Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Typical short-sightedness

In the twenty years (gasp!) that have passed since I entered Nursing school, many things have changed. I am constantly amazed by the advances that have been made in surgical techniques, particularly laparoscopy. Surgeries which once required large incisions, long recovery times, and the risk of permanent nerve damage to the surrounding area are now performed through tiny keyholes with incredible precision.

If you'll forgive the pun, this cutting-edge technology has been brought to a new level by the DaVinci Robotic Surgical system. Developed in France, it was approved by the FDA for use in the United States in 2000. Applications include heart valve replacement, hysterectomies, and prostatectomies. Here in the USA, it is common to see billboards advertising a hospital's ability to perform surgeries with this new technology. The DaVinci system is expensive, but in a competitive health care marketplace, the bean counters know that they must spend the big bucks if they want to bring in the big bucks.

North of the 49th parallel .. meh, not so much. The DaVinci system is available in five Canadian cities, but none of the provincial Ministries of Health will cough up the extra $3000 to $5000 that a robotic prostatectomy costs, as compared to the traditional surgery to remove a cancerous prostate. It is left to charitable foundations to pick up the tab.

Never mind that the robotic surgery cuts the length of the hospital stay from four days to one. Never mind the reduced risk of post-operative infections in the age of C-Diff and MRSA outbreaks. Never mind the reduced risk of incontinence and impotence, both of which add to the cost of post-operative care. Never mind that any of these sequella could easily cost the Canadian health care system much more than $5000.

Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face!

My flight of fancy is already their reality

During the long dark downtime of night shift last Sunday, the Nurse's Aide and I were talking about technological advances which would improve the care that we deliver.

One idea that has been tickling and nagging in my perpetually sleep-deprived brain, is a better toilet. I have this notion that the hospital toilet of the future would measure output and scan for occult blood, C-Diff, and urinary tract infections. It would also have a built-in bidet and would sanitize itself immediately after use.

Unsurprisingly, the Japanese are already way ahead of the curve on this idea, with the latest incarnation of The Intelligence Toilet II. This model is designed for home use, and beams the information collected to your PC.

Now, if only they could release a Hello Kitty Intelligence Toilet ...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Charming non-sequitur of the day

Against my better judgment, I went to the Commissary on Fort Drum today. Normally, I try to avoid all retail establishments on the Saturday before Christmas, but I needed to take advantage of the lull between the blasts of Snow-Mageddon '08.

I don't use the Commissary very often. The small savings offered to the military community and its retirees are usually offset by the annoyance factor. Many things contribute to the annoyance factor, and chief amongst them are the young GI Joes who are full of piss and vinegar. One of their favourite tricks is to sit in their muscle cars and burst the eardrums of all persons over the age of 25 within a 2 mile radius.

The role of obnoxious GI Joe was played today by a dude in a yellow Mustang GT, parked right in front of the Commissary doors.

And his music of choice was .. Andrea Bocelli ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I'm pretty sure that GI Joe still had most of his baby teeth when Con Te Partiro seemed to play on endless loop. I never tired of it then, and I certainly appreciated it today.

Thanks, obnoxious GI Joe, for making an old lady's day!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm sure there were no vampires in this town, either!

Brussels sprouts, oh brussels sprouts!
Magical, but not a fruit,
Makes Gorillas Toot!

Sorry, said the zoo.
Embarrassed, and unprepared
For a smell that strong.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Waste not, want not!

I was amused by this story of pungent ingenuity.

Arkeny, Iowa, is the home of Tone Brothers, Inc. I have a cupboard full of their spices.

Apparently, they had a surplus of garlic salt, which they donated to the town. It was otherwise destined for a landfill. Mixed with regular road salt, it did a fine job of melting snow and ice.

Also, there were no reports of vampire attacks in the town this week. Bonus!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Living the dream

The Mister told me
It was his dream to snowblow
In a Santa hat

Who am I to stand
Between the love of my life
And his lifelong dream?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

So senseless and such a waste

A few hours ago, the church where I was baptized was filled with tears.

Hundreds of people had gathered to mourn for a family of four, who had roots in my hometown. They had succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning when a pipe inside their natural gas fireplace became blocked with carbon. All four had been complaining of flu-like symptoms for a couple of weeks.

A simple CO detector would have revealed the cause of their symptoms and saved all of their lives. Apparently, they didn't have one in their home.

Friends, if you do not have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, why the hell not?

Go get one.

Right now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

To every thing there is a season

Thousands of snow geese
Fill the gray December skies
Just for a moment

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Oh, Canada!!!

