Sunday, August 30, 2009

Now we're cookin' with gas.

On Friday, the nice man from the gas & electrical company installed our new gas range. We'd needed a new stove for awhile now, and now that we're on the natural gas grid, it was an opportunity to do something I'd always wanted - cook over flame. For years I've heard women from overseas wax ecstatic about their gas ranges in their country of origin, and how hard it was to adjust to the clumsy electric burners that are standard in Canadian homes. That jibed with all the research I was able to do online. Proponents of gas cooking are only slightly less passionate and evangelical than Apple fans.

I picked the stove, but Husband did the heavy lifting, arranging delivery and installation (which took about 4 hours).

It's taking some time to adapt, but so far I love it, love it, love it, love it, love it. Temperature control at the click of a knob. Everything cooks faster, and you can actually hit a sweet simmer spot when you want to.

I also picked up a netbook - an Acer Aspire One. Husband got one about a month ago, after a LOT of research, and has been really pleased with it. I love it - it can do so much of what a full-sized laptop can do, but at a fraction of the weight. It'll be ideal for travel.

Other than that, not much news. Summer's faded - the temps have dropped. Work is more challenging now, and my career is moving in directions I didn't really expect, but directions that both challenge, occasionally terrify, and excite me. This week will be challenging. And terrifying. I've been given a really important and very public assignment that shows my managers have a lot of faith in me and which will - if I pull it off - bring me a lot of credibility for future advancement.

Did I mention that I'm terrified?


Labels: ,

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What if "the commons" didn't end in tragedy? [updated]

Watching the health care debate in the US is nothing so much as frustrating for Canadians (and as far as I can see, Britons, and other) because of the myriad and obscene lies that are being told about the health care systems we live with and access every day.

The two biggest horror stories that American enemies of health care reform seen to be able to hurl at the Canadian system are 1) Canadians go to the US to get health care that is denied them, or to skip waiting lists, and 2) There are appalling delays in Canada for treatment.

As for 1), yeah, a small number of people from Canada go to the US for treatment every year. Bully for them. Through my work, I'm also familiar with Canadians who go to India or Malaysia in any given year for things like Lasik surgery, or cosmetic surgery. Those things aren't covered under Canada's public health care, and are cheaper in those countries, but just as well-done. It's kind of a vacation-cum-surgery retreat. All that means, in fact, is that we have more choice in our health care, if we are able and choose to drop some dinero.

As to 2), in my experience getting access to diagnostic testing has never had a delay attached... seeing a specialist or having the related treatment based on the diagnosis may have a delay of a few weeks. But I've never experienced it, nor has Husband. Nor our extended families. And I've had a lot of experience with the Canadian health care system, bud. I lost count of my surgeries some years back - after they fixed me for good. Back in the early 90s my medical team was jokingly calling me the "million-dollar woman" because that's what they estimated my care had cost to date.

But what Americans seem to miss about Canadian healthcare allocation is that it is urgency-based. I've never ever experienced a delay in getting diagnostic tests nor seeing a specialist nor getting the related treatment because my issues were usually quite urgent.

Elective treatments - such as hip or knee replacements - by far make up the great bulk of delays in the Canadian health care system, regardless of what you've read or heard. And even then, I've never really experienced delays - when I went deaf I was immediately fast-tracked to an ENT who I was told later had a 6-week waiting list. And my hearing wasn't coming back, folks.

As for beaurocrats who deny you coverage... I'm simply baffled by the concept. I mean, I suppose such people may exist. It's just that every decision I've ever made with a doctor or surgeon has taken place in the consulting room, and I am simply unaware of any system whereby someone vets those decisions and says "no". In fact, I would propose that in a country where we worship our health care system, any such denial would result in the patient's family going directly to the media and a firestorm of trouble for the beaurocrats and politicians involved.

Much of the difference in the Canadian system and the way the American media choose to present it is in attitude. The whole system - like Britain's NHS or other developed countries' public health care - is based on a fundamental belief in health care as a shared asset that everyone should have access to, regardless of circumstance. My 79-year-old mother-in-law* has been offered a hip replacement at her leisure. She has chosen not to take it because she feels that that surgery should be performed on someone younger who would get more use out of it. (We disagree, but it's her decision.) I've written before that if given the option of a second implant on the other side, I'd probably turn it down because that money could instead go towards a surgery for a deaf toddler.

I dunno. Mostly I hope that some kind of reform will be stuffed through somehow with a public option so that Americans can start experiencing it, and understanding the great peace and comfort from never having to worry that a catastrophic illness will bankrupt them and their extended family.

*Husband informs me that mother-in-law is 79, not 69 as I originally posted. So much for the "denying care to the elderly" myth.



Meet Alger

On Saturday (Caturday?) we visited C. to meet her new companion, Alger. He's the most incredible looking cat with huge golden eyes.

Friendly and engaging, he's around 2 years old and an SPCA cat, naturally. C. found him through the Fredericton SPCA website and it was apparently love at first sight. Eharmony eat your heart out.
They're a prefect fit for each other and the best of friends. I'm so happy to welcome him into our extended family and to know that C. is once again hearing the pitter patter of little feet around the apartment.
Welcome, Algy!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Kill Bill

That would be the best of all possible scenarios, but it looks like nothing will kill Bill before it dumps metres of rain and hurls tropical-storm-strength-winds on Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, at least.
Feh. Hurricanes we've done hundreds of times, if not thousands. Power might go out - batteries. Cash on hand. Fill up the car. Get rid of any planters or other potential projectiles in the back yard. Especially tie down or stow any patio furniture.
Interesting that in Newfoundland, where I grew up, these were always called "tailends" - tail ends of hurricanes from the south, never did much damage. In NB and NS these are not called "tailends" - they are not yet tail ends - they are usually tropical storms, and sometimes still hurricanes, and much scarier. (Google "Hurricane Juan Halifax" to understand why.)


