Warning: Kangaroos in charge!

OK…this is unexpected, I am sure.  But I have to say it: Kangaroos are here and having their way with us! Kangaroo courts beget lynchings and we are definitely watching lynchings and letting them happen.  Therefore…watch out for kangaroos!

What I mean by that: allegations are not fact.  Allegations can be just gossip.  If someone alleges a crime was committed, an investigation should take place and a proper trial convened.  The alleged victim has to come forward. Evidence has to be presented. Anything else is just rumour or gossip, however compelling the story.

The above is written knowing full well that alleged victims can be telling the truth but are hesitant to come forward and often for understandable reasons.  Women are especially reluctant to describe personal violations even if the intimacy was not wanted or expected. It’s embarrassing at the very least.  It can be traumatically scarring.  Fraud victims feel similarly.  They feel stupid for being so naive or trusting.  Their wounds can be more than just financial, too.

But others cannot pay the social and legal price for a crime they may not have committed. That is blatant injustice and, to my mind, that kind of injustice trumps embarrassment, humiliation and monetary loss. As I write this, the current rash of accusations serving as judgments is a travesty of any kind of justice and we are now all accomplices to that very real crime if we don’t at least speak out.

I am not alone in thinking this way – it is the basis on which our criminal legal system operates. It is a fundamental premise in all law.  Proof is required. The accused has to know the accuser.  It’s tough for everyone but so was the alleged crime and so is the possible judgment.  Crime is not nice and no amount of dancing around it or coddling will make it better.

All of the above, I believe, will be agreed to by most thinking individuals but I want to considertwo other elements as well.  Time and changing standards and basic primal motives – the kind that no laws have effect on.

Firstly, what constitutes sexual harassment today was considered normal behaviour less than thirty years ago. Women were subjected to sexual inequality in many ways and it was the norm.  That does not make it right nor does it make it better but what might constitute a crime today may have been just considered a ‘pass’ or ‘naughty behaviour’ a few decades ago.

And men make passes at women all the time.  It is natural.

For instance: forty years ago a man might pat or pinch a woman’s bottom as she walked by.  That might have been pushing the social envelope even then, but it seems to be an indictable offense today.  Whether it was as bad or damaging as currently alleged by feminist politics is not the point – the point is social behaviours change.  People change with them. Something viewed in retrospect misses the context.  And context counts.

The longer the time interval the less credible the allegation.  Another basic premise in law.

Mind you, rape is always rape.  Child molestation was and always will be a crime.  Some things have no statute of limitations.  But sexual harassment does.  Or should.  Hell, there was not even such a term forty years ago.  We have come a long way, baby!

Which brings me to my most contentious point:

By and large (although not so much today) men pursued women and women allowed themselves to be caught.  Or not.  Women attracted as many men as possible and then rejected the ones they didn’t want.  It was the natural order of things.  But what that meant was that an attractive woman would attract some (if not many) unwanted suitors and sometimes they were unwanted because they weren’t very nice.  Society had norms and standards for that and sometimes even chaperons.  The sexual ‘danger’ an attractive woman was in was well understood.

Muslim cultures even clothe women from head to toe in black blankets because of it.

But (here it is) why is it that men aren’t nice?  Why did we and why do we still operate as if men are a danger?

Answer: because we are!  Men are trying to get into the gene pool any way they can.  It is natural.  It is instinctive.  It is the way men are wired.  And some men try harder than they should or than is expected or wanted.  Some go to unacceptable lengths.  It is the way of us.  ‘All men are pigs’ is an expression meaning simply that they are driven by their hormonal urges and, to a women, that can be and is a danger.  It’s not nice but it is natural.

We may even deem it illegal and socially unacceptable a lot of the time but it is still mostly hormone-driven (yes, there are some guys who are just nuts).  So the point…? Behaviour has to be regulated for a society to function but, perhaps, ruining a person (and their family) for succumbing to primal biological urges is an over reaction.

And ruining a person for an allegation is just plain wrong on every level.

Consider the justice or injustice being played out lately in Canada by our politically correct politicians (but this has been going on for decades in so many venues.  One of the most memorable for me was the SFU coach who was accused by Rachel Marsden who then went on to accuse others of the same thing only to eventually be proven completely mad. She had a mental problem.  Not them.  But the men accused were ruined for a long time).

