Paradise compromised

Some things about human beans remain the same despite knowledge, facts, science and even a strong sense of society/community trying to change them. People have biases. People have beliefs. Some people even gots religion. There is also (out here, anyway) a very strong vein of contrary or counter-conventional thinking anyway. Yep, we have Q-followers, anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. We likely even have believers that Bill Gates is trying to microchip us all.

One might wrap all that contrarian thinking up into the term ‘independent’ or ‘free-thinking’ but that would be wrong. There is nothing independent or free thinking about following Q and giving that same kind of zealous support that the general population has for social conventional wisdom. If you follow A or if you follow B, you are still a follower. Independence is quite different than just ‘opposite’ or ‘contrary’.

Real independence/free thinking requires gobs of knowledge (with, ironically, an emphasis on history), large amounts of thinking/contemplation/meditation and a really good nose for the usual BS and now the extraordinary amount of lies and misinformation out there. And that, I am sure is the very least required. Free thinking is almost impossible since we think with words and ‘canned’ information, constructs, thoughts and values all handed down to us when we were really NOT thinking very much at all (when we were kids).

All that precedes the story that our little community has a new split, a fissure, a divide in it. Everyone and anyone connected to this remote community was offered the shot. We had plenty of notice. Some chose NOT to get the shot. We have some antivaxxers and, in a small community, a group of contrarians – altho usually tolerated very well – are not as warmly embraced during a pandemic. One can tolerate all sorts of eccentricities and even whacky behaviour but it is hard to ignore a contagious disease.

Of course, I am tolerant, easy-going and accept those that I privately consider 100% wrong but that is not because I am enlightened and in the Zen of it all….no, I can tolerate it rather well because I got the shot. In two weeks time, the potentially diseased and contagious can kiss me on the lips and I will not care. I will be immune (or as immune as I can be).

But families with children are a bit more disturbed about this potential tear in our social fabric. Kids aren’t being vaccinated and the system is encouraging kids to go to school. Kids play together, interact in class, ride in boats. That ‘pool’ represents a highly connected network for potentially spreading the disease. If all the kids remain out here all the time, they may still be OK but any anti-vax adult NOT immune can pick up the virus in town or wherever adults go and then give it to their kids who will, in turn, give it to the school. Anti-vaxxers are giving the virus a back-door into the community. The pro-vax mothers are a bit ticked because others are putting their children at risk.

Is it a tempest in a tea-pot? It might be. I hope so. If things go well, it may blow over. But, for things to go well, we have to supplement the inoculation program (as inept as it is) by simultaneously achieving ‘herd immunity’ (generally perceived as being 80% of the population being free of the virus). If we get 80% of us clean and they remain disease free for a period of time, the virus loses it’s potential ‘market’ and has to jump too far and less frequently to keep itself going.

The anti-vaxxers are relying on 80% of the community to do the risk-work for them. I am guessing that, with our recent clinic, we might have around 60% virus free or safe within a couple of weeks. 60% is not 80%. 60% leaves 40% to give host to the virus and it’s variants. 40% can keep this disease spreading.

Frankly, NOT getting the vaccine is a person’s choice. I get that. And driving a car while intoxicated is also a person’s choice and I accept that, too. But, if the drunk kills someone, then they are fully responsible and should have to pay the price which will never be enough for anyone – not even the drunk. That would be a mistake that impacts many forever. Will a person with a political stance on C-19 be seen the same way as a drunk driver? Who knows?

And, even if they are, will they ever know?

In the city, a virus spreader may never know of their mistake in any direct way. They may never encounter one of their victims. They may just go blissfully on unthinking about what role they may be playing in the ever-changing pandemic. But, out here? In a small community where everyone knows everyone’s position on such things? I am not so sure one will have anonymity. This act of social defiance, this act of allegiance to Q or some conspiracy theory, this ignorance of social responsibility may come back to haunt them, may even divide the community, may cause another kind of disease that can never be eradicated.

It turns out that NOT getting the shot is a bigger gamble than the anti-vaxxers may have realized…….

Mundane minutiae and how my world is getting smaller

I am making something. That something requires steel. The steel requires holes. I have the steel and, Oh my God, do I have the drill bits. I got drill bits up the yin yang. Over the years I have acquired the equivalent of twenty pounds of drill bits. Maybe more. One of the reasons I have so many drill bits is that they get dull and I give ’em a sharpen but, of course, my sharpening skills are such that one might describe them as the dullest knife in my drawer. I am bad. So, I do what any privileged, white male does in the so-called first world. I buy more.

Yesterday, I ran out of sharp drill bits. So, I attempted a ‘comeback’ and sharpened a few. And failed again. I was at the miserable grinder sharpening and then over to the little Ryobi drill press (only strong enough to drill through stale bread) slowly trying to get a hole through 1/4 steel by what amounted to not much more than friction. To drill 32 holes took five hours.

