July 8, 2020
With the top headlines this month being about police and riots, it seems that a lot of people stopped being scared about COVID. I think the pandemic reaction was admirable, but I’m surprised how quickly people are breaking physical distancing, even before it is considered “safe”. Perhaps there is fatigue over the restrictions. Perhaps the fear passed with something new in the headlines
I think a lot of these measures will become the “new normal.” 9/11 was almost 20 years ago, but the restrictions at airports continue to this day. Masks, barriers at checkouts, physical distancing lines, line-ups outside of stores, and sanitizer dispensers everywhere are probably going to be around for a long time. And, returning from international travel will place people into self-isolation for some time to come.
The response from all levels of government and industry was (eventually) admirable. At about 9000 deaths in Canada, COVID-19 has been quite notable. Not to be dismissive, but in the same 3 months, about 30,000 died in Canada of cancer, and about 18,000 from heart disease. Consider, what if we took collective action to tackle these like we did for COVID? Would there where bylaws requiring people to exercise everyday? Would restaurants be fined for selling saturated fats? Would we have drive-thru tests for breast, prostrate and colon cancer? With the context to what really is killing Canadians, imagine what this level of collective focus could do!
The pandemic set off enormous economic disruption, and we are just seeing the first bits of damage. Someone posted “COVID can kill 1 in 20. Could you pick 1 in 20 of your family or friends to die?” One could flippantly reply “Could you pick 1 in 5 of your friends to lose their career?” That’s the very stark reality that we will wake up to when the lockdown eases.
Unemployment is an unpleasantly high 12%. It’s been well-documented that increases in unemployment directly lead to higher crime and suicide rates. Many people are out of work or on drastically reduced income. And a new year of students just graduated into the worst job market in at least 12 years.
Food bank use is at an all-time high. Many people are worried about eviction and/or not being able to pay their mortgage or other bills.
Many Canadians are now receiving the CERB (Canadian Emergency Response Benefit). But that can’t last forever. The Federal defecit is expected to be around 300 billion dollars! Our grandchildren may still be paying for this spending spree!
Entire industries are likely to collapse. The travel sector in particular will be unrecognizable soon, if survives at all! Air Canada laid off half of their employees and lost 1 billion dollars last quarter! Gyms, hotels, restaurants, theaters, nightclubs, resorts, bars, and other tourist attractions are empty. And it seems you read about a different restaurant closing for good each day.
Places of worship were specifically excluded from and COVID support by the Canadian federal government. And the social distancing guidelines meant places of worship had to close their doors. Many places of worship are also hubs for community services like food banks, support groups like AA, and charitable groups. But many of those functions had to be shuttered too. Though many communities of faith have adopted some online form of community, I think churches and other places of worship will be casualties of COVID. Given the financial hardships, I will not be surprised to see many congregations declare bankruptcy in the upcoming year.
There will be opportunities too. Society has quickly adapted to so much online communication and commerce. Zoom calls are now a part of almost everyone’s repertoire. Online ordering is quickly becoming the norm: Our family already ordered a lot through Amazon Prime, and now we’re pretty comfortable with curbside grocery pickup, and even Instacart delivery! And treating ourselves for dinner out has become Uber Eats, Door Dash, or Skip The Dishes. Looking at it objectively, the extra costs associated with these are pretty close to the gas and wear on the car. To say nothing about the time we save! There is certainly a seismic shift, but I think business will need to get used to this revenue stream for at least a little while.
I saw some flippant posts celebrating lockdown as a win for the environmental. Oh no! I think that’s a little shortsighted. Think about all sorts of tropical countries who have economies dependent on tourism. With no income, what will they do? They may turn to resource exploitation as they did in the past: Clear cutting rain forests, mining, overfishing, dynamiting coral reefs… It’s not pretty!
When people are out of work and start getting hungry, that’s when you get revolutions. The race-related protests and subsequent violence might be just the start. I think about countries like the Philippines, where 10% of the national GDP is through personal remittance (money sent back “home”). A lot of this is people working overseas in the hospitality industry like cruise ships. Imagine that just disappeared. Imagine what that does to the people at home dependent on that remittance. It’s not pretty either.
If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic era will be memorable and historic!
I’m still not back to work, and it might be some time until that happens. My long-term disability company has set me up with 8 weeks more of physiotherapy and then will re-assess. With this new physiotherapist I have to do the appointments virtually. The exercises started really easy but have now hit a point where I notice serious shortcomings because I lack the balance, muscle control, and nerve feeling.
I don’t feel 100%, but I don’t know how much better I’m going to get. If I don’t get to a point where my employer things I’ll be suitable for my old job, I may have to look into a different career too.
I have been walking a lot. I’ve been stretching some longer walks to 4 or 5km. But it has been really tiring me out, especially during hot, humid days. I usually have to change my shirt when I get home, and often need a nap to recover. It’s a long cry from when running 4km was a warm-up for me.
Physically, I’ve had good and bad days. I have trouble sleeping sometimes. And I have very vivid and jarring dreams. I don’t remember ever having such engrossing and frequent dreams. I remember waking up around 4am one night and making sure I wrote the bizarre scenario down before I forgot about it.
I do feel quite tired sometimes, and overwhelmed. Sometimes I’ll look out at a messy playroom covered in toys, sink full of dirty dishes, pile of bills, and other clutter. But, I think back to that phrase from “Frozen 2” and I “Do the next right thing.” I can’t tackle all the problems at once. I can start with something important and immediate, then something else. And after a little I’m halfway done and have built up some momentum. Throw on a Spotify playlist and it’s almost fun… almost.
I am quite enjoying the time I get to spend with my daughter. She is a rambunctious toddler now. Hearing her laugh is like hearing joy. Seeing her excitedly exploring makes me see everything with new wonder. I get a strange elation when we exchange loud outbursts of babbles. And feeling her little hand in mine gives me a sense of purpose I didn’t know I was missing.
I feel like this time is quite a gift. I feel like I’ve spent more time with my daughter than some fathers get to spend with their children their whole lives! I don’t recommend nearly dying as a way to get semi-paid paternity leave, but I’ll see it as a silver lining.
As in previous month’s, we’ve been cooking up a storm, particularly on the BBQ.
In July, my wife and I plan on trying a rather aggressive elimination diet. We are going to use an intersection of Whole 30 and The Myers Way. It will be no grains, legumes, nuts, soy, or refined sugar. At the moment I’m compiling a list of what we CAN have so we can properly stock the pantry and come up with recipes and a meal plan. But, Dr. Amy Myers book, the Autoimmune Solutions has a detailed meal plan and recipes already.
This may be the best time to do this while we are both off work. And unlike the last juice fast, this is all real food so it won’t be tortuous to feed the baby while we are hungry waiting for our next celery juice!
We want to try this to improve our health and try to increase our energy levels. And it’s another step in trying to prevent another autoimmune illness.
BUMPY PATH TO MASTER ELECTRICIAN
So, I have been studying diligently with my self-study prep course for the Master Electrician exam. I read through all 12 modules in about 5 weeks. I found the sections on the Ontario Electrical Safety Code (OESC) rather dense. Conversely, I quickly went through the sections on legislation like the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), Construction regulations, Human Rights, Lien Act, and business practices. And the latter is 2/3 of the exam!
Then I peeked at the exam schedule. My heart dropped when I saw the next two exam sessions are already fully booked. Boo! The earliest I could write the exam is now mid-October. I’m a little worries I’ll forget everything by then!
But, maybe this just means I can spread out doing review exercises. It’s obviously preferable to have too much time rather than not enough. And as long as I still dedicate 2-3 nights per week to it, I expect it should go well.