Tag Archives: Weather

Digging my way out

Snow shifting over the last two days. Two 10kg bags of snow melt and a kilo of salt later and last night there was still a big lump of packed snow and ice on the drive. Then I found out that there’s another tranche incoming of up to six inches overnight. Bloody hell. I’d only just dug us out of the last lot. This is Victoria in British Columbia for heavens sake, not Nunavut above the Arctic circle, reputedly the place where Canadian brass monkeys come from. Fortunately it’s only a Summery two Celsius outside my window at the moment, I can tell because our Hummingbird feeders are no longer frozen. After getting rid of half the two foot deep berm of snow on our deck I’ve elected to leave our deck garden covered because the snow acts as an insulator and stops our delicate little plants freezing completely. It’s even worse at the Great lakes, we’re talking 49.3% ice coverage with Ontario completely frozen, which is not unusual, but the historical data for the last 3 years says we’re in a cold spell as of 2018 & 2019. See Screengrabs below.

Fortunately my best Lemon Tree plants are sitting aloof from all the white stuff on a nice warm window ledge indoors. They will survive. I’m not too sure about the other plants we left outside. Our Hummingbird feeders are being visited by some copper throated and green backed species, so they’re all right.

Back in the old country I see Theresa May has snatched defeat from the slavering jaws of victory, yet again. My wife thinks she’s being very clever and manipulative. I disagree. She’s clearly out of her depth. Her prevarication have cost the UK dearly due to the uncertainty her government has created. Had they just said to the EU “Bye chaps, we’re off at the end of March 2019, toodle pip. Thirty nine billion you say? Don’t hold your breath.” everyone in business would have known where they stood and made provision accordingly. Instead May and cohorts tried to do what their sponsors and lobbyists told them, which was betray the spirit of a democratic vote. She’s still trying to get a last minute deal when that time is long past. The EU wants what it wants and boo sucks to everyone else. Which will be it’s ultimate downfall. The French protests continue, with their ‘leader’ on trial for ‘carrying a stick’ at one of the protest flashpoints. Over in Germany, the AfD are gaining ground. Hungary is still being a real dog in the EU’s manger and let’s just not talk about Italy. Overall, things do not look good for the EU. When the UK leaves, the implosion of the EU will accelerate. Trade will continue and the world will still turn. A lot of worthless mouths will have to relearn some job skills. Or starve.

Youngest reports that it’s been snowing in the great metrollops, but not much else. She’s too busy sorting the legal fallout from other people’s foolishness. Oh well, all makes work for the working lawyer to do I suppose. She’ll never be short of remuneration.

Then there are the reported five thousand children who went ‘on strike’ to ‘save the planet’. Manipulated by activist teachers no doubt. In reality their ‘strike’ probably increased emissions by forcing the held up traffic they created to idle their engines. This is why the voting age should not be lowered. Children should be allowed their childhood, not used as pawns for the ideologically blinkered and fanatic.

Not that the activists actually look at what’s really happening in the big wild world (See above screengrabs). They live in their own bubble realities of victimhood and delusion and when the worst happens are not equipped to survive. Those of us who pay attention simply douse the outside lights, barricade our doors and ensure the larder is full. The howling activist mobs can freeze and starve. They are the authors of their own undoing.

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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.

Localised cooling

We’ve had yet another bout of snow last night. Nothing much, it just looks worse than it is. A couple more inches. Still, it’s been rather chilly of late, with the outside thermometer dipping well below zero Celsius most days. Not double digit low, but getting there. But hey, it’s Winter. Nothing really out of the ordinary for this time of year. Maybe a tad chillier, but then we haven’t been getting the sixty below recently experienced in Minneapolis and the Midwest USA. I think we may have hit minus ten Celsius last night if you factor in the wind chill from a Pacific storm that plonked itself unceremoniously on the region just after midnight.

Have just had the mixed pleasure of spending five figures of my own money on stocks and shares. An act which brings the shared assets of Mrs S and I closer to the magical seven figure mark. Which is quite good. We’ve effectively doubled the amount we both started with, which is nice. Far better than property and far less risky. To me, buildings are just non-realisable assets, or as I like to call them ‘dead money’. I’ve been a landlord and quite frankly the only way you really make money is capital gain over a ten year term (Don’t even think about the repair and maintenance costs). We’re not quite due a 1991 or 2008 event where property prices take a massive hit, leaving many with what is called ‘negative equity’ for five or more years, where the value of the property is less than the outstanding loan to pay for it. Our cousins down south refer to this financial state as ‘underwater’. A state I am taking great pains never to be caught in. Others have, and they have my sympathy. It’s easy to be smug when you’re doing well, but I’ve lived too long and hard to remember that the only difference between me and a poorer person is paying careful attention to my finances, squirrelling my gains away and not going crazy when lady luck is (Very rarely) generous. Yes I’m dull, but better dull than destitute.