Halfway through that embarrassing ordeal I came in and went on You Tube. Watched ‘How to sharpen drill bits’ for about forty minutes. I think you can see how I arrived at the title of this blog. I watched guys who have trouble speaking coherent sentences sharpen drill bits so that they could put holes in aircraft carriers or tanks! Each video is at least ten minutes. Each lesson could be delivered in 30 seconds, one minute if you count the usual safety warning and the ‘please subscribe and like’ entreaty. Sadly, they grunt the lesson and I was only learning a little. My world was getting smaller, shorter and mentally brutish.

The good news is that my first post-you-tube drill bit sharpening attempt was marginally better than the dull-as-rebar last drill bit I used. It was at least ten percent better than a blunt stone. By the third attempt, I could actually go back to the steel and try to push through it with a bit of a sharp edge to help me. It was not easy but some metal shavings were noticed. I think.

By the time I did the last drill bit (#12), it actually cut through the steel like it was supposed to. Kinda. NOT great but much quicker. I was ecstatic. I was exhausted but very pleased with myself despite having developed a cramp in my right wrist and arm while, at the same time, getting a corresponding pain in my left ankle. That is the price one pays twisting torque into your body while you try to press-drill without succeeding. Vibrating drill bits (from imperfect sharpening) also tends to add to the damage. So, I quit hurting myself (no steel was damaged in the doing of this story) and went in to drink wine. It was 5:17 pm. I began that ridiculous debacle at noon.

Real machinist types (Noncon) had to stop reading a few paragraphs back. Too painful. I understand.

I mention this not because drill bits, you-tube, winter, Covid and/or being antisocial are the only causes of my shrinking world. It is because that same dull-guy shows up when sharpening chainsaws, too. It seems I have some kind of genetic sharpening flaw. Neither my mother nor my father could sharpen chainsaws in their latter years either, poor handicapped parents (mind you, they lived in an apartment in the city that was heated by gas so they handled their shortcomings well).

The chainsaw is currently sharp. But that is mostly because it is new – practically just out of the box. I have dulled it with some recent cuts on the log pile described a few blogs back but then I sharpened it. This time I used Stihl’s new file-for-idiots system, a hybrid-file apparatus that thankfully takes all the thinking and the skill out of the equation. I am now good-to-go on the chainsaw front.

Yes, I know all about the Drill doctor for sharpening drill bits. I have two of them (for big bits and smaller ones). Suffice to say, the Drill Doctor was not designed for idiots. If Stihl makes something someday for those challenged by drill bits, I may give it a go.

Follow-up. I told my friend, S, about my inadequacies at sharpening last night and he came by this morning – gave me a few tips (literally and figuratively). The first literal tip cut through the steel like it was Canadian butter. So, this time I listened carefully and watched and damn! I can now drill through anything…..well….it turns out that at first I was still not doing all that well according to S. So he came over to the drill press. “Turning way too fast. You are burning out the bits. Let’s change the belt.” And that, dear reader, was the icing on the cake through which I began to drill. After S left, I went back out and put holes in everything!!!

What a great day in my little world! I just got richer, too. Twenty plus pounds of now USEFUL drill bits!!

I do not think we are winning

They (the ubiquitous they) are providing our remote community with C-19 shots next week. That’s good. Half the folks out here are 70+ and none of them are living in luxury with comforts and elevators, take-out food and handy amenities – but neither are they hob-nobbing with the hoi polloi, either. We are, at once, more vulnerable and less. We/they are more ‘removed’ than most from the danger of the disease but we are also missing the comforts and securities of modern urban living. We are a slightly different category of old people out here.

Still, old is old and with age comes vulnerability and some fragility. Our tough old guys are just as vulnerable to a virus, if not more so. Muscles and true grit do not help against a virus. If some of our guys get C-19, some may not make it…just the way it is.

This vaxxing process is an interesting logistical exercise, too. Since so many people travel by boat around here (no other option) then the community dock will have to accommodate the already-scheduled-by-appointments 200 plus people who have already registered. The community dock can comfortably hold a dozen boats and, jumbled together, maybe as much as another dozen. Thirty small boats will be chaos. So, boat pooling is encouraged but pooling dumps bunches of folks at the dock at once.

Imagine that: a dozen little boats jammed to the gunwales with old people bobbing down the channels. Then the folks cluster on the dock awaiting their turn to hike up the hill to get a shot so they do not contract a contagious social disease. Cluster, disperse then cluster again. I dunno….logistics and logic don’t always work out.

The solution, of course, is the schedule and the efficiencies of the medical team. I am scheduled within five minutes of four others. That’s good. I get there with my boat ‘pool’ and we all get jabbed and then get the hell out so that another small boat can tie up after we leave. Basically a good plan altho…….a jab takes five minutes but coming and going takes 30 minutes in total at the very least. We are going to have a vessel traffic jam out here. We are going to be rubbing a lot of shoulders on the way in and out. This could be a super spreader event.

