Never rains but it pours, eh?

Beautiful rain!  Good, great, glorious, rain, rain, rain.  What a lovely day for getting all wet and muddy.  I am truly enjoying this.  It is good.  The forest needs it, the gardens need it and I really need it, too.  I am feeling my inner reptile.  My amphibian is showing.  If I wasn’t so old, stiff and round, I’d slither.

But that’s enough about rain.  Back to us…..

Sal and I will be drinking champagne tomorrow night.  Our kids and their spouses are here to visit and we will be toasting their gathering plus the fact that we have sold over 1000 books!  Yeah, I know……we are over-the-top gobsmacked about that, too.  Stunned,, actually.  Hard copy sales have virtually stopped but the Kindle version keeps on ticking.

What a treat! This is a book that keeps on giving us fun.

Sal is pretty funny, too.  She instructed me, “You are not allowed to check sales til the end of the month otherwise you’ll be obsessive about it!”

“That’s fine.  I never check anyway.  You do.”

“Well, we sold 208 this month.”

“It is only the 27th!”

“I couldn’t help myself.”

Yesterday was town day (in preparation for the kids arriving) but Sal went alone to shop for the groceries this time.  She picked up 200 pounds of steel for me as well. Plus 85 large bricks and a few bags of cement. It didn’t look like a lot but it was pretty heavy.

Being silver-haired and beautiful has it’s advantages and so she doesn’t have to do the heavy lifting, the ‘boys’ at the stores do that for her.  But I am the ‘boy’ at the end of the road and so I came in the big boat but brought her little boat over because it scoots up to the beach really close.  We loaded everything in to the little one and she went slowly off.  I rode quicker in the bigger boat and did a delivery to the neighbours while she crawled along the coast.  Then I headed back to the dock.

“Squaaaawk….hiss…….Your spinach and battery are here.  You better come and get ’em!”  “Squaaaaaawwwkk…….hisssssss……….sinking…….squawk…….”

It was Sal on the radio.  Seems the seas had kicked up enough to put some waves over the gunwales and the boat, riding already low in the water, was starting to take on water. She later reported that at one point the stern seemed level with the sea and she feared that the increasing weight of more and more water would soon take her down.  Sal got back on the walkie-talkie.  So did my neighbour.

“Tell my wife her beer is on the counter and getting warm!”  “Squaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwk………………….hisssssssss…………sinking.  Help! squaaaaaaakw!”

“She said that she’d be coming home soon.”

“Sal!  Is that you?  What are you saying?  Sal!  Press harder on the button.  I am only getting static!”

“Squaaaaaaawwwks…..I will be right there.  I have the spinach and the battery.  Just leaving now!” “Squaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwkkkkkk……………’GET OVER HERE!”

(No, dear reader, it is not you.  It is not me.  It  was four people sharing the same walkie-talkie channel.)  Just as my wife was having an emergency-at-sea, our neighbours were on the walkie-talkie chatting about spinach, beer and batteries.  The conversation over-the-air to the listener was unintelligible and, mixed with static, I didn’t have a clue what was going on.  But, assuming that Sally was already at the house-side shore and having difficulty at the beach, I quickly tied up my boat on the other-side dock and ran up the hill to the house and was about to proceed down when I saw that she wasn’t there!

“Sal, where are you?”  

“Squaaaaaaaaaaaawwwk…..where are you?”

I looked over in the direction from which she was coming.  She was still out at sea but I could barely see her.  I ran back to the dock and got in the bigger boat.  I zoomed around the corner and saw her low in the water but making headway.  She yelled that she was going to be OK.  She had bailed the boat furiously while she went and had managed to stay afloat.

One of our spinach-and-beer neighbours had also clued in by then and was heading out to the rescue as well.  It was good.

All is well that ends well.  And, it did.  Spinach and battery delivered.  Steel and cement at the beach.  Food in the house and Sal just a little wet and shaky.  I lay on the bed until my heartbeat slowed to normal.

Just another shopping day.

