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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Congratulations Mr. President!

On the very 1-year anniversary of your inauguration and with Washington and all branches of government under full control of your party, the United States Government has shut down due to a disagreement over a spending bill. If anything, it shows the total inability of the GOP to govern. 
You and your cronies have just managed to give-away 1.4trillions to the rich, you have made cuts to social programs serving the poor and the weak and now you are lacking the money to run your country. And to top it off you are asking for billions to build a silly wall along your southern border. 
Congratulations Mr. President, you really made America look ridiculous.
Within only 1 year you have achieved to divide your country more than any President before you. You have shown a total disregard for learning how to lead this formerly great country. Your approval ratings are still between the lowest in the history of the U.S. and your legal battles and scandals are numerous enough that one could fill the Encyclopedia Britannica with it and still run out of paper. 

Shut-downs are specific for the U.S. as
no other country makes its legislature vote to raise the country's borrowing limit, for example, to pay for spending the legislature has already approved.
And no other country shuts down its government in the same way the U.S. does.

That's not to say that other nations don't have budgetary disagreements and worse. They do. But "for most of the world, a government shutdown is very bad news — the result of revolution, invasion, or disaster," says Anthony Zurcher at BBC News. Seriously, "even in the middle of its ongoing civil war, the Syrian government has continued to pay its bills and workers' wages."

Syria's not alone. "Countries like Pakistan and Colombia have had civil wars, coups, financial crises, even defaults but never a government shutdown," says Erik Voeten at The Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog. (and those you call Sh*thole Countries?)

In Belgium, tensions between the Flemish (Dutch speakers) and Walloons (French speakers) got so heated in 2010 and 2011 that the country had no elected government for 589 days — "yet, budgets were passed, government workers were paid, and government services continued to be provided," says Voeten. In fact, Voeten adds, "I cannot think of a single foreign analogy to what is happening in the U.S. today."

And that is true. The U.S. is like a kindergarten, where the kids refuse to play with each other when they disagree about something. But every kindergarten also has a leader. The U.S. has too. But when the leader is a moron and unable to use his position to unify, full disagreements break out and the kids are throwing tantrums. But other than in the kindergarten, there are victims on the American battlefield. Workers are getting no wages, social programs don't make payouts while the shut-down is in effect.

But, strangely, the very men and women who are causing the shut-down are still getting paid - big time. Trump voters, I assume, you are happy with that. You must love the chaos and the destruction.

What a country, eh!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

OK, We've Got Some Snow And Oh Sooo Pretty

We finally got what can be expected in January. Yup, we got some snow. Not too much, just 8 inches, but sooo very pretty that we needed to get ourselves out there in between all that Winter-Wonder-Land and we took tons of pictures. With us was the little Dixie-Pixie, who had even more fun with all that snow racing, and jumping around like crazy. It is truly gratifying to see this happy little dog enjoying life to its fullest. I will spare you for more verbal praise, just let the pictures tell the tale.
This posting is still done directly via Blogger, as Open Life Writer still refuses to cooperate.
Blue skies are temping us to get outside

                                                  Below: Eastport in the distance


Head Harbour Lightstation w. ferry to Grand Manan in back

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The fishing shed that washed across an East Coast border and touched off an international firestorm

Monday, January 15, 2018

Trump And Stalin

(CNN)Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is expected to deliver a floor speech on Wednesday in which he will compare President Donald Trump's attacks on the news media to the rhetoric of late Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

According to an excerpt of the speech, Flake will criticize the President for calling the news media the "enemy of the people," calling it "an assault as unprecedented as it is unwarranted."

"Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own President uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies," reads the excerpt. "It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase 'enemy of the people,' that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of 'annihilating such individuals' who disagreed with the supreme leader."

Flake's prepared speech goes on to say the President's actions should be "a great source of shame" for the Senate and the members of the Republican Party.

"The free press is the despot's enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy," Flake's remarks say. "When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn't suit him 'fake news,' it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press."

Flake, who announced he will not be seeking re-election in 2018, has said he will use his remaining time in the Senate to speak out against the President when he believes it is warranted.

A frequent critic of Trump, Flake announced his decision to retire in a Senate speech in October that bemoaned the "coarsening" tenor of politics in the United States and criticized his own party's "complicity" with Trump's behavior.

