Dispatches from the Kingfisher Spa and Resort

  • We have been at the Kingfisher (KF)[1] for a couple of days.  The first night was a nightmare. Piper and Sawyer couldn’t settle. Deb took them out to pee like 4 times. They were climbing all over me. I was telling Piper to stop barking when it was actually Sawyer who was barking. Poor girl! We have been able to leave them in the room with no problems at all. Plus the weather here has been decidedly cool and overcast so we have also been able to take them into Courtenay with us and leave them in the truck without worrying too much about the heat.
  • I have had one massage so far. I have another one for this evening. The RMT I saw has been doing massage for 38 years. She was very good at her job! She found knots in places no one else has ever found. She even found some in my feet! Uggh!
  • Deb and I did the Pacific Mist Hydropath. It is a set of water stations like waterfalls for your shoulders, a hot tub like pool, a pool that you walk through – one side cool and the other hot, a salt pool[2] and a mud tub thing. I enjoyed most of it although I struggle when I get water in my eyes so some of the activities bothered me. Deb is going to do it again tonight while I have a massage.
  • The last couple times we have stayed in hotels that promise free Wi-Fi we have never been able to connect the iPads. This time I bought an Airport Express so that I could set up our own network if necessary. This time it was fine but I will keep it in my bag just for those situations. What did not work so well was the Apple TV plan. I loaded up our first generation Apple TV with lots of good stuff to watch but we could not connect it to this old style TV. So we went and bought a bunch of DVDs so we have something to watch.
  • Food has been a bit of an issue here. The restaurant would be described, in the words of my friend Wandering Coyote, as ‘Chi-Chi.’ Everything is really gourmet and high-end. We have not found much that either we wanted to eat or could eat. I had a duck breast one night but I really couldn’t eat as I have been having serious eating issues as of late. It was really good though. I had crab legs one night that were fabulous. Yesterday we went off in search of comfort food at the White Spot. We were not able to get a kitchenette unit so we have to get by with a small fridge and a kettle. We did go for their brunch this morning, which was amazing to say the least. There were over 125 items. If you love seafood this would be the place for you!
  • We are very grateful for how well behaved Piper and Sawyer are. They get along very well. Sawyer is a real stand out given how young he is. He is so well socialized because Deb took him everywhere since he came to us. I think he would love to live in a hotel room for his whole life so he can burrow under the duvet. That dog is almost always cold. Piper has struggled a little bit. She is feeling the summer badly and panting hard. We will be taking her to the vet but likely they will tell us she is 5 and fat and that is why her breathing is laboured at times. She was quite stressed in the truck on the ferry. She is much calmer now. I am so happy that we toilet-trained these 2 so well. Piper is rock solid and Sawyer is almost too. While Piper can hold it, Sawyer needs to go out whenever he goes to the door. They are both such great dogs!
Sleepy Piper


Sleepy Sawyer

[1] I have decided to abbreviate the Kingfisher, as my fingers want to type ‘Kingfister.’ Better safe that sorry right!?!

[2] My favourite.

Getting Away

Deb and I are at the Kingfisher Spa and Resort in Courtenay. We also have Piper and Sawyer with us. We have been here before so it is a known quantity. We are not in the really nice suites because we have dogs with us. There will be much swimming, hot tubbing and spa treatments!

Is Google trying to take over the World?

Google is ubiquitous. Its name has become a verb and, for some, a destination. Starting out as a search engine, Google has conquered much more Internet territory in the years since it launched. Need an email address, Gmail has you covered; need help scheduling yourself, others or the universe, just check out Google Calendar; don’t want to shell out money for a word processing program, just head over to Google docs and everything you could need is there including online storage if you are so inclined.

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make. I love Google. I use Google as my search engine, my email provider, my calendar and my RSS feed. I lusted after a Google Wave invitation and I was sad when it ultimately failed.  I have been a Google evangelist – spreading the word to the uninformed about the beauty have having all your mail in one place. I was one of those people who every time someone complained about their email, I told them Gmail’s fix for whatever was vexing them at the time. After years of my mother complaining about not having all of her email on each of her computers in different geographical locations, I finally got her to switch to Gmail. She loves it.

Certainly many people, some might say conspiracy theorists, have argued that Google has nefarious intentions. Until this last week, I actually just thought they were a great company offering a lot of great products for free. In hindsight, I suspect I was naïve. Now I think Google was keeping its plans to take over the world under wraps. That is until NOW!

