Crude Observations

Bringing the Joy

It’s been four months now since I promised to do a bi-weekly blog and so far my track record… well it kinda sucks. Apparently I am unable to stop writing this thing and sharing my various opinions with all of you. Last week was supposed to be a week off and it wasn’t. I think I missed the week prior. Who knows anymore!


This week I am going to try and be more positive than some of my last few week, since a few eeks ago was an “airing of grievances” of sorts. To be honest, the below is a direct response to some feedback I received on the airing of grievances, and that was to put together a similar list, but this time of things that “bring me joy”, which as anyone who has followed me for any period of time is basically asking the impossible.


There are many things of course that bring me joy. I am a truly joyous person. Joy is in fact my middle name. It’s not, actually, but it darn well should be! I am so joyous that I am regularly complimented on Facebook about all my smiley pictures (this is a lie).


At any rate, things that bring me joy. Can I find to the elusive ten? Hard to say. But first, let’s layt out some groundrules. Nothing trite. Sure, everyone gets joy from their kids. And I do, mostly. My wife brings me joy. My overall life. But that all seems too easy and I don’t want some maudlin blog that makes people cry. No, it needs to be random things that truly bring joy and that are differentiating. And it can’t be from that bag of cliches that people carry around just for this purpose.


This may be hard and awkward.


“I like people and I like them to like me, but I wear my heart where God put it, on the inside.”


Here goes:



I mean this is obvious right? I write about sports all the time. NFL Football, last week was the draft, a month before was the NCAA basketball tournament. Could anything be telegraphed more than my undying love for everything sportsball? Football I think has always been my favourite – I have very vivid memories of the “the Catch” and me excitedly celebrating that (as my dad told me to settle down). I suppose it comes back to timing and cable channels. Growing up in Montreal, we got the AFC East and NFC East  all the time – my teams were thus the New England Patriots and either of the New York Giants (boring) and the Philadelphia Eagles. Then in the afternoon we would get either the Broncos or the San  Francisco 49ers. These are all my teams. Of course, growing up in Montreal I got to see A LOT OF STANLEY CUPS (sorry Toronto) so it’s hard not to love hockey when you are a perennial winner. Finally an everlasting love for baseball, either the Montreal Expos or the Boston Red Sox (because they were such losers). NCAA basketball came to me in black and white, watching the final four on an old black and white in the attic of my parent’s house. Then I took up rugby, a sport where I found my true calling – beating the crap out of people for 90 minutes followed by two hours of drinking beer together and singing inappropriate songs.


To paraphrase one of my favourite sports broadcasters: You gotta love sports. What a play. What a game. What a life.

“Life was a damned muddle – a football game with everyone offside and the referee gotten rid of – everyone claiming the referee would have been on his side.”



Yes. Skiing. I love skiing. Don’t do it anywhere near enough. Can’t do it enough. The feeling of carving down a long groomer at warp speed is one that is very hard to replicate. Many of the most memorable moments in my life happened in or around ski trips. Case in point. I met my wife on a ski trip. To Bridger Bowl Montana. Great hill. Unbelievable skiing. A cosmic coincidence. She doesn’t even ski! And referring to number 1 above, it isn’t lost on me that skiing, in addition to being a recreational activity, is also what is commonly referred to as a “sport”

“Switzerland is a country where very few things begin, but many things end.”



Sure, this seems simple. Who doesn’t love eating? But it’s deeper than that. My food memories are weird and deep. My wife tells me my “love language” is food. And who am I to argue? What a great love language! I love to eat and cook. And tradition around eating and cooking. Anyone who knows me knows what I eat on pretty much every Saturday. And that they are welcome to join in if they so choose. These food traditions were drilled into me by my parents in my most formative years. It certainly didn’t hurt that my mom was an excellent cook. Eating together and enjoying good food is family building. And we aren’t even Italian. Go figure.

So whether it’s some elaborate holiday feast for 14 people, a sumptuous Saturday steak dinner, paste for Sunday dinner, bacon and eggs for breakfast, some random experiment out of a recipe book involving brussels sprouts or heating up some Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup for one of the kids, I’m all in for the food.

“ Man in his hunger for faith will feed his mind with the nearest and most convenient food. ”


Scott Fitzgerald

What? That’s weird. I don’t care. As a one-time voracious reader (now just reader), I have a weak spot for F. Scott Fitzgerald. I love reading his “stuff”. Novels, short stories, weird letters, they are all fair game.

Plus picking one single author makes me look edgy and intellectual.

So why him? I don’t know. His prose is wonderfully descriptive and pretentious. I aspire to his turns of phrase. I have read the Great Gatsby probably 10 times, which rivals my consumption of both the Lord of the Rings and the Narnia Chronicles. More in fact than even the Phantom Tollbooth. I think it is also the time and place where he wrote, the 1920s American excess hurtling headlong and oblivious into the Great Depression, describing a self-indulgent world of unbridled wealth and cynicism falling into an abyss of indifference, tragedy and despair and an uncaring world idly watching then moving on to the next thing.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”


Or something like that. As I said – edgy and intellectual.





