Archive for April, 2020

Day 32

10:35 am. Skipped a few days of writing, was out of town. Did you miss me? LOL! So it’s a rainy day again, lots of it coming and on the way. The final day of April showers. Plus 12C. Daffodils are in full bloom. Lots of wind.

I was thankfully away from news for a few days, and it seems we are now well on the way to seriously re-opening economies. We are barely at the point of curves flattening and yet we are taking this risk to re-open. World at 3,218,000 cases and 228,625 dead. Mortality 7.1%. USA at 5.9%. Canada 6.0%. Sweden 12.3%. Estonia 3.1%. Granted, these numbers are skewed to inflate mortality rates since we have not yet been able to test anywhere near the number of people we should be testing. Especially in light of that Ohio prison study which showed the overwhelming majority could be asymptomatic carriers. I’ll be scouring the news today and tomorrow, preparing for my news broadcast but these numbers are far from encouraging. It does appear however, that survival of our economies will tilt the balance in favour of re-opening. And lives will be sacrificed. We are the modern age Aztecs, willing to give up life for profit.

I had a chance to do lots of introspection and meditation these past few days. And I conclude that I am quite satisfied with my life. I’ve made mistakes, but nothing that is cause to sink into a funk and doubt where I am. I’ve never consciously set out to hurt anybody. I have made questionable decisions that in retrospect have caused injury to others. Who has not done that? We are all guilty to some degree and the benefit of hindsight is a luxury and a curse we sentient beings enjoy and endure. I resolved to live and enjoy the moment even more than I have to date. Carpe diem. Because this pandemic has surely opened up all our eyes to the fact there may not be a tomorrow. Let’s hope Bob Geldof is wrong in his assessment that we will revert to same old same old after the fury has passed. Part of me agrees with him, but I’m trying to suppress that negativity and cynicism. The closer you get to the end, the more you appreciate the importance of the present.

I’m out of coffee and ham. So a quick run to town and back. Carpe diem everybody!

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Day 29

6:44 am. Another rainy day. Temperature still barely above freezing. Meh. I think I shall paint a volleyball to look like ‘Wilson’ and set it up in the living room. It’ll make talking to myself more normal, at least in my mind. We all do it, but now even more so. Having a real as opposed to an imaginary character to engage with might even ease the mental downside of social distancing and isolation. And make me feel like it’s ‘normal’! Who knows? Wilson could even have some answers for me.

I started a vegetable garden yesterday. As much as I hate weeding, perhaps I can pass that responsibility on to my Son. He’s expressed an interest in doing some veggie gardening when he gets home from his military obligations overseas. So a variety of veggies have been planted, quite innovative use of egg cartons if I do say so myself!

Yesterday was a write off. Rained most of the day. I paced in the house, picked away at some books, and watched a couple Netflix movies. One was quite entertaining though, ‘Planet of the Humans’. Quite an intriguing expose of the entire green energy industry. It reveals how much big business and corporate interests have infiltrated even that sector of our economy. You’ll be shocked to see how naïve it is to think that installing solar panels or wind turbines or bio mass energy plants is helping the environment. Kudos to Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs for this well researched documentary. Well worth the TV time folks, but it will not leave you feeling good. So if one needs to become a bit more cynical and jaded this is the documentary for you!

I was reflecting more on that Ohio prison population study that revealed 96% of inmates who tested positive for Covid-19 were asymptomatic. I do hope the medical pros out there are following this closely. What if those asymptomatic inmates develop symptoms? Or how long a time frame passes before one develops symptoms? Or will they ever develop symptoms but go on being asymptomatic carriers? Can you imagine the kind of world we will be living in if a person can carry the virus, be asymptomatic, but at the same time be able to transmit it to others?! It is a frightening thought, but one that must be investigated completely. We’re in for social distancing for many more months folks. Let’s just pray that the re-opening of economy roll-outs that are starting to happen will take this potential worst case scenario into consideration.

Stats. Worldwide 2,982,933 cases with 206,811 dead. Mortality rate 6.9%. USA 5.7%. Italy 13.5%. Canada 5.6%. Sweden 11.7%. Estonia 3.0%. The curves are flattening but it’s those asymptomatic cases that really have me worried.

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I’m afraid I side with Bob Geldof on this. Look back though history and try to convince yourself that humanity has become more empathetic, that we are better as a peoples. I don’t know. Hope does spring eternal, but hope without meaningful change won’t matter a bit. We are certainly at a crossroads. What will the new direction be?

