Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Swedes Have Landed

This morning started very early, with the huge crash of thunder at about 6 a.m. Keeta isn't the biggest fan of thunder. She desparately tried to lobby her position that we should really check out what was happening out there. Maybe someone was trying to steal our garbage cans... or I don't know what. She was doing her working dog best to convince us to just do something!

A mumbled command or two later, "Keeta, go back to bed!!", she grudgingly lay back down, with another 15 minutes to go before the alarm.

But with the rain this morning, and the rain clouds not too far away, and the fact that it is the last day of May, I am in the mood to share some shiny happy Swedish music that I've found.

Now did you know that there is a Swedish Invasion in music out there? Who knew?! Today's music is brought to you by a Swedish group call The Charade. They have a happy blend of dark lyrics and Martha and the Vandellas doing Heat Wave (check out their myspace page at for "The World Is Going Under" - I couldn't find that one to share with you).

However, I did find one song of theirs to share and I hope it will usher in a little late spring sunshine to scare away some of those unhappy grey clouds still hanging around after our morning thunderstorm. I'm sure Keeta will be grateful for that.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Do You See The Difference?

To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. To fly is everything. ~~Otto Lilienthal (b.1848-d.1896), pioneer of human aviation, who became known as the German "Glider King"
Yves Rossy is our first jet-powered flying human. Elton's Rocket Man is the soundtrack. It's only right!

To infinity and beYOND!!!!!! ~~Buzz Lightyear, in Toy Story

Buzz Lightyear, my favourite jet-powered flying superhero. You also can't go wrong with Randy Newman's You Got A Friend in Me.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Petey's Passion

Our Petey loves the game of Toilet Paper Party.

At our house, we like to use those big megarolls of toilet paper, and Petey thinks those are the best. The bigger the roll is, the better. The toilet seat is the best place to work from. He sits on the seat, and with his paws, proceeds to quickly unroll it - and shred it in the process. Apparently a huge shredded pile, left on the floor to be found later, is best. Often if we are caught up in our daily activities, we don't notice, but if you listen, really listen, you can hear the deep rumble and rattle of the toilet roll holder, emanating from the bathroom upstairs.

But there's a game even better than TPP. TPP can be played anytime the bathroom door gets inadvertently left open, but this other game can only be played when a new critter arrives in the house.

This morning I could hear Petey talking enthusiastically upstairs. I saw him sitting at attention, ears perked forward, looking with anticipation at the closed bathroom door. I believed he was trying to convince the Kid to let him in to play a good game of TPP. I should have suspected otherwise though, because that game is best played alone. Those humans always spoil that game whenever he gets caught.

But when The Kid finally emerged, I heard her tell Petey that the spider didn't want to visit him. I then realized that his apparent enthusiasm was actually all about his Best Game Ever, Bug Huntin'.

In this game, Petey will see a bug, doesn't matter what kind - crawly or flying, perhaps somewhere close to the ceiling. Game time!

Sometimes a new unidentified spot on the wall, or a bit of a cobweb can also inspire the game, but we won't talk about my housekeeping transgressions here. Back to the Bug Huntin'.

Petey starts talking and chirping away, as if to convince said bug to come down from its safe haven in an upper corner of the room. He wants it to come down so he could poke at it, play with it, and perhaps eat it. But he's never mastered the art of stalking.

Our Rocky was a good hunter in his day, when he freely roamed the neighbourhood. He has caught his share of hapless mice, and an occasional baby bird. However, he apparently doesn't care that Petey's bug hunting technique is a little off.

There's nothing stealthy about Petey's technique. Petey loves the idea of the hunt, but he isn't very good at it. In fact, on more than one occasion, when the bug misjudged its ability to escape Petey, he would become the victim as a tiny bug snack. However, not realizing where it had gone, Petey would proceed search for the recently consumed bug, and re-examine every place where that bug had been. So the game continues, often long after the bug ceases to play.

Back to our eight-legged friend this morning. By this time, Petey was apparently trying to get at that spider, who had managed to crawl into a small dark space in the door frame. But that does not fool our Pete, who knew that if he just kept working at it, he would either dig his way in, or convince the spider that it wanted to come out again.

