Silver hair and silver linings

I have no idea if any of that which is written below is correct.  How could I?  I suppose I could do research but my opinions are never based on facts, so why start now?  I was just wondering why the economy is so flat and further….is there a good time to make a break for it? Just musin’, mostly.

Is there a natural time to stop playing?  Is there a time for everyone to quit the rat race?  Is there an ideal time to move off the material grid?  

I don’t imagine so.  We are all so different.  But young people are especially (read: hormonally) driven to find mates and so that fact alone suggests that the 20-somethings are more inclined to seek the largest gene pool available and that’s in the city.  Swimming in the gene pool is expensive.  Living in the city is expensive.  Young people drive the economy.

Thirty-somethings are usually fully engaged in whatever career they are pursuing and, if not, usually still looking for one to pursue.  If they have mates and children, those two factors mitigate to staying in the city and working and spending to do it all.  Thirty somethings sustain the economy.  

There aren’t many forty-year-olds out here. They are economic sustainers, too.   I guess if you are forty or so and have NOT YET been kicked out or committed to opting out, you are, by circumstance, pretty locked in to the major circuits and drains of the city and all that that requires.  Of course, there are exceptions but I don’t know any.

We have always had the marginalized but I think we have more now.  The homeless, the mentally ill, the under and unemployed, the millenials who never left the basement…these people are just not playing in the game.

But, by far, the largest contingent of new opters-out and OTG’ers are 50 to 65 year olds. They are the retirees.  They may already be rich and retire early, they may be late in that contingent and simply retire modestly or else they may have had the dream for decades and are slowly making the move incrementally.  For many of them, they are making the REMOVE.  If there is a new face in the sparser, non-competitive population, it is usually someone checking out around 55 to 60.

So, maybe 55/65 is the natural time-to-exit group?  There is no question that the majority of OTG’ers out here are 55+.  But I am still not so sure that indicates much except that it is true in our time.  And in our place.  It was true for me and Sal.  It was true for many of the folks we know. But there are plenty of exceptions, too.  So, hard to say.

But one commonality is largely true for all of us (at whatever age) who were rejected or who opted out: we are not huge consumers. In our case, our consumption levels dropped off because our kids fledged and we moved from a fast-paced urban setting which required high consumption levels so as to keep up with the Jones’s and to buy the convenience necessary to make more money. To be fair, we ‘consumed’ a lot getting ourselves established out here (although, no more than we would have in the city just living there) but, since then, our needs and wants have been reduced by 75%.  We simply do not buy as much as we did even in our thirties.

The point of all this musing in demographics is ultimately economics: Marginals, urban retirees and OTG’ers do not constitute much of a market. Never have.  Nor do those who are exiled by early retirement or illness even if they live in the city.  Of course, there are plenty of products we can buy and employ for our use and convenience and we do.  But products specifically aimed at early retirees or OTG’er are rare.  Products aimed at the marginals are non-existent.

I suppose more and more products and services are being generated for the ‘aging-in-place’ generation but that is a zero sum market.  A good example is a retirement home. The regular, good ‘customer’ is relatively short-lived, so to speak.  Hard ot build up a steady clientele.   And even if oldsters still buy, they don’t buy big and they don’t buy big-ticket items.  Few, if any, move up-scale, they down-size.  Ninety year-olds don’t have two-foot-itis nor do they lust for the latest muscle car. When you are old, OTG or urban, you simply buy less.   The marginalized consume even less.

Another way of looking at the lower consumption levels for me is simply looking at what I can buy out here.  Virtually nothing.  We have no stores, no restaurants, no services. One can hire local help for some transportation issues and maybe lumber supply. Maybe. Sometimes a heavy machine is available but, most often not.  And that is also true of older urbanites. They don’t shop for fun any more.  They aren’t accumulating.  Fashion does not motivate them.  They don’t want for much.

You might say, “So what?”

