Great White Hunter Walt’s maybe thinking he just shoulda stood in bed that day

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Now the premise is, I love animals. All animals.

From the time I was a child I have owned cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, geese and have gained a lot from hanging with them. They treat you right. They are never deceitful and dishonest. Feed ’em and love ’em and you’ll get that right back from them. Says better things about them than it does about too many people on this planet. Animals don’t go to war, and they don’t attempt to impose boneheaded religious and/or political beliefs on you, reserving the right to annihilate you if you don’t agree with them.

Nope. Just give your dog or cat a warm and dry place to sleep and keep them fed and they are yours for keeps.blackity

As you know, my beloved Max is ailing and it breaks my heart, but I am also a realist and I know that life has a cycle, as unfair as that might seem. Wendy and I will love him for as long as we are charged to, and we will also love his memory forevermore. He is/was a blessing.

So, that is how I feel about animals. Wild animals as well as domestic. I live in Comox and deer are as plentiful as cocker spaniels and while some curse them, I always love seeing them. To spy a bear in the wilderness is a treat, not a source of fear. I regret that I have never seen a cougar in the wild.

Needless to say I don’t hunt. I don’t ‘get’ hunting. If I can pick up meat at a supermarket why do I want to kill something. I don’t even fish any longer, despite the fact it was an activity I loved at one time. I’m not a vegetarian, so maybe I am a hypocrite. I just want no part of taking an animal’s life. And in that context I will never ‘get’ such a person as Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer who paid big bucks to slaughter a magnificent lion in a Zimbabwe game preserve. I don’t wish him dead (as some seem to, but I think that’s a bit excessive) but I do wish him to rue what he did and I would like the fact that this tale has gone as viral as it did to provide a cautionary tale to anyone who might be considering such an ‘adventure’ in the future. Your transgression will not go unnoticed and you will pay the penalty of almost universal opprobrium, as old Walt has.

I also think that living in a province in which there is a government that seems to think it’s a peachy idea to trophy hunt magnificent grizzlies that we can ill-afford to be entirely judgmental about dumb old Walt unless we are prepared to fight the good fight to bring an end to that bullshit. Want to get your rocks off, boys, then scan Internet porno and leave the animals alone.

Sorry you had to go, Jon, and I will try to understand

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I know I am going to miss Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. While I am not an avid viewer of his semi-satirical/sometimes semi-serious ‘news’ offering, I am a semi-regular one and have been for years. I am going to miss him because in this fucked-up world the sanity of a Stewart is needed. And he is the best there is in that regard.

Stewart did not originate the concept of the satirical news broadcast. There are items in that regard that go back to the days of radio. Will Rogers did stuff in the 1930s that would pass muster on the Daily Show. On television you can certainly go back to That Was The Week That Was in the 1960s for a kind of progenitor. In the UK in the early 1980s when I lived there, Not the Nine O’Clock News (the program that basically spawned Rowan Atkinson, did a fine mock news format. And even currently there is Bill Maher, John Oliver and Stephen Colbert (spawned by the Stewart show). All of these are worthy, but all lack some of the special and rather indefinable charm of Stewart. They also lack some of his genuine wit. He’s a funny guy.not 9

For me Stewart works best of all. In the first place he tries to be balanced and he attempts to not be rude or gratuitously argumentative and confrontational with guests with whom he might not agree politically. Some of his interchanges with John McCain have been agreeable and entertaining – and intelligent – and McCain, despite his flaws and the Palin thing is not a stupid guy. This is where I part company with Maher. He is often rude and disdainful of opinions he doesn’t agree with and I don’t need that sort of rancor with something that is at heart an ‘entertainment’, and Stewart never lost sight of the fact that he is at heart an entertainer. Witness his rip-offs of old Johnny Carson schtick, for which Stewart is unapologetic. He actually would have been a worthy replacement for Johnny rather than that unfunny bozo with the big jaw who got the job.maher

I like John Oliver very much, and he can be both thoughtful and terribly funny. I’ve never much warmed to Colbert. Something too private school about his demeanor and I am sorry he was chosen as the replacement for the brilliant (to me) Letterman.

