I bought a little diesel heater….

…..the heater is a 5KW Vevor. It’s about the size of a thick briefcase. It’s a Chinese knock-off of the hugely-more expensive Wabasto or Espar German-made units that have been around forever. The Vevor cost Can$ 200.00. Espar is C$1400. According to You-Tube, the Chinese knock-offs work just fine. It appeals to me because they (YT) also claim the units will burn just about any kind of oil including waste oil. They will even burn imprecise ‘mixes’ of oils.

So, I can use up some old kerosene, add in some waste engine oil from a genset or outboard oil change, mix in some diesel and, when in town, pick up 5 gallons of home heating oil. I can throw the whole mess in one barrel, give it a shake and a stir and whatever the new mix is, it will burn.

That’s good. Recycling oil is impossible now. We used to have an oil recapture tank ten miles away but the Feds decided collecting waste oil was too much trouble for them so they took it out. That would be a Transport Canada decision. That was NOT Environment Canada nor was it Fisheries and Oceans Canada. I am not sure they talk much amongst themselves.

To be fair, the locals recycle old oil the smart way, anyway. I had just bought a gallon of chainsaw bar oil one day when a neighbour said, “What the hell, man! Don’t buy that crap. Use your old engine oil. It will lubricate a chainsaw just fine!” I only have to be yelled at once. So I switched to ‘dirty’ oil on the chain lube and I now recycle by spraying a fine mist of dirty oil instead of new expensive red-coloured oil all over my firewood.

“Dave, why would you need a small diesel heater?”

I didn’t used to need one. Well, maybe I did but I kinda lucked out for 18 years with either mild winters or cold ones that had me fly away to southern climes. I endured a few cold winters but the worst would inflict only a one or two day cold snap (below freezing) and my exposed house plumbing was at risk. I used heat tapes to save it. And that sufficed for a long time.

Now? Not so much. Several factors have changed. Firstly, we ain’t flying south. We ain’t driving south, either. We’ve been staying put. The wanderlust is still alive albeit not as intense as when we were younger. Plus we have dogs! But the main reason is fear and loathing. Loathing for anything immediately south – hard to visit the US these days. And we have a fear or, at least an aversion to flying. Not keen on Covid and foreign countries in turmoil either.

That last one is not really a big problem. Countries have been in turmoil my whole life. I still go. Only Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador have really been scary and only El Salvador was scary enough to get out and get out NOW! So, it is really more of a function of hating airports, red tape, Covid and all the restrictions and now the extra distance involved having to go further by air. Those 16 hour flights accompanied by 4 hour lay-overs, two hour waits and lost luggage have diminished the appeal, ya know?

But, I digress…..the heater is for the new under-house insulated plumbing mechanical room I plan to construct this summer (only two winters late). I intend to make the plumbing freeze proof by heating the whole system for as long as a cold snap prevails. This year we had ten days of below freezing and this winter is not over. We expect a few more cold days starting tomorrow.

If climate change means what it seems to be meaning, I have to change, too. I am going to have to address making some ‘accommodation’ for it all. And NOT just winter. We may have to make some heat-tempering adjustments for future summers as well.

Nomenclature….we might need us some of that…..

As of this writing, there have been 37 mass shootings in the USA so far this year (according to the Gun Violence Archive – https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting). That translates into 62 dead three weeks into the new year, all by mass shootings. Almost 3 people a day. And there were also 159 wounded. Those are some crazy numbers…..

…..but they get crazier. The definition of a ‘mass shooting’ requires at least four people be shot and those numbers do not count the shooter who is often killed or wounded by police or by their own hand. Those numbers also do not include shooters who just shoot their spouse, friend, neighbour or co-worker so long as it is three victims or less. It does not count all the accidental shootings which number approximately 500 per year nor does it count the approximately 1200 people killed by police….in the line of duty, of course.

Mass shootings have become a category of social disorder all their own.

