Stupid people in public office

Our Provincial and Federal Government’s have been warning Canadians for months to avoid travel unless it’s essential. They don’t want people getting caught in foreign countries, catching the virus and needing million dollar medevac trips home, or worse (as I’m sure you can imagine what some of those outcomes might be).

It’s not mandatory. They’re not stopping people from getting on planes. But it’s strongly encouraged that people don’t leave the country unless it’s required.

One would think that those who work in public office would be smart enough to… use their influence for good, right? One would think that those who worked for the very government telling people to not travel and to stay home and to flatten the curve would be smart enough to… not go and stay home and flatten the curve, right? I mean, those who work in public office are all going to get the vaccine sooner than us anyway. They can’t wait another month or two?

Well, starting with a special kind of stupid here in Alberta, two press secretaries who work as a part of the Alberta UCP Government decided to go to Hawaii for Christmas. As someone with a decade of experience working in PR, my question to them is ‘how fucking stupid are you’? But, it gets better. Not only did they decide to go to Hawaii for Christmas vacation, they decided to post pictures of their Hawaiian vacation all over their public Instagram accounts. Again, how fucking stupid are you people? Your literal job is to talk to the press and tell the press to tell people to stay home and you board a flight for Pacific Island life as soon as the cameras turn off? That’s not a good look.

When these Instagram posts started making their rounds across social media, local discord servers and even wound up on the news, the response of these two press secretaries was to delete all of their social media accounts. Again, HOW FUCKING STUPID ARE YOU? The internet is forever. You work in PR. You know this. HOW STUPID ARE YOU?

Listen, I know people are travelling right now. I’m not an idiot. People all over this world have decided that since the virus hasn’t yet affected them, it’s fine for them to travel and pretend as though life is normal. I’m not naïve to that fact. However, if you work in public office, you’re held to a higher standard then the general public. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it’s always going to be. People who work in public office are supposed to lead by example. If the example they’re setting is to ignore the guidelines they’re putting in place for the general public, what exactly do they think they’re going to accomplish? Trust in leadership?

Also, quite frankly, as someone with a decade of PR experience, I’m ashamed of these two idiots. If you’re going to flout the rules and travel for a Hawaiian Christmas, don’t fucking post it all over Instagram, only to delete your social media profiles after getting caught. If you get busted for your shitty actions, own it. You work in PR, you know this. Or do you? Clearly these people are morons so maybe they don’t understand how Public Relations works.

Next, let us discuss Rod Phillips. Rod Phillips is, or rather he was, Ontario’s Finance Minister until today. Rod Phillips, holding what is basically the second highest position of public office in the province of Ontario, decided to flout the rules about non-essential travel from both the Canadian and Ontario government’s and head to St. Barthelemy for Christmas.

What is surprising about Rod Phillips is that he is perhaps the opposite of Michael Forian and Eliza Snyder, is that Phillips executed a well thought out, deeply organized plan to make it look as though he was still in the country when he was not. This plan included having his own press secretary sharing social media posts to his profiles to make it look as though he was making regular appearances to support small businesses and Ontario infrastructure projects. He actually was busted early on in his trip after one of his posts exclaimed that he was visiting small businesses the particular day he posted it, Dec 15th, whilst the TV he was standing in front of read that the date was December 11th. Even still, he continued the charade going on to post a Christmas eve video from in front of his fireplace at his home, that was clearly filmed before he left for the Carribean, and encouraging people to stay home and host Christmas over zoom calls because too many people have made too many sacrifices this year for us to throw it all away.

He was busted on his lies on December 15th and continued to keep up the façade until Christmas day, when he announced he would be returning because he needed to rebuild the trust he broke with the people of Ontario.

That’s commitment to lying right there. That’s real commitment.

Phillips resigned today.

I can’t say that I’m sad about it. I don’t think too many people in Ontario are either. Part of me wishes his ass could’ve got kicked to the curb. But hey, the UCP is still ignoring Michael Forian and Eliza Snyder, so maybe we’ll here in coming days about how their asses are being kicked to the curb.

If you work in Public Office you are, and always should be, held to a higher standard than the general public. If you work for a government that is telling people to not travel, if you work for a government that is telling people to not even see their families for Christmas, meanwhile you’re jetting off to Hawaii or St. Barthelemy for a holiday in the sun, yeah, you deserve every criticism you get and probably then even more than that.

Welcome back to the ranks of the general public Mr. Phillips. The great news is now, you can take as many trips to the Carribean as you want! Perhaps you can get together with Michael Forian and Eliza Snyder and go together, since none of you seem to give a damn about the pandemic. Eh?

A headache and a half

On December 22nd I went to my mailbox expecting to find a Christmas card from my brother with pictures of my nephew inside. Instead of a Christmas Card with photos of my nephew, I found a bill. A bill that I didn’t want, wasn’t expecting and should’ve never gotten.