The Arizona Republican has said he doesn't have any formal plans to run for President after his time on Capitol Hill.

"I don't rule anything out, but it's not in my plans," Flake told ABC's "This Week" last month.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Saturday, January 13, 2018

From Cold To Warm And Back To Cold

As usual, our days are flying by like a jet plane. And I have to hurry saying that nothing pleases me more than winter days flying by.  After an arctic blast from Christmas and all the way until January 10, we got enveloped by mild moist air from the south.
What seemed like frozen to the depth of the center of the earth thawed within 2 days and turned into a quagmire-style squeachy ground, punishing any attempt of walking in regular shoes with wet feet.
At least the snow disappeared completely. But mother nature doesn’t leave us any hopes towards an early spring. We woke to 50F this morning reaching almost 60F at noon, just to start a fast race to way below freezing in a couple of afternoon hours. By now, we are back to 19F and a windchill way below that.
1-DSC_0811A sudden snow shower creating near white-out conditions, lasting only 10 minutes, below the same scene only minutes after.
Since the mild spell was accompanied by tons of rain we basically had to remain inside the house. Dixie went for her little excursions while the rain took a break from pouring down on us.
Speaking of rain, we also discovered we had a creek and a lake in our basement today. The water ran down along the concrete foundation gurgling through little cracks accumulating to about 4” of water. Ever since it had been arctic cold we had a space heater in the basement to protect our waterlines from freezing. Today, it was time to go rescue that heater from getting submerged by the flood. Good thing it had not been plugged in otherwise we would have had a short, since the extension cord plug-in was actually under water.
Once we have summer and dry weather, I am facing a major digging into the depth of the ground along the foundation to create a drain for the surface water and to cover the outside with plastic against further water intrusion. Something to look forward to. NOT.

Dixie is still putting on pound after pound and she has now reached the size of Molly, even though she is still not that heavy. She is eating almost 3 times as much as Molly did!
Much to Bea’s aversion, I have allowed Dixie to be on my couch (and only mine) where she either curls up or stretches out for delightful napping, while I read a book.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

U.S. Couple Fleeing Trump Arrive In Halifax

It’s certainly not something every American can do but some, young enough, seem to have the drive to do what they desire – moving to Canada. And once they discover the free health care….they’re gonna stick around. Well done, folks.

CBC Nova Scotia

'There's a political motivation to it, but it's become so much more than that now'

By Emma Davie, CBC News Posted: Jan 10, 2018 6:00 AM AT Last Updated: Jan 10, 2018 6:00 AM AT

Heather Vargas and her husband Robin Vargas have made the 2,600-kilometre trek to their new home in Halifax with their dog Kingsley in tow.

Heather Vargas and her husband Robin Vargas have made the 2,600-kilometre trek to their new home in Halifax with their dog Kingsley in tow. (Emma Davie/CBC)

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Heather and Robin Vargas are the kind of people who stay true to their word.

So when the American couple said they were packing up and moving 2,600 kilometres to Halifax in time to celebrate the new year, they meant it.

After a 35-hour drive from Charleston, S.C., the couple rolled into Halifax at 6 a.m. on Dec. 31 with two cars, a U-Haul and their dog Kingsley.

Heather and Robin Vargas Uhaul

The couple unpacked their boxes in freezing weather after they arrived in Halifax. (Robin Vargas)

​"Every now and then, it will hit me a little bit. I'll look at him and be like, 'We made it,'" said 30-year-old Heather Vargas. "When we wake up on our Canadian couch in our Canadian apartment and we're like, 'We actually did this.'

"I knew moving in January to this climate was going to be different. But we had the polar vortex greet us our first week up here. So I think now that we've experienced that, anything else we're OK with."

Her husband, Robin, added: "I couldn't feel my face after five minutes. It was pretty cold."

'We should move to Canada'

The idea to move north started as a joke on the night Donald Trump was voted in as the 45th U.S. president.

"It just felt surreal up until that night. And then it continued to feel surreal every day moving forward. You turn on the news and it's like a reality show that is your reality," said Heather Vargas. "We said, 'We should move to Canada.'"

Vargas apartment boxes

The couple had a lot of unpacking to do the first few days in Halifax. (Robin Vargas)

They were among the 200,000 or so people that crashed Canada's immigration website on election night.

