Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Small updates

We just had a huge rain and wind storm, which eliminated all of our snow and caused state of emergency flooding in St, Stephen (at the NB/ME border). Today seems to be sunny and "warm" (48°F), so I think I'll be able to walk on my lunch hour. Since the days are so short now, I've gone into hibernation and lethargy mode. I don't feel like getting up in the dark, and when I get home from work I just want to curl up under a blanket. Sunrise is close to 8am and sunset around 4:30. One more week and at least the days will start to get longer. Bed will probably still feel just as comfy.

Our Christmas tree is currently drying out in the garage. At some point last night, it fell over and dumped the bucket of water all over the garage. More of an annoyance than anything else, but I had to stop and right it, then fill it back up again. Romy has decided he loves drinking from the watering can, so as soon as he sees me bring it out, he begins a barrage of meows, despite being in full view of his water dish.

My crashed hard drive, that contained my only copy of a lot of data, is unrecoverable. They are shipping it back to me and then I begin the process of a warranty claim with Western Digital. I ordered a new Seagate hard drive for my OS, since that drive had issues 2 weeks before my data drive. I just want to start over and hope this never happens again. We purchased an external backup drive, so I will be making regular backups. I also still have the data from an older hard drive I found and purchased recovery software for. I was able to get 2009 and earlier data, so in the end I am missing any pictures from Jan-Aug 2010, as well as all my email/contacts. This includes all of the emails from when John and I first met, unless I can find them in an archive somewhere. I'm disappointed in that, I wanted to save them since they are our "love letters". John does have a copy of them though, so all is not lost. In the end, it has cost me around $200 instead of $1300, so for that I am thankful.

We booked flights to Florida for March Break. The best we could get using points resulted in the redefinition of the term "milk run". 7h layover in Halifax plus 3 planes on the way down. 4 planes on the way home. It was that or pay $1500 for near full-fare tickets. Money won out and we got the milk run. I'm going to call Aeroplan every week or two until the trip to see if I can't get it changed to something better. Maybe someone else will change their plans and I can upgrade. We're lucky to get what we got, so I am not complaining, I just hope we can do better and don't actually have to take 7 flights!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Organ donors

My younger brother has been diabetic since 1991. 4 years ago, he was also diagnosed with lupus, Addison’s, and hypothyroid pretty much all at the same time. His health has never been a great subject and has led to hospital time and scary days for our family.

A couple of weeks ago, my father saw a video news report about a new treatment for diabetes. My parents and my brother began talking about it, Mum doing a lot of research and making contacts. Within a couple of days, my brother was in contact with the Clinical Islet Transplant Program at the University of Alberta. He spoke to them back & forth about his medical conditions, his medications, etc. Last week he received word that he can begin the application process to be part of the program. He will go through 4 weeks of consistent blood sugar testing & recording, get his doctor’s signature, and fill out the necessary paperwork.

The procedure entails taking islets from cadaver organs and then transplanting them into my brother's liver. Luckily, he is a very thin person and likely to only need islets from one donor. Timing will depend on the availability of donors, but it could happen as soon as March of next year.

There are still more hurdles to overcome, and I try to temper my hopefulness with realism, but it’s hard not to be excited. If this transplant works, my brother’s life expectancy could be increased greatly. He could possibly see some improvements in his other medical conditions as well. Not to mention the freedom of foods and beverages and not worrying about insulin as much, or possibly, at all.

It’s an exciting time for him. I pray that he will continue to get through the next steps of the application without roadblocks, and if he finally makes it to Transplant Day, that it will work without incident.

A few years ago, my grandfather received cornea transplants from an organ donor. I had been thinking about organ donation for a while, but after this event and the improvement to my grandfather's sight, I decided to pull the trigger and actually sign up. The donor corneas allowed my grandfather to have better sight so he could still read and function on his own. I thought of how many people my organs could save, how many stories you hear of people killed in accidents and how their organs can help multiple people. I have a relative and a friend who are both on transplant lists, and I know how much it matters to me that they stick around as long as possible.

I do not drink coffee, tea, or alcohol. I am in good health. My wish is to be cremated after I am gone from this world. While I hope to live a long time, if anything were to happen to me, I'm sure my organs would be quite valuable. I could save and/or improve the life of many people who needed it: daughters, mothers, fathers, sons, brothers. In my mind, it is the ultimate gift.

If you haven't thought about organ donation, please do take some time to consider it. Think about your wishes for your body, your religious views, your health status. If you're like me, in good health and don't wish to be buried, then I encourage you to consider signing your organ donor card. When you do, inform your family so they are aware of your wishes. You never know when you, or someone close to you, may need a donation to live.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No Frills

No Frills opened in place of Superstore on the West Side. It's been a few months, and I have been there only three times, and once I did not purchase anything. They have a few policies I don't like, and I finally got around to drafting a note to send to them:

No Frills recently opened in my neighborhood and I am very disappointed. Your policy of not taking Visa as a form of payment has limited my desire to shop in your store. I use Visa for most purchases and I do not frequent stores who refuse to accept it. I am also frustrated by your shopping cart policy. While the deposit system may be desirable for your company, it is not convenient for the customer. The carts provided are large, heavy, and difficult to maneuver. The smaller carts, which were very popular and easy to use for most of the clientele of that store (primarily senior citizens), seem to have disappeared. It appears that the more senior staff were laid off in favor of student workers, who don't seem to be very helpful or friendly -- they barely look at me, let alone smile, while I am checking out. What used to be a weekly trip to Superstore has now turned into an avoidance of No Frills.

If you don't take Visa, then I'm not going to spend my $100 grocery order at your store, it's that simple. I don't carry a lot of cash, I don't want to use debit, I want to use Visa to build up my points. This policy has driven me to shop primarily at Sobeys, and I have also been spending more of my money at Co-op, who needs it if they're going to stay in business. Co-op's student workers are also quite friendly and helpful.

Having to pay 25¢ deposit to get a shopping cart out of hawk is ridiculous. I know the thinking: if the customer has to pay for it, it will get returned to the stall, people won't steal them, etc. All it has done for me is make sure that if I go in the store, I don't buy enough to need a cart. Or I take a free cart from Zellers lying around in the parking lot. This policy is only convenient for the person who bought the carts, not the people purchasing things in the store. The worst part about the carts is the removal of the small carts. They were my cart of choice, much easier to handle, and I know I'm not the only person who thinks that. There a many senior citizens on the West side, and if I'm having a hard time steering a giant heavy yellow cart, I know they must be too.

They laid off most of the senior people at this store when it changed banners. In their place are student-aged workers who obviously are only there because they have to be. That attitude shows through in how they deal with you at the checkout. One girl mumbles and barely looks at me, I actually try to avoid her line if I am there. Another just seems like he's tired and you're bothering him. I just haven't had a great experience dealing with the checkers at this store.

I'd be interested to know how things are going at this store since the change. I heard some of my co-workers talking about how great the low prices were. I agree, some sale prices are the lowest in town, and that is the sole reason I have been in the store a few times. This store also re-introduced a bag fee, something that had been so unpopular it was eliminated across the Maritimes last year. I'm curious which side has won out: low prices, or cart deposits/bag fees/limited payment options/less selection. I wonder how many have defected to Sobeys, or now choose to go to Superstore in other parts of town.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Fine Balance


Since I missed book club, I decided to blog my thoughts about the book. Spoilers follow.


This is one of the most depressing novels I've ever read. It seemed as though something bad would happen, and when you think it couldn't get much worse, something worse would happen, then something terrible, then something horrific... it just never stopped. I wasn't expecting a garden of roses, but this novel really wore me down.

