Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Back to School (Boat School)

 One of my least favorite reminders of how little I know about boats is having the bilge pump engage, and then seeing an artsy, paisley or tye-dyed looking sheen spread across the water on account of a bit of petroleum being where it shouldn't. Culprits include engine oil, hydraulic fluid, transmission fluid and, most recently, diesel fuel, which creates a particularly vibrant, rainbow colored patch of shame. 

The shame is on account of me often not feeling confident about diagnosing these things. The whole nether side of both my vessels are dark, cramped greasy messes, so why shouldn't there be oily discharge when the pump kicks on?

To make matters worse, yesterday's embarrassment occurred at the lobster car, which could have contaminated lobsters floating there awaiting a trip to town. Fortunately, there weren't any crates and I took off pretty much as soon as I realized what was happening. 

Unlike some hazmat spills, this one looked fresh. Sometimes, it's just a nasty bit of broth that looks as though it's been marinading some while. Yesterday, it looked brandy new and alarming. 

Back on the mooring, I started with what, to me were the obvious possible culprits, the injection pump and fuel lines that cross under the motor to the filter. Wiping things down showed nothing. Rubber fuel lines running aft into terra incognito looked dry and in perfect condition. 

Already exhausted and knowing I still had an hour of hard labor trucking traps home, I gave up, promising myself I'd stew about it overnight. Promise kept. 

I found the problem by accident. The day was chilly and gray and the very last place I wanted to be was under the deck in a tiny cramped space with the enhanced feature of a significant puddle of cold and filthy liquid. I chose to treat myself to pumping and sponging out the puddles before laying down in them. The starboard side gave up nothing but dirty water. 

As soon as the first chuff came out of the hand pump into my bucket on the port side, I was onto something. The sponge agreed with the pump that we were definitely on the right track. 

The problem was that the right track led into an impenetrable appearing space blocked by frame pieces, a large exhaust elbow, raw water hoses and other dubious nubs and protrusions. 

I decided to try the easier way first. Into the big hatch on the deck, sit/lay down on the propeller shaft and shine a light toward the spare fuel tank. Nothing obvious presented itself, so, still nips-up, I wiggled and twisted my head and shoulders partway through an opening aft and learned no more, except to not try to go in there again. 

On to the less easy way. The forward hatch where I discovered the diesel infused water is too small to just get into. It's square and one my size needs to go legs first, then sort of corkscrew in enough to pull upper body and head in in order to lay down. Then it's a matter of twisting, pushing and pulling around the various obstacles and taking a break now and again to ponder whether I can get out again to reach the spare fuel tank. 

When I reached the spare tank, I had the sweet rush of 'yes, that's it,' when seeing the fresh fuel pooling underneath. The top was shiny as was the side below. With some confidence, I came up with a plan to empty the tank and clean up the mess. I never use it, it makes the boat list and any repair to the inaccessible fixture would require ripping up the deck. After I got out, the sweet rush of 'yes that's it' faded into a 'what if it isn't?' born of misdiagnosing things in the past. I repeated the journey, this time much more quickly and pretty sure if I got out once, I could again. 'Yes that's it' and 'what if it isn't?' then agreed to a stalemate where 'it's what I can come up with and seems pretty likely.' 

I've pumped fuel into tanks many times, but not out, so some equipment would be necessary. After showering off most of the accumulated petroleum residue, sludge and fiberglass fragments picked up in my burrowing, I grabbed a couple of 55 gallon barrels Jeb had rigged up so they could be hoisted, my hand operated fuel pump and a good slug of detergent. 

A couple more hours of pumping, hoisting, trucking and general jackassery and I have an empty-ish spare tank which hopefully, sooner or later, will stop leaking, the boat isn't listing any more and we have fuel for the hot water heater for the foreseeable future. And soreness. 

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Graduation and Father's Day

 The week leading up to graduation day was not as it should be. In between work schedules, trying to get the fishing business into the water for the year and general hustle, what was lacking was any sense of excitement or pride for my son. In its place were immersive levels of grief and regret. Grief for the last of my babies leaving the nest. Regret for all I didn't do for them. 

I've been down the empty nest grief road twice before. We're all so busy keeping balls or knives in the air and racing from event to event that we don't see it coming. The emptiness slaps the face and echoes off bare walls. 

