Bear's Etcetera Etcetera
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Since the Covid crap hit the fan in January of last year (earlier in some parts of the world), we've been staying home and will be for who knows how long, out of an abundance of caution of course. Shopping online or by phone for groceries and other necessities has become a way of life as is curb-side pickup. However, telephone calls, texting, emails, and online video gatherings give us some semblance of social get togetherness.

This is not what retirement was supposed to be, but it is what it is. We just have to make the most of it and hope this Covid situation comes to an end sooner rather than later.

The big day arrived for some of us, we got our first Covid jab on March 2nd and our second Covid jab on April 13th. This happened according to plan with no screw ups. Kudos to all the folks that made this happen. Mind you, booking the appointments was not something I want to go through again. And we aren’t out of the woods yet, as I have to keep reminding my 99-year-old dad, who wants to go for lunch and a beer at his favorite restaurant.

One would have thought that the 2003 SARS epidemic would have been a wake up call for Canada to be prepared for what is now taking place. It's a disgrace having to rely on foreign suppliers for PPE and vaccines, and has become a fiasco to say the least. Maybe this time round we might just get it right.

This Covid disaster will cost Canada and ultimately the taxpayer, somewhere in the $trillion-plus range. Oh, and don't forget the interest we'll have to pay on the federal and provincial debt, all borrowed money and likely the interest as well. I figure the final cost won't be known until 2022 or much later. I’m sure we’ll be footing the bill before that. As of April, this year, Canada’s federal debt is over $1 trillion and growing by over $1 billion per day. That’s a lot of zeros. Add to this, in Alberta, our forecast public debt stands at about $97 billion and increasing by almost $64 million per day.

The Liberals have finally tabled a 739 page budget (April 19/21), a so-called stimulus budget, and the first budget in two years. What immediately came to mind for me, was a song written by Merle Travis and sung by Johnny Cash, "Sixteen Tons" and specifically the words "another day older and deeper in debt," it seems nothing ever changes. As Don Martin (Columnist for CTV News) says, "It's a stimulus budget all right - for votes in the next election."

Mulling is an interesting word that has many meanings such as to think, to consider, to study or to ponder about something. Mulling best describes our federal government's decision-making process about many things. Now, it’s mostly about the current Covid epidemic in Canada. If you ask our PM about Covid vaccine certificates (vaccine passports) for international travel, he will likely say he’s mulling it over but won’t make a decision or the very least say what his personal preference would be.

To me it’s an easy decision, yes and yes to anyone leaving Canada should have a vaccination certificate and anyone coming into Canada should have a valid vaccination certificate from their country of origin. I’m really not sure what the big deal is, as I’ve had a Canadian International Certificate of Vaccination booklet since 1955 that was and is still required for travel to many foreign countries. The booklet has changed over the years, but it has always had the same yellow color and was previously issued by Health and Welfare Canada and is now issued by (PHAC) Public Health Agency of Canada.

Having said all this, an International Certificate of Vaccination is only as good as the existence of long-lasting immunity for current Covid vaccines which unfortunately is not known at this time. So, vaccinations, physical distancing, masking and restricted travel are necessary for the foreseeable future. Anything else is pie in the sky.

To rant or not to rant, that is the question? What can I say, we seem to be going from bad to worse over the last few weeks? People cannot get it through their thick heads that Covid kills, not just from Covid but through Covid patients taking up valuable hospital space for those that need it the most. Whether it's cancer treatment, cardiac care, general surgery, accident victims and hospitalization for a long list of other health issues. The list goes on and on.

Covid deniers and anti-maskers have no thoughts for anyone but themselves. Covid has been life altering and deadly for a lot of people. Look at long-haulers who are suffering from the aftermath of Covid. Decisions are going to have to be made one way or the other, if Covid can’t be controlled then decisions will have to be made quickly, and it will likely be a triage from hell. I just don’t understand why some groups believe they have the right to cause pain and suffering by not following health guidelines to protect themselves and others. Sure, it’s easy to say, let’s all get sick and get it over with, but belligerent jackasses are being unkind to themselves and to their neighbors.  

