No Ones Coming

I had no idea who the person behind this phrase, “no one is coming … to help you,” that the Instagram algorithm kept serving me for some time. Her interesting sound drew me to find the person behind the voice.

Her message is the same schtick that many keep proposing on social media. Which was something we lived through for all those years in Taiwan. The government was at arm’s length, we had no social safety net, and in the early days, if we lost a job, we had to leave within 2 weeks. We lived under constant threats of natural disaster and Chinese sabre rattling and raised two kids constantly exposed to various endemics. We did have access to the world’s best healthcare. Self-reliance was required.

Returning to Canada, we thought we could relax now that we were under the umbrella of a comprehensive social safety net, but it has been proven on a few occasions that this is not necessarily true. Especially tonight when the City of Charlottetown has made more effort to ensure that people know that no help is coming from the city during the coldest night in memory. For those in need in Charlottetown, truly, no help is coming.


Crispiest


Taken this morning when it was a relatively balmy -10 or so. I’ve got multiple layers for the run home, but with the windchill threatening to bring the temps down to the -40 range, running across the Hillsborough bridge to Stratford might not be wise. At that temp, my exposed skin might suffer frostbite.


Our Overlords

I was stuck on a paragraph so I asked ChatGPT for help:

Write a paragraph detailing what two characters experience while walking through the forest.

As the two characters, Alice and Bob, walked through the dense forest, they couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder. The tall trees towering overhead created a natural canopy that filtered the sunlight, casting a warm and peaceful glow on the forest floor. They could hear the gentle rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds all around them, adding to the serene atmosphere. Suddenly, a rabbit scurried across their path, breaking the stillness and making them jump. Laughing at their own reactions, they continued on, admiring the diverse array of flora and fauna that surrounded them. As they walked, they also couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched, causing them to stick close together. Despite the eerie sensation, they were both grateful for this chance to explore the beauty of the forest together.

As Sarah and Jack walk through the dense forest, they feel a sense of wonder and tranquility wash over them. The rustling of leaves and chirping of birds create a symphony that fills the air. Sunbeams peek through the treetops and dance across the forest floor, creating an ethereal glow. The smell of damp earth and pine is strong and invigorating. As they wander deeper into the forest, they come across a small stream that winds its way through the trees. They stop to listen to the gentle trickle of water and take in the peaceful surroundings. They continue on, feeling refreshed and at one with nature.

The character I was writing about was sitting at a table doing some math homework. I don’t really know what a child his age does for math. Normally finding this out would require the annoying experience a filtering through the garage from paid placement or content farms on Google search, but ChatGPT provided a clean and good enough answer for the purpose at hand.

Describe a math problem that a student would study in grade 6.

In grade 6, students often study a wide range of mathematical concepts and problem-solving strategies. One example of a math problem that a grade 6 student might encounter is:

A rectangle has a length of 12 meters and a width of 8 meters. What is the area of the rectangle?

To solve this problem, a grade 6 student would use their knowledge of basic arithmetic and the formula for finding the area of a rectangle (length times width). In this case, the student would multiply 12 by 8 to find the answer, which is 96 square meters. This type of problem helps students practice their computational skills, as well as their understanding of basic geometry concepts such as area and perimeter.

I’ve heard people discuss this topic ad nauseum, but I haven’t had the opportunity to try it for myself.


Crisper

Taken during yesterdays running commute to the office. The weather has made running an adventure. The day before (?) I was wading through ice cold water that was up past my ankles, yesterday I was climbing snow banks in search of a sidewalk. Stratford does a great job of maintaining their trails but once you get off the bridge the sidewalk ends and you are on your own until you find a maintained sidewalk or take the risk of running on the road. Today we have another rain storm, which I didn’t feel like dealing with, and so I drove the car.


At what price

One of the many reasons we left Taiwan, specifically and life abroad generally, was the desire to have a sense of permanence that we didn’t feel we had where we were living.