In August of 2019 I had some medical appointments in a province that I was not living in. The way that Universal Health Care works in this country is that, you can go to the doctor in any province and that bill from said doctor will be sent back to your home province for your home province to pay. The province never sent the bill back to my home province at the time. They just… held onto it?

Apparently they found out where I am and how to get a-hold of me now so they’ve sent me the bill, plus a year and a half worth of interest for this bill not being paid, to the tune of several thousand dollars.

Yeah. I cried. I definitely cried.

I haven’t thought about these appointments since August 2019. Opening up a bill three days before Christmas and finding out you’ve been accruing interest on a bill that’s been in your name for a year and half that you never knew existed? It sucks.

This is entirely an issue of the province and not of me. You don’t have to pay to see a doctor in this country if you’re a Canadian citizen. So, now begins the long, drawn out process of trying to get this bill sent back to the province. I was told that the process could take 4-6 months, and warned that because this bill is already a year-and-a-half old that I could get sent to collections if it does take 4-6 months to get resolved.

I’m not stressed about paying this, because I know that I don’t have to. I know it’s not my responsibility and that being caught in the middle of inter-provincial pissing match is not my fault. What I am stressed about is this bill staying in my name for another 4-6 months, possibly being sent to collections while I’m trying to get it resolved.

This is a headache and a half.

Ugh.

A Very Canadian Christmas

Since I was alone for Christmas this year I decided to sneak away to Lake Louise. Lake Louise is my definition of heaven on earth. It really doesn’t matter what season you visit, it’s nothing short of majestic. There perks to visiting in winter include an ability to walk/skate on the frozen lake, and, this beautiful ice castle that they build as the entrance to the lake each year.

The fact that I was there on Christmas meant that there were a lot less people there than on any other normal day. There were (at most) 50 people there. Normally you’d see 500-1,000 people, if not more. Regardless, we’re Canadian, so even with only 50 people around, there was a hockey game taking place on the lake. Thankfully everyone was wearing masks. They were pretty strict about it, actually. If they saw anyone without a mask, they’d give them a mask and stand and wait for them to put it on their face.

Every February at Lake Louise they host something called the ‘Ice Magic Festival’ where they have sculptures come in from around the world and they carve the most beautifully intricate sculptures all around, and on, the lake. They also construct an ice bar to serve drinks and do horse-drawn carriage rides around the lake. It usually draws quite a crowd though (hundreds of thousands of people over the two week period) so I’m not sure if they’ll do it with COVID being as bad as it is in Alberta right now. I guess we’ll see.

Even alone it was still pretty swell. Lake Louise is always magical. I say that a lot about the place, but it really does earn the title.

To anyone who reads this blog, or might read this post, have you ever been to Lake Louise? Have you ever heard of it? Is it on your list of places to see? I highly recommend, in any season. Also, if you read this, how was your Christmas? Magical and safe, I hope.

Blogmas Day 23

‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’…

We got absolutely walloped with snow yesterday.

Normally this much snow isn’t such a huge issue. I think, though, the fact that it all fell at once, during a 12 hour period, was a little odd and really had people ‘up in arms’ so to speak. You could see grass prior to this storm, that’s how little snow there was on the ground. Now there’s so much snow in my driveway I couldn’t even make it through shoveling half of my driveway before I just gave up last night. I’m just hoping, dreaming, wishing and praying that someone comes with a snowblower today to help me out, otherwise it’ll be a few days before my driveway gets fully shoveled.

On the plus side, thanks to this winter blast it really is feeling a lot like Christmas in this neck of the woods, which I am not mad at. People are cross country skiing down the roadways, there’s a snowman on every block and the neighbours are all putting on their masks and going out to help other neighbours stuck in the roadway as they try to get out to get to work. (It took one individual over an hour and eight neighbours helping to shovel a path for their tires for him to get off our street yesterday)

Winter solstice has come and gone and now the days will consistently get longer though to June. I cannot begin to explain to you how excited that makes me. Extra daylight is always welcome in my books.

Well, it’s time to stop putting off my work and get back to it.

Happy Wednesday

Blogmas Day 9

If you are in Canada, or in a few select more northern states in the United States, there is a possibility of seeing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) from December 9th-11th.

There is a potential for increased activity tonight and for the next couple of days due to an inbound coronal mass ejection that accompanied a solar flare. A solar flare is a release of energy on the sun due to a rapid reconfiguration of the magnetic field near sunspots. This burst of energy (radiation) occurs across all wavelengths. A coronal mass ejection is an emission of plasma from the sun. It is these particles that will eventually reach the Earth and potentially ‘rain-down’ into the upper atmosphere treating everyone to a show.

