Free thinking or simply Machiavellian….?

We finally met a dyed-in-the-wool, true-Trump supporter and believer as we were leaving Arizona.  He was the cabby taking us to the airport.  ‘Bout 70.  Small, leathery, skinny, polite, nice, poorly dressed and ill-spoken.  But clearly an ‘on-the-surface’ ordinary and decent kinda guy.  Dale.

We got to talkin’ and he offered up his political views.  “Time to make America Great Again.  Trump is gonna shake up the establishment.  Gonna help us poor folks get back on our feet. He cares about America.  Obama is an African Muslim with a forged birth certificate.  He created ISIS.  Hillary is crooked and so is the Clinton machine.  Trump has already done more in the last few weeks than Obama did in eight years.”  

Well, I said, I disagree one hundred percent with you.  I liked Obama.  He, at least spoke well.  And I don’t like Trump at all.  Admittedly, I did not like Clinton either. Still, I could be wrong.  You could be right.  Or, vice versa….right?”

“Sure.  But I think Trump speaks from the heart.  That’s why he sounds a bit crazy but he truly cares.  That’s what I believe.  He wants to do the right thing.  I am sure of that.”

Agreeing on ‘doing the right thing’ was our common ground.

And so we went on to other things. His part of the area is famous for being the sunniest place in the western hemisphere.  But he did not believe in solar panels.  I explained why solar panels are not too expensive when you live in Arizona and get half of the cost subsidized by a govt. grant.  He didn’t like the Chinese.  I told him about China and my experience with the culture.  He wondered why Canadian tourism was down 40% and that the tips were lousy.  I told him about it costing twice as much to live in Canada and how our dollar has dropped so even Arizona was not as cheap for us.  He told me about his high cost of living.  I told him about our gas and food prices vs Arizona prices and pointed out that 40% of their gasoline comes from Canada.

He didn’t know that.

He told me that he had to move in with his son ’cause he had a hard time making ends meet.  He told me that Mexicans were fine people who did most of the hard work in his area. Told me his wife left him.  Told me he was in favour of guns and expressed surprise to learn that Trump/Sessions repealed the law that forbade certifiably insane people from buying them.  Now they can.

He didn’t know that either.

When we arrived at the airport we shook hands.  He said, “Well, this has been the most educational fare I have ever had.  Thank you very much.  It was nice to meet you”.

As I said above, he was nice and polite. He was also working hard at 70.  He was poor.  He was also looking for the ‘tip’.  Still, being naive by nature and sussing him out as sincere, I believed him.  I think he truly found the conversation interesting.  I sure did.  I do know that many ‘facts’ or bits of ‘common knowledge’ I shared were news to him because he explored them with interested questions.  But I am not deluding myself.  He will support Trump regardless of what happens because, for him, Trump represented hope.

And therein lies the point of this blog: many Americans seem to have lost hope in themselves. Or their ‘circumstance’ at the very least.  On the other hand, many ‘Mericans (it seems, anyway) do not seem to seek out more information so as to find options.  He did NOT strike me as a zealot or a bigot (well, he was certainly against blacks because they burn down their own houses when they riot) but, given his miserable life, he was looking for something and that something was NOT the system or the establishment that he had lived in for the bulk of his life.  His American Dream was over because it had never really started.

The truly sad part was that Dale, though no genius, was not tree-stump stupid.  But, OMG, he was so incredibly ignorant of what passes for common knowledge in not only our life but also in just about any 8th grader’s life. Dale knew nothing and seemed to be content with that.

I say that ‘we finally met a true-Trump believer’ and Dale was the only person we met who identified openly that way but we must have encountered others.  We did encounter a helluva lot of people in Arizona who had little knowledge of much of anything outside of the US.  NOT all, of course, but that ‘local hick’, no-nothing-but what’s-on-TV attitude was fairly common.

Did it surprise me?

Not really.  I have friends who have never left BC. I know a guy who has never left Quadra Island.  NOT knowing about the world and having the perspective travel gives you is likely more common than traveling and learning about others.  England is famous for those who ‘never left the village‘.  Every country has them.

The thing is, tho: if you do not travel at least some, then your entire perspective is influenced by your family, peers and the TV station you watch.  If you hang out with Bubba at Redneck Taxi and watch only FOX TV, you are programmed a certain way. If you travel the globe and read instead of watch anything, then you are programmed another way.

