Tag Archives: Travel

The downside of virtue signalling

Well that was interesting. Just got this in an email from AirBnB. Now I have an account with them which is rarely used after a couple of rather negative experiences. My main criticism of their service is that their provider vetting needs to be a lot better.

Hi,

Earlier this year, we launched a comprehensive effort to fight bias and discrimination in the Airbnb community. As a result of this effort, we’re asking everyone to agree to a Community Commitment beginning November 1, 2016. Agreeing to this commitment will affect your use of Airbnb, so we wanted to give you a heads up about it.

What is the Community Commitment?

You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgement or bias.

How do I accept the commitment?

On or after November 1, we’ll show you the commitment when you log in to or open the Airbnb website, mobile or tablet app and we’ll automatically ask you to accept.

What if I decline the commitment?

If you decline the commitment, you won’t be able to host or book using Airbnb, and you have the option to cancel your account. Once your account is cancelled, future booked trips will be cancelled. You will still be able to browse Airbnb but you won’t be able to book any reservations or host any guests.

What if I have feedback about the commitment?

We welcome your feedback about the Community Commitment and all of our nondiscrimination efforts. Feel free to read more about the commitment. You can also reach out to us at allbelong@airbnb.com.

In effect what AirBnB are saying is “If you don’t publicly give way to our PC bullshit, you can’t use our service.”

This company may feel the need to virtue signal in this manner, but frankly I don’t. Wherever I’ve travelled on this earth I’ve always assumed that I was a guest and behaved myself accordingly. No one has ever needed to tell me otherwise because I’ve always reasoned that there are too many arses in this world, and have made the simple choice not to be one. Despite my often irascible scribings I’m a relatively decent chap in person and tend to treat as I find. Regardless of race, creed or colour.

Congratulations AirBnB. You just lost a customer. Permanently. Think of it as the downside of virtue signalling. We were planning to spend a lot of money through you in 2017 and 18. Not any longer. I have just decided that I do not wish to be part of your virtue signalling ‘community’. Fuck. The hell. Off.

P.S. VRBO are much, much better.

P.P.S. The person behind this is probably arch race baiter and apologist for big money to the Obama administration, Eric Holder, who AirBnB hired recently.

Important stuff

Well, that’s that. Eldest is now in the Fabled land of Oz. Flight went on time, landed on time, and according to latest message update her immigration visa acceptance was ‘a breeze’. She has a decent place to live, friends in country and even two very reasonable job offers. It threatened to get a bit emotional when we took her to YVR, but my final words into eldest’s ears before we saw her off at the security barriers were; “For god’s sake don’t forget to send pictures and tell us what you’re up to, or your Mum will drive me nuts.”

On the way back to our hotel we had a near-comical Satnag failure where the screen went blank at eleven on a very wet Vancouver evening. Mrs S stressed out at me, but all we needed to do was pull off the main drag, work out what turn we’d missed and memorise an old fashioned road map before setting off in the right direction. Wasn’t that fun? No. If there’s one thing guaranteed to disrupt domestic harmony, it’s driving and navigation.

Notwithstanding, Eldest has a place to run to if things go sour because sister in law now ensconced up Brisbane way can take her in. Mrs S of course is missing her firstborn. Which comes as no surprise. All mothers have this issue, be their offspring two hours or twenty eight years old, ergo my beloved will be less than her usual efficient self for the next two or three days. So I will step into whatever breach is necessary and smooth the path, reminding where necessary, forgiving as much as I can. Settling back to work, planning our next trips to Europe, Australasia and possibly the Caribbean for a little snowbirding in February. Not only that, but Youngest is due for two weeks at Christmas, so there will be another emotional trauma to deal with when she goes back to her London job. Hi-ho, it’s all part of growing up and being part of a global family.

