That was fun!

Sex, religion and politics.  What else is there?  Really?

Sadly sex has being overdone these past few years, I think.  Thanks to Paris Hilton, Kardashian and all the other closets that have been opened, there is little left to imagine or talk about.  Too bad, really.  It used to be one of my main interests.  Now, not so much? Could be me, I suppose.

And religion?  Look where that is going?  Faith for some means kidnapping, beheading and blowing stuff up.  Or pious rigidity to the point of absurdity.  Plus there are all the still-silly costumes the high-priests wear.  Just like the old days, really.  They just aren’t evolving, are they?

Mind you, politics isn’t doing much for me these days either.  So, it is likely just me.  I’ll get on to other things.  Have to.  Back to OTG, for sure.  But, I’ll have to return to Trump now and then. I can’t help myself.  And there is the absurdity of the Martin Sheen.  Hard to make this stuff up.

Seems David Suzuki, Alex Morton and that champion of beach running, Pamela Anderson, have taken the Sea Shepherd’s yacht, the Martin Sheen, to ‘observe’ the fish farms around here.  It’s a peaceful protest of sorts (made for TV).  And we are all generally opposed to fish-farming so it is supposed to be a good thing.  Having said that, I am generally opposed to celebrity for celebrity’s sake and this strikes me as an absurd example of that.  But, then again, it could be me.

I am obliged to admit that my expressed sentiment is also partly due to my softening on the fish farming issue.  I still oppose fish farming for all the known reasons and mostly because of the sea lice and waste these operations create but I have been keeping close tabs on them for a few years and find them improving all the time.  They are clearly still in my environmental bad books but they have also put a few farms on land (an improvement) and they are reducing their use of chemicals and antibiotics.  They are also looking into new protein sources (bugs) and they are generally improving their staff, their knowledge and their practices all the time.  I now give them a low C-, up from a failing E just a few years ago.

But my biggest re-think on this issue has been that commercial fisheries tend to deplete natural stocks. That is NOT the case anymore if the fishermen run them (as they are allowed to do with some species) but under the supervision of DFO, a fishery can be and usually is decimated.  They are currently doing that out here with Spot prawns.  I contacted DFO on the fact that the prawn population in our area was at an all-time low just as they opened the season this year and their response was, “Well, if the prawns are wiped out in your area, the fishermen will move away.”

You have to wonder what we pay those idiots for.

But, before I move on completely……….a big thanks to Wrong John and Non-Con for their heated exchange in the last blog.  I love it when people express themselves.  Having said that, there is a developing ‘comment’ style on the net and it lacks in a lot of ways.  I have noticed it for some time but have not put words to it.  The commentators are NOT really exchanging information or conceding any ground when earned. There is nothing really new being added.  It is not a debate.  It is mostly what they call ‘flaming’. Insults. Anger.

The stuff from which Trumps and trolls emerge.

Real commentary is missing.  Instead there is word/spelling-manipulation like ‘Hitlary’ and ‘Crusty’ and ‘Lieberal’. In this case, it is not Wrong John’s fault, of course. Blog comments are implicitly limited and usually delivered off-the-cuff from the file labeled Pre-established personal biases and myths.  And most people often just copy the opinion of others anyway. They aren’t usually heavy with reason, logic or facts when they do that.  Nor original thought.  It’s like, “Up yours!”  “Oh, yeah, well, up yours even higher!”

I prefer wit or, second best, new information. At the very least read carefully what your opponent said.

OK, on to ravens, whales and ‘Oh, look! a squirrel’…..

We just had a pod of transient Orcas roll by this morning.  They did a little hunting just out front.  Got a seal.  Bit him up into pieces and, because they had little ones with them (2) and seemed to be rolling around them a lot, we think we saw Orcas feeding seal meat to their off-spring.  Hard to say, really.  But that is what we think.  Blood everywhere.  And whale watching boats, of course.  The most notable observation was the size of the BIG one.  That guy was HUGE!

Anyway – the point is that we are down at least one seal today but the squirrels and ravens are doing fine.

The Ugly American

For the record, the Ugly American was a stereotype (and a book and movie) from the effect of the modern tourism industry of the nineteen-fifties.  Not all Americans fit the stereotype then or now.  The standard American tourist back then was rich and acted like it.  They flaunted their middle class wealth around the world and generated resentment by being arrogant and obnoxious. And they were loud doing it.  The American tourist knew little of different cultures and didn’t care to. As a consequence, they were not well regarded by the populace of other nations. Not for a long time.  But that was then.  This is now.  

Or is it? 

I don’t like Trump.

I thought that my reasons for disliking him were based on facts and knowledge.  His ‘position’ and descriptions of Muslims and Mexicans, his ‘laws’ he was going to impose. The ‘brilliant businessman approach’ that he was going to bring in to make America great again.  All the lies and false claims he makes.  The insults.  The bullying.  And, there is more. Much more. They were and are all incredibly stupid and so I rationalized that I didn’t like him, you know, from a logical, objective, fact-based point of view?