For most of the novel, the characters are not likeable and I found myself with no sympathy for any of them. Frankly, I couldn't understand their motivations. Repeatedly Ishvar and Om seemed to allow themselves to go with the flow of injustice, rather than try any attempt to rally against it. Even near the end, when the Family Planning goondas were collecting them, they had the opportunity to attempt escape. Frustratingly, Ishvar decides to stay put because he hadn't done anything wrong. He seemed to learn nothing from his experiences in the labour camp. Dina spent the first 2/3 of the novel being a bitch. Maneck's situation with his parents angered me; people don't live forever, stop pseudo-fighting. He waited until it was too late to understand his father. Om and Maneck together were jackasses, stupid teenagers doing stupid things and being first-class perverts.

It's funny, I spent the majority of this novel saying about Ishvar and Om, "these people should just end things and put themselves out of their misery. Nothing good will ever happen to them." I was frustrated but kept reading because I wasn't sure what the end game was. When I got to it, I had to re-read the paragraph because I had skimmed it too quickly. What? Maneck jumped onto the train tracks? He's the one person who just started to plan a good future, and then he does this?! A repeat of what happened in the beginning, where the train was slowed due to a body on the tracks.

I enjoyed The Book of Negroes. Bad things happened, and even without the pat ending, I felt a sense of hope somewhere inside. I did not feel the same way about this book, especially not after Maneck jumped the tracks. Sure, Dina became more soft-hearted over time, still looking after the tailors years later. I just felt kind of blah at the end.

Ishvar might still have legs if he had gone to the dispensary to look after himself once Om was stable. Om might still have all his organs if Ishvar had just relented and let him choose his own wife. Ashraf Chacha might have lived longer if they had taken their chance to escape. Why in hell couldn't Om have written to Dina to explain at least a very small portion of what happened? So many times they left her hanging, and this time they had the opportunity to send her a simple letter (Ishvar hurt, can't come yet) and yet noooo, Om just doesn't know what to say and does nothing.

Although both this novel and the film Slumdog Millionaire are works of fiction, they are two accounts of the worst parts of India. If there is any truth to both, then it would lead one to believe that conditions have not improved much in the years between 1975 and 2008, and that would be a depressing thought.

I didn't hate the book, but it wasn't an enjoyable read. At least Maneck didn't turn into a tiger right before jumping off the platform. That being said, this book has stuck with me, even after finishing it over a week ago. There’s something to be said for that.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Christmas progress and frustrations

I am both pleased with my progress on Christmas shopping and frustrated at the same time. I have managed to get most people to give me their lists, which I took and turned into an online registry. I hope that by me doing the setup that they will take it and keep it updated after that. Since we all don’t live in the same house anymore, it’s tough to determine what someone wants, needs, or already has. If we’re going to exchange presents, I need ideas.

I still have three holdouts for giving me ideas. One will produce a list eventually. The second I can think of a few types of gift cards to send that I know she would enjoy. The third, I have absolutely no idea. She has refused to answer any of my requests for ideas, lives far away from me so I don’t get to spend any time with her to know her interests, has 2 small children and thus not much time for herself. I gave my best idea to someone else, which leaves me with no friggin clue what to buy her.

If I didn’t think it would be insulting, I’d consider getting her nothing. If you don’t provide ideas, then I assume you don’t want a gift. I am someone who prefers to buy a gift that I think the receiver will actually like or use. Even if I strike out, at least my thought process had them in mind, as opposed to pulling a knick-knack off the store shelf because I have to have something to wrap.

I recognize that it is still early in the process for Christmas shopping, but the sooner I have things settled, the sooner I can relax. I don’t want to keep harassing her, but if she doesn’t answer me within the next week*, I am just going to have to pull something out of the hat and not worry whether she actually likes it. I hate doing that.

*deadline not imposed by me, but by other circumstances.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Toshiba's bilingual notebook keyboard

I have used and purchased Toshiba notebooks (laptops) for the majority of my 13 year working career. Within the last few years, Toshiba Canada made the decision to supply only bilingual keyboards on all of its laptops. Customers do not have the option to choose a US English keyboard even if they wanted to.

Canada is a bilingual country. Approximately 2 million are francophone, 4 million are bilingual, and the remaining 30 million are anglophone. I'm having difficulty understanding why we are catering to the minority by default. I am not saying bilingual keyboards shouldn't be available. I do think the customer should have a choice in what keyboard they purchase. Since the keyboards can be swapped out without even taking the laptop apart, this should be an easy choice.

Below are some pictures of a Toshiba Netbook keyboard:

Bilingual keyboard

US English keyboard

Mostly identical, but the main difference is the Enter key. On the bilingual keyboard, they thought it was a good idea to make the Enter key vertical instead of horizontal. It's as if they have no idea how much this screws people up. Accuracy goes totally downhill on this keyboard. It drives me so insane that I bought a US English keyboard from eBay and intend on replacing the bilingual one before I even power on the unit. Who messes with the Enter key, one of the most frequently-used keys?

I'm interested in the opinions of French Canadians on whether this keyboard is just as annoying in your language as it is mine. There has to be a better layout than this and still include all the necessary keys. There are so many extra symbols and colors on the bilingual keyboard that I find it visually distracting. When I'm not making mistakes, that is.

I've written to Toshiba Canada to express my displeasure of not having the option to choose a keyboard. Any future laptops I purchase for personal use will be bought in the US, purely for this reason. It's that important to me.

Toshiba Canada, I think you need to reconsider your position.


Every time I re-enable anonymous comments, I get someone who decides to hide behind anonymity and flame me. So I had to remove it again. I'm not interested in what you have to say if you won't identify yourself in some fashion.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Aging: Life's Cruel Joke

Just when you get to the point where you’re comfortable with yourself, life decides to throw the concept of aging at you, and then everything changes. For me, this seems to have manifested in a variety of physical changes: I’ve gained weight, my hair color has darkened rapidly, my skin is extremely dry. When I look in the mirror, I don’t recognize myself anymore. I fight against it, but deep down I know there’s not much I can do. It’s depressing, mainly because in our society, the older you are, the less respect people give to you. I didn’t get much respect to start with, I can’t imagine it going downhill from here.

I find it especially hard going from the straight size 0-2 that I used to be, to having to buy size 4 or 6 “curvy fit” pants and S instead of XS tops. Marketing strategists can come up with all kind of words for it, but essentially it all boils down to the fact that my hips have too much fat on them. “Curvy fit” doesn’t make me feel more feminine, it makes me feel fat. Clothes shopping is no longer a matter of seeing something I like and buying it, it’s now a huge rigmarole of trying a bunch of things on, realizing that clothing manufacturers only cater to people without hips, and deeply sighing at the thought that I didn’t used to have this problem.

I’m trying to eat healthier, exercise more, and hope that I can see some changes on the outside. I’m ashamed of the level I’m currently at, and I swore to myself I wouldn’t let it get this far. I’m probably the billionth person to say that, and may be the billionth person to fail at it. But for now this is my path, and I’m sticking to it.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Last year was a particularly busy one for me at work. I worked a lot of long hours on a new system implementation. One of my rewards was a gift certificate to a day spa for 5 hours worth of services. Since I am an average office worker Mon-Fri, and have church late on Saturday afternoon, I could never find 5h to devote to the spa. I chose instead to use the value of the gift cert to treat myself and my best friend to pedicures and manicures.

