A day in the life

I am feeling like crap today. We have been quite busy the last two days and apparently, stressed. Deb has been feeling nauseous all day and I have had intensive cramping and pain. I really want to know what I ever did to my colon for it to torment me so.

Piper continues to do well. Given her reaction to the first anesthetic we thought keeping her quiet was going to be easy. We were wrong. She must have been feeling really bad after they look down her throat. Perhaps her soft palate was more swollen. She has been great since the surgery. She is sleeping a little more, probably because of the tramadol. She wants to go though! She is confined to leash walks for a while which, in her case, is counter-productive. She gets more excited when she sees a leash than when she is going into the back yard. I fear we are going to have the punk squared when she is completely recovered!

I just heard that there are major cougar problems in Edgewater, BC, which is very close to Radium, BC – where we are going in 5 days. Apparently, people are taking their evening walks with shotguns! We are going to have to really keep a close eye on the dogs while we are there. Apparently, cougar ranges are very large so 13 kms is not all that far! They think the cougars are juveniles just put out by their mother. Hopefully they pull it together and get into the backcountry.

Oh and another foot has washed up in the Lower Mainland. What is that about? Why do we continue to have feet wash up here yet no other coastal city seems to have this problem? I wonder if we have a serial killer somewhere like Dexter Morgan?

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘they are full of sh*t’ edition

  • First things first – Piper is home and she is fine. She was ecstatic to see us this morning at Can-West. She pulled like a tank all the way to the car. We have switched her over to a harness. It was a good thing we brought one with us as they had one for us to buy. When we dropped her off yesterday we paid 75% of the high estimate. We got money back today! I am sure that rarely happens. Piper is on tramadol for 5 days. She has to go on leashed walks only for 3 weeks. We are so relieved that this surgery is behind us. The surgeon said she has a good prognosis but she will still be a noisy breather. We like her little noises and she will probably still snore.
  • Back again to the HST. The whole thing is making me MENTAL! The latest is that the BC Liberals are saying that it will take 18 months to implement the PST. Oh, and apparently, 18 months is aggressive. I think they are full of shit. First of all they say it is going to take the feds 10 months to change the legislation and the rules. How? Why? All the feds need to do is repeal the BC portion of the HST. They have nothing to do with PST. The province is saying that they have to wait for this to happen. Even if this was true, which I doubt, they could work with them to get going on it much sooner. Plus there should be no change to the rules as they are to revert back to the same system prior to the HST implementation. The second reason they cite is that they will need all new computer systems to go back to the PST. Now, seriously people, are we to believe that the current computers that calculate the HST cannot calculate the PST? They also need brand new software, which they must either build or buy. What is wrong with the old software? Third they claim that they need all this time to educate businesses about how to collect the ‘decades old’ tax. Clearly this is spurious. If they could ‘train’ all the businesses in the province for the HST in a year why do they need much more time for the PST training? I think the real reason is that they want to suck as much money out of us as they can. I think most people are astute enough to know exactly what is going on and hopefully the BC Liberals are punished at the polls.
  • Listening to the news today we were appalled to hear that the cougar that attacked the child in Pacific Rim Park is going to be found and killed. I don’t understand why they have to kill the cougar. I am sure they can find an island where they cougar can live out its life. We encroach on their habitat and then kill them when they do what comes naturally to them.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘it’s over’ edition

  • Piper had her surgery early this afternoon. She pulled through like a trooper. She only needed to have some of her soft palate cut away. There could have 3 other things that needed to be done but we caught it early before a lot of damage was done to the rest of her throat tissues. She is at Can-West for tonight and we will be able to pick her up tomorrow if all goes well. I was quite confident with the surgeon although he has some outdated ideas about feeding raw food. I am so tired of hearing that dogs can’t handle food with a little salmonella or E. Coli on it. However, as Deb astutely noticed there was an anatomy book there published by Hill’s the makers of Science Diet.
  • I will be so glad when the whole HST thing is over. SFU economics professor, Krishna Pendakur, was on the radio for a call in show. He was extremely biased towards keeping the HST and made sure everyone knew how stupid he thought we all were for choosing the PST. I get that there are arguments why the HST is better i.e. it is a value added tax but the public made a democratic decision. It is over now they lost. I answered every single question he did without the bias. I am not an economist[1] and I have not done a great deal of research about the HST. I am just one of those dumb members of the public who shouldn’t be allowed to decide tax policy. Give me a break.
  • There are some seriously impressive women playing hockey for 10 days, 24 hours a day. They are playing in 4-hour blocks all day and night. Why are they doing this? They are raising money for Cystic Fibrosis. When I first heard that Dr. Beth from NTBTWK was doing this I was seriously impressed. Then I started thinking about other fundraisers where women perform amazing feats of physical endurance. I know someone who did the walk to end women’s cancers – 60 km a day, in the blazing heat for 2 days. What possess women to do these things? Sure the have been some great feats by men like Terry Fox and Rick Hanson running and wheeling across Canada respectively. However it does seem to be women who make these incredible commitments. If you haven’t donated please think about doing it.

