Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Changing Life Roles…
October 22, 2017

I have just returned home from a wonderful afternoon with a friend who, a lifetime ago was my student. We were experimenting with tweaking the sound system in the church. He agreed to meet me and to put his considerable talents to the test to see how we might improve and make clearer the worship message. We ran wire and set up an amp and tested microphones and speakers and twisted dials and sliders for two to three hours. Overwhelmed by  rich, robust sound pulled from assorted electronic gadgetry spread out on the floor and on the table and desktop, we continued. I stand to learn much from him about the nuances of sound.

He was in my first class, Grade 5, when I began my teaching career in 1965. One of 37 young eager minds awaiting filling by me. A first year, fledgling teacher. I remember him fondly from that time because he reminded me of me at that same age. And, today I wonder about changing life roles. The student becomes the teacher! It is not just about him and me! I’ve thought about this before. At what point in our lives, do our children become our caregivers? Our teachers? It is a whammy! The realization that roles have reversed hits home and I delight in the knowledge that I have become the learner.

Today’s adventure into learning was about sound. It was about sound systems and making sound bend to our will. What I came home with is so much grander than just the mechanics of sound. As part of our finding stuff to use as test material, he introduced tome his favourite poet, Shane Koyczan. And I learned even more about the person he has become over all the intervening years since 1965. He has grown into a man of considerable depth and who finds peace and solace in the language of poetry. I rushed home to share my discovery, my learning with my wife.

Let me share it with you, too.

Affordable Care vs Canadian Universal Health Care
September 30, 2017

I grow weary of the news stories about Affordable Health Care (Obama Care and the repeal of…) featured in the news from the United States these past months. I just cannot understand why the US Federal Government cannot find a way to provide affordable universal health care for all of its citizens. Especially, when as of 2009 there are “…58 countries in the world with legislation mandating Universal Health Care, along with > 90% health insurance coverage…” upon which the US might use as models.

My guess is that none of the models is perfect. There will always be those in a society who attempt to take advantage of whatever system is put in place. And regardless of the coverage, for some it will never be enough. Yet, the good of the society’s health in these countries is the motivational factor. So, what is the problem with the leaders in the US Federal Government?

The Toronto Star recently reported, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence blasts ‘failings’ of Canadian health system. Comments made by the Vice President on the “failings” of the Canadian Health Care system were made to the listeners of a radio broadcast in Alaska. It reminded me of a recent conversation I had with some visitors from the US to northwestern Ontario, Canada this past summer. Our conversation turned to health care to which I responded with a comment about my sadness for the American people who cannot seem to convince their leaders that this is a basic need of all citizenry. I shared in our conversation that I cannot remember the last time I had a bill for any medical procedure including the birth of our children and all of the various medical attention required for the cuts, scrapes and broken bones that appear to follow active kids in judo, dance, acrobatics and foolish play. This would include the 12 hours we spent in Emergency at the hospital in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec when my son was injured during the Ironman competition in Mont Tremblant.  Or, the number of times I have had to go to the nearest hospital while away from home and have always received exemplary and immediate care (and no bill for service).

It is easy to focus on the negative comments. It seems that those comments are always the loudest and the ones that ‘make the news’. I have no doubt that the stories we hear about the ‘failings’ of our system are true, yet I hasten to add that I believe they are in the minority. I live in a small, rural northern community, 3.5 hours drive from the nearest urban hospital. I see my family physician (in community) and my diabetes nurse at least twice a year. I receive notice of the need to get my flu shot each fall from Public Health and from my local Health Clinic. When I am not well, and believe I need to see a physician, I have always been seen in a reasonable length of time either at Emergency, or by appointment at the local Health Clinic. I have had few delays in getting appointments with specialists in what I deem reasonable time. Other than producing my current government health card and a list of current medications, I need nothing else to receive health care in Ontario.

In Canada, everyone pays into our Health Care through taxation. The pool of money, managed by Federal and Provincial Health Agencies, while not infinite is available to support the needs of the population. Money I pay is available for those in need at times when I don’t need the care. At those times when I need professional health care the funding is available to cover my needs. That we share in ensuring one another’s well-being on a national scale, speaks to our concern for one another and helps strengthen  what some like to call the Canadian identity.

So, Vice President Pence, with respect I ask, before you denigrate the Canadian model of  Universal Health care again to your citizens, I would appreciate you engaging in both sides of the Canadian picture of public universal health care instead of focusing only on the negative aspects. It is always easy to dwell on the negative!

The Sixties Scoop…
February 15, 2017

My wife and I are the parents of an adopted First Nations Child whose adoption took place within the time-frame of the legal action against the Canadian Government titled The Sixties Scoop. Details of the class action suit can be viewed here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixties_Scoop. This action, on behalf of indigenous children adopted by non-indigenous families, has been eight years in the process with the Canadian Government taking all legal actions available to avoid having this case heard. The absolute shame was the federal Government wanting to avoid the judgement to enable them to settle out of court-to set aside 8 years of process. I shake my head at our arrogance in attempting to avoid justice in this case.

