|SKULLTRIPPER: BLOG OF DOUG|
global economic and political issues
NOVEMBER 11, 2017
Answer #3 should scare us all. And even though I am a canadian, it scares me! oooooooooowwwwww!!!! And it's a valid complaint not only in the US but in a lot of other countries as well. And though certainly thousands and probably millions of pieces have been written outlining the problem, mulitiple huge protests have been formed and endless visits to politicians have been endured all over this blue ball hanging in space over nothing, little has changed. A certain tiny wedge of the pie, representing such a miniscule segment of the population as to be physically insignificant, effectively controls the lives of billions of us tiny creatures, causing us to leave our homes early in the morning hours and work throughout the days of our lives, producing the fuel, which is consumed by the aircraft carriers and the jetfighters whose pilots carry out endless destruction in foreign lands for the purpose of enriching the bulging coffers of the rich.
And with all the digibich that's been done, can we point to any improvement? I think we can! Imagine for a second, if no one complained, if wikileaks had never been formed, Snowden hadn't spoken, if the money crowd had been given free unrestrained control with no accountability whatsoever? How much farther down the destructive road might we now be?
Journalists have sacrificed their very lives bringing the darkest secrets to the broad light of day. Should we forget them on Remembrance Day? Should we only celebrate the lives lost in the pursuit of perpetual warfare and forget those who have lost their lives trying to prevent it or bring it to an end?
Might it be a good day to remember Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Ghandi and so many others who gave their all in the pursuit of peace?
Is this another article condemning the rich and the powerful and offering jackcrap for solutions? I don't mean it to be. I think the solutions lie within ourselves. The butcher, baker and candlestick makers of this world, all those who feel powerless to change the situation, who are caught in the web of the powerful and have no time or energy left to fight the system. What was it exactly that propelled ordinary people to fight and kick at the darkness til it bled daylight? Wasn't it simply that they reached a point in life of simply not caring about protecting themselves and their comfortable ways of life, a point at which they decided that they simply had to fulfill the purpose for which they were born? They could have taken the easy road, like so many of us disgracefully do. Shh! Don't say that in public! Keep quiet and just do your job. That's none of your business. Just keep that to yourself! Why bring trouble on yourself and your *gasp* children?
No. They decided to abandon caution, to challenge what they knew to be false and evil, to correct ancient wrongs. They risked and risk charges of insanity, lack of patriotism, recklessness and even hostility. They endured opposition such as most of us will never realize exists, and the closer to the prize they got the worse the persecutions became, many times involving inprisonment and torture, even death. And there's no Remembrance Day for them, although they are not forgotten. Sadly though, most of the corruption they fought so bravely lives on. And the reason is they were mainly abandoned and even opposed by those who could have stood and fought with them and overcome! Those who have the courage and desire to fight the wicked are precious, few and far between.
It is ridiculous in the extreme, ludicrous and perhaps obscene to see the great mass of people allowing a microscopically tiny group of individuals control the money supply for their own profit, alter the laws of the land to legalize the vilest of crimes, to protect their own from any and all legal recourse, regardless of the gravity of their crimes. Why do we allow this to go on and on, costing us the very lives of our youngest and brightest and best?
Protests have been tried. But the reality is the normal bloke on the street doesnt have six months to protest. Practical matters of survival soon take effect and the crowd disperses and business goes on as usual. All they have to do is wait us out.
Letter writing campaigns to politicians have been tried. But, come on, logically if youre a pol and a letter hits your desk with no check enclosed and a billionaire makes an opposite appeal and includes a bit of cabbage with the request, who will tempt your attention the most?
A petition? Oh no! Not A petition!!! Again, a petition is just a piece of paper, and it may raise an eyebrow, but ultimately the general population in taxpayer hell is going to bow to the force of authority and the fear of punishment and death as they always do, and they know it.
What gives the powerful their control? Currency. Their legal ability and right to print currency is what gives the owners of the central banks their authority over us all. And to take the point a bit further, really their power lies in our own minds, in our own ascribing of value to those little numbers on the teller's screen and the rectangular bits of parchment and now even plastic which we hold so dear, spending most of our waking hours pursuing! Who controls the creation of currency rules over us all. But, currency itself was invented as a mere convenience, to eliminate the hauling of cows and duck to the city to exchange for wheels for the wagon. Can we live without the convenience of currency? Of course we can!
