Sunday, September 28, 2008


Looking out of our front window early this morning beyond the trees across the road we saw a pale blankness where yesterday our view had been full of scenery. Honestly. "I didn't lose it." I remarked.
"Okay. Who photoshopped Mudge Island?" Wife demanded with a grin.

We've been here a year and never seen fog like this before. Although maybe we blinked because it's burned off rapidly, and in the space of twenty minutes there's only a slight haze in the air. Panic over.

Fishing story - The fish that wouldn't be caught

I have never seen so many fish and caught nothing before. Standing on the bank of a river some ten or so metres wide looking at a shoal of fish some five or six metres long from beginning to end, just short of a metre wide and solid with fish. From some about the length of my forearm with fingers extended to others as long as my arm (and bigger) in about seven feet of clear water.

Well we cast wet and dry flies all over that damn shoal all afternoon. Drifted flies downstream over their very noses. Nothing. My brother in law lost two lures and I lost one. Did we catch a thing? No.

We saw these fish jumping out of the water and taking the occasional Caterpillar that dropped down onto the water from the trees, we saw them arguing amongst themselves causing sudden flurries in the water as they squabbled for a place in the tightly packed shoal but they just weren't biting.

Brother in law, who is an experienced fly fisherman, was frustrated by the whole experience. I was surprised to say the least and commented that I'd never seen so many fish in one small pool as that and come away with so little.

Later on, we stood and watched from a bridge as another fly fisherman made fruitless cast after fruitless cast onto a big shoal of metre size grandaddy fish. Personally, I reckon we'd just picked the wrong time of day. Hunting and fishing are dawn and dusk activities when the game is most active. To add insult to injury, when we looked in our fishing licence guide, we found that we couldn't have taken any fish home anyway until October 15th. Damn, these regulations are complicated!

We went home empty handed so it was Pork for supper, not Salmon. Still good though.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The bloggers ten commandments (With response)

The God botherers of the C of E are at it again, telling others what to do.
Ten commandments for bloggers:
1 You shall not put your blog before your integrity
(Bloody cheek! My blog is a symptom of my honesty and integrity, how dare you suggest it isn’t?)
2 You shall not make an idol of your blog
(Unlike churches, temples and altars, eh?)
3 You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin
(Your definition of ‘sin’ being? One mans ‘sin’ being another’s moral rectitude)
4 Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog
(My blog is a hobby, done on my time off, so push off)
5 Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes
(If they are wrong, should I not do them the courtesy of correcting their mistakes?)
6 You shall not murder someone else's honour, reputation or feelings
(Unless they really deserve it of course)
7 You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind
(And you can keep your pallid hands off the choirboys)
8 You shall not steal another person's content
(‘Fair use’ is covered by copyright and respected by all those with any integrity)
9 You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger
(Fellow blogger? Don’t you realize it’s a cyberdog eat cyberdog world out here?)
10 You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking. Be content with your own content
(Take a hike. Rankings reflect readership and content. I’ll be content with my content, but only if I’m content with it.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Volcanic eruptions so far in 2008

I've been indulging myself in a little research, just as a matter of intellectual curiosity. How many volcanoes erupt in any given year, and does this correlate with anything else? So far this year there have been over 54 major eruptions, as listed below. All compiled from the Smithsonian Institute records and other reputable sources.

Volcano Eruption Date Location
Shiveluch 26 Sept Kamchatka
Piton De La Fournaise 22 Sept Indian Ocean
Mayon 11 Aug Philippines
Asama 10 Aug Japan
Kasatochi 8 Aug Aleutian Is.
Chikurachi 29 July Kurile Is.
Reventador 29 July Ecuador
Okmok 12 July Aleutian Is.
San Cristobal 22 June Nicaragua
Masaya 18 June Nicaragua
Soputan 6 June Sulawesi
Cerro Azul 30 May Galapagos Is.
Dukono 29 May Halmahera
Semeru 20 May Java
Chaiten 10 May Chile
Egon 15 April Indonesia
Karymsky 27 March Kamchatka
Kerinci 24 March Sumatra
Mt. Etna 12 March Sicily
Garbuna Group 11 March New Britain
Bagana 3 March Bougainville
Lopevi 24 Feb South Pacific
Veniaminof 22 Feb Alaska
Heard Is. 22 Feb Indian Ocean
Mt. Cleveland 8 Feb Aleutian Is.
Erta Ale 8 Feb Ethiopia
Suwanose-Jima 7 Feb Japan
Anatahan 5 Feb Mariana Is.
Guagua Pichincha 1 Feb Ecuador
Poas 22 Jan East Africa
Krakatau 21 Jan Indonesia
Galeras 17 Jan Colombia
Ubinas 14 Jan Peru
Ol Doinyo Lengai 14 Jan East Africa
Santa Maria 10 Jan Guatemala
Fuego 10 Jan Guatemala
Soufriere Hills 10 Jan West Indies
Pacaya 10 Jan Guatemala
Rabaul 10 Jan New Britain
Huila 7 Jan Colombia
Miyake-Jima 6 Jan Japan
Sakura-Jima 6 Jan Japan
Sheveluch 3 Jan Kamchatka
Bezymianny 3 Jan Kamchatka
Llaima 2 Jan Chile
Colima 1 Jan Mexico
Mt. St. Helens 1 Jan United States
Kilauea 1 Jan Hawaii
Mt. Erebus 1 Jan Antarctica
Popocatepetl 1 Jan Mexico
Arenal 1 Jan Costa Rica
Stromboli 1 Jan Italy
Tungurahua 1 Jan Ecuador
Yasur 1 Jan Vanuatu
All those Volcanoes pumping Gigatons of CO2, SO2, various other gases and particulate matter up to and over 8000 metres into the atmosphere. Kind of makes you feel small doesn't it? Will post more detailed figures as they are compiled, and when I can be bothered to work out how blogger can be persuaded to handle html tables.

