Uncertainty. Change. Fear. Crisis.

Is this the new normal?

Just as we’re emerging from one crisis—at least, it seems like things are getting back to near normal from our covid hiatus, a new one strikes.

The world holds its collective breath, wondering whether we’re on the brink of war. Things are changing so rapidly that this post may be half irrelevant by the time it’s published. As I write, talks are occurring between Russia and Ukraine, talks that no one expects will succeed.

It appears that Putin badly misjudged the strength of the Ukrainian resistance, the will of the Ukrainian people in coalescing around their president, and the swift, united and strong response of the world community. The Russian economy is already falling apart.

Six days ago, I didn’t know much of what was happening in those parts. As the Russians were crossing the Ukrainian border, I was getting ready to board a plane in Mexico (see last week’s post), and was dealing with my own uncertainties and mini crisis.

Thankfully, my PCR test had returned a negative result. But now my ArriveCan app wasn’t working. After ten or fifteen tries, and a rigorous online search, I found online tech support.

My email was answered (suggesting there may be considerable precedent; indeed the online reviews would substantiate that)! A few emails back-and-forth got the message through to the right person, who eventually called me just as I was in the check-in line at the airport, and left a message. Through Security and into the boarding lounge, I called back.

Admitting that the App was “spotty” in some locations, this being one of them, my helpful support person found a work-around for me, and we got it done.

Of course, I was “randomly” selected on arrival, as were most of the passengers, for a further PCR test of the take-home variety. An onerous process, to be sure—and again, technology failed but we found a work-around–but we (me and the witness) got it done Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, Russian troops advance into Ukraine, the news channels tossing the two-year-old covid story to give wall-to-wall coverage of the ominous events. By now most of us not only know where Ukraine is, we could draw its map. We know the colours of its flag. We could locate the countries surrounding it. We know more about NATO than we ever thought we would. We’ve learned that Canada has the second largest ex-pat Ukrainian community in the world. We know what Medvedev and Ovechkin think about the invasion (as if that matters). We’ve heard about demonstrations in the streets, both in Russia and around the world. We’ve sympathized with the Ukrainian people and admired their resolve.

I awoke Friday, checked my emails and, alas, learned of a positive PCR result. Really! After getting a negative result just a few days previous!

The emails and phone calls started pouring in, making sure that I knew what the quarantine rules were, and making sure I knew that the ten-day federal quarantine period trumped the five-day provincial mandate. And that I would be contacted by Health Canada to ensure I was following the rules. And that it was the law that I answer that call. And that I might be visited by the covid police (a friend of mine actually was.) And that I knew of the fines and imprisonment possibilities if I break the rules.

Friday was mostly about re-jigging my life. I’d had a lot planned for this week; after all, besides having to catch up from being gone for almost two weeks, it’s also month-end during these ten days, which always carries extra responsibilities for a businessperson. Plus, I had a medical procedure scheduled during this time (which will go ahead, as it is a qualified exception to the quarantine rules.)

Oh well, at least I have extra time to take in that Ukraine coverage–and build my nuclear fallout shelter. Happily, I have no covid symptoms, so am in no way hampered in such activities, so long as I can do them from the confines of my suite.

Sunday (Day 5), Health Canada called, as promised, wondering how I was doing. No symptoms, I assured the nurse. Well then, she said, I’m free to end the quarantine at the end of the day.

What? All the rules are suddenly out the door? I can reverse the rejigged plans already made?

Talk about confusion! But, at least, this time, in my favour.

Crises big and small. Individual and collective. Definite times of uncertainty. You likely have your own uncertainties, too, be it covid related issues, the housing market, economic uncertainties, or even tax filing season.

The Ukraine coverage, though, has me fascinated while also a little worried for the future of our planet. Putin seems unstable and determined, has threatened nuclear involvement and, the pundits tell us, will never give up because, if he fails in this, his run as Russia’s president is over.

I wasn’t around back then, but this sure smacks to me of the build-up to World War 2.

But there is a difference: the role of cyber-space. Witness the immediate knowledge and eye-witness coverage of the events around the world. Witness the immediate damage done to the Russian economy by the expulsion of their banks from SWIFT (the Ruble dropped to record lows and interest rates doubled to 20%). Witness the information and misinformation that is immediately distributed. Witness the Russian government’s inability to control that, despite its best efforts.

This may end up primarily a cyber war. And that may yet help to save us from the same result.

At least, that’s how I see it. . .