Mix and mismatch – each province seems to have its own guidelines as to how to deal with Covid, as does the federal government. Why not set up a minimum standard for everyone to follow and adjust as required?

One interesting point is that the provinces can prohibit travel from one jurisdiction to another within their respective province and can prohibit travel into said province from adjacent provinces. But surprisingly, provinces cannot prohibit international travel across international borders whether it be by walking, bicycle, automobile, boat, or air; only the federal government has the authority to do so. And they have done diddley-squat or extraordinarily little up until now to prohibit all unnecessary travel into Canada.

Covid and its mutations have travelled unhindered into Canada since the beginning because of federal policies. Canadian and foreign travellers have spread this virulent disease far and wide, and are still doing so. Why? Because Canada has no coherent policy to contain this disease and, couple that with a ‘who cares’ attitude from certain groups in this country, I can’t see us getting out from under this catastrophe anytime soon.

Socialism - It seems that Trudeau and Biden are leading their respective countries down the proverbial garden path towards a socialist style of governance. A case in point, is the likelihood of the governments forcing pharmaceutical companies to give away their intellectual rights to current Covid vaccines. I don’t follow that idea at all, since Pfizer-BioNTech has spent untold $millions with no taxpayer funding to develop their mRNA process. Not just from the beginning of this latest pandemic but years prior. The mRNA process can and will likely be applied to many other vaccines and other drugs for countless future advancements and cures in medicine. Forcing pharmaceutical companies to hand over their proprietary knowledge is tantamount to nationalizing the whole industry which to me is socialism. But maybe that is what Liberals and Democrats really are, socialists! The old saying of ‘beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing' holds true for sure.

What is socialism?

1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods*

2a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property*

2b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state*

3: a stage of society in Marxist theory [where socialism is a] transitional [stage] between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay*

*Source: Merriam-Webster

Pipelines to Nowhere (Erewhon*) - There is something about certain political parties in Canada that baffles me - the Liberals, NDP and Greens. For some reason they like to promote feel-good things and cater to special interest groups without giving much thought to the rest of the population.

One special interest group, in particular, is the anti-oil and anti-pipeline activists. And don’t get me started on who funds these people. They, that is the activists and their benefactors, don’t seem to factor into the equation that pipelines provide much needed fuel for our homes, businesses, and transportation, both private and public. Further to that, this group doesn’t think about the loss of royalties that won’t fill government coffers. And they don’t think about employment, wages and the loss of subsequent tax revenues that pay for healthcare, public services, infrastructure additions and improvements.

Specifically, they don’t think about federally or privately funded projects that will eventually wean us off fossil fuels. These projects will likely be sidelined because of the massive loss of revenue from oil, gas, pipeline and related service and manufacturing companies.

The current federal governments of Canada and the USA have blocked and/or made it impossible to extend, add, or replace existing pipelines, and they have created uncertainty in the oil industry and undermined Canada’s financial security. Through the current Federal Government’s absurd policies, Canada must import millions of barrels of oil annually from other countries including the USA, Saudi Arabia, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, Norway, Azerbaijan, Nigeria and Ivory Coast.

Canada spends almost $20 billion annually on imported oil and more than half of the imported oil is used in Quebec and the Maritimes. The bizarre thing is that Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world and cannot ship offshore or even across Canada so we're ultimately forced to sell into the saturated US market at bargain basement prices. Go figure . . .

*Erewhon (anagram for nowhere) is a book written in 1872 by Samuel Butler about a mythical utopian country where machinery and money are an anathema.

All Systems Go – Well wouldn’t you know it; things were progressing so well I felt like I was on a roll - despite the Covid pandemic and related restrictions. We even planned a short get-a-way down south to Fort MacLeod, about and hour and a half away from home. Hey, it’s a nice place to go - we were there in 2017 and the RV park (Daisy May) was a great stay and within walking distance of downtown. This time we would take our bicycles and I ordered a bike rack for the rear bumper of our trailer to eliminate having to take the bikes apart for transport. Anyway, everything came to a grinding or should I say crashing halt.

