Tag Archives: Family

Who was that masked man?

To the dump, to the dump to the dump dump dump… as the loan arranger sang while riding into the sunset with a dustbin on the back of his horse.

On the home front, Mrs S has picked up an unpleasant 48 hour tummy bug. No idea where from. We haven’t been going out much over the last seven weeks except for essential purposes and have been doing the whole physical distancing / wearing gloves and masks. I had the same thing on Wednesday / Thursday and I’m pretty good about washing my hands and personal hygiene. So it must be something we ate. This led me to flush out things like the butter dish, clean the fridge and eliminate any food borne vectors as much as possible. Which is all you can do under the circumstances. She’s on the mend, poor lamb and will be fine by Tuesday.

This post is about masks (again)

Having actually worked in the front line in a hospital, we were used to wearing masks, and I even got a severe wigging on one occasion for picking up a filter, rather than a surgical mask while doing my OT (Operating theatre) placement several decades ago. The guy below reinforces what I was always taught, that the standard surgical mask is just as effective, if not slightly more so, than the much-vaunted N95 respirator.

Of course those selling N95’s will tell you different, but they are wrong because all face masks leak around the edges. The only way to get containment is with a full, air sealed Level A Hazmat suit with an independent air supply and / or filtration. The all over type with big hoods and clear panels. Or an aqualung respirator with positive pressure.

Besides, if you’re working in OT, the standard surgical mask is way more comfortable and doesn’t chafe or leave nasty red marks on your face after only half an hour. All any mask will do because, as I have said before, a masks primary purpose is reduce the radius of infection. Which is why surgeons and operating theatre staff wear surgical masks plus disposable clear face shields. Masks to contain the droplets that we all emit when breathing, and face shields to prevent backspatter from possibly infected patients. Prior to HIV and MRSA, highly infectious patients were rare, so wearing a face shield was not as common as nowadays.

Welcome to my nightmare

Well bless my raddled soul. Elder sibling has started his own blog, a chronicle, a mash up of personal experiences and events in the UK. In it he tells of the gripes and tribulations of living in his part of the UK, from supermarket beefs to the media stoked paranoia of certain people he encounters.

Here’s the type of thing he writes;

“I had to attend an outpatient clinic at our local hospital today. To my surprise, it was functioning as normal. No-one was wearing a mask and there were no signs of panic or hysteria.”

This seems to be a common thread. NHS Healthcare staff do not appear to be overstretched and can indulge in behaviours like doing dance routines on Tik tok, or conga lines to ‘celebrate’ an extubation. Look, if it were an all-hands-to-the-pumps situation, would primary healthcare staff have time to indulge themselves thus? Damn straight they wouldn’t.

Then he reports on the fake news items such as;

“Sarah Montague said that all pubs and leisure facilities in cities were closed “for good”.”

No doubt with a good deal of malicious relish on her part.

I have been requested to act as a consultant in this matter to let another frustrated voice into the wild and will be acting as his right hand man on how to handle all the wonders and witlessness of online life. Which could get interesting. At least we have ensured he has a confidential email and a few layers between him and the worst of the Internet. We shall see what we shall see.

No, I’m not going to link to his output, as elder sibling has not asked me to do so. If he does I’ll think about it. Better that he develops his own community.

Yes, he too detests what the BBC has become as I too loathe the fawning arse-licking the Canadian bought and paid for mass media goes in for when it comes to Canada’s glorious leader, that neo fascist Trudeau. Yes Trudeau is a neo-fascist, his government ticks all the boxes but the military one. He cloaks his disdain for all working class northern European descended males in talk of racism and sexism, but those two sins are something Trudeau indulges in all the time. Not sure why. Perhaps he feels threatened and like so many of the middle class, suffers from a deep self-loathing and sense of inadequacy.

Good news from the UK comes via political vlogger Mahyar Tousi. With added steak. Although I think Flat-Iron steaks are much nicer than Rib-Eye. Lovely buttery texture and more flavour.

So, all the accusations leveled against the Brexiteers have come to naught. For now.

Anyway. I’ve done the shopping, fed the hummingbirds and now it’s time to get back to the day job. Sometimes the fun never starts.

Bak two skool

Okay, a couple of weeks of lockdown wasn’t that bad, but over a month with no real respite? Waiting for a vaccine that may be over a year in the making? That’s not a lockdown, that’s house arrest.

Time to start relaxing the restrictions. People need to work so they can pay the bills properly. The worst is over. So we have to wear masks and gloves in public places? So what? Let’s get things moving again.

