Tag Archives: Family

Cunning planning

Well, I’ve successfully planned our road trip from up here in the not so frozen north all the way down to Florida and our planned turnaround point. Hotels are booked as far as Jacksonville, just so’s I can get a chance to see the scheduled SpaceX launches for that week. After which we’re looking at Charleston for a few days to soak in the local Revolutionary and Civil War history. It’s taking a lot of discussion, argument, rolled eyes and subterfuge to agree on where to go and stay. Still, we’ve more or less agreed on where we want to be and what to do while we’re there. It’s proving a mammoth task, especially as Mrs S wants stuff all booked up in advance. Which I feel interferes with the spontaneity of the trip, but that’s where we’ve had to compromise. So far we haven’t quite threatened each other with divorce. Yet.

Minor frustrations aside, things are shaping up nicely. Mrs S did ask me if I’d buy her an Alligator skin handbag. I smiled and did my usual ‘yes dear’ until I saw the prices. A thousand bucks! Yikes!

No doubt whilst we’re down in the deep south we’ll have to dodge all the political campaigners. I’m watching with amusement as the Republican party upper echelons appear to want to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, simply because the current front running candidate is not “One of us.” and is more of a pragmatist than they’d like. As for the Democrats, I can’t see much of a choice from Bernie Sanders’ redistributionist policies and Hilary Clinton’s, the only difference between them is whose pockets the ‘redistributed’ wealth ends up in. Sure as hell won’t be the voters. Never is, never will be. But that’s left wing politics for you. The little guy always gets screwed, only the insiders ever get anything out of it.

Talking of people getting screwed by officialdom. In our municipality some dozy half wit passed the EDPA bylaw in 2012, which on the face of it isn’t much. Basically what the bylaw is supposed to do is to protect endangered species. Which is a laudable sentiment. Unfortunately, the road to hell being paved with good intentions as it is, this bylaw is in some places preventing people from mowing their lawns and repairing properties into which the rot has set. All in the name of ‘protecting the environment’. This bylaw is being enforced with such zeal that even the new Mayor wants it repealed. Which won’t happen. Because the problem is that the ‘green’ insanity is so entrenched in our locale that this will never happen. Which is why Mrs S and I won’t be buying a house in Saanich. Why bother buying a property when some silly bylaw takes a chunk off it’s value whenever your house needs repairing or the hedges need cutting back? What happens when you can’t lawfully trim the big tree in your yard that tries to put a branch through your bedroom window whenever there’s a windstorm? All in the name of ‘protecting’ the environment.

What the zealous enforcers do not seem to have a grip on (apart from reality) is that properties and land need maintenance. Like the environment. We live in a managed environment. Our houses are proof of this. 21st century man is not well adapted to living without the necessities of life like shelter, heating, fresh water on tap, sewage disposed of, light at the flick of a switch, clean dry clothing and food they don’t have to catch or grow themselves. What is it modern people do when deprived of these things? Oh yes, starve. I wonder how the enforcers would fare if deprived of these modern conveniences. Probably not well, although going onto a more survivalist footing might deprive them of the time they spend on gleefully interfering in the lives of others.

One thing I have promised myself this year is that I’m going to join the local fish and game association, do my gun safety course, get my license and buy a couple of rifles for Mrs S and I to do a little off duty plinking. We may even do a little hunting up Island. Maybe not. Fresh Game is nice for a special treat five or six times a year but it’s such a nuisance to prepare and process a whole animal just for two people.

A musical interlude

Yay! Have updated my music collection with some oldies but goodies for our impending sashay over the border. However, this is not without it’s downside. Mrs S voiced concern that our little SUV’s CD player would not play my purchases. I said “What? They’re CD’s, not DVD’s, of course it’ll play them.” But nothing I could say would placate her and I ended up sitting in the car for an hour and a half last night test playing the opening bars of every song. In the case of David Bowie, Steely Dan and one specific Queen track, I played whole songs, twice. Loud enough to make the car doors vibrate and all fourteen new CD’s worked perfectly. Including the track below, which was on one of the CD’s that got sacrificed when we sold up and made our leap of faith across the Atlantic in ’07.

