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Let me ruin Blade Runner 2049 for you

I loved this movie.  I thought it was beautifully shot and wonderfully acted.  I saw it a week ago and have been thinking and talking about it ever since.*  Just like the original Blade Runner movie it’s got layers and layers and layers, enough to keep you pondering for ages. You can take it apart and examine each portion of it from every angle. I have a feeling film students will be writing essays on Deckard’s dog 35 years from now.  If you disagree with my opinion please feel free to write a blistering rebuttal. I’ve only seen the movie once, so if I’ve forgotten or misremembered anything, please correct me in the comments.

DISCLAIMER:  This ain’t no “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies.”  This missive is nothing but one spoiler after another and is strictly my own take on it. so if you haven’t seen it, better leave the room.  We’ll wait.

Blade Runner 2049 is rife with (surely) deliberate misogyny, ageism, ableism, and probably a bunch of other isms that I didn’t notice.  Unlike the original movie which was populated with flabby humans with all their foibles, by 2049 any human with ability and ambition has fled the earth for the outer planets leaving the megalopolis populated with replicants, designed and manufactured by a genius with the mind set of a Donald Trump (but, you know, competent).  In this disposable work force there are few replicants of colour, no disabled, no gays, hell, there are no FAT people.  They are still living in a dystopia of catastrophic climate change and rotting urban landscapes wrought by rampant capitalism.

MISOGYNY MUCH:  With the exception of K’s boss, played by Robin Wright, and the rebel leader (Hiam Abbass) EVERY woman exists solely to attend to her master’s every need and desire.  And every woman is preternaturally beautiful. It’s like an MRA wet dream. (So how is that different from any other movie?  Ha! Right.) There is no plot-driven reason that UberVillain, Nander Wallace (Jared Leto) should have a beautiful woman assistant/assassin/henchperson in stiletto heels and bangs, yet.  Even Wright’s character is named Madame and dresses like a dominatrix, make of that what you will.

These “women” apparently cannot make a decision that does not directly benefit their masters.  When K uses his bonus to present his computer wife, Joi (Ana de Armas) with a device that will allow her to exist away from the holographic projector in his apartment, she uses her new-found freedom to hire a prostitute/surrogate so the literally untouchable Joi can give K a sexual experience.

And women are disposable.  A naked, vulnerable replicant is sliced open just as a demonstration of Wallace’s power of life and death over his creations.  Faux Rachel is murdered when she is no longer needed.

YET this seemingly inviolable obedience and devotion is just an illusion, as fake as the home-cooked steak dinner that disguises K’s meal of Soylent Green pottage.  When Luv kills the human Madame, she explains that she is making the decision by herself, and states that she will LIE to Wallace regarding her reasons. His supposedly complete control over her is a fallacy.  The giant interactive hologram of a naked JOI basic model who accosts K implies by her nudity that he will be able to attain a physical and emotional intimacy that cannot be.  He will never be able to touch her, and his most personal and poignant moments with his wife are shown to be just part of her program. There is no true allegiance, no love or even respect, even though that is what they were supposedly designed for.  There is just deceptiveness and self-deception.

Thanks to Morgan for pointing out that K’s story is that of the Little Match Girl.  He has been sustained by the illusions of his own making, and at the end, stripped of all these comforts, he sits alone in the snow.

Thanks to Cal for explaining that the anachronistic PanAm sign is a nod to Kubrick’s 2001, PanAm is the carrier that takes Dr. Floyd to the moon and is likely the method the humans take to the outer planets.

Thanks to Rhys for showing that Luv is one of the most deeply interesting characters, who cries at the sight of death.

Things that I cannot explain (if you can, please do):

Wallace seems to be suffering from cataracts.  Why?  Cataract surgery is one of the oldest and most common surgeries.  Has human medical knowledge degenerated to the point where they cannot treat a simple condition?

What’s with the bees?  Out in the desert there are no plants for them to pollinate, why are they there?

That’s enough to think about for now.  It’s just a movie after all.

The balcony is closed.

