Not really a good lesson learned from Thailand….

I am a Greenie.  I vote Green.  I think Green and I practice green to a large extent.  I am not perfect but I am concerned where my waste oil goes and I don’t burn treated wood or plastic and such.  I compost.  Recycle.  That kinda thing.  That does not make me David Suzuki but I am better than most, not as good as some.  Gimme a B-.

But, as you know, we spent two months in SE Asia.  That’s an eye opener and a nose-closer.  Put succinctly, Bangkok produces more pollution in a month than does all of BC in a year.  Even newly eco-conscious (it’s all relative) Hong Kong (and all of China has become more eco-conscious officially at least) produces more garbage and pollution per capita than does anyone in BC.  I may be wrong in that metric but it sure seems that way.  And they (Xi Jinping the newest dictator-for-life) are all talking like that.  Asia is NOT environmentally conscious – not in a relative sense, anyway.  But it is moving that way.

And, when I started to think about it, I wondered, “Where the hell does all their garbage go?”  I do not know the whole of the answer but a large portion ends up on streets, ditches, canals and in neighbourhood heaps every now and then.  The largest portion of Thai garbage ends up in the gulf of Thailand.

Thailand has a BIG waste disposal problem and it is only getting bigger every day.

Thailand is not the worst of the SE Asian countries but it is likely second after the Philippines (and China, of course, simply because of it’s size)

“What’s your point, Dave?”

I don’t have a good point.  But this is true: whatever effort I make, whatever effort we all (in BC) make, none of it is a bucket in the ocean of garbage that is currently polluting everything globally and especially everything in the Far East.  The world is awash in garbage.

“So, what is your point, Dave?  I am getting bored……” 

The point is: pollution and environmental degradation are now almost fully recognized as real issues that are threatening us all and yet, and yet……we are still NOT DOING anything about it in any significant way and the Trumpists are actually advocating for the opposite.  “More oil!  More coal!  More and higher tariffs on solar panels! More industry and let’s throw in a war or two to jump-start the economy.  Nuclear?  Why the hell not!?”  

And Canada?  “More oil!  Ship it to the coast. To hell with the environment, we need jobs.”  

It is madness and we are being complicit because we don’t want to rock the boat.  We don’t want to be uncomfortable even as we drown in garbage and watch the natural world crash and literally burn.  Shouldn’t we at least write a protest to the imbecile-in-chief and the clown-prince of parliament?

But, maybe I am wrong?  Maybe the whole world is going the way of Fresh Kills (the highest elevation on the US eastern seaboard is the garbage mountain in New Jersey called Fresh Kills).  Maybe I should relax and simply watch as the natural world dies and Walmarts sprout up instead of trees, mountains of garbage replace the mountains torn down by strip mining and bottled water slakes our thirst instead of that from mountain streams.

Who am I to stand in the way of progress?

Well, I am not alone in passively standing up against it…read mark Boyle (he of the Moneyless Manifesto and now three other books).

But, before Rachel and Justin sell us out completely, I strongly suggest they go for a swim in the Gulf of Thailand, a wade in the Yangtze or a dip in the Ganges.  Let them bathe in the filth and toxicity that has become all too common around this world.  Vacation in Bangladesh.  Feed them sea food from Hong Kong Harbour.  Please.  Force-feed them if you must!

Do I think such an experience will open their eyes?

Of course not.  It may blind them for a day or so and one large meal of it might even kill them but ‘change their mind’?  Death is easier.  There’s always hope.


Comment: good numbers on the Me, Too piece.  But few comments.  That tells you something.  It’s a hot topic?  No one but a few agree?  No disagreements?  No one willing to comment?  I will now move on.  I sort of feel an obligation to ‘state my opinion’ (it’s an integrity issue – I have to speak up when I think I have to speak up) and, God knows, I have been known to repeat myself from time to time but, clearly this is a topic no one wants.  So, the following is just a bit of OTG.

First..with the mushrooms.  Last December Sal dragged me shopping.  I was wandering semi-brain dead amongst the crap that passes for ‘stuff’ at Xmas and found myself looking at a discount bin at Capital Iron in Victoria.  In the bin for 50% off was a bag of rotten goo.  Literally a bag that was starting to ooze mold and stuff.

