Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I love my new front teeth’ edition!

  • I love the way my dentist fixed my front teeth. About 25 years ago, I needed a lot of dental work done. My fear of dentists coupled with living in care and no money meant that I severely neglected my teeth. There was a dental office across the street from where I lived with a big sign advising that they ‘cater(ed) to cowards.’ So, I went there. I needed so much dental work, having all of my teeth pulled was a serious consideration. Instead, I decided to soldier on and get them fixed. My lower front teeth were in bad shape. When the dentist picked the wrong shade of filling material for them and my teeth looked horrible. Plus they were stained from when I was a smoker (20 years ago now!). Because they looked so bad, I always assumed that one of them was going to start to hurt. My bottom teeth are notorious for being very sensitive and not freezing very well. So the sedation route was great for me. The drug they use is halcyon and one of its properties is that you do not form new memories while on it. So all the anxiety of being at the dentist, the sounds, the smells, the anticipation of pain is not there. This is a huge relief for me as I am very fearful. I highly recommend the sedation route for anyone who has a lot of dental work to do!
  • Everyone here at the Swamp is well. Piper has been wandering howling for no apparent reason, which I find quite amusing. Kiefer and Clio were groomed the other day. They look so cute when they come back.
  • I love how some people are so desperate for spring that they are wearing sandals almost in defiance of the rain and the low temperatures. I am dying to get my feet out of socks and shoes too but it is just too cold. I do chuckle at the ones defying the weather.
  • It is still quite swampy here. We still have pooling water on the front lawn. The front part of the backyard is pretty dry but the rest is very, very wet. We have had a great deal of rain so it is not surprising.
  • Things are calming down in my life, which is a very good thing. I have made a decision that I am not going to post about yet but will at some point no doubt. It is a life altering decision.
  • I will post my election predictions tomorrow! Can’t wait!

Not much today

I have a 5-hour dental appointment today. I will be sedated, so I will likely not be able to blog later. Some new developments on the medical front – I only have to have go for blood work once a month now!!! My GP is also referring me to an endocrinologist. There is something seriously wrong with my metabolism. I initially lost 17 pounds when I started Victoza. Within 2 weeks now, I have gained back 10 pounds. It really does not make sense unless somehow I metabolize calories from breathing. This weight gain has been achieved on a diet of about 12-1400 calories per day on the good days. I eat no junk food, and very little processed food. My diet is largely centred on whole foods, not a lot of carbs and lots of veggies. I am also eating less meat. So it really defies explanation. We shall see what the next round of blood work shows.

We are leaving here in a minute. So it is off to la la land for me which is a good thing as I only slept for 6 hours.

Why I hate Spring Rain

We live in a rain forest here on the left coast of North America. And it rains. It rains a lot. It rains for months at a time in the winter. It also rains in the spring. Spring rain is quite different from winter rain and I can’t stand spring rain

In the winter it rains. Unless there is a ‘pineapple express’ in town, it just lightly rains. You need your windshield wipers, maybe a hat or an umbrella, but generally, you don’t get soaked. Sometimes it mists where it just seems like a light rainy coating is covering you and everything outside but again you can stay relatively dry.

Spring rain is wet. It seems to come down in buckets. Windshield wipers need to go at full speed and still you can’t see. Then it starts and stops. So it pours and then we are lulled into a fall sense of complacency. Then, it pours again. Personally, I would much rather have winter rain if it must rain.

At least we are not in Calgary, where it snowed, yet again!

Let’s talk about Coalitions

Harper and his coalition government fear mongering is getting on my nerves. He talks as though Mikey and Jack could wake up one morning and talk to their buddy Gilles and kick little Stevie out of the sandbox without any one stopping it. This is so far from the truth. He is completely exploiting a rarely used solution to a government falling as a way to scare the electorate into giving him a majority government. What is more disturbing is that the media are playing along like he is correct.

In parliamentary democracy, it is only customary that the party with the largest number of votes forms the government. It has been done this way since the beginning therefore, it continues to be done this way. In the case of a minority government, where no one party has the majority of seats, it is still customary that the party with the most seats forms the government. As long as the government ‘enjoys the confidence of the house’ then all is peachy keen. They all agree to get along and play nicely in the sandbox.

In a minority government situation, the government is only as safe as its next set of negotiations with the opposition parties. What this means in practice is that at any point the opposition parties can pass a motion of non-confidence (basically they are saying that they have lost confidence in the government) and if the motion passes the government could fall. This could feasibly happen in a majority government situation, especially a tight majority, the government could be caught off guard and a motion of non-confidence could be tabled. However, they usually strike agreements with the other parties and pair up MPs to allow everyone to have the freedom to do constituency work at home. They agree that if Joe isn’t in the house then Jane won’t be. This way they keep the numbers proportional. But I digress.

Back to our minority government situation. When the house fell on the budget bill, (any monetary bills are considered de facto confidence motions) a federal election was not a foregone conclusion. In fact, when Stephen Harper went to see the Governor-General he had 2 choices – calling an election or asking the party with the next largest number of seats to form a government. In fact, we have not had many coalition governments in Canadian history.

