Touching, and being touched….

If you write a book or a blog or, it seems, even post naked picture of yo’ fine self on social media, some people will be touched (settle down, no worries. I ain’t going all Kim Kardashian on ya). The blogger-author has no idea who gets ‘touched’. Some of those who are touched, sometimes touch back. They usually just write. Comment section, emails, the very, very occasional ‘meet-up’ (if they are in the neighbourhood) ensues and a relationship may form. Maybe. Dave-up-North, NonCon, Wim, Aldo, Margy and Untidy mind come to mind. They are friends. I have been touched (OK, teched! But you know what I mean!). Anything more than that is a special kind of magic…human magic….very good stuff.

And this week, we had a bit more than that more common-ish but still weird magic. J, H and their daughter K left South Africa and settled in the U.A.E a couple of decades back – the United Arab Emirates in the middle east. They settled in. A year or so ago, J got an itch and, like a select few others (D&K, DW and wife and a few others), started (as I did) sniffing around the internet kind of pointing unconsciously in the OTG direction. He was mostly responding to his feelings (see last blog). One thing led to another and he found my blog (not easy) and then bought the book! I had a reader from the Middle East! They have desert there, fer Gawd’s sake! Sheesh!

A few emails later and a Covid year, J, H and K left the UAE, got Canadian residency (even more magic) and flew out in a direct line to BC. OMG! A few days in transit and they end up at the end of the road and we have guests for the night. Did I mention…DIRECT FROM the UAE?

A quick reconnoiter of the area was conducted the next day and even the still-quite-reluctant H was making tentative plans to move here.

C’mon! that is incredible!

What does it say? Well, that J, H and K are adventurous and unafraid is obvious. That they responded to my book casts them in a suspect light but maybe it was the humour. C’mon, face it – there was not a helluva lot to go on regarding living OTG in that book except that we were so ill suited and unskilled and yet still made it work. Somehow, they saw some appeal in blood loss and ravens – go figure. It also suggests that they are already committed to something OTG. Think about it: it had to have cost them $10,000 for that journey – probably more. J was a sponge for OTG information. H was hesitant. K was keen on her parents leaving to go OTG (she was returning to the UAE). She has a boyfriend. This could be win-win for her.

He is skilled and has a South African farm-boy background. The guy knows enough. H is hesitant but most urban wives are. Sal was. But 80% come around and many have stayed even if the hubby left. This place has appeal for both genders but it is not as clearly evident to the urban female at first. I could be wrong, (right, Moira?) but that is what I have seen. Makes no never-mind. A couple (or three) of years is all it takes. You either fall in love by then or you don’t.

They are, however, pushing the age envelope. They are already 60. My own measure of the challenge is that after 55 it gets too physically difficult. Still, that is an individual thing and he is in good nick. And money can buy some time. H, too, kept up well on treks and hikes. They may be on-the-edge age-wise but, with some hired help, they could pull it off. It is kinda neat watching dreams grow. In fact, it is very human and very touching. If they make the leap and pull it off, it truly is a dream-catcher event.

I am touched they chose to share that dream with us.

Feelings

The popular myth is that feelings are entirely hormonal and personal…and, to some extent that assertion is correct when dealing with personal matters. But feelings, intuitions, suspicions so often are proven correct that we still attribute weight to our feelings despite admiration for the logic of Spock or the focus of stone-cold action heroes – and despite the new appreciation for data driven statements of fact due to the computer age. And so we should. In fact, we really should give more weight to our feelings if, for no other reason, hard, irrefutable information is not always available. Facts are hard to discern. Truth is real but elusive. We just ain’t that smart or educated. We live in confusing times.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s there was a New York based consulting group serving the advertising business. My hazy memory wants to call them, Goldman, Goldman and Goldman Associates. Maybe three Goldbergs? But Google doesn’t confirm that…..

Anyway, the lesson from G,G&G was ‘inferential scanning’. It seems we all do it (look around and intuit, infer, learn) but we all do it and accept the ‘feelings’ we get at different personal levels. Inferential scanning is the term they used to describe our conscious and unconscious absorption of information that we discern simply by walking around, living and looking at stuff.

