Tag Archives: Observations

That Brexit business

I’ve been reading some interesting history about the causes of the American Civil war recently, with more in depth contemporary sources from both sides of the Atlantic. Civil war Bill? Isn’t this post title about the UK leaving the EU? Okay, bear with me. All will become crystal in due course.

Now the US Civil War was fought over slavery, right? That’s what we’re taught in school. Erm… wrong! It began because of taxation. Ever hear of a thing called the Morrill Tariff? Those guys in Fort Sumter that got fired upon, kicking the whole thing off? Tax collectors, there to ensure the collection of said Washington imposed Tariff, which hiked internal Federal import duties for the Southern states from 20 to 47%. Yikes! Much to the annoyance of the Southern states and also the British, who were a major trading partner at the time.

Journalist and anti-slavery campaigner Charles Dickens (Yes, that Charles Dickens) wrote a number of scathing articles criticising the imposition of this tariff increase by the US Federal Government. Which of course went down like a lead balloon with our cousins in the north-eastern USA after they’d feted him in a grand tour. Myth, is it? Don’t think so.

As an aside, I’d never really realised what a nasty piece of work old Abraham Lincoln was. He actually gave orders to instigate the war. Other secret orders followed; orders for executions of civilians. A bizarre mass execution of 38 Minnesota Indians. Carte blanche for rampaging troops to burn and pillage. He wasn’t a lover of non-whites either, preferring to ship them back to Africa and suchlike after the war. Slaves might be freed by the Civil War, but they were definitely unwanted by the North.

As a history buff, I’m often amused by the way people keep on trying the same old games with highly similar results. History never exactly repeats itself, but you don’t have to be a towering intellect to understand that applying the same old answers to the same old questions always ends in tears. So, I’m given to think, will be the results of the breakup of the EU.

Now here’s a scenario. Say the ‘leave’ contingent of the electorate get their way and there is a massive vote to ditch the bureaucratic monstrosity that the EU has become. The UK begins the process of leaving, to which the EU’s response is a demand for a massive ‘penalty’ payment. To which the UK, quite rightly and like the Southern states did in 1861, says “F**k *ff”. The EU then imposes punitive tariffs on exports to the UK, and for a couple of months the Brits can’t get parts for their Fiats, Peugeots, Mercedes or BMW’s for love nor money, and they have to import their wine from Chile and Argentina. Amongst other things. Until said tariffs are circumvented by the simple expedient of shifting the paper trail of European imports via Norway. Norway’s economy booms with this new trade route, much to the chagrin of the Brussels bureaucrats.
Brexit
Unless of course Brexit is the first step in other major contributing countries deciding that the EU is more trouble than it’s worth. France for one. Some of the old Warsaw pact states and of course bankrupt Greece. The whole project could fold if Germany decides it’s not going to keep the whole shebang going on its own. Which would present challenges, but also many opportunities. As well as being one in the eye for those who think that Government always knows best (It doesn’t). Who will not like it, not one little bit, and will take measures of all sorts to make life difficult for countries who want out. Up to and including bullets and bombs. A close study of history teaches us that this is so.

As for slavery? In the mid 1850’s it was an institution that was on its way out, at least in the West. Allegedly.

Now I’m fully behind the idea of the UK leaving the EU, which was sold as a free trade area, but has turned into a massive greedy bureaucratic leech. One that is bloated, well past it’s sell-by date and needs a good rinse and spin to shrink it down to size. Unfortunately, too many useless mouths have got, in the words of my forbears “Too damn cosy with other people’s money.” But they will fight tooth and nail to maintain their lives of privilege and air conditioned offices. In their eyes ‘Brexit’ is a major threat which may require force. Rather like the US Civil War.

My final word on the topic (for a given value of ‘final’) Leave, but be prepared for a fight. Just in case.

Downtown again

Afternoon, downtown Victoria having recently returned from the USA. The population of ‘street people’ a.k.a. beggars appears to have more than doubled since I last meandered around Fort, Douglas and Government Streets. Might be just a seasonal thing, might be to do with the increase from the homeless encampment back of the court buildings. I’ve got to the stage where I just tune all the begging out and carry on with where I’m going. Same for those raising petitions for ‘Transgender rights’ and suchlike. Frankly you couldn’t pay me to care. I’d probably raise an eyebrow if a person in a dress stood next to me in a public toilet to use the boys urinals, but so long as they keep themselves to themselves I’m not bothered. I’ve spent too much time in Paris and elsewhere to be fazed by such weirdness. Although if I still had small children, my reaction might be a leetle bit more defensive.