How could I resist?

It was a mushroom-farm-starter kit that was ‘too-keen’ to get started and so heavily discounted lest the other merchandise sprout up with edibles.  I bought it and, of course, asked it to wait until I got back from SE Asia.  It did.  The growth rate halted.  Until yesterday, anyway, when I released the fungi into a growing medium and placed it all in a dark but damp and warm environment.  Let the shrooms begin!  We’ll see.  It is the first thing garden-wise I have tried to grow.  I will build garden boxes and haul dirt and collect seaweed but BEING an actual gardener is hard for me.  I get too attached to my sprouts, too close to my shallots.  I can’t rip the tops off of carrots.

Mushrooms are different.  I am rather indifferent to them.  Meh to mushrooms.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like to eat ’em but there is little in the way of a ‘bonding’ like there is with say, tomatoes or even flowers.  Mushrooms can be addressed without anything compassionate getting involved.  To be fair, I am pretty dispassionate about lettuce, too, but this is NOT a confessional.

Sal and I are in the latest reading of the book and, although almost being ready to send it out to beta readers, we are still finding mistakes and altering structure.  This book clearly ain’t done yet.  So, he we are on a remote hunk o’ granite on a remote island in March.  Alone.  Writing.  Minding our own business . . .

. . . until . . . a local guy drops in  to welcome us home with a few prawns.  As we greet one another, a gaggle of children pop into view.  Unaccompanied.  There are five of them ranging in age from almost three to twelve.  Two older boys and three little girls.  They are all relatives (cousins and such) and I know them.  They call me by name.  I greet them by name.  They scramble up from the beach one hundred feet below without benefit of a trail and simply monkey up the relatively impassable cliff-side, stopping now and then to help the 3-year old who was indicating second thoughts by the half-way point.   After a minute of kibitzing, they head off to their own place on the other side of the peninsula with Grandpa.

Great to see kids being kids in the old fashioned way.

So, prawn-friend and I head over to my place for tea and, before we get there, two middle-aged women (one with a cane) hobble into view from another direction emerging from the forest and greeting us warmly.  I know them, too.  Part of the Grandpa neighbourly crowd.  We chat about diesel engines and the older one having been a biker chick for a portion of her life, and they leave all enthused about the mushrooms I may be getting sometime in the future.

Prawner and I finally get home and Sal makes us tea and a sandwich just in time to be interrupted by a man and his just-proposed-to-betrothed who come out of the other side of the forest just to say ‘Hi.’  We hug and congratulate and chat for a bit…….they head off to drink champagne.

“So, prawn-man, you thought we lived remote, didn’t you?”

“Not anymore.  We just encountered NINE people literally emerging from the bush!  That’s weird man.”

“Well, that was nine for you.  But ten for me.  You, too, came out of the blue and just appeared.  This is a crazy place, prawn-man. Hard to get enough peace and quiet to write a book, ya know?”


Obligatory post: Me, too

To be fair, every issue fades away from the front page. Eventually.  Usually within a few weeks.  Occupy,  Tiger Woods,  Cosby and Climate change being amongst the longest legged recently.  But, still none of those are on the front page today.  It’s hard for anyone, save for the ongoing orange spectacle that is Trump, to stay at the top of the ‘popular interest’ list.  But, one would think that the Me,Too movement will persist whether or not it remains front page.  It should.

I will attempt to breathe a little life into it today by saying: It should ‘grow up’ a helluva lot but it should endure.

A quick summary-to-date: Me, too is the universal mobilization of women against an all-too-common crime-upon-the-person syndrome in all or most societies most women experience in their lifetime.  They call this ‘crime’ (and, in many cases, so do I) sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a hugely ill-defined term but they are against it because, quite simply, it is usually unwanted behaviour, wrong-headed, evil and immoral (amongst many other things).  None of them like it.  All of them want it stopped and, in numbers, there is strength.

But, there is NOT consensus about what it is.  Or even what to do about it.

