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This is from late 1999, on my way to the clinic to get my staple-stitches out. I had injured myself trying to hop a curb with my bike: I tipped over, shattering my humerus, separating my shoulder, and breaking a bone in my neck. I was in the hospital for about a week.

It was an exceptionally sweet time for me, though. My care at St. Paul’s hospital was marvellous and friendly, and there was no bill. Lots of friends and colleagues and clients from work came by. My brother and his wife brought their kids. I enjoyed morphine for the first and last time.

I was still pretty new to Canada – born here but raised in the States, not returning until 1996. It was during this hospital stay that I saw manna falling from the sky – here, in Vancouver, BC. I was given such grace.

The photograph is by my dear and esteemed friend Lincoln Clarkes, who had brought two pies to my hospital room.

A gift for friendship …

I’ve certainly been the lucky recipient of John‘s. Many have.

I remember the moment well: I was lounging in bed on a Saturday night, drinking red wine and reading some escapist nonfiction, when the telephone rang.

It was a young friend, a guy half my age, and he was in crisis.

He and his girlfriend had moved in with her parents to save money. He was calling to report that they’d just broken up.

“Damn, dude,” I said. “Where are you right now?”

He was still in the room with her. There was nowhere else to go.

“You can’t stay there,” I said. “Come to my place.”

He was just one of the wards to take up residence in the suburban rehab facility of penance and partying I call the Home for Wayward Men.

Many check in, serve their time, and move on. Some return for more deeply-seated therapy, higher dosages of medication.

Others drop in regularly while on business trips. One blows in once a year like a disheveled desert tumble weed rolling down Interstate-15.

Most are younger than me, one older. Sometimes they arrive in twos.

What they all have in common is that they need a place to go, to escape crumbling relationships or just the suck of everyday life.

The door is always open.

I live alone, my wife resides in another state. I have time and space to lend my ailing droogies a helping hand.

I have no clue what they do in their room once the door is closed. One is like a messy teenager, leaving the place a disaster zone of plastic swizzle sticks, hairballs and oily orphaned socks each time he leaves.

No matter. I just hazmat the joint and await the next checkin.

Meanwhile, I keep two chairs in the living room, one facing the other. One guest and I refer to them as the Sultan’s Chairs. …

Read ‘The Home for Wayward Men’ to the end.

Canada’s “Covid Alert” app

My friend Chet Wisniewski, a world-renowned expert in data security, breaks it down for you: “These apps are like wearing a mask. They are there to protect others as much as yourself.” Chet’s convinced the app protects user privacy. I’m signed up.

The opposite of necessary exaggeration

My friend Jonathan Mayhew asks, “Could there be things that had to be understated to be stated at all?

I’m still thinking.