*Unlike say, Dr. Strange, which I enjoyed while I was watching it but afterwards realized that they had put a goatee and a cape on Benedict Cumberbatch and wrapped him in the sets of Inception.  And I would watch Benedict Cumberbatch read the phone book if such things still existed.  Actually I wish I had watched THAT instead of Dr. Strange.

My penultimate work day

The day-before-my-last-day of work was weird.  Really weird.

I cleaned up my desk, did some filing, said good-bye to a few people who won’t be around tomorrow.  It made it even stranger that the office was nearly empty, with co-workers at meetings downtown or on their vacations.

Over and over I got the question (more of a statement, really) “Are you excited?”  Yes I am excited, but I’m a bit nervous, too.  And happy and sad.  And ready and not ready. Everything has an air of unreality to it.

Like any major lifestyle change there’s a lot to consider.  And believe me, I’m considering it.  But also like marriage or parenthood or surgery or anything really big, I am not going to know exactly what I’m getting into until I’m in the middle of it.

Retired friends assure me I’ll love it.  And I already have my first afternoon grand-kid sitting gig lined up for next week.  But I know I’ll be finding my way for a while, working out what works and what doesn’t.

It’s a long journey, maybe 30 years long.  And I’ll be taking my first step in just two days.

The days dwindle down to a precious few….

Poor DH is tiring of the phrase “You know, when I’m retired…” but I can’t help thinking of everything I will enjoy when freed from the structure and stricture of the workday week.

Now that my retirement is in site (39 days!  I got the countdown app!)  I view every weekend as a sort of rehearsal for the real thing.  This weekend being a long one (Thanks Queen Victoria) I am practicing my mad retirement skillz every minute. I can’t believe that I’m ever going to be able to take these things for granted:

1. Enjoying my Home Town

Saturday DH and I tidied the home (small houses clean up in a matter of minutes) then headed down to Granville Island.  We took Skytrain to Main Street Station and walked along the south side of False Creek.  It is a spectacular walk, nature all around, and across the water the towers of Downtown Vancouver rise in glassy glory.

Vancouver’s Science World relfecting in the water of False Creek with the downtown Vancouver in the background under a sunny blue sky with clouds.

At the Island Market we purchased victuals for a sumptuous repast, then transit home.  It’s fun to do on a weekend afternoon, but when I’m retired we can do it mid-week and skip the dense crowds.

DH barbecued the steaks and I sauteed the mushrooms.  A delightful way to end the day — any summer day.

This is a beautiful city and I can’t wait until I can be a tourist in it every day.

2. Hobbies

Sunday was a day for puttering in the garden.  It’s nice to get out in the yard before the summer sun heats it to a toasty goodness, then scoot inside for an iced tea.  We’ve had such a brutal winter and a wet spring (it always seems to rain on the weekends) that I wasn’t able to get everything I wanted done (even in our tiny garden I wanted to weed the bulb bed and de-clump the rhubarb).  I even sprayed our one fruit tree with a soapy solution to keep down the aphids and deter the wasps.  Next Spring will be different because I’ll be able to get out on a sunny weekday.

Then I pulled out the Kindle and read.  For hours! Then I started dinner!  In the middle of the afternoon!

DH and I are even talking about taking guitar lessons in the Fall with the folks up in the big house. Maybe we can get a deal on group lessons.

3. Family

This Fall I will be watching my delightful grand-daughter one day a week.  I did this for my grandson, too, and I really loved it, but I had to take vacation days and work a nine-day fortnight with the attending increased hours to do it.  I’m looking forward to being able to see her, and to be a big part of her life, without having to sacrifice vacation and leisure time.  I’ll also be available to pick up the other kids from school or daycare if DD and DSIL are busy or take a hand if the kids are sick and have to stay home.

I’ll be able to skip up to Kelowna to see my sister for a girl’s weekend, travelling on the weekdays to get the whole weekend to enjoy.

Even just slipping into the back yard to see the kids enjoying themselves, without interfering or imposing ourselves on their play.

All these will be possible because I won’t have to be at work for 40 hours a week.

