Canada, Inc. Part 9 – Health, Business, and the Environment

Greener cities; more exercise, healthier food.

We all need need these things. If the energy grid ever went down and we relied on fossil fuels in a post-apocalyptic world (something like Aleppo or The Walking Dead); without any sort of government structure in place; we’d soon run out and go mad. The chronically out-of-shape would perish almost immediately.

The time to be proactive is now. Solar panels on every roof. Windmills in every yard. ‘A self-sustaining micro-grid’ must be the descriptor of every community. Many communities that have poisonous industrial dangers (like Northern Pulp in Pictou County, NS) often have higher incidence of cancers (also like Pictou County, NS).

The individual writing this is in the beginning stages of his third tumor in ten years. When surgery comes, it will be number 5 was pretty darn scared a few months ago about this growth in his face that resembled a previous facial growth. Got way worse since it started this time around. Then I ate a pound of weed and it got better (or so it seems?). Weed works.

The last two tumors were not cancerous, so I was told. The surgery for each included nerve damage and has crippled me; to a minimal degree, ensuring constant pain and unbalance. The first tumor was in my right foot (a benign spindle cell tumor). Since the three surgeries for it; I limp; have constant leg and back pain; I trip over and fall a lot; and it takes me a lot longer to do certain things than it does other people. Sometimes I’m incredibly spry. I bounce and run and jump steps or shoot hoops for hours or do a half hour of cardio at the gym.

Those are times I have smoked cannabis. Period.

My second tumor was in my neck; in my parotid gland. The doctor sliced my neck and moved my facial nerves aside to slice out part of my face that was underneath… and part of my neck… and some lymph nodes. Turns out it wasn’t cancer, so they said.

Now, when I get sick, the left side of my throat doesn’t swell. There is nothing to swell. My right side though; aches. It debilitates me. My head feels like it was cracked with a hammer every time I get sick. I bite my lip. I get neck/muscle twitches; and the uneven nature of my neck muscles is the only thing about which I am self-conscious.

I grew up within aeration distance of Northern Pulp in Abercrombie, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. I also spent 7 months living downwind of the burn pits on Kandahar Airfield during some of the highest troop concentrations of that war. Every scrap of waste was burned. Mattresses; bottles, and body fragments included. Two carcinogenic pesticides were sprayed on every road every week to prevent malaria.

In addition to living near that pestilence; I was also a cleaner. Some of the sand in Kandahar is as talcum powder. Shortly before I came home; I found a document outlining the two types of pesticides they sprayed on the roads twice per week to kill the malaria mosquitoes. Both cancer causing. I had spent almost every day of work for 6 days a week for my first four months in theater in enclosed spaces sweeping up talcum powder dust that had been twice weekly dusted with carcinogenic pesticides without any sort of breathing protection.

So. Here is me. Finally with everything I have ever wanted in my life currently in my hands.

Poof.

Tumor number three. On the opposite side of my face as it was last time. Exactly the same place. It’s more painful this time. Different. This scare me. One of my eyes hurt.

Where do I turn?

Everybody in Pictou County is in the same risk over Northern Pulp as one another; so that brings me no help.

My time spent in Afghanistan was as a civilian contractor working for a large Canadian contracting company well entrenched in scandal. I was not a member of the military. I do not have a service number that entitles me to call Veterans Affairs for any sort of help. Given how the government has treated actual veterans, even if I did have a service number I can’t imagine they’d jump on board to help little old me with what is our generations “Agent Orange”. To be clear; I was not given protective equipment or informed of the risk. I found the MSDS for the pesticides on a whim and by chance.

There was a lawsuit in Florida that I tried to take part of a few years ago against KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root). KBR was responsible for burning the garbage in Kandahar; along with a lot of other bases during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. That lawsuit failed. The plaintiffs were a group of veterans who developed rare cancers and neurological issues after service. Their sicknesses are similar to the kinds of illnesses that 9/11 first respondents developed.

