Tag Archives: Canada

Winter is coming…

Forgive the quick ‘Game of Thrones’ riff but I foresee a change in politics here on the left coast of BC. The price of gas (petrol) is currently up at European levels and there’s even a threat of shortages if the inter-NDP turf war between BC and Alberta continues throughout Summer. All over a pipeline expansion. Not that the Ottawa Trudeaupians will be doing anything. The e-ideological blinkers are on and the people who will end up hurting the most are your basic average Canadian. The poorest most of all.

Let me expand. Higher gas and ‘carbon’ taxes mean the price of everything goes up. Why? Well because in Canada most stuff moves by truck and if the cost of transport goes up, what do you think the distributors and retailers are going to do? Watch their profit margins disappear? See their businesses sucked dry of capital for improvement and staff wages? Guess who is going to feel the burn first. Go on. Prize to that clever clogs at the back! The people who are always first to catch it in the neck. The poorest workers, that’s who. All the shortly to be laid off support staff. Shop workers, all the minimum wage folk who will lose their jobs and are now paying more to get to work even if they’re lucky not to be pink-slipped (Laid off). These are the people who will have to make the choice between Chicken and canned beans. Pensioners and anyone else on a fixed income. All the people the NDP, Greens and Liberals claim to support. Irony, much?

These are the ruling NDP, Green and Liberal parties who haven’t been able to sort out a sewage treatment plant for Victoria for the last few decades. which means Victoria for example discharges raw sewage into the Juan de Fuca. The ones who would rather build bicycle lanes and paint rainbow crosswalks than sort out the local rail line. Those who suspend tax audits on their tax-dodging political friends and supporters. Proposing changes to tax regulations on ‘charities’ so that tax exempted organisations taking foreign money can politically campaign against Canadian interests. Which is supposed to be against the law because it’s a corrupt, third world practice that only benefits extremely rich sponsors like foreign oil companies, hedge funds and other speculators with a vested interest in keeping Canada down.

We’ll be away in Europe when incoming shit may well start to hit the fan in July, our money far out of the grasp of tax greedy politicians. Which is one of today’s tasks. Wills have been drawn up and signed, trusts established, executors appointed and money put aside to pay for same. We here at Maison Sticker are not millionaires, but we do plan. Dry ingredients will be in the larder and the freezer full. Even in the unlikely event there’s temporarily no fuel to go to the stores my most critical rule will apply. No one goes hungry on my watch.

For those currently too busy keeping their heads only just above water the result of all these changes will be palpable, raising living costs for those who can least afford to take the hit. For them, the sun may currently be shining but it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Winter is most certainly coming. For us, Mrs S and I have discussed this matter and are looking at moving our base of operations into another jurisdiction. Somewhere our buck has a far heftier bang while having good transport links to another safe haven.

Update:  For those interested, this is a rough guide to the Kinder Morgan pipeline situation; the BC NIMBY’s (Not In My Back Yard) and BANANA’s (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anywhere) claim that an increase in oil flow will lead to catastrophic spills and increased tanker traffic bringing invasive marine species, more global warming (Hah!) and there will be signs and portents of the end of days.  So the NDP and Greens are opposed to increasing pipeline capacity from Alberta. Which means we can’t sell to the Chinese or Asian markets as effectively.

A lot of foreign funded NGO’s are also opposed (For their own reasons) and are lobbying the provincial and federal governments, even though under current tax law they should lose their tax status and government hand outs for doing so.  The Liberal Trudeaupians are also opposed, but scared witless of the opposition in the oil producing provinces (Alberta,Saskatchewan & Manitoba) going back to the Conservatives.  So they officially make all the right noises, but unofficially are letting BC and Alberta Duke it out with petty little wine and beer restrictions.  Result; stalemate with a threat of Alberta switching off the oil tap entirely, but at the same time giving the NDP time to buy oil supplies from the USA.  Which is insane for an oil-rich country like Canada which actually supplies the US.

