What A Fine Mess We’ve Got Ourselves Into, Ollie


(Scroll to the bottom of this link: https://jimbobalouie.wordpress.com/essays-on-education/ for that BLOG)AAAAAAAOLLIE

In that essay I stated this:

“Teacher unions are at the precipice. I am urging you to tread lightly and softly as you go forward with your strategic plans, remembering that this is a struggle between adults and that students should never be caught in the middle. I believe a work to rule protest will be a “lose-lose” situation if it includes denying volunteer activities for students.”

What I advocated for was a change in course, the evolution of a new paradigm and innovative methods that reflect the realities of the times.

“These battles should be fought locally through board negotiations and public relations, team-building and public consensus building province wide, all of which will pay political dividends at election time. New and creative strategies need be developed that recognize the dynamics of this cyber-quick communication world we live in; the economics brought about by recession, and in the end, common sense.

We need grassroots’ parents and the general public with us, not against us. We need a truer understanding of the value of a teacher and good teaching. Positive kids, positive parents and positive schools will create a tsunami of support for positive teachers in the schools.”

I introduced the concept of the Teacher Manager and how a change in viewpoint could bring about a different focus on the role and responsibilities inherent in teaching.

But, alas, no one took that suggestion and we find ourselves once again mired in continuing conflict. ETFO’s battle now is being fought on many fronts and may no longer be winnable. You have government legislating away your rights and demeaning you, you BBjTAu0CEAASzJKhave the public and parents outraged, you have teacher bashers dominating the media, you have two Boards of Education taking you to the ORLB publically slagging your union’s tactics, you’ve already lost two huge battles at the OLRB and you have a Court battle looming.  The rank and file are spread so thin that every front is one big push away from retreat. The whole situation is starting to resemble a “house of cards” – teetering to yet tumble.

I ask you, “Where are the victories? Where is the progress?  What IS the end game?

And, the worst part of all is that I see teachers on media sites, on bulletin boards and the like, trying to defend the profession against some of the most vicious attacks imaginable. Too many of their responses feed into the frenzy and actually do little more than confirm the complaints from these public sources. I admire their passion but often their words throw gas on the fires of retribution, and that is very sad indeed.

I also see teacher friends downhearted and depressed, starting to second guess their choice of profession. These people are all excellent teachers who value kids, value education and put their heart and soul into their job. That is so very sad, to me! It is also unconscionable.

This is like a ship without a rudder, sailing willy-nilly, in a storm of enormous proportions.  In my view, there is no strong hand on the till. It is sink or swim with little or no margin for error. As the magnet on our fridge door proclaims, “The flogging will continue until morale improves!”

Indeed, each and every day the flogging DOES continue and frontline teachers are taking the brunt of the lashes. This whole situation is like death by a thousand cuts.

But, why is that?

Why are the losses mounting?imagesCA0R8PT2

Union walks away from table. Government threatens with Bill 115. Government terms imposed.  Democracy goes in the toilet. A LOSS

Locals attempt to negotiate with boards but parameters of 115 prevent any possible progress. A LOSS

One day walkouts incite negative reactions. Teacher bashing reaches new highs creating new lows in morale. A Loss

December OLRB decision goes against OSSTF. (More on this later) A LOSS

Withdrawing voluntary involvements creates a huge increase in rhetoric and brings teacher bashing, media whining and negativity to an all-time high.  Parents and students alienated and caught in the crossfire. School morale plummets. Teacher’s spirits fall in the dumpster. A LOSS

Proposed political action day in January squelched by OLRB ruling calling said action illegal.  A LOSSAAAALOSER

30 000 protest at the Liberal Convention –Kathleen Wynn states the imposed contracts won’t be changed but there might be dialogue. Talk is cheap. A LOSS

Two school boards take ETFO to the Ontario Labour Relations Board calling withdrawal of EC’s a strike action. If they win this case all bets are off for EC’s going forward. This could be a HUGE LOSS.

And so, the ball keeps rolling, gathering steam as it heads to certain destruction. So far, this round of non-negotiation has been a total and complete no-win situation.

