Saturday, December 31, 2011
Philip Slayton's book explains how Canada changed from a democracy to what I've called a "Legal Theocracy". He uses terms like "Lawyer Aristocrats".
I wouldn't have taken any interest in the subject because my own experience with Canadian judges had been positive. I've met many. Indeed having shaken hands with three Prime Ministers and spent an afternoon with one I've been more than blessed in my access to powers that be. In the US I enjoyed lunching with judges and have been thoroughly impressed with how bright and knowledgeable judges in general were.
In contrast to most physicians I've actually learned to admired lawyers because too often I've seen or been involved in horrendous abuses of power. Indeed the only judge I'd not appreciated was the fellow whose court room, lawyer Jack Cram called "Nazi". I had met one poor fellow who was still working with early dementia and then I met a truly pompous fellow whose arrogance and self importance seemed the stuff of Dickens novels and not what we'd expect in a Post Modern scientific world.
I respect authority. As a Christian I worship a servant king. Dugald Christie and I attended church together. He convinced me to do pro bono work having established pro bono services in the BC jails. I'd ride with him to jail and go in to see prisoners who from all I gathered had been poorly served by a justice system I had come to believe in.
I recently saw a Corruption Index from the late 90's showing Canada as number 6th in the least corrupt of nations. A transparency index showed it as one of the most open of societies.
Yet Philip Slayton says that judges are not this way inclined. They tend to be private and resist media scrutiny. Yet they are very much public political figures and we know a great deal more about the obviously less elite members of Cabinet. There is an exception. The present Chief Justice of Canada, Beverly McLaughlan has made "transparency" of the courts one of her constant public themes. This is pertinent as BC courts are challenged to televise the procedings for the recent hockey riots and all manner of arguments were raised for 'closed doors". I'm not sure about the Supreme Court, only a third of the way into Slayton's book, but Beverly McLaughlan already had my vote and might certainly as well be elected were she not appointed.
A decade or more ago a lawyer told me she'd left 'corporate law' because she said "I couldn't be a woman and a lawyer'. Today the BC Law Society has revealed that 2/3's of women graduating as lawyers leave law. One might naturally think that these little women go off to have babies with big powerful rich male lawyers except that female doctors who have far more onerous training and experience seem to stay in medicine. Gender counted in the Supreme Court as Slayton explains in Mighty Judgement. These ultra powerful political figures are 'appointed', 'powerful', 'middle class', 'lawyers', and have predominantly a white male bias.
An older male friend said "I left corporate law because I couldn't be a Christian and a lawyer.....I still can be a Christian and a lawyer but I'm not sure if I'll be able to say that for much longer."
Isn't that frightening? These are not nobodys but indeed the cream of society.
I was thoroughly terrified by the judge I encountered. He acted as one truly above the law or at least as a law unto himself.
Retired law professor, Robert Martin wrote an 'incendiary book called "The Most Dangerous Branch; How the Supreme Court of Canada Has Undermined Our Law and our Democracy." I never heard of the book. So I'm thankful that a PHD Political Science student gave me Phillip Slayton's "The Mighty Judgement" after I told her I'd heard an excellent CBC review of this book. Phillip Slayton's book is superbly referenced and far easier to read than anything legally written in the last decade, despite the call for 'transparency'.
Phillp Slayton says it's time for reform. It's certainly time that Canadians wake up. Given what a great place Canada is and how I personally believe most of our judges, the Supreme Court included are a godsend, having seen the one or two bad apples in the barrell, I must admit it's time for review. Dugald Christie was one of the brightest and finest men I've ever known. He wasn't the sort to burn his robes on the Supreme Court stairs. People might expect me to douse myself with gasoline and set myself on fire for some such cause, saying oh, that's just Bill being a drama queen. No one would have said that of Dugald. He was a very serious Christian and very deep thinker. I was touched to know him.
I would recommend this book to all Canadians if only for this paragraph: "Post 1982 constitutional law has had a vast effect on our country. In 1988 the Morgetanler decision invalidated Canada's abortion laws. Delagamunkus in 1997, determined the extent of Aboriginal Title. The 2004 Amselem case decided that the state cannot in any way regulate personal religious belief, however eccentric. The Same-Sex Marriage Reference, also 2004 determined that the federal government can change the definition of marriage and give gays and lesbians the legal right to marry. Chaoulli, in 2005 struck down a Quebec law banning private medical insurance and changed the shape of Canada's health care system. In 2005, Labay decided that group sex at a commercial club was not indecent.' p13 Mighty Judgement.
Those who know me well would know I'm in favour of some of these decisions but what I ask is whether having things the way I want them is worth jeopardizing democracy. The sad part of that 'ends justifies the means' argument is that it can easily swing the other way. There's immense power in these few individuals. These examples reflect it. What if the next batch of Supreme Court judges include a couple of bad apples?
I turn 60 this year and realized as I talked to a judge my age, with less education than I and much less broad based experience that he considered himself vastly superior to me and was extremely superior in a way I'd not encountered since grade school. What if such a man got on the Supreme Court? Would he care for the experience of majority of Canadians who Dugald Christie said were no longer of importance to the courts of Canada?
Should we not ensure that Canada remains least corrupt and most transparent of countrie?. I'm reading Phillip Slayton's book because I want the good guy judges to prevail. I think we have to pay close attention to Chief Justice Beverly Mclachlan. She wants transparency in the courts. She must have a very good reason. Phillip Slayton's book is a good start because like me Phillip Slayton respect the law , the lawyers and the judges collectively we have today.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
My older brother, Ron is a photographer. He's also a husband, father and worked many years raising his family working in the federal government ensuring that Canadians had safe health care. After a science degree at University of Manitoba and a stint as a food and food production inspector he moved on to Ottawa. I think my family was glad because his research into 'acceptable amounts of rat droppings' in local restaurants and such had turned the family off eating out.
He'd always taken pictures. A great love of our father's was making home movies so it was no surprise that the sons would take an interest in visual representation. Now Ron's son, Graeme, is a movie maker as well. Check It Out Films. Having been my high school year book photographer I tend to carry a camera with me still. Ron on the other hand has taken mere picture taking and recording to a whole other level. When I visit Ottawa I am simply amazed at the quality of his photographs and their originality. It's not surprising that he has won awards, had his photographs chosen for museums and travel books such as Frommers. I especially like his nature photography given our family love for the outdoors. That said Ron's pictures of lights and cities and people are equally rivetting.
I personally get a camera and use it. Ron on the other hand has umpteen lens, knows every facet of lighting and colour and studies subjects scientifically and late into the night. He was much like this when we were kids, fascinated by science and physics, intrigued by mechanics, working on cars with Dad. Both he and his son love to talk about comparisons of f stops with different lens and the pros and cons of different shutter speeds. I'm generally happy with my iphone camera and usually only on a specific 'photography outing" carry along by Nikon digital SLR and even then think the lens are way too heavy and bulky. I prefer a camera that fits in my shirt pocket. I can't even remember what number and letter my Nikon is while Ron will ream off the pros and cons of different pro d series of Nikon and compare them with Canons listing the advantages of each. He also never leaves home without a camera and more often than not has a veritble back pack of cameras and lens slung over his shoulder.
He's also in an international association with other photographers with similiar interests and travels around the world meeting and discussing the arcane world of digital photography. Basically he's a camera geek.
This last trip to Ottawa I enjoyed snapping his picture. Photographers sometimes like to hide behind their cameras so it's fun to expose them. I'm also huge fan of his blog too. (http://www.megapixeltravel.com/)
Often he takes our father out on his photography jaunts. Dad, has macular degeneration so Ron ha taken to blowing up his pictures to allow Dad to enjoy his nature pictures which please Dad immensely. This Christmas he had me out photographing deer, chickadees and red breasted nuthatches. As always I had a heck of a good time. Oh yea, I used my Iphone 4S to take my pictures. Note Iphone 4S, not just an 'iphone".
The principal behind CBT is that 'mood disorders' and other psychiatric dysfunctional states are a product of 'cognitive' internal process. Simplified it says 'we feel what we think and behave what we feel.' Therefore if you change your 'thinking' then feeling and behaviour will change accordingly. Though the actual techniques that Beck developped were fairly original the idea of the effect of thinking on mood and behaviour was in fact ancient. It's part of the standard teaching of Christianity and Buddhist so heralds back thousands of years. Beck himself acknowledged the origins of his work in the Stoic philosophers of the ancient world. In psychology 'positive thinking' therapy had turn of the century application in the early hypnotists proponents. Mesner's 'Everyday in everyway I'm getting better and better" self affirmation may as well have been early CBT.
Beck's real genius was in the development of a particular strategy of positive thinking and teaching of this that could be replicated and reproduced to allow for scientific study of the basic premise. His methodology was such that with CBT alone there was an approximate 75% cure in the treatment of depression in a roughly a few months.. Without treatment depressions commonly lasted a year. CBT was equal then to the response rates of patients treated with antidepressant medications. When the two forms of treatment were combined the response was enhanced even more.
