As you may or may not know by now, we spent a weekend at the Fraser farm in Caledon, about an hour north of Toronto. They were not there. They gave us the key to the house. We have been there many times and are not strangers to the house.

This is not your typical farm, more of a gentleman’s farm. Nice large property, some of which has been leased to a local farmer who is raising cows. The house is spectacular, decorated with great taste. It is divided in two sections, the old original farmhouse, and the new addition that was there before the Frasers took over. The brickwork between the two section almost match. The new ones being, well, new, while the old show the ravages of time.

We have always stayed in the new section, in what is ostensibly the TV room. This is very practical, specially now, because we have our very own bathroom, a must for my condition.

I was incredibly tired for the whole weekend. Janet surmised that my white blood cell count was probably low. We had our last chemo session just 10 days after the previous one. We moved up the date of the sessions by a couple of days. I do not know why I ever doubt her judgment.  I did not think two days would make that much of a difference.

I pushed myself as I always appear to be doing. We went into Orangeville, which is a strange town, even for a country setting. A mixture of good and atrocious. Their main street is called Broadway, and it is that. Very broad. They have built a median in the middle that effectively separates one side from the other. The only places to cross is at intersections. They really should get rid of the median and let the two sides communicate. There are all kinds of possibilities there. All that is required is a little bit of vision.

We walked around town a bit. Found a delightful store selling household decorations, and jewelery and other stuff. A real mish-mash as you usually find in the country.  We were looking around and purchased a couple of items. I was flirting with the very young sales ladies. What else am I supposed to do while Janet is shopping?  I usually take pictures, but these girls flirted back.

One of them asked where we are from, and more specifically where in Toronto. Oh my, says one, I teach at the Riverdale Pilates once in a while. Good friends with one of the trainers there. Turns out the trainer is Janet’s personal trainer. Small world.

We went into town several times for groceries, or to just look around a bit more. I drove around looking for picture taking opportunities. None to be had. I also dove around the Fraser’s neighbourhood to see what there was. Lots of pictures there. Also took pictures of their barn which is going to be repaired before it collapses. Can’t have that, the cows live in the basement. You will see some of the pictures once I have looked at them a couple of thousand times.

We rested a lot. Talked, they cooked, I ate, talked some more. Watched a bit of TV, slept a lot. I am waking up really early these days, around 6:30. Not sure why, don’t really care. I can always sleep later. I wrote a couple of poems, the first of which I put on the blog. Designed a camera bag that I hope to produce. Going out this week to buy a sewing machine. Yes, I know how to use one. Watched my mother over so many years.

The weather was almost perfect. Hot in the day, specially in the sun, cool at nights. Stormy on our last day there. It was good.

My exhaustion was tiring to say the least. I was looking forward to walking a lot more. They have a large pond on the property. Always a good walk around. But not this time.

No weekend would be complete without an accident with the bag. I emptied it at around 3:00AM. Fell back asleep around 6. Woke up with start at 8:00 when my hand drifted into something gooey and wet and stinky. The bag had filled to capacity and burst at he seams. Stuff everywhere. Could not be controlled. All over the floor. All the way to the washroom where I started cleaning up while Janet cleaned up the sheets and floor and everything else. Embarrassing to have her do that. I know, that is what marriage is all about. Still, it is a messy proposition.

I tried to not let that ruin the weekend, difficult as it is. It just helps remind me of the fragility of the situation.

Overall, a good weekend. A good dry run for our trip to New York on the 20th.

This post started innocently enough and morphed into quite something else.

Our country lacks vision. Our politicians lack gumption. They are elected for four year terms and cannot see their way past that constrained time-line.

Vision is what created universal health care, and old age pension and a host of other programs. Lack of vision is what is driving our cities into the poor house. Lack of vision is what prompts our politicians to stall transportation programs. Lack of vision is what stops our politicians from allowing Canada Post to create a national high speed internet service.

