March 15, 2019

Bike Ride: From The Ridge To The Ocean

Our Nova Scotia home is at the top of a ridge, with views to the west (shown) and the east.

When we lived on the west coast we lived 5 meters (15 ft.) away from the ocean, and maybe 3 meters (10 ft.) above sea level. Birds on the water seemed like they were in our living room, which made identification very easy. Binoculars were optional.

A short distance from home and I get my first glimpse of the ocean below.

Where we are living on the east coast is about 5000 metres (3 miles) from salt water, and at an elevation of 152 meters (500 ft.). It is a little farther and higher, but feels much safer when it comes to winter storms and impending sea level rises. And it does make for an excellent short bike ride.

But I do miss the sea birds.

Almost to the sea, I check for mail, then carry on.

Yesterday I decided to roll out the bike for a ride down to the ocean to see if I could spot any waterfowl. As an added bonus, I could pick up our mail at the community mailbox on the way down.

My destination where Acacia Brook (which flows through the forest behind my home) meets salt water. The tide was low - summer high tides flood the grassy area on the left.

While there was still a bit of messy snow laying around, the road was free and clear and it was a beautiful almost-spring kind of day. It was a great ride, and it felt wonderful to be out... but no birds on the water. I had my binoculars in my pack, but didn't need to pull them out.

However, on the way home the chickadees and white breasted nuthatches in the trees next to the road lifted my bird watching spirits as I peddled uphill to home. 

It was a joyful, successful ride from the ridge to the ocean. And back, thankfully. Linda always loves it when I make it back home. So do I.

March 12, 2019

5 Therapies More Effective Than Retail Therapy

Note to self.

Retail Therapy Patient: "Hey, I bought something!" 
Minimalist: "And?" 
Patient: "And now I'm happy." 
Minimalist: "Are you really?"
Patient: "Actually, I'm not feeling as happy as I was when I first bought it." 
Minimalist: "That is because that kind of happiness is temporary at best." 
Patient: "Oh, now I am sad and I have buyer's remorse." 
A while later - "I bought something else, and now I'm happy again. Oh, hold on..."
Minimalist: "Argh. I can help you with that."

Retail Therapy is the act of buying something to make one feel better. It does actually work... for a very brief moment in time. 

The effect quickly wears off, while the credit card balance tends to linger. Buyer's remorse soon sets in. The cycle repeats.

If you are feeling down, here are 5 therapies more effective than buying stuff you don't want or need just to feel better from the initial rush.

Nature Therapy - go for a walk in the park or some other natural area. Sit quietly. Breathe. If you can't do that, look out a window with a view, or look at pictures of nature. They all have lasting benefits for mood improvement.

Conversation Therapy - meet with a good friend and talk about your feelings.

Exercise Therapy - a 30 minute workout does wonders for your state of mind. It does not have to cost anything, and you will be improving your health at the same time. Can be combined with any, or all of the other forms of therapy mentioned here.

Meditation Therapy - sit quietly, and clear your mind for 20 minutes. 

Garden Therapy - gardening is good for every aspect of a person. After a session you not only feel better, but will also have healthy food to eat, which will further improve your mood.

Repeat as necessary. Lasting mood improvement guaranteed, and you don't have to buy anything. No buyer's remorse, no debt.

March 9, 2019

Peaceful Places

No need to go anywhere when I can walk out my back door and hike to a peaceful spot like this.

Seeking out peaceful places has always been a major goal for me. And when I met Linda, it became a shared goal. One of our first dates was a 16km hiking and camping trip in northeastern Glacier National Park in Montana. 

In the beginning of our time together we continued to backpack long distances to remote areas where there were more bears and cougars than people. As time went on our backpacking diminished, but our desire to be away from the city did not. 

Hikes became shorter and less frequent, and after a while car camping became the norm. But we still sought out remote locations. Solitude was more important than services. We enjoyed "roughing it" in our little tent in the middle of nowhere.

In more recent times, since Linda has gone into a wheelchair, travel has become difficult. Add to that our desire to reduce our impact on the environment, and our priorities have changed. 

Now our priority is to live in a peaceful place. Home, after all, is where we spend the majority of our time, so home has to also be our sanctuary. An urban environment just doesn't "cut the mustard", as my dad used to say.

That is why we moved from a city of 1 million to a small town in 2005. Nine years later 10,000 people felt too big, so we moved again. Now we live in a rural area outside a town with a population of 2,000. That is just about right.