For a long while, the spider became his obsession; his mission. In fact, it became Petey's passion. Let the games begin.

Petey is bug hunting from our bedroom window. This vantage point offers a bit of a challenge to the game because of the screen.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Crazy as a Bedbug

Andy Kaufman was as crazy as a bedbug, but he was the most brilliant Elvis impersonator ever. According to Elvis himself, Andy's impersonation was his favourite.

Although Andy passed away from a rare form of lung cancer in 1985, when he was only 35 years old, rumours that he is still living still circulate among some fans. That would have made him very happy - a kind of happiness he never found in his short life.

He started those rumours himself. He often claimed that he would fake his death, long before he died. Wikipedia reports, "It is almost certain that he did indeed die on May 16, 1984. His death certificate is on file with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services." That sounds like a most definite maybe. Just as Elvis is hanging around somewhere in Michigan, so is Andy.

Taxi was an award-winning show with a large audience and Kaufman was widely recognized as Latka. On some occasions, audiences would show up to one of Kaufman's stage performances expecting to see him perform as Latka, and heckling him with demands when he did not. Kaufman would punish these audiences with the announcement that he was going to read "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald to them. The audience would laugh at this, not realizing that he was serious and would proceed to read the book to them, continuing despite audience members' departure. At a certain point, he would ask the audience if they wanted him to keep reading, or play a record. When the audience chose to hear the record, the record he cued up was a recording of him continuing to read "The Great Gatsby" from where he had left off. ~~Wikipedia

Even if you don't like Andy's Foreign Man/Latka character that is introduced in this clip of the Tonight Show, in 1979 by Johnny Cash, it is most definitely worth sticking around for his Elvis impersonation, That's When Your Heartaches Begin.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens


I've always loved this song. Sort of a sad reminiscing thing, with a happy kind of sound. I didn't realize until a few moments ago, when I stumbled on the video, that Paul McCartney is a co-writer of this song with Costello.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monkeying Around

Marge, don't discourage the boy! Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel. ~~Homer Simpson

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What Moms Really Deal With

In my last post, I promised I'd be a little edgier, so here's a video that might fit the bill a little better.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

A Thought or Two About Moms

I'm sure everyone knows, the Position of "Mom" is the most difficult job ever. Just recently, someone put a value on the the job position of Mom, and it's a six figure position.

We all know too that Moms aren't perfect. It can be a complex relationship, as we move from kidhood, teenhood, through adulthood. But even Moms aren't perfect. But Moms make us who we are today. Whether our Moms made us clean our rooms when we had something better to do, or whether we got grounded for missing curfews, or hosed us off in the yard when we fell in the mud (actually, that wouldn't have been me - that would be my sister, but Mom would still have to clean up!) We could count on them for a ton of good things too. But to prevent this from getting too sappy, just insert all your happy Mom memories here.

Special Letter for Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

In honour of Mother's Day, I would like to wish you a wonderfully happy Mother's Day. I'm not sure I've ever thanked you for being a Best Mom Ever, but you are. Not only that, you are a Best G'ma Ever. The Kid will attest to that.

I remember when I was a kid, I would proclaim all those things that nasty naughty kids proclaim. Know that I did not mean it. I was an idiot - just like all kids are from time to time.

I have now been a Mom for the better part of 18 years, as every year passes, I appreciate just a little bit more of what I must have put you through. Thank you for putting up with sleepless nights. Thank you for keeping me anyway.

Your G'Kid probably hasn't even tested me as much as I tested you, and for that, I am thankful. I believe your Mom skills helped me be the Mom that I am, and help the Kid become what she is today.

I really hope you don't mind having a very grateful daughter, instead of that six figure income.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Now, a note for my readers. I can see myself bordering on the slightly sappy side for the last couple of posts. Rest assured, I promise to be a little edgier. It's that Prom thing followed by that Mom thing. Thank you for your patience.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I remember when...

I remember when, BLAH blah blah. Don't worry. Please be reassured that I won't subject you to any of that today.

