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, December 19, 2008

Sometimes, having a junker car is a good thing...

What a day we had today!

It's turned out to be day when I not only got to really appreciate my kids, but am appreciating that we have a $50 car. *L*

As the girls and I entered the parkade to head out for the day, there were some people going through their car parked closer to the door than our spot. Seeing us come in, the gentleman called out, "did your car get broken into, too?" !?!?! When I said I had no idea - we hadn't seen our car yet - he told me that quite a few had been broken into. My husband found out later that the total number had been six.

Our own car was untouched. It's not exactly the sort of car that would be targeted as having anything of value. With it's "character" marks on the outside, the chopped up dash board cover (the vinyl cover had come unglued and curled up, blocking the car's ability to defog the windshield, so Dh just cut the curled up part off. It looks weird, but it works. *L*), missing gas cap cover, and so on... About the only thing we'd have to worry about is if we parked on the street and someone stole it for a joy ride. The thing isn't even worth stealing for parts. *L*

One of the things we did today was meet my husband for lunch at a Boston Pizza near his work. We won't be going there again. We're fairly regular there - maybe once a month, though we've found ourselves there twice in one day in the past. We're there often enough for some of the wait staff to know us. They certainly aren't the problem. The problem is in the kitchen. Today was at least the third time they've screwed something up. A past example was when we decided to have a couple of deserts. After the waitress went into the kitchen twice to get them for us, she ended up having to plate them herself, because the kitchen staff never got around to it. Dh was late getting back to work because of that.

Today's screw up was with a quesidilla (not sure how to spell that) we ordered to share. We specifically asked for no tomato. I can tolerate tomatoes if they're in a sauce or paste, but that's it. I've tried to eat them but ... well, let's just say my gag reflex works really well at times. When we asked for no tomatoes, the waitress made note of it, saying it was an allergy, just to make sure they'd pay attention to it in the kitchen. When the quesidilla gets to the table, I take a peek, just in case. Sure enough, it had chopped bits of tomato spread all over. I couldn't even pick them off.

When the waitress came back, she was surprised when we told her there were tomatoes in there, since she'd been VERY clear when she wrote down our order. I even watched her to it, too. She offered to take it back, but since it was just me that was effected by it, and this was more of an appetizer for the 4 of us, I said I was ok with it. I really didn't want the extra time added on, since we did have to get my husband back to work. I should have accepted her offer, though. Eldest tried some and didn't like it. Youngest doesn't like tomatoes. I thought she was ok with them. Oops. That left Dh being the only person who could eat it.

When it came time for the bill, the waitress told us she'd talked to the manager on our behalf and that he said not to charge us for the quesidilla, which we thought was nice of her. As we left, Youngest and I headed to the car to warm it up (and get the windows clear of snow) while Dh and Eldest waited in line to pay for our meal. It took them a lot longer than I expected. Sure enough, Dh asked for the manager and had a talk with him. He simply told the manager that we weren't coming back. He made it very clear that we had no problems with the wait staff, just their kitchen staff. The manager started to make offers to placate my husband, but Dh told him he wasn't after anything. No discounts or whatever are wanted. We're just not coming back. I doubt the manager is too happy with his kitchen staff right now.

The hard part is going to be finding an alternative place to meet Dh for lunch that isn't fast food, is relatively inexpensive, and close to Dh's work.

After dropping Dh off at work and doing a bit more running around, the girls and I headed home. I didn't stay long, though, heading out again to do more running around. The last place I needed to go to was back downtown - just up the block from the BP, actually. LOL

Now, the weather today hasn't been the best. It was fairly cold with a light snow pretty much all day. That made for some messy roads. Not icy - it was too cold for any melt on the roads - but with plenty of dirty ridges of loose snow in between the tire tracks. The plow trucks are out, but they just can't keep up with an all day snow. Rush hour was just starting as I headed into downtown, too, so traffic was pretty heavy. I get to an intersection where I needed to make a left turn. It had a turning lane and an advance green arrow. I was several cars back from the intersection, and the vehicle ahead of me went through even though the arrow had turned yellow. By the time I got to the intersection, the green arrow was gone. Facing traffic now had the right of way. So I stopped.

The car behind me didn't.

Yup, I got rear ended.

I had to pull a bit forward, into the cross walk, to give some space between our vehicles since the driver behind me made no effort to back up. I doubt he could have given me more than a couple of inches anyway, with vehicles close behind him. I then turned on my hazard lights and get out of the car to see the damage. Only when I get to my own bumper does he get out to take a look, too. His bumper has a few scratches on it. Mine's cracked and caved in. Mentally, I'm thinking... it's a $50 car. We really don't care too much. Still, the damage is enough that if we did fix it, the entire bumper will need to be replaced.

At that point, the guy gets to me, starts looking at his bumper and mumbles something about the damage not being too bad. I point out that *my* bumper is damaged quite a bit - enough to need replacing. We're going to have to exchange our driver's license information. Then he starts to shift the blame onto me by saying that I'd stopped. Well, all thoughts of letting it slide disappear as I point out that of course I stopped - I no longer had the light! Then he scuffs at the road surface and says something about the conditions, and how his car just kept going. I didn't bother pointing out that the road surface he was scuffing wasn't slippery at all. I just went into my car and found something to write our information on. As I went past him to get his license plate number, I asked him if he had something to write on (hint, hint). He says yes and goes into his own car. By the time I'm done, he's writing down my license plate number, too.

I should point out that he wasn't at all belligerent or aggressive or anything like that. He just seemed to *really* want to act like nothing happened, and unsure of what to do. Which turned out to be very accurate. As I bring out my own driver's license so he can get my information (then he starts digging for his), he starts asking why we're doing this. Is it for the police? I told him that no, it was for the insurance company. So what happens next? he wonders. He's never been in an accident before. I have no idea. I've never been rear ended before. Well, not quite true. I did get a bump once, many years ago. That one didn't even result in a scratch, so I've never had to do paperwork for this sort of thing before. All I know is that we call our insurance companies and it goes on from there.

To be honest, I'm not sure I'm going to bother. As far as I know, because I was rear ended and it was clearly his fault, my insurance won't be effected, but his will. The thing is, I have no interest in getting it fixed. Why bother? My deductible is probably higher than the car is worth. The damage is to one corner of the bumper on the driver's side. I still have a functional bumper - as long as I don't get hit in that same spot again. To be even more honest though, the biggest reason I have to report this is the other driver's behaviour. I mean really - trying to shift the blame to me for stopping when I didn't have the light? Along with the whole "it's not that bad" commentary when he's only got a few scratches and I've got a crunched in hole in my bumper? I don't think so, Buddy!

I don't know. I'll have to think about it for a bit longer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Relevant to these times

I was browsing through comments on another blog when I found this. I thought it was quite relevant to what we're going through these days.

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

-Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Random thoughts - on metaphors and Christmas breaks

Just popping in quickly while going through my morning news.

People have been using a lot of metaphors to describe various elements of our current political fiasco. One I've seen a few times now is the coalition being called a "three headed hydra."

I disagree. The coalition is not like a hydra at all.

The hydra is a multi-headed monster of mythology. It was a snake-like creature with a varying number of heads - by some accounts, many hundreds - that acted with one mind. As one head was destroyed, another would grow in its place.

Clearly, this is a metaphor that does not fit the coalition. There is only 3 of them, they don't act of one mind and, as seen by the resignation of Dion, they don't "grow their heads back" all too well.

A more accurate metaphor would be the chimera. Though the chimera is described as being female, while all the coalition leaders are male, the chimera has three very different heads. One is the snake instead of a tail (Layton, with his deal making with the Bloc while at the same time saying a coalition would never happen during the election campaign), the lion (Duceppe - the only one of the three that you know exactly where he stands - for Quebec, not Canada) and the goat (Dion, the sacrificial offering).

Another thing that seems strange for me is the reaction to proroguing the government. Pro-coalition folks are making a whole lot of noise about how undemocratic it is - which is really rich, since they're the same ones objecting when people call the coalition undemocratic.

Prorogue happens regularly. Prorogue simple means to suspend parliament without dissolving it. It's done every summer. It's also done every winter for Christmas break. Parliament was set to prorogue Dec. 12.

For 7 weeks.

I knew they were off for about a month, but 7 weeks? I hadn't realized it was for that long!

Anyhow. The GG simply prorogued parliament 5 days early.

Pro-coalition folks say that this is undemocratic because it allows Harper to "run away" from a confidence vote. Here's the thing. The CPC had already backed off from the things the coalition supposedly formed against. They'd made the concessions. This would have been a good time for the opposition to back off and claim victory, leaving the CPC to deal with the humiliation of looking weak. The opposition parties refused to accept those concessions and formed their coalition anyways. To my mind, the reason is pretty obvious. Especially in light of Layton's groundwork, laid long ago (we really need to have the time line of this made public!). The coalition's sole goal is to oust Harper. It's not about the economy, stimulus packages, or even funding. It's a personal vendetta against one person. The only thing the opposition parties hate more than each other is Stephen Harper. Not a stable basis for a working relationship.