We wanted a home. A physical and emotional place that we knew would be there whenever we returned from where we had been. Taiwan provided that, but there was always this undercurrent of uncertainty and the feeling that despite our best efforts, we might forever be considered “honoured guests.” We had an extensive social network there, were involved in the community, and knew the place better than perhaps this Island we again call home.

I knew the costs of leaving. I had access to my mother’s finances and knew the cost of living here was much higher. Amongst many things, we would likely have to forgo the luxury of cheap fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat and fish. My mother was always amazed that we could comfortably afford to eat salmon and steak regularly at breakfast and dinner.

Other places in the world had a lower cost of living and much better health care, but none could compete with the desire to return home after over 20 years abroad.

We created spreadsheet after spreadsheet to help plan for the move. Was it possible to live the lifestyle we were accustomed to? Not entirely, but it seemed close enough. Most of our decision-making has little to do with numbers and more to do with emotion. In work and life, I have always preferred qualitative measurements vs. Quant.

None of our thinking or calculations could have foretold a pandemic and the rocketing cost of housing.

When we finally realized there was a housing supply problem, we considered buying a house sight unseen. But we have become risk-averse, and most places we saw were houses, not necessarily homes. We never really understood the Canadian obsession with real estate as an investment. So we decided to wait.

Since then, houses we might have bought before have doubled in price. Some tripled. And with nothing in the way of upgrades that might justify such a lofty valuation. We have terrible timing.

We are now in a position where we are ready again to buy a home. Where we live now has served us well financially, but I get the feeling that no matter where you rent on the Island, you will always face with some regularity neighbours who seem hell-bent on making other neighbours’ lives difficult. That’s been our experience.

But I am faced with a question. Is it worth it? If we are fortunate to live so long, over the next 20 years, we could spend over $500,000 to live in a small house on the Island. That’s a heady increase over what it was just 3-4 years ago. And with the high cost of living and lack of health care, it gives me pause.

I don’t have a definitive answer to that question. The quant side of my brain says no. The qualitative side is unsure.


Crisp

It’s great to be relying on my feet again to get places. We drove to Halifax on Friday in the midst of a snowstorm which added an extra 90 minutes to an already long drive. It must be 20 years or more since I’ve driven in that kind of weather.


Pot of gold

It’s a strange world we now live in.

Sheryl is suffering from a nasty respiratory infection, which, while not life-threatening, makes sleep difficult, prolonging the whole getting well process. Attempts to find medicine to provide relief failed, with one pharmacist telling me she expects more supply in April. Not being able to find basic cold meds is something we have never experienced before, one of many weird firsts since returning to The Island.

I tried to book her an appointment with a doctor, but you have a greater chance of winning the lottery than getting into a walk-in clinic in Charlottetown.

Fortunately, when out buying groceries last night at the Superstore, I saw in the distance a couple of stray packages amongst the out-of-stock stickers in the medicine aisle. It felt like I had found gold.

Hopefully, this medication will bring her some comfort so that she gets some rest (the only real medicine) and finds herself back to normalcy.


Someone is enjoying my specialty coffee

“Again our apologies on behalf of our shipping partner.”

This is a quote from Detour Coffee who I have a coffee subscription with. My order was picked up on the 19th of December but has been lost ever since.

This message is a variation on a theme from many online retailers including Amazon (when they ship out east), and notably Happy Ears, who said when they’re ordered shipped, that concludes your experience with us, or something to that effect. Eight Ounce Coffee does not use this language and likely has me as a customer for life.

The experience you have with a company does not conclude when whatever low-cost logistics company you have chosen comes to pick up the package. It continues until that package arrives safely and long after. Eight Ounce Coffee sends an email after a period of time to ask about your experience with the product you ordered. Amazon spams you with review requests and buy more emails. Others add you to their email lists. We send our subscribers an email a week later checking in (although it hasn’t scaled, and we haven’t been able to continue).

There is a huge difference between having your package set carefully at your door and a neighbour finding your box in a nearby snowbank (Amazon). Which company would you want to do business with?


