Pathogen Picnic Days

March 13. Covid-19 “pandemic”. People are nuts. You can’t get a roll of toilet tissue in this town now. Shelves are empty. What the hell do they plan to do with it? Eat it?

March 16. I’d say most people are looking forward to this pandemic dealy being over soon but no expert can be found who will predict that. It’s like the world is learning to ride some weird new bicycle. It’s never been done by the world so it’s something new that it’s learning. There’ll be a mishap or two before the world gets up on that bike and rides.
We scored two 12 roll packs of toilet tissue at the Shopper’s Drug Mart on Dunbar Street. We’re living large. We’ve defeated the hoarders and closed all the borders. I feel a song coming on.

March 18. Things keep getting stupider. What’s closing next? Booze stores? What an unimaginable catastrophe that would be for the drinking classes. I’m telling you, friend, this whole thing is unprecedented in my long event filled life. Something like this happens and you feel pretty small.

March 19. Businesses are closed, banks. We can take out at coffee shops but can’t lounge around inside. We’re all right. I drove out for an hour late morning on deserted streets. Things have a small town feel to them. Let’s work together and keep it that way. Danger equals opportunity, I just don’t know how. Things are decidedly “in an abundance of caution.” International travel is shutting down. We’re not shutting down. We’re open for business. Fly with us. It all comes back to we’re human. We’re vulnerable. We’re living organisms subject to the whims of pathogens. Pathogens. They make a cool sound. Ladies and gentleman—The Pathogens!
The provincial Health Minister and Provincial Health Officer are giving daily briefings at 3 p.m. So for today there are 40 new confirmed cases in British Columbia to bring the total to 271 with one additional death to bring the total to 10. 22 cases are on Vancouver Island.

March 21, 2020. BC cases are at 424. More testing is being done so the number spikes. Track down and shoot the Pathogens on sight. It’s the strange general uncertainty we feel and a kind of bewildered, but not overly bewildered, we’ll save that for later, but amazed, thoroughly amazed feeling at how amazingly fast, how quickly this strange situation has hit. It’s all come down in one week. This is science fiction year. I predicted it, right? Not right. I’ve just spent the entire afternoon scanning newspaper sites. Shame on me. It’s 5 p.m.IMG_6092

March 22. “We are seeing some unsettling images in our corridor in regards to the lack of social distancing and measures to #FlattenTheCurve of COVID-19. We can only watch with extensive concern for our communities health and safety,” the RCMP tweeted along with photos of packed parking lots at Stawamus Chief Park.” Vancouver Sun.

March 23. We straggle on. “Self-isolating” today. New concept. “Social distancing.” Tomorrow, we go out. We’ll meet any challenge. But today we self-isolate. It’s fun to cooperate. This is the second time in four days we’ve done this so we’re doing our part as the prime minister has requested I think it was yesterday? Time blurs in self isolation. I mean all the time.
I just want to reassure people out there that Santa Claus will pull through. ICU is just a way station to a better life upstairs in the chapel on the second floor. Says “Hi.”

March 24. Day after dreary day of this Covid thing. And all we hear is it’s only the beginning. It can’t be because a great number of people are in process of going broke fast. Not us, fortunately, just yet, but many are feeling the financial squeeze starting. It’s not good. Not pleasant. Been there done that. Overrated as to an experience.
The provincial health officer doing her daily 3 p.m. (except Sundays) briefing. 145 new cases in the last 24 hours to bring the total to 617. The number for the country is around 2500, three times what it was four days ago. This is the bizarre-ist thing.
I look at people askance now as to whether or not they might have the plague. I’m far from the only one. There’s vastly fewer people about and plenty of parking on usually heavily car-ed main streets. We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing during this outbreak and wasting a lot less time looking for parking. So that’s good.IMG_3328

March 25. I’m not even writing grocery lists on my hand anymore. I’ve gone to paper. Things feel a bit cuckoo. That’s a euphemism for another word that can’t be here because it’s been quarantined. Like those cruise ships. “It’s Pathogen Picnic Days brought to you by Carnival®. Today’s major events include our “Haven’t a Hope or a Prayer” barbecue starting at high noon right after the coffin races.”

March 26, 2020. Covid capers past half a million as of today with the mighty United States coming out of nowhere to rocket into the country lead at something over 80,000 cases, surpassing former top dog the People’s Republic of China. Our country has cruised into the 4300 range and showing no signs of not going higher. There’s just no quit in us.
There were very few people on the False Creek seawall in wet conditions as I proceeded further east. What would happen if False creek turned out actually to be true? And all these years everybody was wrong?  That there’s nothing false about it.  Strangers were dutifully keeping their interval and there was plenty of room to give almost everybody passing by me a wide berth as per the prescription.

