Sunday, November 18, 2007

Blond Haired Boy

The indescribable feeling of being in a situation in an important time and place but able to do anything to help.

Monday, November 12, 2007.

I was with my family shopping at Dollarama on Circle Drive one day. The family restaurant is only closed one day a week, this was the only day we could have gone shopping. I can't remember what exactly we purchased, but I would have gotten things that could be broken down into raw materials for one of my projects. We finished, paid, and walked out the door and was walking into the parking lot when a young mother, crying and yelling, carried her infant boy into the dollar store.

I followed in to see the situation. The mother and the boy were on the floor of the entrance way--the mother was crying and panicked, and the boy was looking around lifelessly. Her son was having a seizure. Her son was blinking and seemed to be looking around, looking at me, and was starting to foam at the mouth. The mother explained that her son stopped responding to her suddenly when they were in the car, not even when she was screaming her son could not respond.

I stood there trying to rationalize what should be done in such a situation. The mother was crying in confusion, panic, and despair. There was another lady, a customer of the store, who was calming the mother--She also has a boy who has regular seizure episodes. One of the cashiers ran to get a small area rug for the boy to lay down on. A different cashier had already phoned 911 and an ambulance was already being dispatched.

All I could do was stand there. I looked around, I looked at the boy who was looking back at me, I didn't know what could be done. Within the collective knowledge of everyone present there was nothing that the 20 or 30 people in that store could do to help--myself included.

I kept looking at the boy who would look around at the faces in front of him, then his mother would hold him up or move him to his side to clear the foam frothing from his mouth. He looked back at me, and I looked into his eyes. I stood there frustrated that I didn't know what to do, frustrated that I couldn't do anything, he looked back at me with a very calm expressionless face--blinking. My eyes connected with his once more as he lay motionless looking at me without expression--until he stopped blinking. I checked for breathing--he was breathing normally, but now he's unconscious.

Within two more minutes the ambulance could be heard from the distance coming fast. It pulled into the parking lot and I remembered running to hold the outside doors open waving at them signaling that this was the right store. The truck pulled up and the front passenger went to grab a medical bag from the back of the ambulance. She came into the store and as she passed by me I let her know the boy had lost consciousness about 3 minutes ago.

I left the store shortly afterwards. The feeling of uselessly not able to do anything in the situation sat deep in my chest. I walked away from the store towards the car regretting that I couldn't do anything for the boy. Uttering a silent prayer and leaving my hopes with the paramedics, I left for home with a heavy feeling of unease in my heart.

During the trip home my Mom shared a story from her childhood in Vietnam which I have not yet heard before. She had a younger brother which also had a seizure episode. Both my mom and her younger brother were shopping with my grandma when my mom's younger brother went into a seizure. Rushing him to the hospital was a challenge without the availability of cars or ambulances. My mom and my grandma carried him by foot until they asked a merchant pedal bike or some similar bike to take him to the hospital.

Shortly after they got to the hospital he was revived and my mom remembered talking to her younger brother. He would have been only a couple years old. Both my mom and my grandma were relieved. Hearing that lit a smile into my face too, and I marveled at the advancement we've made in medicine to save lives. My mom ran home to tell the family everything that happened, and that everything was going to be alright. After my mom finished explaining my grandma followed into the house; after my mom left the hospital her brother had another episode and the doctors weren't able to revive him--he passed away shortly after my mom left the hospital. My mom to this day wonders why things turned out the way it did. She wonders what would have happened if she stayed a while longer, to talk and play with her brother in the hospital, would he have been alright? How could someone be lost so easily in a modern hospital?