Bigotry, prejudice, discrimination and even genocide, of course, have a long history. They are mass social disorders, too. I will not attempt to present numbers but that is a major disfunction that has never been adequately addressed – hell, some societies and cultures still argue whether or not a mass killing qualifies as a genocide.

And we have modern social media disorders now. They have not yet been formally named. There are a lot of them from sexual predators to cons and scams, from lying news sources and propaganda to the simple liar on their dating site. Digital dysfunction writ large…but not in detail. This ugliness can get pretty sophisticated.

I.e. Lately, some You-tube (YT) channels are being dropped or ‘sabotaged’ off the air. The hosts are not saying why (not yet, anyway) but they imply it is a ‘hacker’ of sorts that has messed with the YT algorithm. David Pakman, for instance, has 1.6 million subscribers but is no longer ‘presented’ by YT as a suggestion and one has to go looking for his channel now. He is one of the few speaking out…why? Because he draws a lot of right-wing MAGA heat for his left-ish-but-factual broadcasts. He has been threatened. He suspects he is a target of right wing hacker politics but has no proof. He is being ‘somethinged’ nefariously on social media…somehow….in some way…..

The list of social aberrations, increased violence and hate of ‘others’, designer drugs increasingly lethal and the growing paranoia and anxiety people have of their cities and towns is all frightening enough in itself. Toss in mass migrations, homelessness, van-living, the internet and the increasing lack of respect for our government, institutions and civil servants and one might…maybe…kinda….think that there is a weird kind of revolution or even a war going on.

Maybe.

What I am saying is this: We might, at least, need to put a name to the at-large madness and all the little madnesses that go with it.

So many biological/medical diseases/disorders do not really have some fancy, intellectual Greek or latin-based name like Cancer, Polio or Diabetes. They are instead named by their symptoms. We have ALS, MSA, abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute cholecystitis, benign prostate enlargement, etc. The list is longer than the Greek-latin one. In fact, the World Health Organization now considers it ‘best practice’ to name diseases by their symptoms.

It might be time to apply that kind of thinking (naming) to what is emerging as a kind of mass social dysfunction (MSD) or psycho-socio political alienation (PSPA) or even social order atrophy (SOA). If, in fact, all the smaller social dysfunctions, disorders and psychosis are all somehow related wouldn’t it be helpful to capture it all with the right nomenclature?

I mean: is Armageddon, Apocalypse (both Greek) or Doomsday (old English) the best we can do?

Jus’ sayin’……

I am not a conspiracy theorist…..but….

….face it, the GOP/Republicans are, in effect, rebelling causing insurrection, polarization and doing so like a cult enthralled. Could there possibly be an understandable theory, motive or plan behind all that?

Everyone, I think, tries to understand phenomena (especially politics and corporations) by ‘analyzing’ the results in retrospect and assuming there was a logical sequence of events orchestrated by someone or a group of someones to achieve that end result. We conveniently set aside the regular occurrences of Murphy, luck, external forces that no one could have foreseen and, of course, the very common phenomena of unintended consequences when we do that. We also conveniently ignore the power of the status quo, ennui, lethargy, apathy and the inertia of the people. I.e – look at the slow response to life-threatening Climate Change – if there really has been one!

And then there is the basic active resistance, opposition and counter forces to just about everything in life. Plot to overthrow the government and you will likely be thwarted by SURPRISE! the very government you intended to overthrow. Resistance may be futile but it is omnipresent…i.e – any parent with teenagers knows this inevitable force of nature.

There are a lot of dynamics involved in changing the direction of anything (for good or evil) and all the conspiracy theorists in the world seem to forget that mankind cannot even keep the trains, planes and buses running on time, let alone schools, hospitals and government services.

When you really think about it, a conspiracy theorist is an optimist, a person who thinks change happens quickly, relatively easily and as planned.

On the other hand, everything starts with a thought. Every idea, every theory, every philosophy is made up of thoughts. Genesis starts in the mind. It may not end well (as stated above) but all things start with thought and that includes dreams, goals and the hard-to-come-by.

