Monday, December 22, 2014

The Saga Of The Well Oiled Office Fridge

Being a responsible citizen is no easy task. Despite my best efforts to dispose of my office fridge, circa 2000, I found it frustrating and at times humbling to do so.Unbeknown to me, modern charities have rigid rules in place to thwart the unsuspecting donor.
 After phoning the charity to inquire about the goods I was donating, I was told to come on down. Pulling up to the clearly marked depot I am met by a massive muscular endowed individual who had this snarly look on his face. I knew not to mess with him. He then proceeded to unload my vehicle, gladly taking the totally new suitcase as well as my vintage microwave. However when it came to the office fridge, he told me it was unacceptable to the charity.
Not to be undone by my failure to dispose of the fridge, I returned to my condo to do further research. After hitting the appropriate search engine I was given the name of another local charity which claimed in writing no less, to accept used fridges.
 Immediately I took off in my car ,with the fridge secured in the trunk. I arrive at the second depot, this time being met by a clean cut man who proceeded to inform me ,in a most pleasant manner, that the fridge, now looking it's stated age, was too old for re-cycling. Substitute  older person in this story and you have a subject, that is old age I wish to address in a later blog. At this juncture ,the nice young man, simply informed me there was another re-cycling depot at the end of the road, which surly would take the aging fridge off my hands.
 A determined man, with an expressed purpose  to de-clutter my locker, so as to be ready for my anticipated move to B.C., I was not going to be deterred by this second hurdle. After recognizing the traffic patterns, I proceeded to the gate of the re-cycling plant,. Here I was met by a young lady who give me a ledger, asked my business and then give me instructions where to go." Turn left and look for a heap of metal. "I turned left and before me was the biggest pile of mental junk known to mankind. Boats, cars, house trailers, all were there. Fearful the heap would fall on me, thereby burying me alive, I found strength I have not possessed in years, pulling the fridge free and getting back into the car the fastest my short little legs would carry me. 
I got back into the car, proceeded to the booth, where I was weighed again, and then given the magnificent sum of $4.30.Altogether a rewarding day in the life of a well oiled office fridge.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Pickle ball, a sport in which players use paddles to hit a whiffle ball(perforated polymer ball) over a low net, is the latest craze to be adopted by fit seniors. The sport, which was named, not after the inventor's dog Pickles, as is widely believed, but from the term "pickle boat", referring to the last boat to return with it's catch.
 After hearing about the sport from my brother, a retired criminal lawyer, who resides in B.C., I secretly formulated a plan to get him back for a deed he committed some 60 years ago. My father, a man's man, figured if his 2 sons were going to fight, they should learn to do it properly. Thus one evening he came home with 2 sets of professional boxing gloves for his young gladiators. The big moment came, my brother 2 years older with massive arms, took one swing and down I went knocked out cold. As befits the moment my brother, acting as his own referee, counted me out 1----10., then proceeded to help me.
 Now, it is my time to exact revenge. My brother, a young 71, a former athlete of some note, has developed a highly competitive attitude(killer instinct), to the game of Pickle ball. I plan to challenge him to a match(without him knowing of my plan to perfect my skill), emerge victoriously, thereby striking a blow of revenge for all younger brothers. Who says sibling rivalry fades with age.
 Thus,early on a crisp October Saturday morning I found myself entering a west end high school to learn the fundamentals of pickle ball. After registration and signing a waiver not to sue the sponsoring organization, I found myself in the middle of a group of seniors all anxious to learn the intricacies of the game. The beginner group as opposed to the intermediate group, consisted of a coed  cohort,equal numbers of both sexes, ranging in age from early 60s to a petit senior-senior woman.
A gentleman, Patrick, who had played before, reluctantly took charge of explaining the rules of the game to us. Soon after we were divided into 2 groups of 4,assigned to a court and explained the boundaries of the court, For example, the net is 36 inches high, one of the rules I latter broke ,states there is no spiking(hitting the ball directly without letting it bounce, in the kitchen area(3 feet on either side of the net. The rule is there to protect the player from injury.
 After a short warm up we were set to play. Dusting off my old athletic skills, I found despite the ravage of time, my eye-hand co-ordination was still operative, and the killer instinct alive and well.
In a totally inappropriate move, I entered the kitchen area, and blasted a spike that came within inches of decapitating my senior-senior opponent. Indeed David the athlete is back!
After realizing my indiscretion, in the interest of fair play, I scaled back my killer instinct, and a highly enjoyable time was had by all.
 Afterwards, I apologized profusely to my senior-senior, and learned "Bunny" is 93 years young and a socially delightful woman.
  • The following day, I am beset with muscle aches I have not felt in 30 years. Nevertheless, I consider the days' activities to be a roaring success and look forward to a long and fruitful career as a Picket Baller.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Heart Incident-Saturday April13/2013 9:30am