I opted for colored polish on my hands and feet. By day 2, the polish from my manicure had already started to chip. 5 days later, it's so bad that I will have to remove the polish rather than look this sloppy. I'm not impressed. I will accept some responsibility for being hard on a manicure, since I was out in the hot sun yesterday on an ATV in the woods (not the usual dealings of someone who gets manicures). However, I think my aesthetician and the quality of the products are also to blame. She did not go as far down on the nail with the polish as I would, perhaps this is what is taught in school, but it ends up looking like my manicure is two weeks old and has grown out. I was not familiar with any of the polish products used on me, but I especially am not impressed with the top coat. Top coat should protect against chipping, and yet it has basically worn off after 5 days.

I am debating a complaint to the spa, but I'm not sure I have any leg to stand on. The gift certificate was for a spa which went out of business, but a new spa opened in the same place. They decided to honor any outstanding gift certs for the old spa. They likely don't want to hear a complaint from [essentially] a non-paying customer. However, the service I received seems faulty. I really don't think it should look this bad, even though I haven't been easy on it. I don't think you should have to organize your life around protecting your nail polish. So I'm not sure what to do about it, but I will have to make a decision today. I have a party to attend tomorrow, and I can't leave it looking like this.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thoughts on Sirius|XM

One of the very few times where I actually want CanCon is in my 80s music. I grew up with Much Music, in a time when it was Znaimer-owned, and still had some integrity. A lot of the bands promoted on Much Music went on to have great careers and notoriety within Canada, and had some great songs. Many of these songs are right up there with Duran Duran and Heart in my playlist.

Listening to Sirius|XM, I miss hearing Canadian artists. They play a smattering of Bryan Adams and Corey Hart, and that's it. There is no time devoted to Kim Mitchell, The Payolas, The Box, The Grapes of Wrath, Alannah Myles, or Tom Cochrane (with or without Red Rider). The more I listen to Sirius|XM, the more I miss these artists. There is a channel for French Canadian programming, no doubt to comply with CanCon, but this leaves the English artists out in the cold.

One of the biggest problems with 80s on 8 is its repetitive nature. Its programming focuses around what was played on MTV, which I will grant were the biggest hits. The problem is that they play a lot of those hits once or more every day. As someone who listens to this channel in my car, and sometimes during the day in my office, it starts to get annoying after a while. A friend of mine, who received a free 3-month trial with his new car, declined to continue with the service. He cited dead zones and repetitiveness as the two main reasons he wouldn't be continuing with the service. "How many times can they play 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun'?"

Another problem with the programming is the division of catalog. As an 80s fan, I will flip between 80s on 8, Classic Rewind, and 1st Wave. I can only hear The Cure and Depeche Mode on 1st Wave, certain rock songs on Classic Rewind, and the rest on 80s on 8. Unless they are playing the weekly countdown, I would never hear things that were also hits of the 80s, like Kenny Rogers, Eddie Rabbit, or Stacey Q. There is a ton of variety to choose from, but they have segregated the programming so much that they end up with a repetitive mess, or as in the case of 1st Wave, some extremely mainstream pop songs mixed in with very obscure artists.

In one very weird example, 80s on 8 rarely (if at all) played Michael Jackson's Beat It until after his death. Arguably the biggest 80s artist, a song which is on the best selling album of all time, and was a big hit for him. XM, before the merge with Sirius, had a better 80s program director and better variety of music, with the small exception of being a little too focused on Jody Watley for a while. I don't think I've heard Jody Watley more than twice since the merger. Kenny Rogers and Eddie Rabbit had hits in the 80s, whether we like them or not. I can't believe they're finally playing an INXS song on 80s on 8. For being such a hit-prolific 80s band, you wouldn't know it from listening to this channel.

I took a look at the playlist for Galaxie, the commercial-free music service that is part of Canadian digital or satellite TV programming. This is pretty much what I want: Prince's When Doves Cry mixed in with National Velvet's Flesh Under Skin. Unfortunately, having only the old-style analog cable service means I don't get this programming, nor Much Retro, which would play the same style only in video form. If I were made of money, I would upgrade my cable to digital. Alas, I am spending too much money already on TV.

If I had an iPod, and a car with an iPod port, I'd be thinking a bit more strongly about canceling the subscription to the car. I'll be taking this into consideration when I go vehicle shopping next year. I just hope GM has finally smartened up regarding this type of technology. My car is a 2007, and yet it only has a 6-cd changer, and can't even play MP3s. I am probably the only person I know who still makes mixed CDs for my car.

All that being said, the current Sirius|XM is still better than traditional radio. It's easy and convenient to use in my car, and I can and do flip around to other channels. As a long time user, however, I realize how repetitive it truly is. Every once in a while, though, they pull something out that I had totally forgotten about. I guess that's what keeps me hanging on. I also like someone else making the decisions for me on the playlist... sometimes.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The game

Some days you just get tired of playing the game.  Today is one of those days.  I can’t get any answers.  I don’t think I have enough energy today to put up a fight.  Even if I did, I would probably just get flicked away.


I’m not intentionally trying to make anyone’s life more difficult.  It just so happens that people perceive it to be that way.  It’s difficult to explain that that is not the case.


Sometimes I feel the soul is slowly being sucked out of me, and then there will be nothing left. 


I’m not sure how I will get through what has been planned for August.



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20th

I added an app to this blog listing events on this day in history. Lots of interesting stuff there. Snow and hail fell in Calais, ME. Failed assassination plot on Hitler. 1st men on moon. Scottish settlers arrive in Pictou, NS.

I can't imagine snow on July 20. That would have been a crappy summer.

Speaking of summer, where's it going? It's already over halfway through July. Once August hits, I start to get a little nervy about summer ending soon. Guess I'd better enjoy the rest of July while it lasts.

Just under 3 weeks to go until the start of NFL preseason games. NFL, how I've missed you. I will enjoy seeing how the new landscape of players & teams pans out.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

To the California Penal System:

Please keep Lindsay Lohan in jail for the full 90 days. I don't care if they're overcrowded. Find a way.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Anniversary of birth

Nana would have been 86 today, had she not died at age 65. I'm missing her today.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I had allergy testing done this week. I tested positive for trees (Birch being the highest), moderate on dust mites, and low on cat pelt. This does not go well with my wood stove and basement full of wood, including lots of birch. There are also birch trees around my property, but about the only place I can go to escape birch is the desert.

I also have Romy, who we’ve allowed to come in and out of the bedroom at night as he pleases. Everything I read says that keeping the cat out of the bedroom is important. So is sleep. Having Romy scratch at the door all night because he can’t come in means I won’t sleep, and then allergies won’t matter so much. I also don’t consider the cat to be that much of a problem since it was one of the lowest-rated positive item. I swore I wouldn’t be a cat owner who was bullied into obeying the cat’s every whim, but the only time Romy actually likes me is when I’m unconscious/just waking up. He gets to stay, mainly because I don’t think he’s the problem.

My doctor has recommended allergy covers on the bed and pillows, keeping the cat out of the bedroom, and some running to determine if I have any signs of asthma. I can probably accomplish one of those. Running is not something I want to take up full-time as I don’t care to create damage to my joints. It may be worth some trial runs just to see how quickly I run out of breath and if I have a “twitchy” airway feeling.

My doctor also thinks that based on my results, I have understated my symptoms. I don’t really think they’re that bad. They were worse when I also had the sinus infection over the winter. Comparatively speaking, I’m much better now. Still, my medicinal therapy is to use Aerius (a.k.a. Clarinex in the US) and Nasonex once a day. I hate using Nasonex, as I find it always drips back down my nose and makes me more sneezy than before taking it. I also don’t want to rely on it as a long-term solution. I’m fine with Aerius, though I don’t like putting any medication in my body if I can avoid it.

