Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Republic of Denmanistan

The sign welcoming ferry passengers to Denman Island was altered for a short time last week to read: "Denmanistan". I can't think of a better place to form a self-reliant (sustainable) community (or country) than here. Denmanistan may not be such a bad idea.

Last weekend we went to the Denman Vegan Potluck, which featured two films... "winged Migration" and a student made film by a son of a Denman resident, about dumpster diving. It's always an entertaining evening at the potluck, talking to island residents about their lives and how they came to be here.

As the second half of our "home and home" series, we bolted over the to right coast for the "Barnacle Bash" on Thursday. It hammered rain all the way there, the whole time we were there, and all the way back on Friday. The Barnacle Bash is one event of many, celebrating the Whale Festival in Ucluelet and Tofino. Valdy was the headliner (as he was last year) and performed to a sell out crowd. Valdy is an excellent entertainer; singing, telling stories, and effortlessly playing guitar. It must be the red canvas running shoes that keep him young. Yup, I bought the 2003 double CD which Valdy signed for me. It was an evening of unlimited music, appies and wine. Not too tough to take! I'll have to look into the possibility of Valdy performing on Denman... It would be a perfect fit.

I was surprised to see this picture in the local paper... I think I look about 15 lbs lighter. Judging by the age of my son next to me, this would have been taken about 15 years ago.

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner
The average tax on a U.S. imported wine in BC is 117%!! This makes a $10 bottle of US wine hit the shelves at $26 here. This is pretty much a cash grab. Wines produced in this province are $2-4 cheaper per bottle in Alberta, we are being fleeced even when supporting the local wine industry. Yes, a whining wine guy... hence the violin player.
McLarens on The Lake 2002 (Australia) $12.99 Lots of red berry fruit from this Auzzie. Medium long finish and some tannins for cellaring. If I'm ever in Australia, this looks like a really nice place to visit.

Friday, March 16, 2007

It's a Taxing Time

Wednesday, there was an opening for seiners on Baynes Sound at the south end of the island. The nets went in the water at precisely ten a.m. and I assume closed an hour later as the fleet was heading back by 11:20. Oh yeah, we had blue skies for a change.

Yes, it’s time for a rant! Another rant, I'm sorry I'll try to get back on track next week with my happy-go-lucky attitude.
It’s a taxing time for all. As Revenue Canada gets their computer system working again, we’ve managed, (through my procrastination) to submit everything to an accountant in Courtenay. When I see the amount of taxes we pay (hidden and not) it brings out the little anarchist in me. The waste amazes me as governments at all levels gorge themselves on our tax dollars. I am honest to a fault and that’s my fault. Over this last year, I witnessed first hand the waste of taxpayers money in our court system. We have a Provincial Government that will do nothing of significance during their electoral term to improve our water, air, education or healthcare systems.
I am lucky enough to live in a vacation destination and consequently, have been smacked repeatedly by ferry rate increases because the service is not “self sufficient”. I want to hear what Whistler Residents would have to say, should they have to start paying to maintain one the most expensive pieces of highway in Canada. It really should pay for itself, and hey, user pays!
But I won’t be too hard on our provincial government because the Feds are too much fun. 2006 saw our Feds open Tatoo parlours in prisons, but nothing supersedes the “Dingwall” fiasco…. This should be a movie….
The following is an excerpt from the 2006 “Teddy Awards”…..Please read on…

Lifetime Achievement Teddy — David Dingwall:
The Academy of Taxers and Spenders is pleased to present its Lifetime Achievement Teddy to David Dingwall. Mr. Dingwall has relied on a steady dose of tax dollars for most of his career. First elected to the House of Commons in 1980, Mr. Dingwall held various cabinet portfolios under Jean Chr├ętien, including Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Public Works. His constituents elected him leading actor three more times but finally sent him packing in 1997. “But that only whet his appetite for taxpayers’ money even more,” said Kheiriddin.

After his defeat, Mr. Dingwall remained an Ottawa insider as a lobbyist. One of Jean Chr├ętien’s last acts as Prime Minister was to give his loyal friend a five-year appointment as President of the Royal Canadian Mint. Not only did this put Mr. Dingwall in charge of printing money, it seemed to give him a license to spend it as well. And at that, he was a natural.

Records show that in 2004, Mr. Dingwall and his top associates racked up $846,464 in expenses for wining and dining, traveling the globe, limousines rides, and country club memberships. Some of the gems included:

$133,037 in foreign and domestic travel

$14,487 in foreign and domestic dining (which included a Mint-staff dinner at a swanky Ottawa restaurant that cost $5,693)

$5,297 for golf membership fees

$5,998 for leased vehicles (including limousine services) despite having a car available for use from the Royal Canadian Mint
As head of the mint, David Dingwall was paid a paltry $277,000 a year – a salary that less than 1 percent of Canadians earn. No wonder public outrage followed when it was revealed that he still had the audacity to claim $1.09 for a newspaper, $1.79 for a bottle of water, $1.29 for a package of gum, and $6.04 for four Tim Horton’s coffees and a donut.

