Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Healthy Society

Could you run a government with the underlying framework of a healthy society?  This is the aim of Ryan Meili which he outlines in some detail and filled with wonderful vision and ideas in his book, A Healthy Society.  Meili proposes that the Province of Saskatchewan could once again be a national leader in health services and that politicians could use healthy society as a goal making policy that works towards this seemingly simple idea, a healthy society.  When you think about it, it kind of makes sense why not make a healthy society our number one goal...  Meili provides documented proof on the cost of the growing inequality between rich and poor and what this costs both the rich and the poor in terms of health.  In countries with a smaller gap between rich and poor, the rich are healthier than in countries with a larger gap, so although income is the number one indicator of whether or not someone will be healthy the income gap also seems to be important.  

Meili identifies income as the single most important indicator of health.  Will you be healthy?  If you have a good income...  Mieli offers many idea's, and possible solutions to work towards both a healthier society and reducing the gap between rich and poor in society and Saskatchewan.  In order of impact on individual health Meili states 1. Income 2. education 3. social support networks 4. employment and working conditions 5. early childhood development 6. physical environment 7. personal health practices and coping skills  8. biological and genetic factors 9. health services 10. gender 11. culture 12. mass media technology.  Mieli argues we are only as strong as our weakest link and that in order to truly live in a healthy society we need to focus efforts on those in the most need.  This thinking however is not politically popular and it really doesn't win votes.  I agree with him wholeheartedly, however even when chatting with friends on the left side of the spectrum they are still quite interested in their own personal plights, their immediate families and typically if they are voting they are voting for those politicians with their best interests in mind... so how to win votes if you actually genuinely care about those at the bottom of the pyramid in terms of education, income, and health and if you believe and some research suggests that this strategy actually is effective for making everyone healthier in society.  Malcolm Gladwell while reviewing expenses for medical treatment in California found certain individuals could cost the system one million dollars annually in trips to the emergency department.  Imprisonment costs society between 100 and 150 thousand dollars annually per person, and being in jail increases the likelihood of being in jail again in the future, in a cruel and unforgiving sort of way, the system is not rehabilitative...

One of my favourite definitions from the book was Miele simply explaining the difference between the left and the right.  The right believes in looking out for number one and the left believes that we are all in this together.  I hope that someday all in this together will include a voice for the Lorax as well, someone who speaks for the trees...  Another of my favourite parts was when Miele speaks with his patients in the core neighbourhoods of Saskatoon about rent, and housing and the economic boom in Saskatoon and while the boom has been great for many, he states that the smallest boats often sink when the tide comes in too quickly.  The boom is swamping those on the edge in Saskatchewan, if you were struggling to make rent and rent doubled well then where are you at now???

Some reading recommendations from Miele include: The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better.

The book is full of compassionate stories from someone who I believe really does care, is not corrupted by politics or beuracracy, who truly cares in a healthier Saskatchewan for everyone, I am sure my words do not even begin to do the book justice, it is a short read and I encourage you to give it go, thanks for sharing your stories Ryan and best of luck, you have my support :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Moving On pt 2

Chains on a westy, no heater, radio, lights from Golden to Vancouver, a non operational charging system, new spark plugs and distributor, multiple boosts, skiing opening day at Sunshine in bitter cold conditions with over 100 cm of fresh snow, a blizzard in Calgary, a blizzard in Kamloops (i didn't know they got blizzrds in Kamloops, one foot over night while I slept in a dead van at Canadian tire), trickle charging at every stop (thanks to everyone who let me do this), friends in Revelstoke, getting stoked on mountain bikes in the heart of stoke Revelstoke, best pho in Calgary, dead on the side of the road (only once), too many egg mcmuffins, 2400km ish, a seized shock on the mountain bike, one near mis s with a deer but somehow something shuffled out of place in the back of the van at just the right instant causing me to slow down and avoid the beautiful deer, basically pushed the van into the parkade from the edge of Vancouver...  oh and one kite attempt in 40 fresh cm of pow in a white out in Calgary gone awry because of a forgotten harness in Regina and a broken harness in the van, fix your stuff seemed to be a constant theme, getting settled in Kits, work starts tomorrow, pre reading about renewable energy for residential!!  Thanks to everyone who helped out along the way :).  curtis 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Moving On

The hardest thing I ever did... Why has it been so difficult to say goodbye to the people and place I have come to know as home over the past 30 years?  I don't even have what it takes to properly reflect and write this blog because it makes me sad, an emotion that doesn't seem to lend itself to writing more about what is making you sad... and I have been avoiding finding the headspace and time to put finger to keyboard, so I apologize as this is not polished and does not even flow, I will try and come back to it in the future.

