While I live !!!

Both my son, Alasdair, and my daughter, Shelagh, are at home, and I am trying to get some order into my blogs. I have three. This one is the first, and original. The second, which I forgot about until today, is www.designeeds.wordpress.com. It looks at design “needs, seeds and weeds”. The third, started yesterday, is www.unitwon.wordpress.com, (Unit One) which involves a number of personas interacting harmoneously and otherwise.

As of today, I retire in 232 days. I am looking forward to entering a new age of freedom, that ends with frailty, forgetfulness or death.

In my original post I mentioned “Prosperity without Growth” and our addiction to novelty. Now, I’d like to mention Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows” which addresses internet addictions. I am now trying to spend at least an hour each day reading books.

My Citroën Evasion died in 2012, and was replaced by a Mazda 5. It is not the best of relationships. Every time I refuel I feel a twinge of guilt about global climate change and local emissions. I am looking forward to a future with three important forms of transport: walking as my primary means of transport,  a more occassional use of Lyft combined with autonomous electric vehicles, and – for intra and intercontinental travel – the hyperloop, which a couple of days ago had a successful test run of its propulsion systeum.


I am trying harder to avoid being inspired by the literature I’ve read as a child. I am actively trying to find new literature. Not many new authors of fiction, with the exception of works by Ivan Doig, Armistead Maupin and Colin MacInnis. Marc Reisner’s “Cadillac Desert” has been inspiring. Carmen Aguirre has been fun. Robert Riech, Joseph Stiglitz, Ha-Joon Chang have improved my understanding of economics.

Travel Goals

Islands and archipelagos continue to attract, especially British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, and Washington State’s San Juan Islands. In Europe, the islands of the B-7 Baltic Islands Network hold considerable appeal, Denmark’s Bornholm, Germany’s Rügen, Sweden’s Öland and Gotland Islands, Estonia’s Hiiumaa and Saaremaa Islands, and the Finnish autonomous Åland Islands.

Portugal and Portugese territories continue to attract, especially the Azores and Madeira.  In the USA, Hawaii attracts me, the wind, the waves, the geography, the geology, the volcanos and hot springs, the plants, the animals. With Shelagh living in San Francisco, I would like to explore more of California.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is still at the top of my travel list.


As mentioned before, Norway’s winters do not appeal, and I would still like a home in a winter warm area. Contenders still include: France and Portugal. There are large English speaking populations in Provence, the Algarve and on Madeira.


While I speak and write English and Norwegian, I have spent 500 days improving my French (and Swedish).

Before I die …

This original post written in June 2009 was removed, but has now been revived. My opinions have changed less than one would expect in seven years.

I am inspired by my daughter, Shelagh, to write a summary of my goals.  Being 60, I have only another 30 or 40 years to achieve these goals before I begin to get too frail and forgetful.

Chapter 6 of “Prosperity without Growth” comments on our addiction to novelty. We are not content with what we have, but want something bigger or better or at least different.  Marital infidelity is rampant and, in Western civilization, the same is true of economic infidelity.  I am sure that I can live for the rest of my life with my Citroën Evasion, but there are days when I yearn to be unfaithful to her.  The petite Mitsubishi i MiEV and the Citroën Nemo both attract, but neither offers anything better. After the first week in a new relationship, the feeling of novelty wears off, but it is probably too late to return to the old lover.

Thus my first goal is to remain content with what I have, and not to seek novelty for its own sake.


Many of my goals have been  inspired by the literature I’ve read as a child.  I first read Arthur Ransome soon after the opening of the new New Westminster public library in 1958.  He ranks as my favourite author, although there are many contenders for the places immediately below this.  Peter Dawlish, and his Dauntless series; Archie Binns, with Sea Pup and its sequels; William Beebe was my hero in terms of underwater exploration; Rachel Carson my inspiration in terms of exploring the sea; Ralph Buchsbaum has inspired my interest in invertebrates.

As a Baha’i, religion and Faith have influenced my life, as have the following books: Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys; Abdu’l-Baha, A Traveler’s Narrative; Nabil, Dawnbreakers; Mirza Abu’l-Fadl, The Baha’i Proofs; Michael Sours, The Prophecies of Jesus. Later in life I have found inspiration and an understanding of theistic evolution in the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Niles Eldredge, Ronald Fisher, Stephen Jay Gould and Eugenie Scott.  I appreciate the works of Richard Dawkins, but not his atheism.

One of my goals is to reread books that have influenced me previously.  These include the following: Jules Verne, Vingt mille lieues sous les mers; Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach;  Haruki Murikami, Kafka on the Shore; Donald Barthelme, Snow White.