Anyway. Sister in law is in town with husband, and he and I are going fishing tomorrow before the girls rejoin the boys for a nice supper and bragging session. All this and Jamesons's Irish Whiskey. Life feels pretty good right now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Wife has returned safely and we are happily making up for lost time. As a present for me from England, she brought back a dozen pairs of Marks & Spencers finest gentlemens underbriefs. Upon viewing them I was delighted to see that they have 'Climate control' on the label.

Presumably the climate control function is for keeping one's important little places at the right temperature with all this 'Global warming' hysteria about. Couldnt' find the mini air conditioners or where the batteries go, so perhaps these are homeopathic climate control briefs.

Gas price falls locally have stalled at 129.9 per litre. It'll do for now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I love the Internet. It's like having the whole world of knowledge at your fingertips. Been told something you consider a little far fetched? Google it and sift through the answers. All you have to be is a little sceptical and discerning.

Am currently tracking Wife's flight using this handy little tool. It tells me when the flight took off, when it's due to land, and there's even one of those handy dandy little graphics with a cute little aeroplane showing you the flights approximate position.
Brilliant. It takes all the worry out of the process. This particular tracker does transatlantic flights, unlike others that only track in US and / or Canadian Airspace.

Stuck on stupid

Just been reading the UK online papers in stunned disbelief. Environmental lobby groups appear to have persuaded the UK Government not to build Nuclear or Coal power stations on the basis that 'CO2 and Nuclear are bad'. I know this is a simplistic assessment of the arguments, but when the climate trend since 2000 has flattened out and begun to cool, all the hysterical warmist predictions of runaway fire and flood look increasingly improbable. The current UK government has frittered away the country's resources and made no real provision for any burgeoning chill. Instead it is borrowing double what it was and chucking money at 'the underprivileged' with free Internet and theatre tickets. They truly are 'stuck on stupid' with no place else left to go.

Well, the British public will be the sorry ones. The party almost definitely over, the house is trashed, the windows broken, the booze cupboard depleted and utilities blocked. Worse still, the people who really build and fix things are emigrating / have emigrated because no-one thinks they're needed.

I worry about our two girls who are at University. Hopefully they will surf through the whole mess and be okay, but they are the ones who wanted to study in the UK. Fortunately, we have bolt holes for them in France, the USA and Canada if things really go bad over there.

Wife and I are kitted out with warm clothing and a 4x4 which will leave us able to brave the snow and rain. Will keep a stock of dried and canned goods for when the inevitable trees fall on the power lines this Winter and cut the power.

Boy am I glad we left the UK. Wife returns today, and I shall be standing on the breakwater (Even if it's raining) to welcome her home.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SS Richard Montgomery

Reading the Times this morning, I found out that the excellent plan to move London airport to a new island off the Isle of Sheppey in Kent has a major league hitch. To wit, the USS Richard Montgomery, the wreck of a World War II munitions ship still carrying 1400 tons of explosive in some 3000 tons of ordnance.

I see here not an obstacle but an opportunity. To build the proposed island needed to site the airport is a massive feat of civil engineering requiring the building of an artificial island over 6 Kilometres on a side. A good deal of excavation will be required, not least in the unstable and polluted silts off Sheerness.

Now to my semi educated eye, knowing the little I do on the subject, might it not be a good idea to build a huge soil and rock 'coffer dam' around the wreck to the planned island perimeter? It should be worth noting that the nature of the wreck means, according to a report by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency that "doing nothing was not an option for much longer". In other words, it's going to explode anyway as sea water infiltrates the fuses and detonators, so why not deal with it in a planned and careful manner? Build the coffer dam in the form of a perimeter wall some 50m thick, let's say to a height of 15m above the high water mark withe the wreck half a kilometre inside the southern perimeter. Build a sluice at the lowest point and let the next extreme low tide drain out the bulk of sea water. Block off the now redundant sluice with an earthern wall to the same thickness as the rest of the coffer dam, and pump out enough water to expose the very top of the upperworks of the wreck if these are not already awash. Set demolition charges and detonate at low tide to mitigate any shockwave in the water. Do not forget to stand well clear. Two miles should do the trick.

The 15m coffer dam, if shaped correctly, would deflect most of the blast energy upwards, and thus prevent blast /overpressure damage on the mainland. It would also contain most of the debris, limit damage to the nearby marine habitat, which would be destroyed by the wreck detonating on its own. It should also limit any fallout by 'shaping' the detonation rather than allow a disaster to happen on the north Kentish coast. Leaving a certain quantity of water in the enclosed perimeter would have a damping effect on the explosion which should inundate the coffer dam but mitigate any catastrophic effects upon the environment. Sheerness might not hear a thing, rather like this example, where local residents spoke of not hearing the largest civilian explosion ever.

Benefits; Big hole dug for underground airport infrastructure / landfill at minimal cost. Getting rid of dangerous wreck which is going to go up in smoke in the not too distant future anyway. Provides a lot of construction jobs while the global economy is in a downturn. Workers pay taxes, provides work for associated industries such as mining and construction equipment. Gets rid of a cubic Kilometre or two of non recyclable material and provides new land for an airport nobody else wants. All that and lots of work for Civil Engineers.

Looks like a win-win to me. Wonder if the US governments offer from 1967 to help make the wreck safe would provide extra project funding? Could be worth a try.

Idle musings

Wife is back tomorrow evening and I am busy preparing for her homecoming.  Kids appear to be well settled into academic life and working hard.  This news is positive.

It's a bit chilly outside at the moment and I'm going to switch the heating on tomorrow if things don't warm up a tad.  The Autumn leaves are beginning to fall, and I'm checking out the BC Fisheries website before tootling off for a late afternoons casting my lures into the water.  The reports seem to indicate that the Fraser River Salmon run is slightly bigger than expected, so that bodes well for an early evenings sport.  Not that I'm likely to catch anywhere near my limit.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not before time

As reported on and Anthony Watts blog, we have a cycle 24 sunspot. Never thought I'd be so relieved to see something so mundane. While I'd pay a great deal of money to see the warmists hysterical prognostications of doom and disaster discredited, I would not be happy to see another Spörer, Dalton or Maunder minimum with all that a cooler Earth might entail. Neither would any of my putative as-yet-unborn grandchildren.

