February 27, 2023


All my life I have yearned for true reclusion,
Days on end sought wonders beyond this world:
Here old peasants enter their fields at dawn,
And mountain monks return to their temples at night.
Clear sounds come from pine-shaded springs,
Mossy walls filled with ancient truths.
I will lodge on this mountain forever,
I and the world are done with each other.

Meng Hao-jan

In a world that equates a quality life with extreme busyness, the relentless pursuit of more money and stuff, and a full social calendar, it is odd to suggest anything else, like a quiet, simple and minimal life.

A life lived outside of the noisy and frenetic city. 

Where one works only enough to satisfy basic needs and intellectual curiosity, without the craving for more.

A life where one might not read the latest news, rarely travel far from home, never go out for entertainment, and instead spend a lot of time in nature.

It seems odd to suggest only staying in touch with a few friends and family members, instead of planning one's whole life around such things.

Not going to the gym, but taking one's exercise by going for long walks.

Eschewing restaurants and take out and eating simple foods grown and made by your own hands.

Seldom buying anything, and working at minimizing possessions instead of the more mainstream pursuit of maximizing them.

Disregarding most of popular culture, and not knowing the latest shows and movies.

Striving to be in bed by 8:30 every night, and up by 5:00 every morning.

To argue this in today's modern, technological maelstrom of mayhem may seem like insanity to a regular member of such a society.

But I have always yearned for more reclusion, and the more I get, the happier I am.

I am done with this modern age. I find it distasteful and unhealthy.

And I don't think that's crazy. 

Rather, a yearning for more solitude seems to me to be a rational reaction to a sick and ailing world.

Reclusion is the antidote. 

It's self-preservation.

There are wonders aplenty to be had here.

"I really am a recluse. I just enjoy watching the wind blow through the trees. In America someone who sits around and does that is at the bottom of the ladder, but in Japan, say, someone who goes up into the mountains is accorded great respect. I guess I am somewhere in between. I enjoy reclusion: it clears my mind."

— Robert M. Pirsig

February 25, 2023

The Real Goal Of Consumerism

We are told that consumerism is the most efficient way to design an economy with the main goal being to bring goods to consumers in order to make them happy and fulfilled. 

If only. Consumerism was an evil plot from the beginning. It was formed to make owners rich with a side benefit of keeping contented and compliant consumers distracted and in servitude. 

That is what Aldous Huxley must of been thinking when he wrote of his book Brave New World (1931):

“It is possible to make people contented with their servitude. I think this can be done. I think it has been done in the past. I think it could be done even more effectively now because you can provide them with bread and circuses and you can provide them with endless amounts of distractions and propaganda.”

Stoking the urge to consume keeps us in jobs we don't like in order make money to buy things we don't need and wouldn't even want if it weren't for the all-pervasive mind control of advertising. 

We have been so distracted for so long that we don't even recognize our servitude, let alone know to fight against it, or escape its convenient, luxurious velvet chains.

As Huxley also wrote, we have become victims of mind-manipulation and do not even know we are victims. 

"To them", he pointed out, "the walls of their prison are invisible, and they believe themselves to be free." 

Our only enduring freedom is the freedom to shop till we drop. 

That is the real goal of consumerism.

Stop buying, start living. Escape is still possible.

And above all - don't comply with their evil plots and schemes to keep us in our servitude.

"The dialectic miracle, the transformation of quantity into quality, is explained here: it is the decision to call total servitude freedom. The real passion of the twentieth century is servitude.” 

- Albert Camus


February 22, 2023

Nothing To Steal

Ryōkan Taigu (1758 – 1831) was a quiet and unconventional Sōtō Zen Buddhist monk who lived much of his life as a hermit. 

He is remembered for his poetry and calligraphy, which present the essence of Zen life.

Ryōkan spent much of his life living in a hut at the base of a mountain. His poetry is simple and inspired by nature.

One evening a thief visited Ryōkan's hut only to discover there was nothing to steal.

Ryōkan returned unexpectedly and caught him. 

"You have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift." 

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. 

Ryōkan sat naked, watching the moon. 

"Poor fellow," he mused, "I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon." 