This is the most rural, and peaceful, place we have ever lived together, and we hope to continue living rurally for as long as we are physically able. Hopefully that will be for many years to come.

March 8, 2019

My Mom Was A Rebel, And Because Of Her, I Am Too

OBOS has been called one of the most influential books ever written. First published in the
1970s, it remained in print until 2018, and is now only available on line. My rebel
mom had it in her library back in the day, and it changed my life.

Today we celebrate International Women's Day, a day when we recognize influential women across history, and across the globe. 

Who would these women be? Mary Wollstonecraft perhaps, or Betty Friedan? Or Gloria Steinem? Yes, all of these and more. 

Today I pause to reflect on the most influential women in my life. While all the famous women have done amazing things, none of them has affected me as much as my own mother.

Every day of my life I give thanks for the achievements of Margaret Mooney, my rebel mom. You could call her an "early feminist" I guess, unless you realize that women have been fighting for equality for much longer than the 1970s. 

How about the 1770s? Yes, and no doubt, before then, too.

So mom was not the most famous, and she was not the first, but she was the sole woman to not only bring me into this world, but also teach me about the role of women (and men) in society.

My mom is one of the strongest persons I know. She birthed and raised 5 children, virtually alone. Since dad, a wonderful man, was a traditional 1950s guy, child rearing was not his thing. Bringing home the bacon was his sole domain, and he did it well. 

Not that it was easy for him, but come on, who had the more difficult job? Not only did mom raise 5 wild children, she also broke free of convention and went back to school to get a degree later in life. Then she entered the work place, as if she didn't have enough to do already.

Ultimately, she emancipated herself from her traditional role, and that takes some kind of strength. Just ask any woman, Rosa Parks, perhaps, about the struggle to be free of the bullshit of a racist, misogynist patriarchy. 

It is hard, but it is worth it. Where there is no struggle, there is no progress.

It was my mother's example that made me not only a feminist, but also helped me to emancipate myself from the same sick system that she railed against. If not for her, would I have even known that I was also in chains, that we all were, and that it was up to me, to each of us, to break those chains?

So today, I celebrate all women, famous or not. But mostly I celebrate the most important woman in my life - my mother.

Thank you, mom. I am, because of you. But not just that - I am free, because of you.

March 6, 2019

The System Doesn't Make Sense - It Doesn't Have To

Mister Cap I. Talism.
Image by myconius.

If you think that the world we live in today doesn't make any sense at all, you would be right. That is because our system doesn't have to make sense - it only has to make money.

If this system were a person it would be imprisoned, or committed to an asylum. 

Void of any moral compass, you would cross the street to avoid having to rub shoulders with such an destructive and unstable character, if it were actually a character.

If it were a person, ecocidal capitalism might be manifested as something like The Mad Hatter, from Alice in Wonderland.

"I am under no obligation to make sense to you." 
- Mad Hatter

Or perhaps as the hookah smoking Cheshire Cat, since the system is obviously under the influence of some very bad drugs. In fact, it is on one of the most destructive drugs known to humanity - money.

“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad. You must be, or you wouldn’t have come here.” 
- Cheshire Cat

They want us to believe there is no other way to conduct human affairs other than through fouling our own nest, and allowing the many to die from highly preventable causes, while the few gain obscene amounts of wealth. 

None of that makes any logical sense what-so-ever. But still, Margaret Thatcher famously told us, "There is no alternative", and many agreed with her.

Not sociologist John Bellamy Foster, who is thinking rationally when he says, 

“We have to go against the logic of the system even while living within it.” 

I agree, but what exactly is the logic of a system that is already looking for a new planet to exploit when this one is completely destroyed? 

If there is no possible alternative, then let's ponder impossible alternatives. 

Now is when we could use a healthy dose of creativity and imagination. Our capacity to dream of a better world can surely yield something better than the total insanity that has brought us to edge of destruction. 

Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll modelled the kind of thinking we need now. He said,

"Sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

I consider the impossible all the time, before, during, and after breakfast. I have to, because I need to inject a bit of sense in a world where there doesn't seem to be any at all.

So I ask myself, "How about an impossible world where social relationships are not governed primarily by economics, however participatory, but by solidarity? How about an impossible world where ecocide is not an integral part of what we do?" 

