Sweetness and light

Like Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm, I think it is true that good things happen to those who think and speak and act in a good fashion.  Like tends to beget like.  Call it Karma if you want.  And, I know that it is true that grouchy, negative whiny crap just begets more crappy stuff to whine about.  We can (and do) create our own hell.  So, it is with growing reluctance that I write about what is wrong with everything when I know that such activity only makes it worse.  We really should be writing about how to make it better.

First, we kill all the lawyers.  Then the politicians.  Then we take Manhattan.  Then we take Berlin.  (Leonard Cohen’s plan with more details)

But, after that visceral response, how to actually make it better?  And that is the challenge facing the Green Party. The Green party has, for most of it’s existence, simply cried ‘foul’. They point out what is wrong and even take steps to stop the evil-doers doing their evil but don’t really have a platform of alternative actions to propose so as to do the good work instead of the bad. Admittedly, the Greens propose alternative energy instead of oil but that single plank notwithstanding, the overall plan to do right by the planet is not clear.  The plank to do right by human survival needs (like food) is missing altogether.

And, NO, clamoring to reduce Carbon emissions is NOT constructive.  It is, essentially, just more complaints.  HOW to reduce Carbon emissions is what is needed and charging a carbon tax to permit emitting is NOT a solution.

We (the Greens) don’t have enough solutions.  In effect, we are stuck in the same box as ‘they’ are.  Stepping outside the BIG IDEA that is our modern world to fashion a new one is not all that hard but transitioning that NEW GREAT IDEA is next to impossible.  The days of single game-changers like Marx and Mao are over.  We don’t have BIG thinkers. Nor BIG doers.   Not in economics to be sure.

The closest BIG NEW thinkers in modern economics is Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins and Paul Hawken. They co-wrote Natural Capitalism.  NatCap basically takes the human condition (greed, ambition, fear, need to trade, etc) and channels it into a planet-friendly business model.   And their subject hero was Ray Anderson of Interface Corporation.   He did good. They then dubbed that model one of SUSTAINABILTY.  The word has caught on.  The practice has not.

But it will.  Sustainabilty is achievable.  It is realistic.  It blends or transitions from what has come to be known as normal Capitalism to something better and we are already underway on a micro-nano-scale.  But it is piecemeal.  People who live off the grid are examples, albeit not great ones.  The 100-mile diet is an example.  Buying local is an example.  Our general trend to reject the biggest of institutions and their spokes-models is an example. And we can do so much more.

Bottom line: I am Rebecca-ish.  I am optimistic.  And I am attempting to be the change I want to see (while I still do the things I want changed out of convenience more often than I should).  And I can see improvements all the time.  But I do not see leadership.  All the so-called leaders are on the dark side, Luke.

We need some good leaders.

Just for clarity….

….I am NOT in support of any kind of political or religious terrorists.  I fear and loathe them like everyone else.  Who doesn’t fear the zealot and the fanatic?  Or the really, really, truly, stupid? 

The difference is that I do not see them in every shadow, every nook and every cranny of every day life.  They are NOT everywhere.  It was NOT a terrorist who recently went berserk at the parliament buildings. Or in New Brunswick.  Or even at any of the myriad ‘nut-shoots-co-workers-wife-and-self’ scenes that we seem to read about every day. Those people are just plain nuts and it sometimes turns out violently for them and those around them.  But they are motivated by something other than religion or politics.

I suppose there are a few real crazies who also latch on to something, like religion or misogyny or political fervor but nuttiness came first. Nuttiness came second and third, too.

In Sidney, Australia, the black ISIL flag was likely more of a symbol, not a cause.

Concept:   There is a difference between a causal relationship and a co-relationship. Stealing shopping carts is not the cause of homelessness. One causes something to happen and the other is just along for the ride. 

The cause of such horrible scenes as Ottawa, Sidney and Boston (just to name a few) 99.99999% of the time is isolation, marginalization, rejection and your basic brain chemical imbalances. The flag or the name of Allah is just along for the ride.  Put another way: if a murderer has ‘Mom’ or ‘Harley Davidson’ tattooed on his arm, was his mom or his motorcycle the motivating cause for the murder?

