March 30, 2024

Not Selling Out

I don't want to provide free advertising for any corporation. 

Nor would I accept payment to do such a thing, because I value my freedom and integrity.

Influencer, a job category that didn't even exist when I was in the workforce, is definitely out for me. 

How could I be when I scrupulously erase any sign of corporate identifiers on any of my clothing or possessions?

I use a thick black felt marker, duct tape, or hammer to  remove any labels or logos identifying the corporation expecting me to give them free advertising.

I don't like having that kind of dreck in my face, since the corporate world is so up in our stuff all the time. 

I don't want to promote and provide any large corporation with free advertising on me, or my stuff. 

I don't want them in my headspace.

Influencer equals selling out.

"Selling out" is a common expression for the compromising of a person's integrity, morality, authenticity, or principles by forgoing the long-term benefits of the collective or group in exchange for personal gain, such as money or power. - Wiki

Maybe our culture has forgotten that term. Or it has been consciously buried to avoid nagging feelings of cognitive dissonance.

Selling out used to be a bad thing, not a lucrative job category to which many young people aspire.

For free, or paid, I'm not shilling for any corporate masters.

March 28, 2024

Decision Trees: Should I Buy This?

Click on image to enlarge.

Making a hasty purchase is rarely a good idea. 

That is why advertisers say things like "act now", "limited time only", "hurry", and, "don't wait". 

Advertisers want to trigger an instant sell before we have the time to really think about whether it is a beneficial purchase for us or not.

The faster you buy, the better it is... for them.

Impulse buying leads to post-purchase regret. Overflowing storage spaces and growing debt follow. 

A pre-purchase decision tree is designed to avoid all of that.

A purchase decision tree is a visual template to foster better thinking processes while contemplating buying something.

The main thing it does, besides helping order one's thinking, is slow you down. 

The To Buy or Not to Buy Decision Tree says, "Whoa! there big spender - let's give this, and every purchase, some careful thought before deciding."

After consistent use of such a device, the thought processes become second nature and the actual visual is not required.

Then you don't have to worry, because you're not in a hurry, and your thinking isn't blurry.

Think first, buy later. Then, if you decide to make a purchase, you will know that it is the result of sound thinking rather than an uncontrolled impulse.

Or, don't buy at all. 

That is the conclusion my internal Should I Buy This? decision tree leads me to most of the time.

Click on image to enlarge.

March 26, 2024

Dumb Consumer Item of the Month: McMansions

Image from the McMansion Hell blog.

“This idea of extreme consumerism took off in the ’80s. It was a time of big hair, Madonna’s Material Girl— and great big houses.” 

- Kate Wagner, architecture critic

How do we define who we are in consumer societies? Mostly by the stuff we own.

And in that regard, the big three are

1. The car we drive,
2. The clothes we wear, and
3. The house we live in.

Basing our social standing on stuff instead of our value to the functioning of the community we live in leads to the rapid adoption of dumb consumer items.

It's consumerism gone wild.

Nothing highlights this deficiency more than the McMansion craze. 

Why McMansions? 

Because like the fast food they are named after, Mcmansions were mass-produced, cheaply made with questionable ingredients, not that beneficial for the greater society, and yet were still hungrily eaten up by consumers.

McMansions were most popular between the 1980s up to the Great Recession in 2008. 

Their popularity has decreased since then, although large, oversized homes remain the number one choice of many home buyers. 

In fact, by 2014, three times as many U.S. homes were built in the 3,000 to 3,999-square-foot range as in the under 1,400-square-foot range.

While some home buyers are opting for smaller homes, these down sizers remain a minority. For now, the tiny home movement is tiny.

A related website I visit from time to time is called McMansion Hell, written by a blogger with architectural training.

The witty and humorous McMansion critic, Kate Wagner, writes that these humungous homes are "an accumulation of deliberate signifiers of wealth, very much a construction with the secondary purpose of invoking envy, a palatial residence designed without much cohesion". 

Other less than flattering names used to describe such homes marketed to anyone able to get a mortgage large enough, are Persian palace, Garage Mahal, starter castle, Hummer house, tract mansion, Millennium Mansion, or executive home.