Ottawa: Two women were allegedly sexually assaulted some time in the past.  It must have been horrible for them but they managed to recover to the extent that they have normal lives today and are even successful. They are so successful they are MPs in parliament. They are OK by societal standards – they have the votes to prove it.  At some point they decide to tell their story but do not want to go public.  They need to talk about it. Fair enough.

Justin Trudeau is told the story and decides (after consulting with senior lawyers in his cabinet) that if the allegations are true and he does not act, he will be vilified.  So he literally ‘outs’ the accused MPs.   He knew the difference between a political rock and a hard place but that is clearly all he knows.  And he acted out of concern for himself – not on behalf of all women.  Nor on behalf of justice or the accused.  Nor on our behalf.   In that way, he failed all of us except himself.

The two accused MPs are ruined.  They have no forum in which to be heard.  They have no one to appeal to.  They are punished well beyond the scope of the alleged crime.  We left them to be convicted by kangaroo courts.

Justice and the law have been rent asunder.  Trudeau is ‘believing’ the words as they were told to him on a bus without the proof, without a trial, without the accused having a chance to defend.  No cross examination.  No hard questions.

And we, the people, are accepting of that?  We who have tried to live within the law are accepting of some blatant kangaroo court conducted in the media!?

What the hell is wrong with us?

Part two.  Some of the problem is that even I believe the allegations a bit.  Why?  Because ‘piggy’ behaviour is essentially part of the male human animal.  Plus we seem to have a lot of such stories lately which may say something about the media as well.  Mostly it speaks to the human condition – whether we like it or not.

Men have an XY chromosome and, if you read about it, the weird Y is a miserable little mess of things compared to the female X chromosome.  Someone born with two X chromosomes is much more likely to behave like another 2X person than are two people with XY chromosomes.  XYs are different because the Y’s are kinda whacked.

I know that the above can read like an apologist point of view and that it will be condemned roundly for seemingly condoning bad male behaviour.  That is not the intention.  The intention is to point out that bad male behaviour has been with us for a long, long time and it is – whether we like it or not – to some extent natural.

I have no idea why we weren’t created with a consent-first gene but we weren’t.  I think we might be evolving to one as we continue to live (as a species).  Or maybe there will always be bad boys trying to enter the gene pool without permission.  I dunno.

But in the meantime, it seems only right that we at least adhere to the laws of the land as we allow some time for the species to evolve.  If we don’t, we will be over run by kangaroos called Justin.

Deja Vu all over again

Off The Grid is, of course, about living OFF the grid, not ON the grid and, since I am currently ON the grid, I should stop writing under this blog title.  But I can’t.  Writing is a habit.  A man’s gotta vent his spleen.

I won’t bore you with the basic urban traffic story anymore.  It is as bad as it has been described in the past and seemingly getting worse.  What a colossal waste of time for everyone.  It took us over an hour to cross the Lions Gate Bridge the other night.  At minimum wage and factoring in gasoline prices, it cost close to a gazillion dollars in wasted time, auto depreciation and operating expenses not counting pollution.  Maybe closer to two gazillion.

We took Fiddich for a walk on the seawall (off-leash section) this weekend (both days) and it was almost as crowded as a Hong Kong sidewalk.  That’s weird.  Dog walking is supposed to be relaxing  – not like commuting in traffic.

Yes, you’ve sensed the theme of today’s post: urban life is crowded, polluted and requires you to smell the butt (or exhaust) of the entity ahead of you while experiencing your butt being too-closely explored by those behind.  Fiddich and I are not amused.  Fiddich, especially, seems put off by all the butt-sniffing going on.  As a dog, he should be ‘into it’ but he is more than hesitant, he is literally shocked at such coarse behaviour.  Walking on the sea wall, for him, is a just one long moving violation.

I feel the same way about traffic.

And I can see why everyone is freaked out by ‘talking-on-the-cell-phone’ all of a sudden.  I have had a car-phone/cell phone since the mid eighties and I just couldn’t understand why all of a sudden it was such a big deal.  But my cell phone was (before I left the city) simple. As in ‘dumb’.  Now the phones are smart and require your complete focus.  Driving and phoning is easy.  Driving and smart-phoning is a major challenge.  Mind you, I am doing it. Like everyone else.  But it is NOT surprising that people are generally unaccepting of that. I am, too.

