Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

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Weekly column: Personal responsibility can help prevent future tragedies

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday March 9, 2020.

On a fateful day in 2012, somewhere on Salt Spring Island, a set of bad decisions ended up changing many people’s lives for the worst and ending one. Calder McCormick and Ryan Plambeck, then 17 and 18 years old respectively, left a house party in an advanced state of intoxication due to alcohol and marijuana, got in a car that was not theirs and crashed shortly after.

McCormick survived but suffered brain trauma which left him unable to pursue further education or even ride a bicycle, while Ryan Plambeck died at the scene of the crash. He was behind the wheel but did not have a valid driver’s license. Heartbreaking and yet preventable.

Weekly column: We need driving laws that protect pedestrians first

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, February 17, 2020.

A while back I read a book that was as poignant as it was scary. It is called A deadly wandering: A tale of tragedy and redemption in the age of attention, by Matt Richtel (William Morrow, 2014). I mentioned it at the time because of the high volume of drivers busted driving and texting at the time. I am picking up the topic again because somehow the issue of distracted driving does not seem to go away. How could it? The people at the other end are doing their best to keep our attention hooked to the devices through whatever pings and screen traps necessary.

Weekly column: Nice hashtag, but are we going to keep talking about mental health?

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, February 3, 2020.

I have a hard time peeling myself away from the book I am reading to focus on this column. The book is called From the Ashes, and it is written by Jesse Thistle, presently an assistant professor of Metis Studies at York University in Toronto. The path that led him to where he is today though… OK, I will not spoil it for you. I am three quarters done and have shaken my head and winced more times than I could count since I started reading it. I had heard him sharing his story on the radio a couple of years ago while driving with my eldest to Harper Mountain. I wished then he’d write about it. He did.

Weekly Column: What can we understand from the darkest of times?

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, January 13, 2020.

It is hard to put into words the extent of the tragedy that has befallen the families and friends of the 176 people who died in the recent plane crash near Tehran. Worse yet was learning the latest about the Iranian surface-to-air missile that struck the plane down. Someone – human error or not – shot the plane down (yes, I know it’s not the first one, sadly.) One can hope that many of the painful questions that multiply with each day will find answers, but then again, that will not make up for lost lives.

Weekly column: Food studies versus common sense and reality

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, October 7, 2019.

You can safely file it under ‘Another day, another food study.’ Followed by… now what?

Case in point: the recent meat-centered study coming from Dalhousie and McMaster Universities, which concluded that the health benefits associated with reducing or eliminating red and processed meats are minimal, and the risks we thought existed are also quite small, hence the recommendation to eat meat without restrictions, if that’s how you feel like it.

So what’s wrong with that, some will say. The study eased the guilt and worry about red and processed meats. It’s good to not have guilt or fear as a side dish, right? Granted, the researchers admitted they had not taken into consideration any animals welfare and environmental issues, and they considered people’s attachment to their meat-based diet as one of the factors to base their recommendations on.

Weekly Column: The complex price of hoaxes

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Tuesday, September 24, 2019.

When I returned home from walking the dog that morning my youngest was still at home. Enthusiastic grade 8 student that he is, skipping was out of the question. He had walked to school as usual and was told to go back home by the vice principal. There was a police car in the alley, my son said, blocking access to the school entrance.

Weekly column: Let’s help our young ones quit it once and for all

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, September 2, 2019.

It is an interesting case of ‘better than smoking’ that has been adopted by many. Vaping, they said, does not present the same risks as cigarettes do. That many e-cigarette brands are developed, and owned, by tobacco giants…well, that’s a tell-tale like no other.

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