S’oft the grid

Another beautiful day.  But cold.  Sal’s going up to the post office for the new food delivery sorting that is now happening every two weeks.  We all order one week in advance and then the BIG village order goes in by way of the net.   SaveON does the shopping and boxing, a taxi takes it to the water taxi and then it comes out a couple of days later.

The water taxi pulls up to the public wharf, dumps it all in a heap and a few of the locals (Sal and gals) ‘sort it’ back to the individual orders and put those orders in the freight shed.  Then, over the course of a few hours, the various ‘customers’ come by to pick up their order.  It is starting to work rather well.

Every week is, however, a bit different from the previous ones.  Sometimes all the items ordered get delivered in the manner one would hope.  Most times, there is a shortage of something and so the SaveON shopper makes an executive decision and the customer gets a pound of broccoli instead of the cauliflower they wanted.  Sometimes the shopper is less caring and simply deletes the item and there is nothing in it’s stead.

And sometimes, because SaveON up here was new to all this delivery-thing, or maybe  because the Virus is influencing everything, a whole bunch of screw ups can happen.  Our food coordinator may or may not complain depending but, to be fair, we knew this whole thing would take time to ‘sort out’ and so there has been general acceptance of just about everything so far.

And sometimes we screw up.  Someone orders 3 pounds of butter but the three was typed in wrong and they were put down for only one pound.  Human and computer  error all over the place.

It’s a costly business but worth it.  Especially in the time of Virus.  The taxi adds $25.00.  The water taxi is $50.00 for 150 pounds.  Our coordinator takes a small fee.  If it were just me and Sal ordering and we ordered 150 pounds of food that say, cost $300.00, our additional charge would be at least $75-80.  Or $380.00 for $300 worth of food.  But, but, but……….we did not have to go to town, we did not have to wait for a ferry or pay for one.  We did not use $30.00 worth of gas (boat and car) and we did not have to ‘do the work’ or buy lunch.

I did an analysis some time ago and, counting everything, (car maintenance, insurance, depreciation, time, labour, boat expenses and general frustration that old guys have with shopping) I figured going into town cost at least $100 whether I bought anything or not.  So, the new water-taxi-shopping is actually SAVING money despite seeming costly.

Of course, with neighbours pitching in with their orders, our coordinator makes her time worthwhile, the cost per customer drops and SaveON treats us better and better the bigger the orders become.  So, making this popular is the right thing to do and so we are all ‘talking it up’.

BUT get this!  Because the government is throwing money at virus-caused problems, they are helping to keep people isolating at home by subsidizing food deliveries!  And that means that (we have figured roughly) if they approve us (and we are more eligible than most since so many of us are seniors) we will likely pay only a 1/3 or a half of the extra costs what we paid before.  That has not yet happened and may not.  But, if it does, we have the system, we have the volunteers and we have the need.  It could be very, very good.

The biggest flaw in the program is that no one is saying out loud that they will shop and deliver booze.  Yes, wine and spirits are a legal product and the government is the purveyor but I doubt that the LCB has a designated shopper and, even if they did, they are kinda set in their ways and so making that popular with LCB staff would be tough.  So far, booze is not on the menu.

So, there you go…..a little more ‘daily life OTG’ to contemplate.  Pretty damn civilized if you ask me.  I recall not too long ago (15 years) fetching water from the stream in buckets, showering with sun-warmed plastic bag water and cooking on a Coleman stove.  A bucket in the bushes served as a toilet.  And all day was spent in hard labour.

We are spoiled rotten now.

PS. Sal’s back. Seems this week was $1700.00 worth of food. That represents about a dozen orders. Ours was, once again, one of them. It took three women about 90 minutes to do the sorting and re-boxing. And, of course, no one got everything they ordered save one lone bachelor who tried the service for the first time. He got all he ordered. One box. We missed out on paper towels and bleach but we got three boxes. At this rate, we’ll probably average 15 customers every two weeks pretty soon and that represents a lot of saved town-trips.

Sacrifices

I got up this morning committed to going to Vancouver and returning the moho.  Convinced it was the right thing to do.  Then I read the morning news and found myself ‘changing my mind’….maybe.  Dunno.  Decision-making is made more difficult in the time of Virus.  One minute you are brave and determined and the next you are quaking in your slippers.  Well, Sal is, anyway.  “I dunno.  I am changing my mind.  I am not sure.  Kinda thinking that, if it is not life and death, why make it so?”

