Friends, eh?

“I have had enough of Trump.  You are on notice to write about your greenhouse, fer Gawd’s sake.  I wanna see it.  I wanna see plants.  And I want pictures, NOT just words!  Seriously.  Gimme lots of pictures.  I am giving you four days in which to comply or else there will be consequences.  Don’t make me come over there. “

He told me that in Campbell River on Tuesday.  My deadline is nigh.  So, to avoid whatever threat he is contemplating, please accept the following post as the compliance and capitulation demanded of me.   Just be thankful he didn’t demand ravens……

 The above picture was taken looking south.  Entry door on the left.  Picture taken from the back wall.  

Sal has been somewhat busy already in the Greenhouse and in the garden these past three weeks.  And we have lettuce up the wazoo as a result.  Everything else is taking a bit of time but the micro climate inside is pretty pleasant by leafy standards. Everything is growing well.  It’s always above 60 now — even in the evening and often up around 80-85 degrees Farenheit / 25 – 30 Celcius.  At 80 F or so, the solar powered fan kicks on. If it goes higher, the fan spins faster and sometimes we open the doors for more air flow and, as well, the back wall also opens up.  We keep a light breeze going through. It’s a very pleasant environment.

This view is looking north with the back wall open and the entry doors on the right.

 

 

 

 

This is taken looking north but from the outside.  It shows the black-blob solar fan. The curlicue tree in the foreground is a naturally occurring phenomena and not ‘my first Bonsai effort’ as Sal likes to claim.

The fan is on and spinning.

 

 

 

The picture below is taken looking Northwest.  In the foreground is one of the large raised planter-cum-garden boxes that eventually takes the new seedlings germinated in the greenhouse and raises them to edible adulthood.


 

 

 

 

 

Decorator touches include a copper sink, a copper pan and the stumpy-stick handles on the doors.

Below, you will see the much-loved and doted-on seedlings under protective hardware cloth.  That hardware cloth was deemed necessary due to some impudent and picky mice that munched some of the ‘new-born’ plants just as they poked up through the soil. Sometimes the nasty little long-tailed scourge ‘ostriched’ themselves to find the seeds! Stupid, they are not.

Ever since we placed the protection the plants have not been tampered with. Interesting, don’t you think? A seed might provide a 3 ounce mouse with a meal or, if left alone to grow, can feed 300 pounds of humans a few weeks later.

 More from the Martha Stewart collection, below. The little Mayan casting on the wall is made of (fiber) glass-reinforced concrete (GFRC)–a very unusual composite.  The coat hooks came mounted all together from a derelict building. Note the temperature indicated on the clock face–81 degrees F. The outside temperature today was around 60F.

This is the lettuce forest.  A few weeks ago, I picked up some starters at the nursery just so we would have something that actually grew.  Since then, we have had many salads and it looks like we could still handle a yoga lunch crowd.
 
Sally’s sister, Mary, made the linen bunting banner and the avocado plant was a gift from Kathy, who is featured in the prologue to our new book.
 THE END.

A simple error

I get fuel delivered.  Gasoline is heavy, messy, hard to handle and expensive and potentially kinda dangerous.  But like all but the lost tribes of Patagonia, I have come to depend on it for running any one of 8 separate engines from boats to chainsaws, from gensets to power winches. I rely on the stuff.  Gasoline: an expensive addiction.

For the first few years, I carried it in totes in the back of the car and on the boat and then I schlepped it up and down hills sometimes in the rain, in the dark and always in conjunction with hundreds of pounds of other crap. I hated gasoline almost as much as I hated propane. Plus it stinks when in the car.

So, almost ten years ago I bit the $bullet and put in a big tank for propane and a couple of smaller ones for gasoline.  And it was good.

It is still horribly expensive but I do not use enough to be ‘hurt’ by $1.50 a liter gasoline and propane at approximately 25% higher than market.  Like I said, ‘It’s worth it.’

And the $30,000-plus solar panel system has cut way into the use of generator-time.  In the sunnier times, anyway.

