I consider summer at Smilin' Dog Manor an opportunity to step away from, well, pretty much everything. Mostly though, it's a chance to step away from being connected. At least the way the internet has shaped and defined connectedness.
There are four ways to get connected in this part of the southern Cariboo, if you don't count hijacking a neighbour's signal. There is still excruciatingly slow dial-up internet. Remember that? Yes, it still exists. Not long ago, it was the only option and it made disconnecting easy.
There's something I assume is a satellite link that costs more than anyone not totally addicted to streaming video would be willing to pay.
There's heading into 100 Mile House—and that is the name of the nearest town—once a week to use the library's wifi, send in a column, check email and look to make sure some Nigerian prince hasn't wiped out my bank account.
And just a few years ago, voila, someone installed a cell tower near enough to connect to, discovered serendipitously when my Wonderful Wife's cell phone started to ring one day. That breakthrough made it possible to bootstrap via the phone's hotspot and have something like highish speed internet. Seemed like a good idea until we ran over the plan's data limit, at which point we discovered what people mean when they say Canadians pay some of the most exorbitant cellular fees in the world.
Which made it easier to remain more or less disconnected. And which is a long way of saying I'm woefully behind answering emails from people who feel they should ask me questions because I write this column ... which actually never asks for questions.
But some questions deserve an answer and if someone's challenged enough to ask me, well...
I'm struggling to live with the RMOW's watering restrictions. I've more or less let my lawn die and my car looks like crap. I guess I could live with that but then I read about hotels and restaurants running water all the time for free cooling with something called once-through cooling, wasting swimming poolsful of potable water. This doesn't seem fair. Does it?
Well, Confused, of course it's fair. You—and I hate to be the one to break it to you—aren't important enough to waste water. You're just a person, probably a workerbee. Heck, if you have a place to live, you should be grateful. Restaurants and hotels are important. Without them, we couldn't be a world-class resort municipality.
Oh, I know. Business has been booming now for a number of years. If ever there was a time to lay an expense of the business-crushing magnitude of $5,000 or so on them just to save a few swimming pools of treated water, this would be that time. But you fail to understand a basic point here, Confused. To be frank, I kind of miss that point too but I think it falls under the general category of greed.
I'm not sure why, as an interim step and an incentive to not drag their heels for another three years—at which time we may experience a downturn and give them something new/old to whine about—the RMOW doesn't slap a water surcharge on every business that runs one, or more, of these water wasters but there I go again, dreaming. Thus far, we have ample proof of what the muni means when it says it has an environmental strategy. It means they'll do whatever it takes ... as long as it doesn't affect business and only inconveniences unimportant residents. So just suck it up, Confused.
I live in a house with a bunch of other people. I don't want to tell you where but none of us have a car. What we have is a garbage problem. We had a bear coming around because it could smell the garbage and we got warned by bylaw. But we still haven't figured out a good way to get all the garbage to Nesters. They won't let us take it all on the bus—you are only allowed one small bag per ride—and the only time we tried to get a taxi the dude said, "no way."
This is a recurring problem in Tiny Town, Smelly. I'd like to say there's an easy solution, but the only easy solution I can think of is for you to leave town before you have a real bear problem. I know that sounds harsh but Whistler isn't for everybody and if you can't figure out a way to deal with your piles of garbage, maybe it isn't for you.
But being a helpful kind of guy, I've got a couple of suggestions you might find useful. Next time bylaw comes by, ask them to take your garbage. They have a car! That probably won't work, so another idea is leave your garbage at the nearest neighbour's house who has a car. I'd suggest doing this really early in the morning so it doesn't attract bears overnight. Ring the doorbell and run like hell. It's kind of like Trick-or-Treat in reverse.
Come to think of it, maybe leaving town is the best solution, Smelly.
I'm thinking of running for council this time around. Can I join the Never-Ending Party? There are some issues I'd really like to tackle, like housing and foreign home ownership and wasteful spending, the kind of things you've written about. What do you think?
Rarin' to Go
Let's start with the easy question, Rarin'. Yes, you can join the Never-Ending Party. In fact, you just did. That was the easy part.
While I hate to be the one to throw cold water on your desires for public service, I don't really know anything about you; how could I advise you? Oh yeah, that's never stopped me before. Well, first, Rarin', you labour under a delusion many who want to run for council labour under. Perhaps you've read the community charter and it's given you some quaint notion that the mayor and council actually set policy at the municipal level.
Staff set policy. Staff run things. Council just provides the illusion of democratic participation, silly. As a councillor, you'll be provided with a several-hundred page package on Thursday or Friday before a meeting on Tuesday. But don't worry. No one expects you to digest it. Besides, a lot of it is inaccurate. Shaded to lead you to the correct decision, which is to endorse whatever staff wants you to do.
But by all means, saddle up trusty Rocinante and have at those windmills. Somebody has to.