Sunday, December 30, 2012

When in the world did I become so old so fast?


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When in the world did I become so old so fast?
God Lord these muscles hurt now!  Where did these muscles come from? All year they were okay and never gave me a bit of trouble.  Yet they always start showing up in December and will show themselves again and again in January and February.  Likely it will happen again in March as well.

Why? – You ask.  Well I am Canadian and almost all Canadians suffer in the same way… especially all of the ones that live outside the lower mainland of B.C.

This muscle pain is from getting rid of snow from our walkways, driveways and the sidewalks at the front of the house.  It is shoveling pain – and snow-blower pain from wrestling with my machine.

At this moment I feel like I have been in the MMA ring(Mixed Martial Arts) with some sweaty and bloody creature that has tried to kill me. Whoa – maybe the guy did win the bout we were having.  I am so sore that I am sure that he hit every muscle in my body with his bare knuckles!

So what is the answer?  I think I have discovered the real answer.  It is more exercise every month that keeps it all in better shape than it is now.  That burst into snow banks in December is insane.  None of my muscles were ready for that… and oh boy!

Thinking this was has led me to some funny thoughts. Me working with my snow-blower down the street in June and July… or me swinging my shovel in April and May loading dirt from one pile to the next.

My friend Winston has much fewer problems in that he is regularly loading fire wood into his house and into his furnace.  Way to go Winston.

But then I have three other friends that just hurt all the time – every month without stopping.  Their bodies are falling apart completely – and at a terribly fast speed.

Uggh! It is just old age.  The time when I wish I was 25 years younger, think I am 35 years younger and try to do things that I did 45 years ago… then hurt like I am 20 years older than I am!  And today I am pushing the 35 year older than I actually which makes me 103 years old.

Three cheers for Canadians that shovel snow and live through it all – aches and all.

~ Murray Lincoln ~
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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Toxoplasma gondii – may be killing me – and my cat loving friends


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Toxoplasma gondii – may be killing me – and my cat loving friends
Oh I hope that my cat loving friends don’t kill their cats after reading this post.  But then if something is going to kill you… maybe…

I know that is not fair to make a wide, sweeping statement and I know your cat is the best cat in the world.  But something in it may kill you eventually… or make you act slowly and weird.

Okay here goes.  Have you read about “Toxoplasmosis’.  It is disease that is caused by ‘T. gondii’ (that is Toxoplasma gondii). What’s that you ask?  It is a tiny parasite that uses cats and other critters to keep its life cycle going.  And this tiny parasite can jump from the critter world into people – from what I read.

I first read of it in the National Geographic Magazine where they interviewed Flegr as one of the explorers.  

Here is an explanation from one of the Web Sites that have reported on Jaroslav Flegr’s research. 
Quote…
“So what exactly is Toxo? It's a parasite which is found in cat poop, and you might know it best because it causes toxoplasmosis. It's what pregnant women aren't supposed to catch, and the reason they're excused from cleaning the litter box. If they do catch it, it can transmit to the baby and result in brain damage and death. It can also infect those with compromised immune systems and cause dementia, but healthy people usually just get a quick flu-like bout with it, and then the Toxo is thought to go dormant and rest in your brain. Except it might not be dormant after all.

Toxo's main purpose is to pass itself between cats—since that's the only place it can reproduce. So it comes out in cat shit, and from there it makes its way into grazing animals, and then, Flegr believes, it starts controlling their behavior in order to bring them back in contact with cats. Humans usually get the parasite from litter boxes, and via drinking water, unwashed veggies, or undercooked meat. It's thought that between 10 and 20 percent of Americans have Toxo lurking inside them.”

Did you get that – 10 to 20 percent of the USA has possibly this Toxo running around in their brain!  No wonder!

But I think the same is true in Canadians as well!!!!

You can read what Wikipedia contributions have been – here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasma_gondii

Here is the graphic that they offered to help you see how ‘T. gondii’ gets into critters (and people…). Click on Graphic to enlarge.