4. Health

Don’t believe Donald Trump!  That is always good advice, but never more relevant than when it comes to exercise.  Exercise is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially when you are getting older.  Did you know that exercising with weights can stave off dementia?  It’s true! And building a strong core of muscles in your torso can help older people avoid falling, a major cause of injuries and even death!

For the past few years I’ve been unable to get all the exercise I want.  I know, excuses, excuses, but I am at work for 8 hours, and my commute is at least two-and a half hours round trip.  I get out for a half-hour walk every day during my lunch when it’s not raining.  This winter that meant I could get out maybe twice a week.  I have tried going to the gym after work, but that’s the busiest time of the day, and I just couldn’t stand waiting 10 minutes to get a spot on a machine or a place to lay my mat.  Plus, after work and a commute I was tired.  Weekends I try to get in 10K in steps, but it’s not always possible.

And in our laneway there is literally not enough free floor space to do a set of sit-ups.

It bothers me that I’m not exercising enough.  BUT when I retire I can go to the gym anytime, in the middle of the business day when it’s practically empty.  On days when I want to take a walk but it’s raining I can hop the Skytrain and be on the treadmill in a half hour.

Before I was hired in my most recent job I spent a year unemployed.  I went to the gym regularly, built my visits into my daily routine, and I’m looking forward to doing it again.

I plan to get healthier and healthier — kind of like Benjamin Button.

So much to look forward to.  Is it any wonder I am getting restless during my days at work?

How do I get there from here?

My Facebook pal, let’s call her Ann, has retired after 24 years in a civil service job.  Now she is ready to take on her next career – real estate agent.  She has taken the courses and got her license, and she is raring to go!  And more power to her for following her dream.  But it’s not my dream.

Ann loves being around people, loves being part of their lives. In short, she is not like me at all!

Planning for retirement is like planning for so many other things.  Weddings, education, vacations — for all these life-changing events it’s a highly personal journey.  And when you’re on a journey, the first place to start is with a map.  (I know, the first place to start is the internet, but go with me here).  A personal map, that shows you all the marshy bits and pitfalls that you might not be aware of.

X marks the retirement

X marks the retirement

So a couple of days after my most recent birthday, I signed up for and filled out a Retirement Success Profile. This is a series of questions that focuses on how you feel about retirement, and therefore, how prepared you are for retirement.   There are 15 factors that are examined and each is rated for your expectations, your present behaviour, and the variance between the two.  A large variance between what you expect in retirement and what you are doing now means that you will have to do some work in that area to transition to a happy retirement.

I’m not going to give you a complete rundown on my scores because it would be of no more help or interest to you than if I showed you my x-rays.

Chatting with the counselor who explains the results was very helpful and interesting.  But I found it most enlightening that the test scores showed three areas I should work on — focus factors:

  • Health Perception
  • Leisure Interests
  • Replacement of Work Function

The first was a surprise to me because I’m in pretty good health and don’t complain about it much.  But I also realize that this is a bit of a wake up call because I’m now aware that I’ve been taking my good health for granted and I know I’ll have to exercise more and work at staying healthy. The counselor  pointed out that when I retire I will not be taking transit every day and will not be exposed to the amount of germs and viruses I am now (that knock me out on a regular and seasonal basis).  Also I will have enough time to go to the gym and take fitness classes, maybe get a personal trainer to help me get back into shape.

The flag on Leisure Interests intrigues me.  And it ties in with the replacement of work function.  Because I’m kind of an introvert (a loner), I rely on my work for a lot of my socialization. I also rely on my workday to schedule my time.  Again, the counselor pointed out a couple of things I hadn’t thought of:  I’ll have time to take courses in anything that really interests me (currently I am quite fascinated by geology.  Yes, I meant to say geology.) Also there are meet-up groups for various activities.  I love to read (not really a hobby as such, I regard reading as necessary as breathing) so could join a book club.  Also cooking classes could expand my repertoire, and maybe lead to a group of like-minded people to hang out with.

Obviously a lot to think about.  But I have time to make some plans. The next question to be answered:  Can I afford to retire?










