For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Okay, I did NOT want to blog about politics and the election.  There is so much BS out there, I just want to keep my blood pressure even and ignore it all - at least when it comes to the increasingly rare times I'm squeezing out to actually write a blog post. 

As far as this election goes, it's over for me.  I've already voted.  So has Eldest and Raider King.  It was the first vote for both of them.  Eldest was really itching to get herself registered to vote.  Raider King probably wouldn't have bothered if we hadn't brought it up! *L*  But it's done.  Our votes are cast, along with two million plus other early voters. 

Of course, the only way to avoid electioneering is to never go on the computer, turn on the tv or talk to anyone for the next while.  Not gonna happen.  Well, except maybe the tv part.

I'm still managing to see far more about the election than I want, and it's driving me bonkers.  I can't believe how easily those self-proclaimed supporters of democracy on the left are doing everything they can to manipulate this election.  The Catch 22 idiots are bad enough - this is the group that has identified 22 ridings that are risky for the CPC, so they're trying to convince people in those areas to vote for the candidate they belief is in the best position to beat the CPC candidate, rather than, you know, voting for the person or party they actually believe in.  Yesterday I heard about "vote swapping."  Here, people agree to vote for a particular party they don't support, in exchange for someone voting for their preferred party in another riding, so long as the candidate they do vote far has a chance of beating the CPC candidate.

How is that even legal?

Meanwhile, the media, whether it's the MSM or people using social media, is actively pursuing campaigning, publicising and endorsing "anyone but Harper."  The MSM isn't even trying to hide their bias anymore, and it's sickening.  Look, what private people do with their groups and blogs and tweets and facebook pages is up to them.  Editorially, newspapers can endorse whoever they choose.  But when the actual news is blatantly against one particular party, either by whitewashing the Libs or NDP, or ignoring stories completely.  If it weren't for SNN, the "other" stations wouldn't have even touched the story of Ignatieff being booed for 2 minutes at a hockey game, and how many stories are you hearing about CPC signs being vandalized in between the ones about the Lib and NDP signs being vandalized?  They barely even mentioned the Lib who took Green pamphlets and dumped them into the recycling bin and replaced them with Lib pamphlets.

The folks I know on the left, meanwhile, are enthusiastically running with their own campaign of hate and paranoia about our PM and the right.  The BS they're throwing out is getting increasingly shrill and disturbing.  Of course, good old are busily trying to buy the election, and these folks are doing everything they can to help them out.

Well, they've accomplished one thing, at least.  They, more than anything else, has had me supporting the right of the political spectrum, even though some of my priorities would actually be considered left.  Well, not by these folks.  As far as they're concerned, it's either their way, which is reasonable, sunshine and roses (even as they spew hateful rhetoric) or RIGHTWINGCHRISTIANWHACKJOBINSANEDIEDIEDIE!!!! 

Yeah.  This from the folks who claim moral superiority for their open mindedness and tolerance. 

Which wouldn't bother me, except for that whole manipulation of democracy thing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Ah, me, and my poor, neglected blogs. ;-)

Things have been going along rather well.  I've been healing up fine, though I did go and push myself too hard a few days back and I'm still feeling it.  Not a lot of pain, but enough to let me know I really shouldn't have done all that in one day, and holy smokes, did that exhaustion come back fast!  Any one of the things I did that day, I would have been fine.  Maybe even two of them.  But all together?  Not a good idea.  Bah.  Live and learn, eh? 

It's getting harder to take it easy, though.  We've had a burst of good weather.  I got Eldest to break out the pots and soil on our balcony, so they're sitting where they're supposed to again, in the sun.  I got a chance to dig around in the dirt - the larger ones were still frozen on the bottom - add fresh soil and fertilizer.  I haven't decided what I'm planting this year, but anything that should have been started indoors is going to come from a greenhouse.  I just don't have the space to start seeds myself this year.

It felt good to dig in the dirt at least a little bit.  I've been gardening vicariously through Ridin out the Recession lately.  I probably shouldn't be following the gardening adventures of folks in Florida when we're looking at going back below freezing with possible snow tonight! LOL  It could be worse.  There's areas south of us that are expecting a snow storm tonight.  I always expect at least one last blizzard in April, but it seems where we are now is dry enough that it hasn't been happening like in other places we've lived that were farther south. 

I've been keeping an eye on the news from back home, though.  There's some flooding going on, and the creek running past my sister's farm had reached the highest level mark they'd ever had before.  She got to watch muskrats swimming in their yard!  It's gone down since then, so where they are will likely be okay, but other areas are still in danger.  A couple of people have already died this year from flooding related accidents, and sandbagging volunteers are out in full force.

