Beauty is in the eye…

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Beauty, it is said is in the eye of the beholder! Of course that is true but the meaning goes further I think. After all, it can also be said that all things are in the eye of the beholder. Our understanding, our comprehension of the world in the widest sense and our appreciation of it is surely the direct consequence of the way we see, the way we perceive and interpret the world through our senses. With this in mind I have found increasingly that using a camera to capture images I see has greatly enhanced my ‘beholding’ of the world.

I particualrly enjoy snapping shots of different objects, changing the range and angel of my viewing. Often the resulting images afford me great satisfaction. Last evening as I set off on my evening walk here in Vancouver, I happened to notice a familiar sight, a dumpster, often taken for granted. I took out my little pocket sized Canon and started snapping shots. The dumpster emerged as a distinct and I think quite beautiful object. see what you think.

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Metal objects in particular and especially once they begin to succumb to the elements offer fantastic photo opportunities. Here are a few taken recently:

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Little treasures….

We walked to the village shop to buy cheese,
snapping photos on the way.
No matter how often one walks the same road
there is always something different to see;
the bright hawthorn berries beginning to fade;
the texture of snow transformed by sunburst;
the old building a little further decayed!

Returning home we stopped in to see Paul,
always a pleasure,
and discussed a documentary about the Universe.

I bought three little treasures;
two old postcards to send a friend
and an old photograph of a young man
who captivated my imagination.
Who was he I wonder;
or is he still?

My motto…

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Every now and then I am forced to remind myself about my motto: moderation in all things! Actually I’m having to remind myself more often. We have access to so much information now that one can be forgiven not only for getting overwhelmed but more specifically, confused.

I’ve just scrolled down my Facebook page and alighted on an article questioning the health benefits of adding raw spinach and kale to one’s smoothies. My first reaction; oh dear God what now? One minute there is an avalanche of recommendations about the health benefits of these excellent vegetables and coincidentally a tidal wave of the far from cheap produce in our grocery stores; and now this. I take a deep breath and rationalize.

Of course spinach and kale is good for us and frankly common sense tells me eating raw fruit and vegetables is not only the natural and intended method for consuming food but has to be the optimum means of obtaining our essential nourishment (I highly recommend the Nearing’s book: ‘The Good Life’).  Unfortunately I have not yet mastered the skill and discipline of eating a totally raw food diet, but I’m working towards improving things on that front. Moderation again!

Then I read on to learn why this particular person is advising caution on the kale and spinach front. It’s all about oxalic acid apparently and the fact we shouldn’t be over-doing it. Moderation again!

Finally, having digested the writer’s (Dawn Combs –Mockingbird Meadows) rant I ask myself the all important question, what are her credentials for this advice. Well actually at face-value she sounds worthy of some respect; perhaps more to the point her argument, assuming her facts to be correct, makes some sense.

Does this mean I should stop eating raw spinach and kale? Certainly not! Instead I shall simply remind myself, moderation in all things. I shall use a little less of it, possibly heed Dawn Combs’ advice and steam some, but most importantly I shall not allow myself to be overwhelmed or confused by the plethora of health advice  proliferating all over the internet.

Today’s Hype!

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I happened to spot this while waiting in reception for my acupuncture session.The caption caught my attention and I read on wondering how and why one might start one’s own revolution! It sounded too good to be true and of course it was.

Clearly the latest push by big pharma companies is to give a new spin on their highly toxic and dubious HIV medications. For anyone who reads beyond the headline of the advert there are two pages warning against the possible adverse side effects of the meds, many serious and life-threatening.You might want to bin the magazine immediately.

Actually I didn’t because I was curious to see what further BS advertising was printed between its covers. I soon came across another model man poised to ‘discover the once-daily Prezitsta experience’. Sounds like a new Italian dish! Not so of course, just another highly toxic and potentially, you guessed it, life threatening medication.

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By the time I reached the third guy towards the back of ‘PA’, beaming healthily (and looking a little stupid I thought) the caption seemed a little weak: ‘Just the one for me.”

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Want more handsome pics of healthy men advertising HIV meds: check out ‘PA:Positively Aware’ May+June 2014.

Before getting high prematurely…

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This morning I attended a medical marijuana workshop. I wasn’t sure what to expect especially as it was scheduled from 10:00am to 1:00pm. Three hours seemed a bit long, especially as I thought the very basic questions I wanted to ask could easily be answered. I was in for a surprise as the workshop turned out to be a one on one conversation between me and the facilitator; a very experienced, interesting man who clearly knew his stuff.

In fairness I should clarify that the apparently low attendance was not a poor reflection on the facilitator; if anything it was indicative of poor publicity on the part of the organisers who failed to clarify that their speaker’s presence is a regular event for interested persons and anyone wishing to drop-in or even phone-in.

I’m not complaining; for once I actually didn’t mind the exclusive focus of another person who easily answered all my questions and much more. We had a very stimulating conversation which eventually branched-out beyond the original topic. He reassured me that with my recently acquired doctor’s approval and signature on the requisite form, plus membership in various medical marijuana organisations I am safe from prosecution provided I am not in possession of more than 150 grams of bud and not flagrantly flouting obvious laws, like re-selling my legally purchased pot.

