Tag Archives: Travel

All for vanity

Canada’s Prime Minister has just returned from swanning around Africa, brown nosing for votes to give Canada one of the currently vacant seats on the UN’s insecurity council. This is nothing more than a vanity project, especially when Canada is being brought to a grinding halt by little more than a handful of Tides-funded fake nations protesters. Now he wants to engage in a dialogue? Do I hear someone laughing? Soros, is that you? Again.

The majority of real first nations are standing on the sidelines going “WTF?” They want pipelines. They want prosperity. I get the sense that they’re very pissed off about these fake nations taking their name in vain.

The Police appear to have been given stand down orders because they do nothing when main highways and rail lines are blockaded, yet will arrest any public spirited citizens who attempt to clear up the mess. Then there are the handful of activists who blocked the Legislature in downtown Victoria. Not sure if they’re still there. Perhaps they’re lecture dodging.

Protests are fine, but physical blockades? No, that’s a step on the road to anarchy. Not acceptable. It could even be described as terrorism. Not that there’s any terror involved for anyone above the level of total wuss.

There’s something going on beneath the surface because even the politicians are getting harassed yet the RCMP and local cops are doing nothing apart from jumping on any people who object to the blockades. Or are the Canadian Police simply doing this in mute protest at being given a big ‘hands off’ by their superiors when it comes to these blockades? By their forced inaction are the lower ranks making a political statement about enforcement? As political as they are allowed to be that is. Maybe they’re so fed up that they’re going to let things go down to the wire. Or are their upper echelons so subsumed by PC culture that the rank and file are ordered not to intervene? I have no idea.

As far as the first nations are concerned, the RCMP are damned if they do and damned if they don’t so maybe they’re simply choosing the least worst option, at least as far as they are concerned. If the country’s economy is heading toward lockdown, they don’t care. Or at least they’re not being allowed to care.

All the time the Federal Government refuse to allow the Police to do their job. All because the vanity of Trudeau wants a seat on the UN Security council, thinking that a worthwhile achievement. Even if the country he is supposed to be head of is slipping into deeper economic trouble. Even if Trudeau’s mate and sponsor George says things will be fine. Well, perhaps fine for someone who profits from the economic chaos engendered by the many NGO’s his Tides foundation gives money to, but not so good for the ordinary Canadian in the street.

I know it’s not all Tides, there’s the Rockefeller foundation and a few others as well as the Saudi’s funding these anti-oil NGO’s. The Saudi’s because they want to keep selling their oil to Canada, Rockefeller and similar US interests because the oil sands directly compete with their interests. Funding these NGO’s is just business, even if it does sabotage Alberta, and by proxy the rest of Canada.

For an informed commentary of what is currently going on, see video below. Max Bernier is right. It is a circus, and all for vanity.

On a personal front, life and work trundle on. These blockades will have little direct effect on me personally because my commute to work measures under ten metres to my windows on the world of finance and business. Which as far as Canada is concerned, look a bit sick. The Trump inspired USA continues to boom with no underlying issues that might cause a step change in the markets. Which is good for me because most of the companies I invest in have significant cross border interests.

The pound is stable, trading up on it’s pre-January 31st value despite the failure of the EU to be even remotely sensible when trying to strike a post Brexit trade deal. The EU want it all their own way and have no real idea about how to handle a proper negotiation. They want something but don’t seem to want to give anything substantial in return. Which will be the EU’s downfall. The UK holds all the aces. Links to global markets, restored fisheries, a veritable queue of negotiating teams including the USA lining up at the door. The EU is still working on the failed model of central banks, imploding economies and quantitative easing.

The only thing that can go wrong for the UK is if Bojo embraces the Green policies being discussed and sends the UK down a fiscal rabbit hole. HS2? Rail links? How very 19th Century. Never mind trying to power them with more wind farms and (derisive snort) solar farms in a cooling climatic phase. Better by far to go down the route of small scale nuclear and hydro than ‘renewables’.

Perhaps it is worth mentioning that Hydro power on a small scale can have the secondary benefit of local flood management whilst churning out stable base load, as well as being able to react quickly to upticks in demand. There are quite a few old UK mill sites that could have their networks of sluices and ponds rebuilt and a modest turbine installed. There’s also the possible added benefit of running trout farms in the mill ponds. Food and power together? Now there’s a project worth considering.

Trying to run a nation on whizzy little battery cars powered by wind and solar ‘renewables’ won’t do any good. Renewables are simply inadequate for farming or industrial use, apart from for subsidy farming. For useful power generation there’s just not enough energy density, even with the up and coming generation of battery technology. Better, and much cheaper to invest in Internet bandwidth, cabling and local distribution hubs. Now there’s an enabling 21st century technology that works. And it’s relatively cheap and flexible compared to building and maintaining railways.

If like me, your desk is at home, all you need to do is log on, hook up your comms and you’re away. Which is what I do. No scabby trains or traffic jams. No aggravation from thoughtless soccer moms or texting titheads. Add to that the advantage of not having to share an office with people I don’t really like or trust. Win-win I think.

Travel plans for 2020 are Southern Ireland this Autumn for a couple of months where we have rented a cottage in the South so that friends and family can pop over for a visit. The flights and accommodation are all now paid for, with a short hotel stay in Dublin for when we stumble thoroughly jet lagged off the plane yet to be organised. Oh my aching wallet. Car hire has yet to be booked and I’m not sure what will happen to my Lemon tree plants while we’re away, but I’m sure they’ll cope.

So, the game’s afoot and we will be gracing the Emerald Isle with out dubious presence this year.

Could be interesting.

Coronovirus 2019 nCoV

Right. Have been trying to keep up with the news from China etc regarding this new end of the world scenario. This time in the form of a possible lab mutated Flu virus. Among all the fake news and conspiracy theory stuff there is so much conflicting information. We have confirmed cases in Toronto and Vancouver, some have been reported from the US. And almost every seasonal cough and sneeze seems to be attributed to it. This is a happy time for hypochondriacs. For a slightly more downbeat report, see below.

