New Year’s Resolutions

I have never made New Year’s resolutions. I suspect that I think too much and I know that I am not going to wake up on any January 1 and be a substantially different person who could suddenly achieve everything I could not in the previous year. I mean seriously, I could resolve to lose weight or exercise more but I would fail. Miserably. I suspect most people are unable to meet their resolutions and then just feel miserable about themselves. Here is the thing, we as human beings are incapable of wholesale change. We do not suddenly become different people because of an arbitrary date on a calendar.

A blog posting has been circulating for a bit: 30 things to stop doing to yourself is a great list of things we can stop doing and treat ourselves better. There are some great things there like: “Stop putting your own needs on the back burner.” I am infamous for this. I have am starting to realize that I need to live differently or my body rebels. Self-care for me is imperative or I cannot take care of anyone else. I also need to surround myself with people who care about what I need. I am fortunate to have people in my life who do care about me and show it in myriad ways. Number 17 also has importance for me: “Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.” Living with a chronic illness that can rear its head at inopportune moments and which causes me a lot of pain and fatigue, it is very easy to complain and not push myself. Instead, I try to remember that on most days it does get better once I am up and going. I also need to take some steps to mitigate some of the effects of my ulcerative colitis.[1] What little control I have, I must exercise it.

I have a really bad urge/need to constantly explain myself to others (number 20 on the list). I have reverted to this a lot in the last year given the hell on earth I endured this year. I must stop. It makes me look petty and defensive. It is completely unnecessary as I am very good at my job and I just need to believe it.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I am forever saying things are fine when they are not (number 25 on the list). I used to joke that I had to schedule my breakdown or that there was no time for my crisis. I don’t do that as much anymore. I am trying to learn to value how I feel. I am setting boundaries much more freely now. Now, if I can just extend that to my family of origin.

Where is this all going you ask? Well, given that I don’t believe humans are capable of wholesale change how do we make changes. I believe we do it incrementally. I came across this blog and it makes great sense. Selecting 3 words that will guide your life in the next year is a great way to make some small changes that will eventually add up. Here are the words I have chosen for 2012: Reduce, Listen, Harmony.

What do the words mean to me:


I want to reduce all sorts of things. Back to the ulcerative colitis, I want to reduce my dependence on pain medications that cause fatigue. This has been underway for sometime and I have been successful. I am now taking over 60% less pain medication than I did a year ago. I am hoping that further reductions will reduce my fatigue. I want to reduce many things in 2012. I may blog about some other ‘reductions’ as the year goes on.


I am a horrible listener. I have a habit of thinking that I know what people are going to say and then tuning out. I am also hoping that if I develop a habit of listening more carefully I will be less defensive. I pledge to listen more to others and myself.


I am hoping to have more time where I feel good about my world. I want to incorporate much more self-care into my life. I believe that becoming more harmonious with the world around me and not fighting against everything will help me feel better. Part of this for me will be withdrawing from spending too much time on the computer. I have enjoyed getting back in touch with crocheting and the almost meditative state it can put me in. I really must reduce the stress in my life as my body is rebelling.

What about you? Do you make resolutions?

[1] More on that later.

iTunes Match

What is it?

iTunes Match is a new service from Apple. iTunes Match makes your digital library of music available in the Cloud. It facilitates easy sharing between all of your computers and devices.

How does it work?

Once you turn it on, iTunes will scan your library. If your music is available on iTunes then it will immediately be available to you. If some of your music is not on iTunes, iTunes Match will upload it to the Cloud.

Why should I care?

You should care for several reasons. iTunes Match is the first, easy to use, backup plan for iTunes. Many of us have several hundred gigabytes of music with no back ups. If you have ever lost your music library and had to re-rip all of your CDs or had to re-purchase your music you will be all over this!

Another great feature is iTunes will match your music with higher bit rate, DRM-free[1] versions. If your library consists of illegally downloaded copies you can replace them with clean copies. It is a little bit of work but who cares.[2] It is so worth it if you have crackly versions of songs that don’t sound great.

That’s all great but how much does it cost?

Of course, Apple is not giving this away. In Canada it costs $27.99 per year to have iTunes Match active. I think it is a great value for the money even as a backup tool. Plus it is a completely passive system, in that it requires nothing from you except the initial act of turning it on and then paying your money. If your computer crashes you can then download everything you own again.

So how do I get it?

It is so easy to turn it on. Open iTunes and go to the iTunes store and go to the ‘store’ menu. Then select turn on iTunes Match. It is that easy!

If you have questions put them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!


[1] DRM=Digital Rights Management – this is the system that limits what you can do with your music like only burning it 5 times etc.

