A little perspective, if you please….

17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two guys at a so-called protest in Wisconsin.  To me, that was clearly murder and typical of dumb Bubbas and the militia-gun mentality of the USA – oft repeated in some homicidal way or another.  But my highly respected and well-liked friend, NonCon, found that there were some aspects of the situation that could or should lead to a legal defense of self-defense.  And I do not see that.  Maybe on one charge, but not overall.

So, to better understand the counter opinion, I went on a search today for more information.  Didn’t have to go far.  There is a HUGE contingent on YOU-Tube that not only thinks sympathy for Kyle is warranted but that the two guys killed deserved to be shot and that Kyle is some kind of hero for ‘defending businesses’.  Official Bubba position: Kyle is just a ‘good guy’ who was defending the city of Kenosha from ‘bad guys’ and they cite the arrest records of the two victims to justify their opinion.

Again, I do not see that as valid in any way.  I see a lot of irrelevant information coming into play (the characters of the victims, for instance.  The intention of Kyle, the angry mob, the illegal gun, etc.).  I do not see any grounds for any kind of exoneration despite all that nonsense.  Maybe a lesser charge for the second killing but everything leading up to it is clearly Kyle-started and Kyle-caused.  In my view.

So this blog is an invitation to all my slightly more right-inclined readers to jump in and convince me that there is any justification whatsoever for 1. Kyle even being there.  2. Kyle being there with a gun.  3. Kyle wading into the crowd.  4. Kyle shooting the first guy four times.

You can cite the fact that the protest was seemingly more of a riot than a legit protest, that the victims were ‘provocative’ and that the crowd chased poor Kyle after the initial killing but let’s not dwell too long on that – they were unarmed and he went to them.  And an illegitimate protest is the responsibility of the police, not baby Bubbas-with-guns.

What I am really looking for is some understanding as to why these gun-toting Bubbas support Kyle and the police and yet do NOT condemn the police shooting of George Floyd and Jacob Blake (yes, I know that neither of the two deceased were sweethearts.  Do y’all remember Eric Garner who was choked to death by NYPD?).  If the police can kill on-the-spot everyone who is not a sweetheart, why bother with laws and courts and due process?

And why is there this ‘reaction’ by armed militia to defend businesses with deadly force anyway?  Ya gonna take it on yourself to kill people to protect 7-11 convenience stores?  Why is there this whacked-out ‘Militia movement’?  Why is it tolerated by the same police that will kill unarmed black men and women without much provocation? If the militias support the police, why are they trying to do their job?  Why are some ‘Mericans so riled up because protesters topple statues or burn debris but NOT upset when blue-uniformed killers shoot, taser and choke unarmed coloured folks?

I can understand being upset at some of the destructive elements of protests-gone-bad but, to my mind, the militias and the police are 97% wrong and the BLM protesters are 97% right. And those blacks who are out there protesting (knowing there are multiple targets on their backs) are very, very brave or very, very stupid.

And why is this all happening now?

From my perspective, this is just another era of social anger spilling over.  But what is the anger really about this time?  I know why black people are angry but why are the Bubbas so incensed?  Is it about vandalism to convenience stores?  Or about chanting de-funding cops?  “I’m a Bubba and I am furious about others burning stores and dissing cops?”  Why is this anger so directed at protesters?  Why is it NOT directed at the inept police or the currently insane government?

I have – so far – dismissed it all collectively as a bunch of Dumb Bubbas acting stupid and being ignorant and walking around armed to the teeth.  But, judging from the forums, they are a pretty large contingent.  There are a helluva lot of Bubbas out there, it seems.  And they hate protesters, they hate liberals, they hate progressives, they hate Tesla, they hate coloured people and they hate whatever Trump hates.  How does that even happen?

What am I missing?

Is it all due to Fox brainwashing?  Limbaugh race-baiting?  Trump hate-mongering? Or was it all there beforehand?  And how would either answer explain Hungary and Brazil and the Philippines going the same divisive way?  There is something global at play here.

