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.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's that time of year again...

Around the world today, people are once again celebrating Lenin's birthday by taking part in Earth Hour. As I write this, a number of countries have already taken part, turning off their lights and whatnot. Locally, there are events planned, put on by the city, that involve a bonfire and giving away free hot chocolate, face painting and live performances.

Whatever makes people feel better, I suppose. I just wish my taxes weren't being used to pay for it.

Personally, I prefer the slightly tongue in cheek Human Achievement Hour. I would much rather celebrate and be thankful for the great things humans have done to make life better, safer, longer, healthier, and just plan more enjoyable for millions of people around the world.

By the time the hour rolls around in our time zone, I expect the family and I will have just finished a late supper, and will most likely be sitting in the living room, enjoying a movie together, while I crochet a holder for our plastic grocery bags.

Not about rights or free speech

So I've been reading all the hullabaloo about that Galloway character in the news. He's a really bizarre British MP that wanted to enter Canada to make a speech. Canada barred him from entering. He then had a tempter tantrum, saying this was against his "rights," and is threatening to sue Canada for defamation. He and his supporters are also making a big deal about how barring him is somehow a blow to free speech.

Well, here's my thoughts on it.

No one has any "right" to enter a country they are not a citizen of, just because they want to. None. Nadda. Zip. Doesn't matter if it's for a job, to make a speech, or for a holiday. It could even be for charitable or humanitarian purposes. It doesn't matter. Any country has every right to bar any non-citizen they please, for whatever reason they please. Full stop. Whether or not we agree with the reasons is besides the point. Canada doesn't have to let in anyone and everyone who tries to enter, can bar anyone that attempts to enter, and often does. If anything, I think Canada should to it more often. Far too many unsavoury types are being allowed in as it is, including people far more offensive and harmful than Galloway.

It's not a rights issue.

It's also not about free speech. No one is telling him to stop spouting his idiocies. So he can't come into Canada and give his speech in person - so what? With the communications technology we have today, he can send a video or audio, or do a live video speech. It can even be interactive. So long as the organizers for the event he was supposed to speak at are willing to spend the money and take the time to set it up. If they're not... tough patooties for Galloway. Being barred from Canada doesn't stop him from saying what he wants to say.

It's not a free speech issue.

So if it's not about rights, and it's not about free speech, what is it?

Looks to me like a loudmouth bully who's upset he didn't get his way, and is making as much noise and controversy as he can. He's milking this for all he's worth. Too bad Canada inadvertently gave him a platform to do so.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Norman Borlaug

It's a day late, but I wanted to extend well wishes to a great man. Norman Borlaug turned 95 yesterday, and as far as I know, he's barely slowing down.

A billion people owe their lives to this man, and the world owes him thanks and grattitude for his achievements.

About Norman E. Borlaug


an interview


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stunning ignorance: updated

If anyone has any doubt why so many Canadians are anti-American, here is a prime example.

If it weren't for the fact that I have some dear friends in the US that *aren't* arrogant assholes, I know I'd most likely be stereotyping Americans because of this.


Update: Well, the fall out to this has been pretty interesting. There's been an apology, of sorts.

"However, I realize that my words may have been misunderstood," Gutfeld said in a statement released by Fox News.

"It was not my intent to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military, and for that I apologize.

"Red Eye is a satirical take on the news, in which all topics are addressed in a lighthearted, humorous and ridiculous manner."

Misunderstood? Just how stupid does this guy think people are? What they said was pretty clear.

And yes, we all know it was supposed to be a joke, but guess what? It didn't work. This went well beyond the bounds of "lighthearted" satire. It was rude, crude and insulting. Excusing it as a joke doesn't change that. They screwed up, and any "apology" that tries to justify itself by saying things "may have been misunderstood," is no apology at all.

Canadians aren't the only ones who found it offensive, so I while I was unsurprised to read this story, I was also very appreciative.