Well, here’s the point: the homeless, the early retirees, the OTG’er and the perpetually unemployed are a bit like the financial canary in the capitalist coal mine. They were rejected or opted out early and are no longer heavy consumers.  And that contingent is growing.  Fast.  Add in the ‘greening’ effect and people are buying less, recycling more and being less indulgent.  I think.  So, I am saying less consumption is a growing phenomena.

It is very much a function of age.  That’s for sure.  And, in particular, our lifestyle seems to accelerate that.  So, we who used to be drivers of the economy are no longer doing so. The bulge of the boomers marching to retirement is going to magnify that.

As people get increasingly marginalized as a consequence of inequality or incapacity or age they stop playing the capitalist game.  They cease to spend as much.  Ergo, the economy is flagging.

And you can see it.  The global downturn may be simply demographics.  It seems so. Japan aged faster than the rest of the world and it’s economy has waned for some time. And, at a smaller scale, we have plenty of older friends in the city and those living OTG and they are not spending as much either.  Large chunks of the consumer population are dropping off the statistical consumer radar.  Those of us older OTG’ers are just the early and more noticeable balers.  The urban old bale, too.  The dysfunctionals never had a chance.

The point: we will have zero to negative economic growth for the foreseeable future. And it may be partly my fault.

Phase two: milestones, symbols, time and rot

I fell a week or so ago and it still hurts to bend over.   Not so much.  Just a sharp reminder.  I am healing. I’ll be fine.  But I mention it again because I slipped on the stairs and about a week later, walking gingerly and holding on to the rail, I slipped again.  No fall this time.  Just a minor heart attack.  WHOA!  Just that feeling of ‘slipping on a greased surface’. Absolutely frightening.

“Sal.  As soon as I can bend, priority one is fixing the steps.  If not, priority two will be finding another husband and burying this one.”  

Two yesterdays ago, we began to pull up the steps and put down new boards.  After the boards were down, they were treated and then covered in wire mesh.  I tread on them with increasing confidence but still with one hand on the rail.  Once bitten…..

But here’s the real story: we put those treads down ten or so years ago when we were building the stairs which would allow us to ascend to the higher elevation for the building of the house. There are about 40 or so steps in that section.  Plus landings.  There are another 40 or so steps before and after depending on the terrain and deck and house design.  From low tide to the top floor, I think we have 80-something steps.  I remember the locals saying, “Your stairs are likely good for ten years.  But wood doesn’t last forever. Around then, you may have to replace much of it.”

Ten years flew by.

The top ten steps are shielded from the sun by a deck running along side.  Those steps get extra greasy in winter.  The rain would combine with the slimy, moss-cum-algae growth to form a slick grease that seemed slipperier than ice.  Every year it got a smidge slimier.

When we took up the first board, it was covered in a goo that, even when gripped tightly, allowed the board to still slip right out of my hands.  Even grabbing the boards with two hands denied a firm grasp and, as I worked them, they slipped and fell often.  Seriously, it was like handling slimy fish.

Planing the stair treads

Planing the stair treads

I took each board and ran it through the planer.  Typically twice.  If I ran it slimy side up, nothing happened. The blades could not cut. The board might go through but most often it stuck.  Very strange.  If I put the boards bottom-side up, because the slime was considerably less on the back-side, the planer took off 1/32 of an inch and revealed a board that was perfect.  No rot.  No cracks.  If anything, the board seemed harder with the time spent in duty.  So, basically, I just ‘cleaned them up’ and replaced them.

It is remarkable that the wood was so un-flawed and perfect after all that time.  Especially in light of the warning and the extra slime.  I imagined the slime was also rotting the wood underneath but that was not the case.  Kiln dried, untreated, styro-wood from Home Depot would have been truly punk after such neglect.  I am sure of that.  This local stuff was great!

Before

Before

After

After

Well, I didn’t actually do the lift and replace.  Sal did.  I was trying not to bend.  Instead,  I worked the reno-side (planer, saw, tool-fetching and supervision) and, on a few boards, I replaced them with new but it was Sal who took up the old and waited til I handed them back for replacement.  She’d take out the six deck screws and, a few times, do a bit of remedial work on the stringers and then put the boards down again using six different screws and holes.  Then she’d paint the new side with preservative and move to the next step.

