Time for a change…

…in the blog.

I don’t know into exactly what the writing will morph but it needs to change. Readership is fading.  Nothing like the always-fickle market to give you the news: “We are not buying your product anymore.  We’ve changed our minds.  We are going elsewhere.  You suck!”

Which is fair.  Even I got tired of the ravens.  And I am getting a bit shrill about politics. That some readers also got tired of my dark ravings seems only fair.  Life goes on.  And I shouldn’t.  I get that.

So, where to next?

I was thinking of writing cheap B movie scripts.  Buddy cop-type shoot-em-ups.  Cars exploding.  Naked women running around in the background for no apparent purpose to the story line.  That kind of thing.  I’d be good at it.

The new Dodge Hellcat (latest muscle car- 700 hp!) warrants a movie in itself!  Billy Bob Thornton and Lawrence Fishburne are homeless guys, ex Vietnam war vets.  They get along by busking in front of liquor stores.  Kinda crazy but funny.  A drug lord leaves his Hellcat running while he ‘offs’ a street-level dealer and the old guys, on an impulse, jump in his car and steal it. “What the hell!  Let’s go to LA and then we dump it.  So what!”

It’s a morality play.

But they find drugs and money and a few guns in the car and are having a helluva good time as they just ‘boot it’ down the west coast with the Russian gangster chasing them in his ‘vette along with his gang of bad guys in Hummers and G-wagens.  Black, of course. Maybe a helicopter.  The story line is a chase movie with homeless buddies and Russian gangsters.  Sorta Blues Brothers with a short Bucket List meets Fast and Furious.

Or not.

I dunno.

I said to Sal the other day, “Maybe we should try our hand at another book?  This time with the full intention of writing a book rather than just compiling blogs.  Waddya think?”

“Go ahead, sweetie.  I am not in.  I am quilting now.  You are on your own.  Knock yourself out!”

“I can’t do it without you!  Especially if it is Dave and Sally do OTG volume 2!”

“No.  No!  Absolutely not.  NO volume two!  I can’t stand it!  I can’t stand the idea of it!  I can’t stand the idea of you doing it even!”

“Good!  Now that’s the kind of passion I am looking for.  You are in, after all!”

“No, I am not.  Take up another hobby for God’s sake.  Try fishing or something.  Go hunting.  Carve.  Whittle.  Whatever.  But leave me out!”   

“Whatever, eh?  Really?  I was also thinking of writing a steamy sex novel, all kinky and all.  But I’ll need a research partner. You in?  Or do I have to recruit someone from outside?”

“That’s it!  We are done here!  I am NOT talking to you anymore today.  Maybe forever! Your readers are right.  You should be neither heard, seen or read and I, for one, am joining those leaving you in droves!”

“You want some tea?”

“OK.  Just don’t talk!”

Who we are….

….according to a company specializing in analyzing folks by their postal code.  Environics Analytics thinks of us as: Heartland retirees – one of 67 or so sub-groups of lifestylers.

We HRs are retired or semi-retired boomers fond of motorized 4wd vehicles and we live rural and simply.  We are empty-nesters mostly who have time for basic outdoor activities and even knitting.  There are 472,000 of us in Canada and we have a lower-middle income with mixed educations and background work experience.  We own our own very modest homes and like the outdoors.  And, it seems, we are much the same as each other.

Being white, is what I am guessing they meant by that.  But they didn’t say that except to say that we are the same and so far, the only thing I seem to have in common with most of my neighbours is skin colour.  Most of them are as mad as hatters!

Coincidentally, Sally also ran a social quiz on me today on mental health (answering for me, of course) and concluded from it that I was eccentric.  I ran the same test – answering for myself – and my resulting category was ‘balanced’.  One of us has an odd view of the other one, I am guessing and, frankly, I think SHE is the eccentric if, for no other reason, than picking me to live with!

Plus – isn’t it a little whacked to run a personality test on someone but you do the answering?

The really interesting point is that some marketing group operating on minimal information (I hope) has managed to quite fairly categorize us.  And, even though there are a half-million of us, only 75 or so live within a couple of hundred square miles.  How the hell did they put our postal code into that category?  Those bloody algorithms, eh?

