Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Off colour

Although there is much in the news that I could comment on like Icebreakers getting stuck in the supposedly shrinking Arctic ice cap and the continuing insanity of politicians trying to 'fix' the climate with taxes, I just don't feel like it. Although the main project 'First Flights' MSS approaches 90,000 words as of this evening, and I've just written a quite dramatic sequence, where one of the lead characters has to make a forced landing, I can't be bothered to write about much else.

This blog is rather neglected because not much happens out here apart from the visits of local wildlife. Things like getting within ten metres of two Bald Eagles on a morning walk with my dog, first sighting of a Possum (I think). What can I say? The Eagles are bloody huge, with wingspans wider than I am tall, and their talons look like serious pieces of kit. I see them dive bombing the local fish population every day. The Possum, if that's what it was, showed my dog a clean pair of heels across a neighbours garden. Dog pulled up short and looked at me with a bemused 'What do you want me to do with that, boss?' look on his face.

Dog is going for shearing on Friday morning, as when the thermometer bobs over twenty degrees, his thick coat makes him pant and fret when he gets too hot.

I have been feeling a bit 'off' as well recently, and perhaps am in need of one of my periodic protein binges. Every so often I like to eat something like a Liver and bacon casserole, heavy on the liver. This is rich in iron and vitamin A, and despite extensive experimentation, I have yet to find anything which boosts me out of the 'doldrums' better. Fish and Chicken just can't cut it. My hunter gatherer adapted digestive system needs red meat periodically, and the thought of a vegetarian diet fills me with nausea.

Monday, May 26, 2008

What's wrong with Britain?

Reading the dear old 'Torygraph' as I do for a giggle every morning (Afternoon GMT), I find great discomfiture / hilarity at the comments in the 'Your View' section. Occasionally I will post a comment I feel is germane to the thread to try and introduce a note of reality to the "Hang 'em and flog 'em" and the "You Tory brutes it's all your fault" factions. Sometimes, what I feel is a very mild but valid comment is disallowed by the moderator, where others which are more vituperative and intemperate, posted under an 'anonymous' monicker slide straight into the comment thread without censure.

That being the case; today I posted on a thread, "Who is to blame for Britain's Knife-crime epidemic" with the photo caption (sic)'People pay their respects for Rob Knox, the latest teenager to have been killed in Briatin's knife-crime epidemic.' to the effect that the UK has plenty of laws against violent crime, in that one risks imprisonment; and rightly too, for stabbing another person, and that the real blame should be laid unequivocally at the door of those who would deny their offspring would ever stick a sharpened sliver of metal into another human being because of something they said / the way they looked. The comment was disallowed. All right, I may have taken the piss out of the photo caption spelling 'Britain' as 'Briatin', but my point had validity.

Notwithstanding, you get the distinct impression that some people just like getting all heated about things and the newspaper concerned will pander to them; logic and humanity be damned. Just because it engenders a few more web site hits / copies sold.

Any old how. It's been raining and thundering quite heavily for the past hour. Dog managed to lock himself in the toilet, don't ask me how, and it took some deft work with a screwdriver to free my cowering pet. Bless him, he does get so frightened by thunderstorms. Dog is now hiding in his travel cage under a rug, the thunder is gone and I've almost passed the 3000 word mark for the day. I think I've earned a drink tonight.

How do they get away with it?

I've been looking with a certain amount of foreboding at the mainstream media. These are sources that elevate a film 'Extra' to a 'Star' or 'Actor'. Just because the poor bastard got knifed to death by some low life while protecting his brother. Having done Drama School in my youth, and come out with a real live qualification, I know what the difference is. An 'Extra' on a film or TV set is mobile scenery, background. An 'Actor' is someone who gets to deliver lines, even if it is only two words, like "Yes, sir." A 'Star' is a leading man / lady or lead supporting actor.

How and more to the point why, does the mainstream media get away with this utter nonsense? Are their readerships so ignorant or ill-schooled that they can't tell the difference? Glad I don't spend money on their lowbrow publications.

As for knives? Well, most people I meet over here in Canada have some bladed implement on their person at all times. It's a tool, you use it for sharpening things, cutting things, shaping things. To use one on a person would never cross their mind unless in extremis. Besides, the RCMP tend to frown on that sort of thing, and they can be rather unforgiving; and quite rightly so.

The only thing I take when reading mainstream news media nowadays is a ready cynicism, and knowing disbelief. After all, they're only in it to sell copies.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Reasons to be cheerful

Blueback Pale Ale
Mars Phoenix Lands safely
Friends Wedding Anniversaries
Job offers
Log Booms in the morning
Strange vehicles

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The snow has finally disappeared off Mount Benson, the skies are delightfully blue, and today the breezes are warm and balmy.

Thus it is I have dredged up a non-alcoholic drink recipe with a definite 'hit' which Wife and I often enjoy.

Two 12 or 16 fluid oz highball glasses
Half an iceberg (The big white cold type, not the green leafy thing)
Roses Lime Cordial
Chilled Canada Dry Ginger Ale
Two slices of Lime
Two Slices of Lemon

Directions; Fill glasses about two thirds full with ice. Pour over one capful (No more) of Roses Lime Cordial per glass. Wipe Lime slice around rim of each glass and cut slice through rind and slip onto the edge of the glass so it stands upright. Do likewise with the slice of lemon. Pour Canada Dry Ginger Ale over ice. Sip slowly.