This is my path for the next 7 weeks, and then I go back for another doctor visit to see how the therapies worked.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What is it, exactly?

The possibilities:

- Boredom
- Laziness
- plain old lack of caring
- lack of motivation
- Burnout

I haven't pinpointed it, but it's left me feeling pretty lethargic. I haven't yet come up with a goal, so I can't work toward it. That in itself is particularly frustrating.

At the rate I'm going, it feels like it will last this way for the rest of my life.

I need to figure this out.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New template

When I logged in to Blogger, I discovered a new template designer/formatter. Hello, new format! More purple = good!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Santa cables

Santa may be the only one who can get me the cables I need, so maybe I did.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mysterious washer

How exactly does an article of clothing come out of the washer more dirty than when it went in? I have eliminated the detergent and fabric softener as options. My washer has been doing this to clothing for years, sporadically. When it happens, it's usually a dark load (or at least that's the only place I'm noticing it). It happened using this same machine in my apartment uptown and my house.

I just don't get it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Keeping quiet

Ever draft a blog, thinking you know where you're going with it, somehow thinking you will manage to express your opinion without pissing off someone close to you? Doesn't quite work out, does it? Some people plow through and feelings be damned in the name of self-expression. I am just not that kind of person.

I drafted a blog on a topic and realized that where I was headed would likely end up pissing off a few people I know, so I have saved it as a draft and don't plan on posting it. I dislike censoring myself, but this blog is out there on the internet. Simultaneously, I don't know who's reading it, and I know who's reading it.

Blogs often seem like diaries, that you're the only one who cares or pays attention. I'm trying not to fall into that trap though, which ultimately leads me to fewer posts. Unfortunate, but necessary. The issue is very minor, and just not worth it.

Early morning

I set the alarm for 6:30am, got up around 6:45, and left the house around 7:35. I arrived at work at approximately 7:55. Normally it takes me around 10 minutes to get to work, so my travel time has now doubled due to the construction on the Harbour Bridge. Today's traffic was likely exacerbated by those who didn't realize the bridge was starting construction today (they apparently live under rocks, as it has been discussed throughout the city). Tomorrow I anticipate pretty much the same, only with the other bridge being more full of people who think it will be faster. I don't see much relief coming until the end of June, when the school year is finished.

This will be my life for the next 5 1/2 months, as the major construction on the bridge continues. The target date for finishing is Oct 31, but I believe that solely depends on our weather. If we have another rainy summer, this mess will likely drag on into November.

Even though it seems to fit better with my sleep patterns, I don't enjoy getting up that early for the purpose of getting to work on time. Granted, my usual start time is 8:30, so I didn't have to be up quite as early as I was today. If I was getting up early for some other fun purpose, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. But since I was here early, I started work early. No matter what time I come in, I'm here until 5pm anyway (this seems like an exaggeration, but is actually true. I've tried leaving early before, and something always happens to prevent me from leaving before 5pm). So, I just increased my work day and lessened my own spare time. Not exactly thrilled at this idea. It may translate into longer lunches instead. I debated sitting in my car and reading for a half hour, but didn't do it. If I sat in my office and read, someone would inevitably come in and ask me a work-related question, despite the book on my lap.

If I'm going to be stuck in traffic, I just wish it was a more glamorous location. I'd rather be stuck on the 405.

The only bonus to being here this early: I got my parking spot. Barely, as they were already filled up to immediately beside my spot. I would have been pissed to get here this early and still be unable to park in front of my window.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tombstone Trashing

The cemetery where my maternal grandparents are buried was vandalized last weekend. Thankfully their gravestone escaped the chaos, but I have not heard the fate of my uncle's. This is the latest in many vandalism incidents at this cemetery, and I think it's the most damaging.

The blame for these types of incidents usually goes to teenagers who are bored? evil? stupid? We don't know who vandalized the cemetery, but in some ways it doesn't matter. How anyone could do this to the final resting place of the dead is beyond me. I can't even find the appropriate words.

The Christian way is to forgive those who have done wrong, but I am finding it extremely difficult to be Christian in this situation. How can you do this? What point does it prove? Have any of these people offended you during their lives? I doubt it, given the mass destruction done to stones of every age. Even if an offense had taken place, this is no place or time for revenge.

I can only hope that when you get older, and someone does this to the stone of someone you loved, you'll realize how awful it feels. Maybe you haven't experienced death yet. It comes to everyone.

My spot

I fully admit to being obsessive-compulsive. I know I have a slight problem. So this blog is mainly just for my own venting purposes.

A while ago, while I was at work on a holiday, some kids came by, got on the ground and looked under my car. Since this isn't the greatest of neighborhoods, I wasn't sure what they were up to, but I was betting it wasn't good. They were young enough to be scared off by my pressing of the car panic button. My car was fine.

Since this incident, I have tried as much as possible to park immediately outside my office window, in what I have [in]appropriately labeled "my spot". Sometimes I will move my car when I see it has become free. My feelings have been exacerbated by the multitude of skateboarders who use our parking lot after 4:30, when I'm still here. Then I *really* want my car within view, so I can make sure it isn't getting hurt.

There is a Dodge Neon in our parking lot, owned by a woman who works at the company upstairs, which tends to be parked in a particular spot for the week. I assume she must take a company vehicle and travel for her job. She picks a random spot and parks there, leaving her car until late Friday. Yesterday, though it was a nice day and I should have gone for a walk at lunch, I had to leave my spot to go uptown. When I came back, the Neon was in it. Crap. There goes the opportunity to have my spot for the rest of this week.

This woman has done nothing wrong, it's not really "mine" nor reserved. I don't expect anyone to agree with me. It just grates on me that someone leaves their car in my spot for a whole week. I wish she'd pick *any* other spot, including one of the reserved spots for their company. I assume they leave those spots for executives. Granted she does drive a Neon, so I guess she doesn't care what happens to her car if it sits here overnight for days. I'd never leave my car in this parking lot overnight. Too many hooligans around. There are worse neighborhoods, to be sure, but this one still isn't great when it comes to vandalism at night. We have video surveillance, but if it is monitored, they don't ever seem to do anything about it security-wise. At least not that I have witnessed, since we still have a skateboarder problem.

Side note to the skateboarders: we built you a skate park. Go there. Stay away from my car.

So I'm just annoyed that I can't have "my spot" this week. Nothing I can do, I certainly can't go on a campaign to get my own reserved spot... that's about as likely as getting extra vacation time on my 10 year anniversary. I won't get 4 weeks of vacation until I'm here 20 years. Even then I still wouldn't get my own parking spot.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Winter clothes in summer, again

We’re entering into another summer season, which, in most parts of North America, can get quite hot. In my part of North America, it rarely goes above 25°C (77°F) because my city is on the water. I feel comfortable wearing shorts for maybe 2-3 weeks/year. I am a person who is always cold, I am also thin and don’t have as much body fat as other people.

In my office, our thermostats are networked. Despite having my own office, I don’t have much control over what the desired temperature should be. When we first moved in, the thermostat was capped at a maximum of 74°F (23°C). Then the cap moved to 73°F (22°C) and stayed at that level for quite a while. Today, I noticed that the cap has again been moved and is now at 71°F (21°C). This is happening due to the complaints of a couple of people, who are higher in rank than me, one of whom is constantly too hot. The placement of the building is such that on a sunny day, my side of the office becomes “superheated” and can reach temps up to 78-79°F (25-26°C). I am quite comfortable on those days, and on the off chance that I find it too warm, I remove the sweater I am usually wearing. The other side of the office is tolerable on a sunny day, and freezing on a cloudy day. Thankfully I do not work on that side of the building. Another co-worker has an office on the cold side of the building, and is constantly freezing.