The little old lady who lives

I had a photo taken recently, just a head-and-shoulders, taken in natural light.  A little something to update my LinkedIn page.  And, looking at it, I realized something…I look my age.

This is not a terrible thing, of course, there is nothing wrong with looking your age.  It’s just that without deluding myself, my face could cheat a little.  I used to hear it all the time, “You look too young to….be a grandmother, have cataracts, remember the 60s.” They say that mirrors don’t lie, but mine does, its kind light filling in all the little crinkles and wrinkles and throwing a camouflaging shadow beneath my softening jawline.  But a photograph is proof.  I am looking my age. I am getting old, not just older.

There’s more reminders.  A news report describes someone younger than me as “elderly”.  A visit to my employer’s Pension Fair reminds me that my retirement age, once soooooo far away, is approaching.  Rapidly.  I stopped colouring my hair last year, wondering what my “natural” colour would be.  It’s grey, a kind of pewter rather than silver, but grey it certainly is.  There’s a shortness of breath when I attempt to climb a long flight of stairs, a reminder of the pneumonia I had in the spring that does not go away.  I am too tired after a full day’s work and two hour-long commutes to go to the gym, or a concert, or the movies.

It seems to me that youth is inherited at birth.  And you ease into middle age; the male gaze slides over and around you rather than lingering, people seem more willing to help you out, and you realize well, that’s over.  But old age seems like a decision.  You accept your grey hair, you opt to take the escalator more often, you make plans to retire.

And that’s the rub.  I have been working for over 40 years.  When I had small children I worked for them.  Other than the child-bearing years I have held paying jobs, and all of that comes with its own regimen.  Your days are nicely laid out for you, even your weekends are defined by the fact that you are not working for two days, it’s your chance to catch up on everything you didn’t have time for during the work week.

But just thinking about retirement…day after day with no one telling me what to do, no duties arranged in a never-ending list.  It’s disconcerting.  And even the flexibility we have now to retire at age 55 or 60 or 65 or 67 and-a-half or 70 is stressful to think about.

I don’t have any big plans for retirement.  We want to travel, but there are no solid plans, just a general wish to do so.  I haven’t put off writing a book, or getting a degree, or taking up flamenco dancing, waiting for my retirement to get it done.  My children and grandchildren need and want my help, but that’s not a full-time gig, they are quite independent and want to stay that way.

So I have decided to approach old age the same way I would any new challenge — by learning all I can about it.  The more I learn the less intimidating it will be.  And I’ll be ready to face it. With this face:


Where — and how — do you want to live

When DH and I began planning our laneway we started by looking around at what was familiar to us.   We had a pretty conventionally designed condo, two beds and two baths,  and we couldn’t get around the idea that we were going to be living in less than half the space we had.  We thought about what we would lose, not what we would gain.

We looked at how other people were downsizing and building laneways, we saw what we liked and what we didn’t like.  And gradually it dawned on us that we shouldn’t just look at how other people live, or how we USED to live, we should look forward, to how we WANTED to live.  We let our imaginations go a little.  We didn’t just want an average house that had been shrunk, we wanted a new plan for us that would lead to a whole new life.  We knew there would be sacrifices (Like “space”.  And “things”.) But in the end we had exactly what we wanted.

There was no way to imagine at the beginning of the journey how it would end. And how it would change our lives.


Among many other advantages our new life has given us is that we drive less and take transit more often. And we like it. When the car was available down a flight of stairs we used it all the time — whenever we went down town or out for dinner or over to the kids.  Even though transit was right there we didn’t even think about it, we had a car!  Why not use it?

But now we take transit all the time.  I take the 99 Express to work.  It takes a little more time than driving, but I read or knit, and there’s no problem getting a seat because I’m at the end of the line (both ends of the line).  We take transit down town, it’s less than half an hour and we don’t have to worry about parking.  We get down to Granville Island without going through the Hell that is finding parking on a sunny Saturday. If we want to take in a Night Market we can zip out to Richmond or take the Sea Bus to North Vancouver.  All in all Translink is a pretty good system.

