Monthly Archives: July 2014

Colour Me Beautiful

So we’re back from summer vacation. I’m nicely tanned – okay, maybe not tanned exactly, but the tip of my nose certainly shows signs of sunburn. Even while on holidays, we encounter acts of kindness without trying.

One of my family’s shorter trips last week was to the Alton Mill Arts Centre, a breathtaking assembly of galleries and studios and gleaming original floorboards in a restored 1800s mill in Caledon, Ontario.

That’s where we met visual artist Lucille Weber, who takes creativity one step further by selling racks of splattered paint shirts alongside her colourful paintings. She does this to raise funds for dogs in the far north. Buyers of these bespeckled garments are asked to submit a photo of some activity while wearing their new purchase – be it walking, cooking, skydiving or whatever it is one generally does while wearing a painty shirt.

Lucille is donating all proceeds, plus the photos, to the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Northern Dogs Project, a group that provides veterinary care, medicines and foster homes to pooches. Our friend Lucille has collected over $2,000 from her shirts so far, and is still going strong (want to buy one? She’ll ship free of charge!).

Notwithstanding the fact that Lucille’s lovely shirts have the potential to take the fashion world by storm… I think the true beauty lies in this artist’s heart. Don’t you?

It would be like wearing a dropcloth, but with a considerably more flattering fit. (Photo courtesy of Lucille Weber)

It would be like wearing a dropcloth, but with a considerably more flattering fit. (Photo courtesy of Lucille Weber)

Sugar, Flies… Sounds Like Summer

We at 50 Good Deeds like to use our powers of kindness for good, not evil. But researchers in the psychology department at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg have shared some interesting findings about kindness and interrogation tactics. They say that people are more likely to give up information when interrogators appear friendly and considerate, as opposed to direct questioning.

In layman’s language, you’ll attract more flies with sugar, not vinegar. In their recent study, the Swedish researchers used what’s known as the “Scharff technique.” This is named after a German Nazi interrogator who successfully obtained secret information from a military prisoner by befriending him, bringing him on a scenic walk and even sharing homemade treats. No torture chambers here.

I will say this, though. Hanns Scharff truly did seem like a genuinely nice guy. He pushed his government to drop war crime charges against a group of captured pilots, possibly saving them from death sentences. Other tales abound of his legendary kindness.

So perhaps the lesson here is not that you should fake being nice in order to trick people. Maybe, instead, it’s that you ought to inject kindness into every job you do, no matter if you’re a teacher or a doctor or an officer of the Third Reich. It will pay off, whether it’s curing someone’s cancer or, uh, supporting the Hitler regime.

My job for the next two weeks is to take a summer vacation. I will be sure to inject kindness into it. I think I’ll start by generously pouring myself a mojito. That’s nice, isn’t it? See you later this month.

Photo courtesy of KEKO64  /

Photo courtesy of KEKO64 /

Special Delivery

Flagging down a speeding vehicle was all in a day’s work for Gordon Cameron, a newly minted police officer in Edmonton, Alberta. But he certainly didn’t expect to be met by a panicked father-to-be, who came flying out of the car hollering about his wife having a baby. The dad went for help, and a stunned Gordon helped with the birth – in the back seat, no less.

That was 1962. Later, Gordon couldn’t even recall if the newborn infant was a boy or a girl. But every year, on the baby’s birthday, Gordon wondered whatever had happened to her.

And as he neared his 80th birthday, the retiree was driven to find out. Two years ago, with the help of an investigator, Gordon tracked down the parents and learned that baby Terri was now living in Moncton, New Brunswick, where she works as a nurse.

Thus it was that when Gordon made plans to attend the funeral of three Moncton RCMP officers who had fallen in the line of duty, he brought Terri’s parents’ phone number with him. He hoped he might have a visit with the not-so-newborn while he was in town.

But at the funeral, 81-year-old Gordon “took a spell,” as they say out east. Because of the phone number in his pocket, Terri got a phone call. And because she’s a nurse, she rushed right over to the hospital’s emergency department, where she could finally meet Gordon – and look after him as he recovered.

“I was able to be just there for him and his family, like he was there for me 52 years ago,” Terri said in a radio interview.