In contrast to psychoanalytic psychotherapy which on a weekly basis similiarly administered resulted in relatively equivalent response rates, practitioners in CBT could be trained in shorter periods of time with great effectiveness. My own training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy as a psychiatrist took place over 4 years and was quite intensive whereas I learned CBT in a matter of months. Further CBT could be given to groups whereas psychoanalytic therapy was much more labour intensive and effective one on one. Even better CBT could be self administered. Burns, a student of Aaron Beck, wrote the best seller 'Feeling Good' which today still stands as a terrific text for patients to be given suffering from mood disorders.
Being relatively cheap and easy to learn, it has also leant itself to being used as part of research, it's value shown to be beneficial far beyond just 'depression' and having benefit in anxiety disorders, thought disorders, and addictive processes.
In contrast to psychoanalytic therapy that worked to 'weed' out misinformation acquired in childhood, CBT focussed on the 'present' and didn't really consider it that important how a person had become 'misinformed' about how to think effectively.
For example 'catastrophizing', is seen as a 'cognitive distortion' in CBT. It is recognised that people who tend to catastrophise in crisis are being 'irrational' and less 'effective'. Individually, with a therapist or in a group one learns to 'identify' this trait, see it , in fact, as an 'error' and bypass it or work around it. The techniques that Dr. Beck developped for this included 'talking back' to the 'misinformation'. As an example, "I don't get paid today because the mail doesn't arrive, I think, I'm not going to be able to pay the rent and am going to be homeless." Instead I should think, 'it's not the end of the world', I will contact the people who expect me to pay them that day and advise them that the mail has been delayed and I will pay them tomorrow. " This is 'normal reality' unless one is dealing with the mafia or government beaurocrats. Government beaurocrats actually respond humanly if you give them the same information in triplicate with a witness of a lawyer or doctor or prime minister as notary. The world doesn't need to end.
Interestingly these 'irrational tendencies' were common and formed the basis of the development of the 'fallacies' in the study of 'logic'. Beck's contribution was to simplify these 'fallacies' for the lay person, counselloers,r psychologists and others by putting a memorable spin on them. An example from Dr. Burn's list of Cognitive Distoritions in Feeling Good was 'disqualifying the positive". In this situation the person says it doesn't matter if I have the money in the bank to cover the rent, I didn't get the cheque in the mail so I'm going to be homeless. The nature of the focus here is to 'disqualify' the assets one has.
My mother used to say 'count your blessings' because frankly depressed and angry people commonly focus on the negatives and as long as they do commonly create a 'self fulfilling' prophecy. "CBT has been used in sports training athletes not to 'psych themselves out' but rather to 'psych themselves up'
Ironically, the business psychology world had been using many variations on CBT in their 'inspirational' talks and 'motivational' sales training. If anything the academic world in this case was commonly playing catch up to the business world and refining what worked. Scientific study has proven what often common sense already knew.
Maslow, developped the term 'self actualization' in his study of highly successful people. He wasn't a CBT therapist but rather his approach was to study 'well people' and then suggest that the very strategies that made them well be applied to helping the sick. Freud had originally in the early years of the study of mental illness only treated 'sick' people and learned their differences. Today therapists have learned many 'effective' ways of thinking from those leaders in society and are taking these strategies into psychiatry. Not surprisingly Thessalonians of the New Testatment of the Bible had CBT recommendations telling people to 'think on positive things'.
In addiction work Hal Morley, now deceased, always encouraged an 'attitude of gratitude'. He said with an 'attitude of gratitude' one simply could not remain depressed and negative.
In CBT work the relationship with the 'client' or 'patient' is much more like a 'teacher' student relationship than the traditional psychoanalytic psychotherapy relationship where transference and counter transference, the 'process' and the 'relationship' itself were the focus of therapy. In CBT patients are given 'home work.' They are encouraged to 'journal' and it's accepted that 'success' in therapy is no different than one would expect for 'success' in geometry'. The more one does, the better one gets at 'changing' one's negative thinking to 'positive thinking' and 'purposeful and effective' living.
I commonly ask patients with depression to avoid daily news since it's commonly negative and fear mongering. In this way I'm not acting at all like a traditional psychoanalytic psychotherapist but am being very directive and drawing from my experience as a family physician addressing allergies in children. In that world I'd remove those things that caused sneezing and today in the process of CBT I help the patient remove daily news for instance from their daily repetoire and not uncommonly see patient's moods improve immediately. I also tell the depressed to stop listening Sylvia Plath. An analytically oriented session in constrast would encourage a patient to reflect on the meaning of their listening to, say Kurt Cobain, when they were insisting they wanted to live not die. I might simply tell a person to listen to Bach or Sarah McLaughlan or Bare Naked Ladies.
Going over a particular stress we would look at what the person was thinking and how they could think more effectively. The questions asked are 'what could you have done differently? What would you have liked to have said." What were you thinking?. What would be a better way of thinking given those events?."
Indeed in the Christian community there seems to be a bit of CBT going on when people ask 'What Would Jesus Think/Say/or Do?"
CBT has been called physiotherapy for the mind because it's done in much a way as a person with a physical injury goes to a physical therapist to learn how to walk or move an arm in recovery. In CBT people are trained to think differently about situations, people and relationships. Often pen and paper examples are used much as teachers do in the class room. In group therapy, examples of difficulty are shared and other members are asked how one could think better about such an experience.
It's not 'rocket science'. It's common sense, mostly. However in day to day reality people rarely are exposed to what others are thinking. They just see that a person is 'acting' poorly and rarely know how 'odd' and 'different' their thinking may be.
As CBT therapists can themselves 'think' their 'thinking' is 'superior' and come across unknowingly as terribly arrogant, I encourage everyone who has studied CBT to read Job in the Old Testament. Job is a character who is blameless, thinks well indeed, and accurately but his friends faced with his difficulties do their own version of CBT without any benefit and far too much judgement and arrogance.
That said, CBT is a tremendous asset for anyone and worth the learning. There are superior therapies and ones which are better for specific conditions and individualized therapy is usually better than any of the 'off the rack' therapies. I'm an 'eclectic psychotherapist' so I've been formally trained in several of the major modalities of psychotherapy so am least at risk of the criticism of 'give a boy a hammer and everything is a nail." That said I'm very thankful for my training CBT a quarter century ago and the advances I've acquired in this modality over the intervening years. I doubt a day goes by I don't get to use some aspect of this therapy.
For anyone interested in CBT I strongly recommend Feeling Good, by Dr. Burns. I still remains a classic and can often be bought cheaply at a second hand store. The first copy written circa 1980 was probably better than later editions anyway. It's bright yellow, like sunshine. Go Figure!
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
was fortunate on this trip to visit my father in Ottawa to get a Chrysler 200 from Alamo car rental. All I specified was a small or mid sizer car easy to park with trunk room sufficient for a wheel chair and walker. They gave me the sleek Chrysler 200. 4 door, automatic, with roomy trunk, it was aerodynamically designed for gas mileage efficiency. A really pretty car. What struck me at first though was the visibility. Something about the shape and fit of the front windshield made for increased visibility. The console was elegant. At night there was just enough light up front and not too much. Everything was accessible and visible. Classy really. I liked the key fob for it's feature that the car could be started from inside. A must in winter weather with snow on the ground and flurries of snow in the air. It came with heated seats too. Easy to operate radio too. So just sitting in the car with my luggage in the trunk which would hold Dad's walker well, was a pleasure.
Driving was even better. I was seated low to the road and felt like I did in my old mustang. It was sporty. Great pick up and go. And most important superb breaking in slush and ice. I drove it for 5 days and loved it. So did my father and brother who rode with me. My brother, used to a Toyota or Volvo, liked it well enough driving it on an icy slushy sleet and snow morning when I thought his experience of Ottawa road conditions would be superior to mine. Dad appeciated my older brother driving knowing too well of my preference for speed and maneuverability. The Chrysler certainly was maneuverable. It parked superbly too.
So it was indeed with regret that I left it at Alamo in Ottawa to return to Vancouver. I'd certainly be glad to own one.
My brother and I were in close contact during this time. I even phoned his doctors and was reassured they were indeed the best, doing all I could hope for. When he was discharged he wasn't fully recovered by any means, improved from before, and stable, but suffering from inactivity of illness, stress and the loneliness of modern hospitals. Talking to him I was concerned.
Normally I'd fly out to visit after Christmas because with nephews, their friends and Adell's family he has a lot of stimulation already then. This year though, talking to him ,I was concerned he might well not rally and this might well be our last Christmas together. My brother and I decided a family Christmas everyone together would perhaps be best than our usual staggering of the winter visit.