Over here, the story about the Wikileaks Clinton email release and DCleaks Soros information releases is starting to gain momentum. Those in the know have long suspected the interventions and manipulations of various Soros funded organisations, but it’s like being a villager watching for suspicious ripples in a murky swamp that tell you where the Monster is. You can’t see the beast, what it’s target is or what it’s looking at, but you’ve suspected for a long time said critter is up to no good. And you know damn well it’s hungry because stuff goes missing.

Now the evidence is out there in the public domain, defended by a flimsy cordon of hatred-stirring middle class student activist types with their faux-battlecries of ‘Social Justice’, and claiming to be for ‘the people’ when they themselves have no real idea what ‘people’ are really about. ‘People’ are something you can’t learn at a liberal arts university. ‘People’ requires observation and over thirty years of experience. And when you’ve seen ordinary folk in all their light and shadow, will know in your bones that there is no such thing as ‘the masses’ or ‘the people’, just individuals trying to make their way the best they can. Some reekingly bad, some downright monstrous, but also many unaccountably good, the startlingly kind and outrageously decent. All flawed, all imperfect. All in a big, constant murmuration of societal motion.

This being said, itshould come as no surprise that there are those who want to control the motion so that they might personally profit from it. So it seems with the Soros funding machine, which channels millions of dollars (Yikes!) to various politicians and political NGO’s via a series of foundations and ‘charities’, including the ‘Open Societies’ and ‘Tides’ Foundations, which argue and push for more state organisation under the guise of ‘Saving the planet’. For example the news that ‘Global Warming’ pundit Al Gore had at least ten million USD a year bunged his way to ‘aggressively’ push the catastrophic warming agenda should not come as a shock. And there are several thousand more Wikileaks cats gleefully bounding out of bags regarding back door multi-million bungs. So it’s not really surprising that everyone who is anyone wants a taste. It’s easy money these control freaks don’t have to produce or sell anything for and ultimately feeds off society rather than contributing to it in a form of vampire economics.

The word from the sceptical side has always been ‘follow the money’ because the science for Man Made Climate Change / whatever is so obviously weak for any impending man made climate catastrophe. Indeed, certain astrophysicists have predicted that a new Dalton Minimum (possibly worse), when the climate was colder back in the 1800’s will occur over the next thirty to forty years. But there’s no slush fund money for such research, no cash for the activists, so don’t expect to hear much about it outside of academia.

I’ve even heard astrophysicists say that shifts in Earth’s molten nickel iron core have had some effect on climate via changes in our planets Magnetosphere. Which apparently ups the rate of cloud formation. See Svensmark’s work on cloud formation due to cosmic rays (The strange spelling is due to translation errors from Danish to English). Although some atmospheric physicists have claimed that atmospheric CO2 causes shifts in the Earth’s core, which is a mechanism that I have more than a little trouble with, at least from a physical modelling perspective. CO2 is comparatively speaking a very weak climate influence, swamped by all the natural feedbacks and how humanity’s CO2 emissions could alter movements and rotation of the Earth’s core has yet to be satisfactorily explained. Like the laughable claim that all the heat retained by man made CO2 emissions went off to sulk in the deep ocean because no one was paying it any attention rather violates the basic principles of heat transfer.

But we knew all this really, didn’t we? Well, you would have if you’d really been paying attention.

Labels

Suffering a bit today with a mild but debilitating lurgi caught off Eldest, who leaves us for the fabled land of Oz tomorrow. Fortunately this is a short lived bug and the fever has already broken and the cough is ‘productive’. The chunks I’ve been coughing up are fading from yellow to white, which means the infection is on the decline. Should be fine to drive Eldest to the Airport by tomorrow. Plenty of fruit juice and fresh air should speed my recovery.

Dahn sarf, in the often confused morass of US politics there’s been a lot of talk recently about a super secret cabal called the ‘Alt-Right’ and what bad people they are. Oo yes, they eat babies don’cha know. Oh yes, yes, and they’re anti everything good, wholesome and natural don’t you see, so they’re evil and must be sent to stand on the naughty step forever and ever amen. So there. Odd that the term was invented by the Clinton camp, who by any measure are hardly models of honesty and integrity. Whitewater, Haiti, Benghazi, favour selling in office, breaches of national security, Is there anything they can’t get away with?