Even as I do it.

I am, of course, back to filling my car up every other day.  $60-70.  Ka-ching!  That gets old fast. And that’s closing on $750.00 a month!  $1000 before taxes. That cuts into my consulting fees!! The rat race is insane!

But we are ‘restauranting’ again. A bit.  Interestingly, that habit maintains it’s cachet for us and will for a while.  So far, so good.  We’ve had some really good food these past few days and I am not opposed to doing that a few times more.

Our Wfer’s came to join us at the site.  They had been on their own for the last two months on other Wfing gigs.  They got work cleaning up.  They are happy.  Canada has been good to the ‘boys’ and their memories will be good.

Sally has been content to shop, cook, walk and do quilting.  Wants me to pick up some bon bons for her next time I am out.  It is a bit of a vacation for her.  And that’s good.

All in all it is a back to the future kinda thing.  Deja Vu.

Consulting

Preamble: Part of my management style (*most important part – always do what Sal says) recognizes that people are generally followers.  Especially employees. Leaders cannot lead except by example and the choice to follow or not is made by the people themselves – NOT by the so-called leader-in-gold-braid. If you want to be a leader then initiate something and then get that something done. Someone may help and thus become a follower. They may not.  Either way, you got something done.

And we had to practice what we preach when we were building.  Even tho we had no followers except each other!!  Thank God for our last ten years! Hands-on constructing helps keep it real.

I remember working in offices downtown.  They weren’t quite real.  I wore a suit, a tie, shiny shoes and carried a cell and a briefcase and considered it ‘work’.  And it was in a weird kind of way.  Mental work.

But, if there were a dozen cardboard boxes that needed to go to storage, they just sat in the hallway until ‘someone’ came to get them. Maybe a ‘mover’ had to be called. The truth is just about every office I ever worked in had strong healthy adults working there, too. Some of them fitness buffs.  But no one would move the boxes.

Moving boxes to storage was somehow ‘beneath’ their station.

I am consulting with a firm right now for a short period.  Very short. A bit of a re-org. Change: how to get things done (they seem to be a bit slow to take action).  Been there a week.  “So, I’ve known you guys for over thirty years and the plants in the office are exactly as I remember them.  Are they real?”

“Yes.  And I hate them.  OMYGAWD I hate those plants.  Always half-dead, always the same.  Aaaaarghhh!”

“So, why not chuck ‘em?”

“I have given up asking for that to happen.  Been asking for years.  It never gets done!”

“But you want them out?”

“Yes!”

So, with that, I went to the closet to fetch the little trolley I knew was there, came in and wordlessly loaded the two half-dead plants and trundled them to the elevator.  I took the elevator to the basement and re-orged those corn plants into the dumpster.  Yes, I was dressed-for-success but my tie did not get in the way.  The plants were light enough.  I did not get dirty.  Ten minutes. Done!

When I came back the office was abuzz.  People I hadn’t seen were vacuuming up the shucked and fallen leaves.  Furniture was being rearranged.  My guy had a smile on his face. Someone brought me tea.  A secretary volunteered to get new plants for the office first thing next week.

“So, I said, now how about those twenty cardboard boxes at the other office that have been sitting in the hallway for six months.  Gonna get ‘em done?”

The guy looked at me.  And smiled.  “Let’s go get ‘em together. They have REALLY been bugging me!  Let’s go now.  I’ll get the key to the storage.”  When he went to the guy who had the key and had NOT moved the boxes in the last six months, that guy insisted on joining us.  Three guys in suits and ties went to the other office and in one hour had ‘gotten the ‘job’ done’.

“Today was a good day!”

Consulting, eh?  Who knew?

Blasphemy?

My father was in WW ll.  He was very badly wounded.  My father was wounded so badly that he received a 100% disability pension.  That says something when you consider that a soldier who lost both legs would receive an 80% disability pension.  My father kept all his limbs but the damage was still so horrific that he was classed as 100% disabled.