The best example they proffered was, “Ask anyone what they think is the most popular colour for cars on the road. Of course, everyone will at first say, ‘Oh, I dunno…..how could I know? But, if I had to guess, it would be white? Or grey?” Typically, they were right (for their area).

The point was that they did not know from any proven facts or learned discipline or even a TV show or media article but they still had a hint or a suggestion of an answer. How did they get even that? Well, by GGG hypothesis, it was by inferential scanning – the natural absorption of random bits of information.

Intuition does not come from the hairs on the back of your neck – it comes from indirect learning and constant but immediate observation. And that plays out in so many interesting ways. Sal and I once avoided a car hijacking in Mexico simply because we both felt at the same time that ‘something is not right here’ and we turned the car around only to read in the English newspaper a week later that there had been many hijackings, robberies and such in that very stretch of road. Our instincts saved us.

And years ago, my instincts started whispering to me that I should quit working and go live away from the city – and that seemed to mean move off the grid. Those whispered hints went ignored for a few years but started to show results when I began almost out of amusement to read about OTG living. In fact, I wrote in our book about an hysterical article in Mother Earth News on birthing lambs and having to mouth-suck the snot out of the newborn’s nose or else they couldn’t breathe. That, alone should have put me off the OTG path!

This is taking too much of your time so I’ll get to the punchline: everyone has feelings, intuition, deep-set curiosity or even (if you are more focused) dreams and plans. Acting on those dreams and ‘feelings’ is hard to do. What if? How do I? Why? Cost? Is there a You Tube on it? What will my spouse say?

The most common response? “Maybe later…..kinda busy right now. “

Those feelings (if you have them) will persist because they are not based on hard information, education or even logic. They are based on inferential scanning or, better-put perhaps, observing life as you know it. And the ‘life-as-you-know-it’ is changing. You do not need to rely on feelings to understand that part. The latest IPCC report (Climate Change Scientists) is making a very clear clarion call for HELP and ACTION NOW!

The planet is changing. Fast!

Please do not read this as Dave being smug. In fact, the opposite is true. My inferential inner voice was warning me, to be sure. And I listened as I should have. But I am no better at interpreting intuition or feelings than anyone else and likely not as good as some. In fact, I think we erred. We did good but we did not do good enough. More than a few times Sal and I have jokingly referred to our relocation as ‘perhaps we’re not far enough away!’

Having feelings and listening to them doesn’t mean you are right in all regards. It may be that a remote island up the BC coast might not be enough of a retreat. It is hard to run and hide from climate and it seems the climate is out to get us all.

Let’s face it, y’all know this at some level. Y’all feel the changes, feel the threats, feel the general unease (or smoke) in the air. There is, of course, inferential quasi-proof in millions of people migrating north, polar bears starving, wild fires like never before, Covid, floods, altering ocean currents and patterns, wildlife die-offs….the list just goes on and on…..we know this is a time of major shift, a change in the status quo. Hell, a lot of people do not even want to go back to work to get their money, money, money! This is now almost TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and they sense something….. But now we have harder, data-driven proof, too. The IPCC report is alarming. If you didn’t feel it before, you can now read about it on your computer.

I guess what I am saying is: it might be time to have a heart-to-heart chat with your inner voice.

Life in the time of Pandemic and little rain….

Another Omni-blog………

BUT ACTUALLY, we had rain today!  Blessed rain!!  I cannot call it a downpour, not even a storm-of-sorts (Environment Canada generously described them as showers – must be the kind with water-saving heads) but it has been raining lightly for the better part of sixteen hours.  Thank God!  We are currently cloaked in a very damp distance-obscuring mist, like a wet fog.  Lovely.  Beautiful.  And, I think, very necessary.  The forest was looking a bit parched….especially for an area that is renown for being a rainforest!  I am pretty sure that we have had no rain for two months and a rather too-dry Spring before that.  August 7th and it is finally raining – even the tourists are appreciating it. 