From what I can see, the ‘Alt-Right’ label, apart from being a childish attempt to demonise most of the US electorate, encompasses everyone who likes to make their own decisions without being herded into a box by government bureaucrats who are ‘just doing their job’, whatever particular job that is defined as by a ruling elite. The label also covers anyone not fleecing the state for every penny everyone else puts into it. Which is why this all embracing term, like ‘Deplorables’ before it should be enthusiastically embraced by anyone with any integrity or self respect, regardless of actual political position. Which would mean the ‘Alt-Right’ is a broad church which includes both ‘left’ and ‘right’ leaning supporters, in particular anyone who thinks the Clinton political camp are a bunch of dishonest weasels who would auction off their own unborn for political power, money or privilege. Which is a very broad spectrum, from all the independent voters and fervent Trump fans and enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporters to the most piratical free marketeer.

FYI: ‘Alt-Right’ from what I can see does not include people who are essentially shilling for Billionaire currency speculator and international criminal (Well the Russians think so) George Soros, like Black Lives Matter or a number of ‘Environmentalist’ factions. Indeed, they themselves would be first to say so because any political position that is even mildly right of centre (or even the most mild mannered centrist) is something they despise and want to tear down and destroy. Which is why Soros throws chump change at them via various ‘Foundations’ (Tides, Open Societies etc.) He can make money off the economic instabilities such movements can cause by helping block major infrastructure projects like Dams and pipelines, burning down neighbourhoods, or any economic downturns the otherwise insignificant factions he helps fund are at the root of. Like mass migration of an incompatible culture into western nations for example. The human casualties of which of course are nothing to do with him. Therefore it is my considered opinion that Soros is not ‘Alt-Right’. Nor is anyone associated with him or his organisations, or any allies thereof.

Which is as good a reason I can come up with to openly declare that I am part of the ‘Alt-Right’. For whatever that’s worth.

Katla

In-laws are currently in Europe due to fly back next week, and if the signs and portents from Iceland are right, they may have a bit of a wait to get home. Yes, it’s time for seismic grumbling from South East Iceland again. Which I ascribe to all the illicit Hákarl dumping. I’m told rotting Greenland Shark meat is a ‘delicacy’, which is one of those hilarious euphemisms for “Let’s see what we can get the tourists to eat”. Either that or one of those “Well, it’s not that bad once you get used to it” foods dreamed up when it was a case of eat your putrescent poisonous fish or starve to death.

Seriously, there’s a Yellow warning for Katla, a large volcano lurking under the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which is one of those wonderful Viking names you’d swore the locals made up to make English speaking newsreaders look like idiots. Well, just because they don’t do the rape, burn and pillage thing any more doesn’t mean these descendants of Vikings have lost their sense of mischief, does it? The little tinkers.

Anyway, nothing has gone boom just yet, but those in the know are betting on an eruption in the not too distant future, even though at the time of writing there’s no harmonic tremor. However, when that is detected, then an eruption has already started and it’s a bit late to put your nearby Icelandic Holiday Home on the market.

Icelandic Met Office pages can be found here for regular updates.

What else might delay In-laws return? Hurricane Matthew, which is currently tearing northbound through the Caribbean? Hmm. If I was going to attempt a Transatlantic flight during the next few days, I’d be making damned sure my travel insurance covered accommodation costs in case of delay. I’ve tried kipping in airport terminals before, and it’s no fun at all.

Triumph-ant

Road trip planning again. This time I’ve been reviewing my choice of machine for the trip, a brand new Triumph Trophy SE 1215 (The 2017 version). Now I’ve had an on again and off again love affair with Triumph Motorcycles for some considerable time. From the first time helping a mate rebuild his Triumph Tiger Cub clutch when I was just out of school, to my later trans-European adventures and high mileage high jinks on my old 900ST. In between there’s been a few Hondas and Suzukis, and I’ve test ridden a whole heap of other machines, but in the end my preference all comes down to long distance comfort.