On Second Thought
Life's Lessons Revised
 Illegitimi Non Carborundum:
 Don't Let The Bastards Wear You Down 
"I learned that it is not the result that is the goal, but how many people make the journey with you, love you and cherish you."
 Globe and Mail Oct7/2013   Tasneem Veli
As I awake this Saturday morning, I find myself a resident of Room 5327 of the Heart Institute, University of Ottawa. Just 2 short days ago, I was woken out of a sound sleep by a heavy, labouring pain, which felt like an anchor on my chest. Immediately alarm bells sounded, "Was I having a heart attack", something I feared was my genetic destiny. Despite my best effort to eat well, exercise religiously, and to try to maintain a stress-free life, I found myself alarmed, scared and uncertain as to what my future life would be.
Despite my symptoms, I chose to proceed with my normal daily life including seeing patients like Mr. X,  who was seeing me,ironically,to change his Type A personality. For those of you not familiar, Type A personalities tend to be aggressive, demanding, and are at high risk to have cardiac difficulties.
I was not completely convinced I was in the middle of a heart attack. Having seen my father suffer some 7 heart attacks, my symptoms did not quite  match up to his.
 Nevertheless, after enduring the pain all day without resolution, I decided to go to the hospital. A quick trip to the local hospital, not by ambulance as suggested by the telehealth nurse, but simply as a passenger in a car driven by my worried and frantic girlfriend.
Arrival at the very same hospital a very short time ago I was the distinguished Chief Psychologist, now a frightened and humble patient. A simply greeting by the triage nurse, a quick explanation of my symptoms, a designation of a 10 code priority, and literally 60 seconds latter I found myself on a gurney in the observation room.
During the next12 hours, my life flashes before me, images of  past regrets, present conflicts and future dreams, intertwined in a cacophonic,multi-sensory environment of life and death drama. Am I really having a heart attack?
As I try to understand what has happened other allied heath workers probe and invade my body with various instruments in an attempt to answer this question.EKG,blood analysis and other modern diagnostic tests led to the conclusion by my emergency physician that I have had a mild heart attack. I am immediately given mass dosages of heparin to thin my blood.
A cardiology consultation is requested and soon after arrives a very young slim pony-tailed  lady who claims to my amazement to be a 1st year resident. After further tests the young protégée, decides on the bases of a 6th sense, that something does not add up. She orders further tests whose results support her alternative diagnosis. This young Dr. states I did not have a heart attack but have a condition called parimycardius. An unusual condition in which a cold or virus attaches itself to the wall of the heart muscle. No doubt, my recent trip to Mexico, in which I broke my cardinal rule not to leave on a Monday, is a contributing factor although as a rational experienced psychologist, I would never admit this publicly.
Following my now brilliant Dr.'s advice and astute diagnosis, I proceeded to reward her with the following  life lesson, "Don't be afraid to follow your inner voice or 6th sense and you will have a stellar career."
 Following my new diagnosis, a more benign diagnosis than a heart attack, but still life changing, I spend the remainder of the night attempting to sleep on a gurney, all the while trying to come to terms with what this mean to me.
 Early next morning a bed became available in the Heart Institute, which is physically located  next to the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Transported via the long, dingy corridors that connect various wings of   the hospital I am literally and figuratively traveling through  the bowels of the hospital. Protocol requires a nurse and a security officer to accompany me.The unspoken reason, I am a risk for cardiac arrest and in an emergency a second person is needed  to seek help. In a previous life I visited this esteemed institution,  not in a supine position, but walking, thinking and successfully persuading the executive of the heart institute to add a psychology position to the Cardiac Rehabitation team.
 Finally I arrive at Room 5727, where I am immediately examined by a nurse who tethers me to a telemetric device which monitors my vital signs, which are then projected onto various screens displayed throughout the ward. I am indeed a heart patient, restricted to H4 ward.
 As I acclimatize to my surroundings, I soon learn I am in a protective community which has a rhythm and beat of it's own. Life is very structured. Each member of the team whether it be the cleaning staff, the woman who serves you your meal or your nurse is dedicated to assist you in a warm, friendly and engaging manner.
 I learn quickly that 7am is the start of the 12 hour day shift, where every morning you are woken by your day nurse who examines you ,to be followed soon after by the blood technician who draws blood so that your enzymes can be monitored. In my particular case this is especially important as the enzymes indicate whether my heart muscle has been damaged. As a result of the virus attaching itself to my heart muscles, there are inflamed , rubbing or chafing with my heart. In the ears of a trained cardiologist a stethoscope allows the DR. to hear the rubbing and assess my progress.
My day consists of eating ,resting, walking the corridors of the ward and visiting with my fellow inmates who gather around the TV in the family room. Members of my new community include a farmer, a businessman, and a labour, mostly but not exclusively men from all walks of life. In many ways we represent the  various ethnic and cultures from around the world all united in our struggle with heart disease. Many are waiting for bypass surgery others for a heart transplant. To show you how heart disease can impact anyone, on the ward there is a very young woman, a triathlon athlete no less , who was waiting for a heart transplant.
Despite our mutual frailties or perhaps because of them one tends to bond quickly to one's inmates. Whether it is walking the square corridors of the ward together, or in other cases simply waving as fellow inmates go bye, we become familiar with each others stories and try to offer support to each other. Some patients are long distances from their home , do not have the day to day support of their families, and therefore  appreciate and value the ongoing inmate support.
Food, or the lack of it, is a big concern on the ward. Hospital meals are nutritious, but limited in quantity, more often than not leaving the inmate starving. One quickly leans on family ,visitors or sharing with your fellow inmate to combat this common problem. The communal fridge of the inmates is full of goodies which is shared by all.
After spending a very long week-end at the Heart Institute I am scheduled early Monday am for an echocardiogram, the results which will determine if I am released from the hospital. The new is good and I am released with specific instructions to severely restrict my physical activities and to take massive doses of aspirin. Fortunately my recover goes well . I realize I have dodged a bullet and am grateful and thankful for my return to good health.
Cardiac disease does not discriminate, no matter what one's status in life.We are all susceptible to health issues, a very humbling common denominator to us all.Carpe Diem-"seize the day".

