Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

26 February, 2017


Exercise for me these days consists of getting out of bed in the morning, taking care of household chores, looking after my ailing wife's needs and excursions shopping for the sustenance of life. This winter I shovel snow only when navigating the white fluffy stuff becomes a virtual impossibility. Why use aching muscles and joints to clear it when I can just plow through it? Right!

As Rosanne's tastes become more spontaneous and finicky, I find myself increasingly settling for food that is of a convenience nature, simply because of the time-saving factor and the effort that it takes to prepare more nutritious meals just for myself.

I also readily acknowledge that I should get a full night's sleep instead of writing until the wee small hours of the morning and opting for cat naps (I call it passing out) through the day.

Because I erroneously consider myself invincible, I chose not to weigh the effect that my current lifestyle may have on my longevity...Up to now, that is.

I read recently that every single second at least one person dies from an age-related condition. What’s more, research estimates that by the year 2020 the percentage of aging-related deaths will increase another 25 percent. To add fuel to my fire, I was further taken aback with the revelation of telltale signs that “Father Time” is closing in on me and knocking on my door, i.e.:

*Skin issues (such as dry skin, age spots, wrinkles, and saggy skin)

*Joint discomfort, stiffness, and/or swelling

*Weakened muscles

*Frail bones

*Memory and other cognitive issues

*Declining vision and auditory skills

*Decreased energy and increased fatigue

*A weakening immune system, leaving you sick more and more often

*An under performing circulatory system

*A cardiovascular system that just can’t support a truly active lifestyle any longer

*Hormonal decline

*Feeling blue and moody

*Dulling, thinning hair

*Loss of muscle tone and a youthful figure

*Slowed metabolism and perpetual weight gain

Fact is, these common concerns and the inescapable reality of aging are no laughing matter. Even worse, there are a host of environmental and lifestyle factors that are constantly preying on the youth of every cell in our bodies:

*UV rays that damage the DNA of skin cells, leading to thinning skin, sun spots, wrinkles, exaggerated expression lines, and even pervasive dryness and itching

*Stress, which sends the age-accelerating hormone cortisol into overdrive

*Mood-related issues which have been linked to as much as a decade of accelerated aging

*Lack of sleep shown to significantly shorten the length of DNA telomeres (AKA your “cellular timekeepers”)

*Too much or too little exercise -- studies show that both the highly active and sedentary populations have similar age-related bio markers as a result of too little or too much of a good thing

*Poor nutrition, leading to a lack of antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals that fight the aging process

*Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) infiltrating our diet which have been linked to poor immune function and accelerated aging

*Excessive Omega-6 fatty acid intake – the most prevalent fatty acid in the North American diet – which has been shown to accelerate aging and significantly increase inflammation

*Highly processed carbohydrates and sugar intake which promote the formation of AGEs (Advanced Glycation End-products). These mutated proteins have been shown to significantly accelerate cellular aging.

*Overeating in general, which produces age-accelerating free radicals

*Alcohol consumption, which decreases the body’s antioxidant activity while at the same time increasing cell-damaging free radicals – a double whammy!

*Being overweight, which by itself leads to a state of increased cell-damaging oxidative stress

*Over-the-counter and prescription medications, a good number of which have been linked to accelerated aging

*Pesticides, herbicides, pollution, and other environmental toxins have all been shown to increase the appearance of skin aging and do damage to delicate skin DNA.

Simply put, the odds are stacked against us...The world we live in today takes what Mother Nature intended to be a much more gradual, graceful aging process full of vitality and longevity, and accelerates it unfairly beyond belief. And when you realize the constant danger the delicate cells of our body and most precious organs are continually being exposed to in today’s day and age, it’s no wonder that research shows the devastating physical consequences of aging are the #1 fear of adults over 40.

The good news is that stimuli and a positive attitude are attributed to "successful" aging more than anything else. (It's not enough to just tick off the birthdays.) Researchers at one time defined successful aging as an absence of or low level of disease and disability. Now, however, a fascinating new study of more than 500 elders aged 60 to 98 challenges that notion. It turns out that people who think they are aging well are not necessarily the healthiest individuals. Optimism and effective coping styles (or attitude) were found to be the keys to aging successfully rather than traditional measures of health and wellness.

The study used subjective reports by the participants, all of whom lived independently, and the sample of individuals matched the national averages of medical and mental health conditions. Also, those who regularly engaged in such activities as reading and writing and community socializing gave themselves higher scores than those who did not. And in contradiction to longtime perceived wisdom, volunteer activities were not found to exert the same influence on participants.