The actual graduation day was of course, joyful as it should be. The weather was perfect- sunny and hot- right up to 3:50 p.m. when the skies let loose and we scurried into the suffocation of a way-past-firecode gymnasium. My child walked across the stage, took their diploma and smiled the 'goodbye assholes' smile. We had a good party while waiting for the electricity to come back on.

The school had not been a good fit for them. This 4 year revelation process occurred after 6 years of post-divorce strife and constant financial panic. I was acutely aware that week, not of everything I'd done and fought for on their behalf, but of all of their suffering and my ineffectuality in making it better. 

When the 3 were little, I felt I knew my place in the world, my strength and nurturing, my value as a person. Perhaps for that reason, I got stuck. Very stuck. Stuck in wanting their 3, 5 or 12 year old selves and my life during that time to come back. It's of course irrational, but extremely powerful. A faded plastic toy half buried in the grass where it had been dropped a dozen years ago would bring on the flood, because to me it was last week. The colors were still bright; the sounds of play still so immediate. The small hand in mine warm and innocent.

Getting unstuck hurts like a motherfucker. And it's messy. 

The week after graduation started hopefully, with them and I sitting down on a miserable chilly Saturday afternoon to nail down a loan for freshman year. I thought co-signing was a check-off. I thought I was not the guy of 11 years ago in the midst of a financial meltdown. I'd relentlessly busted ass and somehow made a little something of myself. Well, the good folks and software at Campus Door did not share my improved self image. 

On the happier side, the 2 younger offspring came out to the island to hang in their childhood home and help with setting lobster gear. The moment they stepped off the ferry, their demeanors changed instantly. As was always the case, when they stepped in the door at 33 South Road, the weight and tension melted off them. A little later, one was quietly upstairs and the other was asleep by the wood stove. 

As healing as it felt and as happy as I was to have them home, I knew something was coming. I knew I couldn't stay in the warm pool of nostalgia with them. 

At the end of the week the three of us drove into the mountains for a couple of days of celebratory hiking and pool lounging. 

On the last night after a minor conflict, I wandered over to the motel playground. This was a portal to motherfuckering painful personal growth. The colors of the slide and swings were bright. It was empty. Grass grew long up through it. My babies were not going to come running and bickering and demanding pushes. They would not push and shove up the ladder to come down the slide. Still in some part of me, I waited. I was a ghost only now coming to realize it and finally seeing the long grass as it got dark. 

It took several more days to work through.

My adult children are amazing and I'm lucky to be part of their lives. It's a good time to move on.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Can We Turn Down the Contrast? I and II


Thursday, 8:30 a.m.. I'm in the office, surrounded by files, computer screens, the smell of paper and books. The drenching outside is of no concern. The office is dry and well protected from the elements. The same insulation from the forces of nature that will be driving me batshite next March is just fine right now.

But...My pants are quite dirty. This doesn't fit with the rest of the professional picture one should present to clients. 

24 hours earlier, I had a front row seat to the nature show. My hair peeled back, eyes watering, standing while also swinging through many degrees off vertical on the deck of Compass Rose. Taking lobstering gear up for the season is always a tough part of a tough work cycle. Traps get untied and the rope coiled and bound up. Traps get cleaned of sea life, stacked on the boat, stacked on the wharf, stacked on the truck and then stacked in the yard. The process is often done in less than benign weather and less than ideal timing of tides. 

Wednesday, the forecast was for 10-15 knots gusting to 20 out of the northwest. Not fun, but with a few strings of gear to the southeast of the island, I should've been sheltered enough to haul, coil, clean, stack and head for the Steamboat Wharf. 

The 'should've' turned out to be 'wasn't.' Wind was ripping straight down from the northeast against an incoming tide, creating steep choppy whitecaps. They were not quite greybeards, but whitecaps. 

By the time I'd wrestled one pair aboard, I'd slid so far downwind that the next dayglo orange and blue buoy was barely visible in the distance. Trying to haul the next pair, the rope was nearly horizontal, with the boat being dragged downwind sideways, so I also had to start running the boat in and out of gear to stay on top of the pair while running the hydraulic hauler and coiling the incoming rope. I was about 4 arms shy of being able to do this effectively. 

Finishing one string out of the 3 I'd planned to take up seemed like plenty. It felt unsafe and irresponsible to continue. So I did. What made it ok was that the next string was just enough out of the rapid tide flow that the wind didn't kick up the waves quite so much, and slacked up just slightly. That second string was just work, just a matter of doing my job, which was baffling given how close the sets were to each other. The final string was a mix of the first two, but I just hauled the last couple of pairs aboard and headed for a sheltered spot to clean them up and coil the rope. 