This story made me ponder that it is healthy to acknowledge the precious things in my life that no thief can steal.

These are the things I cherish the most.

February 21, 2023

Simple Living In Other Words

Shaker simplicity is functional, beautiful, and a form of worship unto itself.

There are so many different ways to live simply. About as many as there are people practicing it.

Considering this, there is really not any one label that sufficiently describes what is going on in reality.

The Isms:









Lagom - Swedish practice of "not too much, not too little", "just the right amount"

Hygge - Danish concept that means having a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through the enjoyment of simple things. 

Shibumi/Wabi-sabi - Japanese concepts of simplicity and beauty that acknowledge imperfection and the acceptance of the more natural cycle of life.

Concepts followed by "living":















Then there is one of my personal favourites, Notbuyinganythingism.

But it's not so important we label what we do. Most important will be our actions and what we do in practice.

Carry on, with whatever mode of simple living that you prefer, whatever you call it. 

I am convinced that in the natural order, it is the thing to do.

February 19, 2023

New Bird For Our Life List

“Some people are very competitive in their birding. Maybe they'll die happy, having seen a thousand species before they die, but I'll die happy knowing I've spent all that quiet time being present.” 

― Lynn Thomson

A birding life list is a list count of all the avians a birder has ever observed and properly identified. 

Many dedicated birders allocate time and resources just to be able to keep their lists growing. 

If you are casual bird watchers like we are, it is possible to grow your list to 100 species or more if you are on a migration route.

Linda and I don't keep meticulous records (or any records at all outside of our memories) and we aren't obsessed with growing our list. We don't even know exactly how many species are on our list.

We have never traveled specifically to find new birds to add to our list like serious birders do, although we always watched for birds everywhere we went.

These days it is not often that we get to add new birds to our life list. 

But today we did. Right from the comfort of home.

We have never before had the pleasure of seeing snow buntings, the hardiest, most mysterious, and possibly cutest of little birds.

They breed in the high arctic, and migrate south as far as northern USA. They are not fond of forests, preferring open, flat areas like where they breed.

Yesterday, while in the kitchen, Linda looked out our front door and saw a flock of about 40 cute, plump, mostly white birds pecking on the gravel/lawn. 

We had never seen them before so got out the binoculars for a better look. A quick search on the internet led us to find what they were.

Snow buntings!

We mentally added them to our list.

We will never join the prestigious "600" club, which would mean observeding 75% of all the species found in North America.

But Nova Scotia is a birding hot spot with over 478 species that either live here or pass through. About 174 species breed here. Pretty impressive numbers.

Still, we will never be ranked among the top birders that count their life lists in the thousands of species. 

The world record holder has 9684 species on his list, after travelling to 120 countries over many decades to complete this impressive feat.

If you are interested in working on your own list, just for fun, there are rules to adding entries.

1. The bird must be observed in its native habitat.

2. It can't be captive, must be found wild and free. A bird in a cage doesn't count.

3. It must be positively identified.

4. It must be ethically observed, meaning it can't be added to your list if it is seen while trespassing on private land, or if the bird has been intentionally flushed.

5. The bird can't be dead.

If a 600 life list is too ambitious, you might try a back yard list. 

It is a free and fun way to observe nature and get to know your local area better.

For us birding is a simple pleasure we really enjoy, and we are so grateful for the snow buntings coming to visit us.

We wish them well on their approaching migration back north.

February 18, 2023

Sometimes The Hardest Thing To Do Is Nothing

Not doing anything is much preferred to doing something harmful. However, sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing.

There is a trend in certain circles to "appear to be doing something" at all times because it is thought that doing anything is better than doing nothing.

Or some think that one must say something, even when there is nothing to be said.

I try to limit the harm I do by not only not buying anything, but by resisting the urge to feel like I must "do something" in every situation.

Sometimes the best thing to do is not do anything.

Today I am not buying anything, and I am not doing anything.

It is better to not do anything and be thought a fool, than to do something obnoxious and remove all doubt.

February 15, 2023

No SMART Crap For Me

I have a friend who bought a "smart speaker" and was enjoying using it. 

