Quick Update

Well, it is the night before I start my new job. I am very excited. I have purchased a new Roots briefcase thing – you can see it here. I also purchased a new lunchbox and I am being mercilessly mocked for it! I also have a new zippered portfolio thing so that I can look professional!!

Blogging may be light over the next bit as I adjust to a new schedule.

One more election update: The Green Party has better signage in Maple Ridge than the Liberals – what is that about? Does anyone have any insight into why it appears that Stephane Dion wants to lose the election? Is it a case of being promoted to your level of incompetence?

Hate Crimes

It is really sad that even in predominantly ‘gay’ areas of Vancouver, the LGTBQ community is still not safe. Apparently there was a gay bashing in the west end early Saturday morning. Two men were walking together, holding hands, when they were accosted and subsequently assaulted by a group of 4 men who were yelling homophobic slurs at them.

The police have made an arrest and are considering charging the individual with a hate crime. I am not sure why there needs to be any ‘consideration’ especially when it is so clearly a hate crime. I am not sure why some young men (as they were in this case) feel that it is ok to harass and assault innocent people walking down the street. The area in which the assaults took place (Davie and Hornby) is in the gay village which leaves one to ask why these young men were there if they did not want to come across homosexuals. If gay people are so repugnant to them why would they seek them out? Sadly, the answer most likely is that they wanted to commit a hate crime.

I would like to wish Jordan Smith a speedy recovery. He will have to have his jaw wired shut for 6 weeks as it was dislodged in the attack. I hope his attackers get everything the justice system can throw at them. There should be a special place in hell reserved for those who commit hate crimes.

I got a job!!!

Well, it is with great relief that I announce that I have finally secured employment. What is even better is that it is the kind of job I wanted. It is an executive director like position (they call it a coordinator as they do not have a hierarchical structure). I will be responsible for managing day-to-day activities, financial and budget oversight, personnel, grants and fundraising. They are in a state of transition so things are a little chaotic. It will definately keep me busy and out of trouble for a while. I am very excited, a little nervous but confident that I have the skills to really make a difference. Hopefully the year from hell is just about over…

Olympics 2010: The Arrogance of VANOC

Ok, so I am not sure how this has happened but it seems that VANOC has secured a patent on words that are in our Canadian National Anthem. Correct me if I am wrong, but don’t these words belong to Canadians? While the anthem has a bit of a convoluted history with its roots in Quebec, it is nonetheless the one thing that binds Canadians together from sea-to-sea. The English version was written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908. The Anthem officially became ours when the Constitution was patriated (not re-patriated as some would like to say, our Constitution had never been here so re-patriation was not possible) in 1980.

So, if the Canadian people don’t own the anthem and the line ‘with glowing hearts’ then surely the descendants of Robert Stanley Weir must. If we take a look at the debacle that was the Hockey Night in Canada theme, another ubiquitous Canadian song that was only loaned to CBC by Dolores Claman to see that the creator of the song holds some control. I am not sure what arrangements, if any, were made with Weir’s family but it would seem to me that they should have a say in how the song is used.

It also seems very lazy on VANOC’s part to co-opt part of our national anthem as the theme for the Vancouver/Whistler olympics. I am sure they could have had some brilliant and high-priced marketing company come up with a new and novel motto for the games.

I wonder what the implications are for this in other areas. Will all networks who televise hockey games where the Canadian Anthem is sung have to blank out the patented words? Will they have to pay royalties to VANOC or be sued. How much will VANOC have to pay to itself every time a Canadian wins a gold medal a the Olympics?

Really, this is all very silly. Patenting part of a national anthem, something that represents an entire nation, is kind of like patenting water…

Federal Election 2008: Planet Liberal

Ok, I don’t know about you but I am really frustrated with the Liberals. It seems like they want to lose this election. This morning, on the radio, I heard a very excited Stephane Dion talking about injecting funding into the arts at a time when the economy is on the brink of recession. His reason? We need to have more movies, books and theatres so we can have fun! This doesn’t work for me. There are valid reasons for injecting money into the arts, for example, it keeps people employed and helps to generate spin-off benefits. Yes, it may be a bit about having fun but a leader of a major political party should not be justifying policy in that way. Memo to Stephane: sounding like a 12-year old boy who just got a new toy is not going to win you any votes.

