It’s a Ranty Kind of Day – Smoking in Metro Vancouver Parks

There are so many things I could rant about today like my mother, work, illness, traffic, life in general. Sadly, I am not free to rant about what I really want to rant about unless I password protect it and I don’t really like to do that. So, I will rant about yet another CBC BC Almanac call in program. Generally, the quality of these programs is a little bit higher than you would normally hear on commercial radio. That statement was true until today. I really felt bad for Mark Forsythe today!

The topic of the second part of the show was Metro Vancouver considering a ban on smoking in all parks, beaches and campgrounds. (you can listen here) The guest Mark had on was Langely City Councillor Gayle Martin who chairs the parks committee. After Mark introduced her and her position, he asked her to comment on the issue. It went downhill from there… Her first response was that she was against it – plain and simple. She sees it as an imposition on the rights of people to do something that is legal. She actually used the following analogy: you wouldn’t tell a fat person to stay off the trails because they sweat and then they smell would you? I just about choked.

Then the calls started. Most callers did not agree with the ban and saw no reason for it. What really struck me was the complete lack of sophistication in the views being put forth. Martin kept saying things like: most smokers would not light up in front of a swing set in a kids’ park. When the issue of allergies was brought up she asked why should someone with health issues trump a smoker’s right to smoke? It was utterly bizarre. She could not seem to figure out that for some people, cigarette smoke is a serious hazard. Then there were the people who equated smoking with driving a car. If you drive a car, their argument goes then you have no right to criticize a smoker. Other callers suggested that tobacco companies be outlawed and tobacco made illegal if people were not going to be allowed to smoke wherever they want.

One of the things that was completely missed was the effect on children seeing people smoke. If I had children, there is no way I would want them to be anywhere someone was smoking. It just would not happen. I wouldn’t want them breathing in second-hand smoke, nor would I want them thinking that smoking was acceptable. I am an ex-smoker so I really do not buy into the idea that smokers can be considerate with their addiction. I was a smoker and I was never considerate to anyone. It was clear to me that if you were in my car or my house I was going to smoke and I didn’t really care if you objected.

I hope Metro Vancouver adopts a bylaw that bans smoking in parks, campgrounds and beaches. We do not need the next generation thinking that smoking is cool. People should be free to go to public areas, all supported by our mutual tax dollars, and not have to risk their health so that addicts can engage in their addiction.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘Queen Shihtzu’ Edition

  • I have a question: Why is it that horse-riders don’t have to pick up horse shit? When we walk our dogs and they crap we have to pick it up. Horses leave huge piles of excrement all over the sides of the road around our house. Does anyone know why they are allowed to leave the horse dung everywhere?
She looks so sweet!
  • Anyone who has ever lived with a Shihtzu can attest to their cuteness and their love of all things comfortable. And, if they are being honest, they will also tell you about how tenacious and stubborn they are too. I have lived with a couple of Shihtzus and all have demonstrated these qualities. Zoe, however, takes the ‘stubborn’ and ‘tenacious’ to new levels. I have never seen a dog who is singularly focused on getting her way. Every night, when I have dinner, Zoe relentlessly paws at me while trying to get my food. It does not matter what I do she does not stop. I push her down, away and tell her ‘no’ all to no avail. She just intensifies her efforts. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. She is also never where she wants to be. She wants into Deb’s office, she wants out. She is so tenacious; none of us humans ever win. I suppose after spending her first 9 years in a puppy mill, pumping out the babies and being exploited by humans, it is only that she get to do whatever the hell she wants to now.
This is her true disposition!! She is EVIL!!! We love her anyway!
  • Speaking of Zoe – she has an abscess at the base of her tail. We are pretty sure it was one of the keratin-filled pustules she gets from time to time. I don’t know why this one infected however a couple of hot compresses and some antibiotic ointment it is looking pretty good. Zoe seems to be quite prone to these kinds of things. I think it is likely due to her years of poor nutrition.
  • Sawyer is doing really well. His toilet training is coming along very well. He certainly is getting it now. He continues to be a real joy to everyone he meets!
Sweet, sweet Sawyer!


I had a writing assignment to do for a leadership course I am taking and I pretty much put everything I had today into that project. In the meantime – check out this article about a poverty action group called Raise the Rates challenging provincial MLAs to live on welfare rates. This is not a new idea. What is really upsetting is the comments that have been left. Unreal.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I met a dog the other day’ edition

I was heading into work the other day and as I rounded the corner onto Hastings Street in Vancouver there was a gorgeous blue pit bull tied by the mailboxes. I did what I usually do when I see a dog – I said hi and presented the back of my hand for him to sniff. He lunged, growling and sputtering. His guy was in the phone booth and came out quickly when he saw me. He apologized and I decided that I would take this opportunity for education. He told me his dog had become reactive with people after a series of bad roommates. The dog was just turning 2 and he was not neutered. Clearly this guy has a problem. He doesn’t want to get him neutered because he could not be a ‘stud.’ He said he had been to obedience. I suggested that the call Hugabull[1] to see if they had some suggestions for him.

