Monday, February 28, 2011

Ron and Adell's Home

Every time I visit my brother's family, seeing my Dad and nephews I realize just how much activity is a daily part of Ron and Adell's lives. They've both had outstanding careers with their own collection of interests, sports and activities. They've even had dogs.  But beyond that there are these once children now young men and now their friends passing through their house.  Dad had become tired walking around the Canadian Aviation Museum remember his days as a young man as an RCAF Lancaster bombadier in WWII.  Why not rest at Ron and Adell's for a little peace and quiet.  There's no peace a quiet.  There's constant activity but it's obvious Dad likes being there with all the hustle and bustle going on around him.  Allan, the youngest, now bound for university psychology was playing with Gilbert who was more than happy to chase and retrieve a tennis ball.  Andrew, the geologist in making, gamer extraordinare and his artist friend Tania were making a game console for the university.  Graeme, chemical engineer and film maker  meanwhile was setting up his telescope disappointed in new cloud cover, for astronomical photography.  In the midst of this they all would periodically text and receive texts from various friends and projects they were involved in while they interacted here in the home, kindly including me in their controlled chaos and creativity. It was just a day in the life.  The Oscars were about to start.  And at  some point Ron and Adell having been  busy barbecuing and in the kitchen called everyone to the table. We ate.  The best photos are always the ones on the refridgerator where the greatest art appears. The most deserving of Oscars are the family productions.  Dad&Graham.jpg Allan.jpgAndrew&Tania.jpgAndrew&Tania2.jpgTania.jpgGraeme.jpgGraeme2.jpgGreameAndrewTania.jpg

Feeding the birds with Dad and Ron

My brother, Ron, the photographer, takes beautiful bird pictures. A major part of his success is knowing where the birds are.  The other part is carrying bird seed.  Dad and he often go to his special place in the woods around Kanata where the chickadees and nuthatches will gladly feed out of your hands.  Gilbert, the dog, had to stay in the car.  Cats are definitely unwelcome.  The squirrels though are glad that the entertaining birds bring them such bounty. One actually wonders if these furry tailed fellows aren't their agents the way the hang about in the background waiting for their cut after the show.  bird0.jpgbirds1.jpgsquirrel2.jpgbirds2b.jpgbirds3.jpgbirds3.jpgbirds4.jpgbirds5.jpgsquirrel1.jpgsquirrel2.jpg

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gilbert and Some Family

Gilbert has been visitting family in Ottawa.  Here he's with his Granddad.  He's also with his uncle Ron and Cousin Andrew. Dad&gilbert2.jpg



Friday, February 25, 2011


Lyle is one of the truly amazing people in the Downtown Eastside.  An unsung hero, he is a genius in film having made countless films of the community using it's own local people for actors  He was there long before reality tv in the early years of Vancouver Film.

He is commonly found at the Dug Out where he likes the coffee and company. His friends who visit there include law professors, doctors, craftsman, artists, sculpturers, chefs and just plain ordinary folk.  He's popular with the gentle women. He has daughters of his own and loves to show pictures of his grandkids.

He had a stroke some time back. Lesser men would have died.  More would have given up. Lyle just kept on, taking each day as it came,  eventually learning to walk again and even getting some speech back.  At first opportunity, he had a digital camera and eventually was fitted up with a lap top computer.  After that he was back to his favourite corner of the world.  He celebrates the the healthy culture and people of the downtown east side. He shows the world the flowers that grown amidst the garbage.   Alot of outsiders like to tourist down here.  Lyle is an insider..

His friend Al likes to say "isolation is the darkroom I develop my negatives in."  Al played guitar down on Bleeker Street back when Paul Simon wrote the 60's song with that name.  Sometimes Al brings his guitar and sits there in the corner of the Dug Out beside Lyle working out the fingering of some lead. They make the effort to get out and mingle.  They're good company.

Most people would think that the men that frequent the Dug Out are down and out.   Some were. There's an AA meeting every day at 12 30 and folks come there to share what it was like when they drank and did drugs in the Down Town Eastside.  Now they're clean and sober and passing on what they have to those who want to change.

A first nations woman came regularly to the Dug Out in her wheelchair till one day she didn't leave the hospital. There are pictures of people like her on the wall. Alot of first nations folk come to the dug out when they're tired of the bars.  There's coffee and often there's free bread.  Different charitable groups will come by and serve food for those who line up.  It's a rough life for those living on the streets.  The Dug Out is a safe haven..

Drug and alcohol workers and  ministers stop  there too.  The Salvation Army detox is around the corner and folk that help in such places working sometimes after they came at first for help just come by for coffee.  Local artists like Jay just drop by for a break..  Others watch the games on the wide screen tv.

All of us who work in the area when we do stop by the Dug Out often see Lyle. He always smiles and waves even though the stroke makes his smile more an effort than for most.  I find his smile a pillar of spirituality.  I like getting his thumbs up too.DSC_0013.jpg


