I woke up this morning a bit earlier than I usually do for a Sunday. Happy I was to have had once again a great sleep. Going to the front room I could tell right away that it was going to be an agreeable day. I could see thru my front door snow falling lightly and without a breath of air. It’s winter here once again. The leaves have long since fallen, the days short and the bears who once roamed have gone back to their dens. Passing to the kitchen it was tea and toast, I then fired up the computer and TBP to see the latest posts.
One of the problems here in winter is securing the house from foreign invaders that run in the walls. Winters here are harsh but not bitter but as has been told to me many times it is not the cold that gets in your bones but the relative humidity.
So understandable even to me on some level the critters outside seek shelter here in winter. With it every year comes a cat and mouse dance. Long since past our two cats, they died of old age, and with it the mouse problem has gotten worse.
But its back to the dance. At night the mice are once again are running loose and scratching in the in the walls. Its kind of cute at first but it gets old quick. Especially when those critters start gnawing above me on the beams in the ceiling.
A good trap is a hard thing to find and an American traps harder still. Going to the stores in the past couple years it seems the only ones to be found are Chinese made. The programming insists the cheapest ones are picked first, So it’s a dollar ninety nine, for pack of four. Traplines were set and next day checked. Soon after there was a rush as the stupid ones to get the cheese. A few days pass, some skulls crushed, but soon enuf the bounty dries up and back it is to square one again.
The smart ones had figured out the game.
Triggered the traps somehow without doing themselves in. Any cheese put out was just feeding the critters. The next plan was to bait the trap and then wrap it in string. Dabbing it with some peanut butter topping it all off and to hide everything. It worked for a while but soon it was back to square one again. So the solution then was to buy a more expensive trap, another six ninety nine for a pack of two. Chinese made yes but it came with a promise of a quick kill but still a mess. The new trap would succeed where the others had failed.
Being cheap it was just the cheese to start. The same dance ensued till finally forced to use string. Then not long after that the trap failed again.
Leaving only the very smartest left to run free.
The circle returns and I am woken again. Time for a better trap and it’s off to the store again. Soon at checkout with one advertised as a multi-catch it was an added expense, a free glue board included and priced at twenty dollars and ninety eight cents…
This one a Pros-series and those who buy it are certified catch masters.
The mice must know there is no exit once inside. As they run in circles in a panic they don’t bother with the cheese. Where before I could only catch one of them at night, now I catch them all day. Skipping the glue boards, no need to pay for consumables, it’s just 4 inches of water and then watch them swim.
Where once traps got baited every day.
I now do it once and its all Chinese made.
When it comes to economics
sometimes the metaphor gets tricky
then ends up skipping anyway
Bruce wrote about a car
Methinks it’s about a cat.
One is good
Two is better
Three’s for sure
No doubt about that.
I wrote this to a friend. Posting here for posterity.
Good Morning and greetings from still snowy Nova Scotia. First off I must apologize for being tardy in getting back to you folks with an email. I have over past couple of months given some thought to what I would write about but alas life seems to get in the way. For some reason writing has become a chore.
The drama of COVID is still here but the effects are starting to wane. Being a natural sceptic I have been leery in taking to heart what the government and experts have had to say about it all. Both Cindy and I are convinced that we contracted it early on last spring when it all began. I have no interest in getting tested to prove it one way or the other an neither does she. My Brother did end up getting it and was found to be positive along with his wife survived with few ill effects. Mine and Cindy’s parents are doing well. The restrictions have probably benefitted them. Both my Dad and Cindy’s Dad are in declining health and probably would not survive contact with this virus. Fingers are crossed for their continued health.
Life goes on as it always has in spite of things being completely upended. I have whittled away my time building things in my shop. Last summer my son and I sharpened our carpentry skills a bit. Above is a garbage box we completed for his home. He was having trouble with the critters where he lives getting into the bags and making a mess of things. It has worked like a charm so far but that is probably only because an enterprising bear has not come on contact with it. Still it is so far so good.
