Community Meetings

Not my finest hour.  Not my finest hour and half, actually.  Everyone was talking and making nice.  Our MLA was there looking earnest. I just seethed.

She has been looking earnest and pleasant for twelve years now and counting. Content, too.  Maybe even a bit smug.  And, in my opinion, she has accomplished little to nothing that whole time.  In fact, in those twelve years she has been to our community meetings only twice.  This was the second time.

Why did she come?  Well……………..there is an election coming up…….

The meeting went on for awhile as the various and often magnificent volunteers told of their numerous accomplishments in the community in a style not unlike students do for the teacher in an elementary class.  It was good.  It was nice. Some mentioned needs and plans for the future.  It was all typical community meeting stuff.

I hate that stuff.

Could be me, I suppose.  

It was also noticeable to me that none of the work done was attributed – even in part -to funds given by our MLA or Provincial government.  Although the Regional district was acknowledged for their continuing good efforts.  They are good. We have a good rep there.

The Feds, of course, have been absent in so many ways and our loss of Comox Radio is turning out to be a problem.  But no one counts on the Feds for anything. And none of the plans or projects suggested were addressed to the MLA even tho a few of them were entirely within provincial jurisdiction.

Clearly we do not ‘see’ the senior governments as doing much for us.  We never said anything to her, asked her for anything or put our MLA on the spot. She diligently took notes which looked like work.  It wasn’t.  And we were nice

But I wasn’t.

I had had quite a few conversations over the years with our MLA (mostly written) and they were always overwhelmingly unsatisfying and limp.  Often not responded to.  She was like cold custard, like Congee. They leaked off into ether and time and forgotten-ness.  Not even left firmly in memory….somewhere else…almost dream-like. Talking/writing to her was like talking to a smiling automaton while being slowly but heavily sedated. Her hand shake is a dead-fish.  She said or wrote blah, blah, blah and I would respond and so on but nothing was ever done. It was horrible.  It is also typical.  Smile-pasted-on, deflecting, looking sincere and concerned, saying nice things………..I have had enough of that.

Mind you, I have had enough with all politicians lately.

I hate that, too.  I WANT some hope.  I NEED some hope. Sadly, I GOT NO hope! Not from them, that’s for sure.  (I actually DO HAVE hope – in the almost invisible, definitely subtle, quirky underground local economies working at the neighbourhood and village level all over the world.  People are quietly revolting to established politics.  But just at a nano-level.)

I even asked her once if she had any power and she assured me that she was influential in the party (NDP).  “Good.  Then make them do something.  Fix ’em.  You are the one our hopes are riding on because the Liberals are crooks.  Prove that you are better.  Get ‘er done!”  That conversation was eight years ago.  Nada.

Yes.  Of course, I offered to help.  If you are gonna make demands, you have to do your part.  She didn’t want or need my assistance.  Offered free of charge.  

In my last missive to her I asked if John Horgan even existed…… the party is a specter, a shadow, a mist of nothing and getting less and less all the time.  “If you are so influential, why have the NDP seemingly de-materialized?”

Anyway…………bottom line: I am NOT happy with any government (even those in other countries) and you can imagine how I felt about this impotent and enabling group of limp nincompoops of which she is an influential member.  Isn’t that an oxymoron? Being influential and having power in a limp dish-rag of a group?

When I am NOT happy I say what I think.

I told her out loud and addressing all in the room that in 12 years she had collected over $1.5M in salary and benefits (I know it is more but that is her take-home).  She would likely collect another million if she quit today and just kept collecting her pension.  Did she think she had done a good job? She replied ‘Yes, I have!’.  

By any measure, she has not.  Bear in mind that the Provincial government gives us absolutely nothing but the one-room school which they threaten to close most years.  Bear in mind, any monies they do or should give us are OUR taxes in the first place.  They are just there to collect, distribute and take their cut.

They ALWAYS do that.  They never miss a paycheque.  The government takes theirs and more.  The opposition party takes theirs.  She takes hers.  They don’t give us ours.

Much to my surprise, she was defended by some.  Only two or three meekly replied in kind with my sentiments but, by and large, she remained unmoved, unchallenged and unscathed by the citizens so poorly served by her and the rest of the ‘entitled elite’ in government.  They like her!

I am guessing my own polling numbers tanked.