Hold on to your toques! The week in Canadian politics has been fascinating, to say the least. Yes, I just typed "fascinating" and "Canadian politics" in the same sentence. Does anyone else have whiplash right now?

One of the best explanations I've read for the machinations in the Great White North can be found in, of all places, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's knitting blog, the Yarn Harlot. As one commenter said, Canada's Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy is, at once an incredibly complex and yet frighteningly logical system.

Newfie satirist Rick Mercer has an excellent take on the situation immediately prior to the prorogation of Parliament. Say that three times quickly!

I'm looking forward to hearing my brother's take on this turn of events. (hint hint!)

Incidentally, if anyone who knows me in real life is stumped in terms of what to get me for Christmas, I've put some of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's books on my Amazon wish list. (hint hint hint!)

Hang on tight, my fellow Canucks. It's going to be a bumpy toboggan ride for the next little while.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008


We enjoyed a post-Thanksgiving feast of turkey enchiladas tonight.

Well, the grown-ups did. Young William was not as enthusiastic about this meal, given his preference for simpler cuisines.

I encouraged him to try a few more bites. I said, Here's some nice bits of turkey. And, dude! look at all the cheese on top! Who doesn't love cheese?

Without missing a beat, the kidlet replied with that laconic humour that he has developed of late: Vegans!

Kids today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The visitor

I looked out my kitchen window just a few minutes ago, and saw a most majestic young animal walking along our back-forty pathway. I grabbed my camera, and snuck around to the front yard.

He saw me, and we watched each other for a moment.

Then he gracefully leapt across the road, away from that human with her camera.

Spike is apparently aware of his breathtaking beauty, and struck this majestic pose for me before strutting off to the shrubbery.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ummm .. excuse me, but ..

.. who exactly was footing the bill for this extravagant feast at the G20 Summit?

I understand that it's important to use the good china when entertaining dignitaries, but when the reason for the dinner is the financiapocalypse, it might be a good idea to scale back a little. Something tells me that dishes like fruitwood-smoked quail with quince gastrique, quinoa risotto, thyme-roasted rack of lamb don't come cheap. As my dad would say, "the optics are bad" on that one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day in the modern era

I was incredibly moved by an article I just read in the New York Times, which discusses service dogs for disabled veterans.

The death rate in our current wars is nowhere near that of the previous ones, thanks to the advances made in personal protective gear. But the injuries sustained by our soldiers - the visible and the invisible wounds - remain unbearably high.

How touching and gratifying it is, then, to know that there are organizations like Canine Companions for Independence, America's Vet Dogs, and Neads Canines for Combat Veterans.

Be sure to check out the slide show attached to the New York Times article.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Cracker Barrel = Liberal Haven???

After I got home from work on Tuesday morning, we drove down to the local fire station, where Steve pulled the lever for Obama. Although I am not an American citizen, I am married to one and I am the mother of one. I felt that it was important for my son to share in the experience of this historic occasion.

Afterwards, we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. For my readers who are not familiar with this establishment, it's a very folksy, country style restaurant. It also has a gift shop filled to the rafters with kitchy nostalgic items. It's the last place on earth that I expected to encounter opposition to California's Proposition 8.

Yet .. there it was .. a political statement .. clear as day, in red and red!

These guys are clearly in love, and it's a beautiful thing.

If Cracker Barrel has no problem accepting a same-sex couple feathering their nest together, then I must ask: California, what's your effing problem???

It's a beautiful day

Last night's speech in Chicago was the very definition of Presidential. President-elect Obama - oh, how I love to type that! - was gracious, encouraging, and classy.

Well done, America.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

One word


Thursday, October 30, 2008

From the ridiculous to the sublime

The snows of the past
Give way to a ghostly mist
In the new day's light

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dude, where's my car?

Dear Mother Nature
'Twas neither funny nor cute
This full foot of snow

My muscles, they scream
After an eternity
Of shovelling it

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The return of the haiku

fluffy white snowflakes
dancing outside my window
WHAT THE @#$% IS THAT?????

this is October!!!!!
I did not authorize this!!!!
excuse me while I pout

Friday, October 24, 2008


In the soundtrack of my life, there is one song that stands out as the accompaniment to its most dramatic moment.

Late one wintry February night, I waited outside Watertown International Airport for my beloved. He was flying home from Iraq, after his chain of command wisely and compassionately determined that his health issues needed to be addressed immediately.

The immediately part - well, that just didn't happen - but Steve did make it home.

The name, Watertown International Airport, is rather misleading as there are very few flights going in or out, and none of them having international destinations. The airport is so small, in fact, that the terminal was closed at 10 pm. My son and I sat in the car, listening to the radio and watching the runway lights flicker on.