But, face it, both groups are programmed. It is difficult to be a free-thinker.  I recommend the larger program if, for no other reason, it is more interesting and provides more hope.

And I hope this blog has helped to program you into thinking the way I want you to think…… 

 

We’re baaaaaaack!

It should be no big deal but it is.  We are back and, OMG, does it feel good!  I have never liked the term, ‘go to your happy place‘ but I have, this is it and I really do not want to ever leave again.

‘Course, I will.  I have places to go, people to see, things to mess up.  

But HERE is good.  REALLY good.

We are also doing things more sanely.  We left Victoria on Thursday, came up to the nearest town and stayed overnight so as to get some needed chores done without rushing. Usually, we would just race through a gazillion chores and end up arriving home in a storm at night fully laden and exhausted.  This time, we spread the effort over two days and had a nice dinner out.  Plus we did fewer chores putting some off til next week.  Very civilized.

I mention this because, as we age, our ability to cram ‘chores’, travel, schlep and get the house up and going again is getting a bit more difficult.  Having said that, it is only made more difficult for the want of a $100 stay overnight.  Well, we always do dinner out, too, so make that $150.00.  $200 on a crazy night out.  In other words, getting old can be compensated for with money.  So, why not?

The house was ice-cold.  Took til today to get the temperature back up to comfortable but that was no biggie.  All systems ‘go’ from the start.  We still have a bit of ‘sorting’ to do but we are largely back in the rhythm of our lifestyle.  Feels good.

“Why tell us this?”

Well, I wanted to convey that living OTG has all the usual challenges of ‘leaving home’ with a few additional aspects more complicated than leaving an urban one but not that much.  Not really.  An extra day’s travel, a few extra chores to get it all done….that sort of thing…but, basically, no different than leaving the cul-de-sac for a vacation.

We’re not so weird, after all.

But just to illustrate the differences; I had hauled the boat two months ago and stored it on the other island.  The tire had gone flat as we put it up on the hard and we had no time to fix it back then so I knew one of the ‘chores’ was gonna to be a tire job.  And, of course, an outboard motor that hadn’t started in a while put a question on that, too.  Plus the weather was more than ‘iffy’ and the seas on Thursday were ugly.  But on Friday, it all fell into place.  Things worked out fine.  We were in the house on the second day, having tea before it was 3:00 pm.  Very, very civilized.

We are definitely older, tho.  Both getting Old Age pensions, discounts on BC Ferries and 10% off whenever we buy anything it seems.  Still, it hasn’t been a problem yet – except once.  The problem was Sal, of course.  We were packing up getting ready to leave Arizona and the luggage weight limit is 50 pounds.  51 pounds will incur an extra charge of US$75.00 so you want to be sure of the weight. Sal packed her bag and lifted it.  She actually ‘stiff-arm- lifted’ it and concluded it was just over 40 pounds.  I lifted it and guessed higher at 44 pounds. We figured mine was a shade lighter (we have each lifted and carried 55 pound bags of Ready Mix cement enough times to know what 55 pounds feels like so we were confident.

We were wrong.  Sal’s bag was 53 pounds.  Mine 47.  A quick juggle and we balanced them both but topped out the limit.  We were good to go. As we walked away from the Alaska Airline check-in, I remarked to Sal, “Sal, you are collecting your old age pension and yet you one-armed 53 pounds like it was a pillow.  You only weigh around 125 yourself.  How many city gals can do that? How many old-agers can do that even if they are male? You are doing something right.”

“I guess, but you carried both bags several times without hesitation.  Even up stairs. You must be doing something right, too.”

Point: this place is good for us.  

       

Gustavo Tanaka

Some of my beta readers have asked, “What, exactly, is the purpose of this second book (OFF THE GRID REFLECTIONS) , David?”  (Which does not speak well to the writing, I am embarrassed to admit).  But the answer is that we went off the grid to satisfy something ‘inside’ and have found value in areas we hadn’t known much about before we did.  I wanted to share that. I also preached a bit, advised a bit and philosophized some.  All in all, a hodge podge of thoughts, really. Most of it, had I been a better writer, would have been included in the first book.  Because it wasn’t, I wanted to finish up what I had started by writing book two.

I also wanted to put in words what I can only describe as a sea change.  Things are changing and I can see that, I can feel that and I am responding to it by living OTG. But, of course, feeling, instinct and intuition often come before understanding, analysis and consciousness.  So, in that sense, I am writing about it before fully understanding it.  Typical.

