August 31, 2005
World response
For a comprehensive list of charities, see here.

There are a lot of comments and posts that there is a lack of response from governments in other countries in the aftermath of Katrina.

I think, along with the emotion and the focus of the media, it may be overlooked but there is much evidence that many countries, including Canada are standing ready to pitch in where ever necessary. It bothers me to think that some feel the rest of the world doesn't care, because that is just plainly untrue. It's just such a time of high emotion, to say the least.

A report on some countries offers of support and compassion are here.

Paul Martin has now issued his statement here.

Not to mention, John The Mad reminds us it's time to help our neighbours.

As I metioned earlier, a contingent of 200 Canadian Red Cross workers are organizing their deployement to the scene (even if I can't find the link right now) and more from Vancouver Urban Search & Rescue as well.

(Update - Vancouver Urban Seach & Rescue has now left for the region, making them the first Non-US contingent to go.)

It is almost unbearable to hear the stories of people asking for help and none arriving. Hearing of little children crying for food and water, and not having it available. It is like a slow moving freight train and just keeps feeling worse. But, I can only hold hope that the powers that be will get organized soon and this tragedy can start righting itself.

This is a tragedy larger than any that the US has had to deal with before. It takes time. Sadly, time is not a luxury which makes the situation even more heart-wrenching. But logistically, when the police have no communication, the roads are blocked, people are shooting each other, there are no electricity or water and just so many more obstacles, the situation is not straight forward.

But it will turn. It will improve. The infrastructure will start to mobilize. Turning it into the blame game doesn't help anything.
Continuing On
Still can't stop watching the devastation in the Southern Gulf. New Orleans is beyond description and I can only imagine what's happening in the other towns.

Martial (not marshall) law is a tricky situation. People are already starting to complain of mistreatment and terrible things. The police are completely outmanned and frankly, how does one police officer take on a passel of looters? Even they shoot (and I'm quite sure that isn't going to happen - life is not in danger), they can ignite a riot. And a riot they can't control.

Parts of the French Quarter are now on fire. What wasn't lost in the hurricane, the floods may now be lost to fire. And considering the dead cannot even be counted yet, one only hopes that we are not now looking at a casualty count similar to 9/11.

Satellite images are here - it's easy to see some of the magnitude.

Of course, it's not just New Orleans either. This story comes out of Mississippi, and sadly is only one of many.

But in all terrible situations, there is life and there is good.

Now for me. Still feeling very nasty and not good yet. Food is not my friend and I am very tired and weak, but I do believe there is an improvement over yesterday. No fever today at least.

Had a great conversation with my big brother last night. He's a man of very few words so when he heard of me calling his daughter when I was upset, I guess he felt the need to call when they got to the campsite.

R: Why didn't you call me?
Me: Well, I just panicked, I guess. I'm ok now. Didn't mean to scare you all.
R: Stop that. Right now. You can call whenever you need it ok?
Me: Yeah
R: You can't ignore this stuff. It's not right. Take Mom for example. She has no lungs - she knows to call for help at the first chance of getting sick. You have no bowels. You need to accept that and ask for help when you need it.
Me: You're right.
R: It's what I've learned. Since I have no...I mean, if I get chest pains.

So my Mom has no lungs, I have no digestion, and he has no heart. Do you think the Wizard of Oz could help us?
Could it happen here?
Yesterday, Rebecca thought out loud about the possibility of a similar catastrophe happening here. While we don't get the terrible hurricanes that the southern US has seen, we are earthquake country. They've been telling us for years we're long over due.

We did have a typhoon touch us in 1962. Typhoon Frieda is remembered by many as a significant event in Vancouver's history. So while not something that is common, these massive storms are possible.

Watching the news these past few days has bothered me on a few levels. The incredible destruction, the unknown and the complete disintegration of society. But it's also made me concerned on another level.

This is the corner of the world that I live in. I am on the corner of an island and about 100 yards from the dyke that keeps our water out. In the picture above, I'm close to where that second little finger of water dips in. It is an area that I have always wanted to live in, from the time I was old enough to remember.

The river has always been my calming force. To be able to walk up and sit watching the water is a source of great pride for me. Any time in my life that I've started to feel stressed, I need to do no more than sit up there and I become grounded again.

From outside my house, you can see the dyke as the little hill just past the white car. It's close.

But breathtaking. We may take our safety for granted, but these dykes are what keep us from flooding. Like I said in a previous post, we have flooded here - in 1980 and also seriously in 1948.

Sure, I have flood insurance but it does make you stop and think watching these news reports. I think as soon as I'm well enough, I might just go buy one of those axes to slip up in my attic. It can get dusty and forgotten. Actually, I quite hope it does.
August 30, 2005
In all this darkness, Brian had a great little exercise that I just had to do.

You can go here, type in the year you graduated high school, and voila! You have the Top 100 songs from that year. Its pretty simple. You bold the ones you like, strike through the ones you loathe, and italicize the ones you can't remember. No opinion? Just leave it alone.

I graduated from high school in 1987 - the height of 80's cheese. You can take the girl out of the 80's but you can't take the 80's out of the girl.

1. Walk Like An Egyptian, Bangles (or at my grad when they sung 'Walk with an Erection')
2. Alone, Heart
3. Shake You Down, Gregory Abbott
4. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me), Whitney Houston
5. Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, Starship
6. C'est La Vie, Robbie Nevil
7. Here I Go Again, Whitesnake
8. The Way It Is, Bruce Hornsby and the Range
9. Shakedown, Bob Seger
10. Livin' On A Prayer, Bon Jovi
11. La Bamba, Los Lobos
12. Everybody Have Fun Tonight, Wang Chung
13. Don't Dream It's Over, Crowded House
14. Always, Atlantic Starr
15. With Or Without You, U2
16. Looking For A New Love, Jody Watley
17. Head To Toe, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
18. I Think We're Alone Now, Tiffany (saw her in concert in 1987!)
19. Mony Mony, Billy Idol
20. At This Moment, Billy Vera and The Beaters (ooh, the Family Ties song)
21. Lady In Red, Chris De Burgh
22. Didn't We Almost Have It All, Whitney Houston
23. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, U2
24. I Want Your Sex, George Michael
25. Notorious, Duran Duran
26. Only In My Dreams, Debbie Gibson
27. (I've Had) The Time Of My Life, Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
28. The Next Time I Fall, Peter Cetera and Amy Grant
29. Lean On Me, Club Nouveau
30. Open Your Heart, Madonna
31. Lost In Emotion, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
32. (I Just) Died In Your Arms, Cutting Crew
33. Heart And Soul, T'pau
34. You Keep Me Hangin' On, Kim Wilde
35. Keep Your Hands To Yourself, Georgia Satellites
36. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), Aretha Franklin and George Michael
37. Control, Janet Jackson
38. Somewhere Out There, Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram
39. U Got The Look, Prince
40. Land Of Confusion, Genesis (the best video too!)