Government asks judge to postpone ruling in ’60s Scoop case, outraging plaintiffs

This is a case more directly aligned with the concept of cultural genocide than about any other explanation, in my opinion. It is about the assimilation of indigenous children into the society of the day and is an off-shoot of the Residential Schools program in Canada that had it’s roots in “1860[,] Indian Affairs is transferred from the Imperial Government to the Province of Canada. This is after the Imperial Government shifts its policy from fostering the autonomy of native populations through industry to assimilating them through education. (see A timeline of Residential Schools)” In reality it began in the 1600s and the process of assimilation continued well into the late 1900s.

It saddens me that we, my wife and I,  were complicit in the continuation of this abominable program out of our ignorance as non-indigenous adoptive parents and the failure of the Canadian government and its agencies to inform us of their and our responsibilities to our child to maintain her cultural identity. The good news is we live on the doorstep of two First Nations communities, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Pic Mobert and many of our children’s classmates and friends were indigenous children. By osmosis, for want of a better term, our child spent considerable time in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg community with her best friends family. She was one of the lucky ones regularly exposed to her indigenous culture more by luck-of-the draw than by intent on our part or that of the Canadian Government.

I am overjoyed that the courts brought this case to fruition and yesterday, Valentine’s Day 2017 the “Federal government [was] found to have breached its “duty of care” by failing to protect cultural identity of indigenous children removed from their homes”. That we decided to add our voices to this cause, for justice for our adoptive child and all of the children of the Sixties Scoop, as witnesses for the plaintiff might have some small influence on this decision, helps to begin the healing process of right relations between us and our indigenous 10687098_10154816122320118_1482540786689546829_nneighbours and to apologize to our child for our ignorance.

Today, our chosen child is a strong beautiful First Nations woman who has chosen a career path to help other First Nations women of Northwestern Ontario reach their potential as healthy, proud indigenous women. As an aside, I was listening to a piece of music yesterday when a text arrived from a contact at the hearing to say the Judge ruled in favour of the Sixties scoop. The song happened to be Shed a Little Light performed by James Taylor. A prophetic moment indeed.

Help! I’m Drowning in Ads…
January 5, 2016

We went to the movies this week to see the newest release of Star Wars. As movies go it was OK but really was an old story with a new cover and enhanced graphics. I was more affected by the blatent adversiting that occupied the first 20 minutes following the start of the show.

No, I’m not referring to the usual promotional stuff about buying snacks and popcorn or the game to get me to turn off my cell phone or stuff about upcoming movies (previews). Those I expect. They are the enticements to return at some time in the future to see another thriller. I’m referring to the ads for Lexus, and Bell Canada, travel to sunnier locals and the list goes on.

Let me see; 2 seniors, 1 adult and 1 youth went to the theatre that night. With the cost of entrance and snacks we spent $90.00 (huzzah, we didn’t have to pay a babysitter). For that price we paid for the privilege of watching  20 minutes of commercials cleverly hidden amongst previews of upcomng movies prior to the main feature.

Had I wanted the commercials, I might have waited until the movie came out on DVD. Oh, wait! That dosen’t work any longer–DVDs now have advertising at the beginning.

So back to books. So far they don’t have any embedded ads…do they?

GRB

Travelling Man
January 5, 2016

It wasn’t until I glanced at to odometer on my new 2015 Ford Edge that I realized  2015 has been a travel year in my life. The car is now just 7 months old and it has already logged 31,000 Km. How can that be? And I know I traveled between January and April as well.

Suffice to say we normally average one trip a month to Thunder Bay (600 Km return) but I’m guessing between January and June the count went up. Cloud chose to finish her last semester of high school in Thunder Bay. That necessitated an occasional trip so Papa could do some special cooking just for her.

We normally average one trip a month to Thunder Bay but January to June saw that number up visiting with churches in the region that were closing or searching for a change of pastoral charge, or for Presbytery committee responsibilities or because I am a pastoral charge supervisor. Church work took us from Hornepayne on the east to Winnipeg (1968 Km round trip) in the west. I think I can name them all: Hornepayne, White River, Manitouwadge, Marathon, Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Atikokan, Fort Frances, Ignace, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, Dryden, Kenora and Winnipeg. In fact four or five trips to Winnipeg made this year almost like 2006 while I served as Conference President. Winnipeg became my second home. Like the circuit riders of another time we plied our worship services from town to town.

Sault Ste. Marie, ON (820 Km round trip) usually sees us two or three times a year. That is time to reconnect with family.  The Sault is where my sister and her family reside. We are closely bonded even though we only see one another a few times a year. This year we made that trip 4 times. Most recently it was to help the Cloud with cleaning up the insurance issues following her car being rear-ended in a traffic incident. That was the car that carried us through the first four months of 2015. It was a magnificent steed and I hoped it would serve our granddaughter at least until after graduation from college. Usually, this trip is to hunker down with Barb and Dave and her children to stay connected. But this year was different!

In March we connected with family in southern Texas instead of the Sault. A business trip with stops along the way to Winnipeg turned into a holiday to New Braunfels (7000 Km round trip). What a wonderful break in the winter. We left deep snows at home and traded winter boots for running shoes at the Manitoba, North Dakota border. Each day was a delight; drive for a few hours then stop and walk for 45 minutes until we reached our destination. I never missed a day in Texas getting my minimum 10 Km walk completed.