Sally re-installing stair treads

Sally re-installing stair treads

She worked on her knees just as you’d imagine.  She’d position herself on the step below and work on the step above.  On the first of the steps, she put a hand down as she leaned to reach for the far screw.  It was so slippery, she fell on her face.  Because she was on her knees and so low to the steps it was just a surprise and no damage was incurred.  But imagine how slippery the steps had to be for that to happen.

When the top section was done, we stapled down new hardware cloth, a light metal meshing, for even better grip than that of the first day with new wood.  We had used the stairs for ten or so years without the cloth. Can’t afford to take that risk anymore.

We worked well.  We got the first section done. One third. We walked on it.  It worked. Good grip. But I can’t stop reaching for the rail.  It may become a habit.

Halfway down, half done

Halfway down, half done

It sounds odd but this is a milestone.  Rebuilding something as fundamental as the main stairs even if it is still sound, is a milestone of sorts.  Nothing marks an anniversary quite like it.  We’ve been here almost twelve years but the stairs weren’t finished in the first year so this is like a symbol of our first ten years.  A milestone that portends of more maintenance, more repair, maybe even more falls.

Welcome to phase two.

 

Girls in the mist.

8:00 am.  Foggy.  You can see maybe 50 feet.  On the water, of course, 50 feet may as well be 5 feet.  You look out but don’t know how far you are seeing because all is grey in every direction.  You know you can see about 50 feet only because that is the distance at which the dock you are leaving behind you disappears.  Once past that reference point, you know nothing for sure. You are literally in a cloud.

As such, you quickly feel suspended in grey but you know you are moving by the wet soft breeze on your face and the wake trailing behind your boat.   Going out in a small boat in thick fog first requires a strong sense of personal resolve and a fair dose of confidence. Knowing how to read a compass helps, too.  Being inherently fearless makes it much easier.

Sal was scheduled to go to quilting today.  The monthly Q-bee is on the other island. Starts early.  Pea-soup fog was not going to be a deterrent.  Sal cast off in her 11 foot boat when visibility was so bad, I could not see the water from the house deck.  But I could hear her motor.  She went zipping along at about 2/3 speed, maybe a bit less.  But she wasn’t crawling.

Don’t want to be late for quilting.

There is some logic to going quickly in the fog.  Our channel is NOT busy but when it is, it is often temporarily dominated by a big powerful water taxi going full tilt, equipped with twin diesels, made of heavy aluminum and sporting every electronic device possible.   It is possible they can see a small boat on their radar.  If they are looking.  Which they would not be doing all the time.  They can’t see logs and debris on radar so they have to watch through the windshield mostly.  Sally would be debris to them.

They usually just plow over debris.

So, it is best to keep your time in the middle of the channel short.  And the best way to do that is to line up your compass and crank it up.  Fly blindly, fly fast.  Cross the channel. Cross your fingers.

It is now 11:00 am.  I can see a blurry 150 yards.  Many boaters would call that foggy and not go out in it.  In English Bay, that would be a good decision.  Without radar?  A very good decision.  Most boaters have not memorized the shoreline nor do they follow it.

Out here?  Being able to see a blurry 150 yards is basically considered all clear. Why? Because out here one can remain close enough to shore if they can see that distance. And, if you can see the shore, you know precisely where you are because, over the years, you have unconsciously memorized the surrounding shoreline.

I know the surrounding square mile like the back of my hand.  I know the surrounding two square miles well enough to get around and I likely know enough of three square miles to know roughly where I am at any given moment.  Beyond that, I am not sure where I am. And once you have lost that sense of where you are at, even seeing some landmark you should know, won’t be recognized.  Once you are lost, you can be lost until you are within yards of home.

Sal made it, of course.  And the fog will have burnt off by the time she returns.  No biggie.

 

Which came first? Nut or squirrel?