So, the whole coalition government thing is a ruse. It is a way for Stephen Harper to divert attention from all the scandals that have plagued his government. If he is busy scaring everyone that the Bloc Quebecois might have a hand in governing Canada then he doesn’t have to answer questions about how he subverts democracy. The next time you are in mixed company and someone starts talking about the spectre of a coalition government, take a moment and educate them. The truth is the chances of it happening are almost slim and none. But you can never rule it out completely as a possibility. In the grand scheme of things, it might be a good government where more Canadians might be represented rather than the party who received 35% of the popular vote taking more seats because of our antiquated first past the post system of electing representatives.

This and that…

Many things are going through my head so welcome to the latest mish-mash post. Here we go, in no particular order:

  • What is up with play off hockey. Why are the fans so intense? As I drove to work today, I was listening to BC Almanac again, of course they had uber-Canuck fans on today to talk about how they are coping with the unanticipated game 7 of this series. These people are fucking insane! One woman called and said that her 12-year old son had gone on a hunger strike and he was not going to eat until the Canucks won again. Well, if history repeats itself, the kid might not eat until next October. Why do people get so worked up about hockey? Where is all that energy when it comes to social issues? To volunteering? To political engagement? Man if we could harness 1/10 of the energy that is directed towards the Vancouver Canucks we could solve homelessness and political apathy in a few days.
  • I don’t know about you but the idea of Jack Layton as the Leader of the Official Opposition makes me squee with delight! I would love it if Ignatieff had to move out of Stornoway and make way for Jack and Olivia. Layton has worked tirelessly as leader of the federal NDP and it is about time he reaps the rewards. I am glad that people are thinking it is time for a change in Ottawa. I am hoping that Harper is denied his majority – just like Dancing on the Stars you don’t get it if you don’t earn it.
  • I need to make some changes in my world. I want to get a handle on my anxiety so it does not rule my life. I want off the medications that are supposed to help manage it but don’t really seem to do the job. I am completely against going on any more medication. I am not sure what the changes will look like. Some of them I won’t be able to post here unless I do a private post. Mostly though the changes will centre on me taking back control and not letting other people/things control my world. I am tired of walking around with hunched shoulders and backaches because of stress. Now some of it I have no say over. My anxiety ramps up if my pain levels are too high. I am going to try to manage that a little differently as well. Again, not sure what it will look like but the goal is to get some peace back in my life. I want more time for me and with Deb and the dogs.
  • I loved being home last week with the dogs. You miss so many things when you are not here with them all day. They seem to bond more closely to me when I am here. As the week went on, I spent more and more time with Piper laying on my leg and Sawyer cuddled in. It was nice. It made my stress levels go down.

Anyone else out there thinking of making changes? Do you have any ideas for me of things that have worked for you around managing anxiety? Let me know in the comments!

Other Shows I am Watching

I have been watching a whole bunch of other shows on Apple TV. I still have the first generation Apple TV – you know the one with a hard drive. Some of the shows I get on Apple TV are available on the regular networks but we end up with a problem when we try to record too many shows at a time. Here is the Apple TV list:

  1. Breakout Kings – I think this show is on A & E but I am not sure. The premise of the show is silly. Basically a desk-jockey US Marshall and another US Marshall, who is in a half-way house, get to put together a group of inmates who will help them catch escaped fugitives. If they catch the fugitive then they get a month off of their sentences. While they are working on the team they are transferred to a minimum-security prison. The one catch is that if any one of them tries to escape while out on a case then they all go back to their maximum-security prison digs. So once you suspend disbelief the show itself is pretty good. My favourite episode so far is when they used an old Prison Break character, T-Bag, as an escapee. It was a great episode!
  2. Dragon’s Den – I have never watched this show on CBC. I decided to watch it after seeing an episode of the Shark Tank. I enjoyed seeing all of the dumb ideas people can come up with. The one thing that really got on my nerves though was how they all treated Arlene Dickson the only female ‘Dragon.’ Kevin O’Leary is by far the worst of the misogynists. However, every single one of the other Dragons has also said horribly misogynistic things to Arlene. Even the people pitching their
  3. The Good Wife – I was watching this on TV but then Deb decided to watch it so I downloaded the first and most of the second season on the Apple TV. I love this show. The character development in this show is phenomenal. If you haven’t checked this show out I highly recommend it!
  4. The Killing – this is a new show from AMC. The premise is that there is a murder and it will take the whole season to solve the murder. It is early in the season but so far the character development is awesome and it will only get better as the show unfolds.