Unfortunately we were told that Westjet wasn't allowing pets to travel, so Gilbert, my cockapoo, who Dad so loves, wouldn't be allowed to come. I was told all the the airlines had a Christmas policy excluding pets. As it turned out Westjet told me later they would have allowed me to take the little guy as carryon but they weren't allowing animals to travel down below.
Gilbert rallies Dad. His enthusiasm for life is infectious. Last year Gilbert jumped on his lap, licked his face and ears and the two of them wrestled. Dad always had dogs. We grew up with dogs. Now Gilbert would have to remain in Vancouver while I went off to Ottawa. Since I often depend on Gilbert to rally me I was disheartened.
Asked I would have Dad was 92 but he corrected me this trip telling me he was 93. "No wonder you fell old, " I told him. "I thought you were only 92." Ron told me he'd begun to get better in the week before I arrived. He'd lost 40 lbs recently but was beginning to eat again. He'd had such difficulty getting out of bed, walking with breathing difficulties, arthritis and problems remembering where he was going, all one could do was admire him.
One of the fellows who he eats breakfast with daily, told me, "Your dad is a tough one, after all he's gone through this fall." I could only agree. The man telling me this had just got out of hospital that week after a heart attack himself. I told him Prince Phillip just had a heart attack too so maybe he was now "related' to the Royals. He was French Canadian and replied, "I don't care for the Royals." Late 80's he was the youngest at Dad's breakfast table.
When I got to Stonehaven Manor, I was just glad to see Dad sitting up in the festively decorated lounge. He has macular degeneration and didn't recognise me. He usually calls me by my brother's name but even with cues this time he had difficulty identifying me as his son. Then he knew me. Then he beamed that I'd come to visit. I've friends who dutifully visit their parents who have long forgotten them in their disease and dying. I felt how they must feel and thanked God that Dad's mind was still intact. I felt so good to be recognised by my father.
My brother Ron is with him every week taking him on outings every day or so. Stonehaven Manor is an excellent place with lovely facilities, white table cloth dining, great food, variety, entertainment in the evenings, bus outings, near by restaurants and parks. Dad's loved being there these last 4 years making many friends some of who have passed away. He always hushes his voice when he mentions the deceased.
Ron and I've enjoyed the staff. Administrations have changed but mostly the wholesome family oriented flavour that first attracted Adell to this place has remained. When Mom died in Winnipeg Ron and Adell accepted it would be best for Dad to move to Ottawa. Ron was retired while I was still working more than full time and living on a sailboat. The nephews could visit Dad in Ottawa as well, and Adell whose done so much for him. I feel guilty at a distance and love the care my brother and sister in law extend to my Dad, our Dad. I make a point of calling every week or more, and flying out to visit each season. I should do more.
Ron and I got Dad out for lunch the next day. We got him out to a mall figuring the hustle and bustle of frenzied last minute Christmas consumer shopping world would do him good. He insisted we get Adell a present and he just happened to need a rest beside a jeweller. The lady said she thought Adell would enjoy the emerald necklace. Dad was so pleased. "She does so much for me and everybody else," he said.
Over the next few days we had him over to Ron's place for Christmas turkey dinner and Christmas present openings. After a delicious Christmas turkey dinner at Stonehaven and another at Ron and Adell's, Ron figured we had stopped his weight loss and maybe given back a couple of pounds of all he'd lost. I'd shot a deer this fall and had brought a venison roast figuring that would perk his appetite. Adell did the roast to perfection in the oven and sure enough Dad was delighted to have venison again. "I used to shoot a deer for food every year," he reminisced, telling me hunting stories I'd first heard in childhood. Dad then reminisced about Mom and trips they'd taken. Dad shared how he missed going to church this fall, his illness and the cold weather stopping him from attending the Anglican church down the way.
"I feel useless," he said. "I can't see anything, I can't do anything. I don't think I'm going to make it. " he told us. It was apparent that Dad's negativity with his brush with death this fall was wearing on my optimisitic brother. Ron's always been energetic, outgoing, a natural leader, and one who rallies people. Dad wasn't having any of it when we took him to the park for a walk. "I can't walk, " he said, "My legs are useless and I can't get my breath." We'd just walked him to Macdonalds and he'd done just fine, complaining all the way mind you.
"You don't think about all the bullets you've fire but concentrate on the ones you've still got in your gun," I said,
"You can still eat and sleep and be with your family." Encouraging Dad to look at the positive I remembered them doing the same for me after I'd lost games in sports. What goes around comes around.
"Yes, that's true," he responded. He seemed to like the answer. "Count your blessings," I said wondering how many times I'd heard my Baptist mother say that to me.
When we were younger Dad had been the heart of enthusiasm. He was forever planning adventures, taking us on cross country car trips, camping and boating, always excited about people and things. Now we had to be there for him. He started out farming and logging with his father before joining the RCAF for WWII. After the war he worked as a millwright before completing his engineering. Working for Mathews Conveyours he was in charge of projects supervising a hundred and fifty men at a time. Those men he worked with I knew, told me, my father was a good man. It was years later I learned that 'good men' weren't that easy to come by, especially in those you had to work for. In his spare time, which he didn't have much of, he loved working on boats, cars, trucks and machines, He had the best of friends. An avid fisherman and hunter, he loved the outdoors. Most of all he loved mom and he loved his family.
e's afraid of falling down. Sat down on the floor when I was with him mistaking the space between the table and couch as a chair. I tried to catch him but all I could do was help him get up. Ill health can be depressing. He's lost weight and had lost his appetite but that's to be suspected with elderly people after major hospitalizations. Ron, with the years of training as a parent of three boys , him a hamburger at Macdonald's even when he said he wasn't hungry. He ate it all and said, "that was pretty good." I can see it's hard on Ron, parenting his parent.
Adell's cooking also got through to him and he even had the hot cherry pie with ice cream he'd insisted he couldn't eat. I loved my brother and his family seeing how much love they give Dad. He wouldn't be alive today were it not for Ron and their love.
When it came time to leave I told Dad that I'd be back in the spring with Gilbert. "I miss that little rascal," he said. I know, I thought, and wished I'd had him with me to spark Dad even more. But with his nephews and Adell fawning over him over the holidays and Ron and me prodding him to participate he really had rallied, nonetheless.
He had pedal edema and shortness of breath in the evening with some delirium as well. Watching him carefully I know the staff probably put that down to dementia. It's hard to sort these things out but I was glad to talk with the nurse and ask her to mention this to the doctor. I told her how I was really impressed but thought he might benefit from some medicine " tweaking" so he'd be less confused and disoriented in the evening. She'll mention it to the visitting doctor. He'll do what is right with the observations I've made. Being a physician I certainly didn't want to tell him what to do. But blood work is usually done in the morning and potassium abnormalities might show up in the night. He's on some potent meds that certainly can cause electrolyte imbalance and the geriatric patients are like babies when it comes to mental process and electrolyte balance. Even a fever can thrown them into another dimension. Really pleasant caring staff make all the difference..
But like all staff in medicine these days, over worked ,over stretched and caring for a lot more fragile or complicated and older population than days gone by. I never see the 'harried' looks I see in health care in general beurocratic offices so just feel that in addition to the constant proximity to diseasea and death the staff are working with restrictions and shortages that others can't imagine.
"I"ll be back in the spring with Gilbert," I told Dad hugging his frail body. It was the best Christmas I've known since Mom passed over. .
Thursday, December 22, 2011
8 people were there. Great company. Beautiful intelligent women and handsome non belligerent men.
Nuba on Hastings at Cambie was packed. It was Wednesday night and everyone seemed in that 25 to 45 affluent with it set. A few older guys like me were dotted about here and there but definitely not a grey carpet shiny dome place by any means. Alot of conversation but none of that 'loud' crowd. Very New York, Parisian eatery atmosphere. Surprisingly fluid.
The hostess was helpful and the waitress was a delight. Lots of suggestions. Interesting and novel drinks and food. By group consensus we went with the group platter with individual items. A wide range of exotically prepared Lebanese delights, mostly vegan, were to be shared , with wedges of bread for convenient nibble and bite or toff amounts. In addition everyone got to choose a personal kabob or something similar. I had a delicious lamb kabob while I noticed others had chicken and shrimp.. The Lebanese are known for their sea food but lamb is what I like best. If I say so myself, a very good choice.
But the communal platter with hummus spreads, and greens and just a whole boodle of tasty bits, more than enough for everyone, was the most fun. Everyone was sampling and comparing. Aim commented on the cultural aspects of food at one point with her and Joanne discussing how in Asian culture the discussion of food in general while eating food in particular was so much part of the process. Mark who had travelled the world over shared insights into food by comparison and actually had pictures in his iphone of recent dishes he'd enjoyed on his latest international flights.
