Good Morning

I couldn’t seem to comment even on my own blog! I have banned myself without knowing it. But here was yesterday, and it went surprisingly well.

IMG 6602 600x450  Good MorningIMG 6601 600x450  Good MorningIMG 6600 600x450  Good Morning

And here she is, from the patio of the club house.

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What a nice change. In many ways.


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And at the end of the rainbow, a little lighthouse …

Crossing the bridge at Prescott. I may love Americans but I am nervous in America. You really do seem to have a lot of police everywhere. Or maybe I just don’t worry about Canadian police. We are just so less likely to be incarcerated.

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Finally in Wareham, Massachusetts, and there she be! Just as remembered, or maybe a little cleaner … on the outside. The promised interior cleaning never happened, but I was prepared mentally for same, and it is a mess, but inch by inch it gets better.

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Ugh. Not happy with one axle.

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But hey! What a store! A lot like our Princess Auto, which is honestly like going reverse shopping, with women hanging around outside drinking coffee waiting forever for their men folk while holding their purses.

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And then the tow home. We really tried to do things by the book, but losing the licence plate on the way home wasn’t part of the plan. But having a spare trailer light wasn’t either, but we luckily had only had to replace one rear light set and the kit had two … we just didn’t tighten the bolts enough … shook itself off somewhere in upper New York State. But the border guard turned out not to give a hoot, and it was after 1 am on a rainy Mother”s Day (well, technically Boxing Mother’s Day)

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and we drove uneventfully the rest of the way to the Nepean Sailing Club, where they have a tiny lighthouse.

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So far so good!


Posted in LIFE, PHOTOS | 1 Comment

First the sad stuff …

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I don’t know why mum wasn’t wearing her cap with her gown … it is a most splendid cap and suited her to a tee, as you can see:

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In the staged photo above, Bertie Wilkinson, her father, is at the far left, and her brother at the far right. Bertie was a mediaevalist, and strangely fascinated by 12th century constitutional law, and a treat. I mention that just to make sense of the donations mentioned in the obit. Her brother was a professor of Library Science. Yes, I don’t really understand either. My dad was getting sworn in as the head of Victoria College at the U of T at the time … I am a happy black sheep of the family, having run screaming from the thought of doing a PhD … had to distinguish myself somehow!

We have received condolences that have mentioned the passing of an era. Does every generation just feel that, or do we live in a small enough pond that the generations were fairly distinct? But now it is my turn to grow old, I hope. And for that I am exceptionally grateful. Thanks mum.


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Don’t touch that dial … well, actually do, please, but then come bacq

Hey ho … life is up to its usual shenanigans and my poor mum is not so well and it is occupying my mind and body. And I am information central for a small but loving group and I wish this phase were over. Youth in Asia is not a topic for blanket statements, and I think it is a slippery slope. But when is intervention cruel and how can nature take its course when man always wants to meddle? Mum has a living will. Everyone should have one. Mum also gave personal care power of attorney to her children before she couldn’t … please find someone you trust and give them this power. But maybe don’t pick me … once is enough.

Peace out … and much love …

Exuma9 114 600x398  Don’t touch that dial … well, actually do, please, but then come bacq

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Sorry for the endless test pattern …

I have been having a most interesting time, and seem to have hampered my neurons [but not to the point of not being able to spell neuron, strange spell checker who prefers neurone, ed.] terribly, with the kind assistance of Pfizer. My experience with Lyrica has been a life saving killer over the past oh so many years … hmmnn … but now two weeks have passed and it is a week since I last barfed … the worst seems to be over with the withdrawal but my brain feels like there is a storm inside it and I think my hippocampus is angry with me! I feel like an idiot in many ways, and will write up the whole experience once my brain cools. When you are sick and no one knows why a lot of weird stuff can happen.

But …

The cottage beckons for Easter, we have found a home for the boat here in Ottawa at the Nepean Sailing Club, on the hard as they say, and one way or another the sun is going to shine, at least metaphorically! We still have to go and actually get the boat but it is all beginning to gel …

I hope to be more myself next week as even my camera begins to tempt me … but the thought of leaving the house alone still gives me the willies so something must change first and I am giving myself the benefit of the doubt and not rushing anything.