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Low Tech Guy In A High Tech Society

How many of you can identify with me as a low tech.guy(gal) in our high tech.society? The frustrations of being technically challenged in today's society is totally embarrassing. How to explain to a new friend that I don't text and at the same time convince him I really do have a Ph.D. As I have learned first hand, smart phones are only as smart as the user.
Recently my cell phone contract expired and I faced the daunting prospect of re-newal, not to the ubiquitous up-grade but to the lowly downgrade. How to purchase an old fashion flip phone in today's society is no easy task. Try accessing the fully automated phone system of any carrier(what happened to actually talking to a live person), where there is no, I repeat no, option for downgrading.
After a totally frustrating week in which I visited and expressed my needs to countless well intended individuals representing most of the major carriers I was no further ahead. They simply could not comprehend my desire to purchase a cell phone for the sole purpose of talking!
Finally one last attempt connected me to a woman who clearly had accumalted some helpful life experience. She actually understood my phone needs. I knew I was on solid ground with her when she called me "sweetie", a no-no in today's culturally sensitive society, but totally cool with me. A few minutes to process my request and viola I had a phone that met my limited needs and ability.  
To understand the effect that high tech has on our society all one has to do is look at the foyer of any condo in Canada. What use to be the familiar site of the local newspaper strewn on the floor of the foyer ready to be delivered to it's owner 's door now stands a single paper the lonely remaining sentinel of my generation. Sadly I now find myself  a lonely holdout of an actual paper as the younger generation choses to go paperless. Soon I fear my daily multi-sensory pleasure of reading an actual paper will be replaced by the cold and dispassionate electronic version 
I'm totally impressed by the technical savvy of my clients often multi-tasking as I attempt to engage them psychologically. Their smart phone seems attached to their fingers as they effortlessly respond to the texts being sent to them. Nevertheless I silently note one last victory, for those of us technologically challenged. At the end of the session, as they laborious struggle to note their next appointment in their electronic calendar, I surreptitious write it down on my paper weekly calendar, smiling inwardly at my token victor.
The debate regarding technology is long over. Technology has a valid place in our own homes and offices but must be used with discretion,balance and integrity. Despite my personal resistance I have successfully incorporate many new technologies into my practice. Indeed learning new technology such as this blog, website and interface banking  has been most gratifying. I am not advocating to go back in time,only for the consumer to have choice in his/her decision whether to participate or not in this technological revolution.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Reflections onFather's Day

