Monday, October 01, 2012

So, until WP allows me to post piccies I went over here

So, I am not entirely sure about the format here, so please bear with me until I sort it out. My memory is short and it has been a long time since I visited my old Blogger spot. However, since WordPress has rendered my unable to run photos, for whatever reason, I am taking this step. Hope you follow me here and have a look. Pictured above is the Rhapsody, which was our home for 11 days.

Cruising. This was a new venture. I had actually been on a cruise nearly two decades ago down the so-called Mexican Riviera. I liked it then. Like it now. For the first couple of days I wasn't so sure. And then we got used to it, and by the time it ended we wanted it to go on and thought in terms of when and where we'd like to cruise again.

The Pacific is very huge and for the five days until we reached Hawaiian waters, after sailing out from my hometown of Vancouver, there ain't much happening. It's just mainly water. No birds, no sealife to speak of, though we did see a couple of whale spouts the first day out. After that, nada. The North Pacific water is cold and grey looking. The waters around Hawaii are that lovely azure hue and it was wonderful watching the transformation to that color.

What didn't we like:
- the departure from Vancouver. It was a zoo and it took hundreds of people hours and hours to get aboard. They have to do it better, quite simply. At moments I felt like saying to hell with it and going back home. Later, on the ship in conversation with other pissed off passengers, some of them cruising veterans, we heard that most other cruise ship docks do it much more effectively and expeditiously. So, it seems that there isn't much excuse for Vancouver being slipshod.
-Wendy got a tad seasick the first night, but that was the end of it and she felt fine the rest of the time.
- a little bit of gouging for extra services. Not a lot, but enough that it was irksome.
- gaining access to a port via tender. Not always a fun experience, but one that had to be borne with.

What we did like:
- the food. Much too much of it, it seemed at times of gluttony. The worst was in the sumptuous buffet where there were dishes for every taste and ethnicity. And the desserts (my weak link) were to die for. Thought I'd gain a few hundred pounds but, miraculously I gained only a pound. Don't know how that happened. Maybe it was due to ...

-... exrercise options. Ranged from strolling Deck 10 which was a measured quarter of a mile. And the pools. Loved the pool, especially at the solarium which we'd hit every morning, even before coffee. There was also a gym and a fitness centre. No excuse for slugs unless that was what you chose to be.
- Starbucks: We had our very own Starbucks whence we'd stop for a latte each afternoon.
- Theatre: Live stage as well as a movie house that put even a city cinema to shame with the most comfortable seats imaginable and no jerks with cellphones.
- Our cabin attendant: Hippolita, the young Goan man who was more charming than the Geico Gecko and who manufactured a new and imaginative towel animal for us every evening when we were away for dinner. Such a neat little surprise. I think we wanted to adopt him by the end of the trip, even though he was a grown and married man with a relatively new wife back in India.
- General accoutrements: The Rapture of the Sea was quite a beautiful ship externally and internally.
- And much much more to be consderered and reveled in.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I didn't go away, I just went over there

For those of you who may have been looking for me here I must let you know that I still exist, but just in a different neighborhood. After some glitches in this realm, for reasons best known to blogger, and still unknown to me, this beloved blog was frozen in time and I had no idea when and if it would be coming back. So, as in the case of a love gone bad, I moved elsewhere and am happy to be there.

So, then they brought it back, again with no reason given. Sorry honey, but we're separated now and I've got a different girl.

So, please come and check me out at Same old stuff in just a different format and template.

Meanwhile, I'll check in here periodically to see if anybody is still dropping around.

Sunday, July 19, 2009



Thanks for visiting my blog and I am delighted I found yours. I'll establish a link with mine. Cheers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The electric car is a great idea, except --

First, a question: Why does it seem that those who might be in love with the concept of those ugly and expensive energy-efficient, albeit awash in mercury, fluorescent light bulbs that governments are threatening to make mandatory, are also the same people that think electric cars are the bees’ knees?