While sunspots may not be the cause of increased solar output, they are at least a reliable indicator that things 93 million miles away are either going to stay nice and toasty, or cause billions of people to have to wrap up warm and take up ice skating.

If the Earth gets significantly cooler this means less food for a bigger population with all the issues that a run of consecutive failed harvests etc will entail. If the Earth warms, this means a longer growing season, and our little blue green orb can support more of it's increased human population. A cooler planet means less food for everyone just as 'biofuels' mean less food for the many when crops are utilised for ethanol production. Green taxes, by the same token are anything but, and a similar own goal which work to the benefit of no-one but the traders in hysteria like the much vaunted 'carbon trading' scams, sorry, schemes. Damn these typos.

People still have to go to work to earn money to pay for energy, food and accommodation. 'Green' taxes increase the cost of going to work and the transportation of everything from basic foodstuffs to high end consumer goods. No matter what certain politicians say, people will need to work more to pay the new taxes either directly or indirectly. More economic activity will be required to pay the extra cost of living. More economic activity means more transportation, and ironically, pollution. More transportation means more 'green' tax revenue which translates into a higher cost of living for everyone. Therefore, it is my contention that 'Green' taxes are in no way, shape or form 'Revenue Neutral'. To maintain otherwise is conclusive evidence of total economic illiteracy.

As for the climate, it changes. Nothing we can do can alter that. That much is proven by history. While we have a duty of care to future generations to cut down pollution and not turn the worlds oceans into very wet versions of deserts, we should not think that tax is the answer. That's just a lack of courage and imagination by the politicians. We should be planning to embrace whatever changes the planet throws at us. To adapt and improvise workable solutions. That's why we as a species have been so successful.

One strategy that would help might be to improve building and insulation standards, promote energy efficiency using incentives, not penalties, tax breaks for products with lower emissions and low waste output. Let's say tax breaks on locally grown food, making it more competitive to produce in the global marketplace. If the global temperature trend is down like the past couple of years indicate, then maybe we should be planning and building power stations and laying up stores (Fuel, dry goods) for the possible shortages ahead. If things do turn around and get warmer, then we should be looking to reap the benefits of surpluses from a longer growing season. All tax will do is shift the economic activity pollution further to nations which aren't too fussy about it because it will cost less to buy stuff we need from there. Until of course the economy goes pear shaped and then no-one benefits. Exporters or importers.

Oh what the hell, I know I'm just ranting at thin air, but I have to get this out of my system somehow. Stuff it. Time for bed. It'll all be the same in a thousand years.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another casualty

This mornings walk along the foreshore found another dead seal within ten metres of where I found the first one a few weeks ago. This time it was an adult. Again, no camera, so no picture. This one had a big bloody wound in its throat and the head looked smashed in.

There hasn't been much leisure boat activity in the past week, but have seen a few fishing boats heading up the narrows at full tilt. Maybe the Seal just wasn't quick enough to get out of the way and got killed by a passing boat. On the other hand there was a Sea Lion cruising up and down on on the Western side of the channel early Friday morning, and they are known to kill Seals on occasion, so maybe that was the cause of death. Doesn't matter, I shall keep Dog away from the waterfront for the next three weeks while the greasy, adipose odour of rotting blubber clears.
For his part, Dog is fascinated by these things, but I keep him off just in case he catches something nasty from the corpse and ends up poorly. Big Vets bills are the last thing I need right now, as I'm waiting for confirmation of another job offer and money is a little tight right now.

The Socialists I see are all crowing over the banking collapse, claiming it is the 'death of capitalism'. In your dreams, boys, in your dreams. The money hasn't gone, it's just moved around a bit as it always does and the market has a bit of a surge as the players buy up the bargains. Rather like picking up pristine stock at a fire sale. 'Smart' money always buys in at the bottom of a downturn like this. That's why it's called 'smart' money. That's good old fashioned capitalism for you.

I always wonder thusly; if Socialism is so wonderful, why do the Socialists always have to kill a lot of people to make it work even very badly? I cite Soviet Russia, Communist China, Cambodia, yadada, yadada. They've racked up a bigger body count that a million Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.

What an excellent idea

When I lived in the UK, I was quite impressed with a certain politician called Boris Johnson, despite a buffoonish facade and questionable judgement in his choice of relationships, an educated and erudite man with much to commend him to the voter. Now he is Mayor of London, he and his team have come up with the epic wheeze of building a whole new International Airport to the East of London on a new Island in the Thames Estuary.

The proposed airport is to be built on an island built on Landfill.

This is an excellent proposal because:

a) It deals with the huge problem of insufficient landfill for Britains growing population.
b) Whilst there will be environmental impacts, there are greater environmental benefits, such as;
A 'green field' site which does not build over much needed agricultural land
A shift away from the overcrowded Heathrow
Lower noise levels

c) New, high speed rail links and supporting infrastructure can be designed in from the beginning, instead of being poorly thought through and inefficient afterthoughts.
d) It works with proven technology.
e) The strategy has worked for a number of other sites around the globe. For example, BC's own YVR (Vancouver) is built on mainly reclaimed land. The Chinese built a new airport on a similar scheme.
f) Such a scheme will provide something like well over five years employment in construction and associated industries when jobs will be at a premium.
g) Security.
h) Since Boris's Dad has connections with the World Bank, finance might not be such a limiting factor either.

This idea, as they say, has got legs.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Death to television

Friday was a day when a figurative bucket of cold water was thrown over my occasionally overheated good intentions. I work for a charity, and part of my job entails home visits. Oh boy. Some of the homes I visited on Friday made me thoughtful. If ever anyone asks me for a definition of squalor, I think I can understand. Not that I mind you understand, it goes with the territory.

On the up side, most Canadians I have contact with are polite, unfailingly positive, and honest. Almost stereotypically so, but this is not a bad thing. For the most part I love the people over here, they give you hope in humanity. On the down side of the equation there are a few who, for one reason or another, are the authors of their own undoing.

