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Thursday, November 15, 2007

 

Time to move on

And so, the end is near, well it's here actually. I've got to the point where posting here on "Walking the Streets" about expat life in Canada seems, well, inappropriate; so I have elected to shift all my writings on various subjects to here.

Why? The well of Parking Enforcement stories has run dry, and the newer stuff just doesn't fit into the category any more. The Wordpress blog doesn't fit either. Ergo the new location, and a slightly new look with some nicer gizmo's and tidier HTML. Visit me sometime.

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Emergency plan

Western BC, especially over here on Vancouver Island, expects everyone to have an emergency kit and 'escape route' planned in case of forest fire (A real risk) earthquake (Real risk) and Tidal wave (Possible risk). This is not unreasonable as we sit neatly near the 'ring of fire' around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and suchlike are not unknown. Mrs S and I were discussing how fast we could get out and to safe(ish) ground within five minutes of a warning.

Being as we have already roughed it all the way across the great divide and back, cooking over camp fires and sleeping in our Windstar, we reckon that we could be up and out of the house, fully kitted up within two minutes without too big a problem. Rations and water for 72 hours the lot. Our neighbours are already so equipped.

All this being said and done, we might never need it, but it's nice to feel that you can cope if there's a real problem. However, when I go back to the UK to see my mother in January 2008, I may find myself frisked everywhere I go if this report is anything to go by.

'Fortress Britain'? I have but one comment to make. It's no good living in a stronghold if the enemy is already inside. To dig out one of the most appropriate flat pack cliche's; door, locking, stable, bolted, horse, the, the, it's, good, no, after, has.

Britain didn't need this kind of thing during the years the IRA were chucking bombs around on the mainland, so what's the point now? It'll be a nightmare to enforce, financially and physically and the nutters will only have to be lucky once, but the security services will have to be lucky all the time. Feel safer now?

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

 

The road less travelled


What Path Do You Take In Life? For Guys and Gals! Pics and Lengthy Results.



B:

You take the Road Less Travelled. Who wants to go where everyone else has already gone anyway? You look for the hidden paths, ones most don't see and don't care to venture down. You go boldly and stand proud discontent with what's been put in front of you, determined to find a way perfect for you even no one else will take it with you. You live as you want and not for others, but be careful not become selfish. Others may need you and you should be there for them, especially the ones close to you. You tend to be the leader in most situations and people listen and trust you not lead them astray. Your firm in your opinions and beliefs and unwilling to change yourself to suit other people. By the same token, you can be stubborn to a fault, change isn't always a bad thing you know. Everyone changes and grows, you shouldn't try to stay exactly the same or you could be left behind. Then again, you may change frequently. Some people change to fit in, you my little non-conformist, may change to be set apart. It's great to be different, but it's also just as great to have things in common with people, even if those people are in that "crowd" you seem to have a vendetta against. Don't try to be different, just be who you are, whoever that is and you'll be unique all on your own. So make some time for people, let yourself blend into the crowd every once in awhile, you may just learn something about them and yourself you never knew before.

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I love my dog.......but

Afternoon walk with dog (Off leash) down to the shoreline to see what the storm had done at the waters edge. Dog (See centre of poor picture below) goes out of sight while I'm doing a spot of beach combing. Dog is not required to be on a lead in this area, so I'm quite happy to let him run free.
Stopped to watch Sea Otters fooling around in the water a couple of hundred yards away and didn't notice that Dog had gone his own sweet way. Spent a short while replacing a few rocks in the home made beach stairway (It's a sort of a local thing, everyone who uses the path helps fix it) so I could easily return to the woods from whence we had arrived. I was so busy that I did not worry that Dog was nowhere to be seen. Usually, he never strays far from me, so I didn't concern myself overly with his absence.

A quarter hour later, having finished what I was doing, I set off up the steep slope home. Called dog repeatedly, worried somewhat if some of the more carnivorous local wildlife had invited him for an informal lunch. I couldn't hear or see anything of him, which was less than usual. Swore under my breath at the disobedient animal, then climbed the track and strode down the short lane to our house, hoping that the stupid animal was okay. Went to the back door and called him. No response. Called for Mrs S repeatedly. Neither responded. Turned the air a pale shade of cobalt with my language, shut the door and quickly retraced my steps.