This is not to downplay the situation. This is a nasty bug with a reported 2% mortality rate. Compare that against 80,000 deaths in the USA alone during cold and flu season 2017-18. Not to mention the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, and the fuss over SARS. Again from the far east, the ‘bird flu’ and Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV, another Coronovirus) pandemics were considered serious threats which then burned out.

Out here on the Pacific rim we’ve got a big Chinese community and lots of active links direct into Vancouver from Beijing and environs. Chinese New Year events are being cancelled over here. West Vancouver won’t happen. Distribution of Chinese movies has been affected. So if you’re a fan of far east action flicks, you might have a bit of a wait. Hong Kong Chinese New Year celebrations have been cancelled, partly because of the continuing protests, now with the added impetus of infection. Looks like the year of the rat will be sneaking in very quietly.

For myself I’m not worried. My antibodies should be active enough as Mrs S and I had a nasty Coronovirus flu type infection in November 2019, so are less likely to contract a variant. This not to say we won’t catch it, but our respective immune systems should have enough active antibodies to successfully fight it off.

We also have no plans for transatlantic travel until September this year. So no infection risk from being crammed in an alloy tube for ten hours with another 2-300 people breathing their contagions into a semi closed cycle air conditioning system. However, a prolonged trip to Ireland for September / October is in train and we’re going to book our flights this week. We’re also looking at long term car hire in the Emerald Isle for around two months. So if anyone has any suggestions, we’ll be glad to hear them.

Update: There’s a lot of conflicting information coming out and very little clarity. The updated death rate has gone up to 4% in Wuhan, but from what I gather about the seat of infection, the whole release was a massive cock-up on the part of the lab where the Viral agent was being studied. Now of course it’s in the wild, what happens next is anyone’s guess. Canada doesn’t seem too concerned as screening appears minimal. Hong Kong on the other hand has shut down all train travel between it and the rest of China.

See below for a peculiarly Canadian take on this issue. Amongst others.

On the wagon

I’ve given up alcohol for a while. I’m on the wagon, but will be skipping merrily off it at a juncture of my own choosing. Not because I’ve been hectored into it by any campaign or other, but just because I wanted to. Just to make sure I’m seeing the world as it is without any chemicals fogging things up and to give my taste buds a time out. After four more weeks, perhaps less, I will resume my habitual imbibing of a modest whiskey every other evening or perchance a glass or two of Malbec, Carmenere or Cabernet Sauvignon to end the working day.

Which might beg the question do I want to live forever? To which I would answer, no, I’d only get bored. Variety is life’s spice, and drinking all the time is like permanent sobriety, it’s okay, but gets a bit tedious after a while. A little wine is good for you anyway, and permanent sobriety has been proven not. Alcofrolic beverages might not be the elixir of immortality, but a glass of three don’t half take the edge off the worst that living can throw your way.

What else? Lemon Tree plants looking good, the tallest has just topped thirty inches tall with lovely green waxy leaves. Mrs S and I are going to Ireland this September for a while and are busily booking our big time out. Our tax advisers are discussing possible tax exile with us and stepkids are making plans to come stay whilst we’re in the emerald isle. Things proceed.

Our festive season was relatively quiet, with only the existential sound of elderly friends marbles slowly continuing their rattle out of her head. Poor old thing has now completely lost track of what day it is and has taken to phoning us at all hours because she’s not even sure of what time of the day it is, or even that we live over a hundred kilometres away and not on the next floor down in her care home, which we will never be. Which can get a bit disconcerting. She’s not how she used to be and we’re getting resigned to the probability that she won’t see out the year. Such is life. Sure as it begins, thus it must end.

On that topic of lives ending, am watching how the big man down south is handling the ever-present irritation of Iranian sponsored terrorism. The news that he’d had the head of yet another terrorist organisation droned brought a grim smile to my face and the word “Good.” Popped into my forebrain. Mrs S of course, was concerned with the inevitable terrorist backlash. However, a head has been cut off the Hydra. No doubt it will regrow at some stage, weaker, but still there. It took Solemani from 1988 to build up his current network of militias. That’s right, over thirty years of misery for the Iranians and their neighbours at his hands.

This is why we put mad dogs down. They can’t bite any more when they’re dead. His owners might be all of a lather and threatening dire things, now their attack dogs pack leader has been put down I have a sense that a cold wind is blowing through their spavined souls. Trump has drawn his line in the sand. The attack on the US Embassy in Iraq was the impetus. It was a direct assault on US territory under international law, and the Iranian organisers therefore put themselves at direct hazard. Not that they’re all that popular in Iran.

There are rumours circulating from Iran of brutally suppressed protests and internal economic woes that are nothing to do with the USA and more to the fact that the current ruling elite of Iran aren’t as clever as they might think. That and it should be plain to them that they’re not dealing with Obama now. No more Danegeld. No more payoffs. Hunker in your bunker boys, because you just stepped over the line.

This version of ‘The Great Satan’ has decided to react to the Iranian regimes serial provocations, regardless of the fact that Russia and China say they have Iran’s back. They know the Iranians have gone too far, but will be content to sell them the arms while quietly backing away into the shadows. Say what you like about the Russians and Chinese, but they are not stupid. It doesn’t matter how many cocaine-addled celebrities want to ‘apologise’ to the Iranians. World War Three isn’t going to happen because the casus belli isn’t strong enough.

There might be a stand off, but Trump’s a savvy negotiator and I don’t think will blindly send more US forces into harms way without good reason. He’ll target the top dogs and send over a few GBU-57A/B‘s. There aren’t that many of these bunker busters in the US stockpile so I’m told, but it won’t take many. I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t three or four already in theatre ready for a decapitation strike if necessary. Then there are the drones like the one that took out Solemani. Yet the average Iranian (or Iraqi, or whatever) in the street is not the enemy. It’s the extreme regimes. Get rid of them and the conflict goes away, kind of. Although as Mahyar Tousi points out, it’s not all black and white.

