Saturday, January 31, 2009

Vancouver China Town

China Town. The lease on my office near Vancouver General Hospital is up in a couple of months. They’re tripling the rent. The last time I had to move my office from Broadway and Granville, a friend called to ask if I would come to Northern Marianas Islands. Next thing I had solo sailed Giri with my cat and dog across the eastern Pacific to Hawaii in the winter of 2004. From there we flew across the western Pacific to Tokyo then on to Saipan. For the next year and a half I’d be a psychiatrist in the islands having the privilege to work at the Commonwealth Hospital of the Northern Marianas Islands with the incredible staff and people. Scuba diving, making music, dancing, playing golf, attending churches, meetings on palm beaches, good friends and awesome food, it was a dream come true.
This office was devastated early by tragic staff problems that we barely survived thanks to the honesty and hard work of others. As a business though it was a loss due as much to the contempt of government for medical doctors and the truth as the spiraling overhead costs. Even the parking lots around the hospital gouge the sick and prey on those that care for them. The most stigmatized are the mentally ill and the emotionally disturbed, loosers in the eyes of prevailing Social Darwinism.
As arrogant governments steal to pay for their mismanagement and sickeningly gross corruption tax collectors rape the middle classes to pay for the services the criminals en mass participate in for free. More and more are above or below the laws police no longer uphold. A famous study showed that the mentally ill of asylums voted identically to the general population explaining finally community insaniety.
My work, once devoted to simple and gracious neurotics, has been increasingly involved with angry hurt addicts, the complex brain injured and the disheartening defensive traumatized who find themselves victims in a society that celebrates victimizers. Where once my patients had one disease and maybe one medication today so many are aging and chronically medically ill with multiple medications for multiple illnesses. The pay and time allotted for patients remains the same but all the ‘cream’ of business has gone to the highly lucrative alternative health care and wellness clinics. The severely sick and disabled can’t afford to be ill. Increasingly my patents need a lawyer just to get their life saving medications paid for by public institutions that pride themselves now on being “for profit”.
It’s a cold city that celebrates a 2010 winter Olympics none of us can afford to participate in. Already many of my patients are facing homelessness as everyone fears the congestion that will make traffic unmanageable. Gunfire of road rage has already erupted.
I wonder if I should move to Nunuvut. I loved the north and the cost of living makes work there attractive. Maybe a Harley engine in a snowmobile would go with ice sailing. I have been in contact with eastern jobs where the pay is three times what is offered here and costs manageable. When the BCMA polled doctors locally nearly a half said they wished they’d chosen another career.
Given the government disdain for psychiatry and utter ignorance coupled with arrogance I sometimes think of returning to family medicine with it’s 7 minute visits and quick fix answers. Nothing I do is apparent except lives change for the better. When I do my work really well they all believe I wasn’t even necessary. It’s all in the pill isn’t it? I was amused to see that the pharmacists figured they could prescribe as well as doctors but now see even they aren’t willing to accept the responsibility for prescribing psychiatric medication.
Some days I miss the knight in shining armour role I gave up for the court jester. Yet Shakespeares kings listened to no one else and only the fool told the truth. "The truth shall set you free."
But I like my life here. I enjoy my patients. I’ve always enjoyed my patients. There’s no money or time for the complexity but the challenge is certainly there. I read at night to keep up with advances and enjoy that. I’ve never been paid for any of my education beyond general practice. There’s no reward in Canada for higher education and certainly little support for specialization or subspecialization unless it involves a procedure you can grandstand with. I offered to take over the defective police tazers and provide a cosmetic service for the S&M crowd but my insurance wouldn’t go for it.
Still I love the multiculturalism of my referral base. My friends are here though my family is back east. My sailboat needing repairs always calls to me and I really wouldn’t want to leave without the rising debt. There is sophistication in the east and more honesty in the north. Occasionally now that Obama is president I even think of journeying south.
Other days I miss the country. Most free weekends I’m hunting, fishing, hiking or motorcycling back roads. I used to be sailing but my boat needs an xray and I can't even get my boat an xray.
A night at the Ballet makes all the city ugliness worth it. Yet this year this extraordinarily exceptional company couldn’t meet it’s costs. In contrast a little town like Rossland supports an Opera Company while Qualicum supports a theatre company. Vancouver prefers free heroin.
So here I am in China Town. I like the feel and vibrance of Main street. Costs are reasonable but I can imagine daily fresh produce.
My life is so busy that laundry and shopping are the greatest enemies of leisure. I work 5 days a week and usually Saturday and Sunday I'm doing support activities. I’m aging and must somehow incorporate exercise into the 10 hour work days. I imagine more walking during the week with so much to see.
There’s a real diversity here with community and people living and working as such. Asked where I’d like to live and work in Vancouver I really had to admit that my first choice after the west end was this area.
My friend wants me to come to the north shore. Right now my boat is there. I’ve applied to work in Abbotsford and Chilliwack but they don’t want doctors. A lot of the public face is ‘shortage’ but when it comes right down to having a doctor in the eyes of government that would raise health care costs. Waitlists and doctor shortages are lucrative to politicians who don’t have any reason to keep their promises. It’s been easier to get work in foreign countries than to meet the demands of beaurocracy locally. All my Canadian training and experience is for naught.
My foreign friend says they like him better because they know he won’t question the authorities because they won’t let his family join him if he does. Canadian born I still believe in civil liberties, human rights and freedom of speech all no longer available to doctors whose livelihood hangs by a thread the minute they question.
As many days I want to go back to the country or the north I’d like to stay here but that brings up getting another less expensive office and where. On the other hand, I ran away to sea last time my office life was disrupted. Maybe this time I’ll wait till a circus is passing through town.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mountains and Valleys

This is a society of terror.

Everyone has a lawyer, a knife or a glock.

Hair trigger middle fingers and rights.

Nobody is wrong.

Democratic or totalitarian, the citizen is collateral damage.

Called 'friendly fire' when the Government does it

Terrorism if anyone else.

I climb the mountains of the working man's week,

Cresting Wednesday on a prayer.

Longing for the contented valley of the weekend

As I stagger down to Thursday,

Almost tasting Friday

Remembering Saturday's meadows

And hoping for Sunday's cool clear waters.

Without expectation I have no resentment.

Beneath your contempt I know your fear.

It is lonely in death

Knowing no life but for grasping.

Was it trillions you owed

Jean Val Jean still in jail

For a crust

And a child?

Where will you be

With the stem cells of abortus

Spare parts and botox?

When I hear an old love song

Played on a banjo

In the husks of a corn field,

As caribou paw in the snow to the north,

And crocuses awaken to promises of daffodils

Even you too are loved as we all are

How else could it be?