Bob Geldof says world won’t change due to COVID-19

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Day 28

6:59 am. Looks like a rainy day coming. But yesterday was fabulous. I got my first ride of the season in. Geared up in the am, leggings, a few layers, tires inflated and off I went. The first 2 km were a bit tough, just getting into the rhythm and navigating the bloody potholes on Lakeside. But, halfway to Consecon my mind opened up, started to feel the zen and the spinning became progressively easier. Very little wind but lots of bugs. That was the irritating thing, however over the years you learn how to breathe and angle the head so they don’t bug you as much. I did the Stinson Block loop, an easy ride with very little gradient change. There has not been much change along this route, other than the massive insider property has sold. Several hundred acres. I wonder if the Thompson’s or Stronach’s added this to their property holdings? Stopped to chat with one of my clients in Consecon, Geraldine is working on her gardens. Amusing how everybody has found a love for gardening this year. Amusing but somewhat sad considering the circumstances. But why dwell on the negative! It will be a superb season for cycling or driving around and garden viewing. We should start up a Trillium award program again. Remember decades ago, when towns would award gardening Trillium awards to deserving property owners? I recall on my childhood street how this award was a much coveted symbol, proud recipients would stick them in the gardens to announce their superior gardening skills. It was a friendly competition, at least in my neighborhood. I recall my childhood friend Henry’s folks would win almost every year. They had a row of 10 Trillium awards staked in their front garden, proudly announcing their decade long string of gardening skill. It did make one just a little envious, but not in a malicious way. I really couldn’t care less at the time, but Mom would comment with some envy on her neighbor’s fabulous gardens. You had to accept that they were well deserving of this, the amount of time the missus spent out there weeding and planting.

Back to the present. Before my ride I managed to switch the winter tires for summers on the wagon. And the last tire was quite hilarious. I took off the winter, wire brushed the rims, then lined it up and reattached the winter tire again. Lug nuts and all! As I rounded up the other winters to put in the wheel barrow and haul back to the mini barn, it struck me that something was odd about the tread pattern on that last tire. I had reattached the winter tire! Duh! Completely zoned out, a sign that the mind was not exactly focused on the task at hand. So had to take it off again, and put the summer tire on. That certainly drew a chuckle and head shake. It almost convinced me that I was too tired to go for a ride, but forced myself to gear up and go. So glad I did. Now that the first one is done, the rest, like any form of exercise, become much easier to do.

And what is going on in corona world? Looks like we are moving toward a re-opening of economies. Inevitable. Cannot have the state support the entire country for an extended period, that would be ruinous. But these stats make me question the advisability of opening now. Worldwide cases 2,911,000 and deaths already above 200,000! USA mortality at 5.7%. Italy 13.5%. Canada 5.6%. Sweden 12.1%. Estonia 3.0%. And an incredibly disturbing stat from Ohio. Testing of their prison inmate population showed that 3,300 tested positive and 96% of those were asymptomatic! Get your head around that! Almost everybody who tested positive did not show any symptoms of this disastrous virus! How the f..k can we even be thinking about re-opening anything at this time??!!

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Day 26

7:22 am. A very calm Saturday morning. Sunshine day. Lake is calm. Treeline on the opposing shore reflected. Every branch is cloned on the waters surface. Morning coffee has been savoured. CBC radio providing a peaceful sound track. I reflect on this surreal world we live in. So many dead in Nova Scotia. So many dead throughout the world, but at least the pandemic is something we can understand and prepare for. How does one prepare for death at the hands of a killer wearing a trusted police uniform? What will be everybody’s mindset going forward whenever you encounter a policeman again? A routine traffic stop? Not so routine any more. I know I shall be watching the policeman every step he or she takes toward my car. The trust that has been shattered will take a long time to rebuild. I know the Nova Scotia murders were so out of the ordinary. That I should be able to have faith in my police. But faith has been shattered. And it is not just the Nova Scotia murders. The pandemic has done it’s majority share of eroding faith. It’s a struggle to stay focused in the moment.

So today is finally going to be my first bike ride. Forecast looks very ideal. Sunshine. Plus 14C later. Very much looking forward to zoning out and just spinning.

Another rental cancellation yesterday. Nobody is booking any travel this summer. What a mess.

OK. What else is on tap? My fingers sit poised over the keys but nothing happens. I do believe I shall get the mechanic’s clothes on and go do those tires. Y’all have a great day. Try to see the light.

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Diane Francis: The National Post

Canada and the United States should join forces by banning all oil imports from Saudi Arabia, Russia and other OPEC countries and replace it with oil produced right here in North America.
The creation of an OPEC-free market would protect our two countries from price shocks and ensure our energy independence. Given OPEC’s ongoing sabotage of international oil markets, a bilateral energy pact will be essential going forward.