Blue Pittie*

Pit bulls can be amazing dogs. However, when people get them they really don’t understand the nature of terriers. Terriers are highly energetic, and they can have high prey drive. When a small terrier demonstrates prey drive or snaps at a person it’s a problem but will not likely end up in someone getting seriously hurt.  When a pit bull type dog does the same thing it can be a tragedy. The myths about pit bulls ‘locking their jaws’ don’t apply however, they can move with speed and they are extremely strong. Unsocialized[2] pit bulls can be a huge problem. Pit bulls who are reactive to other dogs are quite common and their people generally keep them away from those situations. It is a much more serious problem if they are reactive to humans. Any dog who is human aggressive poses a huge risk to the public. These are the kind of dogs who kill people.

A well-socialized pit bull is an amazing animal. The dog is protective but not dangerous; confident but not aggressive. In fact, pit bulls have been considered ‘nanny’ dogs known for looking after children. In the wrong hands, pit bulls can become very dangerous dogs that pose a risk to the community.

Everyone who owns a pit bull has a responsibility to make sure their dog is raised properly. The dog needs obedience training and consistent management to ensure the dogs becomes a ‘breed ambassador.’ I highly recommend anyone considering a pit bull research and get some information from Hugabull.

*Image from Hubpages.

[1] Is a local BC pit bull rescue and advocacy group.

[2] When we talk about socialization in dogs we generally mean exposing the dog to all sorts of situations, new people, new dogs, strange places., loud noises etc. The idea is to have a dog is confident and who can handle situations while remaining calm.


I have had a rough couple of days battling fatigue and increased pain levels. I have been having bouts of fever in the morning and ongoing, bone-crushing, unyielding fatigue. Of all the ulcerative colitis symptoms I have, the fatigue is the worst. The increased symptoms may have been due to the antibiotics I was taking for H. Pylori. I am hoping to have a relaxing weekend if at all possible.

The BC Liberals and the HST mess

The BC Liberals must be completely delusional. They seem to think that a majority of British Columbians can be hoodwinked into supporting a tax that no one wanted, imposed by a party who promised not to, simply by bribing (some[1]) taxpayers with their own money and the promise of a 2 percentage point reduction by 2014. Just because Christy Clark is now the premier does not mean that the leopard has changed its spots. We still have Kevin Falcon as the talking head finance minister making these promises. If we have not learned by now that we cannot trust him and his merry-band of conservative Liberals then we deserve what we get.

The whole scenario gets worse. We will only get the purported changes to this tax if we vote to keep it. If a majority votes against the tax, then, the BC Liberals point out, we would have to pay back $1.6 billion dollars.[2] Now, it seems to me that if the BC government spent that money then it is going to be up to them to figure out how to pay it back to the feds if that is indeed what has to happen. Threatening us with this consequence is meaningless, as we had nothing to do with bringing in the tax, accepting the payment or spending the money.

We also keep hearing how the HST is going to create jobs. I am not an economics expert but I fail to see how a regressive tax can create jobs? Every pro-HST expert seems to say: “The HST is great for business because it simplifies the paperwork businesses have to fill out. Oh and it creates jobs.” I have yet to hear anyone explain to me how reducing the purchasing power of the average consumer through increased and excessive taxation creates jobs. Maybe it creates jobs in the civil service counting all that extra money.

I get that the HST simplifies accounting paperwork for business and that is good. However, the real issue with the transfer to the HST was that it applied to everything the GST applied. While the PST was only on certain things, it was not on restaurant meals and books in particular. The restaurant industry has really suffered with an increase of 7% on meals. A tax on books is just ludicrous. We need to encourage people to buy books and to read.

I think the only way to make the HST palatable is to remove it from the items that did not have PST on them. Make restaurant meals, books and other items and services that were not subject to the PST tax-free. I think then people would see some benefit to them. The way it is now, the tax is both odious and onerous.

If the BC Liberals seriously want people to support the tax they need to make the changes, I have suggested and codify them in legislation regardless of the outcome of the referendum. To tell us that we will only get this minor change to the bitter pill we have all had to swallow if we are behaved and we agree to let them keep it is insulting. I only hope that all the people who have been betrayed by the BC Liberals send them a very loud message with this referendum.