There’s an interesting story bubbling up about the Trudeau regime intervening in a court case (SNC Lavallin). See Conservative MP’s little video below. If what she says is true then the suckers of Liberal Party corruption are firmly wrapped around the pillars of power in Ottawa. Not only that but it already looks like all the lobbying and crony capitalism has paid off. The company in question is already off the hook. However, the Trudeau Government may have taken it’s place. They were seen tanking the backhander. Mind you, if they run true to form, the right judge will be appointed and the case against Trudeau et al will disappear. Such is Ottawa politics under the current administration.

Here’s the National Post take on the situation;

Fortunately none of the companies I have put money into have any links with SNC, so I’ll just invest in more popcorn futures. Well I would if the power didn’t keep going off. Fortunately we had the foresight to invest a few pennies on a camping gas stove so we can have a cup of tea when out in the middle of nowhere on road trips. Well this is Canada and we do have a lot of nowhere to be in the middle of. Having dug it out of the closet I christened said piece of kit this morning when the power was out for twelve hours. Reminder to self; must get a manual coffee grinder because Winter is not only coming, it’s right here and it will test the best of us. And I will not be deprived of my fresh ground coffee.

Otherwise, Bacon; check. Flour; check. Water; check. Coffee; Yep. Tea; plenty. Salt, spices, a freezer full of provisions and a few cans of baked beans, just in case. One should always have a few cans. Just in case the power goes off for more than three days, which if the gales come again, is more than likely.

Baking Daze

By George I’ve done it! I’ve cracked baking both my favourite Black Olive Bread and French style Baguettes. Using bog standard flour, salt, instant yeast and water alone. No baking powder, no additives or ‘improvers’. Better than store bought. More flavour. Ee, I’m dead chuffed.

The trick for French style baguettes is in the dough which should be damp and slightly sticky but not too wet. Too wet and you’ve just baked a twenty inch long muffin, too dry and it comes out like bad pastry. Dry mix the Flour, salt and yeast thoroughly before adding room temperature water. Mix and add flour until you’ve got a dough ball that sticks to the bowl a little, but not too much. Leave resulting dough in mixing bowl for a couple of hours, punch down the dough and knead it until your dough ball gets smoother and more plasticky. Let it rise again. Knead once more then leave for twenty minutes or so before cutting dough into loaf sized bits. Roll and place dough, cutting as per your fancy to be cooked on some baking paper on a tray in an oven pre-heated to 415 Fahrenheit (About 210 Celsius) with a heat proof bowl half full of boiling water on the shelf below. Rotate tray after ten minutes or so. Remove baking parchment and leave loaf on grid or tray. Continue to cook until brown all over (About 15-20 additional minutes). Remove and leave on a grid or some baking parchment to cool. Works like a charm every time. Passes the toast test too.

Thanks to our Landlord’s apple tree, apple tarts have also been created and apple pie filling is being readied for the freezer. The tarts proved an absolute snip with some thinly rolled pastry, thin sliced apple and baking them in the oven for about twenty five minutes at 350 Fahrenheit (175 Celsius), although to get the full glistening glory of a patisserie produced product I will need to invest in some gelatin to brush over the baked apple and cinnamon.

Oh yes, all the wildfire smoke has gone. In forty eight hours. We’ve gone from an AQI in the hundreds (Almost hazardous) to single figures (Good) almost overnight after the Pacific winds drove inland and reports of snow and rain from the interior of BC. Snow in August? WTF? True, the snowfall is all up on the peaks in the Rockies, but hang on a minute! This is still August FFS! And it’s earlier than ever reported before, so what’s going on? Are we in for a long, cold Winter as the US Farmers Almanac is predicting or is this just a blip?

Which reminds me, my old toaster just died and we’ve had to spend a few bucks on one of those fancy long slice models.

Hunkering down

Wildfire smoke has gotten worse over the last twenty four hours so the Sticker household has completely battened down the hatches and watched the AQI go from the ‘Unhealthy’ particulate count (AQI 170-185) end of the spectrum to ‘Hazardous’ (AQI 340! last night) in the last few hours. So over the last seventy two hours we’ve been indoors listening to the Hummingbirds coughing outside and wondering when our scenery will get un-photoshopped. As well as sweltering a little because we can’t have any windows open. The taste of burning forest has been everywhere.

