June 2011 edition

A Dream of Sagacity in Ottawa (May 2011)

The very good qualities Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic praises David Suzuki for—and then some—are in fact available in one of our national party leaders: Elizabeth May. No need to dream or “fantasize,” Trudy. Just eschew the rest of the media’s shunning of Ms May and the Green Party, and you will help to familiarize Canadians with a woman named by Newsweek as one of the world’s 100 most influential women. Perhaps you can do your part to see that one day soon she is prime minister, since obviously Mr Suzuki never has, and never will apply for the position.

Murray Gudmundson


The Future: Let’s Procrastinate Until Then (May 2011)

I always read and admire Gene Miller’s articles in Focus, and the latest, on the unknowable future, is no exception. The tone is a little glum, almost heartbroken…But how could it be otherwise when one knows what Miller knows, when one perceives the operations of human civilization in the way that he does? “The illusion of administrative triumph over the random and unknowable future”—beautifully written. Thanks again.

I worked my ass off for Elizabeth May in the last election and had a rare triumph in the political arena. Too bad the evil empire got their majority. I suspect we can expect numerous “illusory administrative triumphs” before the unknowable future presents us with a series of devastating economic and environmental catastrophes.

Keep that fine mind churning.

Jim Geiwitz


Refreshed by Gene Miller’s May Focus Magazine grumblings, I arm wrestle ennui to a smackdown and walk all the way downstairs to the office computer (an eMac desktop from—omigawd!—2004) to write this fan letter.

Gene and I could hang out a shingle together: Curmudgeons R Us. Although I am not yet 60 (that doesn’t happen for another two weeks) my social observations are sounding a little crusty…But only about things that are truly nonsensical or bizarre. Viz: I’m an older bar star who can be seen coming and going from the middle-aged dance pub nexus of Swan’s/Bartholomew’s/The Strath (the latter only on Sunday afternoons for the blues jam). 

On approaching The Executive House Hotel, I drive through “The Humboldt Valley.” Dude, wasn’t it just mere years ago that this couple of blocks of windy condo wasteland was a muddy parking lot behind the car rental place for tourists? Yes indeed. I used to park my ancient Volvo there to go dance at Bart’s to a band called Midlife Crisis.

In a very Victorian spirit of youthful sustainability (and because the rest of us can’t make a living as writers without at least several blogs and a controversial YouTube video with two million hits), I am recreating myself as a wellness coach for the 55+ demographic. This is my personal triumph over my own random and unknowable future. Personal coaching in attaining your goals through fitness, food and fun. No computer time required and the “fun” is about more dancing, more wine and lots of sex. It’s good for older folks, just ask Dr Oz.

I’ve heard good things about Mr Miller over the years from my alt-cult friends, so I hope he remains a staunch pundit on stupid phenomena so obvious, yet so rarely grumbled out loud.

Ellen Dechèsne


Fired Up for Revolution…or Painting

A few comments re your May issue of Focus: In a word. Great! I was certainly enlightened by Leslie Campbell’s editorial on venoplasty for MS patients and it is indeed unfortunate our provincial government continues to reveal how inept and close-minded it is in respect to innovative and promising solutions to many of our health issues.

I also enjoyed the Talk of the Town presentation by Zoe Blunt and Mark Worthing  concerning the rezoning application by Peninsula Co-op of which I am a member.

There are so many questionable dealings going on with all our government officials, local and up, and it can be somewhat discouraging to take a stand wondering if I personally can really make a difference.

Case in point is the article by David Broadland on the Johnson Street railway bridge. We (the government) spend countless thousands of dollars “studying” the issues with very little (if anything) ever resolved.

Then I came across the CRD matter as set fourth by Will Horter. Damn! I’m going to have to quit reading this magazine of yours before I really get fired up and start organizing a revolution. Then of course I would be accused of just being an old guy with too much time on my hands. (Partially true although I consider myself a young 73).

Regarding Amy Reiswig’s write-up on Rosemary Neering, I whole heartedly agree that “Life is still pretty damned funny” regardless of the doom and gloom bombardment from the media.

Finally, I love the May issue cover by Ken Faulks and the story on him (“Painting the Sky”) by Amanda Farrell-Low. I am even encouraged to take up painting again.

Larry Gray


Inglorious end to 123 years of rail service

I enjoyed the May edition of Focus. But my jaw dropped when I read the new Johnson Street Bridge will be shorter than advertised. Isn’t there a law against that kind of “bait and switch” sales tactic?

Say a company advertises flat screen TVs at a special price in a newspaper ad and you think that’s a great bargain and you rush right down to the store to buy one. When you get there you find out what’s on sale is actually a smaller unit. But the salesperson, who is excellent at selling TVs, talks you into it anyway. When you get it home you decide you don’t really want a new TV that’s smaller than the one you already have. You are pissed off, and rightly so. Bait and switch is a form of fraud. We understand that when it’s a consumer product like a TV or car. But a bridge?

I remember reading a criticism of the new bridge design, written by Ross Crockford,  before the referendum. Crockford said the design was unproven and so might be unreliable. But his criticisms were dismissed by the City and the engineer managing the project. I went back to Crockford’s website and found what that engineer wrote there before the referendum: “The mechanical system proposed for the Johnson Street Bridge has been tried, tested and proven. The proposed mechanical system is based on solid engineering principles, has been peer reviewed, and has been used in previously designed/constructed structures and applications from heavy industry such as foundries for decades under conditions that are much more aggressive and demanding than anticipated at the Johnson Street Bridge.”

Now that same engineer is recommending the bridge be shorter to avoid problems with reliability and operating costs?! Crockford is now entitled to say, “Told you so.”

Kevin Andrews