Archives for July 20, 2019
Over the Horizon
Previously I wrote when expressing what I want in a candidate, “I would rather you see over the horizon than to the horizon”. Let’s look more closely.
The phrase ‘temporal exhaustion’ means being mentally out of breath all the time from dealing with the present and having no energy left for imagining the future. Politicians have this affliction as much as or more so than ordinary people in part because the election cycle is too short, in part because the budgeting cycle is even shorter, in part because re-election is (seen as) dependent upon having accomplished something, and in part because we pressure the candidates to deal with the immediate.
Urgency has displaced importance. How stupid is that.
Some countries have taken steps to address this situation: Some have extended the term between elections, some have introduced multi-year budgeting, some have created positions for future generation ombudsmen, and some have committees to scrutinize legislation for its impact on future generations. Japan has created what I would call a future focus group comprising two teams – one representing the present and a second representing the future. The proposed legislation that comes from each team is significantly different.
Importance has overcome urgency. How smart is that.
Try this analogy: Two couples each buy a house. The houses are pre-owned, of identical age, construction, and size. Couple number one moves in and applies paint and wallpaper, maybe new carpet, and makes plans to renovate sometime in the future. Couple number two renovates all of the major systems – water, plumbing, roof, insulation, electrical, heat/cooling, and appliances – then moves in and makes plans to paint and trim sometime in the future.
Skin and bones or painted lips.
Make up and perfume or meat, milk, and vegetables? Health and fitness or chips and salsa? Screen games or outdoor sports? Reading, writing, and arithmetic or your choice? Binge watch or read? Text or talk? Borrow or save? Rhetoric or reality?
It is true that China is more future-focussed than most other countries. It has been suggested that benign dictatorship can overcome the short-sightedness of democracy. We shouldn’t have to go that far.
Show me you can plan beyond next weekend if you want my vote.
THE LIGHT AT OLD GROUCHY
Roiling fog banks slithered around the rocks of Old Grouchy, obscuring the cliffs one minute, then parting to let a shaft of sunlight touch the island’s one grassy knoll. No beaches, not even rocky ones soften Old Grouchy. Fisheries and Oceans Canada had, many decades ago, built a stone and concrete jetty on the western shore, the generally leeward shore. It is here that I moor my revamped fishing trawler in relative safety. Then make the long trek up an old iron staircase, anchored deeply to the rocky cliff side, to the heights above. To spite the elements I keep the stairs and railings painted, a bright-orange ferrous oxide inhibiting paint. I like its cheerful look.
Old Grouchy Rock, some fifty nautical miles beyond Port Hardy, at the north end of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island and some five miles off the mainland of the inland passage, has been the site of a lighthouse since 1852. It was decommissioned in 1995. And I am proud to be the only resident of the island, having purchased the Keeper’s House and surrounding acreage from FOC. Despite most peoples’ feelings, my life is not lonely. I am too busy for that. Bimonthly trips to Port Hardy for supplies, lugging groceries and generator fuel from my trawler up to the house, growing a little patch of vegetables, and attempting to become a famous writer, keeps me fully occupied. Thank god there is a good supply of potable water for me and my garden. I am happy here, but the fog today is worrisome.
Nightfall and total fogbound obscurity. No stars, not even white foam from the pounding tide which is usually visible at the base of my cliffs. The waters of the Queen Charlotte Strait are dangerous waters. And very well populated waters, from camping kayakers to cruise liners ferrying tourists to and from Alaska, from fishing boats hauling in salmon to tramp steamers doing whatever, the waters north and east of Vancouver Island are busy. And in a fog such as this, potentially life threatening. I checked my radio for any local broadcasts. Then tucked in for a fretful night.
Three weeks later, I watched as a sailing yacht—a ketch I thought, from its double masts, headed towards my island. I was near the head of the iron staircase, when I heard a loud “Ahoy, Old Grouchy” being shouted from the jetty. The ketch had landed.
I yelled back. “Ahoy, ketch. Come aboard.” This was in deference to the Canadian Coast Guard custom of referring to light houses as ships. A tanned and fit looking middle-aged man waved up at me. He jumped to the pier as I descended the last transverse of the stairs.
