Category Archives: Commentary

Getting the Jabs

I haven’t written much about the Moderna jabs, the second of which I got almost two weeks ago.

While vaccine accessibility has been slow in some parts of Canada, initially owing to delays in shipments but also to what now seems like, from here anyway, a decided lack of organisation, in other parts it has been efficient and fast.

Some of this has been surprising. I work in the Northwest Territories, and we deal with enormous distances and a lot of the time, very scary weather where even the snowmen take shelter. If distribution can be streamlined here, then I would think it should be easier in places that don’t have to deal much with weather and distance.

As to the vaccine reaction, yes, I did get one. It lasted about 36 hours after my second shot, but it was eased by ibuprofen, lots of ice cream, really silly movies and naps. Basically, I felt like I had the flu. My husband, M, had a very minor reaction – he said that if he was still working, it wouldn’t have prevented him from going. Almost all of my employees, regardless of age, had reactions ranging from “what shot?” to “just let me crawl away and moan.” Everyone bounced back quickly though.

As far as I’m concerned, the reaction I had is loads better than getting coronavirus or inadvertently spreading it.

But, (there’s always one of these, right?) there’s been a lot of confusion around the Astra-Zeneca. That’s not surprising. This is a novel virus, and tons of data, on a world-wide level, keeps informing us of how this vaccine (and others) is functioning. When our patience for this pandemic is dropping by the micro-second, it’s hard to hang on to it while the research types keep trying to do their best to help us. We have to remember to do ours.

How is it in your area? Are you satisfied with the timeline and how the vaccine distribution has been organised?

And if you have had a shot or shots, how did you do? Any reaction? Or, are you at all concerned about getting the vaccine?

Markle’s Sparkle … Or, Maybe not so Much

Ahead of Oprah’s big interview of Harry and Meghan, I have to say that I’m kind of tired of hearing about them and their so-called issues. It’s getting irritating.

Well, maybe there are issues, but really, are they that bad? Bad enough that after carrying on endlessly about privacy and media intrusion, they go to the absolute biggest doyen of celebrity journalism, Oprah Winfrey, to “tell their truth.” Am I missing something here, or isn’t that inviting more attention? Are they now invading their own privacy?

Meghan

Queen Elizabeth II of the UK is also queen of Canada, and Harry is her grandson, so as a Canadian, I think I can chat about this. After all, when they first escaped the British Royal Family, they hid out on Vancouver Island, and as I understand it, were for the most part unbothered by the media. Locals apparently tried their best to hide their location, and to be as unhelpful as possible to any paparazzi or other prying types.

But soon thereafter, they headed to the US, a country that Meghan said she would never set foot in while Trump was still president. Interesting. They played around with using their royal status to make money. They cut very lucrative deals with Netflix and Spotify, all the while releasing communiques about charity and public service and telling people how to live. Really, what qualifications do either of them have for telling people how to live?

By any measure, Meghan, a very cute but third-rate actress, has done very well out of her royal connections. Would she be making these deals if she were one of Harry’s ex-girlfriends? Unlikely.

Queen Elizabeth II of Canada

Which leads me to what I think happened with those two while they were still in UK. I think they wanted to run the show, so to speak. Playing second fiddle to Kate and William (for the rest of their lives!) was just not very palatable. Following royal protocols and doing what a 94 year-old woman wanted them to do was just not in their wheelhouse. Having the agenda set for them was just not their cup of tea.

So, they decided to leave. I admire them for that. If you don’t like the song, gather up your courage and change the channel. But what I find rather off-putting, aside from their seeming inability to stay out of the media spotlight, (if they really wanted privacy, all they had to do was stay on Vancouver Island or another place like it) is the way they did it. In my, well, unimportant opinion, they glow with hypocrisy.

