Dear Government of Canada…

Dear Government of Canada,

I know these are strange times. And I know that you have your hands very full right now. And, personally, it seems to me that you’re doing a damned fine job of dealing with the hand that was dealt – certainly as good as anyone’s government. And I know that, when you make a decision or a recommendation, you can’t consider all exceptions and examples … but here’s the thing…

Lately you’ve made one or two recommendations that, in my opinion, aren’t necessarily the smartest – but let me explain.

My mom, who’ll turn 80 later this year, lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. She’s in great shape, so she spends a lot of her time visiting her children and grandchildren. I live in Denmark, and my two sisters live on opposite ends of the United States.

Back before the COVID-19 pandemic even had a name of its own (we still non-specifically called it “the Corona virus” in those days…), Mom flew to the States to visit my sisters. Then, the world exploded.

Fast-forward to now and you’re telling her that she should get on a plane and fly from Los Angeles to St. John’s just in case she contracts the virus. That way, if she does, she’ll be in Canada.

However, right now, she’s self-isolating in a house in Los Angeles with my sister and her family, where she’s probably in a much better position to avoid getting sick than if she sits in airplanes and traipses through airports for a day, trying to get across the continent.

So, basically you’re recommending that she should increase her risk of getting sick, just in case she gets sick…

Now, I’m no epidemiological expert, but it seems to me that this is neither logical nor just plain common sense… except if you’re only thinking financially…

Luckily, she happened to buy her travel insurance with a company who is honourable enough to cover her to the end of the contract (thanks again, Desjardins!), instead of weaselling out on the deal like a lot of other insurance companies…

However, this will only get her to the end of April. And, based on how things are looking right now in Italy, that won’t be long enough to improve the odds much.

She could extend her policy, but her coverage will exclude any COVID-19 related illness. Similarly, no insurance company will cover her for COVID-19 if she takes out an insurance policy now…

So, it seems to me that the smartest thing for her to do is to stay where she is – to avoid getting sick.

However, if you say she must come home, she’s trapped between a rock and a hard place – stay safe without insurance, or go home to get the pre-paid health care? Decisions, decisions.

Not only that, but I read on the news that she’s not the only one…

… So apparently, there are lots of Canadian senior citizens outside of Canada who are in exactly the same situation, faced with exactly the same dilemma.

So, I’d like to make a suggestion:

Instead of recommending to Canadian citizens abroad that they should (or, seeing not very far into the future, must) come home, why not tell them to stay safe by staying-put – and tell the insurance companies that they have to extend the policies until the dust has settled? Maybe you could offer to cover the insurance companies with an insurance policy of your own…My guess is that, in the end, if the people out there are as scared as the rest of us, they’ll protect themselves, stay healthier, and wind up saving everyone money – and keeping more hospital beds free for the people that will need them.

Thanks!
-geoff martin

Leon Theremin and RFID

There was an article in the BBC News webpage this week, telling the story of how Leon Theremin (inventor of one of the first electronic musical instruments) invented the technology underneath what we now call RFID…

Of course, this means that every time I swipe my card to buy something at the store, I’m going to start humming the hook from”Good Vibrations”… Maybe knowledge is not always a good thing… Or maybe I should get out my Clara Rockmore album and have another listen.