But I will share with you that today is a rather bittersweet day for me. It's Prom Day for the Kid. Yes, it's only May 10th, and it's Mother's Day tomorrow. But it is the day chosen by the high school prom committee - whose mothers are currently admonishing them, "What were you thinking!". However, it is what it is. I told the Kid that she owed me big for missing tomorrow because of 'After-Prom' party.

There's been lots of preparation. The dress was purchased a month ago, and all the accessories have been found. The hair will be done today (the style yet to be decided on), French manicure... although she will be doing her own toes. No point in wasting precious resources on feet!

On the more serious side, she will be reminded to do the smart thing re drinking drivers, and all the dangers that face teenagers. She will likely roll her eyes, and make all the reassurances that she will do the right thing. After all, she wasn't born yesterday, after all (need I be reminded of that?)

It will be wonderful to see her all grown up, and a little sad too. I won't get nostalgic here, but I could go all mushy at a moment's notice.

Today I'm going to counterbalance all this primping, parental concerns, and nostalgia, with a teen sense of humour.

Appreciate this letter, recently sent to the parents of Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon. It was on official-looking school letterhead. It looked real - for a while anyway. Just read on.
Dear Lincoln Families,

Prom is right around the corner. Our juniors and seniors will be celebrating the closing of the school year with this annual dance and the festivities surrounding it. Before our young men and women are let loose upon the dance floor on April l26th, we would like to address a few issues circulating in the Lincoln community.

It has come to our attention, as staff and administrators at Lincoln High School, that abstinance-only education is not effective. Instead of enforcing policy that does not work, we have decided to implement a more realistic approach to the situation concerning drug and alcohol abuse, as well as sexual activity. As our students grow into fantastic young adults, it is our job to help them learn and discover along their journey. That is why this year we would like to encourage you - the parents of our wonderful pupils - to talk to your kids about the reality of being a high school student.

You don't have to watch MTV or the latest movies to know that the world our children live in continually bombards them with images glorifying sex and substance abuse. It has been confirmed at the highest echelons of the nation's educational organization that we must begin to change our curriculum to accommodate the changing times and social attitudes. To commence this process, we have concluded that the best course of action is to acknowledge the fact that despite our best efforts to thwart such behavior, our students will inevitably partake in the consumption, or use of illegal materials, and be sexually active.

Before our sons and daughters leave for the dance this April, we would like you to understand that there will be individuals that will be providing access to alcohol and drugs. We do not condone this conduct, but we understand that we cannot stop it. With that said, please don't keep your children from attending prom this year. Instead, talk to them about the possibility of them participating in said behavior, and consider opening your home as a safe, secure place for students to have fun after the dance. If you provide the alcohol, you can have peace of mind knowing that they did not acquire it illegally. Furthermore, you know that they are not going to drink and drive, or hurt themselves or anyone else. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has stated that a fifth of alcohol, like Hennessy Cognac, is sufficient supply for at least 8 adults. One can assume that for 17 to 18 year old individuals, one fifth could probably be spread out to 4 students. Considering our reputation (Drinkin' Lincoln), in some cases one fifth is only enough for a single person.

According to a recent government research article, substance abuse leads to increased chance of sexual activity. To adapt to this news, we have also decided to include a condom with this letter. Once more, although we do not support the participation of sexual intercourse by our students, we want them to be safe. The condom included will provide at least some security to our students, and to you. Whether or not the behavior is appropriate, it will be a relief knowing that the chance of our students becoming pregnant or contracting a venereal disease has been decreased. STD epidemics have spread through other high school communities and we want to prevent such an outbreak as best we can.

We hope that your students have a wonderful prom, and enjoy themselves thoroughly. We would like to continue the tradition of Lincoln working hard, but playing hard as well. After a stressful year of school, this is an opportunity for our students to relax, have fun and prepare themselves for what life is going to be like in college.

Thank you very much!


