Tilting at sacred cows

For some reason, I have been taking a slightly different-than-PC stance on some sacred matters lately. I do not apologize for that and, to be clear again, I am not opposed to all things PC – ish or even bovine. It just feels to me that some of it has gone too far. I will not bore you with repetition but it seems I, now, might go too far again….

WARNING! I am about to say something that may get me in hot water. Hot water I can take. I can also take criticism and correction if I am wrong so feel free with your slings and arrows. All I ask is that you do not consider me heartless or cruel. A heartless Pinko is a man who has lost his way.

Here we go: Because 215 children’s graves were found at the Kamloops Residential School DOES NOT constitute genocide. Moreover, it may not indicate much of anything! Of course, the Residential Schools were ill-conceived, seemingly poorly run and maybe even criminally negligent and cruel at times. But 215 children’s deaths over the 88 years of the Kamloops operation with as many as 500 kids in residence at a time when the First Nations were suffering greatly from Tuberculosis is likely close to the normal mortality rate for those unfortunate times. That works out to approximately 2.5 children per year from amongst 500 annually enrolled, underprivileged, unhealthy children. By my poor math that is .5% per year. Coincidentally, the Canadian child mortality rate in 2019 was 4.9 deaths per 1000 children or .5%.

Yes, I know that we can lament and grieve the situation they suffered and that we should. Those kids died separated from their families and were discarded heartlessly. Many of those that survived described the schools as cruel, inhumane and they clearly did not achieve what was intended, namely assimilating, educating and training the students in becoming ‘white’. Residential schools were a mistake.

But even the coldest, cruelest and stupidest of the staff, even the pedophiles (if there were), even the bullies and creeps were NOT waging genocide. They were up to all sorts of no good and definitely not enough do-good but they were not engaged in genocide.

Sometimes (most times) this nonsense of handwringing, self-flagellation and exaggerated, misplaced apologies over every perceived wrong done in the past is, at best, a dramatic self-serving (politically) apology of sorts. Sometimes it is merely stating an ugly fact about what our ancestors perpetrated in their ignorance. And maybe that is a necessary component of reconciliation. But, not only is it not working, it is making matters worse. If Trudeau admits to someone else’s genocide, then that is tantamount to pleading guilty to murder on a grand scale on behalf of someone long dead. Trudeau is accepting guilt for something he wasn’t even around for and those that were are no longer alive to defend themselves. Not in any way.

A.E Ryerson is considered the ‘father’ of modern education in Ontario and that included the concept and creation of the Residential schools. That his mission failed is fact. But, so far, that seems to be the only fact that I can discern. He did not have a mandate for genocide, he had a mandate for education. He was also a strict Methodist preacher born in 1803 to a well-off family in Ontario and was very likely not so-very-much understanding of the First Nations due to his somewhat removed and privileged place in society and politics. We have had more than our share of those kind of out-of-touch politicians. I probably would be disinclined to like A.E. Ryerson but his life history is not one of murder and cruelty.

Trudeau assuming Ryerson’s guilt (and J.A. McDonald’s) is stupid in itself but, of course, the modern politician also assumes to distribute compensation to the victim’s ancestors. Trudeau will provide money from the taxpayer, not his own pocket (how sincere and heartfelt can that be?). How does giving millions of dollars today make any sense in this matter anyway? Some 35 year old can now get an F-150 to make up for the long lost cousin who died 100 years ago in a Residential school from TB? Maybe, just maybe, some compensation might be justified for any ex-student still alive. Maybe. Sometimes, however, a mistake is just a mistake and it was unfortunate and we should all just do better now that we know better. FULL STOP.

I wouldn’t make this rant if the so-called compensation and acts of contrition weren’t clearly having the opposite effect of the intention. First Nations do not accept all the money and apologies and then say, “Oh, gee. Thanks for the moolah. Let’s be friends now.”

Of course not. They do what most people would do, they say, “Hey, you owe me even more money than that last amount. We found more evidence of wrong doing by your ancestors hundreds of years ago and now we want even more money, more apologies and more concessions.” In other words, we are perpetuating the mistake by feeding into ridiculous expectation that also DO NOT HELP the people, First Nations or General Population. This current policy of buying forgiveness is really just a separation pathway that leads to more conflict.

Put another way: I do not blame a young German for Hitler. How can anyone? My father was so shot up in the second world war that he had a 100% disability pension. Our family lives were made very difficult as a result of his war injuries. Should I sue Germany? Does Merkel owe me an apology? I think it is time to ease up on the mea culpa craze, don’t you?

More building….(part one)

We made a nice workshop a few years ago. It is good. But then I filled it up. And that, too, was good because I prefer to ‘work’ outside anyway and being cooped up in a little building does not appeal to me very much. That semi-claustrophobic quirk of mine was also okay in the circumstance because I had also built a nice, large work deck alongside the workshop on which the tools would be used — only a few feet away from their normal resting place. Workshop plus deck makes for a good workspace. Level, open workspace is good (especially if you live on a 30 degree slope).

