Tag Archives: Local stuff

Catching up

The phones are back up, which means I can start getting things moving once more. Four days without a landline seemed like an eternity. No-one could dial in. I couldn’t dial out. People were getting fractious, not least of all me. Fortunately there is one silver lining to the louring clouds of lockdown, and that is that everyone’s expectations are significantly lowered.

As for the rest; sometimes the fun never starts. Especially for those living in County Longford.

I am so glad we live where we do.

How to screw up

Rent day conversation. Landlord likes his rent in cash. Not cheque or money transfer, but in physical Euros, which I have to get from the bank every month. It’s a minor inconvenience, but it gives me an excuse to pass through Gardai checkpoints. Colum (Not his real name) and I enjoy a cordial relationship. We pay him money every month, occasionally shoo wayward livestock back into the sheds and meadows, exchange gifts over Christmas and talk when time allows.

“Morning Colum. How are you coping?” I asked him.
“Fairly well I suppose.” He said with a slightly morose air. He’s an Irish farmer, what can I say? “How’s yourself?”
“Dodging the checkpoints.” I grinned cheerfully. “Otherwise we’re good.”
“Ah yes.” He intoned in his slow Western brogue. “Those people up in Dublin are not handling this Covid thing well are they?” I’m glad he’s not a Cork or Kerry man, they speak too quickly, spilling out words like a river in spate, and even with my trained ear I find them hard to follow sometimes. Their speech is quick and musical, full of reiterations, back eddies and redundancies. Fun to listen to, but hard to understand properly. Colum’s slow western drawl is quite relaxing by comparison.
“Well, they’re politicians.” I replied.
He looked at me gravely and said. “They’ve not got much of a handle on it have they?”
“No. You got that right.” I responded and changed the subject. “Money? Receipt’s made out.” The pleasantries and signing off complete, we bid him farewell and he went back to his work, and we to ours.

He was right of course. The current crop of politicians, Tory, Labour, Limp Dems, Greens, Liberals, Democrats, Fianna whatever label they put upon themselves, are not doing a good job of handling what is in reality, a fairly minor crisis. Yes, people have died, but a good many should not have done. Politics prevented usable anti-viral treatments being applied and thus cost lives, as well as sent infected patients into non-infected environments full of the vulnerable. The grapevine tells me Hospitals aren’t giving anti-virals but using steroids and ventilators instead. Because of politics. Beds have been cut. Because of politics. In short, ignorant politicians panicked and made a mess. And are still panicking because no-one wants to admit they were wrong, or be the first to admit being so.

No government that I’m currently aware of, is applying or recommending known remedies, like improving metabolic health with simple means that work for everyone. This is stuff that was commonly printed in ‘Home doctor’ books available in the 1960’s and before. Even today, Doctors recommend them. Cut sugar intake. Eat a balanced diet. Cut down on Bread and rice. Get out for a walk every day in the fresh air. Do something physical. That way you’ll have what they call better ‘metabolic health’ and so be less likely to suffer the worst of any disease.

Now we’re in this crazy logjam of lockdowns and restrictions, maybe because no country wants to be made a pariah by other nations who will probably use the freedom within a neighbour state as an excuse to have a little trade war, or other such one-uppersonship to curry favour with their respective electorates. No politician wants to be first to ease the lockdowns, because for them the restrictions aren’t an issue. They can get all those little services the general public is denied. Apart from Boris Johnson, do any of these characters look badly groomed?

The thing is, those of us with an operating brain cell have things called memories. We remember previous virus outbreaks. We check our sources. We double check the evidence. Where possible we go to the base stats and don’t trust spin or regurgitated press releases. We also listen to the real world; for example, overheard in a Supermarket yesterday. Woman to checkout operator, “Oh, me Mam had the jab a few weeks ago and she still got Covid.” And that’s not the first time I’ve heard people say similar things within audible range over the last week or two. That’s from a very small sample size. All you need to do is keep your eyes and ears open.

You won’t read much about that in the political or media mainstream. The best they have is “Shut up and do what you’re told.” while people lose their livelihoods and human rights.

I agree with my farmer landlord; the politicians and media have it wrong. This pandemic has been an object lesson in how to screw up. And haven’t they done that in spades?

So here we go

Here we go for WTO BREXIT. Amazon sent me an email the other day saying that anything ordered from their UK site (There isn’t an Amazon.ie) may be subject to extra duties, so they’re ready. The main UK ports have been ready for several years, with ‘pop-up’ customs posts ready to clear lorry loads of merchandise as they come in and go out of the UK. A good thing (for me) is the pound losing five points almost overnight against the Canadian Dollar a couple of nights ago, which made it a good idea to buy sterling. No idea why the markets react in this way. The UK is ready, customs posts set up, exporters informed and the RN getting set to arrest and detain fishing boats without proper licenses in UK waters. The only people who seem ill-prepared, bent over a chair with their trousers around their knees are the EU states.