I am writing today because another guy is going through the same thing.  Gustavo Tanaka is a Brazilian blogger and his latest submission was circulated widely by the Huffington Post.  And so……………   The following is a stolen good.  Brazilian Gustavo Tanaka originally wrote it. The Huffington Post reprinted it.  And I, without permission, have re-printed it again.  I tried to get permission but Tanaka is hard to reach and the HP wasn’t the author anyway.  I am hoping, by giving everyone their due credit, that I am acting only in the capacity as a ‘sharer’ of the obviously-wanting-to-be-shared article, I am doing what he wanted.  It has been translated and so is a bit awkward in the language at times.

TANAKA:  Most of us haven’t quite realized there is something extraordinary happening.

A few months ago, I freed myself from standard-procedure society. I broke the chains of fear that kept me locked up into the system. Since then, I see the world from a different perspective: the one that everything is going through change and that most of us are unaware of that.

Why is the world changing? In this post, I’ll point out the eight reasons that lead me to believe it.

1. No one can stand the employment model any longer.

We are reaching our limits. People working with big corporations can’t stand their jobs. The lack of purpose knocks on your door as if it came from inside you like a yell of despair.

People want out. They want to drop everything. Take a look on how many people are willing to risk entrepreneurship, people leaving on sabbaticals, people with work-related depression, people in burnout.

2. The entrepreneurship model is also changing.

Over the past few years, with the explosion of startups, thousands of entrepreneurs turned their garages into offices to bring their billion-dollar ideas to life. The vortex of entrepreneurship was to find an investor and get funded — to be funded was like winning the World Cup or the Super Bowl.

But what happens after you get funded? You get back to being an employee. You may have brought in people not sharing your dream, not in agreement with your purpose, and soon it’s all about the money. The financial end becomes the main driver of your business.

People are suffering with it. Excellent startups began to tumble because the money-seeking model is endless.

A new way to endeavor is needed. Good people are doing it already.

3. The rise of collaboration.

Many people have figured out that it doesn’t make any sense to go on by yourself. Many people have awakened from the “each man for himself” mad mentality.

Stop, take a step back, and think. Isn’t it absurd that we, 7 billion of us living in the same planet, have grown further apart from each other? What sense does it make to turn your back on the thousands, maybe millions, of people living around you in the same city? Every time it crosses my mind, I feel blue.

Fortunately, things are changing. Sharing, collaborative economy concepts are being implemented, and it points towards a new direction. The direction of collaborating, of sharing, of helping, of togetherness.

This is beautiful to watch. It touches me.

4. We are finally figuring out what the Internet is.

The Internet is an incredibly spectacular thing, and only now — after so many years — we are understanding its power. With the Internet, the world is opened, the barriers fall, the separation ends, the togetherness starts, the collaboration explodes, the help emerges.

Some nations saw true revolutions that used the Internet as the primary catalyst, such as the Arab Spring. Here in Brazil, we are just starting to make a better use out of this amazing tool.

Internet is taking down mass control. The big media groups controlling news by how it suits best what they want the message to be and what they want us to read are no longer the sole owners of information. You go after what you want. You bond to whomever you want. You explore whatever you may want to.

With the advent of the Internet, the small are no longer speechless. There is a voice. The anonymous become acknowledged. The world comes together. And then the system may fall.

5. The fall of exaggerated consumerism.

For too long, we’ve been manipulated to consume as much as we possibly can, to buy every new product launched — the newest car, the latest iPhone, the top brands, lots of clothes, shoes, lots and lots and lots of pretty much anything we could our hands on.

Going against the crowd, many people have understood that this is way off. Low consumerism, slow life and slow food are a few types of action being taken as we speak, pointing out the contradiction of how absurdly we have come to organize ourselves.

Fewer people are using cars. Fewer people are overspending. And more people are swapping clothes, buying used goods, sharing assets, cars, apartments, offices.

We don’t need all of that they told us we needed. And this consciousness of new consumerism can take down any company living on the exaggerated end of it.

6. Healthy and organic eating.

We were so crazy we even accepted eating anything! It only needed to taste good, and everything would be alright.

We were so disconnected that companies started to practically poison our food, and we didn’t say anything!

But then some people started waking up, enabling and strengthening healthy and organic eating.

This is only going to get stronger.

But what has this got to do with economy and work? Just about everything, I’d say.

Food production is one of the basic fundamentals of our society. If we change our mindset, our eating habit and our way of consuming, corporations will have to respond and adapt to a new market.