Still watching the Brexit situation from afar, and I still think no-deal is the default. The EU have faffed and fumed pointlessly while Bojo, the UK’s suspiciously unclowninsh Prime Monster holidayed on the Caribbean Island of Mustique, once favourite haunt of the late Princess Margaret and other celebrities. I think he’s going to sit on his hands and go full WTO at the end of January so the EU will lose that billion a month of taxpayer pound sterling they’ve been hoovering up so happily. Someone, somewhere in the EU infrastructure is going to have to think about reigning in their expense accounts. Having watched their privileged antics from the sidelines in Paris and elsewhere, I can’t help thinking that the EU pigs are watching the trough dry up and are panicking a little.

Terrorist leaders waxed? BREXIT happens? I’m beginning to like 2020 already.

The London Cough

Excuse me, I will be brief. Am currently suffering from what I am calling ‘The London Cough’, an unspecified ailment caused by excessive catarrh build up at the back of the throat. It begins with a rather unpleasant hacking cough, accompanied by repeated feverish episodes that doesn’t follow the normal pattern of a seasonal cold. Usual cold and cough medication barely touches it. Just when You’ve got to feeling somewhere near normal and you’re no longer coughing up dark green chunks, along comes another bout. Not to mention the disruption of sleep which is further debilitating to the point where only repeated naps of up to two hours each are possible. Five days of this so far (Add on top of normal sleep deprivation from jet lag as we’re back in BC now) leading to an overall malaise that makes you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck.

This malady is not quite Flu, as there are no real aches, and the fever comes in short bouts, just like having one cold after another. Very curious, but also debilitating. Mrs S was first to catch it, four days before we were due to fly out and I two days after. Thus our flight back to BC was punctuated by hacking from others so afflicted. Wonderful in flight entertainment, not. Or should that be snot?

See you when I’m feeling human once more.

Steak!

I love a good steak. Which is great because steak restaurants are big in London right now. All sorts of ‘Gaucho’ type restaurants are in vogue, some where they give you a large chunk of hot stone upon which you can literally cook your own piece of beef to your idea of perfection and others where they serve a particular cut, medium rare, or should that be medium raw.

Notwithstanding, the customer service I have experienced in all of these has been little short of excellent. The quality of beef though, perhaps not as great as I’d hoped. Living in Canada as I do, the quality of steak cuisine is very good, from the on-a-budget version at a Denny’s roadside eatery to more upmarket fare, I have rarely been disappointed but for one thing, there is a cut of beef that knocks every other for six no matter how barely it is cooked. It is not often served on our side of the pond and unlike cuts I have now come to regard as inferior, can be had at a lower price. Possibly because your average Canadian consumer has yet to recognise true quality of this ‘butchers cut’. They’ll happily sink their teeth into the much chewier Rib-eye, but offer them the piece of flesh I refer to and like as not they’ll turn their noses up at it.

The piece of meat I refer to is called a ‘Flat iron’ steak and I have yet to eat its peer from any breed of cattle. Cut from the inside of the shoulder blade on a forequarter, this particular bit of muscle has an entirely different texture and flavour to any other. Firstly, texture. A flat iron steak has an almost buttery feel in the mouth, it almost melts, even when almost tartare. The grain of the meat runs longditudinally from end to end, not cross grained as with most other cuts. Properly butchered there will be no tough membranous tissue which sometimes mars the wonderful saliva inducing mellowness of this cut. Next, flavour. Mass market beef can be a bit of a flavour desert, not so the flat iron. It has a more pronounced beefiness combined with it’s splendid texture, a taste that might have you wondering why the hell you’d want to eat any other part of a steer.

The best news of all is that there is a chain of restaurants in London which specialise in this cut, serving it a little too rare for my liking, but the butchery was good and despite the redness of the meat, slipped down a treat. Did I also mention that they’re also not as expensive as most of the ‘Gaucho’ style steak houses? A full flat iron steak will feed two hungry meat lovers, even if I would have liked a little larger portion (and hotter) of their Horseradish sauce. Their creamed spinach too is enough to restore a badly Bluto battered Popeye and put a twinkle in his eye that his paramour, Olive Oyle, could not mistake.

Now I don’t do shout outs like this often, if at all, but if you want to get away from the fancy stuff masquerading as food whilst in the UK’s capital, you could do worse than visit one of the nine (At the time of writing) “Flat Iron” franchises dotted around town. First come first served. Expect to queue. Don’t forget your dessert. (Oh, the calories, the calories!)

Unless of course you have the misfortune to be a vegetarian, or worse still, vegan. Then I am afraid there is no hope for you. You poor thing.

BTW: No one really ‘hates’ vegans, vegetarians or other diet obsessives as claimed in the Grauniad.  The rest of us find the endless proselytising somewhat tiresome, even annoying, but no-one really hates them.  For example, one of my stepdaughters is a ‘fish vegetarian’ (Won’t eat meat but will eat eggs and fish).  Which I find curious but hardly a Casus belli.  To truly hate someone over their chosen diet would be to say that the matter was worth taking seriously.  Chacun a son gout.

Another day out

Good old rainy London. Gave my new raincoat a thorough testing today. Wandered around Covent Garden and environs sampling pleasures and tastes while dodging the drizzle tainted crowds. Mrs S directed our steps into a couple of expensive venues I would normally never go anywhere near. For example one of the top rated patisseries in London.

Well colour me impressed. The coffee was excellent. Heavy on the Italian influence rather than the bitter American. Quiche that was divine, and as for the Sachertorte, that was light and melted in the mouth rather than leave you feeling like you are chewing stodge, as happens with so many mass produced versions. Exquisite. I’d had an indifferent pint of IPA earlier, so perhaps I was ready for some quality.

We’ve had a deal of discussions with family and friends of late where the discussion has centred around quality stuff and why it’s worth the price. Reason one; longevity. A really good pair of boots will last ten times as long as a much cheaper pair. Why a good quality suit is a good investment (Buy two, with extras if you can – looking smart is never a bad idea) Nice cotton shirts feel better and last longer. M & S basics more comfortable than the cheap stuff from Primark. A little more spent on the basics means you can go cheap on the accessories.

