65 years is a long time….

…I am 67.  I should KNOW how long 65 is.

Sally’s parents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this past weekend and we went down to Victoria be there.  But, to be honest, I don’t really KNOW how long 65 really is when it comes to being married.  How could I?  I am still in honeymoon mode.  Sal and I are virtual beginners at almost 45 years. We feel like freshmen compared to them. Mind you, they have an edge…both are hard of hearing…so a lot of stuff said goes unheard. THAT could be their secret.  One can tolerate a lot if you don’t know about it because you didn’t hear it….jus’ sayin’.

Seriously, we should all be so lucky as they are to have such good partners.  I know I am. The jury is still out for Sal but she is still here anyway.  Still trying to decide, I guess.  If I don’t kill myself in one of my numerous misadventures, we will likely make 65, too.

Anyway, that is why the blog has been left unattended to for a bit.  Family.  Traveling. Shopping.  You know how it is.

But you also know – by this entry – that we are back!  OMG it feels good to be back!  The air, the scenery, the lack of traffic………..this is heaven.

On to things OTG:  we bought some more tanks.  Big white plastic ones.  Four feet by four feet by almost four feet.  Almost cubes.  250 gallons.  They weigh about 75 pounds empty but they are much more awkward than it sounds.  We bought two.  And some plumbing pieces with which to join them.  The purpose: to make a separate fire-pump tank.  500 gallons.  Right near the house.  The real purpose is to make sure we are prepared and equipped because, as everyone knows, the fire never comes if you are ready for it.

Ya gotta do this kind of thing living OTG….especially this summer.  I gotta have water in my two other big cisterns in case the stream dries up, too.  So, I’ll store some now for when it does go dry.  And it is close to being dry right now. This has been a hot, dry summer.  Not good.  Global warming is coming to a theater near us!

Speaking of warming…the Kelowna firefighters were hot!  Seems they were ‘assembled’ after a 12 hour shift fighting a local fire to pose for Harper and Clark so that the politicians could look like they were on the front line supporting the troops. http://enviroshare.info/index.php/2015/07/26/canadian-firefighters-refuse-to-sing/

Hard to imagine the gall.

We were in a couple of big box stores getting disappointed before arriving home.  That’s par for the course.  I am lucky to get six of ten items on my list at any one time.  But this last one sent me over the top!  Canadian tire sells, amongst the BBQs, camping equipment, paint and kitchenwares, tires.  T-I-R-E-S.  And of course, they sell wheelbarrows.  The wheelbarrows have tires.  Almost every wheel barrow ever made uses the same 8″ tire.  The same inner tube.  Canadian Tire does NOT have the tires!?  “Uh, folks, this store is NOT Canadian BBQ or Canadian paint and plumbing.  This is Canadian TIRE.”

“I am sorry, sir, have you tried camping supplies?”

Man, it is good to be home.  





Part of the challenge…

…is that we don’t really KNOW what the hell government is supposed to be doing anymore.  Things have changed.  Government hasn’t.  And we don’t understand why they are even there.  What ARE they doing there?  Seriously.

Are they managers of the economy?  I don’t think so.  With globalization, only a few big players are managing much of anything.  China and the US and the EU swing some weight.  The Bricks swing a bit.  But, Canada simply does not influence much of anything. Canada GETS influenced but they apply little influence of their own – if any.  Well, Canada sells out non renewable resources like an aging hooker but, other than ‘giving it away’ what do our guys actually do?

Maybe they are here to regulate our behaviours with laws and such?  Maybe. But aren’t we supposed to be free?  Charter of Freedoms and all?  Except when hurting others, what business does the state have in influencing behaviours?  And, if they do have some business meddling in social behaviour, shouldn’t it be for moral reasons rather than for making revenue?  Haven’t they just monetized sin for taxing purposes?

The behaviours of many corporations and Institutions are clearly criminal and go unchecked (see bank bailouts circa 2008/09).  The behaviours of the rich, powerful and influential go mostly unchecked or are ‘buffered’ into nothing by lawyers. Really, only the poor get pursued by prosecutors.  And the middle-class (such as it is) are largely cowed into behaving themselves. Do we really need cops and all their infrastructure and minions to tell us NOT to speed too much?

No, it is not about the economy ’cause they can’t make a difference to that. And it is NOT about our social behaviours for the same reasons.  So, what is it about?

They don’t know, either.

They are, however, pushing the protection racket on us.  A lot.  They are gonna protect us from the pressure-cooker bombers and stuff.  Or, maybe the Hell’s Angels.  Muslims, for sure.  WE WILL SERVE AND PROTECT BUT, FOR NOW, GET ON THE GROUND, GET ON THE GROUND NOW! NOW!

As you can tell, I do not buy the protection racket one bit.