41. Jacob's Ladder, Huey Lewis and The News
42. Who's That Girl, Madonna
43. You Got It All, Jets
44. Touch Me (I Want Your Body), Samantha Fox
45. I Just Can't Stop Loving You, Michael Jackson and Siedah Garrett
46. Causing A Commotion, Madonna
47. In Too Deep, Genesis
48. Let's Wait Awhile, Janet Jackson
49. Hip To Be Square, Huey Lewis and the News
50. Will You Still Love Me?, Chicago
51. Little Lies, Fleetwood Mac
52. Luka, Suzanne Vega
53. I Heard A Rumour, Bananarama
54. Don't Mean Nothing, Richard Marx
55. Songbird, Kenny G
56. Carrie, Europe
57. Don't Disturb This Groove, System
58. La Isla Bonita, Madonna (I remember listening to this over and over again on cassette)
59. Bad, Michael Jackson
60. Sign 'O' The Times, Prince
61. Change Of Heart, Cyndi Lauper
62. Come Go With Me, Expose
63. Can't We Try, Dan Hill
64. To Be A Lover, Billy Idol
65. Mandolin Rain, Bruce Hornsby and the Range
66. Breakout, Swing Out Sister
67. Stand By Me, Ben E. King
68. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, Genesis
69. Someday, Glass Tiger
70. When Smokey Sings, ABC
71. Casanova, Levert
72. Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine
73. Rock Steady, Whispers
74. Wanted Dead Or Alive, Bon Jovi
75. Big Time, Peter Gabriel
76. The Finer Things, Steve Winwood
77. Let Me Be The One, Expose
78. Is This Love, Survivor
79. Diamonds, Herb Alpert
80. Point Of No Return, Expose
81. Big Love, Fleetwood Mac
82. Midnight Blue, Lou Gramm
83. Something So Strong, Crowded House
84. Heat Of The Night, Bryan Adams
85. Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You, Glenn Medeiros
86. Brilliant Disguise, Bruce Springsteen
87. Just To See Her, Smokey Robinson
88. Who Will You Run Too, Heart
89. Respect Yourself, Bruce Willis Really? Bruce Willis?
90. Cross My Broken Heart, Jets
91. Victory, Kool and The Gang
92. Don't Get Me Wrong, Pretenders
93. Doing It All For My Baby, Huey Lewis and The News
94. Right On Track, Breakfast Club
95. Ballerina Girl, Lionel Richie
96. Meet Me Half Way, Kenny Loggins
97. I've Been In Love Before, Cutting Crew
98. (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right To Party, Beastie Boys
99. Funkytown, Pseudo Echo
100. Love You Down, Ready For The World

This article was published in Popular Mechanics, on coincidentally 09/11/01:

In part:
The fact that New Orleans has not already sunk is a matter of luck. If slightly different paths had been followed by Hurricanes Camille, which struck in August 1969, Andrew in August 1992 or George in September 1998, today we might need scuba gear to tour the French Quarter.

And now looters are shooting policemen. Shot in the head, but expected to recover. Sure, but his life will never be the same.

Meanwhile, pure anarchy seems to be reigning in New Orleans. Where does one even begin to keep order?
Canadian Government speaks on Katrina
A day late, and not even from the Prime Minister who has been missing in action for the past few weeks but here's our official statement on Hurricane Katrina.

In part:

“On behalf of all Canadians, I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved ones as a result of Hurricane Katrina, as well as our sympathies to those who have suffered great losses and personal hardship,” said Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan. “During this difficult time, we are offering our support to our friends and neighbours.”

The Deputy Prime Minister added that she has contacted U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and advised him that Canada stands ready to provide assistance if needed. In addition, the Minister of Health, Ujjal Dosanjh, has directed the Public Health Agency of Canada to contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and offer any assistance that may be helpful, such as emergency medical supplies contained in the National Emergency Stockpile System.

Here..I'm sure we've got some bandaids somewhere. We'll stick in the mail for ya.

Nothing provincially either.

I am a little ashamed of my government tonight. Well, most nights, really.

My heart and prayers go out to those affected, and those missing loved ones. If you get a chance, remember my friend Stephie who hasn't heard from her son either.

In this internet age, the world is no longer a large place. Things don't happen in far off places to people you will never meet.

Update: The Canadian Red Cross is sending a contingent of 100 of their most highly-trained disaster workers to New Orleans on Friday, on request of the American Red Cross. Also, reading this morning that the Vancouver Urban Rescue is also on it's way.
Hell on Earth

New Orleans and the southern coast is horrific.

Martial law declared.

Levees completely failing.

Hospitals evacuated.

Newspaper buildings evacuated.

Fires openly burning, resulting from overwhelming gas leaks all over the city.

A man telling of losing his wife when the waters came too fast.

Newscasters, reporters and government officials openly crying on TV.

A man jumping to his death from the Superdome.

Now the Superdome is being evacuated before it becomes the Supertomb. 20,000 people out by boat or helicopter. An unprecedented evacuation.

And looting. Cretins taking this time to rip through suitcases and taking stereos, TV's, any thing they can get their hands on. I've read calls to shoot on sight, but seriously, that is not going to happen. At least not by the authorities. Not when a police officer is crucified for using his weapon on a normal day when things go wrong. If anything, we're going to start seeing vigilantes come forth.

As far as those who say people are looting out of necessity, let me just say Nikes don't taste that good. And last I checked a stereo won't keep a baby dry.

Can you imagine being in your house, having the water rise and you can only go to your attic? Finally, desperately, you must use an axe to break through only to be left sitting on the roof as the rescue workers help others because there are just so many in the same situation. So there you sit, in your wet clothes, in the humidity, with likely insects buzzing around and watching all your belongings, your neighbours belongings float away.

New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don't wanna swim.

I keep waiting for it to seem like it's turning a bit better. But it just keeps getting worse. I keep thinking it's exaggerated. But it doesn't seem to be.

At least one blog I found is attempting to post good stories, triumphing human nature. In all the nasty chaos, you just know there has to be some heartwarming stories somewhere.

Brendan Loy has a very informative blog as well. Check it out.

I'm left however with a dark feeling. That we are looking at not hundreds dead, but thousands. I hope I'm wrong.

What is a word stronger than catastrophic?

Update: I have to post what Monica wrote in my comments because it was so profound. A word stronger than catastrophic? Hope.

Thank you, Monica for such a beautiful thought.
Well, that's not good
I just got a call from the surgeon's office regarding my knee.

The nurse said 'Are you sitting down?'

Well, yeah...can't bloody walk, so of course I am.

My appointment to be seen by the surgeon, for a consult no less - not the actual operation is...

Are you ready?

March 10, 2006

192 DAYS from now! Nearly 8 MONTHS of not being able to walk - and that's just to be seen! I heard the issues with non-life threatening problems was beyond ridiculous but that is just beyond incredible. How can our government actually consider this an acceptable situation?

What are my options? Slim to none. To go private, $5,000. Not gonna happen. The nurse said if I wanted to have some physio and rehab to learn to walk with a cane, they would help with that.

But hey, at least if it is life-threatening, you get care. This morning I went for an ultrasound to ensure the colon is not perforated.

Unfortunately, I am very scared and emotional today. I have been unable to control my emotions - which is something I can usually keep locked away. But today, my fears are right under the surface and I am just a mess.

My family is on holidays out of town and I called my niece on her cell, but couldn't even speak. I was almost hysterical, which didn't help matters. Poor kid didn't need THAT on her holidays and I am feeling badly I called. It is just difficult to manage on your own sometimes. I don't have the energy to get to the store and the trip to the hospital this morning wore me out.

I keep reciting the Serenity Prayer over and over again. It is just a bad day today, and I have to keep believing that tomorrow will be better.

I am just so dogtired of being sick for what seems like forever. It has been one thing after another since last October and I am tired. And I am frightened of not knowing if it will ever get better. If I will ever have a normal life.