To my way of thinking, 100% disabled is dead.  For much of the first decade after the war, he thought so, too.

My father was totally wrecked and despite the healing, it took him the rest of his life to get near half better.  It took him two years just to get out of the hospital bed and for the next two years after that he was employed at Shaughnessy Hospital as a janitor because he kept collapsing.  It was easier to treat him when he was already there.

I mention all this because I know that he would be disgusted by Remembrance Day 2014 as presented by a government near you. He was very respectful of Remembrance Day but he felt that way because of the soldiers and the victims of war – NOT the government then.  NOT the government now.

He didn’t speak much of the war and, when he did, it was clear: war is hell and there is no glory in it.   He also would have said, “Nor should there be any political gain derived from it!”

Despite the tragedy (and sacrifice) of Cpl. Cirillo, my father would have seen the exaggeration of that nut-bar incident at the Parliament promoted as a quasi-terrorist incident as ridiculous.

My father seethed with anger most of his life but it mostly it just bubbled like lava.  But sometimes it erupted like a volcano.  Hyperbole by politicians would have just raised the temperature a little bit.  Political exploitation, on the other hand, might have set him off like Vesuvius.

He would have grumbled over the tax dollars spent by the Conservative party prior to the nut-bar incident glorifying the war of 1812.  “What the hell are they doing that for?” he would have growled.

And again all the saber-rattling over Ukraine and now Iraq.

And all the government of Canada sponsored TV ads imploring us to remember.

And all the fuss over the Franklin Expedition.  “Who cares about that, anyway?”

He would have been a little bit more riled over the huge Mother of Canada statue proposed to commemorate Canada’s war dead as stupid and ill-considered.  “Why not just help the actual veterans with those millions? Or equip our troops properly?”

But I think he would have been very angry over the whole of it, the cumulative acts by government over the last couple of years to exploit our history for political gain and especially this false alignment of the nut-bar incident with real soldiers in a real war (the victims of the two mental cases are being paraded as soldiers killed on home ground defending our country). 

I think he would have raged at Harper standing in front of poppies and monuments and at commemorations talking nonsense when the veterans themselves would likely string the minister of Veterans Affairs from the nearest tree.

I am pretty sure my father would have erupted at the constant political exploitation of everything Canadian and God help the closest politician to him when that happened.

The reason I can say all this is because I, too, am nauseated by all this pomp and hypocrisy being trotted out as some kind of patriotic Canadian-ism.  It is not.  We are being victimized by political boosterism.  It’s propaganda in a uniform. This is USA-type nationalism to glorify our nation and, by association, our current government.  It is sickening.

We can be proud of being Canadian all by ourselves, thank you.

If my father’s story is anything to go by (and he was there and he paid the price), war should not be glorified.  Not ever.  Victims should never be exploited for politics.  The general population should not be so easily manipulated as they are (record turnouts for Memorial Day ceremonies thanks to the manipulation of the story for the politicians to ride the tunics of the soldiers).  We are a free people and we should exercise that freedom to think for ourselves and NOT allow ourselves to be brainwashed by crass, self promoting politicians.

My father would have said, “Canada is peaceful by nature and that is the way it should be. Any incidents of war were forced on us and let it be left at that. The politicians should stay in the shadows where they belong.  And pipsqueaks like Harper should shut the hell up! 

Maybe I am not being clear…?

“Oh, you’re the guy who lives off the grid!”

“Yes.  Yes, I am.  Have we met?”

“No, I am new here but the other staff told me that you were coming in today and they told me that you have solar panels and all that and my husband wants to do that very badly.  He is reading and researching all the time.  I, however, am not so sure.”

“Well, here’s my number.  Give it to him.  I will happily discuss it.”

“Well, we want to buy some land do some farming and live free.  But land is so expensive.”

“The land is actually cheap right now and, compared to farming for a living, that is the least of your expenses.  Farming on the coast is very difficult.  Not a lot of good farmland.  We just seem to grow more rock!  But, if you are looking for a kitchen garden with a few fruit trees maybe and some chickens that is very possible.  Cultivating a half a section is almost impossible.”

“Oh.  I will definitely have him call you.”