I honestly do not  think the politicians KNOW what they are doing in the halls of government.  Federally or provincially.  They don’t seem to know that the world is changing and so should their roles.  They don’t know what they can do.  They don’t know what they can’t do.  And they clearly don’t know what is going on.

But, let’s leave aside the fact that government is always late to the cognitive party for now…..what is it that WE THINK they should be doing?

Seems most people think that one of government’s main jobs is to help the underprivileged to a limited extent.  Nobody wants to carry ne’re do wells but neither do we want to withhold any opportunities for personal growth. Especially for children. In other words, we are stingy on handouts but BIG on education.  Big on health, too, kinda.  NOT so much if you are young….

And how is any of that workin’ for you, so far?  Ask a degree holder working for minimum wage and carrying student debt.

A second expectation is ‘sustainability’.  That’s right!  Seems over 70% of the people polled think that we – as a nation – have a collective responsibility to pass on a better world to our kids.  And the latest indicators are that the environment is at the top of the list.

And, so, how are they doing on that score?

And the final expectation of the people is the regulation of the BIG BOYS.  Seems people instinctively know or feel that power corrupts and absolute power does an even more effective job.  They want government to ‘police’ the BIG BOYS.  Note that they are NOT so keen to be policed themselves (well, I am not) but they want potential power brokers held in check.  The bullies.  The monopolies.  Like banks, Insurance Companies, Institutions, Corporations.  Even BC Ferries.  BC Hydro.  That kind of thing.

They may have slipped up a bit on that score, too.  D-…..E……maybe total F-for-fail!  Jus’ sayin’…

So, when you vote, do you think to give the government a personal pass or fail on the basic job description (you are their employer, after all)?  Or do you vote by reflex?  When the time comes to assess the Conservative Government, ask yourself how they performed these past ten years or so.

And then….after you answer that question to your own satisfaction, make sure they are quickly escorted out the front door and you might want to check their cardboard boxes as well.  They do tend towards petty thievery, too.  See Duffy et al.

Nothin’, really……maybe next time

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy, fish are jumpin’ and the cotton grows high. Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma’s good-lookin’, so hush little baby, don’t you cry.”

Good advice.  Gonna take it, make myself happy and maybe go fishin’, my wife is delightful and her cookin’ s great, you don’t know what your missin’, it’s sum-sum-summertime and there is no point in complainin’, we got it made in the shade….

Having just sung all that, we really are good.  We are happy, healthy and things are going along just fine, thank you. Projects.  Socializing.  Garden.  Cheap B flicks and  trying NOT to think about the political bent I committed to until October 19th.  So,  once again, to hell with it.  The election will come soon enough.  Inevitable.  Harper again.  Or NOT.  I am gonna give it a bit of a rest.  For a bit.

Let’s go with some observations, shall we?  Methinks the libraries, they are a-changin’.  E-books are catching on.  The printing, publishing, book-store worId is in upheaval.  I don’t know exactly what is going on in the library world but they are part of it and one can feel their collective shift.  Things are being re-orged in book-world.  Quietly.  But I think it is HUGE.

There is more and more talk of sharing and cooperation as new forces to be reckoned with in the economics of the future.  Think Uber.  That all seems to be a direct result of the Googles and the social media making money in indirect ways and the old ways seemingly being so destructive.  That kind of revolutionary economics is going to require different politics.  I don’t think the current generation are up to the task.  Apparently neither does Anonymous. And, when Anonymous speaks, everybody now listens.  Our basic, all-the-parties-driven system is undergoing change, you can feel it.  And Anonymous is pushing them into an ethical place they are unfamiliar with.

Is it just me or is Donald Trump not just a grotesque political joke of immense, almost apocalyptic proportions?  I mean, Trump?  As a potential leader of the so-called free world?  Seriously?  A guy who pretends he has hair?  What the hell…?  I mean, really…isn’t this one celebrity moment so bloody weird as to make one question whether American sanity has completely left the building?

What does that say about American politics?

Well, as I said…………let’s not say anything about politics.  American, Greek or Canadian. They are all nuts.  I’ll go back to the madness later.  I have to go now anyway. I hafta make some mint juleps or something. Sun, yardarm, ya know….time for wine and giving thanks for everything  all over again.  See ya soon…………..

Next up: maybe a little sump’n on greenhouses……..?




Mindset – a bit lengthy. Sorry.

A librarian friend of mine whose community lives largely off the grid in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Appalachians commenting on our book said, “I think it is fun but the best part was reading of your mindset.  We can’t teach that.  People have it or they don’t. Mindset is what it is all about”.

I agree with her.  Mindset.  Attitude.  Personal view on life.  Whatever it is, it is something that sets one’s path, determine one’s approach, delivers results and, ultimately, influences your mental health and state of happiness.  One thing, for sure, it is not stuff and money that makes for a healthy life – it is mindset and attitude.