However, closer to the camp, Victoria’s usually moribund crime rate has rocketed 46% with all sorts off bad manners. For example; while having coffee yesterday, I observed more than the usual number of uniformed officers on foot. Not in a hurry, just walking purposefully as if they were on the lookout for somebody or something. Which piqued my curiosity. My reasoning is thus; if the local coppers are, then some kind of game is afoot.

I’ve also noted new security measures going up all around downtown in a subdued, very Victorian manner. New railings and barriers in car parks etcetera. I mean the crusties are not a real problem for those who used to people being less than well behaved, but for others who have a fit of the vapours and call 911 on the silliest of pretexts…. Well, perhaps that’s another story.

As for the camp itself, the hearing over its existence has been put back to September, something which a lot of people are not terribly enchanted about. Me, I think the whole issue is borderline out of control since well-meaning, but totally witless, people authorised the provision of plumbing and flush toilets instead of simply kicking out the less desirable elements and providing homeless shelter spaces for those in real need. Which act has made it more comfortable for the less than law-abiding and left local residents with an escalating crime problem. See the comment from ‘Wafflesdemonslayer’ on this thread. I’ll lay odds that’s not the only story of this nature.

At present Mrs S and I are contemplating a move away from Victoria itself. Working online as we do, we don’t need to be this close to downtown as the rents are too high and there’s not enough quality entertainment there to keep us coming back. On the other hand, if increasing crime sends over inflated property and rental prices spiralling downwards, I might be willing to buy in and campaign hard for the nuisance to be removed. On the other hand, knowing how wringing wet some vociferous people are around here, I’d probably be backing a losing horse.

Just as a fantasy exercise; I wonder what would happen if someone with real money wanted the crusties gone? Say they hired four dozen private security guys from off island to wash the camp off the map in the small hours of the night with fire hoses. The local hipsters get plausible deniability and the opportunity to virtue signal frantically about how horrible someone must be to be so mean to all these poor people. The less desirables get a serious eviction message and the crime rate takes a nosedive. But I don’t think anyone round here is really that ruthless. Not that I’m advocating anything of that nature, but it’s a thought.

A more palatable alternative might be to get the local cops to strictly enforce existing bylaws forbidding booze and other intoxicants from being consumed in BC’s public parks and confiscating any containers found. Back it up by threatening the liquor licences of stores who knowingly supply the camp. As it is in a public space, a tent there is not covered by legal restrictions on searches, so, no need for warrants. Sure it’s harassment, but the camp itself is already a source of harassment for local residents. Not that some seem to be interested. They’re more interested in painting the crosswalks.

Heavy sigh. We’ll see what this years tourist season brings.

Science doubleplusungood

Grain of salt not guilty verdictIn between donating stuff to the Salvation Army Thrift store today I was amiably sifting through the news and found cause for hope in this world. As an aside; it always gives me a smile when activist propagandised ‘health’ advice gets a well deserved kick up the arse.

Today a study has surfaced about that big bad bugaboo of the illness establishment, salt. Good old Sodium Chloride, that essential nutrient which now seems to be rather good for you as part of a balanced diet. A study some establishment voices are decrying loudly with “Foul! Ref!”.

Which those of us with a slightly better than average working knowledge of the human frame have been saying all along. While the illness establishment and its well funded activists have been saying; “No, no, salt is bad, really bad. Don’t use it! You’ll die horribly, your legs will drop off, erm, er, next Tuesday week unless you cut back to under five grammes a day!” All the time ignoring the harmful effects of too little salt in the diet (Hyponatremia).

For the final time; over five grammes of good old NaCl a day is only bad for you, as the hand waving activists maintain, if you already have a dodgy heart, liver or kidneys and high blood pressure. The healthy human body can easily cope with more and is surprisingly resilient, as well as coming in a wide range of shapes and sizes with differing dietary tolerances. What the hand wavers and professional political advocates cannot understand is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to anything. If there were, then we wouldn’t need all these clothing and shoe stores for one. Which would give lots of non-males out there nothing to do at the weekend (Dis-aster dwarlings). The retail and distribution sectors would collapse, resulting in massive unemployment and penury, and there would be a lot of shopaholics in dire need of psychological therapy. Yes, and poor Sophie Kinsella wouldn’t have a career, you uncaring bastards.

