Attitude is everything

A summer cold conceived in Hell has befallen me.  I’m a drooling, leaking, coughing idiot – and still with a list of chores to challenge the Army Corps of Engineers.  And, of course, I blame Sal for this ridiculous circumstance.  She contracted the cold and then, drawn to my alluring charms, kissed me full on the lips and the die (both meanings of the word) was cast. Our current mucous levels are like the forest fire danger board – EXTREME.

“So, waddya wanna do today?  We’ve accomplished next-to-nothing this past week.  We gotta get on it.”

“Whatever, sweetie.  Whatever you want, I’m in.  Just don’t count on me being quick.  Don’t count on me for long.  And don’t count on me thinking, either.  I can’t seem to focus well.”

“Well, that leaves out plumbing.  Right now, plumbing seems like brain surgery.  Let’s just drag logs to the storage rack.  Like oxen.”

“Sounds good.”

I mention that because Sal has always maintained that ‘attitude is everything’.  She truly has the best attitude of anyone I know.  And I have always preached ‘moderation in all things’.  Log hauling today is the result of those values.

According to a book I read decades ago, we all remember only one clear thing our parents ever taught us.  Since I didn’t recall anything, I made up, ‘moderation in all things’ and repeated that phrase a lot to my kids.

They don’t seem to recall.

Turns out, they do remember a few things and most of them are not what I intended.  “I remember you used to pay us a dime for every dead mosquito we brought you!”  Oh well, Sal’s mantra helps with all that.

Actually I do remember my father giving me ‘street-fighting’ advice that paid off handsomely.  “If you find yourself in a situation that feels threatening and ugly and is looking like it may come down to a fight, it already is one.  Know that early and you have a chance.” 

That advice was repeated in marine terms in the books I read on sailing, “If you are thinking about putting a reef in the main, if the idea that the wind might be too much crosses your mind, you are already a few minutes late.  Get on it!”

I know those are just musings but, except for politics, I got nothing. Been laid low by germs, don’t you know?

But here’s something: There is a book review organization in the USA.  They seem to aim for the ‘senior’ market.  Sal wrote them and suggested they review our book.  Initially, they liked the idea.  But, when they understood that the book had two Canadians and some Mexicans running from Trump’s immigration policies, they backed away.  “We don’t want to recommend partisan books.”

It’s their call, of course.  They can do as they please.  But we kept MAGA TRUMP crap to a minimum and, basically, made ‘bad mindset and prejudice’ the villain.  Our most-liked character was a Trump voter.  Our really bad guys were REAL criminals.  But, they judged the book by it’s cover and chose to ‘play it safe’.

Seems one of the first casualties of war is truth.  A second is ‘free speech’ and a third is ‘hiding and being in fear and denial’.  I want to write back to her and say, “If you think your freedom to speak your mind is threatened, if you are afraid to say what you want, if you fear the neighbours beside you, you have already begun an internal civil war and you are already losing!” 

Not exactly a successful marketing technique.

 

Interesting dilemma…..a first world problem

As regular readers know, we often go away in the winter.  Not long.  Two months, tops.  Try to get outa Dodge for the bleakest time….January, February.  Once in a while we just stay put.  It’s OK. Not great.  But OK.  Mostly.  But, by February you really NEED some sun and so inevitably we commit to ‘not staying‘ the next year when we feel that way.

 

‘Course after traveling for the next two winters and all that that entails (passports, insurance, expense, airports, etc), we usually pledge to ‘try again stayin’ at home the next year and so our pattern has become two or three away, one stay…….two away…one more stay….

…..kinda wishy washy.  We don’t really know WHAT we want……(poor babies)

But travel has become worse as everyone knows.  Or, maybe I have gotten worse.  Whatever.  The airports are a horror show and the cost of it all is increasing as is the risk, the paperwork, medical insurance goes up as I get older and blah, blah, blah…

So, this year I’m back to contemplating sticking in the mud.  “I don’t think I want to travel this winter, Sal.  Lost the bug.  Lost my patience for it all.  Waddya say to staying home this year?”

“I’ll go buggy.  OK, buggie-ER.  Unless I can get in a lot of quilting……entertain….shop frequently….maybe if you move into the workshop….maybe it could work.”