Because of the timing - with Christmas break coming up anyhow - it wouldn't have made sense to dissolve parliament and trigger another election. It wouldn't make sense to accept a coalition that's tearing itself apart already as a new government. Prorogue was, really, the only choice. Step back, give the coalition time to either work things out or self-destruct, while the CPC puts together a budget.

People are also upset over the 2 month "holiday" our MPs are getting. Quite a few throw out some variation of how they wish they could get a 2 month holiday from their own jobs, too.

Here's the thing. Parliament may not be in session anymore, but this is no holiday. Neither is the summer break. Prorogue simply means the MPs aren't required to show up at parliament on a regular basis. They're still working. MPs of all parties are going back to their ridings, where they have to face their constituents. The CPC have to put together a budget, which will be introduced the day after parliament re-opens. A Sisyphean task, since the NDP has already said they won't support it, no matter what's in it, and both the NDP and Libs have rebuffed the CPCs request for collaboration.

Anyone still think the coalition isn't just about overturning the government?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Local Rally for Canada

Eldest daughter and I went to our local Rally for Canada today. We didn't get home until fairly late, as we were out and about afterward.

It was a touch on the chilly side, with the weather not quite sure if it was raining or snowing. We took the train and found ourselves heading to the legislature grounds with a group of people. At one point, I found myself walking beside a man who wasn't quite sure if he was at the right place. When I told him that, yes, this was where the rally was going to be held, he told me that he wasn't supporting Stephen Harper, then asked if I were going to the same place. When I said yes, he didn't say anything and started walking faster. Later on, I saw him take out an anti-Harper and anti-GG sign invoking Mugabe that had me laughing out loud. I suppose it was meant to be insulting, but all it really did was show off his own ignorance. But hey, each to their own.

There was quite a crowd already gathered, and it grew quickly. Ours was one of the smaller demonstrations in Canada - something over 500 people, I've read. Along with Mugabe guy, there was another counter-demonstrator with a "Fire Harper" sign, and something about perogy on the other. A play on the word prorogue that was supposed to be either insulting or funny. He was walking back and forth in front of the crowd for a while, until some people with signs against the coalition started walking along right behind him, step for step. At one point he yelled out something about us all being Quebec haters, which someone promptly corrected. Not wanting to deal with separatists is not the same as hating Quebecers. Eventually, he found a high spot in the middle and held his sign. Every now and then, during the speaches, he'd shout something out about "padlocking parliament" and the like. I would like to have asked him if he was protesting like this the last time parliament was prorogued - at Paul Martin's request,* so as to avoid the ad-scam fall out.
*correction: It was Chretien that prorogued parliament; Paul Martin was left holding the bag as PM after Chretien stepped down.

There was one guy that got into a shouting match with both the counter-protestors before things started. Of course, with each one, the tv and newspaper cameras came running along to record it. It's unfortunate that this happened. The counter protestors have as much right to their opinion as the rest of us, and shouting at them is not only disrespectful, but counterproductive, what with how it would end up being portrayed in the news. It's certainly not going to change anyone's mind.

When things got started, we opened with the singing of Oh, Canada! Shortly after, there was a moment of silence to commemorate the 3 soldiers that died in Afghanistan recently, as well as the Montreal Massacre.

There were some more speeches, with the whole thing lasting under and hour. We closed off with another singing of the national anthem. My daughter noted to me later on that Fire Harper guy was the only person she saw that wasn't singing. Mugabe guy was standing with his back to us, so I have no idea if he sang along.

When things broke up, most of the crowd headed over to where a table was set up, giving out copies of a petition against the coalition, so that people could get signatures, which are to be sent in by Dec. 12. While looking through the crowd, I noticed on Western separatist sign a guy had, as well as one sign a woman carried that suggested Quebec should separate.

While we waited for my husband to come and get us, a family group walked by with their large, professionally printed signs. I asked them where they got the signs from and they told me they'd found a printer that was able to do it in 6 hours for them - and that they cost about $50 each! These were printed on both sides with a lot of text, too. You know it means something when people will toss off $150 for signs that can only be used once.

All in all, I left the rally feeling somewhat encouraged. It helps that the coalition looks like it's already breaking apart. We'll see how things work out over the next while. Parliament would've shut down next week anyways, so it's just a few extra weeks closed than it would've been. Layton is already saying the NDP won't support the budget, no matter what it is. And people say Harper is the one who's being stubborn and a bully? How can the CPC work together and be concilliatory with a party that intends to work against them no matter what?

We're definitly living in interesting times.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sites of interest.

Just a quick step in to post some links Canadian readers might find useful.

First, a simple poll - do you agree or disagree.

Coalition Opinion

At the time of this writing, there' still less than 1000 votes.

There's also the Rally for Canada site I posted about earlier.

If you're on facebook, you can join this group.
Canadians Against a Liberal/NDP Coalition

This group grew by about 5000 members in the space of a couple of hours between my visits.

You can also sign a petition.

Canadians for Democracy

If you want to write you Member of Parliament - or write to all of them - you can find their info here.

Members of Parliament

If you want to write to the Governor General, contact information is here.

Let your voice be heard.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Rally For Canada

I don't really trust myself to write on the subject right now. Instead, I'll direct you here.

Rally for Canada.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Bad News Day

I started off my day going through the news online, and one of the first headlines I see is about a Walmart employee that got trampled by Black Friday shoppers. Other injuries are being reported, and even a pregnant woman was hospitalized for observation. I'd been wondering what Black Friday was. It turns out I'd heard of it before - just not by that name. I'm thoroughly horrified by the whole thing. Seriously, people. It it really worth people's lives and safety, just so you can get a deal on some shopping? It's totally insane.

I didn't finish my news before we had to head out. I come back home and am greeted by this headline. Liberals propose non-confidence motion, governing coalition. Why?

"In light of the government's failure to recognize the seriousness of Canada's economic situation and its failure in particular to present any credible plan to stimulate the Canadian economy and to help workers and businesses in hard-pressed sectors such as manufacturing, the automotive industry and forestry, this House has lost confidence in this government and is of the opinion that a viable alternative government can be formed within the present House of Commons."
Look, you Bozos. Just because the CPC isn't running around and panicing like you guys seem to want them to, that doesn't mean we want to be governed by your Coalition of Losers. The last thing Canada needs is a bunch of people who wouldn't know fiscal restraint if it smacked them over the head. Repeatedly. Especially the Liberals, who are so in debt, it's a wonder they're even surviving right now. Canada is doing better than pretty much any other country in the world right now. I'd prefer we keep it that way. We need to keep our heads, not start throwing money at companies that aren't keeping themselves viable.

It's not the government's responsibility to provide jobs. It's the governements responsibility to provide an atmosphere that allows people to create jobs. For years, it's been known that Canada and the US is moving away from the Industrial Age. We're moving into the Information Age. We need to be able to retrain and adapt, not prop up old paradigms at taxpayers expense. That will only prolong the pain and slow recovery.

The CPC may be making some mistakes - or they may turn out to not be mistakes at all - but at least they're not causing as much damage as these socialist dimwits will.

Gah. I shouldn't try and write when I so friggin' irritated.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving thanks

Wishing all my friends in the US a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a wonderful day of food, fun and family!

Me? I'm about to go clear the spot for our tree. We're putting it up, but not decorating it for a few days. It's time to train the kitten. :-D

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm back! Did you miss me? LOL

Well, it's been way too long since I posted here, though I did manage a couple of posts on my home school blog.

Things have been sort of all over the place, these days. Dh's health has been an issue - with a whole new pile of medications we can't afford that he's apparently going to be taking for the rest of his life. After his last dr's appointment, he walked out with a pile of them that, if we'd filled completely that day, would've cost just under $900. Thankfully, some were refills he didn't need to refill yet. Still, since we can't afford to pay for them in 3 month supplies and getting the discount, they'll end up costing us more. Here's hoping the insurance company will approve the new ones and we'll get our 80% back. Then we can afford to fill the ones he's running out of. *sigh*

With Christmas coming, things are getting busy. The girls have already finished their shopping (!!! good for them!), while I'm still trying to finish the coat I'm crocheting for Eldest before I start on some decorations I'm making for this year. So close to being finished!

We never do a lot of shopping for Christmas. For starters, I hate shopping this time of hear. It gets so crowded and noisey in the stores. We don't buy a great deal, either. Last year our budget was bigger than it had been in years - for the last 10 years or so, our budget for gifts has been in the $200 range. Gifts aren't the priority for our Christmas celebrations. If things work out well, we'll actually have guests joining us for Wigilia this year. That reminds me, there's a couple of butchers I need to check out to see if we can get the meats for toutierre, using my MIL's secret recipe, this year. I've had one in particular recommended to me because they have a good variety of game meats.