Me, I tend to treat these media ‘science’ alarums and diversions with the contempt they so richly deserve. For example; if people knew that potatoes belonged to the Deadly Nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants, along with Eggplant and Tomatoes, would they be so keen on tucking into an extra portion of fries with tomato on the side? Or what about Broccoli and all those other ‘healthy’ vegetables? Mm-mm, taste that gorgeous Sulforaphane. Which is one of Broccoli’s defence mechanisms. Even if in the right doses it (As part of a prescribed course of therapy) can be used to treat cancer. Those doses must be relatively small. Concentrated, this chemical is very nasty indeed. So maybe it’s not a good idea to have that daily broccoli smoothie. To quote Paracelsus “The poison is in the dose.” A little is fine, a lot, not so much.

As regards vegetables, I would like to remind my last remaining reader that they are plants. One thing you should know about plants. All plants have some sort of defence mechanism against predators (Grazing animals with specialised digestive systems), either mechanical (Thorns) or chemical (Toxins). Which is why a vegan diet will not protect anyone from cancer or heart disease. There is even a distinct possibility that exclusively eating vegetable matter may in fact have deleterious long term effects on the human anatomy and contribute to an increased cancer and heart disease risk. Anecdotally speaking I’ve come across a few real life vegans, and frankly they never inspired confidence in their way of life. One insipid little guy had the temerity to stand over me while I was eating a well earned home made beef stew, calling my meal ‘dog meat’. I’m told he died over fifteen years ago. I reiterate. The human frame thrives best on a mixed diet. Proteins, animal fats, vitamins and minerals (and we don’t digest chlorophyll very well). Something, in their naive quest for a single solution to the world’s ills, the hand wavers conveniently ignore. What is good for a rural Inuit (Adapted over generations to a high protein, high fat diet) will not be good for an Urban Southern European, and so forth.

Which leads me to think that if the hand wavers had their way, we’d all live in identical houses on identical streets wearing identical robe type clothes and eating nothing but low salt, low fat gruel and dying when we’re jolly well told to before our pensions kick in. Apart from them, because they’re so superior and well, better from the rest of us aren’t they? Apart from being consistently wrong. About everything. All the time.

What the hand wavers also don’t seem to get is that most of us are grown ups quite able to make our own choices. Given accurate and timely information. Which their fad-driven factoids so often aren’t. Which so many ‘journalists’ nowadays seem not to fact check out of all the activists’ doom laden press releases. Well, most mainstream ‘news’ outlets sell drama more than real news.

The actual problem I feel, has deep roots in Academia, where in order to get a grant for research, a given academic must please the bureaucracy who hold the research fund purse strings. The bureaucrats in turn must please their political masters, who dole out the bigger funds according to their own (often ossified and underdeveloped) belief system. With the effect that everyone has to do what they’re told or the grant money dries up like rain on hot rock. The word is; toe the party line or starve.

Not unsurprisingly, many academics choose the easy option, just so that they can focus on their proper research while nobody’s looking. This isn’t always the case, but at present there’s far too much “Find the results we want” ‘science’ like with climate modelling. Models have their place, like providing a basis for prototyping, but they do need to mirror reality to be truly useful. Which climate models so far have not. Same with diet, there are way too many stray dogmas which need euthanising. Veganism for one.

Unfortunately, the politics surrounding certain areas of research is stunting real scientific investigation. At least within the University system. Politicians and their globalist mentors want to extend their power so they fund activist groups to lobby themselves and spread their version of what is ‘right’. Which is a bit of a con-job and no mistake. Then under ‘advice’ from said activist groups advice, they (directly and indirectly) influence bureaucrats and researchers looking for a meal ticket, funding by giving both activist and bureaucrats cushy little sinecures on policy influencing Non-Governmental Organisations from which dissenting views are often excluded. Maybe that’s a model that needs changing.

Blood and sand!