See… KBR is a subsidiary of Halliburton. Halliburton is the multinational oil company that former Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of immediately before becoming Vice President in 2000. Immediately before the September 11th attacks. Shortly before the incredibly profitable (for KBR) invasion of Afghanistan. Somewhat before the even more profitable invasion of Iraq. See… these wars were wars of profit. Unfathomable amounts of government money being paid to corruptly connected companies for very fathomable amounts of work/products.

In the case of all of the garbage being burned; Kellogg Brown and Root bid on the contract to dispose of the waste at the cheapest rate for a specific period of time. They burned it; and poisoned us all. The government let them.

This is but an even grander macrocosm shining-example of what happens in the oil patches of Alberta; or the gold mines in Central and South America; or the chocolate slaves in Africa; or the indentured servants in Saudi Arabia, or the environmental racism directed at the Pictou Landing First Nations; or almost all of the rapes and pillaging of humanity over the course of human history. Well… at least since we came up with the concept of currency.

Almost everybody has a price and the ‘big winner’ is usually the guy with the most disposable cash.

Money talks. It ends every discussion. It makes people blind. It eliminates their empathy.

Most importantly, it buys influence.

The world we live in today is one in which a significant portion of the population stares into a small rectangle for most of their waking hours while they tap the front of it for dopamine shots.

All anyone has to do is pay a few dollars and target a message at generally where people are and they can’t help but see it. Imagine having unlimited money to dump subtle messages into the magic-hypno-cube of any and everyone you ever want to. Half the population is divided on an effluent pipe? Use marketing money to pump propaganda to confuse and divide people at a time when political advertising laws are not up to date with the ever-changing technology.

To create a healthier population; we need to prioritize health over profit in every situation.

Things like subsidized healthcenter memberships and mandatory access to healthy food. Subsidized self-sustaining gardens for every household. Solar panels and windmills for everyone.

It also includes things like choosing technologies and situations that will be good for us in 50 to 100 years not acutely profitable now (for example Northern Pulp). By also changing other things at the same time, like ensuring we are all eating fresh healthy food that doesn’t cause cancer. Things like guaranteeing we all have opportunity for exercise and education on being healthy.

We also must reduce the impact of harmful industries collapsing. The big fear of families that rely on horrible environmental disasters for income have is that they will not be able to pay their bills and feed their kids. Why can’t the government eliminate that fear for everyone through legislation?

  • High-speed internet should be a human right (but it’s not because somebody profits from it)
  • All transportation should be emission free (but it’s not because somebody profits from it)
  • Every community should be able to completely produce it’s own food inside a government subsidized food greenhouse. Every family should be given the tools to grow food on their own property or in their own home (but it will never happen because food companies like profit and drug companies want us sick)

These are a few simple examples. The illustration I wish you to see from all this is that all of these issues we face in our time affect each other; they are not stand alone. The common denominator is some dickhead in a corner office reaping the profits of our un-wellness.

All that dickhead and their arsehole comrades need to do is maintain the status quo. That’s it. Do nothing.

Having just one of these issues fixed appropriately would make an almost unimaginable world of difference for people in our country. People like me would hail it as an incredibly just victory. Much like we all thought we were doing with marijuana legalization. That itself is a shining example of a century of nonsense propaganda being proven wrong and conveniently never ever addressed afterward. Nor was the credibility of all those fighting against it’s legalization ever questioned; nor were they personally about how deeply and horribly wrong they were.

Their willful destruction and theft of the lives of people incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses since it was prohibited has never been publicly addressed with anyone in the Conservative party. We just keep on rolling as we stare at our rectangles.

The difference is this; our side would consider the government guaranteeing that every roof in Canada has solar panels on it would be a monumental victory for the continuance of our species. As a contrast; our deserved victory would be nothing but a larger-than-usual-yet-still-brief-dip in the value of those dickhead’s and arsehole’s investment portfolios.

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Part 10

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Gun Violence and Institutionalized Bigotry – by J. G. Oblivious

Irony.

May I even use that word when speaking of such an event? It seems disrespectful and wicked to use such a word to describe such a tragedy.

