Tag Archives: Observations

A little less than coruscating….

Managed to contract a rather nasty little cold virus which is proving difficult to dislodge. The effect isn’t that debilitating, but the low level fever and snottiness is just enough to put a crimp in anyone’s day. More of an irritation than a handicap. Fortunately work has eased off from the ‘we want it yesterday’ to more sensible deadlines, so I can relax a little.

While work is slow(er), I’ve been putting a bit more energy into planning our forthcoming six week road trip into the good old US of A. We’ve booked the ferry and first few hotels, got the car booked in for a full service and new set of brake pads and rubber all round, checked our travel insurance and made sure our emergency fund will be there when we need it. We’re feeling fairly relaxed about the prospect. Should be fun.

One interesting but disturbing little snippet has raised its head. Specifically about law enforcement stops. Turns out that some of those guardians of law and disorder are not as honest as they should be. All under the semi-official training and information sharing programs “Black Asphalt”, “Desert Snow” and “420 Group”. Using the umbrella of ‘anti-terrorism’ and ‘war against drugs’ legislation which allows confiscation of assets without a guilty verdict. Often scooping up the property of those never even charged with a crime, or only related to those who were. For my part I shall be driving very carefully. Especially when passing through Oklahoma.

This is where all those RICO statutes and forfeiture without due process laws eventually lead. Someone, somewhere in the system will take advantage and the innocent suffer along with the allegedly guilty. Law of unintended consequences anyone?

Under a buck

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

Gas Price Victoria Jan 2016

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

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

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

From one ‘wassock’ to another

Investors showcase tonight, where people who call themselves ‘financial experts’ will be making a bid to increase our capital. Not that they will, I’ve seen these guys come and go (normally with your cash lining their pockets) over the years, and can’t help but think it’ll be a wasted evening. I’m only going for the freebies. When it comes to signing on the dotted, we Stickers have a limpet like hold on our resources and will no doubt come away from the event slightly bemused and waiting for the cold light of day to help us sort the real from the faecal cow residue.

In the meantime, I made time between coursework, work and cooking to have a look at the fuss over this Trump fellow. He certainly has polarised people hasn’t he? Out of the mouths etcetera.

My goodness, he hasn’t even won a nomination or even a primary, and a bunch of spineless gimps have already got their undergarments all rucked up.  If you believe what’s in most of the left leaning lamestream media, the floppy haired Barbarian is at the gates and we’re all dooomed if he so much as sets an ignorant, stupid foot within ten miles of elected office.  Stefan Molyneux on the other hand, no matter what you think of his sometimes apocryphal style, does one of his excellent dissections of what the lamestream get completely one hundred and eighty degrees from reality.

What the lamestream and their owners are all frightened about are that the Barbarian is complaining about the real barbarians who indulge in such things as, oo lemme see, rape attacks and sexual assaults and celebrating notorious terrorist attacks, which threatens the blatant gerrymandering and vote buying commonplace in the west. The real barbarians are not already inside the gates, but are messing up the living room, hogging the couch and Xbox with their booted feet up on the coffee table demanding more Nachos and playing grab-ass with every comely young female within reach. What’s worse is that these racist, sexist, hostile slimeballs can’t be kicked out because mainstream politicians need their fresh votes. Even worse is that many of the bad guys are second generation. Born and bred. Not simply ‘immigrants’.

As fans of the X-files will attest, the truth is most certainly out there, (but lies are definitely in your head) and as Stefan ably demonstrates, easily found courtesy of the jolly old Interweb. All you have to do is go to the source data, which is far more easily accessed if you’re prepared to do a little digging on your own account.

Like it or not, I’m tempted to believe my a strong suspicion that we’re at a cultural nexus, the kind that brings down civilisations. Such a collapse probably won’t happen in my lifetime (Despite rumours to the contrary – the people in charge have too far to fall), but if we carry on doing the same old thing, ducking the issues, subsidising, importing, pandering to and protecting a hostile culture, perhaps the western way of life and the prosperity it brings will be a fading memory by the end of the century. Some of the more philosophically short sighted out there might be tempted to think that this might be a good thing. I would disagree. Classical civilisation, for all it’s faults produced great art (A lot of which was defaced by zealous early Christians) and great literature (Which also fell victim to zealous early Christians). The arts and sciences fell into disarray for centuries afterwards. Anyone else see the parallel?