The actual ISIL members are a different kettle of stinky, rotten fish.  I admit that. They are clearly motivated by something quite primal – probably the aforementioned fanatical interpretation of right and wrong generated by their society combined with ambition, brainwashing, misogyny, testosterone, money and politics as well as a healthy dollop of overall nuttiness but the poor, dirty, lonely dickhead living at a Toronto shelter and mumbling to himself is in a different league of madness altogether.

And some of those sad, crazy people live in Sidney, Australia.

Let us not confuse the two.  More importantly: let not our government and media purposefully and manipulatively confuse us!

 

Free advice is worth nothing

Things cost.  We all know that.  Used, surplus or scratched and dented things cost considerably less – we all know that, too.  And, as the world accumulates more and more ‘stuff’, that which is actually free-for-the-taking also seems to increase.  In fact, there is a category for free stuff on Craigslist.  We advertise free stuff!

It is a surprisingly large category when you think about it.

I remember a time when there was retail, discount, wholesale, liquidation and second-hand.  There was no ‘free’.  If anything was deemed of lower value than second hand, it was a hand-me-down or a donation to a charity.  Admittedly hand-me-downs and ‘donations’ are free (even if the Salvation Army added a small price tag to it in their shops). So free has been with us for a long time.

But not like today.

Today we have free stores, garage sales, dumpsters, and ‘curbside’ spring cleaning offerings to add to the thrift stores, Sally Anne’s, flea markets and rummage sales. Today ‘free’ is a big enough component in the world of STUFF to warrant a big box store if not a mall. If you step back and look at the free or almost-free stuff out there, it is a wonder why anyone buys anything at all!

OK.  I buy stuff.  I admit that.  And I do so because I WANT that stuff.  Just like everyone who buys.  But I have to admit that, if one was simply to ‘watch’  and ‘wait’, just about everything comes up for free.

Exception: land.  REAL estate is real and is never free (nor, because of taxes, is it ever truly owned except by government).

I have seen running vehicles for free on Craigslist.  I was just offered (and took) a free motorcycle.  It needs work, of course.  It is not pretty.  And, because it had new tires and a lot of new stuff, I gave the guy some money ($150) anyway, but, if I had wanted to, I could have rolled it away as a free (that was his offer) motorcycle.  This bike was a newer, better bike than I saved up for for months when I was 16!!

But the biggest ‘bargain’ in free stuff is building supplies.  OMG, there are literally tons of free windows, doors, bricks, steel, wood, working appliances and other ‘valuable’ stuff (when you need it) out there.

I have no idea, really, what all this means.  Maybe it is just a recognition that ‘stuff’ is cheaper or doesn’t last or that people can’t affect simple repairs so a lot of valuable stuff is simply chucked when a pair of pliers and a fuse would have put it right.  Maybe the cost of storage is what is doing it (storage requires land).  I honestly don’t know.

But I do know this: if I had known all this when I was younger, I would have collected good junk over enough years to be able to build my own good-looking cabin without having to pay much at all.  I am convinced that, even at my advanced years, I could gather enough ‘stuff’ over the next year to build a small cabin for free including furniture and appliances.

And therein lies the ironic point.  Most people work for twenty years or more to pay off a mortgage for a home that, not counting the land (which they can never own), could have been done for free in less time.

I know that is an over-simplification (you still need to have the skills and a bit of money to fill in the small gaps) but you know what I mean.   Advice to young people: go buy a small acreage in a beautiful country setting for a song, throw on a storage shed or two and accumulate free building materials.  When you are 40-50, start building with them. 

Invisible controls and stupid restraints – NOT duty of care

This is not a put-down.  Not of the people involved, anyway.  They are are victims, really. They are victims of over-regulated behaviour and victims of their own mindset.

Dateline: Yesterday on the west coast.  The story: rain, rain and more rain.  The personalized stories to get our attention featured people who were deemed really hard hit and victimized by the weather. Tragedy was inferred.  Disaster implied.  Helplessness featured.  First case on the news: a woman in San Francisco suffered a power blackout and so her garage door wouldn’t open and she was trapped.  Couldn’t go shopping.  Oh, dear!

Case#2: In Lions bay on the Sea to Sky highway, the village water system was destroyed by a mudslide.  Everyone’s water system was shut down.  It went dry.  Clean water poured down the middle of the village along the man-made stream bed but, of course, no one could possibly get water from the stream!  The news showed a resident with boxes of bottled water.  “Bought all I could carry in my SUV!”  Best news for the residents: “We do not plan on evacuating people from their homes just yet!”

