Crude Observations

I ain’t no turkey

Another week come and gone, I believe I have recovered sufficiently from the shock of being under in my gas forecast that I can take a deep breath and contemplate what this weekend is all about, and it’s not just week 5 of the NFL season. And as always around this time of year, the blog that was due on a Friday is being started on a Saturday and if I’m lucky may be finished by Monday. Which makes me the laziest writer around.


But I have an excuse. And it’s a good one. At least I think it is. You see we decided as a family to take the plunge and come down to Phoenix, Arizona, USA and se our place that we haven’t seen for close to 22 months. So I’ve been busy. Cleaning. Throwing stuff out. Buying new stuff. Removing all evidence of any unwelcome “visitors” that we had. Do you have any idea how much kids grow in the years 11 to 16? Clothes don’t fit, beds are too small and styles change. This is fortunately not a problem for me as I rotate the same 6 t-shirts that I have been wearing for 8 years, even though they will soon be nothing more than a Kleenex. (hey, after 22 months, it’s like new clothes!).


At any rate, this is all privileged stuff and I absolutely know it. And I am eminently thankful for the success in business that we have had that has allowed me to provide this for my family, and our “visitors”. Coming from Alberta to the United States hasn’t been as weird as I thought it would be, in fact it was pretty seamless. Coming down. Going back? Well I have a feeling I am not going to be very thankful for living in the only country in the world it seems that requires an insanely expensive PCR test to cross the border, even for the fully vaccinated. OK, OK. Yes I know. I get the caution, but at some point, what’s good for Bob has to be good for Mary. It cost us $120 for four tests coming down. It’s a multiple of that to come back. And no guarantees anything will be available in time.


But, thankfulness. Yes, I am thankful for these eight negative tests as well as those of our family and friends who may or may not be travelling this time of year.



Which brings me of course to the theme of this week’s blogging, that most turkey of days, Canadian Thanksgiving wherein Canadians from coast to coast to coast gather together with family and friends and have a few bevvies, eat a fabulous meal and generally socialize and have a good time, while my family high tailed it to Phoenix to enjoy some sun and pool time.


Unless of course there is a pandemic in which case we all huddle in terror, alone in our houses, frightened by the sound of the weakest of coughs and the smallest post-nasal drip.


As we all know by now, neither of those things is true. Rather Canadians will still gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s just going to be different this year. Groups are smaller, parties are now called cohorts, family get togethers will continue to be on Zoom or whatever video sharing flavour of the month is in use and instead of having to suffer through a cage match between your two old, loud and drunk uncles, Canadians coast to coast will be streaming the Calgary Mayoralty Debate off YouTube on an endless loop. See? It all works.


But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It may not have been Open For Summer, but we are getting close with each passing day and that is the first thing I am thankful for this year. Science. And vaccines. And taking vaccines and those vaccines giving us the peace of mind to venture out into the world with a little more confidence than we did at this time last year.


And since this year there is no glory cooking required of me (is there anything easier than turkey?), I have a blog to write. And as usual, I have had a few minutes to gather my thoughts and consequently contemplate my existence and the rather fractious state of the world. And in that cornucopia of discombobulation and studied navel gazing, I have come to the conclusion that while things are bad, weird and just plain bizarre, they could be a lot worse and for that I am thankful.



Look, I know this is a recycled and hackneyed listicle, but it is a Canadian Thanksgiving tradition in many families to torture the kids (who just want to mainline cranberry sauce) by going around the dinner table before eating anything and requiring everyone to say what they are thankful for.


In that spirit, every year I do the same and write about some of the things I am thankful for (and some I’m not). It could also be that unlike the dinner table some will have genuine sentiment but most will no doubt be decidedly tongue in cheek, if not foot in mouth.


Overall, as I look back on the past year or so of natural disasters, global aggression, increasing levels of terrorism in the “first world”, senseless violence perpetrated on innocent civilians and bystanders, Donald Trump, Insurrections, Federal elections, Best Summers Ever, economic catastrophes unfolding around the world, global warming, global cooling, climate change, energy scarcity, inflation, unemployment and global freaking pandemics, I’m pretty darn thankful to live in sleepy old boring Canada.


Don’t get me wrong, we have our issues here and the weather sucks, but Canada, in the great scheme of things, is pretty darn-tootin’ great, our politics are tame, our geographic situation is either a stroke of genius or luck (I’ll take either) and oftentimes our biggest issues revolve around how exactly we are going to deliver the latest social program to support disadvantaged fellow citizens. I mean seriously, in the last federal election each of the big three parties were running on platforms that would have made Bernie Sanders blush.


I am thankful that notwithstanding massive amounts of memos from the desk of being issued and rallies and sycophants that the Donald Trump Twitter ban has brought the level of anger and partisanship down from an 11 to a 10.


I am thankful that here in Canada we can have mostly civilized debates during randomly called and unnecessary Federal elections that highlight both the seriousness and talent of the various representatives and leaders but can also feature some genuine moments of comedic value. We are an anomaly in the Anglo world with our five parties represented in Parliament, one of which exists solely to break up the country and form its own smaller and less interesting national government in a sovereign nation. And no, I’m not talking about the Wexit whackadoodles. In the meantime, while they await their moment, they do their parliamentary duties. Cool.


I am thankful that the two main parties in Canada aren’t so vastly different as they would like us to believe. I know that politics inspires great partisan conflict but really, how different are the mainstream wings of the Conservatives and Liberals.