So when Translink wanted to expand we were enthusiastically supportive.  Even when the Provincial Government said that the local governments would have to raise their share through a sales tax hike (.5%) we said yes.  But the Provincial Government wanted it put to a referendum; we said yes — but 62% of the region said no.


I was pretty steamed. Although I could also understand it.  It’s the old problem of trying to see the end of the journey from where you are now (comfortably behind the wheel of your car).

Others were also frustrated.  Peter Ladner in Business in Vancouver pointed out it was a pretty dumb idea in the first place (or as he put it more elegantly “Determining complex funding and planning issues with a single yes-no vote is an abysmal surrender of political leadership.”) Follow the link, he points out other lessons learned through the referendum process. Hard, nasty lessons, but lessons all the same.

But it was a column by Peter McMartin that put all my inchoate rage into a coherent verbal form. Read the whole thing, please, but for me this is the key issue:

The questions pile up. But the most perceptive question was one I heard in a conversation with Gordon Price, director of Simon Fraser University’s City program. To him, the plebiscite asked a question much more philosophical than yea or nay to a transit tax.

“To me,” Price said, “it was an existential question.

“It asked Metro Vancouverites, ‘Who are we?’ ”

Read more:

I have to agree with Peter McMartin that Vancouver is currently nothing special.  We’re in a lovely natural setting.  But we’re not living up to our reputation as innovative and free-thinking nature-lovers.  We just can’t imagine our lives without cars.

I want you to do it — to imagine your life with a dependable transit system that can take you all over the Lower Mainland.  Cheaply.  Easily. No congestion. Freeways with smoothly-running traffic from Horseshoe Bay to Hope.   Doing your shopping by hopping on and off the Broadway Skytrain.  Taking the family to the beach or the park on the bus.  No parking problems.  Less pollution.

Or how about this?  Using a service like ZipCar or Car 2 Go in combination with Transit.  Giving up the ownership of a vehicle that sits parked 90% of the time for greater freedom of mobility. Answering the question of Who are we? with “we’re the people with vision, we ARE the future, we embrace change for the better and accept the inevitability of the end of the automotive age. We are part of that change.”

Otherwise those of us who use transit will be forced to use a less reliable form of transportation:


(Less) Power to the people!

I chatted with Ian and Steve at the Home Discovery Show  on CKNW about the difference in the amount of energy we use here at the laneway house.  It really hit me this week when I signed up for BC Hydro’s Equal Billing.  We are paying $35 a month for our electricity now, back at the condo we paid $64 a month.  That’s a huge difference because even though our new home is about half the size of our old one, our condo was on the second floor of a three-storey building, so we only had two exterior walls.  Now we have four exterior walls over 1.5 floors, plus a roof and deck over the entire footprint.

But we don’t have to depend on lower energy bills to know our laneway is energy-efficient. Our house received an EnerGuide rating of 83 from BC Hydro.

Developed by Natural Resources Canada, an EnerGuide rating is a standard measure of a home’s energy performance. A rating of 0 represents a home with major air leakage, no insulation and extremely high energy consumption. A rating of 100 represents an airtight, well insulated, sufficiently-ventilated home that requires no purchased energy.

Power Smart new homes are required to achieve at least ENERGUIDE 80, higher than what’s required by the B.C. Building Code.

That rating put us in the “highly energy-efficient new house” category in their rating system.

This is “Offtober” at BC Hydro.  Visit their site to see how you can save on special deals from retailers; PowerSmart Programs; and play contests.


If you want to make some changes to your home you can take advantage of rebates and other incentives from the City of Vancouver, BC Hydro, and Fortis.   Find out more about that here.

If you are a low-income household you can take advantage of BC Hydro’s Energy Conservation Assistance Program.  Find out more about this here.

And if you just want to get started living a more sustainable life, pick up some hints here .

What does all this energy efficiency mean to us?  It means lower Fortis bills for a start.  We pay about $25 a month for natural gas for our heating and cooking (including our barbecue).  But it also means getting out of bed on a winter morning and feeling that radiant heat.  It means no cold corners, no nasty drafts.  It means comfort, as much as sustainability.



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Artist and Desert Dweller with Big City Style.


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