Category Archives: Lifes Lessons

Heartbreak At Manitoba U.S. Border

One wrong- headed move and your life could be over just like this family of four from India. I’ve spent time in the far north in the winter time and I’ll tell you – you are no match for the elements and perhaps even if well prepared. Today I share a story of respect for the cold.

It was the summer of 1983 (that’s right – a Canadian summer day) and I was working as a summer student at a gold mine as a millwright’s assistant in between first and second year of university. I was stationed out of Thompson Manitoba but was flown into a mining camp some 200km north of the Manitoba border into Nunavut (was still the N.W.T. back then) on a one week in and one week out rotation.

There is much camaraderie in the mining business and I was the mill superintendent’s son. There would have been an unspoken agreement among those working in the mill to ensure to look out for the kid. One day there was a blizzard and it was time to go for lunch. The mess hall was only 200 feet from the mill but in a “white out” you’re lucky to see your hand in front of your face never mind 200 feet into the distance. However; a vague outline of the destination building was visible. The mill exit door and the mess hall entrance were corner to corner and if you missed the corner and became disoriented, you’d be potentially left vulnerable to the freezing cold Canadian north.

As an eighteen year old, I had already experienced life in the far north having lived in a place called Cantung, N.W.T  as a child in 1975/76. I had cross country skied and snowmobiled up there in very cold conditions. There was talk of dress and respect for the cold. Parents had lived life on the prairies of Canada rurally growing up. A culture of cold had been nurtured within.

In other words, I had been conditioned to formulate a plan just for going for lunch on that wintery summer day. I ventured back from the exit to find a mill operator who would monitor my trip with signals and sound. After lunch….conditions changed and the trip back was all clear. This one small measure was relatively hassle free.     

It’s heart shattering to have learned that this family of four from India froze to death in their quest for a new life in the U.S. It’s maddening to learn that there’s not better coordination of law enforcement between countries.        

Nurses Quebec Example

Did you know that Quebec reported 50,000 health care workers now on “leave” from work due to “burn out”? Just when your country needed them most….they now collecting a disability cheque. That’s right – short term and long term disability claims are enormous right now. The actual number not on the job is actually 70,000 with the other 20,000 associated with those in current isolation. It’s staggering and you can look to see an increase in insurance costs for whichever policy for which you apply because you are not immune from the effect of claims paid in sectors unrelated to your policies. There is some correlation between sector related claims pertaining to generating premiums but that correlation is not 100 per cent. Insurance companies spread risk through a process called “reinsurance” thereby indirectly affecting you. 

You know when Canadian soldiers lined the trenches while securing our freedom, there was no 1-800 number to call for applying for mental health leave. Of course, there are the “professional associations” and “unions” which provide complicating variables in restricting governments from casting a broader net for acquiring human resources necessary during this critical time. It should be no surprise that doctors are sparse and unavailable to assist due to our system of education and influence of the professional association in limiting access to the profession.    

 Here we are in a health care crisis whereby those associations so adamant at protecting their professions are now desperate.  

Intelligent Voices On Mute

Have you ever noticed that it’s the quiet ones oftentimes most cerebral and wise? Have the intelligent voices been put on mute? In this social media oriented environment, unfortunately society is not well served by having their voices “on mute”. The megaphones seem to be in the hands of the blasphemous and irrational.

My blog serves as a conduit to broadcast my occasional philosophical rants. I do so in the context of a politically correct theatre whereby professional organizations muzzle their members, stake holders are intimidated by the bureaucratic maze, government officials show up unimpassioned in the comfort of their home office. 

Then there are the news organizations keen to report a traffic accident or a tawdry affair of a public figure or the banality of a Stevie Nicks decision not to tour in the face of COVID but absent in the context is the reporting of the Taliban regaining a foothold in populous Afghanistan cities with the departure of G7 troops. The editorial boards frustrate public debate with their protective bias with a justification that contrasting opinions are tainted with a compromise of their community guidelines. Cutting opinion coloured with sarcasm and eloquence is mistaken for personal attack. Editorialists are now too daft to know the difference.       

The intelligent either puts up a blog like mine in appeasement of intellectual vigour or steps away with indifference in character of the disposition of prototypical Canadians. There’s always letters and emails I suppose if one possesses intense follow up protocol.  If you are a borne and bread Western Canadian in the middle of your life having not attended French immersion as a child during a time when so little of it was available – you most likely won’t be seeking federal political office.