Another week and the tree goes up and we start decorating the apartment, though Thursday is our first day of the Christmas season - St. Catherine's Day. I don't know that anyone's interested in making the toffee anymore, though. We'll need to do a bit of re-arranging to make room for the Christmas tree - there's only one spot we can put it, really, and as soon as the tree is gone, it gets filled. LOL

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to keep up with my reading. I've been working on The Case Against Adolescence, a 2007 book that I highly recommend. For a lot of home schooling families, the idea that childhood is being artificially extended well beyond anything that's healthy is old news. This is one of the most complete books I've encountered on the subject and I highly recommend it. I don't know if I'll have a chance to write a full review of it when I'm finished reading it.

Another I just picked up is Scared to Death, a British book, also published in 2007. One of the co-authors was actively involved in some of the scares they write about. I'm still in the first part (food scares), and it's fascinating reading. Another one I'd definitly recommend. Especially to anyone who's all freaked out about AGW right now, though it's unlikely people who are in the middle of the scare du jour would appreciate anything from this book. It's a real eye opener, though, when reading about the background mechanations that create these scares.

Well, time to go. Got more running around to do - a couple of errands before heading to park day. :-) That and writing while a movie is playing behind my head is a touch distracting! The girls are watching a Miss Marple, and I find them way too interesting. :-D

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A great loss this tuesday.

No, I'm not talking about yesterday's election.

Michael Crichton, dead at 66

Michael Crichton dies of cancer

Crichton died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 66 after privately battling cancer.

John Wells, executive producer of "ER" called the author "an extraordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful.

"No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation."

Damn. We've lost a great mind and an amazing talent.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

To my friends in the US.

The big day is coming for you folks in the US. Two more days to the election. Things are getting pretty intense! And, the whole world seems to be watching.

In reading my daily news, the general consensus around the world seems to be that Obama will be the next president of the US. Of course, if you've been reading my blog on any regular basis, you know what I think of consensus. ;-) Don't count your votes before they're cast!

I've also noticed that around the world, people seem to want US voters to elect Obama instead of McCain. To me, this would be a warning sign to do the exact opposite. The rest of the world doesn't have the US' best interests at heart. They have their own best interests at heart. I admit my own bias in that direction. I disagree with a lot of things on both sides of the US political front, but I believe McCain would be better for Canada, and that Obama would be really bad for us.

But I'm not voting in this election. It's up to US citizens to decide.

Whoever you end up electing, I wish you the best.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another test, over and done with.

Today I got my bronchoscopy done. This started off with a fast beginning midnight. No food or water. By the time all was done, I expected the fast to last a total of 12 hours. It ended up being 16 hours. I didn't take into account how long the freezing of my throat would take to wear off. It wasn't too bad, though Dh starting to talk about food on the way home sure wasn't appreciated! LOL

Dh took the day off to take care of me and, since we had no real idea how long things would take, we brought the girls along, too. The first thing I discovered was that the hospital I had to go to is a total maze! It's actually a complex of several hospitals, including a Children's Hospital and a Women's Hospital. We ended up parking way off in the wrong area. Since Dh had already paid the meter - $10 for less than 2 1/2 hours! - we walked to the right area, after I snagged someone and asked directions. Then, once in the hospital, I had to get directions for the correct pre-registration counter. Talk about confusing!

Things were running behind (no surprise there), but only by about half an hour. Once I got called in, Dh and the girls headed out for a while, grabbed a quick lunch, then headed back. We made sure they had he cell phone number to let him know when I was done.

Prep-ing me for the bronchoscopy included a bunch of paperwork (which is when I found out the dr. doing the bronchoscopy is the same respiratory specialist that wrote me up for the test), getting my blood pressure and O2 levels checked, and getting in IV. The blood pressure cuff was left on me. Things have changed a bit since the last time I've been in the hospital. For starters, no one othered to check O2 levels a few years ago. O2 and blood pressure are now done with a single machine on a stand, instead of having a person pumping away, like in the dr's office. Even the IV was different - no more big white gauze on the back of my hand. Now it's this clear tape-like bandage, allowing full view of the needle. Some patients don't like that, I was told. *L*

Talking to the nurse who put in the IV, she asked how I was feeling about the proceedure, and I told her I was looking forward to seeing the equipement and the proceedure. The paperwork I'd been given told me I'd be partially awake, and that they'd be using fibre optics. She told me they haven't used fibre optics in years. It's a little camera now, and since the dr. would be standing behind my head, the monitors (one for the camera the other for my vital signs) would be right in front of me. As we chatted, she commented that some patients are like me - interesting in finding everything out, asking all sorts of questions, and so on. Others come in and they don't even know why they're there. They just say their dr. sent them. Not only that, but they don't want to know what's about to be done with them. I found myself wondering that it must be hard to give informed consent about something when you don't want to be informed!

After about an hour, I was wheeled out. I had a decent view of where I was going, since the bed I was on was inclined. The respiratory specialist caught up with me as I was being wheeled in, dressed in a sport coat and tie! - and introduced me to the other two doctors that came in. Those two were dressed in scrubs. With the three of them, plus the nurse that wheeled me in, things were pretty crowded in that tiny room. The specialist went over my file with the other two dr's, telling them about my cough, and how long I've had it. Practially on cue, I started coughing, and they were both going "ooh... yeah - that would get annoying!" My cough has a rather distinctive noise to it.

One of the doctors then had to spray my mouth to numb it. He warned me that the stuff tasted really bad - like Buckley's Mixture, only worse. LOL. Yeah, it was bad - but I've tasted worse. He had to do that twice, then a different one that he had to stick down my throat to numb things farther down. Talk about a gag reflex, even partially numbed! No wonder they insist on people fasting, first!!

Meanwhile, the monitors were being set up in front of me. With the one for the camera, I could see the floor. Wherever it was, it was obviously hanging downwards. The nurse added some valium to my IV.

Then I woke up in the recovery room.

Dang it. I wanted to watch the proceedure!

The preceedure itself doesn't take long at all. I'd been told that they'd take a sample of the fluids in my lungs and, if the dr. saw the need, possibly a biopsy. Since the dr. would be seeing everything as it was being done, I was told he'd be able to talk to me about what he saw.

I never saw him. I figure, with them being behind, he just never made it before I was ok to head out.

I fell asleep a couple of times in recovery, so that seemed to go by quickly. I didn't have my glasses, but there was a clock close enough that I could figure out what time it was. It felt like I slept for such a long time, but only a few minutes went by.

The awkward part was when I shifted my butt around to get comfy and felt something a touch odd. And damp. Now, one of the issues with my cough is that... well, I need to tense things up in the nether regions. If I was coughing while unconcious in recovery, I couldn't have done that. Problem was, I couldn't exactly check myself! So I waited for a nurse.

By the time she showed up, so did my family. I had my blood pressure checked one last time, the IV removed, and my glasses returned to me - yay, vision!!! I mentioned to her that I felt damp and thought I might've wet myself, but she told me that that was unlikely. Then she drew the curtain so I could get dressed.

Once I was off the bed, though, I discovered I was right. I'd leaked. Ugh. That meant going home commando, and I've never liked that. I find the seams in pants really uncomfortable. Well, it could've been worse, as far as things going wrong. I couldn't even bother being embaressed about it.

Thankfully, the exit wasn't far from the recovery room. I was pretty light headed, still, and hung onto Dh, just to be on the safe side. He brought the car around - with a whole 7 minutes to spare on the ticket. In fact, once he got outside to buy more time for parking, his phone beedled to let him know he had messages, and he found out they'd tried to call him three times. He and the girls were in the waiting room for a while by then, but this department is in the basement, so there was no signal. When they'd returned, he's suggested to the woman behind the desk that maybe he should somehow let them know he was back, but she said not to bother; they'd come to the waiting room to check. They never did! I guess since they had the phone number, they just tried calling, instead.

One of the things that was stressed as they were getting me ready to go was to NOT try to eat or drink for a couple more hours, because of the danger of choking. I was told that, if I felt like it was safe to try, just to take a sip of water to see, but no more. Once home for a while, I did give it a try, and I had no problem swallowing, but I just took a few more sips, then went for a nap, since I was still feeling a bit woozy.

Right now, the only effects I'm feeling is irritation in my bronchial tubes - which is really no different from times when my cough it a bit worse. If I take a deep breath, I can feel it more, but again, it's nothing I'm not used to because of the cough. I was warned that I might be coughing up blood or having problems with shortness of breath or pain, but I'm not having any of that.

Since the dr. never saw me in recovery, I have no idea how things went otherwise. I won't find out until I go for my follow up visit, near the end of November.

After this, I just have the barium X-rays to get done. I need to make that appointment myself, once I figure out which location is most convenient for me to get to.