I don't know why things end up happening the way it does. I pray for the blond haired boy who I met that day, but don't know who he is, where he is, or what happened after I left that day. I marvel at "our" societal advancement in medicine and saving lives, but there is a greater truth--the truth of the unknown: the truth that one can never know the end.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


The other night there was a retired gentlemen that came in to dine with his wife at the restaurant. The two of them were the last customers to have come in and that allowed me to give them more attention. From recommending soups; discussing the future of arts, music, theatre, literature, and education; talking about his drop-out education; talking about her career choices of secretary, nurse, or teacher; to sharing stories of good ol' Larry Klapoushak, we shared a wonderful conversation.

All three of us were about to leave the night having enjoyed our evening. The gentlemen came to the front to pay for the meal. He gave me a toonie and asked me to split it in half and give him back just one, "...let's make that your tip, I wish I could have given you more." I split the toonie into two loonies and decidedly put both coins in his hand. He didn't notice it.

Being a retired gentlemen likely to have no income, he wanted to give me the loonie as a token of thanks for my services provided that evening. If that's true I'm content with just the thanks.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Push-Ups for Life

Modern-day society [of developed nations] is lazy. Its not that we want to be lazy, but the society deems it necessary. We do a little as we can "physically" to maximize "productivity."

Stop what you're doing and do 10 push-ups every 15 minutes.

Whether you're at work, if you're studying, or if you're performing almost any given task on any given day a lot of time is spent sitting, or standing, in one place. If you've worked too long or have studied too much you can go lie down to relax and take a break. The mind is restless and the body rarely stops resting. This is, sadly, what our lifestyle and our society deems necessary.

Every 15 minutes stop what you're doing and do 10 push-ups.

When it comes time to shift from neutral to drive, the body takes time to warm up--just like a car in a Saskatchewan winter. If something sudden happens, like needing to move an extremely heavy box into the house, the body's engine revs up and the dormant muscles experience high strain to accomplish the 10 minute task. After the dust settles, the body is promptly placed back into hibernation as the heart lowers the revving and the muscles cool down. Isn't this being a slightly-incredibly harsh on the body? Is it possible to train the body to be in a state of always-readiness?

Take a break and do 10 push-ups every 15 minutes.

It takes time for the heart to "warm-up" and ready itself, it'll pump away during physical activity, and it'll cool off and slow down when inactive. Assuming that the more times the heart readies itself the more efficient it will be at doing so, and assuming that increased blood circulation is beneficial for muscles as well as many organs of the body, the heart can be trained to attain a permanent state of readiness.

Regardless of what you're doing, stop every 15 minutes and do 10 push-ups. This will take anywhere from 5-20 seconds [the time it takes will also significantly shorten after a few days, though for some it will lengthen after the first few hours before shortening). In a standard 14 hours day 560 push-ups can be completed, you'll use nearly every muscle in your body but significantly the ones in your arms, the efficiency of your lungs will increase, and more importantly your heart will have the chance to start-up/perform/cool-down 56 times. Eventually [me thinks] your heart will build towards the pattern, reach an always-ready state, and possibly lower your performance bpm to your warm up bpm. I wish to scientifically experiment and collect data on this hypothesis in future. I'll definitely blog the results whenever I get around to it!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Poutine Kids

There were a group of kids whom had visited the family restaurant frequently in the summer of 2006 and 2007. Though I can't say I miss them, not having seen them at all this summer, I can never forget them and can't help but wonder where they are or how they're doing.

One memory I have tells of sometime last summer. There were 3 of them. One of them we saw waiting outside, another two entered the restaurant and began walking their own separate but determined paths within the small crowded restaurant. One was stopped by my sister as his eyes began searching around the room.

"What do you want? Is there something I can help you with?" my sister asked him. He probably would have plowed through my sister and pushed her aside if she didn't say anything. "Can I have some water?" was his reply as he changed course towards the fridge, cups, and water pitchers. A little rude if you ask me, but it was evident he was coming from a low income family and seemed to be have been payed little attention to.

