The World According to Ziehan

I write about OTG, boats, politics, engine repairs, firewood, my wife, economics, aging….kind of an eclectic grab-bag of my daily-life thoughts. I spare you dinner recipes but they occupy more than just a bit of my mind-space, too. And, of course, now and then, I mention the dogs (almost 14 months old and still growing!). This all about someone else!

In a sec….first me, of course.…..There is no denying that I have a bit of a doomsday streak running through a lot of what I write. The End of Days kinda thing. “Git yerself a cabin in the woods if ya wanna survive the Zombie Apocalypse!” “Get out. Get OUT NOW!!!” “Climate Change is coming!” “It’s here!!!!”

I can get a little hysterical.

I’ve been trying to tone it down a bit. “The sky is falling” gets a bit lame after awhile…..altho, the sky is dropping large balloons lately…jus’ sayin’…..

I have also been up front about all that – my dramatic warnings stem from a lack of good scientific data and information, media manipulation and a healthy but unchecked imagination. I tend to believe some of the ‘others’ when they warn us and ignore the ‘stupid others’ that say otherwise – but I do not know who is who. Not really. And I am not a researcher. I mostly go on feelings, inferential scanning (unconscious observation) and whatever madness comes with getting older. I am not really much of a bona fide source of anything except, perhaps, that I acted on my feelings. But so did Evel Knievel (and his son). Feelings are not always enough.

I mention all this because I just discovered an even more obnoxious, more arrogant, prognosticator than myself and he claims to actually KNOW something. His name is Peter Ziehan and he is a Geopolitical Futurist. He is a bit hard to listen to because he likes himself a bit too much. Even worse, he speaks faster than my cerebral absorption rate. I can barely keep up. If he says something I question (or do not hear quite right) he has already said three other things before I can scramble back aboard the Ziehan train. I really should not be too critical of his style, tho. I kinda like the guy in a ‘fellow-boorish‘ kinda way.

But having ‘style’ does not mean he is wrong. And I think there is an element of logic and accuracy to what he is saying. He is saying that the last 35 years have been mankind’s most enriching, most peaceful, most cooperative and most productive years in world history.

And they are now over.

And that Golden era was because of a few key things: The US kept international shipping lanes, safe. Globalization allowed countries, with only one or two things to offer for trade, to get other products and so further develop themselves. It was that new global trading synergy that created new markets and floated all boats. Plus we (mostly First World (FW) but including 2nd and eventually third world countries, too) had the labour and a system to make good use of it – i.e. Capitalism and the baby boomers.

He is big on Geography, too. Geography is and was a destiny definer throughout history. Still a huge factor for him. And, as an aside, he thinks the USA (the NAFTA zone, actually) enjoys the best geography in the world. It is the only large geographical entity that can run wholly independent of other countries. (There are a few other small ones that have the ‘right stuff’ like New Zealand and France.) Most countries NEED to still trade with FW foreign devils so as to better develop their burgeoning and infant societies. North America can continue on with just domestic devils.

He also notes that globalization is in retreat. The USA is backing away from being the world’s policeman. Nation states (autocrats) are re-asserting isolation/independence to their own and everyone’s detriment. He claims China is almost done, primarily due to population imbalance, Covid, poor soil, autocracy and trade dependence. He claims Russia is done. The Middle East is unsustainable without free trade — they don’t grow food! You need good geography, properly-balanced demographics, robust and varied agriculture and across-the-board industry – only the US has all that in abundance.

Covid exacerbated all that was going to become a disaster anyway as nations fade into oblivion caused by their aging populations and/or bad management. The Russia Ukraine war and climate change is adding to the deglobalization trend. We are all, it seems, downsizing — some quicker and more catastrophically than others.

But the biggest negative influence on the status quo is the aging of the First world. Consumption is falling. Workers are retiring. Capital is constricted. There are not enough young people to replace the retirees and the immigrants who are younger are not as skilled or integrated. Growth has been ruled out. Do not even hold your breath for the status quo.