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Civil Disobedience

Henry Thoreau, the American philosopher, famous for his book, Walden Pond, his minimalist stay for a time in fellow philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson's cabin, wrote a tract on Civil Disobedience.  He further refused to pay taxes at one time resulting in being jailed. The Americans, starting with their refusal to pay the increasing tea taxes and the resulting Revolution of Independence, have had a long history of grass roots revolt that began historically with England's Magna Carta and the French Revolution.
Throughout history the line between tyranny and anarchy has moved back and forth much like the power struggles of parents and children.
The revolutions of the USSR saw the separation of Hungary, Checkoslovakia and eventually the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Today we see Tunisia and Egypt demand for a different regime.
In western democracies the leadership has been 'smug' seeing these upheavals as vindicating the various 'party' systems and apparent choices available to citizens of the once great revolutionary empires, England, France and the United States of America.
The argument goes that 'there' they are fighting for 'basic rights' whereas here in 'paradise' no one should be fighting at all because the conditions are so much better. The French Queen had said , "Give them cake" thinking that's what the guillotine was ultimately about. Truly a costly mistake.  And one that seems possible for the truly materialistic rich today who are so far removed from this planet as to comprehend the dignity in Tienemen Square.
They may think, sure a few people will lose their passes to tanning salons and go from owning houses to renting houses but really is that what it's about. Each side is spewing  more of the rhetoric which is strewn all over a debate which left 4 dead at Kent State.
Jesus said he brought a new accord and that the message of peace would turn fathers against sons and brothers against brothers.  Reform simply is the enemy of anyone who benefits from the status quo.  Evolution comes with equal parts of pain and  devolution.
The western revolution of change began in the 60's at a time when the polls began with 80% of people believing the statements of the leadership, specifically about the Vietnam war and ultimately about the 'special interest' groups transforming the 'democracy' of Washington.  With the revelations of the media, Watergate and various other gates the polls changed to 75% of Americans distructing the statements of their leadership. Wikileaks certainly confirmed the thorough lack of transparency in world governments.  No wonder the mad fear the CIA and M16 or even aliens are controlling the world.
Never before perhaps have the electorate been so informed and had so much information to guide their opinions on yet felt so unheard and unable to effect change in the existing systems.
The Mubarak regime was seen as Mubarak so that when this tyrant fell hope was restored in the country of mostly young people that greater freedom would be possible. In America however Obama was seen as representing 'change' but the regime, the military industrial complex, the sweet deals, the banking and insurance conglomerates, all seem to remain the same with a desire in Wisconsin at least to see a change in the "regime."
In response to the fears of the future there is ghetoization.  Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain declared the death of multiculturalism there. Gated armed upper class communities are the norm in Houston.  
Alternatively there are those with the idea that if enough mental power is brought to bear on the problem, greater representation and input in decision making by the grass roots collectively then there will be a solution. The latter see the problem as special interests and a homungus system in America not dissimilar at all to that in the USSR or Arab tyrannies to protect a few at all costs.  Here the idea is that if everyone's individual computer were connected to a problem everyone could benefit beyond the wildest dreams of all because this mega cray solution would come and the rich wouldn't lose but both the rich and poor would gain immensely.
It's rather utopian.  Much on generality and platitudes but little on detail.  Saving planets and spotted owls seems part of the solution too.  Last I heard some of the proponetns of the everyone will benefit if we just hug naked campaign for change were abducted themselves by aliens while eating flowers in California. California has become a bad debtor not surprisingly in direct relationship to the increasing numbers of marijuania clinics which are opening to offer a psychedlic solution to Californians already lining up for Solent Green  wafers. Hollywood puts out propaganda movies with as much fervour now as Nazi Germany did with it's once lustrious film industry.  At least the Emperor has new clothes.
I personally don't have a solution.  I do know that Canadians collectively love to judge Americans while some say the promised land is Cuba or Venezuela and others say it's New Zealand.  Meanwhile Canadians idea of civil disobedience is the choose to refuse to drink an Americano unless it's named Canadiano.
Today in record low temperatures in Vancouver the homeless are sleeping on the cold streets and quite possibly some will die tonight not fighting the authorities but in simply facing the environment.  The same was true in Winnipeg when every year people actually froze to death in their stalled cars and getting drunk and lying down on the way home from the pub.
Blessed with clean water, clean air, amazing engineers, mostly reasonable lawyers and judges, doctors and nurses who still work at times for free, with teachers that commonly volunteer their time, unions that only occasionally strike, politicians whose principal fault is being boring (in contrast to Ghadaffi's flamboyantly murderous insaniety), communities where kids can and do grow up safe, with the world's greatest of all hinterland's and wilderness, we really can't complain too vociferously.
We're collectively apathetic and personally cowardly whereas for a just cause we produce armed forces that strike terror around the world and our RCMP now that it's got rid of it's wannabe civilian beaurocratic leadership is back to getting its man or woman.
Canadians are mostly chopping wood and collecting water.  Canada could never produce a Mubarek. We rather like our Thomson's and Pattersons despite their blemishes.  Conrad Black was sometimes outrageous but having  the brilliant and gorgeous Barbara Amiel beside him made his own blemishes pale.
There's a homeliness about Canada that probably comes from the fact that even if we camped out in a public square before too long  we'd all eventually go inside to get out of rain, snow or away from the mosquitos. Our fight is still with Mother Nature.  As true survivalists we collectively think the American survival series silly.  Sarah Pallins Alaska has more testosterone.  Canadians seem to understand and appreciate time in a way that the American Idol set can't.   Toronto and Montreal can get their knickers in a twist on occasions but quickly Saskatchewan or Newfoundlanders bring them back to their senses.
Sitting on top of the world we can look down upon all those lesser souls with their government and interpersonal problems and remember that we are probably still the freest people in the nation.  We have the North and we are proud and free.  It's intrinsic to the Canadian soul.  We are notoriously civil too.  I don't know if I'd like to see us truly 'disobedient'.  Just imagining what that would like like made me realize why the authorities signed a pact between Ottawa and Washington to share military and police resources to counteract civil disobedience.
I can never forget that when Farley Mowatt shot a 22 rifle at the American bombers passing through Canadian airspace the response of the greatest nation then was immediate.  There's something about Canadian men and women that simply scares the living shit out of the greatest nations of the world.  In contrast to the failure of England's multiculturalism Canada has the toughest people in the world. We'd stand together too if the need arose.  English, Scots, French, Ukranians, Poles, Russians, Irish, Chinese, Kenyan, Afrikaner, Latinos, Indians, and every nation on the planet plus our founding Natives, are a force to contend with.  But really we're too getting our cars started or shovelling snow to bother with a revolution.  Maybe in the summer.  The trouble is they're so short Canadians don't like to waste them on politics.

Transfering Methadone Doctors

In British Columbia doctors who prescribed Methadone are licensed individually. Also the clinics where methadone patients can get their methadone are licensed as well.  Therefore if a patient's methadone doctor isn't available at the clinic at the time the person comes another methadone doctor can serve as the 'locum' prescriber for that person on that day.

However if a person wishes to change doctors or clinics then a formal transfer has to be made.  To do this the College of Physcians and Surgeons of BC requires that one doctor communicate first with another doctor and then forward notification to the College of the transfer of methadone prescribing.  If both doctors are in the same clinic it's really just a matter of the two doctors having a hallway chat to ensure that there is no untoward concerns that might influence ongoing care. If the doctor is at a different clinic then the doctors must contact each other by phone.

What arises sometimes is that the patient's methadone prescription has run out and the patient sees the new doctor.  For the new doctor to prescribe the old doctor must be notified.  The patient naturally needs medication and the new prescribing doctor can feel pressured to prescribe especially if they are unable to reach the old doctor by phoning their pagers and the clinics where they attend. Naturally this is worst at the end of a day or on Fridays.

The College regulations are very clear though and they say that because of the licensing of doctors and sites the patient can get their methadone at the old site from a 'locum' doctor because the records regarding the patient are at the site. Any concerns can be reviewed in the new chart, especially if there are any health concerns or concerns about diversion of methadone as an example.  The College's principal concern about methadone is that it doesn't get diverted as there have been case where the young have taken diverted  methadone and died.  While methadone is an extremely safe medication and extraordinarily helpful in the treatment of opiate and heroin addiction it's window of safety is individualized and defined.  It is therefore highly risky for another person to take a methadone dose tailored to any particular individual.

In the event that the original doctor can not be contacted despite various documented tries over a couple of days, review of the pharmanet record by the new clinician and testing of the patient's urine to confirm the presence of methadone, then the College can be contacted and a higher level solution arrived at.

The College of Physicians of BC methadone program exists for the benefit of all including the former addicts and community at large.  Though individually a person may feel very stressed by their inability to get their methadone immediately the rules are in place for the benefit of that individual as well as the program as a whole.  A solution is always forthcoming but of course it requires a little patience which is usually sadly in short supply when these unfortunate transfer complications can arise.  Not unusually the original doctor has given the patient a prescription for anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks, more than adequate time to find a new doctor and clinic.

The problem arises mostly because being human the methadone patient leaves the transfer to the day their prescription expires.  It would be best to change doctors and clinics early rather than late but fortunately thanks to the forethought of the College guidelines there are contingencies in place that provide a solution without compromising safety.


Blood, Feathers and Holy Men

The book launch for Ben Nuttall-Smith's historical novel, Blood, Feathers and Holy Men is Sunday, March 8, 2011 at Renaissance Books & Expresso Bar 43 6th Street New Westminister.  I was fortunate to get an early copy and am reading his story of 10th Century America right now.  It's a curl up in front of a fireplace with a warm cup of cocoa thriller that I've left at the place where I  often weekend.  The result is I get to savour the book and it stops me reading it all night long in one big gulp.  It's that gripping but there's just so much history and description to go with the fine plot that I'm enjoying following up bits I've read with a bit of reading in the encyclopedia.  Who would have guessed what soaps were available way back then when today there are those who rarely use them still..  Ah well, a great read and the launch should be a lot of fun since Ben is such a remarkable character in person.

