Sally and me

We’ve been together for over fifty years as of the end of February. It has been great for me. I would sign up for another fifty in a heartbeat. Sal said she’s mulling it over, considering her options…….

I can think of no one possibly being a better partner than her but we have our quirks, our wrinkles, our differences. Well, to put it more bluntly: she’s a nut! But she is a loveable nut. And gorgeous. Plus she seems to ‘manage’ me and ‘deal’ with me in such a charming manner.

Still, we have our conflicts. Dishes is the big one (pretty much the only one). When we first came together, I said, “I do not do dishes. I have done way too many dishes in my life and the only line in the sand I bring to this relationship is that I do NOT do dishes. To be fair, I will buy new dishes every week; I will eat off dirty dishes; I will use paper plates; I will eat straight out of the pots and pans but – and let me make this perfectly clear – I do not do dishes!”

I was doing dishes within the first week. She is hard to say no to.

So, we’ve each been doing dishes for fifty years and, while she has done more of them, I have done tons more than I signed on for and I still manifest subtle jabs of resistance to this day. But, well, resistance is futile. I have been washed, rinsed and assimilated. We take turns at it virtually ‘every other day’ on dishes.

You guessed it: no machine dish washer living off the grid.

But we were NOT strictly scheduled into the every-other-day routine and some days I went three straight or she did. We couldn’t keep track. Of course, Sal, being like the Chinese water torture (somehow still charming, tho) she can be, kept trying to formalize it. “Sweetie, dishes…your turn. I did ’em last night.”

I have learned that little observation-fact-conclusion statements like that one have completely reconfigured my thinking, my life and my perspective. I am being subtly roped in, hog-tied and left at the sink so gently and with ‘love’, it is maddening. And hypnotizing. Did I mention the little touch on my arm accompanied by a heart-melting smile when she says things like that? Turns out I am made of putty – Silly putty, actually – and often found wrapped around her little fingers. Wooed into ever increasing domesticity by a charming, beautiful, psychopathic genius. I am helpless. I feel doomed.

I try to resist.

“OK, here’s the deal. I will do the dishes. Damn, damn, damn. But you still have to touch my arm and smile, OK?. No touch-and-smile is a deal-breaker. Got it?”

“Of course, Sweetie. You are so manly and cute when you put your foot down.” And she smiled and touched my arm. It was like looking Itsy-bitsy spider right in the eye. And I was being comforted by her web!

“But”, I said, thinking quickly, “I’ll do the even days. You do the odd. In that way, we can keep track. Odd-even, odd-even. OK?”

“Of course, Sweetie…deal”. I swore I heard a little cackle slip from her lips but I got the smile and the arm-touch and things kinda blur for me when that happens.

Still, I was smiling a bit. A bit too much, I guess. And the spider-woman was not amused. ‘Why would he be smilin’ like that?’

I had cheated her out of an extra week of dishes! On a leap year, it is eight days! Seven months end in 31 days (31 is an odd number) with the next day being the first of the month and it, too, is an odd number. I laughed out loud. Perhaps a bit maniacally…….

“WHAT!!!!! Why are you laughing????

I explained my Machiavellian plot. She did not take it well. Her lips became a hard line. The rosy cheeks went dark. Veins rippled in her forearms. There was a palpable volcanic presence suddenly in the room. I backed away. Slowly.

We may be great partners but we are different people. She’s sweet, beautiful, noble and full of grace. I am slugs and snails and puppy-dog tails. With slime on top. But we at least now kinda ‘share’ doin’ the dishes….ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

Thar she blows!

If you live up the coast and especially if you live ‘on the water’, you need a boat. If you have a boat, you pretty much need a dock. 70% of residents have docks, 20% use community docks and 5 or 10% use ‘lines’, anchors and floats and then they just make-do. Virtually no one has a boat totally exposed to the prevailing winds (SE) altho a few boats temporarily at anchor might make the mistake of anchoring in that direction and then, when there is a major storm, they either move the boat or just worry the whole time.

So, from that paragraph just written above, you’d think that most people can relax in a major storm. NOT SO!!

Of the aforementioned 70% barely 5% have so-called legal docks. Most folks have temporary docks (which makes them legal) but the definition of temporary is the lack of pilings, dolphins or other fixed elements that keep the docks in place securely. And safely. The vast majority have docks that are really just large floats. Those floats may be anchored and tied with lines-to-shore but they do not have fixed-point pilings or dolphins. When a major storm hits, these dock/floats move around. A lot!!!

Today, a lot of temporary docks all up and down the coast are leaping, jumping and dancing wildly.

Our neighbour’s dock (the one on which we rely for our boats) is leaping like Mikhail Baryshnikov on a mechanical bull. It is crazy wild over there. We should know – we just came back from checking on it. Holeeee!!!

