Thursday, 29 March 2012

Back to Bindloss


Here are three photos that I took of Jupiter and its four Galilean moons, the first two taken  on March 20 and the third on March 21.  These were actually my initial attempt at planetary photography so they are far from perfect, but I found them interesting in spite of that.  Note the positions of the moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Calisto in order of their distances from the planet).  In the first two shots, Calisto is just peeking out from behind Jupiter.  Note the position changes of the two “middle” moons – these two photos were taken one hour and five minutes apart!  And look how much change there is in 24 hours!

Jupiter 1

Jupiter 2

Jupiter 4



I have been remiss about writing lately – I guess that the muses deserted me for a while.  However, a couple of events occurred that started the old blog motor again.  

1.  I was in the dentist’s office this week to have a couple of fillings done.  He, like all modern dentists, uses a high speed drill which is virtually painless – in fact, I didn’t require anesthetic for one of the teeth.  As a young boy living in Bindloss, we went to a dentist in Empress, about 20 miles east.  He used a treadle drill like the sewing machines of yore making dentistry plenty uncomfortable.  In addition, as I lay back this time, there was a TV set above the chair for the entertainment of the victims, although “Live With Kelly” was playing and that is just about as annoying as the old treadle drill with the belts and pulleys.  The only entertainment while trapped in the chair in Empress was to try to count the number of hapless flies stuck to the flypaper coil hanging from the ceiling!

Train in Snow

2.  I received an e-mail from a girl who boarded with us in Bindloss so she could attend school, because the roads were virtually impassable that winter of 1948-49.  She had found my e-mail address attached to a note that somebody else had sent, perhaps to the two of us as well as others.  Although that is scary, because e-mails should really be “cleaned up” by bcc and/or erasing names, I was mighty glad that she received it and took the time to send a note.  Her name is Shirley, and I do remember her though I completely lost track of her after we left Bindloss.  In fact, as a 6 year old boy, I had a bit of a crush on her though she was about 7 years older, more than twice my age.  She was one of several public school pupils who stayed with us that winter, though she was only there for one year as she then had to board at the dorm in Medicine Hat in order to attend high school.  So I am writing a letter to her in order that we can catch up on our lives’ events:


Dear Shirley,

Bindloss HouseI am so glad that you took the time to contact me.  I have often wondered what happened to my friends and acquaintances from those early and memorable days in Bindloss when we were just kids.  I only knew you for a brief time but certainly do remember you.  I think that I may have visited your farm one time (or perhaps it was Donna A’s farm) and I remember that we were trying to catch field mice in one of the out buildings.  I don’t think that we actually captured any of the poor things but the pursuit was terribly fun although you really did not seem to appreciate mice as much as I did.  I still like the little critters and think that they are cute.


We moved into Medicine Hat when I was in Grade 4, living with my grandparents for a while until Dad was able to purchase a wartime house on 10th St., S.W.  I attended school at Connaught, Alexandra and MHHS.  Since I loved airplanes I tried to join the air force the day I graduated, but they required a university degree, so I worked as a lab technician at the Medical Arts Clinic for a year, saving every penny I could.  The clinic offered me a scholarship to attend university and work towards a BSc in laboratory science.  Bob Ayling, one of the teachers and fellow musician at MHHS said to me “Why not go all the way and work towards an MD?”  That wonderful teacher changed my life.


In the meantime I pursued an interest in music, becoming a trumpet player with the city band, the South Alberta Light Horse band, the Med Hatters big band, the MH Symphony, my own jazz quartet and taught music on Saturday afternoons.  Later, I organized and led the University of Alberta Big Band.  I was a busy lad, playing at rehearsals and dances, but these activities, along with summer jobs, helped to finance my quest to become a physician.


