Tag Archives: Travel

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

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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.

The truth is out there….

“…but lies are in your head.” To quote the late Sainted St Terence of the Pratchett. I’ve been reading last weeks Sunday Times, which is one of the Sunday amusements I allow myself because so many of the stories are so different from their clickbait headlines. Especially the various BREXIT hit pieces. Look chaps, even HMRC has got its act together and has issued no-deal BREXIT guidelines. Which echo what I’ve been saying all along; Don’t panic.

In the event of leaving on WTO terms a.k.a. ‘No deal’ or ‘crashing out’ (What hyperbole) little will change. Apart from the EU being GBP39 billion out of pocket and suddenly realising they’re really, really in far more trouble than dear old no-deal blighty will ever be. The value of sterling may well rise significantly against the Euro. Which should please a few expat pensioners, but not the exporters, who have been reaping the benefits of the artificially depressed pound.

Those UK businesses with the foresight to do so have already laid their plans for a no-deal scenario instead of endlessly whining that it ‘snot fair. Like the senior EU bureaucrats. Honestly, as Mrs S has repeatedly observed, these failed politicians really have no idea how to negotiate. They’ve had first dibs at a favourable trade deal for two whole years yet have simply considered the UK like an errant child having a tantrum.

Anyway, we’re going over to see the results first hand. I’ve finalised the details of Autumn’s London trip. Flights and accommodation paid for and we’ll be mostly meandering around the Smoke on foot. Just taking the time out to see the sights. I may even revisit whatever that bar is called at at the Shard. Fun fact; did you know that the 31st floor Gents Lavatory only has waist high urinal pedestals in front of a plate glass window? Do not use if you suffer from vertigo, but the view is bloody spectacular on a nice sunny day.

Summer break will be a series of mini road trips around BC. Maybe a short sojourn over the border to see how our southern cousins are faring.

In the meantime it’s still snowing here and temperatures are regularly minus five Celsius. At least by our outside thermometer. The weather is scheduled to continue in this vein for another forty-eight hours. As you can see in the picture I took from my kitchen window.

Roll on Spring. Another two months of Winter to go.

At least the Lemon Trees are doing well

January has come and gone and my Lemon tree plants are sprouting new leaves on the windowsill of my office. What else? I’ve also just spent my yearly holiday allowance on a trip to Londinium this Autumn. Mrs S and I want to see all the non-events that will characterise the UK leaving the EU.

Otherwise life at Chez Sticker is plagued by glitches. A whole shedload of the wretched things. Nothing insuperable, just minor bits of grit in life’s ointment. Banks that won’t do what they’re told. Stuff which should happen in forty eight hours takes a week to ten days to set up. Which is a bit tricky when you’re under the gun and on a tight deadline. I’m having to postpone investments because of them. Which is a pain. I was hoping to get a tranche of cash moved to invest before the stock market rose too high. The Canadian tax man (Nice chaps – when you have good accountants) you see has given me a more generous allowance for investments for last year and this and I want to take advantage of the loophole before March 1st when the opportunity disappears. Then there’s the extra payments to HMRC to ensure my UK pension is nicely topped up.

One minor irritation is having to postpone closing an offshore account because of a policy rule change. A complication because the money sent to HMRC from that account has to clear before I can do the necessary. This is mildly annoying. Of course any differential will only be pennies, but nurtured carefully how those pennies mount up.

Turns out I have a knack for shifting money around. Who knew? All those years working my arse off for a living when I should have followed my true calling in international finance. Although my calculus is sometimes questionable, I can usually convert between currencies in my head pretty well and I’m making a more than modest amount each year off my stocks and shares. Better than all the pension funds and other investment vehicles I’ve put money into over the years. Nothing spectacular, just solid, steady tax-sheltered growth over the medium to long term. All nice and legal. Even if it is hard work from time to time. I could retire tomorrow but I’m not going to. Deferring payment means a better hedge against inflation and besides, I’d only get bored.