I am thankful that Jason Kenney had a great vacation. Much needed rest. Well done.


I am thankful that the Calgary economy seems to have finally stabilized after absorbing the massive shocks of the energy downturn and the pandemic and that the downtown office market has steadied itself.


I am thankful for reasonably stable and sane government. As bad as the various municipal, provincial and federal governments are and as much as the leaders make me want to rage like a crazed, barking madman, it is not hard to find evidence of much worse situations around the world.


I am thankful for Donald Trump’s legacy, because the nuthouse he ran remains a non-stop source of entertainment and hilarity. I’m not thankful for anti-trade rhetoric, dog whistle appeals to racist dogma, the near constant state of conflict, the mysoginy, the crass self-enriching corruption and the scorched earth retreat after a decisive election loss, but hey – everyone’s got a few flaws, right? As long as the entertainment continues, who cares!


I am thankful for Joe Biden being the most boring president in the history of the office. We all need the rest.


I am thankful that the Liberals won a minority government. Seriously. I won a bet. Plus, the only other alternative was a majority. Which I wouldn’t be thankful for.


I am thankful that Erin O’Toole is no where near as scary as everyone made him out to be.


I am thankful that Pierre Poilievre is as dumb as that piece of wood he keeps using as a prop. This ensures that he will never achieve the office he aspires to – leader of the third party in the House of Commons.


I am thankful for my weekly Zoom coffee chat. Attendance is variable, but what a great crew of participants from all walks of life and political stripe. The debate is lively, civilized and respectful. As it should be.


I am thankful for the opportunity to run the campaign for Calgary mayor. It was an ideas based endeavour that ended in failure, but the website was top notch and the candidate truly adequate.


I am thankful to Sirius XM for the Beatles Channel. Seriously. I love the Beatles. Can’t get enough. I don’t care who knows it. I am also thankful my daughter Lucy on occasion still won’t let me turn off the car while a Beatles song is playing (I told her long ago that it’s an actual rule and now she has made it so).


I am thankful for $80 (ish) oil and a recovering energy sector. Mostly because the energy sector is where I make me moneys, but also because a recovering energy market is good for everyone in Canada. Except people who use gas, but really what do you expect? Buy a Tesla if it bothers you so much. Why do you still hate Alberta?


I ma thankful for the continued commitment on the part of the Liberals to see the TransMountain Expansion completed. It cost them seats in the Lower Mainland and a majority government, but it is the right thing to do for Alberta and Canada.


I am thankful to see green shoots of recovery in the energy services space and continued strong performance in the industrial and midstream world.


I am thankful to see the price of natural gas explode (maybe not the best term) adding fuel to the LNG fire in NE, NW and coastal BC. $5 AECO is royalty bonanza territory for Alberta. At this rate, Jason Kenney could be the only premier to ever eliminate the deficit and get punted by his party because he’s polling less than the political Mendoza line.


I am thankful to see that Russia, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the OPEC+ crew keep their poop in a group and work together’ish to lead the world out of the oil glut. 20% of the world’s oil supply making nice with each other – one a US rival and the other the American’s top ally in the Middle East – what could possibly go wrong?


I am thankful for Line 3. And Line 5. But concerned that Line 1 is heard from so rarely now.


I am thankful the people are finally starting to recognize that Canada’s oil production strength comes from its long-lived, cash flow spewing asset base as opposed to the, for example, the LTO world. Our production declines during the pandemic were by choice and not driven by geology.


I am thankful the US election is over. It was truly exhausting following that stuff. Now all we have t worry about are mid terms. Next year. Lord help us..


I am thankful for zombies. I mean who isn’t. And I’m including the ones in government in that as well.


I am thankful for NFL football, if only because the Bills are 3-1, the Cardinals are 4-0 and the odds of tem meeting at the end of the season are higher than they have been… well ever. Wouldn’t that be a ticket?


I am thankful that my government thinks that I am a fat cat and a tax cheat. Why? Because it makes me feel important that dedicated, unconflicted and high-minded servants of the people like Chrystia Freeland and Justin Trudeau can take enough time out of counting their trust fund millions to take an active role in ensuring that I pay my “fair share” of taxes while still protecting the “middle class” whoever and wherever they are. Where else in the world can you get such personal attention from the government? It makes me feel important.


I am thankful for my network of professionals – my Twitterverse – the people who keep me informed and grounded, the sources I go to for informed dialogue and reasoned discussion.


I am thankful for you, my readers, for supporting me through the years despite my many missteps and cranky missives that I am sure push a lot of buttons and pull a lot of triggers. I make statements that I am sure many disagree with and are unpopular, but I stand by them. I try not to be partisan, but rather realistic and if my forecasts, predictions, rants upset people, it’s because I am trying to challenge the accepted views.


On the readership front, I am especially thankful for those of you who take the time to reach out after a blog to comment, correct or just converse. There aren’t many, but you know who you are – keep it coming!


Mostly and above all else, I am thankful for my family and their health in this time of COVID, both my immediate nuclear family as well as my extended family – in-laws and out-laws and all. I am thankful to have a wife who tolerates me and children who consistently and constantly fascinate, confound and astound me.


There, not so bad right? I tried hard to be nasty, but the sun is shining, it’s warm, it’s a long weekend and I’m in an appropriately good mood.


Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving, eh?

Crude Observations
Sign up for the Stormont take on the latest industry news »

Recent Posts