We are doomed!

Well……..we are doomed to ‘transition’, anyway. Change is underway. BIG CHANGE is underway. HUGE CHANGE IS UNDERWAY. Maybe it will turn out to be a blessing?

In fact, Ziehan says this month is a bit of a reveal. It seems February 2023 is when the Baby Boomers wave of retirement really peaks. And transition time is for a long period, probably…well….it is hard to say…..because we do NOT know what we are transitioning to……but he figures it will take a two or three generations at least to sort out the new ‘world order’. It won’t be an easy transition and he has stated that those fifty years or so will experience great hardship and many countries and populations will go without what we have all come to expect. Life will get harder. Food choices reduced. Food volumes reduced. Trade and wealth around the world will drop. Much of the world will regress, devolve……

Ziehan makes me look like Mr. Sunshine.

So…let the sun shine in….he has not factored in robots, artificial intelligence, ingenuity or even technology — not really. He has not opined that Gaia might appreciate a rest and recuperation period as populations fall and abuse lessens. He has not considered the rise of the few countries that have young populations (sub-Saharan and South America) or those youngish, such as India and some SE Asian countries. There should be a lot less war (again, fewer young people). Nor has he considered the one aspect of our species that has served us the best – adaptability.

Regardless…Ziehan has entered the conversation with a new perspective…..something to think about.

Reflections on getting old

Observation #1. After turning 70, just for fun, try NOT reflecting on getting old. Can’t be done. Firstly, getting old makes itself known all the time – once you hit 70. 70 is a big year. You just naturally reflect on getting old rather than trying to deflect it.

But, I have to admit, getting old is, well for me, getting kinda old. I am bored of it. Been at it for five years now. And others my age aren’t helping much. It seems to take nothing before a group of best-before-dated oldies start to discuss all their ailments and pains. By the time the conversation gets going several have nodded off and I just wander away. Old age is just NOT that interesting.

Observation #2. Oldies also talk of ‘popping off’ or ‘buying the farm’ or ‘leaving this mortal coil’ a lot. Which, I suppose, is mentally healthy but, upon (that annoying habit of) reflecting, must have another purpose…I think… Some really old geezers I know always want to discuss their ‘going away’ as if planning and discussing are their way of accepting it….? Or maybe they just want a party?

At first, I used to just say to them, “Oh, Hell, man, sure you are old and decrepit but you’ve been old and decrepit a long time. Since your early thirties, actually. I am sure you are still just half way along some old, boring and dusty road. Discussions of your imminent termination are premature. Hell, you can still buy green bananas, take out a mortgage, date some young thing and pick out baby names. Buck up!”

But that wasn’t always quite the right thing to say – especially if they were in hospice or otherwise utilizing more tubes than just a CPAP machine. I was not as sensitive to the topic in the past, perhaps, as I should have been (too late now to fix some of those discussions I am afraid). I must confess to empathizing more these days even if I am a bit late.

Observation #3. God. God comes up now where, before, God was just some silly church-invented concept that smart people rejected as a crutch for sheeple believing in fairy tales. Today? Not so much. The biggest converts in my social circle are my Jewish friends. They were all so very hip and intellectual when young. They were non-Jews, modern Jews, Reform Jews, Atheists and newly practicing Buddhists who saw the light in yoga. Now, well, Synagogue is on the weekly schedule. So is Shabbat dinner, and a lot of old rituals have gained a place for them between doctors appointments.

That is also kinda true for my Asian friends who, for reasons unexplained are now attending Protestant churches. When asked why, the typical response is, “Well, you never know. Best to spread your bets.”

The white guys haven’t changed much. Still heathens, pagans and barbarians although there is the occasional reference to the Great Spirit or the Spirit Bear Rainforest or some kind of gobbledygook. Gaia comes up now and then amongst the few ex-hippies.