Because the float is essentially just anchored, the lines get tight and get slack as the wind and seas change from minute to minute. The ramp which ties the float to the land is swinging fifteen feet to the North on a strong gust and then ‘bounces back’ an equal amount South when the wind abates. Our ramp was describing 30 foot plus arcs down there.

When the ramp is going left and right like a windshield wiper (albeit a lot slower), that means that the dock way out at the end is moving even more so. And, while everything is moving sideways, it is also leaping up and down. One minute you can see an anchor line get taught and the next you can see that line disappear under the water while the line on the opposite side is as tight as a bow string. What actually keeps all this ‘flotilla’ together is, of course, just wet wood, ropes and cables. Some ropes are new and strong (but small) and others are old and thick (salvaged hawsers) but they have weight and the weight dampens the shock.

If you want to dampen the shock on the lines properly, you put kellets half way down the line. A kellet is a weight and at least 30 pounds is ideal. Flat sheet steel is even better (heavy and with surface resistance). They make the line just that much heavier and, if used with a ‘bottom’ anchor, it also improves the pull-angle. Kellets are good and we have them on the critical lines.

The true weakness in the ‘temporary float’ system is that the dock-float is usually made of wood and the lines are tied to wooden cleats and/or frames. The ropes can take a lot more force than can the actual wooden float unless it is very well engineered and even then….

The advantage of temporary dock floats is that you do not need a permit (a bureaucratic process designed and administered by demons and cretins), it is cheaper to install and the property taxes don’t include them as an improvement. Why? Because in concept the float is just a different kind of flat-boat at anchor. And then smaller boats tie up to it. Boats are not considered improvements.

The disadvantage is that it is just not as safe. In fact, our dock comes apart every year at some point or another. At least once. The rope breaks, the wood comes away, the anchor moves, the lines somehow get tighter and looser. Temporary dock/floats are permanent work. But the upside is the demons and cretins are happy.

Today, we are experiencing a real test of our dock/float system but it seems to be holding. Rather well, actually. Sal and I, on the other hand, returned to the warmth of our wood stove after half an hour of being diligent about checking on it but we (poor babies) got kinda wet and cold. A half hour of that was enough!

Optimism….kinda…

It is January 2, 2021 and I am looking forward to the new year. Normally, New Year is just another date on the calendar for me. Just a number. But 2020 was so bad in so many ways, I am really looking for any signs of renewal and change in 2021. Like many, I am hoping that the new set of numbers means something more than just a new set of numbers.

We’ll see.

It howled again last night. Wind, rain, choppy seas. Howling courtesy of our wind turbine (with a gusty Southeaster on bass and a roiling sea on percussion). Sal woke up at 3:00. I was wide awake at 5:00. We can handle storm. We have a harder time with turbine. The turbine is a maniacal banshee!

Typically wind-turbines have an ‘overspeed’ brake so that the blades do not go so fast the insides come apart. The brake is centrifugal so it only comes on when the wind is really high (35 mph plus). The brake is noisy. Sounds like a big dog barking. Our turbine barked every five or ten minutes for five seconds or so each time – for hours. I asked Sal if I should throw a rope over it or did she want to go up the tower. “Neither. Use the shotgun and as many shells as you need.”

As you can guess, she was a bit less sweet and cheery this morning. Still, the shotgun idea had crossed my mind. But the wind is now down and the turbine can be ignored. So…..

I went down to the dock this morning to check everything. It was all good. The boat was pretty full of water (the auto bilge pump didn’t kick on, tho). They rarely do. Rule dominates the bilge pump market and 20% of their pumps just do not work. Pure crap right out of the box. Of the other 80%, they have a limited functioning lifespan – maybe a couple of years – and the bottom line is nobody trusts their bilge pumps. We have two of them to increase our chances of one of them working when we need it to. One is a ‘turn on the pump’ manually kind and the other is a self starting automatic (hah!). We check ’em both every day.

This new year is really hard to predict. Trump will likely persist somewhat but so long as it diminishes, it could be entertaining to watch all the failing that will ensue. I will never get sick of seeing Trump fail. Any Trump getting punched in the face will do (save for Baron – he may be OK). On the other hand, I do not want to see Trump sr. rise far enough to fail as epically as this last time but he does seem to have a Dorian Gray kinda life so he may rise again like the flying orange pig he is. They have a name for his special kind of narcissism: Dorian Gray Syndrome.

A few things portend, tho. I have been witnessing mini-docs (You-Tube) on homelessness in LA and San Francisco. It’s crazy! There are 70,000 homeless in Manilla. There are 50,000 homeless in Mumbai. And there are 36,000 homeless in Los Angeles, the city of angels! There are officially 3000 in Vancouver and 1500 in Victoria (I think more). Projecting from all of that is my rough guess that there are probably close to a million homeless in N. America. You know…the first world? Homelessness in LA is up 70% in the last couple of years. Conclusion: the days of just crazy bag-ladies with shopping carts are over and a new sub-group of uber-marginal untouchables is emerging. Some streets in LA are littered end to end with tents and tarps. With the odd limp body scattered here and there for colour…..

