End of life stage observations

Posted on March 1, 2024
Filed Under Commentary, Longevity observations, Memories | Leave a Comment

I’m not planning on dying anytime soon. I’m 81, past the longevity norms for my generation of Canadians. I’m on bonus time already. I know it’s boring hearing others talk about health. I can’t help myself. I’ve been working on my story telling all my life. The oldest news story in the world, lead (lede in editor jargon) is,’’Hey everybody, look what I found out!’’

I don’t intend to whine about my health. I smoked and drank heavily and was 100 lbs overweight much of my adult life. I feel a bit guilty about having known so many people who took much better care of themselves but are gone. I am embarrassed for feeling a little sorry for myself to be losing my doctor although missiles and bombs, and all the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are not between me and food, water, medicine and heat. I will even still have access to local clinics and my records.

End of life is new to me and has brought several unanticipated side effects. It is a unique although universal life stage. If some of the things I learn on my journey, can smooth the way for you, this butterfly scribe will have successfully completed his leg of the relay. I don’t intend to whine about my health. I smoked and drank heavily and was 100 lbs overweight most my adult life. I feel a bit guilty about having known so many people who performed their personal care much better but are gone. I am embarrassed for feeling sorry for myself to be losing my doctor although missiles and bombs, and all the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are not between me and food, water, medicine and heat. I will even still have access to local clinics and my records.

I hope some of you see it as my attempt to chip in a bit to pay for all the kaleidoscope of photographs, information, art, and community service you feed our community every day.
And, of course, you don’t have read one word. :-)

I’ve noticed most of my contemporaries get most of their excited delight from giving and doing things for their family members.
We also gradually realize we had our turn to build and lead and serve and reproduce and seduce but it isn’t now. I like Bill Clinton’s label, ‘’Those of us with more yesterdays than tomorrows.’’
We couldn’t function if we thought about the fact, of which we’re well aware, that our lives will end.
As the film reel spins faster and faster as the movie nears its end, it’s harder and harder to ignore.
Most of my class mates, many of my closest colleagues and many family members are gone or isolated. Having lived with same tidal river view for 39 years, I’ve had it thoroughly, regularly re-emphasized what an insignificant mote I am in both space and time.
Someone said we don’t stop dreaming because we’re old. We’re old when we stop dreaming. My dreams are to see as much of my grand kids lives as possible and leave them happy, healthy and with warm and amusing memories of me.
My personal, daily, ambition and chore is to fend off vascular dementia. I have A-fib and sleep apnea. If my devices are at all accurate, my heart rate drops to 34 bpm several times per hour every night and I regularly just stop breathing. I’m on blood thinners to help avoid paused blood from clotting moving to the brain but they also mean my circulation doesn’t take as much oxygen to my brain.
My mother told me her friends’ greatest fear was to be physically alive but pathetic mentally. I agree.
It’s hard these days to get guidance on how we’re doing and how much exercise is enough to move enough blood and oxygen but not so much as to trigger the heart attacks or strokes A-fib makes more likely.
We all know heat stroke can knock us down, put us in spasms and helpless. Hydrations and IV electrolytes are sometimes required to bring us out. I wasn’t surprised when high summer temperatures and humidity drained my energy and triggered cramps. I even learned that keeping a heating pad on my feet at night and extra hydration helped with that. More recently, I started having heavy shuddering shivering soon after the sun goes down at home. I’d load on fleece. An hour or so later, I’d be too hot.
Eventually, I deduced the same inability of my thinned circulation to cool my blood quickly, works in reverse. It seems to take about two hours for my body to adjust to a two-degree C drop in ambient room temperature.

Gender ID polarization child abuse!

Posted on September 21, 2023
Filed Under Commentary, Economic & Political Philosophy | Leave a Comment

Right now, Canadians are being bitterly divided. Some people believe a student under the age of 15 should not be talking to a school employee about gender identity without parents being informed.

