Tag Archives: Crapness

Wildfires and other issues

Well we’re off. On the road for the next two weeks after fussing over details like routes, ferry timetables and possible road closures. Keeping a weather eye on the wildfire warnings that might throw our carefully planned schedules all over the place.

Because it’s been a lovely warm Summer so far, but up here in the not so frozen north all the Huskies are lying down in whatever shade they can find, and igloos are reduced to puddles, which is playing merry hell with property prices in Nunavut. Not that anyone lives in anything as retro as a igloo, apart from wilderness survival freaks who like wearing razor wire corsets, just to so how tough they are.

So far it’s been an fairly active wildfire season. Quite normal for an El Nino year. Could do with the odd drop of rain, but that’s not likely just yet.

On the first part of our road trip I’m not enjoying the cuisine at Mrs S’s conference. I can honestly say this lo-fat, lo-salt, lo-every-fucking-thing excuse for food is making me ill tempered and edgier than usual. Last night was salad without any real protein. Breakfast was soggy, vapid hash browns, flavourless pork, and scrambled egg polluted with beans and some other crap. I tried to eat it, but two mouthfuls were enough. The rest was summarily binned.

Being an avowed omnivore, I’ll tuck into most things given three falls and a knockout, but this mornings attempt at ‘cuisine’ was an insult to my Parisian tuned tastebuds. There wasn’t even any toast. This wasn’t food, it was probably illegal under articles 11, 12 and 13 of the Geneva convention covering treatment of POW’s. If I fed this to a dog I’d expect the SPCA to come calling. Furthermore, I’m sorely tempted to say whoever ordered this crap needs putting in the rubber room. You will note I’m not blaming the catering staff – yet. But if lunch is more of the same, I shall be eating exclusively at the Tim Hortons down the road. Oh Gods, I’ve just seen the bloody menu. “Dairy free”. Fuck me rigid.

You know, I don’t mind other people being Vegetarians, Vegans, Gluten free, dairy free, breath free, whatever. Hey, your life, your choice, but when it impinges upon me, I’m inclined to get more than a little testy.

Now where’re my car keys?

Un mauvais quart d’heure

Yeah. Today has not been as happy a day as might have been. A creeping sense of FTW has shadowed my every waking thought, casting a pall over what has otherwise been a pleasant day. I know why. It’s been a year to the day when first my Mother, then my dog, died. I really don’t know whether to feel hopeless, sad or just plain angry. This mood will pass, I’m just having a bad quarter of an hour, that’s all. These feelings always fade like a morning fog, but while with you, serve as a reminder that you’re just as full of shit as the next guy. Kind of reassuring really.

Anyway. Tomorrow Mrs S and I set out on a little road trip which will eventually take us down south of the border for a little drive around the US of A. Just dodging the wildfires through Washington and Oregon. Nothing fancy. See the sights, sample the food and wine. Watch the people. Ignore the mass media. Intwerweb stuff will be patchy, but if I see anything vaguely noteworthy I’ll probably post about it, Wi-Fi permitting.

Bill Sticker remembers……

……The industrial 1970’s, back when I was but a callow youth. Not a mere stripling, but a fairly average working stiff.

I come from North of Watford gap, amongst other places. And having read the little narrative over at Anna Raccoons about the Miners vs Police fixture back in 1984 being too far back to prosecute wrongdoers, thought I’d put down in a blog post what I can recall from those times.

Here’s some I-was-really-there information. I began my working life on the factory floor as an Engineering apprentice in the mid / late 70’s. We weren’t cheering the miners on. Far from it. Our attitude was more “Oh fkucing hell. Not another bloody strike.” We saw the pointless battles between Management ‘them’ and Union ‘us’, the petty industrial sabotages that along with near continuous industrial action eventually killed whole factories and the communities that depended upon them. We didn’t much care for the notoriously less-than-competent British Management and their cheese-paring old-school-tie ways, but people like Scargill and Red Robbo were even worse.

One of my uncles, a mining explosives specialist by trade and Mine Union rep turned in his union badge and went Tory back in ’79 / 80. He’d seen the writing on the wall and ended up serving as a Conservative District Councillor after years of being a lifelong Socialist. My Uncle Jack thought Scargill and his fellow travellers were idiots for repeatedly calling political strikes. So he got out ahead of the game.

Many of us at the time were pissed off with nothing working. I recall working all through the ‘Winter of discontent‘ helping wire a power station, waiting days for strike delayed supplies, major strikes every week, 90 days to get a phone installed (If you were lucky) by the notoriously semi-retired GPO ‘Engineers’, the threat of fuel rationing, rolling power cuts throughout two very cold winters, having to be in a Union before you were allowed through the gates at most industrial sites. For that job I had to join EEPTU. I was an AUEW member at the time, but apparently that wasn’t good enough, so I had to get nominated for membership by a workmate at the once weekly Union meeting that evening. Had they turned me down I’d have lost the very job I’d just been hired to do the Monday before. As for people I’d never met calling me ‘Brother’ or ‘Comrade’ – that stuck in my craw. Then there was the “Not in the (Insert Union name here) Brother? Sorry, this is a closed shop.” Sometimes even when you were a member of an affiliated Union. Of course if the Union rep and his deputy had bunked off for the day fishing (As was often the case – especially at one of the big sites), you often didn’t get challenged. Other times you did and it was “Sorry comrades.” And out we’d go.