Oh and rabbits, rabbits, rabbits! Happy April 1st!

Posted in RANDOM | 70 Comments

And you thought the Shipping News was a depressing book, by a depressed nit-wit …

who had barely visited Newfoundland, and had the temerity to completely misrepresent the people, painting them with her own misery. But no. The depressing shipping news brought to you by this not very depressed nit-wit features the very frozen Great Lakes. While apparently last year’s ice is not to be beaten, this year’s is giving it a run for its money, if ice had money, which thankfully it doesn’t.

Here is the recent satellite shot from NOAA. Or not. They seem to be having troubles with their website, which is a good thing, because I am full of misinformation this morning. Apparently there was more ice coverage on the Great Lakes on March 3rd 2015 than on the previous year’s March 3rd. But I am pretty sure it is neck and neck now, or neck and bottle-neck if you are a ship hoping to get to Lake Superior, which thankfully you are not.

So here is how Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario looked on March 3rd:


Statistically speaking, apparently there was 88.3% ice coverage compared to 86%, in 2014.

That’s a whole lot of ice, but what that doesn’t show is that the water appears warmer this year … or I am unable to read the maps, which is a distinct possibility, hope springing eternally, leading to eternally hoping for spring!

A weekly Wednesday update … served iced, with a side of warm wishes.

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Leaning on Russ Roberts, but a monetary constitution is an interesting idea

I feel like the old me, advocating for some system of sounder money, but there can be no doubt that a government monopoly on currency is fraught with dangers, and the current system of rewarding some and not others as the response to fiscal and monetary crises has been a shocking example of cronyism and favouritism.  The discussion is wide ranging, and covers a justification of rules, as hoping to get a “good” head of the Fed is of course not only subjective, but they behave oddly once installed, with political pressures of immense weight being thrown on their academic shoulders. A set of rules governing the creation and management of a currency would at least lend a Hayekian consistency to monetary policy that would allow people to plan towards a more predictable future.

Lawrence H. White of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the possibility of a monetary constitution. Based on a new book,Renewing the Search for a Monetary Constitution, White explores different constitutional constraints that might be put on the government’s role in money and monetary policy. Topics discussed include cryptocurrencies, the gold standard, the Taylor Rule, the performance of the Fed, free banking, and private currency.

Lawrence H. White on Monetary Constitutions

And have a wonderful Wednesday unless you have made other plans …


Posted in ECONOMICS | 31 Comments

You could feel a giant sucking sound and fine, blame the third year of a drought …

Water, water, nowhere
and not a drop to drink …

You could feel a giant sucking sound and fine, blame the third year of a drought but all those showers and dishwashers and hotels doing laundry and too green golf courses in a desert … madness! I already knew that Las Vegas was a nightmare born of the Hoover Dam’s cheap electricity, but I hadn’t really considered where they got the water from. Or how much those asshats use. I thought there was some sort of water source but it turns out the palm trees were imported back in the early nineteen hundreds to trick people into thinking it was an oasis.

Makes Babbit seem more and more horrendous as a warning … a terrible novel but what it reveals of the attempt to build everywhere and have cities compete for business, as they do to this day with ludicrous special tax breaks and subsidized infrastructure. Always whining that without breaking zoning they can’t make a profit … and without cheap water it turns out people won’t use enough to make it profitable for the massive water authorities to sell because they rely on bulk to pay for the cost of infrastructure. While they literally drain lakes. And wouldn’t Russ Roberts sense my parched experience, and explain the full horror, just yesterday:

David Zetland on Water

EconTalk Episode with David Zetland

Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Zetland of Leiden University College in the Netherlands and author of Living with Water Scarcity talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of water management. Issues covered include the sustainability of water supplies, the affordability of water for the poor, the incentives water companies face, and the management of water systems in the poorest countries. Also discussed are the diamond and water paradox, campaigns to reduce water usage, and the role of prices in managing a water system.

And it all starts with a talk about California … where there are too many middle men having meetings, I am willing to bet, as all those authorities hold membership meetings and stay in hotels, using up precious resources while lecturing the rest of us, but not really meaning it. Who are these people? Babbits?