Everyone was sharing stories as well. The laughter was infectious. After something Chris or Phil said we were all laughing and I wondered if we were being 'loud'. Laura or Elizabeth was telling a story when I realized every other table was bursting out with intermittent laughter too.. Some of it was the Christmas Season for sure but I really did think something about the decor, the staff, the way the tables were dispersed and the food just brought out the best in people.
Eventually we all seemed to slow down then stopped eating Even the occasional picking came to an end as we all sat happily sated.. The waitress appeared, asked if we wanted more, we were fine, the bill appeared and was extremely reasonable, not at all a burden by any means, given the luxury of the repast.
Then we were collectively mobilizing and saying fair wells and holiday well wishes outside across from the Victory Memorial Park on Hastings.
I really can't remember a group dining experience I more enjoyed in recent years. I've never had such an enjoyable work and staff outing, by any means.
Nuba seemed just perfect for a group function though I imagine all those couples who were interspersed among the larger tables might well go away ad say it was just right for them as well.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
So it was the Tikki Room at the Waldorf for Laura and I today after church. Gilbert protected the car. Sure enough the atmosphere was fantastic. The waitresses were delightful. Great energy. And the Rancho Huervos were out of this world. Best I've had in Canada. I even ordered them in Spanish thanks to my Simon Frazer spanish class. We loved it. The coffee was perfect too.
They won't have brunch again until the first week of January. Feliz Navidad.
It was fun. Thank you, Tracy!
It was good to be at Christmas Presence again. I've gone annually many years and never been disappointed. The musicians volunteer. There are actors and actresses, skits, readings and poems. It's about Advent and the Coming of the King. Christmas. Mary and the Manger. Jesus the Baby. Wisemen. All the Christmas Story told in emotions more than words. Songs of love and celebration. Witty tales of homespun lore. Stories told of contrasts between Christmas and consumerism. Tonight there was even the hilarity of Santa seen through the eyes of Mulder and Skully. If you visit the site you can see all who were there, keyboards, double drums, banjo, stand up bass, guitars. Sheree Plett, Peter La Grand, Jeremy Eisenhower, Nelson Boschnan Trio. Colin Stewart. Dwayne Harder. I bought those CD's on the table after the show so suspect these were among those playing. I don't know if they all were there. Everyone who came to play, to act, to perform arrived this evening and the consumate professionalism was amazing. Touched by grace no doubt. Thanks to all who played and came. Each year's a celebration of the mystery. A full house
"I'm not going to do that. I feel awful when I'm not clean." she replied.
"But we're already washed," I reminded her. Referring to our baptisms, of course. That which differentiated us from the 'unwashed".
"I'm still not going to church dirty," she answered
"What's the use of confession then" I said. She's the kind of girl who cleans up before the cleaning lady comes whereas I'm more likely to throw a bachelor party the night before the cleaners are due.
We both were happty to arrive in time for the sermon by Father Mark Greenaway-Robbins. With my Baptist background, church is all about the sermon. That and the gospel singing and bible readings, of course. Father Mark though doesn't beat us up with descriptions of hellfire and damnation so I'm never really sure I've heard a sermon. Growing up in an evangelical Baptist congregation I remember well the minister frothing at the mouth and painting glorious pictures of hell in such detail my father wondered if he knew more of that place than the destination where we were supposed to be heading.
Father Mark's sermons are mostly inspiring, informative and transcendent. He's even amusing at times. My friend, Laura likes his sermons immensely but given her Catholic background, she's only there for the wafer, if the truth be told. Just give a Catholic the body of Christ and they'd be happy. If ever the Catholics and Jehovah Witnesses got together they'd have drive through wafer's for sure to serve the need of busy Christians belonging to the 'wealth and health' evangelical factions.
St. James is afar more traditional Anglo Catholic. Father Mark's sermon touched on trust in God wisdom and love. Father Mark actually talked about the 'communion of saints' from the creed and prayer to Mary. Quite revolutionary thoughts for protestants but well in the mainstream of the mystical meditation revival in today's church. Televangelists can go on and on about prayer such that Christians decades back had to go to India to learn about meditation. Today the 'relationship with God' is central to the spiritual journney of Christians. We gather together in church to share peace. Yet our real spiritual journeys are in the work weeks between these oasis of gathering in the desert of modern materialist consumer society.
Christmas is a time of celebration. Advent tells us that Jesus is coming. Hallelujah.
After the service we joined dozens of other parishioners for coffee, tea and cake, the after church fellowship tradition. Laura borrowed a St. Thomas a Kempis book from the library and I kept Gilbert in chec. He was so excited to meet Bear and Dido, a couple of other church going dogs, that I was terrifed he'd want to express himself in piss elation. While Laura conversed with Elizabeth, Phil and I waxed poetic about world affairs and spiritual matters. Out of nowhere Karen appeared with Mathias and there were hugs all round. Mathias is walking now but Laura and I remember his baptism when he wasn't much bigger than a flesh formed idea.
Father Mark had in church today welcomed a 9 day old baby bringing the family to the front where we applauded them all for being there together so soon after such a monumentous occasion. The choir sang Emmanuel with especially fine voices.
And later Laura and I walked back to the car with Gilbert , all of us feeling just a little bit closer.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Always a head of the curve Joni Mitchell spoke to the conflict in society between those who liked machines and antiseptic surfaces and those who liked life and natural fractuals.
In the therapy context this revolves around 'pet therapy'. Naturally I don't want pigs in the operating room but all too often humans in recovery houses and nursing homes and even extended care wings of hospitals are denied live contact by some insaneity of cost effective management and a bit of parking lot mentality.
Gilbert is my pet therapist. He's a part of my office and does amazing work. I love watching my depressed patients come alive as he greets them with immense enthusiasm. My autistic patients warm to his touch and those isolated and alone find smiles with his happy presence.
He came after the fish. All my offices for decades have had fish. Long ago research showed that fish were calming. I was even more pleased when I learned in a feng shui review that fish tanks attracted wealth.
My fish tank remains in the waiting room while Gilbert goes from waiting room to office and back and forth with an interesting routine. A previous pet therapist dog, Shinto was more mature when he enterred my office and learning his mannerisms often gave further insight into patient's guarded emotional states. Gilbert as yet seems mostly to bring happiness to all.
I left a position as consultant to an extended care facility when the administration, far removed from reality among anything, very caught up in the bottom line and other anal matters, refused to allow the nursing staff to have a cat. I decided the writing was on the wall and that all the work we might try therapeutically was going to be against the effort of the administration to sterilize the building of all life including my own. I much preferred working for a head injury home where cats roamed the halls with patients.
I liked that St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver has long had a pet visitor service taking dogs about the wards to visit with anyone who cares to meet the pleasant canines.
It came as no surprise to read "The vital function that pets fulfill in this world hasn't been fully recognised. They keep millions of people sane". That's from Eckhart Tolle, author of Power of Now. I wholly agree. Gilbert wags his tail!
The true nature of the police is to 'serve and protect'. Their success stems from their close relationship with the community they serve in. Further they are most successful when they represent the community ideals. The fact remains that a fraction of all individuals are simply ferral and lack darwinian advancement to be able to consceputalize society at all. These are the psychopaths. Psychopaths object most to being put in jail with other psychopaths. They thrive on victims. A good police service is like the sheep dogs that serve the shepherd.
What is problematic is when the police serve tyranny or are politically at variance with the majority aims of the people. Further, police are distinctly different from the military. The military's function is to find the enemy and extingquish the threat. The paramitarization of the police is a concern because of the paranoid devision which results. Military need an group enemy whereas police theoretically don't.
Organized crime today is becoming for some a 'blue collar' police force acting where the 'white collar' police force has failed. Russia is described as in bed with the mafia and Japan has long cohabited with the Yakuza. Gangs provide an order out of disorder. There's a history of gangs and unions that speak to the service this misled groups have in adressing chaos. 'Steal a little and they put you in jail, steal alot and they make you king, ' was a saying of Dr. Johnson, the english political critic.
Meanwhile bullying was a means of gaining power whereas killing might cost one the power that threat and extortion gained. Southern writer Carl Hiaasen has quipped that the only things a southern politician can't do, all else being acceptable, is "being caught with a dead girl or a live boy "in their bed. There's a blurring of the boundaries which has given rise to various privatized 'security' forces and increased powers for 'private police'. Meanwhile in the school teachers are all on about 'anti bullying' which was once the 'private boys school learning grounds' for next generation leaders with hazing as central.
During the 30's in Germany and Europe as a whole there was a time of great spirituality and a time of eco awarenss.The great nudist and nature movements thrived between wars and prior to the development of the great police states of Communism and Nazism. It is both exciting and concerning that we are faced again with a time of great spirituality and eco awareness.