Thank you to everyone for all the memories, particularly the kiteboarding clan, family, friends, friendly squashers, a decade of badminton followed by a decade of squash and kiteboarding :), six years of professional work experience and admittedly some frustrations along the way, uncountable parties and adventures via bike, van, camp, longboard, skis, boards, motorhomes...  I really do love Regina..., what is the value of running into a familiar face on the street and just saying hello or catching up briefly before continuing with your day?  How can you put a value on that?  Social fabric, familiarity and family.  I read and now you can also watch a great TED talk by Dan Buettner on the people who live the longest in the world and the most important lessons Buettner learned were that living close to family, and maintaining an active social life were two of the secrets to a long and healthy life, , based on this work I guess I will have to consume more wine :), find purpose beyond kiteboarding, hoping Lighthouse (new job) will contribute to that and it sounds like they will, play more squash and as Murray and Ian say expand the tribe.

Coping with the big city: a guide for small town kids.  A friend who is also considering Vancouver suggested we write a book, definitely an idea, how to cope with the big city from a small town perspective, while Regina is not really a small town, it still most of the time feels like it, with a 6 minute bike ride to work and 10 to 15 minutes to be anywhere in the city, including kiteboarding in the winter.

Thanks to Russell for the wonderful feedback on my last day of work that really meant a lot to me and to everyone who has made an effort to say hello, share a drink or a meal during what Koyler is calling the 'going away tour', it has been a great one :)!

Without a doubt I am going to miss Regina, family suppers on Sundays and really on any day that I wanted, also the plethora of vegetables in the garden, scrabble games, yoga, and mainly all the friendly faces.

I have heard it is good to do things out of your comfort zone, this move is certainly out of my comfort zone, while I did live in Calgary for eight months and it was an incredible experience, one that actually did change my life (meeting Roger and Janice), learning about mountain biking and tandem bikes, two things that would inexplicably change my life (for the better), having now spent a decade mountain biking and four months at 21 years old? tandem bicycling nearly 10,000 km across canada.  Completing a Masters degree in Victoria and meeting 50 kindred spirits from across Canada and the US, and becoming a Roadmonkey, and in doing so meeting so many amazing people from Vietnam and around the world, learning about and working with Catalyst and all thanks to a classmate and the CEO of Roadmonkey who took a chance.  So while challenging, pushing myself, has served me well in the past, I hope my luck will continue!  Also my most recent fortune cookie said I should explore the nearest coast line, obviously advice I don't want to turn down :).

And finally I am so excited to be moving in with my long time, long distance for much to long (just the long distance part not the relationship) girlfriend, Emily.  We have had so many amazing adventures together, with anxiety, intrepidation and excitement, a new adventure begins...

thanks so much again to everyone who has made Regina so wonderful, I promise I will polish up my thoughts and write more in the coming days or months :), all the best, ciao :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Loved one challenge

An interesting little idea that my sister and I came up with, since the creation our dad deed has shifted from TV, which was impossible for him, unfortunately, to no drinking, which is just as healthy so win win!  :)

This is meant to be fun, helpful and not finger pointing and hurtful, be kind and supportive with your suggestions :).

Friday, October 5, 2012


I AM "what is right in the world".  This is the most interesting, fascinating, fun and reflective documentary I have ever seen.  Tom Shadyac who brought us Ace Ventura and pretty much every comedy Jim Carey has been in, had a terrible mountain bicycle accident, was left in a concussion / coma state, basically a near death experience, on his return to life he has brought a new meaning, a new purpose and a new perspective to his thinking and the world!!!  The movie was absolutely fascinating you could probably spend the rest of your life researching heart math, the connectedness of everything on the planet, the fact that Darwin spoke of love, compassion, cooperation 100's of times in his book on evolution and only mentioned survival of the fittest twice, only twice, I feel like we have been a little bit duped by not knowing this... its all about me and I and what I want and this is partially because Darwin discovered survival of the fittest and we must look out for number one and what the documentary tells and shows us is that this was a bit of a misrepresentation, it has occupied our minds and become our culture and its not correct, at least its not a full truth.