But sequing through Babbit to more cheerful atmospherical observations, my hubby spotted a rabbit, or as he really did say, a bunny, on our front walk the other evening. I think that is a much better indicator of spring than some crabby groundhog hauled out so cheesy politicians can have their ears bitten, on camera. But kudos to the snacking groundhog, and to our brave bunny, who took one heck of a winter on the chin. The more people behave like people, the more I enjoy the rest of the animal kingdom.

Somehow in our family we inherited a weird superstition that if you said rabbits as the very first word you spoke on the first day of the month you would have a lucky month. And here we have had an actually sighting! So rabbits to you all [all? hahahah, ed.] as we say around here to spread the karma, and in closing let me share a terrible pun/joke of my dad’s, about a rabbit who after a cold shower turned to his buddy and said: “I just washed my thing and I can’t do a hare with it!”

Have a tremendous Tuesday, and go bite your mayor on the ear!

Posted in ECONOMICS, LIFE, RANDOM | 34 Comments

One can be excused from thinking the fix is in, when the fix is in …

Here’s a frustrating topic dear to our hearts, and seems to tell the story of how the Americans took advantage of the carnage of World War Two to make their dollar the only equivalent to gold and created a ‘new world order’ of banking and reparations payments. A clear and historical account of the “Battle of Bretton Woods”:

Benn Steil of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Bretton Woods, the conference that resulted in the IMF, the World Bank, and the post-war international monetary system. Topics discussed include America and Britain’s conflicting interests during and after World War II, the relative instability of the post-war system, and the personalities and egos of the individuals at Bretton Woods, including John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White.

Benn Steil on the Battle of Bretton Woods

It is enough to make a groan woman weep!

But wouldn’t luck pan out [speaking of gold!] and when I went to fetch the link to the above podcast I found that today’s offering promises to be a treat, and without having listened, but with well-founded faith in my favourite guest, Mike Munger, here is an antidote to history in an apparent double dose of Mungers discussing behavioural economics, in the context of group decision making re constitutions and voting and the difficulties of majority rule making:

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book (co-authored with Kevin Munger), Choosing in Groups. Munger lays out the challenges of group decision-making and the challenges of agreeing on constitutions or voting rules for group decision-making. The conversation highlights some of the challenges of majority rule and uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as an example.

Michael Munger on Choosing in Groups

Both go well with morning tea, or when insomnia strikes … and who can resist a free university education? Actually, I think the answer to that question is fairly depressing, but many thanks to Professor Roberts for making these stellar podcasts.

I remember my eldest brother once talking about shouting from mountain top to mountain top, describing trying to communicate ideas with the world in the days of print, with basically only newspapers and books and institutions out of the reach of many. And while the internet makes the broadcasting easy, the audience is hard to locate. I no longer remember what led me to these podcasts but I am much the richer, intellectually, for them. Sometimes the ideas can seem simple once explained, but things like why people preferred no ice to expensive ice when there was no power for refrigeration in Raleigh help one make sense of the peculiar world we share with others.

So let me tea this one up [speaking of groan, ed.] for your listening pleasure, and I hope you enjoy this particular day in this peculiar world.

Posted in ECONOMICS | 49 Comments

And here I am again …

somewhat visually awestruck and mentally overwhelmed by impressions.

We drove through mountains and desert:

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and then drove the initially straight and then whacky southern coast of California, both metaphorically and geographically. From Julian, so American and apple pie that they proudly sponsored an unmanned drone, to Hippie Hill in San Francisco, where as long as you didn’t poop in public, everything seemed vaguely condoned:

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None of it seems sustainable. But Hippie Hill sure felt like a better approach to tolerance, and even if one were a firm believer in American might making right, it doesn’t follow that you need to wrap yourself in a flag and hate potheads.

Sorry to suddenly be a downer, but the desert didn’t use to be a desert, excepting the high desert and the uniquely beautiful Joshua unfortunately wall to wall RV’s and no privacy despite the incredible vastness of it all Tree National Park, and you can feel it encroaching .. every new subdivision and mall world full of flushing toilets and washing dishes and North American fastidious showering … and the cars … we got to be HOVers, because there were 2 of us. Now for one, HOV is such a peculiar acronym that it must preclude half the population even understanding it. Not everyone speaks high occupancy vehicle decoding language, si señor, bon jour …. how about a graphic showing a head count? We seem to have a number on a car and also smarmly allow “green” vehicles, those electric cars powered by coal and nuclear as well as massive dams.

