Winning and losing Eastside style

I was about 15, a bit soft and pudgy (those were my thin days) and I was a new kid (again) in another bad neighbourhood.  I was walking down a street on my way to a new school-friend’s house when a guy came running up behind me and hit me hard on the head.  I fell down.  In fact, I fell down on to the lawn in front of my friend’s house so my arrival to his house was off by maybe 30 seconds.  Those 30 seconds would result in my getting the crap kicked out of me.  And they would change my life forever.

Barry (I found out who it was later) was a year or two older than I was, a few inches taller and ‘mature’ in the sense that he shaved, had muscles and looked butt-ugly.  I did not shave and was still pretty damn cute with cheek-fuzz and lingering baby-fat. Barry was one of the school bullies and I was getting familiarized with my new role as a local victim.  It was an inauspicious introduction to Vancouver’s eastside.

I was laying on the ground covering up my face while Barry waled on me.  He punched, kicked and generally inflicted as much pain as possible but, as it continued, I guess he got a bit fatigued and so he then sat on me, straddled me, and continued the beating from the seated position.  It seemed to me that he was saying, ‘I am settling in for the long haul.’

It was looking grim to say the least.

But, there is a God.  Seems Barry had hay fever or was asthmatic.  Or something.  I don’t really know.  I was busy thinking  about other things at the time.  But I heard him wheezing a bit and then I sensed that his blows were getting weaker.  Pretty soon Barry was wheezing quite heavily, gasping for breath and then he rolled off of me in an attempt to recover.  He was vulnerable.  I was saved.

My first instinct was to run for the front door and get truly safe but, well, as I slowly stood up while Barry was still on the ground, wreaking a little revenge proved too tempting and so I jumped on him and proceeded to balance the books the best I could.  I was not much of a fighter and I did little damage but, in the dynamics of the situation, I found some small empowerment.  It turned out that I felt much better hitting the bad guy than I did being hit by the bad guy.  It was a small revelation and a huge satisfaction all at the same time.

Mind you, it was a somewhat short-lived and only a partial victory.  The more I struck Barry, the less he wheezed.  The less he wheezed, the angrier he got.  And it became clear to me that soon my retaliation time would be over and I would very likely end up back on the ground in my prior situation.  I started to think of an escape plan.

Fortunately by then, Mrs. new-school friend came out of her front door and started screaming at us.  She would have none of it!  We were rotten boys and she was calling the police.  RIGHT NOW!  That was enough for Barry.  He took off.  I stood there, covered in blood and my school chum told his mother who I was and they took me in and cleaned me up.  It was during that time that I learned about the local ‘bad’ boys and the two or three ‘baddest’ to avoid at all costs.  Barry, it seems, was amongst the baddest.

That did not bode well for my future.  But I put it out of my mind as best I could.  It was not easy.  Barry was everywhere and, when he could, he would cast angry glances and make threatening gestures.  It was intimidating and there seemed an inevitability to it all.  Barry intended to beat me up again sometime soon.

But Freddy Fuller (smaller than Barry or me) was at our school and he was the Golden Gloves champ for his age and weight group in all of Canada.  The boxing club worked out at the local Boy’s Club. His father was the club’s boxing coach.   I enrolled there to play chess and floor hockey but got to know Fred and we became friends.  After awhile, I took up boxing.  

I was also feeling keenness of teen testosterone and found myself entranced by teenage girls.  I wanted ’em.  But pudgy is NOT the way to winning a young girl’s heart and so I added weight training and Rugby and football to the hockey and boxing program and, as it turned out, my new part-time, after school job was loading furniture trucks for their next day deliveries.  The furniture store was a couple of miles away from my school and so I ran that distance every day.

By the time I had been there a year, I was much fitter (although I always look like a bar of soap), Fred was using me as his sparring partner because I was 165 pounds and his fighting weight was 136.  I was much like a live, always moving heavy bag for him and he did NOT pull his punches.  But I had a lot more strength and I was getting much more confidence from all of that.  Plus I had a very intimate girlfriend and there is nothing better than having a loving girlfriend when you are 16.  Finally, there was a reason to live.

I was in the ring one day, shadow-boxing.  It was before the session with the coach.  I was alone.  Barry and two friends came in and watched for a minute and then began to heap abuse.  I replied with an invitation.  “Why not join me in the ring, Barry?”

“I don’t have gloves.”

“You don’t need to wear ’em.  I will wear them, though.  Don’t want to hurt you too much.  But you can wear whatever you like.  I don’t care.  Are you chicken, Barry?”

Barry climbed in the ring and gave it his best shot including trying to wrestle and kick.  A few minutes later, his friends were helping him get off the floor and out of the ring.  This time it was his face that was the worse for wear.  I hadn’t even worked up much of a sweat.  It was one of the best days of my life back then.  It was the beginning of real confidence.

You’d think that would be the end of it but it was just the beginning.  Barry and I engaged each other at least four or five more times before the end of high school but each of those times was just a quick flurry of fury and it was over.  I think I came out better than he did but his eagerness to try again a few months later belied any sense of defeat.  Barry was relentless.

