I do love to have a couple of beers and talk up a storm. In normal times it’s often available seven days a week at gigs or the studio (a music-oriented LGBTQ friendly all-ages ‘safe space’ venue full of interesting people). Alas it’s become rather complicated in the last year.
The best research I’ve found says that being thirteen feet apart outdoors or in a ventilated space should be safe. It fits with Ontario’s new rules and Europe’s direction. By coincidence, that’s the same length as the bar in the main room. So in theory, it’s a go. Two people, one at either end and keep the music low so you don’t have to shout.
I’ll run it by a local doctor I’ve been chatting with.
He gives me homework.
I use Firefox. One of only a small percentage of people who do these days. The market is dominated by Chrome and it’s derivatives. I could go on about how a mono-culture on web access is dangerous, or how that it would be headed by what is effectively an ad firm/data broker with little sense of ethics, but I’d be digressing.
This is about add-ons. Mostly so I don’t forget what I’m using. You’ll probably want to go back to doing something more relevant to your life at this point (videos of goats cavorting is my go-to).
uBlock Origin - blocks lots of ads* and crap. Makes the web faster to browse.
Privacy Possum - reduces and/or falsifies data gathered by tracking companies.
Privacy Badger - learns to block invisible trackers.
Firefox Multi-Account Containers - lets you run each website in isolation.
Facebook Container - wraps Facebook automatically and generally screws with their tracking elsewhere on the web.
Decentraleyes - Messes with CDN (Content Delivery Network) delivery. Third parties that host web content and may monetise your data.
ClearURL’s - Removes tracking elements built into links and URL’s themselves.
HTTPS Everywhere - Just removed this one as the feature is now built into Firefox. Warns you when you load insecure websites (any password would be transmitted as plain text).
*I have no problems with seeing ads. I ran a site for a decade that depended on them for revenue. But those were topical, self-hosted and did not contain any trackers. Alas, many modern ad services are kinda shitty about that stuff.
Listening to: Negative Scanner - Nose Picker
Photo: Fraser River Park
Stanley likes digging a hole at the beach, dropping his ball into it then barking at the ball for a spell. Dig another hole, move the ball, bark at the ball…
Brain the size of a pea, I swear.
Listening to: Personality Crisis - Mrs. Palmer
Photo: Snowshoeing on Seymour with Stanley
The domain “Flay.Com” seems to get a lot of attention. Not the content (though I’d be flattered), but the name itself.
“Flay” is derived from one of my favourite trilogies, “Gormanghast” by Mervyn Peake. The first, “Titus Groan” was published in 1946 and the second “Gormanghast” in 1950. Some think they are on the level of better known authors like Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. I do. The first two books are unique in that, while certainly fiction and often classified as ‘fantasy’, they don’t actually contain much in the way of fantastic or supernatural elements. Full of ponderous description, if you’re a reader that visually imagines the scenes described, it’s chock full of wonder.
Mr. Flay was the Lord’s personal servant in the series, one of the core characters. I finally got to see the BBC film adaption of Gormanghast years ago when I bought the DVD set. Christopher Lee played the part of Mr. Flay along with a well chosen cast. Worth a watch IMHO.
If you visit the official site, mervynpeake.org, you can find some of the original character sketches and more information on his writings and life:
“Mr Flay appeared to clutter up the doorway as he stood revealed, his arms folded, surveying the smaller man before him in an expressionless way. It did not look as though such a bony face as his could give normal utterance, but rather that instead of sounds, something more brittle, more ancient, something dryer would emerge, something perhaps more in the nature of a splinter or fragment of stone. Nevertheless, the harsh lips parted. ‘It’s me,’ he said, and took a step forward into the room, his knee joints cracking as he did so. His passage across the room - in fact his passage through life - was accompanied by these cracking sounds, one per step, which might be likened to the breaking of twigs.”
Listening to: Red Gate Compilation Mixtape
Year ago I used to volunteer as a barn worker for a local rescue. S.A.I.N.T.S. in mission is a pretty unique place. A home/refuge/hospice that specialises in older animals. So looked forward it every week.
As I cleaned out the stalls, various animals would participate. Chewie would always make mischief. Tipping over your wheelbarrow JUST when you finally finished filling it. So much character, he always got a skritch between the horns when I wandered by.
Pigs, goats, llama, sheep, horses, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and more inhabited the place. But some of my favourites were the cows.
Percy (pictured) was a 2000 pound steer hand raised after being rescued from a calf auction. The closest thing to a “lap cow” you’d ever meet. Always curious, he would run over to say hi when you passed by. It should be mentioned he was a bit licky. OK, a lot licky. I mean, in an affectionate way, like a dog. But with a massive tongue that felt like it was going to take your skin off when he wrapped it around your arm.
And he smelled good. Perhaps it was growing up on and around farms as a kid, but the smell of cow has always been a strong olfactory memory. When biking through nearby pasture country I’ll always cruise slowly with my visor up, taking in the barnyard smells.
