Friday, February 27, 2009

BC Ballet Survived

What a relief that BC Ballet survived! John Alleyne's company is a tribute to the world of dance. After a decade or so of Royal Winnipeg Ballet, so many performances of National Ballet, American Dance Theatre, Harlem and one night of the most spectacular Baryshnikov, I've still never failed to be thrilled by BC Ballet. Goldberg Variations, world premier by James Kudelka was true choreography genius. Modern and traditional juxtaposed in ways never before seen. While the Corps de Ballet performed leaps and pirouettes the extraordinary trio of Jones Henry, Shannon Smith and Simone Orlando danced post modern permutations of love as only Freud and Martha Graham might fully appreciate. Goldberg Variations was well rewarded with resounding applause, whistles and cheers as the dancers bowed again and again. Jean Grand Maitre's erotically sizzling Carmen followed in the second half. Marianne Baue-Grobelaar's tarty and passionate performance was rife with exacting lifts performed by the powerful Shannon Smith while the divine dancing of Makaila Wallace made a fine counterpoint. The sets of Gauillaume Lord were sensational. Nancy Bryants costume design for Golderg Variations was as uniquely sensually cerebral as Martine Bertrands for Carmen were colourfully visceral. Applause poured forth as Carmen walked slowly from the stage. The applause for the night continued after the company took their final bows. When the Queen Elizabeth Theatre curtain finally closed I knew I'd just been present at one of the greatest nights of choreography and dance. Truly art incarnate! The BC Ballet tonight was unsurpassed!

On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;

No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet

To chase the glowing hours with flying feet. Lord Byron 1788-1824

Nonpharmacological Treatment of Anxiety

There are many non pharmacological means to treat anxiety. Each of these has true scientific validity and have been shown in a wide variety of studies to have therapeutic value.
The first to consider is exercise. A half hour of aerobic exercise two to three times a week has an equivalent anti anxiety effect to taking the standard anti anxiety medication that most physicians would prescribe. A scientific study compares one group, the test group with the non test, or control group. A measurement for anxiety has been used at the beginning of a study and used again at the end of the study to see which group had changes. It's by this method that exercise has been demonstrated to reduce overall anxiety. Of course, we all might intuitively know this but knowing something doesn't get most of us off the couch. The studies are supposed to be 'convincing' . Even convinced I'd rather be anxious and lie on the couch with the channel changer at times.
Which brings us to cognitive therapies. Aaron Beck, a brilliant researcher in mood and anxiety, demonstrated that what we 'feel' is really a product of what we think. He was the developer of cognitive therapy which is an educational therapeutic process of reprogramming our minds to be more positive and less anxiety prone. His student, Burns, wrote the book, Feeling Good, followed by the blue Workbook of the same name and many well earned international engagements. Simply reading Feeling Good makes people less anxious. It details the work of Aaron Beck and explains not surprisingly that if we don't delete the many 'cognitive distortions' from our mental apparatus we simply won't feel good and we'll continue to shoot ourselves in the mental foot so to speak. Bradshaw an earlier therapist described the ways children learned these negative patterns of thinking which Freud had earlier included in his famous 'repetition compulsion' explanations for how the unconscious programs affected the behaviour of individuals who consciously would not act as they did if they could. Cognitive therapy aims at identifying these anxiety provoking mental 'viruses' and deleting them. My personal favourite is the 'sky's falling', otherwise known as catastrophising or making a mountain out of a molehill. If I hear an unusual noise in my car engine my tendency, possibly learned from my father, is to instantaneously assume the worst, and see myself with a huge car bill for ghastly repairs assuming I don't get killed in a horrible car crash en route to the garage. "Disqualifying the positive" is another of my personal favourites in which I hear dozens of compliments from family and friends but ignore those comments in favour of dwelling on a negative criticism from a stranger who might also be an absolute idiot.
A course in cognitive therapy can be likened to a cleansing enema for the bowels. The difficulty however is to resist returning to the well honed negative patterns of reacting as a constipated personality especially under stress. These negative 'habits' of thinking were once beneficial and adaptive and have a basis in truth so aren't easily let go of and are strangely comforting as one might find the 'devil' we know to the 'unknown'. Consequently modern researchers picking up from where religious scholars left off have looked at how we program our brains on a daily basis.
The Biblical Phillipians 4 states, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -think about such things." Indeed this is the essence of Cognitive therapy but it was writtent 2000 years ago and still needs to be reframed and used. To this end it is best to consider the anxious self as a sick stomach and be very careful and testing about what one feeds the mind. Alternatively one can consider oneself 'allergic' and observe if watching the movie Carrie doesn't just leave you hiding in your room for days. Fatal Attraction might instead of entertaining you make it impossible for you to be in the same room as your girlfriend. There are times for all these things but there's a balance too so that too many vampire movies could make one suspicious and anxious about working in a Transylvania shipping firm. Also reading news of the .000000001% of the planet brutally murdered or anally probed on a daily basis might not bring 'peace of mind'. Alot of changes in what and who one associates with goes along way to reducing overall anxiety.
Drugs and alcohol initially help with anxiety and are often described as 'self medicating' but unfortunately they're a poor substitute for long term means of reducing anxiety and can cause one severe damage in so many ways as they cause one to ignore the message the body might be sending about danger. Consider a drink is like 5 mg of valium and consider that so many people feel they need the equivalent of 20 to 40 mg or more of valium to be with their supposed friends or lovers supposedly some 'safe' place where they insist they're having a good time. Gag me with a spoon! Maybe stopping the booze and waking up to who your real friends are (not the bar tender or drug dealer, for instance) and asking yourself or seeing a counsellor to talk about what life you really want, would be better than increasing the amount of self medication to stay in this definitely unhealthy scenario. The trouble with pain killers of any kind is that pain is a protective response and while morphine can stop the pain it might also result in one continuing to do what causes more damage. Alot of short term gain priorities are simply down right foolish when one considers that the majority of people live to 70 and life is more of a marathon than a sprint. Maybe a job or a girl or guy really isn't worth dying for even if you could do it with just another drink or drug to get you through the immediate 'anxiety'.
Light is very important for reducing anxiety. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) lites have been proven to benefit a wide variety of people who may not have depression but have anxiety. Dr. Seligman whose incredible on line site "Authentic Happiness' years ago showed in his "learned helplessness' models the connection between anxiety and depression. Anxiety was the internal response to an external threat which even if countered over time would use up the resources in the brain for self soothing and lead to a depressive state of 'learned helplessness'.
On his site Seligman shows the association between resentments and anxiety. The essence of Buddhism is that desire leads to suffering and expectations have been the source of much resentment. Reality testing is the means whereby one reviews the facts about the expectations one has and recognises how unrealistic expectations can lead to anxieties.
In relationships Gottman at the famous Love Lab has shown that being in the company of partners who are constantly demeaning, 'cutting the heads off others to make themselves look taller,' naturally leads to feelings of anxiety along with feelings of low self esteem and worthlessness. Homicidal or suicidal behaviour can definitely follow. Assertive behaviour was akin to Gandhi's non violence techniques, not in themselves aggressive but refusing to accept or be in the presence of those who constantly and repeatedly were negative. Unfortunately many social bullies who took assertiveness training turned around and used it to justify their dramatic reactions and refusal to accept any feedback especially constructive feedback.
Not surprisingly new solutions create a new set of problems and alot of anxiety is a product of failure to change in face of new circumstances. Selye, the famous guru of stress management correctly indicated that our brain was developed on a primal mammalian mainframe which was fine tuned for quick reactions to saber tooth tiger attacks and not at all well developed to the seige attacks of governments, beaurocrats and law courts. These institutional threats 'wear' one down like droughts and plagues if one continues to respond to them as if they were 'real' ,as in your 'eviction' is happening tomorrow. More commonly their responses are 'or else' and ' we will take action so you had better panic if you know what's good for you." The aim of these social terrorists is to scare you and yet if you react to every one of their increasingly silly threats which arrive in the mail on a daily basis then you shouldn't be surprised that your body collapses in paralysis and each week you feel like you've fought a dozen saber toothed tigers.
This goes with all the fear mongering messages about 'gloom and doom' and 'the world's going to end' if you don't send a cheque to the "save the world today people." "Don't you care?!" Governments, beaurocracies, institutions and corporations are commonly rude, ignorant, insensitive, grandiose, arrogant, anti social megalomaniacs that routinely make mistakes and threaten all manner of people including the planet itself. It's essential not to take this personally and to recognise that if you responded to all their simultaneous demands you'd die and they wouldn't care at all. They don't care about you, as say your mother might. The key is to realize that you're not alone. Nobody really cares for them and yet we all tolerate them because there's something intrincially addictive about having roads or credit cards or shopping at Wal mart. It's just important not to let them ruin your day with their cacophony of demands and complaints after promising you the world if you used them. Reducing anxiety is keeping things like these monsters in perspective.
Good friends - The philosoper Cicero and many after have emphasized the importance of friends to happiness which itself can also be described as reduced anxiety. Things weren't as valuable in the long run as the company of friends or the power of relationships. Cicero commented on the irritability and general unhappiness of the very rich of Rome. In contrast he pointed to the comfort and joy of non judgemental companions joining for the sharing of tales.
Obviously massage lowers anxiety but the trick is getting someone to do this for you or being able to pay for the service. Making the money for a service or thing might in the long run not be worth the anxiety produced by that process as Thoreau in Walden Pond so critically explored.
Skin to skin contact is anxiety reducing. This alone might explain contact sports. Unfortunately outside of the tropics people are rarely in such close proximity except for sex which itself is anxiety reducing however cuddling, hugging and hand holding without culminating in sex go along way to reducing anxiety. Sex, while definitely reducing anxiety can itself be anxiety provoking if one had expected just to shake hands during the peace in church for instance and the stranger you shake hands with assumes this is a cue for a public orgy. Shaking hands is shaking hands. Hugging is hugging. Taking off one's clothes and their clothes and climbing into beds for purposes other than sleep is sex. And sex between mutually consenting adults, even if it isn't particular good sex, is still in the long run anxiety reducing. Evidence suggests that sex alone may be anxiety reducing even if it lacks a certain 'je ne sais pas.'
Talking therapies, psychodramas, music therapies, body therapies, neurotherapy, bio feedback, acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, 12 step programs and community have alll been shown to be anxiety reducing.
Herbert Benson in the 70's demonstrated the validity of "Relaxation Response" in lowering blood pressure. His work was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and was a cornerstone in the psychosomatic awareness that said, frankly, the toe bone is connected to the head bone. Rahe and Holmes in their classic stress studies showed that major changes good or bad could accumulate rapidly and this could lead to anxiety and stress being experienced organically. Cancer, heart disease, infectious disease, accidents have all be shown to be associated with anxiety. Chronic anxiety can reduce immunological response by at least 30% leaving one vulnerable to all manner of physical disease.
Now, if I were to be a rich doctor with sound business sense I'd encourage you to be anxious about anxiety and say it's going to kill you unless you listen to me and buy whatever product I'm selling this week. Instead , I'd prefer to sit with a begging bowl in some of my favourite spots on the earth but others rarely go there reducing the likelihood of sustenance and eventually government officials would find me and license that part of the earth or say I was trespassing. Being alone and having some time for oneself and time for God or whatever you might call your higher power is as anxiety reducing as prayer or reflecting on what your fundamental belief system is about life, or as Harold Kushner might ask why "bad things happen to good people'. I laughed when I was anxious about a divorce proceeding and a friend said ,"looking for justice in the courts is like looking for love in a brothel." Laugher and good humor are anxiety reducing. For men looking at breasts is too. My fundamental belief system about governments, courts and indeed my 'higher power' had to change or I'd be forever be a 'victim' rather than a 'survivor' and forever fearing death when the classic 'Denial of Death' insists it's coming regardless. There's no need to rush to death as death will find you. Anyday this side of the grass is a good day. Anxiety is real but while Jesus didn't say alot of things people claim he did, he most adamently commanded "Do not be afraid". The song 'Don't Worry. Be happy" may be simplistic but it's nonetheless true. Life is to be worn like a loose robe. Anxiety is to be avoided, used to re direct our lives perhaps, but not to be dwelled on or worse nursed. That said, there are medications which can treat anxiety but even the people who make these medications would prefer you couple their use with healthy living.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Feb.24, 2009 - Oh God! Book II