[1] If you have kids or you are a senior earning less than $40,000, you will get a one-time bribe payment of $175.

[2] Adrian Dix, leader of the BC NDP says it is more like $1.2 billion. But what’s a few billion among friends?

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘it’s not the Rapture but something worse’ edition

  • Over the last several days, I am sure the people living in America’s ‘tornado alley’ thought the Rapture had come and they were left behind. The sheer extent of the damage, including the whipping out of Joplin, MO is incomprehensible. Then there is the flooding in Manitoba and Quebec closer to home. No doubt our horrid winter is extending into a very cold spring.
  • Today it was announced Auditor-General of Canada, Shelia Fraser, is retiring. She is one Ottawa bureaucrat who has earned her salary. She has faithfully reported one spending scandal after another to the Canadian public. She also had a rare quality of being fair and respected by all politicians, no matter the political stripe. She has always reported the bottom-line in a fair and accurate way. I worry that a majority Conservative government will try to bring in someone who is less tenacious.
  • At some point in the history of our property, it appears that someone decided to bury garbage. We have broken glass and metal coming up through the ground probably due to all the rain we have had. Sienna just about sliced off a pad from her front leg. Who would bury garbage? She needed 4 stitches but may lose the pad anyway. It is the one higher up on the leg.
  • So far at The Swamp we have avoided any weather-related disasters. If it would just stop raining we might lose the quicksand in the back 40. Seriously, if you go back there you would likely sink. At least Deb and Angelina got both the front and back mowed while it was dry as we brace for more monsoons. I really hope it dries up before my mother comes because the septic is a bit smelly.

The New Leader of the Opposition

I heard some of Jack Layton’s remarks today and he gives me hope. He said that he is going to enforce discipline on his side of the house to bring an end to the snarky comments and heckling each other. He states he wants calm debate of the issues. I hope he is successful as it will definitely mark a change in Canada’s Parliament.

Same-sex marriage prevails

Focus on the Family has decided to give up fighting same-sex marriage. I guess all those fundamentalist Christians, who predicted the demise of marriage if it was extended to the gays, has accepted defeat. The polls show that a clear majority of people in the United States now supports same-sex marriage. As it becomes legal in more and more States people are finally seeing that extending marriage to same-sex couples did nothing to harm ‘traditional’ marriage.

Prior to the court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in Canada, I never really gave much thought to getting married. I had accepted that it was not going to be possible for me. I was content with the commitment ceremony we had in 2000. Something shifted in me when the court decision came down in BC. We decided to get married in October 2003. Part of the reason we did get married was to add yet another couple to the numbers of married homosexuals.

Even though we thought it was a perfunctory act, it nonetheless changed the quality of our relationship. We began to feel more like a family. It seemed to deepen the connection and responsibility we felt for each other. No longer were we ‘just living together’ we were actually a married couple, recognized by the state. When I changed my last name to Deb’s the transformation was complete. We had become a family.

While Focus on Family is no longer going to pick on us they will continue to focus a great deal of their energy on anti-choice initiatives. However, the head of Focus on the Family is encouraging right-wing Christians to work on their own marriages. He points out that high divorce rates amongst conservative politicians. Personally, I would welcome this group and the people it represents turning their energies in on themselves rather than trying to tell the rest of us how to live our lives.

I have a confession to make…

Here it goes: I have a shoe fetish. I love shoes and boots. I love them in all sorts of colours and styles. Some of my regular readers would remember the great Fluevog saga  and here of 2010. I wore my Fluevog boots all winter and I loved them!

I am blaming my friend Wandering Coyote for my new round of shoe desires. I have had 2 pairs of Doc Martens. I had a black pair in my early thirties which I wore until they wore out. Now I have a pair of brown Docs, which I also love. Then WC had to go and post pictures of 2 favourite things: the colour purple and Doc Martens. Check them out:

Amazing purple boots!!!

I also love Maryjane style shoes. These are so lovely I am literally drooling over them:

Double buckle Maryjanes

Then I found these:

These are lovely too!

But these, these are my favourites! Red, Doc Marten buckle boots. I wear red and black when I have something important to do and these boots would be a most lovely complement. Here they are:

I love these boots!!

I think my love of shoes comes from the fact that I never have trouble trying on and buying shoots. I do not have odd-sized feet, nor are my feet wide given my size. Shoes always fit unlike clothes. Although clothes shopping is not as bad as it used to be given the proximity of Suzanne Bell’s Fashions in Vancouver. I highly suspect I will be sporting at least a new pair of red buckle Doc Martens by next fall!