What I find frustrating, other than not being able to control the individual temperature of my office, is that a good portion of the problem could be solved if the too-hot person swapped offices with the too-cold person. I have even suggested this as an option to both people, as it would keep the too-hot person from turning all the office thermostats down and making it colder for everyone. Office politics are involved in this, though, and thus no swap has ever occurred. I’m curious when the straw will break the camel’s back and the office swap may take precedence over other issues. Since the too-hot person is the boss of the too-cold person, this is a realistic option.

In the meantime, I’m usually ok if it is sunny for the morning, and my office gets heated naturally. On a semi-cloudy or overcast day, such as today, I’m now stuck somewhere in the 71°F range. I’m already wearing a sweater, debating a blanket for my legs, and have changed from shoes to sneakers because my feet are cold. I am also debating bringing in slippers to keep my feet warm, and possibly a bathrobe, since our landlord forbids space heaters as a potential fire hazard. It would look pretty silly, but it would get a point across.

I recently put away my winter pants and should move my winter sweaters to the basement. Now I’m not so sure that I should do it, from a comfort perspective. If I want to be warm enough, I may have to keep my winter clothes on during the summer, but that will likely make me feel even colder come winter.

I stopped into a clothing store the other day and saw some nice clothes, though they would be useless for me in this climate. Thin linen shirts are pretty much only good for vacations. How about something that is both summery and built for a cold office? I guess that’s never going to happen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No breasts at all, thanks

A friend of mine joined a group on Facebook to protest the fact that Facebook treats pictures of breast feeding in the category "obscene":

In North America, however, and some other parts of the “developed” world...we seem to have forgotten this very simple truth. Womens' breasts have become a symbol of sex. They are used to sell everything from cars to clothes to beer....they have been deemed obscene, sexually explicit and indecent for view by Facebook. Ironic, isn't it? that in the context of sex, we are inundated with images everywhere we look of womens' breasts as commodity, but see practically no examples of them shown in the normal context of breastfeeding. Why is is?[sic]
When corporations and social groups (like Facebook) create and uphold policies that label breastfeeding as obscene or objectionable, the myths that breastfeeding is private, socially inappropriate or sexually explicit are perpetuated and this has a detrimental effect on societal perception and attitudes surrounding breastfeeding. This in turn has a detrimental impact on breastfeeding initiation and duration rates and stigmatizes and demeans women who are doing nothing wrong. This group is one small step in the effort to normalize breastfeeding and to break down barriers that make it more difficult for women to do so. Thank you for your support.

I agree that breastfeeding is natural. If you're a mother, make the choice and breastfeed if you like. Here's the problem: where do your rights end and mine begin? As a straight woman, I have absolutely no interest in seeing the breasts of other women, whether it be in a sexual or natural context. I simply do not want to be walking down the street and seeing a breast, in an advertisement or a mother breastfeeding her child. Breast feeding zealots have determined, however, that their rights are more important than mine, and thus they can do whatever they please, wherever they please.

If I were to have children and chose to breastfeed, I would not want to expose my breasts in public while feeding. Even though I think the process natural, how do I know the guy next to me in the food court isn't a pervert who enjoys every minute? I would make the choice to do it in private because *I* would feel more comfortable. I would not want others staring at me, seeing my private body parts. I'm a private person, I just don't want to expose myself in that way.

The most significant question I have for this Facebook group is: why are women posting breastfeeding pictures in the first place? Is it purely an exercise in normalization? Or do some women enjoy showing the world that they are breastfeeding their baby?

I am not a mother. I do not have the personal experience to back up my opinions on breastfeeding. What I do know is that it is not as easy as this group purports it to be. I have heard the stories of friends and family who have struggled so hard to make breastfeeding work for them, and it ended up with both mother and baby being miserable. Frankly, this group sounds like the bullying nurses in hospitals who think it's a capital offense to feed a baby formula. Though it has been scientifically proven that breast milk is best for babies, it does not factor in the baby not able to eat breast milk, not sleeping, incessant fussing, miserable mother who can't get any sleep.

We live in a world where there are options, where we know more about things like lactose intolerance. Having a baby is supposed to be one of the greatest experiences in one's life, but only if you are breastfeeding, apparently. Not every baby is as accepting of the "natural way". I doubt that this is a new problem, only that we now have more options.

In summary:
You have a right to choose breastfeeding, but I have a right not to see your breast in a public place.
I also have the right to choose how I want to feed my baby without you forcing a method down my throat, and trying to guilt me into the "right" choice.
I have the right to choose privacy when feeding my baby without feeling guilty for promoting the "natural way".

Ontario Rx drugs

This had better not mean closing stores in the Maritimes to combat the costs.

Rx drugs must be dirt cheap to produce. Forget being a doctor or a lawyer or even winning the lotto. Run a drug company.

The inherent problem with drug companies is that they are for-profit organizations. Morally, how can you charge so much for something that may determine life or death for another person? How did we let drug companies get so strong and powerful that they can determine life or death? It's not fair, but fair is a place you go to get on rides.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

NB keeps going down the tubes

The proposed deal to sell NB Power to Hydro Quebec is now dead. To the vocal people who were against the sale, I have one thing to say: It's your turn to come up with something to help us, and I hope you have a better idea.

Few people truly understood how the deal actually worked, and I'm not one of them. But the overreaction by many NBers to this sale left me with a continued feeling of being trapped in a place that denies change at any turn (ironically, since I dislike and fight change regularly). We're now left with a struggling utility that was in bad shape to start, a nuclear power plant that is currently being refitted and is so behind schedule that it is costing us $1M per day to source extra power, and other old-school power sources (such as coal) that not only use limited resources but are harmful to the environment. We're screwed. Really, really screwed.

The idea was right: we needed help. NB Power made up a huge portion of our debt. The problem was that we overvalued what we had, and the politicians didn't anticipate it being such a hot-bed topic. Even though the deal is dead, it will likely result in the current government getting the boot come September. That is unfortunate. They didn't do enough public consultation, but I truly don't think it's enough of a reason to kick them out of power. In the previous election, we kicked the Tories out of power because they pissed us off, so we're basically just a bunch of flip-flopping voters in this province. We react to whatever the latest news is, rather than examining the work done over the past term and also examining what the other major political party has to offer (not much, and we already have enough Tories and Tory policy in Ottawa). I've had performance evaluations done the same way: well, last month you screwed this one item up, so we're docking you on this evaluation. We'll neglect to mention all of the good jobs you've done, because the screw-up was the most recent.

Overall I wasn't comfortable with the idea of our power system or assets being sold to Quebec. As an English Canadian, I am born with a skepticism about Quebec and their separatist tendencies every few decades. It is also my belief that the buyer of something like this would be getting the better deal: Jean Charest is a smart guy. I wasn't totally ok with it, but I didn't have a better idea. NB needed something to help eliminate our crushing debt. The idea was a step in the right direction, at least.