My enemy, my friend.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daniel Kalla

I love Daniel Kalla's writing. It's just so good to find an author you enjoy and have him write book after book that entertains. Pandemic was a rush of a read. I was absolutely spell bound by Resistance. Rage Therapy got only better. Now I'm half way through Cold Plague and can't put it down. These are real medical thrillers and the medicine is terrific. The characters are people I've met in hospitals, waiting rooms and board rooms. Some are my neighbours. Everything is so real. And the plots as ominous as they are really do uncover the source of the disease. One can't help but compare him to Michael Creighton but there's just as much Bill Gibson in the spin. The characters are deeper and richer than those of most thrillers and everything builds and relates. So that's what I'm doing tonight. After a bone weary day in clinic. Reading Kalla. A doctor's doctor book.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Chameleon Sings

Ben Nuttall-Smith's, The Chameleon Sings, Surviving and Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse, a memoir, Trafford Publishing, 2007 is a truly remarkable testament to the human spirit. Sexual abuse is a very small part of this remarkably understated tale of survival. Childhood is spotted with off hand remarks like "one night an incendiary bomb dropped on the barn", and "we carried gas masks everywhere " and "One night...part of the flat was blown away." At another time they have to change schools because the last one blew up. Escape to Canada brings physical safety for this English boy but is replaced by the bullies of Quebec who so hated the English especially one who didn't punch back. Touching stories of loving relatives safe from the front are contrasted with the conflicted mother's story whose wealth and priviledge are lost to the war along with the men of her youth. I loved his tales of the Navy even if his gentle character caused him to fail as a Korean war hero but lead to his joining the Catholic Christian Brothers where he served as a music teacher for 12 years. Love, family and music are there in the recent history of much that I have myself known but seen from a perspective so very different Ben's is a unique voice. I shared his married life, the building of homes, the raising of chickens and the desire to please the unpleasable in laws. Jack Nicholson's Schmidt character is echoed by Ben's Willie Loman teacher self in a BC school system that overnight cared less for humanity, arts and common sense than it did for dollars and cents. At home his life of love and labour are cast aside as his landscaping art is destroyed, the traditional mowed down before modernization. The mystical threads wrap around him and his long lost Catholic father. In Sechelt he finds fellow men who support him and a psychiatrist who helps him through the tortorous jorney of trauma's nightmares. From the ashes the phoenix rises and love rekindles with a new found partner. To this day art spills over and his children share his love and loves. It's so touchingly real for a fellow survivor, who in my therapists role have also walked along side so many who make the sweetest proverbial lemonade from the most bittersweet lemons indeed. I am really thankful for such a good and inspirational read. It's impossible though that the white haired respectable gent on the back cover could have been the long side burned hitchiking folk singing 60's Brother Bonaventure, (shown in the black and white photo pages) who rebelliously taught the nuns guitar to the horror of Mother Church!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vancouver Motorcycle Show

The Vancouver Motorcycle Show is an annual event that takes place at the Tradex in Abbotsford. Last year I drove the truck and it snowed. This year I drove the 63 kilometers on my 1200 Harley Roadster. The temperature was negative 2 degrees and the wind was 17 mph. Despite long johns and leathers the windchill at 110 km on the freeway was righteous. By the time my partner and I arrived at the show we were more interested in warmth and coffee than the incredible selections of 2009 motorcycles. Harley's Ultra Classic was my favourite but my friend found Yamaha had produced several Star series bikes perfect for her short lets. Alot more women are getting in to motorcycling and it was clear from the Bitchin Gear, pink leathers and helmuts that retailers were taking notice. The Buell's certainly are sexier than ever. Honda's Goldwing is threatening to drive itself with all the accessories even an airbag. I fell in love with the Yamaha offroad TW200 enduro. It's the one place you can sit on a lot of bikes and feel what's right. For looks Azkikar choppers are outrageous. Always the campers, the trikes and side cars are there to engorge the wishlists. We had a terrific time before heading back in the dying sun to beat the icy streets, thankful for the warmth of home after a bit of extreme motorcycling.

Robbie Burns Dinner

A grand night at Banff, Moray Nairn Society's Robbie Burns Dinner at the Scottish Cultural Centre!

To a Haggis (1787)

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin' -race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

It begins with the Piping in of the Haggis and then of course the Robbie Burns poem "To a Haggis", then the Toast to the Lassies and the Toast to the Laddies. Then there is the eulogy about Burns himself. Finally the Star of Burns is sung. Of course there's the glorious eating of the haggis too. Some must drink a fair bit of scotch to get up the courage for the event and some indeed down a fair bit of scotch to get the haggis to stay in place, but there are indeed those who take their haggis straight up. It's a night to remember. Dancing and bag pipes and tonight, the Pepper Pot all the way from Scotland with their hilarious entertainment. They had everyone up dancing and laughing. Many of the laddies wore kilts while the lassies were decked out in gowns and sashes. A fine night indeed!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jan.24, 2008 - Righteous Kill

Friday night arrived. A little late as usual. I'd been waiting impatiently for it at the lonely barren station that I'd crawled to through a week of dessert and gun fire. Looking back at the craters of bad news on Thursday it was difficult remembering the glorious canteens and world wide celebrations earlier in the week. But the last 24 hours of my personal life's journey left my throat parched and eyes wide with an old twitch.

Another traveller had told me they had no one as we climbed the last rungs of the week. I looked around at the weary travellers at this depot remembering how high I used to set my sights, how low I'd fallen in the eyes of some. This was no chandeliered waystation. Just a working class dive with fellow aging travellers equally afraid, no one having a monopoly on sickness or age, all of us huddled together for warmth, but still a few haughty and aloof. In the night sky the fireworks of the past were almost pretty when Friday night finally arrived.

She was laughing at my conveyance. Would that I could pick her up in a Lear Jet but the ruckus scooter with little room for gear and two fat old white folk would have to do. Snow and ice on the road, dangerous insane drug addicted Friday night drivers. Every minute of that wild journey home from work a threat to life and limb and testament to fate and God. We'd decided to pool our scant resources for a pizza and a movie.

And there was De Niro. And Al Pacino. The two of those guys together. What could be better on a Friday night. Who cares what the movie is. They're like Jack Nicholson and Robbin Williams. Who cares what city the Bolshoi Ballet is dancing in. It's the Bolshoi so you know it's going to be great even if you have to see them in po dunk Nebraska. I'm going to complain if the Pope holds a mass in Kansas. She's gleeful when I show her the Righteous Kill cover. "De Niro is so sexy," she says, like that's going to influence my choice. "Pacino is a genius, " I say remembering Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. "I liked him in Scent of a Woman," she responded. She would, I thought.

