Pictures from The Swamp – the ‘it’s Tru’s Day’

Tru is doing very well! She had a dental late last week. She came through with flying colours. She no longer has a germ-infested, swamp mouth! This is critical as her teeth occasionally make contact with other beings. We have officially adopted Tru! Many thanks to Trina from Chilliwack for rescuing Tru and Big Heart Rescue for stepping up and covering Tru’s vet care!

No more Swamp mouth!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘number 2’ edition

  • I have had a difficult week. I was quite fatigued for most of it. I am feeling better though. I am not sure if I was fighting something off or it might have been my ulcerative colitis. Either way, I doubled down on the sleep and got through the week.
  • I finished one of my biggest tasks of the year at work this week. It is a combination report back on the previous year and an application for the next year. It is an insane amount of work and it takes a Herculean effort to get it to all come together. I had been working fairly steadily on it since mid-February!
  • This week the Clark Government passed back to work legislation on the teachers. In doing so they have further contributed to the erosion of workers’ rights in the province of British Columbia. This government has been doing this kind of thing since they were elected in 2001. They refuse to negotiate instead opting for the bully club. Teachers must have input into their working conditions, which, ultimately, are the learning conditions for children. I sincerely hope we have all had enough of their tactics next year and vote them out!
  • Two years in prison is all the time Graham James received for the sexual assaults of Todd Holt and Theoren Fleury. The Toronto Star reports that Holt and Fleury endured ‘hundreds’ of assaults. If we are conservative and say that each man was subjected to 150 assaults each for a total of 300 it means that James is serving 2.43 days for each assault. Nowhere near enough time in my mind. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse I can tell you that it takes years in therapy to work through it and come out somewhat functional on the other side. James is a predator and should be labeled a dangerous offender so that he never sees the outside again.


Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism or slackervism) is a term formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist.[1]

I am so sick and tired of seeing petitions for this and that. Petitions have never really been effective – even back in the days where people went door to door and got real signatures. The only kind of petitions that have any weight in our political system are ones that have terms of reference defined in law. For example, Bill Van Der Zalm’s petition to get the HST overturned. In this case, legislation sets out how the signatures must be gathered[2], and the petition must be verified.

Signing petitions because you are upset at how sled dogs are treated or you want a community garden on the front of the provincial legislature do nothing and mean nothing. The only thing they do is make people sitting at their computers feel like they are engaged in their society and that by clicking and typing their name in that they made a difference. What really gets me is when Canadians start promoting American petitions like ones asking for universal healthcare. How the signers in Canada can think this will have any effect in the US.

The other, closely related, annoyance is thinks like the Kony2012 event of the past 10 days or so. Ostensibly it sounded like a great idea: fining Joseph Kony who is most certainly guilty of crimes against humanity. His recruitment of children for the LRA is so outrageous it almost defies description. Like willing little sheep, millions of people posted the video on facebook, twitter and other social networking sites. All the while doing this with almost zero critical thought. We are so keen to think that these meaningless actions will get a result that we just click the buttons.

In the internet age, critical thinking is crucial. We cannot just blindly follow what our friends, peers and family members are doing. We must analyze and come to our own decisions. Blindly sharing allows unworthy campaigns to go viral. Groups who want to impact public opinion know exactly how to do it. A video or campaign framed with outlandish statements and a call to arms. It really is that easy. Welcome to the age of Slacktivism.

[2] Online is not acceptable.

Music from The Swamp – the ‘Spirit of the West’ edition

We saw Spirit of the West at the Commodore Ballroom last night. The last time I saw the band perform was in the early 1990s at the University of Calgary cabaret. While certain members of the band have changed, the soul of the group John Mann and Hugh MacMillan remain strong. In fact, I have never seen anyone perform with as much energy as John Mann. He never stops bouncing!

Spirit of the West has such a huge back catalogue it must be a daunting task to pick songs for a live show. They played crowd favourite ‘Home for a Rest’ which had the entire crowd on the floor matching John Mann bounce for bounce singing loudly ‘take me home.’ As a nod to us old timers they played ‘Political’ and ‘Venice is Sinking.’ I probably knew about 75% of the content. I was surprised they did not perform their new single ‘Bulembu.’ We left before the encore so they may have played it then. The outstanding performance of the night goes to their current fiddle player. I can’t remember her name unfortunately. She is young and fabulously talented!