So, how does one get an off-the-grid attitude?  Especially, if my librarian is right and it can’t be taught?  I think the answer is pretty simple: it CAN be taught but it has to be self-taught. The first step in getting your head clear is wanting to.  The second step is wanting to enough to pursue it with some action and focus.  I have no idea how one pursues it, but we did.  We just did.  And, I don’t think it has to be off the grid so much as out of the matrix. 

And Sal just sent me an article that she thinks sums that up: It is written under a nom de plume, Sigmund Fraud.  He tends toward extreme language. These are 90% his words but I will give you the condensed version:

For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. Maintaining the suspension of disbelief in the illusion, however, is often more comforting for the audience and the magician.

And so we live in a world of illusion. So many of the concerns that occupy the mind and the tasks that fill the calendar arise from planted impulses to become someone or something that we are not. This is no accident. As we are indoctrinated into this authoritarian-corporate-consumer culture that now dominates the human race, we are trained that certain aspects of our society are untouchable truths, and that particular ways of being and behaving are preferred.

The magicians disempower people in this way. They blind us with absolutes that are aimed at shattering self-confidence and confidence in your own determination and, in doing so, in the future.  The magicians are seen as powerful, the audience is weak.

Advertising is just the tip of that deceptive iceberg. When we look further we see that the overall organization of life is centered around the pursuit of illusions and automatic obedience to institutions and ideas which are not at all what they really are. We are in a very real sense enslaved by being fooled and lied to. Many call this somewhat intangible feeling of oppression ‘the matrix,’ a system of total control that invades the mind, programming individuals to pattern themselves in accordance with a mainstream system, conformist versions of reality, no matter how wicked it gets.

The grandest of the illusions which keep us enslaved to the matrix, the ones that have so many of us still entranced, are outlined below for your consideration.


For so many of us, following the law is considered a moral obligation, and many of us gladly do so even though corruption, scandal, and wickedness repeatedly demonstrate that the law is plenty flexible for those who have the muscle to bend it. Police brutality and police criminality is rampant in the US, the courts favor the wealthy, and we can longer even lead our lives privately thanks to the intrusion of state surveillance.  Not to mention the lawyers.  And all the while the illegal and immoral Orwellian permanent war rages on in the background of life, murdering and destroying whole nations and cultures.  The Law is more than an ass, it is complicit in the evil we do.  

The social order is not what it seems either, for it is entirely predicated on conformity, obedience and acquiescence which are enforced by our unreasonable fear of random violence. Most day to day violence in our society comes from enforcement of the so-called ‘law’.  And when the law itself does not follow the law, there is no law, there is no order, and there is no justice. The power, privilege, pomp and trappings of authority are merely a concealment of the truth that the current world order is predicated on control, not consent.


Adorning oneself in expensive clothes and trinkets, and amassing collections of material possessions that would be the envy of any 19th century aristocrat has become a substitute for genuine prosperity. And health.  Maintaining that illusion of prosperity-as-health, though, is critical to our economy as it is, because its foundation is built on consumption, fraud, credit and debt rather than life-giving sustainability. The banking system itself has been engineered (as if by magic) from the top down to create unlimited wealth for some while taxing the eternity out of the rest of us.  We are enslaved financially, too.

True prosperity is a vibrant environment and an abundance of health, happiness, love, and relationships. As more people come to perceive material goods as the form of self-identification in this culture, we slip farther and farther away from the experience of true prosperity.


Read between the lines and look at the fine print, we are not free, not by any intelligent standard. Freedom is about having choice, yet in today’s world, choice has come to mean a simple dumbed-down selection between available options, always from within the confines of a corrupt legal, corporate and taxation system and within the boundaries of culturally accepted and enforced norms.

Just look no further than the phony institution of modern democracy to find a shining example of false choices appearing real. Two (or three in Canada) entrenched, corrupt, archaic political parties are paraded as the pride and hope of the nation, yet fourth, fifth and sixth party and independent voices are intentionally blocked, ridiculed and plowed under. Selection from two or three is not choice.

The illusion of choice and freedom is a powerful oppressor because it fools us into accepting chains and short leashes as though they were the hallmarks of liberty.

Limited multiple choice is different than freedom of choice, and it makes for easy servitude.


Truth has become a touchy subject in our culture, and we’ve been programmed to believe that ‘the‘ truth comes from the demigods of media, celebrity, and government. If the TV declares something to be true, then we are heretics to believe otherwise.

Or worse, we are taught by intellectuals that ‘there is no real truth, only interpretations’.  

