Between acts….

Hauled Sal’s non-running boat today.  Out of the water, up the marine ways and onto the lower deck.  Removed engine.  Hauled that little sucker further up the hill to the shop.  Sal’s adamant, “We can do this thing!  I do not want to take it into some dishonest mechanic and pay $1,000 for them to blow out the carburetor or something.  We have fuel.  We have spark.  We have at least half a brain between us (?) and a shop full of tools.  We can do this!” 

“OK.  I’m in.  Can you carry it to the shop?”

“No!  And don’t be a smart-alec.  YOU have to do the heavy lifting!”

“Fair enough.  You gonna search You-tube to ferret out the glitch?”

“Nope.  YOU have to do You-tube, too.”

“Fine.  No problem.  But you realize that, if I do the research, you are then just the silent, cooperative, helpful assistant and I am the main mechanic.  Mechanic #1.”

“No way!  It is MY engine.  We are co-mechanics!”

And……..such is life amongst the blind leading the blind deep off the grid and eventually off the edge of a cliff.  Incompetent, but equally so.

I would admit to ‘not having a clue’ as to what is wrong with the motor but, after all this time, we actually DO HAVE clues (but just because Colonel Mustard was in the library does not mean he used the lead pipe…you know what I mean?).  WE JUST have clues.  NO REAL KNOWLEDGE!

Tomorrow, we haul my boat.  Service it.  Tie it down.  Then I service all the engines we own.  Oil, filters, top-ups, etc.  Then we check it all and make a mental note of what we did.  As long as I do EVERYTHING it is just a mental note and I will remember.  But, if I can’t get it all done, I have to write it down which chore was left undone otherwise I am re-doing more than one thing when we get back.

Never had to do that kind of crap before.  Now I do.

Excess food gets gifted to the needy (read: conveniently nearby) and anything vulnerable to the weather will be stored under something.  WE will check.  WE will prepare.  WE will pack and we will worry….for about a day and then put it out of our minds.  Have to – NOTHING can be done when you are a day (or more) away.

AND short term memory is at a premium nowadays.

Book #4 is being talked about a bit.  Not much.  No story in mind.  No clue of a story, really…  I have all sorts of great stories from ghettos, to bouncing in pubs, from sailing boats to working on Skid Row.  I could do travel stuff.  I could do a tome on mediations.  A really thick one JUST on separation agreements.

Stuff?  I got stuff.  I got stuff up the yin yang.  But a writer has to write what a writer feels like writing and cares about and all of that was then.  This is NOW!  So, we will likely do something with Charlie and Nancy in the now.

I have suggested we try a soft porn romance but Sal has ruled that out.

“Why, sweetie?  It’s just fiction.  It’s classed as fiction, presented as fiction and everyone knows it’s fiction.”

“I don’t care!  People already accidentally call me Nancy!”  

“Hmmmm…..no one has accidentally called me ‘Charlie’…..?

“Well, obviously!  Duh!”

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

PUTIN is coming to a neighbourhood near you! 

Seems Vlad feels emboldened enough to attempt to re-establish military bases in Cuba.  Great!  I assume Trump’s diplomacy is working out as planned (by Vlad).  His friends want to be nearer to Mar-a-Lago.  Easier to ‘drop in’.  They’ll have a blast!

Maybe an A-blast.

No, but SERIOUSLY folks, Happy New Year.  What?  Me worry?  No way.  I don’t worry.  Why should I?  I’m cursed with a terminal condition that has no real place in the modern world.  I know that.  Worse, I have complications derived therefrom.  I suffer from chronic common sense and suffer expectations of logic and reason.  Trust me…it’s a somewhat rare combination and it inevitably leads to a frustrating existence and ends in death after 7 or 8 decades.

But do not weep for me.  My case is mild.  I have almost enough stupidity to get by, almost enough dull to plod along without bleating and absolutely no power with which to inflict my condition on others.  Save for you, of course…my seven faithful readers.  Poor babies! God bless you, tho.  Bad news: you are likely also so inflicted.  Do you expect goodness, logic, reason and the environment to prevail?  If so, take two bottles of scotch and call no one the next morning.  You are doomed!

Here we go…..

