Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘Opus Hotel’ edition

  • I have a training session tomorrow so we are staying in a hotel tonight. We are at the Opus Hotel. This all came about after the bad experience we had at the Wedgewood. I complained about the hotel on twitter and received an offer to come and stay at the Opus the next time. So we took them up on the offer and discount and here we are. There is really no comparison to the two hotels so I won’t even bother. Suffice it to say we are way happier!
  • Today was my first day back to work. It went very well and it feels good to be back. I am tired though. It was a busy day and my office was in complete disarray. It will take me a while to get it back to a useable form.

My Day

Today was my last day before I go back to work. I had some errands to do and needed to get some stuff ready to go to work tomorrow. I finally managed to get myself to the lab to do blood work. I have been horribly negligent about doing my blood work. I think after a year of going every week I rebelled. I have been feeling fine so I don’t think it will be a problem. However, if anything is out of whack my GP may yell at me. Honestly, I felt like I didn’t really have the energy in August. Plus it was hotter than the hubs of hell out there. Still, I should have gone.

I went to the hardware, which was uneventful. Then I had to go to Save-On to get crack, lettuce for the guinea pigs. They scream so loudly I could hear them from the kitchen. The brain trust at Save-On has decided to rearrange and renovate the store. I don’t understand why. It took me a long time to learn the layout of that store after Extra Foods was shut down due to a strike. Apparently the changes all come down to peanut butter. Yes, you read that correctly, peanut butter. Did you know that peanut butter resides in 3 places in most Save-Ons. Yes, you can find large containers in the bulk food section, regular peanut butter with the jam and natural peanut butter in the natural food sections. They seem to think this is a bad thing. Personally, it is a bad thing for me when I can’t find anything! Perhaps they hope if their customers walk around in confusion long enough they will buy more food.

Wait, there’s more to the Save-On story. As I was leaving, I entered a cross walk and some old man in an old sedan tried to take me out. I am not sure if he saw me but he seemed to speed up as he came towards me. I had to run. When I called 9-1-1, she asked me if there was a chance he didn’t see me. I laughed and said no. The RCMP was going to go and make sure he is ok and maybe have him retested by ICBC. It was a little scary!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I love Netflix’ edition

  • I avoided signing up for Netflix. Then we had the new Apple TV[1] in the house so I tried Netflix. Surprisingly we have been using it a great deal. The picture quality has been excellent and we have not had any issues whatsoever. I bought a Boxee Box to connect us to Netflix. It is kind of like going to the video store without leaving your living room. The bonus part is everyone can look at the listings at the same time and, hopefully, agree on a movie!
  • I am watching a documentary called ‘Critical Condition.’ It is about the state of the US health ‘system’ and the plight of uninsured people. It is absolutely unconscionable that so many people are dying because of the state of US healthcare – if you can even call it that. Imagine not having the money to buy your drugs so you end up in the hospital. I feel so fortunate to be Canadian and living in British Columbia. Between healthcare and pharmacare we never have to worry about the effect of catastrophic illness. We must work diligently to ensure our system stays intact.
  • I am so happy the new season of TV shows is starting! Survivor started last week and on Monday my most favourite show Dancing with the Stars starts! I love this show. I am not really sure why. It is over the top and silly. I love learning about the dances, again I have no idea why.
  • I have been reading a nurse blog[2]. To describe this nurse as the venerable Nurse Ratchet from the movies would be kind. She has little to no empathy for her patients – especially the fat ones. She seems really like to rail on obese people believing that they are all scarfing down buckets of KFC. One of the commenters has basically said that nurses are not generally nice people. Sure, she argued, they could have compassion and empathy but that niceness was not a prerequisite. I was thinking about the nurses I know and the ones I have met when in hospital and I only met one cranky nurse. So, nurses, is it true?

[1] It has now been relocated to my mother’s other house. In all fairness we did buy it for her.

[2] I am not going to link to this blog because I don’t want to send more traffic there.

