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June 9, 2011

The Remaining Light: An Indictment of Our System of Seniors Care

The Remaining Light - A documentary film about how we care for seniors

Produced by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Hospital Employees' Union, The Remaining Light takes the viewer inside the often invisible part of Canada's health care system — the community-based services that provide care to seniors as they age and prepare for death.

The film, which VanRamblings features above in full, presents a compelling narrative of the lives of seniors and their families, while exploring the themes of dignity, the progressive degeneration of one's physical health that often accompanies aging, plus the increasing sense of social isolation that is felt by many of our seniors, and the failure of the Canadian health care system to provide adequately for our burgeoning 'aging' population.

Set in British Columbia, where the province's Ombudsperson continues her investigation into "aging in place", the themes and stories explored in Goh Iromoto and Shannon Daub's 2011 film resonate as an indictment of an underfunded system of seniors care, where our elder population are not venerated as they should be and not afforded the respect they deserve.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 7:14 PM | Permalink | VanRamblings

April 7, 2009

UBC's Great Farm Trek '09, 3:30 p.m. Today. Save the UBC Farm.


The UBC Farm has been an integral part of UBC since the Point Grey campus was founded in 1922. The UBC Farm is 24 hectares and is located on UBC Vancouver's south campus. It is the last working farm in Vancouver and an irreplaceable resource for our future that once gone, is gone forever. The farm provides a unique centre for innovative teaching and research about sustainable food systems, food security and health.

The UBC farm serves as an important educational resource to members of the academic and non academic community, including a wide variety of aboriginal groups, school children and others. In addition, the UBC Farm is a complex ecosystem and home to many species such as coyotes, frogs, eagles, owls, snakes and over 70 species of birds.

Why is the UBC Farm in crisis?

UBC may use the farm land for other purposes. Students and community members have worked very hard in the past year to preserve the farm. UBC has acknowledged that the farm needs to be considered in their planning process; however, we still need the University to commit to: keeping the farm at its current size and location, providing stable funding, and including key users in determining the farm's future


Come to the Great Farm Trek '09 today, Tuesday, April 7th. The Trek will gather at the Student Union Building at 3:30 p.m. and trekkers will walk to the UBC Farm for a celebration with food and music, and a ceremonial planting. Free parking is available at UBC Farm anytime. A free bus shuttle, originating at the SUB, will take participants to and from the Trek, which will be in progress between 3 p.m & 6 p.m. We'll see you at the rally today!

Sponsored by UBC Alma Mater Society, and the Friends of the UBC Farm.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Vancouver

August 20, 2005

Turn Up the Quiet: Moving Toward a Noise Free World
The Quest for Sonic Bliss and a Good Night’s Sleep


It’s an epidemic, and it’s all around us. It’s in our bedrooms, in our rec rooms and living rooms, in our cars and even in our baby’s crib. It causes stress, isolation, sleep deprivation and increases our blood pressure. And it is literally making us deaf.

What is this monster? It’s noise. Noise is responsible for more than one-third of all cases of hearing loss, a life-altering disability that is eminently preventable. Hearing loss is Canada’s third leading chronic disability, affecting more than 3 million people — and the leading cause is noise, responsible for more than one third of cases.

According to a recently published study conducted by Timothy C. Hain, a Professor of Neurology and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois ...

We are steadily losing our hearing due to over-exposure to noise at an earlier age than ever before. The number of people with hearing loss who are between the ages 18 and 44 increased 17 per cent. The greatest loss in hearing is found in people 45 to 64 — 20 years younger than expected and the reason: over exposure to noise.

Children are also feeling the effects of living in a noisier world and are especially vulnerable. According to the study, 15% of school children have hearing loss, increasing to 30% in young adults entering the work force.

In this month’s issue of Utne Magazine, writer David Schimke explores our quest for the creative and natural soundscape all around us — the music of nature, the laughter of friends and neighbours, and our own inner voice.

I didn’t know that cheaper housing was statistically linked to mind-numbing noise pollution: that city planners insensitive to the needs of lower-middle-class citizens typically build two-lane highways through neighbourhoods designed for the horse and buggy, or that airport runways literally begin and end in people’s backyards. When I first moved to the city, I didn’t expect that construction crews and street sweepers would rattle and hum before sunup, while schoolchildren and working families tried in vain to rest.

According to the U.S. 2001 Census Survey, 11.6 million households reported that street or traffic noise was bothersome, and an additional 4.5 million said it was so bad they wanted to move.