But that is not the truth.  The truth is I just don’t like him as a human being.  He’s a boor, a bully and a spoiled brat.  And I really HATE the stupid comb-over.  I also viscerally react to the faces he makes, the pouts, the grimaces, the big-open-mouthed hollers.  He’s loud in every way.  The decor of his home is nauseatingly rich-pimp-and-brothel.  Sculpted silicon manikins haunt the hallways.  And he’s so obnoxious, I want to punch him in the face. Once would not be enough.  He’s pressing all my lizard brain buttons.  I have to confess: I hate him for being rich, too.

That’s not right.  Really rich people can still be good, can’t they?

But since I am obviously descending visceral in this, I have to point out that his ‘style’ is clearly and factually divisive and that bodes poorly for a world in turmoil.  Doesn’t bode too well for a nation divided either.  Is this man a leader?  I do not think so.

That is what I think, anyway. So, is that ‘gut feel’ or is that a fact?  Lizard or Dave talking?

You’d think my thinking process would mean I default to Hillary.  But, seriously?  She’s rich and walking the Wall Street walk, too.  She seems to have dodged more than a few legal bullets from the S&L debacle to private e-mails.  She’s steeped in the establishment that has spawned this unholy mess.  She smells wrong, too.  And it is NOT like she is making courageous and heroic speeches, making good healthy promises, nor is she showing any kind of leadership except for a desperate desire for the Oval Office.

She’s ambitious, I’ll give you that but so is Trump.  My lizard does not like her very much either.

And that is what brings me to my point.  I don’t like either of them and my guess is most Americans don’t either.  In fact, I haven’t liked many of those who contend for leadership in a very long time.  Anywhere.  Stephen Harper, Christy Clark, Boris Johnson, Erdogan?

The thing that blew my mind was that, of all the GOP candidates, Jeb Bush presented as the most sane and likable.  JEB bloody BUSH!  Why, the hell, is that? Are ALL politicians simply really BAD people?

Or have they just been reduced to pablum-people by the system and no longer even hint at being real or human or compassionate or caring?  Could that be it?  We don’t like ’em because they do not demonstrate any of the humanity, morals, values and feelings we have?

And, if they do (Trudeau and Obama), it seems to amount to nothing…………..

And is that the Donald’s appeal?  At least – and I mean at the very least – he seems sick and sadly, pathetically human. He is ugly, ignorant, divisive and narcissistic.  He is stupid, biased, selfish and a bully-boy. Trump is an All American Pig of the first order.

But, given their culture, their history and their education system, maybe a lot of Americans can still relate to that?

 

Planning for failure

Interesting, don’t you think, how a bureaucrat and a politician make a plan?  Assuming of course, that they plan at all…..

“Seems you guys in government have a Vancouver real estate problem.  Bad PR stuff happening here. You better gotta get on it!”

“Right!  Not our fault, of course.  We’re world class now, don’t you know?  So, who do we tax?  Where do we apply new fees.  That will solve the problem – for us, anyway.  We’ll get more revenue.”

“How will that solve the real problem?”

“People don’t like paying fees and taxes so they will stop doing it.”

“You mean like how they stopped paying the gasoline tax because they no longer bought gasoline?  Like how the rich people no longer buy fancy cars because of the luxury vehicle tax or the housing market has been kept affordable by all the myriad fees and rules and laws we apply in that asinine business called home ownership? You mean…like that?”

“Well, gee.  If we don’t tax ’em and we don’t spend their money, how do we do anything?”

“Well, it seems that you do very little as it is and what is done is usually wrong.  See the senate, the RCMP, the CRTC, the CBC and DFO for more proof.  Hell, look at just about everything the Liberal government does in BC!  The taxes and fees are already deemed too damn high and the people can’t even go camping!  You can’t take your kids camping in BC!  So, maybe there’s a clue in that…ya think?”

“Gimme an example of a better way.”

“Well, in just one small example …..if the government reduced all sales tax on solar panels AND allowed all Canadians to DEDUCT from their income tax the cost of installing a solar system to say, a ceiling of $35,000, then no new staff would need be hired, no Royal commissions, no standing committees, no white papers and no hot lines created and all the real work and wages would go to real workers doing simple installs.  The best part: Canada would make immediate strides in reducing it’s carbon footprint.  Mind you, the same would be true for applying such policies to electric vehicles.  No cost. Just results.”

“If we do that, we’ll lose a lot of revenue.”

“So, then, what you are saying is that it is NOT about solving the problem, it is just about getting a salary, is that it? You are not there to actually DO anything but just leech a salary and get your benefits?” 

“That is not fair.  And, anyway, leave me alone.  I am busy drafting up a new tax to be put on absentee Vancouver homeowners.  That’ll show ’em!”

