2022/05/19 Maiden Voyage!

” I christen thee, the Motor Vessel John R.”

And, with that and the smashing of a bottle of alcohol-free beer (John’s drink) over the bow, we gently put the Ninigret 22 into the water at the boat ramp on the neighbouring island Thursday. Sal did the smashing (she has a natural talent in that way) and I climbed aboard just as the trailer wheels went under water. Our good friend, SD, was there doing and worrying some of the procedural details – which is good. Without him, we may have screwed up (we’re naturals at that, too). The John R floated precisely at the water line it was designed for. Mike did good.

The trip to the boat ramp

But maybe not so much on the steering installation. As mentioned previously, the steering operates opposite to intention; steer to port and you go to starboard. Counter intuitive steering is quite mentally challenging to a 74 year-old naturally inclined to screwing up – and this was the maiden voyage, no less! So, I just went slowly and carefully to get from the launch ramp to the nearest dock. And that was good, too…..except for actually getting near the dock (which usually requires some helmsmanship) and yesterday it was blowing briskly from the west – OFF the dock. I could get no closer than about six feet…….but a couple of dock lines and SD pulled me in. Whew!!

Sal came back down to the dock from rinsing the car free of salt water and passed SD and I a bag with sandwiches and beers and he and I headed up coast at a reduced rpm because the motor needs ‘break-in’ time. Ten hours at fixed speeds. Sal went back to the ‘yard’ and dropped the trailer. The plan was for her to then travel up that same neighbouring island logging road to our other boat and then she would get in that boat (the MV ‘Pumpkin’) and come down to meet/rescue/find us depending on how things went.

The seas were good – a light chop that occasionally gave us a little spray over the bow. Not enough to make the sandwiches wet, tho. We had a 45 minute run. It was good.

The Christening
The Launch

The boat rode well, very stable. We slipped along at 9.0 knots at 2900 rpms so, when the engine is ready to go full-on (5500 plus rpms), I should get 17 knots or more. We were going into a headwind so that slowed us a bit but we had an ebbing tide going in our direction and that helped us…….so, I think I will be able to cruise at 15 knots easily enough and maybe push ‘er to 20 if I use full throttle. That is just fine. Pumpkin does 20+ knots but this new boat can do 15 in a heavy chop. Pumpkin, being a planing hull, has to go slow when the weather is up. It is all good. But not yet done. I still have to get that steering swapped over (already on it today) and that is currently a mystery and will remain so until we put it back together and test it. We still have some required deck fittings to mount and, of course, there are the other bits, pieces and construction finishings to do. This is still a work-in-progress. I will keep you apprised.

The Homecoming

Late breaking news! Steering swapped over this afternoon thanks to daughter getting right in there and just goin’ at it. WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Btw….you may be wondering: “What did you do with the dogs?” Answer: my daughter is visiting and she has a dog. SD came to help bring the boat home and he also has a dog. Four dogs at a boat launching is an invitation for Murphy to have his way and they are an additional irritant-waiting-to-happen. We left my daughter with all the dogs. And they had a great time together and I did not miss them in the least.

The Co-captain and his boat

Left? Right? Mr. In-between?

Different kind of blog this time. I am truly perplexed. I am honestly asking a question about our collective mindset. Here goes:

Is anyone really, truly all left? Or all right? All good? Or all bad? I do not think so (OK, Trump is all bad but he is an exception). I think that even those who identify with the left to the total exclusion of all that is right-ist philosophy (and vice versa) will exercise some right-ist philosophies and/or actions in many situations. Even a major pinko-lefty wants the police to catch the bad guys, wants to balance their budgets and keep government intervention in their lives low. Even some of those rotten-righty-Maggots stop to help someone in distress, share their hospitality and make donations to charity.

I mean, some of the kindest, most generous people I know are righty-racist-sexist-anti-PC in their ‘personal presentation’ but they are major contributors to society, their friends and institutions. They are good in many ways. They are some of the greater builders of the community. And some of the most obnoxious, elitist, exclusionary folks I know identify with the left (like me). They are spoiled entitled brats like Justin Trudeau and lately, the Greens. None of us are all always on one side of the political spectrum at all times on all subjects.

