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BEYOND MOO, Cluck, Oink, Gobble, and GlubGlub…

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The bloodless revolution is in full swing… load up your tofu fork now…

The meaty secret is out of the bag – the world is awash in major transitions in a hundred different areas… and one BIGGEE that strikes us all every day is in what we eat.

Now I’ve talked here before about the challenges I’ve faced in inviting guests into our house and feeding a group that sounds like the making of a CLUE game: Ms. Vegan, Professor Celiac, Lady Lactose Intolerant, Colonel Keto, the list of characters goes on and on…

Today though, I want to delve a bit into the shape of our future as it pertains to MEATY Matters.

North America/Europe/Asia/DownUnder have all led us down the cultural belief-street of the wonders of protein from animal sources.

Family beef roasts were as much a part of my Sunday WASP upbringing as the United Church minister’s boring sermon. I love succulent beef. I savour rich Yorkshire Pudding. Gravy? Mmmmmm….

Meat is convenient and pretty darn easy for the average consumer.

So long as we are willing to cultivate animals (and their products) and then kill/harvest them (or better still, have someone else do the killing), we have a handy source of accessible protein to feed our muscles and bones.

It’s life sustaining for humans.

Watch out though, because, my friend:

As the present now

Will later be past

The order is

Rapidly fadin’.

And the first one now

Will later be last

For the times they are a-changin’.

(Bob Dylan)

Yes, I can see the future in my shiny crystal ball… times are a-changin’, and it will not look like the past, although hopefully, it will taste like the past.

We are entering the Twilight Zone… the relatively new phenomenon of non-animal based protein sources that mimic or reproduce animal foods sans animal. Moo-free meat!

You can’t visit a supermarket or read a news journal without a sighting of non-meat information.

Beyond Meats, Impossible Meats, Soy Curls and Tofu-this-and-that are a mere beginning of what will land on our plates and palates in coming months and years.

Wishful thinking my Carnivore Compadre!

One day you and I will find “steak” and “chicken breasts” and “shrimp” that resemble what we are accustomed to seeing and relishing from the farms of our lush countrysides… EXCEPT:

Those “meats” will be products of food laboratories and industry farms that use miraculous tools of technology to bring us the flavours and textures of cow and chicken and pig… Wagyu beef without the intermediate step of birthing a cow. No heartbeat. No suffering.

My own set of beliefs on the use of meat are in constant flux as we travel this pathway of transition.

We can agree or disagree on the ethics and challenges of these products (and we surely will!)… but… we will not hold back the tide just as we can’t hold off the tsunamis that bowl us over in other areas of our lives.

We can affect the management, politics and morals of it, but we’ll not successfully prevent or outlaw the wholesale use of these sciences.

Here we sit today in a transition period just as the internal combustion engine is in an age of transition… we all need to get used to it and adapt.

Soon, cows and chickens and pigs will celebrate in the streets…

…yes, the bloodless revolution is underway… beet the drums, lettuce make merry… VIVA LA REVOLUCION!

SUMMERLAND – The Song

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I wonder if I should have my testosterone levels checked?

I’m just a sentimental Summerland sap.

There is a lovely, poignant movie recently released on Prime Video that swept me up and embraced me with its tender story. (Aside: if you’ve ever seen the heart-rending movie Summer of ’42, you’ll find some similarities here)

I guess you could call it a consequences of war movie – it’s set in the British countryside of World War 2 as London is being bombed mercilessly by the German Luftwaffe – with an underlying LGBTQ storyline that is understated but clear in its societal message.

For eons too long, those who stand outside the mainstream heterosexual realm have been sidelined and chastised and humiliated. And like a pernicious virus, too many human sorrows and tragedies lie crushed in the wake.

I believe we all need to see and be exposed to gentle messages of inclusion to rub away the sandpaper-cruel roughness from this world. The movie takes us down a bumpy road before finding some smoother ground in the end.

The title of the movie is SUMMERLAND… yes, the same name as the little town where I’ve lived and raised a family over the past 33 years.

The film comes with an unexpected twist near the end that has the nature of deliciously fine wine with a serene aftertaste that lingers.

The beautiful cinematography of English rural life combined with the movie’s eponymous title inspired me in my songwriting this week… how could it not? Summerland, whether in England or in the mountain-ringed orchards and vineyards of British Columbia cries out for poetry.

………………..

One tiny thing this movie taught me was the phenomenon of FATA MORGANA… “Summerland” was a fata morgana in the movie – “heaven” to the Vikings.

Wikipedia says:

A Fata Morgana is a form of mirage that can be seen in a narrow band right above the horizon. It is an Italian term named after the Arthurian sorceress, Morgan le Fay, from a belief that these mirages… were fairy castles in the air or false land created by her witchcraft to lure sailors to their deaths.