Out here in the wilder west of Ireland, all these COVID restrictions are starting to be ignored. Dropped by my local butchers to make my Christmas order today. No masks, seasons greetings, all very civilised. The local supermarket still enforces the anti-social distancing and masks bullshit, but other people are starting to not bother.

No idea what’s going on in the US. Obvious vote rigging and dismissal of legal challenges, probably dismissed on technicalities, evidence of, but not court admissible proof. As for Biden, it’s well known he’s pro-EU, anti-BREXIT, but that’s okay because with congress and the senate on the flip side of the coin, he’s going to be in a lame duck administration. One hopes.

There’s a reported problem with the voting machines ‘flipping’ votes and all sorts of other dodgy things going on. Nothing that constitutes definitive proof, but man, I would be asking for a thorough review and re-run of the elections right now, without the voting machines, with proper oversight, with voter ID and the absolute minimum of postal voting. But that’s just me. At least an obviously fair vote would shut up all the dissenting parties and give them less to kick off about.

Up in the not so great not so white as you think it is North, there’s Trudeau allowing Chinese troops to ‘train’ on Canadian soil. Does that corrupt little toe-rag not trust his own military? How long before those exercises allow Chinese troops to ‘assist’ the Canadian armed forces against their own people? Say those uppity Midwesterners in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan? No idea. We’re out of there and our investment money is following us.

For us the aforementioned is now rather academic. We’re hunkered down in the wilder west of Ireland. All our Christmas shopping is done. We have found out where to get some superb mini-rhubarb tarts and some of the finest Mince Pies known to man fresh on most weekdays. Right on our doorstep. Our accounts are well in the black and all credit cards fully paid off. The halls are decked etc and there’s food in the larder to see us clear through to February, and a suitably fiendish 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle on the kitchen table to stretch our pattern recognition software. I might get another, just in case we get a bit too clever and finish it before Christmas. There’s Oak logs drying ready for the stoves. The kids may be with us some time in January. Fingers crossed. We’re going to be okay. Hope you will be too.

Like a lot of people I won’t be staying up for the latest end of the world show on the 21st December when an optical illusion makes it look like Saturn and Jupiter are going to collide. I’ll be hitting the ‘snooze’ button for that one. If these people are that keen to see the end of the world, I’m sure there’s a high cliff they can jump off and stop mithering the rest of us with their ridiculous utterances. All the hand-waving man made climate change panic mongers can follow them for all I care. They’re all busy telling the rest of us how to live while ignoring their own rules, buying waterfront property and jetting off to conferences all over the planet. If they didn’t clock in tomorrow on account of being too dead to work, would anybody really care?

Hope my last reader can stand the suspense.

Merry Christmas, Yuletide Greetings and all that Jazz.

Warmest regards

Bill

Save the world!

Went out today. Snuck up to Galway, to see if we could get out of the rain, which has been quite persistent. Bought a Tea Brack, which is a tea cake type of halfway house between fruit cake and bread. Very nice too. But oh, the calories, the calories. This is one of those treats that has to be rationed carefully.

Ireland, we are finding, as we sneak around the tiers and lockdowns, is full of tiny places to grab some of the tastiest baked goods it’s ever been my pleasure to get teeth into. Today we stopped at a tiny filling station on the road between Tulla and Ennis. Not much of a shop to look at, but stocking exquisite individual rhubarb crumbles and mince pies, all home baked. Their flaky pastries being crunchy all the way through and cooked perfectly. I’ve had far worse at the much smarter run of cafe.

Unfortunately, according to some people our little pleasurable perambulation contributed to destroying the planet. Supposedly because of that deadly killer carbon dioxide stuff pouring out of our exhaust. We are continually told we must “Save the world” by cutting back on everything we do. No more air travel, nice meals or personal transport, and turn down that thermostat you heretic! Then when the greater number of humanity have died through cold and famine brought on by so-called anti-global warming policies the world will be ‘saved’. Or will it?

Can I ask a few pertinent questions? First; how will anyone know when the world is truly saved? Second; if most of people are dead, who is the world being ‘saved’ for? Furthermore, who gets to decide if the world is ‘saved’ or not if a bloody great asteroid (That might have been averted if there were enough people to fund an asteroid aversion programme) slams into the Earth? These things do happen from Epoch to Eon, and might it be a better idea instead of messing around with atmospheric trace gas levels, if human activity has any effect upon those at all, to ensure the Earth doesn’t get wasted by a rogue chunk of rock from outer space?