Then, it's just a matter of getting together with the specialist and seeing what the results tell us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Testing, testing, 2 and 3. Four coming up tomorrow.

So I got a couple more elimination tests done, trying to track down the source of my chronic cough.

The first one was a methacholine challenge. It was actually a lot of fun and very interesting. I got a tech that clearly loved his job, and was fantastic about answering questions and explaining the different readings on the screen, which was in full view of where I was sitting.

In this one, I had to breath through a hose into a drum that measured the changed in volume. This involved taking a huge breath in, then punching it out as hard as fast as I could, then keep trying to exhale for as long as possible - or until he told me to stop.

The first few were to establish a base line. I ended up doing 6 of these - about twice what was needed. *L* The interesting thing was seeing the numbers increase slightly each time.

Once that was done, I had to inhale the methacholine in a saline solution through a mask, starting with a low dosage. I'd do a few more puffs into the drum - these ones for only 3 seconds, instead of until I was turning purple. After about 3 of those, I'd get another, stronger, dose of methacholine through the mask, and we'd do it again. I can't remember if it was 3 or 4 stints on the mask.

With people who have respiratory issues, such as asthma, there would be a substantial increase in restriction even with the low dosage. For people without these issues, lung volume does drop, but slowly and not by very much.

Finally, after the methacholine tests were done, I was given two shots on a puffer, the same as what asthmatics would use, given 9 minutes for it to do its work, then tested again.

Although the results were printed out to be sent to the respiratory specialist for analysis, the tech and I could see them and talk about them right then and there. My lung volume turns out to be well within the normal ranges. Even when, near the end, I was starting to cough a bit more (not much, though, thankfully. This wasn't anything at all like the booth tests, though these tests were part of it), my volume remained within normal ranges. There was even one test, after one of the stronger doses of methacholine, where I knew it was weak. It was the first of three puffs after that dose, and I didn't punch it out as hard as I could have. The next two puffs were back on track. Interestingly, the first "weak" puff had a higher volume than the two that followed! So even though I didn't hit is as hard as the others, the result was better.

When it was all done and we were talking about the results, I made a point of asking very specifically about what was being measured, and that yes, my results were within the normal range. Then I told him why. If you've read my post about my visit to the respiratory specialist, you know that we discussed the results from my booth tests, and that the last two had showed I had lower than normal lung volume - and that the specialist blamed it on me being fat, even though I told him that, by the time I was doing those tests, I was having major problems with my coughing.

When I mentioned this to the tech that was doing the methacholine challenge, he was taken aback. Looking again at the results printed out and in his hands, he told me there was NO reason to come to that sort of conclusion. My lung volume - without having all those other tests that were done in the booth first, and without coughing my lungs out in the process - is fine.

I wonder what the respiratory specialist will make of that?

The next test I had done was the home sleep apnea test.

This one was interesting, since our only other experience with sleep apnea testing was with my husband, who'd spent the night in a research lab, hooked up to all sorts of gadgets. Mine wasn't quite that involved. *L*

Because of our above normal awareness of sleep apnea, the tech that gave me the machine didn't have to spend anywhere near as much time with me, explaining about apnea. She just had to tell me how to do the test.

I had three things to attach to my body. The first was an oxygen sensor, taped to one finger, to get my blood oxygen readings while I slept. That was kind of funny. The sensor has a red light and, when the lights were out, the tip of my finger glowed red. All I could think of was the movie, ET, with the phrase "ET phone home!" jumping into my mind whenever I saw it. *L* Also, just to make sure the sensor didn't accidentally get ripped off or something as I moved around, the wire was taped to my wrist.

The second thing to attach was a microphone. This was a thick, flat metal disc that had to be taped into the hollow of my throat, just above where my clavicle meet. This would record my snoring and the volume - as well as any bedtime conversation we had once the machine was turned on.

Finally, I had to attache a hose to my face. In shape, it was a lot like what my husband wears with his CPAP, but tiny. A device with a pair of nozzles went under my nose, with the nozzles inside. They tickled. From each side of the device, a hose ran up, around my ears, then back down under my chin. A slider was used to keep it snug in place. The pair of hoses then joined to a single hose, which then attached to the machine. This measured how much air was (or wasn't) coming out of my nose.

The wires and hose for this were all really long, to give plenty of roll-around room. It made getting into bed a challenge. Dh had to untangle one of them from my leg for me as I tried to get under the covers. I tend to toss and turn a fair amount, and every time I had to roll over, I needed to find the wires and hose and hold them out of my way as I moved. The most disruptive part was in the morning, when I had to go to the bathroom. Since all this stuff is taped to me, I had to unplug the machine from the back, take it to the bathroom with me (while making sure I didn't trip over the wires and hose hanging down), then plug it back in when I got back to bed. Well, it was pretty dark, so I had to turn on a light to plug it back in. I had been told that I wouldn't have to turn the machine back on again, but after a minute or so of watching the screen *not* switch from "not recording" to "recording," I turned it on manually.

Half an hour later, I have up trying to sleep again. All the fussing just woke me up too much. Which means they have, at most, only 4 1/2 hours of test results. According to my husband, I didn't even snore that night. Seeing the results should be interesting.

So those are the latest tests. Tomorrow is the big one. The bronchoscopy. This one will be done in hospital, and they're going to physically look into my bronchial tubes and, if necessary, my lungs.

This is the one I'm pinning my hopes on. If they can't find anything after physically looking into my lungs, I don't know what's left.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The sky is still falling! Seriously!

I haven't have much time to post lately, but I just couldn't resist throwing up a quick note about this story, from Times Online.

Arctic is melting even in winter.

Wow. Reading this article, you'd think it meant Arctic ice is actually going away right now, instead of increasing, as it does this time of year, every year.

Oh, hold on.

Sea ice area approaching the edge of normal standard deviation.

If you look at the graphs, you'll notice that this year, the sea ice had been increasing with amazing speed. Which is pretty much the opposite of what the Times article is claiming.

Now, how many people who read the Times article do you think will take the time to check if it's true?

Why would they even feel the need to do so?

Why should anyone have to?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The wonders of medical technology

I love technology. I really do! I still think we're overly dependent on it, but gosh, it's great stuff!

Thanks to my mystery cough, I'm getting to check out all sorts of neat stuff. Today's medical wonder was the CT scan.

This one was actually unexpected. I thought I already had a CT scan booked ... for tomorrow (meaning wednesday - I just noticed midnight has come and gone as I wrote this). Then I got a call yesterday to verify my appointment for today - not only in a different hospital, but in a different town! Not far to go, at least. Another day where I'm thankful we got a car. Getting there would've been a *lot* more difficult, expensive and time consuming.

Unfortunately, the girls weren't allowed to come in and see the stuff, nor was I allowed to take pictures. *sigh* ;-)

I gave myself plenty of time to get lost, so I got to the appointment nice and early. They even took me in right away, though in the end, that didn't matter much. I got to change into an oh-so-chic hospital gown and housecoat, then sit with the my girls in a waiting room. A few minutes there and I was taken in for a pair of Xrays - I wasn't expecting that part. Sadly, with it all done with computers these days, so there's no chance of getting a peek at the images anymore. The images get sent out immediately. Handy, but I sure did like getting a chance to see my own Xrays back when they had to check them physically.

When those were done, we got moved to another little waiting area down the hall, joining several other people in glamorous gowns and coats. A few minutes there and I got to sit at a desk and go over my history. Things like "have I ever worked around or been exposed to chemicals," and "have I ever had chest surgery." That one, my breast reduction counted. No chance of something going wrong there as being the cause, since I had that after I'd noticed the cough just wasn't going away.

After the paperwork part was done, I got to sit with the girls in the waiting area again, listing to some G0d-aweful soap opera on the tv. Thankfully, I was sitting directly under the tv, so I didn't have to be distracted by the images. Someone did pop on a short video explaining about the dye that's sometimes used during CT scans, explaining why it gets used, the potential risks, etc. Nice break from the tragedy of all these people trapped and dying or giving birth or bravely suffering horrendous injuries - all at the same time! - in the soap opera.

I truly don't understand how anyone can stand watching these. What's the appeal?

The wait was quite a bit longer this time. I got some good progress on the coat I'm now crocheting for Eldest. ;-)

I finally get called in, about a half hour later than I was booked for. Straight onto the table (with even a cushion under my knees, to make it more comfortable), hands over my head, and strapped in - just in case. A few minutes in the doughnut - breath in, hold your breath, breath normally, exhale, hold your breath, breath normally, all done.

Well, not quite that quickly, but pretty close. I did have a hard time with the breath holding part. With the inhale, I finally gave out just as I got the "breath normally" command, but with the exhale, I couldn't hold it that long. I thought I'd screwed it up for them, but I was told it was fine. The whole thing was over in less than 10 minutes.