So, what with my tell-all blog, our book, the modern science of data analysis and Google Earth, we are clearly prominent on the radar screen of some geeks.  Worse, we get mail and the barge comes twice a year.  Eyewitnesses!  We may be off the grid but not very far off and they – the bastards – can see us more clearly than Sarah Palin can see the whites of the Russian’s eyeballs.

Go OTG but know that there are crosshairs focused on your back by government and industry by way of the wonders of technology.  They know where you are.  And now they know WHO you are.

“Unh, Dave!  Isn’t that a bit paranoid?  They may know roughly where you are and who you are but they don’t care.  You are old and verging on senile. You are safe.  They are NOT watching you.”  

I know.  And, if they do watch me, they’ll likely fall asleep from boredom.  I am quite intrigued with my life but napping and crude carpentry do not make for boffo TV. Not for BIG BROTHER types, anyway.

Not today, anyway.

After Bill C-51, things may change.  They will change.  The natural consequence of taking on those Orwellian powers is using them.  They might pick me up for indecent exposure if I pee in the woods.  They might get me for howling at the moon a capella with the wolves (must be a law against that).  Hell, they could pick me up for using a product after it’s expiry date or pulling the label off the mattress.  They already see me all too clearly and even I am barely accepting of that sight myself.

If Bill C-51 passes, your life and mine will change.  For the worse.

Sprechen sie Deutsche?

Nien.  Me, neither.  Interesting language, tho.  NOT for the faint-of-heart, that’s for sure. Each conversation feels like a battle is just beginning, don’t you think?  An argument at the very least.  Sounds like growling and coughing, kinda.  I like it.  But, I’d prefer to speak it in the company of smaller people, ya know?  Big ugly guys speaking German is scary.  I dunno…..call me crazy. But big, ugly French guys sound like they are whining or explaining or something. No threat there.  And big, ugly Jamaicans speaking their patois make me want to sing and dance, ya know?  Could be just me.

Anyway, I mention it because our book has reached another step in the Germanic publishing industry.  Some Swiss people are looking at it for the purposes of translation and distribution in the Deutsche-speaking world.

That could be fun.

We didn’t write the book to make money (which is really, really good since, so far, we are still subsidizing it) but an author gets invitations.  Book clubs, book stores, radio interviews, that kind of thing.  We didn’t write it for that reason, either, but a little chat now and then with people asking questions can be fun.  Now and then.  Infrequently.  Twice or three times maybe.

UNLESS it is in Germany!  Now THAT could be fun.  We have friends there.  Close friends.  Doing a book tour there could be pretty neat.  And Germans love the wilderness. They can’t get enough.  I can tell them all sorts of crazy nonesense…they won’t know.

“Oh yeah, we kill bears alla time.  Mostly for the skin, eh?  But we eat ’em, too!”  

Germans own the most land in BC after Canadians and they are not far behind us measuring by the acreage.  They seem to buy vast tracts of wilderness for some reason. I dunno what intrigues them so much but they do like the wilderness and, by association, wilderness authors.  So, if our book gets published in German and the publisher wants us to do a dog and pony or bear and wolf show, we’ll don some mukluks and go to Octoberfest to talk forest and trees to them.  That could be fun.

I’ll keep you posted.


Obvious…but we didn’t know…

A book reviewer wondered about the lack of practical advice and how-to hints in OUR LIFE OFF THE GRID book.  They wanted to know more ‘instructions’ and wanted to get ‘advice’.   The assumption, of course, is that after having done the move and the building and then following that up with the actual residing and living, we might know a thing or two about living OTG.  And, we do.  One thing.  Maybe two.  Precious little, actually.  It was and still is largely a crap shoot in chaos with unpredictable and confusing feedback.

We’re still sorting the data….

But it is fun!  That’s conclusion  #1.  Number two: we’re gonna keep playing at it at least until we get the hang of it.  Which, judging from our chaos level so far, I am estimating will take 30 or so more years.

And I am mostly serious.  I am mostly not kidding.  Organized chaos, perhaps? That is how we feel about it still.  We are STILL learning after all these years.  Still enjoying each other’s company and we are still having lots to do.  So, we’re good.

But what of the advice they asked for, …really?  Well, there is no advice as to whether to do it or not.  There are no facts, data or lessons that prove the concept.  A crapshoot is a crapshoot.  Still, I do have a little advice…..