Science.  Oh yes wonderful science, all powerful and knowing science once knew the earth was flat, the earth was the centre of the universe and that there are no harmful effects from smoking, science the 'doc' argues is just starting to catch up to eastern religion, medicine and first nations thinking in the connectedness of all things on this planet.  This leads me to a question I have thrown around in my circle of friends, a Buddhist question, if the story we told ourselves from birth was one of reincarnation, one of caring for the birds, the bee's, the tree's and the impoverished people around the world because we would likely come back as a fish, a flower or a butterfly, how would we live on this planet?  What would we eat?  How would we take shelter?  What would our cities look like?  What would we teach in our schools?

All things are connected, one of the most fascinating examples from the 'doc', a petri dish with yogurt, two electrodes are placed in it and then connected to a ohm/volt meter.  A conversation pursues, the meter shows no response, and then Shadyac is asked about his ex wife, his lawyer and his agent and wham the meter bounces around each time, the electrodes in the dish of yogurt are claimed to be sensing the emotional energy that Shadyac is feeling... it is spectacular, I couldn't find the experiment on youtube, you will have to get the documentary, the library has it :).   Further along this thinking, the doc discusses 60 random number generators around the world and then the fun experiments and then real life not so fun experiments that have been tried on these random number generators.  So random number generator generates random numbers, this is true in most cases, however, when a group of people are in the room with the generator and they all have either happy or extreme sorrow emotions, the random number generators are thrown off, they are not random.  This was also seen in all 60 random number generators around the world after 9-11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Tsunami, unbelievable, the odds of patterns appearing in random number generators, effected by human emotions, all I can think of is... the possibility of emotion-winning the lotto... :), guess I will have to buy my first ticket someday :)

Heartmath, now apparently 95% of the messaging to our brain actually begins in our heart, heart math advocates that we actually sense the outcome of a situation in our body/heart/blood before we think it.  This is a huge leap, its extremely interesting science and I encourage you to do a little more research for yourself:  Heart math attempts to explain why we can't think clearly under certain emotions.  How anger makes us stupid.   Why we function better in empathy compassion and love than the alternative.  Also the heart maybe able to predict the future, and respond in the body in advance of the mind :).  Pretty neat thinking!  If anyone has any further info in this I would love to see it!!

Shadyac has since his accident downsized his private jet, multiple mansions around the world lifestyle, he rides his bike to work, lives in a small trailer and teaches at a community school about ISHMAEL, and the new thinking he has undertaken, oh and donates to a common good all excess proceeds :0 WOW.  Oh further there is a huge section on money and happiness and how more money does not make you happier, which we all know of course :), a theme of this blog I think...  

 A couple more take aways for me: 
Ray anderson ceo interface "we have it all wrong" the way we are living.  
All of life is our biological kin. 99percent same genes as apes, same as pets dogs cats fish fungi trees we are all relatives.
Obamas dad wouldn't have been served at a restaurant in south 60 years ago. 
Tribal hoarding... We are living it, we are the first hoarding tribe.  All nature obeys the law, the first law is that nothing in nature takes more than it needs or it dies off, nature cooperates or it dies. 
Soldiers and suicide off the charts, war is not natural.  
Critical thinking followed by action, is the best meditation we can do now. 
Criminally insane to have this type of poverty and injustice and environmental destruction in the world with this type of wealth right out our front doors. 
You can't be neutral on a moving train and there is no such thing as a tiny act. 