Am I worried? No. I am not. As readers know, I think Sal and I got C-19 back in March, 2020. That means little, they say, regarding immunity but the virus has mutated so much that, even if having had it last year was a resistance builder, there are way too many mutations/variants for us to have any kind of immunity at this point in time. And therein lies the point of this blog: this is all taking too long.

In effect, we Canadians (with regards to our leaders) are almost passively reacting rather than being proactive and worse, we are reacting too slowly in a battle with an enemy that can change seemingly overnight. Canada has not ever really shut down and isolated for the required time. We have tried to keep the economy going instead of the lives of the people.

Apologies to the believers-in-the-system: I do not think we are winning.

I am, however, thankful (if not still a bit hesitant) to get the jab. But, if we are soon to be facing Covid 20, will it help? No one knows. Variations on the C-19 are likely to be still addressed with the current vaccine but will the soon-to-arrive-all-out, brand new mutants be stopped by it? Will the mutants of next year even look like their recent ancestors?

C-19 is a game changer and it may have changed for the worse. And we are not winning at this one.

OK! Enough wit’ da sex, already!

If you are going to talk about contentious issues, it is always good to start out with one sure to create a buzz and Me Too, Sex, gender politics and personal outrage is, perhaps, the top pop-issue of today (and yesterday and tomorrow). Sexual politics is an easy fire-starter for one’s hair, ya know?

But as good as sex is to get everyone’s attention, let’s be honest – sex is mostly just personally important but it is not as important as climate change, species extinction, micro-plastics and all the other mundane but still lethal threats we all are now facing. I mean, I really should be talking about Gaia, shouldn’t I?

But I will, instead, raise a different and currently (for me) topical issue: let’s go with the economy one more time – but this time, the micro-economy of a small village or loose gathering of neighbours, or just a gaggle of individuals spread out over a large space. In other words, I am talking about here.

I have an old boat. Good hull. Up on the hard. A neighbour asks, “Hey! Wanna talk about that ol’ boat ya got?” I say, “No need to talk. You want it? It’s yours.” “Just like that?” “Yep. I’ll tell the dozens of others who wanted to talk about it that I have given it away!” “How many others?” “None.”

A lot of hard bargaining around here.

Mind you, that kinda barter-gifting-favour-exchange thing is not universal. Young people charge money for their services. Old people generally do not (but then again, old people usually don’t work too long or hard). And old people prefer to deal in favours or exchanges more than cash, as a rule.

It is not that old people are richer or are more or less generous, it is just that young people have children and kids need cash. The going rate for unskilled labour is about $25.00 an hour. If muscles are gonna ache and the body is going to sweat, the price goes up to $30.00 an hour. Skilled labour is generally done on a contracted price. Newbies who come in and say, “Well, I can’t really estimate the time it will take but I charge $30.00 an hour” rarely get the job. Folks out here are cash-strapped and so they can’t take the risk of an un-bloody-guessable non-estimate.

All that sounds reasonable enough but some folks are better workers than others and so even the ‘general labour rate’ is still hard to peg. Some people work like Trojans, others stand around a lot and do not work hard at all. Both use up time……at $30.00 an hour. So, the local labour pool is a crapshoot. The cost-estimate of getting anything done is nebulous at best. The only thing that is generally always acceptable is free. There are attendant strings, obligations and expectations but they are always more than reasonable. Free+ is a good system.

The labour pool is also small. Out of say 250 folks out here, maybe 25 of them occasionally look for work in the area. Which translates into, “Well, I can get to it in week maybe. When do ya need it? I have to fix a bearing on the machine first. You know, the main one on the swing arm? And Barb wants to go to town soon, too. But, if ya need anything picked up in town, we can do that.”

What does that non-answer actually mean? No idea. He’s busy? Not interested? Barb doesn’t drive? Is it a way of bargaining? Is it avoidance? The usual best answer to that is, “Hey, thanks for the pick-up offer. I’ll get back to you.” (Note that the original topic – work – has been left untouched, unresolved and, for the foreseeable future, undone).

Free old guys and their piles of junk are the best. “Ya wanna get a new roof on J’s place? Aw’right. Let’s go!”

“I have to get in a few roof panels first.”

“Hell, if she isn’t fussy about the colour, I have some in the back she can have!”

“Alright then, let’s get ‘er done!”

Our economy is hard to actually get a handle on out here. As are the people. And it has a bit of a generation gap, too. The market is small, the labour pool is smaller and the discretionary cash-pool is even smaller yet. Attention spans? Non existent. Doing business out here is not at all like doing business in the city….but, somehow it is better. It’s more personal. It builds community. It helps people. But it truly is on the micro-nano-scale of an African village…..and, I swear…half the folks speak a form of business-Swahili and change the topic until, maybe, sometime in the future (could be years) when they bump into you on a trail and say, “Hey? You still interested in fixing that bearing on the swing arm for me?”