My problem with most new motorcycles is that I’m a big guy. Long in both leg and body. Broad shouldered and heavy built, which is a legacy of hard physical work and extensive weight training regimen which began during my early teens removing tree stumps with axe, pick, shovel and brute force. I’m physically more carthorse than thoroughbred or Shetland pony so most motorcycles aren’t built for people of my size. There’s also the classic North American foot forward riding position and footboards which I don’t much care for. My riding heritage is Northern European where you fit around the very bones of your machine, not just sit in it like it’s a Lay-Z-Boy.

Harley Davidsons and the like were immediately off my buying list because despite their physical size and the reportedly fixed problems with electrics (especially in the wet). The positioning for feet and hands is more for those with short legs. Which came as a bit of a surprise. When I first sat astride one, I got the immediate impression that I would have to ride with my knees around chest level no matter how the seat was adjusted. Then I don’t much care for those heavy V-twins, they’re so agricultural and leave me with the feeling that I’d be better off buying Massey Ferguson or John Deere. Besides, there’s that whole ‘weekend warrior’ vibe which just isn’t me. So, crossed off the list.

Ducati and Moto Guzzi. Same issue. Lovely to look at, great performance, but the short legged peg position and problems with the electrics during wet weather tended to put me off.

Next to be examined were BMW’s. BMW’s, although the footpeg position was good for me, have a tendency to cut the handlebars a little narrower than is comfortable for long journeys. Love the long term reliability of the Boxer engine and the shaft drive…. But. And this is a big ‘but’, unlike mine, which Mrs S likes because of my still ‘high and tight’ buns. Apart from the 1150RT which they don’t make any more, none of the other models in BMW’s range had the feel that I was looking for. So bye-bye BMW.

Suzuki, Kawasaki and KLT? Close but no cigar. There’s a happy place in my heart for the 1200N Bandit and the V-Strom is okay, but Suzuki have long had an issue with finish that degrades a little too quickly for my liking, and Kawasaki tend to build for the smaller rider. KLT aren’t bad, but there’s something not quite right with the machines I’ve tried out. There’s an instinctive knowledge that after a couple of thousand miles my back would start to complain because of that tiny kink in the riding position that is almost, but not quite, right for me.

Honda? Mmm. Sooo close. Wish they still made the ST1100 Pan-European, which is a splendid touring machine, creme de la creme. Love that smooth V-four. After test riding, the ST1300 and Gold Wings are a little too big and heavy to be the kind of fun I look for as a rider. The Bagger ain’t bad, but my pillion has needs too, and she reports that the rear seats get a little uncomfortable after the first fifty miles. Which, if you’re going down the full helmet comms route, would result in a rides enjoyment being curtailed from the whining sound in my helmet earphones.

Now Triumphs. Again, there are a few which immediately get crossed off the list of potential purchases. The Supersports are built for the slighter built rider and relatively short distances. The Tigers are super trailies, but although they’re okay for rider, taking a pillion long distances is likely to cause a high pitched whining in my headsets headphones after a relatively short distance. The Bonneville and similar? Tried one while I was commuting to Bristol and back on a job. Quick and nimble, but the saddle was for shorter distances. Great for a pose down to the pub, but for serious travelling? No. So, this leaves the new Triumph Trophy with that lovely responsive in line triple powerplant and intuitive feeling riding position, comfortable saddle and leisurely pillion position. When you’re after something you can ride all day without a care. then for me, that’s it.

Still debating what we want to do about Southern France, whether we cut across the lower Central Massif and as far south as Carcasonne or stop in Nimes for a week and do day trips North, South East and West. It depends what accommodation is available on AirBnb or VRBO. Italy we’re pretty sure about our destinations, but we’ve yet to examine the options of Austria, the Czech Republic and Western Poland. The discussions continue. When decisions are made, we’ll book.