I don’t doubt, not for a second, that they have legitimate complaints. But I think it’s probably a two-way street. And no matter which way you cut it, these two are amazingly privileged (mostly because of royal connections). So while most of the rest of us think about vaccines, masks, the economy, and how to get our kids through online high school, to say nothing of how we can help those who are less well off during this pandemic, these two are wallowing. Shouldn’t they be happy that they have done so well and gotten what they wanted?

Apparently not. One of the interview ads suggests that Harry is going to compare Meghan (and their situation) to Diana’s. Meghan accuses “the firm” of lying about them. So it seems that they are going to do some major bashing, going all the way back to the death of Harry’s mother.

Why would they feel they need to do this to a 94 year-old woman whose 99 year-old husband is in the hospital? For a couple who says that one of their missions of service is the development of compassion, this doesn’t seem very compassionate.

So, here’s what seems to be the reality. Harry and Meghan are very privileged people who are extracting further privilege out of the fact that they are connected to a very privileged institution. To me, doing an interview at the expense of Harry’s elderly grandparents (setting aside that they are at the head of the royal family) makes them look kind of mean, and more than a little self-centred.

While I’m sure they have issues with “the firm” I have no doubt that “the firm” has issues with them. Most things in life are not as one-sided as these two are trying to insist, including a completely saintly Diana or a completely villainous Charles.

Wild about Harry?

These two were given every opportunity to do what they wanted; now they should shut up, do it, stop whining and while they’re at it, drop the whole title bit (how can you continue to complain about the royal family when you keep using a royal title to facilitate your climb to the top?). He says, “Call me Harry.” She says, “Call me Meghan.” Harry and Meghan Windsor – maybe they should really follow through on that. It would certainly improve their credibility, especially in a country that threw out the monarchy a long time ago.

Meghan is no Diana, no matter how much Harry tries to say that she is. Meghan strikes me as a big-time toughie (isn’t acting a pretty tough gig?); Diana was much more vulnerable. I really can’t feature Meghan being chased to death by paparazzi, or some other similar scenario.

Meghan has been accused of bullying by some of her former employees, and I have no doubt there’s truth to it. On the other hand, has Meghan had to deal with racially motivated criticism? I have no doubt that there’s truth to that, too. All I have to do is think about that horrible Piers Morgan and the vindictive way he talks about her to see that there is, indeed, truth to it.

But what they are about to do is probably very unwise. It’s something that they will never be able to take back; a very public airing of their problems and issues. To me, this is totally unnecessary. They have already made their point with their feet. What’s the use of rubbing salt in the wound? Are they trying to bring down the royal family? Cause their demise? Actually, they’re probably just trying to be right, and a lot of wrong has been done in the name of trying to be right.

Kate and William

Almost certainly, Meghan will cry or be teary-eyed during this interview, but I don’t think she really has all that much to cry about; they will wring themselves out for the public, to get “their version out there.” But why does their “version” need to be “out there?” If they cared about their privacy, they wouldn’t need the public to know. It all just sounds like they are trying to persuade the public, especially the American public, of how awful the royal family is and how badly they have been treated.

The public’s opinion is clearly very important to them, and they feel they need to do some convincing. But their actions have already spoken much louder than their words. Can’t they continue that approach and earn the good opinion of the public through their hard work? They keep saying they are committed to public service; why don’t they just start doing that?

These two are rich and famous and living in one of the priciest and most exclusive areas of the US. They are about to release an interview that may contain something important (support for Black Lives Matter, maybe, or other important movements?) but more likely, is going to contain drivel, and spun in a way that attempts to make them look like saints and the royal family look like devils on speed.

As for me, I’m royalled out. Ms Markle has lost her sparkle. I am not going to watch their interview. I am going to try to avoid reading about them or other royal types. The only royal I want to see is the picture of Elizabeth on the 20 dollar bill. And frankly, when Elizabeth passes on, I would like to see the end of monarchy in Canada.

The bottom line is that in the scheme of things, these two just aren’t that important, not unless they really do something to change that. They are second-fiddle chairs in an outdated orchestra that’s struggling to find relevance in the modern world. They say they have “stepped back” from that orchestra, but in the end, what does that even mean? I’m just not seeing it. Do you?

