A fellow Scot will steal the limelight from Donald Trump on Jan. 25. Celebrations of the 259th birthday of beloved poet Robert Burns are set to take place worldwide. His Rights of Woman supported the first suffragettes. Abraham Lincoln, Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson were fans. Burns is extremely popular in China; his work resembles their traditional poetry. To A Mouse (below) and Auld Lang Syne are two of his most popular creations. 

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Piping in the Haggis on Burns Night                                                  BBC.CO.UK

To A Mouse
(Whilst ploughing on a November day, Burns ruined the nest of a field mouse. He ponders why the creature runs away in such terror)

Oh, tiny timorous forlorn beast,
Oh why the panic in your breast ?
You need not dart away in haste
To some corn-rick
I’d never run and chase thee,
With murdering stick.

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken nature’s social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
And fellow mortal.

I do not doubt you have to thieve;
What then? Poor beastie you must live;
One ear of corn that’s scarcely missed
Is small enough:
I’ll share with you all this year’s grist,
Without rebuff.

Thy wee bit housie too in ruin,
Its fragile walls the winds have strewn,
And you’ve nothing new to build a new one,
Of grasses green;
And bleak December winds ensuing,
Both cold and keen.

You saw the fields laid bare and waste,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cosy there beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash; the cruel ploughman crushed
Thy little cell.

Your wee bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Had cost thee many a weary nibble.
Now you’re turned out for all thy trouble
Of house and home
To bear the winter’s sleety drizzle,
And hoar frost cold.

But, mousie, thou art not alane,
In proving foresight may be in vain,
The best laid schemes of mice and men,
Go oft astray,
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
To rend our day.

Still thou art blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches thee,
But, oh, I backward cast my eye
On prospects drear,
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear.

(courtesy of Robert Burns Country)

Happy Reading & Writing from CozyBookBasics!

http://www.margaretvirany.com   http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany   http://www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

 

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Stevie Szabad, Author

Camp Follower One Army Brat’s Story by Michele Sabad has been out for a couple of months. Enough people have been reading it that I’m getting some feedback, and I’m pretty pleased with the response so far. In addition to the verbal comments, I’ve had written reviews on both Amazon and in various publications that are very encouraging (see stevieszabad.com/books for more).

Other military brats of course appreciate the veracity of the details, the vernacular, the fondness of the memories of a unique culture that they shared with the author. The sheer number of places lived brings up stories of their own childhoods that are wonderful to remember and share. (“I lived there! Did you know so-and-so?”) It is fun to see how one of their compatriots turned out after the military life; we all ended up in diverse places and careers, none of us having had that civilian common…

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Cochrane

Bragging Rights, Fun & Games
Cochrane, ON, located at the transition point between subarctic and humid continental climate zones, is a happy place, proud of its cold winters. I lived there from 1941 to 1946 and remember them vividly.

  • The railway junction and District seat didn’t have a weather station; radio reports lumped us in with Timmins, 30 miles to the west. We adopted the bragging rights of Iroquois Falls, 30 miles to the south. A temperature of – 58.3 C ( – 72.9 F) there on Jan. 23, 1935 was the lowest  in Ontario and fifth lowest in Canada.
  • The sun shone and the snow was dry, white and deep. It crunched like crazy when you walked on it but you didn’t just walk. For variety you held your foot out and ran it back and forth to uncover or form ice so you could zip along faster. All was safe and silent on the residential streets.
  • We girls lay on our backs in the snow and ‘flew’ with our outspread arms and legs flapping up and down to leave the impression of an angel. The trick was to try to jump back up on both feet at once without leaving any exit marks.
  • To play tag, we first made a ‘pie’ in the snow by running around behind each other in single file to make a huge circle. Then we bisected and quartered the pie to make paths where we could chase and catch each other. If you lost balance and made a footprint in the unbroken snow, you were “out”.
  • The arena was the busiest place in town, full of would-be hockey stars and figure skaters. Men on curling teams wore jackets that looked like Hudson’s Bay blankets.