This winter is NOT crawling by.  I have no idea why this winter doesn’t seem glacial in pace and temperature as it usually does but it has been moving right along for me this year.  No down days, no frustration with the gloom.  I’m good. I’m alright and it is February. This time, staying home was not only the logical thing to do (with the dollar as it is) but it seemed right on so many other levels as well. Put succinctly, I have enjoyed this slow winter, the tumble on the stairs excepted of course.

Part of it, I think, is that, if you travel 3 winter times out of four, then the fourth time staying put is almost as much a change as the travel was.  Change by way of no change.

Another reason was that it has been a very changing winter.  We were cold in November. Snow in December.  January went by unnoticed. It is warm in February. That’s odd.  Light is also noticeably increasing in February, usually the bleakest month for me, and I am more aware of it this time for some reason. The word ‘spring’ seems almost reasonable to utter.

As any long time reader knows, Sal and I get along.  And we get along even when cooped up in small spaces.  We knew this about ourselves.  We lived 11 years on sailboats.  It was easy.  Could do it again in a flash.  We could likely live for a long weekend in a walk-in closet without much problem. And the real whackiness, is that we would enjoy that time!

Compatibility is more an art than a science but, in that sense, we are masters and could present at the Louvre.  Sal could teach that kind of art.  I would be the foil that she uses to prove her genius.

Right now, it is teeming.  Has been all night.  Windy, blowy, rainy, noisy and relentless. Sal is busy quilting.  Busy like a squirrel with nuts.  She doesn’t even notice me.  I am reading, writing and dreaming and thinking.  I am planning and investigating on Google.  I have lots and lots of thoughts and I am like a nut with squirrels in my head. Now THAT’S compatibility!

I would like for all this to continue for as long as possible.  Thirty more years would be good but my family sported an early best-before date genealogically speaking. Thirty is unrealistic.  Statistically I am in the ‘dead zone’ now and so twenty more will be a very fine run if I can make it.  Even that will be setting a new record for both my mom’s family (average lifespan under 60) and my father’s (average lifespan early 80’s).

Oh, don’t be silly!  I am not thinking ‘end of days’.  I am not morbid although, as I recall, it is the month for such thoughts.  I am just musing on time, weather, life and our place in it all. maybe it is time to start saying the ‘S’ word.  Spring is just around the corner and I, for one, am looking forward to it despite not hating winter this year.

Geez, could it be that I am just basically happy?

 

 

Whoops!

Slipped on the stairs and fell the other day.  Hard.  The worst part was the instant contemplation of skipping down the remaining 40 or so steps after the first three or four.  I was at the top.  When I gathered my single wit together, that bit of awareness told me I was rapidly gathering speed and headed south.  Yikes!  I could see launching myself into the sea!  So, I grabbed a vertical post to limit any further descent and slumped in a heap to a stop.

I may be getting a little old for this…?

I get hurt all the time.  This should not have been any different.  But it was.  It was different because I was being careful this time.  I was even holding on to the rail.  I knew it was slippery.  I was being cautious. OK, maybe slippers were the wrong choice of footwear but, being aware is 99% of the issue as a rule.  Not this time.  I was down in a blink and moving like Eddie the eagle.

I tend to disregard all that trauma, blood, pain and suffering not because I am heroic or brave but simply because 1. it happens now before I even know it is happening.  The accident is really fast!  My reaction time is really slow.  Ergo, it is all a complete surprise and therefore I may as well not worry about it anymore.  If I die, I am likely to be the last to know.

2. Sally always says, “Oh, Gawd!  Just get over it!”  You could have an arrow sticking through both ears and Sal would say, “Well, just pull it out and get on with it!”   She’s a lovely person but has the pain threshold of a boulder.  She simply cannot empathize.

3. Sal says no one wants to hear about it anyway. The book had just two incidents of trauma to illustrate the physical challenges.  We had a dozen from which to choose. “Save ’em.  You may want to write another book!” 

The reality is that I have been a smidge in denial about OTG and safety.  I tend to think that one can be run over by a bus in the city and the country just has different threats so why dwell on them.  And that is still largely true for me but I reluctantly admit that living on terrain that is generally comprised of sloping rocks angling between ten and thirty degrees is a bit more of a daily challenge than the slow amble in the foyer, mall or the plastic seat on skytrain (unless you occasionally walk the middle rail as some do).