Case in point: My father used to mumble all the time about ‘Chinks’ taking over. But one of his best friends was J. Wong. He golfed weekly with Gil C. (Chinese from the Philippines) and, when the Korean couple running the corner grocery was robbed, my dad would quietly volunteer to go and sit behind their counter if one or the other was all alone…sometimes for hours. He didn’t speak Korean. He didn’t talk. He’d just sit there protecting them. He did that for weeks at a time when Mr. Korean was in hospital for an operation. My father was not a racist, he was just blunt, rude, insensitive and a product of his times using the popular vernacular of his times.

And, just as ironically, my father identified strongly with the left. He was a pinko bleeding heart, generous to a fault. Shirt-off-his-back-kinda-thing. But I cannot count the number of guys he punched in the face. He was no peace-loving, hippy, pacifist doing yoga and smoking dope. He had a mercurial temper and a strong sense of right and wrong. But he never protested, demonstrated or even wrote letters to the editor. He drank beer at the legion, complained and punched people if they bugged him. And he projected a heavy personna like a Marvel character. He was no Bernie Sanders.

My recently deceased friend, John, was similar. He strongly identified with Capitalism, the Liberals/Socreds and he worked hard as a small-business-owner-mechanic all his life. And yet, he was a HUGE contributor to his community and not just in a small way with First Nations, addicts, widows and orphans. Few people ever demonstrate REAL life-long social work like John did.

So, what’s my point? Well, as I said: it is not a point this time, it is a genuine question. How the hell did we get polarized to the extent that people rigidly vote RIGHT or LEFT without hesitation when, in fact, they themselves are BOTH right and left in their own personal philosophy? Worse, they will actively dislike and do ‘dirty tricks’ against the other side.

Oh, I know, I know, we all vote using a mental shortcut so that we do not have to listen to the political gibberish spewed from the mouths of lying politicians. Of course we do. We have to. We have no real idea of our candidates. So, we generally vote party! Some people, I am sure, even judge just by appearance (and party)!

We are shallow in our political involvement but deep into our political identity! How did that happen?

The candidates all sing from the same hymn-sheet as their party told them to and so the candidate reveals little to nothing of their own views, abilities, influence. Our reps are unknown to us. To a typical voter, they just line up behind the ‘leader’ like cub scouts trying to earn a badge.

Even the general populace answers the ubiquitous exit poll questions with, “I voted for Trudeau (or whomever).” Which is simply NOT true. Unless they live in Quebec, they did NOT vote for Trudeau, they voted for some local ‘shill’ representing the Liberal party who, then, stands behind Trudeau and keeps quiet. We ally/identify/project ourselves based on that?!

So, if we have reduced our thinking to the cult of party, personality or simply physical appearance, if we take the democratic shortcut of primarily voting from party-name-recognition-habit, how did that devolve into such a polarized political climate?

I have no idea about my rep. She collects a salary and votes as Trudeau tells her to vote. How can I feel strongly about her? How can anyone defend her or Trudeau to the point that they must ‘HATE’ the other guys? What is happening to create this climate?

I have a dumb theory (arrived at without much thought) and this is it: we are all frustrated with our so-called modern lives (see the reluctance of people to go back to the office after Covid) or our personal situation or the planet or the economy or some major (in our own eyes) issue. Even our institutions seem to be letting us down. We want to lash out. We are frustrated! We are angry!

But there are only a few places in which we can now hurl our anger, our invectives, our negativity safely. It seems to be OK to hate white men, especially the older generations. It’s OK to hate Russians and especially the Oligarchs and Putin. For me it is OK to hate Trump and the Maggots (should be the name of a rock band). It seems to be increasingly OK to hate the police and, of course, it is always OK to hate addicts, welfare recipients, pedophiles and cartels.

I am starting to think that directed/projected/exaggerated hate is just a scapegoat for our own frustrations and unhappiness? Can anyone else explain this oddly polarized, ugly political climate in which we find ourselves?

Omniblog again!

I am a bit overdue for a blog but do not really have much in the way of ‘something new’. So, let’s do ‘tapas’, a blog made of appetizers, so to speak.

The dogs are great. Of course. But ‘great’ now also means BIGGER. Yep! Gus is 60+ and still in the uncoordinated puppy stage. That’s a picture. A rolling, stumbling, tripping, goof-ball that can take you out at the knees! But he’s getting better. Daisy is more athletic and has more ‘control’ over her body but Gus is getting there. They both get on and off the boat now with aplomb and, even tho it is often ungainly, they do not fall in. That’s good. When Daisy fell in at the grocery day-at-the-dock last week, it took Sal and another woman to haul her out. She was too heavy just for Sal. And Gus is at least 10 more pounds. Gus would need three women a-hauling.

