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The assorted meanderings, rantings, and pontifications of... us!

Topics may include, but will not be limited to: feminism, hockey, atheism, shoes, politics, fat acceptance, fitness, skepticism, dancing, introversion/HSP issues, and anything else that happens to be on my mind.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Good day, Less-good day

I know that if this is all I have to complain about, my life is pretty darned good.

The good day: Saturday, March 25, 2006

6:45 AM - Sun is coming in the window. Wake up, stretch, snuggle back under the blankets.

7:00 AM - Clock radio comes on to CBC. Weather forecast is good. Cat says prrrt! and comes to snuggle with me. She wants breakfast but will settle for petting.

8:00 AM - Bladder and cat have gotten insistent enough that I get up. Feed cat, eat breakfast, drink tea, listen to CBC.

8:30 - 10:30 - Drink tea. Listen to CBC. Pet Cat. Brush Cat. Play with Cat. Drink tea.

10:30 - Sofa that I ordered back in January delivered without any problems.

11:00 - Grocery shopping. The produce had been looking lacklustre the last few weeks, but this week it's good again.

1:30 - Assorted housework

6:00 - Battlestar Galactica with S.

8:00 - Put on Oilers jersey, go to pub, watch game. Eat pizza and wings. Drink beer.

11:00 - Oilers win. Stagger home singing Ole, Ole-ole-ole

Less-good day: Tuesday, March 28, 2006

2:00AM - Kitty has been galloping up and down the hall playing with her ball since midnight, but now she's pushed it under the fridge. She meows piteously until I get up and fish it out.

3:00AM - repeat

5:30AM - it's not pitch dark out any more, and Kitty decides it's time for breakfast NOW. I burrow under the covers to avoid her toe-biting persuasion, and get back to sleep by 6:30ish.

7:00AM - clock radio goes off. Something is wrong and there's a loud buzz that almost drowns out the voices. Hit snooze.

7:10AM - feed cat. Eat breakfast. Try to listen to the radio but the radio in the living room, but it's even worse than the one in my bedroom.

7:50AM - leave for work. Work isn't bad.

5:30PM - get home from work. Try to put on Disk Drive. CBC FM isn't working any better than CBC AM was in the morning. All non-CBC stations seem to be working fine.

6:20PM - I'm tired and grouchy but S. and I go to the gym anyway. When I change into my gym clothes, I discover the pants I brought aren't the pants I thought they were, and they have a huge hole in the crotch. My panties are zebra-striped so there's no way they'll blend with the black pants. S. promises to watch my six and let me know if the panties make an appearance.

8:00PM - workout salvaged, for the most part. S. assures me my panties were never visible. However I went too hard and did something to my shoulder, and it hurts enough that I have trouble shampooing my hair.

8:30PM - go for dinner, watch the game. S. informs me that while he never saw the hole in my pants, they were worn so thin that he could see the zebra pattern in places anyway. Oilers lose.

Yeah, call me a blinkin waaahmbulance.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Alberta Politics Prediction

Remember how Ralphie came to power?

I was just a kid then, but as I recall, the deal was, Getty had way overspent us into debt and wrecked all sorts of things and omg omg it was like, so awful, and we kept on and on hearing how awful it was.

And then (cue the trumpets, ta-da) Klein showed up to save us all and the PC Party was reborn from its ashes and we massively voted for change by re-electing the same party all over again.

Now Klein is just embarrassing himself over and over and even conservative papers like the Sun are going on about how terrible he is.

But lo, what hope from yonder window breaks? Why, 'tis the dissident Oberg, valiantly calling out the fallen saviour.

Who wants to bet, the PCs are reborn yet again under Oberg's dissident mantle, and Albertans vote for the same party that's been in charge for the last 35 years, because it's time for a change.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

World of Warcrack.

Ever need to waste a week or a month...etc You get the idea.

It is easy, go down to your local computer retailer, pick up one copy of World of Warcraft and then watch the free time slip away. For those not in the gaming loop, WoW is a persistent massively multiplayer online role playing game. It is enough to know that it worse than a heroin/crack/morphine addiction. But gosh, it is fun.

It is nice to have some achievable goals once and awhile. You mean I just have to collect 10 shark-tail fin tips and I get more experience? How nice! How unlike rallying against the forces of evil in the real world it is. Although casting a fireball anywhere near GWB would be great fun, it just is not practical.

