April 2020

Unless otherwise credited, all words and photographs are © David Ritchie and may not be used without permission.


April 29   Modern hygiene dictates that we shower or bathe regularly and change our underwear daily. Not all people can or do follow those principles but most try to. Deodorant is another obligatory move, we must not only be clean but we must smell clean too.

Things were not always so. The Victorian habit of not bathing- it was considered unhealthy- is well known, as were the ladies practically cramming perfume-soaked handkerchiefs up their noses in an attempt to overpower the pong of body odour.

It gets worse, brace yourself Brigette. In the early days of the logging industry here in Canada, the men lived in brutal conditions. Not only was bathing impossible for the entire winter, staying warm required long woollen underwear. They were typically a one-piece outfit covering the body from the neck to the bottom of the legs with a ‘trapdoor’ for outhouse duty or squatting behind a tree if one were caught short while working.

This is where it gets really nasty. The men wore that same outfit for the entire winter, never changing or, as previously noted, bathing. Body hair would grow through the cloth for months on end and when warm weather finally arrived they had to cut the long-johns off, tearing out clotted hair along with any scabs that had grown.

Tough people back then. The only plus I can find is that if one wandered off into the night for a smoke and became disoriented, he would only need to follow his nose to find the bunkhouse.

Today the majority of civilization live pampered lives. Not being able to get a haircut because of the virus lockdown is quite petty in comparison to the lives our ancestors were forced to live.

History never looks like history when you are living through it.” John W Gardner

Lumber Camp.jpg


April 25  Internet doctors are common, everybody is now a medical expert, no degree required.

Health concerns are, of course, ramped up now with the virus running around like a swarm of angry hornets. But there are some people who dwell far too much on their health even when times are normal. That’s where the internet experts come in handy for them. Read about some new disease- they’ll be sure to find the symptoms in themselves.

Many have wrongly self-diagnosed and suddenly they are lactose intolerant, peanut-allergic and certain that they have cancer too. And is it possible to get malaria in the arctic?

My good old fallback for quotes, Mark Twain, had a few things to say about it. Let me share some from him and a few other folks with you.

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” Mark Twain

I have spent most of my life worrying about things that have never happened.” Mark Twain

“Whether you are healthy or ill, your thoughts can drive you. If you are feeling ill, it may be your mind that has made you so.” Laura Moncur

Quit worrying about your health. It’ll go away.” Robert Orben

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.” Redd Foxx

I will leave you with a quote from one of our founding fathers, Sir John A MacDonald: “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Santé !



April 16  Four readers correctly answered Wotz it? (scroll down to April 10). It’s a scanned cross-section of a broccoli stalk with tweaked colour curves in an attempt to disguise it. Obviously, I didn’t fool four sharp-eyed folks.

Thanks for playing the Wotz It? game. Stay tuned for the next one.


April 14  Positive actions. Despite current affairs, it’s not all doom and gloom, there are good things to focus on. Here is one positive thing to consider.

Simple solutions for complex problems are the best solutions. Major problems like electricity generation. Demand outgrew our nearby hydroelectric generation long ago, nuclear generation is feared by many and the waste is a major hazard. Solar is expensive, wind power has many foes and is costly and inefficient when the winds don’t cooperate.

A simple solution to augment our existing supply has been discovered and it is being put to use here in Halifax, Canada. Harnessing water power to spin turbines has a long history and is cheap if the source and the customer are close by. But that is no longer the situation- hydroelectric power projects now entail thousands of kilometres of transmission towers and transformers. What if a source of water power were already in the cities?

Turns out that it is, existing in every city and town: the pressure in water pipes. The water pressure from standpipes and pumping stations actually needs to be reduced before it reaches our homes or it would blow the taps off. This is accomplished using mechanical valves and the resulting friction is lost as heat. Why not let electrical generating turbines function as the pressure reducing valve? The output is electricity, not heat.

Emissions-free electricity produced where it’s needed. A clever solution and economical too. That’s positive action.