Ugh, this is such a depressing post. Sorry 'bout that.
August 29, 2005

Watching the news coming out of the Gulf Coast today is just devastating. I can't believe they keep talking about how 'lucky' New Orleans was, only being sideswiped. I suspect those down there don't feel all that lucky. And what about the other towns? There has to be areas directly hit, small towns that are cut off and have been erradicated. Makes my heart sick!

I get the sense that it is going to be something along the lines of when the tsunami hit, in terms of casualties. Where we first heard it was 3 people, then 30, and then it just got bad. I have been stuck on the news all day - I'm a news hound at the best of times but this is just beyond description.

Now watching CNN, listening to one of their senior reporters - Jeanne Meserve actually crying on the air and losing her composure as she talks about hearing people yelling for help, and dogs barking but there was nothing that could be done. The search and rescue suspended for the night, they can only be left until tomorrow.

And watching people looting! What the hell is THAT? The cornerstone of civilized society is respect for one another - and to think, when they are still trying to SAVE people, that others are so depraved. Ugh, it just makes me sick!

We have a family member in Mobile, AL. Working at the South Alabama University, I believe. Everyone is quite nervous about it considering we haven't heard from him but we can do nothing but wait - along with so many others.

And just to turn this into a little 'about me'. The flu is not the flu. I have been glossing over it here and also in my real life because I didn't want to recognize how sick I've been. Turns out I am having a diverticulitis attack.

The good news? It looks controllable without hospitalization - although yesterday I wasn't so certain. I will undergo some more tests tomorrow to confirm that.

The bad news? I'm off work for at least a week, and am scared that I could lose my job. I am only a contract worker, and while they are very pleasant about it, I have not had much understanding in my career when it comes to my health, so I am not trusting the situation. However, after a very tearful conversation with my doctor today, I have had to come to the realization that no matter what, I am seriously unwell right now and must look after me.

But a silver lining as always, my best friend has been absolutely an angel. When I called her today almost hysterical with the diagnosis, she wasted no time in going straight to the grocery store and stocking me up with broth, and juice. I can have nothing but straight fluids for the next 48 hours. Given that she is 45 minutes away, it was not a small task and I am so thankful for her. I am not too easy to be friends with as I do get sick a lot, and most people get tired of hearing it, but Leigh has always been there. She never questions me, and will drop everything to be there when I need it - even if I don't ask. Last December, when I was hospitalized, she stayed with me in the hospital until I was admitted and left her company that had just flown into town because she felt she was needed. These are the things that make me so thankful to have her in my life and although she doesn't read this blog often enough, I hope she somehow stumbles onto this entry. Thank you, my friend.

'k, I'm waffling now. Back to my SueNN addiction.
August 28, 2005
Certainly not Walking On Sunshine
Storm Surge expected in wake of Hurricane Katrina

Watching the coverage of Katrina and her impending Waves and feeling very nervous for the people of South Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. New Orleans looks plain nasty.

I want to believe it's hype but considering the thought of 11 ft. of water expected in people's living rooms - and that's the best situation, it doesn't look good for the 100,000 people who decided to stay put.

Breaking News at New is reporting the first 3 casualties - in a bus evacuating the elderly from a nursing home no less.

I read on a weather forum that some people are evacuating only to find once they get to a hotel that they aren't bending the policy on pets. Come's not like it's a normal situation!

There's live feeds from a local New Orleans newstation here (at least while they have power).

Here's an eyewitness account of the strongest hurricane ever to hit the US in 1935. This is expected to be the second strongest.

I live in a city that's 3 feet under sea level and is kept dry through dykes (aka levees in the US) and pumping stations. Those stations failed the year I was in Grade 4 and I have memories of walking home in water that was over my boots when the school closed. I remember my brother's bed floating in his bedroom and the bridge we had over our ditch hopelessly floating down the street. And that was a small flood. I have never even seen reference to it again, yet I remember it very clearly.

Yuck. This does not look good. My heart goes out to those in the path. At least with earthquakes, it's over in a few minutes and then the cleanup begins. Hurricanes are like some sort of know it's on the way and you can't do a damned thing about it.
Classic Dames
Mommie Dearest, aka Right Girl, pointed to this test. I'm not sure if I'm more 'Little Women' or 'On Golden Pond' but I'm leaning to the latter this morning.

Katharine Hepburn
You scored 14% grit, 14% wit, 52% flair, and 23% class!

You are the fabulously quirky and independent woman of character. You
go your own way, follow your own drummer, take your own lead. You stand
head and shoulders next to your partner, but you are perfectly willing
and able to stand alone. Others might be more classically beautiful or
conventionally woman-like, but you possess a more fundamental common
sense and off-kilter charm, making interesting men fall at your feet.
You can pick them up or leave them there as you see fit. You share the
screen with the likes of Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant, thinking men who
like strong women.

Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the
Classic Leading Man Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 27% on grit
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on wit
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 90% on flair
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 45% on class
Link: The Classic Dames Test written by gidgetgoes on Ok Cupid

Some interesting Kate Hepburn quotes:

• I never realized until lately that women were supposed to be the inferior sex.

• Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don't do that by sitting around wondering about yourself.

• If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.

• Enemies are so stimulating.

August 27, 2005
The flu sucks. In warm weather, it sucks worse.

Two days, and I'm barely even dealing well with gingerale.

But hey, maybe it's a great diet. Gotta find the silver lining somewhere.

Will be back blogging when I get vertical.

In the meantime, here's some links I found interesting over the last day or so.

Transcript of Michael Yon's interview with Hugh Hewitt here.

An update on Noah's injury, and it's positive! And it never ceases to amaze me the power of support in the blogospere.

Huntress provides us some insight into the world of Canadian milbloggers - up until now a bit of an oxymoron.

Bound By Gravity leads us to a board where we can show our support to our Canadian military. While I guess the DND was trying to helpful, I can't really envision those deployed really having time to scroll down messageboards though...but at least it's something.

Neurotic Iraqi Wife gives us a view into the world she now sees, after joining her husband in Baghdad's Green Zone. It's been character building, to say the least.

BoingBoing shows us a link to a photoshop contest that will amaze you - and make you feel a little freaked out at the same time. And another link showing balloons in mid pop - very cool stuff.

And last but certainly not least, Brian has his latest roundup. A weekly version that he does as a labour of love - and one not to be missed. These people are a really wonderful group - and I've found some very good friends through his hard work.

Back to the bananas and gingerale....
August 25, 2005
Gates of Fire
It's not often that you read something that makes you gasp out loud. I found myself having to take several runs at this before being able to get through it all AND remembering to breathe.

Michael Yon has his latest post out detailing the recent battle with Deuce Four and the catch-and-release terrorists, that left several severely wounded - including the ever-heroic LTC Kurilla.

Not only can he write to make you feel like you were there, he also got a little close to the action this time and well, he can handle a weapon as well it would seem. Just the kinda guy you need in the thick of the moment, and maybe one day the MSM will realize THIS is what we want to hear about. This is who we need to support and stand behind.

When a soldier is killed or wounded, the Department of Army calls the loved ones, and despite their attempts to be sympathetic, the nature of the calls has a way of shocking the families. There is just no easy way to say, "Your son got shot today." And so, according to men here, the calls sound something like this: "We are sorry to inform you that your son has been shot in Mosul. He's stable, but that's all we know at this time."
Read the rest here. Note the pictures are graphic, and show the tension in detail. But any less would not do the story justice.

And give a thought and prayer tonight to LTC Kurilla's and SGT Lama's families. We are reading this with one perspective, but this is their loved ones. While the men are getting the best medical care possible, but the families are likely going through a hell of a lot right now. My prayers go out to them.