The moment that the tiny commuter jet's wheels hit the runway, the incomparable kd lang's voice filled up the car, and my heart, as she belted out her cover of Hallelujah. It was perfect.

And on this, my husband's last day in uniform, I defer to the amazing Katherine Dawn of Consort, Alberta, to express my overwhelming emotion at the end of this chapter of our lives.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quote of the day

The pitbull wears Prada.

Just one of many zingers in Vinay Menon's excellent piece about Sarah Palin's obscene spending spree campaign wardrobe expenses.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


My husband is, to say the least, an afficionado of the works of Tolkien. He has studied the author's life and works, and considers The Lord of the Rings to be the ultimate PTSD self-help project.

On this dreary, rainy fall afternoon, we popped The Fellowship of the Ring into the DVD player. There is a scene in which Frodo Baggins awakes in the house of Elrond, having recovered from the near fatal-woulds of a Morgul blade.

The wise old wizard, Gandalf, tells Frodo .. it is ten o'clock in the morning. It is the morning of October the twenty-fourth, if you want to know.

Steve's last official task in the Army will take place October 24th, at 10 AM, when he attends his last retirement outprocessing appointment.

Interpret that sign as you wish.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My new hero

Many of my patients are hip old ladies.

By old, I mean old, as in pushing ninety and beyond.

And by hip, I mean spunky old gals who are just stopping in for a quick hip replacement so that they can keep on keeping on.

I love my hip old ladies, and I want to be one when I grow up.

So when idiotic jocks and ridiculous pencil-pushing bureaucrats conspire to make life difficult for a hip old lady, I get riled up and have no choice but to blog about it.

Edna Jester, of Blue Ash, Ohio, is a hip old lady.

When she grew tired of those damned kids kicking their football into her yard, she confiscated said football.

A young whippersnapper by the name of Paul Tanis, aged 40, called the cops.

The cops charged Ms. Jester with petty theft over her refusal to return the $15 football. Ms. Jester has been ordered to appear in court next month. If convicted, this 89 year old woman could face a maximum of 6 months in jail and/or a $1000 fine.


They're going to tie up the court system over a case of finders keepers?

I'd offer to replace the $15 football if Mr. Tanis wasn't such a jerk. In fact, I'd even go so far as to deliver said football where the sun doesn't shine .. but it appears that his head is already in the way.

Free Edna!!

Awww, thanks baby!

My post-night shift power nap was pleasantly disrupted this morning. The Mister and The Kidlet made a quick run to the store, and surprised me with these beautiful roses.

There's been a lot of hoopla about my retirement from the Army, said my hubby, but in many ways, you're retiring from the Army, and you deserve some hoopla, too.

{I'm a little verklempt .. talk amongst yourselves ...}

It's been one hell of a ride, these past fourteen years, and words cannot express my relief to know that we are finally on the off-ramp from Army life.

And yet .. and yet ..

For better and for worse, with more sickness than health, I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why did the turkeys cross the road?

Because they heard that some crazy Canadian lady lives in the house on this side of the road .. and that crazy Canadian lady celebrates Thanksgiving in October!

This flock of turkeys wandered through my yard, then ran right out my driveway and into the field across the way.

They needn't have been afraid. I roasted one of their domestic cousins yesterday. He was delicious!

A touch of wry humour for a lovely Monday morning

A friend sent this to me via email, and I thought it was hilarious. Enjoy!

To: The citizens of the United States of America
From: Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas , which she does not fancy). Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter "U" will be reinstated in words such as "colour," "favour," "labour" and "neighbour." Likewise, you will learn to spell "doughnut" without skipping half the letters, and the suffix "-ize" will be replaced by the suffix "-ise." Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (Look up "vocabulary").

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U. S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter "u"' and the elimination of "-ize."

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler, although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10 US per gallon. Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. Australian beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full Kevlar body armour like a bunch of nannies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America . Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to1776).

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes

These days, in homeschool math land, we're covering the concept of integers. In an effort to explain negative and positive numbers, the workbook uses examples like these:

Jane has $115 in her checking account. She writes a check for $128. What will her new bank balance be?

William's puzzled expression upon reading this problem indicated two things to me. I don't think he's seen me write a check in the last several years after I discovered the ease of internet banking, so the whole concept of checks is pretty foreign to him. They seem silly and antiquated to me as well.

More importantly, I could see that the notion of bouncing a check troubled him, so I pounced on this opportunity to inject some ethics into our math class.

I told my little guy that these questions bothered me, too. Then I launched into what might have become an epic rant about the dishonesty and immorality involved in attempting to spend money that one simply didn't have.