Thus, the things leading to successful aging are well within an individual's control. The key is adopting personal coping mechanisms as difficulties come along, and remaining as physically, socially, and mentally active as possible in one's circumstances.

On that score, I'm doing the best I can and will continue to do so, plowing through the deep stuff.  The means will surely justify the end.

I might try to eat a little better and get more sleep at night, but I'll continue to meet challenges life has placed before me, all the while indulging a passion for living and the things that bring personal satisfaction and gratification...I will not worry about the rest, even if it kills me!

23 February, 2017


Cobalt-60 is an isotope that emits gamma rays essential to the medical community for cancer treatments and the sterilization of medical devices, while it also helps to prevent the spread of disease through an innovative insect sterilization technique. Cobalt-60 emits a blue glow called the ‘Cherenkov effect’ when removed from a nuclear reactor and placed in water, which protects the surface from its radioactivity. The Cobalt rods spend up to two years in Bruce Power’s nuclear reactors before being shipped to Nordion in Ottawa, where it is processed and shipped worldwide for various uses.

A high-tech form of insect birth control connected to nuclear power could solve a devastating pest problem for Ontario farmers and this is good news because, whether we know it or not, we are literally being "bugged" to death in this province.

Bruce Power, the world’s largest operating nuclear facility located in nearby Tiverton and Nordion, a global health science company, have announced funding and support for a multi-year study on sterilizing pepper weevils using Cobalt-60.  The project will be led by University of Guelph Professor Cynthia Scott-Dupree.

The researchers hope to control pepper weevils, which can burrow into farmed peppers and destroy them from the inside.  "It is very difficult to control these insects when they are hidden inside the pepper,” Scott-Dupree said.

According to the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, pepper weevils ruined an almost unbelievable $83 million worth of crops in 2016 – a figure that does not include the costs of management, suppression initiatives or cleanup of the pest.

Cobalt-60, which is produced in four of Bruce Power’s eight nuclear reactors, is used for the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), and could be a powerful strategy for controlling the weevil, said Scott-Dupree, of the university's School of Environmental Sciences.  “We want to move away from insecticide as much as possible, and SIT provides us another tool in our pest management toolbox,” she said. “It fits well with biological control programs that growers already have established in their greenhouses. While no strategy is 100 percent effective, using nuclear energy to sterilize insects is an environmentally friendly method of controlling these pests. There is no danger of the pepper weevils spreading any radiation following sterilization, so it is also safe for people.”

Scott-Dupree, the Bayer CropScience Chair in Sustainable Pest Management at U of G, will send pepper weevils to Nordion, an Ottawa-based supplier of medical isotopes and gamma technologies, which receives its Cobalt-60 from Bruce Power. Gamma radiation from Cobalt-60 will sterilize the insects before they are released to mate normal, unsterilized pepper weevils in greenhouses.

“We will only release pepper weevils that have all the attributes of normal, unsterilized weevils, except that they are sterile,” said Scott-Dupree. “When they mate, the eggs will not be viable, no progeny results and the pest population will decrease.”

Families and businesses in Ontario rely on low-cost nuclear for 60 per cent of their electricity each year and this is a major development with great potential for wide-spread impact. Pioneered in the 1950s, SIT has been successfully used to control the codling moth, a pest of apples, in the Okanagan Valley in B.C. since 1992. Scott-Dupree has also recently conducted research which has found that SIT has potential to control American serpentine leafminer, an insect pest that feeds primarily on chrysanthemums.

Cobalt-60 harvested from Bruce Power’s reactors is already used to help sterilize 40 per cent of the world’s single-use medical devices and treat brain tumours. “This innovative research could improve Ontario’s agricultural sector by reducing the impact of pests on produce, while also providing a possible gateway to the future of farming,” said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power’s President and CEO.

Scott-Dupree and her team plan to determine the optimum radiation dosage that ensures the sterilization of pepper weevils before testing SIT releases in greenhouses.  “The study will take some time, but the potential it has makes it worthwhile,” she said. “It is exciting to think of all the benefits this study could mean for farmers, Ontario’s economy and the environment.”

Nordion’s facilities will be used to sterilize the pepper weevils. “We are excited to see a technology like SIT, which has had wide and successful application in other areas of the world, help us here in Ontario,” said Ian Downie, Vice-President of Gamma Technologies at Nordion. “Our partnership with Bruce Power helps us support these kinds of scientific advances using Cobalt-60.”

Stories like this often fly under the media radar but I think that it is important for us to know of the scientific advances that are being taken in our virtual backyards -- and for the ultimate benefit of us all.