(Welcome, Hugh Hewitt readers!)
August 24, 2005
The Two Johns

Last night was the John Foggerty/John Cougar Mellencamp concert in Vancouver.

In a word, phenomenal.

I came away feeling like I had seen the greats. The guitar, the music, the crowd atmosphere will remain etched in my memory.

Both these men know how to entertain, and know what music is.

And because I'm not always known for following the rules, I took a few pics and even some video. I'll upload them tonight to share. The rule regarding no photography and no video always baffles me. It's not like what I can take is worth any money, nor takes anything away from them.

If nothing else, it is a testament to their powerful music and their awesome talent. And I will post them as my words will do very little to convey how amazing they were.

It was a very long set and we didn't get out of there until well after 11. And after the bust that was Bruce Springsteen a few weeks back, I felt vindicated. I would have listened all night, if they would have stayed. All the favourites and I've spent all day today humming between 'Put Me In, Coach' and 'Cherry Bomb'.

These past few weeks have been so stress filled and I was getting to the point I don't often do. I had become crabby, weepy and felt like my head was spinning out of control. The pain that has decided to become my constant companion was wearing on me and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. The last thing I wanted to do last night was to make my way to a crowd-filled stadium on my crutches. But having said that, it was the BEST medicine anyone could ever have asked for.

A few hours of singing, hooting, hollering and cheering broke that tension like nothing else could. The smells of the stadium - chocolate mixed with b.o. and pot - was oddly interesting, though. The electric atmosphere ripped all those cobwebs out of my head and I have been smiling all day.

I have fortunate to have seen many a concert and many of the 'greats' - Cher, Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Elton John, Bryan Adams, Great Big Sea, Travis Tritt, to name a few.

But this one will definitely rise above them all. What a night!
Down On The Corner

Video sharing at
Authority Song

Video sharing at
Check It Out

Video sharing at
Jack and Diane

Video sharing at
Bad Moon Rising

Video sharing at
A milblogger-family injured....
As you spend more time blogging, it's often you find people you feel attached to. They become friends, and you feel close to them.

Such is the way with Some Soldier's Mom. I actually was planning to link a post she wrote in regards to the 9/11 Memorial in New York, which I found particularly profound.

However, there is more pressing news. Her son, Noah has been seriously injured in a VBIED attack in Iraq. He has suffered a spinal injury and is in considerable pain. He's being well taken care of, however, it is a very serious injury. Any time a family member is injured it is a strain, but having a loved one injured on the other side of the world and not being able to be close makes it all the more difficult

Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers during this trying time. And if you get the chance, pop over and leave them a message of support. It helps to know people care in times of need.
Just a scratch
So when a conversation begins with 'Don't worry - he's going to be fine', you know it's not going to be a good one.

My nephew was hit by a car on Saturday night.

And yes, he will be ok.


My nephew has had a pretty rough bout of luck in his young life. He's 27 now but this was his 4th encounter with a car and the most serious. The other 3 were in his young teenage years when he was a little careless with a skateboard.

When B was 10, he encountered a schoolyard bully. It is a story that still makes my blood boil. He was beaten within an inch of his life by an 11 year old boy using a piece of rebar as a weapon. He spent many weeks in the hospital nursing internal injuries, while the psychopathic beast of a child wasn't even charged because he was under the minimum age of 12.

When B was about 15, an over-exuberant boy at school jumped on him from the stage at the school and broke his thigh in 3 places. He still has plates in his leg from that one.

B is a mild mannered boy, well - young man now, who the fates have just decided to give him a bit of battering. If there is ever someone who can be in the wrong place in the wrong time, it is my nephew.

The most recent episode is by far the most disturbing, and while he'll be ok, I am thanking everything and anything this morning that we still have him. Thank GOD he's ok.

Late Saturday night, he was biking home from a friends and was accosted by some, well young punks for lack of a better term. They started yelling insults and names as B rode by. He unfortunately got caught up and stopped to yell back at them. Maybe not a wise choice, but who hasn't turned around and mouthed back at someone?

Well, one of the punks pulled a knife. Too many kids have lost that fight, and B knew he had no choice but to run. He ran right into the street. A van was coming through.

I just cringe and my heart aches thinking of the terror that must have been in his mind at that time. B has lost friends, most notably Jesse Cadman this way.

The van hit him and sent him flying. The man driving the van came out and was very aggressive. Ben took one look to the punks on the curb, and this man who was yelling and decided his best chance was to get home. Fast.

He got home, bleeding and in pain and told my brother he'd been hit.

At the hospital, he was diagnosed with broken ribs and had a gash sewed up in his side. 22 stitches. Not a small one. He's bruised, sore and very down. But he's alive.

Unfortunately, because he left the scene and there were no real witnesses, there is not a lot the police can do.

That same night, in another part of Vancouver, a boy was stabbed and killed. It makes me very thankful that B is alive and here. But at the same time, I am so very sad that the world - and our very neighbourhoods - have degenerated into something so dark.

My sister in law remarked how concerned she is for the world and for the children growing up now. What will it be like in another 10 years, if this is what we are living in now?
August 23, 2005
As our families get older, and our parents too, they begin this descent into aging that is not always neat or pretty or easily fixed.

I remember visiting my grandfather in the old folk's home when I was little. It terrified me. From my child-eyes, it would be a place filled with scary souls who wandered the halls and called you names that weren't yours. I remember the hushed conversations between my Mom and her sisters over what was happening to 'Daddy'. He would often escape, and we'd find him somewhere lost. Every time, it was the same story - he was looking for his long lost son. In the end, he was transferred to a home that had stricter security so that he wouldn't wander off.

Those were sad times, long ago and ones I hadn't thought of in many years.

Recently, my friend's mom has reached the age that she can no longer be at home on her own. She is 91, and one of the toughest old girls you'll ever meet. She and her boyfriend have been together for 30-some odd years but as she's vowed never to marry again, she refused to allow him to live with her either. So Charlie dutifully has kept an apartment a few blocks away, and they spend the days together but he always goes home at night. We all find it a bit funny - however, if truth be told, I appreciate her tenacity.

So she lives on her own, and her closest daughter - my friend - lives about 45 minutes away. However her daughter runs a business as well as helping to raise her grandchildren so her life is quite full. The other children live out of town, so the burden falls on my friend.

Last Monday, Nana fell. Sometime in the middle of the night. No one has any idea and Nana doesn't remember. By the time Charlie found her, she was unconscious with a very weak pulse, and had broken her pelvis. She did have a 'I've fallen and I can't get up' button but they're only good if you can manage to push the button.

The hospital diagnosed pneumonia as well, and last week, things did not look good at all. They signed a DNR order, the other family members gathered and expected the worst.

On Thursday, Nana woke up. Wanted to know when she could go home. Feisty and argumentative, she would have none of this hospital business. The pelvis, by this point, was stabilized. Because of her age, there was nothing they could do except keep her comfortable.

So now begins the search for a home. My friend has no room for her at her house, and there is no possibility of her being able to care for herself. They looked yesterday into having a night nurse, but at upwards of $100 a night for someone for all intents and purposes to watch her sleep is a bit extreme.

All the while, Nana is having none of it. She's going home and that's all there is to it. Suggest something slightly different and you'll get a bear attack. She may be getting frail physically, but mentally, not in the slightest.

I talked to my Mom about it last night, and it brought back a lot of memories of what happened with her father.

'You know we lied to him, don't you?', she said, her voice still catching after all these years.