Oh God, Book II (1980) with George Burns and Susanne Pleshette played on TV tonight. I heard a long day of misery and liked hearing God's explaination for suffering in this delightful uplifting movie. "I never could make things one sided." Without dark, no light, without sadness, there goes happiness, etc. Of course I liked God on a motorcycle. Louanne, the child, steals the show with her truthfullness and faith. God as a psychiatrist was something else as well. But they're still banning God in schools and alot of places Different from the school I grew up in. I thought banning things was out of hand back then and there but didn't figure the censors would infiltrate Canada and the US so deeply. Used to be what fascists and communists did. Maybe God will have to be banned before people protect their freedoms. Think God is a good start. Maybe Live God would be an even better sequel.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Feb. 22, 2009 - W.

I admit I didn't like George Bush at the end. Generally speaking I've been against war since I realized the greater threat was 'friendly fire' and 'war for profit' became a thing of the present. That said, I've liked him since he's been gone and felt the same about the older Bush, Reagan, and Clinton. I'm really happy about Obama but the way these American 'Golden Bough' presidency's go I'll probably get tired of him and likely only like him again after some other guy gets in. I felt the same for Troudeau, though I didn't care much for Chretien. Mulroney had me at the start and I've liked Harper some. I'm politically gullible and hoping for change and improvement. I've been disappointed alot but the wars themselves just seem to get sleazier.
Now Oliver Stone has made a film about George W. Bush and I found George more endearing in the movie than I'd mostly found him in life. Oliver Stone was a Vietnam Bronze Medal and Purple Heart winner who volunteered for combat duty in the infantry in Vietnam. I've loved his academy award winning movies Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. Scarface and Natural Born Killers were also brilliant.
The portrayal of George W. has it's flaws but I really appreciated his love for his wife and family, for the American people and the depth of his Christian faith. It wasn't sinister and it really could have been sinister. There are definitely those who believe the American White House has long been under the control of aliens, the same ones who abducted Elvis. Their ideas are at least as convincing as Bush's WMD inventions. The film's explanation for the whole WMD scenario was itself worth the price of admission.
Stone's portrayal of Bush was very human. I liked that. In the end it was 'friendly fire' that got Bush too.
My Dad phoned to tell me that Obama had been visitting in Ottawa. That was real neighbourly of him. The Stone film didn't mention Canada at all. We just have humbly take it for granted when Americans refer to a higher power they're thinking in part of Canada. It's not like they ever go out of their way to admit their inferiority. Bush was as American as Stone in that regard. If the movie's a bit condescending at times, obviously Stone's lifelong struggle with drugs would be sufficient to explain his envy for a man who'd put alcohol long behind him for the sake of his family and country. There was a bit too much psychological reductionism with regard to the Bush family who are one of the truly great families of history. W. by Oliver Stone would be a great film if only because of the subject matter. As it is Stone's a great filmmaker, too.

Feb.22,2009 - Mechanics

Saturday seemed like a good day to take the Harley motorcycle for a spin over to the boat, take a run in the dinghy and maybe even start up the sailboat diesel engine. Note the operative word, "idea". Einstein said, "genius is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration". The Secret encourages us to 'manifest' our reality. Lots of people really do think that there are people who would line up to buy their 'idea'. Some live their lives on the couch smoking shit that makes them think their 'ideas' are real. These 'legends in their own minds' are also the best 'critics' of what everyone else is actually doing.