Ordinary life-job-work-lifestyle is also changing. So is ‘life’ outside of work and home – restaurants and social venues are closing. Movie houses are empty. Bars, gyms, concerts et al are mothballed. Our world is going to change and it already has to a large extent. And I do not see the innovative ‘answers’ or entrepreneurial responses to any of that…not yet, anyway. We may just have a dystopian period to live through and 2021 will not see the changes we need. Maybe not even by 2022….

Still, I am feeling optimistic but I can only see one reason why…it is the beginning of a new year, we have a new number, and I am really hoping it indicates something substantially ‘new’ is coming.

Vexed, I am.

Mortgage rates are at record lows. Five year fixed is as low as 1.5% (HSBC) and my guess is, that with a good down payment and a good credit rating, it would be easy to borrow even as much as $1,000,000 (previously an unheard of amount for ‘worker-bees’) from the Big three for under 2%. In whacked-theory, one can borrow their way to millionaire status. (Well, I guess it is not all-that-whacked a theory since the Grifting Trumps have ‘borrowed’ and defaulted their way to billionaire status.)

The economy is on the ropes in some ways (hospitality, travel, retail) but, in others, it has never been better (delivery services, post, net-based businesses) The US economy ‘grew’ by 38% on an annualized basis in the 3rd quarter (admittedly, it was down 33% in the second quarter so, overall, it is stable at about a 4% annualized growth). But what a wild swing! Housing prices in most of Canada’s markets are past the balloon stage and now into a new un-reality stage.

And that is showing up rurally, too. I.e. Rents in Nelson for a modest 2-bedroom home are $2500 (that is relevant because $2500 a month pays off a purchase price of approximately $750,000 which means some little rented bungalow in Nelson might fetch $750K on the market). And that madness is playing out in all the small desirable towns especially on Vancouver Island. Commercial sites in Victoria are setting new records (altho those sites are generally multiple family residential sites). Put more bluntly, we have a lopsided economy and that makes for very weird analysis and crazy projections.

Our national unemployment rate is still averaging around 6% and even touched 13% for awhile. Covid is raging all over the place. The government is spending like a drunken sailor and, of course, the country’s debt has never been greater. And yet…the Canadian loony is up a bit against the US dollar which is oddly (to me) also considered strong.

The inflation rate is projected to be modest at 1.5% (approx) but real life suggests more like 5% (lately even more). If one adds in the housing index (which they do not always do) and it is higher.

Carnival Cruiselines just launched the biggest cruise ship ever and Boeing has re-debuted their new no-crash 737 max. Duh…….??? Is anyone traveling still?

And on and on and on and on……..I won’t bore you anymore than usual with any more facts….the point is: all the ‘indicators’ are acting counter-intuitively and contrary to previous economic times. The ‘message’ is mixed and, for dummies like me, confusing. I DO NOT GET IT.

Shouldn’t gold have gone through the roof? Shouldn’t real estate be stable at best and, commercial values (retail space) fall? Shouldn’t the Canadian dollar also be falling against say the Euro or even the US dollar? Shouldn’t the price of fuel drop? Why are luxury yachts and boats so expensive (yachts have always been the canary in the economic coal-mine)? Why is the US stock market up? Is it simply the low cost of borrowing? Is it a not-as-yet-recognized new stay-at-home economy driving all this? How come Ali-Express is 3 – 6 months behind in shipping? Have people abandoned previous financial goals and, if they can, they are simply ‘getting out’ to small towns?

Maybe the biggest question I have is why is Netflix so boring lately?

Eccentric Heroes

I have more than just a few friends out here. It’s a great community. But, I have to acknowledge, they are all a smidge odd. Which is OK, I like ‘odd’. Odd is good. In fact, odd is the more sane adjective applicable to many of my regional OTG friends.

Next up the descriptive ladder would be quirky and I like quirky, too. Sal is a big fan of quirky but knowing Sal as I do, that only makes sense. She was born in England and quirky is a bona fide industry over there. Sally is pretty quirky by Canadian metrics but barely registers on the British Quirky Standard (BQS). She claims her BQS rating is VSG (‘very stable genius’) so that kind of says it all right there.

After quirky we move up to eccentric and then, after eccentric, we get crazy and the last category of those heavily medicated but still living freely amongst the rest of us is mad-as-a-hatter or the more colloquial, ‘Whacked’. We have ’em all out here and they are all accepted if not frequently embraced (especially recently, what with Covid and all). This is a colourful (read: goofy) community and I am a big fan.