They are still somewhat reticent to get in the car. They are not throwing up much anymore, tho. That’s good. But they still hate the trip.

The boat is almost ready to launch. It’s painted. Three cleats on. Two more to go. Plus I need to put on a keel shoe. My friend, SD, did some much needed wiring. Got the engine and bilge pumps running. Changed out the fuel filter. Here’s a weird thing….the builder put the steering in backwards. When you turn the wheel to go to port, the engine turns you to starboard. I am glad we discovered that while it was on land! I can live with that for one trip to get it home (SD read up on the system and is confident we can get it right – but it will need some time and our tools). I will just have to turn the helm against my natural instincts while at sea in a new vessel. Should be easy.

The season has finally arrived. People are booking ‘visits’ and we even have a W’fer scheduled in. We will definitely need some help getting in the firewood this year because we have virtually exhausted everything we had. The wood shed is empty but for the last row (#13) and so we gotta get the pile in so it can season properly.

Sal and I recently rebuilt the woodstove (kinda) by fixing a few things and putting in a new baffle. Man, that really made a difference. It is burning beautifully again.

The garden is nowhere. It’s a sensitive subject. ‘Nuff said.

The Philippines elected Marcos. Marcos and Duterte. Amazing. Truly mind-boggling.

Trump is visibly deteriorating more mentally (hard to fathom how much further he could go) and yet he is still news front-and-centre. Amazing. Truly mind-boggling.

Trudeau went to Ukraine. “I saw communities defending themselves.” Amazing. Truly mind-boggling.

Covid is still with us. I’d estimate at least 75%. Some not-so-close but still known (acquaintances) have died from it. Recently. The pandemic that just won’t quit.

Poor ol’ Sal…..she rose at 5:30 am today ’cause the dogs were awake (they rise with the sun). She did the dog-thing, packed up her quilting stuff and around 7:30 ish headed off to the neighbouring island to ‘do’ quilts with other women. What fun, eh? But then, when that is done, she has a pile of chores over there and will not likely get back home til 4:00 pm. And she’ll have a huge load to pack and carry when she gets to the boat.

It is noon. I have not moved off my chair after getting to it straight from rising around 7:30. I am a bit fatigued, I guess. But this ‘easy day’ will top up the tank and we’ll be ready to hit the boat-work tomorrow……well, I will be, anyway. Sal might be dragging her feet a bit.

Apologies

I truly do not know if it helps anyone to know about terrible things. Some things, I suppose, need knowing but the vast majority of bad news is just something that ‘happens to others’ or is ‘something we have no control over’. Even that which is horrific and close-to-home is rather easily forgotten even if we feel the effects for a bit.

This might be different. It fits with the above but, well, it is the worst and so I am sharing….apologies.

Whimper or a bang…..?

“Is this how it ends?” Sal asked.

“What?”

“You know, TEOTWAWKI” (the end of the world as we know it)?

The reason she asked that is somewhat intuitive…as in: ‘a woman’s intuition’….

We were on our way to Victoria for a few days. But, as readers know, I rarely go anywhere with only one chore or purpose. If I was going all the way down island, I’d pick up some needed stuff. I have a boat to launch! Fortunately all the stuff I needed was as common as a galvanized bolt. And that is where the story begins….

I needed 12 galvanized carriage bolts 5/16 diameter and 6 inches long. And I went to my favourite local chandler. “We’re out of ’em. Sorry.”

“Well, I also need two through-hull fittings….?” “We are out of them, too. Sorry.”

I got back in the car and we headed south. I asked Sal to look ahead along the route to locate other chandleries. She did. “Hmmm….there are several more but they are closed.”

“How can that be? It’s May 1st. The boating season officially begins May first. It’s also a weekend, fer gawd’s sake! Every chandlery on the coast is at its busiest. ‘Tis the season!”

“The next four are closed. Nanaimo seems open and so is Sidney but everyone else is closed.”

“That’s weird but no matter…galvanized carriage bolts are common and even bloody Home Depot should have ’em.” So, we stopped at a Home Depot (the store of a thousand disappointments) and, sure enough, they did not have them.