Mrs S was coming up the other path from where we had been beach combing, obviously worried sick because dog had arrived home without me. We returned home, glad that everybody was fine. "When Dog came back on his own, I thought you'd fallen down the cliff." She said. "I waited. but it was getting dark."
"No, the damn animal buggered off without me." I responded, and gave her a hug for caring.

Dog has forfeited post walk biscuit for running off home without me and worrying Mrs S sick. I hope he understands why.

On the lighter side, it could have been worse, I could really have fallen and been unable to call for help. Even so I was carrying my phone to call for help if need be. We're out at the edge of civilisation here, and the downside of living here is that there are Bears and Cougars around, and even I would be an easy lunch for one of them had I really been hors de combat. As Mrs S remarked. "There's a lesson here."

Yeah, keep an eye on the dog, and don't let him prance off on his own to worry everyone else to death. I do love my brain dead mutt, but sometimes, just sometimes.........

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Monday, November 12, 2007

 

Debris

Woken up in the middle of the night by a huge thunderclap at the height of the storm we’ve just had. That, as we say over in BC, was a doozer! Dog was fretting like nobody’s business all night, and I think something moderately large and feline was stalking around outside. I found what looked like wet pawmarks on the wall outside his room late this morning, so mister Cougar had probably been trying to find out what was nice, juicy and edible inside the two-legs box thingy. Mister Cougar will get a big headache if he pulls that stunt because this particular two-legs has got a large axe inside the door.

Largish fleabitten moggies notwithstanding, the fun is over. The skies are blue, and everyone is picking up the pieces, especially the logging company. On Saturday we saw this pootling down the straits. Today half the log boom was scattered all over the bay making navigation difficult. Phones and power are down further south, but otherwise no panic. We had our power cuts in the early part of Friday morning, and here’s me needing my beauty sleep more than anyone else.

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Speed doesn’t kill?

Pootling around the pages of the Torygraph’s motoring section as I am wont to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I came across an article based on a book excerpt about scare stories called “Speed Cameras, the twisted truth”. As everybody knows, the sensible Canadians ditched speed cameras and have very effective Police patrols (I know this from personal experience). This means that the Police have enough Traffic resources to stop suspect vehicles and catch ‘impaired’ drivers before they can do serious harm. They also nick you for speeding or if your vehicle is in an unsafe condition, but that’s part of the law and they enforce it fairly.

I’m adding a sidebar link to Mr Smith’s “Safe Speed” web site, because I’ve read what he says, checked the statistics from several sources, and find merit in his arguments. He is not arguing for no speed limits, only for the rest of the Highway Code to be enforced properly, and not by cameras but real live coppers who can keep the lid on the downright anti social and stupid simply by their presence.

To be honest, I’ve always wondered about the bald assertion that speed kills in ‘over a third’ of all RTA’s (Road Traffic Accidents). Not that speed doesn’t kill, but the actual figure is running at more like 12.7% (Including ‘probable’ and ‘contributory’ deaths) than the 35% I’ve heard quoted by the ‘Speed is really, really bad’ lobby. The major causes of death on the UK’s roads appear to be what used to be called ‘Driving without due care and attention’ and what they call over here ‘Impaired driving’ (Drink or drugs).

Mr Smith also came in from a slating a while back from the Guardian’s George Monbiot (For whom I have little respect – See sidebar for ‘Autorantic Moonbat’) who apparently called Paul Smith’s side of the argument “The road rage lobby”. Monbiot can’t have read Safe Speeds web site content, which far from being the irresponsible organ Monbiot outlines, is a very sober and structured set of articles arguing for a return to less two dimensional means of Traffic Enforcement than speed cameras.

As an ex-parking enforcement officer I can recall seeing people deliberately driving the wrong way up one way streets, vehicles climb the kerb while their drivers were talking on their mobile phones, pedestrians made to scatter on crossings, and all because a lack of actual on street enforcement. Of course we parking plodders would call the incidents in to CCTV when we saw them, but 90% of the time you didn’t even get an acknowledgement. We did used to help with the odd drunk driver giving one or two of our number a mouthful. On five out of six incidents where we called in “Driver very abusive, breath smelled strongly of alcohol.” we heard that the culprit had been caught and booked for Drink Driving. That felt good. I’ve (As I’ve probably mentioned before), lost a lot of close friends to people who thought it was safe to drive while rat arsed, and really have no love for anyone like that.