Today we have a soldier on trial for releasing secrets that Wikileaks passed on to the people. The 'secrets' showed the corruption in the high places of governemnt. Naturally this corruption undermined the 'police' themselves in North America. 9-11, the OJ trial, and countless other events have eroded our faith in the 'purity' and 'honesty' of leadership. At the height of the Goldman Sachs, Franny Mae and Freddy Mae debacle there were cocaine drugged executives whoring with high class prostitutes.
Locally a new 'watchdog' has been brought in to 'police' the 'police' yet hundreds break all manner of law defiantly squatting ('occupying '- note the military language) in public parks and 'disrupting traffic' because they like to. The normal police are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Increasing all over the world police are faced with containing 'protestors' in increasing 'civil war' like scenarios. Yet if they 'act' in day to day scenarios they will be scrutinized and if they avoid acting to catch criminals they will be playing it 'safe'. It's a confusing time to be a police man or woman.
The 'police' state depends on the judiciary. Increasingly there's 'centralization' of control and judges demanding that there be no criticizm of them while increasingly there's a demand, much like with 'wiki leaks' to film proceedings. The Vancouver Riots court cases are due to be televized. Not "Judge Judy' by any means, thank God, but a return to Solomon without the exclusivity and dark corridors. Meanwhile Philip Slayton's book, Mighty Judgement , How the Supreme Court Runs Your Life has been published to show Canadians just how free Americans are compared to Canadians who behaviour politically fluctuates from silliness and irrelevance to abject vassal stateship.
Meanwhile as Christians we believe that God is in control of all aspects of life including politics and law though Jesus did say that a different ruler ruled the world before his death by the judges and police of his day was supposed to change things. Hitchens died recently and was famous for saying if the religious felt their homes were in the afterlife and heaven why were the religious organizations, be they Christian, Catholic, Moslem or Jewish so intent on acquiring land and power in this world.
The paradox has always been that we are 'gods that shit'. We have minds capable of imagining peace on earth especially at Christmas but our bodies war with the very idea. Freud was afraid of the "id' and the unconscious, according to Jung and Milton Erickson who felt the unconscious was to be embraced.
The police state is all about the rational limitting the unrational to all extents and purposes. Historical 'rationality was the domain of man and irrationality the domain of women." This resulted in the quip that the heart has reason that the minds does not know of. Yet in British Columbia, though half of the lawyers graduating are female, two thirds leave law rapidly because they apparently are so excluded that the law society is now finally attempting to make more room in it's irrationally rational corridors for the rationally irrational sex. World War I was the war to end all wars and confirmed that the 'age of reason' had culminated in the most unreasonable of behaviour.
I for one am a healer. I'm on the side of motherhood and children. I think Dad's a bit over the top at times still I love him dearly. It's balance I love best. I'm a student of Freud but love Jung and Milton Erickson. I believe that all the gold and bullion put into the hands of the controllers with first the failed war on Drugs and now the war on Terror would best be divided with those in education and medicine. I think theres a place for prevention and enforcement but I think that we're way over the top with tanks in police forces.
I think it's time to win hearts and minds and if we did that we'd have a global police state that 'served and protected' rather than tended more and more to the para military.
In Canada we all have to re think Troudeau despite my personal love for his red carnation. His calling tanks into the streets of Montreal may well have been the greatest failure in our history. Perhaps the resurrection of the Canadian Liberal Party could phoenix from a re think of that sad moment in Canadian history.
I want to believe and see God in charge and know that I am safe in the hands of the Lord. I want to know too that my leadership isn't lying and stealing while smiling like Robert Hare's 'Snakes in Suits'. I would have more faith in the future if countries like Canada lobbied on behalf of Julian Assange of Wikileaks. We need to support authority but we can't stand for tyrrany.
Of course if Obama declares a state of war with China then we will have to accept 'loose lips sink ships' but until then we need to here and now to accept a Global Police State but work together to ensure that it's role remains 'to serve and protect'. My friends says, "there's no place left to run to." Of course, I'm following the latest Mars expedition with keen interest.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Laura, Gilbert and I loved the Fisherboy cabin I rented for a weekend of elk hunting this December. Terry and Barbara greeted us when we arrived with the warmest welcome. There's a general store with all we could want. Laura bought the makings for snacks and breakfast while I headed out with Gilbert to the bush. Fisherboy is right off Sayward Junction. That first night we walked the city block (our measurement) to the Cypress Tree Pub and Restaurant. Great meal and lovely host. Sayward has another restaurant but we would have had to take the truck for that one. Terry had given us directions to everything we wanted. His friend even recommended the areas where I might prove successful hunting elk. Gilbert enjoyed a walk around their grounds with all the great carvings. While Gilbert and I spent the next day hunting elk Laura enjoyed the cabin and grounds.
I shot an elk but rolled my ATV getting it out. Steve Mitchell, a local logger, helped me upright the ATV, drove it up to the road and helped Gilbert, me and the elk get back to my truck. Aching back happy spirit I rolled into Fisherboy. While I had a hot soak Laura was off to Terry and Barbara to get ibuprofen. Without their help I'd not have slept that night. In the morning they were all concerned I was okay. Terry had even offered the night before to hang my quartered elk in the freezer. The weather was cold enough I left it hanging in the truck. When I lived on Vancouver Island a decade or two back I always hunted in the Sayward region. It's even more notorious as a place for fishing. I'd love to go back anytime. It would be a great place to bring my RV next year for hunting or fishing or just exploring the mystical north Vancouver Island. Terry and Barbara certainly made Fisherboy a wonderful place to stay.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Laura, Gilbert and I headed out from Vancouver on Thursday night, catching the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. We spent the first night in Campbell River before going on to Sayward Junction to stay at the Fisherboy Cabins and RV Park. The Fisherboy was terrific. Laura and I loved the cabins The owners bent over backwards to be helpful and make our stay all we wished for.
Friday I got out to Elk Creek logging road but didn't see anything. I was glad to do the drill, a little slow driving in and watching in the Ford F350 diesel truck, unloading the Polaris 500 Sportsman ATV, a bit of driving about. Then stalking quietly along a mountain trail with Gilbert at heel behind me. Didn't see anything but shot a can with the rifle confirming all was well.
Back in Sayward we had a great pub meal at Cypress Tree, grandma's home cooking, before early to bed so I could be up before dawn.
Filling the truck at the Sayward Junction I heard from another hunter out for the last day of deer season that he'd seen the Elk herds around Eve River. At Fisherboy they'd told me the same. Can't argue with local knowledge. It was snowing when I headed up the highway and found the turn off. A logging truck pull out turned out to have a perfect split level to unload the ATV. I put the Ruger Stainless Steel 30:06 we'd named 'sexcaliber' years ago when it came shining out of the box like a great modern sword, onto the front rack. I put my Mossberg lever action 30:30 as a back up in the Polaris Rifle holder at the back. Gilbert was in his sweater and harness strapped in behind me. The snow was falling great flakes and the roads were slippery. I was glad to be on the ATV with the truck parked safely.
I took the East Main and found I was riding alongside a river, maybe the Eve. The wind and flurries of snow were coming into my face muffling sound and ensuring my scent wasn't going to give us away to upwind game. I was headed for the Adam when I found tracks and droppings. I parked the ATV at that. An exciting moment. Gilbert was really excited to be out of the harness and beside me as we stalked along the road. I just stepped into the bush to look through to the clearing when I saw a great elk head. I was looking at the face 50 yards away and then just as quickly it was gone. With Gilbert at my heels I ran a ways backwards to where there was a pile of slash which I climbed to the top of trying to get elevation to see the elk. I waited and used my binoculars to look the whole valley over Then I back moved up the road a bit and climbed an even big pile of slash and wood to binocular the area further on. I wouldn't have seen them without the binoculars.
But there on the other side of valley I saw the female with another one, whose gender I couldn't tell as it was standing more in the woods. I lifted my rifle to get the female in my sights. She was looking at me from what I figured was 300 yards away. (Later with the Bushnell RAngefinder I found it was only 200 yards) I didn't lift the shot but aimed at the chest just below the neck. BANG. I don't know if I hit her with that shot. But she turned to follow the other into the bush. I had a broadside shot then, bolted home another shell, sited on the heart and BANG. That definitely hit. She shuddered and stood still. I remembered Bill Mewhort telling me moose hunting that they're big game so keep shooting till they're down. I bolted home another shell. BANG. I was shooting freehand without a rest almost tippy toe on top of the slippery mound of slash and wood. She was staggering when I got another shot off. BANG. That one hit for sure too because she sat right down and rolled over. Down and dead. I gave thanks in prayers.
But now the work began. I got my hatchet and rope from the ATV and had trouble just climbing down the hillside into the valley. Crossing the valley where there'd been logging and the ground was all strewn with stumps and couple of year old growth was a struggle in itself. I knew I was in for a hard day of work.
