Covert Ottawa Weekly Newsletter: Oktoberfest Edition

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening! What a great warm weekend we had! Who says summer is over? I’m hoping that we’ve got a good couple of months of warmer weather ahead of us, but just in case, let’s enjoy what we have left this week.  Although, maybe a solid month of really cold weather would be helpful, since it tends to incline us to hibernate, and a lack of contact with others may just be what we need to fight off this pandemic. In that sense, the warm weather doesn’t appear to be doing much for us: there are still many big groups of people getting together, infecting each other and ultimately their families. Some people still just aren’t getting the fact that we are in a pandemic. I guess you can’t beat stupid….except maybe with a stick. 😊

Planet Ice: Mysteries of the Ice Ages

The Museum of Nature is kicking off a new exhibit called Planet Ice: Mysteries of the Ice Ages. This international touring exhibit opens to the public on October 2nd and can be seen here in Ottawa until January 3rd, 2021.

 

 

The Exhibit features a historical journey through time, from the creation of the planet in “deep time” to the present, with a feature of each of the amazing creatures that were alive in each era.

“Explore the power of ice and cold in shaping the world we live in today. We are still living in an age ice, but the planet is changing. In this journey across 80,000 years of Earth’s history, meet animals adapted for cold—some long extinct (mammoth, giant beaver), others still alive today (caribou, musk oxen). Discover the lands lost long ago under the world’s oceans. All this is presented through 120 specimens, artifacts and models, which are complemented by interactives and multimedia.” – Media Release

 

 

Tickets for this exhibit are only $8 for adults and $6 for students, kids, and seniors. General admission for the remainder of the museum must be purchased also. Tickets can be purchased at this link.

Virtual Concerts

I’m not sure how popular virtual concerts are right now in Ottawa, but this is a particularly busy week for them. The quality of acts seems to cycle from what I’ve noticed. Early in the pandemic, many major bands were doing online concerts, while over the summer, I noticed that the quantity trailed off somewhat. But it seems to be picking up again. Here’s what you can find this week online:

Monday, Sept 28thTrevor Finlay

Wednesday, Sept 30th  – Awolnation, Plain White T’s, Sam Roberts

Friday, October 2ndVance Joy (3 shows), Alan Doyle

Saturday, October 3rdTrevor Finlay, Pitbull

Oktoberfest

This past weekend would have been Beau’s Oktoberfest, one of my favourite events each year. I’m there over four days (even though it’s only on for two) and I’m sad to have to miss it this year. My first experience camping there was two years ago, when tornados hit the Ottawa area. Despite being cold, rainy and windy (making camping tricky), I still fun! Last year, we had amazing weather, and this year would have been perfect too. Stupid COVID. With that event cancelled this year, and presumably the Barrhaven Oktoberfest as well, Orleans Brewing Company (OBC) has picked up the ball and is running with a smaller version of Oktoberfest, taking place this Saturday, October 3rd.

 

 

Your $30 ticket gets you a collectable etched stein, a pint of OKTOBERFEST Festibier, live entertainment, games, prizes and draws! Drinks will be provided by OBC, Broadhead Brewing Company, and Stray Dog Brewing Company. Food can be purchased onsite. Buy your tickets, and get full details on the OBC website.

Bits and Bytes

This is my random story and features section. These topics don’t necessarily have anything to do with Ottawa. It could include stories about current news issues, sports, funny videos, and/or perhaps just random things that I’ve discovered over the previous week. I hope you enjoy!

Technology

We can all see how technology is taking on an increasing role in our lives, there’s no denying it. We rely on our devices each day to tell us what the weather is going to be, what the latest news is, how many COVID cases are in our city, what our friends did last night, and likely a hundred other bits of information through various apps. Another thing that has been increasing in our daily lives is stress. These are not unrelated. Numerous studies have shown that our use of electronics, particularly social media, has increased our stress levels dramatically. The problem is compounded, because social media platforms understand our reliance on this media, and make changes that encourage us to spend more time on their apps.

Take Instagram for example, I’ve recently learned that the “likes” are not necessarily timed for when people actually “like” what you’ve posted. On occasion (determined how, I don’t know) they are delayed intentionally to build a larger quantity, to be more meaningful when the user checks. Think about when you post a fantastic photo of your cat sitting in a box, and you’re sure it’s the most unique and adorable cat picture on Instagram. You’re just waiting for the little hearts to come pouring in….but there are none. So you close the app in disgust, thinking that there’s something wrong with the world (after closely checking to make sure you spelled #catsofinstagram correctly). Then after a few minutes of stewing over why this could be, you check again, and still nothing. Finally, after another 10 grueling minutes of waiting, you do a third check and boom, 50 likes, 6 comments, and a follow request from @SparklesFromMemphis; you’ve achieved your goal! Instagram has programmed this intentionally to make sure you keep coming back to look over and over again. Now that you’ve seen all this activity, you’ll keep checking your other posts out of eager anticipation.