Fortunately a change in the wind brought brief surcease this morning with the worst of the smoke flowing northbound up the west side of Vancouver Island, remaining a louring presence across the hills. AQI dropped below 100 for a couple of hours, which is like the air in a major capital like Paris or London on a bad day. Breathable, but nicer when you get into the air conditioned indoors. The forecast is for particulates to drop to their more usual low teens. Which hasn’t happened yet. Temperatures likewise are to drop to around 20-22 Celsius, which is cool for August, but you won’t catch me complaining about that. Cool air you can breathe? That will do. When it arrives. At the moment the AQI is firmly in the ‘Unhealthy’ range of around 120-60+ and our scenery has been photoshopped once more.

Our ever-expanding deck garden seems unaffected. The herbs are fine, we’ve acquired a small conifer and another two of my Lemon plants (no longer mere seedlings) look like they’ll need potting out into their own little receptacles soon. So a quick trip to the stores was required for some more potting compost which means this evening I’ll be potting out our new Thyme and Mint plants as well as my nascent Lemon trees.

I see our cousins down south are talking about impeaching Trump. For something Obama’s campaigns got a mere slap on the wrist for? It smacks of desperation from the ensconced power elites, who are actually the real problem in the USA. These are the folks who should be standing in the welfare lines. Trump’s actually sticking up for important things like free speech online and asking pertinent questions about South Africa’s land seizures. He’s asking other questions certain people don’t want in the high level public domain because such questions will probably hurt their investment strategies. That sounds like a reasonable reason why they’re out to get him by any means necessary.

Regarding those South African land seizures. It’s been widely known that being a Boer descended farmer has been a high risk occupation for well over thirty years. Farm raids and murders have been glossed over by the media because, well, all white South Africans are bad yeah? All that Apartheid? Personal anecdote here; when we lived up Island we found that a good number of our neighbours were ex-Afrikaners and White Rhodesians who got out when the ANC and Mugabe regimes took over. My Doctor was South African. So was my next door but one neighbour. Another neighbour was white Zimbabwean who always talked of the land of his birth with affection. This in a community of less than twenty five properties. I knew of at least three more Afrikaner families in our locale.

Now we hear that the Zimbabwe government are begging for the eeevil white farmers they kicked off their land to come back because the guys their farms were given to didn’t have a clue how to manage them. Which is what will happen to South Africa. The country will implode even further economically speaking because the ANC will have ethnically cleansed (Dispossessed) the most productive and industrious people from ‘their’ country and their agricultural skill base will collapse followed by the rest of the economy.

Lauren Southern’s polemic, ‘Farmlands’ covers the history of how the current state of affairs came to be, but does miss out the Boer war and disagree with a few other salient details listed in timelines like these. For example, in ‘official’ versions the massacre of 100 Boer settlers led by Paul Retief by the Zulu King Dingnaan (Dingnane) in 1838 state that Retief tried to obtain land by ‘trickery’ and that ‘only’ 60 died, not the 100 claimed by Southern and Wikipedia. Dingnaan’s warriors later massacred another 534 Voortrekkers in the Weneen massacre. A figure composed of 41 men, 56 women and 185 children from the Dutch settler party killed along with 250 or 252 of their native tribe servants / followers. Wikipedia may not be the most reliable of sources, but in this case is more credible than some ‘official’ timelines. And that’s just one example out of several. I’ve been checking. Mainly because I’m a history buff and don’t like being misled. Anyway, see for yourself, I’ve embedded Lauren’s YouTube video below. It does not make for happy viewing. But make your own mind up.

As an afterthought, you hear a lot of SJW types crowing about the ‘end of white supremacy’. Well chaps, fasten your seat belts because that’s exactly what happened to Zimbabwe and other African countries and what’s happening to South Africa. Liberia, Angola, Congo, Libya, Chad, Somalia, Sudan and the Central African Republic for example. Never mind the occasional tribal genocide or ongoing US interventions in the Trans Sahara and Horn of Africa. Or isn’t that quite the ‘end of white supremacy’ these ‘Social Justice’ types ordered, eh?

Useful fact checking website; Africa Check. For those interested in the stats regarding the number of farmers murdered, try looking at this article; Why Calculating a farm murder rate in SA is near impossible.

Smoke gets….

Smoke gets everywhere over here. Wildfire smoke that is. We can taste it in the air and today visibility has dropped to below a hundred metres. I was able to just about see the Weather radar tower, but now can’t even see the hill it sits upon. Missed the Perseid meteor shower the other weekend because the sky was too full. Then we had a little rain which cooled things down from an oppressive thirty plus Celsius to a more comfortable mid twenties. Now it’s getting warmer again.

If it’s not from California, the smoke is coming from the many mainland fires and further east. It’s got so bad that some of the smaller airports are closing until the air clears. Not that we’re going anywhere, but there’s a lot of outdoor camping holidays being affected and Canadians do like to go camping.