Well, that’s ‘community’.  That’s the way it is.  We have some great people out here. We don’t always agree but we get along.  We don’t think alike and many don’t seem to think at all but we all tolerate everyone and even enjoy each other’s existence now and then.

I am, it seems, the politically odd man out of a group of completely odd men and women.   I have expectations of our reps.  They are just happy to see ’em.

I hope never to get that accepting of politics-as-usual.

But I guess I need to stay away. Being nice and polite to politicians could be contagious.  Community meetings………………..

Putt, putt, putter…..

….and slowly, ever so slowly, the greenhouse comes into being.  “In the beginning, uh rather, in the eventuality, Dave and Sally will probably finish the greenhouse….”

But it has taken us way more than six days.  In fact, unlike God, we work on the seventh day and rest for six.

So, we are still not done.  But at least, except for a bit of caulking on the SE facing windows, we are inside and can work out of the rain.  We are about to start on the shelf-tables upon which the plants will sit.  I am already imagining the bounty…..which hasn’t helped with the pace of getting it done but it does instill a bit of enthusiasm.

“Geez, Dave, ya gonna get ‘er done before winter sets in?”

Depends on Sal.  And I am happy to report that the above mentioned enthusiasm finally being manifested is coming from her.  And THAT is what I have been waiting for.

Of course, quilting and yoga and squirrels still take top priority but she is at least ready, willing and able to carry on now. Like all our projects, I dream them up, then I initiate things by buying supplies and making a mess and then I nap.  She resists the idea, balks at the purchases, drags her feet through stage one and then helps like forced labour until we are about 25% done.  Then her natural drive to accomplish things takes over and she shifts into gear and things start to REALLY get done.

That’s when you put on your safety gear.

The first obvious indication of the BIG shift is when she wakes me from my nap by snapping her fingers and saying, “Hey!  That greenhouse isn’t gonna build itself, ya know!”

The second indicator is when she goes to the work site before me (that marks the 25% done stage).

Third indicator is when she carries on when I get tired and return to napping.  It’s a beautiful system, really.

Small setback:  I was going to show you some pictures but they were already loaded into her computer and that broke when she saw a mouse, shrieked, leaped in the air and, flailing wildly, landed on her screen.

So………………not only are we close to getting a new greenhouse, Sal is probably closer to getting a new computer.

And you wonder what we do all day………….


Something’s up.  Over the last six weeks – as I read various news sources – I have read that tensions between Russia and the US are escalating and then the news thread kind of disappears.  Kim Kardashian appears every day.  Donald Trump appears anew hourly.  And, of course, I can read about Pit Bulls in Montreal and the latest boy-offends-girl news all the live-long-day.

But the Russia story line is interrupted.  One lone report…then a week of nothing….then another…..

Both Sal and I got curious enough to search wider afield and, even with that, we are finding it difficult to get much information.  It’s there.  But it is NOT easy to find.

Today, some Russian diplomat stated that tensions were the worst they have been in decades.  It is no longer a cold war revisited, it is imminent real war complete with nuclear missiles.  Seems we are at Defcon something………….

Russian missiles have been relocated to Poland.  All Russian VIPs have been recalled to the ‘Fatherland’.  The UK and the US have frozen Russian accounts.

And the report I just mentioned that appeared on my news feed just ten minutes ago, is no longer there.  Can’t find it.  It’s off the net.  Gone.

I was not so perturbed when the first story was published (that I noticed) maybe two months ago…maybe three…………but, as the stories kept coming, I noticed.  Then I noticed that they were also always interrupted as if, somehow, it was published in error or else the story line was no longer current.

But then it would pop up again but worse than previously.

Now this.  When a story is ‘up’ for only minutes and then you cannot find it again, something is up.

New Ways

Book-club.  Sal took our guest who was visiting for the meeting to the other island’s dock when the day was over. As boat was coming in, she shifted to reverse and the boat slowed. She paused a bit to drift and then shifted to forward to nudge in. Nothing. Nada.

The engine was still running but the boat wasn’t moving.  Concern.  Confusion.  But they used the oar to pull themselves in the last couple of feet in to the dock and then do what all women do in a situation like that: Sal and her guest hug goodbye and then Sal helps her to carry her stuff up the hill.  Lots of good-natured chatting that the previous 24 hours (she stayed overnight with us) didn’t allow enough time for.  Lots of smiles, promises to write, reminders of other things and a few ‘be carefuls’.  More hugs.