There is so much to talk about….

…..and so little courage*.

Police brutality, Black Lives Matter, Me, too, Trumpism, sexism, racism, cancel culture…the list goes on and on and on… much so that I don’t wanna talk/write about any of it. Those topics are toxic, draining and depressing not only for the issues the topics attempt to address but also how the words are interpreted, the remedies that are expected and the price paid for the perceived infractions related. In short; there is very little in the way of constructive discussion on those topics these days. They are fightin’ words! Those are, basically, for-and-against topics. Those topics make all issues black and white and any shades of grey are simply dismissed.

I do not want to write about ’em but I feel I must………may God have mercy on me

Let me tackle one that is a holy shrine of a topic in today’s world: Sexism in the workplace. “He said and did things that made me feel uncomfortable.” Or, maybe a better example, “Well he did nothing, he said nothing but I saw a lewd photo on his computer. It was a scantily clad woman objectified on a motorcycle! I just felt uncomfortable to the extent that I filed this Human Rights complaint.”

Now, before the heads pop off your pimples, let me be very clear: it is very unfortunate that someone might feel uncomfortable in the workplace. It is also bad behaviour to have pics of scantily clad women in the workplace where women might be exposed to them (unless it is a strip club, maybe?). Bad as in naughty. Bad as in rude. Bad as in ‘someone should have a word with him’. But that is it. That is all there is to it. It is NOT ‘bad’ as in irreparable harm-has-been-done. If some adult woman felt a smidge put off because some guy had a biker chick on his screen saver, well, she should just ‘get past it’ or, at the very worst, tell the offender that she doesn’t like seeing it there. But then THAT is it. Move on.

Doesn’t empowered also mean ‘not thin skinned’?

“Dave, why go on about this?” Well, things are getting crazier and crazier and someone has to speak up on some of these topics. And that example of the biker-chick on a screen saver was a real example from when I took a job as an investigator with the Human Rights Tribunal back when I was in my late 20’s. Their (HRT) decision (against my recommendation) was to pursue the matter against the fellow which eventually resulted in a fine and an official reprimand on his file. That he had a private office with a door, that it was just a screen saver and depicted nothing really, really rude save for legs and bosom, that she infrequently went in to his office and dropped off mail as opposed to being forced to see it all day long- all that made no difference. They slapped that guy with a fine and a record-of-sorts.

I resigned. I had to. The tribunal had a huge agenda and it was, in my opinion, biased against men.

Why would I resign (thin-skin, of course)? Well, the attitude of the HRT appointees (all female) was that all men are pigs and worse than that, they are already guilty of promoting swine-ish behaviour all the time everywhere they go. I saw no future for the likes of me there. Oink. Furthermore, no woman should have to suffer that kind of humiliation at work and a stiff fine is the only recourse for correcting that quasi-criminal behaviour. An apology was simply not good enough!

I just felt the process was riddled with bias and lacked humanity, perspective, tolerance and balance. I was NOT defending the man’s actions but I could not extract more penance than an apology and removal of the screensaver. And that was simply not good enough!

Mind you, in case you don’t say it, I will, “Dave! You are male! Maybe you are biased?” And that comment would be fair. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe being male is synonymous with porcine. But, you see, it is impossible to be both male and female (well, for me, anyway. Others these days seem to be making a go of it) and so I openly confess to a bias (and try to make sure the bias does not influence my logic or my overall humanity).

That kind of disproportionate kangaroo justice (in my opinion) has prevailed and grown since then. I must (out of self preservation) restate with volume that I know that sexual harassment has been a curse for women for years. I understand that and I sympathize. Corrections were needed. I also understand that it was worse back in the bad old days and, tho still somewhat prevalent, it seems much less these days. HUGE improvements……

....mind you, studies also indicate that penises are shrinking and sperm count is down…..jus’ sayin’...

Put more bluntly: women used to only file charges against rapists. Now they are getting men fired for flirting. The severity of the crime has dropped but the deep-rooted anger and vengeance seems escalated.

Seems Andrew Cuomo used to allude to or suggest sexy things at his office now and again – even once attempting to massage some woman’s shoulders – and it made some women in that office feel uncomfortable. Again with the bottom line: he shouldn’t have done that.

But, he did. Men tend to do that kind of thing as a logical extrapolation of the old saying, “Faint heart n’er won fair maid”. That will change over time, I suppose. Some. But no one got hurt if we do not count ‘discomfort’. No one was forced or coerced in any way. Now the governor of New York is being pressured to resign?! That’s just a stupid over reaction to me. Politics.