Which may be a comfort to our great grandchildren. Or not. Clinton’s the next US President anyway, she’s Wall Street and the lamestreams preferred candidate. Despite his wealth, I think Trump won’t even get a mention, but I wouldn’t be totally displeased if he won. Just to hear the outraged wailing and gnashing of teeth of sore losers.

Time to ditch Netflix?

Well folks, it’s sledgehammer to crack a nut and cut off ones nose to spite one’s face time for Netflix. News has surfaced that they’re going to block users who use proxies and VPN’s to view content. Which is going to go down like a lead balloon here oop norf of the 49th.

Now I’m not sure about how Netflix are going to go about this, but blocking the IP’s of known VPN servers, or possibly entire ranges of same may just prove business suicide. Canada’s chief beef is that we only gets a fraction of the catalogue available to our cousins less than sixty kilometres distant. Competitors with better content are springing up, to whom the Sticker household has already subscribed, and like cable TV providers, it’s not too big a leap of imagination to see Netflix’ market share (And some of their more shonky content) dwindling into a black hole.

Future of NetflixNow Netflix are not entirely at fault, the people behind this crackdown are the corporate copyright holders who want even more revenue from the same product, not just once, but again and again and again. To them, streaming services like Netflix are just a cash cow. Which won’t actually help when Netflix start to lose subscribers because what their customer base wants is advert-free content and if they as a service provider can’t give their customers what they want, well do I have to paint a picture here?

As an example; at the end of March this year, our household is planning to ditch its Netflix subscription because the Canadian content is becoming too restricted and we’ll have come to the end of our viewing choices. If enough people do the same, then the boys behind the big red banner are going to have to start looking for some other employment.

I think if this problem persists with the big guys pressuring legitimate subscriber services we could go back to doing Torrent downloads, maybe watching DVD’s, or we might even subscribe to CraveTV on top of our existing Shomi subscription (Which is already beginning to look a little restrictive). Depending on how good Crave’s catalogue is. We’ll sign up for the free first month and see if it’s any good, if so, bye bye Netflix.

What the hey, it’s only TV. I can live without it.

On the bright side, the Raccoon Arms is open again.

Gun crime

If you open a newspaper or read an online news aggregator about guns and shootings south of the 49th Parallel you might be forgiven for thinking its Ker-razy down there with people being gunned down on every street corner. Well, pardon me for being a bit sceptical, but I’ve been to the States a few times, and the only guns I saw were on the hips of Police officers and the odd sporting goods store.

We keep on getting told that gun deaths are this and gun crime is that, so I thought I’d have a look at some fairly reliable up to date (2013 / 2014) sources instead of the panties-in-a-bunch hysteria that passes for news nowadays. For the USA, the stats have been culled from the FBI’s resource pages. Never mind about posturing by bought and paid for politicians, let’s see what the cold hard data tells us, as well as taking a gander at 20th century violent crime stats. Like in the UK, the murder rate peaked in 2001 / 02 (9/11 and all that) and has been on the decrease ever since.

The USA for example, is now almost twice as safe per 100,000 from murder as in 1960, for example; 1960 saw 9,110 homicides out of a quoted population of 179,323,175. Now if we do the same exercise for 2014, there were 14,249 homicides (All causes) out of a much higher population of 318,857,056. If you care to examine the data tables, homicide in the USA has become an even more rare event in 2014. That’s despite all the scawy stories that we’re even more dooooomed than last week. Ooo, and it’s so ‘unprecedented’. As for being shot by a Law enforcement official, that’s a gnats bollock more likely, but not much. At least in terms of deaths measured against population. The same seems to be true across the Westernised world. The figures do not lie.