There may have even been a few,  “Hey!  Look!  A squirrel!” s  but Sal is not admitting to anything.

But at least Sal cut that goodbye ritual relatively short, thank God.  “L is coming to the dock with more passengers, I have to go.  I may be able to catch a tow with her. Bye!”  

But, too late.  L had come, disgorged passengers and gone by the time Sal made it back from the upper parking lot.  One of the second group of passengers waited with Sal.  They called me.  I got Sal’s little skateboard of a boat and went over. They had a lovely chat during that time and I am sure some squirrels were admired as well.

Still chatting, tho, as I arrived.

But they had also determined the problem and, for reasons unknown, a prop that had been secured about six months ago and used every third day since, somehow managed to break the cotter pin, spin off the castellated nut and kiss the engine goodbye as it made a break for freedom in reverse turns. Down into Davey Jone’s locker.

We towed the boat home with the skateboard.

The nut is extra special in some way.  Stainless steel, of course.  Castellated of course.  22 mm.  Fine metric threading.  Different but not platinum, hand-carved or Russian-made out of spent uranium or anything.  $50.00.

For a nut!

The reader can interpret that last sentence as the cost of the NUT or  – just as valid interpretation to me  – the price paid BY the NUT.  Either way works for me.  As I paid for the nut with my credit card, I was stunned dumb.  I didn’t even ask why it was so expensive….I didn’t want to hear more stupid BS from yet another source.

There seems to be a virtual tsunami of BS rolling over all of us these days and, for a moment, my will to live was weakened and I simply could not muster even a protest.

We’ll fix it in due course (when the nut comes to the nut).  “So, how was bookclub? Fun?”  

“Oh yeah!  Really good.  About 18 people I think.  Even saw a squirrel!”  

Common sense or cowardice…?

Needed to pop into the hospital for some tests….hate that……go in healthy, come out sick….is the way I see it.  Or, worse, you don’t come out at all!  Hospitals are the shopping malls for bespoke diseases in my opinion.  But, anyway….storm warnings all day long. Everybody stay hunkered down!  Meetings cancelled, visitors stay home. The ferry runs 1/3 full.

But we have stuff to do!  First thing is that I may have sold my ‘parts’ bike, the 1976 Honda XL.  Secondly, the guy wanted to have a look at that damn clutch that isn’t working on the other bike….so, I reassembled them both and wheeled them across the deck to the upper funicular.  Carefully putting a 300 pound bike in a stepped, two-level cart perched high on a hill doesn’t always go well.  This time it did.  I should have waited for Sal but she was at quilting.  Got it down to the lower deck but simply could not get it off on my own.  So, then I waited.

Sal came back early and helped.  We half-lifted it down a ramp-from-the-cart and rolled it to the second lower cart.  I got the bike on to the cart, Sal went to get her boat.  I lowered the cart into the water and when Sal was alongside, wheeled it onto her little 11 foot skateboard.  The bike is almost 8 feet long.  Top heavy on that boat.

We propped it standing and off she went – looking between the rear spokes to see where she was going.  Seas flat, dead calm until some Trumpy went screaming right by her to get a look.  The boat rocked, the bike moved, the props fell out and so she used her strong left arm to keep it standing til the waves passed and then she replaced the prop.

I went ahead in my boat, got the truck, went to the beach, placed the back luggage carrier into the tow-hitch and got ready for her arrival.  She came in too fast, hit a rock, the boat rocked hard, the prop fell out, the bike began to fall.  Sal threw herself between the bike and the edge of the boat and was pinned – half in, half-out.  Inches from the water. One leg soaked. One leg pinned.  Bike was good.

We eventually got her sorted and the bike off the boat and onto the beach.  Then we pushed it up to the car and mounted it onto the carrier.  That was hard.  Then we drove it up the hill with the car and off-loaded it and into the trailer we have at the top.

Then we went back for bike #2.  Repeat.

By the time we were done, it had taken hours and we were tired so we went home and, the next day, left for the city (Campbell River).  First we attached the trailer to the Pathfinder.  Then we drove down the logging road.  Damn logging trucks needed passing.  Sometimes that can get dicey.  But we got there, found the guy and unloaded the bikes.  Then we went about doing our other chores.  Another town day so soon on the heels of the last one usually makes it a light trip but we got the truck loaded somehow.  Stayed at a B&B that night.