Yes.  Traffic in the city is more dangerous.  No question.  So, you see my point.  Danger everywhere.  As Alfred E. Neuman said, “What, me worry?”  

As for the latest bump, it is a large bruise down my left side.  Except for bending, I am almost fine.  Bending seems to ‘crunch’ the bruises and that inhibits too much gamboling and frolicking about but Sal and I went about our business today (after three days of healing) and we brought 18 pieces of lumber up the highline from the beach.  We had to. More is coming.

Before we could do that, I had to start the old Honda winch.  It wouldn’t go so I took it to the workbench and stripped it, cleaned it and generally fussed over it.  It then started. Probably only took 60 or 70 pulls.  20 Advil.  But carrying it and pulling the cord was getting painful so Sal took it back.  In the wheelbarrow.  She affixed it in place.   Then she popped down to the beach to load the lumber and I hauled it up.

Then, we took the engine apart again and stored in the dry room.

A day in the life…..

 

 

82 year old Apaches…can’t live with ’em…can’t live without…

Bob is 82.  Half Mexican-Apache, half Mutt and Jeff.  Who knows?  But he has black hair and tans easily, that’s for sure. Loves Mexican food and (gasp) SPAM!!

He was born and raised in New Mexico or some other scratchy patch of desert way down near El Paso and thereabouts.  Didn’t have more than one pair of shoes till he joined the army. Poor like a peasant most of the time, full of life even today and a big giant romantic of the kiss-the-girls kind.  Great smile, great personality, healthy as a horse and, in my view, a great guy.

He’s been living on his own now for the last 25 or so years.  Wife left him.  Ran off with another guy who looked just like him. Guy had the same name, too.  Fatter wallet was the only discernible difference in my view.  She didn’t even have to change her ID.

But, he was OK with that curve-ball.  Took it in stride.  Got a house in the south desert with lizards and cactus.  Took up with a cat.  Wiled away his time after retirement flying sorties.  He is a virtual flyer.  He has flight simulator programs and takes a Lear Jet to Paris now and then, a Sopwith Camel to fight WW1 battles and generally speaking, is living to a ripe old age having fun and eating tacos.

But, sometimes, of course, he watches TV.  He loves British TV series.

After watching the series Last Tango in Halifax, Bob was reminded of an old girlfriend he had been in love with in his twenties.  She, a seething Mexican beauty with whom he was totally smitten.  They got along well until the army or the military/industrial corporation with whom he was employed transferred him to California.  So, off he went.  They were young. They were pretty.  There would be others.

And there were.

But, at 82, he was reminded of E and looked in the El Paso phonebook to see if she was still there.  She was!  Same name.  Same woman.  Never married.

Bob went to see her.  It had been 60 years!  But nothing had changed for them. Bam! Second time lucky.  Love in all the old places.  They are getting married in June.

Mexican-Apaches….she couldn’t live with him and now she can’t live without him.

And you thought romance was dead.

 

That could get frustrating…

Coming from town laden to the gills.  Headed for the community dock where we had arranged for a friend to pick us up (it is good manners not to leave your boat at the community dock for more than 24 hours because there are way too many boats using it as a drop-off/pick-up point).  We’d been gone five days.  He was there on time.  We were late.

We’d been right on schedule until the point we entered the cell coverage dead zone – the last ten or so miles on the last of the dirt road.  Turned a corner to see a tree down.  Tried pulling it with the truck but too much tree, not a heavy enough rope.  We tried calling our friend a dozen times but dead zone for us was a dead zone for him, too.  Even when I drove for coverage, he was deaf to our message.  We drove back out of the dead zone and phoned the road crew.

Someone in the US of A answered.  She was dispatch.  Ditzy.  Entrusting her to get the job done was not an option.  Plus it would take hours.  So, we headed down the neighbouring island.  Plan B – gonna hit up a neighbour.  Went into a yard.  Knocked on the door.  No answer.  On the second such house (all houses way down long country roads) I was turning around to retreat when I saw the guy’s workshop.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm…………..