Now, if they could only find a way to kill off the Emerald Ash Borer that is taking a devastating toll on all the Ash trees in my area.

13 February, 2017


A prized gift from one of my daughters.
The administrator of a nostalgic "Baseball 1857 through 1993" web site recently asked followers for memories of the first Major League Baseball game that they ever attended and I could not help but follow up with a brief submission of my own.  For the edification of a number of baseball-follower friends who are in the habit of checking out my ramblings on Facebook and Wrights Lane, I thought that I would elaborate a bit on the first "Big League" game I ever saw in 1949 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit.

I was just 11 years old and I was so taken with all that my wide eyes beheld on that warm July afternoon crowded into the hard green slab bleacher seats along with some 30,000 other screaming fans, that I cannot even remember the final score of the game.  I do remember, however, that Detroit Tigers' lefthander Hal Newhowser was the winning pitcher in the game against American League arch rival Cleveland Indians.  The Indians incidentally, with player/manager Lou Boudreau at the helm, were defending World Series champions.  Red Rolfe was manager of the Tigers.
Tigers owner Walter O. Briggs' pride showed in

his immaculate stadium which opened in 1938.

He installed the most elaborate cast-iron figural

end seats in all of baseball. The rare ornate ends
included the symbol of a tiger as seen above.

I attended the game along with my dad Ken, Dresden Boy Scout Master George Brooker and his son, Donnie. There is a possibility that Bruce Huff also joined us, my memory fails me on that score too but I am sure Huffie will enlighten me in due course if he did in fact tag along (it would be just like him to even remember the score of the game). The Brooker's were like second parents to Bruce in those days.

The highlight of the game had to be a first-inning triple play initiated by Tigers third baseman George Kell.  The Tribe's Joe Gordon scorched a one-hopper to Kell who in one motion stepped on third base to force out Dale Mitchell and got off a perfect throw to Neil Barry at second, doubling off a sliding Boudreau.  Barry's relay to Don Kalloway at first base was in time to beat the speedy Gordon by a step.  It just happened to be the Tigers' 433rd triple play (at the end of the 2016 season, that total had grown to 709).

Kell also connected for several key hits and turned out to be the star of the game. The 1949 season, in fact, was by far and away his best in 15 years in the majors.  He won the AL batting crown with an average of 343, a mere 0002 better than Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox and denying "The Splendid Splinter" his third Triple Crown.

A young catcher, Bob Swift, was Newhowser's battery mate on this particular day.  Other strong arms in the Tigers rotation that season, belonged to Virgil Trucks, Dizzy Trout and Ted Gray. Bullpen stalwarts were Fred Hutchison, Stubby Overmire, Art Houtteman and Marv Grissom.
Tigers' George Kell

Vic Wertz, Hoot Evers, Pat Mullen, Dick Wakefield and rookie Johnny Groth were diligently spotted in the outfield by manager Rolfe.  While he did not figure in the triple play, shortstop Johnny Lipon was the infield cheerleader following the memorable fete by his teammates.

He did not pitch in the game, but I remember being impressed with Indians ace Bob Feller as he ran sprints and did exhausting exercise routines in the outfield during his team's batting practice.  I also got a kick out of watching an aging Satchel Paige, never a fan of physical exertion beyond throwing a baseball, as he sat on the grass watching Feller, occasionally slowly bending forward to touch his toes, then falling back on his elbows in a resting position for long periods of time.

The 1949 Cleveland roster was loaded with excellent hitters to complement a strong pitching staff, in fact a remarkable 11 players from that particular team were destined for the Baseball Hall of Fame, some kind of a major league record I'm sure.  The infield for this particular game included Mickey Vernon, 1b; Joe Gordon, 2b; Boudreau, ss, and Ken Keltner, 3b, with Jim Hegan behind the plate.  Al Rosen, 3b, and Bobby Avila, 2b, also saw frequent infield duty with the Indians that season and were difficult to keep out of the lineup.

Larry Doby, Bob Kennedy, Dale Mitchell, Luke Easter and Minnie Minoso patrolled the outer pasture for the Indians.  In addition to Feller and Paige, stalwarts Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia and Gene Beardon rounded out the mound corps.

Unable to overtake pennant-winning New York Yankees and runner-up Boston Red Sox, the Indians finished the 1949 AL campaign in third place, just ahead of the Tigers.