Soldier of the Horse

The Book Launch for Bob Mackay's  historical novel "Soldier of the Horse" is March 2, 2011 at 7 pm in the Cloverdale Legion, 17567 - 57th Avenue, Cloverdale, BC.  Bob Mackay has been reading bits of this novel as it has progressed over the last couple of years at the Canadian Author Association where he is president of the West Coast Branch.  His readings have been exciting and moving. His grandfather served with the Canadian forces in WWI.  It's hard to believe but Churchill had served on horse only short years before in Africa and in WWI calvary last went up against machine guns and tanks.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Julian Assange extradited

Julian Assange is being extradited to Sweden where a dumb blond thought a condom was a hazmat suit and insists Julian wasn't wearing one. Worse yet she insists the sex occurred while she was asleep.
The Americans are naturally pleased as they believe Julian Assange all along has been concealling Weapons of Mass Destruction "down under".
Now they can't wait to see him exposed.
Wikileaks showed too many of the world's power brokers privates wanting.  Caught with their pants down and dresses off, on their backs, at citizens, taxpayer and democracy' expense and time, they continue to insist that the best way to cover up lies is with bigger lies.
Shame on you, England and Sweden!
Whose the third in your filthy menage a trois!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The nightmares return like old aches after new exercise.
The school canings, the border patrol police batons, the rape, the knives,
Bullet holes in windows, late night phone calls, being held hostage,
Locked doors,  bars on windows, smug faces that still believe they're safe,
Threats upon threats, upon threats, and these from the supposedly civilized.
Then mostly the betrayals, the dissillusionment, the lies and more lies,
And a certain creepy negativity that burrows like a blood sucking bug.

You thought they were gone. You thought you were over them.
Another sleepless restless night, sweat soaked pillow,
Waking in darkness fleeing from a phantom, the no escape dream.
And the no weapon dream, the old person dream, the poor person dream,
The naked in a public place dream., the trapped and screaming unheard dream.

The world seems a less real place in the morning.
The nightmare world that began here then took a back seat in sleep
Now returns to centre stage.

I am afraid to go outside, to go to work, to be with people,
There is no hiding under blankets place,  still, I want to run away,
A northern forest, the open road, the endless seas..
I will prepare molotov cocktails and invest in security systems once again.

Of course this too shall pass, and I will wash and dreas, and go to work.
But walk with hunched shoulders, slowly, carefully, waiting for the attack,
Startling at loud sounds, scanning strangers,
Till eventually the new day has time to
Invade the loneliness and despair, demanding attention
Proclaiming a new blossom of spring, a wagging tail dog,
A baby in a passing stroller,
A friend will tell a joke and the laughter will start again, stiffly,
The old machinery of hope and optimism will take over
Then sometime soon the sleep will come again.
I will walk with my mom and my old dog in dreams,
Return to childhood family gatherings with long dead relatives,
Fly on wings over forests and streams,
Gather with thousands in celebration,
Hearing the songs of ages,
Hugging and laughing in dreams of golden meadows,
Safe in the arms of God.
I just have to get through this day, perhaps the next
Till the nightmares go and love returns.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ballet BC Volo

Ballet BC Volo was a particular hit sensation.  The program began with Sweet, a cerebral modern dance with choreography by Shawn Hounsell.  A recital of the synaptic movement of a memory was recited with intricate and delicately powerful dance interpretation of the neurological process.  Toss of a Dice was a pas d deux from the Netherlands Dance Theatre.  Guest artists Lesley Telford and Medhi Walerski were elegantly refined with thrilling moments of encounter. First Flash also Netherlands Dance Theatre was choreographed by Jorma Elo. The set and lighting was as intimately sensitive as the dance itself.

Petite Ceremonie, World Premiere by Ballet BC with choreogrphy by Medhi Walerski was quite the event indeed. At first the children in the audience were laughing at the originality of the dancers as they seemed to be some kind of combination of Monte Python and Blue Man Group. Then almost inexplicably the dance morphed into this vocal and juggling rapturous grouping and dispersion of bodies.  This was avante garde at it's finest.  The audience leaped to its feet in applause. I felt definitely apart of something bigger than all of us. It was that kind of dance.  Transcendent.

Burnaby Lake Park

Gilbert, Laura and I loved the walk along the Brunnette River.  The welcome sunshine coupled with birdwatching was a joy.  Lots of other dogs walking humans gave Gilbert many opportunities for sniffing and greeting. Sorry some of the uploaded pictures got cropped.Burnaby1a.jpgBurnaby1.jpgburn3.jpgwoodduck.jpgwoodduck2.jpgbrowheadduck2.jpgbrownheadduck.jpggoose.jpgduckflight2.jpgducklift.jpgduckcity.jpgduckflight.jpgduckcity.jpglittlebird.jpgholly.jpglaura&gilbert.jpgrobin.jpg

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Self medication

Commonly addiction is called 'self medication'.  This is true in that all addiction probably begins with an anxiety disorder.  Alcohol, marijuania, and heroin, for instance are all anti anxiety medications.  They're the principal 'street valiums'.  The trouble with 'self administration' is that eventually there is a high risk with addictive medications for one to 'cross the line'.  The line is where 'quitting' is easy.  Cigarettes initially soothing have a very quick addictive potential.  No one quite knows for the individual how quickly a person can develop addiction to an addicting substance. Addicting substances are by street parlance any drug that 'has a street value'.  Drugs may cause physiological dependence such as insulin but it doesn't sell at a mark up on the street.
The trouble with the term 'self medication' is that it assumes an 'underlying disorder' without acknowledging that normal people can develop mental illness as a consequence of doing street drugs.
I once had an amusing argument with an old psychiatrist about this. He said "everyone who does cocaine has schizophrenia." I answer, "cocaine was used as a research drug because it 'mimicked' the symptons of schizophrenia. He retorted, rather aggressively, "anyone who did cocaine would have to be schizophrenic."
This is a typical problem of 'circular logic', a fallacy not uncommon in psychology and psychiaty and of course politics.
The fact is we don't say a person with a gun shot wound in his head was 'medicated' or that the subsequent psychosis following the gunshot wound was a pre existing disease.
Chemical addiction can over time cause 'chemical brain damage".  This is what the fMRI studies are showing.  Certainly that was what was first readily evident with 'glue sniffing'. It's been long shown with alcohol.  The DSMIV has the category Substance Disorder and Alcohol dementia is a well recognised consequence of alcohol addiction. Marijuania causes schizophrenia.  It certainly causes psychosis and persistent use results in schizophrenia, which is essentially a term for chronic psychosis. Long before the American models of psychosis adapted the French separated 'brief psychosis' which really were not that predictive of long term mental illness from psychosis that persisted beyond 6 months or a year. Some of the imaging studies of chronic opiate abuse show what appears to be irreversible damage to the 'pleasure zones' of the brain suggesting that a small group of opiate addicts become 'dependent' on opiates much like a person who uses exogenous thyroid medication can cause the thyroid to shut down.  These brain processes can be 'rebooted' in some cases but in others it appears that the condition is permanent.  fMRI studies of cocaine abuse show reversible damage to the frontal lobes, the human brain per se as opposed to the basal brain more associated with reptilian function.    

Addiction is a 'brain disease".  It may start as 'self medication' but in the end it's "iatrogenia' and maybe the term 'self iatrogenia' would be more appropriate. Further people who have no overt illness, so many who would never be diagnosed as having any mental illness go on to develop mental illness and brain disease simply as a consequence of addiction. The addiction is the primary problem and the primary disease.  

