I am bored. I never really understood the meaning of “ground hog day” until now. I may only have had one employer for forty-three years but I had varied roles, worked in many different locations, and I met lots of interesting people while I was with CIBC. When I was 18, I worked in rural locations and thought it pretty cool to be licensed to carry a handgun to pick up money parcels from the Post Office. I knew nothing about firearms and I had loaded the wrong ammunition. I was told that if I had ever pulled the trigger I would have blown my hand off.
Blues legends Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry frequently played the Montreal coffee houses and jazz clubs in 1970 and 1971 and they were regular customers for US money orders at Crescent and St. Catherine where I was working as a foreign exchange clerk. Sometimes they just came in to talk and pass the time. In my late twenties, I worked as an account manager in loft manufacturing buildings on St-Viateur and on Chabanel Street and there I learnt a lot about the pace of business, the need to listen and to “hear,” and the importance of being relevant and alert all while working with clothing manufacturers and importers. I enjoyed being an old fashioned branch manager, in many ways a job that conveyed more personal power than being responsible for commercial banking for east and north Ontario and where I was conscripted to work on commercial banking’s strategic planning.
I had the good fortune to spend most of my career in real estate banking courtesy of two Toronto women that convinced the head of real estate to believe in my ability to learn the industry properly and then proceeded to make sure that I didn’t let them down. I have been lucky to have had some of the best developers in Canada as clients and teachers. Real estate industry specialization has provided me the opportunity to have a post-retirement career that has given me an excuse to be downtown one or two days a week, and, the means to travel to Europe frequently.
It has been about five months since our annual “getaway from winter” was cut short and we came back from London on March 13, two weeks before we had planned to return. I shouldn’t complain. I like my home and I enjoy my wife and family but the variety that came from being in client offices in the city, meeting with work colleagues, eating in some excellent restaurants, and the enjoyment that I got from planning the next big trip are missing. We can and do go out to shop and to restaurants but those activities are frequently joyless given the necessary but bothersome sanitary procedures: endless hand washing and sanitizing, remembering and wearing masks, finding entrance / exit doors as well as the location of check-out lines, and, following a hodgepodge of directional signs. Then there is the unpredictability of individual temperaments including my own. I have never spent more time in a 6,000 square foot area and I find that my patience is frayed so I apologize to those unknown people I may have glared or snapped at. I am trying to do better but it is easier to snarl under a mask than it is to flash a smile that nobody will see.
A simple suggestion: Imagine people are smoking, or farting really bad, and try to avoid breathing it in.Click here to read the article on vox.com
Each new day is looking more like the day before and we are closer to Christmas than we are to that March 13 day when we left the UK to shelter from the pandemic at home. Covid-19 is going to be with us for quite a while longer. It is highly contagious and it is a killer. For many that it infects, there can be serious long term consequences. There are no proven vaccines and regardless of any hype, the ability to massively inoculate populations to the degree necessary for some level of herd immunity is probably 18 to 24 months away. We can’t possibly wait that long to get back to a decent level of normality. I think that everyone wants to rediscover a more social life, fearless freedom of movement, and the enjoyment of travel. What can get us there:
What can push us back into lockdown:
The same reminders: Shop local, support local businesses, buy from local farms, and support local artisans and manufacturers. As always, wear masks as required, wash your hands, practice social distancing, hydrate, and exercise.
I know! I am going to sound like a grumpy old man. Maybe that is because I am. I have been scratching my head in wonderment at the Taylor Swift phenomena. Is she an Incredible song writer, composer, and performer? I really don’t know! A discussion for another time? But probably not. At my age […]
Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]
We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie and Norry Wilson. So, we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]
Vienna on top again. This week both Monocle Magazine and The Economist unveiled their quality of life / most liveable city indexes. There are differences in the way each publication sets its index. So it is even more impressive that once again, Vienna tops both lists. I am a bit lazy today so rather than […]
Many Viennese went from hot bedding to superblocks overnight. Could they even imagine an apartment complex 1000 metres long built along two streets with even more massive landscaped courtyards? Could they conceive of 1400 apartment units built to house 5000 people on 56,000 square metres or 38 acres of land. Or a vertical build-out that […]
Vienna had been a poor city even before the First World War. “Normal” housing arrangements meant six to eight people sharing one room and a kitchen. Then, in early 1919, just after the Armistice, the cost of living tripled in two months. Bed lodgers could no longer afford their 8-hours a day in a shared […]