But man is man and if one tool is good, then two tools are better and, after awhile, that maxim changes to: If twenty tools are good, forty tools are better. And so it goes. I now have more tools than I have space – inside and out! For the last few years I have had to place my bigger tools outside on the workspace deck….the ‘work’ deck now accommodates the bandsaw, planer, table saw, chop saw, a 2800 watt and a 5500 watt generator. I have those six, good-sized tools outside and at least four more good-sized tools (sand-blaster, air compressor, welder, alcohol-producing still) that are still making the workshop feel crowded inside. I really need to have more room to store more tools and none of them on the workspace deck because the workspace deck is supposed to be for the actual working!

“Hey, Sal…? Got a few days?”

“If it means more construction work then the answer is NO!”

So, the other day I started to build a deck extension and a smaller shed for the bigger-tools by myself.

After the first day, I said, “Hey, Sal, got a minute to hold one end of the tape?”

Sal came to watch at first and then . . . lend a hand with the tape. And then . . . and then, well . . . we have been building the new ‘space’ together every day since (except for book club and Sal’s sewing class at the school). Whatta team! One thing is very clear: we are an older and slower team and, despite our experience, we are no better than we have ever been – which is to say, barely adequate.

In keeping with being adequate (in a Green way) we are recycling some old wood. As most readers know, getting in supplies is one of the frequent and always larger challenges of living OTG. Getting in the wood means so much more out here. Firstly, one has to get in the firewood by salvaging logs and doing what one does to eventually get warmed by them. Secondly, one has to get in any needed lumber and fasteners so as to build things and things always need building it seems. Thirdly, one has to pay barge services and lumber yard delivery fees for remote island deliveries and so it is almost double the cost when prices are normal. And prices aren’t normal in the lumber business right now. The cost of materials has tripled in some cases and doubled across the board.

OTG’ers (generally speaking) are also kind of inclined to salvage and re-use and ‘make-do’. Yes, part of that is the result of reduced income but a large part is also that the ‘old board’ under the house with 3/4 of it’s life still available is a lot easier to access than by way of the nice Building supply-lumber-town-delivery-barge process. If the old board will still do the job, we re-use it. Old boards can increase in perceived value, too (especially as old men diminish in their own time) . . . the board does not have to make the 30 year rule anymore.

And I have some old boards. Over the years – when I rebuild a deck or a set of stairs or something – I save what might be used again in a pile of mismatched lengths, widths and uneven thicknesses. I have a mix of old store-bought two-by boards (1&5/8″ thickness) and also some locally-milled old boards (varying to almost 2″ in thickness but usually around 1&3/4″). I keep anything over 14″ in length because ‘blocking’ between rafters, joists and walls requires that. Actually, I am on 24″ centres this time so the minimum length to save is 22.5″ ….but you get the principle.

So, I run the old boards through the planer and square new ends. This allows me to see how much rot or ‘bad wood’ is in the board. It’s really quite interesting. Most of the old 17 year-old, rough-cut, locally-milled wood is even better than new store-bought! An old board 7 feet long will still span six feet (I have joists on two-foot centres for the shed floor) and so I can cut it to the right length and examine the ‘core’ from both ends. Surface planing it a bit also gives me another look at it and helps bring all the different thicknesses closer to one another. I am making the shed floor with reclaimed boards. Yes, I am oiling them. That is saving me well over $500.00 not counting the time, the purchase, taxes, delivery and the barge. Given that the average shed of this size (not counting the stairs to the ground and underside, deck extension, railings, workbench and Cedar siding) costs ‘on average nationally’ around $5,000 (more like $8,000 today) to build (more than my car cost) and that my final tally will be around $2,000, utilizing reclaimed wood went a long way to reducing the cost.

And oiled, old boards-for-flooring looks pretty funky and is perfectly adequate for a storage shed.

Part Two will follow eventually but that requires more wood. I need about 100 square feet more of treated 2×6 to finish up plus some 80 sft of tin roofing. But, like everything we do, it will get done. Key word: eventually.

Meanwhile….

I have a couple o’ blogs in the pipe but the points of them have not yet been realized so they await the proper unfolding of the universe before posting. And, here’s a plot-twist, we may also have found Sal’s next boat….so the potential news feed (still in the pipe) is full but just basically on hold.

So, for filler: Politics!! Woohoo!!

As all seven readers know, I am a Greenie. And, coming from my own basic morals, principles and values, I am also a bit of a lefty, often referred to as a Pinko. So, I am a Pinko Greenie.

But I quit the Green party of Canada and BC about a year ago…kinda…I stopped giving them donations and let my membership lapse. Many months ago the party was doing what they always do (soliciting for money but not advice, input or direction) and I stopped giving because, to my mind, they were too small-minded, did too little and acted too much like a spoiled-brat clique of high school kids. Worse, they seemed to have lost their main focus – saving the planet – and instead seemed preoccupied with racism, feminism and politically-correct nonsense like the ongoing Israeli Palestinian conflict.

Do not MISINTERPRET that last sentence. Racism is bad. Feminism is good and Jews and Arabs are complicated. I know all that. But, to my mind, climate change and planet destruction is immensely more important than the latest First World issues-of-the-day. More to the point, the Green Party of Canada has very little (if any) clout or credibility in any area of the greater political dialogue and, if they have any, it is only on issues of the environment.