Gilbert found her before I did He was running a few yards ahead and just stopped when he saw that big body lying there in the bog. I gave thanks then. I'd shot an elk, my first one and it was big. I took a picture or two before settling into field dressing. It was like doing a moose. Once I had the field dressing done I began quartering. I was really glad for the hatchet. I was a couple of hours do this, The adrenaline was gone and I was exhausted with all the cutting ahd cleaving. I was thankful for my Bowen Island hand made knife that kept a mean edge. Gilbert began keeping an eye on the bushes when I was almost done the quartering. He began grunting like he was smelling something he didn't like.
I always keep my rifle handy when field dressing. But here there are cougar and Gilbert's barks hurried me along. It's an awkward thing to wear a rifle and haul quarters up a hill but we've all heard the stories of guys getting mauled by bear while hauling meat out. I got meat the first hundred yards up the hill figuring if I left the offall whatever was bothering Gilbert would be less likely to bother us. The shoulders were an easy pull but the hind quarters were murder. I missed a back board. I'd carried a moose out a mile or so with quarters on the back board, 20 years younger, and that was a whole lot easier than pulling these dead weights over the countless logs strewn all over. I had to get the elk up to one ridge down through a valley then up the hill to the road. It was a bout a half mile or more but it seemed like forever.
I'm a desk jockey and I think a cowboy or logger wouldn't be so fagged by all the pulling and hauling. I began getttin charley horses in my thighs. I had chocolate bars and a red bull but I really needed an airlift.
I finally had all the elk, my rifle, hatchet and clothes a hundred yards down from the steep incline to road. That's when I figured I could use the winch on the Polaris. I figured I'd just drive it down the incline as far as I could then run the winch down to haul each quarter up. I'd left half the ribs because I'm not a big fan of ribs in general and just half the ribs were almost as heavy as a hind quarter. So 4 quarters and ribs to hauld. I tied the rope together and ran the rope on the winch out.
That's when the winch didn't work. I tried to get it to come in on 'in' but it wouldn't. Instead it hauled in on "out". Once it was in then it simply wouldn't go out and I couldn't find a release lever and promised myself for the umpteenth time that in future I'd read all the instructions. I'd counted on using the winch to get the atv back up the slippery slope over the logs if need be. In the mean time I hauled the rest of the meat up to the atv stopping and working out charley horses. Then I turned the atv without any meat on it and tried to head up the slope. I knew I was back heavy. I just didn't know I'd catch on a log and with the trapped back wheel and that initial burst of low power speed I'd literally lift up and flip back over , ass over tea kettle.
It all happened so fast. I just remember the ATV lifting, and me going back with the beast coming down on top of me. I was glad I had a helmut on because it hit a log and then I was just lying there trapped under the ATV. As I'd gone over I'd felt my lower back stretching impossibly as my body was pushed forward into the saddle. The back seat and windshield additions helped me. First thing I did was wiggle my toes. All's well when you can feel your feet.
Gilbert was right beside me licking my face and obviously distressed. I was so weak and in shock I couldn't get the ATV up but I could release the extra gas tank and with that off I could shimmy my body out from under the TV. I thanked God to be free. Then I turned off the ATV.
I didn't think to take a picture. I wish I had. It was like a sick upsight down turtle. A sad sight. My back was aching something fierce and my legs were cramping. It was all I could do to get myself up to the road. Carrying my rifle I headed back towards the truck. It was going to be a long painful walk. Gilbert was a great companion.
I had a radio and tried calling for help on different frequencies but it's not like a phone. Someone has to be listening.
With a charley horse in my thigh, my low back killing me and miles to go I put the radio away and began praying seriously Jesus help me.
I believe in miracles and I believe in the power of prayer.
Steve Mitchell came around the corner in his superduty truck. I told him I'd rolled my ATV. I think I looked a sight. He said, "hop in" and we drove the couple of miles back to the wreck. We walked down the hill.
"First thing we have to do is right this thing " he said. I'm used to being around crazy people so just went right along with him. Together we pushed. Sure enough it turned over. Steve is a strong man and I figure his pushing accounted for 90% with me adding maybe 10% to the equation. But there was the Polaris upright. Next thing Steve did was get the keys from me and started it up.
"Do you want me to drive this out of here for you," he asked.
"Sure," I said. "I'm a doctor so if you don't make it I can help you. It's just that I can't help myself." He laughed and with a fair amount of cursong and wheeling about in the logs and moss he had it on track and drove it up the incline over the lip and onto the road. Amazing.
Then we were doing more of the 90%/ 10% thing Steve and me hauling the quarters together up to the road. I couldn't lift them at all there but he lifted them like they were half the weight into the back of big truck. Steve is a big and strong man.
"I'll follow you back to ensure the ATV doesn't break down." he said.
"Mind if Gilbert goes with you," I asked. Gilbert was cold and wet and I didn't know where his harness had got to.
"Not at all." You could tell Gilbert thought the warm truck cab was a great idea.
Off we went. Me doing 30 km for the next half hour wondering how I'd ever have walked that distance in the pain and cold. I realized alone I'd not have made my truck till sometime in the middle of the night. It was already dusk.
At the truck, I got the ramp out and Steve drove the ATV on.. Then he carried the quarters over.
I asked him what I could give him
"I just know what it is to be broken down out in the woods. I couldn't take anything."
"What about ahind quarter."
"Too much explaining if I was caught with it." he said throwing the final hind into my truck.
"It would have cost me hundreds to get a tow truck out here. That was my plan. Could I give you a few hundred for your time, at least"
"I couldn't take it," he said. "But I'll follow you to Sayward to make sure you make it back safely."
"Then take this, " I said handing him a knife. "It's my favourite folding knife. Keep it to remember the day you saved my life."
He liked that and smiling got back in his truck to follow me back to Sayward.
I was glad for the company. I could mostly only go at 80, my back killing me and concentration hard in the snow and wet slippery road.
At Sayward he pulled along side to say "You should be okay now" before driving ahead to the restaurant. I drove onto Fisherboy where Laura met me at the cabin. I was seized up by then and had trouble getting out of the truck .
" I flipped the ATV and hurt my back a tad." I said hobbling into the cabin. Gilbert was beside himself to see her, telling her all about his adventures in ecstatic barks.
She was all for taking me to hospital whereas I was intent on getting into the hot shower and then the hot tub.
"I got an elk, " I told her. "It's quartered in the truck. Steve Mitchell, is an saint. Remember that name. I'd spent three or four hours pulling those quarters through hell when I got to the 50 yards from the road and tried to get the ATV down a bit where I could winch them up the steep incline. The winch jammed and trying to drive out I flipped the ATV. I hurt my back coming down. Nothing broken just ligaments stretched. I was caught underneath which upset Gilbert but I got free and walking out til Steve came. He got the ATV upright. Drove it up the incline then we hauled the quarters up to take them back to my truck in his truck. He just drove behind me all the way back here to make sure I was safe. We were 30 or 40 km up the road and some 15 km back in the bush."
"Steve Mitchell," she said. "I wish there was some way I could thank him for getting you two back here."
"I got an elk." I said between groans.
"I think you should go to the hospital."
"They'd not do anything."
"You're in pain. I"ve never seen you in such pain"
"It will make the elk tastier for all the effort."
Much to both our surprises we didn't even have an aspirin or tylenol between us.
"I'll see if they have some ibuprofen or tylenol at the store"
I stayed in the tub trying not to move until she returned with meds. I took three or four times the recommended dose then lay in bed watching funny Christmas movies. Humor helps.
"Did I tell you I shot an elk," I asked Laura again.
She'd given Gilbert a bath because he was covered in mud and blood and so wanted to cuddle.
It's morning now. I slept quite a bit. Gilbert had me up a few times in the night growling and together we checked the elk in the truck. He's pretty proprietary when I've shot game. Now it's time to get going. It was a really cold night but it's going to warm up as we head south and I want to get the meat to the butcher without delay.
"Laura, did I tell you I shot an elk?"
Friday, December 9, 2011
I stopped at River Sportsman for ammunition. It's always been known as the place for fishing tackle. But sure enough, they had rifles and ammunition. Just what I wanted too.30:06 180 grain Nozzler Partition. Lots of designer outdoor clothing too. The prettiest little 18 yo girl with blond hair and facial piercings seemed dressed tastefully enough to help me pick something warm for Laura. "She's very 'pink', I said, "and think 'sexy grandmother" With that she showed me the perfect pink and green hoodie with a cammo motif. I now had the the ammo and designer hoodie.
"Is there a breakfast place you could recommend, " I asked.
"Ideal Cafe," she said. "it's the best food all round but their breakfast is awesome." The older fellow who might have been the owner or her father nodded sagely behind her. I got directions.
Breakfast at the Ideal Cafe just leaving Campbell River to Sayward, over the bridge. Superb pan fries, great sausage. "I love the bacon." said Laura. I remembered to get a 'take out' sausage for Gilbert . He agreed. Best food, ever. The waitress was smart and cute. the decor and cleanliness of the place all round was just as one might hope.