In order to maintain order, the powers that be depend on our acquiescence to their version of the truth. While independent thinkers and journalists continually blow holes in the official versions of reality, the illusion of matrix-truth is so very powerful that it takes a serious personal upheaval to shun the cognitive dissonance needed to function in a society that openly chases false realities.


They say that time is money, but this is a lie. Time is your life. 

The big deception here is the reinforcement of the idea that the present moment is of little to no value, that the past is something we cannot undo or ever forget, and that the future is intrinsically more important than both the past and the present. This carries our attention away from what it actually happening right now and directs it toward the future. Once completely focused on what is to come rather than what is, we are easy prey to advertisers and fear-pimps who muddy our vision of the future with every possible worry and concern imaginable.

If time is money, then life can be measured in dollars. When dollars are worth less, so is life. This is total deception, because life is, in truth, absolutely priceless.  The first step in getting off the grid is, by no accident, getting as far off the money-metric as is possible.  


On a strategic level, the tactic of divide and conquer is standard operating procedure for authoritarians and invading armies, but the illusion of separateness in our culture runs even deeper than this.

We are programmed to believe that as individuals we are in competition with everyone and everything around us, including our neighbors and even mother nature. Us vs. them to the extreme. This flatly denies the truth that life on this planet is infinitely inter-connected. Without clean air, clean water, healthy soil, good neighbours and a vibrant global sense of community we cannot survive here.

While the illusion of separateness comforts us by gratifying the ego and and offering a perverted sense of personal control, in reality it only serves to enslave and isolate us.


The grand illusions mentioned here have been staged before us as a campaign to encourage blind acquiescence to the demands of the system or the ‘matrix’. In an attempt to dis-empower us, they demand our conformity and obedience, but we must not forget that all of this is merely an elaborate sales pitch. They can’t sell us what we choose NOT to buy.  We can choose to get out and we can choose NOT to buy in.

We chose out.

Sal and I started making sensible, healthy choices by first stepping off the merry-go-round to see what might be possible.  I have to say that getting off was a lucky leap of faith and landing on our feet was another gift.  Having said that, there is no doubt, once off the spinning wheel it is all but impossible to get back on. So it was a one-way choice. Fortunately, we don’t care about that.  We could not possibly have the new ‘mindset’ without first escaping the bulk of the old mind-controlled one.  This new perspective is already proving the leap was worth it.  We are happier now with our own illusions.

Disaster at sea

I know better.  I was stupid.  I was more than a little overdue for a fuel filter change.  It was on my to-do list….a bit too long on the list, actually….just one more trip…….

We went up the coast in a slight blow to pick up some lumber for the greenhouse project. About 1000 pounds.   It was blustery.  Not a storm.  Nothing to worry about.  But we were side-towing our old Surf/whaler acting in the role of barge alongside the boat at about three knots and we were bobbing around some. Light chop.  No biggie.

It was getting late.  High tide was late and so we had gone up to get the wood late.  I think it was about 7:00. No big deal.  Didn’t even bother bringing the radio ’cause were together. Who ya gonna call?

We had the walkie talkie but my neighbour had gone to town.

Engine missed a few times.  Then died.  Damn.  Damn.  Damn.  Pulled the filter and we had water!  Gawd!  When you are stupid or lazy or just plain procrastinating, the situation out here is just NOT forgiving.  We were dead in the water, the wind was at least 15 knots going south and, with the current, we would likely drift down island right past our house within a half an hour.  I felt like the idiot I was.

I briefly contemplated cutting the ‘barge’ loose and trying to paddle like hell to get to the beach so that Sal could jump ashore and go get her boat but I was not in the least bit sure that we could paddle close enough with the wind and current.  Swimming a hundred yards or so might make up the gap…..?

‘Hmmm…jus’ maybe ol’ Rog got home by now.  It is 7:00 – ish……?  I’ll try the walkie talkie before flinging myself into the sea’.

Beeedle, beedle, beedle…….

“Roger here.”

“Oh Roger, I am sooooooooo happy to hear your voice.  We could use a hero right about now.  Mind coming out to mid channel and towing us home?  Engine quit.”

A half hour or so later, we were at the dock and Roger was heading back home to finish his beer.  We were lucky.  It is not often you can do so many thing so wrong and come away unscathed.  Nice sunny weather.  Late-in-the-day relaxation mode.  Sloppy habits. Safety ignored.  Procrastination.  Perfect recipe for a mishap.

And there’s nothing quite like a disaster at sea to focus the mind.  We are now quite focused.  A little tightening of procedures around here is what is on the agenda for today and we’ll slip in some fuel system repairs at the same time.

Then we’ll haul logs up the hill to make room for the lumber that has to come up next.

And you wonder what we do all day around here……….?  Now you know.  We do stuff. And then we screw up.  And that makes for adventure if not just a few extra shots of adrenaline.  And some things actually get done.  Then we write a book.

