Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Benign Indifference of the Universe

Several days ago, in The Globe and Mail, I read about a man who was loved by a great number of people, a well known physician. They stated in his obituary that he had "finally surrendered himself to the benign indifference of the universe". I found it so incredible that life can be thought of in such terms... what is benign indifference... and then to add "of the universe".

Then as I read Dan Brown's new novel "The Lost Symbol" this week, I can across the line "Langdon realized his true insignificance in the universe" (Page 381). So we have fast forwarded to a contemporary writer and his star character is saying how insignificant an individual is in the universe.

Many years ago, when I was in an English class in Grade 12, we had to study the writer John Donne.
I read a passage of his that included the poetry that he became most famous for and became my favorite verse::
." No man is an island. entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me
because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee."

So if I understand John Donne properly, he was establishing, at least in his time, that each and every death should be looked upon as significant. So what has changed... Hummmmm? Is it for the better? I think not.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Visiting the Grapes of Niagara

It was a little chilly today, some of the puddles were ice-covered, so we went to look at the vineyards to see if they would be picking grapes for Late Harvest Wines or Icewine... still not cold enough... here are a few pics of our neighboring vineyard... Inniskillen...

It was a little surprising to see the grapes still as lush as they are... we think it will be a vintage year for late harvest and icevine. These vineyards are near to us... in fact, they are across the street from our chiropractor and acupuncturists home. Here they make award winning wines, but at this time of year, we are looking for the day the temperature will drop to -8C... when the grapes are at their peak for picking.

The netting is to keep the millions of migrating birds from attacking the grapes which are at their sweetest point now. The vintners also use different tools to frighten the birds away from the vines... the sound of shot-guns, recordings of birds in trouble and so on.

Inniskillin has a wonderful video that I would recommend linking to from below... it starts with video of the falls in winter... these pics are from about 15km from here... then along the Niagara River, looking over at the towns of Lewiston and Youngstown in New York State... then to the area here in Niagara-on-the-Lake. In these pictures, you can see the amazing quantity of grapes... there are over 30,000 acres of vineyard in this area which is known for its Rieslings, but makes some darn good Chardonnay and a myriad of red wines. Below is the vidoe link... hope you enjoy it. There are 21 wineries here in town... many with restaurants, all with tasting bars that you can walk or cycle to on a weekend...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The 11th Hour...

Poppy Day...

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month of each year... little changes, except the faces... they age. But they know so much about things we can't imagine... and we should be thankful that they do. For their knowing, perhaps we don't need to... but we should...

An older veteran was sitting by Lynnda and me near the Cenotaph here in Niagara-on-the-Lake... he was remembering something, his eyes closed, his lips trembling... Lynnda noticed a young punk near-by mimicking him and joking with friends about it; she walked over and told him to have more respect... I sense he got the message, since she was in his face. I thought, some don't want to learn... in fact, they don't know what they don't know... and ignorance is bliss.

Tears ran down my face when the choir sang Abide with Me... and two young girls read the poem... In Flanders Fields... it goes like this...

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

One should look at that date, and wonder what Dr. McCrae was thinking as he passed on...

"If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep"

I fear we have, and so I weep...

Boom, the first concussion seemed very loud. I have heard that sound before, I thought… in Ohio, Wisconsin, Nova Scotia… it is the first of November, so the deer hunting season is upon us. Relax…

Bang, bang…there was the noise, again! It seemed closer! Now my mind started moving a little faster through my memory banks… fairly close, several shots in succession… either the hunter is a poor shot, or there are several deer… or someone is killing people… what now?

Boom, bang and more concussions… in fact, in the minutes after I had waken there seemed to be a non-stop series of shots… an attack; they were coming from all around us… have we bought a home near a military firing-range; it isn’t deer hunting, it is duck season… and it would continue unabated for the day, only to die off near night-fall.

All the while, we opened boxes, wondering what the noise was that seemed to be everywhere in this village. Since we seemed totally safe, we reconsidered our testimony. Since its a historic place we have chosen to relocate to, perhaps there are military re-enactments… I will check in the morning…we are safe now, the shooting has stopped.

