Tag Archives: Weather

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Got up this morning to find that yesterday’s snow is all gone. Still cold and breezy out, and I’ve got some kindling to cut and dry later for our wood burning stove in the front room for when the central heating needs a bit of help. I try to keep busy.

On the topic of keeping occupied, that’s the last but one jigsaw finished. A 1000 piece rendering of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting ‘starry night‘. As jigsaws go it rates a ‘Pretty fiendish’ on the scale of difficulty. Took me five days. The Yin and Yang swirls in the middle were the most difficult to make sense of. Rather like the chaos of life.

A thought about life slunk into my hindbrain while I was making the coffee this morning. It was about how much we as humans need stories. Not only that, but how we need to be involved in those stories. How we need to create our own tales, not just about what we saw on TV, but what we’ve experienced in our own lives. From discussing what happened at the weekend to a bit of gossip, or the book we’ve just read, we need to share our personal stories to confirm to ourselves that we are not alone. To confirm to ourselves that we still have all our marbles. We need to communicate.

To enlarge; we need to communicate face to face. Because I’ve noticed that when I hear someone telling their story, I’m not so much focussed on the what as the how. Because the what is just the narrative, but the how lets us know about the person telling the tale. Are they being less than honest or are they just being entertaining? Some people are good at joke telling and making others smile, others, with exactly the same words, can relay an entirely different message. Our styles of communication alters meaning. A sidelong meaning glance and twitch of the mouth can fill a million gaps between sentences, but we do need to see all these micro-expressions up close and personal. And it is an emotional need.

Not only that but we as humans need physical contact, even a simple handshake, which can tell you a thousand details about someone else in less than two seconds. About what kind of person they are and their level of sincerity. Handshakes convey a litany of mood and emotion. A hug volumes more.

Deprive people of that contact and they lose touch, not only with other people, but with their own inner selves. People get broken. Without touch we lose our will, our impetus. It’s why solitary confinement can break even a moderately strong willed person. We as humans are not designed to live in our own heads all the time.

This is why we need the lockdowns to end now, whatever the risk of disease (Even if it is minimal). These repeated lockdowns are stripping us of our humanity, damaging our sense of commonality, of our shared experience and turning us into isolated screaming online mobs.

What we are seeing is that lockdowns encourage hate and division, increase civil disunity. They make it easy for certain people to be manipulated and others marginalised. Which is why Twatter and Farcebook can be such toxic environments. Isolation is not good for us. Even me, and I’m used to long periods of working alone. But at the end of a working week I still need to go wandering down a crowded street or walk into a pub, even if I end up drinking on my own.

On the topic of risk, for those who want a clearer picture of the current statistics, you could do worse than read this article.

Keeping up to date

Rainy day today, sitting in my office idly listening to the rattle of water on the skylights. Our worldly goods have arrived, been unpacked and set in place. I’m doing so many Amazon deliveries that I’m on first name terms with the postman. A few things to come, and Mrs S and I are getting a bit twitchy, having been forced by the lockdowns to sit on our hands when we should be up and moving forward.

Back at our old domicile I’m told they’ve already had their first snowfall of the year. Which is odd, as Victoria BC is supposed to be one of the most snow-free parts of Canada. They’ve even had November frosts. So much for that much-vaunted ‘man made global warming’ eh? Last Winter we had four snowfall episodes, when in most years up until 2008 the snowfall count was zero. Over here in the wilder west of Ireland, we’re told we might get snow once every ten years. I have a seeming that record is going to get ever so slightly dented this year. We’ve already had one unseasonable frost at the end of October and I think we might have to be out getting the cattle and sheep indoors over Christmas. We’re in the middle of a cooling event that has bugger all to do with carbon dioxide.

Did have a nose at the cold weather events from North America. Serious snow. Cold that is making brass monkeys audition as sopranos and Greenland gain ice hand over fist. Have a look at this web site for real time temperature and rainfall stats. Word to the wise; the clever money is on a thirty year cooling trend.

On the other hand, the dopes of organisations like Extinction Rebellion, who choose to disrespect science and the rest of humanity, still believe in an outdated body of knowledge. Which leads me to wonder, if such people want to believe that humanity is a cancer, why do they choose to carry on living? Go on guys. Depopulation has to start somewhere. Or is it just us plebs who have to pay for your delusions? Thought so.