Courtenay was flooded and a street of stores was closed off.  Really big puddles.  The biggest disaster for the store owners was that the stores were not allowed to re-open because the ‘authorities’ did not deem the road safe anymore even when the waters had receded.  A dozen or so firemen and RCMP patrolled the puddles for the better part of an extra day. Big, burly armed and uniformed guys guarded the really big puddles from foolish waders. Store owners fumed.

You know what I am saying, right?  This is tort law used as a cudgel.  This is ignorance and helplessness in the general population.  This is stupid stuff.

And, since when have the authorities had carte blanche decision-making over a person residing in their own home?  Or their store? That kind of thing has gotten way out of hand. Remember that town in Alberta, High River?  Residents were evacuated and the police went into their homes and confiscated any guns they found?

I remember when Mt. St Helen’s erupted and some people chose to stay in harm’s way and they were allowed to do so.  That turned out ot be a bad decision for some of them but it was (or should be) the right of a sane person in a free country.  No?

I have also read of people surviving drought and dehydration by (gasp) drinking from rivers and streams.  Hell, we do that everyday!  So, why can’t people use water from rivers anymore?  Maybe you drink bottled water to be safe but a lot of water doesn’t have to be proven potable before being put to good use.

My point is simple: too many people are so dependent on the ‘grid’ systems, directions from authorities and their ‘conveniences’, they are paralyzed when there’s a glitch. Of course a system going down is inconvenient and, maybe for a few, a disaster but the vast majority of the people should not be rendered helpless because their garage door doesn’t work!

For the record: Sal would get out her tools and dismantle the door.

Worse, of course, is that we put ourselves in position to be made helpless even if we are generally capable.  Those trapped on Skytrain when the system went down last year pried open the doors and jumped down on to reportedly ‘live’ tracks.  No one was hurt but those folks were literally trapped between a stopped rock and a shocking place.  The same seems to hold for me whenever I get trapped in traffic.  Waddya gonna do?  Walk away from your car?  In other words, our systems – when we rely on them with total faith – inevitably fail and thus put us in vulnerable places.  The more systems you are reliant on, the more vulnerable you are.

And airports are major delays just waiting to happen.  And happen they do.  Putting your self in harm’s way is the very definition of going through an airport and getting on an airplane.  Must be – look at the security!  I refuse to fly anymore – for many reasons – but the main one is that I have no control over anything.  I feel like just one of many cattle being led to an abattoir under the direction of those %$#!*& authorities.

Living OTG is not just about getting out from the boring and unfulfilling, it is not just about learning and growing and wonder.  It is really about more independence and freedom in a world increasingly invading your private space and personal actions.  Living OTG is unquestionably freer and freeing of the body, the soul and the mind.  Part of that is the nature of the lifestyle but the biggest part these days is the difference between living OTG and existing in the city.

Living OTG is feeling increasingly like being an outlaw in a land chock-full of stupid laws.

 

Doors 1, 2 and 3

This blog is silly-Dave, psuedo-academic and will take a paragraph or two to get to the point.  Sorry.

They say that Psychology is the study of human behaviour by looking from the inside of the subject and Economics is the same study by looking from the outside.  Frankly, I think they have it all wrong (is that a surprise?).

Firstly, neither Psychology nor Economics is a science.  They are, to quote someone-whose-name-I-forgot, just big conversations that use jargon and construct words to make it complicated.  Reason: there are no real metrics, it is mostly guesswork and those involved in the guessing want to get paid.

Economists seem to think that money is a metric but it ain’t.  It is a partial metric at best. Money, as a way to measure, is like trying to do geography armed only with inches as your measuring device.  It can only go so far.  And when you corrupt money (or inches) by inflating it (see quantitative easing) then even the metrics change relationship to the things they are measuring.  A dollar is no longer a dollar and a dime, nickel and penny have ceased to mean anything much these days.  Money is really the NON metric. Maybe more fairly: it is the ever-changing metric that others keep changing behind your back.

Bluntly speaking: the rules of the game (economics) keep changing.   Economists know this but what are they going to do?  Admit that they know nothing and thus terminate their employment?