A young woman recently pressed charges against her rapist and he is going to jail.  And, rightly so.  Seems she drank herself black in the face (a weekly routine in her group) and went back to a party house where everyone slept higgledy-piggledy wherever they fell over.  Our boy, drunk-as-a-lord, did the same.  He ended up beside her, like others in the house were beside others.  But he had enough testosterone to victimize her.  She woke up half way and protested but then blacked out again.  The next morning she went to the hospital and secured the evidence.

Good on her!  She should do that.  I am, so far, on her side.

But logic and reason, common sense and personal responsibility are left wondering….“What was she thinking?  Drink to pass out and then go to an orgy house?” 

Back up a bit, Dave! ….drink to pass out on a regular basis?  REPEATEDLY DO THAT AND PLAN TO GO BACK  EACH TIME TO AN ORGY HOUSE!? 

ALL ugly.  IN so many ways.  But the guy is still the evil-doer and WRONG, wrong, wrong.  Go-to-jail wrong.

But, really..?..drink to pass out at an orgy house and then wonder why something bad happened?  I dunno……

Scott Peck in his book,  PEOPLE OF THE LIE, wrote that evil fills the vacuum left by unconsciousness.  We ‘get’ unconscious and then evil slips in.  Or, put another way, you have to remain conscious to keep evil at bay.  In other words again: if you check out of your responsibility, evil will step up.

“Dave!  You nuts?  What the hell are you talking about?” 

I use the two incidents above to illustrate a point – Scott Peck’s point.  It’s obviously a dangerous world.  There ARE dangers we all live with.  We live in darkness and in light.  Yin and yang.

And Trump is an UNCONSCIOUS president.  Stupid.  Unthinking.  He may BE evil but let us just leave the observation at him being incredibly stupid.  AND SO ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE for allowing him to preside!  So…there is a VOID……

Trump’s behaviour emboldened Putin.  Maybe even ENABLED him….. IT WAS HIS behaviour that invited Putin back into Cuba.  No good can come from that.  NO GOOD at all.

Our gal ‘Laura’ (name inaccurate to protect her stupidity) did the same.  And she was invaded.  No good came from that.  We are seeing a ‘dumbing down’ incident on both a macro and micro scale here.

Mind you, our bad boy was convicted and will go to jail.  He was drunk too, but that was NO defense.  She was drunk and that was HER defense!  In the case of WW3, there will be no judge to ‘determine’ right or wrong.  History will write that story.  But the cause of both violations is the same: unconsciousness will result in great evil.

 

First time, Grasshopper?

 

You’d think that if Mother Nature was gonna kick some butt, she’d start doing so in Florida, wouldn’t you? Mar-a-Lago, to be more precise? No?

Apparently not. Maybe we are all sinners at some level. Regardless of her sense of natural justice, this holiday was two weeks of wreaking hell-storms on the West Coast and, of course, MOM saved the best for last. We got a pretty good spanking on the 20th and 21st.

Last two Sundays back (bookclub) took out our neighbour’s dock and the main water system and, of course, we wrestled with that for a few days. We are in temporary fix mode. Such is life. And then we went south for Xmas leaving everything in that ‘temporary state’.

When our back was turned, she kicked us again. This time, a bit harder.

But that wasn’t the whole of it.

Mother Nature and Murphy work hand-in-hand.

I had an appointment on the other island scheduled for our arrival back and sensed that, if our return didn’t go well (Murphy) or the weather (MOM) was bad, we’d not have enough daylight to finish the BIG unloading and we’d be in a bit of danger and in the middle of a big job in the dark. So, I cancelled the appointment on the basis of a ‘security allowance’. Good move. Everything that could go wrong, did.

We had a utility trailer full of crap (band saw, gasoline, car parts, etc) plus the usual luggage and food supplies so we had a big load. I backed the whole mess down the steep the hill on the other island and we arrived as the tide was receding. That’s not great. As you are loading, your boat gets heavier and deeper in water that is getting shallower. So, we endeavour to unload vehicles and re-load boats quickly when on the beach. I unloaded the truck and trailer on to the beach and took half the load to the dock leaving Sal’s half on the beach. Sal caught a ride with a good neighbour over to our place to pick up both boats — hers and mine. She lashed hers to mine and drove them slowly back to the loading dock. All good, so far.

