Head Lines

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

“Back in the day,” there was an expression that was sometimes directed toward children: “Don’t speak unless you are spoken to.”

My parents, when I was a kid, rarely used that expression with me and my sister except under one set of circumstances: crossing the U.S. border when we used to drive south over the March Break. My parents’ fear, to be frank, was that I would chose the opportunity to try to be funny. For example, if the border patrol officer asked if we had something to declare, I might take the opportunity to declare: “Yes! My sister is a meanie.” Or, declare my favourite hockey team.

At school, in class, we were also always told to raise our hand if we had something to say. It is curious to consider how things have changed and, particularly, the impact of online learning that offers students their very own button with which they can mute or unmute themselves.

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Thursday, January 21, 2021

There were dozens of curious facts and scientific phenomena that I simply could not comprehend as a young kid. I had lots of questions:

  • If you jump in a moving airplane travelling at 600 km/h, why aren’t you slammed into the back of the plane?
  • How is it possible that “days get longer”?
  • How can your voice travel so quickly when you talk to someone on the phone; particularly, when the person you are talking to lives halfway across the world?
  • Why don’t massive, heavy ships and boats sink?
  • If the human eye can only see so far, then how can we see the sun and the stars?
  • If we live on a circular globe of a planet, and we live on the top half, how can people in the southern hemisphere live upside down?

Clearly, science was not going to play a part in my future employment prospects. And, it didn’t.

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

One of my all-time favourite games to play since I was a teenager is “Name That Tune.” I am aware that there was a game show by that title, but for me, it was, and is, “game time” anytime, and all the time! In a restaurant, in a car, an elevator, a store, on television, but most often when I hear songs on the radio. My goal is to name the song and the artist before you do. Even if you are unaware that “we” are playing, I will just blurt out the answer – and it doesn’t particularly matter if you are keen on the game or not. My kids are fed up with me.

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Thursday, January 07, 2021

Typically, most New Year's resolutions focus on four "Fs”: food, fitness, finances, fun. The emphasis is on self and better managing consumption, working out more, making or saving more money, and planning for the next vacation. Understandable, laudable, predictable. And, for the year 2021, for the most part, likely unrealistic.

How about switching things up this year?

One of my favourite responses, when asking friends to share their New Year's Eve resolution, was from a friend several years ago. Her resolution was "to not be angry anymore.” When I asked her how she intended to accomplish this, she confidently said, “I just decided. I am tired of being angry and I am in control of my emotions.” I recently checked in with her; she remained true to her conviction that she declared many years ago. Now, that’s impressive.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

There is a lot of talk about putting the year 2020 behind us. And, lamenting a restrictive and less festive upcoming holiday season.

Let’s not go there, please.

As we prepare for the holiday, there was, and is, a lot to be grateful for in 2020 and for the future.

Of course, this festive season will necessarily require us to wash our hands. We will still need to wear masks. We will not be able to gather with all of our family members; and, we will not be meeting with all our friends whenever and wherever we want.

But, let's stop and think about this. We have water to wash our hands. We have masks to wear. We have people in our lives that we can call “family and friends.”

Millions will be without water, masks and the basic necessities of life; millions more will have recently lost a family member or close friend this past year.

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Thursday, December 10, 2020

I try to limit my television news consumption to about 30 minutes a day. And, I try to read the newspaper for about 30 minutes a day. It appears that a global pandemic has provided a further opportunity for writers, politicians, commentators, interviewers, interviewees, and many of us, to start pointing at who is to blame and who is making things worse. From what I have observed, finger-pointing is at an all-time high.

Fingers aimed and assigning responsibility for the spread of the pandemic, delayed access to a vaccine and the perceived lack of a plan to distribute a vaccine, are pointed up at provincial and national leaders; fingers point right and left at neighbours and “other families” who are seemingly not respecting physical distancing protocols.

Most recently, some adults seem to be pointing down at young people as the primary source of our current and future pandemic “waves.”

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Thursday, December 03, 2020

It appears that an increasing number of people are enduring significantly less sleep during the pandemic. Now, I have never been a great sleeper (unless you put on a movie at 9:00 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday night), but it appears that many of you, too, are suffering disruption to your circadian rhythms. You might take a read of the recent opinion piece in the Globe and Mail by Elizabeth Renzetti titled, “Night of the insomniacs: How COVID has turned us into a country of non-sleepers” (November 28, 2020).

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Thursday, November 26, 2020

A school’s academic year has a clear start and finish: an opening day and a closing day. Generally speaking, when your child was born, you planned for the stretch of their school career, from the day when they would start kindergarten through to their graduation at the end of Grade 12. As parents, this aided in preparing for all sorts of things that range from accumulating savings for university to anticipating the various stages of your child’s development needs.

Thank goodness, however, some things are not predictable.

From my perspective, sometimes knowing when something starts and finishes is a good thing, and sometimes it's better to not know. Or, in some cases I would like to be a giraffe seeing what is approaching from afar; at other times, I am content being an ostrich with my head in the sand. It depends on the situation.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

On the wall in my kitchen I have taped up two expressions, handwritten on two small pieces of paper. I am not the author; they are not exact reproductions, but close facsimiles of the original quotes.

The first quote is: “Doing everything I didn’t want to do got me where I am today.”

I love this sentiment because it implies that success or happiness is not an easy path. In short, in order to achieve fulfillment, you will have to do things that you do not want to. In fact, doing things you don’t want to do is necessary.

The second expression taped on my wall is: “For every bird, God gives a worm. But he/she doesn’t throw it in the nest."

Like the first taped words, this phrase is clear that opportunity awaits, but you have to seek it out. Work for it. Nobody is going to hand it to you.

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Thursday, November 12, 2020

In my blog post last week, I stated that to “live a healthy and purposeful life” would be my hope for all people. I should have included another adjective: long. I wish all people to live long, healthy and purposeful lives.

Of the Canadian soldiers who enlisted in World War I, the average age was approximately 26 years. The average age of soldiers who enlisted in World War II was roughly the same. That means, when considering both wars, that approximately half of all soldiers were between the ages of 18 and 25. And, it is a well known fact that many soldiers lied about their age in their attempt to enlist, with some later found to be as young as 13 years old.

Some historians claim that in WWI alone, Canadian Forces included more than 20,000 minors. Of those under the age of 18, it is reported that approximately 2,000 died in the theatre of war.

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