Basically human behaviour changes anyway.  It is natural.  It is what we do.  When a geneticist looks at it, he/she calls it evolution.  When an archaeologist comments they call it adaptation. Spiritualists call it growth.  Sociologists call it trends and popularists call it fashion.  The only real commonality they all share is observation and most of that is in hindsight.  The so-called science of human behaviour is always derived from looking at the past.  Only futurists seem to orient to the future and they have always been perceived as the fringe weirdos and not worthy of the title of scientist.

Economists?  They are focused on only a few concepts that they can’t even define.  Not even at the simplest of levels like supply and demand and inflation.  By the time the crooks invented credit default swaps even the economists admitted they didn’t understand them. And, seriously?  Economists are blinded by their own metrics.  They measure gross domestic product, of all things.  They do not even measure what environmentalists call the ‘externalities’ – what the rest of us call the ‘planet’.

Bhutan, at least, measures gross domestic happiness.

Orwell might have been the lone exception.  But only in a general sense.  And let us be clear: Orwell was a journalist, not an economist.  He was a watcher.  He was one of us. And he wrote in simple metaphors not ‘industry’ jargon.  One of the most useful commentators of the human condition had little to no formal education forcing him to first learn restrictive and obfuscating language. He was plain spoken.  Orwell had the potential to write the truth and, it seems lately, he came damn close.

And here comes the point: the experts are usually wrong.  Basic rule of thumb: the more complicated the language they use the more wrong they are.  Even when they are right, they are right after the fact. To evolve and grow and advance and survive as a human being, almost by definition, you can’t rely on what the experts have to say.  If they are not confused, they are lying.  If they are not lying, they are simply reporting on what has already happened.

You have to do it yourself.  You have to see the world as it is and you have to try to see where it is heading. Even though history is a good predictor of the future, it is not the metrics of history that is of any use, it is the general human and cultural behaviours that may give you a few hints.  And you can see those as well as anyone.

“Like what?”

I dunno.  I am no Orwell.  And I am no longer hip.  But, if I had to guess, I would guess that the monetary system is verging on radical change.  So is politics.  And I am quasi predicting that simply because they are systems that don’t seem to be working very well. They are broken.  We have lost faith in them.  And, again, make no mistake: all our systems are simply large social agreements that require our faith, our confidence, our full participation and our acceptance to work at all. When people ‘check out’ of those agreements, the systems fail and radical change fills the void.

And – here’s the second point – I think I observe people checking out of systems.  Many no longer vote.  Education is increasingly exclusive and worse, increasingly irrelevant. The economy is even more divided into the rich and poor.  We don’t trust the police or the justice system to do the right thing.  And the justice system is priced out of reach for most people.  Health care is also too expensive for many and alternative medicine is gaining popularity.  The list just goes on and on.

Throw in climate change, the radical jihadists, the rogue states, the third world, the marginalized, the alienated, the unemployed and the hugely unhappy and you have all the ingredients for a massive cauldron of change.

“So, why hasn’t it happened already?”

I don’t know.  Three answers come to mind: 1.  It is happening and, except for climate change, I can’t see it. 2. It is not happening now but will soon. 3. What we consider the status quo is, in fact, a constant state of change.  Most people will opt for #3.  But that may be denial.  I think it is #1 and so I am watching closely.

 

Rejected!

Received our first rejection slip this morning.  In publishing, that is.

I am no stranger to other kinds of rejection, of course, but literary rejection is different than personal, romantic, employment, school, team and familial rejection.  Publishing rejection is so impersonal. “We don’t like you or what you have to say!”  It hurts, but somehow it is NOT personal.

Hmmmm……it is a bit like asking a pretty but disinterested girl to dance when you are 18.  She doesn’t even look up as she barks out her epithet to “F-off!”  After awhile, there are no more tears.  It is just the way it is. Yeah!  That is what rejection slips are like.   Exactly.

Mind you, we submitted first to the LBGT press and then added the Q to the second entry. Our seventh submission was to the LGBTTTQQIAA press and so we still have a chance in that nothing-wrong-with-that publishing sector.  We have high hopes for that one.  We belong there.

We would have submitted to Penguin, Harper-Collins, Mother Earth News, Oprah, Harlequin and Time-Warner but we think we are too cutting edge for those mainstream publishers.  Too avant-garde.  Too hip.  They just wouldn’t get it.