Anyway, I’m standing outside one store on the Kings Road and an expensive car snorted past. Then another and another. People were walking past me in expensive clothes and a thought hit me. Rather a large thought about the economics of everyday life. It made perfect sense and for a few seconds all the dots lined up, I saw the entirety of human economic activity in action and why free markets really do work.

Every single one of us is connected by a massive web of transactions, be those social, emotional or financial. From the single jet of a fountain to the massive money machine that is the City of London, which in turn is connected to all the other major centres all over the world.

Let me enlarge. The single fountain jet provides social value because as humans we like to look at flowing water, it calms and stimulates us, therefore it has worth. However the fountain jet needs water and power to create that worth. These are not free, the power to drive the water has value, as has the water itself, it needs to be sourced, transported through a network of pipes with a lot of other water. The pipes through which the water flows need to be manufactured, channels dug through the ground for them, the complex net of pumps and storage to maintain an even pressure. All of these need human effort and intervention.

Then there’s the electricity that powers these networks created by investment in power plants made out of millions of complex components from heat exchangers and steam handling technology to the massive transformers and circuit breakers which manage the power output (For the sake of brevity I’m excluding ‘renewables’ here, just talking about base load generation). All of which has to be funded and made by finance. Money must be made, credit obtained to pay for the intricate web of costs that underlie even the simplest nut and bolt. Part of what I do as an investor is loan money to larger companies so that they may pay for new machinery to build and maintain those power plants and networks of water pipes. Which kind of brings me round in a circle to the pleasing spectacle of the fountain jet.

Therefore I posit that anything in motion consumes and creates energy and energy is a function of life. Likewise the market of life is in constant motion. Each of us, is whether we like it or not, is interconnected through diverse voluntary transactions to everything else in this world. Thousands of times a day. Every time we step out of the door. Every leaf swept, every drop of rain cleared, everything man made has multiple costs from the parts of a leaf blower and the parts needed to make the machines which make parts for leaf blowers. The credit and finance to pay that cost has to be raised by financial institutions which are the money machine we are all part of, from the beggar hunkered down outside the supermarket to the flash git in his Maserati posing down the street. Sometimes the chains are not obvious, but they are there nonetheless.

Isn’t this a fascinating world we live in?

Update: Tearful phone conversation with Eldest who dwells in the fabled land of Oz. Long term boyfriend just walked out on her, the idiot. That is all.

Getting kitted

Mrs S got me into a store yesterday. I’ve been half heartedly looking for a new raincoat, but some of the prices for what I wanted were somewhat eye-watering. Almost seventeen hundred dollars for a classic Aquascutum? Wowch. So I’d been dodging the issue.

So when she saw the Barbour store on Regents street I was hustled in and forced to act as tailors dummy. They did have a cattlemans full length coat I was a little tempted by, but we decided to postpone a decision for after lunch as they only had it in one rather unpleasant colour. Yes we could have bought online, but that’s not the same experience. So we asked the assistant to put it by and promised to return after a Moroccan style lunch.

The capital streets currently seem calm and busy with tourists, mostly from Europe and South America, at least on the Tube. Piccadilly and environs were their usual self, with little of the outrage and shenanighans we’d been led to expect. As I said to Youngest’s friends over dinner last night, I thought the old place was better than I remembered it from the late 90’s. People politer, air much cleaner but just as rainy. Hence the need for much improved outdoor wear.

After lunch it was back to the store with Youngest as fashion adviser who took one look at proposed purchase and firmly shook her head. “It’s too much” was her judgement. So we cast around for something a little more reasonable and ended up with a slightly more expensive, but equally robust item. Oh, and a heavy felt Trilby. I like hats like Trilby’s or Akubra’s, they give the face a certain framing and keep most of the inclement weather out of your eyes. Also when you’re like me and hairdressers start to charge search fees, they are a comfort. Not to mention having a certain cachet, marking one out as either a gentleman or arrant rascal. Depending upon how it is worn.

Barbour have long held a reputation for being like armour plate. A man’s jacket, for example, takes quite a long time to wear in properly and get that traditional battered look they were famous for, so much so that one impatient fashion victim reputedly got a friend to wrap his brand new Barbour around a Land Rover’s bull bars for a few days heavy off-roading. After which time the garment had gained a little ‘patina’ and the look of a real outdoorsman’s garment (Looking like it had been dragged through blackthorn hedges for years and used as a bed for two incontinent Lurchers and several litters of kittens). Thus adding to the owners street, or should I say field-credibility.

Anyway, the Brexit clock is still ticking because although an extension was requested as required by the Benn act, the EU has yet (At the time of writing) to approve. I think the public mood has been over stimulated with project fear and that the only thing that will mar the air on the day the UK finally leaves is an huge sigh of “About bloody time too.”

Wandering about

Today we’ve been ambling amiably around the V & A, taking tea surrounded by the sumptuous sculptures of tyrants long gone with the epic line of poetry; “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, look on my works ye mighty and despair. Nothing beside remains…” echoing around what passes for my cognitive processes. Was going to spend the day in the National Science Museum, but it was full of kids, it being half term. So I elected to wait until next week for that small pleasure.

Otherwise feeling a little gloomy because no matter what we do or say, Elderly Friend, safely in her upmarket Canadian care home, is convinced we aren’t ever coming back to Canada, claiming we have abandoned her. As the days pass we get reports that she’s getting get worse and worse, with ever more of her brain shutting down on the gradual journey into the long night.

We write postcards every day, we send messages saying; “See you when we get home”, nothing seems to make a difference, Elderly Friends short term memory will not encode new information, no matter how many times she is reminded, or how many messages are glued to her apartment wall. Sometimes we get a small respite, but no doubt our voicemail will be filled with increasingly angry and frustrated messages when we get home. We’ll just have to roll with it as it happens.