Next day.  Tests.  Everyone in the hospital talking about the BIG storm coming.  So, we decided to cut this trip short and make a bee-line home.  Maybe beat the worst of it.  “Oh, I forgot to tell you, sweetie, I bought an old treadle sewing machine.  We gotta pick it up on our way home.”

And, so we did that.

Now we are packed.  Plywood on the roof, machine on the carrier and the interior stuffed full of crap.

Got back to the boat.  Sky was like lead.  Air was even heavy.  Waters calm, tho. Felt like impending doom.  Got home.  Unloaded everything in five minutes onto the BRILLIANT lower funicular and went to tie the boat up.  Then we did our re-stocking of the home with the new crap jammed onto the old crap and we now have enough crap to keep busy til the end of time.

“So, what exactly do you DO all day all alone out there, anyway?”  

“Nothing much.  At our age, things can get a little dangerous.  Gardening mostly.  You know… and Netflix, reading, turning the compost…..couple glasses of wine.  That kind of thing.”

“Sounds nice, but I would be bored.  I need the city.  It’s the excitement, ya know?  Starbucks and all?”

It’s not often I have to explain myself (well, except to Sally, of course….daily….hourly, even…)

My last blog was not clear.  I apologize for that.  Buttons pressed, I tended to tangents.  But clarity is the whole point of writing. So I am going to re-state what I said in the last blog more cogently, I hope.  And briefly.  Sorry.

  1. Sexual behaviour in our era has been radically modified from times past. Some of it very recently.  And some of it I find a bit weird.  Almost all of it I find hypocritical.  And it has become a news topic ‘out of all proportion‘ as far as I am concerned.  Further to that, men and women have been to’ing and fro’ing over what constitutes ‘acceptable’ forever and it would seem apparent to anyone that the twain shall never fully meet. NOT completely. BUT WE OBVIOUSLY WORK IT OUT WELL ENOUGH TO KEEP US GOING AS A SPECIES.  Gender politics is the original never-ending story.
  2.  Trump should be condemned for his ‘locker room’ banter (mostly because it is not presidential nor is it common in the locker rooms I have been in but walking home after the game with your teammates…well, that is sometimes different), to be sure but, to my mind, he should have been condemned far more for his attacks on the Khan family, Muslims and Mexicans.  And a rich man running for president who has not paid taxes in his country for almost twenty years is beyond my comprehension.  How is he even eligible?
  3. The Republican party as a whole turned a blind eye to all the major flaws in his character but when he said he ‘groped pussy‘, they drew the line!  What the hell kind of value system is that?  A man acts like a pig by groping is enough to condemn him but hate-speech on Muslims and Mexicans is not? And they are PROUD of him for NOT paying taxes?  That says so much about the Republican party.
  4. No woman likes to be violated.  In any way.  Neither does any man.  But women have been voluntarily accepting compensation for sexual violation since the beginning of time. They have made an industry of it.  Not all women, of course, but many.  Especially in the USA.  Money, it seems, ‘makes it all better’.  And I find that behaviour deplorable, too.  And all too common. Tell me I am wrong……………. ?

OK………….on to the debate.  The media have it for Hillary.  The occasional commentator says Trump won primarily because he did not fold and implode.  I think they both won.  Hillary because she actually spoke like a proper presidential candidate and because the Donald was back in his typical clown-ish way after having been beaten up badly by the ‘grope’ story.  But…. (clarity at stake here)….they both lost.  

They both lost a helluva lot!  NOT for themselves but for the office they are trying to gain.  The big loser in the debate was the status and esteem of the Oval Office.  No longer is that hallowed ground viewed as a modern day Mt. Olympus.  It is now viewed at street level.  I saw the gutters.  It is a rooming house on the bad side of town.  If these people are vying to live there, I, for one, prefer my place.  In fact, I might prefer a clean Motel 6 over that stinky joint.  They debased the White House simply by being there and talking like that.

There were times during the debate, I actually cringed.  The conversation was so coarse that I was embarrassed for them.  Had Robert DeNiro walked on stage and punched the Donald in the face, I would not have been in the least surprised.

Someone should have.


