Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘why are people so freaking stupid’

  • Today the CBC ran a report about drunk driving. Apparently, since the changes were made to the impaired driving legislation,[1] the number of impaired driving charges has been cut in half. While this is good news, it is not good enough. Drunk drivers are inherently selfish people and driving under the influence is the ultimate selfish act. Choosing to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol should not even be an option. People who do this have a serious problem with their moral compasses. I would love to hear from people who have their cars impounded because they blow over .05 just exactly why they did it. Do they lack problem-solving skills? Can they not decide to leave their cars at the office, go drinking and take a cab or transit home? What about forming drinking clubs and rotate a designated driver. If people can take the time to plan to go out drinking why can’t they take the same amount of time to make sure they will not kill someone on their way home. I think we need to change the licensing criteria in this country. Before someone is given a driver’s license they should have to watch videos delineating the trauma people go through after a drunk driver has killed someone they love. Failing that – every car should be equipped with a Breathalyzer that the driver must blow into. If the driver has been drinking then the car will not start. It would be a small inconvenience to pay to prevent drunks on our roads. </rant>
  • Clio’s health has deteriorated over the last couple of days. Her appetite is down but she is still eating cooked steak, which is great. She is sleeping a lot more and seems more unsteady on her feet. She is not coughing so I suspect her kidneys are crapping out due to the Lasix. So far she is not vomiting nor does she seem to have diarrhea. We will monitor her closely and take her in to the vet’s if she is in distress. We will try to avoid taking her in as it really distresses her. We may arrange for the vet to come here instead. We are not quite there yet. Clio is a fighter. From the minute she was born, this dog has had to fight. Born blind and brain-damaged, Clio struggled. From what we can tell, Clio was left to languish in a crate and rarely (if ever) let out.[2] Ironically, the best thing that happened to her was when she was tossed from a moving vehicle. She was then picked up by a kind person and taken to the Vancouver Animal Shelter. It was then that she came home with Deb. Originally not even sure she would survive she was so distressed. She was almost completely feral. She had never known the kindness of a human tough. By the time she understood people and had formed relationships with us it was too hard to let her be adopted out. I couldn’t imagine her feeling like we had abandoned her, so Clio was a foster failure. Clio became a member of the pack. Clio has never been an easy dog. She bites if you try to groom her. She rarely sits still when she wants to be held but there is something about her chutzpah that I have admired for over 10 years. Clio is a fighter and she is not ready to give up yet.


[1] This would be the legislation that saw consequences for driving under the influence begin at .05. There was a great deal of protest around this change from restaurants and bars as people may not stop at happy hour and have a couple of drinks before they go home.

[2] The backyard breeders who did this to her deserve to rot in hell forever.

Big things

Today, big things and specifically big, slow things have been the bane of my existence. Today driving was an absolute chore. There are days when you just long to break away from all the traffic and at least get a little but of time when one can travel unimpeded by all the traffic. Most days, I get this freedom at least during part of my commute. Today? Not so much.

We live in far country. This is the time of year when the farmers with big blueberry fields start moving their equipment around. Most of the equipment is big and today it was really, really big. I don’t know what type of machine it was and getting around it was impossible. So we drove slowly, very, very, slowly.

Then I got caught in normal slow traffic, the trucks, and the people who drive in tandem so no one can get by. All the way on the Mary Hill Bypass, it felt like my legs were just dying to break free and press the pedal to the metal! Then there was an ambulance, parked horizontally across a lane and a half. It took forever for everyone to get past the ambulance.

Finally, I got on the highway. It was also backed up. After a while, I saw some flashing lights. Up ahead, there was a wide load that was travelling in both lanes of the highway! Seriously, both freaking lanes! I contemplated going into the HOV lane to get by but I just can’t break the law in such an obvious way. It was so utterly painful. The truck kept varying speed, which made it even more difficult to handle. Thankfully, I was going to the doctor and I got off on Willingdon.

There are days I really hate my commute.

