Fear of Flying COVID

People Sitting Inside Airplane
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When my son and daughter-in-law bought an older home on the other side of the country, I decided I should head over to see if they needed help fixing anything that was broken. This wasn’t a fixer-upper, but there were a few things off the rails so to speak.

No one in our family has travelled since March. It was time to leave the old normal and find out what the new normal looked like. Plus, my wife told me to go. So I left the confines and safety of our home in Manitoba to fly to Victoria.

Let me tell you that the new normal looks like the old normal that you might see in any science-fiction movie dealing with a virus. Everyone seems like a strange person in a strange land.

I arrived at the airport about 30 minutes earlier than I normally would. I did my online research. Entering the terminal, everyone had masks on at all times. The airport air smells somewhat like pocket lint since that’s where I keep my mask. In the old normal, I can’t see anything without my glasses, and in the new normal I can’t see anything past the constant fog on my glasses. Things change, but ultimately remain the same.

I downloaded my boarding pass to my phone the night before and that allows me to move directly to the kiosk and scan my phone. I need to check my bag since I have filled it with various tools in order to break things apart and put other things back together again in Victoria. The bag weighs in at one pound under the allowable limit! Later I found a nice note in my bag from Canadian Air Transport Security saying they opened and checked my bag, too. They put in a similar note for the return trip too.

The airport emanates an unusual post apocalyptic aura since the terminal remains mostly empty. Kiosks selling the country’s most overpriced coffee remain closed. But when I near the Tim Hortons kiosk I feel like I’ve stepped into a fantasy movie since, for the first time ever, there is no lineup. I treat myself.

Hand sanitizer pumps stand like sentries everywhere. I use one and it dispenses enough solution to do my hands. And forearms. And a bit left over to sterilize my elbows. I can’t leave the sanitizer till I use all the liquid in case someone thought that foaming elbows was a symptom.

Our friendly airline announces that they are now open for boarding. Everyone lines up almost socially distant. The line snakes down a bit further than normal. A pleasant attendant comes by and asks everyone the now familiar COVID-19 questions of whether they have been feeling ill or in contact with anyone with COVID-19 recently. This reminds me of the midway rides as a child, when they lined you up against a “you have to be this tall to be on this ride” sign. Now it’s more of a “you have to be this healthy to be on this ride” rule. I start sweating, thinking I might not pass the criteria.

But just to make sure, gate staff take my temperature by one of those remote thermometers. The attendant smiles and raises the device and I try not to think of Javier Bardem’s character in No Country for Old Men, who dispatches a hapless victim with a similar looking captive bolt pistol.

We know to keep our masks on at all times – except when we show our government-issued identification to show that we actually are the same individual actually boarding the plane.

Upon entering the plane, all passengers are treated as if they are in business class. But instead of a hot face towel, everyone gets a lukewarm germicidal hand wipe. Only use it for your own seat area. Wiping down your neighbour’s seat will only get you looks. Or so I would assume. Safety tip: Do not use it on your face. Or any open wound.

Eventually, the seats beside me fill up. Social distancing appears to be a relative concept. Attempting to purchase the eight chairs surrounding me appears to be relatively expensive. So, I grin and bear it. Not that anyone can tell.

The pleasant young woman beside me asks if she can pull down her mask in order to drink her coffee. In a moment of supreme forgetfulness, I pull down my mask so I can clearly smile and tell her that it would be fine. I had to, I’d instantly lost all moral high ground if I pulled my mask down to tell her “No, and could she keep her mask on.” That would have made me the male equivalent of a Karen. Is that a Ken?

My airline follows normal survival training when it comes to service. You can survive three days without water and about 30 days without food. The benefit appears to be that the aisle is mostly clear most of the time. But since no one has any food or water, no one uses the washrooms anyway.

We land quickly and easily. Upon landing, flight attendants ask that everyone not stand up at the same time to grab their luggage and strongly suggest only moving once the people in front of you have left. So the theory seems to be that you should socially distance when standing and not worry about it when you were sitting down in even closer contact with your neighbours. 

When I do retrieve my luggage this seems like the same old normal. Retrieving my rental car takes me back to the new normal. All services areas now have the ubiquitous Plexiglas that impede virus and sound transmission.

I believe the sound impediment becomes an unintended but not unexpected consequence. The company-issued mask for the car rental attendant seems far more efficient than my mask in sound stopping capability. When the attendant asks me questions about insurance and the collision-damage waiver on my credit card, I can’t help myself and poke an ear around the Plexiglas to find out how much I would be liable for in case of an accident. I pull back. Don’t be a Ken, I thought. I’m sure the insurance company would be understanding and accepting. Unless I really needed them for something.

After short drive I arrive at our son and daughter-in-law’s new house. I enter a new social bubble and a new interprovincial health guideline. Proper adherence to both allows me to give both kids a hug. And I feel a bit of the old normal slip in ever so slightly.