Seriously?  We’re going to eventually end up with Vanity Press.  Have to.  We know that. And there is nothing wrong with that.  My only regret?  Sal edited all the kinky stuff out of Tales From Off the Grid.  We might have had a chance with LGBGTQRSTUV otherwise (S stands for ‘seniors’.  Can’t tell you what the ‘U’ stands for!).

Getting rich by writing

The book, it seems, is done.  Tales From Off the Grid.  Sal has sent it off to the publishers even though every pass at editing – including the last few over the past week – resulted in even more changes, mistakes found and gaping holes revealed.  We are just not very good at this writing thing.

What are the chances the publishers will love it?  Answer: we are really planning on self-publishing and, even at that, keeping to an e-format.  Excuse: to save trees, of course!

I say ‘we’ because, even though I wrote it, Sal worked it and worked it and worked it. Honestly, it is like I chopped down the tree and Sal built the house.  Still, it is my name on the cover.  She’ll accept only acknowledgments (and has also been expressing relief lately that her last name is different than mine).  Make no mistake – Sal doesn’t WANT her name on the cover.  THAT should tell you how good she thinks it is.

Two hundred and ninety two pages culled from 1500 rough, ragged pages of disconnected blah, blah blog.  Three thousand if you counted all of them but the book is taken from the first part of what we fully expect to be a series.  Chronicles, maybe.  A trilogy at the very least. Tales From Off the Grid is the prequel to: Lord of The Decks.

But it is not easy.  Building a book from a blog is like making handbags from pig’s ears. NOT easy in any kind of literate way, anyway.  Maybe impossible.  I would certainly advise any aspiring writer to start afresh rather than try to make something out of something else.  Maybe learn some grammar first.  Take a course.  It was like a mechanically challenged old dork and his wife trying to build a tractor from a pile of old cars.  What we eventually ended up with starts and runs but does it do the job?

Hmmmm…….that gives me an idea for the next project……… 

Of course, we are way too close to the blog-book to really know but I know ugly when I see it and I know amateur when it read it.  Having said that, even Steinbeck had to start somewhere, right?  No one wrote like Hemingway from the get-go.  Give it time.  With all her efforts on this, I fully expect Sal to get better.

Me?  I have a welder and methinks I am better off melting steel than writing.  I’ll still do it, of course, but like my welding, I don’t expect it to ever get good enough to stick together or look good.

We’ve decided to price the hard-cover, coffee-table version of the book at $795.00 a copy. In that way we can always claim – if we don’t sell out the initial run –  that it was just too far ahead of it’s time or we missed the market or it was mis-priced by the marketing department.  Or something.  We may discount it later but we want the initial demand to make us rich.  You know, right after the appearance on Oprah?

E-copy version?  Under $5.00.

And it is that kind of logic that has us in this OTG position in the first place so we are simply living our reality.  It’s a plan, anyway.  Aside from this self-deprecating effort at promoting the book, what could possibly go wrong?

I live where the cities should be

As regular readers know (all 6 of you), I have branched out recently to vent, rant and comment on what I see as colossal social urban and cultural malaise or dysfunction in well, just about everything. I have even alluded to a personal tendency towards conspiracy theories.

There is the distinct possibility that I may be getting weird.

That’s kinda good for my spleen and other internal systems feeling choked and stressed (probably caused just by having to drive so much in city traffic these days) but it is not overly interesting in the long run nor is it particularly helpful to others.  I can’t really apologize (and still be honest about it) but, once again, I am going to try to put some limits on it. I am going back to OTG issues.

OTG living is about independence, nature and skill building. If you have a partner, it is also about personal relationships and, if you have any kind of community, it also emphasizes traditional relationships with neighbours and any people nearby.  And therein lies the first irony – people are the real grid.  More people = less off-the-grid.

A few hundred years ago some independent, skilled and adventurous people struck out to live in an OTG kind of way in the new world.  They came from Europe’s cities. They went forth in North America and found fertile soil and clean water and, perhaps, fruitful forests from which to carve out an existence.  They were OTG but they went for the easiest-to-homestead places first.  And that observation was not lost on others.  Pretty soon our OTG forefathers had neighbours and then they had villages and eventually cities evolved. In other words: where the cities are is where the best OTG places are (or were).