The small farmer is getting back to being relevant to the whole chain of production. People are even growing plants and seeds inside their homes as well.

And that reshapes the whole economy.

7. The awakening of spirituality.

How many friends do you have who practice yoga? What about meditation? Now think back, 10 years ago. How many people did you know by then who practiced these activities?

Spirituality, for too long, was for esoteric folks — those weird-like and mystic people.

But fortunately, this is also changing. We’ve come to the edge of reason and rationality. We were able to realize that, with only our conscious mind, we can’t figure out everything that goes on here. There is something else going on, and I’m sure you want to get hold of that as well.

You want to understand how these things work — how life operates, what happens after death, what is this energy thing people talk about so much, what is quantum physics, how thoughts can be materialized and create our sense of reality, what is coincidence and synchronicity, why meditation works, how it’s possible to cure some ailments using nothing but bare hands, how those alternative therapies not always approved by regular medicine can actually work sometimes.

Companies are providing meditation to their employees. Even schools are teaching the young how to meditate. Think about it.

8 . Un-schooling trends.

Who created this teaching model? Who chose the classes you have to take? Who chose the lessons we learn in history classes? Why didn’t they teach us the truth about other ancient civilizations?
Why should kids follow a certain set of rules? Why should they watch everything in silence? Why should they wear a uniform? What about taking a test to prove what you actually learned?

We developed a model that perpetuates and replicates followers of the system, that breed people into ordinary human beings.

Fortunately, a lot of people are working to rethink that though concepts such as un-schooling, hack-schooling and homeschooling.

Maybe you’ve never thought of that and even may be in shock. But it’s happening.

Silently, people are being woken up and are realizing how crazy it is to live in this society.
Look at all these new actions and try to think everything we were taught so far is normal. I don’t think it is.

There is something extraordinary happening.

COX:  I could not agree more.

All good things…..

We have been in Phoenix for almost 7 weeks.  Escaped all the BC snow ‘cept for the first few days.  Been living in sunshine down here ‘cept for the first few days which was mostly just refreshing rain with a lot of sunshine in between.  The desert was beautiful.  No question, Phoenix in January and February is a very pleasant retreat from a Canadian winter, even the mild ones we have on the coast.

And, today it snowed again around the Salish Sea. My host wrote to tell me, “It snowed again!!! Change your flights, stay another week, save yourselves man, for the love of God!!!! 

We missed four earthquakes, too.

To stay is tempting.  A little.  But NOT tempting enough.  Why?  I don’t know, really. There is no place like home?  I am not a cowboy…?  Flat and brown gets me down….?  I don’t play cards and ‘do’ BBQ with old folks….?  Seen one mall, seen ’em all…..?  I don’t really know…..

It’s probably just that I am old. I thought I’d be drawn to play golf.  I really like golf. But, well, I was more drawn to writing the book and we are definitely closer to the end of that exercise.  This trip turned out to be a writer’s retreat and, in that vein, it was superb.  Takes time to read and re-read the same book ten times and changing it every time.

It was also a chance to peak into the ‘media’ and ‘news’ that is right here in the heart of Trumplandia.

I confess: NPR and PBS is good.  CBS and CNN are good.  Of course, the BBC is good.  So is the NY Times and a handful of other news sources.  Instead of flag-waving and ignorant propaganda, many ‘Merican news sources seem to be making an extra effort to be ‘neutral’ and fact-based.  This new trend to ‘fact-checking’ may, in fact, reestablish the MSM as something to listen to.

Last night FOX News did a report on Sweden’s Immigration problems as touted by Trump.  They interviewed two ‘security advisers’ to support their contention that Sweden is having unreported difficulties with immigration. By this morning, several major news agencies reported that no officials at any level of government in Sweden had ever heard of the so-called security advisers interviewed on Fox. Fox simply made up the titles!

Mind you, ‘security adviser’ is hardly a title restricted to only trained and specially educated people.  I am pretty sure I could claim to be a security adviser.  Who can say otherwise?  But the claim had implications of official status, authenticity and legitimacy.  It was none of those.

But my point is: the media war is on.  Fox lies on Saturday night and is debunked Sunday morning.  The MSM has never been so ‘on the ball’, so diligent in their fact-checking and so focused on truth-telling.  I think it is a good thing.

But, so far, that kind of professional journalism has not spread to the Vancouver Sun, CBC or Global.

