Crude Observations

10 (ish) Things

Last year, I took my family on an epic vacation and when I returned, I did a short mail-it-in blog that reflected some thoughts I had on where we had been and how moving around the world outside of our little bubble that is Calgary can offer some pretty cool perspective on the truisms that define our lives.


As I said then and will cut and paste now, perspective is everything and sometimes it is worthwhile to take yourself out of your comfort zone and look at things from the other side and you will find that things that you assumed to be true are not, things you held to be fundamental are not and the people you thought were telling it like it is? They most assuredly are not.


It’s an unnecessarily cryptic opening paragraph, but hey, that’s what I do.


Last year, I dragged the family to Europe and we had a full-on immersion course in crowds, culture and, of course because it’s me, energy.


This year, we tried something different. We have had a busy year so we wanted to go somewhere and just chill (figurative, not literal) out on a beach for an extended period of time. So we went to Cancun and stayed at the Club Med there. But first we went to New York City. Because why not.


At any rate, true to last year, here are 10 pithy observations from my journey.


“just because it’s owned by a Master Chef, don’t expect Master Chef type food. We went to a restaurant in NYC that came highly recommended by two people whose food opinions I have the utmost time and respect for. An Italian joint owned by that annoying and pompous Gordon Ramsay side-kick Joe Bastianich. Well, I don’t know if we caught them on a bad day, but as a family we agreed it was the worst meal of our entire trip. And this includes the trash cheese plate on a WestJet flight.



  1. If you think that the transition to electric vehicles is going to be some instantaneous smooth ride over the next five years you need to get out of your bubble. Cars are everywhere. Infrastructure is not. Has anyone who thinks EV’s are taking over the world actually been to New York?
  2. Lack of knowledge about energy and where it comes from is not a uniquely Canadian or American thing.
  3. No one knows where Calgary is. No one cares to know where Canada is. When you mention you are from Canada the city mention3d most often in reaction is … Vancouver. Sorry Toronto, you just aren’t top of mind.
  4. Just because it’s owned by a Master Chef, don’t expect Master Chef type food. We went to a restaurant in NYC that came highly recommended by two people whose food opinions I have the utmost time and respect for. An Italian joint owned by that annoying and pompous Gordon Ramsay side-kick Joe Bastianich. Well, I don’t know if we caught them on a bad day, but as a family we agreed it was the worst meal of our entire trip. And this includes the trash cheese plate on a WestJet flight.
  5. A lot of the American tourists going to Cancun are from Texas, specifically the Houston area. First off – why go somewhere more humid than your home-town. Second, the reason your grid sucks in Texas isn’t because of Joe Biden. See point #2 above.
  6. Air travel is awesome. We went from Calgary to NYC to Cancun and home in three relatively uneventful 4-5 hour flights. Cancun’s airport is really, really big. I suspect if it were in Canada it would replace Calgary or Montreal on the busiest airports list.
  7. Calgary is small. I mean, it’s big for Canada. But it’s really small. Nothing wrong with that. But after visiting Paris, London and New York in the last year, you realize how much more we need to turn our sights out.
  8. The only place I saw any electrical charging Infrastructure was … actually, I didn’t see any charging infrastructure. Maybe it’s all hidden in parkades. Oh wait, the golf carts we rode in Cancun were electric. And the batteries kept failing.
  9. Prices in New York are eye-wateringly high. And it is without a doubt one of the coolest and most crowded cities in the world and totally worth the price of admission. I think I still prefer London, but I will be going back. Our hotel had a corner window view of the Chrysler building and the Empire State Building. Totally worth it.
  10. Canadians live in a ridiculous bubble of comfort and security. We are energy independent. We have glorious and copious amounts of cheap food. Our defence is provided by a militaristic behemoth superpower to the south and our politics are petty, parochial and, quite frankly, embarrassing. Our products cost less, we have no specific threats to our well being and yet we still manage to be a flaming dumpster fire.
  11. I haven’t been to New York in a long, long time. I finally got to make a pilgrimage to the World Trade Center Memorial and relive the conference call conversation I was having with some Morgan Stanley investment bankers in the early morning of 9/11 (they were in a separate building and all survived) that ended thusly “we gotta go… click”. I paid my long overdue respects and read names of people I didn’t know but mourned nonetheless.