 

 

Back to my point….while waiting for this engagement, your stress level may have gone up. My example is silly, but what if you posted something serious that you were either excited or perturbed about and it doesn’t get the attention you think it deserves. You stress. Or, on the flip side, people post things slightly ambiguously that may imply a message that you think you understand, and it may adversely affect you, and perhaps even upset you. This can stress you out too. “Vague-booking” is way too common, and it creates all kinds of issues, because it allows for misunderstanding and assumptions to be made, often in error. Stress from technology, though, is not limited to social media. You may also experience times whem you’re working on your thesis, or trying to get that TPS report done and your phone keeps binging, chirping, vibrating and singing to you, providing you with “essential” notifications from your apps. It’s distracting, it’s annoying, and you can’t NOT look.

So what can you do? Shut it down. It’s that simple. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately about this kind of stuff. And it’s unanimous that the solution is simple: shut it down, turn it off and get away from it. More and more mental health experts are saying that we need a vacation from social media. You can read about this in an increasing number of publications. Few of us can do this though. I for one have a very hard time with this, because I run COG which relies on social media engagement. But here are a few easy steps to follow if you’re in a similar situation. Each of these are things that I have personally done, and feel have been beneficial:

  • Purge your friends list on Facebook. Create a rule that if you haven’t communicated with a person virtually in 1 or 2 years, and/or in person in 5-10, remove them. You can set your own parameters, but be tough. If you don’t know who they are…gone. If it’s someone you know ONLY through an activity that you no longer do….gone. It it’s someone who you know through another person, but only through them….gone. I cut my friends list in half recently, and limited it only to family, close friends, networking contacts, and people that I’ve actually communicated with over the past year. That’s it.

  • Shut off your notifications. Nothing is so important on social media that my real life should take a back seat to it. This also includes any other apps, as most apps have notifications now. Do you need to know what the weather is every couple of hours? Do you really need to know the change in score for the Columbus Blue Jackets game? What about a new special on Wish.com? Turn it all off.

  • Try to avoid anything serious or controversial on social media. There are plenty of people who get worked up over anything, particularly topical events. If you post something about defunding the police, QANON, anti-vaxxers, politics….etc, expect there to be commentors that disagree with you, and expect a debate or fight. Stay away from these types of topics if you are trying to decrease your stress levels. I don’t talk about this stuff much on my blogs for that very reason. I try to keep things light and happy.

  • Try and set an informal schedule to look at social media and limit the number of times you open each app. Despite my situation being a little bit different because of COG, the concept still applies. I suggest that you move icons away from your primary screen so that you don’t see them every time your phone is open. Additionally, there are apps that you can download that restrict your time on social media, including Offtime, Moment, Flipd or Cold Turkey. If you’re interested in learning more about these, take a look at this article posted on “Reviewed”.

For a funny/interesting article about our reliance on technology (not just social media), may I suggest this read from Wired Magazine. Although exaggerated, it definitely describes many of our lives.

https://www.wired.com/story/how-work-became-an-inescapable-hellhole/

COVID-19

Yeah, I’m talking about it again; I know, I’m sorry. I just needed a segue into a great video that I came across. But first, I’m sure you’ve heard about the changes across Ontario this past week. Things are going to keep changing until we’ve got this thing beat.

This past week was a big one for Coronavirus news. The US surpassed 200,000 deaths, Canada, and Europe have been officially declared as being into the second wave, Israel has shuttered their doors for next three weeks, and here in Ontario (along with many other locations), some elements of re-opening have been reversed, with gathering sizes being reduced once again as case numbers begin to climb again. The trend is clear and world governments are reacting. Meanwhile, in Japan:

 

That’s it for me for the week. I want to thank some of my readers for the kind words and feedback that I’ve been receiving over the past few weeks. I love getting messages from you, and reply as quickly as possible. It makes me happy to know that people read this blog and are enjoying what they read. Any suggestions are taken into account, and I make sure to address them in future newsletters. Please share this weekly newsletter with your friends and subscribe at the bottom of the page.

Have a great week, stay healthy, and be kind to one another!

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