When we were away, we knew that our tanks were low and we knew that the delivery service was going around our area BEFORE our arrival rather than just after so I ordered a fill-up and was NOT there to oversee the delivery.  Which was not a problem.  The guys know my system better than I do.  I usually ‘oversee’ the exercise by cracking jokes with the captain while the crew zoom about doing the job.  I rarely have to say anything about the delivery itself.  And it has been that way for almost ten years.  They know their stuff.

Well, until this one time when we were NOT there to check.  For reasons unknown, one of the crew (likely a new guy) put diesel in one of the tanks.  The ‘second one’.

When we got back, we went about our business and took out our allotments for fuel as they arose and, eventually, went through tank one.  That took six weeks or so.  Maybe two months.  Then, in anticipation of needing more, I filled a few totes from the second tank and placed them where they would be needed when the current engine I was using ran out.  I had three totes spread about.

Last week, I filled my genset with the five gallon tote from tank two.  It would not start.  I went through the ‘check-spark-and-fuel-routine’ and was somewhat surprised to find that I had filled my tank with diesel fuel!  But, an hour of draining, filling and fixing broken fuel lines (inevitable, it seems), I had pulled all the offending diesel out and re-filled with gasoline.  I was good to go but I had lost the afternoon.  Life, eh?

I figured that I must have had an old diesel tote sitting around the fuel shed and, somehow, had forgotten about it and accidentally used it.  ‘Must be my fault’.  I wrote it off to getting old.  I am doing that more often and it seems to be the right answer most of the time.

Over the course of the next few days, I filled two more tanks.  The earlier experience with the genset was not even a memory. Turns out that I hadn’t used an old diesel tote, after all. Turns out my real error was assuming that I had made the first error.  The real error was not realizing quickly enough that my second tank was filled with the wrong fuel.

So, another day spent draining and filling and cleaning and repairing.  THAT was irritating. But the worst part was that I was down to my second tank and that tank was unusable and so I was really OUT OF FUEL!

That is NOT good.  That necessitated a trip to town.  Worse, I could only take three totes with me because the other totes were full of diesel.  I could NOT get enough to get me through until the next planned barge delivery.

So, things will be awkward for a while.

A simple error.  NOT disastrous.  Just awkward and expensive and a waste of time.  And one more ‘weird’ incident in life off the grid.

 

My relative silence and rewarding incompetence

I have not blogged as much lately.  And I was wondering why…..

I think it is because so much of what is happening in the world right now is difficult to make any sense of.  Of course, with hindsight, we can struggle to understand it but, the truth is, even with the benefit of hindsight most of us still have no clue as to what will happen next.

(Well, I am hoping to get a little welding done…………….)

For instance, Trump firing Comey in an obvious conflict of interest almost seems like normal in the context of Trump’s history of behaviours but Trump’s history of behaviours is one of being totally unpredictable and abnormal. ‘Nuts’ is the new White House ‘normal’. His administration’s incompetence and madness has been augmented only by conflict, confusion and chaos.

Trump makes Murphy irrelevant.

And it is not just Trump.  Maybe someone can explain to me the Liberal Party logic of banning oil tankers on the North Coast of BC not long after killing the source of any such oil supply by terminating the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline?  Isn’t that like shooting an already dead thing?  But, even more ludicrous is that the same Liberal government is still allowing the Kinder Morgan pipeline to fill mega-tankers in much more constrained, sensitive and politically critical Coal Harbour (Vancouver).  Something like 700 oil tankers will annually ply the Gulf of Georgia.   That is environmental risk madness on a much grander scale than Enbridge ever was. How does the government look electors in the eye with that mockery of logic?

And look at the recent BC election.  I had hoped for a Green breakthrough and I am happy for what barely emerged but – damn it – the Greens have only three seats and the bastard Liberals are just one short of forming a government.  If a recount changes just one Liberal result favourably, the Greens are relegated to bystander status once again.  As, of course, are the inept and impotent NDP.   This election is still balanced on a knife edge. Who woulda thunk it?

The North Korea threat – real in so many ways – has gone silent.  How is that possible? How does a looming LARGE WW3 threat slip off the radar?  What?  The topic got boring for our media?  The Pacific Fleet took a break and is on leave in Hawaii?  Kim Jong-Un has learned to shut up? In this sense, crazy shows up in the lack of news.