Work is picking up with being called to a video board meeting to explain how the financial systems our team has developed to handle money, only to see it outright vetoed. Why? Because dwarleengs it might hurt someone’s ‘feelingz’. Which I didn’t get. What we’ve done is streamline the process, iron the bugs out and make life easier for everyone on our side of the business as well as improving the financial reporting. A win-win for most as everyone gets a say and usually exactly what they ask for. The boards objections to our new and improved way of working sounded like they were trying to reinvent the wheel. Oh well, they don’t have to adopt our working practices, but they will once reality bites or their side of the business will implode. The money men will see to that. I can see lots of tearful conversations ahead.

That’s the thing working over here on the Wet coast of BC, this is SJW central. Down here in Victoria it’s all flowers, pink unicorns, fairies and pixie dust because actually working is so passe. And if you object you often face the full flamethrower of irrational fury. Seriously, there’s a lot of crazy over here. It’s why the City of Victoria couldn’t agree on a sewage treatment plant and busies itself removing statures and putting in bike lanes. Until local people stood up for office and forced the issue through in 2016-7.

That’s right. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, like a lot of other major Canadian cities still discharges untreated sewage into waterways like the Juan De Fuca Straits, a body of water two thirds the width of the English Channel. Why? Local politics, thats why. Too caught up in a smog of soft words to focus on really important things, so they fiddle around with bike lanes and rainbow pedestrian crossings while the sea around the provincial capital, as well as that of our southern neighbour, Seattle, remains contaminated by raw sewage. Fortunately a new treatment plant has finally been agreed and is being built but will not be fully effective until 2030.

Think this is just applicable to the West Coast? Even Canada’s major city, Toronto has a serious sewage problem.

Oh yes, just an observation; all this NSAATANA (no smoking at any time anywhere near anybody) doesn’t happen in mainland Europe. In Copenhagen, Amsterdam and the South of France there are outdoor and indoor smoking areas with people puffing away contentedly. The whole ‘No Vaping’ thing is likewise ignored everywhere except the Anglosphere (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA etc). Funny that.

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.

Planting out

The time has come the Walrus said; to talk of many things
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax — Of cabbages — and kings — And why the sea is boiling hot — And whether pigs have wings
.

Right, the time came today to plant out my germinated lemon seeds. All thirteen (!) of which have germinated and have begun putting out tiny rootlets. So I potted all of them out this morning, watered them in and will keep these precious tiny Lemon seedlings indoors in my office until the warmer weather arrives. Because it still gets very cold at night, even in June here on the Canadian Riviera. As evidenced by our Geranium’s leaves going red with cold stress, so yesterday we brought them inside to recover. Likewise, some of our Sweet Peas and Nasturtiums have the look of being lightly scorched around the edges, a clear sign of unseasonal cold. The hardier plants, like my Indonesian Lime, perennial herbs and the rose bush have been doing okay but the more delicate items, like our Geraniums, have been suffering more than a little. Based on the aforementioned the plan is to keep the Lemon seedlings and similar outdoors during July, August and September where they will be tended by our automatic watering system. But not until then. When the weather cools we’ll bring them in to the sunny part of the kitchen for the Autumn, Winter and early Spring. In the depths of Winter when snow and ice abound we’re planning to transfer our more delicate blossoms to hibernate in the Garage with the Geraniums for occasional watering by our Landlord while we’re away in January / February 2019.

What I’m going to do with a kitchen full of home grown Citrus fruit plants I have no idea, but this is simply an experiment to see if growing such verdancy can be achieved in BC. Note to self; I may need to invest in one of those big fcuk off machetes they stock in all our big outdoor stores if things go well. Especially if the Avocado kicks off like I’m hoping. The little bulge in it’s bottom grows larger by the day, and should break out by the weekend after next. Maybe even within the week. I’ve never grown an Avocado plant from seed before, so all this is new territory.

Mind you, on the topic of machetes, anyone can make one with a power hacksaw blade using an angle grinder. Available from many industrial tool suppliers, even in the UK. I used to have one such fourteen inch double edged blade as a weed whacker many years ago. Great tool to go camping with. Good for cutting down and splitting dead saplings for firewood. Made from High Speed Steel so it never lost it’s edge. Gave it away in the end to a mate who wanted it for clearing the long grass at his favourite riverside haunt. A modern urban SJW would have a screaming fit and call the cops if they so much as saw one. Presumably because they’re so paranoid they think everyone is out to hurt them. Which isn’t true by the way. No one I know really cares enough about ‘social justice campaigners’ to do anything but avoid them like the plague. Or wind them up and watch them run. Whichever happens to be most fun at the time.

All of which is rather academic. Such people cannot make anything grow faster or slower. Or indeed do anything but make life exceptionally tedious for others. Seeds and greenery have their own laws and seasons. Which are a much better type of vegetable matter.