The upshot is that Alberta has lost and is losing investment and jobs, as has BC.  All because of the NDP/Green coalitions doctrinaire opposition to fossil fuels and the mistaken belief that an atmospheric trace gas controls the climate.   Even when the real (and more up to date) science quite reasonably points out that the claimed ‘signature’ of the trace gases effect is lost in the ‘noise’ of a semi-chaotic climate system.  If CO2 really were the culprit for an increase in global temperature, they might reasonably ask, then why is it snowing in Newfoundland?  In late May.

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Petersonism

Having finished my second re-read of his work ’12 Rules for life – an antidote to chaos’. To bowdlerise Mark Anthony’s funeral speech from Julius Caesar; I write to praise Jordan B Peterson, not to bury him. He has it. In his video lectures lie the answer to the craziness of compelled speech and the ugliness of political correct(less)ness.

Like the one below, he addresses the concepts with a sympathetic interviewer. Although he’s demonstrated an ability to operate in what others would call ‘hostile environments’. Like more than holding his own in hostile interviews, like with that of Cathy Newman.

Incidentally, I found among all the biblical stories, where Jordan draws upon the folk tales ensconced within the Christian bible (And Walt Disney), a lot of principles which I’d always tried (and too often failed) to live up to, much of worth and use. Like the stuff my Dad tried to teach me but failed. So I had to learn for myself, and apply what little wisdom I obtained to my life. Which has been an uneven process. The problem for me was always the religious references. As a teen I saw how organised religion poisoned communications between people, only serving the believers while punishing those for non-belief. So the moment religion crept into the argument, I switched off. I suspect a lot of other people felt this way too.

Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps these folk tales he draws on could do with a little re-framing?

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.

Earwigo again

“It was the worst of times, the best of times. the age of tech, was the age of feelz, the epoch of meme and trolling. It was the era of Pepe, the rise of Kek, the season of Autism, a spring of hope, the winter of lies.”

Which Dickens misquote (From the opening lines of a ‘Tale of Two Cities’) rather sums up how I feel about the online world at the moment. Either that or it’s the last vestiges of jet lag. It’s all academic anyway. All my ‘social media’ accounts are either deleted, dead, or weed strewn and abandoned.

Now we’re back in BC, in the not so frozen north the Trudeau government looks ever more like becoming a kind of soft fascist regime with it’s focus on Justin’s cult of popularity and the Liberals determination to control everything, including thought and speech. Which certainly ticks at least three boxes on the ‘Are you a fascist regime’ checklist. After hearing Justin’s performance at Davos, I’m thinking it might even be time to think about bailing out while the getting is good. I’ve also overheard people in the streets bitching about price increases and my eyes tell me they’re not far wrong. As for Trudeau, his sockpuppet popularity is slipping and no-one outside of Canada really takes him that seriously.

The trouble is with Canadian politics that there’s no statesman with enough balls to stand up to all the wishy washy PC crap which is driving a lot of really bad legislation. There’s no one who seems to want to stand up to all the vested protectionist interests and touchy feely bollocks prevalent in Canadian Society.

Anyway, non existent Tsunamis notwithstanding, I’m back flying a desk again and Mrs S has delegated a few tasks to me while my line of work is slack, of logging on and off this Worksafe BC malarkey for her. Despite me being less than thirty feet away, she is classed as a ‘lone worker’ and must be ‘protected’ by phoning in every four hours to an automated service that takes a monthly fee. According to the operational terms, if she misses a call, she’s supposed to get a callback by a human operator to see if she’s okay. Which doesn’t happen by the way, it’s a completely automated system which just calls back repeatedly, as we found out yesterday when I missed a check in. Some ‘protection’ eh? Mandated by a BC Government agency that won’t check out less safe work environments like up island logging operations. At least this is what Mrs S’s contacts tell her. Yet because she works from home, she must be ‘monitored’. Yeah, right. Because she’s ‘at risk’ of getting a paper cut or stubbing her toe at home within ten metres of a husband (Me) who has had proper medical training and real life experience of assisting in real emergencies and almost half a dozen means of calling for some form of assistance. Voice, cell phone, home phone, skype, email, as well as yours truly popping by every hour or two to make tea or coffee. So an automated callback system which doesn’t really do anything apart from ring off if there’s no response is, as I am wont to say, “the next best thing to useless.” But we have to have it by law. Or else we get fined. Is that ‘fair’? You tell me.