Ten or twelve years ago, in a gesture of support to one of my lower income neighbours, I pre-bought two roasting chickens in advance of a real-live chick or even a chicken coop in her sight.   And, tho it took a few more years, chicks came to be cooped at some point but, before the chicks became man-hating Karens, a cougar ate ‘em. And, in the chicken business, a cougar is the very definition of a force majeure (an act of God).  She was very disappointed and, of course, my $50 was forgotten (by me).  No problem.

But we hired her a while back to assist in one of our volunteer programs (volunteer for us, not the worker-bees) and, I guess she has still been dreaming of chickens all that time.  You know how chickens die easily but chicken dreams die hard, right? 

“Hey, Dave!  It’s a bit late but I am pretty sure I can fulfill your chicken order finally.  I just now received some new chicks but I have those chicks in a really substantial coop.  This time, I am very hopeful.  I hope you still like roast chicken?”

“All good things come to he who avoids cougars or something like that.  This just might be my first successful seed money investment!  Ya did buy the seeds, too, didn’t ya?” 

We have more guests coming.  Most of them we know in advance.  Friends and family.  But, sometimes, we get guests we don’t know.  Typically, such a strange arrangement comes about because we were volunteer hosts to a school run by a friend of ours in Hong Kong and the guests were Chinese young people visiting his weird, gweilo friend who lived in the forest.  That was always fun.  East meets West.  Young meets Old. 

Other unknown guests came by way of WWOOF Canada, the work-stay volunteer program that puts international young people on Canadian ‘farms’ (or wilderness places) to live, work and stay for a week or so as they travel around the country. We have some great young friends from the WOOF program.  Many have come back years later just to visit.  Very rewarding.

But we have also found ourselves hosting the odd reader of our book.  Not often.  Once in awhile.  And mostly just an all-day visit with lunch and happy hour thrown in with a little ‘tour’ of sorts.  That, too, has been pleasant and, in a few cases, very rewarding in that the visitors eventually became neighbours.  They came, they visited, they searched and they bought a place out here or nearby.  That is very cool. 

But J and his wife are likely to be the new distance record-holders.  They are coming to us from The United Arab Emirates, originally from South Africa.  This family of three have such an adventuresome spirit that they left their home in the UAE, traveled to Germany and have just landed in BC – all in aid of getting a feel for OTG, BC style.  In a few days we’ll pick ‘em up and give ‘em a quick tour around.  And then, there they are, sadly, – in Campbell River.  We would ‘keep ‘em for more than a night but, due to theirs and ours Covid-disrupted schedules and other forces, there is a scheduling conflict and we have three ‘normal’ guests arriving the next day (for the record: we do not have any truly ‘normal’ friends).  Still, we will give it our best shot and also try to score them some extra time somewhere else nearby so that they get more of a ‘taste’ of OTG. 

Write a book.  Make friends.  Who knew?

And, finally….I sprang for the lumber.  Yes, it is still too expensive but life is short and I simply cannot stand by NOT building my little new shed that is just at the ‘start’ stage still.  That little shed will have a story.  At least half of that story is that it was built by cobbling materials from ‘salvaged’ used wood.  The floor of this new shed is almost 20 years old already!  The other half of the shed-tale has yet to be written but it is almost certain to have some blood spilled and damage done to tools, skin, bone and bank accounts.  After all, we are employing/deploying all the usual suspects (Sal and me). 

Island used cars for sale

Two friends came to visit for a couple of days. It was hot. So, rather than work, I took ’em on an island tour in the limo we have for just such a purpose.

They were keen to ‘see everything’ and so I slowly went down-island poking into rough tracks, wide trails and driveways – hard to tell the difference sometimes. The main road is a logging road graded semi-smoothish now and then but mostly only one lane wide, rutted, rocky, tilted, hard-scrabbly and off-kilter but still quite passable most of the time if you go slowly and drive the high-side. Do not drive the ruts or you’ll bottom out. You also need 4-wheel drive if you get off the main road (and you’d need 4×4 even on that main road in the winter).

