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.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Peace protest? Yeah, right.

I can't even begin to express the disgust I feel when I see the signs carried by these so-called "peace" protesters.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Civilian casualties

To begin with, civilian casualties are a sad fact of war. Throughout history, not only have non-combatants always suffered, but they have often been deliberately targetted. It would be impossible, even in this modern, technological day and age, to complete avoid civilian deaths.

In my daily habit of reading the news, editorials and commentaries across the country, I'm noticing a rather disturbing falsehood being perpetuated, particularily amongst letters to the editors, and almost universally among those who blame Isreal for the current crisis in Lebanon. What these people are claiming is that Isreal is deliberately targetting civilians, and that all these civilian casualties are blood on the hands of Isrealites.

According to the Geneva convention, when a combatant uses a civilian as a human shield and that civilian is killed, that death is counted as a casualty caused by the side that used that person as a shield, not by the side that killed to get at the combatant.

The attacks in Lebanon are targetting Hezbollah (sp?). Unlike conventional wars, if there even is such a thing, this isn't a war of country against country, soldier against soldier. Groups like Hezbollah are funded, harboured and supplied by several countries. They are not soldiers, in any normal sense of the worth. They are terrorists. They, like all terrorists, deliberately target civilians - soldiers are the last people they want to go up against. Their battle is as much a battle against the psyche of their target, as it is against flesh and blood.

More to the point, Hezbollah is a group that imbeds itself within the population. There is nothing to differentiate members of these sorts of groups from ordinary civilians. They place their bases of operations in the heart of communities, knowing their enemy will hesitate because of the inevitable harm attacking them will cause to innocent bystanders. In other words, these groups are using entire towns and cities as human shields.

Which means that, as defined and determined by the Geneva convention, all those civilian casualties are actually deaths caused by Hezbollah, not Isreal. It is not Isreal that is "responsible for the killing of innocents." The innocent blood that's being spilled is, by definition, on the hands of those who hide among those innocents. Those casualties should be counted as deaths caused by Hezbollah, because they are the ones using these innocents as shields to hide behind.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Paper Canadians

Like just about everyone else, I'm following the news about what's going on in Lebanon. Not on tv, though, since we don't have tv. Just the internet and the odd newspaper article if there happens to be one in the staff room at work. While trying to stay away from the politics of the region, I find myself wondering about all the Canadians our government is supposed to swoop in and rescue instantly.

According to records, in the last while, 14,000 Canadians have gone to Lebanon. These are short term, temporary visitors. Tourists. People going back to visit family. Short term contractors. These are people who were caught in the middle of events that moved too quickly for them to get out. Those Canadians will need help getting out, and I do believe it's our responsibility as a country to help get them out.

Then there are the long term temporary residents. People who are there for business contracts, job postings and the like, most likely with their families. These are people who intented to return to their home, Canada, in the end. These are Canadians that, I assume, knew the risks of moving to the middle east, but still got caught by the speed of events. I would probably be safe in estimating these Canadians number about 5,000 or so. Being generous, let's say there's about 20,000 Canadians in Lebanon that intended to be there temporarily - after all, the US, with its much larger population, has only 25,000 US citizens in Lebanon. Once again, I believe these Canadians should be helped to get out.

Why, then, do we have 50,000 "Canadians" in Lebanon? Who are these approx. 30,000 people (based on my personal guesstimate - I've yet to see any hard numbers on that) that we are suddenly expected to rescue?

They seem to be nothing more than Paper Canadians. They have passports. They have, usually dual, citizenship. Yet they live in Lebanon permanently. Until now, they had no intention of returning to Canada (assuming they lived here long enough to get citizenship). They have no love for Canada. In reality, judging by the comments I'm reading, they hate Canada and everything it stands for. Yet still, they expect Canada to come to their rescue - and are angry because it doesn't come as quickly as they feel it should.

Personally, I feel Canada has no responsibility to these people, and wonder how they even are still considerred citizens. I feel especially angry about the ungratefullness shown by the efforts Canada is making to get them out - and apparently the belief that they don't have to take any responsibility to do anything themselves... like, say, get their own names on the friggin lists of evacuees! Or use common sense - it was almost chance that I found a tiny quote, after reading a long article about the horrors the evacuees were suffering, like sea sickness (what the government is supposed to be able to do about their sea sickness, I have yet to figure out) and lack of air conditioning. The quote was from one of the staff on board the ship they were on. Apparently, the ship did have air conditioning - but the evacuees kept opening the windows!

Of course, the media has been going out of its way to show the governments efforts in the worst possible light. I can't believe the vitriol I've been reading. Everyone was caught unprepared, not just our own government, but when the numbers we have to rescue were suddenly padded by all these Paper Canadians, how can anyone expect anything other than chaos?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Too fun!

Ok, this one is just plain addictive!

Click here to play Make-A-Word word game, and TRY to score better!

update: spending way too much time with this one...

Click here to play Make-A-Word word game, and TRY to score better!

update: Woo Hoo! New high score...

Click here to play Make-A-Word word game, and TRY to score better!

Shameless plug

I just had to share my daughter's latest blog post. She had me and her dad practically in tears from laughing so hard. As a background to the references she makes in the post, she's been working on stories and characters for a comic book idea for some time now, and some of them are characters she uses in role plays. She's been inspired by a number of online comic books that she follows.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What it really looks like

While reading through the comments on Big Fat Blog's recent post about a teacher that was fired because of his size, I found this interesting site.