Grabbing, harassing, molesting and doing business

That Trump is an outrageous pig is no longer news.  We’ve known that for some time.  In fact, they say ‘all men are pigs’ and I have to oink to that.  But, as Orwell wrote, some pigs are more equal than others and so Trump is clearly piggy #1.  At least this week.

I propose that we all get behind condemning piggery and pass laws and impose sanctions and generally join together in setting our collective hair on fire.  And chant:  Bad piggies!  (I am being sarcastic!)

Because, actually we have already done all that.  We have passed laws, created new behaviours and changed the social status of the genders and we have all burnt our hair clean off for the last thirty or forty politically correct, holier-than-thou years.

In fact, the topic is off the rails.  We now officially hate piggies even to the extent that a man is condemned for looking-with-lust at a woman.  If she has been breast and lip enhanced, made up to the hilt and is semi-nude, we still really should NOT stare.  It’s rude.  Talking to her may even constitute harassment.  That’s crazy!

So, let’s just say: that men-are-pigs is a given.  And we hate piggies.  We all hate piggies.  Piggies are bad.  Hmmm….that kinda means all men are bad, too, doesn’t it?  But, don’t we just have to learn to get along….like we have for eons?

Except gay men.  Or men who dress up as women.  Or change their bodies to become women.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Flirting?  Bad.  Gender modification?  Good.  Sex in 2017?  Weird.  

Unless, of course, the pigs are rich.  If they are rich, then they ‘can do whatever they want.’  That’s what Trump said.  And we know it is true.  We have seen plenty of evidence of money buying ‘accepted behaviour’ from women.  In fact, money-buying-acceptance from a woman is the oldest profession, is it not?

And, if they are rich, are they not fair game?  Can’t we say and do anything to get them?

So, rich pig #1 walks into a room and acts like a pig to a woman.  She is appalled. Outraged. Furious at the violation of her person.  She is gonna have the bad-boy arrested.  Unless, of course, he then pays her some money.  Then, it is OK.  So, poor pigs get prosecuted, condemned, shunned and vilified but rich ones enjoy pleasant interludes with the smiling beauties.

Money makes it all right?

Am I missing something…………?

It is also true that 50 Shades of Grey – a novel about sado-masochistic sexual behaviours – was a best seller.  AMONGST WOMEN!  It is also true that Kim Kardashian is famous and celebrated primarily for having a big butt.  It is also true that most of us ordinary piggies are gentlemen and behave ourselves.

What the hell………?

One could be forgiven for thinking that there is a weird, double-standard about our current views on sexuality that pivots not on morality, gender equality or even the safety of women but, rather, on the wealth and celebrity of the man or woman involved.  Trump is a rich piggie, thus a target.  Melania scored a bullseye on Fifth Avenue.  He was her target.  They are both living their dream.  None of our business.

But his campaign made it our business and this black hole of society’s sexual hypocrisy is obviously sick.

And confusing………

Especially for Trump.  He has been ‘doing this’ for decades.

There was some woman who claimed that he was a pig (groping, attempted rape) while she and her husband were doing business with him in Florida.  FOR SIX YEARS!  Then she divorced her husband and later dated Trump because ‘she was scared about her future’.  Then she left Trump with a ‘settlement’.

And now Trump is condemned by her and everyone else for his pigginess.  NOW? Of all times to complain about his pig slop, NOW is the time?  And they quote her?

Please do not get me wrong.  I am not defending Trump.  He is indefensible. Readers know my feelings about him.  He is way, way worse than just being a spoiled rotten piggy.  And I understand that NOW is a good time politically to drive a few more nails in to his custom, self-made coffin.  Go for it.

But American/western and even most foreign cultures either encourage, condone or accept that women flock to rich and powerful men.  They bait their hook for even really ugly ones.  And it is not because the men have great personalities.  It is because they have great big wallets and everyone knows that.

And now, in western society, if it does not go as the ‘hooker’ planned, they can sue and press charges?

I am NOT defending Trump or even lecherous behaviour. I am condemning our duplicitous social values and, in particular, the GOP that could turn a blind eye to everything else Trump but the word PUSSY.  What the hell is wrong with those people? 

If we are going to condemn Trump for acting like a pig (and we should), we also have to ask the women what they were doing being voluntarily in the same pen with him.   And, if the answer is apparent and obvious, we should just send the little piggies to separate corners and let them both wallow in their own filth.