If you are losing every battle wouldn’t that suggest that soon you are about to lose the war? Wouldn’t a regrouping, a rearming and a refocus be in order before the white flag inevitably goes up? Maybe there are other means toward reaching your end? Perhaps unions need to, as I keep saying, “REWIND AND GO FASTFORWARD.”

Folks, there are no guarantees that the Supreme Court battle can be won. Rank and File.ca had this to say about these court battles.

“While ETFO and OSSTF job action other than work-to-rule appears to be screeching to a halt, the court challenge against Bill 115 will continue. As has been pointed out before, this challenge could take many years. In such circumstances, Martin Luther King Jr.’s observation “justice too long delayed is justice denied” rings true. BC teachers affected by anti-democratic Liberal legislation in 2002 had to wait eight years until the legislation itself was thrown out by the courts only to have the government return with similar anti-union legislation against teachers in March 2012.” http://rankandfile.ca/?p=582

Furthermore, the article goes on to give evidence of past battles and how they might affect the current struggle. The consequences of these notions might scare you, if not at least give you pause to think about where your leaders are “leading” you.

Rankandfile.ca directs its readers to this well-written, highly-readable article by former long-time Osgoode Hall law professor Harry Glasbeek who examined how Ontario’s teachers succeeded in the courts against attempts by the Tory government of Premier Mike Harris to have the illegal strike stopped by injunctions. Glasbeek draws two very important conclusions that are particularly relevant today:

 1.The legal victory by teachers against Harris’s attempt at injunctions was limited and highly influenced by specific circumstances and events.

 2.“the architecture of the law does not lend itself to building a movement for political action by workers and their unions” Class War: Ontario Teachers and the Courts: Harry J. Glasbeek: Osgood Hall Law Journal, Vol.37, No.4 (1999)

untitledThe more interesting opinions to read are those written by Bernard Fishbein, Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board in his ruling against OSSTF’s complaint this past December (2012). There is a lot of “stuff” in this ruling (35 pages worth) that might just scare the beejeebies out of you.

Yes, this is the guy who ruled the political action walkout in January was illegal and now is considering whether the withdrawal of EC’s is, in fact, STRIKE ACTION.

Here’s just one such statement in Fishbein’s OSSTF Ruling that should make you think twice about where all of this protest and litigation is heading. If you take the time to read the entire decision you may get a better sense for where we are headed.

52. Even if I leave aside the legislative aspect of the Government conduct – and the Putting Students First Act is the legislative response that the Government stated from the outset to a failure to reach MOUs or framework agreements in the PDT process – there is no dispute that the Government’s conduct was also part of its fiscal policy and educational policy. The Government not only wished to control how much of its resources were to be allocated but also how those resources would be allocated. Not only does the Province under the constitution have plenary power to enact laws in relation to education (see OECTA v. Ontario (Attorney General), [2001] 1 S.C.R. 470) but as the earlier quote from Brant Haldimand-Norfolk District School Board, supra, demonstrates, for over the last ten years, as the effect of the Government (and no longer the district school boards) being the primary funder of public education permeated through the system, Government policies and desired outcomes have impacted on many items previously the subject (primarily if not solely) of local collective bargaining. That does not make this any less governmental policy action. A fundamental aspect of democratic government is still the right (if not obligation) of Government to establish budgets and set fiscal priorities and to determine how to allocate scarce government resources.

Lose this current OLRB battle and it will be three strikes and you are out at the OLRB.

X- Political Action, X- OSSTF Complaint and X- EC’s as Strike Action.

And, the losses mount.

Do you think you can handle two more years of this stress and consternation? Do you really think the Federations are beating a dead horse?

Should we not first REWIND (Bring the Federation into the New Millenium), and then and only then, GO FASTFORWARD (Applying methods and practices that work)?

Maybe there is a better way?

I concluded that September 2012 Essay with these words.

Teacher unions over the years have got teacher wages, benefits and conditions to the pinnacle. Many good strategies worked to get us to that point. But now, the fight is not about contract gains it is about contract strips. That is why new approaches and new strategic plans are necessary. It is time to rethink and revamp the role of the Teacher Federations.

That is why the focus of union efforts should be to celebrate teaching and education and demonstrate that teachers are “worthy” of these so called “perks”.  The public and politicians are too focused on the “WHAT WE GET” not on the “WHAT WE GIVE” as educators.

