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 :)