But her boat would not start! And all our fix-it tools and tricks were back home. That was irritating but you really need three irritants in a row to make a screw up.

“Oh, well! Never mind. We’ll still use my boat as a mini barge and you can tow me.”

And, so we did. But all that fooling around lost us precious tide-level time and, by the time we loaded her up, she was hard aground. With the tide still falling. Irritant number two?

With modest heroics and immodest strength, we managed to just get the boat into deeper water. Three more minutes of the tide retreating and we would have been a returning tide away from getting it all afloat. Whew!

So, we towed it all home using my also-full boat and nudged our flotilla into our shore. Sal went up to lower the funicular. She was having trouble. It kept getting jammed. Irritant # 3 and dangerously close to screw-up territory. The funicular cart weighs 700 pounds so Sal can’t budge it. I crawled ashore and managed to move it a smidge — enough to see that a wheel had come off. The cart has six wheels and, for some reason, one had lost a retaining nut and the wheel was skewing and jamming. I managed to get it off and we operated with five wheels. That effort ate up time. It was getting on.

And we had to do two loads!

We were now officially in screw-up territory but so far, not so bad. It was just starting to rain and we were getting tired. That is irritant #4.

When we were done getting it all ashore to the lower deck, we covered what we needed to and diverted our energies to our neighbour’s dock. Welcome to irritant #5. The screw up light started flashing in both our heads so we were trying to be careful.

The ramp had jumped the dock again. The wheel had come off the axle again and the new rear float-tube installed this summer had escaped it’s containment cradle and was half-way loose. A very large main cleat holding the dock in place had been ripped off and that retention cable was just a-hanging doing nothing. And a lot of ropes and chains had been worked loose and/or broken.

On the other hand, more ropes and chains should fix all that and so we re-and-re’d everything, levered the ramp back, re-installed the wheel and added a few reinforcements where we could. Barring another weather battering, it should last. When it is not so bloody miserable outside, we’ll add some more reinforcements.

The most challenging moment was when the filled-with-water float started to drift away. A pike pole couldn’t grab it and so Sal jumped into her boat with the dead engine. She paddled out, wrapped a rope around it and paddled back. That was not easy. We then wrestled the equivalent of a baby Beluga onto the dock to drain the water out. That was NOT easy either. That might have been irritant #6 – hard to say.

BUT things were secured for the time being.

THEN we returned home, brought the previously tarped-up load up to the house and got to work warming up. It was 8 degrees inside, we were cold, wet and weary. It was four or so hours after having arrived at the loading dock so we were also pretty efficient in light of the challenges. The main thing: we didn’t get hurt. Getting hurt seems to happen when cold, wet and weary and we managed to dodge that bullet. As Sal said, “I am pretty chuffed about that!”

We were not done by a long shot…….

I went below to start the ‘systems’. The water system would not turn on. No, it was not frozen. Before leaving it, I drained the system. I turned off the pump. I put on the heat tapes. I turned off the water heater. This time I reversed the order and a perfectly working system that had been so properly shut down, remained shut down despite all sorts of ‘checks’. I have one more trick to try but I reluctantly admit that it was my intention to put in a new system this year and, well, it simply did NOT get done. It will. This is definitely another irritant…I have stopped counting!

We huddled around the fire after ‘putting away’ our town stuff and I put a bottle of wine on the stove top. Had to. It was like a popsicle. After about a half hour it was drinkable (not room-temperature because room temperature was also like a popsicle). We re-heated some leftovers and counted our blessings.

Last night, I kept the home fires burning all night long– but NOT raging. So we were only at 13 degrees this morning. It had been a cold night. So far, we are up to 17 and climbing. All is good.

“Dave! Why write that nonsense?”

You make a good point o’ insensitive one. I described it all because, although uncommon, we have a return like that at least once a year. Living with cobbled systems off the grid simply invites glitches and that is to be expected but when glitches line up in a queue, things can get awry pretty fast. This was a bit of an exception. We were surrounded by glitches and challenges and yet managed to eventually get warm, drink wine, have dinner and have things NOT go awry.

There’s a first time for everything!

Batteries are like the rest of us…..

….they get old.  Weak.

