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.


My photo

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!