I have been disenchanted with the party for a long time for all those reasons and more. But, to be fair, if you are going to complain, you have to be able (willing, anyway) to run for office and make things better. Complaining is not the same thing as doing. So, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and try to do better. I was gonna run for the North Island (and I was gonna refuse a salary and a pension in the unlikely event that I won). I submitted my application. And I got a call……

The Greenie I spoke to was very pleasant and laughed at my jokes (one of my main criteria for judging people). But my Greenie was also honest and told me in NOT-so-many words that the party was really looking for, ideally, Indigenous women or, at the very least women of colour. If I was LGBQT+ that might work, too…….but, like, an older, straight, white guy? Really?

Again, to that Greenie’s credit, they went through with the interview and thought that my views on the big topics (environment, climate change, planet, sustainability, alternative energy, etc.) were truly in line with the stated goals of the Green Party but, well, I did not have a hope in hell because they are so focused on other issues (genitals and skin colour).

“If my views align with those of the party, why would the party not align with me? Is it because the party has relinquished their stated and founding principles for more politically correct ones? And, can you explain to me why the party, like the NDP, have adopted a blatant sexist and racist bias by essentially shunning old, white males?”

“Well, we like to think of it as giving a platform to the underprivileged who do not have a voice otherwise.”

“Uhm…….Annamie Paul is black, female, Jewish and a lawyer. She’s the party leader. She has a lot of platforms. Ex-leader, Liz May, is an ex-American, ex-Conservative, lawyer and, of course, female. She has the Order of Canada and is the longest running female leader of a Canadian political party. She, too, has platforms. Don’t you think there is room in the party for an old, fat, white guy who has only a blog? I mean…if a party is to represent the people, don’t old, white males count as people anymore?”

I decided to reread the Green Party of Canada’s Constitution and it’s current political platform. I noted that the party was started in 1983 by a white, male physician who was conventionally married and had children to go along with a lengthy resume of real accomplishments in community, health and politics. Seems Dr. Hancock was OK then….but would not be OK now. The Greens would not allow Hancock to run today.

I mention all this because we should try to remember that political parties, for all their vaunted philosophies, ideals and propaganda are still current collections of limited-view people who are more oriented in the past than they are to the future. They are as fallible as any of us. They carry biases and prejudices. They are often ignorant of the issues facing the common citizen simply because they are so often ‘professionals’ and NOT poor, sick, marginalized or alone. And too many are lawyers (not that there is anything wrong that). Maybe a few plumbers, cleaners, waitresses and lumberjacks might help?

To my mind, the Greens have gone off the rails. Well intentioned, perhaps. But still dumber than dirt. I cannot vote for them anymore – at least not in their present form. As the earth currently burns at record heat levels in the US Midwest, loses it’s temperature regulating ice mass and razes the forests of oxygen-producing trees while filling the seas with plastic, the one voice for survival of the species (Greens) have lost their way.

I used to sculpt

Rocks mostly. I sculpted (carved) some wood, too, but it was lava-rock, soapstone and marble that I did mostly. And I was almost good at it. I really liked it. I may still do…?

I used to race motorcycles, play sports and paint in acrylics and oils, too, but I was only semi-good at sculpting and, to be fair, mediocre is the better description. Adequate, perhaps? I just liked sculpting more than anything else and passion really is the primary muse.

I could just look at a rock and see something deep within it that was obviously needing just a little help to get out. It was usually pretty obvious to me. “There is a sea lion in there!” In fact, it was just a lump of rock but, like watching clouds and daydreaming, one can see all sorts of things in blobs. And I did.

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I haven’t sculpted in almost 35 years and, even then, that last piece came about fifteen years after the previous one. I have not really done much of anything in over 50 years. Claiming the ability to sculpt is now a spurious, false, weak-at-best, fantasy-at-worst falsehood. I am a sad, sculpting fraud. But I might also be an aspiring sculpting fraud. I am thinking about whacking at a few rocks again.

I say ‘fraud’ not because of false claims but primarily because I have the guilty proof of being a poseur right in front of me. I still have a half a dozen large soapstone and marble ‘blobs’ in the workshop and have had them for even longer than I have had the workshop. Seems I am clinging to my rocks (there’s a phrase, eh?). Maybe I am clinging to my past? I am definitely clinging to something……heavy and hard to move………

It is time to sculpt or get off the rock! So, yesterday, I started. A bit. I got out a blob of marble and looked at it and looked at it. You know what I saw? I saw a blob of marble. No sea lions. No nothing. When that ‘blankness’ comes, it is a good idea to just start whacking. Maybe the ‘vision’ is a little deeper in there, ya know? So, I got out the grinder and started to attack the marble. It turns out I have two pieces of marble on the same scale of hardness as diamonds. Two grinder disks later, I have an almost perfectly intact blob.

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The marble may be too hard. I do not have enough cutting discs at this rate. I have a small boulder of Onyx, too. It is definitely too hard – the discs barely scratch it. It seems half my inventory (about two hundred pounds or so) is too hard to work with but I had carried them all around for a long time before just learning that. And that now presents as a bit of a challenge for me (not quite as motivating as a passionate muse but still a push of sorts). I am gonna keep whacking, fer sure, but I have also sent away for a few more stone-whacking tools. No, I am not persistent, persevering or passionate………

….stupid shows up a bit differently for me.