But, before they pass on to that great recycling depot in the sky, they (like us) strain to do what they used to do.  Which is: give up their energy in aid of comfort (irony).  If you are any kind of decent battery owner, you work ’em til they get a bit embarrassing and then you send them off to the battery rest home.  Out of sight, out of mind……like we old folks.

There is more than just a little anthropomorphism in there, I know that, but that is what we had to do with eight of our old 8D buddies – get rid of them.  And I feel their pain.  I  have empathy. They were no longer pulling their weight.  And they have to do at least that – they each weigh about 150 pounds.

We started about eight years ago with twelve of the monoliths.  THAT was a schlep!  That’s 1800 pounds of lead and acid on small boats and up steep slopes!  Sadly, over the years, a couple failed prematurely and, although I replaced them, that is a fool’s game – you can’t really put new batteries in with old.  But I did it anyway.  I figured ‘gambling’ (sacrificing) with the two newbies would keep the other ten going.  But you can’t do that and not eventually screw up.  Two replacements is about the extent of it on a battery bank of 12.

And then, as the years marched on and more died, I cut back to the best eight.

And, eventually, I bought eight more new ones to form a ‘NEW TEAM’.  They could not be paired with the old team because they would be pulled down by the old, aging group.  So, two groups of eight with one group young and strong and the other starting to limp along somewhat.  A battery switch kept them apart.

And then it was time.  The old guys were just not doing their job.

Batteries are like horses, too.  An old horse can pull your buggy and you just go kind of slow.  Maybe REAL slow but you go.  But, if you add a young, big, strong Percheron, the new guy not only pulls your buggy but he also has to pull the old guy.  It’s actually easier on the new guy to do it alone.

And so it is with us.  We are now relying on the eight new guys (about four years old now).  We took the old guys down to the lower deck this summer and planned to move them off but, well, you know…they are not the only things around here getting old.  We took our time til it was, well, embarrassing.

And that brings us to today.  We are getting off island for a week.  There really was no excuse (trust me) and so we decided to take four of the eight with us when we go.

To the euphemistic battery rest home.

The logistics of all this aren’t really much…..you lower the batteries to the lower deck (not easy but not complicated).  Then you lower them to the sea when there is a boat there to receive them.  Calm weather is a prerequisite.  Which explains why we chose today.  But…..to get a 150 pound battery into a small boat is particularly not easy.  You can use two people/horses but, really, the one good horse has an easier time of it because two horses on one side of a small boat loading in another 150 pounds is asking to be tipped over.

So…here’s where Sal comes in……. again!  Her boat has about eight inches of freeboard.  That is LOW in the water.  If I stand on one side of it, it tips like a skateboard…resisting the pressure my weight puts on it until it gives up and then everything ‘squirts’ one way or another.  But Sal can walk around it.  She can stand on the gunwhale.  Sal can work on her boat.  I cannot.  The two of us on the boat?  Next to ridiculous.  

So, the plan was to bring two boats around, tie one off to the side for me to use later.  I then lower the batteries to sea level and then Sal puts her little boat-front right smack dab on the cart of the lower funicular.  The question was: “Can Sal move 150 pounds of dead weight from the cart to the boat?”

Bear in mind that ‘ol Sal is only 130 pounds herself!

So, she tied her boat tight to the cart and, with one leg on the bow of her boat and one on the cart, pull-slid the first battery to the edge.  She lifted one half of it an inch or so and then dragged it onto the edge of her boat and then, because of the slant of her deck, slid it down to the middle.  One down, three to go.

After two were in, the boat was kind of low in the water at the front.  So, Sal dragged and pulled the first two to the back of her boat.  And then repeated the exercise to get all four in.  And then, for fun, we added a 100 pound winch that a friend needs to borrow.

Took Sal about 15 minutes to load 700 pounds onto a small boat!

I hauled the cart back to the deck, climbed into the second boat (had I been in Sal’s boat, we would all be in the water at this juncture).  And we proceeded to the other island where our car is.  I got the truck and backed it to the beach.

The tide was higher than usual.  So high, in fact, I could drive right into the sea with only 2/3 of the rear wheels showing.  That put Sal’s boat only about one foot lower when she came up to the back of the truck.  In rubber boots we pull-hauled the batteries and the winch into the back of the truck.  We then took it up the hill to our little utility trailer.  There, we jockeyed trailer and truck so that we could off-load and the whole schmozle went into the trailer.