There is a weird twist to all this.  Even though we were never friends nor even ‘on speaking terms’, Barry and I played on several teams together.  Rugby, Football and Floor-hockey.  Twice during ugly floor hockey games the opposing team’s thug/enforcer would single me out for some punishment (I scored often) and I usually responded with some retaliatory force.  A fight would then ensue and I was always the littler guy fighting the other team’s bully.  If I fared alright, then it all ended quickly but, if I looked like I might lose, Barry would be the first to leap in to rescue me.  One time, he came to my aid with two other guys.  It took three of them to restrain that one brute and I remember distinctly hearing Barry yell, “Get out!  Run!  We’ll bring your stuff later.”

I took the advice.

Why tell you all that?  Only because I alluded to street fights earlier and Barry was the first.  Barry initiated me.  I still hate the bastard but I am glad for the learning experience.  It was needed and it proved useful many, many times later on.  .


I bought a car

Sal and I left the islands early yesterday and went south to Comox where I bought a car. I purchased a 1990 Toyota 4×4 for $400.00. It’s dirty. It needs some work. But it only had 180,000 kms on the running gear and it is definitely ‘recoverable’. I will never try to ‘restore’ it because it is more than good enough for the time I have left and the use I intend. This vehicle will be a ‘used-once-a-month’ vehicle and I doubt that I could put ten thousand more kms on it before I run out of life-time, myself. This may never see 200,000 kms. But this model is renowned for longevity and figures of 500,000 kms are usually cited by owners and reviewers. It should see me out.

The frame is good, the tires are good, the running gear took me up to a top speed of 100 kms/hr on an 80 km-speed limit road without any problem and the heater/AC even blew hot and cool (not cold but definitely cool). All the windows work. In fact, everything works except……

…I have to replace the CV joints. The unit has two axles up front that need to be somewhat precise to transfer power to the wheels (they worked well for that in a straight line) but they need to perform that task even if the car is turning (and they can still do that but there is a lot of chatter and clunking when turning sharply so they won’t be able to do that for much longer). And it needs a muffler. God! Does it need a muffler! I am sure that I will find a few more things to fix when I get to it. One thing is for sure – there is a whole day of two people going at it just to get it half-clean.

Usually when people say, “I have repairs to do”, they mean: I am going to pay a mechanic to fix it it up. But not this time. This time, I am going to do it with a mechanic friend standing over my shoulder with gentle words of wisdom spiced up with the occasional rude rebuke (always deserved) when I screw up. He figures he could do it in a couple of hours but that means I better plan on staying overnight in town for two days. “Why not just get him to do it?” My pal is willing, I am sure, but currently he long retired and is a smidge under the weather and sliding him under the car just isn’t right. In fact, boring and frustrating him for two days isn’t right either but he’ll likely find it fun heaping abuse on me so it’s a trade-off of sorts.

And anyone can replace a muffler (not the whole system – just the muffler and CC). So that’s easy. The CV joints, on the other hand will likely draw blood, cause some pain and frustration and make me crazy but that means I at least understand it all better when I am done.

“Why do you need a car on the island?”

I don’t. NOT really. But, but, but….when friends and family, guests and visitors come, they want to see the whole enchilada that we call our island. And that requires a vehicle. The island is somewhere around 25 kms long and five kms wide. We have friends and neighbours we rarely see. Plus the bookclub needs rides now and again. So does the doctor. And on and on and on… effect, this is a cross between an ATV, an ambulance and a limo (it seats 7 skinny people, 6 normal-sized people or five plus a dog). It will be useful for many things – just not too frequently.

I tell you all this because, as you know, we claim to be less inclined to comforts and luxuries and living OTG kind of implies being hardy and practical. I often refer to ol’ Sal as Cougar Sally. (Or even Tyrannosaurus Sally if she is angry.) I claim to be a bit mushy myself but it is Sal’s reputation that keeps the bears away. Still, the truth is we do stuff and doing stuff often means fixing and improving things. This is an intended ‘improvement’ and – let us be honest – it is a comfort, a treat, a fun-thing, something that will make life a bit easier (until the car breaks down) and we may even be able to do some community good now and then.

With the purchase, the repairs and the barge delivery, we will be into it for approximately $1500. Since I am always wrong about the cost of things, let’s budget $2,000. That is a reasonable sum for ‘fun and comfort’ and, to be blunt, I cannot buy a good ATV for that. This could be good. Stay tuned.

For Wim, Margy, Dave, Sid and a whole bunch of Johns

Almost 100 years ago a woman came to live on our island with her newly-wed husband, John Murray.  They were city-people and had substantial wealth but had lost a lot of it due to the stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression.  They still came with ‘some’ money and had ‘some more’ left in some stocks and such (I am guessing) and learned to live ‘like locals’ so as to weather out the financial storm.  She was as much as ten years younger than he was but they were both young, fit and had great attitudes.  They saw their circumstances as an adventure more than a hardship.

Or so that was written in the book, The Flip of a Coin by Jenofer Murray.  