As for these pointless lockdowns, Ivor Cummins (see below) runs the numbers and find that they don’t support the restrictions. Likewise the real science. By ‘real science’ I mean the real world stats and studies, not the shonky Imperial college data models used by SAGE and NPHET. Tell me again, why are these obvious incompetents still in a job?

Regarding the enforcement of lockdown out here in the wilder west of the Emerald Isle, the most I’ve seen on a visit to Ennis the other day, was a couple of Gard, or should that be Gardai, haven’t got the knack of the terminology yet, talking to two women whose ‘crime’ was sitting together on a car park bench, having a quiet natter over Coffee. If the Irish government were to stipulate draconian lockdown enforcement like in parts of the UK, there just aren’t enough coppers to do the job. As for previous (and red faced climbdowns from) various UK Police forces threats that they would be breaking down people’s doors on Christmas effing day, that has hurt the UK Police services effectiveness and may move enforcement into the hands of ‘private individuals’ (hem-hem) who might not have so many scruples over what happens to your friendly neighbourhood burglar. Which is a bad thing for the rule of law. Worse for the criminals of course, but also really, really bad for good governance.

The lockdown enforcement over in the UK does seem to be very uneven, with certain political groups being given free rein to congregate, but those protesting the lockdown restrictions get the heavy handed treatment.

As for further lockdowns, I don’t see how, given the evidence, that they do any good. Or that they can be imposed, yet again, without serious civil unrest from the general population. As for possible mass mandatory vaccinations, there are laws against that sort of thing from the 1940’s. Laws created because of the medical atrocities committed by the fascist regimes of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. In most, if not all Western nations, the powers that be can ask people for their consent to be vaccinated, they can try to persuade, but cannot use any form of coercion, threat of job loss or other legal or extra-legal sanction. That is unlawful, both in international and domestic jurisdictions in most culturally western countries. This goes for any employer. Consent is paramount and the powers that be know it. If they have forgotten, then they need to be reminded. Because no-one in their right mind wants a re-run of those events from the 1930’s and 40’s.

One thing I’ve noticed from the stats is the low level of demographic information, where we don’t know the sex or ethnic heritage of the deceased. I have heard it rumoured, that those of a darker skin colour, or who practice whole body covering without increasing their vitamin D intake, tend to be at a higher risk of becoming a SARS/COV-2 statistic. Now if that information was publicly available; perhaps, he said naively, that lives could be saved. However it is not, so we are left with rumour and surmise as our only analytical tools. Or plucking numbers out of thin air, as so many ‘government advisers’ seem to do.

As for me, the rain continues to fall and I will be playing with a new kitchen gadget today. In these testing times we must find our satisfactions where we can.

Playing the game

Mrs S and I were taking advantage of the weather this morning, sitting on the deck, drinking coffee and enjoying the view under cloudy skies. Observing differences in the weather from Thursday evening. Last night was quite the sight. A huge weather system dominating the whole sky was drifting in from the Pacific like a whirlpool galaxy made up of streaks of scudding cloudlets lit by a gibbous moon. Quite spectacular.

I’d been up since five, filling in forms, valuing goods and responding to a flurry of emails from our logistics company. I swear we never had this when we moved to Canada from the UK. Still, it is what it is and as Mrs S remarked, we’re still in the game and playing hard. Because moving continents is a game. A game played by at least four sides with rules changing by the minute. Especially at present, when panicking Western politicians without a clue about epidemiology are fussing with rules made to make them look as though they know what they’re doing (Clue; they don’t). Which means I’m currently ‘sleeping’ with one eye open and my keyboard to hand. Which is not very much at all.

When I put ‘sleeping’ in inverted commas, I mean napping fitfully waiting for the next curve ball to come flying at me. This morning was the threat of our first accommodation booking going AWOL on us, which would have required some very fancy footwork on my part. Three transatlantic phone calls later it was all sorted and payment accepted. Then there’s the customs people, who seem to want everything but my Grandfathers inside leg measurement to pre-clear our goods and chattels even before they’re loaded.

By nine am I’m normally done for the day, having done everything required of me. Just a couple of calls today to tidy stuff up and I’ll be finished. Except for one final form. Well, not final, I’ve still got the insurance documentation to complete, but that I can take my time over. We’ve got a month to go yet.

Mrs S has gratefully taken a back seat to all these shenanigans, happy to leave me in control. There are things to be done, money to be shuffled about but that side of things is mostly okay and all I have to do is keep on top of it, paying by due date, making sure all the necessaries are done to schedule. Despite the fact that my final paycheck from the job that recently went belly up is going to be late. Heavy sigh.