All in all, quite a nice trip down memory lane. Yes, yes, I know I could have downloaded them as MP3’s, but having the CD after I’ve ripped the songs to my hard drive means we can play them in the car using either a USB drive on shuffle, or the cars CD player if we’re in the mood for back to back Bowie or suchlike. So this morning I busied myself organising my collection into one of those little fifty CD carrying cases so while on the road so the non-driver can pick and choose an epic soundtrack for whatever scenery we happen to be passing through.

While I was performing this mundane task prior to preparing Mrs S’s breakfast, I let my mind drift onto the subject of breakfast cereals. Now I’m not a fan, far too much wheat and corn for my liking. Not my thing because I’m still a bacon and eggs kind of chap. For me, most breakfast cereals are not only boring, but there’s far too much carbohydrate and processed sugar in them for my liking. Now for breakfast I generally get Mrs S a variant on a Parfait every morning, which is served in a largish sundae glass. Dead easy to make; Two generously heaped teaspoons of Balkan Yoghurt, a serving spoon full of Granola on top, two more heaped teaspoons of the same yoghurt covered with a sprinkling of bran flakes, walnuts and dried cranberries, sometimes capped with a little chopped apple or strawberries in season, serve and smile. I’m not keen, but she who cannot be ignored has declared it ‘healthy’. So there. But herein lies the rub; the commercial version of Granola tends to be polluted with wheat, wheatgerm and similar packing material, which Mrs S says does not agree with her. Now normally I purchase a Spelt, Flax, and Dried Cranberries variant, but of late this has been withdrawn from sale locally. Soo, being the inventive type I am, I spent five minutes looking up Granola recipes online and adapted one for my purposes.

A quick raid of the kitchen cabinets found all the necessary ingredients; rolled oats, demarara sugar, honey, vanilla essence, whole plain almonds, chopped walnuts and dried cranberries.

My home made granola was produced thusly; put three heaped cupfuls of rolled oats into a big mixing bowl, add half a cup of chopped walnuts, half a cup of chopped almonds, just over half a cup of dried cranberries and half a cup of demerara sugar, then mix until evenly distributed. Following that mix in a tablespoon of honey and a few spots of vanilla essence. To cook; lay out a large foil pizza tray and preheat the oven to 120 Celsius (about 250 Farenheit), spread the mix out on the tray and shove it into preheated oven for fifty minutes. Pull out and leave to cool before decanting into an airtight container ready for use.

Mrs S declared upon taste testing the result “This is good Bill. Bet you can’t do it again.”

Oh yes I can. ‘Cos I wrote it down. Nyer, ner, ne nyer-ner.

Update:  Mrs S has just announced she can’t use my home made granola because I made it with brown sugar and honey, and she’s not having any sugar any more (Yeah, right).  So I’m making a sugar free batch without honey.  Oven roasted like before, but you know what?  I wish she’d let me know before making these arbitrary decisions.  Heavy sigh.

 

On the plus side I’ve plugged a couple more holes in my music collection with Blackfoot Sue’s classic ‘Standing in the road‘, and R Dean Taylor’s ‘Ghost in my house‘, ‘Indiana wants me‘ and ‘Gotta see Jane‘.

Another day, another booking

The road trip planning proceeds apace. The first two weeks are pretty much mapped out and sorted. We have our ‘America the Beautiful’ National Parks pass, which covers us for most of the big National Parks without us having to hang around in line at a ticket booth. As far as I’m concerned we’ve got all the mechanisms and insurances in place for a jolly nice time. A hundred and twenty eight CAD now will probably save us two or three hundred (and a lot of blood pressure) later. Well, that’s my thinking.

However, this isn’t enough for Mrs S, who has chosen this week to go all obsessive compulsive and anxious at me, then refusing to discuss various route options, getting all bent out of shape when I don’t agree with her right this minute. She’s been like this since last weekend, obsessing over tiny details we covered in last years experimental road trip through Washington and Oregon. To tell you the truth I’m half way inclined to take out extra separate insurances, just in case hers fall over. Something is very wrong and she won’t tell me about it. She’s also been visiting the Doctor, who has put on his black cap and pronounced that her Cholesterol is borderline high and written her a prescription for Statins. Then there’s the rule changes on the UK state pension that I’m not going to rely on. Two months ago I was pronounced eligible for a full whack, now it’s looking doubtful – bloody hell. Notwithstanding that your pension value gets ‘frozen’ if you’re an expat. She’s obsessing over that as well, despite having full eligibility and two other fully paid up schemes.