The book had been written by J. Murray but was less-than-professionally edited when it was published by Pinehill Press, in South Dakota in 1984.  It was never a popular book, no best-seller.  And some time later Pinehill Press disappeared.

And I wrote about all that some blogs back in June.

Today I was sent a notification by Amazon suggesting that I might be interested in a new OTG book release.  Their algorithm knows what I like.  And, of course, it is the re-issue of The Flip of a Coin.  Readers already know the backstory: the local ladies-only bookclub restored and re-issued the book for historical reasons.  There is no money being made – none whatsoever.  In fact, it cost them some to do the job as well as gobs of time from some volunteers but they will NOT profit by it in any way except as a preservation of local history.  In other words, it is inexpensive – printing costs and Bezos’ profit only.

You can get a copy now:

The first step to solving a problem is naming it

Hong Kong has 7.5 million people.  BC has 5 million.  Hong Kong has 200 active cases of C-19.  BC has 2000.  In Hong Kong, 200 people have died so far.  Same for BC.  The population of Hong Kong is extremely concentrated in a small area (more than 7,000 per square km).  BC has 4.8 persons per square kilometre.  The Hong Kongese are handling the virus much better than we are and we are handling the virus better than most of the rest of Canada and way better than any part of the USA.  So, what is the difference?


My Hong Kong friends are very polite when they give their opinion.  They do not want to insult us.  But they feel a bit less concerned about offending ‘Mericans.  “The ‘Merican people so stupid!  Trump is so stupid.  This virus will keep them very depressed for a very long time.”

“What could we do better?  Can we get as good as Hong Kong?”

“Simple.  Easy.  Everyone wear masks.  All the time.  Everyone.  Everywhere.  And then you have to test for the super carriers.  The super carriers are asymptomatic and don’t know they are super carriers.  We tested half the city and found 50 super carriers.  They are now isolated and being closely monitored.”    

“We can’t get tests.”

“So sorry.  Canadian people so stupid, too!  Ha ha!”  (My HK friends are wonderful people but our senses of humour differ somewhat from time to time).

Bottom line: we are not as good at dealing with this pandemic as we think we are.  And, worse than that, we are getting worse at it, not better.

Step one:  It is time to mandate masks all the time.  Duh!

I was not going to write about C-19 but the California wildfires prompted it.   Seems the government is saying that ‘they cannot stop the increasing wildfires in the future and that people will just have to learn to live with them.’  They say that because they put a large part of the blame on climate change and that is only getting worse.  Trump, of course, denies climate change.  So do most Republicans.  It is interesting how many different ways stupid can show up, eh?

Step two: it is time to remove stupid people from office.  Forever.  All the time.  Everywhere.  

I know that sounds like a rant or something but, think about it…..currently we have staggeringly stupid people not only in charge of our every day affairs but now they are influencing our very survival.

Stupidity is killing us.

A small example of that was all-too-evident at the hospital Sally attended for her knee operation.  The physio lab was filthy.  Literally sticky-with-drool filthy.  And, when that was brought to their attention, they said, “Oh, we have wipes on the wall there.  Feel free to wipe anything.”  That was the highly paid, degree-holding, professional staff.  The even-higher-paid administration said, “Oh, I know where the physio lab is but I have never been in it!”  We have systemic stupidity even at the local hospital level.

And now we are sending all the kids back to school.  OMG!!!  Think about it like this: doctors and nurses are sending their kids back to crowded classrooms with teachers!  Society’s ‘smart people’ came up with that plan.

This suggestion may be ridiculous but the situation is getting ridiculous.  I think we have to test for stupidity from now on.  It’s clearly an epidemic.  We can call it the Trump Virus, the Duh disease or the Stupid Sickness – whatever works for you.  