Neither of us think it is REALLY life or death but the news is increasingly bad.  Every day is worse.  The warnings increasingly prominent.

Do I really need this hassle? 

There are counterpoints, of course.  The moho has to goho sometime.  What makes anyone think next month will be any better?  Could be worse in April and May.  Hell, they may even cancel the ferries altogether at some point and then that window will be shut.  At least for awhile.  Maybe we should just get going while the going is still possible?

The irony is that we are not afraid of C-19.  I mean, of course, we are ‘respecting it and what it can do‘ but, for the trip we have in mind, we think we can go in, get out and NOT be anywhere near anyone.  Touching nothing but credit cards and gas pumps.  At all.

“What would you do if you were on the road and you saw a naked woman walking alone, obviously in some kind of trouble?”

“I’d slow down and throw her a towel.” 

“Really?  That’s it?  Do we even have a towel in the car?  And wouldn’t you feel that she needed help?”

“Oh, yeah.  She needs help alright ’cause I ain’t stopping.  She might have C-19.” 

“OK….she also has a naked child with her…..you gonna stop then?”

“Nope.  Only have one towel.” 

C-19 is changing us, it seems.  Well, Sal, anyway.  She’d keep driving.  I’d stop for a naked woman even in an Ebola epidemic but that’s just me.  I am kinda noble that way.  I’d ask her to put a towel over her head, maybe….for safety reasons, of course.  “Breathe into the towel, OK?  Stick your head out the window, maybe?  No, no need to thank me.  Just lean out the window.  I am fine with this.  It’s my duty.”

 

 

Risky business

We may risk it….and go to town.  Not ‘little town’ but the Big Smoke.  Vancouver.  Yeah, you read that right: Dave and Sally may go to Vancouver in the time of Virus thus proving, once and for all, they are not quite right in the head.

“Why would you do that?”

Well, the moho is not ours and some of my buddy’s children are unexpectedly returning to the family home and he could use the ‘room’.  So, ‘doing the right thing’ is part of it.  But the other part is that this might just be the safest time to travel – you know, when they say ‘Don’t travel’?

No one is out there right now.  The ferries are running half empty and no one is getting out of their cars.  That means we should be able to get all the way to Buddy and back and NOT have to interact with anyone save for a credit card transaction or two.

Sal will bring sandwiches and a large thermos of tea.

Armed only with tea and sandwiches the seniors braved their way towards the eerily deserted urban jungle……… 

Of course nothing ever goes as planned.  And unexpected things usually involve other people and well, we are very likely riding to our doom.  Still, one has to do what one has to do, right?

Into the gaping maw of the ship of death drove the two seniors……

The real challenge is staying overnight.  Doing a full turn-around in one day is difficult, exhausting and just a smidge rude to Buddy so staying over night is ‘proper behaviour’.

No one knew it at the time but little Timmy was a super carrier…….

The moho has bad tires.  That does not portend well.

They knew it was a bad part of town.  But it was the shortest route.  The sound of a tire blowing out was the last thing they needed…..

‘Course, if you get a flat tire in the big Ugly, they will likely fine you if not arrest you.  And, if the authorities don’t screw up your day, you might just have to deal with a gang of diseased squeegee-zombies trying to spread Covid-19 on your windshield.  It can be a bit harrowing in skid row in the time of plague.

One coughing, hacking, diarrhea-splattered street person grabbed the mirror of the moho and would not let go.  He kept licking the outside of the vehicle despite the old man veering from side to side and getting the big behemoth beyond the speed limit.  The virulent street-limpet was laughing hysterically as he hurtled toward certain injury.  The screaming sound was coming from Sally.

“We have to go back.  I parked the Pathy behind you.  It’s still back there!”

“OK.  I’ll turn back but I cannot stop.  You are gonna have to do a tuck and a roll.  Careful of your knee.  Are you armed?

“I have a thermos?”

“That will have to do.  Good luck.”

 

 

 

Doesn’t take much……

Health personnel are working overtime.  Most of us are not.  Most of us are self isolating. That microcosm of dynamic ‘imbalance’ alone is worth noting and, guess what, that example is just a change that will be repeated to some degree in everything.

Of course, some folks are ‘essential’ support workers and they are staffing food stores and keeping the lights on.  Financially, they are much the same.  Some are not-quite-so-essential and they have had their hours cut back – such as the BC ferry system which is running fewer ferries.  That changes their lives somewhat, too.  And the list goes on.  Front-line workers, essential support workers, part-timers….all of them are adjusting to the C-19 virus.  Basically that just means the work-force is a’changing a bit more and unpredictably than it usually does. 

