Today in Politics

I love the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). Today the SCC ruled that closing Vancouver’s supervised injection site would be a violation of peoples’ Charter rights. Basically, it would deny addicts access to heath care that helps keep them safe while they inject the drugs to which they are addicted. More importantly, Insite offers its clients a way out of drug addiction, if they choose. And really, what it all comes down to is choice. Just because people on Vancouver’s DTES are addicted to drugs does not mean that they are lesser citizens of the country. They have a right to appropriate health care for them. If that means that a nurse watches them shoot up to make sure they do it safely and that they do not contract blood-borne diseases then so be it. Apparently the number of new HIV infections among injection drug users is down as are serious infections and other diseases. In spite of the research and the evidence of the positive outcomes of Insight, the Harper Cons do not believe that drug addicts are really people, entitled to appropriate medical care. Luckily for us, the SCC does not have such ideology influencing their decisions.

Has anyone been listening to our Premier Christy Clark lately? I think she is a Stepford-Premier. She is always so happy, happy, happy! And what is making her so happy you ask? Well, it would seem that she is really, really optimistic. Optimistic about what one might ask? Well, we are not really sure. It would seem that she is sure good times are just around the corner. Today speaking to the Union of BC Municipalities convention she gave this speech in which she announced 30 million dollars to help municipalities with recreation facilities. Seriously, we are going to build more swimming pools and arenas when children go to school hungry, without proper clothing and without school supplies. Did she not see the coverage Carrie Gelson received when she sounded the alarm about the state of children in inner-city schools? While recreation facilities are important to communities as they give people a place to exercise and socialize, I suspect most people would be quite happy to see that 30 million go into fixing the problems Carrie Gelson highlighted. One has to ask where starving, ill-clothed children fit in to Christy Clark’s ‘families first’ agenda?

Still on our ebullient premier, it would seem she does not really have control over her ministers. This became apparent today when Mike de Jong mused about charging smokers higher health premiums. Of course this is a complete non-starter as it would be a slippery slope. It is the same thing as when doctors muse about charging an obesity-tax on fat people. The argument, as far as it goes with smokers, is that smoking is a choice and therefore smokers should pay for the health care they are doing to need when they get cancer. Smokers already pay more taxes than non-smokers through the taxes governments collect on the sale of cigarettes. What is bizarre in all of this is a senior minister floating this idea without getting the approval of the premier. Perhaps there are cracks in the veneer?

Oh, and Clifford Olsen is dead. I hope the families of his victims get some measure of peace knowing that he is finally dead and can no longer apply for parole.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the “I hate traffic” edition

  • Being back to work has been mostly ok. I have managed the week, including an early training day. But the traffic has been outrageous. I have fought it both ways except this morning. It appeared to be the rain that caused people to forget how to drive. Never mind, it is just Metro Vancouver drivers for which there is really no explanation.
  • Speaking of Metro Vancouver, they have voted to ban smoking in all public parks. They tried to do this about 6 months a go at which time they decided it was not necessary. I am not really sure what has changed to cause them to bring it forth again. I don’t spend a lot of time in parks. But I have friends who have children and I bet they are happy to hear that smoking will be banned. The new law will come into effect in January 2012.
  • So we have been hearing this very strange noise over the last couple of months. At first I ignored it thinking it was something to do with the neighbours. But it has been getting louder and louder. So then we started thinking perhaps we had a pump for our city water. I didn’t really think this was possible but who knows what goes on at the Swamp. I finally remembered to call the plumber today. He thinks it is something called a water hammer. Apparently this part reduces the pressure from the city water source before it comes into the house. While it is not an electrical part, it can vibrate loudly when it needs to be replaced.
  • My poor mother. She really can’t win. Today a bus scraped up the entire side of her car. She then had to chase down the bus, as the driver didn’t know he had swung wide and scraped her vehicle. Quite a stressful day for a 75-year old woman!
  • My ulcerative colitis has been behaving quite well over the last couple of weeks. I have had virtually no breakthrough pain whatsoever. However, I have been dealing with an incredible amount of joint and muscle pain. My shoulders and arms have been seriously painful at times. My knees have been in the rotation as well. Yesterday my jaw started to hurt. It was so painful last night I am not sure how I was able to sleep. Today, I can’t seem to make my back teeth meet on the right side. I can’t win.