But the majority of the ‘local colour’ are also fiercely independent. Sometimes acting so independent in so many ways just adds to the Canadian quirky (CQS) rating. An Oddfellow can rise to the quirky or even eccentric fellow status when they carry independence to an extreme. And they mostly all do.

One fabulous fellow walked into the forest a decade or so ago with a chainsaw and some hand-tools and, a year or so later, launched his 45 foot hand-hewn, wooden sailboat. With mast. Then he launched it. Of course, you can’t make your own engine from the forest so his ‘yacht’ doesn’t have an engine. C’mon, that is not only odd, independent and genius, it is very, very unique.

Last week a friend-of-the-same-feather left for points south. I took his boat to our neighbour’s dock so that it could be watched while he was gone. Then yesterday he called and asked to be picked up so that he could go home. He had visited family enough and wanted back. I picked him up and took him to his boat. He needs that smaller boat to ‘zip up’ the coast 30 or so miles to get to his bigger boat that he had left at anchor in a remote bay. He had some groceries, a small pack and his best buddy, his dog. But he was moving gingerly.

“OK, dawg?”

“Yup. Jus’ a little sore.” Given that he, too, is almost a septuagenarian and still working physically regular shifts out in the boondocks, being a bit sore did not register with me as unusual. We are all a little sore out here. But then it came out. While visiting family he had undergone major surgery. He had all-too fresh wounds and bandages and stitches and the whole nine-yards. Ninety-nine percent of us would have spent a few weeks recuperating. I would have stretched it to a year!

So, here was this guy, all alone but for his dog, heading off to a remote bay miles from anywhere. It was raining, it was cold, the wind was up and he was wounded. Barely a peep out of him. He didn’t linger because the days are short and dusk was looming. He had miles of choppy seas to cover. Sal gave him some Xmas goodies and off he went. When he eventually got to his larger vessel, the boat was NOT where it was supposed to be – it had drifted a bit – so he pulled up the chain and the anchor and re-set it. In the dark. Alone. Post-op.

Barely a peep (which makes sense – there was no one there to hear one).

But this is where we add a little more colourful independence to the story: just before he came down to leave his small boat with us, he was setting up the anchoring system for the big boat and, when doing so, he fell and tumbled down some rocks and cut, banged and scratched himself all to hell. He had a bit more trouble doing the final part of the anchoring because his right arm wouldn’t go up past his chest. And, of course, there was all the bleeding and he was drenched. If he grabs the arm with his left hand and throws it up, he can hold it up there to do what he needs to do but lifting it under his own power is impossible. I suspect that he must have hit his head, too. Probably many, many times….repeatedly….over decades……

That is the only explanation…..

Heroic? I guess not by Hollywood standards. And no dogs, children or females were rescued in the scenes described above but this is a man who, in modern times, deals with what the world throws at him and does it rather nobly if not heroically. Never asks for a thing. Independent in the extreme.

Honestly? I do not know how you see it, but I am impressed all to hell.

Santa Claws?

For the most part, I describe living out here in quasi-realistic, honest terms. There is a bit of ‘idyllic’ inserted now and then to allow for the OTG booster I am, too. Basically, I tell the truth and just maybe not share all the little ‘irritations’ of life off the grid. That is not because I am a Rebecca-of-Sunnybrook-type, I am not. It is just that there are NOT THAT MANY irritations. But there are some. My highline snapped a couple of weeks ago and I have to repair it but the lower anchor point is underwater (tides) during the day so I have to postpone that and, for a grouchy guy, postponement is frustrating. And so it goes. Freezing pipes, engines not starting, running out of something….little issues that, in summer, do not even add up but, in winter….well, winter can be a bit vexing all by itself, too.

We just came back from five days in Victoria. Went to see a dentist and visit briefly with family. Of course, when in town, one also shops a bit. So, all in all, five days of hell-on-wheels (our Pathfinder). I can’t believe how much time in my life I wasted in traffic. After the dentist, it was snowing heavily and Sal and I were hungry and so we stopped in a funky li’l cafe for a soft lunch and….well, I can’t believe how much of my life I wasted on waiting for a sandwich in funky cafes, either. From Costco to Pagliacci’s, it all seemed like moving wet cement uphill.

However, none of that is the blog-story today. Today is about a Santa imposter. I took our woodstove heater door off before we left to go South. Had to. I broke the glass in the door a few days prior and one needs one’s woodstove working full-tilt up here in the winter. I dropped it off at the wood-stove-repair guy.

When I took off the door a small blast of cold air came down the chimney so I folded two thick layers of cardboard and duct-taped that faux-door over the opening to keep drafts from blowing ash into the house while we were away.

When we came home, it was getting on and we had a ton of crap to unload. So, we got on it but first I turned on the water system and Sal started the wood stove. The house temperature was 42 degrees F, 5 degrees C. It was cold! as we worked to put stuff away, the fire started to raise the temp but five hours and a lot of wood later, we were still only at 60 degrees and still bundled up.

