This summer has been a time for introspection. A time for looking at what has gone well and what hasn’t. While I don’t have the time or desire to share everything, I can sum up much of my thoughts using the words of others.

The first is quote. I’m currently reading “Seeing What Others Don’t” by Gary Klein. (Available from Indigo/Chapters: Here ) In this book, there is the story of Barry Marshall, the Australian physician who discovered that ulcers where caused by a bacteria. At the time, doctors believed that stress caused ulcers and either prescribed pills or performed some very serious surgery. It took Marshall 12 years to convince his peers. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2005. According to Klein, ‘In his acceptance speech he quoted the historian Daniel Boorstin: “The greatest obstacle to knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.”‘

For the second thought, I am going to link to a video. It is a TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth. Dr. Duckworth is a psychologist who studies grit. This talk really resonated with me. As I looked to where I had done better in life, I can say that grit was always a major factor. The talk is here: Angela Lee Duckworth on the Key to Success

In Toronto, the city-run ambulance service is formally referred to as the “Emergency Medical Service”. I took a photo of the EMS logo on the side of one of their ambulances. (See above.)

The E and S are very clear, while the M is made up from the triangles. It is clever, but for reasons I’m not sure, I see ELVIS. (See below.)


I don’t which Elvis. Presley?… Costello?… Stojko?…

Today I learned the expression “wronger than wrong”. It is from the legendary science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. He wrote an essay in response to someone who questioned his belief in scientific progress. Essentially, he was challenged to defend his views that there is progress if science is constantly redefining its theories. From Asimov’s essay:

This particular thesis was addressed to me a quarter of a century ago by John Campbell, who specialized in irritating me. He also told me that all theories are proven wrong in time.

My answer to him was, “John, when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”

The basic trouble, you see, is that people think that “right” and “wrong” are absolute; that everything that isn’t perfectly and completely right is totally and equally wrong.

However, I don’t think that’s so. It seems to me that right and wrong are fuzzy concepts, and I will devote this essay to an explanation of why I think so.

The entire essay is interesting. You can find it here: The Relativity of Wrong

Feeling sorry for yourself can be as addictive as any drug. It is natural to feel sad when bad things happen to you and it is proper to have some empathy for the suffering of others, but when self-pity becomes your dominant state of mind, you could find yourself in a downward spiral into despondency. You miss the joy around you. You miss the happiness that is there for you to partake. And, you miss being you to the fullest.

For me, the solution is in two parts. The first is to mourn what you have to mourn. The second is to quickly follow that with inspiration from those who have gone through more. If you are a Christian, you know there plenty of stories of saints that have endured much and rose above their suffering. (There are similar stories in other traditions.)

Recently, I discovered Maurice Tillet. Tillet was a professional wrestler, but that wasn’t his first career choice. He wanted to be a lawyer. Born in 1903 to French parents in Russia, Maurice’s cherub-like face earned him the nickname “The Angel”. He was a normal teenager until, at age 17, he was diagnosed with acromegaly. Acromegaly is a hormonal condition that results in body parts growing disproportionately large. It prevented him from studying law. Instead, he joined the navy. In one of his trips, someone convinced him to become a wrestler.

As a wrestler his unusual looks were an asset. His nickname was “The French Angel” and as ferocious as he may have been in the ring, outside he was a kind and compassionate person. He was a top draw and even become a world champion inspiring imitators. There is even a rumour that he inspired the look of Shrek. (Take a look at the photo below.)

For me, what I find inspiring about Maurice Tillet is that he is the embodiment of taking a bad situation and making something good out of it. I would write more, but I feel like making some lemonade.


I’ve always been the kind of person who eats the main meal before eating dessert. That was true for me even as a young kid. Don’t get me wrong. I like dessert, especially if it has some (or a lot of) chocolate. And, just because I eat my veggies first, doesn’t mean I don’t consider dessert important.

Since the previous paragraph is less about food and more about life, it is probably very obvious that I’m getting ready to share a little philosophy. Here it is: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.” I didn’t invent that, and since I have been listening to Van Morrison’s “Down The Road” album, I’m sure that CD was my most recent exposure to the expression. (There is a song on the album called, “All Work and No Play”.)

It was a busy January, February and March. My focus was on work, because it had to be. But, there is a reason for all that work and that is leisure. (I’d like to thank my alleged ancestor, Aristotle, for that insight.) So, even though my weekdays, weekends and weeknights had me consumed with work-related matters, my mind was dreaming of new things to do, to write, to draw, to make and to enjoy. And, especially to spend more time with the woman who has been patiently waiting for me.

I’ve also learend that there is always time to be good to yourself. That time is now.

Below is a link to a TED talk by Yves Morieux. In the talk, he mentions that Jorgen Vig Knudstrop (CEO of Lego) has a saying, “Blame is not for failure, it is for failing to help or ask[ing] for help.” I agree with that statement, but I would change the second part to “failing to get help”. In that way it would include, “failing to make it easy for others to help you.” I’ve seen this kind of failure. Whether it comes from stubborn pride or a poor character, it’s just sad. Picture a man who can’t swim who has somehow fallen into the sea. Then, when someone comes by to help, the drowning man starts to curse his potential saviour all the while denying that there is anything wrong. How do you help such a person?

In a roundabout way, this reminded me of some advice from a former boss. My boss’s brother was an auto mechanic. From time-to-time a customer would come in to shop with a very strong opinion about what was wrong his car. (It was almost always men who had these unflinching views.) For example, if the car is having fuel injector problems, but the customer might be insisting the mechanic replace the transmission. What should the mechanic do? What if he only fixes the fuel injector, but then, a week later, something really does go wrong with the transmission. The mechanic looks like an idiot. My boss felt that the customer was forcing the mechanic to do work that wasn’t needed. (Assuming the mechanic actually did replace the transmission, he could at least sleep well at night convinced that he only did what the customer wanted.) His advice was don’t be a know-it-all.

So, before I become a know-it-all, I’ll finish with what I take away from this: “Be nice and be humble.”

Here is the TED Talk (12m02s)
Yves Morieux – TED Talk

As I write this post, I’m in the middle of a cold. As far as colds go, this one hasn’t been that bad. (My primary symptom is a stuffed nose.) On the other hand, I am lucky to have gone flu-free this winter season… so far. I went to the flu clinic in early November. The photo below shows the number I got from the Turn-O-Matic dispensing machine. It failed to scare me and I bravely went ahead and got a flu shot. I wish everyone good health in 2014!

Is this ticket trying to scare me?

Is this ticket trying to scare me?


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