Is it changing permanently?  Or just for awhile?

Methinks it will never be the same again.  I don’t see how it can.  Firstly, there is the simple fact that a lot of small businesses are operating marginally at the best of times.  This interruption will take them out of the game.  Secondly, larger ‘distributors’ like Amazon and Costco and the ‘big box’ stores will garner a larger amount again of the existing market but that market is already a flat or shrinking one.  Wages will drop – those are low-skill jobs and there will be plenty of applicants.

Somewhat viable mom-and-pop alternatives will crash, too.  Less disposable income around.  Quilting supplies shops may be an exception. Thirdly, a lot of companies will use this disease to ‘get rid of the dead wood’ and will simply not hire back all of their staff.  More poor.  More homeless.  More demand for government services.   Only the public service numbers will remain steady.  Everyone else will be ‘tightening belts, cutting back and streamlining’ in whatever way they can.  Taxes will increase but the cow is already pretty dry.  Government debt will increase.  The Canadian dollar will fall.  Imported goods will increase in price.

Delivery services will also increase.  UPS to taxis, pizza delivery to food delivery.  NetFlix.  Amazon.  Costco/Home Depot delivery.  More transactions will be done ‘online’.  Those transactions done in person will be faster (I hope).  And air travel will fall out of the sky.  Air freight will increase.  Fuel prices may remain low because fewer people are driving.

“How can I profit from this disaster?”

You can’t.  Not in a larger sense, anyway.  You may decide to invest in electric delivery van production and see your shares go up but there will be fewer and fewer people willing to take on huge mortgages as so many around them default from lack of income.  Your real estate equity will go down.  Even if your real estate holdings continue to tread water (we still attract immigrants), the falling Canadian dollar makes that value internationally less.  You might win on the one hand, but you’ll lose more on the other.  This is a disease that sinks all boats. Eventually.

‘But you wrote in a blog that it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good!” 

And that is still true.  Some guy owns a mask-making company.  He’ll do well.  GoJo owns Purelle.  They are going gangbusters.  Money is being shoveled into Health Care – even hospital cleaning staff are getting overtime.  There are industries that will do well in a crisis.  But even they ‘flatten out’ after the crisis has passed and there is no guarantee that the next crisis will be so needy of hand-cleaner.  Even the winners will have to adjust later.

“So, what are you saying?”

I am saying C-19 is a game changer and the really amazing thing is that it is NOT as deadly to humankind as is even traffic or ordinary flu.  Not by the numbers.  Not yet, anyway.  Still, C-19 changes everything.  What this disease has demonstrated is just how unstable and teetering is our house-of-money and our society.  Although, to be fair, we do not yet have roving gangs of zombies so society is remaining more or less civilized so far.

We got a really bad cold and it has fundamentally changed us and I think it will fundamentally change the way ‘things are done’ forever.

Be careful out there, it is more dangerous than you think

A commercial enterprise recently inquired as to my interest in writing for them.  And I confess that I DID have a bit of interest.  It’s more ego-based than money-based but still, I could use an income supplement now and then.  Scotch ain’t free.  A new Rivian pick-up truck ain’t cheap.  So, I replied with a tentative yes depending on what was needed.  It seems what is needed is a formulaic 1000 words and the pay is pathetic.  So, I declined.

But, in order for me to know this, the copy publisher sent me a few ‘typical articles’.  And that was an eye-opener.  Not only were all the so-called articles crafted within the same structure, they were not articles at all.  They were all advertisements masquerading as ‘fact-based’ articles.  One was titled, “The Top Five Projectors for 2019.”

Very oddly, the first article I read was clearly written by an ESL writer.  I admire the effort but the content was grammatically abysmal.  The content was just trite phrases and cliches.  It was beyond shallow.  It was empty.  It was a hollow ‘nothing’ touting some stupid plastic+electronics product.  It was barely a cut above spam.  https://consumerguidehub.com/best-projector-under-500/

Like a noob, I always assumed that some ‘enthusiast’ who was ‘into’ videocams or vacuum cleaners or something was the writer and he or she could do that because they were given maybe ten or more items to test and put through their paces before writing a word.  That is NOT the case.  The instructions given to me were to find all the hype I needed on the advertisers websites, cut and copy it and then compile all that into an article.  No product testing, using or even holding-in-my-hand was required.  In fact, no knowledge of anything but plagiarism was required.  It was 100% a theft of other’s words barely massaged into something quasi-original.