My indigenous friends don’t talk at all about it but they do kinda listen and roll their eyes and walk away looking for a drum to beat or something.

Me? Oh, I have been a believer in something unifying for a long time and so there’s nothing too new for me on that score. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) envisioned a great spiritual pool into which your eternal essence (soul) was eventually poured to mingle amongst the trillions of others and I like that image.

Observation #4. I am getting ripped off a lot. No one is really cheating me directly. The fault lies with me. I have been eligible for senior’s discounts for twenty years in some cases. Definitely for the last ten years. I just never ask. I just don’t think about it. It’s irritating…in the same way NOT winning the lottery is irritating. I never buy a ticket but, damn…..

Observation #5. Sleep. Blessed, elusive, erratic, undependable, geriatric sleep. What an irritant disrupted sleep is! If I sleep well, things get done, Sal gets kissed, the dogs get walked and I help out with dinner. No sleep? Everyone pays a price. Sadly, good sleep is getting more and more infrequent. I guess the great spirit pool expects me to catch up when I have officially left the building and gotten into the great public pool.

Observation #6. Movies. Good ol’ hero type, wise-cracking, shoot-em-ups are getting too real and gritty now. Andaa sappy Morgan Freeman playing God bugs me. The producers have moved away from space movies, which I still really like, and rom-coms are just plain stupid now. I guess what I am saying is that age has made me so much more picky now and that I am not even happy with Netflix. That’s annoying because Netflix was my retirement plan.

Observation# 7. Travel. I still have the bug but it is an ant now. I am easily crushed by airports, security, epidemics and Tourista. I have kinda gone soft. I’ll still chicken-bus but only if they have air-conditioning and the driver doesn’t play local salsa loudly on a tinny portable player. Some chicken buses still do that. I tend to pay the extra pesos for the quiet ones now. I know that I have a few trips left in me and I think logic suggests the sooner the better but, damn!, y’all know what’s going on out there!!?? If I can wait for an air conditioned bus, I can wait for the epidemic, revolution, cartel shoot-out, war and general corruption to subside a bit, can’t I?

Observation #8. They were wrong about wisdom. I am older. But I am not wiser. I used to know everything. Now I know nothing. The only thing I know for sure is that I am where I want to be with the one I want to be with and we eat and drink well together.

I may have to work on my Netflix plan.

How to kill a nation: Flushing wealth and killing critical thinking

(I am 75 and, in all those years, there has been no story bigger than Climate Change, the Ukraine/Russian War, the Trump years and, of course, Covid. History includes some whoppers but none in my lifetime. There have been a few of almost equal import but they -Vietnam, birth control pill, Polio vaccine, hippies, computers – came at us one at a time. Maybe the rise of China is the biggest of all but so far it is not the baddest. Today we have the unprecedented assault of four major negative influences in our life and they are all very, very bad. So, the following blog verges on a rant and then becomes one in all it’s full-blown glory)

Russia is swirling the drain. Their one-year war with Ukraine has cost them trillions ($9T) of dollars and well over 100,000 dead. The official number is 135,000. Those guys are defining a new slang term: dumpster fire-diving. As of today, Russia has lost 294 planes, 284 helicopters, 461 missile launchers, 18 ships and boats, 3245 tanks and the equivalent of all that again in heavy trucks, troop carriers, drones, artillery and the like. This is a country with a GDP that is not even quite the equal of Canada’s!……about $1.7T.

And we do not even HAVE 100,000 soldiers in our entire armed forces! Put another way: with 3.5 times the population, Russia produces less than what Canada produces and it is currently spending their already strained and limited resources like a desperate gambler at a cheap casino. They have literally blown five times their normal GDP in one year and normal GDP is now out of the question.

None of the above even factors in all the sanctions, restrictions, assets frozen and punitive actions taken against them in a non-military way by Europe/Nato countries nor does it count the 700,000 ‘fighting-age’ men who fled the country to avoid conscription.

