January 30, 2024

Make It Last: Point and Shoot Camera

I acquired a brand new digital camera in 2005 for free, using rewards points. It was worth about $200.00 at the time.

The camera was 4.0 mega pixels, and I took thousands of photos with it over the years. 

Talk about making it last. That was a bargain, I would say.

This Fall my beaten and battered camera started doing strange things like turning on and off by itself. 

I implemented my simple repair protocol commensurate with my limited skills when it comes to electronics:

1. Turn camera on and off. If that doesn't work,

2. Take out batteries, recharge and replace. Repeat number 1. If that doesn't work,

3. Take camera apart and poke around inside. Put camera back together. Repeat number 1.

I got to step three of my protocol and it still didn't work, so my camera, after almost 20 years of faithful service, is near the end of its picture taking days.

Since I acquired my camera, new cameras went from 4 MP like mine, up to 61 MP for a high MP camera today.

But 4 MP was, and still is, enough for me. 

Obviously I didn't get caught up by upgrades over the years, although I might upgrade now. 

Perhaps a 10 MP! 

Ideally, I can get something for free again. That is my preferred price to pay for anything.

Update: I tried one more time before going for my last hike, and the camera started working again. 

But who knows for how long? A new camera may be in my future. 

Strange, and somewhat comforting, to think that it could be the last camera I ever need to buy.

January 29, 2024

Zen Simple

I am a simple man. 

That is why Eastern ways of thought have always appealed to me - they emphasize the simple truths in life.

Zen, for example, teaches a mindful, uncluttered way of living that makes a lot of sense for me. I admire its practicality.

It is a process of discovering wisdom through simplicity. I have always thought this to be a pursuit worthy of making it a life goal.

Living simply on a finite planet is unarguably wise. 

The wisdom attained while living Zen simple is paired with compassion. 

That leads to a unique expression in everyday life that applies to one's self, others, and nature.

"Zen is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism. It emphasizes the value and importance of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship or study of scriptures. It focuses on exercising rigorous self-control, practicing meditation, insight into Buddhism, gratitude, helping others, and being in the present moment." - Harsh Tiwari

It is a state of mind that is gentle and kind.

How does one achieve this? 

1. Be fully present in the moment, and

2. Strive to become clear-headed, and free from unnecessary complications.

These allow one to live life in its purist form, without the distractions and distortions that cloud our perception and enjoyment of living.

When one clears the clutter, mentally and physically, beautiful things happen. 

More simple.

More nothing.

More space.

More free.

January 26, 2024

Cooped Up

Sunrise in the back yard.

It has been a few days since the chickens moved on to their next home, and I am realizing something important about them - they got me outside.

For 40 days I went outside, regardless of subzero temperature or wicked weather conditions. I had to, or the chickens would suffer. 

That is quite the motivator.

Sugar shack in a sugar maple grove down in the valley.

The hens were a compelling reason to get outside every single day, and sometimes several times a day, like if it was cold out and their water was freezing.

The day after the chickens left, I stayed inside the whole day, the first time I had done so since getting them. 

I felt off.

Entering the spruce forest.

It was nice having the routine of getting up with the chickens, and together watching the sun rise in the back yard every morning.

Now I have to get myself outside, which thankfully is not that hard to do given that our home is surrounded by nature.

But, in winter, it can sometimes be a challenge, and if we don't have a strong motivation, we tend to enjoy the indoor environment of our human coops.

That is good, but only to a point. Nature always beckons.

Brook at the bottom of the valley enters the ocean 6 km downstream.

Except for the picture at the top of this post, all other pictures are from a back yard hike I went on recently.

Just me - no chickens.  

I noted, though, that the hens didn't like the snow much, and preferred to spend snow days in their coop rather than free ranging.

When we say, "cooped up" we don't usually mean anything good. 

But it is not always a bad thing, either.

To a point.

Then I have to get out.

Storms alter the forest continuously, including knocking down big, old trees.