Others believe all students’ individual human rights are violated if their concerns on gender can not be confidential.
Obviously there are valid arguments on both sides. Education hierarchy often successfully puts itself above the law for its own convenience. Many parents are the biggest problem a non-binary child has.
Obviously the better solution is compromise. A student’s need for adult consultation on gender identity should be dealt with on a case by case basis. School administrations and child protection services could be involved in assessing the child’s concerns and ensuring the child’s personal safety.
Obviously most parents are eager to know everything they can about their children’s health. Even when adult gender diverse people eventually develop the confidence, feel loved or desperate enough to come out to their parents, the parents smile and say they knew that for years.
If ever there was an example of how polarization is destroying the civil exchange of ideals and fears among citizens, who wins? Who loses? Either way, kids lose.
Come on people. Come on Higgs. Come on progressives. Put the kids first!

DAC Sept. 21, 2023

Robbie Robertson – cool Canadian

Posted on August 10, 2023
Filed Under Giants, History & Culture | Leave a Comment

Teens in South West Ontario, in the 1950s thought Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins was the coolest rocker in Canada. His backup band, the Hawks, once included the members who would go on to back up Bob Dylan, who was as cool globally as Ronnie was in Canada. Made Canadian kids proud.

Going on their own as “The Band” seemed presumptuous but kick-ass bold. Then they lived up to it culminating in the Scorsese rock classic movie, “The Last Waltz,” in which a hall of fame list of performers gave clear indication of their status in the world of rock.

Robbie Robertson is another jewel in my vault of the treasures of my youth gone. So big. So great. So cool!

I also like, that with Buffy Ste. Marie, he was one of a pair of world class musicians who were not only Canadian but First Nations Canadian!

Cool!    DAC

Chinese Canadian discrimination?

Posted on March 24, 2023
Filed Under Commentary, Economic & Political Philosophy | Leave a Comment

During WW II, Canada confiscated homes and businesses and put Japanese Canadians into internment camps lest they be more loyal to the country they or their ancestors came from than to Canada.
We did nothing remotely similar to German or Italian new Canadians.
In recent decades, we remember French President Chares de Gaulle saying, Vive Québec Libre!” during a visit to Canada. France provided equipment and staff to L’Evangeline newspaper in New Brunswick for decades.
Americans were among the most enthusiastic supporters and sponsors of the Canadian truck convoy attempted overthrow of Canada’s government in 2022. Canadian Members of Parliament, including mine, visited with and endorsed the occupation of our National Capitol!
Many Canadians, including me, enthusiastically criticize US and UK politics to anyone who will listen.
And yet, two Chinese Canadian elected representatives have been hounded into resigning from the federal Liberal and provincial Conservative Party caucuses by suggestions the Chinese government may have tried to influence their performance in Canada.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if China does try to gain support from Chinese and other Canadians in its global intelligence and propaganda programs.
Do you suppose England, France, the U.S. Russia and Israel don’t have moles in Canada gathering every kind of useful intel and support they can? Do we have Canadians from Iran, Syria, the Ukraine and African and South American countries lobbying and demonstrating for Canadian government action supporting their causes?
I never believed a majority of Chinese in China are either communist or supporters of the Chinese government. The Chinese religious and cultural respect for elders and family clash diametrically with communism’s directive to put the state first and the agony and damage done by communist population control and cultural misogyny.
The Chinese in Canada have been primary builders of our happy nation. We’ve all seen first generation Chinese Canadians live and work every day of the year running restaurants at all hours. We’ve also seen the second generation earning high scholastic marks and moving on to power careers.
They escaped communism. They are helping keep our country moving ahead. There is an undoubtedly racist tinged joke that none of us has ever known a Chinese Canadian on welfare.
And yet, here we are, screaming for a public inquiry into possible Chinese diplomatic staff attempting to influence the electorate in favour of Liberal candidates!
Going by our history, Canada judges Asians by different standards. Unless we’re going to hold public inquiries into all of our allies and rivals on the world stage, I have to believe the current attacks and smears on elected Chinese Canadians demonstrate a different standard for Asians.                                                                     DAC

