Tag Archives: Family

It’s tough to make predictions…..

“….especially about the future” thus spake Baseball hero Yogi Berra. However, I’ve been looking at a post written over five years ago about the state of nuclear fusion. Nothing has happened to change my mind since then. Not even news of the German Wendelstein 7-X Stellerator. It’s still only half way to sustainable fusion. And it’s still a Tokamak at heart. Yes, they do work, after a fashion. However, the design concept has it’s limitations. I’m not a nuclear engineer and even I can see that. Although I dare say those involved have their doubts and would like to follow a better track, but nuclear physics is expensive and short sighted politicians hold the purse strings. So, Tokamaks it is.

About the future, you never know what is coming around the bend. In our case it was having to chase up Highway One, exercise our power of attorney for Elderly Friend who fell off her chair and brok her arm, then getting a flat at 8pm on our way home. Then finding out, having driven like Miss Daisy all the way home in pitch darkness on a skinny spare, that the one inch screw causing the puncture had done so in such a way as to render any attempted repair useless. On a brand new tyre with less than five hundred K’s on it no less. So, there’s another two hundred and fifty dollars down the pan.

Oh, did I mention that Accounts are getting on my case over a minor matter? They’re stressing over me not doing something I couldn’t have done because I wasn’t given the right information in time on Friday. They want it done now, now, now and aren’t prepared to wait while I deal with the chaos caused by all the other work related matters where some clever clogs was using our departments credit card for stuff they weren’t entitled to. Which means we have to get a new departmental one issued. Which shuts part of our operation down for two whole weeks.

So it’s all been fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fucking hell, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun.

Oh joy.

Could be worse I suppose. Could be in China. Plague of Locusts, Coronovirus plague. No frogs, boils or rains of blood (Wait a minute, what was that in 2014?) yet, and the firstborn don’t seem to be affected, but we shall see.

Chores

We were planning to go out today, on the first day of sunshine for what felt like Eons. Unfortunately, Elderly Friend has taken a tumble in her care home and been carted off to hospital with a cracked shoulder. There’s no point us roaring up the Island Highway today as we can do everything by phone. Discharge and transport to arrange. Updating the care home instructions and making it all look seamless. Which has eaten a chunk out of our day.

So. This being ‘Family day’ – a public holiday, instead of going out I am busying myself with chores.

It is quite amazing how many little tasks need to be done around the house when some displacement activity is needed. Garbage and recycling to be sorted. Secure documents to shred. Filter on the cooker hood to clean. Kitchen floor to mop. Dishwasher to flush and the bathrooms were only cleaned yesterday. My Bank needed a minor kick up the bum, as will my old PayPal account because I can’t transfer money between them. And so I spent a chunk of my morning sitting in a call centre queue awaiting someone to answer my cri de coeur, listening to mind numbing adverts for services I don’t need, provided by a bank who won’t do what I ask them to do. Unless I sit in a call centre queue, feeling my brain cells commit suicide in existential despair.

Then we have our taxes to do.

Mrs S is hanging on the end of her cell phone awaiting developments. Our plans for a pleasant day out thoroughly shredded.

Or, as I truculently pointed out to Mrs S earlier today. “It looked like such a nice day for someone to ruin.”

Hospital appointments tomorrow. Oh joy.

Looking forward

Well, the champagne (A small bottle of Pol Roger) is on ice, awaiting 3pm Friday 31st, BREXIT day. That’s 3pm Pacific Standard, 11pm UK, midnight in Brussels, or should that be midnight for Brussels? Mrs S just reminded me, but I’d already made preparations.

Rain permitting I will be hanging out the Union flag to rub various noses in it. At least if I see any of the despised circle of stars banners on display in the neighbourhood. I choose to celebrate my countrymen’s decision and success in wresting themselves from the pelagic ooze of Brussels. Good luck chaps. I wish you all well. May the sun always be on your backs and the road rise to meet your feet. I have a seeming that those backing a Bojo led BREXIT have put their money on a winning horse.

My path looks like I shall be taking a different road and despite the current threat of Chinese Coronovirus, Mrs S and I are feeling optimistic. Plans are afoot and so shall we be.

The sad news is that Elderly Friend declines further by the day, her marbles continue to rattle out and down the memory holes of existence. However, that’s dementia for you. Within the next month or two we expect to visit her only to be greeted with a surly “Who the hell are you?” and the door of her sheltered accommodation slammed firmly in our faces. This is a thing we are resigned to facing. It’s part of the downside of being a Power of Attorney, but one you have to expect. All we can do is play along with her continual confabulations and await the long-dreaded phone call from the staff. She might see one more Spring, she might not, but at the current rate of decline I think she’ll be pushing up the daisies before they break bud. We’ll sigh, Mrs S will cry a little and I will do the honours like we did for her husband back in 2011. My goodness, was it that long ago?

Notwithstanding, the future beckons and we must heed its call, stepping up to the challenges we are set.

May our gods go with us.

Happy independence day UK.