With that project done we decided to take on another at cottage on shore in Lismore. My family have been talking for years about how nice it would be to have an outdoor shower. With that in mind, a friend, myself and my son got some beer and brainstormed on a design. Over the course of a weekend last July we got to work and built what you see above. We hit a home run on this one and got loads of praise, especially from the ladies. It was intentionally built low enough on from so that person in shower could look out with view of ocean. Cindy can be seen above enjoying the view.
This past year in Nova Scotia was one for the history books in ways that looking back surprise me. In spite of the pandemic we persevered. Looking back at these pictures now the weather we were blessed with was amazing. Here is a picture of my Sister and Cindy, atop Cape George in Ballantynes Cove on December 27, 2020. It was yet another outing organized by Cindy to get out and enjoy the part of the world we have. As you can see in photo there was not a stitch of snow on the ground. Odd it was like everything else in 2020 but with Cindy insistence we made the best of it.
In January I decided to not be out done with initiative from Cindy and decided to start a reno in basement. Being a cheap Scot I wanted to keep costs as low as possible. Cindy has been asking for years to spruce up the room a bit and has made some suggestion to replace doors. Seeing as the ones we have now are perfectly fine and their only drawback is that they are hollow and plain, I decided on going at this with a different tact. With that in mind I put an add on local buy and sell that asked for old doors for free. To my surprise about a week later I got a reply. A carpenter in Pictou County was renovating an old farmhouse. He had some doors that he was planning to bin. Seeing my ad he thought they deserved to be saved.
So off we went on another adventure. I was proud of the fact that I was responsible, at least for once, being the one initiating the excursion. Cindy as always was happy to tag along. I knew that doors would be in rough shape but was somewhat deflated upon seeing them. A hundred years of poor paint will do that to a fella. I counted at least five layers on doors that needed to be stripped and was not sure if they could be saved. Getting them home I started to work. The first door was stripped chemically and was a mess from start to finish.
I had to reevaluate the process. Weirdly enough January weather was still nice. I decided that instead of using chemicals I would strip doors using heat gun. So with doors open because of my concern for lead tinged fumes I got to work. The paint peeled off like a charm and with little effort.
I have just finished the project and am quite happy with how things turned out. Cindy did insist on getting new door knobs but final cost was just over a hundred bucks to hang five doors. Not bad eh. And though not perfect in form they are perfect in function. I do like the fact that even after a bit of sanding and refinishing I can still see hints of where a long dead dog scratched a door or two maybe a hundred years ago. Cindy thought the doors told a great story. They hold many secrets and will see many more.
A bit history is preserved and I like that.
Sorry about the diversions. I don’t usually write this much. Still looking back at what I have written here is brightening my day just a bit. In spite of COVID life does go on. So that is how things are in Antigonish. So far it has been so good. With Cindy’s help we have come thru this pretty much unscathed. We both still have our jobs, financially well and blessed.
I do hope someday that you and Nina can make your way back to these shores. I have made some effort to let Muriel know that you are well. And who knows maybe we can all someday meet again in that Park to watch some Shakespeare.
Hope all of you are well and the Lord is with you. Will talk again soon. Have to say that writing this letter has been oddly therapeutic. I have these last few weeks been feeling a little down on things. It has much to do I think with the weather. When winter sets in here, it doesn’t take long for it to become a drear. The final insult was on first day of spring we had a snowstorm. This morning I got up, looked outside, and saw the snow. Cindy insisted I check the forecast.
She reminded me that skies will be warm and sunny all next week.
I am a lucky man.
Oh yeah Cindy just left for town with grand daughter.
She reminded me to thank you for sending calendar.
I am counting blessings today to counteract my inherent cyncism that still every once in a while rears forth into my day. Once I had all the fixings of the American Dream. It ended lost in translation along the way in a ship that I now realize sailed many years ago. Where once I thought that with time truth and would prevail, it has been replaced now with contempt on all sides in a dance that once nearly consumed me.
While I still listen I do not hear, the drone has lost its appeal.
I finished hanging the doors in my house today. In doing so I spent the entirety of my day away from internet and away the doom. Rather than lingering on computer methinks I will now find something else to do. There’s no point fretting about something already lost. Besides it is a lovely day to get outside for a walk.