During all of the 'what the F am I doing in this shit?!' I noted a most unwelcome rainbow slick from the bilge spreading on the water. After all the fun of taking up the load of gear and getting it onto the wharf, I wound up cramming myself into the space below deck to try and locate the source of the petroleum spooge on the water. That space is small and one cannot come out without having picked up a good slug of  slimy under the deck water/grease/algae. I was a few pounds heavy after that, and didn't really find anything. 

When I flew off Matinicus that Wednesday afternoon, it was sunny with a very gentle breeze. I was taking off a batch of lobsters for Joe in my building, which explains my dirty pants the next morning. 

Since Joe couldn't take the lobsters until Friday,  I needed to find a place to float a crate so they stayed perky. This ended up being Round Pond harbor where I lugged the crate to the public float and tied it off out of the way before heading to the office. My attire was not really suited to such tasks, so the dirty pants happened. 

This is my life in September. It is one of high contrast. Getting spanked by the elements one day 25 miles offshore, working with transactions and taxes in a comfy office the next. I'm looking forward to a little less contrast. It's emotionally jet-lagging to switch back and forth from one day to the next.


Listen to Jud Caswell's The Great Divide. It's a fantastic song about our domestic political culture. The tune also resonates in the larger context of how we interact around war, climate change, health, inequality and justice. 

In this area of life, I find myself- like many I expect - troubled by what seem like irrational divisions and cultural combativeness. I'm leaving aside the batshite crazy stuff for the moment (Joe Biden died years ago and was replaced by an animatronic or CG animation facsimile, 5G vegan space lasers, bloodthirsty reptiles in D.C. (oh, wait.hmmm)). 

I'm fixated on the apparent need to find the dumbest, most one-sided way of looking at everything. This goes for left and right in my observation. 

The Ukraine war is complicated, and comes pretty much straight out of the post-Soviet morass of financial corruption, political manipulation, brutality and sham elections. People seem to see the war (speshil meelitary celebration) in black hat/white hat terms. I'm particularly troubled by my brothers and sisters on the left who wholeheartedly justify Putin's leveling of cities, trenches full of civilian corpses and nuclear blackmail by pointing to nationalists in Ukraine and attributing all of this horror to U.S. meddling and NATO expansion. One can read up on the Orange and Euromaidan Revolutions and see the connection to hardcore nationalists committing atrocities and to U.S. interference and gaming of foreign elections. My armchair colleagues don't seem to have the scope of imagination to see the genuine hopes of millions of Ukrainians to engage with Europe and to have the right to exist free from Russian intimidation and election tampering. It's all one way or the other. 

Pick your issue. Race, gender, climate change, economic justice, war. It's hard to find someone with which to have a meaningful conversation or free exploration of tough problems. With leaders playing to the Great Divide, there will be no solutions to great problems. 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

My Turn as Village Idiot - Saved by the Rotten Crumple Zone

 Who knew such a heavy ark of a boat could push up so f-ing hard? 

These days, the cage on Compass Rose's propeller area makes an excellent garden sculpture and place for pea vines to climb up. Its intended purpose, though, was to prevent rope and buoys from becoming entangled on the propeller shaft and rapidly creating a many layered bale of gnarled and fused plastic fiber around this important vessel component. 

The cage, made of rusted cast iron and even sturdier barnicles, also looked like something out of Game of Thrones, rather than a hydro-dynamically efficient part of a marine propulsion system. 

My first cruise last June on Compass Rose was at a stately pace; statelier than expected by several knots. This spring, I gathered my courage to take off this maritime equivalent of training wheels in hopes of going faster. Based on how it looked, I would've thought getting rid of the cage would make the boat leap out of the water and run like Forrest Gump with his leg braces off. 

As a result of my bravery, I may have picked up one nautical mile per hour truth be told. I also managed to back over my own buoy last week and picked up my very own many layered bale of gnarled and fused plastic fiber around this important vessel component. 

Having this extra cargo necessitated bringing the boat alongside of the Steamboat Wharf, tying up and waiting for the tide to go out in order to clean her up. Ryan came down and helped with some maintenance tasks, and later, he and Megan cleaned up the hull and attacked the fierce tentacles of the many layer plastic fiber bale. 