This still rings true for me. What we give must be highly valued if we are to defend political attacks. Otherwise, it will be business as usual as governments trample rights and teacher bashers remain the choir the politicians preach to.

SCHOOLI also challenge you to ask your Federations how much money they have spent on lawyers, negative advertising and political action organization, compared to what they have spent on celebrating excellence in teaching and building positive consensus in the school community.

Just saying!

If you don’t feel like digesting the 35 pages in the OSSTF OLRB ruling here’s the summary they provide with all the legalese.

Oh, my!

Education Act

– Parties – Prima Facie motion – Unfair Labour Practice – OLRB

OSSTF brought a complaint against the Crown and Ministers of the Crown (including in their personal capacities) concerning the government issuance of a document for use at the Provincial Discussion Table (PDT), setting out the collective agreement results the government wished in the educational sector, including wage and grid freezes and changes to the ability to bank and cash out sick leave credits on retirement – The complaint alleged that the government’s actions in making public statements with respect to its PDT positions constituted a failure to bargain in good faith and other breaches of the Act – The government took the position that the Crown was not bound by the Act (Crown immunity), the issues were not justiciable, and there was no prima facie case – The Board closely followed an earlier decision in Ontario (Premier) and dismissed the complaint pursuant to s. 4(2) of the Act, finding the Act does not bind the Crown and there was no point to any evidentiary hearing – Again following Ontario (Premier), the Board did not find the government’s role in the PDT process and in its efforts to build consensus or secure acquiescence on its political agenda to be a justiciable issue – Finally, the facts as alleged did not make out a case: the Crown was not the employer; the district school boards were – Nor was there anything pled to form the basis to conclude that the Crown was acting at the behest of the district school boards (assuming this to be possible given Crown immunity) – Application dismissed


That does not make this any less governmental policy action. A fundamental aspect of democratic government is still the right (if not obligation) of Government to establish budgets and set fiscal priorities and to determine how to allocate scarce government resources.



The most intelligent and detailed debate I’ve found on these issues can be found at Anne Kidder’s People for Education Website. Really insightful thinking can be found there. The debate is smart and constructive. (35 pages worth of comments from educators and the like) Take a look at:

CLICK: http://discuss.peopleforeducation.ca/forum/topics/bill-115-teachers-parents-and-the-province?commentId=2468495%3AComment%3A58860&xg_source=activity



The Fourth Way: A New View of What’s Needed in Education -Valued Educators Leading the Way

Found this link while following Lisa Mastrobuono (@LisaMastrob) Twitter feed regarding the Ontario Relations Board hearing regarding extracurricular activities and whether it was a strike bulletin or directive from ETFO to stop these activities. ( Issued on January 14th.)imagesCAYSTR6B

Here’s an academic view of what is needed as a Fourth Movement in Education. Click the link and read it if you are a teacher. I found it very revealing and certainly positive in terms of how I view teaching and education.

The Global Search for Education: What Is the Fourth Way?


SCHOOLAlso, if you are a teacher and have TWITTER you need to follow Lisa’s (@LisaMastrob) description of what is happening at the OLRB hearing this week. That decision could have great effects upon how extracurricular activities and the defined role of teacher duties is approached going forward. Two boards are claiming that ETFO has forced teachers to stop these activities and thereby promoting illegal strike action.

For an alternate view of the proceedings you can follow a Toronto Star reporter at @louisebrownstar on Twitter. Interesting contrast!


The hearing wraps up today. Believe me some of the arguments presented there are scary. You need to know what is being said and what might be proposed out of this decision.

Confined to Barracks: Grumpy on Restricted Duty


Confined to Barracks: Grumpy on Restricted Duty


Grumpy discovered early that probably the most difficult part of cataract surgery was going to be the restrictions imposed upon him in the first days/weeks following being poked in the eye. He has literally spent three days confined to his recliner staring at the ceiling, walls and his big screen TV.

Playing “Eye Spy with My Little Eye” (Grumpy still requires his patch/shield) with Pumba the Farting dog is about his only amusement.

“I spy with my little eye something that is blue!”


“You’re freezing cold, Pumba!”100_0222_xlarge

“Woof, Woof!”

