March 30, 2020

Pandemic Prognostications

Life has always been a maze of unknowns, but from now on we will quit pretending that we have it all figured out, and admit that this is a much needed global humbling event.

“Disasters are an opportunity for the worst of humanity. And the best.”
- A. G. Riddle 



What happens when what we used to think of life as usual comes to a creaking halt? Where do we turn when what we think we know turns out to be wrong, or at least outdated?

We won't have to guess about questions like these, because all around us, day by painful day, we are finding out.

Looking a little farther down the line, here are are some of my thoughts on how this all might shake out. 


My Pandemic Prognostications


- introverts will have a better survival rate than extroverts (our culture selects for extroverts, but nature is selecting for introverts right now)

- anti-education, anti-specialist, anti-science proponents and areas will not fare well (see New York, the current COVID 10 epicentre, and Florida, where vectors are packing themselves on to beaches).

- people who have been living simply will prove to be better prepared to deal with this global forced simplification, which may turn out to be permanent.

- North Americans will abandon the handshake (I've never liked it, preferring a nod from a safe distance) after seeing that cultures with no-contact greetings/goodbyes have lower infection rates. 

- people will stop believing that our system is benign and beneficial to all when citizens are left to die by a structure that is incapable at protecting them at best, and is fanning the flames of a Darwinian dystopia at the worst.

- areas/cultures that celebrate individualism and "liberty" will have higher infection/death rates over those that recognize the value of balancing personal freedoms with responsibilities toward the needs of the collective.

- our dirty system is going to be exposed in all its decomposing glory, but some will still want to plant their gardens there.

- we will be forced to do away with useless things like cruise ships, flying for no reason other than one is bored or wants bragging rights with one's friends, personal vehicles, and any business that produces anything other than necessities.

- those who didn't realize it before, will come to see that billionaires, sports stars, and celebrities are expendable in this new world, while grocery check out clerks, front line health care workers, and regular working folks are the real heroes worthy of our worship and money.

- many will start to question the value of work, and the value of everything, then decide that staying at home and just living isn't as bad as they were told it would be.

- a decade from now people will still be trying to figure out where the virus originated, if bats were involved, and if it was really a bioweapon unleashed by the dark forces of the greedy elite.

- America's "China bad" propaganda will backfire, just like its Russiagate fiasco did.

- the simplification that the planet desperately needs will be hastened by this event, and we will see that simple is better


No one knows how this will end. No one. Anyone that says they do know is lying.

While it is interesting to watch and take a few wild guesses, like I have here, we will just have to wait and see. I don't know about you, but I am taking this one, one crazy day at a time.

Here is hoping that you and yours are fairing well, and even thriving, whatever that means in today's new world.

Love, peace, and good health to you all.

Now I am waving to you. And nodding, bowing, and giving you the Namaste hand gesture. 

Virtual hugs, too. 

But not the real kind. 





March 24, 2020

The Real Price Gougers




When corporate bigwigs raise the prices of things for no reason other than greed, they are doing their jobs. That is the system we live in, and no one says much about it since it increases the GDP, and makes billionaires like clouds make raindrops.

A common business adage is that a good capitalist will charge as much for a product as the consumer will bear. 

However, when one of the little people feels like being enterprising and taking advantage of the "freedom of the marketplace" and "supply and demand economics", all hell breaks loose.

$400.00 dollar hand sanitizer is likely to get a small business person scathing judgements and death threats, even though customers may still be buying at that price. 

Price gouging is considered unethical, and for good reasons. But only when the little people do it.

Drug companies are only one area notorious for unethical practices. Reading the following list it is obvious that price gouging is taking place, and people are paying with their lives.


  • The cost of Bavencio, a new cancer drug approved in March, is about $156,000 a year per patient.
  • A new muscular dystrophy drug came on the market late last year for an eye-popping price of $300,000 annually.
  • In 2016, the FDA appproved Tecentriq, a new bladder cancer treatment that costs $12,500 a month, or $150,000 a year. 
  • Even older drugs that have long been on the market are not immune: The cost of insulin tripled between 2002 and 2013, despite no notable changes in the formulation or manufacturing process. 
  • The four-decade-old EpiPen, a lifesaving allergy medication, has seen a price hike of 500 percent since 2007.                               - AARP Bulletin 


If Handwash Guy can't get away with earning a few thousand reselling his product, how does Big Drug get away with it?

“The simple answer is because there’s nothing stopping them,” said Leigh Purvis, a health services researcher.

So what other price gouging is taking place, since in the land of extreme capitalism there is nothing, legislation or morals, to stop them? 

Gas? Housing? Food? Internet access? Health care? 

Everything?

And isn't capitalism itself about to price gouge all of us to the tune of several trillion dollars over the next few days?

It is obvious who the real price gougers are. 

Get ready to be gouged again.