Oh, I got a bit of a giggle after I was put in place on the slab and positioned in the scanner. As I look up, I can see a black ring or open area right in the middle. Above it is a tiny yellow sticker, upside down. Since I didn't have anything else to do at the moment, I worked out what it said.

It was a warning that lasers were being used, so don't look at them.


So I spent most of the time with either my eyes closed (I was all comfortable and relaxed, anyhow - could've gone for a nap! *L*), or looking at the panel readings at the front of the scanner.

I still have the appointment at another - local - hospital tomorrow. That one's for a pulmanory something-or-other, it turns out. I can't remember the exact name of it. The woman who answered when I called to verify said it so quickly, I just couldn't catch it right.

For this one, a car *isn't*of use. I'll be taking the train. Then thursday, I've got another appointment to pick up the machine to test me for sleep apnea - and spend about an hour going over some paperwookd I need to fill out, as well as being told how to use the machne - which I'll have to return before noon the next day.

Next week's not as busy, but I'd got the Big One in there. This is the one where I get things stuck down my trachea so they can look around. I'll be in twilight for this one, so I won't be in any shape to take myself home. My husband has already booked the day off so he can get me home safely.

There's still one more set of Xrays I need to book. I keep forgetting to call. :-P I'm just sooo looking forward to taking that barium again. It's not the worst thing in the world.

Hopefully, after all these tests are done, we'll have some sort of answer about this cough. Something. Anything! Even if there's nothing that can be done about it, just *knowing* what's causing it will be a help.

Meanwhile, I seem to have injured myself at work. I had only one shift last week. It wasn't a particularly difficult shift. I was with a new person tending a volunteers reception for the first couple of hours, which involved replacing the empty pizzas under the heat lamps as needed, then cleaning up plates and glasses when the volunteers stepped out to do the stuff they were there to do. After that, there was a bunch of us setting up for an event the next day. That was just making sure tables were in the right spots, with table clothes and skirts, then setting the tops up in preperation for buffets, coffee stations, etc. The heaviest things I lifted were stacks of side plates.

At the end of the shift, as I was leaving, I noticed my left elbow was sore. It didn't seem like a bit deal. I couldn't remember straining or twisting it in any way.

It's still sore now, and not doing well. This morning, while drinking from a glass I was holding in my left hand, I had to reach up and support it with my right because, once I lifted it past a certain point, I thought my elbow was going to give out on me! Not just because of pain - it's by no means the most painful thing I've ever felt - but because the elbow just didn't seem to be working right. I would've expected it to have improved by now, and it hasn't. I don't have another shift until friday night. If it's not better by then, it's going to cause problems at work.

What an irritation. :-/

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


To my fellow Canadians... have you voted yet?

Do you even know who you're going to vote for? Do you know what you're voting for?

After reading this article, I have sympathy for the folks at the polling stations.

I have been avoiding talking about the election. I've been disgusted by the antics displayed by most of the party leaders. Their various reps haven't been much better. I don't belong to any particular party, nor to I see myself ever agreeing with any one of them enough to do so.

I've never voted NDP. My disenchantment with them began before I was old enough to vote. Growing up in central Manitoba, the NDP were the party of choice where I lived. My family always voted NDP. Then one year, they won. Ed Brodbent was in. Everyone was so thrilled! Things were going to change for the better, we thought. Then the reality of an NDP government set in. They do enough damage provincially. I would never want them federally. Especially now, with "Taliban Jack" at the helm.

I'm pretty sure I've voted Liberal at some point. It would've been many years ago. Then we had the Chretien years, followed by Paul Martin. As if they weren't bad enough, now they've got Dion at the helm. Heaven help us if he ever gets into the PMO.

I used to vote Green, back when they were fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Now with May at the helm, they're just socialist. She's been a disaster for the party. Aside from her swollowing the AGW theme, hook line and sinker, at the expense of real environmental issues, her working relationship with Dion just muddies things even more. Vote strategically, even if it means voting Liberal! No, I didn't really mean that. Vote Green. Unless you vote Liberal. The Green Party itself has had to issue official statements to counter the crap she's been spewing.

So that leaves the Conservatives, but I don't like a lot of what they've been doing, either. I don't like how they've flipped on the AGW side of things after they got into office. They're plan to tackle "climate change" isn't any better than the Liberal Green Shift. There's a few other areas that I'm not happy with their performances.

Locally, I don't even had a fringe party I could vote for. It's just these four. So I look at the local individuals and wonder, which of these people would I want to represent me in Ottowa?

Unfortunately, that doesn't really make it any easier.

I voted anyways, and I hope it was a good choice. My husband still has no idea who he'll vote for. Last election, he finally just gave up and didn't vote at all.

Sometimes, I feel the same way.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to take a moment away from today's preparations to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. (For those of you visiting from the US, our Thanksgiving is on the second Monday of October.)

We have much to be thankful for, not the least of which is that tomorrow is election day - which means all the disgusting antics shown by our campaigning party leaders will finally be at an end! I can't imagine going through two years of this, like in the US!! I feel for you guys. Really, I do!

So today, I hope my fellow Canadians get to enjoy a lot of good food with family and friends, then go out and vote tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Testing, testing... more tests to come.

I had my appointment with a respiratory specialist yesterday. When I got the appointment, I was told it could take up to two hours. I found myself wondering what they heck was going to be done to me for two hours!

It turned out they meant I might have to *wait* up to two hours for my appointment. It's a very busy office, it turns out. My appointment was just a consultation.

One of the things the dr. did was go over past test results with me. I had some X-rays done and, as expected, everything came back normal. Whatever it is that's causing my cough, it doesn't show up on X-rays.

The X-rays had been quick and easy - I spent more time in the waiting room than getting the X-rays done, and I didn't have long to wait.

The breathing tests, on the other hand, were a lot less fun. I got to sit in this little glass booth and breath into a hose (while wearing a nose clip) in different ways. The hardest one was when the tech had to shut me in and had me do these short little puffs that made my cheeks go in and out. Part way through, she shut the air off, and I had to keep puffing, as if I were still breathing. Except I had no air. I was supposed to keep doing this until she told me to stop, and it was all I could do not to rip the mouthpiece off and gasp for air before she did.

Now, one of the things that triggers my cough is deep breathing, or anything that puts pressure on my breathing, like laughing and singing. Which means I normally tend to breath shallow now. It's something I don't even think about. During the test, I had to do a lot of deep breathing, holding the breath, exhaling as hard as I could for as long as I could - in other words, doing all sorts of things that trigger my cough. I even had to puff on an inhaler, just like the ones asthmatics use, which irritated things even more. By the end of the test, I would start coughing part way through the tests (right into the hose... ew). The tech started giving me longer and longer times between tests so I could recover.

So picture me going over the test results with the respiratory specialist. He starts off saying how everything was normal, except for two tests. These measured lung capacity. According to the tests, my lungs can hold less air than they should. He then told me it was because...

wait for it... can you guess?

... of "the obesity."

That's right. My lungs hold less air because I'm fat.

When I saw the number, I asked him if these two tests were done at the end or at the beginning of the series. He told me they were at the end. So I told him about how, by the end of the testing, I was coughing badly *because* of the test themselves. We'd already discussed what my cough was like, what the triggers were, etc.

He pretty much ignored me. He said something about how this was normal for people with obesity. Then moved on because my lung capacity has nothing to do with my coughing. Meanwhile, he listened to my lungs (nothing unusual there, either) and went over a few more thing.

Towards the end, he started dictating a letter to my GP, stopping along the way to ask me more questions, the answers to which he'd include in the letter.

I did have an eyebrow raising moment over one of his questions. He asked me if I ever found myself out of breath if I take "3 or 4 flights of stairs." I don't know *anyone* that doesn't get out of breath after taking 3 or 4 flights of stairs! Just as an example, at work we have to take a lot of stairs. Going from the staff area on the lowest level to the hall at the upper level, while being only 3 floors, means taking 5 sets of stairs. Pretty much everyone is at least a little out of breath just with those. Throw in walking about half a mile of hallways and another ...

... oops. I just realized, I miscounted. It's 5 flights of stairs between the middle and top floors. So counting the stairs between the middle and lowest level, it's 7 flights total.

Then there's the hallways in between. This is NOT a small complex, and the elevators are to be used with freight only.

Yeah, after all that, we're all out of breath. I do have a harder time than others, I admit that. My cardio sucks. With my damaged knees and feet, I avoid stairs as much as possible. Up isn't too bad, but down is often precarious. Never mind painful, too!

So when he asked about being out of breath after taking "3 or 4 flights of stairs," I told him yes, because I have bad knees and I'm not in as good shape as I should be, and that being out of breath does sometimes trigger the coughing (if I breath really shallow, I can sometimes prevent the coughing from starting - which makes it harder for me to get my breath back).