Then we told her she should have done her research first, because corporations never do the full disclosure that would allow consumers to make fully informed decisions about the "smart" things they are buying and using.

She did some online research of her own, then called us a few days later. She told us that her new smart speaker was disconnected and put back into its box. 

And the box was put outside under her deck in the backyard.

We laughed, but it is a serious issue. 

Smart speakers listen and learn everything to help "make your life better", but their main purpose is always to sell you more products and services. 

SMART does not mean what most people think it does. Hint - it doesn't refer to the opposite of dumb.

But manufacturers push products that the industry hopes consumers will think are intelligent. They give all the benefits in their advertising, but none of the risks.

I call it SMART Crap, and I will not have any of it.

- phones

- homes

- TVs

- refrigerators 

- appliances

- thermostats

- door cameras

- speakers

- neighbourhoods and cities

Some say this is the real meaning of the SMART label:

S - surveillance

M - monitoring

A - analysis

R - reporting

T - technology

That does not sound good to me. 

So how smart is it for us to have this technology in our possession?

With these products someone is always watching, listening, recording and intruding into the homes and lives of consumers.

That is way too much control in the hands of big business and their government partners for me.

The industry tells us SMART tech is "here to stay", but that is only true if consumers want to adopt this intrusive technology in their homes. 

We will decide through our shopping decisions. And we should decide very, very carefully.

They should tell us how much are we being spied upon. How about full transparency here? 

Or what about having our personal information harvested and sold to the highest bidder? 

And what happens when the power goes out? How "smart" is it all then?

Being connected the way we are becoming only enhances convenience and encourages serious couch lock. Why ever get up to do things? 

There is an expensive price to pay for such SMART convenience, and that price is your privacy.

Why encourage the surveillance state that wants to know and record our every move? 

What will we say when they want to monitor our very thoughts with brain implants? 

All in the name of "improving your life". And convenience, of course. What could go wrong?

Only DUMB stuff for me, thank you very much.

D - ditch the digital

U - usual stuff

M - manual (so low tech you actually have to get up off the couch and do something)

B - boring 

Maybe gather up all that supposedly smart technology, put it in a box, and set it under the deck in the back yard, like my intelligent friend.

Better yet, take that box and bury it in a deep, deep hole where it all belongs.

February 13, 2023

Meal Planning

"I'm leaving you for someone that does care what we have for dinner."

In our kitchen we menu plan in order to make the most of the foods we grow and purchase. Our number one goal is to never waste food.

In our planning we always go to our pantry/fridge/freezer/garden first, not the grocery store.

When we look at what we have, we see what needs to be used first. What needs to be eaten takes precedent over what we may "feel" like eating.

After that we make out our menu based on our findings from above. 

If there is anything we don't have that we need for a meal we try to find a substitute that we have, or change the meal. 

If it is a nice day for a bike ride I might go out and get the needed item from the store.

We do long range planning that looks at the big picture. 

We also always have the next day's menu planned before turning in for the night. 

Linda likes to have several days of meals planned that take into account the order that things need to be used.

That way we never find ourselves with food that has expired/gone off, or staring into the fridge wondering what to make while our tummies are grumbling. 

We also avoid the stress and cost of,

"What do you want to eat?"

"I dunno, what do you want?"

"Uh, don't know. What do you feel for?"

"Let's just order a pizza/Chinese for delivery."

When we do buy groceries, the majority of the time it is planned for purchase when on sale, in bulk, or both. We stock up on things when they are marked down. Items that have grossly inflated prices are dropped from our list.

Using this method we always know what we are going to be making and eating, and we find that we very rarely waste food.

And our meals are as wholesome, healthful, fresh, and pleasing as they can be.

Meal planning. It is the only way to go to maximize on your food, and your dollar.

February 11, 2023

Peering Into The Heavens

Winter Stars
by Sara Teasdale

I went out at night alone;
The young blood flowing beyond the sea
Seemed to have drenched my spirit’s wings—
I bore my sorrow heavily.

But when I lifted up my head
From shadows shaken on the snow,
I saw Orion in the east
Burn steadily as long ago.