No matter, all I have to do is keep my own personal money-go-round moving and we’ll all be golden.

Until the next idiocy comes flying at me like a rabid raccoon on acid.

Update:
Okay, paid a brief visit to the mailbox of the company that just let me go. There was nothing for me to do but it was full of increasingly shrill “Where are you?” Emails. I guess someone didn’t get the memo then.

Also. I forgot. It’s a long holiday weekend! I won’t have any middle-of-the-night-must be-done stuff for three whole freakin days! What am I going to do……… ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ (Snore)

Another day

Elderly friend is phoning us at least six times a day from her care home bed, she’s fretting over trivialities because she’s got nothing better to do. Contrariwise I hear Bojo, the UK’s suspiciously unclownish PM has been admitted to hospital and thence ICU. Hope it’s for a treatment that works. I may not like absolutely everything he’s done, but he’s a lot better than many alternatives. That said, he’s in for a rough ride. Good luck to him. Looks like he’ll be hors de combat for the next week or two.

We’re okay. Just hunkering down and weathering the storm like any sensible people. We get out on the deck whenever the sun shines and work allows. I’ve had a minor morning cough, but nothing much. Just a seasonal snotty nose. No other symptoms. Mrs S says I need a haircut because I’m looking a bit shaggy around the edges and has threatened to stake me out on the lawn while she gives me a quick run over with the lawnmower. Unfortunately all the local barbers are shut, so it may well come to that. Am I afraid? Good God yes.

Out in the neighbourhood, every day looks like Sunday. It all looks so peaceful. Neighbours doing chores, mowing lawns, fixing odd bits and pieces, cutting wood. We’ve even sighted a couple of the older deer looking a bit unkempt, but the usual bucks, fawns and yearlings are conspicuous by their absence.

Oh well, another day, another crisis, another fix. This afternoon I was playing around with four man sized Kleenex, a bit of plastic packaging wire, some sellotape and a little twine. Result; twenty minutes later one perfectly adequate limited-use four layer pleated face mask. Not up to Operating Theatre or Intensive Care Unit standard, but good enough to keep the worst of the dreaded lurgi contained or at bay when out and about or in a shop. And comfortable enough to wear for a couple of hours.

Talking of the dreaded lurgi, a clue has surfaced regarding misleading Covid-19 figures from China. Now cell phones are used for everything over there. Even small transactions. Apparently even the smallest street vendor uses them. This being the case, a stat poked it’s head above the parapet recently saying that twenty one million cell phones have gone inactive in mainland China over the last three months.

Now AP says that this is a bit of fake news as it’s all about cell phone users with multiple accounts cancelling unwanted phone plans. Which on the surface makes perfect sense. Okay, it’s rather a lot to happen all in a relatively short time frame, but it’s probably mostly down to their travel ban. People are obviously rationalising multiple SIMs and cell phone accounts, but still, that’s a very high figure. We don’t cancel our phone SIMs just because we’ve had to miss a trip. What is actually interesting is that a total of 840,000 landlines went dead in the very same period. Which is also, upon first examination, a high figure. I have no idea what the usual phone line turnover is, so cannot draw any solid conclusions.

However, other news keeps popping up about mass deliveries of cremation urns being delivered within China, which look, and I’m choosing my words with caution here, look like there are a lot more deaths than official figures would indicate. Then there are the people who are just dropping off the grid in mainland China. The usual crop of dissidents, but still, it’s a lot more than would be expected, so maybe a fraction of those dead cell phone and landline accounts reflect a higher death count than we’re being told. It’s hard to make an assessment with such limited information but enough to flag up on the old bullshit detectors.

What might be useful, as a way of compiling a predictive model, is to reverse engineer the Covid-19 stats from Northern Italy which would give a better idea of what is happening behind the bamboo curtain and great firewall of China. Not that it matters. No doubt the Chinese Communist leadership will be reaping the gales of wrath behind their polite smiles in the very near future, as voices are already calling for a boycott on anything made in the PRC.

For my own part I’m watching the disease stats closely, as they may well impact the travel plans we have for September. We may even need some kind of permit to travel involving getting some sort of ‘we’re immune’ documentation that is recognised on both sides of the pond. That will be when the restrictions are lifted and a decent antigen test becomes available, not those shoddy ones currently emanating from mainland China.

