Crude Observations

Taking Flight

So last week, I didn’t write a blog. I am hoping that someone at least noticed that because I do put a lot of effort into the blog and I like to get the pat on the back and the “atta boys” I occasionally receive. There was of course a particular reason I didn’t compose a blog and I will get into it in a bit, because it is typical for how we live our lives.


But let me first say that February blogs are the hardest. It’s the shoulder season for blogging – we have come off the highs of the Christmas period and all the year in review stuff, the Fearless Forecast has just come out with all of its themes and predictions – but there has been an insufficient passage of time for anything to actually happen except Nvidia (which I still don’t own BTW) to announce record earnings and see its stock pop by 15% in one day. You know, just like Suncor that blew the doors off in Q4 and saw its stock price… fall.


February is a weird time in general. It starts with Groundhog Day and ends with… Groundhog Day. And in the middle is a lot of flailing. And Family Day. And President’s Day. Or is it, Presidents Day. Because there are a lot of them and last Monday wasn’t just about Joe Biden and how old he is at 81 compared to the spring chicken he is running against, who is … less than 4 years younger.


However, back to why I skipped last week’s blog. As some of you may recall, I recently wrote about my trials and tribulations with Air Canada, my investment in flight passes and how outraged I was that instead of a direct flight to Phoenix, my only Air Canada option was to connect through Vancouver. Which we can all acknowledge is dumb.


That said, pesky flight passes, so after much consultation with my wife (hey. Should go here? OK) I booked a Family Day weekend trip for the two of us on our Air Canada flight passes to San Francisco (connecting through Vancouver), then driving to Santa Cruz on the coast for a relaxing and romantic getaway. Sounds awesome right?


Except… Little did I know that San Francisco is where airline schedules go to die. No sooner had we arrived in Vancouver than our flight was delayed by 2 hours due to issues at SFO. No matter, we had our tickets and were checked in all the way through – we would persevere and arrive at our under-expensive beachfront resort soon enough.


Bored, my wife checked the weather in Santa Cruz. What’s this? Flood Warning? 6-8 inches of rain expected over the weekend? High Tide Advisory?!?!?!?!?!? High Wind Warning?!?!?!??!?!? Risk of damage or death? What hellhole were we planning to visit? Turns out it rains in California in February. A lot. Especially in a weird winter like this one where the jet stream is sitting south of Vancouver instead of North.


My romantic visions of gourmet food, wine tasting and sunset walks on the beach suddenly in tatters, I quelled my almost paralyzing panic, swallowed the bile coming up from my stomach and did what any self-respecting husband would do when presented with this dilemma.


Throw money at the problem. The amount was irrelevant. Just. Need. To. Avoid. The. Weekend. From. Hell.


Where else could we go? Maui? Too far. Stay in Vancouver? Meh. Seattle? Too grungy. Denver? Too Calgary. Vegas? Wow those people waiting for that flight are really, really drunk.


Wait a second…


There’s a flight to Phoenix at 5 PM on Air Canada. How ironic is that?


I quickly solicited the services of a random check in guy to see if there were seats he could book for us. There were. The only problem of course is that by this point our San Francisco flight was boarding. Oops! No matter, I pulled out my laptop and booked the one-way flight to Phoenix from Vancouver using, you guessed it, my flight passes and trusted the system to eventually cancel my return from San Francisco and refund whatever flight pass credits I was entitled to.


I then called the hotel and got them to give me the “oops I never checked the weather” refund of my first night, cancelled my rental car and jetted off to Phoenix where it was warm and sunny all weekend. The only downside was we had to come home Tuesday on Lynx Air (the Monday flights were horrendously expensive) and some minor car repair.


All told, 13 hours of travel and some deft two-stepping to swap destionations mid-stream but all in all the right call.


The ultimate irony being that after vowing to NEVER use my flight passes to go to Phoenix via Vancouver we ended up doing exactly that. And while inconvenient as hell, it could have been much worse.


There is a lesson in here that I am not 100% sure I have fully extracted. Is it a lemons and lemonade thing? Maybe. Where there’s a will there’s a way? Perhaps. Happy wife, happy life? Goes without saying. How about – check the weather before you go? Aye-aye captain. And all’s well that ends well.


And as always, I realize my privilege allows me to resolve these first world problems to everyone’s satisfaction, so for that I am eternally grateful.


Oh – another interesting tidbit. This was the first multi-day trip we have taken without having the kids with us since somewhere along the way, they got old enough to use Skip and/or cook for themselves. It was fun but weird, a bit melancholy as well. They on the other hand thought it was the greatest weekend ever and with nothing burnt down I tend to agree. But they are still coming with us for Spring Break.


Breaking News!


And just like that Lynx Air is done. That’s right folks, the plucky Calgary-based startup announced last night that they are suspending operations as of Monday and entering into CCAA. Put a fork in it Bernice, they are done.


What does it mean? I mean aside from me having to rebook my entire Spring Break? For three times the price?