We decided to have our first dinner in Niagara-on-the-Lake in a quaint restaurant in Old Town. After dinner, we ordered some late-harvest wine for which the Niagara Region is famous. As we sipped our wine, we enquired about the shooting…

With a knowing smile, the answer came back that without the booms and bangs, we couldn’t be drinking our late-harvest or ice-vine wine… the noise was all about scaring off the starlings that would be trying to eat the grapes as they sweeten. There were no shots at all!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Building the Duk Padiet School, Brick-by-Brick

Hope... it goes beyond the next day's sailing prospects... it is the basis of making this world a better place, for everyone.
There is hope at
This is part of the story of Southern Sudan... and what is happening there. I am hoping to interest my friends and others in learning about Africa... and why we should be more than simply 'interested'.

Several weeks ago, Lynnda and I were working on our foundation's 2009 donations. One of our board members, after we had chosen one of the groups to support, said "now, what do you want to do with the rest". Lynnda replied... "I just want to buy goats for kids in Africa". We kinda chuckled together, and really didn't think much more about it. Lynnda and I had discussed various personal Christmas Gifts last year, and again this... settling on clean-water wells and goats for African families... but the Foundation, that is different and we had not considered it.

After the meeting, Lynnda and I had about two hours to kill, so we headed over to Saint Mary's University, my alma mater. We decided to drop in on Pat Bishara who is responsible for securing donations to the university. We have worked with Pat on several projects, mostly around the Chard - Hutton Foundation.

We asked Pat what she was working on... there was a pile of paper on her desk... and she said it was a special thing she was helping a student with... a book that was being published about Southern Sudan, Africa. Well, that is enough to tweek one's interest...

Turns out, a student named Jacob Deng had transferred in to SMU from Acadia University. Jacob is from Southern Sudan... a town named Duk Padiet which is in a Christian area of Sudan... via countless refugee camps and the impossible... Jacob had earned a full ride to our university. A different route... he had been driven from his village as a child, when his parents and several siblings were murdered, along with other family and tribe members... by insurgent troops... looking to dominate the Christians and the geography... because there is a lot of undeveloped oil in the ground in Southern Sudan.

A few years ago, Jacob decided that he wanted to help his homeland improve from the destitute status the people were living with today. He started a Society called Wadeng Wings of Hope. He started getting donations that would be used to buy goats for the people left in his village. He has done that for several years now... a few hundred in total. Goats provide high protein milk for the families... from the scrub land that is not yet developed.

Then the society started working on a project... to educate the children of the village and surrounding area. They don't have schools there today... but one day, Jacob wants to build one, teach in it, and run the courses through high school, so that the children can follow his foot prints, through university.

This year we are supporting the purchase of 50 more goats... and materials for the women of the village to sew into clothing for the children. We will also be helping Jacob with his project to build and run a school ... it is called the Duk Padiet School Project... Building Hope, Brick by Brick.

Next year... well, we will cross each bridge as they come... but surly it will and we will. It has already been an amazing story... to have Pat introduce us to the 'Goat Guy', just a few moments after Lynnda's comment that she just wanted to buy goats... there have to be more bridges... like the one Pat has shown us

It is a big project... hope you will have a look at the web site... and wonder if you too will help in the future...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

50% of all healthcare costs occur in the last twelve months of the patient's life.

Several years ago, I was at a medical conference in the USA where a speaker stated that 50% of all healthcare costs occur in the last twelve months of the patient's life. In the USA and Canada, this means that approximately a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000.00) could be saved in the first year we decide to allow these people to die at their natural "time".

That is a rather stark fact! I suppose there are those who would argue the facts, and perhaps we could probably give up six of those months... what ever... and only save $500,000,000,000. Why are we not even discussing things like this... instead of fighting about healthcare reform?

There is a light at the end of the tunnel... it is better known as "enlightenment". We need to discuss the most effective ways to save the system money, instead of trying to bandage a "broke (en)" system. Let's have a debate about the difference between prolonging life, and prolonging death... and the difference.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Travels To Ontario

Starting a trip that I have made countless times since the first, when I was about 16yo, from Nova Scotia to Ontario... I have done it on my thumb (can't do that any more), by train and plane, and by car... it has taken me as few as 18 hours and as long as six days (that's the thumb)... this time it was the better part of three days to travel the 1,260 or so miles. It turned out to be a great trip.

This picture is at the start, two kayaks up, three bikes on, five pair of skies in and a pair of five wheeled roller blades... not to mention the crash kit, luggage, treats and me. Now I only need a dog and I will be happy! For the trip that is, I can't be long without Lynnda, eh!