Then there were the times we were sent to a site to begin a job, only to find ourselves facing a ‘secondary picket’. Not necessarily at the factory we had been sent to, but the Union militants didn’t seem to care. Then having to schlep back to base (Having first phoned the boss from a public phone box that had been used as a toilet) via the pub, having lost a days wages. Some months actually went by without a major strike and for once we got some work done. Others didn’t.

I remember the ‘closed shop’ and all the abuses like ‘ghosting’ (Getting a mate to clock you in and out). Blokes who seemed to spend their entire working day in the toilet with the Daily Mirror and a stack of porn magazines. Whole shifts who came in to do night work, then settled down for a nights kip. We’re talking factory workers here, not Firemen waiting for a ‘shout’. Then the Union rep calling everyone out in a wildcat strike when Management finally found out and tried to fire the offenders. For us the Strawbs ironic little number “You don’t get me I’m part of the Union” wasn’t so much a song title as a pain in the arse fact of life. Especially when you were pig sick of doing someone else’s job for them.

Many of us felt nothing but relief when the power of the Unions was finally broken in the mid 1980’s. We’d had it up to our eyebrows, but by then British Industry was too far gone. The 60’s and 70’s had seen to that. So no, we weren’t cheering the miners – we were cursing them. We weren’t cheering on the Coppers either, but that’s another matter.

Old 1970’s / early 80’s joke.
First worker; I see the Daffodils are out.
Second worker; Yeah, Scargill’s just brought the Miners out in sympathy.

Things that go bump in the night

Stuff that goes bump….Wake you up. In my case wide awake and on my feet and swearing before my brain has twitched a single dendrite. It’s a hell of a way to reset the old jet lag. Not that these things scare me, they’re just annoying and bring Spike Milligan‘s little epigram bounding gleefully into my forebrain.

Things that go bump in the night,
Should not really give one a fright,
It’s the hole in each ear that lets in the fear,
That and the absence of light.

Half past five local time, with my body clock not so much ticking as going ecky-ecky-twang-tock-boing-cuckoo there was a godalmighty thump as the wardrobe rail collapsed in the closet. Clothing all over the place and my Fender Strat, still in it’s gig bag, may need tuning. No other damage apart from to my sense of personal equanimity.

First the toilet starts leaking like a aged dog with incontinence, now this. Mrs S has to go see the quack to let him know she’s broken her arm. Polish Landlady peep will be informed (“The apartments attacking us! Make it stop!”) and hopefully problem will get fixed in double jig time. In the meantime we’re short on closet space, and haven’t got much to go on (Old joke alert).

Oh yes, WordPress have been up to their usual tricks, altering the link text editor function so you can no longer put in the text you want to describe a link. Even in plain HTML. WordPress! STOP FIXING THINGS THAT AIN’T BROKE! It’s very irritating.

Next thing you know there’ll be a self censorship function buried in the text editor which will really piss me off. Write anything even vaguely swearwordish, and no doubt a little window will pop up, ‘correcting’ the text and admonishing the blogger for ‘WrongThink’. In which case I’ll be looking for someone to ‘SwearBlog’ at. And I have a line in Anglo Saxon invective that can strip paint. After that, the prissy little mealy mouths will no doubt take this blog offline for being ‘offensive’. God damn their spavined little souls to the depths of Hades. Bloggers are an indirect source of advertising revenue for WordPress. My advice to WordPress is this; do not piss on the fire that heats your home or the traffic that pays your rent will dry up as people switch blog platforms.

For the record; no one in their right mind likes the silly ‘Beep,beep, boop’ post editor. Now I will be digging out my old HTML5 textbooks and writing the code from scratch, like I used to.

There will be a short break and a word from our sponsors..

…Which I don’t have. Mrs S took a tumble and has broken her arm. Posting will grow more limited for a short while, during which travel must be accomplished with yet more scrap metal to set off airport security devices.

Watch this space. Or don’t. As the mood takes you.

We are celebrating her release from hospital tonight with a nice meal and a couple of glasses of wine before we hit the road tomorrow.

Why is there no….

Why can’t I find a ‘Dislike’ button on Facebook? People have dislikes as well as likes, so why the hell not?