 

 

We are building a greenhouse….

…while not having a clue.  This is our chosen way of doing things as you know except this time we are free-building – without even the how-to library books for guidance.  We are jus’ kinda wingin’ it.

I blame my father-in-law. He was going to throw out some large double pane windows at a time when I was in a materials-gathering mode. It’s a state not unlike shopping at Save-On while hungry.  Not always sensible.  I came home with a bunch o’ windows. Then, we were site-sitting at a mansion under renovation and they were gonna break up a bunch of double pane windows and that just seemed so wrong….so we came home with more windows. So, now we have a pile o’ windows – none of which are the same dimensions as the others – and Sal doesn’t like mess and well, that means I have to do something with them.

“I’m gonna build a greenhouse!”  

“Good.  I am not helping.”

“What do you mean you are not helping?  We are partners.  We like greens.  You hate mess.  I am old and stupid.  I need you.  Otherwise, we just have a pile o’ windows.”

“Fine.  I’ll help.  But quilting comes first, OK?”

“No.  Actually foundation comes first.  Then pony walls and then glass. Even I know that much.”  

Building a concrete foundation is just not ‘done’ much on the Westcoast.  Cement is heavy to buy, heavier to transport, and even heavier yet to mix and the ground is always uneven and, really, we are already ten years into the thirty year rule (meaning we are now building to the 20 year rule) and so I really didn’t want to build using any concrete.  So much work. So little energy.  But Sal hates mess and I had a few already-hard bags of Reddi-mix that, if I beat the crap out them, would likely serve us in their designed capacity if I added some extra Portland cement.  So, I beat the crap outta them with sledges and came up with some mixable material.  Not enough.  But some.

“I need more Reddi-mix.”

“Never gonna happen.”

“Only about six more bags.”

“Nope.”

I understand her being so adamant. She thinks if we get more bags, there will simply be a larger pile hardening under the deck.  I have to use up what I have before having that conversation again.  I hate to admit that she is right so I just submit quietly to her will.

Any other husband out there ever felt like that?

So, my greenhouse foundation concrete footing wall is only a few inches wide and a few inches deep.  Just enough, really, to get the pony-wall frames off the ground.  And, the pony walls are to be built from two-by-fours because greenhouses do not need heavy construction.

That’s the easy part.

The harder part is going to be welding a steel cage-like frame in which the windows will be placed.  I have to make a frame from 1″ angle iron in just the right way to accommodate about thirty large windows only four of which at any one gathering are even close to similar to each other.  I am trying to figure out a pattern that allows 3′ by 5′ windows to mix with 2′ by 4′ windows with the frequent inclusion of 30″ by 72″ windows for visual interest. Plus a bunch of small square ones of differing dimensions.  Got a couple of rhomboids too. Not the same size, of course.  This is literally a greenhouse puzzle.

I mention this because the lower funicular is just waiting on a motor controller and it will be done.  Chore number two is the greenhouse and, as you can tell, it is underway.  Kinda. Chore number three which is the guest bathroom will have to wait til next year.

Maybe.

I seem to be on a bit of a roll, after all.

OK…time to hang myself

You likely will not hear it here first (it’s been said by others) but I am going to say it out loud again anyway: Harper knows nothing about the economy.  But neither does Trudeau, Mulcair or even Elizabeth May(my fave) but she may come the closest.  Their only defense is that it doesn’t matter much what they know given the way they see the economy and the way they are playing at it.  Let me explain….

Canada does well economically for awhile and Harper (or Mulcair/Trudeau had they been in power) strut about touting their acumen and wisdom.  “We are the best managers!”

Canada then does poorly and they quickly reply, “Well, it’s not our fault.  The world economy is on the ropes and we are weathering it the best we can!  We are still the best managers.”

Wrong.  Totally, completely, embarrassingly wrong, wrong, wrong. The way they have it set up, they manage nothing.  They are not even puppets on the strings, they are barely the shoes on the puppets.

