Life, eh?

The only thing occupying my mind these days is Kinder Morgan and, of course, the colossal, slo-mo, ongoing train wreck that is the clown-prince Trump.  But you know how I feel and what I think about both so there is little point in repeating it.  So, I won’t.  I will add this, however, Trudeau is stupider than I first thought (and that was pretty damn stupid) and Rachel Notley is showing more and more of her ugly side (the one I personally encountered eighteen years ago when she was a privileged intern with the then Attorney General, Ujjal Dosanj.) She was a nasty piece of work back then and hasn’t lost a bit of the poison it seems.

And I am kind of pleased with the way Horgan is deporting himself….but, we’ll see how that unfolds.  At least he is understated and calm.

Instead, let us turn for the moment to community.  I’ll keep it short.

Our community – such as it is – is spread out over approximately 250 square miles and includes not quite that number of people on a busy August day.  We have a density of less than one person per square mile but I am including the water between islands  and so, for the sake of simplicity: one person per square mile.  Say, 200 people including everyone and that may be a bit generous.  At any given time, I doubt you could find 100 people (not quite true – when there are the fewest people out here, it is winter.  When winter is well-established fewer people travel.  Still, the 11 student, one room school can usually count on 100 people in the audience for the kid’s Xmas play.)  But getting 100 people at just about any other time is next to impossible.

The other day, we had a community potluck (40 or so people) and a show-and-tell slide show about a local environmental project underway.  It was good.  Interesting.  Sal and I will contribute.  But the real message for me was the make-up of the audience.  Everyone was 55 or older except a few (maybe 5-8) and their children (maybe another 5-8).  The balance were older people.  Like me.

I sat with S (70+) and R (also 70+).  J and K were just behind me (70+). The presenter was 60. This was a senior segment of the population.  They are also – almost 80% – of at least modest means.  These folks ain’t rich.  Not in financial terms, anyway.  They are not poor, tho.  Not ‘homeless’ types but old clothes, old boats, older, beaten cars.  Minimalists without working at it.  They don’t spend BIG. But they are healthy, active and well-fed.  They do what they want.  They go where they want.  They are pretty free.  I sorta feel I am amongst my peers.

Of course, I take Ibuprofen, occasionally nap, eat less red meat and drink less scotch these days so, if age is attaching itself to me, it is to them, too.  Our potluck was populated by white-haired people who appeared a bit shorter than they did last year.  But they are all on-the-go and none needs a walker or oxygen bottles.  These guys still chop wood, go to sea in small boats and carry heavy things around.  They are doing good.

But age is showing by…well,. not showing.  What I mean by that is that more and more old-timers are either moving to town or spending a helluva lot more time there.  Some, actually spend a helluva lot more time in a warm climate over winter but, no matter how you look at it, more of the community is NOT here more of the time.

To be fair, there is always an inflow to counter the outflow but, being part of the inflow requires energy and less years.  Older folks (and the teens) tend to be the outflow.  I am aware of this.  Increasingly so.  If I project, I can see Sal and I doing something similar.  I figure by the time I am 80, I will be spending more time in some ‘easier’ place.  By 90, I may not be here at all (in every sense of that).  We’ll see.

Life, eh?




Plan A – Winging it

We hauled Sal’s little boat for the winter and now it is time to set it free.

That means bottom painting and engine servicing.  In theory, no big deal.  In practice, it is a smidge more difficult.  The reason: even little boats and little engines aren’t light.  The boat weighs around 750-800 pounds and the engine is around 125 – 130.  The beach is rocky and the deck is ten feet above high tide.  Of course, we already had it hauled but not onto the actual deck and not upside down.  To get it upside down meant that Sal and I had to move it and flip it.

In theory, ‘no big deal’ but we had also received about two tons of decking and stair material for re-doing our mid deck and stairs.  The lower deck was jammed.  

The boat was on the funicular.  The lumber was in the way and the boat needed unloading, dismantling and flipping.  And Sal is just not as strong as she was…….

We needed a crane.

So….I installed my crane.  Unfortunately the little crane is pick-up truck sized and has less than half the capacity or reach as we needed.  Which both Sal and I related to.

The trick was to get the three entities, each lacking capacity and ability, to somehow manage the simple-in-concept task of painting the bottom of the boat on a pile of jumble without getting hurt or broken in the process.

We are halfway there.