It’s a Ranty Kind of Day

  • First up, John Baird is Minister of Foreign Affairs. This means that he will now be able to insult people all over the world. Yay! Hasn’t he done enough damage as Minister of Immigration oops! Jason Kenney was and I think remains as Minister of Immigration? My only hope is that his international counterparts will impress upon him our obligations to accept refugees.
  • What can we say about Dorothy Parvaz? She is the Al-Jeezera reporter who had the bright idea of trying to go into Syria with an expired Iranian passport. She sounds shocked about what she heard and saw in Syria – particularly hearing people being tortured. She complains about being handcuffed and blindfolded. What the fuck did she think would happen? What is further confounding is the media don’t seem to be saying how bad of an idea it was to go to Syria on an expired Iranian passport.
  • And what rant day here would be complete without a driving rant. I think about 10% of the people who drive have no idea what those funny lines on the road are for. At least 3 times a drive for the last several weeks, I have been contending with people in my lane. It is really annoying the hell out of me to say the least.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I have a wish edition’

    • Seriously, I have a wish. I wish that I could immediately send people to driver rehabilitation by just pointing my finger. Today was a banner day on our roads people. I watched 2 trucks occupy both lanes on the #1. There was maybe a difference of 2 or 3 km per hour, which meant it was interminably, slow to get past the slowest truck. By the time another truck got by, he was so impatient that he almost took out a car making a lane change. I think they both forgot the incontrovertible law that 2 masses cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Then there was the asshole who cut me off, just before 1st avenue where they have to yield and only 1 in 100 actually do it.
    • I can’t believe how late the cherry blossoms are this year. Usually this is what our driveway looks like in April. We get to walk on a lovely carpet of cherry blossoms!
Cherry Blossoms
A shot of the trees
  • Jack Layton said something quite funny today on CBC’s ‘As it Happens.’ He seems to be charging the women, who were elected for the NDP, to make the House of Commons more civil. I really cannot stand that kind of stereotyping. I am not sure if he thinks it will be more civil because the elected men folk won’t use such bad language and swing insults or he thinks women are not capable of insulting others. Either way, it’s an insult to women. Just like men, women can be insulting and use bad language. It is really up to individuals to behave more civilly rather than putting the onus on one gender.
  • Jack Layton said something I liked. He was asked about how he managed the campaign with so much energy given that he is recovering from cancer and a broken hip. He said that he drew inspiration from all the Canadians who are working with chronic diseases. I really liked that acknowledgement because it is not easy to get up and do it every day when you need a nap after your shower. There are days when it takes everything I have to go to work. My ulcerative colitis and Deb’s MS really knock us out.
  • Why does the cat get mats when we go away? It never fails. She gets to stay home with someone she knows so I really don’t get it. She hates when I remove her mats. It is a serious negotiation. She tried to bite me tonight too.

Swampy Rant – things that are getting on my nerves

I think I just started a new series!

OK, here we go:

  1. I am not looking forward to seeing my mother. My weight is fluctuating and I feel fat. She will say something mean and I will be hurt. In my mind, I see myself asking her why she would say such hurtful things to me. I hope I can do it. I really wish she would just piss off about my weight. I do not say mean things about her smoking.
  2. The NDP “orange crush” – it was not a ‘crush’ that indicates overall support for the NDP. Like everyone who has voted NDP my entire life, I was thrilled with the seat count and the Official Opposition status. However, this is not real and meaningful change. This is one fickle province changing party en masse. Yes, Jack Layton has done a great job but we need to be mindful of what the election results really mean. The NDP is not going to win the next election.
  3. Trucks – has anyone noticed that big trucks seem to be blocking 2 lanes all the time? Seriously, it is becoming a huge problem on the Pitt River Bridge and the Maryhill Bypass. I can’t stand it. There is no way to get around them; they just travel side-by-side like motorcyclists! Isn’t there a law against this?
  4. Back on to the election – I am so freaking afraid of what Stephen Harper is going to do! I heard he is already making noise about going after In-Site – which is horrible*. Why on earth would you want to close down a place that saves the government money? If an addict ODs on bad heroin (hmmm, don’t we have some of that going around right now??) and a nurse gives her/him something to counteract it – the person does not die nor do they need extensive hospitalization. In-Site is compassion in action and Stephen Harper must ferret that out wherever it lives.