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Apparently I am slagging Americans without full justification but according to the web I am not completely insane and we might have seen signs that just said HOV without a cute little graphic. And you also are moving to give special access to the rich and virtuous.


But lets skip over the accuracy part and stick with impressions. Much easier on the brain, and allows me to mention that when it was becoming clearly impossible to park anywhere near the beautiful Muir Woods, it being Valentine’s Day and free entry which we hadn’t remembered to notice, we turned back so kind hubby could drop me and my wounded leg at the entrance and drive for miles and then run back, while I started to explore. And while I took pictures of people on dates with their phones, he lucked out and found a close parking spot and noticed a VrtuCar parked illegally and getting a ticket. They actually had electric plug in parking spots with the handicapped spots, so why the more virtuous driver didn’t show off and displace the handicapped at the main entrance, but chose to park on some of the only remaining grass, will never be known. But it did remind me of a podcast about human behavioural economics and how people who bought and drove green cars would be more polluting in the rest of their lives than others. Like giving to United Way at the office …

Which brings me back to my HOV rant:

Because for two, it only takes 2 people to be counted as a HOVer and we could be on a four or five lane wide section of highway surrounded by LOVers. You could smell the ozone and it was only February. August must be insane. But where are all these single drivers going? Why aren’t there fewer cars with more people in them? Or what about designing worlds where people don’t live in house enclaves surrounded by highways leading to shopping enclaves and working enclaves? The entire automobile industry has been massively subsidized by the paving of North America. We started watching an almost good series on Netflix about how the states got their shapes, called How the States Got Their Shapes [it is online at the link [edit to add: maybe not but it is on Netflix] and it turns out it was a presidential grand idea to pave the states, odd numbers going north south and even numbers going east west. And here were we driving up highway 1, as much as possible. Taking advantage of what was a terrible idea, born of war time thinking when grandiose problems changed everything. It was the difficulty of getting troops across the country that started them all planning the grid and it is a sad fact we have to live with. It also turns out, according to the beginning of episode 4 or 5 [edit to add: it was episode 6, Living on the Edge] … sleep overtook us … that there are vast amounts of the west that the federal government owns, including most of Nevada. And Area 51 sounds like just a decoy …

And when it comes to where are all the trees, I married into ancestral guilt. Some of my hubby’s ancestors made a considerable amount of money logging the Georgian Bay in the late 1800’s and next door to the lovely little cottage that his parents still live in is a building we have always joking referred to as the bungalow, despite it being two stories tall. We actually stayed there for three days over Christmas many moons ago, the last year before the bungalow was sold out of the family, and it was unoccupied. My father-in-law pulled it off and much of the family made it. The family money has slowly dissipated, but the point still bears a family name, and one branch had a bundle in the 1920s and designed and build the 11 bedroom:

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two living room, one upstairs:

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and one downstairs, complete with a polar bear skin rug on the floor:

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eight bathroom bungalow straight out of Gatsby.

The living room had/has enormous Rosewood beams that were shipped from California … I remember the story. The wallpaper had been hand-painted in France and only the 2nd last idiot owners finally took it all out because it was “so dark”. It was a plant motif, but full plants … magical and could have been cleaned. A player piano with its own nook with built in cubby holes for the music rolls.  You can see it to the right of the Christmas tree, which looks surreal in the space bellow the open staircase, with the wallpaper gently swaying:

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There was a table on the porch with a tile mosaic of tiny flowers, imported from Italy:

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But it was all just the natural wealth of a new continent fuelling madness, and the current owner is actually (or maybe the title has finally been stolen) the losingest driver on Nascar and is a …. He has an enormous grey cigarette boat, and after taking out the pool the previous owners installed, has finally put a pool back in.

It is too much. And I know we were part of the problem, taking flights and driving vehicles.   We kept thinking how beautiful the coast would be from the water, and today we are actually paying for the sailboat … next time maybe we can be less of the problem by being in the solution, if you get my drift.

But here am I, being part of the problem:

and so glad to be alive. Merci beaucoup and gracias, and truly, thanks for all the fish.

Posted in LIFE | 13 Comments