Dispatches from the East Kootenays – the ‘miracles can exist’ edition

  • Well we did an early birthday party for my sister yesterday. She was thrilled. She said to me this morning that the party made her feel very special after she had been so mean to me. I just about fell over.
  • We had a great dinner last night. Most of it was from locally sourced MR food. We had Hopcott tenderloin steak that we brought frozen in the cooler and Chilliwack corn that was fabulous. My mother had balked at me bringing the steak saying that she had M&M filets wrapped in bacon. Well once you have had a Hopcott steak there is no going back to M&M’s subpar beef. I am not quite sure how they kill a filet mignon but they manage. I am guessing most people like them because they are slightly better than the blade steak you buy at the grocery store. I managed to BBQ them perfectly medium rare for everyone. We had nice baking potatoes with bacon bits, sour cream, cheese and green onions. Deb also picked up a nice cake for her.
  • I think my brother-in-law has Stockholm Syndrome. He commented that my mother wasn’t so bad now that he has gotten to know her personality. Well, considering it has been 10 years – he is a slow learner! Yesterday he was quite sick because he basically had sugar for breakfast. He is an insulin dependent type 2 diabetic. This morning I made him a protein breakfast, which seemed to work much better for him.
  • I have convinced yet another person to try the NeilMed Sinus Rinse bottle. George[1] seems to have a lot of problems with his nasal passages. He does live with a smoker which I am sure does not help the situation.
  • Speaking of George, I have never seen anyone take so many naps. He napped twice yesterday afternoon and told me he couldn’t sleep last night because he was overtired!! He is not very self-aware. Even after brunch today, he went back to bed for a bit.
  • Tonight we are going to Helna’s for dinner. It is the only restaurant in Radium where you are not likely to get food poisoning. It is mostly a schnitzel restaurant. It is quite good but I can’t eat the large portions they serve. I just checked the menu and they even have a veggie section for Deb!

[1] My brother-in-law.

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.

It’s a Ranty Kind of Day – Smoking in Metro Vancouver Parks

There are so many things I could rant about today like my mother, work, illness, traffic, life in general. Sadly, I am not free to rant about what I really want to rant about unless I password protect it and I don’t really like to do that. So, I will rant about yet another CBC BC Almanac call in program. Generally, the quality of these programs is a little bit higher than you would normally hear on commercial radio. That statement was true until today. I really felt bad for Mark Forsythe today!

The topic of the second part of the show was Metro Vancouver considering a ban on smoking in all parks, beaches and campgrounds. (you can listen here) The guest Mark had on was Langely City Councillor Gayle Martin who chairs the parks committee. After Mark introduced her and her position, he asked her to comment on the issue. It went downhill from there… Her first response was that she was against it – plain and simple. She sees it as an imposition on the rights of people to do something that is legal. She actually used the following analogy: you wouldn’t tell a fat person to stay off the trails because they sweat and then they smell would you? I just about choked.

Then the calls started. Most callers did not agree with the ban and saw no reason for it. What really struck me was the complete lack of sophistication in the views being put forth. Martin kept saying things like: most smokers would not light up in front of a swing set in a kids’ park. When the issue of allergies was brought up she asked why should someone with health issues trump a smoker’s right to smoke? It was utterly bizarre. She could not seem to figure out that for some people, cigarette smoke is a serious hazard. Then there were the people who equated smoking with driving a car. If you drive a car, their argument goes then you have no right to criticize a smoker. Other callers suggested that tobacco companies be outlawed and tobacco made illegal if people were not going to be allowed to smoke wherever they want.