Barter, the simple act of trading goods for goods, worked for thousands of years and it works today as well. Nations engage in it and so do individuals, sometimes bypassing all the troubling numbers on the screen. We should be doing more and more of this, not less! What is it about bringing home the paper and exchanging that for avocados that makes the deal so much more enjoyable than simply making a trade, goods for goods?
Another huge barrier to changing the status quo, and maybe the only real one though is
the belief in, the almost worship of the state as a real physical Being who cares and provides for us all, caring for us as a loving mother would from cradle to coffin. The illusion of the state is a comforting apealling one to many of us, and it is an illusion, because the State produces absolutely nothing any of us can eat, sit upon or wear! All it can ever do is rob peter to pay Paul, and the vast majority are quite willing to settle for being Paul and have their needs met at the expense of those filthy souls who soil their hands at the plow and the oil derrick. This is the real problem and gives the state it's perpetual power. As long as the population is provided for at a minimal level of sustenance, who is going to be fool enough to rebel? A comfortable couch, a tv, some beer in the fridge and a game to look forward to on the weekend and what more do we require? So in the minds of many, why change, why complain, why fight a system like that? To many, this is a valid argument. And when one considers the dire straights people in other countries endure, it is tempting to simply drop the keyboard and coast sleepily through life with the crowd.
And if, if... this situation would continue in its present state, it might not be worth the effort of opposing the system now in place in canada, for instance. However, one glance at any chart of canada's economic situation will quickly reveal the waterfall ahead. And we can continue to believe that somehow, ignoring the situation of our trillion dollar debt load will make it go away, but using basic logic, it's pretty clear that those we owe this gargantuan sum to will eventually demand, not request, repayment. Another glance toward Greece or Venezuela, should be enough to convince that every socialist utopia has an expiry date.
Weellll, as for me, I don't owe much of anything, except the continuing debt to love one another, and i've pretty much given up on inspiring my fellow Canadians to rebel. It'g going to have to get a lot more uncomfortable in this country before more than a couple gophers in Saskatchewan are going to organize to fight tyranny. In the meantime, maybe you might consider learning to produce the goods you consume, find some like-minded individuals, if you can, and form local systems of barter and realize, deep down inside, that the fool's paradise we now occupy cannot possibly continue for very much longer.
Thanks for reading and happy bartering!
Like a lot of us these days, my mind has been working a lot on the problem of hatred. One thing i've discovered in my travels through this world, is that hatred can reveal an awful lot about a person. The things i hate in my own life, are the opposite of the things i love! So, when you want to get to know yourself or any person, the quickest way to discover what they love is to find out what they hate!
For whatever reason, people don't readily go around talking all that much about the things or especially the people they love. Probably because it exposes their vulnerabilities. It makes them feel weak and exposed. The same applies to hatred but i think most folks will tell you quite quickly what or who they hate. And from this, it's a short leap to know what they most love.. the exact opposite!
Let's use myself for an example. I absolutely hate and abhor bullying, any violence, emotional, physical or spiritual carried out against a weaker individual who is helpless to defend himself makes my blood boil and when several or many gang up on one, i feel the anger much more strongly. Perhaps because i've experienced being on the receiving end a few times, i feel a certain connection with the victim and feel the pain along with him.
This of course, gives my soul away right there. What do i love? I love to see people helping each other. And the darker the world becomes the brighter shines this light. It really is beautiful to see images of people risking their own lives and resources to make someone's life a little happier, doesn't it?
But the whole question of what love actually is...
Most have heard about the 50 words the eskimo have for snow. It has so many different appearances and because its so prevalent in the far north, people found just the one word insufficient and developed many different expressions for the variations they saw.
Why haven't we done the same thing with"love"?
We love ice cream on pie and we love the ones we hold most dear. We love it when it rains after a long drought and we love it when our favorite song comes on the radio. We love to see a baby take his first stumbling uncertain steps and we love it when our favorite enemy goes bankrupt. And really, there are a lot f times when the word "love" just doesn't cut it. The greatest love is just love, same word.
Aaand on the other side of the river what set of circumstances drives an individual to inflict indescribable pain on others? Does a mass murderer just wake up in the morning with a sudden urge to kill a pile of people he has never met in his entire life? Or is it a feeling that builds over decades based on his own unique set of circumstances? No doubt the driver is different in every case. Jealousy in one. Arrogant disdain in another. Revenge, vengeance. Ugly emotions for sure and the opposite of whatever definition of love you care to use.