I've been thinking about home a lot in the last while - "home" being the family farm.  It's coming up on a year since my brother was killed.  Now that the weather is changing and the soil is starting to thaw, my mother is looking to get a gravestone to replace the temporary marker one of my other brothers made.  She's planning to have the new stone placed in July - I don't know if she deliberately chose the exact day he died, or that it just happens to fall on a long weekend.  She plans to have a mass said for him and for the family to get together at the cemetery when the stone is placed.  I don't think we'll be able to make the drive out for then.  We'd been planning to make another trip out at the end of August - I believe Dh was even able to book time off so he could come with us.  I'll have to double check that.  I don't expect we'll be able to come up for the money to head out earlier - especially with the gas prices getting so high right now. 

As usual, the summer will be busy for us.  Eldest has her spot booked for the art festival again and will have plenty of new paintings available to sell. I'm pretty excited for her.  She got a bigger spot this time, so we won't be putting up her canopy over the sidewalk again!  I want to get a new canopy for her this year.  The one we had last year was good, but it had no walls; just some panels for the corners.  Which was great for not blocking the sidewalk, but not so great for some of the rains we got on those first two days.  That and we used it on our balcony over the summer.  Of course, on a balcony, the legs couldn't be anchored the normal way. We tied the legs to the balcony rail on one side, then added weights to the legs on the other.  It worked well enough, but our balcony gets incredibly windy.  We would take it down as needed, but one time we weren't fast enough, and a section of it bent.  I straightened it out, but it's now a weak spot, and I'd really rather she had something better.  I've found something that I think will be perfect, but we won't be able to pick it up for another week and a half or so.  I think we'll be needing a couple more grid walls, too.  Will have to order those in advance.  We shall see.

We've been having some "interesting" times at our co-op lately.  As much as I like the co-op concept, it proves to me, time and again, just how much a socialist system can't work on a large scale.  I know there are places out there that make it work, but they really need to have dedicated, like-minded members.  I remember during one of our facilitator visits, he told of how he and his wife had gone to The Farm, where she hoped to train as a midwife.  They drove out there, spent one night, and left the next morning after viewing the conditions of the place, but for the people who do live there, they make it work.

One of the conditions of living in a co-op is participation.  It's right in the contract we sign.  All members are supposed to contribute in some way, whether it's taking part in the various committees, helping out with the snow clearing, joining us for the spring and fall grounds clean ups, or anything else they can do.  We are especially supposed to make the effort to show up at the General Meetings, where we vote for various things that involve the entire co-op, yet often they can barely meet quorum.

Some of the most remarkable and reliable contributors are people who have plenty of things they could use as excuses NOT to be involved - like their various disabilities and health problems.  We've got all these able bodied members who don't do anything, ever, but it's folks in wheelchairs and walkers that are carrying so much of the weight.  It irritates me to no end when I see the same people doing all the stuff while others aren't involved - but when things start happening, guess which ones are the loudest to complain?  I just got a letter from a member I've never met, complaining about things I have no actual responsibility for (though apparently, I've got titles for things I'm not even involved in!), and going on about all sorts of things she'd have known all about, if she'd bothered going to any of the many meetings we've got going on all the time.  Having no idea who this person was, I went to our administrator to find out.  It turns out there's quite the background on this person, as she's one of the original members, but there's a reason I've never met her.  She's been completely uninvolved in anything - other than writing letters like the one I got - for years.

There are just so many things I've been finding frustrating, from having virtually no control over finances (there are a lot of laws and regulations for co-ops, and while many make sense and are really good to have, others were brought about when people had no way of knowing what sort of economic situations would emerge in the future), to the constant bickering between members, the slackers, and the endless meetings needed to accomplish even the simplest of things.  No matter how great some idea might be and how many members might like it, there's always one or two bitter busybodies that just love to throw a wrench into the works, for no reason other than they want to exert control over others.  That doesn't even count some of the ideas that we have to abandon because it turns out there are by-laws and stuff that prevent us from doing them, no matter how much people actually like the idea. 

Sometimes, I feel like just throwing in the towel and becoming another one of the slackers who never shows up for meetings or gets involved with anything.  It's almost a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" sort of situation.


That's just my frustration talking.  Living here comes with responsibilities, and I don't shirk responsibilities.  I couldn't live with myself if I did.  :-/

At least one thing seems to be happening a bit faster, if only because the seasons won't allow the usual committee run-arounds.  We should have some wheelchair accessible raised bed gardens built in time for people to use this spring.  The garden beds we do have are on the side of a hill so steep, I've decided not to sign up for one at all until we can finally get some proper - and safer - paths made up to get to them.  Our mobility challenged members can't even get back there, never mind get to the garden plots.  When the idea of accessible beds came up, it was met with great enthusiasm by these members.  Gardening is so therapeutic, it'll be great for these members to finally be able to do some!  We're supposed to be an accessible facility, after all, and about a third of our members have probably never even seen some areas, simply because they can't get to them.