Still, some revolutions worked. Some inventions worked. Some new businesses work. Some conspiracy theories….? Maybe some of them worked, too…..maybe….somewhat…

Which brings me (finally) to my point: the currently and obviously underway MAGA/GOP destruction/undermining of democracy as a functioning managerial system. Is that really a planned exercise? Or is it just a Murphy/Trump led chaos and an accident of the times? George Santos, a clown-liar of biblical proportions….? Is he just the accident of a mindless populace? Or was even he somehow chosen by design? Who would pick a George Santos? And why?

Being a person with less faith in planning and a bit too much faith in ‘just winging it’, a man who does not believe in any one rule fitting all because we are all so different, a guy who simply cannot live one day the exact same way as the next due to a revulsion of routine, I tend to think natural chaos rules the world and thank God it is a relatively benign and harmless chaos-theory butterfly in the Amazon doing everything most of the time.

And sometimes, like I did, you might even win the lottery..(Sal, life OTG, great kids, good friends, great dogs, good health…my lottery win-package just goes on and on).

But, still, one has to think about the ‘maybe’…….what or who could possibly be behind a conspiracy to destroy the very foundation of a modern society and coming from within that same and rather successful society? What is the positive there? What is to be gained by a plan intended to destroy the very Constitution/Declaration of Independence that attempted to free the people and give more equality to all (at least on paper)? And why would the people themselves support a plan intended to destroy them?

Surprisingly, there is a logical answer to that. Logical but immoral, evil, dastardly and everything opposite to the values expressed in the Constitution/Declaration but still, there is a Machiavellian logic that gives an answer….

….but first, a tiny step back in history. For eons, mankind has been herded, managed and controlled by an ‘elite’. And ‘elite’ is very closely associated with wealth and power (even when it was a religious elite or a big-man village bully). Like prides of lions, packs of wolves and even herds of elephants some emerge as leaders and the rest of the group just follows.

In humanity’s case, that elitist leadership amassed wealth and power and controlled the rules and systems. The rest of the plebes were slaves and labourers. And the elites were happy. If any of the plebeians were not accepting of that form of order, they were killed, tortured, incarcerated, enslaved, segregated, impoverished or otherwise thrown out with the garbage. There was order. The rich were safe and in control.

I won’t bore you with much more of what you already know but suffice to say, the common masses are, today, still controlled by the rich if in no other way than the cost of living imposed by the system ‘they’ run and the simple fact that most people who want a home and food to eat are indentured into servitude (the workforce) for their convenient 20/25/30 mortgage-paying years so as to pay off that home. Even more control is exerted by the police and justice system, education, health care and credit/banking ‘costs’ and penalties.

Prior to WW2 most people, despite the equal-opportunity rhetoric of the American Constitution/Declaration of Independence, were poor, rural and wholly without power. After WW2, with the rise in American prosperity and industry, the middle class gained a voice, some power and – EGADS! – they did it by actually using the bloody constitution. “The bastards are voting in droves!” The middle class began to influence things from wars (Vietnam) to consumer items (cars, TVs, etc) to equal rights and civil rights and social justice……..worse, democracy started to spread around the world.

The rich elites were NOT amused. “Just who do these bloody people think they are?”

And so the rich began to claw back their elitism. And, again, I won’t bore you with all the ways in which they did it but it first showed up as Regan and Thatcher, it showed up as the assassination of MLK and the Kennedy’s, it showed up as Newt Gingrich (Roger Stone, Lee Atwater, Jack Kemp, Karl Rove and also a young GW Bush made a big push in the 80’s and 90’s) together with all the other dirty tricksters, more military-like use-of-force policing, the War on Drugs, cultural and racial polarization and the rise of ‘branding’ and celebrity. And it all showed up as accelerated and increased wealth and power for the elite, connected and privileged.

Therein lay the ‘ingredients’ for a conspiracy……and there was even more…..

