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.

Bad trip

We got your basic politics, left and right.  War, of course.  That damn Ebola thing.  HK protesters.  Ravens, Orcas and all the other wild things.  We got Sal and me, of course. Fiddich.  Book club is usually good for a post….and it was…for Sal…and, indirectly, me. Very good, thanks to Eileen, actually (good feedback from a beta reader).  And we have the recalcitrant Honda engine that I fixed once but it coughed up another hairball and required a re-do today so that could be woven into a story….but……..

….something else today….

…something sad.  Bad trip.

A 50 year old guy drowned the other day somewhere in the near vicinity.  He was kayaking.  Alone.  We learned about it when the Coastguard flew it’s big Chinook over our heads the other night while it was doing a shore search.  That usually means what it did – someone was lost at sea. Happens.

Happens 2 out of three years and that is just counting around here.  Including the whole coast, I am guessing at maybe a dozen a year?  Hard to say.  Two more died a couple of days later just a few miles away when a barge sank so that is three within hours of each other.  The sea is unforgiving.

The guy I am referring to was NOT someone we knew.  As the Coastguard did their thing that night, his identity wasn’t even known to them and, when we inquired the next morning, everyone acted as if it was ‘confidential’ and none of anyone’s business.  The officials were not forthcoming even when we told them where we lived and that we would go out that day and look.  Their ‘official’ position seemed silly to me.  There are people out here. They should be contacted.  Maybe we could be of assistance………?

Anyway, we went out the next day and covered the same basic area that the Coastguard had during the previous night on the assumption that searching at night from a helicopter 300 feet off the ground was not as good as searching from a small vessel that could bump the shore while moving about in broad daylight.  But we found nothing.

As we were finishing our effort there was a woman on a dock walking towards us.  We were crawling along the last stretch of shoreline.  We stopped.  We spoke.  She was one of his friends.  She described him.  The guy WAS someone we knew, after all!  He was a nice guy and such an avid kayaker that we would often see him when we were out and we had passed a few salutations of greeting and a bit of minor chit chat now and then over the past few years.  We knew him.  He had been out kayaking again.

We knew him enough, anyway.

I am glad we both had the compulsion to go looking for him the next day.  It was obviously not meant to be but it was better that we added our efforts to the search.  We will probably have to do it again some day, I am afraid.  The nature of things makes claims now and again and this time it was a kayaker who loved the nature of things.


Putting lipstick on a pork chop

The title above refers to the Herculean task Sal and I gave ourselves trying to cobble a book together from the just-under 1000 blog entries (3000 pages) of Offthegridliving I had written as of 2012.  There has been that much written again since then – this is yet another page.  It just never ends.

The blog itself was originally conceived as a personal exercise to improve my writing and, while Malcolm Gladwell or Margaret Atwood are in no immediate professional danger, that goal has been at least partially achieved.  Sally says I am no longer an F’ing writer.  She now gives me an E.  Frankly, I am giving myself a heavy D but, with a little more work and an actual story to tell, I am aiming for a non-embarrassing C-. Someday. Maybe.

The book we have been trying to write (about 300 pages) for a couple of years is in it’s third iteration. We have massaged it, culled it, varied it and added to the original stuff. Lots of rearranging, too. Sal has cut, cut, cut, that bloated little piggy. Mostly, sliced, cleaved and butchered, actually.  Hogwash and Pork chops.  Thus the title of the blog.

The book was initially titled North of 50 (referring cleverly to our then age and our latitude) and then Tales From Off The Grid.  Sal likes that one.  I like Urban Couple Goes Feral.  We’re still thinking.

Other titles in the running include: The Making of a Hillbilly?  Musings From the Margins?  Off the Grid and Out of Our Minds  To Hell With Safety? Longevity is for Sissies?  Who Needs Hospitals?

Anyway, maybe we are at an even later version than third as we seem to continually chip away at it. It never really does end.  Hmmm…. The Never Ending Story?

Now that I know better, I wouldn’t do it this way again.  I wrote the blog and then, in a fit of writer’s parsimony, expressed a desire to re-use all those ‘existing’ words in some kind of different way…like a book!  “Waddya say, Sal?  Wanna edit a book?”