In reality machines have minds of their own. The Harley wasn't impressed with the last freezing cold ride to Abbotsford and had gone back to hibernating. Neutral, choke out, crank, crank, sputter, dying lights. The battery should have more charge than that! Tool kit. 5 million 2hundred and 41 things called spanners or wrenches. In keeping with official Canadian language policy the toolkit is bilingual, SAE and Metric. The socket wrench set has several more thousand pieces. I hire a sherpa and head into the tool box for a week or two and come back with the treasure that releases the battery strap. After that it's down hill unhooking the terminals and running the battery upstairs to the charger.

A few hours later and a half dozen tasks of daily living completed I'm back at the bike connecting the battery and cleaning connections between the battery and alternator. As well I've brought polaroid shots of the sunny outdoors and news broadcasts from several different sources to lay out in front of the bike. I think the picture of the happy Triumph enjoying the sunshine does it. When I crank over the engine it literally purrs into that resounding happy Harley thump,thump,thump, thump.

I left the bike running while I returned to the high rise apartment and donned all the motorcycle gear like a kid getting into a Winnipeg winter snow suit. The girl was equally attired by this time having spent the morning in the bath.

The ride to Trev Deely Motorcycles was sensational. At Trev's I sat on a half dozen bigger bikes practicing the Secret and trying to manifest the $25,000 spare change I'd need for one of these beauties. While I'm in the parts department the girl has been to the Harley fashion boutique. I walk out with a new battery and she's got a pair of Harley designer slacks with logo.

Another glorious ride over Second Narrows to North Vancouver. It's really hard to resist the urge to keep going. A Harley is forever calling back at you, "Alaska, boss, can we go to Alaska? Mexico, nice this time of the year, Boss?"

My GIRI, the Folkes steel sailboat, is still there where I left it. I'm always glad to see that. I once came back and it had dragged anchor across a bay, having decided to go on it's own walkabout, obviously bored with where I'd left it.

The dinghy was naturally, in parts. I had to attach the pontoons to the hard body. There's probably some special grease for this task but I used mazola oil because the bottle was handy. Given the proliferation of KY Jelly in grocery stores it's time a single lonely engineer should write a paper on it's lubricant properities for non human application. When I 'm doing mechanics with the guys we use all manner of sexual terms for discussing the putting things in other things. She was doing really well pushing the tubing into the other side of the steel dinghy base. I wasn't about to distract her with the usual useful references.

To inflate the dinghy I then needed a pump. The pump of course was buried 3 miles down in the lazarette under all the "other stuff". Pumping the tubing with air is tiring after a winter of sloth. But the inflated dinghy was a thing of beauty. It was just that I'd forgotten to get the paddles, water pump, life jackets and gas can from under all the 'other stuff' when I was down there in the lazarette the first time. Several expeditions later I had everything but the Yamaha 4 hp motor which I'd locked to the boat and hidden the keys for. It is true, I am forever hiding keys from myself. Eventually I found them, probably in the first place a thief would look, and got the motor from the big boat to the little boat wrenching back and arms and hitting anything that could be hit with the propeller end.

While I connected the engine to the dinghy I remembered the previous trauma of dropping an outboard over the side and watching $1000's of dollars slip way. Thankful to have the engine now on the dinghy I yanked hard on the rope crank. Immediately I realized if I yanked it again while the engine was still engaged I would surely dislocate my shoulder. With engine disengaged I began yanking interminably on the rope crank, eventually remembering the switch that tells the engine that the fuel is coming from the outside tank not the empty inside tank. This revelation on the verge of total exhaustion was followed by one last yank and the the joy of hearing the engine come alive at last as it began spitting water and chugging contentedly.

She stepped daintily into the boat and took her seat. She'd been trying on different boating jackets and checking her lipstick. For the next hour we toured Coal Harbour watching hundreds of seagulls take flight at our passage, joined by a seals and admired all the tug boats near my moorage. It was a sunny pristine day on the water. When that was done I got us back to the big boat. She stepped daintily out of the dinghy up onto the dock and said, 'that was realy fun." I then manhandled the dinghy onto the front of the sailboat leaving it inflated and ready to work as the tender it was meant to me. I then dragged the 4 hp engine, catching the propeller on every loose rope, to lock it on it's storage mounting having found the keys I'd already hidden.

The main Yanmar boat engine was another matter. I'd not run it since the year before but it finally turned over, pouring enough black smoke out of the exhaust to have the satellite cameras recording a terrorist attack on Second Narrows bridge. Then as if the effort was too much for it, the engine died. After a long while I concluded it needed fuel. With two tanks and various switches, I had the sneaky suspicion I'd turned the fuel off the year before for layaway, but now couldn't remember which switch. I had to work my way through the whole system till I got fuel into the pre engine filter only to realize the filter itself was solid varnish. Changing the filter and bleeding each of the points of the engine where air gets trapped,watching the bubbles spill out each time I hand cranked the engine, I finally was ready to start the engine again.

"Push this button, " I told her. "Yes," she said. Then I left her in the cockpit and went down to the engine to watch as it once again came alive. "Turn it off! Turn it off!" I called as diesel spurted into my face from a lose bleed screw. "How?" she called back, panic stricken. As I did the mechanics olympic dash between engine and starter, I thought, "you really should have told her that, too, you idiot!" "You pull this straight up." I said. "The red knob thing." She answered. I said yes, resisting further comment.. She pulled it straight up and the engine stopped. I cleaned up the diesel fuel, wiped off my face and tightened the screw. "Start the engine, " I called and the engine started first crank. After a while I joined her and told her she could pull on the red knob thing.

After that we closed up the boat and got back to the bike riding home to stop on Denman Street for Roosters incomparable take out or delivery chicken dinner. The di Caprio and Russel Crowe, movie, Body of Lies, was on Shaw pay per view. It had to be good for me to stay awake till the end. Every muscle ached and I proposed marriage to my bed not for the first time after mechanical work.

I was up early this morning praying that I'd not have any great ideas today thankful for the rain and understanding with new appreciation the Buddhist idea of 'no mind'. When I can stand up straight and walk without slanting sideways, and lift my arms without grimacing, I'm going to get over to my handy male friends and wait till one foolishly asks, 'what did you do yesterday,". Then I'll kind of let it slip like it was nothing, "Saturday was sunny, so I got the Harley running, drove over to the boat, got the dinghy together, the yamaha outboard running, took the dinghty for a spin and then got the big boat's Yanmar diesel engine running before calling it a day. What about you?" (I won't really care what they did.)

That one line was code that only an elite secret mechanic's society could understand. Outsiders wouldn't have a clue. These other friends of mine who have intimate relationships with machines would look at me for a long time. Then one would say with respect, "You must hurt today, eh". "Yea," I'd have to admit it. Then we'd all laugh knowing respect isn't something that can be bought.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Clean and Sober