Nine Hours

I can’t help but reflect of how much better I am doing since I have been off work:

  • When I first went off, I was sleeping 14 hours a day. I felt guilty and literally felt like I had no life. I would wake up, take a shower and be exhausted. Now, I sleep just 9 hours. I wake up and I feel good. This is such a positive change.
  • In July my pain levels were through the roof. I was having many ulcerative colitis symptoms like (TMI warning) diarrhea, blood and mucous. I also had very irregular movements. Now, I am taking a smaller amount of pain medication and I am having virtually no breakthrough pain. This is very good!
  • My appetite is somewhat better. I am usually eating 2 meals a day, which is up from one. I am still not sure what the appetite thing is about. I suspect it is a ulcerative colitis side effect. I am not eating a big variety of foods, which may make transitioning back to work difficult. I don’t want to eat junk or processed foods so I will need to find some healthy things. Deb is going to make me some mini muffins with lots of good things in them.
  • I also have enough energy to start crocheting again. I have ordered an afghan kit from Mary Maxim and in the meantime I am working on this masterpiece!
My newest project!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I guess I am ready’ edition

  • I go back to work on Tuesday. I am feeling better. I am sleeping just 9 hours down from 14. My ulcerative colitis has calmed down and I feel like I have some strength. I had been feeling really stressed before we went to Radium, I now think that stress was related to the trip and not to my return was work. Figuring that out has really helped. I am going to do some things quite differently when I return. I have had a lot of time to reflect and contemplate. I must do this, as the past is not sustainable.
  • Holy freaking cold! Our house has cooled off rapidly from the summer. It seems like we are going to right into winter without having fall, much like we went from winter to summer. I really hope we get an autumn, as it is my favourite season.
  • Dogs are doing well. Zoe just got groomed so she looks like ‘thindy.’ She is so damn cute when she comes back from there. If you have never experienced shihtzuh cuteness you are really missing something!
  • I have some pictures from our trip, which I will try to get up tomorrow. Stay tuned!
  • One more entry into the ‘chick’ debate (here and here). The reason this word is so problematic is that it is gender specific. ‘Chick’ is used to denigrate the position of women in society. It is much like the word ‘boy’ which white people have used to degrade African-American men. Again, it is a word that is used on a specific group.

A little ruckus…

Well it looks like my post yesterday caused a little confusion yesterday. People spend years studying discourse theory[1] and it can be extremely complicated. The thing is that ‘discourse’ or the words we use shape who we are and how we react to people. I am going to try to clarify a few things:

  • Wandering Coyote says she uses the word ‘chick’ in sarcasm or when a woman ticks her off. This is precisely the use of the word that is problematic. ‘Chick’ is a demeaning, derisive and dismissive word. When the word is used it is meant to insult.[2] This is precisely why the word should not be in use. This goes further. When women use it to police other women it can truly take on an ugly form. Just think of how often the appearance of women is debated and discussed. We have all been involved in discussions where we might discuss a woman’s provocative clothing, her choice of shoes or her weight. This policing of women by women is also a by-product of the patriarchy.
  • Sometimes words like ‘chick’ get conflated with other words that have power. Some examples are words like queer and dyke. When these words are used against people they are powerful however when people reclaim they become equally powerful. These words are different from the word ‘chick’ in particular.
  • Christine wonders why I think the word ‘chick’ refers to baby chickens and not other baby birds. The thing is it doesn’t really matter what kind of baby bird women are being referred to when the word ‘chick’ is used a woman is being equated with an infantile bird. Personally, I find this insulting.

Just remember whenever women are devalued and demeaned by the word ‘chick’ it serves to lessen the power of women in our society. At first glance this word may seem innocuous; it is anything but. Use of the word reifies the patriarchy and puts women in a place below men. In the 21st century this is simply not acceptable.

[1] I did my MA thesis on discourse theory.

[2] I am really not meaning to pick on the Wandering Coyote here.

The power of a word

Words carry a great deal of power. This is particularly true when you are talking about words that are misogynistic. The case in point today: the word ‘chick’ used to describe a woman. Whenever I see women referred to as ‘chicks’ or ‘broads’ or any other derogatory term, I am disgusted. These words are symptoms of the patriarchy and the misogyny that fuels it. These words are all part of a systemic level of discrimination against women.

Misogynistic words form the foundation of the rape culture[1] that exists in our society. When children learn that it is ok to refer to women in such derogatory ways a very clear message is sent. Boys learn that they are better than girls and that really girls can be equated with young barnyard animals. Girls learn that they will not receive the respect they deserve and that they are not equal. This creates a power differential that allows women to be criticized on every front.

Quite often when I confront these things I am told that I am being too politically correct. What garbage! Our culture is rife with misogyny. If I pointed every incident of misogyny I would never have anything else to do. Use of this language by men who believe they are enlightened is even more disturbing.

