Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

It’s 7:15 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. We’ve just finished a sustaining breakfast of fresh orange wedges, cheddar cheese squares, fried eggs, smoked salmon and English muffins with butter, peanut butter and honey. The screened balcony door is open, allowing the spellbinding sound of the Atlantic waves to penetrate the villa. The sun is just beginning to rise and, judging by the pink and blue permutations on the horizon, it will be another stunning day. There is an expected high today of 68˚F which for Hilton Head Island at this time of year isn’t bad at all.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vacation Thoughts

About fifteen years ago, to the disappointment of my mother and the devastation of the family tenets she holds dear, we inaugurated the habit of taking a vacation over the Christmas holidays. Comparatively speaking during that period of time at my office there is normally little to do anyway. It’s a commercial convenience, nothing more.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day on Hilton Head Island

Because I was so lacking in absorption at the office, we left Canada for our winter vacation in South Carolina on Wednesday, December 21st a day earlier than planned. It was with a degree of hesitancy that we pointed the nose of the Lincoln southward as there was freezing rain which however thankfully dissipated as we gingerly moved out of the Ottawa Valley.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Conundrum at the North Pole

The elves were having an awful time of it! The conveyor belt upon which rode the Teddy bears, model cars, train sets, smart phones, dolls, doll houses and wind-up toys had jammed no less than three times already this morning, and it was only ten o’clock! Now it had jammed again. This, of all things, at the busiest time of the year! There remained only days before Christmas Eve, even fewer because they couldn’t really count Christmas Eve itself. Everything had to be packed and onto Santa’s shiny crimson sleigh no later than noon on Christmas Eve if he were to make his worldwide rounds in time. To complicate matters further, Santa had lately put on a bit of weight which was having the disadvantage of stealing precious moments in his descent down the chimneys (except of course those in which slick metal liners had been installed although they sometimes propelled Santa with near disastrous results).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Last Weekend before Christmas

Today is Sunday, December 18th. Christmas Eve is next Saturday. Whenever Christmas Eve falls upon a Saturday, the rush towards Christmas is never more apparent than on the previous weekend, as indeed it was this weekend. The escalating panic arises not only from the perceived need to complete Christmas shopping on the last weekend before the affair, but also from the scheduled social engagements which flourish at the same time. Everyone is seemingly possessed to complete a wide range of commitments before Christmas Eve, after which it is imagined that the world will come to a complete halt or at the very least that all profitable endeavours will be set aside for no less than a week until after the passage of the New Year. The atmosphere is universally excited, and while most complain about the fact, no one really minds having to endure the buzz of it. The air is made all the more absorbing by the never-ending plans for family gatherings some of which involve extensive travel. Whatever the reason, there is unquestionably a serious drag upon one’s time and every minute of possible relaxation is expended by one preoccupation or another.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Day at the Heart Institute

For those of you who haven't got to know the inside of a hospital other than as a visitor, let me assure you they are no place for pretense.

Today for example I revisited the Ottawa University Heart Institute at 40 Ruskin Street in Ottawa. I say "revisited" because it was there that I had open-heart surgery rather unexpectedly on Friday the 13th of July four years ago. At that particular time, I wasn't exactly tuned into my surroundings (I was heavily sedated both before and after the surgery), and frankly, given the condition I was in, I could have cared less about my surroundings. But today I was returning for a "follow-up" diagnostic, albeit far overdue (they said it was the fault of my referring physican, who in turn blamed the Institute for having let me fall through the cracks). From my point of view, I was just as happy to have foregone the privilege of returning to the Institute, part of my developing abhorrence of hospitals generally. During the past four years I spent the first year draining the narcotics from my system, and the next three accepting that I was damaged goods. I did not, however, insist upon a further examination by the Heart Institute, a procedure I rather suspect is more to fulfill their own curiosity about the success of their operation than to know the condition of my own well-being, but I'll drop that as I know it makes me sound jaundiced.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Case for Private Medicine

Everyone has heard of the long wait-time for certain medical procedures. Likewise we've also heard of "private" clinics available on demand to perform many of the same services for a price. My latest encounter with the current "provincial" medical system has highlighted the differences though oddly not related to cost or wait-time. There appears to be a widening rift between the "provincial" medical professionals and the "public" they work for, even bordering on disdain by the physicians for the public.  Loud and clear I have discovered that doctors are rapidly joining the ranks of those who are acutely aware of their prescribed duties and entitlements, primary facts which regularly trump pride in the work they perform. The physicians have - no doubt unwittingly - boxed themselves into the same corner one might find a wary and angry dog.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Easy if you know what you're doing...

Since last September I have purchased several new things which generally belong to the category of technological devices; viz., an Amazon Kindle (for downloading and reading books electronically), an Apple iPhone 4S (a hand-held computer) and - as recently as today - an HP "All-in-One" desktop computer. The last of these devices is probably the least interesting of the three, except cosmetically, because it really does little more than the former monitor and tower did. The attraction of the All-in-One is that it eliminates the multitude of wires which plague the traditional computer. The new one has a wire from the keyboard to the screen/computer; a wire from the mouse to the screen/monitor; and the connection from the screen/monitor to the power bar. Now that the former machine is gone I can't for the life of me recall why there were so many other wires. The fact that the tower has disappeared does of course go a long way towards cleaning up my study, which has now a slightly more spacious air to it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tarnished Silver

Even at eight o’clock this morning (which is about two hours later than I normally turn out) I wasn’t in any rush to get out of bed, especially as I hadn’t got myself into bed until after one o’clock this morning. Last night, after puttering on my laptop computer and iPhone, I ended by watching a movie starring Peter Dinklage, something with a railway theme. I was more intrigued to see his performance as a result of his good showing in the British make of “Death at a Funeral”, but this particular film last evening was less than action-packed. I repeatedly found myself fading into sleep so I cut the power at last and went to bed.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mulling Things Over

I had a Board meeting at seven-thirty this morning on Mill Street in the historic grey stone building which was the former offices of the Public Utilities Commission, once the throne of the General Manager, Brian J. Gallagher after whom the new $19M generating station is so deservedly named. I turned out precisely at 5:30 a.m. to prepare myself. Downstairs my new iPhone 4S was simultaneously sounding its alarm, producing the mock chime of Big Ben. Glancing out the upstairs windows, I was glad to see that it was raining. This meant I needn’t have any regret about not going for an improving bicycle ride (which in any event I couldn’t have done because my Electra bike, along with three others of various makes, is presently being overhauled at Almonte Bicycle Works).