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My Story - The Early Days (1)

I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and have two older sisters and a younger brother. My parents never told us we were loved and never encouraged achievement or to even dream about our futures. My siblings and I were expected to keep a low profile and plod through whatever life dished out. Both of my parents lost their mothers as children and I have always wondered what that meant. My father and his two brothers were bookworm intellectuals and all left the province in the 1930’s or 40’s to attend university, a rare occurrence in those days. My mother was not educated beyond high school and was a stay-at-home mom. One thing my family excelled at was predictability. My father was an engineer/city planner at the telephone company and probably never missed a day of work. So, while open communication and a supportive environment were not my family’s long suit, predictability and security were. There is great solace in this for a child. 

Things began auspiciously for me as, at age five and before I ever set foot in any school, I expressed an autodidactic nature by teaching myself mathematics (addition and subtraction). After starting grade 1, and following an aptitude evaluation process, I was found sufficiently gifted that the school recommended to my parents that I skip the grade. I actually remember being walked out of the classroom and down the hall to a new classroom with grade 2 students.


That auspicious start came to an alarming halt in grade 4 when I experienced my first grand mal epileptic seizure. The seizures did not end until grade 6. I was lucky. I still have a copy of the 1968 EEG medical report in which  the electroencephalographer concluded my brain activity was

Abnormal.” During the rest of my school experience, I competed on several sports teams and showed promising ability in one. I actually had dreams of competing in the Olympics like my inspirational hero Kip Keino of Kenya the 1968 1500m track champion, as a provincial 1500m track champion and former age 14 record holder, before I suddenly walked away from the sport at age 15. It took over 30 years to finally understand why I quit and to this day consider it the biggest mistake of my life. I did learn from it, though.

There were a few more notable moments in my youth that undoubtedly shaped my personality. I was awarded a rare Canada Award of Excellence at age 14. This award recognizes achievements of the highest order in various disciplines. My youth award, for athletics, was discontinued in 1992 and replaced by Excellence Canada. I needed to perform in the top 5% in the country in each of six hard-measured activities. That has a probability of 1 in 64,000,000. My award was signed by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, father of the current (2023) Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Additionally, I played Board #2 for my high school in the provincial chess championship while in grade 12. I even tried my hand at blindfolded chess on two occasions with some reasonable success, being able to compete even-up for between 44-48 combined moves before going down a piece. Finally, inspired by my grade 9 math teacher who took a special interest in me, that year I did some math few kids anywhere were probably doing. It led to two innovative discoveries.

The math was incredibly important to my development. Mr. Lacy, one of two great teachers in my life, did three things for 

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