“Ya know, George…the real problem here is some deadbeat bastard’s vote has the same weight as mine! I went to Harvard! That is simply not right. Who dreamed up this democracy crap, anyway?”

Put bluntly: There is also the motive writ large. The wealthy elites do not want equality. They do not like ‘voters’. Why would they want to share power with the stupid, poor, multi-hued people? Indentured servitude of the masses worked well for them in the past….it always has done….so there is a collective willingness to ‘let’s go back to that’. “Let’s go get that authoritarian power back!”

Does that, in itself, constitute a conspiracy? I do not know. Just because you have the appetite, the ingredients and the old tried and true recipe does not mean you are cooking and dinner will soon be served. Or does it? Even with the facts of a well financed Fox News, Roger Stone, Trump and the Proud Boys playing the script out right in front of our eyes – does that mean the game is well and truly afoot?

Or is it just an ugly, primitive, bred-in-the-bone idea and inclination revisiting us once again?

Mud, mud…glorious mud

Truck-in-ditch is now truck-out-of-ditch. Four hours of mudslinging and chainsawing and Sal and I got the truck out. Drove it out. Mostly, kinda….

To be fair, Chris (a neighbour) was going by just as we were plucking up the courage to TRY driving it out and he slung a tow rope on, too. So, he drove, we drove and we all drove out and onto the road together very nicely. Would we have made it without Chris? I think so but, if I was wrong, we’d be back in mud-hole #1 again. Stuck like pigs.

Basically, the ditch was deep, gluey and the mudder of all muds. Every time I got in, I could not get out. I just kept sinking. So Sal ended up doing the jacking (Tinkerbelle does not sink like Shrek does) and I was doing the other stuff…chainsawing, dragging boards, rounds…you know….manly stuff.

But, again to be fair, ol’ Sal was lying in the mud and squeezing under the car to find the jack-points (or a strong part) under which to place the jacks. I’d bring her wood for the jack to have a ‘footing’ but every jacking slipped slowly down into the mud so we had to jack and jam (with planks and stuff) and then jack and jam further along…..repeat until you have a wooden road that is about 8″ higher than the mud in the ditch. Took awhile.

But by 3:00 pm (we started at 11:00 am) we were cleaning up, packing tools, ropes, chains, and wood planks home (by boat) and generally feeling a sense of accomplishment. The truck was parked in the community lot, no one got hurt. Everyone got muddy. And this is being written with a glass of plonk in one hand with a strong anticipation of dinner in the air.

Does it get any better?

Into every life a little rain must fall…or….

….Sal’s car goes into a ditch. Same thing. Really. Kinda. The rain part, for sure…

NIce sunny day yesterday, tho. Sal is at the wheel in the ‘island car’. It is full of book clubbers and casseroles. Maybe some of that Quinoa-stuff if I know them. The car is not really running properly but no one’s car runs properly on the island and, anyway, this is book club day! So, off they go. Merrily chatting away. About a block or so into it (we do not have blocks but a similar distance) the car somehow, mysteriously, inexplicably moves to the left and comes to rest in a ditch. Quel surprise!

Oh, well…..it’s off to book club NOW (another truck came along) and ‘We’ll deal with the old Previa later.”

Today was ‘later’. And today it rained. And ‘we‘ meant me and Sal and a couple of kind hearted neighbours. And the ditch was filling with water. And the van was ‘a hangin’ on the road edge with two of the wheels in the ditch, the belly of the vehicle grounded and the other two wheels a little light in the slippers. Meaning: they slipped.

All wheels slipped. It is an all-wheel drive. But it is not a self-driving vehicle.

So, we all tied ropes and slung chains, used winches and little Japanese Kei-truck 4×4’s. We looked it over, we talked it over, and we interrupted our thoughts every 30 seconds with trying to discipline everyone’s dogs. All dogs were naughty and rambunctious. Lots of canine fun. Nothing got done. Car is still in the ditch. I ‘fired’ the neighbours but promised future work.