PS. If sculping art pieces does not come to any kind of aesthetically pleasing fruition, knowing how to split granite is a close second of achievement for me. I have a lot of protruding rocks on the site and some kind of get in the way at times. I may be able to ‘whack off’ a few sticky-out parts. That would be good. I tried doing that today, too. And it is amazing what kind of rubble one can make with a stone chisel. Uncontrolled, unskilled, pointless rubble but still, I made some beautiful rubble!

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Maybe I should stick to rubble-making?

Interesting

Most dinner parties are interesting but some, of course, are more interesting than others. We attended a lovely dinner the other night and it was very, very interesting. To be fair, the hostess had an edge on the hospitality challenge. No one had been to a dinner party in over a year. Isolation can lubricate comradery.

This event got ‘interest’ points right from the start because we had all forgotten how to have polite-but-fun discourse with others. One has to exercise their inner Oscar Wilde to stay hip, you know? This dinner-party experience felt kinda new. I was rusty*. He and she got extra points for good food that we didn’t have to cook, too. And, for me, super bonus points were immediately earned because I did not have to do the dishes. Add in good wine and great company and it was a fabulous evening.

(*Rust seems to be forming in my ears. My hearing is 50% what it used to be.)

But all that, as interesting as it was, paled against the beautiful presence of their new home on the island. It was just perfect. I would estimate that the square footage was around 2000-2200 sft. Two stories. Fabulous views through huge windows. Perfect location. Lovely setting. And all brand, spanking new.

The construction style was also perfect. Local ‘look’, exposed beams from wood milled on site, funky touches here and there and an artsy-crafty eccentric kitchen ‘decor’. R&B not only did a great job they also manifested great taste and personal style. It really is a huge success.

But I am not here to write an article for Better Homes and Cottages (theirs definitely qualifies). I am here to write about deeper issues. And this issue is about timing, undertakings, personal commitment and effort. This blog is about, learning, growing, stretching yourself. This topic is about change, transition, retirement, community and taking a risk. They did all that, too. And they started in their 50’s.

As we stood there surveying their ’empire’ (a mix of new, beautiful buildings, with saved and reinforced ‘heritage’ buildings from the past), B said, “You were right. Building is hard work. I do not think I could do that again.”

B was an accountant. R was an engineer. They knew how to work. They knew physical, being avid skiers. They were in good nick, healthy, strong, capable. Three or four years in the doing and maybe one year living in the completed home, B said, “I still feel stiff and sore getting out of bed.”

Sal said that same sort of thing 14 years ago, “It has been over eighteen months since we completed the house and my hands still hurt!”

R&B are now nudging 60. They did their ‘building thing’ in their fifties. Like Sal and I. And like Sal and I, they went from being ‘softer’ to working physically much, much harder than they imagined. They went from urban comforts and conveniences to learning how to make it all work even if that meant jerry-rigging up water systems to get a shower. They reminisced about lifting heavy beams, pouring cement, clearing away garbage, finishing the interior and, of course, milling their own lumber. These two did the OTG thing and they did it very well.

Of course we traded a few old saws about, “I do not think I could ever go back to living in the city.” “Our urban friends don’t really understand this move.” “Don’t ya just hate town day!” We shared marveling at the natural beauty every day. We laughed about the eccentric community that we had all joined. And we shared plans for more improvements to the empire. Their project definitely isn’t over.

Our project isn’t over yet, either. We still have things to do. And we have things that need fixing, maintaining and replacing. First you get the empire and then you have to keep the empire. OTG work is never done.

So, what is the point, Dave? R&B are NOT the generation behind us. We are just at the older end of the same generation. But, still, it felt a bit like watching renewal to me. Kindred spirits. It felt a bit like seeing the next generation even if they are technically NOT next gen. There was a lot of empathy for each other despite being relatively recent friends. I had walked in their boots. They had walked in mine. And all of our feet still ached.

Busy…

…….sheesh. Our (new/old) vehicle wouldn’t start yesterday. Dead battery when Sal checked it after yoga. So, we boated up in the afternoon to where we park it on the island, got it going, and took the battery to charge. I’ll add a small solar panel to keep it trickled up. As WdeG pointed out, NOT running an engine routinely invites problems and so we really have to get in the habit of at least turning the little van on now and again.

Dinner parties and social events are looming once again. The island is coming alive. We have one to go to and one to give. Actually, more than a few to give (but I will resist doing so for now). The oppressive Covid mood is lifting, Spring has sprung and summer looms — it is ‘in the air’. People seem a bit more relaxed. Sunshine helps. The dropping C-19 case count helps more. Only seven cases in the North (Vancouver) Island area.

The bureaucracy screwed up again, though. It feels bad but the truth is we are largely exempt from their stupidity as a rule. It is just that, when it does intrude, it is always really stupid. But that is to be expected and so we will roll with the punches and carry on bravely.