Just my ten cents worth of course, but every time you ask these serious questions, all the fanatics can do is splutter and do an impersonation of Donald Sutherland at the end of “Invasion of the body snatchers.”

Which begs the question; does the world need saving from humanity in general, or just saving from the global warming fanatics? I have formed my own opinion, what say the rest of you?

Update: or should we be more worried about the latest asteroid to explode over New York state last Wednesday? It was part of a larger debris field. So don’t say you weren’t told.

Dead Horse theory

Saw this on Pinterest today and it made perfect sense. These gross interferences in our human rights that Government is responsible for in the name of some perverse form of ‘safety’ fit the bill. COVID-19 / SARS/COV-2 is a dead horse. Not a ‘conspiracy theory’ but simple common sense.

Dr Mike Yeadon, ex head of Pfizer R & D surmises that the pandemic has been over for months because most of the population is now immune. The pandemic is over, as is the emergency. A simple test using the law of diminishing returns means this logically has to be the case. The disease has already done it’s worst with the vulnerable population.

Yet still various governments are talking about cancelling Christmas. I say to the politicians, put your hands up, admit it’s been a major over reaction and lift the restrictions. You will be forgiven if you are honest. However, that window is rapidly closing. Time to ‘fess up and play fair boys. All the talk of mandatory vaccinations is not a good idea as the worst has been past for ages. The pandemic is fizzling out as they all do. It’s running out of people to infect.

Small aside; in the grocery store around lunchtime I turned around to see a tall girl in her early 20’s standing waiting for her turn with the cashier. She was terrified. The look in the poor girls eyes was of full on rabbit in the headlight paralysing fear. Now I’m not that scary looking a person, and I don’t think her expression had anything to do with me. However, she was almost paralysed with fright, twitching at every little thing or if anyone came within six feet. As I left the store, I found myself wondering if she would be one of the first in line for vaccination and if the vaccine is not as safe as claimed, run the risk of health damaging side effects. For one so young at the very start of her adult life, that would be an unnecessary tragedy. Even so, the fear being pumped out at the vulnerable will have repercussions for years, not merely economically, but socially and emotionally, scarring a whole generation.

Quick statement of interest here; I normally have no problems with vaccinations. I’ve had the set, from TB, MMR, Polio, Diptheria and half a dozen others. And if I’m off anywhere where some nasty bug is endemic, normally roll my sleeve up with a grin. With one particular exception; Influenza. Historically on the three occasions I’ve actually submitted myself to a flu jab, I’ve always been ill for three or four days forty eight hours afterwards, so nowadays I tend to ignore all the wheedling from GP’s and Pharmacists to bare my arm. If forced to, I’ll take a discreet place at the extreme rear of the queue and go “Oh dear, what a shame. You’ve run out of vaccine? Well I’ll be off then. No need to fuss, you did your best. Byee…” And wait for the ones before me in the queue to fall over, or not, as the case may be. If experience teaches you that something is likely to make you ill, doesn’t it make sense to avoid it?

I’d also like to introduce anyone passing who reads this far down my febrile drivel to the ten commandments of logic. Always a handy list to have lying around. Just as a reminder for when the levels of media and political bullshit rise above waist level, like now.
Ten commandments of logic

Update: Interesting reports coming out of Milan, Italy. Apparently patients in a lung cancer trial were found to test positive for SARS/COV-2 as early as September 2019. Now Mrs S and I suffered from a very strange bout of an influenza type illness I called ‘The London Cough‘ in November 2019. If the bug was active in Milan, in September 2019, it is not a massive conclusion jump to conclude that we may have already been infected and recovered. If this is true we’re already immune to the bug, not likely to catch it or pass it on and therefore do not need to self-isolate, or wear a mask. We are safe from the world, and the world is safe from us. Isn’t that nice?

Echoes

It’s not so much the hanging around waiting for things to happen that I mind. It’s the uncertainty that nags at my hindbrain. At present we’re still waiting for our worldly goods to arrive, and the person who was supposed to keep us informed has buggered off for a long weekend. The banks are likewise being less than amenable. Which is annoying. Simple things are taking twice as long as they should. Deliveries of goods are all over the bloody place, and a refund is not much good if you’ve been hanging around waiting for a specific item for the last three flaming weeks.