Of course you can add a shot of vodka or gin to the mix, but Wife and I tend to think this is over egging the pudding.

80,000 Words

And cracking away. Another 20,000 to go before the climax and cliffhanger ending I have in outline. Then I might go and have a revamp of 'Cerberus Conspiracy' to see what I can do with the lead character to make him a little more easy on the narrative.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


There are some things in life that always brighten your day. Some things which, no matter what the rest of the world is doing, just get on with it and actually work properly despite all the metaphorical slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Today I write in praise of Vancouver Island Regional Library, of which I am a very happy member. Their web site works nicely, and although searching their extensive catalogue can get a bit user fiendish sometimes; with a minor attitude adjustment on my part, I can happily navigate to order what books and tapes take my fancy. Love their extensive collection of DVD's, even if there is a waiting list for the more popular items.

For both Wife and myself, the Nanaimo branch has been a sanity (And on some occasions a relationship) saver all through last Fall, Winter and Spring. The staff are unfailingly helpful, and despite being the most favoured daytime locale for the down and out population of the city, remarkably upbeat and knowledgeable.

What is best is that so long as you bring borrowed items back within the loan period and accrue no fines, the whole thing is free and paid for out of local property taxes. None of those extra charges for borrowing talking books, CD's and DVD's that you get at English libraries. No 'overnight' or 'weekly' borrowing. You borrow for three weeks at a time, and that's it.

If any of the staff ever drop by in their web surfing (Not that it's likely of course). Keep up the good work. Yes I will return that book. I'm sure I left it on the kitchen table, honest. Sorry about the marmalade and coffee stains. Did my best.

Am feeling pretty chipper because the writing continues apace and is getting ready for a full stretch gallop down the home stretch to the denouement. Have also been given a printer and scanner by a friend, buckshee, for nothing. Ooh look, the sun is shining too. Triffic.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ice core data meaningless?

One of the arguments mooted in favour of Anthropogenic Global Warming was about the CO2 content of ice cores and it's correlation with global climate variance. Now we find a serious, peer reviewed scientific paper which clearly states the following;
The CO2 content of ancient air is directly preserved neither in the total CO2 concentration nor in the CO2 concentration in the bubbles.
So, er... all that stuff about ice cores was known to be wrong as long ago as 1977?

Hat tip to An Englishmans Castle. Pass it on.

Here we go...

I read with some distress that the UK Government has decided that it wishes to keep a database of all e-mails and internet use of UK citizens. This is a disaster waiting to happen. An identity thieves licence to print money.

My assertions are based on the simple premise that no matter what the conspiracy theorists might say, Governments are really, really bad at keeping secrets. They leak like rusty colanders. Too many people have access to the data, too many people without the aptitude or initiative to keep private matters private.

Now Wife and I have bank accounts in the UK, and use the Internet to manage our money. The Banks and ourselves are pretty careful about what precautions we take to protect that money. I also occasionally send original short stories and full length MSS via e-mail to publishers. This is very convenient and a lot easier and cheaper than spending a hundred or so dollars on printing and postage. Now if our communications with the UK are intercepted and the details of use recorded, what is to stop some dissatisfied government employee helping themselves to that sensitive data; stealing our bank account access details, or even hijacking my stories and passing them off as their own without my knowledge? I work hard at my trade, often for little return, and am annoyed that Government thinks it has the right to know everything I say and do.

Now I know that there is nothing truly private on the Internet; but to stick all the details in one place is like placing what is left of the UK's gold reserves in the public foyer of the local town hall. Especially considering the appalling data security track record of the UK Government.

They tell us it is 'to protect us from terrorism'. Well boys, here is the news; the real bad boys of terrorism don't generally use the Internet and regular High Street banks. The amateurs might, but they are the ones who get caught. Real terrorists use networks of couriers, and 'trust' systems of banking outside the normal network of banks. They know how easy it is to track activities such as theirs with even fairly basic techniques on modern data processing networks. So they don't tend to use them. Phones can be tapped. So they use anonymous couriers instead.

I've said this before and I will keep on saying it until someone listens or at least tells me to shut up, because then I will be sure that someone at least read this; you don't catch many frogs by damming the whole river. Frogs can happily leave the water and go round the dam. Us poor bloody minnows can't. All that will happen is that those who can adapt to bypass the restrictions, will, and the rest of us will end up being ripped off and put down by the very governments we pay taxes to.

I predict that tax agencies will demand access to your internet and e-mail to check for unpaid taxes, environment agencies to see what car you drive, or the picture of the big guy you caught and forgot to log on your fishing permit. Just about every arm of government will want it's finger in our personal pie. Yet there will be no net benefit to us as ordinary law abiding people. The services we pay our taxes for will not improve. We will just end up paying for more government.

Insanity. The base premise of terrorism is to cause governments to repress their population as a response to minor acts of 'terror', and by doing so cause that population to revolt and destabilise the government, leaving a nice little power vacuum for the terrorists and revolutionaries to waltz in and sieze power for themselves. With repressive measures like these, it looks like the terrorists are doing pretty well, doesn't it?

Funny really, as my current MSS 'first flights' has a significant backstory thread about a dystopian Europe where just such policies are in place and the last of the British Resistance is crushed. It's at times like these I feel almost messianic.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The latest panic

Pootling through the newspapers and read that, according to a report, 27 percent of species on the planet Earth have gone extinct since the 1970's. I was actually very surprised, and rather concerned to read this until I saw where the report came from. Then I relaxed.