I just checked my odometer on our faithful little SUV and got a bit of a shock. Since we began what I’m still minded to think of as our ‘little adventure’, the reading has gone from 71418 to 87974 Kilometres. Which means we’ve driven 16,556 Kilometres in the last six weeks. A shade over 10,000 (ten thousand) miles. About two fifths of the way around the Earth. The equivalent of driving from Victoria BC to Victoria in jolly old Londinium, UK, and back with miles to spare. Even if you could drive in a straight line without getting very damp crossing the Atlantic. We’ve driven well over the distance to Victoria Australia for heavens sake! My Guinness! I haven’t done that sort of mileage since my road warrior days back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Or even when I was working my way through college driving a van in the 1980’s, clocking up close to 50,000 personal miles in one year. Blood and sand! As I am often heard to expostulate.

The only mechanical issue encountered was a blowout of the rear drivers side tyre on the road between Amarillo, Texas and San Antonio. Which says a lot for our car. It has lugged us and our baggage all the way without missing a beat. However, for the moment I think our brave little Subaru has earned a rest and a thorough service for its travails. So it’s back to shopping and errands, with the odd commute on the side.

Anyway, what have I learned during our journey? Well actually quite a bit, but perhaps not quite so much as some would think. Then again, possibly more than I can enumerate at present as my brain is currently still processing all the sights, sounds and experiences of the last 42 (forty two) days, drip feeding them into long term memory and hard coding everything into my consciousness for easy retrieval. Normally I’m quite good at replaying the videotape of my memories back to myself, but the vastness of landscape and enormity of distance have left my subconscious running around in panic mode trying to file it all properly. I’ll have to refer to the thousand or so pictures we took to refresh my memory, just so I can bore people to tears with tall tales of derring don’t.

Mrs S remarked that her own brain is still a little overwhelmed because whilst the body may move at over sixty miles an hour, the brain follows at a more pedestrian pace. It’s small wonder we haven’t, metaphysically speaking, collided with ourselves on the way back. I may have to practice standing very still for the next couple of days while I catch up with myself.

The rest of the world will have to wait.

The end is nigh

Well actually it’s here. The long trip is over and we’re safe home to a leaky toilet and thoughts of moving to a less plumbing troubled apartment. Yesterday we crossed the border back into Canada and reached home. We are taking a huge tranche of memories and experiences, some of which I will be sharing with my last remaining reader as I shoehorn the relevant memories into some semblance of order. We’ve taken over a thousand pictures, some of which are actually in focus, a select few of which will be cropped, resized and posted on this blog, possibly with amusing captions and text.

One of the reasons I haven’t posted so much about our trip is simple; we’ve been too busy doing to write about it, and there’s been at least an hour a day when my brain’s been too overwhelmed to put everything down in a half way cogent fashion.

This content will not be appearing on Facebook. First because I’ve tried to shut my Facebook account down several times. Yes, I followed all the tips and hints religiously, but still the wretched thing has been resurrected so many times you’d think it had been buried in a Yo-yo. Second because I now do all my picture and video sharing with family and friends on Instagram. As our kids have migrated away from Facebook, so have we. Third because Facebook censors stuff it’s employees don’t like. It’s politically censorious because that was always part of its design. Which will eventually be the death of the site. Remember Friends reunited? Yes? No? Don’t care? That was big. Once upon a time. No doubt Facebook will follow as people tire of getting those annoying little ‘Your content has been removed’ notices. Tout passe, tout lasse, tout casse, et tout se remplace. I don’t care how many ’emotional speeches’ people make about their personal lives. You’d think they were the only people who’d ever suffered troubled times. Newsflash! Been there, done that. Not impressed with all the public caterwauling.

Any old road up, of which we have encountered many, I’ve got two major projects for this Summer. One is work related, but the other is to go through all the photo’s we took and spend a little time documenting our trip properly with all the events and anecdotes associated with our journey. From underwhelming hotel accommodation and nice surprises to random stuff like finding ‘white power’ visiting cards under our windscreen wiper one merry May morning. Which amused me, but also brought forth the snippet that there was an active community of such people in Boise. The noisy sort who hold marches and suchlike. We missed them all while we were there. They must have been taking the day off is all I can say.

Talking of taking the day off, I’ve just been looking for volunteer opportunities locally to help victims of the Fort McMurray fire. To which I must report I found none in Victoria. At least not online. There are plenty for Syrian refugees, SPCA, Eating Disorders, Invasive Plant Species, Farmers Markets, but none for sending supplies to the afflicted in Alberta. Maybe I’m just too late and all the fuss is over? Or is the well known BC prejudice against Oil Sands production making itself felt yet again? Hmm.

