Welcome

Circa '68

Show ‘em don’t tell ‘em is the writers’ rule

Why keep on coming by, unless you see this site as cool?

Journalese, Ecologese, Free Enterprese, Philosophese

Loggerese, Psychologese, I’m at ease in all of these

Bureaucratese, Intellectualese, neither bring me to my knees

Marketese, well that’s a breeze

And Pollenese will make you sneeze

I like to think that what I’m saying isn’t said in vain

That in any of these languages, my meaning will be plain

So drop on by once in a while, for more than just one date

You never know, you might find that we can communicate

My Whimsical Garden-Spring 2015

Posted by on June in Jest Thinkin' | 0 comments

My Whimsical Garden-Spring 2015

The resident wild grass, grown long at the back of my half acre, has fallen to the swishing, rhythmic scythe.  It serves now as mulch around the sour cherry whose fruit I will later share with various birds…..if I get to it in time. It serves likewise a couple of alders being cultivated for shade and a hazelnut with its twisted branches entwined.

The Freshly-mulched Sour Cherry

The Freshly-mulched Sour Cherry

A patch of winter-seeded barley is heading out, roots presumed to be running deep into packed sandy soil to help break it up and improve percolation and nutrient transfer. It’s a lovely tall cereal grass with a beautiful seed-head. Some of its straw I’ll weigh down in my ponds next year, to break down and discourage algae. Up to now I have purchased it packaged in cube form.

Barley Heading Out Beautifully

Barley Heading Out Beautifully

A small electric Earthwise roto-tiller purchased last fall  has made the newly-aerated ground far less hospitable to the sheep sorrel with which I have previously been plagued. Very durable tines. It leaps and bucks when hitting rocks but isn’t so heavy as to make that unmanageable. Once again electric tools are proving to be good value.

004b

The extension of the bird-run around two sides of the greenhouse is now complete. I used eighteen guage stucco wire with one inch square mesh, buried galvanized flashing a foot deep at the base of it and back-filled the outside with rough material, rocks, bits of concrete. The wire was stiff to work with but only until the job was done.

016b

That job and the scything have been good therapy for a left rotator cuff injury.

Rhubarb planted last fall along the back hedge with the idea that it will function as a partial living mulch is doing pretty well. It came from an irrepressible mother plant that had thrived in medium shade. I’m pulling up the surrounding buttercup-infested sod and tossing it into the bird run. The two hens and my newly acquired Indian Runner drake will scratch and hunt through it and keep it moving about until it dries out and expires.

024bThe Himalayan Blackberry vines are vigorously putting out new growth, draped over the frame built for them. It makes for easy berry picking from beneath, drastically reducing contact with thorns. I have a tarp beneath them just now to repress buttercups, having had good luck elsewhere with tarps and black plastic killing of unwanted vegetation.

029bHaving roto-tilled a fair patch of ground beyond that assigned to the barley and some spring rye I was expecting to have perhaps disturbed the purslane too much for it to re-establish itself and would have to transplant from elsewhere. But it is coming up hither and thither as it did last year.

A beautiful name, purslane, and a refreshingly succulent vehicle for some rare but valuable nutrients, cool on the tongue and a slightly chewy, mildly sharp addition to salads and sandwiches. I’d been pulling it up as a weed for years until seeing it praised online last year.

023b

A new platform for pond plants seems to be repelling the raccoons who so like to tear them up, constructed by wrapping cattle panel around the re-purposed end of a cable drum made of some rubberized material; heavy stucco wire over that with the naked cut ends standing proud.011b

Now I’m looking forward as never before to June being as wet as it has usually been over the years.

IMG_1176b

I Find I’m Friends With Facebook

Posted by on June in Jest Thinkin' | 0 comments

I Find I’m Friends With Facebook

It surprises me how quickly engaged I have become with Facebook. It resonates with my experience of writing headlines. Summing up….luring the reader in, because the whole point of facebook is to engage.

I’m learning things…..sometimes from a moment of disagreement, infrequent though those are. And I’m not bothered if one of one can’t be resolved….though I work towards common ground. I have time to address, in my own mind, any question arising from a challenge and to respond more thoughtfully, beyond a gut reaction…not being rushed. Even getting part way to resolution leaves me with a sense of….well… friendship, as good in its own way as any other experience of it.

Zipline reduced

I don’t want to bicker….which can incline me to hitting back. Without body language and tone of voice it’s easy to just self-extract. There’s always other things that can use my attention. I can say to myself,“I shouldn’t be doing this anyway and my garden could use some love”. Which it always can.

And what if, in the instance of the actual writing any piece, such as this, I choose to segue into writing about my garden? Entirely my choice. I can experiment with the art of the segue. And of phrasing…because I really admire how that can add nuance.

I get exchanges about gardening; offer help….receive it, offer input, receive it, take all the time I need to compose a contribution or response…..back out of an exchange altogether. It is entirely up to me. I call that empowerment.

Edit. Sometimes I just don’t get across what I seek to. If it niggles at me I can go back and get it right.

A sticky key and too much haste not infrequently impairs my initial effort. I quite often have a bit of tidying up to do.

Try that face to face. Editing is part of my process on Facebook..simply because it can be.

The inputs I receive via a process of peer selection based on shared values is broadening and broadened. We might disagree…sometimes get a little childish, but interjection from someone whose energy, intensity and certainty are invasive can be eased away from. It’s not the experience I’m seeking. Otherwise….we’re O.K with disagreement.