My reasons for not panicking? Well for one, the study came via the World Wide Fund for Nature, the WWF. That highly reliable source about all things natural. At this juncture the report became meaningless to me. Certain Environmental groups have, in my eyes at least, seriously devalued their integrity with false assertions, wild exaggerations and in certain cases, outright dishonesty. In short, if they said the sky was blue I'd poke my head out of the house for a quick look see.

Personally, I'd like confirmation by a more reputable source, one that actually named the species lost, rather than the sweeping media generalisations. Even if it was true, what on Earth could we do about it apart from do something about humanity? Perhaps they might suggest a cull of some sort as the answer? If so, how many? Are the 100,000 said to have died in Burma enough? The Earthquake deaths in China? Maybe one of the ongoing famines in Africa? Okay guys, where do you want to start to 'save' the planet?

Maybe we should do what Douglas Adams characters did with the whining environmentalists who complained about a potential Disaster Area concert. That is, go for a meeting with them and have them all shot.

Good times

Busy honing first 70,000 words of manuscript and occasionally visiting the dear old English Daily Telegraph for a chuckle. My problem with it is; although I find it easier to navigate etc than the Times, Grauniad, or Independent, of late both Firefox and IE6 have repeatedly crashed whenever one of their thrice accursed Shockwave adverts has popped up. Updated my Shockwave plugins, no joy. Reinstalled the most recent browser version with all service packs, still my browsers keep nosediving in flames. Quite frankly, if it wasn't for the Opinion and Letters pages and the Matt and Alex cartoons, I wouldn't bother.

This morning I rolled out of my bed to a gorgeous Vancouver Island day. It's quieter than an old fashioned library, with only birdsong and the sound of the tide to break the silence. Oh, and Wife reading out choice bits of her latest Psychology book to me. As a minor act of retaliation, I pointed her at the Wikipedia list of Cognitive Biases and List of Fallacies to give her some analytical tools to work with. I'm sure this will backfire on me at some stage or other when she wants to dissect some of my more preciously held assertions.

Well, time for a quick whiz round the blogs before I walk Dog, spend some time fishing, and maybe some writing. The end of my Science Fiction Manuscript 'First Flights' is in sight, and I have a cracking cataclysmic ending for it, just got to knit the narrative strands together over the next 30,000 words or so. Then of course comes the tedious and soul destroying search for a publisher who will actually look at the bloody thing. There are so many who will not. I think they're all looking for the next Harry Potter phenomenon. Then again, who knows what will pique the public demand? A good story with good characters always has a fighting chance.

I don't mind, I will carry on with the day job and pick up the threads on a couple of writing projects which are simmering on the back burner at present. Maybe start something completely new.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I'm sorry, but the desperation of some people to prove that the minimal effect mankind has on the climate just takes the biscuit. Now, according to some 'British Scientists' fat people are to blame for accelerating 'Global warming'. Oh my. I'm sorry, but this just, I'm lost for words at this latest piece of nonsense.

The global temperature has not increased since 1998. In anything, a slight downward trend has been observed. The last eighteen months in particular have shown cooler weather around the globe. This may or may not indicate a 'cooling' effect. So if I've got this right, this bunch of 'scientists' are blaming fat people for causing an effect which isn't really happening. I mean, what are they giving out Degrees for at British Universities nowadays? Are the 'scientists' in question trying to win the Man Booker prize for fiction?

Stuff this, the Weather around Nanaimo and in BC generally has finally warmed above the twenty Celsius mark, so I'm off out to catch some rays in my front yard. Long weekend over in BC, and I intend to enjoy every minute.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bear faced foolishness

The latest piece of US environmental idiocy is now front page news, with the Polar Bear population (Which has expanded from an estimated 5,000 to currently 25,000 plus since the 1960's) has been given 'Threatened' status. According to those who have a better handle on this than I do, apparently this will allow environmental groups to sue companies they assert are causing 'global warming'.

Now any I think it's safe to predict that lawsuits of this nature are going to be a legal minefield, and will pay for many a lawyers descendents college funds, possibly unto the third or fourth generation. My other thought is; who gets the money? The Environmental groups doing the sueing? I mean, can you have a countersuit against the Bears for killing and eating people, as they are sometimes wont to do? If so, how do you get the Bears to pay compensation? How do they sign the legal forms, and are there process servers dumb enough to try serving papers on them? Will the Inuit nations make legal challenge because Bear hunting boosts their income and is part of their culture? Who will be dumb enough to try and sue them? Will PETA be seen throwing stuff at, or chaining themselves to Northern First Nations politicians in protest? Will the Inuit in their turn, feed the PETA activists to the bears? Oh, the fun will never start.

As for court cases. First, the plaintiffs have got to prove that the seasonal ice melt is sufficient to be harmful to the bears, and then whoever takes out the suit is going to have to prove, in a US court, that CO2 production actually causes the rise in temperature, which it has proven not to do. There is solid evidence that rises in CO2 levels actually follow temperature increases, and not the other way around. This will be interesting. Notwithstanding the continuing failure of the planet to heat up like some of the pundits have claimed it would.

My prediction; either this will come to an embarrassing and very public halt very quickly indeed, or result in cases that run, and run, and run.

