Grandson #3; proud grandpa

As my brain fades away, I really just want to walk on the beach with my kids, grandkids, and little dog.

Canadian daughter 2-of-four has delivered grandson number 3.

I can only throw off girls, and the girls can only throw off boys.

Jasper is big and smiley for a 4-week-old, but even though he came in at 9.5 pounds, I remind mother Jaucelynn she was a 10-pounder.

And slept all night.

It’s a wonderful thing to see kids and students develop.

And Jauce is a writer, like her dad, so that’s sorta cool.

The year in death, and rebirth

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.

That’s far too much so close to Christmas.

Under the radar was the death of Johnny Bower, the Toronto Maple Leafs goalie who was one of my heroes.

He was 93-years-old.

Everyone knew Johhny was the Santa at the Leafs annual Christmas skate, because he wore goalie skates (which are still more comfortable to me than the other skates, despite the lack of edges).

As we say in group, we’re still here, have plenty to contribute, and there’s a whole bunch of others who should be in therapy but aren’t.

I’m going to delve further into doing my own thing in the New Year, because I made enough money for a bit, and see what happens.


Birthday wishes — a grandson skating

Many thanks to all the kind – and the all-too-sarcastic – birthday wishes I received today in Brisbane, Australia.

Now that I’m 55, where are those early meal specials at 3 p.m.? It’s OK, I get up at 4 a.m. through a combination of birds, cats and a dog.

Sometimes I don’t.

Marriage is like that.

Best parts of the day: 22-year-old daughter giving me a hug this morning and saying, happy birthday, dad.

30-year-old daughter sending me a video of 5-year-old son Gabe, first time on the ice, in a park, in Waterloo, Ontario (that’s in Canada).

Many thanks to everyone.



Mental health

When I was a kid, we used to spend about every other weekend at my grandfather’s place in Cookstown, Ont., where my father grew up after being in Wales for 15 years.

I usually barfed on the way there, and the way back.

I was about 12-years-old, my sister was 10, and the grandparents decided to take us to Seaworld or whatever it was called in Niagara Falls.

That was when I first detected the Alheimers.

I didn’t know what it was then, just knew he was confused because instead of taking the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) exit in Toronto, he  took the Queensway Blvd. exit to some suburban area.

I said this is wrong, but he was set.

Eventually he found his way back to the proper highway and we went off to Niagara.

Seven years later, I was visiting him in a care facility and he had no idea who he was.

My grandma did the same thing, and eventually ended her life voluntarily.

I carried her into the emergency ward.

Mental health issues are common to many of us.

I only hope that sharing will provide optimism to others.


Farm machinery eating peoples’ arms and legs: Machinery still biggest cause of UK farm deaths

My grandfather, the one who ran the Massey-Ferguson dealership in Cookstown, Ontario, Canada, lost two-or-three of his fingers from the knuckle up due to farm machinery (that’s me and sis).

But when I was about 10, he would send me inside a combine to put pliers on a nut while the others loosened a bolt – from the outside.

I only remember how damn hot it was.

In the UK – gramps was from Newport, Wales — machinery and transport continue to be the main causes of life-changing and life-ending injuries on farm.

Four in 10 of all farmworkers who have lost their lives over the past decade were related to workplace machinery or transport, said NFU vice-president Guy Smith.

Mr Smith, who is also chair of England’s Farm Safety Partnership, said that while the most recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive showed a reduction in the number of deaths through machinery and transport, one death was one too many.

Helen Banham, a dairy farmer from Skegness, Lincolnshire, lost two fingers on her right hand in a life-changing accident with a bottling machine four years ago.

She was going about her daily routine when a bottle dropped through the machine. Instinctively, and without thinking of turning off the bottling line, she reached into the machine to grab it.

Her hand became trapped in the machine and her thumb was severed, while a spike penetrated the palm of her hand.

While pulling her hand free she ripped it open, severely and irrevocably damaging the tendons in her third finger.

Mrs Banham said: “It was our wake-up call. The milk business was taking so much of our time and we were really up against it. We couldn’t afford to take on any more staff, costs were rising and the prices we could charge just weren’t covering our costs.”