“OK.  But let’s not fly, OK?  I am real sick of flying……”

Fine.  So, we drive to Arizona then?”

“That’s MAGA central.  I dunno…. I mean, the people are generally OK and all that but…..geez…I kinda feel like never going to the USA ever again, ya know?  Kinda..  I mean, that’s crazy, right?  But I wanna write off the whole country.  It is now too expensive.  A bit too violent at times.  Pretty bloody police-state-like, has a polarized population and a few too many government horror stores don’t you think?  I just think we should avoid the whole damn place for awhile.  And other friends are saying the same thing.”

“OK.  No flying.  Flying is out.  NO USA.  USA is out.  Where are you suggesting for next January, Nunavut?”

“Well, that’s an option but not if sunshine, warmth and beaches are on the agenda.  You are gonna have to get more creative.”

“Sail to Hawaii?”

“Now you’re talking!  But open ocean sailing isn’t our thing anymore and doing it across the Pacific in the winter is not advised for the sane or the elderly.”

“It’s a dilemma, alright.  What are we gonna do?  Quilting or Arizona?  You sleeping in the workshop on in a cheap hotel in Peru?  I’d love entertaining all through the winter if you’ll do all the prep, the drinks and the dishes.”

“You’re good at narrowing the options.  I’ll give you that.”

Guatemala 1970’s

 

July 29 and the world is on fire

I do not have to tell you about the heatwave currently being universally suffered right across the northern hemisphere. If you don’t follow the news, you likely live here and can feel it for yourself.  It’s hot, it’s getting hotter and they say it is only going to get worse year after year.

I am going to buy an air conditioner.

I am going to buy a single 12,000 btu mini-split knowing it is half of what I need to be cool.  That will be about $1500 and I have to install it myself.  I am being frugal.  And that’s because a 12K unit is still 120 volts and a 24K is 220 volts.  And so far, I am living reasonably well with nothing.  Not even a fan.  Half what they say we need might be sufficient.  For awhile, anyway.  We insulated well.  When the temp overwhelms my soon-to-be-added 12K, I will add a second one.

This is not usually an interesting topic – and it still may NOT be – but I mention this because of all the appliances out there, a/c is the only one I can readily indulge in because most appliances are too big of an electrical draw to meet our low power draw standard.  BUT a/c is needed when the sun shines and when the sun shines, I have power to spare.  We can’t power hair dryers, electric fridges, stoves or big microwaves but we can power up ac’s in the day time like they don’t matter.

This summer is weird again….it looms like the summer a few years back when forest fires were everywhere.  We don’t have one burning right now.  But we did.  It was touch and go there for awhile but we are back to normal now.  But it feels otherwise.  There is haze.  No wind.  It feels like a forest fire is ready to hit.  It’s weird to have that fear.  Never had that one before.  But I do now.  Moreover, the kayaking public has invaded our area this year and, although mostly very good, some kayakers seem ignorant of fire conditions and surprised that people live out here.  They have campfires.  Locals go nuts.  Tensions flare.  It all adds to the feeling.

Very few whales, too.  Fewer animals all around.  Even fewer squirrels.  It’s hot.  It’s quiet and there’s an odd vibe in the air.

So, rather than dwell on the weird and the heat, I thought I’d just share some images taken by my talented daughter – the one who did the covers for our books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totally different point of view….

The world is getting better!

I got part way through FACTFULNESS, the extremely interesting new book (new-ish) by Hans Rosling and found that I had to stop reading.  He was shattering some of my constructs.  Most of them, actually.

My constructs don’t shatter easily (thus my stopping the process by stopping reading).  My constructs are hard-won.  We all have them and those that are hard-won, earned with scarring and blood-loss, are not easy to let go of.

But, of course, it is our constructs that stop us from learning and keep us experiencing everything through the same thought and belief systems we formed before the new facts were presented.  To have even a passing chance at learning, one must LET GO of one’s constructs.  Now and then, anyway.  Gotta keep ’em close but don’t hold on tight.  So many constructs serve us very well that we do not know which ones to let go of.  Or even how to loosen our grip a bit.