The echoes in our new place tend to get on your tits after a while. Which isn’t a whole lot of fun. Not to mention being in ‘level five’ lockdown. No matter that lockdowns don’t really work, so why despite all the freaking evidence are we still in fcking house arrest? Not to mention the threat of the coppers kicking down doors on Christmas day because someone might have one guest more than some arbitrary figure pulled out of thin fcking air? Whoever thought that was a good idea needs their throat slitting and their dying cadaver nailed upside down to a post by a very large spike through their sexual organs.

Notwithstanding, Police worldwide are traditionally known to dislike intervening in ‘domestics’ as the “He said-she said-they did.” factor is astronomical, and the chance of stray cutlery going where it shouldn’t during such an incident is too high for someone hoping to be around to claim their pension. That sort of officer will have already decided that there will be a large number of NFA’s on Christmas day, if they can’t call in sick or get the day off. However, the newer breed seem to have an unpleasant zeal for ruining other people’s days. A predilection for unwarranted intervention. A lack of live and let live. They’re more like Jackboots than the Police officers I was brought up to respect.

There’s also a suspicion that some unpleasant individuals will rat on their neighbours to get their own back for some slight, either real or imagined. Some might turn anonymous informer simply because they’re having an unhappy time and they don’t see why anyone else should have any fun. There’s a word for that sort of person. It’s a short, pithy, Anglo-Saxon adjective. My last remaining reader will no doubt know exactly what kind of low-life I’m referring to. The poison pen letter writer, the curtain twitcher, the neighbourhood snitch; weak willed, nasty and spiteful.

Fortunately our local Garda don’t seem to be much in evidence and will only make their presence felt if there’s a real problem. We might be supposed to be confined to a 5km radius, but there are enough exceptions for everyone to negotiate their way around and get the necessities of life in without too much legal interference. And no-one in their right mind is even thinking about interfering with Christmas. Besides, we’re building relationships with our close neighbours, making ourselves known, helping out if need be and just being decent human beings. But those are tales for another time and place.

In the meantime at our new domicile it’s all hurry up and wait while the echoes of life amplify every single breath. Is it time to go out? Why yes I think it is.

A sense of proportion

Great news! our worldlies have hit customs and we’re talking delivery dates after rattling around a near-empty house for the last week. Has it only been a week? Christ on a bike it seems like months.

Add to that I hit a bit of an emotional wall last night and slept for almost a solid thirteen hours. Some people have meltdowns, I just crash. Boom! Out like a light at twenty to nine last night and Mrs S said she couldn’t wake me until well past nine this morning.

Hardly surprising. The emotional weight of this entire move has been on my shoulders and it’s not been an easy ride. From planning and execution through all the frustrations with Banks and logistics companies, I’ve been doing most of the heavy lifting, then having to deal with the emotional backlash from my other half when she gets frustrated. Then there have been all the last minute changes, coping with sudden changes in COVID-19 restrictions, Gardai checkpoints and doing all the driving. If I said it’s been pretty intense and relentless I wouldn’t be exaggerating.

So today I need a day off. A time out to regain my sense of proportion. Tomorrow I will need the tatters of my emotional energy to go and shout at a few people for not doing their jobs. Work which they were paid to do. And this is from a man who does not really like to raise his voice. Except in celebration with friends.

As for the restrictions, the papers are all breathlessly reporting that County Cavan has gone into level four restrictions, which means you have to limit the number of guests at a wedding or funeral and that certain sports aren’t allowed as well as a few other things. Although no-one seems to have explained this to the locals who are all rolling their eyes and going about their business as usual. The local Gardai must be busy elsewhere, because despite the local station being just up the way, we haven’t seen any for days.

Now to me the reasoning behind these restrictions seems a little odd. Yes, there are more ‘cases’, but what constitutes a ‘case’? Is it a positive PCR test? A test that was never meant to be used as a diagnostic? Actual symptoms, no matter how mild? Actual hospitalisations or deaths? I know the death count for the entire country is around the seasonal norm. Masks don’t seem to have any real effect, apart from as a placebo. And if you’re wearing a mask in your street clothes, you might as well not be wearing a mask at all. Seriously, it’s all so disproportionate.

My main fear is not any virus, but the effects of Government lockdowns. I’m more worried about getting informed on and the COVID Police kicking down my door than about the virus itself. Not that any of the locals are of the snitching kind. This isn’t suburbia where they’ve go nothing better to do.

Fuck it, there’s a couch under the stairs, where I intend to lounge for the rest of the day. Mrs S has disappeared off to her makeshift office with a mug of tea and a whole packet of Ginger biscuits. There’s a network printer to connect, but nothing needs to be printed this week, so it can bloody well stay disconnected. We’ve got Mr Amazon delivering a bunch of stuff next week, but that’s more or less it.