He clasped my right hand in a hard, double-handed grip, and met me with a broad smile.
“I had to come and meet the man who saved my life.” He turned toward the yacht. “I know you were just doing your job, but I have a case of Alberta Springs on board for you. Hope that works?”
The yachtsman leaned back and looked up the cliff side, his hands on his hips. “I haven’t been here since I was a kid. Used to come from Toronto to stay with my grandparents. Gramps was the Keeper then. That would have been in the 70’s. My brother and sisters hated having to visit. Even claimed the island was named after Gramps. But I loved it. Every minute.” He smiled at the memory. “So after a few years, I just came alone. Made everyone happier. Specially Gramps. He taught me how to handle a skiff, how to fish, how to read the tides.” He sighed, far away in his memories. Then he shook his head. “He died when I was sixteen. My best friend.”
“And you’ve never been back? Since?”
“No. Too busy being a success.” He grinned. “But when I got the chance to sail up this coast again, I took it. Three weeks ago today, I was caught in that fog bank. That wouldn’t be a problem, but my GPS went out. I was lost.” He looked at me seriously. “I mean really lost. Almost panicked. But then I saw your light. I’ve never seen anything so lovely. Knew exactly where I was.”
“My light?” I thought about my rather dim house lights, produced by gas generator and limited in both scope and wattage.
He looked at me strangely. “Yeah. The light. I knew the group occulting immediately. Gramps was a good teacher. Three eclipses repeating every ten seconds.”
He was referring to the flash pattern of the old light. Every lighthouse is assigned a beacon sequence, so seamen can tell by the timing of the light flashes which beacon they are seeing. It’s that way all over the world. Mistaking which light you are seeing can be lethal, so the lamp sequences for local lighthouses are shown on the charts
He kept on. “I knew right away I was too close inshore, so I moved out into the strait. Got through to Bella Bella, no problem.” He was still regarding me strangely.
“But the light was decommissioned over twenty years ago,” I managed to say.
He laughed. “Well, officially. I know that. But thank god you kept the old thing working. And knew the flash pattern.”
He was still looking upwards, towards the heights of the island. “When I came in today I thought I would be able to see the tower. I think I remember seeing it from the water when I was a kid.” He laughed. “But time can fool anyone.”
“That’s just it,” I gulped then continued. “When the light was decommissioned the Coast Guard razed the tower completely. Didn’t want nosy tourists playing around in there. The lights, reflectors, clockwork mechanisms, everything was removed, and the building levelled. There is no light.”
Learning to Fly
In the tree just outside our window a pair of crows built a nest. For weeks the crows brought food for the baby crows. It seemed as though it wasn’t just the parents that fed the baby crows, others joined in for the task. Eventually the young crows were able to hop out of the nest but one of them was reluctant to try flying. For days it would step out onto a branch but go no further. It would try flying from one branch to another but no more in spite of urging from adult crows. That illustrated a lesson for me. I was meant to be and do what a maturing, growing Christian should be doing. Yet so often I was reluctant to step out in faith. It seemed too risky in spite of being challenged to venture out.
Then one day there was a commotion outside the window. The young crow flew from one tree to the next. Then back again. Loudly it trumpeted (rather hoarse trumpet) its success. Not long after that it was out there doing what crows do. That included ‘choir practice’ at about 5 a.m. Why would they need a rehearsal when they’ve only got a few croaks in their repertoire? I believe a group of crows is called a parliament of crows. In a positive sense they do work together to provide and protect.
Take courage and venture beyond your comfort zone.
He comes to the Town with many years of municipal experience ranging from large and medium to small rural communities. He has spent the last three years working in the private sector as a Project Manager for a Heavy Civil Construction firm in Clearwater, BC.
Mr. Brounstein was originally hired in January, 2019 as Operational Services Manager and came to the Town with the Diploma in Civil Engineering as well as a Diploma in Public Sector Management.
He is looking forward to his new role with the Town and working with Council and Staff to help further evolve the Department’s organizational objectives.
Source: Town of Osoyoos
Brounstein replaces Jim Dinwoodie who was let go May 15 of this year.