"People who do this kind of thing," I raved ...

"Should go to jail!" replied the little guy.

Enough said. Class dismissed.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Quote of the day

I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

Thomas Friedman, in today's New York Times.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Democracy is awesome!

It took me days to reach a decision.

This is, after all, the most important election in the history of my home and native land. Its outcome will set the tone in Canada for decades to come.

Despite the fact that this election was foisted upon the Canadian public against their wishes, I felt it was vitally important to exercise my franchise.

I have carefully considered each option. They're all quite good, in their own way. Ultimately, however, one candidate captured my imagination and earned my vote. I think it was the bagpipes that did it for me.

I chose Colin Oberst's "Canadian Gold" for the next Hockey Night in Canada anthem.

(Oh, and I sent off my absentee ballot for the Federal election, too!)

There's no place like home

This is a much nicer vista to gaze upon, isn't it?

After three weeks in a seventh-floor hotel room in the greater DC area, it's nice to get my feet back on the frosty ground. If I never venture south of the Mason-Dixon line again, it will be too soon.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Tiger

This tiger didn't merely look directly into my eyes.

It reached in deep, and locked in on my soul.

Overheard at the zoo yesterday

"Lana, if you hit your sister, I will spank you!"

This was the same woman who instructed her triplet toddlers to look at the monkeys as their whirling dervish of an entourage passed the Western Mountain Gorilla pavillion.

The Gorilla could barely conceal its contempt. I can't say that I blame it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Zoo, Part Two

My son and I took another trip to the National Zoo today. We enjoyed all of the pavillions, and were able to see some of the animals who weren't out the first time around.

The Red Panda has pulled itself out of its despondent state regarding the financial mess our country is facing, and has returned to its regularly scheduled nomming of leaves.

The Prairie Dog, on the other hand, is still pissed about this turn of events.

The turtles are having a lively conference about their options. It's a good thing that their mortgages are already paid off. No shell games for them. No sirree!

These Californians are managing their stress though some yoga. Behold the Upward Facing Sea Lion.

The Cheetah is worried about the ripple effects on the already staggering price of fresh meat.

The Golden Lion Tamarin just coasted through school on his good looks. He charmed his way through Economics 101, and has no idea what's really going on.

The frog is staying in bed with the covers - or in this case, the lily pad leaf - pulled over his head.

The Gorilla saw the crisis coming long ago, and has its affairs in order already.

And the Orang Utan was the one who told the Gorilla that the economic poop was going to hit the fan. But no-one ever listens to the Orang Utan, except the Gorilla.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It will be mine .. oh, yes, it WILL be mine!

So, I was flipping through the print edition of the Washington Post this morning, and there it was ..

.. the end result when some benevolent, creative person wakes up one morning with one burning question: What can I design to make Rose deliriously happy? What could combine her obsessions of Laura Ashley designs, the colour pink, and cute zippy cars? Oh! The Laura Ashley Mini Cooper, that's what!

It turns out that one cannot simply purchase the Laura Ashley Mini Cooper. One must enter a contest at a mattress store.

Fortunately, there is such a store at Dupont Circle in DC. That's just a quick ride down the Red Line on the Metro.

Can you guess where we're going tomorrow?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Requisite DC tourist pics

The White House, South Lawn.

Mr. Lincoln

First Division Monument

Vietnam Women's Memorial

Fountain at the World War II Memorial, with the Washington Monument in the background.

Capitol Hill

Thursday, September 25, 2008

You want HOW MUCH for a bailout???

Even the birds in DC are flummoxed by the bailout "plan".

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Squeee! Another goal accomplished!

My Red Panda picture is up on Cute Overload!!

Now I really feel like a rock star!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A day late and a dollar short

Behold the view from our hotel window.

Despite the fact that Talk Like a Pirate Day was yesterday, all I could think as I gazed upon this vista this morning was, GAR! Look at t'wasted solar energy as the evil dryer eats my dubloons!

Translation: I wish I could string some 550 cord amongst those light standards so that I could line dry the laundry instead of wasting a dollar and, more importantly, all that electricity, in the hotel laundromat's dryer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A trip to the Zoo

We were well impressed with the National Zoo. We had visited a few years ago, and left disappointed. It appears that a great deal of work has gone into improving the zoo, and the results are evident.
His Majesty
Her Majesty
Marabou Stork
Red Panda
Brown Pelican
Cheetah Girl at rest
FlamingoesAsian Small-clawed Otter
Greater Rhea

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Late bloomers

The rose garden at Brookside is, I'm told, at its peak in May. These lovely blooms, however, kept their beauty hidden until now. There's a metaphor in there, somewhere.