Some guy called Schwartz

Daniel Mark Scwhartz, on his website OTG Permaculture, provided his 7 Reasons  for people NOT to Go Off Grid.  He was being tongue-in-cheek, of course.  He is an OTG convert, himself.  However, a few of the reasons, silly as they are, are also partly true.
  • One — Paying bills is what gets you out of bed in the morning.  He claims you would not normally get out of bed if you didn’t have a demanding job and you only took the demanding job to pay off demanding bills.  In other words, you need discipline and slavery imposed on you so that you can live your life.  That seemed specious at the very least until I remembered my high school days.  He has a point.
  • Two — Other people know better than you. And the government, corporations, and institutions have your best interests at heart. They do everything they can to keep you happy and safe. Why would you leave all that behind? Or do that for yourself? The best plan is to quit asking questions, put your head down and be confident that everything you deserve will come to you of its own accord. Believe everything that you are told by the media, politicians, and academics, because they are entirely selfless and much better informed than you will ever be about anything.  Silly, eh?  Total faith in the unselfish, un-corrupted, Capitalist system?  Well, there are some, I suppose.  
  • Three — You live for retirement. The best thing we can all hope for in life is a long retirement.  Everyday, the trying circumstances and grind of employment and citizenship are the penance you pay for the freedom you had as a child, and the hopeful freedom you might have as a retired person. Eventually, you will have the money and free time to do everything that you wanted, but just not now. Not yet!  Sadly, Mark might be a bit more correct on this point.  Many, many people suffer, endure and tolerate their lives so that they can maybe enjoy them when they are old and get a pension.  
  • Four — Nature scares you.  Nature is full of gross things — death, manure, bugs! The farther away from that you can be, the better. So long as the stores are stocked and your paycheck still holds out, you’re just fine. You know that people will buy out store shelves until there is nothing left. But you’d prefer the danger you know to the unknown worries of keeping a garden, or raising your own animals. Compost your own poop? You’d rather die than go without indoor plumbing or a flush toilet for a single day!  It turns out that a good percentage of urbanites actually feel this way.  I’ve met ’em!  The flush toilet thing is crazy!
  • Five — You hate the idea of real, physical hard work. Growing food! Isn’t that for poorly educated foreigner workers or brown people?  You have an office job because you don’t have to stoop down to the level of working with your hands, or acquiring intrinsically valuable skills. Your parents raised you get a degree, make good money and live a nice suburban life.  So what if your job is unfulfilling?  Just as long as you are able to eek out a comfortable living while doing as little as humanly possible, then you’re living the dream!  If you can go your whole life without ever sweating, then you may not be happy, but at least you won’t have suffered.  Again, sadly, many people feel comfort is essential.  I seek comfort now and then, too, but do not need to live cosseted by it.  There is a difference.
  • Six — You trust corporations with your life.  Corporations and the people who run them are the most selfless people on the planet. So you know that you can trust them to transparently run every aspect of your life. The less you know the better.  I.e.  GMO foods must be healthy! Otherwise, why would they sell them? Isn’t there someone who is supposed to take care of all that for you? Grid power rarely goes down, and if it does, it comes right back up again. You can rely on them.  Banks and real estate agents would never let you borrow beyond your means, or buy a house that is too expensive for your income, subjecting you to a life of virtual slavery to pay of an exorbitant mortgage. News and the media live for the truth and relevant news.  You can trust the things you’re told, especially the ones that scare you and keep you in line.  I think Mark may have gone too far on this one.  No one trusts the media, the medical profession or the police anymore.  Well, not fully.  Mind you, they DO rely on those institutions a great deal.  
  • Seven — You have no idea where your food really comes from. Isn’t picking food from plants or fishing potentially dangerous? Real food comes wrapped in plastic from stores and that has first been inspected and that’s all that you really need to know. Don’t you know that people die from things, and don’t you know that food is among those things? Big Agra may not keep us healthy, but they will keep us alive enough to buy more, and that’s all you really need to know.  This one is too true.  I know people who won’t accept a gift of prawns or oysters fresh from our back bay and picked only an hour or so ago because they were not inspected or refrigerated the whole time (still, packed in ice, however).  

So, what is my point in this blog?  Mark, I think, went a bit too far but there is an element of truth to each point.  Points numbered #1, #2, #3 and #6 may not be readily admitted but much of our behaviour suggests they are not that far off-the-Mark Schwartz.

Lifestyle changes

Preamble: ‘A reformed urbanite gone feral’ is not much of a background story to this blog. You guys know I am married to Sal, have two adult children and that we bailed out of the madding crowd to build a remote cabin on an unserviced island up the BC coast fifteen years ago. If you slogged through our first book, you will have gleaned a bit more about us but, generally speaking, your view has not been coloured too much by a detailed or chronicled written past. One of our fellow OTG bloggers (Deer Garden) sometimes drops a little personal history into her posts and Sal thought I should, too. Sid has also suggested doing so. But to do so chronologically would be just plain boring so I thought I’d spill it out in little themes. This theme is ‘different lifestyles’. And it may be more than you wanted to know…..please consider this a blog experiment of sorts.

When we lived in the city, we lived almost half the time on boats (one at a time, to be more accurate). Three in total. Eleven years. We lived urban together for 30+ years but eleven was at immediate sea level (slightly below). Twenty-six years in total, if you also count being ‘on the water’ out here. Sea level, it turned out, is my base, my foundation, my admittedly fluid, ever-changing, rising and falling, floating bedrock. Quite a contradiction in descriptive terms, don’t you think?

I was first ‘driven’ to living afloat by being young, poor and (quel surprise!) opinionated about what life should be like. It was supposed to be fun! And yet I loathed my first two landlords. To be fair, they were not all that bad but, for me, they were more than bad enough. Why? Because they, too, had a vision of what life should be like and they imposed their vision on us. And their’s was not fun! A small character flaw was revealed at that particular point in my life – I do not like authority figures in any form. And I tend to more-than-chafe at them……and I get worse as I get older.

(Many, many more of my character flaws would be revealed as we carried on these past fifty years together, much to Sal’s constant surprise and delight.)

The last apartment landlord before our different water-life had the audacity to make us separate our garbage into different containers! The bastards! They had come from Germany and Germany was decades ahead of Canada in recycling. I simply did not get it at the time and assumed they were just Nazis.