On reflection, I was so wrapped up in the Tigers vs. Indians game itself that I do not remember much else about the day and the hour-long trip to Detroit and back.  Little did I know then that in seven years time I would step foot on that same Briggs Stadium turf as a player in a Tigers prospects game. I would return again a decade later as a sports writer conducting on-field Press Day interviews with manager Billy Martin, pitcher Mickey Lolich and Canadian Mike Kilkenny.

Memories, yes I have a few!  I just wish I could remember the score.

12 February, 2017

When I Grow Too Old To Dream - Nelson Eddy

This post is intended for lovers, young and old. When I was growing up I wasn't impressed with Nelson Eddy's voice...What does/did a kid like me know anyway? Now, I've reached that stage where a certain kiss "lives in my heart" and good old Nelson's beautiful baritone gives special meaning to it. But I'm not too old to dream, am I?

Life has been beautiful, we have been young
After you've gone, life will go on
Like an old song we have sung
When I grow too old to dream
I'll have you to remember

When I grow too old to dream
Your love will live in my heart
So, kiss me my sweet
And so let us part
And when I grow too old to dream
That kiss will live in my heart

And when I grow too old to dream
That kiss will live in my heart
So, kiss me my sweet
And so let us part
And when I grow too old to dream
That kiss will live in my heart

10 February, 2017


It is easy to point fingers when things don’t go our way. We find anything and everything to blame for not achieving what we want. Rare is the person who points inward and says, “That’s all on me…it was my fault.”

It is my experience that the more we blame circumstances for what befalls us in life, the more we begin to feel sorry for ourselves.  We feel victimized and subsequently depressed, bitter even, sliding ever deeper on a slippery slope of self-deception.

In all honesty, as I look back on a myriad of personal failures and disappointments, I can blame none other than myself (Dick Wright) for things that happened to me and where I find myself in life today. In retrospect, I could have done better in most aspects of my life and I am required to live with that acknowledgement, regretting only that as my 80th year approaches, I cannot turn back the clock and do certain things differently.  

I at least find redemption in believing now that it was in me to do better if I had only applied myself just a little more, having the foresight to take that one important step or attitudinal adjustment that could have made all the difference. With acceptance comes grace!

The Bible says in Psalm 62:12 that God renders (gives, provides, supplies) to each of us according to our own work. It doesn’t say that He gives (whether that’s money, daily provision, authority or friendships) just because we feel entitled or deserving.

This biblical verse speaks to the heart of our blame-shifting mindset.

Will there be circumstances where we put in maximum effort, yet situations do not work out as planned?  Of course.

Will we make mistakes?  Of course.  We are only human, and there is something to be said for learning from our mistakes.

You cannot account for what others may do or say. You cannot win if others are not putting in the same effort.  You can not anticipate what unforeseen events might come your way or that someone might simply be better than you.  A rational coming to terms with the facts, will always stand us in good stead in the end.

But this is an undeniable truth no matter the circumstance…You cannot succeed if you are putting in minimal effort to just slide by or to accommodate a particular moment or situation.  Work ethic is the key, determining factor in being given what you deserve.

You cannot expect to achieve satisfactory results without having been willing to do the climbing...And you cannot justly blame everything and everyone but yourself when things do not work out to your best advantage.   

Without exception, we are masters of our own destiny.  It is all about how we apply ourselves.

Of course all of this is easy for me to say now, in hindsight.  If only I knew then what I know now!!!

09 February, 2017


A peek through the trees at Fairy Lake from my back yard last Fall.
 Limb by limb, trunk by trunk, approximately 500 to 550 dead and dying Ash trees are being culled from around Fairy Lake in Southampton in a harvest called “tragic”. The cull began Feb. 6, and could take up to six weeks to complete.

The culprit: An infestation of the deadly Emerald Ash Borer that has been known to kill more than 50 million ash trees in North America.

My property backs onto Fairy Lake and I am devastated every time a new gap opens up in what was a wonderful tree scape between my backyard and the lake.

“We're removing all the White Ash trees that were marked as dead or dying with blue or red markers,” said Jared George, one of six Ontario Line Clearing and Tree Experts staffers who began working on Monday. He said it was tight work as they don't want to damage any healthy trees or have any debris fall into Fairy Lake. The smaller limbs are being dragged to a chipper and larger logs will be saved, possibly for future use.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) probably infected Saugeen Shores trees two or three years ago, and only this past summer was the devastating extent of the damage clear, especially at Fairy Lake.

“It moves very quickly and that's what caught us at Fairy Lake,” Burrows said, adding the loss of bark is the first obvious visible sign of disease, often caused by Woodpeckers attacking the diseased trees.