It doesn’t help that the people we asked to keep an eye on her just aren’t ready to cope with what we’ve been handling for months. So it’s middle of the night emails disturbing our otherwise blessed repose and Mrs S is showing the strain after only a week. As if they want us to fly all the way back across the Atlantic right now to ride to the rescue. Not gonna happen folks. We’ve earned this break and anyone who wants to sabotage it will find our email firmly switched off. We have done our bit and can do no more.

Nothing beside remains…. Just a case of doing our own thing whilst matters beyond our control progress. Preparations are in place for the worst case scenario, which seems to be approaching with the speed of an express train. All we can do is wait.

Sometimes I catch myself offering up a dark little prayer for her merciful demise. “Please God, give her an easy death. Soon.” The person we loved has already left us and we must steel ourselves for the outpourings we know will come from her relatives when her body shuts down.

At least there’s plenty of London to wander around.

Londinium again

Touched down and still a little jet lagged but quite enjoying the environs of Kensington and Chelsea with an afternoon bloggers meetup with Tom Paine of The Last Ditch and Leggy from Underdogs bite upwards. Two gentlemen whose intellects left me a little giddy. Or was that just my jet lag? I don’t know. Very enjoyable afternoons talk.

Liked Tom’s idea about travel books. I reckon he should do a series of them. Such as “Tom Paine’s America” Subtitled; ‘one man and a Ferrari go in search of the real USA’. He could do the same for Europe and Russia, as he has travelled extensively in those regions.

Work however, has me starting with a new accounting package, which means I haven’t quite thrown my laptop across the room in frustration, but the temptation is there. Hell of a time to engage on a steep learning curve, but I hear that one of my organisations other divisions has already refused to use this package as structured, so they’ve given it to me to iron out the data entry bugs. Oh for heavens sake! I’m supposed to be on holiday! Grr.

My sense of frustration has been somewhat alleviated by the entertaining spectacle of several Extinction Rebellion idiots getting a righteous kicking from angry London tube commuters. Good, these XR people need a few hard lessons for giving everyone else a hard time. Especially when the real science is against them.

The problem is that the fashionable science regarding climate change XR derive their panic from is unproven and only derived from incomplete mathematical climate models. I’ve seen several credible sources analyse the IPCC report and associated outpourings and their conclusions are totally different from what the climate modellers and XR claim.

The more empirically correct version of climate science is undecided as to the cause, but does not agree that climatic variation is man made, or even anything to do with carbon dioxide. As I’ve said before, we’ve suffered from all of these prognostications of doom from the climate modellers for over fifty years and not a single one has come true. So I am refusing to curtail my travel simply because some eccentrics have got a bee in their bonnet over matters they palpably do not understand.

Saturday promises to be interesting because I will be around Wastemonster visiting various sights and will give any protesters who attempt to bar my path very short shrift. “Excuse me, thank you -byeee” kind of thing. I’m a tourist. A sights to see, places to go, not interested, TTFN attitude. Might even be fun. Might even see the outcome of the BREXIT vote in real time. Who knows?

Got to dash. Meetings with daughter and a decent curry await.

Final pack

Travel days are coming and I’m packed and even more ready than Mrs S, who is fiddling around with the fine detail before we board the great tin bird which will, providence willing, bring us to not so sunny old Londinium for a long overdue break, even if it is in many respects a working holiday.

Today is larder emptying day, and I’m using up the last fresh ingredients before shutting down the kitchen this evening. Tonights repast will be a revisitation of a Cajun remoulade, ingredients below;

A quarter of a large Red Pepper (Fresh Red cabbage can be substituted if no peppers)
Half a stalk of Celery
One Green (Spring) Onion
A quarter cup of fresh Parsley (Not dried)
Half a cup of full on Mayonnaise
Half a cup of full fat Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche (Creme Fraiche is best)
Two heaped teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
Two heaped teaspoons of Horseradish
A shake or two of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
A shake or two of Tabasco
Two heaped teaspoons of Paprika
Four heaped teaspoons of crushed Tomatoes or two medium size tomatoes
A third of a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper.

However, because I’m clearing out the last of the fresh stuff, said recipe has been amended to a very satisfactory simplified green version;

Half a large Red onion
five stalks of Celery
A quarter cup of fresh Parsley (Not dried)
Half a cup of full on Mayonnaise
Half a cup of full fat Sour Cream
Two heaped teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
Two heaped teaspoons of Horseradish
A shake or three of Tabasco
1 home grown green Habanero pepper with seeds removed

Just throw it all in the liquidiser and let rip until you have a smoothish sauce. First taste tests indicate that it’s not so hot in the mouth as it’s predecessor. However, the remoulade is tasty and satisfyingly viscous. Might benefit from a squirt of Lime juice, might not. Tonight I shall be serving some with fried Pork steaks and Broccoli mash with garlic butter as I’ve given up on starchier vegetables. My waistline is thanking me for it.

So, tickets and bookings are paid for. Sterling Banking facilities are set. New cell phone in hand. This time tomorrow we’re off and running.

No doubt the desperate anti-Brexit crowd and doltish Extinction Rebellion people will block our path at some stage, but we’ll cross those mildly awkward bridges when we come to them. If push comes to shove there are plenty of decent pubs within short walking distance of our lodgings.

Who told you that?

Which is an exceedingly good question to put to the anxiety prone hand wavers one comes across from time to time. Who, with any real credibility, is saying that the world is going to burn up in eighteen months and what is their agenda. And who says leaving the EU will lead to everything in the UK grinding to a sad and inevitable halt? ‘Activists’ who are all sound and fury, the idiots who have become their own tales, that’s who.

Mrs S and I were discussing this today on a short drive out to the mall. The consensus between us was that all the “We’re all doomed!” faction are a bunch of ignoramuses who believe all the cultish nonsense they’re fed. I believe that no force on earth can stop a man with a true righteous hunger (a.k.a Deus impeditio esuritori nullus), and hunger is what these milquetoast radicals lack. All they have is the vapid echoes of clickbait media releases funded by rich bastards who feed off the stock exchange instabilities the activists create by blocking streets and wasting everybody’s time. The fact that some of these activisty types have been raided by the Met, who have reportedly taken some pink cushions into custody, indicates that these few nonsense merchants have peaked. Especially after that hilariously mismanaged incident with the decommissioned fire engine (See video below).