It's not rocket science. First you must want to stop doing drugs and alcohol. Abstinence is the treatment of choice for alcohol and drug abuse. If you think you need to do 'something' about your drug and alcohol use, that's a pretty good sign it's abuse. If others say you should do something about it, then that's also a good sign. People who don't 'abuse' alcohol or drugs are not surprisingly rarely told they should do anything about it. Miller and Prochaska, in their now classic stages of Motivation for Change suggest others who think you should do something about your 'use' should first consider whether you're ready. People in 'precontemplation' phase would rather 'argue' with you about alcohol and drugs than stop them. Arguing, talking about, doing them is all one to them. When you're ready you're in the 'action' phase. Setting a date to stop and making a plan to stay stopped are good 'actions'.
For a lot of care givers the diagnosis of alcohol and drug abuse was generally, 'if the person drinks or uses more than you." Hence, alcohol and drug abuse is least commonly diagnosed by the often supposedly most trained. There are however people who specialize in the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse. They're called addictionists or addictionologists. In Canada the doctors have certification with the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine and in the US it's the American Society of Addiction Medicine. There's an academic sub group of psychiatry in the US called Addiction Psychiatry as there are counsellors who are called Drug and Alcohol Counsellors. Psychologists and social workers may claim to have 'training' but alot of 'claimed' training in drug and alcohol is done by people who say they're 'researching' when they are really just getting drunk or stoned. It's good to ask for some paper and question the experience before you trust just anyone who claims to be able to help you with your alcohol and drug problem.
A treatment centre is a place where one can go for weeks to a month or two. They're often expensive. It costs alot to house and feed anyone and the higher costing treatment centres don't usually have better treatment per se but rather much more attractive facilities and services. The Salvation Army has a treatment centre but it doesn't have a jacuzzi. Edgewood and Orchard are two of the local leading treatment centres in British Columbia Canada , equivalent in many ways to the famous Homewood of Quelph Ontario or the Betty Ford Clinic of Palm Springs. Talbot Campus or the Hazelton Treatment Centre in the states are considered standard prototypes for treatment. They've been around for decades and successfully treated thousands. In Vancouver, Pacifica Treatment Centre has the advantage of having government subsidy. Some very fine treatment centres are run by different religious groups or cultural groups and usually have very good success if they incorporate the main components of, say, the Minnesota Model. The principle role of a treatment centre is to separate you from your toxic environment and give you an intensive education in living clean and sober while confronting the main components in personality and behaviour that are most likely to cause early relapse.
The detox unit in contrast may be combined with a treatment centre or run separately and exist in a hospital or even as a clinic outreach. Detox is simply getting the drugs and alcohol physically out of your body safely. Delirium tremens is a life threatening condition that can easily arise from stopping alcohol cold turkey. Dr. Doug Coleman in New Westminister runs a Rapid Detox Service for opiate addiction. These facilities address the initial pain of acute withdrawal and are aimed at making one as comfortable as possible while separating you and your acquired brain parasite, otherwise known as your drugs of choice. . When I've been in charge of detox units I've sedated my patients as much as possible in the first 48 hours. I like the idea of having people 'sleep it off' and use ironically pharmacology to do this safely. Drug abuse and alcohol abuse is "not natural' and there is no 'natural way' to detox from serious abuse. There are only 'safe' and 'unsafe' ways. I prefer using the safe ways. The key to safe detox is really good nursing. I've been fortunate in working with the best. Indeed I have done home detox as well but only if I have had excellent family and nursing support. It's akin to the home delivery I used to do and as serious. Personally hospitals and detox units are simply really great facilities for what they do best.
Recovery houses are drug free living accomodations which provide group living facilities for people who have the advantage of partaking in an ongoing accountability program while returning to work and life in the community. They increase the long term success of treatment centres and are the treatment of choice for those who still relapse after having been in treatment centres.
Once one is drug free and can think about changing one's life ,what keeps one clean and sober. The key is group therapy or community. All long term follow up of success is associated with a group of non judgemental, non using friends. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are the gold standard for long term abstinence. SMART Recovery is a new group with good success in the first year using cognitive behavioural approaches as opposed to a 'spiritual' program. CELEBRATE, the Christian program and other 'faith based' programs of group therapy and community have also been successful. Individual therapy has the least success, not surprising given that perhaps the greatest therapist of all time, Freud, said that Alcoholics were untreatable. It's been summarized that 'you can't think your way out of bad actions but must act your way out of bad thinking'. It takes at least a year (four seasons) of continuous sobriety before the major cognitive distortions and triggers associated with addiction have been addressed. Vaillant, the leading Harvard researcher, said it was 5 years before people returned to the normals of the community of origin in behaviour and thinking. Not surprising, given that addiction has been called the 'cancer of the brain'. Thankfully today it is treatable. Abstinence is that treatment of choice.
Medications that can assist in this process are used directly in the detox phase by clinicians but others have been found to assist motivation and recovery in the first months. Those who can avoid use of medications have been shown in some studies to have the greatest success as they apparently focus most on the relationship and emotional issues which have been most negatively affected by addiction. Given that "oral fixation" and 'wanting the breast' have been terms used by psychoanalysts for the developmental regression of alcoholics and addicts, this same group is very much at risk for looking to a 'pill' or 'drink' to solve their predominantly 'life' and 'love' and 'work' problems. Nonetheless, empirically the following drugs have been shown to have benefit in the inititial treatment of alcohol and drug abuse: gabapentin, topiramate, naltrexone, and even old fashioned antabuse used voluntarily. A simple rule of thumb for what drugs not to use in the treatment of alcoholic and addicts in recovery is to ask if that drug has a 'street value" mark up before prescribing it. Antidepressant medications such as buproprion, mirtazepine, and trazadone have been useful too but only as protection and baseline. Antipsychotics such as seroquel have been beneficial for lingering paranoid ideation and sleep problems but clearly if you've stopped drugs and still think you're Superman you might benefit from the Concurrent or Dual Diagnosis programs affiliated with the best university Psychiatric Hospitals. The problem that clinicians encounter is that addicts and alcoholics who have not 'learned' how to handle anxiety are likened to fighters who used the 'guns" of alcohol and drugs to answer all their emotional problems and now must learn new coping and mood modulation techniques that everyone else who learned martial arts, wrestling and such did while holding the 'gun' as last reserve. No 'oral' solution will take the place of the 12 step programs of recovery or learning meditation, cognitive therapy, non abusive communication, exercise and good habits of normal living. Changing playmates, playbox and play toys and learning new games is the harder but most rewarding part of recovery.
So called 'harm reduction' strategies are first and foremost usually 'cheaper' alternatives and commonly promoted by governments and funding agents as equivalent to 'abstinence approaches'. They aren't 'equivalent' Abstinence after abuse is the gold standard. Where the argument arises reasonably is whether one can return to drinking or drugging after an extended periold of abstinence. Clearly there are those in the minority who can with perhaps no further deterioration in heath. The best studies though show that 50 % of those with 5 years of abstinence when they attempt to control their drinking run the greatest risk of returning to their previous levels of abuse or worse. As one fellow put it, while I was staying sober, my disease was in the parking lot taking steroids and doing push ups. Further very impressive studies have shown that the mental and emotionally and social health of those who remain abstinent surpass those who return to drinking and indeed in a highly significant number surpass the projections of where they might well have been without ever having drunk or drugged. A dentist friend with long term abstinence and a member of AA said, "When I drank and used it was like living my life hauling a monkey around on my back that grew into a gorilla, now I'm like a guy working in a gravity free environment who grew up on a very heavy planet." Sadly there are also those who only stop after they have permanent brain damage, liver, lung, pancreas or heart disease or wake up as one fellow did to find a child on the grill of his car he'd not realized he'd hit in a black out driving home. Recent PET scan and functional MRI studies strongly suggest that the 'thrill' of addiction is indeed the 'playing with death' but unfortunately as everyone who knows an alcoholic or addict will attest there's tremendous collateral damage of the innocents. The organization Al Anon was developed to help those who had an alcoholic loved one.
That said, 'harm reduction' is still medically indicated. While surgery is the treatment of choice for appendicitis and has a 90 plus % success rate, the death rate of doing nothing is near universal so I was trained in wilderness medicine to put people who I couldn't get to surgery on antibiotics and that alone increased survival to 30%. Indeed if I didn't take out the infected inflamed appendix but used antibiotics and made an incision into the side of the person where I could put a drain to let the pus out I might indeed get as high as 50% survival rate. Abstinence may be the gold standard but 'harm reduction' is still a very good second choice and often the only way a person with limitted motivation makes his or her way to finally addressing their addiction problems 'once and for all'. Further programs such as methadone not only help the addict but they are a tremendous advantage to the community at large The standard line in AA and NA is that the door 'swings both way'. Like most chronic illnesses it's a disease with relapses. What diabetic hasn't had a chocolate cake and what heart patient hasn't run up the stairs with the natural negative consequences of such human and forgetful behaviour. The thing to remember is that the shorter the relapse the healthier the person so there are always people in the system in various stages of recovery and everyone who wants to quit or even thinks they should ought to be welcomed somewhere in the overall scheme of things. The real advantage of the 'illness' model is that nowadays no one can treat people with this often devastating disease as lepers. Alcoholism and drug abuse have only recently been shown to be the scourge of Lady's, Presidents, Premiers, Bankers and even the incredible Britney Spears. Many of the paparazzi who have been so cruel to people who have suffered with addiction have been so because of their own denial of their own addiction. I wasn't surprised to hear that the press 'coke machine' in the parliament of canada press gallery got jury rigged to dispense whiskey. When you work in the field of addictions it's not hard to recognise that alot of things in politics, sports and media are best explained by what people were smoking.
Dr. Ray Baker, an occupational medicine addiction specialist is fond of saying that what's so exciting about addiction today is that it is a wholly 'treatable" illness and that the earlier we can get people to the best treatments, the certain outcomes in health, work and marriage follow. Addicts or alcholics who say that they tried treatment and it failed are most often like pregnant teenagers who said that they had a birth control prescription however had never filled it at the pharmacy. It was less than 100 years ago that alcoholism was considered wholly untreatable and alcoholics were thought to have a worse disease than schizophrenia. Only as little as 3o years ago addiction was considered a 'curse' and likewise untreatable. Today we know better. Literally millions have left the religion of drugs and alcohol broken free of the cults of the marijuania or crack and left the shrines of the bar. The incredible success that has come all over this continent in regards to fighting the psychopaths and murderers of the tobacco industry with the release of all their prisoners is testimony to the treatability of addiction. The original 'big book' of alcoholics anonymous was called 'A way out'. Today that extraordinary beginning has blossomed into a myriad of solutions of hope and fulfillment bringing joy and life to millions.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Feb.20, 2009 - The Changeling