Stephane has other issues he needs to deal with immediately if he has any hope of not being banished to the political wilderness.  He needs to understand that not everyone is a policy wonk like him.  Even those of us educated in Canadian political history and political science can’t understand what he is saying half the time. He needs to slow down and give people real information upon which they can form an opinion. Presenting policy ideas without explaining how and why he has arrived at them does not educate the public. We need to know why he thinks a carbon tax is a good thing in language the average voter can understand.

I have been following the Liberal Tour updates on Twitter. I really think they are living in an alternative universe. It sounds like their campaign is going great and Dion is speaking to very large groups of voters. They seem to think they are making gains. It does not seem this way on the ground. They (I am not sure who is doing the posting) post things like: “700 people! Standing room only! Everyone proud of responsible, costed Liberal platform. Dion performed brilliantly” and “Candidates are joining Dion on the train.Lots of laughs.By far, we have the best team. Politics is about working together, not a solo effort.” They got that right that it is not a solo effort but has Dion figured that out?

In my riding, Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, I have not seen one Liberal campaign sign. Not one! I don’t even know who the candidate is or even if they are running one. I see Cons and NDP signs but that is all. So where are the Liberals?

Dion and the Liberals need to pull it together and quickly before we are saddled with a Cons majority.

The Inmates Have Taken Over the Asylum: The Geriatric Club

A senior dog is loosely defined as being over the age of 7. If we were to apply that definition we would have 6 dogs who fit in that category. Although to see some of them in action you would have no idea!

The oldest dog in the house is Molly, who is 19, had an entire blog post dedicated to her and her antics. She has had several strokes and kind of does everything to the right. She is a force to be reckoned with and most of the other dogs are afraid of her.

My favourite pic of Mabel. It captures her confidence!
My favourite pic of Mabel. It captures her confidence!

The next oldest dog is Mabel at 17. She has also been the subject of several blog posts: here, here, and here. Mabel continues to do quite well. She is our little despot. She still sleeps most of the time in the laundry room – entirely her choice. She has many beds to choose from and she does rotate through them all. Lately we have had to evict her from the laundry room for short periods of time so that Tucker can eat there and she gets seriously pissed off. She will immediately voice her displeasure and go and pee on the floor even if she has just been outside. She continues to bark to go out, come in and eat. Her daily ‘constitutionals’ around the yard are back and she can successfully find her way back to the door. What is really funny is that Mabel doesn’t know when the door is open. Sometimes we don’t close it and sure enough, when she is ready to come in she will bark in front of the open door. Mabel is a little deaf, a little blind and a whole lot stubborn!

Madison with Molly and Clio
Madison with Molly and Clio

Madison is our next oldest dog and she is 15. We adopted her from the Animal Rescue Foundation about 10 years ago. Madison often takes the role of mother to the little dogs no matter how old. She can often be seen cleaning them especially the pug. Madison has much in common with Eeyore. She is sure that no one loves her and everyone hates her. She greets new visitors with the hope that maybe, just maybe, they will really love her! Madison is a loved and cherished member of our family. Unfortunately some dogs are never able to overcome their pasts. Madison went through several homes in her first five years of life. She became somewhat aggressive after being tormented by a 12 year old boy. We were the perfect family for Madison because there were no men in our household. Over the years, Madison has mostly been desensitized to men and can enjoy their company. Young boys are still problematic – she is unpredictable and can be aggressive. Luckily she has never bitten a child and we are highly vigilant. Many people (see here and here) feel it is just fine to re-home a dog and that it really does not affect them. For many dogs, instability in their ‘pack’ cause irreparable damage that the dog may never overcome.

