Tag Archives: Local stuff

Not a complete cock-up

Exam day.  Have come out of it feeling that I could probably have done a little better, but I reckon that I came out with a solid B+ at the very worst.  But then I’m a realist at heart.  It will be a very kind marker who gives me an A.  Did better than the last exam on my course, which came out as a solid B+, and so as long as I keep this up I’ll end up with a sound Canadian professional qualification and a good transcript to back it up.

No, seriously, it’s not all chaos.  I can cope with that.  What always hits me is the sense of numbness.  I’ve never been one for celebrations, as I’ve always found them premature.  I rarely celebrate my own triumphs or victories, and the most fate gets out of me is a grim smile of satisfaction on a job well done.  The whole whooping, singing and dancing that some folk go in for strikes me as somehow undignified.  I’ll gladly cheer on other people, but never myself.  Funny that.  Mainly because I know that there’s always something unforeseen.  A minor detail that sends everything tits up.  So I’ve been preparing for everything I can.

Tonight I pack.  Downtown tomorrow for a haircut and last minute fit of the vapours.  Thursday we’re off south of the border at sparrow fart.  Extra time has been factored in for heavy traffic and Victoria’s notoriously erratic downtown pedestrian population.  Although at the time we’re on the road, all the extra crusties kipping out back of the courthouse will still be snuggled in their sleeping bags.  So that’s at least one road hazard I won’t have to deal with on the way to the Coho ferry.

As a sidenote; temporary habitation was offered to the homeless on an “Until you get back on your feet” basis, but then some dingbat protester group from Vancouver pitched in, demanding ‘homes’ or nothing.  Like the rest of us don’t pay rent or mortgages, why should a bunch of freeloaders from the East get houses while the rest of us struggle?  I remain cynical.  No doubt by mid-May most of them will be off to Tofino to pollute the beaches and leach off the surfer population, as usual.  It really pisses me off when people have taxpayer dollar thrown at them, then whine about not getting soft toilet paper in their five star hotel.  Despite not doing anything to merit it.  Having sampled the dubious delights of sleeping rough when times were really bad I’m not totally unsympathetic.  However, I was never homeless for more than three days, and never, ever went into publicly owned or provided accommodation.  The thought never even occurred to me.

Anyway, that’s pretty academic.  Like the course I’ve just finished.  The car is ready.  I’ve made sure we’ve even got one of those emergency tyre repair thingies that will seal and re-inflate your tyre if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and out of cell phone range.  Handy if you’ve already used the spare.  Add to that a modestly well equipped first aid kit of my own construction, not one of store bought things full of stuff you’ll never need, and after packing we’re good to go.  What else?  Oh yes, a (very) rough map of our route.US Road Trip Map.jpg

First we’re heading down to Cali-forn-i-a to see the big trees and drink the wine, then cutting across via Vegas, Flagstaff, then down into Texas and across to Florida and back.  I’m verily skittish with anticipation.  All we have to do is follow the flags.  Or the Satnav.  Or the proper map we have in the car.  I hope.  Should be fun.

TTFN

Bill

 

I close my eyes

Successful day today.   I’m ahead of the game this morning, both in work and study.  So, it being a bright beautiful British Columbian day, Mrs S and I went out to sort out some last few details before we pootle off on our grand six week trans-american adventure in just over one weeks time.  We’re erring on the side of caution on our trip back across the Rocky Mountains and opting for the southerly route via I-70 via Colorado Springs and Grand Junction to miss the snows, then picking up the road north to Salt Lake City and Yellowstone Park.  We hope not to become asphyxiated by either the Sulphur or Carbon Dioxide emanations of the big caldera, or the Marijuana fumes while we’re passing through Colorado.  We’ve even set time aside so I can pay a flying visit to the Bonneville salt flats.  If they’ve dried out enough to drive on by mid May.