I envision a system where billionaire outlaws are outlawed (not such a crazy idea after all).

"Sure we destroyed the Earth", the billionaires will say, "but we destroyed it for profit."

We have to start thinking of impossible ideas, systems, and methods. Why not dream impossible dreams?

At one time any human would have told you that flying through the air in thin metal tubes for great distances was impossible. Or visiting the moon. Or polluting limitless oceans and the atmosphere, or cutting down expansive, seemingly endless old growth forests.

And yet, all of those fall under the purview of the possible today. Who knows what "impossible" things we will achieve tomorrow? 

“When the whole world is running towards a cliff, a person who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost their mind.” 
- C.S. Lewis

March 4, 2019

Buying New Is Always My Last Resort

Good example of "use what you already have on hand".

After I decide I need something (which tends not to happen very often), this is the process I go through:

1. I use what I already have. Includes repairing and repurposing. If I can't do that, then,

2. I make it myself. If possible I make the thing I need, using what I have on hand, or can acquire for free, such as found objects. If I can't do that, then,

3. I borrow. Includes the library, or "library of things". If I can't do that, then,

4. I barter. Can I trade something I have but don't need for something I do? If I can't do that, then,

5. I buy second hand, gently used items. If I can't do that, then,

6. I buy a new item.

Buying new is always my last resort. It is usually always the most expensive, least creative, and least environmentally friendly way to go.

February 27, 2019

Scientists Recommend Cutting Fossil Fuel Consumption Immediately

One way we explore places farther than our property line is by accessing web cams. This photo is a web cam screen shot of a sunrise on Digby Harbour, which is about a 24 km round trip by car from home. Being there in person is nice, but not without negative consequences for the health of the planet. I can ride my bike there, but it is a bit too far to push Linda in her wheelchair.
Since arriving in Nova Scotia in 2014 we haven't done much exploring in our van. 

In keeping with our "minimize driving" philosophy that we pioneered during our 9 years on the west coast, we usually only drive to pick up groceries, or attend the rare appointment. 

Why? Scientists have told us that continued use of fossil fuels endangers all life on Earth, and we are taking that message seriously. 

We are willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of all living things, many of which are faced with imminent extinction.

Another web cam we like to visit is at Belliveau Cove on St. Mary's Bay. It is about a 50 km round trip by car from home. This photo shows a sunset over the Maritime province of New Brunswick, which is on the other side of the Bay of Fundy. 

If the scientists are right, we are implementing the only logical solution, which is cut fossil fuel consumption now. If they are wrong, I guess we save a lot of money and create a cleaner world for nothing.

Either way, we don't worry. We are enjoying getting to know our immediate area well, since there is beauty to be found everywhere on this amazing planet. We are surrounded by it constantly, no matter where we are. 

Cutting out driving does not mean cutting out the enjoyment of place. You can explore your immediate location, whether by looking out the window, sauntering in the yard, or strolling around the neighbourhood. 

If you like to go farther afield, a bicycle is a great no-carbon mode of travel.

You really don't need to go anywhere to see beautiful things. The grass is plenty green right where you are, despite what car manufacturers and the travel industry want you to believe. 

The scientists might be wrong, but what if they are right? 

You can visit Nova Scotia web cams here.

February 25, 2019

Wanted: Alien Abduction

Finally! Abduction. Good-bye Earthlings.

When I read the news these days I find myself dreaming of being abducted by aliens. I would love it if a flying saucer would go all X-Files on me. 

I would be drawn up into their craft in a beam of light, then transported to a far away planet inhabited by a race of beings that lived lives that actually made sense. 

My new friends would be dedicated to reason, logic, and scientific inquiry. 

They would honour the planet they rely on for their sustenance, and treat her with full respect. The alien system would be non-hierarchical, and the accumulation of wealth by single individuals would be seen as the insanity that it is wherever it exists. 

Being intelligent beings, they would have a system based on the abundance of the Universe, as opposed to the scarcity that causes so much grief on our own dismal planet. 

There would be no money.

These aliens would be dedicated to the improvement of their species, and they would build on the knowledge that was hard gained by their ancestors to develop advancements for the good of all. 

No Dark Ages or neo-feudalism here.

All the alien beings would be equals, and they would not discount and denigrate the skills and abilities of 50% of their population based on what kind of genitals they possess.

Their newspapers would be full of news, not weaponized propaganda and outright lies.