“We know EAB is in other areas of Saugeen Shores, but it is not showing itself, yet, so we don't have a specific map of EAB-diseased trees, but are constantly monitoring and as trees deteriorate and become a hazard we take them down,” Burrows said, adding they are “pondering internally” whether the Town should develop a forestry plan with a more systematic assessment of trees to better forecast any issues.

Within Saugeen Shores, Ash trees are native species in woodlots, hedges and fence lines. A 2015 inventory of trees on Town streets – not parks, other public lands or private lands – found six per cent of the 7,301 trees were Ash, and of those, 45 (9.3 per cent) had signs of EAB infestation and could be dead within three or four years.

The ash borer is indigenous to Asia and known to surface in China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, the Russian Far East, and Taiwan.  It was probably introduced to North America in wood packaging. The insects' spread has been aided by the movement of nursery stock and especially firewood commonly found at camping sites.

Removal of the Ash trees at a cost of $85,000, is phase one of a $250,000 Fairy Lake restoration project. Phase two includes rehabilitation of the trail ringing the lake, two new pedestrian bridges, a second water fountain and a lookout – all with a Canada Day opening target. So, in the end, improvements will be made to the woodlot surrounding the tranquil lake and I am trying to be optimistic and hope for the best.

Such a shame though!  One really has to question the workings of Mother Nature at times like this.

08 February, 2017


“My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.” -- Harry S. Truman

I was nonsensically teasing old friend Bob Peters yesterday on a totally unrelated subject and happened to mention the name Harry S. Truman.  That got me to thinking about some funny Harry Truman stories that are just too good not to share on Wright Lane.  For some reason, there was always something just a little different about the candor and wit of the 33rd President of the United States that always intrigued me.

When President Harry Truman picked up his "Washington Post" early on December 6, 1950, to read a review of his daughter Margaret Truman's singing performance, he was livid. Though conceding that Miss Truman was "extremely attractive," Paul Hume, the "Post's" music critic, stated bluntly that "Miss Truman cannot sing very well" and "has not improved" over the years. The president wrote the following letter to the 34-year old Hume, whom he compared to the columnist Westbrook Pegler ("a rat," in Truman's view).

Mr Hume:

I've just read your lousy review of Margaret's concert. I've come to the conclusion that you are an "eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay."

It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you're off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!

Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you. I hope you'll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.


Wow!  In retrospect, Donald Trump was not the first U.S. president in recent memory to take the press to task.

Then there's another priceless story about Truman's association with the renowned Hollywood actress Lauren Bacall.

A sitting American vice-president entertaining a Hollywood star? Sounds like something that could have happened to former v-p Joe Biden. But a moment starring vice-president Harry Truman, back in 1945, got renewed attention after news broke recently that actress Lauren Bacall had passed away at the age of 89.

Before Bacall was truly a big star, she paid a visit in February of that year to the National Press Club in the nation's capital as a surprise guest for U.S. troops. “The story is that during World War II the club was open on Saturdays for servicemen to get free hot dogs and beer,” explained Gilbert Klein, an American University journalism professor and the chairman of the press club’s history committee. “Politicians could come, but they weren’t allowed to talk for more than two minutes.”

Truman, at that time President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s veep, tried something a little different from talking: He decided to tickle the ivories in the club’s ballroom. “At that time, Truman didn’t have much to do – he was vice president, he was presiding over the Senate and had speaking engagements, but he wasn’t nearly as busy as he was when he was a senator,” said Randy Sowell, an archivist at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum (there you go Bob). “And so he had some free time on his hands and he enjoyed going to events like that.”

Bacall popped out. Her press agent suggested she jump on top of the piano. She and the vice-president posed for photographers. “What disturbed many people was that Truman appeared to be having such a good time, which he was,” wrote historian David McCullough in his enormous biography, Truman. “Bess (Mrs. Truman) was furious. She told him he should play the piano in public no more,” McCullough wrote of the vice president’s wife.

But apparently Bacall did appear with Truman again. “Thereafter, she was sort of associated with Mr. Truman and she and her husband Humphrey Bogart were two Hollywood celebrities who supported Truman in 1948,” Sowell recalled.

And finally, poor daughter Margaret who always seemed to get a bad rap in spite of the fact that she was a professional singer, eventually performing at Carnegie Hall, a TV personality and author of 32 books, including biographies of both parents and 23 mystery novels in a popular series all set in and around Washington.
When the Trumans moved to the White House, they brought Margaret's piano with them. In the summer of 1948, a leg of the piano fell through the floor of her room. The incident further proved that the White House needed major structural repairs. An engineer commented that the house was still standing only "out of habit."