After a year, Sal had what she thought might be a book.  It wasn’t.  But good ol’ Sal kept at it and eventually produced something less-than-really-horrible.  Out it went to a couple of beta readers.  Friends in the field, people of letters, voracious readers, that sort of thing.  And we waited.  Got very few comments back and they were like warm milk turning sour.  “Well, you’ve got some great raw material there, really raw.  Good luck.”   “Geez, I laughed at Guido.  Was that in your book?  Gotta go”. “Oh, the book? Yeah.  Been so busy, ya know?  Hard to find the time.  Unh, you can still do mediations, right?”

And the lesson learned?  Well, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  We should have remembered that.  You can’t even make any kind of purse out of a sow’s ear, really. And, truth be told, you can’t even make a sow’s ear out of a sow’s ear because for it to be any good, it should have stayed on the poor ol’ sow in the first place.  We tried to put lipstick on an already butchered and refrigerated display-case pork chop.

So, the lesson: When presented with a pig, make pork chops not purses and, for God’s sake, don’t put lipstick or a hard or soft cover on it.

And don’t ever say this blog is not educational.

A little apocalypse for your entertainment

So….you are watching TV………………and they tell you on the news that several people at the nearest hospital to you are suspected of having contracted Ebola.  None of them are from Liberia.  All of them are from your own community.  What do you do?  What can you do?

Do you go about your business content in the knowledge that ‘the professionals’ have it well in hand? (If you think that, please take the time to read up on the Texas hospital’s efforts-to-date with handling Ebola and the subsequent actions of the CDC).

Or do you go about your business but take extraordinary precautions like face-masks and Chlorine spray bottles? (considerably more effective than relying on ‘our professionals’ but even more subject to Murphy’s rules).

Or do you immediately go to the local SuperMart and load up on food and crap so as to be able to ‘ride out’ a 30 day quarantine?  Do you suggest that all family members stay home for a while (and to Hell with school and work!).  Do you cancel social gatherings?

I don’t know either.  I have no idea.  At what point does fear of – or worse – evidence of catastrophic threat make you alter your life?  We have not really thought this one out, either.  But some folks have and they posted You-tubes about various forms of End-of-Days.

Hard to believe people actually film themselves being so stupid.  I have been that stupid many times but didn’t have the foresight to set up a camera first so maybe that makes me stupider?

Last night – while Sal was quilting – she suggested that we watch some You-tubes because ‘we haven’t watched many of them and we should at least see what they have to offer.’ The first titles we saw listed on the right hand side menu were all about DOOMSDAY PREPPING.  Somehow that seemed apt for the times.  Even seemed somewhat apt for us. We laughed at ourselves.  And turned one on.

That first YT called Doomsday Preppers was pretty ridiculous.  Two guys were featured. One was focused on making an assault ATV and tire dis-ablers so that he could catch bad guys on his property and, presumably, blow them away with his more-than-adequate arsenal.  His feature should have been titled Mad Max Wannabe. What a nut!

But the other guy was even stupider.  He figured that he and his family may have to run and hide and, for reasons unfathomable to me, his front door was not likely to work when he really needed it to so he built an underground tunnel from his bedroom to where his ‘bug-out’ vehicle was parked.  Not counting the incredible expense (better put elsewhere), it actually delayed him and his family from getting to the escape vehicle. Parking it in the front driveway would have been much better.

That YT video was just funny and entertaining in a stupid kind of way.

It was the next You-Tube that kinda shocked me.  It was a ‘sponsored’ excerpt presumably from the National Geographic Channel and it portrayed what would likely happen to a family in LA when a killer disease ravaged the country.  And it was (in my opinion) somewhat (at times) more realistic.  Well, more so than the first two at least.

We actually now HAVE a killer disease to apply this scenario to, anyway.

The biggest point made in the NATGEO excerpt: most people would stay home and watch it all unfold on TV (the story line posited several weeks of watching TV for the subjects being filmed) until forced to take some action at which point it would be way, way too late.

What shocked me equally as much was that so many people were presumably thinking this way that the so-called ‘entertainment’ industry would invest in such a bizarre ‘DOOMSDAY’ show production.  Just how many paranoid preppers are there out there, anyway?

I know, I know, it is not the accuracy of the content so much as the sheer ‘goofiness’ of the characters involved that probably prompted the industry to do shows like these. Like all so-called reality shows, it is the unreality of the characters (and how they think) that makes them interesting.