March 21, 2020

World Poetry Day





Today is World Poetry Day. How apt - who couldn't use a little poetry in times like these?


World Poetry Day is celebrated on 21 March, and was declared by UNESCO in 1999, "with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard".    - Wikipedia

Why poetry?

•Poetry is a way to explain the inner feelings. 
•Poetry is the explanation of words. 
•Poetry comes from the heart.  

Could it be that poetry can describe truths that other language forms shy away from? Might it counter the use of language to spread the purposeful destruction of truth that we know as propaganda? 

If so, it is worthy of having a designated special day.

And don't you know that one of the endangered languages that is not spoken often enough today is the language of simplicity, thrift, frugality, freedom and slow. 

Hmm, what rhymes with frugality?



Inner pleasure.
Society's brainwash: 
Happiness and Having
Synonymous. 

- Syed Anwar Yarkhan Jilani 




Happiness means
The simplicity
Of life.


- Sri Chinmoy


The Garden Buddha

By Peter Pereira


Gift of a friend, the stone Buddha sits zazen,   
prayer beads clutched in his chubby fingers.   
Through snow, icy rain, the riot of spring flowers,   
he gazes forward to the city in the distance—always   

the same bountiful smile upon his portly face.   
Why don’t I share his one-minded happiness?   
The pear blossom, the crimson-petaled magnolia,   
filling me instead with a mixture of nostalgia   

and yearning.  He’s laughing at me, isn’t he?   
The seasons wheeling despite my photographs   
and notes, my desire to make them pause.   
Is that the lesson?  That stasis, this holding on,   

is not life?  Now I’m smiling, too—the late cherry,   
its soft pink blossoms already beginning to scatter;   
the trillium, its three-petaled white flowers   

exquisitely tinged with purple as they fall.   



Happy World Poetry Day everyone.


March 18, 2020

A Beautiful Poetic Life

Linda sitting quietly, doing nothing.



A transformation occurs when one stops the madness of chasing more and simply lives.



Time flows seamlessly. It just is. There is no rush, no urgency.


This moment is it, and it is enough.


"Leading a beautiful life is real poetry", Basho said.


 Notice he said "beautiful life", rather than "wealthy", "successful", or "busy" life.


And what is a life beautiful enough to be poetic?


"Chopping wood and carrying water."


And enjoying "the falling blossoms and the scattering leaves".


"Sitting quietly, doing nothing."


Where "each day is a journey, and the journey itself is home."


When we quit the busy, the beautiful is revealed.


Here is to a life where the poetry is lived as well as written.


March 16, 2020

Not Cancelled

Blossoming flowers, like these snowdrops down the road, have NOT been cancelled.

Please be aware that the following have NOT been cancelled.



- the stars in the night sky (major show every cloud-free night)

- spring (I saw a coyote close to home yesterday - they are more visible this time of year as they look for potential mates, so coyote dating has obviously also not been cancelled.)

- Skyping with loved ones (we had a nice visit with Linda's mom today. Talk about social distancing - we were 5000 km apart. Totally safe.)

- cleaning the house (sorry)

- laughing (not the nervous kind, which has been cancelled)

- sleeping and napping (indulge yourself - sleep is a immune system booster)

- cooking yourself some yummy food (I recommend double chocolate chip cookies with toffee bits as a mood enhancer - hey, these are tough times)

- curling up with a good book (is that not a luxury these days?)

- singing (stage your own damn concerts... for yourself or a small group of people you know, or video it and post it to the internet)

- playing an instrument (nothing like live music, see above)

- blossoming flowers (I saw snowdrops down the road on a recent bike ride)

- this year's maple syrup (I see my neighbour's farm gate syrup stand is up and running - just drop your money in the jar and go)

- bird migrations (we saw our first wave of Robins today, also bald eagle, and red tailed hawk)

- having fun at home, in the yard, or alone in the wilderness (get creative, artistic, meditative)


Instead of what has been cancelled, take a look at all that is left, still running and moving forward as if nothing is happening. 

A person would do well to get lost in that for a while, now that self-isolation has given so many the gift of time (another thing that has not been cancelled).

Enjoy everything that has not been cancelled. There is lots to choose from.





March 15, 2020

Symptoms of Coronavirus




Symptoms of Corona Virus

1. Chest pains
2. Fever
3. Difficulty breathing
4. Sudden urge to purchase vast amounts of toilet paper 


I noted that over the past month one of my old posts has wiped the competition out to rise to the top of the Most Read heap. The month's most popular post right now is, unsurprisingly I guess, about toilet paper.

The global toilet paper crisis is cleaning up more attention than the corona virus itself. 

Priorities. Never mind that toilet paper isn't even necessary (as I point out in the post in question).

Do like thousands of others preparing to socially distance themselves in their bathroom, and read "Make It Last: Toilet Paper (Or How To Wipe With One Square Or Less)".