[1] I’m an historian by training. I hate economics.

Soft-Palate Resection

Piper has her surgery tomorrow. I won’t know any details about it until we meet with the surgeon tomorrow morning. I read over Can-West’s website and it says that Pipes will likely be sedated for 12 hours. She has to stay over night. I am hopeful we can pick her up the next day. I will update tomorrow.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘Good-bye Jack’ Edition

  • Today was Jack Layton’s State Funeral. I couldn’t watch it. I would have cried to hard. At some point, I may be able to watch it but no time soon. I am still shocked and saddened by his death. I wish Olivia and his family well. It is going to be a long hard road for them.
  • Piper goes into Can-West for her soft palate resection on Monday. To say that we are petrified is an understatement. She has had a difficult time with just the anesthetic earlier this week. She has been a sad sack, walking around with her tail down. She has also taken to lying outside in the heat, which of course is the last thing she should be doing. We take her in at 10:15 am, they will do the surgery that day, she will stay over night and come home the next day. I am concerned about her recovery. Hopefully it will go well.
  • After almost 5 years of living in Maple Ridge we have finally arranged for garbage pickup. Deb has been taking everything to the dump. We have a great recycling centre set up and we are recycling absolutely everything we can. We are also going to change some purchasing decisions based on whether the packing is recyclable. We won’t be buying eggs in Styrofoam anymore. It really surprises us that really good, free-range eggs are sold in non-recyclable container. We are hoping to keep the garbage down to 2 cans a week.
The side view.
Cans and Bottles
Plastics Bin
  • My mother appears to have quit smoking with Champix. She has had the odd drag here and there from my sister but she has not had any more. I am very proud of her! I think the last couple of months when she was smoking have really opened her eyes. I am very proud of her!
  • Oh, and to the Smart Tax Alliance – just because the voters didn’t agree with you does not mean they did not understand the issue.

Great Day for Democracy

I am very pleased that BC voters have overturned the HST. The tax, which was implemented without any notice to BCers, was universally hated and had become a beacon of BC Liberal arrogance. In their paternalistic fashion they imposed the tax on us while telling us that it will create jobs and be a ‘revenue neutral’ tax. Most people in the province can do basic math and wondered if they were now paying 7% more for services how on earth could the tax be revenue neutral?

I heard Kevin Falcon on the radio and he was contrite about the results. He actually admitted that they made an error in how they implemented the tax and he felt that the results, in essence, were a slap on the wrist for the BC Liberal Party. He said that it will take 15 months to 2 years to revert back to the PST, GST situation. I am not clear why it would take that long maybe they are hoping to make up some of that 1.6 billion they now have to pay back to the feds.

One of the things that has bothered me throughout this whole campaign and now the results is that the government and the pro-HST business alliances[1] they seem to think voters are stupid. Repeatedly today I kept hearing that tax policy is too complicated for the average voter and that we should not be deciding tax policy by referendum. The BC Liberals showed complete contempt for the voters when they introduced it 3 months after an election. Regardless what the pro-HST forces said the tax was not good for BC. It hit largely services like restaurants and personal care services with an extra 7%. To say that it would not negatively impact families is bogus – almost everyone needs a haircut or wants to eat out now and then. They also never adequately explained how the HST created jobs. They just kept repeating it hoping that repetition is emphasis and we would all just believe it. I still do not know how the HST was supposed to neither create jobs nor, now, kill jobs. The public was not at all stupid – they understood the question.

Now we will have to contend with paying the feds back. Personally, I think the BC Liberal party should have to start fundraising for that but I know it will be us, the lowly taxpayer, who will repay it. The BC Liberals should have put that money aside and not spent it once the opposition to the HST began to heat up. They should have never underestimated Bill Vander Zalm; he has populism down to a science.

The terms of the referendum demand that the sales tax situation in BC be returned to what it was prior to July 1, 2010. I suspect the BC Liberals will introduce changes to increase the reach of the PST as soon as they think they can get away with it. Oh, and wait, what’s that sound? It is the sound of the air being let out of the tires of Christy Clarke’s surprise election call for the fall. She would likely lose.

Chris’s iPod

I think I started this feature some time ago and never really followed up on it. So, without further ado I shall begin with what my friend Joe terms: my musical imperialism!

Matthew Barber

I first heard Matthew Barber on CBC’s On the Coast. Stephen Quinn played ‘I miss you when you’re gone’ and I was hooked. I am not quite sure how to describe Barber. I hear some Dustin Bentall reflected in his music along with that strong Canadian singer-songwriter tradition. Some of his songs are a little alt-country for me. My favourite songs on his self-titled album released this year are ‘Man in a Movie’ and ‘Lexi.’ ‘Man in a Movie’ has excellent, resonating lyrics that I fell in love with the first time I heard it. ‘Lexi’ is a musical triumph. Barber uses guitar and piano to build layers into the song that work really well. I recommend Barber to anyone who loves Canadian singer-songwriter, roots music. You won’t be disappointed.