All this and spring rolls too

While we’re closeted away, amongst all the other stuff I’m getting up to is that I’m trying to expand my culinary catalogue. I can produce a reasonable facsimile of special fried rice, Cantonese style, but last night I was handed the following challenge by Mrs S; Szechwan style fried rice.

First try was a bit hit and miss as I had to adapt and improvise on ingredients, however, throwing in a little handful of fried chicken and fudging my ingredients a bit of a with powdered Ginger and chili flakes actually brought forth a reasonable result. Add some store bought vegetable spring rolls and the final result was quite acceptable. A nice amount of heat in the mouth without searing the old vocal cords. I’ll post the recipe when I have had more practice and my results are consistent.

While I’m on the topic of diet, rummaging through memories of decades old (Some out of date, some not) training, there is a well founded school of thought out there that a healthy diet helps the immune system fight off infection. Foods rich in vitamin D and Zinc are good against the viruses that result in colds and flu. So if you partake of Oysters, Lobster or red meat once a week, your cellular zinc should be high enough to help fight off the worst of anything. For vegetarians, beans and pulses are modestly endowed with the necessary, as are mushrooms and spinach but supplements like cod liver oil and vitamin D2 or D3 (D2 is plant based, D3 animal based) will be needed. But as Vitamin D is a ‘fat soluble’ vitamin, a low fat diet may not be such a good idea in the face of a pandemic. As is covering up on a sunny day. Vitamin D is essential to a healthy immune system. Without enough of either you’re more likely to be a candidate for a ventilator.

Note to the dense; licking things made of zinc is not a good idea to get your Recommended Daily Allowance. Firstly, it’s the wrong kind of zinc, like fish tank cleaner isn’t pharmaceutical grade anti-viral chloraquine, and secondly, dietary zinc in foods needs to be bound to specific molecules within those foods which your digestive system has evolved to process. Which is why you are only supposed to take these supplements with food. So directly trying to ingest metallic zinc won’t work, and heavy metal poisoning is no laughing matter.

Side note; dietary advice from anyone who uses the word ‘veggies’ instead of ‘vegetables’ should automatically be considered suspect. It’s soft language used to cover up a lack of ability and sophistication and is so far from cool it could be considered as the real cause of the minor increase of global temperature we’re constantly harangued about that is going to drown everybody and is all our fault. At least according to people who have more than three houses each and fly everywhere on private jets without ever having done a proper job in the real world.

Candidly, baby talk should be reserved for babies and Mumsnet. Anyone using such regressive speech to grown ups needs to take and pass a proper course in English. That and be tested for schizophrenia.

Explanation; ‘veggies’ is a classic neologism and such neologisms are symptomatic of low grade hebephrenia, a type of schizophrenia or may even be a precursor to dementia. Some authorities even say that ‘precursor to’ may not be the right term and would substitute ‘symptomatic of’.

Communications wise, the world and his wife are currently bombarding us with nauseating saccharine email messages about the dreaded Wu-flu, assuring us that their services will not be affected and that they ‘care’ about us deeply. Everyone has ‘resources to support you’ which turn out to be not much different to the usual online services I use on a day to day basis. I blame the parents of people who grew up watching the Tellytubies and Care Bears pap on TV. Which makes me convinced too much TV negatively affects brain development in infants.

These spammy emails and messages are actually beginning to get rather tiresome and intrusive. Yes, fine. We’re in bloody lockdown and honestly we don’t need anyone’s ‘help’, which is only a thinly disguised marketing ploy anyway. We’re grown ups who have crossed continents and only require that anyone we pay for a service does what they contract to do. Yes, I’m cynical, but my experiences have made me so.

That and it’s tax paying time. Because we did so well last year, my tax bill has almost tripled. Unfortunately for me, all the gains I made last year have just been wiped out, so I’ll have to dig into my savings, my ‘walkaway money’ as Mrs S likes to call it to pay. Which some call ‘rainy day money’ – and boy is it pouring right now. It’s also been real four season weather outside. Snow, hail, wind, then sunshine. In other words, Spring.

Maybe Spring will mean the collapse of the Trudeau government and it’s complete ineptness in the face of two crises (in 2020 alone!) so we can get someone in who will stop being such a muppet and be half way economically sensible. I live in hope. But I’m not holding my breath.

