Homesteading is tough on relationships, I think.

I think a lot about how some people are idealistic about going back to simple ways of living, doing the whole homestead thing, only to discover it’s a dang hard way of life. I particularly notice it often spells the end of the couple who decided to try homesteading out, and that makes me wonder how humans had families and lived off the land for hundreds, thousands of years, long before we had grocery stores and office jobs. People used to pull it off so why are we so lousy at it now?

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It seems idyllic but the truth is far from it, it appears.

I have to add a disclaimer that, like everything else, I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I’ve just seen several documentaries and read articles, some from the 60’s when there was a big homesteading movement among the hippies, and some more recent ones from the 2010’s, and am basing my opinions off of those. In them, the vast majority of the couples covered wound up splitting within two years of starting the homesteading dream. All the couples said that it was way harder and more work than they had envisioned, and they ended up disagreeing and arguing with their partners a lot. Sometimes they’d split and both quit homesteading, sometimes they’d split and one would leave while the other would stick with it. But probably 90% of the time, the couple split.

At times, I’ve definitely felt drawn to the idea of pulling out from society and eking out a simple life in the woods somewhere. I mean, humans are awful. Human society is even worse. It’s twisted and often doesn’t make any sense. There are so many times I’m disgusted with it and the part I play in it that I just want to withdraw completely from it.

Plus I think it would be really gratifying to be totally self-sufficient. I would feel immense pride in not relying on grocery stores for prepackaged food, and monstrous corporations for electricity.

But that “oh boy, it would be so nice” daydream of homesteading neglects to take into account the countless hours and frustrations of building, maintaining, gardening, hunting, working hard all day, every day, and making do with minimal amenities. And it pains me to admit it but not interacting with other people very often would actually really suck — even for a loathsome jackoff like myself, it’s important to chat with other people and feel some kind of connection.

And when it comes down to it, I think just having your partner (and maybe a kid or two) isn’t enough of a social life for most people. We need people we can vent to, people to commiserate with us about things that piss us off. Without friends, it would be too difficult to compartmentalize all the bad feelings and lingering frustrations toward your partner that would occur throughout a grueling 7-day work week — come evening, I’d still be pissed at them for over-watering the vegetables, and they’d still be pissed at me for being a control freak. There would be so many events like those on a daily basis that eventually the relationship would be made of more bad feelings than good, and it would break.

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Looks like a real hoot

But it didn’t used to be like that. A couple would stick it out back in the black and white photo days. But how? I’m inclined to say there was a larger power imbalance then and the woman simply had to accept her husband’s whims or get the shit beat out of her. Divorce was also not a widely accepted thing then either. The kids were probably as terrified of their father as his wife would have been too. Each family was probably like a miniature dictatorship.

I think that’s how families stuck together through homesteading way back when — through fear and iron-fisted ruling. Once people moved away from that approach to it, once they had the freedom to say “I’m not happy with how this is going” and to leave the situation, they opted for it. So I guess that makes sense. It’s not that people are bigger wimps now than they used to be (well, people definitely are, but I think that’s a secondary issue), it’s more that people no longer feel trapped in whatever life they have ended up in. People realize now that they can leave a bad situation, that there’s no point in sticking it out if they’re miserable.

And I think that’s a good thing. It’s sad because I want to believe that the young idealistic couple will always persevere and triumph, but I’ll settle for the notion that they’re wiser and better at choosing happiness over staying together and being miserable for it.

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Living daily life in a Hawaiian vacation state of mind

I’ve been to the Hawaiian island of Kauai a few times, and while I am not a fan of sun and heat, I am a huge fan of the way a lot of people there live. I’ve consistently seen folks of Kauai being kinder and more courteous than people anywhere else in North America, even in high tension situations like rush hour traffic. I’ve also seen lots of large families having get-togethers and bbq’s on the beach — they seem to really value quality time together. And I’ve seen a lot of older people being really active, like surfing and even doing sit-ups at the beach.

I think all of that is amazing. Those are things that I value greatly, and things that I feel get lost in the hectic madness of the North American world. We’re always so busy trying to get ahead, get better jobs, make more money, and buy nicer stuff, that we neglect the stuff that actually makes us happier — like being kind, spending time with people we care about, doing fun things, and staying fit and active.