Natalie Merchant

I love Natalie Merchant’s voice. I have listened to her over the years and just recently added her back into my main playlist. I really enjoy her live stuff like ‘Dust Bowl’ and her cover of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity.’ I remember first hearing Natalie Merchant when she sang lead vocals for the 10,000 Maniacs. There is a quality to her voice that gives anything she sings a great edge.


What is there to say about Adele? She is absolutely phenomenal. I have never heard an artist with a voice like hers. She also knows how to use it like an instrument. Her new album ‘21’ is great. Her songwriting is very mature for her age. I just hope she doesn’t continue to name her albums based on age!

Childhood Dieting

We have known the dangers of childhood dieting for a very long time. Restricting calories in children can cause metabolisms to slow down and impact growth and development. Not all children are overweight because they eat too much. Enter Paul Kramer who has the audacity to write and publish a book called: “Maggie goes on a Diet.”

My first question, the one no one interviewing him seems to want to ask, is: what does a pasty, fat white man know about female teenagers and obesity? Talk about white, male privilege. He feels free to reify beliefs about the obese while clearly being so himself. Why does he think he has the right to exploit young women who are struggling with their weight by writing a prescriptive book for them when he cannot deal with his own weight issues?

We have only seen glimpses from this book. However, what we have seen shows that Kramer does not even understand obesity. He shows a young 14-year old Maggie standing in front of the fridge and eating food for comfort. He gives the bullies a pass by forcing Maggie to change rather than holding those who torment her accountable for their behavior. Perhaps worst of all he demonstrates that once Maggie becomes ‘thin’ and a soccer player she gains a certain amount of fame and people know her name. Implying that Maggie is only worth recognition when she is thin is a horrible message to send to young women. I am sure that Maggie has other things going on for her besides the shape and size of her body. What about her mind or her other accomplishments? The message that women are defined by their bodies is one that has over stayed its welcome.

I was that obese child. I was put on diets from age 8 on. Every time my mother put me on Weight Watchers I gained weight. I was never that child eating in front of the refrigerator at night. I would not have dared eat more than what was provided by my parents. Regardless of what they did or what they restricted I did not lose weight.

I was bullied all the way through school. I can remember having to get home before the bullies knew I left or they would chase me down and beat me up. A woman who lived in our complex would let me come to her house right after school. Her house was closer to the school than ours. I would wait there until everyone had cleared before I went home. I never told anyone about the bullying. I tried to solve the problem myself by staying out of their way and being very quiet. It never worked.

I am incensed that a man has chosen to write a book telling young girls to lose weight. I hate his display of white, male privilege. Obesity is a complicated disease. It is not simply a matter of calories in, calories out. If it were, I would weigh 125 pounds.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘whew she is ok’ edition

  • We have begun the testing for Piper to see what is wrong with her breathing. We are operating under the assumption that she has too much tissue in her soft palate, which is blocking her airway. In preparation for her going under anesthetic tomorrow so they can get a good look at her throat we had blood work done yesterday. Today we found out that some of her liver enzymes were elevated. We did an additional test and the vet thinks that her liver was likely dealing with some toxin. Her liver is functioning fine. So tomorrow we should know the extent of her soft palate and throat issues.
  • It shocks me the depths some people will go. Christie Blatchford[1] wrote the most negative column yesterday about the media’s handling of Jack Layton’s death. However she didn’t just criticize the media, she denigrated the man himself. She even criticized his last letter to Canadians writing “Who seriously writes of himself, “All my life I have worked to make things better”?” I don’t know any other politician who could say that about himself. Is Blatchford that disillusioned that she needed to chastise a dead man’s view of his life? Jack Layton had a reputation to fight for underdog causes whether it was better treatment for people with HIV/AIDS or fighting for ordinary families on the campaign trail recently. I only hope Olivia Chow and Jack’s children Michael and Sarah do not read it. Blatchford should be ashamed of herself.
  • Speaking of Jack Layton, I encourage everyone I know, who supports the NDP, to donate monthly. Would you really miss $10 per month? I know I won’t.
  • I found a great new show on the Oprah network.[2] It is a documentary show called “Our America.’ The host is Lisa Ling and she is fabulous. I have seen two episodes so far one on sex offenders and the other was on internet brides.  I think show will do very well.
  • My ulcerative colitis has really been causing me a lot of pain lately. I have had several days where my pain levels have been through the roof. I fear I may have to lay off the grilled veggies and Holy Crap cereal for a bit.

[1] I am not inserting a ling here because I do not want to send traffic her way.

[2] I swore I wouldn’t watch it but we had it and I am weak.


You would think our dogs had never seen rain. As they were getting ready to go out they got to the edge of the door and you could almost hear the ‘screech’ as they stopped on their little paws. I said: “Get out!!! You need to pee.” They looked at me as though I was sending them into a minefield. The pit bull had the most expressive look – she hangs her head and looks up with pleading eyes that say: “but you don’t understand…it is wet out there. I will diiiieeee if you make me go out.” I told her to get her ass out and pee. She hung her head the whole way. Dogs. I don’t know what I would do without them.