Drug Court

I was grateful to hear a terrific CBC radio program coming to work this morning (Feb. 17, 830 am, CBC news Feb. 14,2011). The interviewer was talking to Calgary Chief of Police, Rick Hanson. Rick Hanson was proposing a locked treatment facility dedicated to treatment of addiction. He described a horrid situation where a young addict had been put in general population only to be tortured to death by psychopaths. He was expressing the cries of family members that something more be done for their loved ones who were more 'sick' than 'bad'.  He stated that roughly 30 to 50% of people in the legal system were there for addiction. He differentiated their mental health needs and their minor assaults and break and entry to get money to supply their addictions as distinctly different from the criminals he felt needed to be in jails, the gang members and the sociopaths. He felt that too much police time was misdirected in taking care of a mental health problem.
The interviewer went on to speak to Justice Paul Bentley the first judge to sit on the Toronto Drug Court .  He said that the cost of housing a prisoner in a federal jail was $88,000, a provincial jail as $57,000 and treatment via drug court as only $12,000. Further his drug court was getting a 51% success.  He spoke highly of the work of the John Howard Society in providing monitored safe and clean housing for those in recovery.
Locally, in Vancouver I treat people at this street clinic who have been referred by the Vancouver drug court.  Here criminals are given the options either to go to jail or accept the diversion into supervised treatment.
Drug court and mandated supervised treatment have long been known to be highly effective. Even when judges required people to go to AA there was a much higher success rate than those whose drinking and driving, for instance was treated only as an anti social act rather than as the product of the mental illness.
I am highly impressed with the Vancouver drug court. The Judges here and the counselors that I interact with are at the very cutting edge of addressing the increasing societal problem of addiction.  I was delighted by this CBC newscast and thoroughly applaud the efforts of CBC, Rick Hanson and Judge Bentley in addressing the problem of crime and addiction.

What is mental health?

Freud summarized mental health as the ability to love and work. The WHO definition is a bout a page long and essentially says the same with the addition of 'play'.
The definition I use then is that Mental Health is the ability to love, work and play.
Love was best defined in a little book called the Art of Loving by Erich Fromm.  In that book he summarized the development of the thinking about love over history separating falling in love or lust from standing in love or adult love.

Love is not a scientific term. The term "attachment" is the word used in research for our principal relationships.  These first refer to the relationships we have with our parents and brothers and sisters and extended family, blood relations.  The term love also refers to our relationships with friends and others less closely related to us in our  community. It's that whole emotional interconnected world of relationships that at it's highest has been described ideally as our relationship with our 'higher power' or God, for lack of a better word.  As well given the golden rule of "love your neighbour as yourself" or "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", it refers to our love of ourselves in the healthiest sense of that.

Work refers primarily to our contribution to the community.  This is predominantly defined as work that in our society translates directly into money. The community as a whole attributes a monetary role to different work. Individually I may feel that my working on my guitar playing is 'work' however society has said by its basic reimbursement that it is willing to pay Keith Richards for this work but to date has never paid me enough that I could be self supporting.

Adults to the best of their ability cooperate in society and work to be self supporting.  Work is humbling in that it usually means service to another and doing what I might not necessarily want to do at any particular time.  Even great artists might rather run through the sprinkler than practice violin but if they did just that they would be less likely to succeed in their work.

Volunteer work is work which though like work doesn't get 'paid' but serves the community and involves cooperation and factors of reliability and responsibility. Philanthropy and charity are examples of volunteerism.  They are considered altruistic rather than narcissistic.

Self care is a kind of work.  To date communities have been loathe to pay for self care because it's a fine line between the basics of self care and self pampering.
In the area of work, subjectivity and objectivity are always an issue.  Tom Sawyer contains a story about work being made to be fun.  Work doesn't have to be painful but it's always inherrently a 'service' to others and 'valued' by community. Many a golfer would call what he is doing 'work', like those who 'play' on the computer or doodle.  They may even present a long face and seek to elicit pity from those around them. The word "billable hours" came to be used in the workplace to address "slackers" no matter what their story.

In contrast play is all that leisure entails.  It's part of a balanced life. It's rest and recreation.  Society doesnt' pay individuals to play though there has been a controversial movement in this direction with state bought call girls being supplied for the disabled in some european districts.  Workaholism has been idenfitied as such a 'disease' because it has a short shelf life and may lead to significant individual and community dysfunction. Even military studies show that a balance of work and leisure results in better productivity.

Mental illness is defined as dysfunction in work, social or leisure activity as a result of a predominantly mental or emotional or cognitive cause, Commonly physical illness is associated with accompanying mental illness. Often the physical illness presents as a depression or even a psychosis.  Addictions present at first a mental illness with work usually being last effected since it supplies the habit but eventually addiction will lead to a variety of physical illness.

Mental Health is also disease prevention.  WHO studies of longevity showed that people who lived longest worked and had a purpose in their community as a consequence of this contribution.  Isolation is associated with misery and those who are happiest have a close relationship with family and friends.  Maintaining friendships and family relationships often requires effort just like showering and doing laundry can appear onerous at times. This persistence in face of lack of immediate positive reinforcement is one of the positive psychological strengths that Seligman addresses in his studies of Authentic Happiness.
Leisure involves exercise. There are no obese people over 100 years of age.  Exercise and leaness, especially measured by waist size are associated with good health and longevity.  Longevity without quality of life isn't a particularly attractive destination.  The Nun studies showed that those who were least likely to develop dementia were those who remained socially interactive and continued to learn and participate in community.

Mental health isn't all that much different from overall 'health' and certainly good physical health depends to a large degree on the recognition of the interaction between body and mind.
Psychosomatic medicine is the modern and postmodern approach to all disease that says that body and mind aren't separate but work together.  The toe bone is connected to the head bone. Good physical health and good mental health work together contributing to each other.

Monday, February 14, 2011

First Valentine

It was an icky time for boys
In first and second grade,
Making valentines for girls
With numbers picked from hats.

The girls preprogrammed  to be psychotic stalkers
Read all things into the random hat picked moments.

My first valentine, a really big girl,  tried to kiss me after we exchanged cards,
There in class, in front of all the boys and girls..
But I knew girls had cooties, so fended her off with an elbow .
She jabbed me back with a quick right lip splitting upper cut.

You dear, can kiss me.   I wouldn't fend you off.
I know girls don't have cooties.

Though maybe she still does, my first valentine
The one with the quick right upper cut.
No doubt languishing in some women's prison
With her own bitch for a girlfriend.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