Then we do more stuff.  And screw up again……

Repeat as required.    Life is a series.

Sweating the big stuff

Bank of Canada rate down.   Turns out I was right about the ‘invisible’ recession. But, with that rate, it is now quite visible to even those who don’t look. Bad sign. Things will go up in price.

Including gasoline.

Is it just me or is the price of fuel even more outrageous than ever? When the basic barrel of crude was $140 + or -, we paid as much as $1.40 a liter at the pump. Now the barrel of crude is under $60.00 and we still pay almost $1.40 a liter.  Bear in mind that almost all the fuel in Canada is pumped from Canada (Alberta) and they are crying the blues about oil price drops.  Poor babies.  So….where is the HUGE discrepancy in price going?

I don’t have to tell you.  You know.

Do I care?  Not really.  I have cut back.  Way back.  Old people do that.  We cut back, stay back and give back.  Old people don’t ‘play’ much anymore.  You know, gardens, scotch, rocking chairs, prunes…that sort of thing….?  But, as I said in my last post, the next generation is NOT stepping up to feed the consumer machine.  Not like we did.  They share.  They minimalize.  They ride bikes and live in their parents basements.  This is NOT the generation to drive the economy and, to be fair, they don’t have the jobs or income to even try.  Things are changing.  Long term.  You can see it.

I mention all this because Christy Clark has made yet another major error. So, it can get worse and she is the gal to do it.  Petronas LNG is bad.  Bad, bad, bad.  Write anyone who will listen and try to kill the LNG deal.  Too long a story to recite but it’s all bad.  Just say NO.  Say no to the NDP, too.  Just in case they don’t know (likely).  Say NO federally, too, because they need FED approval for Petronas to proceed.

So, anyway (off politics for a bit)………..we went and did some ‘logs’ yesterday.  Will do a few more today.  And we re-launched the old SURF.  Plus I am going up to get lumber from a local miller for the greenhouse I have started by putting in foundations.  Gonna use the tides to ease the burden this time.  Take the boat up.  Leave it to rest at high tide. Load it tomorrow.  Wait for high tide to float it and then bring it home. Less carrying that way.

We are doing some improvements on the old ‘company’ cabin (communal) that we all own together (but built and maintained by Roger from 30 years ago).  It is time.  I will address the bridge that crosses the creek.  Pre-fab at home and then reassemble on site.  Piece of cake.  Need to rent a mule, tho. Everything is uphill.  Both ways.

Watched a bunch of whale watchers yesterday.  Four or five boats with about 12-15 ‘ whale-watchers packed in like sardines watching the Orcas as they swam past our front deck.  Weird, don’t you think?  Watching the watchers?    Mind you, it WAS a good show. Orcas breaching, making big splashes.  Kinda fun.  But, still……there were at least 50 paying watchers or about ten to 15 thousand dollars worth of watching going on in front of our house.  So I watched them as much as the whales.  How often do you get to see 50 or 60 people sweating buckets in bright red survival gear in the blistering late afternoon July sun right in front of you and paying exorbitantly for the experience?

Hard to make this stuff up.

It’s mid July and where’s Steve?

Harper is in hiding.  Maybe not reclusively but, for a prime minister just three months from an election, he is surprisingly a constant no-show.  Christy Clark?  The same.  These folks are our so-called leaders and they have simply exited stage right.  Oh, they will show up eventually but I have noticed that many politicians are increasingly ‘hiding’ these days. They are not doing the exposure-thing that politicians used to do.  They basically keep a lower profile and the more unpopular they get, the lower their profile is.   Harper is, by historic standards, a recluse.

I think we like to think of that parody on leadership as simply their shame and humiliation but, after thinking about it, I don’t think so anymore.  I think it is more Machiavellian. Politicians know that the voter’s memory is incredibly short.  Better put, we all seem to have political dementia.  We can’t remember anything from even the last few months.  Last year is erased.  So they lay low for months before the election, come out smiling with newly whitened teeth and making promises and they think we don’t recognize them for who they were and are.  We are so stupid, they think, that we forget how much destruction and havoc they have previously wreaked.

And they’d be right.

Remember Harper’s jet fighter debacle?  The length of time it took to get helicopters?  The Coast Guard cuts?  The submarines that don’t work?  The 100% false job creation programs?  The proroguing of parliament?  The mis-telling of random acts of madness as terrorism?  The silencing of scientists?  The scandals?  The falseness surrounding Northern Gateway?  The secret trade deals?  The secret deals with  China?  The list goes on so long that even I can’t remember it all.  It is just evil, ugly, stupid long.