I.e. Where is the OUTRAGE at the BC Liberal party for the blatant ‘bribing of the electorate’ (with the electorate’s own money) just before the next election after years of withholding?  Where is the condemnation of the site C dam that has been crumbling in various ways from the get go and now has a major crack in the wall? Where is the follow-up story on the make-us-all-rich promise of LNG?  Where is the anger at the Kinder Morgan pipeline sell-out?  Seriously? The US media is better than ours.

I admit to having watched much worse media than ours, too.  The local Arizona station did five or six stories in a row that were not stories at all.  ‘Police getting nicer’ (some feel good cops talking to people took up gobs of time), a story on ‘therapy dogs’ for the mentally challenged, a practice session for some applicants in the Special Olympics, some motorcycle rider’s traffic accidents and a day care that is not up to scratch with cleaning and such.  Half an hour of less-than-gossip. Stupid-making gibberish passing as news and filled with advertisements for lawyers and drugs.  Very weird.  In effect, it was cheap, amateurish local news-gathering used to convey an extraordinary level of huckster-style-advertising.

My biggest take-away from Arizona is a confirmation that the common people everywhere share so much of the same values; kindness, consideration, generosity and friendliness.  These are nice folks.  Ignorant?  I think so…..but benignly so for the most part.  They prefer sitcoms and football, BBQ and shopping malls, fast food and country music to anything more complicated.  But they’ll share their BBQ and beer at the drop of a hat.  That ain’t all bad.

I have known this kind of common humanity everywhere I have been in my life.  It may be soccer and cervezas, rice and chicken feet or Vodka and borscht, makes no difference, the common people are usually alright. Nice.  Pleasant.  Like sheep, really. Easy to exploit, manipulate and manage, that’s for sure. But easy to like, as well.

It’s been a good vacation.

 

Off the grid porn

UPDATE:  I apologize but you may have to delete your history cache in your search engine to get rid of the malware that sends you porn.  Maybe not.  My tech advisor wrote: Browser cache can be tricky sometimes and not cleaning up and going away quickly. The site is definitely fixed in regards to the hack, Google will stop showing that it is hacked in the listings after a day or so. As for Sally’s computer, not sure if it is hers being hacked (I doubt it) .  I am sure it is a cache issue. I’m not familiar with Windows so I’m not sure what else to suggest you do.  Try here: http://www.refreshyourcache.com/en/home/ it might be of help for your browser just in case you missed a step.

(SOooooooo……..MAYBE) You are now gluten-free, preservative-free, sugar-free and finally hack-free! The little malware leech has been removed from my server.  No more porn!  At least NOT for me (I am saying that like it is a good thing). Which it is…really…..I mean….well, it was kind of a fun surprise…for a minute…OK, two minutes…..

The extra weird thing was that the porn-sites changed!  I saw what made me freak, and so I did a lot of admin stuff…then went back and it was still porn but from a different source and so I went and read up on how to find the malware, wrote some help-me emails and, after a bit went and checked again.  It was still there but now Japanese anime porn.

So, it strikes me that the little malware program was simply not about porn at all. Why? Because after I had been afflicted for a day, I got a Microsoft Virus Bulletin telling me to phone a special 800 number to get my computer cleaned up.  I didn’t. It’s phony.  Spam.   But my techies told me that call was the primary goal of the malware.  They wanted to try to con me into crap and steal information in some way. The porn was just to get my attention.

Why would they think that would work?

But it must be replicating so you may have the same bug.  Sal has it.  So we erased her history but she still had it so we are erasing some other crap……

CAUTION – we may STILL be hacked but I don’t think so – not at the server level, anyway.  Sal just tried it and got porned again so she thinks we still are.  Me and the techies think it is now in her computer as cached history.  What I did was go in to her computer and deleted her browsing history for the last week.  THAT may do it.  I have also asked my techies…..more to follow…..

They just answered: “Yea, most likely your computer cache (search history) is still showing the weird one-redirects. Site is loading fine for me and for a couple others I asked to test.”

History:  First warning yesterday:  WARNING!!!  I have been hacked…or maybe Google has been hacked……I don’t quite know.

If you are subscribed to offthegridhomes.org then you should have no problem.  If you type in the URL to your search engine, you should also encounter no problems but you might. If you go that route, do not click the obvious top suggestion! BECAUSE IF YOU SEARCH for the site on Google, you will get misdirected various forms of PORN sites.

A quick check found few of them related to off the grid or politics.  Well, maybe Anthony Weiner was featured in there somewhere but I didn’t look too closely.