Watching TV – Some shows I have been enjoying

I have to say that I have found television very frustrating this year. There seem to be many repeats and it is very difficult to predict when the shows you like will be on. Even during ‘sweeps’ months,[1] it didn’t seem to me like the any of the shows went all out to attract viewers. All that being said, some of the shows that have been on have been fabulous! Here is my list of favourites and why:

  1. Survivor – I think this is the best season of Survivor ever. I groaned too when they brought back Russell and Boston Rob to play again. However, it quickly became apparent that while Rob had learned from his several times playing the game, Russell had not. Busting out his old and tired strategy, Russell’s tribe actually threw a competition so they could get rid of him. Meanwhile, over at the other beach, Rob had solidified control early on. This season Jeff Probst is blogging after each episode giving people his view on things are going down. Probst loves Phillip and Rob. Phillips is great, in his view, as he really makes the game interesting and he ‘gives a good interview.’ He praises Rob’s use of strategy and how the tribe follows along. What really amazed me after the merge, Rob still had complete control over his tribe including making sure they were always buddied up with another tribe member and even saying when they were allowed to eat!
  2. American Idol – I was not very enthusiastic about Idol this year. I had come to like Simon Cowell’s pithy and sarcastic remarks. However, this year has been fabulous. The judges are starting to mesh. I really like Steven Tyler, he doesn’t bring a whole lot of substance to the table but he can sing and he knows what he likes. Randy Jackson is still giving his typical ‘pitchy’ remarks but he has broadened his repertoire a bit. Jennifer Lopez I thought would have brought more critique that is real then she has. It seems like they are all taking their cues from Randy Jackson. The contestants though have been fabulous. Any one of them could be a winner and have a great career.
  3. The Chicago Code – is the new show starring Jennifer Beals as the Superintendent of the Chicago police department. The show is strong and I love how it is portraying the city for what it is known for – corruption. It has been necessary to suspend a lot of disbelief at times though. She seems to do active police work when really her job would be highly administrative. Still the stories are compelling and interesting and the cast is strong.
  4. Dancing with the Stars – I love this show! It is cheesy and silly but for some reason I really enjoy it. I have watched enough seasons now to know what the dances should look like. I have my favourite pros and I usually root for one of the has-been stars. This season has been quite good as there are not any clear front-runners yet but I am hoping that Kirstie Alley goes all the way.
  5. Body of Proof – this new show starring Dana Delaney felt quite stiff through the first couple of episodes. They seem to be allowing the main character (played by Delaney) some room to move and not be a flat, two-dimensional, driven medical examiner. If the writers continue to develop all of the characters, it should be a good show.
  6. Celebrity Apprentice – I know I probably shouldn’t even admit that I like this show on my blog but I can’t help myself. I seem to like shows that give has-beens another chance to jump-start their careers. It has been fascinating watching Gary Busey self-destruct and Meatloaf almost blow up. As an aside, I love how the contestants call him ‘Meat.’

What about you? What shows are you watching and why?

[1] November, February and May.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘things I have learned’ edition

  • I learned today that when you mostly stop buying and therefore eating processed food you don’t spend as much money at Costco. It was rather interesting. The only food I walked out of there with today was chicken (boneless and skinless), vegetables and dairy products. I did buy Deb was some vegetarian spring rolls but that was it for processed food. I am not sure why we have gone off processed food but I have to believe it is a good thing.
  • I have loved being home with the dogs all week. It is going to be so hard to go back to work. The dogs loving have someone home with them all day. Piper has been close to me all week so that I could just reach down and pet her.
  • I hope re-entry next week is easy. I am out on Friday as I am having another big sedation dental appointment. I am getting several crowns.
  • I am heartened by the surge in popularity for the NDP. Maybe Ignatieff will be moving out of Stornoway. I will make my election predictions next week.
  • I read a great blog by Penmachine on voting. If he can research all the issues, figure out the party platforms and get out to vote while dying from cancer then you can vote too. With so many people struggling for the right to vote we must be grateful that we have the right to vote here in Canada.

Taming the Paper

We get so much mail. Some of it is important but much of it is not. Seeing as some mail is important it would be great if it actually got opened. Instead it sits in piles on my desk and I just move it around. Finally, the other day, I decided to clean it all up and to start to take control of the mail.

I bought a NeatDesk scanner a couple of months ago with the idea of getting everything under control. Except I never really used it. I have started just now to scan bills in. It can keep track of all your expenses by scanning in receipts and invoices. I haven’t figured every thing out yet but I am sure I will over time. Wish me luck with taming the Monster!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘it all makes sense now’ edition

  • My vacation has been mostly successful this week. With the exception of an emergency on Monday everything has been quiet. I have also managed to not leave the house from Saturday until today. I have slept as long as I have wanted to everyday but today (more on that below). I actually managed to clean my office out a bit today which was on the agenda. I still have a couple of days to go to be rested by next week.
  • I hate our neighbours. They let their dog bark like crazy at pretty much any time of the day or night. He woke me up this morning with about 20 minutes of non-stop barking. I will however laugh my ass off during mosquito season – our drainage pond is very close to their swimming pool. I hope the wind blows east all summer!
  • It has been awesome being home this week. The dogs really like having someone home. Piper has been my faithful, loyal companion all week. She sleeps until I get up at which point she demands belly rubs; long, slow and thorough belly rubs!
  • The conversation I had with my mother last night was the last in a series that has been going on for the last week.  She sent me an email last night apologizing and indicating that it had something to do with her smoking. Today she tells me she had been going cold turkey in between visits by my sister who would give her cigarettes when she visited. I told her she needs to stay on the patch and that going cold turkey is not really a good idea.