Gun crime? I think the answer is right there in the statistics. Most of the gun murders in the US at least, appear to be in the Southern states. At a first glance, California and Texas look well dodgy, with urbane gun controlled California outdoing those gun-totin concealed carry Texans by a country mile. Yeehaw pardner! I think. What is more telling are the stats referring to homicides by age, sex, and ethnicity.

Handguns do, at least superficially, seem to be the major problem. But the stats make no distinction between legal and non-legal ownership. Which is something I can’t seem to find any information on. Although a cursory reading of the FBI’s 2013 homicide statistics indicate that the majority of gun killings are down to African-American and Hispanic males between 16 and 30 years of age. Which for most people should not come as a massive surprise. So is the answer a blanket ban on anyone from that social grouping under 30 owning a handgun? Which would only take the guns out of the hands of the law-abiding, because, you know those criminals, well they don’t obey things like laws….. Ooo, and wouldn’t that be ‘racial profiling’? So much better that people get killed than a few get racially profiled, eh?

As for ‘gun-free zones’ well they’ve been a great success, haven’t they, accounting for ‘only 13%’ of all ‘mass shootings’? Please note; the FBI defines a mass shooting where ‘four or more people are killed’ and the ‘Everytown’ published research on this topic has been described as ‘highly misleading‘. So if only three got cut down in their prime, or there wasn’t an obvious sign up, sorry chums but it just doesn’t count. Except to all those poor bloody bereaved family members who thought their precious ones were in a ‘safe’ place. Be it an Army base (Contrary to popular opinion, soldiers do not generally go around armed on base), school, temple, public office or even a coffee shop with a home made ‘gun free zone’ poster taped to the door. ‘Gun-Free’ zones are no use at all unless it is impossible for anyone with a firearm (legally held or not) to get in.

Right, so what’s the answer? The Freakonomics team came up with the notion that abortion on demand reduced the number of single parent households and reduced crime overall (With an 18 year lag). Which certainly appears to be the case. Fewer unwanted children with low social expectations and lower self esteem is obviously a good idea. A stable home life with strong role models has always been a key factor in preventing kids from going off the rails. Teaching that violence is not the best first idea when attempting to resolve disputes also has merit, but that’s only going to work if those testosterone charged and frustrated young men who seem to do most of the killing find a better way of burning off all their untapped aggression. Which won’t happen by giving them Macramé and poetry classes, or simply taking the guns off everyone. The killers will only use illegal guns, or resort to knives, and when the knives are taken away, golf clubs, baseball bats, rocks and eventually their bare hands. Okay, so no real answer there……

On the other hand, speaking as someone who, as a young (and sometimes very foolish) man who used to run with the rougher crowd, I feel the answer to gun crime, and homicide in general may be found outside the simple knee-jerk ‘ban it’ mindset. Martial arts clubs (Especially boxing; see this UK parliamentary all party report on it here and this US based example), serious competitive sport, or somewhere a strong physical role model can make an impact or mentor otherwise aimless and rebellious youth. Because young men in particular need robust peer group based self esteem and somewhere to burn off their natural aggression. Which whilst not the complete answer, will help divert their natural violent impulses from manifesting in more destructive ways. Like the intoxicant fuelled gang lifestyles that only add to the violence. Or social isolation, where those lacking the communication skills needed to negotiate their way in the world occasionally boil over or ‘go postal’.

Here in Canada, we generally have lower crime rates because the culture is different and most kids seem to be trained to seek non-violent means of ‘conflict resolution’ from an early age. Here we have an overall homicide rate of 1.45 per 100,000 for 2014, although you can easily double that for Toronto and Montreal. In BC, you’re more likely to get snacked on by a Bear or Cougar than shot, even in the gang enclaves of Abbotsford and around East Hastings in Downtown Vancouver.