We had a Covid clinic here on our island a few weeks ago. Very well attended. Everything went smoothly. All good. We expected clinic #2 to be even better but, of course, an out-of-touch urban bureaucrat threw a wrench in and now we will NOT get a second clinic here. Instead, the vacs will be given up at the luxurious, swanky, Senora Lodge. So, instead of a few employees coming down from the lodge, 100 or so residents (including a LOT of seniors) will have to go up to the lodge. Distance is a half hour to forty minute boat ride both ways.

Our Covid Coordinator pointed out to the bureaucrats that not all the old folks are well enough to travel that far and further, the Lodge is in somewhat unfamiliar waters with dangerous currents. This change was going to put old folks, one recently out of hospital, in small tin boats for no good reason. The location change puts half a dozen others who are seriously ill or not very mobile at much greater risk. If the weather is bad and wet, you can triple that number.

So, the Ministry dorks offered to water-taxi all the folks up to the lodge. That little gesture will cost the taxpayer thousands (I am guessing between five and ten thousand unnecessary dollars). It will also make it a very long day for many of our folks. The good news? The lodge has better wi-fi and possibly marble toilets. The nurses will feel better. Poor babies.

Census Canada sent out forms to the general public. But not to us. It seems there is a possible fine if one doesn’t comply with filling in the census. A few folks freaked. The census dorks sent a dozen forms to the post office addressed to no-one at a non-existent address. You really have to wonder.

The prawn season is still on. But it’s also a weird season. Firstly, most of the commercial guys left ’cause they weren’t getting good numbers around here. But one guy stayed and he is dropping tons of traps so I guess he is getting his catch. The locals (and 50% are local but from quite far away on other islands) are here and they seem to be doing okay. Not great. The extra-interesting thing for me is that the numbers are not boffo but the actual prawns, themselves, are pretty big! I saw one ten pound haul and every one was as big as I have ever seen out here. So, we may have fewer but they are bigger.

Sal and I got twenty five pounds a month ago and froze ’em. That’s enough for us for a year.

Haven’t seen a whale in a year (it seems). Nothing. Nada. A few dolphins, a couple of porpoises, a sealion. Very few whale watching boats, of course. It seems the wildlife counts are down. At least we’re seeing more sea stars – they made a recovery. Oddly, it is the purple stars that have bounced back best.

The weather is also a bit ‘off’. Hot as hell a few days ago. Almost 30C. Back to normal tomorrow and lasting a week, they say. Our water is still running – so that is good.

Both boats are now running well. Vehicles doing well. Small engines doing well. Everything working but still a few ‘chores’ to make it all even better. I may have some time to turn my hand to something more fun…..hmmmm…what might that be….?

For good ol’ Sal, a bit more fun means quilting! And she did a wonderful piece over the last few weeks. One of the girls at the local school did a drawing of an eagle. It’s pretty good.

Sal liked it. So, she took the drawing and made the image into an art quilt. Yesterday, she gave the quilt to the girl. Big surprise! Huge smiles. Everyone happy.

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I dunno….I don’t think quilting is my thing…..

….I am gonna have to think on it.

Nits, notes, bits and pieces

Sal’s little skateboard of a boat has been ‘dead-in-the-water’ for a year – ever since she had her knee surgery. At first it just wouldn’t run right so I took the motor up to the shop and, when I was done, it would not run at all. I put it back on the boat. So, then Sal got on it. She must have stripped the carb down (in situ which is impossible for me) at least four times and each time found something wrong – even got it firing up again – but it was still just back to ‘not running right’.

Enter the dragon in the form of J the outboard mechanic. J whipped everything off as well as the carb and went at it. Got some new parts. Found more ills. Spent four hours at least. Maybe six. “Can’t seem to get it right. It almost feels as if you are towing a ton of bottom growth.”

“Nah, said Sal, I cleaned most of it off. I can reach under. Should be good enough.”

“Well, I’ll continue to think about it but I don’t know what more I can do. Maybe time for another motor?

Sal is very good with her boat. She knows it well. But she kinda forgot how long it had stayed in the water and, despite her protestations, she cannot reach far enough under the boat. Last week we hauled it up the little marine ways we built. Under her boat was the equivalent of the Sargasso Sea. We scraped off pounds of mussels and barnacles. Her boat looked like a White Portuguese Man-o-War (a huge jellyfish).

We cleaned and painted the bottom over the next few days. Sal was under the boat the whole time. I attended to the top and sides. She was covered in crap, marine creature bits and slime. Then marine bottom paint. Sal was not a happy camper.

We launched it the other night, when the tide was up high enough to get it off the ways, and she gave it a test spin. It went like a scalded cat! Woohoo!!! Sal had a grin as wide as her boat. It was a beautiful sight.

Our ‘funicular’ was acting up. The ‘track’ was catching up the cart. It was all covered in barnacles and crap. It was time to clean and check the tracks (first real effort in 15 years). So, we did. Lo and behold! A bolt had rusted and one track was almost fully disengaged. So, we went at it using my portable grinder (what a great tool) and some pry bars, sledge hammer and such. A few hours later and the track was fixed. Much more to do, tho. Got a few seized wheels on the cart, too. We’ll get at that stuff later.