“Ah, now you’re getting warmer!”

“Woof, woof, woof!”

Well, you get the picture.

You see you can’t lift any heavy objects, bend over, or lean forward throughout the beginnings of the healing process. It all has to do with eye pressure. I guess if the pressure gets too high something’s going to blow. No one wants their shiny new intraocular lens to move or, for that matter, generate a detached retina. You are fairly scolded about the possibility of this.

“Absolutely NO picking up heavy objects, Mr. Grumpy!” the nurse snarls. ”We don’t want anything to move in that eye!”

Well apparently that eye of yours is attached to every freaking part of your body. The restrictions for keeping it pristine are monumental.

You can’t burp, fart, cough, sneeze, hick-up, puke, laugh, poop (no straining), drive a car or have sex for varying amounts of time. Hell, this is a list of just about all of the favorite things an old fart like me likes to do.

The only consolation is that drinking beer is NOT on the list. That will make the “Eye Spy Games” far more interesting for Pumba.

I-sh shh-py wish (hick) my widdle eye-sh shomshing tash ish (hick) over there shome wheres. Sheek Pumba, sheek! (Burp)!”

If I can control the burps and hiccups I’ve got it made in the shade.

The funny part was that the nurse told me only part of the story. She kept saying, “These aren’t all of the restrictions you will get. The DOCTOR will give you specific instructions on the print out, Mr. Grumpy!” You see the part about no sex and pooping was on the sheet and not offered up by the nurse verbally.

Given that most of the folks here are in their seventies and eighties, I can see why they did this. No nurse on this good earth wants to tell a cantankerous octogenarian male, and to his face, that he can’t poop or have sex.

In the recovery room beside me an aged gentleman illustrated the logic of this reasoning. The old guy was breaking the bend over rule in spades.

NURSE: Bob, you can put your pants on now.

BOB: Grunt

NURSE: You’re bending over, Bob. You can’t do that.high pnts

BOB: Grunt

NURSE: You’re bending over again, Bob. You are not to lean forward.

BOB: Huh!

NURSE: Bob, stop leaning forward.

BOB: Go take a bun, lady!

(“Take a bun!” was my Grandmother’s polite way of saying shut up!)

Cataract surgery favours our civil servants and white collar workers. You see when it comes to work here are the Laws of Ophthalmology.


Work – if desk work –next day.

Work – manual work – 10 days

Hair Dresser – 3 days

I think the list should have also included: RETIRED– return to normal inactivity.

For those who are interested the list of activity restrictions goes like this: driving – 3 days, golfing, lawn bowling, swimming – 2 weeks, flying -2 weeks, sex-2 weeks, grass cutting -2 weeks, diving– 4 weeks, heavy lifting – 4 weeks, and avoiding constipation – 4 weeks.

Now, as you can see, this might create some decision making dilemmas for some folks.

Our old friend, Bob the Leaner, after two weeks just might be thinking, “Hmmmm, should I have sex, go golfing or should I cut the lawn? Nah, I’d better not. I haven’t pooped in three days!”

While recovering you are also required to put two kinds of drops in your eyes to control inflammation. One is Prednisolone (a steroid). I haven’t noticed any improved definition in my musculature, though. But man, can I book it flat out on a stationary bike. Look out Lance Armstrong!

The other eye drop is Ketorolac Tromethamine. This is the one the pharmacist, the nurse and the Doctors all say “Stings a bit!” Well, I guess! Put it this way: take the sensation of the “Burning Ring-of-Fire” you get during your morning constitutional after eating a meal of Jalapeno peppers and stick that in your eye.

Forget about waterboarding torture, because spies should all be given a vial of Ketorolac Tromethamine if they want to extract information from the enemy.

“No, no, I’ll tell you everything if you stop putting those damn drops in my eyes! PLEASE ”

But, despite these frustrations, today is a great day for Grumpy. He can remove the shield and go patch-less and the bonus is that he can return to driving. And, do you know what? Two weeks from now he’ll be able to forget all of this inconvenience, get up and get going and re-establish his mojo, if you catch my drift.

Yes, Grumpy fully intends to take up lawn bowling!bowling

THE SIDEBAR: Which Eye is it Mr. Grumpy?