They’re not only wrong, they’re completely inept as well.

Notwithstanding the above, we were both getting a touch of cabin fever after almost a week without seeing the outside of our little domicile. We also haven’t had a real holiday since last year and need some different air to stay sane. The rain has been enough to keep me out of the saddle and the speed traps have been out in force over this last week. So, instead of picking up speeding tickets, we got out of the house to do a little peoplewatching and see what the rest of humanity in our little corner of BC was up to. To which the answer was, not a lot. Just the usual.

I’m all packed for London and will be making contact with friends and (gasp!) family while I’m there. It’s absolutely true. Two of my family members are actually deigning to travel down to the smoke to see their cousin and sibling (Me). Good gravy, whatever next? What are they really up to? Normally they wouldn’t even cross the road to piss down my throat if my lungs were on fire. Something is up. As in balloon going. I know my clan, to paraphrase the words of Edward Young “They ne’er take tea without a strategem”. I have a suspicion I’ll need my lawyer on speed dial. Might not be such a bad idea to put a London brief on retainer.

Which only leaves me wondering as follows; will BREXIT really happen on time like Bojo the suspiciously unclownish UK Prime Minister says? Or will the Scottish courts go on obstructing, creating legislation on the fly? BTW; Scottish law is slightly, but markedly, different to English law. Which is something the Blair-created ‘supreme court’ seems to be forgetting. Ho hum, less than two weeks to the nineteenth. Tick tock.

As for here across the pond, I think the Canadian populace knows what it needs to do on the 21st, but whether they will kick the corrupt and hypocritical Trudeau and his Liberals far enough out remains to be seen because Scheer, the Tory leader is so damned wet and cut from a similar cloth. Will the conservatives upend the vote, or will the Greens and PPC make inroads? I see few clues. Locally there are few, if any lawn signs on private properties in our neighbourhood and the political doorknockers haven’t yet wheezed up the steep bit of the hill where we live. although my vote is already promised to the local PPC candidate. Can’t speak for Mrs S, she’s always been her own woman, although I suspect she’ll be voting blue.

Small home truths

Barbecued steak day yesterday. I had a nice slab in the freezer and we were tired of chicken, so Mrs S and I dined on flat-iron steak with a nice green salad. Our fifty buck propane barbecue has been doing sterling service, and there’s something of a cachet to cooking outdoors. The steak was ably washed down with a nice 2015 Argentinian Rioja. A little tingly in the mouth, but which slipped down as slickly as silk knickers. Very nice.

While the meat was cooking I dead headed carnations and inspected our other plants. The Pansies I fear, are past their best, but that’s life, isn’t it? The bad news is that my planted Sweet William has been strangled by the Pansies. Well we can’t have that. A trial has been held, guilty verdict returned and sentence carried out. Replanting will be required. May the Lord have mercy on their wretched little souls.

Further on the downside, a nasty shock greeted me in my email inbox this morning. A booking that we made back in February for our forthcoming London visit was arbitrarily cancelled by our hotel booking service. No reason, just a “Your booking has been cancelled” message, which left me struggling for replacement accommodation in the smoke. A family conference was immediately convened and the situation resolved. To be honest, there’s been something nagging at my hindbrain for the last couple of months that was saying “This isn’t Kosher” about that specific booking, so it’s nice to see my instincts vindicated yet again. Anyway, within two hours travel plans were adapted, new accommodation booked and we were back on track for our original dates for Autumn 2019. Might even get to watch the fireworks for Guy Fawkes night before we leave. I may even have saved five hundred bucks, so, swings and roundabouts. We’re all good on that front. Major league kudos incidentally to booking.com.

We’re also being plagued by mystery booming noises. About seven so far this morning. Probably sonic booms from the USAF going supersonic over the Pacific, maybe meteors coming in overhead but definitely not construction, that has a different sound altogether. The low pitched booming noises we’ve been hearing have been quite loud enough to rattle my office windows. So I checked the seismograph feeds, just in case there was an earthquake, but no. Couldn’t be meteors, as the Eta Aquarids were in early May and the Perseids aren’t due until August. So it’s probably some kind of supersonic aircraft out of Puget Sound Naval base. Boom-boom.

What else? Bitchute has been playing up of late. Video’s wouldn’t play and a few people were saying that the platform might be under attack, others that the increased traffic necessitated a major upgrade. Which if true is no surprise. Bitchute is rapidly becoming a refuge for those video creators YouTube don’t want. Or that Alphabet Inc (Owners of Google, YouTube etc) think their advertisers don’t want. The truth is that Alphabet want anodyne. Alphabet want ‘safe’, inoffensive. Funny cat and dog video’s. Which is where they think the money is, but that isn’t the content their market was built on. That was built by the very unsafe citizen journalist vloggers, comedians, gamers and commentators. It’s like watching a company that fires it’s top earning people for no good reason then watch the board stand around wondering where all those lovely profits went.

Although in Alphabet’s defence it’s common knowledge that online platforms, some advertisers and even credit card companies have come under pressure from certain activist media outlets, partially because said media outlets get money for pushing a certain world-view to rid YouTube etc of it’s most engaging voices, partly just to see the world burn. It’s also true that legacy media is increasingly under even more financial pressure from the new media, like the citizen journalists and gamers of YouTube. Now these ‘professional’ media types see all the advertisers paying what they see as their much sought after moolah to a bunch of upstarts who, horror of horrors, never went to journalism school. What must sting even more is legacy media watching advertisers paying these upstarts for poking fun at legacy media misrepresentations, bias and omissions, leaving the mainstreams credibility more full of holes than a good Emmental cheese. All the time the mainstream have been scrabbling for eyeballs they could sell to advertisers whilst watching their ratings sink like a torpedoed cruise liner. So the advertisers have been quietly cutting their legacy media spending, because what’s the point of advertising on a platform whose best days are long behind it? YouTube will follow. Personally, I’d sell my Alphabet Inc stock while the value is still relatively good. The market has peaked. Time for some serious profit taking before the crunch comes.