This war-with-their-cousins has gutted their economy, drained their military, emptied the coffers and has sent almost a million working men away (by way of wounding, death and desertion). They have even managed to make themselves more vulnerable than ever before by prompting several otherwise neutral countries to join NATO, their perceived arch enemy.

Guys! That is real world-changing news.

Had the US or NATO launched a purposeful, planned war with Russia, they could not have achieved more disruption and destruction in one year – if they could have done even half! Putin has basically, single-handedly proven to be history’s most inept leader in almost every way but domestic bullying of the citizenry (and, of course, he is a thief on a much higher scale than Marcos or Duvalier). Major bully, voracious thief, rotten citizen and a very, very poor leader.

(….rant approaching….) I never thought I would say it but Putin is worse for his country than any leader before him in history and part of that is simply because of him having the assets and the people to squander….and then squandering them all in record time.

Russia is commiting suicide.

Lest anyone think NATO and the USA is unaware of this ongoing self-destruct ‘putton’, be advised, this war was a gift to them they accepted without qualms or conscience. They know it is a death knell for Russia and they are helping Ukraine just enough to keep it going. In effect, a family dispute is taking a major threat to NATO out of the way. And the cost to NATO is minimal. A few tanks, a few missiles, a few adjustments for heating fuel……and a nation-killing war is being waged and won without anyone ‘cept the cousins getting hurt.

“Dave, we are being helpers and humanitarians to Ukraine! Aren’t we?”

Yes/no we are/aren’t. Yes, but not so much that we make it end. Not so much that we provide a definitive advantage to Ukraine. Not as much as we should for the sake of humanity. We are just helping Ukraine deplete and defeat Russia but not too quickly. Timing is everything. The longer the better. The pace of our intervention, the amount of our assistance and even the type of weapons we give is all strategic. And strategically minimalized. ‘We need to serve our needs first’ is the policy. Ukraine can be sacrificed and likely will be.

NATO’s strategy is NOT so much to assist Ukraine to win but rather to have Russia beaten to a pulp. If both Ukraine and Russia were left in a smoldering heap of dead amongst the rubble and ruin, NATO would consider it a complete victory. No guilt whatsoever. If Ukraine survives, all the better to assist them (with loans and contractors) in expanding into NATO. And this cold-blooded strategy appears to be working.

(….rant has arrived...) This war may go down in history as the most Machiavellian conflict since, well, Machiavelli. The Russian Ukraine War is BIG news (however, it is less and less reported on) – especially from the perspective of history-making. This is nation-killing writ large.

Covid is also that kind of BIG news (hardly being reported on at all these days). Climate Change is really, really big, too (but we just get the weather reports)……

Oh, and one more thing….the Chinese balloon-thing is a nothing-burger. Countries have been floating balloons over each other forever. It’s nothing. It’s not even nothing…it is a distraction. It is, in effect, a type of lie. It is a ‘talking point’ for idiots. A single satellite pass provides more in depth ‘spy’ information than does a dozen balloons floating for a week.

“Unh, Dave! Why would you even say that right now and what makes you an international intelligence expert?”

Firstly, no expertise is required. All this is common knowledge (ever since Gary Powers and the U2 mission) – it is just that it doesn’t seem that many know it. Secondly, it is truly a talking point distraction. It also – oddly – covers up a lot of good Biden-related USA news (inflation coming down, more employment than in the past 50 years, environmental progress, infrastructure investment, industry advancement, improved international relations, etc.). Why is that…….

(Ta da! And now for the weird part of the RANT!)

The media is seemingly doing it to us all (or NOT doing it) – by lying on purpose or by omission and distraction. ON PURPOSE! They are not reporting on Russia to the extent that we should know. They ARE reporting on China (not a thing). The current balloon hysteria is just another part of the great disinformation underway.

There is an intentional, perverted, misleading of the public on so many things large and trivial and yet, even when it is obvious and important (Ukraine kicking Russia’s butt and Biden making domestic and international progress) they still keep lying/distracting us and it all still seems to work……but working for what?