It is relatively easy if chided to behave not out of fear that others will be watching but with the knowledge of it….and to respond from a better version of yourself. More thoughtfully, with greater consideration……in all its definitions. And already, aided by age and time, knowing I can do this inclines me to do it in ordinary conversation.

In my Facebook experience so far we share quite a range of thoughts. And my sense of it and experience of it includes a little shifting…..a little growing closer…..a little…well…liking. Yes there is dysinchronicity to be coped with but you can fine tune your inputs more comfortably when dealing with not quite so much of the other person or people.

The fear-factor is reduced….maybe because disagreements with no support from gesture, posture and tone simply aren’t so…scary. With less fear there is a far less intense defensive reaction.

I have found so far in this new-to-me experience an appealing presence of intelligence and sanity….humor too…out of which grows good will and appreciation of the humanity, not only of my Facebook friends, in absentia as it were, but of my more present self. Who would want less of that?

And for someone who seems to have some level of love affair going on with the English Language……..I get to employ a lot of it……to form ideas….to conveniently share them and for the sheer pleasure associated with putting thought into print.

And if your contribution helps in any way to expand what gets talked about…..well, you have found a passel of kindred spirits. Overwhelmingly caring. Name the issue and people will have thought about it.

And there’s the thing: Caring is a prerequisite for new thought.

Canada’s Crisis of Democracy and the Multiple Sins of Stephen Harper

Posted by on March in Current Despairs, Jest Thinkin' | 1 comment

Canada’s Crisis of Democracy and the Multiple Sins of Stephen Harper

The Conservatives are out to dumb us down folks. More than we have already been. The principal weapon in this war against our self-respect is fear….well-understood as an effective mind killer.

Fear of the ISIS bogey-man: a level of fear that is an insult to many of the world’s citizens who have actually experienced and now experience much more than the picking off of one or two citizens by damaged individuals seeking some form of identity….any identity…in any way. An insult to the memory of my recently deceased mother, for instance, who at age eighteen was pulling bodies from bombed-out buildings in London.

Want to destroy a nation’s morale? Just make cowards of its people. That is what Harper is trying to do to Canadians.

In today’s world many beleaguered populations sustain or strive for democracy while arguably the worst Prime Minister Canada has ever had picks away at ours….essentially taking us incrementally down the road towards what totalitarian movements like ISIS would want……if it did not have much of the world blasting away at it and were not hopelessly doomed to fail on a global scale.

Not to mention….oh let’s….encouraging other psychologically damaged and ineffectual individuals like Parliament Hill gunman Zehaf-Bibeau to attempt similar acts. After all…..he was after recognition wasn’t he….and Harper is giving it to him in spades.

Fear of job loss……which Conservative over-reliance on the oil industry is now delivering. Hand in glove with big industry, self-designated experts on modern economics, these Capitol Hill idiots have failed to honor that good-old-hand-me-down precautionary principle of ‘diversification.’ Not to mention (well let’s) that oil is losing its cachet globally…..that reserves can be used precisely as they have been to manipulate value at the whim of an arab sheik. Or that infinitely more intelligent and relevant global leaders than Harper pretends to be are investing not just in existing alternative energy but in the research that can turn oil into a relative loser and the planetary atmosphere back into something we can safely inhale. Harper’s controllers would like to see us trapped by the expenditure of billions on infrastructure for it, pocketing those billions for constructing it.

This is not just little old me out on the edge of the forest saying so. Mark Carney, former and much lauded head of the Bank of Canada and currently head of the Bank of England is now quoted in the Huffington Post saying, “If the world comes to a consensus on curbing fossil fuel emissions in Paris this year, some fossil-fuel assets could well become worthless, with huge economic impact.”

Harper and his minions (and who among those elected as part of his entourage are not?) clearly operate by the tenets of the most successful fear-mongers of all…..the /public-relations industry.

What fear are they selling you ask?

They want you to be afraid that you do not have enough, do not eat enough, eat too much, do not dress well enough, are too poorly housed, are not sexy enough, not smart enough…..which is how they need you to feel. Just as they otherwise sell the promise of satisfaction while absolutely relying on you staying unsatisfied……so that you will continue to buy what their paymasters produce…..much of which you will use only fleetingly before consigning it to the cupboard and then on into a land-fill.

One thing we can justifiably fear: the political bankruptcy that turns politicians into posing and preening pretenders on a scale of insincerity not seen in my considerable lifetime.

How can we not see what an absolute buffoon Stephen Harper is on the international stage…..what a poseur he must be to those with real power? Shrugging off Putin’s handshake as if Putin really gives a shit what an international non-entity like Harper thinks. And selling it to us as what…..a gesture of political principal?

Posing as a champion of democracy while undermining it at every turn here in Canada.

Buddying up to an egomaniacal Israeli Prime Minister who breaks not just the rules of diplomacy but those of decency in parading on the stage of the U.S. Senate…invited by equally unprincipled Republicans……Harper’s kin in all but citizenship.

Harper clearly operates on one core principle and that is to sustain himself and his ilk in office. That his supporting cast is so characterless, so insubstantial, is entirely evident in the pathetic unsuitability of so many Conservative Senators and Ministers and MPs directly chosen by him….who have turned out to be either dishonest or utterly incompetent.

The man is a disgrace on so many levels……and it is disgraceful that enough of us would vote for him to have sustained him in office for all these years.

Now that is something only a country seriously lacking self-respect would do. And lack of self-respect is precisely what you get in a population who have ceased to use and value what elevates us as a species…….our brains.

