I’m an ideas guy, not a details guy, but Amy sorted it out and things are now at dougsdeadflowers.com.
I started this post two days ago and forgot what I was writing about.
When I was a kid, our family would drive every other weekend two hours north to Cookstown, Ontario (that’s in Canada).
I usually barfed and still do today.
I have lots of memories of me and gramps driving from Cookstown to Toronto to get parts for his Massey-Ferguson dealership, but I can feel those memories fading away, every time I have to pause and rethink what I was writing.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
That famous quote, often wrongly ascribed to Albert Einstein, is believed to have originated with Narcotics Anonymous in 1981 (the same year I began university).
In addition to helping raise five daughters, providing endless relationship entertainment to the folks I played pick-up hockey with back in Guelph (that’s pre-Amy, who is playing pick-up as I write this), helping teach lots of kids how to skate, influencing lotsa students (good and bad, not much in-between), pissing off lotsa bureaucrats and industry types, publishing lots of peer-reviewed stuff that still gets cited daily and almost 15,000 barfblog.com posts, I did news.
Food Safety Network news, long before wannabes.
For 26 years I’ve done news.
And always referenced the evidence, or lack thereof.
Until others do the same, they’re just plagiarists.
I combined my background in molecular biology with some journalism experience, and I carved out a path in food safety.
The vision I always had for food safety information, all those years ago, was what I heard about daily – and often directly: How the hell was I supposed to know?
We mined the world (I used Compuserve to get access to the AP wires and others back in the days before Google, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s MMWR would take six months to arrive by mail, when those who needed to know should have had the information as soon as possible).
I am intensely loyal to the kids, er, students, that flourished and maybe we’ll write a book; or maybe not.
I did my best, even when my best wasn’t good enough.
I still love it – I haven’t been paid in over two years — but someone else should be in charge.
I have early-onset dementia, I have other health issues, so rather than submit any more family members to, I’ve got to do news, I am going to step away while I can.
Of the 15,287 barfblog.com posts, I authored (or cut and paste) 13,070 since 2005. That’s 86 per cent, or an ice hockey goalie save percentage of .8549, which isn’t great (should be over .91) but doesn’t exactly suck, because this isn’t hockey.
It’s something different.
And time for me to do something different.
I may still write, maybe about food safety, maybe about other things, maybe about the probability of monkeys flying out of my butt.
But for now, I’ve got other priorities.
Ben can figure out what to do and what he wants to do.
It’s been an honor and a privilege to share your computer screens, maybe even your brain space, and improve food safety, one tip-sensitive digital thermometer, one less serving of raw sprouts, and one calling out of bullshit advice, at a time.
Katija always was the reasonable one, kept me and Chapman on track, especially during our 6 a.m. golf rounds, and was always there to make up for our silliness.
I implored her to do a PhD, but she resisted, and was comfortable with what she did.
Over the past 10 years, when I needed help to get a paper out the door, I would turn to Katija.
She’s seen life’s ups and downs, but has come out confident and better than ever.
Katija and Chapman have been with me for almost 20 years, each. Carol, who worked with me for a bit is also on for editing.
The book I’ve been working on has a tentative title of Food Safety Fairytales.
I was gonna write the whole thing myself, but then I realized my brain and body weren’t up to it, so I called in favors from my friends – sorta like The Band in the Last Waltz (not bad for a couple of Brantford-area boys).
And rather than keep it to ourselves, which is not my style, it will be public all the way (also a good way to hold certain people accountable, including myself).
The titles are all fairytales and will be destroyed by evidence.
But unlike what I told students, 60% content, 40% style, I want this to be 60% style 40 % content; I want it to be a best seller in airports.
Because every time I’m on a plane and someone asks what do I do, and I say food safety, they say, there was this one time, I barfed, and it was horrible. That led to barfblog.com in 2005, now it’s time to do something else.
Chapters, in no particular order:
Food safety is simple Powell
Just cook it Powell
Food safety programs ensure food safety Chapman
Training ensures safe food Mancini
Five-second rule Schaffner
Sprouts are a health food Powell
Cold-cuts should be served in aged care Powell
Cantaloupe is a health food Powell/Chapman
Labels are a meaningful way of communicating Celia/Powell
Pasteurized products are safe Powell
I have a lot more, but would rather get one out and then think about the next one
Chuck Berry, Harry Dean Stanton (my first marriage was doomed when we watched Paris, Texas, the night we got engaged), the original Batman, Adam West, and so many others.
Yet for all these cultural touchstones, the new year focuses on each of us and what we can do to contribute. We’re told to collaborate, yet the people many remember are ridiculously individualistic. What I’ve learned, or trying to learn, is gratitude and compassion (to others and myself, and go forward and be myself).
I spent my 55th birthday in my usual Friday therapy group as we learn to live with and use the demons we all carry.
It was also my mom’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, and other things.