Snow drama

We’ve just had a dump of snow that has come and gone. Probably at least twice what the UK has had during it’s latest ‘Snowpocalypse’. For example, on Sunday Mrs S and I were driving across to the south west of the Island and big white flakes were coming down like nobody’s business, hitting the ground then disappearing. But then we’re geared up for it over here, all weather tyres and every other car is an AWD or a 4×4. Some AWD’s being more equal than others. The Winter tyre change is just something you do every year. Those with only traction on one axle tend to have a spare set of Winter wheels ready for driving. There’s none of this nonsense with ‘The wrong kind of snow’ either. We get the same kind of cold wet and heavy type of stuff as the UK, and the occasional six inch fall is treated with insouciance. Anything more, well, road clearing is mostly done by local contractors who have their own chainsaws for clearing fallen trees. On rural roads they don’t wait for the Council workers to get out of bed, the problem’s in front of you buddy, you fix it. Likewise, airports and suchlike keep running no matter what. It takes a fall of over a six inches (All right, fifteen point two four centimetres) within twenty four hours to come anywhere close to shutting those down.

Today there’s no snow left except for the odd north facing slope or compacted pile of dirty ice shunted over into a sheltered corner, slowly melting in the rain. Business as usual. No drama. Only a month or so away from Spring. Even then we’ve had serious snow in April, over two feet on one occasion, which was my first encounter with the term ‘snow day’. There’s even been the odd strinkling in June around the 49th parallel. But that’s weather in the northwestern Pacific rim for you. And we’re about the same latitude as Bordeaux, France.

Not that it matters, it’s all Milankovich cycles, Solar irradiance and changes in albedo anyway.

Apart from the cold outside, Windows 10 is screwing with my wireless keyboard and mouse setup. Both started playing up out of the blue two days ago. Tried fixing with the Logitech receiving package, but no improvement. Windows 10 is truly shite. Every update brings new fuckups. I haven’t had this much messing around with an operating system since MS-DOS, which at least had the benefit of being a stable platform. Windows 10 with the latest upgrade is a buggy, unreliable pile of crap. Mostly because I’ve had to go digging through Device Manager to reconfigure the power management settings after this last fucking update. Not just in one, but all devices, from USB hubs to Mice and Keyboards.

From an ex-support technicians perspective, there were only two versions of Windows that were any good. Windows 2000 because with service pack 4 it was almost bulletproof and Windows 7, because it was the last Windows package to do what the bloody hell it was told, and not allow some Microserf to remotely mess around with your well-configured systems. It’s why I used to switch off the latest update until the tech forums reported all clear. XP was barely tolerable, Vista was utter crap and 8.1, well, best avoided if you want my advice. 10 is a complete abortion. The ‘Home’ edition worst of all.

What scrolls my knurd is the constant basic system changes every time a new bell and whistle becomes available. I spend time and energy setting up my laptop to do exactly what I want, when I want it to. I don’t want the fucking thing to keep second guessing me. Firstly it’s annoying, secondly it’s time wasting, and thirdly it’s completely patronising. It’s got to the point that if old Spoonbanger petulantly did drop a nuke on the good old US of A, I’d bloody cheer if ground zero was Microsoft.

Update: on the topic of driving in adverse conditions, I’ve always wondered why, given Northwestern Europes propensity for cold wet weather, that most vehicle retailers don’t simply spend a couple of extra hundred bucks on all weather rubber for their vehicles. The Ice / Mud ‘All Season’ rating would seem to be the most sensible choice, rather than trust to less grippy compounds which are only really effective above 7 Celsius. Not that there’s much advantage because Summer rubber doesn’t add to the grip if you spend half your time (Like the majority of UK drivers) in heavy traffic commutes.

For a personal anecdote, our Geolander G95’s hold the tarmac nicely in all conditions (Tried and tested) from temperatures in the high 30’s Celsius, heavy snow to intense downpours and packed ice. The rear tyres are due to be replaced with a new pair at 130,000KM (80,000 miles) this September. Still with 1mm remaining on the ‘safe’ tread. Wondering which make is best for your shiny tin box? Start here with a 2017 survey.

All of the above is rather academic really, if as JuliaM puts it so succinctly in the comments, “No machine is worth much if the meatsack behind the wheel hasn’t bothered to RTFM!”

Have I missed anything?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bunyips

There is a mythical monster in Australia, one that is even feared by the biggest killer of humans, the Estuarine Crocodile or ‘Saltie’. I write of course of the Bunyip, that terror of tourists, ravager of ‘Roos and consumer of the cutest Koalas. The name appears to have devolved into slang, where having ‘a case of the Bunyips’ is a minor but undefinable health inconvenience akin to being a bit upset or nervous about something.