What I have no clue about is why.….why lie, obfuscate, mislead and distract? Why emphasize a nothingness balloon and NOT explain and analyze on a real issue – Russia? Why is Kim Kardashian’s butt a topic in the news? Or Tom Brady retiring? Or Beyonce’s dress? Why does everything seem to be a lie or a distortion or a distraction?

Even more vexing is why are some very important things left out? Could it possibly be as simple as just keeping the News Cycle churning? Is lying a ‘filler’ – the way to keep the News industry economically healthy?

My rant distilled into a sentence? Even doing a lot of reading and even adding in some critical thinking… is impossible to know the truth about much of anything anymore and….I think that is – somehow and for some reason – on purpose.

Come the Zombie Apocalypse…or, has it already started?

As of 2022, it is estimated that just over 3,000,000 ‘Mericans live in their vehicle full time (most are living alone). That’s almost 1% of the population. Most modern countries also have around 30% of the adult population living alone in conventional housing. If you add in the official estimate of urban homeless in the USA, it is at least another 600,000 (most are alone). And it seems these same estimators guess that approximately 250,000 people live off-the-grid lifestyles that are fixed on land (fewer of those people are alone). Based on the number of YouTubes and blogs, I think there are more OTG’ers than that……

That’s a lot of lonely people.

Canada has almost 300 official communities (100+ in the north) that are ‘off-the-grid’, off-the-conventional-grid, anyway. Approximately 200,000 people live in-community like that. They might have a community generator, community well and have seasonal road access but, for the most part, they are NOT plugged into national, provincial or even regional district ‘grids’. Nor are they plugged into the larger communities. They are small groups of alone people.

But, then again, so many OTG’ers I am aware of are not living in-community at all. They live remote, maybe in a small clutch near others but, for all comparable intent, they are totally independent and very much alone. I cannot guess…but I will…say another 50,000 for Canada?

I mean…for example, those (in our area) are not in-community in any measurable/conventional way with shared roads, stores, water or power (but we do have a two-room school)….everyone out here is independent of everyone else (but we share a few random community docks now and then) and each home is standing at least one square kilometer apart (but we occasionally help one another)…so….I dunno….alone or not alone? Whatever the right answer is: we are not close and crowded.

Canada has an official estimate of 235,000 people also living homeless and, given that we are somewhat comparable to the US in many ways, I am guessing we have at least 100,000 living in vehicles (our climate likely reduces the usual statistical comparison rate of 10% of the numbers in the US).

Bottom line: a lot of people (tens of millions) are off the radar, off the grid, off the count-sheet and many are living alone and remote. In fact, Statistics Canada estimates almost one-in-three Canadians also live alone in urban areas! That’s incredible to me. That’s 10% of the population or almost 4 million live alone in Canada. In the USA, it is 38 million.

“Dave! What’s your point?”

I do not know what my point is or even what it should be but it seems to me that a society, a civilization, particularly our Western culture that has so many left out, opted out or not even counted; a society that has so many ‘barely included’, a huge number of those not-alone but living lonely lives (apartment dwellers not knowing their neighbours) all suggests that it is not a healthy society in which to live happily. If you adjust those numbers for those in jail, those who are newly arrived immigrants, illegal migrants, those obsessing over careers and fame and money, it feels as if there is no real, bona fide social society….well, not to me, anyway.

Put more bluntly: I think we may be seeing the emergence of the vanguard of the alienated (VA). The VA are an emerging subset?

The VA are, so far, not a thing (I kind of made it up)…not a big topic in the media, not a big category in the numbers or stats or data. Marketers aren’t aiming at them. The closest this phenomena has come to being a mainstream topic was Nomadland (a 2020 pseudo documentary starring Francis McDormand) and the advent of solar panels. But I think they will become an official ‘category’ soon enough. Furthermore, with Covid, working from home, telecommuting and the gig economy, the numbers are increasing every year.

