Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘mish-mash’ edition

  • I heard a great podcast the other day called ‘Taking Crazy Back.’ It is by Tod Maffin who has done stints on CBC radio. I highly recommend it! We need to bring awareness to the fact that mental illness is just that an illness. It is not a moral failing.
  • I have decided to try and reduce my dose of pain medication over the next couple of weeks. My ulcerative colitis is in a good place right now so it is a good time. I have not had much breakthrough pain for the most part since I was off work in the summer. Reducing my pain medication may help with my fatigue issues, which will make everything so much better. I think this will go well, as I have weaned off before without any issue.
  • One more traffic rant! Today when I was driving in some asshole in a pickup truck just blew through a stop sign at one of the 3-way stops. What a jerk!

Rant of the Day

I haven’t ranted for a while so here goes! I apologize in advance that most of it is traffic related. I will say that on days I am stressed

  • Truckers are assholes. Seriously. It is a nightmare on the MaryHill Bypass. They take up both lanes and drive in tandem. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there are 50 cars behind them with drivers becoming increasingly frustrated. Seriously there should be a law against this as this is what causes some of the infamous backups on our roads.
  • My next thing is about people who pull out in front of you without gauging how fast traffic is going. I was on 128th ave, which is on the back way out of Maple Ridge, and a car just turned left right in front of me. I had to whale on the brakes so that I didn’t hit him and when I honked he gave me the finger. I don’t understand how or why some people are allowed to drive.
  • The other thing I must rant about is about Harper’s plan to spend lots of money on the war of 1812. Why on fucking earth we need to rub it in to the Americans that we won is unclear. What is even more unclear is why we need to spend millions of dollars doing it when we have a budget deficit. It makes absolutely no sense. What is interesting is that while Conservatives preach fiscal restraint, historically it is Conservative governments that ring up the biggest deficits. In this case, Harper is following Mulroney in fine form. Harper needs to give his head his shake and stop the waste.

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.

Welcome to BC – Go big or stay home

I have lived in BC for more than 10 years now and I have noticed an interesting trend. It seems that whatever happens in BC is always bigger or worse or has a much larger than the rest of the country. Take for example the recent riots when Vancouver lost the Stanley Cup. In Toronto, they have a riot over globalization and the G-8 and here in BC it is over hockey. And it was a bad riot as riots go.

Now we have another example. All over the country, rivers are flowing at higher levels than normal. There has been rampant flooding in Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Flooding would have been boring so instead what do we get? We get transformer towers that are in the Fraser River[1] crashing down and causing power lines to come down across two of the busiest highways in the province!

One really has to wonder why anyone thought it would be a good idea to put power lines across a highway. But then again, those towers have stood for 55 years why would they come down now? Well, apparently, the high water flows over a longer period[2] caused the base of the tower to ‘scour.’[3] When one tower fell, it pulled the electrical lines taut over the whole section. Apparently, BC Hydro was able to ‘de-electrify’ the lines so that there was no danger.

In the middle of the night, all of the local officials gathered in the parking lot of Home Depot[4] in Coquitlam. Here they decided what they were going to do after the initial road closure. For the benefit of my non-Lower Mainland Readers, Highway 1 and the Lougheed[5] are the only routes into Vancouver. Metro Vancouver is a string of municipalities on either side of these roads. In the morning, everyone tries to get into Vancouver and the opposite at the end of the day.

The problem was that there were electrical cables[6] across the highways. So at some point around 7am the dream team at Homo Depot decided they should severe said wires so that the traffic could flow once again. By now, the local radio stations had done their bit to convince people to stay home, take transit, walk, bike or go by mule train. And never doubt the ability of the Vancouver media to stop the traffic from coming. They do it every time it might snow a flake or two.

When I finally left at around noon because I didn’t want to have to deal with this mess everything was fine. It was all reopened by 3 pm[7] and things were moving fine. The benefit of all this to me? There was no traffic to contend with on my way home. This made me a very happy camper!

[1] And have been since like 1956

[2] As it was explained by a geologist today on CBC.

[3] Whatever that means.

[4] Or Homo Depot as we like to call it. Ever been there on a Friday night?

[5] For you Albertans that is pronounced: lowheed not lawheed. It is a highway not a megalomaniac premier.

[6] De-electrified don’t forget.

[7] They had kept a part of United Boulevard closed.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘shit show’ edition

  • Traffic has been horrific the last 2 mornings. The only words to describe are shit and show. On Thursday it was a combination of snow[1] and a huge mother accident going eastbound. There were 3 fire trucks and assorted other police and ambulance vehicles. Once we got past the accident, which, was on the other side of the highway, traffic started moving again for about a minute. Then it was back to bumper-to-bumper. I ended up being ½ an hour late for my doctor’s appointment. This morning there was a truck being towed and it was slow to get by. Once I got past, the road opened up, oh, for about 5 minutes. I ended up being 15 minutes late for my massage. I am not used to sitting in traffic anymore. Going in after 10 am usually means I miss it. These last 2 days have been a grim reminder of what I used to go through when I worked different jobs and had to commute in rush hour.
  • We have doggie visitors. Sawyer is in heaven having someone his own size to play with. The two have a really good time again. Jessie, who is an old pittie, is happy under her blanket in a quiet area. Luckily we can offer that!
  • As a response to some things going on in my life, I have started to read Shakespeare’s Sister again. The main blogger, Melissa McEwen, does a fabulous job of keeping up the anti-oppression analysis on the major discourse. Personally, I find this to be invaluable when it comes to identifying issues I need to handle. I also find her posts on various topics like the rape culture, victim blame, fat oppression, misogyny, and feminism. If you have never read this blog I suggest you take a look. If you are a progressive person you will find a home. I find that reading this blog regularly helps me to self-assess any oppressive views I may have and learn how to be a great ally. It is very important work.