The US or China’s economy hiccups and small-country economies (and especially those resource based) go into paroxysms and spasms like epileptics having a seizure.  China and the US drive our economy – plain and simple.  Canada’s population of under 35 million is not even as populace as China’s largest municipality.  We simply don’t swing any weight internationally except as purveyors of natural resources NONE OF WHICH THE AVERAGE CANADIAN OWNS OR BENEFITS FROM!

It does not have to be that way.

If Harper/Mulcair/Trudeau had any economic sense they would instead say, “Well, internationally, we are completely vulnerable to just about everyone and everything.  We can’t manage the part of the economy that has international buyers and sellers.  They manage it.  We just react.  All we can really do is help manage the domestic economy and that means investing in infrastructure, education and making sure the provinces and the north can deal easily and reasonably with one another.  That’s a big task in itself given the size of our country and we have not done that.  In fact, we have neglected that.  But now we will.  We promise.  We will make the trains run on time and inexpensively.  We will repair the roads.  We will take care of the people.  We will also support, nurture and initiate local economic development right down to the municipal level.  That means transportation, loans, grants, local economic policies and initiatives.  We may be small potatoes but we can at least help grow them!”  

Put another way: our leaders should stop posing as economic leaders.  They are not. They are currently simply leeches on the economy.  They should get their snouts out of the trough and help re-build Canada for Canadians.  They could do a lot more if they thought like the 100 mile diet people, the small-is-beautiful people, the buy-local people, the everyday Canadians that, internally, domestically, we are.

If some thug (Petronas/CNOOC) comes looking for Liquid Natural Gas or Tar Sands, then maybe dabble in that.  A bit.  Maybe.  But put your energies, your resources your management energies into your own country first.  Clean up your own backyard.  It’s called ‘management by walking around’.

 

Tell tales

Most of us are aware of Harper-as-bastard.  You don’t need much more evidence.  But most of that which you know about is political and you either agree with him or you don’t.

His personality has been maligned, of course, but, for the most part, he has skated through the personality-based, ad hominem attacks (exception: he is clearly a stone cold liar).  We do not think, for instance, that he cheats on his wife or takes bribes or is connected to organized crime (well, there are the Fords).  I don’t think he snorts coke or has a mistress. We think of him as a racist to some extent but, then again, a lot of people are afraid of Muslims so that is not hurting him too much (maybe in the after life).  If there is a major personality trait we are coming to know, it is that he is an isolated, fearful sociopath of some kind who likes to think of himself as macho AND entertaining when playing music.  The rock-star syndrome, I guess.  As a person, I just think of him as a scheming Luddite who craves power and cares for no one but himself.  It is not all that uncommon nowadays in a world committed to the pursuit of money over all things.

But there’s more.  And this part really sickens me: a dozen or so firefighters in the interior were just coming back to barracks after a long 12 hour plus shift in stifling heat putting their lives in danger.  They were exhausted and likely just looking forward to a shower and hitting the sack when they were Shanghai’d by some suit-and-tie person urgently compelling them to ‘come over here for just a moment’.  Probably too tired to resist, they went.  They stood there and waited and wondered why.  Stephen Harper then showed up to shake their hands.  He came complete with photographers and film-makers and writers and the moment of our PM on the front lines with the firefighters was duly captured for political gain.  The firefighters were then dismissed and, of course, the pictures were splattered all over the news.

That was despicable.  That was ‘theft’ of some variant.  It was definitely political exploitation of the worst kind.

Well, it turns out that it was not quite the worst………….

Coming to Campbell River in secret is one thing.  And Harper did that.  His visit had a lower profile than a Slytherin.  But, before he arrived, a fellow Con in the Boy Scouts in Victoria arranged with a naive associate in Campbell River to ‘dress up’ a troop of scouts, “..the Prime Minister wants to meet them”.  A troop was hastily gathered and they all stood at attention in awe and wonder at meeting the PM.  But he, instead, used them as a backdrop to make his political campaign speech to the dozen or so faithful and, of course, the platoon of PR flacks were there to capture the moment.