Health care delayed is health care denied

Posted on February 18, 2023
Filed Under Commentary | Leave a Comment

Health care delayedis health care denied

When I moved to Miramichi in 1976, I was fortunate to get Dr. Luc Blanchard as my personal physician. When I needed attention, I’d visit his office a few doors down the street. I’d sit down and tell him my issue. He’d ask a few questions. Sometimes he’d reach back, pull a book off the wall behind him and skim a page or two. He’d give me a diagnosis and prescription. Once he sent me to the hospital for treatment.

In recent years, I’ve been fortunate to have good doctors with one exception. It does, however, take far longer to get diagnosis and treatment. There’s far more being referred to specialists, waiting for tests and waiting for treatments. CT scans, MRIs, biopsies and specialist references provide more detailed information but take a lot of time. Often delay aggravates the patient’s condindition – sometimes fatally. I think physicians are in a difficult position. Ordering a series of tests leads to delay. Not ordering a series of tests or not referring patients to specialists could lead to misdiagnosis, fatality and guilt. It’s a classic Catch 22. No clear winning choice.

I don’t know who could weigh the pros and cons most successfully but statistical models could surely establish useful patterns. I think it is a necessary step. Pouring more money into staff and equipment obviously leads to more tests, examinations and treatments. Highways don’t solve traffic, they create and increase it. Better roads lead to clogged city streets.

To avoid that happening to our hospitals, we need to streamline every step in the process. That could include private services billed to Medicare as is proposed in Ontario. We can see what private MRIs cost. I think most of us are startled they’re so high. It makes me wonder what an MRI costs in our local hospital. Might it be even more?

I’m always surprised by the amount of equipment and material is one-time use in hospitals. I go for a lung test every six months. I blow into a plastic mouth piece about the size of a grapefruit. I inhale a Ventolin puffer from a cylinder with a pincer on my nose. All that is thrown away when I’m done with it. Who needs a disposable tool to hold their nose? Could I bring the mouthpiece and cylinder I used last time?

Efficient medical delivery also has to take into account patient travel and time. Miramichiers needing enhanced vaccinations for trips to third world regions used to get them here. After Elaine Jimmo retired, that service was provided in Bathurst. That’s not saving money. That’s offloading greater expense to patients.

A cancer patient I know needed a bone density test regarding a treatment modification. Her specialist ordered the test done in Moncton. She had to kick through a wall of resistance to make him realize that test is available here. Most patients wouldn’t know and just go to Moncton.

Years ago, Region 7 began to digitize its records. After a few years, it stopped. Unless all the records are available from the data base, it isn’t much use. If some are digital and some are paper, that’s more, not less work to find. The province is currently considering expanding remote medical appointments. How will that work if a patient is in Miramichi, a specialist is in Saint John and some patient records files are paper in Miramichi and some are digital somewhere?

As with most challenges, delivery of medical care has produced many suggestions to make it more efficient. Specialized theatres for routine surgeries is one.

Longevity has increased in Canada over my lifetime. (https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/CAN/canada/life-expectancy#:~:text=The current life expectancy for,a 0.18% increase from 2020). To avoid sagging back, we need to to do it best quickest. More of the same isn’t going to work. We have to get seriously smarter. DAC

Closure a complex emotion

Posted on December 5, 2022
Filed Under Commentary, History & Culture | Leave a Comment

