Saturday, May 29, 2010

Not working or training. Imagine that.

So what do I do on such days? I wasn't mowing the lawn, that's for sure. It needs it but nobody expects it to be done when it's covered with snow. Yep. Still snowing. Thought you'd want to know.

This morning was nice and easy. I even napped with Amelia for a little while. The task for today was to clean wine bottles. We're good about rinsing the bottles as soon as we've drunk them. I know which ones are prone to filming if you leave them half full, so we put those in a decanter and rinse right away. Still, after a while the water spots build up. Label goo slowly accumulates. And every now and then a bottle has some sediment stuck to the insides.

These get set aside and eventually they get thoroughly cleaned. Today was that day. It sounds dull, but it's actually very meditative. I have a couple 5 gallon pails (we still call them that even though they are labeled in some number of litres) filled with tepid water and some bleach. Each pail holds 8 bottles, and they sit there a while. A brush scrubs at the inside and neck. Dump a bottle back into the pail and hold up to the light. Scrub the outside with Comet if needed to get off label goo. Make sure inside is clean. Mostly this works. Rinse thoroughly in hot water, let dry on the stand. That was good for several hours.

If there is guck on the inside it's time for the big guns. I pour a capful of bleach in, and about twice that much water for a strong solution. Lee Valley Tools sells a bottle cleaner that is the cat's meow. Works like a charm. That gets poured into each bottle in turn that needs it. Today only two did. I suppose I should warn woodworkers and gardeners about this place. It's dangerous. They sell some of the best and neatest tools in the world. Just reading their catalogue makes you want to go buy stuff, even if you hadn't previously perceived the need for that item.

I'm very fussy about my glass. Even though red wine normally comes in green glass bottles to keep sunlight from affecting the wine, I use clear glass Bordeaux bottles. Our basement never sees sunlight so it's safe, and once it's upstairs it isn't around long enough to be affected by sunlight. The big advantage is that with clear glass it's easy to tell at a glance how clean it is. Hold it up to the light and it's tale is told.

There are different boxes for the different levels of cleaning:

  • Bottles left over from the last bottling have the neck covered in plastic wrap; they are good to go for next time. 
  • Clean bottles that just need to be rinsed with a sterilizing solution then used for bottling the next batch. (Yes, I know the bottles aren't sterile. Very clean with nothing visible growing is about the best we can do.)
  • Bottles that need labels and shrink cap remainders removed, and perhaps some cork residue in the neck brushed out. (The general rule about label removal is the easier it went on, the harder it is to get off.)
  • Bottles that have enough guck built up to need bleaching.
I didn't want to think about training, so I distracted myself with thinking about the United Nations and international relations. The problem with the United Nations, as I see it, is that any tin-pot entity that calls itself a nation is admitted. There are 192 members, with only 3 nation states that are not members. Normally I'd make you guess, but they are Kosovo, Taiwan, and Vatican City. Kosovo is new and is going through whatever procedures are required to join. The current China replaced the Republic of China (incorrectly in my view.) The main reason Taiwan isn't a member is that China throws a hissy fit anytime a country makes noises about recognizing a de-facto situation. And Vatican city isn't really a nation state.

Quite frankly, I don't think some of the current members really ought to be allowed a say in what is essentially a rudimentary form of world government. A nation ought to demonstrate some basic competence at governing itself before being allowed a voice in world affairs. On those grounds failed states (in no particular order) like Afghanistan, Somalia, Jamaica, Congo, and Zimbabwe should be expelled. Isolationist states like North Korea and Myanmar/Burma ought not to be allowed to participate till they can pass the kindergarten test. (Sharing and playing nice with others.) 

Then I got to thinking about the recent economic issues, and wondered how it would turn out if a member country was put on suspension till they get their affairs in order? Sort of like a company seeking bankruptcy protection. So Greece, to use an example currently in the news, would have it's membership suspended until it pays back the IMF or EU loans. Maybe the humiliation of having that happen would inspire countries to govern themselves better. 

The security council has to go. It's a relic of WWII and doesn't reflect current realities. Each of them having a veto is stupid. There's got to be a better way of doing things. Rather than military power, perhaps the top economic powers should be chosen, and it should be a larger group. It's becoming much more effective to wage economic warfare rather than military. Slower, less dramatic, but people have shown enormous resiliency in standing up to military power. Right now in Afghanistan a small diffuse group of third world tribes are kicking the developed world in the shins and getting away with it. But deprive people of cell phones and the new iPod and by golly changes will be made.

Members that don't pay their dues should get dropped, then have to go through whatever procedures exist to re-join, starting at the back of the line. It's difficult to enforce this on the bully states though. And really, the UN ought to meet on neutral ground. At least once the USA has denied a visa to someone wanting to speak at the UN.

The big problem is that a majority is not always right. If it came to a vote a majority of countries might line up to say that Israel doesn't have a right to exist. Some believe it to the core of their being, and some of the smaller countries could be bullied into voting that way. It's clear the UN should have acted in Rwanda, but the majority of members in 1994 didn't think it was a problem that Africans were slaughtering one another. Each country acts in its own self interest, and that interest is usually very short term. The open seas fisheries are a good example. Really, all commercial fishing should stop for at least several decades to let the fish stocks build up again, but nobody will agree to that. Canada can't even agree to stop in our own waters, since a loud group of fishermen are saying the stocks are building again, and there's thousands of seals on Sable Island that are eating the cod so they want the seals culled. Bah!

I dream of a race of civilized and advanced aliens following our radio and TV signals back. Along the way they've picked up 80 years of news and have a pretty good grip on current affairs. They can speak most of the major languages. Once here they recognize that some of the primates, whales, dolphins, elephants, and maybe octopus, big cats, and polar bears are actually sentient creatures and learn to speak with them as well. Are they going to want to deal with the UN? What actions are they going to take?


Looking forward to reading your comment!