Jumped out, walked in, found his chainsaw and tried to fire it up.  It had been drained of fuel and bar oil.  Found his fuel can, found his chain oil, put two and two together and it fired right up.  Strode to the car like the chainsaw thief I was and passed it to Sally, and headed back to the tree.  A few minutes later, feeling a smidge guilty, I finished up the tree, dumped the oil and gas, gave everything a wipe and drove back to the victim’s shop.

Still no one home.

Put everything back as it was and, leaving no fingerprints, returned to the road.  As we passed the fallen but now sawn-in-pieces tree, I looked up ahead in the road just in time to see another tree fall.  Boom!  Right in front of us (well, forty feet).

We got lucky.  The tree was a dead and rotten alder and the impact on the road was enough to break it in half.  A quick turn and we sguiged through.

A few minutes later we got to the dock at the end of the road where our friend was just about to give up.  We connected and all was well.  Of course, we apologized and explained.  He said, “No problem.  I actually fell asleep”.

How can you fall asleep in a small boat tied to a bouncing dock during a gale and in heavy rain?”

“Dunno.  Good rain gear, I guess.  Plus, I have been doing this a lot.  This weather doesn’t generate any fear for me.  Just got more relaxed, actually.  Next thing you know, I just nodded off.”

I’ve been out here almost twelve years.  If someone doesn’t arrive on time at the end of the road, I get annoyed.  Twenty minutes late, I get worried.  After forty minutes,  I kick it up to hysterical.  If someone were to be an hour late, I’d be a frantic idiot contemplating calling the Coast Guard (“Do you guys ever do roads?  My guests are stuck in the middle of the forest. And there must be trouble because they are late”).

It’s why Sal lies to me when she goes over to the other island, “Sweetie, I’ll get out of quilting just before 3 and I’ll probably stop and talk and then shop and then drive slowly, may stop at Eileen’s.  Don’t worry about me until about 7:00.  I expect to be home at 6:00. The truth is quilting ends at 2:00.  They are all talked out (for the time being anyway) and I know Eileen is in India.  Sally arrives home about 4:30-5:00 like you might expect.  She explains that things just went smoothly.  In this way she thinks she is fooling me so that I do NOT to worry until 7:00.

Trees falling in front of you as you drive…that was the main point of this blog….that could get frustrating.

 

Doc at the dock

We live remote.  You know that.  No stores.  No roads.  No power.  What you may not know is that we do have a doctor.  Kinda.  Doc M (or her nurse practitioner partner) comes out to visit us every two weeks. She treks out the logging road in her 4×4 and I pick her up at the local dock and drive her over to the other side.  She then hikes up the hill to the local school and community centre and sets up her clinic in one of the lesser used rooms.  It is cold.  It is spartan.  It has only a trouble light on an extension cord and a woodstove that first needs starting to keep patients and doctor warm.

She knows in advance most of whom she will be seeing and so can bring with her the necessary bits and pieces she thinks she will require.  There is a cabinet in the room that is stocked with bandages, basic common solutions and other paraphernalia that she goes through on a regular basis.  She carries her records with her in her laptop computer.  They are the best doctor/practioners I have ever had.

“Why?”  Well, clearly they are visiting us more to adhere to the Hippocratic oath rather than the mantra of greed-is-good.  Her entire day may be consumed by seeing only a half a dozen patients.  There is no cramming, no staggering of people in small rooms.  Time is taken. She talks.  She cares.  She seems genuinely interested in her patients and she makes small extra efforts to do things properly.  Plus they each have a great personality. You just like them.

When I ran the downtown clinic, our doctors had to pound through the patients streaming in. They gave them more attention as a rule than I ever got from my own doctors but they still wasted no time, trucked no nonsense and adhered to Henry Ford’s assembly line philosophy.  If we had more rooms, they would have stacked them up just like our typical GPs do.

My previous doctors were horrible.  They put Henry to shame.  After awhile, I gave up on them ‘doing the right thing’ and simply found one acquiescent enough to do what I wanted them to do.