I know no one is going to read this if my reading figures are anything to go by, but I have to get it out of my system. There is poverty here in Canada, real, hardly any clothes on your back poverty. Even here in one of the most carefully wealthy nations on Earth. Not that this is the fault of any political system. Most of it (But this is only my opinion, for what little that is worth) is to do with what I would call 'poor life choices'.

Visit 1: Person living in a rented apartment. Condition; 'grubby', a fine patina of greyish brown over everything that seemed to permeate the very air. Tidy, but poor quality furnishing that would look more at home in a landfill. Persons condition; prematurely aged by a mixture of alcohol and / or drugs. Physical age was probably early forties, but physical appearance was more like someone of sixty plus. We met parents who actually looked slightly younger than Visit 1. The self neglect / abuse was palpable. The biggest and newest item of furniture was the TV, and even that looked like it was from a thrift store. The TV was left on all the time I was there.

Visit 2: Single parent of teenager living with elderly newly bedridden parent in rented apartment. Kitchen was full of unwashed dishes with weeks old food ingrained into the preparation services. All the rooms were piled with unwashed bedding and junk. No real attempt had been made to clean or make the apartment presentable. Curtains were drawn, giving an extra gloomy air to the apartment, and the TV, a modern 32 inch plasma screen, was on all the time.

Visit 3: 1960's built apartment block. Occupant elderly with careworker present. Most charitable description of the apartment and occupant would be 'threadbare'. Frayed bedding, likewise furniture. As in the other two visits, the word 'dilapidation' was uppermost in my thoughts. Elderly TV was on all the time throughout our visit. Like in the other two apartments, the occupants paid more attention to the TV than to us newcomers.

In all three cases, the occupants kept the television on all the time, it beckoned even my attention (And I personally think most of what is on TV is pap at best) like some consciousness sucking black hole, or audio visual wallpaper over the gaps in people's lives. Possibly a little of both. It verged on the hypnotic.

When I lived in the UK I used to be an avid reader of Policeman's weblogs (Coppersblog, PCBloggs, Inspector Gadget), and all three detailed (and still do) how much of their work took them to places similar to those I have described. The common denominator in all their writings is the TV.

We have a modest 24 inch television set in our apartment, but I refuse to have either a cable or satellite subscription, and it sits unused for all but an hour or two each day when it is used as a DVD player for a movie or old TV series we want to see again. In my family, the television and its output was referred to many ways and most of them disparaging; 'One eyed monster', 'goggle box' etc. We used it sparingly. Not like many, who leave it on all day. The news we get off the Internet, and even then sparingly. Life is too short to just sit in front of a screen all the time just watching or reading. A man (or woman) needs time in his / her own head, with his / her own feelings, and this is something having the TV on constantly denies us. It takes the place of thinking. It promises us an unattainable world yet gives nothing back. It is a one way distorting mirror where we can observe but not partake of life.

My friends who have TV services often complain that they have 'two hundred channels, but nothing worth watching'. One friend has a sixty inch screen in his living room. He switches it on for one hour a night, and then complains that the news coverage makes him "Angry", especially the BBC news he gets via his satellite connection.

Now the TV is not wholly at fault. It is partially at fault because it forces passivity upon us, and humans are not necessarily passive. It is an excuse for procrastination, for not dealing with your inner self because that requires mental work. It also acts as an excuse for not performing those physical taks like cleaning that can make our quality of life better with only a little effort.

Even standing quite still in the middle of the woods, ears straining, listening to the far off blare of someone playing music across the Narrows, Dog crashing through the brush, the cawing of crows, and the high pitched cries of Bald Eagles, the rustle of leaves, the cool autumnal air like chilled satin across your exposed skin, requires thought. That kind of active watching is what humans evolved to do. We are a predator species, originally reliant upon our senses for survival, and just sitting in the warm staring at a screen and consuming is probably not really all that good for you. You need to get out and do, or even just 'be'.

By comparison, watching Television is a passive process which requires little mental input from the observer. It requires amongst other things willing suspension of belief and inaction. Yet I have the overwhelming suspicion that if there were no television, the 'social problems' of which it is symptomatic would not disappear. It is a symptom, not the disease. The poverty I often see in my working life will not cease if the TV does. That is within some of the people themselves.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Credibility and mainstream news sources

Having a wander through the news, I always make a point of avoiding the BBC amongst others, because I'll only find something to make me snarl at the screen and waste precious life seconds on their biased coverage of the news, if that's what they're still calling it.

What has happened to journalism? Where are the investigations to find the facts, the truthseeking, the veracity? Much of so called news nowadays from what I can see is heavily biased, sensationalised and easily 'fisked' (Checked for accuracy and found wanting). Sorry to be boring dear reader (I think I've got one), but let's look at this global warming mallarkey (All right, who said "Oh no not again" Go and stand in the corner and be quiet). The news outlets go on about the 'ice free' Arctic which led this guy to try and paddle his kayak to the North pole to highlight the problem about thinning ice at the poles (Antarctic ice has been thickening over the past few years, but no one seems to mention this). He got to just past 80 Degrees North (A good 600 miles short of his destination) and was widely applauded for being the person to get the furthest North ever by this method. Weeellll, not really. An earlier explorer managed it many years ago, 1893 I think and managed to get a shade further North to past 84 Degrees latitude. Nuclear Submarines have been surfacing fairly irregularly at or near the North pole since 1959 (USS Skate) in big open 'leads' or ice free areas of the polar ice pack even as early in the year as March. Yet this is not quoted on the 'news'. This article details how icebreakers reached the North Pole in 1977. Yet the fact that open water has been historically quite common during Summer at the North Pole is ignored, and each yearly ice melt held up as 'proof of global warming'. Well, maybe not this year, or last.