He didn’t call.  I don’t blame him.  The dream is almost as good as the doing.  And we all need the dream.  This guy was just turning 50 and his wife, late forties.  So, they may get there.  They may make the leap.  Hard to say.  We’ll see.  But one thing is for sure – the term ‘off-the-grid’ has joined the popular lexicon.  People know the phrase, know what it means and seem to regard the idea favourably.  They aren’t leaving the city in droves but they are dreaming and reading and thinking about it.

I have had to have a lot of meetings at the local restaurant this week (I do not have an office anymore) and so I have come to know their staff as well as the one in a different office mentioned above.  Every time I go in, they ask me about living off the grid but really they want to tell me how hard it is living in the city.  One waitress in her mid sixties drives for an hour and a half to get to her job and then the same amount of time and distance to get home.  That’s eleven to twelve hours of working and slogging time!  In her sixties!  I pointed out the cost of operating the car (at least $1000 per month) and the condo fees ($500/month plus an ‘assessment’ every year of an extra $2000) and asked her why she would work just to drive and pay maintenance?

“What can I do?  I need to pay for my dental work.  I need to save…although we have not saved a penny in ten years.  Actually, we are going into debt!  My husband is working but he is getting fewer hours.  I just don’t know…”

“Move to a small town.  Whatever your condo is worth in the city, it will likely get you a better place in a small town.  You may even be able to walk to work.  The salary is likely a bit less but you will keep more of it.  Spend less time in traffic at the very least.”

“I don’t know.  We have always been city people.”

“Go to the opera a lot?  The hockey games?  Live theater?  You a restaurant freak?”

“No.  We don’t go out anymore.  Can’t afford it.  Too tired.  We watch TV.”

“Spusm has TV.”

“Where’s Spusm?”

“Never mind.  If you can muster the energy and the ferry fare some weekend, go look at Ladysmith or Chemainus or Crofton or even Comox.  Nice places.  Not expensive, ‘cept for Comox.  It is getting pretty popular.”

“Gee.  I don’t know.  My daughter is here.  So is my granddaughter.”

“How old is your daughter?”

“Early 40’s.”

“Old enough, I think, to travel to you to visit you.  No?”

“Oh….I dunno….gee….I just don’t know….I better get back to work….”

“OK.  See ya.”

Back to Bedlam

We are in the city again.  And today was sunny. All in all, a good place and time to be.  A trip to our favourite Indian restaurant and it is a perfect day.  In the city, that is.  I am sure there is such a thing as a ‘nice day’ in jail, too.  Even Hell must have better days than others.  It’s all relative.  But let’s make no mistake – a day in the forest…ANY day in the forest, is better than a day in the city.  Maybe not ANY day in the city but certainly MOST.

As you can tell,  I am already having trouble adjusting.  It could be the traffic.  It could be me.  I am getting older and that adds up.  I used to drive faster than everyone else by at least ten and usually 20kms an hour.  While talkin’ on my phone.  Now I am 10 kms less than everyone else.  I drive in the slow lane.  It is not so much about ability although I know that I am not as Mario Andretti as I used to be, it is more about pace.  I am the pace car now.  No need to race.  No need to hurry.  ‘Oooh, look!  A squirrel!’

OK.  I am not  that bad.  Not yet.  But you know what I mean.  Still, if there is any one thing about the city that hits you in the face like a fish, it is traffic.  And it started at the Parkesville interchange.  One minute we were toodling along with the occasional car ripping by us and the next, we were in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  And thus it has remained all the way to downtown Vancouver (25 minute wait to get on the Lions Gate bridge. Parking just off Broadway was 2 minutes for a dime – $3.00 an hour for street parking!).

We were doing 100 to 110kms along the Upper Levels cheek-by-jowl with people in shiny new cars.  It was like an auto showroom somewhere just exploded.

Ooooh, look!  A Ferrari!’

I used to relate to traffic.  It was my language.  I was a driver first, a human being second.  I judged people by the cars they drove.  Not in a bad way.  And usually not women or teens.  But a man’s car says something about him.  Even a company car says well, a ‘company man’…I guess.  One of my best friends drives an 80’s era El Camino.  My son drives vehicles of any sort so long as they do not cost more than scrap value – $500.  I know a guy who drives a big black Suburban!  C’mon!  That says something!