"I don't need to remind Canadians of the actual facts, but Canadians are fighting extremely hard in perhaps the most dangerous part of Afghanistan," said Michael O'Hanlon, a specialist on U.S. national security policy and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

"And in addition to having suffered such severe losses, they are also to my mind the No. 1 ally most admired by American commanders when I hear them speak off the record about counter-insurgency application, military heroism and general combat skills."

Based on stories I've heard elsewhere, our US allies often appreciate our soldiers more than our own government does.

Another update: As insulting as this segment was, I have to say I'm disappointed in some of the reactions to this show. I certainly understand people feeling angry, and I have no issues with people vocally expressing why they're upset, but there's no excuse for threats. None. The one guy that actually gave a genuine apology had to cancel a performance in Edmonton because of the threats he was recieving. This is completely unacceptable.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No choice?

Just catching this story from the Canadian Press.

Canada forced to link climate change, polar bears.

Canada is conceding that a treaty on polar bears signed 35 years ago is now forcing it into action on climate change.


The agreement calls for an urgent and effective response to address climate change.

The article doesn't name this agreement signed 35 years ago, but I find it interesting that Canada is being "forced" by this mystery agreement to act on climate change.

Thirty five years ago, polar bear populations were indeed in decline. Changes were made to limit hunting, and the total population has increased by 500%. This in spite of roughly 30 years of warming, which in turn followed about 30 years of cooling.

So even though polar bear populations have increased dramaticly simply by restricting hunting, even though most of the populations are currently either stable or growing; even though the local Inuit populations are actually having problems because there are too many polar bears, Canada is being forced to "act" on climate change to protect them? All this based on an agreement signed when circumstances for polar bears were considerably more dire than they are now?

Oh, and there's this little gem.

Canada has also agreed that industrial development in polar bear habitat must be carefully monitored and controlled.

Well, duh! They make it sound like Canada wasn't intending to do that in the first place.

I'd like to know more about this agreement, but the article doesn't even name it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


When I read my morning news, I was going to post a comment on a particular article, but someone else has already said pretty much everything I wanted to say.

Gary Goodyear and the Anti-Faith Brigade

All I wanted to add was this question...

If people are asking him if he (or anyone else) "believes" in evolution, aren't they asking a faith based question? Therefore, doesn't that put it into the realm of religion?


Monty Python's spam skit is stuck in my head.

This morning, I opened my email to 119 messages. About 110 of those were spam.

I have to admit that some of it is probably my own fault. I signed up with some survey companies. While I don't think Angus Reid or Ipsos have a lot to do with it, some of the others might. A lot of the spam I getting is product promotions, or gift card promos ("get this [store name] gift card by signing up for 5 different products!!!" Yeah, sure... I'll spend $200 for a $50 gift card). Huge amounts of acia berry/weight loss spam. Then there's the "get out of debt" and "get your degree online" spam. The odd "lonely wives" spam makes its way through.

The frustrating thing is that you can't even opt out of these, because if you use the "unsubscribe" links on the bottom of a lot of these, all you're doing is verifying that your email address is actually a good one, and your spam will increase.

Why I got this sudden burst of spam today, I have no idea.

Oh, look - another 5 spam out of 6 emails. I checked my email just before I started this post, so that's in less than 5 minutes since I cleared my inbox.

Gee, I wonder if I should become a CSI investigator or take a short term loan?

I think not.

Now, if I could just get that song out of my head...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's C-c-c-c-old in here!

In the roughly 3 1/2 years we've been living in our current city, Dh has taken part in what seems to be a popular game with government offices. It's a bit like musical chairs, except it's musical office space. I've lost track of how many times he's had to move to new office space.

Sometimes it's just from one floor to another. Sometimes his entire team will move together. Other times, part of his team will be on one floor while the rest are on another - or even in a different building. He's been through several of these moves, with the most recent one being to another building, right next to the one he'd just left.