The watched tide never rises, so after staring at it a while, I went home. When we came back, the davit, or metal arm that holds the hauling block/pulley had lodged itself under the massive wharf timbers and was completely deaf to my hysterical profanity insisting it dislodge. The timbers were even less reasonable. Megan and I hopped up on the starboard washboard hoping to tip it far enough to slip out. I tried a monkey wrench and every other metal lever I could lay hands on.

Orris and Erin showed up to lend their support by joining us on the washboard, and got the vessel moving to and fro all to no avail. We were seriously stuck.

I've not felt that particular sort of panic before, having the boat stuck and the tide remorselessly inching higher. That panic turned to brickshitting as I watched the wheelhouse frame and fiberglass begin to open up and part ways. I saw the lobstering season over before it really got into high gear. As I wrestled with the stuck davit, I saw fingers amputated or my skull getting caved in from the thing finally letting go with me too close to too much pent up energy and heavy metal items.

The last resort was to fire up the boat, put her in gear and yank her loose, which, duh, I should've done in the first place. 

After safely getting out of the inner harbor, Megan and I went out to clean up and test the hauler. I hauled up a pair of traps which didn't pull the wheelhouse apart after all. 

Some nervous observation over the next day of hauling and several trawls through boxes of metal this and that in my barn, the Owen barn and Clayton's shop presented some solutions. A couple of 90° braces here, fresh screws there, tighten the steel plate holding the works together and a very stout piece of stainless steel running vertically up the length of the unhappy places and I think it's at least as sturdy as before the mishap. 

As much as the rotten spot on the wheelhouse frame has bugged me since I bought the boat, it may have acted as a sacrificial crumple zone and helped absorb some of the force. 

I will probably not stop looking at the cracked places, but for now, we're good again. 

Dark Objects Lurking in the Center of the Galaxy

 If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plan.’ To which I say ‘if you want to make God piss her pants in hysterics, tell her your plan for fixing something in an old house.

For a couple years after moving in to the house at 33 South Road, I had no real idea what was in the barn. There was a canyon running through to the oil tanks and a little storage space on the right. 

The rest of the space was packed with scrap metal, furniture, tangled bits of dead fishing gear, lumber scraps and uncategorized debris. As I began picking through the periphery, I was unaware that lurking further in were dark, obscure and extremely dense objects at the center of the galaxy. 

These consisted of a half dozen steam power era woodworking tools. Not the brightly colored Ryobi, Makita or DeWalt types, but massively built planers, lathes, bandsaws and a drill press. I had no use for these things, which I believe were operated by a system of overhead belts and pulleys supplied with power at one source, perhaps a steam engine or team of oxen. I did, however, have plenty of use for the space they occupied. 

Some devices could be slid, walked, crowbarred or pried out of the barn, but a couple of them required an excavator to snake its hydraulic strong-arm into the barn and lift them out. 

When the floor was cleared, it was evident that even if these dense cores didn’t bend spacetime, they certainly bent the barn floor. Crushed would be more accurate. The deep divot also bounced a good bit. 

The floor has been bugging me for a number of years now and I figured (which is where God starts in to chuckling) that I could just pull up the broken floorboards, splice a couple of joists in, replace the floorboards and have a beer while admiring my fine work.

The first length came up easily enough, but only revealed another layer of planking running perpendicular to the upper layer. This may seem crazy, but pulling up other floorboards showed more of the exact same planking down below. 

Well.      Ok.      So I’ll take up some of both layers and fix the collapsed joists, right? Mmmm. Except that over here is a column on top of both layers of floor which seems to be supporting a carrying beam. And another one over here. So, if these were removed, I would a) have a lot more work just to get at the problem, and b) possibly find myself wearing the upper level of the structure.

Next is the search for a demo blade to fit my reciprocating saw, and some exploratory surgery on the worst affected area. The reveal was not encouraging. 

There is often a point in any challenging project where I think of just covering everything back over and quietly walking out backwards, whistling offhandedly and finding something else to do.  

What I found was that my forebears thought it was ok to just lay support beams on dirt, and that the support beams mostly didn’t exist any more. 

Longer pause this time. Yup, looks the same from over on this side. 

To filibuster, I started digging the dirt and rocks out and hoping the subconscious would craft me a plan. In addition to many five gallon buckets of dirt and good sized hunks of granite, there were an old drill bit, a number of bones, a vertebra section and what I believe was a horse’s tooth. 