The underground garage suddenly seemed like the Bat Cave. The pressure of the week of war was literally falling away like overcoats and snakes as I left the baby Honda Batmobile and walked with my personal Nicole Kidman kind of Meryl Streepish friend into the safety of the apartment block. Elevators to the loft, cat meowing greeting. Quick change to sweats. The same guy that ran for days for ice cream for the pharoah has been sent from the pizza place to bring us hot food.

When he arrives the flat screen tv comes alive with Righteous Kill. Almost a James Bond style opening, two guys shooting at the gun range, joking. Cops. Cop world. Testosterone. Manliness. Closed tortuous inner worlds with tenuous promises. Uncertainties and latitudes. But confident. On the outside. And these guys show it all. A facial expression. An eye brow. Years conveyed in a glance. Actors. Who would know. I'm watching two New York cops near retirement. I don't even here the pizza guy. She's handed me pizza that as usual will go in face or on shirt and my eyes won't leave the screen. How did she hear the door bell.

De Niro is talking to the girl. Where do they find these women. Gorgeous Carla Cugino is utterly believable. She works in evidence. Is kinky in a quiet way, the lover of one and desire of the other. Two men and one woman. A background of hoods and cons, dope dealers and killers. A really great bathroom scene with the Trilby Glover as the young lawyer way over her head. It's all rivetting. The suspense is unbearable. The other cops and the baseball games. Images of light and dark flash by in conflict and I can't help but agree with the vigellanteism.

Sure it's a serial murder but one never knows who it is until that Carla looks outside the box. Everyone is being played and yet the play is Shakesperean in it's form something the writer, Russell Gewirtz and director, John Avnet deserve the highest praise for. The cast could make the Muppets into a gangster classic but with the material and direction it's a truly heroic masterpiece. In the end it transcends the Walter Mathau - Jack Lemmon intimacy to touch the Bogart-Rains connection from Cassablanca.

Yet it's a truly postmodern film which somehow makes the greats of the Godfather era somehow seem old. Everything is turned up a notch and twists of plot are jacknife turns. Each killing in its self is a balletic pas de deux.

"I loved it, " she said. "I've always found de Niro so hot." I want to say he's an old guy and Pacino is the star but then there's Carla and those latin cops. "It's all about character. It's a morality play in a way. It's taken Glover and Gibson and added a whole other level of justice. " "I liked the scene with the priest, now that was poetic." she answers.

Yea, I say , and then think, where did the week go?

A couple of hours with these guys, a friday night pizza and a movie with a friend and suddenly it was like we'd passed into another dimension. The weekend was finally here. I wasn't the work guy any more. I was the fun guy. We were relaxed again. "That movie was worth every cent," I said, "A whole lot more." she answered saluting me with her glass of coca cola. "It's finally the weekend. Thank God."

Thursday, January 22, 2009


You are a friend. Your smile arises spontaneously at my presence and likewise I'm as instantaneously warmed by the recognition of you. It's a doggy waggy body thing that is childish for mature adults to have so contained in their conservative reality. I could tear off my hat and fling it high or roll on the ground knowing that special freedom of your presence. You don't judge me. You tell me I've got ketchup on my shirt but in an amusing informative way. Like an uncle or an aunt, brother or sister, a close cousin but a chosen adopted family person. I have known you for so very long. This isn't just a superficial thing. It savoured deep. It's a sustaining living growing special achievement of relationship. And I admire you. Namaste. The god in me salutes the god in you. While there's this crazy kid thing that's shy and silly there's also this nearly religious place of awareness in presence. Together we seem to be more than our individual parts. You bring out the best in me and I hope, I in you. You don't encourage me to be less than I can be but rather want me to be who I am which is often more than I alone can see. We celebrate each other. I feel lucky just knowing you. Life is fuller with you. And while we've seen each other alot there are spaces that seem to disappear in seconds once we meet again. I am grateful for the comfort you bring. I'm honoured to stand beside you and feel safer when you are standing beside me. I'm touched and there's this special quality of relating that's intimate and yet expansive. So many dimensions are now implicit in any explicit moment of sharing. I feel you know me as I want to be known. You forgive me as I would forgive myself. And I forgive you not that you need forgiving but you know what I mean. We cut each other slack and laugh. Mostly we laugh. The colours of my existence are brighter knowing you. The sun is warmer and the skys reach further. It's for friendship that I live and knowing you I want to live longer. Alone I'm not so sure. Alone I'm somewhat anxious. But with you I can joke about that. We've seen each other's tears and know each others strength. I'm glad to be with you in celebration and want to be with you in challenge. I've got your back and think in your own strange way you've got mine. I trust you and I don't trust easily and I don't trust many. You're one of a special select few. It's probably not a priviledged position either. I know I could call you from prison and you know I'd call you from heaven if I made it and they let me have a call. I seem to like so much that you like and you seem to like what I like . We also like people together. And it seems that it could be no other way. I don't know how this ever happened because I wouldn't have guessed it knowing you but over time it's becomes this thing that's indivisible. I'm very thankful for it even if it somewhat surprises me. It's so rare and yet here it is at the kitchen table or in the back yard so to speak. Thank you for being my friend. And I thank God that I have a friend like you. There are too few of you but my life would be infinitely richer if there were only one.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Obama, President,

I can believe

Pete Seegers:

This land is your land

This land is my land.

Beyonce: America.

The celebration of inauguration.

Hope for peace.

Prayer for change.

A time of renewal, he said.


Monday, January 19, 2009


I was innoscent once.

A kind word for ignorance.

Too soon I forgot the fragrance

Of the fresh mown grass in the ball field.

Auroro borealis. Lying on my back at night,

Looking up at dancing lights and galaxies.

One day I began looking down.

Slumped with books and memories,

Scurrying crab like from class room to office,

In doors. Away from the sun and stars.

I do not know if ever I knew you.

I was such an idealist in a realist creation.

Counting kisses while others counted dollars.

It may have been a tease. We teased back then.

Before the politically correct killed laughter,

And stared as glass eyed fish,

Swimming in their own soiled waters.

Sometimes now I do look up

On days without the smog

And putrid stench of dying slogans,

I remember freedom.

Something the licensed can not recall.

Like making snow angels, auroro borealis,

And play.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude

"Drugs and alcohol made me fly but they took away the sky," the young man from AA told me. I saw a man with a head band advertising marijuania begging money on Davie street today. My friend said, " Now there's a poster child if ever I saw one."