They are typically between 3,000 and 5,000 sq. ft. because building large homes is more profitable for builders than constructing smaller, less ostentatious alternatives. 

The McMansion Hell blog points out many other problems with these "look-at-me!" awkward abodes. 

"It’s not just a very large house", Wagner explains. 

“It’s also poorly constructed and poorly designed,” she says. 

“It’s a hodgepodge of several different architectural styles, lots of different extruding masses, windows that don’t match. It really looks like everything has been put together in a cobbled way.”

It’s basically an architectural expression of hyper-consumerism.” 

Infill Mcmansions look out of place compared with the existing neighborhood, and clash with the local architectural characteristics, which has made them unpopular and unwelcome in most communities.

The main problem is that these big cookie cutter homes were built as statements, rather than practical places to live. 

They are environmentally problematic, expensive to maintain, and are often built far from city centers on less expensive land, necessitating long commutes.

These biggest of bungalows are the very expensive equivalent of a super-sized fast food meal that makes your stomach hurt moments after completion.

We have covered several dumb consumer items on our blog, but few are as dumb, or as expensive, as the Mcmansion.

This one will be hard to top. 

But of course I will try for there is no shortage of dumb to be exposed when it comes to the toxic products of hyper-consumerism.

March 24, 2024


"The Siesta" by Paul Gauguin

You say you want a revolution?

Be kind.

Be compassionate.

Live simply.

Be an active producer, not a passive consumer.


Learn, grow, evolve.

Acknowledge a greater power.

Eat wholesome foods made by your own hands.

Cooperate with others to make the world a better place.

Take a nap.

There's your revolution.

March 20, 2024

Last Day of Winter/First Full Day of Spring

Yesterday was the northern hemisphere's last day of winter, meaning today is the first full day of spring.

Fitting, then, that I saw my first robin in the yard yesterday morning. 

What an early welcome sight it was. 

Such signs are why one does not need a calendar, or the astronomical accuracy of knowing that the season changed at exactly 11:06 pm EDT last night.

Nature tells us all herself if we look for the signs.

On the last day of winter I went on a bike ride to the community mailbox which is 4km down the road from our home.

I returned along gravel roads and rails to trails paths that I have not been on for a few weeks. 

The conditions were good as the frost has come up out of the ground, and surfaces are drying and firming up. 

Perfect for biking again. 

If at all possible, I like to ride off paved roads along routes that are not as busy, and that go through the scenic backcountry.

On my ride I heard an owl call from in the woods. I stopped to listen. "Who - who, who! Who - who, who?"

Later I stopped to watch a robin (turdus migratorius) at the top of a tree. It was singing its heart-warming song over and over, meaning it is setting up its breeding territory.

The robins will start laying their first batch of eggs in late April and May.

There were geese in pairs in farmers fields, another sign that things are changing.

On this observation, some people say, "When geese are in flocks, winter still rocks. When geese are in a pair, spring is in the air."

I saw that water was running in brooks and streams, trickling away and quickening its pace on its short trip to the nearby ocean.

And I saw snowdrops emerging from the warming soil in a yard along our road a couple of weeks ago already.

And naturally, since it was the last day of winter, before I got home a few flakes of snow began to fall.

The snow may accumulate again at some point, but the coming spring is undeniable.

Nothing can stop it.

Goodbye winter.

Welcome warmer weather.

Today, the first full day of spring, is a good moment to start our garden planning and seed purchasing.

Let the season begin.

March 17, 2024

No Modern Stuff - Still Happy

The Amish have been walking away from modernity since arriving in North America hundreds of years ago.

In that time they have changed, but not dramatically. 

For the most part, they have:

- no electricity

- no iPhones

- no unnecessary medical procedures

- no computers

- no $70,000 Detroit automobiles

- no fashionable wardrobe

- no nails

- no heavy equipment

- no power tool built barns

- no nightclubs

- no Hollywood movies

- no TV

- no fast food

- no annual resort vacations

And yet, they are still healthy, and still happy. 

Miraculously, everything gets done.