The biggest problem I have with Me,Too is that it demands that all allegations be believed without question, that all allegations are tantamount to convictions and that the punishment should far exceed the crime.  Further, Me, Too, rejects the requirement of due process and differing opinions (from the accused) and worse, extrapolates the ‘crime’ as a pervasive, underlying condition of society that can only be righted by condemning all men and elevating all women to higher positions of power.

Furthermore, all men are deemed guilty of something!  And that is insane.  It is NOT enough to condemn Harvey Weinstein but all men in the vicinity of him were also guilty for NOT coming to the woman’s rescue.

The irony of that dependence on men seems to escape them.  

I have other issues as well.  If an attractive man (think Brad Pitt) exceeds the unwritten rule book and lays on the charm to some woman and she likes it, there is no harassment to complain about.  If an unattractive man (think ‘everyman’) lays on his best-but-unwanted efforts and it is regarded as ‘undesired’, that man is subject to life-destroying ‘allegations’.  In other words: sexual harassment is, in at least some cases, limited in definition by the eyes of the beholder.

That is the very definition of subjective.

That is hard for me to accept.  I have, myself, been attracted to a female who may have even made efforts to be attractive (make-up, etc.) and been well-received and a pleasant if not short-lived encounter was achieved.  I have also employed the same approach-style to other attractive women who did NOT find my efforts engaging and little or nothing was achieved.  It seemed – at the time, anyway – my biological imperative to make the first OVERT move.  I was socially conditioned to take the ‘risk’ of being told to F-off.

Trust me.  It is extremely hurtful for a terrified teenage boy to be rejected so viciously and so often but most of us simply developed over time a thicker skin.  Why?  Because we were also encouraged by our culture that persistence was part of charm.  The ‘guy’ who ‘chased’ the girl often won her heart.

We were conditioned to try and try again.

With Sally, I laid it on as thick as I could.  And I persisted.  And I did not take ‘NO’ for an answer.  Admittedly, she did not scream “F-off!” at me or phone the police but I got used to ‘NO’ for awhile.  By today’s standards, I could be accused of harassment (I like to think of it as charm but we know what credibility we are now giving the male’s point of view – none!).  Sal and I have been together for 47 years and I, for one, would sign up for another 47 in a heartbeat.  So a little persistence paid off.  It was considered ‘part of the mating ritual.’  Presumably by both of us.

In other words, some level of effort that might be perceived as charm by one and annoyance by the other was deemed natural.  Where such perceptions differed, forgiveness and benefit of the doubt was expected.

Now?  Not so much.

Many women friends of mine will counter: “We are not talking about that!”    

And I know that – for the sane friends I have, they are not.  But Me, Too is talking about ALL that.  Most women I know have a clear distinction between sex ‘crimes’, harassments, bad behaviour, naughty behaviour and ‘misunderstandings’ or even clumsy attempts.  My friends are NOT stupid.

But by NOT making those distinctions in every case and all the time (due process), they are guilty of unfairness and power-tripping.  The need for distinction and analysis in those behaviours is HUGE and, further, even though much of this is subjective, some kind of due process that puts subjectivity in it’s place needs to be employed.

Something even bigger is happening.  Maybe it should but I don’t think so.  Blanket condemnation of all men for all sexual behaviours is simply insane and a form of denial about the species.  Men and women are in this together and yet we are very often completely different in our thoughts and feelings.  Misunderstandings will happen.  We need to condemn only the real crimes and forgive the misdemeanors.

One female friend said something on this topic just the other day, “But due process hasn’t worked!” 

I’ve been thinking about that and I agree.  Due process has not worked.  Not for either gender but especially for women.  But that does not mean we abandon due process and head for the lynching tree.  It simply means due process needs to be improved.  We all know the law is an ass and very few of the laws work as we would like them to but that does not mean we  abandon the justice system.  If we do, we put ourselves in the position of judge and jury and we all know what power like that does… corrupts.

NB.  This is 1000 words.  I could write a book.  No one cares about my opinions that much so I leave it at 1000 words.  Plus these few more: the battle of the sexes has been waged for eons.  It is not likely to ever be fully resolved. The genders are programmed differently.  But we are all in this together and I think we have to put more effort into understanding, forgiveness and acceptance.  Yes, that even means accepting outrageous condemnations of men for their natural tendencies because outrageous condemnations are also natural tendencies. This is the yin and yang of it.   