Ninety nine countries fell victim to ransom-ware, the cyber hacking tool that kidnaps and holds hostage things like hospital records.  Many people in the tech industry saw that one coming for a long time but certainly not any hospital administrator or Health Ministry official.  Seems it got by our intelligence and law enforcement community as well.  We may get self-driving cars and power generating roof tiles but mind-boggling executive incompetence will still rule the day it seems. Maybe we don’t pay those administrators enough?

We gave the 2007/08 financial debacle bankers bonuses, didn’t we?

It seems to me that we have a lot of stupid in charge.  And I suppose that is the one thing we can count on. From the President to the Prime minister, from the media to local government, from banks to law enforcement, if you are looking for consistency, look in the idiot mistakes column.

On a brighter note, and one that puts a nicer spin on our own madness, we have stumbled, fumbled and tripped our way to a functioning greenhouse and an almost complete marine haul-out. And, by employing an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of computers, we have lucked into a second book. Stupid ain’t all bad. Works for us.

 

The Trump Effect

Firstly, I readily admit that there are a lot of real and direct effects as a result of the Donald being elected. And it is NOT my intention to list them all. Or any of the ones that affect the larger American or global population.  The NY Times can do that.  The Trump effect I am talking about is the one he has on me.  It’s personal.  I didn’t think it would be.

But it is.  Tomorrow is our provincial election and I am feeling measurably depressed and apathetic about it.  And I blame Trump. If there are that many people in the US of A and a corresponding number in BC (and France) who think like him, act like him and value what he represents, I have lost all hope in the majority of people to be human, caring, tolerant and working for the greater good.

I say ‘majority’ because, after all, he won the election even though we know that it was NOT a majority in the truest sense. But that basic fact of his victory is still truly and deeply depressing – not because of him so much – but because of the now visibly large numbers of those he represents.  These are angry, bitter, cynical and ugly people who care little for others – especially ‘different’ others.

I have not lost ALL hope, of course.  If that were the case, I’d just end it.  But I have lost a lot of hope, faith and trust in a populace and system that, though flawed, seemed to keep us all generally aimed in the right direction.  Mostly.  Admittedly, it was two steps forward and 1.9 steps back but there was some progress. I think.  Mankind seemed to be getting better.  A bit.

Maybe not.  Maybe I was just fooling myself.  Maybe all the progress I saw was quietly being erased by the destruction wrought on the planet and the increased exploitation of the masses but those are larger hard-to-grasp issues and the ones I saw on a daily basis seemed a smidge more positive.  With the grim realization that Trump-ets and Marine Le Pen-ites are on the ascendancy, it feels much more like we are heading in the wrong direction.

Our incumbent premier is a Trumpet crumpet (written that way primarily because it is all so onomatopoeic) and she represents all that is bigoted, biased and ignorant in BC but, admittedly, at a subtler level than Bluster Trump, the original orange clown.  She has been revealed as a corrupt, incompetent and bald-faced liar but she’ll likely get back in.  A great number of people WANT her to represent them.  How is that even possible?

How is that even possible???? 

I do NOT get it.

Again, I have to admit that my optimism had been crushed many years ago and was, and still is, one of the reasons I now live off the grid.  I feel that I am now very much removed from much of the lying, cheating and hypocrisy that passes for life-as-we-know-it in the urban world.  OTG just feels better.  I think OTG is better.  But OTG is also a retreat, a resignation and a vote of surrender.  It is not fighting the good fight.  It is not adding to the greater good.

Why let Trump affect me?  Why give up?  Why feel that way?  Well, Trump seems to be a harbinger.  He is NOT the little canary dying in the coal mine, he is Big Bird opening up the coal mine.  He is Hitler-esque in a trend-indicating kind of way.  His very presence is not a good sign.  His victory as a politician is a terrible sign.  Harper was also a very bad sign.  Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilder, Brexit and Brietbart are all bad signs.  Why are we heading that way?

The world may indeed be headed for Hell in a hand basket.