There I give some hiney hacks on using water to clean up, an infinitely more sanitary option, and one that does not kill trees.

If, like many who have commented on the post, that grosses you out, you will find some toileting tips on making the ass wipe you have on hand last longer by using it more judiciously and creatively (one square or less).

You could also try recycling some as shown in the picture above, but I don't recommend that.

Who knows, though, where The Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020 will take us. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Maybe this will be the year we graduate to bidets and other non-paper options.


Remember what they say (or is that just me?):


"Use the water to wash your butt,

And fewer trees will need to be cut."

Or

"Use the water to wash your bum,

and those chainsaws will never hum." 


The corona virus has some nasty symptoms. Running out and buying up all the toilet paper in town does not have to be one of them.




March 12, 2020

Mother Earth Will Fix Things If We Don't




Earth's human population, given current levels of consumption, is not sustainable. As such, it must be dealt with one way or another.

For example, fatal diseases are Nature’s way of controlling population levels. 

They spread quickly when numbers of individuals in any population increase past the carrying capacity of their environment.

It does not matter if we are talking about fruit flies, lemmings, or humans.

If we don't solve our population/overconsumption problem, Mother Earth will do it for us. 

Her judgement can not be avoided, if we continue to ignore these issues. 

"Why didn't you warn us?", we will wail.

And she will say, 

"First I sent floods. 

Then I sent plagues of locusts. 

Since no one seemed to notice, 

I sent a pandemic.

I suggest you fix your problems.

Or I will."






March 9, 2020

While Coming and Going, Leave No Trace






“Coming,

going, 

the waterbirds,

don’t leave a trace, 

don’t follow a path."



- Dogen Zenji


Back in the day when I did a lot of backpacking in the wilderness, I practiced what is called "leave no trace" camping ethics.

Basically that meant "take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints." 

It also meant, "respect the experience of other campers".

My hiking partners and I put a lot of effort into our no impact excursions. We wanted to leave the wild places we visited in better shape than we found them.

Often that meant cleaning fire rings and campsites of garbage left behind by others. We packed out a lot of disrespectful hikers's mistakes.

The lessons I learned camping I have applied to the rest of my life.

Now when I come and I go I try to leave no trace. 

And the most liberating way to hike through life is on the path of no path, when one is free to wander unobstructed by things or rigid thinking.

Wouldn't it be beneficial if we could leave the Earth in better shape than when we came in to it? 

That is my goal.

No trace living can do that.




March 6, 2020

The Deadliest Flu Of All




Viruses are strange and wondrous things. We still do not know whether they constitute what we know as life because they lack key characteristics, such as cell structure. 

They have often been described as 'organisms at the edge of life.' That hasn't made them any less deadly, because they are equally 'organisms at the edge of death'.

What is known about viruses is that they cause serious illnesses and can destroy lives if not dealt with properly. That is true of all viruses, including the most deadly flu of all.

So what is the deadliest flu ever? 

The H1N1 influenza virus? 

Nope.

SARS?

Nope.

How about that nasty Ebola virus?

Not even.

The more recent COVID 19? 

No again.

The deadly flu virus I am talking about, the deadliest of all, is Affluenza. This nasty affliction does great harm to humans and other living things.



affluenza ăf″loo͞-ĕn′zə



  • noun  Is a contagious socially transmitted condition, causing unchecked materialism and conspicuous consumption. Seen as a societal and environmental menace, causing large scale debt, depletion and disorientation. 

  • noun A feeling of dissatisfactionanxiety, and depression, caused by the pursuit of more. Often accompanied by denial and cognitive dissonance.



Thankfully, there is vaccine for this deadly affliction, and that good medicine, though rarely taken as prescribed by sages across millennia, is called voluntary simplicity.



  • Voluntary simplicity provides lasting relief from unhealthy obsessions with money and material things (affluenza). 
  • It provides for a more meaningful and less stressful life. Chronic stress is a killer.
  • By reducing unnecessary consumption, voluntary simplicity produces social, ethical, and environmental benefits.
  • Simplicity is not about deprivation, but liberation.



Avoid the deadliest flu of all, Affluenza, by taking a dose of simplicity as soon as possible.

Repeat as necessary.




March 5, 2020

Is It Enough?



A question we ask often in my house is, "Is it enough?". Whenever we are consuming resources, we try to use just enough and no more. It is all about economy and efficiency, something Nature is good at, and we try to emulate.

My camera, which in electronics terms, is ancient. It is about 14 years old and is held together with a rubber band (from a bunch of broccoli) so the batteries don't fall out. 

Is it pretty? No. Is it the best/latest? No? Is it enough? Yes.

It's not about sacrifice and denial, because I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. What it is about is saving money, having a better life with more time for living, while being gentle on Mother Earth. 