I wanted to watch Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino but arrived too late for the evening show at the Scotia Theatre. Maybe if I'd had the Harley instead of the Honda Scooter I could have got through the Granville Street construction traffic. She wasn't impressed with the back lane bumps either. Alot of grunts and groans and rib grabbing as I careened around corners trying to get to the movie on time.

"Okay, I guess it's DVD and pizza." I said getting back on the scooter and waiting for her to mount so I could roar off into the night with 50 cc of power under my butt. "We could watch Mama Mia." she said in my ear. "Another night, not after I wanted to watch Clint." I shouted back to her. At Giga DVD , she showed me the new release, "Here's Changeling with Angelina Jolie and John Malkavich, " She said. Images of Star trek, Angelina Jolie in some vampire killing half naked costume and the mad Malkovich. "Sounds great," I said. Bento boxes from the Japanese store next to Giga DVD. Last lightning fast run home on the 50cc scooter. In the door past the attack cat.

Opening scenes. Incredible period piece. 1920 and 30's. Great old cars. Angelina Jolie looking beautiful as always but....."This isn't a science fiction movie, is it?" "No," she said. "But Clint Eastwood directed it." That made it alright, I guess.

Angelina Jolie can act but thise was Oscar performance. Malkovitch was terrific as always and not mad. In fact the movie was about getting the women out of the asylum. I thought the mental health laws here today were the most draconian in the western world but they were clearly worse then. The corruption was wholly believable. The blond nurse Amy Ryand could have stepped out of the worst night mare of any psychiatric inpatient. "A real sadist," she said. "Yea," they're still around. " I said.
No good doctors unfortunately. All believable bad ones, but not one good one. The dentist saves the day. Bad cops, for sure. The worst in fact, but a really endearing Michael Kelly good guy of a cop and great lawyers and judges. But the boys. What gut wrenching performances. I wanted Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion," to be playing in the back ground. It was all so touching. So heart wrenching. So real. A mother's search for her lost son and the police cover up.

Axes, shot guns and hanging for sure. Non stop drama and all out emotion. Ron Howard was a producer true. A true story about Christine Collins starting in 1928 written by J. Michael Stracynski.

Given that the Changeling wasn't about the species from Star Trek, and I'd not got to see Gran Tarino and it looked like it was going to be a chick flick, the movie made a great comeback. It had me in tears at times and at others feeling simply glad to be alive. A fabulous movie, a horribly true story, best actors and director and just all round goodness. Mother's love. Thank you Angelina.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feb.18, 2009 - Out of Africa

The epic movie, Out of Africa, the memoir of Karen Blixen, the Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, in Kenya, stars Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Redford has always been my favourite actor playing such a diversity of characters with incredible depth and charm. His performance in this brilliant movie, which won 7 Academy awards, is unsurpassed. Meryl Streep, in contrast has grown on me. I did not recognise her genius early but have come to see her as the finest actress of our age. Out of Africa with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep immediately brings to mind African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. There is truly glory in great art.

Does God Exist?

Does God Exist?
-by William Hay

This question may as well be phrased, Do I exist?
The Zen koan goes, “Does the butterfly think the philosopher or the philosopher think the butterfly?”.
Descartes, the French philosopher, spent considerable time on the question of existence and concluded with his famous line “Cogito ergo sum”. “I think therefore I am.”

When Moses in the Old Testament asked the speaking burning bush, who he was. The response was “Yahveh”, ie “I am that is who I am.” God’s response was that he was ‘being’.

Ironically, as these wordgames often appear, man is called ‘human being’ which was translated by a witty schizophrenic (?philosopher) ‘who man being”.

C.S. Lewis, the Christian philosopher said that God is creator and all else including man, his thoughts and her actions is ‘creature’.

The sense one finds in deepest solitude is of not being alone.

The Jewish philosopher Buber wrote a book called “I and Thou”. The sense of the Other or what has been called at times in Catholicism as the ‘mystery’ is the sense of duality and the sense that one is not alone.

Further the sense of “I and It” becomes for Buber the sacred moment that the ‘it’ becomes “thou”.

The Trinity of Christianity encompasses this view with reference to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit where the latter may well be called the linguistic ‘and’ in the equation of I and I. Jesus does say that “I and the Father are one”. “I and I” is the Caribbean depiction of Godness speaking to the central relationship of duality. Yet, that duality has a sense of the ‘sacred’, mystical, miraculous and awe inspiring. Carl Jung has spoken of this numinous experience. The first relationship of a child is to the mother and developmental psychiatrists have spoken to the “mother –child’ bond as the primordial relationship.
Fear has been described as the emotional response to an external threat. In contrast anxiety is the internal experience of fear where there is not an immediately identifiable threat. Anxiety has been described as the measure of the distance from God or another, and equally a measure of one’s humanity.

That sense of separation is fundamental to the awareness of individuality and in various terms has been described as the ‘dark night of the soul’, ‘existential angst’, or any number of metaphors in the equation of movement from baby to adult. It’s also the death alluded to in the phoenix rising mythology. Orgasmic realization is associated with that sense of supreme belonging and unity and loss of ‘self’ or loss of ‘separateness’ associated with immediate return to sense of ‘separation’ or ‘aloneness’.

As to creation, the question then arises , is there a Creation point or is there “always”. Creator or creation point can merely be a means to beg the question of who created the creator or who created the creation point. The big bang beginning of science could simply be one of the recurrent big bangs of the Hindu calendar. Further our ethnocentric perception can be merely the idea that our world is not just something Lilliputian to something else as occurred when the microscope found other worlds in the pond water and telescopes expanded our previously bounded universe. All of this depends on perspective.

Given that thought itself is not instantaneous but limited by neurochemical transmission the question has arisen as to whether our perception is ever anything but ‘reaction’. That gets back to the creator-creature analogy.

Fate and free will are themselves constructs and no one has ever satisfactorily resolved the determinism versus free will debate. Mostly people ‘act as if’ and in the Buddhist dogma one is encouraged to avoid praise, blame and regret though more commonly people attribute praise worthy activity to their ‘free will’ and blameworthy activity to ‘fate’.

In the beginning there was God and God created the heavens and the earth is a key example of the Creator theme. The Creator or beginning implies that there was God alone not God and ‘building blocks’. While an omnipotent God can create something from nothing, as that is the implicit meaning of creation, it is equally plausible that the Creator created the Creatures from him/her self. The best of science to date does indeed suggest a universal ‘star stuff’ to creation. The word “atom’ was usurped to speak to this meaning by phrasing it as ‘at one mind” Mystics using the analogy of sound saw “OM” as the one sound from which comic creation came forth. Certainly electromagnetic and light dynamics with their complex wave and particle theories haven’t added a lot metaphorically to these early impressions of the ancient mystics and philosophers.

