Tag Archives: Amusement

That was fun… not

Wednesday was a bit of a day all things considered. Kind of a good news / bad news day. There used to be a pub game where you had to take an item of news and spin it to either be good or bad. I think the gag has fallen into disuse since the 1970’s, but I’d like to dust this old joke off just for todays post.

First, the bad news; our current landlady refused to give us a reference. (You can boo now)
Now the good news; our new landlord accepted a reference from the bank! (Cheer wildly)
Ah, the bad news; we’ve got to change our address. (Boo, hiss)
Now the good news; to a much bigger apartment! (Yay!)
The bad news; the new apartment needs redecoration. (Euw!)
The good news; new landlord has offered to pay for the paint. (Cool!)

And so on. Okay, we’ve shelled out half the damage deposit already (No need to boo, joke’s over) but that’s secured our new tenancy for January 1st by which time all our kit will be undercover in the new place, and we’ll be painting over the current hideous colour scheme. Opening the doors to let in a bright sparkly 2017 and letting out tired old 2016 and a whole lot of paint fumes. Yes we’ll be paying more rent, but it won’t break the bank.

Now this will inevitably result in complications over the festering season, but complications and challenges are a piece of store bought Christmas cake with fondant icing on top. At least to us.

First complication is new furniture arriving tomorrow with Mrs S due to disappear for the weekend while I deal with the first practicalities. I’m a bloke, so this is my part of the ship. With Mrs S out of the way I can begin packing without interruption. All I need is enough packing tape as we already have boxes galore flat packed and ready for action. No doubt it’ll keep me out of trouble until she arrives back on Sunday. Another complication will be youngest arriving on the 20th of December for a week or so, but I have a cunning plan to have the majority of non-essentials packed and good to go long before then. After which she has decided she wants to stay with sister-in-law mid island. As far as decor is concerned, we can cover any gaps with tinsel and decorations until move out time. This may put me to some minor inconvenience, but what the hell, I’ve probably coped with worse. The decorations will have to come down a few days before 12th Night, but that’s no biggie. Rather reminds me of our first ever move within BC. That happened at New Year as well. Which I did with minimal help. Again from a small suite to a much bigger apartment. When we moved to Victoria in June 2014, we were downsizing. Now we need more space so we can work better.

Regarding the refused reference; no, we haven’t trashed the apartment. Even before packing it’s probably cleaner than when we first moved in, and I’m stone cold certain it will be abso-fucking-lutely sparkling when we move out. Because that’s what we do. You know why our landlady actually refused? Because we’re good tenants and she doesn’t want us to leave. Seriously. Which in an odd sort of way is rather sweet.

Funny old business, life.

For the moment

Until some bastard ruins it of course, life is good. The clouds that have marred the past two years are gradually clearing, and providing everyone does their job properly (Something I will be keeping a very close eye on) the Sticker household can look forward to a much rosier future. Winning after such a protracted battle is very, very nice indeed. A sensation only marred by the knowledge that if those concerned had followed my guidance last bloody year, the recent legal and financial mess I’m just extricating myself from could have been avoided altogether. I’d have probably made more money too, but what the hell, I’m getting out of a toxic business relationship and will not enter another like it again. Not without a differently worded contract. So that is a compensation. Everything is a learning experience and the approaching sound of people finally coughing up is Handel’s Messiah to my shell-likes. Well boys, you took your bloody own sweet time. However, now it’s all over bar the shouting, I’m going to contemplate being able to lie back and enjoy the things that are the best in life. What me? sarcastic? Never… (Embarrassed cough)

The following rather sums up my current world view.

Yes, and if you are a sarky old git like my fellow members of the Bill Sticker Society for Sarcasm and Irony, then you’re naturally more intelligent (Scientifically proven, see below), and by being sarcastic force other people to up their intellectual game. Stopping the less mentally acute coasting through their lives and apply the brakes (or accelerator) of self examination. Rescuing them from the living death of pointless conformity. Bringing the PC-afflicted a little non-violent emotional release. I mean, come on, doesn’t using sarcasm successfully make you feel better against the aggressive, and more pertinently, the passive-aggressive?

Like ‘preferred gender pronouns’ for example. An idea only liked by a few eccentric academics and the mentally ill (These terms may be viewed as interchangeable). If the poisonous bill C-16 gets onto the books in Canada, then the only defence against the politically correct speech code it enforces will be sarcasm.