“Show them what? You know that if the absentee homeowner can afford ten million dollars for a home, they can afford to put their kid or girlfriend in it?  And so how is a new tax going to make the house more affordable for the poorer young person, anyway? Isn’t that tax just about lining your own pockets once again?”

“So, how would you do it, smarty pants?”

“Well, I do not know what you actually want to do?  If you want growth and immigration, then just leave it alone and soon we’ll have another million rich people in the province.  If you don’t want immigration, then you’ll be accused of racism and isolation-ism.  You will likely lose your fancy position over that. So, what are you REALLY trying to achieve beside raking in more money?”

“Well, I guess we don’t know what we want.  We want their money.  We love money.  We don’t mind the actual people so much if they would just learn to drive better and stop shooting each other.  They’re kinda quirky and fun, tho, and I love their restaurants, don’t you agree? So immigrants are OK.  ‘Course, we want them to pay through the nose for everything and then work cheaply in the kitchens and farms so we hafta keep them classed as unqualified for our stupidly high standard jobs.  We want them to be peaceful and docile.  No gangs. We want rich, docile, nice people who know how to drive and can speak English and stay home at night. Preferably so healthy they do not need our hospitals. And with no kids! And they should be retired.  Rich and retired.  Is that too much to ask?”

“It’s a plan, Mr. Politician, but I wouldn’t bet on it.  In fact, it looks like a plan for failure at every level to me.  I say that because we have been at that same plan for a very long time and it has failed us and them miserably in the extreme so far. Can’t you at least – at the very least – let everyone go camping in their own province? Is that too much to ask?” 

 

Mindset

Life off the grid changes you.  One becomes, over time, somehow in some way, ‘rural-minded’.  Countryfied.  And, in the process, city thinking will come to seem silly – at least when applied to the country.

It is NOT something that is forced on you, it is not something you can easily define, it is not required and it is not essential or even that important.  City-thinkers do OK out here.  In the summer, anyway.  Instead, gaining a rural mindset is simply a more logical way of coping with things that didn’t exist in the city.  It is a way of thinking that requires much more outside the ‘urban-mindset’ box that I had no idea I, myself, was working within even five years ago. It has taken me awhile.

When you think about it, how could it be any different?  Different cultures and societies require different approaches.  This is a different life from that of the city.

I now think differently.  I act differently.  I am different.

I won’t bore you with Dave’s Excellent Adventure at the Rural University (DEAR U) any more than I have already in this blog and the book and I will also spare you all the changes I have noticed in myself and, even more dramatically, in Sally.  But a few are kind of interesting to anyone planning such a relocation. Get this:

When we bought our land in our intelligent, sophisticated, educated and accomplished group, we looked at the map of the property and drew lines as to who gets what.  Why not?  That is the ‘way it is done’, is it not?

Answer: that is the way it is done in the city (where we did it).

First nations didn’t do it that way.  Even early farmers and ranchers used natural topographical boundaries more than lines.  Prospector’s long ago were entitled to use a portion of someone else’s land that was defined as the ‘pe’en’ distance of a dog (the assumption was a prospector had a dog and a dog naturally marked his territory when they made camp – thus the ‘defined campsite’).  There are 50 ways to leave your lover according to Paul Simon and there must be at least fifty ways to define your living space as well.

It’s been that way historically forever.  Countries are defined by mountain ranges, oceans, rivers and deserts, too.  And look at the fine mess we are now embroiled in when the Brits decided to divide the Middle east by arbitrary lines.  And Pakistan and India, for another example.

But lines on paper work when land is relatively flat as in most cities.  Lines work when land gets valuable and people want their square inch.  Lines also serve governments and registers and lawyers and taxes and, especially, fence building.  Lines serve a lot of people not necessarily those who live on the land.

Lines are a relatively recent idea, when you think about it…….

And so it is on our property.  The lines we first drew don’t quite work.  It will not be a problem. Our group is logical and fair.  We’ll revise our ‘defining area mechanisms‘ but, in the meantime, our current lines don’t work.  That is causing some ‘cognitive dissonance’ “How the hell can we fix it without lines?”

“Well, there’s the ‘pe’en’ dog mechanism to consider….?”

All of which is fine…….. it is just an example of thinking like a city person rather than a country person.

Here’s a few more: when we first obtained the land, we made rules for everyone to follow. I initially imagined employing a shipping container in my design (ahead of the time when designers had made such an idea more appealing) and it was strictly forbidden.  We made a rule. Chopping trees was forbidden.  Aluminum siding was forbidden.  Obstructing the shoreline was forbidden. Building on the shoreline was forbidden. Lots of politically correct, idealistic, urban-based values were adopted.  We had rules!

The land has been here a million years and it will likely be here a million more but we employed rules for the nano-second we live on it.  Hubris in the extreme.

Rules don’t work.  Just putting a ramp and dock in place so that you can access your site ‘obstructs’ the shoreline.  Breaks every rule in the book.  And, anyway, that original rule was made so that one could walk the shoreline.  Walking our shoreline is physically impossible for about 75% of it.  It was an idea that was just not practical.