The first task after the crane installation was to lift the boat off the funicular.  We achieved that by using the crane to lift one end and us lifting the other.  And that was attempted after dismantling everything in the boat (engine, railings, equipment).  That went well even though I lifted like an Olympian and Sal lifted like two.

“So, there it is.  Right side up.  Let’s flip it.”


“We stand on the pile and lift.  When it is vertical on it’s side, we dance around to the other side and slowly let it go down.”

“How do we dance while holding a boat vertically and standing on a pile of lumber?”

“Good question.  Maybe we should think on that.”

Two days later, I had figured it out.

“So, how do we do it?”

“I have to make an A-frame that will straddle the woodpile.  But first, let’s go down again and feel how heavy it is.”

We lifted.  Groans and shrieked warnings were uttered.  We got the boat on edge.

“I thought we were just getting a feel!” 

“Not the time to get technical on me, Sal.  You dance to the other side and keep it on balance while I do my dance to get there with you.”

“What if I can’t hold it?  What if it falls?”

“Then it will be all your fault, won’t it.?”

“This WAS your plan, wasn’t it?”

“Winging it is always plan A, Sal.  Doing it right is always plan B.  You know that.”


A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

The following is an edited version of a piece by Elizabeth May.  It was edited only for brevity. 

Many people believe what is being said about the Kinder Morgan pipeline.  They think it is a good thing or, at the very least, that there is a valid argument for it.  There isn’t.

Stated lies:  1. Kinder Morgan’s expanded pipeline was thoroughly reviewed.
2. Kinder Morgan’s pipeline is in the national interest.
3. Alberta’s economy depends on moving solid bitumen to export markets.
4. Eventually British Columbia must back down and accept the pipeline.

Here’s the problem with those assumptions (lies):

Kinder Morgan’s expanded pipeline was not thoroughly reviewed.
Prior to the 2012 omnibus budget Bill C-38, repealing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the National Energy Board (NEB) had had no role in environmental assessment. Thanks to C-38, it was put in charge of pipelines. 
The NEB felt forced by time limits imposed by C-38 to alter its usual quasi-judicial process. Intervenors were denied procedural fairness — such as being allowed to cross-examine industry experts, or even to be allowed in the room.  The abuse of normal rules for procedural fairness was breathtaking.

The result was a hearing that left the NEB without actual evidence. It had a pile of worthless assertions, untested as evidence.

The Royal Society of Canada, concluded that we lacked the science to know if it is possible to clean-up dilbit. The NEB ruled that accepting the Royal Society study would be unfair to Kinder Morgan.

The NEB was unperturbed when a Kinder Morgan expert committed fraud, whiting out the word “draft” from a US EPA spill dispersion model, then introducing that plan to the NEB claiming it was the approach used in the US. Another intervenor, economist Robyn Allan, contacted the EPA only to discover that they did not use this model. 

There is no independent review making the case that Kinder Morgan’s pipeline is in the national interest. The NEB never conducted a review remotely capable of meeting the average citizen’s understanding of what is in the public interest. The largest union in the oil sands, Unifor, intervened before the NEB. Unifor attempted to enter evidence that building Kinder Morgan would cost jobs; shipping out unprocessed solid bitumen to refineries in other countries ships out Canadian jobs at the same time and increases the carbon footprint of the product. Shipping solid bitumen diluted with toxic fossil fuel condensate for export bypasses the last remaining refinery in Burnaby. The refinery cannot process bitumen. It has already cut its workforce by 30 per cent and if Kinder Morgan goes ahead, it will likely close. The NEB refused to accept the evidence. It ruled that its mandate did not include jobs, or climate, or upstream or downstream impacts.

So, “national interest,” according to the NEB, does not include energy security, net employment benefits, environment, climate, GDP, or anything other than getting the pipeline approved.

Alberta’s economy does not depend on moving solid bitumen to export markets
When former Premier Peter Lougheed envisioned an oil sands industry, he said the first rule was “Think like an owner.” He had planned for bitumen to be processed in Alberta for a Canadian market. The idea that pipelines to ship out solid bitumen (with diluent to make a solid flow) was essential did not emerge until after the 2008 financial crisis. That pipeline was Keystone, straight south. And as late as 2011, Stephen Harper’s position was that no pipeline should be built to the B.C. coast as no bitumen should be exported to countries with lower environmental standards than those in Canada.

All of this does not even touch on the fundamental issue of how Indigenous peoples and First Nations were treated throughout this process.