The article at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/9/11/03-0143_article.htm states that some cases of schizophrenia may be as result of Toxoplasma gondii. Quote…Recent epidemiologic studies indicate that infectious agents may contribute to some cases of schizophrenia. In animals, infection with Toxoplasma gondii can alter behavior and neurotransmitter function. In humans, acute infection with T. gondii can produce psychotic symptoms similar to those displayed by persons with schizophrenia. Since 1953, a total of 19 studies of T. gondii antibodies in persons with schizophrenia and other severe psychiatric disorders and in controls have been reported; 18 reported a higher percentage of antibodies in the affected persons; in 11 studies the difference was statistically significant. Two other studies found that exposure to cats in childhood was a risk factor for the development of schizophrenia. Some medications used to treat schizophrenia inhibit the replication of T. gondii in cell culture. Establishing the role of T. gondii in the etiopathogenesis of schizophrenia might lead to new medications for its prevention and treatment. End quote.

Whoa – this is getting more serious all the time!

I have had three different cats in my life. I have also played in sand boxes that were supposed to be for kids – but the cat pooped there… and we ran across it from time to time.  YUK!

But I should have taken the hint from my own body reacting. I sneeze when I am near cats.  I want to run from the place where there are cats.  AND I HATE LITTER BOXES!  They stink most of the time and are very unpleasant to clean – even though newer and better chemicals are used to mask the Toxoplasma gondii! – ooops I mean smell!

But if you let out your cat to pee or poop – like you do your dog… the cat runs away and you never see the little critter again.

Now I know that not everyone that has a cat has toxoplasmosis.  The only way that can be discovered in humans is by testing – which most people wouldn’t get done or know to get it done.  But in humans it can be seen by the amount of accidents that they seem to have – more than other people.  In one statement/article they claim that some one that has the bugs in their brain are 2.6 times more likely to have accidents – car and otherwise.

Can’t you just see the next step for insurance companies will take when you have an accident… “Do you have a cat?” or “How many cats have you had in your lifetime?” – Sorry no coverage.

“Naw – that is all bunk. I don’t believe it!”  is what you say.

Well, let me ask you… has your husband been real slow lately… crossing streets… getting jobs done… or just the normal things that he usually does quickly?  Take a close look – it may well be Toxo!  I mean you have a cat – or had a cat… and well, is your husband acting weird?

I could ask the same about the wife in the relationship… but I am too slow to get out of anyone’s way now.  Good Lord I have slowed down as well… oh boy!

Pretty kitty… nice kitty… purr, purr, purr… Yikes!

~ Murray Lincoln ~
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References:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our beautiful Dancing Queen Amaryllis


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Our beautiful Dancing Queen Amaryllis
The miracle started about December 1st when my wife placed the large bulb in a small pot then placed it on the dining room table.  It is in front of a window and not far from a heat register.

It was on Christmas Eve morning that I saw the amazing miracle happen. About a week before during all our business the bulb had pushed up a round stalk about 12 inches. And as the stalk came so did the evidence we were waiting for – the small round buds that would produce a flower.

This was a new amaryllis with the name of the Dancing Queen. It was supposed to have a ‘double flower’ but we weren’t sure what that meant?

Well this beautiful plant definitely produced and is still producing some of the most amazing flowers that we have seen to date.  The ‘Dancing Queen’ hasn’t moved at all, but it has us jumping up and down with glee!  I think the name that it bears is definitely about the owner or the person that grooms this beauty to its full glory.

At the same time my wife brought up the two bulbs from last year that had been in a dormant stage since last winter. They responded as well with new leaves – but no flower stalk. Sheesh. Why did that happen?  Why no flower stalks.

Searching the internet this morning I found out why. We did not do the proper cycling for these two bulbs.  I found that http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/AmaryllisBloom.html gave us the proper cycling for the bulb.  And we definitely didn’t do it right… but even at that the amazing bulbs did come to life and if given a chance will do their thing again.