Some buttons wouldn’t work on the upper and lower control panel, others ‘buttoned’ the wrong thing. So, we opened up the black box and started to diagnose which wires did what and which ones led to which buttons and so on. And, consistent with our skills, we got nowhere, despite more than a few hours over several days cleaning connections, replacing switches and some buttons and checking all the wires. Enter dragon #2 in the form of my techie/nerd/engineer/Gyro Gearloose friend, B. B originally programmed the Siemens motor controller (which can only be done in German which he does not speak). The three of us were on several hour-long conference calls. He would instruct me, I would relay to Sal and then back to B. After awhile, thanks to B, we got it working. It would still not ‘button’ right but, with some toggling, I could get it to work well enough. We were happy.

Then, about a week later, I was working the cart up and down the hill and, when unconsciously using the buttons, I discovered that it was all working as it should. The buttoning was all right! Funicular miracle!

A lesson was emerging……...”Try not to touch anything, sweetie…”

Which segues poorly into the government NOT touching………..

Once again the media and the government are either lying to us or they are simply totally out of touch with reality. Inflation is already back. It is back with a bullet. It is not just a possibility (which is the tiny bit of information they are sharing infrequently and on the back pages). It is raging.

Admittedly, it is raging in my world and maybe not so much in someone else’s but my expenses have risen in excess of 20%. Food, fuel and gasoline up at least 15%. Building supplies up as much as 100%. Used boats up 100%. Used cars up 35%. And everything we look at is up. A contractor friend in Vancouver reported that, “Everyone knows lumber has gone up as much as 300% but what they don’t know is that all building supplies have risen with it. We are paying vast amounts more for everything from nails and screws to wire and outlets, from plumbing pipe and faucets to subtrade-supplied cabinets and counters. Building costs also increase as the labour and contractors start to increase their labour cost, too. Lumber may go down but everything will stay more expensive. It’s insane!”

Property OTG was never really cheap but it was a lot less expensive a year ago. That is now changing, too. Properties are snapped up now where before they might linger on the market for as long as two or even three years. There has been a huge up-tick in sales and prices. Of course, that means little to us (we aren’t selling) but the added ‘value’ increases taxes at the very least. So, we’ll pay more one way or the other.

I guess sustainable is no longer fashionable…….

A bit gutsy, eh?

C’mon!……that last blog?…..taking on the ‘status of women’ as a topic? (Although, I did keep it to a very narrow niche of modern politics – the gender bias in our policing and arresting of females. I am brave, not stupid) Still, to say anything ‘different’? In this day and age? About women? Only an old guy with limited years left living on a remote island might do that! I am not sure but I may have just proven myself to be the bravest guy in BC. Ha!

Editor’s note: The thoughts and statements expressed by this writer do not represent the position or opinion of management. SD

That is not to say that the topic should not be raised, it just suggests that one should only do so when they can’t get at ya. Talking sexual/gender equality with women is like dissing Mike Tyson, spittin’ into the wind, trying to take the mask off the old Lone Ranger and still trying to put your hands on Virginia. You not only cannot win, you really shouldn’t say or even consider doing what you are thinking. Women have taken ownership of sex and gender equality, written the rule book on sexual politics and behaviours and they will not tolerate any talk-back at all! Especially from men!! Hell hath no fury like a woman told to ‘think again’.

Editor’s note: Management is gonna kill him! SD

But this is not a blog about taunting a debate (one that I would lose). Nor about women, even. Indirectly, perhaps, but this blog is about men. White, so-called conservative men. A very recent study* of Republican rioters at the Capitol concluded that the majority of the rambunctious imbeciles were employed, somewhat well-off and from all over the United States. They were married, had kids, owned real estate and were mostly between 30 and 50. They were described as ‘mature’. Some military ‘vets’. These goofs included a state legislator, lawyers, accountants and – the study claimed – CEOs of corporations! And they were 99% white.

Ironically and, despite all the stupid camo garb they wore, only 3% of the 420 studied were actual members of the Proud Boys, the Oathkeepers, the 3%’ers and the various crazy and gun-lovin’ militias that proliferate in the USA. In other words, the rioters were mainstream ‘Mericans!

So, what brought such disparate folks together like this? It seems (from the study) the participants had only one discernible common philosophy (besides Trumpism)…..they believed in the Great Replacement theory, a far-right anti-immigrant movement first arising in France and as postulated by the author Renaud Camus. In the US, that theory was promoted by the KKK’s David Lane and, lately, by such media personalities as Fox’s Tucker Carlson. These dorks believe that there is a conspiracy afoot to replace white guys with brown ones. The French blame the Muslims for displacing them (but they do not blame the Jews) and the KKK-types just blame everyone.

So, here we have a larger world basically blaming white privilege for everything bad save and except when it is mostly just white men being really, really bad. Then we have the white men, themselves, thinking they are being systematically replaced with brown people. Worse, the idiots think the replacements are being aided and supported by rich and powerful conspiracists. (Given that most of the rich and powerful are white men, does it not seem odd that they would conspire to replace all white men with brown ones?). Being blamed for everything when you are losing everything is a bad combination of perceptions, it seems.