Not to mention that we made the rule when no one was even here to try walking it.

And so it goes.  I mentioned to a local couple that hunting on our property would be severely frowned upon by our partners.  To be fair, I added that I would likely frown as well given my own squeamishness with the idea.  “Oh!  City people!”  they said, derisively.

Again, to be fair, I do not KNOW that hunting would be frowned upon but I am extrapolating from our collective rule-making history that forbade tree cutting and beach obstructions. Shooting a deer, by comparison, seems like it would be a hanging offense.

But we are adjusting. Slowly.  We’ll get there.  Or get here.  Whatever.  We have been cooperative co-owners, after all, for over forty years.

The point: living in the country is different than city people can imagine without having done it.  If you are thinking of going ‘off-grid’ or even living rural on the grid, expect to change your perspective.  Life out here is different.

 

And, so…………

……..the saga continues.

As expected, the massive recent show of airborne force and over-the-top stupid bureaucracy has wafted away into the ether of office work. I am sure there are meetings being held somewhere and paper is being shuffled to and fro from office to office, from desk to desk. There are committees being formed, of course. Meetings.  Some of the paper is sitting on desks, of course, ‘because Madge is on holiday’ and ‘Bill is on sick leave’.  But the process is on. The wheels of justice, intimidation and due process grind slowly and expensively.  And, not in the least, mind-numbingly ineffectively.  But it is all slowly grinding, I am sure.

With luck, the main perpetrator will pass away before anything further happens.

And given that he is unwell, insane, in his sixties and walking amongst the domestic equivalent of IEDs and bear-traps that he calls home, such a statement is only a bit exaggerated.

There’s a book in it.  There really is.

On other matters, I am now attending to a little dog called Yacky, Yappy, Zappy, Zippy or something ‘appy’ or ‘affy’ like that.  Doesn’t matter, he doesn’t respond to any of it anyway. A pair of neighbours asked Sal to care for their dog while they were away.  Sal, of course, enthusiastically agreed.  “Oooooh, look!  A puppy!”  And then she left for the weekend to go see her sister.  So, it is just me and Daffy.

There’s a book in that, too.  There really is.

Prior to her most recent escape, Sal and I have been shingling our way through some battery-bank work.  I have some new ones coming soon but the old bank will have to do for now and they were simply not holding up their end of the deal.  Going a bit lame, they were.

Which is odd……?

I know they are old geezers.  I get that.  I can even relate.  I am sympathetic.  Empathetic, even.  But it seemed like they were fading a bit too fast even if they had the lead-acid equivalent of Shingles (which is called ‘sulphation’, by the way).  So, what the hell…..?

We took eight of the twelve off line, separated them into two groups of four and left them for a day.  We tested them when they came off-line and one in the first group was bad so I put it on a separate charger.  The other three in that group seemed OK so we just noted their state of charge (SOC to the battery hip).  The second group had a bunch of differing readings so we left them for the day to see how they ‘settled out’.

By the next day, the good three of group one were the same (one down a smidge) and the bad one – even with the charge – was still bad.  So, that told me I had a weak link in that first group.  The second group had two that dropped a moderate amount but two that stayed up.  So, after finding the best four, we put the system back together with eight batteries instead of twelve.

I now have one bad one, two OK ones and a moderately good one sitting on the bench. Almost 600 pounds of do-nothing.

Satisfyingly, the eight are working very good.  Of course, they are working better than the twelve had because the ‘dead’ guy is now out of the loop.  One dead guy requires two healthy guys to carry him.  So, it makes sense, really.  But none of my guys are young and healthy. They may be healthy for their age but they are old.  For lots of energy, it is best to go with young guys and my new recruits are on order and should be here within the month. In the meantime, we are paying special attention to our old guys.

Well, I am.  Sal is away.

Oh?  The Shingles….. you want to know about the Shingles?  Well, it’s boring but since you ask…… mostly gone. Some weird nerve pain here and there (I feel my appendix scar from almost 50 years ago!).  A few lingering symptoms.  Nothing horrendous. Diminished sex appeal it seems, being the most cruel and obvious.  A guy could get lonely with only batteries and a dog called Dippy for company.

I can’t wait to get cute again.

Good on ya, mate!

Not to make too big a deal about it but it is kinda weird….we have so much room out here between people and there is so much tolerance for eccentricity, that what occurred recently is pretty rare.  NOT without precedent, mind you, but definitely uncommon.

Someone made a complaint the other day to the authorities about a distant neighbour.  It wasn’t personal. Not really.  It was an act of civic duty.  A bit reactive, perhaps, but not entirely without reason.

The complaint must of had enough descriptive language attached, I guess, that the government decided to send in armed thugs by way of a helicopter.  Mind you, previously submitted complaints only resulted in hapless cops arriving in boats and standing around. So, this was an improvement, I suppose.  Movie-script-wise.

The chopper landed far enough away from the ‘crime scene’ that the two lead SWAT-types had to cover some considerably rough ground as they rapidly approached the targeted area through the forest on foot.  The alleged ‘perp’ was not home but his immediate neighbour was.  So, our government guys, Bruce and Willis, snuk up on him instead. (“Well, we have come all this way.”)

In a bizarre circumstance of timing, the second neighbour was out in his yard naked.

Such gamboling au naturel is not unusual out here and it is the main reason people are most often hailed by visitors from a hundred yards away on approach.  We expect different out here.  And we expect different to be occasionally unclad.  The authorities did not.  Nor did they announce their arrival in any way.  They just popped up out of nowhere.

It was a surprise of the worst kind.  No cake.

Neighbour #2 was more than just a bit shocked.  And, so were Bruce and Willis (I can imagine the PTSD claims now). Unfortunately for the SWAT team, neighbour #2 is male. He is also bigger than the two SWAT team members by a considerable margin.  So, of course, they remained in armed ‘attack’ positions (guns holstered, tho) while neighbour #2 tried to get his heart started again and, presumably, adopt the modest, two-hands-over position while looming darkly over two uniformed idjuts.  A few words were exchanged with a third bureaucratic-type and tensions eventually subsided. After awhile our flak-jacketed fools and their intrepid leader left neighbour #2 alone to reassess his life and reevaluate his dress code.

“So, what was the big deal?”

We have a bona fide, ten-out-of-ten whack-job out here, occasionally threatening folks, but who is currently more of a threat to himself than anyone else. He and his living space are a disaster waiting to happen in some way like spontaneous conflagration, plague, infestation or all three. Maybe more. Plus the adjacent sinking dock and disintegrating outbuildings are becoming an unholy garbage-mess of biblical proportions, a public danger to the unwitting and a hazard to navigation.  The authorities should act.  I am glad they did.

But, really? Helicopters and guns and flak jackets?

Two nurse Ratched-types could have handled the problem quite easily.  Thin hard lips, a clip-board, sensible shoes and a cattle-prod at the very most and the problem soon becomes part of local history.  If they follow that up with a heavy regime of sanitarium-type meds dispensed from some type of sanitarium, he’s handled.

The derelict docks and wharf will still need addressing, tho.

They’ll eventually get to it all.  Mr. Whacked will be tagged, bagged and medicated.  And relocated, hopefully.  The mess will all get ‘taken away’ at great expense to the taxpayer. And bureaucrats will continue to collect their monthly stipend.  It will take great gobs of time and countless thousands of dollars to ‘make it happen’ but the bureaucrats now have a bone (read: ‘client’) in their teeth and they are not letting it go – too good for business.

Can you imagine the cost of the helicopter, cops and lead-bureaucrat?  And that is just the smallest part of this slowly unfolding debacle.  By the time this asinine soap opera plays out, what with lawyers and all……..counting salaries……?  Probably $500,000.

If there is a counter-madness to it all it is that these same ‘civil authorities’ will ignore the mess and danger while they go through ‘due process’ (read: paperwork) dismissing any infrequent or accidental incursions of common sense into their slack efforts for as long as they can. So, it will drag out and the nut job, his mess and the danger to the public will persist and increase until some point of brinksmanship has been reached.

Canadian job creation at it’s best.

I, for one, applaud my neighbour #2 for maintaining his composure at the same time as our reputation out here.  In a single moment of self-exposure, he re-affirmed not only the general impression the outside world has of our area, he reinforced it.  They came for nut-job #1, met naked neighbour #2 in all his glory and then went off to file a report.

For the flak-jackets, the report writes itself.  With luck, our island will be designated at least Mar-Sec 1.

And neighbour #2 held up his end of things, if you’ll pardon the phrase.

Good on ya, #2!

 

Ghost writing

I wrote a blog a while back.  I liked it. Sal didn’t.  “You can’t say this!”

“Why not?  No names.  Nothing bad.  Hell, I even made one guy sound great when, in fact, all he really did was just stand there.”

“No.  Too soon.  Too raw.”

“Raw?  This ain’t Pulp Fiction, Sal.  It’s rural crap.  It’s basically just what happened.  How can you veto the truth?  You working for the government now?”

“Nope.  Can’t do it.  Just can’t.  Someone might get upset.”

“Well, I’m upset.  So, you are right about that.  But, just so you know, you aren’t the boss of me.  I can publish what I want.  So, nyah, nyah.”

“Fine.  Go ahead.  But you  asked.  And I answered.  And that’s what you get when you ask.  You get my answer.  And my answer is, ‘don’t publish that!'”

“Well, thanks for the input.  Which I will ignore.  I will probably publish it because I want to.  And it will be just fine.  And, for the record, you are a nut.  No one reads the blog anyway except Margy and Derek.  Sometimes, Sid.  They sure as hell won’t be upset.”