But the next day, the couple, who are originally from Arkansas, returned to the website and started to research if — and how — they could really do this.

More than just politics

As they began to learn more about the country — and in particular Halifax — Robin Vargas said leaving the United States became about more than just politics.

"There were just a few things that weren't for us.… I don't want to say it's completely Trump — that was a motivating factor for sure — but it was more of an adventure to come out here and try something new," the 33-year-old said.

Family and friends thought the idea was "a little crazy," said Robin. Everyone rolled their eyes at first, said Heather.

"Some of them are very supportive. They say, 'We think this is the bravest thing you've ever done, we support you.' Some of them are taking bets on how long we'll last," said Heather, laughing.

Heather Vargas in Halifax

Heather Vargas and her husband Robin Vargas pose on Spring Garden Road in Halifax in April, when they visited the city for the first time. (Robin Vargas)

The couple visited Halifax last spring before applying for, and eventually receiving, permanent residency.

This means they can partake in everything except voting in Canadian elections. But Heather said they still plan to vote in the next U.S. election from abroad.

Unpacking, making friends

On top of dealing with their first storm, the couple has spent their first week in Halifax unpacking, getting drivers' licences, car registrations, health cards and furniture for their new home.

"We discovered Ikea, which has been dangerous but super fun to have that in your town," Heather Vargas said.

Heather and Robin Vargas unpacking

Heather Vargas and her husband Robin Vargas unpack in their new Halifax apartment. (CBC)

While they didn't know anyone in Halifax before moving, thanks to a CBC article this summer, many people reached out to offer support and advice, she said.

"We established online friendships and now that we're in the city, we've already gone out to drinks with some of them," she said.

Her husband added: "The people are hands-down just amazing.… If you have any questions, people are just so quick to say, 'Oh here, let me help you out.' We're not used to that."

Applying for jobs

They've also been busy applying for jobs and said they each have a few interviews lined up.

"This is more or less a gamble for us, but we've always had a pretty hard work ethic. We try to do the best we can with any situation that we have and we've always held out pretty well," Robin Vargas said.

Heather and Robin vargas first beer

Heather Vargas and Robin Vargas toast their new home in Halifax. (Robin Vargas)

In three years, the couple will be able to apply for Canadian citizenship.

And they're planning to stick around — even if a new U.S. president is elected.

"We just have this genuine love for the society, the type of country Canada is, and its politics and its government," Heather Vargas said.

"Of course there's a political motivation to it," added Robin Vargas. "But it's become so much more than that now.

"We honestly couldn't have picked a better place to move to to really try this new adventure."

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Storm And The Old Brine Shed

Just a few weeks ago I was writing about the Little Town across the border and its past history of fishing and fish processing.
1-20170904_141149One of the really old buildings from that time was the brine shed, built on pilings high above the water. Occasionally we have seen the water of the high tides reaching to the floor boards of the building. And I think most people realized that it would only be a matter of time until it would be gone.

Now it is gone, indeed.

It was the winter storm of the past days which “took care” of it. The pilings gave way and the entire building started floating freely. 1-Brine Shed                First landing in Lubec. FDR-Bridge in background

At first it settled on the beach in Lubec, but the next high tide floated it off. Under the bridge it went and then landed on the Canadian side below the highwater mark in the Roosevelt Campobello International Park.
1-DSC_0760-001There it sits, with a chimney of bricks and a lot of loose debris spread all around.
1-DSC_07631-DSC_0764Even a conveyer belt of steel followed with it.
1-DSC_0758As a result it’s going to be an “International Incident” where the legal situation for ownership and cleanup comes into the picture.  Thou we shalt not speculate about the outcome here and now. Just try to keep Trump out of it. He would send the military and threaten nuclear destruction.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Heeelp…It’s Freeeezing…….