As a keen motorcyclist, I recall a number of my friends fell victim to the ‘SMIDSY manoeuvre’ and took a header over some fools bonnet as a result. Sometimes they didn’t survive, and all because the car driver wasn’t paying proper attention. I’ve known court cases where the bench have sided with the errant driver just because the injured party was riding a motorcycle. I can only account for my own relatively unscathed survival in twenty plus years of riding (In most weathers) to sheer paranoia, good road instincts, and simple good luck. Oh yes, and paying close attention to the tenets outlined in the Police riders manual ‘Roadcraft’.

As for speed alone being the cause of any misfortune, it doesn’t kill as many as by those so blind they should not have a licence (Poor eyesight). Nor does it kill anywhere near as many as those who drink, drive whilst on medication (I include ‘just a dose of Night Nurse’), illegal drugs, or drive whilst ill, and who amongst us hasn’t done that? Nor does it kill as many as those who basically are not paying proper attention to what they are doing, the impatient, the careless, feckless and occasionally utterly idiotic.

Besides, I’ve always reckoned that the best places for speed (Sorry, Safety) cameras is actually in urban and suburban areas. Say for example at pedestrian crossings and junctions where people routinely ‘jump the lights’ and block junctions. They have such cameras in situ here in BC, and no one complains because the sane folks hereabouts reckon that jumping a red light is about as safe as slapping a hungry Grizzly across the nose with a wet hanky. Yet certain idiots still persist in doing it. Jumping the lights, that is. You don’t tend to find much left after a hungry Grizzly Bear has finished with someone.

What the hell, you can’t tell someone who just won’t listen. Especially if they support the current UK governments position.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

 

Just a poppy

Bought my poppy to show rememberance and respect for those who have served their country. You will note I chose the red option as always (Used my new phones camera, you can tell, can't you?). As always I shall observe the two minutes silence.

Someone (Can't remember who, they were just being an arsehole) once insisted upon telling me with a wagged finger under my nose no less (a high risk strategy on his part), that the red poppy 'glorifies war' and is therefore a bad thing. I choose to disagree. To me it is a symbol that we remember all that our parents did during wartime so that we can have the life we have. It's about the guys who get hurt on duty and need help. It's not about glorifying anything. Wearing a red poppy on rememberance day is just to say thanks.
 

So it's not just me then

Well, well, well. All this climate change hysteria surfaced again on Thursday with the founder of the US Weather Network calling it a ‘Scam’. I’m inclined to agree, even though dissenting voices like these seem to be few and far between. At least those that get the serious column inches in the mainstream media.

There are even rumours that there is some sort of semi official policy aimed at repressing the dissenting voices. The scuttlebutt coming out of the back door of academia tends to indicate that this is the case. I keep running across people with friends and family in and around academic circles whose stories all have this in common; If you want funding for any type of University research, then inserting ‘ as pertaining to Global warming’ or ‘as affected by climate change’ in your bid for funding is all but essential to get that research moolah. Rather like research into proving smoking leads in many individuals to the development of heart disease or various Cancers was once almost impossible to get. Those who held the purse strings, the vested interests, the politicians, were not interested because they didn’t want it to be true. Thus it seems to be with any ‘unfashionable’ postulation, whether there is truth in it or not. Now I can’t ‘prove’ this definitively because I personally don’t know anyone who wants funding for climate or other scientific research. All I have to go on are the anecdotes that keep filtering out which contradict the fashionable view.

Similarly, published scientific studies that contradict the “Omigod! We’re all going to drown / die of sunburn / be eaten by wandering Polar bears because the evil Americans and their SUV’s have melted the world’s ice!” propaganda tend to get rubbished, sidelined or ignored.

The regular press tend to bury them, rather like the story that the man who founded the US Weather Network who called ‘Global warming’ a scam. On the Daily Telegraph website, around 08:00 9th November 2007, this story was front page news. When I finally kicked Mrs S off our elderly laptop and logged on just before 23:45 9th November 2007 it had disappeared. To find it in the archives you had to know what you were looking for to find the story at all. Searching with the keywords ‘Climate change’ and ‘Global warming’ on the old Torygraph’s web site couldn’t find it. Almost as if it had been shunted off into a side room like an embarrassing Great Aunt.

