Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Poolside Chats.

   I'm too old now to search  out excitement when I go on  vacation.  Instead, I like to hang around the pool, kidding myself that I'm staying fit by doing lengths in the pool and chatting with folks from various parts of the USA and Canada.  We tend to generalize when we think of folks from different regions, as though they were all the same and similar in views and aspirations.  When talking to  individuals, one is reminded that everyone is different despite what the 'Elites' suggest and that under the gentle warmth of the Florida winter sun that people tend to cast aside their natural wariness of others and talk surprisingly frankly of how they feel about things.  I think that particularly applies to more mature (of course I  mean older) folks.
   Before the present scandal affecting the Ivy League Universities in the U.S.broke, I was sitting at the edge of  the  pool chatting with a guy from Boston named Jack.  He was a little younger than me and he was whining about the  miserable winter in Boston and I was 'one-upping' him about the frigid Canadian climate.  He asked me where I was from and I, as usual was starting to  explain I was from London, Ontario, near Toronto,don't you know.
   "Yes, I know where London, Ontario is, in fact I was there once!" He said, shocking me with his knowledge of Canada.  "I went to a hockey game to see the 'London Knights'! " he added.
   We chatted for a while.  He was a nice talkative guy, like me and after a little while I  felt comfortable with springing an naive question.
   "So, what do you think of the way the President is running the country?" I asked innocently..
   He leaned over to me and dropped his voice several decibels.
   "I come from a long line of Boston Democrats," he said.  "My parents were democrats, my grand-parents were democrats and all my siblings except one brother were Democrats, he was Republican and was a bit of an outcast on that account.  Other than him, I don't think any member of this family wasn't a Democrat."
   He smiled sadly, leaned in a little closer and dropped his voice another couple of decibels.  "Stan, I probably wouldn't tell you this if you were an American, but in the last election I voted for Donald Trump!"
   I wasn't quite sure what to say, so I said "Wow!".
   I slipped back into the water and swam a couple of laps.  I put on my sunglasses and hat and lay back  on the lawn chair, next to Jack and picked up my novel.
   "By the way," said Jack, "You've got quite a clown leading  your country too!
   
   We ran into each other by the pool on several  more occasions.   In the course of our conversation it became apparent that Jack knew more about Canada than  I would  have expected.  I asked him how he came to be so much  more knowledgeable than most of his fellow Americans.  (I framed the question carefully of course).
   "My great grandmother emigrated from Ireland to escape the famine in  1848 and lived in Nova Scotia for a few years before coming to America, so  I've always been sort of interested in  Canada and have visited various parts of the country over the years."

   My last note on Jack relates to the recent University scandal.   While chatting about our respective families, Jack  mentioned he had a son who went to Harvard.  He was not bragging.
   "We were going through some difficulties at home and he wanted desperately to go to University away from home.  He applied to seventeen Universities, of which Harvard was the one he least wanted to go to .
He was rejected by all of them EXCEPT Harvard."
   Go figger!  But I did wonder how that might fit into the context of the 'Great Universities Scandal' ?  
 

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Oh for a cupful of the warm South!

"Oh for a cupful of the warm South!"