Tomorrow I try again. And then I will try some more. It will eventually get out. I really hope it gets out in time for next month’s book club.

“So, what’s the big deal, Dave? Cars go in ditches. That’s life.”

You are right, of course. Dogs, ditches, cars, rain….it’s all a part of life. If there is a difference worthy of a blog, it is simply this: in the city, you call a tow truck, pay some money and complain later that evening to some friends over cocktails and the most scrumptious new pate’ from the local artisan’s cheese shop…you know the one? Luigi is the owner? Out here there are no shops, no pate’ and no tow trucks. Instead I have a chainsaw, a shovel, a come-a-long and some planks. I have knowledge of leverage and first aid. It’s not the same thing.

I’ll get back to you……

The Basics

Yep. Back to the basics again. The water system again. It needs some attention or, better put, we need some water.

Well, that is NOT QUITE true – we have water. The water is currently trickling into the tanks at a rate that keeps us clean and hydrated but it is not really enough to fill a swimming pool, ya know? Our cisterns do not runneth over. I figure the flow rate at about 5 – 10 gallons per hour. That’s much reduced from something usually around 30 or 40 or more.

It could just be the system in general. It’s old. It is almost twenty years old and consists primarily of a kilometer of one-inch pipe running by just gravity from an upper source to our cistern. It’s black plastic 100 foot lengths joined with barb joiners or valves. And it just lays on the ground (over the years it has kind of buried itself). Animals occasionally chew it, a tree sometimes falls on it, one time a loose boulder crushed a section. It is NOT a robust system. But it works. Mostly. Thanks to Sal.

Of course it also freezes now and again. Typically, just at a ball valve or a barb-joiner. We likely replace and refit a dozen pieces a year. The rest of the pipe seems to weather the cold better but once in a while, we’ll discover a slit-crack in the pipe that gave up so the whole of the system is vulnerable. Just the ‘hardware’ is a bit more so.

We’d been out of water for almost a month during the cold snap but our cisterns were full so we ‘let it go’. The other day, the tanks were low and Sal and the dogs went for a reconnoitre. It was not all good news. Quite a few leaks. Different kinds. Cracked valves, broken joiners, some pipe splits and even a few random holes. Sal got on ’em right away. After three short work days, she still has a few to chase down but the main culprit seems to be a large fir tree that fell in an awkward spot and on top of the pipe. The pipe could be half-crushed. I’m gonna have to go up the creek and buck it up. January. Creek. Bucking in the rain. Damn.

But that’s the basics, for ya.

And then ya got yer gasoline for the genset. We have pounded through the fuel this winter. Probably 100 gallons and still pounding. Gotta get us some more of that stuff in. But that’s OK. It’s only money and the slow killing of the planet. We can do that.

Food is good. Kinda. We got some, anyway. Should be fine. But, damn, the food ordering delivery system is just not working out like I want it to. Well, actually the system is…it is the food that is not. The produce we get is so bad that dumpster produce is better. Last bag of potatoes, the bottom half was rotten. Lettuce is limp. Always something rotten amongst the greens. They are always ‘shorting us’ on something, too. Basics are not A+ right now.

“Geez, Dave! Y’all complaining about the basics!?”

Yes and no. I got to thinking about all the basics and what that means…to us it is basically what I just wrote about, food, water, fuel. But the ‘basics’ for most folks is a bit more complicated. Schools, roads, health care, police, insurance, communications, job, income stream. Housing! I mean the modern person has a lot of ‘basics’ to take care of. We don’t. Which is good because water is enough for us to deal with right now….

But then you got your airline system crashing, insurrectionists copy-catting in Brazil, 100% lying dogs getting elected (Santos), Bomb cyclones, floods and droughts at the same time! The war in Ukraine…good ol’ Covid and relatives gathering up steam…the dissipating Health Care system, the educational system for your kids, the cost of living….not a lot is going well these days.