Cochrane 001School, Frozen Noses & a Calamity

My sister, Enid, attacked my sister, Tanis, with a snowball but she was a survivor. School was never once closed because of the weather; if we’d had snow days no one could have got any kind of education.

  • After we made it to school on a terribly cold day, we stayed in the lobby to inspect each other’s faces for signs of frostbite. If you saw a white spot on someone’s nose, ear or cheek, you massaged it gently with an open palm until it became red again, a sign that circulation had been restored.
  • The Principal, Mr. Marwick, stood at the door glancing outside to see who still hadn’t arrived. He kept his finger on the electric bell and didn’t press it until the last straggler was in.
  • One cold day Tanis was hurrying to school along the curve in the road, keeping close to the 15-foot slope down to the frozen lake on her right. She heard bells, a clatter, pounding hooves and a “Neigh-h-h” behind her and realized she’d better get out of the way fast. It was good she and her friend, Mimi Duranceau, were Cochrane High School’s championship tumbling team.
  • The empty flatbed the horse was pulling jackknifed and went over the slope, scooping up and dispersing everything in its path as the terrified horse galloped by. Mr. Marwick saw the drama and yelled, “That kid! She must be dead! It’s Tanis!”
  • My big sister did not die but she suffered from a concussion. She had flown through the air of her own accord and managed to tumble right down the snowy slope without getting whacked by the fast-moving ‘tram’. cochrane3World War Two & Our Stars 
  • The boys fought off the Germans and Japanese with BB guns in hand-made snow forts. We were all sober, patriotic participants in the effort to achieve Victory. Food, soap and gas were rationed; we bought war savings stamps and volunteered to do errands for the Red Cross.
  • All the high school boys belonged to the cadet corps and drilled daily along the peninsula where the school was located. You can be sure Tim Horton, the future NHL player and donut-chain namesake is marching in this platoon. Another notable native son, Don McKinnon O.C., is there too. He discovered the Hemlo Lake site where three major gold mines are located. Michael Barnes wrote a book about him called “The Scholarly Prospector.”
  • Incidentally, Enid was Timmy’s girlfriend and got to use his stick on the girls’ hockey team.

Cochrane2

Main Street’s Winter Wonderland
Main Street turned into a fun place in winter. Three fires — in 1910, 1911 and 1916 — had burned it down and each time it was rebuilt with the two sides farther apart. This was so the flames could not hop from one side to another.

  • The plows had to clear it as if it were two streets, and leave a big snow bank in the center. It was always fun to cross over , especially when the bank became more than 10 feet tall. A polished, shiny, icy track formed from the heat of pedestrian traffic. The paths became steps on the way up and slippery slides on the way down.
  • There were no cars (only delivery horses pulling trams) to run into.
  • No one even tried to keep a car running in winter, except travelling salesmen who parked in front of the hotels on Albert Street opposite the railway station. Family cars were put up on wooden blocks in garages or sheds with their wheels removed. A lot of ‘snowbirds’ drove south instead.

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Intrepid Parents, Fashion & Climate

  • My parents were very good sports about the Cochrane winters and never let them be an excuse for not going out of doors for a brisk walk, visit or church service.
  • The right hats helped them survive and enjoy the winter weather. Father bought a fur cap especially for Cochrane. Mother’s unique cadet-style hat was custom-made from ermine pelts by a Cochrane tailor. (That is another story which I tell in A Book of Kells.)
  • Mother always stated a good cloth (wool) coat was as warm as a fur one. Synthetic fabrics did not exist in those days. She never wore pants but was delighted to discover cotton ‘over-stockings’ which she could pull up over her silk ones.
  • The exhilaration continues. The average Cochrane temperature from Dec., 2016 to Feb., 2017 was – 22.6 C  ( – 8.7 F) and the record low was – 47 C ( – 52.6 F).

