Tag Archives: Local stuff

Orange skies

This morning the sky over Victoria is a pale pastel orange. Is this the result of ‘Global warming’? No. It is the result of that recent Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun? Is it the harbinger of a really big thunderstorm? No and no. Apparently it’s good old seasonal wildfires in all those jolly wonderful trees, where the smoke has risen and mixed with the clouds and is refracting the sunlight in that part of the spectrum. When it has been visible, the sun has been a hot pink spot.

Sheer HellWhere is all this smoke coming from? Well, according to wildfires today, a good deal is coming from upcountry Alberta and Saskatchewan. Possibly from fires to the East of Vancouver and West of Seattle. Which feels a bit strange because the last few days have been nearly clear blue skies with nary a surcease of shade. There’s also a mountainside on fire up island but someone else is getting our second hand smoke….. Pass me a beer, will ya?

So much for smoking bans.

Happy Canada Day

Canada Flag Happy Canada dayTo my Canadian reader. And to the rest of you, regardless of where you are on the planet. Unfortunately, we’ll be spending a good part of our afternoon hanging around hospitals, so we’ll miss most of the downtown fun.

The good news is that we’ll be done and dusted in time to see the Fireworks, and I know exactly where we’ll be. There’s this great vantage point no-one else knows about, right at the….. argh! (Sound of struggling followed by a suspicious silence)

Sorry about that reader, he was about to give the game away, and we do so hate being crowded out of our favourite downtown vantage points. We’re afraid Bill has been getting a little…. too feisty of late, now he has to go back to his padded cell. We apologise for any inconvenience, or lack thereof…..

Routine shizzle

Not much happening chez Maison Sticker apart from hanging around for Mrs S’s appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon. She needs to talk to one to get a proper referral for rehab. Because she broke her arm out of country, she needs to follow procedure to get into the BC system. Which means a BC Orthopod has to give her busted wing the once over before she can get any physio. No matter our health insurance is paid up to date, and we’ve got cover coming out of her ears, the niceties must be observed. It’s a pain, but it’s slack season as far as work is concerned, so it’s not like we’re having to juggle two dozen other items at the same time. Just a case of hurry up and wait. So long as we can make our conference next week, we can easily shift arrangements. There’s also a little road trip dahn sarf to see how the folks across the border are faring and take a pootle along the Oregon and Washington scenic coastlines.

As for the Greek business, our investments aren’t going to be hit as we’ve no real exposure in the affected markets. The whole schemozzle, at least from this side of the pond and the FT’s pages, looks like it’s devolved into some kind of bizarre economic winking contest. No-one is actually dumb enough to take the last support from under their respective houses of cards, but it does look like the financial penny is dropping regarding the Euro. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ top down financial philosophy is showing a pair of Achilles heels which anyone with any real financial acumen could see a mile off. Real life economies are subject to the financial whims of populaces, politicians, banks and corporations, which tend, at least in Europe, to be a bit more locally focussed. The financial systems of the USA evolved from a roughly common culture with the same basic language. Europe can’t be like the USA, no matter how much the federalists would like it to be, because Europe doesn’t have the basis of that roughly common culture. It’s too, well, Balkan if you catch my drift. Not literally, but kind of. While the Common Market wasn’t a bad idea as far as promoting free trade was concerned, trying to shoehorn all the splendid diversities of mainland Europe into a centrally governed Federal republic was always a step too far. Various empire builders have had a go by assimilation and even military invasion, but in the end the locals always end up having their say.

And the centralisers wanted to bring Turkey and the Ukraine into their hegemony? Oh dearie me. Soo not a good idea.

What else? Various mini sagas over property etcetera grumble on. As far as that’s concerned I’m just biding my time. New neighbours downstairs. Some sociable, others not so much. Landlady is looking after a yappy little Yorkshire Terrier with a habit of shitting on doorsteps. Which can make walking through the back yard a very eyes down affair. Its owners will return next week, so by the time we come back from our conference and road trip, the little bastard will be gone. You can’t even make friends with the territorial little sod, it just runs away and yaps at you, as it it were his territory alone. Then when you turn away, tries to sneak after your ankles.