Fata Morgana mirages significantly distort the object or objects on which they are based, often such that the object is completely unrecognizable. A Fata Morgana may be seen on land or at sea, in polar regions, or in deserts. It may involve almost any kind of distant object, including boats, islands, and the coastline.

The optical phenomenon occurs because rays of light are bent when they pass through air layers of different temperatures in a steep thermal inversion where an atmospheric duct has formed.

………………..

And so, in this context of my town of Summerland and a cinematic’s scenic panorama, I’ve put together a short song lyric that combines two stories/ideas into one (yup, it’s Idea Sex again!)…

… a local landscape inhabited by historic characters living an aching internal war with the secret of their forbidden love, in a time of true physical war.

SUMMERLAND

by Larry Green

Giant’s Head climbs a wintry horizon

windswept skeletons of Ambrosia

outstretched arms of Cabernet

your windswept nut-brown hair lashes

chilly shoals lining cliffsides of clay

.

Flames kiss the moon in the sky

Sweet smiling eyes reflect lovers’ shine

sun diamonds dance on the lake

each Monet frame makes a painting

at sunrise before her heartbreak

.

CHORUS

Song of seclusion

Hint of allusion

Fata morgana

drifts over Summerland shores

.

Salish sunflowers upon Ponderosa pine

call out the new season’s coming

through the sage’s turn to sadness

cage of love’s play and maternal desire

burned to ash in the grasses

.

BRIDGE

Take off your sweater

in this hot summer sun

Shed suffocation of expectation

that withered away

your twins of desire and hope

.

CHORUS

Song of seclusion

Hint of allusion

Fata morgana

drifts over Summerland shores

.


How Do You Solve A Problem Like Winter…

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I loved winter as a kid.

As long as my scuffed hand-me-down skates and hockey stick were sitting by the back door, and a frozen rink – made through frigid late nights by my Mom – waited in the backyard or in the park across the street by Glen Echo School, I was one happy pint-sized Canuck.

Getting my Mom to drive me and my friends to Chedoke Ski Hill for some night schussing under the lights was also a perfect way to finish up a winter’s day… accompanied by a comfortably singeing hot chocolate reward at the end.

Winter was:

• Scotch Pine Christmas tree scent and Santa Claus

• Apple crumbles and Mom’s sweet Christmas sticky pudding

• Pine logs crackling in the fireplace

• Watching snowflakes drift lazily past streetlights at night

• Licking long icicles that we broke away from house roofs

• Kids with snow-caked mittens hanging by wool threads from coat sleeves

• Jack Frost lacy patterns on windows in the morning

• Nutcracker and Johnny Mathis music (but NO Boney M!)

• Snow Angel making and tobogganing

• Snow drifts that necessitated “Snow Days”… NO school days

• Christmas lights on houses and trees… LOTS of lights!

My sister Betty finds her inner “angel” child in this winter’s Ontario snow…(I hope she’s OK, I haven’t heard from her in weeks!)

And I love winter now… if… and especially if… it lasts only about 1, maybe 2 months, tops.

Nope it’s not cold weather that creates problem status here.

OK, sure, it is cold weather a bit but it’s much much more than that. (Honestly, by Canadian standards, we don’t even have cold weather here in Summerland)

And yes, it is a pain to have to put clothing on, layer over layer, latex over lycra, wool over fleece, only to find that yes, like Robert Munsch’s children’s book (I HAVE TO GO) you really do need to pee.

And the problem isn’t jogging on sloppy, slippery roads, feeling your finger and toe tips growing more numb by the frosty minute.

Nope, the real problem with winter is DARKNESS.

In my first professional lab job in my early 20’s, I lived in Yellowknife, NWT (above the Arctic Circle) for a couple of years. It was a fabulous place to live for awhile… but…

… in the winter:

Did you know that DARKNESS is the only thing you see when you go to work in the morning? … when you slip down for a coffee break mid-morning?… SEMI-DARKNESS… and when you’d head home later in the day? … Yup, DARKNESS! Bloody Hell…

I don’t think human eyes are genetically built for darkness the way cats’ eyes are. We humans are meant to live our days in… well… daylight. Lots of it.

Did I hear you say you want proof?

• We cry for our Mommy’s when we’re little because we know that monsters live, thrive, and eat children in the dark. (Also, we know that spiders crawl in our mouths while we sleep in the dark)

• We get frightened when we wander streets and alleys in the dark of night, despite the glow of red lights (wrong streets do you think?)