The U.S. and Canada produce as much oil as Saudi Arabia and Russia combined and can produce more than enough to meet our combined domestic needs. By 2019, the Canadian and American oil industries were already heavily integrated. Western Canada exported 4.4 million barrels a day of oil to the United States, and the U.S. exported one million barrels a day to eastern Canada. We also imported from foreigners: up to half a million barrels a day was imported to eastern Canada, mainly from Saudi Arabia, but also from Norway, the United Kingdom, Nigeria and Azerbaijan. The United States produced more than 12 million barrels a day, but also imported another two million barrels daily from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Mexico and Colombia. COVID-19 has revealed the danger of relying on foreign supply chains, whether it be for masks or commodities

By banning offshore oil, an additional market of up to 2.5 million barrels a day would be freed up for American and Canadian oil producers, if demand returns to pre-pandemic levels. (Canada would already be self-sufficient if Energy East had been built, but Quebec’s pipeline ban from the West is supported by the Liberals and separatists. This is despite polls showing that most Quebecers would rather use Canadian oil.)

A bilateral deal will simply mean that eastern Canada will get all its oil from American, rather than overseas, suppliers. The U.S. and Canada each have more than enough capacity to meet that additional requirement, and then some. This would ensure that our oil supply would be secure and less vulnerable to cartel pricing schemes.
The oil price collapse was triggered by a 30 per cent decline in demand due to the coronavirus lockdowns, but was worsened when Saudi Arabia flooded the market with oil. This was part of its long-term strategy to drive the higher-cost shale and oilsands industries out of business, so Saudi Arabia can hold us to ransom once more.

This is why the country should be shut out of our oil supply and reasonable, regulated prices — for producers and consumers — should also be established. Would this mean higher prices in North America since shale and oilsands are more expensive to produce than Middle Eastern oil? No. OPEC’S cheaper production costs have never been passed along to Western consumers and, worse, their enormous profits have been pocketed by the thieves and despots who meddle in our politics and cause trouble around the world.

COVID-19 has revealed the danger of relying on foreign supply chains, whether it be for masks or commodities. Oil is a strategic commodity, since it is the lifeblood of modern economies. We have lots of it and must gain control over its supply — permanently.

Now is the time to dump OPEC and establish a bilateral oil deal that would capitalize on the competitive advantage of North America’s vast resources. Bilateral energy self-sufficiency will also optimize the buying power and value of our currencies. If Canada’s oil export industry is permanently crippled, the Canadian dollar will fall to 60 US cents or lower.

A new deal will increase the size of the pie for these vitally important industries on both sides of the border, and protect consumers from gouging by offshore price-fixers. Frankly, it’s a no-brainer.

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Day 25

6:53 am. Sunshine. Cold. Minus 9C!!! It’s bloody well April 23!!

This is playing out like a science fiction story. Except we are writing it in real time. Every day a new chapter is added. A cast of characters one could not conjure up from imagination. A president who makes Dorian Gray look like a saint. Russian oligarchs and despots. Canadian narcissists who care more about the color of their socks than their country’s future. Chinese cloak and dagger. Billionaires funding hail mary vaccine programs. And nobody knows the ending. If there even is an ending. Or are the endings very different depending on what country you live in? The only common thread is the virus. Corona virus. It throws generational norms and structures right out the window. Hell, right out the window and off the train. We awake as normal, but know there is nothing at all normal about the course the day will take. What strange curves will the rails find? Will the train remain on the tracks? Or will it veer into some swampy bog or off the cliff? If ever was the time to live off the grid it is now. Find some far away place where nobody can source you. The middle of a jungle. Or far into a forest below a treacherous mountain pass. On an island in the south pacific. Stay home and stay safe because we are still miles from re-opening our economies.

“As an active shooter was on the loose in Nova Scotia Sunday morning, the U.S. Consulate in Halifax sent emailed alerts to its citizens warning of the danger at a time when the RCMP was using Twitter to communicate the news.
Questions have been raised as to why no emergency alerts were transmitted to Nova Scotians’ cellphones and television screens as a rampage was underway that would leave 23 dead, including the gunman.” M. Macdonald and K. Doucette from National Post.