For instance: a very simple construct (belief) is that green light means GO and a red one means STOP.  Chucking that construct can seemingly lead to problems right?  But, it was one I had to let go of rather quickly while ‘scootering’ in Thailand a few years back.  The street was a mass of scooters and I was in the middle of the pack.  We were approaching an intersection at hell-bent speed when the light ahead went to red.  My instinct was to slow and then stop.  Nobody else’s was.  They just carried on and gave the light no notice.  Had I slowed and stopped, Sal and I might have had a typical scooter accident in Chiang Mai.  Letting that ‘stop-light’ construct go – because of immediate evidence all around me to the contrary – was a rapid-learning experience.  “Hmmmm……red lights do NOT always mean stop….who knew?” 

And that is what a construct is: a simple pattern, belief, process designed by yourself to save you from having to re-think everything every time.  Call it habit, beliefs, protocols or just plain rigid-thinking, it has it’s place.   I rarely walk into the women’s washroom, for instance.  That’s a good thing.  I drive on busy streets in almost an unconscious ‘learned-skill-pattern’ so that I can have the ‘brain-space’ to consciously react as traffic does what traffic does.  It’s a form of training.

But it is also a way to NOT THINK and we apply our constructs in everything, not just physical or reactionary situations where thinking-time saved might translate into a life saved (like traffic).  We have political constructs, world-view constructs and, of course, human behaviour constructs.  And those are not always right and, in a rapidly changing world, they are increasingly wrong.

Put it this way: if you were an American and Abraham Lincoln was the president, you might vote republican and be proud to say you did.  If you were an American in between 2008 and 2016, you might have voted for Obama and been proud to say you did.  In effect, you were voting differently for people and parties who were ‘doing the right thing’ for their time but, if you had formed a political-party construct that was ironclad, then you could NOT free yourself to vote your values, you would, instead, vote your party.  Your habit would rule, NOT your brain.  The ‘new facts of the situation’ would not allow your construct to be altered.  You would have found yourself voting for John McCain instead of Obama because of your ‘I am a Republican’ habit construct.

Which is fine, I suppose.  Freedom of choice and all that.  But Rosling posits that, with all the ‘new knowledge’ available to us, we should regularly review our constructs.  Of course, Rosling does’t say much about politics (that was my application).  Instead, he seems more interested in economics and social ‘beliefs’.

For instance, we in the first world, believe there is a first world and there is a third world and, God Knows, there is a second, developing world that is in transition from third to first. We think there is, anyway.  First world are the rich countries.  Third are the dirt poor and the second, developing world is kind of a vague, ambiguous list of countries that have Toyota Landcruisers and cell phones and we haven’t a clue who to include in that list.

Turns out that construct is old.  That is a WW2 era thinking….maybe even earlier.  The FACTS are that there are really FOUR worlds and all of them are closer than we were lead to believe when we built our construct/belief systems back in grade school.  Simply put: first world people (Canada, Britain, USA) are NOT all that far ahead of second world countries and, in some cases, the #2’s are gaining so fast that our first world relativity is about to be overtaken (China, Singapore).  Furthermore, the rest of the world does NOT live in dirt huts, herd goats and chew betel nut anymore.

Turns out 80% of the world has enough to eat, has a cell phone, the babies don’t die and the kids get an education.  There are still ‘starving children’ in some places and health care is wanting (even in Canada) and the problems still exist but the facts are that the world is much better off, the poor especially so, and the richer nations are progressing slower than are the ones catching up.

And, on and on he goes.  “Don’t worry, be happy!”

Rosling says that the ‘myths’ and beliefs we hold about the state of the world are all wrong.  He suggests factfulness.  Get the facts.  Learn ’em.  Change your mind as the information changes.  Stay out of the wrong washroom but, otherwise, be OPEN to learning.  And learn by facts!

Ironic, don’t you think?  Just as Rosling presents FACTFULNESS as the cure for what ails us, some are presenting the exact opposite.  “We have alt-facts and we intend to cure what ails us by way of getting rid of the real facts!”

To be fair to the proselytizers for ignorance, even Rosling admits that a fact one day might be proven untrue the next.  So, his answer is to be skeptical, have an open mind, be curious and question everything.

I have also noticed that some of the ‘facts’ that Rosling bases his optimistic statements on are somewhat suspect or, at least, worth examining more closely but that is still consistent with his instruction to question and be skeptical.  Rosling, I think, put a simple, smart concept regarding thinking into a simple, smart book that is easy to understand.  He said out loud what many were thinking….but hadn’t put into words.  That’s great!