The reason behind my question is that Farcebook integration is currently playing merry hell with my London accommodation bookings. To cap it off, mildly panicky phone calls and e-mails to UK based places are not being answered and all I’m getting is cutesy little ‘Our outreach team will soon be with you’ bullcrap from the service provider. So yes, I’m looking for a way to publicly express my displeasure. Big time. I’m being fobbed off and I don’t like it.

I’m not that worried, if everything has fallen over there are plenty of other hotels in London. I have a credit card and money to spare. I’m just pissed off that the guilty parties have had my money since January and probably won’t give it back if our stay has gone sideways. Well chaps, if you want to play it that way, I’ll just hand the mess off to my lawyers (Lye, Cheetham, and Runne) and insurance company while I’m enjoying the pleasures of Paris. The extra fifty bucks I spent on trip cancellation insurance will mean I’ll get my money back, eventually.

My major beef with Farcebook integration is the demand that you share your personal details with them, then share your most intimate online emanations and personal preferences with their advertisers and every spammer and scammer on the planet. What if I don’t want to post my every frigging bowel movement online? No, I’m not giving you my cell number. Our home phone is also ex-directory for a bloody good reason. My spam filter permanently runs red hot as it is. No you can’t have the names and numbers of my friends because I want to keep them. Yes my ‘privacy’ settings are set to ‘friends only’ as if those Farcebook fcukers cared.

So there’s your next big market opportunity Mr Zuckmyarse. Let’s have an opportunity for the cheated and disgruntled to vent their spleen. The ‘Dislike’ button. Hey, it’s only ‘Fair’.

Still feeling a little carp

Well wasn’t that fun young Bill? Well, actually a clear and resounding ‘No’. Not a fun bout of the dreaded Lurgi at all. My chest is still a little sore, with leftover muscle aches from all the coughing and spluttering which has seen me consigned to the spare bedroom for over a week. “One of us has got to get some sleep dear.” Said my good lady wife, pointedly shutting the door on my palsied frame.

The green chunks have faded to clear, my snottiness quotient is now at more or less normal levels, and I am a functioning human being again. Feeling thankful that bouts of this kind are few and far between. Still feeling a little carp, but that’s to be expected.

Feeling a little Carp Normal sarcasm levels will be restored as soon as I’ve got a handle on what they should be anyway.

In the meantime, doubt is being cast (yet again) on those ‘Government Health Guidelines’ this time on salt. When you actually read the article and see the various assumptions the original researchers made, the light should dawn. The prodnoses have it wrong yet again. Or should we say ‘as usual’?

Grot

Not feeling so wonderful. I have either a heavy cold or a mild case of influenza. Fever, night sweats, aches, sore throat, coughing, sneezing and all that jazz. Nothing the Quack can do anything about as antibiotics are merely placebos when it comes to viruses.

So I’m just hunkering down, trying not to dribble snot and cough green chunks all over the place. Taking plenty of fluids and as much exercise as I feel comfortable with. Letting my immune system do its thing. Helping things along with the occasional medicinal hot toddy; 1 large measure blend whiskey (Not Single Malt you heathen!) to equal amount of hot water, stir in 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, stir until dissolved, taking paracetamol (Acetaminophen) for the fever and decongestants for the snottiness. Yes I know it’s not a cure, but the alcohol and sugar hit does take the edge off the worst symptoms.

I should be all better by the Saturday. Or Sunday. Or Monday. Possibly.

RIP Top Gear

As predicted, the BBC have fired Clarkson. The current iteration of Top Gear is no more. Ah, me. All good things must come to an end. Well, maybe the situation is not so terminal, and a return to the slower paced days of someone like William Woollard is on the cards.

Chris Evans has already publicly declined the poison chalice of following Clarkson, May and Hammond. Which for Evans is a wise move. The chemistry of the three bozo’s is a tough act to follow, and anyone taking a new, PC sanitised Top Gear on will have to be really, really, good, or more likely be so blindly ambitious they don’t realise they’re committing career Seppuku.

The end of the show will, no doubt please the Politically Correct Puritan faction. Who of course know what is good for everyone, whether ‘everyone’ likes it or not. No doubt said repressives will not be happy until all television (and the Interweb) is as anodyne and unchallenging at the Test Card or worse.

You know, I’m wondering if news of the replacement show or succeeding presenters will turn into one of those tedious media soap operas where the BBC announces Top Gears return in a “Yes it is” oops! “No it isn’t” pantomime, until a daytime TV version with the budget of Gardeners Question Time finally hiccups and gasps into life for one truncated season to fade and die in TV hell on BBC4, sandwiched between Countryfile and endless reruns of Cagney and Lacey hosted by some nonentity ‘Dub poet’.

Update: On the other hand, if David Camerons 11 year old daughter and Guido Fawkes get their way, Clarkson may not be on the scrap heap challenge just yet. Time will tell. If popular support fails against the monolithic diktats of the Beeb, then it’s Requiescat In Pace Top Gear. It was fun while it lasted.