Unfortunately I have missed the boat when it comes to legally growing weed. Thanks to Harper and his machinations, if he succeeds in getting his way (currently being challenged) only big business interests will be granted a licence to grow marijuana and presumably the man on the street caught doing so will suffer the full brunt of Harper’s draconian law which apparently rules more than five plants a felony with mandatory sentencing. Strictly speaking one isn’t even supposed to grow any pot plants although individuals licensed to do so before the recent changes in law are currently allowed to continue following a recent court ruling in Vancouver, BC., challenging the Federal law.

So what exactly is going on in Canada regarding the ‘legalization’ of medical marijuana? One can be forgiven for feeling confused and at the same time one should be cautious about getting high prematurely. The Federal Government’s Canada Health website page still states categorically: ‘Dried marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada. The Government of Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, but the courts have required reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana when authorized by a physician.‘ In reality Harper and his cohorts are still ideologically against marijuana which is deemed on a par with other proscribed drugs such as heroin.

However, times they are a changing. Public opinion cannot be stifled as easily as Harper might wish particularly when our southern neighbours have suddenly pulled in to the fast lane, at least in 12 states, and made headway legalizing pot. It is this momentum towards making marijuana legally accessible by the people that has the political pot stirred and big business interests keen to make sure if anyone is going to make money out of marijuana it will be them. That certainly would explain the very selective granting of licences to big companies some with prominent, politically affiliated figureheads like Mike Harcourt, a former B.C. premier, apparently at the expense of established, previously licensed organisations who were doing a good job meeting the needs of those seeking medical marijuana. Sadly word is these new companies, whose motivation, just like the mega pharmaceutical companies, is profit not the health of patients, are producing inferior marijuana at inflated prices; exactly what one would expect of big business of course!

But there is cause for some optimism especially if the Harper government falls to a newly elected and pro-legalization of pot Liberal Party in the next general election! My man at the marijuana workshop certainly hopes so and says this alone will secure the Liberals his vote. Certainly food for thought!

 

Headlines hit home…

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We are all aware of the impact on our lives of modern media and headlines in particular, whether they be in print or displayed on a screen are intended to grab our attention.

Of  course ‘the media’ is a mixed blessing and never more so than in the 21st century when most of it is controlled by a monopoly of rich and very powerful people with their own agenda. Unfortunately often their agenda has very little to do with the public’s best interest. Hence at the very least it is up to us to be on guard, read accurately and try to comprehend intelligently.

This week in Vancouver the media pulled all the stops rolling-out the news about Ward 10c in St.Paul’s Hospital. Dr. Julio Montaner and Premier Christy Clark, presumably never ones to miss a media spotlight, were no doubt delighted with this photo/media opportunity. Such was the significance of the revelation that word immediately spread throughout Canada and, although I have not as yet checked, I expect it will reach international status. I refer to the sudden announcement that Ward 10c, hitherto unofficially known and acknowledged as the hospital’s “AIDS Ward” is to be ‘repurposed’; an interesting choice of word but perhaps not inappropriate.

Headlines broadcasting this not insignificant event differ. For example, Vancouver Metro * declares, ‘AIDS ward closes as death falls.’  Aside from a naughty temptation to dissect this statement for all manner of possible interpretations, suffice it say it is inaccurate and misleading, a fact its author clearly knows because he/she quickly corrects it in the second  paragraph. But no matter, by then the headline has already done its job.

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‘The Globe & Mail’ has a similar headline first informing its readers of the hospital’s closure of the AIDS ward, apparently a ‘symbol of progress’ but later advising them that ‘…Ward 10C was deactivated due to the near-elimination of AIDS cases in B.C. ”

Vancouver’s “24 hrs”, another freebie, is far more precise with a clear headline, ‘ Ward repurposed’. The article continues, making it very clear, ‘The ward will still operate, instead treating those with HIV – the virus that leads to Aids  – hepatitis and addictions.’ Of course not all of us swallow whole the media’s assertions that HIV leads to AIDS, but that’s an even bigger and ongoing story.

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My point is, just taking these two papers’ examples, one has a snippet of how the media works and the pitfalls that can ensue. Leaving aside the full content of the story, which incidentally does make for interesting reading and I believe even greater speculation as to what this decision truly indicates, it got some members of the public in quite a furore as evidenced by some of the comments submitted. Some, believing the ward was actually to close down completely, were understandably bewildered or angry and vented about the ongoing need for hospital beds whether or not they be occupied by AIDS patients. Others bemoaned the loss of nursing staff who they presumed would now lose their jobs with the ward suddenly shut down. The more astute, discerning readers made more appropriate comments and/or scathing corrections to those who had got it wrong.

Hopefully I’ve vented and made my point, albeit not in full; that would take much longer and more space!

* Interestingly when I Googled its webpage today a different headline is diplayed to that shown in my picture!

Other relevant headlines:

National Post. ‘Vancouver hospital shuts down renowned AIDS ward…’

Castenet.net. ‘AIDS ward closes as success’

UNAIDS. ‘Vancouver closes the door of its last AIDS ward…’