There is a strong and honorable strain of respect for character, hopefully still, in this country. It despises the phony and prizes realness. It is a quality that, like any, can be lost altogether. It is a quality that we desperately need in those we elect to steer our fleet of economic, social, scientific, and educational ships. Little reason to hope we’ll get that from the established parties.

Evidence of it aplenty in Elizabeth May. But of course the Green Party will not be forming a government in Canada in the immediate future.

However, voting for a party whose leader so clearly demonstrates intelligence and integrity might throw enough of a scare into the others to get them to start looking for it in their own candidates. And maybe we would stop looking like such idiots internationally on the environmental side of things, and regain some of the international respect we once had that Stephen Harper has squandered.

And if we were to end up with a coalition government…..so much the better…..Harper’s record of fear-mongering about that entirely legitimate and constitutionally-sanctioned option definitely not withstanding. Out of such a government might well come proportional representation, at the very least a penance for more than a decade of declining respect for democracy in this country and at best, hope for us having something like the real thing.

Oh….hang on….oh yeah….I wrote a song about this kind of thing a while back. In the days of Mulroney, another egomaniac foisted on us by the Conservatives. I named it after John Ralston Saul, who wrote a fine book called Voltaire’s Bastards….bearing on humankind’s history of operational and intellectual self-sabotage. I knew it would come in handy again. The song…and the book…which I unstintingly recommend.

[audio:http://www.johnmarian.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Saul-on-Ice-.mp3|titles=Saul on Ice]

October Blossoms

Posted by on October in Jest Thinkin' | 0 comments

October Blossoms

October Blossoms - click a petal to pick a story

The Curse of Vested Interes More Political Din Suffering Septuagenerity Vive Les Differences I Aint Necessarily So

Click a petal to

On Voluntary Self-extraction

Posted by on October in Jest Thinkin', Pagin' the Agin' | 0 comments

I wrote the following last spring for an elder college Hot Topics session in Sechelt and ended it with a version of “Hang on Folks” that I recorded a few years ago. With just shy of twenty people attending, everyone spoke to the topic in the first go round, which, according to the chair had never happened in his time in that role. The session ended before everyone who wanted to speak again could.

I gentled the lyrics for this session, being older, wiser and a little less confrontational than when I wrote and recorded the song, essentially replacing ‘you’ with ‘we,’ feeling by now more ‘included’ among those for whom it might have the most immediate personal relevance. It made for a better song on its own merits. I’m fond of it and give you the lyrics and the existing recording at the end of it.

I got lots of love and kind comments after the session.  It was, well, whelming.

Ahem…

As I intended in suggesting it, this topic was not about suicide as carried out for the generally understood range of reasons, but about age-related decisions to end lives that, for instance, might be considered by those living them to have run their course, quite possibly satisfactorily, and/or to have little upside left to them.

We are the first broadly-based generation to live, en masse, well beyond any biological need to do so. The received perspective is that this is, nevertheless, a good thing. Our circumstances allows us to rely for the duration of our time, most of us in the developed world, on reasonable comfort as well as on access to pain-limiting measures of one kind or another.

We should by now know that many of our fears about life were never justified and that keeping us fearful usually served one vested political, social or economic interest or another. As does fear of dying.

The global pain-management market was worth around $30.9 billion in 2007. It is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.63% to reach $40.6 billion by the end of the 2012. “ (BCC Research.”) Population aging is no small part of that. (as an aside…..delay in treatment is also a fine revenue aid.)-

Most of us have experienced our lives and ourselves in ways that are becoming less available to us as we age. Ours have been relatively informed and empowered lives. The personal power we chose to discuss here under euphemistic titles akin to ‘ voluntary self-extraction’ and the like, is that of terminating our particular experience of ‘being’ by our own choice….at a time of our own choosing. This might include employing legally sanctioned assistance but doesn’t exclude acting independently.

I think about this…..not obsessively….but intermittently, as a practical option to continuing on if I come to see no good purpose to it. I segue into the personal because there is no decision more personal than the one we are discussing. Should I choose to end my own life at some point I want to avoid triggering my imbedded, instinctual, desperate, terrified survival response and I could well do without pain.

I would want, literally, to avoid leaving a mess for somebody else to deal with….just in case they and you are not highly complex, sophisticated creations of my own imagination but are actually real in your own right.

There’s the rub. Children, grandchildren and great ones, are overwhelming likely to be dedicated to the intrinsic worthwhileness of life, as suits the stage of it they are experiencing or perhaps their adopted or imposed beliefs.

Here we may come up against the appearance/reality phenomena so deeply ingrained in human experience. As we become ‘old’ how much of a role do we actually play in the lives of such folks and they in ours…..beyond token ones? This is not a village we modern folk live in… with experiences substantially identical and linked to those of prior generations. Our lives have been characterized by far greater separation, differentiation, independence and consciousness-sucking complexity, for better and/or worse.

Living such lives it is not surprising that we may well consider the choice to end them to be our own prerogative just as the choice not to should belong those who would not, whatever their reasons

Information on facilitating ones own departure is easily found on the web.

In my recent experience reference to a strong disinclination to go out via the route of progressive decline comes up almost casually in conversation with my chronological peers, in passing, as it were.

The wish to consider this openly isn’t surprising given the broad interest in the individual psyche, a byproduct of 20th century availability of information on the topic and of the terminology with which to discuss it. Along the way to this state of affairs many taboos have been examined and set aside.