Fuck ’em all. Come hell or high water I am going to keep my sense of proportion. Unlike the mainstream media.

Travel tribulations

Ireland just went to “Is your journey really necessary” restrictions to which my answer will always be “Yes.” The Gardai (Police) are requesting definitive guidance on how to Police this, which knowing the current crop of fearful vacillating political class, will take at least a month to draft. Which is to our benefit. Here the Police say they prefer to use the old Peelian model of co-operation with the public, which is good. Not like the UK where the idiots are known to kick down doors because someone had the TV on too loud.

Mrs S is fretting, because we have to get out of our current holiday let this weekend and drive our next stop. She’s worried about the travel restrictions and insists I go shopping today and buy lots of canned and dry goods in case we go into level five, which is complete lockdown of the entire fecking country. The ‘experts’ say level five is essential, but for once the politicians kept their nerve, or were more frightened of widespread civil disobedience and said level three, no more.

I’m going to hold back on doing a large shop of canned stuff until Wednesday. By which time our new bank account will be live so I can start moving money around. Once that’s started we’ll be able to get cracking properly. We’ll get the first tranches of capital over and the great work can begin in earnest.

At least the cops over here don’t make unpleasant little rap video’s telling the public that “We’re comin’ to get yer.” Whoever thought that was a good idea needs their head examined. Same for chasing people indoors, when outdoors was the safest place to be.

Overall there’s little of the heavy handed approach here than I’ve seen in the UK. The public are trusted to get on with their lives, and that will be to Ireland’s benefit. It will come out of this with trust in law enforcement more or less intact. And trust is crucial in matters of Policing. Without it you have coppers being run ragged and coming down heavy handed on the very people they are supposed to protect. With the result that more serious crime will skyrocket and public order will be seriously, if not irrevocably impaired.

Might does not make right, it just makes enemies of those authorities that ordinary people need to trust to keep things ticking over nicely. From my reading of Irish history so far, it was the “I say you peasant! Do what you’re bally well told!” attitude on the part of the English that led to constant Irish rebellion and finally the war of independence.

In short this boils down to ‘treat people like shit and they’ll give it right back’. In millions of tiny ways that damage and erode confidence, which was always the plague of management relations in the UK.

On the home front our new house isn’t fully ready for habitation at the moment. Our furniture won’t arrive for three weeks, and there’s decoration to be done. Lampshades, artwork and the like. Then there’s some conversion work to be done on the electronics like the TV and Computers. Replacement power supplies, that sort of thing. Which means Mr Amazon will be a regular caller on our doorstep for a while. Overall, I think we’ve fallen on our feet, which will prove a solid grounding for the next steps forward.

Hiatus

Downtown and chilling before we leave Canada’s shores for good. This means a total shift in pace. Afternoon beers, dodging Victoria’s notoriously passive-aggressive cyclists, quietly making fun of all the ‘Mumsies’ (Masked up morons) and generally shoe-horning what enjoyment we can while waiting for other people to do their appointed tasks.

In our hotel lobby there is one of those leaflet holders. It is full of whale watching brochures. A couple for air tours, but the vast majority are for whale watching tours. Nothing else. Which begs the question, why only whale watching? Do the the whales being watched actually like overfed tourists gurning at them from annoyingly fast boats? Where are the tours for whales to come and see the humans? Where is the parity here? Enquiring minds would like to know.

The price of a pint in a pub is also somewhat mind strangling. You can pay almost ten bucks (GBP 6) for a basic brew downtown. Which is a piss take. Most of the cost being tax. But then what’s new? Tax takes a massive bite out of anything remotely enjoyable. Regressive Sin taxes, don’t work and harm the very people they are meant to ‘protect’. Like so many other governmental interventions.

There is a significant case for considerable governmental shrinkage across the west. Unfortunately there seems to be a pathetic belief in some quarters that Governments are somehow infallible, which isn’t true because they’re all made up of Mk1 Humans, some of whom lack the emotional and rational faculties of an off colour chimpanzee on methamphetamine. The sayings “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” and “Be careful what you wish for” are most apposite. When politicians offer free stuff, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself “Who is going to pay for this and how badly is it needed?” Also “Who is going to clear up this mess?”

This is not to say that Governments are unnecessary. Far from it. Governments provide infrastructure like the legal enforcement mechanisms of the civil and criminal courts. Which should be kept as free as possible from political interference. Governments do well at big, one size fits all stuff like roads, power supply and similar. Everything else has the potential for a big FAIL.

Regarding our current plans, the only glitch was my passport wallet disappearing down between the hotel bedside table and bed, which resulted in a minor fit of the vapours on my part until the reprehensible object of my frantic search was located. Mrs S has reprimanded me for being so careless as to lose track of such important documents but we both acknowledged that better a panic now than a panic on the morning of our flight.