These have all been with government contracts of one type or another. So he's been working on government contracts in civilian offices, as well as contracts worked in government owned offices, specific to the department he's contracted to.

One of the things in common with a lot of these facilities is that they are all variants of "green" buildings. In his last office building, this included things like lights that shut off if there hasn't been any motion within a certain length of time - a problem for people at the far end of the office, who didn't fall into the sensors' area. The lights are turned off automatically, but turned on manually. Of course, the on switch is at the main entry. With few sources of natural light, it became so dark as to be a safety risk. So much so, my husband bought LED night lights that automatically turn on when it gets dark. That way the hall was lit enough for people to go through without walking into things.

Another commonality for these buildings involves temperature control, like in the building he's in now. The entire building would have the temperatures set based on season. In the winter, the heat would be on. In the summer, the AC would kick in.

The problem starts at times like right now. It's the beginning of March, and for this time of year, the "normal" temperature is usually as warm as +2C (-9F) during the day.

Today, it was hovering in the -25C (-16F) range. That's before windchill, which hit -35C (-31F).

Which means the building wasn't being heated properly. Apparently, manually changing the temperature is rather convoluted, so no one was willing to do it. Especially since it's supposed to warm up a few days from now.

My husband and I keep in touch through MSN throughout the day. At one point, he told me that he'd just put his winter coat on because of the cold, and was seriously thinking of digging out his earbuds (like earmuffs, but designed to go around the back of the head, instead of across the top) and scarf. He'd long since put his winter boots back on, and his toes were still freezing. It certainly wasn't helping the cold that he's still fighting off from last week. And it's not like he was wearing a skimpy fabric dress shirt or something. Dress is pretty casual where he works, so he was wearing a thick, long sleeved polo-type shirt. This is a guy that has a very high tolerance for cooler temperatures, too. Usually, he's quite comfortable in temperatures that have me shivering, or seriously overheating in temperatures I find comfortable. So for him to be at the point of having to bundle up, things had to be seriously cold!

When they had first seen the office space he's in now a few weeks back, in preparation for their move (yes, he moved offices at the same time we were preparing to move into a new home), the office space was so hot, he was sweating just in the short time they were there. You see, a few weeks ago, local temperatures were somewhat warmer than average.

Somehow, this is supposed to be a more efficient system. Because heaven forbid, people might actually adjust the thermostat to match current conditions.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Still alive!

(yet another attempt to finish this post!)

Yes, after all this time, I'm still around. *L* I can't believe we've been here a week, and I still haven't posted this!

The move took place over three grueling days. We got the key later than expected, as the renovations took longer than usual. It ended up costing them about $11,000 to get it all done, and the co-op is going to be taking the previous resident to court over the damage she left behind.

The first day, we had the move in inspection. I really liked how the pale green walls turned out, and can live with the carpet and flooring. (Eldest has already submitted a request to the maintenance committee with paint samples to do her room in something other than white. I believe Youngest has a colour choice in there, too. This is entirely on their own incentive.) They did a great job with the renovations.

The girls and I made several trips hauling boxes - as much as we could fit into the car - right after the inspection. Then we continued packing again, which we'd had to stop for lack of space.

The second day, we rented a truck and moved furniture. Thankfully, Dh was able to get the day off. I can't say enough how much I appreciate my big, strong, burly husband! He was truly amazing! Yeah, the girls and I busted our butts, too, but nothing like he was able to do! I couldn't believe it when he simply picked up Eldest's antique pedal push sewing machine and walked it up the front steps. Those things are friggin' heavy! And he was in so much pain, too. By the end of the day, he could barely stand up straight, and was using a cane because of his knees.