Almost by definition, living OTG today is usually far away from the cities and the best climates, soils and conditions to serve the lifestyle.  At least in any popular way.  Living OTG in the 1700’s was simply a precursor to future population density.  Living OTG today is almost guaranteed to remain that way.

Look at our place.  And the places around us (say, 100 square miles).  There is precious little arable soil.  There is likely more than enough for us and maybe twice as many of us but, after that number is reached, there is simply not enough arable soil.  No one can farm. They grow gardens but they don’t farm.  Or ranch.

Nor is the climate ideal.  The Gulf Islands of BC are notoriously lacking in fresh water. The islands get plenty of rain but the topography and the rocky nature of the geography is such that not a lot is retained.  The summertime is often dry on the Gulf Islands and, of course, summertime is growing season.

There are some areas of the Gulf Islands that are exceptions but they are no longer OTG and are highly valued.  Bottom line: the best conditions for living OTG are found in the lower Fraser Valley. Vancouver.  And we have high-rises and high density there now.

This observation is not just mine.  The Agricultural Land Reserve, an august body created by the NDP in the 70’s, was intended to preserve as much arable soil as possible in an area that was rapidly being paved over.   So, the double irony is that the ideal living condition seems to generate growth to the extent that what made it ideal is destroyed by the people moving there.  Simply put: they paved paradise and put in a parking lot!

“So, what are you saying, Dave?”

I am saying that OTG living is not easy for a number of reasons but, if you go back to the original OTG’ers, they would never have picked the places we have available now.  All the easy places have gone urban.

Of course, we have other ways to compensate for much of the difficulties of the past. Transport, technology, communications, job specializations, grocery stores and all that. But when you choose to go OTG today, you are choosing a new and complicated lifestyle, not recreating an older, simple one that comes to mind for the uninitiated.  Forget the Whole Earth Catalogue.  Like everything, even OTG living has evolved.  It is much more complicated than it appears.

Yes, you enjoy and acquire much of what the original OTG’ers were looking for, freedom, independence and nature but you are getting there an entirely different way.  Just a ‘heads-up': don’t think of the OTG lifestyle as back-to-the-land, minimalist or simple.  It simply isn’t simple anymore.

 

Seeds of madness

Harper just signed a secret deal (not made public, anyway) with China to share customs and import-export information. Not unlike our previous deals with the US to share all Canadian information. The ENTIRE population of Canada is barely larger than ONE of the largest metropolitan cities in China (Chongquin).  So how does their national import and export information benefit us?  How does giving the US our information make any sense?And the US/Canada security industry monitors every single phone call and e-mail and text message in all of N. America all the time….?

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party (and usually spot on), has asked Parliament to investigate the myth of 911.  Apparently there are some people in Canada that doubt the official story of 911.  And she wants to get to the bottom of it.  Any person with half a brain knows that the official story of 911 is false.  So, why pose the question?  Do you actually WANT more lies? And why is Canada posing the question? Why Elizabeth?  How does raising that question in 2014 (begun by any sentient witness in 2001) make any sense?

Five or six cops jump and kill a large black man (the latest of many) in New York who is NOT resisting arrest and their grand jury does not see grounds to indict the cop with some kind of criminal charge.  “There may be a case (in tort law) of negligence but there is not a case for criminal prosecution.”  Doesn’t that mean that any cop at any time can kill anyone for virtually any reason at all and they will never be charged with a crime?

And aren’t they actually already doing that….?

Christie Clark just ‘gave it away’ and Petronas still doesn’t want to ‘take’ our natural gas.

As CO2 emissions strangulate us, the price of oil has plummeted to half the market price just a year ago.

“The economy is strong!” says Harper and Clark and yet interest rates remain at record lows and individual Canadian debt is at record highs.  And the cost of living is increasing . The province of BC owes billions!  All the while child poverty and homelessness is reaching epidemic levels.  Health Care and Education are crumbling.  Gambling and prostitution are now legal and Heroin is being dispensed by the government.

China is the largest economy in the world (just announced) – an economy built on exporting junk.  The US, second – an economy built on importing junk.  The rich are still getting richer.  And ordinary Canadians can’t afford to own a home.