On the wagon

I’ve given up alcohol for a while. I’m on the wagon, but will be skipping merrily off it at a juncture of my own choosing. Not because I’ve been hectored into it by any campaign or other, but just because I wanted to. Just to make sure I’m seeing the world as it is without any chemicals fogging things up and to give my taste buds a time out. After four more weeks, perhaps less, I will resume my habitual imbibing of a modest whiskey every other evening or perchance a glass or two of Malbec, Carmenere or Cabernet Sauvignon to end the working day.

Which might beg the question do I want to live forever? To which I would answer, no, I’d only get bored. Variety is life’s spice, and drinking all the time is like permanent sobriety, it’s okay, but gets a bit tedious after a while. A little wine is good for you anyway, and permanent sobriety has been proven not. Alcofrolic beverages might not be the elixir of immortality, but a glass of three don’t half take the edge off the worst that living can throw your way.

What else? Lemon Tree plants looking good, the tallest has just topped thirty inches tall with lovely green waxy leaves. Mrs S and I are going to Ireland this September for a while and are busily booking our big time out. Our tax advisers are discussing possible tax exile with us and stepkids are making plans to come stay whilst we’re in the emerald isle. Things proceed.

Our festive season was relatively quiet, with only the existential sound of elderly friends marbles slowly continuing their rattle out of her head. Poor old thing has now completely lost track of what day it is and has taken to phoning us at all hours because she’s not even sure of what time of the day it is, or even that we live over a hundred kilometres away and not on the next floor down in her care home, which we will never be. Which can get a bit disconcerting. She’s not how she used to be and we’re getting resigned to the probability that she won’t see out the year. Such is life. Sure as it begins, thus it must end.

On that topic of lives ending, am watching how the big man down south is handling the ever-present irritation of Iranian sponsored terrorism. The news that he’d had the head of yet another terrorist organisation droned brought a grim smile to my face and the word “Good.” Popped into my forebrain. Mrs S of course, was concerned with the inevitable terrorist backlash. However, a head has been cut off the Hydra. No doubt it will regrow at some stage, weaker, but still there. It took Solemani from 1988 to build up his current network of militias. That’s right, over thirty years of misery for the Iranians and their neighbours at his hands.

This is why we put mad dogs down. They can’t bite any more when they’re dead. His owners might be all of a lather and threatening dire things, now their attack dogs pack leader has been put down I have a sense that a cold wind is blowing through their spavined souls. Trump has drawn his line in the sand. The attack on the US Embassy in Iraq was the impetus. It was a direct assault on US territory under international law, and the Iranian organisers therefore put themselves at direct hazard. Not that they’re all that popular in Iran.

There are rumours circulating from Iran of brutally suppressed protests and internal economic woes that are nothing to do with the USA and more to the fact that the current ruling elite of Iran aren’t as clever as they might think. That and it should be plain to them that they’re not dealing with Obama now. No more Danegeld. No more payoffs. Hunker in your bunker boys, because you just stepped over the line.

This version of ‘The Great Satan’ has decided to react to the Iranian regimes serial provocations, regardless of the fact that Russia and China say they have Iran’s back. They know the Iranians have gone too far, but will be content to sell them the arms while quietly backing away into the shadows. Say what you like about the Russians and Chinese, but they are not stupid. It doesn’t matter how many cocaine-addled celebrities want to ‘apologise’ to the Iranians. World War Three isn’t going to happen because the casus belli isn’t strong enough.

There might be a stand off, but Trump’s a savvy negotiator and I don’t think will blindly send more US forces into harms way without good reason. He’ll target the top dogs and send over a few GBU-57A/B‘s. There aren’t that many of these bunker busters in the US stockpile so I’m told, but it won’t take many. I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t three or four already in theatre ready for a decapitation strike if necessary. Then there are the drones like the one that took out Solemani. Yet the average Iranian (or Iraqi, or whatever) in the street is not the enemy. It’s the extreme regimes. Get rid of them and the conflict goes away, kind of. Although as Mahyar Tousi points out, it’s not all black and white.

Still watching the Brexit situation from afar, and I still think no-deal is the default. The EU have faffed and fumed pointlessly while Bojo, the UK’s suspiciously unclowninsh Prime Monster holidayed on the Caribbean Island of Mustique, once favourite haunt of the late Princess Margaret and other celebrities. I think he’s going to sit on his hands and go full WTO at the end of January so the EU will lose that billion a month of taxpayer pound sterling they’ve been hoovering up so happily. Someone, somewhere in the EU infrastructure is going to have to think about reigning in their expense accounts. Having watched their privileged antics from the sidelines in Paris and elsewhere, I can’t help thinking that the EU pigs are watching the trough dry up and are panicking a little.

Terrorist leaders waxed? BREXIT happens? I’m beginning to like 2020 already.

The fear factor

While crunching numbers, as I am wont to do because it’s what I earn a crust doing, I was listening to a Timeline documentary on YouTube, where the narrator was telling the tale of the Black Death and the social changes it helped bring about.

