Tag Archives: Local stuff

Who knew?

…I’m developing green fingers. Well at least as far as tomato seeds are concerned. Monday my little white bag of compost was sprouting eight distinct tiny tomato plants. Tuesday there are around thirty. The tripod widgets made out of bamboo kebab skewers are there to support and train the baby plants until they’re ready for potting out in around a weeks time.
Monday
Tuesday

Wednesday

What a difference two days make, eh? Think I’m going to need a much larger windowsill.

The weather generally has cooled down a fair bit from the 30+ sultriness August generally brings around here. Now we’re back in the low 20’s Celsius and far more comfortable. Lawns are greening again after a few showers last Saturday and no doubt we’ll be hearing the first lawnmowers for a while in a day or two. The wildfire smoke has blown away and Mrs S and I have taken to spending at least two hours out around sunset on the deck, just taking in the view and chilling before she goes indoors to watch some Netflix and I watch the stars come out.

Most people around here seem to close their doors after sunset, but where we are we have a nice little breeze that keeps most of the mossies and no-see-ums at bay. Mosquitoes and the like are weak fliers and a stiff breeze or even a fan will keep your hide untrammelled by their haematophagic attentions. They just can’t fly fast enough in the airflow of an electric fan. So, no bites apart from one who just had to give the back of my leg a nip last week. Normally they come after me like it’s a free bar. So I’m quite pleased and relatively lump free this season.

The outside world continues. The value of the pound to the Canadian Dollar continues to disappoint, but I’m leaving significant funds in sterling, understanding that when the dust settles over BREXIT, the UK economy is going to really take off. So I’m maintaining a positive view of old blighty’s future and treating the current fiscal erosion as a mere temporary inconvenience. The unemployment figures at least look good, with the undervalued pound giving exporters a boost. Juncker can say what he likes, so can the op-eds of the remoaners, but these are just hollow words. The EU needs a good boot up the arse to rescue it from falling into a slough of ideological despond. It has long needed a restructure away from making it easy for bureaucrats to ‘manage’ and back towards a vibrant trading bloc. In short, it has to evolve or die. Either will suit me.

The current culture war doesn’t need my input either. Apart from pointing out, yet again, that you can’t change minds by kicking someone’s teeth in. I’ve seen it tried and it never works for long. As for the violent antics of the far left, do they not see that they’re pushing even moderate centrists straight into the arms of the real fascists? Talk about a bunch of room temperature IQ’s. But that’s Socialists for you.

At least my tomato plants are doing well.

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And now for something..

…completely mundane. We’ve been nursing our Deer Decimated pot plants back to health, and I am happy to report that our Geraniums and Fuchsias are well on their way to a full recovery. Indeed, here they are. Along with the small herb garden I started a few days ago. Nothing exotic, just some culinary basics and perennials that will survive BC conditions the year round. Sage, Dill, Rosemary, Lavender and a variegated leaf thing that Mrs S liked. You might notice a little white bag at the far right of the picture which is currently sprouting a number of tiny tomato plants. There’s a Basil pot in the kitchen, so during the Winter months I will be potting the resulting tomatoes out so we can enjoy my home made Tomato and Basil soup recipe (To go on the sidebar when I can be bothered to write it up) made from the fruit. No idea where I’ll leave the plants out. Maybe in our West facing kitchen window.

Yes I know tomatoes are from the poisonous Nightshade family of plants, but seeing as you’d have to subsist off the damn things to see any long-term ill-effects, it won’t stop me cropping and cooking them. Just hope I’ve got enough space in the freezer for all the Pasta Sauce I’ll be making.

So, what’s the news from chez Sticker? Well not that much actually. Saw Wind River on Friday. A thought provoking drama which touches on the sensitivities of First Nations North Americans and the scandal of missing young women. Jeremy Renner puts in a workmanlike performance as the Cowboy hunter and Fish & Game officer and there’s just enough detail to give an insight into how the reservation system both protects and harms the indigenous tribal peoples of North America. Worth a view.