On the BREXIT front The Financial Times is still very Remoaner and becoming rather irritating to the point where I may well be cancelling my subscription. I want news, information, not opinion dressed up as so-called ‘facts’ to support a pro-EU aganda. My increasing infuriation is driven by the imperative that in investment, good and timely information is everything. Without that information the news media has no real facility.

So what’s going on out in Interwebland? Lots of interesting stuff. As my last remaining reader is probably aware, there’s been a lot of screaming and yelling over ‘Fake news’ over the last three years. Then, more recently there’s been a lot of tearing of hair and sackcloth and ashes over ‘journalists’ being fired from various left of centre media outlets. Now these two phenomena might seem unconnected, but what might have slipped under the radar is the cessation of funding to counter ‘foreign propaganda’ begun during the Obama administration under the Portman-Murphy sponsored ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act’. Like with Trudeau’s extra funding for CBC and other like minded media outlets introduced in 2018. All the money under the respective legislation has been strongly suspected of going to media outlets that toe a specific party line. Or in the case of the USA, did go.

Listen to a more well-informed commentator’s view below explaining the ‘Learn to code‘ meme doing the rounds, where alphabet soup commentators have been paid very well while spreading misinformation to support their ’cause’. All the time insinuating that right of centre and centrist Youtubers and bloggers are little better than pro-Russian propaganda ‘bots. Let me explain; for years, said journo’s have slyly mocked ordinary working people who lost their jobs. Now the boot is on the other foot.

Mass media redundancies? Couldn’t happen to nicer people.

Only a couple more months to Spring. I have the feeling April 1st is going to be really interesting this year. At least for all the prophets of doom.

Update:  Speaking of doom, is it finally ‘game over’ for the Maduro regime in Venezuela?  If so, what will replace it?  All rather academic as the answers to those questions are for the Venezuelan people and no-one else.

Nothing left Toulouse

A quick reboot from the long lost days of my murky past. Love this tune, particularly the chorus line “If it’s all the rage to be insane, let me play the fool…” Very me. Listen to the whole thing below;

So where have we been? Or in the words of Blackadder’s Lord Flashheart “Where haven’t I been!” For one, seeing more of the rural French road network than I’d bargained for, courtesy of our hire cars satnag, although driving along the plane tree lined single carriageways winding through vineyard and Hectares of Sunflowers has been very pleasant indeed. Even though we almost ran out of ‘Essence’ (Gas, Petrol, Joy juice etc) the other day when the little electronic tinker elected to take us on the longest rural short cut I’ve ever been on. Seriously, we were running on fumes when we finally found an open filling station. I swear the fuel gauge needle had been resting on the stop yawning for at least ten kilometres before we finally found fuel.

Historical note; the planting of the Plane trees along most of Frances D and N routes was begun not because they look nice, but to shade Napoleon’s troops as they marched from battle to battle. A couple of years ago there was a disease scare, but in the region of Languedoc and Haute-Girond, many of these trees form cool green corridors in the heat of midday. Which if you were one of Bonaparte’s heavy infantry would be far better than fainting in the sweltering months of Summer when his nibs packed them off to kick some rebellious peasant arse. For the trees lost to disease in 2012-5 there is a replanting programme, so the little Emperors most worthwhile achievement will not be lost to posterity.

All the way to Toulouse via Carcasonne, the impressive fortress town once home to the Albigensians or Cathars as they were otherwise known. The Cathars of this area having been massacred repeatedly in the early 13th century, one particular bout of mass killing giving rise to the quotation “Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His”, often paraphrased as “Kill them all, God will sort it out.” attributed to the Abbot of that time. Nice people, not.

Lots to see and do in Toulouse and an architectural treat to wander down some of the narrow medieval city streets. This is a town that has been around since before Roman times. There’s a fair bit of brickwork that looks like recycled Roman tiles. In our current hotel our inside bedroom wall looks like Julius Caesar and friends only packed up and left last year. Not quite as hot as it’s been, but warm enough for me to agree to visiting several shopping malls on a daily basis(!), just for the air conditioning.