Anyway; notwithstanding all that, I am currently cracking away at 3000 words of good copy a day. The story threads are knitting together very nicely, plenty of credible drama, and as far as writing is concerned, I couldn't be doing much better. At this rate I'll have finished project in under a months time. The sun is due to shine this afternoon as well. Might even go fishing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Around 12 today there was a loud booming noise, like you would get when hitting a big steel container with a lump of two by four. Took a look out of the front window. No big trucks in view. Down in the narrows a tug was pulling a log boom northwards to the Harmac, which is supposedly going to close down shortly. Took another look and saw something like a mast sticking up, like a fishing boat stuck amongst the logs. Turned out to be a floating crane in the middle of the boom. You see something new every day round here, despite our relative isolation.

Found Dog hiding in the bathroom as usual, chickenhearted mutt. We used to expect him to cope with street noise, sirens and all sorts when we lived in a town, now he lives out here in the boonies, he gets upset by the least little thing. Poor old thing. I make a fuss of him for reassurance, although that doesn't seem to help.

Read in today's online Telegraph that the UK Ministry of Defence has released more of it's UFO files and that a 'Solar powered bra' has been unveilled. Must be something to do with May's early warm spell. The 'silly season' has come early this year.

Meanwhile, back in BC, it's been raining; but the forecast is for sunshine tomorrow, and a nice warm weekend. That will do me. Back to work.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


60,000 Words in current project MSS. 40,000 or so to go. Storyline good, Characters fleshing out nicely. Dialogue sharp. If only I can keep this up.

Morning musing

I see Al Gore is wittering on about how the increase in Tornadoes / Hurricanes / Typhoons / Duck Migration is all to do with 'global warming', which as he keeps on telling us, is all our fault unless we buy lots of 'Carbon credits'. Gore is a businessman and politician, not a climatologist. When it comes to science, he knows damn all about bugger all, and not much about that.

Upon consideration of the aforementioned, it's just as well the US electorate never had him as President. I think the rest of the world dodged a major bullet the day he wasn't sworn in as leader of the worlds superpower. A bit of a close shave there, I feel.

I only wonder that anyone believes anything he says, or even bother giving the fool a platform.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Good old PJ

I just love the way P J O'Rourke gets his point across;
"Idealists are also bullies. The idealist says, "I care more about the redwood trees than you do. I care so much I can't eat. I can't sleep. It broke up my marriage. And because I care more than you do, I'm a better person. And because I'm the better person, I have the right to boss you around."
Well, according to the Church of St Jones the realist; no they bloody haven't. Although the 'fairness' lobby have managed to screw over the country of my birth pretty comprehensively.

I like PJ. He doesn't mince his words, or pretend to be 'nice'. He seems constantly to ask the question; "What's wrong with enlightened self interest and being well off?" to which the logical answer is; "Not much."

Anyway, wedding anniversary today, on best misbehaviour, nice supper tonight; and the best thing about it is - I don't have to cook it! The only bad thing is - no fishing. Bummer.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Sighted in the Southern part of Dodd narrows at around 10:15, a lot of splashing out in the middle of the channel. At first I thought they were two of the Sea Lion population come to pay us a visit, but before I could get a good look, they were gone. At around 12:00 they turned up again. Two of them, and this time I got a good enough look to definitely identify them as Dolphins and nothing else.

The fins had a particularly sharp profile, which leads me to suspect that they were White sided Dolphins known to be native to BC, although I could not be certain, only having a set of old 7x35mm binoculars. However, they were just mucking about in the water, hunting and generally plaguing hell out of the local fish population. Until two large power boats bimbled up and down the channel, sending the Dolphins diving for safety. Our local seal simply regarded the intruders with his (Her?) habitually mournful expression before diving and heading for the shallow side of the channel to the west of Round Island.

Spent four solid hours down at the waterfront, casting and ledgering until just before three at slack tide with no luck. However, my casting has improved dramatically, and nine out of ten of my casts are well over twenty plus metres. Even managed one or two closer to forty metres than thirty. No fish though. Not even a crab like last time. Never mind.

Wife has been monopolising my ageing 'pooter, having been given the job of rewriting mini biographies of some of the local worthies for the re-opening of Nanaimo's Museum and chopping the prose down to 175 and 75 word chunks. She asks my advice every so often, which is gratifying. I'm also a little amused by the folk who get a bit carried away with the written word. Some of the offerings Wife has had to rewrite have been heading over the verbosity event horizon and accelerating. However, it's easy for me to say this, I've been writing to wordage limits for years, and précis kind of becomes second nature after a while. All it takes is years of abuse.

The manuscript is looking better, although I'm going to have to research a little more plasma physics so my characters sound like they know what they are talking about, even if I don't.

Oh well, it's our Wedding Anniversary tomorrow, and after that we're both helping out at a Kids event down at the Waterfront on Monday. Meeting on Monday night, followed by a busy week. All this and the price of gas going up. Hi ho.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Carbon tax irrationale

While the AGW debate stutters because no one can actually 'prove' that a significant human influenced warming effect actually exists; politico's all over the western world carry on with their insane 'anti-carbon' tax agenda. From my childhood. I was moved to recall a Cummings cartoon in the English Daily Express about the British Government wanting to tax the air everyone breathes. A vague recollection also trips about satirical pieces about a proposed British 'sex licence' from the 1960's.

So the continuing saga of BC's 'Carbon tax' rolls on, with many Northern communities complaining to BC Premier Campbell that it is a 'discriminatory' tax.