Laura and I both used the washrooms, last stop before Sayward.
My assistant, Joanne, was tasked with finding me a pet friendly hotel room hopefully with a sauna, in Campbell River. Laura, Gilbert and I had decided on a getaway months back but only confirmed it this week. I had the time booked off, work being so demanding and breaks being essential to staying healthy in face of all the ill health that comes with the trade, but only barely tore myself away leaving skin and bits of flesh at the last minute. Laura's superiors were away so she just 'emailed" them. Gilbert packed up his toys, sweaters and food and told the cat to manage on her own.
It was a mad dash for the Horseshoe Bay Ferry. Working, last minute, calls, an excess of faxes and emails, collecting clothes, a trip to the storage locker and finally making it to the terminal an hour before last sailing. I was told then that I couldn't have an extra jerry can in the truck. There was no where to dispose of the extra jerry can. Now one lovely woman working for BC ferries and her younger compatriot tried to offer a solution suggesting I fill the extra jerry can with water. However it was half full with gas already The older male, his mind clearly demented by year of beaurocratic service, kept telling me I couldn't take the jerry can with me and denying me the ability to despose of it all the while taking great 'little man' delight in my 'catch 22' experience. Finally a fellow worker suggested that I could fill the jerry can and the truck behind me was more than happy to carry it as there's.
All this seems a minor glych in the trip but was a typical example of how minds ruled by 'protocols' and 'laws' couldn't possilby find their ass even if both hands were attached to it. The majority of those present took no pleasure in my poor plight and came en mass to my assistance giving me great hope for life on earth despite the monster machine absorbing weak minds at an apparently increasing rate.
The ferry itself was a joy. White spot fries are unbeatable. The burger was scrumptuous. A moon came down out of the sky and followed the great ship in it's wake. Before we knew it we were at Nanaimo, a city I've grown to admire more and more each year.
We travelled up the new highway at 110 km hour until we reached Campbell River. Thats when I realized Ocean Resort isn't in Campbell River as advertised. Downtown Campbell River is 20 miles north of Oyster Bay. Ocean Resort is across the road from Oyster Bay Resorts.
We travelled back 20 miles along the ocean front road, island highway, so that Laura could have that experience women just live for," pissed off man, driving truck, late at night, cursing."
Thank God, Ocean Resort was spectacular. If it hadn't been I might well have driven threw it with the Ford F350. Unfortunately the Resort has 'namaste' written on the door. Namaste means "The God in me salutels the God in you'. It being late, I couldn't come up with an equivalent sanskrit saying "The Devil in me pisses on the Devil in you". The resort was so peaceful with the sound of lapping water that it was increasingly hard for me to nurse on the tit of resentment.
Ocean Resourt advertises itself as a peaceful healing spa and retreat. Even if the people don't know where they are located they are at peace. When I had my guns out of the truck and into the room that others have obviously meditated long hours in I was more than ready for the Sauna.
I couldn't find the sauna but found the hot tub room locked.
That's when I found out that all the 'peacefully healling" facilities were closed after 9 oclock . We arrived at 9:15. A helpful note suggested that the steam rooms and such could be opened for later but that arrangement had to be made with the front desk. The front desk had noted that they left at 8 pm. So I was left standing in my robe and slippers in the hall , meditating. The 'peaceful easy feeling' business isn't up to 24 hours a day. Which probably explains why people like me who come from 24/7 cities can get 'peace' from smart people like them in the country who tell people lime to 'f' off', but in a nice pc California west coast way, so they can be rested up and peaceful during the day. I can't imagine anyone working here having had any days like I did that day.
Struggling to hold onto the tit of resentment despite the incredibly elegant and peaceful surroundings, I came back and told Laura that the note had been for an 'ocean view' room. Instead, we were looking at my truck in the parking lot. Laura, not being at all helpful, said "You always prefer to be in rooms where you can watch your truck. We can't see the ocean in the dark, anyway." Gilbert took Laura's side as usual. So feeling ganged up on I pouted.
Thankfully the television had a thousand channels. I found the Mentallist. In addition the owners had left drinks and such in the hallway with , imagine, an honor system for paying $2 for diet soft drinks, juices and granola bars. The whole fridge was full and I had just come from downtown eastside Vancouver and had an empty duffle bag in my room.
Beside the fridge they had cards offering massage, reiki, reflexology and all manner of peace inducing activities. None were on an emergency basis. There was no 'on call' reiki master, either. Gilbert, Laura and I made do with diet coke, ginger bread men and the "Mentalist" on tv. I wrote down what I'd taken from the refridgerator just to humor them.
The room itself reminded Laura and I of the rooms we had in Milan. Just lovely. The bed was unbelievably comfortable. It was attached to the floor and I considered in the morning getting an axe from the truck but by then there was a guard at the front desk, meditating
A whole room of healing books and crystals , couches and computer consoles was now unlocked and open to the public suggesting that while management trusted guests such as me with juices they were more circumspect with high tech internet consoles.
Gilbert and I walked all over the simply beautiful grounds. We even did a stroll on the drift wood strewn beach. Laura meanwhile spent hours and days in the bath luxuriating in the spiritual atmosphere of the place. Eventually she came out smelling fragrantly and I was able to get in and have a dump.
Given how Laura can literally lap up spa experiences and my obvious need for them it was all we could do to pull ourselves away from what was obviously meant for city folk such as us needing to reconnect spiritually and emotionally with our inner holiness.
Gilbert however had other plans and herded us out to the truck so we could go north to where flannel shirts were de rigour and an elk was waiting to sacrifice herself for her loved human and canine planetary fellow beings. Namaste.
The sermon was intriguing. I later discussed interpretation of Greek and Aramaic with a friend who told me that Hebrew wasn't a language in the day of Jesus. That discussion I had outside Dug Out later that day had concerned state of 'hopelessness'. Advent was the season of greatest hope. "Spirituality" has also been considered as 'hopefulness'.
Listening to a friend in despair, an aetheist, who wanted to believe in anything because he said he'd lost even that capacity, I was reminded of "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani" from Mark 15 in the New Testament, among the last sayings of Jesus on the cross. "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me." In contrast to my friend, Jesus in his greatest pain didn't lose his belief in God. Indeed he continued to speak to God with his dying breath. It was that discussion of that passage and whether it was originally in Greek or Aramaic that the discussion of language of translation and interpretations arose. My other friend who believes was discussing with me our mutural friend who doesn't and what we could do to help him when he insists he's beyond help.
Certainly that line, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani" is open to multiple interpretations. Some might say it condemns the whole Christian religon and reflects Jesus' losing faith in himself as well as God. Personally I've always found comforting that Jesus didn't speak to his father in a 'churchy' way. By the standards of the 'authorities' he was downright 'irreverent'. Personally I've questioned God's actions in my life and with even a toothpick cross I'm likely to cry out "lami sabachthani'. I'm a big fan of preventative prayer. I'd hate to hold off questioning God's providence to my dying breath.
That said, church is a great experience. Elizabeth greeted us at the door and made Gilbert's day. Elizabeth is one of his favourite aunts so he was happy to hang out with her greeting people rather than being hushed by me and required to lie quiet under the pew.
A pew is a bench in a church. Despite sounding something vaguely 'bodily' it referrs to the holy bench. As little boys in church we thought they were called that because of all the bums that had been on them and all the farts they must have known. I think that discussion occurred in Sunday school when we were supposed to be studying the Bible.
The choir is the group of people that sing at the back. The choir as St. James Anglican Church is particularly entertaining. Church choirs are the source of all great rock and rollers like Elvis Presley, John Lennon, John Cleese and such. Mostly people start singing in choirs and go on from the church to the secular world where they take off half their clothes, add some bawdy bits and get rich quick. These days the choir members mostly get into country. Better hairdos. It's hard to believe but it's likely most of the rappers had their debutes vocally in church. That's where Aretha Franklin's began. While the Chinese communists continue to focus on ranting the underground Christian movement is turning computer geeks and ping pong players melodic.
Communion is the time when everyone is invited to go up to the front and be given wafer and a sip a wine sharing in the 'last supper' of Jesus when he said that the bread he shared with the disciples represented his body and the wine he shared represented his blood. This has led to anthropologists likening Christianity to the ancient of ancient cannibal festivals where the tribe ate the king. Joseph Campbell, Robert Graves and Carl Jung were fascinated by the Last Supper. Theologically there's tremendous conflict over whether the bread and wine are actually Christ, or just symbollic. Scientists, especially physicists today are more likely to go for the actual Christ interpretation whereas the arty fart artists with their new word 'brand' and new 'spins' of 'marketting' would tend toward the 'symbolic'. It's not really supposed to be understood in the temporal sense no matter what Science says about 'timescape' and St. Augustine says about time. The real question always is whether we're spiritual being having an earthly sojourn or material beings having spiritual insights.
