Beam Us Up!

We’re off today for what will probably be the only >4 day hiking trip of the summer: Cape Scott. This will be the “second half” of the trail that we did last year, aka. the North Coast Trail. This half is expected to be quite a bit more pleasant and definitely more scenic. Here’s where it is:

The plan is the camp in Port McNeill tonight, then drive to ‘San Josef’ tomorrow, and basically hike to ‘the lighthouse’ on the tip of Cape Scott, as visible here.

Last year’s mega-hike was from Shushartie Bay, upper right corner of the above map, to San Josef. We had hoped to get to the Cape itself but didn’t make it that far, in part due to ultra-unpleasant trail conditions between Shushartie and Cape Sutil.

This year it will be the same four amigos – myself, Derek, Dave, and mini-Dave, who I guess is 12 or so this year. Derek is the hero of the trip for driving us all the way to Port Hardy, which is at least five hours north of Nanaimo.

I’m super-stoked for this trip; I was originally hoping to do the WCT, but (a) that’s not likely going to be schedulable and (b) Cape Scott will be new territory for me, so it’s better anyway. The only cloud on the horizon is literally a cloud on the horizon – the forecast for the weekend is not great. However, that was true last time, and the worst we got was drizzle. Plus, the forecast for Monday was good, last I checked.

By the way, ‘San Josef’ isn’t a town. It’s a park/beach, and my friend Chris, who knows a thing or two about hiking, told me it’s in his opinion the most beautiful place in BC. Here’s someone else’s picture that I found on Google:

I imagine we will spend our last night (Monday) here, as we did last time, though that remains to be worked out. ¡Hasta pronto!


Someone asked why US and UK accents are so different, given that they started off in the same place. I imagine it has a lot to do with things like German and Italian immigration to the US. However, I came across these two claims that would not have occurred to me (and I have no idea how true they are):

  1. the US accent has largely not changed over the years whereas the UK accent has changed ‘drastically’.
  2. ‘this shift occurred because people of low birth rank who had become wealthy were seeking ways to distinguish themselves from other commoners’

Why Do Americans and Brits Have Different Accents?

As for Spanish, I can’t really say how much the Spain and Latin American accents differ overall, but I am painfully aware of specific differences, especially with the “LL” as in “TORTILLA”. In Spain, it’s “TOR-TEE-AH”, in Costa Rica, it’s “TOR-TEE-JA” and in Argentina, it’s a very clear “TOR-TEE-SHA”.

Spain also has a funny thing some people call the “Spanish lisp”, though that term pisses them off. Basically soft ‘c’ in words like “cocina” (kitchen) are pronounced like “co-thee-na”, but only in (certain parts of) Spain. “co-see-na’ is more normal everywhere else.

The Big Sick

I want to recommend this movie. Janet, you might like it as it portrays persons of Indian/Pakistani origin, living in USA, in a mostly positive way. The guy who played the Pakistani was great. It’s a true story and I believe the actor played himself, but his girlfriend didn’t.

They had a preview for the movie version of one of my absolute favorite books EVER: The Glass Castle! Remember the shenanigans of Rex Walls (who existed in real life, it’s a true story)? Played by Woody Harrelson. I think I will avoid the movie, on the grounds that it couldn’t possibly be as good as the book.


I have two things to say about minimum wage. First of all, it might surprise you to know that my favorite magazine, The Economist, is generally in favour of higher minimum wages, despite their government-intervention-in-the-free-market nature. It’s because many studies have shown that they actually work, eg., their capitalist-predicted negative effect on entry level job growth is more than offset by the extra cash that the remaining people get, and presumably spend on supporting other entry-level workers. The only thing that The Economist likes better than free-market ranting is studies and data. Good for them.

This second part is more interesting. TIL that in Costa Rica, they don’t just have a minimum wage: the government publishes a list of about 200 defined jobs, and a minimum pay for each. In Canadian dollars, it’s typically around $700 per month, and tops out at $1400 for ‘Secretaria’ and ‘Licenciado Universitario’ (I think this means someone with a bachelor’s degree, but I’m not clear on that).

Mostly the categories make sense, but some of them really bizarre, even allowing for differences in the development level of our countries: Popular Dance Instructor (what if you teach obscure forms of dance?), Horse Washer (distinct from Car Washer), Polisher, Tinsmith, Cobbler.

I wonder if Costa Ricans spend a lot of time arguing about whether they are a ‘General Mechanic’ or a ‘Precision Mechanic’. It could be partially defined by technical qualifications, I guess.


After going on 4 years of increasingly fanatical study of Spanish, I realized I still don’t really understand indirect objects.

The problem is, in Spanish, it’s common to use what they sometimes call ‘redundant indirect object pronouns’. Basically, they say things like ‘I gave it to her Maria’, the ‘her’ being redundant because we already know it’s Maria.

This is so common that most profs will tell you that it’s obligatory. I believe the formal rule is that it’s optional, but it “sounds weird” if you omit it (apparently. I had been omitting it most of the time, until now).

This gets even more confusing because of this weird Spanish thing called ‘leismo’, which doesn’t map directly to anything that we have in English, but it’s sort of like saying ‘I gave it to it’ instead of ‘I gave it to him’, eg. using a pronoun that doesn’t really make sense.

Spanish is full of ‘ismos’, referring to casual ways of communicating that aren’t grammatically correct, but are very common (like wanna, gonna, me and him went to the store, etc.)


Ben phoned at 7 AM this morning from Germany. He sounded great, but wanted advice about going to Hamburg. I was only vaguely aware that there is rioting going on due to G20 and Trump. Naturally, my response was “of course you should go to Hamburg!” and his mother’s response was the opposite. I’m not sure what he’s actually going to do.

Hamburg is 400 km north and perhaps not too far in hours at typical Autobahn speeds of (according to Ben) 190 km/h. They were also talking about going go Frankfurt, which is to the East and much closer (maybe 150 km).

On their way back from Munich, they spent a half-day in a place called Regensburg, which I have never heard of but Ben says is the nicest city he’s ever seen.

He’s coming back on Tuesday. I wish he was staying longer!


Here’s something I don’t understand.

As a long-time reader of The Economist, I more-or-less understand all the goodness that free trade brings. Were Trump to, say, literally ban trade with  Germany and China, it would clearly be a terrible thing for everyone. Tons of Chinese people would have to go back to their impoverished lifestyles, and tons of Americans would have to start paying 10x for all the crap they buy at WalMart every day. Which of course means they’d end up buying much less of it and generally having a much reduced lifestyle.

That said, it’s a simple fact that the US has massive trade deficits with China and Germany (and others), and I don’t see how that can be sustainable. The Economist & Co. seem willing to brush this off, on the basis that the money comes back to USA in the form of them buying our government debt and such. But isn’t that basically saying that we are running up the world’s biggest credit card bill?

We all loathe DJT, right?, and the way he’s going about everything horrible, right?, but unlike some of his other crazy enthusiams … America’s trade deficit DOES seem like a problem that needs solving.