Another goals is to read a previously unexplored book (and unrelated to my work) once a month.  This can be difficult, since I spend vast hours every month reading work related books.


Patricia, my wife, has a hearing disability.  For this reason I don’t listen to music that often, since she regards it as noise.  I guess I should learn to use headphones.  My goal is to set off time to enjoy a wide variety of music:

Regularly: Bax, Biber, Bliss, Bridge, Britten, Davis, Dowland, Dufay, Dunstable, Elgar, Feeney, Frye, Holst, Muldowney, Parry, Purcell, Tallis, Vaughan Williams.

Regularly: Loreena McKennitt, Maggie Reilly, assorted celtic music.

Occasionally: Assorted new age, Jane Birkin, Kate Bush, Chris De Burgh, Celine Dion, Amanda Lear, Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull.

Less occasionally: The Byrds, The Clash, Foreigner, The Kinks, Kraftwerk, Lillix, Midnight Oil, Tangerine Dream, Wallflowers, The Who.

Travel Goals

Coasts and Islands

Having built my first sailboat in 1962, sailing has held a life long interest, although I admit that I am at best only a fair weather sailor, and probably no more than an armchair sailor. Despite this, there are several islands and archipelagos that attract me.  These include British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, and Washington State’s San Juan Islands.     Forty years ago, the South Pacific (including New Zealand, Easter Island, the Galapagos and Hawaii) and the Atlantic (especially the Caribbean)  all had their allure.   Thirty years ago, the Aegian, Ionian and Adriatic Seas would have headed the list.  More recently,  Mauritius, the Seychelles, the Maldives and other exotic locations in the Indian Ocean would have been at the top. Yet, when I owned a small cruiser,  the Norwegian coast, the Åland Archipeligo and the Baltic in general, and Scotland  appealed, but I never ventured far from Trondheim Fjord.

Despite this, the Azores remain a mystical place that enchants me. If things had been different, Hawaii could have been even more attractive, but excessive development has spoiled the islands.  It is nature that attracts me, the wind, the waves, the geography, the geology, the volcanos and hot springs, the plants, the animals.

Scuba Diving

I earned a diving certificate back in 1972, but probably should take a refresher course.  However, the idea of diving still appeals to me, especially in the warmer seas of the world including the Egyptian Red Sea and  Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Colder parts that appeal include Norway’s many dive sites, Canada’s sites on Vancouver Island and Ireland’s sites on Strangford Lough.


Let’s face it.  Norway’s winters are not all that appealing.  I now have less than ten years before I retire.  In that time I would like to secure myself a home in an area that is relatively warm in the winter, and relatively cool in the summer. I remember thinking at one time that I should like to divide my life into 3s.  The first third was in Canada, the second third has been in Norway.  Who knows where the third third should be spent. Contenders for a winter home include: France (Ruffec, Charente); Portugal (Yes, somewhere in the Azores).

Canal holiday in Britain and France.


The United States has many of the finest areas in the world to visit, including:  Grand Canyon, the Everglades, Florida Keys, Carlsbad Caverns, Yellowstone Park, Four-corners, Maui. The next step is to work out a ten year plan to ensure I get to visit these areas in the next decade.


At the age of 14 I started out building a Sabot sailboat.  At one time I expected a career as a boat builder. This combined with my studies in wood and metal working indicate that I should be able to make things.  The result is minimal.  I think a contributing factor is that I have no workshop to build things in.  So, one of my goals is to find a place that is large enough to become a workshop.

By the age of 16, photography had become my dominant interest, and many times I think I should have taken a two year program in television production at BCIT.  Thus, one of my major goals is to produce, direct and edit a video film, or better still to combine video production with some of the other activities listed below.

Another mislaid interest was in electronics. One of my goals is to learn how to build circuits using microcontrollers, and to program them.  I came half-way there with my post-graduate degree in computer science, but should have attended an institution that focused more on hardware in addition to software.

In this connection, I also want to improve my skills in computer aided design, including rendering.  In addition, I would like to be able to master use of CNC tools.  Here, I would like to focus on the more creative aspects of 3D production.

Actually, my secret goal is to combine craftsmanship, video, embedded electronics and 3D production to create an educational environment that promotes a better understanding of sustainability.


English and Norwegian are the two languages I have learned to master.  The latter with an American pronunciation that I have tried to eliminate for 30 years.  In addition, I am constantly feeling I should learn more French, Persian, Arabic and/or Portugese, as well as refresh my Latin skills.  The next step is to determine if I should learn another language, and if so to select that language, then set off time to learn it.