Grumpy has a fairly good memory. He remembers that on his first day of school, in kindergarten, the whole class went outside to play the game “What time is it Mr. Wolf?”

What a great game for five year olds.

Fifty-seven years later, in Tillsonburg Hospital, he encountered a new but similar game for senior citizens. That game is called, “Which eye is it, Mr. Grumpy?”

You see we humans are blessed with two of many useful body parts. For example, you have two arms, two legs, two ears, two knees, two hips, two kidneys and, if you are male – two “onions”. But, for the purpose of this discussion we will confine our description to the fact that we also have two eyes; a right one and a left one.

If you’ve ever had surgery on any one of these “twos” you know that the hospital staff make sure they get it right when they get you on the table and the Doctor is ready to make that first incision.

Here’s how it went for me.

NURSE: So, Mr. Grumpy, can you confirm that your surgery is to be performed on your RIGHT eye?


Ten minutes later.

NURSE: Can you point to the eye that you are to have surgery upon?

GRUMPY: (Points to right eye.)

Ten minutes later.

NURSE: Mr. Grumpy, can you wink at me with the eye you are to have surgery upon?

GRUMPY: Mam, isn’t that a little forward?

NURSE: Just do it!

GRUMPY: (Winks)

Ten minutes later.

NURSE: Mr. Grumpy would you please stand by the bed and stamp your foot three times on the side where you are to have surgery upon your eye?

And so it went, over and over again for the entire time I was in pre-op.

Really, after about the tenth time, I was beginning to doubt myself. Maybe I was all wrong. What if I was telling them to operate on the eye scheduled for surgery in March? Why do they keep asking me the same damn question? Isn’t this written down somewhere?

I remember that when I had knee surgery many years ago the nurse marked that knee with some kind of Sharpie-like pen. I also know that tattoos are often used by surgeons to guide them into the proper territory.

imagesSo, I have a plan for my surgery on my left eye in March. I’m going to take a washable Sharpie and draw a big black circle around that left eye. I’ll look a lot like the Little Rascal’s dog Pete or “Petee” as he was so often called. Ladies and gentleman, it says here that there will be no mistaking which eye is to be done.

NURSE: So, Mr. Grumpy, can you confirm that your surgery is to be performed on your LEFT eye?

GRUMPY: (Defiant, pointing to black circle) Figure it out!

NURSE: (Arms crossed against here chest, finger wagging) Now, Mr. Grumpy, I need you to confirm verbally which eye is to have surgery today. I need to know NOW!imagesCA6431CK

GRUMPY: (Smiling like a bird dog.) Go take a bun, lady!

NURSE: You see this vial of Super Duper Fast Acting Extra Strength Ketorolac Tromethamine I’m holding in my hand? I need you to open BOTH eyes!

GRUMPY: (Cowering under the sheets) No, no, please, not that! That would be my left eye, mam! LEFT EYE (Grumpy points,winks, stamps left foot on bed)

NURSE: (Returns the vial to her breast pocket) Thank you, Mr. Grumpy. And, do have a nice day!

Poked in the Eye with a Sharp Stick: Grumpy’s Cataract Surgery

Well, despite the fact that my first cataract surgery is done, I’m still blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other. That, of course, is because of the eye shield I’m currently wearing on my operated eye. Here’s a little description of what went down Wednesday, proving you can find humour in anything that happens in your life.



Poked in the Eye with a Sharp Stick:  Grumpy’s Cataract Surgery

Have you ever played Blind Man’s Bluff?cataract

Well I’ve been playing that game all morning here at Tillsonburg Hospital. Yes, today I had cataract surgery #1 –RIGHT EYE –done like dinner.

I had known about the surgery for a couple of weeks so, like any GOOGLE-FANATIC, I decided to be proactive and learn about exactly what was going to be done to me.  I had to understand what cataract surgery was all about. I didn’t want to go in to surgery blind, you see! (Hey, I’m not trying to be PUNNY here!)

What I found was a narrated video of an actual cataract surgery –start to finish.

Well that was a bad move from the get-go, friends, because once I saw the live action video on YouTube, I started to have more than a few second thoughts!