Actually Jon would have been good with the Letterman gig. And I’ll just have to give Colbert a chance.

I am sure we haven’t seen the last of Jon. He’s still a relatively young man. But I’ll miss him in his time-honored incarnation. Hell, I haven’t yet gotten over the loss of Chelsea Handler.Chelsea-Handler-comedian-ftr

It is well to remember that the Sahara was once a verdant wonderland

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How many people know that the Sahara Desert was once a lush tropical zone with jungles and masses of foliage, and that North Africa was the granary of the Roman Empire rather than a torrid, dry and dusty realm only punctuated by a scattering of oases throughout?

So, if you are tempted to pooh-pooh the concept of climate change you might want to think about that.as it was

Such is just one point to ponder as I sit here at my laptop wondering if it actually ‘is’ going to rain today like the prognosticators promised it would. I have noticed though that the given POP of earlier this morning of 80% chance of precip has now halved to 40. Bastard weather gods. They promised. They lied and now there is a much smaller chance it is going to piss down which is going to mean I’ll have to be out later hand-watering.

I have lived on this coast (with a few intervals elsewhere) all my life and I have never thought I might be prompted to pray for rain. But that is as it has been this year when a non-winter segued into ‘summer’, not spring. We have plants and shrubs that should be reaching their peaks in mid to late August that have now already run their course and July isn’t yet out.

And, as we all know we are on severe water restrictions and will continue to be so until that precious elixir falls from the sky in massive amounts for days and days.

Now we have a wonderful underground sprinkler network which we cannot use, and lugging watering cans around has gotten old and tedious, but that is what it takes. And as I wander the neighborhood I notice that the vast majority of people are respecting the realities of our drought and there lawns have turned brown and Arizona. There are a few self-indulgent sorts, or grassholes as the newly-coined and apt bit of terminology would call them, and so it should. Self-indulgent jerks.bran lawbs

But, I must say that while the citizenry has been stalwart in their respect for our radically diminished resource, those who should have been providing leadership and direction all along, haven’t. Local governments seemed to be of the opinion for much too long that the rules did not apply to them and it was only when their backs were at the wall that they acceded – in part – while still claiming their rights to certain exemptions that are not granted to those who actually pay taxes in those municipalities.

It will be interesting to see what their attitudes will be should the current state of affairs continues into October, as it easily could.

And as an end-note, since this screed has been all about ‘us’ and our deprivations, take a moment to think about the plight of our coastal fish, which are indeed in a dire situation as the rivers, creeks and tributaries dry up.

The Sahara was once a lush and verdant strand in North Africa. We must remember that.

Our capital can be a charming town and a not-so-charming town

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The British Columbia community that never fails to amuse me is our own capital – Victoria. If I were to think of a single adjective to ascribe to this pretty town at the bottom end of Vancouver Island, ‘silly’ is the one that comes to mind. Dysfunctional would likely be another.

Victoria is a pretty town and it has distinct virtues. It is a pretty town in the touristy, chocolate box image parts. You know, the Inner Harbour, the Empress, Government Street, the Legislative Buildings, James Bay, and not so much more. Venture into Victoria’s hinterland uptown and it’s kind of a sty, truth be known.

I have my own favorite spots, including the Inner Harbour, lower Government Street, Ogden Point and the Cook St. Village, Beacon Hill Park and so forth. As I lived part-time there a few years ago I got to know the place fairly well.Empress Hotel Victoria BC

Victoria also boasts some fine eateries, a fascinating little Chinatown, and a provincial museum that has much to offer.

But, there are other realities about the place that must be considered. Not nice realities. In the first place, even though it is the capital (which is stupid in itself since other realities dictate the capital should be on the Mainland and not separated from the commercial centre of the province, Vancouver, by a body of water. And in being situated where it is, most pols have been contemptuous of the place in which they have to reside for part of the year.

But, Victoria’s attitude about the Island sucks as well. Even though it is on Vancouver Island, Victoria is definitely not ‘of’ Vancouver Island. Get a few miles north of the Malahat and Victorians get confused and are of the opinion that “there be dragons” by the time you get to Duncan. Only Victoria’s skiers have any comprehension of the Comox Valley.