Statins sentenceNow I’ve read the pharmacopoeia and various studies on Statins and I’m not convinced of their necessity in her specific case. She’s worrying about stroke risk twenty years ahead when I think she should be getting more exercise and eating an apple a day, which will probably do her far more good than all the prescriptions in Christendom. My big issue with Statins is that once you’re on them, you’re taking the bloody things for the rest of your days. Which is a long time, and a lot of money. Given that the link between Cholesterol (naturally produced by the liver) and heart and stroke risk Atherosclerosis has been found to be relatively weak, seems like a massive pharmacological sledgehammer to crack a relatively small health nut. Statins can reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol by five percent, but all that fuss for five percent which diet and exercise can handle just as well? That’s without considering the arms length list of side effects like muscle cramps, muscle pain, higher risk of Diabetes 2, memory loss and liver problems. Me, I’ll take the apple and brisk walks route thank you very much and enjoy active life to die at an active ninety with all my marbles rather than sit in front of a screen, bunched up with anxiety and serial popping pills until my body decides it’s had enough and major bits stop functioning age ninety one. Hey, but what the hell do I know? I’m not a Doctor.

It’s all very frustrating. Oh well, never mind, it’s Deals Day on Booking.com and I’m off to take advantage of the deeper discounts on some very nice hotels. Perhaps what I get out of it today will help get her out of this fugue.

Note to self; blessing count. The kids are fine. My college results are great. So far so good. As the falling man said as he plummeted past the tenth floor. Going down.

Thump

Today sees me feeling relatively chuffed. This is despite a car repair bill that almost hit two thousand bucks and dying cell phone and laptop batteries which will set me back another hundred or so. For the moment my only money problem is caused by the relatively poor GBP to CAD exchange rate and my banks moving like heavily chained slugs whenever I want money moved around. However, I’ve got a workaround in situ now that’s fixed that specific issue, so nae bother.

Anyway, our little SUV is now fixed, and can stop as well as it goes. Which is quite briskly, even if it will break no speed records, it will keep going like an Energiser Bunny. It has already proved it’s mettle, dancing nimbly over packed ice, potholed gravel roads, mud and snow during the last five years whilst bigger and more powerful vehicles have ended up nose forward in a ditch. Not that our car hasn’t been able to stop, but the front caliper was seizing, meaning both front calipers and discs had to be replaced. Which came as a nasty shock to the wallet and no mistake. Nevertheless, it’s our first real major maintenance and repair issue. Apart from the two occasions I’ve been rear ended by some of the local zombie population. You’d think people would be able to spot a medium sized SUV properly parked within a parking bay, but surprisingly this is not a skill taught by the local driving academies.

Despite the bills, I’m minded to think that life could be a whole lot worse. We’re a month away from the start of an epic US road trip, the car is paid off, and all our paperwork is up to date. Even my youngest sister in law seemed to be happy to see me over the weekend, which in some ways felt a little troubling given our history, but for the moment all seems well. I’ve just helped Eldest get her volunteer organisation’s web site back up and running, so I’m feeling fairly virtuous. I’ve also just aced my last University course and begin the next tomorrow. If I may essay a little immodesty, I’m feeling quite amused with myself. Surprised, shocked even, but still very pleased. What’s wrong?

Any old road up. Tonight I’m booking our overnight stay in Las Vegas followed by a two day respite in Flagstaff as a base for visiting the Grand Canyon area. I’m also going to suggest stretching the four hour run east from Lost Wages by taking the legendary Route 66 loop from Kingman to Seligman and after we leave Arizona, maybe as far East as Oklahoma City. Well, if you’re going to do an epic once-in-a-lifetime road trip, you might as well go the whole Harley Davidson full dresser with turbocharger playing Steely Dan’s ‘Showbiz kids‘ at full volume. That reminds me, must get some new tracks for our onboard music collection which currently ranges from Mozart to AC/DC. It’ll blot out the incessant US election coverage.