I have time to read a lot of newspapers. I also tend to read the inane comments people make. The health care issues are, of necessity closer to my heart than other articles.  Every article on any issue related to health care, invariably is greeted by someone (or more than one someone) saying that our health care system is broken. Broken. Crazy glue anyone? Broken. My experience would indicate that our health care system is not broken. It need constant attention and surveillance. It need tweaking once in while. It is far from broken.

Bahai’s believe in a concept called progressive revelation. Religions come about a thousand years apart. The main purpose of religion is to unify mankind. In spite of current issues, it has been working. Progressive revelation entails that religions follow one another building on the success of the previous religion. Religions are founded by Messengers of God, as opposed to philosophers, or Prophets. There have been 9 Messengers of God, starting with Adam, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ, Muhammad, The Bab, and Baha’u'llah. The latter two being the founders of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths. The Bab ended the Adamic cycle of religions. Baha’u'llah has started the Baha cycle which is supposed to last for 500,000 years. The next Manifestation of God is coming in about 1000 years.

One might look at Progressive Revelation as God tweaking his religions. Making changes to a system to perpetuate its success. One religion forbids the drinking of alcohols, another pork. Another allows the eating of pork. No shell fish for those of the Jewish persuasion. Hard to keep the things fresh and not die from them. But refrigeration and new food storage inventions have allowed us to eat shell fish. Baha’is are allowed to eat just about anything. No alcohol though.

If God needs to tweak his religions to keep up with the times, surely we can forgive our man made systems for requiring constant monitoring and tweaking.

I had my Chemo session this past week. The oncologist’s assistant is the one who sets up the appointments. She tends to get a bit confused with dates. We have become an old hand at this, after only 12 Chemo sessions. Imagine that. The assistant enters the dates into the computer, and these are confirmed at some point by the Chemo Daycare people. We get a print out of the new schedule. On this particular occasion, the confirmation was not coming fast enough. She sent us home asking me to call a number to confirm the dates. The confirmation was a bit weird. They had me scheduled for Chemo on both Tuesday and Thursday of last week. My blood work was scheduled for Thursday. The person confirming the schedule made it very clear that she could not change the schedule,as absurd as it appeared to be.

I skipped the Tuesday appointment. Got a phone call from the oncologist making sure I was OK. I pointed out the duplication, and all was well. I showed up as usual on Thursday, only to be told that I was supposed to have been there on Tuesday. There was no appointment for me on Thursday. I started to become a bit angry. That is a topic for a different day. Anger appears to well up and go out of control at some bizarre times. The nurse at the desk is familiar to me. We have dealt with each other before. She is a very nice person. Very calm and considerate.  I stood there, ready to boil over. She looked at me and smiled, and said ever so calmly, don’t worry, we will look after you. And they did. Three hours later. The system broke, and was fixed.

There was a situation about a month ago, when it was pointed out that the Avastin treatments were not being fully paid for by our health care system. Turns out that they would pay for all but the last nine sessions. Hue and cries abounded and the government decided to fork over the extra $9 million to pay for a full regiment of Avastin. Broken. Fixed. I am not sure what sort of discussion would have gone on resulting in the last nine sessions being cut off. But there you have it.

There was another case of a woman who was suffering from some rare form of something. Only 75 cases similar to hers in the whole country. The solution was a combination of two drugs that appeared to work, but did not appear to have any connection. One drug was covered, the other not. The government relented and is now covering both. Too few cases to worry about the funding.

The Ontario government is on a quest to lower the cost of generic drugs. They seem to think that the kick backs or whatever you want to call what the pharmaceuticals give to the pharmacies, increases the price of our drugs. The government negotiates the price of each drug and they seriously believe that this will reduce their costs by about $1.25billion. The lack of vision is astounding.