It was fake news.

Now, I tend to read voraciously.  I like to learn.  But I have just been exposed to the peripheral edges of the latest and ever-growing-larger fake news industry.  Of course, we all know that advertisement copy is exaggerated at best and likely not true in oh-so-many ways.  But bona fide advertisements usually have an obvious bias, the word advertisement at the top and then a bunch of logos and crap at the bottom to indicate the company doing the promotion. The reader usually KNOWS when they are reading an advertisement.

When you read an article from Consumer Reports, you are (at least I was) inclined to believe that they had tested those things and they were reporting their findings.  And that still might be true for Consumer Reports.  But, clearly, that model, that style, that genre of a so-called ‘news’ article is now being copied and repeated to create the impression of a critical, fact-based review of a product and that the writer has some expertise.  And that impression is a lie.

I have a blog section above on products I pan or endorse as a result of some personal experience with it.  I haven’t added much to it lately because I am doing so much less and even buying fewer tools and such.  But everything written there is 100% true (from my perspective).  None of it was written for personal gain.  No one paid me.  No one pays me commissions or anything.

So the point is this: lying has spread throughout our lives like the virus it is.  It is everywhere.  We all know advertising lies.  We all know political lies.  We all know spam and other forms of lies but, if you are like me, you think there is a ‘proper source’ for vetted, fact-based information and, unless it is obviously a biased marketing piece, it is as legitimate as can be found.  I am now inclined to think otherwise.  I now think most things written for even indirect commercial purposes are lies.

I am sure there is truth out there.  But you really have to work to find it.  I have just peeled back yet another layer of lies and it shows that the bastards are getting more sophisticated and devious in their dissembling.

More and more, less and less is true.

 

This is hard….

….my thoughts are not clear.  I don’t know what I am trying to say here….bear with me…please feel to add in what is missing….send ridicule and abuse if it is stupid…..here goes:

I will start with the old saw; ‘to a hammer everything looks like a nail.’  That basically means, that a one-trick-pony can only do the one trick regardless of the request.  That means that a limited skilled person does not bring a lot of tools to the workshop nor the skills necessary to do anything with them.  And I am seeing our governments acting like a bag of hammers.

How the hell does stimulating the economy (which can’t work long term anyway) do ANYTHING to cure a disease?  Isn’t that a bit like taking a hammer to fix electronics or a knife to a gunfight?  Honestly?  A primitive shaman throwing pig entrails in to the air and chanting is at least focused on the patient.  Trump/Trudeau is ranting and throwing money at corporations and ignoring the patients.   I’d prefer the shaman if I was ill.

OK, OK.  I know that giving away money is a nice gesture even if the money they are giving away is OURS in the first place.  And I might even be convinced that some support for small business might be in order such as restaurants ORDERED to close.  I get that.  But, really…?  Why give away the taxpayers moolah when all they have to do to achieve the same thing more equitably is to suspend interest payments? The banks lose cashflow but NOT their principal and they can tack on their greedy pound of flesh later.  No money transfusions necessary.  Well, not as much money anyway.

And, with that stupid massive and misdirected expenditure off the table, the government can then put that money to where it is really required: mfg’ing of medical supplies and accelerated development of a cure.

How is giving money to an airlines gonna help anyone but airlines pay CEOs extra bonuses and banks get their financing payments?

Trump wants ‘Mericans in church and at work by Easter.  He ‘needs the money’ for the economy.  He is an idiot, of course.  The USA is well on course for being the hardest hit first world country and most damaged economy on the planet.  Why?  Because all their efforts at mitigating this problem have been directed to ‘fixing’ the economy and NOT fixing the actual citizens.  Trump is just the stupidest hammer of the bunch but all countries thinking that subsidizing business or industry is a cure for anything are equally as idiotic.

“Dave!  What about poor tenants who can’t pay their rent because Walmart laid them off?” 

My first answer (probably wrong) is that $500 towards one month’s rent isn’t gonna do much of anything.  The ‘giveaway’, if there is to be one, has to be at least at the family welfare level otherwise you are just throwing money away.  Interest suspension floats all boats!  Go all in or go back to the parliamentary cafeteria and attend a committee meeting.