About those awful, epilepsy-inducing lightbulbs, I’ve already stated my case. On the other hand, I’m pretty soft on electric cars. I think the idea is superlative if there really was will applied to rendering the concept realistic. Electric vehicles are quiet, non-polluting, and have been too long neglected. If you would like a taste of what an electric vehicle society would be like, and are in the area of Southern California, take a nice day-trip across to Catalina where the internal combustion engine is largely outlawed, and everybody zips around in golf carts. It’s very cool – and quiet.

Back to the lightbulbs. Let’s take a city the size of LA. Greater Los Angeles has a population that is literally half that of the whole of Canada. It is also one of the most vehicle swamped cities on the globe. If you’ve ever driven on an LA freeway, you will know what I mean.

Now, let us say that LA were to take all those hydro-carbon consuming behemoths on those freeways and replace them with electrics. Heavenly. The loss of the noise alone would be worth the price of admission. And, no crap would be spewed into the atmosphere and the carbon footprint of the megalopolis would be reduced substantially. We all would win – right?

Well, not exactly. If you have electric vehicles you have batteries. And for batteries to do their job, they must be charged regularly. Could you imagine the impact on the power grid with 15 million battery chargers doing their duty each and every night. I’m afraid those nasty little lightbulbs wouldn’t balance the thing out.

At present California is power starved and it purchases power for its grid from all over, including British Columbia with its hydroelectric dams. In fact, we sell to California and make a nice penny from it. So, back to reality. California would literally not have the power at present to charge all those batteries.

So, how are they to do it? How are any of us to do it, working from the assumption that electric transport really does catch on? Conventional forms of power generation are all under the gun these days. And, largely they should be.

Hydroelectric, for example (which is dear to the corporate hearts of this part of the world), is clean, but it drowns huge valleys, decimates wildlife, severely impacts salmon runs, destroys forests, and messes up the natural courses of rivers.

Much hyped wind power – go to Palm Springs if you want to see it in a brave new world manifestation – is also clean. But, it’s unreliable and can cause surges and huge strains on electric grids, and don’t even go to the toll those big fans take on birdlife. It is not pretty.

Tidal power seems appealing, but too little is known about its environmental impact on marine life. In my opinion, any innovation that causes greater environmental impact than its use justifies, is to be avoided. I move intellectually and emotionally more in that direction all the time. We’ve been too damn wasteful and heedless for too long, and are paying the price.

Solar power, especially in sunny climes, is great for heating the bath water, and in that regard should be embraced. For operating a mass of computers and TVs, however, not so great.

Thermal? Nice if you’re in Iceland. Not too practical in many other parts of the world.

Coal and oil generation are much, much cleaner than they used to be, but you are still burning hydrocarbons and if the causes of global warming really are caused by this, then you may as well keep internal combustion engine vehicles.

That leaves us with nuclear – or ‘nucular’, as Homer Simpson and George W. would have it – as a considered option. Nukes, of course, cause all sorts of paranoia and people are left with visions of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. Hey, accidents do happen, and sometimes with ghastly consequences. The bugbear with nuclear is disposal of both the ‘hot’ water and the nuclear cores. At the same time, however, it is virtually non-polluting, highly efficient and is already widely used. Even some noted environmentalists have suggested that nuclear might ultimately be the way to go for energy hungry contemporary societies.

Otherwise, there’s that old Eveready Bunny. Hey, he can even power intergalactic space ships.

Ultimately, I would be delighted if electric vehicles were to prosper but I cannot for the life of me see how.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Definitely not the easy way out

Being divorced is like being hit by a Mack truck. If you live through it, you start looking very carefully to the right and to the left.
- Jean Kerr

I only mention the topic because I just read last week that my own community, the Comox Valley, has a much higher population of divorced folk per capita than larger centers like Vancouver. In fact, we are in the top five of marriage dissolution survivors (or victims) than is found in the mainstream.

I like to think it’s something to do with the climate, or maybe the ennui of smaller community life. Or maybe we’re just a thoroughly irresponsible lot who just don’t have the gumption to stick to a commitment for life.