It is unconscionable that our police service failed so miserably to warn the public of this lunatic shooter at large. Twitter!!?? We have been inundated with Amber Alerts warning us to keep our distance from fellow citizens during the pandemic, to ensure we are self-quarantining on return from overseas, yet this supposedly vital public alert system was completely ignored while 23 people were murdered during a 14 hour rampage in Nova Scotia. For 14 hours this killer was on the loose, and all the RCMP did was send out Twitter messages??!!

If you caught the CBC news you heard the interview of one of the victim’s brothers. A man who had to hide in the forest for 4 hours while the killer narrowly missed finding him as he methodically gunned down one person after another until the macabre toll reached 23 dead. This guy was hiding for so many hours, praying for an alert, for somebody he could trust, to come and rescue him and his neighbors.

After all the mass murders western society has seen, after all the inquiries following such atrocities, after all the post facto hand wringing and remorse, once again we have failed. This is why I get fatalistic and cynical about our ability to learn anything at all from this pandemic. Things may improve as far as people feeling good about themselves and helping others, at least in the short term. But I fear we will fall back into this sad pattern of same old same old when/if we do come out of the pandemic.

Heads must roll in Nova Scotia starting with the RCMP commissioner and the full slate of superior officers who were in control of the Amber Alert system. The fact that the American consulate sent out email alerts to their citizens in the area, and used information from the RCMP notification on Twitter, and that Canada’s own citizens were not notified at all by their protection agencies is abhorrent and outrageous. Twitter for God’s sake! Is that elderly couple sitting in their Nova Scotia back country living room looking at Twitter on a Sunday morning?! So dispense with the usual public inquiries and Royal Commissions after the fact, and fire all the leaders who failed so miserably in their duties.

As for stats, there is no point reviewing them today. Let’s mourn instead for those 23 victims in Nova Scotia.

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Day 24

Ready for another month because those numbers just keep exploding higher.

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Day 23

7:11 am. Ugly day. Gray. Wind. Rain. Cold. Not what one would call a good mental health day. Indoors again. Thankful I did go into town yesterday to do a major supply run. I hit three different stores, all for groceries. Floor markers indicate direction of movement, up one aisle, down another. The usual Canadian politeness is enhanced to an almost silly degree. People stop with their shopping carts and will not pass you in the store without receiving permission. I get a dirty look from one shopper when I had to retrace my route having forgotten some items. Store clerks are all very polite and efficient. Carts are wiped down before you can get one. Disposable plastic bags are back in use, reusable ones discouraged. I was directly cautioned to ensure my reusables did not contact the store merchandise. Many people waring masks and gloves. One lady had a mask made from J-cloth disposable wash cloths! Liquor store was closed Mondays, new policy. All in all, an uncomfortable shopping experience for a guy who dislikes shopping in the first place! So anyway, knocked off everything on my list and got the hell out of Dodge. I am well supplied for another month.

The almost absurd drop in West Texas Intermediate oil futures yesterday got me reading more about how that market works. The price of WTI for May delivery was a ridiculous minus $39 per barrel! Another words, oil producers would pay you $39 a barrel for their oil! The reason for this? There is nowhere to store it. Nobody was buying, as storage space world wide is at a premium. And there are 6 supertankers filled with 2 million barrels apiece, steaming toward the Gulf Coats refineries in USA. That only adds to the glut. Yet October delivery of WTI is priced at plus $31 per barrel. So. If you have somewhere to store oil, you basically get someone to pay you $39 per barrel to store it, and then sell it in October for $31 per barrel. Fortunes will be made in this market. Unreal.

And in Canada we now have the worst mass killing in our history. The death toll in Nova Scotia has reached 19 after the rampage by some lunatic driving a police care replica and wearing a police uniform. More unreality into an already surreal life we live.

The United States President plays politics with peoples lives. He is encouraging citizens of Democratic controlled states to protest and encourage returns to work. This in the face of all science data that says it is way too early! Our own Prime Minister was more concerned about his image and color of his socks during the recent TPP trade negotiations and was just accused by the last prime Minister of Australia of almost derailing those talks . He called him ‘flaky’.

World cases: 2,494,915. Deaths: 171,249. Mortality rate 6.9%. USA mortality 5.4%. Canada 4.6%. Italy 13.3%. Sweden 10.7%. Estonia 2.8%. Singapore 0.1%. But, Singapore with arguably the world’s best health care system saw a spike in new cases yesterday to their highest level yet! So, is it safe to re-open the world economy? I think not.

It’s definitely a television day today. See y’all tomorrow.

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Day 22

Empty. Mourning. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Retribution. Tragedy. Senseless. Madness. Strength. Hope. Anarchy. Lawlessness. Crisis. Covid-19. Pandemic. Violence. Death.

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