From windows in my father’s house,
Dreaming my dreams on winter nights,
I watched Orion as a girl
Above another city’s lights.

Years go, dreams go, and youth goes too,
The world’s heart breaks beneath its wars,
All things are changed, save in the east
The faithful beauty of the stars.

In recent years Linda and I have been spending more time looking up at night. 

Poets see it as "the heavens". Most the rest of us prosaically call it "the sky".

In my house we are working at being more cognizant of what is happening in the larger picture, so we have been closely watch the sun, moon, planets and stars. 

They have changed the way we think about things on our little blue/green globe that hangs in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Our house is at the top of a ridge, surrounded by old potato fields. We have a 360 degree unobstructed view of the light show when clear sky prevail.

We are in a rural area close to a designated Dark Sky Preserve, so not much for light pollution out here. 

We see the Milky Way like we have never seen it before, and it is breathtaking.

We can also see a lot from inside our home through our many windows. Our favourite is being able to track the heavens from the comfort of bed.

Infinite space, infinite beauty.

It all makes perfect sense. 

Unlike the affairs of humans. 

An awareness of the objects in the firmament puts our petty lives into perspective. 

Peer into it on a gorgeous night, and let it change your outlook on life. 

It has certainly changed ours.

Fun Firmament Fact: Today, February 11th is the year's latest solar noon.

February 10, 2023

My Shit List

I have to get me some of these and start sending them out.

I have a shit list. 

It was inspired by my father, whom I consider to have been a very good and intelligent man with a wit and humour which kept me laughing and learning.

Whenever I hadn't phoned dad in a while he would call me and tell me I was on his "shit list", and that I better come and visit soon. 

Or if he felt like someone was ripping him off or disrespecting him, they would go on his list. 

Because he was a loving man, forgiveness was always forthcoming if the situation changed for the better. 

I was never on his list for long, and by the time he left this world, I am sure his list was blank. As it should be.

Now I have my own shit list. 

Presently this is my list, which is by no means comprehensive or static. 

My Shit List

- Big Anything and Everything: Agri/Food, Oil, Pharma, Tech, Government, Brother... 

- The Sickness Care Industry

- The Realestate Industry 

- Warmongerers 

- Overpriced products

- The (Not So) Great Resetters

- The weather (no snow for snowshoeing yet with the least snow since moving to the east coast in 2014) 

- All Mainstream media

In my quest to draw distinct boundaries around what time I have remaining in this wonderful life, my fecal flyer is indispensable and empowering.

Thanks, dad.

Do you have a shit list? What (or who) is on it?

February 8, 2023

The Money Trap

Simple living, like any other kind of living, requires money. The way the world is presently set up, damn near everyone on it needs money. Or they die. That's how they keep us working for them.

But living simply minimizes the importance of money in one's life.

Most people obsess about money. Live for money. Breathe money. Spend whole lives trying to get more and more and more money.

Today I read about a bank survey of 1,500 money-oriented people. The results showed that on average the respondents estimated that they would need $1.7 million dollars to retire. 

When I semi-retired at age 40 I had a LOT less than that. And now 21 years later, I am still alive! I credit living simply for getting me here.

When we make money the most important thing in life, we are playing their game, a game which is defined on their terms, and to their advantage.

They say we deserve a luxurious retirement with over a million dollars in the bank. But what we really deserve is a happy life free of the exploitation and needless consumption that keeps us in bonds. 

Warning: it's a trap.

Don't let the money machine snare you, because life is too short to spend most of it amassing a small fortune that you do not need. 

And may not live long enough to enjoy.

February 7, 2023

Anti-Consumer Artivism: Street Artist Kurar

Artivism is what you get when you cross art with activism. As regular readers of this blog know, I enjoy posting anti-consumer and anti-establishment art that is subversive, satirical, and thought-provoking.

I recently came across another artivist that fits the bill and belongs in the Not Buying Anything Gallery.

French street artist Kurar "fearlessly tackles sensitive issues that the world deals with today, and he does it with a pinch of humour and in the manner of an effective wake-up call to our culture and society".

Consumerism is only one issue this artivist depicts in his art, and he does so powerfully. His use of children in his works makes his work even more powerful, and appropriately disturbing.