Family stuff

Busy with organising for extended visit from Eldest on her way to the fabled land of Oz. She’s done her Africa experience, and now is looking to move down under. Her entry and work visa has been approved, flights are paid for, and backup finances put in place. Which may or may not be needed. Hey, she’s still young, so should do these things while she can enjoy them fully. We will assist where we are able while she gets settled in her new life. She’s got friends and family already in country, so she’s not going in completely cold. Hell, she’s even got mates in Vancouver who moved there after University, so no matter where she goes she’ll have a place to crash, as well as with Mrs S and I whilst she’s passing through Canada.

Which is cool. There’s always that sense of inhibition when you visit family, and the old bug-a-boo of things you always wanted to say but felt you couldn’t. Such as; “Why does no one talk about Uncle Henry?” or “Why didn’t Mum and Dad tell me?” This is something Mrs S and I try not to encourage. Because we both know from our own upbringings how toxic that can be. Repression brings nothing but regret and unhappiness, and over the years I’ve formed the opinion that’s way worse than giving an issue a bloody good shake out and airing. No matter how uncomfortable it is at the time. If you can’t talk about an issue, it just goes underground and festers, poisoning relationships and leaving problems unresolved. Which is something the current politically correct climate in academia, politics and media doesn’t help.

You see, I’m aware of all the problems my personal family history has brought and how it has in some cases stopped me from being a better human being. Now I’ve cheerfully accepted that I’m a real bastard son of a bitch, I feel much more relaxed about my life, and have determined not to pass that shit on to the next generation, while trying to improve my own lot. Put it this way, my stepkids do not have either my, or Mrs S’s hang ups and have been set free to make their own way in the world. With a little help from us older folks of course, who in my case is setting a thoroughly bad example, just to show that fun can be had, no matter what age you are.

As well as all the “But you can’t say that!” voices crying out that we should not talk about certain issues, or even allude to said facts existence, there’s a ‘health’ lobby out there determined that we will all end our days restricted to ‘care’ homes, dribbling out our dotage, and subject to naught but pity as the Alzheimers inexorably robs us of our marbles, bowel and bladder control. Me, I know that it’s a short life but a merry one, and that seeing as there’s precious little of it, intend to relax and take what comes, even if my last words are “Shit! The ripcord didn’t work!” or “Just a moment, I’ve had an idea.” or even “Bloody Satnav!” When the book closes on me, there will be no regrets but that which says “I wish I’d had time to do more.”

Life may be a terminal disease, but you only get one, no matter what any priest or politician says when they want you to do what you’re bloody well told, you, you utter peasant, you. My only reply to that is outright contempt, and if this makes me not worth talking to, then it has the upside of freeing me from the interminable blatherings of the dim and depressing.

Anyway, I’ll conclude today’s little missive with a misquote by one of my old boon companions (often falsely attributed to Sir Walter Scott or William Blake). “Better one hour of crowded life, than an eternity without a name.” Although I think his version was actually an improvement on Mordaunt’s original.

Travel insurance

Road trip 2017 planning has slipped over the last week what with my bouts of sleeplessness. However, Mrs S and I are now into the main planning stages plotting not only the general route but the actual where and when prior to booking. The big expense of course is the flights and flying the motorcycle via Air Canada to and from Vancouver, which won’t leave us much change out of CAD$7050 (A shade over 4000 Quid, roughly. Including import taxes and fees etc). After that I’m off oop norf to go see some estranged family (If they’ll talk to me) while Mrs S stays with Youngest down in the smoke. I may be away for three or even five days before limping back down to London and getting ready to take the ferry to France. Overnight around Caen somewhere and thence off on the great trek along through Western France and around towards Provence and the Carmargue. Then down into Italy. Jesus! My course in Italian starts Monday! My how these things sneak up on us.

After that the general plan is to head south through Italy down to see the buried town of Herculaneum near Napoli. At present I’m crunching the numbers. Nothing insuperable, but the trip will be a little more leisurely than our dash around the USA, even if we do end up doing a similar mileage. I reckon about 8,500 miles as a rough guesstimate. I may even book in a service for the half way marker. I’ll have a look at the price quotes and see if there’s any advantage to doing so.