La Clemenza di Tito

La Clemeza di Tito, Mozart's Last Opera, was performed superbly last night by the Vancouver Opera. Music Director, Jonathan Darlington described it's theme as power and what we do it.  As such it was a surprisingly timely piece.  Vitellia, played by  soprano, Wendy Nielsen, feeling betrayed, convinces,Sesto, played by Mezzo Soprano Krisztina Szabo to betray his friend, Emperor Tito played by tenor John Tessier.  It's all about love. Scheming Vitellia wants revenge and  throne but Servillio, Sesto's sister, played by soprano Kathleen Brett, forfeits the throne out of love for Annio, played by Mezzo Soprano, Norine Burges.  Publio, played bybass- baritone Thomas Goerz is the Prefect of the Praetorian Guard. The Vancouver Opera chorus, directed by Leslie Dala, play the people of Rome.
In the original performance for the Coronation of Lepold II 1791, conducted by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself,   Sesto was played  by castrato, Domenico Bedini. Our opera opened with the somewhat west coast friendly twist of two women obviously having a domestic quarrel.  Obviously for lack of Castratos, thankfully, mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabo stepped in.
David Zinn outdid himself with set and costume design blending ancient Rome and 18th century European themes to create a mythical wonder.  The costumes were simply splendid.  The bold singing of the Vancouver Opera Chorus was set off by Zinn's boldly coloured costumes. Director Chas Rader-Sheiber's work was  truly masterful.
It was a delightful opera. Uplifting and refined.  i think only a half dozen people in the audience sought to draw attention to themselves by wearing jeans and acting like refugees. The rest were a sight to behold.  Looking about the audience's expression of form and taste at intermission, I was delighted with rich people watching, with a bit of who's who thrown in.
The curtain fall, the bows, standing applause, more applause, the curtain falling and  then everyone ushered out of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre jabbering to each other and  smiling at the twists and turns the final plot had taken. Voices that seemed perfect in the first act surpassed themselves in the second. How was that possible?
"So whose voice did you like best?" I asked Laura as we walked to our vehicle.
"They were all so good.  I really can't say. I'm sure the audience clapped loudest for Sesto and Servillia but Vitellia was the most poweful. What about you?"
"I loved them all.  Normally there's more of a spread but this opera everyone seemed special.  I did like Tessier's, Tito.  His voice was sweet and he seemed as believable in his representation of magnanimity as the poweful but ultimately humbled Vitellia." I said.
"Darlington is so handsome. I found myself watching him at times." she said.  I noted that I hadn't asked her what she thought of Darlington, though I had to admit I loved his conducting.  The symphony was terrific as it's music weaved through and around the voices."
Another opera.  Dr. Michael Gallagher, the Development Committee Chair 's page in Playboard Magazine celebrated  the community support.  The Leader's Circle at $50,000 plus included Anonymous, Yoshiko Karasawa and Michael Audain, Mike and Kathy Gallager, and Ms. Martha Lou Henley recently appointed to the Order of Canada. The Maestro Circle $20 to 35 thousand, Director's Circle $15 to 20,000, Patrons, $2,500 to $5000 and Benefactor's $1200 to 2500. all contribute immensely to the high standards of the VSO.  This season's sponsor is Goldcorp and the Production sponsor is the Vancouver Operaguild. Thanks to them and those that come out to the performances, Vancouver is blessed with world reknowned opera.
The next is Verdi's, La Traviati in April.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Vancouver Winter

I'm probably restless by nature. Life's an adventure and I so often think it would be fun to encounter a whole new terrain and city by moving elsewhere in Canada.  I love Toronto for it's genius and sophistication.  It's all the best of London and New York. I've never not enjoyed being in Toronto, truly one of my all time favourite cities.

With my Dad in Ottawa I'm even beginning to appreciate that despite being the nation's capital it's not as stuffy a town as I thought. There's Hull across the river too and that place is fun.

I miss Winnipeg where I grew up on a regular basis. It's the city of people.  I always think of Winnipeg as creativity and intellectual energy.  Another Winnipeg expatriat says the same but insists 'it's because they're inside all year because of the cold or the mosquitoes that they have to get along and have so much time for conversation and creativity.'  Saskatoon and Regina are really warm and friendly and high minded towns.  I've loved my stays and love the fishing that's even better in Saskatchewan than Manitoba and Ontario.  Calgary and Edmonton are great cities.  I loved my times at the Calgary Rodeo and think if I was there I could get back to weekend horseback riding. It's such an upbeat town. I've actually enjoyed skiing at Banf and Lake Louise more than I've enjoyed skiing at Whistler. But Cypress and Grouse Mountain are unsurpassed being practically in the heart of Vancouver.

Further east, there's Halifax of course.  That's New England with a heart. I love the city. Dalhousie University makes it what it is. A little city with all the genius of any university town but this one is a major port.  Fredericktown I don't know. It's really no reflection on the city.  I loved the New Brunswich countryside.  Prince Edward Island is a jewel and Charlottetown has elegance and grace. But it's a tiny island and  as much as I love Victoria and Nanaimo I don't like the constantly increasing ferry rates and the delays in travel that go with island living.  I felt cut off a bit when I lived on Vancouver Island but maybe if I didn't have to make so many trips to the mainland it would be better. Certainly island living without the travel is terrific.

Montreal was a favourite city until the French conflict turned it into a war zone.  The only city in Canada to have tanks on the streets and terrorism. Despite the fashion hub and vive of the city I just can't forget that it's a city where my speaking English got me attacked.  I don't think I can feel safe in Montreal though I loved Quebec City and the people of Quebec have always been the finest.

I loved Watson Lake in the Yukon. Northern people are the most competent and unique in the world.  It makes me think Nunuvut would be the place to be at times.

Maybe Brandon Manitoba. I sure loved that surprisingly modern town in the outskirts of Manitoba where the farming and riding are the best.

Yet when I think of all the merits of the other cities and towns of Canada and know I'd love to live there so I could explore more the wondrous land of Canada, with it's wilderness and outbacks and extraordinary terrains ,I keep coming back to Vancouver.  Mostly because of the mild weather. The rain is awful. It's probably the most depressing place to be in winter with it's dark misery and constant rain but the temperature is always mild. All year round I can have a coffee outside.

All winter I've walked my dog and at lunch had a sandwich or burger at one of the covered outdoor cafe's.  He's on a leash beside me. I'm sitting with my jacket open.  We're doing the street cafe thing all year round. And I love it.

Also I love my motorcycle. For another year I've ridden all year. The Vancouver drivers are stoned and insane and drive worse than anywhere but Montreal but nowhere else in Canada can you drive a motorcycle year round.  Winnipeg would be so much nicer if they let you drive ski doos to work. It would definitely improve living in Winnipeg or Edmonton for that matter.

Then there's my sailboat.  The lakes are frozen half the year in the rest of Canada.  I can sail year round here and do enjoying winter sailing in the Strait of Georgia even if others think I'm crazy.  I don't know I'd like the North Atlantic as much off Halifax.  Gordon Light's Edmund Fitzgerald is a poignant reminder of the winter winds on the Great Lakes.  Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba are pretty much frozen.

So despite the charm and warmth and welcome of the rest of Canada, despite the corruption and cold heartedness at times in Vancouver, the climate here is hard to beat especially for sailors and motorcyclists.  I'm thankful for another day in Vancouver.



Federico's Supper Club

Federico's Supper Club is literally an institution in Vancouver. I've heard about it for years and passed it on Commercial Street many times, saying, "I just have to go one night."  I've even got so far as to drop by only to find the place packed. Now for 3 years I've tried to book a dinner on Valentine's.  Each year I was too late.  This year I booked two weeks in advance and got an early sitting.
It was best that it was the early sitting.  Friday night I'm not the guy I once was.  Laura looked smashing. Parking was easy.  The club was spectacular.  The band comes on at 10 pm and the dance floor is famous.
Federico is too, because he is a godsend to the community, supporting  all manner of charitable function and taking a central role in the hub of Vancouver party life. Even that day, telling people I was going to Federico's, his praise was sung. by all.  A true gentleman.
There were two long tables of birthday celebrations with young to old involved.  Laura loved stepping back into Italy.  We'd just been in the fall and everything about Federico's speaks to the enchantment of that boot shaped island.
A guitarist played throughout the meal.  I haven't heard such a mistrol of guitar in years.  Collectively we all stopped eating to applaud his intricate renditions of Chris de Burgh's Lady  in Red, so appropriate for a Valentine's evening, and Cohen's Hallelujah, such a wish  for love.
The service was  the best.  White table cloth settings with aproned waiters. I was dressed in a black suit with a black harley davidson tie but half the guys, especially the younger ones, were dressed in shirts and slacks.   Everyone seemed thoroughly intent on our having a fine dining experience.  $45 to $55 dollars were the fixed 3 and 4 course meals with amazing choice. The chef is of course one of the city's finest.  Only the best at Federico's.
The carpachio was delicate perfection.  Laura loved her steak.  I ordered rabbit pasta. I''ve shot my share of rabbits and make a mighty fine rabbit stew myself..  "You know rabbit is a traditional Italian favourite." the waiter commented. And cooked as superbly as it was I was not surprised. It really may have been better than my traditional stew. I loved the sauce that much.
Tiramesu desserts and coffee.  The guitarist played his last song. The band was coming on stage.  It was 10 30  pm. I looked at Laura and said, "Dear, I don't thihnk I can stay awake any longer. Would you mind terribly if we left".
"Of course not, dear, " she said, "It's been a fabulous meal and I've had a lovely time." I was so glad to have picked Laura as my valentine date.
Younger I would have left early to get back to bed to ravish her. If anyone deserved ravishing it was her.   Today 11 pm is bedtime and after midnight I turn into a snoring toad.
That's the trouble with being well fed at my age. After such a fine meal, you want to sleep not dance no matter that dancing is right up there with flossing for wholesome.
We'll just have to return for a Saturday night.  I'm better on Saturday and with an early nap I could probably catch the famous floor shore.  Federico's is certainly a place to keep coming back to.