Schimke reports that there are 40 million cases of hearing loss in the United States, with 10 million cases attributable to excess noise. Besides contributing to deafness, at just 85 decibels (a human voice averages 65 decibels, while a hair dryer clocks in at 95), high sound levels lead to stress (the human pain threshold is 120 decibels), indigestion, high blood pressure, weakening of the immune system, and hypertension.

The relationship between noise and the natural soundscape is similar to the relationship between litter and the landscape. We need to get people to understand that, to create a new aural ethic. Dissonance is not inherent in the human condition. Noise induced hearing loss doesn’t have to happen to you. For now, practice safe listening — turn it down and use protection.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 7:42 PM | Permalink | Food & Health

July 13, 2004

White Bread Could Spoil Your Diet


According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who eat whole grain foods, such as wholewheat bread, do not experience the same gain in waist size as those who consume white bread, and processed white flour products, such as cakes, cookies, Danish pastries and cinnamon buns, etc.

The scientists at Tufts University in Boston found that whole grain foods, which are higher in fibre, give a feeling of fullness so you eat less, say Dr. Katherine Tucker’s research team. Dr. Tucker avers: “Waist circumference is very much associated with this high-refined grains pattern.”

Many of the foods in the healthy diet are high in fibre. Not only do these foods fill you up more quickly, they also have a low glycemic index (GI), says researchers. The GI is a relative measure of how fast a given food raises blood sugar.

The study compared foods gram for gram for carbohydrate. Carbohydrates that breakdown quickly during digestion have the highest GI value and blood glucose response is fast and high. Carbohydrates that breakdown slowly release glucose gradually into the blood stream and have low GI values. In turn, the level of blood sugar affects the amount of insulin produced by the body which is linked with appetite.

“Many of the foods in the healthy pattern are low in glycaemic load, which evokes a decreased insulin response and therefore decreases hunger and energy intake,” say the researchers. “Those in the white-bread pattern received almost 16% of their daily energy intake from white bread — the food with the highest GI value.”

According to a spokesperson with the British Nutrition Foundation, “Consumption of wholegrain foods, such as wholemeal bread, is associated with reduced rates of heart disease, some cancers, type II diabetes and such foods may play a role in weight maintenance.”

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 1:27 PM | Permalink | Food & Health

May 10, 2004

World Food Prices Set to Rise

At the same time we're being hit by increased prices for gas at the pump, the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute (EPI) reports that world food prices are set for a dramatic jump in the coming year.

According to the group’s calculations, four successive shortfalls in annual grain harvests have reduced the world’s carry-over stocks to their lowest level in 30 years, amounting to only 59 days of consumption. That is 11 days short of the 70-day level that is traditionally considered the minimum needed for food security.

The last time global stocks were so low in the early 1970s, wheat and rice prices doubled with disastrous consequences for millions of the world’s poor. A similar pattern may be asserting itself now, according to Lester Brown, EPI’s founder and president, as basic food and feed commodities are on the rise.

Brown says that the challenge of rebuilding the stocks to the 70-day consumption level will be very difficult to overcome, particularly if early indications for the winter wheat crop, which was planted last fall, are not hopeful.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:02 AM | Permalink | Food & Health

April 22, 2004

Make Earth Day 2004 count



While some people may plant trees or pick up litter to honour Earth Day, Yahoo (by way of Debra Galant) points the way to how you might go about Saving the World in a Day.

As we read every day, and as we are aware, environmental crises abound as our own actions and those of industry pollute and degrade the fragile environment we all need to survive. What can we do? Well, certainly this provides some insight as answer to that question.

First launched as an environmental awareness event in the United States in 1970, Earth Day (April 22nd) is celebrated as the birth of the environmental movement. Spearheaded by Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson and Harvard University student Denis Hayes, Earth Day has become a powerful catalyst for change, involving some 20 million participants each April 22nd, in teach-ins that address decades of environmental pollution.

In Canada in 1990, two million Canadians joined 200 million people in 141 nations across the globe in celebrating the first International Earth Day. Earth Day serves to put needed pressure on heads of nation states to address issues such as climate change and the world wide loss of species.

In many places, including Canada, Earth Day has grown into Earth Week and even Earth Month, when thousands of events take place, ranging from waterway clean-ups to engaging in a variety of other pollution solutions. This is Earth Day. Organize, volunteer, and learn what you can do to help make this a better world for all of us.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Food & Health | Comments (1)

March 25, 2004

McCapitalism: Banning Super-Size and Launching a Kids Line

MCDONALDS U.S. fast food giant McDonald's will launch a children's clothing line in North America and western Europe in the very near future. The ‘McKids’ clothing line will be designed, made and distributed by Chinese firm Shanghai Longhurst, and will be supplemented by a product line that will include toys, videos, DVDs and books, among other items.