Like how many of those micro probing tools can they shove into your eyeball without doing any major damage? Talk about being poked in the eye with a sharp stick.

All I heard was how the surgeon was going to cut out this, suction that, ultrasound something else, while all at once probing a miniscule incision with various micro tools and sharp objects. I can’t imagine a person with steady enough hands to do that can you?

surgeryGrumpy also has less than fond memories of dissecting that cow eye back in high school biology, swirling around in his head. He remembers that cutting through those tissues seemed like sawing through shoe leather. Pass me the hand saw will you, Bob!

So, you get the picture, Grumpy shot himself in the foot royally and developed some big-time apprehension and a lot of white coat fever. No wonder his pulse was one beat less than 100 and his blood pressure was spiked when the pre-op nurse was getting him prepped. I’m sure he looked like an anxious five year old in those little green booties and not-so-stylish hairnet thing-a-ma-jig.

Anyway, it’s after surgery now and Grumpy doesn’t remember a thing about what happened. For all I know, they probed my right eye ad infinitum.SURGERY 005

That’s because drugs are good and sedation is even better. The nurse kept telling me that, “You’ll be very comfortable during this surgery, sir!” and “Most people sleep through the entire procedure!”

I soon found out that she was right. Surgery is very comfortable when you’re flat out stoned and as high as a kite.


I was told that I would be sedated for this surgery and that I surely was. Upon investigation I found this out.

TWILIGHT ANESTHESIA: This type of anesthesia is used for short, relatively minor medical procedures and is also known as conscious sedation or twilight anesthesia. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you know what’s going on, though — you’ll be sleepy and relaxed. You typically won’t remember the procedure or the short period of time following it.

So, it’s sort of like why I don’t remember a lot about 1969, I guess.

After I woke up in the operating room the surgeon asked, “How do you feel?”

I said, “Oh, wow, what a difference I can see so much better!”

“Well, I’m not so sure you’ll notice that yet, Mr. Grumpy, since your operated eye is covered with a protective shield.”

That’s about the time I burst out laughing and started really craving pepperoni pizza.

They wheeled me into recovery where I was supposed to stay for 30-45 minutes. But as soon as the bed’s wheels stopped turning they brought in my daughter, her spouse and my grandbaby, Ryder. I guess the nurse thought passing over this sniggering old goat to them was the best possible outcome for her.

My daughter said I giggled a lot through the next fifteen minutes. That’s when I had to get dressed. I remember sitting up in the bed while the nurse put on my shoes. I’m sure seven month old Ryder was thinking, “Papa’s a just like me! He needs his mommy to push on his shoes, too.”

I guess my speech was pretty slurred because my daughter said, “You sound like your stoned, Dad!” Well, I can attest to that because that’s exactly how I felt.

The gibberish I was trying to type for text on my cellphone had me correcting every single word about ten times and, of course, I was snickering all the while.

Like this one to the Good Wife:

Owt a surbury fellin purdy got  – seeeee you coon, hoani! Lub you Grimey xoygox

I guess I wouldn’t stop jabbering all the way out to the car and throughout the ride home.

When we got home I couldn’t get my coat off. It seemed as if the zipper was jammed. Just before Grumpy got into curse-mode, my daughter came over to assist. She too burst out laughing.

You see I was wearing a winter coat with a zip up sweat shirt underneath (senior citizen style). I had zipped the underneath wear to the overcoat jamming the unmatched zippers majorly.

snowsuitI felt like a kindergarten kid in a snowsuit as my daughter struggled to release me from my straitjacket. Remembering Robert Munch I wanted to scream, “Hurry teacher, I gotta go pee!”

Later, the great and powerful Oz punished me for that thought. You see I peed on myself twice that day due to the lingering effects of my conscious sedation. No matter, I laughed my ass off at that little faux pas, too.


When you have this type of sedation you are supposed to have 24 hour supervision just in case you have a “conscious sedation” flashback and slip back into unconscious bliss.

Well, that wasn’t quite going to work for Grumpy seeing as the Good Wife had an important Teacher Union meeting after school in Brantford. So, Grumpy came up with this idea.

“I’ll go with you to your meeting, honey. You can just drop me off at the mall and I’ll hang out there.”