Whatever is the case, I honestly don’t know many people in my circle who haven’t been divorced at least once. Yet, very dear old friends in Toronto of the same age attest that virtually nobody in their circle has made any divorce lawyers richer. I almost find that weird and highly unimaginative.

I jest, of course. Divorce is a horrible thing to go through and it takes a very long time to make the emotional adjustment to the sense of failure that transpires, not to mention the overweening sense of loss. Divorce bites and all levels, even though it is sometimes necessary. And sometimes it is.

As follows are some thoughts I had on the matter a few years ago. It’s very small excerpt from a book I wrote as a guide to middle aged men as they deal with, well, middle age. The book is as yet unpublished, but that is mainly because I haven’t pushed diligently or even hysterically enough. But, as a survivor of breakup I felt I had some insights to offer. So, here are a few scattered musings:
On a dismal and damp morning, a week, a month, six months after the divorce, you awaken after a fitful sleep (all sleeps are fitful these days), and you realize as you've never realized anything before, that you are alone. You are utterly alone. You are isolated-sans companion-desolate-remote-detached-forsaken-solitary-solo-you-and-your-shadow-an-island, and lonelier than you could ever have imagined was possible.

Welcome to the world of despair. How could it have all gone so wrong? This isn't what you'd fantasized divorce would be like. Your fantasy called for -- after the unpleasantries of the separation period were completed – a bevy of ladies, young, exquisitely beautiful, and extraordinarily uninhibited. You would finally get to participate in 'all tomorrow's parties', in which the strong drink would flow with no fear of a disapproving look; you'd live in a condo that would be a dream bachelor domain with soft Florentine leather furnishings, a king-size bed with black satin sheets, a bar stocked like an upscale liquor store with fine vintages, imported beers and velvet-on-the-tongue cognacs; there would be a mammoth ice-dispensing refrigerator, containing only T-bone steaks and lobster tails, sitting next to a Jenn-Aire range (both appliances in burnished stainless-steel; and parked in the driveway, next to the Range Rover SUV would be that '58 Corvette you've always cherished.
What you didn't imagine is what you've got: a dingy, drab, roach-infested one-bedroom flat in a down-at-the-heels and violent neighborhood, with your recently-purchased rusted '92 Tercel sitting in the parking lot, next to a long-abandoned K-Car with a smashed windshield and missing front wheel. That's where you are because your fantasy didn't take into account that divorce is, in the early stages at least, ever so much more costly than being married. You will have more than just the material losses you to contend with, however. You will also have the emotional stuff. If you didn't think before that you actually had emotions, you are now realizing you were living a lie. You are wounded, grievously wounded. If you're in denial about that, you aren't going to grow at all.
But, if you are a mass of weeping, festering wounds, then you're normal. Apply some bandages and be prepared to face one of the nastiest ordeals of your life to date. If you are on your way towards the divorce court, be forewarned, this is not a day that will enchant you. But, you have to do it. And you’ll survive. Thousands before you have. Just go with the flow and remember that statements made in the heat of the moment are not necessarily a reflection of the baseness of your character. Or, maybe they are, but you’ll still survive if you have the will to do so.

Having had too much personal experience I this regard, take it from me, it gets better, and it gets ‘different.’ It’s in the differences that life can eventually gain a little of the enchantment that it lost during the conflict.

My suggestion is to live for the day every day in the early stages. You won't see a big change in your feelings immediately, but eventually, in small increments, the days do improve and, if you're playing your cards right, one morning you will awaken and find your life is more positive than it has been in years. That's if you've gone about it in the right way. If you haven't, then you can't avoid becoming a divorce statistic. Did you know that divorced men have the highest premature death rate of all creatures in the known universe? I exaggerate, but it is much higher than the rate for married, or long-term relationship fellows. I hate the fact that divorced women have a really low death rate, but that's another issue entirely.
All things considered, by this point in life, and being very happily married (finally), if there had been any way to avoid the pain of divorce, I would have definitely done so. Neither of my divorces was without agony, either for me or for my spouses. It is never a matter to be taken lightly. As I say, it has all worked out for all of us, but Jean Kerr's 'Mack Truck' reference is well-founded.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sometimes it's better to just shut the hell up

My paternal grandfather was a lawyer. He was also a very bright, well-read and cultured dude. And there was nothing my grandfather liked more – except for listening to the opera on the radio on Sunday afternoons – the entire goddamn opera, if you will – than a good argument.