The Boy Scouts are committed to political neutrality.  They will not ‘stump’ for anyone. But, of course, they will greet heads of state in the capacity of young people greeting heads of state.  Like kids giving flowers to the Queen.  It is schlock PR but it is used in a neutral role-of-office kind of way.  It is never to be used for partisan purposes.

Harper used the kids for just such a purpose.  And that was even more despicable than the firefighters.  They were adults and could have, if they had the energy, walked away. The kids were just trying to be good scouts and gave it their all. Whether he bothered to address each one and shake their hand might mitigate it a bit but clearly their role was scenery, back-drop, colour and much like that of the previously mentioned firefighters.

Only worse.

If you don’t understand the political madness of Harper’s sword rattling in Ukraine and Syria; if you don’t see the inherent evil in his ‘bad’ trade deals; if you don’t see his failure in the economy or his dereliction of duty to those who need the government’s support like the veterans; and if you don’t see the erosion of your own freedoms with his draconian omnibus bills and security measures, you should at least be able to see the crass and selfish exploitation of ordinary Canadians in those two small vignettes that we recently witnessed.

Do we really need to see anymore of this guy?

Interesting sign

I am not a news junky anymore like I used to be but I still know what’s going on in our neighbourhood.  But I didn’t know that Stephen Harper came to Campbell River to ‘appear and speak and help’ the local Con and the other one in the district south.  That other one is John Duncan, his deputy PM, and the one that actually makes Harper look like a good person by comparison.  Serious stink on that guy.

But my point is: the Prime Minister of our country came to ‘speak and politic’ on behalf of his fellow cons and no one is informed.  Why is that?  Virtually NO coverage.  Why is that?  Some people did know so I guess it was not a secret and those who knew were on the streets protesting so maybe the Cons knew that public appearances out here weren’t going to go well.  Those he spoke to reportedly numbered only a dozen or so. Appearance time? Negligible.  Quotes?  None.

I think Harper has given up on the west coast and that is actually smart – for him, anyway. He is reviled here.  He may as well politic in Alberta or wherever because there is little in the way of support for the Cons here on the west coast.   I really think John Duncan blew his own feet off but no one likes Harper either so they are like lepers here.

A bunch of angry BC veterans started a group called ANYBODY BUT CONSERVATIVE. ABC for short.  They are mad.  The head of the group wanted to meet with the minister or the PM.  “No!”  was their response.  Makes it seem like Harper is simply dodging or avoiding any place that is hostile and most places seem to be.

Looking forward to October.

Seems dozens of whales are dying out here.  50% more than usual.  Scientists think it might be related to the red algae bloom that is virtually covering the entire Pacific Ocean. ‘Course, they really need to do autopsies on the whales first but, of course, there is no money for that.  So, I guess we won’t do ’em.  No money.  No money.  Too bad.  We’ll do nothing without money upfront, eh?  Let ’em die!

Hottest July in recorded history of the world read one headline the other day.   Another said it was not an applicable statement for the whole world but mostly it was true.  El Nino this year is being referred to as the Godzilla of el Nino’s.  Baby Godzilla.   A heat engine just pumpin’ heat like mad all over the Pacific and much of the world.  Oil falling in value. China stocks falling.  Pollution levels in China beyond belief.  Millions of Africans and Central Americans heading north.  Even Obama is on the climate change train.

Things are changing.  Things are really changing.  I think they are changing fast.  Faster than I thought, anyway.  Canada is changing, too.  But Harper is not.  ‘We are good’.

Cons have their heads up their butts.  Good place for them, I guess.

Leadership

What a guy!  Our Duffy, eh?  Years and years as a supposedly neutral news reporter who was, while working into our hearts and minds, selling himself to the highest bidder.  Seems the Cons bid the most.  Maybe it was a two-fer with Pam, hard to say?  Still, Duffy and Wallin sold their soul and jumped to the front of the trough and all they had to do was stump for the Cons.