“I am choking on the lies and hypocrisy of Kinder Morgan, the NEB and now the Trudeau Liberals.”   E. May.  

Fake news!!

I just read a ‘breaking news’ report regarding Norovirus in BC oysters.  Seems two oyster farms were closed when samples tested by the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Provincial Health Department resulted in confirmed Norovirus contamination.  Some oyster farms were closed last season as well.  Those were on the Sunshine coast as I recall.

The report was datelined: CBC.  I read it.  It said nothing more than what I wrote in the first sentence and did not give the area where the closure was enacted.  So, I read the second report, this time from the Vancouver Sun.  Virtually word for word.  Exact same information.  So, I read the Times Colonist report.  Same.  Finally, I read CTV News and News 1130.  All the same.  Even stock photos were the same.

That was five news sources.  Five short virtually the same news-release reports.  Not one of the news sources even bothered to phone the BCCDC to find out where the closures were or any additional information or, if they had, they added none of it.

A robot could have done those reports.

As a taxpayer, I pay for the CBC do the news.  As a newspaper subscriber (in the past) I paid for the Sun and the Province.  I would watch the ads on Global and I listened to the 11:30 radio now and then, too.  I read the Times Colonist when in Victoria.

Apparently it is all the same guy reporting.  At least on the Oyster desk…..

I understand perfectly well that a news release is a news release and they are not going to mess with it very much.  But, what if the release has a huge hole in it?  Do they even bother to read it?  Is it just some flunky intern getting a blurb of crap over the ‘wire’; and immediately printing it – whatever it is?

Seems like it.

Had anyone read that release, they would wonder, “Hmmm…wonder if it’s the same area as last year?  Hmm…wonder which farms?  Hmm…I better call ’em and find out more about this….people and businesses need to know….”

“Nah.  Who cares?  I don’t get paid to think.  I just print the news that’s fit to print.  Right, wrong, who cares so long as I don’t have to work at my reporter’s job.” 

No wonder people think the news is fake.  It may not be fake but as Noam Chomsky implied, “It is manufactured.”


“You’ve got your orders, Justin. Now, do it!”

Kinder Morgan (the pipeline people who want to bring fresh tar to our beaches) is getting impatient with us.  They have stomped their feet and they want their lickspittle to do as instructed.  “Make it so, number one!”  Justin is inclined to obey, of course, but BC has put up an objection and that challenge is taking time.  First Nations are resisting, too.  That also takes time.  Kinder Morgan doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Time is money.  They are calling the bluff on the Feds. “Do it!  Or we may take our diggers and go home!”

For the most part, I am in favour of Horgan, First Nations and the BC government.  The pipeline is a complete sellout to corporate interests, threatens the environment and does nothing to help Canadians. NOTHING!  Resistance by BC and any thinking human being is obligatory. They are doing what they said they would do and it is the right thing to do.

But they will lose.

The Federal government has jurisdiction and, where they don’t, they can legislate to get it.  Worse, the Feds have to fight Horgan because of NAFTA and the privileges and rights we gave away years ago to the Americans.  The US corporate-state may not own us, but they pretty much ‘lease us’ and, in British Common law, leasing gives a lot of ‘ownership’ power.  Kinder Morgan will threaten and sue Canada to get the money they would have had to otherwise work for with the pipeline if they don’t get what they want.

We lose giving in and we will lose fighting them.

The answer, of course, is in finding a resolution some other way….refining the sludge to an evaporative product would solve all of the problems but the major one – climate change exacerbation.  More greenhouse gases.  But that would at the very least not add sludge and tar to the Salish Sea.

Small consolation.

Plus – the Chinese do not want to pay for value-added product.  They want their sludge at the lower price.  You know, like they just want raw logs and not lumber or finished product?

Bottom line: the drama queen is between a rock and a tar-baby.  He will cave to corporate interests.  Either way, lots of lawyers will make a lot of money.  Within a decade or two we will learn of tankers colliding in English Bay or Coal Harbour or pipelines rupturing into Burrard Inlet or some BC river.  And all sorts of oily hell will break loose.  There will be calls for a Royal Commission and we will all grieve and lament the death of the Gulf of Georgia, salmon streams, beaches and great swathes of forest.  Plucky kids will be photographed cleaning sea birds on the beach.  Our planet will be one giant step closer to dying.  And Texas shareholders in Kinder Morgan will be discussing public relations.