Weather permitting, we will repeat the whole exercise in a couple of weeks and the chore will be done.

Life needs beach access

Bookclub Sunday.  December.  Raining.  Twenty women coming in small boats.  Sal’s turn to host.  She’s in full Chatelaine mode. “Sweetie.  Please go down to the dock, move the boats around and help the women tie up their boats to the dock.”

“Sal!  All those women are more competent in small boats than the coast guard.  They don’t need me.”

DaVID!”

“Fine!  I am on my way.”

Guests tie up at our neighbour’s dock.  The one we use all the time, too.  It’s a typical non-permanent float tied to shore with heavy lines so as to remain relatively in one place and there is a ramp that slides up and down with the tide and as the currents dictate.  The ramp is fixed at one end, the other end is free to move with the main float.  It has served the owner well for over 25 years and it has also carried our added burden for the last 15.  It’s a great dock.

But…well, everything needs maintenance and repairs and docks are exceptionally needy.  They have to adjust to winds and tides, storms and freezing temperatures  They plunge and strain when the seas are up and, of course, they rot and rust in the expected areas.  Docks require attention.  They just do.

That is why we always refer to it as ‘our neighbour’s dock’.  It is RIGHT IN FRONT of his place so that seems fitting but it is also true that our great neighbour keeps it all afloat and we simply waltz up and down now and then and smile and say ‘hi’.

It’s a GREAT system!

But, he’s away for awhile and the storms coming through these past four days had their way with us.  The first two times we were called to action the ramp had jumped it’s tracks and managed to half-escape the west end of the main float that it is supposed to sit on.  Sal alerted me to it the first time when she was headed off to quilting.  “Sweetie!  The ramp is falling in the water!  I won’t go to quilting.  I’ll stay and help.”

“No, Biggy.  You go.  I can fix it.”  And I did.

The next day Sal was headed to the post office and the winds were howling.  She wasn’t sure whether to go so went over to check the boats.  “Sweetie!  The ramp jumped the tracks again.  This time the wheels came off.  It’s too rough to go to the post office.  Let’s go fix it.”  And so we did.

Last night must have blown even harder.  As I got close to the dock it was obvious that we had a new and bigger problem.  The ramp was now in the water having disconnected itself from the land!  This time, the land side of the ramp had gone askew.  The storm must have driven the floats hard against the shore as far as the lines would allow and that drove the ramp further along the dock than ever before.  Half of it was on the main float when the hinges on the land side gave way and the ramp fell into the water but it did not sink to the bottom because it was held up by the float it had miraculously climbed along.

Still, the ramp was in the water but hanging in it with the broken end about three feet or more underwater.  And the main float was now all askew with the all the new weight draped off the end.  The main float was now twenty-five feet from shore and it was very, very deep there.  Losing the ramp was a distinct possibility.

And twenty women were coming to bookclub.

It is at times like this, a man has to go to his strength.

I went to fetch Sal.

“Sal.  We gotta problem.  You gotta come.  But first, call Doug, call Scott and call Steve.  Tell them the ramp broke.  It’s hangin’ in the water.  We need help.  Then, come with me.  I can’t get over to the float side but you can.”

I grabbed a ladder.  Sal grabbed a rope.  When we got to the site of the calamity, Sal took off her shoes and socks, rolled up her pants and I put the ladder over the gap.  But, of course, it only got her to the two foot deep mark of the hanging ramp.  Off she went along the horizontal ladder like the yoga-monkey she is and got to the other side.  Everything tipped!  She quickly scampered along the barely balancing ramp and got to the main float.

We were about to tie ropes to the hanging ramp when the first of her guests arrived.  “You ferry them in your little boat to the shore.  I’ll receive them and send them up to the house.  When they are all arrived, you go with them.  In the meantime, can you use your boat to get a line on the end of the ramp?”

Sal got a line on, then ferried the women over to the shore.  I sent them up to the house and Doug and Scott arrived just as that gracious operation was wrapping up.  Barefoot Sal followed them up to the house, bookclub began and the three guys stood looking at the problem.

