Tag Archives: Observations

Unclean

“Unclean! Unclean!” Chortled Mrs S.
“Thank you dear.” I responded tersely. She knows I don’t respond well to false sympathy.

I’ve picked up a rather painful but not completely debilitating type of virus infection which means I currently have a bad case of spots before the ankle. Which has led to me popping painkillers like they were sweeties in order to stay half way sane and functional. For which the occasional bit of light relief is required from the late great comedy team of Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe a.k.a The Goons.

Just in case I’m infectious have exiled myself to the spare bedroom. I’d laugh, only that hurts even more. Bugger. Hi-ho. I console myself with the old stoic country axiom; what cannot be cured must be endured. These things last around two weeks maximum if you take care, so I’ve another eight or nine days to go. Note to self; lay in extra Ibuprofen.

Anyway, if my Doctor calls about my set of tests from last week to tell me, “Bill, you’re sick.”
I can reply, “Tell me something I don’t already know. I caught it when I went to get those routine tests you ordered.” Although this dose of the dreaded Lurgi won’t show up in those test results. Infections in the incubation stage are hard to spot.

So if I’m a bit slower than usual answering or approving comments, don’t worry. They’re on my to do list. Or my to don’t list. Whatever. Catch you on the flip side.

All this and it’s started snowing.

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Have I missed anything?

We’ve had snow. Nothing much, just a hard sugar frosting which will be gone by tomorrow. So what’s the latest craze? Oh yes, it’s something called the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ which has been sliding under my radar, so I’m having to play catch up.

Like with the documentary above. Watch it all. Seriously. Food for thought and an antidote to the screaming incoherence from the extreme side of both political aisles. ‘Dark’? Not really methinks. Just depends how naive you are. Or could it be said that the path to enlightenment leads through the darkness of accepting our own ignorance? Hmm. Sounds suitably apocryphal.

This weekend I’ve been introducing Mrs S to the work of Dr Jordan Peterson and the theories of Karl Jung. Her response was, “Why haven’t I come across this before?” I replied that I didn’t know. Which sparked off one of our long in depth conversations where I told her how I’d learned and failed until I found out how to reconcile and control the diverse parts of my personality. From which I derived the thought that there are people out there who rely on others not having integrated their dark side properly (I’m looking at you Skywalker! And your Father.) and thus gained the emotional distance necessary to reason. Perhaps because the only way to access these essentials to becoming a more rounded individual have previously been hidden in academic level psychology courses or been overshadowed by popular religion and new age psychobabble.

Just an afterthought, but why is open discussion of ideas being called the intellectual dark web? I know ‘Dark Web’ is one of those labels invented for the hard of thinking as far as the wide open prairies of the jolly old Interweb is concerned, but ‘intellectual’? Doesn’t that imply that many out in medialand are unable to discuss ‘uncomfortable’ issues like grown ups? Now as far as I can see, the TV talking heads seem to be pushing an agenda whilst not recognising their own blatant biases and how repulsively divisive and dishonest they are being. Whether they are just victims of mindless groupthink or deliberately being obtuse I leave to my last remaining reader’s good(?) judgement.

Indeed, it is my observation that all many talking media heads do is slap a cheap label on something then never actually think or re-examine the issue again, except to react to the label like a dog whistle. Like GMO’s being ‘Frankenfood’s’ or referring to genetic interventions to help would-be parents with a hereditary defect that can be genetically corrected as ‘Designer Babies’. Both of which are highly misleading. As are referring to certain practices being ‘kind’. By way of illustration, the evils of Eugenics and involuntary Euthanasia used to be defined as ‘kind’ by such luminaries as the Fabian Society in the early parts of the 20th century. It was only after large scale experiments conducted in Europe and the Far East between 1933 and 1946 had filled a few million graves that the whole matter was ditched as a really epoch-breaking bad idea. Until recently.

As for Dr Peterson’s online lectures, I do believe Mrs S has become quite a fan. Well, she’s watched ten of his YouTube videos plus a few on related topics this Sunday and she’s already asked me about buying his book; “12 Rules for life, an antidote to Chaos“. I may even send copies to the Stepkids.