I see from the FT and Times that Juncker and Trump have been holding trade talks, which is good but it does leave one question dancing through my frontal lobes; How did they keep Juncker sober enough? Answers on a mucky French postcard somewhere else please.

Heading off east now toward Monaco and Monte Carlo tomorrow. I may not break the bank, but I’ll restrict myself to a short drive around, just to say I’ve been there. Abientôt mes vieux.

Crazy like a fox

A few months ago, I was talking with my financial advisor who recommended Facebook. I disagreed robustly, calling it a ‘bubble stock’. Which it is. Now the people who called me ‘crazy’ for not hitching my coat tails to such a rising star may be looking at the valuation of their investment right now and feeling a bit sick. A hundred and nineteen billion loss in less than twenty four hours? Ouch. So my ‘craziness’ at staying away from said stock is looking rather vulpine at the moment. Call me Reynard.

Contrarily and as a note of balance, I’ve just had a disastrous accommodation booking fall over which had us frantically searching for new digs at very short notice. Fortunately Booking.com has come to our rescue, and although I’m going to have to cut my losses and run, all is not lost here in the Sarf a France. We have money, a hire car with ‘smoking wreck’ insurance cover, places to sleep and have just had a brief sojourn in Montpelier, which if you don’t mind the graffiti, is a very nice little city indeed. Baking hot, but then isn’t everywhere at the moment? Apart from those places that usually are but aren’t at present, like Sydney in the Fabled land of Oz. Ten Celsius? In buildings with poor insulation and no real heating? Brrr.

I also keep on hearing people get all bent out of shape about next doors President doing what he’s doing and having partial or sometimes complete public meltdowns over stuff he hasn’t really been at fault for. Like the US Immigration service separating children from the adults they’re travelling with, the most iconic image of which (The crying little girl in pink on the cover of Time magazine) is a complete fake. Indeed, Trump, when the matter was brought to his attention, even signed a document saying parents and children should not be separated from their children if found entering the country illegally. Unlike Obama. Who the mainstream media, particularly CNN, gave a complete pass to. Obama in their eyes, could do no wrong. Trump can do no right. Regardless of his actions. It’s that blatant.

However, one thing is certain; Trump is not completely honest. To some people he’s the prince of lies, but and here’s the big ‘but’, his ‘lies’ are more exaggeration and the kind of half-truth you get out of a hard-sell sales person. And yes they are deliberate. A verbal sleight of mouth while he gets on with fixing the mess that previous administrations have left the USA, and to a lesser extent the rest of the world, in. Because he is doing what they would dare not do. He wants to fix an America that has been broken for a long time. Fixing their trade relationships with the bludgeon of tariffs. Which everyone else uses, but only Trumps tariffs are bad, yeah?

On the surface this is madness, a task that cannot be accomplished, but I disagree. The more I see of him, the more I see that Trump is not mad, he’s ‘crazy like a fox’ and as soon as everyone stops panicking and view all his actions and prognostications as mere negotiating tactics, the clearer idea we’ll have of what he’s actually doing.

Space oddities

One thing I’ve been looking at around during our sojourn in the ‘Dam are the odd looking little gadgets the Dutch use to get around their highly populated little metropolis. The huge amounts of sit up and beg style of bicycle common to this part of Europe for example. I’ve had to grab Mrs S between seven and nine times today to yank her out of the path of one of these speeding velocipedes. They don’t brake. Well they don’t want to and most of them expect you inconvenient pedestrians to get the fuck out of their way. I’m reliably informed the only thing that can stop a cyclist from the ‘Dam is one of the cities many trams and buses.

However, the psycho cyclists aren’t the whole story. Although only a tiny minority wear helmets and we have yet to see one person wearing spandex. Not one. Everyone cycles in ordinary street clothes. There are no Lance Armstrong impersonators. Also helmetless and spandex deficient are the majority of moped riders who speed along the bicycle lanes without a care in the world. In addition curious little four wheeled two seaters like mini smart cars occasionally whizzing through traffic like manic scalextric toys. One model is called a Canta, but there are others not listed on wikipedia. They exist because I’ve seen them. Parked at the end of a row of mopeds, scooting down bike lanes and scattering pigeons.

