Mar 20


In 1978 Boney M captured in song the agony of Israelites languishing in captivity almost twenty-six millenia ago:

By the rivers of Babylon

There we sat down

Ye-eah we wept

When we remembered Zion

Substitute Shandro for Zion, and that stanza becomes an apt lament for the doctors of Alberta.

The Israelites of yore were yearning for the good old days.  But Alberta’s physicians will not be yearning for the days of Health Minister Tyler Shandro once this current turbulent period has entered the history books. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 20

Bloody handprint

On February 21, 2013, in Raleigh, North Carolina, Winnipeg Jets rookie defenceman Zach Redmond took a tumble during morning practice.

A teammate, unable to avoid him, skated over the back of his right leg, severing his femoral artery and sending geysers of blood pumping on to the ice.

The situation was dire—it was the sort of injury from which an average male can bleed to death in less than three minutes.

But Zach wasn’t destined to die that day. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 20



I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.

But that is not for them to decide.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

The neurosurgeon swept into the room where my wife had been waiting for twelve tension-filled hours.

“I have good news and bad news,” he announced.

“The good news is that I was able to remove most of his brain tumour.”

My wife sagged with relief.  “What’s the bad news?” she asked.

“The bad news,” he said, “is that your husband died on the operating table.”

I’m not actually writing to you from beyond the grave.  In truth, that neurosurgeon had only good news for my wife that March evening in Toronto. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 20

CAL111114-gyb-7.JPGKudos to emergency physician Dr. Adam Oster and colleagues who penned this letter to Health Minister Tyler Shandro, outlining the joint concerns of Calgary emergency doctors regarding his sudden, alarming cuts to health services in Alberta:



February 27, 2020

Minister Tyler Shandro,

It is with deep and urgent concern that we write as a united group of Calgary Emergency Physicians regarding the sudden and unilateral changes to health care in Alberta. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 20

Chess fallen queenChess is a game of extraordinary—sometimes infuriating— complexity.

Sixty-four squares, thirty-two pieces: it seems simple enough, on the surface.  But after just four moves, more than 288 billion different positions are possible.

To play the game well one must look seven or eight moves ahead, mentally mapping out the consequences of each possible move while weighing the potential responses and strategies of your opponent.  Placing a single piece in error can lead to disaster.

The best chess players—the grandmasters—craft opening moves with endgames already in mind.  Like top field generals, they hold the entire battlefield in their minds with perfect clarity.

Each piece on the chessboard plays a vital role.  But by far the most versatile piece, and hence the most critical to success, is the queen. (The king, technically the most important, exists only to be protected.)

Unlike chess, health care administration is not a game.  But like chess, it is extraordinarily, sometimes infuriatingly, complex—requiring careful deployment and coordination of numerous pieces. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 20


My father was a man of deep convictions.

He even sneezed with conviction.

He’d fumble in the hip pocket of his green work trousers—his face rapidly turning a deep shade of crimson—and produce a giant red handkerchief just in time to deliver an earsplitting “HUPSWAAAA!!!!!!!” into its depths.

I have a lasting memory of standing outside with my Dad one bright spring morning as one of his legendary eruptions frightened a long row of starlings—assembled neatly on the power line strung between our house and barn—skyward in chaotic disarray.

I’m every inch my father’s son.  Fifty percent of my DNA came from my mom—but as far as sneezing goes, all my talent comes from Dad. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 20

Flu maskAlmost twelve thousand people infected.

More than 250 dead.

Once again, a new and dangerous virus has escaped its birthplace and begun to march inexorably around the globe.

At the epicenter this time: Wuhan, China, a sprawling metropolis of 11 million people.

It and at least 15 other Chinese cities—more than 60 million people—are on lock-down.

Two brand-new hospitals— frantically erected almost overnight to attend to the afflicted—will open next week in Wuhan.

Municipal leaders have ordained that all residents should wear masks in public; drones are being deployed to berate citizens who don’t comply.  Larger drones are fighting the virus by spraying disinfectant over villages and cities. Read the rest of this entry »