He is getting threatened with a de facto life sentence for a misdemeanor. Maybe he offers a sincere apology, instead? Maybe he just promises never to do that again? Maybe the people vote him out of office next election? Does he have to be dragged through the media mud and forced to resign? Does he have to hide in shame? Do all men have to ‘behave’ as dictated by some women?

Bear in mind a lot of couples (happily married for decades) met at work. Some couples in the same workplace even made attempts at lasting relationships that did not work out – heart break resulted and feelings might have been hurt. Some may have even heard naughty stuff and/or danced naked with a lampshade on their head at the staff Xmas party. There is a huge area of all-too-human inter-staff relationships that is going to happen at work no matter what. Tolerance and understanding is needed.

The biggest irony in all of this is if a guy hits on a girl and she is pleased with that attention, it is quietly deemed OK, no one lights their hair on fire and jobs are safe. But, if a guy hits on a girl and she doesn’t find him worthy or is not in the least amused, he then has to resign? If the man is supposed to have all that incredible power, how could that possibly happen? Answer: most men do NOT have all that incredible power – NOT anymore. And most NEVER did.

“Flirting should not happen at the workplace!” Yeah. I know. And I almost agree…kinda…but what about mutual attraction and one of the basic reasons for living – i.e finding a mate? Are we to assume that the primal man or woman has to be expunged from society because some women or men are so thin-skinned about another’s initial advances? And how is anyone to know where the desire-of-their-heart stands on the possible relationship unless they express their own desire out loud? Doesn’t someone have to take the first ego-threatening chance?

And this blog is just about romance and sexualized behaviour at work. What a topic that has become! There is so much more. I do not really want to go there. Honest. NOT REALLY. But, for evil to be done…..

*I may be a fool but I am NOT stupid! Of course the content of this blog was vetted and pre-approved by Sally, she-of-a-thicker-skin, larger brain and warm heart.

It’s been awhile….

…we’ve been busy. We have been getting in the wood.

As readers know, we first catch wayward logs floating by in the sea and corral ’em in the lagoon out back. Then we sort and cut ’em to length based primarily on weight. Our winch won’t pull up much more than 400 pounds so I guess at the weight of the log, cut it and leave it there for Sal to hog-tie or ‘choke’. Then I go back up the hill, about 125 feet up and at a 30 degree angle. I send down the highline and, on that line is chain-hoist. It used to be a block and tackle but a chain-hoist is easier for Sal and she has developed quite an efficient technique now that she is used to it. After she gets the hoist, she hooks on a ‘choked’ log and lifts it up in the air. It usually hangs about five feet off the ground. Then, when the log is in the air or at least mostly off the ground, I haul it up with the Honda powered winch. When the log has been lifted up the hill I lower it, disconnect it, drag it by brute force off to the side and send the whole hoist and choke assembly back down the hill to Sal where she awaits with the next log ready and already wearing a ‘choke’ (a nylon belt).

It is not the hardest chore in the world but it takes time, it requires strength and it can get dangerous. Well, it is always a bit dangerous but sometimes it is a smidge scary-dangerous and almost every time it is my fault. If I guess wrong on the log’s weight, the winch stalls out about half way up. When that happens, Sal climbs up, lowers the log and disconnects it – wherever it is. That’s right…she disconnects a 400+ pound log on a 30 degree slope. As a rule, they usually don’t just sit primly on the hill where they are dropped either. They kinda want to settle in where they want to settle in so the ‘release’ can be a bit dicey.

Once, when we were first starting out in years one or two, Sal had to do just that and yelled to me to ‘Drop the tension.” So, I did. While I turned my back to operate the machinery, Sal had (inexplicably) straddled the recalcitrant and heavy log like a cowgirl and, next thing you know, she is sliding backwards downhill with the log slowly rolling over her. She just disappeared under it as it rolled her into a bush and then, like a giant rolling pin, it just kept on going down hill. Sal lay upside down in the bush looking a bit flat.

“You OK?”

“Oh yeah. The bush cushioned the weight. I am fine. Bit scary, though!”

We try to be careful but the lagoon is all slippery rocks, the logs are always all akimbo and also (*six words in a row all starting with the letter ‘a’, eh?) slippery to some extent and they are all lying like the game of pick-up-sticks only writ very large.

Today I went down to cut a big log with a tiny battery-powered chainsaw (my new more powerful one is coming Friday). This little one has a 12 inch bar. The log was about 15″ thick. The little saw worked hard and I used up half the battery on that one cut but we got ‘er done. Problem was the log was also quite jammed on the rocks. Lots of heavy lifting, rolling and jockeying to get at the cut and get it over to the chain hoist. I probably cut from three different sides of the round log and it took forever. As it turned out, that log was cut to within five pounds of the winch limit. It just barely made it up.

We now have about three years of wood given ‘normal winters’. Abnormal can be so defined if we go away like snowbirds are inclined to do. That will save wood. It can also apply if we stay home and it is extra cold for a longer time (like this year). That will double consumption. We may get four years, we may only get two. Still, a pile of drying wood is like money in the bank.