On some news channels, environmentalist press releases are almost parroted as gospel, when I know for a fact that many environmental groups lie, exaggerate and use hyperbole in a way that would make the most foppish romantic poet grit his teeth and scream "No more! Stop it! I'll go and get a real job!" before putting on a grey suit suit and training to become an Accountant.

To think I used to support these organisations with regular donations. No more. They lost their credibility back in the mid 1990's as far as I was concerned when I found a couple of environmental statements a bit far fetched and started doing my own research. I mean, I'm no scientist, but then neither are they if accuracy is anything to go by. For example, Greenpeace and the WWF continually bang on about the 'declining' Polar Bear population and how many of them are 'drowning'. Actually, the Bears themselves seem to be doing fine.

I chucked out the Television five years ago when I found the TV news continually patronising and insulting. It was all misinformation and froth. No one seemed to do any proper research on the background of stories any more. The news stopped being news, it was (and is) either highly sensationalised or religiously parrots the party line. Counterknowledge and pseudoscience have become the new wisdom.

Why does this bother me so much? Because I am (I like to think) a decent and relatively honest man (For a given value of 'honest'), and I hate being blatantly lied to, then taxed or ripped off on the basis of that lie and told it's "For my own good".

Rant over.

The Gas price locally is down almost to pre panic levels at 136.9 with crude bouncing around US$91-96 a barrel. Brent crude has been under US$90 a barrel earlier today, although I didn't take a screenshot. Last time I looked it was trading at US$91.90. I think I'll give it a couple more days until filling up again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gas money

Was doing my tyre pressure at the local service station (Gas price down 4 cents at 144.9) when I was approached by a young woman. A student by the look, in her early 20's, and casual but smartly dressed by Canadian standards, who was begging for gas money "Excuse me, you got a twoonie?" (Canadian slang for a two buck piece) she asked. I was unable to help because I'd spent my last cash on a hot dog at lunchtime. Poor girl must have been desperate to ask.

The way the prices are behaving (Quick to go up, slow to come down) predisposes me to think that someone, somewhere up the gasoline supply chain is making money hand over fist. The damage and disruption caused by Hurricane (Tropical storm) Ike is less than expected and prices in Texas, where all the disruption was, only went up four cents per litre in some places.

The thought occurs that one tropical storm should not cause this big a price rise in so short a time. Has some company taken too big a financial hit with the stock market crash and is recouping their losses via higher gas prices? Wouldn't surprise me. Last I looked, the current price of crude was around the $90-93 mark per barrel. It's coming down for crying out loud. The refineries will be back up and running full steam by now, so what is going on?

Never mind, I'm busy MSS editing tomorrow, and I've got some phone calls to make and letters to write. I've really no need to go out at all. Will talk to Wife in the morning. That will calm me down.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Oil price per barrel down CDN$4.02*

....and the price of Gas locally is still 148.9 per litre. The Gas companies were quick enough to put the price up on only a rumour of hurricane damage.

Bloomberg site date and time: New York time, Sep 16th 00:24 updates here.
*Based on current exchange rates

Financial musings

I've been watching the news of the stock market crash in the US and UK with not a little disquiet. Wife and I got out of the UK almost at the peak of the property market, paid off the mortgage and invested our money carefully. No stocks or bonds, just a big wodge of cash earning steady interest at fixed interest in several of the larger banks, taking care to spread the load. We're still a bit nervous, but as they say, in a recession cash is king, and we have cash. We also have jobs. Our children's University courses are funded. So far so good. The family is safe. That is what counts.

Well, I'm not saying 'I told you so' but the UK economy is still, in my very staid and sombre economic view at least, horribly over inflated and has a way to go in a downwards direction. Even back in 2004 the writing was on the wall, it was only a question of how long the pressure was going to build before the bubble finally burst. You can only sell debt for so long. Even a comparative financial ignoramus like me could see that you couldn't float an economy on over inflated property values and credit cards forever.

At the time (2004-2006) we had Estate Agents (Realtors) soliciting us to sell so they could earn commission on the sale and so we could get a bigger mortgage for a bigger house, which we didn't really need. I shut down my business because I could see the way things were going in 2004, and took a day job to weather the inevitable financial storm. Turned out I was a bit previous as far as guessing the date of the crunch, but now the storm is with us, and we are hunkered down watching it pass.

There was plenty of warning in the markets, and I'm pretty sure the 'smart money' got out last year (2007) and went into precious metals because the price of gold soared as the UK gas price climbed above the #1GBP per litre mark. We were crossing the Trans Canada at the time, and keeping in touch with things via the various Wi-Fi points in Motels.

Some Neighbours of ours who put their house on the market shortly after we sold up are still on the market a year later at a reduced price. For less than we finally got, and they have a larger, more modern abode than we ever did. Notwithstanding, I feel for them and wish them well but in my heart I know they'll have to take another serious hit on the price before long if they still have to sell. My Brother bought into the district three years before prices peaked, so he won't be hurt too much.

Wife's ex, who she divorced back in the 1990's, is feeling the financial pain because all his stocks and shares have taken a palpable hit. We had some very snotty e-mails from him back in March regarding our Girls' higher education funding, but since we'd already taken care of 'the necessary' I fail to see what he was whinging about. Unless of course the Girls had been wheedling expensive stuff for 'Uni' out of 'Daddy', which, knowing them is pretty much par for the course. Hopefully, Wife and I have taught them a little frugality, and the world will teach them a little more. They both have jobs and support themselves, and I think will not be coming out of University with a first class degree and massive debts, just a First. That will put them ahead of their peers. I approve.

Here on Vancouver Island I am still perplexed that Gas prices locally are still at the 148.9 marker, yet oil has sunk below the $100 a barrel mark and dropping. Screenshot taken at 20:09 New York time 15th September 2008.

What the markets will do in Canada is another thing, and I don't know enough about them to even hazard an opinion. All I know is if you put the price of one thing up, it will have a knock on effect. No price or tax rise can ever be 'revenue neutral'. The UK is currently paying the price for thinking of that nature.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nice day, nice night

Instead of going out and running errands today, I thought I'd just be lazy and enjoy a perfect blue sky, sitting in the front yard, watching the weekends usual Summer mini regatta down in the Narrows. Dog decided to sit on the back seat of our 4x4 in case I decided to go anywhere, just so he could tag along.

