Yet Another Lockdown

We are living in an alternate reality. 10 months into this pandemic and it seems that we are no further ahead. Shut everything down. Lock everyone up.

At times I think I am living in a really bad apocalypse movie with no ending in sight.

Day after day. Week after week. Month after month.

This lockdown for Ontario has been telegraphed for weeks. It was never a question of “if” but only “when”.

Yesterday, the Premier of Ontario said the following:

This difficult action [the lockdown] is without a doubt necessary to save lives and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks. Make no mistake, thousands of lives are at stake right now. If we fail to action now, the consequences could be catastrophic.

Except that despite thousands of lives being at stake, the lockdown won’t go into effect until the day after Christmas. Five days from the date of the announcement.

Such bizarre logic.

Why do government leaders make stupid decisions? Why are government officials so inept?

Holding a high office in government means that the incumbent is in a position to make important decisions. And those decisions are magnified. In the case of a lockdown, such a decision has a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of people.

When a leader makes a bad decision, everyone knows about it.

I could link to hundreds of articles and editorials bemoaning the decision to delay the lockdown until after Christmas. I could link to hundreds of articles and editorials highlighting the chronic underfunding of our health care system that has led us to this point. A health care system so fragile that even a few thousand COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization can bring the entire system to its knees. Overwhelming our health care resources would cause unnecessary death and suffering, not just to those that experience severe COVID-19 symptoms, but to those that are battling cancer, strokes, accident injuries and on and on.

Protecting the health care system has forced the government to restrict civil liberties.

I empathize with government leaders to a point.

In the corporate world that I came from, we worked within very complex systems. There were many challenges we faced when making important decisions.

The first and most obvious was an unstable environment. It is one thing to make a decision when an environment is in equilibrium. It is quite another when the environment is constantly in a state of chaos.

With so many interdependent variables, complexity will increase the potential for unintended and problematic outcomes. Changing one thing can have an unexpected impact on something else. And the variables themselves change over time creating further unexpected indirect effects.

Getting people to respond effectively to significant changes in direction was another major challenge. Managing change is difficult. Managing highly disruptive change? Some might say nearly impossible when the stakes are high. An organization might need to enter survival mode and impose severe, even draconian tactics in response to a dire situation.

Seems like the Ontario government is at a similar point especially given that the survival of individuals is literally at stake.

Government actions can have a profound impact on the lives of all people. If Apple decides to make a bad product, I don’t have to buy it. Little to no impact on my life. If the Canadian government decides to make reckless economic policies, all Canadians bear the direct impact of stupid policy decisions.

If a government fails to act appropriately in a public health care crisis, lives of citizens are undeniably at stake.

Lord knows this pandemic has seen its fair share of stupid decisions by government officials. More to come unfortunately.

At times I feel so hopeless and lost that I get mired in depression.

And I know that I am not alone.

Lockdowns Coming

Tracking. Recording. Mixing. Performing. Producing. Almost non-stop for the past six weeks. Many days went 14 hours or longer. And no breaks.

Until today.

I submitted the final mastered songs for A Very Harvest Christmas yesterday. This is an annual production that raises funds for the work of the Salvation Army. With the current COVID-19 restrictions, we are planning to run 7 in-person events and 4 livestream events starting next week. Maybe.

This is a short promo video. Don’t worry if you are on the website. It is on autoplay and looping with no sound. If you look carefully, you can see me on guitar in a few of the video cuts.

Our production team has been working non-stop since the beginning of November on this project.

My part was well over 250 hours. I will post a few of the videos once we have released them to the public.

But lockdowns may be coming. As soon as next week.

And if that happens, all of the hard work we put into the production will be tossed aside for the in-person events. The lockdowns would reduce in-person events to a maximum of 10 people including staff. In effect, our 7 events would be cancelled. Livestream only.

Such a frustrating time. Border closures. Retirement plans upended. Can’t even plan to do scaled back Christmas events.

Our province will shutdown. The only question is when. I’m hoping they will wait until the 25th but there seems to be a lot of pressure to lockdown on Monday.

Anyway. I am very happy with the result of the work and it kept me focused on something other than the pandemic and the onset of a harsh Canadian winter.

Might need something else to do for the new year.

And back to regular posting.

Life Is Too Short

Pandemics are no fun. Politics around pandemics are no fun. Border closures are no fun. I’d hazard to guess that I haven’t been having that much fun since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the WHO on March 11th of this year.

I lost my hair.

Literally.

After I became so ill in January, I started to experience substantial hair loss.

Turns out that hair loss is an unexpected outcome of COVID-19 and perhaps I was infected back then. Or perhaps the stress of being put into a very dynamic situation with regards to where we would be living took its toll.

Thankfully my hair seems to be rebounding. It was quite a shock to see so much hair loss every time I took a shower over the past six months.