And Christy Clark and her Liberals are just as bad.  See the 100 reasons Laila Yuile compiled several years ago.  I think she must have another 100 by now: http://lailayuile.com/100-reasons-the-bc-liberals-must-go/.  Mt. Polley.  Yoga-on-the-bridge.  Transit.  Fire the conservation guy for saving bear cubs.  Suicides from working in government health!  There may be 500 reasons for getting rid of the Liberals by now.

We are governed by fools, crooks, incompetents and liars.  The real question, tho, is this: does it matter?

Increasingly, big nation-states and BIG money are calling the shots. For all of us. Including Harper and Clark.  Even a somewhat-first-world country like Greece can’t make it’s own way.  They are not independent.  They are not even truly sovereign.  Little countries must be puppets on strings. Hell, Canada clearly is!  We do as we are told.  If we don’t, NAFTA slaps us back into line.  We may have some influence in Jamaica but we step-and-fetch-it for a lot of bigger entities and that includes major corporations. And, lately, China.

Hell, the big guys even sell us our own oil for more than they charge others!  How is that even possible?

Bottom line: I think it is changing.  I can feel it.  I can’t describe it but I can feel it.  All the petition-groups are having an influence.  Bloggers are, too.  The mainstream media?  Not so much. The people are NOT borrowing and spending either (lack of confidence) and it is showing up in the until-now invisible recession that is just emerging like a hippo surfacing. We will be in recession officially by the next quarter if they tell the truth and we have been in one for several years if you just open your eyes.  Your basic ‘citizen’ is gently and quietly withdrawing from the system.  They are shutting it down.  They are saying ‘no mas’.

“Oh, that’s silly!  How can they?  They gotta work to pay bills.   The economy will chug along and the politicians will still control it.  Give your head a shake!” 

Yeah.  For awhile.  You are right.  This AIN’T a revolution, merely a blurry, amorphous blob of passive resistance of sorts.  Still unconscious, probably.  But think about it – the next generation behind us are less consumer oriented and the computer culture is more into sharing.  Anonymous is hacking like they were led by Robin Hood.  Uber is a sharing-based company, 3-D printing may replace some corporations.  Recycling is BIG.  Going simple and small is even BIGGER.  Solar panels are proliferating.  The list of counter-establishment efforts is long and growing.  Watch Elon Musk.  Even the 100-mile diet and yoga is a statement against the Type-A personality sociopath-run, mega-corp route to the future we have been on – the one exemplified by Northern Gateway and Keystone and Petronas.  If the people aren’t revolting, they are certainly walking towards carbon Hell dragging their feet.

Maybe the Harpers and the Clarks simply won’t count for much anymore.  Maybe we are moving away from that lead/follow model.  There ARE some signs.  I really hope so.  Keep your fingers crossed.

It may seem odd…..

….but I am inclined to suggest that we all raise some honeybees (I know!  How weird is that?).  I am pretty sure I am going to do it.  Here is the rationale:  aside from ‘recycling and composting’, we don’t actually do much to save the planet.  Well, a few friends cycle to work and, OK, we buy ‘hemp’ products and protest Monsanto but, really, how many of us plant trees, hatch salmon, keep streams or raise Vancouver Island Marmots or Spotted owls as a hobby?  I suppose raising honeybees is just about as weird but they, more than marmots or spotted owls, are critical to the survival of the planet and they are verging on the brink of annihilation. Maybe we should all put a hive in the back yard?

Jus’ sayin’….

On to other things.  Greece, first – (for a paragraph).  The drama that is Greece is fascinating to me. More than any other story it illustrates the decay of the nation state as a force to be reckoned with in this new world of globalization.  Fuggedabout (for a minute) Greece’s own role in bringing itself to it’s economic knees, the reality is being made clear: they were not in control of their country the minute they joined the EU.  Without your own currency (and it has to be one that other countries respect and accept), you got nuthin’.  In fact, you have less-than-nothing.  You have given over virtual subservience to whoever operates the currency you use. See Puerto Rico and El Salvador – nation-slaves to the US.  It is one of the main reasons the US is so powerful – everyone uses their currency as the global go-to ‘common’ currency.  And, of course, they can ‘print’ as much of it as they like.  We all know that but Greece is the one proving the concept right before our eyes. Greece is just the first in the line of obvious, high-profile sacrifices to globalization by international and US corporations.

The IMF may as well start to issue passports.

“Is Canada exempt because we have our own dollar?”

No.  Our dollar is tied to the US dollar so that is a compromise. Plus we have NAFTA and that is a further compromise.  And we rely on them for defense.  Worse, we have an economy that is largely reliant on the US one, anyway….not to mention almost all US corporations having a major presence in our country and their constant exploiting and mining of our resources while selling us back their products at higher prices than they charge 100 miles south.  Like fuel. We are a nation-state in name only.