It really is nice down here today. A stiff breeze from the East keeps the temperature down and stops the mosquitoes biting. The Harvest Moon has risen, fat and yellow as butter through a bluish violet dusk. Glorious.

Stuff the gas prices, stuff stupid people rattling on about 'the end of the world'. Sometimes a little slice of heaven is as simple as a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit. Missing Wife though.

On the other hand she'd only want me to do things, so perhaps a break from living in each others pockets is a good thing.

Latest oil price

Just popped over to Bloomberg for the price update. The above screenshot was taken at 15:39 New York time 14th September 2008. Gas prices at the pump up, gas prices at the refinery down. Huh?

Updated prices can be found via this link

Thar she blows!

What has piqued my interest today is a postulation that Solar Minima are linked with increased volcanic activity. A brief Google brought not immediate information, but enlightenment of a different type. This year there have been not one but three eruptions in the Aleutian Island chain linking Alaska to Russia. The most notable for its large SO2 plume, Kasatochi, but also Cleveland and Okmok which are geographically very close. Of course, many volcanoes smoke all the time.

However, I shall have a play around the interweb and examine the available historical records to see if there is any cyclic behaviour. Hmm.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ye cats!

Got a bit of a shock this evening. When I went out around six, gas prices at the local station was 135.9. On my way home I saw it at 148.9. What in Satans left trouser leg is going on?

Hurricane Ike is now downgraded to a 'Tropical Storm' but there are still rumours of widespread damage in Galveston. There also seems to be a panic over the 14 refineries and two strategic reserve sites that were temporarily closed by the storm driving prices through the roof. According to Bloomberg, crude is still roughly the same with the WTI spot up at just over $101 a barrel, but Brent Crude down below that at a shade over $95. Here's a screenshot of updated 14:00 New York time today.

No doubt it will take another three or four months for the price to drift down to a half way reasonable level. Someone is playing monopoly with the Gas prices. I wish they'd stop.

Kicking back

Wife is away until 24th. I keep busy. My superiors are pleased with my work, and the sun is shining. This means a new pair of polarised sunglasses have been purchased to counteract the glare off the hood of our little SUV.

Today's task is waxing and polishing. More glare. Sunglasses will help.

The price of gas locally has only slipped down a cent. With the cost of a barrel of crude dipping below the $100 a gallon mark (and not before time) someone in the supply chain is making money hand over fist. Maybe I don't quite understand the full economics of it, but to my mind, the price of gas is quick to go up, but very slow to come down. Local legend has it as tripling in the last two years.

This fits in with my experience; 2002 was spent in Ontario and Quebec. Price of gas taken from an old 35mm photo of us posing by our hire car at a service station - $0.63 a litre. Summer 2007 saw prices of $0.99 a litre on the trans Canada and around $1.08 on this part of Vancouver Island. Closest local gas station at the time of writing is $1.35 (Was $1.36 until Thursday). It has a way to go down, but down it will go, despite what all the doom mongers say.

Am taking a break from the tedious business of MSS editing. It's not as though I have a buyer at the moment, so, kicked back, no rush. It's how these things go.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's not just for kids

While Wife is in the UK, I get to choose the viewing, and today was reminded of a series first aired on British TV in 1970, UFO. It was one of my favourite TV shows at the time, and has to rank with some of the more sophisticated sci-fi ever made despite it's vintage. Well, I was young then (Hells teeth! I was once young! Oh tempera! Oh mores!). Of course the costumes and everything were a bit naff, rather like the wigs, but as I recall, it was the first sci-fi show I ever saw that dealt with adult issues like relationship problems, betrayal, and racism in a mature (for the period) manner.

UFO was cancelled then followed up with Space: 1999, which I found rather corny by comparison, but then many TV studios appeared to think and probably still do, that sci-fi is for kids. All this despite Firefly and a few other popular shows that have done the rounds over the years. The best sci-fi programming addresses adult themes, it has, for want of a better term, edge. I think this is why I don't much care for Doctor Who, Star Trek and Andromeda. They're too anodyne, too safe, too glib and glossy, or too PC. I liked Farscape for the same reason, there was a certain goofiness of the characters that made them each unique and very plausible.

It's possibly the anodyne PC stuff that makes some sci-fi such a turn off for so many people. The characters, like Kirk, Picard, or The Doctor have a particularly constructed quality. They move through the scenes and episodes, yet appear unchanged by them. There is the odd exception of course, but these seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

Drama, no matter what its genre, should have characters that change. Like people change throughout their lives. For example Wife says that I behave sometimes as though I've still got the body of a 23 year old, well I have, but it's a bit shop soiled and creaky sometimes, and rather like an early model automobile, no longer has the full fuel economy or top speed of when it was new. Stercus accidit. I understand this and no longer try to figuratively leap tall buildings in a single bound. People adapt with age and experience. I've ridden a Motorcycle round Europe, scrounged my way around the UK, won a couple of fights, and lost a couple, got much too drunk too often, married, seen two teenage girls safely through adolescence to University. I'm not the same as I was at 23. I'm smoother, more self aware, more laid back (Well, with exceptions). We all change. So should characters in a TV show, regardless of genre. It's what gives them immediacy and interest and adds to the story.

That's my take on it anyway.

Still here

Well, the LHC is switched on and we're all still here. Another apocalyptic non-event.

Wife is back in the UK. Dog and I are doing boys stuff, fishing, driving, looking for bigger apartments. Mother in Law is debilitated and we have to get a bigger place to accommodate her for six months of every year. Personally, I'd rather have a daily Castor oil enema, but these things happen and have to be dealt with. I'd be happier if she tried a little harder instead of sitting doing nothing then whining before letting her tearducts have full rein when we can't do exactly what she wants. Such are the joys of extended families.