February 28, 2021 3:33 pm
In the meantime I could not resist the opportunity to walk the Big Island Beach on Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Shore. My wife had been pestering me to get outside and enjoy the day and glad I am that took her advice. She graciously offered to take the wheel. The drive there thru Arisaig, Knoydart, Lismore and the Ponds was spectacular. The sun shone and hardly a soul was around. There were no masks in sight. The ice sparkled in the Strait all leading to one not having much to say.
When we got to Big Island we parked at a spot about halfway down a spit of land that connects the Island to the mainland. The road protected from ocean beyond by rip rap still as always lacking the permanence to hold back the power of the sea.
Recently there was a storm and in one part of beach the sand that the rocks had been resting on was washed away. The foundation gone the rock had no choice but tumble down into the gap. What interested me was that the rocks while falling had smashed into a previous failed attempt to hold back the tide. In that attempt used wood piles driven into the same shifting sands. Pressure treated lumber of all sizes and description is now strewn all over the beach. The road hasn’t been breached but the lifeline, as always, to the mainland remains tenuous.
My next project once I finish the doors is to round up my sons and salvage the wood.
And speaking of framing, these past couple of days here on TBP has done well at framing my life these past years. On Thursday drive to work talk on radio was about the most impactful movie of one’s life. According to the folks on Q104.3 that movie most often is one released in the 21st year of one’s life.
For me that year would 1986.
I was thinking about this as my wife and I drove home from family cottage in Lismore. Thinking that movie might be Platoon, I got home fired up the internet and sure enough, my favourite movie was released in late 1986.
Which leads to this question…
How does a door project end up leading me Elias’s instead Barnes?
My parents were Depression Kids; born in the early 1930’s. My maternal grandfather took several pay cuts but cherished his employer kept him employed during those tough times. My mother would retell stories from those days of visitors who came to the house seeking a meal in exchange for performing some light duty chores. As a young child she vividly remembered one stranger who ate his meal alone on the porch; when she asked my grandfather why he would not eat with the family, my grandfather replied that he was simply too ashamed to do so. Those were desperate times that lacked today’s social safety nets, and folks had to make do. And so, they did, perhaps with some hubris that would have been harder to find just a decade earlier. Seems that kind of hubris is nowhere to be found today.
I think some of my frugality and creativity came from my mother and in turn, from her childhood experiences during that era. She was crafty, not afraid of hard work, good with her hands, and as a child she grew up in times where you had to Make Do. Even in our comfortable suburban setting during the 60’s and 70’s she controlled our household finances frugally. Lots of clothes were handed down, socks were darned, coupons were clipped, vegetable gardens were grown, chairs were reupholstered, and nothing went to waste. Things were recycled before there was even a word for it. Old habits may die hard, but they can also be passed forward a generation or two.
As a kid I always had a creative mind and liked to build things. I progressed from Lego, to Meccano, to woodworking, to electronics, to vehicles, and eventually I learned how to build and repair all kinds of stuff. In that process I learned a lot about how things worked and how they were put together. One of my first upcycling projects was something I built while in high school. In the late 70’s “ghetto blasters” became popular, and kids would bring them to school and play tunes during lunch break and spares. But I decided to build one myself by repurposing a car stereo system. I used two 3-way 6×9 speakers with massive 28 oz magnets, a radio-cassette deck, a 12V motorcycle battery, and a 120V to 12V transformer with rectifier (to run it on A/C or to recharge the battery with the flip of a switch). It was all packed within a carefully designed and crafted wooden compartment complete with a sliding rack to hold cassette tapes, a retractable antenna, and a handle repurposed from a bathroom towel bar. It was massive, it was heavy (over 20 lbs.), and it was really, really LOUD. I became quite popular with my peers but rather unpopular with the school’s administration.
Clouds started forming on my economic horizon by the early 90’s. After I had accumulated a few years of earning and living on my own as a university graduate in a professional field, I had an epiphany. I did not have my father’s standard of living, and likely never would, and I needed to adapt. With an equivalent education and at an equivalent age, my father’s after-tax income went a lot farther than mine ever would. At 30 years of age he could buy a brand-new car for 3 months take-home pay and a 2400 square foot suburban house for 3 years take-home pay, and there was no provincial sales tax back then.