I need…..

…..a new chainsaw. My old Jonsared (the company is no longer in operation, it seems) was a smaller powered 45cc with a 16″ bar. Model 2145. It was pretty good. I liked it. To be fair, it was a smidge underpowered and I kinda wanted 50cc or even 55cc but, well, I didn’t have it so I just ‘worked’ the smaller unit a smidge harder. Still, it lasted 17 years. The upside of a 2145 is that it is relatively light (about 12 pounds) and it is amazing how heavy even that begins to feel after an hour or so of continuously risking blood loss on a remote beach somewhere.

The other day, I had been working it down at the lagoon and stopped it to move around a log I was working on and, when I went to pull-start it up (usually instantly), I heard a clunk and nothing would move after that. It felt like the piston came off the wrist pin and seized. Of course, no one can tell that simply by pulling on a cord but that was what came to mind – ‘Engine went, I think it is the wristpin’.

Sal said, “Yeah, sounded like that to me, too!”

Chainsawing logs strewn higgledy-piggledy over treacherous slimy-boulders-on-the-beach is not my idea of fun at the best of times and so the engine seizing was OK with me. Good excuse to quit doing that. Expensive, to be sure, but so is a leg or arm replacement. I took it as a sign to start taking care of myself and went in for tea and a cookie.

Since then I have been ‘shopping online’ for a new chainsaw. I am thinking of a Stihl 50cc or a Stihl 55cc. There’s a MS271 called a Ranch Boss or something silly that has good reviews and, as I get older, 50cc feels powerful enough…but..but….well, I think I want the MS 291 at 55cc and a man wants what a man wants, ya know?

Is this a big deal? No. Buying a chainsaw should NOT be a big deal but you would probably NOT be surprised to learn that one is judged a bit by their chainsaw choices out here. Like one’s outboard choices, ya know (I am happy to be in the Yamaha cohort now).

To be fair, you are more likely to be judged by the size and shape of the sawdust your chainsaw spews (that is how guys know what kind of a chainsaw sharpener you are and that is a skill with a huge status metric and not one to be ignored) but the saw itself is a close second. Big engines and long bars are signs of manliness. So are big scars and so there is an off-setting influence there, too. Fear and ego. Fear has always influenced me. Ego is beginning to wane.

There is a grim deliberation at play here…..just how long and rosy is my chainsawing future, anyway? Do I have to buy for the 15 year rule? Will I be chainsawing at 88? Maybe buying a good chainsaw is not the best investment……long term….ya know? In fact, maybe getting a good, newer, sharper, more powerful chainsaw is the very reason I never get to the grand old age of 88?

I wonder if Hasbro makes a nice light, cheap and safe chainsaw?

It is embarrassing to claim….

….that this blog is a form of media. You know, social media?

It is, of course, but the implication of such a claim suggests that people read it and the blog has some kind of ‘influence’. Wrong. People do not read it very much (trust me. I see the stats) and, regarding those that do read it, I do not think for a minute that what they read is influential to them… least not politically, culturally, spiritually or intellectually. The blog is, basically, entertainment and is, perhaps, a bit revealing now and then of a personal slice of a micro-culture (life OTG).

Very small frog, very small pond, making no real noise about nothing much at all. I get that. It’s OK.

But, in a way, it is important to realize that even a small distraction like my blog eats up a piece of the reader’s attention….even if the content is so light that it is forgotten immediately. ‘Ya can’t read Dave’s blog and do brain surgery at the same time.‘ The ten seconds it took to read this far is ten seconds you will never have again!

I am part of the problem.

“What problem?”

The problem is the resurrection of the BIG LIE.

But I have to back up a bit……..back in the last years of the 20th century I was on email a lot. Part of my work. And, because of that, I would be sent all the crap that was being widely distributed as well including cat videos, conspiracy theories, allegations, gossip and all sorts of misinformation and drivel. If I got 100 emails in a day, at least five were pure nonsense. I confess, I often read (watched) the email and attachment because well, out of curiosity and naivety, I guess. I saw some cats. I admit it.

But there was an emerging trend even back then. There were messages of discord and hate, lots of nasty memes about Muslims and institutions, Catholics and black people. There was a strong element of ugly being sent around as ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ and ‘news’.

They were, of course, lies. But, until that time, lies were generally hidden, subtle, or disguised in polite society. They were there in the public square but they were kinda whispered and selectively shared with perceived or potential sympathizers. BIG LIES did not have a lot of purchase back then. There was a campaign of disinformation then that was noticed but not really reacted to.

If you got some email promoting bigotry or hate and you just deleted it. No biggy.