• We put windows in our houses to let light spill over us, and so our neighbours can spy on us walking around naked (you’re making people nauseous Larry)

The solution is and should be simple: TECHNOLOGY!

We can outsmart Mother Nature and the Laws of the Universe with technology.

Light is simple for us ever since we discovered fire and our ability to harness water power…. we brighten our homes and buildings continuously.

We should be lighting our outdoor world year-round – north and south hemispheres – using a human-made “fix” when needed in the winter months.

We have in the neighbourhood of 6,000 satellites orbiting our globe currently… 6,000!

I believe that Elon Musk and Richard Branson and Bill Gates could set aside their Mars habitation plans for a wee bit, and put their science genius hacks to work today at reflecting sunlight, or creating powerful solar lights that illuminate us to daytime brightness during the dark days of winter. Spotlight please.

It’s a small request. All I ask is that you give me 16 hours of outdoor brightness every day and I’ll take the ravages of winter storms with a lunatic Joker grin on my face.

Finally and totally unrelated to winter darkness… I’m popping in a song I recorded this week here in my songwriter’s lair.

Six or seven years back, I wrote this song about unfulfilled longing and desire between a waitress and a travelling salesman.

It’s simply titled THE WAITRESS. I hope you enjoy it…

My 8 Unimpeachable Quarantine Goals for 2021

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A daring bloodless revolution is underway…

… not in Tehran or Washington… nope… in the confines of my home.

Do I think New Year’s resolutions are passé? … well… not so much… but…

… OK, I’m still a goal setter – and it may just be my advancing age – but it’s more likely this whole COVID thing has me becoming more discerning and self-critical.

The belly button gazing has become more intense (and fogged by fluff).

The choices and opportunities for setting goals and achievements has narrowed substantially this past year. Today…

• I substitute PBS Rick Steves episodes for international travel destinations

• CNN is a surrogate for fantasy literature stories

• baking powder or starter mix does its bubble-dance in place of hard-as-toilet-paper-to-find yeast

• energetic hikes to the refrigerator take up the sweaty role of boot camp classes

• snatching a package of toilet paper from an elderly lady’s shopping cart makes for a high-five victory (and a lap of shame too, Larry)

Author Jim Collin’s Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) remain out-of-bounds for awhile still.

So… my major mental activity these days is to categorize my minor-league goals; here are a select few of these 2021 Humbled Downsized Miniaturized Goals (HDMG):

  1. Hygiene: Brush my teeth at least twice a week. Finger rubbing between brushings scores chocolate bonus points. Avoid smiling at hygienist daughter: stay focused.
  2. Hygiene: create a small business of mobile face-mask washing kiosks outside malls and grocery stores to remove crusty spots and brown saliva stains from customer masks worn for weeks and jammed into filthy pockets.
  3. Exercise: Run 5k at least once a …. run 5k over the coming year. Marathon Stretch Goal– keep weight gain to 26.2 lbs.
  4. Exercise: Climb to the very top of local mountain, Giant’s Head, carrying a case of Double-size Charmin toilet paper, without the assistance of bottled O2 or an accompanying medic… train ahead of time with YouTube Couch Cross-Fit and BedBounce Yoga classes.
  5. Mental: Read War and Peace in original Russian… or 10 Trump tweets in English, whichever is less difficult to understand. Late breaking: No more Trump tweets, nyet… so War and Peace it is… da!
  6. Mental: Yell out in properly verb-conjugated Spanish at the neighbour’s Chihuahua when it poops on my property…. el perro gordo loco….
  7. Creative: Write 10 blog posts that don’t mention the words Trump and F*ck in the same paragraph. Also: write one full post using only my left pinkie finger.
  8. Investment: pour entire pension fund assets into toilet paper futures using Bitcoin (Larry, do you even have the slightest understanding of what bitcoin is?)

  • BONUS Goals:
    • Cooking: Work on sculpture-based meal-making using a combination of Beyond Meat and Chia Pet seeds. First up: Bob Ross Meat(less)loaf. Also: Send my 2 yr-old grandson’s famous recipe for Stinky Cheese Donuts to Tim Hortons.
    • Juvenile: Dress up as Miss Piggy and eat frog legs for breakfast.
    • Music: Write a Broadway musical about Trump called Hangry Humping On The Resolute Desk.

Welcome to silly season. So what will be YOUR goals for 2021?

Hang on cuz this will be a year of necessary continued patience and finding something funny in the absurd. Even many Holocaust survivors found room in their lives for dark humour to lift their spirits.

Those afflicted with COVID, or those with someone close-by affected, need the respite of laughter to distract and soothe. To quote my COVID long-hauler Irish cousin, “Let’s not forget all the positivity among the pain – those little glimmers of sunshine in the darkness that got us through.