“You know what I mean.”

So, like a flaccid doormat made from pussy fur…….I didn’t publish it.

Hey!  I’m not myself right now.  I’m ill.

She is NOT the boss of me but, well, who needs the extra grief, ya know?  I mean, remember, I got Shingles.  I don’t need more aggravation in my life.  Ya know what I am sayin’?

But, seriously….she is not the boss of me.  An influence, maybe.  OK, an influence to be sure. OK, even a bull-headed, dominatrix-type strong influence.  Scary, too.  But she is NOT the boss of me.

Officially?  I just chose not to publish it.

This time.

Maybe tomorrow.  Or someday.  Maybe.

Don’t bug me.

Susan Juby’s Republic of Dirt won the 2016 Stephen Leacock award for humour.  She deserved it.  It is good.  I was not going to read it, out of spite and jealousy, but I had to know.  I am glad I read it.  R of D is good.  It is funny.  And it is well written.

Which is also kinda irritating.  Juby writes about stuff I was writing about.  We’re off the grid on a piece of granite and she is off on a hardscrabble farm.  Not the same but similar in many ways.

Worse, she used a style that I was going to use in our second book.  Kind of a dialogue. Sal would talk and then I would talk and the story would get told by two different ‘voices’ on things.  In that way, readers would get to know Sal more (she was more popular in the first book anyway and, generally speaking, in all aspects of our social life.  It just made sense to give her more ‘stage’ time).  But Juby did that with four characters.

So…..bloody hell!

To be fair, our dialogue wasn’t working anyway.  Sal talks less than I do.  My chapter would go on for ten pages and then Sal’s chapter would be three paragraphs.

“Sal, you can’t just write a one hundred word ‘take’ on what I took ten pages to write.”

“Why not?  You already said it.  If I say it again, it is just repetition.”

“Not if it is in your own voice.”

“That was my own voice.”

“Maybe.  But there just wasn’t enough of it to know.  Normally, you have tons to say.  That was three paragraphs.  Come on, try writing more…”

And so she did and she wrote five or so pages.  But when it was complete, it was not her voice.  It sounded familiar but it was not hers.

“What?  This doesn’t sound like you.  This sounds…..kinda like…..well, you are kinda writing like me!”

“I know.  I hate that.  I have been editing you so long now that my voice automatically turns out sounding like yours.  It’s sick.”

“Calm down.  Maybe my voice isn’t me either.  Maybe the voice I think I have is a Sally-edited version of me and you are really the one speaking…?”

“No way.  I wouldn’t say all the crap you say.”

“Hmmmmm………that’s true.  So, who is writing this stuff?”

Punching things

Dancing with Shingles is pretty much a full-time occupation.  I seem to have little time for much else and so the blog suffers from lack of content, OTG type or otherwise.  Plus, I am grouchy.  Still, despite the unpleasantness, the show must go on, eh?

So, let’s do something mundane: batteries again.  My old set is just that – getting old.  8D’s are expected to last five years if you are lucky and I am pretty sure we are well into our 6th year. And it is showing.  Where the batteries would fully charge during a long sunny day and ‘go to bed’ that night with a charge of say, 50.4 volts or even sometimes, 50.6, they are now retiring for the night at 49.6 or even less.  Well, actually 49.6 is good.  49.2 and even 48.8 are more common.  Clearly, the batteries are showing their age.  I am not going to go’dark’ anytime soon but now is the time to start looking for a new set.

Although, knowing me, I will stretch it out a bit longer.

A friend is representing Discover batteries and he is keen on them.  They will ‘cycle’ twice as many times as will 8Ds and L16s.  Or, so it is claimed.  If that is true, they will last twice as long.  Instead of stretching my battery bank to last six years, I can count on ten or twelve and maybe even a year or so longer.  Maybe.

8Ds and L16’s come configured for about 200 amp hours and the ‘replacement’ Discover battery is rated at 10 to 20% less so that will have some bearing on how many cycles are required.  So, it’s a bit of a trade-off.  An 8D is $300.  A Discover is $600.  So, cost-wise, it is a wash.  Still, there is something to be said simply for NOT having to do it again for a longer while.

“Geez, Dave, this REALLY is mundane.”

OK, here’s the part that might interest you: I can’t use just one.  I need a minimum of 8 and would prefer 12.  My choice: $5,000.00 or $7500.00.  To me, that’s a big number.  I bought my last car (a 2004 Pathfinder with 100,000 miles/160,000 kms) for $3500.00.  That car will likely see me out, as the Brits say.  Not the batteries.

Is it just me?  Doesn’t the cost/benefit/complexity/weight ratio seem all wrong to you? Eight batteries cost more than a car!  And get this for weird….twelve years ago when I first started this OTG thing, the BIG expense was solar panels.  I paid $5.00 a watt and got a good deal at the time.  Today, I can buy better panels at $1.00 a watt.  Solar panels cost 20% of what they did just twelve years ago.