The thing that resonated with me was the various fanatic cults that arose during those times, even before the plague arrived in their locale. Convinced that the plague was the wrath of God (Although God has told me he did try to tell them about having a good wash now and then, but no-one was listening – as usual), certain groups of people turned to that good old standby of, instead of trying to deal with their personal hygiene issues and stop killing the cats that kept the rats down, chose self flagellation. That’s right, they went about the streets crying “Woe, woe, we’re all doomed” whilst lashing their own backs with a knout, a nasty sort of cat of nine tails with metal bits sewn into the whip ends. It is said these groups of ‘Flagellants’ as they were known, whipped themselves so hard that their blood would spatter street walls as they passed. It did not save them. In their self-weakened state, most perished.

So it is that I see the “Not my Prime Minister” and anti BREXIT campaigners, driven by their own fear, choose to roam the streets crying “We’re all doomed!” and getting under everyone else’s feet. Rather like the silly ‘Extinction rebellion’ protesters. They achieve nothing and are wasting their own and everyone else’s time. Rather like the flagellants of medieval times. They lack the reasoning ability to connect cause with effect themselves, so in ignorance devolve into a hideously primitive groupthink.

Unfortunately, Youngest is counted amongst their number. Which is a disappointment. I thought she’d learned about people who keep themselves down by being the authors of their own undoing, and that there are no saviours our there. According to her, they’re all apparently terrified that those nasty mustachio-twirling Tories are going to go around gloating over all the “Aha! Some poor people to torment, har-har me proud beauties!” You know, the working people who the Limp Dems and Islington Labour don’t really care about. Except when getting their vote in to support a bunch of unemployables like Corbyn.

What I saw during the campaign was Bojo, the UK’s very unclownish Prime Monster, going around, getting his hands dirty on the shop floor. Which is something I can respect rather than the opposition whose sole electioneering approach was gladhanding activists and loyalists while mostly ignoring the electorate or beating them over the head with scare stories, earnestly trying to re-educate any recalcitrant voter and crying “Vote for us, or the Tories will eat your babies.”. That and calling anyone who didn’t agree with them immediately unpleasant names. Well done chaps. Did it work? No prizes for giving the correct answer.

The thing is that neither BREXIT nor minor variations in the Earth’s climate are going to be harmful. Now they could be, but only if people refuse to rise to the challenge of a bit of extra sunshine rain or snow, or cling to the notion that a bunch of people who have never worked in the private sector over the channel know better than local people with their noses to the grindstone, fixing problems as they arise. Seriously, the immediate future contains more opportunity than threat. At least for the UK.

All the public moaning and groaning from the defeated are like a bunch of mardy teenagers who Mum and Dad have finally called ‘time’ on are achieving precisely nothing. All the Slebs whining like kicked bitches instead of claiming a little grown up dignity and facing their mistakes likewise. Although Lily Allen’s tactic of bursting into tears and sobbing ‘vote Labour’ has given a lot of people a bit of a giggle. It’s not that we’re unkind, it’s just that it’s funny to see all these people who think because they are good at entertaining have any idea about how the world really works.

So all these British slebs who didn’t get their way are going to leave the UK? Yeah, right. But where to? Surely not to that hell hole the Trump-infested US of A? No? Well the Yanks just dodged a bullet there. To the cultural backwater that is Canada? Mm, only if they’re happy to play to the odd bilingual Moose and a couple of puzzled bears. Australia? Watch out for the big hairy spiders and the Salties, not forgetting the deadly drop bears and one extremely unfriendly sheep near Brisbane. Heaven forfend that these ungracious slebs might have to learn another language. Even if they had the brains.

The truth is, as I pointed out to our young companions whilst we were visiting London, despite the odd knife attack, the western world is safer than it has been for quite some time, if ever. Fewer deaths from disease, wars, and even extreme weather events (Explanation here). Fewer road deaths. Indeed, fewer deaths from everything, apart from those claiming a Darwin Award, (Sightseeing on erupting volcanoes and suchlike).

Most of us are living longer and healthier lives to the point where getting a message from HM Queen to centenarians now has to be semi automated. That’s right, more people than ever before in the western world are making three digits, elderly friend included. Even if her wits are somewhere west of their preferred location.

Indeed. it’s getting to the point where pension payouts won’t begin until you’re eighty. Not that it’s a bad thing. One of my cousins just picked up his last P45 at age 79. Wound up his business and was last heard of travelling eastern Europe. Similarly I expect not to officially ‘retire’ until 70. Not that I really mind. Even then I’ll find something to make a few extra bucks on the side. Trusting for state pensions to be your sole source of income in your frail dotage is not a brilliant idea. Personally, I have two pensions in the offing, Mrs S has three and that’s without factoring in our investments. Having lost three pension funds over the years, (2 pots raided by New Labour, one when the company I worked for went belly up big time) I’ve become very cautious about those Ponzi schemes and nowadays employ a broker, an accountant and a lawyer to keep my investments secure. They earn their money.

Oh well, it might not be such a short life after all, and we will have to find our merriment where we may.

Parent stuff

Mildly concerned about the most recent knife attack in London as it happened in an area that Youngest regularly passes through on her way to and from various venues. So it’s the usual mildly frantic back and forth on the messaging services we use to confirm she’s not in amongst the victims or witnesses. Don’t know what we’d do if she was, but the very least would be us on the next available flight out to London to help out any way we could. Nice to hear that the Met were on the ball and shot the assailant, but not so good for the folks he managed to damage.  By the way, kudos to the guys who tackled the knife wielder with a fire extinguisher and (Would you adam and eve it) a Narwal tusk.