A lot of people, when they hear the numbers associated with weight, don't actually know what that number looks like on a real person. The chart on this site has prictures of real people at various heights and weights. More pictures are needed - there are large gaps on the chart - but it still goes a long way to show that the numbers on the scale aren't a good predictor of what someone actually looks like.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

You just need to loose weight...

I was reading Big Fat Blog recently, which lead me to this article. It tells of a woman who went to her doctor due to sudden and painful weight gain. The doctor told her she needed to loose weight and prescribed an appetite suppressant. It turned out she had an ovarian cyst weighing 32 pounds!

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is way too common, and just another example of how medical professionals are prone to judge people based on their size just as much as anyone else. Unlike your average Joe Schmoe on the street, though, a doctor's preconceptions can risk a persons health.

Being a person of generous proportions, I've encountered this numerous times, as has my husband. I remember an incident that occurred some years ago. This was after my husband had injured and reinjured his back a couple of times, so he'd gained a fair amount of weight. He was at the point where he was, cautiously, increasing his activity levels again. One day, while in the shower, he found a mildly painful lump. Located on his inner thigh, he asked me to take a look. I could see a lump, as well as bruise like discoloration. To me, it looked like the beginnings of a lesion. Having just moved to a new city, my husband asked some of his new co-workers to recommend a doctor and soon had an appointment. The dr. took one look and told him he was diabetic and that he needed to loose weight, then ordered blood tests to confirm her supposition. She then recommended he improve his diet and exercise. The thing is, my husband was *already* eating healthy, and while still recovering from his back injury, he had already been increasing his exercise levels. So there really wasn't anything we could change as far as diet and exercise.

After a few days, the results of his blood tests came in and... everything was normal. Not only was he not diabetic, but his cholesterol, etc. was within normal parameters. She still recommended he loose weight, but really had nothing more to tell him.

And the lump? Well, it continued to become more tender until one day, it popped. That's right. The lump that had us so concerned turned out to be nothing more than a colossal zit!

The thing is, every time he went to see a new doctor, *every single one of them* assumed that, because of his size, he was diabetic, and that he'd have high cholesterol levels, etc. (an interesting side note - although doctors I've gone to also assumed I'd have high cholesterol levels and other "weight related" health issues, I've never had any suggest I was at risk of diabetes - only my husband has had that). Every single time, they'd write him up for blood tests, and they'd all come back normal. It wasn't until his health suddenly fell apart that his blood sugar levels skyrocketed, along with all sorts of other weird results from the numerous tests he went through at the time, and they went back to normal once he started using the CPAP. In fact, once his apnea was treated, all his tests started coming back normal, even though he was still feeling ill, and they eventually ran out of tests. This was as frustrating for the doctors as it was for us. It's so much easier to say "you're sick because you're fat - loose the weight and you'll be healthy." Then their own tests would contradict them. Life would be so much easier if we could blame his health problems on his weight, but we can't.

Now, we're on the search for yet another new doctor to see and, understandably, my husband isn't looking forward to it at all.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy Canada Day

Yes, I know - it's July 2nd as I write this. I hope you enjoyed your Canada Day as much as I did. For me, the day was spent in a business conference. That may seem rather strange, but to me, I couldn't have had a better celebration. While the day was filled with information on business, product information, launch dates, etc., Canada's birthday (which happened to be shared by one of our guest speakers) cropped up many times. Even our guest speakers from the US found ways to work into their speeches, what a privilege it is to live in such a great country.

One of the most touching moments for me, however, as after the supper break. The evening portion was about to begin and the conference room was in darkness, with only shadows being visible. On stage, one of those shadows coalesced into the form of a man in uniform, and a booming drill-sergeant voice range out, calling orders to a colour party. The spotlight sought out the back of the room, where the colour party began their march through the audience to the stage, accompanied by martial music. In front was an RCMP officer in dress uniform, carrying the Canadian flag. Behind him was a man in a naval uniform, a woman in an army uniform followed, and she in turn was followed by a second RCMP officer. It wasn't until they - and the spotlight - reached the stage that I could finally see and recognize the officer with the booming voice, in his air force uniform, as my own friend and mentor.

Once in position, they were joined by a singer who led us in singing Oh, Canada. Now, I'll readily admit that these sorts of things always get me very emotional, and this day was no exception. I was so choked up, I could do little more than mouth the words as we sang Oh, Canada, and I was wiping away tears as my friend and the colour party marched off the stage.

While references and positive comments about Canada peppered the speeches of pretty much everyone who graced the stage, one speaker in particular sticks with me. US author, Dr. Steve Price, was one of our speakers. Near the end of his time, he deviated from his planned speech to describe what, in his words, was a moment of epiphany. He had arrived the night before and, as is his practice, he went to the conference centre, the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, to familiarize himself with it. This conference centre overlooks a river and has several lookout points beside it. He and his family stopped to enjoy the view at one of these, then took note of what else was there. This particular spot is actually a memorial that includes flags, a perpetual torch, and plaques. He described his feelings as he read the plaques, which listed the names of all Edmonton citizens who gave their lives in WWI, WWII and the Korean Conflict. Two other plaques are part of the memorial. One reads

"Freedom is a privilege."

The other reads

"Remember and Learn."

He went on to describe his feelings as he read these plaques, as well as his experiences with his Canadian hosts. Then, in a voice choked with emotion, he ended his speech with,

"Now I know what it means to be a Canadian."