Another observation; our local deer population has not been seen for over four weeks. Normally they’re snacking on everything with a flower on it. Are they packing someone’s freezer somewhere? Not that I care, our garden is not being denuded as it usually is by the freeloading little sods.

Speaking of gardens, our daffs are starting to fade but my tulips are coming on strong and buds everywhere are beginning to break. We’ll survive.

Update:
Read the abstract on this 2015 paper on immunology. It confirms that proper nutrition can help resist viral infections.

Digging out

Well, the snow has stopped falling and our driveway cleared after an hour of vigorous snow shoveling on my part. It was good exercise as there was between ten and eighteen inches of global warming snow to shift. Now my working morning is being punctuated by soft subsonic thumps as the ten inches or so of snow on the roof slides off in a series of mini avalanches as a welcome thaw sets in. However the sun is out and I’m looking forward to getting out of the house for the first time since Friday. Or was it Saturday? Bloody hell, I’ve lost track. It’s already Thursday.

Working from a home office is all very well, but you do need a change of scenery after four or five days or a little cabin fever starts to set in. So we’re going out. I’ll deal with the rest of the shenanigans my morning job throws at me later. It’s only numbers. Easy enough.

The outside world trundles on without any input from this household. The Iranians have ‘fessed up to downing that Ukrainian airliner and are having to put up a patsy to take the fall for an error from higher up the food chain. BREXIT moves ever closer to a WTO ‘no deal’ outcome because the Eurocrats are still trying to stymie the whole process and why wouldn’t they? That’s their fat expense accounts that are about to walk out the door. A seventh of total EU yearly contributions are about to wander off whistling happily. Unless they get their act together, fast.

If asked I’d say the spectacle was almost pathetic, rather like the Limp Dem peer who essentially called all pro-Brexit voters ‘ignorant Nazi’s’. Which just illustrates the depths of desperation some people will sink to.

Despite all the whining and bitching from the opposition benches, who seem to be of the disarrayed mindset that if they can’t direct the game, they’re going to run interference for the opposition, things proceed. Unfortunately for them, Bojo has his majority and can more or less ramrod through the necessary legislation regardless of any opposition from the upper house. Blair set the example in the 00’s with his repeated use of the Parliament act, so the boot is now firmly on the other foot.

For BREXIT night itself I’ll be laying in a bottle of pink fizz to drink the health of the dear old UK and wish everyone in the old country every possible success. Eleven pm UK time translates to three pm Pacific, so a Friday afternoon glass of bubbles should provide a happy end to that working week.

Anyway. Where’s me shades? That reflected snowlight is getting kind of intense.

Off the wagon

Our seasonal snow has arrived and at the time of writing is drifting down in big fat lazy flakes. Mrs S and I have hunkered down and are getting on with the usual run of things. Which has led to me needing a stiff drink of an evening to unwind. Just the one.

Work is gearing up, but it looks like one of my current jobs is going to disappear during the next round of reorganisation. However, that’s six months down the line and I’m busy looking to replace that specific income stream. Of course it might not happen, but my instincts tell me it’s better than 50:50 so I’m on the hunt for an alternative.

Of course there are lots of minimum wage alternatives, but I’m a number cruncher, a linker of information chains, so going for one of the plentiful minimum wage McJobs out there isn’t something I want to do. I’ve served my term face to face with the general dyslexic and reckon I deserve the rest of my lifetime off. So, that kind of narrows my choices, as does the notion that Canada is getting less hospitable with all it’s hate crime laws and suchlike. There’s no way I personally am going to persuade the rest of the populace that voting for the wetter kind of politician like Trudeau or Scheer is a bad move. Time to bail out.

Won’t be going back to the UK. I’ve gotten used to the sheer wide open spaces of this part of the world. Rudyard Kipling’s Chant-Pagan sums up how I feel about that option. No idea what the future holds, but I’ll give it the old college try.

Last ride of the season

Still coughing and spluttering a bit to the point where my upper chest aches first thing in the morning. This London cough has been no fun at all. I’ve been home for three weeks and it’s hanging around like a bad smell. Gone but certainly not forgotten.

The other not so good news is that the Mutts insurance finishes tomorrow. So I went for a quick spin around town for the last time this afternoon before I put my big blue motorcycle into storage. Temperatures locally have settled into the single digits with some serious hail on Tuesday, some of which, like my cough, I noted was still hanging around at the edges of the road as I rode around town.