Several times in life I've felt the green eyed monster glaring out of my own baby blues. And i've discovered a solution which worked so well, i continue to use it as needed. I simply consider how nice it must be for the person i envy and rather than focus on myself and how pitiful it is that i don't have what this person has, I get myself to the point where i'm genuinely happy for them! You can't be happy for someone and jealous of them at the same time. Not possible. It's one or the other, brother!
Some few ultra rare couples fall in love with each other, and at the same time, and this must be the greatest thing to experience in this life. We all know it's rare. It's as if some of us are marked for despair and spend our lives hoping it will happen to us, only to be repeatedly disappointed. It's a rare treat given to a rare few, without any guarantee on either side even then. Maybe one falls out of love or a rival catches their eye, or one of them dies or meets some tragedy which separates them forever. Or the daily grind of life and it's inevitable problems wears at the feeling until one or both gives up in despair. Or even turns into the ugliest of results, with one of them taking the life of the other!
Someone once said, "hatred lies quite close to love". Maybe that is true. "Something to ponder" anyway, isn't it? Is it possible that our loves and our hates are not so very far apart? Would you be loved, hated or treated with absolute indifference? At least hatred is interactive while indifference sits there, unamused, uninterested, detached, aloof. And if you've ever had the experience of being deeply in love to the point of obsession with someone only to have them treat you with disaffected scorn, you know there is no worse outcome possible.
From my own experience when i was much younger, there were times i allowed my hatred of certain individuals to control my mind for way too long. And what i learned from the experience is that i really didn't care for the feeling of being in hate with someone. The stomach tightens when you think of them, sometimes almost to the point of being painful. Excellent food has no taste, the sunshine doesn't feel warm, no adventure is any fun, and life is a pale grey as the mind works on resolving the hatred you feel. Gossip fails to satisfy and I can see how thoughts of causing physical harm could come unbidden to the hate-filled mind. Have to turn that one around right there and show it the door!
One teacher suggested the outrageous solution of "loving our enemies and doing good to those who hate us>" Any national leader who made this his foreign policy would be at first laughed to scorn! But has it ever really been tried? On a personal level I have, and in my experience as the recipient of a lot of unkind behavior, doing good to the person seemed to have no effect on her feelings for me. What it did at my end, though was it made me feel a whole lot better about myself than if i had reacted with violence. And maybe best of all, it kept me out of jail and a life-long feeling of despair and regret!
Got some peaches and cream and some eggs at the store and went to the counter to pay. There was this trucker there ahead of me and his perfume must have been essence of pig farmer/sewage technician/I haven't had a bath in forty years!
His aroma filled the front part of the store. It was probably the worst thing I have ever smelled in my life and I have smelled liquified dead hog and dog's who roll around in that, soaking their fur, horse manure (which I kind of like), and horrible rancid underwear (sometimes my own)
He weighed 200 kg if not more. I don't mean to mock the poor guy just describe the odious qualities of the man.
I came near to vomiting and hours later I still had it intact in my mind. I think it was on my clothing as well.
Back home it was all over me still. It took all the enjoyment out of eating the peaches and cream with sugar.
I should have immediately left the store without the peaches. If this man ever had a bath all the fish downriver and every living thing including birds passing overhead would immediately die.
What a walking reminder he is to everyone to change their underwear!
And the weirdest thing is that he is oblivious to his "sphere of influence" extending miles around him in every direction including up! How is this possible??
And Imagine the inside of his truck! His Rolling Accommodation. I sincerely pity any hitchiker he picks up or any mechanic unfortunate enough to have to repair his truck!
I should have had the human decency to tell him, "Sir, you are the worst-smelling object I have met in my life! But all I could think of was putting as much distance between myself and "the source" as humanly possible.
Perhaps no one ever told him but how is this possible? That a man could be that filthy and no one ever hints at it? Yet surely there are clues! You walk into a restaurant and patrons immediately flee and cleaning companies for miles around drop whatever they are doing and dart for the place the moment you walk out the door?
And just imagine his social life, everyone fleeing the moment you appear. What must he think of people when Everywhere you go you see people doubling over, gagging and vomiting! And still it doesn't cross your mind. "Maybe I should grab a shower. It's been forty years"?