The megaphones are abundant but you shake your head at what comes out of them. It is so bizarre that you need to possess through training – acumen for idling the rational mind instead of joining the chorus of folks now trumpeting the “mental health” mantra.     

Word For The Unvaccinated COVID Paranoid

Your governments have spent oodles of money to get you free vaccines. For those unvaccinated covid paranoid…many of you who think you apparently know so much about physiology and medical science who have decided not to vaccinate and not heed your governments’ recommendation, the consequences of your decision are illuminating. Doctors in Alberta now whine about policy in lifting the vast majority of restrictions. Albertans have all had the chance to set appointments and vaccines have been available for all except children. Children have the best tolerance to handle an infection. Albertans have been looked after by governments with subsidies, vaccines, and work from home allowances. You doctors making the big bucks from the public purse having spent a ridiculous amount of time in school have most likely never operated a small business or been faced with managing a payroll. Now you whine. 

You see once we hit adulthood we get to deal directly with consequences of our conduct. If you choose not to vaccinate against a killer virus and you get infected and die…that is a consequence of your conduct. Society cannot go around protecting you from a decision which you take to risk your life in the face of arduous measures undertaken to protect you of which you reject.   

Help Social Services Help The Vulnerable

You’ ve all seen the homeless but there may be an acute condition that you stumble upon. You know intuitively when an individual may not be street smart. You can feel their vulnerability and fear. You’ve hence come to realize that your typical day may take a different turn. Call it an inconvenience or a duty but the matter need not take much time. We all have cell phones clipped to our hip nowadays. You can log the necessary number into your contact list. Despite the indifference there are still social workers amongst us who live their occupation like a calling and will treat your call with the respect it deserves. Do continue to trust in a system irrespective of imperfections. 

With my new office in the East Belt Line, a walk to Millenium Park was ambitious but the day was a beaut so why not. It actually wasn’t my planned destination but upon arriving and ascending the ramp for a viewpoint of the skateboarders I was struck by a woman in her mid twenties holding her tummy and struggling. This was one of those situations and I had just passed by the Kerby Centre along my trek so upon learning she was suffering from apparent morning sickness and homelessness I encouraged her to get help at the Senior Centre. Knowing full well about the reluctance of many to accept help, I watched and waited for a time atop the park’s concrete viewpoint. She had found refuge from the sun behind the pillared concrete structure adjacent to a closed confectionary counter and was not heeding my suggestion.

This was a woman new to homelessness and needed intervention. I am not the one but there are professionals. I reversed my trail back to the Kerby Centre and reported the woman. I trust that there will be follow up. It is not my job but I’m confident that my small parcel of time in caring has paved the way for a professional to approach her.   

For those interested in learning more about the challenge of helping the homeless, Mark Laita has been conducting interviews on the topic over at Youtube’s “Soft White Underbelly”. He means well and admittedly was naive upon venturing into the chasm of mankind’s deviant conduct. His interview may provide insight. Cynicism need not carry the day. Hope is where the heart hails.   

Tennis Career of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – Takeaway

Some superstars come right out of the gate as gifted with magic in their ground strokes. Other players have required time to develop the neuro-pathways with coaching in order to manifest the weaponry to compete at the highest level.

At 29 years of age Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova finally made it into the final of a grand slam event. This is a woman who had lost consistently over a number of years in the first, second, and third rounds of both doubles and singles events. She has a sprinkling of quarter final appearances to go along with some absences due to injury or failure to qualify. She obviously kept working on her game in order to improve with sights on a grand slam championship.

So here she was the other day in the 2021 French Open final getting blown out in the first set to an unseeded dark horse but found resolve to comeback and compete vigorously. I can just imagine the talk she gave herself at the first set break revisiting all the training she had done along with all the mediocre results in her long career. This would have been a moment of truth for her similarly to when we are all faced with similar situations when it’s time to step up and perform. Will we wilt or will we shine? On this day Ms. Pavlyuchnenkova shone by taking the second set 6-2 and losing the match by posting 4-6 in the third . She gave it her absolute best manifested something better than the past. You see – that’s what we are aiming to do. We are aiming to deliver something better from day to day. When there’s a regression, we double down and push harder. We go the extra mile. We test ourselves thereby adding fruitfulness and vigour to our being while managing other important elements of our life.