Grumpy’s logic was that there would be plenty of supervision there (shoppers, sales clerks, security). If he hit the floor help would arrive in a nanosecond. That’s a win-win situation for anyone post-surgery, right.

The only problem with this public supervision was that the public avoided me like the plague. Everyone took a wide birth when they passed me and most averted their eyes. YouSURGERY 006see with a huge eye-shield taped to my face I looked a lot like that Jason dude from that horror movies series.

The other reason for their distance could have been that I thought it would be funny to talk like a pirate, seeing as I had the prerequisite eye patch.

“AAAAArrrrrgh, me matey.  Tis a fine wind at me back for strollin’”

When I went up to purchase my food at the A and W booth the poor teenage girl couldn’t look at me. Not once.

I’m sure she thought I carried a chainsaw under my coat.

“Thank ye, lassie. Tis great day for a stout root beer, methinks. Shiver me timbers!”

Later as I sat on a bench, I young mother and her five year old strolled by.

The young lad turned to his mother and asked, “Mommy, what happened to the poor SURGERY 008man?”

She whispered, as they both quickened their step, “It’s alright, sweetie. But remember, it’s not polite to stare!”

Believe me, if I had a dollar for every person that did stare that night, I could have had one heck of a shopping spree at the Dollarama.

Later, because I was getting tired of walking and I thought that security cameras might be deeming my behavior as suspicious, I slipped into the book store for a walk-a-bout. I got a great idea there. I would buy a journal and a pen then I’d sit on a bench in the mall and start to write this BLOG. If I passed-out I’d simply slink onto the bench.

That’s about the time the image of a desheveled senior, wearing an eye shield, writing in a notebook whilst staring down with one eye, mumbling like Captain Hook and then slithering down onto a bench – unconscious – stopped me in my tracks.


And so, another great Grumpy idea bit the dust.

Oh well, “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!” to that!

I’ll leave you with these images of surgery day to ponder and reflect upon. Really, everything went very well and I would recommend this surgery to anyone. The restoration of clear vision is simply amazing.

Well at least I think so. I’ll have a better idea when I can take this damned eye shield off for good!

NEXT UP: I’ll give you the lowdown on post-operative procedures next time around. I did find some humour in all of that double-speak and prescribed rigmarole.

Stay Classy.


PART ONE : Fear of Flying – Grumpy Style

PART ONE : Fear of Flying – Grumpy Style

AAjetWhy fly when you can walk, run, drive, motor, train, bus or bike from point A to point B? Grumpy is about to give you the scoop on that.flyfear

Let’s set out our parameters first. We’ll move from the philosophical to the logical in an attempt to explain Grumpy’s feelings about commercial flight.

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” –Leonardo da Vinci

Not on your life, Leo. It says here that there is more to taking a plane flight than feeling the bliss. Never did da Vinci envision airport parking, security checks, turbulence, delays, cramped quarters, X-ray machines, luggage limits and trying to pee when your knees are knocking and the closet sized room is moving hither and tither.

More than anything else the sensation is one of perfect peace mingled with an excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost, if you can conceive of such a combination.” — Wilbur Wright

Wilbur, I not only can conceive it, I can truly feel it.

Excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost”, is the nature of the game. However, I feel you could substitute the word “excitement” with any of the following nouns: frustration, distress, anxiety,irritation, claustrophobia and abject fear.

Yes, abject fear strains every one of my nerves to the utmost

The perfect peace he speaks of comes when those wheels finally touch the ground upon landing and the passengers clap and cheer, knowing well they get to live – yet another day. No doubt, there is a certain peace in that.

Now don’t get me wrong, Grumpy does not fear flying. He simply is not a theme park thrill rider and is a more contented human being with his feet planted firmly on the ground. Really, he prescribes to the loathing part when he contemplates the idea of fear and loathing.

LOATHING: (Noun) a strong dislike or disgust; an intense aversion.

Yes, that’s exactly what Grumpy’s talking about! He has an aversion to flying.

So, to begin the first part of this series about flight, Grumpy will share some of his journal entries, written as he prepared himself for an Alaskan Cruise five short years ago. This trip included a five hour flight from Toronto to Vancouver and a 21 hour ship, bus, and plane trip from Anchorage, Alaska to Vancouver and back to Toronto.