We fretted for a while about Youngest getting caught up in these things, but this is where she has chosen to be, and it turns out she was in a nearby pub with her mates at the time, having missed the whole stabby event by twenty wonderful minutes. We’re relieved, but what can you do but do the parent thing and at least show her that we do worry about her safety?

Other news is that I picked up my postal ballot yesterday and will be using it shortly. Small hint; it won’t be going to any remainer candidate, they’ve been messing things up for the last three years to the point where UK business is having trouble planning much needed investments and creating employment and thus wealth. Mrs S feels the same way, so as far as we’re concerned Labour, the Limp Dems and Greens are out of luck. They’re all equally clueless.

As for the vociferous big business lobby who continually push for European integration, which will be good for them but very few others, they got the UK into this mess, so no sympathy for when BREXIT does finally happen. I hope Johnson does get a large majority to push BREXIT through but I’m also hoping that Big Nige and the BREXIT party will bag a few seats, just enough to keep the Tories feet to the fire. One should not put thy faith in people with such a singularly poor track record of backsliding. Okay, my heart says vote Tory, but my head says they’re not to be trusted.

What else? Oh yes, I brought my Lemon and Grapefruit plants into the kitchen, away from the frosts and hailstorms which are currently making their presence felt in our neck of the woods. One of the Lemon plants is looking a bit scraggly, but out of the other five, three have stems almost as thick as the tip if my little finger. Also our four Grapefruit seedlings are well leafed and will probably need larger pots by the time Spring rolls around. It’s quite the little jungle in the sunny corner of the kitchen. Our deck garden is looking a bit woebegone after the adverse weather, however, ’tis the season etcetera.

With regard to our current Canadian day jobs, Mrs S and I have decided we’re jacking them in 2020 when our contracts end. It will mean a bit of rearrangement of tax and investment strategy, but we should be fine. I have a not inconsiderable cash reserve to drop into the pot, which will help. Why we’re doing this is the continual messing around the Ministry insist on imposing on our organisation. The plan is for me to do a little online retraining, as will Mrs S, then next spring we’ll be packing our bags and setting off for pastures new for a while to see what we can make of things. Even with only a minority Trudeau Government in charge they will economically damage Canada to the point where it is going to be much less business friendly than we’d like, so we’re spreading our wings and pootling off to see what we can find.

You don’t hear this every day

A head of state as a caller to a radio talk show? Now that is truly awesome. What a coup.

Let’s face it, Trump lacks subtlety. He’s not eloquent, he’s brash, forthright and occasionally a bullshitter. But not an outright liar as some claim. He exaggerates rather than tells total untruths. Unlike many of his predecessors and detractors who would not recognise truth if it was tugging at their sleeves.

Don’t care much for the man himself, but I do like what he’s doing for the USA economically. The UK could have a piece of that action instead of hiding in a hole and whining incessantly about how bad Trump is.

On that topic, I never understood this reflexive anti-Americanism some people have. Maybe it’s because the yanks are brash, successful and outward looking. Unlike their most vocal critics, who come across as a bunch of petty, jealous, xenophobic losers.

Today on the home front, I’m off to lay a few evil spirits with elder sibling. Following Ma Sticker’s demise in 2014 we had serious disagreements over the estate which almost went to court. Now matters are more settled, I’ll be rubbing his nose in it in a gentle sort of way. Even if I’m not really looking forward to our meeting. I’ll just have to put my game face on, wear my best coat, a dangerous smile and accentuate the positive.

Eldest is currently in recovery mode after long term boyfriend gave her the elbow, the fool. Personally I think they were right on the point of making their relationship permanent, he panicked and ran. Not an attractive quality in a spouse to be. Getting married to raise a family is a big step and requires courage which we now see he hasn’t got. If he ever comes crawling back, I think she should first kick him in the nuts for being such an idiot then buy him a kitten to keep him company in his lonely old age. Tonight, (Australian time) she’s out on the town with her friends in Sydney to have a little personal time and think about getting a better place to live. Whilst we’re able we’ll wire her some pennies to help her keep head above water post breakup. It’s what family is for.

Getting kitted

Mrs S got me into a store yesterday. I’ve been half heartedly looking for a new raincoat, but some of the prices for what I wanted were somewhat eye-watering. Almost seventeen hundred dollars for a classic Aquascutum? Wowch. So I’d been dodging the issue.

So when she saw the Barbour store on Regents street I was hustled in and forced to act as tailors dummy. They did have a cattlemans full length coat I was a little tempted by, but we decided to postpone a decision for after lunch as they only had it in one rather unpleasant colour. Yes we could have bought online, but that’s not the same experience. So we asked the assistant to put it by and promised to return after a Moroccan style lunch.