And, he couldn’t stand losing an argument. Well, that was the lawyer and logician in him. Arguments to him were intellectual calisthenics. Didn’t matter what the subject was, he would persist with his points and with steely logic defeat his adversary.

When I got into my late teens I came to appreciate the process. That was around about the time I actually, momentarily, considered the law myself. The idea of me joining the ranks of the barrister/solicitor contingent appealed to my grandfather greatly. I obviously never went in the direction of .the bar – the bar of jurisprudence, that is.

Regardless of the direction of my professional aspirations, my grandfather did teach me how to argue a point and he would remorselessly shoot down any violations of the process. If I was to stand up against his points I had better come well-armed because he afforded no compassion for pikers in the realm. I needed facts and, if losing, I must never resort to ad hominem insults. If A equaled B, and B equaled C, then I’d better be able to prove that A also equaled C, or give up the fight.

By the time I was in university I’d gotten pretty good at the process. I recall one argument that took place when he was visiting my parents for Sunday dinner. I don’t remember the topic but for the first time I knew I’d gotten the old guy good. I was firm in my resolve and with the smugness of youth I rejoiced in the fact I believed I’d won. While I hadn’t exactly left him sputtering, I did give him pause. The pause seemed like victory to me.

After he’d left for the evening I felt good. I had, I thought, earned my stripes. I had defeated the old master and that, I was sure, gave me some sort of master status. It would never be the same now that he had come up against a foe such as I was at the age of 21 or something equally ridiculous and callow.

I was wrong. The phone rang at 10 o’clock that night. It was my grandfather. He told me that he knew I was wrong but hadn’t been able to find the documentation to validate it. Back at his home he’d found it and shot my illogic to shit. He was prepared to admit, however, that he should have been better briefed before going into ‘court’ that evening.

Regardless of all of that, I have always taken pleasure in reasoned argument and debate and have only tempered that feeling later in life when I came to realize that not only do some people dislike argument for argument’s sake, but they find it somehow confrontational and disruptive of polite discourse. And some people are also given to personalizing arguments with such retorts as: “Oh yeah, sez you, shithead!” Such interchanges truly destroy the intellectuality of the exercise.

I also eventually came to realize that some arguments cannot ever be won and that there is no point in trying to win them, despite the facts that politicians and advocacy groups tend to do this all the time.

Unwinnable arguments are those that call to the fore human feelings, intrinsic beliefs, bigotries, and plain boneheadedness, regardless of how firmly the arguer believes in his stupid damn ideas.

Yes, argument is a study in logic. When you pour in some human sentiment, then you spoil the broth irreparably and the issue will go nowhere.

Consequently, I have a mental list of subjects not really worthy or winnable of argument. They include:

- The death penalty for certain crimes: I’m still primarily opposed, but I make exceptions I realize. I shed no tears for Ted Bundy, nor did I think the State of Florida was in any way remiss for frying the bastard.
- Abortion: I learned long ago to never venture into this realm. It’s much too personal and, as a male, I don’t feel I have any right unless I personally know what it’s like to be facing an unwanted pregnancy.
- Homosexuality: I am not gay, but I have always – not just recently after it became trendy – believed that we find love where we do and who am I to judge or argue the point.
- Drug Legalization: As an addictions counselor and one who has seen the addicted sitting across a desk for me, or going through the agonies of withdrawal (not a soothing sight) I have strong opinions about this. Others have differing opinions. It’s one I have had to learn to live with.
- Teenage sexuality: At one level, I think a healthy expression of sexuality is part of the human condition and who am I to stand in the way of a behavior that is intrinsic and was certainly very much a part of me when I was young. On the other hand, if I were the father of a teenage daughter (which I am not) I would be: “Not with my daughter you don’t, you little bastard!”
- Religion: To indulge in such an argument is always presumptuous and also insufferably arrogant. Whatever the tenets of the beliefs of another is never anybody’s business, and to try to dissuade somebody from the articles of his or her faith is stupid. You may take exception to Tom Cruise’s Scientology, but it remains his business. Go ahead and poke all the holes you want in what he holds dear, but you are wasting your breath. The number of wars throughout history that have been based on violating the religious beliefs of others are innumerable, and they still go on, as we all know. This is probably the most dangerous realm of argument of all.