“Hey! Sweetie! I think we had an earthquake while we were gone. There are a lot of little items that have fallen to the floor”. We looked around and concluded that it must have been an earthquake but there was also a hint here and there that it may have been a critter. Mice would have done more damage and left too much irrefutable evidence. NOT mice.

But, what?

I went out to start the genset and, when I came in, I saw our intruder looking at me from under the sideboard in the dining area. It was a big, beautiful shiny, healthy squirrel. I couldn’t resist, “Hey, Sal! Look, a squirrel!”

Sal is very brave in spirit and/or when taking life-threatening challenges at sea. But, in the presence of small, wild, mammals in the house, she is girlishly hysterical. When the shrieking died down (and the noise froze the squirrel in it’s tracks and she/he just sat there wide-eyed, looking at Sal and, as you can guess, that just raised the screaming an octave or two), we got to chasing the little bastard. He first ran around the lower floor and so did we. Then he ran up stairs and I followed. Sal stayed down to ‘hold the fort’. I opened the back door (mid-landing on the stairs) for his easy departure but felt obliged to go upstairs and herd him towards it. After a comedic ten minutes or so, our guy made a bee-line towards the back door. Just as he was about to exit, he spun 180 degrees and headed down the stairs straight at Sal (armed only with a pillow and a cushion, she was no match for the squirrel and emergency shrieking was once again invoked). Sal went one way, the squirrel sauntered past her and returned to the living room. And the chase was on again.

Over the next 30 minutes or so, the squirrel clung to window screens, ran along elevated ledges, hid under furniture and basically covered every square foot of the downstairs. He was accompanied by the sounds of two people chasing him with flashlights and pillows and yelling ridiculous orders at one another (including the squirrel). It was mayhem.

I had also opened a window which ‘Santa’ had run past at least two times but, on his third and final circuit of the living room, he saw the open off-ramp in it and took off. “Holeee!!! What a squirrel! What a couple of nuts!”

Sal still looked a bit unnerved. “But how did he get in? What the hell?”

It was then I noticed the discarded cardboard door. There was chewed hole in it. I looked carefully and the hole had been chewed through from the inside out. The damn guy had come down a virtually vertical 16 foot long, sooty, steel-pipe chimney after first gaining entry by climbing up a 30 degree steel roof and a four foot SS insulated chimney. He had gummy bears for feet! But he must have fallen some of that distance and then found himself on top of the inner part of the stove having landed on the (now cold) heat retention baffle. Had the fire being burning, he would have been a roasted squirrel. Best laid plans of mice and men are not as good as those of squirrels, it seems. He did NOT go agly. “Hmmmmm, now that I am covered in soot and everything is pitch black, I will simply start chewing on whatever is chewable and see where that gets me.”

Welcome to Chez Cox.

Our squirrel, now named Santa Claws (Gumshoe to his friends of which there are none) fell down the chimney, ate through the two layers of cardboard and simply could not get back out until we came home to facilitate his departure. He knocked a few light, decorative items around in a fit of pique, tried a bit of over-ripe banana and basically spent much too much time rifling through our allegorical drawers.

Not a very traditional Xmas this year so far……….

Hmmmm……?

Thinking…I am…..

So, there is always a sense that January 1 is a ‘new day’ a ‘new year’ and a fresh beginning. It never is. Not really. Come January, we have the same job, the same mortgage, the same spouse, the same car and so on and so on. If anything, January 1 is the ultimate ‘same ol’, same ol’ statement writ large and sometimes with a hangover to boot.

Or is it….this time?

If any one year (in my lifetime) ever deserved to be retired and forgotten, it is 2020. A close contender for that would be the last four years in aggregate but, as bad as Trump was since 2016, he was even worse in 2020. Everything was worse in 2020! Pandemic, recession, loss of international cooperation, division, violence, extra racism and mismanagement in all things. Honestly? If every decision made by the White House swamp-creatures was simply made by flipping a coin, the results would have been twice as good. They have demonstrated incompetence in it’s purest form. And we have Trudeau!

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo threw a Xmas party and invited 900 people. 70 Rsvp’d and less than that showed up. Even Pompeo did not show! Those dorks can’t even throw a party.

But, all that notwithstanding, where does it all now stand? Where is the world headed post Trump? In what direction are we headed? Put metaphorically, usually the ship of state is moving in one direction and then a new captain is piped aboard and the ship might alter course or even make a sharp turn but, no matter, the ship keeps moving. NOT SO MUCH this time. This time the Allied ships are all aground.