Don’t commit to it.  Taste it, instead.  Get a cabin.  Rent a cabin, even.  BE here (or there). TRY it. See if it works for you.  I think you will need at least one six-month full-on immersion to get a feel. Two years of summer cottaging MIGHT do it but it is not quite the same as being on the ‘spot’ longer than the summer folks…ya gotta know what it’s like when you are so much more on your own and that happens when the weather changes.

If you build, consider this concept: ZONE-living.  Plan for a small house, well insulated with a good kitchen, bathroom and one large bedroom.  Maybe a small living area.  Then, just outside of that, a bigger, still-insulated space that serves as a big living area and veranda-kinda thing. Space for the service room (electrical, freezer, mud, etc).  All of those two areas are under on big roof. Outside of that, a large covered area (maybe even under the same BIGGER roof but it is airy, open, maybe screened in some sections.

Think: wrap-around porch.  It gets cold out there in winter.  Then, outside of that, deck. Lots of deck.  Decks for BBQ’ing, working, sitting. Decks, decks, decks.   Maybe some potted plants, arbor, umbrellas but, basically, open deck.

Then you transition to the ‘outside-but-close’ area in which are the sheds, workshops, storage, water, greenhouse, genset shed, guest room with second bathroom….the kind of space that is ‘steps’ away from the main house but not yet ‘somewhere else’.  Outside of that is compost, fruit trees, gardens, lawn (if you must) and basically an area that your dog might consider the pack’s immediate domain.

Finally, a less-than-full-bush buffer zone between the dog’s empire and the wild forest. The wild forest is the place where you feel you are NOT home.  If it feels like home at all, it is still transition zone.

These living zones are the actual zones we have.  Or feel.  We do NOT really have them; NOT by design, anyway.  But that IS the way we use our space.  If I had to do it over, the house would have been a bit smaller and we would have more ‘outdoor-rooms’ before getting to the covered deck area and so on.  Why?  Because as the season cools, we hunker more around the wood stove.  When it gets warmer, we move out.  The stove stays off from May til October.  The outdoor temperature regulates where we stay.  If it is chilly, we are inner.  If it is sunny, we are closer to the outdoors.  By summer-time, we are almost always outdoors.

How big is a small inner house?  For us, 1000 sft.

Then we started spreading.  If you add up all the space we think of ‘living space’, we are at 2500-3000 sft.  By the time the dog lets go of his patrolling responsibility, we are at two acres.  75 – 90,000 sft.  I have no idea if this is typical or not but my immediate neighbours (who live very different annual schedules than we do) are not too dissimilar.  Each ‘influences’ an acre or so.  Each ‘lives’ like we do – in, when it is cold.  Out when it is warm.

It isn’t rocket science but it is something we were NOT conscious of when we started. The above-described zones are something we learned-while-doing.  It would constitute advice in the sense that you are NOT likely to live like you do in the city, in well-defined spaces and boundaries.  In or out.  Out here, you will live to your natural space and that described above is what we grew into.

Advice!  Insufferable, isn’t it?

Game on!

Silly season has begun already.  Tourists.  Fishers.  Kayakers.  The first of the ‘seasonals’ are upon us.  Bit early, this year.  Usually it gets going sometime in May (long weekend-ish) but with such a mild spring, they are out and buzzing around already.

Over-wintering sun-birds have returned.  Summer neighbours are in touch – making plans. That’s all good.

But things have changed in one short half-year.

The star-fish or sea-stars on our coast have been devastated by some kind of wasting-away disease and they are the main consumers of small urchins.  So, absent the stars, urchins are in full bloom.  So now, many more sea-birds are on the beach having uni (sushi term) for lunch.

DFO mismanaged the prawn fishery in the usually ignorant and catastrophic way they have with all the fisherys (despite being given information that would have saved it) and so our prawn season is already a bust. Just before the commercial pillage begins, the prawning is usually good.  It is a two week window before the pros 600-odd trap lines go down  and we can usually get ten or so pounds for our year before they hoover up their allotted tons.  But neither of us are likely to get lucky this year.  The prawns just ain’t there. It may be the oddness of climate change.  It may be over-fishing.  It may be any number of things but we have more too-small-to-eat urchins, less juicy fat prawns this year.