A Marxist Joke

I’m very busy at present with a new job, some medical tests my doctor seems to think are essential, despite feeling quite well and full of beans. So not much time to blog. This post has been put together over a week or so concerning a matter than has made me crank the old lips up in an ironic half smile.

Here’s a question. When did the workers begin to seize the means of production? I ask my last remaining reader because it occurs to me that it wasn’t a Marxist at all who made it happen. Not Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Chavez, Maduro or Castro but ironically someone from the other end of the political spectrum.

I was over at Longrider’s blog last week I think, perusing the comments on one post and I suddenly had an epiphany. It’s a fairly simple exercise in applied logic with a large side serving of irony and I think anyone who doesn’t get the joke needs a quick jump start on the old frontal lobes with an ECT machine. I frequently see it said from left wing sources that ‘property is theft’ and that the workers should seize the means of production, but here’s a thing, what if the workers, of whom I count myself a part having spent much of my life as a working man, have already been taking a firm hold on the ‘means of production’ for several decades. At least in the UK. Certainly over here across North America where the practice is widespread.

No, I’m not talking about nationalisation, that’s just the bureaucratic state taking anything it can lay it’s greasy little mitts on. When it comes to actual ownership, the state and the individual are not the same thing, although the ‘State’ may be made up of a certain tranche of individuals it does not constitute an accountable entity. Indeed the ‘state’ is about as unaccountable as it gets with all the arse-covering that traditionally goes on in bureaucratic circles. I’ve seen state ownership first hand and it’s a process of managed decay, stillborn innovation, fear and inward bound loathing.

Now what I’m describing here is the quantum increase in small investors who are investing, crowdfunding, patreoning and supporting a wide variety of ventures all around the world. Literally enabling the means of production in a way that I think even old Karl would have gone “Yeah, Das Kapital, maybe needs a re-write.” Because the factory based society he designed his collectivist philosophy for died during the 1960’s and 70’s.

For my proof I’d first ask this question; where are the massive factories of yesteryear where thousands toiled? Where is the uniformity? In the much depleted corporate world? There are a few big employers, but nothing like the number of big industrial combines that once dotted the landscape. They’ve all been offshored, downsized, diversified and MBA’d. Where are the single workers collectives to ‘seize control’ of all the wealth generation?

The answer is very simple, via old fashioned much-disparaged capitalism. The kind of thing which allows people to put small pots of money in with larger pots to create investment. Pension funds, individual stocks and shares, government insecurities, gilts and all the rest. Through voting shares the individual investor is allowed a say in how a company is run and who runs it. In short, by purchasing shares they now have a small part ownership of the ‘means of production’. In the UK, this universal share ownership was most enthusiastically pushed by no less a person than, wait for it….

Margaret Thatcher.

Karl Marx wouldn’t have seen the joke, but I do.

Everybody loves…

…BC wines. Except for Alberta. Which is about to have its local booze supply cut off. Which will be great for wine importers, unless the NDP leader has a(nother) brain fart and decides that for ‘fairness’ sake, no one in Alberta can buy any wine from anywhere. Until then, importers of wines from everywhere else on the planet should benefit from increased sales. There are good BC Grown Canadian wines, but nothing really spectacular and they’re all pretty limited in distribution.

The news is that we’re having a little inter-provincial trade ‘war’ in Canada over a pipeline which the idiotic BC Provincial Government don’t want built. Denying employment to the very people they say they work for. Between two provincial governments from the same party. Which should tell you something about the Canadian NDP.

Of course Ottawa should have stepped in and cracked heads for this blatantly stupid inter party spat, but they’re the opposition Liberals, who are ‘led’ by the excruciatingly cringe-worthy international joke Justin Trudeau. So they will do absolutely bugger all because, well, ‘it’s 2018’ Duh. Unless of course the alphabet soup, religion of being blown to pieces or Uber-Feminist demographic somehow get involved. As far as the Liberals are concerned, no-one else matters. So they’ll watch the NDP Governments in Alberta and British Columbia go for each other’s throats and hope to profit politically by their misfortune. That and they might have given Federal permission for the pipeline, but they don’t really want it built to appease the rabid environmentalist organisations. Who get funding from the same vested interests as Trudeau did when he got a two million buck boost prior to his election run. Not that they need it. The brainwashing has been very effective out here on the wet coast.

