Crude Observations

Thanks, eh?

Another week come and gone, and our deranged world got just a tiny bit stranger. So strange in fact that  am writing this blog in the past because it was due on a Friday and today is Saturday and if things hold, I won’t be sending it out until tomorrow, which is Sunday.


So what happened that I am early/late with the blog? Well I went for a bike ride with a friend yesterday, along what is called the Legacy Trail which connects Canmore to Banff and runs just a shade under 45 km round trip, with the way out mostly uphill and fairly tortuous (I’m woefully unfit) and the way back a wind aided Disney-like speed ride.


Riding along I was struck by how thankful I was to be able to be outdoors and enjoying our as yet sold to the coal barons pristine mountain wilderness.


And that of course is 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 tails 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.


Well actually neither of those things is true. Rather Canadians will still gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s just going to be a bot different this year. Groups are smaller, parties are now called cohorts, family get togethers will 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 will be streaming the Presidential Debate off YouTube on an endless loop. See? It all works.


But before I go engage in my annual round of glory cooking (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. Wait. Thankful. Thanksgiving. Hmm, what damage can I do with that setup?



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, I thought I should 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, economic catastrophes unfolding around the world 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 current BC election cycle BOTH parties are running on a subsidized daycare platform.


I am thankful that notwithstanding massive amounts of sabre-rattling around the globe the only real war being waged is the Twitter war between Donald Trump and well, pretty much everyone.


I am thankful that here in Canada we can have mostly civilized debates during parliamentary sittings 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 has seen fit to hire the 24 year old son of Stephen Harper as a policy advisor for the bargain salary of $117,000 per year.


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 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, because the nuthouse he is running is 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 prospect of a scorched earth retreat after an election he seems poised to lose, but hey – everyone’s got a few flaws, right? As long as the entertainment continues, who cares!


I am thankful that Donald Trump seems to have gotten over his COVID infection. I wish sickness on no one, regardless of my personal opinion of them. Plus, I firmly believe he needs to face both the judgement of the electorate and, if even 1% of what he is alleged to have done is true, the courts.


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 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 $40 (ish) oil and a slowly 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.


I ma thankful for the commitment on the part of the Liberals to see the TransMountain Expansion get under way. 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 string performance in the industrial and midstream world.


I am thankful to see that Russia, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the OPEC+ crew doing their best to lead the world out of this persistent 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 at the very least a steady and cheap natural gas pricing environment. Why – aren’t higher prices desirable? Yes and no. Higher prices are always good, but let’s keep them below $3.00 for a little while longer. As export capacity in the United States keeps growing and production declines due to the collapse of the shale industry a supply crunch will come and Canadian gas will be there to fill the gap. It’s coming, we just don’t know it yet. Plus in the meantime we get massive projects like LNG Canada, the single largest (and least talked about) infrastructure project in Canada’s history. Which also needs to cheap gas to continue justifying itself.


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


I am thankful the US election is less than a month away, it’s exhausting following that stuff. Seriously, do you know how much Twitter compost and ill-informed Facebook garbage I have to go through a day? It’s flipping exhausting.


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 4-0 and legitimately so, which makes a guy named Sportsball very happy indeed.


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. 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 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 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 insufferably good mood.


Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving, eh?

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