I’m finally taking my own advice and am doing online courses to formalise the skill sets I otherwise use every day. At least enough to fill the unforgiving minute. That and the weather recently has been nice. So the lockdown isn’t currently that onerous, although Mrs S has vouchsafed on occasion that she is getting ‘twitchy’. A statement which immediately had me looking for my helmet and flak jacket. It got to the point where I even had to deploy Klondike Bars (Double sized choc ices for you poor deprived buggers) and extra chocolate. It’s hell in here I tell you. I found the men sir, gawd I wish I hadn’t.

Even though we mostly work from home Mrs S and I are both in sore need of a timeout. I really pity the poor sods who live on their own. Solitary confinement is really, really bad for the mind. Ordinarily sane people tend to go postal. Maybe that’s what pushed the Nova Scotia Shooter over the edge. And he’s just the first. The longer this lockdown, the more domestic disputes will begin to cross that bloody line. The damage may already be done with the fuse fizzing toward the dynamite.

For me, this weeks learning / displacement activity is taken up with numbers. Specifically accounting techniques, most of which I use every day in my day jobs. Nothing that complicated, but enough to get me a study credit or two with the Open University and a recognised certificate at the end. Given time, all these things mount up. At some stage or other I must have a tot up. I believe 300 study credits will get you a degree but I’m not absolutely sure.

I’ve got transcripts with a number of online Universities, Duke, Simon Fraser, The OU and I think there is one course from Vancouver Island or UBC which I never finished, even though I’ve never had the time and money to go to a University and get a formal, full time degree. This is not to say I haven’t physically been to a University. In various work roles over the years I have been to several UK University campuses. Even attended lectures. I’ve also sat down in the canteen of several campuses for a number of lunch times and do you know what? Not one of the snotty buggers ever bothered to talk to me. Or perhaps they didn’t want to soil their precious ickle minds by talking to one of the real workers, not the fantasy version as believed in by certain student activists and their professors. Judging from the current output from the Non-STEM courses, I think I may have dodged a bit of a bullet there. Although to be fair I do tend to try and generate a “Don’t bother me I’m busy” stasis field while I’m reading, which I so often do.

The main thing that puts me off doing a full time degree course is all the PC bullshit you have to go through to study at University nowadays. Could anyone tell me what use is a compulsory course in ‘diversity’ or pronouns for recently invented genders within the more practical disciplines of technical writing, accounting, computing, biology, medicine or engineering? Apart from worse than useless.

Universities do theory and do it well, but the problems start when bad theories collide with real life. At the beginning of my working life, when I was an apprentice engineer (My my, I have had a chequered past haven’t I?), we knew whenever we got a graduate engineer in that they were being groomed for management and had to train alongside us yokels, whose career path would be more about the actual design of things and day to day problem solving. Theirs was to be planning the projects and handling the politics. Now we seem to have progressed into some twisted Huxleyesque future where there are far too many University trained Alphas with impractical ideas.

Academia may be the place where all the wild ideas go to play, but the rest of us mere mortals could do without the crazy shit (Man made climate change, gender studies, socialism) spilling out into the real world.

We mere mortals have all got things to do and Academia and the politicians who listen to them are getting in the way.

Hi ho. Back to my study.

The dreadful algebra…

Easter weekend saw us sorting the affairs of Elderly Friend, who has moved into dependent rather than independent care. There’s tax papers to forward, furniture to dispose of. So many things she no longer needs. The care home have been very helpful while we make sure all the bills are paid, even while they’re in lockdown. Elderly Friend has a new room with a view rather than the poky place she’d been consigned to after her last bad fall. She’s happy, and has mostly forgotten about her old apartment. Give her another month or three and she’ll probably have forgotten all about us the way things are going.

Such are the pains of dealing with dementia. It’s like watching a slowly sinking ship. To extend that simile into a conceit, there’s not much else you can do apart from get the survivors off, log the wrecks location and inform Lloyds of London. Which is what we’ve been doing. Handling the details of Elderly Friend’s downsizing (Err, how much was that brand new and now it can only be thrown away?). Ensuring the equations of comfort divided by finance are kept in balance by applying the right kind of fuzzy logic.

Watching someone close to us go under like this is bloody hard on the soul, but absolutely essential work. We could just walk away of course, but that would mean someone else would take up the reins and maybe drive Elderly Friends wagon prematurely off a cliff without meaning to. So this is our burden to bear. As I’ve often said before, we’re paying off a debt of gratitude. Not to mention having to face our own dwindling prospects by reinventing ourselves, yet again. That too is a work in progress.

It’s at times like these I’m reminded of something that has been called ‘the dreadful algebra‘, which aptly describes the hard choices you sometimes have to make. For example where a loving pet has to be put down or a close relative has their life support switched off. Or to amputate a limb, perhaps your own, crushed in a rock fall or trapped in machinery. Symbolised by the mathematical function; Life >(Greater than) Death.