The big potato

That was a bit of a hike across from West Yellowstone to Boise. Across miles of hills, volcanic left overs (I can honestly report that I have been to see the Craters of the Moon) and potato fields. Miles and bloody miles of nothing but potato fields interspersed with the odd ranch. Well, this road trip is an exploration, and what we found in Idaho was mile after mile of potato fields.

Yellowstone by contrast was brilliant. We saw no bears or wolves, but did come across dozens of buffalo grazing by the roadside. Parts of the park were still closed because of snow and the real risk of being attacked and even eaten by a grizzly bear. Let me explain; bears come out of hibernation in the spring, having hibernated through the coldest months, and like anyone who’s had a nice long kip, they tend to wake up very hungry. Which isn’t much fun if Mr Bear is looking out for a little smackerel of something, and today it’s your turn on the menu under ‘dish of the day’.

Notwithstanding, Mrs S and I went “ooh!” and “ah!” at all the Geysers and hot springs, saw Old Faithful spout it’s stuff, went around the visitor centre and ate hot dogs purporting to be made from Bison before wending our directionally challenged way back to our Hotel. On that topic, there was a great deal of spirited discussion about how the hell we’d missed our turning back to the park entrance, and the additional interest of watching a rescue crew go to the aid of a car that had mistaken a river gorge for the road. Then watch in amazement as an ignorant driver tried to shove a stop sign bearing park ranger aside with their vehicle while reading a cell phone screen. A word to anyone out there who texts while driving; you’re a fucking moron whose name we hope to see in the obituary columns, hopefully without taking anyone else with you. That and I hope your insurance company refuses to pay for any damage done. Having seen the antics of drivers peering at their tiny cell phone screens while driving, I’m inclined to observe that texting while driving is worse than driving under the influence of any drug. A relapsing alcoholic is a better insurance risk. A shoot on sight policy may be necessary.

One additional note from recent news reports. About this whole transgender thing and public toilets. Here’s a suggestion; let those self identifying as neither fish nor flesh nor fowl use the disabled toilets. So all those parents fretting about perverts in public loos leering at their offspring can now breathe. I’m also minded to note that those who are male to female TG’s will never truly be biologically female, no matter how good their cosmetic surgery. Their glands will always be intrinsically male, and they can’t have ovaries. Likewise the female to male. Cosmetic surgery can’t give them a functional set of testicles or shrink their Corpus Callosum (Although recent studies have called the sexual dimorphism of this brain structure into doubt). Transgenders are self-disabling, they can neither be defined as male or female, so I would posit that the disabled toilets are where these unfortunately psycho-sexually scrambled individuals belong. Wasn’t that easy? No need for new laws or anything. Besides, there are so few real TG’s proportionately speaking in the population that I’m moved to ask why the hell this is even an issue requiring legislation. Or is this a case of Social Activists making a civil rights mountain out of a molehill? As per bloody usual. I suppose it gives them something to do. Although I wish they’d take up a more socially useful pursuit like building train sets or stamp collecting.

On an associated topic, having spent time in France on more than one occasion and become used to Frances eclectic mixture of public male and female sanitary facilities, I personally am less likely to be startled when Mom suddenly appears behind me while I’m recycling my coffee because junior is afraid to go to the loo on his own. As recently happened in one restaurant facility. I was siphoning the old python and heard the clicking of female heels behind me. Glancing curiously over my shoulder I saw a woman ushering her recalcitrant and protesting little boy towards the mens cubicles. “I’ll be here.” She reassured him. I looked at her with a sympathetic grimace and she graciously apologised for the intrusion. Which was fine. Kids sometimes do have issues when out in public. All you can do is accept any apology with a polite smile and make sure your zipper or fly buttons are properly closed before moving on to the washbasin and hand drier. It’s only good manners.

Back in time

Well sort of. We’re now only an hour and six days from home base. One hour in time zones and six more days of driving around the good old US of A. National Parks and general meandering around. Yesterday in Colorado Springs however brought a nasty reminder of how things can catch you out, but also an object lesson in using available resources to sort it out.