When I was bowling along happily in the sunlight it wasn’t too bad, but once passing through shadows for more than a kilometre, despite several layers of insulation I felt the cold leaking in. After an hours meandering around at both highway and urban speeds I retreated home feeling like I’d been working in a cold store, naked. Chilled to my bones. Haven’t felt this cold since I was soaked to the skin on a rainy Winter days foot patrol. It was just like half my body heat had leaked away.

Now as Mrs S likes to say I have what she calls a ‘cold weather metabolism’. Anything above zero Celsius doesn’t really bother me. Normally speaking. I can sit in an unheated room in light clothing while everybody else has chattering teeth. Think there must be some hidden Geordie in my DNA. So the wind chill must have been getting into sub zero territory. Should have worn my trusty old heavy leather riding jacket rather than my Summer riding gore-tex. Maybe some heavier gloves and switched on the heated grips. However, we can all be wise after the event can’t we?

Oh well, it all burns calories and I’m off to arrange some storage insurance tomorrow before I put the Mutt into hibernation mode for the Winter. Not that I won’t be running the engine at least twice a week to keep the battery alive and fluids circulating. Then when the temperatures begin to rise in Spring I’ll put full riders insurance on again and get out and about. Not that it’s been a great riding season for fair weather riders like me. To be quite honest I hear all the panicmongering about the coming heat death of the universe as promised by the UN and think “Bring it on.” Some higher temperatures and less rain, at least around Victoria BC this Summer, would have been nicer. I remember the foreshortened riding seasons of the 1970’s and 80’s. Those weren’t much fun.

Now there’s a promise of a longer, thirty year global cold period coming, perhaps even a descent into a new Maunder-like solar minimum, which kind of makes a nonsense of all the rhetoric about oceans drowning the cities or higher temperatures making places uninhabitable. Seriously, haven’t these people heard of galoshes or air conditioning? No really. I’ve a sneaking notion that as things cool we’ll actually see global CO2 levels stop rising or even begin to drop off as outgassing from the oceans that cover two thirds of our little blue green planet reduces or even reverses. The upside of which will mean that all the carbon doomsayers will have to find something sensible to talk about. Not that it’s likely. Some people just aren’t happy if there’s nothing to act up about. Me, I like being able to relax and enjoy things. We only get one life each and it’s important not to waste it.

The downside of a global cooling means coughing up funds for some better insulated riding gear. Winter drawers on as they say. Note to self; must get some shares in Damart or other maker of thermal underwear. Now there’s a marketplace which is due to take off in the next few years.

Boring….

A bit bored at the moment. We’re on the run up to London in just under a month and looking for places to entertain ourselves. I’m rather put out because the weather around here has turned quite damp, so the Mutt is currently snuggled up under cover and I find myself reluctant to look out of the window at the rain. Such are the issues with being a fair weather only rider. I’ve got a hankering to take a run up past Comox (450km there and back, all right, 280miles) or even Campbell River (530km round trip, about 330miles) to clear some accumulated cobwebs.

On the plus side, work is under control and Management are happy with the what’s, why’s and wherefores of my workload, which I can handle without difficulty because I’ve whittled a number of tasks, including my weekly reporting, down to a few mouse clicks. It’s all a question of streamlining and automating the simpler procedures, which I’ve had time to do over the Summer, even with me and the Mutt sneaking out for two or three hundred kilometre long rides while things are slack. The mountain loop round Sooke and up to Port Renfrew, thence over the hump to Duncan via Lake Cowichan and back to the barn is a favourite. The road surface gets a bit rough after China bay and up to Port Renfrew but it’s very scenic. You go from a massive vista over the Pacific, where there’s nothing between you and Japan to nice tightening curves between the hills, dodging the logging trucks as you gain altitude. Snow normally hits the high ground in early November on this particular leg, so this is a Summer only pleasure. The Mutt is going into cold storage in the garage until the end of April 2020, so I’ll be making the most of all the sunshine we have left until October.

I was rather hoping that the warmer weather would continue for a while, but like I said, it’s raining and I’m no longer happy to don waterproofs and duke it out with everything the British and European sky can hand out. Never mind the Canadian weather. Yes, you can call me a wuss, but over the years I’ve ridden in everything from blazing heat waves where the mercury casually blew past the hundred and ten Fahrenheit (Forty three Celsius) marker to thunderstorms, torrential downpours where the rain meets itself coming back up, cannonball pea sized hail and even near whiteout blizzards. I’ve come home soaked to the skin through full waterproofs and on a couple of occasions with my leathers covered in a quarter inch of ice. So. Been there, done that, not dumb enough to want to do it again.