February 3, 2023

A Simple, Happy, Ordinary Life

If we threw open our filters in order to experience life fully, we could experience the pure sense and joy that comes with just being alive.

Without categories, preconceived ideas, habits, and judgement, without doing anything else, we would see everything as it is - infinitely good and beautiful. 

All the people we met would appear as the non-threatening, gentle and benevolent creatures that they are at their core.

Helping one another without pause or thinking about it would become common, because it would make so much good, and would feel so normal.

Everything we ate would taste insanely delicious.

We would see all of nature as magical, and so precious and vital that we would do anything to protect it as part of us, and us part of it.

A sunrise or sunset would elicit an appropriate euphoria.

We would live each and every moment honestly and vibrantly. 

We would not let fear consume our hearts and extinguish the joy that is our birthright.

If we eliminated our filters right now, we would reclaim unparalleled experience of joy. 

How do we do this? I don't know, but people much smarter about such things have commented across the ages.

The Zen master Chuang Tzu shows us the way to the attainment of happiness. 

Who was he?

"A Chinese philosopher (ca. 369-ca. 286 B.C.), that was the most brilliant of the early Taoists, and the greatest prose writer of his time."

Basically, he tells us that it helps to grow quietly in the humility of a simple, ordinary life.

We don't do it by earnestly striving, because then we would be relying on our human and self-conscious deliberation.

Conscious striving would only get us farther from our goal. This is the taoist principle of wu wei, or action through inaction.

"My greatest happiness", he says, "consists precisely in doing nothing whatever that is calculated to obtain happiness . . . Perfect joy is to be without joy . . . if you ask 'what ought to be done' and 'what ought not to be done' on earth to produce happiness, I answer that these questions do not have [a fixed and predetermined] answer."

When the time comes, it will happen without our filters. It will be spontaneous, and it will be good.

We just have to trust and let it happen spontaneously, because we can't find happiness by looking. 

But if you live a simple, ordinary, humble life without filters, chances are happiness will find you.

February 1, 2023

Dumb Consumer Item Of The Month - Electric Toothbrush Heads

Oops. I skipped a month for my Dumb Consumer Item post. That is definitely not because of a lack of dumb products to choose from, but that I was busy with other posts and the month just slipped by.

So, February first seemed like a good place to get back into it.

This month I highlight electric toothbrush heads.

Don't get me wrong, we have an electric toothbrush, and have owned one since I started brushing Linda's teeth when she became unable to do it for herself about 10 years ago. 

The electric toothbrush makes the process easier, and more effective than using a manual version. I also use it myself.

The dumb thing is the cost of replacement heads, which I noticed again today while doing some online grocery shopping.

Replacement heads for our model are now $43.00 dollars for three heads, making them $14.33 each. This is when an ordinary toothbrush is around a dollar-ish (or free with a visit to the dentist).

It is hard not to feel like we are being extorted. How much can it cost to make these small pieces of plastic?

I don't think the electric toothbrush is a dumb invention. It is a important piece of equipment that I use to care for Linda. However, there must be a better way.

I have been thinking that I could somehow use the free toothbrushes that I have been collecting from the dentist, and come up with some sort of hack to make them work for the electric unit to save a ton of money.

With a bit of research I can see that I am not the only one to feel extorted, nor am I the only one motivated to do something about it.

I will definitely be trying a DIY fix for this dumb situation, like swapping the brush head from an ordinary toothbrush on to the head of the electric brush.

It seems like electric toothbrush replacement heads are the new razor blade replacements, or computer printer ink jet cartridges. You know, outrageously expensive consumer items that are grossly more expensive than they need to be.

But that is consumerism in the 2000s. More and more we are getting hosed on just about everything. 

Outrageous prices are being charged for all things, including the things we need to survive, like food, shelter, and energy. 

We are approaching peak dumb.

The good thing is that it is always possible to live even more simply. If I can't DIY the etoothbrush, ordinary brushes will just have to do.

All I know is that I don't want to support the gouging with my dollars. It makes more cents to do it myself, if possible. 

If not, I can always opt out.