March 27. The world is heading for 600,000 confirmed cases and Canada is at 4700 or so. 5:30 p.m. Rain and the wetness rain brings. Things are quiet. Nice and quiet. We think our rat or rats have finally exterminated themselves on our service providers tasty poison in the black plastic lockable box. We had to get him back because the initial stuff didn’t taste good enough, I guess. It’s good to see them gone. They were digging up and devouring the spring bulbs my roof deck gardener had planted, some of them last winter. Disgraceful little pests. Shame on them. They paid a heavy price for their misdeeds.

March 28. The world has bucketed up past 660,000 confirmed cases and Canada, no slouch, is pushing up towards 6000. The United States is comfortably in the country lead with near 123,000 confirmed cases. Their sad president disgraces himself every day but it seems not a lot can be done about that. He’s a true sociopath although I’m not an expert. He’s telling state governors they better speak nice to him or no help from DC with the efforts they’re making. He’s such a hateful goof-ball. May the Lord God Goofy strike him down in his iniquity.

March 29. World cases 716,000, U.S. 137,000, Canada 6200. Nice day around here, Sunday now. Cool, and a few clouds but mainly sunny. March is staggering to an end. It seems like a very long month. But it does that anyway.

March 30. The world’s at 784,000. The States at 163,000 is expanding its league over Italy who’s at 101,700. Canada’s doing her beaver-ish part and is at 7400. It’s sobering. Waiter! Dos cervezas muy frio y una poquito bourbon doble. Muchas gracias! I think my Spanish is getting worse.
It’s depressing to read most of the comments on stories in the press, if the particular site is doing comments, some papers have stopped, that are obviously composed by bots or individuals, and if individuals obviously individuals drooling in ecstasy as they compose their paranoid, sadistic, negative conspiracy theory riddled comments unless they’re in someone’s pay to do that. Those ones go home and drool. It’s a sick world sometimes. Downtown stores have boarded up their windows because there’s been some smash and grabs and break and enters. Who are these sick pricks? Oh sorry, I forgot. We’re not supposed to use foul language around here. Fuck I hate some people and don’t get me started on bots. There I go again. Let’s see. Ten cents per infraction adds up to twenty cents in the language piggy. Just like that I’m down twenty. I hope this Covid thing winds up soon or I will be going broke.

March 31. 857,000 World cases across. United States in the lead with 188,000 with Canada creeping up to 8500. 43 new cases for British Columbia bring us up a little over 1000. More tests are being delivered so as night follows day more pathogens are being outed. If only it was just about the numbers. Unfortunately, the numbers represent individual people. We’ve heard from someone on southern Vancouver Island who had this thing and her comments mirror accounts people elsewhere have reported in news sources what it’s been like for them. This thing really does the nasty. Worse. I hope to be around in April. Right now I have to check my duplicate bridge scores.

Daffodil courtesy CS Nicol

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Thomson Park III

It’s a state of mind when you get to the third in the series and at the start you didn’t even know it was going to be a series.  Is this one any good? Does it suck?  Is there too much animation, cardboard plots and bad acting? What is it?  As a professional critic we get paid to get out to things otherwise we might not go.  We might do something else. But this one is pretty good.  It’s right up there with the others.

Thomson Park III is a hit!  Get down!  Get down there and get all over it!

By the strangest coincidence, the most bizarre concatenation of events all too common when you get right down to it, there’s an article in the current Saturna Scribbler about this selfsame patch of ground Thomson Park. Just when I’ve got another movie coming out.  That’s great.  Syncronicity is still out there.  I believe.

There it is in the distance, the “Thomson Park shelter structure” which needs to be improved, apparently, “so it better reflects the historic, social and even spiritual values of this place.”

I just wonder what that can possibly actually mean?  It’s looking like a bomb-proof heavy steel pavilion structure on a concrete pad with a bunch of big, solid picnic-type tables under a pyramidal green metal roof.  With barbecue. There’s no improving on that. But we understand that it’s all volunteer. That’s what we’re doing ourselves.

Thomson Park is a “site” apparently.  It has a “spacial configuration” and a “functionality over time” and a “broader context in which it played a role”.

I must pause to ask the author of the article what is meant by “deep history”?  Is there “shallow history”?  Is there “not too deep history”? There’s one kind of history.  But that’s enough of this.

Wild speculation that the population of the region may have been “one million” just sounds like bunk.  I’m sorry.  And on to the concept of “settler”.  I’ve seen this before.  This was invented, this idea of “settler” or “settler communities” by one person, somewhere, somehow, in a dark, bureaucratic hole of bureaucratic bs.