Renting the truck was an adventure in itself. We had the elevator booked from 2-4 in the afternoon, but were set to pick up the truck at U-haul at noon. All we wanted was a 10 footer. It's a good thing we went to pick it up so early! First, they couldn't find a key for the truck that had been reserved for us. Then, they were going to replace it with a 27 footer. !!! I don't know that a truck that big would even fit where we needed to park to unload. In the end, it wasn't an issue, as the guy dealing with us was over ruled and couldn't give us a bigger truck. Instead, he had to get the one 10 ft truck they had left. The reason it was still there? It was stuck. It took him a good 10 minutes, at least, to get it out.

Dh and Eldest went in the truck while Youngest and I drove back in the car. In fact, Youngest and I never even saw the interior of the truck cab at all. *L* Dh found it a horrible ride - very rough - and the thing was so old, the speedometer was in miles per hour. Canada converted to the metric system over several years in the late 1970's.

Oh, and we were extra glad what I'd bought a dolly (though we used it converted to a hand truck most of the time). When we reserved the truck, we'd asked for 2 dollies. When we told them we didn't need them after all, we were told "good - because we don't have any." :-/ From the looks of theirs, the one we bought for ourselves was much better, anyhow.

We were actually able to get the elevator a half hour early, and boy did we need it! The "freight" elevator is no bigger than any of the other elevators. The only difference is that it has a back door. Since we also needed room for two people, with one being able to reach the buttons, not a whole lot could be taken down at one time. (And just to make things even more "fun," one of the elevators was still in the process of being replaced - which left only 1 elevator to service 19 floors.)

It took us two loads to get the furniture out. We barely made it within the time we had the elevator booked for. Someone else was moving in and had it booked after us, and they were already backing their truck into the loading area when we came back for the second load. At that point, we were just grabbing and throwing together everything we could, as quickly as we could.

The second load was small, but it had the biggest, heaviest piece of furniture we've got: a desk. It's designed to be useable from both sides, so it's wider than most desks, and is solid hardwood. It was a real monster to get up those stairs on the dolly!

As soon as we unloaded the truck, we rushed to return it, glad to be rid of it. Then we took a supper break before getting back to work - though we had to drop Dh off at the new place, as he was in no condition to continue.

Why it is that, no matter how much you pack, there always seems to be more? And it's those little things that make it the hardest.

The girls were such an incredible help. Eldest, who was in pretty rough shape herself, having been helping her father the most with the loading and unloading of the truck (all that weight lifting she and Dh had been doing for the past few months sure came in handy!), helped me clear out rooms while Youngest started cleaning rooms as they emptied. She actually likes cleaning, so that worked out.

We finally gave up for the night, as we were just too sore and tired. We made sure we had things set up enough to sleep on, and that was it. Thanks to Dh being very insistent, we no longer had a move-out inspection the next morning. Instead, we had the entire day to finish up and clean.

It all took a lot longer than expected, again mostly because everyone was so sore. Actually, Youngest was the only one of us that was ok. *L* Dh couldn't manage to come with us at all until much later - he had to really watch himself, because the last thing he wanted was to hurt himself so badly, he couldn't go to work. Not that it ended up making a difference, but more on that later.

The girls and I managed for a while, but Eldest finally had to stop. As things got later, I ended up coming back on my own to do that last few things. I was about 3/4 done vacuuming the living room when I discovered our vacuum cleaner was badly clogged, and I couldn't fix it. (It ended up having to be partially dismantled). After fighting with it for a while, I gave in. I did a bit more wiping down, packed up the fridge and freezer stuff, and headed out. It was past midnight by the time I left, and I was feeling pretty bad about not being able to finish cleaning properly - though I admit I was too tired to be too guilty about it.

My night wasn't over yet, though. We'd been eating out for the past several days, and were all craving home cooked food. Since we hadn't done any shopping to avoid having a lot of food to move, we didn't have even the basics to make a breakfast. So I headed over to a 24 hour Walmart before heading home, so we could at least have breakfast. By the time I got home, it was coming up on 4 am.