Australian citizenship

It’s a trifecta of citizenships for me and Sorenne – Canadian, American and now Australian — and a deux-fecta for Amy as we attended our citizenship ceremony on Saturday morning.

citizenship-sep-16We didn’t even know it was Australian Citizenship Day (a U.S. thing too, which is ironical because the three of us are also Americans), but there were 492 of us in a community centre — with another 500 of supporting friends and family, although we decided to keep ours a personal affair — who were welcomed to the Australian family.

Special thanks to Amy and Sorenne, and many others, who have stuck with me while I adjust to the next phase of our life.

We’ll be celebrating tomorrow, in sub-tropical Brisbane, by spending the day at the arena, playing and coaching ice hockey.

And many thanks for all the kind messages we received in response to our citizenships.

We are quite fortunate, and grateful.


(before and after pics; are we different? that’s a softball question lobbed up there for your amusement)


It’s not a virus or bacterium, it’s a parasite: 7 positive, 16 sick with crypto after visit to Welsh petting farm

A Monmouthshire farm has cancelled a series of open day visits for primary school children following the outbreak of a diarrhea-causing virus.

powell.namePublic Health Wales along with Torfaen and Monmouthshire councils are continuing to investigate an outbreak of cryptosporidium associated with Coleg Gwent’s farm in Usk.

Seven people have tested positive for cryptosporidium and 16 others are suspected of having the bug after regular attendance at the farm or contact with those who have.

Heather Lewis, consultant in health protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are continuing to work with Coleg Gwent, who have written to all students who may have been on the farm in March.

“As a precaution, Coleg Gwent have also cancelled a series of open days which were due to take place with invited primary schools from Tuesday, April 12 to Friday, April 15.”

A spokesman from Public Health Wales said: “Good hand washing after coming into contact with farm animals, their bedding or dirty equipment including clothing is of the utmost importance in preventing infection with cryptosporidium.

“There is no reason for anyone to avoid visiting petting farms as long as they ensure that anyone who has touched animals, thoroughly washes their hands with hot water and soap immediately afterwards and before eating, as hand sanitisers or alcoholic gels should not be solely relied upon.”

Handwashing is never enough.

‘They’re barfing again at Chipotle’ Company did the right thing in closing outlet with sick staffers

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc received praise for its handling of potential Norovirus infections at a Boston-area restaurant, as sick employees stayed home and the burrito chain quickly cleaned the restaurant.

norovirus-2Shares of Chipotle fell as much as 6.1 percent early, then gained back some ground after the head of the Billerica, Massachusetts public health department said the restaurant was cleaned and would reopen on Thursday. The stock closed down 3.4 percent at $506.63.

Reuters caught up with me at the Brisbane airport as me and the fam were about to leave for a 3-week tour of North America.

The closure of the Chipotle in the Boston suburb was seen as a partial test of a new food safety system rolled out after a series of illnesses hit the fresh burrito chain last year.

That workers stayed home in particular was a good sign, said Doug Powell, publisher of the food safety site “It is an indication that the system is working,” he said. But customers may focus only on the sickness, not the company response. For burrito fans, “It’s just – ooh, they’re barfing at Chipotle again,” Powell said.

The company response was not a test of new measures to ensure ingredients are safe and avoid E.coli, he added.

John Patriquin /Staff Photographer; Tuesday, 1/25/11. Danny Leon (on right) and Julia Calder (center) serve customers at Chipotle restaurant in South Portland.

John Patriquin /Staff Photographer; Tuesday, 1/25/11. Danny Leon (on right) and Julia Calder (center) serve customers at Chipotle restaurant in South Portland.

Chipotle food scares last year include two E.coli outbreaks linked to its restaurants that sickened more than 50 people in 10 states, as well as separate outbreaks of norovirus, a highly contagious virus known as the “winter vomiting bug”, in Massachusetts and California that involved more than 350 diners.

Three employees are suspected to have norovirus in Billerica, the town’s Board of Health said. Earlier in the day, local Public Health Director Richard Berube told reporters that one of the three had been confirmed to have the virus.

Berube said Chipotle has been “very proactive” and remaining staff at the burrito restaurant would be screened for norovirus, he added.

Berube, the company and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health all said no customers were known to be sick.

“They did the right thing,” said Howard Penney, who covers the chain for Hedgeye Risk Management. However, he argued that Chipotle was still a “broken company” and that it would take years to return to its peak performance.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said the company closed the restaurant after employees called in sick.