*Edited May 10, 2011 – I used a word in this post that was offensive. I have changed the word and I apologize to anyone I offended. I will make best efforts to not do this again.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘what to blog about’ edition

Some days there is nothing to blog about and other days there are so many topics swirling around my head I have no idea where to start. Today is one of those days. I could blog about the 11-year old boy who Prince George RCMP tasered. I could also blog about a little ally work I did today.[1] Or I could blog about the topic that his gripped us all here at the Swamp for the past 2 weeks. Knowing me, I may end up blogging about all three!

First up – Deb has had an ongoing saga with her driver’s license since our doctor pulled it a couple of months ago. We determined that the problem was a medication issue. She went off that medication and things got better. She went for testing at a special program and passed everything including a road test. We thought all was fine.

At the beginning of January we received a letter telling her that she had to go for an ICBC road test and to expect another letter in 30 days telling her how to book it etc. Immediately, she went up and took her stuff from the other program.[2] We then heard nothing more and thought that the issue was resolved. Or so we thought. We received another letter at the end of March advising her that her license would be cancelled if she did not immediately book a road test. We went up again and luckily we had one of those civil servants[3] who really helped us. She advocated with the Solicitor General that it was not surprising that we didn’t get a letter because se had one of those boxes that get broken into all the time. We went with it.

So Deb went for her road test about 10 days ago. Sadly, she did not pass. Basically, she was told, she was a good driver with bad habits.[4] At this point, they took her license and she had a yellow sheet of paper that only allowed her to drive with a supervisor. We spent the last week and a half with me trying to help her and improve some skills. After her second bout of optic neuritis, she stopped partially setting up for a right-hand turn before she stopped. There were some other things we worked on too. The miracle here is that we didn’t end up getting divorced.

We went up this morning for her road test. Initially she was relieved because she didn’t get the same examiner. Imagine my surprise when they return 5 minutes later. Basically the examiner couldn’t stand the dog smell in Deb’s truck so we had to go back home and get my car. All of this, of course, just increased Deb’s anxiety levels. Thankfully though she passed!!! We hope this brings an end to the driver’s license saga of 2010/2011!



[1] Check back tomorrow for this one!

[2] The same program the province uses to

[3] There are 2 kinds of civil servants – those who go out of their way to help you and those who go out of their way not to help you.

[4] Has anyone out there ever heard of doing a right shoulder check when turning right??

I ask Questions…

1.     This is a serious question. I was driving home the other night and I came upon an RCMP officer attempting to get someone out of his truck. I couldn’t tell if the guy was intoxicated and was falling over as the officer was supporting his torso while his legs were still in the pedal area. It seemed to me that at any moment this guy could begin to fight back and the officer might be thrown into oncoming traffic. I immediately slowed down to a crawl but I wondered if I should have stopped to prevent him potentially being struck? Or assist him by calling 911 for more help? Does anyone know what a motorist should do in a situation like this? Does anyone know? What would you do?

2.     Are you a disappointed Canadian? I have been asking this questions all day and most people look at my like I am in idiot. Those of you who are politically aware or who happened to catch a newscast today would understand that question.[1] So, I have yet to find a disappointed Canadian. I ask: are you a disappointed Canadian?

3.     Was today ‘no signal light’ day? I have to say, I must have seen about 8 vehicles today weaving in and out of traffic and not signaling. It was absolutely craziness! Did anyone else notice this?

[1] When the federal government today Stephen Harper said he was disappointed and he knew that many Canadians are too.