Things are going to be okay after all. 

Until I fly home. 

#covid #flying

Retirement Untethered: The first step

adult adventure beautiful climb
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1.  Alice in Wonderland

Time to be existential


“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain


If you just recently came back from your vacation, you likely addressed the greatest of all existential questions. When can I retire?


Not that we all hate work, but some of us long for something more. Or perhaps just something different.


But what does retirement mean? Is this simply stopping work? Most of us stop work while we sleep. Some of us may dream of work, but that requires greater psychotherapy than what we have time for right now.


Retirement becomes a transition from one phase to another phase of life. Some consider retirement a transition into leisure, which requires its own definition.


Robert Stebbins, a sociologist, wrote a number of books including The Idea of Leisure, First Principles. He describes leisure as an uncoerced, contextually framed activity engaged in during free time, which people want to do and, using their abilities and resources, actually do in either a satisfying or a fulfilling way. Although this seems to suck all of the fun out of it, He suggests taking four different ways to achieve this type of leisure.


Firstly, a person requires a good balance of activities. Constant leisure may be a difficult thing to achieve. One must include any number of things one does not want to do. Call them duties.


Secondly, leisure also requires positive continuous improvement. Sitting on a beach with an unending supply of tiny umbrella drinks sounds pleasant, and it likely could be for the first hour. Or two. But he suggests continuously improving oneself, even though this sounds exhausting


Thirdly and fourthly, he suggests positive relationships and positive interaction with the community. We are better overall interacting with the rest of society. After all, we are all in this together, and no one is getting out of here alive anyway.


Retirement then involves leisure hopefully, but it involves much more.





Retirement Untethered: Bliss list #6

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6. Keep on top of Change as things keep changing. You don’t have to be at the front end but try not to let the wave of change completely pass you by. Sometimes new things are theoretically comprised of older things. So it can be better to keep with those things as they keep changing.



#retirement #motivation #inspiration

Retirement Untethered: Bliss List #5

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5. Balance your money flows. You really have to pin down your potential revenues coming in and what your expenses might be. We spend so much time on revenue generation that we do not spend the same amount of time as to what the future might look like and the potential costs of that.

At some point in time, you are going to want to downsize that house along with your cars. This might correspond with increased medical costs. You might want to move closer to your children so that you can be closer to any potential grandchildren. A decrease in the distance is inversely proportional to the amount of guilt that is produced.



#retirement #inspiration #motivation






Moving at a Glacier Pace

rock-formation-in-winter-near-body-of-water-4042397Moving at a Glacier Pace.

I was looking at some government programs that have been progressing slowly. I almost wrote down in a note that these programs were moving at a glacier pace.

That phrasing no longer seems to work since it implies movement forward. Almost all glaciers are now receding, so we have to come up with another overused expression for slowly moving incrementally forward.

People are only paying a pittance for the recycling costs which does not capture the end to end costs of enjoying microplastic in our lives.

A plastic bottle (polyethylene terephthalate, or PET) returning to nature pace?

PET Biodegrade pace?

Just wondering.

#law #business #inspiration #climatechange #recycling



Retirement Untethered: Bliss list #3

happy senior couple hugging in autumn park
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3. Connect with others, especially your significant other. An important point would be discussing retirement planning with your significant other. You are going to be seeing more of each other. A lot more. And if my spouse were reading this, I would just confirm that it sounds fantastic!

So it would better to be on the same page. After a few months, you might be thinking about exploring the middle of Asia. And your suffering spouse may be beginning to think that sending you there sounds like a good idea.


#retirement #inspiration #motivation



This past winter I was at a conference with my wife. She was in meetings and I was a kept man, so I did the manly thing and struck out on my own without telling anyone.

I left the hotel grounds and followed this one path that went out into the forest and hills. No working smart phone, no water, no food, just a blind sense that this would be fun in some fashion.

After I walked for an unknown period of time, I began to realize that I didn’t know how long I had been walking. The tall trees blocked any sort of orientation view. The snow blocked all of the sounds from any other person. There were no trail makers. I didn’t know how far I had gone or if I would actually end up somewhere. There was no issue about getting lost since all I had to do was turn around and go back. But I had this sense of being in one of those sensory isolation chambers. I didn’t know where I was or where I was going or how long I was away. The passage of time disappeared. If I kept wandering till it was dark, then that would have been a separate issue.

Therein lies some necessity for a list, or a series of steps to tell oneself where one is on the path of self-discovery. If you have never discovered yourself before, how do you know what you might look like?


#motivation #retirement #inspiration



Woman in Grey Jacket Sits on Bed Uses Grey LaptopMost law firms have been lawyering the covida loco these past few months, and partners are encountering fundamental and rapid changes in the practice of law.