I needed a shower after that.

Toilet troubles

Aaand as the Policeman said, to paraphrase an old joke, we’ve less to go on. One of our toilets is missing. Fortunately we have two bathrooms, but what this does is put one bathroom completely out of order. Specifically Mrs S’s domain. A matter that has led to some mild domestic friction.

As we currently live in rented accommodation, maintenance is our landlords issue to deal with. While the outside world appears locked down or subject to rioting and cities burn, more practical matters colour our days. Specifically being the minor inconvenience of being restricted to one bathroom. These frame built houses are warm and well insulated enough, but if you get a leak anywhere, it can be a real detective story to find where all the trickles come from.

The issues are that this; we live in a 1980’s built apartment where the wiring and plumbing don’t match the plans. For example, the shower pipework in one bathroom was never secured properly and has a habit of flexing slightly every time it is used. Now we find that there are two long term leaks in the second bathroom and utility room. Nothing major, little more than sweating from the joints.

The original build was bodged a little, presumably to keep things within schedule and price, as these things so often are.

The bathroom leak is from the wax sealing ring between the toilet and what is tweely referred to as the ‘black water’ outlet set in the floor. Meaning every time we flushed a droplet or two escaped from between the sealing ring and pipe into the surrounding floor. Over time this has caused a wet patch to lurk unseen between pedestal and floor, resulting in a small amount of staining in the apartment below.

So, the toilet has been disconnected and the floor is currently drying out. Which gives the guest bathroom a slightly surreal, but fortunately not too noisome, air. All the bathroom bits are sitting in the shower and the throne, so to speak, is sitting in a plastic tub like a rather unusual beige footstool.

The second leak is from where our washing machine overflow is plumbed into the wall. When the last washing machine was fitted, the overflow was bodged in and at the top end of the pipe, the wall fitting became slightly disconnected from the down pipe, only by a crack, but enough when the washing machine is spin drying that when the overflow backs up, a thimbleful of water sloshes out to trickle down the exterior of the pipe. Again, this gets between the studding and eventually stains the wall downstairs.

Christ alone knows what the wiring actually looks like behind the plasterboard. No wonder only a couple of the kitchen outlets can handle a microwave.

However, that’s a minor inconvenience as we’re heading out of Canada. My non-working days are currently filled collating quotes from movers, arranging cleaners for when we move out in September and all the sundry tasks associated with such a shift. Paperwork is the biggest burden. However, we are getting all our financial and legal ducks in a row and, toilet troubles notwithstanding, will be leaving Trudeaupia for good this year and the clock is ticking.

It’s been an interesting decade or so. Now it’s time to move on as things this side of the 49th are heading downhill with no likely hope of return. It’s only a matter of time before Ottawa and the provinces work out how to implement ‘social credit’ scores on the population using Covid-19 as an excuse. So we’re getting out to somewhere within reach of civilisation whilst we still have relative freedom of movement.

Ghost town

A short musical (?) interlude. A blast from the 1980’s. Never liked it myself, and I never liked Coventry much, or the Specials, but having taken a perambulate around the malls and deep into downtown this morning, I think it’s appropriate.

Downtown Victoria BC, a normally slow Sunday bustle has everything but tumbleweed, and the only reason we didn’t see any of that was that we didn’t stay very long. Most of the stores are closed with only a few fast food places offering take-outs. Further out, malls are guarded by single worried looking security guards who apologetically tell any visitors that the stores are mostly closed.

This is a government created economic depression. No lives have been ‘saved’ from the coronavirus. Indeed a number will have been lost as the direct effect of an imposed lockdown which should have lasted three weeks at the most, then the restrictions lifted everywhere but care homes for the elderly and vulnerable with existing pre-conditions.

I haven’t reckoned the total damage to my investment portfolio yet, but between Mrs S and I we think we took a hit of forty to fifty thousand dollars. And we got off lightly.

A testing time

Went for my Covid-19 swab today because I’d been feeling a bit tight in the old tubes and coughing more than I should. Also because I was a little curious. In retrospect this was a bad decision, but we can all be wise after the event, can’t we? Remind me never to go to a hospital again unless I really, really need to. Those people really scroll my knurd. They don’t seem to be able to take ‘No’ for an answer, which at one point began to seriously irritate.