People are checking out….one way or another…..

I am just musing here….but maybe the nomads and the lonely, the isolated and the remote, the OTG’ers and the gig-economy workers are the real life versions of the oft imagined/referenced Zombies in the imagined Zombie Apocalypse? I mean…if I am one of them, I am a happy Zombie but I am definitely not fully engaged in the society as a ‘regular’. And, it turns out, I am not alone. There could be as many as 50M VAs in North America alone.

Orson Welles once said:We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.

Today he might add.…..”and it seems that our force for love and friendship is currently waning.”

Opposite of a pig in a python

The image of a pig in the python was/is a term indicating a bulge in numbers or, I suppose, a python’s stomach after a big-pig dinner. The best example we most commonly use is the baby boom following the second world war. The population quickly ‘bulged’ and continued that extra demographic girth for a couple of decades. Officially from 1946 to 1964.

It is interesting to note that, while the official baby boom was almost twenty years, the extra babies themselves then had babies and so the bulge did not just end, it tapered off. In effect, the boom ‘echoed’ and the next generation was often called the echo boom.

It’s a visual concept. A way of understanding an otherwise hard to measure phenomena.

So, imagine this…you see a large python slithering by and, like most snakes, you expect to see a long, rather conventionally snake-shaped body, like a soft tube. There may or may not be a bit of a bulge in the middle depending on the snakes dietary routine. But, lo and behold! This snake slithers by and there, in the middle, where it most definitely should not be, is a narrowing, a snake venturi, so to speak. Our python has a debutante’s waist!

And that is what is happening in some schools today. Maybe most. Fewer kids are attending full time and many of them are staying away in droves. And they have been somewhat AWOL for almost two years now. Many still attend but some are likely being home-schooled, others are pursuing other educational interests, others might just come and go but not attend classes consistently and still others may simply use it as an excuse to practice street hookey. However it shows up, they are just NOT showing up in the normal numbers at the normal times.

Covid, of course, is the main reason. The government dropped the enforcement of attendance mandate for the pandemic (May, 2020) and have not reinstated it (it is kind of nebulous anyway because home schooling counts as attendance if it is registered). As a consequence, a remarkable number of kids are not only NOT attending school, an even larger amount are ‘off sick’ a lot, absent, part-time and, in one local school nearby, some of the kids only go to class one day a week…..presumably to get the next weeks work assignments…but who really knows?

A few teachers I know are suggesting that some of the kids have already fallen so far behind, they have likely lost a whole year and are now working on the second. We may see 14 year olds in elementary school. Kids graduating high school at 20. Covid put a wrinkle in the school-time continuum.

On top of this wrinkle is a Nikiforuk. Andrew Nikiforuk, to be precise. A reporter with the Tyee. Andy is concerned that we have taken our eye off the Covid/Omicron ball and the epidemic is not getting better. It is, in fact, getting worse. Whatever chaos and havoc wreaked by Covid is still happening and, due to increased viral mutations, only going to get worse under the Omicron title.

We got sick. We got vaxxed. We stayed home. We wore masks. And all hell still broke out anyway. 50,000 died in Canada. 1.12M died in the USA. Supply chains broke. China came to a halt. And then along came Omicron and the cavalcade of variants. There are over 700 sub-variants listed today. Despite what everyone official is saying (or NOT saying) the pandemic is not over.

As an image-symbol of the disease, we have the narrow-waisted python picture representing school attendance. We also had the ‘supply chain’ constriction for products, food and other supplies which might resemble similar snake-imagery. And then we had inflation (which interferes with numbers). Inflation ran at 6% last year and is projected to be 7% this year. And, of course, they lie about it all (i.e I cannot find an official statement about school attendance records). And all that in just over two years.