Fid warded off the advances of an otter wanting to squat on our little point for a few days in a row.  That is good.  Otters tend to stink up a place.  I love seeing them but, preferably, down the coast a mile or so is just fine.  Haven’t seen too many seals.

Come to think of it, Fid chased off a mink that was trying to set up a homestead under the house a week or so ago, too.  He’s been good this spring although the squirrel definitely has Fid’s number.   The squirrel is simply too much for Fid.  Too hard to see, too small to catch and simply not afraid of silly old Fid.  Fid only has bluster, hardly any bark and no bite (unless you are a human male over 16 in which case your butt is up for bites!)

Ravens are gone again.  Eagles are in.  Spotted a nesting pair of Canada Geese.  Fewer seagulls than ever before.  Fewer herons, too.  Way fewer hummingbirds but it is not quite the season for them – not yet.

I saw a big black fin-less leathery tube-like creature the other day.  I just caught a glimpse of a rolling black body that was whale-like but without any fins or markings or even any splashing.  Not a clue what it was but it was the size of a sea lion with the surface appearance of a whale.  Could have been a Minke but even they make more noise and splashing plus they have small fins. No idea.

But it all adds up to the season beginning.  More life showing up for the summer.  It’s simply the way it is.  I like it.  And I like it when they all leave, too.  The dead of winter can be peaceful.  We don’t usually opt to stay for the deadest part but we have been here year ’round a few times and know well the dark days, the short days, the days seemingly without sun.  They can be bleak but they can also be private, peaceful and primitive in a hunker-down and hibernate kind of way.

Variety is the spice, eh?


Reflexivity – the study of Hungarian feet?

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley,”

“Murphy rules: what can go wrong, will go wrong.”

The Law of unintended consequences.

No good deed goes unpunished.

Whatever plans you have, whatever numbers you have budgeted, whatever you think you will need, the one thing you can be sure of is that that scenario is wrong.  It will be something else.

The act of observation changes that which is being observed.  (Heisenberg postulated this for the sake of quantum physics.  It was called the ‘Observer Effect’.  And it has been proven.  Which is ironic in itself.)  

All of the above is known to be largely true but we plan anyway – eternal optimists that we are.  But not so much George Soros, the originally-Hungarian, now-American billionaire philanthropist.  He believes that nothing can be truly known and that science is more than fallible, it has fallibility built in. Error is part of every equation.  Every plan is inherently flawed if, for no other reason, because we are planning.  And observing.  Planning and observing are active and real influences that affect the plan!  It is circular in the extreme.

Of course, I KNOW that.  I can’t think of a single plan that has ever worked out 100% as anticipated.  And, truth be known, every thing wonderful in my life that did work out is largely the result of divine and sublime luck, chance and fluke.  Ask me to tell you the story of meeting Sally some day – one of the most unlikely occurrences with the most unexpected but fantastic outcome known to man!

So, what is the point of the blog this time?  Well, it could go on and on but I was reminded of all that when I heard of Harper’s ‘plan’ to send a message to Russia by sending 200 ‘advisors’ to Ukraine.  ‘Advisors’ being a euphemism for soldiers.  A phone call, it seems, is not good enough for our boy, he sends messages by platoon.

The planned-for consequence of this so-called message?  To tell Putin that he can’t push Ukraine around.  Bluster, bluster, rattle sword.  Exit stage right.

What MIGHT be the unintended consequences of that act?  I shudder to think.  In fact, I am not going to think about it because, by definition, this is one of the grandaddies of all made-by-mice plans and it is most likely to gang aft agley.  But it does remind me of another axiom: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.  

We know which one Harper is.  Where is this fool taking us?

The irony to Soros’ theory (reflexivity) is that, knowing that everything and everyone will ‘go wrong’ gave him the perspective to profit from their errors.  In effect, he planned on their errors to get it right.  Getting it right for him, anyway.  He got right while those around him went agley. So, his theory is proven wrong by his employment of it to get things right. Irony.  Circularity.  Murphy.

Still, he is $40 billion to the good so he may have something….?


Is it a conspiracy?

I mean, really?