Sometimes it’s about letting go. Sometimes of a friendship or child because they have to walk their own path. However;

The dreadful algebra is always about hard choices.
The dreadful algebra always demands a sacrifice.
The dreadful algebra doesn’t care about your feelings.
The dreadful algebra means no more comfortable illusions.
The dreadful algebra is a calculation, and in extremis, if you guess the wrong answer for the wrong reason, or worse, not make a decision, it will kill you, and possibly a great many more around you.

Weak politicians hate it, because they’re going to have to make a considered decision and stick to it, no matter what. Decisions that may cost them votes in the short term. Decisions that may cost lives short term, but will save far more in the long.

Being a grown up sucks. So suck it up young Bill. Quit whining and get on with it.

I can’t win

It must be cabin fever. Mrs S has received one of those Amazon widgets that does sound and voice control. The kids bought it for her for her birthday. Personally I don’t like them. Won’t have them anywhere near me due to the well documented privacy issues. To me, they are junk that has no real facility. I call them junk because they report to outside entities, rather like Windows 10, which is a shit operating service Microsoft won’t let you control and is full of bloatware. Besides, voice control and recognition has many drawbacks. Did play around with a few voice activation programs a few years ago, but when those report outside of my control, well… ’nuff said.

Today Mrs S waved the uninstalled item at me and said that I “Won’t let her use it.”
To which I had to respond; “Use it if you like, but I want nothing to do with it.” Now guess where I ended up. Go on. Guess. All because I like to keep my personal affairs private.

So the sound on her PC is now ‘inadequate’, because she wants to fill the house with Andre Boccelli singing the Easter Mass, which is my fault apparently. Not Boccelli, but the inadequate sound. If Mrs S wants to install the wretched gadget herself, she can do it.

Not that I care much for opera. The only Opera I’ve got any time for is using it as one of the five web browsers I use on a daily basis. When it comes to some opera I’d rather saw my own head off than be exposed to it any longer than necessary. Opera as an art form is an acquired taste I have chosen not to acquire. Not surprisingly there is no opera in my music collection. There’s classical music, a lot of Prog rock and electric folk, but no opera. Okay, I’d go to a performance if the tickets were free, but only if you didn’t mind tracking where I was in the audience by my snoring.

Add to that I’ve got a minor headache and a seasonal sniffle. A sort of light echo of what Mrs S suffered the day before yesterday and shrugged off in forty eight hours. So today we took a drive out. Unlike in Ontario and New Brunswick, the RCMP here in BC have better things to do with their time than randomly stopping people and demanding to know where they’re going, or if they’ve been buying stuff the prodnoses disapprove of. It was just a nice day for a drive, even if there was nowhere to go.

We have officially been in self imposed lockdown since 10th March. When the panicking is all over I am going to have the mother and father of all timeouts.

Deeply sorry to hear about Tim Brooke Taylor, comic actor who made the nation laugh in shows like I’m sorry I’ll read that again, At last the 1948 show, The Goodies and many more. The man was a national treasure, but now we have to bury him. He’d probably have enjoyed that gag.

Bugger.

Ants in my pantry

Being a moderate cook I try and keep a pretty tidy kitchen. A place for everything and (Mostly) everything in it’s place. I look at it this way. A kitchen is like a workshop. Keep it tidy and you’ll never lose anything or trip and fall flat on your stupid face. I may have a stupid face, but I do my best not to make it look any more stupid than it can possibly be. So I try and keep work surfaces clear and as clean as is practicable, so no-one gets food poisoning.

So imagine my shock when I picked up a packet of sugar today to make some feed for the Hummingbirds and half a dozen tiny ants dropped off it. Bloody things. I paid for that sugar, these freeloading bastards didn’t, so out comes the ant killer and I busy myself emptying all the cupboards and evicting the squatters. Thoroughly spray empty cupboards and leave the powder down for an hour before hoovering the excess up and giving the cupboards a proper clean with antiseptic wipe downs of everything before the dry goods and cans go back in.

The ants are now history. Until they establish a new run. But I’ll be ready for them.

We currently rent our Canadian domicile, choosing not to buy a house over here, but if it were down to me I would be getting pest control in to fumigate the place while we take a hike out for the week to fresher pastures. Unfortunately due to the current lockdown that isn’t going to happen for a while. So we do the best we can with the resources available.

Frankly the end of this quarantine can’t come too soon as Mrs S has decided I need a haircut. She’s got out my old trimmer kit and has, how can I put this? A slightly malicious twinkle in her eye. I think I should be afraid. Very afraid. I think she’s going to go all Wednesday Addams on me.

No, seriously, despite everything Mrs S and I are still getting on like the proverbial house on fire. You know what I mean; screams, sirens, collapsing buildings and a lot of curious onlookers wondering when the bodies are going to be brought out.

This is my life, such as it is. It’ll have to do until something better comes along.