Having said that, it is not just a little weird and coincidental that we now have the specter of Ebola to consider while watching such nonsense.  For me, it is the juxtaposition of the goofy with reality and timing that prompted this blog.

Could the nut-bars be right? (NOT the guys with tunnels and arsenals).  I mean…..think about it……Ebola came to Texas and the nurses attending the patient that died contracted the disease.  That’s scary in itself.  But, worse than that, the hospital mishandled just about everything they could and the Center for Disease Control even cleared one of the nurses for travel to Cleveland on the basis that ‘she was properly outfitted’ during the time of her shifts.

Makes some sense, I suppose……unless you are wrong or she made a mistake…….then such a ‘protocol’ just made the problem exponentially worse.

Doesn’t seem like an abundance of caution was the operating policy.

I guess what I am saying is this: Murphy rules.  In all things.  And Murphy rules absolutely and quickly with pandemics.  If something CAN go wrong, it WILL go wrong.

And it has.

So, ‘……they tell you that several people at the nearest hospital to you are suspected of having contracted Ebola.  None of them are from Liberia.  All are from your own community. What do you do?  What can you do?’

Suggestion: do not watch it unfold on TV.

Perspective: We first heard about the Liberian Ebola patient in Texas on or about September 30.  I wrote about it on October 5th.  It is now October 16th. Approximately two weeks and a bit since this disease became publicly known two new cases have been found and one of them had done some traveling within N. America.  By airplane.  With airports.  In just two weeks Murphy has proved his mettle.  Please, my friends….I am not suggesting anything…….except: watch this one closely.  And don’t just watch for too long.

“Dave!  Are you suggesting we all head for the hills?”  

Of course not.  In fact, I am heading for the city myself (ready to turn around at a moments notice, however).  I am just saying; ‘think about it.  Watch it.  And don’t be caught flat-footed if the unthinkable happens because the unthinkable only happens when you don’t think’.

DISCLAIMER:  WORDPRESS does not endorse the opinions of the author.  Nor does his wife or friends.  They think the author is a nut.  The author isn’t sure, either.  The jury is still out.   

Dinner conversation

We had a dinner party at Thanksgiving and it was good.  During the inevitable conversation, I asked if anyone was noticing any trends.  “Waddya mean?”

Well, we all naturally see trends, patterns and exceptions.  We may or may not see them accurately but we try to find patterns in things.  It is natural.  Scientists call it inferential scanning.  We look.  We see.  We accumulate information.  And then, when we have enough to work with, we try to order it.  It is all done without thinking consciously.  We just do it.

It is likely a prehistoric survival trait: “What is different here?”   Even our dog alerts us to anything that is ‘out of the ordinary’.  If we leave a tool out on the ground and he didn’t see us do it, he will bark at it the next day.“Hey, Dave! Hey Sal.  Something is different here.  Come look.”  It is a form of pattern recognition. In effect, he is inferentially scanning to make sure things are all well and as they should be.

We all scan for thousands of things every day.  If I ask you, ‘what do you think is the most common colour of a typical four-door sedan you would likely answer, “I have no idea.”  But, if I asked you to ‘take a guess’, you would roll your eyes a bit and think a bit about nothing in particular and say some colour that jumped out for you.  That is inferential scanning.  You would KNOW that metallic burgundy is NOT the most common colour.  Nor would it be lemon yellow or orange.  You would quickly consider black, white, silver and so on and then choose an answer primarily to get me to stop bugging you.

But you’d have one.  And, if someone else piped up, “I think it is metallic burgundy”, you’d even argue the point.

The interesting thing about inferential scanning is that we do it for everything.  We do it for car colours, house colours, prices for eggs and cheese, the most common dog, hair styles, shoes, counter-tops and so on.  Some people see trends faster than others but we all get it eventually.

It is also the way common idioms take off, eh?

So, what are you seeing these days?

“Unh….jeez….I dunno……like, ya mean what colour is my car?  What trends do you see?”

Well, like everyone, I see political trends like more and more violent splinter groups. I see protests like Occupy and Idle No More and the Hong Kong Umbrella protest.  I see more draconian government.  I see more use of smartphones.  More social media.  But that is all common stuff.  I think if I am looking harder, I might suggest that we are looking at a growing dissatisfaction with our institutions like education and health as well as police and government. Hell, we don’t even vote!  But most of all I see a trend towards inequality and I don’t think that inequality is just defined in economic terms.  I think our social structure is fracturing along many separate lines.