New boat, new day, old, great life!

Naming the boat……Eddie?  Eddie the double eagle?  Eddie-Eddie?  I dunno…..the boat colour is a burnt-orange over a white hull.  The Mfg’er was/is Double Eagle a couple of decades ago.  So, Old carrot-top’?  Beagle? Boaty McFloaty?

Lately we have gone with ‘food’ names like Wasabi (green boat) and Aubergine (purple) but this colour orange is not even really orange.  It’s burnt orange…, not mustard…more like baby poop…I dunno.

I may just call it Leo after our new grandson.  Leo-the-boat.

The point?  Our new Leo is good.  Leo-the-new-grandson is great and Leo-the-new-boat is also pretty good.  We came up the BIG island, launched it at the closest boat ramp, boosted the dead battery and ‘vroom’.  Ran great. Then Sal went up-the-little-island in the truck and I left the boat ramp for the high (but calm) seas and met her at our usual disembarkation point.  Then we loaded it up and pointed it home.  Boat purred and we fairly flew across the water.  We must have loaded up a half-ton of stuff (mostly food and luggage) and headed home on a fine day not knowing what was in store for us.  Damned if it didn’t get up and plane again!  Loaded heavy, we flew across the dead calm seas in the bright and beautiful sunshine to the welcoming sight of our gorgeous  beach and much-missed home.

GAWD, I Love this place!

Nothing like spending a few months in a tropical country with millions-upon-millions of people to fully appreciate home, I’ll tell ya.  Gawd!! I love this place!

But there is so much to do.  And so much to write about.  Where to start?

The house weathered the winter well.  Thank God!  Even my solar array was still standing.  Basically, we are good.  NOT entirely but almost.  The water pump is on the fritz.  I’ve trouble-shot and know what is wrong (pressure switch gone wonky) but I do not think I can fix it so I may have to buy another switch some time – next time – in town…..  In the meantime, we turn it on, use the water and then turn it off.  It won’t shut off on it’s own.

Not a big deal.

Ordered the barge back for this coming month.  New fuel tank and a lot of gardening supplies on the way.  Probably a ton of stuff this time.  GAWD, I love the barge!

Locals welcomed us back.  “Wanna go fishin?”  “Wanna go see bears?”  “Wanna go trail-riding”? 

I wanna nap.  And then eventually, maybe, get to the list of chores.  And then, maybe later…some time in the distant future….. go have fun.  Did I mention I am now 70?  Is there fun-after-70?

Is there energy after 70?

We’ll see.

But first, we have to see if there is an alive Dave-after-chores.  Judging from my enthusiasm to ‘get on with it’ (the chores list). I may not be free for funnin’ anytime soon.  ‘You guys want to pencil in a date for trail-riding sometime after my 75th?’

Oh, I have not forgotten Trump.  Or dick-head Doug Ford.  Marine le Pen, Putin, China, the economy, philosophy, Me, too or other hot topics that bubble up toil and trouble in my head all the time.  I’ll just save all that for when I have some excess energy to burn.

Maybe some time after my 75th?   


First and second chore done…

I have no idea how Sal and I are viewed by you readers.  I assume that we are generally liked (Sal, anyway) and considered somewhat sane if not a bit eccentric now and then.  Sal IS a quilter, after all.  You few-but-valued readers are basically pretty loyal so there must be some interest in what we are up to.  And I appreciate it.

But the book generated more public and general comments and not all were positive so the OTG lifestyle (as lived by us) may not be as well received by the average person.  Hard to say.  I distinctly recall my doctor’s brother’s comments, after the first few chapters:  “This guy is an idiot!”  Then, after getting half-way through the book, “Well, he is at least learning as he goes.  I don’t think of him as an idiot anymore but clearly he is lacking common sense and the skills to do what he is doing.” By three quarters through, his comment was, “Well, they are doing OK, I guess.  I won’t dis him anymore and I sure do like his wife.  Still, he has no business doing what he is doing and making her do it, too.”  At the end of the book, “I kind of like him.  A total goof but I kinda like him.  Especially her.  Yeah, I’d read another book by him if he survives.” 