I deviated from the main road down towards the east side community dock. That steep little side-road is about an eight-of-a-mile but is so rough it still takes about ten minutes to cover. We traveled at walking speed tilting and rocking to and fro as we got closer to the beach. In theory, we were hell-and-gone being on a remote island with small boat access only and then going into the middle of it in an old 31 year-old right-hand-drive Estima (the Japanese version of the Previa) van.

Down at the dock there are two small shacks, built in hill-billy style, but quite liveable. I know that because people live in ’em! One couple has a son about 8 years old. He was set up under a tree just where we approached the first dwelling. He had built a lectern-style ‘counter’ from reclaimed off-cuts. It was about 30 inches tall. The kid was about 45 inches tall. Think: a kid’s sidewalk lemonade stand but without the lemonade or the sidewalk.

Good manners suggested we stop and say ‘hello’.

“Yo, dawg! S’up?

“Huh?”

“Sorry. Whatcha doing here under a tree in the hot noon-day sun?”

“Selling my cars.”

“Oh, yeah? What cars?”

“My Hot Wheels.” He then stooped down, picked up a cardboard box and showed my passenger his dozen or so Hot Wheels, lifting the ‘monster truck’ from the offering for closer inspection. “Five dollars each.”

“Okay, I’ll take the monster truck.”

“The monster truck is ten.”

“Ten? Will you take five?”

“Yep!” And he held out his hand. Clearly the money had to show before the truck left his collection. My guy paid. The kid was happy. As we were leaving the kid said, “Thank you for your business. Please come again.”

As we drove away, “What are ya gonna do with the monster truck?” I asked.

“I have a 45 year old friend, professional musician. Bit of an artist, too. He builds dioramas in his spare time and they are amazing. He also likes to use toy cars in his scenes. He’ll love this! Imagine finding a kid selling his used cars in the middle of a forest with literally no one around for hundreds of miles?”

“I know. It proves the old adage, tho. Location is everything in the retail game.”

Say, what!?

“It would seem that Covid is coming back with the Alpha/Delta/Gamma variants but we are opening up anyway and have dropped the social distancing and mask-wearing protocols.” That from Alberta. “We forbid the schools from requiring masks!”

“Vaccinated Canadians can’t come in!” That from the US of A and UK/Britain. New Zealand is closed again. Australia’s Sidney, is calling in the military to help with a resurgence. Thailand, Japan and South Korea are having outbreaks. The US is having a surge in cases amongst the still unvaccinated. And the list of Covid setbacks around the world continues…..but…“well, let’s go to the pub or the restaurant, anyway”.

The Philippines and Vietnam are on the edge of medical collapse. And we may as well just stop watching Mexico and Brazil as they just keep getting worse. Africa? Well, they are not yet at the 2% vaccinated population stage. Britain and France cases are on the rise again.

BC has largely had a good response compared with other jurisdictions mostly due to high compliance with safety protocols and fairly quick acceptance of the vaccine but BC is also rapidly trending upwards.

………and everyone is ‘opening up’…??????

So, what does that tell you? That we are giving up and that Covid is here to stay? That the vaccinated are safe-ish and the unvaccinated are so bloody stupid they can just die? Are we saying that the cost of protecting folks is too high to maintain so let’s just let this plague play out in the bars and cafes, schools and theatres, the big-box stores and the stadiums? Or, are we saying that we have shot our best shot and we have nothing left…?

“Why not just take a flight to to somewhere nice….?”

I have little faith in experts at the best of times, not because of what they know – they know more than me – but more because of what they don’t know – and that ignorance is showing up as great and vast in a rapidly morphing and spreading pandemic. Clearly they do not know enough about Covid. We are being led by freshmen and sophomores at this point. And it appears as if they are throwing in the towel, “Oh, Hell! Go to the pub if you want and take unvaccinated Bubba with you!”

The good news? This is Covid, not Ebola.

The weirdest part of the problem is that there is a readiness in the general population to go along with the madness…….“Say, what!?”