But what does that do to my constructs?  Is the world still going to Hell in a handbasket?  Or not?

 

To NOT comment is a dereliction…..

Trump.

He disses his friends, he cozies up to a known criminal and thug, he is revealed as a traitor to his own country and institutions and then…then…THEN he claims he misspoke.

Which, of course, he did NOT!  He lied about misspeaking and only because his ‘advisers’ explained that he must.  They also WROTE the words he was supposed to read at today’s press briefing only to have him depart from them into unintelligible gibberish every so often.  The discrepancy between the language that was written for him and the words he spoke extemporaneously was breathtaking.  A sane person wrote words that an insane person was supposed to read.  He couldn’t do it!

I cannot dwell on Trump-the-idiot (it is boring, I know) but I can wonder where it is all headed?  Logic doesn’t play much of a role in predictions on this issue because logically he should not even be there.  Madness has prevailed in the United States for over two years (even before the election).  Clinton got almost 3 million more votes.  The Republicans have NOT reigned him in and yet they hobbled Obama.  The US – under this business tycoon stable genius – has increased world tensions, military buildup and the national debt by a staggering amount and yet the White House is talking more tax breaks and catering to dictators.  Debt and moral failure is the new Great Again?

The political and managerial contradictions keep mounting up.  What should go up, doesn’t.  What should never fall, clangs loudly on the floor.  Allies alienated.  Enemies suck-holed.  Environment disregarded.  National Parks sold.  Free Trade sabotaged.  Wall Street parties on while Main Street writhes in pain and hunger.  White supremacists pandered to. Racism and cruelty instead of hospitality and compassion for the huddled masses.  When all is turned upside down, how can anyone predict anything but catastrophic ruin?

So, is that my prediction?  Strangely, no.  America has a perverse kind of genius that underlies all that it does.  No matter what, no matter who gets hurt, or how much blood gets spilled, no matter the environmental consequences, the economic skulduggery, the international level crimes, the US makes money off of it. Somehow they get richer.

Of course, the price they pay for that is loss of respect, loss of humanity, loss of moral standing and long standing relationships rent asunder but they think it is all worth it to make a buck.  And they WILL make a buck.  And, in money they have trust.  If they have enough guns and if they have enough money, they believe they are going to do well.  Those are today’s American values and they will play out.

My prediction: this year and the next are a turning point in modern world history.  If Trumpism continues unchallenged by the so-called’ checks and balances of the US Constitution (so far not present or accounted for) then the world may shift to a significantly more dystopian state and the Judeo-Christian values we have come to believe in will be eroded beyond redemption.  If, instead, the evil emperor and his even-more evil courtiers is revealed to have no clothes and truth and fact once again have prime legitimacy along with basic human values, then it may herald a new dawning in our pathetic and incremental struggle for a morsel of enlightenment.

You know where I stand.

As far away as I can.

Golf!

I haven’t played at golf in 15 years.  I have never really played golf but there was a time when I played AT it.  I put it that way because, in my opinion, golf is the best game there is because, even as you get better, you can never win.

Oh, you can win against your other buddies who are generally as bad (or worse – that’s why you play with them) but you can never beat the course.  The course is always better than you are and, even if you are named Tiger, and you do well enough to beat most courses, there is always a hole or two that beats you and, sometimes, beats you badly.  For Tiger, a par is a missed opportunity and a bogey (one extra swing) is embarrassing.  A double, triple bogey or ‘blow up’ is soul-crushing.

For me, at my best, bogey golf was to aspire to and a par was a celebration.  The odd birdie (one swing less than was expected for the hole) was the stuff of talk-over-beers and one time I got an eagle and that one-time event has gone down in golfing history.

Seems wherever I go, that story is told.

I mention all this because my recent foray into community volunteerism has resulted in an invitation to join two other hackers onto the local course to whiff and slash until we can drink beer, eat nachos and I can tell my eagle story.  I can hardly wait.

Sal said, “You have your clubs, you know?”

“Really?  Where?”

“I stored them away.  I’ll get ’em.  Do you have your golf shoes?”

“I didn’t even know I had my clubs.  Shoes, schmooes….I’ll wear gumboots.”