Is there anything to learn from these simple living people? 

Is there is a lesson here for the "advanced", high consumption peoples of the planet who haven't found happiness in stuff and status?

Go Amish!

Or almost Amish.

Even a little bit Amish would be an improvement.

March 14, 2024

Envy For Sale


We have what everyone desires,

for a price.

Just look what you can get.

You can buy this or that, 

or anything you want. 

Anything you see!

Isn't that marvellous?

You can even buy things you can't see,

like a lifestyle,


or a sense of well-being.

But best of all, 

you can buy the admiration

of friends, family,

neighbours and coworkers.

They will envy

your stereo,

your car,

your clothes,

your house,

or anything else you own that they want.


What we are really selling

is envy.

Get some today.

March 12, 2024

Consumer Nations Not The Happiest

Newsflash! The citizens of hi-tech, rich consumer nations may not be the happiest people on the planet.

Wait, what? How can that be? 

We have the best stuff, and more of it. 

We have the best democracy money can buy. 

We have freedom of choice, movement and speech.  

We have more billionaires. 

We have the most marvellous hi-tech toys.

Therefore, we must be the happiest. 


Not so fast.

In a survey called The Mental State of the World in 2023: A Perspective on Internet-Enabled Populations, researchers uncovered some trends that run counter to this fairy tale.

The report begins,

Dear Reader,

This is our fourth annual Mental State of the World Report that provides a perspective on the Internet-enabled global population.


In focus this year is one key trend – that the dramatic decline in mental wellbeing that occurred between 2019 and 2020, and continued into 2021 through the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to persist with no sign of recovery.


The expectation may have been that once the lockdowns lifted and the threat of COVID-19 subsided that our collective mental health would begin a recovery towards its pre-pandemic levels.


However, the data across 64 countries argues otherwise – that the effects of diminished global mental wellbeing have become a new normal. 


Indeed, many of the shifts that the pandemic brought about persist, from an increase in remote work to increased use of single use plastics, and could all have a contributing effect that must be studied and understood.


As mental wellbeing has remained largely static across the world since 2021, so too have the rankings of countries.


At the top of the rankings are many Latin American and African countries while much of the core Anglosphere ranks in the bottom quartile.


With national wealth indicators such as per capita GDP negatively correlated with average mental wellbeing scores (see our 2021 report), this year we have made substantial progress in our understanding of why this is so.


Two key findings published in Rapid Reports in 2023 show that younger age of first smartphone ownership and ultra-processed food consumption are two major contributors to our mental health challenges.


In wealthier countries, the age of first smartphone ownership is much younger and ultra-processed food consumption much higher.


Other contributing factors are the relatively diminished family relationships in wealthier countries that are highlighted in our 2022 Annual Report.


While this may seem upside-down, many have been trying to bring attention to such things for a very long time.

Money and stuff does not make one happy past a certain point, we have been repeatedly warned, but few want to hear it.

The following are key insights from the report.

* Mental wellbeing remained at its post-pandemic low with yet again no sign of movement towards pre-pandemic levels.

* Younger generations, particularly those under age 35, saw the steepest declines in mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic while those over 65 stayed steady.

* As in previous years, several African and Latin American countries topped the country rankings, while wealthier countries of the Core Anglosphere such as the United Kingdom and Australia are towards the bottom.

These results may suggest that the response to the 2020 cold and flu season in the West was way, way worse than any virus, and that those negative effects could continue for years to come.

We may never recover from the lies, deceptions, and unnecessary, ineffective mandates perpetrated by what we were taught are democratic governments where the people have freedom of choice.


In Canada, and much of the west, when concerned citizens came together to peacefully and legally protest all of that, they were cracked down upon in an unprecedentedly harsh manner.

It is not surprising that we were made mentally unwell by it all. 

And that is only one of the problems that we face.

On the other hand, Yemen, one of the poorest nations on the planet, ranked higher in mental wellness than wealthy UK (rated the second unhappiest country out of 71 countries surveyed).

Even Ukraine, currently being goaded into WWIII by the rich, sad countries highlighted in the report, ranked higher than the UK. 