Isn’t that weird?  What were the Cons thinking?  “Hmmm, here’s a guy and a gal who all Canadians accept as neutral truth-tellers and, God knows, we could use some of that in the party. Let’s go buy them!”

“But, sir, as soon as they are bought and paid for, wouldn’t that undermine their image as neutral truth-tellers and, in fact, make them out to be hypocritical liars and cynical in the extreme?  Wouldn’t we lose both ways, getting such horrible people and then losing what little credibility they may have?”

But they did it anyway.  Harper’s idea of leadership.  And then Duffy and Pam’s elitist, pampered, selfish, ugly sides showed up and it was a bit embarrassing even for the idiot Cons who can’t spell financial management let alone demonstrate it.  So, they tried to sweep them under the carpet.  How stupid is that?  They could much more easily have made political hay, gotten rid of them and actually looked good in the doing.  But they chose to be weasels instead.  Leadership from the shadows.

Stephen Harper could have said:

“My fellow Canadians of this great country and with all of us going forward….to….well, uh, the end of the day…we have to be accountable to our citizens and I am sorry to have to report that two (or four or ten – he can pretty much pick any number from his group) of our senators have violated the ‘spirit and intention’ of public service and, even tho there was no law proven as yet to have been broken, the morality and the indulgence, the sense of entitlement and greed nauseates me as your prime minister.  So, I have asked for their resignation.  In fact, my aid, Nigel Wright and I have offered the senate accounts committee the money to ‘pay back’ for their selfishness and their disregard for doing the right thing.  I have no idea how things got this bad but I’d rather pay this debt from our own pocket than have the Canadian public go through it.  Can you imagine all the piggy behaviour that might come from others if this kind of thing goes to trial?  It’ll cost us all a fortune!  And take forever.  All I can add going forward is that maybe we will go backwards some day.  Just for a change.  Start at the beginning of the day, ya know?  And, when we do, we’ll pick better people for the senate.  We will pick honest, unselfish Canadians who recognize their primary duty to serve others and not take for themselves.” 

And he would have looked good doing it.

But, you see, saying that kind of thing and doing that kind of thing requires leadership and our politicians don’t lead.  They follow.  The best they can do is react because they do not ACT.  Had Harper shown some strength of character and leadership, the Duffy issue would have won him votes, not lost him any.  As it is, he is likely to skate by using the plausible deniability clause (AKA: permission to lie and cheat on someone else’s account). But I mention it because this is the crap that passes for leadership in Canada these days.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”  Warren Bennis

“……leaders will be those who empower others.” Bill Gates

“Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”  John Maxwell

Which of our great leaders is doing any of that?

Musing

Stephen Marche, writing in the NY TIMES, had this to say about Canada, Harper and the upcoming election.  I couldn’t agree more.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/opinion/sunday/the-closing-of-the-canadian-mind.html?_r=0

And…it makes me think…………hmmmmmmmmmm………….

The way Marche writes, he implies that Harper is a bit ‘mental’.  And, of course, I agree with that, too.  But, if that is true, how did a nut-case get to be PM and keep the job for so long?   Doesn’t that mean that either Harper is NOT mental and I (and Marche et al) am wrong?  Or, maybe Harper became mentally ill AFTER the fact and maybe BECAUSE of the job?

Or could it possibly be that the job REQUIRES a person be a nut?  Certainly we believe that most politicians are narcissists and that is considered a bit crazy depending on the severity.  We also believe politicians are controlling (indeed, that is why we have the government in the first place) and ‘controlling’ can be dysfunctional depending on the severity, too.  And, so it goes.  We seek people (and they seek us) for essentially a dysfunctional relationship.  How whacked is that?

“So, Dave, what is your stupid point this time?”

I guess I am asking the question: Do we really need politicians at all?