The notion of relationship is scientifically first and foremost ‘association’ not ‘causation’ . I and the other is a perceptual reality explicit in the subject object relationship that one has with the world and with the unknown.

The movement from I and it to I and I or more importantly I and Thou is really the greatest journey and that is what most people would think of ‘faith’ as fear is natural for one alone, separate and quite frankly lost. Whereas the sense of belonging and being apart of is the essence of a relationship of love. Faith is the foundation for believing that the other is loving rather than fearful.

Humility is at the core of contact. Quite possibly I could destroy the other as a way ward child thoroughly unaware of how precious and sensitive the other is. Little Prince is an allegory of a space man and a rose discussing at length the relationship of aliens, or lovers or self and soul. Alternatively one must let go of the paranoia that says that I am not in control and this ‘creator’ may well be malign and have ‘malign’ or even cannibalistic intentions.
The whole subject then of the ‘nature of god’ is a separate discussion well addressed in a little book called “Your god Is Too Small”.
E=MC2 tells me that energy is ‘light matter’, that I cannot readily see ‘energy’ but accept it’s existence, but can appreciate spiritually and poetically that matter is ‘frozen starstuff” or 'frozen energy'. Time is of essence to the equation in the understanding of the concept of speed yet time may solely be a construct of a bimodal brain dualistic where reality like God may be solely omniscient. If Love could be ‘measured’ would it still be love?
For now I have faith God exists and believe God is loving.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I intuitively understand that I join with them often searching miles down cold dark corridors to where they are really hiding. I pass the mirrors and gargoyles. We play the hide and seek games and sometimes wrestle till agape’s embrace.
Then I must pull away to perform the pirouette then walking back trust them to follow. Thanks to my teachers, I have taken thousands home . It doesn’t work to hold their hands else they would not trust the steps of their own way out.
Home is where I like to live. Home is the special place called community. There is sunshine and warmth. Ugling ducklings do become swans. Friends share stories of their own faraway places.
Sometimes there's one who doesn’t want to come. Just last week I looked over my shoulder a last time at a man who walked away back to the darkness alone.
Today I shiver at the hearth of a fire my mother and father built when I was just a baby. I feel more the draft. The journeys just a little longer . The light at the end of the tunnel sometimes flickers.
But you, my love, wait at the end of day. When I am late I feel you calling.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Davie Street: The Centre

I moved into the West End 3 years ago. It's as close to New York, Toronto, or LA as you're going to get in Vancouver. The rest of the city is a suburb. Robson Street is shopping. Davie Street is diversity. Beach is, well, English Bay. Denman Street is funky. Granville Street is movies and grunge. Georgia Street is Christ Church Cathedral, the Vancouver Museum, the Bay, pretty much uptown. Burrard is a thoroughfare with Virgin Records, ScotiaTheatre, Swan Laundry and Giga DVD. The bridges bring people from the outside to the inside.
The Centre is at Bute and Davie, across from Hamburger Mary's and the Blenz coffeeshop. Little Sister's bookstore is half a block a way. I've been going to a noon hour meeting at the Centre often for a couple of years, now. I like the people. It's a 12 step group. The first fellow I met there turned out not to be gay. He told me he and his wife just lived down the road. After that I didn't know what anybody was. No one jumped me either. I was a little disappointed. I'm of a 'certain age'. My women friends say they'd beg for a wolf whistle. The stereotype for gay men is naked and groping. It's been a decades since I've come close to being groped. No one has been naked at this meeting. Some guy occasionally wears a dress. Others are just colour coordinated. Lesbians are supposed to be angry. If the friendly women there are lesbians, they're not angry. Everyone I've met instead has been warm, kind, open, accepting and welcoming. There's a wealth of stories at the Centre and it's an institution on Davie. Activities going on there all the time. Drop ins, groups, counselling, clinics. I just like reading the ever changing pamphlets. The bowl of condoms reminds me a lot of the first street clinic I worked in Winnipeg back in the late 70's. When a guy approached me for 'gay affirmative' therapy I didn't know what it was so sent him to the Centre. That began back in the 80's or 90's. I didn't like the West End back then. Too busy. Too many people. Too crowded. Then I lived in the country and on an island for a while. When I returned I figured if you're going to be in a city at all you might as well be at the hub. 24 hours a day I can walk out of my apartment and find something open and probably even meet a friend. That's what comes of getting together with others in the neighbourhood. Pretty soon you're not alone. I like the people here . We make a point of overlooking the differences and focussing on the similiarities.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The International

I told her because it was Valentine's we'd get dressed up and I'd take her to Frederico's Dinner and Dance Club on Commercial. Everyone says it's the best. Best food, best service, great little dance floor, fabulous music and very romantic. So of course everyone made their reservations for Valentine's way before I thought to phone on Thursday.

Now I've been wanting to see the International for months since the first trailers came out. Clive Owens starring. Director Tom Tykwer. Writer, Eric Singer. A dirty bank. Dirty bankers. More dirty bankers. Dirty government. Dirty police, dirty governments, mystery and intrigue. Scotia Theatre on Burrard serves Hot Dogs and Nachos. That's a dinner, isn't it?

So I picked her up on the ruckus scooter. At least I told her this time not to wear her little black dress. I was thoughtful. She had jeans and leather jacket and her helmut. I'd finally been paid so I bought the tickets. That's thoughtful too. And I sprung for the hot dogs and nachos.

The International was worth it. She even said, "I loved the intrigue. The scenery was magnificent. Milan, Instanbul, New York." Definitely panoramic and well worth seeing at the theatre. A really big movie with big action. Kind of Serpico and Bourne Identity mixed with National Geographic. It also had the kind of satisfying political education that Nicholas Cage's character in Lord of War exposed us to. Having a very personal relationship with the taxman I found the movie very cathartic.

It's easy to believe that 75% of adults today don't believe the lies their government tells them. What is hard to believe is that in the 50's 75% of Americans did believe. Of course, ignorance is bliss. So are we further ahead? There is some comfort watching characters like Clive Owens and Naomi Watts break from the orchestrated slavery the movie exposes. "They control your money. They control your government. They control your life. And everybody pays." is the succinct review of the International Movie Database.

Clive Owens acting is incredible and for my vote he should be picked for the next James Bond. Naomi Watts is real woman character for a change, wholly believable and yet extraordinary. The villains are the best since the Nuremberg documentaries. Kind of reminds you of the cast of corporate heros who continue to populate the modern news.

Not quite Valentine's Day material though. It did come as a surprise to me that I didn't have hot dog sauce on my shirt for a change when the lights came on. That was a plus. She said she liked the nacho hot sauce. I've never known what to believe from women on a date.

Despite all odds we survived driving home on the scooter through the police sirens, drunks and drug addicted drivers of Vancouver's Saturday night streets. If there was love in the air I missed it trying to avoid being smacked by chocolate frenzied female drivers .

My friend is excited about attending a 5 year old's birthday party tomorrow. The ballet, Carmen and the Goldberg Variations is next week. She says it's okay we went out and saw explosions and blood and guts on Valentines. It's the thought that counts, right?

Henry Poole is Here

Henry Poole is Here (2008) is directed by Mark Pellington. This stellar comedy opens with Henry Poole, (Luke Wilson) buying a house near his childhood home to spend what he believes to be his final days. His devout catholic neighbour (Adriana Barraza) however finds a miracle in his backyard she wants the world to share. Lacking faith and wanting to be left alone, sad and angry Poole is moved by child star (Morgan Lilly) and through her touched by the beautiful, Radha Mitchell. The sound track features Bob Dylan, Badly Drawn Boy and Eels. Rarely have lyrics and music so complemented action as this deeply amusing movie touches chord after chord. Where else can reference to Noam Chomsky enter a script that would have Mohammed, Moses and Jesus all chuckling. Albert Torres, the writer,can only be applauded for this happy heartfelt romp of a love story.
The Christian Religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. David Hume 1711-76 Scottish Philosopher

Friday, February 13, 2009

The King Digested

The King Digested.