Friday, February 11, 2011

War Criminals

A few people are in charge of the world.  Because I'm a legal law abiding citizen I choose to believe that these people are good. Most of what I am is a product of 'thesepeople'.  E.E. Cummings may well have called 'thesepeople' 'thosepeople'.
I'm just a little suspect about how truly correct they are in their assessment of performance.  I, like billions of others, are assessed maybe a little above average, but decidedly inferior to themselves.  These people have also 'fixed' the games that I've played and 'fixed' the news that I've heard and 'fixed' the competitions I've encountered most of my life so even the beauty contests are often just what they find 'beautiful'.
I don't want to be seen as "treasonable" but I've found some of the beauty queens pretty ugly. It's just my opinion but people go to jail or asylums for speaking their mind especially if it doesn't accord with political correct group think.
I don't like the survivalist series or American Idol. It's not something I've shared with others. I fear sharing alot of the time. Indeed whenever I speak from my heart I'm beginning to look over my shoulder. Thesepeople would call me paranoid but I kind of think they're looking over their shoulder so much that their heads rotate like Carrie and they may have forgotten where their hearts are.  Not only that they pay people to look over their shoulders.
So when it comes to war criminals I just think that the 'winner takes all'.  Maybe these guys are war criminals. Maybe these girls are war criminals too.  But just like I've seen more beautiful women outside of beauty contests maybe they're not getting all the war criminals or maybe they're making a mistake with some of the war criminals.
It's just that as I've got older and watched what's going on awhile I see words like 'war criminals' and they kind of remind me of the 'peacemaker missile'.  I grew up on 'peacemaker missiles' and the 'war to end all wars' .  The missiles haven't brought peace and the wars haven't ended war.  So that just about says what I think about 'war criminals' in general.
Now I hope that Homeland Security doesn't arrest me for not thinking their cover girl in hot tight uniform is pretty.



Thank God It's Friday!

God's little  gift

To the working class man

And woman..

For others, every day is a day of leisure

Especially white collar criminals

And those living on the dole

And not looking for work.



Thank God It's Friday

TGIF Is for the working class man

And woman.

Who clock and are clocked

Every day and minute of their week

Till the weekend comes and  they're off the clock

And can call their time their own, kind of.



Thank God It's Friday,

And thank you God for what work

I have,

My prayer and my service..

May I always work for you

Not just the taxman and the company store.



Thank God It's Friday.

May my work be a celebration of your highes,t

My utmost  for your highest

Even if Friday I'm just dragging my sorry ass

After a week of working for the taxman and the company store.



Thank God it's Friday.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

London and Rome 2010 Video

Gilbert the Cockapoo Movie Trailler

Vatican - 2010

This is a clip I found from Laura and my visit to Vatican in the fall 2010.

Heaven's Plumbers

I dreamed I awoke at a never ending party

But when I peed, on waking, to relieve myself

Found I was pissing into an overflowing urinal.


Just as I feared my added waste had caused the overflow,

There came laughing men dressed in white

Carrying pipe wrenches to fix God's plumbing.


And I awoke and relieved myself,

Happy to flush this toilet ,

And watch again this daily blessing.


God is either everything or nothing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wild Target

Wild Target with Bill Nyys and Emily Blunt is lark of a movie. Best of British humor with bits of Pink Panther and even a Cleese parrot. A love struck older assassin with a mother concerned about his career. Gorgeous kleptomaniac girl who has no end of endearing expressions. I was laughing breathless. Like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrells, nonstop hilarious action.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Divorce Therapy

While the present legal system is the principal cause of divorce in Canada, incompetent counsellors are a close second.

Routinely I hear of  married, separated or divorced  people who have gone to counsellors and it is clear in minutes that the counsellors have not been formally trained in the difference in technique, approach and interaction that separates individual counselling from marriage counselling. These individual counsellors due to their arrogance and ignorance are better termed 'divorce therapists'.  It would be better to go to a lawyer trained in mediation than to see a counsellor who is primarily an individual therapist.

In individual therapy a person comes into the therapist who asks 'what is wrong?"  The individual then goes on to tell the therapist of litany of complaints and the therapist helps the individual deal with these complaints.  The individual doesn't have a solution and is seeking help with their problem.

In marriages, the conclusion of one or both of the individuals when they see a counsellor is that the 'marriage" is the problem, or "the partner is the problem".  The visit to the therapist is more often than not seeking confirmation that divorce or homicide is a good idea.  By asking what is the problem the therapist often in one session consolidates the insurmountable nature of the problem and confirms the a priori solution.  The couples commonly don't return but one person does and here is the conflict of interest.  Individual therapists then see one of the couple for commonly one to two lucrative years having literally created an intellectual emotional adultery or agreed with the irate one that this one is the problem and needs a whole lot of fixing.

Consequently one of the leading schools of marriage therapy suggests at the very start to ask not what's wrong with the marriage but rather 'why did you get married and what was good about the marriage?"

Individual therapy is usually best done by individuals .  The best in marriage therapy usually work as a mixed couple.

Indiviudal therapists don't have to be married.

Despite the orthodoxy surrounding the industry of counselling it has been my rule of thumb to discourage people seriously from seeing unmarried marriage therapists and further not to see anyone with more marriage 'experience' than the therapist.  This requires a certain humility on the part of counselloers. However the fact remains that marriage is a journey and the issues that exist in the first couple of years of marriage may appear to arrise again at a latter stage. However just as the treatment for a food throwing 3 year old is different than for a food throwing 13 year old so are the different approaches to understanding marital problems at differennt stages.  A young person with a few years of marriage will 'think' they know what's going on with a 20 year marriage but they will be as wrong as a kid who can fix his bicycle would be if he thought he could fix the space shuttle.

Given that the legal system refused to uphold the state marriage contracts or the religious marriage contracts which had the statement 'in sickness and in health' among other lines, there really is no state or religious marriage contract in extant any more. The courts simply don't 'respect' the state or church by their behaviour towards those married in these institutions.  That's opinion but it's come from seeing 25 years of divorces here where the 'contract' wasn't worth the paper it was written on and the courts did all manner of things that would never have been accepted by any business man in contractual aggreements or any criminal state court in regards to contractual aggreements.