We need administrators.  We need accountants.  And we need bureaucratic managers, to be sure.  Maybe we even need a good-looking spokes-model now and again….(there has to be a use for pretty young people who can talk silliness while smiling widely and grinning intensely besides ventriliquism and general good humour).   But do we need politicians who, for the most part, just bring partisanship to the equation? They basically bring only bias.  They bring ‘personal’ and ‘party’ agendas to what is otherwise just a big institution that manages and redistributes our taxes in accordance with the constitution.  Couldn’t anyone with a 3-digit IQ and a high standard of ethics do that?

Couldn’t the philosophical input that changing conditions require be submitted by social media?  I mean – do we need MPs at all when we can vote directly on issues within minutes?

For example: SHELL has just been given permission to drill for oil off the coast of Nova Scotia.  Why not?  Doesn’t every coast deserve an oily sheen and black-slick marine life? That is all bad enough but Shell managed to write into their contract that – should a drilled oil well go awry – they will not have any obligation to ‘cap’ the runaway well for 21 days. That’s right – they have to get it capped but they have 21 days for it to spew poison first.

So, I signed a petition to influence the ‘deal-makers’ to rescind that provision and make them act quicker. In real life, they will likely do as they please – they always do – and our sole remedy will be a fine that they pay by charging us more at the pump.   But my point is: aren’t I and all the other 50,000 signers expressing our democratic rights directly in that instance?  Couldn’t I do that on every issue?  Aren’t I doing that better than any MP?

My MP is John Duncan.  He is an idiot and a waster of taxpayer’s dollars.  He retains a limo driver to such an extent that the driver racked up in overtime (last year) the equivalent of the average Canadian wage.  IN OVERTIME!  The limo driver was required to wait in the car while John dined and partied and did what he did best (which was nothing). The guy made his govt. salary as a limo driver to the elite of this country (I am guessing at least $60K) and then made almost the same amount again in overtime!

Do you think John Duncan read that Shell contract?  Do you think John Duncan reads anything?  John Duncan is the ‘mouthpiece’ for Harper when Harper is away.  John does what Steve tells him.  He does nothing more.  He does nothing less.  He is a mannequin. He doesn’t stand up for his constituency.  He does not stand up for the fishing industry, the coast guard, the health system, education, veterans or any other issue that our area voters may hold dear. He keeps to the script and he eats in restaurants while his limo driver makes out like a banker.

Isn’t a web-based, social media, petition directly speaking my opinions of more use to me than John Duncan? Is it not quicker?  Is it not more effective if 50,000 others sign with me than John eating lobster with some oil baron even if he went to so far as to do that?

Canada is wondering if we need the senate at all.  Many are calling for the abolition of the upper house.  And, I agree.  But I may go a step further…. why not get rid of them all? Replace them with SUM of US or LEADNOW or the whole roster of petition drafters.  Let the people speak directly to the issues and let us cut out the middle-meddle-muddle-fuddle men!

I admit that the above is a radical thought and not likely to gain any immediate traction but, really, isn’t it heading that way?  Eventually?

Plausible deniability

Interesting phrase, don’t you think?  It is cynical in the extreme, it reveals much about the way business is done and, essentially, it (the phrase) is a lie-in-waiting.  Here’s why: it is either a 100% lie or it is a 100% condemnation of the subject claiming plausible deniability (pd) to being stupid beyond belief.

Re: Duffy, Harper either didn’t know about ‘some things’ when he should have because it was a big deal, it was close-to-home and it was possibly illegal.   Or else he did know but, because he has a fall-guy-filter in the form of a Chief of staff, that person gets thrown under the bus if required.  There is no ‘win’ for Harper. Crooked or stupid.  And, worse, hiding behind someone else’s skirts makes him Nixon-esque.  The irony is that whether Duffy is a crook, Harper is a crook or else they are both incompetent, they both look bad.

They both smell.

Nigel Wright even comes across as stupid because he did what the Con party said was wrong.  Imagine that?  The Con Party said, “Don’t bail out Duffy.  He was wrong.”  And they did it anyway and then they are caught covering up.