Fish+Bird opened for Spirit of the West. They were ok but seemed to lack some personality. Of course, pretty much any band will seem to lack personality when put up against Spirit of the West.

I liked the Commodore as a venue. We were able to make reservations so we did not have to stand. They kept it quite cool which is a challenge with that many people. My only real complaint is that it is just far too loud. Even when they were playing music before the show started I needed to put earplugs in because it hurt my ears. I can’t imagine how the staff there survives that onslaught.

Reproductive Rights Discourse

There is a war going on. It is being fought on the battlefront of women’s’ bodies. Our uteri have become organs to be legislated and fraught over. We have been deemed too feeble minded to make decisions about when we will engage in sexual activity and with whom. Women making decisions about their sexual lives is coming to an end in the United States. Even though all of this is taking place in another country make no mistake Canada is affected. Pierre Trudeau once astutely pointed out that we are the mouse living beside the elephant and if the elephant rolls over, well you get it.

Many Canadians avidly follow American politics. Given that their elections go on for years[1] they get a lot of airtime and ink (both real and electronic) spilled about their positions. When you factor in blogs and other social media the discourse coming out of the Republican Primaries is powerful. Just look at Sandra Fluke. I am fairly sure most people have either read or heard about what Rush Limbaugh said about her and the subsequent call that Barrack Obama made to her.[2] Even though advertisers have pulled their sponsorship from Limbaugh’s show the damage to women has already begun.

I am sure you are wondering why this matters to us in Canada. It is simple, as regressive and oppressive American politics make their way into the dominant discourse thoughts and opinions are formed. Many Canadians may well believe that women have it pretty good in this country. Abortion is legal and accessible. Contraception is just a visit away from a family doctor. Most Canadians believe that making women’s reproductive health accessible is the right thing to do. The separation of morality from medicine is more common in Canada than in other countries.[3]

If your only source of knowledge about women is the US primary race your view of women would be skewed. According to Republican presidential candidates, women are not to be trusted with decisions about their own reproductive health. Want an abortion? Almost half of States have some kind of legislation that impedes women’s access. These barriers can range from a waiting period, to an ultrasound in which the doctor must ‘explain’ exactly what the fetus looks like and its stage of development. Some states have gone so far as to mandate a ‘trans-vaginal’ ultrasound. Many feminists have correctly identified this as state-sanctioned rape. Women are also seen as the ‘gate-keepers’ to sex and that if sex happens out of wedlock or in other situations it is somehow her fault. It is as though all of women kind is expected to modulate the behavior of men. Last time I checked that didn’t work out so well.[4] And, as any woman knows, if some men really want to rape them it will happen.

What is interesting in the reproductive rights fight in the US is that there is little to no mention of men’s role in sex and reproduction. We all learn in school that it takes both a woman AND a man to create a baby. Men have pretty much unfettered access to drugs to ensure they can have sex long into their later years without any kind of intrusive exam. This is what is so absolutely galling about the Republican candidates positions on reproduction. Sex should be a negotiation between a consenting woman and man. Both should experience the pleasure and the pain of their actions.

Even though women enjoy more reproductive freedom in Canada it does not mean we should rest on our laurels. The presence of US styled misogyny can affect politics here. There are some extremely right-wing Christian religious groups in Canada who try to flex their political power. Often they receive funding from their compatriots in the United States. In fact, our current Conservative government may be receptive their messages – especially at the polls.

The political consequences of the Elephant rolling over are easy to delineate for Canada. What is more disturbing is the affect this has on the dominant discourse. Canadians are being indoctrinated with this negative view of women regardless of the political bent of our current government. As these ideas take hold it becomes easier for people to view women through this same lens. Canadians are the most wired country in the world. Internet penetration here is greater than any other place. This means that we are being exposed to this misogyny at a much greater level. Don’t be surprised if some of these ideas penetrate into our politics. We can only hope that Stephen Harper sticks to his decision about not re-opening the abortion debate in Canada. It would be disastrous for women if he did.

