little help from us older folks of course, who in my case is setting a thoroughly bad example, just to show that fun can be had, no matter what age you are.

As well as all the “But you can’t say that!” voices crying out that we should not talk about certain issues, or even allude to said facts existence, there’s a ‘health’ lobby out there determined that we will all end our days restricted to ‘care’ homes, dribbling out our dotage, and subject to naught but pity as the Alzheimers inexorably robs us of our marbles, bowel and bladder control. Me, I know that it’s a short life but a merry one, and that seeing as there’s precious little of it, intend to relax and take what comes, even if my last words are “Shit! The ripcord didn’t work!” or “Just a moment, I’ve had an idea.” or even “Bloody Satnav!” When the book closes on me, there will be no regrets but that which says “I wish I’d had time to do more.”

Life may be a terminal disease, but you only get one, no matter what any priest or politician says when they want you to do what you’re bloody well told, you, you utter peasant, you. My only reply to that is outright contempt, and if this makes me not worth talking to, then it has the upside of freeing me from the interminable blatherings of the dim and depressing.

Anyway, I’ll conclude today’s little missive with a misquote by one of my old boon companions (often falsely attributed to Sir Walter Scott or William Blake). “Better one hour of crowded life, than an eternity without a name.” Although I think his version was actually an improvement on Mordaunt’s original.

Reading Chesterton

Many of the Scriblerus group writers remember some G K Chesterton from pre-PC English Literature courses. A number of us are fond of quoting from one of his most famous poems ‘The secret people‘, specifically the verse below when talking about the lack of real democracy in the European Union and elsewhere;

They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.

For my part, as an antidote to the idiocy of the world and alternative to both Internet and TV, I have elected to rediscover some of his more obscure works like ‘Eugenics and other Evils (1922) and ‘What’s wrong with the world” (1910) Which I am currently reading through in my odd unquiet moments, when family and other matters beyond my power to fix become too distracting. Yet what I’m seeing is the many parallels between what G K was writing about in the early 20th century and more recent events. To quote Mark Twain “History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Chesterton’s works still resonate. Especially in today’s economic and political climate.

Good grief. Reading Chesterton Bill? You’re not about to embrace Catholicism are you? No, definitely not. I’ve embraced a number of Catholic girls (Cough) before I was married of course, but never been tempted by their religion. Having read about many of the world’s religions my observation is that they are either attempts to influence random events like the weather or roll of dice, or to stop people chopping each other to bits over power or property by hanging an imaginary Sword of Damocles over their head so that everyone else can get on with their lives. Without getting chopped to pieces by the protagonists, that is. My belief is that if you occasionally bang people’s heads together hard enough, sometimes you get an echo of sanity and they will either compromise or fix a given problem without the notion of a God or other authority figure. Because it is in their common interest to do so. Most of the time, unfortunately, this is wishful thinking on my part because it implies that the intelligence required for this kind of thinking is more widespread than it actually is. Which is demonstrably not the case. Other people will have other opinions on this matter, which they are quite entitled to. So long as they tolerate me, I’ll tolerate them.

Talking of tolerance; Hilary Clinton has reportedly stated that if she is elected US President she will shut down ‘All Alternative Media’. Mostly this is thought to be stuff like Breitbart and Infowars put out. However, if a blogger decides to voice similar sentiments, who is to say they may not be arrested under such legislation for ‘thought crime’? Which of course will take the US one more step down the path towards being a dictatorial banana republic. And if you listen to the bigoted outpourings of the SJW crowd, who insist that everything is racist, sexist or homophobic or whatever buzzwords they choose to define their whole existence as being against, and which only they get to define, then people will end up going to jail merely for having a different view of the world, or contradicting their ‘betters’. The word ‘betters’ in this context being so packed with irony that it’s already beginning to rust.

Shutting down dissent is as good a reason as I can think of not to vote for Clinton. But then I’m Canadian now, so who cares what I think? However, I certainly think old G K would have had something to say, especially about laws restricting what opinions you are allowed to have.