A word to the wise regarding hop on and hop off tours of Amsterdam; the boats are best. Failing that, trams and buses. The rest of the time walk. Forget trying to drive in Amsterdam. The buses won’t even get you close to where you want to go. Indeed, the one way system can only be described as Byzantine and the delays mean that it takes you three times as long as in any other city to get anywhere. And the best bit is that there are no bicycles on the river, just pedalos whose unskilled drivers veer all over the bloody place and annoy the tour boat drivers and passengers.

Anyway, we’re moving on now on the third leg of our European Beano to the Sarf a France to sample the liquid delights of Provence, Languedoc and Gascony. Game plan is to fly in, unpack, have a shower and several large glasses of the local vineyards finest before collapsing into a well deserved somnolence. The rest is all day trips out to Carcasonne, Toulouse and maybe a breeze down the Corniche, whichever one of the three that takes our fancy.

Amusement today was found in a Times op-ed about certain companies refusing to allow meat on expense paid for lunches. There’s a simple way round this restriction known to any exec worth his salt. Ask your friendly restaurateur to alter your bill to show a vegetarian meal for the price of a nice steak and glass of red for you and your client. I’ve done it a couple of times back in the day and no-one batted an eyelid.

Oh, and I’ve decided what to nickname our two girls. ‘North’, previously known as Youngest and ‘South’ previously called Eldest. Sounds okay to me, hemispherically speaking.

Hot and not so bothered..

Walking the markets and streets of Amsterdam in the continuing heat wave, finding shade where we could. Rather reminds me of 2003 and previously 1976. Lots of sunbathers out this Sunday afternoon as we made our way back to Amsterdam Centraal. “Don’t they look like seal haul outs?” I observed to Mrs S at the piles of tumbled human flesh adorning various canal side platforms. Some nice looking, most not. Plenty of bad tattoos, excess bulges, lobster skin and cellulite on show, which was less than entrancing. Although I suppose it is one way of chilling after a long hot day.

There were even people swimming in the canal water. Which might not be such a wonderful idea unless you’ve got your Tetanus and Weils disease vaccinations up to date.

As we went to get a spot of Tiffin, we saw notices about the forthcoming gay ‘Pride’ event in early August which spurred my good lady wife to remark. “Why are they so proud? What about? Their sexual preference? And why do they need to march to show it off?”
“Probably their insecurity. Does sound rather narrow to define your whole identity by a sexual preference.” I replied. We both shrugged. Not our problem. Then we moved on.

Amsterdam

Back in the ‘Dam again after a few years, enjoying the heat, feeling vaguely embarrassed by bozo Brits behaving like, well, bozo’s. It’s why being a dual passport holder can spare my blushes when faced by the offensive behaviour of idiots who are only there to get stoned because it’s all they know.

Frankly I think that marijuana should be legalised, licensed and taxed everywhere because it would cut the legs out from under the illegal drugs trade and take money away from organised crime. Not only that but it would cut the user base, because the illicit thrill of doing something naughty would be taken away and it wouldn’t be fun any more. Can’t stand the sickly smell of the stuff myself. The stuff in BC is less sweet smelling and is a bit more skunk like. My own drugs of choice are alcohol and caffeine and nowadays I’m modestly abstemious about those. At least until we hit the sarf a france to make a spirited attempt at draining the notorious wine lake. Then all bets are off.

On a walk up from Dam Square to our Tram stop we encountered a group of about thirty (Possibly less, I didn’t count properly) purple t-shirted women shouting and singing about women’s rights, leaving me to think that Mrs S and I have done more than all these shouty types, having raised two successful and independent daughters who are making their own way in the world, which is a better kind of feminism than all the ‘third wave’ dogma currently being touted by activists. A silver haired photographer was dancing ahead of this annoyingly loud group, taking pictures from a high angle that would make the thirty shouters look like hundreds. News management in action.

