What’s Up My Greensleeves…


Like Dickens himself, young William Chatterton Dix coughed and stoked the coal-stove to drive out the damp chill of an English winter day.

He sat at the rugged wood table rubbing his hands together to create a bit more heat, then lifted his fountain pen to scribble another line… much as Mr. Dickens had done while writing A Christmas Carol only 22 years earlier…


With less than a month now until that famous Christian HOHOHOliday, I think I can squeak in an early post related to the holy and hallowed.

Even as an atheist, I’ve taken a Scrooge-like possession of sacred carols and music that festoons our halls and jingle our bells.

One of my favourites of the Christmas season is the carol we all know today as What Child Is This?, but I came to know first-off as Greensleeves (?a tribute to my many childhood runny noses?)

As a young piano prodigy *hah* (like driving a car as a youngster, I could barely reach the instrument’s pedals) one of the earliest pieces I learned from my austere music teacher was… you got it… Greensleeves.

But I’ve always pondered – yet never known or understood – why two names for the same carol? What’s the subterfuge that brought this about I wondered.

Let’s look a bit deeper:

Before What Child Is This? was born in Bristol, England in 1865, it took its first breaths as a celebrated English instrumental folk song, Greensleeves.

Some erroneously claim that Greensleeves, composed anonymously in 1580, was written by Henry VIII in order to woo Anne Boleyn; or, that Lady Greensleeves was a loose woman or a prostitute; or that the song has Irish origins. All good guesses, but… wrong, wrong, and wrong.

For all of these claims there is no actual evidence, yet still the stories circulate widely. Even the soap opera TV series The Tudors makes a show of Henry VIII composing Greensleeves.

In truth, the music to Greensleeves was first published and registered at the London Stationer’s Company in 1580.

On September 3, 1580, Richard Jones was licensed to print A New Northern Dittye of ye Lady Greene Sleeves. He then printed a book in 1584, A Handful of Pleasant Delights, in which the song was reprinted as A new Courtly Sonet of the Lady Green sleeues, to the new tune of Greensleeves.

The song was immediately immensely popular and off to a flying start. Even William Shakespeare cited it in his The Merry Wives of Windsor, c. 1602, 17 years after the song’s first publication and widespread success. His character Falstaff calls out: “Let the sky rain potatoes! Let it thunder to the tune of ‘Greensleeves’!

Now let’s jump ahead a couple of hundred years and drop in on businessman William Chatterton Dix, the son of a surgeon from Bristol, England.

William actually spent most of his life in Glasgow, Scotland, working as a manager of the Maritime Insurance Company.

In 1865, 29 year-old William, a man extremely fond of traditional English folk songs, suffered a near-death bout of sickness. Afflicted also with severe depression, this traumatic experience changed him completely.

While recovering, he became an avid reader of the Bible and experienced a spiritual awakening that inspired him to take up crafting hymns in celebration.

While healing, he wrote the lyrics of The Manger Throne, which later came to be known as What Child Is This?, incorporating the tune of the celebrated English folk song, Greensleeves.

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone him.

Today, it’s been sung and recorded by countless artists of all genres. Andrea Bocelli, Johnny Mathis, Carrie Underwood, Josh Groban, Bing Crosby, the list goes on and on…

And, as the late radio host Paul Harvey used to say… “now you know… the rest of the story…

And maybe to entice you into the glow and spirit of the festive season to come, here is my recent recording of the tune on my faithful guitar:

Out of The Frying Pan…


Over my years I’ve scuba-dived and sky-dived.

I’ve ziplined and schussed, tobogganed down a volcano and parasailed. I’ve munched on guinea pig and bull’s testicles, and sipped snake wine.

But… now? Who needs bungee jumping, speed-skiing, or parachuting for that adrenaline shot?

Not me… anymore… because…

I live in British Columbia.

Living on Canada’s west coast in British Columbia today is living life on the edge.

Over the decades I’ve not-so-humbly gloated over the incredible natural wonders of this place I’ve chosen to spend almost all of my adult life.