My series of photos taken over three days shows how fast this thing comes to life with its blooms.

Outside our home today it is cold and the snow has fallen. It is still dark at 7 AM and the sun will be low on the horizon all day.  It is Canada – and even with the southern areas the sun is not around all that long each day.

But inside we have some of the tropics – a beautiful Dancing Queen Amaryllis and we love it.

















~ Murray Lincoln ~
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Comparing the Good Old Days with the Better Days of Today


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Comparing the Good Old Days with the Better Days of Today
It is likely the “Romanticism” in our society that makes what used to be – better than now. The idea that in days of long ago it were simpler, thus better is one that constantly runs through our thinking over and over again.

The idea that the ‘old stuff’ is what people really enjoyed instead of all the frivolous stuff when have today like iPads and iPods, like HD TV and BlueRay along with all the stuff that is so much fun today.

Or maybe it is the idea that with the simpler life the folk back then had fewer problems than our world has today.  Because with the simpler life there was less corruption and irresponsible people in their communities – so we think.

This morning I read an article in the Toronto Star that refers back to 100 years ago – 1912.  It was the Christmas season at the time and things reported are almost the way it is today.  The reports show that Toronto didn’t live a not so simpler lifestyle than the one we live today.

There was corruption and war at the City Hall of Toronto. A Mayor that thought he had it all wrapped up as a shoe-in for his next term as the leader in his community – was being challenged by a new person.  The story I read showed that if the new person that was challenging the Mayor for his position would only realize that the City of Toronto could save well over $1000 in costly election costs.  The present Mayor could stay in office and all would be well.

No kidding that was suggested in 1912 at Christmas time.

And you have to know that if it appeared in the Toronto Star it was important. There was no internet back at that time and no nightly news on TV.

1912 was a tough year for the world as well. The Titanic had been lost at sea. 

The countries of Britain, France, Germany and Russia were all flexing their stupid muscles with the intent of fighting one another to a death. They all were staging and blowing smoke to lead up to the greatest tragedy of their era… the Great War where over military and civilian casualties were at about 37 million people.  (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties )

Really stupid and egotistical MEN were leading the whole world into a War that no one wanted.  Note here that WOMEN couldn’t vote or have a say in anything. They were considered child bearing, housekeeping, worthless humans by all(most) the MEN of 1912. Their place in society was to keep their men HAPPY! (YEP – THE GOOD OLD DAYS!)

Canada had a population of 7.2 million people total.  ‘For King and Country’ would see 1,115,597 people of the British Empire dead for nothing really and many would be Canadian fighting a War that was not ours.

France lost 1,397,800 military and 4, 266,000 military wounded… and they were not even part of the original arguments and political scoundrels that faced each other in anger!  Their country was the prime place where the battles took place.

The German Empire lost 2,050,897 men and had 4,247,143 wounded.  They started the war (kind of) and lost the war.

At that end of that terrible war all the countries were broke and bruised.

December 1912 was the beginning of stupidity – not simpler but rather stupider – in my humble opinion.

And today we decorate our Christmas Trees and our homes to get the old fashioned look of a 100 years ago.


I don’t want my life to look like 1912.  I don’t want it the way it used to be.  And even in my short 68 years I want nothing to do with the ways it was in my father and mother’s day – where he worked for very little money and struggled to put food on our table.

As I reflect back to an earlier day and age (the article of the Star) I am very glad that I live in 2012 – 100 hundred years better.  At least it seems that way.

However…
Toronto today has an egotistical Mayor that will not listen to anyone. He is always right.  He makes the Mayor of 1912 look like a Sunday School Teacher.  And the politics of Toronto didn’t really change that much. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1306824--hume-toronto-in-2012-felt-like-rob-ford-was-already-gone

And we are just wrapping up another war that no one wanted.  What started with angry men standing behind their veiled threats that had nothing to do with their religion in 2001- “911” saw two big buildings down in New York fall… and this War begin.