More and more people are moving into the city.  The rural areas are emptying.  Why is this?  Some people think it is a conspiracy.  They think there is a plan afoot to get everyone into little boxes like rats in a big central laboratory.  The Matrix Reloaded. THAT makes no sense to me but I must admit that there seems to be some supporting evidence.

Consider the BC ferry system.  The costs to use the ferry have more than doubled at a time when other costs have dropped.  Admittedly, fuel is a big factor in transportation but the conspiracy theorists point out that imported goods have dropped in price despite the fuel used to deliver them.  As have air fares (relatively).  Notable exception: flying to Haida Gwaii – costs twice what it costs to fly to Toronto.  And there is no doubt that higher ferry prices have damaged island life on the BC coast.

But here’s the latest example.  We have barge service out here.  We pay for it when we need it. We pay a lot.  But, having said that, they deliver a lot and they are an excellent service.  In fact, they are, along with the post office, the ONLY service remote islanders enjoy.  I pay $1.50 or more a liter for gasoline and almost twice the going rate for propane but the option is to burn a lot of gasoline to go get a small amount (the amount I can carry) of almost-as-high-cost fuel from the neighbouring island to put in my boat so that I can go get more.  It makes financial and environmental sense to pay for the little I need if I don’t have to go get it.  Seriously, I would burn as much as I use in a month just going by boat to the next island to get it.

The barge service is great.  It has been operating safely for over thirty years.

Recently our government mandated all such barges be double-hulled.  As if our government was concerned for the environment or something.  Which they most assuredly are NOT.  Anyway, our barge guys went and spent millions doubling up their hull as per instructions.  Now they are awaiting approval.  It has not been forthcoming.  It has been 14 months.  They are now officially ‘overdue’ for their ‘inspection’ by several months.  They can be closed down.  Even though they have contacted the ministry countless times to indicate compliance, they have not been certified.  They are worried. BIG government cannot be trusted.

So, they get closed down.  So another little guy gets squished by government once again. So what? Injustice happens.  Get over it.  Do what the rest of the sheep do – move to town.  Stop doing that ‘remote thing’ and comply.  Resistance is futile.  You will be assimilated.

Well, that is the conspiracy theory summarized, anyway.  Little by little, step by encroaching step, they are making living rural and remote harder and harder.

I don’t subscribe to that theory.  Too Machiavellian to be plausible, I think.  But there is one point made that makes sense….the fewer people living remote, the less oversight and witness there is to increasing natural resource exploitation.  Now THAT is simply just true. It’s a fact.  No people = no witnesses.

Consider the recent oil spill in English Bay (now reported to maybe being larger than first thought)…..that spill was in the heart of town, so to speak. Took 12 hours to respond. How many oil spills or bilge pumping pollution happens OUT OF SIGHT?  How many clear-cuts are NOT seen?  How many Mount Pollys go unreported simply because there is no one to see?  Who is served by such lack of oversight?

The bible exhorts people to ‘bear witness’ as a means to thwart evil.  Maybe the conspiracy theorists are right.  Maybe they are trying to get rid of us.  Maybe they don’t want us as lab rats so much as simply not being out here to see the crimes being committed.

Camping fees in parks have gone way, way up.  Canada Post keeps trying to close the post office.  Conservation officers and in-the environment jobs have been cut (NOT the office jobs in Ottawa, tho).  The Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans have no boats.  They are closing down some more Coast Guard stations.  Lighthouse keepers have been axed. Rural people are more vulnerable to fuel price hikes.

Doesn’t matter if there is a conspiracy or not, the bottom line is that there are fewer and fewer witnesses out here.

And there seems to be more and more evil……………..

OIL SPILL! Stanley Park! OMG!!

Some ship accidentally pumped 700 gallons of bunker oil into the pristine waters off Vancouver’s jewel of an urban park.  Stanley Park is rightly valued and prized.  It is the exception in what is the usual urban blight of big cities.  Outrage is warranted.

‘Course no one in that ‘world class’ city noticed or responded for something like 12 hours! The timing is being debated but it was at least 7 hours.  They got a leaky boom out after a great deal had already hit the beaches.  And this is the ‘world class’ response to a world class city’s most beloved area.  This is like the centre of our province imagery-wise, and we were asleep at the helm.  And the ducks died.