The US (and Canada and many others) are currently frozen or, at least, seem moribund in the mud. No one is looking ahead with growth, progress or optimism in mind. They are still fighting the last years battles and making new problems just doing that. The US (et al) has staggering debt. The dead keep piling up (the US is gonna hit 750K – maybe 1M) and their e-infrastructure has just been Royally hacked – just to mention more than just a few lost battles on other fronts. In the meantime, their nation is riven with discontent, anger, racism and the American Dream has been washed from everyone’s view but the stinking rich. America is not a happy or functional place. Worse, it does not seem like a safe place to either live or visit.

And, even though we are a smidge better off, our time will come. We have the same basic problems. In fact, ours might be greater. Why? Because we are a country that depends too much on the dysfunctional nation to the immediate south of us and those guys are simply not doing at all well. We will feel that. Soon. Now, maybe.

I say this as if it is all in the future and, weirdly, it still does seem that way to me. Real estate prices in BC have never been higher. Record real estate goings on…….retail sales (on line) at a record pace….. inflation seems to be making a comeback…..but….

….we are facing material shortages already. Just about every place is reporting “….hard to get that stuff lately. It all comes from the US and they also seem to be on long back-orders.” Food prices are going up. Canadians on pace to set a record in personal savings (not spending) at the same time as bankruptcies and unemployment surges (can’t spend). It is all a very mixed message.

My immediate guess is that some things will do better, most things will do worse. Major changes in ‘normal life’ will come and most will be adjusted to rather better than my usual instincts suggest (i.e. Save-ON is doing boffo these days due to their new shop-and-delivery service for instance). Restaurants will fall like dominoes…and so it goes.

Some changes will be due to Covid, others due to our too-close relationship with the US. Some changes will come from the ‘recovery’ efforts and some will come from the ‘failures’. Some will also come from the increasing effects of climate change and some will come from even more new technology. Plus the baby boomers are rapidly exiting the scene due to aging and the inevitable result of too much of that. 2021 may herald a new dawn but that novelty does not necessarily bring silver linings.

So, the question for you, dear reader: please pick any BIG topic, project the future of it and the projected timeline. I would very much appreciate even a short prognostication. Long is OK, too. My synopsis? 2021 will be better but not good in most things, really great in a few areas and way too many small and medium catastrophes all around. I figure that to be the case til the end of 2022….. for the US. Til the end of 2024 for Canada.

Howard summarized

As you know, I read Howard Adelman. He is NOT an ‘expert’ on anything. He seems to be an expert on just about everything. Smartest person I know. He writes a lot on Middle East politics – especially about Israel, Iran and that sort of thing. He does a lot with the Hebrew Bible and the Torah, too. And he occasionally dabbles in politics…..

He wrote a much longer piece on Trump’s followers which I have distilled into THIS:

HOWARD: ‘Polling’ of Trumplican Believers has found that about 80 percent of the president’s voters are willing to believe that the election was rigged against him. They will believe anything he says even when the proven lies keep getting repeated, reinvented and the goal posts are changing daily. 71% of Republicans and 79% of Trump voters want Trump to run again. How does any of that make sense? It cannot be because of the lack of correct and official information. But, but, but….there ARE reasons why people believe lies.

First, you must have one key ingredient, an authority figure/spokesperson who holds high office/status/influence/celebrity. They become the latest new idol. Who better than a golden, fatted, celebrity with money, babes and unusual charisma to spark a faith-based movement?

Second, the believer has to be immune to irony and satire. They do not look beyond the image. Trumplican believers see and hear the first ‘believe-in-me’ message from their shiny, orange leader/idol claiming their holiness and then the followers take the second message – usually a total lie – not as false or ironic, but rather as a token of reinforcement for the leader – not as fact/information per se. Take it or leave it but do you believe in me? The lies about the Inauguration audience set the tone. The more outrageous the lie, the better. Why? Because the liar is selling the audience on him/her, their personality, their charisma, their ‘outrageousness’. “Believe in me or leave the tent!”

The third requirement: a plausible mechanism to blame on any resistance – in the case of the alleged elections theft – lost ballots and faulty voting machines. On a more general basis, the media, the FBI, the Libtards and the Dems. The more ‘enemies’ identified, the better to cement your followers. “What unites us is our anger and hatred of the others!”

There is a fourth important element to it all as well – the confidence/certainty/endless repetition of lies. It’s brainwashing, pure and simple. Lies stated with authority spread faster and stick harder. Even when proven false, it just becomes an issue of ‘keeping the faith’. Believe! Believe! Believe! It is no wonder Evangelicals flocked to Trump – he appeals to their faith-based follower instincts.

Of course, fifth, there is an underlying self-serving purpose for the grifter/con-man, whether for or on behalf of the Republican congressmen, Trump cronies, Guiliani/Flynn/et al and, naturally, with Trump himself who is reaping in a fortune by promulgating the lie which keeps on giving. They all have their selfish motives.

Sixth, we, the better-educated, are also at fault for dismissing such believers and we alienate them when we try to educate them. When we mix mockery with correcting the misinformation, we make it more difficult to be heard/believed especially when the lesser-informed are offered simpler, basic, alternative answers that are more easily and readily understood.