Sadly, this misdirection will not increase numbers to my site.  The extra numbers are going to the porn sites.  I just see no upside for me.  In fact, I saw a lot of bottom-side.  From a variety of angles.  This is NOT good.

I do not know what to advise.  I have asked my techie son to address it.  Seems misdirection to porn sites is a common hack.  I read about it on Google forums.  The hackers somehow attach a hidden access file somewhere and when you type in your desired URL you get desire but not of the political and rambling off the grid kind.

I am upset  I can’t complete with that.  Even my best blog can’t compete with giant penises and skinny naked women.  I am not so sure I can even compete with cute kitten photos and flowers, to be honest.

This may be Dave’s blog swan song……………….going out in a tawdry, kinky bent, like all old men…..disgusting……reviled…..so sad…..all we ever really wanted was to be loved…..in all the wrong ways, perhaps, but loved nevertheless…..

Sally’s scenario

As you know, Sal had an idea for a book.  Trump gains power and exerts it.  The nation’s mood turns ugly. Soon all hell breaks loose.  Right wing nut bars are desecrating Jewish cemeteries, Muslims are being attacked and immigrants, refugees, tourists and all manner of travelers are being harassed, jailed, shot and prosecuted.  Even Canadians. Crazy.

And it all happens so fast that a couple of retired, white, stodgy-type Canadians on vacation are caught in the cross-hairs of a rabid police state running amok with power.  The oldsters then have to make a run for it. The book is basically a cheap B action flick starring 70 year-olds.

As I mentioned before….it’s a fun premise but until last night, still relegated to the extreme fiction genre.  Last night Trump made it mild fiction.  Maybe, to some extent, a reality.

Trump’s new order, in effect, gives unfettered power of deportation to cops and the border patrol.  Ostensibly, they will exercise their newly expanded powers hunting only for those who are criminals or gang members or known bad hombres.  But technically, the order reads that a cop or border patrol agent can ‘deem’ a person deportable and that ‘officer’ requires no proof.  It is a discretionary power.  No courts.  No checks, no balances.

And our level of trust in the street-level, uniformed, US law enforcers is how high? And, making matters worse, Trump has also authorized the doubling of such forces. And our level of trust in the training of these new, currently unemployed young men and women is what, exactly?

I wonder how many young women will be coerced by pumped up, bigoted border agents whether the women are documented or not?  I wonder how many young men will be beaten and jailed whether documented or not?  I wonder if old Canadians will be deemed exempt from that Nazi-like behaviour.  I wonder if I will find out first hand?

There is trouble ahead for many.

Now – to be more realistic – We are home in a week.  We will be fine.  But, here in Arizona, some people are already very much afraid.  Those who are undocumented are terrified (not of being deported but of being arrested).  Those who have temporary visas and work or student permits are equally as frightened and even those who have the proper documents but who have minor infractions on their record are convinced they will be deported.

Maybe it’s a good thing?  Maybe Mexicans and Muslims should go back to where they came from?  Maybe the US simply cannot take any more people?  Maybe Trump and the racists are right, they have to protect themselves from strangers. Maybe these hate-motivated tactics are necessary for the survival of the Trump-types…..I judge they are wrong, wrong, wrong, of course, but I am NOT POTUS.  I am not a Virginia coal miner.  I am not a hill-billy meth-head.  I do not know the lives and mind set of the poor, white, ill-educated and unemployed (nor do I want to). Maybe I cannot and should not judge the actions of another country.  Maybe I just go home and watch the drama unfold and say, “tsk, tsk, tsk”.

And maybe the Conservatives win the next election and promote their legislation to do the same thing in Canada?

 

Strange

Phoenix is a hotbed for snowbirds.  Literally.  Vast swathes of one-level double-wides in huge gated and walled ‘winter’ communities made up almost entirely of northern-state ‘Mericans and Canadians, they are populated 80% by people with grey or dyed blue/orange hair.  The other 20% are bald. They play cards.  They gather in clubhouses.  Some of the more spry ‘generians’ play golf.  But they all shop. And shop. And shop some more.

Sal is OK with that.  Me?  Not so much.  Yesterday we went to a crap-and-junk mart packed with people.  Today, we went to a craft and fabrics store in a mall as big as Central Park. After a painful twenty minutes spent looking at Styrofoam shapes, glue and sparkles, I found her and said, “So, sweetie?  You find what you were looking for?”