Contrasting those times with my own at 30 years of age and those cars and homes would cost almost double that, closer to 5½ months and 5½ years respectively. By 1991 the provincial sales tax (introduced in 1961) had already climbed from 3% to 8%, and then along came the Goods and Services Tax, which added another 7% of federal tax on top of the 8% provincial tax and it was applied to practically everything the common man needed to purchase except for basic groceries. So, on top of higher income taxes, lower relative compensation, and higher costs, I was also faced with forking over 15% more of my hard earned “after-income-tax” money at the cash register. I was being forced to live well below my father’s means, while my own means continually diminished, all to finance an ever-expanding Canadian government “bloatocracy” that refused to live within ITS means. Enough was enough.
My journey away from traditional consumerism and towards viable alternatives thus became more entrenched. I became focused on getting a better bang for the buck while simultaneously sticking it to the taxman in any way possible. This meant legal tax avoidance was fair game, but not illegal tax evasion. Yet as an employee (wage slave), the income tax problem was not easily mitigated; there were a few well-known strategies, but the most effective ones were reserved for the self-employed. I knew I needed to start off with the consumption side of things, the “debit” side of the household leger, and avoid consumption taxes.
Luckily the government never conjured any feasible strategy to force consumption taxes onto the used goods market (except for used vehicles as they required re-registration). So, for most of my young adult life I relied almost exclusively on the used goods market for all my household needs, and I became very proficient at used goods procurement. Around the same time that the internet was starting to take off, I began developing an ever-growing social circle; meeting new people and establishing contacts who worked in many different occupations. This networking allowed me to develop a small but effective list of like-minded people with diverse skills and expertise, many of whom were willing to barter, trade, or collaborate their skill sets on projects. The recent advent of e-mail allowed mass communication, and pre-www online bulletin board sites facilitated buying and selling used goods locally, over and above the traditional want ads in print media. These pursuits formed the groundwork for being able to meet most of my consumer needs at a significantly reduced cost, and without the extortive 15% taxation, plus there was the bonus of getting others to buy into the plan. This was the foundation of what I termed “Guerrilla Economics”.
While searching for and procuring used goods for most everything I needed, I sometimes came across the odd “unicorn”; something that was available for free or next to nothing. Beyond the hand-me-down old cars from my grandmother and uncle which I kept roadworthy long past their prime, once in a while I chanced upon a major item being discarded simply because one small component failed. “I wasn’t sure what broke exactly, so I just bought a new one” was a phrase I heard often. More often than not, for just a few bucks for parts and/or a small bit of time, I found myself with a perfectly working if slightly used washing machine, or dryer, or BBQ, or lawnmower, or more recently even a 42” flat screen LCD TV.
So, over the years I continued to develop and refine my approach. It eventually led to bigger and bigger projects, mostly in the home improvement category. Even as the projects grew in size, duration, and complexity, I managed to break them down into reasonable sized subtasks and always tried to push the boundary a little with respect to free-sourcing material. I figured, if I’m not paying myself for the labor component, why pay retail prices – or pay anything at all if possible, for the material components? And if I can actually add additional value to my residential property – value that also appreciates free of capital gains tax even when I sell, then why not try to eliminate the consumption taxes too? It all part of the philosophy I call “the Art of Upcycling”. It’s not just about the money saved, or about the government robber-barons being denied. It’s also about the challenge, the adventure, the struggles, the triumphs, and ultimately the satisfaction and pride of a job well done along a journey of slowly but deliberately turning one man’s trash into another man’s treasure. In these unprecedented times, when the government devil is actually doling out billions in fabricated/confiscated currency to enable idle hands to remain idle, the strength and security of self-reliance needs to be nurtured and grown in defiance, less it ceases to be. As their empire slowly fails due to their own regressive policies and incompetence, your own micro empire of self-reliance and diversified skills can slowly grow and flourish.