I guess I think I am seeing a trend toward anarchy.  I guess I am seeing more force and that means more resistance.  The more force we use to homogenize, the more resistance is encountered.  People are quietly resisting……

“Quietly resisting what?”

I don’t know.  My scanners are not clear.  I just see and feel a quiet but growing buildup of resistance to the status quo…ya know…?

“No.  No idea what you are talking about.  Pass the cranberry sauce.”  

PS: “White especially has been a constant top runner since really 1998,” says Nancy Lockhart, DuPont color marketing manager. “Silver had its reign from 2001 to 2006 as being the leading color and now black has come up as being the leading color in certain segments, especially luxury.”   

Tipsy with power

“Lovely day for hauling logs, eh?”

“OK.  Let us get the sea weed up, too.”  

And so it was that Saturday became log hauling day.  That is when we bring up the chopped-to-length logs from the beach to the 75 foot level of our property so as to process them into firewood for the coming seasons.  Today we hauled up nine sections. Plus ten buckets of garden sea weed. We are putting in next years compost and year 3’s firewood.  It is good to be out ahead of the chores especially when you are dealing with big logs on high lines and flinging them around like they were pillows.

“The winch won’t start!”

“Never mind, I’ll get my tools.  We’ll fix it.”

And we did.  Bit of a spark plug problem.  Bit of a gasoline-gone-stale problem.  Twenty minutes later, we were lumberjacks again.  Some parts of the high-line had also started to vibrate loose so, between logs, I tightened bolts, re-aligned the cable and re-tightened shackles.  All done matter-of-factly.

Anyone watching would think we knew what we were doing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the really surprising thing is that we almost do!  Of course, we DO NOT know all that needs knowing but we have managed to learn enough to get past most of the common challenges that are inflicted upon the off-the-grid newbie in the first five years or so.  And there are a myriad of them from reluctant outboards to wiring in new outbuildings, from plumbing to solar arrays.  What used to send a chill down my spine and a tremble in my heart is now, ‘ho hum‘, part of the deal, no biggie.

I can’t describe how good it feels NOT have a slight panic rise in your throat when, a few years ago, it would have.  We are starting to gain some confidence.

Sal’s default position is, of course, always confident and happy. She does not know fear, self-doubt or possess much common sense, really.  It’s bliss.  “What?  Go hunting and kill and butcher a deer?  Why not?  Which end of the gun is this? Point me in the right direction. What kind of wine goes well with venison?”  

My default position?  Disproportionate responsibility, culpability, potential embarrassment and fear of possible dismemberment.  Blood-letting to be sure.  Maybe a lawsuit to follow. Summed up?  “Now what!?” (complete with the appropriate tone). I tend to think that engines will blow up, pipes will burst and electricity will kill me in the end. I still think it a minor miracle that the outboard starts and that we have hot showers. I don’t forget the past easily.  If those things don’t get me, something else will but it might be so quick I might not notice. Like a cougar.  Or a tree falling when I am not looking.  Or,if it isn’t instant death it will be worse than that – it will cost me a lot of money to fix. I hate that.

Or, just as bad, I may have to deal with people-in-power (am getting real close to preferring instant death over people-in-power).

But today was good.  Calm.  No panic attacks.  I have come a long way, baby.  A long way.

Anyway, today we were the people in power and we had our way with those logs and that seaweed. Power put to good use.  It’s intoxicating, it really is.

Ash Thursday

My father died July 11, 1998.  He was 76.  We held a service for him then and he was cremated.

John D. Cox

A few weeks later, the funeral home contacted me to give me his ashes.  I took them in a black, shiny box and have had them ever since.  Put them in the book case.  I didn’t really know what else to do with them.

Today would have been his 92nd birthday.  Now, it seems, is as good a time as any to disperse those ashes.  He would have liked it here.  He loved a great view and this place has that in spades.

He also loved dogs.  And our Megan died February 7th of this year and we have had her ashes here as well.  Now seems as good a time as any to disperse her ashes.  And it seems OK to do them together.  So, we will.DSC00604

The next time you look at the blog picture of the house on the point, know that there are two old dogs roaming there as well as the three of us.

back to being a bit off

Apologies for the previous blog-rants.  I couldn’t help myself.  But I’ll try to get back to the forest for you………..