CHOOSING Off the Grid

The Kindle edition of Choosing Off the Grid is now up on Amazon.  The ‘actual, real-life book’ with paper pages and all that, will be up and available in a day or so.  The paper version has some pictures in it.  Otherwise it is the same content.

Kinda ol’ hat stuff for you guys, tho…..

This second book is really just a more detailed look at the motivation and inspiration behind us moving off the grid.  Stuff you already know about from labouring through the blog.  It includes some of the mental hurdles and the adjustments that were made.  I included a bit on ‘how to do it’ but, of course, there are as many ways to go off the grid as there are ways to leave your lover. You can even Get on the bus, Gus or Get a new plan, Stan.  

Basically, it’s about Get yourself free.

Paul Simon could have written it.

It’s about 200 or so pages.  Not as long as OUR LIFE OTG.  Took awhile to crank this baby out, tho, I must admit.  It’s a bit of a ramble.  I don’t advise buying the damn thing but you might want to borrow it from the library some day.  Buy it if you are wondering when to make the leap yourself (answer: NOW!) or if you are young (under 50 is now considered young) and have time to ‘salvage’ (a portion of the book is on the merits of having a one-ton, 4×4 and some free time).

In this blog, you sometimes had to read about an event to ‘get’ what makes Dave and Sal tick.  In the book, we just come out and say it.  “This is what makes us tick and this is what ticked me off!”  It’s more revealing but, really, who needs more Dave revealed?

This blog post is also a smidge late………..been busy……the boat-haul-out is coming along nicely.  We are pleased.  Weird, tho…….the haul-out represents more work and effort than the planned work-on-boats it will allow us to do.  Still, it is good to have this amenity.  It’s almost a necessity, really.  Boats need repair and we need to repair ’em.  So, we are happy with it. Pictures soon.

A short anecdote: a community gathering and the person around whom the gathering was focused was not there.  Calls were made.  No answer.  Sal came to get me.  We went lookin’ for him…..’was our guy OK?’  We got to his dock.  Boat was there.  Then we got to his house and heard music.  Knocked.  He answered with a smile and a warm greeting.

“Didja forget?  Today?  You and the gathering?”

Blank look………”Yep.  Forgot completely.  Total blank.  Happening more and more lately. Want some tea?”

“No thanks.  Gotta run.  Glad you are good.  Got some calls to make.  We gotta do ’em while we remember ’cause we are forgetting more and more, too.  You might want to make a few calls, yourself?”

“Good idea.  Nice seein’ ya.”

So, the point:  Well, I am 69 and a half….that’s close to 70 by my reckoning….and my memory ain’t what it used to be (altho I remember everything better than Sal.  What planet did she live on these past 47 years?).  We are all getting older and, as my children imply with their raised eyes, getting stupider all the time. The other day, I was feeling so old and tired that, when I bent over to take off my shoes, I spent an extra second wondering, ‘since I am down here, is there anything else I can do?’

Can’t remember if I did anything extra or not while down there…but you get my point.

Sad, gross, pathetic

Well, the new haul-out is underway.  That’s good.  Got the first two ‘tracks’ on and secure.  Two more to add.  Then a work-deck to be built beside it comes next. Progress is slow.  Sporadic.  NOT steady.  So much to do.  So many things to attend to. Busy, busy, busy.

Mind you, I am reminded of my dad many years ago saying, “Well, I would like to play golf next week but on Monday, I pick up my dry cleaning and on Wednesday, I get a haircut.  Thursday is shopping day and well, I am pretty beat by Friday when the cleaning lady comes so that’s out.  So, I guess Tuesday is my only free day . Does that work?”

Of course, I said (to myself – at the time) that I pick up dry-cleaning, have four meetings, go to the bank, see a friend and then stop for a late 15 minute lunch before doing twice as much in the afternoon and getting back in time to clean the pool, mow the lawn and help with dinner.  How could a whole day be set aside for a haircut?  But I didn’t say it.  I just assumed that older people slowed down.

Now I know.

They do.  I am barely at glacial-speed now with global warming being what it is…..