Aurorawatch.ca

Here’s a map displaying the areas that they’ll be most visible:

Map credit to Mark Tarello, Meteorologist

It’s not very frequently that Aurora Borealis can be seen this far south. Meteorologist Mark Tarello in Minnesota is predicting the lights will be seen in the areas of the green and north, on the map above. Depending on your location, and the weather, have a look to see if you can find them over the next few nights.

*Note – If it’s rainy, cloudy, overcast where you are, you likely won’t be able to see them. You need clear lights to really see the Northern Lights shine

*Note – If you live in a metropolitan area, you’ll likely have a hard time with spotting them due to light pollution. This means that if you live in a city, or well-lit town, you might have to drive 5-10 miles outside of the city/town to actually be able to find them. The reflection of street lights, houses, buildings, etc… all drown out the visibility of the Auroras.

If you’ve ever seen them before, finding the Northern Lights is always a special moment, and something you don’t get sick of. If you’ve never seen them before, I promise it’s something you won’t ever forget.

Happy Aurora hunting!

Happy Thanksgiving

More than anything this year, I’m thankful for people. The people who’ve kept our society going, the people who’ve proved to the world that the essential nature of someone’s job does not necessarily correlate with how much they are paid to do said job.

I’m extremely thankful for healthcare workers. Doctors, Nurses, Therapists, EMTs, Dentists, Surgeons, Counselors… every single health care worker who’s continued to do their work to look out for the health and well being of the general public through this weird, unprecedented time… in a lot of ways putting themselves in harms way to do so.

I’m thankful for bosses who were able to coordinate their employees working from home. I’m thankful for employees who turned into full time teachers and finally realized just how not easy it is to be a teacher. I’m thankful for a government that leapt into action to ensure that people had programs and funding options available if they needed it, even though they knew some could/would likely take advantage of the system. They knew that looking after the many was far more important than worrying about the few in the heat of the moment.

I’m thankful to my parent’s neighbours who continuously brought them food and necessities to try and make them stay home so that they didn’t have to go out and put themselves at risk. With my mom being in remission and my dad having surgery in February, the neighbours did all that they could to try and ensure my parents would stay put and stay healthy.

I’m thankful to the anonymous donor who gave $20,000 to a local women’s shelter about two months back and asked that it be used to pay for the expenses of as many families living there as it could. Whoever they are, wherever they are, that’s some serious generosity to give to a family in the middle of a crisis of their own in the middle of this pandemic.

I’m thankful to the oodles and oodles of people who read this blog and give me pep talks, send me kind words, leave me motivational notes or just reach out to see if I am okay. I think on some level everyone wants to know they’ll be missed if they were suddenly not to show up. The fact that so many people reach out to me, even if it’s just two or three days that I don’t sign on here, it’s a very nice feeling. So thank you to all of you.

I’m thankful for family and friends. Oh, my friends. They’ve heard me cry, they’ve helped me through some of the hardest times of my life the past year and a half and they never backed away once. I’ve got really incredible friends and I don’t tell them that near often enough.

I’m thankful to the person who gave me the dozen rainbow roses currently sitting in my kitchen windowsill. I’m thankful to the person who so generously, without question, paid my cell phone and credit card bills in February and March when I was so broke I didn’t know where to turn. I’m thankful to person who drove through the night to help me move, so that I didn’t have to do it alone. Some things, small gestures or large, they’ll stay with you forever.

I’m thankful to those who wear masks, who keep their distance, who say no to attending parties, weddings, vacations and who understand that precautionary measures are not about you, they’re about everyone. While the selfish might be one’s making the headlines on the news each night, there’s been a whole lot of selflessness this year that hasn’t been talked about. I see you, I appreciate you and I admire you. Thank you for what you’ve done.

In spite of all of the bad that has happened this year, there’s also been a lot of good as well. I’m going to have a new niece or nephew soon. I’ve got a new job, something that’s challenged me in ways I never thought possible. I’ve got a new home, a new car, a new life essentially. And hey, I may not have done much more than stay home the past eight months, but it’s been one hell of a ride.

It’s October 12th and it’s snowing.

Happy Thanksgiving, world.

Seeking your input

So, this weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada. While I know it’s been a really difficult year for pretty much everyone on the planet, there is still good in this world. There is still a lot of things to be thankful for. As I sit here and compile a list of all that I am thankful for in 2020, for Monday, I am wondering… what are you thankful for in 2020?

(Yes, I know it’s not Thanksgiving around the world this weekend. But, I just want to hear what you’re thankful for. So come on, give a girl some insights!)

Two totally different worlds

The company that I work for has secondary offices in Texas. While our primary office, and most of the employees work here in Canada, there are quite a few who work in Dallas.

The company as a whole has been working from home since March 9th. That’s everyone. Those here in Canada and those down in Texas. While Canada’s cases of COVID has been serious, it’s not nearly been as bad as what the United States has seen and what Texas alone has seen.