Clean air and water are mere add-ons to the glories of spectacular mountains, pristine lakes and forests, and the fruit-laden valley that I wake up to each day. Yes, I live in an earthly Garden of Eden.

Magnifying this wonder I’ve seen and experienced, has been the abundant peacefulness of this province’s climate and geology.

Hot, non-humid summers, and mild’ish low-snow winters (in the valleys) make my home a bona fide Jewel in the Crown.

Now comes the BUT…

Today, while I love this place with fervour, I recognize the jewel is becoming badly scratched and the crown’s gold adornments tarnished.

A one-off, freak occurrence I brush off like early November snowflakes on my nose.

Two times and I get suspicious…

News reports that hold the power to fill us with impending doom… well, used to be, I’d lazily gloss over, utter a tsk tsk, and have another sip of my sweet-scented Gewurtztraminer (what does this say about my empathy gene?).

We’re all cracked, damaged, dinged yet simultaneously comforted because “it” hasn’t happened to us. We happily read books filled with sordid stories that provide us a safe place to “feel and heal”. 

Earthquakes and floods, tornados, hurricanes and fires are things that usually happen to someone else, the same kind of stuff that we think about when fatal motor vehicle crashes and home invasions happen… until… they happen to us.

Danger and tragedy are far more meaningful when they are in our own world space.

We all expect the very occasional “once-in-a-hundred-years” event to drop down on us. But once-in-a-hundred loses all meaning when it comes around yearly or every couple of years.

The freak climactic occurrences of BC are now the new normal.

Summer forest fires threaten huge tracts of land and thousands of homes, not to mention the innocent wildlife that succumbs to the infernos.

The odd year where summer fire doesn’t cause evacuations of thousands of homes is the “freak” year.

Huge atmospheric rain storms have just unleashed massive flooding, extensive highway and rail damage, caused the deaths of tens of thousands of livestock, and dislodged thousands of people from their homes due to this water torrent.


Me and my family here in the Okanagan Valley have been hugely lucky to have barely felt a scratch due to this latest weather phenomenon. My biggest concern? Stores have no milk or yogourt. Kale is missing on the shelves. Big deal.

I’d love to once again gloss over with my wine glass and see this as one more oddity, that once-in-a-lifetime thing that we still talk about 50 years later (like the big flood of 1948 in BC that my in-laws often spoke of) because it was so unusual… but… I know it’s not.

This water deluge, like the perennial summer fires, is now part of the new everyday.

You may have a new normal in your part of the world too… in fact, I suspect you do. Get used to it.

This all makes me sad because it’s been largely preventable, and even now, when we see the writing on the wall, we continue to say the right things but live our lives in contradiction to what we see and know to be true.

I’m as guilty as anyone out there. I’m complicit.

I can point out areas where I may be more “saintly” than others, but my halo is still tattered and I know it.

Our lifestyle choices… the world’s lifestyle choices… is akin to drinking demons from a fire hose.

My home is in a place I call a Garden of Eden, but the reality says my backyard has been sown with the seeds of a Garden from Hell.

Both Sides Now… To E or Not to E


Debate Time.

In one of my earlier lives, I acted as a volunteer judge for high school debates.

Not only were these verbal tangles fun to watch and listen to, but I got to see firsthand how amazingly bright many teenagers were in their ability to see an argument – any argument – from both sides.

In our polarized and polarizing world, wouldn’t we all benefit from this bold and openminded concept?

In 2016 I conducted my own little internal debate here on this blog site comparing E-readers to traditional books. I think I came to a stalemate in the end.

Today, once again, I’ll take on another “E” and debate myself on an issue that cycles around and rides across my face just about every day.

E-Bikes (Electric bikes). Yea or Nay?

E-bikes are becoming ubiquitous in my area. No matter where I am or where I’m going while riding my own regular bike, I see another “bike” fly past me at an impressive speed.