I have been ‘good’ for only a four hour work-day for awhile now.  I am busy for eight but physically ‘working’ is limited to four hours.  I don’t count writing or anything that doesn’t require lifting as physical labour but even with that kind of non-physical activity, I am only good for an eight hour day and that may be dropping to seven because wine-drinking is part of the last hour.

Hard to say…rarely does a day go by without some heavy lifting or mountain climbing or hammer-drilling or something crazy.  But definitely shorter times.  On a horribly rainy day, I don’t work physically at all but I do sometimes nap. So, clearly my GDP is dropping.  Moody’s has down-graded me to Z.

Well, according to Sal, my gross part is still strong but the domestic production is dropping, for sure.

Last night was pathetic.  We had earlier put a large work bench on Sal’s boat to float into the lagoon at high tide.  That’s where the haul-out is being constructed. At 6:00 pm Sal said, “Wanna go drop the bench?  Or are you too tired?” 

“Aaaaaah, I am too tired.  Tomorrow.”

“Nah.  I want it out of my boat.  I’ll do it.  You do the dishes.”

“You can’t lift the bench!”

“Not gonna.  It’s high tide.  I’ll go in, nudge up to the rocks, push the workbench out and then tie it up to a tree.  Then I’ll come home to inspect a pile of clean dishes. Tomorrow we can go get it and place it where we want to on OUR WAY up the hill to fix the water system.”

I felt more tired just listening.  “OK.  Be careful.  The rocks are slippery.  Don’t worry about it being as high on the beach as possible.  It’ll float.  We’ll get it up the beach tomorrow.”

And so I did the dishes while Sal moved the workbench into the lagoon.

Worse, she inspected my dishes when she got back!

What is the world coming to?

 

 

Blah, blah….meh…

It is the 18th and I last wrote on the 12th.  Long time between blah-blah for me. Usually, I have plenty to say but this week, not so much.  We had a nice Easter weekend with my son and his wife.  And, with his help, we got some really hard stuff done. That was good. We pushed a seven-foot diameter water tank out from under the house where the widest spot was only 6′ 6″ .  That was a chore.

We also drilled holes in rocks to support the soon-to-be-built marine ways but that was held up somewhat by the hammer-drill refusing to hammer after the first few holes.  It still spun, just wouldn’t hammer.  In other words, it did NOT get the final half of the holes drilled.  But we’ll get it done.

It rained.  That’s my main excuse.  It rained.

Greenhouse performing well, tho.  Solar-powered fan works a charm – when there is a solar presence.  We’re getting happy with that addition to the empire.

Basically, it is all same ol’, same ol’….but slightly different ol’ stuff.  Which is nice, really. For me.  OK, the boat sinks, guests keep arriving, drills break, water stops flowing (but we got it half-back) and outside demands must be addressed but, honestly, that is just life and you keep on keeping on….right?

And I must admit that such a deep ambivalence is the only thing I am concerned about right now. That status-quo-ness.  That same ol’……ho hum….blah, blah….

The provincial election is looming and there is about as much excitement in the air as at a funeral. Gawd almighty!  It’s like, ‘After Trump, no act can follow.’  I mean; how do you generate political suspense when some plump, middle-aged, smiling cheerleader runs her cliche-ridden corruption-party against a dim, half-invisible pablum-peddling, boring-as-hell do-nothing NDP while, at the same time, Trump dangles the third world war in your face?

It’s M-O-A-B.    

Trump has the Mother of all bombs.  We have the mother of all bores.

Admittedly, boring is good in politics but it also portends the status quo.  And the status quo is criminal-level corruption and mismanagement by the current gang of sleaze bags, the Liberals. So, in this case, boring is bad.  NOT causing a fuss over their entrenched evil is likely gonna result in same ol’, same ol’.  More of it.

For evil to be done, good people only have to get bored of it.

 

 

 

Ethical dissent part 2

As stated in the last blog, I do not endorse all of that which Snyder promotes (ON TYRANNY by Timothy Snyder) but I respect his thinking process and especially his attempt to put words to the feelings I think we all have to some extent. I have a few more suggestions, actually.  And I might delete a few of his on my own list.  But the point is: there is something we can all do in an effort to limit the increasing tyranny in our lives.