It’s true! I am afraid that even I am manifesting a bit of it…..“Well, I would like to see the grandkids.” “Hey! It’s great that we are having visitors!” “Hmm…maybe a trip to Costco?” “How do you feel about travel this winter?” It’s so incredibly illogical. Those thoughts are close-to-Bubba-stupid (especially given the previous 18 months of experience). Here we are having been isolated and masked, social distanced and with no touching; and here we are vaccinated and watching the virus still spread and we, too, are wondering about – even baby-stepping towards – normalized life. If the house is still on fire, do you go back in to finish your lunch?

“Dave! Relax. It is getting better. C’mon, man, take off that mask and have a beer!”

Well, I, for one, am not so sure that now is quite the right time to let down the guard and, to be fair, I don’t think anyone knows when that will be. So, in the meantime, you may wish to consider keeping up the miserable, ineffective guards that we have been employing just in case. They were better than nothing. Gettin’ on a plane and heading south for the winter should not be part of your immediate planning process…….

…..jus’ sayin’…..

My wife has a problem….

….she cannot let a log float by without wanting to corral it. Which isn’t quite true. Sometimes Sal can see a single log floating along and, despite her almost irresistible attraction, she can let it go. She often mumbles at such times, “If you love something, set it free.”

But NOT two logs! If there are two or more, the ‘set ’em free’ mantra is replaced with, “If one is good, two is better!” And off she goes in her little boat and we soon have another cluster of logs to add to the previous ones. Yesterday, we hauled up another batch of 10 logs. It was a hot day in July! It was in the 80’s(F), 26C. We were hauling firewood! What the hell?

I guess what I am really saying is that I have a problem with my wife.

Don’t misunderstand me, gathering logs is great fun. Woohoo. But one shouldn’t obsess, ya know what I mean? Seriously? Seen one log, seen ’em all. Having said that, we always need to lay in some wood for the winter and we have concluded that we need about 600 lineal feet of 1-foot diameter logs to fully stock the woodshed…..which, by the way, is fully stocked right now….. and we have probably 300 additional lineal feet of ‘piled high to get dry’ logs already up and ready for further processing (rounds and pieces)…..for the winter after next.

We could (jus’ sayin’) give it a rest….?

And now there’s a new exception to this minor complaint of a plethora of fiber riches…… a friend and neighbour has wrangled a dozen more logs for us and we are obliged to go get ’em. Soon is expected. These logs are different, however. This bouquet of logs from MB is for construction. I have to replace the posts at the front of the house that hold up the deck. The longest is 20 feet, the shortest about 16 (irregular topography). The original logs were installed by an amateur ditz who had no idea what he was doing (me) and they have deteriorated over the last 17 years to the point that they pretty much MUST be replaced within the next couple of years.

At my usual pace of getting things done, I need to start now as I only have a few years in which to do the chore.

So, we will go get logs by the bushel in a few days. We will collect, tow, wrangle and corral ’em. Then we will haul ’em up the hill. Then I will trim ’em and – this time – coat ’em in some kind of goo that extends their useful life. If I do not have some really good goo somewhere, I will use old motor oil and re-do ’em every now and then. One way or another those logs will endure holding up the deck for as long as we need ’em to.

And Sal will continue her collecting. I can see the headlines thirty years from now….RURAL HOARDING! Authorities answering a call off the grid, were shocked to find a huge log storage area apparently collected by ‘the local log lady’.

“Most surprisingly,” said Chief Johnson of the Coast Guard, “we found no cats! Go figure?”

Another omniblog……

Meaning: a little bit of everything.

Two whales did come by, after all! But, well, they were not Humpies. Two large Orcas. Now it is a bit odd, in the first place, to think of my pal, John, temporarily possessing the body and spirit of the last Humpie who visited. That’s kinda nutty stuff even if it is the way I felt at the time (still do). And, I suppose, it is a natural leap of nonsense to think that Sid might find another Cetacean if needed for a joint visit in the future. But even I can’t accept that John and Sid would both opt to switch rental vehicles from Humpy to Orca. The two Orcas were NOT Sid and John. I say that with the same conviction I said the first Humpy was likely John. This spirit animal thing is a weird path to wander…..