On that subject; Mrs S woke me the other morning while we were staying in a pleasant little off the beaten track B&B to confess that she had felt a ‘presence’ which had disturbed her otherwise unblemished repose the previous night. I knew what she meant, as I’d felt the same thing too, as a vague sense of unease, a sense of something not quite right drifting across the room. She characterised it as an unhappy feeling with no material stimulus of connection that clouded her consciousness. For myself I had a sense of a disturbance in the unseen just as I was drifting off. Then it was gone. All sins forgiven.

Rather like the Interweb being on the fritz across Southeastern Australia. Which has something to do with lightning strikes over the last few nights, so we’re told. Lots of fried routers, or should that be routers with fries. Thanks Telstra. Mobile phones seem to be working though. At least they haven’t succumbed to the heat and rain. Although our recent heat wave has apparently been ‘boiling’ Fruit bats alive not far from our current location. Someone should have told them about drinking plenty of fluids staying in the shade and slapping on the SPF 50 sun cream.

Oh yes, we actually had rain yesterday afternoon en route to last nights picturesque little lodging. First big drop hit our windscreen like a paintball round with a loud ‘Spack!” Then another and another for twenty seconds until it was like automatic fire. After about a minute this bombardment settled down to regular rain which the windscreen wipers could cope with. That lasted about thirty minutes then everything dried up again until the evening when the wind it blew and the rain it did fall, but by then we’d consumed a couple of bottles of a very quaffable Savignon (Not Sauvignon, it’s a hybrid grape) and couldn’t have cared less. Temperatures have now returned to the mid to high twenties Celsius. So the Fruit bats will be back to their normal habit of shitting out of the trees instead of falling out of them.

In the wake of the recent brief heat wave have come brief but very intense storms flooding over the Blue Mountains, which is where we rest our weary heads this very eve. Thunder, lightning, high winds and torrential rain have paraded past our windows in the last three hours. In the wake of these storms followed an almost ethereal sunset and a single truncated pillar of a rainbow.

The local Aboriginal peoples claim this land has magical powers, and after the last few hours, I’m inclined to believe them.

BTW: There is nothing ‘intrepid’ about this trip. Indeed I have gone to great lengths to avoid any hint of derring-do, knight errantry or bravery against hostile elements of any shape, form or substance. Indeed, we have employed all the magical arts of modern techno-magery such as air conditioning, bug repellent, booking websites and the financial assistance of Mister Mastercard to avoid having to be even slightly courageous or resourceful. Courage is a fine thing and a useful tool, but should be kept in reserve for those occasions when you cannot help but need it. Let it be known that if the Bunyips come calling again I will have made strenuous efforts not to be there when they arrive.

That’s all for now. Back in Sydney to begin our last week in the Fabled land of Oz tomorrow. So perhaps we’ll have a more reliable Interweb connection by then.

Glad to be here

We’re enjoying Melbourne, even if it’s a tad on the expensive side. The food? Lots of Italian, Vietnamese and Chinese, but if you get a chance, seek out one of the little Fusion eateries just off the main tourist trails. Stay away from the tourist traps along the Yarra, they aren’t worth the price. Seek out the unusual and your taste buds will thank you for it.

Sleep patterns are being a little messed up by phone messages going off at (to us) odd hours from Youngest, who has returned to her job in the soggy old UK and is already missing the warmth and suffering from the ravagers of jet lag, poor lamb. All we can do is urge her not to sign anything important until she’s fully compos mentis again.

What we’re also enjoying are the pleasant temperatures, currently around 22 Celsius, which we’re told will peak out on Saturday after we’ve left Melbourne to Sydney on a little road trip at a scorching prediction of 41(Yikes!) Celsius. Which is warm for even Victoria, where we will hide from the heat on a boat ride or so before wafting up the coast for our last week in the sun. All ahead SPF 50 Mr Sulu and mind those photon torpedoes.

North America on the other hand, seems to be not enjoying any heat at all, with sub zero Celsius temperatures as far south as Mexico and Florida. Which happened last year and the year before that. Can’t speak for Australia of course, because we weren’t here. However we’ve enjoyed our time down under so much that even now plans are afoot for another antipodean Xmas. At least if I have any say in the matter. Cold is nice occasionally, but only if it comes as a breeze from the air conditioning unit. I think I’ve outgrown any emotional attachments to White Christmases, because aren’t they supposed to be racist or something. Not that it’ll stop the snow falling. Weather’s like that, very politically incorrect.

As far as weather is concerned the old tune “But baby it’s cold outside” is appropriate in the Northern Hemisphere at present. Which song is annoying all the right people because it’s about ‘rape culture’ which some neurotics out there have transposed onto normal human courtship behaviour. Weirdo’s.