When working with women, one is obliged to discuss and explain everything and then plan for required breaks, what will be served for dinner that night and which tools we will need between then and now.  At the very least.  Consensus must be reached on at least two of the topics, however random, before work can commence.  If anyone arrives on the scene, we are also supposed to down tools, chat politely for at least ten minutes and then beg our pardons because we have to continue our work.  It is de rigeur.  Even the women being ferried the twenty or so feet felt obliged to say, “Hi, Dave, how are you doing?  You look busy.  What about the weather, eh?  When did the dock break?”

There were twenty of them!

The three men said little if anything.  Doug finally said, “Scott, do you know where the tirfor is?”  Scott spun his boat around and was gone.  Doug turned to me.  “You got any chain?  And shackles?”  I grunted in the same manner as Scott had, spun and ran to my shop.  I picked up the shackles and 25 feet of 3/8 chain and ran back.  A minute later, Scott was back with the tirfor (a type of winch that I now need more than anything).  We worked for about an hour, maybe two.  My guess: Maybe five minutes of that had conversation.  Maybe 7.

At one point, feeling the ghost of Sally, I said something completely wrong.  “Say, if you guys want a nice break, Sal and the club have tons of cookies and stuff for you.  If you want?”  Doug and Scott looked at me like I’d just spoken Swahili for “Wanna hear some show tunes?”  Neither answered.

A hour later, the ramp had been lifted and was chained up.  It will last the winter at least.  It may be the fix that keeps on giving.  Not everything has to look nice.  It just has to work.  This works.  And, you know what they say, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Five minutes after the ramp was secure, the guys were gone.  They had both come at a moments notice.  They had dropped everything.  Their reward?  More respect and admiration but they don’t need that.   They have TONS of that! They NEED tons of cookies and stuff.  My earlier Swahili-musical thought was right – the timing was just all wrong.  The club will package up some goodies and drop them first with Doug and then over to Scott’s when they leave.  Sal will deliver something extra tomorrow or the next day.

This was really an ordinary emergency – of sorts.  Altho, there are no emergencies that are ordinary.  Not really.  NO lives in danger or anything like that but it was a problem that, if fixed, would then be seen as a medium challenge.  If not fixed, it would get worse and it would have become a MAJOR challenge.  Doug and Scott are two guys who have been out here a long time and have a lot of skills and a deep repertoire of tricks and ‘hacks’ to get things fixed.  Plus they have tools and know how to use them.  Give them a lever, a block and a length of rope and they can do just about anything.

I am grateful.  I couldn’t have done it alone.  OR even with Sal.  This needed a tirfor at the very least and, by the time Sal and I had discussed it, planned dinner and reached consensus on myriad and sundry other topics, the ramp may have been twenty feet deeper.  We are very lucky for great, skilled, quick, albeit somewhat monosyllabic, neighbours.

Some adjustment may be required

It’s kind of interesting watching the world begin to adjust to what has been obvious and inevitable for decades.  We knew things were all messed up.  Is this the adjustment period?

We knew climate was changing, pollution was poisoning, species were dying and things were just generally ‘getting out of whack’.  We knew about the environmental side in our heads ever since Silent Spring (Rachel Carson) in the 60’s.  But, environmental degradation is slow.  It was business as usual for 99.99% of us and complete and total denial for the so-called leaders.  Oddly, poisoned environments didn’t alert us.

Climate and environment is NOT as big as their job or the stock market to many urban people.  It just isn’t.  Out of sight, out of their ever-lovin’ minds. Things are changing on that score, however.  Even Gordon Gekko and Bubba think Green sometimes now.

I remember distinctly when my first conscious thought of the environment occurred to me (although there must have been many hints and clear messages previous to that, they simply did not ‘click’ until then.)  It was back in the 80’s for me.  I was in school.  They did a diagram on the amount of water in the Ogallala aquifer, the underground body of water that serves and supports a large portion of the US.  The news item reported that it was being depleted.  Seems the depletion rate has only increased since then. The Ogallala is drying up.  Takes 6000 years to fill up.

But that wasn’t news for most people.  Not real OJ Simpson-in-a-Bronco NEWS.  There were also the threats of species extinction from the Vancouver Island marmot to the spotted owl, from the Monarch butterfly to wild salmon, herring, sea weed and the list is now endless…..but….that WASN’T news, either.  NOT REALLY.  We had TV.  Soon we would have the Kardashians.  Pop news was becoming celebrity.  Real news was becoming cerebral.  They are different.