Power rates will go up: that is a given now. Someone has to pay for maintenance to our system, and service NB Power's debt. SJ itself is already in a lot of trouble. We're already paying the highest property taxes in the province, and yet our municipality is still considering cutting services and making us pay user fees for garbage pickup. SJ's roads are crumbling because we never take a preventative maintenance stance on infrastructure. Our water pipes are, in some cases, 100 year old wooden pipes. The water coming out of it is so green that it is akin to a swimming pool. Our dreams of being an "energy hub" are pretty much down the toilet, with the cancellation of the 2nd oil refinery, Irving Oil world headquarters' new building, and (IMO) an announcement soon on the cancellation of plans for a 2nd nuclear reactor. All I am left with are higher taxes, crappy services, and over-inflated property values from all of the "great things" that were happening. I am rapidly running out of reasons why this is a good place to live. If it weren't for my family and friends, I would probably be living in SoCal... enduring brown-outs and getting an IOU on my tax refund from the state.

Hope to hear from the naysayers soon on their better idea for eliminating debt. These are the same people who will complain the loudest when our power rates increase, mark my words.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Programming circles

I logged in to a supplier's website for work and saw this note:

Action Required ALL [website] Users:
Please review this link with the [website name] Changes and training NOW to prepare yourself for the changes.

I clicked on the link, got kicked out, and saw this message:

Please login to [website name]
You are not authorized to perform this operation.
This is NOT a password problem.

Hmmm, well, then what kind of problem is it? Guess I won't be training on the new changes anytime soon if I'm not authorized. Funny, seeing as how I'm an administrator.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Situational Martyr

I've run across this situation at least 3 times in the last few months. You're having or reading a discussion on a topic, and it is suddenly interrupted by The Situational Martyr.

For instance, I was reading a blog about real vs fake mashed potatoes, initiated by the blogger who paid $25 for a meal at a restaurant only to receive fake mashed potatoes. People were discussing their likes and dislikes, when along came The Situational Martyr. "You can have the luxury of complaining about taste when your belly is full. Everything tastes good when your belly is empty." "You are lucky that you can afford to pay $25.00 for a plate of food."

Thanks, Situational Martyr! I never would have thought about all the hungry people in the world without you there to remind me. It's great that you're so much better than I am, and you're able to attempt to make me feel guilty for affording food. Way to go!

The Situational Martyr also struck recently on my husband's blog. By discussing an issue, it's amazing how the Situational Martyr can swoop in and instantly make you feel small and worthless... if you let him.

The third instance dealt with a friend's Facebook status and I believe the issue was Haiti. Though my memory is fuzzy, I believe The Situational Martyr stepped in to remind us that we should be glad to have a roof over our heads. Again, thanks Situational Martyr! I am never thankful or grateful for what I have, so I count on you to remind me that I'm a pathetic 1st-world greedy slob.

In two of the three cases, The Situational Martyr has chosen to remain anonymous. This is a bullshit cop-out. If you feel this way, why won't you attach your name to it? Does it mean you're embarrassed by your own martyrdom? That can't be possible. The Situational Martyr is too full of himself not to make known his true identity. Another case of the internet creating anonymity so that you don't have to own your feelings and can facelessly hurt others.

I'm confused as to why people can't have a simple discussion about mashed potatoes without being party-crashed by The Situational Martyr. So the blogger wants to discuss potatoes, but you feel the need to make every respondent feel petty and worthless with your reminder that we're lucky to have food? I dare say that this type of response actually makes you worse than those who frivolously discuss potatoes.

What do you do to give thanks, Situational Martyr? Do you never take anything for granted? At minimum, on a weekly basis I consciously pray and give thanks for all that I have in life. I'd be surprised if most people, including you, do this on a regular basis. I'm sick of people like you who try and make yourself look better by putting others down. If I haven't done enough in my life to help the imbalance between rich and poor, then it's up to God to judge me for that, not you.

Florida recap

Overall we had a very good trip to Florida. It was filled only with things we wanted to do, we slept until we woke up naturally, and had lots of time on our hands. I probably would have felt quite rested if it weren't for the sore throat that started on our last day there. I think I'm finally almost over it.

It was cold and windy most of the time we were there. Coldest March Break trip to Florida I've ever had. I wore shorts for a couple of hours one day, that was it; more for posterity than anything else. Temps were in the teens, barely reaching 20°C range. It has been that way in Florida this season, hopefully next year will be better.

The weather limited our activities a bit. I had planned on sitting outside for meals, by the pool reading, or if it was quite hot, I'd even venture to cool myself in the water. Instead, we ended up inside watching TV or movies or reading, which is primarily what we do at home. In that respect, Florida wasn't the best place to go to warm up, but when we booked the trip, we didn't know the temps would be below seasonal.

We got to eat at our favourite places: Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Dennys, Krispy Kreme, Quiznos. We didn't make it to IHOP because John assuaged his pancake desires at Dennys. Breakfast at restaurants is expensive. Other than Krispy Kreme and Dennys, we mostly ate breakfast at home. Some days we had a large lunch and just some leftovers for dinner. I miss having everything so close by, like SoCal.

Arriving around midnight was actually not that bad of an idea. We were tired, but there was no traffic on the roads and we were able to fumble around with directions and wrong lanes without wreaking havoc. It had been 5 years since I was last there, and a lot of roads and routes have changed, so parts were new to me. I actually feel like I know my way around Orange County better than Florida, but this trip was a good Florida refresher.

Our first morning included a trip to Dennys, where we tried the new pancake appetizers. They're like round donut holes fried until crispy and you dip them in syrup. Tasty, but you really need a side plate because otherwise the dripping syrup creates a mess. After Dennys, we discussed what to do next. John suggested SeaWorld, but I didn't feel that going from noon onward was a decent use of the expensive ticket, we really needed a full day to get our money's worth. We stopped at Target for some grocery shopping, and then headed back to the house. We turned on the TV to find out there had been a whale attack on a trainer at SeaWorld. It made national news, and stories as to what happened were conflicting. Glad we weren't there that day after all.

John humored me with lots of shopping time. Most days he was fine, but he was having bad arthritis the day we went to the mall, so I had to cut things short. We decided the next day that he'd bring a book and sit in the car if he got too sore/tired, but it was a better arthritis day and I didn't have as many places to hit at the outlet mall.

We stayed at my Dad's rental house, so it was pretty much like having all the comforts of home. The only exception to that was the lack of TiVo, which you really miss when you don't have it. It probably wouldn't have been missed so badly if the weather had been nicer and we were out and about instead of inside watching TV/Olympics. The TVs were better than home, Dad recently replaced the existing units with new LCDs. That gave us a good test of the Vizio brand. Granted, most LCDs will look better than a CRT these days.

I found a sale online and bought us tickets for Medieval Times. That was an attraction I had driven past plenty of times, but never actually stopped and went in. We enjoyed our time there, the show was entertaining, but the people in our section didn't seem to want to cheer on our knight. We were frequently the loudest people in the red section, and we're not very loud to begin with. I think this is an event where you need to go with a group of friends, and a time when loud, drunk friends come in handy. ;) Because it is emulating a time without cutlery, you're supposed to eat everything with your hands. I had no problem with this rule, but the people beside me brought their own cutlery... lame. So my hands got dirty, big deal. I actually liked drinking my soup. I'd definitely go again, but next time I would prefer to take friends with us.

If we are fortunate enough to go again next year, I hope the weather will be warmer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Woken by Thunder

I'm in Florida. I was awoken by thunder, not something I hear regularly where I'm from. Looking forward to a week of not wearing my winter coat & boots.

I'm in a phase of not updating my facebook status. Not sure how long it will last, but right now I don't feel like rubbing in everyone's face that I'm on vacation somewhere sunny & warm (no offense to those who do). Sometimes I get in these moods where I want people to actually seek me out rather than have my doings appear in front of them. If I was counting, that plan isn't working out so well thus far.