Whale Watching at Our Place

Sal went up to the community dock in her little boat with one of our guests the day before yesterday. I followed a few hours later with her husband. Two mile run, maybe ten minutes. Nothing transpired on the trip up for either of us. After our visit, we all got back into our respective boats and Sal’s wouldn’t start. Starter motor dead? Battery? What? So, I hand started it by pulling the hand-start rope-pull (duh) and off she went with me wondering how that ‘dead’ thing happened. Sal got about a half mile towards home and her engine started to overheat. We towed her back to the community dock. A magical, mystical, marine mechanic friend took a look at it the next day. “Hey, Dave! I checked it out. Runs perfect. Started like a gem, ran like a thoroughbred and I even put it in gear and ran it dockside for ten minutes. It’s fine.”

We went up yesterday and brought it home. Ran like a Swiss watch.

For those of you not mechanically inclined, an engine that is hard to start is reluctant for a reason but it is not from overheating after having sat idle for a few hours. And one that does start, then runs rough almost from the get-go and overheats less than three minutes later did not get that way because the starter didn’t work. Sal had contracted two separate outboard illnesses despite not even using the boat at the time! Then, like the mystery that is our life, it went away. Magically.

Did I mention that I am a bit confused these days?

We’ve had guests this past month. Three the first time, two the second and three again tomorrow. Then a week later more come. And so, obviously, the summer season is upon us. It’s all good. The guests are great. But I did realize one thing…..if you are going to be a guest, it is best to come early in the season. Why? Because then, the idea of ‘having guests’ is new and exciting. We love you! But, if you are slotted for September or early October and you are slated in as guests number 18 and 19 or, worse, even higher, the bloom has gone off the rose. We just do not love guests 14 and up as much as guests 1 to 10. Who woulda thunk?

I think I might……..

Politically? Well, I am relatively hard on politicians as a rule but I do feel sorry for John Horgan. Regardless if he is good, bad or ugly as our Premier, he has had Covid to deal with, site C, epidemic overdoses, homeless up-tick and now the forest fires from Hell. His job has been harder than our smiling-idiot, photo-op premiers have had in the past. I always think I can do a better job than they can (especially after Trudeau opens his mouth and spews even more inanities) but I confess that a year of Covid (and it is not even close to being over) followed by a summer of conflagration only to then be chased into 2022 with more Covid variants makes for a very stressful job. Poor Horgan might be the first politician I have not wanted to replace.

I have more snippets to share but I’ll spare you most of it; our shed progress, the log gathering saga that never seems to end, the strange weather, the latest sea-star loss (they seemed to be coming back and now they seem to be falling away again). Sal has been busier than Horgan although she is dealing with quilts and food deliveries, guests, wood cutting programs, story-telling, book-club, yoga, our Home Care program and a little sewing instruction at the school. If anyone out there thinks living OTG is somehow simple, basic and limited to primal survival, then you are mistaken. OTG Sally-style is more full and complicated than brain surgery, astrophysics and mapping the Human Genome combined.

Hmmmm.…? Maybe Sal should replace Horgan?

Whales, ravens and squirrels….

Well, whales, anyway. Whales made the local news yesterday. Humpback whales are huge. Typically when they come around, they are just passing through, sometimes they stay for a bite of marine tapas or take a deep dive to look around and then, mosey off. Humpbacks don’t hang around much. Yesterday was different.

The largest Humpy I have ever seen was blowing real close to shore a few times before I went out to look. There was just the one whale…sometimes Humpy’s travel in pairs. And there, about fifteen to twenty feet from shore just near the shallows was this great, black, barnacled whale doing a head-down dive complete with fully exposed, high-out-of-the-water flukes rising majestically before slowly descending into depths I didn’t know were there. It was incredible. I was stunned. Too stunned to run in and get my camera….sorry.

Once he came up right in front of the house and emerged head up, looking at the shore and so close that one big fluke-flip and he would be beached. I could see every scar and scratch. I could count the barnacles. I swear I even looked down his throat for a second but I am inclined to hyperbole so don’t take that statement without some sea-salt. But I was very close.

I watched this guy who never wandered more than fifty feet from shore dive, make bubble-cones (which drives the smelts and silvers up) and then he followed with his mouth wide open to catch them while his head rose about ten or so feet out of the water. And this is all done in the original slo-mo way that whales have. It is very impressive.