January 23, 2024

Consumerism = Mass Greed


"Greed is the disordered desire for more than is decent or deserved, not for the greater good but for one’s own selfish interest, and at the detriment of others and society at large."  
- Neel Burton


We are in the era of mass greed. It has taken over western civilization as the only remaining guiding principle.

Consumerism fuels the fire of greed-driven desire.

Get as much money, power, influence, and stuff as you can, as quickly as you can, and with as least amount of work as possible is the golden rule. 

People will do anything to acquire the necessary trappings in this sick worship of greed.

That includes destroying everything that is dear, and descending into self and planet destroying ways. 

There are two things that can save us at this precipitous point in history.

1. The People awakening to what is happening, sparking a sustained mass movement and/or

2. The total collapse of the system.

Either way, we will at some point get renewal. You could even call it a reset.

But it won't be the so-called elites wet dream of population destruction and total digital control of those that are left standing. 

That project started to fail as soon as it was launched.

What is coming is The Peoples' Reset, where free people make up our own minds about what is important, what is essential, and what can be left behind.

Encouraging and rewarding greed have to be the first things to go. Consumerism will fade along with them.

Then we move from being passive consumers to active participants in creative production of the means of living.

It will be simple, and it will be great. For us, and the planet.

January 21, 2024

Chickens Egg-sit Stage Left

Somebody hand me a hen-kerchief - our chickens are gone.

It's sad. I'm being serious, and not trying to be a comedi-hen.

We had great eggs-pectations about increasing our food security, but did not see a single egg after all that beaking around.

For 40 days and 40 nights my care for the two beautiful birds was im-peck-able.

They came to appreciate my hen-some face appearing at their coop every morning at sunrise, noon, and then again at dusk.

Sometimes I would find their food container tipped over, and would suspect fowl play.

But for the most part, they were a joy to spend time with, and they really helped me see the big peck-ture.

Now that they have flown the coop, I hope I don't have an eggs-istential crisis.

January 19, 2024

Dumb Consumer Item of the Month - Single Use Plastics

The first manufactured plastic was in 1862. The first fully synthetic plastic was invented in 1907. 

The Plastic Age started in the 1950s.

And now, they are everywhere.

They are in the water, the soil, air, and our food.

But it seems to have taken up until 2024 to figure out that a lot of that plastic has ended up in our bodies. 

The health implications are not fully known, even after 70 years of using plastic. Big, open scientific questions about levels of exposure and toxicity remain.

A lot of the many tons of plastic produced over the years is for single use products. We can try to use it and lose it, but it just doesn't go away.

Some plastics can take tens of thousands of years to degrade in a landfill, so it is a problem that won't be solved any time soon. 

The lowly shopping bag and water bottle are ubiquitous global examples of noxious single use items.

"The economics of mass-produced, cheap plastic products have led to a single-use culture, and today around 500 billion PET bottles are sold every year.

This figure is increasing, and the majority of these bottles end up in our oceans, degrading into microplastics."

The degradation of plastic itself is a problem as it creates the microplastics that are popular in the news right now. 

These tiny terrors have been found at the top of Mt. Everest, the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and everywhere in-between.

It's not just sea turtles being threatened any more, so maybe we will start to take this issue seriously, and actually do something about it.

What is needed is a move away from single use plastics. But don't wait for any kind of outside action, we can all start our own de-plasticization program today.

A lot of single use plastic is used in the food industry, so that is a great place to start. Here are a few ways we have reduced this scourge in our home.

1. We try to get foods sold in plastic into glass containers at home as soon as possible.

2. We refuse to buy anything that comes in hard shell plastic. 

3. We have never used cling wrap, nor found it necessary.

4. We don't buy fast food, and very little processed foods.

5. When shopping we look for foods with no packaging, or are packaged in cardboard, paper, tin, or glass.

6. When in areas that did not have safe drinking water we treated tap water in our water bottle rather than buy bottled water.

7. The biggest thing that has reduced our consumption of single use plastic has been cooking as much from scratch as possible. For example, every time we make yogurt is a time we don't need another plastic container that needs to be "recycled" at a later date. We store our home made yogurt in a glass container.

The biggest thing we can do is rely on plastics less. Refusing plastic products will reduce plastic production, which will reduce plastic pollution, including micro plastics.