“Oh, I wasn’t looking for anything in particular.  Just looking, you know?”

“Oh.  Well, then…..have you seen it all?”

“No, only about half but I think we have to leave.”

Feigning reluctance and disappointment, I said, “Oh, really?  Shouldn’t you see it all….now that we are here, I mean?  Great sparkles and Styrofoam shapes over there…..”

“No.  It’s too much.  I have to come back better prepared.  We’ll need to have a truck.  I am going to be hours.  It’s gonna be big.”

“Unh, we do have a truck……”

“No.  I am gonna need days.  Multiple trips.  The fabrics are soooooooo cheap, so cheap.  I can see quilts in my head.  We are gonna need a lot of time….”

……………I am losing her……..

 

 

Big Bhai (Hindi-style)

You MUST read this: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-us-can-learn-from-indias-move-toward-cashless-society-wadhwa?trk=eml-email_feed_ecosystem_digest_01-hero-0-null&midToken=AQGN_uvUyT7mWw&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=1EdC3LATEUeTE1

As most of you know, I am a smidge resistant to Big (Bhai) Brother, personal information collection and modern tendencies to surveillance and loss of privacy.  I am not freaked out.  I jut don’t like it.  (I do not even like being controlled like cattle by airports and BC Ferries so I am a bit odd).  I just don’t see the point of it and I can easily envision the misuse of it.  The second book even has a bit about that sort of thing in it.  I advise, for instance, using cash instead of credit cards as much as possible. But I won’t bore you with that right now.  There are volumes written on that kind of thing. To my mind, there is nothing to be gained and everything to be lost when Big Brother gains greater influence in your life.

And now India has taken it to a whole other level. It’s scary.

We, in Canada/USA, are registered at birth and given a social insurance number. That number does a lot of things for us but it also is a way in which Big Bro tracks you, knows you, taxes you and controls you.  The SIN number is a tool for government control.   But India couldn’t do it because the people weren’t born with the numbers issued automatically. They were too disorganized, too many people, too much bureaucracy  – over 1.1 billion people. They just never got it together.

Not til last year.  Then Modi (the PM) changed everything…he eliminated the 500 and 1000 rupee notes (85% of the nation’s commerce is conducted with those bills) and implemented a retinal scan and finger print system so that people could be registered with a bank and get ‘electronic’ currency in exchange for the old bills. Now they are registered.  Now they are in the data bank. Now they can borrow.

Whooppee.

Now they can be taxed, too.  They can be tracked.  They can be found.  They can be controlled.  Within a single generation every single Indian will be scanned, printed and in the oh-so-very-trustworthy Indian system. The Matrix, Indian style.

We, of course, are in denial about that sort of thing.  The same system is being implemented here except more subtly.  We started with simple SIN numbers and passports.  Then driver’s licenses and credit cards.  Dental records, DNA, medical records, credit checks, police checks.  Lately, we have added IP addresses and cell-phone SIM cards plus more and more surveillance cameras.  For the most part, Big Brother can find you anywhere, anytime and for any reason.

“But we have laws limiting their access to our information.”

Yes, we do.  Those are the very same laws that the governments violate all the live-long day.  So, we have the laws and we have the government in place to enforce them but, of course, the government rarely polices itself.  Nor do they catch hackers that access the same information.  So, we do NOT really have the laws nor do we have the enforcement.  Don’t kid yourself.

“Dave, you are being paranoid.  If you got nothing to hide, you got no worries.”

I am not paranoid.  Nor do I have anything to hide (thus I can afford this rant on the blog).  It’s just that Orwell predicted Big Brother in his novel: 1984.  He was a bit early (by say, 30 years) but, by 2014, he was almost 100% right.

“Dave, is this OTG stuff?” 

Yeah.  I think it is.  Living OTG does not get you truly off the radar but it does lower one’s profile.  The bastards know I am here and they can come and get me anytime they want to but, as I am hiding nothing, they probably won’t.  And, if they choose to do it anyway, it will cost them much less to go collect up others already corralled up nicely in the city first. Jus’ sayin’…..

 

Whew!

Back online.  We have been ‘down’ for a while and now are back!

Not that it means anything, really.  

I have this to to report:  I have traveled somewhat extensively through the “Merican southwest and, to be honest, I have not been overly impressed.  Brown, tan, beige and more beige with a sprinkle of purple now and then is how I see it.  Plus some cactus and buzzards.  Mind you, I am including half of California, Texas, New Mexico, the Baja and Senora (Mexico) in that blanket condemnation – all the way through Nevada and Utah. NOT a big fan of burnt ochre.