Seven, there is serendipity. Luck played a role in Trump winning 2016 (he did NOT win the popular vote) and in his losing in 2020. He rolled 7’s to get in (2016). Covid came up snake eyes for him in 2020.

Eight, again who else benefits from all the lies besides the primary liars? Who else is served who ‘goes with the flow’? Lawyers, newscasters, experts, intellectuals, mandarins, all live in a well-paid, rarefied world where expertise, where science, where knowledge, where skilled analysis, are all ‘news’ kings in the information age. They sell themselves into that world, too. They did OK even while the hoi polloi suffered. Trump boosted the NY Times, Washington Post’s and CNN’s revenues just to name a few. Carnage, chaos, mayhem, spectacle will do that for the careers of ‘experts’, talking heads and publishers as well as the crooks and the conmen.

Plus there is the division created by the con and the media to help drive the wedge between those worlds all that much deeper. The majority of people do not benefit from that more privileged world so the division has been there for a long time. The majority are not so privileged in the new information age. They were really just hoping for new and different. They are the marginalized, the rejected, the dejected and the deplorables. They are, thus, much more susceptible to the con/grifter when the con artist uses the media to connect with the wanna-be-believers whose faith in the ‘establishment’ is already mortally wounded.

Nine, and what if those elitist, privileged, self-identified defenders of truth are actively and obviously working against your new idol? When such an apparent battle/contradiction prevails, mutual and national trust/cooperation/unity is not easily recaptured but loyalty and faith are highly valued for ‘your team’. In the USA branding is perceived as a business having value. Trump himself has proved that.

Ten, there is premise called the principle of falsifiability. It states: that something can only be claimed to be true if there is a way of disproving it. 100% conviction is not truth. A conclusion following a skeptical examination could/might be. With the epistemological odds loaded against the defenders of the principle of falsification, the following assertions of fact, that can be (and are) easily falsified are simply ignored or drowned in a river of lies.

I doubt that I did Howard justice but there it is. Do I believe what he says? Yep. Mostly. If I have a problem with the article is that it is, essentially, a ‘hindsight’ opinion, a post-mortem almost. Do I really care what elements were engaged to create an Orange tyrant, a political Charlie Manson, a Bubba-oriented Jim Jones? Answer: not really. These celebrity ‘phenoms’ come along all the time. Most are harmless. Actors, rock stars…. Having said that, maybe if we understood the phenomena better, we could kill it off before it takes it’s second breath.

Old Chinese saying: ‘Same but different’

Yesterday was just another normal OTG day out here….I welded up a work cart for the old, resurrected, miracle genset, Sal went to the community dock to distribute the delivery-food orders and we putzed about doing other minor chores. It was all good.

But it started out on a harsh note: We have birds. Ravens, eagles, robins, the whole panoply of avian buddies. And we generally like ’em all (how can one NOT like a bird?). But, to be fair, the Seagulls are not our favourites. I don’t know why….maybe just because…..

Anyway, it DOES seem like the Seagulls are the low-bird on the totem pole with other birds, too. The ravens don’t like ’em, that’s for sure. And, God knows, the eagles don’t like ’em either because the gulls always chase and harass the eagles after the eagle has caught a fish or something. Yesterday morning two eagles had clearly had enough…..they swooped down and killed a seagull. Bam! Then they ate the seagull al fresco on the beach. It was kind of dramatic in a feathers-everywhere kinda way. The interesting thing is that seagulls generally flock together. But after the eagles ate Johnathon, there was not a gull in sight. None today, either. The Eagles sent a message. The gulls heard it.

The day before we re-decked the ramp with the assistance of two younger people who have moved up onto a neighbouring island. My neighbour had brought in the supplies and we went over to assist the ‘young people’ (likely in their late 30’s) and the task only took us all about four hours. It was a good job, we all worked together well and the result is very satisfying.

The day before Sal and I still had a few logs to haul up the cliff but they were too heavy for Sal to raise with the block and tackle. So I went down and did the pulling. One log got jammed and so I pulled harder…..spel-l-l-ung! The highline is a fixed overhead cable that I had installed about 13 years ago (maybe 12) and I knew that it was getting a bit rusty around the lower end. I planned on replacing but, well, you know how it is….I hadn’t done it. The cable had snapped. Down it all came. 3/8″ galvanized cable broke like a shoe-lace. And so the logs remain in situ.

The problem is that, in the winter months, the tides are high in the daylight hours. And I need access to the anchor rock/boulder/out cropping into which I drill so as to fasten the cable. I cannot get access to it without immersing myself up to my neck. Hard to do any rock drilling that way, too. So, I either go and drill at 3:00 in the morning (not bloody likely) or I wait until the early spring to re-establish the high-line. I have chosen the latter.