Another annoyance since I returned from the fabled land of Oz, is Google and my cell phone company being a pain. I’m not receiving calls or text messages despite my phone bill being paid up to date. Then Google wants to do stuff ‘to improve my security’ and every time it does, and every time I get on a plane, it fucks with my email. Which I resent. I have good security. I run VPNs, a full range of anti-virus, anti-spyware and change my email password intermittently. Yet still I have to put up with all their ‘security’ crap when I won’t let them know if I’m taking a figurative shit or not or which bathroom I’m using in which country. So Gmail has to go. All my accounts. Sorry guys, it’s been fun but it’s time for me to move on with all the other grown ups.

Given the aggravation with my cell phone, I’m also shopping for a new one as it looks like Canada will be shutting down the GSM network in 2018, leaving my old Nokia 6310 useless for anywhere within North America, but I’m also looking for a multi-Sim phone which isn’t Google dominated. Or at least lets me use non-Google services and apps. If my last remaining reader has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

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.”

Officialdom, an object lesson

Well, as with any return to home base, there’s always good and bad news. The snail mail contained a number of not quite unforeseen bills and the usual round of things which had to be paid right now. A couple of difficult to reach taps had stuck. The phone wouldn’t work until I’d spent half an hour with tech support on the line while stripping out the modem for several hard reboots. And sadly my Tomato plants have died. That’s right, all of them. The watering device worked, but the recent BC cold snap took it’s toll and there is nothing to be done but recycle as compost. Such is life.

Still recovering from jet lag, but one item of personal news had me pumping my right hand and saying “YES!” in a loud triumphant tone. Let me enlarge. Just before we were due to leave for the fabled land of Oz I had a run in with a minor branch of Canada’s bureaucracy. What they were demanding would almost certainly have demolished our travel plans and they were quite willing, one would say even eager, to wave the full force of authority in our face with threats of fines and even imprisonment. Over a relatively minor matter, but that’s bureaucracy for you. Even though I thought we had done nothing wrong and was gearing up to fight these faceless fuckers to their last breath. However, Mrs S tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of advice which I have so often given to others. “Don’t get mad – get devious.”

Now after my last run in with British bureaucrats two years ago I knew there was no point in taking their Canadian counterparts head on. Public sector employees love those who resist emotionally because they have the law, well at least their interpretation of it, on their side. So they think they can just tick a few boxes and hey presto, you’re up before the Judge, fuming with outrage and struggling to put together a defence while watching lawyers fees chew merrily through your hard won resources.

Now for those of you who think that butting heads with officialdom Ranty-style is the right thing to do, take a tip from your Uncle Bill. Don’t. Don’t ever play the bureaucrats game because they make up and interpret the rules as they go along. Seriously. I’ve worked alongside these people and this is how they think. They’re right, you’re wrong, so pucker up buttercup. You will lose because they have a full house of two’s and fours against your piddling pair of threes, and they know the house rules better than you do. So don’t play their game.

What you need in these troubled times is a big friend who can ring the bureaucrats boss and say; “Your people are out of control, stop it.” For UK local government there are ombudsmen and all sorts of referees who will listen if you can take a deep breath and a slow step back before playing the victim trump card oh so carefully. Over here we have our local politicians. Federal Members of Parliament and Provincial Members of the Legislative Assemblies. These are the people who make the rules. And guess what? They work for you. Find one hungry enough for your vote, make your case without getting too histrionic and and there is a strong probability that they can get the mindless machine of bureaucracy to back off. Because that’s what a bureaucracy is, a barely-accountable brainless behemoth that follows set rules, no matter how square-headed and insane those rules might seem. All you have to do is find someone higher up the food chain to push the right button. The idea being to make your oppressors dinky little jackboots do a smart about face and quick march in the opposite direction. Away from you.