But I have changed my mind.  Or, rather, have opened it.  The rain helped.  A week or two after the rains we experienced in the first five or so days, the surrounding world changed. We have had a chance to see the impact water has on the desert and it is gorgeous-making.  Literally.  A few days ago, Sal and I went out to Tortilla Flats National Park and did the tourist ‘loop’.  It was stunning.

Ranger Dave                                                                Photo: Mary Hoffman

Superstition Mountains are the classic western backdrop for a now-green desert of giant Saguaro and Prickly Pear cactus with colour-enhanced boulders of many hues.  I have never seen desert so lovely.

This snowbird thing ain’t all bad.

But, if I was to admit it, I am getting a little homesick.  I find myself planning the next projects in my head, listing the materials I will need, wondering how to get the whole show back on the road when we get home.  I am thinking ahead….

A very brief word about politics.  The news is openly frank and critical of Trump but otherwise silly and shallow…cats-in-trees, kids collecting for charities…celebrity sightings, pro-ball spring training…that kind of thing.  Much more than I would have expected.  No real news.  But the average Arizonian doesn’t seem to care or have a political thought in their heads.  Some do.  But the majority do not.  No one wears MAG (make America great again) hats.  The odd whacko sports a huge ‘Merican flag on their beater truck but they are in the minority (seen only two).  It is clearly business as usual in Phoenix.  Honestly, I think more Canadians are interested in Washington than are ‘Mericans (percentage wise).

One thing is noticeable, the ‘Mericans are uber friendly.  Everyone talks with each other like they are friends or neighbours.  We are included in all sorts of spontaneous conversations.  It’s very pleasant.

And things are so cheap by our standards!  I bought a couple of T-shirts that were already inexpensive ($12.00) but, when the cashier heard our Canadian accents, she discounted them more by 15% and then offered us a 30% discount later when we bought some more crap.  How does a big box store like Kohl’s stay in business selling me (nice) T-shirts so cheap?  Gas now at US$1.97 a gallon.  Food cheap-like-borscht.  Only restaurant food is the ‘same’ or higher than the equivalent in Canada.

But, enough of that.  Jus’ sayin’….

Book is at the last stage.  It’s now with some beta readers for proofing and critiquing. Could be harsh.  But, we are getting done what needs doin’.  So, we’re good.

Hope all six of youse are good, too?

 

 

To: my dear friends…so sad…..

…you are stuck in a foot and a half of snow.  Sal and I are in Arizona getting a tan.  Life is so unfair sometimes.  Poor babies…..

But it is not like it is all wine and roses here, ya know….well, that’s not true.  We have wine every day.  Roses in a few days (Valentines)…..but, you know what I mean.  It’s hard here sometimes, too.  The internet is patchy.  The desert doves can be a bit noisy in their cooing now and then.  We have our challenges.  What to make for dinner, for instance?  Or do we go out?  Nothing new on Netflix.  Can you feel our pain?

Well, never mind.  We’ll muddle through.  We’ve gotten through worse.  This, too, shall pass.  In three weeks, actually, dammit!  Gawd!  I hope it rains softly and warmly for a week between then and now.  I am not looking forward to slush.  Hell, getting the Avalanche dusty is about as much hardship as I can deal with right now. I haven’t even dealt with that.  “Oh, I’ll wash it on the weekend.”

I’ve said that for the last few weekends.

Car washing is a thing here.  All the guys and some of the women get out on the weekend and wash their cars. It’s weird.  I guess it’s the Arizonian equivalent of Vancouver suburbanites cutting the lawn but, here, the lawn is astro-turf and no one has a lawn mower.  So, washing the car is showing pride of ownership, I guess.

Sal went out and swept the astro-turf.

It’s the thought that counts.

Here’s weird: I am starting to like the desert.  Kinda.  My host has a nice yard and he has planted cactus and palm trees with patches of astro-turf and paving stones to make a very pleasant ‘Palm Desert’ kinda thing goin’ on.  With the BBQ and the gas fire-pit, it is American south-west domestic and pleasant.

If I start wearing cowboy boots, please shoot me.

My host’s buddy (also BC based) has just pulled in to his house right next door. Last night. He’s here for his few weeks of ‘break’.  The next generation (they are in their 40’s) of snow-birds is in the making.

Circle of life, eh?