Before you say it: I know that some women just innocently wandered within his grab-o-sphere. That’s different.  I know that.  

But my main point: no more collectively setting our hair-on-fire over this kind of crap! 

Jus’ sayin’………..




First of the season

Town day yesterday.  Same ol’, same ol’.  Trek in, run around, split-when-exhausted and dog-schlep the last leg to load stuff in-and-out-of-the-boat as dusk turns to dark.  That part is now routine monthly restocking and somewhat normal going for us. But yesterday was the first big storm of the nasty season.  Lots of dire warnings.

We were trying to be quick-like-bunnies. The idea was to start early, get it all done and escape the worst of it before it comes down like the hammer of Thor. And we mostly succeeded.  Soaked to the skin but setting a fire in the house just as the skies opened and dumped a literal waterfall, we did manage to beat the worst of it. Biggest plus was getting unloaded while the seas were still calm.

Can’t say as I was calm the whole day, myself, tho.

We so much appreciate the extra effort that town-folks usually give outer-islanders when they know you are on a ‘town-day’  Their usually casual and molasses pace picks up and they help you keep to schedule.  As a rule.  But, as a rule, we do not ‘play’ the outer-islander card unless stressed or simply by way of explaining why ‘coming back tomorrow’ doesn’t work for us.  It’s all usually pretty good.

So good, in fact, I decided to try calling ahead to have orders ready this time.  You know, storm and all?

That didn’t work.  The doctor’s office was supposed to call the pharmacy days before (even with an extra reminder the day before) but hadn’t.  Sal placed the call back to them while standing in front of the pharmacist who was annoyed that Sal was using the phone!  The doctor’s receptionist said, “Oh!  Oh, yeah.  I’ll do it now.”

That’s pathetic.  Sal would have been quicker carrying the paper.  That little hiccup added over an hour to the trip.  Why?  Because our order had to go into the ‘queue’ as per store policy.

I needed some more lumber and parts.  So, I called the BIG store and made the order.  “It will all be here except we don’t cut lumber til you are present.”  “OK.  Fair enough.  But every time I do that, your ‘cutter’ seems to be on a break or has disappeared.  Takes forever.  I’ll pay double.  Can you get it done?”  “Sorry sir, against store policy but tell me when you are coming in and I will make sure our guy is there.”  I told him.  And I went there.  And the guy was there.  17 years old.  First day on the job.  Couldn’t find the wood.  Barely found the saw.  Worked like a sloth on Valium.

He had to cut four sheets of plywood in half lengthwise.  I saw him do one.

“Yo! Dude.  Small hint:  You can run all four sheets at once.  Saves time, makes better cuts and all the pieces are the same.”

“Huh?  Sorry, sir, you are not supposed to be on that side of the line……..”  So, I stepped off.  That transaction took 50 minutes.  If I waited for him to lash the materials to the car, we’d still be there.

Last stop was to check in at the doctor’s office.  She had forgotten to get a BP reading while on her ‘remote rounds’ the other day and they love BP readings.  I like her so I was willing to do that.  But, knowing me, if I had to sit in the waiting room for no bloody reason for more than ten minutes, my readings would be off the scale.

AND I had just experienced an unforgettable hour with sloth-boy and then the always frustrating BC ferry.

“How ’bout I just tell you what my blood pressure is and we can all save time?”  

“I’ll just be a sec,” said the nurse, as she wrote in a file and ate some apple slices.

“Sit in the chair with armrests and we can do it in the waiting room.”

I sat.  Calmed myself down and started counting back from 600 (that’s ten minutes). I have had a personal policy for years: I keep my appointments.  Always.  You (whoever you are) get a 15 minute ‘allowance’.  After that, I am gone.  That applies to doctors, lawyers, gangsters and royalty as much as it does to anyone.  I keep my appointments. And I leave if you don’t keep yours.  She was quick enough, tho, but she could see I was ‘verging’ on leaving.

“Tough day?”

“Town day.  Always stressful.  Makes me tense.  And tense makes me grouchy. Grouchy makes me dangerous (i then growled at her).  I am generally a lot sweeter than this.  Cuter, too.  I’d try to get more likable for ya but that would take time and would actually make me worse.”

“Hahahaahahah……..”  (She thought I was joking)..“You said that you could guess your blood pressure…?”

“Yeah.  Days like this, 145/90.  Days at home: 120/80.”

