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.


Catriona’s 19th

The day the Fiona hit was Catriona birthday so our annual sojourn to New Glasgow for dinner was prudently put on hold. Unfortunately they decided to close for the season so we took her for lobster at The Water Prince Shop on Saturday.


Fiona Day 3

We are back in our studio on Victoria Row, marvelling at the fact that when you flip a switch, a light turns on. We also have somewhat limited Internet access.

I ran around our neighbourhood in Stratford yesterday and it was sad to see so many lovely trees felled by the strong winds. Some utility poles were snapped, and lines down, so I don’t expect we will have power anytime soon. It’s amazing that so much of our critical infrastructure is strung between teetering wooden poles.

We have a limited social network on the Island but people we have met have been kind – my colleague gave us a 5G hotspot on loan, so that we can keep in touch with the outside world.

We do have some packaged food left and some fuel to heat it with, so we should be good for a couple more days. Hopefully by then other options will appear.


A Weekend Off

I’m sitting here in my kitchen, safe, warm and dry, drinking a lovely single origin from Peru that I brewed on my camp stove.

We’ve been through all kinds of natural disasters from the 921 earthquake, which leveled mountains and towns, to yearly typhoons which blew everything off the island not battened down. Being prepared for such things is something we are accustomed to but we’ve become somewhat complacent since returning to this gentler Island, and as such when we heard that this was going to be a “historic” hurricane we were caught somewhat unprepared.

Our food stores had expired and we were a bit short on fuel for our camp stove. The disadvantage of living in a place that relies entirely on electricity for heat, lights, and cooking is that once that disappears, modern life becomes less … modern.

We’ve done fine so far, we made food ahead of time and we have enough power banks to keep devices humming for days.

But what good are these devices if you can’t use them? This is perhaps the greatest surprise of this whole experience. Never in all the calamities that we’ve lived through, have we been unable to communicate with the outside world. In PEI, and other parts of Atlantic Canada, cellular service has been unavailable. According to some reports 911 service is unavailable as well. It took hours for me to finally check in with my 91 year old Uncle and the call failed half way through. What if he needed help?

Luckily we have a radio stored away in our survival kit so that we could listen to news updates. The CBC was having a hard time initially staying online as well.

We’ve now been without power for 36 hours. I think the CEO(?) of T3 Transit explained it well on radio the criticality of our electric infrastructure – you can’t even get fuel without power to the electric pump. It’s surprising how few backup systems there are in place.

We were greeted by the Mayor of Stratford yesterday as we went for a walk to survey the damage and realized that the town hall was open. He and other staff kept the coffee hot and made sure people could charge their devices and use Wi-Fi to communicate with others. It’s wonderful to see that level of care for the community.

I had a zoom call today and no way to reach out to say I was unable to attend. So I went to Town Hall again to see if I could either join the call or send an email to say I couldn’t. Unfortunately their network was overloaded with the hundreds of people looking to connect to the outside world and charge their devices. Instead we connected with neighbors over apple pie and coffee. We’ll go back later for a hot shower.


IRAC Vs. Renters

The recent announcement by IRAC to dramatically raise the allowable rental increase on the Island for the coming year affects us – we rent. Thankfully we won’t be left homeless or miss meals like others might, but because our money has limits it might mean no restaurants, which is already a rarity due to the high cost – low reward aspect of eating out in Charlottetown. It will also have an effect on charitable giving. Yes our rent is already that high.

Housing as an investment is weird here in Canada, at least from my inexperienced eyes.

In Taiwan, my experience was that people viewed real estate as an easy investment, an appreciating asset that could either be sold or used later in life. But they wouldn’t rent the house with the same regularity that you see here. Being a landlord was too much of a hassle, and often times we would have to convince landlords that we wouldn’t cause their asset to depreciate.

In Canada, it seems landlords use various means to mortgage a house, then have renters pay the mortgage, while they gain not only the value of an appreciating investment but also a profit from the renters.

The Taiwan model I witnessed resulted in whole districts being built with beautiful buildings, but no one living in them.

The Canadian model seems to create a return to a kind of serf – lord relationship.

In Taiwan it was understood that we could find another place to live with relative ease. So if we had a landlord with unrealistic expectations, or who was uncooperative, we would simply move. Adequate supply makes the relationship more equal.

Canada has no supply, and as such you have no recourse.

One of our many mistakes in moving home was not buying a house before we arrived. It seemed too risky with no steady income, and we wanted more than just a house, we wanted a home. Of course those houses have doubled in value in the past few years, but we didn’t have a crystal ball, and we knew nothing of real estate in Canada.

We are in a better position to buy now, we are more settled, but the question that we keep wondering, is this investment worth it? It was 4 years ago, but now at 2x the cost? It seems everyday the answer inches closer to no, but renting on the Island is not tenable over the long term (for many reasons), so that may mean a move to somewhere else. Somewhere with a functioning medical system perhaps, maybe Europe this time, instead of Asia?


Goodbye prime

“Your HappyEars Canada order is now complete.”

I’ve been shopping for earplugs to replace the freebies I received from Upstreet brewing a few years ago when I was there to hear Lady Soul. They were handing them out when people started complaining about the excessive volume, to which the sound engineer just laughed and turned the volume up even more.

HappyEars didn’t work for me, but I always thought that the language was odd considering I had yet to receive the product. Doesn’t my experience with the company continue after they receive my money? And shouldn’t they consider that?

The same can be said with Amazon, whose Prime we stopped subscribing to as the value proposition all but disappeared. In major markets Amazon handles delivery but PEI being remote, Amazon relies upon low cost providers for the last mile of service. When they used Purolator and Canada Post, service was great, now more often than not you will see someone pull up in their car with the backseat overflowing with packages. The results are predictably poor.

Over the winter we would see our packages in snow banks or tossed at random doors. Today I got a phone call telling me they found my package outside.

Considering that Amazon deliveries are slow at the best of times, why would you choose to subscribe to Prime? More TV? Admittedly the ability to order just coffee filters was nice, but some advance planning is all that’s needed, and Mother earth might appreciate the smaller carbon footprint.

The effect to Amazons profits of losing some customers in the Atlantic region due to poor experience is infinitesimally small, but smaller companies should find ways to at the very least let their customers know that they are there with them throughout the customer journey.


Coffee prices

With the exception of the cost of fuel, in much of our day to day the effects of rising costs brought on by the cause of the day hasn’t seemed to be that apparent. We eat less steak and fish, but that’s been a thing for years.

Today it hit home. We’ve been buying coffee from a number sources since we moved back, finally settling on 49th Parallel and Green Beanery as our most frequent place to purchase beans. Coffee of the quality we buy we consider our treat; other people buy wine, we drink good coffee.

Coffee has gone up since the pandemic but not so much so that we had to reconsider our habit (I drink about 5 cups a day).

Today marked a change. I abandoned a Green Beanery order because the shipping seemed excessive. Heading over to 49th Parallel I thought to restart my subscription until I saw the new shipping price. Our subscription was once 3 bags of single origin for $50 shipped, a great deal for the quality of beans. That subscription is now $80, a result of increased shipping costs, though I don’t see an increase at Canada Post who they ship with.

We do now have a good roaster in town, so perhaps we will be relying on her more often.


New Glasses

I received a pair of computer progressives yesterday which now allow me to see all the UI of Logic Pro, and text in general, with greater clarity. The effect is more magnifying glass than simply bringing objects into focus, so I’m not sure I will stick to it, but will give it a couple of weeks.


Thailand redux?

I run my life via my Aeroplan Visa card and have over the course of the past few years slowly accrued a lot of points.

Yesterday I found out that I have enough points to fly the four of us from Halifax to just about anywhere we might want to go. Flying to Thailand would leave some points for a flight elsewhere.

For some reason I hoard points like its real money (see Loss aversion) – I have enough PC Optimum points to buy weeks of groceries – but perhaps it’s time while we are all still under the same roof, to have a family vacation in one of our most beloved places, and enjoy some sunshine during the cold Canadian winter. Now if only we can get our passports renewed before 2023.


Existence-ism

Sheryl and I shared a look last week when I mentioned yet another couple of news items, one about the failing health care system, a day doesn’t go by without at least one article, and the other of yet another failing in one part of the giant bureaucracy of Service Canada.

It had been close to nine weeks since Sheryl filed for EI and numerous phone calls had shed no light on what the problem could be. Her case was elevated so many times it might well have been on the desk of the PM himself. Each time she called, the person who she talked to didn’t have any answers, and the person who did was either away or unreachable. The person on the other end of the call has an unenviable job. Yesterday she got an answer. Her SIN was inactive.

She asked how that could be possible – she drew EI last year for a month, voted in an election, they gladly took her tax money, even asking her for more based on her past EI claim, and she has been living and working back in Canada for years. The representative didn’t know.

So she spent a couple hours at Service Canada yesterday afternoon, patiently waiting while people were on coffee break, in an effort to prove to the Government that she does indeed exist so that she can receive the service she has been paying for.

It was recommended that I look into doing the same. But before I spend an afternoon at a Government office convincing them of my existence, I wonder if there are any benefits of living here in Canada, but not existing?


Movement

On this day not so many years ago, I got up, ran 21k, came home and showered, ate a full breakfast, and walked to work. This was routine.

Yesterday, I tried to run 3.5k from my office to home and failed. I mostly walked.

Monday at Crossfit I took a knee because my heart rate spiked over 200 and I thought I might fall.

Activity of all sorts seems more difficult and I now think in terms of movement and not, am I making my mileage targets. So I walk, run, bike, and SkiErg.

The cause of my decrease in athletic capability could be many things; long COVID, sitting on my ass all day, or it could all be in my head. This might be something to start a conversation with a GP over but we don’t have one, and it seems ridiculous to clog an already overloaded system with abstract health concerns.

What I will likely do is create a performance baseline in which to measure improvements from. This way I may gain a better idea if there are any underlying conditions that might be affecting my ability to move. The QEH has facilities for this, but getting access to that equipment in a timely manner is about as likely as winning the lottery. So I will pay a private clinic when I have saved the money required.

On the plus side, while at the hellscape that is Walmart yesterday, we had a competition to see who could sit down on the floor and get back up again without using your hands or any momentum. It’s a test of mobility and more difficult than it sounds. I won.