The capital streets currently seem calm and busy with tourists, mostly from Europe and South America, at least on the Tube. Piccadilly and environs were their usual self, with little of the outrage and shenanighans we’d been led to expect. As I said to Youngest’s friends over dinner last night, I thought the old place was better than I remembered it from the late 90’s. People politer, air much cleaner but just as rainy. Hence the need for much improved outdoor wear.

After lunch it was back to the store with Youngest as fashion adviser who took one look at proposed purchase and firmly shook her head. “It’s too much” was her judgement. So we cast around for something a little more reasonable and ended up with a slightly more expensive, but equally robust item. Oh, and a heavy felt Trilby. I like hats like Trilby’s or Akubra’s, they give the face a certain framing and keep most of the inclement weather out of your eyes. Also when you’re like me and hairdressers start to charge search fees, they are a comfort. Not to mention having a certain cachet, marking one out as either a gentleman or arrant rascal. Depending upon how it is worn.

Barbour have long held a reputation for being like armour plate. A man’s jacket, for example, takes quite a long time to wear in properly and get that traditional battered look they were famous for, so much so that one impatient fashion victim reputedly got a friend to wrap his brand new Barbour around a Land Rover’s bull bars for a few days heavy off-roading. After which time the garment had gained a little ‘patina’ and the look of a real outdoorsman’s garment (Looking like it had been dragged through blackthorn hedges for years and used as a bed for two incontinent Lurchers and several litters of kittens). Thus adding to the owners street, or should I say field-credibility.

Anyway, the Brexit clock is still ticking because although an extension was requested as required by the Benn act, the EU has yet (At the time of writing) to approve. I think the public mood has been over stimulated with project fear and that the only thing that will mar the air on the day the UK finally leaves is an huge sigh of “About bloody time too.”

Londinium again

Touched down and still a little jet lagged but quite enjoying the environs of Kensington and Chelsea with an afternoon bloggers meetup with Tom Paine of The Last Ditch and Leggy from Underdogs bite upwards. Two gentlemen whose intellects left me a little giddy. Or was that just my jet lag? I don’t know. Very enjoyable afternoons talk.

Liked Tom’s idea about travel books. I reckon he should do a series of them. Such as “Tom Paine’s America” Subtitled; ‘one man and a Ferrari go in search of the real USA’. He could do the same for Europe and Russia, as he has travelled extensively in those regions.

Work however, has me starting with a new accounting package, which means I haven’t quite thrown my laptop across the room in frustration, but the temptation is there. Hell of a time to engage on a steep learning curve, but I hear that one of my organisations other divisions has already refused to use this package as structured, so they’ve given it to me to iron out the data entry bugs. Oh for heavens sake! I’m supposed to be on holiday! Grr.

My sense of frustration has been somewhat alleviated by the entertaining spectacle of several Extinction Rebellion idiots getting a righteous kicking from angry London tube commuters. Good, these XR people need a few hard lessons for giving everyone else a hard time. Especially when the real science is against them.

The problem is that the fashionable science regarding climate change XR derive their panic from is unproven and only derived from incomplete mathematical climate models. I’ve seen several credible sources analyse the IPCC report and associated outpourings and their conclusions are totally different from what the climate modellers and XR claim.

The more empirically correct version of climate science is undecided as to the cause, but does not agree that climatic variation is man made, or even anything to do with carbon dioxide. As I’ve said before, we’ve suffered from all of these prognostications of doom from the climate modellers for over fifty years and not a single one has come true. So I am refusing to curtail my travel simply because some eccentrics have got a bee in their bonnet over matters they palpably do not understand.

Saturday promises to be interesting because I will be around Wastemonster visiting various sights and will give any protesters who attempt to bar my path very short shrift. “Excuse me, thank you -byeee” kind of thing. I’m a tourist. A sights to see, places to go, not interested, TTFN attitude. Might even be fun. Might even see the outcome of the BREXIT vote in real time. Who knows?

Got to dash. Meetings with daughter and a decent curry await.

Tempus, fugitting

Time is ticking down. Old family friend is declining with them, which means we get phone calls every day accusing the care team at her senior living facility with all kind of wrong doing. So we as powers of attorney have to co-ordinate mental health and her carers to make sure of maximum co-operation and minimum alienation. I think we all know she’s on the home stretch. She’s been working herself into a nervous frazzle and with her damaged heart probably doesn’t have long in this world. So our emergency travel bag sits at the ready because it will be us doing the unpleasant post mortem details like formal identification. Note to self, get funeral clothes out of cold storage. Black shoes, white shirt, formal suit, black tie. There are things which must not only be done properly, but also seen to be done after that fashion. This is the way we in our household prepare for these sad occasions. This is how we say goodbye to an old and highly respected friend. Slow, reluctant walk to the cemetery, brisk walk home. Life will go on and those we hold in our hearts can never die. Not a happy thought, but I can see it’s looming inevitability like an oncoming train.

Fuck. I hate doing this.

However, the other thought occurs that we will have discharged the debt we owed to elderly friend and her late husband, which is as it should be. We can take comfort in that.

We managed to get her on the phone, but if anything, the confusion has worsened. All we can do is make sure we’re ready.