I have enough good sense NOT to try to get a particular prescription (feels unethical) but I did my own research into whatever symptom I was experiencing and suggested possible diagnoses so as to address matters more my way than theirs.  And that worked well but, of course, the doctors weren’t stupid and my preliminary research, way of presenting and relatively lucid explanation saved them time, too.  I was usually in and out after less than five minutes.  They made money.   It would take an hour of waiting for five minutes of role-playing but they were happy.

I wasn’t.  I would have preferred someone to care.  I would have preferred someone to get to know me, investigate, think, take time, show a personality, take their face away from their computer.  I would have preferred to have a relationship of sorts.  I would have preferred someone exactly like Doc M or NP P.

And they laugh at my jokes.  It simply does NOT get better than that for me.  Why?  Well, first off it means she is listening.  Secondly, I enjoy it.

Who would have thunk that the best medical care (and I mean real CARE) has come to me when living on an unserviced remote island.  Key word: they come to me!  Of course, I travel for blood work and maybe X-rays or machine-based testing should it be required but that can usually be arranged to suit the monthly town-shop blitz.  I am OK with that.

But, man, oh man, having a doctor/nurse who makes house calls in the wilderness is pretty special.

 

Chicken Christy Little and Henny Bennet Penny

This opening is about the fabled chickens of yore and the story is not clear to me!  Did the acorn fall on Chicken Little and he told Henny Penny that the sky was falling?  Or was it the other way around?  Some have it that Chicken Little and Henny Penny and even an alter-ego called Chicken Licken are all the same bird.  It really is hard to figure out who misinterpreted gravity and acorns as the apocalypse and who just panicked when told of such a threat.  It’s much the same way amongst the Republicans, don’t you think?

Stupid liars or lying stupids?  Hard to tell.

Clearly Trump and Cruz are the main stupid chickens currently clucking down south.  One and the same almost.  One is bigger and even stupider but, at this point in reason, logic and just plain truth-telling, it is just a race to the bottom for them both.  I will wager that Trump will own that place some day.  He likes owning things.

I mention this because slowly but surely, incrementally and inch by inch, the threat of Muslim fanatics killing us all by beheading seems to be gaining traction with people in the US of A. And I attribute that to the stupid liars or the lying stupids.  Aided and abetted by the infotainment media.  

The point of raising that whole absurdity is that it seemingly proves that lying works.  Bald-faced, totally fabricated, completely false lies and un-truths are proliferating in all arenas these days and making headway in the hearts and minds of some of the people.  And the audacity of the liars is unprecedented. How did this happen?

Tabloid journalism!  Fox News!  Not really, they just took it one step further. Lying was an entrenched working hypothesis before them.  Plausible deniability comes to mind.  Black Flag operations is another.

But how did such blatant AND commonplace lying in public by politicians and clowns alike gain such purchase? Is it because they are good liars?  Is it because the audience was finally discovering so many lies everywhere that outrageous ones somehow gained credibility with us?

Actual quote: “Well, you see, it seems that everyone is lying all the time but at least the Donald is speaking his mind, eh?  I mean, I like that.  Speaking out.  Telling it like it is.  Ya gotta admire the guy for not being politically correct, eh?”

“I agree that he is not politically correct.  But shouldn’t he at least be correct?  I mean, the dickhead is just plain wrong, politically and in all ways.  We can’t admire open stupidity just because he isn’t embarrassed by it!”

I am ranting, of course.  Who really cares about the latest celebrity-idiot. We had Paris Hilton, Rob Ford, the Kardashians, Caitlin Jenner and now Trump.  In a world where celebrity is the goal at any cost, the list will be endless.  And it is.

The problem is that lying and distorting reality is NOT just entertainment. Especially NOT in politics.  We can afford a Paris and a Caitlyn but we cannot afford a Trump.  GWB almost put the world in the toilet.  Idiots in power can do a lot of damage.