Delving a little deeper I found this little gem of scientific analysis; no pseudoscience, no anthropomorphism, no Gaia, no ‘statistics’, just pages of data and analyses, which although hard to understand (To me at least), seem to contradict the version foisted on us by the politicians and mainstream media and point to much lower levels of change than we are constantly being told are occurring. The final paragraph of page 19 being the kicker. Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself, and for those of you who find all this data confusing, that is where key points such as this can be found;

“the climate system may be considered in near steady state to applied forcings”

So all those in the higher latitudes thinking of turning in their ice skates and skis for sun loungers should not perhaps be in quite such a hurry. The ice and snow will be back shortly. With a vengeance. Remember the Ice Storms of 1998? Ice storms aren’t new.

Other sources which challenge the new orthodoxy may be found here, here, here, and here.

Like anyone who has spent a good deal of their time outdoors I hold that the Earth is a dynamic organism where change is the only constant. Stuff happens in cycles. Examples are strewn all through recorded history. The comparative warmth of the Roman period, the Medieval warm period. The exceptional European winters from 1550 to the 1680’s when ‘Winter Fairs’ were held on the frozen river Thames. Anecdotal evidence from a Chinese exploration fleet that found little ice in the polar regions around 1276. Change isn’t new. Very little of it is to do with human activity. We are almost incidental to our world’s climate.

Look at the fossil record and tell me if the Dinosaurs or Trilobytes, or any one of the species that suffered mass extinctions had a consumerist lifestyle. No? Well there’s a surprise.

To quote the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam;
"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it." Anthropocentric? Hah! Mankind as a species isn’t that important. Ten million years (A twitch in geologic time) and all we’ve ever been will be odd fossils for the next intelligent species to come along. Deep time will see to that.

As for ‘reducing your carbon footprint’, ‘Carbon offsetting’ and all the stealth taxation riding on the back of the hysteria – doesn’t this all sound suspiciously like the newly established political class flexing it’s muscle? I will go even further and suggest the following; Man-made climate change is a fairy tale invented as a tool for political repression which goes as follows; “Stop having fun right now or we’re all going to die and it will be all your fault!” On the other hand this suppression could all be a massive cock-up, which knowing my fellow humans as I do, seems far more likely. Discuss.

Now I’m off to walk my dog and watch the Sea Otters. If I’m lucky an Orca or Sea Lion might be passing down channel pursued by one of the ‘Whale Watching’ boats.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

 

Naked greed and hatred

Ahem, I am caving in here to commercial pressures and put a little 'PayPal' button on the sidebar so that any dear, sweet, (Hurls breakfast - sorry about the mess) reader who feels charitably inclined towards this poor old, knackered (Coff, and even more pathetically, coff, coff) ex-enforcement officer can make a direct donation towards keeping this bog alive. I've tried putting stuff up for sale, writing a book and Google's Adsense, now this. Spare a penny or two guv'nor(s) and I'll keep the rabid drivel even more rabid. Hells bells, I'll even (Oh dear God the shame of it) do request items.

Tell you the truth, I've had a day. Immigration were not sympathetic and said bluntly about Mrs S's updated and activated Social Insurance Number; "Oh dear, they shouldn't have done that." The 'They' being Services Canada. Apparently, according to Immigration, even though the Tax people said that the opposite was the case, until our Permanent Residency application is processed (An event I am told which is three years in the future), my wife cannot use her SIN number to get a job. We have to still go the long way round, despite the fact that she is officially a 'Landed Migrant' and the SIN cards legitimacy has never been questioned by anyone else.

Now if you'll forgive me, I'm not a little miffed about this. I've put a lot of emotional capital into this emigration thing, and to be constantly rebuffed in this manner is something I thought I'd left behind on the streets of England. At about half past eleven this morning I announced to Mrs S; "Sorry love, I've lost the will to live." and went and sulked in the car reading John Grisham's 'King of Torts' while she went to the other two appointments she had arranged for early afternoon.

All the extra immigration rules that have come in since the events of 9/11 have made the lives of us ordinary folk just that much harder, and I not only blame the politicians for tying the hands of the security services and Police, but I also blame Osama Bin Laden and his fellow travellers for declaring a pointless war on the West. If it hadn't been for that egomaniacal half wit, Mrs S and I would be well on our way to being citizens of Canada right now.

When he dies and is buried, should the opportunity arise, I intend to take a pilgramage to his grave, and then I am going to piss all over it. I suspect I may have to join an extremely long queue. This is not because I have anything against Islam as a religion, just that particular cunt. Then when I die, I am (If there is such a place) going straight to Hell and volunteer for a job as a demon just so I can torment that motherfucker and all his little friends for the whole of eternity. He'll be there, no one can kill that many and go anywhere but. It'll be worth it.