Happy Reading & Writing from CozyBookBasics!

http://www.margaretvirany.com  www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany  www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

These ten blog posts and eight pix were tops on Cozybookbasics in 2017. A total of 1577 readers from 67 countries clicked for 2454 views. Fifty-five years ago an expert freelancer advised me ‘how-to’ stories were popular and he sure was right!

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#2 How Not to Sell Books at the Market.  https://wp.me/p2dNT0-3qp I interviewed the writer/humorist Greg Clark (Birdseye Centre) when I was a high school student. He said, “The only person a writer can make fun of is himself.”

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#1 How to Build  a Canoe the Aboriginal Way.  https://wp.me/p2dNT0-GZ My husband Tom sold this story to Mechanics Illustrated in 1970 but they did not publish it. Its time has come. It is particularly popular in Canada, US, Russia, Poland, Belarus and other former SSRs.

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#4 Michele and I paired up for the launch of her first book. She was the army brat and I was the preacher’s kid. We sold our books at $20 each or $30 for the two. Both of us felt we did better by being part of a duo. https://wp.me/p2dNT0-40R

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#10 How to Sell Books in the Digital/Paper Change. Tom and I took the pictures of each other. A faithful photographer is a must for a writer. https://wp.me/p2dNT0-3u4

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#6 How I Wrote a Letter and Got a Wall.  https://wp.me/p2dNT0-40e My blog roams far and wide but always come back to roost on the core themes of writing and love. In this guest post, Tom celebrates the 50th anniversary of an important achievement in his engineering career.

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#5 How I Sold Books at the Market.  https://wp.me/p2dNT0 The weather started out bad on my birthday. Still, I bet myself I could sell enough books to treat my grandchildren to a picnic and play under the stars on the banks of the Rideau that night.

 

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#9 Civilized, Simple Thanksgiving Suggestion for Gun Debate.  https://wp.me/p2dNT0-3KB My father was a gunner in WWI but the only weapon of mass destruction we had in our house was a fly swatter.

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#3 How We Fell in Love, Built a Canoe and Got a House.  https://wp.me/p2dNT0-Ge Someone in the world is at this moment building a canoe according to Tom’s design. It brings a dream of freedom to life.

I thought a picture was necessary for every post but that’s not so. Two of them made it to the top ten without one. They are #7 “My Brazen Attempts to Write a Classic” https://wp.me/p2dNT0-3Vi and #8 “Reading Classic Books Will Teach Your Children the Sky’s the Limit” https://wp.me/p2dNT0-Mw. My Home page, a scroll-down archive, scored 543 views.

Happy Reading & Writing from Cozybookbasics!

http://www.margaretvirany.com  www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany  editingexcellence.virany98@gmail.com

 

 

P.T. Barnum, author of "The Art of Getting Money"

Greatest Showman P.T. Barnum wrote a book to share 21 sensible resolutions behind his circus business antics.

Twenty-one  golden rules for making money were coined by ‘the Greatest Showman’ P.T. Barnum. How many of them still work 150 years after he wrote them? I would add a 22nd point and put it first: i.e. Get an Education and never stop reading what better brains have written. Being humbled and stimulated by becoming aware of how much you don’t know will help you make better decisions on Barnum’s points that involve judgment. #3 is the most vital, important point. #9 is essential but not at the expense of not reading “for play” all the free classics available electronically through the Gutenberg project so you will be nobody’s fool.

  1. Don’t mistake your vocation
  2. Select the right location
  3. Avoid debt
  4. Persevere
  5. Whatever you do, do it with all your might
  6. Depend upon your own personal exertions
  7. Use the Best Tools
  8. Don’t get above your business. By living up to the motto ‘Excelsior’ (higher) there is no such word as ‘fail’.
  9. Learn something useful
  10. Let hope predominate, but don’t be too visionary
  11. Do not scatter your powers
  12. Be systematic
  13. Read the newspapers
  14. Beware of  ‘outside operations’ (get-rich-quick schemes)
  15. Don’t endorse without security
  16. Advertise your business
  17. “Don’t read the other side”
  18. Be polite and kind to your customers
  19. Be charitable
  20. Don’t blab
  21. Preserve your integrity.
  22. Never stop getting an education. He would have found a way to get a college scholarship. Google online to find out more and spend your time applying. MV