It’s been hours since the mosques were attacked in a commonwealth country; by a racist ethno-nationalist terrorist praising supremacy for his kind and claiming a higher station than his fellow man; all while claiming to be protecting his country from the brown people he was murdering. He claiming that they are coming to his country and doing terrorism; shooting up and invading churches…

Reminiscing on generations past; one is drawn to a picture of the native savages of the Americas in the 1500s. The reports from European conquerors as they were read back home noting Godless savages that were handsome and would make good slaves. On one hand; we have the ebb and flow of immigration of white settlers to colonies around the world. Colonists praising their rapes and massacres as noble victories over barbaric Godless tribal people. Decrying the others wherever encountered and spreading the good word. It speaks nothing of burning ancient Mayan scrolls; losing forever thousands of years of recorded history from before a time more ancient than the Christs and the Pharoahs and the Sphynx. This was a problem for the Church; physical proof proving the world was older than their worldview and power structure and accumulated wealth allows for. No mind is paid to the rich cultural histories that existed obscured from the public consciousness. This holy war has been going on a lot longer than the countries involved have existed.

Hate breeds hate breeds hate breeds hate.

On the other hand, we have powerful global organizations like the Catholic Church doing many more evil things than only the child-raping and supporting Nazism. They controlled and financed the Jesuits that burned the history of other cultures. Raping and destroying and erasing people forever. The same thing Daesh tried in the cradle.

This hatred toward others is not part of any religion.

Letting hate flourish ensures that this stuff will happen forever or until our species destroy ourselves. The video of the attack was troubling; but it’s important for people to know what these things look like. A wake up call for gun control? Maybe. Probably not, though.

The irony of all of the ramblings above is simply this: As a resident of Australia, his ancestors were probably sent there unwillingly because their homeland didn’t want them anymore. They took refuge in a place that was available to them and established Australia as a prison for the undesirables to serve out their sentences. They were forced from their homeland and built a conquerors society on Aboriginal lands. The very same lands that this lunatic now believes himself defending from those whom his delusions cause him to believe are some sort of new age Moorish conquerors.

Some of the victims of this mass-shooting were immigrants from homelands which they fled in terror to escape persecution and violence. For the first time in their lives they probably felt safe; while still healing from the post-traumatic-stress of growing up in a war-zone and then making the arduous journey of an immigrant to a safe place where they can go outside without dodging gunshots and bombs.

This shooter is from a country in which a mass shooting happened and they locked down the gun laws. As an adjunct; some news outlets reported earlier this morning that he loves the sassy cheeto. That being said; as I search right now for a news article supporting that statement… I cannot find one.

How many of these nut-jobs do you think sit around for decades amassing ammunition stockpiles; masturbating to Guns-N-Ammo magazine with Alex Jones in the background just waiting for their opportunity to crack?

This is f***ing mental, people. 

No idea how to solve this. No suggestions. I have no idea. My gut for a long time has been that the proliferation of arms during the cold war ensured that we will forever live in a world in which there are more fresh-bullets than people. Probably not more bullets than ants. Definitely more bullets than people, though.

Perhaps when the insects take over after we destroy ourselves; the leftover bullets and casings will be re-purposed for some sort of abundant revolutionary building material that transforms their society and spawns a religion praising the shiny-object-bearers who crafted their new world.

*Sets down legally purchased marijuana*

Know what happens now, though?

In real-time, the United States has to watch how a country is SUPPOSED to respond to a mass-shooting.

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Canada, Inc. Part 5 – SNC-Lavalin

See PART 2 first.

This whole media circus concerning the SNC-Lavalin affair is a calculated effort to occlude from the average citizen the intricately interwoven nature of Canada’s Petro-Military-Tech companies at every level of our government. This is not a new thing. This is not a Liberal or a Conservative issue. This is not a bipartisan quibble. This is a brief glimpse behind the curtain at the wizardry of the shadow oligarchy that is really in charge.