Laughing Tucker
Laughing Tucker

Tucker is a foster dog from SAINTS. He is 15 years old and spent almost all of his life in a pen. He is a very good dog. There are serious consequences for a dog who spends his entire life, by himself, in a pen. He was never socialized with other dogs. For him this means that he has never learned how to be with other dogs or what it means to be a dog. He is now slowly learning, at 15, how to interact with other members of canine society. He is realizing that humping everyone is not the best strategy. He never learned to hold his bladder. If you live in a pen rather than a house toilet training is not a priority. It means that Tucker is incontinent. He may have been incontinent at 15 anyway but we will never know. Tucker has an incredible need to be touched and loved. After 15 years there are not enough people or enough hours in enough days to make up for what he has lost. It is very sad. This insatiable need for affection contributes to Tucker’s anxiety. He is always concerned that he is going to miss something and he is always on alert. Tucker is also mostly deaf. As a result he devises strategies to know if the humans he has now fallen in love with move. He will lie so that he is touching my chair so that I cannot possibly get up without him knowing. Another consequence (and one that is simultaneously amusing and disgusting) of his lack of socialization is that Tucker never really came into contact with female dogs. Enter our little hussy, Piper the pug. On several occasions now I have seen Piper laid out, on her back, like Miss September and Tucker enthusiastically ‘cleaning’ her. That is all I will say on the subject.


Kirby is our next oldest dog. He is 10 and he also came from ARF. Kirby was painfully shy when he came to us as a foster dog. He had this unique ability to blend in with his surroundings and stay perfectly still making it very difficult to find him. Although, who, in their right minds, takes a brand new dog to the park and lets him offleash? Well, we did. It was dumb. It took us a long time to find him that first day and he was right by us. Kirby was so timid he was almost euthanized at the vet’s office where he was dumped. He was saved by a very eager and talented vet student who had done his neuter. She could not handle the fact that he was about to be put down and she contacted ARF. It was clear immediately, to Deb anyway, that he was not going anywhere once he had arrived. Almost 10 years later and he is a treasured member of our family.

Mackenzie smiling.
Mackenzie smiling.

Mackenzie is about 8 years old and she has lived with us for all but about 4 months of her life. She started her life being tied up in a yard and left to the elements and the loud noises. This has affected her greatly. She is very scared by thunder storms and fireworks have made her seizure from anxiety. She was also kicked to maker her aggressive and into a watch dog. They succeeded on the aggressive part for sure. She was human aggressive when we got her and has remained dog aggressive. Mackenzie has been the focus of a great deal of soul searching and agonizing about quality of life. She lives in a multi-dog household and this means that she must be separated from everyone else as her aggression, while predictable, is severe. Mackenzie spends a lot of her time in Deb’s office. She gets lots of exercise and for the most part seems to have a good quality of life.

What is clear from our seniors is that there are real and palpable consequences to how dogs are treated. Dogs who spend their lives on the ends of ropes or chains outside become fearful and unpredictable. Dogs are pack animals and need to be with their people. They are social animals who need to learn to the cues from both other dogs and humans if they are to navigate their way in society successfully. Having the pleasure of having a dog in your life comes with serious responsibility. Dogs can be expected to live between 10 and 20 years and if you are getting a dog you need to be aware. Dogs require good quality food and regular vet care. Please if you are thinking of getting a dog make sure that you do your research into breed characteristics and learn something about training. Many dogs lose their homes because their people did not research the breed adequately. If you get a Border Collie you need to know that have to work or they will become destructive. Pugs were bred to be companion dogs – they need to be with their people. Northern breeds have high prey drive. While not all dogs of all breeds will display all of the breed characteristics it is good to at least be aware of the potential. One last request, if you are thinking of getting a dog please check out your local shelters, rescues and pounds. Please don’t support a puppy mill.

Edited to add: I just saw this post from Turtle Gardens with some more discussion about consequences for dogs brought on by human failures. Excellent post.

Pet Peeve: Control Freak Bloggers

I keep running across (or into, as the case may be) with bloggers who heavily censor or don’t post comments. I posted before about a blog I was banned from because of comments posted that did not agree with what the author had to say. Another blog I read, Our Green Year,  which chronicles the journey of Craig and Layla Baird as they undergo a personal green tranformation. They have started a companion blog called the Our Green Year Journal where they catalogue the green things they do on a daily basis. They are not allowing comments on this blog as they state it is only a ‘journal (look towards the end of the entry).’