“OK, let’s see…………………wow!  117/74.  Looks like you are handling the day rather well.”

It’s all context

We rarely say the time around here.  But when it is nearing dinner time, we tend to fix on it and say it out loud because Sal does not like to drink her first glass of wine before 5:00.  So, we KNOW 5:00 to the second.  And, when we are working on a project, we naturally seem to KNOW 2:00 pm approximately well (plus or minus ten minutes) because it is then we naturally need a tea-break.  But, basically, other than those two ’embedded’ inner clock-times, we are less than accurate, not enslaved by and less than conscious of the time.

We wake up when we want to which is anywhere from 7:00 to 8:30 am.  We retire to bed and a spell of reading whenever we want to and that ranges from 9:00 to 10:30…sometimes 11:00.  So, we are regular but not predictable, scheduled but not by the clock.  In fact, I never wear a watch anymore and, unlike most people today, I don’t carry a cellphone either so I never KNOW the time exactly.

But I am pretty good judging from where the sun is at.  I can get within 15 minutes or so if I work at it.

NOT knowing the time out here has few drawbacks, but it has one.  When you lose track of the time, by the hours, you tend to graduate that habit to losing track of the days as well. I am currently entering my senior years anyway and so I am adding the months forgotten to the syndrome now, too.  I hardly know what month we are in until we are at least a week into it.  I never seem to know what day of the week it is.

Missed my son’t birthday this month.  Only by a day.  He’s not the type to care, anyway.  But I did.  I only remembered because I saw the date on something and it prompted a reminder and it was a reminder a day late.  No big deal.  But clearly I have been swallowed by Island time.  I am a local yokel now.  At any given moment, I don’t know what time it is, I do not know what day it is and, half the time, I am not even sure of the month.

Apparently, those are the first questions doctors and emergency responders ask the patient if they suspect brain damage, concussion or dementia.  “Do you know your name?  Do you know what day it is?  Do you know what month or year it is?  Who is the president of the United States?”

“Uh, my name is Dave but you can call me ‘sweetie-pie’.  I answer better to that.  I have no idea of the time, the day, the month or the year.  And, God forbid, the president might be Donald Trump.”

The nurse turns to the attending physician, “He’ totally out of it, doc.  Completely whacked. Maybe too much pressure on the brain..may have to chop the top of his head off…waddya think?”



“I know NOTHING!” (Sgt. Schultz)

Disclaimer: I know nothing.  Not even as much as Sgt. Schultz did.

The world’s economy is flat.  Slow-to-non existent growth.  Inflation around 1%. Interest rates (at government levels) practically zero.  Many countries employing or considering negative interest rates.  And forecasters see nothing but more of the same for the near future.

Woe is us.

“US, kemo sabe?”

Not me.  Not my friends.  Your average wage earner has been fighting uphill against inflation, stagnating wages and decreasing government investment for decades. ‘US’ welcomes flat.  No one getting an increase in wages ever wants the prices they have to pay to rise to erase that increase.  ‘Leave it stagnate, for Gawd’s sake!  I may have a chance to catch up.’

So, what’s the problem?  For the average Joe, there is no problem except that wage increases are also just as unlikely so the stagnation is happening BEFORE they had a chance to catch up.

But that is NOT the economic problem being discussed today – not by the economists and governments and institutions and, maybe even the corporations.  Those groups have the foundation of their financial projections firmly affixed to SOME level of inflation.  Decades ago, an acquaintance of mine was the president of a major insurance company and he told me, “Everything is based on a 5% inflation.  Our investments, our payouts, our premiums our everything…5%.  We need 5% inflation just to continue in business.”  

So, they are not happy.  And that is why the governments have been still pumping in the cash (quantitative easing).  They WANT inflation.  The idea is to have so much money floating around, we all borrow cheaply and buy like crazy thus heating up the economy and creating the feedback cycle of inflation.

It’s not working.

So now these very same ‘experts’ are wondering why…..  “Geez, why ain’t this working?  I went to Harvard.  I worked at Goldman’s.  I know the economy.  THIS should work.  But….it isn’t?”

Our Harvard/Goldman geniuses know spreadsheets and Friedman and Derivatives. They know M1, M2, M3 and all the other sexy ‘M’s.  They even know how to short credit default swaps and currency futures.  These guys are smart cookies!