The basics are getting pretty big, pretty complicated and pretty out of hand these days. Hard to take care of basics when they are all basically falling apart. Water and lettuce seem like the least of the things to worry about…..so we’re good.

Bonus blog (very little written content) because one literally cannot make this crap up…..

Pertaining to: the PRESIDENT of the United States!!!! A now anachronistic term no longer demanding the respect it once did. Same category as: White House, first lady, stable genius, great, patriot, trusted, GOP and lately, Democracy.

On the heels of Trump’s NFT launch (non-fungible tokens) following his treasonous insurrection, his theft of government top secrets and constant criminal and public wrong-doing throughout his lifetime comes the perfect family legacy follow-up. Those tokens …which are digital trading cards being offered to the public…..(there are hundreds of images of Trump in fantasy costume looking heroic and less obese) – like the one below, we are now gobsmacked extra silly by his first-born son, Donald John Trump Junior who has now additionally blessed us all in the family tradition of grifting and cheating. This time the Trump name is unashamedly associated with over-priced biblical schlock and drek…….

https://opensea.io/

….you really have to see the website to believe it.

https://wethepeoplebible.com/

SHOP BLASPHEMY..………………………..’git yer red hot bibles and t-shirts while stock lasts!’

Meanwhile, the madness continues at the House of Representatives currently being held hostage for over three days by Lauren Bobert and Matt Gaetz plus 18 other Trumpist/disruptors all of whom are certifiably insane…..(that fiasco just ended on the 15th ballot)

…..including that over-the-top Newbie Rascal of the GOP, George Santos, the Brazilian fugitive who lied about everything (family, income, religion, education, resume, etc) and still got elected to the House (rep. for Long Island/Queens, New York). He gets a salary of $175,000 plus expenses plus other benefits for the successful grift. He will begin representing the ‘Merican people as soon as Lauren, Matt and friends finish up…..

The real madness of all this grotesque cartoon? Irony writ so large it is UNBELIEVABLE!!? Mr. Lying, cheating, fake Santos turns out to truly, actually, and perfectly represent at least 50% of ‘Mericans.

Weird Economics

Basically, economics is about human behaviour, especially as it pertains to the marketplace. It gets more complicated with all the other myriad influences we include or attach such as money supply, production limits, trends, interest rates and all the assorted detritus humans attach to getting their needs filled. But, it is all basically just a simple fulfillment issue run amok, if you think about it.

I mean: a bear gets hungry, walks through the woods to the river and catches a fish. Eats the fish. Then the bear poops in the forest on the way back home to his/her cave. Feedback supply chain writ simple. In effect, that is what we do when we buy a car or a house or even a salmon. We just complicate the hell out of it….even the pooping.

And I might have just about done the same. Almost…..(I like to think that I am just a smidge smarter than the average bear…..we’ll see)

I awoke from my cave one day and wondered if I needed a different car. And here goes the new ‘economic thinking’ on THAT process: My current vehicle is a sound, well-running, 2004 Nissan Pathfinder that serves our limited needs rather well. We drive little but we drive over bad, hardscrabble roads, in snow, always fully laden and with virtually no support services in case of problems. Reliability has been our key requirement and it has been rather well met now going on for twenty years (the last eight of which have been with us).

The next requirement we have of our vehicle is carrying ability. The more space the better. But we have dogs and they are still growing – and our sturdy little mid-sized SUV is not. Should I move up and out? Should I get a full-size?

Looking at say, a 2015 Nissan Armada (bigger brother to the Pathfinder and eight years old), most of the vehicles advertised already have 200,000 kms on the odometer or more. My 2004 only has 197,000 kms. So, there appears to be no advantage on an actual wear and tear comparison, largely speaking. My car ain’t worth a Tinker’s dam but the 2015 Armada example is in the $20K range so there is a lot of cost associated with a few extra cubic feet of cargo space.