Which is interesting, as is the leak that arch meddler and speculator George Soros is funding an anti-BREXIT campaign to the tune of GBP400,000. Which is pretty small beer for him. That’s chump change from a Billionaires perspective. Is this a very public display of reverse psychology or an “I want the Democracy I pay for” gesture? Or is it a double barrelled move? I have yet to make my mind up.

An old favourite made new

I like Kent, his YouTube channel is well worth a look if you have the time. He does solid grub for outdoorsy folk to provide a warming welcome after a day out in the cold.

Essentially what his ‘mashed potato bombs’ are, apart from being ace comfort food, a different take on potato croquettes (See video below to ‘make from fresh’). Kids especially love them, and they’re a Sticker family Boxing Day favourite. Although don’t let that stop you preparing this treat any damn time of year.

Now I have an alternative method for the same thing which relies on the mashed potato being done British style. Firm, not all soft and creamy like the North Americans prefer. Nor the abomination that used to haunt 1970’s school dinners. When stirred, the British version (at least my preferred method does) tends to form a single mass rather than look like freshly made cake mix. The trick is to add a little butter while mashing so that the result becomes firm rather than sloppy. So you don’t have to use much, if any, flour. Which can leave a cloying aftertaste. Especially if your mash was made with one of the more floury varieties of spud.

So; starting with, say three and a bit cups of firm and slightly dry British style mash left to cool, crack an egg and whisk it properly with a fork so that the egg becomes a smooth yellow emulsion. Add about a half to your mashed spuds and mix thoroughly. Add a little salt and pepper if you like. I usually use a little more pepper because it gives the potato a bit more bite. You can even add a small pinch of cayenne if you like, but be careful.

Now if you’ve got it right, the mix, when stirred should tend to form one piece like a soft ball of dough. The ideal texture being not too firm but kneadable and not leave sticky trails when you roll it in your hands. Roll into balls, tip; bite size is best, leaving a little over half a cup of mash in the bowl. Make a dent in the ball. Add filling. Spring onions or Chives, a good strong cheese (A strong blue is particularly good) and bacon bits if you wish. A tiny smidgeon of sour cream or cream cheese will help to bind the filling, then use a little of the remaining mash to seal it all in each little ball. You don’t need much filling for each one or they will leak into the frying oil and the desired effect will be lost.

A quick side note; I’ve found alternative fillings like cream cheese and pre-cooked prawn or shrimp bits with Spring Onions or chives are excellent but honestly, the choice is down to your individual palate. Leftover Beef or burger bits, fine cut lamb leftovers in a tiny hint of mint sauce, chicken, whatever. Just so long as it is firm and not liquid. If you are that way inclined and your brand of vegetarianism allows egg as a binder, then even some heavily spiced Tofu can be used. If you’re a vegan, sorry, but you are missing out. It’s why very few people remain lifelong vegans. There is so much they miss out on, poor damned souls.

Now give each filled ball a quick (just enough to round it, no more) roll in flour and paint with the remaining egg mix, then roll in breadcrumbs. Heat oil in pan then gently lower each one of the stuffed potato balls in to cook. I prefer to deep fry mine as you don’t need to flip them as with shallow frying, which runs an added risk that your carefully crafted creations will split and ruin the whole thing, but the desired end result is the same; crispy outside, melt in your mouth detonation inside.

So if stuffing the balls sounds like too much fuss and palaver, there is an alternative. Simply mix your finely chopped chosen filling with the pre-mashed potato and omit the sour cream or cream cheese from the recipe before putting on the egg wash and breadcrumbs. Just as moreish, just as tasty and just as calorific. Which is why I won’t be making any for myself any more. Although I’m very, very tempted.