While Mrs S was shopping for last minute springtime clothes, I eschewed the normal respite of the Husband chair and sat outside in the main mall to enjoy the sunlight.  I put on my shades, closed my eyes, kicked back and let my other senses take over.  Why?  Let me explain.   When I was very small, I had a morbid fear of going blind.  No idea why, I just did.  Small children left to their own devices for too long often develop eccentric world views and I had a fairly solitary early childhood.  So in order to prepare for what I mistakenly thought was inevitable, I used to close my eyes and tried to use my hearing, smell and touch instead of visible light to fix my position in the world.  To train myself for the worst, if it happened.  Nothing serious, just trying to work out where I was, and what all the various noises and smells around me meant.  How the sound echoes off bare walls and in heavily furnished rooms.  Trying to use my ears and touch alone to echo-locate myself in the confines of my room.  Developing my sensitivity to sense the kiss of air on the back of my neck as someone passes close behind me, the sound of their footsteps dopplering from right to left, the scent of their body, perfumed or not if they come close enough.  Sensing the very electricity of their motion through the world, from the sparkling erratic uncertainty of small children, the fizzing of their older peers, crackling discharge anxieties of the born worriers with their erratic shallow breathing.  The soft grunts of an extremely overweight person as they make their heavy footway along the tiled mall.

As a boy I used to cheat, slightly opening my eyes so I had a visual memory to associate with the sensations surrounding me.  Now I don’t have to unless the smell is so obscure or the sound unfamiliar it falls outside my aural lexicon.

When you close your eyes the world of the other senses opens like a flower, swamping everything that sight normally blinds you to.  What is that approaching grumbling noise?  An Earthquake?  A massive truck?  Or more prosaically a deliveryman’s steel wheeled sack truck on concrete?   As he passes, a waft of Pepperoni, dough and cheese tells he just had pizza for lunch.  The “Yeah?”, “Right.”, and “Mm-hm”, “Well he like er..” and “She like er….” of multiple random cell phone conversations within earshot.  The meaningless squealing of teenage girls as they navigate their developing social vortices.  Does anyone really listen to themselves?  Or is that not the point?

Then the distinctively fleshy, slightly foetid, hormone heavy smell of a pregnant woman insinuates itself into my educated nostrils.  I can hear her behind me, the mildly waddling, shuffling gait, hesitantly stopping in front of the women’s clothing shop behind me, presumably looking enviously at all the elegant clothes she aspires to get back into when her child has come into the world.  I don’t know, there are things sound and smell alone cannot tell you, but the scent of a woman in late pregnancy is quite distinctive.

All the time the sheer background whispering roar of humanity and muted traffic noise passes by a single seated figure wearing sunglasses, head tilted slightly back, small smile ghosting across his face, precisely in the moment.  Privately wondering at the magic of it all and quietly praying that no-one interrupts his solitary enjoyment.

Then at the edge of hearing, a set of familiar footsteps that I know like my own heartbeat. Behind my shades, my eyes open and smile broadens.  “Hello love.  Got what you needed?”  Time to move on.  The rest of the day beckons.

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.

Dictionaries are for everyone

I’m going to start keeping a dictionary by the front door. Let me explain; I have put up a simple ‘No soliciting’ sign so that Mrs S and I can work from home without unnecessary interruption. Necessary interruptions include delivery of ordered goods and cordially greeting those with an appointment. Unnecessary interruptions are canvassers for whatever purpose, door to door sales people and anyone who has not let me know they’re coming (Friends and family are exempt from this rule).

Yet still there are people who ring my doorbell to try and sell me stuff or worse, use emotional blackmail to try and wring twenty bucks a month direct from my bank account. I had one this afternoon who said; “Don’t get mad, I’m not soliciting.”
“Okay, what do you want? I am quite busy.” I stated, already knowing where this conversation was going.
“Can I just show you this leaflet for..”
“That’s soliciting. Good day.” I saw no benefit in prolonging this conversation with someone who seemed to have failed basic High School English. So I closed the door and locked it firmly behind me, not forgetting to loudly affix the safety chain.

Honestly, what is it with some people? Can they not understand simple written English?

Definition
solicit
Pronunciation: /səˈlɪsɪt/
VERB (solicits, soliciting, solicited)

1 [WITH OBJECT] Ask for or try to obtain (something) from someone:
he called a meeting to solicit their views
[NO OBJECT]: don’t solicit for money
More example sentences Synonyms
2 Ask (someone) for something:
historians and critics are solicited for opinions
3 [NO OBJECT] Accost someone and offer one’s or someone else’s services as a prostitute:
(as noun soliciting) although prostitution was not itself an offence, soliciting was

Origin:

Late Middle English: from Old French solliciter, from Latin sollicitare ‘agitate’, from sollicitus ‘anxious’, from sollus ‘entire’ + citus (past participle of ciere ‘set in motion’).