Then there is the longevity factor….not the car’s so much as mine. We drive less than 5000 kms a year. The old Pathy is not even at it’s half-life. It will go another 200,000 kms rather uneventfully (with regular maintenance and a few repairs). In other words, if the car doesn’t dissolve, I could drive it for more than 40 more years! Mind you, when you are 115 it is likely one has cut back a bit on their driving so I might be able to drive it for as much as 50 more years.

Put more succinctly, my current car will outlast me. In fact, actuarially speaking, if I live to a reasonably expected age of 85...oh, hell…make it 90…..that is only 15 years or 75,000 kms! My car, at 275,000 kms is just middle-aged by that number. Me? I am compost.

So, the conclusion is that it is just bad economics to get a different car at this stage of my life. Even better, the old Pathy will likely even see Sally out a further 15 years down the line when she is 100.

The dogs are just gonna have to squeeze up a little…..

Real economic consideration factors in depreciation. The revelation for me was that, in this case (changed perspective), the depreciation is not applied to the car, it is applied to me!

‘Stralia’s tree changing

It seems there is a noticeable and growing domestic migration happening in Australia in which urbanites are relocating to smaller rural and distant communities. This phenomena is referred to as ‘tree-changing’. Typically Aus, ‘tree changing’ is a modified form of the better known phrase, a ‘sea change’ but, because everyone is moving inland from the urbanized coast, they made it a ‘tree change’.

Nomenclature aside, demographers have reported that this ‘movement’ started before Covid but definitely accelerated after the epidemic took hold. It seems the movement was originally started by degrading liveability, the high cost of living in the cities and, in particular, the high cost of housing.

They didn’t say it but I will…I think that the aging of the baby boomers added to the mix as well. We stereotypically see the city as the place for the young to grow their careers and get into the gene pool. And many of us also see spending our latter years at the cottage. So, to my way of thinking, the exodus was further spurred on by aging boomers seeking cottages. Or, to those like me, hating the same ol, same ol’ rat race. Regardless of how you put it, hitting your senior years is, for many, a catalyst for making a change.

Personally, I was a bit surprised it took so long…….I am referring to a smaller, weaker form of tree changing happening to the more desirable locations in Canada, too. New Brunswick is growing. Alberta is growing. And BC and Nova Scotia are in a continuing expansion not in the least restricted to the urban centres.

But there is a marked and measurable counter-movement to the exodus that accounts for some of that surprise. And that is the cost of living coupled with the lesser skilled labour force following behind the boomers. It seems a lot of folks who planned on retiring not only can’t afford to stop working but they are being courted and wooed to stay at their jobs longer!

I read the other day of a guy working in Walmart at the ripe old age of 82 who was finally released from bondage by a Go Fund Me contribution of $175,000. And there is another 82 year old working at another Walmart now the subject of another Go Fund Me effort.

“So, Dave, what is the point?”

…..umh….I dunno…..maybe that the rural exodus will continue, housing prices will rise in small towns and level off in cities? Or, maybe that there will be a mini-boom in rural entrepreneurship as spoiled urbanites demand their special coffees and better restaurants even in Spuzzum?

I suppose – if I had to take a guess – I would venture that this ‘sea change/tree-change’ will have major repercussions since it is bucking a long standing, historical march to urbanization that started way back with Industrialization and the Enclosure Acts of Britain in the 1700’s and has continued and accelerated in so-called developing countries like China to this day. We have been living increasingly ‘URBAN for centuries and now, now that urban has become less livable and surpassed rural in population numbers, that trend is reversing…..somewhat…..

….couple that with climate change awareness, technology, environmentalism and population abatement, could we finally, possibly be unconsciously setting one step forward on a long path to sustainability and better living?

Too much of a stretch? Well, it is January first. New Years Day. And I am looking for some good news to share. So sue me! But, before you do, have a better year in 2023. I hope we all do.

Winter, Xmas and all that OTG sort of thing….