A new one on me

I was talking to one of my stepdaughters on Skype yesterday, relating a minor spat I’d had with some person who had accused me of being ‘sexist’.  Being, as my wife often tells me ‘an unreconstructed male’, I am happy to put my hand up to this thoughtcrime.  I am biologically and culturally male, within a given set of parameters, but also a gentleman.  By the same token my wife and stepdaughters are wonderfully female, for which I am alternately very grateful and highly perplexed, but hey, that’s my problem.  I celebrate their strengths, and offer my own up where theirs are not able to cope, on the very rare occasion that this is necessary.  In their turn they offer crusty old me the occasional hug when I’m feeling less than masterful.  It all works out.  Closer to home I open doors for people, particularly young mothers with their hands full of children, because I understand that they have their work cut out with these little not-quite-housetrained little humans bouncing around like manic pinballs, and need all the help they can get.  Does this make me a bad person?  I’d like not to think so.

Being male of course, I also can’t help my biological programming not to look at any passing young female of pleasant proportions or parts thereof, but I do try not to make them feel uneasy by staring overmuch.  Although this is sometimes very difficult and requires much self control.  So yes, I’m ‘sexist’ and unapologetic with it.  My girls (Wife and stepdaughters both) like grouchy old me this way.  Now kiss my cosi fan tutte.

Now what my stepdaughter actually said made me sit up and think; “What on earth is that?”  I’d just recounted that in a minor online spat with someone who seemed to have left their masculinity in their sock drawer that morning, I’d been accused of being ‘sexist’.  My stepdaughter remarked with an acid laugh; “Sounds like a right mangina to me.”  before changing the subject and going on to talk about her next job move, possibly to Australia.

Afterwards I wondered ‘what is a ‘mangina’?’  So I looked it up and burst out laughing. From the Wiktionary entry:

Etymology

Blend of man +‎ vagina

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /mænˈdʒaɪnə/
  • Rhymes: -aɪnə
  • Hyphenation: man‧gi‧na

Noun

mangina ‎(plural manginas)

  1. (slang, derogatory) A man with a pronounced feminine side, or a weak masculine side.
  2. (slang) A homosexual or bisexual man’s anus and rectum

Or perhaps a nominal male who thinks that being falsely ‘non-sexist’ will up their value to a certain radical feminist mindset.   It’s a submissive attitude which, if the student politics coming out of academia is any guide, owes more to sexual insecurity and immaturity than anything else.   However, the sad truth appears to be that many young women hold this mindset in the roundest contempt.  Hence the pejorative.

We males often let our limbic or ‘reptilian’ brains do our thinking, but as women have a similar, but not identical biological structure and often do the same in their own idiosyncratic and erratic fashion, I think with a little give and take we can all rub along together just fine.  Apart from those on the extremes of the sexual bell curve who should not be seen as spokespersons for the majority, or anyone else apart from themselves.

Merry wossname….

Ah, it’s that time of year again; the tills of Yuletide are ringing, credit cards are melting under the stress and tempers are shortening, even if it’s not really a certain religious figures birthday. Truly, it’s not.

In our household there’s a nice leg of pork in the freezer waiting to be thawed out and converted into a sizzling roast topped with well-salted crackling and served with apple sauce. Said meat to be served with thick gravy, roast potatoes and buttered sprouts with a liberal sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper followed by New York style Cheesecake and a litre bottle of Sauvignon blanc, or maybe a Carmenere or Cabernet. The aforementioned will be served with much ceremony on the 24th, then repackaged with other cold meats, pickles and cheeses for the 25th when the cook of the household (me) is having the day off with a good book and bottle of single malt after a Champagne breakfast of Smoked Salmon and scrambled eggs. Our household will remain a Turkey-free zone until at least the 29th. Possibly not even after then, either. Drawbridge up, portcullis down, electric fence on, minefield along front path active, Piranha tank trapdoor set.

The Igors have already gone off on their seasonal break to spread their unintelligible lisps elsewhere. The kids will be talking to us via Skype but the TV and radio will remain firmly off. I may check the weather forecast online, but nothing more. The object of said time out being to relax so we’ll be refreshed and ready for whatever crises other people thrust upon us. As they will, for ’tis the season, etcetera, etcetera.

Myself, nowadays I prefer to gently decerebrate with a good book and bottle of single malt while the rest of the world stresses itself out over Mithrastide / Solstice / Whatever. However I’d like to wish both my readers to have a really nice time, because I’m sure some mean sod will try to ruin it. Even at a feast time when all is supposed to be about joy, good fellowship and all that shizzle, there are some people so happy to be miserable that they’ll try to spread their misery around. As far as I’m concerned they can Fuck off and die. As a public service announcement the local Police Department have asked those so inclined not to litter the streets with their discarded bodies as this may incur a fine of up to two thousand dollars per offence and may constitute a public health hazard. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Please note; no halls were decked with holly during the writing of this post. A little tinsel and some baubles are judiciously situated around our apartment, but no Holly and definitely no Ivy, even if full grown. A few carefully chosen gifts have been placed under the mantelpiece and no trees were sacrificed either, because we just couldn’t be arsed.