So we’re all working from home and will likely be until September or later. While there are less than 1,000 active cases in this province right now, everyone is still being hyper-vigilant about COVID. You don’t go anywhere without a mask. Large events aren’t happening. People, for the most part, are trying to keep the spread at bay.

Texas, on the other hand, we keep hearing stories about how there’s been a surge in cases lately and that the state may have to do some form of ‘shut down’ once again due to the public health risk of so many people being out and spreading the virus.

For reference, there are presently 65,000 more COVID cases in Texas than there are in all of Canada.

So this morning we’re on a call with the Dallas team and one of them asks ‘So how was your Canada day? What did ya’ll do?’

Each of us responded with different variations of ‘absolutely nothing’ because we’re still very much not in the public event planning stage here in Canada.

Anyways, she says ‘I’m so excited for the fourth!’

‘Oh yeah?’ I asked.

‘My girlfriends and I are renting a house down in Galveston and we’re going to have a giant party on the beach. It’s going to be four straight days of barbecues and bar-hopping.’ She laughs.

‘You’re not worried about Corona Virus?’ My boss asked, cautiously.

‘Nah. That’s not that big of a deal.’ She said.

‘It is a big deal’, my boss said. ‘Please be safe and social distance with your friends!’

My boss said it in a very concerned, but very professional manner. He wasn’t trying to lecture here, but more just trying to state the obvious. Well, she didn’t like that. Her response?

‘I ain’t going to let no imaginary disease ruin my 4th of July. We only get one 4th every year and I’m going to make the best of it’.

I was trying to hide my face at this point so that I didn’t say anything condescending. I honestly wanted to. People on the video call kind of… looked away. She was like ‘Hey, if I get sick I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. And if it’s my time to go, I guess it’s my time to go. Nothing is going to ruin my fourth of July.’

I just…

Wow.

I can’t.

How do you have discussions with her? How do you explain to her that it’s not just herself whom she’s putting in harms way?

You can’t.

You really can’t.

We’re living in two completely different worlds.

Our office is avoiding the human race, and each other, at all costs. Seven people have been diagnosed and they’ve all shared some very scary stories about what they refer to as the worst sickness they’ve ever experienced. And this girl? Her response is ‘If I get it, oh well!’

Paid sick leave, right?

Oh my.

Our countries might be right next door to one another but we’re living in two completely different worlds.

Canadian Corona Update

The daily provincial update for Corona Virus was a big one for our corner of the world today. For the first time since March 6th, there were no new confirmed cases of Corona Virus in our region.

Businesses have been slowly reopening, kids have been slowly heading back to class and there seems to be a little more pep to everyone’s step. The Cancer Clinic has started booking appointments again, which is great for my mom. All of her appointments got suspended in March.

While I’m still weary about getting too close to others, it feels like others really don’t give a damn. Like they believe this virus is behind us. Social distancing seems virtually non-existent and the mask/no mask ratio is pathetic. I’m also in the process of moving to a part of the country that was a lot harder hit by Corona Virus then where I’ve been presently residing.

I am hopeful that the worst is behind us, cautious that the worst is in front of us and hoping that if wave two does strike, people won’t be as slow to react as they were this first time.

86% of people who tested positive in British Columbia have now recovered. I don’t recall how many are still in hospital, but I don’t think the number is too high. Also, we received my Uncle’s death certificate so things can officially proceed forward with paying his bills, taxes and debts and the subsequent distribution of his estate.

If you’re going to a protest, make sure you wear a mask. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay sane.

Thoughts and worries and such

As tree planting season begins in the north, it’s noticeably different this year.

See, one thing that BC is famous for is our forests. They’re everywhere. There is so much forest in BC that if every single person in this province was actually separated, we’d each get 32 square kilometres of forest to ourselves.

While summer is a beautiful season which is normally great time to celebrate in this part of the world, summer often puts our forests at risk. Hot weather mixed with lightning, careless humans, bonfires or lit cigarettes being discarded of in dry landscape makes for some extremely large forest fires just about every summer without fail.

This province relies on fire fighters and tree planters every summer.

The tree planting season has begun and it’s structure is distinctly abridged from previous years. People are questioning the effectiveness of what these tree planters will be able to accomplish this summer if they stick to strict social distancing guidelines to ensure each of them stay healthy.

And honestly, if that’s the case, when the fires start… we’re fucking screwed.

How are the fire fighters going to effectively fight forest fires if they’re either having to practice social distancing, or they’re falling ill due to COVID?

It’s something I’m genuinely worried about.

We haven’t had enough warm weather yet this year for fires to start. But I genuinely don’t think British Columbian’s understand what could be on the line if we don’t social distance enough to fight off COVID. Those fire fighters keep our homes from burning, or lives from being ruined and our province from turning to ash.

What happens if they can’t do what they do because we haven’t done the simple act of staying the fuck home to stop COVID from spreading?