But they don’t seem to know people.  Not real people.  And ordinary people, for the most part, are THE essential part of economics.  In fact, economics is really just psychology-in-numbers-of-people-in-numbers.

In other words; most economists – focusing on just their numbers – are dickheads.

Well, not completely…..they have identified the increase in savings and the decrease in borrowing but they don’t know why.  They have identified the unpredictable China influence but they don’t quite know what it is.  They have acknowledged wealth disparity but haven’t made the connection that it inhibits the losers from buying – and creates MORE losers all the time.  They are smelling the smells but haven’t quite identified what’s cooking.

And they are missing a really big elephant in the room.

Baby boomers drove the economy for the last three decades and they are entering the non-accumulation stage of life.  They are downsizing.  They buy less.  They don’t buy real estate unless they sold one worth more and bought something worth less.  They do NOT lust after big fins on shiny cars anymore.  And the old TV works just fine.  And, really, do they need a new I-phone 10 when their I-phone 4 works just fine?  Don’t forget, the first tranche of boomers is even going to bed a lot earlier.

Hard to pump up the local bar and restaurant when you are horizontal and curled up with a good book.

Exacerbating the increasingly slow spenders on slow food and slow cars is the poor, impoverished generation following dolefully (both sense of the word, ‘dole’ as in welfare) behind unable to even afford to rent.  This hapless group has been dubbed the sharing generation and part of that is not idealistic but forced. They ride bikes because it is cheaper.  And healthier.  But cheaper comes first.

In other words, two whole, huge segments of the first world’s population simply are not in spending mode.  And they won’t be until Generation Boom dies off and leaves Generation Share their inheritance.

And there is more.  It goes back to Adam Smith’s basic principle of supply and demand.  If there are only ten phones and one thousand people want them, the price goes up.  But, if there are a thousand phones (thank you, China) and there are only ten customers, the price goes down.  Simple, basic economics, right?

Not quite.  Phones are not like loaves of bread.  We need bread every day.  One phone will likely do you for a long time.  Especially if you are old and still use the phone to just make phone calls.  So, innovators innovate and offer up I-phone Mark ll. Mark lll comes next.

But, in a dynamic society where the next generation was integrated early into the BIG game, light-blasting, molecular transporters would come next, NOT I-phone Mark XX.  In other words, by losing generation ‘share’, the world has stagnated in innovation, too.  Those kids living in your basement are NOT experimenting and taking risks except, perhaps, with drugs and video games.  They are NOT the new Edisons, Fords or even Musks.

Plus, the products are just NOT as sexy.  The customers-with-money are old and so are the products on the shelf.  Seen one big screen TV, seen ’em all.  The problem with the planned obsolescence economy is that the cycle gets faster and faster as the market gets older and slower.

Ironically, in the age of technology, it is innovation that is missing in the market place.

One more crazy point: Real estate.  Real estate has been a major driver in the economy since boomers hit their reproductive years.  And it will continue to be a force because the population of the world hasn’t dropped.  But the big global bubble is over.  Maybe NOT for some places because Chinese money and Russian money is fleeing and looking for a haven and because more and more places are becoming unlivable but, for the most part, the big, initial, post-war baby boom demand is done.  The only reason it is still a bit of a factor is that mortgage rates are so low.

But that is like blowing on the embers of a dying fire.

So, what’s in store?  I dunno….I am not an economist.  But I know me.  I am a very typical, ordinary guy.  I am so average that Stats Canada once wanted me to pose on a brochure as the average Canadian.  So, the way I am feeling is the way a lot of boomers are feeling.  And I recently told a real estate hustler (in Panama) that I wouldn’t buy real estate ever again.  I won’t live long enough.  Like George Burns once famously said, “I do not even buy green bananas.  I even have to pay for a three-minute egg in advance at my local coffee shop!”

Ol’ Dave is just NOT a major consumer anymore (exception: one Yamaha outboard sometime, someday, maybe).

We MAY invest in what keeps us alive longer (pills and healthcare) but even that has limitations.  At a certain point, you don’t care enough to take your pills.  And, when that happens, it will herald a new economic time.  When we boomers go, things will start up again – missing, sadly, a lost generation to the basement suite – but it will start up again.

One possible exception to that forecast as I see it: if the planet gets any more toxic, the world will ‘innovate’ as fast as they can to survive.  That may work.  It may not.