Covid is still at work disrupting things. Andrew posits that it is now a different disease scenario and no one really knows what it is going to look like. One thing is for sure, tho……it is NOT going away. Read Andrew at

Follow-up Further research yielded:

Legally, all children in B.C. must receive an education. But as a parent, you do have some flexibility about what that looks like. The province encourages you to enroll your children as you would normally, and have them attend classes.

The education ministry says school districts have flexibility to find options that work for families.

However, you can explore online or distributed learning (hybrid learning sources) if you’re concerned about your kids physically attending school. Those are available both within the public and private systems, and you can enroll your child in distributed schools outside your home district. Distributed learning classes are offered at 56 public schools throughout the province, in addition to 16 independent schools.

There’s also the homeschooling option which is basically up to you — no requirements or inspections. But even homeschooled children have to legally be registered with the province by Sept. 30.

Superintendents who receive a report of a child not registered for school of one form or another are legally obligated to investigate.

My bad habits….

……the kind that I cannot help but continue to practice. No, not scotch-drinking. I can stop and start scotch. I can stop and start sugar. I even went vegan a couple decades back to see if it would make me healthier – I ended up in hospital with a gallbladder attack. (The doctor in the ER asked me, :”You didn’t do something stupid like go vegan all of a sudden, did you?”). I got me some bad habits but most of ’em I got under control.

But not when it comes to ‘projects’. Man, I gotta get me some professional help when it comes to projects. Help me stop dreamin’ ’em up, listing ’em and most of all help me get ’em done. I am on the verge of being outta control on projects.

But there is more than just new projects. Way, way, way more. I won’t bore you with the list of things I have NOT done nor will I bore you with the supplies I have bought that still sit in their shipping boxes. Suffice to say, I have a few…..

But, wait, there’s even more of the great UNDONE! We are starting to get in the supplies for a new water line. I have measured and plan to order soon all the lumber for the new stairs and some deck repair. There are the finishing tasks on the new boat still to do….I am planning on building a room under the house to freeze-proof the plumbing…and then, of course, install a heating system….

Last year (maybe the one before!) I fixed up a spring box and with help, got it up the trail to the head of the stream for placement. But getting it there was a long task and more pieces needed to come and some site prep needed doin’….and, well, the spring box still sits by the stream bank waiting to be placed. That’s really bad.

I have one generator half apart……

The island vehicle could use some attention…..the boats will need bottom painting….the garden soon….maybe a third cistern…..

….I am currently repairing some kerosene heaters (cannibalizing three that do not work to make up two working ones)….but it is currently too cold to repair the heaters out in the shop…

None of the above refers to all the tidying, inventorying, organizing that also needs doing or the daily-life chores that keep popping up…like…well, daily!


Yesterday some Amazon packages came. That used to be good news. Now they present a storage problem, a cardboard disposal problem, a plan of action problem…..(help me)…..

One of the packages is rivnuts. I intended to re-affix my Pathfinder’s roof rack…you know….someday…when, like, I am over on the neighbouring island where it’s parked and I happen to have my tools with me and nothing else to do. Rivnuts are very cool. I got stainless ones because they are likely to sit around for a long time. I have so much else to do, ya know?

Dodging a bullet….?

The Polar Vortex is an area of low pressure and even lower temperatures that generally stick around the poles and heavily influence winter weather. The North Polar (Arctic) Vortex has danced around a bit over the past few years and gone ‘off centre’ now and then dipping as far south as the continental US. This year, it has danced more often and, recently, set or tied a record for cold in Siberia. Zhilinda hit -62.7C. It is currently just passing Japan and South Korea after dumping a lot of snow and making everything colder than usual.

Our North American forecasters are predicting the vortex to slowly move east over the next week or so and they have been predicting major snowfalls from the Rockies east to the Atlantic and as far south as even the Carolinas. BC usually fares better than our latitude-comparables inland because we are on the coast and the Pacific moderates the temperatures significantly. Still, we got real cold (for us) in November and they are suggesting it is going to happen again within days. Temperatures are predicted to go as low as 23-25F(-3/-5C) at night for a few nights and maybe doing it again a few days from now.