When in grade 10, I went on a blind date with a sweet girl named Patsy Turvey.  This was to a drive-in theater featuring a Tarzan movie.  She was more interested in Tarzan than me, but love blossomed – we recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary!  We have two daughters, Laura and Kirsten and, 9 years after Kirsten, we had two sons, Olaf Jr. and Graham.  We also have two granddaughters in New Zealand (Kirsten and Shawn Dunn’s Shenna and Nissa) and a granddaughter and grandson in Ottawa (Graham and Carole’s Juliette and Erik) and one on the way in NZ (Olaf and Tammy).  Laura and Carm didn’t have children and they live on an acreage near Ottawa.  They have retired early and enjoy life with their pets and RV. 


IMG_0162.JPG (2)For the first years of our marriage we lived with very little money while attending university in Calgary and Edmonton.  Fortunately, on the advice of one of my uncles, I joined the RCAF and that fine organization subsidized my studies from then on, so we didn’t have to worry about finances any more.  Graduating with an MD in 1967, I interned at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and, upon completion, was posted as a Medical Officer to Rivers and then to Portage la Prairie, both bases in Manitoba.  I was fortunate enough to receive training in leadership and other military courses and then to qualify as a paratrooper and a pilot.  As a pilot, I flew military fixed wing aircraft and qualified on helicopters before flying jets out of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  So my dreams of flying were finally realized, albeit having taken a more circuitous route than originally intended.  I would not trade my time in the military for anything and most of our best friends were met during our various postings.  I left the military with the rank of major (or squadron leader).


Although I loved life in the Armed Forces, I was offered a position attached to the Department of Transport who offered to send me for post graduate studies in aviation medicine in England.  How could I refuse!!  So, Pat, the girls and I headed off in 1973/74 to live in Farnborough after visiting relatives and spending Christmas in Norway.  We picked up a Volvo station wagon in Sweden and were able to tour much of England, Scotland and Wales on weekends.  As the course was extremely demanding, I had to study really hard during the week so we could get away.  We also drove through many countries in Europe.


I worked for Civil Aviation Medicine for 8 years, residing in Winnipeg and then Ottawa.  I became a participant in teams that worked on aircraft accidents in Canada and abroad and, because of this experience, became an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California who used my book “Cause Factor Human” as a textbook, lecturing several times per year for 20 years.  I also taught at the Royal Technical Institute in Stockholm each June for 14 years and was fortunate enough to teach in countries such as Jordan, South Africa, Malaysia, Spain, Mexico, Finland and others.  Pat and the kids were able to join me on many of these excursions.


In 1982 I was recruited by Air Canada and became the Chief Medical Officer and was also in charge of ground safety.  My team created several programs enhancing the health and safety of employees and passengers, (I think that my crowning achievement was to introduce non-smoking flights.)  resulting in Canada Post Corporation head-hunting me to create similar programs for that organization.   So we moved from Montreal back to Ottawa and have been here for 21 years (this is our 14th home!).  In 1996, we purchased an occupational health clinic here in Ottawa.  I was happy to return to medical practice and Pat ran the mobile clinic, performing hearing tests and lung function tests for various industries in the region.  We sold the business 6 years ago.


HarleyPat and I were infected with West Nile Fever while visiting the ‘Hat six years ago.  Pat’s case was relatively mild, but I had the neurological syndrome, forcing me to retire from medical practice.  I also had to give up motorcycling, an activity that took us across the continent 7 times and allowed us to explore fascinating places and meet many wonderful friends.  My beautiful soul candy, a Harley-Davidson, is languishing in the garage but will be sold this year.  We also sailed in the Thousand Island area of the St. Lawrence River for 20 years, perhaps as a result of a genetic Viking spirit!


So that’s it in a nutshell, perhaps a pretty long and maybe boring nutshell.  I would not change anything in my life, maybe the exception being the West Nile problem.  Our offspring are all doing well and we are very proud of them.  I have had a varied and interesting career and life, not bad for a wee lad from Bindloss!


I hope that you will write and fill me in on your life and perhaps tell me what you know about other folks that we knew in Bindloss.  In the meantime take care and I wish you health and happiness.




P1020374"The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still."

A poem found in the pocket of Al Capone’s lawyer after he had testified against Al and was shot.