“That’s odd but, no matter. I’ll go to a fastener warehouse. I also need some 1.5″ stainless screws with #6 Robertson heads. Not to worry.”

I was wrong again. The best ‘fastener place’ in Victoria that I know of did not have them. Neither the s/s screws nor the bolts. To me, that is like going to the grocery store and being told they don’t have bread or milk.

In the meantime, gasoline was at $2.00 a liter.

And, as an added bonus: living OTG means your car gets dirtier and dirtier which becomes an issue when you visit the city. People brushing against my car need to immediately take a shower and send their clothes to the laundry. We (and our car) are like the Charles Schulz character, Pigpen, and dirt just seems to follow us like a cloud. So, I stopped at a carwash. It was $17.00 for a basic wash!

“Dave, what is your point!?”

Pizza in Victoria was $35.00. Gas was $8.00 a gallon. You cannot find bolts and screws. EVEN LEE VALLEY DID NOT HAVE ‘EM!!! Everything was very expensive or ‘out of stock’. Worse, when I tried (out of desperation) Canadian Tire for the bolts, they had seven left (I am NOT as stupid as this blog might suggest. I looked in the bin that had 3/8″ bolts and found that some dork had put some 5/16 bolts in there.) They are likely the last seven bolts on Vancouver Island but I needed 12. Took me twenty minutes to get to the cashier. They only had two cashiers on. Five registers empty. When I left there were 25 people waiting like zombies in the line behind me. Just standing there; their lives ebbing away before my eyes.

I got back to the car. “Yeah. I think you’re right. It is all ending with a whimper. If there is a BANG it won’t be from Putin, it will be from some old guy going off his nut and shootin’ up a Home Depot or Canadian Tire.”

Shortages are one thing. Lack of staff and service is another. Even a whole region like Vancouver Island can have those kinds of problems. I get that. But watching dozens of people lining up like zombies only to be overcharged and come away with crap or worse, NOTHING is mind blowing. This actually MIGHT BE the way it all ends. “For the want of a nail….”

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, For the want of a shoe the horse was lost, For the want of a horse the rider was lost, For the want of a rider …(Benjamin Franklin)

Life OTG/OTB.

Living off the grid (OTG) also means, in many ways, thinking outside the box (OTB). It is not so much that you ALWAYS have to think OTB but, if you don’t, you will ALWAYS be waiting on something (product, materials) or someone (with greater expertise) to get your work done. And sometimes you do not have the time or the money to wait on that. To get anything done OTG, one really must ‘make do’, jerry-rig, get creative, recycle, repurpose, invent or otherwise be uber pragmatlc in the extreme – almost all the time. You cannot phone in an order, call a repairman, use Amazon or have the thing you need already in inventory.

Old-timers-up-the-coast made a lot of things out of wood, repurposed everything else and generally made Rube Goldberg look constrained. Old guys simply ‘made do’. Old guys knew how to make it happen. Oldtimers made it work without Amazon, experts, You Tube or even books!

We, of course, are not bona fide old-timers (except in age)and are not as creative or adaptable as many out here. Plus we have a bad case of MSB (modern spoiled bratism)! As Sal puts it, “We are NOT barbarians!” (i.e. Sal and I have taken to using our Waterford crystal wine glasses every day since NOT using them just means they will last longer than we do – we have gone PRIMAL, we are using the GOOD glasses!). But, still, even the most pampered and spoiled out here have to get ‘down and dirty’, get real, do what needs doing now and then. Bears poop in the woods and so do the princesses. One does what needs doing.

And that is my slightly weird introduction to the keel of our new boat. The keel, of course, is the boat’s foundation, the backbone of the ship, the spine, if you will. The keel is the primary strength of the boat. In fact, the keel-and-ribs is often ‘founded’ on a particuarly strong frame referred to as the ‘strongback’. Anyway…we have a keel. It is strong. It is made of oak. It is good. But…..

…..Oak is wood. Wood is NOT Tungsten, steel or even aluminum. Wood is simply NOT as ‘strong’ in some ways as one might want. Especially if you have an inordinate amount of granite boulders on the beach in your life.