These kick backs are prominent in all kinds of businesses. Grocery stores receive money from manufacturers to include their items on their shelves. There is a lot of money at stake. The government should intervene there as well to lower the price of our foods. On the other and, these kick backs help bolster the bottom line of all the companies involved. The pharmaceuticals are protected by various patent laws. If they can afford to provide the kickbacks, then I suggest there is a lot more wrong with our systems than just kickbacks.

The government wants to take the high moral ground. Instead, they are going to bruise a system that is working reasonably well. No vision.

My father always said there is always money for education and health. I would like to add two more, communication and transportation.

Communication and transportation have been the backbone of economies from time immemorial. Waterways creating transportation systems. Various forms of communication tools including messengers on foot, pigeons, the telegraph, the telephone, and now, of course the Internet. Any country with an extensive network has prospered. Any country lacking these amenities has fallen behind.

We can blame government corruption for the lack of progress in Third World countries. Ultimately, they will not prosper until their communication and transportation systems are improved.

First World countries are facing their own set of problems. The most prominent one is that our infrastructure is failing under its own weight and we do not seem to have the resources to fix these. We can find billions to save the banks, but not to fix our infrastructure. We think in short term bursts, and ignore long term solutions.

Our roads were created by the Romans about 2,500 years ago. We are using Asphalt on a concrete base, instead of cobblestones on a sand base. We have added a sewer system and a bunch of conduits to allow for the passage of various utilities. All of these additions are causing problems that can be solved with a little bit of vision.

The dome road, that we all take for granted is flawed. We place sewer grates on each side of the road to take away the rain waters. These same grates break up the pavement around them. The breakup of the pavement causes water to enter into the asphalt and further deteriorate the road necessitating costly repairs. The deteriorating pavement also makes it dangerous for bicycles.

The domed structure forces water to the edges of the road where pedestrians get soaked by passing motorists. Water also collects at intersection where the sidewalk is lowered, ostensibly to make it accessible to handicapped people. The side effect of this lowering is that water gathers at these intersections making it inaccessible. These issues are particularly exacerbated by winter countries.

The solution is simple but requires a bit of long term vision from our politicians. I heard a report recently that talked about the number of times our pavements are cut open for various reasons. In Toronto, our pavements are opened 40,000 times a year. Various companies are involved in this tear up, from the gas companies, to all the telcos. Every tear up requires the city to go and inspect the work. They have to invariably send in a crew to fix what was supposed to have been done properly in the first place.  This all comes at great cost to everyone.

The joke in a lot of our cities is that there are two seasons, winter and construction. We can get rid of the latter.

We can reduce the number of tear ups by changing the structure of our roads. The Romans designed three types of roads, the dome, the road that is angled to one side, and the road that curves to the middle.

The last one is the one we should be using. Imagine a road that slopes to the middle with the sewer grates in the middle of the road instead of the edges. We would need one sewer instead of two, a larger one, albeit, but one only. The sewer grates could also be used instead of paint to mark the center of the road.

We would build a tunnel underneath the road that would include conduits for all the utility companies including the electricity providers. The tunnel would be accessible through the grates. In fact, there would be a line of grates that gave access to the tunnel. All changes that are required such as the installation of new cables, or water pipes would be done through the grates.

This is not a cheap solution. In most major cities, it would take 40 years to implement fully. It requires vision and thought and planning. It requires our politicians to think far into the future. The effects of this will go beyond the 40 years it will take to build.

There are numerous such examples that would greatly improve life in our cities. The costs of building these system is offset slightly by the jobs that are created, generating taxes at many points, additional spending since people have jobs.

Our communications systems are controlled by private enterprise. They are supposed to be more efficient. They are driven by profits and will not invest in the future until forced to do so. Canada has a number of telecommunication companies. One of the largest is Bell Canada. They recently upgraded their systems to include a 3G network. Just when others are investing in 4G. No vision.

We should provide the tel-cos with a little bit of competition. Canada Post, our venerable government owned post should be in charge of providing us with a high speed Internet service. There are about 30 billion pieces of eMail traveling through the Internet. Since Canada Post is in charge of delivering mail, it makes absolute sense for them to be also in charge of setting up the infrastructure to deliver eMail.