These two skill sets – learning how to source and procure used or free goods, and learning how to build, repair and upcycle things, will be very important to have if, or when, the Greater Depression materializes. A third skill – how to eliminate debt while growing and protecting financial assets, is also a critical skill to acquire – preferably before the Greater Depression materializes. But learning proficiency in the first two skills also allows the “upcycling” of “freed” capital that can be deployed towards developing that third skill! That process of redeploying freed capital is also part of the Art of Upcycling and Guerilla Economics. There is no point in saving a little, or a lot, of earned money unless there is better purpose by investing or deploying it elsewhere, far away from the extortive force of consumption taxes or from the grasp of Big Retail who only wants you to consume, dispose, and then consume even more.
So, fire away with the comments! Do you have a project big or small you wish to tackle? Would you like to know tips and tricks for free-sourcing or free-cycling? How to fix things worth fixing but determining when to pass? What about a top 20 “lessons learned” list developed from decades of experience? Or another article with details about how I tackled one of my bigger projects? This is a great community of fine folks here on TBP who I think value independence, individualism, freedom of speech, and exchange of ideas. So, any and all comments, even negative ones, are welcomed. I’ll endeavor to answer any questions you post to the best of my abilities.
The current COVID lockdown has left many, myself included, with lots of time and not enough things to keep busy. Long since gone are the days when politicians promised a mere two weeks of restrictions to flatten the curve. The restrictions endure, and left at loose ends, I persist in my rage against the machine. My wife frets rightly, that I spend too much time online and not enough in the real world living. So through fits and starts, and like many other households, we were left to cast about the house for projects to pass the time and sharpen skills.
As that Curve turned to Fall talks commenced on renovating the basement. The changing the carpet for tile was first thing discussed but that was quickly nixed because of the cost. Eventually a fresh of coat on the walls was agreed upon, though after that was done the room still did not look complete. The doors colour stood out and quickly became the target to replace. Hollow and with no character, we both thought solid wood doors would look better. Being a skinflint it was hard to part with the money to buy them new, plus tax, for me.
Maybe some could be found to fix and refinish on the cheap. And with that in mind it was back online write a bit, to the local buy and sell, looking for old doors for free. Thinking it that bit a lark, what was written was quickly forgotten. And yet week later came a response. Five doors were available and all I need to do was drive to nearby farm in my truck. Once there, pleasantries exchanged and a new friend made, I loaded my truck and made my way. Back in my shop I got to work on the doors the best way I could with a chemical stripper.
It worked but was a real mess as can been seen in video above. While most of the paint comes off some is still left behind and with it the problem of lead. It was time to re-evaluate process. Which got me to wondering why lead was put in paint in first place. Turns out that there is a long history of lead in paint. The lead white on the doors has been produced since the 4th century BC and the dangers of lead paint have been known for quite some time. As early as 1886, German health laws prohibited women and children from working in factories processing lead paint and lead sugar. Ben Franklin even wrote a letter warning to a friend 1786 about the hazards of lead with facts that he considered well-established. My concerns that the dust would end up contaminating my shop would seem valid. Having stripped the first door the best I could I then sealed it with the lead with a thick of primer. Sanding it as best I could the door was cut to size and then painted.
This first door finished in primer did look pretty good.
Not bad but still could be better! Besides the price of stripper ran contrary to spirit of project and it was decided to buy a heat gun. So off it was to Canadian Tire. Back home again I got to work stripping the next door. It turns out the heat gun is the cats meow when it comes to doing this type of thing. And after some experimenting with technique to be used I got to work. As one can see in video below the process is much more effective in removing the lead from the wood. In my caution I did open all the doors on the shop so that I wouldn’t be breathing any poisonous fumes and got to work.
I am still not done with project.