As always, before you purchase anything, think if you really need it, and if there are any non-toxic alternatives.

January 16, 2024

Chickens Come - Chickens Go?

This is what our two chickens look like (not my picture). So beautiful and good natured. We quickly developed an affection for each other.

Well, that didn't take long. It looks like our venture into chicken rearing may be coming to an early end. 

What started as a hopeful extension of our desire to increase our food security has descended into frustration.

First of all, I would like to say that I love the chickens. They are beautiful birds, and I quickly grew an attachment to them. 

We have been visiting several times a day, and when we do, we talk. It is strangely comforting.

But there is a problem. 

The pre-fab coop that we acquired is inadequate, regardless of what they say in their advertising.

I didn't have time to discover the shortcomings and mitigate the them before winter set in.

Here are some of the issues:

- the coop is constructed with something like a slightly heavier balsa wood. A lot is held together by staples, not nails or screws. The hardware is cheap and prone to jamming or breakage.

- it is not weather proof and when we get rain it gets wet inside. I tried caulking the roof seams, but the actual wood saturates and then leaks, so that didn't help much. It needs to be painted or stained.

- we don't have any protected spot on our property so when a southeaster wind blows (gusts to 115km), like it does frequently in the winter , I am afraid the whole coop is going to blow away, putting the hens in jeopardy. 

- it looks nice, but the design is inadequate in many regards, and could result in unhappy birds.

The hens have not laid an egg since we got them in the Fall, and from what I learned, won't lay another egg until Spring. That means for now it is all the work, and none of the pay off. Except for the chicken's affection, which is nice.

I have also learned that experienced chicken people dislike these prefab coops. They unanimously say DO NOT BUY THESE, and now I know why. 

Having said that, I can see in some settings these coops might be sufficient in a pinch, and if it meant the difference between having chickens and not having them, it might be a worthwhile purchase.

But, it does not work for me in my setting. I suspect the chickens will outlast the coop, and we are not set up to build something better at this moment at this location.

A well-cared for hen can live 4-10 years. I can't see this coop lasting any longer than about a year before it rots or falls down.

Having such an inadequate set up means more work on my part. And living with shoddy consumer goods designed to wear out before they should is really not my thing.

Even with these setbacks, we have learned a great deal in a short period of time about how to keep chickens healthy and happy. 

The biggest lesson has been that at $400.00 dollars a crack for a prefab coop,  I could buy 100 dozen eggs from my neighbour across the road, a few years worth.

"But the chickens are so lovely", says Linda, and she is right. 

They are beautiful living creatures, that deserve the best possible chance of living a happy life.

Because of that, I want to provide the best arrangement for their benefit.

The people that gave us our chicken operation did so with the understanding that if it didn't work out for us they would take them back.

If we go that way, it will end a brief but special relationship. It is the closest I have been to a chicken my whole life, except at the meat counter at the grocery store.

The hens were good and gentle teachers, and I will miss them. 

If there is to be a next time, we will do it right, which I now know requires a certain amount of resources and commitment, even if it is only a small prefab coop and two hens. 

Have you kept happy chickens, or are currently keeping them? How has it been in your situation?

January 13, 2024


Beware of shrinkflation. It typically rides with its partner, inflation.

With inflation, you pay more for the same thing.

Shrinkflation, on the other hand, you pay the same, but get less.

It is not new. 

Products have been shrinking for decades. If you don't recognize that portions have been getting smaller, you may not think you are paying more. 

But you are.

I first noticed it as a kid seeing chocolate bars and other candy getting smaller over the years, while the price either stayed the same or increased.

Over the years I started noticing it everywhere. Hand cream, packaged foods, beverages, toilet paper, ice-cream, all getting smaller while the prices were unchanged.

Many companies have been increasing prices hoping consumers don't notice, or care too much. 

They are wrong. People around the world are noticing that this is a stealthy way of increasing profits - less of the item, the same high price.

The obvious solution, if the items are non-essential, is to quit buying them. 