After the short flight from London, Ontario to Toronto Ontario we finally got on to WestJet Flight WSWS1172 to Fort Myers, Fla., (A Boeing 737-800 of the recent variety, by the way!). It was no easy task. Travel certainly doesn't get easier as one gets older! Just as one requires a little more comfort, travel has become increasingly uncomfortable. Until recently I drove anywhere it was possible to drive. It was great, You left when it suited you, you drove until you were tired. You had a nice meal. If you had to line up, you were sitting in the comfort of your car. You were in control. Now, at 83 I am hesitant to take transcontinental safaris as a single driver.
A couple of years ago I decided it made more sense to fly. Once upon a time, I did travel frequently by air. Even traveling economy was an event for which most folks groomed themselves meticulously. Flying, in those days, was an activity for which one dressed up not down. Before the great reversal, the rich traveled by air. The poor traveled by sea and emigrated in relative poverty, in steerage, the class below third class. Now it is the rich who dress in rags. They actually do dress up in rags, for which they willingly pay a premium to have fashionably designed 'wear and tear' inflicted on their exorbitantly priced 'rags'. If you don't believe me, check out your local airport - or shopping mall.
Fortunately, I had requested wheelchair assistance for my wife because when we landed from London Ontario at Toronto airport the distance to the international terminal was unbelievable. I am sure it was at least a mile although I have yet to confirm that. Fortunately, a golf cart type trolley was eventually available, otherwise we wouldn't have made the connection. Getting old isn't fun.
Finally, after two or three of the usual flight delay notices, we boarded Flight WS1172 about ninety minutes late. I had the Isle seat and Irene had the middle seat of a three seat row. One always hopes that the third seat will remain unoccupied. My heart sank as I saw a middle aged attractive woman with a delightful little terrier type dog in her arms marching straight towards us.. Now, I like dogs and they like me. (My last really close doggy friend was a Rottweiler, ask her!) Nevertheless, I wasn't looking forward to a three and a half hour yappy, snappy trip.
The woman edged her way along the Isle of the aircraft towards row 15. That available window seat was to be occupied by woman and dog. The dog was to be domiciled in a neat little portable cradle that its Mom could wear on her back like a backpack. Like me, Irene likes dogs, so I didn't anticipate any nightmare, and the cute little doggy was placed in its container that neatly slid under the seat in front of it. We took off only an hour and a half late.
Soon after we took off, we started chatting with the Dog's owner. Although for various reasons I usually avoid confessing that I was once a physician, somehow it slipped out that I was once in the Health Care business.
"I used to be a nurse," said the Woman.
"I used to be a Physician," I confessed.
"I am a Physician," she confessed. "After several years as a nurse I decided that I wanted to go into medicine and I graduated as a physician after being a nurse for ten years."
"So, this is your winter holiday?" I asked.
"Not exactly," said she. "My husband is in the real estate business in Florida, so we have a home there. I have a very busy practice in X" - she named a mid sized town in Ontario, not very far from Toronto.
She broke off for a moment and took a treat from her purse, fed it into the container where her little dog seemed perfectly content, gave the dog a little stroke, then returned her attention to us.
"How do you manage your practice when you are away for a week every month or so? Aren't your patients dissatisfied when they need advice or attention when you are away?" I asked.
"Oh no," she answered. "They all have my email address and if they have any problems or questions they email me and I answer their problems or refer them to emergency, if necessary. They are very satisfied with the arrangement: it seems to meet my needs and theirs."
The clatter of the refreshment cart interrupted us as they offered us peanuts or cookies to sustain us through our three and a half hour flight.
"I'd like a Chardonnay and some pretzels," said
our new friend to the attendant. "Can I offer you one?" She asked us.
Naturally I acquiesced.
The rest of the trip flew by, both literally and metaphorically.
We chatted about how she managed her very large practice while she was at home and away. We discussed modern medicine and the amazing changes both better and worse.
All the time the cute little dog was quiet and magnificently behaved. Every now and then her owner gave her a little treat and a pat on the head. So much better than having a whining kid in the next seat!
We arrived at Fort Myers, Florida near midnight, about two hours late. I went straight to the Thrifty Car rental, to pick up the mid sized car I had pre-booked and pre paid.
"Sorry, Sir, We have only mini-vans left."
I looked at the Behemoth they wanted to give me. " I can't drive this thing. I booked and paid for a compact."
"Sorry sir, we rented five hundred and seventy-eight cars today, that's all we have left. There isnt a smaller one left on the lot."
I took the keys, went over to the van and started loading up.
"You can't drive that thing!" said Irene.
"That's all they have." said I.
Irene exploded. "I'm going to talk to them!"
Well, they may have thought they hadn't a smaller car left on their lot, but by the time my wife was through with them they found a little car parked off lot, that 'they didn't think was there!' (Obviously parked just off-site in case they had a difficult customer!) So I ended up with a nice little Nissan Sentra.
It was 2 am when we pulled off the I 75 at Naples heading for our final destination.