All the above notwithstanding. Before we push off, I’m going for a pamper at one of those fancy mens grooming places for a spiff up with hot towels to clear the pores, the whole nine yards.

A fall in Autumn

We’ve got snow on the deck! What the hell, this is sunny Victoria, we’re not meant to get snow until January! We’re still in Autumn for heavens sake! Looks a bit strange with the leaves still on the trees. See above picture of deck at 7:30am today. Damn. I may have to call Nanook of the North. And he charges like a bad tempered Rhino on LSD.

No seriously, nothing to see here move along, it’s just weather and part of the normal cycle of things here in the sunny south west tip of Canada. Every so often we get the odd fall of snow. Which is why we have Winter sports locations like Mt Washington in the mid island. Here’s the current state of the Tube run via webcam. Which is getting a huge inflated inner tube, dragging it to the top of a snowy slope and sliding in it all the way to the bottom and then some. Which is fun for non-skiers like me and works out way cheaper than getting all the kit and only using it once a year. According to reports Mt Washington had no snow last night, but I can tell them where it ended up if they’d care to collect. I had an inkling that we were due for a long cold Winter after the long and hot Summer we’ve just had. Simply because one usually follows the other. And no computer models needed consulting. They only get it wrong anyway.

No skin off my nose because our little SUV is kitted out and ready with all wheel drive and all weather tyres, and we’re on a main bus route which gets the snowplough first and regular clearings throughout the day and night. The downside of which means I may have to get out and go dig an exit through the icy berm they always leave in front of our drive. Or I could stay home today and stand in the front room with a nice hot cup of coffee admiring the view. (Pops into front room for a look – returns) No, no berm and the roads are clear. Well that’s saved me a job, and Nanook’s callout charges.

Our propane stove is now lit and pumping out all that healthy CO2 and a good tranche of heat. Which will prove a saving on our electrickery bills. Which can get astronomical because idiot politicians think that wind and solar power can replace even a few fossil fuel power stations. Or that an atmospheric trace gas affects climate in the long term manner they claim. Or that we don’t know that the CO2=climate is bad science being used to support one of the biggest wealth transfer schemes of all time. Fossil fuel stations we don’t use much because most of Canada’s electric power is Hydro based. Compared with other nations our use of fossil fuel and nuclear is tiny. To replace even one large power plant with wind power you’d have to cut down huge tranches of forest, at least in BC because what we do have is trees. Lots of them. Hundreds of thousands of square miles of trees. Just over 20% or the worlds boreal forests in fact. Cut down those to put up inefficient sources of electricity? I console myself thus; at least the trees can be replanted and grow back when this idiotic flirtation with retrograde technology is over.

So what’s going on in the big wide world? It the FT I see Gas (petrol) prices will rise because the Saudi’s are closing the spigot. Which may help the current misery of the Venezuelans, or maybe not. Maduro has big debts to pay before the extra oil money can trickle down into the rest of Venezuelan economy. Me, I think he’s cocked up big time and the country will be bankrupted before he’s finished. Despite their oil reserves. Up here Trudeau is losing popularity because he keeps on hitting working Canadians in their bank accounts and blocking pipelines while wittering on about how unfair it is about girls not being allowed to play in the big wide world. Which isn’t true by the way. Women can do just as well in commerce as men if they’re willing to pay the same price. George Soros is dying (I’ve seen recent pictures – no one looks like that and lives for long), which I think he knows, so has pushed USD$18 billion into his network of politically meddling non-profits. Just so he can go screwing up economies from beyond the grave. That Trump chap is motivating idiots to go and ‘scream at the sky’ on the 4th November because he won an election. One of them screams at me, I’ll simply laugh in their face and walk away. However, he doesn’t seem to let all the hit pieces and political sabotage get to him, he’s just doing what he said he would. And you have to admire someone like that, even if you don’t totally agree with them.

Update: Tesla shares drop over 5% with the potential end of US subsidies for EV’s.  Oh well, that’s that.  More EV’s for museum exhibits.

Rain, rain

Blood and sand! That was a hair raising nine hours. The roads of Newfoundland are pockmarked like a pre-vaccination era smallpox survivor. And it was raining. Raining very hard indeed. So hard that the satellite connections were going down like victims of the Black Death. Fortunately we were carrying plenty of cash, so paying for food and gas wasn’t the problem it could so easily have been. Did I mention the aquaplaning? Jeebus, I might as well have been surfing. The wheel was almost kicked out of my hands at even moderate speeds, and led to our journey time being extended by at least an hour and a half.

