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Monday, July 31, 2006

Juxtapositions

I love the late night news. Catching up on all the happenings of the day that was is always a nice way to end a day, in my books.

But today there were two stories juxtaposed that had me thinking. The first was the Supreme Court ruling that said that non-custodial parents paying child support (let's face it, men mainly) had to disclose any raises in income to the custodial parent (um, that would be women mainly) and then increase child support accordingly. Sounds logical to me - after all, they are still your children and shouldn't they be the beneficiaries of your career achievements too? But one man let the reality as many men see it slip. He actually posed the question how could they be sure that the women - er, he means the non-custodial parent - were spending that extra money on the children? Wow. He's right, you know. Maybe all those women are spending it on rent, or fat-free food, or heating, or car payments to get the kids - your kids - to soccer. Unbelievable.

The next story was one on the declining birth rate in Canada, and the fact that the average age of a Canadian woman giving birth is edging up to near 30.

The two stories can't be connected - or can they???

Opinions, please.

Monday, July 24, 2006

One Million Stars ...

Tonight is the night. In about 5 minutes, the one-millionth Calgarian will be welcomed into this world at one of our three hospitals (three hospitals for one million people? Don't get me started ....)

When I arrived in 1994, Calgary had a mere 750,000. That was a nice size. I liked it back then. Oh, and we had one more hospital then too (but it was blown up - by the Government .... really ...) I heard on the news that from April 2005 to April 2006 alone, 35,000 people moved to Calgary. That's a small town. Heck, isn't that the population of PEI??? Would someone please check to see if anyone is left on that island?? Or did they vote everyone off? (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

So I suppose it's no wonder there's a housing boom on - housing is a precious commodity in a high demand market. Officials are actually warning people not to come to Calgary unless you have both a job AND accommodation in place. Wow. So this is a boom economy.

And still we need more infrastructure - you know roads and overpasses and all that (not hospitals, that would make too much sense.) Calgary continues to gobble up vast areas of land surrounding it. Development, expanse and growth are the norm. More, more, better, better.

Shame my bank account isn't expanding at the same rate. Methinks I really don't understand booms at all.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Universe is Wacky - Part the Second

So I have been a bit down recently. The universe took note. On Friday, an old university residence friend invited me over to her place for dinner, where I was the surprise guest for two of our other friends who were in town visiting. Old home week, indeed. And attempts at reminiscing - well, it was over 20 years ago ... we even phoned a fourth woman who couldn't make it, but was there with us in spirit!

It was lovely to see them, even more so as they reminded me that as their "Floor rep", I was the one who got them into trouble, but I could always be counted on to get them out of trouble too. That's nice to hear. They were my girls, and we had fun and frivolity (and a LOT of beer) together.

We started talking about another of my friends that night - one who was a dear soul, but with whom I had sadly lost contact. As I thought about it, I wondered how I might try to get in touch. Turns out all you really have to do is sit back and let the universe do the work.

Tonight - out of the blue - an email arrived from her in my inbox.

I was stunned. That's a LOT of people from my past who have returned to me this year, and I intend to steward our friendships. I recently told another friend that there are ebbs and flows to any friendship, and this is proof positive of that. There is a reason for all this, I am sure. I don't know what it is yet, but I'll continue to seek the answers. Because really, it's the journey - and who accompanies you on that journey - that matters.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Boom Times

For those who don't know it, Calgary is booming. House prices are skyrocketing, and if you don't have a place to rent, good luck finding one with the very low vacancy rate. Inflation is high, but people don't seem to care as the oil is flowing and the money along with it.

There are a couple of problems attached to this boom though. It is almost a super-heated economy, and definitely a worker-centred one. This means many small businesses have problems finding staff and paying them enough to keep them. Stories abound of stores having to close mid-day because they just can't find the staff.

It also leads to staff becoming less than reliable. Want a day off? Take one. If they fire you, there's plenty more that will hire you. This seems especially pronounced with the generation known as the Echo Boomers. Not to paint them all with one brush, but there seem to be more than a couple out there who fit the stereotype.

My generation (Jones, remember?) is an interesting one. We haven't really seen a true boom economy. I'm fairly lost in all this - only seen inflation, recessions and jobless recoveries in the past. So dearth and a standpoint of scarcity, not abundance, is what I have always known. Rampant inflation and wage and price controls in the 70s, not to mention an oil crisis. Stock market panic and recession in the 80s. Rumours of a dotcom boom, but nothing tangible in the 90s. (In fact, I spent the early 90s in the UK, where inflation was again running rampant.) Twenty-first century starts well, but 9/11 changes all that.

I feel as if everyone around me is making wildly outrageous sums of money, while I sit idly by on the sidelines quietly counting and saving my money, just in case. There are some who are with me, saying, "Just you wait. We've seen boom times before... and bust times." There's even a bumper sticker sold here in Calgary that reads, "Please Lord, let me have another oil boom and I promise not to piss it away this time."

As another Stampede season looms, I have a feeling there will be a fair amount of pissing away going on in Cowtown over the next 10 days.

Wonder where can I buy one of those bumper stickers?