The Big Book (main text) of Alcoholics Anonymous was originally called "A Way Out". It summed up the abstinence experience of the first members. Literally millions have since become members of AA finding relief from the negative consequences of drinking. Begun in 1935 by Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson as one alcoholic helping another, it began in the Oxford Movement, what founder Buchman, the YMCA Lutheran minister, called "first century christianity". The 4 rules of that program with it's absolutes and idealism however only became palatable to alcoholics when the 12 steps were developed with "Spiritual progress, not perfection" as a central AA slogan. Not affiliated with any religion, it subsequently spread the world over. Dr. Bob in his last words to Bill Wilson said "Keep it simple." The 24 hour a day provision was simply a way of focusing on the present and not letting the cares of the past and worries about the future overwhelm one. "One day at a time," the alcoholic did not drink and pretty soon days turned into months and months turned into years. Negativity was a feature of the alcoholic. Not surprising given that alcohol was a depressant. Drugs equally limitted the surprise and uniqueness of the natural "high", addicts controlling their perception of life, driven by the underlying anxiety that precedes addiction. Gratitude then was the key feature of the change of attitude implicit in recovery. Dr. Hal Marley was called an apostle for "An attitude of gratitude" telling AA members that Gratitude was the best way to dispell any darkness from their lives. It became a common practice to have people write out all the things they were grateful for as long as it took and day after day until they learned how to recognise that their thinking was so much the source of the negatives in their life. Joseph Alsop, American journalist, wrote "Gratitude, like love, is never a dependable international emotion." That probably could be explained as both require action, without which they remain hollow sentimentality. A man whose success today is readily apparent likes to say, "you don't have to take the elevator to the basement, you can get off at any floor." Success stories are told at annual AA birthdays, where a cake celebrates the continuous abstinence and sobriety. Members share 'what it was like, and what it is like now." Gratitude is the most common expression that comes from such comparisons. As one AA member said simply, "I was on the down elevator, and now I'm on the up elevator and I'm grateful to AA for helping me turn my life around." Now that's an attitude of gratitude.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Harrison Hot Springs Resort

Alright it's decadent. There's a recession on. But I've been working extra hard. I' m aching all over and not sleeping well. A get away to a luxury hotel is simply out of the question. But Harrison's Hot Springs Resort. That's medicinal. It's a spa. It's rejuvenating. What can be wrong with that. The taxman would understand. Surely. He can't get any more money if I die on the job. However what used to be cannon fodder is now the new tax fodder. Especially in these stressful times. Still.
That's no excuse for the Copper Room. Admittedly after the two hour drive from Vancouver, getting quickly changed from jeans to evening attire, and almost running down to the Copper Room it's something we deserve. The Jones Boys live band are 'almost famous' and have been there for ever. The food is divine. Where else can I get cariboo without having to shoot it myself. A mystical meat indeed. Then there's the partners roast beef dinner. And since we're dancing, the ice cream and cheese cake desert are well within the calorie budget. The dancing is a delight. Mostly ballroom though there are still those who just do their own thing.

A couple celebrated their 60's wedding anniversay. The Jones Boys crooned happy birthday with teddy bears to a young lady who was not giving out her age. All of it so reminiscient of the more refined days of dinner clubs and getting dressed for an evening out. Nowhere were ripped t shirts or Nikes to be seen. The patrons were better dressed and better behaved than even the Vancouver Opera society. Just beautiful people looking glamourous and acting very fine in the loveliest of environments.

And what can be better after dancing the night away with a beautiful partner than to get in bathing suits and head out for a late night hot spring sojourn.

A n older friend said the mafia used the cabins here in the 30's. There's bits of history all over the resort. All manner of dignitaries have been here. I've attended several conferences over the years ..But most of all I enjoyed bringing Mom and Dad and the dog out here renting a cabin in the summer and enjoying the hot springs and walks along Harrison Lake. As Winnipeg elders they were immensely pleased with my choice of entertainment.

After 11 the outdoor pools are closed, probably for fear that guests will wander drunken into the woods and be mauled by cougar. Indoors the after effects of festive evenings can be better contained. We found a subdued crowd though. Romance was in the air. My partner was a happy tropical mermaid.

Morning the sun was out. Mocca coffee in the outside pool ,steam rising, with nothing more to do than watch an eagle circle the emerald mountain before us. It's a small price to pay for remembering what it's all for. Medicinal indeed. Now if only I can get the new government funded naturopathic doctors to write me a note for my insurance company life would be truly sweet.
Harrison's Hot Springs Resort. Kind of family oriented. Comfortable and yet lavish with an old world refinement. I've been coming here yearly for decades. To take the waters, as they used to say. Though the last time I came on my Harley and my butt appreciated the hot springs more than me. And yes I feel revived now. Another week of work in the busy city seems possible after this rejuvenating sojourn.
Thank you Harrison's Hot Springs. It makes no sense that the government puts money into Whistler when they have nothing to compare with this peace and elegance. If they really need 2010 Olympic competition event then I'm sure the Resort could with timers find the winner of the slowest walk back to the room after dissolving in the hot springs. Shouldn't there be such events for aging baby boomers? After this heavy week end work out I think I'll be up for that competition. Nascar look out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Canadian Author's Association - Vancouver Chapter

Another of those Canadian Authors Association meetings. This time Nancy Flight, Associate Publisher of Greystone Books was the speaker. She’s some sort of Madonna on the speaker circuit, vivacious blond, articulate, intelligent, and a standing room only following. I was lucky to get a piece of floor. The Alliance for the Arts Building was packed. Out on Howe street , scalpers were selling tickets for the alleyway. People in the hall were craning necks to catch a glimpse of an author. Anthony Dalton, the new CAA president, tantalized them by walking across the floor. He’s the very image of a Canadian author, tweedy with twinkling eyes. A Dalton specifically for sure, but very Pierre Berton , Robertson Davies, William Gibson, Steven Leacock mongrelise otherwise.
Bob Mackay read a gripping cavalry passage from his new WWI historical fiction. Benice Lever, editor in residence, offered to practice her gentle sadism, the zen of editing for a modest fee. Adventurous Mumford was there. Jean Kay, whose poetry was all over the newspapers , talked about moving the meeting to the YWCA. I can just see it, “floating room only” in the pool. This things getting popular.
Nancy said books sold in depressions. The D&M Publishing Corporation was expanding. They’d just bought New Society out of Gabriola Island and were looking to add another to the Douglas and McIntyre and Greystone names. All the writers were there tonight taking notes on how to become David Suzuki or write a proposal.
Nancy said Greystone often came up with in house ideas and sought writers. Their latest writer, Julie Angus, author of “Rowboat in a Hurricane” was the first woman to row mainland to mainland across the Atlantic through several hurricanes. Personally I’d have passed on that idea!
Looking about though all the writers were there tonight . Some very keen, asking questions others taking notes, all very attentive. Whose your audience, she asked? The few looking like they’d lived a dissipated writer’s life but now had to write obviously thought that a very novel idea. Doystoyevski was in the corner frowning about gambling debts while Hemingway had to pay for single malt whiskey somehow.
I was happy I’d bought Ben Nuttall-Smith’s book, The Chameleon Sings and had to think about this idea of a proposal. K.A Hume was the type to think her book through. She’s organized that way. But how was I going to come up with a table of contents when I was writing books on sexuality and alcoholism. Nancy Flight told us publishers also wanted us to know whether it was fiction or non fiction. Who knows with alcoholism and sexuality? It helps that I’m an authority and apparently publishers appreciate enthusiasm in writers. At least I had the right topics even if my thesis was a little steamy and foggy.
Nothing like hearing Ben and Bob had both completed writing books since I talked to them last month. Maniacs. Don’t they have any distractions in their lives. I’m tempted to send them over my books, tv , dvd and mp3 players,google, refridgerator, bed, couch, and friends to slow them down a bit. Inspirational is one thing. There’s a lot of inspiration at these Canadian Author’s Association meetings. But Ben and Bob are obviously fanatics. If they had my cat for a weekend they’d be lucky to write a haiku. But all power to them. I told Ben he deserved a vacation in Mexico. I’m back to working on a proposal.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jan. 12, 2009 - Clive Cussler