Imagine a spill anywhere else on the coast.  You have to imagine it because no one is there to see it or report it or respond to it.  Our coast is more exposed to pollution and slime than a porn star.

A spill on the coast would be horrendous.  It will die.

And so will a number of other creatures in the Stanley Park spill according to the aquarium staff.  Only 700 gallons (average amount that an SUV uses in a year) and there is a world class finger-pointing, responsibility-ducking hysteria in full-blown blaming-of-others.   It is a minor disaster in a world of disasters but it still qualifies – especially as a disaster in management and governance.

As an aside, Enbridge didn’t show up to volunteer their help (there is an unsubstantiated report that Enbridge owns the spill response company that eventually did show up – and will bill for their time, I am sure.  It was substantiated.  They DO own it along with KinderMorgan Pipeline – the two potential creators of disaster have a for-profit company to send out when they screw up and so they can bill us! )  They of the lying-variety ads that professed that ‘they lived in our communities and loved nature’.  The province did ‘squat’ but, to be fair, they have not invested in any kind of relevant response to anything environmental for decades including the latest debacle – Mt. Polley.

The Feds did…kinda….by way of the nearly eviscerated Coast Guard who did what they could given that they are no longer situated where they needed to be – the local station having been closed by the Feds two years ago.  The boat they would have used was in mothballs.  And, of course, the city that is selling out just pointed fingers.

World class?  If that’s world class, it sure ain’t good enough.  Responsibility, accountability, real work? Missing in the inaction.   Politics and blaming?  Everywhere.  It’s embarrassing.

But here is the real reason for the blog (yes, some of it is for venting, I admit that freely). People showed up at the beach offering to help.  People volunteered instantly.  The citizens responded without waiting for the blame to be placed or even for the proper equipment to be in place.  They came with towels and bags, I guess.


And THE AUTHORITIES PROHIBITED them from getting near the scene of the slime!

Does that make any sense?  Isn’t that ‘instruction’ to stay away almost in the same category as screaming ‘Get on the ground!  Get on the ground now!’ from police exercising some type of misplaced control response founded in nothing logical whatsoever?  Why not let the people help?  So what if they get gooey?  They are over 19 (presumably) and know what cleaning up an oil spill means.  Why do the people listen to those idiots?  Why didn’t the people save the duck anyway and just say, “Well, after I have saved this little tyke, you can take me to jail.”

The disaster is NOT just in the oil spill.   Like our politics, like our society, like our collective dysfunction, the disaster is in us.  (For the record, there were reports of people doing just that – disobeying the authorities-  and helping anyway.  Great people in my book!).  I swear that had I been there – and I am just as afraid of being shot and tasered as the next guy – I would have disobeyed the authorities and saved a duck!  Call me a crazy criminal if you want to, but I would do that (as did a few Vancouverite free thinkers).

Wouldn’t you? 

Bit o’ nature fer ya

Fiddich, the dog, barks a certain way when he sees something in the channel and thinks we should know about it.  Generally speaking, he just barks for boats that are headed towards our shore and whales.  Sometimes a sea lion.  Rarely a seal. Eagles, ravens, and osprey go unheralded mostly because he never looks up.  He occasionally sees a mink, otter or some other mammal but this was not a ‘land’ alert.   This was a warning of something interesting on the water.  This was an ‘all hands on deck!’ bark.  You can just tell.

We went out.

A transient pod of orcas was moving up the channel and we saw them.  So had Fid. But they were way across the channel and so it really wasn’t relevant news.  A few dorsal fins and pffts was all there was, really.  We turned to go in.   We thought Fid had over-reacted.  He tends to do that now and again.

Then we saw it.

Just off our beach is a large rock.  It is half-submerged or half-exposed, depending on the tide.  It is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.  Right then, it was half exposed.  And tucked in right behind it was a seal.  And it was busy keeping the rock between it and the orcas.

Taking Cover

Taking Cover

Even though the orcas were almost half a mile away, the seal barely made a ripple on the surface.  It moved imperceptibly so as to stay in place but there were no large seal-a-swimming type movements.  He was making like a Lilly pad.  This guy was hiding.  Laying low.  Making himself small.