In her 1981 book she recalled "Because of my father, I was more easily able to obtain important engagements. But I also received more attention by first-string critics and more demanding audiences who felt that because my father was president, I had to be not better than average, but better than the best in order to justify my appearing on stage."

Margaret thought her performance at Constitution Hall in Washington in December of 1950 to be one of her better ones but the aforementioned critic Paul Hume thought otherwise, prompting her father's scathing and combative rebuttal. 

In the ensuing uproar, reporters pressed her for her reaction to the highly publicized letter.  "I'm glad to see that chivalry is not dead," she told them.

In "Harry S. Truman", she wrote: "Dad discussed the (Hume) letter with his aides and was annoyed to find that they all thought it was a mistake.  They felt it damaged his image as president and would only add to his political difficulties. 'Wait till the mail comes in,' Dad said. 'I'll make you a bet that 80 percent of it is on my side of the argument.'

A week later, after a staff meeting, Truman ordered everyone to follow him into the mailing room. "The clerks had stacked up thousands of Hume letters in piles and made up a chart showing the percentages for and against the president," Margaret recalled.  "Slightly over 80 percent favored Dad's defense of me.  Most of the letter writers were mothers who said they understood exactly how Dad felt and would have expected their husband's to defend their daughters the same way.

'The trouble with you guys is,' Dad said to the staff as he strode back to work, 'you just don't understand human nature'."

Margaret adored her father, whose directness and sense of humor she inherited; and she credited him with prophesying her literary career long before it began.  She said he told her in 1946 that "you write interestingly" and added that perhaps, with the passage of time, "you can be a great story writer."

Note:  Margaret also made headlines with her marriage to a dashing newspaper man, Clifton Daniel Jr., who eventually became the managing editor of The New York Times.  Together they had four sons.  Mrs. Truman-Daniel died on January 27, 2008, at 83 years of age.

06 February, 2017


What does your DNA, aging, health, passion and purpose have in common?

According to Nobel Prize Winner Elizabeth Blackburn,"everything!"

The chromosomes are where all our genetic material is packaged in the form of DNA and telomeres, are the very special endcaps at the ends of each chromosome that protects against deterioration. Stress wears down the protective endcaps and makes you more susceptible to disease. The more stress, the more wear and tear.  Makes perfect sense!

The good news is that telomeres can be built back up and lower your chances of getting Alzheimers and other serious diseases.

So how do you rebuild your telomeres, prevent diseases and rapid aging?

Dr. Blackburn says that a growing number of studies indicate meditation and exercise repair telomeres. And the more different kinds of exercise you do, the better the results.

When asked how her research changed her thinking, she said she used to think that aging was an inevitable march toward succumbing to disease and that it was about gradually taking it easier and easier. She has her own exercise program and “now, what I’ve found personally is that what I really needed was purpose.”

The bottom line is that when you get clear about what most fills you up, gets and keeps you excited --i.e. your passions -- you will be on your way to living your purpose.

I certainly buy into that line of thinking...I am passionate about my writing and my purpose, it would seem, is looking after my ailing wife; now all I have to do is learn to meditate and start exercising in order to live longer. Damn if there's not a catch to everything!

03 February, 2017


Bill Vigars helped organize Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope in 1980. On Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 he 
was in Port Coquitlam, B.C. for the Annual Terry Fox Run with a replica of Fox's artificial leg.
Bill Vigars was an unusual kid, but in a rather good way. He was impish, funny, clever and prone to the unexpected.

Growing up in the then "railroad city" of St. Thomas, ON in the 1950s and '60s, he was a member of a salt-of-the-earth Catholic family that was firmly entrenched in the community. It was while a student at St. Joseph's High School that Bill began to come into his own as a think-outside-the-box creative thinker. You just knew that, with a twinkle in his eye and a hint of a permanent smirk indicative of something mischievous going on in his mind, he was destined to march to the beat of his own drummer. And, boy, did he ever! 

He cut his teeth in communications as a student reporter/announcer with CHLO radio in St. Thomas at a time when I was toiling as sports editor for the local Times-Journal newspaper. I was secretly fascinated by the hidden potential of the young man, but little did I expect that four decades later the Toronto Star would call the same Bill Vigars "one of the Top Ten Public Relations People in Canada” and “The Rainmaker” and a publicity "guru" by Maclean’s Magazine.
Bill Vigars today

As fate would have it, Bill somehow stumbled into acting early in his career, among a number of other notable achievements in a remarkable span of 40 years, and counting.