Happier news

On the line with elder sibling in the UK the other day. We were both having a bitch about this quarantine business and how it has impacted us personally. Our respective pension funds have taken a serious hit, but the markets will bounce back so we’re not panicking. Yet. The travel restrictions are a pain, but fortunately not a game changer for us at present. He reports that there are fewer episodes of the dreadful long running soap operas Eastenders and Coronation Street, also the musical abortion called the Eurovision song contest has been cancelled. Which can only be a good thing for the mental health of all UK residents.

‘South’ a.k.a Eldest and I did some over the phone bonding in one of the longest talks we’ve ever had on Monday. Her Australian permanent residency does not give her access to social funds if she’s laid off, so I offered her a sum of money to tide her over, but bless her cotton socks she demurred. She told me she has saved some money of her own and already has a plan to make a few pennies on the side. She’s hunkering down and has a bolt hole with Brother and sister in law up in Cairns if everything goes further south than at present. So thanks Boss, she reported, but she’s all good.

‘North’ a.k.a. ‘Youngest’ is in a high transmissibility situation down in the Smoke, but she and her flatmates are hunkered down, and she has a solid contract, so her money stream has not been cut off. She’ll be fine. Smart kids. We keep in touch and let them know we will help out if called upon. Even though we’re all thousands of miles apart Mrs S and I can get financial help to them inside twenty four hours. If nothing else, knowing family has your back no matter what gives confidence, which is often of far more use than just money.

Mrs S and I have rebuilt our slightly scorched personal bridges through careful discussion this morning. We’re all good again, Kind of. I acknowledged that she’s not been sleeping as well as necessary and that her job and the Covid-19 lockdown had stressed her out. But I said that I forgave her emotional blowout and hoped that she would forgive my undiscussed investment actions. After I had time to explain why I needed to move as fast as I had, and that maybe she had her head filled with all the issues of her day job too much to appreciate what I thought I’d previously told her, and how my investment would benefit us both, she saw the sense of it. But in the heat of the moment she’d lost track of where she was, and in that lost moment, lashed out at me.

Apologies and explanations have been accepted, hugs have been exchanged and now we’re able to talk reasonably again, sharing affection and having those long rambling philosophical conversations she says keep her alive. Bit touch and go for a moment there, but like I said, we’re all good again. I think. Of course I could have held on to my anger, but anger is destructive, it corrodes the spirit and weakens reason. Blind anger makes people irrational and erodes their decision making faculties. I choose not to be angry if I can possibly help it. Cool heads, I find, tend to prevail in troubled times.

Speaking of which, I was called a ‘raaacist‘ on a YouTube comment thread today, which is an accusation a number of my old workmates and friends would find highly amusing. I had posted a comment critical of Trudeau for trying to buy a seat on the UN Security Council with Canadian taxpayer dollar, which as a Canadian taxpayer (Regardless of my race, religion or social construct) I have severe reservations about. Said lefty nonsense merchant even accused me of having a poorly adjusted tin foil hat. To which I had to respond that he brought race into the argument and that my tin foil hat was perfectly well adjusted thank you, which seemed to anger my correspondent even more, who was too busy spitting venom and projecting his own inner frustrations onto me to notice that he (possibly, but how is one to know anyone’s gender online?) was having the urine royally extracted. People like that are almost too easy to mock. They get so riled up they don’t notice they’ve lost. I could almost hear his arteries hardening. I do so hope he doesn’t suffer from an aneurysm. Not.

Notwithstanding, the peace of our home has been restored, our Irish travel plans are still in place and anger has been banished to the black pit from whence it arose. My little Grapefruit plant is still blossoming and I can breathe again.

Next crisis please. We’re finished with this one.

In the doghouse

“I’m always in trouble, it’s only the depth that varies” could almost be my family motto. Mrs S has a dose of cabin fever already, and guess who’s in the firing line. I seem to be able to do no right.

Was it my snoring last night? Well that’s me consigned to the spare bedroom then. No doubt I’ll even get complained at for that.

Something is amiss, and I’m not sure what it is, but it’s got me hunting out my body armour.

Hey, the weather is nice, so maybe I should get the Mutt insured and push off for a two hundred K ride. I’ll probably get castigated for ‘running away’, but what the hell, at over a hundred no-one can hear the phone ring.

Update: Mrs S is just grumpy because she’s got a little cabin fever and has apologised for being snappy at me, so we’re all good. I didn’t lose my job (There may even be a promotion in the pipeline). I’ve even spare cash to invest in rock bottom blue chips, even though my investments are a bit down overall. The infection curve of Covid19 is moving according to prediction, so the markets should start to bounce back in mid / late April.

The kids are fine; I did offer them a little financial support, but the message came back that they don’t need it, which I’m cool with.

Generally speaking I’m still in the doghouse, but things could be much worse. Even the Mutt has a new cover and security locks.

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.