And she said,
Because I am a woman
I can eat you
And she began to gnaw upon my entrails
Like a carrion beast.
So he said,
Because I am Jew I can eat you too.
The Indian joined them both.
The rich man and the American,
Soon the black man and the yellow man,
And the Islam and Buddha man
Were are taking part in the feast.
The Hindu, pagan, catholic and a Christian or two,
Biting, tearing, grinding, ripping, swallowing.
Palestinians, Congolese, TV people, anyone really,
Who somehow said that my people hurt their people
Sometime before, so now they could eat me.
Why not? What better logic? Liar. Liar. Pants on fire.
Back to when and when did it begin.
This guilt that you do not share because, well, you do not share.
You said and he and she and it took another piece.
The parts were moving now. Bits of me in them and them in me.
I knew the poison of fear and hate was spreading,
Along with love
The Bolsheviks and Canadians. Mexicans with little dogs.
I watched a dwarf devour a toe claiming dwarfs had been deposed.
Any little slight. Any big slight. But I could not be slighted
Because they treated me as God.
The ultimate sacrifice.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Vancouver Boat Show 2009

We almost missed it this year. Crossing town from Christ Church we just happened to see the sign advertising the Vancouver Boat Show at BC Place. As a sailor I never miss it though in later years with my 39.9 foot steel sailboat GIRI completely outfitted I'm not the 'customer' I once was. In the past the boat show "deals" have always warranted buying there. It's where I got my Furuno radar, my Yamaha outboard, Garmin GPS, Moonlight windows, ICOM radios and countless other gadgets and gear. Otherwise Steveston Marina has been my greatest outfitters and even they have honored special boat show rates weeks after the show if you get your 'order' in. Eric was in good form when I bought my collapsible kayak dolly for $89.00 from Steveston's having worn out the one I bought years ago. He'd last sold me my watermaker which we'd carried to Hawaii for the sail back this last summer. The dolly will be used on an office move but then it will go into full use carrying 'gear' back and forth from truck to boat. One day a marina will get a conveyor system like ski hills eventually got tow ropes. Until then a major part of boating will be 'hauling'.
The fun of the boatshows is seeing the new technology as much as the new boats. I've got a boat so the boats themselves aren't as exciting though I'm always amazed at the better lay outs and designs that have developed over the years. The MacGregor, sailboat/motor boat with water ballast is one of the great inventions but other than that the show was mostly powerboats. Probably product of a faster age.
Seawise Marine impressed me most with their hydraulic dinghy and motor loading systems. Having hauled little boats for years onto my big boat I'm impressed with a brilliant reliable system that appreciates that some of us are getting older.
I loved the outboards having gone to the Yamaha 4 hp from my Yamaha 8 hp simply because of weight. Admittedly I loved the speed of my earlier Nissan 9.9 which over powered my little dinghy so planing I left jet boats in my wake.
The boat show is not just big boats. Every dinghy and inflatable and fishing boat imaginable was there. We liked best the outboard powered flatboat that carried a 4 x 4 ATV which could ride off the front onto a beach much like marine landing craft. Clipper kevlar canoes were there and all the variety of kayaks.
The Yanmar engines looked so pretty and clean compared to mine which has seen so many miles it's on the rebuild.
Full points went to Neptune Slat Systems for coming up with a way to ensure mattress stay dry and have movement of air below them.
Liza Copeland was there with her wonderful books chronicling her families sails around the world. I've enjoyed reading her books as much as the slide presentations I've been priviledged to attend at Bluewater Cruising Association club nights. I bought Mumford's latest book, Dangerous Water's, Tales of the Sea for the remarkable deal of $10 and laughed that it was at the boatshow a year previous I'd bought his African adventure book Friends from Bluewater Cruising Association were there with copies of Currents ,the international offshore cruising magazine.
I told the fellow at Cooper's Yachts Sailing School if I'd not have taken my first sailing lesson there I'd not have ended up solo sailing through winter storms to Hawaii. So beware of what you're taught and what you wish for. The Coast Guard and all the safety gear experts were also on hand.
Oh to have an extra million dollars. I loved the big aluminum fishing boats powered by Honda 200 outboards but thought Lowe's fishing boats and trailors as ideal for fishing on the Frazer.
If you can't afford things you can at least put in for the draws. And Yamaha had the best draw offering the G3 boat and motor. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Storm Tech had the most fashionable and durable lady's yachting wear as my friend walked away with a waterproof jacket insisting she could wear it anywhere. Thanks to Nikka Marine and Fishing I stocked up on my smoker supplies and now have unthawed tuna in brine preparing to be smoked on my balcony.
I missed seeing Barry the welder this year. When he had his wood boat next to mine in the Coal Harbour marine I was smoking venison one night on my steel boat when the wind changed and the smoke blew int his open hatch. He and his wife were searching their boat from stem to stern at 3 am for the fire until they realized the smoke was coming from my Little Chief.
The boat show is a great place for memories and dreaming. I'm sure glad I didn't miss it. I was especially thankful to talk to Rich Hutton at Shelter Island Marina about hauling my boat out so that someone like the folks at Bracewell Marine Group can fix my mast this spring. We've got the greatest sailing waters off the coast of British Columbia. After crossing the Pacific last summer I'm really looking forward to day trips where I can enjoy evening barbecues and gently rocking safe harbours at anchor.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hollyburn Lodge, Cypress Mountain

The healthiest place by far to eat in Vancouver is Hollyburn Lodge on Cypress Mountain. Because you have to snowshoe or cross country ski to it even their fries are low cholesterol. The veggie chilli and fresh bread with hot chocolate is certainly a must for the diet conscious. Bluegrass and folk music have been added to some nights probably to encourage jigs to assist digestion. Truly a 5 star establishment.


Lucia Frangione is my favourite playwright. Her Holy Mo, the story of Moses told through the eyes of children and clowns is highest holiest art with just a holy heap of whimsical absurd delight. I laughed myself silly despite having been to Holy Mo before. That's Lucia for you. There's so much happening and so much humor you can return again and again to the same production and experience a whole new show . I hate to say it for such a young and lovely artist but her works really are that iconaclastic. Caribou Magi is truly a Canadian 'classic' if this young country can claim such a word. Expresso her Italian family piece touches the heart as much as her other works reveal the soul. With next year's Leave of Absence, to be performed by Ron Reid's Pacific Theatre she promises a serious play. I look forward to any Frangione but what difference will that be. She has always moved me to tears.
Eria-Faye Forsyth played Bufoona of a thousand personalities. One minute scamp, next minute sage, old then young, adolescent and rebellious and really only wanting to be a princess whenever Follie, played by Katharine Venour would have her be a slain villain. Bufoona's step ladder Goliath was a testament to the creativity of costume designer Drew Facey. Katherine's Venours extraordinary talents as an actress were displayed throughout from Rambo the Sphynx, to dancing girl in Hebee town to God almighty, her voice and performance thoroughly engaging. Julia Mackey played Guff, kazoo playing guitar strumming mute whose transformation crescendos the show. Morris Ertman, the director, must have come direct from a benedictine monastery specializing in the mystery of herding hilarious cats to bring this outrageous script and these women of such wit and genius to the stage in tact. It was a testament to the overall professionalism that none on stage broke a smile when the audience was rolling in their seats and gasping for air at juke box elvis and icebox grails.
I've had season's tickets to Pacific Theatre longer that I've been married or lived in one home and never regretted bringing friends along to enjoy what I"m forever telling people is Vancouver 'best bang for the theatre buck'. That's saying alot considering the overall high level of theatre which is offered in Vancouver. Vancouver has been called "Hollywood North" due to it's excellent filmcraft but might as well also be called "Broadway Northwest" thanks its brilliant stagecraft.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