Travelling again…

Next step of our journey looms. Amsterdam and all points Dutch. A Switch of beers from Tuborg to Heineken. From apartment to hotel. A few points further south. Day trips to the Hague and similar are planned.

As cities go I’ve enjoyed our stay in Copenhagen. Very easy to walk, very flat. Picturesque, with few buildings more than seven storeys tall. Also undergoing a couple of large scale redevelopments in the centre. I wouldn’t want to drive here, that’s a certainty. This is not a vehicle friendly city, even if it is mostly a friendly city. Fine to visit, but like most capital cities, very expensive to live in.

Youngest, although she’s not a girl any more but an intelligent young woman in her own right, capable of making her own way in the world, has gone back to jolly old Londinium to continue her work of trying to sort other people’s legal lives for them. She has a solid network of friends and associates now, some quite highly placed in her section of the legal firmament, so needs very little assistance, either emotional or financial, from us. ‘Youngest’ no longer seems an adequate term because although she’ll always be the second born, she’s earned the right to a more flattering label. Something will come to me.

I notice the two minute media hate is still spewing against the President Trump who has actually been talking to those naughty Russkians instead of listening to the constant litany of ‘Russia is bad’ propaganda, which gets us nowhere. Newsflash kiddies – this is not the old Stalinist Soviet Union we’re dealing with here, they’re mostly democratic and quite capitalist nowadays and definitely not filling mass graves with tens of millions like they used to in the bad old socialist and communist days. So why aren’t we talking to them? Jaw-jaw is better than war-war, as Winston Churchill once put it. Trade better than conflict. All right, Putin jails the odd journalist, but so does everyone else. The Russians are just more open about it. They have a robust attitude, which is to their credit.

Eldest has been to Russia and recommends Moscow and St Petersburg as Summer tourist destinations. So a trip there might be worth the price of a visa. There’s a lot of Russian tourists here in Copenhagen if these old ears don’t deceive me. Just like there are a lot of Americans. I’ve picked up a pdf copy of ‘Russian for Dummies’ and over Winter will be trying to gain a smattering of Russian so we can at least navigate and negotiate our way around.

Deranged hatred

Having been woken up by spewing drunks trying to force their way into our rented Copenhagen apartment in the wee hours, I made the mistake of going online to see the news. Bad mistake. I should have hosed all the vomit from the stairwell first. But not only have I had to clean a startling display of projectile vomiting off a full flight of stairs and wall because no-one else would, but I have to listen to the unhinged ravings about Trump’s visit to the UK. A good deal of which is coming from official media sources.

I keep on hearing all the empty anti-Trump rhetoric and can’t help being bemused by the display of frothing anger. All the bad things he’s being accused of, Obama, Bush and Clinton did in spades.  Indeed Trump may be a bullshitter, but the hatred of him is so over the top even my wife and daughter, not the most political of animals, are looking askance at all the screaming nutcasery and going “Oh for heavens sake!”

Would someone please explain to li’l old thickie me, so everyone else can understand too; exactly what is so bad about what he is doing? Spare me the empty rhetoric, I want logic and reason, facts and figures. I understand this may cause unwarranted strain on certain people’s neurons.

For those expecting automatic slapdowns fear not, this is a serious request for information and I will engage with any rational and pertinent arguments. However, if I do not respond immediately, please be patient because I am travelling. For those who simply want to repeat meaningless mantra’s, my time is my own, not to be spent in fruitless arguments over whose dogma is being allowed to crap over whose lawn. Vomiting drunks notwithstanding.

Final note about the US President. Although I do not care for his style, I will confess to liking what Trump is doing for one reason only; he’s annoying all the right people. If this drives you to fits of incandescent rage, have you ever thought that most of the real problem lies between your own ears?

Update: Psychologist and Author Dr Jordan Peterson seems to have it nailed about Trump the man and President in the video below.