For myself I wonder how all this 'tax' is going to 'save the planet'. What is the money raised going to go towards? My thinking is that it will disappear without trace into the general tax pot, never to be seen again. All the new tax will do is increase the cost of living for Canadians. All the stuff that the Northern Communities produce for the urban dwellers in the towns and cities will have to go up in price, because the cost of transport will have risen, and simple causal economics dictates that employers and employees cannot keep on absorbing the increased cost of delivering and producing purely due to tax without imposing price rises. Everyone has to eat and stay warm. Especially up in Prince George.

Furthermore, I would also argue that reducing Carbon Dioxide is bad for all BC's trees and actually threatens wildlife because trees and plants need CO2 for photosynthesis. If the 'Reduce CO2' faction get their way and somehow manage (Not that this is likely, unless we all stop breathing) to reduce the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere, this will eventually harm the trees and plants, then the wildlife, then eventually humans. More CO2 is not a bad thing. For the minuscule and unproven 'warming' effect it has, water vapour being a much greater 'greenhouse gas', it's not even worth bothering about.

As for 'peer reviewed' research, I say that nothing was ever proved by 'consensus' science. Did Einstein have a peer review? Edison? Faraday? Tesla? Lister? No, they went ahead and proved that their approaches actually worked. Then again, I would say that, I was trained as an Engineer. Engineering is all about dealing with realities, not vague theories and suppositions. To me these are as valid as Paley's 'Watchmaker' fallacy, of which 'Intelligent design' is merely a crude makeover.

On a different tack, I was asking a work colleague how one went about getting a piece of land 're-zoned' for residential building. He gave me a couple of suggestions, before vouchsafing; "Of course if that doesn't work, you could always try bribing the Mayor."
"How much does he usually charge?" I responded. "Is there some kind of price list?" Sometimes BC politics seems so surreal.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

First catch, Tempura batter and good feeling

The past couple of days I have been away from the keyboard, fishing and cooking and generally chilling out. Not much to do on the work front, and as output on the writing front has been bombing along at 3000+ words a day, I have elected to take it easy and rethink some of the story lines. Wife monopolised my battered old Compaq for her Museum project, and I have been making myself scarce in case she asked me to help out.

Today my fishing activities actually bore fruit. Took advantage of the very low tides and decided to do something about my casting technique. As I have blogged before, I can't cast for toffee, or anything else for that matter, and I was determined to find out why. Fixing a 20z weight to my line with a one metre trace, I farted around until I managed to make one cast of over forty metres. This may not sound much to the experts, but for me it was a superhuman effort. Then I looked at what I had done and tried to replicate the technique. After a couple of embarrassingly muffed efforts, I began to drop my casts at a moderate distance from the shoreline. Thirty and forty metres out, spinning the lure back through two to three metres depth of water. I was quite chuffed. I was even more amazed when what I thought was a snag turned into my first catch ever in BC waters. This little guy was hanging off the hook as I reeled in, pursued by something silvery looking, around sixty centimetres long which turned and flipped into the depths as my catch broke surface. Even though he was of edible size, I wasn't interested as at just under 150mm across the shell, there wasn't enough crab meat for two.

Next item of interest was a Live Lewis Moon shell right at the waters edge. Only a moderate sized one at about four inches diameter across the shell, but still, quite a find. I've found much larger specimens like the one in the photo below, but those have been dead tideworn shells, without much of the colour of the live one above.

Oh yes, I also finally cracked making Tempura batter after many previous woeful failures. I would have taken a photograph, but they were eaten before I could find my camera. Shame.

My paying job is going a bit slow at present, without much happening. Just glad I'm not on commission only, at this rate I'd starve. However, as with all these things, you have to keep going. Something always gives in the end.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Another reason

The times we live in! This evening, I spent a relaxed hour down at the waterfront, rod in my hand, standing on my rocks. To my left, facing north, the sea was dark wine coloured, to my right, steel blue like hammered and polished metal. Didn't catch any fish, but I didn't care at all.

Got back home and read the Daily Telegraph online, I know I shouldn't but it's like a drug. I read an opinion piece about how the Telecoms watchdog in the UK, OFcom, had proposed that when you get 'old' you should be microchipped with an RFID type chip that tells you when to take your medicine etc.

Here's my position on the proposal, fuddy duddy dithering fifty year old that I am; the 'State' can stick a microchip in me over my cold, lifeless, freezing, exsanguinated cadaver. The first person to try such a move, even when I am ninety and feeble in both body and mind, will die. I know exactly how, and it doesn't take much strength or speed, believe me. They can keep their hands off my lifeless corpse as well. If they want that, I'll come back and haunt those responsible until they jump off the nearest high building.

This may sound like an extreme position, but what they propose is pretty extreme too, and signals a sinister paradigm shift between the governing and the governed. I pay my taxes in the UK (Or rather did) so that the Government would provide services for the people, not strut around like little demagogues, demanding compliance and obeisance for each half baked piece of control freakery an unelected bunch of mutton heads can come up with.

As far as this proposal is concerned 'Ofcom' can 'Off-fuck'. Those responsible for this heinous proposal can be identified and harassed via the Ofcom web site.

I really should stop reading the papers, they only make me cross. On the other hand, maybe that's not such a bad thing. Anger has it's uses.

Current learning

Today, joy of joys, I finally got my BC fishing permit and this afternoon proceeded to the shoreline to cast my bread upon the waters.