It’s Wednesday. The CAA meeting has an open mike tonight. I’ve been practicing all month . Took the week off work. Morning to night going through the tombs of unheard prose and poetry. That’s just the stuff from the basement, didn’t even get to the storage lockers or the stuff I left in my parents basement. Impossible to choose. What can they expect me to say in 5 minutes. I need an audience for at least a week. All the material I’ve got. My great chance. No sleep. Pots of coffee. Everything is no good or it’s plain great.
The neighbours been complaining about the ‘noise”. Phillistine. Doesn’t understand art. A soliloquy has to be shouted. The night is almost here. They should have given me more time to prepare. I’ll never be ready.
And what about clothing. Couldn’t find a thing that was appropriate. Had to get a whole new wardrope. Days of searching for just the right ‘look’. The author look. What about socks. You can tell a lot about a person by their socks. Should I wear them ?
Hours of reading in front of the full length mirror. 5 minutes. No way. I need at least an hour. I’ll take an hour of material and they’ll want me to read it.
Since I’m reading , they’ll notify the press. Won’t they? Spell my name right. That’s what the sign up sheet was for. For the agents and publishers to get my name right. Maybe I should call them myself just in case. I’d like to tell the people who usually ignore me I’m reading but they’ll hear in good time.
Now why isn’t the door open? It’s Wednesday. 7 pm. The Alliance for the Arts Building. Howe Street. I’ve got to get in there. I can see there’s people in the board room through the window. They’re looking at me.
That’s right. I’m pounding on the glass door. Let me in. I’m an author. I’m reading. Don’t just wave me away. I’m an author.
Haven’t seen a crow bar eh! That’s why guys like me drive trucks. Thought that glass door was going to keep me out. I’m an author.
Old people huddled in a corner of the board room. Saying something about being Canada Council. I know that’s just a small part of the Canadian Author’s Association.
Suits and dresses. White hair. Eying the crow bar. Waiting for me to read. Obviously.
Crowd gathering outside. Glass everywhere. Some people on the street getting noisy.
Guess it’s time to read. Crowbar kind of works like a conductor’s baton. Good thing I practiced shouting the words.
Sirens. Crowd control at last.
Yea. I know it’s good. I’m an author. Everything is good when you’re an author. It’s a being thing. I’m being the art here. I’m communing with the muse. I’m in the zone. I can feel the writing flowing through me.
Nice police guy asking for the crow bar. “I know you’re an author.” Sure I give him the crow bar. He understands.
I think the reading went pretty well too.
One of the cops told me on the way to the station he’s a writer. Has this cop book he’s working on.
The lawyer wasn’t impressed to be called out of his poker game. Got me off though. Said the judge wants to be a writer, too. Both figured I’d be better back at work so I could pay his fees, the cost of the door and the old guys dry cleaning bill. How was I supposed to know the old guy had prostate problems. I’ll pay the fine out of my royalties.
The picture in the province looked good . Spelt my name right. “Crowbar author”. Good ring to that.
Now I’m looking forward to reading next Wednesday.
How was I supposed to know the CAA meeting was on the second Wednesday of the month and not the first. I got the time right. Authors shouldn’t have to think of everything. That’s why I need a publisher. Get one of those cute secretaries to follow me around everywhere.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Revolver - the movie

Revolver, the movie, released in 2005 in England and re released 2007 in Hollywood, written and directed by Guy Ritchie was shown on television tonight. I thought of the Beatles sound track when I surfed it but stayed because Jason Stratham of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Transporter was the lead. I came in on the movie somewhere after the beginning and yet was nonetheless captivated.

The greatest con of the ego is to convince you that it's you, was the idea that ran through the movie.

I'd just looked up a passage in Spiritual Brain by Beauregard in his discussion of the experiences of those who were clinically dead and had near death experiences, NDE's, 'there is judgement, to be sure, but the reports appear to be in agreement that all judgement comes from within the individual, not from the Being of Light. It seems, in fact, that all God is capable of giving us is unconditional love."

At the end of movie Revolver which may well have been named after the firearm given the number of shootings that occurred, there was Deepak Chopra and a whole group of the PHD's and MD's commenting on the spiritual meaning of the ego, the devil and projection and other constructs in the movie. I'd seen this in the Bling but was surprised to see it at the end of a shoot em up.

So I looked Revolver up Wikepedia (God I love Wikepedia) and sure enough the philosophical and theological substrate was intentional. English screenwriter Guy Ritchie was apparently studying the Kabballa (Jewish mystical writings) at the time of making Revolver. The trinity of characters are named after the patriarchs with Jake short for Jacob, Avi short for Abraham and Zach short for Isaac. The 23 enigma and 32 are numerological references and always there's reference to life as the 'game'. .

It didn't do well at the box office for some reason. Not for acting as Stratham and the others were in top form. It now seems likely to become cult classic. Long after many other movies are dead someone will play this movie backwards and hear "John is a live. John is alive."

"Almost any religious system which fosters unearthly love is potentially a nursery for mystics" Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism

Perennialists believe that "The world of individual consciousness and matter is only a partial reality, which reflects an underlying divine ground". Beauregaard, The Spiritual Brain

"Be the change that you want to see in the world." Mohandas Gandhi

The main goal of this functional magnet resonance imaging (fMRI) study was to identify the neural correlates of a mystical experience. The brain activity of Carmelite nuns was measured while they were subjectively in a state of union with God. This state was associated with significant loci of activation in the right medial orbitofrontal cortex, right middle temporal cortex, right inferior and superior parietal lobules, right caudate, left medial prefrontal cortex, left anterior cingulated cortex, left inferior parietal lobule, left insula, left caudate and left brain stem. Other loci of activation were seen in the extra-striate visual cortex. These results suggest that mysteical experiences are mediated by several brain regions and systems. Beauregaard, The Spiritual Brain.

Be assured that the more progress you make in loving your neighbour, the greater will be your love for God. His Majesty loves us so much that he repays us for loving our neighbor by increasing our love for him in a thousand ways. I cannot doubt this. Theresa of Avila (1515-82)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chinese New Year Parade 4707

The Chinese year 4707 began Jan. 26, 2009. Today despite the rainy weather people came out for the Vancouver Chinese New Year parade. With dragon, cymbals and drums bad spirits were scared away from individual shops.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2009 is the Year of the OX. The Ox sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Those born under the influence of the Ox or Buffalo sign will be stable and persevering.

Volunteer Virgin Exchange Program

I would not like anyone to think I'm taking the war on terrorism any more lightly than I took the war on drugs. No one doubts drugs or terrorism are problems. What has always been at doubt is whether the government takes them seriously. The government 'strategy' in the war on drugs ironically did nothing to reduce drugs but bought a whole lot of bullies new bully bling in the way of helicopters, fast boats, missiles, and such. It further destroyed confidence in government, terrorized the population and removed most fundamental freedoms of a democratic society. The war on terrorism with it's continued insistence on fighting violence with violence has destroyed international confidence in western governments, reintroduced torture a la mode, destroyed the economy of the western world and done nothing to reduce terrorism. Ironically the terrorists always appear to have hand me down second hand bully bling which makes one wonder if stopping new bully bling might not do wonders for reducing the supply of terrorist bully bling.

Consequently I gave some thought to the problem. The terrorists, mostly sexually inexperienced moslem bombers, appear to be blowing up the world for their masters to get virgins in heaven. Kennedy asked the country, to consider not what it could do for the people but what the people could do for it. In Victorian times, mothers told their daughters to lie back and think of England.

Would it not be possible to offer therefore a Volunteer Virgin Exchange Program for any sexually inexperienced moslem bomber's bombs. The government might consider further compensating the virgins with American real estate considering what deals they could get at this time thanks to previous government fiscal programs.

As I see it virgins who would agree to be with these sexually inadequate men in exchange for their bombs obviously would have to set a minimum limit on the size of bomb which warranted the exchange. This would naturally require some show and tell and perhaps smaller bombs might be exchanged for perhaps more dubious virgins. Government beaurocracies could well work out the details so that very soon terrorists and virgins could be together wholly distracted by toddlers and teen agers living heaven on earth.

As a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush I believe this would be a much more sensible and likely to succeed program. Further once a terrorist has one virgin it's very unlikely that he'll want a whole lot more but will indeed get a job like most married western men to have an excuse to get away from the home.