We hear this word a heluvalot these days. It is as if equality was the perfect moral target held high in our day. What do we strive for, people? Equality! Equality!
Should we perhaps consider the meaning of the word before setting it on display with full regalia as our national dream?
Are we talking about everyone weighing the same amount, which could certainly not be done without some nasty surgeries taking place, perhaps in some cases even fatal surgeries?
Are we talking about gender equality? Also cannot be done without surgery.
So then, is it financial equality as in totalitarian socialism? In that case I'd venture a wild guess that those beneath the average would want this and those above probably not, so some struggle would be required to achieve this new utopia, probably, again, involving some level of surgery and bloodshed.
Perhaps "fairness" would be a better word then? And if this is the real moral principle we're after, let's go for it, for who could possibly be against fairness??
Now then, let's discuss fairness-equality thingy. I'm picturing a Canadian 26 year old, slightly plump waitress, whose boyfriend left her when she suddenly became pregnant with twins and would not "terminate the pregnancy" "for the sake of the children". She works nine hours including the walks to deliver and collect her kids from the daycare and pays 30 percent combined federal and provincial tax on her minimum wage income, Gst on most everything she buys, even Gst on the stamps she buys for the postcards she sends to her mom in Hungary.
Ok, so I made this poor Hungarian woman up in my head. Yet millions of such parents exist and the fruit of their tiring physical labour is being confiscated whilst this is being typed so that failing banking conglomerates and failed businesses can be bailed and failed politicians can receive their generous severance packages and their gilded indexed pensions continue to flow unimpeded.
In realities harsh light then, how dare any politician in Canada mouth the word "equality" as if we had made even the slightest awkward stumbling step towards it?
On another level, we fail on "equality" when we confiscate, (steal, take by force) a working person's property and dish it out to the one who refuses to work. What exactly is fair about that? Should the satellite dish game show expert receive the same benefit as the rig-hand who rolls out of bed at 4 AM and puts in 16 hours in the -40C temperature of northern Alberta? If you can answer "yes" to that, you just might be a liberal!
Maybe it's time to put this word "equality", finally to bed then. Let it toss and turn there, forever fretting fitfully about how to make things more equal in a grotesquely unequal world. How to build millions of identical houses for millions of identical same-gendered equal people who don't exist anywhere, whatsoever. Isn't it the differences between us that make life interesting and entertaining, after all?
Ho hum. Another day. Another terrorist attack. And while the assault we endure in the Yukon every summer by the tourorists goes on with very little in the way of physical carnage the terrorists increase the level of mayhem in the world at large, today in the form of a van allegedly running people down on the London Bridge in London.
When will it end? Why are these multiple "extremists" so very unhappy? These men surely must realize their lives may quite suddenly end during or after the event of the attack. They could simply go to the nearest pub instead and enjoy a fish and chips with ale, but instead... this is happening.
How to understand what goes on inside the mind of someone who makes a decision such as this? Perhaps for a start, we might want to imagine how we would react to a country which continually profits from bombing our own civilians, killing our wives and brothers and children at will from the comfort of the cockpit of a jetfighter. To us, then, on the ground in Aleppo the dead piling up around us are not "terrorists" but relatives, friends, acquaintances. People we've known and respected all of our lives.
And so, from that perspective it shouldn't be so very difficult to see why many of these people are hellbent on revenge. But as understandable as their anger may be, I kind of like my kids and don't really want my guts spread out underneath a car either.. The larger question, the question we all face today is what are we going to do about it?
Many in the west are willing to accommodate people who are truly, desperately in need, maybe even going beyond tolerance to the realm of helping them! Their hearts go out to families who have lost everything they ever valued, who arrive with nothing and face the insurmountable hurdle of earning a living in a land which is completely foreign to them, whose culture is unlearnable, whose ways and customs are beyond understanding. Imagine arriving in Saudi with nothing, crawling up the beach from the sea and beginning a new life in Abu Dabai, white as a seagull and with every eye suspicious of your intentions.
But again, what should be done? The situation, if these attacks are real, and not faked to get the public to support the war-profiteers, appears to be quickly spiraling out of control. With the situation becoming evermore desperate, something needs to happen to prevent a massive public physical backlash against any and all migrants, the vast majority of whom clearly want nothing to do with violence or they wouldn't have made the treacherous trip to escape it in their own homelands!