Closure means different things to different people. Often it means friends, family and associates get to perform an act of respect important to them. Sometimes it means an answer has been found to a disappearance or the solving of a crime. Often it signifies relief that a loved one’s suffering is over or that an offender’s consequences have begun.
It rarely means any relief from grief. Grief is the price we pay for love. It does scab over and numb over time. It is still there. From time to time something rips off the scab and reopens the wound.
There is also a point when the next of kins’ duties marking end of life are completed and there is time to deal with only the emotions of loss, not the facts and acts.
From my observations, it does not usually mean a lessening of grief.
I agree with Judy’s appeal to be kind. Most comments made to attempt to make the survivors feel better, don’t. I struggle to think of things to say that don’t sound stupid.
From personal experience, I know it is heartening to see and hear messages of care and concern when you lose your parents or a sibling. They contribute to healing for survivors and care expressed for mourners.
Formal end of life rituals occur in all cultures and faiths I’m aware of. That would seem to indicate they fulfil some latent human instinct and need to recognize, mark, observe and record such a significant milestone in human existence.

Precious but obsolete?

Posted on November 23, 2022
Filed Under Commentary, Economic & Political Philosophy, Memories, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

100 years ago, young men did not usually rise to positions of power and authority until what are now considered retirement ages for many. Women didn’t get there at any age.
Young men started a Junior Chamber of Commerce to help young men between 18 and 40 develop leadership skills. The organization eventually grew into Jaycees International. It developed wonderful programs like Effective Speaking, Parliamentary Procedure, Committee Organization and Management. Members were to learn the programs and use them in projects to benefit their communities. In its prime, the Calgary Jaycees had an administrative role in the Stampede.
One of the programs it developed was Leadership in Action, A programme of personal growth. It aimed to guide participants to balance the important elements of their personal lives.
The elements were social, financial, mental, physical, family and spiritual. It included plans and tools to set and achieve goals.
As I purge my files and memorabilia, I’m looking at my copy and suffering nostalgia. That’s a word from the Greek for the pain of going back.
I’m enthusiastically grateful for all I learned in Jaycees. I was lucky to land in one of the units which took the education element seriously and had an excellent volunteer course leader and teacher, Jim Mitchell, in Pictou County, Nova Scotia.
Oddly, one big reason for the dramatic decline to almost extinction in Jaycees, was its decision to include women in the membership. That had an unforeseen, unintended consequence it did not have in Rotary. Jaycees tended to be young men with leadership ambitions in their companies, unions, politics, volunteer or any organizations. Women who joined mostly had similar motivations. Often the spouses of those men and women did not. Many spouses didn’t want to be Jaycees but weren’t comfortable with their spouses socializing so much with meetings, courses and projects in coed groups.
It also led to some people joining units for wrong reasons.
There were and are other reasons too, of course. Youths can be billionaires by the time they’re 30 now. Both men and women have access to influence and education from many more sources now.
Fathers tend to be more involved at home that they used to be.
In any case, Jaycees is one of the organizations that was important to me but is no longer as necessary. The regional and national newspaper associations we built when technology turned newspapers into a quantum leap more productive are also on the wane. My generation presided over the development of the current infrastructure. Now there are plenty of schools with fine instructors. Centralization has led to large media chains with their own internal training culture.
I am nostalgic but also gratified. Having been involved in the efforts to develop young men for success in modern society and the improvement in media skills, I can’t be sad they both took root, bloomed and are mutating and evolving into what society needs now.
But what do I do with my copy of the program?
I still love the Jaycee Creed with which we opened every meeting.
We Believe:
That Faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life;
That the brotherhood of men transcends the sovereignty of nations;
That economic justice can best be won by free men through free enterprise;
That government should be of laws rather than of men;
That earth’s great treasure lies in human personality;
And that service to humanity is the best work of life.