The Military Industrial Complex is the reason we have smartphones. It is the reason we have Facebook. It is the reason we have Snapchat. It is the reason the Patriot Act and every subsequent similar piece of legislation was hushed and rushed through. We now have a generation of voting adults that have no memory of what it was like to be free and to not be at war.

There are no national borders. We are many atoms in one synchronous organism hanging on to antiquated notions of separateness.

The things we do and allow to happen in Canada; things like selling arms to oppressive regimes; affect the overall balance of the Universe. There is all kinds of evidence of the social blow-back from using petro-imperial-corporate-bomb-orgy diplomacy.

There are children coming of age in Iraq that have known nothing but war. All of the reasons we went to war there; all of the cruel awful history of Saddam; the gassing; the ethnic cleansing; all of it; irrelevant ancient history to this newly 15-18 year old Iraqi man.

Her only experience in this world being an occupation by a well organized and technologically advanced international organization of occupiers whom have never provided any reason for being there that is even remotely fathomable to the masses let alone this young Iraqi or Afghan.

We are the enemy to some of them. The same kind of evil-vile-warmongering-political-terrorist-monsters that we blew up their countries searching for.

They are the blowback.

SOME RELEVANT LINKS BELOW REGARDING SNC-LAVALIN
AND THE CANADIAN MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

“In 2015, the RCMP charged SNC-Lavalin, along with its international division, with corruption and fraud in relation with their business dealings in Libya. The RCMP said officials at the company attempted to bribe several public officials in the country, including dictator Moammar Gadhafi, as well as other businesses in Libya. RCMP officials said SNC-Lavalin also lied to Libyan companies to defraud them of nearly $130 million.”

Source: (Charges against SNC-Lavalin explained — and how the PMO allegedly got involved)

Links and News Articles:

  1. Canadian Company Manufactures Bullets for War in Iraq
  2. Canada’s Halliburton? SNC-Lavalin war profiteering in Iraq, Afghanistan
  3. Timeline: Here’s how the SNC-Lavalin controversy has unfolded
  4. What’s at stake for RCMP, prosecutors in the SNC-Lavalin case
  5. SNC-Lavalin awarded oilfield contract in Iraq
  6. SNC-Lavalin in the Middle East
  7. SNC-Lavalin awarded West Qurna phase 2 oil field contract in Iraq
  8. General Dynamics to Acquire Ammunition Producer SNC Technologies Inc.
  9. SNC-Lavalin sells defence unit to General Dynamics
  10. Bullets over Bay Street Shouldn’t selling munitions to an occupying force be a war crime?
  11. SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. History

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PART 6

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Fear and Loathing at Stephen’s House – Part 4: Selling Out Our Natural Resources

Who owns our natural resources?

Does our country own them?

Do the individual provinces own them?

Do our citizens own them?

Do the corporations who buy or lease the land on which they are found own them?

If you’re not sure of the answer – which scenario seems to be most appropriate?

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Lets use oil as our first example.

Canada produces 3.6 Million barrels of oil per day (or 1.314 billion barrels per year). This equates to about 37 barrels of oil per year per Canadian citizen.

By contrast, the United States produces around 9.4 Million barrels of oil per day (or 3.431 billion barrels per year). We did the math, and in the United States, this comes to around 11 barrels of oil per year per American citizen.

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Why do these numbers matter? They matter, because I believe that our country (and all that it contains) belong to all of us.

Why does American gasoline cost less than gasoline purchased in Canada?

Sure… ‘world markets’.

In what world is selling out our country in the form of pissing away our natural resources a good idea? By allowing multinational oil companies to enjoy the profits while Canadian citizens endure the high-cost of heating oil, gasoline, and diesel – we’re allowing our economy and Harper’s oligarchy to prolong our dependence on fossil fuels and curb any advancement toward the greener technologies that we all need.

When new technologies reach the consuming public – the cost of those goods goes down as they are more widely adopted. Personal computers are a prime example – as they became more widely available, the tech improved and the cost went down. The same thing will happen with green technology. We could operate on micro-grids. We could all run self-sustaining households. But large corporations (with the aid of oligarchies around the world) prevent that from happening.