We could, perhaps, restrict entrance to children under six and women over 60, leaving the most likely age group for a terrorist attack to find another destination. Of course, the unfairness of this for all those who do not fit the safe profile would be an awful injustice, but the benefits might outweigh the costs of such a decision. As a parent myself, the thought of my own children being able to have a chance at a peaceful life would very likely over-shadow my own desire for safety, so i could imagine accepting the reality that this new land fears me enough to keep me out while accepting my young children, and the aged, the most at-risk people, after all.
And yes, of course, this is raw discrimination at its finest. But don't we all 'discriminate' every time we shop? Whatever we choose to accept results in an automatic rejection of something or someone else. And to repeat myself yet again, the situation does appear desperate enough to demand a desperate solution. A desperate solution to prevent a much worse scenario than the one we are today experiencing. A crazy idea? Your call. (And no worries. i have a lot more!)
That famous and amazing scene in the Monty Python classic, "Holy Grail" explores the issue of authority, its origins and likely outcome.
Now if I were to claim ultimate authority over a tract of wilderness due to the fact that i had adopted a unique uniform and a commanding viewpoint and a booming voice, it might be possible to cowe someone into obedience to this "authority" of mine. In fact, i was once told in a children's camp to act like i was in authority and the people would obey me, which i found to my astonishment to be absolutely true!
As many others have pointed out, we are all indoctrinated from our youngest days to respect "authority" and bow in obedience to it. Doubt this? Next time you're in a crowd, speak in a commanding tone and order the people around you to line up in this or that fashion, and watch them hasten to comply. (But you're on your own with this one, because i have no idea what you may order, to whom you give your instruction and what the recipients of your commands will choose to do!)
Obedience is actually quite an interesting human phenomonen and really makes you wonder what the reason might be for this built-in propensity to carry out the will of another perceived to be in authority.
And of course, as with anything in our world, there are those who will exploit this human tendency for their own purposes. Some of the worst of the worst, must have severely soiled themselves laughing in private at their underlings willingness to obey their commands, even stacking authority in ever-increasing layers for their own amusement, demanding the most ridiculous services for little or no personal reward, except to laugh at the stupidity of those beneath their command.
And, naturally enough, others have orchestrated mass murders in the millions of people. Estimates seem to range between 60 and 80 million people murdered under Mao Tse Tung's roguish command, during peacetimes! Quite a sick accomplishment to be sure! And an indication that maybe we should rethink obedience a bit! It was the obedient after all who carried out these murders! Ever thought of disobedience as being a virue? There are times it certainly is! A new thought? That's too bad and indicates a real bad case of control compliance inside of your own brain.
What if there was a ground-swell of disobedience to evil commands? A lot of things could be made right in a hurry!
I'm obviously not talking about disobedience for its own sake but a willingness to say "no" to commands which one finds morally reprehensible. We all need to give a lot of thought to this: blind obedience to any and all commands is definitely not a virtue, nor is glibly accepting the authority of another without questioning the source and value of that authority.
It may cost an individual everything he holds dear to stand up to evil. And counting on the support of friends and family in such a case is not wise. Expect if you take such a stand, to lose whatever you hold dear, but expect at the same time to gain a great level of self-respect and dignity in a decaying society. A self-respect that cannot be taken from you, even in death. A self-respect not gained by the compliant mass of men.
You're ten years old and sitting at your desk, wishing with all your heart you were anywhere but in the most boring language arts lecture to which a human has ever been subjected
You risk a glance out the one small window and notice some tall grass blowing in the breeze. Your mind drifts out, away from the wretched indoctrination centre and over the open prairie to the sea. An island, a Sandy island with pirates all about. Pirates with shovels burying a large wooden crate filled with what?
Plastic Canadian 20 dollar bills with Queen Elizabeth in her finery?
Not bloody likely!
No, it's filled with jewels of course, and silver and gold, silly! If it were full of plastic bills in a few years they'd all be worthless because of govt-driven inflation, and what real pirate doesn't know how that scam works?
And that's the point I want to make! How is it possible that a one ounce silver coin can be had for 20 bucks and a cup of coffee? Hasn't every kid dreamed of finding a chest full of silver and gold coins? And yet we deposit digital currency in the bank where inflation immediately begins eroding it's buying power. Worse, should cash be declared illegal, (as certain notes notes were recently in india) your stack of Queen Elizabeth's between the mattresses would not even make good toilet paper!
