What An End To The Year

December 31, 2010

The day after I got back from hospital, my computer hard drive decided it just couldn’t go on.  Without warning it turned turtle and scuttled away into oblivion.  VCV Computer on Commercial is probably the best repair shop in the city but even they have to take Christmas off!   So it is only today that I have the machine back with a brand new — and empty — hard drive.

I have spent much of this NYE re-establishing contact with the system.  Luckily all my truly important files — the books I am writing, my photographs and art work — are on an external drive;  but I have lost years and years of email history and my carefully constructed and indexed thousands of Firefox bookmarks.  Oh well; as the headline on this blog says “the most important post-modern expression is the ability to just start again.”

Firefox, Skype and my second monitor are all working well, and I have an old version of WORD that should see me through. Losing my apps means I have to track down online or otherwise free versions of Excel, Powerpoint and Photoshop.  Now, if I could just get contact with my web cam and the external drive, I’d be in great shape.

Many cultures believe it is good to start clean and renewed for the new year.  With what the hospital and the computer have done to me this past fortnight, I should be in great shape for 2011.  Happy New Year!


December 24, 2010

Teepee” (2008), acrylics on canvas, 16″ x 20″, in private collection.

Where Is Christmas?

December 24, 2010

One of the “pleasures” of being in St Paul’s Hospital over this past week was being on the 10th floor with one of the very best southward looking views over Vancouver. English Bay is laid out on the right and Burrard Bridge straight ahead. Almost without obstruction one can see a wide swathe of the West End and, across False Creek, all of Kitsilano and Point Grey all the way to the 37th Avenue ridge. A magnificent view.

However, looking out on the evening of December 22nd, across that immense section of Vancouver, you could not possibly tell it was Christmastime. Apart from one solitary balcony on a West End high rise, I could not see a single decoration or light or Christmas tree. I’m not upset by that — Christmas these days is nothing but commercial nonsense after all — but I sure was surprised at the absolute lack of signs.

Local TV stations seem to spend an inordinate amount of time showing off massive house decorations of dubious value, so I guess the decorating thing is alive and well in the suburbs. But not here in the big city.

Thanks For BC’s Great Health Care

December 23, 2010

For a guy with COPD like me, winter can be like crossing a frozen lake; most of the time it is perfectly OK, but sometimes thin ice in the shape of heavy cold can send you plunging into the depths.  So it was this last weekend as a cold developed into a chest infection and I was suddenly in serious trouble.

I spent the last four nights in St Paul’s Hospital — and I have the bruises and puncture wounds all over my hands and arms to prove it!

Now, I don’t tell you this to garner sympathy — although get well cards including suitable financial tokens would of course be welcomed.  No, I write this as an excuse to once again praise the extraordinarily fine medical system we have in Vancouver.

My wife called 911 at about 3:30am and within five minutes we had half a dozen eager and thoroughly professional responders in the house, along with enough equipment to support a man on the moon.  They did everything possible to make me comfortable, keep me and my wife calm, and deal with all the consequences of restricted breathing.  They were all magnificent.

With 30 minutes I was downtown in St Paul’s trauma unit and in the hands of an equally proficient and pleasant suite of emergency doctors, nurses and technicians.  Once again they did all they could to stabilize and improve my medical condition; and, like the EMS folks before them, answered every question clearly and immediately.  It is this interaction with patients on a human level — and which continued throughout my stay on the ward — that I really appreciate.  It is so widespread throughout the Vancouver hospital system that it must be an integral part of their training — and it is wonderful.

This emergency is the first I have suffered since 2004, but in the early years of the decade I was in and out of St Paul’s and VGH on an annual basis with pneumonia and other COPD-related complications.  On each occasion I got the same incredible treatment as I did this week.  I hear so many complaints about Canada’s and BC’s medical system that I just have to shake my head in disbelief about what people must expect.  I simply cannot believe that I am the randomly fortunate one.

I’ve said it before and I’ll happily keep saying it — the BC medical system as represented by our Emergency Services and our major hospitals in Vancouver is world class and I am proud to say it is ours.

Light At The End Of The Path

December 17, 2010

Light At The End Of The Path” in Sun Yat Sen Gardens, Vancouver

We Should All Be Wikileaks

December 14, 2010

No Time, No Time!

December 13, 2010

It seems to have been an age since I blogged here.

I have been gearing up the research schedule for my next book and I just don’t seem to get time or energy to post here so often. There is so much interesting stuff going on (BC politics, wikileaks etc) that I know I am missing the chance to have my say on important happenings, and I have to make a better effort.

However, having gotten back to it, I am reminded just how much I enjoy the research part of writing history books; every day I am surprised by new revelations, new insights.  I am also reminded how helpful and courteous the folks in the Special Collections Department of the main library are — it is a welcoming environment for researchers.

Back soon, I hope!