There we were, last Thursday, in the middle of cooking a sirloin tip roast in our smoker out by the shop and dear wife (AKA DJ) headed back to the house to get the potatoes ready for baking in the BBQ. About 45 minutes later I realized she hadn’t answered my text messages about the meat temperature and timing. So, I headed for the house and there she was sitting on the steps waiting for me to show up (we're only talking 200 feet away but no line of sight). Didn’t have her phone so she couldn’t alert me to the fact that she’d slipped and broken her ankle. A quick call to 911 brought an ambulance from Okotoks in about 15 minutes. Half an hour later she was in emergency at South Health Campus where she was admitted and x-rayed and was confirmed to have broken her ankle in two places. As luck would have it, there was an orthopaedic trauma surgeon on call and dear wife was assessed and scheduled for surgery the following day. The surgery was done at two in the afternoon and by eight o’clock that evening DJ was back home - from start to finish, all in about 27 hours – absolutely amazing! Kudos to AHS, the paramedics and the care teams at SHC!
Of course, the saga goes on as I am now chief cook and bottle washer as well as a home care nurse for the next few weeks. It’s given me a better understanding of what it takes to care for someone who cannot take care of themselves. PS the roast survived.

Squeezing - The local bar was so sure its bartender was the strongest man around that they offered a standing $1,000 bet. The bartender would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and hand the lemon to a patron. Anyone who could squeeze one more drop of juice out would win the money. Many people had tried; weightlifters, football, and hockey players, but not a single person could do it.

One day, a scrawny little fellow walked into the bar, wearing thick glasses and a polyester suit, and said in a small voice, "I'd like to try the bet." After the laughter died down, the bartender said, "OK"; grabbed a lemon; and squeezed away. Then he handed the wrinkled remains of the rind to the little fellow. But the crowd's laughter soon turned to total silence as the man clenched his little fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glass. As the crowd cheered, the bartender paid the $1,000 and asked the little man: "What do you do for a living?”

The little fellow quietly replied, "I work for the Canada Revenue Agency."

Now, having had fun at the expense of CRA, in all seriousness, tax departments must oversee the collection of personal and business taxes to pay for all the things that Canadians come to expect from our various levels of government. Be it local, provincial, or federal or at the border when we come back from a holiday.

Our expectations seem to increase with every election with all the promises that politicians typically make and sometimes fulfill, but somehow these promised goodies must be paid for. Hence, more taxes to be collected.

I don’t have a problem paying my fair share but the thing about taxes that gripes me the most is the constant waste that takes place at every level of government from largesse to those they favor, funding politicians’ favorite projects, and donations to foreign governments. All, it seems, with no oversight or consideration of where or how the money is being used and where this money is coming from – oh right, they either just print more and increase our debt or just raise our taxes.

Water, Water, Everywhere but Not a Drop to Drink, or bathe in, or do your laundry or even water your garden – if Alberta Environment and Parks keeps handing out water licences without due diligence.
Right now, we are in the middle of appealing a decision by Foothills County, which approved a development permit for an out-of-province landowner for an Intensive Vegetation Operation and Agricultural Processing and Distribution (DP 21D 053). The proposed operation at first glance, seemed alright, but we dug a little deeper and realized that there were more questions than answers in the original application to Foothills County. But mainly, the applicant wants to use well water to irrigate their crops – namely hemp that will be feedstock for their processing and extraction facility.

So, this is where Alberta Environment and Parks comes in. It seems that they are so busy in the water licencing department that they are issuing temporary permits without sending the required notices to area landowners. Go figure!

Much to our dismay two temporary (1 year) water diversion licences have been issued for the development approved by Foothills County: one for well water (Table 1) and the other for surface water (Table 2). Apparently the well has now been drilled and is in service – keep in mind no exploration permit was issued and a notice to area landowners was not done.