General usage:
I solicit, am soliciting, have solicited
You solicit, are soliciting, have solicited
He solicits, is soliciting, has solicited
She solicits, is soliciting, has solicited
They solicit, are soliciting, have solicited

In short, ‘no soliciting’ can thus be defined as “Don’t ring my doorbell to try and sell me something I don’t want, or otherwise waste my time. Got that, bozo?”

Why the dictionary? Oh that’s not to explain anything, that’s to hit them with if they won’t go away.

Today’s lack of amusement

Today I have the signing of forms. Legal matters in the UK require my notarised signatures, so off I went to the local Notary Public to get my drunken spider crawl witnessed and stamped. Such are the occasional inconveniences of being an Expat. That and having wills in multiple jurisdictions. Not to mention the extortion that Canada post tries to apply while delivering a distinctly third rate overseas service. I’ve all but given up expecting Air Mail to be delivered within 4 to 7 working days. From Canada it’s more like three bloody weeks. So in future I’ll be sending important post UPS or Fedex. They’re actually cheaper would you believe? And they do express post to places Canada Post seems unable to reach.

Of such is the coarse cloth of my lack of amusement cut. Still, I stand to make a pretty penny, so I shouldn’t bitch. I just wish I didn’t have to send hard copies via an insecure means because of companies whose business models haven’t quite made it into the 21st century. Why my Bank and Lawyers won’t accept a fax or have a secure portal I can update my records on is a source of all too frequent irritation. Every time I have to authorise changes, with legal costs and postage we’re talking about a hundred and ten dollars, which is about fifty five quid a pop at the time of writing. That’s a hell of a lot to have your signature witnessed and to send ten sheets of paper. I don’t care how ‘carbon friendly’ the service is.

Anyway. While browsing the pilots forums at PPRUNE.org, I see the desperation about so called ‘man made climate change’ has sunk to a new low. At least according to the propaganda machine called the BBC. Apparently it’s supposed to make transatlantic flights longer, although the mechanism detailed in both the article and study looks like some sort of doomsday fantasy, which is what the lamestream keep feeding us. Yay! Wreck your economy and doom your descendants to penury over ‘science’ that would even make a Fourteenth century alchemist go “Carbon Dioxide? Really? Pass that philosophers stone will you and bugger off, I’ve got to transmute this lead into gold by next week or I get shortened by ten inches. Monarchies, eh?”

Well just let me pull my worn and tattered scepticism out of the drawer, yet again. The models this ‘science’ is based on makes Piltdown Man and Phlogiston look like cutting edge. None of these carbon dioxide driven climate models has ever made an accurate prediction three days ahead, let alone a century. So isn’t it about time they were consigned to the junk pile of failed theories? Like the flat Earth, Earth centred astronomical model, celestial spheres and Angels dancing on pinheads? The climate changes, and if you listen to people who are thinking outside the CO2 box, you start to get the idea that the Earth’s Atmosphere in no way resembles a greenhouse (Lack of glass, no frames or doors), and that a trace gas which is essential to photosynthesis could be a whole lot higher and actually improve the biosphere of dear old mother Earth. Cut the level of CO2 below 150ppm, and photosynthesis stops. The plants die and so do we. We need more CO2, not less. The whole ‘back radiation’ thing is an assumption based on the work of 19th century Swedish researcher Svante Arrhenius, whose equations assume straight line values for temperature response. Which is fine, to a point.

However, anyone who has studied meteorology in any depth, like those whose livelihoods are shaped by atmospheric physics, for example pilots, will understand that there is nothing straight about nature. A few years decades ago, when I was much younger and flush with funds, I had an ambition to learn to fly. Part of this entailed taking lessons how to fly gliders, light aircraft and even on two wonderful occasions in a helicopter (Once as navigator, once hands-on). Necessary background study gave me a rough working knowledge of atmospheric physics, airflows over laminar surfaces, cloud formation, air currents, the Jet stream, Anabatic and Katabatic winds etcetera. In short, what causes your tiny airframe to be lifted and tossed around by outside forces and how not to die when it is. Wish I’d kept my log book, now lost in multiple house moves, up to date. But that’s by the by.