Think of it this way: you are driving slowly (under ten knots) in a nasty storm and at night. The rain is blowing horizontal. Ya can’t see diddlysquat. But you know you are coming up to your shore….that’s good…home is near….but…but….your home shore DOES NOT HAVE a dock. It has rocks, instead. You have to ‘nudge’ your boat on to the shore line to let off your passengers (dogs and wife). In the dark. Maybe there’s even fog. There’s definitely a bit of a storm surge. Waves. Wind. You have to be careful.

If you have a steel boat, you still have to be careful….if you have an aluminum boat , you have to be a bit more careful…if you have a good, strong f’glass boat you have to be even more careful yet and, if you have a wood boat, you have to be so careful you manoeuvre as if you have a boat made of eggshells. Wood boats weighing tons bashing up and down (waves) on granite rocks (beach) will not last long. Wooden boats need care.

I now have a wooden boat.

So, how do I ‘show care’ BEFORE I need to…..how do I make my wood boat less vulnerable to pounding on granite? Why with plastic, of course!

My friend, John, was a salvage kinda guy. If something still good was being thrown out, he rescued it. When the local hockey rink pulled out strips of that yellow, plastic ‘kickboard’ you see around the rink, he got some of it. That stuff is HDPE. High density Polyethylene. They used it at the rink because not only is the stuff really tough but also because it is slippery. It is slippery enough to skate on! Tough and slilppery is what I need.

Yesterday, I cut and fashioned a strip of HDPE as a ‘shoe’ for the bottom of the keel. Just four feet of it two inches wide tapering to one inch at the stem, shaped, sanded, and drilled for holes. It looked perfect! After it was done I gave it a gentle bend to mentally ‘see’ it go around from the bow-to-the first part of the flat keel. It snapped! IT BROKE IN HALF!

HDPE, the wonder plastic that takes nothing but abuse and is very bendable by nature snapped like a toothpick.

Life, eh?

Am I deterred? No. I’ll cut another piece and do it again. I will bend it again. I may, however, use a little persuasive heat the next time. It will work. It will be fine. Ya just gotta adjust, ya know?

I’m a bit silly, I guess…..

Gus now weighs 57 pounds, Daisy is topping out at 47. They are just five months old!

Gus jumped up on Sal yesterday and laid his paws comfortably on her shoulders, his face only a little bit lower than hers (mind you, Sal was starting to collapse at the time). Sal has had to ‘insert’ webbing into their harnesses ’cause they have already outgrown them. Their food chart states they might eat as much as 4 to maybe 5 cups a day. They are eating 6 and 7 cups and anything else they can find edible (or not). A typical dinner for them is a handful of celery/broccoli/lettuce with maybe an egg together with 2 cups of kibble plus a chicken thigh (yes, a whole chicken thigh each). Breakfast is maybe 3/4 of that and lunch is half of that.

Gus and Daisy

Not all that food turns into ‘dog’. Some of it, of course, is dog-poop but that is to be expected. At least they are now well and truly house-broken. They manage their own metabolisms. Another part is dog-hair (they are hypoallergenic so they have hair rather than fur). I have clipped them three times already and they are due for a fourth grooming soon. I have removed enough hair to make another dog!

Case in point: the swallows have returned and they are renovating their usual home for the season. That requires tossing out the old stuff and stuffing in the new. Some swallows must have discovered some errant dog hair and they liked it. Yesterday, a swallow swept down and landed on Gus in order to get more stuffing. Gus just sat there as the swallow quickly discovered this stuff was still attached!

Daisy and Gus

They have also migrated outside. I am keen to have them ‘leave home’ and live outside in/on their doghouse or even the outdoor couch and we were wondering when they’d be old enough to handle that trauma. But, over the last few nights, they have already chosen to take to the couch and they stay outside almost all night (the front door is left open a crack in case they want back in but they stay out all night but come in just to wake/woof Sal up at 6:00).

Yes. I hear the woof, too. We are now early risers.

Friends provided some goat bones for them. These bones had a lot of meat on them. And our dogs love bones. But, the first pair of bones just disappeared and so the second set was watched more closely. They chewed ’em a bit and then took off and buried them. That is not easy on a granite rock!

In other words, our pups have learned the value of delayed gratification. They are preppers!

The puppies on March 5th

They are getting on and off the boat like veteran seamen. They are comfortable in the water (but not swimming yet) and they can travel-without-puking for at least an hour (we have not gone further). They get along with other dogs, even unsocialized ones. They are great with people, too. But, when our grandchildren visited together with their 90 pound family dog, they were exemplary. Both pups were careful around everyone but especially so with the littlest two-year old.