Surely, Mr. Dingwall’s disposable income provides him with the resources to pay for his own Dentyne, double-doubles and crullers? Apparently not. Despite a $20 per-diem to cover such incidentals, Mr. Dingwall still attempted to have taxpayers foot the bill.

Mr. Dingwall also received $350,000 for his supporting role in helping a Toronto-based pharmaceutical company secure $17.2-million in financing and grants through an Industry Canada Program, despite rules forbidding “success fees.”

The blatant disregard for taxpayers’ money finally caught up with Mr. Dingwall in September, 2005 when the allegations of ethical lapses and questionable spending forced him to resign as head of the Royal Canadian Mint, but to taxpayers’ dismay, this horror story gets worse.

While no one in the real world gets severance if they quit their job, David Dingwall is apparently the exception. When questioned about his expenses at a House of Commons committee, David Dingwall was asked whether he thought he should receive a severance. Mr. Dingwall uttered the now infamous, “I am entitled to my entitlements,” enraging taxpayers further. But as his last film ends Mr. Dingwall is laughing when in late January, 2006 he is awarded $417,780 in severance.

In the closing credits it is learned David Dingwall will “Ding” taxpayers for years to come as his parliamentary pension is currently valued at over $77,000 per year and will pay him $1.9-million in lifetime benefits.

OK, Back to Island Life....Last Friday, we went to a Classical Guitar Concert, featuring Daniel Bolshoy.
Although classical guitar isn't my thing, I enjoyed the concert and can certainly appreciate the talent it takes to master an instrument as this young fellow had. For the most part it sounded like there were two guitar players...? The concert was fairly well attended, as most concerts of this calibre are on Denman. This was a high-end gig at $15 bones.

For those of you that have seen "An inconvenient Truth", have a look at this video for a different slant on things.... What tics me off about this film is, it doesn't go on to say that although we may not be causing global warming, we're finding lots of other ways to screw up our planet. Grab some popcorn and give it a go.

It's hard to believe, but Curt has written 2 weeks in a row! Here ya go..... "WEre back from Tauranga and sound..
We spent our days boogieboarding in 4 ft. swells at Papamoa beach- some pretty sick rides and some war wounds on Denise's stomach..haha- some of her family got out of the water, scared that the blood would attract sharks, when Denise refused to let her wounds keep her from the waves. We also took a guided Kayak tour through Mclaren park...but get this= we were supplied with wine and cheese until the lighting was just right to go kayaking....we didnt realize that the lighting would have to be completely pitch black! We literally kayaked on a lake when we couldn't see 6 feet in front of us...our lead guide kayaked ahead 50 ft. and shined his torch as a signal to paddle towards where he was at. Anyways ..the climax of the tour was of course the amazing canyon of glowworms we floated through before heading back into the darkness..
Were now back at Pai's house relaxing by the ocean and planning a trip around Cape Kidnappers...a world-famous place to view a rare Gannet Colony's nesting grounds and to check out some pretty insane fault lines that would send MR. Colman over the edge.
Anywho..were ok and it sounds like you are too; island life sounds spectacular.....

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner
There was lots of wine to be tasted this week from a wide variety of countries. Let's get started.... Thanks to company, we were able to open more bargains than usual.

Flor do Crasto Douro 2004 (Portugal) $13.99
Several wine review sites have endorsed this wine recently. It is touted as a best buy, but there is no supply on the east coast of Van Isle. When my sister called and asked if there was anything she could bring, I suggested a stop in Port Alberni to pick up a bottle. Bingo! We opened this wine about 20 mins before tasting. It was a nice mix of a rustic, old world style with a healthy dose of fruit, topped off with a longish finish. Well worth the money, if you can find it.

Gallo Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
(USA) $18.99
I know what you're thinking....Cheap Dave, what's with this $19 wine? What can I say? I heard about this wine and it had decent reviews for a wine at this price point. The nose on this wine was very inviting and smokey, with a good quantity of fruit, but not a fruit bomb. It had a ton of that cedar, cigar, smokey taste that I love from Cali Cabs, but what happened to the finish? This wine teased you with lots of promise, but there was just no finish. It's the cab that dumped you on the side of the road and refused to take you home, even though you'd paid the fare in advance. At this price, I think I'll have to PASS. Damn, I really wanted to like this wine.