The penny is currently dropping like a rock that the relentless output of left leaning media, with it’s deranged hatred of all things heterosexual and north European is deeply unattractive to much of the eveyday public. As a result CNN has become a shrinking market. As are most of the main cable and digital news platforms, apart from the much maligned Fox News, who are smart enough to see which way the wind is blowing. For the rest, mass redundancies are becoming the order of the day. Huffington Post, Vox etc are all feeling the pinch.

Tim Pool has an interesting take on what’s going on.

In a bid to kill off the competition in the vain hope those straying consumer eyeballs will somehow come back to them, certain media outlets have resorted to using underhand tactics to silence anyone who isn’t them, because frankly me deario’s, many YouTubers have been effortlessly waxing the bums of the self appointed journalistic classes. People like CNN have been losing viewer ratings big time and desperate money men will have given out orders to shut down these upstart YouTubers by fair means or foul. Since these people don’t really do fairness, they have gone straight for the low foul tackle. Play the man, not the ball. Don’t present evidence or have a debate, that’s boring. Just go for the juicy Ad Hominem. Libel those unable to defend themselves. Sell the drama of Nazi’s behind every bush, which is a strange thing to do because there just aren’t enough real ‘Nazi’s’ to go around. Then apply the tactic of accuse, accuse, accuse, ‘expose’ with no real evidence, ‘out’ or Doxx, making people’s personal lives public so selectively that even Christopher Robin might look like Satan incarnate. Imagine such a headline; “Christopher Robin parties with animals – scandals of the hundred acre wood exposed” with some salacious insinuations about paedophilia, honey pots and bestiality in the first two paragraphs, the clickbait headline of which would be subsequently contradicted in the last lines of the headlined article. Which most people wouldn’t read as far as without suffering a bad attack of WTF! Then the story gets passed on in a game of Chinese whispers which only present the accusations as fact, not the original clickbait titled story in full. So the lie travels and the outrage machine roars into life.

You might think that this all sounds a bit tin foil hat, but I can cite at least six real live people whose well-meaning contact with the mainstream media has seriously screwed with their lives. Ergo, I don’t trust ‘Journalists’. One of the few pieces of wisdom my Dad imparted to me that stuck was “Don’t believe all that you read in the papers”. This would seem to be ever more apt as the blatant spin and news management has even polluted the pages of the Financial Times. Excuse me chums, I pay my FT subscription for hard information, not for some affectioned time-pleasers half baked opinion.

Of course the politicians go along because they need the media mouthpiece to get them votes so they can keep, in the immortal words of Mel Brooks’ corrupt William J LePetomane in Blazing Saddles “Their phoney-baloney jobs.” Which is why left of centre politicians are so keen to shut anyone with a ‘non-mainstream’ viewpoint down. They get their airtime from grateful legacy media platforms. It does not matter that otherwise innocent people end up getting defamed and even thrown in jail for ‘hate speech’ (Which is being defined by some very thin skinned individuals) Who cares? Gimme, gimme, gimme.

Stuff it. It’s too nice a day not to go riding. TTFN

Having second thoughts

We are currently booked and paid for to visit London, UK in Autumn 2019. Nothing much, we’re going to spend a little quality time with ‘North’ (Younger stepdaughter) in the great metrollops and go do some sightseeing. Only the current Police crackdown, where they are doing the whole facial recognition fascist thing has me thinking twice. Arresting otherwise law abiding people for getting annoyed at being scanned without permission? That and they’re confiscating spoons for heavens sakes. I’ve just seen a triumphant tweet from London Police of a ‘deadly weapons cache’ that looks like the contents of my cutlery drawer before I had a clear out last year. I swear this picture of a ‘weapons cache’ had a butter knife and a spoon in it, FFS! All right, there was a fencing foil in amongst the edged kitchen tools on display, but that had a fencing button on the tip and might have put someone’s eye out if they were very, very unlucky / clumsy. I bet most of those other bits of metal weren’t all that sharp, rather like the arresting officers.

Jesus H Freaking Christ on a Velocipede! I used to be part of the UK law enforcement ‘community’ as a lowly bylaw enforcement officer, but right at present any trust of the UK Police on my part has been eroded to the point of nothingness. You can even be arrested for telling jokes for heavens sake! Or questioned for holding the ‘wrong’ opinions. After that some bozo in black will probably make an excuse to rummage through your kitchen drawers and try to make a case for terrorism. “All right chummy. Yore nicked! Slice your own bread do you? Right! You’re under arrest for conspiracy to make sandwiches.” Dear God alive. Does anyone understand how retarded that sort of behaviour makes them look? God knows what they’d make of my Sabatier and Sushi knife collection. Probably accuse me of a massive conspiracy to cook a casserole.

Honestly at this juncture I’m actually becoming more afraid of the UK Police than any criminal I might happen across and am inclined to avoid any uniformed presence like the plague, refusing to engage with them and crossing the streets where possible to avoid said uniformed presence.

This is why the current crop of party politicians have to go. They’re the ones behind the moral panics driving this idiocy. All of them. Tory. Labour. Lib Dem. Green. None of them have a clue. This is getting worse than the 60’s and 70’s and this extreme behaviour by the UK Police is liable to make things far, far worse than they already are.

I am seriously thinking about cancellation. Stuff ’em. I’m halfway inclined to spend my tourist dollars elsewhere.

On the plus side, my deck garden is looking well. The largest Lemon plant just crept over the twenty four inch marker. My Capsicum seedlings have been planted out and we should shortly have Sunflowers, Canna Lillies, Lupins and Delphiniums. A Blue rose has also been added to the collection. Once the rain stops I’ll be outside reading Montaigne’s essay on the delights of solitude.

WTF?!?

