Monday, May 9, 2016


As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I received the Census in the mail.  After logging in, it became fairly clear that I was selected for the long form.  And it is fairly long with the most difficult questions being those about how much you paid for utilities and what are the property taxes on the house.  I was pretty excited that I could (legitimately) claim that I usually biked to work for the first week of May, since I biked in 3 times and took transit twice.  Given that most of my career I have used Census data heavily, it would be hypocritical to complain about filling in the Census (or to actually lie about any of the information), but it did feel quite long, and I ultimately did it in two chunks.  At least in my case, they didn't ask income, and I believe they probably have some deal with CRA to just go get the income directly from the tax man.  I could be wrong, though I would be surprised if they went to all that effort to get the mandatory Census back and then didn't ask income.  The one thing that I wish they would do (and I am kicking myself for not putting it in the comments) is to ask number of household vehicles.  I guess I'll just email this suggestion to them.

Anyway, I have been biking to work and generally getting in three days per week.  That's actually not bad, given that there has been a fair bit of rain (and this upcoming week is no different).  I haven't felt any more energy (indeed generally I am a bit more tired), and I haven't lost any weight yet, though it is still fairly early days.  What is of more concern is that my legs are very stiff.  I probably need to do some kind of stretching or yoga to try to loosen up.  Right now I feel I have the body of a 50 year old, which is depressing indeed.  What keeps me going is knowing that I should be feeling a bit more myself by the summer, when I may well be up to biking 4 days/week.  I think next winter, assuming I am in a better mental place than last winter (I certainly ought to be) I will have to commit more seriously to finding some way to keep active or I will be back in this same cycle.

I'm totally blanking on the second thing I was going to write about.  I may or may not come back and fill this in if I remember it.  It might well have been something about the clown show that is U.S. politics these days, though I feel completely disconnected from it.  I haven't completely made up my mind, but if things continue along their current trajectory, I will look into renouncing my U.S. citizenship.  But it is a bit early to completely give up hope (I guess).  The demographic trends certainly favor the Democrats, but there is so much gerrymandering and rural states have far too much power in the U.S. system that I don't see things ever turning around.

The last thing was even more depressing if you can believe it, but I suppose there are some glimpses of light.  I was talking with someone at work about sustainability and the ever increasing signs that global warming is out of hand.  He basically feels like a Cassandra.  In my case, trying to fight climate change is only a secondary or tertiary part of the job, though it is still in the job description to some extent.  Thus, I don't feel quite as personally responsible for the fact that we still draw up plans that ask far too much of human nature, i.e. if we provide marginally acceptable public transport, the general public will start taking transit in numbers large enough to make a difference (particularly in the suburbs).  This really isn't true, and most of us know and accept this to some degree.  (People are far more realistic if not to say fatalistic in Toronto, particularly when compared to Vancouver where most the planners are "true believers.")  Anyway, he feels humanity is basically screwed -- we've simply gone too far to reduce emissions to the point necessary to make a difference.  (And more to the point, the pain it will take to try to move to a reduced carbon economy guarantees that no hard decisions will ever be taken...)  I basically do feel this way as well, though one ray of hope is that China probably will be able to produce solar panels on a massive industrial scale within the next 5-10 years.  I often wonder just how bad the climate change refugee movement will be and whether there really will be resource wars, particularly over clean water.  I suspect so.  I also think most liberal institutions, particularly the EU and the UN, will simply fracture and wither away into irrelevance as the scope of the problems becomes clear, and average citizens will refuse to share with the have nots.  That will generally be a sad day, though I am so appalled at the smugness of liberal thinkers in extolling how great it is that human rights only ratchet one way up that I will take some satisfaction in watching these edifices crack.  (I've definitely fallen out of the camp of true progressives to something more akin to a pragmatist with some remaining traces of liberalism.)  I even do wonder if it was morally just bringing children into a world that will be a fairly dire place in 50 more years, but I take some comfort in knowing that pessimists have generally been proven wrong to some extent.  Also, of all the places in the world, Ontario is probably going to be a net beneficiary of climate change, even if Canada loses a war over extracting water from the Great Lakes (something along these lines will very likely occur some day).  I guess that is only positive from a personal point of view, since I expect things to get very bad for most African and Asian countries, but that's really all I have at the moment.  It is rare for me to hope that I am wrong, but I would gladly be wrong over the climate change issue if it meant less overall disruption to the world as a whole.

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