Congratulations to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on her 2021 French Open tournament!   

Kenney on COVID

I listen to Jason Kenny from time to time on the COVID updates. Most of the time I find him balanced, reasonable, and thoughtful. The one noticeable verbal slip was couple of weeks ago when he suggested that Alberta was going to have the best summer in its history. I just don’t have the problem with Kenney that  so many others do. He’s a good orator and his convictions are supported by his policy. He has not infused (yet anyway) any of his social policy biases into legislative proposals which was frankly my biggest concern when he became the Premier of Alberta. I ‘m insufficiently versed on alleged shenanigans during his rise to the leadership of the UCP.   

He handles media questions quite well in the context of COVID. Every province has been at the mercy of poor federal handling of COVID from the outset. It’s become apparent from his comments today that dozens of municipalities in Alberta have flagrantly disavowed restrictive measures and it is in this context that Alberta faces infractions by its citizenry. It’s become obvious that our legal system with all its intricacies and high power prosecutors have much to account for right now with the lack of enforcement and conviction around laws which have been ignored by hordes of people across the province. In lieu of the Bowden rodeo on the weekend, I had expected more on the topic of justice and COVID from the premier today. He has referenced another announcement upcoming tomorrow.    

I have witnessed indifference from law enforcement in Alberta pre-pandemic. I’m sensing that fellow Albertans are now also asking the question as to why people can flagrantly break the law with no consequences. I predict that there was no police officer nor Alberta Health Services marshal recording license plate numbers at the Bowden Rodeo over the weekend.  

Covid Rational Mind In Overdrive

Post inspired by friend because of an engaging conversation. Let me start out by saying – you may have come to learn more about human nature in the past year than in your entire life time.

Too many people have not known how to allocate their mental resources in the midst of government regulations arising from the pandemic. There is evidence galore. Those who haven’t been able to assert their mental faculties in productive ways have hence allowed the default to pervade via the newswire and daily COVID stats. Some have been so obsessed with manifestation of COVID that they’ve gone so far as to think that the bogeyman is out to get them through planned annihilation. Apparently some feeble minded have been so brash that they’ve been compelled to make an unmasked scene at the grocery store.

Here is the thing. If you have nothing going on in your life, you’ll reduce yourself to minimalism through an unfiltered reactive mind accessible to the slightest in perturbation. If your mental construct is not sufficiently fertilized with creativity, spirit, gratitude, purpose, and wonderment, you will be exposed to negative threat. If you are not continually nourishing the mind through learning you will be stagnant in your personal development thereby impeding the prospect of hopeful utility.

If you gossip or engage in the company of people who are innately negative, their negativity will rub off on you. If you are desperate for the company of others, you may not have found comfort in your own skin. If you judge quickly, you will drown in absolutism and behave boorishly. It didn’t take a pandemic in order to espouse such revelation but it certainly has brought clarity.   

Modern Growth And Development

“Growth and Development” was a core subject during my tenure at the faculty of Physical Education and Sports Studies. I recall the course work focused around stages of development naturally occurring chronologically while considering causes of anomalies. However; back then there was no pandemic, no mobile electronic gadgets, and single parent families were lesser.   

Today I witnessed a girl nearly the size of her mother learning to ride a bike without training wheels and without the support of a dad to prop her up. Mom didn’t know quite how to help because she lacked the physical prowess to latch on and run along. It gave me pause to assign metaphor for our changing time and reminisce over my good fortune growing up. I suppose daughter would have learned last summer if it wasn’t for pandemic related reservations.  

We’ve devised spousal / child supports and the “Canada Child Benefit” but kids still really grow up oftentimes in the company of one and not two adults. They miss witnessing the fun repartee between loving couples. They miss the family car vacation with rest stops and adventure rides. They miss the joy of witnessing both parents adorn them with admiration have shared their achievements. They miss that one needed game player to thicken the plot. They miss the strength of a man clutching them in safety from the asphalt confident that he’ll know when time is right to let go. They miss mom waiting in the wings for a report and that wink and a nod shared between mom and dad.