A great interview here with Shadyac:

Share this great stuff, the film concludes that the greatest way to shift thinking is to start thinking, sharing, learning and being a little bit different, that collectively when we reach 51% thinking different, we will live different!!
Change:  is a building of consciousness until we are grasped by it and change.
Everyday acts and small acts build over time into a great movement
Make your heart sing with passion and inspiration, change comes about as a result of millions of tiny acts. 

ok completely random, beautiful thoughts, enjoy the film :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The ABCs of biology

I have just finished reading 'The Story of B' by Daniel Quinn.  Some escaping or inescapable thoughts:

Population and food Quinn argues are intricately linked and that all this fuss about birth control and education and democracy and less babies in industrialised society or western world etc is nonsense.  We have a human population problem, for 2 million odd years there were 10,000 humans on Earth the population starting doubling with agriculture and increase in food supply, first it doubled in 7000 years, then in 5000 years, then in 2000 years and now it will double to around 14 billion in 40 years, omg.  Quinn provides a simple example of 2 mice in a cage provided 2kg of food each day, the population grows until it reaches a number that can be sustained by 2kg of food and then fluctuates between 280 and 320 with an average of 300 mice.  The second experiment involved providing the mice what they could eat plus an additional 10% after time the cage was expanded but the population continued to grow and grow and grow.  Quinn argues that humans, not as individuals but as a species exhibit the same behaviour as we grow more food our population increases regardless of every other factor (birth control, efforts to reduce population, etc).  Quinn calls this the ABCs of biology.  He uses the saying you are what you eat and until we can eat dirt, icicles, air or anything else population will follow food.  Increasing and better production methods leads to more people.  Will this sort itself out with time?  Quinn argues that if you are living in a building with known structural flaws it maybe fine for you to continue living in that building for your life, however your children are going to be pretty upset when that building comes crashing down in their lifetime...

Quinn also offers some optimism as he reminds readers that the way we are currently living, our current culture, practiced in 99.9% of the world, is not the way that humans lived for millions of years.  He argues that tribes survived in balance with other species for millions of years on planet earth.  So that just because it seems like humans are programmed for over-consumption, pollution and wiping out other species, this is only in very recent, the last 10,000 years of history and that humanity is actually programmed much differently than this current trend.

Quinn argues we need to stop seeing ourselves as the pinnacle species on the planet, "we are just the same as ants, spiders, bears and elephants" and we need to live like that again.  I once heard someone say that once we care about the plankton in the oceans, not the dolphins or the whales that we will have finally figured out what is really important.

So what to do with this new knowledge?   To breed or not to breed, is that one of the questions?  Should we be putting more effort into land conservations and trusts and protecting forests and not turning every last bit of space into agricultural land?   How can we stop producing more food or will this just happen naturally and we don't have to worry about it...  Maybe the world eating more and more meat will end up being a good thing because it is so much more resource intensive and will mean ultimately less people...  Pretty big questions for an individual... All I can finish with is read the book, start the dialogue, tell someone... :)

Wikipedia also has a great summary here:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The flying environmentalist...

As I get ready to embark on another adventure, to add to feeling like a spoiled rotten twirp or brat which I may very well be, as I do believe we live like kings and queens used to live, a friend basically called a spade a spade saying that I am basically a hypocrite.  He argued that travelling to Vietnam to do a couple weeks of philanthropy work was not enough that to really live my blog I should move to a beach somewhere and live without an environmental footprint, enjoying local food and a very small carbon diet in terms of transport, heating my home, etc etc.  Not buying stuff which aside for kites I don't...  So why don't I do that?  I have often thought about it, I have even written about it for a school assignment last year, why don't I do that?  I do love where I live, I love being blocks from my parents and grandparents, many friends, a short bike ride to work or really anywhere in the  city, connected to music and environmental and social communities in Regina, I feel so connected to this place and the idea of leaving, even to live the life of nomadic kiteboarder definitely scares me.  So I guess I will get on a plane on Saturday morning and set sail to North Carolina, kiteboarding mecca with a group of 60 or so semi crazy Canadian kiteboarders...

How do we become  so connected to place?  How to balance a connection to place with a wander lust, a sense of adventure and most importantly a long distance love...    Vancouver, nomadic kiteboarder, semi frequent flying environmentalist... not sure if the last one is really fair...  late night thoughts, go canucks go!

a great discussion on air travel can be heard by George Monbiot who believes that there really is no place for air travel if we want to truly slow/stop human caused climate change...