Better has to be good enough this time. Short of rebuilding the entire bottom half of the structure, the best I could come up with was to prop the new joists up on bricks and roofing shingles and jack the floor up as far as possible, then nail it all together again. 

Once the new stringers were stood in place and elevated, everything else went back together in a half hour or so. I suppose to some extent I was just sewing the patient back together with a shorter term fix, but better is good enough.

The swooping contour is mostly straightened and the trampoline effect is gone. I wouldn’t want to set up a billiard table there or try to store a giant cast iron lathe, but balance has mostly been restored in the galaxy. 

Showers when one is caked filthy and sore are way more satisfying than ones before an office day. 

Nat & Megan’s Excellently Painful Bike Adventuree.

June 21, the first day of summer, 2022, started cold and drizzly. Our cabin on the southern shore of Prince Edward Island was dry and cozy with just a modest twist of the thermostat. Sounds came out of us as we loaded up; grunt-mutters of doubt and loathing about our plan to bike from Charlottetown in the center of the island to Georgetown on the far eastern shore. We’d booked ourselves at a historic inn there, imaginatively named the Historic Georgetown Inn. 

The route had seemed straightforward enough on one map I’d found online, and would be 30 some miles long, which didn’t seem terribly ambitious. We’d planned to take advantage of the lovely Confederation Trail- a network of repurposed railroad lines. Online literature and videos had the trails looking smooth and firmly packed, with no steep hills and kilometers of smiling enjoyment to come. 

The day before, we’d stopped into Outer Limits Sports to check on our rentals and the wisdom of our plan. The chap who assisted us was friendly enough in an offhand and slightly airhead manner. He failed to advise us of some key pieces of information, such as that we were stupid and destined for a lengthy, painful and tedious experience. He did, however, correct my map reading and, with the aid of a scalable online trail map, upwardly revise the kilometer count of our route from 50 to 71. This didn’t seem overwhelming from the comfort of the bike shop and the comfort of not having done it yet. Bikeshop Chap also failed to note that even though the trails are smooth, hard packed with very small bore gravel and never exceed a 3% grade, they are still considerably more laborious to travel than pavement. The cumulative drag of billions of sunflower seed sized pebbles will be felt in my ass for some time and my soul forever. 

Common sense deserted us, and we arrived at Outer Limits in the chilly drizzle at 9-ish. Chap quickly acquainted Megan with the operation of the electrically assisted bike she didn’t reserve; the different modes, what the buttons on the controller do, the LCD screen. He then started briefing me on the road bike that Megan didn’t reserve for me. With tires the width of my middle toe, I didn’t trust it on soft shoulders or retired railroad beds.

Having straightened things out and leaving the car in the Papa John’s parking lot where apparently there is good police camera coverage, we set off with that optimistic kid energy which typically lasts a good 20 minutes, or, until such time as one is crossing a busy 8 lane intersection frequented by large trucks and discovers a very flat tire. 

I pumped up Megan’s front tire after a good bit of quietly profane bewilderment about which tube and threaded bit of the pump went where, and suggested riding back toward the shop to see if it held air. A few minutes later and at regular intervals thereafter, the ritual was repeated.

Bike Dude offered no apologies but did want us to know that not only did he replace the tube and tire, but that he put a new wheel rim on as well because ‘something was up’ with the other wheel and he didn’t want to send us back out with it. 

An hour or so later and covering the same territory 3 times instead of once, we were off. Out of the city, past the sequence of city buildings to box stores to paving company tar pits and gravel yards, we cruised through the green tunnel of former rail line alongside potato, wheat, corn and hayfields and dark green woods full of mosquitos eager to demonstrate the vigor imparted by such a wholesome climate. 

The soil is just to the pink side of terra-cotta when it’s dry. The most accurate description I can come up with is those circus peanut marshmallow candies that mostly no one remembers until they’re trying to describe this color. 

The rail lines crossed roads every so often; some paved and some apparently surfaced with circus peanut candies, which are, as I recall, tough enough to stand up to tractor tires. I relished the sneakiness of darting across a civilized road into the next tunnel of isolated green and of hungry buzzing. 

I did not enjoy the fact that even though a kilometer is quite a bit shorter than a mile, pain has a telescopic effect on my perception of distance. 