In my more evil moments, most of them between waking up and going to bed, I’m minded to remember a small rural adventure from my younger days regarding stupid dogs that have no off switch; a mate was shagging his girlfriend. Both of them a little shy of their sixteenth birthday, but this was in the 70’s and everyone involved but me is no longer around. No injury, no foul – right Officer? In the way of hormonally charged youth everywhere, he begged me as his best friend to keep his intrusive twelve year old brother out of the way. In my youthful lack of judgement I agreed, providing we could go rough shooting the following day with his Dads then-legal pump action shotgun. The lovers arranged their horizontal jogging, I baby sat younger brother downstairs and out of the lovers tryst. His and her lust was satisfied and all was well. Up until we were exiting the house. As we did, next doors Jack Russell broached the fence and began having a go at my friends ankles as we made our way out of said girlfriends back garden gate (That is not a euphemism BTW). I still have to work hard not to collapse in fits of giggles as I recall the rapidly dopplering ‘Yap-yap-yap-yap-yeellpppp!’ as my friend perfectly drop kicked the noisy little tyke back over the garden fence to where it belonged.

The temptation to do likewise to Landladies friends’ Yorkie is sometimes quite hard to resist.

Things that go bump in the night

Stuff that goes bump….Wake you up. In my case wide awake and on my feet and swearing before my brain has twitched a single dendrite. It’s a hell of a way to reset the old jet lag. Not that these things scare me, they’re just annoying and bring Spike Milligan‘s little epigram bounding gleefully into my forebrain.

Things that go bump in the night,
Should not really give one a fright,
It’s the hole in each ear that lets in the fear,
That and the absence of light.

Half past five local time, with my body clock not so much ticking as going ecky-ecky-twang-tock-boing-cuckoo there was a godalmighty thump as the wardrobe rail collapsed in the closet. Clothing all over the place and my Fender Strat, still in it’s gig bag, may need tuning. No other damage apart from to my sense of personal equanimity.

First the toilet starts leaking like a aged dog with incontinence, now this. Mrs S has to go see the quack to let him know she’s broken her arm. Polish Landlady peep will be informed (“The apartments attacking us! Make it stop!”) and hopefully problem will get fixed in double jig time. In the meantime we’re short on closet space, and haven’t got much to go on (Old joke alert).

Oh yes, WordPress have been up to their usual tricks, altering the link text editor function so you can no longer put in the text you want to describe a link. Even in plain HTML. WordPress! STOP FIXING THINGS THAT AIN’T BROKE! It’s very irritating.

Next thing you know there’ll be a self censorship function buried in the text editor which will really piss me off. Write anything even vaguely swearwordish, and no doubt a little window will pop up, ‘correcting’ the text and admonishing the blogger for ‘WrongThink’. In which case I’ll be looking for someone to ‘SwearBlog’ at. And I have a line in Anglo Saxon invective that can strip paint. After that, the prissy little mealy mouths will no doubt take this blog offline for being ‘offensive’. God damn their spavined little souls to the depths of Hades. Bloggers are an indirect source of advertising revenue for WordPress. My advice to WordPress is this; do not piss on the fire that heats your home or the traffic that pays your rent will dry up as people switch blog platforms.

For the record; no one in their right mind likes the silly ‘Beep,beep, boop’ post editor. Now I will be digging out my old HTML5 textbooks and writing the code from scratch, like I used to.

That’s interesting

A quick pre-flight shopping jaunt out to get Mrs S a new iPad cover for our trip to gay paree. We doglegged onto the Patricia Bay Highway and saw something I personally haven’t witnessed since November 1982. A full on convoy of Hells Angels (Not imitations, the real deal – I’d know that patch anywhere) with Police both local and RCMP up and down the road trailing about twenty six, maybe as many as thirty Harleys riding in a highly disciplined two line pack, swinging down the off ramp that leads to Highway One northbound.

I almost had an attack of nostalgia on the spot.