We drive a Jed Clampett-san.  An old Nissan Pathfinder.  With (gasp!) rust!  We are the traffic equivalent of lepers in Vancouver.  People judge us.  But, it’s OK.  They are probably right.  ‘Oooh, look!  Hillbillies!’

The next few weeks are gonna be interesting.

 

It would be cheaper and more effective

I confess to a bias.  I am getting a bit paranoid.  Call me crazy.

Despite most ‘thinking’ people pointing out that the gunman Michael Zihaf-Bibeau (MZB) was just a ‘crazy-with-a-gun’ and having that confirmed by his mother and most people who he came in contact with, the government persists in trying to convince the public that he had some kind of Islamic ‘terrorist’ connections.
He did not.
Schizophrenics off their meds sometimes think the devil is talking to them and giving them instructions.  We don’t call that person a worshipper of Satan.  We don’t think of them as an ‘enemy’ of the church.  They aren’t against Christians or Jews or Hindus or Buddhists. They are against everything.  They are nuts.  We call them crazy.
So why is the government making this incident out to be terror related?  Why is the government calling for laws to make arresting people easier?  Why is every statement phrased as if Islamic fundamentalist-based terror is on the verge of breaking out in this country?
Why is our government hate mongering?  
Because that is what it is.  Jim Keegstra said the same sort of nasty things about Jews in the 1980’s and he was convicted of hate crimes (“wilfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group”).  And Keegstra had no credibility, a small audience and little to no influence.  The government is much bigger than Keegstra and they keep speaking anti-Islamic rhetoric.    
The government is making it very hard to be a ‘Muslim in Canada’ regardless of their overall law-abiding behaviours and rejection of self-radicalized crazies who want to align with a mosque. The government may not be as overtly inciting against an identifiable group as Keegstra was but aren’t there almost 1,000,000 law-abiding, contributing Muslim-Canadians who, by inference, are at least more suspect than you or me?   Isn’t that just a state sanctioned hate crime?
Don’t get me wrong.  There is some kind of hate thing going on amongst some Muslims somewhere.  Al Queda and ISIL aren’t nice guys.  But we have some First Nations who are alienated from Canada.  Some Quebecers.  Other ethnicities.  Many of our poor.  And some people alienated from society will identify with such an ‘enemy’ because that is what alienation, isolation and marginalization begets.  So, why focus on the Muslim-wannabes?  
Because we alienated some individuals does NOT mean general society needs more controls, more laws, more restrictions.  Don’t forget: MZB had been arrested previously. And tried and convicted.  We let him go.  MZB likely flew to Ottawa.  He’s been through airports. They didn’t catch him.  The only ones who seem to have had an inkling about MZB was the mosque who correctly labelled him a crazy and kicked him out.  They didn’t have all the police and CSIS and rules and controls.  They simply used common sense.
What am I saying?  I am saying there are enough rules.  There are enough restrictions. There are enough police.  For the general public, anyway.  But there isn’t enough common sense.  The nuts, the crazies and the so-called self-radicalized will not be caught by more restrictions on the public.  They might be caught by mental health programs.  They might be caught by churches.  They might be caught by more social services.  
They will not be caught by cops.  Maybe we should just fuggedabout more SWAT teams and simply contract the job out to Imams in mosques?  “Hey, when some nut comes in spouting hate and wanting to be a Muslim, give us a call, would ya?”  
 

Back to basics

We get our water from the local stream almost half a mile from us.  The water comes down a 1″ plastic pipe and flows through the forest and along a few sea-side cliffs to eventually exit at our place.  We have a cistern which collects the flow and, most of the time the cistern is full. The stream still runs even in late August with a hot summer behind us.  It runs low.  But it runs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinter, of course, is different.  You can (and we do) have frozen pipes sometimes. Usually in the dead of January.  We have broken or kinked pipes, too, when the volume is so great that the flow ‘messes’ with the pipe.  The big rainfall a few days ago was considerable and the stream was engorged to capacity the day after.  It dropped a few trees on itself and it crumpled up the pipe as well as filling the pick-up valve with pine needles.  Not for the first time this year, but for the first time this winter, water stopped flowing downhill and Sal went up to fix it.