[1] The damn media didn’t do their job this time and convince all the idiots to stay off the roads. Instead they all got on to Highway 1 and freaked at the snow and slush. I am guessing they just all panicked at the sight of it.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘have I been living under a rock?’ edition

  • First up, this member of the Swamp would like to thank the media for scaring most everyone off the roads today. I left home at 10:20 am and there was literally no traffic. I got to the on-ramp to the #1 westbound and there was no line-up whatsoever. It was clear sailing all the way to the doctor’s office. Even going home was great! Bring on the snow.
  • Clearly, I have been living under a rock. I did not know about Sarah Palin’s[1] website that had the Democrat congress people with cross hairs over their names. My mother told me about it yesterday. I then heard about it today on CBC. What the fuck is this woman thinking? Then her speech today was completely over the top and only incites more hatred. When are the Americans who support going to wake up and smell the hatred?
  • Deb took Sawyer, the youngest of the Swamp-rats to get licensed today. We weren’t sure where his neuter certificate was so she plopped up on the counter and said, “Look, he is neutered.” They still called the vet’s office.
  • We got a fair bit of snow last night but it did not really impact things here. The dogs love the snow. They love to go and frolic through the snow. Kiefer looked so cute when he came in all covered in snow.

[1] I am not linking to her site. I would not want to be guilty of driving traffic to her website.

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?

Driving Rant

It seems that the heat is doing more than causing people to sweat. Driving behaviour appears to be deteriorating in inverse proportion to the rising heat. This morning I stopped at one of the myriad of 4-way stops on my way to the bridge. I came to a complete stop and just as I was going to go a truck just blows the stop sign and goes. I honk my horn and he gives me the finger. AC Tree Care – you suck!

Then I had to do the merge on to highway 1. There is a very civilized system with alternating green and red lights for the 2 lanes merging into one. Most of the time it works well. Except for today when a truck just blew right through the red light. Where are the police when you need them?

Then there is all the dangerous passing. I had a truck behind me (who was tailgating) and a truck in front of me going rather slow and a bunch of traffic in front of it. I saw no point in trying to pass as both sides were busy and almost equally slow. Apparently the guy driving the Dick’s Lumber truck didn’t see it the same way. He had to get really close to me (and scare the shit out of me) in order to pass and pull in front of the other truck. He didn’t get much further and I passed him on the highway. Dick’s lumber truck guy – you suck too!!!!

We all need to keep in mind that the heat affects us all. Allowing driving habits to deteriorate to a new low is not going to help anyone, it is going to cause accidents and then you will be standing out in the 30 degree heat instead of in your air conditioned vehicle. And if you cause an accident and hit me and I have to stand in 30 degree hit your life will not be worth living. Consider yourselves warned all of you asshole drivers!

This and that….

I haven’t blogged in a bit mostly because there has been nothing that has really grabbed me lately. So, here is a post about lots of different things.

1. Today was the perfect storm. I hate working Mondays. When I have to work Mondays I at least like to start my day with a massage. For this to occur I have to be in Vancouver by 11 am. I woke up early and could not go back to sleep so I got up at 7:30. I wanted to leave by 9:45 just in case. Well, my bowel conspired against me and I did not get to the car until 10:10. I got to the bridge and it was backed up so I checked the traffic report and found out they had swung the bridge and while it was back in place traffic was backed up. Then they said there was an accident on #1 just past Gaglardi and the only lane getting through was the HOV. Carry on. Now there is an accident, blocking the middle lane, just past Brunette. I am swearing now. I have had to go to the bathroom since the bridge. I get past the Brunette accident. Magically, the other accident is gone. Things are going well and I think I might even make until I round the corner by Willingdon and see that 12th is backed up. It was also backed up around the corner towards first. Back to the traffic report – now there is an accident just past the 1st ave exit. I am seriously swearing now. I finally make it 10 minutes late.

2. On Friday I was listening to the News at 6 on CBC. The first story was how the banks had been making profits in spite of the economic downturn. The story that immediately followed was one of retailers complaining about increased credit card fees. Coincidence? I think not.

3. We were trying to buy a used car on the weekend. We went to see this one car that sounded good on paper but was definitely a death trap. It was not air cared, it needed a bolt for the brakes but the guy assured us it was ‘safe.’ As time went on he continued to list things that were wrong with it. Oh, it squeals when it goes around a corner? It just has a loose alternator belt, blah, blah, blah. As we walk away he says: “Did something change your mind?” So we stopped at a lot on the way home. There is a little VW and the mechanic who worked on it said he had tuned it up and fixed it up so ‘his daughter could drive it.’  As Deb was driving it through parking lots because it was not insured, nor air-cared she discovered that the transmission slipped from 1st gear to 3rd gear and you had to pound the clutch to the floor. Not a good sign. We were waiting and he continued to list the other things wrong: no taillights, no dashlights. kthxbai!

4. The good news is that my anti-anxiety meds seem to be working. I have less fatigue and way less physical symptoms like stress in my shoulders, neck and face. I am feeling better overall and actually having some moments of joy particularly when I am listening to music. I did try to start to wean off the clonazapam but I think it was too soon so I will have to broach this with my doctor. Now that I am feeling better I do not want to go back.

5. I have been plagued by construction noises and errant beeping all day today. For those of you who know me, errant beeping is one my biggest pet peeves.

I ask Questions #4

Ok so we are in a winter wonderland hell right now. Here is my question: Why don’t people clean off their vehicles before they go on the highway. Do they think it is cool to have snow flying off of their vehicle while they drive down the highway blinding other people???

I ask questions 1, 2, 3