Yet if you’ve made too many to be consumed at one sitting, despair not my last remaining reader, simply allow to the finished item to cool, then stick in the freezer on a tray for twenty four hours to set before bagging for longer term freezer storage. After that, feel free to take out and deep fry a few every so often to repeat the experience, because good things should never be done just once.

On Neutrality

I was talking to Mrs S recently about some of the articles I’ve been seeing about ‘transgenderism’ being promoted in schools. Her first response was short, pithy and Anglo-Saxon as befits a responsible educational professional of over thirty years experience. And she has taught sex education, or PHSE as it is known in the UK.

My response is when are we going to see the first child abuse lawsuits against the people who are pushing this gender bending agenda? Or should that read ‘an attempt to force a-gender?’ Who are the people behind this warped ideology and why are they allowed within ten miles of any educational establishment? If my kids were still young, those are the questions I would be asking while I had my litigator on speed dial. I’d want names and addresses so the perpetrators could face down my legal team in a court of law. And my claim would be six zeroes if any physical harm was threatened. Seven plus if physical damage occurred. Let’s face it, if one of the aggressive #metoo campaigners can seek six figure damages for hurt feelings forty years ago, how much would be granted for someone who had suffered real abuse?

Now I’ve no real concern about those whose sexual preferences run contrary to my own. What happens in any given bedroom post puberty is their own damn business and no-one else’s. Dress how you want, be surgically altered (So long as it’s on your own dollar that’s fine) But when it comes to children under seven I think schools have a duty of care to keep those under the age of puberty away from anyone who might harm them physically, mentally or sexually. Indeed, there are worthy legal strictures in place for this very reason. And when it comes to sex education in schools, I’m seeing a lot of clues which would indicate to me that all is not well. On both sides of the Atlantic.

Frankly, I suspect there are people whose sexual preferences involve pre-pubescent children ensconced in places of power and responsibility and that they are using their proxies to abuse the public trust. In short, the baby fuckers are driving this. Child abusers playing the long game. Sexually damaged cultural relativists imposing abusive sexual preferences on the immature and impressionable. Causing not just emotional but real physical harm from inappropriately administered gender reassignment surgery and hormone treatments, sometimes without lawful parental consent.

Indeed, from what I hear child is being set against parent and thus condemned to misery and probable suicide. Because the stats plainly show that those who do go through the trauma of a sex change have almost a 50% suicide rate. Not merely fifty percent higher than the general population, but fifty percent of all sex change cases. Half will kill themselves. That’s how bad it is, and no ‘rights’ will ever change that. Turning them into a privileged minority will not help.

Which I’m sure will end up like the scandal of First Nations children being abused (And even dying) within the notorious old Canadian ‘Residential School’ system. Guess what? The taxpayer will be expected to foot the bill for all the mutilation of genitalia and shortened lives caused by people who couldn’t leave those whose sexual self is, often only temporarily, a little further along the sexual bell curve than the majority. Yes, there are a very few people who have known from an early age what they were, but that is no reason to encourage widespread transgenderism in those under the legal age of sexual consent.

As a personal aside, at a house party in Oz recently I had a long involved chat with one openly gay man. We talked, compared our similar family histories which were rural, small village north midlands England. He said he’d known from an early age what his sexual preference was and I think was trying to work out for himself why our similar upbringings had turned out such very different people. For myself I was quite happy for him to be who he was and said so, but that I did not share his particular proclivity. And there the matter, quite rightly, rested. Although I got the feeling he was somehow unhappy with this state of affairs. How come he liked his own sex and I didn’t? To which my unspoken response was; sorry old thing but I’m not changing my sexual preference just to suit someone else. I’m happy as I am. I like women sexually and I’m quite happy to be married to one. Especially Mrs S. Even if she does drive me nuts sometimes.

To those promoting alternative sexual awareness in schools I only have this to say; please, please, leave children their innocence. Let them be children, at least until they’re about to hit puberty in high school. Yes it’s a bit hard on those few outliers for a few years, but better that than screwing up an entire generation. For which as yet unborn generations will have to pick up the tab.