And quaint little chocolate box town that it might see itself as being, Victoria’s ‘mean streets’ are remarkably unpleasant with panhandlers and druggies in fine profusion. The area around Mickey D’s on Douglas is notably unpleasant. When I was addictions counselling a client opined that the notorious Downtown Eastside in Vancouver felt safer than the streets of Victoria. ‘It’s fuckin’ scary there, man,” he attested. I couldn’t disagree and those are not streets I like to stroll on after dusk.colwood

And Victoria is silly and dysfunctional in a lot of ways. For example:

– about 93 different unamalgamated communities make up Greater Victoria and you can forgive novice visitors for not understanding WTF a View Royal or Colwood happens to be.

– Victoria needs a sewage plant but cannot decide where to put it. I think the last tally is 3,456 prospective sites, none of which is acceptable (see 93 different communities).

– Victoria decided it needed a ‘new’ Johnson St. Bridge (for reasons best known to the city’s counsellors) and has gone a few trillion bucks over budget for a bridge (a little dinky bridge, not the Golden Gate, for God’s sake) that is still far from being completed.

– Victoria also tops the Guinness Book of Records for arguably having the worst traffic congestion of damn near anywhere with the so-called Colwood Crawl. If you have never experienced it, you are very lucky. Oh, and the area pols refuse to consider light rail traffic as a possible option to ease the congestion – you know, light rail like grownup cities have.

But, in all of this, don’t get me wrong. I actually quite like Victoria and enjoyed the time I was in part-time residence. Lots of culture, lots of beauty; but with a few flaws.

Come on. He’s having us on. Nobody this side of a penal institution is so disgustingly horrible

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I think Donald Trump is having us on. I’ve known some shady characters in my life but nobody quite as despicable as this comb-over creep. I mean, you’d really have to work at it to become a creature with no discernible virtues.

Personally I think he may be working for the Democratic Party and is working steadfastly to taint the Republican brand. Or else his vileness is for real.

I mean, the sonofabitch is a caricature of a greedy, self-indulgent, self-righteous, arrogant, supremely over-privileged bigot. I honestly have run out of pejoratives to throw at the bastard (whom I have always found detestable) and I am not about to waste any more good expletives on him. That’s mainly because a sociopath such as he is flattered when vituperation is sent in his direction. It means he is doing his warped job. mccain-nixon_3380883b

But, surely to Christ the Republicans aren’t so fucked that they don’t realize he is hurting them badly. Either that or he is actually working for Jeb and if Jeb then secures the nod, all the GOP types can exhale with a collective ‘phew’!

But of all his turdishness I think the most vile utterance isn’t the one about the Mexicans. Not that it wasn’t terrible, it was just that it was entirely predictable. No, it was this money-counting lounge lizard’s comments on John McCain and his incarceration by the Viet Cong. I mean, Christ on crutches, how can you demean a man who not only served his country but suffered a personal hell for months and months that this wearer of silk jammies (who never served anyone other than himself) in such a manner? Truly beyond comprehension. And if he actually believes his crap in this regard then he is a dangerous psychopath.

I am not writing this to defend McCain per se. I mean, he did foist Palin (who looks like a loveable cupcake in comparison to Trump) on an unsuspecting public, and he has been given to uttering bullshit rants about Obama. Hey John, he won and you lost. But if you read about his capture and the torture he underwent, you will make concessions, I assure you.mccain-palin1

Trump doesn’t make concessions, instead he offers creepy incestuous comments about his daughter.

That’s all I’ve got. Anything further would be a waste of time.

Personally I think an encounter with a Great White would be preferable to one with Donald Trump

Great White Shark Carcharodon carcharias Guadalupe Island, Baja, Mexico, Eastern Pacific

Great White Shark Carcharodon carcharias Guadalupe Island, Baja, Mexico, Eastern Pacific

Many things in life are pants-wetting frightening for me. Things like: walking down an unlit and unfamiliar road late at night; getting into a highway crash; being caught in flagrante (no, I don’t do that sort of thing these days, but I bet it’s pretty scary); being in a plane plummeting for earth; having to share a train-journey with either Don, Cherry or Trump. I’d prefer a Mafia ‘don’.