Father's Day, a bittersweet day for me. A time to remember, honour and respect the memories of my father and at the same time to acknowledge the privilege and joy of being a father to 3 wonderful sons.
 Excerpts from my recently published book "Life Lessons" describe  my relationship with him. "My father, while physically short and stocky, was a larger than life figure to me. Intelligent, well read, he was highly energetic and thoroughly enjoyed a practical joke.My father was a big, small man whom I idealized. Roy, the youngest of three brothers, was brought up by a stern, cold, calculating father and a caring mother who infused him with a mixture of socialism and capitalism that would take a lifetime to integrate.
I recall one conversation I had with Dad, in which he encouraged me to become a millionaire and then work to help the poor. My father, a maverick, a rebel. a secular Jew, was ahead of his time in encouraging the wealthy to make  society better by giving back.
My father, inculcated me with integrity, justice and the belief that to be a somebody you either had to be very wealthy or have an outstanding education while in both cases giving back to the community". One of my fondest memories of Dad is his playing football on the front lawn with baby sister Joanne, all of 3 years old hiking the ball and my brother Stanley and I taking turns catching the ball thrown by Dad, while the other did his best to defend.
Unfortunately, my father's ill health limited his activities and his untimely death at age 56 was a major loss to me.My father a man of his times, was not in tune with my more modern sensitivity and psychological make-up. My professional ambition was fuelled in part by my desire to win my father's approval and love. I wish that I would have had the opportunity for each of us to get to know each other as adults. If you are fortunate to have your father with you, make sure he is a part of your life.
Perhaps, because of the early death of my father, I have always cherished and nurtured my relationship with my 3 sons. As a father, despite my human limitations, I tried to make my children aware of the real world. I taught them to treat others, no matter their background, with respect and dignity and to make an effort to make this a better world. I tried to be open and direct with them and not shield them from the injustices and harsh reality that sometimes occurs despite our best efforts.
I am proud of my boys, of the caring and compassionate men they have become. They are all free spirits, who march to their own tune, and I feel blessed to be part of their lives. 
David Nozick