And, back then, Sally and I moved next door to Bob Hunter and watched GreenPeace hatch in real time.

‘Course, I do not measure my life by the amount of water underground or the number of owls in the trees either but it was all a bit of a starting point for me.  A slightly different consciousness started back then.  I started to watch for ‘indicators’, ‘trends’, ‘signs’.  I looked for other sources of information.  All of them, of course, had to have some ‘personal perspective’ component otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed. I was busy, too.

I also read, of course.  I listened, too.  But, to be honest, it kind of has to hit me personally to really sink in.  Learning is good – but experiencing, feeling, seeing at a visceral level is better.  I am ‘getting a message’ now and it is not just regurgitated hysteria from amphibian watchers or butterfly counters or pollution measurers.  But, of course, they are absolutely right.  Things are dying.  In great numbers.

I won’t bore you with a litany of natural disasters that have been observed just from living out here but, suffice to say, nature is suffering.  There is less and less of more and more.  And what is left is out of whack.

But it isn’t just about birds, bees and bull kelp.  Some of it is obvious and of interest to all but the naturally disengaged and the truly stupid.  YOU know this.  YOU saw it, too.  Economics went weird over the last fifteen years or so…..

I remember driving to Mexico in the fall of 2006.  We drove through California and saw great swathes of houses (ticky-tacky) spreading like a blight across the inhospitable dessert.  In itself, that is not any more insane than building anywhere inhospitable but the prices were also INSANE!!!  They were being advertised in 2006 for ‘starting at’ $499,000 (Californian minimum wage was, I believe, five dollars an hour).  Close to one hundred miles from any town, crap houses in the dessert were (presumably) selling for way, way more than anyone could possibly afford – especially in the numbers being built.  I did the math in my head.  I did the amortization in my head.  I did the driving to and from work in my head.  “Sal.  This is insane.  Mark my words.  THIS IS INSANE.  Something is wrong with the system.  This does not compute.  This is a housing boom destined to fail BIG time.”  

And, of course, the bank’s sub-prime debacle of 2007/2008 played out and almost brought that ‘which was too big to fail’ to it’s knees.  But it was plain to see.  It was right in front of us as we drove past.  Okay, okay . . . I did not know sub-prime from tranches, credit default swaps from CDOs.  I didn’t know the details, the jargon, the industry and the big government LIES but ………..that it was all adding up to a BIGGER LIE – that was clear to anyone.

BIG LIES show up if you open your eyes wide enough.

Here’s another one…..and this is the main one (personal level) for me, really…..a few years ago, I could buy an inverter generator for less than a nice dinner out with Sally at a fancy place (almost still can).  THAT was truly crazy.  Hard, metal, complicated, high tech stuff for the same price as a dinner?  STUFF was coming in from CHINA so cheap that it seemed like a huge ‘proportional value’ mistake was being made on their part.

Hell, you could get crap from China shipped free that cost one-fifth what a similar North American made product cost and the shipping itself, within our continent, was more than the price of the Chinese product!  My sense of value was turned on it’s head.   ‘How does that make any sense?’

The system was broke.

The system is broke.

AND (it finally caught up with us) we broke the environment.  We broke the climate.  We broke the economy and, unless I am guessing wrong, we broke democracy a long time ago, too.  In many ways, it is currently a free-fall free-for-all, dystopian system that, while it is all still connected, is also currently rapidly disconnecting.  See Trump dissemble.  See Trump dismantle.  See Trump destroy.

See the confused and angry masses………….

We’re in a serious adjustment phase.

And it’s too late, baby now, it’s too late…… (Carole King)

France is revolting.  In fact, Belgium got a little ticked as well.  Greece, too.  It seems the deplorables are rising up in Europe these days.  And, that is not even counting England and Brexit.    Or Fox News watchers.  In several ways, they are all right-on (sadly, mostly alt-right).  But it’s all a bit too late…..

The Yellow-vests demonstrated initially to protest France’s carbon tax levied on gasoline (petrol).  On the face of it: non progressive.  Billed as a way to ‘the GREEN’ future, the government did what all governments do….tax the poor to ‘ostensibly’ improve their lives.  The rabble didn’t buy it.  They took to the streets in that time honoured way to loot shops, flip cars and throw crap at police.