At the end of April we bought a new car and broke it in traveling into May and June back in Winnipeg and Thunder Bay a few times. And that was just the first half of the year

(more…)

Baffled by Social Media
December 29, 2015

I checked my Facebook page this morning as is my habit every week or so and spent more time attempting to let its creators know that they are way off the mark  meeting my interests. I live in Canada. I estimate that 90% to 95% of the stuff down the right side of my Facebook page has to do with items/issues/sports/news from the United States. Please don’t label me as anti-American because of my thoughts on this, but, most, if not all of the items I see as trending are of little or no interest to me because they are from the US. Were those same stories directly related to me as a Canadian, perhaps I might find them marginally interesting. Mostly, the stuff down the right side of my Facebook page is visual trash that I am unable to lose.

Let’s see. In that right-most column is stuff that is trending (blah!), Pages I might like to follow, People I might like to Friend, Pages I might like to Like, and Games that I might want to play. To date I have found nothing in any of those elements I care to use. The trending stories are ones that I might already run across when I choose to go and read the news on my choice of news providers. I would never choose to link to someone from the friends lists, rather, if I am looking for someone specific, I’ll take the time to search them out at a time to my choosing not because Facebook thinks I need to do it now in order to have a fulfilling life. I don’t like any pages regardless whose they are, what the contents is,  or who has created them. If ever you see my name beside a Like it is probably because I have been careless handling my mouse and has no bearing on whether or not I like what I see. I never–NEVER–play games and I think I have finally done something to block invitations to play games.  In order to be clear, let me repeat, I really NEVER play games on Facebook

Then there is all that stuff down the left-most column that has no apparent relevance to me and cannot be removed. Suffice to say, most of what I experience each time I log into Facebook is visual noise. I think I really have to give some thought to whether I need to even bother with it at all. I suspect I am one of the dinosaurs who still appreciates being in conversation with a warm body immediately adjacent to me in real-time and space that doesn’t involve a keyboard or Siri or Cortana or, …

GRB

Back to Swimming…
August 9, 2013

About mid-February I caught a cold. It wasn’t one of those stick around for a week-or-two then get back to your life type colds. This one caught and stuck and never completely let go of me until May. The most significant impact on my daily routines was that I quit swimming lunch lengths at the local swimming pool. It effectively ended my swim around Lake Superior. Sigh! And I was doing so well!

I started in September 2012, swimming between 5 and 15 Kilometres a week, starting in lake_superior_mapMarathon, ON and swimming clockwise round the lake. It is only 4,387 Km around the Lake. I was steadily swimming 3 Km a day by February. Eight hundred forty kilometres were behind me. Only 3547 Km to go!

Yesterday was my first day back at the swim. I’ve decided to start easy and stick to only 500 m a day (2.5 Km/week)  for the first week. The plan is to get back to 15 Km/week. This is really important because I have to get back into shape. Really good shape!

Cloudia Swim

She is a young woman now but has always loved being underwater.

I’ve made two promises. I promised Cloud, my granddaughter that we would finish her scuba diving training this summer. And I’ve promised another granddaughter, Happy Child, that she, too, will become a scuba diver once she turns 11. This summer is quickly flying by and the Cloud and I haven’t been in the water yet.

Practical diving in Lake Superior ends around the beginning of December. The Lake still has its accumulation of summer heat–not that there has been much in the way of heat this summer. Suffice to say, there is still time. We only need two more dives for her certification.

Happy Child

There are adventures just waiting for her.

Equally important is the promise to Happy Child. I need to stay in shape so that next summer Happy Child and I can do some diving together. She is very interested in searching for an octopus. That’s a year away and my wet suit had best be kept from shrinking over the coming winter. The suit is snug now and needs be a perfect fit by July 2014. She is counting on becoming a Junior scuba diver.

After all, A Promise is a Promise!                                 …GRB

Super Senior…
August 9, 2013

This is one of those milestone years in my life (I suppose that should read kilometrestone since I’m in Canada). I am officially into my 70th year.

My wife went to the local Recreation facility this week to buy new passes for the swimming pool and the attendant told her that I was now a “Super Senior”.

On the surface, that is a good thing, I think. I like the sound of the words “Super Senior”. At least, as it applies to me. It meant that I purchased my pass for significantly less than did my wife. She is younger than I. Her lament is that it isn’t fair that I should pay so little when I use much more water than she. It is a fact that I am larger and take up more space in the pool. And, she noted that I swim farther than does she. There must be more to it than this. I feel like I’m missing something–my own personal parking space near the entry to the pool perhaps.

Super Senior! The connotation  suggests that I can do more than the average senior. I’ve given that considerable thought. Should I now be able to leap tall footstools in a single bound–in my rush to make it to the bathroom in time? Faster than a speeding bullet! Ha! That’s after I pry myself from the confines of the napping chair. Am I now eligible for a prescription for afternoon naps? I’ll be sure to put that on my list of questions for my doctor.

I think I’ll get out the sewing machine and make myself a cape and …

GRB