Ice Runway

When you work in the north, lots of things are different. Since you’re surrounded by snow and ice for many months of the year, you learn to make tools of them.

Northern ingenuity.

So, what is this? It’s a frozen lake runway. There is another nearby airport (quite a large one, actually) that’s on dry land, but here, summer float planes can become winter ski or wheel planes just off Latham Island on Great Slave Lake.

Happy Wednesday. 🙂

Frigid February

We are deep inside a real big frosty.

With temperatures of -42C and wind chills of -52C, it has been interesting. And I understand that a lot of North America has been whacked by a polar vortex, so apparently there’s lots of cold to go around. Polar vortex – doesn’t that sound vicious? But here, cold in February? That’s normal.

I’m used to dressing warmly – a heavy, long parka – and walking to work, but the windy conditions the last couple of mornings – with gusts up 70K – have been, well, glacial.

My eyelashes have been frosting up within seconds.

I dare not expose my cheeks, chin or nose. They might freeze and break off.

Taking a deep, unprotected breath might sear my lungs. That actually happens, by the way. If I breathe in too much cold air without some sort of scarf buffer, I will start to cough.

Going bare-handed, even for a few seconds, produces instant skin cracks. Ouch!

But, there are good things. My coffee thermos keeps my homemade mocha really hot, even though the outside of it gets really cold during my walk.

My parka is stellar.

The winter sky is a crystalline arch.

And, this weather makes me totally appreciate spring, summer and autumn. 🌸

What’s the best and worst of your winter?

The Pandemic Wall

It really looks as if the federal government is going to tighten our pandemic travel rules, a lot. The prime minister is being pushed that way, and, I think, is leaning that way. That means no travelling at all, either nationally or internationally.

Although I’ve hit a bit of a patience wall, I’m in favour of it. I want to do what’s in the best interests of the vulnerable. And the sooner we hunker down, the more we can control this wretched virus, and together with the vaccines, that means …

One of my favourite Penticton restaurants.

… going to a restaurant! Inside!

What else?

Meeting with family and friends! And being able to hug!

This is a picture of a former Canadian politician, Tom Mulcair. That’s not the point, though: it’s a crowded room, and there’s not a mask in sight.

No masks! Hot, soggy, fogging-up-the-glasses uncomfortable. If I never have to wear a mask again, I’ll be very thankful.

I hope to say good-bye to these soon.

And lastly, but definitely not leastly, just being able to live without covid. Without worrying about loved ones, without thinking of all the safeties you have to do to go to the grocery store, … without worrying about my son, the paramedic.

I was lately reminded that nothing lasts forever, including a pandemic. So yes, this, too, shall pass.

We have to continue to be patient. And safety conscious. And thankful for essential workers of all kinds.

Sunny days will return.

It will end.

What do you look forward to the most?

Green Lights at Night

Although I work under the Northern Lights, I have resisted publishing photos of them …

… but this one, with its starry and reflective accompaniment, is a stunner and much too good to ignore.

Taken by photographer Beckey Lee and first published by National Geographic (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/04/your-shot-unbelievable-landscapes/), it embodies all the romanticism of that luminescent northern glow. In fact, many people believe that conceiving under the Aurora Borealis will imbue the child with wisdom.

If you’re interested in seeing them for yourself, there are many choices. Here’s the site for Yellowknife, NWT tourism: https://extraordinaryyk.com/

Thinking about travelling somewhere makes me wistful. Not that I need to (or want to) travel right now, but the idea of that freedom … I hope that we will soon have this pandemic under control, and such things as seeing the northern lights will become possible again. This weird perception that I’m “unfree” is strange. I’m not, not at all, but I feel an illogical and strong sense of entrapment. This must be my limbic brain kicking in. New normal? Hah! New abnormal is more like it.