Read the most godawful nonsense in the Telegraph this morning; one of the opening lines of the article was; "Now that the argument for global warming has been almost universally accepted...". I'm so annoyed I'm not going to grace it with a link. Really should stop reading the news.

With the rain falling and harvests failing in the UK (and elsewhere) because of the cooler weather, you'd think some people would learn instead of spouting the party line regardless. I just hate the lie of 'anthropogenic climate change' because it is precisely that, a lie, and for all my many failings, I am (for a given value of 'honest') an honest and moral man who hates such falsehoods.

What the hell, it's a nice day on this part of Vancouver Island and I'm off out to enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Last day?

Wife has gone to the UK today, leaving Dog and I to our own rather laid back devices. I was sad to see her go, but she is performing some necessary familial duties to do with younger and older generations, which must be taken care of and cannot be done remotely. Bit of a sniffy goodbye before I waved her Seaplane flight off from the dock, and Wife has promised that she will be back in two weeks, though hell and UK immigration should bar the way. She has her permission to remain in Canada, which we hope one day to translate into citizenship. We both have close family who are full citizens, and want to contribute to a country with a real future.

Notwithstanding, according to some sources the end of the world occurs tomorrow when the Large Hadron Collider is put through it's paces for the first time. I say not, and with good reasons, which are based on the principle that a Nuclear power station cannot explode like an Nuclear warhead. Incidentally, before anyone yells "Chernobyl" or "Three Mile Island", check your facts. Neither were anywhere near a nuclear detonation like Hiroshima.

My point is this; a nuclear bomb may use Uranium and Plutonium, but it is a very different animal from a Nuclear Power station. Just because they both utilise Nuclear fission does not make them the same.

Think if you will of Rutherfords first atom splitting device. Did that cause the end of the world just before World War 1? Obviously not, as we are all still here. The LHC, for all it's size and sophistication is about at that stage. We are at the point where it's all about testing theories and looking for exotic particles which might prove or disprove the relevant postulations. Even if the odd superconducting magnet explodes because someone got their sums wrong. As Dr Stephen Hawking has rightly pointed out, there is a long way to go before we have any chance of creating 'Black holes' on Earth.

I am no nuclear physicist, but I do understand the difference between an experiment to identify exotic matter and a weapon system. The LHC might suffer an 'incident' and stop working, but the world will not end as a result. That is just sensationalist garbage, and those who believe the 'end of days' predictions are bigger fools than I could ever be.

On the other hand, if I'm wrong and the world does get enveloped by a black hole created by the LHC, you can say "I told you so". I can take the criticism.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Let 'er buck!

It's a long time since I was at the wheel of a 4x4. The last time was over fifteen years ago driving a Land Rover Defender in a sideways skid over a rain-slicked English meadow.

To put the previous paragraph in perspective; yesterday was spent driving up and down dirt roads and tracks in search of a suitable piece of land for us to build. We found a few, but some were priced way out of our budget. The property market over here in BC has yet to nosedive like in the UK and US but the cracks are already showing with a fair amount of US owned property going up for sale. Looks like we'll have to look harder and further than we thought.

However, Dog has claimed the back seat of the 4x4 for himself, it is his, and the moment we walk past it he is up and waiting by the passenger door. I'm surprised at this, because normally he hates cars and gets seriously travel sick. Yet this self same mutt hunkers down on the back seat while we're bouncing and jouncing over potholes and ruts like a Kangaroo on steroids. Go figure, as they say over here.

On one occasion yester'e'en, we'd found ourself at the bottom of a sixty degree slope, Dog was sitting up, eyes bright and happy. I took a look at the proposed climb and slipped the shift into four wheel drive. Wife looked sidelong at me as she understood what I was about to ask our little SUV to do. Then a broad grin cracked her face and she said quietly. "Okay Jones, let 'er buck." We surged up that slope like a mountain goat and bounced onto the track, whooping and cheering like teenagers.

What's even better is that we get better gas mileage with the SUV than our van. Damn. I'd forgotten how much damn fun this could be.

Wondering about Nobel Prizes

I keep on hearing about "Nobel Laureates" who are for this and against that and wonder to myself, who are they? What gives them the moral authority and credibility to tell an ordinary idiot like me how to live my life?

The reason for this musing is the latest garbage coming from a "Nobel Laureate" about how we should embrace vegetarianism to "Fight climate change". So I did a little delving at the Nobel Prize web site. The précis of my reading translates into; 'It's not what you know, it's who you know'. Nominations and votes, at least for the 'Peace Prize' appear to be in the hands (although some are not) of highly politicised bodies. They gave one to Winnie Mandela, God alone knows why considering some of the things she's been accused of. Now Nelson Mandela, yes, no problem there, he definitely deserved one, Mother Theresa - she earned it, but Winnie?

When you reach a particular level of palm greasing and back slapping in world politics, the damn things seem to be given out like sweeties. That's the only reason I can think of for Gore's prize. As for economics, I take a quote lifted directly from the Nobel prize site itself (My italics) "The Prize in Economics is not a Nobel Prize".

As for some Economists, well, their track record is hardly paved with success, is it?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A boy named Sue

Have just become the owner of a compact SUV for pootling up country and exploring for a parcel of land. Just an old junker to see us through the next couple of years while we're building and constructing our extended family's largely self sufficient refuge. In a fit of whimsy Wife and I have called it 'Sue' after one of my favourite Johnny Cash songs:

The other one is "One piece at a time".

We're looking to the future and making plans despite the hysterical hyperbole about the world going to end when the Large Hadron Collider comes on stream on the 10th of this month. Wife will have just landed at Heathrow to go and see youngest into her first year at University. Dog and I will be pleasing ourselves, getting on with things as we usually do, and I shall be working on the next MSS revision. I will be really pissed off if I don't get time to finish it.

There are going to be some very red faced people on the 11th when Earth just carries on spinning about it's axis. Hopefully we will know a little more about how matter and energy operate so the pseudo-scientists can't pull the wool over people's eyes quite so readily. I agree with Professor Cox when he gave his opinion on the matter.

