A Week in London


Hard to believe it’s been a week since I managed to cram a break resembling a late “summer vacation” into the dying days of summer. I was lucky enough to escape to London for a week with my brother and Dad.
The non-stop energy, sheer enormity,  and overwhelming variety of London make it an in every sense, a true escape from every day life here in Calgary.

It was a beautifully successful vacation in the sense that it was truly a break from my “normal” everyday life. Of course, strictly adhering to a “pub by noon” rule and being in a time zone 7 hours removed from the demands of every day life demands may have had something to do with that.

Aside from the blur of pubs visited (and revisted), the highlights of the trip include squeezing ourselves into a 1930’s football stadium to see Tottenham play Sunderland, taking in a mind blowing Ancient Egypt exhibit at the British Museum  (still cannot believe admission was free), and settling into a Londoner routine with a daily 10K through the downtown core to Hyde Park.

If you haven’t been, well simply put, you need to go.
It’s my goal to go back, or, should luck permit, enjoy a longer stint with the family as temp transplants masquerading as Londoners…

Now, emerging from a small dose of well earned post epic vacation depression, I’m setting about getting back into my routine here. Time to burn off some unfortunate English Ale calories.

Overdue Downtime

It’s the end of summer, yet it’s the start of summer vacation for me. This passed summer, although not officially over, was especially busy, so busy in fact that opportunities to take a holiday didn’t really present themselves, and unfortunately the one holiday I had scheduled to head home for a bit more than a week had to be cancelled.

What did I spend the summer doing? Well more on that later.

Right Now the focus is on R&R and leaving “life” behind for a week. I’m headed for a week in London with my Brother and Dad. Last time we did this trip, is was beyond epic and I’m hoping for the same this year.

There’s no game plan per se, other than enjoying time together, walking from pub to pub, and soaking in the diversity and endless opportunity for distraction that London has to offer.

This trip comes at a time where I need some time away to reset, relax and rethink the path forward.

Looking forward to the pause from the normal day-to-day. More to come, during and post pause. Fall is after all the season to fall back into normal routine…. or so 20 years of school taught me. Now back to resisting the urge to check my day job email….

Focusing Up

Balanced is a great little app. I know I’ve plugged it before, but it has to be the best “to-do” productivity management type app out there, well worth the small fee for the unlimited “pro” version. I’ve been using it now for over 3 months and the results are pretty telling. I’ve been annoyingly diligent in entering each task, item, project, or initiative I want to spend time on in the app. I’ve been scheduling my ideal time spent on each app and then checking in each time I actually complete or work on a particular item.

Having taken the time this passed week to do something of a look back, I took advantage of the app’s activity tracking feast urges.  The results have given me real food for thought in considering the paths that lie ahead and real data to benchmark effort to reward ratio of the various things I spend my free time doing.

The first conclusion, I have too many balls in the air and it’s time to focus up. There’s a lot of great interesting projects to work on, but there’s only so much time. Jamming my limited free time with working on too many things has led to a lack of relaxation space, efforts that are too diversified and too diluted, and hence a lack of satisfaction in rarely achieving milestones on schedule or completing something.

Second, what I’ve been focusing my efforts on has been primarily driven by others and unfortunately just isn’t my passion. Some would say, well then why work on it? Well, my answer to that is really, but sadly only, it seemed interesting and like a good idea at the time 🙂

Lastly, What I’m working on today is completely disconnected from where I want to end up in the future.

So in keeping with  those points, It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve decided to shutter my current app businesses and end my participation in a new venture that I had hoped to launch with a pair of good friends; Best of luck to them as they move it forward and drive it forward toward a disruptive launch. The app businesses have, surprisingly without real active management for over a year, continued to sell product and be break even, but the current state is a far cry from what I have in mind when I had excitedly launched the businesses. Shutting them down doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t be back, but it’s the end of this chapter and the end of that work for now.

With my 35th birthday just around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to make sure today’s actions match the goals I’m holding for tomorrow. More on that to come, when the time is right to share.


Fitness Catch-up – Crunch Week

Between the barrage of colds, repeated bouts with the flu, an onslaught of work, and an overall not entirely uplifting atmosphere in the city lately, the focus on my personal fitness hasn’t really managed to become a priority, despite it’s prominent placement on my new year’s resolution list.

Though I wouldn’t have thought myself sedentary, being reduced to a wheezing, sweaty mess while jogging and pushing my son in the Chariot this past week was a moment of reckoning. Perhaps worst of all, I was running with my brother and had to rely on him to push the chariot for the majority of the 10km route. It didn’t take a session of deep meditation to isolate the cause; My regular lunch runs and morning gym workouts have come to be replaced with eating out everyday (pho, donairs, pizza, etc) and sleeping in respectively.

