True story:

Hello Doctor. I'm pissing blood with increasing frequency and I'm in constant pain.

"How long has this been going on?"

A couple of weeks now. I saw my regular doctor last week and he said to make an acute care appointment if the pain gets worse, so I did.

"We'll schedule you for some imaging. Someone will give you a call in the next 30-60 days when the referral goes through, and you'll be able to schedule with them. In the mean time drink plenty of water and take ibuprofen."

I'm already drinking water and taking ibuprofen. It isn't helping and the pain is getting worse.

"Try alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Is there anything else you need today?"

"We break it, we buy it" is the promise that Uncle Sam makes when you sign yourself over. What isn't expressed is the very low priority and regard with which Uncle Sam holds for broken things.


The service member(s) listed below have been deployed for greater than 30 days to locations known to be exposed to unknown airborne hazards as a result of the disposal of refuse by open air burning, including categorized military waste.

Known and suspected illness caused by exposure to military burn pits includes respiratory illness, eczema, organ disease, and other specific conditions. The VA has recently adopted new guidelines for specific diagnoses, but experts believe the list is incomplete and continue to publicly advocate for an expansion of these presumptive conditions.

If you or someone you know was exposed to military burn pits in Iraq, Afghanistan, certain parts of Africa, Kuwait, or Saudi Arabia, contact the law offices of...

After the rest of us had logged off on the day, exhausted from too much food, drink, and sporadically witty conversation, the twins headed out to party with friends.

I checked my messages. We'd sent forth several AI-generated Yuletide images with our digital season's greetings. One older person on our list responded by email, thanked us for the wonderful traditional card.

So, about the twins. One avoids alcohol. The other does not. Boxing Day saw us driving our mildly hungover niece to her student apartment in Brantford, Ontario. Since she had never heard the Dropkick Murphys' "The Season's Upon Us" before, we played that, amidst some less subversive seasonal fare. The song, if you don't know it, describes a crazily unpleasant family that has the singer thanking God Christmas only comes once a year.

Christmas for us consisted mainly of family, but also some friends of the hostesses, and a boyfriend recently acquired by one of my nieces. Raise a toast! Play a dumb party game! Have more turkey!

People died in frozen cars and bombed-out factories.

It's that time of year.

The weather creates snowglobe towns. It also takes hostages and, in some cases, lives.

En route to Toronto we spotted a car, snow-covered, still unrecovered from the previous days' storms. It had come to rest a considerable distance off the highway. We could only imagine how it might have made it so far into the field.

A short time later the traffic slowed to a crawl and then sped up. A recent accident caused the change in pace. Emergency vehicles gathered around, lights flashing. A few klicks later I checked my rear view and was certain I saw an SUV go off into a ditch. I could hardly turn around on the eastbound highway, but my wife called 911. We used the first accident as a landmark. It is possible the driver just made a really rough pullover to the shoulder, but the dispatcher said they would send someone to check it out.

But that was Christmas day; by then, things had settled. The two days before, the entire highway had been shut down following accidents involving roughly 100 vehicles. Much of our region stayed home. Further east, the storm robbed people of electrical power.

At Pearson Airport, stranded travellers celebrated Christmas. Vending machine treats had to pass for sugarplums.

In Buffalo, New York and across the United States, people died.

Someone we know was picked up on the street. She had no shoes. She arrived at a medical facility just before the blizzard. Had no one found her when they did, we suppose she might be dead now.

I tried searching today for any report on the accident I possibly witnessed. Nothing. Neither could we find anything on the one that had slowed traffic. The previous two days buried any notice of such minor incidents.

The high-rise condo building has a party room, which my sister and her wife have rented out for the occasion. People catch up on the year that was.

My sister-in-law, raised Muslim but no longer believing, said a traditional Islamic prayer over a Menorah being lit by a guest, raised Jewish but no longer devout, on Christmas Day, but also, in 2022, the final Hanukkah night. They do so solemnly.

In some parts of the world, missiles fall instead of snow. Nine million Ukrainians remain without power. The Russians, says NATO's secretary general, have "weaponized winter."

We rail against Vladimir Putin and donate to charitable causes. But we're okay, aren't we?

The war in eastern Europe brings to mind Singularity Girl. Woman. When I met her, she was thirteen, a survivor of the Siege of Sarajevo. Her childhood memories include her best friend being carried out onto the street, dead. I worked with a lot of young people, but she and I stayed in touch, continuously. I dubbed her my youthful sidekick. We actively hung out once she became an adult. Nearly a decade after our first meeting, she attended my fortieth birthday. A decade after that, my wife and I attended her wedding. Today, my "youthful sidekick" turned forty.

She had as quiet a Christmas as their two kids would permit.

Ours was traditional dinner and drinks and sugar cookies, a little ways above Yonge Street. My wife and I were asked to contribute, in my sister's words, "snooty beer." We managed everything from Trappist Ale to cranberry lager to a beer brewed by women.

The party was not without incident.

The niece with the new boyfriend had borrowed a car from the hosting sister so they could transport some things across Toronto. Engine trouble lit up along the way, but they made it safely to the parking spot. They had to take an Uber to the boyfriend's parents' place, their second Christmas dinner of the day.

This left stranded one of the twins, who had to return to her rented student apartment in Brantford on Boxing Day in order to make her work-shift on the 27. So we got to spend a little more time with her. Her place is on our way home, if we adjust the route a little.

Everything worked out fine, just like a Christmas movie.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

The weather and geology in Nigeria are mild. We do not have earthquakes or tornadoes or typhoons or hailstorms or snowstorms or any other show of nature's power. I was in South-East Asia during the time of the December 2004 earthquake and tsunami. I was nowhere near any of the places that were hit. So, I did not experience it. At other times, I was told that there were a few mild earthquakes in the places where I lived. But they all happened at night, and I was sleeping, so I cannot say I experienced them.

A disappointment I share with many of my contemporaries who grew up reading Enid Blyton and such books is the reality of many of the delicious things described in those books. We all thought the cakes and scones and ice-creams described in there would be different or so much better than what we were used to. In particular, we all thought hot chocolate would be some sort of melted down chocolate bar that would flow like a liquid and be extremely delicious. You can imagine our disappointment when we found out that it was just the powdered stuff we had known all our lives by different brand names. So, while not discounting the seriousness of the deaths due to bad weather, I sometimes imagine that the reality is not as deadly as what I see on TV.

This might sound perverse, but I would like to experience a snowstorm or tornado or earthquake. While I have had some scary experiences, including being in a few car accidents and turbulent flights, I think those are all rather tame. And so, I think my life has been rather bland. Thus, I want to experience the indifferent killing power of nature. To spice up the blandness.

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