Certain people do not understand how things work, this makes them afraid of those who try to find out. They are the new Luddites, the fanatic Flat Earthers, the AGW 'believers'. Those of us who understand a little of the science (Although not as much as I'd like), know that reality is not as fluid as some quantum physicists might make out, at least in this timeline. The truth of the matter is far more prosaic.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And all the clouds that loured upon our house....

...have gone, and it's a nice bright sunny morning. I need shades to work in the kitchen. All that cloudiness in the middle of August was beginning to trouble me. On top of that, forecast temperatures are down. According to the Weather Network at least, which is usually not bad as forecasting goes, although with all the microclimates around here the weather is often quite a guessing game.

Last year I'm told temperatures hovered around the 26-28 degree Celsius marker for much of August and early September, at the time of writing the forcast highs are 21-23 degrees. Sun still blank. Hmm.

Have found the proper records, and although temperatures have maxed at 28 Celsius in August, the average seems only slightly down at present. Yet it is down this year on last. Or as people round here are saying "Global what?"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wife, Pickups and Barack Obama's birth certificate

Wife is heading back to England for a spell to see youngest into her new University. While she is gone, it will be business as usual for me. I will pine terribly while she is gone, and be forced to talk to Dog who is not the world's most erudite conversationalist.

We're currently in the process of buying an additional vehicle to our existing van, and are opting for an aging pickup. A Ford 1990 F150 Pickup, we've both always wanted a pickup, with the earlier 2.8 litre engine and an extended cab for preference. Just a little something for negotiating logging roads while we look for a parcel of land up country. We did the sums and worked out that one of these earlier and smaller pickups delivers gas mileage equivalent to and better than the MPV we currently use. Our current vehicle delivers 28mpg per imperial gallon at best; according to our research, the desired 4x4 gives up to 30mpg per imperial gallon. This is only 2mpg less than a Honda CR-V or Subaru Forester, and costs a lot less to buy. Besides, reliability of the Honda's and Subaru's of this vintage can get a little ropey. While they are solid as a rock repairwise for much of their career, after fifteen years or so, they are definitely past their best. Pickups seem like tanks, to keep going even though resembling a leaky colander.

In addition, I keep on hearing a nasty little rumour which is doing the rounds, that the Democratic Candidate for the Presidency of the USA is not as required by US law, "American born and bred".

If the 'evidence' as portrayed in the embedded video is accurate and true, then Barack Obama should not have got the Democratic nomination, and even if the majority of voters wanted him to be President, he could not legally take the oath of office. Although I think the FBI or INS would have had something to say about it before now if it were really the case that Mr Obama's US birth certificate were a forgery, as suggested in the video.

However, this could all be just the usual dirty play of US politics, especially when the Democratic faction have gone straight for the low punches with Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin. Wasn't there some kind of convention where the children of any candidate are 'off limits'? Whatever happened to policies and 'substance over style'? It just reduces the race to an undignified scramble for power. Hi ho, glad I'm north of the 49th Parallel. I haven't dared ask our Californian neighbours what they think of it all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Outbreak of climate sanity in BC?

Test driving a car to replace our ageing wagon this afternoon I was startled to hear about the proposed axeing of the BC and proposed federal 'Carbon tax'. Has an outbreak of climate sanity broken out? What's going on? Are the politicians actually listening to the electorate?

I know 2.4 cents a litre doesn't sound much, but when speculators have driven the price of oil up to record highs, that little extra tends to be the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back. Let me expand; over here on Vancouver Island public transport is limited to buses and trains, and outside the towns there aren't much of them. The last train service from Victoria and Nanaimo to Port Alberni is now two unused rusting iron rails on rotting sleepers and a four(?) times daily bus service to Uclulet and Tofino. You could of course cycle, but not everyone lives within reasonable cycle commuting distance of their work, and there are only two rail passenger services a day up and down the whole island, and from what I've seen, these run half empty most of the time. People need cars to get about, there is no practical alternative, at least on Vancouver Island, which has a similar land area in square miles to the whole of England.

What amazed me was hearing that a politician didn't think that tax was the right way to address climate change. I agree, it's like writing cheques to ward off a cold. You're going to get the cold anyway, whether you pay the money or not. The Earth will heat and cool following it's own complex rules and there's bugger all we two legged pests can do about it. We should embrace the challenges, not run around like a bunch of headless chickens, throwing money at a problem (If Earths constantly changing climate is not an opportunity) that money just can't solve.

What we can do for the environment is not to throw away quite so much so carelessly, and not over use the resources we have. Enforce the fishing restrictions so that fish stocks get to recover. Not poison the earth and water so that we can grow food to provision the ever growing multitude of humanity on this little blue green world.

It will get cold enough soon if what some in the scientific community are saying comes true. Notwithstanding, my money is on another climate reversal in the next twenty or thirty years years and it will warm up after a brief cooling. I hope, or we're all in for a really hard time.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Poor journalism

Read this story in the Telegraph this morning and stifled a guffaw.

The writer obviously did this to deadline and omitted to research the story properly. Being a long time Fisher of Sharks in Cornish waters when I lived in the UK, there are two elements in the story I would challenge. First is the corny "This is the first time it has happened in British waters", WRONG! First recorded 'Shark attack' in British waters happened in the 1960's under similar circumstances in the North Sea. An Irish skipper got careless with a Blue and it bit him in a similar fashion. I've caught a number of Blues, up to over 100 pounds, and seen those teeth close to. Even on the little ones they rival a circular saw, and you learn respect for the beasts early on. Second is the 'Global warming driving blues and other sharks into British Waters' bullshit. There has been an established sports fishery for Blues, Mako's and Porbeagle since the 1900's, hence the existance of the 'Shark Club' in Looe, Cornwall. The fishery has been in decline since the early 1990's because far eastern 'long liners' have been harvesting sharks fins quite ruthlessly out on the Blues transatlantic migration routes, thus seriously depleting the population.

An ideal home?

Not my ideal design, but I just lurrve the ease of build.