Life hasn’t been as enjoyable since all of this started. Partly due to the pandemic and largely due to the loss of control with all of the government restrictions.

A friend passed this note of encouragement along. With everything that passes my way, hundreds of emails each day, dozens of websites scanned each day, hundreds of social media posts, tweets, YouTube videos, well, you get the idea. Most of that information flows quickly in and out.

This one caused me to pause. It hit home. And it caused me to think more deeply than I normally do when I read emails.

Here it is in its entirety.

Seneca once wrote:

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.

This is a profound statement and I would encourage you to read it again. The more I read it, the more I am inspired by it.

These phrases stick out the most to me:

“It is not that we have a short time to live… but that we waste a lot of it…”

“Life is long enough for the highest achievements if it were all well invested…”

“It is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity…”

“We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it…”

I should, perhaps, end this article right now—with Seneca’s own words—rather than thinking I can improve upon them.

But maybe, for just a few short sentences, I will comment.

You (the person reading these words right now) were designed to achieve great things! You are unique in your being, your substance, your abilities, and your relationships. And there is no one else on the face of the earth who can live your life and accomplish your good.

Please, do not forget that.

There is no doubt that “success” and “achievement” are relative words and your highest achievement is different from someone else’s highest achievement. You may never lead thousands or cure cancer. But make no mistake:

There is a good that you are designed to bring into this world. And there are people in your life that you can serve and love better than anyone else.

Your highest achievement will be different than mine, but we both have one. And “life is long enough for us to achieve it.”

Unless, as Seneca wrote, “Our lives are wasted in needless luxury and spent on no good activity.”

It is up to us to decide, every day, to focus our energies on those things worthy of the one life we have been given.

Discard the inessential. Remove the distractions. Reject worthless activity.

Your life is too short… to waste accumulating material possessions.

Your life is too short… to be offended all the time.

Your life is too short… to chase accolades.

Your life is too short… to compare it to others.

Your life is too short… to waste watching 6 hours of television/day.

Your life is too short… to pursue riches.

Your life is too short… to not believe in yourself.

Your life is too short… to not forgive.

Your life is too short… to not speak your mind.

Your life is too short… to worry about the future.

Your life is too short… to regret the past.

Your life is too short… to live in fear.

Your life is too short… to be unhappy.

Your life is too short… to waste time on the trivial.

Your life is too short… to live like everyone else.

Your life is too short… to not be true to yourself.

And life is too short to wait.

Volunteering

Volunteerism is the practice of volunteering one’s time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one’s community. Since returning to Canada, I have been heavily involved in volunteering at our church. On a weekly basis I spend about 20 hours a week recording, mixing and producing the worship music for our livestream services. I’ve done 19 services over the past five months.

Here is one example:

We pre-record our musical parts before the video is captured. That way I can bring them into my Pro Tools rig and produce a good sounding mix for the livestream service. From the coach I record and add all of the electric guitar parts for every song we play each week at our church. So even though you might not see me in the above video, I am playing several different guitar parts in that song.

I mix all of the various parts — vocals, keys, bass, drums and other tracks — in the coach as well.

This is the setup that I use to mix the music. Obviously a bit of a challenge to mix to a professional standard in a motorcoach but it can be done.

When we present the livestream on Sunday morning, I work out of this temporary audio suite at our church. I use the console to mix the live sound sources for the service as well as the pre-recorded mixes that I have produced from the coach each week.

Over the past few months, I have been working on a new audio mix suite. I have been heavily involved in the construction and implementation of this new facility in addition to the ongoing livestream work.

Here is a short video which shows the start of the construction work.

I can’t begin to tell you how many hours I have poured into this project. And it is now starting to get close to being finished. I hope to have the new audio suite up and running next week and I will post the “after” video once it is all done.

Here is a sneak peek of the new audio mix suite. Very soon I will be mixing from this room as opposed to mixing from our coach.

Freedom

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” — Arthur Conan Doyle.

Yesterday I took my bike out for a ride. This bike:

I carry it in one of the basement bays in our coach. This particular bike is a work of art. The frame was hand built by Colnago in 2013. The frame celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Master. A steel frame. A real bike.

I bought the frame back in 2013 and finally built the complete bike out in 2017. Look at some of the details.

All in, the bike weights just under 19 pounds. Nowhere near as light as my racing bikes but at this stage of life, I ride for fitness and pleasure, not for racing. The frame is an aggressive geometry for an older rider but the bike rides like a charm. I maxed out at just under 70 kilometres per hour yesterday on one of the downhills. Tracks beautifully and responds instantly.

Freedom.

There is nothing quite like the freedom that comes from riding a bike.

After being stuck under COVID-19 house arrest since the end of March, along with some of the coldest weather on record for this time of year, it was a true delight to get outside and to take a couple of hours to ride.

Beautiful country roads in our area. Perfect for riding.