I worked with a guy who had a friend and he had shared with her my email address. She was a bigoted, ignorant, fearful, old woman who passed on every lie making the rounds. I would sometimes Snope the content of her poison and (because she included her whole mailing list) would send out a semi-verified disclaimer to her crap. I only did it because ‘For evil to be done, good men only need do nothing’. A quick rebuttal to her audience and I was back focusing where I should. Ugly Betty was good for at least one bitter, hate-meme a week, sometimes two. Took five minutes to research and debunk and I was free until the next time.

My rebuttal had no effect on her, naturally, but maybe it influenced some on her email list. I do not know. That is not the point. The point is that her kind of dis/misinformation is what has emerged as a major force in our culture today. She was a harbinger. Today’s public square is filled with large, loud lies and misinformation and the increasing growth of general evil is the result.

Mayhem? Chaos? Armed insurrections? Hmmmm….even the spread of a disease?

Q-Anon, OAN, FOX News, Glen Beck, ex-Rush Limbaugh and the list goes on and on and on. The Liars Club. And it is growing. Nowadays we do not have lies being secreted and whispered in the dark corners of the public square but being broadcast and given some weird kind of credence. The gullible and ignorant cult believes it all! Trump says a blatant, bald-faced lie in front of millions and, it has been revealed, most of the time his followers KNOW that he is speaking at least a debated point but many know much of what he says is just total fabrication. Pure lies. But the guy still gets air-time! He gets followers. He is an influencer. He is the Prince of Lies.

Within one generation (20 years) the LIE has emerged as a powerful force in our society. Lies now seem to have credence, power and influence. How did that happen?

Partly it was because of the information explosion as a result of computers, Google and the like. So much was coming at the viewer/reader/consumer, they simply did not have the time nor the inclination to fact check everything. To be fair to them, they never previously had doubts about the veracity of the ‘message’ they were getting from their news sources either. Their lie detector was not in good tune due to lack of use. They believed the local paper, the CBC, NPR or other MSM mostly because the sources were limited and large and had history. We all relied on the news industry for the TRUTH.

But ever since Marshall McLuhan, those sources became a smidge suspect, too.

Then along came SOCIAL MEDIA and the so-called news was more quickly and easily dispersed by way of Facebook, Twitter and the ‘unverified’ content providers on every topic under the sun. Anyone could claim a piece of the stage! And they did!

It is NOT a coincidence that Fox News launched just over 20 years ago (1996). By the year 2000 it was force to be reckoned with. Fox was launched at the beginning of the age of the LIE. Fox is a parent of the BIG LIE. It is no coincidence that Donald Trump launched himself as a potential candidate for president at the same time (official date: 2000).

I noticed the lies back then. But not their power. Not their influence. I dismissed the phenomena as merely a small number of crazies like Ugly Betty. Rupert Murdoch (Fox) and Donald Trump knew in their black souls that a new highway to the hearts and minds of America had just been opened. They saw the opportunity and they went for it. We are now living in the Information and Disinformation Age and, it seems, we are bereft of the wisdom to know the difference.

Presciently timed (1998) was a book written by Scott Peck titled: People of the Lie. “People who are evil attack others instead of facing their own failures.” That book changed my life, too. It gave a glimpse into what constituted evil and how it happens. Hint: unconsciousness and ignorance are major ingredients. I highly recommend it (it is a bit odd, though–Peck is deeply religious) especially in this time of increasing lies.

17 years

In June, we can celebrate 17 years of living OTG. That is a fascinating number to me…..I have never lived anywhere as long or longer than this. Our cul-de-sac existence was the previous record holder and was only 14 years in duration. When we lived on our various boats, that was only for a total of 11 years (three different boats, several marinas, trips abroad separating each liveaboard session) over a span of about 15 years (short term apartments interspersed).

Seventeen years in one place (albeit with a lot of travel thrown in) is astonishing to me but not for the length of time, per se. The reason it is worth writing about is because it still feels new! Seriously, each day feels new and fresh and still requiring learning, adjustments, ‘doing’ and ‘being’ in the moment. Living OTG for 17 years feels like maybe 5 years and living cul de sac felt like a lifetime. Go figure.

I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised. Each day is still an adventure. How could it not be (boats on the water, forests and wildlife, projects and life-supporting duties)? But it is a surprise because 17 years snuck up on me and, even more shocking to me, time is seemingly accelerating! I got old slow but I am getting older much faster. If I live another 13 years or so (we built here using the thirty-year rule and I started when I was 56 so 86 is kind of a goal…kinda…). That would also mean I am more than half-way there.

Some goal!

Still, no complaints. None. This is good. Very good. Can we keep living out here? Of course we can keep going, we are sure of that. But we will go slower while time speeds up. So, that is kinda weird. Still, ‘keeping going’ is the goal and we will carry on with Sal doing it in fine British tradition and me doing it with frequent naps. Easy peasy.