We are simply just Greeks who obey the rules as established by our overseers.  They didn’t.  We do.  So, we may NOT have lost our sovereignty ‘brand’ completely because we still have Tim Hortons and Hockey Night in Canada but pretty much everything else that might have been ours is now theirs.  Even the national railroad (that seemed to define us for so long) is owned by Bill Gates.

“So, what does it mean to be a Canadian?”  I dunno…..ask someone from Minnesota.

But let us get away from that for a minute and talk about beauty.  It is gorgeous up here right now.  The heat wave is gone, the sun is out.  It rained for two days – lightly – but it rained.  And, like everyone in BC, we needed that.  Desperately.  Everything is like the Garden of Eden right now only better (no snakes).  When I was away for three days, Sally had only a few visitors and they were all whales and otters, eagles and seals.  I was actually an intrusion when I came home.

OK, I am an intrusion wherever I go but you’d think it would be otherwise at my own home!

So, anyway, we are back ‘on the job’ of not having a job and being retired.  I’ll cut some logs today.  Work on the non-functioning fire-pump carburetor.  May get to some railings that need installing…probably not…..then a glass of wine later in the day.  Geez, it is great. REALLY GREAT.

Maybe we could use a few more bees…….

Climate changes while politics remains the same

T’was pretty hot up here for the last three weeks but, for the most part, we were kept comfortable by a cool breeze. There was a five day ‘heat wave’ that drove off the breeze but we managed.  It was OK.  The hard part – for me – was that for three days in the middle of the smokiest (wildfires), hottest time, I was obliged to be in Vancouver doing ‘friend’ stuff. And much of that required driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic in an un-airconditioned vehicle.  I found that somewhat taxing.

Poor me.  I was uncomfortably hot for a few days.  Woe and alas.  In Pakistan, over 1000 people died from 40+ temperatures.  It can get worse and it has gotten worse at different times in different places.  We are seeing 45+ degree weather in a lot of places. The world is going to Hell in a handbasket is a common refrain that seems to actually apply more somehow these days.

Of course, a season does not a changed climate make.  But this is more than just a season – this is just the hottest and driest year in a decade long string of record-breaking weather anomalies.  If we aren’t being baked or shaked, we are being drowned and flooded while, in the background, many many species are dying off rapidly.  Seems 70% of the world’s sea-bird population have gone missing compared to the 1950’s.  Even I notice that.

And the science guys have finally linked the massive honey-bee die-off to climate change, too. It’s not getting any better out there on Gaia, it seems.  We’re in for it.

But – again – that is not news.  Most people know this.  End of Days is nigh!  We’re toast (literally). Whachagonnado, bad boys, bad boys?

So, I looked at the city-scape more critically while in town this time – not easy to get objective as I tend to be critical most of the time about the city now.  What options do they have? How will they all cope?  I saw no answers.  I just saw trapped and vulnerable masses herded like sheep.  I didn’t even see any actual awareness of anything.  To 99.999% of the people, it was just another hot day and tourist business was booming. Outdoor cafe’s were full.  What’s not to like?

They may be right.  I may be a Henny Penny.  But, if the sky was not falling, it was definitely smoke-filled and the particulate level was the highest it has ever been – and comparable to Beijing.  That says something.

Vancouver/Raincity is on water rationing.  You can only water your garden and lawn one day a week and that day depends on your address (even or odd).  People ignored that rule initially and used water anyway.  Now the by-law people are all over them.  “Oh, goody!  Enforce those rules on my neighbour!”  The system is working, they think.

But consider this: the Mt. Polley mining disaster which massively polluted the Quesnel lake and the Cariboo Creek less than a year ago has been granted provincial approval for re-opening.

Wildfires are burning out of control, water is on rationing and ordinary people are being fined for watering their flowers and one of the largest polluters in BC’s history can re-open it’s water-using and abusing facilities within a year of screwing up the near environment royally.  Bad optics at the very least.

Bad priorities, too.  How in hell did Mt Polley get back-in-business so fast?** There are mom and pop restaurants that get closed for longer than that for minor health infractions. How is it that Bill Bennet is leading the way for the Mt. Polley mine to re-open?  He seems to be their champion when, in fact, he is the minister overseeing the operation and the one who failed so miserably at it.  Bear in mind that DFO and the Ministry of the Environment had to investigate and sign off, too.

Amazing how fast the government can move when they want to, eh?

Mind you, they are quick to fine you for watering your flowers so maybe they are just being darn efficient all ’round…hard to say.  But, in another example: Nestle pays $2.25 for a million liters of fresh water that gets bottled and sold to the public for considerably more.  They pay up to $1400 for a million liters elsewhere in Canada for other plants.  So, on that minor score, our government has dropped the ball yet again.

BC is the cheapest water in the world. For corporations.  Mt Polley can ruin it.  Nestle can re-sell it.  But you can’t do much of anything.  You can’t even water your plants but for once a week.  Do you really think the system is working?