What my studies have taught me is that Nature is curly. Things have limits. The speed of sound is a good one. Flying faster than sound requires much more complicated mathematics than simple straight line equations. Supersonic pressure wave build up is not a straight line response. Likewise, the speed of sound is not an absolute, it’s a variable which changes with pressure, density and temperature. Likewise, the IR absorption of Carbon Dioxide does not follow a straight line or even, as some have claimed, an exponential relationship with proportion. Any increase of temperature down to CO2 drops off rapidly after 20ppm.

Wait a moment. Twenty parts per million, but our atmospere contains around four hundred now? WTF? If it was an exponential relationship, shouldn’t we be baking in a Venus-like hell already? Apparently not. CO2 and Temperature H/T to Jo Nova for the original graph based on the work of Lindzen and Choi, 2009. So all this stuff about CO2 being a major climate driver doesn’t look so solid when you take a long, cool look at the real information.

So why is CO2 even an issue? Possibly because there are a lot of people with money tied up in Carbon derivatives, and politicians who have already spent all your tax dollars and need an excuse to raise even more taxes, who would like us all to think otherwise. So a number of very able Public Relations specialists are paid to keep the issue on the boil, brain dead media luvvies who leech off the whole apocalyptic drama of the thing, protestalot ‘climate’ activists who get back door funding from rich donors, and the politico’s making sure that grant money is directed to those who are (unsuccessfully) trying to prove that CO2 is the big climate bogeyman come to murder us all in our beds. Notwithstanding the ‘groupthink’ by the underinformed and credulous. If it wasn’t for the constant demands with menaces, I could laugh at these people a whole lot more.

Under a buck

Over the past few days the current oil glut, which looks like it’s going to go on for a while, has seen local gas prices plunge to levels we haven’t seen since our first trip through Ontario back in 2003.  See this screen grab below from the Gasbuddy web site this morning.

Gas Price Victoria Jan 2016

I’m almost tempted to fill ‘er up and head up Island just for the simple, inexpensive joy of doing so.  We’re also planning a serious road trip during April and May down into the good old southern US of A down through Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, then back via Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Idaho before heading for home.

That’s GBP0.48 per litre.  48p. Forty eight pence or GBP2.18 per Imperial Gallon at current exchange rate.  US$0.68 per litre.  Sixty eight cents.  About US$2.57 per US Gallon.  Down in the USA, I’ve seen prices as low as US$1.91, or CAD$2.77 (US Gallon).

Hang on.  Oklahoma City reports US$1.29.  Blood and sand.

Downtown

Went to pick up Mrs S from her exercise class the other night and as I was driving through downtown was surprised to see a mini tent city had sprouted opposite Christ Church Cathedral near the junction of Quadra and Courtney Street. I knew things were tough, but it was the numbers that caught me off guard. We’re used to street beggars populating every street corner, but it seems a whole new influx are arriving to take advantage of the city bylaw that allows camping in city parks up to 7am in the morning. Here’s a Shaw TV special on Victoria’s problem panhandling (Begging) which barely scratches the surface.

Victoria, and BC in general has a homeless problem. To be frank it has everybody else’s homeless problems because the winters are generally mild and the culture generous and tolerant. A rough straw poll has down and outs from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and everywhere else, not just locals who have fallen on hard times. Local provision of homeless shelter places is (according to various sources) 175, with an additional seasonal 110, but it still doesn’t seem to be enough. My cynical side tells me it never will be. When the snows and real cold hits at the end of January / early February, even in the temperate climes we enjoy here, the city is going to be carting off human popsicles. As usual.

Which leaves Victorians with a problem. You can’t just let people starve and freeze to death, but how many have to turn up before downtown starts to get serious public order problems? More dependent people means more strain on local government, which has to cut other services or raise taxes to pay for all these extra mouths. Bylaw enforcement alone is currently costing the city CAD$700,00 a year and in September 2015 the figure of CAD$50 million (Now cut to CAD$30 million) was requested to build and run 367 housing units for homeless people. That’s right, fifty fucking million dollars, albeit over fifteen years. The additional taxes needed to raise this amount will put pressure on private landlords to raise rents, possibly resulting in even more homeless people. Then what? What with depressed resource prices, the economy not going anywhere fast, there will be less money overall to provide shelter and food. More beggars competing for fewer donations. Less tourism money as people get put off from return visits by being importuned at every street corner and then more cops needed to police the panhandling.