Which brings me finally to Christy Clark and Bill Bennet of our provincial government. They don’t tell the truth.  They are outrageous.  Bill Bennet’s statements on doing the required due diligence on site C, Peace River dam proposal were blatantly not true.  He knew it.  He bluffed and blustered and the media presented what they also knew was not true.  It was a lie made more damaging by the acceptance of it by the media.  They enabled him.  Mind you, he had a good practice run at that style of propagandizing with the Mount Polley mine disaster.  They did not challenge him on that, either. This guy is getting the hang of it.

And Clark flits from photo op to photo op without any commitment to what she is saying. That is an effective form of lying, too.  Last election was all about her commitment to family.  This latest photo op is all about her commitment to affordable housing.  Before all that it was jobs.  And, don’t forget, we were gonna be petro-rich with LNG.  The list of empty promises she spews would be humiliating for most people but it is not for pathological liars.  They don’t care.  And neither does she.

Lying has always been a mainstay amongst BC politicians.  Now it is mainstream.  There is something so wrong with that, it feels like the sky is falling.

 

Meaningful Consultation?

The BC Supreme Court today just ruled against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal on the grounds that the National EnergyBoard (NEB) failed to consult with First Nations.  Good call.

Admittedly, the court is a smidge tardy in this massive decision and one wonders what the decision might have been had Harper won the last election, the price of oil gone up and the people opposed remained silent but, on the face of it, it was the right decision.  And being tardy is NOT really the point.  The point is that the courts just defined the word ‘consult’.

Up until today, the NEB, BC Ferries, BC Hydro and all the other mindless, unfeeling, institutions we are obliged to deal with would present some fait accompli by way of a group of soul-dead bureaucrats at a public hearing and claim the public has been consulted.  As members of the public, we were always disappointed in that process and we didn’t really feel as if it was the so-called consultation process we were owed.  But they claimed it was so we went home like the sheep we are.

Not anymore.

Consulting, according to the dictionary is an exchange of information and ideas. It includes getting advice.  Big word.  It even implies a level of agreement.  And it would appear that those are the components the Supreme Court decided were missing in the Northern Gateway process.

The National Energy Board was so biased from the outset that I wouldn’t participate, personally.  I wrote them and told them so.  I was pretending they cared.  But the real reason for not submitting a statement, for me, was that each of the panel members had long histories of working as private consultants to the oil industry.  The NEB (Harper) picked industry careerists as quasi-judicial neutrals.  They were not.  They had been and were ‘in the pocket’ of the industry.

And that was proven by the way the hearings unfolded.  The depositioners could not ‘tell their story’.  They had to keep their statements to narrow parameters. Ideas were NOT shared.  Questions were NOT answered.  The presenters were told to keep to the script and, every time someone didn’t, the NEB panelists would either tell them to re-focus or they would tolerate the ‘tangent’ but not listen, not take notes and not record it.

In other words, there was no meaningful consultation.

First Nations (our current moral champions in Canadian society and clearly NOT sheep) took the NEB and Enbridge to court and they won. But, more importantly, they won something for all of us.  They set more than a precedent with that decision, they helped define the process.

The next time BC Ferries holds a community consultation someone (me, maybe) will remind them of this Supreme Court decision.  They will be reminded that meaningful consultation means more than just being spoken to.  Information dissemination is NOT consultation.  It means they have to listen and, more importantly, take what is heard into consideration.  To my way of reading this decision, the august body of bureaucrats and hand-picked toadies will have to respond to the points raised by the public to show that they have heard that point. According to the dictionary, it may even mean a level of agreement must be reached (I think that part will be proved unenforceable eventually if not already.  There is a principle in law that posits you cannot force people int an agreement.  You can’t even agree to agree). Still, that means that the public will actually HAVE A SAY!

Why is that so important?

The current cause celebre is over the proposed Site C dam on the Peace River. That project has been exempted from any oversight by the BC Liberals but not from consultation with First Nations.  Protest over site C can now be more effective.

Protest over anything can now be more effective.

This minor decision (in the eyes of the media) at this late date may prove to be HUGE for this province.  I think it is.  We’ll see.