Cono Sur Viognier 2006 (Chile) $10.99 I first tried this wine back in November and it instantly became one of my favorite white wines. This Viognier has a buttery cream feel with lots of citrus, not over-oaked, (and as my sister pointed out, lots of front end anise). If you're turned off by the screw-cap, hide the bottle and serve it to your friends. A great wine and a great price! Also reviewed in last week's Vancouver Sun..and that usually means there will be a run on some quick. Gismondi- "The quirky factor for Cono Sur Viognier Limited Release 2006 is how the hell do they do it for the price? The nose is all lime, mineral, mango and honey aromas. It is round and rich with elegance and moderate acidity. The flavours mix a ridiculous amount of spicy, ginger, orange peel, honey and mineral for the price. A solid, fresh wine for white meats and seafood. Great value".

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What a Bunch of Turkeys!

No, I'm not talking about the Denman Northlands developers, but the 20 wild turkeys that invaded our backyard last evening. They roosted in the trees in the yard and then about 6:15 this morning began crowing or gobbling as the case may be, right outside our bedroom window. There appeared to be 10 hens and 10 toms. As the hens went about scavenging for food the toms spent 15 minutes jousting and showing each other how beautiful they were. Two of the more immature toms were quite aggressive and spent some time giving lock-beak onto the other's neck, then sprinting around the yard. Apparently these big birds can fly or run very quickly when need be. The darker pics were taken right below our window.

A Newcomer's North Lands Position
The jockeying for position continues on Denman to determine the future of the North Lands. The Developer, while attempting to wear the hat of, (what some describe as) “visionary”, has proposed 3 alternatives for the future development of the island? As the factions’ square off, it’s becoming more apparent that there are almost as many views as residents. The jostling, for the most part, takes place in the form of an insert into the weekly newsletter, “The Grapevine”. These inserts have now evolved into mini petitions of a sort, as those polarized begin to show their colours. (I suggest green, yellow and blue armbands to determine teams)
The bait dangled before the residents is: in return for the development of additional lots (than current zoning allows), the developer will “donate” tracts of land to the Island residents for community use. The conundrum is, what level of development is acceptable? The amount of development agreed upon, will dictate how much land will end up in the hands of islanders as lake access, parks, bogs, forests and even a gravel pit.
As a newcomer to the island, Ive attempted to catch up on some of the history of these lands. In short, it’s appalling to read what’s happened in the past. This area has been a sore spot for many years, so it’s understandable given the history, that this subject has been degraded to a personal level. I assume it will divide friendships and even households with differences of opinion. Everyone wants what’s best for the island, but what is it?
Although it has absolutely no legal bearing on the issue, the developer is attempting, (by way of survey), to secure enough information to go forward with the rezoning proposal that is most likely to succeed. There is a corporate backer for this development that expects a return on their investment. Obviously, they would like that return to be as soon as possible and as large as possible. However; this is contradictory to many that feel “less is more” and would forgo the gifts of land for less overall development.
I for one would love to see land put aside for community use. At the onset, this development was touted as “doing what’s best for the island”. Islanders were to have the opportunity to participate and decide what should be done with these lands and subsequently, how much profit would be realized. However; to my knowledge, budget and profit potential have never been divulged for each plan. Initially it appeared that the developer had no preference as to which scenario was chosen. If that is truly so, then the lowest profit scenario should be acceptable to the developer and applicable to any of the options, (with reasonable variances for time costs). I believe when negotiating a deal, that at the end of the day nobody gets what he or she really wants…. So what should happen? In my analytical view, I’d give the developer an indication to go forward with the “full meal deal”. I’d select the option on the survey with the largest potential profit and, (what I want), the most “donated” land for the community. Some people have described the survey as a vote. It’s not in any way a vote, but option #3 has the most donated land and subsequently is the closest to my goal. The fact is, I want the maximum amount of land donated; in return for the minimal amount of development, but that isn't an option on the survey. The fight, (or negotiation) really begins when the fish is on the hook. The biggest difference between negotiators in this case, is one side makes decisions based on emotion, the other by money. It’s up to the Islanders to decide which end of the line they want to be on. Dangle your own bait, set the hook and see where the fish swims. There will be plenty of time during due process to alter any survey consensus. Meanwhile, think about sending the developer a survey of acceptable options. Worst-case scenario if the big one gets away? Status Quo.

Last Sunday, (1st no screen day) was spent on Mount Washington. The "O"zone tube park was the destination and we spent an enjoyable day without screens. (Someone forgot the camera) The screen challenged day was met with maximum resistance by our resident pre-teen once we returned home, however we have stayed firm.

There has been an abundance boat traffic on the Sound as herring season officially started this week. Along with the fishing boats, the coast guard has stepped up patrols in the area. The picture was taken on Wednesday during a beach walk. Note: the unexpected and short-lived blue sky.