One of the benefits of my current age is experience and what I consider a little hard won wisdom. So there.

Just a bit of weather

While all the zombie peeps are getting up in arms about ‘saving the planet’ by taxing CO2, might I point out we’re getting another dump of late season snow up in the Rockies. It’s June FFS! I know the old saying goes “Ne’er cast a clout until May be out” but this is ridiculous. Or hasn’t Madame Tracey stepped out of Number Ten yet? She is taking an unconscionable time a-going. So casting any clout of any description or size before she’s gone will be highly premature. Come on girl, get your walking shoes on! Some of us are waiting, clout in hand, to cast it over our shoulder with gay abandon and we can’t do that unless May is out properly. I don’t know, some people just have no consideration.

While we were waiting I took Mrs S out on the back of the Mutt (For those who missed the memo it’s a big blue sports tourer) today for a forty kilometre spin out to Sooke for coffee and a snack before heading back to the barn. Nice and easy little eighty kilometre run. She’s getting more confident on the bends, remembering how to move with the bike, not fight the motion as she was originally doing, which gave me a few headaches, Nevertheless we got home safe and I could feel her relaxing all the way back. She wasn’t holding on so tightly or gripping my hips with her thighs so much.

Which made the ride a pleasant little saunter to catch the air before the rain paid us a visit. Which it has, although not as much as prophesied. Maybe it’s all heading over to the Rockies?

After the warmth of the last few days it has felt a little cooler today. Not enough to warrant adding another layer to my jacket (It’s one of those fancy three layer gore-tex mesh things) but quite refreshing. I really had forgotten how bloody wonderful it is to ride again. Although I’ve long maintained that riding a motorcycle is more real than driving a car. The best analogy I’ve ever come up with is that driving is like watching the match on a big screen TV, while riding is like being on the pitch and in the game itself. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like driving as well, but if given the choice of a sunny day out on the open road it will be Jacket, boots, gloves, helmet, and see ya later. I have been known to get quite carried away. Usually over a hundred miles away from where I started.

Anyway, milady needs new riding gloves as the lining on her twenty year old Belstaffs have begun to disintegrate, so a quick amble downtown is called for tomorrow. As it’s liable to be showery the Mutt will stay home covered and chained up in his kennel, while Thumper, our reliable little All Wheel Drive will ferry us through the traffic to a little store I know.

Back in the saddle

While the weather is nice I’ve been spending far less time at my desk and more time out on the road. Nothing much, just a gentle scootle around on the big blue mutt. No more than fifty kilometres a time, taking it easy and enjoying the wind in my face, the extra air that riding allows. Even got Mrs S on the back today for a short trundle out to get some coffee and buns for breakfast. As a pillion passenger she needs to re-learn a few things, but I’ll make sure she gets the practice.

How the old habits come back. Watching at least five cars ahead, upper middle gears through town with the revs around three thousand, ready to pull a quick stop or give it a fistful and speed my way out of trouble. Giving the odd drop V or acknowledgement to the other Sunday riders. Slipping easily into the bends and gently accelerating out. My internal soundtrack playing the Runaways “Cherry Bomb” as we gently tootled our way back to the barn.

If this is ‘toxic masculinity’ I’m all for it. Screw the angsty soyboys and lemon sucking feminista’s. They might think they’ll live longer but they won’t. In prisons of their own making their politically correct lives will be joyless greyness, punctuated by saccharine faux-laughter and massive student debt before the final hammer falls. All they will know is empty noise devoid of real emotion. My experience is that the lottery of life deals out the good and bad completely at random and the best you can do is have decent insurance for when things go wrong. As they will. As for the rest, well, I’ll leave you with this bit of Irish folk wisdom adapted from an old song called “The Moonshiner”.

I’m a rambler I’m a gambler I’m a long way from home
and if you don’t like me then leave me alone
I’ll eat when I’m hungry and I’ll drink when I’m dry
and if this one don’t kill me I’ll live till I die

That’s enough for now, our deck garden needs a little water and the essays of Montaigne await. The carnations are flowering like they’re on steroids and my two sunflowers are growing at something around two inches as day. I won’t tell you what the pansies are up to, but I’m sure you can guess.

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.

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.