I don’t normally mind rain, and BC but this time the Atlantic weather really chucked it down. I was only mildly surprised not to hear pained miaowing and yapping as cats and dogs bounced off our little tin box while we alternately drove and skidded most of the way from the finger of Newfie-land down to the Avalon Peninsula.

Apparently the Western side and perhaps all sides of Newfoundland are subject to a phenomenon known as the ‘Wreckhouse winds‘, winds so strong they on one occasion, pushed 22 freight wagons off the rails. Local legend has it that these hurricane plus force gusts have toppled parked vehicles and the occasional locomotive over. Whether the Gods of Wreckhouse were active that day I do not know, but do I know that driving conditions were as difficult as anything I can recall, even over Shap Fell on the M6 on a really bad winter day. Possibly even more so. Our little Subaru normally shrugs off wind and rain like they don’t exist, but that day all bets were off.

Anyway, we made our destination, somewhat belatedly, in one piece and parked up in a sheltered place to recover from our travel tribulations over a bottle of Cabernet and a nice meal. The following day it was almost sunshine all the way. Apparently this is average for this time of year. These Newfies must be made of tough stuff if they can cope with this sort of weather.

Newfoundland is a strange place, hostile, then with a twitch of the veil the sun shines and it’s utterly gorgeous. Rather like the North West of Scotland. And the mossies and no-see-ums are just as fearsome as the notorious Scottish highland midge, an insect so aggressive that when one is captured in a jar it will attempt to beat itself to death. However, two Newfoundland midges were reputed to have got into a fight over a particularly tasty moose and laid waste to half a hectare of trees. However, that is supposedly the stuff of folklore, but having seen the real thing I’m not so sure.

Pass the Benadryl and put in a bulk order for Deet. A Lobster dinner is beckoning. For your amusement, please view the following two videos.

Yes Prime Minister Global Warming etc Part 2 from Aris Motas on Vimeo.

More of the same

Things trundle on. More forms to complete, and I had to mess around with my handy dandy Printer / Fax to get necessary details off to the UK last night without getting charged an upper and larger extremity on courier fees. Seriously, these guys charge like a Rhino with a migraine then still don’t get the bloody thing there on time because of a lick of snow that they wouldn’t even notice over in Calgary, so it’s worth lugging the fax into the front room where the phone line connection is and spending ten minutes messing around with RJ11s and the like.

bills-weather-rockOn the subject of weather, I was checking my blogs history for ad hoc local observations on the weather, and noticed that we seem to get a serious dash of ice and snow here every two years, with more snow and ice than usual every three. Summer temperatures can end up in the low to mid thirties Celsius (Centigrade, whatever), which is nothing unusual, given that we’re on the same latitude as mid-France, so when someone blarts out that it’s the “Hottest year, EVAH!” I do have to suppress a chortle. I think these prognostications of media doom are simply cries for more funding. My Weather Rock, however, remains unconvinced, and has taken to lurking indoors on a nice cosy windowsill in the kitchen, hogging the view. It’s probably sniggering at all the other weather rocks forced to shiver outdoors, but it’s very hard to tell with rocks.

Anyway, it’s good that we have an AWD with decent all-weather tyres because I have to get Mrs S to a conference downtown today. Which means an early start allowing a bit of extra time for the inevitable dickhead faction out on the roads. Then I may amble into the downtown core for an hour to check something out before heading back to the barn and getting a nice hot feed set up for her ladyship when I go to pick her up around four. I hope to perform this task without any additional drama. Although I can hear the local snowplough already trolling up and down roads, so by the time we set off, our hill will be cleared.

On the drama front, we’ve finally stopped watching Canadian Netflix because it’s become so crap. Seriously, as a streaming service it’s really gone downmarket. Not that it was ever brilliant, but it was better than the alternatives. All there seem to be are tenth rate ‘documentaries’ with the odd watchable feature film and a host of what used to be called ‘B’ movies and teen series. Honestly, it’s like the PC Police have decided you can’t watch programmes which don’t comply with certain nauseatingly touchy-feely guidelines, which may ultimately prove their downfall. So we’ve signed up for a CraveTV account which gives us some reasonable HBO and Showtime series for the same price. The other choice, Cable, is terrible, chock full of adverts and not worth the fifty bucks a month our service provider charges for the ‘basic’ package. To which I am moved to retort; if I wanted propaganda, there’s plenty on YouTube for free.

One of the things I have noticed over the past 12 months is a serious decline in the overall quality of TV and Movie entertainment. To which I’m inclined to hypothesise that maybe all the slebs and half way decent writers have been so busy fundraising for the Clintons, protesting and electioneering that they stopped doing their jobs as entertainers. Don’t even get me started on the patronising crap about to be foisted on Netflix viewers like ‘Dear white people’, which is such a dire idea and so poisonous to race relations that it defies rational comment.