Arriving at the testing centre a little later than my specified appointment time, I was requested to remain in my car and drive into a barnlike plastic canvas shed twelve feet or so high and ten wide staffed by three nurses in various forms of PPE. One in full PPE, the whole deal, plastic apron, surgical mask (Not an N95) and full plastic face shield, transparent arm length gloves, had a swab test ready. Another, a staff nurse or sister by the look of things wearing ordinary blue scrubs busily typed my details into a portable computer terminal. A third nurse sat in a chair some twelve feet away looking bored.

At no time did another vehicle arrive with anyone else for testing in the twelve minutes while I was there. I was the only one in the queue.

“Hi. Sorry I’m late. Took a wrong turn” I said and identified myself.
“That’s okay.” The girl in full PPE handed me a surgical mask. “Can you put this on?” So I did. “Can you describe your symptoms?” She asked, so I gave a brief rundown of my fairly mild symptoms which were easing. Hey, it was a sunny day and an excuse to get away from my desk, so why not?
“Can we do your blood gases?” Which was an odd request, but I said okay and they stuck that little gadget for measuring blood O2 levels on my finger. It came up within normal range. She asked me about my symptoms again and I spent the next five minutes explaining that no, I didn’t need to see a doctor, my symptoms were mild but easing. No, I’d spent far too much time indoors and probably needed more fresh air and exercise than anything else. And what I was suffering from was bronchial irritation, not chest pain.

It’s like I was speaking in another language, as she insisted on referring to a mild but receding discomfort and bronchial congestion as ‘pain’. No I didn’t feel feverish, no the condition did not ‘come and go’ nor the ‘pain’ radiate. I began to feel like these guys were seriously bored and wanted to talk me into a set of cardiac tests which were neither needed or wanted. Perhaps they were looking for something, anything to break the monotony. Besides, I had the full range of cardiac blood tests done last year and they all came up fine. Haematocrits well within range, platelets a little low, but that’s no bad thing. White cell count fine. Haemo goblins all happily wending their way through my arteries and veins. Heart problems flag up in those values long before they start causing infarctions (Heart attacks), this is basic diagnostics. Had the same conversation with a heart surgeon on this topic under 12 months ago and he confirmed that Bill Sticker’s ticker is tickety-boo. As did my GP on the follow up.

Finally, after me refusing for the third time to go for cardiac tests, the girl in full PPE announced that she was going to do the Covid-19 test. Which is the only reason I had attended in the first freaking place. So I closed my eyes and let her stick an oversize cotton bud up my nose and into my sinuses, which was more uncomfortable than the coughing and spluttering I’d been suffering from. Then she handed me a two page leaflet telling me what to do in terms of social distancing etc for every eventuality short of a meteor strike while I waited for my test results. After that exchange, somewhat reluctantly, they let me go and I took the pretty way home. Like I said. Maybe they were just bored.

This experience has reinforced the notion that this whole Covid-19 business is way overblown. The tests do little but find current infection. They do not either tell you at what stage of the infection you are at or track the more important immune response. If they’d just done the swab I could have been in and out inside three minutes. Hell, a simple blood test could have been done in that time.

Hey ho

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

Well I’m going in to be tested for Covid-19. To have a naso-pharangeal swab sloshed around me sinuses and sent to stand on the naughty step for forty eight hours afterward to wait for my results to come in. To which Mrs S retorted. “Well Bill, what hast thou wrought?”

We’d discussed the possibility last week while I was feeling a few sparkles less than my usual glitter. I’ve had a little tight feeling in the tubes and a morning cough that seems to have a will of its own, so I thought “Why not? I might find out whether or not I’ve had the wretched disease so I can move on with my life.”

So this morning I made the call to my Doctors office, saying I’d like to be tested. Just in case. They said they’d give me a call back. Five minutes later I got a call from a call centre worker, to whom I recounted my rather mild symptoms. She said she’d get back to me. Another five minutes late the phone rang. It was the call centre person again, who gave me an approximate testing date. Tomorrow. Late morning. To which I said “Fine. I’ll be there.” I looked up the site online and this was followed ten minutes later by another incoming call. From the same call centre worker. “I’ll get the nurse to call you.” A nurse has time to call me? Okay. Two more brief calls from a nurse, who took a short medical history from me to confirm what I had on my records matched hers and we arranged the time. With detailed instructions on where to go, who to talk to and what to do.

But not so fast Mr Sticker. During the calls I established that the local health bods are only checking for if you’ve got the wretched Chicom Disease in the here and now, not running blood tests for antibodies so they can get a picture of the Provinces immunity. Which would be a far more useful picture to have, as, if as I strongly suspect, that immunity to this nasty bug is a lot more widespread than the politicians and media might think. Wouldn’t that be more useful to know? Track the immune response within a population rather than trash the economy by locking it down forever and ever? Or does no one have a cheap and reliable blood test for the two main types of antibodies? Or are the public to wait forever for a vaccine? Which won’t do anyone much good if they’ve already had a bout of a disease and their white blood cells have already been programmed to produce antibodies when a particular infection occurs. Because that’s the simple model of how your immune system works. Infection / exposure, recovery, immunity.