I've just finished yet another Clive Cussler novel. What Tom Clansey is to war, Clive is to the sea. His Dirk Pitt adventure series are a startling mix of discovery channel information reminiscent of the research that James Michener and later Michael Creighton were famous for. coupled with plots and villains as imaginative as Ian Flemming 007 series. Dirk Pitt the underwater researcher is also Schwartzenager and Bruce Lee all wrapped into the American boy next door who always finds lovely intelligent ladies to rescue or fall in love with. The side kick character Giordino is more 'real' and not ironically European in style. Coupled with these two is a whole National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA) research team that plays various secondary leads in each of the series. Admiral Standecker is the wise leader who parents this madcap crew interfacing routinely with Navy and president in one global crisis after another. I always swear I'll not not go on another seven seas romp with Clive Cussler until his next novel surfaces. They're terribly distracting and extremely hard to put down!
Shockwave published in 1996 is the one I just finished. I'll think it's the best until the next. Normally I'm reading them at sea or on planes but this one helped me through a Greyhound bus ride in a blizzard.
Arctic Drift is his 2008 offering. Reading them I'm reminded of those first adventure novels we kids read with flashlights in tents, parents shouting, "you'd better be sleeping in that tent". We'd shout back 'we are' with eyes racing dying batteries just as the hero..... And that's the feeling I get reading a Clive Cussler. Boyish excitement and freedom but of course far more complex plots and adult romance.
Clive Cussler was an Eagle Scout, an Air Force Sergeant in the Korean War and later a marine archeologist exploring ship wrecks that sometimes appear in his books. One imagines his fond characters are based on himself and the friends that surround him all made just that much larger than life as to satisfy Mark Twains dictum that the facts shouldn't get too much in the way of a good story. There's always an appealling bit of the sea yarn and camp fire tale.
Having sailed Pacific coasts and islands, made ocean crossings and scuba dived wrecks myself, I probably appreciate more the truths in Cussler's descriptions of sea and ships. But he's sold close to a hundred million books so his appeal is far beyond the common mariner. And something about his bright and competent female characters has made him more appealing to women than so many of the other male dominated adventure series. Now I really must go to sleep even if I don't have to worry about flashlight batteries or parents calling.
They that go down to the sea in ships; and occupy their business in great waters. Bible
No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail, for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned....A man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company. Samuel Johnson 1709-1784
The sea hates a coward. Eugene O'Neil 1888-1953
The sea has such extraordinary moods that sometimes you feel this is the only sort of life -- and 10 minutes later you're praying for death. Prince Phillip 1921 -

Jan. 12, 2009 - Clive Cussler

I;ve just finished yet another Clive Cussler novel. What Tom Clansey is to war, Clive is to the sea.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

After Church

He was a handsome older man standing in the shadows by the tree at the intersection. I could have walked on when the light turned green but stopped already said hello in that friendly way that invites conversation. He said hello in return turning towards me and looking me over. I guess I passed muster because he began to talk, saying something about the weather. A mild night it was with the snow melting and no rain.

One thought he might not have spoken much for a time. We talked about the weather and football for a while and then he spoke of his children. The light had turned green a couple of times already. I'm of an age when men who used to talk of lovers more often talk of their children. Often I don't know if it's their children they're talking about or their grand children. He was friendly and sensible and I was glad I'd said hello. Glad I'd not thought he was a mugger. Everyone looks the type if you watch enough tv.

In the end I took him for a pilot or a farmer but neither of us talked about work. It becomes less important with time.

I'd just come from church and I'm sure that Apostle Elizabeth would have wanted me to talk about Jesus but it didn't seem opportune. Not that I don't like talking about Jesus. But this man was talking about his children and how they'd liked to garden and the snow and rain would be good for gardens.

His ride came. Saying good bye, he got in the back of a suburu with young people in the front.

The light turned green and I went this time. I walked on to where I'd parked my truck. It was a kind of a peaceful and pleasant walk. Another time I wouldn't have stopped. Certainly not after work. Church does that to me. Makes me slow down. Taking time for a stranger. Behaving like I was back living in the country where people just naturally talked to each other.

I'll bet it's easier for a woman like Apostle Elizabeth to talk to a stranger about Jesus. I don't think Apostle Elizabeth knows what its like if a man starts talking to another man in the city about Jesus. Maybe he'd think I was a mugger or something. Certainly wouldn't talk to me about gardens and children. I would have talked to him about my truck if his ride hadn't come. I've been getting really good mileage on my truck since I took it in for a tune up.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


A psychiatrist showed one Rorsharck ink blot card to a patient after another only to have the patient answer to everyone, that what he saw was dirty, filthy, disgusting, sex. The psychiatrist concluding the test informed the patient that he appeared to have sex on the mind. The patient answered rather irritably, "You're the one showing me the dirty pictures."