The Dominican Republic topped the list as the world’s happiest country, followed by Sri Lanka in second place and Tanzania in third. 

All of the top ten countries were African, Asian, or Latin American nations.

The authors of the report conclude, 

Altogether this suggests that greater wealth and economic development does not necessarily lead to greater mental wellbeing, but instead can lead to consumption patterns and a fraying of social bonds that are detrimental to our ability to thrive.”

I wonder how many of us will listen this time? 

And of those who do, how many will change their lives for the better by turning their backs on the lies and propaganda of rank consumerism and poor governance?

Now is a good time for the unhappy Golden Billion to start building a better, happier, more simple story together for the benefit of themselves, and the entire human family.

March 10, 2024

Make A (Mental) List Of Everything You Own

How do you know you need to buy something if you don't know what you already have? How do you know what to keep, and what to jettison?

The best way to truly see is to make a list of everything you own. 


In order to avoid buying things you already have, you need to make that scary list.

That advice seems extreme, and it is. Unless you like that kind of thing. 

I don't, even though I don't have much stuff.

But I do keep a mental list going. 

I am constantly aware of my possessions, so I know what I have and what I can do with it. 

Also, and maybe more importantly, because some of it is undoubtably crap that needs to go.

As I make my way around the house, and in the garage, I make a mental note of all these things that have wormed their way into the soil of my life.

While observing everything, I ask these questions:

  • When was the last time I used that?
  • Will I use that again?
  • Does owning it improve my life?

It is easy to acquire stuff, but it is increasingly difficult to get rid of it. 

Occasionally I dream of having a ritual crap-burning fire in the back yard.

Impermanence. Dust to dust. The fleeting nature of stuff and life. That kind of thing.

It could be my simple living performance art.

Very liberating just to think about it.

Make that list, mental or otherwise. You might be shocked at what you find out. 

So. Much. Stuff.

But it will be a good shocked, a wake up call for a light flight to a less burdened, more efficient life.

March 9, 2024

Increasing Ecological Footprints

There is one important way that I can tell that politicians of the West are lying when they say they are concerned about climate change, and that is their promotion of high levels of immigration into their countries.

Why even talk about net-zero, or the end of oil, when you are in the business of increasing the ecological footprint of millions of people?

These same politicians are incentivizing people to move from low eco-footprint countries to high eco-footprint countries. 

Millions of people from places like Cuba, Haiti and Honduras, or from other low-footprint countries like Bangladesh and India, are being invited into countries that have some of the highest footprints on the globe.

The result is an overall increase of the average global eco-footprint, which means an increase in not only consumption, but also pollution and resource depletion.

I used to believe in the goals of environmentalism and climate change mitigation. Until about 2019 that is.

Over the past few tumultuous years I have discarded just about everything that I thought I knew and believed and am starting over from scratch.

I am going against the grain and doing my own research, and drawing my own conclusions from what I see.

I am afraid that the whole climate hand-wringing, like the pandemic and resulting medical tyranny, is just a power grab. 

It is all about control and profit, and has nothing to do with "democracy", or "saving the Earth".

Please, faux eco-politicians of the West, tell me how increasing the eco-footprint of millions of citizens of 1 - 2 planet countries by bringing them to 3 - 4 planet countries helps your green agenda?

Either you fight climate change, or you increase the average global eco-footprint through high levels of immigration.

You can't say you are doing both and be taken seriously by rational thinkers. 

Unless climate change mitigation is not your agenda. 

And if not, what is?

March 5, 2024

A Quiet, Boring Life

I wrote a little poem for you today. I hope you enjoy it.

A Quiet, Boring Life

All I want is a quiet, boring life.

Free from harm and

free from strife.

A life like a monk, a hermit, or nun.

It looks slow,

But I am sure it is fun.

You see, the American Dream, it's not for me.

There's too much stuff,

and not enough free.

So I have been watching the green grass grow,

the crows fly,

and the falling snow.

Nothing much happens from day to day. 

My boring life is what it is,

and I like it that way.

Give me a life that's peaceful, and quiet.

You can offer me more, 

but I won't buy it.