A place to go

Ever heard of ‘Liberland‘? A small, almost forgotten 7 square kilometre parcel of land on the Croatian and Serbian borders, recently claimed by a bunch of renegade individualists for a grand social experiment. I’ve just realised that it may be not too far off our planned 2017 grand motorcycle tour.

Freedom for Liberland! from MEL Films on Vimeo.

Worth a visit, not worth a visit? Worth going to just to get a stamp on our passports, if they do that sort of thing? I have no idea. But it’s just the kind of goofy, off the beaten track adventure we’re looking for. We’ve got a planned stop around Split in Croatia. Could be worth a day trip.

Wonder if there’s a decent hotel close by?

Grumpiness

At present I have much to be annoyed about, and I’m letting my inner grump have free reign. Why? From people in the UK trying to screw me over for tens of thousands (Good luck with that one – I know what they’re up to and so do my lawyers) and ill relatives, to the happy clappy attitude of some of the locals, who, it turns out, are far more likely to die younger than I. Which is a relief. A man can only take so much ‘nice’ before he considers committing an uncharacteristic act of malice and mayhem. Which tends to upset local law enforcement, and that would never do.

However, there is hope, because a new study has found that being a curmudgeon makes you likely to live longer, be more creative, effective, and generally be more prepared against life’s little vicissitudes. Of which there are a plethora.

The reason for my grumpiness? Hunting for a new apartment. Bills. ‘Hate crime’ laws going back on the books, people you’ve never met acting like you’re their best friend, usual shit. Now Mrs S has just announced she’s had a belly full of ‘nice’ because she’s just asked me what country I’d like to move to because she’s pissed off with the stinking tide of Political Correctness over here in BC. And going back to the UK isn’t going to happen because we like our personal space too much. After a few moments reflection I said “New Zealand. South Island.” For six months, certainly. Okay, I’ll give it a try. This is one of those ‘can hack’ situations where I have to do the hacking. Hey, I got us through the hoops of immigrating to Canada. Five or six months in NZ during 2017-8 by comparison should be a snip.

Just got to work out how to store the car, as the Bike will definitely be coming with us.

New Kit

New riding gearRoad trip planning for Europe 2017 continues apace and a deposit has been put on a shiny new motorcycle for delivery March / April 2017. Also purchased are two new Olympia Dakar touring jackets. We still both have our old heavy leather jackets from other trips, but have decided that the lighter and more weather versatile mesh style will be of greater utility. Yes I know we’ll both look like traffic cops, what with the three stripes on the sleeve (Wotcher Sarge) and everything, but my rough and ready ride-all-day-and-all-night days are long past, and I’m growing soft in my not so frail dotage. Two new HJC IS-Max II helmets have also been bought. Could have gone for Shoei or some other make, but the reviews and safety ratings for HJC are good and the ventilation is comfortable. Which in European Summer heat will be an essential. I know they’re expensive, but I don’t plan on ‘spoiling the ship for a ha’porth o’ tar’. A trip like this can be done on the cheap if you’re young and willing to rough it a bit, but when you are, shall we (Cough) say over the big Five-oh, you get to like your comfort. Hence the upmarket clothing and brand new top of the line motorcycle.

Then there’s languages. My French is adequate. My German mm, Ich spreche nicht Deutsch gut and my Italian sounds more like Spanish. However, I can get by, but want to be able to do more. So language freshen ups are required. Current route plan takes us via ferry from Foggia, Italy to Split in Croatia and via Slovenia to Venice, thence northbound. At the very least we need to be able to read road signs, count to a hundred, say “Yes”, “No”, “Please”, “I don’t understand”, “Thank you”, “How much?” and “You must be joking me old china” in Czech, Slovene, Polish, Dutch, Danish and Swedish rather than expecting everyone to speak much English. I think of it this way; it’s good manners to at least try.