“Dave!  WHAT Tyranny?  I am feeling no sense of being controlled, manipulated or lied to.  I don’t see bogeymen or tyrants around every corner.  I feel free.  I feel happy.  I do not see any reason whatsoever for getting off Facebook or NOT watching TV.  I love pizza delivery, man!  In fact, I applaud the government’s attempts at keeping me safe by monitoring and restricting some of the freedoms that are being exploited by terrorists.”

I understand.  You may be right.  Snyder doesn’t think so.  I don’t think so.  He and I think it is prudent to resist at least at a passive, civil, legal level.  But, maybe it is all OK.  Maybe the government is nothing but good and maybe they will not ever err or sweep you up in some police-action or control net. Maybe the real threat is somewhere else.

But that kind of thing has happened before.  It is happening now in the USA to people-with-foreign-sounding names or darker skin and many other countries as well. If you feel really free and safe, why not run a short test.  Get a tan, call yourself Ishmael and say Allahu Akbar as your standard greeting when dealing with the authorities.  Yell it in airports.  Leave bail money with your loved ones and buy life insurance before you do this.

Snyder further advises:

11. Investigate.  Figure things out for yourself.  Take responsibility for what you communicate.  Make the news your own (search out your own sources).  Snyder is attempting to dissuade the reader from the spoon-fed news sources and, by implication, spoon-fed, so-called education.  Learning is personal.  Make it so.

12.Make eye contact and small talk.  Lessen the emailing.  Intimate and personal is good.  It provides the fabric of real society and breaks down the fears of the unknown.

13. Practice corporeal politics.  Get your bum out of the chair.  Put yourself in unfamiliar places.  Seek out new life forms and boldly go where no one has gone before.  The corrupt power-holders prefer you to eat and sit and get fat while watching a screen.  Do the opposite.

14. Consciously create a private life.  Avoid the same institutions you otherwise support because they are used by power to KNOW you and how to find you. Minimize internet use.  Be less Facebook and more ‘personal journal’, preferably in handwriting.

15. Contribute to good causes.  Support organizations that reflect your values.

16. Learn from peers in other countries.  Keep up your friendships abroad.  Make sure you have a valid passport. Maybe get a bug-out bag?

17. Listen for dangerous words.  Be alert to the increasing use of ‘dramatic’ words like: threat, extremist, terror, restricted, security check, emergency, warning, danger, etc.).  They are the word-tools of corruption and tyranny.  Resist the treachery of dire warnings and patriotic rhetoric.  Write to BC Ferries and tell ’em to drop that stupid Mar-sec designation.  I always ask them if they ever experienced a change from Mar-sec 1 to Mar-sec 2.  The answer: “Never.”  So why have it?  When a Mar-sec (marine security) event happens, there will be no time to change the signs at the ticket counter and, even if there was, who is going to buy a ticket on a ferry sitting in a Mar-sec 5 situation?  It’s just fear mongering and providing a false sense of them providing security. Just another institutional lie.

18. Know that real threats and terrorism will be used to escalate and concentrate power.  Be calm during such events because uniformed tyranny will be present and ready to ‘control’ you!

19. BE a good patriot (presumably without resorting to rhetoric) and set a good example for your fellow citizens by exercising your Constitutional rights.  Without good patriots, patriotism will be exploited and corrupted by tyranny.

20. Be as courageous as you can be speaking truth to power and ACTING freely.

I would add to his list:

A. pay cash whenever possible.  The digital money trail will always find you.

B. Consider moving away from the city.

C. Consider having a place to go to in an emergency.  It does not have to be a better-homes-and-garden fortress in Idaho or the Rockies.  Just identify a place you can go to…..?  Why not?

D. Develop a skill.  Get in shape.  Buy some tools. Do more of your own work. Grow some food. Fill your pantry.  In small increments, become more independent.

The list could go on forever and, sadly, it would include increasingly dramatic suggestions like stockpiling, bug-out vehicles, arms and such nonsense.  I do NOT think that the threat has increased to that level and I hope it never does.  But Snyder’s list and my own four additions are NOT extreme in any way.  They are simply ‘positioning’ and ‘attitudinal’ suggestions that, at the very least, would make you a better and more powerful citizen.  No bullets or camo required.