Brilliant strategy.  Primal, I guess.  Funny how breaking windows and setting fire to things is our preferred mode of expressing anger publicly…..?

But, as it turns out, the rebellion has some REAL demands as well as just screaming in pain.  NOT having a united front nor having a recognized leadership, they still managed to shout out real, visceral-level, basically smart demands.  “No carbon tax!  BUT DO take up GREEN initiatives!  We want to live!  We want a healthy planet!  We want equality!”

C’mon….give ’em credit!  Those demands (3) are way more intelligent than ‘Lock ‘er up‘ or, ‘Build the wall!’  Or my personal favourite, ‘Kill the lawyers!’

Seems they are NOT against the cost of fuel so much as a list of things that are making life too damn hard.  And they are long overdue in that.  We all are.

To give the elite their due (which should take the form of a guillotine) they just  ’employed’ a tax and a tax usually works.  Right?

Well, yes and no.  A tax on a ‘discretionary’ item like tobacco works.  Raise the price, fewer people smoke.  Same for booze.  Cheap wine and beer increases alcoholism and abuse.  It is that simple.  The correlation with price is irrefutable.  But air, water, food and, in this day and age, fuel, are essential ingredients for living.  For the modern worker, fuel is as necessary an expense as bread.   The government really should never tax the essentials.

“We want a clean planet but we also want cheap gas!”

Irreconcilable?  Not in the least.  Easy-peasy.  Cheap fuel really means cheap transportation.  That could be public transit but public transit only works in mega-hives.  It doesn’t really work in real w-o-r-k or real travel.

Switching over from fossil fuels to electricity…would that do it?  Yep.  That would take the sting out of it…except…it comes with a shock!  Who is going to give me an electric boat?  An electric truck?  A long plug-in? I am pretty fully invested in the old system.  It took all of my energy and money to buy into this one – the one that now doesn’t work!   I will buy into the new-system tools if I can work and gain the money (and live forever) but how can I work if I can’t drive my truck right now?

We’ve waited too long to get on this ‘electrification’ merry-go-round.

“So, if we hurry up and we all buy a Nissan Leaf or Tesla, will it be OK then?” 

Sadly not.  Why?  Because the deplorables are demanding more than just ‘cheap fuel’.  They want equality, too.  Plus they want air to breathe, water to drink and the planet to get healthy.  They are fed up being peons, serfs, slaves and pissants.  They are fed up saluting corrupt authority while working for peanuts.  They are fed up being part of the problem but only because they followed their leaders.

The poor are revolting.

“Dave?  Is this the start of it? The Revolution?”

I doubt it.  We’ve rebelled before.  GreenPeace.  Occupy.  Me, too.  Trump and Brexit were the start of our most recent ‘anger, annoyance and dumb-rebellion’.  And maybe the yellow-vests are a smidge more sophisticated and specific with their message than simply ‘lock ‘er up’ (hard not to be smarter than Trumpians) but anger and frustration doesn’t seem to get the job done for anyone and we are rapidly running out of time.  I really do not think the system is the mechanism by which the system gets changed.

That is why I left.

Honestly?  I am a bona fide deplorable.  Born and bred.  And I have worked for change.  I have felt the feelings of rebellion.  I have walked a few miles in anger.  But, but, but………..over time, I channeled my innate deplorableness into more personal, smaller, local battles.  I won’t bore you with my history of that but suffice to say, it was small and ineffective on any kind of scale.  NOT Bill Gates.  NOT Elon Musk.  Not even a shadow of Ralph Nader.

IMAGE: little Dutch boy with his fingers in the dike.

So, the point?  I do not see change coming through even a better supported Obama-clone or facsimile.  Certainly not by way of Putin or Xi.  I do not see change coming by way of any of the movements on the horizon or even any looming (possible exception: Ebola).  Not even by way of the Yellow-vest or the Umbrella movement (Hong Kong courage writ large).  I see the ‘way of things’ too firmly ‘in place’ for real change and, worse, I see that the system has learned to bend and absorb the energies it comes into opposition with.  There is no answer in us.

But the planet may get involved……

…..I think we shall soon see…..maybe a lot sooner than I thought.