Sunday, April 21, 2019

Quiet Revolution

With a new government comes new priorities, and there will be corresponding changes to the public service. My interests come from twenty-five years of administrative service, experiencing directly the results of shifting party policy. Some changes made us smarter and sharper, others were comical. The challenge for every public worker, no matter where they work in the heirarchy, is to find meaning in their role, often lacking in power to eliminate the ridiculous.

The freshening United Conservative Party will be bustling to make their mark, and in some cases, to reverse the reforms instituted in the past four years. The public service will struggle to keep up.

I've watched with interest in the past four years as the NDP absorbed some agencies back in to public service. Of note, the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency both dissolved  back in to their parent departments in 2016. In addition, four innovative agencies were combined in to one, Alberta Innovates Corporation. With these changes and others, the number of agencies in the past four years was reduced by seven, which would result in a reduction in administrative costs.

I like seeing this sort of cost reduction by reducing complexity. It's a sort of quiet revolution that rarely makes headlines.

The new government has promised to keep a hold on spending,

"Maintain operating spending at current levels as part of a realistic plan to balance the budget by 2022/23 without compromising core services" United Conservatives - Alberta Strong and Free" p. 101, 2019

I will watch with interest if the new party will restrain themselves when tweaking the organization of the public service, if they create or disband any existing agencies, and if they trend towards efficiency and simplicity.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sixty Days of Gratefulness

A new friend challenged me to name sixty things I am grateful for. I missed the deadline but I want my new friend that I was listening, and I do believe her that an exercise like this can change perspective. I’ll add to this blog every day for sixty days to add depth and meaning to the exercise.

Disclaimer: Dear family and friends, this list was put together in an hour of free association and should not be viewed as ranked in any way.

1. My son

Donald and I have been there for each other through thick and thin. Donald has come to terms with a serious mental health diagnosis to carve out a meaningful life. He is a faithful and devoted son and husband. Here Donald came on a walk/bike charity race the spring of 2015.

2. Attentive husband
Here we are at my daughter's wedding last summer. He is likely getting ready to say something outrageous. He never passes an opportunity to get a reaction. What outsiders might miss is that he witnesses all my moods, and, if I spiral in to the dark, he pulls me out with a pat on the back. Whatever project or scheme I have going on, it is all right with him.

3, 4 A loving daughter and a dazzling granddaughter

Here they are at my sons wedding eighteen months ago. Crystal my daughter leads with her heart and everything she does for her family is to make them stronger, confident and more able. Which pretty much sums up what my granddaughter Naomi has become. Who could fail to thrive with ladies like these in your corner?

I am writing this at the cusp of a provincial election while Notre Dame in Paris burns. Life is uncertain. I can count on the certainty of familial love.

5 Wise Father
As a man who thinks far more than he speaks, he makes his words count. I chose a picture from before wisdom, where we all start, full of spit and vinegar.

6 Three Moms
Edith took me bird watching, which taught me the lifetime skill to observe. Life is richer when I see more. Myrna fussed over me to look my best; I still hear her when I pick out my outfit in the morning. And Dawn is full of warmth and care.

7 Back Door Family

A new friend of mine introduced me to the term "back door family", those relations we gain from marriage. Every one of these folks add dimension and character to my life. Clockwise from the top frame, Jeff, Crystal, Naomi, Tim, Maria, Lizzie, Irene, (me), Katja, Christian, Martin, (me; camera hog), Claire, Tammy, and me again.

8 Democracy

Oh, the freedom to live in a country where we can hold our governments accountable. I remember keenly the exhilaration of the 2015 election results, where Albertans, nearly as one, ousted a government that had become a tad too....entitled. No matter what our political stripe, I think nearly all Albertans care to have a government that is humble and attentive. May it live up to our highest hopes.

9 Hand picked fruit

Can the aroma and flavour of hand picked fruit be beat? I swear you can smell the sunshine. It's a biochemical reaction from the ripening of fruits, benzyl acetate amongst others, but can the clinical fully explain the sensation? These are ornamental crab apples that Naomi and I picked for jelly, which made for a gruelling sticky afternoon filled with cheesecloth and hot syrups.

10 Seeds

From a tiny kernel! Glorious, struggling, striving, thriving, reaching. Just a little nurturing and I have shade and sustenance. Seeds are miracle bundles. These bean sprouts were part of a corporate competition back in 2015, spanning offices in two provinces; yet they all produced within hours of each other!

On hiatus for a few days, so I'm playing catch-up.

11. Shelter
12. Siblings
13. Community
14. Universal health care 

This takes a little explaining. Dad refuses photos these days, and has no patience with a society obsessed with recording life's minutae with the world. But I got this pic because dad was laughing at this meal. He'd had a bad kidney number come back and he was immediately rushed to the University of Alberta emergency, during a long weekend, and the Kidney specialist had been called in for an expert opinion. Dad had spent an uncomfortable night in the emergency ward. They'd taken away all his medication, including his Metformin.

For a Type 2 diabetic well habituated to routine, this breakfast is sad. Tea. Dry toast. A packet of saltines, and a packet of sugar. When dad asked if he might have something for his toast, the nurse rushed out and brought back a packet of jam. Absolutely no protein to help balance his blood sugars, and two packets of "poison" besides.

The kidney expert explained it all when he came in, and it turned out that was the last night dad was on Metformin. He's been on insulin ever since. I think dad spent about a week in the hospital getting this all sorted, and then it was home with no change other than the medication.