The ‘McKids’ initiative was launched in November 2003, when a new retail line featuring action toys, casual clothing and interactive books and videos was announced. In their statement, McDonald's said the clothing line will offer ‘quality fabrics’ in styles that will endure “season after season”.

The McDonald's brand has been under fire by healthy-eating groups questioning the merits of eating fast food. As a consequence, the company launched another initiative March 15 — so far applicable only to the U.S. — that will effectively ban super-size portions at their ‘restaurants’.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 7:21 PM | Permalink | Food & Health

March 4, 2004

Vote against gene-altered food historic

Writing in the Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times, John Nichols suggests that a more momentous event, this past Tuesday, than the ascendancy of Senator John Kerry to the role of assured Democratic candidate against George Bush come this November, was an historic vote that took place in northern California's Mendocino County, where voters passed the nation's first ban on the raising of genetically engineered plants and animals.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:05 PM | Permalink | Food & Health

February 27, 2004

Maxim's Bakery

Back in the 70s and 80s, Chinatown's Loong Foong Bakery, on Keefer Street, was a Vancouver treasure known to only some. Celebrated for providing a wide range of Chinese delicacies, in a friendly and welcoming environment, the Loong Foong was a destination bakery, a once-a-week must-stop-by-and-indulge experience.

Alas, the Loong Foong Bakery is no more, having closed its door three years back. Until recently, no comparable Chinese bakery had emerged to take its place. Well, now, in the same location as the old Loong Foong, at 257 Keefer Street, Maxim's Bakery has opened its doors, and what an incredibly inexpensive, addictive treat this new bakery has turned out to be.

Even though the fare at Maxim's doesn't quite fit into my South Beach low carb food regimen, a visit to the bakery has become a twice-a-week part of my regular schedule of activities, during which time I set about to purchase one, or more, of the following items: humungous, hot and delicious BBQ Pork Buns, for 60 (Maxim's also serves equally scrumptious stuffed curry beef - as well as chicken and ham - buns, for the same price); steamed buns stuffed with pork and rice, 2 for $1.10; stuffed chicken pies for 95; gigantic spring rolls for 80; red bean cakes for 60; strawberry, peach or coffee cake wedges for $1; and an almond cookie to-die-for, for only 80.

Check out Maxim's. You won't be sorry you did. And enjoy!

Maxim's other Lower Mainland locations: Metrotown, 4600 Kingsway; Vancouver East, 5613 Victoria Drive; Richmond Centre, 6060 Minoru Boulevard; Coquitlam's Henderson Place, 1163 Pinetree Way.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 4:50 PM | Permalink | Food & Health | Comments (1)

February 23, 2004

Nigeria's Polio Situation Frightening

In various reports released over the course of the past week, the United Nations has announced that the world is on the verge of an outbreak of polio that, although currently restricted to the African continent, could very well spread to and across the developed world resulting in an epidemic not dissimilar to that experienced across the globe in the last century.

With the support of the U.N. and the World Health Organization, parts of Nigeria have begun a massive immunization programme, but an Islamic leaders' vaccine ban could very well defeat the best efforts of the U.N. and the W.H.O to vaccinate some 15 million children in West Africa who are at risk of contracting polio. The consequences of a ban could be catastrophic.

Two Nigerian states, Kano and Zamfara, have stuck to their position that the WHO-led campaign is part of a U.S. conspiracy to render Muslims infertile or give them AIDS, forbidding health workers from administering the vaccines. Independent research carried out in Nigeria has found no traces of HIV or anti-fertility agents in the polio vaccine being used there.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:44 PM | Permalink | Food & Health

February 12, 2004

Agatston isn't a diet doctor; he's a doctor who prevents diseases

The South Beach Diet: A doctor based at Miami Beach's Mt. Sinai Medical Center, noted cardiologist Arthur Agatston's hard cover South Beach Diet book has sat atop the New York Times' non-fiction bestseller list for a year.

Not your run-of-the-mill low-carb diet, Dr. Agatson contends that by following his nutritional plan you will dramatically reduce your potential for coronary heart disease and diabetes, and will feel much, much healthier.

The diet on which Bill Clinton lost 38 pounds in the first three months — and having experienced some personal success with Agatson's nutritional plan (while stuffing myself with cheese, nuts, veggies, meat, poultry and fish) — the South Beach Diet is something you may want to check out.

The best part: you lose that dangerous and disturbing belly fat first!

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 7:38 PM | Permalink | Food & Health


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