Friday, April 18, 2014

Impressions Of India

India, a country of 1.2 billon people, is a nation of stark contrasts, rich and poor, both a 1st world and 3rd world country. Upon arrival at New Delhi's new modern IGI international airport, we ran the gauntlet of service people looking for their clients. Identifying our driver by his signage indicating our names, we quickly exchanged pleasantries and were ushered through the polluted and foggy weather, struggling to catch our breathe. This was our immediate introduction to this amazing and mysterious country.
As foreign tourists it soon became clear we closely resemble India's privilege class, even though our heart and souls go out to the poor and downtrodden. Entering our 5 star hotel, we are treated with the outmost respect by security staff and hotel staff. There is literally nothing they wouldn't, do to make our stay pleasant. After a brief rest we spend the next day wondering the streets of New Delhi , interacting with the Indian people who are warm, engaging and helpful to us. Deciding to take a taxi to dinner that night, our driver, an elderly man driving a very old ambassador which coughed and wheezed it way along, insisted on waiting for us at our restaurant, before driving us back to the hotel. His English perfectly understandable, we were able to exchange mutual personal information. A most enjoyable encounter.
 While vising the upscale Khan market in New Delhi we saw many wealthy Indians frequenting the restaurants and shops featuring the latest American brands. On one occasion we met a very distinguished elderly man wearing a Nehru jacket, who was surrounded by security staff with Uzi guns drawn. We learned later he was the Governor of Punjab state.
 The upper caste,(class), enjoy the finest schools, universities, and health care that money can buy. Many physicians, US trained, not only cater to their wealthy Indian clients  but to other wealthy clients from abroad. The latest medical technology is readily available for those who enjoy the ability to pay.
 Perhaps the best example of this entitled attitude of the upper class, occurred while we were flying AIR INDIA flight 433 from New Delhi to Varanasi( home of the Ganges river) via Gaya. Soon after landing in Gaya, the modern airbus was about to take off for Varanasi, when a very well dressed Indian man of approximately 40 years of age, reputed to be a physician, decided to stand up in the aisle as an act of protest because the airline" did not serve  a proper breakfast on the flight. "For 15 minutes he stood, immune to the protestations of both the staff and fellow passengers. The captain of the plane threatened to return to the gate At one point a rather burly character threatened to punch him out, yet still he persisted. Finally after a near riot broke out on the plane, he sat down. Upon arrival at Varanasi he was taken off the plane by security only to be rescued by fellow passengers complaining about the lack of service. This incident, in which we were passengers 2 rows away ,was reported in the Times of India, Feb8/2014.
On that same plane, another more positive incident happened , involving my son, who was experiencing a very painful back injury. While negotiating with the Air India staff, to upgrade his seat, a rather large, muscular man spontaneously offered my son his first row seat in the airplane, a gesture all the more remarkable, when we learned that he had been flying all night from America.  We learned his name, Rinku Singh, who was visiting his family in nearby Varanasi. Later we learned his remarkable life story in which he won a throwing contest in India and presently is the first Indian player pitching in the National Baseball League for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Currently his life story is being made into a movie. I intend to follow his career and will forever be grateful for his compassion and generosity of spirit.
 On the other hand, the poor, the homeless,and uneducated face a far worse fate, often being enslaved either by the shackles of religion or poverty.Many, we saw, by the roadside, begging for money, the mother holding her baby, children who should be in school, performing on the road, the elderly poorly dressed in the cold weather, without dignity or respect asking for a handout. In every town and village , by far the most difficult experience in visiting India, is to handle one's emotions while experiencing this shocking and all too familiar experience.
The emerging middle class, the ubiquitous call centres, the expanding tourist and textile industry, are piloted by ambitious, driven individuals who will do almost anything to make a buck. A concrete example. Our driver, a married man with 2 small daughters, who was assigned to drive us all over Northern India for 2 weeks, would pull all kinds of stunts, all in the name of making money. Let me be more specific. Forget about taking us to expensive shops and restaurants where he got kickbacks, but having the nerve  as my ancestors would say" chutzpah" to actually ask to borrow money because " his bank card got stuck in the machine. "It took a stern lecture from my son 5 days later, before we were stopped in the middle of a road and handed our money by a total stranger. Upon our departure from India he confessed, hoping to get a big tip, "he had made mistakes. "I said to him, "we all make mistakes, it takes a smart man to learn from those mistakes."  
Similarly our guide in Varanasi declared he was not a real guide but" an organizer". How prophetically we would learn the next morning when he refused to join us on a boat tour of the Ganges River, the main tourist attraction, for reasons  he never did divulge. Despite seeing very little of him, he left us in the capable hands of our driver for most of the 2 days, he did manage to find time to send us off, no doubt looking for a sizeable tip
 While in Jodhpur we visited a storefront shop which sells handicraft woven by uneducated and poor women and girls from the countryside. The Sambhali Trust is a non-profit charitable organization which trains women and girls in basic literacy, vocational skills and sewing. Please join me in supporting this wonderful organization.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A wandering/wondering Jew I am