On the flat, downhill, uphill… ZOOM! ZOOM!… it doesn’t seem to matter.

The age or gender of the rider… doesn’t matter.

Rider size… small or large, again… doesn’t matter.

Honestly, I’m a traditional ten-speeder… a recumbent reactionary … a cycling snob… and so I’ll admit to some animosity while being passed by some smiling, non-sweaty, elderly rider.

I smile back pleasantly, all the while hissing 4-letter epithets under my breath.

WTH!? I’m gasping for air and you’re lazily dragging back on a cigarette?

I know I need to re-assess and adjust my thinking, so I’m going to make an attempt at fairness and look at this new technology with impartial eyes. Let’s go:

Are E-Bikes Good, Bad, or Just Ugly?


  • 1. Cycling is a more active form of transportation compared to walking, transit, or driving. E-bikes are like owning a hybrid car, sometimes gas (human) motor, sometimes electric motor.
  • 2. Enables you to reduce the number of auto trips. The earth has one less shot of global-warming-gas spewed. Our world thanks you.
  • 3. An E-bike takes you door to door.  You don’t have to walk from the nearest transit stop or parking garage. Just find a rack in front and lock your bike. 
  • 4. It’s still a workout. Maybe not at the same intensity as a regular bike, but if you’re not a regular cyclist, this is far better than no exercise.
  • 5. Enjoy riding equity when you ride with a faster friend. Everyone gets the speed they need and the workout they want.
  • 6. Conquer hills. This is a big plus for E-bikers, but also the one that drives me most crazy as a traditional cyclist who sweats and pants up the inclines.
  • 7. Haul a heavy load. You can carry a couch or refrigerator, ok, a loaded backpack, and not be exhausted by the extra weight.
  • 8. Arrive less sweaty and exhausted. If you commute to work, no need to spend your day in sweaty, stinky clothes like I used to. Your co-workers will love your E-bike for their own unscented benefit.
  • 9. Got a gimpy knee or nasty hip joint? An E-bike allows you to exercise despite physical limitations. This may be what it takes for us to attain our own Centenarian Olympics! 
  • 10. Save money. Depending on your appetite, the price of food fuel and bodily maintenance is hopefully lower than the price of fossil fuel and auto repairs. 
  • 11. A 2018 North American survey of 1,796 Electric Bicycle E-bike owners showed that their use leads to more cycling, which leads to better health. About 55% of the surveyed bike owners rode daily or weekly before owning e-bikes. After they switched to E-bikes, an impressive 91% of the surveyed bike owners cycled daily or weekly. 


  • 1. Can’t ride them everywhere. Many jurisdictions don’t allow E-bikes on mountain bike or hiking trails.
  • 2. Servicing E-bike specific components requires advanced skills. You’re on a more complicated piece of equipment that takes a higher level of knowledge and repair skills.
  • 3. More difficult to change a flat. A relatively simple procedure on a traditional bike takes on a new dimension with the hardware of the E-bike.
  • 4. Need a safe place to store and charge. If you don’t have a power source where you store your bike, you need to get a bike with an easily removable battery. With higher purchase costs, an e-bike is especially attractive to thieves. 
  • 5. Batteries need to be managed and monitored. The extra weight of an E-bike can become an issue if you’re 15 km. from home and your battery dies. Maybe one day we’ll have an Automobile (er, E-Bike) Association we can call for tire changes and towing.
  • 6. For younger kids and fitter adults, E-bikes remove some of the physical effort and exercise effect. I lean in to laziness. I know with myself that I’ll rely on a motor if it’s handy. This is similar to why I love automatic savings plans for retirement. I want to make it as easy as I can to save money… and also force myself to sweat!


  • 1. Cost. Typically, because of the extra electrical components, an E-bike will be more expensive than a similar standard bike.
  • 2. Weight – those same electrical components, primarily a battery, will add about 40-50% weight to an E-bike versus a traditional bike.
  • 3. Safety on the road. The additional weight (and speed) of an E-bike might make maneuverability a bit more difficult and therefore slightly less safe.
  • 4. People might hate you because of the extra speed you can carry and sustain. Yup, this is me being pissed when passed with ease on an uphill stretch!