At least learn to merge…

I know, another driving rant. What can I say? I spend a minimum of 1.5 hours per day on the road and drivers here are some of the worst I have ever seen. My driving day started off behind a little old man who was going 40 km an hour in Maple Ridge. Very. Freaking. Frustrating. I was running late trying to get to a dental appointment. Finally, I passed him. Old men in hats are almost always a problem.

After I left the dentist office I got stuck behind another convey. As I was passing htat car, I looked at the driver and lo and behold he was talking on his cell phone. I will admit that I speed but seriously I would never talk on my handheld phone (I have a Bluetooth!). Once I got to the highway, I was treated to the usual no signal lane changes, being cut off and/or being stuck behind some yahoo.

Just as I was almost at First Ave, some idiot didn’t merge properly. Like dominos, the little lemmings who were behind him wouldn’t/couldn’t merge around him. Then the minivan in front of me decided to stop, on the highway, to let the three of them merge. So now we had a comedy of errors involving four people who don’t know what to do for a merge and the possibility of collisions happening. Thankfully I am mostly not a distracted driver and I leave more than adequate following distance.

As I was driving away from the merge morons, I flashed back to the merge instruction signs they use to move around in Calgary. First of all the signs would point out the merge lane, then tell the merging traffic to speed up or slow down to use a gap in the traffic. Then there were instructions for the traffic on the highway to move over or make a gap. I loved those signs! I wish we had them here.

On another note, I noticed the complete lack of reporting about SNOWmaggedon today on the news. Does anyone know if it happened? I am guessing the mayhem was nowhere near what was predicted. Or maybe someone just realized that SNOW in February in Canada is not news!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘what are they thinking’ edition

  • I was out and about doing some errands today. It was snowing lightly and quite cold. I noticed not one but two women wearing flip-flops in January! What the hell are they thinking? I also saw one woman in capris and others not wearing any kind of coat. Seriously, people, it is January in Canada. Even though winters here are mild it seems as soon as people see the sun they think it is summer.
  • I parked on a hill today. I was facing upwards so I turned my wheels out in case my e-brake failed. I was looking at all of the other cars parked on the same street and they had all of their wheels going the opposite way. Did was not all learn how to turn our wheels on a hill so the car would just roll back and hit the curb. Apparently the only lesson many drivers learned was how to park on a downward facing hill.
  • In the last couple of weeks I seem to be having less fatigue. I think the reason is that I have less active colitis going on. Even this weekend, I did not sleep past noon, which is a miracle. It certainly is giving me a few more hours in the day. Even though the fatigue is less, the pain level has been higher. I have not been fighting constipation any more and with more movement, there is more pain. I am also finding that my joints are hurting more lately too. Life with ulcerative colitis is so much fun!


What is wrong with people on our roads?

There is something about the rain that makes some drivers completely and utterly stunned in Vancouver. Between the heavy snowfall warning and the rain it seemed like people forget how to drive. Seriously, what the hell happens in their little heads when they almost kill someone or me!

I am going to get a little geographical here so those of you not living in the rain forest are free to skip over it. Anyway, I was driving up Hastings Street, going to the highway. I was in the right-hand lane and some asshole, who was in the centre lane wanted to get into my lane. What was his solution? Why he just moves over. No signal. No shoulder check. Just. Move. Over. I have to slam on the brakes and lay on the horn. So, what did the asshole do? Why he went back into the centre line. We proceed a little further and he does it again! Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

So fast-forward about 2 km and now I am on the #1 heading east. I was just past the Grandview on-ramp when there was an entitled idiot trying to get out from behind someone who was moving slow. So, what does he do? He turns on his hazard lights and cuts me off. I was so stunned I couldn’t even honk!

Like negative things, idiots also appear to come in threes. I had just gotten on to Old Dewdney Trunk road. It was dark and raining and there are no streetlights. So what does idiot #3 do? He passes like 5 cars on a double solid yellow line!! I later observed passing a bunch more vehicles further up the road. What part of driving for the conditions and obeying lines on the road did this freak not understand?

I really, really, really wish I did not have to commute!