As I suggested, it is not really worth anybody’s while to debate about the foregoing. At the same time, we shouldn’t avoid honest debate. It can be enjoyable and I have also found that if an argument mounted to counter my thoughts on any matter is well enough founded, I can even be persuaded to assume an alternate point-of-view.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Give a little back so we don't have to leave

Dick Cheney refuses to call it a day

Hands up, how many of you watched Life After People on the History Channel Sunday evening?

What an ideal precursor to Earth Day was this intriguing and beautifully produced offering. Basic premise was, if the planet is messed up, then we are responsible. Added to which, should we all go away, then literally within days, the place would start rebuilding itself, and within centuries, and assuredly millennia all vestiges of us would be forever gone. See, all we have to do is, like Elvis, leave the building. This was all manfested via advanced computer technology that showed our cities and towns deteriorating as nature took its own back.

It has been said before that if humanity were wiped off the face of the earth, the planet would just keep moving along. But, if bees or earthworms left, the place would be doomed. Puts it all in perspective.

None of this is intended to suggest that the attainments of humanity have all been amiss. I generally like the trappings of civilization, just as much as I revere nature in its fundament. But, I would find it difficult to live on a planet that did not have a London, Paris, Florence, or the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome. One glimpse of Michelangelo’s David may not prove there is a God, but it goes a goodly stretch in that direction. Hamlet’s soliloquy answers some pertinent questions and the New Testament raises some other ones.

So, no, I would rather we had sufficient wisdom to both keep us from leaving and to also do a much better job of maintaining what we have – for the benefit of all creatures and assorted bits of shrubbery.

One of that statements made on Life After People pertained to the oceans of the planet. It noted that within mere decades vast quantities of marine life would be well on their way to returning to their status of centuries past, before we exploited them so horribly that within my own lifespan I have witnessed ghastly changes. But, what else? The program pointed out that we have come to treat our oceans in two ways: As food sources for our gaping and greedy maws, or as toilets. That about sums it up.

Yet, the oceans are so vast, surely we can’t have damaged them so. I have flown across the breadth of the Pacific. I have stood on the other side. At more than 500 mph for 10 hours we still hadn’t reached our destination. How can something that big be so vulnerable? But it is. Horribly vulnerable.

So, as a coastal person, my Earth Day concern is of a soggier sort than plain old dirt, not that the dirt isn’t vital, too. But, my primary concern is the oceans and waterways that are the source of original life on the planet.

I recall a time in early adulthood when I lived on the beach in this area and I could ask my wife if she fancied barbecued salmon for dinner. If she replied that she did, I would take the boat out and within a half hour return with a fish. They were that plentiful. Abundant enough they were that I would regularly watch them finning the surface of the water. Long, long gone are such days, and this within an expanse of time that is frighteningly short.

Personally, I’d like to see the following transgressors summarily deleted from our seas:
- Deep net fishing fleets
- Whalers
- Industries that spew their crud into our rivers and oceans
- Cities that dump raw sewage into oceans, lakes and rivers
- Absolutely anybody who would dare to throw a plastic bag into the ocean
- Dirty marine engines that spread oil and other fuels into the seawater
- Logging operations that ignore the vital roll of spawning beds in coastal streams to the well-being of the seas.
- Negligent fish farm operators.

Oh, I could go on and on with this rant.

Whatever the case, do whatever little thing you can on Earth Day to make the terra firma and the waterways a bit healthier.