Anyway, didn’t those media-cretins first have some early flames to fan?  Or did Rush, Glenn and Tucker start it all?  Why do I think that this is something long burning deep underground, ugly embers in their Bubba minds, Nazi-poison in their Bubba hearts?  We have a large number of angry Bubbas out there and they have seemingly been angry a very long time.

And, if it has been angering them a long time, why are they not just as mad at Republicans?

Shine a light please…..and not a light that obscures with nonsense about the most recent victims bad history (no one knows that when they kill them).  Shed some light on why a protester, a coloured person, a gay or even a Democrat deserves to be shot and killed.  I want to know why Kyle feels he has to go defend a 7-11 in Kenosha and why the negligent cops there did NOT even check him out as he waded down the street armed with an automatic rifle.

And why is that even CLOSE to OK?

I have good news and bad. The bad is that there is no good news.

Canada’s economy shrank this last quarter by an annualized rate of 38%.  The USA by 33%.  Mexico by 18%.  Japan by 28% and the European economy by 12%.  Even China is down 7%.  That is a BIG drop and deeper than recessionary if it carries on for the next two quarters.  A global depression looms.

Blake Jacobs, a black man with a family, was shot in the back 7 times by the Wisconsin police as he tried to walk away from a blue-uniformed squad of hyper-insane protectors of the public. He had his kids in the car.  That also became BIG.  FAST.  The national league teams of Basketball, Baseball, Hockey and likely NFL Football have shut down in protest over yet-another blatant incident of police violence.

Armed right wing thugs are provoking Black Lives Matter protests in Portland and, of course, Hurricane Laura laid waste to sections of Texas and Louisiana. As bad as all that was and is, the depth of the past news week was likely the gibbering idiocy and lies of the mob-boss and his minions at the Republican National Convention.  THAT was sickeningly bad.  The week of August 20th, 2020 was NOT a good one anywhere.

India is counting 75,000 new cases of Covid every day.  South America, in the aggregate, is even higher.  Even Vietnam is back in the Covid count.  Worse, estimates are that all the numbers reported are low.  The USA has exceeded 180,000 deaths so far and counting more at a rate of 1000 people per day.  The famous and previously respected CDC was pressured to ease C-19 response measures by the White House and their switchboard crashed from people expressing rage.  I even wrote to them.

And an armed 17 year-old Dumb Bubba named Kyle Rittenhouse waded into a Kinosha Wisconsin protest crowd and shot two people dead.  According to Fox, he was a cop-admirer who decided to help restore law and order.  One Fox news announcer defended his actions and another wanted the armed lunatic for president!

Our particular regional district has 12 or so active Covid cases and my family in Victoria’s neighbourhood is posting 30.  But drug overdoses are dwarfing Covid in deaths and hospitalizations all over the province.  BC is slipping from it’s previously exalted status and I do not see an end in sight.  In fact, I not only do not see an end to the madness, I see it potentially accelerating like a forest fire.  The November US Federal election may ignite a conflagration.  Civil war is being openly discussed (albeit in a worst case scenario).

Where is Henny Penny when you need her?

Idiots want kids back in school.  Cretins refuse to wear face masks and there is still no vaccine. China is getting annoyed at the USA (who isn’t?).  The Trump led USA is always annoyed at everyone else but Russian and the world is seemingly readying to light their collective hair on fire, too.  Venezuela is even blaming Canada for some it’s tragic situation.  Belarus is up in arms.  The Middle East is always aggravated but currently more tense than usual.

All of the above is now par for the course in any given day.  I am not surprised anymore by much of anything although I will admit to feeling increasingly tense as the general ‘climate’ heats up.  Which is a nice segue into the additional extreme danger of the real climate heating up.

We are living in interesting times.  Typically that pat phrase implies that the interesting times will eventually stabilize but another way of reading it is that we, ourselves, may no longer be living at all.

“Why preach any of that, Dave?  It is what it is.”  That’s true.  But one last surprise: so many people do not, in fact, know half of that.  I do not know how people can remain so ignorant of the world around them but I meet them all the time.  Our prognosis is beginning to look worse from the added complications of ignorance and apathy.  

Packratting for posterity

Almost 18 years ago I inexplicably began collecting eclectic junk. It was eclectic and it was junk for several reasons: it was all old and second hand, it was all weird and industrial in nature and it was usually being sold as junk rather than as ‘collectibles’. I paid by the pound.

I picked up a lot of crap before Sal even noticed. It was accumulating in the garage unseen but in cardboard boxes and, by the time I had eight or so, she did, in fact, notice them.

“What the hell is all this junk doing here?”

“Well now, sweetie, I know it looks a bit odd but, you see, I am kind of dreaming of living OTG some day and, if that ever happens, I may need some of this junk. You know, OTG type raw materials?”

“Fine! Whatever! But what is that thing? And why are there three of them?”

“To be honest, I have no idea. But they were cheap and Harry at the junkyard suggested I get them while the getting was good. Clearly they are some kind of log-moving device. I think. Maybe.”

“Well, you are nuts, you know that? But, if it keeps you happy, fine. Just don’t get any more junk, OK? I can hardly move in here.”

“OK”, I lied. But, technically, I didn’t actually lie. Not technically. The next few batches of things were so large they wouldn’t fit in the garage. I bought about 16 or 18 twenty-two foot long double hot-dipped galvanized 6×6 angle iron heavy rails salvaged from a collapsed BC Hydro power transmission tower next and then 12 huge 4′ x 2′ heavy grates. I put them all on the driveway. That did not go over well.

“What the hell! Why do we have a do-it-yourself transmission tower on our driveway?”

“No where else to put it…..?”

And so it went for approximately two years. More and more stuff bought for an as-yet-to-be determined project. There was occasionally a bit of tension – nothing I could not ignore. The turning point came for us (as a couple) when Sal came home from work and yelled to me from the front door, “Hey! Get your coat. Some guy is throwing out a whole bunch of what looks like winches. It is your kind of crap!” We went down the street and loaded the car with about a dozen winches, some the size of a small dog and some bigger than a large one. The guy had been a winch repairman and was getting out of the business. The car sagged from the weight. We both felt like we had scored!

I also bought some marine junk/crap. I just kinda like marine crap and so it was more of an indulgence than part of the loose and not yet conceived housing plan. But, it was marine and some of it was bronze and stainless and all of it very cool. Sal likes marine crap, too. That was a blessing.

Amongst the myriad things I got for next-to-nothing were some old ship’s lights. And, over the years, they have matured and mellowed in boxes under the house. They have not proved as useful as the huge angle iron or the massive grates. Who knew?

Yesterday, I decided to make another project. I rescued two of the lights from the still impressive pile of junk. I cleaned them up, attended to the wiring and chose the locations. “Hey, Sal? You still up for some wiring?”

“No!”

“I am going to use some of the old lights from the junk pile.”

“OK! If it gets some of the junk from the pile, I will help. Can you use up all of it up?”

“No. This is a work-in-progress. SLOW process. You have to go with the flow, ya know?”

“Fine. But keep it up. I wanna get rid of all that junk someday. Please.”

“Are you saying that I should stop looking on Craigslist for more?”

Reality check: I have used way more than 75% of what we got. If we go by weight, more like 90%. It all came in handy – still does. The downside? Every bit of it was carried in by hand and small boat. Junk collecting is a real exercise in exercise.

 

Sea Change?

I get my news from a variety of places and then I interpret it through my personal biases and ignorance, my experiences and values and my own fantasies. By the time I get any real thinking going on, 80% of it has already come from the very limited mental vault that is Dave’s aging brain. I.e. my thinking is crap. Still, it is my crap, it is at least somewhat grounded in my own personal reality (I hope) and I try real hard to be honest. But, of course, I come up short.

“How do you know when you are wrong?”

Sal will tell me.

Still, I think. Therefore I am. And this is what I am thinking now – and this thought comes from inferential scanning and non-scientific thinking – in other words: I cannot cite my sources, I cannot validate my thoughts, I cannot legitimately defend the following hypothesis….but I have these thoughts nevertheless. All my thoughts on this topic are ‘inferential’ or hunches based on nothing…maybe a few articles….maybe fantasy…..a dash of ignorance, a pinch of nutty. I am a sensitive guy.

Dateline 2020. People are leaving the cities. Starting now! I thought that might happen when I left but eventually I concluded that I was not the centre of everyone’s universe and so my departure meant nothing to them. A trend did not happen. Still, the forces that moved me would eventually move others – or so I thought.

That did not happen either. At least it did not happen right away.

A few people seemed to be on the same wavelength as me and, to be fair, within a few years there was a Netflix series on OTG/Doomsday preppers and lots of ads offering OTG products but the actual EXODUS was a trickle at best, a few blips now and then. The world was NOT moving OTG.

But housing prices are a REAL harbinger of people’s inclinations, commitments, desires. And housing prices in the US are an eye-opener right now. Homes in Silicon Valley are dropping. Homes in San Francisco and dozens of other cities are dropping. Rents are dropping. That can only happen when DEMAND drops.

Why would demand drop?

Part of it is C-19. No, people are not leaving to escape the disease, they are leaving because they can. C-19 legitimized and accelerated the trend to work-from-home. That is especially true for the computer economy and nothing says computer economy more than Silicon Valley and California. Those who live and work in the digital world can now do so from afar. And their employers are encouraging it. The price of housing in Silicon Valley in the 90’s was astronomical. Today? Urban vacancy rates are high and housing prices are dropping.

But it is NOT just Northern California. Many large cities are facing a slow exodus as people discover that they can have a better life either in the ‘burbs or further out. It seems that the ten largest cities in the US are flat or declining in population. Suburban is popular. Rural is now hip. Who would have thought a virus could show us the way?

In fact, even extreme satellite locations are growing. Panama for instance. Many modern folks can live and work in the US economy while living in a foreign country. Cheaper. Healthier. Probably safer. And, they are doing it.

The really weird thing is this: first went the specialists – those were the celebrities, actors and the capitalists. They went remote when I did. Decades ago. But the ‘specialists’ are NOT a movement. The numbers are too small. But then went the paranoid – those who could afford it and wanted out from what they saw as either an oppressive society or a vulnerable one. Then came the young romantics – the modern equivalent of back-to-the-landers. They are NOT a huge segment but, with the paranoid and the celebrity/elite, they created a bit of a ‘phenomena’. Where I fit, I have no idea but there is no question I am part of the ‘phenomena’. Frankly, I think I am a Johnny-come-lately but I was an early Johnny and there was a smidge of ground-breaking involved…I think. NOT a lot. I surfed in on an easy wave.

The point? I do not have one. Inferential scanning (as stated) is not verifiable by way of current data and analysis. Inferential scanning is another way of saying, ‘I have a hunch’. This is the gut doing the talking.

My gut tells me the exodus has begun.

A Potpourri of Issues and News

Where to start? Trump? Trudeau? Covid? I don’t think so….this is a local colour kind of blog today. This is back to OTG.

As you know, this area is home to the best bookclub in Canada (maybe the Galaxy?). And they prove it every month on the 3rd Sunday. Rain or shine. But Covid threw a wrench into the longest running bookclub ever (35+ years) a few months back and they had to do two meetings by way of Zoom. They didn’t like it. So, in typical OTG fashion, they opted to have the meetings in an open space. And that was first practiced at the site of the school playground. It was good. But not good enough….so…this last gathering was held ‘at the beach’.

Our island has a few nice beaches but there is one special one. It is a classically beautiful three-boat anchorage with a gradual slope from the sea that merges from beach to forest in a natural and sublime way. It’s a great spot. In fact, it is so great the local guys have, over the years, erected a rustic stage and bar and outdoor kitchen complete with outhouse and random seating areas. Log-and-beach wood style. The site looks like a fantasy setting for Hobbits or something…gorgeous.

It gets better.…this weekend 20 or so women came together at the beach and this time a good portion were younger women. Usually the younger women do NOT bring their kids because the kids are disruptive, especially in a house. But this was the beach and kids and beaches go well together. About 8 or so kids, the oldest maybe 12 and the youngest about 5. And they all played in the water for hours while book club was held with the oldest kid caring and watching out for the youngest. There was the classic log and old-rope raft, the usual beach toys, some beach-made toys, several dogs, old vehicles, lunch and, of course, perfect weather and calm waters. Norman Rockwell would have painted it a dozen times.

I know that beach-fun is no big deal but in the days of Covid and so many screen focused activities and habits of the kids (and parents) these days, it was ‘the good ol’ days’ all over again. Very nostalgic. Organic. Casual. Real. Family stuff…..

Covid prompted a lot of things this year. We have a help-get-the-wood-in program whereby some of the younger guys assist older homeowners to get in their winter wood. The local logger gave up some non-merchantable timber, some folks have trees on their property needing processing and some work is just firewood related like stacking and hauling. They’ve been at it for a couple of weeks so far and their efforts are being much appreciated. It is good.

 

 

The food delivery system has settled in somewhat. They get about $2000 worth of food delivered by water taxi and distributed by a few volunteers every Friday around noon. That works out very well and is also a very good thing to do.

We got funded for a one-day-a-week home care worker who has approximately 20 older clients currently getting some kind of personal assistance. The funding is minimal ($15K) but that is enough to hire two workers in the winter and keep our current worker going throughout the summer. And that is good, too.

Sal and another neighbour got inspired and applied for a small grant to ‘collect stories’. It seems that many of our neighbours have great local history to share and we want to record it, print it, podcast it and the like. The volunteers got enough of a grant ($7500) to hire some interviewers (including some of the school kids) a technician and coordinator. We anticipate at least thirty (or more) short-stories of derring-do and adventure from the 70’s and up until the present day. Do we make it into a book? I dunno….prob’ly the bookclub will take that on.

While all that has been going on in the neighbourhood, Sal and another two women reprinted a very old book about homesteaders out here during the last depression. The author lived here for 10 years. That was no small feat back then (piece of cake today, tho). It was interesting to read because it is similar-but-different to our history out here so far. And, it was good to ‘save’ the long out-of-print book for historical reasons.

We’ve had a few guests. Some friends have dropped off some fish. A few happy-hours. We have 90% of a solar oven (awaiting Fresnel lens) and 90% of the new water system is sitting up the hill awaiting installation.

Sal has also made a few quilts so far and I have done the very least I can do to not appear too much of a lump – which is impossible. It is hard to keep up with woman like Sal who now has a new knee and is cranking up the odometer with it. Sheeesh…………..

 

 

Solar oven: 275 degrees!

That’s hot!  It’s enough to cook a rotisserie chicken but 325 would be better.  I aspire to a hotter oven.  I would certainly perspire to a hotter oven…..

I will continue to ‘fiddle’ and ‘fine tune’ it but I doubt that I will get it past 300.  I may have to enlarge the sun-capture panels a bit to even do that.  But the solar oven works – it just takes a bit longer than ideal to cook a chicken according to the You-tube ‘experts’ who know this kind of stuff.  Do I care if it takes an extra 45 minutes?  Not really.  This is a solar-powered chicken cooker brilliantly designed to accommodate a duck as well.  Maybe a small turkey.  Or a skewer of squirrels.  It is supposed to be a start-and-forget kind of cooker.  Put another way: I can afford to accidentally burn a chicken because well, I do forget things now and then…..

….where was I?

Oh, yeah…..the solar oven…..the first improvement I made was to metal tape all the seams.  That did little to help things get hotter but it looked good.  The second improvement/requirement was to construct the solar ‘cone’ capture panels and that was a major upgrade.  I welded a wire frame and then covered attached panel-boards in reflective Mylar.  Turns out that the potential BTUs generated are in a direct correlation with the square foot area of the capture panels.  Bigger silver cone, potentially higher temps.

Then I insulated the entire box again – this time from the outside.  And then, and then…….the temperature ‘popped’ up a whole 50 degrees.  Without following the sun and adjusting all the time, I hit 275 and kept between that and 250 for three hours.  If I sat there in the sun (cooking myself at the same time) and slowly adjusted the angle of the cone to follow the arc of the sun, I am pretty sure I would have kept 275 the whole time.  So, however you look at it, I am NOW cooking without gas.

I know, Wim.  I know.  The test will be in the finally-roasted chicken.  That will happen (or not) Monday (guest arriving).  We will see.  If I get a nicely roasted chicken on Monday, there is no question – this quirky project was a success.  You will all hear about it.  All five of you.

And, of course, there are now a bazillion chores that need my attention after wasting time in the pursuit of a sun-cooked rotisserie chicken.

Could this behaviour be the early onset of something odd?

America’s first black female president-on-deck!

Irony, thy name is Harris.  Trump and Pence, meet Biden-Harris.  They are your match and then some!  And sweeter still: Harris is the stronger of the bunch.

Kamela Harris is Biden’s choice for Democrat running mate.  If Biden-Harris succeed in disposing of the orange clown, Biden will be the president of the United States in 2021.  Biden is 78.  If he lives lives long and prospers, he will be 82 after his first term and, if there is prospering all around in the country, he will be 86 at the end of his second term.  Given the way birthdays and elections work, he may even be 87.

Eighty-seven is old.  Too old.  Eighty seven is actuarily unlikely as well.  He may live to be 87 but he won’t likely be too active or even semi- ‘on the ball’ at that age.  He will ‘use’ the VP much more than have other presidents.  He’ll have to.  Especially if he dies in office which is likely.  This new vice president must remain active, healthy and up to speed on whatever is happening because stepping into the big chair is very probable.

Bottom line: the vice president is a black female named Kamela Harris.  The 47th president is likely to be also named Kamala Harris.  And Bubba Trump and the Deplorables will go stark-raving nuts!

(Personally?  I hope Harris has the nerve to walk up to Trump and grab him hard by the balls and then says, “Turnabout is fair play!”)

This VP appointment is an historic moment-in-the-making save for one Biden heartbeat away.  Kamela Harris is likely to be the first  black, female president of the United States and it is also likely that she becomes Trump’s nemesis in the meantime.  The GOPs and Trump deserve it and they deserve so much more.

The fact that Harris is a prosecutor and a relatively young one implies to me that the so-called Justice Department will be directed to fast-track all the lawsuits against Trump, all the investigations against Trump and they will be instructed to pursue every Trump-Russian-McConnel link over the next four to eight years.  There may NOT be a grabbing of balls but there will be a witch-hunt!

Trump is moving from the White House to the Courthouse and tho he will just ‘lawyer up’ to stay out of jail, he will simply pay millions and millions to do that and, in the end, he will end up behind bars or living in a Russian dacha.

But what will all that do to the situation in the USA?  How will it affect the ‘stinkin’ rich’?  Will the evil, corrupt, incompetent, elitist-run system under the newly minted Biden-Harris administration manage to redistribute the wealth?  Conquer Covid-19?  Will Biden Harris restore America’s standing amongst it’s allies?  Will Biden-Harris get on the right side of socialized medicine, immigration, education and the environment?  Can they unite the people?  And, more to the point, will the Deplorables, the Russians, the Chinese and the mafia allow them enough room to move?

Trump was a horror show, a rather fast-paced but plot-less, prime-time horror show.  Can Biden-Harris rewrite this current mess into a long-playing success?

 

 

Little Muhammad

We went down the street from my son’s house to shop at the new Syrian refugee just-opened corner store.  They sell Middle Eastern food stuff.  I know nothing about Middle Eastern food save for donairs, falafels, hummus and pita.  When we entered, we were greeted by a small, mature-faced young kid.  Muhammad was only 11.  “Can I help you find anything, sir?”

“I know nothing about Syrian food, Muhammad.  Sell me something you think is absolutely Syrian and, of course, absolutely delicious.  I am OK with whatever your favourite thing is.”

“I highly recommend this spice, sir.  On chicken.  You make it into a thick sauce and rub it all over the chicken and then fry it.  It’s the best.  My favourite.”

For the next five minutes or so Muhammad led me around the store giving me his recommendations and, of course, I bought them all.  I will even be making falafel soon.  But far and away, Muhammad promoted and sold the spices.  Muhammad was INTO the spices.  He also sold me a falafel maker and tried to sell me a can of Truffles.   “Sir, I advise you to consider this can of desert truffles.  They are rare.  They are only picked in the desert and this batch are the last truffles picked before the war.  There are no more.  Not now.”

I laughed out loud but declined.  That kind of rare desert truffle seemed way too fantastic and sounded like a used-car salesman talking.  Still, very fun.  This kid was GOOD at selling and even had a ‘story’ for the most expensive item in his store, a can of mushrooms.

*For the record: I looked it up.  Muhammad was telling the straight truth about the truffles.  Seems they are wild-harvested at a certain time and found only in the dessert.  The Syrian war ended that practice and there are no more for sale for the foreseeable future.  I am gonna go back and buy a can.

As we were finishing up, his dad came back into the store.  I complemented him on raising such a smart kid and suggested that he will either become a lawyer, a doctor or the world’s best used car salesman.  Dad smiled sadly and said, “I hope so.”  But, when dad came home, Muhammad went out to play on his bike in the back parking lot.  He couldn’t go too far.  Customers might show up and he was clearly the draw for the store.

I dunno, Bubba, but I like Muhammad.  I might even like the dad.  I am glad they are here….mostly for Muhammad’s sake……and I will taste the chicken before a full five star endorsement.  Can’t be too careful, ya know?

Odd spin-offs from C-19

A lot of people, practicing isolation and stay-at-home behaviours these past few months, prefer it.  “Ya know, I haven’t had as much work and my income is down and I must admit that I have to get back to work soon but, well, I enjoy the slow pace and getting some home work and projects done and well, I am in no hurry to get back to the rat race.”

Others are not so pleased at the interruption.  I tried to get some parts for Sal’s Suzuki outboard.  “Geez, just about everything is on back-order.  Especially Suzuki, they have been locked down the most and we just can’t get parts!”  I have noticed a lot of items on ‘back-order’ at Amazon, too.

The businesses in downtown Victoria are dying.  Their revenue this year so far is down 95%!  No tourists and no government workers makes for a devastated economy in a government/tourism based city.  Sal and I went down there over these past few days to see our grandchildren and Sal’s mom.  Victoria looked almost deserted.  A ghost-town.  If it weren’t for the 1500 plus homeless people, there would have been no street life at all.

The good news is that my son’s immediate neighbourhood has pulled together in a very natural and communal way.  Son got a new front deck and porch finished up and the neighbourhood seems to gravitate to it every day and early evening.  Mind you, the tradition started when they had the old deck so it is very likely this phenomena is all socially driven – not architectural and only a bit enhanced by Covid.  They can all stand six feet apart and it seems OK on a lawn.

While we sat outside and ate pizza, three or four separate ‘families/neighbours’ popped in.  Dogs came too.  Butts were sniffed.  Some of the people stayed and chatted.  Some had wine.  At any given time, there were at least 5-6 different people other than his relatives (6) hanging about.  Very pleasant.

Costco was busy.  And, this time, it was more relaxed customer-wise.  Everyone needed a mask and the carts were being wiped but the store allowed as many customers as arrived.  It was somewhat crowded.  Given that BC has few cases and no deaths in six days, I suppose the new protocol is fine but I preferred the ‘only ten in the store at a time’ that they had imposed a few months ago.