Same old same old

Every day it seems we are promised climate disaster as unthinkingly regurgitated by the lamestream media. Yet here we are at yet another ‘Earth’ day, the continually predicted disasters and inconveniences supposedly attributable to humanity’s annoying habit of breathing out carbon dioxide still absent. No real sea level rise, only the slow increase of temperatures as Earth gently warms out of the Little Ice Age. Although a lot of this warming isn’t certain, as temperature measurement ‘error bars’ are 0.8 of a degree centigrade (Celsius, whatever, it’s an SI unit) and the temperature ‘rise’ over the past century is maybe a degree or so centigrade. Do the math, as they say over here. A degree is only 25% or a quarter of the potential error in temperature measurement. So the actual temperature ‘increase’ could be as much as 1.8 degrees, or as little as 0.2 degrees. Depending upon who read the thermometer and how carefully they did it. We’re talking about temperature monitoring from the early 1900’s and before, which is not as ‘accurate’ as today’s digital thermometers. Not so scary now, huh?

The one thing that constantly amazes me about this whole ‘climate change’ thing is how flimsy the ‘evidence’ has been for all the decades of pantie bunched hand waving. Yes the temperature is gently rising. Has been for over a hundred years. So what? Quite frankly I think the whole hysterical “You’re all gonna die horribly” panicmongering of ‘Earth’ day is coming from people who should stop worrying everyone to death, and go out and get lives. Maybe actually do something useful for a change. Help the disabled. Volunteer to get their hands dirty for a change.

Viewed objectively, the current overall climate of the Earth is unusually benign at this point in time. Sure there are tropical storms hitting Australia, but that’s nothing new. 60mph winds aren’t that extreme. We regularly get windstorms around the island of that intensity. Tornadoes in the midwest? Meh, nothing unusual. Fewer Hurricanes than 1997, certainly. When was the last big one to make serious landfall? Sandy in 2012? Yeah, but wasn’t that only rated as a Tropical Storm when it hit New Jersey? Not even a ‘hundred year storm’.

What is certain is that there will be storms in future, like there have been in the past. The sun will shine. The rain will fall. Californians and other short sighted fools will neglect or even dismantle their water infrastructure and then whine when the water companies can’t keep their golf courses green enough. Then they’ll blame it all on some poor dude who needed to drive their car to work. Which is as irrational as it gets. But then that’s the whole ‘Green’ mentality for you. Irrational.

Oh yeah. I see that Greensleaze have their old rustbucket the MV Esperanza tied up at Ogden Point downtown. Man, that vessel needs a decent paint job. Considering how much money said organisation has sloshing around in their coffers they can surely afford to have it dry docked and given a serious refit. Or maybe just sink it as a marine ‘reef’ to encourage sea life. Improve the fishing. Now that would be really useful.

My fellow pedestrians……

My fellow Pedestrians, thank you for sharing your time with me tonight.

The subjects I want to discuss with you, peace and footwear, are both timely and important. Timely, because I’ve reached a decision which offers a new hope. And important because there’s a very big decision that you must make for yourselves. This subject involves the most basic duty that any pedestrian or road user must share.

Tonight, I want to explain to you what this debate is all about and why I’m convinced that the measures submitted are necessary, responsible, and deserving of your support. And I want to offer hope for the future.

But first, let me say what the debate is not about. It is not about rights of way. I know that in the last few years you’ve been bombarded with calls for more restrictions and traffic signals. The trouble with all these measures is that they tell us little about the kind of options pedestrians and road users need or the benefits and security and freedom that a mutual effort will buy for us.

What seems to have been lost in all this debate is the simple truth of how sticking to rigid principles is not the best way forward. It isn’t done by deciding to simply say that those on foot take precedence before all others. Those loud voices that are occasionally heard charging that Government should solve problems by throwing money at them are nothing more than noise based on ignorance. We start by considering what must be done to maintain safety for all against possible threats to personal security. Then a strategy for strengthening safe passage for all must be agreed upon. And, finally, our on foot strategies must be evaluated to see what is necessary to protect against all the threats we pedestrians can and do face in our daily round. The cost of achieving these ends is minimal, and may be attained by engaging brains, not the public purse.