ISIL nut-bars are proliferating – or so they say – in Syria and Iraq – and Canada is flying sorties against them.  Traffic accidents and mental patients are characterized in the guise of terrorism.  So are 15 year-old petty thieves.

Ban Ki-moon (UN secretary General) is speaking bluntly: “We MUST address climate change or else our species is in peril!”  He is twenty years or more overdue, of course – late, like all so-called leaders – but he has dropped ‘diplomacy-speak’ and is telling it like it is. It seems no one is listening!

The police are killing citizens willy-nilly, the planet is dying, our Prime Minister is signing secret deals with the largest junk economies in the world.  Canadians are being ripped off at every level.  The climate is changing.  And we are celebrating war, of all things!  That which we have paid through the nose for (oil) is – all of a sudden – cheap and that which was offered too cheap (LNG), no one wants.

And I am currently working in the city – mostly by sitting in traffic and talking on a phone…….does any of this make any sense to you?  Is it not all illogical in the extreme?  Is it not all incredibly mad?

Answer: yes.  It is mad. Well and truly insane-making mad.  And, consequently, I am getting madder every day.  I may go home.

Spending dysfunction and the cure

We have a Pathfinder.  1996.  Almost 200,000 kms.  It starts.  It goes.  It carries.  In fact, except for the usual suspects (brakes, exhaust, bulbs, belts and tires) it seems to be pretty much all one could ever need in a vehicle (‘cept for the odd rodent).

It ain’t shiny. It ain’t pretty.  It’s got more than few wrinkles and bumps to mark it’s life here on earth but, all in all, it wears a coating of dirt as well as any other vehicle.  I like it.  Sal likes it.  Fid knows ‘his’ car in a parking lot.  The old Pathfinder seems good for another 100,000 kms.  Except…..well……

Landcruiser sounds better…….G-wagen sounds good, too.  So does crew cab.  I’d love to find a slightly larger, maybe more macho SUV.  Black.  Ya know?  (on Natural gas, of course).  I keep filling the old PF to the rafters and then spilling on up to the roof rack. Sometimes we have even filled the old utility trailer past the maximum rating by scary amounts, too.  And then pulled it behind the stuffed PF. There have been times when you couldn’t have squeezed a loaf of Wonder bread into the vehicle it was soooooooo loaded up.

So….do I need a new vehicle?

I don’t think so.  I really don’t.  I only need to get from A to B now and then and to carry a whole lotta crap while doing so.  And I am doing that quite well, thank you very much.

Sooooo…….why am I feeling as if I need to buy?

I don’t think it is peer group pressure.  If PGP had any effect on me, I’d be slimmer and more polite, at the very least.  I’d dress better, for sure.  It ain’t status.  I can assure you of that.  Mostly because I equate more status to an old vehicle in good nick than what a tub full of cash can buy off a showroom floor.

It just MIGHT be the moving cornucopia of ‘sexy’ cars and trucks out there, tho.  They do look good compared to Ol’ Poofy, I’ll give you that.  But, seriously…….

I had an hour to kill and went to a Chinese foot massage place (always a treat) and got mildly tortured by a nice monolingual Asian woman just a smidge too keen on upgrading me to a full body massage.  I resisted her fetching smile with remarkably little difficulty, actually.  But I got to talking to the guy massaging the person next to me.  He is a recent Chinese (mainland) immigrant.  He works 7 days a week starting at 10:00 am and not quitting until 11:00 pm!  “Why the hell, William, do you do that?  That’s no life!”

“Aaaaahh……I know!  Car payments!  Gas!  Bills.  Gotta pay the bills, eh?”

“You buying a house?  In this market!  You can’t rub enough feet to buy a house in Vancouver, man!”

“No!  No house! (recent immigrants often speak with exclamation marks at the end of their sentences for no real reason that I can discern). I just buy ‘spensive new car!  Car cost money. Lots of money!  I pay for car!”

“Shoot!  What kinda car you driving, dude?”

“Lessus!  Leck sas?  Luk sis?”

Lex-us, William.  Lex-us.  You better keep rubbing, William, old boy.  And welcome to the wonderful world of consumerism.  You’ve got a lot of feet in your future and a long, long way to go.”

I walked out of there with nice feet and no desire for a shiny car.  What a deal!