Saturday night we're headed to Medieval Times, which I've driven past plenty of times but never actually been to. [Wow, raining pretty hard out.] Other than that, we don't have a lot specifically planned. I have lots of places I'd like to go shopping, and I'm also quite content to sit & read. John has expressed an interest at "seeing" DisneyWorld, but I'm not sure if we'll actually enter a park. Downtown Disney is free access and lots of shopping/restaurants, maybe we'll hit that. The vacation world is our oyster.

This is the first vacation I've had in a long time that wasn't attached to a work meeting. Though I did answer a few work emails in the airport last night, I plan on actually being on vacation. I do need and will enjoy a break from work. I need to recharge.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Food reviews

My husband mentioned the new Milky Way Caramel bar, and I went on a hunt for some images and/or product info. I stumbled upon a blogger who does food reviews, and I found her site really interesting. Check it out if you have a chance. Lots of pics and honest opinions, which I like.

Gigi's review of the In N Out Double Double really reminds me of how much I miss In N Out :(

Monday, February 08, 2010

Medical advancements?

As I sat in my doctor's office and my local hospital, it struck me how manual these operations still are.

In my doctor's office, the only computer to be seen is on the receptionist's desk. If there is one in the doctor's office, I wouldn't know, as she doesn't normally take patients in there. She wrote me a manual order for urine testing, on a pad of pre-printed forms on which she can also request blood work. She also wrote me a couple of prescriptions, mostly legible compared to a lot of doctors (though I still can't make out some of her writing). My doctor writes her comments and notes on loose leaf in my chart. From what I can tell, my chart is just a pile of notes and reports that aren't really organized in any fashion other than chronologically, in that the most recent test result is likely on top. The real kicker is the fact that she waits for snail mail for test results, which usually takes 2 weeks from the lab to my doctor's desk. If it was an emergency, she may call the hospital for a verbal report.

I stopped by one of my local hospitals to drop off my urine sample. I pressed the button on the ticket machine to get a thermal-printed number, and waited for my turn to sit at a desk (some desks are not private) and my number to appear on a digital display. I answered a bunch of questions for the registration process (where I'm going, what for, who ordered the tests, and verified my contact info was still accurate). Then I proceed over to specimen collection to obtain labels for my urine samples. The clerk took my paper order from my doctor, entered some info, checked that I had registered in the lobby, and printed laser labels for me to attach to the bottles. I dropped the samples in a Rubbermaid bin which sits out in front of the counter, free for anyone to contaminate.

On a previous visit to one of the two hospitals in my city, I was really surprised to find that their computer information systems are not linked. I have a provincially-issued Medicare number, which I thought meant that there was a central database of my information that could be accessed by any hospital in the province (wrong!) or at the very least, hospitals in my immediate region (still wrong!). What I discovered was that each hospital has its own information store on me... I still can't believe that is true in 2010.

The hospitals in my region recently switched to an "appointment-only" system for bloodwork. We do not have privately-run blood labs like my husband had in SoCal; all bloodwork must be done at a hospital or designated satellite location. Under the new system, you must call for an appointment at a specific location. While waiting for my urine sample labels, I noticed that the appointment system is a series of large binders full of paper forms, with appointments written in pencil. Seriously. One binder for each hospital/satellite location and one person answering the phone, penciling in appointments.

That day's visit to the hospital yielded some more puzzling administrative questions. This hospital is very large, and serves our city as well as our region. In some cases, people are transferred here from other parts of the province for specialized care. While I do agree that finding your way around can be challenging if you are new, I am not sure this is the best way to handle things.

Wayfinding kiosks?!?! My heart goes out to the senior citizens, who simply want to ask a real human being where the x-ray department is. Do you get the feeling that soon, there will be reduced hours for the human at the info desk, and possibly its elimination?

In my mind, I visualize something so totally different than what we currently have:

I would be able to make a doctor's appointment for a non-emergency issue that would be sooner than 6 weeks away. When I go to my doctor's office, she would have a PC in every exam room. On this PC, she could call up my chart, search for similar complaints, perhaps cross-reference my symptoms. She could call up test results from a centralized database which is shared among the medical community for the province. In this database, test results would be summarized with a flag for "follow-up needed" so that those results could be addressed first. If she needs me to go get bloodwork or drop off a urine sample, she would ask me which hospital I'd prefer to use, and then submit a request with all of the appropriate tests. This request would reside in the database, and would be accessed by the specimen collection desk at the hospital. I would go straight to the specimen collection desk (why would I need to register for a sample drop-off?), they'd pull up my doctor's request and pertinent info, and away I go.

If I needed to register at the hospital, kiosks would be available for non-complex registrations. I would walk up to one, swipe my medicare card, reconfirm my info, specify where I was going, etc. This is one area where I think human interaction isn't necessarily needed, especially for patients who make frequent/routine visits to clinics or labs. This is where I think spending money on kiosks would actually do some good. I am, however, a strong believer in having humans available to help those who do not want to use a kiosk system. You shouldn't force technology on those who are timid, just because you think it is easy. You also shouldn't cause a giant bottleneck by not using technology.

For prescriptions, my doctor would have completed a request via the PC in the exam room, asking at the time which pharmacy I would like to use. I assume here that the system is simple enough for the doctor to click options and hit send faster than writing everything out on a pad of paper, and linked with the existing notes she is making on my electronic chart anyway (as she's charting the Rx, it also creates the Rx). If the doctor does not have enough time, it could be a two-step process. The doctor fills out the Rx portion and approves using a PIN/password. The receptionist could then fill out the pharmacy and do the actual transmission. There would also be a box for "fill now" or "fill later", so that when I went to the pharmacy, the Rx was ready for pickup (or on file for later).

Bloodwork appointments should be available to request online. I would log in to a secure site, do a lookup for what is available, and compare different locations for availability. I could take a moment to compare that to my personal calendar, instead of making someone on the other end of the phone wait while I make sure I'm available at the time they give me, as opposed to the time I choose.

Most of what I see in the medical profession is done with the attitude that the profession's time is more valuable than the patient. I think it's time to prioritize the patient's time for a change, and let me get through my medical processes a bit faster. I may still have to wait a while for an x-ray or a CAT scan, but life would be a lot simpler if I could drop off a urine sample in less than an hour.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Brangelina: just another Average Joe couple

The whole media-invented triangle of Brad-Jen-Angelina has been going on for 5 years now. Hard to believe it’s 5 years later and we’re still getting tabloid stories of how Jen is lonely and Angelina and Jen fighting, etc. Now there are swirling rumors that Brad and Angelina are breaking up because they haven’t appeared together at recent awards shows and are not scheduled to appear at the Oscars this year.

We really don’t know these people from a hole in the wall. All we know is what we are told by entertainment media, who will tell us anything as long as we keep reading/watching. Let’s liken this situation down to an Average Joe level.

Guy leaves his wife for another woman. This happens so often in real life that it has almost become the norm. Most people would expect the parties to have moved on by now. Why can magazines still be sold that purport “fights” between these two women? Why does anyone care? There have been plenty of instances of this situation in Hollywood before, but none have kept hanging on this long. How many years will it take before we stop reading these stories? I guess it doesn’t help that, according to the media, Jen hasn’t really had a new marriage-worthy relationship since Brad left. I can’t help but wonder, if Brad and Angelina do break up, and after the inevitable “Brad goes running back to Jen” stories, if we’ll finally be treated to not having to read about the faux triangle anymore.