In the morning, Dh and Eldest went back to the apartment for the move-out inspection. There was no way I was going to make it in! I asked Dh to send my apologies for the state of the apartment, but it turned out to be unnecessary. They were actually very happy over how much we'd done. They were going to steam clean the carpets and paint the walls anyways, so not doing those was ok. As for the deep cleaning in other areas, it was just going to come off our damage deposit. We figure we might get about 1/3 of it back, but based on past experience, we're not counting on it.

So by Sunday afternoon, we were completely free and clear of the apartment! The move was officially done.

Now we have the fun part of trying to figure out how to unpack everything. Although we have more space, the layout is different enough that some things just don't have places anymore. Plus we'll need to get furniture we were able to get away with not having, like dressers, now that we no longer have walk-in storage rooms with shelving in our bedrooms. Little by little, though, things are being unpacked.

Dh had recovered rather well physically, having been so careful in regards to his back and knee problems. Unfortunately, he still ended up missing work. He'd made it in on the Monday, but by Tuesday, he'd come down with a vicious cold. Three days later, it was even worse! When he called in sick for a 4th day, he was told he needed to get a doctor's note. So, instead of being where he should have been - in bed, drinking hot liquids - he spent 2 3/4 hours in the waiting room of a walk in clinic, just so he could pay a doctor $20 for a piece of paper saying he was too sick to go to work. Gee, that makes so much sense. Not. The dr. was actually a bit alarmed by Dh's symptoms, and ended up prescribing anti-biotics, just in case Dh's sinuses get worse instead of better. Hopefully, we won't need to fill it. He seems to be getting better.

Meanwhile, we're all quite happy with our new home. Even the cats settled in remarkably quickly. We weren't too concerned about Eldest's cat - this is her forth move with us - but Youngest's new cat is a lot more hyper. They both seem to really enjoy all the extra space they have to run around in!

The girls are loving having their own rooms, though Youngest's room is much colder than the other rooms. It's the only room that isn't completely on top of the lower level. Instead, it's partly above the entryway. It doesn't look like the floor is insulated much. Meanwhile, the rest of the upper level tends to be almost too hot, while the lower level stays cold. We've yet to work out a happy balance with keeping various vents open and closed to regulate the temperature. All in good time.

Our views out the back are pretty impressive, and we've got a large Red Mountain Ash (Rowan) tree in front that attracts quite a few birds.

We've also already had the maintenance guy over to fix a few little things. I was wrong on my assumptions about the colour changes. It turns out that it was a committee decision to change the colours, not just the one guy. We happened to run into him while going into the high rise and he came over with us, bringing along a cover for our kitchen light he'd had to have special made, as it's a discontinued line. While he was here, he fixed a couple of taps we discovered had problems, replaced the peep hole that accidentally got partially painted over during the renovations, and a few other little things. He also took back the CFL bulbs we'd replaced with regular incandescent bulbs. We may not want the things in our home, but maybe someone else will want them. All of this on a moment's notice. This weekend, he's going to be looking for some insulators for the outlets on the outside wall for us. We can feel cold drafts coming in from them. He also made sure to tell us that, if there's anything we think we need, to check with him first in case he already has it, so that we don't spend money we don't need to. I thought that was kind of neat!

All in all, it looks like things are going to really work out well here.

The only downside I'm finding is my own physical issues. I had expected my arm to be a concern, but it is feeling really great, even after lugging stuff around for 3 days. What I didn't expect was for my knees to be as much a problem as they are. I've long had troubles going down stairs, but since the move, it's been worse. I find myself having to go down stairs turned sideways, taking each step one at a time while bracing myself on the wall and rail because of the pain in my knees. Painkillers don't seem to be helping any. The noises coming out of my knees these days are nothing short of spectacular, too! I can't seem to move them at all without all sorts of crackling, popping and snapping sounds. It would be amusing, if it didn't hurt so much at the same time. It's been a long time since I've been in this much pain. Granted, it's been worse, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with! *L*

Ah, well. Such is life. I'll get used to it.

And hopefully, I'll be back to posting more regularly again, too.