Stephen Harper sold out our country. Supported by the omnipresent public-service oligarchy operating in the shadows; the good things that the Harper administration has done for this country will never outweigh the bad things that his arrogant system of governance has done to destroy our nation.

Our nation; and in essence our world; needs leaders that tell the truth. We need leaders that answer questions; instead of dodging them. We need leaders that are more concerned with engineering a blueprint for the next century than continuing to play partisan politics in the arena of public opinion to cement a legacy of manufactured sound-bites for future generations to suckle on.

RESOURCES

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PART 5

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Oblivious in Dubai: Part 15

Salazar brings a serving tray to our room with twelve bottles of Budweiser atop it. A tip, a handshake, and he was gone. He did request, though, that we not let anyone see the beer.

My comrade had paid for the hotel and the beer; but I had to leave shortly to catch my plane.

We get into the beers then start talking about life and the state of the World’s affairs; talking about how we each just left an active war zone in which we were doing otherwise ‘normal’ jobs.

I don’t remember much after that.

“Nothing is true; everything is permitted.” – Assassin’s Creed maxim and primary guideline.

I recall the conversation being honest and eye opening; but I shall not reveal the nature of that discussion here.

The world is an interesting place. As long as you’re polite; most of the time you’ll be alright. Somehow I made it to the airport; though I don’t remember much of the trip.

Following along sequentially; the things I recall are still-images. Images flash of the stained-wood walls of the lobby; a snapshot of my Comrade carrying one of my bags to the taxi; a parting hug; and then of regaining coherence at the check-in line at the airport.

Familiar Canadian Comrades were also waiting to check in. Beverages were had once we traversed through this exceptionally large line. To Frankfurt and then to Montreal before we’d part ways.

Most of the rest of my journey is a blur until shortly before landing in Germany at six o’clock in the morning. The time of day is largely irrelevant while travelling over 30 hours in one shot; it just affects what’s found on the menus of the places you stop to eat. The blur, after analyzing my previous behavior and looking for patterns; was probably filled with tasting the beers of the world until I passed out and pissed myself on the plane.

At least I thought I’d pissed myself.  I’d not pissed myself before; so there was no reason to believe my bladder would cave for no reason.

Perhaps it was the cabin pressure?

I found a can of beer on the floor that had spilled all over my pants; alongside it a couple of empty Coors cans… and a full one. Sweet, I’ve got another beer.  I crack the beer and drink the Gravol; the plane should be landing soon.

When in Deutschland; eat what the Germans eat.

Sausage, beer, and a few tabs of Gravol.

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Part 16
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Oblivious in Dubai: Part 13

Five days later…

I board in Halifax; connect in Toronto; and land after sunset in Dubai.

I work my way through the fantastical arrivals process at the Dubai International Airport. Deplane; head down the escalator; stand on conveyor belt after conveyor belt as old ladies pass by in electric golf carts chaperoned by portly airport employees. Fleeting eye-based interactions with those passing me on the parallel track heading in the opposite direction.

Ads… ads… so many ads.

Posters and billboards and signs, oh my. Miles of rubber track; broken into hundred meter sections; separated by ceramic tile-work. Step off of one belt – click, click, click, click, click – step on to the next. The wheels of my carry-on bag strike the grout between the tiles in an almost musical fashion. The soothing pattern I notice may only be soothing as a result of my exhaustion and jet-lag.

The beer included on the trans-Atlantic flight probably contributed to my acknowledgement of this beautiful, rhythmic pattern.

Ascend an escalator to customs; passport stamped; proceed to baggage.

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Waiting for our bags to hit the pick-up conveyor; I browse the duty-free liquor store. So much sauce; so much bank; so much confiscation if I tried to take it on base.

Not that I had any desire to; I wanted to take it back to Canada with me – but I was heading in the opposite direction.

Make a mental note to stop here on my next flight home.

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Grab my bags then work my way through the hoards of people leaving the airport. We funnel into an underground taxi-queue; shuffling past the booths of car-rental companies.