In short; when in doubt, escalate. Field your problem upstairs. Don’t shout, don’t threaten, don’t, whatever you do, simply get angry with the forces of dead-headed conformity. Because when you’re angry you’re not thinking straight exactly when when you most need to have your mind right and firing on all cylinders. And if you start shouting, any message will immediately get lost in all the emotion. The best you’ll get in that case is being put on hold as the person who really doesn’t need your shit buggers off for a coffee. If you get mad, they will win because all they have to do is nothing while you rail on at a dead line or some poor zero hours contract call centre drone on little better than minimum wage. Oh, and it goes without saying that you should record everything and refer back to any minor concession on their part in painstaking detail. Better still, speak softly, and let someone else wield the big stick on your behalf.

Furthermore. Don’t bother with junior management or departmental heads because they are the very people who would cheerfully sign the Dalai Llama’s death warrant if it meant they could finish early on Friday. So immediately go over their heads to someone with a little real power and make a carefully worded complaint, detailing how you think these public sector pen pushers are out of order. Which is what we did. And bless me Vicar, this time it worked. Hence my minor celebration. A letter has even arrived apologising for the ‘misunderstanding’. Although they can’t guarantee it won’t happen again. So, only a partial success. Just a reprieve.

Not that I believe the oily platitudes, but like someone who has been stung by nettles, or a bully who has just been kneed in the unmentionables, they will leave us alone for now. They may be back, but in the meantime I’m changing my phone number and migrating to a new email address. Which will do. The trick with bureaucrats, like with petty criminals, is to make their life just difficult enough so that is not worth the effort to bother you, but not so tricky as to make your life awkward. Or for now, which in our case will be long enough before we slip away into the mists and out of their reach. Which may just take the Sticker family even further than it has gone to date.

Which is another happy thought.

Restrictive practices

The longer I’m a global citizen, travelling the globe and finding what differences there are between countries, the more amazed I become. Today’s object lesson came from those jape-a-minute practical jokers, the main Canadian cell (Mobile, whatever) phone companies. Let me enlighten my one remaining reader. I have a GSM phone. One that works in just about every country on Earth. Tri-band, three frequencies, great range. Yet GSM phones are only supported by one Canadian company, Rogers. Bell, Telus, and all the sub variants of these companies, including Virgin Koodoo and Fido don’t support GSM-only phones. They have gone straight to LTE, 3G and 4G networks. So if you need a SIM card for a retro GSM phone, don’t waste your time with at least three of the ‘big four’.

There’s also the bit of news that GSM phones are being phased out in Australia. Vodaphone is the last supplier of GSM pre-paid SIM cards down under and will be shutting down their last GSM network in March 2018. So there’s just enough of a window for me to have a working phone while I’m there. In the new year I’ll be in the market for a new phone because otherwise I’ll have no means of emergency contact. Not that I’m that bothered, but Mrs S does fret when she can’t get hold of me in ten seconds flat. Besides, I like to talk to people rather than text at them.

One of the issues up here in the not so frozen north is that Canada is so mired in protectionism it acts as a direct hit on the bank accounts of the general populace. Calling long distance is a credit killer, and you would be amazed how short a distance that can be. Every cell phone ‘plan’ I’ve come across is designed to get at least CAD$50 out of a users pocket every month as a bargain basement figure. Then there are all the other little charges that hungrily suckle on your financial teat that were abandoned in Europe back in the early 00’s. I’m loathe to say ‘rip off’ but it’s funny how the layers of costs mount up.