That was day one.

Sal hiked up the hill after taking her small boat into the bay and wading ashore.  She climbed the steep, muddy, overgrown trail that skirted the stream and sometimes disappeared into the water for a few yards until she had gained about 120 feet of elevation. She looked into the raging cauldron of water where the little collection pool exists and the pick-up valve sits weighted to the bottom under a few rocks.  The only way to clear the pick-up was to stand on the lowest side of the pool (itself under two feet of extra water at that time) and then kneel down and reach into the pool and pull out the pipe and pick-up for examination.  In this case the exercise would require virtual submersion into a fast flowing stream.  Sal prepared to do that by first taking off the top half of her wet-weather clothing, warm-layer fleece underneath and finally all but her bra.  Standing water proof from the waist down and Amazonian from the waist up, she reached underwater, grabbed the pipe and wrenched it free from the bottom.  Imagine the cold!

After clearing the pipe of needles and replacing it in the pool, she donned her gear and came home.  Sadly, the water still did not not flow.  So, day two saw us heading up together and our neighbours came along to see the set-up and give a hand.

Here’s the deal: it is basically impossible to remain dry regardless of your preparations when working with a stream in full flow and doing so in the wilds on collapsing banks while climbing very steep sides over deadfall and attempting to clear a partially buried pipe.  So, after filling our boots – literally – it was just one big water fest as we all tumbled, stumbled, clawed, crawled and scrambled up and down the stream for a couple of hours looking for the problem.  Average age of the four of us: 66-68.

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But we found two possible sites that proved to be the culprits.  One was a where a deadfall had crushed the pipe and dragged it under water pinching it closed in the process. And the other was a pinch where the flow was so strong at some point that it had folded the pipe back on itself.  We waded in.  We had tools.  We cut out the crimps.  We fixed them with new connectors and we went back down to check out the system where we had some valves installed midway down for that very purpose.  We were successful.  The water was flowing.  And we were heading home.

When we got to the beach, the tide was out and the buffet of oysters was in, so both couples collected dinner before heading for the warmth of our wood stoves.  It was a good day.  A bit wet.  But good..

You should have been there.  .

Harper was in the closet

So, a nearly-certifiable mental drug addict ran into the parliament buildings and committed suicide-by-cop.  Sadly, he felt compelled to take someone with him but (and this is not intended to diminish the memory of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo or the tragedy to his family in any way) so do all of the demented shooters-of-the-public.

The US has had more than their share of gun-toting maniacs over the last forty years.  But we’ve had a few as well (i.e. Marc Lepine) and Norway had a loon of the same feather not long ago. The addled are everywhere. These people are 100% alienated, marginalized, desperate, mentally ill and usually under the influence of something chemical as well. They are dangerous.  They are NOT terrorists.

But you know that.

Today’s headline: CBC – Harper Wants to Make Terror Arrests Easier.   Seems Harper wants to make arrests easier where  he could more logically have said ‘I want to make mental health and community care of the sick and disenfranchised a priority.’  It would have been a more directly related-to-the-facts reaction than suggesting easing of restrictions on arresting people.  And, anyway, what could be easier than shootin’ them dead’?  That lunatic who ran over a soldier with his car, overturned it in a ditch as a result of a high-speed chase with the cops, was simply executed. He was trapped in the car upside down in a ditch.  No gun.  They shot him where he sat.

And that was NOT an isolated case.  Shooting and tasering willy-nilly is often the default reaction of police these days.  See: Sammy Yatim.  See Peter DeGroot,  See Robt. Dziekanski.  Arresting may not be easy but it seems pulling the trigger is getting easier.

Making terror arrests easier is really just saying, ‘Make arresting people easier’.  That means innocent people as well as guilty people.  That means fewer rights and freedoms for Canadians.  That means less proof will be required for arrests.  More jail time.

And that is a giant step towards a police state.

Well, it is really just another giant step.  We’ve taken a few too many already.

But we haven’t objected much, now have we?