'No, Mom, I was a kid. What happened?'

'Well, we told him it was a convalescing home. That he would be back as soon as he was better. He knew we lied. I could see it in his eyes.'

So I told her I wouldn't lie to her. I told her if her or Dad ever got to this stage, I would either move in with them, or them with me. I'm single and the only daughter. They have done so much for me that I can't imagine not being there for them when they need it.
August 22, 2005
Couch Vacations
Surfing around the blogs, I found one that started a vacation list. The subject is 10 places in North America you been to and why they are worthy of the list.

Given my less than stellar mood of late (working on it, but still cavedwelling), I thought it was a fantastic little exercise.

In no particular order:

Charleston, South Carolina - I visited a friend in Atlanta several years ago, and we took a side trip to Charleston. I knew very little of the place going there, and my main reason for going was to be able to say I'd seen the Atlantic Ocean. The place was gorgeous, and amazing. The humidity was unlike anything I'd ever experienced, but combined with the history, the smells emanating from the outdoor market, the architecture and the friendliest people, I long to go back.

Indio, California - My parents used to winter there in their motorhome before my Mom got too ill to travel. One Easter, I flew to Palm Springs and then drove the hour or so out to Indio. It was such a strange little place. One one hand it was a snowbird's paradise, but with so many odd sights in the desert, very intriguing. We found a man who was told by God to paint a mountain, so he did. He has been featured in several television shows, but is such a humble - if not a bit eccentric - man. In another area, the Salton Sea, I believe - the tilapia fish had died en masse, leaving piles up to 3 ft. high of dead fish. Still another part of the Salton Sea was some small community that was set up in the 50s as a retirement resort but didn't go over well. It was a ghost town of hotels, and structures that left you feeling like you walked onto an X-Files episode.

Cle Elum/Roslyn, Washington - where Northern Exposure was filmed. On a road trip whim, we detoured out of Seattle and found the place after a hot, dusty summer drive. And it's got a funky name too!

Telegraph Cove, BC - On the east coast of Vancouver Island. We took a boat to get there, and stayed in a lodge on the coast. Cruise ships and whales swam by and it was absolutely breathtaking.

Red Deer, Alberta - not exactly the prettiest town, but I've had some wonderful times here when family still lived there. And of course, where Ms. Thang was born. Any town that has friendly townspeople in -40 degrees is good in my book.

Deception Pass, Washington - on the Olympic peninsula, I believe, but not far from here. The scenery is gorgeous, and the colours of the blue water beyond description. We camped (one of the VERY few times I've ever been coerced into a tent) in torrential rain, and even saw a whale off the coast. Although no one ever believed that, I know I saw it!

Cannon Beach, Oregon - the whole Oregon coast, actually but Cannon Beach was the site of many childhood vacations. My Mom would cover my ears with a scarf so the wind wouldn't cause discomfort, and we would walk for miles. My older brother would dig holes in the sand and cover me up to waist level, or build a castle around me. We'd eat salt water taffy, and watch the seals in the ocean and feed squirrels outside our hotel room window. Or we'd drive up to Tillamook and have some ice cream and watch the cheese being made.

Shingletown, California - the home of the Wild Horse Sanctuary, owned by my cousin Dianne. They have around 5,000 acres and several hundred wild horses and burros. Waking up in the morning to the braying of burros and whinny's of wild horses is something not to be missed. They do trail rides and cattle drives to raise money to offset the care of the wild horses, and it is a treat to go on one. They've built an overnight area, very rustic but with all the necessities, so that people can spend a night in the outdoors as they did a hundred years ago.

Lahaina, Maui - I've been back to Maui twice, but Lahaina will always have a special place. The banyan tree, the ocean breezes makes you feel like it's a hundred years ago, and the whaling ships are just off shore. I've not been since 1987 though, and have heard it's become much more commercialized now, but in my memory it's still quaint.

Arlington, Virginia - across the way from DC and so much history everywhere you look. There's great shopping, fantastic food and it's enough out of DC that it's not too busy, but close enough that you can still get there.

I would love to hear some of the places others have been. Leave me a comment if you do this on your blog, and I'll stop by.
Telling it like it is
I haven't been too opinionated lately...mostly blog fatigue and the feeling that everyone is saying it much better than I ever could.

However, this particular post hits the Cindy Sheehan situation right on the mark, in my book.

I'm very sorry her son died, just as I am sorry fir the 1,867 other families that have also lost loved ones. But he was a volunteer, and he knew what he was getting into. From what I've read about him, I don't think Casey Sheehan would ever have wanted to be remembered this way. She does a disservice to his memory. And the more she speaks, the more unravelled she becomes.

If you want to know more about who he was, read Blackfive's Someone You Should Have Known.

In my first week as part of the Angels N Camoflauge team, I have sent two packages and one get well card to an injured soldier. In them, I included a Year Of The Veteran Canadian quarter (the one with the poppy in the center) as a token of my appreciation for their service. It felt good to do something, even so small, to show my gratitude.
August 21, 2005
Wilson and Robert Service
Often, over at Trucker Bob's, he shares a poem from the legendary Yukon poet, Robert Service.

Every time he posts one, it reminds me of an old story that my father's uncle Wilson was a similar poet and was published. His poems were often compared to Robert Service. Of course, I wasn't sure if this was part of family legend or not.

So last night, I started googling out of curiousity and was surprised that I found him in the Library and Archives Canada. And also mention of him in a catalogue of old books.

The archives show it as:
AMICUS No. 6440042

NLC COPIES: Reserve - PS8539 H69 S5 1940z - NO ILL
Reserve - PS8539 H69 S5 1940z - Copy 2 - NO ILL

NAME(S):*Thomson, Wilson
TITLE(S): The shiftboss, and other poems / by Wilson Thomson
PUBLISHER: Timmins? Ont. : [s.n., 194-?] (Timmins : Porcupine
DESCRIPTION: [24] p. ; 16 cm.

NUMBERS: LCCN: 44018053

I called my Dad last night to ask him if he thought the above was Uncle Wilson's book. Apparently, it is. He wrote others too, but this particular one got him quite a bit of prestige and spoke of mining in Timmins, Ontario in the 1940s.

He later moved out to BC, but lived up in the Fraser Canyon making his living off of gold panning of all things. A lifelong bachelor and somewhat of a hermit, he lived most of his later years in a small shack outside of Haney, BC. My Dad kept in touch with him until his death in 1967, but his works are lost. We know one book exists with my cousins in California, but the particular family member is quadraplegic and largely unreachable.

I do, however, have a couple of notebooks containing a few odd poems. I am not sure they're his, but it would stand to reason. I'll have to pull them out and see what's there.

So my quest this morning is on. If he's listed in the Archives, there has to be a copy somewhere.
August 20, 2005
A Wedding of Friends

I was supposed to be in the above picture today. Two of my friends got married in Birmingham, England. I wish them every ounce of happiness possible.

I didn't attend for a multitude of complicated reasons. The decision was made months ago, but when the day arrived, I found myself feeling sad for missing the event. But I know it was the right thing to do.

First off, let me explain how I know these people. Back in the day that internet was completely new and email was a strange medium, there was a message board dedicated to the TV Show 'Friends'. Very common now, but back in 1995, was a very new idea. As happened with the technology then, the message board 'broke' one day. One of the girls still wanted to keep in touch with a few of the people and sent an email asking if we would keep in correspondence. That day, the 'BP' was born. There were roughly 30 of us. We have kept in daily contact for nearly 10 years. There have a been a few departures, but very few inductions in to the group and for all intents and purposes, those same 30 people have shared in the joys and pain a decade can be. We come from all parts of the world, although I'm the only one living in Canada. There are a bunch on the East Coast, quite a few in England, one in Scotland, one in Australia, and one in Israel. Our jobs are all over the place too, from high level government in DC, to rocket scientist to electrician and school teacher. Two even have blogs here and here.