Anyway, I loaned my son my rock drill and don’t have it back yet.

Plan B for the logs is to ‘man-handle’ them half up the beach on a high tide and then, when the water recedes, cut off a length and move that chunk further up the beach so as to start the drying process. Repeat as required until the larger heavy logs are in smaller pieces. We’ll see how that goes.

Interesting? Not really. Eagles eat others, cables break, welding sucks….but the larder is full, the ramp is great and we now have a new, weird work-cart. Basically, it is all just an ‘ordinary’ day in a ‘different kind of way’. Same but different.

I might’ve got the bug….

….the conspiracy bug!

Well, the truth is I do NOT have the conspiracy bug. Not the normal ones, anyway. I do not generally believe in conspiracies simply because they are always too complicated, too long term and such massive undertakings for anyone to even attempt to pull off, let alone dream up in any kind of detailed plan.

Conspiracy theorists assume cooperation, timing, unlimited budgets, a collective unconsciousness of the rest of us and the mutually shared goal of world domination as planned and executed by a global network of uber-rich, evil geniuses. Not bloody likely.

In the real world where most businesses, half the marriages and many, many people simply fail at their own personal-world levels, where governments fail at an even higher rate and where the trains, planes and buses rarely run on time, how can we assume some perfect evil-doing on a large and earth-shattering scale being secretly and expertly undertaken by secret cabals? And why are all the ‘imagined’ evil-doers rich and close to one another? The Queen and Bill Gates together with Jews and Muslims and bankers are all in on a secret, evil pact…..to have sex with children in pizza parlours…???!!

On the other hand…..

….I had a thought last night that puts me in much the same mindset, I suppose. I mean, how crazy is this theory……….?

It all started from the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, and his Attorney General, Ken Paxton, attempting to file lawsuits against Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin for allowing mail-in voting. They allege that the crooked Democrats exploited the C-19 virus to change the voting ‘climate’ (mail-in voting) that allowed Biden to win. Pure madness. Politically crazy, legally insane and personally humiliating and – more to the point – virtually impossible to succeed.

But there is the twist – Texas made the filing (or the attempt) at the last hour just before the elections act enacted the Safe Harbour clause – a rule that puts closure on all electoral matters as of a certain date (yesterday). They can’t possibly win at anything regarding the election as of today. They are ‘frustrated’ by the law.

“So, why did they do it?”

And it is that obvious and inevitable futility that got me to thinking…..

……Rudy Guiliani has trekked across the states fulminating over nonsense in fake (GOP only) hearings only to admit having no evidence when he actually got before a court. Various mouthpieces aligned with Trump have done much the same in their own home states. Trump has filed over 50 lawsuits and has failed at every effort. Pennsylvanian Republicans tried to get the Supreme Court to overturn their election – and that ludicrous appeal was denied. And more and more ‘little’ nutcases from Roger Stone to some state governors have shored up those futile efforts with public statements of their own. Basically, all these idiots are painting scarlet letters on themselves and becoming humiliated, ridiculed and vilified for their actions.

Given that all of these people are power-mad, greedy, selfish, ignorant and spiteful to the point of hatred, why would they risk pushing the system to the brink – the one that has enriched them so far? Why would these fools put their ‘status’ at risk now that it is clear that Trump has lost?

I could only come up with one reason and it is, I admit, totally mad. Colour me conspiracy nuts. This is the craziest thing I have ever said: the reason the GOP Trumpists are doing this is because the GOP is fomenting Civil War. I know it sounds insane and it is but why else would liars, cheaters and pigs risk their access to the public purse by pursuing alienating behaviour that has no chance for success?

Answer: because they may have higher seats in the resulting new Confederate States? Because it MAY have a chance for success amongst the army of Kool-Aid drinking Bubbas and the white Supremacists? And there are, it seems, almost 70 million of them. Bubbas do not need evidence, facts, legal process or proof. They don’t need no stinkin’ badges! They BELIEVE. Those folks are ready to rumble and, with enough provocation, they will. They are already overly well-armed, they are mean-spirited, stupid and they are cult followers of Trump. They are an Oxycontin force of OAN and Fox News lie-eaters already marching around with automatic rifles and trying to stir up trouble wherever they go. They are Kyle Rittenhouse in packs and militias. And they wanna fight.

(Arizona GOP official,”Stop the Steal” right-wing activist, who tweeted he was “willing to give up my life for this fight” and added: “Are you?” )

The GOP and the Trumpists are dividing the nation in every way they can. And they have been doing that for decades. Is it a conspiracy theory to imagine that they would go one step further and start a civil war?

It is just a thought…. a paranoid one, I’ll give you that…but just a thought from someone who knows nothing but is interested in human behaviour and who also has an overly vivid imagination…… and, well, it is probably just more bags of crazy for the crazy-making but ……..I was jus’ sayin’…..