Humphrey (?) was chilling out front for the better part of half an hour. Odd behaviour for a whale. Half way through his visit, I started to think of my recently deceased friend, John. And that weird mental association stayed with me for some time – most of the day, actually. I just had a feeling……but I am inclined to sentiment and fantasy and even the spiritual so don’t put any stock in that.

I have a reader with an untidy mind. She inquired as to the loss of a few Canadian readers from her blog recently. And that noted absence would be Sid and J. And that is because the aforementioned friend (part of the last blog news) currently in hospital in critical condition is Sid. Sid will soon be joining John. He has a very slim chance, none at all, really. I’ll soon lose Sid.

I half expect Humphrey to come back soon. He may have a friend this time. We’ll see.

It has been hard to write….

I lost a good friend last week. Cancer. Fabulous guy. When he left, there was only a massive vacuum, an unfathomable hole in mine and many lives. He will be hugely missed (by hundreds, maybe thousands).

I won’t write too much more about it. Kinda feels like I am just sharing the news but he was so much more than just a news item. I do not want to diminish his loss in any way – even by writing in a blog about him.

But most of you never met him, anyway. And he wouldn’t mind. He rarely commented on the blog (occasionally…always anonymously…but never unrecognized) and that’s because we saw each other every week. Grumpy, old, septuagenarians do not, I think, have best friends – as in a ‘BFF’ kinda way. We are lucky to have any friends at all so we love ’em all equally. But, if I classified my friends that way, he’d be at the top. Still is, actually. This guy was always happy to see me and he always shouted a happy greeting. That’s a wonderful way to feel accepted and loved (every time!). Always made me smile. The memory of it still does.

I am writing now, a week plus since he passed, because I kinda have to…..the only thoughts I have had this week have been about him and, well, a lot of wood that needed moving…..the two thoughts, of course, are not directly related but, to be honest, just doing some heavy, bull work with more logs helped take my mind off it. I guess I am either going to miss him a lot or get a lot of work done. Life, eh?

I do have a little something to say….I have another friend in hospital (critical), another showing some bad signs (serious). And we also lost a family member (in-law) two weeks ago. Mortality has made itself too-much known lately.

I am not generally morbid by nature but you can understand if I seem a little oriented that way right now. Nothing like losing those you love to remind you of their gift, your own vulnerability and, of course, the inevitability of it all. And, if loss doesn’t do it, aging will. Every year is a renewal of reminders by way of aches and pains and the like. I may not go gentle into that good night, I may even rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light but, regardless of my departure style, depart I will.

But not too soon, I hope. I mean, there is always the danger of the next power tool taking a bite, the next big log asserting it’s weight, an errant propeller or even your basic everyday drowning opportunity but other than competing for a Darwin award, I am still chugging along fairly well. I am a septuagenarian looking ahead to my 80’s (I will not be looking much further ahead until I get there). I am more than lucky, I am blessed. I am triply blessed because Sal is good, too (she is easily worth two of me – thus the math that gets ‘triply’).

“I live in heaven with an angel.”

I’d like it to stay that way.

Economics for dummies

Apologies – this qualifies as a bit of a rant. I am writing in an attempt to answer my own question posed in the last blog: Why do I feel so confused?

Given my knowledge of the subject, I am qualified only as an Economic dummy and so that is who I write for. And that is who I am. I know nothing and that is what I have to share. Read at your peril.

Firstly, I think we can all agree that supply and demand are no longer the primary price setting metrics for much of anything. House prices, for instance, cannot be explained by supply and demand (did we get 50% more people in Canada last year?) but interest rates, mass hysteria, altered statistics and desperation certainly come into play. Food prices? Same kinda thing (are we all eating more all of a sudden?). We are all driving less – but look at gasoline prices….?

Of course, supply and demand are still factors but in say, avocadoes, the drug cartels also play a big role. Like the marketing boards. Like the CRTC does with internet services. Like the oil cartels do with fuel. And, of course, the government messes with the fundamentals all the time with money supply, interest rates and various policy mandates, not to mention taxes.