This makes no sense to me. The point of this blog and I assume the accompanying journal is to educate and to provide an example of all the green things they do everyday. I began to notice some inconsistencies between what they say they do on the main blog and what they list they do on the journal. The first major thing I noticed was the reference to chicken, turkey and ham deli meats when they said that they if they were eating meat it was bison. So, I asked the question about the deli meat and questioned how green it was and if they thought it was sustainable. Instead of posting my question they just added it on, in red, at the bottom of the post. It does not matter that, according to Layla, they are only using these ‘deli’ meats to ‘supplement’ their diet. The bottom line is they said they were only eating bison. Besides assuring me that the deli meat is organic they did not address the question of sustainability.

I also have other questions. For example they say that they are going to reuse everything before they recycle it. Yet in their journal posts they just talk about recycling packaging materials. They also talk about bringing plastic containers for things like take out – why don’t they do this for their deli meat that they have wrapped in paper? On Day 39 they talk about reusing items that can be recycled first. Yet almost every entry on the Journal says ‘packaging materials recycled.’ Where is the reusing? On Day 49 they talk about re-using receipts before recycling them yet the Journal does not indicate this activity either.

The burning question I was really hoping the journal would answer is how they find time to do all of the ‘green’ things they have stated they have incorporated into their lifestyle – here is a list of only some of the things that have yet to show up on the Journal:

Day 7: They volunteered with the Green Party. With a Federal Election underway the Journal has not reflected this activity.
Day 11: Layla started to make tin can pen jars to sell through the blog. Has she made any since the Journal started?
Day 21: Apparently the Bairds receive lots of books in the mail and need to recycle (or in their case, re-use first) a lot of packaging material. The Journal has not been up for that long so perhaps they have not received any books or reused any packing material.
Day 23: The Bairds commit to mowing the lawn with a manual push mower. Perhaps their lawn does not need to be mowed even though it is still quite warm.
Day 26: Craig and Layla commit to 5-minute showers with an egg timer! They dutifully record their showering times on the Journal (although, I have to secretly wonder if one of them ever cheats and takes a 6.3 minute shower, but I digress…). They also commit to catching the water that is run before the temperature is correct in a bucket and using it to water the garden. This activity is not recorded. What are they going to do with that extra water in the winter?
Day 27: Are the Bairds still drinking coffee the ‘green’ way?
Day 28: and what about that dandelion tea?
Day 29: composting inside – is this still happening?
Day 34: Saw the end of the dryer in the Baird household. Yet the journal does not indicate them hanging their clothes out to dry. Perhaps they haven’t done laundry yet as they were going to wear their clothes a little longer as they explain in a future blog.
Day 48: Have we been doing any container gardening in the house to clean the air inside?
Day 49: Perhaps the Bairds are not eating much bread. They committed to making their own on this day and this activity is not reflected in the Journal.
Day 56: are they still carrying around their portable bottle composters wherever they go?
Day 60: Craig posted about making their own soda pop. I guess they don’t drink that much as they have not made it yet according to the Journal.
Day 64: I guess you don’t use that much body wash if you only take a five-minute shower.
Day 69: How are they doing on the ‘one-bag’ challenge?
Day 72: I guess they don’t eat much yogurt either.
Day 82: One of my favourite days! I think the Bairds jumped the shark here…now they are going to wash their clothes by hand!!!! But they are having trouble finding a washboard. There has not been any laundry being done on the Journal. I guess they have a lot of clothes!
Day 85: Have they had the scythe out lately? Or maybe the grass and weeds don’t grow.
Day 90: Craig and Layla are now collecting the morning dew!!! Are they doing this every day? You sure can’t tell from the Journal.
Day 100: For people who claim not to eat much meat, almost every entry into the journal sees them buying some sort of meat. None of it was bison.
Day 114: Another post on how little meat they eat. Personally, I don’t care if you want to eat meat. However, when you say you are not eating much meat because of its impact on the environment and then eat meat almost every day there is a bit of a credibility gap. The claim to be almost vegan yet they buy locally sourced eggs and organic cream for butter. Why the disconnect?
Day 122: Eating cold food and another reference to deli meat.
Day 129: Having given up potato chips on another day, the Bairds are now making their own pita chips.

Now, here is my question, with all those ‘green’ tasks they have undertaken when do they find time to work or sleep? I am not sure what their goal is besides writing a book. It is certainly not education as evidenced by their refusal to publish reader comments and questions on the Journal blog. I have also posted similar questions to the main blog and they have not been posted either.