The road safety policy of British Columbia is based on a simple premise: No-one should start fights. We should never be an aggressor nor victim. We must maintain our attention spans in order to deter and defend against being run over or punched in the mouth – therefore to save unnecessary burdens on our health services and dentists bills.

Since the dawn of the road, we’ve sought to reduce the risk of collision by paying attention and by keeping to the sidewalk. “Attention” means simply this: making sure anyone who thinks they can just barge thoughtlessly about concludes that the risks to them outweigh any potential gain. Once they understand that, they’ll get home uninjured. We maintain the right of way through our strengths; entitlement, rudeness and distraction only invite a smack round the ear or free flying lesson off the sea wall. By engaging good manners and not dithering when crossing the road we make life simpler for others, reducing personal friction and preventing conflict. This strategy of safety has not changed. It still works. But what it takes to maintain our safety has changed. It took one kind of attitude to prevent getting flattened when we had far more space than any other province; it takes another kind now that the drivers, for example, have more distractions. Now, this is not to say that car users are planning to run us down. Nor do I believe accidents are inevitable – quite the contrary. But what must be recognized is that our safety is based on being prepared to meet all challenges.

There was a time when we depended on crossings and certain right of way conventions, because, with the society of that day, any conflict would have arisen by jaywalking. Well, this is a different world, and our reactions must be based on recognition and awareness of the distractions possessed by other road users in this unclear age. We can’t afford to believe that we can fixate on our cellphones without looking where we are going, or that others will automatically give way because you, and only you, believe that you have the right of way. There are daily road casualties because of the mistaken belief that pedestrians, no matter what they are doing, or how slowly they want to move are immune from being knocked over. We must do what we can to avoid being turned into bloody smears. But if distracted by that funny Lolcats post, or who has been saying what to whom on twitter we become ill-prepared to cross the road. Had we been better prepared, our bodies might have been better protected.

During the past thirty years, the character of traffic has changed – changed in a way that concerns us all. For years vehicles have been improving with better brakes and safety features, but this will not help you when the Mark Twelve Supersport Supercar you step in front of is being driven by a Mark One complete moron. They won’t stop their vehicles if both of you are checking out the hot chick (or guy, or cake, let’s not be judgemental) on Whatsapp. Now rules alone can be neither our defence or guarantor of safety. We must become more aware. Ready to give way and sidestep. To look left and right, if necessary, an I know how painful some of you might find this, to make and hold eye contact.

The introduction of small traffic islands has proven a challenge to many Canadian drivers, more so than their misunderstanding of how a 4-way junction works, and my fellow pedestrians failure to give them even the slightest courtesy or recognition. Far too many still step straight onto a crosswalk without consideration, or even recognise that there is someone else sharing that road space while they are taking that oh so important cell phone call about what theirr friend said about her friend’s puppy at that critical family visit, no, not that one, the one where your uncle said something inane that everyone else was up in arms about but is soo crucial that no one can remember what it was, that’s why I’m calling – thud! Then there are the Entitled cyclists who have right of way over everyone, no really they do, because anyone who gets closer than ten feet is automatically a Fascist, to be abused and gesticulated at in as threatening a manner as they can get away with. Because they are cyclists and are superior to everyone else on the road. So there.

These thumbnail sketches can only tell a small part of the story. l wish I could show you more without compromising our most sensitive sources and pictures of off duty Policemen laughing themselves senseless. But these are not images which will add to the debate. Indeed they simply serve to cloud the issue and detract from the fact that so many road users are slow, entitled and possibly even brain dead.

Some people may ask: Would waking up and showing a little courtesy to others lessen the casualty rate and lower blood pressure across the province and even Canada, perhaps even the world itself? Well, again, can we afford to believe it wouldn’t? Simply throwing our individual weight around like a wet towel at all and sundry to demonstrate our ‘rights’ has conclusively been shown not to be the answer. For too long the will of the entitled has driven how we behave towards each other and in so doing has been used to intimidate. This state of affairs must now end.