It’s got to the point where Mrs S and I are thinking of moving and buying a place in next door (and less expensive) Langford or Colwood. There’s no real economic advantage for us being this close to the downtown core, and so long as we have a viable fast Internet connection we can work from anywhere.

Now the homeless problem isn’t currently as bad as East Hastings in Vancouver or Seattle across the border, but it seems to me from an eyewitness point of view that despite all the money that seems to get thrown at the issue, homelessness is a bottomless pit. A slough of despond which takes a good chunk of determination for the afflicted to haul themselves out of, because no-one else can do it for you. I’ve been there. Had to live out of my car for a while a couple of decades ago and know how bloody cold and uncomfortable it can get, so I’m not totally unsympathetic.

It’s my observation that what keeps many people homeless are the little ‘luxury’ items like alcohol or drugs that they might take, just to make themselves “Feel a little better.” or take the edge off their misery, whilst at the same time prolonging it. I can tell you from personal experience that getting and staying out of that noisome hole takes willpower, persistence, and not a little luck. The intoxicants and non-essentials have to be ditched and every resource garnered to find work and a place to live. Anything but food and shelter has to take a back seat. Smartening up, swallowing pride and letting the slow burn fuel the push towards renewed prosperity. It’s a long, hard road with no short cuts and lots of potholes.

Sometimes I think the whole issue is like the foreign aid conundrum; give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he can feed his entire family. On the other hand; wells can be dug, irrigation taught, fish ponds created, seeds provided and the means to get produce to market improved, but if afterwards the buggers simply sit on their arses chewing Qat all day, or fight over everything, then you might as well have done nothing for them in the first place. Devil, deep blue sea…………

As for that New Years Eve business in Germany…. Can I join the Greek Chorus saying “We told you so!”

No snow

Well, not in our part of Victoria.  From our back window I can see some on the hills a few miles north, but seeing we’re at the approximately same latitude as Chartres, France,  Vienna in Austria and Sakhalin, north of Japan, we aren’t expecting any until late January.   Although ‘wet flurries’ have been forecast for the first week in January 2016.

At the moment we’re having a run of quite deep frosts (For Victoria). About -6 or thereabouts. Nothing to write home about, but it can make walking in leather soled shoes a little challenging.

One thing that can thaw a frosty heart is the promise of a good Sunday roast, which in our case is Pork, something which the Canadians do frightfully well.  I cook it rind on, with plenty of crackling. How? Oh how remiss of me, I’ve not posted the recipe, I abase myself for such uncharacteristic thoughtlessness.  For my rite of absolution, keep reading.

Roast pork and cracklingNow I base my own recipe on this article, but it’s the method that counts.

To get first class crackling; Buy a rind (skin) on Pork shoulder. 2lbs (A kilo) is fine for a modest joint that will provide a meal and sandwiches for the rest of the week for one or two people if sliced thinly. Do not buy if the rind and fat have been removed. Fat is key to the flavour and despite what the ignorant will tell you, is not harmful because ‘dietary’ fat is not that digestible and does not directly convert to body fat or cholesterol. Have the skin scored (cut into quarter inch or 6mm strips) just so the skin itself is cut through, or cut it yourself. Do not cut through the underlying fat to the meat. A Stanley or craft knife, the sharper the better, is ideal for this purpose. Now rub with cooking oil and salt.

If your joint has been frozen, leave out for at least 24 hours in a fridge to defrost prior to cooking, and make sure the scored skin is completely dry before rubbing with oil and salt. As for the rub, be generous, say a large pinch (A half teaspoon) of salt and a tablespoon of cooking oil. If you want to try olive oil, be my guest, but my recipe works and uses bog standard cooking oil. Put a smear of apple sauce on the underside of the joint, or cook with a large Bramley cooking apple in the roasting pan.

Pre-heat your oven to 230 Celsius (450F) and put prepared joint in a roasting dish, rind upward. Place in oven for ten minutes when the oven gets to temperature. This will ‘set’ the salt in the rind. After ten minutes, turn oven down to 180 Celsius (350F) at 22-5 minutes a pound or half kilo. Anything more will dry out the joint and leave you with pork of a flavour and texture resembling cardboard. Use the approximate cooking times below and it should turn out reet champion.