I am afraid to write of love in this society. I long to be a poet in a country free from the petty censorship of the perverted social bullies that lie to hold humanity in a petrie dish that they can keep locked away for their own masturbatory fantasies. There is no creativity at the end of a gun. The Song of Songs would be pissed on today by the eyes of censors and shat on by their twisted words. There is no love in this institutional world, just political correctness and whoring. Reduced to dollars and cents their marriages are just institutionalized prostitution. There is no romance. The sacred has gone out of the sterile room of their souless arrogance. They are above the law and are the lowest of law. They sell permits to peep holes claiming to be pure when purity is not a word in the vocabulary of their degenerate filth. Heartless they dribble, drool, and stink with the contagion of their own contempt. They are superior in their arrid loveless intellects dulled by power and misuse. They brand us all with numbers refusing to look at the code they carved on their own foreheads. The unhealed scabs of their own unconscious are projected willy nilly upon the innoscent. They claim to protect the children while children run from their two faced death grimace smiles. No child wants to be held hostage to a nightmare. They spend more money on bombs, abortion and euthansia than schools and hospitals. Their idea of a cuddly toy is an abacus. I am afraid to write of love in this society. Love can get one jailed or asylumed or shot for disobeying the law. Thou shalt not love. Love is not politically correct! There is no tiny slot for it in the compartmentalized brain of the beaurocrat and the beaurocrat kills anything that might bother their brain, a heartless plugged up urinal disconnected from the oceans of love and humanity. I am afraid to write of love in this society. It would be misconstrued as propanda, politically incorrect and I would be shot.

That said. I will write you and you alone a love poem, if only you keep it as a secret hidden in your heart. You must promise to whisper your response. And I will reply with a wink knowing that as yet the spy satellites aren't calibrated for a wink. And don't tell the children because they may be questioned one day. It is hard enough for them knowing that their parents and their parents parents are afraid. They're already too afraid to even know why they're afraid. Best to leave them that way until the loneliness makes them question why only television people are free.


Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains. Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712-78

What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist. Salmon Rushdie 1947 -

If I can't love Hitler, I can't love at all. Rev. A. J. Muste 1885-1967

And love's the noblest frailty of the mind. John Dryden 1631-1700

Dirty Pictures

A psychiatrist showed one Rorsharck ink blot card to a patient after another. The patient answered that each one was some form of bizarre sex. The psychaitrist said, "you seem to have sex on your mind." "You're the one showing me the dirty pictures,"answered the patient.

Friday, January 9, 2009

City of Men

I just watched "City of Men", the 2008 Brazillian movie, directed by Paulo Morelli, starring Douglas Silva as Acerola and Darlan Cunha as Larinjinha filmed on location in Dead End Hill of Rio de Janeiro. I'd been moved by the 2003 City of God movie about modern Rio de Janeiro. Channel surfing I got caught by producer Merielles follow up.

Two young fatherless friends, one turning 18 while the other hardly older and a father of the toddler, "Clayton" struggle with their own fatherless identities. Clayton is clearly as little impressed by his father's struggle with whether to be a father as the mother who must leave to earn a living. This deep and touching friendship with all the forced ethical development plays out against the background of shallow gangster war, crime and poverty. Having no intention but to watch a minute before going early to bed tired from a long days work, I watched the movie to the end inspired by the characters, the generational and family stories weaving in this exciting tale of urban survival.

My dad is 90. He told me on the phone how much he enjoyed feeding carrots to elk through the car window at a game park my brother took him to last week. Listening to the sadness and longing of these Brazilian boys I appreciated again having my Dad. He was always working and my brother and I were often his assistants whether it was fixing trucks and cars or building boats. He was a doer if ever there was a doer. A self sufficient man, a leader who at times had a hundred or more men working for him. Ex air force we felt the effects of the military training in the home but God the weekends could be wonderful. Toboganning, skating, playing catch. Following him everywhere in the woods. My brother, older got in behind him and if Iwas day dreaming the dog would get ahead of me. The rifle ranges, boy scouts, canoeing and duck blinds. Always the pick up truck and projects upon projects. Mom was ubiquitous and somehow always there. Camping and road trips were family favourites. It only got better when grandad was there, with grandma, the uncles and aunts and all the cousins. Then it was a whole lot of Dad's family and big tables of food and laughter. I liked my father's family. The ranchers and cowboys and loggers. There's a whole lot of good memories and pride of name that goes with knowing my Dad.

It's good when a movie speaks to the depth of the unseen. My dad was like clean air and safe water. It's easy to forget that's not the world all grow up in. Thanks to the men making this movie we can hope for Clayton as he toddles in uncertainty between these two fatherless sons.
It is a wise father that knows his own son. William Shakespeare 1564 -1616
Don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your father had an accident there, he was put into a pie by Mrs. McGregor. Beatrix Potter 1866 - 1943

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Jan.8, 2009 - Imagine

I met him again at the Brandon Psychiatric Asylum in the late 80’s. He recognized me instantly when I had to work hard at first to remember who he was. So many years had passed in my lifetime since I’d last seen him.
It was circa 1969-1970. He was “cool” then, “high” and dealing pot at a local Guess Who concert. I was making music with some guys and he lived upstairs from us. We all shared the common bath in the house with the lesbians next door
His conversation and appearance hadn’t really changed. He still had his pony tail but was a bit bald on top.
I on the other hand was the staff psychiatrist in a suit and tie and no longer wearing the tie die shirts he was still sporting. He raved about the asylum food being really great and wanted to show me his very own room. I followed him down the institutional halls to where his single bed and chair with the metal side table was. A cassette deck radio belted out tinny 60’s songs.
He told me he still wanted to see the Beatles. “That’s my greatest ambition, man”. When I said, “they’ve broken up, and Lennon’s dead.” he’d looked really seriously at me and shook his head.
“Naw, man, not you too.”
Then he walked away back down the empty hall in his own world where Lennon still lived and the Beatles were ever together.
I thought, there but for the grace of God go I. I wondered too if his “zen” wisdom back in those “good ole days” hadn’t just been early schizophrenia.
On the other hand I had to wonder as I hurried off, harried as ever, running from one medical crisis to the next and always just one step ahead of the taxman, if he didn’t have
the better deal. A room of his own, three square, John Lennon alive, the Beatles still together , and the taxman paying.