Stuff it. It’s labour day tomorrow and the weather forecast looks half way decent, so I’m off for a good long 200k plus ride to clear my head. Full tank of gas, suited and booted. Let Mrs S have the car to please herself. Not much else I can do.

Interesting times

“May you live in interesting times” as the legendary curse goes. Well, these past few days have been interesting as far as we are concerned. On the home front, elderly friend is slipping away down the sad path of dementia toward the long night. Her short term memory is all screwed up, so when she cannot find anything she’s on the phone to us at all hours. Brother in law had a bit of a fright when lack of regular sleep caught up with him and he simply collapsed. Twice. Mrs S wants to up sticks and move countries yet again and guess who is being given all the heavy lifting? Now our normally reliable car has packed in, so I’ve had to arrange for full diagnostic. Looks like an easy fix (allegedly) for the garage, being something to do with a bit of electronics having given up the ghost, unfortunately my automotive skill set and tools are sadly lacking for such a relatively modern vehicle, so off to the shop it goes. Fortunately we’ve still got the Mutt to get about on.

This morning, having had a breeze through the FT, I see the Queen, God bless her, has given the green light to Bojo the UK’s deceptively clownish PM, to suspend or prorogue Parliament. Of course all this has the remoaners up in arms, claiming that this is ‘anti-democratic’, but their pointless prolonging of BREXIT has clearly gone against the democratic mandate that was handed down to them in 2016, so yar boo to you lot. The delay has already cost the UK dearly. The Queen knows this, Boris knows this, the remoaners don’t seem to care. They’re just acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.

They’ve had three whole years to get a deal from the EU and they have failed. So WTO terms it is. In sixty five days from the time of writing and counting. No referendum, no votes, no attempted palace coup by the fantasists who think that Corbyn driving to Buck house in a taxi and forcing the Queen to make him PM. Err, can I point something out? You know the old challenge “You and whose army?” Well, fun fact; HM Queen is commander in chief of the armed forces. All the officers and squaddies in the Army, Navy and Air Force have sworn loyalty to her, not some unpopular and crabby left wing politician. It’s her army, not the Corbynites. The Police are also sworn to the Queen. True, they may be managed day to day by politicians, but they work for her. She’s the boss. The Chairman of the board. The EU attempted a stealth takeover, but over half the people of the UK used their votes to say “Out.” and that’s that.  HM Queen rules UK, okay?

Oh, by the way, saw this over at Raedwald‘s. So apposite, so goddamn on the money when it comes to the remoaners. So I too shamelessly nicked it.
Remoaner Tantrum

Since even before the 2016 referendum those who intended to and voted leave have been subject to continual abuse and insult from the opposing faction, which is no way to change hearts and minds. Newsflash kiddies; you can only convince someone to change their mind through persuasion. Constantly beating them over the head and abusing them just won’t cut it. This is negotiation 101, as they say over this side of the pond.

Right. Now I’m off to talk to a mechanic or two. Yes, these are indeed proving interesting times.

Polly wanna cracker

I’ve got the house to myself at present. Mrs S has gone up island with her sisters and I can wind down a little. Three sisters with all the decades old interplay of personal baggage of all siblings could be compared to babysitting an erratically ticking emotion bomb. You don’t know how long the fuse is and the bloody thing stops counting down and resets every so often, so there are respites. However, this does not make me feel comfortable. Outnumbered yes, comfortable, no. If ever I enter a walking on eggshells competition, I’ll be in the top five.

Anyway, Mrs S and second sister, visiting from the fabled land of Oz, who I think is actually scared of l’il old me (No idea why- I’m an amiable old bear in real life), will be back next Sunday, whereupon I will treat them to some nice lamb chops for Sunday supper. Which will be nice. Mint sauce being something we don’t get to use that often. However, there will only be three of us, which is easier to cope with. Both on an interpersonal and catering basis. Sister in law from up island is notoriously picky in matters of diet. Which has put the kitchen chez sticker under significant pressure, but the cook has coped. Only one minor hitch when they told me to have a meal ready for six thirty and didn’t roll up until well over an hour later. To which I intoned to Mrs S when she phoned to tell me they were going to be late, an hour after I’d begun cooking. “Yer dinner’ll be in the dog. Or it would be if we still had one.”

On to this posts title. One thing bothering me recently, amongst many others is why a ‘carbon tax’ is being levied all over the planet? The UK is having one imposed by Treason May and her coterie of remainers in the case of a ‘no-deal’ BREXIT, we’ve got a Federal carbon tax pushed on us by Trudeaupe in Canada and attempts elsewhere are going on to a background of the parroted line that *Insert country name here “is warming twice as fast as anywhere else”. Right, how can one place ‘warm twice as fast as everywhere else’ if everywhere on the planet is making the same claim? If, as Trudeaupe claims that Canada is warming twice as fast as anywhere on Earth and the Chinese premier makes the same claim about China, who is telling who the truth? The Chinese premier or Trudeaupe? Or is someone else right? Perhaps the leaders of the first(?) world all turned into parrots? They all sound a lot like “Gwaaarrkk! Polly wanna carbon tax!” What is going on?