A place to go

Ever heard of ‘Liberland‘? A small, almost forgotten 7 square kilometre parcel of land on the Croatian and Serbian borders, recently claimed by a bunch of renegade individualists for a grand social experiment. I’ve just realised that it may be not too far off our planned 2017 grand motorcycle tour.

Freedom for Liberland! from MEL Films on Vimeo.

Worth a visit, not worth a visit? Worth going to just to get a stamp on our passports, if they do that sort of thing? I have no idea. But it’s just the kind of goofy, off the beaten track adventure we’re looking for. We’ve got a planned stop around Split in Croatia. Could be worth a day trip.

Wonder if there’s a decent hotel close by?

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.

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.”

Trump card

Now that Donald J Trump is officially the Republican Presidential nominee I expect to keep hearing even more stories about people from south of the border (and I don’t mean Mexicans) threatening to move to Canada should he become President of the USA. Trust me chaps, it’s a bad idea. Honestly, as this cartoon by the irrepressible XKCD points out. Our Winters can get a bit brutal, especially in the Rockies and Eastbound. Which is why most of us prefer to snuggle up close to the 49th Parallel or thereabouts. Even here in the comparatively mild Maritime climate of the Pacific Northwest it can get decidedly chilly. Especially Campbell River and north.

Dont move to canada To begin with, north of the 49th parallel we do not enjoy the same diversity of goods as in the US of A. Grocery stores do not stock wine or even lite beer. Did I also mention it’s more expensive to live up here as well? Food and rent prices are generally higher, and property costs more to buy, even with the current exchange rate. A lot of places close on public holidays as well as Sundays and Mondays and Wal-Mart is no longer taking VISA payments in some of its stores. And if you want to shop at Target instead… oh, wait. You can’t. They’re all shut. Permanently. Then there’s the bears. Who aren’t to be messed with, even in the suburbs of Vancouver. They’re are also known to break into cars (To be fair, it was a Lexus). On the plus side, the wildlife does tend to keep the human varmints indoors, when they’re not indulging in the odd gang shooting (The gang bangers, not the Bears or Cougars). Which keeps our local Police busy. Yes, and Marijuana isn’t fully legal just yet. So before you sell up and fill up the U-Haul, take a deep breath.

Then there’s the Governance. It’s a bit more, well, intrusive if you know what I mean. Especially at the local scale. We might currently have a progressive prime minister, but no, Canada is not the progressive paradise you might think it is. Trudeau or no.

Don’t even mention the First Nations land claims or the endless prevaricating over relatively simple decisions like building a new sewage treatment facility for BC’s provincial capital. Or that our Provincial Prime Minister avoids coming to Victoria as much as possible because there’s “No real people” here (Which I find a bit insulting). Dear me no. A can of worms? More like truckloads. It’s why things move at a slower pace up here in the not so frozen north. Especially immigration.

However, we like it, but for Americans some of our more, ahem, eccentric practices might be too much of an an acquired taste. So are you damn Yankees absolutely sure you’re going to head north if, or more likely when, Donald Trump becomes the next US President?

Minor issue

If my last remaining reader visits the comment stream in the previous entry they could be forgiven for thinking something is amiss. Particularly comments marked “Fake comment” or “Another fake comment” with Longriders gravatar attached. Not so; we have an impersonator troll issue from a total slaphead who used to hound the late lamented Captain Ranty amongst others. Our impersonator troll seems not to have learned anything from that experience, which does not imbue one with any confidence in his cognitive abilities. At present I’m actually having a bit of fun with our unwanted visitor, who is currently reduced to the level of highly unimaginative monosyllabic invective. Poor ickle bunny, has I upset oo den?

An Internet TrollSo I’m trying very hard not to howl with laughter as I type. He is such a sad, deluded little puffed up pile of unpleasantness I’m almost tempted (But not quite) to get my pity out of cold storage. On the other hand, why bother? To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw’s Henry Higgins from the stage play ‘Pygmalion‘ (Act 2, pg. 40) “He’s so deliciously low”

Should any of you wish to hear the story of how our rather unpleasant little visitor was first encountered, may I refer you to this post from May 2012. You may be amused.