Unfortunately, with his earlier comment about "the obesity," I am now suspicious that he's going to blame my "bad knees" on my being fat. I never got a chance to tell him *why* my knees are bad. If he's blaming my low lung capacity on being fat, even though I was having coughing fits *during* the tests, and ALL other tests came back showing my lungs are normal, it's a pretty easy assumption to think he's blaming other things on my size, too.

In fact, I partly suspect that my size is why sleep apnea is one of the things I'm going to be tested for. When he started asking me questions about snoring, being tired during the day (sometimes yes, sometimes no), I told him that my husband has severe sleep apnea, so we are very much aware of apnea. I do snore - loudly - but I don't stop breathing. He wants a reading of my oxygen levels as I sleep, though. He did do a quick check with the machine on his desk - my oxygen levels were at 97%, which is where it should be. My heart rate was good, too, which I was a bit surprised by. While my blood pressure is usually normal, my heart rate tends to be high.

I'm really hoping I'm wrong about my suspicions, though.

Now we're on to the next step. All the usual suspects are rules out. No asthma, acid reflux, allergies, etc. can be blamed for my cough. Along with the apnea test, I'm going to have another special X-ray done, this time with barium (oh, joy. I had several barium X-rays done back in Manitoba. The fizzy one down the throat was must unpleasant). I'm going to get a CAT scan done eventually - whoever's doing the scan will contact me directly about that. Oh, and yes, they'll be looking into my lungs directly. I've got a date at a local hospital to have things stuck down my tracea. I've already asked my husband to book that day off work, as I'm going to be drugged up for that one and will need help getting home.

There's another test I'm not remembering. The nurse said she'd call me with an appointment when she had one for me. There were so many different tests, I've lost track, and I don't have paperwork for all of them.

Well, at least two of them are this month, and I can make the appointment for the barium X-rays whenever I want.

I sometimes wonder if all this is worth it. It's just a cough, right? It's not that much of a problem, is it? *sigh* I have to keep reminding myself that a cough that last years really ought to be taken seriously. Easy enough to remember when I'm having one of my bad spells, but not when it's just that little tickle behind my sternum - an annoyance, but not much more.

That and I really hate having to wonder if a doctor is taking me seriously or not because I'm fat.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

They were surprised by this??

I, for one, was expecting this.
Demand for Do-Not-Call-List overwhelms system
by the Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Thousands of Canadians hoping to put annoying telemarketers on permanent hold jammed a government website Tuesday, trying to register their numbers for the national Do-Not-Call List.

I found this part funny...

CRTC spokesperson Denis Carmel said as of 1:30 p.m., more than 223,000 people had register via online and telephone.

"It's way beyond anything we'd expected," he said.

"On the telephone side, more than one million people tried to access the system. It's clearly over any estimation we had done," he added.

"We'd no idea that it would be so successful on initial phase."

Is he serious? Unexpected?

My husband, darling that he is, registered us very early in the day, since he's up so early to do his work out before heading to his job. He'd sent me the link to the site yesterday. We were talking about it that evening, and we both were expecting the system to crash. I guess the CRTC just didn't realize how pissed off people are with these calls.

It's not to bad for us right now, but at one point we were getting up to 20 calls a day. Yes, twenty. We went from getting almost none at all, to that. What a pain!! Virtually all of them were recordings. It's why we got call display. We no longer answer any number we don't recognize, or anything that says "private number" or "unknown number." We also won't answer any of the 800# variations. The funny ones are when the display reads things like 123-456-7890 or 000-000-0000.

It took a while, but eventually the calls slowed down. Now we get about 2 or 3 a day. We don't answer. Our view is, if it's a legitimate call, a real person will be on the line, and they'll leave a message. If it's a recording, we don't even listen to it and delete it automatically. We frequently have messages with nothing but silence for a few seconds.

While I don't know anyone else that has been getting as many calls as we did for a while, this is a very common problem. I knew that, as soon as this became available, people would be eager to register. A system crash is no surprise to me at all!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Racism? What's your opinion?

I'd been finding stories referring to "racist" comments made by a Conservative MP, but it was a while before I started seeing articles that quoted the actual comments made. Here they are. You tell me - are these racist comments, or where they deliberately taken out of context and blown out of proportion?

"If you behave and you're sober and there's no problems and if you don't do a sit-down and whatever, I don't care," Lannigan said. "One of them showed up the other day and was drinking."

"Are you calling me an alcoholic?" asked Matchewan.

"I'm not calling you an alcoholic, no," Lannigan said. "It was just to say that you're in a federal office. If you're coming in to negotiate, I expect, there's decorum that has to be respected."

This is what I'm seeing, based on these quotes.

Lannigan, having had someone arrive drinking previously, specified for future contacts to be sober. Does race play a part in this? If someone shows up at a meeting I'm holding and they're drinking, I would consider it reasonable to insist that it doesn't happen again. What does race have to do with it? It just happens that the people involved are First Nations.

Then we have Matchewan asking, "Are you calling me an alcoholic?" Where did that come from? She was clearly referring to someone else who showed up drinking. Why does Matchewan jump to accusing her of calling him an alcoholic? Why is he internalizing her statement? Was he the one who showed up drinking? I don't get that impression, but I suppose it's possible.

Lannigan restates her position; "If you're coming in to negotiate, I expect, there's decorum that has to be respected." What's unreasonable about that?

Later on, Matchewan is quoted as saying:

"Our whole community feels insulted," he said. "We went there to try to talk to Mr. Cannon about issues we feel are important and he totally ignored us. And then to hear what Ms. Lannigan said, well, that was very insulting to me."
In fact, the title of the article I'm quoting from is Natives Insulted to the Core. Thing is, if race had never been mentioned, there's nothing in the comments made that would've made me think "native." There are plenty of idiots out there who drink at inappropriate times, and it isn't limited to any racial group. If the person who showed up drinking were from some other ethnic group, I don't doubt Lannigan would have made the same stipulation. Showing up for negotiations while drinking is just plain stupid, and stupidity is pretty universal.

Is it just me, or are these people going out of their way to be insulted? If they're going to be pissed at anyone, shouldn't it be the person who showed up previously while drinking? They're complaining that they're not being taken seriously. Gee, I wonder why? Maybe it's because some dufus showed up with a bottle! I'd be hard pressed to take anyone seriously if they did that. The fact that the others with him (her?) didn't do something to stop that person before hand is a reflection on them, too.

Or am I totally off base here?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Just moving on...

... 'cause life goes on.

Things have been "interesting" these days.

I went and got myself a new job, since I wasn't getting through to the office at the old job to even find out if any shifts were available. Half way through training, I decided this place wasn't where I wanted to work. At first, I was a little perturbed that a multi-billion dollar corporation would make their staff work with such an obsolete POS system. Then there was finding out that a strike is looming - and it's one of those times when I think a strike would actually be a good thing! The corporations proposal of an increase in the base pay would actually result in a pay cut for the majority of the staff. Meanwhile, as we spent time learning the various produce (some of which are pretty exotic), I came away not wanting to every buy produce there again, the stuff is handled so much. The kicker, though, as their lack of proceedure for a Code Adam, the missing child alert. They don't take it seriously at all. Anyone deciding to abduct a child in one of these stores would have an easy time getting away. :-(

Then, just to make my decision easier, I finally got through to the banquet office and now have shifts again in the other job. Just two so far, but two shifts in this place is more pay than 3 shifts in the other.

Meanwhile, Dh has been having struggles. First, it was side effects from one of the new meds he's taking. The morning medication, too, which made him so sick he ended up missing a lot of work. That seems to be straightening out - or he's simply stopped telling me about it and working through it, which is certainly possible. Then his back went out again. Badly. The poor guy could barely walk or stand up straight, and is in so much pain. He's still hobbling about with a cane. The frustrating thing is that there's really nothing he can do about it, other than pop painkillers. OTC painkillers, since the prescription ones wipe him out completely and make him sleep all day. It's not an injury that can be repaired surgically, and it just won't heal. So he suffers through it as best he can.

On it goes.

Last night, I rediscovered why I'm glad we don't get any tv. Youngest and I went to the public lounge to work on our crochet while watching The Food Network. When we got there, a guy was watching CNN. So for the next hour or so, for the first time, I watched election stuff on tv. What a farce! I think it was Larry King Live, and it was on a Palin theme. More like a Palin bashing festival. He had this weird woman (Joy?) that was spewing the most sexist drivel I've ever heard. I couldn't believe what I was hearing! Then some panels of people were brought on - one of them was 4 more women. I think it was supposed to be a mix of both pro- and anti-Palin, but I really couldn't tell which was which. Not only did the sexist diatribe continue (while at the same time calling Palin anti-feminist, the irony of which seemed to escape everyone), but they twisted things completely out of context. Incredible BS.