Well, it means that yet again, the Canadian airline duopoly has managed to take out an upstart competitor, crushing the dreams and hopes of yet another wannabe aviation mogul. And it means that yet again, choice for travellers has been artificially limited by lack of competition and rules that prevent entrants to the market from other markets. So the bifurcation of the country continues and our Trudeau minority government takes no action because they don’t in fact care.


I feel terrible for the all the Lynx employees who are out of work at the drop of a hat. And deep empathy for the travelers who have to rearrange flights while battling the algos that continue to raise prices. While rebooking my flights the prices rose by 30% on competing airlines. Sure Lynx may have been overextended but the pr4oduct wasn’t bad, the planes were clean and the staff was committed. This was a business case that should have succeeded, unlike I guess LNG to markets that want it.


Dear Mr. Trudeau – If you want to battle inflation, stop with the pharmacare and start with the competition.


Alright, I managed to do all that without mentioning the energy sector in any substantive way. I did this on purpose. Mainly because I wanted to keep my powder dry in case anything more interesting than the price of natty collapsing happens or oil prices drifting aimlessly during turnaround season.


I am hopeful that this is my last meandering and thematically adrift blog for awhile. Maybe I can rally after I see the budget that the UCP puts forward and comment on that (no more money for health care, but we will be saving for a rainy day and stop it with holding us to our promises).


Or maybe, just maybe, the TransMountain Expansion will finally start getting filled up with liquid peanut butter to unlock untold export riches from… the Port of Long Beach. Which by the way is south of Santa Cruz and is maybe where I will fly next on my flight passes, connecting through Vancouver of course. Until such time as that gets fixed. I ain’t holding my breath.


Following on that theme of just wanting things to get back on track, I am recalling something I wrote back in 2022 around this time of year to address the February Malaise.


To reassert control of the narrative and to hold myself to account for you the reader, we at the Crude Observations Command Central (COCC) are implanting an emergency plan.


It’s called the Crude Observations Emergency Editorial Act and it’s some serious stuff.


Here are the rules that must be followed. And the penalties for transgression. They are severe.


  1. If something is worthy of being mocked, it must be mocked without mercy. Mocking may not be driven by partisanship. Mocking must be apolitical because every party is worthy of our scorn and derision. This includes municipal, provincial, federal and international governments. Mocking of China and Russia may be deferred if your personal security feels at risk.



  1. No more than two consecutive blog entries can be about the same subject. It doesn’t matter whether a crisis or scenario worthy of scorn and mockery (see rule #1) continues on during that period, more than two is too much. Just stop it. If it’s a long-unfolding train wreck, rest assured there will be ample opportunity for follow up commentary.



  1. It’s called Crude Observations for a reason. People want to hear about the energy market. That’s why the whole thing started. So, each blog MUST include energy content.



  1. It is understood that subject matter may be hard to come up with. Tough luck. The precedent for a weekly blog has been set. Suck it up buttercup. There is always something to write about. Publish or perish.



  1. The energy transition is happening. You must write about it at some point. It won’t bite.



  1. At least once every two months, the Blog must go on an unhinged rant about something that is really getting under your skin. Subject of course to Rule #1.



  1. Wherever possible, try to be economical with words. There is word count in the bottom left corner of word. When it exceeds 1800, that’s too long. Get. To. The. Point.



  1. Disagreeing is allowed. Being disagreeable is not.



  1. Take a lesson from Reader’s Digest. Laughter is the best medicine (dude – how old ARE you?). Get back to having fun with the blog. And be funny. Especially while adhering to Rule #1.



  1. Not really a rule, but… Natural gas will always disappoint. Deal with it.




The penalties for breaking the above rules may include:


  • Temporary suspension of blog writing privileges.
  • Freezing of expense accounts for such things as cell phones, hockey tickets and/or Sandwiches from Alumni (this one really hurts)
  • The reinstatement of proof-reading
  • The temporary suspension of commenting rights on the Stormont Twitter account
  • A ghostwriter
  • Jailtime


Thankfully the Emergency Act will only be in place until OPEC+ says it can be released, although it can be arbitrarily extended forever. I am hoping I can abide by these completely inane rules because some of the punishment seems unduly harsh.


But at least these new measures will address the underlying root problems of a wayward blog.


See you next week when the topic will be Ottawa Occupied, whose fault is it really…


Ouch! Already punished.


Fine. Next week I’ll write about how the upcoming US election, aside from its resemblance to a train wreck is going to be the most consequential election in decades. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I will write about how petty Canadian politics have become and how annoying all the party leaders are and that it is unconscionable that we have to endure this hell-scape until 2025. Or maybe I won’t.


Maybe it will just be me weeping about natural gas prices. Or celebrating Enerplus being acquired at twice the price I paid for it.


1786 words. Phew. OK. 1789. French Revolution! Cool! Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. Ugh. Stop it. 1799.


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