In short, an old health problem raised its head. My back locked up. A legacy of years of weight training and generally abusing my body with physical exertion. Two muscles, specifically the Quadratus Lumborum that help stabilise the lower back took it into their fibres to spasm and seize up. Now if you know anything about this condition you will understand two things; firstly it is paralysingly, spine gratingly painful. Secondly you cannot bend or straighten, and walking is sheer torture. It’s a show stopper. Even the slightest misalignment of the back when lying or sitting is agony. A bed or chair that is too hard or soft renders you immobile, teeth clenched, and there is no painkiller short of Morphine that will make a dent in the pain. How do I describe it? Like someone has jammed a rusty crowbar in your lumbar vertebrae. Then twisted it. Attempting to move or bend is impossible. Yes, it’s that bad. I’ve suffered from periodic episodes since I was in my late twenties.

There is a trick, however, that works when painkillers or traction will not. All you need is a nice firm ball like one used to play Softball and something to roll it between you and the unlocking pressure points. This will start the ‘unlocking’ process and with a half days rest, will return you to almost full working order. Ideally you’ll need 36 hours of proper rest to let the muscles fully unwind or run the risk of recurrence.

Fortunately I am happy to report that there is an additional short cut. A Shiatsu massage chair like this one. One of those things you find in some malls and service areas. The ones that cost a couple of quid, Dollar or Twoonie to operate when they haven’t been switched off because the mall rats or someone’s messy little four year olds have been hogging them. I spent the best five dollars of my life and fifteen minutes in one yesterday. It hit all the pressure points and reduced my pain from excruciating to mild discomfort. Today I found the pain completely gone and full mobility returned. For five measly bucks. Something my UK doctor would only prescribe painkillers for. Painkillers that took forty eight hours to even begin returning me to normal, yet dulled my other senses and reduced my effectiveness. Yet a toy ball and five bucks in a massage chair did the trick, no chemicals required within twelve hours. Bloody marvellous.

Colorado Springs? Nice place. Very tidy downtown. Recently upgraded with a lot of money being spent on tidying the place up. Quite a few beggars around until the Police patrols hit the streets around 10am, then the crusties evaporate like morning dew. That was yesterday. Today we’ve been up above the snow line, letting our little Subaru strut its stuff in the fog and ice when other vehicles on their summer tyres were slip sliding away. Tonight we’re stopping over in Grand Junction, feeling relieved and quite pain free. Looking forward to the rest of our trip and also planning the next.

What day is it?

Colorado Springs and we’ve been on the road so much I’ve hardly had chance to put fingers to keyboard. We crossed the great plains yesterday, racing a big storm that looked like it was after us personally. To the south and east a huge dark core, at its heart a tornado, on the edges, long fingers of cloud clutching north and west like a dismembered hand still moving inexorably toward a victim. Ghostly grey virga curling tendrils of smoky rain drifted toward the ground from these dark grey bellied monsters. I was driving, and the illusion of parallax made it look like those grasping fingers were hungrily converging with our little tin box, hurtling across the wide rolling expanse of Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado at sixty five miles an hour. Elsewhere it was less fun for those who could not get out of the storms path. Hope their insurance is good.

We’re back in mountain time today prior to cutting across to the national parks via Bonneville salt flats and various other stops. While en route in various hotel lobbies we’re seeing a lot of news reports about the big fire up near Fort McMurray, Alberta, which had burned a lot of peoples homes to the ground and displaced a whole lot more.

There are rumours and informed speculation that the original fires were started by people. Some think careless campers, others have more darkly suggested radical environmentalists. Okay, so no human deaths to date, but for the livelihoods, property and wildlife destroyed still really bad. It’s so bad our photo-op seeking Prime Minister hasn’t put in much of an appearance. Heaven forfend he might get his glossy hairdo all messed up. Me, when we get home in a weeks time I’m off to volunteer what help I can give from the BC end instead of bleating that it’s all to do with the mythical man made climate change like some hideous little tools claim.

One parting shot; if radical environmentalists did set the original fires to shut down the oil sands production for good, then they and their sponsors (Rockefeller, Tides foundations, Sierra Club) should be made responsible for fixing all the damage done. To everyone. Hell, they’ve got the money. They could spend it on something useful for a change.

The heat is on

Or it ain’t half hot Mum. Well it was, honest. Now it’s not.