CJ in NZ passes on the following travel (unedited) update: "THere's a break in work which worked out perfectly in-line with our trip to Tauranga for the birthday party. we leave tomorrow morning on a bus back to Tauranga to spend the weekend back at the Grandparents house. When we return on Monday we will probably still have a couple days off that we will spend in Te Awanga. We met a good friend through picking apples, Pai, who lives in a remarkable area in Hawkes Bay; its a neibourhood called Te Awanga and its right on the ocean. He;s a musician/surfer/Karate sensai/apple picker....pretty neat life..."

The Blog is early this week, as my sister & Brother in law are coming for a visit this weekend. They drink much more than I do :-) so there should be many reviews to report.

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner
Tormaresca Paiara Negroamaro 2003, $10.99 A few weeks ago, We tried a wine from Italy that had been voted a "showstopping Bargain" by Vanmag's international Wine Awards. This wine was going head-to-head with $50 wines. The bottle I opened was destined for the septic field as it tasted a mix of gasoline and sweat socks. OK, so I'm not an expert, but I assume this is an extreme case of a corked wine. I was under the impression that synthetic corks (which this product uses) eliminated the problem. Interestingly enough, I stumbled upon another blogger's review of this wine and he seems to have had the same experience in a lesser form, but raved about the second bottle. It interested me enough to secure another before it sells out, and I'm glad I did. Here's what the Wine Diva has to say about this wine: "This wine is one of those secrets you hate to give away (in case everyone actually reads this and buys it all). It has all the rustic elegance of Italian wine-sour cherry, dark flowers, sweaty leather, red berry and earth, a sweet velvety mouth-feel, tobacco and spice with soft tannins-all at a price point that will make you giggle with glee. Negroamaro and Cabernet Sauvignon."

QOTD comes from a Vanmag editorial: "take comfort from the recent study in the Journal of Wine Economics suggesting most people in blind tastings actually prefer inexpensive wine. "

Saturday, March 03, 2007

From RR#1

Tuesday evening, Kari & I went to a talk and power point presentation given by Neil Dawe of the Qualicum Institute, (Sponsored by the Denman Island Conservancy Assoc.). He was speaking on the issue of "Sustainability." Neil maintains that there is no such thing as "sustainable economic growth" and that the world must become economically static to save the biodiversity that allows us to exist on our planet. He maintains that we are preoccupied by trying to remedy the symptoms of Economic Growth such as global warming, rather than than address the cause. You can read about his thoughts and powerful reasoning here. I wonder how many people attending thought about the current Denman North Lands Development as unnecessary Economic Growth. Being less consumer driven is something we talk about often and we have decreased our "carbon footprint" since moving here, however; there is much more to do. (I might have to start drinking Van Isle wine) Speaking of reducing our footprint; Al Gore got some free press on the Oscars on Sunday. However, it seems that the current "Champion" of the fight against Global Warming racks up more power bills in a month, than the average American household does in a year. We all have a long way to go when it comes to consuming more goods and services than we actually need. Time to give up the mansion Al!

Wednesday, we woke up to a couple of inches of the white stuff. The sun came out and it was all but gone by noon. The snow started again Wedensday evening as I was on my way to a "Backhall Concert". This one featured Romi Mayes, Kent McAlister and Dustin Bentall, (son of Barney Bentall + Legendary Hearts).... These three young songwiters each played their own brand of country, blues, folk and interacted with each other and the audience. All were very good and you can hear some of their stuff by following the name links. Click HERE to launch your mp3 player and hear one of (23 year old) Dustin's tunes. I think this kid has a future.

From CJ in NZ "Were alive and well...and have been working really hard...ill phone in the next while...were working still in hastings and staying in a trailer in the orchard and have made a tonne of friends...weve been working 8.5 hours a day 6-7 days a week..and im up to making 150$ a day...woohoo... were making money so that we can go kayaking/camping in the bay of islands before we depart from the land of the long white cloud..."

I've included a picture of RR#1 Denman Island; note: the fastening techniques for mailboxes range from clothespins to sticks to nothing at all.

Tomorrow is our first official "no screen day", so I can no longer post on Sundays. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner.
Zunio Zinfandel 2003 - (13.99) - California. A California 'fruit bomb" for sure. Take a bottle to the beach for some easy sipping enjoyment. Kari likes this wine a lot! Vancouver Magazine's International Wine Awards listed this wine as a top contender in the "rich red" category - "Gobs of mulberry fruit, serious spice, ridiculous value. What are you waiting for?

I came across this article on Cono Sur wines. It makes for some interesting reading on the organic nature of grape growing in Chile. It all comes down to Geese, Grease, Grass and spiders. Enjoy!

Last, but not least, there's a link to the right for Cheap Dave's Wine Recommendations. This is a summary of wines mentioned in past Blogs, (only the good ones).