The response, shock the system and revive my old, hard fought morning rituals and regular workouts. Though it won’t be sustainable for much longer that a week, I’m going to kick off a Fitness crush week, with the overarching challenge of trying to lose 5 pounds in 1 week. I figure, it’s important to act now, while the guilt and shame are fresh, providing some solid motivation for change. The process won’t be enjoyable, mainly because I have significant inertia to overcome, but I’m confident I’ll be able to live without a pleasure feedback loop for 7 days (maybe 6 days, if a cheat day is deserved we’ll see :)).

Right now, or rather, just before I sat down to write this post, I weighed in at 202.5. I’m gunning for 197.5 or better by next Sunday.

It’s going to be something; 7 days of high protein and high fibre eating, 5 days of morning gym sessions and 6 days of lunch Carido. But perhaps, what I’m dreading most, is Saturday morning Yoga – I can feel my muscles screaming and my joints popping in inflexible protest already.

Here goes… getting old wasn’t, or rather, isn’t as advertised.

Turbulent Times

Nobody can really deny these are turbulent times; One could argue they’re turbulent for any number of reasons, but of the multitude of reasons that the world is worse today than yesterday, it’s the commodities crash that occupies my thoughts as of late.

Crashes, Booms and Busts, aren’t unheard of and they’ve been a fairly common theme through my life.

While I was growing up in Newfoundland, the spectacular collapse of the fishery, culminating with the 1992 moratorium decimated the economy of my home town and most of the province.

Although I wasn’t directly impacted by that economic implosion, honestly, I grew up never really appreciating what anything less than 15% unemployment could be like. That seemingly perpetual recession (read as +20% unemployment) only really began to lift with significant government investment in infrastructure and an uptick in the price of oil. I can still clearly remember my junior high social studies teacher saying how the Government and some of the big oil companies were really taking a risky bet, hoping that Hibernia would pay off if oil could somehow stay above $15/bbl, if it went above $20/bbl they’d be set. That was 1994, construction was underway, oil was somewhere around $14/bbl, and unemployment had finally started to decline below 20%.



Years later, I first entered the energy industry with bright eyes in 2006 and then full-time after graduation from engineering in 2008. Graphs of historical Oil and Gas futures are not hard to find these days, and below are 2 more, clearly showing the trend and illustrating the sentiment around that time. I was hired into what was then the dawn of a new Energy Age. Industry was faced with the challenge of peak oil, there was (and still is) the challenge of meeting the massive projected energy requirements of a human population on a path of exponential growth. August 2008 seems like ancient history now, and it certainly did in December 2008, when after 4 months on the job, every project I had been working on was suddenly canceled.


Since those uncertain days through most of 2009, there’s been highs and lows; but to be honest, mostly highs with work alongside great people on awesome challenging projects that I’m very proud to have been part. But now, when you look at the graphs and you ask around, something’s different this time. There is still certainty that a rebound will come, but this time there is doubt on the timing of the rebound and its magnitude; you see, this crash has been engineered.

It’s been engineered by the willful and arguably deliberate oversupply of the market. Some would blame OPEC, and maybe a share of the blame does reside there, but there’s also something else. There’s the maximization of all available production by essentially every producing company in existence to maximize cashflow and hopefully at least partially offset the impact of the lower commodity prices to the balance sheet.

It’s also been engineered by the incremental evolution of unconventional hydrocarbon extraction technology and continuous improvement of techniques. These improvements though initially slow in pace and costly, have resulted in previously uneconomic or unfeasible reservoirs “suddenly” becoming economic and often, prolific producers, with ever quickening delivery cycle times.

When you stop to think about the scale of this crash; the increasing unemployment; the fact that a large share of producing oil and gas companies are losing money everyday, you realize it really is a fight for survival, where the positive cashflow, or even the prospect of near term positive cashflow is license to live another day.

The effects here in Calgary haven’t gone unnoticed. There’s really no problem getting a parking spot anywhere downtown anymore; Crowded lunch lines seem like a distance memory; Traffic congestion (barring that caused by collisions and weather) seems to be a thing of the past; And more unfortunately, it seems like everyone knows someone who’s out of work or someone who’s under threat of unplanned unemployment.

I have hope that a turn around is sooner than later, but in the meantime we’re taking a cautious approach and a measured outlook. We’ll see what the future holds one day at a time and in the meantime, we’ll keep living each day like there may be no tomorrow… what else can you do? I mean other than delay the Porsche purchase another year? If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that living with uncertainty, even turbulence, is simply the norm, even if the cause isn’t.



And, in case you’re interested or otherwise, Just for reference, The Annualized Average unemployment for all provinces, with the Canadian average included, summary table with the data here: www.stats.gov.nl.ca/statistics/Labour/PDF/UnempRate.pdf

(Note, historical annualized NL unemployment always appears to show high, attributable in part to the large share of the population that relies of seasonal work)