Some things change.  Some things remain the same.  And some things are just plain hotter and dirtier – like politics and the climate.  Sadly, neither of them are working very well these days.

Thankfully, I got out of that large urban Fool’s Paradise as fast as I could.

But, really………?  Where ya gonna go?

** Wikipedia: The controlling shareholder of Imperial Metals is billionaire N. Murray Edwards. He donated half a million dollars in campaign contributions to the B.C. Liberal party since 2005 and helped organize a $1-million fundraiser for B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s re-election.[20] 


Code: error

In any negotiation, one party usually holds a bit more (or a lot more) power.  Try arguing with the police or a judge if you doubt that statement.  The key to achieving agreement with a more powerful side is not to bluff or threat but to offer assistance to them in achieving their goals in exchange for you achieving yours. If both parties achieve their goals, then the negotiation was NOT adversarial but interest-based.  Win-win is a theoretical possibility.

In reality, it is rarely win-win.  Typically, it is lose-a lot-less-than-I-feared, gained-some and kept-a relationship-intact situation.  But, win-win is still quite possible so long as there is a relationship of sorts on which to found it.  The parties to an interest based negotiation have to have an ongoing need or want to interact with each other for at least as long as the term of the agreement being negotiated.

Relationship, in this sense, does not mean warm or close or even friendly.  It just means functional and positive.  A divorcing couple often has such a relationship forced on them if there are children and feelings warm and fuzzy are not likely to be experienced in their new, more business-like arrangement, for instance.  But they have a relationship, nevertheless.

Greece is the less powerful of the parties at the recent negotiations regarding their escalating debt to the IMF and the EU.  The negotiations engaged by the EU were simply because of relationships, strained as they may have been.  The EU holds the debt and that put them in the cat-bird seat but only so long as the other side wanted to stay in the game and be ‘part of the family’.  The EU assumed that was a given.  The referendum indicated otherwise.  Greece stated that they were prepared to quit and take their ball and bat and walk.  On the surface, that looks like a shift in the power base and, in an adversarial negotiation where one party wins and the other loses, it just may be that.

I think it was stupid.

Regardless of the EU’s real and immediate financial losses to be suffered if Greece exits the union, the losses to Greece will be relatively greater and only exponentially increase over the short and medium time.  In the long run, their defiance may come to be seen as brilliant and heroic but there is little doubt that exiting the EU will cause them great inconvenience for a long time first.

I.e.  If a Greek merchant wanted to buy your Canadian/US product, would you accept payment in Greek Drachmas?  Of course not.  You’d say, “Pay me in Eurodollars or US dollars but I am afraid I can’t do business using your drachmas. Maybe I can’t sell to you?” Conversely, the Greeks, needing a negotiable currency will be fire-sale-ing whatever they can to get US dollars or Euros.  The country will become a target for bottom feeders.  And, of course, Greeks with any means, will leave the country in droves.  Such a scenario for the common Greek man/woman/family would be bleak and painful to say the least.

On the face of it, the Greek referendum may seem simply an opinion poll and, if Tsiparis is being strategic, he will regard it as that only.  And fuggedabout it.  In fact, he should apologize for it.  That referendum actually took away what little power he had.  In effect, it blew his feet off.  He has to backpeddle now and fast.  And he has to be good at it despite his feet being just shot off.  Here’s why:  Any negotiator on the other side now has the ultimate tough position fully justified.  Relationship has just been removed from the equation.  No quarter need be given or offered.  Merkel could legitimately say, “Well, we still kinda love you and all.  We’d like you stay in the family.  But the problem is, you now have an easy out.  A get-out-of-Europe-free-card, as it were.  You can walk anytime you want to.  Any promises you give are made weak by the permission the people have given you to quit and go it alone.  If we help you out now, throwing good money after bad, it looks like you’ll just take it and then leave the family a bit later on when things get tough again. Put bluntly, that referendum was an act of bad faith and we don’t trust you any more.  It may be in our best interests to simply quit on you rather than wait for the inevitable.”

Now Tsiparis has to grovel.  Stupid.

Negotiations are tricky business.  Those who enter them trying to win will either lose or win depending on power.  Those who enter negotiations on the basis of  building or keeping long term relationship a priority and first assisting the other side to get as much of what they want as possible are more likely to get a deal they can live with, too.  It may not be a 100% WIN but it will be a deal and a partial win.

Greece opted for the power deal instead and, they simply don’t have enough.  If I were working for them, I would be mending fences as fast as I could.  And I would hope like hell that there was still some kind of relationship upon which to build.

It doesn’t look like much relationship is left from where I sit.  Let’s hope they can hug and make up.  And they better be quick about it.