The Night Editor’s Poem

Posted on October 27, 2022
Filed Under Poetry | Leave a Comment

The Night Editor’s Poem
by Alden Nowlan

A child is lost near a lake
in the woods outside the city;
a man has been found dead
in a hotel and our reporter knows only
that the detectives have sent out
for sandwiches and coffee which
they’re now consuming
in the same room with the corpse and a woman
who may be a suspect,
if there has been a murder, although right now
it looks more like suicide,
in which case our photographer
should get out of there as fast as he can
because nobody remembered to arrange for a picture
of the new officers of the Knights of Pythias.
There is flooding
in the Upper St. John River Valley and a cabbie
has been stabbed in Fredericton, and Trudeau
looks like a shoo-in unless
there’s a deal which would mean
we’d have to pull the lead editorial and kill
that display of cuts
on page five, and we should do something
on page one about Vietnam, although all there is
so far is the usual round-up
that nobody reads and,
Martin Luther King has been shot
in Memphis, the extent
of his injuries has not yet
been determined.

I send the kid
for a one column, head and shoulders,
cut, and ask if there’ve been any deaths
from the floods, because if there haven’t been
I can shove that story downpage
and do a two column upper left
display on King unless,

his injuries
are critical

and I push everything down
four inches and send the kid
for a one and one-half columns,
head and shoulders, not much more than three
inches deep,
and there’s a call from the hotel
our reporter sounding disappointed
because, sure enough, it was suicide
and that means only three inches
of type on the back page, and
by the time Mac got to the Pythian Castle
they’d gone home but maybe we have a file cut
of the grand chancellor
we can use on provincial; there’s a hell of a good
shot of the mother
of the lost child taken when they told her
they’d found the body, one that will stand up
in three columns with everything but her face
cropped out, something good enough
to send out on the wire and,

Martin Luther King
is dead,

and it’s too late
for a wirephoto which means
dig out that shot of him being hit
by a stone in Chicago, I think it was,
and have the engraver mask it so
nothing shows except
his body falling, and we’ll set the story
in 12-point boldface, 18 ems, under
an all-cap 72-point Headline Gothic
head and splash it across
the top half of page one,
and it’s not until later,
hours later,
eating ham and eggs
at an all-night diner,
shrugging my shoulders
to work some of the ache
out of them,
that I pick up the paper
again and understand
that Martin Luther King
is dead, and that I care.

Scary observation

Posted on October 27, 2022
Filed Under Commentary, Environmental | Leave a Comment

Oct. 27, 2022
I’m seeing more and more information that micro plastics are everywhere and causing damage to land, air and water.
It reminds me of a years ago tour of the outside of a chemical products complex in Germany. The Chemistry PhD showing it to us said it was proud to say it was a totally closed loop. No waste liquids or solids were released from the facility.
Later he told me of an experiment searching for a new adhesive that had gone wrong. They came in one morning and a vat of a solution had solidified and set. They had to chop and cut it out of the vat.
I asked him how they disposed of it in their vaunted closed system. He grinned and said, “We put a little bit of it in everything we make.”
So the system wasn’t closed at all was it?
I’m not suggesting the plant I saw was using toxic waste in its products. I just don’t know. Makes me wonder what and how much harmful waste is just sprinkled into products we all use every day. Might the micro plastics ecological infestation be a hint?
Thousands of new chemicals and products are developed and used every year. Most are never tested or regulated for environmental impact. What can go wrong, oft times will go wrong.                     DAC

Dystopian human future

Posted on August 20, 2022
Filed Under Commentary, Economic & Political Philosophy | Leave a Comment

Aug. 20,2022
Worker Productivity Score is the latest sinister technological term I find horrifying and outrageous.
Companies like Amazon can and do monitor and control every aspect of their employees’ behaviour and performance every minute.
Employees are as tightly managed as caged chickens in an agribusiness egg factory.
It is part of the economic model that prizes productivity over everything else. Ant hills and bee hives are their concept of the model for the future of humanity. Cram as many people as possible into as small a space (a sphere) as possible and program them to be as ergonomically, repetitively and minimally mobile as possible.
We’ll become human algorithms, super efficient and productive but as mindless and soulless as parking meters.
Next, of course, will be sedatives to dull employee minds to prevent suicidal depression and, voila, here we are in Orwell’s
“1984,” all kept docile with Aldous Huxley’s, “Brave New World” Soma.
Resist!                                                           DAC

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