People often wonder about meeting people they meet 'on the internet'. The group in the UK met early on, at the taping of a TV show featuring the cast of Friends. Two of them saw that special spark, and were married a couple of years after. In 1997, when I was returning from Europe, I met them in a pub in London. At the time, I was ill with pneumonia and did not make a good impression. I was nervous and to this day, feel bad about making them come out to meet me (some even had to endure several hours of travel) when I really wasn't well enough to be out.

In 1999, at the urging of the groom in the above, I travelled to the wedding of one of the girls in Washington, DC. I was so apprehensive travelling that day to meet people that for all intents and purposes, I had never met. Sure, we'd all corresponded for 4 years but I was going to be spending a week with these people all by myself! I was met by a very bubbly, very happy girl from Utah whose smile set me right at ease. The rest of the week was up there with the best highlights of my life. Not only did we all attend a fantastic wedding, but the rest of us bonded deeply. We visited the touristy sights of DC and even up to New York, all the while marvelling at the odds that brought us all together. And well, I found that 'spark' as well on that trip.

The next two years, I travelled to see these friends. To Australia. To England, twice. To San Francisco. To Vegas. I spent the Millenium in Northern England in the living room of one of the sweetest people I ever hope to know, the girl to the right of the bride and the 'best man' in today's ceremony.

We all chatter daily through email. There are ups and downs. With any close group, sometimes we get along, and well, sometimes we don't. It has become a family of sorts, and I feel so deeply close to this group of people that I can't imagine them not being in my life.

The 'spark' I found in 1999 was someone I still feel a great deal for, but I know we never had what it took as a couple. We tried hard, but as the two year mark came up, it became very obvious to me that it was not meant to be. Of course, I thought the world of him and it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do to tell him how I felt. I know I hurt him that day, and I still harbour a lot of guilt for it. I wish I had handled it differently but what was done, was done.

The difficulty I found was after that. I stayed with the group. I often felt ostracised, whether I was or not, as the group rallied around him. I often wondered if I should have stayed but these were my friends too, I told myself. There were comments that often stung me over the next few years, and a couple of times I was forced to quietly walk away for a bit to gain perspective. I always came back though. As for he and I, we forged a quiet friendship after a very hurtful time behind the scenes. We talked through a lot of what went wrong, and were working on regaining our friendship.

Then he met someone. That someone was part of the group as well. She was also a friend. It was harder than I expected it to be. They told me privately, which I appreciated but told the group within a couple hours. I barely had time to process. A couple of the people within the group recognized the situation as somewhat uncomfortable, and were sympathetic, but for the most part, what we had was long dead for them and didn't bear thought.

As you might have guessed, it's the couple in the wedding. Many friends were there yesterday, but I knew it would have been wrong of me to go. That even though they had moved on with everything, and I had as well, there was still uneasyness. He's my first ex-boyfriend ever to marry. It definitely stirred something that I thought was at peace, but looking at the pictures , I realized that I made the right decision not to go. Even if it meant not having a chance to see all my friends in one place. It was right. For him and for me. This was his day.

I congratulate them both. I hope from the bottom of my heart that their future is filled with nothing but brightness.
August 19, 2005
End Cancer
There are many walks and fundraisers for cancer. All very worth while and a great way to raise awareness and bring communities together from all walks of life.

This weekend in Vancouver is the End Cancer walk. What makes this one special is that it is 60 kms! The participants split the walk over 2 days, and camp overnight within the city. It is huge event and raises much needed money for the BC Cancer Agency.

When I did my Relay For Life last year, I learned that 1 in 3 Canadians are affected by cancer. I look at my own family and we have lost far too many. We have three currently undergoing treatment. And just last week, one of my closest friends found out her Mom has acute leukemia. She is currently in hospital on a very aggresive treatment plan.

Why do I bring this up? Well, my sister in law is walking this weekend. She has worked very hard this past year getting in shape and getting ready for this event. 60 kms is not a small commitment. Hell, even DRIVING 60 kms is a big deal some days. She is a hardworking mom, who lost her own mom to lung cancer when she was far too young. She never got to share with her mother the joys she's the birth of her own children and it has been difficult for her to say the least.

The commitment to this walk is also monetary. Each participant needs to raise $2,000 or they are not able to walk. Not only spending two days away from family and the wear and tear on her own body, but the financial commitment is also great.

As of this morning, she is short $200. If she can't raise the minimum, she will need to forfeit the walk. And after all she has done, I just feel so bad for her. She doesn't have large sponsors, or well off friends like some of those walking do. She is just a regular person. Someone who wishes to do what she can to work towards a cure.

If you can spare a little bit, please donate today to her. It would appreciated on so many levels. Even if you are not from Canada, remember that medical breakthroughs don't know borders.

Thank you.

UPDATE: She made it! She spent the day in front of her local Wal-Mart soliciting donations. By last night, she was just about there, when an angel in the form of a blogfriend came to the rescue. I really didn't expect anything from this post, but THANK YOU, Teresa for stepping up to the plate.
August 18, 2005
Kids Will Be Kids
ArmyWifeToddlerMom always has great stories of her babies, Dash and Pink Ninja.

Today, however, was classic.

Raising children. Not for the faint of heart. Thanks, AWTM, for a good laugh tonight. And if those people couldn't see the humour in it, I am sorry for them. Better to raise kids with a bit of personality than robots.

Ms. Thang had a moment this weekend too. She was caught in the garden relieving herself. Not No. 1 mind you, either. The full meal deal. And not just at any time, but when the family had company over that don't often spend time around children.

Apparently, she had been pretending to be a dog all night. Barking, crawling on all fours and even sitting and rolling over. Much to the delight of the company, who praised her for her great imagination.

However, she took it one step further. Well, if Bailey goes on the grass, why shouldn't she?
Private vs. Public
So the doctors have backed a plan for private health care in Canada.

Supporters of the motion said too-long waiting lists are an urgent problem, the system is faltering and it needs help from the private sector.

"Governments have had 40 years to get the monopoly system right and the casualties are piling up - one of them has been my wife," said Dr. John Slater of Comox, B.C.

Now that I'm also officially in the queue for non-life threatening medical care, it takes a very personal turn.

It has been 8 weeks, nearly 9 since my initial injury. Last week, I was told surgery was inevitable and my GP's words were 'I will elevate you to emergency priority right away'. Which she did. She called the surgeon. She sent over my x-rays and medical records over that day. As I posted that night, I was very shaken and nervous, but resolute that this needed to occur.

Yet, I've heard nothing since.

I called yesterday and was told it is now in the orthopaedic surgeon's hands. His office will call....eventually.

Do I blame him? Not really. He is only one person and likely has dozens, if not hundreds of patients in the same boat as me. People who are also on crutches, pain meds and unable to lead a basic quality of life. But they aren't dying. They may be uncomfortable, and even downright bitchy, but they're not in mortal danger.

I looked into private care today. The consultation is $450 and the surgery is approximately $5,000. Although the airmiles I'd collect on my credit card are tempting, I will take my chances for now. I still want to believe it's my impatience and that I will be dealt with soon.