The most bizarre thing is that the temporary diversion licence for surface water is from a stream that originates from a spring on our property. The actual flow of water from our spring is 10igpm (imperial gallons per minute) as tested in the last week of May 2021. This stream runs through the applicant’s property and onwards through various other properties along highway 552. Now here is the really dumb part of this surface licence – the actual water volume of this spring feeding the stream is 10igpm (Table 3) but through the wisdom of Alberta Environment and Parks the applicant can use (divert) a maximum of 0.004 cubic meters per second which equates to over 50igpm! Not sure how Alberta Environment and Parks can justify this when the diversion from the stream is 5 times more than can be produced by the spring.

In addition to that, Alberta Environment and Parks did not check their records to see if any licences to divert water (or in our case a Registration for Traditional Agriculture) exist for this spring and stream. The latter does exist and approved May 9, 2002, at 200 cubic meters annually at source for our use. While consumption downstream off our property doesn’t impact us, the temporary licence (or possibly permanent) to divert over 50igpm by the hemp operation certainly affects any properties downstream from the hemp operation.

Table 1
Applicant's drilled well volume stated in imperial gallons per minute
as per MD application

Well igpm
1 hour
24 hours
1 month
6 months
12 months
Imperial Gallons
Cubic Meters

Granted temporary licence for up to 5,000 cubic meters from drilled well

Table 2
Assumed stream flow by Alberta Environment at 50igpm
(0.004 cubic meters per second)
Stream igpm
1 hour
24 hours
1 month
6 months
12 months
Imperial Gallons
Cubic Meters

Granted temporary surface license to a maximum of 32,621 cubic
meters from stream

Table 3
Water source for stream
Spring igpm
1 hour
24 hours
1 month
6 months
12 months
Imperial Gallons 10
Cubic Meters

Actual tested flow from spring in imperial gallons per minute
(source for stream)

Rounding of quantities in some instances

All numbers are calculated at 219.97 imperial gallons per cubic meter. If US gallons conversion required then recalculate using 264.17 US gallons per cubic meter

Masks on or masks off? That’s a billion-dollar question. So, I guess we’ll find out on Canada Day. I for one will continue to wear a mask until the numbers are zero. Why? Well, it’s like wearing a seatbelt, you never know when you will need it. Wearing a mask could save your life or the life of a loved one, a friend or neighbor. Masks are bothersome and it would sure be nice to see faces again but you know the old saying, “better safe than sorry.”

With all the variants out there, it gets a little scary on how we should deal with Covid. Right now, we are on a downward trend with fewer cases, less hospitalizations and a reduction in ICU cases in Canada. This is great but with an increase in variants that are more virulent and with more complications this downward trend could easily reverse itself.

This brings me to something I was baffled about, the difference between mutations, variants and strains? I found an interesting article that explains it in detail as follows: A guide to COVID terminology by authors Lara Herrero and Eugene Madzokere at Griffith University - Australia.

Interesting as this is, it seems we are once more in uncharted territory and our political masters are yet again befuddled over what to do. There is still that uncertain message that has no real coherence or long-term strategy on how to defeat Covid and its variants. Logic has it that we should be restricting unnecessary travel into and out of north America. But it will not likely happen. Here's to your health and a happy Canada Day . . .

Well, it’s masks off in Alberta including Calgary. But restrictions still apply in health care establishments, public transportation and any businesses that choose to keep a mask-on policy. Time will tell whether this is a good move on the part of the provincial government or not. Here’s hoping it is, as the last thing we need is a resurgence of Covid when we are so close to eliminating it in Alberta and the rest of the country.

The only other thing of note is the higher price of fuel caused by a lot of factors that we seem to have no control over; such as lack of pipelines for Canadian produced oil, increased foreign oil costs, reduced domestic oil production due to Covid, lack of refineries in Canada and to top it off, increased federal carbon taxes.

As well, relaxed Covid restrictions and the resulting increase in holiday travel has put pressure on supply - and bingo - up go gas prices. Although we’re not doing too badly at the pumps in Okotoks, AB at $1.34/L compared to $1.74/L in Sidney, BC.

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