Some weeks ago I posted my first video to Rumble. At the time I was thinking that putting content up like that might have some value and help expand the ecosystem of that site. My thought was that to rival youtube folks are going there will need other things besides Qanon conspiracies. Admin has asked me to submit an article or two about current project. Would it be worthwhile? I was at first not sure…. and then I read Admin’s Strange Game, Parts 1 and 2 . It all then made sense
There may come a day when being handy with a saw and a can of paint might translate into a meal or two for my wife, my family and my friends. It is still middle innings in this enterprise. Those doors once finished will cost me just time and a bit of paint. In the bigger picture, do-it-yourself home improvements, does intersect with the spirit of TBP. Flying in formation with the zeitgeist of this place, I am starving the beast with my non-compliance with paying taxes for my time. And as with Gandhi when he encouraged the workers in the Gujarat cotton mills to strike in an effort to starve the beast,
I encourage everyone here to try a DIY project as well, as a silent way to rage against the machine.
If it turns out to be 1% then why is that fact alone making this a big deal. One percent mortality is within the range of typical cold flu season. As I stated above I am using the statistics provided by The Government of Nova Scotia. Their facts are that only 2 of the 73 confirmed cases are in a hospital setting. And yeah before anyone dog piles me, I agree that things are likely to become much more dire in coming weeks. How much.. who knows..
If it helps the undercurrent of snowflake sensibilities I am being a good boy and in a self quarantine as it stands right now. I live nearby neighbours that are elderly and outta an abundance of concern for their safety I am going to limit my contact with them.
We will see how it goes but I ain’t giving in to the hysteria and the sales pitch.. Call me a skeptic if you want but governments everywhere lie. It is just what they fucken do..
Is it just a coinky dink that this pandemic was reared JIT to lock down the entire world in fear so that folks couldn’t go outside and protest the assfucking the banks have unleashed on small business and the common man.
Bush said it best…
“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
He fucked up the quote but didn’t.. if you get my drift…
One thing is for sure….
Nobody knows how many have caught it. There is not any widespread testing going on here in Nova Scotia. And unless you are really sick you won’t be tested. The authorities don’t even want you to go see a doctor unless the symptoms become of a particular concern, whatever that is supposed to mean.
So if you have it and shake it off, nobody will ever know. Worse still this known unknown known will never get counted in and post event Statistics. It guarantees that any calculations on rates of mortality will skew to the deep end of hysteria. As stands right here and right now, there could be tens of thousands who have been already been exposed.
That the virus, so feared, might have already burned here through the Nova Scotian herd.
Case in point..
My wife works at a University and up until just a few weeks ago people were coming and going from there from all over the world. There is a substantial contingent from Mainland China. One month ago absolutely nothing was being done to promote “social distancing” Those 4000 or so young adults were, and I’m being generous, taking a fairly liberal stance as far as precautions. Then some policy wonk in Halifax declares the pandemic is here and proceeds to lock the place down.. well sorta!
The university cancelled classes, closed the campus and guess what the kids did.
It makes me think that I may have already come in contact with this COVID..
I can’t prove it but fool me — you can’t get fooled again
So count on people queuing up to let the interloper from Manhattan buy off the Injuns with a few trinkets and beads. Count on also the Qanon acolytes calling this rescue package his signature legislation.
Count on them waxing their poles and trusting the Plan..
Count on a wave of delusion that will lead the Trump Train to roar back to office in November, with the saddest part being that most folks getting the checks now won’t realize till too late that those trinkets and beads were charge to the credit card to be paid for later with their own fucken money…
Donald J. Trump is bought and paid for just like all the rest in the Swamp! His primary job now is to fatten the goose so that it can be fucked by the Gander. Fancying himself Santa, this Grey Prophet of this Fourth Turning is the just the Lead Oaf. He is being sent about to only fatten the rest.
In the meantime there will be hymns of salvation sung by those oblivious to their fate. Effort will be directed to trying hard at looking the other way. The delusion will be consoled with Qanon posts with misdirecting fingers pointing at the Turkeys to the Left and to the Right. Nary a care anywhere in the world that the Turkeys are just the hors d’oeuvres.
The Main Course, the Goose, is being stuffed for Christmas day.
Take heart though as there is some consolation…..
The USA is for now the least ugly sweater being worn. Because as Dylan Ratigan suggests in video the same thing is happening everywhere else, here in Canada and around the world.
For Ignorance is strength while the sausage as it is being made.
All that said and unfortunately, it will all end up in same place….