I have been in the Yukon when it was -40C and I have been in Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal when it was cold enough to freeze your nose hair into little pins. The BC coast does not get as cold by-the-numbers but it feels just as cold sometimes due to the wind and the high moisture content. You can crunch around amongst the dazzling whitescape of a -25C Calgary day and enjoy the walk with your dog. You stay home on Vancouver Island when it is -10C and the dog won’t leave the house.

But the weather guys may have erred. I have been watching the weather and the Vortex and it appears to be re-centering a bit back towards the pole. What threatened to be a larger vortex dip seems to be a shrinking, going-back-north dip from the pictures I can find. If that is the case, we may have dodged a freezing bullet. What was predicted last week to be 23F was – last night – just below freezing (about 29F). That likely would have been handled by the stupid, little, undependable heat tapes I have been employing until lately. And tonight gets the same prediction but this time it may be right because today is much colder than yesterday. Still, our cold snap may be of much shorter duration and considerably less intensity.

“Dave! Only dorks talk about the weather! What the hell……?”

You are right. I get it. But sorry, NOT sorry. There is an OTG point to all this…..(just not much of a point but it is all I got). Here it is: As mentioned previously, OTG’ers are much more aware of weather, moisture and wind and how that will affect their day. They also consider the tides (timing and height) in those calculations as well if they are on the coast. We are also very conscious of the angle of the sun (for solar panel efficiencies), the time of the day (without a watch) and the life and actions of wildlife and even so-called civilized life. We have become extremely aware of our surroundings without being particularly aware of barometric pressure numbers, actual wind speed, actual temperatures or the humidity….it is rather as if we have integrated or become ‘one’ with all that sort of thing.

Scary weather predictions are like a slap in the face. They are getting our attention in a more formal way than our senses give us. When our senses parallel what is or is soon about to happen, it just feels like a double-check on things. But when the official, NASA, computer-based modelling and subsequent predictions conflict with our (my) sense, I tend to get involved. I try and sort out the discrepancy. It’s in my nature….

Last week we got ‘scary news’ about the Vortex. Day time highs around freezing. Night time lows ten degrees lower. Four to six days. We were gonna freeze our butts off, burn tons of wood, freeze all the pipes and use half frozen jerry-totes for water. Damn! It was gonna be horrible! But…but…but…. my ‘sense of it’ was in dissonance with the official warnings.

Still, don’t be a fool, when in doubt, take the more conservative path!

So we made sure our cisterns were full, drained the plumbing, filled the totes and brought them in along with some extra firewood. We were ready.

My ‘guts’ and my bad knee tell me that we will get a few below freezing nights and they will be short bursts (just a few hours) and that we did not need to prepare beyond the silly heat tape stage. But we did.

I may be right. I may be wrong. What I found so interesting was that I am so ‘in tune’ with it all that I was mentally debating with NASA, Environment Canada and Accuweather. Without instruments of any kind…..

…we’ll see how this works out. One thing is for sure – right or wrong, I am rectifying the whole plumbing system this coming year so that we can handle everything thrown at us to at least -15C. After that, I go to Argentina.


I was more right than I was wrong. This morning we put the water system back in operation and took a nice long shower. That meant only two days of ‘no water’ instead of five or six and our stove-wood-burn rate, tho a smidge more, is still on course for a normal January. So……. the lesson learned? Not much, really. Even if my guts and experience tell me the authorities and experts are wrong, I will likely take the safer route and do what’s needed for a worst case scenario. That’s just life. But every area is somewhat of a micro-area to some extent and we, being on the water, cognizant of the wind speed and direction and knowing our ‘neighbourhood’ better than does Environment Canada is confidence building. Relaxing. More and more the fear, concern and worry is lessened by just knowing in our bones what is really going on out here.

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 – 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.


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?