To openly discuss our own deaths and the option of triggering them ourselves….the alrightness of dying, the acceptance of it without necessarily attaching regret or even what might be called pre-mourning to it might simply be more of that.

And there is no telling….open and fearless examination of dying might generate a whole range of beneficial changes in how folks choose to live. With that in mind I did prepare myself to shed a little lightness on our theme.

HANG ON FOLKS

Hang on folks, here’s a hard little truth

That we tend to ignore in our extended youth

Now I’m just the messenger so don’t shoot me

Its said of the truth that it can set you free

One day you’re going to die and so am I

That’s how come I wonder why

Us human beings are so damned contrary

When everything about us is temporary

Well of course you’re going to die and so am I

Does that seem like a personal kind of a thing to say

Well if you don’t like to get it right between the eyes.

I’m perfectly willing to euphemize

There will come a day for our demise

For our denouement….for our passing away

  We will leave the field, we will get on that plane….

  We will melt like snowballs in the warm spring rain

Now I’m not saying this to make you sad

Its not some morbid tour through the Land of Drab

But we’re temporary guests on this earthly plane

(Though some folks think we might be coming back again)

So it might do to think about the way we behave.

Before we leave this body in the grave

Oh,there I go again, another graphic reminder

That when the spirit leaves

She don’t leave much behind her

So when we’re driving along in these here corporeal cars

We might want to do it with love and care

Cause we aint going that far

And when you’re free of your bod it might be nice, I mean

To look back down here at an earth that’s still green

And If we’re grateful guests then while we’re alive

We might want to do what we can to help the planet thrive

This is Mother Earth folks, it’s not some seedy inn

Its’ not an ashtray for us to butt out in

And it does no harm to remember that we’re mortal

And we’re taking nothing through that pearly portal

Though there might be a point to come our way if we let it

And if there’s a point to be had……….

I like to get it

Yes I do

I like to get it and I bet you do to

Shedoodly bop

She doo doo

Whap bap

Be doo doo

Shu whap bap

Doopa

Diddle dee dee

Yeahhhhhh

The Girls of Halfmoon Bay

Posted by on November in Coastal Commentary, Garden Delights, Jest Thinkin' | 0 comments

The Girls of Halfmoon Bay

hen shot reduced

I experience a kind of bemused pleasure when someone in my community who I have only scant acquaintance with refers to my writing in a general way as if for them I am a ‘writer.’

I don’t fully identify myself that way…probably out of  aversion to the limits of categorization.

I write, obviously. But I garden too….sing (well enough to please me at least)….invent a bit…channel the odd witticism….retain some hand skills and the physical wherewithal to use them. My guitar playing sometimes surprises me and can draw the odd approving comment. I have recorded four albums of my songs.

I’m about being manifest in as many ways as bring me some level of satisfaction, wishing to be complete…for no better reason than to not be incomplete.

From which observation I can go ‘writing off in all directions’.

This bit of pondering is in aid of  finally getting around to re-vitalizing this web-site from which I have been too long absent……. attending to those other interests.

Other content on this site indicates, I would think, that adventure is one of my delights. And still, now out of the mainstream of endeavor as it were, the odd one comes my way without my seeking it out as I once did.

It might bring a degree of associated fear, suffering, hurt and loss, but also delight and triumph…as is the way with adventure and my experience of life in general.

Last week, for instance, to kick off November 2013:

It is late afternoon of a pleasant fall day. I nevertheless have gotten busy inside the house when the phone rings, as it does infrequently nowadays. One of the very good neighbors whose places bracket mine relates anxiously that four raccoons have just vacated her back porch and might be after my hens.

Guilt suffuses my very being. I let them out of their enclosure and forgot needing to keep working outside where I could keep an eye on them. I thank her for the heads up, hang up, glance out into the yard and ponder how to quickly arm myself.

After losing birds last year to the weasel from hell and then to a black bear I went to great trouble to rebuild their run to exclude predators. It’s a fair-sized enclosure but doesn’t work if the ‘girls’ aren’t in it and my own dislike for feeling penned in has me free them into the larger yard when I’m working out there. On a nice day, I generally am and was earlier on this one.

Long-tailed Weasel

Long-tailed Weasel – Image Matt Lavin, via Wikimedia Commons

I have a couple of rifles from my hunting days, but I’m not going to use either in this semi-rural residential area. I have a pretty good sling-shot, precisely for this kind of occasion. But, hanging underneath a coat and long unused it just plain doesn’t come to mind.

So I pull on my high rubber boots (as a hedge against bites), go out the back door, grab a piece of bamboo about four-feet long, slip through the gates that bracket the bird run and hurry to where, sure enough, four raccoons are dragging my spunky little barred-rock hen towards the alders and salmon-berry bushes on the other side of the back hedge. She’s on her side, one wing dragging, head bloodied.

The hen is either in shock or is realizing that deliverance is at hand. She and I seem to connect at the soul level, very much eye-to-eye. Seriously. And she is by far and by habit the more aloof of my two hens.

The four-raccoons….this spring’s litter by the size of them….orphaned perhaps….their mother, at any rate, thankfully, not on the scene…..are looking warily up at me.

I’m not afraid of being bitten….particularly….and I would like to deliver them at least something in the way of a memorable deterrent to hunting in my territory….but can’t quite get past their combination of temerity, timorousness and (dare I use so pithy a term) ‘cuteness.’