2009 Poem

It’s a new year.
It’s unwashed.
Unsoiled. Unused.
No one else wanted it?
Free to the taker.
Given to the old and the young alike.
Offered up to criminals and saints.
Just as it is.
Unmoulded. Uncut. A tabula Rosa.
Not even a hand me down.
A gracious gift indeed
But whatever.
Not particularly special
As everyone has one.
But don’t turn your back on it
It’s demanding by the nano second
Shouting to be taken seriously
Actively inviting play
Scorning work
And over far too soon as one gets to know them
Unequivocal at first
Then something to be cherished
And sought after.
I’m making mine something for sure
I don’t know what
But it’s going to be something.
It’s going to be the best year
That ever was.
You wait and see.
I’m going to make it

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Addiction Psychiatry

The exciting thing about addiction psychiatry is that it is truly biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual. When I left family practice in the country and community medicine for psychiatry that and immunology were the fields of discovery with the most apparent greatest depth and breadth.
I was not prepared for psychiatry to become a kind of second class pseudo neurology for poly "feel good" pharmacology. Comfortable with psychopharmacology , I still enjoyed the contributions of anthropology, epidemiology,chemistry, biology, neurosciences, developmental psychology, sociology, cultural, philosophical and theological considerations that were so much a part of my training. Individuals were seen as multifacetted diamonds in the rough. The coping mechanisms of the mentally ill, the deranged, the deviants, diseased and impaired, the outcasts and the marginalized were all understood as adaptation. If someone was particularly offensive my teachers taught me to ask how this behaviour had been necessary to the development of the individual. Alternatively I was asked what it was about my supposedly tolerant and civilized upbringing that would cause me to be so judgemental about this clearly human presentation. Was I really sure that my way was the best way? I was taught the story of the Diogenes the philosopher who asked by Alexander the Great, "is there anything I can do for you?" replied, "you can step aside so as not to keep the sunshine from me". Such self sufficiency as Thoreau at Walden Pond was as important to a psychaitrist's development as the book, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, Kill him."
It was the heyday of medicine and we dreamed of Canada leading the world in healing. We didn't see her as sending the little sister soldiers to big brother America's conflicts. Rather we envisioned Canadian hospitals ships and a space age medical corp, and peacekeepers world reknown for their daring rescues. We felt that as Canadians we could best serve the world by wedding the remarkable education systems and multicultural environment to the task of curing disease. The canadian medical system was foremost in the world not where it sits today with increasing waitlists and patients paying for everything but the most basic services out of pockets which of course the ill by nature of illness experience as sorely depleted
As psychiatrists we hoped to find the means to bring compromise and resolution to the world conflicts. We were immersed in systems theory as well as genetics, endocrinology and neurology. We had experience and authority in peace not war . We could share this we thought with regions who did not know the meaning of 'sweet boredom' of the peace we knew in Canada. We hoped to get to the core of the terror of schizophrenia and then apply this learning to the world at large. Paranoia as a paradigm explained so much of the greed, hoarding, war and hunger in the world. We had such high hopes. We were idealistic and humanitarian.
Then the beaurocracy took over or something. Suddenly administrations redefined healthcare as political expenditures and for profit models. The question became how do we promise the tax payer health care, give them something else and charge them for both. Politics was pigeon holing all doctors in the dinosaur realities of archaic reductionist fear driven paradigms. Truth became a things of the past. Overnight we'd gone from the sublime to the me Jane, you Tarzan world of brute force and big is better. Rather than serving as consultants with the genius that comes from long years of reflection, intense debate, and in depth experience with basic research and love of learning we were suddenly poorly paid slaves to the fickle self serving designs of pillagers who claimed survival of the fitness was the only true religion. There would no more be anything but "applied research and the university medical school was nothing more than a glorified 'trade school' and factory.
How could psychiatry serve the war machine? Would euthansia be a more humane 'solution' for the mentally ill? Wasn't it a shame that lobotomies were out of favour? Everywhere it was 'what's the bottom line", and ironically these superstar exhorbitantly expensive business "managerial" brains did not so much as create anything but steal by sleight of hand and word and deed. Financial wrangling was just that, the whole white collar casino of stocks and phony bonds. The answer to world peace was Vegas!
It seemed that the whole of psychiatry was being consumed by this corporate madness which made psychiatrists the distribution salesmen for the latest pill promise of happiness and the patient customer consumer who needed to be told what to do by slick marketting. Psychiatrists were suddenly expected to compete with the street drug dealers who had with cocaine, alcohol, cannibis, nicotine, opiates, and benzodiazepines. Some psychaitrists were demanding head office send them more than antidepressants if they were supposed to have any hope of a market edge as police were increasingly refusing to work for the pharmaceutical industry chasing down the competition. No wonder people preferred "alternative" psychiatry given the limits of the proposed paradigm of 'feel good' is 'good'.
Thank God, Addiction psychiatry came along and again said there's no such simplistic answer to life. No perfect pill. No quick fix. No instant happiness. Simple answers, yes. But no simplistic solutions that could come in a cereal box despite the marketting. The individual problems again were seen as community problems. The mind problem was a brain problem as well. Addiction was the microcosm for the macrocosm. The heart and soul were overnight restored to adult psychiatry.
Once more there was this place where relationship was as important as illusion and the question 'what is enough' was being asked had surfaced. Not just as 'resource management' but rather in terms of Maslow and Seligman. Moderation was again a central theme of medicine. A different kind of reasoning was being asked for in this era of emotional, spiritual and cultural intelligence. Collaboration and respect was demanded but not for the 'position authority' of insignia but more for the scars and tattoos of experience.
Not surprisingly an individual 'cured' of an addiction would re acquire that same addiction if they were subjected to the same environment so family, community, friends, work and schools all became involved in the psychiatric process. The term psychosomatics returned as mind body realizations derived from modern PET and fMRI scans.
Addiction psychiatry simply understood the hypothalamus, amygdala and nucleus accumbens a whole lot better. The 'war on drugs' had played a liars game with little to show for their multi billion dollar claim that they could make society safe. Diversion judgements instead worked as did drug free work zones, treatment centres, 12 step programs and mentorships, education, motivation therapy and new medications as well as old time detox. Addiction psychiatry worked!
The joy of addiction psychiatry was that the debate and discussion was again occuring at all levels. And most importantly the addicts and the recovered, the children and the adults were encouraged to participate in the dialogue and solutions. There were none holier than thou. There were no pompous 'healthy' people in addiction psychiatry just those who were healthier and a little further along life's convoluted journey. A famous addiction psychiatrist said to a heroin addict, "I don't know what it's like to be addicted to heroin but I'm having problems myself with my addiction to worrying." The "my brain is better" and "your brain is sick" paradigm of pharmacist psychiatry held no sway where everyone could see the continuum clearly. The very foundations of desire and relationship with one's fellow man in the pursuit of happiness and resources was being questioned once again. The mechanisms that were associated with overeating were little different than those associated with alcoholism. The essence of pleasure was again being explored while what was happiness was a challenge to a world gone mad. Was love only lust and the soul only the brain or was there something more. Evolution and devolution competed openly in addiction psychaitry with the discussions not presumed to be known 'a priori' by those above everyone else's pay grade.
Daily in clinical practice, one on one, the addiction psychiatrist had to answer "who am I to question this man's addiction to death when I myself may be no better in my addiction to life". Thanatos or Eros? The teeter totter tug of war or dance of love. Here the healing began. At the front lines. And I loved it after the sterile stupidity of one shoe fits all. The healing was in the process.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I am sad and disheartened that there is war again in the middleast. It's not news. It's bad manners. Next year Christians should collectively indiscriminately and arbitrarily go to war with the Buddhists on Ramadan and Honaka. If tribal people want to fight make them fight on their own holy days.