As for the statement “Purposefully mis-gendering a transgender person is an act of violence”, that is what I can only describe as an inverted truth. I’ve seen and been on the receiving end of real violence, and trust me, simply saying ‘No’ to someone under the age of consent is not violent. One might even describe not letting the underage undergo a prematurely life-changing and purely cosmetic medical procedure as anti-violent. Physically beating others is violent, all else is peccadillo. Hurt feelings don’t count. Black eyes, broken bones, bruises and split lips do.

Unfortunately we have a generation of politicians and activists who don’t seem to be able to understand this simple distinction. Which will only lead to a massive bill to the taxpayers of the future, but no-one inside the bubble of power and privilege seems to get this simple reality. Either that or they are simply too short sighted to care.

Sauce!

Cookery and diet related post. A few observations on the low-carbohydrate lifestyle we’ve adopted here at Maison Sticker. First, too many almonds give you seriously vivid dreams. Second, after several weeks without potato, Mrs S and I allowed ourselves a portion of chips (fries) as a treat, result; again, hallucinatory 3D and full orchestral soundtrack dreams with CGI. Nothing unpleasant, but unusual for us both, so probably food related. Have decided not to have any more potatoes for the next couple of weeks. That was a bit freaky.

We are both slowly and steadily losing weight without too much inconvenience, although eating out is tricky because all the ‘casual dining’ sector has to offer in Canada is mostly deep fried food or salads smothered in sugar loaded dressings. I guess they’re just catering to their market, but I’m certainly saving a lot of money by not going out.

Instead I’ve been experimenting with our slow cooker or ‘crock pot’ and have worked out how to get the sauce nice and thick the way we both like it without cornstarch. The answer is Arrowroot flour or powder. Which has a similar calorie count to cornstarch or flour, but you use far less of it for the same amount of thickening. I’ve worked out that I can thicken a sauce to the same amount of glutinousness with half the Arrowroot as opposed to cornstarch, ergo fewer calories added to your diet. And no aftertaste which you can get with cornstarch. Especially if you add just a little too much.

Now arrowroot as a sauce thickener reacts differently to cornstarch. Whereas with cornstarch you can put your thickening agent in at any point in the cooking process, Arrowroot works best when stirred in as a cold roux, or water paste, toward the end of the cooking process. A roux being a mix of thickening agent and water in a two part water to one part thickener. But you all knew that didn’t you? Didn’t you? Well now you do.

For a pint of sauce, a half teaspoon of Arrowroot flour or powder should be mixed with a little cold water then added to the sauce juices about ten minutes before taking off the heat. Today I did a poached chicken madras (Two frozen cardboard chicken breasts, a handful of sliced mushrooms, three diced cooking onions and a roughly diced red pepper with a small diced turnip, half a pint of water, two generous teaspoons of curry paste and a pinch of cayenne) with the assistance of Mr Sharwoods Madras paste and an extra pinch of cayenne pepper. Left it in the slow cooker for six hours, stirring in an Arrowroot roux ten minutes before taking off the heat. Result; hot without being scorching, with the chicken falling apart and just enough zing for that lovely little chilli tingle inside the mouth, but not enough to send you running for the water jug. I served it with ten minute simmered Broccoli instead of rice and the verdict from Mrs S was “Bill, is it my imagination or are your curries getting better?” I’d just chucked everything in the pot and switched it on. Frozen ingredients included. No defrost, no fancy prep, just chop the veg up and sling it all in. Set on ‘low’. Walk away for the day, come back, stir in roux, prepare broccoli and enjoy.

All this, a days work and assembling a new dining table to serve it on. I was so damn impressed with myself I lit a candle.