Twelve years ago, I bought batteries for $100.00.  Admittedly, they were not as good as what Discover claims to be but the same ‘size’ battery (weight and dimensions) is now over five times that.

We’re still talking basic plates-in-acid technology!  Methinks there is something wrong with this picture.

Yes…………….the technology is improving.  Yes, five years from now better batteries for less money will be available.  Yes, the best plan is to wait.  But, by then, I will be in the dark so waiting is NOT really an option now, is it?

OK…so I have a bad attitude.  I blame the Shingles.  I will try to calm down.

So, my new plan is to wait………..but wait only until I have shed the Shingles and then I will start making some decisions.  If I make decisions now, I will do something irrational and punch someone at the very least.  Right now I want to punch Discover Energy.  And Elon Musk. And China. And MIT.  And Aquion Energy (sea water battery technology).  They are all failing my expectations of them.

That feeling is just not rational.  I know that.  That feeling is just plain silly.  Mind you, I advise giving me a wide berth just now.  Better for everyone.  Chalk it up to the Shingles.

Yes….I would like to punch Shingles in the face, too.

Dark Age?

I have a huge interest in economics.  Fascinating topic.  Not because I have much interest in money, however.  In fact, I have no interest in that medium of the devil since I am minimally comfortable.  Well, comfortable enough to get through the foreseeable future, anyway. After the basics and the necessities of life are handled, I lose interest in what is simply greed and hoarding by another name. On the other hand, I like economics.  Go figure.

Well, the figuring is easy, really.  Here it is: Economics is really just the study of group behaviour; it is psychology in an area that has lots of indicators and variables.  One could study, say, sports-watching fans and there are a lot of indicators to watch and measure in sports but for variation, surprises and drama, there is little to compare with the human story as told through economics.

I hate to admit it but economics is a much better story teller than even Cheap B shoot-em-ups.

So, what is economics telling us these days?

Lots.  And all of it interesting.  But before we go down that road, a little side-bar: money is not really economics and economists even say that.  They are mostly wrong but they say it.  And they are partly right too.  Money, to them, is like an indicator rather than the force or variable it really is.

I say that they are wrong because money is so fluid, so transitory and so much out of the control of people, economics or our business group psychology as we know it, it is not really a measurable a factor anymore but it is a huge influence, nevertheless.  An almost invisible one. Put another way: any government can simply print any amount of money they want and call it quantitative easing.  Money that is NOT there can be borrowed on a signature.  Money has become more than ephemeral, it is almost conjured-at-will.  Money is a con-job.

So now money is too easily produced, hidden, diluted and converted and so it is. So easily, in fact, it is done all the time and most money sources are way, way out of control.

We don’t know how much money there is out there.  Literally: we don’t know the numbers. Trillions, Gazillions, Bazillions?  M1?  M2?  M3?  M4?  (the ‘M’s are types of money that are not money but are used like money – like credit card debt). If you try to use the ‘measuring sticks’ they give you, you’d have to be way out in front of the ‘money counters’ and employ huge computers and you’d have to factor in debt and credit and gold and, well, it is an impossible task.  So, they mostly don’t do it.

And yet, you have come to rely on the common understanding that a pair of shoes costs $100.00 and so does a nice dinner for two or a tire.  We are still exchanging goods using a medium that has no credibility.

To the neo-classical economist, the study of the economy is based on the continual rationalization of group-think as it applies to product and services.  The idea being that the consumer or person-in-the-market does rational things with their money, the purchase of the odd line of coke or a diamond ring notwithstanding.  The simplest discrediting fact to that premise is that we do not, as individuals or as families or as groups or even first world society’s always act rationally.  We just don’t.  So the classic economic model is founded on a faulty premise.

Worse: money has no credibility to us consumers anymore.  That fact is slowly seeping into the collective psyche, too.

That we are all as, as Adam Smith might posit, rational, is patently ludicrous.  And that has been proven so often time and time again.  We do not always act rationally even when we have all the information to make a rational decision and we have never had all the information with which to work.  No one has – but especially the last and lowest man on the chain, Joe Six-pack.  Too many variables.  Too many filters.  Too much play money. Too many inside traders in too many industries.  In fact, any real study of the economy would conclude that, for the most part, the market is not all knowing and all-wise but vulnerable, blind, stupid, easily manipulated and fickle if not out-right mad.  And Joe watches too much TV and drinks too much beer to think right anyway.

The market attracts too many crooked people as well.

Studying markets is a waste of study time.

But studying people, on the other hand, is easier, more fun and the results are likely more accurate.  Economics is, after all, the study of people.

So, what are the people saying?  What is our collective group-think thinking? They are saying, “Fuggedabout numbers, stats, GDP and money supply. Fuggedabout what the government tells you and what the corporations tell you and what you read about as fact and data-based research. What are the other average people saying?  As a group?  What is everyone’s mood?”