There's still plenty of planning for the accessible beds to do - the layout first proposed just didn't make any sense at all.  How the heck were people supposed to get their wheelchairs through those narrow paths?  Forget about being able to turn in them.  Still, if things work out, our wheelchair bound members will have their own gardening spaces for this growing season, and I'm pretty excited to see how it turns out.

Well...  So long as other members don't kibosh the whole thing.  Some are already moaning about the cost and how people are making decisions without consulting members, and so on.  Cripes.  If they'd show up for some of these meetings we're having all the time, they'd know all about it!


Monday, April 04, 2011

Is Canada's medicare system "socialist?"

First, my apologies for not responding to folks who've left comments.  I've been recovering from surgery, but do intend to catch up soon and respond to specific points.

Until then...

I recently shared a video I found rather funny on my facebook.  This one.

A friend of mine, who happens to be on the liberal side of things, called me on it, saying that she's sure I cash my child tax benefit checks, and aren't I glad we have socialized medicine, so I haven't had to go bankrupt with my recent hospitalization?

Well, I will gladly give up the child tax benefit if it means we'll be taxed less.  Until then, I'll take my (or should I say, my husband's) tax dollars back where I can.  It's a pittance compared to what the government is taking off his pay to start with, never mind all the other taxes and fees we get dinged with every time we turn around. 

As for our medical system, I question defining as socialist at all.  In Canada, we have a mix of private and public care, and what's covered is determined not by the federal government, but by the provinces.  Some provinces even have premiums.  A good example of public/private co-operation was my breast reduction, several years ago.  Because it was deemed medically necessary, the surgery was paid for my our medicare system, but the plastic surgeon that performed it ran a private practise.  Other women paid for the same surgery themselves.  My medical needs did not cover getting a liposuction (to get rid of the "wings" under my arms), as that was considered purely cosmetic.  I could have paid almost $1000 for a purely cosmetic procedure.  I chose not to.

Let's take a moment, however, to look at our more recent medical needs.

Our family GP: private practise (our check ups are covered, but if I want to get a planters wart removed, I'd have to pay for it myself)
Our prescriptions: private insurance or pay for them ourselves
The clinic we usually go to for blood work and Xrays (no appointment necessary): a franchise
The clinic my husband used to get an MRI on his leg (no appointment necessary): another franchise.  In fact, it was located in what I can only call a medical mall, filled with private practises for types of care I'd never heard of before!
The clinic my gynecologist works in: private practice.  It's the same clinic I got my mammogram at.

The hospital I had my surgery: publicly owned

So far, that doesn't sound much like a socialist system!

So what does sound socialist?

A system that doesn't allow a family to arrange their own finances and medical needs to such a point that they'd be better off getting a divorce - the very situation my friend who called me on the video is in.

Or the situation another friend of mine is in.  Her doctor has prescribed for her a specific medication, but the bureaucrats won't cover it.  Not because it's an unapproved medication, but because... well... because she can't walk.  If she were still walking, the medication would be covered, but she's now a quad, so they won't.  At $1400 a month, she can't afford the medication.  She can appeal; a process that can take months. 

She's getting her medication, though.  The Evil Capitalist (TM) manufacturer is providing it for her anyway, on compassionate grounds, while she jumps through the hoops to get our medicare system to cover it.

What else sounds like socialism?  Procedures and practises being covered for political reasons, rather than medical need.  Such as some provinces covering sex reassignment surgery on perfectly healthy bodies.  If a patient wants the surgery, they should be free to pay someone to do it, but unless there's a medical need for it, it should not be covered by the medicare system.  Likewise, non-medically necessary abortions are covered the same as medically necessary ones.  Then there's things like the free needles for drug addicts, while diabetics have to pay for theirs.

Clearly, our system needs improvement.  Personally, as much as I appreciate our medicare system, I think we could do with more private partnerships and more personal choices available, less bureaucracy, and less political interference. 

What we need to be on guard for is actual socialization of our medicare system, such as the calls to restrict treatment based on things like body size or smoking.  We need to be on guard to avoid situations such as those in the UK, where patients are being denied medically necessary surgery because they're "too fat." 

Yes, we have a public health care system.  We also have a private one.  Both are limited.  It's not perfect and there's plenty of room for improvement, but I'm glad we have it.

Is it a socialist system?