I began reading the Our Green Year blog as a way to learn about some things we could possibly do in our house to reduce our impact on the environment. Many green blogs out there are great. They talk realistically about the challenges and pitfalls of going and staying green. It is a shame that the Our Green Blog and the Our Green Year Journal do not fall into this category.

Federal Election 2008: Lorne Mayencourt

Mayencourt’s candidacy in Vancouver Centre is not sitting well with me. I am not sure how he can justify running with a party that is as blatantly homophobic as the Cons. Seriously, these people would repeal the same-sex marriage legislation (if they thought they could get away with it and the Supreme Court would let them). What self-respecting member of the LGTBQ community would willingly put themselves in such a hostile environment? It was bad enough when he ran for the BC Liberals and was elected. However, the BC Liberals do not seem to openly hate the LGTBQ community like the Cons do. Does Little Lorne think that Stevie is going to let him play in his sandbox? Does he think he is going to get a cabinet position if he should with (which, in all likelihood, he will not)? Vancouver Centre seems to have a love-in going with Hedy Fry and it is likely she will be re-elected.

I really do not understand what Lorne thinks he has to gain from this candidacy. Is it show that the Cons are not bigots? Sorry, that won’t fly as they have shown themselves to be bigots many times. The cancellation of the Court Challenges Program was one of their first acts and a way to muzzle critics. Does Lorne think, if he is elected, that the Cons will get together in caucus and sing “Its a Small World” to welcome him to the party? It is more likely than not someone will call him a faggot, kick him and run away. Is Lorne so desperate for the limelight that he will put himself in bed with the enemy? Sadly, I think that is the case. I also think Lorne may have a case of internalized homophobia – why else would he support a party who would turn the clock back on LGTBQ rights?

Really, the only one who stands to gain from a Mayencourt victory in Vancouver Centre is Tim Stevenson.

Pet Peeves: Facial Hair

I decided to take a break from the political blogging for a moment and talk about something else. Like a lot of women, I have facial hair. I have a very distinct ‘moustache’ on my upper lip and due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) I have developed very dark coarse hair on my chin and below. One of the symptoms of PCOS is hirsutism. Some of the meds I have been on for years for PCOS have tamed some of the hair growth. The hair on my arms has thinned markedly and I have very little hair on my legs or under my arms as I stopped shaving years ago as it irritated my skin. It simply was not worth it. The hair on my legs is so fine and completely gone in some areas.

For the most part I have dealt with my facial hair mostly by plucking the heavier coarser ones and leaving the rest alone. It bothered me that it was there but not enough to really do something about it. I also thought having it removed would be outrageously expensive (I was wrong and more on that later). I had basically come to accept my facial hair as just part of life.

Fast-forward many years to December 2007. Yes, the year of the plague. I was put on whopping doses of prednisone to deal with my pyoderma gangrenosum and colitis. One of the major side effects of steroids is hair growth. My once manageable, albeit hirsute face, had suddenly gotten worse and I needed to find a solution. I did not want to start shaving, as I believed this would only make matters worse. I had read some blogs that indicated that laser hair removal was quite effective. We had a place in the local mall that did it so Deb picked me up a pamphlet. Yet still I hesitated.

I went to get my hair cut next door to this place last week. I decided to go in and I made an appointment for a consultation. I went today. I had the consultation and then a treatment. It will take probably 4 treatments at $85 each to get really good results. The tech said the pigment in my hair and my skin type made me an ideal person for laser hair removal – I am quite fair and the pigment is quite dark.

She started with the upper lip and I could smell the hair singing – which she said was a good sign. The pain was bearable but I would not be able to take much more so we decided I would get some Emla for the next treatment so she could increase the power of the laser. The area on my chin and underneath was fine. There were only a couple of sharp zaps and the rest it just seemed hot. My other big concern was how red my skin would be after the fact. I suffer enough with autoimmune induced facial rashes that I was not really into looking bad for several days. Right now, a couple of hours after treatment, there is no visible redness and it does not hurt at all.

I am a happy camper! I go back in a month for treatment number 2. In the meantime I intend to maintain my hair-free face with shaving.