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Flat packs

This afternoon has been spent trudging around shop after shop looking at bits of furniture. We're still trying to keep within budget, which isn't easy as the value of the Canadian Dollar or 'Loonie' has been skyrocketing against the US Dollar. This is good for the Canadians as they can buy more gasoline even while the world price is at an exceptional price. With the price of gold likewise high, this means the Canadian gold mines are doing better than brisk business.

All the good news like near full employment and booming business rather passed me by this evening as I was driven to my knees building flat pack furniture. Most furniture in Canada, apart from bed, sofas and the like comes as a flat pack. Tables, chairs, bookcases, shelf units the lot.

Mrs S was sitting watching while I simultaneously cooked the dinner and built two shelf units, all the while making helpful comments like "Does it have to go in that way?" or "Mind your fingers!" or "I didn't want it there." Divorces have been occasioned by such imprecations and I'm sure it was Mrs Crippens constant carping about the wallpaper and Dr Crippens prowess as an interior decorator that led to her untimely demise.

No matter, the apartment is furnished, the Windstar insured, and we're off to see the immigration people tomorrow. My wife wants to be told (For about the fifth time) that she can stay in Canada without having to leave the country every six months, and yes she can take a job. Sometimes I wonder if she's not looking for someone to say no. This is driving me ever so slightly crazy. If when she gets told everything is okay tomorrow, she goes looking for yet another opinion it's going to be "Pass me the straitjacket love, I'm going to invoke the repatriation clause of the travel insurance about mental health."

Then they can flat pack me in the hold of a 747 and drop me out at 35,000 feet because I'll have lost the will to live.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

 

Business as usual


Life must be terribly hard in the managing evil empires business. One minute you're commanding the massed fleets of the evil Empire against the rebels, the next busking with a violin in Victoria BC. Showbiz, eh?

Hi ho. It's all part of life's rich tapestry.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

 

The power of blogs

I just want to say cheers, thanks, ta very muchly, and all that sort of thing. Thanks to your astonishing generosity we've already raised (We think) the £1000 needed to save Merys's funding. I'm feeling very proud of everyone who pitched in and helped.

Just goes to show, don't it?

THANK YOU

Now don't let it go to your heads.

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Thank you


Just a quick ta very much, thank you, molto bene grazi, merci bien, obrigado, to all those of you who have contributed so far to the 'Save Merys' campaign.

Not out of the woods yet, but all donations have been very gratefully accepted. For those that have already helped; you may now all share a very warm fuzzy feeling. You have earned it. Thank you.

For you casual visitors and newcomers who don't know Merys, get over to her blog, read her story and give a few pennies if you can. You can then reward yourself by knowing that you have just helped save someone's career. Ta.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

 

Sponsor a Doctor

Right, all hands to the pumps, your assistance is solicited, desired, demanded and begged. My blogging friend Merys needs your help in a matter of some urgency.

Vital funding has been withheld, and in order to get next years funding towards becoming a Doctor, and saving lives etc, she needs £1000 to get her grant back. All those wishing to assist, a tenner, a pound, some pennies, any spare change you can spare. We have two weeks to make the funding deadline, so click this link or visit Merys’ blog now. Not next week, not tomorrow but NOW, please. Donate via PayPal.

All of those bloggers who link to and occasionally read my rabid nonsense are being requested to assist in this campaign. We have two weeks, no more.

Only £1000 to sponsor a new doctor? Sounds like a bloody good deal to me. You never know when you’ll need one.

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Is this legal?












Man taking close ups of pigeons. "C'mon baby, pout for me, you know you want to."

Bear dressed in skirt (Wrong material for a kilt I was told)

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

 

It isn't worth it

Perusing the news while waiting for Mrs S to get home, and saw this account of a man who died over of all things a parking space. I know it's easy to get heated over, but there are nobler and more fitting ways to meet your maker than a stupid row over a parking space.

If the victim had been fifty years younger I'd be putting in a nomination for the Darwin awards.

Likewise, to threaten a Parking Attendant, then hit two Coppers over a lousy ticket is just so deeply sad.

Some people really should learn to use the challenge procedure instead.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

 

They also come out at night

Keep getting a google search "Do parking wardens work weekend nights?"

Some places yes, some places no. I used to. I've blogged about the drunks, the bouncers and the fast food drop offs. Mind you, after dark we were always thin on the ground, or rather my oppo's still are. The job was to keep people off the restrictions so everyone else could get by safely. We couldn't always be there, though.