It’s rather ironic, but perhaps controlled gladiatorial punch-ups might prove the best short term available answer to violent (and therefore gun) crime? As well as good, intelligence-led policing like that which seems to be working in Manchester, UK. At least until the demographics and culture have time to readjust to a less violent ‘normal’? For example; first time juvenile offenders sent to ‘sweep the gym’ for a year, just to knock the corners off them, rather than do expensive jail time in what have been termed ‘Universities of Crime’ (A.K.A. Prisons)? Maybe some form of legalised ‘fight club’ where the violent can learn that getting hit hurts, so maybe it’s not such a good idea to hit others. Hmm. Co-opt ethnic (or non-ethnic) peer groups into competing rather than killing via subsidised sports facilities. Ex-Military (Preferably combat veterans) would be the ideal recruits for such a long term program. Someone with a few rough edges who can earn and hold the respect of otherwise feral youth. Give them a decent raison d’etre.

You know, it’s such a crazy idea it might just work…….. And no US President would ever have to cry in public, ever again……..

Downtown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No snow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a nice day.

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

Philosophically thinking

As I was preparing the seasonal repast  (It was excellent by the way – best Pork I’ve ever cooked – wonderful crackling), I came over all reflective and philosophical. You know the kind of thing, those useful titbits of folk wisdom you sometimes wish your Dad or Mum had taken the time to sit you down and tell you about. Not the two-fingers-down-the-throat ‘truth posters’ you find in gift shops that are all about such insincere wetness as ‘peace’, ‘joy’ or even more nauseatingly ’empowerment’, but something a bit earthier and pejorative. Something you can paste up on your wall without your mates thinking you’ve gone all born again and religious, yet retaining a positive spin. One you won’t feel ashamed showing to your tougher friends. Who knows? They might want one too. Copyright free for non-profit and personal use.  Use it as a get well soon card.  Knock yourself out.

THIS IS YOUR LIFE

For those who have difficulties reading the odd bits of upside down and back to front text, I’ve transcribed the key phrases below with a few hopefully helpful notes. Although not necessarily in the order you read them.

 

  1. This is your fucking Life (Well this is a no-brainer, surely?)
  2. You will fuck up (Also true, but I’m always amazed at how many people this catches by surprise.  Even the greatest of us has feet of clay.  Or just aching feet.  Or aching whatever.)
  3. Learn to say “Fuck you!” (But always with a smile, because some people really, really, really deserve it.  You might also want to learn how to run away really quickly.)
  4. Learn to fucking apologise.  (If you’re wrong, put your hands up to an honest mistake – you’ll be amazed how much respect this can earn you.)
  5. There is no fuck up so big it can’t be fixed (With enough time and effort, yes – sometimes not worth it.)
  6. You are not fucking God (Also self evident. Religion has its limitations and should only ever be considered as a rough guideline.)
  7. Learn to smile at your fuck ups (A much better way than endlessly beating yourself up about whatever you previously fucked up)
  8. It’s only fucking pain (Even the most intense pain is temporary, it always goes away eventually) 
  9. Suicide is fucking pointless (No matter how big the hurt, the sun will rise, whether or not you make the poor quality decision not to see it. So long as you’re breathing, you have the opportunity to right the wrong done to you. If not, your friends and family might mourn for a week or three, but the unrequited ‘love of your life’ will eventually move on to someone else or some other lucky sod will reap the rewards of all your hard work.  Sorry, but that’s the truth of it. The only exception to this rule is the alternative of a slow, painful death.)
  10. Get the fuck over it (Too much pride is an Achilles heel – learn to forgive – but not absolutely everything.)
  11. Sometimes you have to walk the fuck away (Truly,  you really have got to know when to move on from a bad situation)
  12. Don’t fuck over your family (Like it or not, these are the most important people in your life. Without family, your life is based on shifting sands.  Although if they fuck you over first – all bets are off.)
  13. Fucking is not love (It’s just sex.)
  14. You can love without fucking (Oddly true.  The physical act does not automatically require emotion and vice versa.)
  15. This is not a fucking dress rehearsal (Get on with it or your dreams will never come true. All good things do not come to them that wait.)

Oh yes, and prepare, because adequate planning and preparation prevent piss poor performance and also the avoidance of complete clusterfucks.  Even if you never have to use the skill or resource.  Happy New Year.

Stirred…..

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

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

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