Looking for Charlottetown

Much of the Island is closed today due to weather. The run across the bridge to the office wasn’t so bad, but the poor visibility meant running on Water street was not a risk I thought I should take. I slide across Water to Grafton in search of a sidewalk of some sort, and eventually found one when I arrived at Holland College. Running in weather like this beats driving and I’m happy that I live close enough to my office that it’s possible to do so.


A year in podcasting

I’m in the beginning stages of updating our media kit for Sleep Tight Stories and am compiling some data for the last year. We’ve had this data on the web for some time but it seems that our partners prefer a pdf file to pass around.

With a lot of projects that need to be done this month I am procrastinating, but I thought I would share this pithy bit of data from our year in podcasting.

In 2022:

  • > 19,000,000 million downloads
  • 1st month download: ~50,000 (Sleep Tight Stories)
  • ~ 80 original stories written
  • ~ 10 science episodes written
  • ~ 310 episodes published

Most popular episodes overall:

  1. Nibbles The Mouse 🐭,
  2. Bobby and the Dinosaurs 🦖🦕,
  3. The Magical Book of Dreams – P1 📖,
  4. Sparkle Gets Her Stripes 🐻🦄,
  5. Willie Bakes a Birthday Cake 🎂

  6. Top episode in Sleep Tight Science:
    Our Solar System ☄️

    Top episode in Sleep Tight Relax:
    Forest Breeze: Gentle Sounds for Sleep 🌲


January Blues

January is my least favourite month. I’m at my most pessimistic, usually a bit glum, and generally feel like sitting by a wood stove and reading until the weather warms.

This dislike of January has never abated, even during those days many years ago when we would travel and spend time on a warm beach.

It makes me less enthusiastic about work, which might explain all the emails I have yet to deal with. And my reluctance to do more than what is required.

Doctors recommend light therapy, meds, and other things I don’t have time for. What I will do is try to continue running, eat more and realize that this January, like all the others, will soon pass and bring with it more sun and warmth.


Cold

This was taken yesterday as we experienced what I consider the first real winter day of the season. Today crossing the bridge into Charlottetown Siri stated that the windchill was a chilly -16˙C. The run wouldn’t be possible without tractions aids snapped on to my running shoes, it’s too cold to salt, but at least the active pathway was plowed and safe. Where the sidewalk off the bridge connects with the rest of Charlottetown is a bit iffy as there is nowhere to run but the road or a snowed in patch of grass.


Finding New Traditions

6 years ago, I ran the Xiamen marathon. 5 years ago, we all went for a fun run in Jhubei, and in years past, we either spent an afternoon drinking coffee at our favourite coffee shop or hiking in the mountains.

When I was younger, New Years’ day was a time for family, with large gatherings for dinner. Later BBQ’ing in the snow was thrown in the mix. Most of our elders have passed, and the cousins are dispersed and disconnected, so family gatherings are a thing of the past.

Since returning to the Island, we have been searching for new traditions, and nothing has really stuck. We are lucky that our kids are still close and willing to spend time with us, particularly if a meal is involved.

The day started with a dip in the water for Camren. I may summon the courage to join him next year. Next, we discussed attending one or more Levee’s but making small talk with strangers is not always something I enjoy beyond superficial social niceties. Levees are more for extroverts.

After a bit of reading, it was time for a chilly run in the rain, followed by a feast of pork dumplings, which led to the kids reminiscing about their place of birth.

It was, all in all, a fine New Years’ day, much quieter than years past, but that is a feature of Island life, not a bug.


A different challenge

It’s getting difficult running to work as the temperature gets colder, what with the windchill when I cross the bridge and my general aversion to cold. The views remain as nice as ever.

My goal for running in winter is to stay upright, nothing more.


A Short Break

A wonderful Christmas was had, but there were no other plans for the holiday other than trying different pour-over recipes, running and reading. I had hoped to finish a couple books. We may have a trip to Nova Scotia at the end of the week, but that’s more work than pleasure.

I sat at the kitchen table this morning trying to think of some activities that didn’t involve shopping or spending money, and I came up blank. I don’t find the Island the most exciting place in winter, and there isn’t enough snow to try killing myself on skis. Almost all family we would have spent time with have passed away or moved to distant locales. So what is left is idleness or light work. I’ll always pick doing something over doing nothing.


These are not good people

While laying on the couch at night tired, I’ve made mistakes of late. One was ordering $100 worth of specialty coffee when we already had plenty, and the other was responding to a post on Instagram.

I’ve made it a point to follow voices online that come from a wide range of experiences and perspectives. To use labels I despise, many of these might be considered more conservative or on the right side of the political spectrum.

Many of these people have quickly become personalities and influencers and have acquired millions of followers.

I wrote a very gentle disagreement with a post by one such personality I had been enjoying for some time. He went on a sophomoric tirade, and I disagreed with him in the most innocuous manner, which was a trigger for many of his disciples.

The resulting pile-on was toxic, not overly threatening, but it was illustrative to me yet again just how broken discourse is. To them, at least if what they write is illustrative of their beliefs, you are either with them, or you are the enemy, and enemies are everywhere.

Lessoned learned, now I keep my phone away from my hands when I am tired, and I spend less and less time on anti-social media.


A Short Montreal Excursion

I flew with Camren to Montreal last week so that he could arrive in time to participate in a 1500m race at Point-Claire.

We had hoped that the swim team would go up together. Team building exercises are important; lumping a group of kids together on a bus is one way to build camaraderie. Unfortunately, after a couple of meetings, it was decided that each parent was responsible for delivering their own kids to the meet, as the cost of renting a bus has quickly doubled. During the last meeting, a few parents offered to drive more than their own and stated a Thursday departure, which would be too late for Camren, the only swimmer who qualified for the Thursday evening race. To get Camren there on time, we decided to fly. Later, we discovered that everyone had changed their minds and left a day earlier. This meant that the flight wasn’t necessary, which was unfortunate. Flying out of Charlottetown is incredibly expensive and inconvenient.

I’ve never flown in or out of Charlottetown in December (or any time of the year, really) without a problem, so I was very pleased that our flight to Toronto, then to Montreal, went without a hitch.

We took the bus downtown from Montreal airport to get something to eat. A quick search for “all-day breakfast” led us to La Luncheonette, a local café where we had a fantastic croissant breakfast sandwich. We bought seconds. Their coffee tasted fine, but the steamed milk was sans art. A highly recommended spot, close to the subway.

It’s hard to fill Camren, so we went to another nearby breakfast spot, Bagel St-Henri, where breakfasts were about $7, depending on how many eggs one desired. We decided to buy a few bagels but will return another time.

From there, we took the subway to a shopping centre so Camren could shop, but I soon remembered how much shopping at places like these sucks. Unless you are looking for a specific brand store, like Decathalon, they are devoid of “interestingness.”

After walking a bit, Camren started complaining about sore legs, which I was surprised about, considering I felt great and he’s the athlete. He then reminded me that his bag weighed about 50 lbs, while mine just contained a change of clothes.

So we rested and got bored.

Finally, I realized that I had booked a hotel room for myself, the team was staying elsewhere, and we could check in early and have a nap. Camren had been up since 2:30am to catch our 5:00am flight.

Uber stated a 20-minute trip, which would have had us arrive in time for a one-hour nap. That 20-minute trip turned into an hour due to a truck losing its load on the highway.

When we finally arrived at the location of the Holiday Inn, there was no Holiday Inn. It was nowhere to be found. Camren and I walked to the nearest hotel and were told that they had moved a couple years ago and that they still get people arriving daily wondering where the hotel was. No one had bothered to update the hotel listing on mapping services.

At this point, we were starting to get anxious as the time Camren thought he had to be at the pool was approaching. The hotel staff graciously called us a cab that delivered us Fast & Furious style to the pool.

We arrived at the pool at 3:30pm to find out that he wasn’t swimming until 8pm and that his coach wouldn’t arrive until about 4:45pm. All the other teams’ swimmers were warming up while ours had gone to the mall. Camren started getting anxious again, so more walking ensued.

Ultimately, it was his weakest swim of the three-day event. But despite the cost and my on-again-off-again saltiness due to miscommunication and mishaps, it was one of those experiences we will talk about for years to come. Well worth it.

I arrived in Charlottetown late the next night and left the next day for Truro. He returned with the team.


Humanity vs. Efficiency

From Peter’s blog:

Humanity vs. Efficiency
I don’t understand the role of this Bridging humanity and efficiency video from Health PEI — is it marketing? celebration? politics? education? — but it’s well-produced, and uncommonly clear for health system communications. Dylana Arsenault should be put in charge of talking to the public.

I see it as a damning indictment of our healthcare system.

When Dylana states that only 1.6% had their operations deferred with a smile, it undermined the whole premiss of the video. That statistic has a person attached, a person who likely had been waiting an egregious amount of time for surgery.


Stories are a lot like journeys

Kathleen T. Pelley sets an incredibly high bar when it comes to children’s story writing if you wish to include these three points:

… I think good stories are a lot like journeys:

They involve movement – a movement of your heart – that’s what the word emotion means. So a good story can move our hearts to feel, love or joy or hope or wonder.

They involve discovery – listeners should discover something about themselves, about the world, or both.

They involve souvenirs – I like to think of story “souvenirs” as those universal truths that linger with us long after that last word is uttered – some bolt of beauty or some whiff of wonder.


Not a beach day

Not for me, at least. The first photo was taken a few hours earlier, a week ago, when the weather looked far more seasonal than it is today. Tonight high winds and rain are in the forecast, which almost inevitably means the power will be out. After Fiona, I lost my mind and ordered a solar panel and battery to keep our devices charged. This, although not having power for such an extended time, meant we spent every evening together playing board games. The first time in years. A solar panel won’t be very effective in the dark or when it’s raining.

I post these photos almost daily to Instagram as I take a break from my run. A distance that used to serve as a warm-up is now a work out.


More Contact Info. Needed

Just when I thought all fundamental problems with designing for the web had been solved, I come across a significant misstep on the part of the Charlottetown Police.

Last week Sheryl and I were working late and driving up University avenue behind an obviously grossly inebriated driver. Luckily he did not go over 30km/h, but he was utilizing both lanes to make his way north.

I decided that a call to the police was in order before this driver, who turned out to be an older man who probably shouldn’t be driving in the first place, killed someone or himself.

I don’t have the police department on speed dial, so I searched my mobile browser for the Charlottetown Police, which led to their Wikipedia page, and, finally, their website. Nowhere on their website could I see the word contact. Nor could I see a phone number. This is all in plain sight on their desktop version.

So I hesitantly called 911, and we followed the driver as I gave directions to the police dispatcher. By this point, the man had left his truck at Swiss Chalet, failed to navigate the glass fence around the front of the restaurant, hit his head, and got back in his truck. Then driving over the sidewalk, he went up University until he turned right at the Sobeys, where the police quickly arrived to pull him over.

I have no idea what the proper use case for the 911 service is – I assume it’s for someone breaking into my house with an assault rifle kind of emergency.

What I do know is that no one thought that a person would want to contact the police via their phone. And may want to find their number via a simple Google search. Particularly someone who might have middle-aged eyes and be under stress or time constraints. Seems like an obvious situation to design for to me.


A Great Start

This view is the start to my work day. Its getting cold and once the snow starts it’s not always possible to find traversable sidewalks in Charlottetown, especially across the bridge, so I am enjoying this view while I can. It’s also a good way point for my run/walk routine as I reacquaint my body to running once again.


The Complainer

When I was in grade school the teachers used to report that I complained too much, a habit that hasn’t really abated now that I am older. In fact, it’s likely increased since we moved back to the Island with my common refrains about how everything here costs far more than where we lived before or larger Canadian centres as well. I also have a gift for exaggeration.

We have been lucky enough during this period of increased prices to be affected primarily by the increased cost of fuel. Sheryl drives to Souris for work. That effect has been minimized by lots of carpooling and the fact that I run to work every day. As we buy food based on cost, and not by whim or habit, we have managed to keep our grocery bills within acceptable increases. Variety has taken a hit and I miss some fresh foods.

But with a swimmer in the house and most meets being off-Island there seems to be no escaping the high cost of travel.

Camren has a meet in Montreal in December and the team has decided to not go up together – in part due to the bus rental costing $11,000 – and in part due to some parents surprisingly enjoying driving in Northern New Brunswick in winter. I don’t. They all have large SUVs and being kind offered to allow him to ride with them. But alas he needs to be there earlier, he and one other swimmer qualified for a couple long-distance races which occur before the others arrive.

The only way to get him there is to fly. Unfortunately, the cost of flying out of Charlottetown has reached the level of ludicrousness. The price I was given for a return flight for the both of us was not far off what we would have paid to fly from Taiwan and return in years past. We often talk about returning to Taiwan, so out of interest, I checked those prices out of Halifax as well. They are double.

Porter has some far more reasonable fares out of Moncton, but they leave at 6:30AM, which in addition to paying the bridge tax and gas, means an incredibly early start to your day.

It’s pretty hard to justify all this for a single race.

Our savior may be Aeroplan. I have accumulated enough points that he and I could fly there with only a small service fee. I had planned on using these to fly us all someplace warm in Asia, but with the high costs of travel that doesn’t seem possible in the near future. I have little faith in Air Canada but I’ll hope that when we get to the airport they will actually have a seat on the plane for us.


The Blackbox

We have had a tremendous run with our niche podcasting journey. I’ve been a part of a lot of projects over the years and helped create a lot of different products. What we have created here lacks the sophistication and all the moving parts of other products I’ve helped create, but none of them have had the impact that our audio has. Creating audio for kids to listen to and enjoy, is incredibly rewarding. And I love getting direct feedback from them and their families. Something not typically possible in a large company.

Another thing I have discovered while attending a writing workshop is the challenge of getting published and getting people to read your material. Every month kids listen to my stories millions of times – I’ve built an audience for my (albeit weak) writing.

Now here comes the but …

I’ve learned a lot about podcasting these past few years. From audio editing and sound design to growth and monetization, and everything in between. Despite this, some aspects are still a complete mystery to me.

There was a naive expectation on my part that if you create a product that people enjoy, and you get enough people enjoying this product that revenue will follow. Sort of build it and they do come.

It’s a simple formula: A (audio that people want to listen to) + B (scale) = C (revenue) In fact that’s all anyone ever talks about. When the inevitable question is asked, “how do I make money podcasting”, the answer is almost always the same. You need scale (or a very valuable niche).

We have scale. In fact, using the number of downloads we have as a standard, we may have one of the largest podcasts in Canada. We are not the largest globally by a long shot, there are many podcasts in our category which enjoy multiple more listeners than we do, but it should be enough.

My focus has been on creating audio, not ad sales. Our ad sales are handled by Advertisecast, RedCircle, and Gumball.

Last year at this time the future looked bright. We signed several family-friendly brands, which helped make this the first year I was able to pay myself and keep the lights on in our studio. The celebrations were short lived because since June there have been no new contracts and I have no idea why that would be. I’ve reached out to the ad sales companies above and implemented all their suggestions, but they have been not very forthcoming with any solid suggestions.

So I started calling others working in audio. The most successful creators are a part of networks, others take advantage of being in the US (Spotify), and others can’t understand what our problem might be.

It’s a black box.

Advertising is not our only source of revenue, but unfortunately, it is our largest. Without it, it’s hard to justify continuing, especially with the rising cost of doing things on this remote Island in the Atlantic.

