The Summer Update

It’s been a few months since my last update and I’d like to say there have been some changes since then but it’s more like we’ve settled into a new normal of, for me, permanently working from home.

In some ways, this is an ideal set up for me. For years, I’ve wanted to work from home at will. Even before the pandemic, I worked from home at least once a week. Now, I’m not sure when I’ll be in the office next.

Since the lockdown, working from home was a bit difficult as the whole family was also working/schooling from home. My ability to focus was severely diminished. Now, with James at day camp and Kerry at work, I’m once again working from home. This would normally be great for me except I still can’t focus. I don’t know if it’s just the pandemic or *gestures broadly * all of this but my mind can barely focus long enough to complete a task.

So I decided to try something new: establish a fairly strict routine that involves daily exercise, strength training, food logging, reading books at night, breaking up my work day into blocks of time to work on projects.

I’ve put on ten pounds since March and have felt generally very sluggish, just waiting for everything to be over. But the fact is, it’s not going to be over for a long time so I’m trying to be a lot more proactive in how I manage myself.

This week, the government of Quebec announced they would allow up to 250 people to gather in public spaces. This seems premature and a lot of medical specialists agree. Schools are expected to reopen with students in six person bubbles. I have no idea how that is going to work. At the same time, the province’s chief medical officer asks that employees continue to work from home if they can. A lot of people have opinions but nobody really knows what to do. Or rather, nobody knows how we can safely live normal lives.

We spent our summer vacation in Quebec and spent a little time in Quebec City and the Eastern Townships.

Abbaye de Saint Benoît du Lac

It’s a shame it took a pandemic to realize how huge this province is with so many great places to visit.

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie-Jane Anders

I’m currently reading The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie-Jane Anders. I’ve enjoyed her writing since her days at io9 and this is her second novel, which is set on a planet that doesn’t rotate and therefore only a small section of the planet is livable for Earth’s far-flung descendants.

It’s quite good but I’m such a frustratingly slow reader that it’s taking ages to get through.

I’m also enjoying the new Perry Mason series on HBO which acts as a kind of origin story for the famous fictional defence attorney. I’m not normally a courtroom drama fan but this is a cut above and features some wonderful actors.

But here is where we’re at. Watching TV, trying to safely live a normal life, and knowing it’s going to be a while.

How are you all holding up?

The Pandemic Update

Should I start one of those substack newsletters all the cool kids are doing? Or would that just get updated once or twice a year like the blog?

Anyway, we’re in a pandemic! So we’re all hunkering down and streaming media content and baking bread and cleaning the house and painting the bedrooms and working, and schooling!, from home. And we will be doing so for the foreseeable future. I don’t expect kids will be back in school before September and I may be back in the office, I dunno, June? July? Fortunately, the job was always highly mobile so working from home in my recently completed home office isn’t an issue. I just never expected to be working from home and also trying to home school my kid and neither did I expect Kerry to also be working from home. So we’re all kind of tripping over each other.

Actually, Kerry still works at the hospital a few days a week which gives me a little bit of a pause as I worry about her contracting the virus, even with the extraordinary measures they have in place to protect the workers at the hospital.

But we’re both working and haven’t yet joined the six million people who have applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. I did take a pay cut of 10% which is a bummer but it beats being out of work.

Overall, I think the governments at both the provincial and federal level have been doing a reasonably good job managing this as they have been following advice of health officials. And most Canadians agree. I think generally, we’re civic minded folks who see the bigger picture and understand we have to modify our behaviour to help save lives.

It hasn’t all been good, of course. Seniors in rest homes are particularly vulnerable, as are some of the Indigenous population. The disease disproportionately affects people living in poverty. Some politicians are trying to use the pandemic to score political points and some conspiracy theorists think it’s all a plot to impose some kind of new world order and somehow 5G technology is involved.

And who would have thought the social media person for a frozen steaks company would be talking about why conspiracy theories take root?

Anyway, how are you guys holding up?

The Difficulty of Making Plans

The new year often brings, if not soon to be broken resolutions, at the very least a sense of taking stock of one’s life and a desire to make some adjustments where needed.

Over the holidays, we went back to Saint John where I had time to think about some of the things I wanted to do differently in 2020. Lose weight, yes, but also stop hating myself if I’m not at the weight I’d like to be. But also manage the finances a little better, be a little more on the ball at my job (attention to detail is an issue). Keep the house better cleaned. Maybe even hire a cleaner? Help our son is doing better at school.

So you get back from your trip, ready to make a plan to attack all your 2020 challenges and … the president of the United States provokes a war with Iran. Or we’re told we have less than 15 years to effectively slow down climate change and we know the chances of that are slim to none. Or there is another financial crisis around the corner and suddenly you wonder why are you making plans at all. There is so much out of our control that I understand why people these are choosing not to have children.