The point: we changed, grew, evolved and survived and thus earned his grudging respect.  And I sort of see that guy’s opinion as a reflection of our own view of it.  “We were total incompetents and were lucky not to have killed ourselves but now we are only half incompetent and can actually do a few things (not well but good enough).”

Which brings me to chore #2.  Chore #2 was painting the bottom of the boat.  Of course, painting boats has been a chore we mastered decades ago while living on board our various boats.  We can paint bottoms.  And this one is only 16 feet long.

“How hard can it be?” 

It is NOT hard.  But, surprisingly, we managed to make it so.  The boat is – at first – on a trailer.  You cannot paint the bottom of the boat properly if it is on a trailer so it has to come off.  We are in Sal’s parent’s driveway.  ‘How to get a one-ton boat off a trailer’….hmmm…..?

I bought a couple of ‘jack-stands’ at CanTire and blocked the boat up a few inches above the trailer and half-pulled the trailer out from under.  Then I jacked and blocked it up again so that the axle would clear the first blocks and then pulled it free.  So far, so good.

But it was on kinda spindly supports………

“Ya know…?  Better to be safe than sorry.  I am gonna kick in a couple of tree rounds just in case those jack stands (rated for 6 tons each) fail.  They look a bit less stable than I would like.”

I kicked a chunk o’ tree under the transom.  The tree chunk nudged the boat.  The boat wavered a bit and then it corkscrewed off the front grid and the two jack stands and slid forward, down and to the port side and onto the sloping grassy garden.  We now had a one-ton boat on the ground all akimbo and pointing down slope.

Sal’s father said, “Well, that’s for it, then!  We’re going to need a crane truck to get that back.” 

Sal said, “No way.  We have ropes, jacks and junk.  We’ll haul it back up to the driveway ourselves and then jack it up again.  David will build some proper cribs and we won’t rely on stupid jack-stands.  Now, get out of the way (Sal’s dad is 94), we have some haulin’ to do!”

A few hours later and a lot of jacking, cribbing and pulling (with a rope to the car), we had it up and stable.  Damage?  None, except to our reputation of growing and evolving.  Plus the work-day spent making up for an error.

So, this is the lesson:  We came to this OTG lifestyle unskilled and stupid but healthy and strong.  We grew our skills with blood, sweat and tears (mostly blood) and gained a level of competence that came only with the price of time and gazillions of dollars.  In January, I turned 70.  And I am not so good anymore.  It is not skill so much that I am missing now.  It is strength and energy .  In other words, looking back on it, Sal and I peaked five years ago. 

“How do you know?” 

Crawling around under the boat was difficult.  Getting up off the ground was even harder.  Hauling, lifting, jacking, using muscles (before turning to the car) was also somewhat taxing.  Falling asleep at 9:00pm was incredibly easy.  Working all day on a ‘creeper’ and sanding and painting and finding myself tired after a relatively small job was embarrassing.  Maybe it was just vacation lag but I don’t think so.  I think this was lag-lag.

This gettin’ old is starting to get old.

Still, two chores down and only 18 more to come.   


Leaving…on a jet plane…..don’t think I’ll be back again..

It’s been a good trip.  ‘Cept for the flu-from-Hell to start off.  Lots of friends.  Even some family (Sal’s nephew lives in Bangkok).  All good.

Amazing, actually.  Hong Kong is incredible.  Totally mind-boggling.  They started with a bare rock and, two hundred years later, they have a city-state that is a complex hive of EVERYTHING on top of another thing  It’s like five deep of everything and soon to be ten deep in everything.  We attended top restaurants that were on the 8th floor of a building that was all restaurants!

But my view, my grasp, my interests are small.  I have tiny visions now.  Sal and I got on the MTR the other day, rode it to the end where it terminated in a clothing district and we then ferreted out a little T-shirt maker.  Tim Lau.  Tim’s pretty good.  We like him.  I can get a good 100% cotton-shirt from him, printed/embroidered with some OTG type logo and drop-shipped to a customer for about C$23.95 (depends a bit on how many XXXXXL’s the shirt is) and that means my ‘gifting’ and maybe small web-sales can be satisfied rather easily.  Tim promised to ‘source’ other products from China if we want but OTG’ers, as a rule, aren’t big shoppers.  As soon as we have some artwork, I am gonna give ol’ Tim a try with a few sample orders.

