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Monday, June 27, 2016

Finding your tribe and bears

My lovely wife and I were at a friend's birthday party over the weekend. It was your typical party by the pool: a bit of music, food on the grill, and a few drinks. Not a bad way to spend a nice summer's day. There was a great mix of people. Some were family, some where old friends and others were new friends.

One of the new friends sighed contentedly and stated, “I've found my tribe. It's taken me 10 years.”

Have you found your tribe?

It's more than just having a group of people you can go to a party with. These are people who'll help each other. It's nice to be able to get help when you really need it. Of course, the flip side of that is being there to help others.

Do I expect them all to pull together in a big crisis? No, but I'm betting that enough of them will to make a huge difference.

In other news we've got a bear hanging around the house. Sunday, in the middle of the afternoon we discovered a new pile of droppings in the yard. While grabbing the shovel to move it off into the woods my lovely wife thought it might be a big dog. I told her it looked like bear leavings to me. Sure enough, as she tossed the mess down the hill into the woods she startled a young bear. I was surprised to see it wandering around in the middle of the day with so many people around. Someone may be feeding it so that it's become accustomed to people. That rarely ends well . . . for the bear.

The day before a good friend of mine hit a very large black bear with his van. My buddy came out of it fine, but his van was totaled -didn't do the bear any good either. Critters are on the move this time of year so extra caution is called for.

In spite of the bear issues it's looking to be a great summer with the tribe.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Independence Movements

The successful vote for Britain to leave the EU, Brexit, has given new life to other independence movements. It's no surprise that Scotland is putting independence from Britain back on the table. They wanted to stay in the EU. Same goes for Northern Ireland. Those two movements look likely to succeed.

Of course, Texas independence movements are not new, but they do have a catchy new name, Texit. Now I don't want to mess with Texas, but didn't they push really hard to get into the US the last time they were their own nation? Maybe they should get back to their roots . . . as Northern Mexico.

Okay, I'm just having a little fun here, but then I came across this movement, NH Independence. I'm a citizen of NH and this is the first I've ever heard about them. We do have the Free State Movement but they pretty much are working within the system to change it from within. It's difficult to make any broad sweeping statements about what the Free Staters as they are a bunch of independent thinkers who often disagree amongst themselves.

So where does this all end? At some point do we want to split my town apart because we are in two different river valleys? Do we spit across religious lines? Throw out the French Canadian immigrants who've been coming over the border?

I'm trying to put all this into some sort of historical perspective. We've been in a long period where smaller groups have been clumping together to form larger and larger nations. The US was a bunch of young states that ended up forming a powerful Federal system. The EU was a bunch of older countries that formed a different sort of unit, strong in some areas and weak in others.

In more recent years we've had a breaking apart of big collective units. The USSR is no more, broken apart into many states. Even smaller countries have split apart, North and South Sudan, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Canada almost lost Quebec. There are a lot of little independence movements in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa that hardly anyone has heard about but some of them could be successful. In general, we seem to see a trend where people want to form smaller groups.

I can't even start to figure out the situation in China. They've been going against recent trends with the addition of Hong Kong. However, China is in a state of flux and anything can happen there.

The US could stay a nation but with the individual states once again running their own affairs. Federal powers could be severely limited like they were in the early days of the republic.

Things could turn ugly with a bunch of little squabbling nations continually at odds with each other -like the way Europe used to be. The trick is to get the benefits of a close knit group but without the wars.

I'm also a big fan of freedom of movement. In the US people don't even think about it when they drive across state lines. It was getting that way in Europe, until the refugees swarmed over the borders. Now borders are tightening up.

On a personal level I love freedom. That's one reason I still call NH, the “Live Free or Die” state home. I get that people want to go their own way. If we can do it in so that we can avoid the mistakes of the past, I'm all for it. Just how that's to be done, I'm not sure. Maybe we can replace the United Nations with a system that actually works. Little nations in constant war was bad enough. Now that many of them have access to nukes, chemical and biological weapons, it's unacceptable. The human race has got to get its act together.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

What comes next?

Britain voted to leave the EU. The Brexit campaign, against initial expectations, was a success. Now what? It's going to be a tangled mess. The politicians have their work cut out for them: everything from replacing EU laws to negotiating trade deals. Britain will really have to get its trade deals in order quickly. It's an island that lacks the resources to feed itself and produce the raw materials it needs.

It was an interesting vote. London was all for staying in. Scotland was heavily in the stay camp, as was Northern Ireland. I bet Scotland feels angry about not leaving Britain when they had the chance. Who knows, this might be what finally unites Ireland.

Stock markets took a tumble around the world. Let's see what happens on Monday. If after a weekend to contemplate the situation the markets continue to fall, then we have a problem. Right now the reaction is mostly emotional.

There is some speculation that other countries will consider leaving. For that reason the EU may try to make the British exit as painful as possible. At least there's been some talk in that direction. On the other hand, punishing a major trading partner might not be a great idea.

The EU was partly formed to prevent the squabbling between nations that had just produced two world wars. For all its many faults, the EU was successful at reducing barriers between peoples. That's no small accomplishment considering the history of Europe and the diversity of its citizens.

Almost nobody is talking about NATO. Will that alliance also be weakened? Time will tell.

I am surprised that Britain would be the first to leave. I was expecting Greece, but the politicians there do exactly the opposite of what the voters want. Italy, Spain, Portugal -those countries also are having issues so leaving might make sense. The Scandinavian countries may now start to wonder if membership is worth it. Their economies are relatively solid so they will be watching Britain closely to see how it goes.