Now’s a good time to start your own home-bound res(v)olution…

Rollercoaster Riding… wheeeeeee….

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The Year of Living Dangerously is sort-of over and a new calendar Year of Future Hopefulness is upon us…

HALLELUJAH!

It’s important that we all don’t think only of COVID… life has to manage through the struggles and go on, whether through personal challenges, world wars, pandemics, racial divides, or weather-related tragedies.

So, in that light… if you know me at all, you know that one of my passions is investing, more specifically, stock market investing; it’s welded to me like my underwear and socks when taken from the dryer without Cling-Free (or for my lab friends: like a colony of E. coli on room-temperature beef.)

Investing well births money.

Money in itself is not evil despite the aphorisms suggesting otherwise; money is like shaving cream on my face. I can shave without it and manage to get by, but using it saves me from a lot of nasty nicks and bloody cuts throughout my life from Day One to Day Gone.

Money is my shaving cream.

Every one of us needs a source of money to feed and house ourselves and our kids, to pay for education and transportation, to find our way upwards from the base levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Money, I love ya, but I’m not part of the elite 1% group. *sad face*

Working for the dollars is admirable and good. But I like it even more when my money returns the favour and works for me.

I really appreciate that money can work the graveyard shift sans complaint and reward me when I awake in the morning with a dividend cheque without me tying my tie or shining my shoes.

Research and sweat-thought in investing has assisted me and my wife in procuring a less hectic lifestyle than might otherwise be the case, and also to pursue other interests and passions without a huge concern for financial stability.

Of course I worry about a possible lack of funds, especially as my REAL senior years approach, but I don’t lie awake at night in worry and fret … I save “frets” for my guitar playing fun!

OK, it’s MEA CULPA time.

For a number of years now, I’ve shared my annual investment “disclosure” with you. My yearly Walk of Shame… or Fame!

Two years ago, I brought up the term FUCKedUPedNESS to describe my less-than-stellar year (-1.8%) in investing; then last year, with arms raised high, I told you of an annum of much improved UPedNESS(+24.6). A tale of 2 years, one down, one up; a rollercoaster ride over 2 years. This year compressed the bilious ride into only 12 months. (NOTE: FUCKedUPedNESS describes U.S. politics today much better than my investing!)

This past year of COVID was an investment period of intense rollercoaster riding, with a huge shutdown/downhill run in March and April followed by the steady climb up the other side.

End result? My final year-end increase sidled in at +5.0% for my combined RRSP, TFSA and Locked-in Retirement accounts. This compares with a U.S. Dow Jones Index increase of +7.2% and the Toronto Exchange increase of +2.2%.

On a bright note, the increase inside just my RRSP account was +33.2% largely due to fairly substantial investments in APPLE and AMAZON… the world of our technology-bound future.

Here’s my basic financial return facts:

  • 1 year              +5.0%
  • 3 year avg.     +9.3%
  • 5 year avg.     +9.6%
  • 10 year avg.   +14.2%
  • 12 year avg. +18.9%
  • 15 year avg.   +13.3%
  • 18 year avg.   +14.2%

These numbers are just OK in my books. I accept that I’m not Warren Buffett or Bill Gates (two fellas I admire for their intelligence and philanthropic bents), but I’d really like to be a point or two higher in my results.

My long-term goal is an annual return of 15%. I’m skating around that number in the 10 and greater years, but showing signs of lagging in the shorter time-frame.

Looking forward and trying to see through the haze of my crystal ball, here are some solid stock picks I’m watching for future possible investment. Aside from the ARK ETF’s (High Technology fund), these choices all pay a healthy and safe dividend every 3 months :

  • Bristol-Myers (BMY)
  • ARK ETF’s
  • AT&T (T)
  • Enbridge (ENB)
  • Abbvie (ABBV)

One thing I’m ever so slowly coming to realize (about 25 years late *head slap*) is that in investment terms, the world is being pushed by this monstrous boulder called TECHNOLOGY

… the companies that participate in its rapid development, or at the very least, embrace its use in a big way, will most likely be the business survivors in today and tomorrow’s Darwinian struggle.

A good part of my job now in researching future investments is to ensure that technology is in the forefront of corporate management thinking, for anything less a company will join the faded dinosaurs and buggy-whip makers in a museum display case.

And so finally my good friends, to plagiarize my words from last year:

… I’ll never stop dreaming in lots of directions, and looking for a fine balance between my world’s opposing cultures of self-interest and giving to others.

Remember that investing in life is about time, money and energy. Take a few deep breaths and choose your investments with intent in all regions of your life.