I am inclined to go for the plausible deniability position simply because that is why they have Chiefs of staff – to act as the backstop filter.  And that is the way they do things.  The mud stops there.  But what does that say about our leaders?  It says; “Well, we are going to have some nasty stuff goin’ down and I don’t wanna get sprayed brown and smelly when it happens.  So, let us create a few fall-guy positions and, even better, let me just charge them now with ‘KEEP ME SAFE. DO WHAT YA GOTTA DO BUT GIVE ME PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY!’

In other words: We play dirty.  We play to win.  And we do not tell the truth.  

It is the way politics and, to a large extent, big business is done.  And NOT just in Canada. If you think otherwise, get a really big screen and subscribe to the Disney Channel.  You are living in a fantasy.  We live the BIG LIE all the live-long day.

 

 

 

 

No freedom of assembly, no traveling, no freedom of speech

Harper announced yesterday that he will ban Canadian travel to countries he doesn’t like if he is re-elected.

He doesn’t like Russia. So, presumably, Russian-Canadians can’t go home again.  And I can’t go with ’em even if I wanted to – which I don’t (I don’t think I like Russia much, either) He isn’t keen on Pakistan, Somalia, Ethipoia and well, I am guessing…Venezuela…so those folks with relatives there are also now trapped by the new Harper one-way ticket policy to Canada.  ‘Course the Middle East is largely off-limits, I am sure.  Mind you, he likes India and China – despite their human rights shortcomings – so I guess we can go there. Exception to the rule: he likes Israel but not Syria…some parts of the middle are OK?

I wonder how he feels about Thailand, Argentina or Portugal?  Ya know, Fid might wanna go back to his roots someday….jus’ sayin’…

Doesn’t matter, really.  He has made his point: YOUR travel to a foreign country will not be permitted without first obtaining Harper’s approval.   Kim Jong-Un (N. Korea) feels the same way.  They are both leaders, don’t ya know?  Maybe North Korea will be on the OK-to-visit list?

Seems I will soon need my prime minister’s approval to travel outside of Canada? It is a small step from that to being forbidden to leave the country at all.  Who would have thought that a Canadian would experience such oppression?

Mind you, our scientists were gagged a few years ago.  And, to their collective shame, they have remained silent for the most part.  Our MPs have been ‘whipped’ into pudding and, for the most part, they seem to like it so they aren’t complaining.  Not doing much of anything, really, except bleating in unison and cashing their paycheque – no heroes there, I am afraid (except Elizabeth May).  Very Pre-WW2 Germany-like.

But, to be fair, I have pretty much petered out my own traveling bug, the odd country notwithstanding, so I was not planning on going too far afield myself.  I mean, I have been to all the places where I really wanted to go and so I would have been pretty content to stay home rather than try to stretch my ever-shrinking 70-cent dollars to afford a hostel in Turkey or a souvlaki in Greece, anyway.

Not so much now!  Now I want to go where Harper doesn’t want me to go.  The bastard! NOW  I may have to travel as a form of protest rather than as a manifestation of personal interest.  You see, I like to think that I am FREE TO DO AS I PLEASE (within the bounds of reasonable legal constraints, of course.  And good taste).  And I intend to do that.  So, arrest me when I get back from Turkey, you dictator. Taser me.  Lock me up, Adolph! You ego-maniacal bastard!

My minor dilemma: if I am truly free and I don’t want to travel anymore, why should some anus forbidding me to travel have any effect on me whatsoever?  It is only by being knee-jerk responsive to that dictatorial act that I truly lose my freedom….oh, what the hell….I hate the guy…that’s a good enough reason all in itself!

The key word is reasonable.  And he is not.  NOT in anything I have opinions on, anyway. He and I disagree – fundamentally – on who is and who is NOT a terrorist, for instance. And now, Stephen Harper is proposing to unreasonably restrict my legal freedoms – AS IF I WERE A TERRORIST!