For an excellent overview of the ongoing disaster that is the Republican Primary please see Shakesville.

[1] The primary system whereby each state’s party members have a vote in selecting the candidate for president.

[2] He called her to thank her for standing up for women’s reproductive rights which, ironically, have been steadily eroded under his presidency.

[3] This is true for many things. However, when faced with a fat person, some doctors will attribute everything to weight. Got a hangnail? It’s because you are fat. But I digress…

[4] Foster Friess – who is associated with the Santorum campaign made this suggestion to women.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘It’s Tru’sday’ Edition

Well, it would seem that rumours of Tru’s imminent demise were grossly over stated. Tru is doing very well now. She has had her stitches out and she has had a bath. She is eating well. Her coat has become shiny as a result of grooming and good quality food.[1]We are thinking she may be strong enough to have a dental! Here are some serious Bat Ears!

More eardies!!

We will have to make sure to keep her inside during any windstorms!

[1] Like all canines at The Swamp, Tru has taken to eating raw food very quickly. Oh and she also has a thing for double-chocolate cookies!

Music from the Swamp – the ‘Warren Zevon’ edition

I have loved Warren Zevon ever since I heard Werewolves of London. Zevon, like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, did not have a perfect singing voice. Regardless his music was respected by his peers. Zevon had an incredibly sardonic take on the world and it showed in his lyrics. His song ‘Excitable Boy’ off the album of the same name, which came out in 1978, is a case in point. There are very disturbing lyrics sung to a happy little tune:

Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
Excitable boy, they all said
And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette’s leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy

He took little Susie to the Junior Prom
Excitable boy, they all said
and he raped her and killed her, then he took her home
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy
After ten long years they let him out of the Home
Excitable boy, they all said
And he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy

Zevon’s most popular song was ‘Werewolves of London’ which was also off the ‘Excitable Boy’ album. It is also one of my faves:

There are a couple more standouts from ‘Excitable Boy’

‘Lawyers, Guns and Money’

‘Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner’ is about mercenaries in the African wars in the 1960s. This is a live version from 2003 on the David Letterman show. It was right after Zevon was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Carmelita is one of my favourite songs from ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead:

Right before his death he put out another album, ‘My Ride’s Here’. There is a song he wrote for his wife:

Keep me in your Heart

After his death in 2003, Bruce Springsteen did a cover of ‘My Ride’s Here.’  This is off of a compilation of covers of Warren Zevon songs called: ‘Enjoy Every Sandwich.’ It is a fabulous version!



Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I hate daylight savings time’ edition

  • I really don’t understand why we are still doing this whole daylight savings time thing. When it was first introduced in 1895 and really took hold during World War I. The idea was to save electricity by reducing the use of incandescent bulbs to light evening activities. Surely this is no longer necessary now. Plus since George Bush had the bright idea[1] to stretch out the amount of time we spend in DST, it now starts earlier and ends later. I hate it. It messes with my routine.
  • I had the last of my sedation dental work done on Thursday. This time I seemed to remember way less of that day than before. It also took much longer for me to shed the effects of the medication. I wonder if the medication becomes more effective each time you use it. Anyway, I get the last of my new crowns on Friday. Yippy for me!
  • I have to say that the longer I live with Zoe the more impressed I have become at how she gets her own way by making your life so freaking miserable that you can’t even consider not giving in to her. Case in point – last night we had pizza. Zoe barked and scratched at my chair and me for a good 40 minutes. Finally I gave her some. Then one of the pieces I gave her went under the chair and she would not rest until she got it. She tormented me by almost upsetting my laptop until I got up and flipped the chair up so she could get her damn pizza! There is no hope of ever training this dog. The only reason she will humour us and pee outside is because she gets a treat when she is done. She tries to play us with this as well by going out on the step and coming back in without doing anything. I think we have convinced her that we are all pretty stupid.
  • We have been involved in transporting Miss Pickles between Chilliwack animal control and her foster home in Vancouver. As a surprise, Pickles’ foster mother made some liver cakes for the dogs! Nummy! They really enjoyed them. Here are some pictures of the layered liver cake!
L is for liver. A is for apple. T is for Tru! Tru got her very own cake.

[1] No pun intended.