Thursday, August 20, 2009

The view. 4:30's here!!

Reductio ad essentia

You have no doubt heard about the exchange between Representative Barney Frank (who happens to be Jewish) and a constituent who calls healthcare reform a "Nazi policy". Representative Frank concluded his dressing-down of the woman by saying that having a conversation with her would be as fruitful as having a conversation with a dining room table, and he had no interest in doing so.

It was a long drink of cool water for a lot of frustrated people to finally see one of the Town Hall ranters, some who are downright scary, being told in no uncertain terms that they are, well, saying things that are apeshit crazy. So of course it went viral immediately.
This is one of the many tributes I've seen around the web and I can even forgive the misspelling of "literally" due to the simplicity and profundity of it.
(You'll need to click on it to read it, obviously.)


Friday, August 14, 2009

Mapping the ancestors

I've written before about the Old Burial Ground which I pass through daily on my way back and forth from work.

Well, the city recently completed an installation that quite surprised me - a map of the Burial Ground, numbering each and every grave in the yard.

Next to the map are two more signboards listing - amazingly - every occupant of those numbered graves and their year of interment. I had no idea so many people were buried in this place, nor that all the records of their burials had been so meticulously kept. Now any geneaology buff can find an ancestor buried in this place with ease.

The display is the focal point of a new rest area with benches and flowers just outside the north gates of the burial ground. Fredericton has its challenges, but public green spaces is something it does very well, and kudos to them for combining a new one with a really interesting historical display.



Saturday, August 08, 2009

The story of Eric Clapton as it's never been told before.

engrish funny slow hand




Wednesday, August 05, 2009

OMG I'm Kenyan!

By now many of you will have heard about the real, genuine, not-at-all-fake Kenyan birth certificate for President Barak Obama that "birther" Orly Taitz has introduced as part of her quixotic and slightly unhinged lawsuit claiming that Obama can't be president of the US because he is not a "natural born US citizen" as required by the US Constitution.

Bloggers immediately started pointing out the numerous errors in the document which suggest it is anything but an authentic birth certificate issued in 1961 for a birth at the The Coast General Hospital (which is actually called the Coast Provincial General Hospital).

That won't dissuade the true-believer birthers, who are busy developing convoluted responses to every glaring error that's pointed out. They know it would be practically impossible with the state of modern technology to fake something like this.

But never mind that. While they're busy tying themselves in knots, we know the truth: we're all Kenyan! Yes, I, ronniecat, I AM KENYAN! And admit it - you're Kenyan too! We're all part of an international conspiracy of Kenyans posing as natural-born citizens of Canada, the US and Europe, and Obama is our leader! In fact, you can order a copy of your very own Kenyan birth certificate on teh interwebs to look at in secret under the covers at night with a flashlight while impersonating a genuine natural-born citizen of Canada or the US by day. (That's mine, on the left. Click to read the shocking truth.)

Secret Kenyan handshake,



Tuesday, August 04, 2009

There, I fixed it.

Not only am I the one who introduced some of you to i can has cheezburgers, I'm also the person who introduced some of you to

Now I regret that I am the person who introduces some of you to There, I fixed it.
Husband says, "It hurts to look at it."

There. You've been warned.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Florenceville [UPDATED]

Another shot, with cars for size comparison. (Also with satellite dishes for anachronism fun.) More about this later.

[UPDATE] This ark was built by the pastor of Burnham Road Cathedral, an ambitious church recently established in Florenceville, NB. (Which we also learned on this trip was named after Florence Nightingale - who knew?) To quote the church's website, "God gave Pastor Paul a vision of the Ark, showing him the location and its purpose. A few years later, in 1993, the construction began as the Lord provided."

The ark is supposedly 2/3 of the size of the biblical ark as described in Genesis, and it is a pretty impressive specimen. The ground floor hosts "healing rooms" and other facilities, and the upper level consists of dormitories for people attending the church's "School of the Spirit", some kind of bible study/religious training. (Hence the satellite dishes for television.)

Finding and photographing the ark - which we'd heard about - was the flimsy lynchpin that we hung this weekend's vacation on - really it was an excuse to spend some downtime (it's the New Brunswick Day long weekend) in a part of the province that's especially beautiful and which both of us have spent dozens of days in for work, but never together and never at our leisure. Home base was Woodstock, and we drove all around the region from there.

It was a lot of fun and sparked a lot of conversation about whether it's believable that "two of every sort" of "every living thing of all flesh" could be stored on a vessel half again as large* as the ark we saw. ("I mean, Africa alone..." I ventured. "Maybe not of every continent," Husband theorized. "Just the animals they knew." "It says 'every living thing'," I said. "Maybe the animals from other continents booked charter flights.") Not to mention the "sevens" of "every clean beast" to account for sacrifices. And seven of every fowl. And the food to feed this menangerie. And the Noah family, and the food to feed them.

Let's just say I for one wasn't persuaded. But I have to admire the effort and commitment that went into an impressive expression of the church's faith. And it was a great mini-vacation.


*I initially wrote "1/3 larger" but Husband pointed out my error.


Upper Northampton


Saturday, August 01, 2009

Woodstock. (No, not that Woodstock.)