OK… the debate is up.

What do you think?

Despite my reservations, I get the appeal.

Reluctantly, I say … GOOD.

Baby boomers (and many others) like myself are flocking to the joys of bicycling with just a little added boost.

Ultimately, any physical activity is far better than NO activity. Our hearts and lungs and longevity (mental health too) will all be positively impacted by this new craze.

For today, I’m not ready to go and buy myself an E-bike yet, but I can see the day coming… the day when my joints or lungs say enough and…

… unlike the Hula Hoop, Bobby Socks, and Pet Rocks, I hope the E-bike will be out there as a permanent addition to our tool-chest of useful devices.

Ride, ride ride, let it ride…

Could YOU Be A Cold-Blooded Killer? Warm-Blooded? Hot-Blooded?


I t must almost be winter because I’m having darker thoughts.

… could I ever be a… killer… a cold-blooded killer?

Could I? Could you?

Of course not… unless…

UNLESS is always the exception…

What about a passion kill? Or how about a suffering, terminally-ill relative? Nothing comes across as cold about these. These sound like warm- or hot-blooded kills to me…

Prisons are chock-a-block full of poor buggered guys (and gals too) who wish they could take back THAT moment when their world spun out of control and they did something horrific.

We have the 10 Commandments in the Christian religion to guide us towards a righteous and principled life… a set of moral rules … but… if we’re so noble and incorruptible, why…

… do churches have special places where you slip into a dark booth and whisper through a peep hole about WHY you DIDN’T follow God’s guidelines. It’s all pretty clear.

It’s because we’re fallible Charlie.

Humans are human… which is why the word human is both a noun AND an adjective.

But, if I WAS going to kill someone, who would it be and how would I do it? (I’ll give you a little example later)

I came across a website that stated the following as the 10 most common causes we might kill someone:

Mercy killing

Road discipline




Religion arguments

Alcohol and drugs



Domestic reasons

I’ve looked at each of these groups, and after some deep reflection, decided that I might qualify as a “killer” for 2 of the categories: Mercy killing and Self-Defense. In my personal moral code, I could justify taking a life under these circumstances.

Of course these are the ones where I might realistically pull a trigger, brandish a knife, or slip a pill… Commandment or moral code notwithstanding.

I’m guessing that most of you would likely fall into the same quandary box as me.

But, my inbred tendency to anger sometimes would, at the very least, have my mind running through the idea, the notion, of taking a life for far less compassionate reasons eg. road rage, revenge.

Honestly, there are times when I scare even myself with the depth of my anger and hostility. I know it’s not rational or warranted, but still… there it is. I see red, I feel a fire burning, and want to bludgeon.

The good news here is that evolution, and societal pressures and norms, have carried me far enough along the lines of civility and peacefulness where self-control and rational thought and compassion would not allow such a thing to happen. These types of killings are outside my range of morality, thank goodness.

Here’s that example I promised earlier:

Years ago, I would joke around with a few of my work colleagues in the lab about killing our boss. We mapped it all out and picked the place to bury his body in a nearby swamp for rapid decomposition.

We unanimously agreed he was a jerk and in making our working days miserable, justified a ignominious ending submerged face-down in a murky mud bog. Sounds pretty reasonable, yes?

OK, I know… we had probably read too many Agatha Christie novels or watched excessive TV and movie murder shows that filled our heads with insane, scandalous ideas.

Our anger needed a “healthier” outlet and we found it thankfully through talk (threat) therapy alone! No action required.

So, I’ve looked deep inside myself – I’m not a cold-blooded killer… but I have come to the conclusion that I could … reluctantly… potentially… be a warm-blooded one.

Time to “kill” these dark thoughts… breathe deeply… hum a big Ommmmmmm… and rid myself of this inner darkness. I hope. Namaste!