The stand-off lasts less than a minute, until one of them can’t take the tension and starts to sidle off towards the hedge. Two more quickly follow. The third reluctantly looses the bedraggled hen from its salivating jaws and joins the retreat.

And up she springs…..literally…..and gallops across the scrub grass into the bird run.

Run resized

I herd the four raiders off the property…..directing a few half-hearted pokes their way. They go and return and finally go for good.

And that’s it. I flush out the other hen from where she’s hiding under a clump of bamboo, herd her into the run, close it up, and get back to whatever I was doing in the house, feeling strangely blessed to live where I do, at the edge of the forest, where such things can happen.

The next morning, in an act of noble obduracy I thought, but more probably because it was in process already, my little hen gifted me with her usual egg. The last of her laying season, as it turned out, but then the other hen had laid herself off a few weeks earlier, as hens will in winter, and my rescued one was due for a rest, on multiple counts.

My Brave Little Barred Rock

My Brave Little Barred Rock

*********************************************************************************

Young raccoons might be appealing but a sow with her teeth bared is a different matter.  And once they have a taste for your wares- animal, vegetable or fish, deterring them takes more than a little application.

Live traps can work on raccoons, if you terminate those you’ve caught, and only until more show up. Relocating them might accommodate your own understandable aversion to this, but it shifts the consequences of your intervention elsewhere. Dropping a predator off in habitat that already has its balance of species just means some other creature or creatures are going to take the brunt of the move….if the raccoon doesn’t find its way back to you.

This year I kept them off fruit trees with a few feet of barbed wire wrapped artfully around the trunks and main limbs combined with some wrapping of foam-belting coated with ‘Tangle-Foot.’

Deterrent reduced

My pond plants sit snugly in a grid cut from galvanized cattle panel, about 30” square, with barbed wire laid around them on the surface. I hose-clamped this grid atop a galvanized milk crate within which I located my pump, the spout just clearing the surface. For a change the raccoons left both plants and pump alone. The array provides shelter for fish and frogs. A plastic crate would work just as well.

pond resized

 

I could not trap and never did see the weasel that lay waste to first three and then another two hens on separate nights. Rare they might be, but nothing else could have got in through two-inch stucco mesh. I rebuilt the whole run…with chunks of old concrete, stucco wire and rocks buried eight to ten inches deep around the perimeter, all of that covered over with foot-wide swimming-pool material and smallish stones for looks. I will be adding electric fencing as a deterrent to bears.

My alternative to all that was to give up on having hens and perhaps adding a drake-for slug deterrence. It was immensely satisfying to refuse to be beaten. The re-framing and rewiring with one-inch mesh was excellent if painful therapy for wrists that were sequentially operated on last winter.

It isn’t having the eggs that I like best about having birds in the backyard mix….it’s having close-to-hand a place to throw organic kitchen and garden waste. It just plain disappears. A roomy run for two hens generates no smell and one or two eggs a day for much of the year.

I got my heavy-duty, factory-seconds 1” mesh from Fraser Valley Wire and Steel, in Abbotsford. They make it there and carry cattle panel…..54” x 16′. They can order in the 5 gauge (1/4”) 7 1/2’x20′ concrete mesh that I cable-clamp end to end and have located pretty much free-standing between two row of hedge to keep out deer. A pretty neat place to check out for the practically inclined. They sell top-quality hog-ring pliers and the rings…18-gauge hold up pretty well to the pressure of stretching. Chain cutters will run you about $40 at GBS in Sechelt. You’ll need the 24” ones to cut cattle panel or barbed wire..or a small grinder. The upper-body strength some folks might have to borrow from a friend.

Photo by Gary J. Wood via Luminosity

Photo by Gary J. Wood via Luminosity

 

 

 

Who, Us….Drink Too Much?

Posted by on May in Coastal Commentary, Current Despairs, Dissin' Dat, Jest Thinkin' | 0 comments

Who, Us….Drink Too Much?

How can the Sunshine Coast’s Regional Board directors, many of whom, have served multiple terms, sanction a report based on water usage figures that are so utterly and blatantly misleading?

Most of our resident population of under thirty-thousand lives within a mile of our occupied and convoluted shoreline. At least thirty miles of it, as the crow flies, far longer when you factor in its bays and inlets, relies in whole or in part on water from Chapman and Gray Lakes, Chapman being the far more substantial source. Ten thousand connections.

According to engineering firm Dayton and Knight our high-season per-capita water consumption is extraordinarily high, about the same as Ladner, where agricultural use is a major factor.

That seems bizarre on the face of it, and before putting such a statistic out, you would think someone on the SCRD Board would point out that there are a hell of a lot more ‘capitas’ taking water out of the system in the middle of summer than in the winter. That’s because all the non-resident property owners become resident. And they are not counted in the census figures upon which D&Ks per capita consumption figures are based.

Did nobody on the SCRD Board point this out? Did not one of them suggest that provincial property tax rolls might give us at least a rough idea of the percentage of local property owners who are not full-time residents, who receive their tax bills elsewhere…..Alberta, Vancouver? Do they not get out on the streets in the summer?

Let me offer up a conservative guess: Twenty percent. Which is about what the SCRD’s new and improved conservation program projects in savings over the next few years.

Factor in the semi-rural nature of much of the area served by Chapman/Gray and the amount of gardening that takes place here, that institutional water use is undoubtedly higher here because of the stretched out population (two pools, for instance, two rinks e.g. where one might serve a more compacted population), an unusual per-capita length of pipeline to serve those 10,000 connections, with junctions that leak simply because of expansion and contraction.