I’ll block him when I tire of his shenanigans.

Interesting…

I’ve just been fielded an email about the UK’s referendum to exit the European Union. Specifically about this press release from London Law firm Miscon De Reya’s legal challenge regarding the EU Referendum result. Oddly enough on behalf of anonymous clients. The briefest précis of which is to forbid the UK’s Prime Minister ‘triggering’ Article 50 without a full parliamentary debate and act of Parliament.

However, there are differing opinions; the Jack of Kent blog runs a legal thought experiment on whether or not, because the intent had already been stated to ‘trigger’ article 50 if the British people voted in favour of leaving, then a Parliamentary debate and act of Parliament is unnecessary.

Pass it on; this looks like being fun.

Not doomed then…

There’s a lot of doom and gloom being talked at the moment, and what Julie Birchill calls ‘poncing around on twitter’. Seriously, she’s in good fooling with this article (Thank you Bishop Hill). If you take all the pessimistic views from the bought and paid for lamestream and all the ‘Remainder’ twats panicking on twitter, then everything in the UK is going tits up in a massive way. Which back in realityville, just isn’t happening. The market has taken a hit, that much is true. Sterling is down over ten cents against the Canadian and US Dollars, but it was far lower when Harper was Canadian Prime Minister.

Yesterdays rate is about the same as back in September 2014, (around CAD$1.72). If you go back to my 2013 screenshot, the exchange rate was even lower.Currency screenshot November 2013 So it’s not the ‘lowest in 31 years’, far from it. As for ‘dollar parity’, that’s just a wild guess invented to scare the peons. As someone who needs to move money between countries a few times a year, I’m not panicking, far from it.

Actually I have a more positive view. I’m actually quite sanguine about the whole ‘out of EU’ business. Which my instincts tell me will be good for UK businesses and their trading partners after this short-term glitch, thus good for those who need a job, long term. The Bank of England has good liquidity and is solid as a bank can be. The UK economy overall isn’t in that bad a shape. The European banks and EU, I’m not so sure. With their track record of ‘losing’ 6 Billion unspecified Euros in 2013, to cite but one example, and not getting their finances signed off by the European Court of Auditors up to 2007. Since then the accounts have been rubber stamped but with some ‘observations of wastage’. No matter what the Euro apologists say, I’m less than confident about the EU’s ability to remain fiscally stable. No matter the gripes and veiled threats of raised tariffs, the EU has way more to lose from a divorce than the UK, and all the globalist bedwetters certainly don’t have a clue.

Now before Brexit became a probability, I was going to pull my money out of Sterling, but have decided to leave it where it is so it can breed with all those other lovely UK connected currency units and raise far more babies. Which will turn into more readies for Mrs S and I, and probably pay off the college funds for the next generation when they arrive (Although, please God, not just yet). And if handled right will provide for another generation after that.

As for Europe and travel. Our next big trip for 2017 has just entered the planning stages and we will be taking in the UK, Denmark, Netherlands, Atlantic France, South of France, Italy and maybe further East. On a motorcycle. Specifically a 2017 Triumph Trophy SE 1215. We’re going to ship it over via Air Canada’s new motorcycle service and ride around some haunts old and new. The general overview is a week or two at each location, maybe more depending on whether we’ll be hitting the vineyards in a big way or just pootling around sightseeing. Mrs S and I are both dual nationality, so can use either passport to cross borders and thus get around some of the visa restrictions that might be put in place.

Languages? Our French is adequate for day to day conversation, my German and Italian pretty basic, but enough to get by on. When I say ‘pretty basic’ I mean being able to count to a hundred, order a beer or three, say ‘please’, ‘Good day’, ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m Canadian / English’, book a hotel room and ask people to speak more slowly. I’ve even picked up the odd word in Swahili from Eldest who is currently working in Africa and heading off to the fabled land of Oz later this year. Our legal eagle (Youngest) is coming over for Christmas, even if we end up paying her air fare, so we’re looking forward, not back.