History reveals that the Jewish people wondered the desert for 40 years before finding their biblical home in the Land of Israel. Similarly, as a man of Russian Jewish descent I find myself both wandering and wondering about my options as a modern Jew.
To set the record straight for those traditional Jews who always want to know your lineage, I came from  an entirely kosher yet  unique background. On my paternal side I knew my grandparents had ideological differences, one a staunch capitalist-entrepreneur businessman, the other a proud card carrying communist. Somehow my father, the youngest of 3 sons, raised in this liberal, highly cultured North End Winnipeg home,  managed to become a traditional Jew without organized religion.
 A conversation I once had as a child with my Dad, resonates with me." Dad,What is a Jew? David, A Jew is a good person who does good deeds." Simply in it's concept, it encompasses all of the values that I try to live, ever day of my life.
Unlike my father's family, my mother  grew up in a traditional Orthodox home in North Winnipeg, where her father earned a honest but modest income as a tailor..My mother, a breathe taking beautiful woman, was not able to convince her husband of the merits of this lifestyle although my parents participated in all of the Jewish holidays and raised their children with traditional Jewish values.
As I gently move into my retirement and approach the seventh decade of my life, I find myself increasingly conflicted by my heritage. On the one hand, I enjoy  the traditional Jewish customs and the sense of community it creates, yet on the other hand, I am appalled by the judgemental, rigidness and hypocritical ethical behaviour I see in some members of my society. Always a vocal minority, they often talk the talk, but don't walk the walk or to put it another way " they don't get it."
In many ways formalized religion promotes an exclusionary, not an inclusionary society. Many of us who believe in a higher power, realize that there are more than one way to climb a mountain.  
Over the years I have failed in my attempt to find a Jewish community whose values I could embrace unconditionally. Nevertheless I continue my search for such a welcoming, inclusionary community. In the intern I filter and adopt various Jewish practices which guide me . I try, as humanly possible, to be a good Jew, to walk the walk, and to make this world a better place.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


First written and published 18 years ago

As a practicing clinical psychologist, I am many things to many people. However, who I am and how I see myself is a result of my own internal debate and journey of life. As a product of both the silent and baby-boomer generations, like so many of my peers, I have acquired a well defined set of moral and ethical values that have served me well as I "climbed the corporate ladder" and raised a family. During those early years life seemed well defined and relatively simple. Being a natural caretaker and caregiver, you will not be surprised that I chose to opt into the society of my parents. This, for a man of my generation, meant being a good provider, taking care of the "outside of the house" and being there for my family. Later, the women's movement, children's rights, massive changes in immigration policies, as well as technological advances would contribute to the confusion between men and women.
This smooth period in my life was suddenly interrupted at the age of 40, when I went through a "mid-life or identity crisis." Most women do not experience this phenomenon, having years earlier experienced their own internal debate and conflict between their professional role and their nurturing role. Like others experiencing an identity crisis, I questioned everything about my life, including my values, my self worth and my life goals. The next decade of my life  would be spent attempting to answers those questions.
Despite the fact that my generation is one of the wealthiest, healthiest and most privileged, during our forties, all of us have had to deal with issues that no one is prepared to do so. Each of us must learn to cope with losses, whether due to health, death, divorce or job loss. Perhaps for the first in our lives we experience our own vulnerability and reaction to pain and loss
 How we handle our losses, whether we allow ourselves the time to mourn and to heal, or if we chose to remain stuck in our anger, will determine the manner in which we live out the rest of our lives. Each of us must learn to open ourselves to our support systems and allow others the privilege  to care for us.
Many have written of the differences between men and women, but with age and grace comes an interesting change with each of the sexes becoming more in touch with traits of the opposite sex. Thus men display more of their feminine traits, sensitivity, nurturing and women become more assertive and goal oriented. These newfound traits. commonly found in the early fifties, lead to more equal and satisfying relationships between men and women.
As I approach the autumn of my life, there is a sense of renewal and purpose, a spiritual reawakening that allows me to accept my limits and to cherish the daily miracles. Although I value external stimulation and beauty, it is the inner peace and strength that carry me forward. I am gradually redefining my goals to include closer relationships with my family, children, loved ones, and friends.
I have a need to encourage the youth of today, whether it be professionally or as a mentor or friend, with their struggle to find their identity in this constantly changing world. I have taken on new challenges and am striving to understand the massive technological and sociological changes that are occurring in our society. Although I have chosen to write this essay in a personal form, these changes I have attempted to articulate in my own personal growth, are similar to other men and women who have taken the time and energy to get to know themselves on their journey of life.