Back in the UK again

Well there I was. Back in the UK. Did the necessary family visits and with the backdrop of England’s recent World cup run, have been to the smoke for a long weekend in the fleshpots and museums before heading over to Copenhagen.

One thing made me stop and think; All of my relatives were parroting the same lines and stopped dead in their tracks when challenged. Everything they said was from the television. The idiot box, the boob tube. I was made aware how much this blaring boombox dominates their lives. Never even switched the cursed thing on in the hotels I stayed at, it was either full of the world cup or other crap.

Everyone talked about the insulting ‘Trump baby’ blimp, not that Trump will see it, he’s directly off to Chequers (Or has a deal been done at Blenheim, which is not London, it’s Woodstock near Oxford FFS!) when Air Force One touches down, then Scotland for a round or two of golf. What should he care about a country that’s doing like the UK football team? Specifically an early small success (Brexit leave vote) followed by a complete screw up (The current Brexit negotiations), but nowhere in the mainstream UK media was the news that another blimp of that ilk is being crowdfunded. One satirising the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, for his crummy downmarket virtue signaling support for the Trump blimp and presiding over a massive upsurge in crime? No doubt the cameras will be pointed away, provided the Police don’t actually prevent it’s inflation.

Perhaps a similar blimp could be crowdfunded to satirise May as the PM that betrayed the British people over Brexit? Or is she, as my wife has suggested, merely playing the EU, seeming to give in to their demands and all the while setting up to crash the UK out in March 2019 with no deal, simply refusing to pay the EU any more? The latter seems unlikely.

Although I’m reserving judgement until after Trump’s UK visit because, and here’s a thought to annoy remoaners and the left wing whiners. Maybe Trump will offer May a bargaining chip against the petty Euro overlords. An out so that if the Eurocrats do take it to the wire and there’s no decent European deal available, US markets will open their arms. It’s an interesting thought. And it would work for US interests. The US needs markets on the edge of Europe, so perhaps he’ll throw dear old blighty a bone or two.

Who knows?  Update; Well we do now.  Trump has dropped any hope of a US deal because May wants the UK as a vassal state to the EU with her Brexit in name only approach.

Oh what the hell.  Copenhagen is still warm and we’re here until the middle of next week, working our way up the street breakfast by breakfast. Youngest hits town tomorrow and we’ll be squiring her around. Poor thing has been going through a rough patch of late, the dreadful mathematics of the actuarial tables has come to play Danse Macabre in her social circle so she’s feeling a bit vulnerable. I know how it feels to watch your friends fall around you and will be playing the non-judgemental parent while she’s with us. It’s a bloody hard road and I shall be doing my best to keep her cheered up.

Copenhagen

Arrived in Copenhagen last night after running the gauntlet of lift failures and the vagaries of London Underground. Notwithstanding a false positive scan at airport security resulting in a fruitless second scan and mildly annoying and pointless body search. Frankly I was too wiped out by the heat over the last few days to even care. Go on you bastards, I thought. Prod, poke all you want. There’s nothing to find. I don’t bloody give a damn.

Arrived in Copenhagen and almost found myself locked out of our accommodation with the rain beginning to fall. It was only by the happy accident of me leaning back on the wrong doorbell that found us the right means to contact our keyholder. An hour later we were all settled in and sorted.

By the by. Copenhagen as a capital city has to be the most bicycle friendly city on the planet because it was designed to be so. A major expansion during La belle epoque led to a street design of broad boulevards and sweeping corners best suited to the antiquated sit up and beg velocipede design of human powered two wheel devil machines. But no Spandex. The sensible Danes have chosen not to adopt such outlandish modes of dress, preferring ordinary street clothing.

Lots of willowy blonde girls about, smiling and looking relaxed. There’s also a male counterpart with a physique I can only call ‘Viking’.

Still tired but recovering. First impressions of Copenhagen. Expensive but very pleasant. A cross of the heritage and modern. Wide cobbled streets. Untouched 1800,s architecture. Complex cupolas and spires of copper and lead. Like a nicer version of Paris.