There are two things I am not frightened of, however, they are: skinny dipping in mixed company; and sharks. Today we shall look at the latter subject.Tiger_shark

First off, other than in an aquarium I haven’t ever seen much in the way of sharks in the wild. I did see a goodly sized salmon shark when I was snorkeling in Baynes Sound a number of years ago, but that’s about it for my shark tales. Other than that it has been dogfish, which are sharks, too, but, you know, dogfish. I have snorkeled and swum in tropical waters many times, in Hawaii, the Cook Islands, Southern Mexico. No sharks. I invariably emerge from an azure seas dousing kind of disappointed. That’s because I find predators, both land and sea, much more interesting than their prey. That’s why, for example seeing an orca or a hawk or an eagle is always a great adrenaline boost for me and most of us. I think cougars are magnificent looking. Never have seen one of those in the wild either.dogfish

I have been pleased to see that Shark Week on Discovery Channel this time around has changed its focus from trying to evoke Jaws terror to a genuine scientific study of creatures that predate the dinosaurs. They are deserving of that sort of respect.

Last summer when we were in Hawaii we tripped out to a favorite beach on the Big Island. Guy there told us that if we were concerned there was a shark out in the bay. A number of people had seen it from the bluff that overlooked the beach. Did we stay out of the water? Not a chance. Disappointed a tiny bit I was that I did not see it.

A few days later we went on a manta ray diving expedition. The boat operator mentioned that when they were setting the big flood lights (to attract the rays) in place there was a white-tipped shark down below. Again, disappointment when I went in the water since it had gone.skinny dip

Do I welcome a close encounter with one of the few species of really ‘dangerous’ ones, like a great white or a tiger or a mako or a bull? Not a chance. I am not a fool, and I know that once in a while sharks attack and sometimes even kill people. Actually, the dangerous shark (ruthlessly dangerous) around the Hawaiian Islands and in the South Pacific is not the great white, but the tiger. They’re mean bastards if they get a mind to be so. But I know also that I run a much greater risk of being killed just by driving to the beach that might have a shark present.

And I will not countenance the idea for a second that sharks are harvested by Asians to make fucking soup. Appalling and even those who consume it should be either hanged or put in the water with a ravenous great white with no cage in place.

So, at the end of the day is the great white the most dangerous critter in the sea? Nope, the top-of-the-food-chain honors go to the orca. Woo-hoo, killer whales rule!

Max went under the knife and we had a pelting rain: Hopefully both were good things

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Two wonderful things happened this past weekend: In the first case Max had his spleen yanked out, which will (we hope and pray) give him a prolonged life; and in the second, it pissed down rain all day on the day of his surgery.

Two updates: Max is doing as well as can be expected, though still a little shaky on his pins and in a bit of pain (well, have your spleen abruptly removed and see how you feel); and secondly our garden is very happy with the precipitation visitation.

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We had been undergoing a bit of a drought for the past few months and it was getting unnerving. I lost count of the number of times people expressed the sentiment: “This is getting scary.” I said it myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the desert. Palm Springs is one of my favorite spots. I like the desert, but I don’t like having it ‘here’. It’s just not right. I know I couldn’t live in the Atacama Desert in Chile which has had about 1/8 of an inch of rain since Neanderthal days.

Truth is, we were in a drought and every cliche about coastal BC being the ‘Wet Coast’ had been rent asunder, and we all started to get uneasy and we had visions of a California-type drought befalling us. We may yet. I mean to say, one day of rain is bugger all, so don’t count on it being over yet. The future prognostications indicate we are heading back into a spate of warm and dry. Warm has been the other element in all of this. It’s a rare fluke for us to have days that max out to more than 30 degrees on a consistent basis.

In any case, wet or dry, torrid or chilly, at least Max seems to be getting better and also our rhodos seem to have survived the drought. And now I leave you with this thought – feel free to sing along:

If we didn’t have rain then we wouldn’t have flowers,

We wouldn’t have flowers if we didn’t have showers.

There’d be nowhere to swim; there’d be no babbling brook,

there’d be no fish to catch on the end of a hook.