One of the things that was completely missed was the effect on children seeing people smoke. If I had children, there is no way I would want them to be anywhere someone was smoking. It just would not happen. I wouldn’t want them breathing in second-hand smoke, nor would I want them thinking that smoking was acceptable. I am an ex-smoker so I really do not buy into the idea that smokers can be considerate with their addiction. I was a smoker and I was never considerate to anyone. It was clear to me that if you were in my car or my house I was going to smoke and I didn’t really care if you objected.

I hope Metro Vancouver adopts a bylaw that bans smoking in parks, campgrounds and beaches. We do not need the next generation thinking that smoking is cool. People should be free to go to public areas, all supported by our mutual tax dollars, and not have to risk their health so that addicts can engage in their addiction.

Yet another driving rant

I am really beginning to hate driving. Let me re-phase, I like driving I just hate sharing the road with all of the assholes on it. From the aggressive to the ambivalent to the downright stupid it really just gets to be too much.

Today, as I was waiting at a light to get on to the Mary Hill Bypass this SUV cuts in front of the vehicle in front of me. The guy driving was quite annoyed. Then the interloper SUV goes way less than the speed limit in the left-hand lane? Why do people do this? Newsflash – the left-hand lane is for passing! What is even stranger is that after 10 cars have gone past and around her she was completely oblivious! After I changed lanes to pass, I looked over and she was engaged in conversation and didn’t even notice that so many cars had passed her on the right.

Then on the same part of the drive a seriously fucked up asshole threw a lit cigarette butt out of the window. Does he not realize that the grass and forest on the Mary Hill Bypass are still tinder dry in spite of a little bit of rain? Why do smokers think they can use the world as their ashtray? Cigarette filters are full of toxic chemicals and fibre glass which will then leach into the environment. Smoking is a disgusting habit why can’t they keep their butts to themselves?

Things I will never understand

My Mother. She tops the list of things I will never understand. She has quit smoking which is great. Now she is trying to badger my sister into doing it as well. It is not a pretty sight. She has been riding her to set a quit date and telling her how to do it. My sister has started to get mad at her* because of this behaviour. This is not surprising as my mother’s personality is such that if she is suffering then everyone should also suffer. When we were kids, if my mother was up we all had to be up. If she was in a pissy mood then she made sure that we were also in a pissy mood.

Yesterday I was talking to her and she told me that she had been out with my sister (Kathy) all day. They had gone shopping etc and when they got back to the car she asked Kathy to light a cigarette so she could smell it. Then she asked her for a cigarette and Kathy said she did not have any. She relayed all of this to me and I became concerned because she has just dropped down from 21 mg of nicotine to 14 mg. I suggested that she may have dropped down to abruptly and that perhaps she needed to add some more nicotine to the mix. I have been very supported of my mother through this process. I have given her tons of support, advice and listened to her vent. I am invested in seeing her succeed as the results will not be good.

After arguing with me for a while about why she thought she didn’t need more nicotine she told me it was a test for my sister. I said exactly what kind of test – to see if she would give you a cigarette? My mother said no. After going around and around this she finally said it was a test to see if she was still smoking. Yes, you read that right. My mother asked my sister for a cigarette to determine if my sister was still smoking. I could not believe it.

Finally, I said to my mother, I have a really good way for you to find out if she is smoking. My mother got all excited and squealed for me to tell her. I said why don’t you phone her, wait for it, and ask her! You know use your communication skills. If you want to know something ASK!!!

I deserve a freaking medal for having survived this fucked up family!

*And for good reason.