Cooking times and temperatures*
2lb (0.9kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @45 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
3lb (1.36kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @65 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
4lb (1.81kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @90 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
5lb (2.26kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @115 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)

When the ‘cooking time’ has come to an end, stick a skewer into the joint. If the resulting juice runs clear it’s done, and the rind just needs a quick blitz for fifteen to twenty minutes under your ovens ‘grill’ setting to get it to ‘crackle’.   If the juice runs pink, depending upon how big your joint is, give it another thirty minutes,  if still too red, you forgot to switch the oven on, dimwit.

Keep an eye on the joint in the final stage to get the crackling to your taste. This blog cannot be held responsible for results if you aimlessly meander off to do something else while you should have had your mind on the job of cooking. Let the phone and the doorbell ring. They’re probably not anyone important.

Cooking can be held as a metaphor for life in general; pay attention and do things properly and you will be rewarded time out of measure. Be forgetful or unfocussed, and your desired outcome will not happen. Thus you will die a withered husk, embittered and resentful and devoid of the sense of species fellowship good cooking makes of all humanity.

For the ideal accompaniment, roast potatoes (roasties) can be produced simply by heating a dish with a little oil in, throw in uncooked potatoes cut into chunks into the heated dish. flip the potatoes to coat with oil, sprinkle with a little dried Rosemary or Thyme and black pepper. Perchance a mere strinkling of salt. Leave in same oven as joint of pork for an hour and a half or until golden and crispy. Roast parsnips can be prepared in much the same fashion and add a sweet counterpoint to the roasties. Please note; cooking roast potatoes in the same roasting tray as the joint may leave you with soggy roasties, which in my view is not a desirable outcome. Prepare green vegetables of choice. Make gravy in the traditional English manner as outlined here and Robert is one’s Father’s brother.

When the pork is cooked to perfection, lift off crackling, leave meat to ‘rest’ for ten minutes while finishing off veg and gravy. Lay table, slice joint, humbly accept much deserved praise. Be prepared to fight for a portion of crackling.

Have a nice day.

*I have an older model oven for which these cooking times are valid. These timings should not be considered definitive and should only be used as rough guidelines.  There is no substitute for simply paying attention. 

Stirred…..

Just clambering into bed last night when the whole house shook for around five seconds. “I know what that is.” Mrs S and I chorused. “Earth tremor.” Just like a big truck had clipped the house, a big grunt followed by a five second rumble. No damage, just half of Victoria jarred into wakefulness. No fuss, no sirens and no damage to speak of.

Quake MartiniTurns out the epicentre of our little 4.8 Earth grumble was only around twenty kilometres away. Of course we keep on getting told by ‘experts’ that the ‘big one’ will ‘rip Vancouver open like a zipper’ and that we’re all doooooooomed. Well of course we are. All you can do is keep the emergency kit in the car refreshed, and a small grab bag of useful things, like fire and cocktail making materials ready bagged in the closet. A few heavy blankets and some bottled water and we’re good to go. If the big one does come I can build a nice fire quickly because firewood will not be in short supply. No biggie. As for the cocktails, if I’m forced to rough it, I’m going to rough it in style.

On a more sombre note, I hear Lemmy, Ex-Hawkwind Bass player and heavy metal hellraiser has pegged it just two days after a cancer diagnosis. Sad to hear of his going, but surprised to hear that he’d made it to 70. Amazing what you can do if you ignore all the warnings and plough on regardless.

No more Halloweens

As per my last post, I’m not a well cat. Mostly from the side effects of medication. A little light headed and more tired than I should be. So I’ve been resting a lot over the weekend. Nothing much, just chilling and reading. However, being mindful that it was Halloween, I put out some candy at the front door so the kids could help themselves, as that evening I was in no shape to walk down a flight of stairs unaided. This morning I found half the candy we’d left out for them strewn all over my landlady’s front yard.

My response? Oo-kay. I’ll clear up the mess they made this time, but next Halloween the trick or treaters can fuck right off. Ungracious little bastards. So much for being environmentally friendly Canadians.