And that is how we knew the pod was transient.  Transient orcas eat mammals such as dolphins and seals.  Resident orcas eat fish.  And resident orcas are mammals so even they hide from the transients.  The seal was definitely hiding.

It was not a David Attenborough moment.  It was just a bit of nature that you rarely see. Hide and seek for real.  Seal and orca.  It was pretty neat watching that seal taking care of itself and not getting caught out.  He/she was a long way off from the threat but still went into stealth mode and stayed put.  It was as invisible as it could be for as long as it took for the transients to be far enough away so that the seal could slip out from behind the rock and head in the opposite direction.

That distance was about a mile before the seal felt safe.  Once the transients were that far north, the seal headed south.

And we went back in the house.  And you thought Downton Abbey has drama!

‘Here! Try my glasses….’

Rob Wood is a friend and neighbour on the island next to mine, a retired world-class mountain climber and hippy philosopher who is just as boring as I am when it comes to sharing his thoughts on life.  Maybe more so.  He (and I) just doesn’t seem to get that most people couldn’t care less what he/we are thinking.  But, upon learning that I have discovered a few innocent victims (you) who might listen now and then to such rants in this blog, he allowed me to partially reprint an email he shared with me:

I am impressed with Naomi Klein’s claim (the book: This Changes Everything) that for our species to survive the threat of catastrophic climate change we must abandon obsolete belief systems (myths) that are driving the fossil fueled juggernaut of modern society.

These dangerously deluded myths are: first, that humans are superior to the rest of the world and therefore have the right and capability to dominate and control it; second, that we are separate from nature and can therefore use and abuse her bounty without any cost to our selves; third that survival of the fittest justifies and even glorifies unmitigated self interest, competition, violence and greed; fourth that wealth is the necessary precursor to happiness. Underlying them all is the almost psychopathic delusion of righteous moral certainty.

To make matters worse, wealth and power are being centralized in the hands of those with the strongest vested interest in perpetuating the myths and suppressing meaningful alternatives. The fox is running the hen house with increasing authority to convince the hens it is in their own best interest to comply. This Orwellian nightmare is orchestrated through incessant brainwashing and propaganda which thrives on the fact that most of our thinking is not actually conscious but rather the automatic replaying of subconscious cultural conditioning; tunnel vision.

Even in our personal lives most of us are very busy pulling blinkers over the eyes of ourselves and our children. Ironically, conscious brain power, the very attribute that is supposed to make us superior and separate, is exactly what we rarely practice.

Whereas it may be true that civilizations have always been controlled by powerful elites with vested interests in perpetuating their view of the world, it is also true that many civilizations collapsed because they collectively failed to adjust to the changes in the environment brought on by the consequences of their myths.

What is different this time is that the consequences of our myths have the potential of annihilating our species along with many others.

It seems the choice we now face, both as individuals and collectively, is between continued allegiance to institutionalized dogma –the myths – or becoming more conscious of the fundamental survival messages in our social and natural surroundings.

Recent extreme weather events are finally inducing people to wake up and pay attention to what the Earth might be telling us. The possibility of the environment telling us how to live represents a radical shift in the prevailing cosmology; one that is struggling for popular acceptance because it challenges the vested interests of the status quo. 

One way to read Rob’s message is that all the systems, they are broken.  I stated that in a small way (last blog: Duffy is a symptom) and Rob is saying it again on the more important, larger scale; the whole system is broken – a term I refer to now and then as the BIG LIE.

But here is the bonus prize-in-the-box of boredom that is our preaching:  Rob points out that seeing this now so clearly is a direct result of living in the midst of natural beauty.  It is so much easier to see what is truly important when your mind is free of the junk and clutter of running with the rats, working for the man and driving in traffic.  As H.D. Thoreau pointed out, walking in the forest tends to clear away the cobwebs.  Rob thinks nature is to modern man what prescription eye wear is to the short-sighted. Everything important becomes more clearly seen out here.

In other words, folks, we are the lucky ones who get to live in the forest.  And – just for the irony and serendipity of it, I will share this weird little fact with you;  Sally’s eyesight is 30% better since we moved out here.  That’s right, her ACTUAL vision also improved with age.

So, there you have it – improve your vision both literally and metaphorically by living off the grid.