I was on my way to close the deal on our new home in Niagara-on-the-Lake... but had plans on the way... stop and see my cousin in Truro (check, had lunch with Leigh Ann Hyndman); stop in Amherst to visit with Donnie and Karen Cormier (check, they are doing very well, as is their business); stay with my long time friend Yvon Turcotte for a night (check, he and his Yorkies Winnie and Tweety are doing great in their home on the St. Lawrence near to Montreal); stop and meet Evan Friedman at Intronix in Bolton, Ontario (check, what a neat little company that is looking for distribution and partners in the USA and around the world) and then visit with my great friends David and Shirley Kuehner in Meaford, Ontario (check, we stored my gear in their barn, walked the 100+ acres of spectacular farmland and had a great tongue wag over some great Shirley's cooking and libation)... these interesting sunset pics were from the first night out...

I had been travelling through a rain and heavy wind storm when the clouds began to break-up. The first inkling of good weather (turned out to be fools gold) I decided to occupy my hands with the camera and get a picture of what was a promising addition to my sunset collection...

Soon I had to pull over and catch some keepers... the first with the flash on from the side of the highway... I could drive for miles here in Northern New Brunswick without worrying about traffic...

This pair is a Portrait format below, and a Google reformating of a great Landscape shot that will be in my library, on the top. Why in the... did they ever reformat it? Nothing I can do in Blogspot land about it, so I just have to complain here...

On the trip it was inevitable that I would run into some traffic. It started in Quebec, and I shot this relativelly complex pic (below the sunsets) with blue skies, mirror reflection, still and moving sections, all in focus.

Anyone who has driven into Ontario on the 401 will recognize the next photo, when coming to the first of several exits to Kingston. The layers of white/grey stone are spectacular. When the 401 was carved out of the granite, they didn't anticipate the need to one day have more than four lanes... so the over-passes are concrete and ready for... ever! But one day they will have to be ready for the floods of traffic that are already a mainstay of the days on the 401 west of there, as one approaches the Big Smoke.
Still, it is always exciting, after a thousand miles, to consider how to reach out of the Jeep and in to the back gate of a Labatt Blue... it is in fact "The Good Stuff" for many,

but a more true representative of our beers might, I say might, be Molson's Canadian... the former is ironically made in Ontario and the later in Quebec... go figure that the guys 'making' beers got their names mixed up, English to French. No wonder the guys drinking them can't tell...

After a while it became necessary to start getting serious about driving... after all, the two kayaks up were giving me new dynamics to deal with when these guys started ganging up on me. They pretty much had me penned in here... but I emerged unscathed... I simply jammed on my breaks, made them jack around me, and I floored it into the far left lane, going for the smooth air in the lead... right...

Well, here we are in on the outskirts of Toronto... still the 401, but now 14 lanes wide... concentrate! All I have to do is keep those two lines somewhere to the right of center... wow, what a pretty sky.

Breaking free of Toronto, and headed north on HWY 50... the sun is going down on me... and the kayaks are racing with me. It is close, this is like a photo finish, the Jeep wins by a nose... I am getting close to Dave and Shirley's and I can taste a cold one... Look at those farm fields... I must have just missed that bike in the mirror...

That sun is really getting down... it kinda looks like there is a guy up there paddling hard to pass me... still nice fields, but harvested.

This is close to last light before sunset... those horse tails mean a windy day to come... but it did break beautiful in the morning, as I pulled away from Kuehner's farm and down the hill into Meaford... and toward the reunion (if we are allowed to call it that) in Muskoka.

I will arrive there in time to meet Ross at the marina, with my two bottles of Nova Scotia wine, and a case of Alpine Lager.

I am thinking ahead to the tenth gathering of these guys who were the mainstay of Camp Pinecrest in the later 60's and early 70's. I missed last year, so it will be great to see everyone. This is the 40th Anniversary of a great year that we had in Muskoka together (along with about 800 other campers.

Camp is down that highway, across the Georgian Bay (I will ahve to drive around the Bay for about two hours to get to where I am to meet Ross... but it gives me time to think of the lies and tales I will hear and tell this year. They get larger with the anniversary, and next year we will have a three day celebration of the first century for Camp Pinecrest.

A few pics from Go Home Lake, 2009

Aside from one picture being duplicated, and due to the large file sizes I can't be bothered reloading these in order to get ride of one, there is an interesting thing happening to all these guys... we have either no hair or is is grey... what's with that?

These were taken mid-Sunday as we were contemplating the trips home... using slightly adjusted brains, after the banquet setting and long day past, we are looking rather serious.