Google has once again taken a foray into social networking. This is not something Google has succeeded at in the past. Does Google ‘Buzz’ ring a bell anyone? Almost every one I know turned off Buzz as soon as Google gave us the option. I am surprised that Buzz survived after they breached so many people’s privacy.

Now Google has made a huge foray into the social networking field again. Except this time they don’t just have Facebook in their sites but Twitter too.[1] Launching Google+ with the ability to both keep posts private or within certain ‘circles’ and the ability to broadcast publicly. But it does not end there.

Yesterday a post went out from the Gmail blog[2] about convincing people you know to switch to Gmail. The poster relays a story about how just one friend was not on Gmail and how he wore him down over time to get him to switch. I going to resist the urge to talk about how the inherent creepiness in this kind of behaviour because it gets worse! Yes, not only are we all supposed to track down all of our friends who do not worship at the altar of Google, we are supposed to stage interventions for our recalcitrant friends.

It is starting to look like Google wants inroads into every aspect of our lives. I am not really concerned about the data they have as it is simply too much to be of any use to them.  What does concern me is the cutthroat behaviour Google is using to convince more people to drink at the Fountain of Google.

I am not really sure what all this means. I think if Google continues its proselytizing[3] they will alienate people – even people who love Google may begin to question their use of Google’s services. I really don’t want to think that Google is plotting how it is going to take over the world but their behaviour is certainly indicating that indeed that is their plan.

[1] Thanks to Veronique for the observation about Twitter in a Google+ post.

[2] Which of course I follow on Google Reader

[3] They are behaving as though they are a religion and they need more soldiers to spread the word.

Domestic Terrorism

Like many people, I was completely shocked by the domestic terror attacks in Norway. My prevailing thoughts of Norway involve a lot of snow and not much else. Norway, like many European countries is dealing with a rise in right wing, Christian fundamentalist, anti-immigration political movements. In fact, Anders Behring Breivik, the man arrested for the attacks had published a 1500-page manifesto, which he posted to the Internet in the days before the attack. Thankfully courts in Norway decided to keep him in custody citing the likelihood that he would ‘tamper’ with evidence. Personally, I would want him kept in custody so he didn’t shoot or blow anything else up.

It is interesting how history threatens to repeat itself. It is predictable that when the economy begins to wane, xenophobic rhetoric waxes. Europe has seen its fair share of economic woes. Many European countries, with generous cradle to grave benefits for little work vanished. Retirement ages have been increased and youth have seen university tuition rises. For many Europeans these ‘reforms’ have come on the heels of poor economic performance and vanishing wealth. Government imposed austerity measures have only added insult to injury.

The last time right-wing extremism took over parts of Europe was in the 1930s. The Great Depression crippled Europe’s economies. Germany was in even more dire circumstances due to hefty reparations it was paying to other countries as a result of WWI. Crippled by the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was in a position that allowed fascism to rise. Similar to today, right-wing, anti-government, xenophobic movements had begun. Anyone who was deemed different (Jews, ‘Gypsies’, homosexuals, people with mental illness, people with learning disabilities etc.) all became targets for blame. We all know the history of the Holocaust yet, for some reason, there are people who just don’t understand how these movements can spin out of control very easily. If people like Breivik have their way the only difference would be that Muslims would be added to the list.

As a society we must stand against these movements. We must not give in to the rhetoric of hate and oppression. When we see or hear hate and racism in ourselves, our peers, our coworkers and our families we must take a stand and challenge the views. Any student of history knows that anti-immigration policies made the Great Depression much worse than it needed to be. We must guard against these ideas taking root here.


I use both Twitter and Facebook and now I am thinking about adding Google+. The problem is that I don’t think I can keep up with 3 social networks. The case for using Google+ over Facebook is definitely there but very few of my friends are earl adopters which means I am hanging out in Google+ with only a few people.

Today’s Lifehacker article discussed how you could easily migrate your FB friends over to Google+ by exploiting Yahoo mail. I already had a really old Yahoo mail account so I did what they suggested and it worked very well. But I am still left with the problem that most of the people I interact with on social networking sites are all on FB and many of them are not really the early adopter type.

I like some of the features of Google+. Being able to create your own circles is a great idea and easy to do. Adding people to circles is simple as well and is a really great way to manage your privacy better. You select which circles you want to share a post with before you hit the button.