“An inventor is simply a fellow who doesn’t take his education too seriously.” Charles Kettering

Good support from CBC Radio for Canadian artists. Most musicians make their money from gig to gig. Miss a few gigs and you might miss the rent too. Live music is presently non-existent but the rent is still due. CBC Music is playing music performed by Canadian musicians only; hopefully, the royalty cheques will help fill the vacuum.


April 10  What is it? Or, as it might be spelt in Britain, Wotz It?

Being a bit bored, I thought it time to play the guessing game again. With all the talk of viruses, I searched for some around the house and came up with this one. Let the games begin. The first correct answer wins a free pass to walk in your town wearing a mask,  goggles, a snorkel, fins and your comfy pyjamas. The winner will have their 15 minutes of fame and a photo that will be sure to go… well, viral.

Brocogiavirurseum.jpg                          Wotz it?


April 6  Feeling isolated? It’s not a cliché anymore. Remember wanting some time to yourself, to get away from people?

I’ve mentioned the Kinks music before and I once again turn to that great band. One of my favourite R&R bands, they have never shied away from social commentary. With clear, easy to hear lyrics- unlike many bands that seem to intentionally garble the singing. Perhaps it’s due to weak lyrics, something the Kinks cannot be accused of.

In the early 1980s, the UK was in a deep and nasty recession that was far more severe than in North American. It was rife with upheaval,  labour unions under attack and a long miners’ strike.

The Kinks didn’t hesitate to frame their music with that background. The album State of Confusion reflects that dark time. Feelings of the helplessness that many felt are reflected in one song in particular.

∗Clichés of the World (B Movie) is exactly that: a cinematic song. Like a musical Ingmar Bergman film, the Swedish master filmmaker of dark times and despair, mixed with a solid dose of noir and a splash of Raymond Chandler.

Written in a minor key, an uncommon key for rock & roll, but not the Kinks.

It starts with drums, a guitar riff and piano, solid rock music. The soundtrack builds, the lyrics are verbal direction, framing the scenes. The music and the vocals build up to a  climax of sound, a classic B movie ending. Give it a listen.

∗Ignore the cheesy images that are presented with the tune on Youtube, they make no sense and ridicule a great tune. If you have a Spotify account (it’s free), stream it there, it’s a must for a rock & roll playlist.



April 3  Thief with a conscience? Not sure to make of this report but it’s intriguing considering the ongoing accelerating changes:

A large quantity of cash stolen from a variety store employee has been returned along with an apology note, police say.

A man brought back the money — police didn’t say how much — plus an additional $100 for the victim’s trouble on Wednesday to the convenience store, where the cash had been stolen earlier from the worker’s wallet, police said Friday.”

Another insult added to the toolbox of those who choose to denigrate rather than debate. Your insult of the week is ‘word salad’. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times lately- unoriginal thinkers jump on a new cliche like Wilson pouncing on a pork chop. Can be used with snowflake and the now-dated buttercup.

Apparently, many people are having a difficult time with isolation, even with the many distractions available through internet and cable, let alone (gasp) books. It’s not difficult for me as I’m a bit of a hermit anyway and have a large farm to wander with Wilson.

Lately, other people have decided it’s a good place to walk too. With dogs that run loose, and kids ripping around on ATVs. Annoying as that can be it’s worse this time of year with ducks and geese nesting around the pond. I avoid disturbing them but town folk have no problem demonstrating their prowess on wheels, tearing up the turf around the pond and chasing geese.

Rather than confront them I’ve decided to follow them home and then return with my motorcycle, and tear up their yard. I might even stop in the back yard and pick some flowers or chase the cat. A fair trade?

The Port Bruce project is in a bit of limbo. Some prints of Hurley tugs that fished out of Port Bruce I’d arranged to borrow have been held up. The person who has them is in isolation after returning home from the Caribbean. I do have some more from the Elgin County archives that I’ll post shortly.

Right now my motorcycle is calling me and it would be impolite to ignore it.


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