A friend of mine who works in Montreal reported that he is doing better post Covid revenue-wise and he doesn’t even have to leave his house.  He is a teacher of Karate and Photography and, because of C-19, started on-line classes using Zoom.  He makes more money doing that ‘virtually’ than he did doing it in gathering places.

Everyone knew that C-19 would change things but I am pleasantly surprised that it has changed many things for the better.  Of course, shops, retail and that sort of thing will suffer and traditional large scale operations have immense overhead and so this interruption will knock more than a few out of business but our ‘shopping lady’ is doing boffo box-office and so is my Montreal friend.  Liquor sales are way up.  So is groceries.  And so are home sales!  That is a surprise.

When you throw a large wrench into a complicated system, things go awry.  But rarely do they go better!  In this time of pandemic, some things are going better and that is an unexpected side-effect of this disease.

 

It is kinda crazy, but…..

The idea of reducing our reliance on the outside world is now a habit as much as a desire or necessity. Of course, when living off-the-grid it would be stupid to rely on the grid for doing so. That’s just nuts. Still, all of us living OTG do, in fact, rely on the grid for SO MUCH that I have avoided declaring independence and total freedom from the GRID. Instead, I admit it. We get food from stores. We get propane from the barge. We get gasoline, wine and well, the list goes on. We have one foot in the forest, one foot in town. There is no question that we are all a lot MORE independent than any city dweller but we are simply NOT independent. Seems no man is an island even when living on one.

But, like I said, the habits are now somewhat ingrained. We try. We do all the OTG things and try to get better at it every year. And, in some ways we are better. Sal’s outboard is running rough and so SHE spent a few hours yesterday stripping out the fuel system and cleaning and checking everything. THAT is being independent. ‘Cept for the fact that, after all her efforts, it is still running rough. So, the attitude is there, the expertise is still a bit wanting.

While she was slinging wrenches and filters, I was building a solar oven. And, like Sal, I was doin’ good. Still am. I have been doin’ good for a while now. The sad part is that, if you do good for too long without actually ACHIEVING good, then, by definition, you are NOT really doin’ so good after all. And I may be getting close to that. My solar oven is running a bit rough.

A great solar oven should heat up to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 C. Mine will only go up to 200 degrees F. The largest part of that is I do not yet have the great wing-reflectors that are needed to focus the sun’s rays. Those are a big deal. So, yesterday, I mocked up a couple and put them on temporarily. They cranked the heat up some 25 degrees but that is simply not good enough. I am going to have to ‘do it right’ with all four sides (instead of just two) or, push comes to shove, add more insulation.

“Dave! Why the hell would you work so hard to make such a stupid thing?”

You make a good point. And presented it so well, too.

 

While it is true that we live in BC (not known for excessive sunshine) and BC is in Canada (somewhat well known for being cold!), we still get enough sunshine in summer to run a solar oven (theoretically) with even a rotisserie. I’m kinda keen on having a rotisserie.

But the truth is, it was more of an experiment. The REAL truth is that I have enough solar power (electricity) that, in summer, I can almost run an electric oven with a rotisserie. Four more panels and I could. And buying such an oven and buying so many panels is a helluva lot easier than trying to make a solar oven – one that works. But, I wanted to try.

The oven (such as it is) is 25″ x 18″ x 12″. So, it is kinda big. It will cook two large chickens (if I ever get it hot enough). The adjustable and angled stand is salvage from an old satellite dish. The rotisserie was ordered new off Amazon. Materials included aluminum heat tape and heat resistant (to 450F) sealant. A scrap of heavy filter screen forms the angled floor.

OK. OK. It’s a little…maybe a LOT crazy but well, it is half done. I have to finish. Worse comes to worst, I have a very substantial food dehydrator with the optional rotisserie attachment.

Sheeesh…….