But yes, the posts have been less frequent, and now you know why… WoW-crack has me at least for a couple of more months before school starts.


Where we've been (in case anybody is checking)

Banff! Pictures once I download them from my camera.

I think it was the best little holiday I've ever had. We lived like dogs, pretty much. Ate, slept, went for walks, ate some more, napped, you get the picture. (Also sat in the hotel hot tub and the hotsprings, but that's not so dog-like)

OMG the things we ate!

There's this little vegetarian/vegan restaurant tucked way up on the top floor of the building where they make fudge in the window and deliberately blow the chocolate smell on to the street through a strategically placed vent. The restaurant is called Nourish. It's all done in red and orange and brown and feels warm and cozy. Two people work there, a thin, slightly stooped old man who speaks quietly and slowly, and a vivacious young woman.

As we sit down, the old man starts his spiel - it's the same for every customer - about special dietary needs, their to die for chocolate amaretto cheesecake, and instructions to go back down to the counter to sniff all the teas, which they blend themselves. So we sniffed all the teas, a dozen or so, from traditional things like chai and jasmine and earl grey, to blueberry rooibus and things I couldn't pronounce and therefor I don't remember.

We started with a roasted garlic and red pepper soup that I'm salivating thinking about now. If we had been the only customers, we would have licked our bowls. I was tempted anyway. S had an amazing sandwich on grilled sourdough with caramelized onions, portabello mushrooms, red peppers, and organic cheddar cheese. I had one of their signature sandwiches, avocado, pear, and brie. Also very good, although a bit bland, probably better with the swiss cheese they normally make it with because that would add a bit of zip. And that to-die-for cheesecake he was selling us on when we came in? He wasn't kidding. It was When Harry met Sally good. We finished with a pot of jasmine tea - you could see the flowers - and even though we sipped it very slowly and it steeped the whole time, it never got bitter. We went back the next day and bought some jasmine and some earl grey to take home. The earl grey was, bar none, the best earl grey I've ever had.

And then another day we ate in this faux Irish pub, which was also phenomenal. It took a whole page of their menu, in three columns, to list all the beers they had on tap. I had a Wild Rose Wraspberry Ale. I couldn't taste the raspberries, but it was refreshing and had a zippiness to it that was really pleasant. S. had a Smithwick's, which he apparently liked, but it gave me bitter beer face.

Crab, asparagus, and Guinness soup, anybody? Hell yeah. Turkey, strawberry, and brie sandwich? OMG.

Other than that, our hotel was cheap, good, located just the right distance from the busy part of Banff Avenue, had a fantastic included continental breakfast with what appeared to be homemade granola, and the staff were really helpful and genuinely cheerful.

We had meant to do all sorts of stuff, like go to concerts at the Banff Centre, go up the gondola, and maybe even go for little hikes, but in the end the only hiking we did was up and down the touristy shopping strip. Somehow that didn't matter and we came home refreshed and happy.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Lets hear it for Quebec Senators!

The recent letter correspondence between Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette and the McLellan family from Minnesota was a brilliant example of what can happen when the truth is allowed to seep out through the cracks of the media establishment. Let me quote the letter excerpt from the CBC news Website.

“In her response, Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette said that what she finds horrible is "the daily massacre of innocent people in Iraq, the execution of prisoners – mainly blacks – in American prisons, the massive sale of handguns to Americans, the destabilization of the entire world by the American government's aggressive foreign policy, etc."

Iraq…check…foreign policy…check…the crushing inequality and racism inherent in the culture…check…gun mania…check… and the capper… America Destabilizing the entire world… Halleluiah!! And all of it on national TV, soon to be repeated and discussed across the world. When I heard this on the radio I actually cheered, it is nice to see the dissident point of view so clearly expressed in the mainstream media.

Apparently the Liberal Party of Canada is uncomfortably taking a step back on this one, distancing itself from what Senator Hervieux-Payette is saying and defending. I wish the LPC would shuck their timorous nature and make a stand on this important issue. It seems that when it was not politically opportune to criticize the Americans the LPC seems content to docilely nod its agreement with the Empire down south. The LPC does not have the vicissitude make an unpopular stand.

Must it take a Senator to so eloquently describe the criminally heinous nature of the “Project for a new American Century” and all of its corollary evil? The lack of anything resembling a spine in the opposition benches is a severe detriment to Canadian democracy.