Saturday, 9 March 2019

The New Morality.

Murdering Babies seems to be okay with many women nowadays.
When the governor of New York legalized infanticide he did inestimable damage to the United States and to the world That is toxic masculinity ! The fact that many woman, so long portrayed as the kinder nurturing sex so willingly embrace infanticide, not only of other people's children but also of their own, comes as a bit of a surprise even to this old curmudgeon who firmly believes that killing a a third trimester fetus is no different than killing a newly born baby. Indeed, there are those who believe that murdering a newly born baby is also acceptable. Women in dire straits either physically or mentally resort to whatever solutions they deem necessary in their desperation. I understand that. Women who have been careless or thoughtless or indifferent about birth control and would rather kill the baby than put up with the inconvenience of rearing it are quite another story.
The 'me' of the Metoo movement is exactly what it says. 'Me' and to hell with everyone else. Infanticide, character assassination, denial of due process are all okay with this gang. Anyone accused has to prove innocence, a contradiction of the very essence of a free society. No woman must be doubted no matter how outlandish and dubious her accusations. People who take exception to the doctrines of the 'Me' movement are obviously sexist and racist. No man can safely close the door of his office when he would be alone with a female colleague or employee because of the irremediable damage that could result.
The left claims to be seeking equality when what they really seek is special treatment for the groups they approve of. They claim to embrace diversity when what they really want is sameness and uniformity (and a little special treatment for themselves!) They want all to be equal as long as they are just a little more equal. They need that so that their elites can fly their executive jets to the meetings to change the world in the way they see fit. They need it so that they can tax creative and hardworking citizens to provide an income for those who prefer not to work at all.
The new crop of left wing loonies reared in the permissive age of no consequence for anything, are fomenting hatred and racism and incubating a batch of politicians who's rabble rousing may well result in consequences they cannot imagine. The folks whose hard work and creativity gave us the prosperous world we enjoy today are growing disenchanted. The lines are being drawn in the sand. Let's hope it will not take a civil war to sort things out.  

Meanwhile, the decline continues.
   

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Things ain't what they used to be.

   I think I am one of the few remaining Canadians who emigrated to Canada by Ocean Liner, because it was the only way I could afford  to come here and that was the way the poor folk traveled, unless you were rich enough to travel first class and I wasn't.  The rich folk crossed the Atlantic, in those days, traveling First Class, something barely imaginable to me.  Third class seemed like heaven, so how could First Class be any better?   It was like a pleasure cruise and we ate and drank and relaxed and rested  after the exhausting experience of winding up my job and our home in the old country..  Anyway, when we arrived in St..John,  New Brunswick, with our two large trunks and many large wooden tea-boxes full of our lives valuables, the most notable scenario was as follows.
  Customs and excise officer:  (to me, my wife and two year old daughter) "And what have we got here in all these boxes?"
   I probably felt more guilty than a present day immigrant would feel if he had ten kilos of heroin stashed away.   
   "Just personal and family possession, sir," I answered, apprehensively.
   "I'm afraid I'm going to have to open the nailed on lids of these boxes to examine the contents." he said.
   "Okay," what else could I say?
   He started prying off the lid of the first container.
   "What's all this stuff?" he asked in amazement, holding a dozen or more wooden and wire coat hangers in his hand.  "What are these for?
   "They are just hangers, I thought we would need them."
   He was hammering the crowbar under the next lid and prying it open.
   "What's all this?" he said groping around the box of family photographs, cheap prints and other such memorabilia.
    "Just family photos and some pictures." I said.
     He grinned, " I think that's enough.  Never saw so much worth so little.  Welcome to Canada.  Train for Montreal is over there," he pointed, as he nailed the lids back  on the wooden boxes that contained our treasures.