What I found interesting was when I started chatting with the guy who was watching this. He was clearly an Obama supporter and didn't like Palin. According to him, this is the first time the news has been showing anti-Palin sentiment, and that until now, it was all Palin-worship. I found this a bit of a surprise, since in my daily news perusals, I've seen the opposite.

Youngest and I ended up leaving earlier than I intended - I wasn't going to get to watch my Iron Chef America anyways ;-) - and I came away glad we don't have this drivel accessible at home. What I'm reading online is bad enough.

On the Canadian front, there's a lot of noise about the Green Party being shut out of the leadership debate. I've thought the Green Party should've been part of the debates back when I used to actually vote for them. Normally, I'd still think so, but with the arrangement May worked out the the Liberals, I agree that it would not be appropriate for her to be there. I am a bit surprised that Layton and Duceppe both refused to take part in the debate if she were there. If anyone doesn't belong there, it's Duceppe, since he only represents Quebec. May can blame the "old boys club" all she wants, but in the end, its her own fault she isn't there for shackling her party so closely with the Liberals.

*sigh* I hate politics.

update: Well, that didn't take long. I barely finished posting this when I saw a new headline. Layton has apparently changed his mind on May.

update: May is in! Personally, I think the Conservatives have a point in saying that having her there is like having two Liberal candidates, but at the same time I am glad to see the Green Party is represented, rather than being shut out due to May's own manipulations.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Glass ceiling?

I haven't been following US politics deliberately, but with my daily practice of going through the news every morning, I can't help but read at least a little. I don't envy those of you in the US, with having to choose between McCain and Obama. (Not that I feel much better about our own choices, should we find ourselves with an election this fall.)

McCain's choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, however caught my attention. She's pretty much the only US governor I can actually say I know anything about. I've read articles and interviews about her in my perusal of global warming stories. She came across, to me, as someone with a good head on her shoulders, and a strong backbone. With her to balance some of McCain's bandwagon hopping, I felt this was a great improvement.

Imagine my surprise, then, to read the headlines the next day. The very first general news site I visit had a headline describing Palin as an "Ex-beauty Queen." WTF??? What does that have to do with anything? The story didn't mention it again, it was only in the headline. Why was it there at all? Seriously - who cares?

Apparently, a lot of people. Silly me.

Before long, more stories cropped up, this time going on about her pro-life stance, and the fact that she's religious and goes to church regularly. Clearly, these articles were meant to somehow make her seem scary.

It was bad enough reading about all the woman that supposedly dream about Obama. My husband told me that, on one of his online martial arts groups, there's an active discussion over who the group's members would rather sleep with - Palin or Michelle Obama. Even otherwise sane commenters on blogs I visit regularly had people making comments about her attractiveness, as if it had any bearing on her ability to be VP of the US. As least they weren't crude about it, as in other places.

In various speeches, comments were made about cracking the glass ceiling for women. So long as crap like this goes on, we've got a long way to go. It's friggin' disgusting.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm a bit confused...

The news is still filled with stories about the meat recalls due to listeria, a very common bacteria. Maple Leaf Foods chose to recall all 200+ of their products, even though listeria was only found in 23 of them, and shut down the plant that the tainted meat had come from.

Fair enough.

Now, here's what I don't understand. I keep seeing things like polls asking questions along the lines of "will you stop eating meat" or comments from pretentious vegetarians saying "see - meat is dangerous, everyone should go veg, nya-nya-nya" and so on.

Why on earth would tainted products showing up in packaged deli meat be a reason to stop eating meat? For starters listeria is found all over the place, including fruits and veggies (especially organic ones, as they are more likely to use manure for fertilizer), soft cheeses, dairy products, seafood, water, soil, etc. So going vegetarian won't reduce the risk of contacting listeria. However, as far as I can tell, it's only the packaged meats - deli meats in particular - that are a problem. I stopped buying packaged deli meats years ago because I found they spoiled almost as soon as the package was opened (and no, it wasn't just Maple Leaf brand, but all brands). Once in a rare while, I'll buy some packaged bacon or maybe some sausage. The packaged meat I'd buy most frequently was hot dogs, and that's still a fairly rare treat, too. If I did buy deli meat, I got it at the deli. Not only was the meat fresher and I could get exactly how much I wanted, I found it a lot cheaper.

None of these things do I currently have in my home, by the way, and I haven't for quite some time. I buy fresh meat and freeze it at home, or sometimes already frozen meats. None of which is effected by the recall.

So why are so many people talking about cutting out meat completely because of this? I mean, if you want to go veg, go ahead, but don't delude yourself into thinking you'll be safe from listeria for it! Especially if you eat any of your fruits and veggies raw.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I never would have thought of this...

... but now that it's been brought up, it does make sense.

Wind farms are already known to be a danger to birds because they fly into the blades. Now we know that the drop in air pressure caused by the blades kill bats by causing the blood vessels in their lungs to burst!

Study find wind turbines can kill bats without touching them.

Canadian researchers have found wind turbines can kill bats without them actually flying into the blades.

Scientists at the University of Calgary have discovered that bats can die from a lowering in the air pressure close to the blades of the turbines which causes fatal damage to the bats' lungs. A similar condition is called the bends in humans and can occur during ascents and descents by divers and airline passengers.

"As a turbine blade goes around, it creates lift—like an airplane's wings—and there is a small zone of [dropping] pressure, maybe a meter or so in diameter, on the tips of the blades," explained Erin Baerwald, a doctoral candidate at the University of Calgary, in Alberta, who led the research.

"Bats fly through this area, and their lungs expand, and the fine capillaries around the edges of the lungs burst," Baerwald said to the National Geographic.

Alberta wind farms prove deadly for bats.

Air pressure changes caused by wind farms are killing large numbers of bats, say biologists who are studying the tiny corpses falling out of the sky near turbines in southern Alberta.

They say the bats' lungs over-inflate as air pressure drops near the fast-spinning turbines bursting blood vessels and capillaries.

"Their lungs fill with fluid and they can no longer breathe," says Erin Baerwald, of the University of Calgary, lead author of a report on the bat deaths released Monday by the journal Current Biology.

What a horrible way to die. :-(

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Book Review: The Whole Soy Story Part two - the review

Part One here.

The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food
Author: Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN

Part Two

The book is highly detailed, somewhat technical, but very accessible to the layman. Dr. Daniel doesn’t dumb the subject down for readers, but simply explains what things are and what they do, clearly assuming the reader is intelligent enough to understand her descriptions and follow along. Throughout the book are also text boxes of extra information, ranging from research data and quotes to stories recounted by individuals describing things that happened to themselves or their children.

Reading this book has certainly been an eye opening experience. Several times, I’d find myself going from the book to my cupboards or fridge. I had always assumed that the soy sauce we used was fermented soy sauce – how else is soy sauce made? – only to discover that it wasn’t. We are not a soy eating family, yet we found that we’ve actually been eating quite a lot of products with soy or soy derivatives.

I was also greatly surprised at the many things associated with soy products. It was no surprise to learn that soy estrogens had negative effects on males, but the effects on both males and females of all ages was greater than I expected. To read about connections between soy and ADD/ADHD, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, both hyper- and hypo-thyroidism, precocious puberty in girls, disrupted sexual development in boys, and a long list of other health problems were frequent light bulb moments. I kept seeing parallels between what I was reading in The Whole Soy Story and information I was reading elsewhere.

Just as one example, there’s the “obesity epidemic.” There are all sorts of people lamenting how kids today are so fat, and it’s because they’re lazy, screen-addicted, junk food eating brats too slothful to get their butts outside to run around or play sports. Or, it’s because their parents are too stupid to feed them properly, and too inept to get their lazy kids off the couch and outside to play, driving them everywhere, etc. Never mind that study after study has shown that larger kids are no less active than thin kids, and that their diets are no different. A particular description of kids today that kept popping into my mind was of boys who are so fat, they have breasts. Meanwhile, I find myself reading of how soy estrogens affect children, including weight gain and the development of breasts in boys!

At this point, I want to add some personal parallels in our own lives. Dh has been struggling with his health for many years, though things are greatly improved with the treatment of his sleep apnea. Recently, however, he had been having an increase in troubles that led to him missing quite a lot of work and generally having a really hard time of things. As I was reading the book, I kept finding symptoms described that matched what my husband was going through. We are not a soy eating family, so a connection seemed far fetched, until we started looking more closely at ingredient lists and discovering just how much soy we have been unknowingly eating. My husband, meanwhile, went to the doctor who wrote him up for some very extensive blood work. When the results came in, one of the first things the doctor told my husband to do was cut out soy products. He then gave my husband a number of prescriptions to hopefully get his body functioning normally again. My husband developed an intolerance for dairy products late in life – somewhere around his early 30’s or so. Now it seems that he’s developed an intolerance for soy as well, even if it’s just in the form of additives to food.

After reading this book, I feel that even if soy were only half as destructive as the author claims, it should be banned as a food. I was especially alarmed by the effects of soy on infants, ranging from 9 month old baby girls going through puberty, to boys being born with deformities of the sexual organs.