Anyway, there is little to understand about this unfounded fear of replacement by brown people except that it may be a bizarre and unintended outcome of recent political movements. No good deed goes unpunished. In the last twenty years we have elevated victimhood to a place of pride, we have also over compensated victims for just about everything (George Floyd’s family was awarded $27M for his wrongful death – how is that supposed to do anything?) and, generally speaking, we have bent over backwards apologizing to everyone for everything. All that may be good and necessary for so-called healing (altho nothing seems healed) but it is falling on deaf, white, Bubba ears. And Bubba slowly got ticked off.

The white-guy persecution feeling is not entirely wrong in my view. While I deplore and find repugnant the past policies laid on Indigenous peoples by old white government guys, I did none of that. While I respect and accept women as equal, I, personally, have treated them as such my whole life and any gross piggishness I may have demonstrated was entirely due my own hormones and should not be blamed on any one else. In other words, blaming today’s white males en masse for everything done in the past is totally unfair. That’s stereotyping. That’s racism. That’s gender bias.

Editor’s note: Cry me a river! SD

But this manifestation of racial fear and prejudice is something more than just a minor error. It grew a tumor. It spawned Trumpism. It killed more than just a few people in riots and protests (and police killings). It has divided communities and even families. White privilege may have unconsciously favoured white people but White fear is looking much worse. It is causing division, violence and insurrection.

“Dave! Why go on? It is just people showing human weakness and it will forever be that way in one form or another.”

You are right, of course. But, at this time, in the USA, there are 70 million Trump supporters. And Trump is the mainstream David Duke. Trump is the fearful white guy. Trump really does represent these people (or the ones at the Capitol, anyway). He was a successful and popular racist (and narcissist) – he won’t quit. Add to that: thirty five million of those supporters think the election was rigged. They also see Ilhan Omar and AOC ascending. They watched in horror as Obama presided. They know Kamela Harris will hurt them in some way. They are seeing those brown replacements!!! And, according to the study, 3% of those folks are advocates for violence as a response.

Those are the ingredients for a Civil War.

Yeah, yeah, I know……….doesn’t mean it is going to happen. (I am sure I have the ingredients for a soufflé, too, but it ain’t gonna happen). Ingredients are not enough. You have to have intention and a heat source as well. And that is the question – is there enough intention? Is there enough heat?

*Robert Pape, professor. The Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), working with court records, has analyzed the demographics and home county characteristics of the 377 Americans (latest count: 420), from 250 counties in 44 states, arrested or charged in the Capitol attack.

A bit of slack, please…..

C’mon! I have not written a blog on politics for a long, long time. Gimme some luv….I understand how unpleasant it is for you, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, ya know? Anyway…this political blog is really lame….nothing to it, really…just a question….mostly……(small rant at the end).

Is Trump done? On the face of it, he has to be. I mean, he is facing courtrooms for a decade at the very least, lawsuit judgments against him and his family and company very likely, criminal charges extremely likely and probably at least one conviction for tax fraud (how could they miss on that?). I would prefer he gets nailed to even more crosses (treason would be nice) but that is not the point. The point is that bloated pig is 74 and has easily ten years of ongoing legal and civil persecution in his future. All that adds up to being ‘done’ and virtually buried, does it not?

And yet, my news feed still pumps Trump at me at least once a day. Trump or someone close to him. It is confusing, to say the least……shouldn’t we be ignoring the bastard now?

Trump will go down. Either by way of process, hemorrhaging all his money, gradual erosion of influence, natural death or possibly even homicide (face it, the powerful, corrupt and criminal have less and less use for him).

Personally, I think his only way out is to go give in to his already well entrenched dementia and be labelled officially insane.

I raise that topical question for a reason. Sexism. Yeah, I know…“how the hell do you get to sexism from that?” Well, the answer should not be shocking: rich women rarely go to jail. If they do, it is for a very short time. And beautiful, rich women rarely even get charged. Trump will get charged. With him will fall his lieutenants such as Weisselberg, Cohen, Flynn and Kushner. With some luck, they’ll also get the fan club such as Hannity and Bannon and McCarthy. The men will take the punishment if there is any ladled out.

But Ivanka will walk. Melania will walk. Those two knew of everything. Those two have benefitted from everything. Those two participated in a lot. They will walk away rich. But those two are accessories and abettors. They aided the Donald in everything and participated in a lot of lying and cheating and fraud. But, but, but, they are beautiful women and they will be seen largely as eye-candy, arm dressing, charming accessories. Accoutrements. And, if asked about anything, they will smile demurely and say, “I had no idea.”

We tend to light our hair on fire regarding sexism and all the other isms but that is because the ‘sexism’ complainers are largely women complaining about not being treated as they would like to be treated (justifiably most of the time). But does that mean that those same women would not use feminine wiles or charm to avoid their own responsibility and/or culpability? Of course not. They will lie. They will cheat. They will definitely ‘play dumb’. Worse, they might even believe their own lies! But how can they complain and persecute men for being piggy when they, themselves, dodge their own responsibilities in crimes and indiscretions by USING their own gender traits for their own benefit?