Well I never. The bunch of pantywaisters we call a government over here in the not so frozen north have issued a travel advisory for the UK. Canadians should be careful when over there because of the ‘threat of violence’ from pro Brexiteers. Against whom, might one enquire? Canadians? I don’t think so. They might laugh at us for having an embarrassing Prime Minister who is wetter than a Haddocks breakfast, but violence? Not unless a Canadian gets so passive-aggressive that the only way to shut them up is with a divine right. Or a moderately well struck left. Apparently us Brits are now seen as only second to Venezuela as a risk factor. See screenshot below.

I’ve long known that there are parts of various cities in jolly old blighty where one watches one’s P & Q’s carefully after the sun has gone down. Back in the day I might even have qualified as one of those ‘risk factors’. We could be a rowdy bunch, but normally pretty well-natured. Tourists were safe from our petty predations. However there are, shall we say, ‘heavily ethnic’ areas in London that anyone should avoid. Elder Sibling once spent a while living and working in such a suburb, and told hair raising tales of some of the knife fights that he saw outside of some of the local hostelries. That was in the seventies. My working experience of the smoke was in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Hells bells, my youngest stepdaughter lives and works in central London and she and her mates haven’t reported anything serious. On the whole I’d say Canadians are pretty safe if they mind their own business and manners.

Look my Canadian friends, you’re no more at risk of violence in the UK this year than last. My advice is to stand back, see the sights, take your pictures, spend your money, you’ll be fine. Leave your politics at home and just be a tourist.

In the meantime, our radishes and Grapefruit plants are potted out, the Lemon plants (Too small for trees, too big for seedlings) are doing fine. My herbs are sprouting and our tickets to and accommodation in London are paid for.

Update: as for the ‘threat of violence’ by pro-Brexiteers’? It’s hype, bullshit and complete bollocks. The demonstrators who flooded central London were mostly good humoured and easy going. How do i know this? Because there were only five arrests (Not sure what the offences were) and no real reports of violent disorder. Far less than a typical much smaller event by radical lefties. The Pro-Brexit protesters are less likely to riot because they consider themselves patriots, and see what they are doing as something positive. They’re marching for democracy because they are not the real threat. The real threat to democracy is the treason and political cowardice of remainer MP’s.

Planning for Lahn-dahn

The crocuses and snowdrops have surfaced from under the snow and we’re currently travel planning for an Autumn sojourn in dear old Lahn dahn as some of the locals call it. No, that’s not a place in Vietnam or Thailand but the estuarine pronunciation of London, capital and Metrollops of the dear old dis-united kingdom. We’ve sorted out where we’ll be staying in Earls Court and looking at places to eat and drink while we’re sauntering around the various museums and cultural icons. Top of my list are the National Science and Natural History Museums. Mrs S will be bimbling around the V & A and suchlike while I have a thorough geek-fest in Kensington. We plan to take in a couple of shows while we’re there too.

It will be interesting to visit a post-BREXIT Britain. I’m almost tempted to send all my UK contacts a ‘How does it feel to be free?’ greeting when the UK finally wrests itself loose from the choking tendrils of the EU. Hopefully in the next month. Thinking about it I haven’t been into Harrods or Selfridges Food Hall in a Donkey’s age. Which I’m quite looking forward to. It’s not so much the range of produce as the cornucopia of smells of a properly kept Fish and Game counter that tease the old olefactories. To a country raised boy like me it’s almost like going home. Even if where I once called home is over a hundred miles away. Now it’s several thousand and over ten years, but we are where we are and there’s an end of matters.

There’s also another small matter of yet another fence to mend. This time it’s the other party which will have to come to me, or at least down to the Smoke. I’m not spending good money hiring cars and booking hotels visiting someone who may not appreciate any olive branch I hold out. However, I’m jumping the gun a little. Best to hold my tongue and extend the hand of reconciliation. Even if none of the parties involved can be bothered to cross the pond to visit me. I know they can afford it.

However, I do so enjoy the old country in controlled small doses. It also pains me to see what it is becoming. Likewise Canada, increasingly divided and all in the name of ‘diversity’. Misguided ‘Hate speech’ laws creating privileged minorities. Police investigating non-crimes, all the while prioritising ‘thought crime’ like rogue tweets and off colour facebook posts over real crime, like burglary, criminal damage and assaults. Prediction; this will come back to bite the rule setters and enforcers. Very hard indeed. They depend on the public trust to operate successfully, and the current value of that trust is so far below zero it resembles the state of the Great lakes, which when I checked this morning had over seventy four percent ice cover. I’ll also say this; Laws which dictate thought rather than deed pave the descent into a really dangerous form of totalitarianism.

To wax poetic; boils like prejudice and hatred only heal after they have been properly examined, lanced, drained and debrided, if you’ll forgive the medical simile. To extend the metaphor, such poison is always best treated with free and honest debate. Shutting people up only lets matters fester until the only certain cure is high amputation. Which is a tactic tried by many totalitarian regimes, always failing at the cost of many innocent lives and eventually the ruling regime. It also destroys trust in the Police who are supposedly protectors, not persecutors of the general public. It is not their job to check someone’s thinking. Or is that just me being horribly naive?

Notwithstanding, say you think that Justin Trudeau is metaphorically a Weasel, Socialism is a murderous doctrine or that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with western democracy. Regardless of whether anyone finds those statements ‘offensive’ they should be considered and examined to see if they are true. Which they are. Even the most cursory reading of the facts will highlight the realities. If the law of the land is changed to suppress such opinions, what happens when these views become mainstream once more? Will the laws put in place to protect those opposed to such views be, like any captured weapon, be turned against their erstwhile abusers?

This is the danger of criminalising opinion. Opinion is mere fashion. It changes, and the mob it is meant to drive changes with it. The mob can turn in a heartbeat. When it does, you don’t want to be in it’s way.

Idle thought for my single US visitor; I think Bernie Sanders bears a strong resemblance to a deceased British far left politician from the 1970’s and 80’s, Michael Foot. See what you think. Well, it amused me.