The second boy, they were both roughly 10-12 years old, locked his gaze in the direction of the cash register as he slowly walked his way up to the till. "What can I do for you?" I asked, to which he mumbled an incoherent reply without taking his eyes off the till. "Is there something I can do for you?" I asked him again, but he wasn't responding to my questions but rather repeating his mumble which sounded something like "ooteen, ooteen, ooteen..." I had no idea what he was talking about, he wouldn't look at me or anything except for the cash register. I made my way to the cash register and from behind the counter looked down at him and asked him again, "What can I do for you?" only to have him repeat his mumble again. Without looking up at me, while looking around at the items placed on the counter at till I finally understood what he was asking me, "Do you have poutine."

Poutine? In a Asian restaurant? Not completely out of the question, but I'm sure a 12 year old would know not to ask for poutine in an Asian restaurant. "No we don't. Is there anything else I can do for you?" I asked him as his eyes continued surveying the items around him.

"Oh." was his reply, but still he stood standing and scanning with his eyes. By this time my father had made his way out to the dinning room and had gotten impatient with the kids. I can't remember what he told them, but it would have been along the lines of a modest "we're running a business, not a poutine business, and we can't keep having you guys come in here to ask for water or mints or candies every other day."

I always remember them running away from the place in a hurry though. It is almost as if they felt that they needed to run away each and every time they left the restaurant, but not before they would shut off all the light switches in the entry way plunging the whole dinning room in near-absolute darkness.

Sometimes they would come in twice in the day. In one of those days they came in, asked for water, didn't finish their water, hung out by the donations envelop for the opportunity for the disabled chocolate stand, and left. Later they came back, bought a pop, paid for it, hung out by the donations envelop for the opportunity for the disabled chocolate stand, and when we weren't looking, ran away without their one can of pop (I assume it was to be divided between the 3 people).

I'm actually not sure any more whether or not I miss them. I certainly remember them and do not want to forget them, regardless of the memories I have of them, but I can't help but wonder some days where they are or how they're doing.

Time and Space

Consider the possibility of two random people being in the exact same space and time in the exact same instance. What would it mean if it happened to you?

A year ago on Sunday July 23, 2006, in a large room containing well over a thousand people, I decidedly sat down on a spot on the floor and abruptly find an individual sitting in the same spot in my lap. In that instance, two people who've never seen each other, from two different countries, and it was then, as it awkwardly as it may have occurred, I met the individual. There were some abrupt apologies, confused looks, and short introductions, all of which were followed by days of darting glares of confusion and uncertainty. In the end we each went our separate ways, and back to our respective homes and countries.

Roughly a year has passed, and on approximately the same day (Saturday July 21, 2007), at generally around the same time in the evening, close to the same spot in the exact-same room, the I met her once more. In that instance, the past was recalled and memories of our unusual greeting from one-year prior flashed through my mind, and our faces lit up with smiles.

A short week went by and we parted our ways again. I'm not sure what it all means, time and space, but I'm really enjoyed meeting her. I guess it was a good thing after all, being sat on.

A New Beginning - The Past, Present, and Future

I spend a lot of time worrying. Worrying about the going-ons of the present, the outcome of the future, and the occurrences of the past. All the time there is so much happening; it becomes overwhelming at times and I find myself only able to react to the situation(s), unable to shape the outcome.

Get involved-- Those words are passed down to today's youth through countless different voices. Those same words are deeply anchored into who I am. I do because I can, I enjoy what I do, and there is so much to do that I can't help but keep busy. Sometimes as I try to do so much, I am rooted in the present and rooted into worrying about the present in such that I am unable to think ahead and shape the future: similar to playing chess with an opponent with invisible pieces.

The past is invaluable. To reminisce, ruminate, and to dwell in, the past is pure and holds many teachings. The future is uncertain, but entirely moldable by the gift of the present--if one acts with the future in mind. One must try never to act in response to the present, or to spend one's future correcting the past.

To do so much I get stuck in the present. When it comes down to the future, I don't want my future to be spent correcting the forgotten past--but it happens all too often.