Have a Happy, Prosperous New Year with Abundant Reading & Writing

http://www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com  www.margaretvirany.com  www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

 

tanisbotties

These booties made by Cree living on the Oxford House Reserve in northern Manitoba were for my sister Tanis. She was born there in the winter of 1929 and her name means “daughter.” You can see by the handmade toys how much the Cree love children. My mother, a British war bride, wanted to have her baby in hospital. My father, a farmer/sailor/missionary, found this a challenge. As soon as the Christmas services were over on the reserve, he rigged up a horse attached to a cariole (big toboggan) to get her there in time. The thermometer sank to minus 30 and it took them five days and four nights. With a dog team it would have taken a day longer. It was a preposterous, glorious trip with a happy ending, the highpoint of their lives. It inspired me to write a book. In the name of Jack, Kay and baby Tanis, Cozybookbasics wishes all the love, joy, peace and happiness of this festive season. I am very thankful for all good people who love their families and the adventures that having one entails. Greetings to you and thank you for reading their stories and my books. www.margaretvirany.com

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xmas1987In 1987 I stood in for a tree when my sisters and our parents celebrated Christmas together for the last time in their tiny apartment. In 1988 Father died of an aneurism, in 1990 Mother died in her sleep, in 2002 Tanis (necklace) died of a stroke and in 2016 Enid (bow) died from Alzheimer’s disease. We all have to go some time and I think of them with love. One thing I know for sure is that neither you nor I want to die of or see anyone else die of Alzheimer’s, like Enid. Here’s what I do to score little victories that bring back one memory at a time:

1. Don’t panic if you are out shopping and can’t remember where you parked you car, have just jumped into the driver’s seat and can’t remember where you are going, or have gone down the basement to get something but can’t remember what. Pause, take a deep breath, keep quiet and tell yourself everything is going to be OK. The information is still inside and you can get it back. Then go over in your mind what you can remember doing just before you got blocked. Wait patiently until the missing information pops back.

2. After having a scare like this, I spend time just taking extra care of my memory. It needs to be exercised just as much as any part of the body. I do regular basic home exercises, if nothing else such as swimming is available. They make blood flow to my head and nourish my brain cells.

3. Practice and rehearsing are the keys. Before education was reformed in the sixties, children were taught ‘by rote’ in school. They had to memorize and recite poems and lessons. Before the days of TV, people put on recitals and concerts where poems as well as music were performed. Anyone who has read Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi knows how the river captains had to stretch their minds to an amazing capacity to accommodate mounds of changing, life-saving information. I know a pianist who glows to talk about how her memory has grown with each long performance piece she commits to it.

4. On the scale of my life, I have at least learned to go grocery shopping without a list and not forget anything. It is a big satisfaction! I make the list at home and then use a mnemonic, such as memorizing the first letter of each item on my list and reciting it to myself a few times. If I forget something in the store, I pause and try to remember it — or else do without!

5. The memory game or puzzle I like best is Sudoku. My performance on it indicates what shape my memory and ability to focus are in. After not having done it for months, I unloaded it for free on my ipad and found I had relapsed to the ‘easy’ level whereas I used to be at ‘difficult.’ I’m doing a few puzzles each day to try to climb back up again. A bit of pigheadedness probably helps fight off the Alzheimer Scrooge too.

Happy Preparing for Your Memorable, Unforgettable Family Christmas Holiday Time!

http://www.cozybookbasics.com  www.margaretvirany.com  www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

 

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Quotes

“You are not from anywhere in particular but you are all a part of the same community.”
“You might get itchy to move every couple of years, or, conversely, never want to move ever again.”
“You’re very patriotic. You cry at the national anthem anytime, anywhere…You probably touch, even fondle the tank now sitting as a monument in your town’s armoury square.”
“You have to catch up to the real world at some point but the adults we became carried this base-brat upbringing with us.”
“The moving on, excitement and anticipation was the best part of growing up military… Just the scale, geography and weather were different.”