Well, what about the Bala Bay Lodge in June, 2010. Who can get there with a spouse? Will it take a serious shopping side trip to get them there? What about the 40 year old stories that are bound to float at the celebration on Saturday? Will there be a concert at the Key-to-Bala on Friday night? Will we have a Sunday program... or should it be "on your own"?

Pinecrest 69ers Reunion... 2009

When one remembers Muskoka, I am certain the adjective, 'beautiful', comes to mind in every aspect. For me it is the colors of the trees, mosses, lichens, and granite; the clear, lake and river waters; and the people I have met there over the past 40+ years. This picture to the left is basically the front lawn (if I can call it that) and trees of the McKerron, Go Home Lake cottage in Muskoka. In many ways it reminds me of the Musquodoboit Valley and River near here in Nova Scotia... I often wonder if the "Musk/Musq" part of each name came through the native First Nation Peoples as they tried to best describe both areas in naming them.

This location is just a kilometer or so from a portage to the Georgian Bay, part of the Great Lake, Huron.

This is a beautiful location, accessible only by boat in the summer... snow mobile over ice-bridges in the winter... or long hikes is a great place to have a reunion.

Ross McKerron hosts our meet each September. This was the tenth time the various attendees have gotten together, and represents the 40th Anniversary of the year (1969) that we all worked at Camp Pinecrest.

The group, usually numbering around 20 come from around Ontario, and a few drop in from afar, each year. The picture, above is from the cottage to the wharfs... as is obvious, the weather curtailed the canoeing this year... or maybe it is the aging of the

population! There were few of us that made Morning Dip this year... and I was not one of them.

One of the treats that Ross had in store for us this year was an acquisition he had recently made of a 1906 vintage, hand made, cedar strip canoe... what a beautiful float, demonstrated here by Barney Morehouse who was a senior guide for Pinecrest in the 60's and is now a nature writer living in the Northern Ontario region.

To the left in this picture is Ross, wearing his 2005 PGA shirt... he is summer torn between the past and the present... canoeing and golf. Interesting that the PGA was held at Pinehurst #2 Course... I guess that's almost Pinecrest.

Great weekend Ross, thanx!

Our plans for 2010, the 100th Anniversary of the opening of Camp Pinecrest, a 640 acre base camp near Bala, Muskoka, Ontario include the 1969 team renting the entire Bala Bay Inn, and other celebratory functions... I understand that there will be shopping for the spouses as we returning staff tell lies and ever longer stories of our best years... on the water!

Getting to Niagara-on-the-Lake

There were a lot of reasons for buying the particular home we did... the one at 96 Paffard Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake. But if we were to name one, it would be the existing gardens and the potential we have on the property. There are fourteen Japanese Maples along with many other beauties too numerous to count... but include maple, beech, cedar, juniper, red bud, elm, and several we have never seen. There is also a 5.5 foot deep pond with a giant filtration system that will allow koi to live... along with others. The house is on the south side of the street, and when you look south from the mid-point, you can see here, the view past a large silver maple to the pond. There is a lot of statuary, stone supported gardens (most of which will change from formal boxwood defined to Lynnda's favored English Perennial gardens in the coming years.

The owner that designed the gardens several years ago was originally from Madagascar, off Africa, and he knew what he wanted... privacy and peace... he hand built eight foot cedar fencing, cutting each strip of cedar webbing with a saw over a couple of summers.

His design of the koi pond is right from a 1995 book which was left with the house... making it easy for us to assimilate what he was thinking, even though it was not kept up by the latest owners.

Looking north, again from the mid-point, the deck is outlined by yet more boxwood and plantings. The deck and back of the house will soon be a large glassed in porch, allowing four-seasons of living in the natural surroundings, protected from the elements.

From the Street, looking south, here is 96 Paffard Street if you are coming to visit. Of course you are welcome if you are in NOTL for the Shaw Festival, or just checking out one of the 21 (and counting) vineyard wine outlets in the town. The old village dates to the 1700's when the town was the capital of the Upper Canadian Territory. The history is mostly of British settlers, with a lot of them coming via the USA as Loyalists, following the American Revolution and also the War of 1812.
Many will wonder where exactly NOTL is on a map. Look for Niagara Falls and follow the river to where it empties into Lake Ontario... it is across the river from Lewiston, NY. Because it is on the lake side of what is known as the Bench and the Canadian Shield, the weather in NOTL is significantly more mild than the rest of Ontario, and in particular the area around Buffalo, which we all know as a snow wonderland... wondering why anyone would want to live there...