So, in an uniformed impulse of independence, I bought a 32 foot bridge deck cruiser built in 1933 by Benson Brothers shipyard in Coal Harbour. That seemed like a great idea until the seller casually inquired as to where I was intending to tie up. “Unh, right here. Seems nice. I’ll stay here.” That plan was vetoed by the Vancouver Rowing Club as described politely and sympathetically by the seller (…..with a small smile on his face).

That impulsive exercise in independence was just another in a continuing line of Sal’s surprises and delights. She’s had a lot of fun!

FYI: Moorage does NOT automatically come with the purchase of a vessel and life-ruled-by-landlords just shifted from land to water’s edge. We had to move. We went from the beautiful setting of the rowing/yacht club in Stanley Park to living like trolls just under the Granville Street Bridge near Granville Island with a lunatic for a landlord. Marine lord-amok, H. Clay – a real piece of work.

At one point I had to chase Sally down and grab her arm as she approached him menacingly with a hammer held over her head while yelling threats at him. He was literally cowering as he retreated back into his office. Even his pack of small dogs were afraid and whimpering behind him. She was ticked! He had thrown her flower-box into the drink claiming ‘boats should not have flowers’. And that rift between them never healed.

Freedom is just another word for not having a landlord.

We needed a dock of our own. And that was the beginning of the slow and methodical slog into the real-estate/water’s edge development game I soon found myself deeply immersed in. What a learning curve that was! I started the Coast Floating Home Association and we eventually built the first ‘live aboard’ marina in Canada (legal one, anyway). It was and still is a Co-op in False Creek. Proper name: Spruce Harbour Marina.

That era of living on boats was a great one! We made dozens of very good friends many of whom are still close to us today. T’was a wonderful time. But then, well, life changes and, after a leg-altering knee operation, we moved ashore and I bought a ‘developer’s’ fancy car, a suit and a briefcase (it was just for show – nothing in it) and we had children and then we bought a house and I learned about mowing lawns and parent-teacher conferences. Life and lawns happen whether you are aware of it or not.

Suburbia really was not the ideal lifestyle for me but it had it’s moments. I learned to BBQ, clean the pool, start a watch and tie collection and make a fool of myself in front of my kid’s friends (on purpose, of course). I never really knew how to be a father nor, more importantly, how to make our kids behave….until…..they were teens. Then, one fateful and blessed day I realized that I could get them to do just about anything I wanted if I threatened to walk through their school during lessons wearing only my housecoat and slippers while calling their name out as loudly as possible. I was lucky – because they knew I would do it (and I would have). Those usually difficult teen years went relatively smoothly after that timely epiphany.

Why am I telling you all this? Because you don’t really know me – not in a way that explains the OTG side of the blog, anyway. And, this little blog-sketch won’t help a lot but it might add a bit. You are not missing very much by NOT knowing me, but my background is somewhat pertinent to my current ground. I am here because I was there. And I was deeply immersed in THERE back then for a while at least. I was suburban for about twenty years.

And, to be more accurate, I was there back then because of where I came from even before that. I think we are all somewhat the result of our pasts.

I will not bore you with my long and sordid 70 plus-year history except to say that it was ‘different’. It was Gypsy-esque. But it was always urban/suburban. It was relocation and dislocation writ large and frequent. It was the opposite to stable and normal. Some of it truly was sordid. A few tidbits: 13 different schools before graduation; the only white kid in an all-black school in San Francisco; a bouncer in a pub, a professional motorcycle racer and contractor with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). And that is only some of the ‘interesting’ titles of some of the interesting jobs. Maybe 30% of it. It has been different, colourful and, in retrospect, very interesting and enriching in every sense but financial – which is more than OK with me. It was at least financially adequate. Experience is wealth, money is just filthy lucre.

So, how did all that waywardness end us up here? Good question.

Accident. Serendipity. Luck. Who knows? At some point (being poor and not being able to own a home in the madness that was Vancouver’s real estate market) I lit out for points west and north in search of any generous piece of land that I could afford. I searched first on Vancouver Island. Then up to Cortes Island. While that quest was burning a hole in me, a group of urban Vancouver strangers came together to buy a piece of land up the BC coast. I knew one of them. They invited Sal and me to join the group. We went with it. The rest is history that lead to buying our piece of paradise when I was 26 years old.

And then we forgot all about ‘the rocks and Xmas trees’ while we went through all the other normal lifestyle suburban nonsense. By the time I was 50, I was tired of the now all-too-familiar rat race despite the BBQ and golf. I really wanted out.

How does one ‘get out’? Lots of little prompts and pushes is what worked for us. Sal was burning out at her job, I started to dream of building a cabin, the kids were all-but-fully functioning, independent adults attending university and our OTG island property definitely FIT the definition of an attractive ‘OUT’. At 56, I left the city with Sal. In a way, we were moving back to the ocean. Not full-time afloat but lots of boating, lots of ocean, lots of marine life, lots of fish and chips. We had come home to a home I never really knew.