Hence it's a fact today that the only 'contract' that the courts actually call a 'marriage contract' and respect is their own 'brand'. This they call a 'prenuptial agreement'.  Clearly all those married with any other aggreement than a 'prenuptial aggreement' would be wise to get one as the 'marriage contract' and ring they have does not mean to the court what they probalbly thought it meant when they signed the original agreement before the minister or state official.

One of the approaches to marriage therapy is to ask the individual to get out the 'contract' they agreed to and review whatever problems they are having in regards to the supposed contractual arrangement they entered into.  Marriage therapists trained this way will then help the couple write a new contract and the marriage is renegotiated in light of new developments and desires as any business aggreement would be done. If a new contract isn't written at least the new interpretation of the old contract is added to the papers.

Most marriage therapists well trained and experienced don't 'get mired in the past' but offer a couple homework to observe how the couple completes this.  The whole experience of recriminations upon recriminations with the couple arguing in the office is highly lucrative for the counsellor but serves to confirm that the couples problems are insurmountable.

Any therapist who takes 'sides' is 'colluding' and acting out their own marital problems or those of their parents in the session. Marriage therapy requirest the objectivity of a judge whereas individual therapy requires that one be supportive on one individual.  The "patient" in marriage therapy is the marriage.

In obstetrics no obstetrician considers it a success if the baby dies and only the mother lives.  Similiarly the best marriage therapists consider success the couple and their marriage surviving. Too many smart counsellors cover their bets and claim they 'facilitate' divorce.  Divorces don't need facilitation and the lawyers are already to a very brisk business of facilitating divorce. They don't need counsellors to compete. If the marriage therapy isn't working it is wise to recommend that the couple see a lawyer, much as a surgeon would call in a coroner rather than continue to operate on a dead body or one of its parts.

For these reasons and more it is extremely wise if one is going to a marriage therapist to be sure they are not a divorce therapist.  Too often couples take their baby marriage to what they think is an obstetrician only too find to late they've been to an abortionist.





Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thank you, Lord for our Pets


Thank you, Lord

For the pets who surround us

And give greater meaning to our lives

Who watch out for us as we watch out for them

Who cause us laughter and concern

And make our hearts smile

With the love of companionship

Keep these our friends this day safe

Help us make their world more rich and full

As you bring our worlds closer to you.

Thank you Lord.2.jpg

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Social Network

I just watched this movie about the development of Facebook.  Wikipedia says that Mark Zuckerberg was born Jewish but now describes himself as an aetheist. Knowing God doesn't unfriend people I have no difficulty after watching this movie knowing why Zuckerberg has unfriended God.

It's a disturbingly sad statement on American business which seems to say that one must be a psychopath to become a billionaire. Is this true?

The Zuckerberg story is Duddy Kravitz but without the depth, intelligence or sophistication of that Canadian Jewish classic.

Despite the disclaimers about his worship of Baal and money, by  Zuckerberg , I can't help but think that any philanthropy done now by him would ultimately be for some financial advantage such as tax breaks.

The Olympian sportsmen Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler  and their cofounder, East Indian Divya Narendra had developed the ideas and code for ConnectU, the Harvard University prototype for Facebook. The Winklevoss father, was Wharton School professor of actuarial science and author of mathematical text books. Tyler studied classical piano for 12 years beginning at age six while the twins self taught themselves HTML at age 13.

Mark  by all accounts except perhaps his own created a gucchi look alike but subsequently lost a lawsuit for some 100 million dollars to the original genius behind facebook.  Eduardo Saverin, the Brazilian jew and apparently the only 'friend' Mark had, provided all the start up funds for Facebook without knowing that  the idea was a 'rip off.  He was later blind sided by Mark who in an entertaining sleight of hand stole his principal share in Facebook. Not surprising at this time the company and it's senior members were involved in apparent cocaine abuse.  Eduardo lawsuit against his reptilian friend returned his name to cofounder and resulted in undisclosed millions of profit.

It's a sad statement for America that China doesn't even want to friend Facebook to be able to unfriend it.

The confidential court files were published in magazine 02138 and Facebook took court action to squelch them. The judge ruled against Facebook.  A Manhatten publication bought the Harvard related magazine and ceased it's publication.

Mark Zuckerberg was named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2010.  He joined Hitler and Stalin who also were named Time Person of the Year.  .

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest

We just watched the last of what has been well dubbed the "thriller of the decade' by the Daily Mirror.  I bought this Daniel Alfredson film in DVD Blue Ray combo at Costco for $24.  We'd watched, better still, been mesmerized by the first two episodes of th Stieg Larsson trilolgy starring Noomi Rapace as Goth Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as journalist Mikael Blomkvist.  The movie was released in Denmark in 2009.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Girl Who Played with Fire are other two parts of the trilogy.  It is an amazing political intrigue with crime and drama and hope despite all odds.  Truth is stranger than fiction and the subject matter has come to light repeatedly too often in recent years in too many countries.

Polar Bears, The Arctic's Fearless Great Wanderers

Polar Bears, The Arctic's Fearless Great Wanderers, is Anthony Dalton's contribution to the2010 Heritage House Amazing Stories Series. As a fly in doctor in northern Canada, serving in Churchill I had many stories and close encounters with these majestic animals.  Anthony Dalton's book chronicles the very first encounters of explorers to the farthest reaches of the north. He tells stories of inuit and Europeans. He's even found tales from Siberia.  It's a great read. I'd met Churchill guide Mike Macri when I first went north with Dr HIldes.  It was fun to read Anthony's true accounts of people and places I knew.  The stories are frightening, macabre at times, and sometimes comedic.  Anthony does a marvellous job of sharing them in this great little book which I wish had been in my school library. it's certainly something anyone going to work in the north should strongly consider. 120 fast moving pages with a wealth of information as well as the latest ecological and protection data regarding the bear including discussions of the effects of climate change on habitat.. A superb read, I recommend it to all


The trouble with antisemiticism, beyond being simply stupid, is that Jews are a highly divided people. Which Jews is one against.  For instance, my jewish friend is a poor jew. He only gets to sit at the back of the synagogue.  An antisemetic might well knee cap him because of his name and religous, ethnic alliance. The fellow knee capping my friend would be doing it  because a rich jew had done something to him. Some rich powerful jew had hurt him so he was going to get back at my friend.

Rich powerful people have more in common with each other than they do with others in their racial or ethnic affiliation.  Lawyers have more in common with other lawyers than blacks lawyers have with black washroom attendants.As a white Canadian doctor I have more in common with other doctors than I even have with white Canadian flower sellers.

Jews are divided by religion. There are secular and religious jews.  Should I hate religious jews or secular jews. As a Christian I have much more in common with religious jews than I have in common with those sons of bitches secular shits that are like non jewish sons of bitches secular shits.

Canadian Jews may have more in common with American Jews than I as a Canadian have with Americans however being Scottish Canadian I have more in common with people of Scottish heritage around the world than tribal jews have with highlanders.  Highlanders collectively consider all lowlanders, including jews, as inferior.  Jews might well consider us that way and demonstrate their ignorance of God's plan.

Just as there are Moslem Shiittes and Sunnis making it hard to hate all moslems since the two groups are as different as  Ashkenazi Jews are from Sephardic Jews. Ashkenazi's are as different from Sephardics, since Askenazi's are like New Yorkers and Sephardics being like Los Angeleians.  While it's easy to hate people from either eastern or western United States its hard not to like people from Wisconsin.

Among the secular jews there are pro israelites and anti israelites.  There are actually secular Jews who think that American jews should enshrine a part of Manhatten and compete with Israel for American militarial industrial foreign aid.