These are good dogs.

No, I am 100% objective and not biased in the least.

April 26th

So, just a little joke…kinda…

Occasionally, I have to do my duty. Chores. Obligations. I avoid them as a rule. I try to delegate as much to Sal as I can but sometimes you just have to face the music and yesterday was one of those days. I had to go to town. Oh my GOD! I hate going to town.

I arrived at the ferry on the other island about fifteen minutes before the ferry sailed but, for reasons not even the Ferry Corp can explain, our ferry route is now experiencing twice the volume. I had a two sailing wait. On a Wednesday in April. Unheard of!

When I go to town it is always with a ten-chore list (of which if six get done, it is considered a great trip) and I started with the ‘Marine’ store. ‘Natch! Because I am still putting the ‘new’ boat together. And I got some stuff. And the prices were, well, ‘UNHEARD of!’. A quart of topside paint is $60.00 (plus taxes, etc.). And so it went. I spent $400 at that store yesterday that a year ago would have been $300.00 Everything was much more pricey.

The sales lady asked for my address, phone number, etc and I balked. “Just for our records”. Well, I said, I live on a remote island. And the phone number doesn’t always work so there is no point. “You live on a remote island? Take me with you!”

I then went to the paint store for Xylene and brushes. Same routine. Same answer. And, this is the point: the tatted-up and studded-faced early-20’s saleswoman (who actually KNEW her stuff) said the same thing, “You live on a remote island? Take me with you!”

And then over to the propellor shop and the woman there already kinda knows me. “You live remote, right? What’s it like? Can I make a living out there?” (in effect, much the same thing).

Three stops. Three women. All expressing a desire to live ‘OTG’.

No. It was not my natural masculine allure that was drawing them like a magnet (altho the propellor lady does kinda like me), it was just a genuine expression of fatigue, frustration and dissatisfaction with the rat-race and THIS IS IN A SMALL TOWN!!!

I then blasted off to Costco and bought more crap. The guy at the registry checked me through and instructed me on how to use my debit card. I kinda know but I never use it so I looked a little hesitant. He laughed nicely and asked “How does a person shopping at Costco not know how to use the debit card?” Well, I live remote. When we come, my wife does the transaction and I just carry. I am now just a mule and that suits me just fine.

“Wow! You live remote?…………………………………………………take me with you!”

Tote it, coat it and float it…..and then you can boat it!

Sal and I started painting the boat a few days ago. Always fun. The best part is that the dogs are not throwing up anymore. I know, yippeee, right? The worst part, truly, is that three hours of work is about all we can put in right now (plus over an hour in driving time). It is not that it is so hard but it is awkward. The boat is only a few feet off the ground. So we lay on the ground and paint overhead. Sal does pretty good, being a yogi and all. I kind of just lay like a log and try to roll along.

Mind you, I went topsides yesterday and put a first coat on the port side. Deep green. Semi-gloss. Sal was finishing the bottom paint (one more layer today) and that colour is flat black. It all looks good.

There is the deck and roof to do soon. There is the last coat of bottom paint and the last coat for the topsides (hull). The two colours are an off white and a deep green.

This boat is already proving interesting. It is in a yard where maybe three people go a week. Maybe as many as five. But we’ve had two visitors from our island and several locals from the area come by for a closer look. Today a couple of fishermen (coming to get their boat) stopped and talked ‘wooden’ boats. Every time we have been there to work on it, someone drops in and talks about how ‘really nice’ she is. Today’s boats-of-envy are heavy-duty aluminum with big engines. Some are upwards of $200K but all of them are very expensive. No one even looks at the $100K boat parked across from us. Everyone, it seems, comes to see our ‘old-style wooden folly’ but they are very complimentary and they are sincere. All to Mike’s credit and Atkins design.

There is a tendency with this little cutie to think ‘Bristol fashion’ (a yachtie term for making your boat sparkle). That means everything is clean, fresh paint everywhere and all the brightwork bright. But varnishing a boat up here is absolutely verboten and considered garish and, probably, ignorant (“Ya can’t keep a yacht out here, man!”). REAL boats up here look like hell but the engine is perfect. To drive around with a ‘tiddly’ vessel is to invite scorn and abuse. The preferred ‘look’ is old, dented, broken and lashed here and there with duct tape and a cheap tarp. We can ‘effect’ that look all too easily. It’s ‘natural’, local and unpretentious. Still, if you purposefully dress down, that, too, is pretentious.