Here's a little anecdote from the memory banks; a brand new BMW was parked on double yellows outside a takeaway near my house. I off duty and heading back home from the chip shop on foot. A truck went past in the narrow steet and there's a crunching sound as it is forced to cut in close by another car coming the other way and the truck carves off the beemers wing mirror. The truck carried on as if nothing had happened. I remember thinking at the time; "That'll cost him more than a parking ticket." I don't think insurance companies cough up so readily if you are breaking the law when you have a thump.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

 

An epigrammatic post

Why spend your hours in terrors grip,
Trudging heads down when you should be flying,
Take it from me you are far better off,
Living - not fretting ‘bout dying.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

 

Well that’s me dead then

According to various news reports, anyone guilty of the shortly-to-be-an-offence ‘crime’ of eating red meat or drinking alcohol will die of Cancer. Whilst agreeing in principle that too much of anything can really ruin your entire day, I’m not going to make any radical changes to my own diet. Besides, from what I can make out, the ‘risk factor’ quoted is not as high as other 'hazards', and I wouldn’t back a horse on those odds. The risks are all relative anyway, and what works for someone who sits at a desk all day is highly unsuitable for those with very physical lifestyles.
The WCRF recommendations are briefly:
1) Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight – Not always achievable but Okay, fair comment, good idea.
2) Be physically active as part of everyday life – Although when you’re well and truly cream crackered there is a lot to say for just ‘Vegging out’ and crashing for a couple of days. You can’t push yourself without proper R&R from time to time.
3) Limit consumption of energy-dense foods, and avoid sugary drinks – Although an energy drink can be a real life (and job) saver sometimes.
4) Eat mostly foods of plant origin – No. Sorry. If God had wanted me to be a Vegetarian I’d have four stomachs and herbivore teeth like a cow.
5) Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat - Well I’d rather cut out all those starch packed ‘Healthy options’ (Un) microwave meals instead. Give me the (Unmodified) fat and cut out the additives and starches any day.
6) Limit alcoholic drinks – Wish they’d make up their mind on this one; a few beers or glass of wine or not. Sometimes life is too bloody complicated to be a teetotaler.
7) Limit consumption of salt, and avoid mouldy cereals or pulses - Funny the ‘advice’ doesn’t tell you that too little salt is as bad (or worse) for you as too much. Lose a lot of fluids while exercising? You will need to replace the salts as well. Some people have found that out the hard way. As for 'don't eat mouldy food' - does this include stuff with bacterial cultures like blue cheese and yoghurt?
8) Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone – Huh? How else? You eat and drink to stay alive, so is the message ‘don’t starve’? Okay, but a little fatuous.

As someone who breakfasts on a bacon sandwich and half a bucket of coffee most mornings (Wheat based cereals really don’t agree with me) I’m coming to the conclusion that I must already be a dead man walking. No meat, no booze – you might as well be dead. Did try a vegetarian diet for a month a long time ago, but it made me so ill (Gastric cramps, sleepless nights etc) that I decided that was not for me. I was brought up on a high protein diet, and my digestive system has adapted to that. Any attempt to reverse the transition is far too late. Might as well just roll over and wait for the inevitable, then?

Hey, hang on; Linda McCartney didn’t eat meat and what killed her? Breast Cancer I think. From what I can tell, she was never overweight either. She’s not the only fitness guru / diet advocate who came to a premature end. The guy who invented jogging died of a heart attack and wasn’t he not that old? All over the place, people with ‘healthy’ lifestyles seem to be keeling over like it’s going out of fashion. Damn, that sounds dangerous.

One personal anecdote; I remember an occasion where two people who lived so called ‘healthy’ lifestyles; Jogging, health food, all that jazz, keeled over in the same morning meeting. One moment they were upright and attentive, the next, bump! Down on the floor and out like a light. Both within twenty minutes of each other. We outdoor types got kicked out of the meeting room for fifteen minutes on both occasions and wandered off to get a coffee and maintain our nutrient levels, or step outside for a quick stimulant cigarette. Absolutely true, it happened twice in the space of an half an hour. I can only assume both parties hadn’t had a proper breakfast that morning and had missed their mid morning sweets (Which they had been observed doing). As I recall, us ‘unhealthy’ types almost dislocated our shoulders shrugging philosophically at this unseemly display of ‘healthy’ living.