Canadians should rally behind people who do not bend to the current, who have the fortitude to speak their mind even when it is not politically opportune. Fostering debate and hearing more than one point of view is good for Canada, it is good for Democracy and it is good for cynical people like me who often think the whole mendacious system has no redeeming qualities.

(See TC's article on the chillingly atrocious lack of transparency for more cheery news about the Harper Government…I swear sometimes it seems like he wants to be more and not less like the vapid wisp known as George W Bush.)

Transparency and Accountability my Ass

Mr. Harper's decision that his cabinet ministers can't talk to the media about anything other than "a Federal Accountability Act, a GST cut, a child-care allowance, tougher criminal sentences, and a patient waiting-times guarantee" without clearing it with the PMO - and that even includes things like writing letters to the editor - is so far beyond ironic I don't know if I should laugh or cry.

Federal Accountability Act
Let's keep the media away from our cabinet ministers.
More free votes in the House of Commons.
Don't talk to the media without clearing it with me.

Yeah, it's the Liberals we should be mad at for their culture of entitlement. For their lack of accountability. For their lack of transparency and unwillingness to be forthright with the People of Canada, and that's why we voted for a new, ethical, responsible, responsive leader.

Pardon me while I go buy a bridge.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Public Health Care Works! ... repeat after me...

That is right, folks. Take a deep breath and repeat after me. “Public Health Care Works!” I am consistently amazed by the breadth an depth of ignorance exhibited by the opponents of the public system.

Issue one: A two tier system is more responsive to the needs of the public. Competition and the free market will make things better or some other frippery to that effect.

Health care is a public good. It is in economic jargon the demand for health care is inelastic. Therefore for the sliding scale of supply and demand cannot work its “magic”. Furthermore, with the introduction of profit into the healthcare system the focus then shifts from peoples well being to a more lucrative business model. I for one do not want a system focused on profit over people.

Issue two: Wait times will be dramatically reduced with the introduction of private clinics and insurance….

This statement is dead in the water before it begins. It is essentially begging the question because the reality of the situation is that there are not enough medical professionals to meet the current demand. So how does the introduction of a private system cut wait times? Unless, of course Ralph Klein and his merry band of conservative sycophants can spontaneously generate a new batch of trained medical professionals. (they might be able to actually do so, given the crystal clear opacity of their governence)

As a corollary of this argument, what would be the incentive for the doctors to be in the public system when they can make better money in the private? The decline of the public system is inevitable when competing with a parallel private structure.

If there is one idea that is imperative to understand about the Healthcare debate it is that capitalism it not the answer to every problem. Capitalism is very good at producing (and concentrating) wealth. Capitalism is not so good at providing public goods. The profit motive destroys the idea behind public goods, corrupting and changing the fundamental nature of how Healthcare is provided to the public. We do not need corporate interests gaining more control of our public healthcare system. It has been shown repeatedly that universal pubic healthcare is viable, affordable and more efficient than private systems.

We just need to get this message out to the public as loudly as those who would sell our cherished system into the hands of the greedy capitalists.

While we're on the subject of people like Michael Coren

(A continuation of my previous post)

Who the hell does this guy think he is anyway? Where does he get off thinking he can tell me what's best for the rest of my life, when he hasn't even met me? Me, and every other woman on the entire frickin' planet.

I wasn't really happy with the last post I wrote. In fact, I put it up, took it down, and put it up again. I guess I made a few decent arguments, and got in some good rhetorical jabs, but that's just not what it's all about. Logic and facts and argument have their place, but in the end, that's not what it's about. This is personal. This is about the proponents of forced childbirth thinking they can impose their will on me personally, and on every other woman who might become pregnant at a less-than-ideal time in her life. That they know me better than I do, and better than my doctor does.

So here's my story right now:

I've suffered from depression since my teen years, and been on a variety of medications. None of them has worked until this last one I've tried, and it seems to have pierced my storm clouds and let me have a bit of my real personality back. The side effects are nasty, but worth it.

I'm in a committed, monogamous relationship with the man I hope will one day become the father of my children, should we decide children are something we want. Our relationship does include sex from time to time - or at least, I hope it will again once I start feeling good enough to be up for it. We're using contraception, but it's only 99% effective, and if I should get pregnant right now, I'll have a really difficult decision to make.

The medication I'm on is known to cross the placenta in the late stages of pregnancy, and really mess up the newborn baby. It also passes into breast milk.