We don’t have figures we could have, at least in the form of estimates. From the inadequacy of those we have been provided we might intuit that our actual per-capita consumption is far more in line with a population that overall has a pretty high level of conscience where water use and environment in general is concerned.

The threat of water-shortage is not new. It was there in 1999 when I was first elected to the Regional Board as the director from Area B/Halfmoon Bay. We rejected the idea of a floating pump, now being suggested again by D&K, as a temporary measure with a possibly permanent environmental downside.

Then we focused on meeting provincial water quality concerns with a new treatment plant and kind of got watered out. There was Shirley Macey Park to develop, a perversely complicated and expensive but finally successful recreational facilities process, major rezoning issues in Pender Harbor….etc. And there went two terms.

Since then there have been two more with incumbent directors knowing very well that supply was a critical issue. And now, a third term down the road, five in total, we are just beginning to look at it again, and at a temporary, once rejected, probably controversial fix.

At least now they get it that our best bet is a man-made reservoir downstream from Chapman Lake. There is a potential site currently being quarried by Lehigh, formerly Construction Aggregates Ltd..

According to D&Ks public presentation they haven’t approached the Province as to what it might require of us. No…. they haven’t approached Lehigh either. No they don’t know how many people actually use the water.

Hey, the conservation measures are fine….intrinsically worthwhile. My garden gets for the most part hand watered. You can find lots of pictures of it on this site. As you can see, the lawn I leave to tough it out. It still seems to overcome the winter moss and give me several months of green each year, fed only by its own clippings.

Homestead overview

Folks on the Sunshine Coast are big on gardens. Our veggies, flowers, shrubs and trees feed the birds and the bees, the bodies and souls 0f ourselves, our friends and neighbors, our food bank.

Our local governments need to get their act together to insure that we can continue to optimally do so.

It’s not a choice. It’s an obligation.

 

Briiinnggg, Briiinngg, Briiinngg Me To A Doctor

Posted by on December in Coastal Commentary, Current Despairs, Dissin' Dat, Jest Thinkin' | 0 comments

Briiinnggg, Briiinngg, Briiinngg  Me To A Doctor

I recently had a wrist surgically re-engineered. I’m wondering whether the pain and stiffness should be gone by now. I’d like to be able to ask that simple question in a phone call. But my experience is that I am going to have to actually get an appointment and get in line. Together with the shortage of doctors on BC.s Sunshine Coast where I live, part of a Canada-wide phenomenon, this small personal experience brings to mind the generally acknowledged inadequacies in our medical system.

Knowing how hard doctors and nurses work, I find myself speculating that these days fewer university entrants are likely to opt for a medical career precisely because too few are doing so. Who would not reasonably be deterred by the oft-stated example of surgeons working 70 hour weeks?

We should have a medical system that nurtures the physical and mental well-being of those who keep us healthy, bind our wounds and ease our pain. We don’t. Overwork, on one level or another, denies them that, as it would for any of us.

Why does a simple query require an office appointment? I have history with my doctor, pretty-good self-knowledge in health matters and am comfortable doing my own primary research in a world where useful data is readily available? Why do I have to take a subsidized ferry trip into Vancouver to ask my specialist a post-op follow-up question? The answer might require that, the question should not.

As a good friend pointed out to me, the ubiquity of smart phones would allow folks to take a picture of anything (well most everything) a doctor might want to look at and send it in digitally and 3-d modelling should enhance that. Seniors so far reluctant to take on the digital world would have more reason to do so, opening up for them a world of information and engagement as a counter to deterioration of intellectual function and, contributing to shrinking the generation gap.

Need a release from me to take care of liability issues? Show me the dotted line. Add another for me to agree to the digital swapping within the system of my medical records. The privacy concerns strike me as something of a straw-man, the concerns over-stated and far from applicable across the broad swath of citizens. Most everything is digitized now anyway.  I don’t see or hear a whole lot of old Underwood typewriters in today’s hospitals and doctors offices. So defenses against unauthorized access need to be devised anyway.

Meanwhile, we could do a better job at all levels of developing a population educated about how their own bodies work and what can go wrong with them. We  could start out by showing all those young athletes, graphically, just how much the visceral pleasure of knocking an opponent into next week is likely to cost them both, not to mention the medical system, further on down the line.  It occurs to me that if professional leagues want to profit from violence games they should directly help cover the cost of injury, not just to who they hire directly but for those striving and failing to be hired. They are obviously not short of money. The medical system is.

As for failing to expeditiously qualify foreign-trained immigrant doctors and nurses, that is near to criminal….at the very least immoral…..when the failure to employ those skills results in delays in getting care to those governments are responsible to. As is the failure to rapidly employ new communication technology.

I don’t want to believe that physician greed is delaying practical improvements. There’s a certain incoherence to believing this to be true true of folks immersed in matters of health.

An estimated $40 billion per year go to drug companies to treat the pain of those waiting for care. It drains our resources and energy. The pain itself diminishes the quality of life for those waiting in line and of those close to them. It diminishes their effectiveness on all levels, including the ways they contribute to or interact with the economy. It creates addiction.

And, personally, I don’t need to have been doing it for long to already be tired of damaging my innards by dealing with pain a pill at a time and quite likely generating further costs for the medical system down the line.