We need vision. We need leaders with guts.

Love that word. I am probably not using it properly. It was too good to pass up.

Remember Minority Report? The movie in which people drove their cars up buildings and down the other side? People were all abuzz about the movie when it came out imagining what the future would look like. Flying cars, flying people, cars driving up buildings, the list was endless. And to a large extent, oh so wrong.

Humans can barely take two steps on the sidewalk without colliding into one another. We have far too many accidents on a daily basis. Imagine driving flying cars. Colliding 30 ft off the ground and crashing down on top of someones head, or other cars below you. Run out of gas? good luck.  I guess all cars will be equipped with parachutes that deploy much like air bags to ensure a safe landing. The idea is preposterous. That is all we need, to transfer our congestion to the air.

The same for telepathy. We have dreamed for years to have the ability to communicate telepathically. How would that work exactly? Do we have to have line of sight to communicate with one another? How do we make sure that only the recipient hears what we have to say? Would our thoughts be broadcast for all? Cacophony I say. So many people walk around these days with their ears plugged into their own music. They are shutting out the outside world. Too much noise. Telepathic communication is doomed. I refuse to think for all to hear. Bad enough I have a blog to air my thoughts on.

And so we come to a discussion about self help. The idea that our imagination can rule the world. Imagine it and it will happen. Think hard enough about it and it will happen. As Mr. Ronak Shah has espoused, you can crash through walls and move ships with your thoughts. By the way, I do not know Mr Shah. He came to this site of his own will which is what a blog is all about and has expressed his opinion.

I do believe in the power of positive thinking. Surrounding yourself with people who are more positive than negative. Positive feelings feed on other positive feelings. Negative people bring a room down almost as soon as they walk in. There is no power in being negative. To extend this and say that our imagination can rule the world is totally erroneous and fraught with issues.

There I am sitting in the living room and decide that I want to renovate my kitchen. All I have to do is think hard, concentrate, ficus, and wish it to be. Presto digito, I have a new kitchen. My wife, who is sitting beside me, also wants a new kitchen. There we sit side by side watching the kitchen rebuild itself into a gaudesque creation since we cannot agree on the outcome and our thoughts are being developed before our eyes. I have been planning our kitchen renovation for a couple of years now and keep changing my mind around a particular theme. The planning process is wonderful.

Can we, should we be able to change our surroundings based on our thoughts? I very much doubt it.

It is said that we are using only 10% of our brain power. I am not sure how we can arrive at that conclusion. At least we have a number we can aim for. I am not sure what this information reveals about us. Is this a negative? Should we be using more? What if we were using 100%, would that be optimal, or we wish for more brain power having reached our zenith? I am very unclear about this. What is the optimal amount?

So it goes with the power of positive thinking. We are never certain as to what is good for us.  The adage, careful what you wish for would never be truer. We are, as human beings, confused as to what is good or bad. What is good for us and what is not. The benefits of certain actions become clear sometimes well into the future. Other repercussions may appear to have nothing to do with the original decision or action. That 10% capacity saves us from ourselves.

I have not known anyone who can move mountains by mere thought, nor crash through walls.

The world of computers comes up with new and novel ideas, and often gets bogged down in the details. We want to be able to communicate freely with one another. It has to be secure, and so we come with encryption. The art of garbling the message at one end and deciphering it at the other. The encryption algorithms are getting more and more complicated as people keep breaking the codes making such communication untenable. At some point the overhead required to create and maintain the encryption will overwhelm the message.

It is a complicated process. Would we have to somehow come up with the same sort of technology in our own thoughts and imagination? Encrypt our wishes so that only the desired parties can read it? Will we have to devote some of our thoughts and energies to overcoming eavesdropping?

Too many holes in this concept. People should really think things through and discuss it with others before hitting the send button.

Thanks for listening.

© 2010 I Have Cancer Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha