Saturday, June 25, 2016

'Compassion'

As I stated in one of my previous rants (Rewind; Feb 27/16) my grade 11 and 12 years at Westmount Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario were, for the most part fun and enjoyable. I think an extremely high majority of my fellow classmates experienced some pleasurable good times, We 'showed up' to class, engaged in sports, socialized with our friends and other students and participated in drinking escapades on weekends at house or bush parties and bars...it was a good time.

Mental illness should never be overlooked. It should always be taken seriously, especially if an individual is encountering suicidal thoughts. A lot more teenagers are partaking in this horrible 'pastime' of attempted and completed suicides today than my generation did in my scholastic days.

Some of the contributors to teen suicide are bullying, depression, heredity, parents divorcing, relationship breakups, stress and substance abuse. Maybe all the anguish and despair in the world, as well as corrupt governments. and untrustworthy and dishonest politicians are also instrumental of why teens want to kill themselves...the future looks bleak, hopeless and unpromising...their fate is shattered into a million pieces.

The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) proclaims rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent, that they are now the group at highest risks in a third of all countries. An article in C.T.V. News (Oct.3/11) stated, in Canada, suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15 - 24 year-olds and is the second leading cause of death between the ages of 10 - 24. Woodstock Ontario has been faced with that horrible dilemma.

Woodstock is a city in Canada located in southwestern Ontario and has a population of 37,754 according to the 2011 Canadian Census. The city claims they are the dairy capital of Canada. The Woodstock Economic Development Dept. stated the average household income in 2006 was $64,523 (Canadian dollars).

The crisis started at the beginning of 2016. The Toronto Star reported (June 7/16) five people age nineteen years and under have killed themselves and according to the Woodstock Police Dept. thirty-six more young people have expressed suicidal thoughts or have actually attempted suicide in neighbouring communities.

Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not trying to be some sort of idiot comedian or buffoon, but, is there something in the water or is it the air they breathe...what is going on? We can ask the same question about the calamity that is happening in Northern Manitoba involving the Pimickmak Cree Nation. Both locales have different socioeconomic environments but either way you look at it, young people are killing themselves.

I honestly believe we didn't have the alarming rate of attempted and completed suicides back in my high school days. If that was the case it would only be kept 'hush hush' for so long because like any secondary school the hallways (and in my case the smoking area) were a wealth of information. Whether the stories were tall tales, rumours or hard facts, sooner or later we would receive the lowdown...they were superb 'data centres'. Overall attempted and completed suicides were extremely few and far between.

I do recall hearing about one suicide when I was fifteen years old. A friend of mine told me and his other buddies his sixteen-year-old female neighbour jumped off an overpass onto Highway 403 in Hamilton, Ontario, instantly killing herself.

I remember, just a few years ago, two seventeen-year-old boys committing suicide as stated by the Hamilton Spectator (June 22/12). They both jumped together off a transportation overpass called the Jolley Cut in Hamilton, Ontario and landed on the escarpment. Their cause of death was blunt force trauma due to descent from height. Supposedly both boys were best friends and said good-bye to their other friends via facebook and twitter before they took their lives.

Years ago I use to fill out death forms as one of my job duties so the death would be registered with the City of Hamilton. The funeral home representative would hand me the official death certificate which contained information such as the deceased's name, their address and a written autopsy by the Doctor. The document was an eight and one half inch by eleven inch white piece of thicker than normal paper. The paper had a distinct odor, almost like embalming fluid...fuck, I despised that part of my job.

Five will get you ten, I recorded at least one thousand deaths while I was employed at that position, however, one demise is still locked in my brain. It was a seventeen-year-old male high school student from Hamilton, Ontario. In the space titled cause of death,  the physician wrote the source ever so straight forward...suicide - shotgun blast to the face.

For those four adolescents, life must have been intolerable, filled with misery and gloom...such a waste of young and precious lives. It's so heart-rending these kids didn't want to live anymore...their pain must have been unbearable.

I worked in a psychiatric ward of a community hospital for two years, my title was a Psychiatric Assistant (P.A.). Prior to working at the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital (H.P.H.) with a schizophrenic and severely brain injured patient, I had no formal training or post-secondary education in psychiatric nursing...my head nurse told me the reason I was hired was I had good raw skills.

Some of my duties as a P.A. were assessment and monitoring of male and female patients and a case coordinator. I saw a wide range of mental illnesses such as Alzheimer's, dementia, depression, manic depression, schizophrenia, and suicide...suicide coincided with depression and manic depression.

For a lot of suicide patients, it was like the ward had a revolving door. They would be admitted, have their medications stabilized, attend therapy and then discharged only (in a lot of cases) to return again, some as many as seven or eight episodes.

One patient I recall was an eighteen-year-old male prostitute who 'worked' on the streets of Toronto. As I remember he made at least three appearances on the ward. Realistically he was a pleasant teenager. He complied with all the ward rules and never acted out. But once he was discharged the staff knew it wouldn't be long before he returned because of his suicidal thoughts or actual suicide attempt. As of this day I have no idea of his status...I hope he's alive and has a conventional job.

It's heartbreaking and traumatic when death makes a visit at any time and absolutely devastating and horrendous to have a family member pass away. Obviously, teenage suicide is no different. A lot of the times there are no warning signs...the parents receive that dreaded phone call and everyone's life changes forever. It's evident that the sadness and sorrow will always be there but sometimes the parents suffer and endure guilt asking themselves "I should have known" or "what did we do wrong?" or the simple question "why?". The smooth jazz song by Robert Sanae and The Crater Creek titled 'If You Only Knew' is fitting because sometimes the parents don't have any indication whatsoever what their child is contemplating.

Epilogue

Teenage suicide has been making the headlines for quite a few years now. This epidemic for our young people will exist for a lengthy duration. This is one time I really hope I am mistaken, but sadly enough I don't think I'm wrong...I wish I was.

The End
Harvenut Puritan

Sunday, June 5, 2016

'Honour The Neighbour'

I will put this bluntly...I HATE WINTER!! The frigid temperatures, bone chilling wind, snow and ice make it exceedingly undesirable for me but in spite of all that, like everyone else, I have adapted to old man winter throughout the years. It would be highly satisfying for my Executive Assistant (E.A.) and I to be converted to Snowbirds (holiday in Florida for our winter months) and finding a little tranquility like laying on the beach writing my amateur rants with a cooler of ice cold Miller High Life adult beverages beside me, but as usual, money is the principle component of preventing that fantasy.

My E.A.'s father was born in Newfoundland (N.L.). She and I have discussed a few times about moving to the rock. She has relatives who could assist us on such issues as pinpointing a doctor, dentist, financial advisor, hospital and a decent supermarket as well as just settling our roots. We conversed our home would be small, nothing elaborate, but have a picturesque and scenic view overlooking the ocean. The summer months would be comfortable and pleasant but then we have the winter...their winters are absolutely brutal. When N.L. receives snow they are clobbered and pummelled...many times they will sustain thirty, forty or fifty centimetres (that's eleven to nineteen inches) of snow in one storm, and with the wind and drifting, people can be snowed in for days.

We have viewed numerous N.L. winter pictures but one really attracted my attention. The picture showed a heavy duty front end loader on a road. The snow banks were mammoth, I kid you not, they had to be at least forty feet high...the front end loader looked like a dinky toy. It didn't take us long to give our heads a shake and squash the idea of having N.L. as our new residence.

I would also personally like to thank the provincial government of N.L. (Liberal regime) from the bottom of my heart of reinforcing our decision of NOT relocating to N.L. I read their latest budget in C.B.C. news April 14/16. I know Liberals have a deep affection and are fixated with tax payer's money but this financial plan is shocking, sickening and outright thievery. Here are a few highlights of their extortion scheme: a new 10% tax on all books, a Harmonized Sales Tax (H.S.T.) increase from 13% to 15%, a 16.5 cent per litre gasoline tax, 15% new tax on insurance premiums, increase of income tax 1% - 3%, depending on an individual's earnings, tax increase on registering a passenger vehicle, about three hundred fees such as license permits, fines and inspections are going up and another fifty new fees will be introduced. Overall the average household in N.L. will be 'coughing up' another $3,000 a year. TAX, TAX, TAX...typical fucking politicians.

We bought our house in Hamilton, Ontario in 2001 and thoroughly enjoy our home. We plunked quite a few bucks into upgrades but it was money well spent...it's a cozy and snug two bedroom pad...we are very content. When we saw the ad in the real estate paper, it was normal, like other notices, except at the end of the description it read, wonderful neighbours. Throughout the years we have discovered that the word wonderful certainly wasn't fabricated. Some neighbours have come and gone but the folks who are still here are splendid and wonderful.

Nevertheless, we sincerely miss our neighbours who lived adjacent to us. They were an enjoyable couple, just not neighbours but dam good friends. They were highly educated and professional people but were extremely and completely distant from being egotistical and conceited...they were common, down to earth individuals. We would engage in barbeques together. He and I would partake on having some beers and watch sporting events on television. He would play video games with my sons, sometimes till three o'clock in the morning. His wife took a real pleasure in sewing and stitched a Hawaiian shirt for myself and made slip covers for our furniture.