As to a solution, it's obvious. New England is unlikely to invade California. California doesn't know anything exists outside it's borders. So the US should send the Grand Canyon over to the Middle East to keep the two sides apart. They need geography more than they need military aid.

Given the excess of Chinese, as the US has already hit them up for money, perhaps the Middle east could hit them up for adult supervision. Send one Chinese person for every citizen in the middle east with the directions to slap the fingers of anyone, and I mean anyone, playing with bombs. We're likely to see better results than any of the pathetic political solutions to date.

As this is the worst kindergarden bullying ground on the planet, rather than sending more politicians over, a delegation of elementary principals with some kindergarden kid consultants might make a far more lasting and intelligent solution than all that have yet been proposed. If that doesn't work threaten to cut off MTV.

Both sides are being brats and their allies are no better. That said there are a lot of good people living over there and they shouldn't have to be subjected to the delinguents carrying on without consideration for anyone but themselves. Stop already. Grow up and become boring like Canadians.

"It's better to jaw-jaw than to war-war." Winston Churchill
"Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive." C.S.Lewis

Monday, January 5, 2009


She was waiting for him.

He didn’t know what hit him.

When he woke she had duck taped him to the chair. She was sitting across from him on a stainless steel lab stool. She had long legs in knee high suede boots, black turtle neck sweater, arms crossed, long black hair, high cheek bones, full lips, steady blue eyes. He watched her, head aching.

“What do you want?”, he asked.

She stood up and placed one long finger on his lips.

“I’ll ask the questions.”

She turned and walked back to the counter by the sink where she picked up a lap top computer. She brought it back and placed it on a stainless steel tray next to him. He turned to look at what she wanted him to see. They were clearly MRI scans.

“I want to know about these,” she said

“What do you want to know,” he asked pulling against the tape.

“All of it,” She said sitting back in the chair across from him. She had a scalpel in her hand now he’d not seen before. Her eyes bore through him.

“What are you doing?”

“All of it, “ she repeated.

He looked back at the MRI.

“I wasn’t a part of it. I just read the films. It’s a slow growing tumor that’s caused by a virus. I had nothing to do with it.”

“They didn’t know, did they?” she asked.

“No. They would have acquired the virus years before.”

“When the patients were in the hospital.”


“A psychiatry ward?”


“How did you know?” she moved the scalpel to her other hand.

“I didn’t know for sure. I guessed. It’s a rare tumor. When I looked for older films they all came from the same hospital. The psychiatric facility and they all had the same doctor. ”

She didn’t answer him, just slowly moved the scalpel to her other hand.

“And you only read the films?”.


She cut the duck tape off one of his arms leaving the scalpel in his free hand.

Then she was gone, high heeled boot sounding in the empty corridor.

He guessed he could have called someone. Especially after he read the morning paper.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Jan. 4, 2009 - Sunday

I like this picture of a duck. I took it in Stanley Park. There's a pond called Lost Lagoon at the city's edge of that park. When I lived on my sailboat in Coal Harbour I walked my dog round Lost Lagoon all winter taking along a camera and snapping shots of the ducks, geese and swan. I liked owning a dog because he took me for walks. In addition he ate all my left overs. Together that accounted for the slimmer waistline.
My cat's idea of a walk with a leash is being dragged. We agreed a long time ago to not subject each other to this embarrassment. Besides she's houdini with collars and harnesses. Given her preferred attire you'd think she grew up on Wreck Beach with hippie cat parents. Truth is I bought her from a reputable Vancouver Broadway pet store. Right now she has smelt the Safeway barbecued chicken I bought on the way home from Christ Church Cathedral. Rupert Lang and the choir put out another CD that sold out first day. My cat sings but it's not what one would call 'choral' music."
Now ,the cat is trying very hard to say "chicken" but it's coming out like 'meow".
I'd better get down to sharing the chicken with her. I just wanted to share this duck, too. The cat's carnivorous and not into into the esthetics of birding. She's also a liar. She tells me routinely she just wants to go out on the deck and 'talk' to the pigeons. The pigeons have her number and don't want to 'talk' with her.
Sometimes talk isn't the answer. The United States should give up the Grand Canyon to some places in the world that really need it. It's been a long time since New England even considered invading California. California long ago forgot that anything existed outside it's borders. So let the middle east or some other underpriviledged place have the Grand Canyon. I'm sharing my duck. The cat's getting chicken. Enough talk, already!

An honest politician is one who when he's bought stays bought. Simon Cameron 1799-1889

Thursday, January 1, 2009


"Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds" William Shakespeare

Thank heavens we're here again. Another year to come. And last year did not vear off into outerspace or parallell universes despite all dire warnings. The politicians couldn't find anyone to sell the year off to either. It wasn't outsourced. No doubt it will go into some antique year storage shop somewhere and wait for a buyer. Might well turn up at a garage sale. For now though it's properly there in my memory at least. Not a particularly good year but a whole year and not one bit less. Given dementia's dislike of the new and love of the old, there's a good chance I'll keep it. Who can say about this year?

I suspect reading Scientific American's special issue on Time that Augustine knew as much as we do. It's really uncertain if tomorrow even is present. Best minds suggest that the Improbability Drive used in Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy is indeed propelling Mother Earth.

My best guess is tomorrow is a compromise position on the best wishes and dreams of Jung's collective unconscious. The suicides and homicides cancel each other out and we're left with mostly harmless. Given the old's infantile rage, resentment, covettting and greed are cancelled out by children's dreams for ponies and huggy bears, we're not doing too badly Despite television coverage, most of the earth most of the time is not at war. Even given the anti baby attitudes of DINKS and Yuppies, the population explosion speaks better for Columbus than Malthus. Maybe this year I'll get my porsche space ship.

I wish you all your dreams. If the rapture gets you before me, can I have your stuff? Now that my mother's in heaven there's little chance she'll let me go elsewhere. Global warming is obviously a product of Latin Lovers and Hollywood Hellfire. Right now it's not Canada's problem. It would be as silly to ask Winnipeggers to join a campaign to save mosquitoes from extinction. May you dream of love and joy and laughter the whole year through! God bless. Here's to another awesome adventure! Raise up those glasses of buttermilk and vote for Harley Engines on Wheelchairs. Move over world, we're coming through!