Dispatches from the Swamp

First thing: I love Billy the Exterminator! If you are not watching this show I highly recommend it! I love his attitude towards his job. He never wants to kill anything unless there is no choice. Plus if he has to kill things he tries to use non-toxic stuff to do it. He live traps and releases most of the animals he has to deal with rather than killing them this includes snakes, raccoons and alligators.
Second thing: I finally got the Logitech remote set up. The manual said it would take 30 minutes. It was more like 8 hours! My setup included following the instructions step-by-step and getting on to a help forum when some things would not work. Plus I put in a tech support request to Logitech on Thursday and I still have not heard from them. The good thing is that Deb can now watch what she wants with generally clicking one button.
Third thing: our house is large with angles and hallways and a second floor. It is hard for the wireless network to reach everywhere especially given the fact that the router lives in my office which is at one end rather than in the middle. After doing some research I decided to get an Airport Express to extend the network into the living room and upstairs. I had a little glitch setting it up as the computer had trouble picking it up. I got it on the second try. Hopefully we will have strong internet throughout the house now.
Fourth thing: today the Turtle Gardens bus arrived with 8 dogs going to new homes! Stan and Yvette travelled through the night and arrived here around 10 am. The adoptive families came here and picked up their new additions. Congratulations to the dogs and families!
Fifth thing: our house is so different without Gemma in it. Living with dogs who have to be separated for safety reasons creates stress for the dogs and the humans. 
Invariably someone is always where they don’t want to be – they think the grass is greener on the other side of the gate. There is lots of barking which stresses the dogs and the humans. Since Gemma has been gone everything has been quiet, very quiet. We now have a group of dogs who, for the most part, get along with each other. There are a few intolerances like Molly does not want to share the same air space with Sawyer and Sawyer kind of gets on Kiefer and Madison’s nerves. Mostly what we are dealing with though is just puppy/teenager behaviour which, bothers the older ones.
Sixth thing: my Mother has now gone 11 days without a cigarette! Yay Mom! If anyone knows of any great inspirational websites please send me links! I am getting desperate here.
That’s it for today catch you all on the flip side!


My mother’s latest health scare has convinced her of the need to quit smoking. She landed in the hospital last week with pneumonia and unable to breathe. My mother is deathly afraid of needles and the thought of being in a hospital literally scares the shit out of her. Right now, the experience is very fresh. They needed to put an IV into her hand and they had a hard time doing it. Apparently it took 3 tries before it was done. She is now looking at her hand, which is all bruised and her resolve is strong.

I worry for her though because she is setting up quitting smoking as an all or nothing proposition. I am not sure that will work for her. If she believes she fails if she has one cigarette it will be very easy for her to start again. After all, if in her mind she thinks she has failed it will be very easy for her to just keep on smoking. Instead I am trying to encourage her to think of it in a different way and to be forgiving to herself if she slips.

She is leaning on my a fair bit through this process as I successfully quit smoking on April 21, 1991. I have never slipped and I did it cold turkey. I worry that my mother thinks that because I was able to do it she should as well. Right now she is on the patch which, is great for her. I think one of the things that has kept me from smoking again is the memory of how much it hurt for that first 3 days. It was hell. All I can remember is eating sunflower seeds like a crazy woman for several days. I kept cigarettes with me for a couple of weeks just in case I couldn’t hack it. I gave myself permission to have a cigarette if it was still as bad in 5 minutes. I basically quit smoking 5 minutes at a time. It worked for me.

I am not so sure it will work for my mother. I was addicted to smoking without a doubt. I had smoked for 12 years and making sure that I had enough cigarettes at all time had become a focus for me. I think my mother (and sister) are addicted at a much deeper level. They smoke constantly. My mother was smoking at least a pack and a half per day. She smokes no matter how she feels.

I am going to support now matter what happens. I will encourage to keep going and if she slips I will help her get up, dust herself off and start again. Stay strong mom!

Pet Peeves: Smokers

I have a confession to make – I am a reformed smoker. I had my first cigarette at age 8 and by age 12 I was addicted. I then launched a pack a day habit for about 12 years. I finally quit April 21, 1991 at 10 pm.

Now there are those pure non-smokers, who have never had a puff, who probably don’t think I have a right to complain but I don’t care. I am sick to death of smokers. I am tired of seeing them drop their butts carelessly on the street. In the summer, those who flick them out of their windows while driving deserve a special place in hell as far as I am concerned.

I hate walking by people smoking on the street. I am now allergic to smoke and it can set off a headache. I really, truly cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke.

Just needed to vent…