While standing in line, I see a dwarf who appears to be from India or Bangladesh. A few feet away are a young child of three or four and his father. The boy is sitting in the basket of the luggage cart while laughing hysterically and pointing at the vertically challenged man who did him no harm.

The father laughs along with the child; making no effort to stop the unwarranted abuse.

The lack of politically correct behavior disturbed me.

I get into my cab; hand the driver the business card from the hotel I was at only a week before; and we depart. He calls his dispatcher for directions.

We arrive and I greet the doorman. Salazar comes outside and raises both arms. “Salazar!” I yell.

Salazar smiles and waves me over as he approaches me. We shake hands; each asking how the other is; and he shows me to my room.

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Enter Oblivious in Dubai Part One or move on to Oblivious In Dubai Part Fourteen

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Oblivious in Dubai: Part 12

Sitting at the gate; evening sun shining through the glass window overlooking the tarmac; awaiting my final flight home.

Overpriced shops abound. I noticed some pashmina scarves hanging on a display rack; $18 a piece. Just a few short days ago I bought ten of these very same scarves from an Afghan man at the Bazaar for twenty American dollars; a few hundred miles from the goats that the fibre was sourced from. I chuckle and shake my head at international commerce.

Sitting in my seat; awaiting the call to board; I meet two white American couples. One couple with two adopted Chinese daughters around three years old.

The two wives and one of the husbands amuse the children. I ask the second man if he wants to see some pictures.

I start off with photos that I’d taken of my life on the base; my tent, my room, my friends.

Then I show him a video, filmed from a Humvee, of an IED exploding between two vehicles in a convoy.

He gasps; visibly shaken.

That’s what we ask our guys to walk into.” I say.

I show him another video; filmed by terrorists. This video is of a masked man firing a mortar while shouting the takbir. He drops a dud into the mortar tube and blows himself up by accident.

I laugh and tell the man, “It’s funny to watch those bastards fuck up.”
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We board; take off; and make our way home in the middle of the night.

A kind friend; whom I’ve known for many years; picks me up at the airport and takes me back to her house so that I can surprise my family the next day.

We smoke some grass and I start going through my bags. I give her and her room mate first grab at the pashminas.

They retire to bed; I crash on the couch without much hesitation.
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I wake up the next morning and it’s a beautiful day. Both my friends are at work; so I take a long shower then step outside for a cigarette. Barefoot I sit on the stoop; passionately puffing my Marlboro and letting the fresh grass work it’s way between my toes and under my feet.

I never knew one could miss grass so much.

I’m amazed at the cars racing past. They’re not going all that fast; but I was used to a 15 km/h speed limit. Speed is relative.

Later that day, my friend picks me up and we head into the community to pick up her room mate from the eye doctors office she worked at. As I wait in the car; I get a hankering for caffeine, so I head to the Tim Hortons on the other side of the parking lot.

Much to my synergistic amazement, surprise and joy; a friend I’d grown up with worked at the coffee shop. A friend that I had no idea lived in the area (two hours from where we grew up) and whom I had no idea worked at any coffee shop, let alone this one.

We were both visibly startled but it was the good kind of startled. The kind of startled that one experiences when one of the first people they encounter upon return from a war is an old childhood friend.

I order my sandwich, bagel and coffee; and she takes her break so we can sit out back of the coffee shop and talk.

Very full circle.

Meanwhile; my two other friends were searching the parking lot for me. The plan was to drive me two hours to our home town to surprise my family. I happened upon another old friend and got caught up in old times.

It’s chance encounters like this that make me believe in some sort of divine invisible hand directing some of what we experience. How was it that this old friend happened to work in the same shopping plaza as a completely unrelated old friend; in a city lying two hours from our home town? How was it that she happened to have the morning shift that day? How was it that I chose to go to that coffee shop instead of the many we’d passed on the way to where we were; or the many we’d pass on our journey home? Too many coincidences to be anything but divinely inspired.

If it was coincidence; how many times do we casually enter the radius of someone we once knew and have no idea? 

Part Thirteen