There is no “settler” and no “recent settler community” and never was. There are no “settlers” around here and never were.  It’s an academic invention with an agenda and time it was exposed.  It’s heartbreaking.

We need first of all better writing about “Thomson Park” and what it is and what it was before it was “Thomson Park”.  You can’t have lousy writing talking about a special place. It diminishes.  Everything is turned into highly unsanitary mush.  Let’s get with it.  My opinion.

That isn’t what we’re talking about here.


First Nations Logging Show III

Oh deer, what is happening to my habitat?  Make them stop, mother.

We left Bob Stanley in good shape at the foot of Fiddler Rd.  We said “hi” again and told him we had to head back to civilization.  Everybody laughs at that joke and Bob was no exception.  Practically overnight he’d become like a diplomat and a diplomat trying to stay warm standing around all day in this beautiful cool, clear skies week.

He’d had to interact with all sorts of wonderful people with different, wonderful opinions on what was going on here and he was getting through it.  He was okay. He seemed to be a man of many moods, all of them good and the feeling emerged he’d been exactly the man for the job. Good on him and good on good old Campbell River where Bob’s from. Woo woo!

Mad Micky Packs It July 26

Nobody called him that.  “Mad”.  Except my father-in-law whose mother, Amelia, was Edward “Mick” Mannock’s cousin.  “Micky” yes, but surely not “mad”.  I was re-reading ole father-in-law’s autobiography after 20 years, one of 37 books he published, and I didn’t recall him calling him that from the first read-through so it stuck out.  Everything’s twenty years.

Major Mannock 1918

But today, July 26, 1918, it’s “Major Mannock”.  But it’s still good ole “Mick” to friends unless they’re dead.  Dreary stuff, Eleanor.  I seem to have taken over 85 squadron at St. Omer, France.  Why would anyone want to do a thing like that?

It’s all getting a bit vieux chapeau, Gertrude.  Stupid war.  All this bloody killing. 1918 and we’re still bloody going at it. I’ve had it.

I’m not sure why a “Major.”  What else have I been wrong about?  He was too modest.  Staff sergeant Milliby said: “If you’ve been gazetted a major, Major, then you’re bloody well a major.”  So that’s the reason why.


Mick didn’t take a course in killing German airmen in WWI.  He was self-taught.  He killed with a ferocious efficiency.  Early on at 40 Sqd. returning from a patrol the right wing on his plane fell off at 700 feet.  Rather than die he managed to crash land.  After that nobody wanted to talk about how Mannock didn’t know what he was doing.

Gentlemen, always above, seldom on the same level; never underneath.”

And don’t follow your kill down.  You can get shot up from the ground.  Especially true for Mannock because he always attacked from the east and his combats were always over German-held ground.  He was the top “Ace” of the Great War.


I have my own theory about what happened to Mick Mannock that cheerful July morning over the lines under low cloudcover at five am.   After those two bastard enemies in the German flying contraption were killed.  The Kiwi, Inglis, was in on it.

“Both my guns were going full out, when suddenly the Hun’s tail shot up in front of me.  A chill ran through me as I pulled up, just missing his tail and wing by a fraction.  Looking back I saw my first Hun going down in a mass of flames.”


The Blue Flame

It was a special trip because the squadron usually didn’t open much before 8 a.m.  But Inglis needed a first Hun and the major, who by now wasn’t just a legend in his own mind but a greatly respected leader and teacher, and, sine qua non, survivor, wanted to help the Hun-less flyer out. Of course he did.

“We circled once and started for home.  The realization came to me we were being shot at from the ground when I saw the major stop kicking his rudder.  Suddenly a small flame appeared on the right of Mick’s machine, and simultaneously he stopped kicking his rudder.  The plane went into a slow right-hand turn, the flame growing in intensity, and as the machine hit the ground it burst into a mass of flame.”

“I saw no one leave the machine and then started for the lines, climbing slightly and at about 150 feet there was a bang and I was smothered in petrol, my engine cut out so I switched off and made a landing 5 yards behind our front line.”

Nice Pants

That’s not Mick, of course.  He’s dead even if it is only five-thirty in the morning.  That’s the after action report of Inglis, who’d come all the way from the southern hemisphere to give battle, but hadn’t killed anybody before this morning.

It’s quite evident.  It’s never been precisely determined where the Germans buried the major’s body. It’s another one of those things that happened 100 years ago.  Birth, death, it’s all the same.  If things had gone a bit different, and Major M. had got through this morning, he could still be alive.


Quotes from “MANNOCK The Life and Death of Major Edward Mannock VC, DSO, MC, RAF.  By Norman Franks and Andy Saunders. Published 2008.