Well, travel news. We’re off to see the Ozzard, the wonderful Ozzard of Whiz. Australia is the next venue for the grand touring ambitions of the Sticker family. Sydney and the Blue Mountains first while we get over the jet lag. Then up to Queensland to visit family for Crimbo, thence off to Melbourne for New Year before a small road trip back to Sydney to be packed onto the flight by Eldest in January. Flights are booked and paid for. Which is why I had to walk away from the motorcycle thing. It boiled down to an either / or. Couldn’t afford both. Family takes precedence.

Sorry to hear about the bit of inclement weather the Texans are suffering with. There are the usual voices trying to make political capital out of it, but by contrast there’s the heroism of the ‘Cajun Navy’ turning out to help the afflicted. However, I’ve seen how quickly Houston’s streets drain, so knowing the Texans it’ll be business as usual ten minutes after the Hurricane has gone. One can only wish them well.

Ello, ello, ello

What’s all this then? Heading back from a meeting with our accountants this afternoon we noticed that our local RCMP detachment were pulling over all the motorcyclists, presumably to give them a free lecture over how dangerous these consarned two wheeled contraptions are, and presumably a check of dodgy registrations or out of date insurance. No, they weren’t looking for specific machines, they were stopping every type of motorcycle, from cruiser to sports tourer and off road machines. Couldn’t find any announcements about it in the local press or on the RCMP website.

There’s been a lot of this recently. Locally we’ve seen motorcycles parked at the side of the road just off the hard shoulder over the last week. We watched an Asian lad get pulled two days ago on the Sooke road. Not speeding, not driving dangerously, but he still got stopped by the Police.

I remember back in the day mates of mine often used to get stopped a lot for a ‘tyre-kicking’ session by the local law looking for possible drunk driving, stolen machines, out of date tax discs, no MOT, no licence, faulty lights etc. Usual schtick. But none of us greasy looking good-for-nothings would ever be as half witted as to take photographs of ourselves actually breaking the law like some idiots do on YouTube. Honestly officer.

What are the local law up to?

On the other hand I’ve seen a lot of ‘European’ style riding, cutting in and out of traffic, filtering and white line dancing by some guys, so maybe the local RCMP are having a little crackdown. I won’t be riding until next week, so maybe the cops will have tired of pulling over bikers by then. We’ll see.

Update: My bike deal just fell through, so no riding this year and no likelihood of being pulled by the local law. Swings meet roundabouts. Bugger.

Moon shadow

Spent my Monday morning watching the ‘Great American’ Solar eclipse from my deck. The last time I saw an solar eclipse was on an overcast day, 1999 in Cornwall, UK. I was down at the waterfront, watching the wildlife when the untimely darkness came and the fish began to jump. Then there was a moment of absolute stillness, no breeze, and the sea was millpond still before the Sea birds began heading for their roosts and a thin band of sunset red appeared below the clouds. Of course there were dickheads trying to take pictures of the eclipse with flash cameras, still others leaping up and down, setting off fireworks, yelling and screaming to ‘frighten away the Dragon’. Then totality passed, and the light faded back up, like someone was playing with a massive solar dimmer switch. The fish started and stopped jumping again and the seabirds returned, squawking angrily as they did a 180 at the wrong time of day.

Today we were just a little too far north of the line of totality that passed through Oregon to see much more than a softening of the light. Great for eclipse spotting, but just a hundred miles too far north to see much but a bite out of the sun at eclipse maximum. So I elected to observe what happened to the wildlife, and what effect the eclipse had on the quality of light. How do I describe it? Well, on this bright BC morning, at totality the sunlight softened like it was a bright Winters morning and all the birds suddenly went quiet for around five or six minutes. A quick glance at the sun through three sets of dark glasses and a filter confirmed that just under half of the sun was missing, like someone had taken a big bite out of it, but that was all. Bit of an anticlimax really. Still, a good enough excuse to sit outside and drink coffee on a Monday morning.

No doubt the doomsayers and religious nuts will see significance in what is a wholly predictable astronomical event, but I do not subscribe to these rather eccentric notions. There are better things to do with my time. If you listen to the crazies, everything from Donald Trump growing horns and torturing kittens in the Oval office to the end of the world as we know it will come to pass, and as usual these whacked-out prophesies will ring as hollow as the crazies heads. As usual. So I don’t go for that kind of clickbait trash. From the many, many failures of Nostradamus, who was a clever enough man to make his predictions just obscure enough to be taken seriously by the gullible, to the rantings of every common or garden evangelist tub thumper preying on weak minded old ladies; none of them are worth spit.

So that’s it. The eclipse has come and gone, the moons shadow now speeding across the globe until it’s track disappears over the Atlantic Ocean. The next one is due in South America, 2nd July 2019. Indeed, here is the schedule for the next ten.

Well wasn’t that interesting? Would I like another cup of coffee? Yes, I think I would.

BC Culture

The longer I live here, the more I get a handle on what BC is missing. What would make it a far better place to live for hundreds of thousands. This morning I had one of those “By George I’ve got it!” moments while ironically researching the Melbourne region of Australia. We’ll be passing by in December 2017 & January 2018, so if anyone is passing by this blog who has any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

Similarly Cairns, Queensland, where we will be passing Christmas with the down under branch of our clan. Sydney is where Eldest has set up home, so we’ll be going there, too. This time the money is in place, as are the financial facilities, so no cancellations like the planned European Motorcycle trip, something that still rankles with me, but there you go.

Anyway, regarding my little epiphany. Why is Victoria BC such a cultural backwater? In short, Political Correctness, the crass Socialist doctrine that says you can’t say anything that the PC promoters think (?) anyone, anywhere else in the world might find ‘offensive’. This is endemic over here and actively erodes creativity. Having been to a few Victorian stand up shows I find the local brand of ‘approved’ humour absolutely cringeworthy. Indeed, I’ve given up on visiting local comedy clubs because of all the deference to this milksop-making malevolence that populates the front stalls with the incredibly smug and humourless calling out. “Ooh, that’s offensive!” Well actually yes it needs to be. Humour that doesn’t offend, or at least make a spirited attempt to do so, is often so unfunny one needs 500mg of Largactil as a stimulant before each set. I saw this last year when comedian and writer Dylan Moran came to play a tour. Don’t know what he’d done to deserve it, but to the mans credit he did put up a spirited defence against one of the local earnestly dull.

This is where Victoria is. If you don’t ascribe to a particular worldview, you won’t get very far. This is from a community that preaches and practices a very restricted view of ‘tolerance’ you understand. Yes, they paint rainbows on crosswalks and sprinkle pixie dust, but any other opinion outside their own narrow view is actively frowned upon. Indeed, by the time I finish writing this post it may actually illegal to disagree or even blink in the wrong manner when one of the earnestly dull locals is holding forth about how nice the First Nations are and how privileged we are to live cheek by jowl with them. Which is why they must be praised to the skies at every public event, regardless of whether or not any of them are in attendance.

Which ultimately means that the nightlife it a bit, well, moribund. Vapid. Insipid. Duller than dishwater that’s lost all its suds. I’d link to the local stats about death from terminal boredom, but the person tasked with compiling them fell into a coma and hasn’t been heard from since. No wonder there’s been an epidemic of Fentanyl overdoses locally. Indeed, there is even a ‘Death Cafe‘ for those who want to talk about ending it all.

Now don’t get me wrong; Victoria is a nice place to live. At least where we are in the outer suburbs. You just have to go travelling a lot, or face the ennui or le Cafard of living here.

Which is why there are so few modern Canadians who stand out. Because no-one is allowed to. Indeed, most of our real talent has to be exported before it does any real good for itself.

Update: Just picked up the news from The Blocked Dwarf and Grandad over at Head Rambles that the doyenne of the Scriblerus group, Anna Raccoon, the erudite Suzanne Cameron-Blackie is no longer with us. The Grim Reaper finally claimed her last night having won by three falls and two submissions.

Best regards and condolences to Mr G and all those who were closest to her. They broke the mould when she came to pass. Celebrate her memory and cherish all that which she contributed.

Did I miss anything?

Recently bought myself a copy of Larousse on Cooking, am learning how to make good Yoghurt. Have also been spending time and money upgrading my office with a new, more secure Wi-fi router which goes like wet smelly stuff off a large steel digging implement and a new ultra comfy office chair from which to oversee my affairs and plot world domination. Did mention to Mrs S about getting a White Persian Cat to stroke while hatching my evil plans, but she said we couldn’t because they shed like crazy and we have a ‘no pets’ agreement with our landlord. She also said that we’d need to put it out at night (Who sets their cat on fire? – That’s cruel) or coax it down from the curtains, or clear its collection of sacrificial offerings up every morning. So, no cat. No Bill, no cat and that’s final. Oh yes, and can you clean up after yourself a bit better.

No-one tells you all this when you first decide to be an evil genius. Someone has to scour the Piranha tank and the scorpion pit. Or vacuum up the cat hairs. Or rake out the embers from your private volcano and power wash the high powered laser spy splitter after use (It gets really messy and burned on blood is hell to get off the stainless steel). Not to mention pay much higher electricity bills for powering all the various torture instruments that are de rigueur for the socially mobile world domineer. Sorry, I thought I was supposed to do the plotting and planning not spend all my time cleaning. One doesn’t get where I’m not today with having to take care of every single fine detail myself. I’m supposed to have people for that. Speaking of which, frankly me dears you just can’t get the henchmen nowadays. No-one seems to teach the right skills. When I tell a minion to carve a couple of slices off a helpless victim or do the waterboarding properly, the last thing I want to see is one of those blank ‘What do you want me to do that for?’ looks.

To which I have only one response:
I’m busy reading the financials, because it’s where all the real news is.

Apart from that, it’s been a nice few days. The winds have returned, blowing the wildfire smoke away and we can see the Olympic Mountains and the Juan De Fuca clearly once more. All right, the breezes make putting up our sunshade a little problematic and we have to watch it in case it gets blown into a back yard two blocks away but our Deer decimated flowers are making a comeback, bringing a much needed splash of colour to our deck. I can see the Fuchsia once more.

The other good news is that Mrs S has now relented and allowed me to look for a World domination cat. Just so long as it’s not a real one. Heavy sigh. Suppose I’ll have to clean the Piranha tank and muck out the Scorpions myself then. Either that or it’s fish and chips or Mock-Scampi in a basket. Again.

Smoking

The hills are disappearing under a veil of wildfire smoke as I write this. Softly fading into grey-blue invisibility, range by range until we can see no more than a kilometre or so, and the taste of burning forest is in the thick, still air.

It’s wildfire season and the wildfires have the upper hand at present (See this interactive map). The state of emergency has been extended for two weeks and the volunteer firefighters are all fully engaged, NOTAM’s (Notice to Airmen – like those issued about volcanic activity and war zones) are in effect over the fire zones. Which is nothing new. Happens roughly every third year or so in BC. Out here in the ‘burbs of Victoria it’s an inconvenience, but the smoke does keep the Summer temperatures manageable. Could do with a stiff Pacific breeze or two though. Even the forecast for today simply says ‘smoke’ (Or should that be ‘vape’?) See screengrab below.

From some sources the usual cries have gone up that it’s all the fault of the mythical man made global warming, although I don’t think anyone with an active brain cell actually believes that any more. Although man is no longer wholly at fault, apparently our domestic cats and dogs are major contributors because they’re carnivores. According to some dotty academic from UCLA.

Seriously, we could kill off 99% of all animal and human life on this planet and all these whining catastrophists wouldn’t be happy. Right up until the moment they realised that all these animals and people are, in many and diverse ways, keeping the many Cassandra’s comforted, fed and provided with all the comforts of life they enjoy. They’re just selfish. They want the world to themselves and in their narrow solipsistic little minds other people don’t count unless we’re doing what we’re jolly well told. By them of course. Because their inferiority complexes demand total compliance or they feel so thweatened, poor ickle bunny’s. Sheesh.

On a more positive note, we’ve rescued our deer-decimated Geraniums and Fuchsia’s, potted them up and placed them on the deck, where we will get the joy of them throughout the flowering season and those bloody deer can’t get at our prized blooms. Not unless the greedy little sods learn to pole vault.

Anyone for Venison?

I’m beginning to hate the deer that frequent our neighbourhood. Am currently scouring various sources for flowers they will not devastate. We’ve tried Geraniums, Fuschias and Asters and the little shits have munched merrily on each one. Even our landlords coneflowers, advertised as a bloom that deer will not eat, have been eradicated. Nothing seems to keep the bloody things away.

Yes I know the little fuckers ‘were here first’ (Forty years ago), but like all things, they’ve become a pest species, an anachronism. Rather like the people who encourage the wretched creatures and put up “Watch out for Deer” signs while their neighbours see their carefully tended yards decimated.

What the pro deer faction do not appreciate is that they are encouraging a reservoir of infection for things like Lyme Disease, a nasty condition with a wide range of debilitating symptoms, including meningitis. Put bluntly, Deer are a walking plague pit best killed and cooked properly to dispose of their many pathogens, including Plague, before eating. Having glanced down the list of ickiness these creatures are heir to, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go anywhere near them without a wearing full biohazard suit.

Frankly, I’m inclined to look upon Deer as a cash crop, a walking larder. It’s worth noting that if the deer are fat, that will need stripping off the meat before cooking because it has an unpleasant taste.

On the upside, here’s one of my culinary heroes on the topic of how to dispose of the carcase with style.

Check out his Youtube archive for lots of tasty Venison recipes.

Windows 10 and other crap

Since I’m ‘in funds’ at present with spare disposable income, I decided to buy a few things that will make life a little easier. No problem, right? On so many other levels, oh so many other directions, completely wrongety wrong-wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Yes, dear reader I bought two new Windows 10 Laptops for our business. Silly me. But they looked a good deal, had a reasonable spec and for a while worked quite well. Email was processed. Applications processed data. Web was browsed. Skype conversations had. Even movies watched.

Until the last ‘upgrade’. Bloody Windows upgrades.

For the last 72 hours my new laptop has been making a loud buzzing noise before crashing and rebooting, and all the changing of sound and video settings was to no avail. My professional virus checker found nothing, even after update to the latest version. When I tried to watch Youtube flash video, five minutes later; BZZZZZZZZZ! And the whole machine went tits up and rebooted. Until I delved into the dusty recesses of Windows Device Manager and found that something had added an Intel Video chipset as well as the onboard Realtek. So what was causing the crashes was a conflict between system drivers which provoked me into tearing out what remains of my once-flowing locks. However, it’s an easy fix. The Intel drivers and chipset have to be deactivated, which is what I did, and since then all is well (Fingers, toes, nose and eyes crossed). Until the next ‘upgrade’ (snort of derision).

Then when we get home we find that we’ve been ‘selected’ for something we didn’t volunteer for. Erm excuse me. I don’t have to, so I won’t. I’ve got better things to do with my time and have no truck with complete bullshit like ‘social cohesion’ which is a complete nonsense term peddled by complete nonces to force their values upon you. The Trudeaupians can talk about ‘Canadian values’ all they like, but there’s a problem. I’m not Canadian born and don’t kiss arses any more. I’ve paid all my bills and my taxes are up to date so this particular branch of officialdom can Arkell vs Pressdram as far as I’m concerned. They will find my studied politeness is finite.

On the upside, whilst we were away, our landlord, nice chap with whom we have a reasonable working relationship, had bought our apartment a new washing machine because a worn out bearing in the old one was making the whole house vibrate. This new one bleeps, plays little tunes, has a lovely light show built in and sometimes it even deigns to wash our clothes. Strange but cute. And we have a lot of clothes to wash.

Anyway, that’s one thing about an extended road trip. No matter how far you go, or how long you’re away, you’re always stuck with the dirty laundry when you get back.

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

Frying tonight

Ah, the days of youth. Fish and chips collected from the chip shop up the street, wrapped in a large square of grease proof paper and whatever newspaper you brought with you. Sitting on the floor with Ma (during divorce) at four years old in our rather empty front room dipping finger fulls of greasy chips and battered cod into a generous blob of Mr Heinz’ famous tomato ketchup. Ah nostalgia, it’s not like it used to be.

Now a few decades on, half way around the world, the saying ‘frying tonight’ takes on a whole new and sinister meaning. Specifically with regard to the batshit crazy pudding head currently occupying the North Korean dictators hot seat. Now I don’t know what sort of targeting technology the North Koreans have, but I’m guessing it’s pretty rudimentary. Think 1980’s Soviet era Scud with a CEP (Circular Area of Probability) accuracy, where half the missiles will fall within a radius of 6-700 metres at 3-550km range, but that’s with a conventional warhead. Put a nuclear warhead on that and the range drops by half and the accuracy likewise suffers. Let’s be generous and say the maximum range for nuclear Scud-level technology the North Koreans have reverse engineered scales with around about the same accuracy. Starting with a CEP error per thousand kilometres of 0.1 degrees. Which at 7,600 kilometres range between North Korea and the closest US territory of Hawaii is an approximate CEP of around 14 kilometres. Using simple trigonometry, this means that any range capable missile fired by the North Koreans might just about hit the biggest Hawaiian island. Or not. They’ve only just successfully tested an 800km capable missile. So a trans-pacific strike is hardly likely. At least not yet.

However if North Koreas frothing fruitcake regime did manage to make a missile capable of hitting Seattle (The closest major US mainland target) and we apply the same margin of error… Well, we in Victoria or Vancouver are as likely to be on the receiving end of North Korean ‘Bluff’ diplomacy as our cousins across the Juan De Fuca. Which would not please our large (Just under a million) ethnic Chinese population. Not that parts of Vancouver couldn’t do with a little urban renewal but this just isn’t funny.

That said, it’s far more likely that any ballistic missile attack from DPRK will be sent south rather than east, targeting US bases in South Korea rather than risk the embarrassment of hitting the wrong country entirely. What to do, it might muss our Prime Ministers lovely hair. The brutes.

From my perspective I’m hoping that the Chinese President sees his Florida meeting with Trump this week as an opportunity to negotiate an end to a regime that has become as big a thorn in China’s paw as to the USA and South Korea. Perhaps Kim Jong thingy and his top cohorts could meet with an ‘accident’ and in the ensuing confusion the Chinese could allow US aid in to feed North Korean refugees whilst they install a more business friendly regime.

I think I’ve said this before but a joint US / Chinese decapitation strike on Pyongyang is a far a better prospect than the possibility of the US or Canadian (Or maybe even the Mexican) West Coast ‘frying tonight’.

Update: Interesting way of ‘delivering a message’ to North Korea by sending 59 (Why not 60, or was one a dud?) cruise missiles winging into a Syrian air base suspected of dropping nerve agent onto civilians.  Production and stockpiling of that sort of chemical weapon has been illegal since 1993, so an airstrike can (just about) be justified with the backing of international law.  Providing of course that the Intelligence for the attack was solid.  However, knowing that a certain dictator had his older half brother assassinated by Nerve Agent one is temped to ask;  “Still feeling brave, Kimmy old thing?”  I have a feeling that Pyongyang may have to rethink their most recent bout of willy waving missile threats.