The only real solution I have is to start doing ad sales myself. Then I might find more answers, but finding time to pitch brands will be difficult, considering I take very few days off now.


Writing Workshop

I’ve been attending a writing workshop held by Doug Malcolm at the Charlottetown Learning Centre these past weeks. I had no real goal in attending other than getting help with the fact that “I write all the time and yet I have no idea what I am doing”.

These classes are the first time since the pandemic that I have sat around a table with a group of strangers. How novel to sit around a table with a group of people and discuss something of interest!

I haven’t learned anything related to writing yet, though the paragraph writing exercise he had us do did lead to the story Chef Shan and the Cabbage Rebellion that I released on Stories Pod. Having to read something written on the spot was terrifying.

This is a great chance to discuss writing and to learn how others think via their writing. Last week no one showed up, which I assume is a common problem (and a reason I wouldn’t put on a workshop myself), but I hope the meetings continue. It’s a welcome break from my routine.


Home or a house

I admit that I never entirely understood housing as an investment, preferring perhaps the idea that you buy a house because you want a home.

One of the many reasons we left Canada so many years ago was a desire to not follow the rules of what I refer to as the game – all the things you need to participate in until you can no longer. Buy a car(s), house(s), insurance, and investments, and stay in the same place and job so that you can retire and then live. We traveled, did interesting work with interesting people, and sent our kids to cool schools instead. I guess some could do it all, but when I was in my 20s I didn’t see how.

Before we can home, we thought of buying a house. We got approved for a mortgage but they wanted 50% down because our income was from “the FarEast”. Buying a house sight unseen seemed risky. Even when I said, here is a tiny one for 100K, we demurred (one of those just sold for $350K with nothing more than new paint).

We lived in a bubble in Taiwan for much of our time there – I had no idea what was happening here and what other people did to live their lives. I could see whole cities being built in Taiwan and China, only later to realize that they were beautiful ghost towns. People would buy real estate as an investment. Renting an Airbnb wasn’t a thing in my experience. The result was that it created soulless districts that eventually looked overgrown with weeds and unkempt. It also drove up the price of housing so that now in Taiwan, young people can’t afford to buy, and they delay having families until the last possible moment.

Unlike many of our family and friends our age, we are asset poor but experience-rich. It has been at times a difficult choice to make.

This is a long-winded way of saying that it’s fine, and in my view desirable for a community to say that homes within that community should be for those who want to live in them. Empty homes suck the life out of a city. Surely there must be other easy investments for those with the leverage to buy multiple dwellings.

There is a municipal election in Charlottetown and Stratford. The two main candidates in Charlottetown are comprised of the incumbent, who at every opportunity deflects responsibility for all matters to other levels of government (except arenas), and a pro-landlord and likely by extension pro-short rental candidate. As such, I doubt we will see meaningful change unless more grassroots groups like Charlottetown Mutual Aid rise up to force those old white men like myself to make change. They are too invested in their current way of thinking to do so by themselves.


Survey culture strikes again

I’ve lamented on many occasions the reliance on surveys, especially poorly formed ones, to gather data to guide public policy or to direct business strategy. Their use is not always misplaced, but they have become so easy and prevalent everyone thinks that simply gathering data of any kind is enough, no matter if what they are gathering is irrelevant quant., when it should be qual..

But never in my wildest dreams would I expect an organisation to use a survey to determine whether or not the respondent receives aid so that they can buy food. Aid that was specifically donated so that people could receive it. What makes matters worse is that no where in the survey, to the best of my recollection was it explicitly stated that this would inform future aid.

This leaves me wondering, can this Provincial government do anything right? The most effective organizations are those who understand the people and the problem, not those sitting comfortably warm in their second or third home, far from the problems at hand. Thats why grass roots organizations, like Charlottetown Mutual Aid, who are actually talking to people, and use a no questions asked approach to dispensing aid, are far more effective.