Review of Camp Follower: One Army Brat’s Story

“Life happens everywhere. We all get there in the end. It’s the stories that we live and share along the way that make things interesting.” So writes Canadian author Michele Sabad in the introduction to her first book Camp Follower: One Army Brat’s Story. The first sixty years of her life happened in Calgary, Edmonton and Cold Lake, AB; Dortmund, Germany; Goose Bay, NL; Yorkton, SK; Kingston, Brantford and Petawawa, ON; and Aylmer, QC. In her 194-page, four-part, big-print book we journey with her as army brat, air force wife, hockey mom
and retiree. She lived in rented quarters on military bases, sometimes beside a runway, with her young mother, sergeant/recreation director father and three younger brothers. With an easy style, detailed descriptions and sense of joy in her craft she shares more than 40 short stories of her memories of moments along the way. One I love is, “The moon landing happened when we were in Goose Bay. July 20, 1969. Of course we didn’t watch it on TV but I remember it vividly. On such a pure black cloudless night in Labrador, the moon was brilliant. Although only in waxing crescent phase that night, we could still see the outline of the whole moon against its fluorescent quarter. My brothers and I imagined the men walking on it at that exact moment. We jumped up and down and said we could see them.” By age 18, Sabad was engaged to be married, worked four nights a week as a swimming instructor and graduated from high school in the town of Petawawa as top student and
valedictorian. She tackled the problems of adjusting to the real world, finishing her education, helping her air force husband get a degree, earning a living and raising a family. She had a long, successful IT career as a systems analyst with the Canadian government and then as a consultant. Thanks were due to a calculus course she toughed out to “keep my options open,” although the guidance counselor had advised her to drop it. Upon retirement she and her husband acquired something she had never had before: a hometown! At last, she lives amid a variety of people who may include the elderly, those with special needs, relatives perhaps and, some day, grandchildren. One of their two grown sons with his wife has also bought a home in Aylmer, QC. Sabad likens her careful observations, faithful recording and perceptive comments on her army-brat upbringing to “inventing anthropology.” The reader is enriched by the inside information, critical analysis and points of identification the book contains. Camp followers have existed ever since humanity has sent people — historically men — off to fight wars  on behalf of the societies, cultures or countries they represent. This way of life is pursued by about 10 million Americans (fewer Canadians) today. Yet, because of changes in society and the military, Sabad’s unique experiences cannot ever be repeated.  Her book is far too good for you to deny yourself the pleasure of reading it. Whatever your age, you will have a delightful growing-up experience all over again as the author generously and skillfully shares her own journey.

Amazon.com Review written by Margaret Kell Virany
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Happy Reading and Writing from Cozy Book Basics!

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As a UK diplomat to Canada’s capital in the fifties, author Nicholas Monsarrat (The Cruel Sea, etc.) lived in a heritage chateau with leaded windows high on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. Our Club de Voile Grande Rivière (aka the Aylmer Sailing Club) sits farther upriver on a widened bend called Lac/Lake Deschênes and we held our end-of-season party at the chateau on Nov. 11. I wore a Remembrance Day poppy but forlorn sentiments were chased out by the Christmas spirits crashing the party. Yachters chatted like happy heralds as we sipped cocktails and nibbled on hors d’oeuvres passed around daintily. The party was free and crowded, since members had already paid for it in their club dues last Spring.