John-in-Alberta-types (I do not know the real John.  My reader may be a non-smoking, anti-gun, teetotal for all I know) will be paying $10.00 a liter for his old, rusting Silverado and cursing the socialists and tree-huggers.  He will champion the oil companies.  He will vote Conservative.  He will use his Employment Insurance cheque to buy more cigarettes, booze and bullets.  He’ll watch hockey.  And he will also curse Trudeau.  That’s the Canadian way.

Kinder Morgan quitting?

Don’t kid yourself.  If it isn’t this way, it will be another.  That is what they do.



The traps are already down….

…from the day before.

At about ten in the morning (it’s raining today but that seems only fair) when we don our gear.  Sal gets on like Capt. Highliner.  Wet gear, hand warmers, double this, extra that. Really cute toque.  Looks capable of high seas crab-fishing in Alaska…in the winter.  I go knowing that I am going to get wet and being okay with that.

Getting geared up

On our way over, we stop to mist the mushrooms (it is raining but the spores are indoors and not going anywhere fast.  Suspect a case of dead spores?).  Then we stop to measure up a small construction job.  By 10:30 we are at the boat, engine running and loading on the barrel and bucket.

John’s prawn puller does all the heavy lifting

Five minutes later we are on the ‘spot prawn spot’ (local prawns are called Spot prawns because of their little white spots on the tail).  The prawning beds?  Prawn grounds?  Sal leans over the edge of the boat and hauls in the float and puts the line on the prawn puller.  Press the button.  Nada.  “Oops. I forgot to hook up the wires to the battery.”  A minute later, the first of three traps starts to come up.  I haul it over the gunwale.  Looks like twenty or thirty prawns.  When we quit a few minutes later, we have over 100 or so prawns after we sorted out out the females so as to set them free.  There are only three or four moms-in-waiting this time.

The first trap is up

But we have two strings down (one for each of us).  So a few minutes later, the second string is in and it yielded close to the first one.  We have just over 200 prawns.  The BC daily limit for one license is 200 prawns.  We did NOT make our limit of a theoretical 400.

Ready for beheading

There are roughly 20 prawns to the pound so we have ten solid pounds.  We are soon back at the dock doing the ‘beheading’ and tidying up the gear. By 11:30, I am sitting at the computer drinking tea and writing this up.  One hour.  One and a half hours all in.  Two at the most (it wasn’t two but it could have been had we re-baited and re-set the traps).

Rinsed and sorted according to size

Special?  Not really.  We can do this a few times a year and be very happily ‘kept in prawns’ for our needs.  Our needs are not much.  Usually we have prawns when we have guests and/or sushi.  Still, when you think about it, we likely consume the equivalent of a pound a month.  No more than 15-30 lbs a year.  NOT a big deal but a nice addition to the family menu.

Ready for the freezer floating in water-filled  zip-lock bags

I drank a whole bottle of sake last night….

It’s not hard to do.  Sake goes down easy.  But, I am surprised at myself.  I thought I was a better person.  Good men only need to drink sake to be re-classified as bad.

Sal told me that.

It all started with the prawns.  We went out and caught some yesterday and, as a celebration, I offered to cook dinner.  When I cook dinner, thirty percent of the time I am making sushi.  This is because I only have two other dishes in my repertoire (BBQ steak and something else that has currently slipped my mind).  Maybe four dishes if you count assembling stuff on a pizza shell.

Anyway, I make sushi and an accompanying mess all at the same time.  To offset the stress of being in the middle of a chaotic kitchen, I heat up a bottle of sake and sip it as I cook.

A lot of cooks do that – but with wine.  I am not alone in this.  But, you see, there is a loop-back mechanism at work here.  The more sake I drink, the slower I get at making the sushi.  The slower I get, the more sake disappears. By the time the bottle is empty, the sushi is either done or I have kinda slowed up so much that Sal comes in and finishes up.  The key is to finish the sushi just before the sake.

“That is NOT the key!  The key is to make sushi like a good husband and only have one sake in the process!” 

“Say, d’ya wanna play Sumo after dinner?”

“I’m not talking to you anymore tonight but I will say, the sushi is delicious.”

“C’mon, I’ll make us each one of those diaper things and we can squat and rush at each other later?”

“I am taking my sushi and going upstairs.  You’re getting weird.”

Image result for female sumo

“Oh, relax.  I am only kidding.  We can play sumo in kimonos.”

“This is your way of getting out of making dinner, isn’t it?”

“No.  Infrequent dinner-making is my way of limiting my sake intake.”