We went down island to Victoria for Xmas. We left our OTG island on the 22nd. Turns out that was the last reasonably safe day for travel. Or, so they said. Our trip out started early and first required the assistance of a friend who picked us up in his boat on our island and who then dropped us on the other island (the communal dock there is too small for boats to stay there for more than 48 hours so our boats stay home). We had pre-packed the car the day before. It was a bitterly cold morning going out and, of course, the old logging road was covered in snow and the traction was iffy. But, no trees were down and the old Pathfinder really performs well in snow. It is a very well balanced 4×4 SUV and we have really good tires. No problem.

I bought some lumber in Campbell River to do a small repair on Grandma’s house, filled the liquor request and, after gassing up, headed off. There was one more chore a few miles down the road – take the dogs into a DIY dog wash and clean em up. And so, an hour later, we all headed South somewhat damp. It all went well until the very southern part of the island and, in particular, Grandma’s neighbourhood not far from Langford. There the snow was pretty deep. Cars had spun out. Littered in ditches. Roads slippery, icy, treacherous. But, again, we lucked out and made it safe and sound.

I won’t bore you with the whole itinerary but suffice it to say, we are always dependable in the foolish department. We pack whatever time we intend to be there with so much activity it is ridiculous. And the older we get, the more ridiculous we are. We never plan a nap-time for instance. Rarely plan for traffic. We were there for four days (plus two travel days) and, of course, we planned enough events to fill out a week. And we seem to overdo it that way every time!

Anyway, a Xmas of chaos ensued and kids, dogs, babies and grandparents were hugged and kissed, a turkey was devoured, a bunch of presents were exchanged and there was the obligatory dog-on-beach walk (Sal’s family is British, after all) and, of course, we stocked up at Costco for our run home.

The run home back up island is more daunting than the trip down because we have to catch a ferry, cross an island and travel by boat at the end of the day when it is getting dark. And we have a ton of stuff. Catching the ferry and maybe a storm on our home waters and the goal becomes a bit more stressful as the time marches on. Plus we need another pick-up at the dock. However, despite all the warings to “STAY OFF THE ROADS”, we made it and got home just as dusk settled into evening. BUT………………………

…………….and this is the tiny, non-story that makes the point of the blog. When we got home late in the day, the house batteries were dead. That means the funicular won’t work. If the funicular won’t work, everything we are bringing back has to stay in the boat. We, of course, can get into the house and get it warm but the water system won’t work because the pump needs juice, too. Clearly we have to address the electrical requirement first by getting the genset up and going. The genset has to run for about an hour and half to get the batteries up enough that they can operate the funicular. So, in theory, we have an hour or two to kill before we finish the final packing and unpacking to actually make our return home complete. BUT………….

……..it turns out we also had a so-called ‘KING’ tide during the time we were away. Our typical ‘really high tide’ might be as much as 17 feet (rarely). Usually 16 feet is the highest. But this ‘KING tide came in at least two feet higher and, worse, there was a storm out of the Southeast at the same time. Storm surge. That made the King at least a 20-footer. I built our lower deck at the 20’ 6″ level. The dock at our neighbour’s (where we tie the boats) is set to adjust right up to 19 feet. The anchors we used (being a bit tight) held the dock under water a smidge and the storm surge swamped over the docks. Our neighbours down the way have a similar height ramp-and-dock and the docks floated two feet higher than the ramp leading to them. And, behind the head of the ramp, is a large half acre area of land used to for storing materials and ATVs and such. It had two feet of water over it. This King tide was higher and wetter than anything previous. This one was a record.

Turns out we have three or four more in store but each successive one is a few inches lower and no storm surge is expected. That minor crisis seems over. Amazingly, there seems to be no damage. The neighbours dock needs some adjustment and there are trees all jammed up in it but we can handle that today. My electrical winch on the lower funicular must have gotten wet but it was still working. The genset put the juice back in the batteries. We’ll get pressure water today. And the house is now warm. Not an unusual homecoming all in all.

The dogs are ecstatic, Sal and I are happy and all is good in our world right now. But…….

……who knows what 2023 will bring…..?