Goodbye shrinkflation - hello notbuyinganythingflation, a technique that inflates your bank account.

Don't buy their just as expensive smaller products, and save 100%.

Problem solved.

January 10, 2024

Fake Fantastical Farce

Are food companies misleading the public? Duh. 

Any large entity trying to make a power or profit play these days is misleading someone. Because, apparently, it works.

Move over misinformation, and make room for misleading, misstatements, misspeaking, and other ploys that are just plain wrong, bad, and erroneous.

Yes, that is what it takes to push their crap, whether it is a corrupt company selling stuff, or goofy governments pushing their reality rejecting narratives.

Wherever you look, it's a fake fantastical farce. 

"Without truth there can be no science and no scholarship."

- Paul Craig Roberts

Essentially, besides all the soft wording used to describe these practices, they are plain and simple lying to us.

How to fight back?

Practice lifelong learning. 

Be suspicious. 

Exercise a healthy doubt regarding everything you see and hear.

Most importantly, definitely do your own research (we used to call that 'reading'), and 

think for yourself.

January 7, 2024

Most Prized Possessions

We are, to a certain extent, emotionally attached to all our possessions. Prized possessions, though, have a special meaning, and the attachment is generally stronger.

What are these prized possessions? 

Pearls, silver, and gold? Cars, houses, boats? 

In a survey done on all this super special stuff, or considerably credentialed crap, none of these are even in the top ten.

In no particular order, top tenners tend to be things like photographs, books, and stuff related to special days such as weddings and the birth of children.

Unexpectedly, as we work our way down the list of most popular prized possessions, houseplants come before cars.

Bicycles are way down in number 27, a few places after smart phones. What?

My bike would be in my top 3. 

That might be because Linda and I unloaded most of our photographs and books in our Big Move in 2014 when we moved from Sooke, BC to Digby, NS.

Almost ten years later, we don't miss them, or the love letters we recycled.

Our priorities had changed, and old prized possessions were replaced by new ones.

Like comfortable underwear, which comes high on the list of the average person's most cherished possessions. 

They come even before artistic tools and coffee makers, which makes sense. How can you enjoy doing art or drinking a good cup of jo if your underwear is uncomfortable?

Attachment to prized possessions, or any possessions at all, change over time as we grow older and wiser. Except comfortable underwear.

I never would have expected when I was young, to some day hold a good set of sharp kitchen knives to be way up on my top 10 list, but what can I say? 

Good knives are essential in a working kitchen, and I can't believe I ever cooked with crappy ones.

Eventually, stuff begins to take on less meaning for us as less tangible things start to work their way into our lives and on to our lists.

Think of the love of a partner, or good health. Or wisdom, and patience.

What could possibly be better than those? 

Except comfortable underwear.

What are your favourite prized possessions at this stage in your life?

January 4, 2024

Live More in 2024

Living well for me means spending lots of time in nature. In this photo
 I am hiking in the snowy woods behind our home.

Just because the world is going sideways doesn't mean our lives have to do the same. 

We can live well, and rise above it.

But what is the secret of living well?

“The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure”.

— Tibetan Proverb

“The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well” 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When I’m taking my last breath, I want to look at how I used up the best of myself. How much did I sweat, push, pull, rip, fall, hit, crash, explode? My dream is to be so well-used that in my last-half second, I just burst into dust” 

– Elizabeth Streb

Life is not about winning the race. Life is about finishing the race, and how many people we can all help finish this race. 
We can start by being kinder to each other.

— Marc Mero

We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.

— Charles Bukowski

“As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death” 

– Leonardo da Vinci

“Strive for a life well lived. Each one with their own aims, preferences, and meaning. Always, of course, without harming other persons or preventing others from being able to form a good life for themselves” 

– Jose Gonzalez

“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live” 

– Lao Tzu

“Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds” 

— Buddha

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments but what is woven into the lives of others” 

– Thucydides

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.

— Diane Ackerman

“Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying;
but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times”.

— Saint Augustine

May we all live more in 2024, whatever that means for each and every one of us wherever we may be.

Peace and happiness for all living beings is my wish for the world in this new year.