    We boarded the train for Montreal.  My wife had an older sister who had been living in New York/New Jersey for several years.  She had taken the two of the three younger sisters to live with her, when their father died.  The one next to her was already engaged to me, so she stayed behind.   Jo had some friends from her youth in Dublin who invited us all to stay with them for the couple of days layover, before Irene and I traveled on to Regina, Saskatchewan.  I remember it well, because we had forty dollars and a little girl and not much else, apart from a job at the Medical Arts Clinic in Regina and an assurance from them that they would advance me enough money to live on until I earned enough to be self-supporting.
    I've written about our January 23rd arrival in Regina at 4 a.m. and -40 F elsewhere and some of our earliest impressions, including our breakfast welcome at a Chinese convenience store on South Raiway, which then was 'Hooker Row'.  (Nowadays, it boasts a classy Casino, that would do the Strip in Vegas proud!)
   In those days, a pack of twenty -five cigarettes cost 44c and a gallon (Canadian) of gas also cost 44c.   My massive green Chevvy Biscayne with 28,000miles cost $1800 and was without power brakes or power steering and didn't even have a radio.  I wasn't even aware of  such luxuries as power steering or brakes and thought driving a big eight cylinder car was supposed to feel like driving a garbage truck.  I heard President Kennedy's assassination from the tiny portable radio that was perpetually sliding across my dash, depending on which direction I was turning.  I had to  pull over, grab it and hold it to my ear,(while lighting a cigarette), to make sure I had heard it right!
   
   I used  to go for lunch to the Greek owned  'La Salle' Restaurant on Hamilton St. where many of the noted Docs went for lunch.  I remember urologist "Staffy' Barootes and his partners frequently lunched and discussed politics there.  We used to call his group the 'Greek Mafia'.  Nobody took offense.   'Staffy', whose real name was Estafios (I believe) was the supreme promoter of the Conservative Party in those NDP dictated days in Saskatchewan.  He was an eloquent man, small and neat, with black slick well-oiled hair who looked like the actor George Raft, of movie gangster fame. He worked incessantly for the party and was eventually rewarded for his effort with a seat in the Canadian Senate. 
   We used to have a fine lunch at the La Salle, where even a neophyte like myself could well afford the bill.  I remember a well-filled single deck Club House sandwich was 75c, the double decker was $1.25!  They came with fries, of course!  The bottomless cup of coffee was 10c as it still was when  I left Regina almost fifteen years later!    
   Medicare had just come  to Saskatchewan and many well-established physicians had left the Province because they weren't going to practice 'Government Medicine'.  The 'Doctor's Strike' had been settled less than a year with the 'Saskatoon Agreement'.  (I was quickly informed that it wasn't a 'Strike' and I shouldn't call it that! - What did I know!).  The Government set about establishing 'Community Clinics' with very modest success at the time.  The Medical  Arts Clinic, which I had joined had lost several doctors and recruited successfully in Britain and  Ireland.  We became busy very quickly and made friends very quickly with other ex-patriots.  Early on there was great animosity between the general  physician community and the 'Community Clinic' physicians, but most people can't carry on  a grudge forever and with the passage of time an uneasy peace developed.  By the time the next generation of physicians fell into place the whole evolution of health care was so 'governmentalized' that independent thinkers were discouraged  from  clinical practice and the admission requirements for medical school are engineered to produce physicians who see eye to eye with and tug their forelock to government.
   The Saskatoon Agreement ending the Strike was signed on July 23rd 1962.  
   Anyone interested will find the details well documented.
  

 
   
  

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Consequences, consequences, consequences!