So, that's the story of our move to Niagara, and my trip to in September. We are going to miss our friends in Nova Scotia, but look forward to visiting them, and they, us. I will be coming to Halifax regularly for my check-ups three or four times a year, so I will be staying in touch, and as a Bluenoser will keep up with the Down-East nature of my soul.

An Update on Scott

Well, it has been about three weeks since I wrote about Scott's passing after being dragged overboard off a herring seiner on the Atlantic Ocean's Devil's Island near to Halifax. There was a hugely attended memorial service for Scott and his family found out how much he meant to many people... he clearly was a part of our "main" here on the Eastern Shore.

Scott has not been found, and we will always be looking to the sea in hope of closure for his family. In the interim, we remember him well. Scott, this time, it tolls for thee...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ask not... it tolls for Scott

The last time I saw Scott Clark, he had just finished monkey climbing a tree next door at Ron Smith's place... he attached a rope near the top of this not yet old enough, but dead Black Spruce that had been attacked by the Asian Long Horned Beetle... he shinnied back down and cut a perfect wedge, and then the final cut, felled the tree... from his perch on the tree, he could have looked at his home, like in this picture, across the harbour... Heather Crout, his wife would have been in her studio there, painting another beautiful water color... wondering whether Scott is OK... he was, just like all the other times he would be doing favours for neighbors, or working on a roof, shingling in the heat of the day... another dangerous occupation... or off fishing on a herring or lobster boat.

Yesterday, Scott was to come home from several days fishing. The herring are running off Halifax and there are so many boats out there at night that a friend who lives on Martinique Beach says it looks like a small city out there at night. Scott was out there in that small city, it was Saturday night, into Sunday morning... he was working, when he could have been partying... in fact, he wasn't at the bowling league on Friday night... the sign on the door could have been "gone fishing"... commercial fishing!!

Scott loved fishing... he had told Ron Smith that he was giving up roofing to go full time to the boats... fishing. Occasionally, Scott and/or Heather would come and visit Ron and Bev... and we might catch a bit of time as well. Scott would talk about many things... his heritage from Newfoundland; how he could eat a lobster in a matter of seconds; he did a lot of handyman things, and lots of favours for anyone who needed them. He had stories, many... and he could laugh, and make most others do the same... Friday nights at the bowling alley he was at his best... cajolling, but rolling for great scores himself... making certain everyone was having as good a time as he was... it was like he was put on the earth to make us all happy.

Scott had another passion... his astronomy! We were visiting Heather and Scott last week, and on the drive way with some other goodies in their garage sale was a huge telescope. He had others, and loved talking about the sights he could see... fishing at night would give him geat views from the open sea, he said.

He also loved his grand kids, and his family back on the Rock. He was planning to give his Mom one of his kidneys... she is on dialysis these days and could use the donation. Love was in his heart for this and more.

Scott worked hard, and he loved his life with his wife Heather. Heather is one of the really fine people of the shore. You could find her by times, waiting on tourists having lunch at the Tin Cup, working in the artist's co-op in Halifax, or in her great little gallery here in the Oyster Pond... Heather is one of the really great painters here in Nova Scotia... in fact, three of my neighbors are taking art classes from her this fall... Water Color... Heather also loves Scott...

Sunday morning, early, our door bell rang... it was Guy Le Blanc... our neighbor... he is retired from the Canadian Navy, and is a Fireman, and early responder here on the shore. When Guy comes a knocking, sometimes it is bad news... Sunday morning it was to tell us that Scott didn't come home... in fact, he was missing... a herring net had caught his boot and yanked him over-board... into the very cold North Atlantic... fourteen vessels and a helecopter were looking for him... there was little hope, from the beginning...

Scott will be really missed here on the Eastern Shore... the folks on Friday nights will have a permenant 7 - 10 split to fill... and we will need to help Heather deal with her loss...

I have a feeling that Scott is in this picture that I took last night... his spirit will always be on this water. I think it is likely he will have a party waiting for us when we get to our sunsets...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Coffee and Blood Pressure...