Oh yeah, for any male with a drop of red blood still circulating, watch this video from boxing day 1969.

Comments disabled, but WTF cares? The cameraman certainly didn’t. The young lady in question looks about 18-19 then so she’d be around 64-65 by now, and probably a Grandmother. Which is a sobering thought and probably noteworthy. A very merry, and possibly thoughtful thingummy to you all…….

Public conversations

Got into a minor spat on a Youtube comments thread about Nuclear Fusion a few days ago. A couple of guys were repeating the “ITER will give us Fusion in four years” mantra so I pitched the alternative view to them. Needless to say, they just regurgitated figures culled from press releases at me, and thought that I was just trollishly trying to wind them up. Which wasn’t true, by the way. Life is too short, and I have one. A life that is.

Now what I am is a fan of cutting edge science. The real thing, not the output of breathlessly over optimistic (or pessimistic) press releases. I want us to have Nuclear powered space ships plying their way out to far flung solar systems at multiples of light speed, taking humanity away from the nursery of the dear blue Earth to a greater destiny amongst the stars. When I was a boy we were promised flying cars, unlimited electricity, better house building, space travel, and colonies on the Moon and Mars and I truly did want to believe in a better life from technology, but I don’t believe in Nuclear Fusion created by ITER for one really good reason; it’s based on an archaic Soviet Tokamak design.

ITER Tokamak cutaway diagramNow Tokamaks can produce nuclear fusion, this much is true, but because of one flaw that even a fool such as I can see, ITER or its spin offs will never deliver as a generator of fusion power. Why? Put simply, shockwaves. Let me enlarge. In the late 1990’s I was watching a BBC documentary / news item, and was enthusiastic, nay excited to hear, that the Joint European Torus lab near Oxford had actually achieved nuclear fusion. With a Tokamak. Wow. The documentary showed the pressurisation and heating of the plasma until some of it fused and went ‘bang!’ in a very controlled and genteel manner (Well, the JET is near Oxford.) Until quite a while later, I too believed (back in the early 2000’s) that we were but four short years away from cheap Fusion power for all and only the Eeevil coal, oil and gas interests were standing in the way. Then I came across the theory of Tokamak fusion and the plasma physics needed to make it work. While I was reading the various texts and diagrams, I recalled how the fusion detonation shown on the broadcast had propagated through the torus containment field and tried to reconcile the theory behind Tokamaks with what I’d seen. My heart immediately sank. From that moment on I knew Tokamaks would never be mankind’s wonder-producer of limitless energy for one simple reason; when the plasma fuses, part of it literally explodes, sending shockwaves through the superheated plasma torus. This disrupts the containment designed to feed fresh deuterium and tritium into the plasma to be pressurised and fused in a controlled manner. When the flows and containment are disrupted by the initial fusion shockwave and Electro-Magnetic Pulse generated by the detonation, further fusion cannot take place until the plasma has stabilised, so all you get is a single bang and that’s that. That’s without controlling all the ELM’s and like phenomena associated with Tokamak fusion devices. I’m not the only person who thinks like this. For a more academically sound source, try here.

If anyone thinks that the aforementioned makes me a believer in ‘Cold’ fusion, think again. ‘Cold’ fusion was a false positive generated by a faulty experimental model. End of. Which was a shame, but there you go. Same for the sonoluminesence ‘star in a jar’ concept. Would that it were not so, but as one of my old lecturers from my first year in Engineering college told me when I was trying to make a special radius cut with the wrong tool and vice setup on a vertical milling machine; “You can wish all you like, but that won’t make it work.” Like reaction drives (rockets) won’t even get us close to the speed of light. Sad but true.