   Everything we do eventually has consequences and it is a sad fact that the pathetic generation of Canadian snowflakes who make up the majority of the young adult population just don't understand that.  Every now and then they get a rude awakening.  Sometimes it costs a life.
   Schellenberg is just such a case.  The Chinese take drug abuse seriously and take drug trafficking very seriously.  The penalties imposed are severe, very severe by our standards.   Perhaps the attention they give to enforcing the law is one of the reasons they are in the ascendancy, while we in the west are in decline. To the snowflake generation, most of whom never experienced a disciplinary tap on the ass or any other discipline in their formative years when they deserved it, it is incomprehensible and unbelievable.  Schellenberg, an incorrigible drug dealing criminal received a stiff sentence for his considerable crimes and a stiff sentence he deserved, although he obviously thought otherwise.   So he appealed.  He appealed at the wrong time  The risk of any appeal is that while the process may result in the amelioration of the sentence, it may result in a harsher sentence than the original.  Schellenberg's appeal came at the worst possible time.  The political climate between China and Canada has never been so disastrous.  When our inept Prime Minister and his equally inept Foreign Minister tried to shame China into behaving in the manner that they thought appropriate they made things immeasurably worse.  Instead of resorting to quiet diplomacy, which might have worked, the Man-child could not resist the urge to strut onto the international stage and round up all our allies to teach China a lesson.   What a pathetic fool!
   I don't want to see Schellenberg executed.  Neither do I want to see him get away with a tap on the wrist, which is the way we do things in Canada nowadays.   That is also part of the reason that this once remarkable country is in an accelerating decline!

Share your view if you think this matters.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Le Monde de La Piscine!

    She was there in the pool at the 'Y' every morning, An 'older' woman, well into her seventies, swimming a nice overhand crawl energetically completing lengths. She had already been there a couple of hours when I schlepped in.
   "Hi Stan", she called, "come and share my lane!"
    Although it was a public pool, the serious swimmers guarded their territory jealously. If it was at all possible, they liked to have their very own lane. It usually was not, so they had to settle for a lane that had as few others as possible.  The splashers and thrashers were particularly to be avoided.
    Despite having been there for quite a while, Jane showed no sign of quitting. As we swam in clockwise formation so swimmers would not collide with each other I was often behind Jane and she would chat. Long ago I had learned that she was from Amsterdam, born during WW2, grew up with all the rationing and restrictions that were the aftermath of the war, had married a Dutch Canadian who had joined the armed forces as a very young man. He was back in Amsterdam, visiting his family, when she met him, married him and came to Canada as a new wife. She was very young, spoke no English and it was not long before she learned that her new husband was an irresponsible womanizer and spendthrift.
    "Just buy anything you want," he would say to her. "You never have to pay for anything here in Canada. You just send them a few dollars every month and they don't bother you!"
    It was not very long before the bailiffs arrived on the scene, repossessing everything she thought she owned.
    "I still didn't speak English, though I started buying children's books and reading them every day. I did make a friend and she helped me with my English and with everything else. My husband was out every night, chasing every woman he met." she said, "I knew I would have to leave him, but I had no money, not much English and nowhere to live."
    Her friend cleaned houses to make some money and suggested that she and Jane might work together and make enough money for Jane to rent a room and get away from her husband. They did this and it worked so well that they incorporated and formed a company. She made no fortune, but she made enough to live on and in the course of her work, some twenty years ago, she met her husband, a builder and they lived happily ever after, until he was stricken with a cognitive disorder that is almost certainly Alzheimer's disease.
    Jane had a wealth of stories from the Amsterdam of the late forties and the early fifties. Her mother had taken off with her boyfriend when Jane and her sister were in their early teens. Jane wasn't surprised because when the boyfriend came she and her sister were dispatched off to 'play'.
    "If you ever tell your father about this, I'll kill you!" she and her sister were told. They remained silent.
When the mother finally left, her father, not the kindliest of characters, did not take it well. She recalls him sharpening his knife and saying that he was going to kill the son of a bitch! The teen aged Jane stayed on as cook and house cleaner for her father until she was old enough to move out. Life was not all disastrous and she would occasionally relate adventures that she and her friends had in post war Amsterdam. Some of her stories merited documentation and publication.
Said I. "You should write a book about it !"
Said she, " I wish my English was good enough. I learned nearly all I know from children's books!"
"Maybe that's all you need!" said I.