Oh Brian Baby, You Shot Me in the Heart

Posted by on December in Coastal Commentary, Jest Thinkin' | 1 comment

Oh Brian Baby, You Shot Me in the Heart

I’m always tickled by the way things pop up for me to think and write about: Especially when I need a post each week to honor the promise of a small weekly box-ad I place in the local paper I prefer.

This week, scanning (as I rarely do) through the other (larger) local publication, hitting the Letters section, which I tend to avoid (its editorial policy limits the length of submissions to the point of trivializing our issues), I came upon a reference to myself.

Apparently I told the writer..Brian by name, twelve years ago, that I didn’t see the Sunshine Coast, where I live, as a better place for having grown more populous than when I arrived here thirty-four years ago..and likely to become more so. The writer characterized this view as ‘selfish’, linking it to the actions of a group of folks currently freezing their arses off up on a local mountainside, protesting yet another shearing of the forest.

I am guessing Brian is a status-quo kind of a guy.

Twelve years: That’s some burr that apparently got under whatever sense of indignation Brian has been saddling himself with ever since the first of my two terms on the Sunshine Coast Regional District Board.

I t might well be that I said what he attributes to me and would today. Some folks may look past the fact that every bit of development requires the destruction of what already exists. They may be able to ignore the small part played here in overpopulating the Earth. I don’t find myself quite able to.

Lots of folks who live here can’t. They might, on behalf of future generations, see selfishness in the greedy hurry-up consumption of finite non-renewable resources, the degrading of renewable ones and in the global population growth that exacerbates it all.

It doesn’t mean we dislike human beings as individuals, even those who disagree with us. It doesn’t mean we don’t contribute in ways to the very things we want to see stopped or in some ways depend on them. It can’t be completely avoided.

It doesn’t alter the fact that we humans, along with the vested interests that drive our economies and control our governments and our minds, are pretty well certain to be slapped with a big bill from The Four Horsemen Inc. somewhere down the line. Perhaps not all that far. You know this bunch: War; Pestilence; Disease; Starvation.

A lot of folks I know express this kind of concern. If articulating it empowers more of us to do likewise then taking the odd late shot for it is a tiny, tiny, tiny thing.

Folks like Brian would like to characterize such concerns as bias. It is the old ‘discredit those whose arguments you can’t counter’ trip. I freely confess to just a little bias in favor or my kids and grandkids being able to experience their lives free of cataclysm.

For that to be the case we need to devise economic structures based on no growth, to follow up vigorously on the discussions in that vein that pop up here and there and hopefully will draw ever more attention and consideration.

 

NOBODY BIASES ME AROUND

My biases, during my terms in office, did not stop me from advocating for a water-filtration plant, or adding a satellite fire hall to reduce response times or pressing for the building of safe access to a popular lake, away from the previously-used side of the highway. They didn’t stop me from agreeing that a referendum should be held on borrowing money for new recreation facilities some citizens wanted, some of them hoping they would attract more citizen/customers our way. I didn’t vote for them in the referendum but had no trouble comprehending and supporting at the  the taxation model our Board came up with might tip the scales in their favor. You don’t get elected to do the business of the community as if it was your own, in order to suit yourself.

Nor did my larger perspective stop me happening upon and taking up a working life sorting and later salvaging logs to earn a living and support a family. It didn’t and doesn’t stop me from both loving and using wood as building material. The stuff much more amenable to being cut and dried than are the choices life presents us with.

It doesn’t stop me now, well out of office (and with no inclination to stand again, by the way) from urging the current crop of local politicians to identify and cost out more sources of the water that our tactically-self-identifying ‘Coast Community Builders Association’ should be pushing them to do and are not.

Of course buildings do not a community make any more than a house will necessarily become something fully identifiable with a home.  And while there’s a level on which you can appreciate the hutzpah of this bunch, being bright doesn’t necessarily stop you from being illogically in thrall to your own interests.

Their objectives would directly require more water. Are they afraid we may discover that we don’t have a further usable supply or that creating and accessing it would be so costly that folks would call a halt to development? Are they pressing on in their own short-term interests regardless, perhaps not wanting to see themselves having to directly cover the costs linked to their own objectives?

Within the group I imagine and would hope there is a range of perspectives on this but as a bloc they are not forthcoming on it.

Folks seem far too inclined to try to get those sharing their biases elected to office. Around here it has too often saddled us with representatives who, even after they are elected, apparently can’t read well enough or grasp right away that they have hired on to a job with existing parameters specifically designed to neutralize bias.

Those parameters are established by the Province, under whose aegis local governments operate. They have been developed, it seemed clear to me, to deter local politicians from getting themselves entangled in their own intrigues and keep them on task, providing, maintaining and where necessary expanding local infrastructure.

They still try to do sideways what they think might not be doable straight ahead, often for what seems to come down, when you look past the posing, to a need to be one of the gang.

To counter that, in hope of having something other than a grade B job done of running the community’s business, citizens will always need to keep an eye on those we elect. It is not saints we elect, but human beings……inclined to think that holding important jobs makes them important, forgetting that they, as are we all, constitute passing phenomena, on this plane at least.

We are in serious trouble on this terrestrial vessel of ours, overloaded with our own kind, our needs and expectations, pressed to take more on board by those with stuff to sell. We need far more than hackneyed, hide-bound diatribes on socialism vs. capitalism to start changing that.

We humans share immense capacity and can be wonderfully imaginative and good-hearted. We know how to work. Applied to what really needs doing (for starters determining what that is) those factors could lead to our avoiding a painful and disastrous future and remedying what for a goodly number of people is a present already like that.