The US is intentionally militarizing it’s police forces.  This is a fact.  It is why small towns have SWAT teams and armoured vehicles.  The bulk of it is hand-me-downs from the military.  It is why the police are trained as they are.  It is a conscious decision to focus military might inwards on citizens rather than outwards on foreign invaders.   The Conservative/Republican thinking is (on the surface) that ‘we can’t afford a standing army anymore so let’s combine police and soldier functions so that we have, in effect, a standing army within the civilian population.’  Sort of a logical next-step in the military mind-set after having the Reserves.

That all this serves to create a secondary market for the military industrial complex is just a bonus to the economy.

And Canada is following suit.  They sent a Swat team after Peter deGroot even though his sister offered to go talk him in.  Mr. DeGroot was somewhat marginalized by his health and his vision and his general abilities.  The eliminated him.  And – in case you missed it – there was no charge, no proof of a crime.

While the poor, addled miscreant placed himself in a bulls-eye in the Centre block surrounded by Parliament security armed-to-the-teeth, Stephen Harper hid in a closet.  I don’t blame him.  His security probably made him do it and, let’s face it, the Prime Minister has to be considered a target for anyone making the moves that Michael Zihaf-Bibeau made.  I would have hidden, too.  But after learning the facts of the case, I would not be calling out for more powers to arrest , would I?  I’d be trying to provide more care for the mentally ill and the marginalized, wouldn’t I?

Do you know why I would be such a nice guy instead of a hate mongering, dissembler and power-tripper?  Do you know why I would not think to strengthen over-armed and trigger-happy bullies?  Do you know why I would choose the path of compassion rather than power?

Because the path of repression and oppression doesn’t work.  Even if people don’t openly resist, they resist in their hearts.  It festers inside instead.  It makes us all dangerous and suspicious of one another.  It makes our country worse to live in and more vulnerable to real enemies.  And it divides us.

The only reason civilized people accept government is for reasons of peace and security. Increased Swat-style security is not the way we want that in Canada.  Harper is making yet another series of mistakes and he is tacitly asking our permission to accept them.

How are we going to answer?

 

 

October 22, 2014

Parliament was attacked this morning.  Two dead at this writing.  Not enough information to have much to say, actually, but any blog should acknowledge that event.  It is bad news. Again.

I am writing because I was going to anyway.  But I’ll keep it to off-the-grid stuff.  We had a major gale last night.  Some reports stated 90 kmh gusts in our vicinity.  I doubt that number but, then again, I slept through the whole thing.  Sal claimed that it sounded and felt like all hell was breaking loose.  Even if it was only 60 kmh, it was a test.

I mention this only because we passed the test.  The panels are still standing.  The first thing we do when the wind exceeds the last high wind is to check to see if the array withstood the latest test.  It did.  I am relieved but I know my neighbour would say, “Well, we have had worse than that, so the possibility of catastrophe is still there.”  He’s a ray of sunshine, he is.  If we ever get hit simultaneously by a hurricane and an earthquake and the array collapses, he’ll say, “See.  Ya shoulda had more steel structure!”

He’s right, of course.  With enough of an engineered steel structure, I would be at less risk but, then again, I would not have been able to build it for $300.00.

The ramp on the dock jumped it’s rails last night.  Moved a good four feet south.  The dock must have been a-leaping like lords at Xmas.  So the seas were nasty to be sure but everything was basically OK.

While I was traveling in the boat this morning a huge sea lion reared out of the water right beside me.  Unlike their usual actions, this one came half out of the water and looked at me.  It was like he was standing on a submerged stool.  It was pretty neat to see such a huge animal so close and so high out of the water that his head was higher than than mine!

I picked the doctor up from the community dock for her bi-weekly clinic on the island and the waiting room will be full.  A lot of islanders are grateful NOT to have to travel in the winter.  They still do, of course, but they are happy to minimize their trips to town.

One of the people at the dock laden with groceries said, “Man, I hate town days!”  A recent guest at our house asked me what I disliked about my living out here and the only thing I could think to respond with was, “Man, I hate town days!” Another woman at the ‘other side’ community dock said, “Man I am glad I don’t have to go to town!  It is not an uncommon refrain.  Nobody likes going to town.

Living off the grid, October 22, 2014…….out here, today was just an ordinary day with sea lions, neighbours, wind, rain and doctors making their rounds.  But, in Ottawa, history was being made.

I prefer here.