Planet Alien would have clean air, land, and water, and anyone that fouled either one would be exiled to Earth where such activities are actively encouraged by eco-cidal maniacs.

They would be loving and compassionate, and they would cherish all little alien children enough to put aside individual greed and selfishness so as to ensure a livable planet in perpetuity.

So, I say to the aliens, wherever they may be, "Abduct me! Please. I won't try to run away, or hide under my bed. I am not afraid."

I would even allow some gentle probing, which would be an major upgrade from taking it up the rear from a bunch of billionaires and their bought and paid for politicians here on my birth planet.

Remember, The Truth is Out There. 

February 22, 2019

Deeply Subversive Documentaries

Gardening is a subversive activity.

I like the sound of anything deeply subversive. 

That is because I am on the side of underdogs, misfits, rebels, and radicals. I am all for freedom, living your passion and your truth, and doing so without hurting any other people or the planet.

If that makes me a subversive, then guilty as charged. I don't mind.

Therefore, today when I came across an Internet resource new to me, I was intrigued and thought I should share my serendipitous discovery.

What caught my attention was the title, "87 Deeply Subversive Documentaries That Challenge The Status Quo". That is totally in my lane.

If you are nurturing your inner rebel, this might be just what you are looking for in order to expand your ideas of what is possible when challenging existing power structures.

Convention, conformity, and state-induced apathy have brought us a global ugliness that we now must confront in order to turn things around. It can't hurt to have a little help from other subversives that might have some good ideas for building a better system. 

Many possible strategies can be found in resources like, and more specifically, in their collection of system-challenging documentaries, which can be found here.

My hope is that you can find something of use in this collection specifically, and at the website in general. I consider it to be a celebration of all the non-conforming, post-consumer, simple living, freedom loving rebel types, many of whom frequent my own deeply subversive website. 

The status quo is so, like, yesterday. Today we educate ourselves about alternatives easily and freely, and we are about to change everything. 

The subversives united, will never be divided. 


February 18, 2019

Population Control - Cash Payment For Childless Women At Menopause?

Over 100 years (between 1950 and 2050), the world’s population will have nearly quadrupled (from 2.5 billion to around 9.5 billion). How do we diffuse this population bomb? Or do we really need to?

When I was growing up there was a thing called the "Population Explosion". These days we don't hear too much about overpopulation, I assume because capitalist bosses want as many babies as can be cranked out. More consumers! 

It is not good for business to discourage the births of yet more victims, so full speed ahead. And don't forget, governments love having more tax slaves.

While some have encouraged voluntary efforts to cut family size, others have proposed more coercive methods, like China's One Child Policy (changed to a 2 child policy in 2016)

Cutting subsidies for having more children is another proposed way to reduce population growth. Another idea is paying childless women a bonus when they reach menopause. A one time payment of $50,000 dollars has been proposed by some researchers.

Now I see that Hungary is going the other direction - they are paying Hungarian women to have more babies, ostensibly in order to outpace Third World immigration. 

Any Hungarian mom that has 4 or more children will be exempted from paying income tax. For life. 

They can also apply for a $35,000 dollar loan which will be forgiven if the woman has more children. Interest-free loans will also be available for the family to buy a house and car. It seems outrageous, but it is possible that it may not work anyway.

Birth rates are already dropping in many countries. In parts of Europe and Asia, birth rates are below replacement levels. Germany, Japan, Russia, and Taiwan are a few examples of countries not having enough babies to keep the population stable, whether there is a "cash for babies" program or not.

Canada also has a "baby bonus", but it is intended to reduce child poverty, not stimulate birth rates.

So is there a population explosion, or not? Will we level off at around 8 billion, or will we see an increase, in a worst case scenario, all the way up to 26 billion? 

Some say it doesn't really matter, because we don't have a population problem - we have an overconsumption problem.

The more people on Earth, the less each of us has as our fair share of the resources available. That means as population goes up, all of us will need to live more and more simply.

When it comes down to it, neither big business nor governments will solve this issue. The power to do that lies with one group, and one group only - the women of the world. 

Women ultimately decide how many babies are born, because women are not simply "hosts", and they are not birthing pods. Increasingly, they are choosing to have fewer babies.

The rest of us can do our part by consuming less so that each baby born has enough for a good life, regardless of where it comes into the world.

Actually, we might be better off if we offered incentives to consume less. Imagine that happening!

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