But what I don’t understand is that most people go to places like Hawaii for vacations to get just a short taste of what life is like when those things are prioritized over rat race stuff. They spend a week there, relax, have a great time…and then head home and jump right back into the rat race.

If people like the pace of life while they’re on vacation in Hawaii, if they like it so much that it’s what they want to escape to when they have some time off, why don’t they just incorporate some qualities of Hawaiian/vacation living into their daily lives so they get small doses of it all the time?

I don’t know. I think probably because we don’t want to stand out from our suburban neighbours and look like some sort of lazy hippie weirdos. And I think it’s tough to change your habits. And I think most people aren’t self-aware enough to realize that they could be much happier and healthier.

Personally, I think most of us would benefit from a bit more of a Hawaiian vacation approach to our entire lives.

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I looked up “family on vacation” pics and found this. Not what I had in mind but I’ll run with it.

annoyed with phony losers

I came across this video. I hate it.

I hate it because all of the people in it look like fucking losers. But they don’t look like losers because they are hippies — they look like losers because they seem like they are trying too hard to be hippies. I mean, the guy’s sparse and scraggly beard, greasy hair, hideous sweater…the first girl looks like a normal human at first glance…the second girl is also wearing a hideous sweater, and a ridiculous haircut reminiscent of Spike from the original Degrassi Junior High series:

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Except that it looked genuine and kind of cool on Spike.

So the rag-tag gang in the video wasn’t off to a good start with their lousy fashion sense, but this is what really enrages me: at 1:40 of the vid, the first girl takes a few slugs of the spring water she and her friends are so into. The guy asks her how it tastes — a stupid question since water doesn’t have any taste — and she shakes her head briefly, as if it’s so good that you’d have to taste this water for yourself to truly understand how incredibly delicious it is. Then she responds like any good hippie would: “like heaven.” The guy chortles a “huh huh huh” in typical stoner fashion. The trio then proceeds to fill about 100 water jugs with the stuff, as if this is the elixir of life, as if no other water can compare to it.

This makes me sick. Nobody is this into water, because the only people that act like this about it are people who are trying to be something they aren’t, people who are uncomfortable in their own skin, people who have bought into a stereotype. Their behaviour is just as ridiculous and disingenuous as a metal head wearing sunglasses in a grocery store, giving the devil horns and saying “rock on” to the cashier as he leaves. It’s juvenile, childish, pitiful. These wannabe hippies are slightly less obvious than the metal head example but make no mistake, they are the same lost souls, grasping desperately for an identity.

People are pathetic.

As if that wasn’t enough, when I clicked to see what other lame videos the uploader had posted to youtube, I saw that the long-haired gent in the video has also made a bunch of dumb vids on ayahuasca retreats, searching for your passion, living life with less rules, and water fasting — all complete bullshit. Wow. It’s funny because I was just chatting with someone about how annoying it is when people talk about doing ayahuasca as if they’re not just doing drugs — let’s call a spade a spade, you’re going to the woods or desert to do drugs. That’s fine, there’s no shame in that. At least, not until you get all pompous about it and act like it’s actually a very important spiritual journey. Do that and your drug retreat suddenly becomes really fucking stupid.

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I want to take videos of people when they’re super high on drugs so that they can watch them after they sober up. Maybe when they see how gross they are and hear the ludicrous, nonsensical shit they say when they’re high, they’ll have a more accurate assessment of their experience.

Worthy of note is that I have drank the water from the spring featured in the video that sparked this rant. I can say from experience it tastes completely neutral — zero taste. Which is good, because that’s how water is supposed to taste, but would I call that “heavenly”? I don’t think I ever would. I think that’s a silly adjective for such a thing.

it’s tough to be passionate about stuff but bite your tongue when talking to people who don’t feel the same way as you

the other day, a friend of mine made a joke about not giving a shit about something that i personally care about a lot, and i’ve been thinking about it since. the joke was funny and all but i haven’t been able to stop wondering how serious they were. the boring, loathsome part of me that no one wants to spend any time with wanted to tell my friend that i hoped they were 100% joking since the topic is one i think everyone should pay more attention to.