However, I've heard from many people do wait upwards of 6 months. 6 months of crutches and narcotics? 6 months brings me right up to my best friend's wedding. As far as my job goes, I don't even know if I'll be working then. It makes me nervous...and I just wish the damned thing would heal on it's own. Of course, that's likely not going to happen.

Our medical system is crumbling, that's for sure. The answer is not an easy one and certainly not something I'd know much about. I would have no problem with an alternative, but of course, the cost would need to be a little more reasonable than what it is today. The waiting lists are crazy. I thought they were bad before, but it seems these days every day brings a new story.

Just take these two examples:

My niece has been waiting to see a surgeon now for 14 months. She has a ganglion on her wrist, that when first noted was the size of a small grape. It is now roughly the size of a golf ball. Imagine a golf ball on your wrist. Not insignificant. She often loses feeling and use of her fingers. There have been days when she can't even hold her baby to feed him properly as the pain is so intense. Had this been taken care of even right after Lex's birth 8 months ago, it would have been a short surgery. Now she's looking at repair of the nerve and likely months of physiotherapy.

A friend's brother was set to go in for a pacemaker today. He was prepping for surgery and hadn't eaten since midnight. The phone rang at 8am this morning (he was to be at the hospital at 9) to be told that there was a staff shortage and he was being cancelled. Of course, no new date but they will let him know. A pacemaker isn't exactly a cosmetic improvement, and definitely crosses into the life threatening side o' things.

I don't blame the doctors. I don't blame the nurses. I do, however, blame the government and truly wonder if those who make these decisions have ever had to deal with health care from a consumer perspective. When our taxes continue to increase time and time again, and the revenue from the gas tax alone (with 40% of the current 1.14 a litre) is in the upwards of several hundred million dollars, is it too much to ask for the promise a basic quality of life?

I think not.
Downtime at the James Bond laboratory
Looks like Q has been busy.
Old memories
Last night, as I was falling asleep, I heard someone yell out. Turned out it was nothing, but it reminded me of something that happened a long time ago - probably 12 years or so. It answered that question, what would you do if you heard someone in trouble? Would you help?

The immediate answer is always yes, but truth be known, when people are faced with that exact situation, things change.

It was the early 90s. I was at my boyfriend's mother's house. He and the boys were playing Nintendo in the games room and I was sitting in the living room with his mother. Over the sound of the crashing and cacaphony of the game, I could have sworn I heard someone scream.

I called out...Did anyone hear that? I got some laughs and was told I had an active imagination.

I heard it again. I asked them to turn down the TV but was met with jeers. So without thinking, I went to investigate myself. I was no more than 110 lbs. (the weight came later!) and young & naive. It never occured to me that I should hesitate, though.

When I got into the street, I found a girl - very dazed and covered in blood. Screaming. Blood curdling, bone chilling screams. I will never ever forget that sound that she made. Little screeches in between the sobs, and as I was reminded of last night, the slightest resemblence to the pitch that she made will bring back that memory.

She was young and pretty, but part of her hair had been ripped out. She had been beaten over her face, and was incoherent. When I approached her, she shied away from me like I was fire.

I soothed her, and told her we would take care of her. I yelled for the guys to come help me. Thankfully, they heard me over their Ultimate Fighting game or whatever it was.

My boyfriend's mom took one of her arms and I took the other. We guided her into the house, and when she got to the door, she did the strangest thing. In all her hysterics, she paused. She bent down, untied her shoes and removed them before entering the house. She was incoherent, sobbing, bloodied...yet her manners were so ingrained that she stopped to respect the house she was entering.

We sat her on the couch, and my boyfriend's sister called 9-1-1. The boys stood outside looking for what was responsible for the scene. As T was relaying the information to the police, a man showed up in the street waving a gun and threatening to come in the house and 'get what was his'.

Those words still chill me when I think of him yelling that outside the window. The girl on the couch, cowering as we tried to cover her with blankets, cloths and icepacks until help arrived.

The police were there within seconds, it seemed. Mention a gun involved and they'll be there before you know it.

As the girl calmed down, her story started to spill out. The man two doors down was very well-off. A friend of her mothers. She had needed somewhere to go after her husband left and her mother's friend offered her a place to stay for the month. She knew he was financially secure, and thought that she had it made. Not really thinking with the full picture, she saw what she thought was a free ride.

Arriving at the house three weeks prior, she found the man had other ideas. And none of them were pleasant. She had been kept a prisoner, and used as he felt necessary. His doors were barred and when he left, she was tied up so she couldn't move. There were details. Horrid details which I won't repeat. Suffice to say, the story was beyond belief.

We had always known the man to be strange, but of course, no one wants to ever believe someone to be truly malicious and evil. The house was kept immaculate but instead of curtains, he had paper taped over every window. He also went to great expense and ire of the bylaw officers to have 15 foot hedges planted around his yard so no one could see in.

The night this happened, the girl tried to leave. She had been pistol whipped and beaten, but struggled and was able to momentarily disable her attacker. What I had heard was her screams as she broke free. I often wonder what would have happened if I had listened to my friends and not gone out.

The man was arrested, and the girl taken to the hospital. Sadly, he was released soon after and she was back the following month. That angered me that she would go back and that this would be dismissed as a 'domestic dispute'. I saw the bruises, and they were not mere shiners. This was brutal and intended rage.

But I don't regret going to her aid. I would do it again if faced with the same situation.

It's probably 12 years or so since that happened. I often wonder what became of her. The man still lives there, and his windows are still covered in the unprinted newpaper. The hedges are now 20 feet tall and according to my ex's family, he is rarely seen outside but when he does comes out, he's always well dressed and seemingly 'normal', but things still don't feel 'right'.
August 17, 2005
When Gravity is still fun

Remember when gravity was fun, and you had no idea that jumping off your parents furniture might not be a good idea?

Ms. Thang does one thing very well, and that's reminding us how much fun can be found in the little things. Watching her squeal in excitement in things that seem so bland to us gives us such a lift. Kids are great for putting us in our place and keeping us young.

They're gone for two weeks now. They left yesterday to visit family in Alberta - Dead Rear, to be exact. Well, not exact but if you know where that is, you'll understand.

Gone 24 hours and I've already had two phonecalls. They miss me as much as I miss them, I guess It's going to be a long couple weeks, me thinks!
August 16, 2005

I love this time of year when the blueberries are ripe in the field and they are practically giving them away at the roadside stands. 4 lbs. for $3.00 - gotta love it. This is my ultimate muffin recipe. I find it's great with a little extra on the chocolate chips. White chips are my favourite, but caramel chips also add a nice little twist. Or both. Why not? Recipes are just suggestions anyway!

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are extra large and yummy with the sugary-cinnamon crumb topping.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
3/4 c white/caramel/butterscotch/chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries and chips. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

I usually buy a tonne of them this time of year, and freeze them on baking sheets before putting them in freezer bags. This way, they don't clump up and are easy to grab just a few for baking, or pancakes or whatever you feel the need for.
August 15, 2005
Crash this
The website for Wedding Crashers allows you to crash their trailer. Upload a pic of your own choice, decide which character you want to be and before you know it, you're on the big screen.

Way too much mindless fun! And why stop at people you know? It's fun to upload, say, a pic of Queen Elizabeth as Vince Vaughn's date. Or what about Harry Potter dancing along side Owen Wilson. The possibilities are endless.

Try it. You'll like it.