[Sidebar: Or, another thought: is one of the three parties so desperate for media attention that they feed little tidbits to the magazines to keep them printing stories? My money’s on Jen, but that’s probably because I don’t care for her public image anyway. I think she’s a run of the mill actress who isn’t as gorgeous as I keep being told she is.]

As far as this supposed breakup goes, I’m confused on why not making appearances together constitutes a breakup. They are possibly the biggest celebrity couple going right now. They can never escape the camera, but don’t you think they’d like to sometimes? Do we think Angelina likes taking hours to get ready for an awards show over & over again? If she’s like any other typical American, she likes some time lounging in sweatpants and t-shirts (she just can’t do that in public as that would be image-ruining). According to the media, this is a couple who do a lot for various charitable causes. Angelina for the UN, Brad for New Orleans, etc. They have a charitable foundation. They have stated they would not marry until gay marriage was legal. If they have these strong actions and beliefs, wouldn’t it make sense that they think award shows are fluff and meaningless? I doubt their hearts are breaking that they can’t appear. Stars appear at these shows because they need to promote themselves. I can’t think of two people who need promotion less than they do. Neither have a movie out right now that is in dire need of promotion, and I don’t think Brad’s in the running for any nominations, despite the moderate success of Inglorious Basterds.

All this being said, there can only be so many rumors before we find out it's actually true. Given her previous comments about never wanting to be "the other woman" after what her parents went through, I'm surprised it lasted this long.

Addendum: in the same vein, E! discusses this in Conspiracy Corner.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Punishment for keeping things safe

Regarding this incident.

I applaud the state trooper for chasing a criminal across the border. I think a suspension was too harsh when the guy she was chasing was a potential DUI. So he gets to run the border and she has to just stop and let him go? That doesn't sound reasonable.

Did she have the jurisdiction to arrest him after crossing the border? No. I think she should have been allowed to chase him, radio for Canadian help, and detain him until Canadian help arrived and gave him a breathalyzer. Then the Mounties could have thrown his ass in jail and/or deported him back to the US. I don't care what kind of "situation" happened to a relative, that doesn't give you the right to run from the police. If you don't want to deal with the police, don't do stuff that makes them want to come after you. Dumbass!!!

This is a case of laws and rules not equating with common sense. I agree with one of the comments, I hope the penalty for not stopping at the border crossing was more harsh than a DUI. With the way the legal system works, it probably is.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Unknown ailment

After returning home in September, I developed what I thought was an allergy. Every day since then, I have woken up with congestion, sneezing, nose-blowing, and slightly crappy feeling. Some days are worse than others, a few days have required an Advil cold & sinus tablet, but most days I have just put up with it and went on with my day. It's been frustrating, but I wasn't sure I wanted to go through allergy testing. At first, I thought I was getting a cold, but then it just kept going without really getting any worse.

Yesterday it got worse. I was coughing, the runny nose just didn't stop, and I felt worse than usual. I talked to my mother, and she suggested that I could have a sinus infection going on. Since it is not high allergy season, it wasn't as likely to be an allergy, and that it could be feasible for a sinus infection to hang around since September. She suggests it could also be a sinus infection caught from being on an airplane, and this started right after I flew home from SoCal.

I managed to sneak in on a cancellation with my doctor this coming Monday afternoon. We'll see what she has to say. I will probably have to go in diagnosing myself, and she will probably berate me for not bringing it to her attention sooner as I have been in to see her since it began. Of course, she will berate me quickly without letting me get a word in edgewise, and then throw drugs at me with the hope that it will fix the issue. Always such a fun experience going to my GP.

Today I'm feeling better than yesterday, but it could just be the meds helping me out. It could have turned into a cold now, but I can't tell because half of my symptoms have been there for months. My throat is a bit wonky, but not the usual sore throat at start of cold that I tend to get. I dunno. I just want to not wake up miserably sneezing and nose-blowing every day anymore.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Yes Virgina, train tracks ARE still dangerous in 2010

This article made me very angry at lunch today. It should be entitled "I'm too stupid to not realize that stopping on railroad tracks is potentially dangerous".

I've gone through that area many times. I do not sit on the tracks, as I am aware that at any moment, the warning may come on and a train may be coming by. I've seen many people ignore the tracks though, and sit on them [seemingly] without a care.

If you're dumb enough to sit your car there while you wait to get to Retail Land, then it should be a case of natural selection doing its duty.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Facebook color status = LAME

This is lame. Here's why:

1) No explanation of what's going on. How can you raise awareness when no one knows what's going on? Usually these FB things say to copy & paste something to your status. Yes, the mystery does make it go viral faster, I will grant that, but...
2) Simply posting a color doesn't do ANYTHING to raise awareness for a cause.
3) It's called UNDERwear for a reason. The only person I want knowing the color of my skivvies is my husband. I'm bashful that way.

If you want to raise awareness for Breast Cancer, make it clear what you're posting and why. Otherwise, donate time or money and accomplish something that will actually help someone.

Of course, by posting this blog, I have just made you aware of Breast Cancer. I can't even complain without somehow helping their lame premise.

Possible church closures

Regarding this article.

I hate to see this happen, but there is no doubt that church closures will have to happen in my home province. Priest enrollments are down, people are dissatisfied with the ways of the Catholic church, and fewer people are attending services. Everyone has the right to choose if or how they worship. It seems as though a lot of people just don't care about church or religion, and that is their choice.

What bothers me are those who seem to make it a seasonal event. If you go at Christmas, Easter, and insist that your wedding or funeral be held at a particular church, why aren't you there the rest of the time? Is it truly *that* hard to attend weekly, or even monthly? I'm not even talking from a totally religious perspective -- churches need money. If you want this building, this institution, to remain available for you, then you need to contribute more than a few times/year. I am not trying to single anyone out in particular. I am just concerned by the seeming indifference by some people that the church will always be there when they need it. I have heard stories of demanding brides and families over weddings and funerals. Some act as though the church and priest must bend over backward to appease their every whim. The priest is going to be much more accommodating to a parishioner with whom he is familiar, and who contributes to the community, whether it be financially or volunteer activity, etc.

The Catholic church is rich. My local church is not. Are we suddenly going to see the Vatican sell off its riches and dole the proceeds out to the local communities? Not likely. Therefore, it's up to the parishioners of a church to contribute time/money/etc. to keep their church alive, both spiritually and structurally. My church recently asked its members for an additional $2/week to help cover a new rent payment we must make for our rectory/office space. Do I sit back and whine about how much gold is at the Vatican? I can, but that doesn't solve the problem.

I can see the writing on the wall when it comes to possible closures. We have had at least two bishops over recent history who have done nothing to address the problem. We simply have too many buildings compared to demand, and demand doesn't appear to be increasing anytime soon. It makes financial sense that some buildings will have to be shut down and combined with others.

My church is one that I would assume to be on the chopping block. It was built in the 1880s, and requires a lot of maintenance that we can't afford. We're not currently making our operating budget. In this area of the city, there is another church that is only 50 years old, and large enough to accommodate both congregations. There is a third church, the smallest of the three, that remains open despite having a very small congregation. Realistically, we can only support one church in this area, not three, but no one has been brave enough to take action. I would hate to see my church go. I am attached to the building, the organ, the feel. I know it makes sense that we should all go to the newer church and close the other two, but it's a hard pill to swallow.

The harsh reality is that people are moving away from the church/organized religion. We can't keep ignoring it, we have to do something to stem the monetary bleeding. I hope my financial and volunteer contributions can help my church stay afloat and open for people. If you want to keep the doors open too, you need to help more than a few times per year.