      She was a very upbeat woman with a great sense of humour with a great talent for telling a story. She was there in the pool every morning when I arrived there. She got down to more serious swimming when I left.
"How long have you been here ? How many hours do you put in here every day, Jane?" I asked her, one morning.
" Oh, three or four," she said.
" Wow !", said I. "That's quite a commitment!"
"I need it for my mental health, just as much as for my physical well-being."
"Oh, how's that?" I asked.
"I think my husband has mental problems," she said.
She knew I was a physician - everyone knew I was a physician, no matter how hard I tried to conceal the fact. My late great friend John Dell  took enormous pleasure in revealing my cover.
"Why do you think that?" I asked.
"He was a builder and a very organized man. Everything was in its place and he used to criticize me for not always knowing where something was.  He used to calculate stuff quickly and easily, all in his head when he was building and had a memory like an elephant.  Then a couple of years ago, he seemed to be getting a little forgetful and not able to remember what he did with things.  Worse, he would tell me a story, then five minutes later he would repeat it and again and again.  Now he doesn't remember things I told him that morning.  This has been getting worse in the last few months."
"What did the doctor say?" I asked.
"He hasn't been assessed yet." She said. "I went with him on his last appointment and told him I was going in to the office with him, which he wasn't very happy about, but I did anyway."
"And what happened?" I asked.
"The doctor said he should have a memory test and told him to make an appointment for it."
"And?"
  He never did it. "They just want to take my driving license away!"
  "You ought to do it as soon as possible," I said.
We were at the end of the swimming lane. She stopped.
   "We can't have him lose his driving license right now," She said. "We live out in the country and I am having knee replacement surgery right before Christmas and have to have physio after - I can't have him lose his license right now."
" There must be some way to assure your transportation"  I said. "I'll see you Monday, we'll explore it further ."
    It is well into January and I haven't seen Jane at the pool since her operation. I hope she is doing well. I can't even phone her because I don't know her surname, but I will be watching out for her!



Friday, 4 January 2019

Doctors Flogging Drugs.

     When I crawl out of bed and grab the morning National Post, in the stuporose condition in which I exist until approximately noon, I don't expect one of the leader articles to be about doctors who own shares in companies producing 'medical marijuana', prescribing their product to their patients!.  I am not talking about the very small number of patients who actually benefit from that treatment.
     Where, I ask myself, is that austere, caring organization, known as the College of Physicians and Surgeons?  An organization that was formed to protect patients and physicians, from abuses on both sides?   How can they support clinics that have a financial interest in prescribing cannabis (and what else?) to their patients.  A direct relationship between clinics and the manufacturer of the drugs that they prescribe, would have been deemed a totally unacceptable relationship between physicians and the patients that they supposedly serve.  In my day, this would clearly be a breech that would result in  the physician being penalized n a major way.  And deservedly so.  
    I am greatly ashamed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, who bow their head and tug their forelock to the present vote grabbing government of Canada, and are prepared to alter their ethical standards as dictated by politics and by the 'mob'.  The folks know when  they need their pot and who the  hell are physicians to deprive them of it when they know exactly what they need.  After all, when dealing in  marijuana, 'Big Pharma - MARIJUANA' really knows what's best and is looking out for the people.  Close to a dozen companies across the country have combined pot producing operations and marijuana treatment clinics.   
   Some physicians, are making a fortune (perhaps 'killing' might be a better word).  The College, instead of trying to  perform their duty, trembles, weak-kneed, and is terrified of the consequences of insisting on the ethical standards it was founded to support.   Funny, because when I retired from practice only a few years ago, The College, was becoming manic about how 20c pens distributed by drug companies was seducing doctors into prescribing un-needed drugs!  
   Instead of currying political favour, its time for the College to commit to maintaining ethical standards, as they once did.
    Until my profession forces that option upon them, they may as well resolve themselves to remain the  second level civil servants that they already have sadly become. 
    I'm glad I am no longer a doctor although some of the finest people I have ever known proudly served the profession.
    The decline continues.