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to become a monk to do this. But it does require some discipline and self-control, two old fashioned values that used to check and balance our baser instincts.

With this in mind, we have a rule in our house - the only time something will be replaced is if it has been used to death. 

In the process we have learned that with gentle care, most things will last a long time. If they break they can often be fixed, and we enjoy the challenge of jerry-rigging things to extend their useable life.

Nature does not waste anything, and neither should we. 


One of the best ways of avoiding creating waste is to not buy anything beyond the immediate requirements for a good life. Another is to honour your material possessions by using them gently and for as long as possible.

This way of living has been described as "enoughism". 

Enoughism states that "there is a point where consumers possess everything they need, and buying more would actually make them worse off. It emphasizes less spending and more buying restraint. It is the antonym of consumerism." 

Since the planet can not afford consumerism, or "the practice of conspicuously buying flashy, expensive items and expecting them to fill the voids in one's life", enoughism offers a way to a better future. 

When I can no longer keep my camera together with rubber bands, duct tape and twine, it will be replaced at that time and not a moment before. 

I guess I am an enoughist. Enough, enougher, enoughist.

Besides, my modified camera obscura and I have a relationship. Oh, the things we have seen and recorded together. How long can this partnership last?

If just enough, or good enough, will suffice, then what will striving for more achieve? 

Other than waste, nothing.




March 2, 2020

COVID 19 Throws Wrench Into The Consumer Machine



Wouldn't the world would be better off if people stayed home more often? A person's home is one of the largest expenses they will ever have. Why not enjoy it more often? 

The economy, that's why.

We have been trained to dislike staying home after being raised on the story that all the fun and worthy stuff takes place out there in the market place, not at home. That is because you don't spend much money at home, and spending money is what it is all about.

One thing our fragile economy can not handle is if people stay home. That is all that has to happen to create an immediate economic crisis, regardless of why. 

In our consumer economy everyone must keep using things up at a rapid rate. Perpetual purchasing by consumers is the only thing that will grease the wheels of this machine and stave off economic meltdown.

Enter the wrench known as COVID 19. We can not underestimate the possibility of disruption as this new virus spreads. Already one can hear the global gears slowly grinding to a glimmer of their former speed. 

Since there is no vaccine, the best way to deal with the virus is to isolate yourself until the epidemic burns itself out. The economy won't escape as easily.

It is a worst case scenario for commerce when staying home could save your life. People don't buy as much when they are at home preoccupied with more important things, like staying alive. 

If this continues, watch for conditions to continue to erode as far flung, just-on-time supply chains are pinched. The ripple effects are already rippling rapidly, and are likely to land on our shores in a big way.

Who knows what kind of disruptions we will experience, or whether the global economy can even recover from such a shock. Best to prepare for a worst case scenario, as Linda and I have been for about a decade now. 

Over the past few weeks we have been stocking our pantry anyway after giving up our motor vehicle. Yesterday I picked up a healthy measure of dried beans, rice, and lentils. Also sugar (mostly for the hummingbirds that will be back soon) salt, cooking oil, flour, and a few other essentials. 

You may want to stock up. But that is always good advice, emergency or not. The best time to prepare a stockpile to see you through a several month disruption is before an emergency hits, and right now, time may be running out.

If it did come to sheltering in place, conditions for Linda and I wouldn't change all that much. Our life over the past decade has been home based already. We enjoy our micro-local life.

But it would be a big change for a lot of people. Who knows, they might like it, and decide to do it more often. Oh no! The economy won't like that, because we work for the economy rather than the economy working for us. 

This economy mostly works for the virus known as billionaires.

Speaking of parasitic organisms, it is good to practice healthful habits that help avoid contracting nasty germs. Not buying anything keeps the billionaire virus away, but keeping the corona virus at bay is a different story.

Linda and I take a holistic approach to health, which promotes a strong immune system response. 

Getting sick sucks, especially for me since Linda depends on me being healthy enough to assist her in her activities of daily living. If I get sick we are both in trouble.

Here is how we stay healthy on an on-going basis: 



1. Wash with warm water and soap, and dry hands regularly.

2. Cover sneezes and coughs.

3. Keep hands away from face.

4. Move. Exercise.

5. Eat wholesome food.

6. Don’t smoke.

7. No alcohol, drink lots of water.

8. Keep it low stress. Engage in pleasurable activities. We find relaxation practices like meditation and yoga to be particularly helpful. 

9. Get adequate sleep.

10. Be extra diligent about reducing the spread of germs. Keep house clean and sanitized. Avoid germed up places... like anywhere in public.

11. Laugh, be happy. A positive mental attitude is the best prophylactic.


Staying home more often can be great for any reason. If you try it, you might find you like it. As an added bonus, you will be throwing another wrench into the wheezing wobbly consumer machine. 



Note: You can find a suggested 3 month food storage plan here.




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