This almost decade-long blog and our first book partially fills in some of the rest. There is more, of course. It goes on and on and on. But, in the end, it is all about lifestyle choices and our lifestyle turned out to be eclectic and different, eccentric and even quirky in some ways. We enjoyed an ever-changing lifestyle that, in itself, is a lifestyle. But we live a lifestyle that has kept us close to the sea and, in that sense, it is somewhat consistent (we get wet a lot), just not quite as predictable as some.

It is a rare blog that blows no-one any good at all – not even me!

The C-19 and Stupidity Virus blog got precisely ZERO comments.  That might be just fair judgment by the discerning few in my readership but there was at least ONE good point (describing Dumb, the patriot’s disease) and it was also backed up by a bit of history (Hardhat Riots).  I figured one good observation was good for at least one good comment.  I erred, optimist that I am.

It is also true that my hordes of readers have dropped in number these past few weeks.  I have had over 200 on a good day but now I am getting only 75.  That’s a 60+% drop in popularity.  But, when that happened to Trump, he got nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize!  That is hard to understand.  Blogging is a tough business.  Popularity is a tough business.  Trump seems to be gaining popularity by being repugnant.  It all seems so crazy to me.

And, given that I do NOT DO ANY BUSINESS on my blog, it becomes impossible to even make a buck anymore!  Or keep my customers, anyway.  I could go under!  Well, OK, I never did make-a-buck and, in fact, lost $60.00 every year for the cost of the internet service provider so maybe I am part of the problem?

Mind you, along the same lines of this new reverse logic, I am always disappointed that I never win the Lotto and yet I never buy a ticket, either.  Hmmmmm….a pattern may be emerging…….

Sal says I am also not eligible for CERB.  “You don’t make any money so that means you can’t get any, ya see!  If we made some money, then we could apply and get some more.  It is simple when you think about it.” 

It’s all a bit odd now, don’t you think?   And I am having trouble learning the new ways of thinking.  I was looking at a new Yamaha 50 outboard.  It cost about $9400 in BC.  But the Internet told me that the engine cost $8400 in Australia.  I assumed that the $Aus dollar was worth more than ours – you know?  Currency differences?  But, no!  Actually the $C dollar is 4 cents better than Aus so the math does not explain the almost $1000 dollar difference.  It could simply be that we are Canadian and we pay more for everything and that is simply the way of things.  Crazy.

In my worldview, most things are currently sideways or totally upside down.  The only right-side up part is that I am far away (not far enough!!) and don’t have to deal with the increasing madness on a daily basis like I used to have to.  Either the world is getting crazier or I am.

Could be both, I suppose.





The second virus – worse than the first

Yeah…..almost another Covid blog (with a twist)…..sorry…..

First there was the onset of Covid supposedly back near the beginning of the year and it took everyone by surprise (especially New Yorkers) and continued to ‘morph’ in our minds as we grappled with the nature of it, the impact of it and our responses to it.  It was, to a large extent, a mystery disease; so little evidence, so much talk and confusion.

“What’s really going on?”  No one really knew.

Sal and I think we contracted Covid in early March as a result of the filthy and contaminated physiotherapy room at the hospital where Sal had her knee replaced.  We were both very ill, Sal for a week, me for 3 days.  We had a residual malaise for, perhaps another ten days.  And a trace of that even today.  But, despite our very probable personal Covid experience, we still knew nothing but we were somewhat more inclined to wear masks and sometimes rubber gloves, keep socially distanced and generally live less and less ‘in community’ and rather, stay more and more isolated.  I do not think I have been to town in three months at the least.  We don’t know much but we erred on the side of caution.  Still do.

Around that time, we all got to know and like Dr. Fauci of the US Centre for Allergies and stuff and Dr. Henry, the BC chief medical officer.  Both were sincere, human, learned and seemed to convey a level of competence and genuine concern.  But, sadly, that was more appearance than fact or result.  They know more, they can speak with authority and they can ‘work’ 16 hour days but, if the masses do not listen, if their political superiors undermine them and if they are reeling from the changing pandemic landscape virtually every day, they are – despite their best efforts – not ‘flattening the curve’, not curing the disease and, sadly, NOT making a positive-enough difference.  In fact, during Fauci’s watch, the greatest possible criminal negligence act was perpetrated on the American people in their history.  Trump knew in early February that C-19 was a deadly pandemic and chose a path of action that could only make it worse.  Fauci and Trump shared the stage.

No.  Fauci is not to blame.  Close to 200,000 people are dead in the USA today because of the politicans who did NOT listen to the good doctor.  Even if Fauci didn’t really know how things were going to turn out, his guess was better than theirs.  But, ‘Who ya gonna believe?’

Of course, ultimately the mystery disease and your response to it is yours.  You decide how to address this threat for yourself and for your family.  You have to think.  And you must take the actions you think are necessary.

At least a third of Americans chose purposefully NOT to think responsibly and, surprisingly, they willingly decided to flout any medical advice and many also purposefully chose to immerse themselves in situations virtually guaranteed to infect themselves and, of course, their families and friends.  Millions chose to believe the disease was a hoax and they then chose to get in the way of the virus to prove it!  They did NOT merely suspect the doctor’s advice, they totally believed the doctors were lying and that the virus was nothing more than the flu.  They believed Trump.