There are a lot of similarities with the 1912 and 2012… oh boy.

2012 Christmas is over. We are heading quickly toward 2013 – only days left.

With all that we know now – past and present… how will that affect our world view of the Future?

There is much to think about – now!

~ Murray Lincoln ~
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Last evening we lit a Blue Candle


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In Memory of Paxton Michael Bell

Last evening we lit a Blue Candle
Merry Christmas and many blessings with that wish for you and the ones that you love!

Well this is another Christmas morning, my 68th, and about the 65th that I remember.  And oh so many memories off all of them.  I know I could write a book of the variety of Christmas mornings that I have experienced. Each one is different.

For the past 45 years, each one of the mornings has involved Alida and me as a family.  For 5 years before that she was in every one of my Christmases as well – but each time then she came from her house – not mine.  We dated for 5 years before becoming a family.

For 44 years we have had kids in our Christmas morning setting and Christmas Day. The first half of that time they were our kids… then our daughters brought along two other kids that they eventually married.  Then 17 years ago the first grandchild arrived and it has never been the same again.  Most everything we do is about our grandkids now!!!

But with all of this taking place so regularly and for so many years, it is not the same for me now.  I have entered a new stage in my life where different friends of mine have lost loved ones in this past year or so. The weight of this loss plays heavily on my mind this morning when I woke up.

Yes there is still the tingle of excitement with the grandkids, but there are many other thoughts that temper that excitement now.

This past year my nephew Zach and his wife Rebecca were waiting with great excitement for the birth of their first baby.  The baby made it known that he was about to arrive and away he came with the flurry that all new babies have.  But something was terribly wrong and Baby Paxton died a few days after his delivery.

In dealing with this grief, and because we are all so far away from each other, last evening when we came together as a family for our celebration on Christmas Eve, there was a Blue Candle lit in the middle of the table.  My daughter led us with the thought for her cousin’s baby.  Almost all the families connected with Zach and Rebecca had a candle burning either last evening or today sometime.

The Blue Candle at Christmas was Zach and Rebecca’s very creative way to remember their little boy.  I don’t doubt that many of us will keep this tradition for years to come as we think of Baby Paxton.  A candle company that Zach and Rebecca know have now started manufacturing blue candles for this purpose.

That is our family’s grief.  But there are many others that have faced the same loss as we did. Their dad died, their grandpa is gone, and maybe even grandma is no longer there.  Christmas can bring along a flood of memories when that one individual touched everyone’s life and the impact left behind was huge.

Christmas is about memories – good and sometimes even painful with the loss of a loved one.

My mom is facing her 25th Christmas without my husband Clifford, my dad. I gulp a little just thinking of that fact… dad is no longer here but his memories are. And when our first grandson comes into the room this morning as a strong and strapping 17 year old young man he bears the name “Clifford” – to carry on with the name and tradition.

Christmas now is about my many memories. It is also a mixture of some very wonderful things along with the weight of great sadness.  And I love each part. The bad stuff comes with the good… and we say a big ‘Thank You’ to the Lord for every part!

And while I am at it… “Thank you Lord for giving us Jesus.”
~ Murray Lincoln ~
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Pure Adventure with the National Geographic Magazine – 125th year


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Pure Adventure with the National Geographic Magazine – 125th year
Our January 2013 edition of National Geographic Magazine(NGM) just arrived this week.  Wow! What an edition!  Check out http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/exploration

It is NGM’s 125th Anniversary Year and all this year they are going to be featuring ‘Exploration’ – from what I have read.

As I have been glancing over the articles the editor pointed to the fact that he once lived in a house that had a large backyard.  In that backyard he carried on his own exploration.

For 68 years I have been doing the same kind of thing. As far back as I can remember I have been an explorer.  I have been on a persistent search for whatever might not yet have been discovered.