When I arrived here in 2007, I was appalled by what I found: Pedestrians that wouldn’t look before and while crossing busy junctions, simply stepping out into the middle of busy streets without the merest glance at what was coming toward them. The inevitable result of all this was poor safety, casualties and increased Emergency Services overtime spent picking bits of spare human off the asphalt before the Bears and Raccoons got to them.

There was a real question then about how well we could meet a crisis. And it is still obvious that we have to begin a major mental readjustment to ensure lower health service bills and reduce the pain and suffering to insurers. Notwithstanding of the mental trauma caused to those who witness what mayhem is wrought by inattention.

We have to move immediately to improve the basic alertness and simple businesslike functioning of our roads and sidewalks, so they can meet – and therefore help deter – a crisis. We have to make up for lost years of entitlement by moving forward with a long-term plan to ensure our people are looking where the fuck they are going at all times.

The solution is well within our grasp. But to reach it, there is simply no alternative but to continue this year, to engage the personal resources we need to preserve our safety and guarantee our freedom.

Now, thus far tonight I’ve shared with you my thoughts on the problems of road safety we must face together. Others have appeared before you on other occasions to describe the threat posed by other road users and have proposed steps to address that threat. But since the advent of increased traffic, acting like you own the bloody road has been increasingly just that; bloody.

Over the course of my observations, I’ve become more and more deeply convinced that the human spirit must be capable of rising above dealing with other road users by threatening their existence. Feeling this way, l believe we must thoroughly examine every opportunity for reducing tensions and for introducing greater stability into the strategic calculus on all sides.

One of the most important contributions we can make is, of course, to pay fucking attention you bozo, and particularly on foot. We should engaged all the time in constant negotiations other road users to bring about a mutual improvement in safety.

After careful consultation with my advisers, I believe there is a way. Let me share with you a vision of the future which offers hope. It is that we embark on a program to counter the awesome threat of the stupid and entitled with measures that are defensive. Let us turn to the very strengths in technology that spawned our great society and that have given us the quality of life we enjoy today.

My fellow Pedestrians, tonight we’re launching an effort which holds the promise of changing the course of human history. There will be risks, and results take time. But I believe we can do it. As we cross this threshold, l ask for your prayers and your support.

Thank you, good night, and God bless you.

Pain

Canadians, without making too much of a broad sweeping generalisation, aren’t used to manual gearboxes or clutch operation. Over here, motoring tends to be of the point and click variety. Most vehicles sold are automatics. Even our little Subaru is one of those half breed four speed gearboxes. We’ve had a 4×4 with a manual box, but that was 1970’s vintage. Nowadays if you pointed most North Americans at a vehicle with a proper clutch and gearbox, they’d look at you as if you were asking them to operate a nuclear power plant. Most cars over here have Column shifts or centre console gear levers that only get shifted out of gear to go straight to ‘park’. It makes for lazy driving.

Today this was brought home to me when we pulled up alongside what looked like a Yamaha YZF-R6. Nobody was going anywhere fast as the speed limit varies between 40-60 Km/h on that section of Hillside Avenue.

Yet what had me wincing was the guy on the Yam totally failing to change gear. It was awful. Whilst the rider could stay upright and seemed to have the hang of gentle cornering, he hadn’t quite grasped the correct coordination of left hand and foot. He pulled away from the lights in second gear, he accelerated from 0-60km/h in second, did he change up or down a notch to third gear or down to first? No. He seemed not to have mastered the concept of a non-automatic gear box. It was actually painful to hear, even when we had all the car windows shut. I’ve had more fun having my teeth drilled. God alone knows what it was doing to the engine.

If there were a BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Motorcycles I’d have reported him on the spot.