I am going to bury in this blog something nice about Trump.  Saying anything nice about Trump under most circumstances, is never required but it would seem that the old apricot dickhead was amusing and gracious at the Gridiron dinner (a media/Whitehouse tradition) and ended the evening by thanking the media for keeping Democracy vital.  I intend to crucify this guy on most every occasion but, if he warrants praise, I am forced to express it. So far, this is the only time.  I don’t expect to have to make a habit of it.

This trip had a streak of nostalgia running through it.  Re-connected with an old friend from 40 years ago (we canoed through jungle rivers in Guatemala together) …..and, of course, my great friends here in Hong Kong.  Plus the relatively new ones (the Chinese kids and now their kids).  Lots of emotions on this venture.  Lots of memories made or rekindled.  Shades of getting old….

This blog is all self indulgence.  So, I’ll keep it short.






I’ve strayed from my original writing roots.  I have not written much on OTG, per se.  Nothing about wood, fish, ravens, whales and small construction projects for awhile.  So, I might get back to it.  There is some interesting stuff going on.  Or, will be going on, Inshallah.  Plus I have any number of chores and projects to get through starting pretty damn soon.

So, I thought I might first offer up an index-of-sorts to measure interest.  See what piques your curiosity.

Chore #1 is ‘getting ready to go home, getting home, settling in and getting started again’.  On the face of that, ‘what’s the big deal?’

Well, it starts with contacting the barge to stop at our place BEFORE we are there to get up the fuel and such.  No biggy.  They can do it without us.

C#2: Then I have to buy some throw-away tools, get some special paints and prepare the bottom of the boat currently parked in Victoria.  That’s gonna be a chore.  Sanding and crap.  Likely in the rain.  Then getting that same boat up the coast and launched when we get there.  That’s no biggy but we have two boats that need launching and one car that needs driving so there are some logistics involved.  But – no biggy – we’ll do it.  Just two days of moving them all about rather than one is all.

C#3: Then we have to re-stock.  When we leave for any length of time, we plan on ‘running out of food’ before departure so that there is no waste.  But we never plan right and so we end up giving away a bunch of food, staples, stuff and bother.  Again – no biggy- but, when you return, you need all that stuff again and much, much more.  And it comes in the hundreds of pounds if not half-tons.  We re-stock BIG-TIME (if we can)….tho, no biggy – just work, time and logistics and money.  This time we will likely re-stock over three separate trips.  The BIG SHOP is a tiresome chore now.

But getting re-booted doesn’t end there.  Oh, no.  C#4: Being in paradise is a life of chores and projects.  They are all enjoyable and learning and requiring planning and, more to the point, materials.  I love it but it ain’t easy.  I will soon need a three-lift barge delivery on the first of April (apt timing) for deck rebuilding, bathroom completion, gardening start-up and various maintenance and systems upgrades.  Maybe two-times the barge-three-lift exercise, another one happening on May 1.

C#5: launching book 3.  That’s a process.  Fiddly work.  Goes on and on.

C#6: finishing last years projects:  We have the third boat to finish.  I can’t even think about that right now but it is on the top ten list.  Plus making the old boat #1 – Wasabi – getting running.  That will get done on another island with schlepped tools and crap.

C#7: the funicular malfunctioned before we left and so that is listed as #7 but may be given a higher priority as soon as reality sets in.

C#8.  A bit odd, I must admit but #8 is doing some earthquake bracing.  I just have a hunch about that.  The whole of the Pacific Rim has been shifting.  We may be due.  It may be silly.  It may not.  Regardless, I have some shoring up to do on the list.

C#9, 10, 11……building projects, equipment rebuilds and some infrastructure relocation.

C#12: adding three more solar panels.

C#13….through C#20…….everything from getting in the wood to getting in the garden to renovating the boat shed, from re-insulating to some added waterworks, from another wood shed to ….well, you get the point……lots to do…..where to start…..

Focus, Dave! Focus:  Step one, get home.  Get truck.  Say Hi to those we love and miss……