While we ourselves have never been soy eaters, I know a lot of people who eat quite a lot of it. While fermented soy products such as miso and tempeh remain “safe” foods in my mind, at least in small amounts, I find myself wondering about my friends who eat soy products and how it might be affecting them. I know people who are vegetarian and vegan, both for health and for philosophical reasons, who eat a lot of soy. I know people who have issues with dairy who use soy to replace dairy products. Some eat soy simply because they can’t afford to buy a lot of meat, and soy is a cheap, supposedly healthy, source of protein. Mostly, though, the people I know who eat a lot of soy do so because they are trying to cut down on meat, and believe they are choosing a healthy alternative, or that they are being better for the environment by cutting back on meat and dairy, while meeting their protein needs through soy. If even the relatively small amounts of soy additives that we are eating can have such an effect on my husband, what might be happening to my friends and acquaintances that are eating so much more?

My biggest concern while reading this book is the effects of soy on children, infants and the developing foetus. I was also noting many correlations between the effects of soy on the body, and health problems that are being blamed on things such as growth hormones in beef, dairy products, high fructose corn syrup, plastics, etc. – claims that in-depth studies frequently do not substantiate. Many of the foods that would have these substances would also have soy additives. Could it be that the health problems being blamed on these substances are actually caused by soy? After reading this book, I strongly suspect this to be likely.

I should make a point of noting that not everything in the book is anti-soy. The author does mention several potentially beneficial chemicals in soy, as pharmaceutical products. These benefits would not be accessible through diet, as these potentially beneficial chemicals would have to be isolated from the many deleterious chemicals. If research results are controversial or ambivalent, she'll say as much, without automatically ruling against soy.

There are a few passing items in the book I didn’t necessarily agree with, such as comments about plastics, GM foods, etc., but these are so briefly mentioned in the book, there’s not as much to go on. In many other areas, the book confirms information, not necessarily soy-related, that I’ve encountered elsewhere. This book will probably not be popular with those who choose a meatless diet for philosophical reasons. While the author does not promote meat eating in any way, neither does she say "meat is bad," which matches the belief systems of a lot of people who eat a lot of soy as a meat alternative. The author does state that, because of their tendency to eat so many more soy products, vegans and vegetarians are at greater risk for soy-related damage, but she does not attack their dietary choices at all. Some may not see it that way. In fact, in an online search, the only review about this book that was negative (about six pages into my search) was written by an ‘ecology” website writer.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book. More than that, I feel that the information in this book is important, and should be more common knowledge. As I mentioned before, even if the author were exaggerating the dangers of soy (which, based on the obvious amount of research that's been done and referenced, is not an issue), that would still make non-fermented soy something that shouldn’t even be in the food chain at all, and fermented soy only in very small amounts.

Back to Part One

Book Review: The Whole Soy Story Part One: an overview

My review of this book ended up being quite long, so I'm splitting it up into two parts. This post will be an overview of the book itself, with my opinions of it in the next post.

The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food
Author: Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN

Copyright 2005
Introduction by Sally Falon, President, The Weston A. Price Foundation

Before I start this review, I wanted to write a bit about what I knew – or thought I knew – about soy before I started reading this book.

First off, I knew that soy beans were toxic. This, in itself, is not that unusual. Plants need to protect and propogate themselves and, since they can’t get up and run away, they often do so chemically. The plants we eat are filled with chemical pesticides and potential toxins, including carcinogens. While these may be enough to protect them from insects, or their seeds from premature germination, etc., they are often harmless to humans. At least from a practical perspective; the amounts of cabbage or broccoli we’d have to eat for these chemicals to be ingested in harmful quantities are so great, we’d make ourselves sick just trying to eat that much. Other toxins are easily neutralized by cooking, while some require greater processing for them to be safe for human consumption. Some, of course, are simply poisonous to humans.

Soy is one of those plants that I knew required greater processing for safe human consumption. I knew that fermented soy products such as soy sauce were safe, even beneficial, for consumption. I also knew that soy products, such as tofu were, of concern as the processing wasn’t enough to render the product completely safe. Of particular concern to me were the phyto-estrogens. I was under the belief (which I now know to be wrong) that fermented soy products did not have the phyto-estrogens that non-fermented products, such as tofu, had. In looking at phyto-estrogens, I had already come to believe at non-fermented soy products should be avoided by males of all ages, and by pre-pubescent girls.

I was also aware that Asian cultures historically did not actually eat as much soy as has been claimed. I understood that, for the most part, tofu was basically poverty food, eaten when people had little choice. Even as tofu became more acceptable as a food, it still wasn’t eaten as much as we’ve been lead to believe - at least not until fairly recently.

That is about the extent of what I knew about soy products before reading this books.

So, on to the review.

First, a bit about the author.

The author has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and Anti-Aging Therapies from the Union institute and University in Cincinnati. She’s a certified clinical nutritionist, and “The Whole Nutritionist” (registered trademark). She has a site at The Whole Soy Story. The site includes free excerpts from the book.

An interview with Dr. Daniel is available here.

Another interview is here.

The author is very clear that she not only does not see soy food as a health food, but that she does not believe it to be safe at all. She proceeds to very thoroughly make her case throughout the book.

The book is divided into parts. They are: A Short History of Soy (three chapters), Types of Soy (nine chapters), Macronutrients in Soy (three chapters), Anti-nutrients in Soy (five chapters), Heavy Metals (three chapters), Soy Allergens: Shock of the New (two chapters), and Soy Estrogens: Hormone Havoc (five chapters). Each chapter is littered with reference numbers leading readers to the end notes. Here, we have 44 ½ pages of references in a tiny font – I was tempted to find a magnifying glass to make them easier to read! Most importantly, the references are quite detailed and useful, with each chapter having its own section. If you want to follow up any of her claims, it would be easy to find her sources yourself.

The author begins Part One with discussing the role soy played in Asian cultures, beginning with how it came to be included among
China’s “Five Sacred Grains” (soy is actually a legume, and was planted as a nitrogen-rich green manure to be tilled back into the soil, not eaten). It discusses the first fermented soy products (such as chiang in China, an early variant of the Japanese miso), and the development of tofu. Among the interesting details the author describes is how tofu (Meat without a Bone) was eaten the most by celibate, vegetarian Buddhist monks, as they recognized that tofu reduced libido. In chronicling soy’s introduction to the West, it was interesting to read that Henry Ford was a great supporter of soy products, industrially. He apparently believed soy plastics were the “material of the future” for everything from car bodies to refrigerators. He even made a public appearance wearing a suit made of soybean fibre cloth. A suit which turned out to be “itchy when dry, smelled like a wet dog when damp, and was so prone to ripping that he could not bend over or cross his legs.” Interestingly, several days after I finished reading this book, I was talking to a knitting friend who described her experience with soy fiber yarn. I’ve been tempted to try the yarns myself, but I’ve been looking to make items that will be worn, and I felt the texture was too scratchy for the purpose. After hearing her experience with the yarns, I’m glad I didn’t waste my money.

As the history of soy is chronicled, the author shows how soy products have come full circle, beginning with soy first being used in the East, imported to the West, Western usage far exceeding Eastern usage, and now being imported from the West, with Eastern usage of soy as a food increasing to levels today that it has never enjoyed in the past.

In Part Two, the author discusses original types of soy, the “Good Old Soys” (early fermented soy products) and the various incarnations of soy developed over the centuries and in modern times. This section is of particular interest when it comes to the differences in how soy products are procured today, vs. the old, time consuming methods of the past, and the use of things like solvents, high heat and pressure to shorten production time and separate compounds.

Part Three deals with proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The author explains why these macronutrients are important, how they are used by the body, and how soy sources of these macronutrients differ from those in other foods.

Part Four dives deeper into the anti-nutrients of soybeans, what the soy industry is doing to get around them, and how successful (or not) they’ve been. Here, the reader learns how the various chemicals in soy, such as protease inhibitors, phytates and saponins, affect the body.

Part Five deals with metals, with special attention to manganese, fluoride and aluminum toxicity. The author describes how soy chemicals often prevent the absorption of necessary trace minerals such as zinc, while enhancing absorption of other metals, and how those metals (or lack of them) affect our bodies. She particularly discusses in the effects between adults and infants or children.

Part Six discusses soy allergies, showing how those allergic to milk are more likely to develop allergies to soy – ironic, considering how soy is often given as an alternative to dairy for those who are allergic. She also discusses the difficulty in identifying products that contain soy, since it is often used as filler in foods like ground meats, or soy additives are found in so many products.

Finally, in Part Seven, the author discusses phyto-estrogens. More specifically, she discusses the effects of these estrogens on the thyroid, the reproductive system, and its role in cancer, both as potential cause and potential cure.

See part two for the rest of the review.