This emphasis on ‘money-as-a-cure’ is not only stupid and ineffective, it exposes the essential impotence of government.  They can’t DO anything!  They can dish out money.  They can extort some of that money back in taxes and fines.  They can pass paper laws and they can and do pontificate and meet ad nauseam.

Viruses don’t care.

Viruses only care about finding new hosts.  That’s it.  Our efforts to redirect our attention from that very REAL problem by UNSUSTAINABLY stimulating the economy is an embarrassing admission that we are helpless in the face of a real and present danger and that we are led by imbeciles.

Imbeciles already awash in debt, dealing inequitably and promoting division and greed instead of community. These hammers are not only stupid, they are corrupt and evil.

Over to you:

Any critique of this blog is welcome save for the obvious ones where someone describes some poor doofus who was saved by a cheque for $500 or a story about some people who are happy with some rent abatement.  Of course some money infusions are going to help individuals.

But when you keep everyone in society on the margins of financial well-being, a few hundred bucks at the right time will make only for great human-interest fodder for the media at the very most.  Even the lucky recipient of $2000 will acknowledge that such a monetary gift does nothing for their cough and fever.  “Gimme money’ is the new mantra of the masses but it won’t cure C-19.

One more thing: Trump/Trudeau wants the stock market to rebound.  For him, the stock market is a political health indicator.  The problem is that the stock market is NOT a nation’s overall health indicator.  The market is an indicator of how the rich and elite are doing but it means nothing directly to Joe Sixpack.  Joe can’t get toilet paper.  He is not counting his Berkeshire Hathaway dividends.

So, my point: we have created a uni-dimensional government mindset.  Money, money, money.  Meet and spend money.  Later, we meet and take money.  Our governments have abandoned what used to be the greater realm of ‘government work’ and privatized as much as they could.  Now that they have streamlined their function to just that of stealing from the poor and giving to the rich, their range of powers has been severely reduced.  What can they do?  Where are the government labs?  Where is all the equipment?  Where are all the doctors, nurses and medicines?  Where is the leadership?

 

 

It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good

They shot Pablo Escobar (the original Colombian drug lord) in 1993.  His estate included a lot of exotic imported animals like hippos and giraffes.  So, they put those animals in a nature-park-like area that might serve to support them ‘on their own’ and they have flourished.  As it turns out, the hippos are GOOD for the local environment.  They do things that older, now-extinct large mammals used to do.  The area is thriving.

American farmers are frustrated and angry at the explosion in wild boar populations.  Wild boars ‘root’ out their food and they prefer to do so on extra tasty farms.  But, as it turns out, if the boars root and charge around out in the wilderness, the trees and other wild flora benefit a great deal.  Bears and pigs pooping in the woods are a good thing, it seems.  And extra boars means extra boar poop.  Win win.

Looking for the silver lining in Coronavirus is a lot harder.  In fact, with the exception of a few (not enough) GOP senators getting it, it has been all bad news.  But, as it turns out,  not for a number of criminals who see the virus as a ticket out of jail.  My buddy just drove up from LA.  He said it was practically a ghost town.  When he stopped to get gas, the attendant warned him to “Keep moving, man.  LA ain’t safe.  They just released all the inmates from the prisons!  All hell’s gonna break loose!”

He drove straight through.  Stopped only for gas.  Felt a strong sense of relief crossing the border. A lot of returning Canadians feel the same way.  And I know a lot of Americans would prefer to be here, too.  A lot of guns are ready-at-hand in the states.  A lot of armed-to-the-teeth ‘Mericans are angry and fearful.  Now a lot of criminals are free……that combination suggests more bad news.  I hope not.

But there is no question that silver linings are common in storm clouds.  Sal and I could not have had a better winter (in the aggregate) considering what came out of it all.  Yes, there were the clouds, i.e. the surgery, the flu, the trapped-in-a-moho feeling……but, but, but…Sal got a genius doctor at knee ops, she is healing very well, all hospitals are virtually shut down now so she got in before the closures.  Getting the flu kept us home so – guess what – we didn’t GET C-19!  The ‘downtime’ in town was put to some good use.  Some things still got done.  Basically speaking, the horror-show of February and March turned out pretty damn good.

I dunno….I think I would still prefer to get some hippos and wild boar up here but, in the circumstances, I’ll settle for a miracle knee replacement, needed car repairs and living in splendid isolation in paradise.  But with a few great friends.  It really does NOT get any better.