Heck, as kids we played “king of the hill” on mounds of dried poo. Good for the immune system I once read.
If the world ever returns to normal, S.A.I.N.T.S. used to have tours at 11:00am Saturday and Sundays. By donation. Totally worth it.
Listening to: Kyla La Grange - Vampire Smile (video)
Christmas Eve I made some changes to my life. Which under the pandemic rules here meant that I was “stateless”. Living solo and able to attach to another household. It’s not only permitted but seemingly encouraged as this all drags on. The risk from a “singleton” has been gauged negligible and the mental health benefits for all parties far outweigh any minor quibbles. That I also work alone, avoid the bus and changed my habits so I don’t frequent any busy/unsafe establishments means the risk to others is even lower.
And I can tell you, after enduring two weeks of household quarantine, they’re not wrong. Being solo all the time is not only a drag, but starts to stress you out. Seeing as long term stress can lead to health complications, the whole policy starts making sense.
I’ve been given (or researched) some additional guidelines. Pandemic “safe” dating, distanced walks or other such activities are all good. If it steps over the line, even something as simple as having dinner or visiting somebody’s house, that means you’ve “attached” yourself to the person/household. Which is also OK. If whatever you’ve mixed yourself up in ends… it’s back to another two weeks of being
driven insane conversing with your cat solo before you can “try again” with another person/household.
note: What’s official online is a rather vague and lacking in specifics, so all this has been gleaned from multiple science-based sources.
Excited and apprehensive at the same time. I’m not on social media and don’t really want to agree to the terms of service for a dating site, so it’s going to be down to… bravery?
Listening to: Primetime - Tied Down
Here he is rather disoriented from a recent move. His WTF?! pose.
I wandered into a animal rescue a decade ago, ready for another medical foster (the previous had been a doozy so we’d taken some time off).
“Wait here, we have an emergency that needs to get out today” was the reply. And a small beige box appeared before me along with medication and a sheet of instructions. The box let out one high pitched “mew!” on the way home. Sounded like a tiny cat although the box was rather heavy.
When finally opened a large forest cat uncurled itself and looked up. “Mew!”.
Willy was pretty much unadoptable. He was dying at the SPCA and after a large number of tests (barium series, the works) was, amongst some physical issues, diagnosed with a severe anxiety/abandonment disorder. If he doesn’t get enough love his body starts shutting down.
So he became the first of a number of “foster fails” over the years. He couldn’t go back into the system and not many people could (or would) be able to meet his various needs. Five homes was enough, he’d found his final one.
Life with him has not been without challenges. He’s a jealous thing who’s bitten partners and acted out when he doesn’t get enough attention. At one point I started playing console games so I’d stay still for at least an hour a day and recharge his batteries. He’s very affectionate and the:
BEST PANDEMIC BUDDY EVER!
Listening to: The Shiverettes - Dead Men Can’t Cat Call
This is my “Oh, hey. While you’re up can you grab me a beer?” photo.
Stanley was born atop Chilliwack Mountain. Runt of the litter, it was hit or miss whether he lived. Lucky for us, he not only pulled through, but became largest of the bunch. Size AND personality.
If you met him, you’d know he’s rather outgoing. Assuming he’s welcome wherever he goes, whether you’re a stranger sitting quietly reading on a park bench or a family having a picnic. Welcome to Stanley.
We did a lot of training with him at first. A lot because he was considered “wilful for the breed” and had to stay after class. Even so we eventually won a trophy for “most improved” of the year. Though he immediately forgot everything. Probably my fault.
He’s worked as a support dog both in workplaces during crunch times and as an anxiety dog of sorts at other events. He’s even been asked to help children get over their fear of dogs. If you wander about with him chances are people won’t remember your name. Been called “Mr. Stanley” on more than one occasion. All good.
If you see him out in Vancouver, please say hi. His entire reason for being (besides food) is to love strangers. Walks are great as you’re never alone for long. Even those brief distanced conversations help a lot during these isolating times.
I love the bugger. He lives upstairs now because of pet number 2. Willy the attack cat. More on him in another post.
Listening to: Nouvelle Vague - Dancing With Myself (cover)
Starting to live by myself during a global pandemic is forcing some decisions. Like what to do on New Years Eve? Stay home smothered in cat like every other night? Probably not good for the mental health, it’s hard enough to fly solo on a day-to-day basis.
I can’t remember a New Years without dancing. Be it in a house party’s kitchen or out at a venue, there has always been a
series of odd contortions vaguely aligned to music bit of dancing.
So I went down to a local venue, turned on the PA’s and had nice spin about the floor. Beer in hand. After all, who was I going to spill on? There was even a glass of champagne at midnight from a like minded (socially distanced) soul. For the first time in awhile, I got a wee bit tipsy.
Listening To: Au Pairs - Live in Berlin (video)
Stanley at ten weeks old. He’s still a cutie.
That snores like a dump truck.