The dentist wasn't fun today. I'm cave-dwelling until I can be presentable. Things you don't want to hear when all vulnerable in the chair?

'Oops...don't worry, dear - we'll stitch that right up'.

I guess she slipped with whatever tool she was using to cut away the gum (not that she even mentioned that was her goal at the time). I am usually fairly tolerant - although freaked out, but had to tell her to ease up on the pressure two or three times. She left me with a prescription for Percocet and the comment 'You'll be uncomfortable for a bit, but the pain medication should help'. Gee, thanks. Remind me why I love coming here so much?
Who are your neighbours?
This was in our local community paper, but didn't seem to be carried by the major newspapers.

EXCLUSIVE: Weapons stockpile confiscated
By Martin van den Hemel
Staff Reporter

Aug 12 2005

Before he was disarmed in January, Richmond's Jeff Chen was ready to strap on bombs or fight for Islam at the word of his Muslim leader.

But an alarming e-mail the young Steveston High graduate sent to Sheik Younus Kathrada led the RCMP's national anti-terror team to a large cache of powerful weapons in January, a seizure that made Chen view the world differently.

Before the police's intervention and his subsequent enlightenment and more moderate view of Islamic teachings, Chen said he was willing to sacrifice his life if Sheik Kathrada had ordered that.
"At that point, I believed whatever the Sheik told me, ok, because I didn't have any other information, another view of Islam...I didn't know better than that."

Acting on behalf of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, the Richmond RCMP found Jeffrey Chung-Ping Chen, 28, in possession of a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, a U.S. M-1 gauge rifle, a M-1 carbine module rifle with a scope, a Winchester magnum, rifle shells, two ammunition belts, five rifle cartridges, a 15-inch dagger and two 14-inch daggers.

The police were alerted to Chen by Kathrada, who first made national headlines late last year for calling the assassins of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin the "brothers of the monkeys and the swine."

When contacted by The Richmond Review Thursday, Kathrada, a Richmond resident, acknowledged that he knew Chen, who attended Kathrada's lectures a few times a week initially last year, but then was seen less often

"In the past I had received some e-mails that I saw as potentially, I guess, dangerous if you will, so I passed them on to the authorities basically.

"I did what I thought was right."

In a Dec. 13, 2004 e-mail to Kathrada, the leader of the Dar Al-Madinah Islamic Society which operates out of a hall in East Vancouver, Chen wrote that he was willing to become a "die hard" and that he was "itching to use the rifles that I have in actual combat (jihad in Middle East and elsewhere)."

Asked what he meant by being a "diehard," Chen said: "Like do whatever he says."
Kathrada said the e-mail made him feel "uneasy" and that's why he alerted the authorities
Chen and his lawyer, Carlos Charles, appeared in Richmond provincial court on Thursday morning, where Chen consented to the Crown's request that he be banned from possessing any firearms for the next three years.

But Chen wanted his weapons back, and that was denied, however he will have the opportunity to sell them.

Chen has not been charged with any criminal offence

RCMP Insp. Lloyd Plant, of INSET, would not comment on the Chen case although he said he was familiar with it.

Crown Counsel Vanessa Soon also chose not to comment.

Asked if his client is a danger to the community, lawyer Carlos Charles said: "He is not a danger to the public. We have what you call freedom of religion in this country and he was just searching for something I guess. He is not a dangerous person, nothing happened. It's just that he wanted to get his firearms back.

"I think the police made a mistake, but in any event we solved it."

Charles said his client is an English-as-a-second-language teacher who last taught in Japan and doesn't teach locally. He said his client has some job prospects in other countries.
"He was born and grew up here. He's a local boy."

Chen, who lives with his parents and has younger siblings, said he doesn't believe he's a danger to the public, and called terrorists who bombed London's transport system last month "ignorant, because they followed the leaders blindly. They just took orders and destroyed themselves."

But before the RCMP took his weapons, which he described as novelty items, Chen said he was ready to take arms if Sheik Kathrada had told him to do that. He noted two Lower Mainland men who regularly attended Kathrada's lectures (Vancouver's Rudwan Khalil Abubaker and Maple Ridge's Kamal Elbahja) disappeared, with one of them reportedly killed in Chechnya and described as an explosives expert by Russian special forces

In his Dec. 13, 2004 letter, Chen wrote: "Asalaam Alykum (peace be upon you), while at Haji you will meet some brothers that made Dawah (invitation to Islam) to me in Japan. If you should meet and talk to them and convince them of true Islam, then I will return to Daral Madinah and become a diehard. Btw (by the way) I also am itching to use the rifles that I have in actual combat (jihad in Middle East and elsewhere)."

But of course, the bad thing that happen in other parts of the world could never happen here, right? Just ask Carolyn Parrish.
August 14, 2005
The Solo Boss

Last night, Bruce Springsteen performed his acoustic concert in Vancouver. I had fantastic seats...Row 1, Balcony dead center from the stage. And they were expensive - $115 a ticket. It was a small venue - they had arranged the arena to make it almost intimate with only 7,000 tickets sold. And this concert marked the final venue for his 4 month world tour.

I took my niece's husband so it actually was very expensive - $257 for the evening as they can't really afford such a luxury and I wanted to do something for Tom.

I had been very much looking forward to this concert. While I am not a rabid fan or anything, I love his voice and have many of his cds.

It was difficult to get to, considering I'm negotiating the world on crutches but Tom was a great help, offering his arm when I'd falter and we took it slow.

Bruce Springsteen was 45 minutes late taking to the stage, and while I am still solidly impressed by his talent, the concert as a whole was very disappointing.

It was an opportunity for him to perform sans the E-Street Band, but the whole set made me feel very dark and depressed. It was like an entire 2 1/2 hours of the same melancholy song, just sung slightly differently.

I only recognized a handful of songs - "The Rising" (which I will say was done very effectively, with no lights save a spotlight behind him), and covers of other songs - "Blinded By The Light" and "Because The Night". As the local paper described it, he performed songs about characters who feel alone, underscoring them with a lonesome wail. I found it rather disturbing, frankly.

There were none of his mega 'Secret Garden', 'Hungry Heart', no 'My Hometown' - not even 'Born In the USA'. Maybe I'm not deep enough or something, but when I go to a concert, I want to see performances of my favourites. Even if I don't sing along out loud, I want to follow the words in my head and at least get into the music a bit. There was none of that. Looking around at the crowd, there were no smiles. No clapping, save some polite applause after each song. Only minimal swaying. It was like looking at a vast array of zombies in the cold, blue light.

The highlight, though, was when his son Evan came to the stage briefly. He brought his Dad his guitar and looked thoroughly nervous standing there in front of everyone. At 15, he gave off the teenage 'Leave me alone, Dad!' vibe that only that age can. Bruce laughed and said 'Yeah, every time I have him do that it costs me $100. Having to take him away from his Playstation and DVD's backstage to something for me.' Had to matter what, relationships between kids and parents are the same.

I did enjoy the far too brief times that Bruce stopped to talk about certain songs or stories. I would have like to have heard more. He's led an interesting life.

However, song after song of dark depressing music made it quite a mellow night. Songs with lines like 'turtles eating the dead skin off the eyes' when singing about a Mexican person who tried to cross the river into the US but drowned in the process did not fill me with light. The last encore was a song with what seemed like just three words. 8 minutes of 'Dream Baby Dream' was like that nightmare that you cannot wake up from.

I wish I could say it was worth the money, but frankly, if that's what he has to offer, I'll stick to the CDs.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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Turning thirty and a half
  • July 2004
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