How about you? Are you feeling trapped?

Happy week. 🙂

Snow People

Here is an eerie but extraordinary picture from …

… photographer Pierre Destribats. It was taken in Lapland, which is a part of Finland.

The light shown in this photo is very familiar to me. It’s that top-of-the-world, angled sunlight that is passing through a clear, cold atmosphere.

I have seen these formations here in Northwest Territories, but only occasionally and the result is much less impressive. What are they, you ask? These are actually snow-covered trees.

An icy coating forms over the trees when humidity in the air makes contact with the branches. The moisture freezes instantly and begins to form a layer of thick frosting. This results in these rather ghostly, human-like sculptures.

An alien landscape on Earth.

This photo was originally published in National Geographic magazine.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/04/your-shot-unbelievable-landscapes/

Happy weekend, everyone. 🙂

Aerial Cloud View

This fabulous photo …

… was captured by Santiago Borja and published by National Geographic.

It is a gigantic cumulonimbus cloud (the kind that pilots are ever vigilant to avoid, especially during summer) over the Pacific Ocean; the photo was taken from about 37,000 ft.

The photographer captured this shot during one of the lightening flashes emanating from the cloud.

As a pilot, I have taken what I consider to be rather interesting pictures from aloft, but I have nothing even approaching this.

The original article can be seen here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/04/your-shot-unbelievable-landscapes/

2020: A Retrospective

I recently saw a sign that said “2020. Written by Stephen King. Directed by Quentin Tarantino.”

Apt, yes?

The calm before the storm.

Well, yes and no. For all its tragedies, fears, stresses, economic disasters, fires. floods, storms, inconveniences and annoyances, 2020 could have been a lot worse. In fact, history has recorded quite a number of years that were much worse than this one. 1944 was the worst year of WW II; June 8, D-Day, saw the deaths of almost 7000 allied soldiers (British, Canadian and American) in that 24-hour period alone.

1918 was the start of the Spanish flu. That plague went on to kill 50 million people world-wide. Whole communities were wiped out.

And let’s not forget WW I. On August 22, 1914, 27000 were killed during The Battle of the Frontiers. That was a single day’s losses. In total, that war killed 1.35 million soldiers; that number doesn’t include civilian deaths.

I could give many other examples, but you get the idea.

In the scheme of things, 2020 just wasn’t that bad. In common with others, though, I did a lot of moaning and complaining. But really, I haven’t been that badly affected. It’s more precise to say that I’ve been inconvenienced.

I kept my job. I didn’t lose anyone to coronavirus. I had to stay locked up and quarantined for weeks, but Spouse and I are both introverts. It wasn’t really that difficult.

Given that situation, a spotlight has been focussed on some things to which we need to pay attention; it’s like we’ve been given a second chance. Let’s not blow it.

So in that spirit, here are some realisations, appreciations and habits I hope to take with me:

The worst may be over. For now.

1. Respect for nature. We don’t need to spread ourselves over every single millimetre of this planet. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that this is the attitude that lead to (probably) bat, snake and pangolin DNA combining to bring about coronavirus.

2. Mindful travelling. (https://mindfultravelco.com/5-steps-to-mindful-travel/). Trying to cram an entire continent into a 10-day package tour where the point is to post as many braggy photos to Instagram as possible? That’s not travel. To me, that sounds like a lot of gobbling and very little appreciation. Much of this type of travel is causing extreme damage to the very things people want to see. And the environmental injury is becoming enormous.

3. Solidarity. We’ve all been hit by this. The whole world. Focussing on our commonalities is much better than focussing on our differences.

4. We are a lot more capable than we have let ourselves become. We figured out some amazing, innovative, and environmentally friendly solutions to the coronavirus issues. And those vaccines! So amazing and so fast!

5. There are wonderful people from all walks of life who have stepped forward during this crisis. And sometimes, I was very surprised by who did (and who didn’t). For all we think we know people, we really don’t …

What do you think?