Why follow lyin’ Trump?  Because they believed in something else even bigger.  They had chosen to believe alternative facts, Globalist conspiracies, Trump’s lies, Q-Anon’s theories and the rants and propaganda of more idiots with microphones than ever in history (social media).  Even as the liars and propagandists were proven time and time again to be wrong, their supporters grew.  We are witnessing the zombification of the American people by evangelizing con-men.  The Bubbas are not only stupid but they are getting stupider and stupider every day.

And that is the second virus.  Ignorance, stupidity, gullible populism, sheep-disease and delusion are rampant, virulent and well-established in the USA with no cure in sight.  And no amount of facts, data, truth and information can change them.  Not quickly, anyway.  They are, in fact, proud that they DO NOT KNOW anything and they chant USA, USA, USA to tell us proudly who they are.  Ignorance is their second disease and it is gonna kill ’em.

Frankly, I do not care all that much.  I should.  But I don’t.  I think I am basically a good person but I hate mosquitoes, I hate liars and I especially despise stupidity.  If the Darwin awards have you on their list, you are not on mine.

But those that choose to be stupid are free to do so.  ‘ You GO, Bubba!’

Zombification may be a form of Nature’s population control.

But doesn’t this great social phenomena of NOT believing science, facts, reason and logic make you wonder?  How did this weird, insidious social-disease happen?  Did it start with Limbaugh?  Did it start with Trump?  Did the Russians or Chinese sabotage the American culture and school system back in the 80’s?  Exactly HOW DID stupidity become so popular and prevalent?  Even if you trace National Dumb back to beer-guzzling guys wearing cheap baseball caps backwards, that is still just a glaring symptom.  Beer and hats don’t make you stupid….well, not long term, anyway…..(I hope).  How did dumb become a such a popular ‘thing’?

Seriously, did some ‘marketer’ decide to promote idiocy as a way to sell hats and beer or something?

PS  I did some further research into this and found a small body of reference to it in that the Hardhat Rebellion during Richard Nixon’s time is perceived as maybe the genesis of the ‘great divide’ in ‘Merican politics.  There were those opposed to the war in Vietnam and there were those who chose to see that opposition as unpatriotic.  So, the hard-hat wearing right-wingnuts beat up a bunch of long-haired hippy activists in New York and the president sided with the ‘patriots’ against the ‘draft dodgers’.   And there has been a nasty divide ever since.  The sins of the father…….  

First, there was light. Then there was chicken. And it was good.

No man hath chicken like sun-cooked, rotisserie chicken.  It has to be the best!

And Allah looked down with love and said, “Go forward and multiply the cookers and fill them with chickens and spread across the land the miracle of my bounty and ye shall have all the chickens for all the people for all the rest of time.  Just save me one now and then.” And it was so.  And it was good.  In fact, it was finger-lickin’ good.

Well, the truth is that it was not quite as miraculous as God thinks.  HE/SHE came late to dinner last night and didn’t really see all the previous goings-on that were needed to get there.  Bottom line: it was a bit of a schmozzle.

Y’all know about the challenge of getting the temperature high enough to feel sure about completely roasting the chicken beyond any doubt and, of course, Murphy did sneak in a few times to screw things up as I worked to get there.  I hit 275 degrees Fahrenheit fairly early on in the test days and, with the addition of the Fresnel lenses, eventually got ‘er up to 325.  I was chuffed!

So, I slipped a chicken on the rotisserie bar around 2:00 in the afternoon yesterday.  Put everything in place and turned it on.  The chicken turned around and around.  But, after a few minutes, the chicken lay on the bottom of the oven and the bar was no longer turning!  The problem was that the bar was aligned slightly downhill and, with the weight of the chicken on it, it slowly slipped out of the motor drive and all things greasy fell to the oven floor.

A quick ponder and I knew what I had to do: find a bushing-gasket for where the bar went through the oven wall and then use some kind of bar clamp so that the bar did not slip.  I walked into my shop with the chicken lying impatiently back at the oven and looked in one of my junk drawers.  And it was a miracle!  There was something that looked like it had been designed for the job.

And some people don’t believe in God!

I put the chicken, the oven, the bar and assembly all back together and turned it on again.  It was working.

Three hours later I was peeking at it and lamenting to Sal: :”There is clearly NO God!  The chicken is not cooked!  Not once did the oven go over 200 degrees….maybe 225.  I do not get it.  Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Better get it out and we’ll pop it on the grill.  Might as well at least save dinner.”

So, I stopped the turning, opened the oven and it was really hot.  Even more surprising, the chicken was fall-off-the-bone cooked.  It was a miracle!

My faith, it seems, is a bit fickle.

Miracle?  Yes.  But it was a less than aesthetic one.  The chicken was clearly cooked but not all that brown.  Not Costco brown, anyway.  More like a tan.  Hmmm……so I fired up the grill and gave it a minute on high flames and voila!  It was brown and crispy.