Recently I wrote a post that was about trying to recover my health in preparation for the inevitable "next" health challenge. I have set up an excel spread sheet that is both a guide for me... and a recording device. A key part of getting back into a healthy situation is to understand where my baseline happens to be...
I have set up to have seven convenient (easy to measure) modalities with which to keep a weekly measure of my progress... they are Blood Pressure (systolic and Diastolic), Heart Rate, Breath Hold time, Push-ups to exhaustion, sit-ups to exhaustion, and Flexibility (distance +/- from touch toes). My intention was to establish the baseline today.
At about 11 AM I decided to measure my resting Blood Pressure and heart rate, which frankly is usually about 105/65 and 52 BPM when I go to bed. I measure it and guess what... it was 148/80!!!!! My heart rate was 54 this morning at the same time as my BP was elevated, especially the systolic. Now for some people that is not too bad, but for me it was a wake-up... and cause for pondering what the hell is happening.
So, I started pondering... easy to do here at the Oyster Pond... last night it was 108/64 and 51 (yes, I record these). When I thought through my morning, I had had my normal chopped apple with chopped nuts, cinnamon, blueberries, yogurt, and cottage cheese in a bowl. No issue there, it is basically the recommended ZONE breakfast, and both Lynnda and I eat it religiously.
I also had two large cups of coffee... three spoons of freshly ground beans in each! I think I have found the culprit. I had never measured my morning resting Blood Pressure, so I didn't know what was happening to me... the buzzz also raises my blood pressure. I Guess it will be either decalf or one cup or no cups... it isn't good for the system to be at elevated pressures.
I can doooooo this!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Keeping the Upper Hand on Health Issues

I have occasionally written and spoken of the need to he healthy when you get sick or injured... I hope this doesn't sound like an oxymoron type thought... I would hope it is reasonably intuitive... but let me explain...

We are all going to get sick, it is a matter of when, and what it will be. It is not so certain that we will all have an accident, but there is a chance, and it could be significant. Either way, if our bodies go through a trauma that taxes anything from the spirit to the bones and flesh, it will have to survive and then go through a recovery period.

My point about being healthy when "stuff" happens is that the body, when healthy is more resilient and better capable of a successful recovery. This leads to faster recovery, lower costs of care, earlier return to income generating activities, and to having some fun.

So if we are to be healthy when we are sick or injured, what do we need to do to achieve it. Well, there are the obvious things that the government and social agents harp on... non-tobacco and good nutritional habits; good dental and general hygiene; regular exercise and relaxation; and social interaction. Keeping these things in perspective will help keep us in general good health. Most of them are natural, but when they get out of sync... some really bad things can happen... again, for another blog.

I have been thinking about my own health goals, which was the genesis of my starting to write this post. I was just diagnosed with hypo-thyroid disease. The cause of it was likely associated with the radiation treatments for my cancer... so it is a sequel to my cancer. Among the symptoms of it are things like being emotionally drained, lacking energy and so on. As a result, for some time, I was spiralling down, not getting exercise, not eating correctly, not sleeping properly and so on... so I not only didn't recover fully from my cancer treatments, I actually continued to get further away from my goal of good general health.

(Note: since being diagnosed with hypo-thyroid (too little thyroid output) I have met about ten friends who also take Synthroid... so if you are having symptoms like the ones I mentioned... have your physician check your T4, T3 and TSH levels, it is an easy blood test, and the treatment... Synthroid... is really benign)

So, what do I do... I have to pick myself up, and get back on the saddle of life again... and work to get healthy. No matter that I have had my share of health challenges... I will bet another shoe will fall and I need to be ready! I am a list person... especially listing the goals I want to achieve.
  1. ensure cardio-pulmonary health
  2. maximize physical endurance
  3. focus on my flexibility
  4. attend to my mental health and acuity
  5. work on my strength points... legs, arms, neck and back

So what's my point... simply, it is that without thinking through our health needs, and setting goals, we will just let life happen to us. To my mind, setting aside at least an hour a day, whether we are working or not, is little price to pay for being healthy and prepared for when the inevitable hits.

One doesn't need to be a member of a club to achieve these goals... working with a towel, a big book, and a pair of walking shoes could get us through to healthy living. Add a bicycle and a helmet and you can even see more of the surrounding world while achieving several of the goals.

I hope I can get to this today... I am setting my baselines... Blood Pressure; Heart Rate (resting and maximum); breath h old time; # of push-ups to max; # of sit-ups to exhaustion; straight leg to touch (to go); and so on. We can't achieve goals if we don't know where we are at the beginning.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Something to Think About

This picture reminds me that it is a long road into the sunset, and we have such a distance to travel...

When Are WE Going to Get Over It?

For much of the last forty years, ever since America "fixed" its race problem in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, we white people have been impatient with African Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties. Often we have heard whites ask, "When are African Americans finally going to get over it?

Now I want to ask:

"When are we White Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?
Recent reports that "Election Spurs Hundreds' of Race Threats, Crimes" should frighten and infuriate every one of us. Having grown up in "Bombingham," Alabama in the 1960s, I remember overhearing an avalanche of comments about what many white classmates and their parents wanted to do to John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Eventually, as you may recall, in all three cases, someone decided to do more than "talk the talk."

Since our recent presidential election, to our eternal shame we are once again hearing the same reprehensible talk I remember from my boyhood.

We white people have controlled political life in the disunited colonies and United States for some 400 years on this continent.

Conservative whites have been in power 28 of the last 40 years. Even during the eight Clinton years, conservatives in Congress blocked most of his agenda and pulled him to the right. Yet never in that period did I read any headlines suggesting that anyone was calling for the assassinations of presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, or either of the Bushes. Criticize them, yes.

Call for their impeachment, perhaps. But there were no bounties on their heads. And even when someone did try to kill Ronald Reagan, the perpetrator was non-political mental case who wanted merely to impress Jody Foster.

But elect a liberal who happens to be black and we're back in the sixties again. At this point in our history, we should be proud that we've proven what conservatives are always saying -- that in America anything is possible, even electing a black man as president.

But instead we now hear that school children from Maine to California are talking about wanting to "assassinate Obama."

Fighting the urge to throw up, I can only ask, "How long?"

How long before we white people realize we can't make our nation, much less the whole world, look like us?

How long until we white people can - once and for all - get over this hell-conceived preoccupation with skin color?

How long until we white people get over the demonic conviction that white skin makes us superior?

How long before we white people get over our bitter resentments about being demoted to the status of equality with non-whites?

How long before we get over our expectations that we should be at the head of the line merely because of our white skin?

How long until we white people end our silence and call out our peers when they share the latest racist jokes in the privacy of our white-only conversations?

I believe in free speech, but how long until we white people start making racist loudmouths as socially uncomfortable as we do flag burners?

How long until we white people will stop insisting that blacks exercise personal responsibility, build strong families, educate themselves enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, and work hard enough to become President of the United States, only to threaten to assassinate them when they do?

How long before we start "living out the true meaning" of our creeds, both civil and religious, that all men and women are created equal and that "red and yellow, black and white" all are precious in God's sight?

Until this past November 4, I didn't believe this country would ever elect an African American to the presidency. I still don't believe I'll live long enough to see us white people get over our racism problem.

But here's my three-point plan:

First, everyday that Barack Obama lives in the White House that Black Slaves Built, I'm going to pray that God (and the Secret Service) will protect him and his family from us white people.

Second, I'm going to report to the FBI any white person I overhear saying, in seriousness or in jest, anything of a threatening nature about President Obama.

Third, I'm going to pray to live long enough to see America surprise the world once again, when white people can "in spirit and in truth" sing of our damnable color prejudice,

"We HAVE overcome."

It takes a Village to protect our President!!!

Written By: Andrew M. Manis is associate professor of history at Macon State College in Georgia and wrote this for an editorial in the Macon Telegraph.

Monday, August 3, 2009

More On Our Healthcare Systems

Here are some cancer statistics... Intended only to debunk the outcome arguements that we hear on TV so often. The Canadian life expectanct is two years longer than the American... on average... there can not be such results if the Canadian System sucks... one doesn't need to change the US system to the Canadian... but it doesn't need to pound on it either.


Cancer ↓Canadian mortality rate ↓Canadian incidence rate ↓American mortality rate ↓American incidence rate ↓
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma5.513.65.915.8
All cancers148.2346.6160.5403.6


Cancer ↓Canadian mortality rate ↓Canadian incidence rate ↓American mortality rate ↓American incidence rate ↓
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma8.518.99.322.2
All cancers215.1455.5234.1541.8

Sources: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group and Canadian Cancer Society

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Grad. Saint Mary's University, 1975, got into the medical device business initially in sales, then various management positions up to president, all in Medical Devices. I prefer therapy products over diagnostic, but they are all fun, and in a way have defined my life. I have now evolved, with help from my 35 year partner Lynnda with whom I now share every hour. I am into staying healthy, photography, kayaking, bicycling, gardening and two books a week. I wish I had gotten to this stage earlier!