“Okay-mister-know-it-all-brainbox” my critics might be tempted to say, “why don’t you give us your answer?” My answer is; I really don’t know. All I do know is that things that work have underlying processes. Life is a process. Put all the processes, digestion (Fuel), respiration (oxidiser), heatbeat (circulation) and electro-chemical signals (control) etcetera together and you get organic life. A four stroke internal combustion engine works because underlying its operation is a series of repeatable processes. Atomise and detonate a mixture of explosive gas in a closed chamber to drive a piston which in turn pushes a crankshaft translating the pressure of the fuel air mix explosion from a linear impulse into rotary motion. Inject, pressurise, detonate, exhaust, repeat. A process. Turbines work because superheated steam or hot gas is made to drive impeller blades around a central axis. That forms a continuous process. All Tokamak fusion can currently deliver is a single bang-in-a-bottle. Which can be a bit of a let down and not really viable as a sustainable generator of electricity. Like trying to have a gunpowder driven Internal Combustion Engine. Possible, but there are too many issues.

Like so many others I fear we will never see the bright future we were promised and so eagerly anticipated. Tokamaks are like electric cars and wind turbines, a technological dead end, pointless exercises in turd polishing. It’s hard not to feel more than a little cheated of a bright technological future that might have been. If only.

Now Lockheed Martin have an intriguing High Beta concept for hot fusion and based upon my (fairly limited) understanding, I also feel the Polywell concept has elements worthy of further investigation, but all the big ‘hot fusion’ money is going into ITER. Which is what happens when the purse strings are in the hands of politicians who really don’t understand the issues. Heavy sigh.

Of course I could be wrong, and the ITER team might just make their new version of the Tokamak work without all the plasma arcing and scouring issues. One day they might get all the fuel input and field containment equations right and their big dream will crackle into seemingly miraculous life and continuously produce a thousand times the energy it takes to fire up, but I don’t see that day coming any time soon. Which is disappointing, as despite my misgivings I’d dearly love the project to be a success. Such is life.

On a happier note, Youngest just got offered (and has accepted) a proper solicitors contract by the law practice she recently joined. Mrs S and I have been doing the dance of joy all morning. Eldest has also just bagged a primo job in Africa helping project manage a major mobile data comms infrastructure roll out. There is much smugness chez Sticker at present. Which is nice.

Smokeswagen?

Not much time to blog today as by only 8am my coffee machine died, we’ve started celebrating birthdays and that damn Chaos butterfly is making its presence felt. Fortunately the weather is being kind.

I see Volkswagen, already caught with ‘green’ credentials around their ankles and spanked for cheating an emissions test, have decided to admit that the fix has been in on just about every diesel engine they make, even the commercial models. I’ve had VW’s before and they’re a damned good make. Good quality control and a reasonable price. I see no reason for not buying one. If VW made a symmetrical All Wheel Drive as good as Subaru’s, we’d have bought one instead. Not a diesel though. I’ve driven other makes of ‘Eco-diesel’ and wasn’t impressed with the engine cutting out at traffic lights to ‘save’ fuel because an engine cutting out at low revs and speed is bloody unsafe. These things may auto-restart, but there’s a second and a halfs lag at best, which in heavy traffic can be an eternity. I hate them. They’re dangerous because they always stall right at an awkward moment.

Right. We’re eating a late breakfast out today. Must dash……

That was easy

Guests have come and gone. Suitably full of wine, curry and a hearty fruit and cereal breakfast. We must have got it right because they’re angling for a return visit already. My Pratchett Discworld collection just grew by another six, and I’ve compiled a list of the few remaining hardbacks left to fill the gaps. I can buy a copy of The Shepherds Crown (Terry’s final work) locally. Details have been left with all the local secondhand bookstores to let me know the minute a copy of Sourcery with Josh Kirby’s dustcover artwork becomes available. There is a particular, if sentimental reason only that edition will do. It was the first Discworld novel I ever read, and had me in fits from start to finish. Coin, eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son, Conina the Barbarian Hairdresser, The Drunken Seriph of Al Khali, Rincewind, Nigel (Signature battlecry; “Erm….”) and guest appearance by the Ice Giants (“Vot you vant? Go Avay hot person.”) all left a strong impression with me. This is from someone who generally doesn’t like Fantasy. You can keep Tolkein about what you find Hobbit forming, but I just wish the LOTR mob would stick an Orc in it.