Not that I was expecting to catch anything, although after about half an hour I saw something big and silvery jump out of the water in mid channel. It must have been as long as my arm. Sadly, the bugger was also well out of my reach the best part of a hundred metres off. The currents in the Narrows were as fast as I had anticipated, and quickly swung my lure towards the shoreline and the weed beds. Reeled in and cast again, although I've always been pretty ashamed of my casting ability. Despite being able to pick up large and heavy objects without so much as breaking step, I can't cast to save my life. Can't throw overarm for toffee either. God, it's so fucking embarrassing sometimes. It's not as if the power isn't there, my physical strength is quite impressive, it's just my lousy timing that makes me throw like a dysfunctional toddler.

An hour and two rock snags later, both my fancy ten buck lures had gone and I decided to call it a day. The tide was all wrong, and I was inclined to think I'd picked a poor spot. The tide is too fast just at that spot, and to keep your lure further out you need a much heavier ledgering weight. Not that I'm unhappy. It was beautifully sunny, and I had the beach, such as it is, to myself. There's always tomorrow. I'm working tonight.

Currently the temperatures are a very pleasant sixteen Celsius, and I haven't taken my Polaroid shades off all day. Yeah. Still a chill in the wind, but the forecast is for more of the same all week. I can do this.

You see something new every day

Yesterday's novelty was watching a log boom do a U-turn in the narrowest part of Dodd Narrows at low tide. Was walking Dog in the morning and noted the amount of boat traffic going north. Around here it's usually so quiet at this time of year that five boats passing through the channel is rush hour. I counted eight, plus a log boom being chugged north by one of the ever busy tugs. At first, the tug kept to the far side of the channel by Mudge Island, letting the other traffic go past. As it got level with Joan Point something odd appeared to happen. A blue hulled sailing yacht, a fifteen metre boat with two masts which had been following the seventy five metre long boom had to stop and go backwards.

Being a curious sort, I ambled up the foreshore and took a look at what was going on, having a quiet curse for not having brought binoculars for once. Damn me if the tug was now facing south at the 'wrong' end of the boom, it had turned south where the channel is less than a hundred metres wide. The blue hulled boat was moving backwards under power. For ten long minutes I watched the tug shunt and heave at the hundred or so tons of logs blocking the channel until it had the front of the boom facing south. Then, with a creak from the towing cables that I thought heralded the break up of the corral of heavy floating timber, the tug began the arduous job of turning the boom north again. Still at low tide, still at the narrowest part of Dodd Narrows. Another ten minutes and two boats from the direction of Duke point came south on the relatively shallow side of the channel closest to Joan Point, then the blue hulled yacht and two other boats headed north towards Nanaimo. The tug and it's log boom were snugged close to the deeper side of the channel next to Mudge Island, just holding steady with the current.

Other stuff include our two resident pairs of Bald Eagles are back hunting with a vengeance. Early morning and late afternoon is the best time to see them hunt, dive bombing the surface and coming away with a struggling silver form in their talons. These guys are big too, full grown specimens with well over two metre wingspans. Their droppings can be found all along the foreshore.

On a more sombre note, I notice that Wikipedia is infested by people who don't care about accuracy, only putting forward their own world view. A piece in the National Post (see Wikipedia's Zealots) I learned about from Small Dead Animals outlined the difficulty of updating the terribly useful online resource, when your entries could be deleted at will by someone with a political agenda. There's an Information War going on. A propaganda machine that Goebbels would have been proud of is perpetuating it's own view with a complete disregard for accuracy. They are intelligent, they are organised, they are funded, they are committed, and they frighten the socks off me. What is their real agenda? It isn't truth, and that's a fact.

This does not alter the fact that there is still snow on the top of Mount Benson, and at the current rate of decrease, it may stay there for at least another week or two, the longest in anecdotal memory. People have noticed against the avalanche of pro warming propaganda, and are guiltily mentioning it like they are speaking heresy just before the next scheduled Auto da fe. During a haircut yesterday, my Barber raised the subject. My workmates have noticed. Our friends on the island have noticed. The heat death of the universe is not upon us, and they openly wonder what all the fuss is about.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Power number crunching

Have been spending time over the past few days at Wife's behest, doing some ballpark power calculations for a domestic power system that is independent of the grid. No matter which way you cut it, Solar doesn't quite add up. The cost / benefit analysis still comes up short even in the medium to long term. Small Wind turbines don't give anywhere near the power required to heat and light the average home. This is including factoring in the use of Ground heat pumps and various types of heat exchangers.

A moderate Solar panel, for my calculations I picked a model manufactured by Mitsubishi rated at 120w with a generating area of about 0.6 square metres. According to the sources I've seen, even on sunny days you are likely to get no better than 30w per panel; possibly as low as 10w per panel on cloudy or winter days, and that's just during daylight. To get even close to a houses daily power requirement my back of a cigarette packet calculations tell me I need 20 panels at a cost of about CDN$13,000 in total. Then there is the cost of the wiring and the inverter, which bump that up to a grand total of roughly CDN$22,000. This is without factoring in the cost of a solar powered hot water system and ground heat pump, which I estimate (Ball park figure only) at around the CDN$10,000. Not sure about the installation costs, but I'm sure the price tag hovers around CDN$5-6,000 at the very least. To be on the safe side, let's call it a round CDN$40,000 or £20,000 for a system that will only give value for money if the sun shines a lot.