Really the reality of flying doesn’t scare me one bit. Is it not the fastest means through which we travel great distances?

Packed in like so many sardines we strap ourselves into those great flying buses and wind our way into the stratosphere. I never once wonder how something that weighs as much as a lake freighter stays up in the air. What’s 40 000 or 50 000 feet anyway –that’s only about eight or nine miles off the ground! (12 or 15 km for those of you who are metrically inclined) Heck, that’s only about the distance from my house to the town of Simcoe –a mere ten minute drive.

Say, what?

For a guy that experiences vertigo on the middle run of a step ladder, flying is a piece of cake.


ONE: Your car will get you to Florida in less than 22 hours. A plane flight takes less than three. Do the math. You get more quality time with you family on a motor trip and – you are the PILOT and the Captain.

Drive – don’t fly.

TWO: You should never drink and drive. You should always “drink” and fly; unless you are the pilot, of course.

I could write a book about this recommendation. My buddy always maintained that flying inebriated was the only way to go. Of course, he’s deceased now and you guessed it, his demise wasn’t triggered by a plane wreck.drunk

Nevertheless, I’m always willing to give the old college try and usually test this theory long before I board the plane or arrive at the airport for that matter.

The problem, of course, is that there are certain effects of altitude which you might have to deal with. The first thing is that the buzz hits you sooner and harder and your bladder fills to a new found capacity. The worst moment occurs when that damn “FASTEN SEATBELT” sign flashes and you have to pee like a racehorse. Have you ever stood in a slow moving line when your bladder is as big as a basketball? Defying gravity doesn’t mean that there is no gravity at all, my friends.

Besides, when a guy tries to pee standing up in a buffeting bathroom, away back in the tail section of an airplane, it’s not unlike trying to pin the tail on the donkey like a 6 years old who is as dizzy as a whirling dervish.AIRPLANEloo

Back splash?

Well, I guess!

How about the suction in those toilets? I swear they launch their contents into outer space. Talk about space junk.

Maybe that’s why Henry David Thoreau foretold, “Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”

Well, look out David, those meteorites you see in the night sky might be frozen ice of a different origin.

THREE: You should always drink and fly but under no circumstance should you drink beer.

Beer is a carbonated gaseous concoction developed purely for land creatures. Take beer in the air and that gas you ultimately need to release expands and contracts with every change in altitude. Now you have a bladder as big as a basketball and a colon stretched as wide as a dirigible. You’re either going to explode or catch fire or both. Releasing the hounds might just set off one of the many detectors in the cabin, making flatulence every bit as dangerous as dynamite hidden in someone’s shoe.

Heaven forbid that they add a new security check for that faux pas!

“Sir, would you please step aside. Our x-Ray indicates that you’re bloated and we’d like to check you’re bowels for flammables!”

FOUR: The mile high club is overrated. It’s hard enough to pee at 50 000 feet let alone try anything else with your equipment.

FIVE: No matter what anyone tells you, it doesn’t matter where you sit on a plane if it crashes – you die.

That’s why the silence on a plane is so all encompassing on take-off and landings. AAAupdownEveryone one of your fellow passengers understood Physics 101 –what goes up must come down. That’s why they coined that oxymoron called a “crash landing”. I don’t think you can have both?


Comedian Ron White has a great story illustrating this very fact.

He’s flying home to LA when the pilot comes on the blower and announces, “We’re not going to land in LA as planned as we must make an emergency landing.”

Very concerned, the fellow sitting beside Ron turns to him and asks, “Where do you think they’re taking us?”

To which Ron replies, “Given the circumstances, probably to the scene of the crash!”

We’ll leave you to ponder these first few TIPS before we move on to the next FLIGHT BLOG. Please do discuss these ideas among yourselves. I invite you to leave a comment, as well. Everyone I know has a story about a flight experience. Really, sharing flight stories probably falls a close second to women sharing their birth experiences, don’t you think?

Hey, can anyone share a story about giving birth on a plane? Now that would really be something. Talk about bloating, basketballs and gravity?

Oh my!

Until the next time, Grumpy says, “Stay classy, my friends!”