It’s the best stock ever. It pays massive dividends. One day all of Alberta will be working for Murray Edwards. Better yield than a GIC and maybe safer! Unfortunately, it does have some heart-burning volatility, but if you can manage the timing and pay attention to the trading ranges, it’s a surprisingly decent day-trader. Catch founder and Chair Murray Edwards on a good day and he’ll cash in some shares and build you a brand-new hockey arena. Catch him on a bad day and you will build it for him.

“Nothing is as obnoxious as other people’s luck.”


Natural Gas

What’s that then? Why in the world would I say that natural gas brings me joy? Well first off, it’s a remarkably versatile fuel source, powering everything from water heaters to furnaces to grills to stoves to giant power plants. It burns with a pretty blue flame. It is abundant and cheap. It’s the world’s most heart-attack inducing commodity price-wise. Prone to rapid ascents to money-printing heights and abject collapses to levels so desperate that it’s basically free. Sometimes all in the space of a week. You can take that gas, ship it thousands of kilometres by pipe, supercool it to a liquid, shove it on a boat and ship it more thousands of kilometres to, say, Japan, where it can be unloaded, regassified and send by pipe to some random restaurant where a tempura chef can heat some oil and deep fry some tofu on a stick. It’s awesome. And since natural gas so regularly disappoints, it is a convenient foil for my reviews of my Fearless Forecast. If we can’t laugh about $0.50 AECO while NYMEX is at $4.87, what can we laugh about?

“Things are sweeter when they’re lost. I know–because once I wanted something and got it. It was the only thing I ever wanted badly, Dot. And when I got it it turned to dust in my hands.”



Yes. I do love hiking. Which is odd. Because I don’t seem to do a whole heck of a lot of it! But I have always been a “play in the woods” kind of guy. When I was younger, friends would come to our cabin in the Eastern Townships in Quebec and we would go for these epic walks through forests and pastoral farmland, playing weird Lord of the Rings role-playing games. Presumably this is the 70’s version of being a total nerd playing fantasy role-playing games like Witcher, Elden Ring, World of Warcraft or Baldur’s Gate. At any rate, from this I graduated into just regular walking in the woods and the occasional overnight camp to a casual jaunt through the woods with a high school pal along the spine of Appalachia and the Appalachian Trail. Fast forward to Calgary times and I do acknowledge a bit of a slowdown, but I did spend a few days in the Grand Canyon before COVID and would do so again given the opportunity. What is it about hiking? Outdoors. Fresh air. The natural beauty. The satisfaction of reaching a destination. Or not reaching a destination. Challenging yourself. The calmness of just walking from one place to another. And the role playing. Always with the questy role-playing. For the record and for all you Lord of the Rings fans, I was usually Aragorn. Always the hero, but never a hobbit. No hair on my feet. Is hiking a sport?

“The world, as a rule, does not live on beaches and in country clubs.”


Working deals

You would think that this goes without saying. But I really, really love what I do at work. Learning about a new business, discovering what makes it and its owner tick and then running a competitive process to find a great partner at optimal value – it’s all awesome. My favourite part is when an agreement in principle gets done and the actual hard work starts – managing the diligence process, juggling the various levels of professional advisors on both sides and helping the client navigate the risk strewn passage to close. One of the unexpected things I discovered early on in my career is the amount of angst that deal can create for everyone. Transactions are stressful and the ability to anticipate issues, help clients work their way through them as advisor, consigliere or therapist is underappreciated. Sometimes being the advisor involves a tactical decision to throw yourself under the bus or be the bully and a bad guy. But it’s all worth it when it comes together at the end when you get the email from the lawyer at 4:59 PM on a Friday of a long weekend stating simply “Transaction X is closed, congratulations everyone.” What satisfaction. It helps that we finally get paid at that time (which I also love, for purely selfish reasons) but you get my point. And then it’s off to the next one. Project work at it’s most perfected. Plus, it’s not physically taxing so I can do it forever, which will help me with my oil-patch induced Freedom 75. Doing deals is most definitely a sport.

“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”


This blog.

Obviously. It’s my creative release. I get to sit down once a week and, a la F. Scott Fitzy, write a few thousand words on whatever random thoughts are coursing through my brain, organize them if I have the time and then publish and broadcast them to what I can only imagine is breathlessly waiting mailing list. Or maybe no one is there. Or maybe it’s just my wife. I don’t know. And that’s the beauty of it. It’s a release for me, a journey I am taking that people can join or not, the choice is theirs. I appreciate it when they do and don’t begrudge them if they don’t. It’s just something I do. I suppose it’s this joy that I get that makes it so difficult to go to a bi-weekly version. I have this habit. And it’s hard to break. A little window into what makes me tick and hopefully some industry and other insights along the way.


As they say:


“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”


This is maybe a bit more information than I needed to share, but hey, nothing ventured, noting gained.


Plus this buys me time to work on my “next big thing”. The Alberta election prediction spectacular. Stay tuned. It’s gonna be a scorcher.


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