Charleston at the end of April and Mrs s and I were wilting a bit by the end of the day. We’ve been exploring history on the run up the the US Civil War, which had roots way back in the US Declaration of Independence and the compromises made to bring the plantation owning slave owners in with the rest of those rascally rebels against King George. What we’ve learned is that the actual fighting was simply the hot phase of a conflict over ‘States Rights’ which had been going on for years before a shot was fired. Oh yes, and Fort Sumter is actually a lot smaller than I’d imagined. Somehow I’d expected it to be much bigger for the focus of such a momentous event. Mrs S and I have decided that in two days we’ve barely scratched the surface and are going to grace the Palmetto City with a second visit sometime.

Chattanooga was a bit of an overnighter, and we ended up giving Lookout Mountain a miss because of the weather. So we checked out Nashville for a couple of days. Sunday night we ended up downtown watching such oddities as ‘Pedal bars‘ carrying whooping groups of partiers. We, being of a more sedate years, chose to enjoy our drinks in more peaceful surroundings, and despite our obvious grey hairs, had to show ID before getting alcoholic libations. Apparently it’s state law in Tennessee.

The weather recently hasn’t been our friend, what with the odd passing thunderstorm, but we made the best of it by getting me some new cooking knives (Proper Sabatier’s) and a chef’s apron for when the cooking muse hits. Plugged some holes in our old movie collection with a Bogart compilation and some others we fancied at the moment while it bucketed down in Nashville. Picked up a couple of the more obscure CD’s we’ve had trouble sourcing in BC. Overall, despite downpours, we had a good time. The only downside was our hotel. Advertising itself as three star was a bit of an exaggeration. Two would have been more appropriate. I could go into detail, but I’ve saved that for a rather scathing comment on booking.com.

As for the political news, well there’s a fine howdy-do and no mistake. However, I made my feelings plain on this issue back February 25th based on this story. Is the big C destined to win the Democratic nomination only to get whumped in the real thing by the big T? Will this encourage voters to put their X where their heart tells them, and not where they are scared to by the lamestream? Intriguing…

Anyway, this evening finds us in St Louis on the Illinois side, plotting and planning our visit to the Cahokia Mounds and perhaps one of the local plantations, the day after to the city centre to see the big arch and perhaps visit a few museums.

Après le déluge, nous

Two weeks into our road trip and we’re out of Houston and in New Orleans. The storms have passed and the sky is as clear as if nothing has happened. Our first morning in Houston was another matter. Lightning, thunder and the car park and road outside at least two inches deep in water. All we could do was stand and watch the fireworks, mainly because I didn’t have to drive and didn’t really want to. Road trips are supposed to be fun, right? An adventure at least. So far it has been, but Houston is a business town more than anything else, and although the parks and museum districts are interesting, the rest, well, I’d give it a miss next time round.

After the morning rains passed, we took the bus into the Museum District, only to receive a friendly warning about walking around looking like Canadian tourists from the transit station security people. I can see what they mean, our end of Houston did look a bit worse for wear even after the flooding, and on the way home we had our first real stoner encounter. Talk about a zombiform human. A white guy in his 20’s, buzz cut sandy hair, hollow, hopeless eyes and a shuffling gait. He managed to sneak up close behind Mrs S, but I got her on the bus before he made contact. He was probably harmless, but my beloved certainly isn’t. I probably did him a favour by whisking her away.

New Orleans is a totally different kettle of seafood. It’s a party town, and we spent all nof today wandering around the French Quarter, finding one of the best breakfast spots in town (Camille) and inadvertently wandering into a gay bar for a beer. All of which completely failed to faze either Mrs S or myself. Maybe I’m just getting to old to worry about that shit any more.

I’ve decided I like New Orleans. It’s everything Vegas aspires to be but with attitude. Less of the glitz but more about people. The Big Easy has a history and culture which Vegas lacks, but more than that. At the grass roots it has a real beating heart made up of people. We had more small kindnesses come our way from the locals than in our entire journey so far. Nothing much. Unsolicited directions to great eating and sightseeing experiences. We got a little gentle backsass from certain locals, which we gave right back and got a laugh out of each encounter, which was fun. Even if the local accent is a bit broad, drawly and difficult to understand with all the background noise. Which made us want to return and do the place a little bit more justice than we could in our schedules forty eight hours.

New Orleans is a town not afraid to have some fun at it’s own expense. To be honest, if I was ever forced to walk the streets again, I wouldn’t mind doing it there.