Was it always like this or are we just hyper-aware of everything at once thanks to smartphones? I remember the anxiety around nuclear war in the 80s. Maybe every generation has these moments and this one is simply the early 21st century iteration of it.

I hope there won’t be a war with Iran and that we are up to the task of tackling climate change but I fear we don’t have the leadership required to adequately handle either of those things right now. So I’ll keep making plans because the alternative is worse.

January 2020 Update

And so as we enter this first month of a new decade, and as we take down our Christmas decorations, we ponder the three months of salt and slush that is the climate change version of a Montreal winter and ponder our own mortality. Just me?

The wee lad is not so wee these days as he’s an eleven year old in grade five with an eye to starting high school in 18 months or so. He’s joined Scouts so he can keep going on camping trips. He’s generally an indoor kid with a YouTube obsession (which brings its own worries) but he loves camping.

I’m still at the law firm which has me going to Toronto fairly often. I like Toronto and could easily live there as long as I had a house with no mortgage because I honestly have no idea how they do it. A friend once said the only people who can swing it are power couples with six-figure salaries each. So we’re content to stick it out in a province whose current CAQ government sees us, being Anglos and immigrants, as a problem to be managed.

I’m still in the gym three days a week. You’d think after three years of this, I’d be lean and fit but you would be wrong. Apparently you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Generally I eat healthy meals but then I also snack a lot.

We had an election last month. It went as I expected: Trudeau would be returned to government but with a strong minority parliament. I’d like to think this upcoming parliament will be a throwback to the days of Lester Pearson and Tommy Douglas when many of the social programmes we enjoy today were passed as legislation. But who knows? He may just end getting support from the Conservatives and not bothering so much with the progressive stuff. They always say the Liberals campaign like the NDP and govern like Tories.

Other than that, we’ve got a trip to Cuba to look forward to and some long overdue renovations to the house to do. Here’s hoping 2020 turns out well for everyone.

Summer Update, 2019

Well, happy upcoming St. Jean Baptiste. Or is it summer solstice? According to some, if a music festival set for June 22 through 24 falls on those dates, it must be called the former, and not the latter. So they changed it. Seems like a minor thing but I suppose it would seem odd if a festival set around July 1st didn’t mention Canada Day. Or would anyone care? Such is language politics in this country. Less intense than in the past, but there is always a tempest in a teapot brewing somewhere.

Call the holiday what you like, but for us, next weekend, we’ll be bad Anglos by spending the holiday in deepest Ontario. And by deepest Ontario, I mean Ganonoque and Kingston for a tour around the Thousand Islands and a visit to the nephew’s house for a barbecue. The following weekend, my parents, sister, and brother in law are in town so we can see Through the Echoes at the Old Port.

Image result for py1

It’s a show organized by former Cirque du Soleil guy Guy Laliberté. I have no idea what it is but they promise a light show and, I dunno, a history of the universe. I keep thinking it’s going to be along the lines of one of those Pink Floyd laser light shows.

All this means we need to get our backyard patio finished before they get here. We have a postage stamp sized backyard that faces west with no shade, half of it set with concrete, the other half dirt. It was never a pleasant place to sit outside. I spent last weekend setting down paver slabs to create the thing and this week putting up a gazebo. This weekend, we’ll cover over all the mistakes I made with a carpet and potted plants.

Our intention with our little townhouse condo is to live there until retirement and then buy a small, two bedroom condo that is newly constructed, walking distance to the metro and requires absolutely no renovating whatsoever. When I think of our kitchen and the work and expense required, I cry a little bit.

Beyond that, things are as well as can be expected. I still enjoy the job and the freedom I have to work from home when required, or really, whenever it’s more convenient than taking the train downtown. It will be very convenient to work from home when my line shuts down for two years to build the new train. Alternate routes involve traveling halfway to down the line, getting bussed to a metro and hoofing it into the office, adding an hour each way. You can imagine why working from home is more optimal.


Image result for years and years bbc

Years and Years.

Russell T. Davies was good at writing believable human characters in fantastical situations when he was running Doctor Who.

Now he’s writing an HBO/BBC miniseries about a normal and very modern English family navigating the increasing brutal next ten years as a coarse, populist politician played by Emma Thompson rises to power in a post-Brexit, socially fragile U.K. It’s all very terrifying and very plausible as people simply become used to the changes as rights are stripped away and things like concentration camps are justified as simply a British invention from the Boer War.


Jade Bird

Fairly new artist on the scene. She has a nice, stripped down rock that I imagine will sound nice on terraces this summer.


CBC’s daily morning podcast that takes on a single news story for a detailed discussion has been a staple of my morning commute for months now.


I’d like to read more blogs, to be honest.

And how are you all?