Here I come to the not-so-fun truth. Even though biking fills you with feelings of freedom and youth, it hurts your ass. It hurts wicked, wicked fucking bad. Even with ridiculous looking gel-filled prosthetic ass cheek pants, it fucking hurts Wicked Fucking Bad. 

And so kilometers become Kill-Ass-O-Meters. As beautiful as the woods, fields, bogs and an endless salt marsh were, it was a great relief to reach the not quite half way point and scarf a very messy cheeseburger at the Mount Stewart Welcome and Interpretive Center and Snack Bar. 

Over the course of the afternoon and its additional 3 hours and 15 minutes of pedaling, I became highly attuned to tiny bumps, very minor grades, almost imperceptible if one was walking, and to which part of the trail might be the least resistant to forward motion. My favorite bit of scenery was the kilometer markers, passing in slow but regular torment. I also got intimately in touch with my sitting parts. Much experimentation with minute changes fore, aft, port, starboard and weight distribution would give a short bit of relief, say 45 seconds until it was time to adjust the rotisserie.

I made a discovery. I could put the bike in its highest gear, pedal standing up for a few revolutions, then stay standing up with the pedal cranks horizontal. This gave some actual relief to one section of my anatomy, but by the time we were down grading into Georgetown 8 hours after we’d first left, had transferred the screaming to my knees and leg muscles. 

We cruised over a deserted boardwalk into Georgetown and turned left toward the Historic Georgetown Inn. 

It was, as Megan observed, a Twilight Zone-ish town with very little sign of human life. I was seeing the seaside community in The Birds instead, but in any event, we coasted up to the Inn, which,  even with the signs taped to the door for offseason deliveries, appeared to be in operation. 

“Should we lock the bikes up?”


I didn’t want to do anything except      nothing. 

The Historic Georgetown Inn is what you’d expect in a remote seaside community plucked out of the 19-early somethings, except that it’s not made up to look old timey, it is old timey. And beautifully so. 

On the way to the Wheelhouse for dinner, I noted that Megan was walking funny.

A hot shower, a poorly seared piece of halibut with a nicely poured zinfandel followed up by a good night’s sleep did wonders. 

Here’s the other big problem with bike tours that bike shop sales representatives don’t ever mention: you have to get back. 

No way were we going to repeat yesterday’s ordeal. The road back over Route 3 and Route 1 was shorter and had the benefit of being paved. It was an easy call, and a much easier ride.

Prince Edward Island seems to be very trucky. After breakfast in Georgetown, we watched a tanker called the Algoma Mariner dispense concrete mix into trucks at the rate of about one semi tractor-trailer load every 30 seconds for longer than we had for spare time. It was one truck onto the wharf and one off every few seconds; a ballet of big, loud diesel propelled industriousness. 

Once on our way, big trucks hurtling past in our direction kept us alert and provided a small boost, while those going the other way created headwinds and gritty teeth. Between farms, logging, tankers full of concrete and the evident construction boom, there were more semis than cars.

All the same, the main roads had us cruising at twice our speed and two thirds of the distance of the railroad bed dirt tracks. 

Along the way the farmland was piercingly bright green with single fields seeming to be 50 or 100 acres lined with a few spruce trees at the margins. Closer to our terminus, the fields ran straight to the ocean.

Getting through road construction and 4 lane rotary, truck and potholed 4 lane bridge mayhem between Strafford and Charlottetown was an adventure of its own, requiring improvised circumnavigation of the strip mall access road maze. I’m writing this, so it came out alright.

The final phase involved first getting lost in a very busy truck rotary, warehouse and fuel station jamb-o-ree, and, after puzzling over the map in an industrial neighborhood, picking up a little section of the Confederation Trail to get us back to the bike shop. After every ass busting kilometer, truck and eye-popping pink field, green pasture and blue cove, and within yards of the tranquility of the dirt trail, I thought I’d hop onto the sidewalk to make the turn, noticed too late that the curb was suddenly 8 inches high instead of 2, changed my mind, but not my trajectory, and wound up dumping myself like an armload of too heavy firewood onto the sidewalk. Charlottetown, particularly the Kensington Street sidewalk now has a piece of me as a souvenir, and I have a bright red skid patch on my right calf in return. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Not in a Magazine -- Three Layered Chakra of Debt

 I needed last night. I'll spare explaining the emotional drag-ass state I was in, but leave it at I needed last night.