Working on a yearly energy bill of around CDN$2000 I've worked out that amortising the installation / maintenance costs of a solar / wind energy solution will take the best part of 20 years, minimum. Mind you, that's for heating, cooking, hot water, everything; and relies very heavily upon us investing heavily in high value insulation installation / low energy house design. That entails another level of cost, but only (From what I'm told) increases the build price by 15 - 20%.

Now there is something I've been looking at that will provide more than enough electricity for our and our children's and grandchildren's needs, given the right site. Good old fashioned Hydro electric power. Micro systems retail at under CDN$10,000, allowing another CDN$10,000 for permits, engineering works etc and can provide power 24 / 7 being largely independent of the weather, excluding drought of course. System life tends to be measured in decades with only moderate maintenance, and can pay for itself within 10 years.

On the surface, a micro hydro plant looks the better solution. This bears further investigation. That can wait for another day. I have a small but significant headache and think I should get outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Good idea.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Looks like the the world is in for a little more cooling. A rather large Volcanic event has South of the equator in Chaiten, Peru, as well as one in Chile, in addition to the previous mid April eruption in Columbia, with another in Indonesia around the same time. Nothing new about that, but more news from a few days ago indicate more activity around the site of the Krakatoa eruption at Anak Krakatoa, leading to a level 3 alert.

These eruptions mean lots of particulate matter and various gases being thrown into the upper atmosphere which will further reduce the energy Earth receives from the sun for a while. Nothing new there. On the other hand how are the cooler temperatures going to be explained by some of the AGW faction, who according to this article, appear to have been manipulating global temperature measurements to fit their own agenda.


Well it had to happen

Hat tip to Small Dead Animals

A Social worker finally snaps:
"After years of idealism, I have finally decided that I am sick and fucking tired of helping the disenfranchised and oppressed. I have a master’s degree in social work, and I’ve worked in a number of different settings. I’ve been a social worker for Children’s Protective Services, a therapist on a psych ward, and I’ve worked as a case manager for a non-profit that shall remain nameless. I’ve had a number of clients over the years that I would now like to thank for helping me come to the realization that certain people are beyond help."

The rest is pretty brutal, but it has a strong taint of veracity.

AGW discredits Environmentalists

One thing that really hacks me off about all the people who scream about 'Climate change' and 'Warming' and how it is all our fault for being human is how it discredits the rest of the environmentalist movement. Rather like the Animal Rights lobby does.

Being a one time member of an environmental conservation group, I left when the tree and bunnyhuggers moved in and started taking over, back in the 1980's. Now environmentalism has being further sidelined by being associated with Anthropogenic climate change.

To me, being an environmentalist is about cleaning up the environment; fighting the polluters and those who would create wastelands unfit for life if left unchecked. Reporting pollution incidents, observing the turn of the seasons, recycling etc. It's also about being able to live alongside wildlife without interfering with it overmuch. Having Black tailed Deer in my front yard, with Bald Eagles, Seals and Sea Lions happily feeding less than fifty metres from where I stand tickles me to bits. Having to be on one's toes in the woods in case one of the local Bears is around, making plenty of noise so they have time to avoid you, which is what they seem to prefer. Keeping tabs on whether a pod of Orcas is passing through the Narrows. Being able to take a stroll through unmanaged woodland down to my favourite fishing spot amuses me too.

Yes I shop in Supermarkets, and I'm aware most of the food I eat isn't raised in the wild. Then again, without the intensive farming methods and technologies developed over the past hundred years, half of humanity would have already starved to death. I'm not so sure that GM crops aren't such a bad idea, but my personal jury is still out on that one. We need more data, and groups of kids in breath masks and coveralls tearing up experimental crops aren't contributing to the debate, or any serious scientific endeavour.

I also drive a gasoline engined vehicle because other technology isn't mature enough or sufficiently developed to provide a workable alternative. Mass transit just can't cut it unless you live in a tightly packed urban environment. Besides, modern internal combustion engines are much cleaner than they were. The air by roads isn't the unbreathable soup it used to be, stinking of partially burned gasoline and diesel. We have far to go, but we have come a long way.

The AGW'ers, by associating themselves with the larger environmentalist movement and their misguided assertion that the minuscule contribution of mankind to atmospheric CO2 is alone responsible for climatic shifts, make the greater environmentalist movement look like a bunch of complete fools.

They make unproven assertions that CO2 is 'bad', causes increased global temperature and should be reduced. Not so, because it has been proven that atmospheric CO2 levels rise some years after global temperatures rise, making that claim of a direct causal link between CO2 levels and temperature increase utter garbage. They make statements that the ice caps are disappearing solely because of human activity without looking at the evidence from other eras. They say Polar Bears are dying out without looking at the updated population figures for Ursus Maritimus. They point to works of fiction like Al Gore's 'An inconvenient truth' and Hollywood blockbusters like 'The Day after Tomorrow' and say that huge climate driving phenomena like the Gulf Stream will shut down because of human influenced warming without an iota of understanding of basic High School physics. They ignore key environmental factors such as photosynthesis which requires CO2 to produce oxygen. They ignore things like Vulcanism, which can pump more 'pollutants' into the atmosphere in a day than mankind can in a century. The sun, currently not as active as in past years, is not currently putting out as much energy. There are factors like the Earth's magnetosphere, which regulates how much of the sun's energy gets into the upper atmosphere; deep ocean temperatures which act as a 'negative feedback' damper on excessive warming or cooling. They talk about 'peer reviewed' scientific papers which do not consider all these factors as a planetary gestalt.