 

I occasionally stray….

….from OTG stuff.  I admit that, freely (and obviously somewhat regularly).  I kinda do my own twisted version of political commentary now and again and I know that it it is not always well received by my readers. I apologize to those who see it as simply politics but it is not – at least politics is NOT the primary motivation. Protest is the primary motivation. I feel the need to speak my truth to power.  I call it ethical dissent.

I am a stated GREENIE but, honestly, I am mostly and largely non-partisan.  I don’t like career politicians, political parties, the party system, the structure of government and, of course, the inevitable corruption of all of those so I am not a fan of any of them, really.  I am a GREEN for obvious reasons but one of them is that a vote for the GREENs is a legitimate protest vote. They won’t likely ever win.  Not in my lifetime, anyway. And so, for me, a vote for the GREENs is a middle finger gesture to the others.

I mention all this because a middle finger salute is not enough.  I know that.  You know that.  The system is broken and not voting or protest-voting is simply not changing things at all.  In fact, it is all getting worse despite what I/we do.

I suppose ‘contradictory-voting’ is the next thing. Some are advocating for it.   If you normally vote Liberal, then try the NDP.  If you normally vote Conservative, then try the Greens. Basically, those people are not voting for the ‘opposite’ party so much as voting for changing their own party.  A prominent Liberal party member in Langley, BC, (the mayor) has recently come out with that.  He said, “Well, I guess Hell has frozen over because I am going to vote for the NDP this May!”

I applaud that.  He shows an honesty, a truth-telling, an open-mind.  He does not like the NDP but now he thinks HIS party has gone rotten and needs a major cleansing.  Change gotta happen!  And he’s right.  100% right!

But, even that is still not enough.

What we, the voters, are trying to do is not just change the corrupt system but also to reject the overt and subtle tyranny that such corruption masks.  Corrupt politics not only cheats the public, it lies to them, manipulates them, manages them and controls them. In the extreme, they will harass, restrict, persecute, incarcerate and execute the public if they get in the way. We can all see it when it is extreme AND in another country (see: the USA today vs thirty years ago.  See Russia and China anytime.  See Mexico – if it isn’t the government there, it is the resulting corrupt drug cartels doing it).

Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The point is: anything short of pure, good government verges on some degree of tyranny inflicted on the people.  Usually someone is getting royally screwed all the time by powerful government and more and more and now, most of us, are being overly screwed these days. (see: Canadian millennials, the poor, indigenous, immigrants, rural-folks).

So, what is the solution?  Timothy Snyder’s book, ON TYRANNY, suggests 20 ways to ethically dissent.  1. Do not obey in advance.  In other words, we tend to go along to get along and, in so doing, do NOT protest when we should. Do not walk willingly to the orders of the powers-that-be.  Resistance is a virtue.  It’s also easier to do in the beginning.

2.  Defend Institutions.  As flawed as they are, they are the first line of defense. Obey the law, queue for buses, pay your bills, say, ‘have a nice day’.  The reason: the institution’s stated values are good ones and they need our support.

3.Beware the one-party state (and, by inference, the two-party state is only somewhat better).

4.  Take responsibility for the face of the world.  DO NOT accept swastikas and ugly graffiti as the new norm.  Clean up your yard.  Looking ugly and being ugly are kissing cousins.  Beautify your neighbourhood.  Look after things.  Beauty is as beauty does.

5. Remember your professional and personal ethics.  Live up to the values you respect and hold dear.  Manifest them daily.

6. Beware paramilitaries and, by extension, paramilitary behaviours.  Ditch the camo.

7.  If you are in the paramilitaries (police, security, etc.) be reflective.  Be kind. Be aware that you are in a position of power and exercise it extremely consciously and cautiously.

8. Stand up.  Get counted.  Speak your mind.  Let them know how you feel. Write to the editor.  Tweet.  Talk to people.  Gossip and yak….it’s all glue for the society.