His first thespian venture was on the 1980's CBS late night series "Night Heat", where he acted in more than 25 episodes as, oddly enough but not too surprisingly, either a drag queen or wino. He also worked with a wide range of talent from the Bowery Boys' Huntz Hall, to Diane Lane, Phyllis Diller, Buster Rhymes and Donald Sutherland.

But I am getting ahead of myself just a bit at the risk of not doing justice to the best part of The Bill Vickers Story -- his remarkable, abbreviated, behind-the-scene involvement with the iconic Terry Fox and the historic Marathon of Hope for Cancer in the summer of 1980, all of which was later chronicled in two movies "The Terry Fox Story (1982) where Bill was portrayed by Hollywood's Robert Duvall and the 2005 CTV version "Terry", where his character was portrayed by Canadian actor Matt Gordon.

In 1980 it seems, Bill landed the job as Director of Public Relations and Fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society's Ontario Division. He explained in an interview his fateful brush with history this way: "I had only been with the Cancer Society for three months, when I received a note around mid April, from my boss about Terry's quest. At that point I began following him through the news at the beginning of his Run. My first interaction with Terry came when he called from a payphone in Nova Scotia. He was a little down, as things weren't going as planned and I wanted to boost his spirits. I asked him how I could help him in Ontario and he mentioned events that might involve the CN Tower, the Toronto Blue Jays and his hockey heroes Darryl Sittler and Bobby Orr."
It was in Edmundston, NB, that Bill first met Terry. With approval of the Cancer Society, he left his work behind in Toronto and drove east to meet Terry, his brother Darryl and best friend Doug Alward. "After sleeping for awhile in the back of my car, I rolled out of the vehicle at 4:00 a.m. to be greeted by Darrel Fox who inquisitively asked, 'You're the guy from the Cancer Society?'" Bill recalled.

The next four days Bill spent in the van, trying to get routes down pat and organizing an itinerary for the trip through Ontario, even arranging meetings with Terry's favorite hockey players, the aforementioned Orr and Sittler, and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He never left Terry's side for the duration of the marathon and became a close friend and confidante. He said that Terry struck him as a regular guy who was incredibly determined, focused and who saw the run as an athletic feat. "Terry moved people as he spoke from the heart and had an incredible intensity of purpose. He also really enjoyed the company of children, a good debate and had a great dry sense of humor."

One thing that impacted Bill along the tour, was how emotional it was. "We heard stories all along the route from people who had lost friends and family to cancer. You could see the emotion in their eyes as they gave support to Terry. It was tough".

Throughout the Run, an interesting trend was noted. Dollars that were collected in hats, garbage bags or anything else, were often crumpled. "What was happening," Bill explained, "is that people waited along the routes, sometimes for a few hours and there was so much emotion in anticipation of seeing Terry, that they ended up clutching their donations in their hands until he arrived."  By contrast, today the Terry Fox Foundation has raised more than $700 million for cancer research, thanks in large measure to volunteers and organizers of the 9,000 runs across Canada each year, 

Bill remembers the heat of that summer — thick, wet, insufferable heat that would glue a shirt to your back in minutes. He remembers the crowds, too. Everywhere they went, folks waving and grinning from the sidewalks, kids standing on tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the man skip-hop running down the highway.

But by far the most vivid memory Bill has of that celebrated journey is the July afternoon at a motel on Highway 7, when Terry Fox threw a clubhouse sandwich and fries at his head.

This was a little more than halfway through the now-legendary marathon that began in St John’s, Nfld., on April 12, when Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean and headed west. He crossed into Ontario at the end of June.

Battling bone bruises, blisters, shin splints, cysts on his stump and extreme exhaustion, Fox ran a staggering 42 kilometres — pretty much a marathon — every day. He would do 20 km before breakfast, another 12 after a mid-morning break and the final 10 after a noon nap.In the evening, he would do brief public appearances, have dinner and go straight to bed.

The sandwich-throwing incident took place at a motel somewhere along Highway 7 in late July. Bill can’t remember the name of the place. He recently tried to find it by navigating the street view on Google Maps, but said he kept getting lost in all the new subdivisions that have since been developed.

Coincidentally, I stood curbside in a crowd on Queen Street East (Hwy. 7) in Brampton that same day in July as Terry and his entourage passed through. I vividly remember the feeling that I was witnessing history in the making as Terry hippidy-hopped three feet in front of me with a sense of purpose. He had a lopsided gait, dubbed the Fox Trot — two hops with his good leg to match the longer stride of his artificial leg. He was expressionless, as if in a trance, his eyes focused on the road ahead. I instantly detected a haunting aura about him that defies description to this day. As Terry disappeared into the distance with the red lights of his police escort flashing behind him, I just stood there for a few minutes processing what I had just experienced. I later purchased a Marathon of Hope T-shirt as a souvenir of the occasion.