Then they have a lobby which deliberately targets public figures who disagree with them, silencing them, or worse still, forcing them out of their jobs, threatening their friends, families and business associates if they don't do what they are told and shut up. The followers of the church of Anthropogenic climate change thus by association discredit anyone who is concerned about the environment. Because they claim to be 'true' environmentalists they divert attention from truly important issues like overfishing and pollution which do directly threaten the greater environment. I say they are anti-environmentalist for this very reason. I rest my case.

Rant over.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

An electoral theory

All this evening I've been popping back and forth to the jolly old laptop to see what the electorate are doing in the UK. At the moment of posting, it looks like the electorate have given the same treatment to Labour Councillors that they did to the Conservatives when they got too big for their boots back in 1995. Two years on in 1997, electoral meltdown for the Tories.

There is a saying to the effect that 'those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it'. The British electorate always tire of arrogance eventually. When I lived there, I was always puzzled that many of my fellow voters seemed to vote not with their heads, but their hearts. They would not vote on the issues, or the capability with which results were delivered, but on appearances and attitudes. Vigorous looking candidates with full heads of hair who could lay on the charm thick and greasy were always preferred to the safe pair of hands. Maybe that's true all over the world. The majority of voters will always go for the people with the most hair and a nice smile. If that is the case, no wonder Tony Blair stayed British PM for as long as he did, despite all the damage he did. Gordon Brown does not have a nice smile. To be fair, his economic chickens are coming home to roost as well, which won't help his chances in the next year or so. That is possibly why the UK electorate are handing out a 'hammering'.

This also probably explains David Cameron's apparent popularity; even if I personally find him (and his policies) unappealing in a wet, Haddocky sort of way. Big hair, nice smile = electoral victory. Sounds like a reasonable postulation. Still doesn't explain Ken Livingstone though. Maybe Boris Johnson, clown Prince of the Tories, will oust the unpleasant Newt fancier as City Boss of London. Tomorrow will tell.

Don't care really. It's not as though I ever want to go back to Britain. It's far nicer here. Wife has just taken another serious step towards local certification of her UK Qualifications. I'm proud of her.

Current writing project is running at 2000 words per day and just went over the 47,000 word mark (Target 90,000)without headings or other such embellishments. The story works really well too, although I need to flesh out two of the main characters a little more. It's all coming together.

Time for bed. Busy day tomorrow.

The penalties of silence

Got my first good nights sleep in over a week last night. My main complaint is Dog. For some reason he has been waking me up, whining and kicking up in the early hours. Notwithstanding, I have been tolerant because this is his job. He is our early warning system against would-be burglars, storms, bears, pumas, raccoons and other potential calamity. Yet for the past ten or eleven nights he has been squealing and scrambling in the early hours when there is nothing to fret about.

This has not been good for me, as I am the first line responder. My job is to deal with any potential threat he alerts us to, evacuate the family, deal with the intruder, scare off the wildlife, the usual male thing. Being a moderately light sleeper, I come awake fast and alert to deal with things, always have. It's a behaviour pattern that has it's origins in my early childhood, when older brother liked to play tricks on me, like reaching up the bed to grab my leg and make me squeal. He was disabused of this fun packed pursuit when I learned to wake up fast and hit him, harder than a three year old should be able to. Now I am older the reflex is hard wired in, and I respond to slight, out of place noises. Our girls when they lived with us, had strict instructions not to sneak into our room, but to make as much noise as they could if entering, which I would duly sleep right through. Wife still swears I can hear people breathing fifty feet away at the wrong place and time, but will happily snore right through a brass band playing 'The Liberty Bell' right outside our bedroom window. Nevertheless, to have one's sleep patterns constantly disrupted is highly detrimental to one's well being. One gets snappy and very difficult to live with.

At first I couldn't understand it, there has been no disturbing wildlife outside, no tracks or other traces. Dog's little den was comfortable, he gets properly walked and fussed over before bedtime. Nothing in his routine has changed. For three nights we tried to ignore him until it began to dawn that this problem wasn't going to go away on it's own. First step; removed night light from his room. That worked for a half a night. Only problem is that a rabbit running across next doors lawn kept setting off their security lights and off he went again. Okay, took me a night to work that one out, put an opaque cloth over his box which gave us half a nights respite. Second step, moved his bed away from the outside wall into a quieter place. Found his bed all kicked up, rumpled and uncomfortable the next morning. Third step; Checked his bed and cleaned it thoroughly; washed and groomed him properly; still precious little respite. At this point I was reduced to near hopeless apoplexy. I wasn't getting a good nights sleep, and my temper was suffering. Nothing I did seemed to work. Next move was going to the nearest drug store and getting some serious sedation. Not for Dog, but for me. A good nights sleep, for me, was beginning to become a rarity.

Last night, Wife suggested "Maybe he wakes up and frets because he's lonely. It's awfully quiet around here at night. Why don't we put the Radio on in his room at low volume?" So I did. Tuned it to an all night classic rock station at low volume and left Dog to settle. Last night I got a full, uninterrupted nights sleep. Blessed repose. Dog made nary the barest whimper. Wonderful. I feel much better today.

Big time brownie points to Wife for being a genius. If only it works for two nights on the trot I will deem it a runaway success.