Loneliness of the long distance twatterer

Reading the FT the other morning to find an article speculating upon how loneliness might be driving the very partisan and uncivil ideological war currently raging online. Well it’s hardly a revelation. But who is to blame? What is creating the loneliness of the long distance tweeter? Well the answer to that is a no-brainer – ‘Social media’. Let me explain…

Everywhere I go I see people riveted to their phone screens walking down the street, crossing the road, sitting on benches, eating, drinking. Plugged in to their little electronic blinkers filtering out what’s going on in the real world. Indeed, doing little to interact with their immediate surroundings, choosing instead to evade reality by living in another. I see these damned souls every time I’m out. Hiding in plain sight in the modern expression of the ‘safe space’. Connected, yet so terribly isolated but convinced they are living in the real world whilst stuck in their own tiny echo chambers. A sort of 21st century tribe of Lotus Eaters.

My reaction is generally ambivalent and my only irritation with these slow motion creatures is their lack of consideration to their fellow humans when they won’t get out of the bleeding way. As I’ve written before, the zombie apocalypse is here and now, and they’re all plugged into their own bit of erratically cyber-policed anti-social media. Determined to hear nothing that challenges their narrow little world view, or getting all riled up enough to shout down an opposing faction. Useful note; shutting people up that you disagree with is not an argument. Calling strangers names is not debating.

Which is one of the many reasons these cell phone addicts look so deeply unhappy. Seriously, not a smile in a trainload. Some studies indicate that the little screen in your hand is actually robbing you of any happiness life might throw under your feet. Not to mention actively reducing your functioning intelligence. Ergo the tribalism. People are slowly stopping thinking for themselves, courtesy of that oh so handy four or five inch screen. Which has the additional downside of being about as secure as leaving your wallet on the sidewalk.

Which is why I have decided today not to buy another cellphone. I’m not in on-call tech support any more and I certainly do not want to be a mindless Google or twatter drone, which is all these social media addicts are. Anyone who knows me can get in touch any time via email or my home phone. If I’m out, then anyone who desires to hear my dulcet tones (I’m often told I have a nice voice) wafting into their ears will have to leave a message on my home phone. Maybe I’ll call them back. I’ve got other things to do first. Besides, I’ll be saving fifty bucks a month, or put more succinctly, six hundred bucks a year. Plus the cost of a phone, that’s well over nine hundred. Hell, I can almost buy two laptops for that. Or a few cases of decent wine. Which will give me far more pleasure.

As for being ‘out of the loop’ and therefore vulnerable to some great public harm, I respond thus; there is no messaging system that will save us in the event of a cataclysm. If say a nuclear war is declared, regardless of whether we own a cell phone or not we’ll be casualties, because if you’re too busy watching funny cat videos or a slappy video message from someone you met last year and can’t seem to get rid of, it’s lights out either way. I cite the old nuclear air raid sirens I grew up with during the cold war. Four minute warning? Four minutes only if you were lucky and had any time to do more than indulge in three minutes and fifty nine seconds of blind existential panic. In the recent Tusnami alert we could hear the sirens going off from three kilometres away and besides, our home is built on a decent bit of solid rock, we’re way above the Tsunami line. And if old Spoonbanger does manage to drop a big one on Seattle, hey we’re all toast anyway.

So I’ll leave Twatter and Farcebook alone. They’re nothing but vacuous echo chambers anyway. I have no use for them. Apart from something to point at and go WTF? occasionally.

Am I just being anti-social? An embittered old blogger railing against smarter (Guffaw), prettier people? Perhaps I’m simply expressing a preference for real life human contact, which, at least I think it is, far more conducive to improving my quality of life.

Earwigo again

“It was the worst of times, the best of times. the age of tech, was the age of feelz, the epoch of meme and trolling. It was the era of Pepe, the rise of Kek, the season of Autism, a spring of hope, the winter of lies.”

Which Dickens misquote (From the opening lines of a ‘Tale of Two Cities’) rather sums up how I feel about the online world at the moment. Either that or it’s the last vestiges of jet lag. It’s all academic anyway. All my ‘social media’ accounts are either deleted, dead, or weed strewn and abandoned.