The Highway 7 that Bill remembers was just a simple two-lane road with gravel shoulders in those days. Fox would run along the edge of the pavement with a police cruiser trailing behind him. His friend Doug and brother, Darrell, travelled ahead in a van. Fox’s trick to keep himself going was to run to the next telephone pole, then the next one, and the next one, a short stretch at a time.

After passing through Brampton, the crew had stopped for a break along Highway 7 near Keele St. in Woodbridge, just east of the city. Fox went to take his daily nap break in a small nearby motel. Meantime, Bill apparently popped into a restaurant to grab him a sandwich.

While he was waiting for the order, Bill got word of a problem. There had been a mix-up with the schedule and Fox was somehow committed to making two public appearances that night in two different places.

The dilemma meant the crew would either have to cancel one appearance and disappoint the crowds that showed up to catch a glimpse of the famous runner or ask the exhausted 21-year-old to do both events. The latter was a lot to ask of a man who was experiencing intense physical pain and in a constant state of exhaustion. The very same booking mistake — two events in one night — had been made 10 days earlier, too, and organizers had promised Fox it wouldn’t happen again.

In those days, without cellphones or Internet, there was no simple way to cancel or reschedule an event. Poor Bill ran outside to a pay phone, called head office in Toronto and explained the situation.

"You have to make him do both," Bill was told by a superior..."Or you're fired!"

Slightly agitated, he grabbed the sandwich wrapped in a tinfoil takeout package and walked back across the parking lot to the motel. He went into Fox’s room and sat on the bed across from him as he was waking up. Then he handed Fox his lunch and explained the situation.

“Terry, if you don’t go, I’m going to get fired,” Bill exclaimed

A pause...and Bill ducked as the takeout container sailed past his shoulder, flinging fries and toasted bread and bacon all over the room.

Forced to end his run after cancer spread to his lungs, 
Terry Fox prepares to board a flight from Thunder Bay,
to his home in British Columbia on September 2, 1980. 
Nearby, Terry's parents are embraced by Bill Vigars of
the Canadian Cancer Society.
Bill doesn’t want people to get the wrong impression from this story, however. “That wasn’t the usual Terry,” he says. “It was a combination of the heat and the stress.”  Fox did the two events, in the end. He made peace with Bill a few days later and the tour continued. At the time, neither could have predicted their journey would end abruptly in September when Fox’s cancer returned; that he would never finish the Marathon of Hope.

But on he went for the rest of that summer, running along the old Ontario highways, taking it one telephone pole at a time. When it was found in Thunder Bay, that Terry's cancer had returned, Bill was devastated. "I didn't see it coming and I was lost for weeks." *Take a few minutes to view the videos below for more first-person remembrances from Bill himself.

Reluctantly, Terry was forced to abandon his run after 143 days and 5,373 kilometers (3,339 mi). He refused offers to complete the run in his stead, stating that he wanted to finish his marathon himself, all the while promising to be back when he recovered.  He passed away on June 28, 1981 at 22 years of age.  There is not apt to be another like him in this lifetime!

Today, the 70 year old Bill Vigars resides in Vancouver, BC where he operates an extremely successful public relations business. He has also been CEO of major business associations, Director of Communications for two of Canada’s largest hospitals, Director of Communications for the Ontario Pavilion at EXPO 86, Director of Communications and Corporate Sponsorships for the Ontario Lottery Corporation and Director of Communications for the British Columbia Ministry of Small Business, Tourism, and Culture. Most recently, he played a key role in building the David Foster Foundation into a respected national charity.

In the entertainment industry, his clients have included many of North America’s most successful companies such as MGM, Lions Gate Films, and Alliance Entertainment. He has handled publicity for numerous hit TV shows and feature films.

As I say: "I knew Bill Vigars when..."

...and my brief glimpse of Terry Fox remains indelibly etched in my mind.

01 February, 2017

Further to my previous Trevor Thompson post (below):  Detroit Red Wings goaltender and Perth, Ontario native Jared Coreau had a special guest in the crowd during Detroit’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators on New Years Eve.

In addition to several dozen friends and family, Coreau’s 92-year-old grandmother, Patricia, took in the game and saw her grandson play for the very first time. Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson caught up with her and captured her feelings on the occasion.

“It’s the highlight of my life!” she exclaimed. What a remarkable lady!