Funny really. It seems that no matter what you do your card is marked at some level or other. That said, the thought of imminent demise doesn’t exactly make me go ‘whoopee’! Personally I think too much unreleased stress is a bigger killer. Whenever I’m overstressed I go out for a while, do something physical, anything but sit still.

As for modifying my diet upon these recommendations; no. I will drink life to the lees and try to take what comes to me like a man. At least when the old grim reaper does come calling I can at least say; “I have lived.” Immortality, or at least longevity, will have to wait.

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A little seasonal crime prevention advice

Got into a bit of an argument with an anonymous commenter on the previous post about 'Trick or treat' and Halloween. I haven't changed my mind about enjoying the festival, but it seems some of you need help to deal with the more aggressive types out there.

Now I'll repeat and enlarge upon some of the advice I gave in response to the complaints that the festival is used for aggressive and intimidating behaviour by some. Some of which is tried and tested (By me in person), other stuff I'm familiar with having worked in the byzantine labyrinths of local Government.

First you have to get clever with the bad guys. Not threatening, but making it not worth their while to bother you. Don't want 'trick or treaters' calling? Right, buy the cheapest and least pleasant candy / sweets you can. Don't do anything that puts you in the wrong, but pay lip service only to the tradition and keep your 'guests' at the front door. Get rid of them quickly and don't get into a conversation; nod, smile "One handful only dear. Thank you." Ensuring that word gets around that you have "Crap sweets" should keep the little tinkers at bay for a couple or three years. What you are trying to do here is remove or limit their motivation. Any complaints from them can be dealt with by a cunning "Sorry chaps, you're a bit late - they're all we've got left." Any demands for food, drink, or alcohol should be dealt with by a "This isn't a bank / pub / supermarket you know. Goodnight." and a puzzled expression like you don't know what they want. After all, you'll have done your part - they've had the sweets - the 'bargain' is kept. Speaking for myself, I always answered the door wearing a fright mask and doing my 'hunchback' routine. Never had a problem.

There is another means of dealing with the bad guys, but you need training and more than a little nerve to do it. It is a method I used on every working day when I did foot patrol as a Parking Enforcer. It consists of trying to 'engage' the person who is making the threats, and getting them to behave like a reasonable adult. Without training I wouldn't even try it.

Going further down the line, if you have already had trouble with such 'visitors' and vandalism / threats etc, you can try and get some informal advice on the problem from the local nick. See if they can help. This sort of problem is independent of all festivals, and if you've already been assaulted / had your property vandalised - this is nothing to do with any festival. You are their 'bitch' and the little jokers I'm thinking about love that power. They get off on it. Film them in the act if you can, but make sure they don't see that tell tale red light on the camcorder or webcam. No sense in provoking matters.

Now if you are afraid that going into the local nick might make you a bigger target, then may I suggest this course of action; go to your local Council offices and ask for the Councillor who has the responsibility for the local Police committee. Not a 'Manager' or 'Liaison Officer' who will put you on a spreadsheet and promptly forget about your real problems, but the Councillor who works most closely with the local Police. Bend their ear, politely explain the problem in detail without naming names or pressing charges and make the Councillor's life difficult until a positive solution is found. They want the plaudits and the votes, so make them think that this is a golden opportunity for them to make a 'name' for themselves and get re-elected more easily. If that proves no use, get on to your local MP, in person at their 'surgery' if possible, and try a similar approach. The machinery is there, all you have to do is find at what level the levers of Local Government trip and things start to work in your favour. This will entail taking some time off work, but if you have a problem - You've got to deal with it somehow. As you may have found, there is no short cut.

As for the festival; try getting into the spirit of things. Wangle an invite to a party. Don't be alone. Always remember that with 'aggressive trick or treaters' you are dealing with 'pack psychology'. They prey on the weak because it makes them feel big. It's a low self esteem thing on their part. If your gang is bigger than theirs - they will not bother you so much and you may even be able to relax a little and actually enjoy yourself.

Look, this advice is the best I can offer without details or being there, and I'm not in that line of work any more. Hells bells, I'm not even in the UK any more, and 'Trick or treating' is a bit better organised over here in British Columbia (It's only really for under 11's anyway).

Anyway, I know that it is November 1st now and a bit late for advice on 'Trick or Treat' but best of luck to the afflicted amongst you. I wish you joy and surcease from your troubles; who knows, next year you may even rediscover something you thought was gone forever.

Regards

Bill

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Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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