Sadly enough their relationship didn't last...it's like the 1967 Chamber Brothers song titled 'Time Has Come Today', their time had come...they sold their house and divorced. We were truly sorry they journeyed their separate ways.

This past winter (2015 - 2016) was semi-tolerable, mind you I find winter is never bearable. My E.A. bought me a new gas powered snow blower as my Christmas present and I used it on four occasions. I must say it was a delight to operate. My previous machine was a 1985 model...I bought it used for $300. I acquired less than two years service from the unit and had to pay $600 for a substantial tune up...I should have bought a brand new machine to begin with. Yea, I agree, DUH!!

Whenever we receive enough snow to use my blower I make sure I clean some of my neighbours sidewalks and driveways. Our 92 year old neighbour across the street is starting to slow down a snippet so I always clean his property. Notwithstanding his age, a couple of years ago I attempted to clean his sidewalk with my old machine as he was starting to clear his driveway. He noticed what I was doing and gave me an aggressive sideways motion with his right hand...translated into English I think it meant FUCK OFF...pride and dignity are hard to surrender. Before I bought my used blower he would always clean our sidewalk and driveway...it saved a lot of back breaking shovelling and in return I would thank him each year with a $50 gift certificate to Swiss Chalet and a $30 gift certificate to the Mandarin Restaurant.

I also clear my neighbour's sidewalk and driveway who live beside us. I know he appreciates my labouring because he rewards me with a case of 24 Miller Genuine Draft beer (man, that liquid gold is $40 a case) or a pack of kielbasa. At times he and his wife will have us over for dinner and we certainly eat and drink substantially. I recall once instance when one of my trees was obstructing the reception of his satellite dish and he asked me if I would be good enough to trim the limbs. I told him there was no problem and I cut the entire tree down, it might have been 20 feet high and it was dead anyway, not that it would have made a difference. Two days later he's knocking at my door with a gift, yes, another case of 24 Miller Genuine Draft beer. As usual I said to him "you don't have to do this" and his customary reply was "I know I don't have to do this." I also perform my duty with the neighbour next to my 'beer buddy'. Over the years he has helped us out a great deal before I owned a snow blower.

Then we have the woman who lives on the other side of us, she bought the house from our previous neighbours who divorced. I've been blowing her snow (sidewalk and driveway) for three years and she has never once offered me anything. The last two storms of this past winter, I only cleaned her sidewalk and she never even thanked me.

She bought two small mongrels from a puppy farm when she moved in...I call them Yacky and Whacky. Their barks are ever so high pitched and ear piercing and they will yap for ten, sometimes fifteen minutes at a time before she brings them inside. On few occasions they have woken me up after midnight. A great many times they are supremely annoying and irritating. I always say I'm going to phone noise control/bylaw but I never do...may I just want to keep peace.

She has approached us more than once for assistance. One episode was when she kept hearing an intermittent beeping sound and couldn't figure out where it was coming from. I traced the noise to her kitchen garbage can...I didn't need any high-tech equipment to fathom the location of the sound. As it turned out, it was her old smoke alarm she discarded with the battery still connected.

Another event 'we' encountered together was then the city experienced a long power outage. She knocked on our door and appeared to be in a panic and explained her problem to me. She was hearing a loud alarm signal from her sump pump and asked me to eyeball the situation, I obliged her and we entered her home together. I could hear a blaring warning sound from her sump pump in the basement. I don't know anything about sump pumps so I suggested we phone the Fire Department...just to be on the safe side. I called them on my cell phone and the alarm room operator explained to me they were extremely busy...I didn't doubt him for a second they were swamped with calls. However, ten minutes later Ladder 4 arrived at my neighbour's house. Three firefighters (one stayed with the apparatus) walked into her house and proceeded to the basement and shut off the noise. They assured her there was no danger but suggested she have someone inquire looking into it. The firefighters were, as usual, professional, courteous and exceptionally helpful.

I recommended to my neighbour she write a thank you letter to Station 4 (that was the firefighters home base) and she also agreed. A few years later I asked her if she had ever written the letter and her reply was "I tried but I couldn't find the phone number." Now really, we all know she could have written a short note and personally delivered it to Station 4...it's only a five minute jaunt away.

Epilogue

I really don't know what to think of our neighbour. Basically she is a nice woman but on the flip side a considerable amount of times, it's all about her. The smoke alarm and sump pump, well, as far as I'm concerned, are just loyalty and devotion to any neighbour. Be that as it may, she did disappoint me not sending a thank you letter to the Fire Department. As far as snow blowing, some times a little token of appreciation (especially after three years) is always welcomed. I will continue to clear my neighbours properties and clean her sidewalk only. I wonder if the phrase 'thank you' is permanently deleted from her vocabulary.

The End
Harvenut Puritan

Heebie - Jeebies

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