Great bacon

Friday I was out doing the weekly shop and dropped in at one of our specialist local food stores. It’s one of my favourite stores for one particular reason. They do properly double smoked and cured bacon. It is, in my humble opinion, the best I have ever come across, ever. Seriously dry cured. Perfectly pink muscle, dense, solid white fat, not soaking wet stringy stuff like the crap advertised as bacon (horrified shudder) in many local supermarkets. This is the bacon that poets praise, exquisitely cured pork that would tempt the very gods down from Olympus. Fried or grilled (yeah, yeah, broiled, whatever), this store makes bacon as God himself intended. No white gunky residue after cooking, just a spoonful of mildly salty white fat splendid for frying eggs, adding richness to sweated onions and many other simple culinary miracles. I buy just over a pound a week.

The only glitch in my day was caused by a Deli counter assistant, having been asked for my usual ration, arbitrarily decided to cut a chunk of fat off the ends of said precious rashers. I immediately objected. That fat not only aids the cooking process, but gives flavour and body to the meat. At the time I was feeling pretty relaxed or I would have treated said staff member to a terse treatise of “My dietary fat intake is not your business.” Fortunately the counter assistant stopped, backtracked and apologised for her error. All ended in smiles and “Have a great day.”

The only thing that bothered me about this almost insignificant incident is why, having made my choice of product, given my instruction as to exactly what I wanted, did the assistant then arbitrarily decide to trim off the valuable and very tasty fat? Who tells shop assistants it’s okay to do this stuff? Who you can and can’t sell what to? What happened to “The customer is always right”? Why is only bacon and red meat subjected to this retail tyranny? Why are chocolate or all those other, far richer sources of dietary fat not subject to the same strictures? Say when I buy a bar of Belgium’s finest, does the checkout person feel the need to break off half and throw it away? Or open my bag of crisps and throw half of it in the bin? No. So why remove that which adds so much flavour?

Answers please in a plain, unsalted, lint-free, fat-free, low-calorie, flavour-exempt brown wrapper.

Update: This is what I mean by bacon.
Dry cured streaky bacon

Where there’s a Will

– There’s a Lawyer. Busy at present with legal forms and functions which all need notarising and registering. Taking care that no-one outside of our chain of command gets a look in. I’ve also drafted a Will for the first time in my life. Which feels strange.

On the domestic front Mrs S has been away on family business, as have I, and there’s been little I’ve felt like posting about. I got home a couple of days before her and have been idling a little before the next project hits the fan.

In the big wide world I see a scary disease which melts yer innards has taken over the headlines from scary people who like murdering people the hard way in the name of their god. Well it is coming up to Halloween. God says these ISIL / ISIS wankers are nothing to do with him. He’s not a fan of organised religion anyway. You should hear him when he talks about the Papacy. Not a happy deity.

The price of gas (petrol) locally has dropped over twenty cents a litre and oil prices are heading through the floor because the Saudis have upped production. Which is good for some people, not so good for others. Economic bubbles are going ‘pop’ and the apocalypse is upon us. Are you saved, brothers and sisters? What again? That’s the second time this week. You rapture if you want to, but leave me out of it. Hi ho. Same shit, different day. Ebola? I recommend washing your hands and observing a reasonable standard of hygiene. Oh yes, and not going to Middle Eastern war zones. They’re a funny bunch. A bit touchy if you know what I mean.

For my own part, the only recent oddity in my life has been a resurgence of appetite. Take the day before yesterday; Just finished work for the day and I had, not merely a half formed hankering or vague sense of peckishness, but a full fledged neolithic rage for a steak. Real red meat. Nothing else would do. So I skipped off to the local store, spent the princely sum of eleven bucks on a reasonable piece of cow flesh and took it home to fire up the grill. Shortly thereafter said slab (Big enough to cover my entire hand and over a thumbs width thick) was consumed with gusto and Dijon mustard. After gorging myself, I emulated sated carnivores the world over, parked myself in a place of comfort and safety (The couch) and unlike any other kind of sated carnivore settled back to watch YouTube vids on our big screen. I felt positively sybaritic.

Sorry to hear of Ranty’s confession. My only comment is this; if any bloggers experienced a ‘normal’ childhood, we wouldn’t be the wonderfully awkward sods we are. We’ve risen above the shit that was done to us and survived. Some more than others, but that should be a badge of honour in the great and not so great battles of life.