As for those who trot out “Well, Canada is a big country…” to justify the cell phone companies glaring omissions and excesses; that’s a very poor excuse. My considered opinion is that Canadian monopolies and their subsidiaries just can’t be bothered to cater to the market sector that neither wants nor needs to upgrade their cell phone every three years. Indeed, they could be missing out because at present there is a very strong ‘retro’ movement. Even if the planned shut down of 2G networks goes ahead. A lot of people only want their phones to make calls and texts. To them, Data is just a character from Star Trek- the next generation played by Brent Spiner in heavy makeup. Besides, who wants to ruin their eyes staring at tiny screens all the time? Do your eyeballs ache a lot? That could be a clue you spend waaay too much time checking the mindless garbage on Twatter.

By way of a personal observation, two of the people served before me at the four cell phone stores I visited today bought old style flip phones. That’s two out of seven people in total without me going after a GSM compatible prepaid SIM card. With my input that’s just over a third of the total customer base in a random Sunday sample. Now there’s a message in there for those who would but see.

This sort of thing is true for many other services and goods this side of the border. Especially when every attempt to import has certain folk raising their arms in horror and shouting about ‘protecting Canadian Jobs’, which probably don’t really exist because Canada has huge manpower overheads and a relatively high minimum wage, which means many goods are simply too expensive to manufacture this side of the 49th parallel. Then the Government gets lobbied into leaving economic power with a few large companies who have had what some might call a stranglehold on the Canadian economy since the early days of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Take for example cheese. A recently successful motion to allow specialist French imports raised a loud outcry because, claimed the protectionists, it would ‘cost Canadian jobs’. Even when Canadian dairy manufacturers can only just managed a very average Brie or Camembert. Although they can manage a halfway decent Aged Cheddar, but not much more. But don’t ask about the near tasteless ersatz yellow rubber substance called ‘Monterey Jack’.

Now when it comes to cheese, the French rather bake the quiche, with the Italians and Germans coming in a close second and third and the British finishing a very creditable 4th, having clawed their back way up from the bottom of the cheese producing pile where they had languished for far too long. Well, that’s my estimation, having spent quite some time around British, French and German street markets and the local fare on offer. Same for beer. It’s only since the mid 00’s that we’ve seen a proper resurgence of what are called ‘craft’ beers over here.

Talking about markets, that’s another thing Canadians don’t really understand. Street markets, which are found throughout the rest of the civilised world, are almost unknown up here. The last time I went into a Vancouver Christmas street market, it wasn’t really a market at all as I understand them. It was a theme park designers idea of a street market. It was fenced off, you had to pay fifteen bucks each to get in to get in and it was full of tourist trap garbage. Nothing like the open access, noise, bustle and sheer doggoned fun of a proper street market. Far too twee. Far too restrictive, and there lies the crux of the matter. Something will have to give.

Anyway. I now have what I need, my tomato plants are beginning to develop fruit and the deadline for stepping onto that plane for a sunshine filled festive season in the fabled land of Oz draws ever closer. Yeah.

All Hallows Eve

Oh Gawd, it’s Halloween again. A.k.a All souls / all Hallows, Hallowmas / day of the dead (For Mexican Christians). The net effect of which here in the not so frozen north is children and teens begging for candy at the door and more work for your local dental surgeon five years down the line. Not to mention the additional risk of Diabetes in later life. This doorstep begging for candy element is the American gentrification of the ancient Celtic fire festival of Samhain. Which literally means ‘Summers end’ or ‘end of the warm season’. Which is a kind of prehistoric harvest festival. Not the bizarre cultish melange of marketing spinoffs it has become. At least in suburban Canada and North America.