And not for the first time.  He already restricts your right of assembly by requiring permits for protests and harassing associations and societies (with Rev Can) engaged in political work he doesn’t like – not unlike Hitler and Stalin did to their people.  It is that simple.  This is government oppression.  Soon they’ll be issuing coloured arm-bands but, don’t you worry your pacified little head about it.  They will be issued to the Muslims first.  Then some damn coloured folks.  Maybe First Nations next.

You’ll be fine if you’re white and moneyed.

We have had government exploitation forever.  We have had government criminality forever.  And we have had government corruption forever.  But we have not experienced too much in the way of direct personal oppression ever before. Well, not white folks, anyway.  Some newcomers to the country have been hassled.  Some have had their land, homes and fishboats taken away. Others spend years in prison.  And some poor souls get tasered and jailed and sent packing or to the morgue for no good reason.   But your basic, bona fide three-generation white Canuck has been pretty much free to do what their wallet and their wives will allow.

NOT ANYMORE!  That kind of freedom of choice is over if Harper is re-elected.

On whales, squirrels and wasps

Whales.  Humpbacks, this time.  Four of them.  Rolling, swooshing, even breaching and pulling off big flop-body bangs not two hundred feet from our deck.  We saw them go up the channel and then we saw them come back a few hours later.  One of them was a baby but bigger than a new-born.  Couple of tons, I would guess.  Pretty neat.  Nice to see.

Even nicer was the rain yesterday.  We got a day-full.  It was good.  Real good.  We really needed it.  A lot of places really need it but we got enough to sustain our water source likely though the rest of the summer.  Especially with what we have stored in our cisterns as well.  The ‘worry’ seems over for awhile.  Our ‘source’ is a big, flat area like a high elevation marsh that soaks up the water like a giant sponge and then trickles it out in a remarkably consistently flow given the naturalness of the situation.  If we get rain once every two weeks it is enough to keep us in good flow all season.  This year, it dwindled but it did keep flowing.

Got all our fire-fighting stuff up and operating.  That was a chore.  Two big tanks installed (separate from the cisterns), tuned and fired up the pump.  Fresh fuel.  Hoses strung at the ready.  Fire extinguishers checked, a few new ones added just to be sure.  I figure that one gallon of response within five seconds is worth way more than five hundred gallons ten minutes later.

Carburetors proving I was a bit premature in my earlier celebrations.  Still acting quirky. Still stalling out when least expected.  Carburetors, eh?  Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without…..

The visitor flow has started up in earnest.  Grand Central, we are.  August, our month of popularity. Could be worse.  What if we were even nicer and had July, too?  Actually, September is pretty booked, as well.  Which is a function of our age…..when you are younger, summer ends on Labour Day for school and work reasons.  But, when you are retired, you can stretch your summer past the usual limits and maybe miss out on some of the two-ferry wait crowds.  Our circle is almost entirely made up of retired people.  So, the tourist season is a smidge longer for us.

Environment is changing.  Again.  Aside from the heat this summer, the wind patterns were very different.  Precipitation non existent.  Salmon are bunching up in the area ’cause there isn’t enough water in the streams for them to go up.  That brings more seals and Orcas and, for reasons inexplicable, there were fewer eagles, herons and even the ravens were less than frequent visitors this year.  They still attack on shopping day, of course but, otherwise, were often busy elsewhere.

Got squirrels up the wazoo.

This summer, I have seen quite a few garter snakes and salamanders.  Very cool.  We like them.  But ‘quite a few’ means four or so sightings when, for years, we saw nothing. So, it is NOT a migratory event or a climate change indicator.  But, speaking of migratory, there seems to be fewer birds about this summer….jus’ sayin’….

…..and we had the wasp season from hell this summer.  Gazillions.  So, I dunno….is it changing?  Yes.  Does it always change?  Yes, I kinda think it does.  Is it changing more than it used to?  Yes, I kinda think it is.  So, is that it, then?  We doomed?  Yep, I think so. I think it is all over.  We are toast.  The whales, squirrels and the wasps are clearly taking over.

Oh yeah, and the urchins, too.  They are everywhere in the water.  Could be the dawn of the urchinstene era.

We are doomed.