[2] Essentially you have to ferret out those songs, delete them, and then re-download them.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘revelations’ edition

  • I have been quite absent from my blog as of late. It all started because I decided to crochet some presents for holiday season. I have made an intricate crochet piece and 13 very long scarves! I have also tried my hand at 2 afghans neither of which worked out yet. What I have discovered is that I find crocheting very relaxing. I have been crocheting while watching TV and I find it is almost meditative for me. I am feeling so much less stressed. The other thing I really like is that I can be productive while relaxing. I am now spending about 2-3 hours less per day on the computer.
  • We have been entertaining Maya the Maltese for the last month. She is going to my mother at Christmas. She decided she really wanted another dog. We have found her the perfect dog – she is a young adult, female who likes to play. She came already house broken. We had her spayed, microchipped and vaccinated. She will be great for my mother. She is also a great watchdog! She is making all of us mental though. She barks indiscrimantely, particularly in the middle of the night. She is hyper and omnipresent. She seems to try to walk on the backs of my calves. She does have her cute moments though!
  • We have been having some struggles with Bella. She has a hyper thyroid which, in spite being on a high dose of tapezol. We did blood work, which showed that she has cancer as well. She is 16 years old so we decided not to do any further investigation. The biggest problem was that she was not using her litterbox. With a little thought, we moved it into the living room. I took the lid off and I put her in there. She then used it and there was much rejoicing. She has continued to use it now for almost 2 weeks. At this point we are focusing on her quality of life. She is doing quite well right now.
  • Everyone else is doing well. There was some concern about Sienna as she developed a lump. We were all pretty sure it was a fatty lipoma and after 2 fine-needle aspirations it was confirmed that it was a fatty lump.
  • In political observations, I have to say that I hate the sound of Christy Clark’s voice as much as I hated Gordo’s. The face may have changed but the message is still the same and it is all lies if you ask me. Clark is every bit as mean-spirited as Gordon. Her call for cameras to be in the courtrooms when alleged rioters are prosecuted is cruel. It is not only going to humiliate the alleged suspects but also witnesses who may not want their names and faces broadcasted to the larger community. Her comments about CLBC are lame and there is no way she is going to fix anything. I really had dared to hope for more.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I am f*cking depressed’ edition

  • The above video of some beagles who have lived in wire cages as test dogs for their entire lives. They have never been outside, felt the sun or the grass beneath their feet. The fact that something like this exists in our world is so fucking disturbing. Are there not laws that mandate how animals must be treated? It is absolutely heartbreaking to watch these dogs take their first steps on grass! One dog actually falters because he doesn’t know how to walk outside of a cage. I know that I am going to research every product I use and make another choice if it is tested on animals. I urge you all to do the same.
  • Still on the animal front, I posted this blog from SAINTS yesterday on Twitter and Facebook. Carol highlights animals who ended up at SAINTS in spite of being a loved and desired pet. Minnie Pearl is a dog who ended up at SAINTS because her family had a divorce and when she could no longer be used as a pawn in the battle she was dumped. Here’s the thing people – if you go out and get that cute puppy, kitten or other animal you must make a commitment to that animal for the rest of its life. If you don’t think you can do this then get a virtual pet. Live animals require care and sacrifice. If you are thinking about adding a companion animal to your family please find one at a shelter or rescue.
  • Now we will move on to people. It is unfathomable that in 2011, in a fully developed country like Canada we have the Red Cross going into the Aboriginal village of Attawapiskat to provide direct relief! Then, in typical paternal fashion, the Federal government is appointing a third-party administrator. Seriously folks our paternalistic attitudes towards First Nations is the reason things are so bad. First Nations must be given the resources they need embrace their culture and thrive. In order to this though they require appropriate housing and a predictable source of income. There are so many examples of First Nations succeeding when they are given control of the economic levers. Paternalism will never succeed and gives us things like Residential Schools.
  • Oh and I failed miserably at NaBloPoMo this year!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I can’t believe it’ edition

  • Clearly I have failed at NaBloPoMo this year. I have been finding crocheting in the evening much more relaxing than blogging. In fact, I am almost reaching a meditative state in the repetition of stitches and counting to ten. It is a good thing. Although I am a little concerned about the afghan I am attempting to finish my mom. I am worried it is going to shed for quite some time after I give it to her. It seems to be a magnet for pug hair!
  • I am not to sure wtf is up with the Christy Clark government and not funding the HEAT shelters this year. Apparently, according to Rich Coleman, the minister (ir)responsible argues that enough social housing units have been created that the HEAT shelters are no longer needed. What a load of political BS. He is delusional. The only reason there may be been fewer visible homeless on Vancouver’s streets is because some of them were camping out at Occupy Vancouver. Now that OV has packed up from the art gallery lawn it will be interesting to see what happens. As well, just because some of the homeless have been housed doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer numbers. With gentrification and the lack of resources to keep hard to house people housed the numbers of homeless people increase all the time. There are still plenty of people losing their homes.
  • With the recent loss of Molly we now have no incontinent dogs in our house for the first time in about 10 years. Clio was never reliably toilet trained and often had accidents. Zoe has had accidents as well however if we consistently put her out 4 times a day she is unlikely to pee in the house. Deb went to mop something up the other day and the bucket was actually dry! I am thinking we will no longer need to have full mop buckets in 2 locations in the house.