Psychiatrists like to think that if the group participates in the collective psychosis of different religions then that explains why the religious are most healthy and less likely individually to be psychotic. Secular folk figure more and more that the collective psychosis of state and law should satisfy the need for the absurd and ludicrous. " As above, so below", that sublime spiritual saying goes, suggesting simply that Wall Street is just the white collar equivalent of Vegas. Einstein however couldn't believe that God played dice.
It really wasn't that long ago either that the decline in ethics and morality in the 'new world order' caused a famous newspaper journalist to write a piece which simply asked what's the difference between 'political parties' and 'street gangs'. In the past it was answered spiritually but today it's apparently measured in whose got more military hardware. CBC just reported on an US police department acquiring tanks as part of a US army arrangement that allows them to dump yesterdays technology on the police forces of America for free rather than destroy them or sell them off second hand in the middle east.
Church is a peaceful place in contrast. This probably is a result of a moment taken in the middle of the service where we all look around and shake hands or greet those about us. It disrupts those of us having homicidal thoughts towards our immediate neighbours. We say "Peace". It may just be that the religious realize that they'd better sort out relationships mid service to avoid altercations at the end of the service.
Whatever, everyone leaves the church, not like they might after a good morning of sex, but as Anglicans, looking and feeling like we might have just come from a very pleasant and civilized tea with Jesus. It's that kind of uplifting. The week of work and CBC and government and law all seem so much easier to tolerate after a good visit with the Lord.
I know people say they like to have their own time with their own spiritual focus and I am all for that. It's like the exercise I always plan to do when I'm doing it myself. At the gym I actually get down to business. At church I'm sure of at least an hour thinking of something other than the struggle of mortal existence, the rat race and how to survive the rise and fall of the American Empire in Canada.
Jesus is coming. Hallelujah.
I think that people who make a point of getting to the store before Christmas, money and consumerism being their religion, might consider a visit to a church to get some of that 'old time religion' just for a change. Now, that's my evangelism.
Evangelism is an old word for wearing the team sweater and having that little yoga symbol on the otherwise nifty comfortable west coast blue jean alternatives slacks. It's kind of like having a bud lite beer bottle on a ball cap or tshirt. In this case I've got this dead man on some wood hung about my neck. If Jesus were whacked today by the authorities I'd probably wear an electric chair with a 30 year bearded guy strapped in for the ride.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
More recent cases have definitely fit a pattern as the patients were wealthy and their hoarding was causing them personal distress and social distress. In one case the person's residence was considered a fire hazard by the fire department and they were ordered to address the problem that had accumulated over decades. in another case the pateint insisted on wanting to unload the clutter but found it impossible to let go of anything.
There's no agreed definition as yet. The terms for hoarding include, hoarding, compulsive hoarding, pathological hoarding, and disposophobia. The suggestion is that the collection of things of various values is outside the normal and somehow interferes with basic activities and mobility.
It should be noted that there's a potential implicit social discrimination in this definition because obviously the rich can aquire several homes beyond the normal and yet with all that space to store loot in it would clearly not interfere with their mobility or community safety. Indeed if the very rich were truly concerned they could buy a fire department to put up beside their houses of hoarding. This might well be what museums and galleries are, a window dressing for a more nefarious disorder, a whole area of discussion best left for the political sociologists..
The first cases of obvious hoarding i saw were 'downsized' elderly patients I did home visits on. Because their finances were such they'd had to move from large houses to small apartmentsl One man was living in a few feet of his apartment with the rest of it serving as storage space. The difference between most hoarders and 'collectors' is that 'collectors' have a better appreciation of 'value' and their collections have potential financial value. One patient had an extraordinary number of comic books which caused his family to joke and make fun of him until the day he sold just one of them for thousands. This does suggest that the term 'hoarding' needs to clearly separate itself from 'collecting'. Further, one man's treasure is another man's junk.
Somewhat tragically one of my patients thought his 'stash' was potentially valuable but due to his schizophrenia and head injury his assessment of value was grossly impaired. I asked him what he thought the 'stuff' he had was 'worth' and what it would have to be worth before he sold it. His assessments were grossly off and grossly inflated. Yet I've a friend now who has kept furniture from an old house in a storage locker sufficiently long that she might well have put a downpayment on a new house with the accumulated rent that the storage locker has cost her to store her depreciating furniture.
There is a false sense in the general public that 'stuff' has intrinsic value without realization that the buyer and seller of second hand goods must be able to store them, have them viewed and connect buyer and seller in some way with alot of work establishing attractive prices. Ebay and Craig's List and Kikiji have all turned what might once have been called 'junk' into good transferable 'cash'. This then is another consideration in the world of 'hoarding'.
I have personally the problem of replacing old stuff with new and taking an inordinate amount of time getting the old out. I can think of several pairs of shoes due for disposal but i don't want to throw them in the dustbin and keep meaning to drop them off at the special bin for recycling clothes for the poor. The constraints of time and the priorities of my life make acquisition more important than disposal. When I trip over the old I'm more likely to raise the priority to a higher level which is a trait that most hoarders lack. They seem to develop a 'blind eye' to the increasing abnormality of their environment in a way 'addicts' fail to see themselves as others do.
This has caused hoarding to overlap somewhat with shopaholism, one of the addictive diseases. Compulsive buying though in research is showing up to be a distinctive disorder, possibly part of a spectrum, but definitely distinct from the inability to dispose of goods. Hence the term 'disposophobia suggesting that true hoarders suffer less from acquring than a failure to let go.
There's been an attempt to differentiate hoarders in a way like the traditional a, b,c classification of personality disorders. Cluster A hoarders then are more bizarre with schizophreniform hoarding and explanations. These are those people who have food items in their refridgerators for years yet ignore this eat them and become sick because they can't accept that certain things have lost their value. Alternatively cluster b extroverted personalities are more likely to hoard things with a future plan and wheeling dealing strategy. Cluster C being introverts and more overtly fearful with the ocd classification thrown in here would hoard because of fears of 'not having'. B 's intend to get rich while c's would fear the future and believe they would need the 'loot' in the event of a catastrophe.
Certainly there's a lot of 'anxiety associated with hoarding.
One hoarder I saw that comes to mind began hoarding in grief though.. This may well be a way things such as this start. A major involuntary loss in life is dealt with by holding on to what one can. I know that one person simply could not let go of many things that had been associated with a previous loved one till they had worked through their grief. Perhaps this will be considered a special subset or if clinicians do detailed enough histories they would find this more common as a starting point. As yet no one knows simply because the studies haven't been done.
For hoarding to be a disorder it must be a concern to the individual or society. It's important to note that my concern for my neighbour's collection of vintage cars has nothing to do with my concern for him. I have frank envy and this might well express itself as my wanting to help relieve him of his obvious burden and perhaps even assist "treating' his disease by taking that particularly nice porche off his hands.
In contrast my patient was simply ashamed and embarassed by her own inability to deal with collected clutter. She had taken to closing rooms and not having people over. It was affecting her life dramatically.
My own treament in the few cases i've been priviledged to be of assistance has begun with an SSRI medication such as prozac or cipralex. There are a variety of these and as yet there's not a clear picture of which is best. With my OCD patients prozac certainly was the best but zoloft seemed to work best as a first line treatment for the ptsd patietns who were considered part of the overall 'anxiety' classification. So I've used an SSRI to begin with and found that in the few cases I've treated the dosage necessary was higher rather than lower than the normal dosage.
Naturally I've provided some insight, cognitive behavioural and supportive psychotherapy. Motivation therapy approaches have helped. Planning and setting a date and keeping a journal have also been useful.
In addition I've encouraged the patient to go through the clutter with a friend or family member. The fact is, I personally can't let go of old t shirts, each with a memory attached but a friend could well make the task very easy by noting that many of the ones I work on my boat or motorcycle with are long over due for turning to rags.
"It's a Wonderful Wife" is a company locally where a woman recognised that men and women often needed a person to do things like clean clutter which was the role of the 'traditional wife'. I've given patients the card of this organization and another whose name i have at the office. These people have for a reasonable fee done wonders to 'cure' the immediate problem. The fire department was definitely satisfied with their assistance in one particular case. Given the established use of 'anxiety buddies' well established for use in plane phobias and agaraphobia it's not surprising that this approach is so successful. However, the disorder is a relapsing, waning and recurring one and my patients had a tendency to get right back into the old patterns so medication and therapy had to be continued for at least a year .
To date MRI studies can distinquish hoarders with OCD from non hoarders with OCD. It appears that hoarders have the greatest activity in decision making areas of the brain suggesting impairment and difficulties in those areas.
At present the research is 'early' but it's a particularly interesting area considering the 1 and 99% placards at Occupy Wall Street Perhaps in the near future the Goldman Sachs and Humbug Scrooge will be treated for their disorders with brain surgery rather than dream therapy.