Why is silver so cheap? Is it because there is tons of "paper silver" out there? So much so that if everyone determined to collect the physical silver at once there would be a LOT of disappointed faces in the room!!
No matter what happens to paper money, property titles, silver certificates and all paper claims on any sort of wealth, physical silver or gold should always have real intrinsic worth, all the more so as it is being consumed in jewelry and electronics as a super-conductor.
Old Chinese proverb I just made up: Ten-year-old not so dumb! Maybe should listen to him!
Since returning to the Yukon in '98 I have, with one exception, provided the firewood for the local campground every summer..
At the beginning, the work was done on a handshake; make wood, submit the bill and we're done. It worked well. It's a bit different now!
This year In order for me to deliver dead wood to my local campground here is what is required:
- 2 million of commercial liability insurance
- Workmens Compensation (even if self-employed)
- Valid business license
- Proof the dead wood is cut legally and all fees and stumpage have been paid
- Even if the dead wood comes from outside the yukon, proof the wood is legally cut is required
- You must bring a large amount of dead wood almost immediately but cannot start too soon or deliver between 9pm and 9am.
-(nope, still not done.) You will also need an import stamp from Energy Mines and Resources
- A 4 car garage, red rubber boots and 6 Caucasian kids who never steal (ok I made that last one up)
- Next you must bid lower than anyone else to get the contract. Done all that? Now get to work!
This is in order for me to haul firewood ten miles from my yard the local campground. Now without speculating on who might behind this legal shmoozle, it is a fact that tweeking the law to benefit large contractors is a well-known tactic in the oil industry.
And what these exciting new rules ultimately achieve is this: By squeezing out the hippies with the old Fords and the babies crying in the kitchen, there's nothing to stop a big company from charging $800 a cord.
But why should you care? Because all you hippies with the old fords end up paying these bloated bills through higher taxation which is rather "unequal", I would say. Another name for this craziness is "fascism", (the unholy union of business and government) and it has all but destroyed this resource-rich country by driving us all into unrepayable debt.
But Im not all that upset. This is how this world spins and I can occupy my spare time doing something much more interesting. However, you may be impacted when you go off to your fav campground in a few years for a weekend outing and find firewood is not free anymore. If this should happen, you will know the reason. It became too expensive because of fascism, the unholy marriage of business and government. You're welcome.
Now in fairness, it is hard to argue with the basic premise that the one who can provide the service to the public in the most cost-effective manner should be the one to do the work. Could this principle be carried over to the the public sector? Should federal employees have to provide evidence of compliance with all requirements as well as bid for their public positions? I don't know.
Stepping a bit farther back and viewing the globe from a distance you would see that what i have just described is but a microcosm of what is going on all over the globe. Business has embedded in government to such a depth that the two have become inseparable like an extremely old couple, deeply in love. It isn't a problem for those reaping the rewards but it sure is for the rest of us. Ultimately we all become slaves to ever-increasing government debt, owed to central banks which are privately owned. We don't really notice or complain when taxes are added to our restaurant tab or the price at the pump seems a bit high or, or, or.... But the reality is that really what is being unjustly extracted from us is our time, the time it takes us to earn the money to replace what has been "extracted" by force.
The source of the problem is our currency and that is where the solution lies. In avoiding the use of it wherever possible. We need to re-learn the ancient art of barter and provide as much as we can by our own work. Alternatively, we could just prepare to live a much more humble life in the future as more and more time is extracted from us and our grandchildren by force to feed the global debt machine.
Switzerland: cheese, chocolate, mountains and money; all of these are there in great profusion, but on my second visit I found a few more things!
I've come to the conclusion after 20 years in the yukon that November through the first half of January are the months to leave to the wolves and the mouth-breathing lunatics who willingly stay without considering their options.
And so when the opportunity came to spend 6 weeks in "the island without oceans" I didn't hesitate, nor was I disappointed! What switzerland lacks in sharks and starfish it more than compensates for in splendid scenery, hiking trails everywhere, excellent food, friendly people, skiing and hockey
If you choose to pay the Swiss a visit, bring money. My first small cup of Starbucks pike (and last) cost right around $7 Canadian! However, there is no cause to panic because with a little effort, deals like good quality bakery bread for a couple of francs can easily be found.
This is a partial list of what my friend and I did in the region of Biel, near the French border:
We attended a hockey game with 17000 fans, most of them standing shoulder to shoulder thru the entire game, and yes there was yelling.