Seems God works in wondrous ways.

In the end, I am left in a quandary.  The oven worked and worked well.  Sorta.  But engineered ovens are also designed around consumer habits and I was, sadly, more focused on eating chicken when I designed mine.  That left a few gaps in the prototype.  One gap is that getting a chicken in there is a bit awkward.  Lots of assembly of oven parts AFTER the chicken gets loaded and so, if you need to mess with the subject matter at all, you first have to then deconstruct the oven.  That’s not ‘modern convenience’.  That’s awkward.  Secondly, chickens cooking ooze grease and stuff and my oven, sadly, was not designed for easy clean-up.

And, even tho I got the chicken nicely cooked, the temp never registered beyond 225.  What the hell?  So that is the NOT-SO-HAPPY side.

The happy side is that the chicken was – honestly – the best chicken I have ever eaten.  Like the solar oven ads claim, cooking solar somehow makes the meal tastier.  It really did.

Conclusion, I give myself a B.  Not even a B+.  Straight B.  My dilemma now is, a B will cook a chicken.  Nicely.  Tasty.  Do I re-engineer a few things to get my grade to an A?  Or do I just say, “A delicious chicken is nothing to be sneezed at.  Love that chicken with all your heart.  And love that oven, too.  Or tolerate it, anyway.”

I may put the oven under the house while I think it over.  If there is an apocalypse, it will come out again for sure.  If there is no such shattering event, it may just have to live there for awhile…….

The second part: Let There Be Light, refers to the lovely new lights.  Those, too, messed with our heads for a few days as we screwed up the wiring but we eventually got that sorted and they look great!

And the damn carb?  Well, it remains the damn carb.  And I am wondering again if there is a God and, if there is, why has HE/SHE abandoned me again?





I do not yet have a picture of a roasted rotisserie chicken to post but I ‘allege’ that the Fresnel lenses kicked up the output to 325/160 degrees F/C.  That is only 50 degrees better than before but it should be enough to prove the ‘oven’ claim when we decide to cook in it.  I have a pic of the temperature gauge at 325 but the real proof will be in the taste and appearance of the chicken……within a few days, I hope.

Sal’s carb on her Suzi has gone wonky and so we removed it and cleaned it and did crap and, of course, it was worse.  Sal is getting better as a mechanic, tho.  She has to be.  I cannot get my hands in there.  After our failure, an outboard mechanic-friend then took the carb for a better cleaning and inspection.  Sal got it back on the engine yesterday and it started up right away but still only ran half-throttle and idled a bit rough.  More to do.

The ship’s lights I started cleaning up two blogs back or so are up and looking great!  That was a schmozzle.  We wired the workshop almost 7 years ago (I think) and, of course, did NOT draw out the wiring plan before or after.  OR since.  So, when we went back to the task, we just looked at what wires were in the unused junction boxes and ‘remembered’ where they went and came from.  But we kept blowing fuses, tripping breakers, even twice screwing up the inverter and were faced with a light that, when the switch was thrown, would not run off.  That was a three day (two hours a day, tho) fiasco.  In retrospect, we had ‘remembered’ the junction box wiring wrong.  The light we installed needed a new wire and the light switch we were using was simply not part of that circuit.  This is NOT rocket science, folks.  It is almost as simple as plumbing.  But we came up short by encountering mystery shorts.  Solved now, tho.  Sheesh.

Came up in my boat on a big Humpy the other day.  It was real close.  Big flukes rising and descending right in front of me.  Pretty neat.

After the plague, comes the pestilence.  We’ve had mice!  Six trapped in three days!!!  We spent hours and hours mouse-proofing the house when we built it and it has been pretty successful so far.  But a door was left open and a few got in.  But six!?  Methinks they have found another way in and so the ‘tracking-the-mouse’ challenge is now underway.  Life OTG has mice.  Part of the scene.  They come.  They go.  And we kill ’em.  Still, the local gossip is that this is a bumper year for mice and everyone is having to deal with it.

First Trump, eh?  Now this mouse business!

Oh, well.  We’ll win.  We are bigger than they are and I, at least, am not afraid of mice.  Sal?  (We’ll leave that topic for another day).

I am gonna buy a car.  Something cheap, small and 4×4.  Gonna put it on the island and drive it around a bit now and then…show guests the lay of the island, visit folks, pick up guests, do some community work, maybe drive the doctor to see patients now and then…that kind of thing.  I figure I may put 500 miles on it a year…if…probably not….

Our 40-step or so front stairs need rebuilding.  The lower third needs it now.  Almost dangerous.  Kinda.  Of course, that means I may get to it by next Spring.  It’ll take me awhile to get in the lumber and well, you know…whales go by, guests come and go and we go out to play around in the garden and up the creek or on the boat.  Then there’s Netflix and dinner and wine.  Spring might be a bit optimistic. 

NOT a hot-blog day but keeping the ol’ fingers a’typing is important (for me).  I am looking forward to saying something worthwhile soon.  DO NOT hold your breath.