Halloween was more of a fun thing when I was in my teens, bonfire jumping, bobbing for apples, drinking too much and letting the local girls laugh at us. The Harvest Festival formed the churchy side of things which some people went to, but mostly under duress from their more religiously minded parents. Yes, we disturbed the peace sometimes, but most of our antics went unnoticed because apart from the odd self inflicted minor burn or bruise we caused no harm. It was just an excuse for the local lads to party. No zombies, skulls, monsters, or pumpkins. In that era only posh kids did pumpkins, we made do with turnips or just a candle stub, if that. No goth makeup, just us. I think the consensus was that all the dressing up was for kids, and those adults who got invited to the better sort of party. Or those adults who got invited to what were then called ‘wife swapping’ parties, where clothing rapidly became optional. Which reminds me of lots of old and very politically incorrect jokes. We weren’t allowed skulls though. No idea why. You only got a skull if your dad was a doctor and didn’t mind bits of his anatomical skeleton going missing once a year. Our local vicar could get a bit shirty about graveyard shenanigans too, but he was very old school and tended to set his Dogs (He bred English Mastiffs) on such late night invasions of consecrated ground.

As for the North American version of the festival of All Souls, I find it rather dull, saccharine and not a little nerdy, like a dressing up party for six year olds. Lots of pretending to enjoy yourself and sugar fuelled hyperactivity, but not much else. Like having the show without the substance. Wot, no human sacrifices? Well that’s no fun.

Anyway, Summer here in BC has fled, the Maples are a glorious riot of colour (at least until the next windstorm), our propane tank is now full and we’ve set the heater on full blast to dry the house out and ensure we don’t get any issues with black mould like we had when we moved in. Black mould being the minor downside of living in a temperate rainforest zone. It’s a problem in poorly heated and ventilated properties where damp has been allowed to seep in, either by condensation or osmosis. Or the heating kept too low with too many sources of moisture (like people) indoors. It’s also a potential health hazard. Nasty stuff. I nuke it with a heavy duty mould killer if ever a trace is detected in our household.

Honestly folks, it’s worse than the local zombies. But spraying them is rather frowned upon in polite society. No matter how tempting it might seem to sanitise the afflicted who arrive on your doorstep demanding sweets. No idea why, but when you get out the anti-undead spray (Kills 99% of all known Witches, Zombies, Ghouls and Phantoms), people, especially their parents, get so easily upset.

 

Update: I’ve just remembered another quaint little rural custom that happens in quiet unregarded backwaters of the UK.  The ‘Wild’ or ‘Woden’s’ hunt or chase which is basically a lot of drunken hoorays out for the weekend running around with lit torches in the dark, shouting and screaming.  Rarely witnessed, it normally happened (happens) on the grounds of large private estates, away from prying eyes.  I’m told clothing is optional and sex is usually involved.  Never heard of it happening on a rainy night though.

BC Culture

The longer I live here, the more I get a handle on what BC is missing. What would make it a far better place to live for hundreds of thousands. This morning I had one of those “By George I’ve got it!” moments while ironically researching the Melbourne region of Australia. We’ll be passing by in December 2017 & January 2018, so if anyone is passing by this blog who has any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

Similarly Cairns, Queensland, where we will be passing Christmas with the down under branch of our clan. Sydney is where Eldest has set up home, so we’ll be going there, too. This time the money is in place, as are the financial facilities, so no cancellations like the planned European Motorcycle trip, something that still rankles with me, but there you go.

Anyway, regarding my little epiphany. Why is Victoria BC such a cultural backwater? In short, Political Correctness, the crass Socialist doctrine that says you can’t say anything that the PC promoters think (?) anyone, anywhere else in the world might find ‘offensive’. This is endemic over here and actively erodes creativity. Having been to a few Victorian stand up shows I find the local brand of ‘approved’ humour absolutely cringeworthy. Indeed, I’ve given up on visiting local comedy clubs because of all the deference to this milksop-making malevolence that populates the front stalls with the incredibly smug and humourless calling out. “Ooh, that’s offensive!” Well actually yes it needs to be. Humour that doesn’t offend, or at least make a spirited attempt to do so, is often so unfunny one needs 500mg of Largactil as a stimulant before each set. I saw this last year when comedian and writer Dylan Moran came to play a tour. Don’t know what he’d done to deserve it, but to the mans credit he did put up a spirited defence against one of the local earnestly dull.