Otherwise life trundles on; I seem to have contracted some obscure form of lurgy, but the quacks aren’t sure what it is yet, so I’m off to get do my best impersonation of a pincushion yet again this week. It’s nothing debilitating, just bloody annoying. Results of the first set of tests came in thankfully all clear yestere’en. However, I was sent a web link and code to register for future results, which of course didn’t work because I tried to register ‘too early’. Blood and sand. Hey ho. None of my bits are dropping off (Yet) so I’ll simply try and register again on Friday.

I see a few rather less than genius level intellects have an ill advised “Shout out your abortion” campaign on `social media`. Personally, even having seen the procedure done properly, I have no issue with terminating unwanted pregnancies. But ‘shouting out’ to the world you’ve had one? Seriously? That will come back to bite you, people. Are we going to have ‘shout out’ campaigns for Haemorrhoid removal next?

Never mind the strident misandry of certain campaigners. All I have to say is it takes two to Tango folks. Never mind leaping up and down after sex, screaming “You should have done something!” at your chosen bedmate when the test result is positive. You can’t use politics (or even shouting) on biology. Pregnancy is the female bodies way of telling them “Congratulations! You can conceive.” That said, I have always been a firm believer that the decision to terminate or carry to term is the woman’s choice, no-one else’s. Not the family, nor the biological father, clinic manager, nor priest or politician. That foetus does not belong to them.

This is from someone who has two grown up stepdaughters about whom he cares very deeply. Even if they are a right pair of (well educated) little rascals. Should they become ‘with child’ I would, regardless of what they decide to do, support their decision. No matter what my personal feelings are at the time.

It’s one of the things they don’t tell you when you sign up for this parenthood lark. That little bundle of gurgles and pinkness will gravitate (Whether you like it or not) from the cute as a button / Mummy and Daddy’s little darling stage, through “Well he / she doesn’t get it from me…” and “Don’t slam the….” (Too late) and unsuitable ultrashort clothing to “Your college fees are how much?” and “OMG! I’m too young to be a grandparent!”

It’s life. Enjoy it while you got it.

A predilection for Ginger Beer

I like Ginger Beer, specifically the non-alcoholic kind, which is proving a little difficult to source here on Vancouver Island. Now let me explain that I’m not talking about Ginger Ale, which is a completely different beverage altogether, but real, firebomb your gullet Ginger Beer. This Summer, our local supermarkets bought in a job lot of a very fine example of non-alcoholic Ginger Beer called Old Tyme Jamaica Ginger Beer which I must confess I got quite partial to. Hint for the web site guys; list your stockists. Although at ten bucks for a six pack, I think it’s a bit on the pricey side. Nice though. I’ve tried Phillips and Crabbies, which are freely available, but they aren’t quite as gingery as I’d like. Which is a shame. That Old Tyme is non-alcoholic and has a better bite than a hungry Grizzly.

Now that it’s disappeared off the shelves, I decided to have a go at brewing my own since Ginger was under three bucks a pound a few days ago. I already had some yeast and sugar, so why not? Grate the Ginger, add the sugar, boil up a gallon, add the yeast and sugar mix and stick it in a big container. Dead simple. That was three days ago, and I’ve decanted the sieved mix into a four litre plastic milk carton three parts full of the sieved mixture. This mornings taste test of my murky brew told me I’m on the right track. Not too fizzy with only natural carbonation and a nice gingery bite, quite dry on the palate, but I do have to keep depressurising the fermenting mix at least three times a day to stop the container exploding.

Easing off the pressure can be a delicate job, as if I undo the cap too fast, pow! The cap shoots out from between my fingers and bounces around the laundry room. However, the milk carton was a good choice of container as there’s a fair bit of give in the plastic. Now I could of course spend a small fortune on brewing kit, but as this is by way of one of my culinary experiments, I don’t see the point.

Anyway, have picked up Youngest from airport, and she is visiting with the aunts and uncle up island for a few days until she’s down in the fleshpots of the provincial capital in our little domicile. I have to keep her entertained while Mrs S is in Seattle with sisters, so I’ll be setting up currys and cocktails so she doesn’t get homesick. Not that she ever does.

Update: I’ve just discovered that Wal-mart do something called ‘Grace Island Ginger Beer‘. Investigations have concluded that it has precisely the right heat in the back of the mouth, and it’s half the price of the alternatives. Our crew of Igors have given it three big thumbs up. Each. Heavy sigh. Looks like I’m going to have to buy a few caseloads then. Of such little things are the equations of happiness formed.