Among religious Jews there are three major divisions as well as slough of lesser divisions. The guys who dress funny to the western secular eyes are the "Orthodox".  They are not that disimiliar to Fundamentalist Christians or Jihad spouting conservative Muslims.  Politically they can be as off the wall as house burning Dukabors.  Spiritually though these orthodox and conservative religious sects of mainstream religions are often much more touched and deeply moved.  Miracles are more likely to occur in an orthodox setting than in a liberal religious afternoon coffee clutch of an Anglican church.

The American reform jews or British Liberal jews don't even believe a jew is a jew if they convert to another religion.  Leonard Cohen despite his jewishness might well be a buddhist by common law traditions. Jesus Christ started out a Jew and ended up a Christian.

That's the trouble with antisemiticism. You simply don't know which jew is a bad jew.  Peter was a jew and became a Catholic.  If antisemeticism said we should get rid of jews it might be safe to get rid of jewish plumbers but what about jewish musicians.

If a bunch of purpled eyed scaley blue and orange skinned people started killing white people I'd find a lot in common with other white people and skip the differences. I'd even see Ukranians and Irish as brothers in such a case.  War and survival like politics makes strange bedfellows.  I might even think natives and Italians were white and consider blacks just well tanned white if there were a whole lot of purpled eyed scaley blue and orange skinned people threatening me personally.

Locally when a rabbi raped a woman people who criticized him and the cover up were not 'antisemetic' any more than the catholics who objected to the pedophiles who infiltrated the catholic church, were anti catholic..  All Italians aren't mafia and all Japanese aren't Yakuza.  Neither are east Indians all members of the Brown Army or Chinese necessarily Maoists. The Chinese devils even confuse us by speaking two languages, mandarin and cantanose.  How can one be anti Chinese without knowing whether it's the short or tall Chinese that are problematic.

Anti semetism is stupid and lazy thinking.  I was impressed this week with the Egyptians.  They were specific. They'd taken the time to figure out that they weren't 'anti government', or 'anti authoritarian' but specifically said they were 'anti mubarek'.  I think anyone who doesn't like a jewish person should take the time and energy to be specific.   Mubarek of course tried to say that his critics were anti Egyptian but that's what tyrants say when they want to hide their dirty individual deeds in the group.

I personally am a fan of Einstein and think he probably had Scottish Canadian blood in him.






Trailer Trash

Since becoming trailer trash, I've been asked to describe what 'trailer trash' looks like.  Being trailer trash myself I've considered it, well, normal looking. Just the other day I took a picture of the local 'trailer trash' I know. They were doing what typical trailer trash do, hanging out in trailer beds until the weather improves so they can get in mumus and occupy lounge chairs outside. As trailer trash we have a keener appreciation of what is important and don't much despair about not having beamers or lotus sports car. We're pretty satisfied with big old diesel trucks.  And we thank the lord for our teeth.  54.jpg

Time and Place in Combat

A good general is always aware of the significance of "time and place".  If a platoon is ambushed the usual best response is retreat. If a mugger suddenly appears the best first response is to back a way.  One realizes that the enemy has chosen this "time and place" for whatever reason to attack. Even if a retreat is only a short distance the subsequent battle is now at the choosing in terms of 'time and place' of the defender.
(Advanced ambushes include a barrier to escape but at least then the defender has their back to a wall. Only if the attacker is a complete novice would immediate attack be indicated but this ploy of weak attack was what lead to Custer's fated arrogant charge and ultimate last stand)
At the simplest this lesson is a wise one for any confrontation.  A person who suddenly goes berzerk or starts a fight probably has some reason for picking this 'time and place'  for the altercation.  Best to negotiate another 'time and place' .
A typical ambush in domestic altercation is for children to raise "issues" when adults are preoccupied at the front door with talking to police or taxman, suturing up the cat's cut jugular,  or shooting at attacking green aliens.  This is of course the best time for an adolescent to bring up allowance or curfew or the friendship with their best friend sex addict drug dealer.  Parents in this 'combat setting' would be wise to retreat and refuse to engage but instead open the discussion when the adolescent has been out all night and wants to sleep in.  This is an example of chosing 'time and place'.
Couples will commonly "fight' when one is wasted after a day at the office while the other has had the day off. Coming through the door or leaving for work are often the best placees for ambushes. Again a studied response is to refuse to engage in this 'time and place' and pick another time and place such as in the middle of the mother in law's visit or during the sister's or brother's wedding rehearsal.
If people really want a reasonable and agreed on diplomatic solution to a problem rather than an 'end run' or 'bullying win" such as preached in 'negotiation through intimidation' the first discussion is best a discussion about when and where the discussion will be held.
That was the case when wars were for gentlemen and women were called ladies before the days of guerrila warfare, terrorism and baby bombers.  Of course if home and office and country politics give no alternative to civilized discussion it is best then to accept 'all's fair in love and war'.  At that point it's best to chose time and place for the altercation.
I personally think nuclear weapons attached to toilet handles have the potential for very pretty pyrotechnics with significant collateral damage.  Alternatively poisoning underwear, sanitary pads or condoms is a particularly well chosen time and place to lay down the gauntlet.
Without consideration of the weapons or tactics the first strategic question is 'time and place'.  Today's marriage is for many not a life long investment but rather a planned combat engagement with intention of withdrawal when children leave kindergarden or high school or one or other of the contestant completes their college degree.. Given the covert agendas implicit in these love wars it's actually amazing how truly civilized we are as a species.  So few kill each other that newspapers actually consider this news.
Faced with threat of combat consider first the concept of 'time and place'.  Post combat analysis takes into consideration what aspects of "time and place" seemed significantly to contribute to the particular combat.
As the best defence is an offence, the whole argument of victim and victimizer has become passe.  It's the stuff to be used by the stupid and childlike but really has no place in the adult world  where there really are only volunteers. Even the suicidal are picking their own 'time and place'. The 'homicidal' have always understood time and place.
Now this is the thinking of combatants.  It's the rule of 'all's fair in love and war', and the rule of politics where war is considered an extension of good business practice as opposed to a very different idea which says war is failure.  In the latter case we should be asking how we can use this time and place for something more constructive. Often war is a childish way of avoiding the adult tasks of building and creating.

Stormy Weather

Carl Hiaason's novel Stormy Weather is another brilliant and hillarious offering from this Miami Post journalist.  A  sleazy marketting advertiser with a new video camera decides to take his newlywed wife to Florida to video the post hurricane wreckage for their honeymoon.  An illegal game farm escapes into the suburbs in the hurricane.  A beautiful woman decides this is her chance to claim injury for profit. As builders and inspectors are escaping the devastation of the hurricane every fly by night roofer scoundrel from all over the US is descending on the new found gold mine. As these misbegotten scoundrels come together less than good knights and tarnished angels appear in the most unlikely moments. I've read several of Hiaason's novels with great pleasure .This one was even more entertaining against the back drop of weather change today  and corruption in high places.  Corruption in high places seems to bring out the best in Hiasson's wit and genius.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Remembering Milan

It was only a few months ago Laura and I were in Milan.  Thanks to pictures I was able to return to the Caffe La Piazzetta where we went for breakfast and lunch after shopping.  We loved window shopping. Milan is such a city of fashion. People watching was as much fun. Everyone was well coiffed, Italian urbanites so appreciate of art worn as they are of the art of ancients displayed around their city.  Elegance and sensuality. Beauty and reverence.
It's raining today in Vancouver.  A good day for remembering Milan and the wonderful time we had there.  Caffe La Piazzetta.jpg3.jpg3.jpg4.jpg5.jpg13.jpg6.jpg14.jpg8.jpg9.jpg10.jpg11.jpg12.jpg14.jpg