2001 Annual Letter


This letter has been a tough one. The fitness regimen continues. About this time last year I acquired a treadmill. It's amazing how flashing lights can motivate one to keep up with a moving band of carpet. Of all the days spent at home in the past year, I fear the times I have not gone for a run on the treadmill can be counted on one hand. Alas, aerobic exercise may not be enough. Added a weight-stack system. Now, before running and juggling, I alternate upper-body and lower-body workouts. Recently noticed my cheeks are hollowing. People increasingly mistake me for Naomi Campbell.


Fellow back sufferers with limited access to medical facilities: The Death by Chocolate chain of high-end dessert cafes in Vancouver features outdoor heat lamps. Customers enjoy sidewalk dining, even in cold weather. The lamps work quite well for back-sufferers who can't get in to see a therapist. Unfortunately, the proclivity to enjoy the menu at this spa may be counterproductive to all the exercise.


Vacations around these parts seem to have a proximity-to-water theme. This year Chris and I managed to spend time on the west coast of Vancouver Island, on the shores of Gabriola Island, and in Astoria, Oregon. The adventures have all jumbled together so that I m pretty sure that Roots was the only lifestyle store attacked by a Japanese sub off the coast of a rain forest.


Slipped into one of those alternate-reality universes this past summer. Mr. and Mrs. Sharon Stone, a toe-munching Komodo dragon, and the LA Zoo did it. It's all good, though. The truck still drives well.


It started with the news around Father's Day. Sharon Stone's husband, Phillip Bronfman wanted to see a Komodo dragon up close. The LA Zoo has a Komodo dragon. Ms. Stone had enough clout to get her husband in, not just to the zoo, but into the pen. Already weird, but not enough to slide over into an alternate universe.


Imagine a Komodo dragon, built long (around ten feet from tip to tip) and low to the ground. Lots of sharp, little teeth in a reptilian head. Now imagine Mr. Bronfman wearing white sneakers. On the advice of the zookeeper, Phil took off his shoes before going into the pen. The logic was the dragon will mistake white shoes for white rats, and may try to bite them. Better TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF! So, he did.


The news article reported Mr. Bronfman was recovering in hospital, AFTER HAVING HIS TOES BITTEN BY A KOMODO DRAGON!


That's when I realized I had slipped into an alternate universe. In the old universe, I never heard about zoo policy regarding footwear and visitation rights to Komodo dragons. Certainly, the policy in the old universe would have been something like:


"Visiting the Komodo Dragon? Wear appropriate footwear."


The old universe did not have a policy manual that says: "Visiting a reptile with sharp teeth and head close to the ground? Please remove footwear for easier access to the toes.


I suspect that even in this new universe, zoo announcements now read: "Attention! People of the zoo. Change of policy. Guests of the Komodo Dragon are now requested to keep their shoes ON. That is all."


Esquire magazine is not running its annual "Dubious Achievement Awards " this December. To help make up for this lack, I've included an article from the Vancouver Sun. Hope this explains why I now talk to the sea gulls on Granville Island. It appears the animal kingdom has been co-evolving with us for quite some time. All these so-called "dumb" beasts know exactly what is going on.


Is this incredible, or what? I mean, to actually wait until a police officer comes by? She assessed the situation, and did what she had to. Even at the risk of exposing a centuries-old cover-up. To test the theory, Chris and I had dinner a few night's later at Bumfiddles, a waterfront restaurant on the downtown side of False Creek. Sure enough, there was a sea gull sentry scratching hash marks into the pier, keeping track of ship traffic.


This all seemed to evolve naturally from the komodic cosmic rift earlier in the summer. It seems strange to write a cheery end-of-year greeting this year. On the one hand, thoughts rarely drift far afield. On the other, my life has been so blessed, that it's hard not to try and share it with a bit of whimsy.


Have a great holiday season.


copyright 2001 by Todd Strong



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