Right now it seems that in some ways we are the prisoners of obsolete mathematics and the misalignment of capacity and resources.

And yes Brian, I see that as a big-time problem for all of us, our offspring and theirs.

Here a Predator..There a Predator

Posted by on November in Current Despairs, Jest Thinkin' | 0 comments

Here a Predator..There a Predator

My old Imac is refurbished so I can have it sitting bedside. I’m satisfied enough with a relatively new PC tower and laptop, and that the savings over another Mac was worthwhile. They are freshly complemented by a new mechanical Leopold tenkeyless USB keyboard that does indeed emulate the feel of the  typewriters I employed over the years. It seems to be restoring my typing comfort level and speed and without the number pad I would rarely use, is nicely compact. The full-size keys and the span of them beats by a mile the cramped mini-keyboards I have tried.  Pricey at around $150 with shipping and duty in, but so were the computers the other keyboards discouraged me from optimally employing.

Last year was pretty good one for this blog/web page. A lot of material got entered into it: Songs, stories, commentary, a poem or two….pictures. Traffic to it has been steady over the summer even in the absence of fresh material.

Spring and summer writing got waylaid by responsibilities to my garden. On top of the planting and cultivating, raccoons and a marauding weasel laid siege to my garden and hens in that order. Now in November it is a black bear that, while I was overnight in Vancouver, tore off one side of my potting shed, broke down my bird run, and flushed out the black drake which alone had been able to beat off the weasel. A few hens had not. One gate left open was all it took.

Black Bear Excavation

Potting Shed Sans Siding

This place of mine has been mostly free of this kind of thing for eighteen years, the rarity of weasels in our neck of the woods making them an unlikely problem.

By next spring I will have replaced two-inch stucco mesh that did not keep this one out with one-inch chicken wire that should. Parallel and multiple hot and ground wires from an electric fencer should deal with the bear and help with the raccoons too, as will wrapping the trunks of my fruit trees with aluminum flashing. Then I can bring in a couple more chickens and a duck and get everything back in balance. They more than adequately recycle my kitchen and garden waste.

On top of that I am just now getting back most of the capacity temporarily lost to re-engineering the joint at the base of my right thumb. It had been ever-more-strongly complaining about the cumulative effect of thousands of one-handed axe strikes (the driving of log-dogs into salvaged logs)and perhaps from the playing of even more bass guitar riffs.  It is  coming around now post-operatively, but for a while I have been limited in my typing. No more. This keyboard is really nice. It sounds right and feels just right.

There’s no shortage of things to write about in this chaotic, fault-ridden, cacophonous amoral reality of ours.

I most recently find myself gobsmacked by the temerity of Enbridge’s pastel, coloring-book images of an oil tanker proceeding in fairy-tale fashion through placid west-coast waters, apparently unnecessarily guarded by two good-sized tugboats, on their way to pick up another load of Alberta-enriching toxic crude. Here is a youtube video showing the route shown in Enbridge’s original ad, along with commentary and accurate graphics to depict the actual tanker route exiting the proposed port of Kitimat:

Even after navigating to open ocean, the waters their tankers would traverse are nothing like the calm waters suggested. They are home to an almost ceaseless Pacific-generated ground-swell, to complicated tides, to eighty-knot storm-winds driving massive seas across Queen Charlotte Sound and across the shallows of Hecate Strait. Enbridge’s own technical data refers to “larger waves with heights of 4m or more….twice as likely to occur in the fall-winter period…extremely large waves with significant height values of 8m occurring eighteen percent of the time.” There is nothing comic about an area where it is not unusual to have winds reach 190 kph.

Still, I am happy to see them present us with yet another example of their contempt for us, as with their creation of a separate corporate structure to protect their core interests from liability for failures of the proposed pipeline, by their record of inadequate preparation for spills in their other operations. I’m even happy to see this further evidence of their clear belief that they have Stephen Harper’s government incontrovertibly in their pocket and operating with complete disregard for the ‘precautionary principal’ by which all those charged with the care of others need to operate.

Hell, I’m even happy to see Harper parading his Memorial Day hypocrisy, his pithy praise for the Canadians sent overseas believing themselves to be protecting a democracy Harper and his party casually undermine with lies and dirty election tactics as they are not crudely seeking to undermine discourse that contradicts their narrative.

I admit to reluctance to write so disparagingly about a prime minister, On the other hand what this fair land of ours is getting from Harper is not leadership imbued with long-term affirmative vision, but leadership tainted by the manipulation by which it was gained and for the power and control it confers under this far too undemocratic democracy of ours.

But then surely Canadians can’t continue to maintain a naive belief in the integrity of this government and in this dangerous and deceitfully-presented Enbridge project.

More fundamentally, can we really continue to assume that the natural resources of this land should be squeezed from it as quickly as possible for one or two generations alone, mostly to profit our elites.

Surely we can see that reliance on natural resources as a hedge against our dose of global financial instability represents not strength but failure to adequately educate ourselves so as to limit or remove the dependency.

One friend kind enough to scan my efforts felt this post could be more neatly tied back to the theme of predation with perhaps a reference to our P.M. as a bear or weasel. I think this, even as metaphor, is unfair. They latter, after all, are somewhat lower on the scale of evolution than we and merely being true to the nature of their species.  As the record clearly demonstrates, we humans are no slouches at predation, frequently targeting our own kind, institutionalizing it in many ways. But it is also within our capacity to rise to greater behavioral heights, something you would hope for in a leader.

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