Unfortunately for the Federal Liberals, no-one with two fully functioning brain cells believes this widely parroted fiction any more. The political compass is swinging firmly to the right of the political spectrum, conservatives winning first the provinces of Ontario and Quebec then Alberta, and latterly PEI (Marginally). Carbon Dioxide is not at the root of an ever-changing global climate. From a deeper delve into the data I’d say it’s a bit part player at best. Indeed, some serious thinkers have calculated that the ‘warming signal’ of CO2 is completely swamped by ocean evaporation and rainfall. Considering that all the models have failed to reflect reality, that has the highest probability of being true.

As for all this garbage about ‘man made’ climate change or ‘Saving the planet’ you know, it’s funny how the biggest mouthpieces bullshitting about such causes own lavish beach properties and holiday on private islands. If you thought there were going to be massive rises in sea level like they’re always telling us because all the ice is melting, why are they so all-fired keen to live so close to the waters edge? These people talk about ‘science’ but I don’t think these mouthpieces have a clue about what real science entails. They just parrot what they’re told, or what their febrile self loathing demands they say, then get in the politicians faces. From there everything goes into groupthink mode and the politicians end up ripping off the taxpayer, which is what carbon tax is. A complete rip off. There is no reason for a ‘Carbon tax’ apart from to take money out of the ordinary taxpayers back pocket and give it to the politicians favoured cause. That and massively increase the cost of living for billions. Squeezing the productive until the whole system goes haywire, because those pushing the ‘we’re all doomed’ narrative don’t have a clue about economics or atmospheric physics. But seeing as they’re part of the scam machine, they won’t go hungry. All they have to do is keep parroting the same old lies.

Which I’d start being worried about if I were a parrot. These carbon tax pundits might put me out of a job.

“Gwaaarrkk! Polly wanna cracker! Showusyerknickers!”

Oh stuff it. The deck garden is doing well, especially the Pansies. My Lemon Plants are fine and the four Grapefruit seedlings are each almost two inches tall. In other news, it looks like Venezuela could be ditching a bad idea. Good for them. They need a break.

Green shoots

Or as a celebrity gardener was heard to shout as he did a charity parachute jump; “Geraniums!” Bit of a windstorm this morning. Which meant winds of up to sixty miles per hour rattling the eaves. It was that kind of a Saturday. As for the deck garden, despite all the wind, little green shoots are popping up everywhere. And like all plants, they all seem to look the same, rather like most babies look like they’re doing Winston Churchill impersonations. They’re all two tiny oval leaves on top of a needle thin stem.

Spring cleaning this weekend. Bathrooms first, followed by bedrooms, both our offices and the main lounge. This is the first run through as Mrs S’s middle sister arrives from the fabled land of Oz in the last week of April. Youngest sister will be descending upon us from up island. Outnumbered and out-gunned, I shall be keeping my head down, as three sisters together may be a little more than my delicate nerves can stand. God knows my own side of the clan can be enough hard work. But I ration my time with them and an afternoon every two years is more than enough. There’s a lifetime of deferred conversations out there which I don’t think anyone has the courage to address. However, I’ve already made my peace with those I could and the rest will have to miss out. Such is life.

Wife’s sisters will be coming and going for three whole weeks. All this and I’m paying my tax bill on Tuesday. Lord have mercy on my pathetic raddled soul.

On the upside, the mainstream media, who once thought our foppish PM could do no wrong, are turning against him. For example, the cover of Macleans, one of Canada’s top magazines, had him on the front cover with the title “Imposter!” emblazoned in large unfriendly letters and his polling numbers are in the tank. Live by the media, die by the media. Forgive me for sniggering quietly to myself. Or not.

Looking forward

Am I optimistic? Well probably yes and then possibly, definitively no. We have in laws visiting us in April, however, this means both of my wife’s sisters will be descending upon our doorstep for two weeks. For a delicate sensitive soul such as myself, this is not a favourable scenario. So I have offered to make myself scarce for a few days to allow for a little sisterly rebonding. All they’ll want to do is shop and gossip and my small talk is next best thing to non-existent. Ergo, I would be a constant brooding presence, resented by all. Better to make like a banana and split. Yes, I’m a coward. Next!

A downtown Victoria hotel room beckons for a few days while all three are together. The current plan is for me to take a couple of books and perhaps enjoy the rooftop bar at the Sticky Wicket. Mrs S has kindly offered to pay for my accommodation as recompense for my exile. I might even treat myself to tea at the Empress. They do an excellent Kenya blend there.

Current reading is Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France and The Great Degeneration by Niall Ferguson. I like Dr Ferguson’s writings, he has a fluid, eminently readable style and is frequently bang on the money, as it were.

On a broader front I’m hoping that the EU rejects the UK parliaments’ request for a BREXIT ‘extension’ and the UK can simply slip it’s moorings to sail away and let the whole shoddy faux-empire collapse. Let’s face it, the Italians don’t want it. France is too busy with the Gilets Jaunes protests and the Germans don’t want to have to carry the economic can for the entire bloated bureaucracy. Could it be ‘game over’ for the EU? Maybe more sensible minds will come to the fore and propose winding back the idea of the EU to a simple free trade zone, although that is rather unlikely. Even if they do, the French farmers and fishermen won’t like that. They’re too prone to riot if they don’t get their way.