I am reflecting on this, of course, as all older people do, contemplating the end of a life rather than the beginning of one….and that, too, is OK. But it does NOT feel like the end nor does it even feel like the beginning of the end. And the reason for that is simple – each day is still a challenge, still interesting, there is so much to do and learn about. And that is true just for merely maintaining our existence! If we wanna get really out there, we can still travel or seriously try fishing or something even hardier (like catching one!).

But not this year. This year is a year-of-more-projects and maybe some travel if Covid and my attitude permits. I am still loathe to fly and the USA is still a no-go zone. We’ll see how that works out.

Seventeen years. I think we may be locals by now…I dunno….

A remote state of mind

When you suddenly see the world a bit differently, noticeably differently, then one might describe that new view as an epiphany. But when one is immersed in that different world, and you only notice ‘differently’ when you get back to the original one, is that return feeling a reverse-epiphany? It is definitely confusion, bewilderment and/or feeling ‘out-of-whack’. Regardless of what it is called, it is also anxiety provoking. For us, anyway….

We used to dread ‘Town Day’. There was the get-up and hurry-up to get in various lines (Ferry, Costco, liquor store and the very worst line-ups at parts suppliers). There was also the clock running out while the chore list remained undone, the hemorrhaging of cash in large chunks, the sheer weight of crap jammed in the car and the logistics of all that which usually also included a doctor visit, a government office visit, accidental encounters, physical limitations, logistics and, of course, Murphy. Sometimes a Town Day felt like undertaking the invasion of the Beach at Normandy.

During our busiest of times, I regularly hit 21 to 22 stops while Sal shopped at two near-to-each-other stores. I would literally drive like a fiend getting in half my ‘calls’, then pick up Sal (laden with groceries and wine) and then we would strategically plan out the remainder of stops with her doing a slow, drive-by tuck-and-a-roll at some stores while I continued down the street to another. If you added bathroom-breaks, a grab-a-lunch, gassing up the car and petting a cute dog, we would approach 30 different stops on a busy summer day between 11:15 (when the ferry got in) until 5:30 (when the ferry took us back out to the other island). And, even then, we were not going to be done and drinking wine until around 8:00 or 9:00pm. Town days were hell.

We have largely improved a lot of that. With the house and large projects complete we have less to do, of course, and so there are less ‘parts’ stops (altho still way too many). We have delegated grocery shopping to ‘online’ and then delivered by water-taxi every two weeks. Same for pharmacy. With other members of the community all coordinating their shopping, the added delivery cost ($20.00 – sometimes less) it is actually cheaper than going into town ourselves!

Yesterday, February 23rd however, we had to do another Town day – first of 2021. We were last in town December 23rd, 2020. That’s two months! And I have achieved at least once a cheater’s version of three months (Sal went in on the second month) but I remained free for three whole months!

We figured we did 9 stops yesterday.

Bear in mind, too, that we have been Covid-isolating as well for a year. I am estimating that Sal and I ‘town-dayed’ (various versions including Victoria trips) maybe 6-7 times over the past year, yesterday maybe being the 8th. That is us engaging with the madding crowd only eight times a year and, honestly, we could get that down to four if we tried real hard (well, Sal’s hair-cut habit and fabric store attraction would keep her numbers up but I could do 4 easily). ICBC is offering us a low-mileage discount!

The point? All this isolation has altered my psyche and not much at all for the worse. I am happier with less town, more time here.

But here’s the weird part: when we left the city and then went back there within a week or so, there was no ‘difference’. It was nothing more than a ‘trip’ or, if done in the summer, a minor ‘break’ or ‘vacation’. Same-same. But, when we moved here and went back to the city say three months later, it ‘felt different’. By the time we were going back only once a year, it was like visiting a different city, it was all changing so fast, Vancouver was no longer home. It was ‘different’. By the time our visits dropped to every two or three years, going to the city was anathema to us and caused mild anxiety. Imagine that, eh? Returning to one’s home of almost fifty years was strange and caused anxiety.

I was literally amazed at how much time was wasted standing or driving in line, looking for parking, looking for addresses, waiting on meetings…..I hadn’t seen that as clearly before but, after a few years away, it seemed like the city just sucked the life out of you while you sat in traffic.

A few years after that, I noticed that my anxiety level started to increase as I approached Nanaimo! It was simply the car traffic and street signs and milling crowds but there was enough of that in Nanaimo that it felt like the BIG city! And, of course, Victoria was the same. Small cities had the same ‘Vampire effect’ as did the Big one – life draining and for no reason.

And a few years after that, Campbell River inherited the mantle of ‘big life-sucking city’ and there were enough chores, line-ups, people and confusion to also start to cause a similar anxiety level (parking is never a problem, tho).

It is truly amazing what these not-so-noticeable-at-first feelings do to you. You feel and act differently. You even think differently. I think I really am different. Now the whole world looks a giant town day and I don’t want much to do with it unless I have to.