Marcel and Joanne, who have reached retirement age, had tidings of good will and great joy to broadcast. They had just got married after living together for forty years. The ceremony took place at their home, with the wedding banns posted on the front door and their two grown children as witnesses. As a joke, the wedding was kept secret until they arrived from Europe. At first their son thought the white paper on the front door was a construction permit for renovations but when he read it he blurted out, “What the ……. is this?” Instead of buying a home and settling down, the newlyweds will sell their house but keep their sailboat, make lots more friends and have new adventures.
David, a physicist and lawyer, looked contented and cheerful as a cherub even though he is 75 and sick. He uses a cane to get on and off his boat and loves his crew of family and friends who handle the ropes and sails. Ten years of treatment for cancer have not prevented him from travelling to academic conferences as a guest speaker and foremost expert on cold fusion. He doesn’t expect to live very much longer but is always more concerned about other people and advised us to travel while we are still in good health. One of the things he did right years ago was his divorce. Instead of hiring lawyers and going to court, he and his wife agreed they no longer wished to live together and parted with a handshake. The only quarrel they had was over the refrigerator. Due to their continuing friendship, she recently helped him resettle in a very convenient condo. We were inspired by David’s way of solving problems and facing death with equanimity. He enjoys his grandchildren and babysits when needed. He is a very wise man.

I held back to peek into the coffee room and get a preview of the desserts when the  sailors started flowing from the bar down the hall to the dining room to eat entrées being cooked at several stations. How startled I was to see a pair of wide-open baby eyes staring at me from the sofa! Lavioletta’s mother Maria had found a quiet corner with a sofa where she could cuddle and feed her precious gift from god. Stunningly beautiful in a gray-and-white three-piece outfit with matching polka dot hair bow, she was just learning to focus. Maria held her up so she could zoom in on me at close range and try to grab my little finger. I was thrilled and she was amazed to discover this ‘something’ so close and so big. We few in the room formed a semi-circle of adoration around her and cooed in the universal language of baby babble. Maria and Jean had two boats in the marina when they met but now they have one. It was overwhelming to see their love, pride, joy, optimism and readiness to be parents responsible for their little family’s future.

The party in its mystifying setting was a prelude to Christmas as well as the end to a season delayed by a big flood. Joy to all in celebrating the best of human kind!

Happy Reading, Writing and Living from Cozy Book Basics!

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Guest post by Thomas Virany, B.ASc., P.Eng.

Some fifty years ago we moved to the west end of Ottawa from Toronto. After many years as mostly a journalist at Canadian Press, Maclean-Hunter and CBC Television News, my wife decided that I should get a secure job. The reason was that we had three children by then. Since I was a graduate in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto, I managed to get a job in the Canadian Patent Office. It was a different life, but a good one. I took the bus to the Office in the morning, examined patent applications all day and took the bus back home at about 5 p.m. No overtime, no work at home. It was not allowed.  Off and on, however, I drove. One snowy day I drove, like so many others, on Ottawa’s main road, the Queensway. It was and is a beautiful limited-access superhighway crossing the City east-to-west. But it had one fault. The strip between the eastbound and westbound lanes was very modest and in snowy or icy weather cars slipped off into the middle and with traffic as dense as it was, there were frequent head-on collisions, often resulting in fatalities. One day there was one, right in front of me. Canada’s provinces had not built many such roads with an adequately wide median and the Queensway, in spite of its heavy traffic with a speed limit of 60 miles an hour was one of these. As an engineer, I knew exactly what should have been done to prevent the fatal collisions. There were many ways to prevent them although they all cost money. And as an investigative journalist I was furious. At home I sat down and wrote a letter to the Globe and Mail. Next day I walked around the Office with the letter and collected 12 professional engineers to support me. All signed, happily. Then I mailed it and the Globe printed it as you can see. unnamedThe issue came up in the Ontario Legislature and the Government started building fences where there was too modest a median. download (4)Only a couple of weeks ago we drove back from Toronto and at times were delayed by construction. Guess what! A new and improved concrete cement barrier was being built to prevent collisions on the median. For the first time, we enjoyed the delays. They served a good cause. Frankly, I think that letter to the Globe is what I regard as my greatest achievement. It saved a lot of lives in Ontario and in other provinces, all of which have been following Ontario’s lead.