Bonus wildlife point – the cockroaches in New York and Mexico are the same size. The ones in Mexico seemed faster. Lucy didn’t see any rats in NYC which disappointed her. There were gekkos in Cancun but I didn’t see any on Wall Street. There is a weird spotted pig thing that lives in Cancun area whose name I didn’t catch. Raccoons in Mexico live and thrive in resort garbage cans, but they are a bit leaner and scrawnier than the fat boys you see in Toronto. Our cart driver taking us home from that bar stopped to pick up a hermit crab off the road and place him safely in the grass. There was a crocodile that hung out in the lagoon at the resort. His name was Patricio. Dragonflies in NYC are enormous. And the pigeons are many. We got dive-bombed by pelicans looking for fish – it was like being attacked by dinosaurs. No snakes.


But what do I really think?


Last year in this August Long Weekend blog I wrote about the then upcoming UCP leadership race and enumerated all the reasons why Danielle Smithy wouldn’t win and why my vote was going to either Leela Aheer or Travis Toews.


I also said that if Danielle toned down the crazy, I might be persuaded to support her.


Ironically, she did tone down the crazy – too late to impact my vote, but the period of time she has been in power and through the election she has managed to reel it in enough to make me grudgingly accept that she’s got somewhat of a handle on where things are at. She clearly has Alberta’s interests at heart and will defend the province to the end. She is a bit beholden to the Oil and Gas industry but let’s be real here – as a company formerly known as Stormont ENERGY Advisors, am I really in anguish that my government supports the industry that butters my bread? And poking Trudeau in the eye? Repeatedly? I do not have an issue with that whatsoever.


So I guess so far, I give the UCP government under Danielle a reserved 7 out of 10. They are doing some things I am OK with and some things that are complete headscratchers but at least they aren’t bat-shit crazy lake of firing and for what it’s worth Danielle seems to have a pretty steady hand on the till.


That said, every once in a while, they announce something that makes my head explode.


Like yesterday, where they announced a six-month moratorium on new renewables project approvals while they study and develop policies specifically addressing end-of-life clean-up and reclamation.


Ex squeeze me? What in the actual mother loving F is this all about? Where did it come from? Who’s genius idea was this? Why is it necessary? When did it pop its head up during, I don’t know, the election?


Let me be clear. We absolutely need policies around land-use for renewables projects which are by nature land intensive. We need evolving policies around how energy projects get cleaned up and who pays for that and how (remember polluter pays). These are all important things.


But in Alberta. Free market Alberta. Entrepreneurial, boot-strap a business Alberta. Private property right defending Libertarian Alberta. Deregulated electricity market desperately in need of additional supply of electricity generation Alberta. The single most attractive market in Canada for the development of renewable energy project Alberta. The home to 91 projects worth tens of billions of dollars over the next few decades Alberta.


In that Alberta, a freeze on project approvals is a short-sighted, investment killing, government interfering, red-tape creating policy blunder that one would normally only associate with Jagmeet Singh and the NDP. Not the actions of a right-leaning, free market loving Libertarian like Danielle Smith.


No one likes this.


It will shelve projects. Projects will go elsewhere. Uncertainty and delays are a death knell for investment. Capital is mobile. We are deliberately shooting ourselves in the foot and potentially sticking a fork in one of the fastest growing industries in the province.


Sound familiar? It should. This is what everyone says about the oil and gas industry when something like this comes up, whether it is a royalty review (remember those?) or uncertainty from the Federal government about carbon taxes or emissions caps or what have you.


Can you imagine if the provincial government said they were going to review end of life reclamation rules for oil and gas drilling and pipeline sites and were going to STOP ISSUING PERMITS FOR SIX MONTHS while they did this?


The world would come to an end. There would be rioting in the streets. Companies would pack their bags and leave. The government would be defeated or the premier perp-walked out of the Legislature.


But renewables? Meh, I guess that’s OK.


Here’s what I have to say to the Premier on this.


This is reasonable policy with colossally inept and short-sighted execution. There is no justification for stopping the permitting process while the government figures itself out. It can only be perceived as a hypocritical smack upside the head to the renewable industry, many of whose players will take the ball and go home.


If you want to kill investment in an industry, I can’t imagine a better way to go about it.


Good lord.

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