We hiked up to the "Grand Canyon of Switzerland, the great Creaux de Van and took too many pictures of the cliff and the "Ibex" or "Steinbok" which dwell there. We camped up there on new years eve and enjoyed a birds eye view of the fireworks in the countryside below.
We hiked three canyons near Biel, we pedalled around Biel lake one afternoon, about a 40 km jaunt, good for me!
We visited Lucerne, Bern, Zurich and Interlaken, all enjoyable and interesting places to visit. And of course, we visited Eigar, Jungfrau and saw some skiiing but way too much fog to see the mountains! These things happen in January sometimes... I was repeatedly told that January is not the best time to visit Switzerland, but if it is the worst, it is still not all that bad!
The political system operates quite differently from our "choose your dictator" for the next four years nonsense, with seven people ruling the country rather than just one. The other major difference is that every expense over a certain threshold triggers a referendum, and although this can slow decisions, it is also an effective way of preventing authoritarian rulers from running in ways contrary to the public good. We would benefit from such a system here in the west!
My general impression is that the Swiss have things well under control with a high quality of life. In six weeks I don't recall seeing a single homeless person. If they are, it is only because they choose to be. Probably as a consequence, crimes occur only sporadically; the streets, trains, buses and buildings seem well-maintained, and the people I met were polite, friendly and helpful. I very much enjoyed my time in S'land and definitely intend to return!
We sit near the window, in a parisian city bus, taking in the sights and sounds as the bus waits for a light at an intersection. I watch with interest as a lady with a can of soap approaches a stopped car, blowing kisses to announce her love for all. Unbidden, she slops soap and water over half the drivers windshield, totally obscuring his view. Irritated, he gestures she should leave but she continues in her mission, even after the wipers are activated. Clearly, it's a ploy to garner a little cash, though likely ineffective in this case, though it obviously works occasionally and is probably more effective than merely appealing to random stranger sympathy, thin soup at best..
My visit to Paris was different this time. The first time I saw it was in th 80s and we visited mainly the tourist spots. I was impressed with Napoleans exploits and also his fantastic tomb. The tower never fails to impress although the rudeness of the girl selling confections who made it clear she was not a fan of english-speaking men lingers. Notre Dame, the Louvre, Versailles and a trip on the Seine were all enjoyable but what struck me the most at the time was the War Museum. Powerful, stirring images of the tragedy of war still affect me, prompting me to do my bit to prevent a repeat if at all possible.
This time we made our way to Gare' Est and stayed in the Killiad Hotel. The room was clean and well done. The building a relic from centuries past. A great marriage of past and present. We travelled in the vicinity of this "gare" or train station over the next few days discovering an excellent crepery with my friends name, "Lulu" painted on the glass of the front door. And we visited what could be called "little India" where I had a taste of being in the minority and where cries of "Marlboro! Marlboro!" pinpointed sources of the local favourite smoke. I felt no particular fear in this crowded foreign market and in fact saw mostly only faces eager to return my smile or engage in conversation, even if it was only to sell me a belt or a cellphone.
And we found, after some searching, an access point for the old abandoned railroad which encircles Paris. We spent a little time there, photographing the amazing grafitti in surrounding buildings and stone walls. I found the little spots where homeless people had "camped" particularly sad and wouldnt have been surprised in the slightest to find a cadaver wrapped in a plastic sheet, curled up in a forgotten inset in the concrete tunnels the traintrack ran through.
I expected to find more desperate refugees in paris and may have, had we travelled through the right spots in the city. However, about the worst example was an Arabic woman with two children begging in a subway station transfer point. It was heartening to see a man returning with a supply of food and drink for the woman and her kids. However, I was warned that some of these are setups to defraud with men running the beggars almost like prostitution rings...possible I suppose but wht to do? Seems best to provide real goods rather than cash, for this reason and also to prevent possible substance abuse.
Paris: friendly faces, reasonable prices, interesting architecture, and great crepes!
Well, just let me say I've definitely taken the road less travelled. From a farmkid in Saskatchewan to commercial fisherman, welder, machinist, log builder, wilderness tourism guide, Ive got a wealth of memories but still often manage to forget some pretty basic things! I currently operate a fishing charter/canoe trip business in the southern yukon. Check my site! http://www.nisutlinoutfitting.com Oh and by the way, opi