9. Be kind to your language.  Speak your own phrases.  Do not use jargon, cliche and vulgarities.  Think before you speak and then speak articulately what you think. Like, duh!

10. Believe (and exercise) the truth.  Work for it.  Say it.  Check it.  Review it.  Truth is real power.  We all want it.  Tell the truth.

There are 10 more suggested ‘actions’ from Snyder.  I will do the others later.  My readers don’t read more than 750 words at a time willingly and much more than 1000 is simply ‘not on.’

But, in summary, I am, personally, supportive of his suggestions on the whole but I do NOT see them as ‘the wisdom of the ages’.  Still, he is ethically dissenting and putting words to it.  THAT is good.  He is making positive suggestions for ‘doing more’ than just voting contra or not voting at all.  Or worse, like me, complaining all the live long day in a blog.  He is advocating for constructive but corrective behaviours that WILL make a difference.  And I applaud that.

I try to do some of that already and will seriously consider his other suggestions. But the point is: he is making suggestions as to how to ethically dissent and how to stand up to the beginnings of tyranny.

I am pretty sure it is much, much harder to stand up to well-entrenched tyranny.  Ask a Mainland Chinese or a Russian….

In fact, by the time tyranny has risen to even just Trumpian levels, it may be too late. We’ll see.  Harper’s Canada never got anywhere near as bad as even Bush’s America but it was bad enough for us to balk. Canada stood up.  Harper gone. But the US now has Trump.  It may already be too late to stand up but many there are trying.

It’s ironic and tragic that those who voted for Trump were, in fact, trying to stand up to ‘established power’ and thought they were voting for an ethical dissenter. Sad.    

Maybe Americans just need to be pushed a little further.  We’ll see.  Tomahawking Syria got their attention.  Maybe Trump nuking North Korea will make them stand up. I wish them luck in that.  We all need it.

Indicators

If you were in a coal mine and there was a dead canary lying in his cage, wouldn’t you recognize that as an ‘indicator’ of danger?  At the very least, would you not at least recognize the old metaphor/adage/cliche regarding canaries and coal mines?

Of course you would.  But what about indicators that are NOT cliche metaphors? What of indicators, harbingers, signs and omens telling you something in a language you are entirely unfamiliar with?  Do you still listen to the little voice that usually whispers at such times?  Do you stare at such signs-o’-the-times and try to read ’em?  Do you stop to think?  ‘Hmmmmm….what’s wrong with this picture?’

As a rule, I am a bit oblivious to that sort of thing, myself.  And Sal is usually focused on squirrels or shoes so I don’t rely on her observational skills.  Neither of us has a sixth sense and, at our age, we are starting to wonder about the first five, actually.

I am not much better than Sal.  A bit. Not much.  No interest in shoes or squirrels allows me time to scan for other things but I don’t do that as much anymore.  I could easily get 100 feet into a busy mall that was vacant and not really notice the absence of people as quickly as I should.  I am just not all that observant anymore. But I still NOTICE. Eventually.  It might take me a few steps into the mall before I wondered what ‘was wrong’, but I would still see the absence of people…in a few seconds….under a minute…I hope.  I am not blind.

Well, I just noticed something wrong.  Stupidly late, actually.  Especially since I cracked a joke about it last January:  “One thing about Trump that is for sure, book sales will continue if not increase. Any sane person will at least consider getting out. They have to!”

And we both laughed.

Sal checked sales figures today.  We are selling at twice the rate as the two previous years for the same period reviewed.  Admittedly two-times minuscule is still insignificant and hardly a dead canary or a candlestick in the library but it has been a remarkably consistent double-the-fun-run since January.  I think Trump really HAS boosted sales.

I am looking for the cruise missile attack on Syria to boost sales even further. Hey! If you can’t add boobs, guns and rock and roll to the title of the book, scaring the hell out of people with the threat of WW3 is a good motivator for off-the-grid books.

Jus’ sayin’.

“Man, oh man!  When they nuke Kim Jong-un, we’ll make out like bandits!” 

You think I am kidding?  That is the precise conversation that the US military industrial complex is having around their boardroom tables right now.  Probably have been since January 20th….I was just too busy to notice til now.