When confronted, these misogynists will argue that none of their other female friends found it offensive. This argument is a complete non-starter. Perhaps they don’t respond because they don’t want to experience the same abuse I get when I say something.

There is a solution to this problem. It begins with children. It requires that adults not refer to women in derogatory ways. Children pick this up and then they feel free to do it themselves. It is never acceptable to refer to a woman as a ‘chick.’

[1] Check out this link.

Man’s Best Friend

By Allison Gamble

Who doesn’t picture the perfect picket fence house with a puppy in the front yard? Animals are a huge part of most cultures, and dogs are one of the most popular pets in America, for Animals are integrated in the general population of the world with dogs and cats as the most popular and well-known animals in America. It doesn’t take a psychology degree to know the product of much of the research into the relationship between people and their pets: pets help with human emotional well-being. It has become common knowledge that animals are beneficial to mental health, whether they are certified therapy cats in nursing homes or service dogs attending to patients in hospitals. But the answer still begs to be answered: why is a dog man’s best friend?

Whether they are employed as service dogs or life long companions, dogs are known for their service and loyalty through a long history and strong connections to our ancestors. Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years. Their story with man starts over 15,000 years ago. Originally, the wild dogs lived with man for food and warmth. That eventually evolved into friendship with man.

Where did that loyalty come from? The answer is “coevolution.” Coevolution is when two or more species affect each other’s evolution. It is believed that 90% of all domesticated dogs in today’s world originated from three early female wolves. When these canines had litters, the litters were raised with humans, by canines. That resulted in the first domesticated dog.

With such an intimate history, it is only natural to seek to study and understand that connection. Alicia Stribling, a psychology student at Clemson University, did research on regular interaction with pets and how it affects general happiness. Pets provide unconditional love and function as a friend and companion. They help humans gain trust, independence, and empathy towards other people.

As Alicia Stribling put it, pets play a major part in teaching humans emotions and empathy towards others. Ever watch a kid cry after scraping his knee? His beloved family dog rushes to his side, allowing himself to be hugged. The dog allows the child to hold him until he’s no longer crying. That teaches the kid to hold out a hand to others who have fallen. Ever watch a dog get swatted on the behind for getting into the trash? That dog may sulk away, only to come back immediately with tail wagging, the owner immediately forgiven. That teaches people (or reminds them) to forgive others and not to hold grudges.

There is no question about it. Animals have a positive impact on humans’ brains and emotions. That is why they are integrated in humans’ lives. The bounding black lab or the gentle Great Dane teaches people to appreciate life. Who can ignore the happiness that radiates from a border collie? All breeds continue to teach us one important lesson: life is good.


Finally the RCMP has arrested alleged child abduction suspect Randell Hopley. Of course the RCMP had a little help from Taz the dog. Dogs have such an amazing relationship with people. I still think there is way more to this story than the RCMP are stating. There was some discussion about an accomplice but the RCMP at a press conference rescinded that this afternoon. It is going to take a long time for the truth to come out.

Speaking of our relationship with dogs, I would like to introduce Allison Gamble, a guest blogger here at Dispatches from the Swamp. Here is her bio and I will post her blog tomorrow.

Allison Gamble has been a curious student of psychology since high school, though her love for animals dates back much farther to elementary school. In the first grade, she renewed the dictionary of dogs so many times, her parents decided it would be less expensive to buy her a dog than to incur further late fees. Today, she brings her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet marketing in Seattle.

Check back tomorrow!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘ahhh, I’m home’ edition

  • We left Kamloops around noon today. I love the drive from the desert down to the coast where things are greener. I watched the temperature slowly decrease to finally 23 degrees when we got home. The transition makes me very happy and it is why I call this place home.
  • It was so nice to see the other dogs when we got home. Kiefer came running up to me and his tail was swishing back and forth. Zoe was thrilled as well to see us too! Sawyer apparently did a somersault when he saw Sienna.[1] Later they were crazy playing later and Sawyer got the zoomies.[2] Watching the dogs play is better than TV.
  • I am so looking forward to my bed tonight! After almost a week of sleeping in a twin bed it will be nice to be able to spread out. I have also missed my heating pad that stays on all night. I sleep with it on low and it really helps my pain levels. Plus it will be nice to sleep in our cool air-conditioned room!


[1] I didn’t witness it.

[2] His zoomies are hysterical. He tucks his little bum in and off he goes, darting from place. Sometimes he wipes out as he goes around the corner and loses his footing.