Sometimes you just have to let your beauty out to play, ya know?

Perspective

When Trump won the 2016 election, I was very surprised. But my surprise took a distinctly different direction initially….I was, of course, distinctly unimpressed by Trump, the pig, but I was stunned at what that perverted victory ACTUALLY said to me. It said, “The White House is NOT a sanctified place. It is NOT special. In fact, the White House is currently occupied by rich white trash and millions of vermin are cheering him on.”

Trump instantly and single-handedly put the ‘holy ground’ of the White House into the same real estate category as the lowest trailer park. Trump took all the magic out of the White House and showed it up as the Motel 6 it really was. The White House was a dump and so were the trashy people who occupied it. That revealing ugliness was quite a shock. It was a reality check.

Put more accurately and succinctly today, I now feel as if the ‘mythical’ White House is just an old building and a corrupt one at that. The pedestal has been removed. Perspective has been gained.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s (five years in California). The threat of nuclear war was taught to us weekly. We even had school drills on how to duck and cover under our desk (for an atomic bomb, no less). And, of course, Russia was, until 1989, the really BIG and SCARY bogeyman that embodied international evil. Let’s face it, they still kind of do. Or, better put: they did!

It turns out, Russia is NOT the ‘unstoppable force’ of evil I thought it was. It is just a country with an army, just a country with poor, young soldiers, just a medium sized tyranny run by a tiny weird man. It can and does, in fact, screw up on a large scale quite often – maybe just as bad or even worse than other dysfunctional countries. Russia is simply a neighbourhood bully is all.

Put more bluntly: except for their nuclear missiles, Russia is not really much of a threat to the West. Not even their next door neighbour. Russia is just a bigger North Korea. The curtain has been pulled back and the little wizard has been exposed. Perspective gained.

This ruination of mythical institutions can take many forms. Catholicism, for instance, has shown itself over time not just as a spiritual guide, a holy movement for good. It is often just a human, ugly, weak institution cloaked in false or covered-up history, fancy dress and ritual all at the same time. They have done evil. That is not a revelation, really. Most of us have rejected religion while still having a sense of a higher power or, as a friend of mine puts it, a omnipotent Universal Force. But the whole of a ‘bad’ church in such disgrace is a very dramatic and steep decline.

And, yet, we are watching a very slow and gradual exposure of all of our institutions – just like the Catholic church – as having feet of clay and hands where they shouldn’t have been.

Canada’s revered Health Care system is coming undone, too. It is now bloated and often ineffective. Our cops are showing up as taxpayer-funded gangs of thugs. Education is NOT working – not for the betterment of humanity, anyway, and few of the degree holders are living happily. Our politicians are increasingly, greedy, elitist and stupid. We are seeing the reduction of myths and fantasies into blunt, harsh realities of vulgarity, coarseness and ugliness. .

Conclusion: the facades of our cultural institutions (and those of other cultures, too) are falling away….

How did all that happen in barely one generation (well, during my generation, anyway)?

Observation: culture is formed more by mass communication than anything else. The priest speaks, the cop speaks, the teacher speaks, the doctor speaks, the news anchor speaks….and we used to listen and obey. Advertising, media, institutional propaganda and the like all once carried some kind of mythical status by communicating en masse one basically similar message. We believed their myths and, as Marshall McLuhan said so well, “The medium is the message.”

But the main disseminator of mis/information today is NOW the so-called ‘social media’. The public is drenched in social media – right, wrong or fantasy – we are saturated, immersed and engulfed in it. When I was younger and being brainwashed, I had to be home to hear ‘information’ on the 6:00 News. Or read a newspaper. Today, I can access tripe, crap, hate-speech, lies, propaganda, and occasionally some truth, in seconds anywhere and at anytime. Our information, misinformation and just-plain lies proliferates like the virus we also endure.

Is social media now just another false-front institution? Have we replaced old, fallible, human, rigid institutions with something MORE fallible, sub-human and disorganized? If so, that does not seem like a good trade-off.

And, like that now-familiar Covid virus, we do not know what is true and what is not anymore. That is perspective skewing at the very least.