A little downward dog

We lost Molly yesterday. She was a really good dog. She came to us in April of 2007 from SAINTS. She had just had all of her teeth removed and was known her stretches. Everyone called it her the Pilates Queen. She also completely ran the show here when we had 11 dogs. They all thought she was crazy as she would bark, growl and snarl at them if they came anywhere near her.

Talk to the paw

Molly thrived here. Even though she had no teeth she insisted that she too would eat raw. We are not talking ground raw (although she did eat some of that) she wanted to eat the chicken legs and other assorted pieces of raw meaty bones. At the beginning we would feed her high quality wet food, which she would eat and then she would go and steal something from Clio the blind dog.  Eventually we dumb humans figured it out. She could strip a raw chicken leg in under 10 minutes.

Molly really didn’t bond with many of the dogs here. She did however adore Clio. I think Molly liked Clio because she was blind and she moved slowly and posed no threat to her. They were often seen cuddled together. When Madison was alive she would cuddle with the 2 of them as well.

Molly continued to do her ‘pilates’ here for the whole time. She also added to the repertoire with ‘yoga’ poses including downward dog and something I liked to call the frog. Molly thrived on attention and she loved to put on a show

Molly was quite healthy for the past 4.5 years. She did have a collapsing trachea, which got progressively worse. This week her heart started to fail and she couldn’t keep going. She has left a big hole.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘saner heads are prevailing’ edition

  • It seems like the judge presiding over the City of Vancouver’s application for an injunction to end the Occupy Vancouver protest. Addressing the City’s safety concerns while still maintaining the protestors right to protest.
  • We are still under plumbing construction. The driveway is still a mess. We are waiting for the engineer apparently.
  • I am in way too much pain to write much more today. Catch you all tomorrow!

Police Violence at Occupy Vancouver

First off, I am going to apologize for my singular focus of late. However, I am extremely concerned about what it is happening at the Occupy Vancouver protest. Specifically, the abuse of authority and the wanton disregard for civil and democratic rights to free speech are making me ashamed to be Canadian. Regardless of who is doing it, people have the right to assemble and protest. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not say people can assemble as long as there are no propane heaters.

The violence last night was completely unacceptable. Perhaps they shouldn’t have lit a ‘sacred fire.’ However, the overreaction belongs solely to the VPD. I think they are determined to make sure there is not another riot but there actions are actually setting the stage for a riot.

The City of Vancouver needs to back off its plan to dismantle the camp. The more they push the issue, the more public opinion is going to turn against them. If they are concerned about liability, they could have the occupiers sign releases and let them govern themselves.

Change in language alters opinions: Lessons in discourse from the Occupy Movement

I noticed there was a change in the language as it relates to the Occupy Vancouver protest today. Up until now the individuals at the site had been referred to as ‘protesters’ or ‘occupiers.’ Today the language shifted to now refer to them as ‘campers.’ Calling them campers completely undermines their purpose in protesting and occupying in the various cities.

Since the death of Occupier Ashley over the weekend the City of Vancouver has completely changed their message and tone. On Friday Robertson said that they had no intention of moving against the Occupiers. While they were citing some safety concerns identified by the fire department they were prepared to work with them to clean up the site. Now Robertson is talking about severe ‘life safety’ issues at the site. When he was on CBC’s afternoon show ‘On the Coast’ this afternoon, Stephen Quinn pointed out that the encampment is not much different now than it was at the beginning and that he did not really understand why they had such an issue with the protest now. Robertson had no real answer except to claim those ‘life safety’ issues again.

The city is being even cagier about this protest. In light of the municipal election, Vision Vancouver does not want to be seen as being against the issues the Occupiers are raising. After all, Vision Vancouver is really trying to court that left of centre vote. So Gregor, as mayor, ends up talking out of both sides of his month. On the one hand he is saying the ‘campers’ have to go and then he says that the city will make a stage and PA system available for the protestors to continue the movement. What Gregor Robertson doesn’t get is that he cannot have it both ways. If he moves to clear out the Occupiers he most certainly lose votes.

Clearly the Occupy movement is about much more than camping. However, the act of occupying public space is fundamental to the movement. If they are to make progress on their issues they must be in public space. What the Occupy movement must do is craft the message; they must be in control of the language or they risk having their mission degraded by others.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘is there a funny movie out there?’ edition

  • I love Steve Carrel. However, I seem unable to find a funny movie he is in except for Little Miss Sunshine. Seriously, I have rented several of his movies lately and none of them have been remotely funny. What is up with this? Does anyone have a recommendation for a funny movie that does not rely on misogyny or toilet humour?
  • The death of Occupier Ashley yesterday at Occupy Vancouver is very sad. However, I think it is disingenuous of the City to now say the encampment must go. Drug overdoses and fatalities as they go are normal for Vancouver. Ashley died in a tent rather than a back alley. What the Occupy Vancouver movement must do is set up a supervised drug using area to minimize the risks of drug use. Trying to force the protestors out is going to result in violence.
  • I have often wondered what it is about Vancouver that causes everything to be taken to an extreme. There are Occupy encampments in countless cities yet the only one (that I am aware of) to have a death is Vancouver. It seems that the most bizarre things happen in Vancouver.