Am still rather looking forward to sending all my UK email contacts a “Happy freedom day” email on the 30th March. Depending upon the EU’s final response, BREXIT may still happen on time despite the remainer MP’s frantic treasonous backpedalling.

Good luck everyone. Nil Desperandum.

Power

There is no such thing as power without responsibility. Well you can try, but it always ends in tears. Even when you don’t there are winners and losers. Let me enlarge…

Over the last three weeks we have been busily involved in exercising our legal powers as powers of attorney on behalf of an old family friend. Emphasis on the ‘old’. We’re talking upper nineties here.

Recently our very good friend became ill. For twelve long hours she lingered at death’s door, or should I say dithered indecisively before deciding to stay with what she knew. Which annoyed some people, but less about them later.

Upon hearing the news, we thundered up the Island highway. Made sure all was under control at the hospital, obtained reports, discussed issues with medical staff and care home manager. Then we thundered back down home getting back late and very tired. Daily phone calls to hospital and relatives ensued while juggling new work issues. A disinterested and cynical reader might think we were being a bit over the top, but we reckon we owe our elderly friend a debt of gratitude for the help that she and her late husband gave us when we first landed. That is a debt I will not consider paid until she is gone and her estate settled.

What didn’t help was Hospital staff and Doctors often giving conflicting information. On one occasion within an hour of each other. On the third day one refused to give us any details over the phone because we “Weren’t on the list” which we bloody well most certainly were. Top of the list of contacts as legally registered powers of attorney if you please.

In the middle of this muddle our friend was blithely and obviously non compos mentis so we held all the aces. A terse conversation with hospital administration was had. Apologies were received. “Oops, sorry, that was on another screen.” Yeah, right. A full report was forthcoming. Necessary people were notified and informed, arrangements made, through which our old friend glided sedately as a Swan, while we and others were doing a lot of desperate paddling underneath. Which made some people, how shall I put this delicately, a little defensive.

Let me explain. A lot of West Coast Canadians hate confrontation to the point where it’s almost comic. They cannot negotiate like a European or our Southern cousins will. They either duck the issue and pass the buck like nobody’s business or get all whiny and passive-aggressive. For our part Mrs S and I handle confrontations without all the circumlocution and squirming West Coasters so often go in for. To us a spade is a spade, you use them to dig holes. Or hit people who won’t give you a straight answer. As people we are often direct, concise and to the point. Which makes us unpopular but what the hell. Did I say West coasters hate confrontation? The passive-aggression we occasionally meet is easily deflected by a flash of legal powers. The opposition might know their ‘rights’ but unfortunately for them, so do we.

Notwithstanding, another trip up and down the highway with a two night stay was booked so we could be there for our friends release from hospital into her residential home at the weekend. Then a phone call from the Care Home Manager. Why not from the Hospital? We’re the powers of Attorney, not him. She’s being sent home when? Today? Hells bells! Thanks for letting us know, you utter tossers. Change of booking. Thunder up Island highway again. Negotiate care instructions and agree with fortunately co-operative Manager of Residential home where elderly friend is resident. At least he appreciated our no-nonsense approach.

I’ll say this for this particular care home, it’s very nice, more like an upmarket hotel for Seniors than a UK pattern care facility. Elderly friend’s apartment is compact but more of a studio apartment plus bedroom. It’s roomier too with a full en-suite bathroom. The facility also has it’s own care unit for the less able, which is where elderly friend stayed until she retrieved all her marbles and got reassessed so she can go back to living more independently.

Additional problems arose when a couple of ‘relatives’ decided to turn up out of the blue and foist themselves on our elderly friend. Eating her food, using her facilities, which we, as her powers of attorney thought was a bit of a nerve. Especially when other family members far closer than we would not put them up. Which I found a little odd. When we asked why, no-one wanted to deal honestly. Mrs S and I found it quite comic listening to someone literally squirming on the other end of a phone line. Obviously no love lost there. It was a pity they couldn’t just be honest with us. “No, they’re an utter pain we don’t want as a house guest.” Would have been quite acceptable as a response, but no, we had to listen to fifteen minutes of ever more elaborate excuses. They had their own lives and wanted someone else to make the hard calls while the vultures descended.

My attitude to the vultures is simple; visit by all means, but pay your own way please. Elderly friend gets charged for having guests in her apartment, which even we as her legal guardians are refused access to. Another set of terse phone conversations were had with the care home. Veiled statements of legal intent were issued. Instructions were reiterated. If elderly friends recovery is threatened by these people, out they bloody well go. Do not pass go, do not dip your hand into her wallet. Elderly friend is supposed to be resting after a very life threatening illness, not in need of ‘cheering up’ or ‘taking out of herself’ by mindlessly well-intentioned freeloaders with their piggy little eyes on our old friends money. Have the common decency to wait until she’s dead, you greedy bastards.

That’s one thing about our part of the Sticker clan is our fierce loyalty to close friends. We look after our own and we like our friends alive thank you very much. Now sod off.