One major change has been the “free association” law firm. Previously unthought of, lawyers have been working remotely during this unsettling time. This has brought some profound revelations.

Experience revealed how well this has been working. Although a May 4, 2020 Clio briefing showed a 30-per-cent reduction in legal matters, clients are still coming in, meetings are being conducted, files are being filed, and there has been litigation. Lawyers always seem to do well in times of change. Boom times mean purchases, mergers, and new public offerings. Down times means sales, foreclosures and litigation over lack of disclosure around the public offerings.

The COVID-19 experience has ideally shown us how robust our information systems have been. With just about everyone accessing the network, some calls and meetings may not have proceeded as smoothly as one would have liked; but at least they happened.

A significant downside of the increase in online usage, however, has been a corresponding increase in phishing and other socially engineered attacks. Although your IT department may be marvelling at its impenetrable firewalls, it is always the human element that will continue to be the weak link.

One surprise may be the increase in productivity and billable hours during these past few months. The enterprise software company Aternity’s analysis from Feb. 24 through March 26, using its Remote Work Productivity Tracker, showed a 25-per-cent increase in employee productivity generally. One can assume the reduced commute time has been used as effectively as possible — or perhaps staff have just been working harder to show how well the remote office does work.

Of course, we cannot ignore the potential Hawthorne effect. In 1924, Western Electric in Chicago announced that they would increase the lighting in one of its factories, Hawthorne Works, in order to improve productivity. When the lighting was increased, productivity increased. Eventually other health benefits were provided and productivity increased again, even after the light levels were returned to where they had started.

Researchers then determined that workers were in part responding positively to the increased attention being paid to their workplace, and that listening to the concerns of staff provided the most productivity gains. So just be mindful if productivity gains in the firm show up merely in the short term. Ensuring long-term gains requires, interestingly enough, measuring things for the long term.


Another revelation has been the potential to reduce downtown office space. Law firm accountants may be too quick in counting the possible gains as they contemplate the “new normal” of working at home and reducing office costs. Yet although half of the staff may be enjoying the remote office, the other half are starting to have serious concerns.

Working from home can have a serious impact on staff morale. The isolation and reduced human contact may eventually take its toll on overall productivity. There may be increased turnover as some gravitate back to a more traditional law office with in-person mentorship. Although remote work has always been seen as a perk, many do not see it that way.

Remote work affects corporate culture. This includes the way things get done and how people interact. The culture may persist in the short term as you continue to interact with people that you have known for years. You can apply previous social interactions to flesh out the reduced present ones. However, as more time passes, soon you will be Zooming with people you have never met and may never meet. Pleasantries will continue but deeper working networks may diminish somewhat.

This would become a major concern for legal operations and overall knowledge management. Knowledge can be found throughout the law firm, but a substantial portion of this knowledge is found within the lawyers themselves, and is often gleaned from them by wandering around and sticking a head into another’s office to ask a question. This transfer of knowledge between senior and junior lawyers forms an important portion of each other’s overall development, and this knowledge exchange may be diminished in the present state of remote work.

All this could lead into a greater long-term failing: reduced innovation. Any innovation is the end product of a series of other steps including inspiration, creativity, motivation, entrepreneurship, and finally innovation.

Interacting with others can feed into each one of these steps as we each learn what is happening in the legal field, what has worked and, just as important, what has not. Inspiration can be triggered by seeing other bits and pieces of what others have done, leading to creating something new. Most motivation comes from within, but external motivators are helpful. The same applies to entrepreneurship. However, by the time the firm notices that innovation is declining, it may be severely behind the curve.

A strong argument can therefore be made for retaining some office structure where people may still interact face-to-face in a physically distant but intellectually and emotionally intimate way. This may mean alternating days within the office, and mixing staff around so they get exposed to new ideas and tacit knowledge.

As difficult as it may seem, steps need to be taken to ensure that law firms stay as human as possible.


photo by Pexel

#law #covid

How to help yourself in quarantine: Life hacks of psychologists and therapists — WOMAVES

In a pandemic situation, it is not easy for us all: every day we hear new alarming messages from different countries, the usual rhythm of life changes, many are in forced isolation, which is also not easy to experience – both alone and even with loved ones. We asked psychologists and psychotherapists to tell how […]

via How to help yourself in quarantine: Life hacks of psychologists and therapists — WOMAVES

Narrative Economics

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Stories appear to the center of a person’s thinking and motivation. Robert Shiller’s new book “Narrative Economics quotes some of Sartre’s thoughts on the subject.

“A man is always a teller of stories, he lives surrounded by his own stories and those of other people, he sees everything that happens to him in terms of these stories and he tries to live his life as if he were recounting it.”

This suggests stories can be the most effective way to connect with other people.

#resolution2020 #motivation #management #personaldevelopment