Holy cow….this morning opening the door gave me a scare. I was hit with an ice cold force, kind of blowing me right back inside. What the heck was this?  Thermometer showed minus 22C again, but there was this ferocious mind-chilling blast out there which brought the temps down to…..-35 (at least)
1-FrostLetting out Dixie in this condition, was not an option. And as I turned around, mindful
Dixie had already retreated into the living room where a fire was making attempts to warm up the room.
While the US eastcoast had received more than a fair share of snow, we just got rain. Rain froze to ice making for great skating rinks. Of course nobody is out there, not yet.
Neighbours are not to be seen unless driving by in their cars.
Yesterday, we were still on the beach – for a short visit, today, that would be suicide.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Meaning Of Bannon Vs. Trump

David Leonhardt

David Leonhardt

Op-Ed Columnist

Two quick thoughts on the Steve Bannon-President Trump feud:

One, it’s a sign of the apparent seriousness of the Russia investigation for Trump’s family and inner circle. The insults got the attention, but the more significant part of Bannon’s remarks may be the “logical, cold-eyed recognition” that prosecutors are building a powerful case, notes Errol Louis at CNN.

Two, the feud is a reminder that Bannon has failed to accomplish his biggest ambition: Expanding the Republican coalition to include many more middle-class and working-class voters. “Steve Bannon had a chance to be a genuinely significant figure in American politics and he blew it,” my colleague Ross Douthat wrote on Twitter.

Democracy. Later this month, an alarmingly titled book, “How Democracies Die,” written by two political scientists, will be published. It is, as the book’s promotional material states, “a bracing, revelatory look at the demise of liberal democracies around the world — and a road map for rescuing our own.”

That last part seems the most important. I remain optimistic that the Trump presidency will turn out to be a phase rather than a turning point in American history. But it would be foolish to dismiss the threats to our system of government. They’re greater than I ever expected to see.

One recent example: In his interview with The Times last week, President Trump spoke admiringly of obviously autocratic tactics, such as using law enforcement as a raw exercise of power. “The president,” as Jonathan Chait points out, “explained his belief that the Department of Justice on principle ought to cover up crimes by the president and his administration.” Trump clearly believes that he deserves to be above the rule of law.

So what does “How Democracies Die” — by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both of Harvard — say about how the country should respond to an aspiring autocrat?

The first and most important line of defense, they say, is Trump’s own party. In other countries, would-be authoritarians have often been stopped (or further empowered) by their own party. “Most Republican leaders seem to know that Trump is grossly unfit for office,” Levitsky and Ziblatt write (in a joint Q&A at the bottom of this web page). Yet “few Republicans have been willing to state publicly what most of them surely know: the Emperor has no clothes. Fear and opportunism have prevailed over the defense of our country and its democratic institutions.”

Unless the Republican Party becomes more willing to stand up to Trump — and I deeply hope it will if he tries to obstruct the Russia investigation further — the next best hope lies with electing more Democrats. Doing so will require energizing liberals, of course. But it will also mean realizing that the current situation is too important for ideological purity.

Levitsky and Ziblatt write: “Mobilizing the vote in 2018 and 2020 is essential. But there is something else that ordinary Americans must do: Try to build broader coalitions in defense of democracy. To ensure democracy’s survival, we must build alliances that extend beyond traditional party lines. For liberals, this means forging perhaps uncomfortable alliances — with right-of-center businesspeople, evangelical Christians, and dissident conservatives, among others. A blue-state coalition is simply not enough. This is often hard work, and it involves compromise. But an awful lot is at stake.”

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

When The Cold Finally Broke

It’s like we almost got used to it. Just the other day a neighbour told me “You look like you are going to the arctic”. Hell…I have been LIVING in the arctic for most of December. Well, arctic temperatures, that is.

But today the cold broke, giving us all a break to breathe and get the bodies moving again. We took off right after lunch, packed up the little Dixie-Pixie and entered the sunny beach where I could actually feel the warming sunrays through my thick jacket.


Folks, I tell you it was like summer had broken out.


Dixie finding “treasures”

Dixie was rocketing back and forth and it was obvious that she too enjoyed the change in temperatures.       1-DSC_0613                                                The big root                   

What the temperature was?  Well, just above freezing, but there was no wind. When you move from –22C to above freezing, ANYTHING feels like summer. Friendly waves lapping ashore, the tide was just receding, it was GORGEOUS.


BUT….it’s all gonna change again tomorrow. Winds are expected at more than 75km/hr. and we will be drenched first in rain and later inundated with lots of snow. How much, I don’t want to speculate in, but it could be substantial.
We are prepared for power outages and have stocked up with food and water.

CNN is speaking of a monster winter cyclone, but I’ll take that with a little salt. Usually, it doesn’t get that bad around these parts.

Enjoy where ever you might be!