of course, i’m glad i didn’t say something stupid like that because that’s the kind of shit that costs you friendships and turns you into a weird, isolated, militant hippie, living alone on a gulf island. i care a lot about a lot of shit but i don’t want to end up like one of those bitter souls.

and that’s what got me here now. i think it’s a real conundrum because if you are passionate about stuff, you will either chew people’s ears off with your “the world is a festering piece of shit” act which isolates you from most normal people, or you will hear something that offends you but you will deny what you feel in your heart and shove the venom back down into your guts, your face twisting into an uncomfortable mixture of a fake smile and a grimace as you sweat like a mad bastard with scorn for yourself, everyone around you, and the whole fucking world.

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both of those options are the shits.

meanwhile, the easy-going and carefree are doubly blessed: the less they care about weighty issues, the happier they are, and the happier they are, the more people like them — happy, popular, and blissfully ignorant. life is swell for the cheerful pricks.

the miserable become more miserable, the happy become more happy. it makes sense but it doesn’t seem right or just to me.

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it’s only downhill from here.

i’ve had some good craigslist experiences lately

In the last few weeks, I’ve really kicked my craigslist vintage shopping into high gear. I’ve been checking a few craigslist-like sites for vintage shit on an almost daily basis, and the results have actually been great. I’ve scored some really neat things at good prices but what is most noteworthy is that a few of the recent craigslist interactions have not been total fuck-arounds. Astounding, I know, but true.

First, several weeks ago I contacted a guy about some beautiful old vintage tins he had for sale. There were very reasonably priced, and the seller ended up being a very interesting guy who was knowledgeable about a great many things, and his house was absolutely full of beautiful old stuff. Virtually everything I looked at was worthy of consideration. He was happy to show me a bunch of his neat stuff, and we commiserated about the trials and tribulations of dealing with craigslist dickheads. He hated them at least as much as me, possibly even more, so that was funny. I probably spent close to an hour just BS-ing with the guy. What a welcomed change that was from the usual craigslist freaks one must contend with.

Something this first guy said really resonated with me. He said he had accumulated tons of this vintage stuff throughout his life, and now as he is getting older, he decided it is better to sell it to ensure it gets into the hands of new owners who will hopefully cherish it as much as he did, rather than hold onto the stuff until he dies. Because when you die, he pointed out, your family doesn’t care about your vintage cookie tins. They’ve got a whole damn house to clean out before they can head back to Vancouver so they’re going to toss everything that is not obviously valuable in the trash. To someone like himself who cares about those items, that’s a sad waste of beautiful things. So, this fellow reasoned, he’d rather sell it now, make someone happy, and use the money to do something fun like take a trip at the end of the year. I loved it. Sage wisdom.

Second good recent experience: I posted something for free on the local used stuff site about a week ago and instead of the usual “gimme gimme gimme” responses that never follow up, someone came and picked the items up when they said they would. Wow!! They even emailed me afterward to thank me and tell me how sweet our dog was. That was lovely of them.

And third, today I had an experience similar to the first one I just mentioned. I bought a bunch of vintage xmas decorations from an older couple and spent about 30 minutes with them, chatting about the family history of the decorations I was buying — how and where they hung them, who in the family liked them most, how carefully her mother put them away each year, etc. They also took the time to show me how to set them up, which I really appreciated since some of these things were like a Rubick’s Cube. I ended up telling the old couple what the first guy had told me about getting these things into the hands of people that appreciate them instead of leaving it behind to get thrown out, and the old couple agreed wholeheartedly. So it’s been nice to connect with a few people through craigslist that I have some things in common with.

However, it’s not all roses, of course. The items I gave away for free to the grateful person were two partially used natural deodorants — it was sort of an experiment to see if anyone would actually want used deodorant (one time, Bill gave away a half-used bag of kitty litter and I always found that gross and wanted to outdo him) or if the ad would get pulled over breaking some kind of ‘no used personal hygiene items’ rule. So that was kind of interesting.

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Don’t put anything past a hippie, I learned.