Fall has fallen.  Hallowe’en is just around the corner.  Time to clean up and put things away for the winter.  So we are doing that, putting on covers, tying things down, topping up tanks and making sure that things are ship shape. Which brings me to the ship….

Wasabi is a 17′ puke-green 70’s era Campion runabout with a rotten floor and a less-than-perfect derriere. But Wasabi is still pretty neat.  It has a walk-thru windshield which, it turns out, is remarkably useful when disembarking onto rocks and beaches rather than docks.  And it is easily driven and just about the perfect size for our needs.  I like this little boat.

But I didn’t like the seats when I first found it.  They were rotten, torn, soft and ugly (mind you, ‘ugly’ is the main decorative theme for Wasabi, so they fit in a repulsive-themed kind of way).  I tore them out and used the little rotten, torn, soft seats from the back of the boat on the theory that smaller amounts of ugly was, in some way, an aesthetic improvement.  It was.  And it gave us a bit more needed floor space for the ubiquitous totes we use for just about everything.

One of Wasabi's old seats

One of Wasabi’s old seats

But rotten was the operative word and the seats were on the verge of collapsing so I decided – in a minor blip of energy – to build new seats.  On our last town day, we picked up a couple of yards of upholstery vinyl and we salvaged the foam from the old seats.  And yesterday we built new seats.  New plywood.  New vinyl.  Old foam.

Putting these seats on a rotting floor is no easy task.  But I’ll find a way.  The alternative is to rebuild the floor and I don’t intend to do that until I eventually step hard enough to plunge through it.  “If it ain’t broke, wait till it is!”  


New Seat!

New Seat!

That’s a bit silly, of course but, honestly, I have enough to do. The floor can wait until it can’t.  Then I’ll fix it.

On the solar front, we are pretty good.  Lots of overcast days necessitated a single, two-hour genset experience but, for the most part, we are still running full-tilt on solar power.  One thing is clear: we have severely cut back our fuel use.

It is NOT like us to be so unproductive and Sal, despite her lingering cold, is trying to get us back in to gear.  I am resisting passively.  “I am sitting down in solidarity with the Hong Kong student protests! And you are acting like the totalitarian despots in the Central Committee!”  

“I would spray you with water cannons and pepper spray in a minute, you foreign devil!”

“So, in the spirit of the Chinese, what do you say we stop for tea and then compromise on something that allows us both to save face?”

“OK.  But then we get back to our work, Yao?”


So, we have colds….

…hardly blog worthy but so, so unusual for us.  We have been up here for ten years and, not counting the somewhat frequent brushes with death by machines, blunt trauma and myriad other weird, wilderness-related accidents, we have been healthy.  Disease free.  We managed to dodge all the flues and colds that make the usual rounds. Isolation will do that for you.  No people, no disease.

But we haven’t had a visitor in a month and yet we have classic back-to-school colds!?

Of course, we have encountered some people during that time and it was just last week we went to town on a shopping day so it is easily explainable but usually we can handle the occasional immersion in the germ pool without succumbing.  Not this time.  This back-to-school cold got us and is having it’s way with us like a kitten with a ball of yarn.

I mention this only because we also have an increased disease awareness these days. Ebola has a way of getting your attention, ya know?  So does Enterovirus 68. Enterovirus 68 is paralyzing only a few kids so far but the disease made it all over North America pretty quickly.  And people travel around the world in droves all day, every day. Even Liberians are traveling!  My point: disease can attack faster than terrorists.

“Geez, Dave!  You afraid of disease now?”

No more than before and, to be frank, NOT very much.  Disease has been an enemy of the species since the dawn of time.  We have been soundly defeated by bugs not just a few times.  They estimate that as many as 100 million people died from the Spanish Flu circa 1918.

The interesting thing about the Spanish Flu was that it covered the globe in an era BEFORE the world was travel mad.  AND there were fewer people in 1918.  The point: something as benign sounding as ‘flu’ can take us out in swathes.  Something like Ebola is much, much more deadly.  Spanish flu had a death rate of about 4 per thousand people. Ebola kills 500 of 1000 people.

“So, what are you saying?”  

Ebola is more important than ISIL/ISIS.  REAL leaders would be way out ahead of this one.

Mind you, for all that, climate change and pollution are more important than ISIL/ISIS and our leaders haven’t done much on that score at all either.

I guess my point is about politicians – why do we call these people leaders?