National budgets are now based more on threat and extortion, not basic scarcity or abundance. Or, better put: national budgets are based on taxes (whether they are affordable or not). Government first looks after government. Some pundits even theorize that inflation is a tax (of sorts) and the government plays with (or tries to) with inflation as an income stimulant (for them). If a country like Canada has an almost 50% tax rate, isn’t supply and demand altered/diluted by that?

Of course it is. Basic marketplace fundamentals (supply and demand) can no longer – nor have they ever been able to – fully explain economics despite what Samuelson wrote back in the 50’s. Paul said that it was all about scarcity and maximizing resources in a free market system. It just ain’t that simple anymore.

Now it is rigged.

Mind you, rigging the system is what we do. Always have. Fishermen, loggers, doctors, nurses, the whole enchilada constantly work to maximize their own, personal resources and do so with regulations, professional credentials, licenses, permits, laws, unions, corporations, political donations, monopolistic practices and, sometimes, just your basic cheating. Like the hockey player using his elbows in the corner, they push the limits of tolerance to maximize their position even if it means cheating. Samuelson never taught his students about cheating and cheating is a big part of any business or any ‘system’. “If you don’t cheat on your taxes (permits, regulations, payments, etc.) you will not succeed”. That has been the Capitalist ‘secret’ for as long as there has been money. See: Trump.

Bottom line: trying to figure out economics is now more than just a social science based on the behaviours of the buyer and the seller. Now it is a complicated soup of lying, cheating and manipulation as well.

“Dave! That is NOT news.” True. In fact, all the miscreants and parasites that influence our basic economics have been known for a long time and that is why some of the laws and regulations were originally written. That is why some standards and qualifications were required. Of course, that just means we are trying to control strong deviant forces with toothless regulators, cobwebs and some ‘stinkin’ badges’. They are there just for show and to shake down the little guy. They are largely ineffective. We are more corrupt than ever.

Which brings me to my point: something shifted awhile back. It was a morality shift. It was significant. The collective ‘we’ embraced lying and cheating even more so than ever before. It was like a collective side-step onto the dark side. Looking back, I am going to suggest that the start of the ‘slippage’ occurred starting in the 80’s and got a leg up, as it were, in the 2000’s.

This is a hard thing to describe but, when I was growing up, lying and stealing were not only heavily frowned upon, they were rarely encountered. And bear in mind I lived in more than a few ‘bad sections’ of various cities and towns. Naturally, lying and cheating and stealing were present but there was a larger ‘morality’ that influenced people – especially those in the same neighbourhood. Today? Not so much.

Side note: a lot of older people feel the Gen X’ers and Millenials have lost that earlier quasi moral compass. X and Millenials are supposedly marked by the ‘what’s in it for me’ maxim. Do I believe that? I don’t know. I am OTG. But it is a somewhat popularly held denigration.

The drug cartels in Mexico are now so entrenched, embedded in society, they are now the arbiters of much of Mexico, the de facto governors. Mexico is a narco state and it is failing as a society. So is the USA. Even Canada has a growing gang society. Six year-olds swear like Lenny Bruce, ten year-olds are over-dosing, 16 year-olds are shooting each other and petty theft is so common the police do not even look for the thieves or the stolen goods anymore. Hell, half the murders in the country are done by the police!

The previous president of the United States was and still is an unabashed liar and cheat who is infamous for also being selfish and narcissistic. He gave license to this mental and moral erosion. He enables it. He is followed by millions of dupes, trolls and propagandists who ‘in their heart’ support all that. They do NOT tolerate all that, they SUPPORT and PRACTISE all that!

We have always been bad. We have always lied and cheated. But NOT at this scale. This is different. We have, it seems, evolved and reinforced our worst ‘resources’ and lost much of our better ones. We have abandoned goodness and ethics and integrity to make (or steal) a buck. For some reason, we have slipped further than ever. We have become a society of porch pirates, car thieves, con men and cheats. How did that happen? And how do you plan, predict, manage and live in an economy based way too heavily on lies and deception?

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