I love Google products. I even love Google products that no one else liked – think Google Wave. I love Gmail and Google reader. Google is my search engine of choice. Google+ is well integrated into Gmail, which makes using it very easy. I hope that over time more people will gravitate over to Google+ but for now I guess I will just have to keep up with as much as I can!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘keeping cool’ edition

  • I know summer has not really arrived yet for those of you who love the heat but here at the Swamp, yesterday was almost more than we could take. We have been using a small, 5,000 BTU air conditioner in our room since last fall when the last portable died. We have a large bedroom and even with the ceiling fan and a turbo fan going it has not been enough to really keep us cool. Yesterday, when the temperatures reached 30 degrees, it definitely overwhelmed the little unit. So Deb was off in search of a new one today with more POWER!
  • Still on the keeping cool part – the new unit for upstairs means we get the other one back for the dining room. We have not needed it yet this year but it could still happen. We use the kitchen one all the time. I have noted though that we have yet to run the portable in the living room. Our living room faces north and does not get a lot of direct sun. This is a very, very good thing!
  • We have noticed that in the heat some of the dogs are having problems. Piper for sure is getting overheated at the slightest bit of exercise. Zoe, Kiefer and Molly are also prone to overheating. So it is diet time for some of the dogs here at the Swamp. We suck at not giving them treats so their daily ration of food will be cut back and exercise increased. Our soon to be new housemate has said she loves to walk dogs!!! So look out you lazy canines of the Swamp!
  • One more note about summer. We are so grateful that the temperatures have been so reasonable. Heat is really hard on both Deb and me due to autoimmune disease. We just do not tolerate it at all. Even today, when it was 19 outside, Deb was hot. So while we have some sympathy for all you heat lovers we are happy it is cool.

A picture post…

In celebration of my purchase of Aperture 3 – I give you photos I have altered. Deb is the photographer.

Zoe is really not that serious!


Pit bull in deep thought!


Sawyer enjoying the sun.


Piper looking quite serious.


Sadly Molly is not really photogenic but she is cute in real life!


Kiefer laying in the doorway to the kitchen. Road Block!


Bella looking intense!





Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘Goodbye Clio’ edition

  • Today we said goodbye Clio. I still remember the day she came to us. She was blind, confused, starved and semi-feral. She had been thrown from a car in a bag and a Good Samaritan pick her up and dropped her at the Vancouver Animal Shelter. She came home with Deb as a foster. Being a historian and all, I decided to name her after the Greek muse of history. Deb hated that name, but it suited her. As fosters go, everyone knows how often we fail. After 2 years, Clio was completely bonded to me and was just beginning to explore relationships with other humans. I could not let her go and make her do that all over again. So she stayed with us. Nothing was ever easy for Clio – her legs were malformed[1], as were her teeth. She loved to eat though. She was always persistent in getting what she wanted. I used to call her my little ‘pez dispenser dog’ because she would pop up, I would put food in her mouth and she would go down. Clio was often a target for other dogs because she didn’t move right. We were always making sure that the ‘abusive dogs to her dogs’[2] were separated so that she did not get hurt. Clio did everything on her terms. We have all pretty much been bitten for trying to clean her up – which she hated. This was a dog who despised being groomed. She was difficult to cuddle with because she had a hard time relaxing. Once she did relax, she was the best cuddler ever. Rest easy baby girl. You were loved.
  • So I have had a little more time with Lion and I found some other things I really love! In Lion, you can shut down your Mac with apps and windows open and when it restarts everything is as it was. I have to say one of the things I hated most about my Mac was closing down apps. I often have many open and it would take forever! This feature is great especially when you have to do a software update – you can just let it go and it will be as you had it when it is done updating. This is a sweet, sweet feature. With mission control and an app launcher like Launchbar, I could see at time when the dock could become redundant. It is much quicker to open apps with Launchbar and easier to switch with mission control. Oh and I did have to revert back to the normal scrolling way. While the change makes sense, I have been on computers far too long to make that kind of change.
  • One more thing! Rob Anders[3]! Talk about a loose cannon! Yesterday he gave a speech announcing a new housing project. He went on to say that as he gave the speech he was going to interject his own phrase whenever the bureaucrats wrote something he was not comfortable saying. What he did was give his support to Alberta PC Leadership candidate Ted Morton. It was completely inappropriate for Anders to use his position as MP, while on government business to endorse someone in another race. Having been in parliament as pretty much his only career you would think he would know this bit of information!


[1] We fixed one leg but it was extremely painful for her. The other leg was not great but no vet ever recommended fixing it – even when we asked. She was able to weight bare so it was ok.

[2] Mackenzie and then Zoe.

[3] He voted against giving Nelson Mandela honourary Canadian citizenship. Seriously, who does that?


Today is our last day with Clio. I will write her story another day. Right now I am going to cuddle with her. We just got back fro a pre-arranged dinner out so I am just getting to sit with her now. She is done and it is her time.