This is where Victoria is. If you don’t ascribe to a particular worldview, you won’t get very far. This is from a community that preaches and practices a very restricted view of ‘tolerance’ you understand. Yes, they paint rainbows on crosswalks and sprinkle pixie dust, but any other opinion outside their own narrow view is actively frowned upon. Indeed, by the time I finish writing this post it may actually illegal to disagree or even blink in the wrong manner when one of the earnestly dull locals is holding forth about how nice the First Nations are and how privileged we are to live cheek by jowl with them. Which is why they must be praised to the skies at every public event, regardless of whether or not any of them are in attendance.

Which ultimately means that the nightlife it a bit, well, moribund. Vapid. Insipid. Duller than dishwater that’s lost all its suds. I’d link to the local stats about death from terminal boredom, but the person tasked with compiling them fell into a coma and hasn’t been heard from since. No wonder there’s been an epidemic of Fentanyl overdoses locally. Indeed, there is even a ‘Death Cafe‘ for those who want to talk about ending it all.

Now don’t get me wrong; Victoria is a nice place to live. At least where we are in the outer suburbs. You just have to go travelling a lot, or face the ennui or le Cafard of living here.

Which is why there are so few modern Canadians who stand out. Because no-one is allowed to. Indeed, most of our real talent has to be exported before it does any real good for itself.

Update: Just picked up the news from The Blocked Dwarf and Grandad over at Head Rambles that the doyenne of the Scriblerus group, Anna Raccoon, the erudite Suzanne Cameron-Blackie is no longer with us. The Grim Reaper finally claimed her last night having won by three falls and two submissions.

Best regards and condolences to Mr G and all those who were closest to her. They broke the mould when she came to pass. Celebrate her memory and cherish all that which she contributed.

Windows 10 and other crap

Since I’m ‘in funds’ at present with spare disposable income, I decided to buy a few things that will make life a little easier. No problem, right? On so many other levels, oh so many other directions, completely wrongety wrong-wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Yes, dear reader I bought two new Windows 10 Laptops for our business. Silly me. But they looked a good deal, had a reasonable spec and for a while worked quite well. Email was processed. Applications processed data. Web was browsed. Skype conversations had. Even movies watched.

Until the last ‘upgrade’. Bloody Windows upgrades.

For the last 72 hours my new laptop has been making a loud buzzing noise before crashing and rebooting, and all the changing of sound and video settings was to no avail. My professional virus checker found nothing, even after update to the latest version. When I tried to watch Youtube flash video, five minutes later; BZZZZZZZZZ! And the whole machine went tits up and rebooted. Until I delved into the dusty recesses of Windows Device Manager and found that something had added an Intel Video chipset as well as the onboard Realtek. So what was causing the crashes was a conflict between system drivers which provoked me into tearing out what remains of my once-flowing locks. However, it’s an easy fix. The Intel drivers and chipset have to be deactivated, which is what I did, and since then all is well (Fingers, toes, nose and eyes crossed). Until the next ‘upgrade’ (snort of derision).

Then when we get home we find that we’ve been ‘selected’ for something we didn’t volunteer for. Erm excuse me. I don’t have to, so I won’t. I’ve got better things to do with my time and have no truck with complete bullshit like ‘social cohesion’ which is a complete nonsense term peddled by complete nonces to force their values upon you. The Trudeaupians can talk about ‘Canadian values’ all they like, but there’s a problem. I’m not Canadian born and don’t kiss arses any more. I’ve paid all my bills and my taxes are up to date so this particular branch of officialdom can Arkell vs Pressdram as far as I’m concerned. They will find my studied politeness is finite.

On the upside, whilst we were away, our landlord, nice chap with whom we have a reasonable working relationship, had bought our apartment a new washing machine because a worn out bearing in the old one was making the whole house vibrate. This new one bleeps, plays little tunes, has a lovely light show built in and sometimes it even deigns to wash our clothes. Strange but cute. And we have a lot of clothes to wash.

Anyway, that’s one thing about an extended road trip. No matter how far you go, or how long you’re away, you’re always stuck with the dirty laundry when you get back.

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.