Oh….and one more favour, if you please: I am not inserting caveats and disclaimers all the time in this blog to assure the reader I am not a misogynist. I am not one but I assume that you know that by now. In fact, this is an equal opportunity post – just opposite to the usual application of ‘equal opportunity’.

Do I really care whether only the ugly crooks go to jail and the pretty ones do not? No, not really. And I will likely be satisfied that DJT and a few other corrupt, lying pigs go down hard. But, honestly….does anyone really think that the women were NOT their equal? Of course they were. All women are our equal. Just look at the carnage they can inflict when they get annoyed or insulted. In fact, we are being told lately that they are superior (I am partly to blame for that because Sal actually IS superior)…but most are not. Women can be equally bad, too. Nature did not make one sex inferior to the other* or else reproduction would falter. The vast majority are equal. Same but different. And Ivanka and Melania are, for all intents and purposes, at the very least equal to a Michael Cohen and, in my opinion, they are the worst of the bunch with only DJT, DTjr and Jared worse than them. If only one goes down, it should be Donald. If six go down, Ivanka and Melania should be in that group.

Bottom line: Ivanka and Melania are NOT innocent.

*OK….the Black Widow spider eats her husband after coupling so that might make her worse…..

Channeling Giovanni Ribisi

G. Ribisi played Phoebe Buffay’s (Lisa Kudrow) brother, Frank Jr. in the sitcom Friends back in the 90’s. He was memorable. In the introduction scene where he meets his long-not-seen sister, Frank Jr. spends the bulk of his time with her melting plastic in the apartment kitchen. He was fascinated by melting plastic. It was weird, amusing and quickly established his character as quirky at best, whacked most likely. I confess that, at the time, I didn’t really get it. Melting plastic is a pretty cool thing to do – that part I get – but what kind of sitcom writer uses melting plastic as an introduction for a character?

Now I know.

My friend, J, is clearly channeling his inner Giovanni. He wants to melt. In this case, he wants to melt silver and gold. He has collected a bunch of old sterling silver plates, bowls, cutlery and such (92.5% pure silver) and a few ounces of gold bits and pieces and he ordered all the stuff to get into melting such stuff. He’s keen. And he wants company. Enter Dave stage right. But the proper damn equipment hasn’t arrived yet (Covid delays) and he’s impatient so we started melting yesterday sans all the right equipment.

J can do just about anything and has the attitude to go along with that. He’ll do just about anything, too. Plus he is well equipped with assorted tools and equipment and is more than willing to use rocks, boulders, logs and junk to make a stab at something. Yesterday, we made a stab at melting some precious metals.

J pulled out his Oxy-Acetylene torch, grabbed a slab of granite rock off the ground and made a cement table using some Hardie planks and two saw horses. Then he handed me a thick apron for my bare legs and told me to ‘Go on, Dave, melt that stuff!’ So, I did. I started with the little bits of gold.

But before you melt anything, you have to have something in which to melt it that does not include melting the actual vessel itself. You need to start with a very heat resistant crucible and then treat it to make it even better. J had brought along a pretty dinky crucible but that seemed okay as we had pretty dinky amounts of metal. Step one is to ‘season’ or ‘cure’ or ‘something’ the crucible by melting Borax in it. Melting Borax is like melting salt or sugar. The white powder forms a coating on the crucible. After a bit, the crucible was ‘glazed’ with the melted Borax and ready to receive a concentrated blast of heat directed to the metal that was subsequently placed in the now-ready crucible.

For you own safety, do not underestimate how hot Oxy-Acetylene can get, how Borax occasionally splatters, how melting metal always splatters and how important wearing something thick over bare skin is. Trust me on that. That lesson sinks home pretty quickly.

It is a trickier process than it seems, too. Despite the granite rock tipping and rocking at the most dangerous times, the precariousness of Hardi-planks on saw horses with Sal anywhere nearby, a blazing white-hot torch and none of us knowing what we were actually doing until we were too deep into it to get out, we prevailed. The hardest part was actually pouring the molten metal out of the crucible into the tiny Graphite mold. J had foisted the pouring of liquid gold and silver to me. He’s smarter than he looks.

Plastic is much easier to melt, of course, but it still gets pretty hot. And still I have melted plastic onto my bare skin in the past many times trying to do some cockamamie plastic repair-chore. But here I was working with some really hot stuff! I tried to be careful (a bit late in the process, don’t you think?) and, except for a couple of inadvertent touching of really hot things, I went mostly unscathed. I had on thick gloves that weren’t quite thick enough but still kept things tolerable. Bottom line: molten metal is dangerous stuff and that becomes increasingly more and more apparent as you go along.

Like Frank Jr. though, we kept at it and were rewarded with blobs of melted silver and smaller blobs of melted gold rather than just large blobs of plastic on a kitchen table. We are so much smarter than Frank Jr. don’t you think?

Loonie shown for scale

Maybe not. J was strangely encouraged by it all and is eagerly anticipating getting the proper equipment. He wants to melt more stuff. He wants more blobs. Me? Well, okay…I admit that making blobs wasn’t so bad. Kinda fun, actually. I wouldn’t mind a few more blobs, if I do say so myself. I will definitely go back for another audition.

But, this time, I will be wearing thicker everything.