Sal brought me my clubs.  I took my five iron out and walked to an open part of the deck.  I wiggled my hips like they do, took a grip and slowly moved into my backswing.  THAT was a shock.  Seems the backswing is a helluva lot shorter than I remember it.  But…in for a penny…eh?

I paused at the top of the backswing (like they do) and found that the pause was held at about two thirds of the way up.  Oh, well.  And then I released, sweeping the club so that there was a slight ‘click’ as it clipped the surface of the deck.  Oh! The sweet sound of the ‘click’.  Sadly the click was the highlight.  The follow through was as abbreviated as the back swing.  My golf swing is half what it was and – I am guessing – half as capable.  That translates poorly when used to tally swings-taken.  Instead of reaching a 400 yard hole in two or three (or close), I will be lucky to make it in four and more likely to take five.  Can I average one hundred yards a swing?  And that is NOT counting the inevitable and yet always-surprising errant flight of the ball off in the wrong direction (add two more strokes as one wanders all over the damn place)

That’s sad.

Of course, I know me.  I’ll actually take fewer strokes than nine-times-seven (63) for the front nine because, by the third hole, I’ll be swinging for the fences, coming out of my shoes and the ambulance crew will be picking me up at the fourth tee.

That’s humiliating.

I just read the other day of an 86 year old who regularly shoots par (72) at his local course and that very day had shot an astounding 68.  Almost 20 strokes less than his age!  Golfers aspire to ‘shoot their age’.  Going under that metric is astounding.

“Look what I found!”

“My shoes!  Where the hell did you find them?”

“That’s the sad part, sweetie.  I’m afraid to let you go out with those guys. They were in your golf bag.  What kind of doofus doesn’t look in his golf bag?”

“You are right.  I may not be able to do this without you.  Let me show you how to caddy……”

Learning Gap

Yet another ‘late blog’ mea culpa….sorry….

Been busy, ya know.  A man’s work is never done (usually because he refuses to get started on it).  But I had no choice last week.  Had to haul butts and tools down to offspring’s house and pry some parts of his house loose, set them free, released them into the renta-a-bin appropriately named, ‘Bin there, dump that!’ That was good.  Got to see my grandson.  Waddacutie!!!

Couple extra days with Sal’s parents collectively 184 and still going full tilt. ‘Dad’ took early retirement at age 60 and has been collecting his pension for 34 years!  “I just passed the time collecting my pension compared to earning it!”

THAT Has to be some kind of sweet revenge!

And then we charge back home from a HUGE Costco-shop laden to the brim only to find the fabulous funicular acting up.  Well, NOT acting UP, actually.  It would go down but it would NOT go up.  So, we schlepped.  And schlepped.  And made calls to techie friends to help ferret out the gremlins in the magic motor controller box.  Got instructions.  Did stuff.  Multi-metered some other stuff.  Wiggled wires, that kind a thing.

Then went back to schlepping.

I find the motor controller and logic box unit a bit confusing. See picture. Sal, the resident electrician, is totally confounded as well.  This is a learning gap larger than the age gap between grandson and great grandparents.  But, we’ll figure it out.  It is just a matter of time.  Sal has the longevity genes…….and may need ’em.

Another reminder of Alzheimer creep (not to be confused with the old guy down the hall) is made omni-obvious by silly-me volunteering for a health care clinic initiative on the neighbouring island.  I have driven more miles in the last two months than the previous year!!  We all seem to meet a lot.  And email a lot as well.  It all seems like a helluva lot of talking to me.  So, someone suggested Skyping.

Sounds good.  But I do not know how to Skype and neither do all the other committee members (except the one who suggested it).  They are as afflicted with AC as I am.  We are a committee of Luddites.  Average age..?  65?  We can email.  We can phone.  We can drive.  But Skyping?  Seems a bit much, ya know?

And the ‘being hip’ gap is widening.  I can ‘touch’ my credit card to the machine in some places.  But not in others so that creates the embarrassing spectacle of me waving my credit card around in the air with a look of expectancy on my face only to be looked at pathetically by the pimply faced youth who says, “Like, no swiping here, man!  Gotta, like, insert it, ya know?”

“Sorry.  Can’t tell.  Not by looking, anyway.”

Kid slowly points to a huge sign saying, “THIS TERMINAL DOES NOT ACCEPT SWIPE!”

Oh well……