Yes I’m aware of what some of the ‘experts’ have been saying, and some of it doesn’t make sense. My training is thirty plus years out of date. But I can remember enough to get by, and what I don’t know, I know where to look and who to listen to. The thing is that there’s a whole heap of plain, unadulterated bollocks being talked by otherwise educated people. Like about disease spread and how immunity is generated.

Now I wasn’t a hundred percent sure, so I looked it up that you can have innate (Natural or Nonspecific) immunity, which may be hereditary, natural, species, racial or individual. Acquired (Specific, Adaptive or Memory) immunity like from being vaccinated. Or finally an active or passive immune response. For a more in depth description, follow this link. All biological pathogens follow this response. This is the state of our knowledge. Immunity 101 for dummies. All else is wild speculation.

If I have managed to catch a bout of the dreaded lurgi, it may mean even more time sitting alone in my office with just four screens for company. But I’ve managed almost nine weeks so far since March 10th. Nine bloody weeks.

At least there are some reasonable buds on the roses. Hey ho.

Coping

Working from home as we do, Mrs S and I are naturally immune from the worst effects of lockdown. We are used to being isolated from direct human contact because of the very nature of our online life. Although normally we get out once a week for a meal or a drink, just to remind ourselves of the general idiocy of the general dyslexic. Which, when we get to do, is oddly reassuring. However there comes a point where even we get stressed. Eight weeks without a timeout is rather extreme, so a much overdue break would be nice.

The golf courses locally have been open for over a week, but nowhere to go afterward, or we’d be cadging invitations to the nineteenth hole, even though both of us detest the silly game.

On the plus side Mrs S is finally discovering the worth of my somewhat eccentric sense of humour and is applying it to herself. She is finding my twisted punsterism somewhat therapeutic, as I do. It’s a useful coping strategy. We have to find our fun where we may. Just to lighten the load.

I’m sure there are many scientific papers written on coping mechanisms in solitary and not so solitary confinement, perhaps even those on the negative social and psychological effects of enforced indolence. And I’m still of the opinion that all the fines issued by the Police should be cancelled / thrown out by the courts.

On the topic of fun. Mr generally annoyingly smug Vietch has an obtuse but highly entertaining sense of it. Plus an excellent prop. See below;

Well it brought a smile to my face.

Oh no!

Glanced at my stalker counter Saturday and noticed that it was showing the dreaded number ‘666’. Does this mean this blog is now demonically possessed? Oo-er matron. Or even repossessed, but we’re not there by a long chalk. We’re still working. Money is still coming in to cover the bills and we’re beholden to no-one.

Got a surprise call from my Doctors surgery to tell me that my GP has retired (Decent old boy, a bit old school, but a very good GP) and the surgery was just checking up to see if I was still breathing as according to their records I hadn’t been in for the last two years or so, which is par for the course for my family. We don’t seek help until we need it. And don’t need it very often, if at all. As evidenced by a favourite hospital anecdote of my Mother’s which I shall recount below.

My late Mother (Six years gone now, how time flies) at age 95 went to a hospital out patient appointment for cataracts. Upon arrival she was interviewed by a clipboard wielding nurse.
Nurse with Clipboard: “Can you tell me what medications you take regularly?”
Ma Sticker: “None.”
Nurse with Clipboard: “I don’t think you understand me dear. I mean’t what pills do you take every day.”
Ma Sticker: “I understood you perfectly the first time. I have no prescription medication. No regular medication.”

Good old Ma, sharp as a tack to the end when faced with condescension. We Stickers are born members of the awkward squad. Generations of us. We take nothing at face value, especially if it comes from some authority figure. No reason, apart from that they will always have an agenda we don’t share and is probably not to our benefit.

Anything else to report? Not really. Mrs S has been on a conference video calls to the distaff side of the clan talking about introversion and such. I’m writing. Just a usual weekend in fact. We even took a stroll out to a windy downtown and meandered around an almost deserted park admiring blowsy Cherry trees shaking their booty of blossom. The Cafes and restaurants that are open are all doing take-outs. We walked and talked, enjoying the sunshine and remarking what a shame it is that Canada is economically fucked. And will remain so as long as wet lefties are in power.

Maybe in contrast, demonic possession doesn’t sound so bad.

Update:
Bojo has flubbed it.