Dennis, the original fisherman pirate guitar player with a one-in-million voice, wanted to do music for whoever was around. We often do this in the summer on Saturday evenings at the wharf. Sometimes it's a handful and gets snuffed out early by fog and marine grade-mosquitos. Some evenings there's a crowd and rotating players and it goes on at some boisterous length. Garage bands may be enthusiastic and raw, but they've got nothing on a Wharf Band. 

May 14 is on the early side of the season, so we figured we'd try it on the early side of the evening. Jerm already had his orange and yellow swirly drums set up when I got there. Friends wandered down. Dennis arrived but almost decided to pack it up before we started. Only the Sirens persuaded him to stay.

After a half dozen or so country, blues and rock tunes, the temperature dropped in a hurry and our fingers soon stopped cooperating, even for rock & roll. A neighbor offered up their space so the evening migrated to warmer habitat. 

The scene at their place will never even be hinted at by glossy magazines selling the architected quaintness that a couple million on the coast will get ya. That chardonnay version of Maine has had all the life airbrushed out of it, as well as increasingly turning island and coastal communities into gated theme parks. 

Here on Matinicus, on a Saturday night, families, kids, dogs, cats and one duck all piled in to my friends' place for live authentic music. Instrument duties got passed around. Guests took the mic for some great folk songs. There wasn't a Cuisinart or Audi to be found. 


Good morning, everyone. Today's guided session will focus our attention on the 3 chakras of debt.

We experience debt in our economy in three ways. More precisely, most of us experience debt one way, while a few live in the other higher bands of debt consciousness.

Until recently, I only occupied the bottom, red chakra of debt. I didn't know there even was a yellow and then a green chakra above. 

The red chakra signifies debt for most of us. It means swimming with ankle weights. It means running with lead shoes. Debt means struggle, fatigue, stress and a sense that we'll never get free, that we're straightjacketed and short of breath. 

So maybe I'm keeping up with monthly expenses and a student loan and just breaking even, but an unexpected expense comes up. Here's the trap: if I can't afford it today, I probably can't afford it next month, so if I borrow money, those monthly expenses will still be there, along with principal and interest payments. 

We'll shift now to a little visualization work.

Is your account emptied for bills and groceries on the same day you need a new radiator for the car that you need for work, but just put this month's rent into 3 weeks ago? No problem! Just put it on your credit card, and soon, you'll not only have your car fixed, but you'll be earning Palladium Rewards (TM) points and probably paying back twice or more in interest than what you borrowed!!! Credit cards maxed and getting you down? No problem, just call PayDay til you're Dead Loans, LLC and we'll have you some quick cash so you'll be ours forehhhverrr...

Now gently come back to the now, the present. 

Shit, that is the now. Okay! Big Breath. Let's just move on.

The yellow chakra is where we discover Leverage. That's when debt goes from being a suffocating chain of bondage to actually amplifying economic power. If I'm of sufficient means to be able to borrow money to buy assets I don't really need, but which are good investments, I can use debt to magnify my investment. All of a sudden, I'm able to buy more assets which produce more gain and round the merry we go. [Disclaimer: Leverage and overly clever math brains are a very bad combination; see Long Term Capital Management, Enron, 2008 generally]. 

Leveraged purchases utilizing the yellow debt chakra drive up the value of assets, which in turn prices assets like houses out of reach of more and more people, while reinforcing the feedback loop of gain for capitalized classes. 

This works fantastically for those in the yellow part of the spectrum. Until it doesn't, at which time the losses are simply passed to taxpayers. 

Bottom line is that yellow chakra debt is not a burden, it is actually power to grow more wealth. Holy shit, this is great! Unfortunately, it's a hard club to get sponsored into.

A virtually impossible club to gain entry into requires having invented some tech thing or other and amassing such light bending, gravity stretching amounts of wealth that we enter upon the plane of the green chakra. 

The green chakra is where debt isn't even debt any more. At least the yellow chakra debtors are on the hook for their leverage. In the green realm, debt becomes equity. And it's tax free😎. This is because one can borrow against unrecognized gains in huge stock holdings and use the 'loan' proceeds to acquire material wealth-  by buying homes, oligarch boats, space rockets, senators, or other sound investments. They have their cake, but don't pay any tax. As long as the musky types do eventually have the decency to die, that gain will never get recognized and taxed.

Namaste, everyone.