My choices would be:
- Carry the pregnancy to term, while still on the drug, and risk seriously messing up the baby
- Try to get off the drug before the third trimester, and have to deal with a severe discontinuation syndrome, the possible return of the depressive symptoms, and then the risk of post-partum depression
- Abort

The only person who can make that decision is me - with the input, of course, of my partner, my doctor, and anybody else close to me I want to confide in.

Every woman's decision to continue or discontinue her pregnancy is just as personal, just as intimate, as my decision would be.

Anybody who thinks s/he can make rules across the board for what every woman should do is guilty of, at best, supreme arrogance.

Please get your facts straight, Michael Coren

Pro-lifers make me tired. Especially male pro-lifers, who will never be faced with the decision of what to do about an intruder inside their body. I'd have a bit more tolerance for them if they could get their facts straight, but it's really hard to argue from facts when you're wrong. Michael Coren's March 11, 2005 piece in the Toronto Sun is no exception.

Coren claims that by day 19, an embryo has "an entire nervous system established." Which is interesting to me, since at day 16, according to the Visible Embryo website, the layer of cells that will eventually give rise to not only the nervous system, but also the skin, nails, hair, lens of eye, lining of the internal and external ear, nose, sinuses, mouth, anus, tooth enamel, pituitary gland, and mammary glands, has just formed; by day 19 there is a groove that is the precursor of the nervous system. But then pro-lifers do like to confuse potential with actual.

Here are the arms and legs at 28 days that Mr. Coren waxes so poetic about:

But let's pass on the rest of Coren's overly sentimentalized vision of fetal development and talk about the rest of his argument.
We invariably hear people who favour what they describe as "choice" say they would prefer there to be fewer abortions. Yet if abortion is merely the removal of tissue without any moral or emotional consequences there is no reason for there to be fewer of them.

Besides, um... that even if they are safer and less painful than childbirth, they still hurt, and pose some risk to the woman? (Post-born women do matter, right Mr. Coren?) And I'm sure Mr. Coren has never, ever heard people who are in favor of removing tapeworms or cancerous tumors wish that there was less cancer or fewer tapeworms.

And then Coren trots out all the standard canards - that a life is a life and has the right to live, and it doesn't matter if there's overpopulation or people who want to adopt, that life has a right to live regardless. Well what about the woman?

I'd recommend Coren try the following thought experiment:

Imagine getting home from work one snowy and frigidly cold night, and discovering an intruder in your house. His clothes are thin and if you make him leave, it's almost certain he'll freeze to death. He smells really bad and it's making you nauseous. On top of that, he's already started damaging the place, throwing trash around and getting things dirty. He's going through your fridge and eating all your food. His breath smells of alcohol and he has a crazy look in his eye. You have no way of knowing whether he'll just go to sleep, or whether he'll turn on you or attack you.

Should you be compelled to allow this person to live in your house until spring?

If not, why should a woman be compelled to allow someone to live inside her body and use its resources, leaving the body irreparably changed, for nine months?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan

Canadians should not be fighting the war on terrorism of any other abstract noun. There is no winning this war, nor will there be any clear resolution and certainly no grandiloquent “mission accomplished” waiting for us. What will is happening is a drawn out seemingly unending guerilla conflict that will continue to cost Canadian lives for no appreciable benefit.

The people in Afghanistan we are fighting know they will win. It took them ten years to beat the USSR, but they persevered. The Soviets were unhindered by lofty ideals such as peacekeeping or nation building. They brought total war to Afghanistan. It was an naked invasion and in retrospect a massive military misadventure. The Soviet-Afghan war was a meat grinder especially for the civilian population(war always is). The Taliban and other rebel forces won because it is easier to destroy than rebuild. Every power station destroyed, every school bombed, every hospital gutted was a victory for them. The people do not blame them as much as they blame the occupiers for not providing the basic security for in which society can function. The Soviets near the end of the conflict had 100,000 troops in country and could not win this war. What are 2300 Canadian troops going to do?

It is imperative that we get out Afghanistan. It is another Vietnam, another Iraq another lost cause that is being fatally mishandled. The US has done much to create this quagmire in Afghanistan, we as Canadians should not be obligated to clean up their mess. Canada’s role should be one of peacekeeping and mediation, not the bloody counter insurgency raids that will only be our undoing. The future of Afghanistan is not in our hands, this misguided military action needs to have the plug pulled now.