As I read the articles I realized that I have within me a deep desire to see things that are new. And if it all possible discover something that now one else has ever seen.  I also thoroughly love just seeing things that are new to me.  That alone requires an explorer’s mind and heart.

When the exploration thing happened for me first was Elliott Street in Regina. We lived at 1422 Elliott Street… at the very end of the street with only one larger open area between us and the major shunting yard for the huge trains at that time. Trains were always coming and going – to and from somewhere.  That alone produced an allure for adventure to discover where they had come from and where they might go. “What an adventure that would be!” my young mind thought.  “Someday I will go to where they came from – I will explore my world!”

I was 12 to 13 when we moved from Elliott Street. By that time I knew every dangerous place in our neighborhood. I had crawled under large buildings on my stomach and had been in places that no person had every gone before – underneath a cold storage building more than 100 feet.  The building was built to cover almost a half a city block.  Shudder… now… if I had ever got stuck under that building on the nails sticking down of the snagging wire ends protruding down from the poured cement floors above my head – no one would have found me ever!

Thinking of it now – skunks also frequented that under building area. We could smell them.

Why do such a thing?  Well we were exploring – going places that no man had ever gone before.

Later in my life I had a similar, heart stopping feeling as I explored a deep cave in the Niagara Escarpment not far from Milton, Ontario.  We were down about 50 to 60 feet in the huge limestone escarpment. We were climbing through fissures and caves formed by the movement about of the large limestone boulders.  The one last drop required me to go in feet first… slipping on to my left side and laying backwards I went down further… then touching bottom I turned over to lay on my back.  I couldn’t sit up and couldn’t move left or right. I was entombed in that rock 60 or more feet down.  It was when I couldn’t move with the fright that overtook me.  My friend called down… “Are you okay?  You better be because I am not coming down there or moving another inch!”

Slowly I turned on my left side and slowly wiggled my way upwards… getting stuck a few times and now able to move. After breathing slowly and trying to relax my body moved upwards again.

Why do such a thing?  Well you see I am an explorer and I love going to places that no one has been before.

Sheesh – what a rush as I came out of the hole.  Then the thought occurred to me, ‘What if there had been another earthquake and the rocks shifted enough to close you in forever?’  I just shook my head – ‘never going to happen!’ I assured myself.

Oh boy. The thought came and went as I climbed into another cave.  You see I am an explorer at heart and can never stop.

That is why this NGM magazine has been such a major part of my life over all these years.

I looked at my first NGM before I could read.  I loved the photos and the adventures that all these men and women went on around the world.

Today I am stiff and much weaker than I was that day on the Escarpment. The guy that climbed with me is able to do that anymore.  But I can still explore in my mind.

Where should I go today?

~ Murray Lincoln ~
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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ho! Ho! Ho! Hokey Mokey the Stores are jammed


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Ho! Ho! Ho! Hokey Mokey the Stores are jammed
It has been a few years since I had to go out and mingle with Christmas Shoppers in the days before Christmas.  Yesterday I went out with a few errands to accomplish in the morning.

One errand was to arrive at Costco and do my bit there.  I assumed that it opened at 10:00 AM like normal. Nope!  That was not the case. When I arrived at 9:48 AM there were hardly any parking spaces to fit into – the entire lot was FULL! Well the store was even fuller. Instead of one or maybe two people per vehicle there were three or four or more.  Remember it was Saturday and kids are off school.

I have never seen so many people in a Canadian store.  Rather it was like Hong Kong during Chinese New Year with a gazillion people everywhere all pushing and shoving to get done before the big day that was coming.

For the fun of it after I was done I meandered over to two more stores, Future Shop and Staples – just to look… then later to Michael’s craft shop to buy some small items.

These stores were plugged full as well.

China and India have no idea what they do to our country’s buying making all that stuff.  Making it relatively cheap and having the price so good they are able to conquer our world and own us!

That’s right you heard me China and India are somehow involved in this mad rush of shopping and buying and wrapping and us all going into debt up over our ear lobes!