Now we’re back in BC, in the not so frozen north the Trudeau government looks ever more like becoming a kind of soft fascist regime with it’s focus on Justin’s cult of popularity and the Liberals determination to control everything, including thought and speech. Which certainly ticks at least three boxes on the ‘Are you a fascist regime’ checklist. After hearing Justin’s performance at Davos, I’m thinking it might even be time to think about bailing out while the getting is good. I’ve also overheard people in the streets bitching about price increases and my eyes tell me they’re not far wrong. As for Trudeau, his sockpuppet popularity is slipping and no-one outside of Canada really takes him that seriously.

The trouble is with Canadian politics that there’s no statesman with enough balls to stand up to all the wishy washy PC crap which is driving a lot of really bad legislation. There’s no one who seems to want to stand up to all the vested protectionist interests and touchy feely bollocks prevalent in Canadian Society.

Anyway, non existent Tsunamis notwithstanding, I’m back flying a desk again and Mrs S has delegated a few tasks to me while my line of work is slack, of logging on and off this Worksafe BC malarkey for her. Despite me being less than thirty feet away, she is classed as a ‘lone worker’ and must be ‘protected’ by phoning in every four hours to an automated service that takes a monthly fee. According to the operational terms, if she misses a call, she’s supposed to get a callback by a human operator to see if she’s okay. Which doesn’t happen by the way, it’s a completely automated system which just calls back repeatedly, as we found out yesterday when I missed a check in. Some ‘protection’ eh? Mandated by a BC Government agency that won’t check out less safe work environments like up island logging operations. At least this is what Mrs S’s contacts tell her. Yet because she works from home, she must be ‘monitored’. Yeah, right. Because she’s ‘at risk’ of getting a paper cut or stubbing her toe at home within ten metres of a husband (Me) who has had proper medical training and real life experience of assisting in real emergencies and almost half a dozen means of calling for some form of assistance. Voice, cell phone, home phone, skype, email, as well as yours truly popping by every hour or two to make tea or coffee. So an automated callback system which doesn’t really do anything apart from ring off if there’s no response is, as I am wont to say, “the next best thing to useless.” But we have to have it by law. Or else we get fined. Is that ‘fair’? You tell me.

Another annoyance since I returned from the fabled land of Oz, is Google and my cell phone company being a pain. I’m not receiving calls or text messages despite my phone bill being paid up to date. Then Google wants to do stuff ‘to improve my security’ and every time it does, and every time I get on a plane, it fucks with my email. Which I resent. I have good security. I run VPNs, a full range of anti-virus, anti-spyware and change my email password intermittently. Yet still I have to put up with all their ‘security’ crap when I won’t let them know if I’m taking a figurative shit or not or which bathroom I’m using in which country. So Gmail has to go. All my accounts. Sorry guys, it’s been fun but it’s time for me to move on with all the other grown ups.

Given the aggravation with my cell phone, I’m also shopping for a new one as it looks like Canada will be shutting down the GSM network in 2018, leaving my old Nokia 6310 useless for anywhere within North America, but I’m also looking for a multi-Sim phone which isn’t Google dominated. Or at least lets me use non-Google services and apps. If my last remaining reader has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

A shadow on the soul

Over in the comments thread at ‘The Last Ditch‘ the subject was Solzhenitsyn, whose work I am currently revisiting, having been introduced to that author during my latter school days with ‘One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich‘. Tom, thoughtful gentleman that he is, warned me that too much reading of that particular nature makes for a ‘dark soul’ and introduced two authors he recommended as a counterpoint.

Now generally speaking, whenever I’m feeling a little gloomy I gravitate to my Terry Pratchett collection, or pick up some P J O’Rourke, Tom Holt, sometimes Peter Ackroyd or even the Satires of Juvenal, but I’m always willing to look at new sources from the lighter heart of literature. So, off to the library I will trot later this week for a scan of some John Irving or Haruki Murakami, to see if I like their style or not.

As for darkness, well, we all have a trace of that don’t we? At least, anyone who has stared down both barrels at life and noticed that the safety catch is most definitely off. It marks you, but then I’ve always tended toward the gloomy or stoic. With my family background I think I came ready stained, as it were.

But the question I’d like to raise is this; can reading really darken your soul, or do your literary choices simply reflect who you really are? Or is this just my jet lag still talking?