I don’t know how much they listen to Trump, Netanyahu or the latest shill for hate but I listen too.  I hear them saying they don’t trust BIG anymore.  They don’t trust their governments, the corporations, their laws, their police, their schools.  They don’t trust foreigners.  They really do not trust banks.

I do not see revolution in all that so much as I see some rejection and some withdrawal. More than just a little fear and trepidation,too.  People are stepping back.  It seems to me they are saying that the trajectory society is on feels collectively wrong to them.

Britain Brexited the EEU.  The reasoning was irrational, it was instinctive.  It was protest. Greece wanted out but were already too indebted so they were forced to stay. Faith in the EEU has waned.  Is it faith in the EEU or is it faith in institutions?

Syrians are adding to the ever increasing amounts of refugees.  People are fleeing their countries.  That’s raw fear, plain and simple.   Chinese money is fleeing Asia.  That’s a form of fear.  There is a lot of that out there, it seems.

Refugees and immigrants who made it to other countries are also now feared.  Trump wants a wall.  So does Israel.  Both want some people kept out, others sent packing. Trump doesn’t trust anything because he is so ignorant but how indicative is he?  Quite indicative given his following; they are insecure and feeling like victims.

And face it – some of them are victims or, at least ‘collateral damage’ from a system that didn’t deliver!

We may have lost the faith.

We aren’t borrowing and consuming like before.  We are afraid to do so.  We aren’t reproducing like we did.  We are pessimistic.  We aren’t investing in our country or even our children.

And how is our society reacting to court decisions?  How are we reacting to police actions?  What do we think of public education?  Who feels safe in a hospital?

Generally speaking, I think we are losing trust in our international, national, provincial and regional institutions and, to some extent, in our own future.  Our fear levels are increasing. And climate change doesn’t help that in the least.  In fact, climate change may have been the last straw.

When people lose hope, despair becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And THAT’S economics.

Mantra

So, just a little extra preaching to the converted: about solar panels.  I am repeating well known information here only because there has been a subtle but significant shift in the technology and the pricing (lower) meaning the argument to make the jump to solar is just getting stronger.  That shift is: panels used to be 17% efficient now they are 22/23% efficient and, even better, more efficiency is already on the market – just not competitively priced.  Not yet.  We will likely see 40% efficiency within the decade.

Portugal reported they recently went four days straight without consuming any fossil fuels for power generation. Germany claims to be approaching 80% non-fossil fuel power generation year ’round* (cars and trucks not included).   Many countries are announcing all sorts of electrical generation coming on line with less C02 generation than coal, oil and gas.  The world seems to be responding to the pleas for alternative energy. That’s gotta be a good thing.

I suppose a good portion is nuclear and I see more and more ugly industrial windfarms all over, but, really, solar is the way to go.  Especially for the single household. It works for me.  And no power outages!  Solar panels are a proven concept and are now pretty affordable.  Well, the ‘generation’ part is, anyway. Storage capacity is still prohibitively expensive and not consumer friendly.  They will eventually have to improve batteries by a factor of 500% and they have yet to get there. But they are working on it.

Typically, sadly and stupidly, Canada is not doing anything on any front.  Canada does nothing to assist the alternative energy shift.  According to one recent report, Canada does the least of all the developed countries in this regard.  Our government does not even give sales tax relief. California used to pay for half of an installation by way of a household grant.  And, of course, we lament publicly and practically daily the poor oil prices Alberta and the petro-industry are suffering. Poor babies.

Personally, I don’t care.

Oil is something like 3% of GDP (don’t quote me.  I know it is much lower than is portrayed but it may be 5% or something).  It is NOT the biggest portion of Canada’s GDP by any stretch.  And we domestic oil consumers pay world prices anyway.  Canadians don’t benefit from pumping their own oil. But Canada subsidizes the private companies that do. Canada sends the oil industry billions in subsidies and grants and tax breaks.  So that they can charge us higher prices than they do the countries they export to?  We are so tragically stupid that we are now contemplating doing the same thing with LNG on behalf of such private companies.

Canadian governments are managed by the most crooked of politicians or the stupidest of Troglodytes.  I am thinking a combination of the two.

Still, it matters little to me that we pay more for everything, are taxed more than many and receive even less for our money than say, the USA.  So long as the bastards leave us basically alone, I will pay the exorbitant premium to be a Canadian and be relatively quiet about it.  But, really, we can do something on a personal household basis about that giant rip-off if we want to.

A good start is investing in solar panels.  Even with the battery problem still being unresolved, it is a good way to get the corporate monkey off your back.  Get enthused and improve your house insulation, get more efficient appliances and swap out your lights for LEDs and you can almost shed the giant monkey that is BC Hydro.

And, make no mistake: the corporate and government leeches are sucking more, not less. You owe it to yourself to give alternatives another look.  Jus’ sayin’…………