Of course, I might be getting too “thinky” about the whole thing. From the rhetoric of the final campaign days it appears the vote came down to keeping brown colored refugees out. Finer points about membership were lost in all the noise.


Friday, June 24, 2016

To Market

Thursday was our first local farmer's market of the season. That might sound a bit late to some of my readers. However, since snowfall in May around here is common it takes some real effort to have produce in June. Thanks to greenhouses and hoops houses in in the fields they make it happen.

There's a lot of other locally produced items for sale at the market, not just vegetables. Some purists are offended but I rather like some of the arts and crafts available. For example a local potter has been doing some amazing work. She once made a steam punked themed coffee mug for me. It looked like it was constructed with rivets and washers, but was completely ceramic.

I usually spend a few bucks on locally produced meat. It's not cheap, but I'm willing to pay for humanely raised clean meat. The difference in taste is amazing.

Unfortunately, the local farmer is having a hard time getting help. So far he's had two of his new hires not even show up. One he caught sleeping in the fields . . . three times in one day. The farmer even offered me a job driving the hay truck. I could have started today. He's that desperate. Then again, if I said I'd show up, I'd show up. Apparently that counts for a lot these days.

In spite of my close brush with gainful employment, I really enjoyed the market. My lovely wife and I met up with a lot of people we haven't seen for some time. There was even some really good professional live music. The musician knows I'm a sailor so he played some Jimmy Buffett tunes.

We took the veggie van into town. The diesel tank sending unit started to plug up again. While it takes longer for the unit to plug up, there's still enough grit in the tank to clog the screens. No big deal as the veggie tank is now in good shape and that runs fine. If the weather is good tomorrow I'll flush the grit out of the diesel tank again.

We have some good weather in the forecast so there should be plenty of time for both work and play.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Back from the shadows again!

Yep, as promised, I'm back. The Sixbears household was hopping with lots of family. We had a blast.

Apparently my navy of small boats: sailboats, rowboats, canoes and kayaks weren't enough. One of my daughters brought up three paddle boards. I used to think those things were a fad that wouldn't last. There were already better ways, in my opinion, to travel on the water.

My thoughts have changed somewhat. I still think they aren't really that practical as boats. However, where they is excel is as swim toys. Odds are that paddle boarders eventually go for a swim. That's fine as they are easy to get back back on. Unlike a canoe or a kayak they don't fill up with water. The paddler hops back on and is ready to go. Anything that coaxes people outside, getting exercise and having fun can't be bad.

There is one guy I know who uses a paddle board as a dinghy for his sailboat. He has a small Seaward. The keel can be lifted so it draws very little water, allowing the boat to anchor quite close to shore. It's a very short trip on the paddle board. Personally, I'd rather have my inflatable kayak, but that guy did make it work.

In my spare time I installed shallow bilge keels on the Ooze Goose 12 foot scow. Once the new paint dried the boat was flipped over and loaded on my trailer. Thank goodness it's still light enough for me to load it myself by hand.

Once I flipped it over I notice the deck received some damage over the winter. A little fiberglass work should take of the problem. That can be done the same time the rudder is being built. Also noticed the tips of the oars could benefit from a protective layer of fiberglass.

One of my Father's Day gifts was a rather hefty gift card from West Marine. Some of it was used to replace things lost in the shipwreck. Part of it was also used to purchase a NH State flag to fly on my boat. Even though NH has a tiny coastline, our state flag has a boat on it. Our state motto of “Live Free or Die” would not look out of place on a Jolly Roger, so I'll fly my state flag with pride.

The weather has been uneven. Temperatures were near 90 and sunny. Wednesday it was wet and cool enough that I lit a fire in the kitchen woodstove. That will probably be the last fire for a while as another warming trend is expected. If this turns out to be another long hot summer I'm going to spend as much of it on or in the water as possible.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Family Visit

I've got family staying with me for a couple days. The blog will be right back after.

By the way, had a great Father's Day.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Depressions without depression

During the great Depression times were tough. Most folks endured financial set backs. Some people lost everything. Many people truly suffered.

In spite of the huge monetary losses, a lot of people were actually in pretty good spirits. They may have lost a lot of money, but they still found joy in their hearts. There were those who say that the Depression was a happy time for them.

How is that possible? For those who's families and friends joined forces to help each other there was a “we are all in this together” feeling. Being able to contribute to a group for a good cause creates a lot of satisfaction. Their financial capital was low, but their social capital was high.

My grandmother fed a lot of people during those hard times. She had a huge outdoor kitchen set up in a small barn. Running down the center of the building was a long table made out of old doors and saw horses. She had a huge garden and people would contribute what they could. It was a big deal when relatives came down from Canada with crates of salted fish.

From the tales my grandfather told me, a lot of times those dinners turned into parties. Of course, US Prohibition was still in effect and those Canadian relatives often smuggled a few bottles of booze over the border. That might have helped a lot with the party atmosphere.

A lot of people were just grateful that they were not as bad off as some other people. My grandfather managed to find just enough work to keep his large family fed -a good accomplishment for the times.

If you believe that those days will never come again, then this is just a quaint story about the old days. However, if you think we haven't seen the last of depressions then there are some lessons here.

Just because it's a depression doesn't mean we have to be depressed. Having people to rely on, some level of self-reliance, and good attitude go a long way.