And I did have a bad experience with some clown who had a cool old vintage vase that I wanted but they were terribly inconsistent about replying to emails, took multiple emails to give me the info I asked for right at the start, and then never answered their phone or responded to text messages. At one point in the middle of our two-week long back-and-forth, they apologized for their tardy reply and said they had been dealing with a family emergency for the last several days. I’ve been pretty clear on how I feel about the old ‘family emergency’ bullshit craigslist excuse so I pretty much gave up on the stupid fucks (shout out to golda for that little gem) after that.

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THE FUCKING VASE I WANT. JUST GIVE IT TO ME, PLEASE.

But shit, you can’t win ’em all, and with three good recent craigslist experiences, I really can’t complain. I’ll save that until next week when things go right back down the shitter in the usual craigslist fashion.

99.9% of the scents people put on their bodies are fucking gross

i hate how most cologne, perfume, body spray, deodorant, etc smells. i don’t care if it’s for grandmas or jersey shore-type douchebags or pretty girls, it virtually all sucks. there is only one time i remember smelling someone who put on a scent that actually made me go, “wow, that smells nice.” i was 19 at the time, it was my girlfriend, and she was wearing something that smelled like apples. it was a pleasant, recognizable scent, and it seems like a fitting one for a pretty girl. it just makes sense.

what doesn’t make sense is every other smell people put on. it all smells like a weird mix of chemicals, like a combination of pine needles and windex. that’s what most “nice stuff” smells like to me. it’s shit.

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“you smell good tonight, honey. what’s that scent you’re wearing?”

the exception, of course, is patchouli, which i despise only slightly less than all the chemical stuff i’m talking about. that stuff smells musty, like fucking mothballs, and it always reminds me of people who want to be considered hippies. that stuff sucks too.

i have always wondered why there aren’t perfumes and deodorants for smells and tastes i enjoy — like chocolate, or vanilla, or black licorice. or like i just mentioned, apples! why in 37 years have i only noticed one person smelling like apples? or any other fucking fruit, gee whiz. watermelon, strawberries, oranges, those would all be fantastic. i’d love to get close to a girl and smell any one of those things.

but for all this bitching, i have to admit i’ve recently come across a few deodorants that i actually like the smell of. one was an old spice deodorant called ‘amber’ that smells like black currants so i was using that but only until my lovely friend golda sent me some natural deodorants THAT DON’T MAKE ME STINK WORSE THAN USUAL (most natural stuff tends to have that effect, i’ve found), and they actually smell good too. my fave of the lot smells like blackberries. the brand is called routine (what a horrible name for any product but i can forgive it because i like the stuff so much) and i highly recommend them for people who don’t want to smear heavy metals in their armpits each day, and also want to smell like something real, recognizable, and pleasing — instead of smelling like a fancy household cleaning agent.

working men to my rescue

i wanted to follow up on a post i made a while back about my search for ethical clothing that doesn’t look stupid on me. at the time, i was having zero luck and was really annoyed about it. but i’ve since found a good source for stuff like socks, underwear, and work shirts that are made in canada and the US: the working man’s store!

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this is the place.

not mark’s work wearhouse, you dummy. that’s not real working man shit. you don’t see filthy, stinking, bearded lumberjacks shopping there. in duncan, the real working man’s store is a-one safety & industrial supply. here is their website. they mostly sell stuff like high visibility gear and cork boots — shit that actual working men use. but they also sell socks and shit, and most of them are made here.

after i noticed that, i felt dumb for not thinking about it sooner. of course working men would care about buying domestic goods, what with all the ‘buy american’ and ‘ban raw log exports’ type of rhetoric they’re famous for. working men want to keep jobs in their home countries, and an unintentional but positive byproduct of making goods here is that canada and the US have much higher environmental and workplace standards than sweatshops in bangladesh. so by BUYING AMERICAN!! (or canadian) i’m able to financially support those higher standards that i value.

well, hot dog.

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step one down. now i just need to convince these domestic companies to make their cotton and shit organically, without harmful chemical pesticides and fertilizers. yeah right. but i’m still happy to have made any progress at all on this. i was down to basically wearing rags for undies and was considering going commando from now on.

jk, that’s gross.