Surely it can’t be the fault of the sane and normally happy Canadians. They seemed to be trapped inside a bubble of “Spend Crazy”.

One side example for me was the deep apologies from a staff person in one of the stores when he said, “I am really sorry but we don’t have any stock left.  Our shelves are almost all empty now. It is Christmas after all and this is always the way it is.”

When I told him I wasn’t ready to buy but rather just needed information about the different kinds of equipment – he said oddly, “Thank goodness for that. I thought you were going to be like all the rest – demanding and angry.”

How odd can it all get?

Christmas is all about what happened when God sent his son wrapped up as a beautiful, cuddly baby.  BUT look what has happened.  Yesterday few people were thinking about that little baby of so long ago and what God was thinking about when he sent him our way.

I dangerously wanted to stand up in the busy stores and shout out – “DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT THIS HOLIDAY IS ALL ABOUT!?”

But I didn’t.  I spent a little money and ducked out the doors with my bag between the other shoppers pushing to get in!

So to all my MAN FRIENDS that shop between now and the 24th at night – you are in real trouble – the store shelves are real empty now and you will need to head to Jewelry stores where you can buy the best “guilt gifts”.

Good luck guys!  And have a Merry Christmas, a safe holiday, a push back from the table sooner holiday, and a wonderful last of the year celebration!

~ Murray Lincoln ~
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ah NUTS the $50 Million Jackpot was won by one person


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Ah NUTS the $50 Million Jackpot was won by one person
So the News Flash this morning reads…quote…
TORONTO - The $50 million jackpot up for grabs in last night's Lotto Max draw was won by a single ticket sold somewhere in Ontario.
The exact location has yet to be revealed.

Two Maxmillions prizes worth a $1 million dollars each were also offered last night but there's no word yet on whether either was claimed.

Next Friday's Lotto Max draw will offer a jackpot worth approximately $12 million.”
End Quote.

Ah nuts!  I don’t think I won.  I don’t think my wife actually bought a ticket. Nuts!  There goes our retirement plan flying out the window. We could have been rich and become very popular on our street… and in life.

Oh well. Gotta move on and can’t stay wondering why I didn’t get a ticket. Someone did buy it and did win – somewhere.

But I enjoyed the dream of what I might do with all that money.  I could pay off some folk’s debt.  I know one place for sure that I would pay off the debt the folks have – it would be a wonderful Christmas present for them. Oh Boy what a dream.

But then there is the problem of all the people that really need help and the $50 Million would only go so far. It would likely disappear in a month’s time if you really gave it away.

But it would be so much fun just doing it… just calling someone and asking what their mortgage is and then where their bank is… and whamo the debt is gone. I mean can you imagine what they could do with the money?

I will likely dream of this kind of thing for a long time.

One of my Ministerial friends from the past was sharing something with me about his brothers and some of his uncles.  His relatives were very wealthy. They were rolling the dough – actually millionaires.  But my friend was not. He was a poor minister serving in relatively poor churches for a long time before he was given a leadership role toward the end of his ministerial career.

I asked my friend why he was not rich like his brothers.  His answer was simple.  “I think God knew I couldn’t be trusted with the money.  He thought I would do better with what I have.”

I wrinkled my brow and scratched my head with that answer.  My thought back to him, but unspoken, “Maybe if God gave me an opportunity to try to handle a few millions he could judge me on it afterward…  I would love to try.”  But I never said it out loud… but still thought that it might be a good idea.

Oh well today I will go back to the same stuff I know so well. Work for what you get… and get what you work for honestly.  It was something my father instilled into his kids.  It is the custom of our family.  Be a hard worker and it will pay off in the end.

No lottery payout today. But then I haven’t had to pay a lawyer and a financial planner big bucks to handle my money either.

My question is – what would you be doing right now if you had won?  Would you call me?  I am waiting and have some great ideas.

~ Murray Lincoln ~
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