Some say sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but those who do rather miss the point. Sarcasm is actually a readily learnable linguistic response which provides, not only a social defence mechanism for the powerless, but an offensive tool in the war for civilisation against the Politically Correct and insufferably earnest and dull. And we mustn’t offend them, must we?

More than twice an hour. (Twinkle) Or more. (Twinkle, snort of derision)

Sarcasm. An essential tool for dealing with the stumbling blocks of life. Without it, our current civilisation could not exist. Got to love it.

Anti-social media

Dentists today, and as usual, no problems. One thing my genetic heritage has blessed me with is a good set of choppers, teeth that have stood up to being abused many times over the years, including being used as adjustable grips, wire strippers and bottle openers. My hygienist was complimentary about their current state, and no fillings or other treatments were required. A state of affairs my Dentist, my wallet and I are very happy about.

While I was waiting for my date in ‘the chair’ I saw the following little missive posted on the notice board, which rather tickled my fancy.

“I’ve noticed recently how successful and popular some people are thanks to Social media like Facebook and Twitter. They post messages telling everyone what they are doing, what breakfast cereal they ate, who they talked to, funny videos of their cat chasing a torch beam, what shoes they like, whose party they went to, how many times they went to the toilet and what it looked like before they flushed it down. The wonderful thing is that thousands of people ‘like’ what these online celebrities post and ‘follow’ their every activity.”

“As I’m not a particularly popular person and don’t have many real friends, I thought I’d take a leap of faith and apply the principles of social media to real life. So I decided to obsessively greet total strangers in the street, telling them my whole life story, who my friends are, what funny things their pets do, the silly things they do when drunk, who my parents are and who they work for and every single thing we talk about including Dad’s recent arrest for sex crimes and embezzlement. I even showed my new friends pictures and videos on a computer tablet that I take with me wherever I go. And when they say they like it, I give them a thumbs up, and they do the same to me! It’s fabulous! I’ve never felt so popular!”

“And great news! My strategy has worked! After only a week I have six brand new ‘friends’; two Policemen, a private investigator, two psychiatric social workers and a nice Doctor Lecter who has already invited me around for tea!”

Okay, you’ve probably guessed that when it comes to the much-vaunted online social media, I am a self confessed Marxist of the Groucho faction. Some people seem to spend their entire lives on it, then get all bent out of shape when some embarrassing feature of their real life is put on public display or their wages disappear because someone has guessed that their online banking password is still ‘password’. To which I’d respond with the old saw “If you can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have joined.” In Social media’s defence however, I think it would be fair to say that one should always remember that these are public platforms which offer a degree of utility, but perhaps not quite enough to justify throwing your privacy rights and quality time on the fire.

Katla

In-laws are currently in Europe due to fly back next week, and if the signs and portents from Iceland are right, they may have a bit of a wait to get home. Yes, it’s time for seismic grumbling from South East Iceland again. Which I ascribe to all the illicit Hákarl dumping. I’m told rotting Greenland Shark meat is a ‘delicacy’, which is one of those hilarious euphemisms for “Let’s see what we can get the tourists to eat”. Either that or one of those “Well, it’s not that bad once you get used to it” foods dreamed up when it was a case of eat your putrescent poisonous fish or starve to death.

Seriously, there’s a Yellow warning for Katla, a large volcano lurking under the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which is one of those wonderful Viking names you’d swore the locals made up to make English speaking newsreaders look like idiots. Well, just because they don’t do the rape, burn and pillage thing any more doesn’t mean these descendants of Vikings have lost their sense of mischief, does it? The little tinkers.

Anyway, nothing has gone boom just yet, but those in the know are betting on an eruption in the not too distant future, even though at the time of writing there’s no harmonic tremor. However, when that is detected, then an eruption has already started and it’s a bit late to put your nearby Icelandic Holiday Home on the market.

Icelandic Met Office pages can be found here for regular updates.

What else might delay In-laws return? Hurricane Matthew, which is currently tearing northbound through the Caribbean? Hmm. If I was going to attempt a Transatlantic flight during the next few days, I’d be making damned sure my travel insurance covered accommodation costs in case of delay. I’ve tried kipping in airport terminals before, and it’s no fun at all.

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.”