The Lincoln High School Faculty and Administration

And I would like to add one more thing - that my Kid is the most responsible, level headed kid, and would never partake of any such activities.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Blind Indifference

In my last post about our resident Beeping Blind Man, one of my loyal fans made a very valid comment re my last blog post. He said,
The Glucose monitor situation is a disgrace to the health system. The CNIB and the Diabetic Association should be lobbying the government!!! ~~NT
That deserves more than a response. In fact, this very issue is going to form the basis of today's Furball blog post.

Who is lobbying our governments? Whose responsibility is it to cut through bureaucratic tape that holds technology back from people who need it? In the case of blind diabetics, the technology is out there. Talking meters are used everyday in the States, which are made by large and well-known pharmaceutical companies.

In our case, where we are trying to get a talking blood glucose meter so Larry can test his own blood, he's been told that "one day" there might be something. No reassurances for when that might be. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) have sympathized, even empathized. But as Larry has pointed out often - a wink is as good as a nod to a blind horse - and the horse in this case is our government.

Is it up to the CDA or the CNIB to lobby on behalf of blind people with diabetes who deserve access to technology that will help them manage their own health?

In the States, they have the National Federation for the Blind. Albeit the NFB is a rather militant organization. But will take the proverbial bull by the horns and hit the bureaucrats where it counts. They have stood up for people who have faced tremendous challenges, and have in turn made a difference for many blind people.

After speaking to a representative of the Canadian Diabetes Association a couple of weeks ago, she tried to find out from Health Canada when such a meter might be approved, and she was told by Health Canada that under no uncertain terms no such information would ever be shared.

It was at her suggestion that Larry then called the office of our Member of Parliament. When he called that office, he was told, with apparent indifference and defensiveness, that he had to understand that "many corporate dollars were involved", and it was the responsibility of Health Canada to protect this information about when such medical equipment might become available.

So who is lobbying on our behalf? I submit to the panel that that's the $64,000 question here. Certainly it would take more than a couple of calls from the Little Guys, like us.

Canadians tend to go with the flow, sit back and wait for something to happen... one day. And another way of saying that is, "Suck it up blind man, maybe your sighted wife will help you."

So if anyone has any ideas out there, we'd love to hear from you. I think we need all the help we can get.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Watch Out - Beeping Blind Man!

I'm back now ... really! Taxes are done, the dog is healthy (touch wood), and we've wrestled with this diabetes thing until I'm just about sick of it. So instead of doing that, I'm back and attending to what I really like to do, writing this blog.

Okay... What's this? (sounds like the setup for a bad joke, but bear with me)

beeeeeeeep beep - beep beep - beep beep beep
beeeeeeeep beep beep beep beep beep bip beep beep beep beep beep
beeeeeeeep beep beep beep beep beep bip beep beep beep beep beep
beeeeeeeep beep beep beep beep beep bip beep beep beep beep beep

Okay, give up?... it's Larry's new beeping blood glucose meter.

Now did you count those beeps? That is 45 beeps to tell him that his BG number is '5.5' - perfect. If he happened to have an 8.9, that would be a total of 66 beeps! And it's loud too - no subtlety here!

But did you know that it's very difficult to find a meter that is accessible to blind people to allow them to test their blood all by themselves? They can in the States. They can get talking meters for nothing if they want. But not here. A talking meter would announce "5.5" in a somewhat mechanical voice. If Larry tested with his beeping meter in a parking lot, he could be confused for a truck backing up.

Now for most of us, if you smile nicely at the pharmacist - or just ask - you can get a meter for nothing with a purchase of test strips, which you need anyway. We have a museum of them spread throughout the house - under the bathroom sink, in the china buffet, in bags, and in my purse (I've had diabetes for a long time!) Larry got the beeping meter for free - thank goodness he can count! So it's better than nothing I suppose.

Now you are probably wondering, why not order a talking meter from the States? Well, that is a fine idea. But our good watchdog, Health Canada, is busy protecting us from the evil talking meters that they sell in the States! Sure, we could order one from the U.S., but the strips are not approved for use here, and therefore not covered by our insurance. So we could get one, but it would be pretty silent without the strips, telling Larry in a forlorn mechanical voice, "Insert Strip now".

And if you care enough for the beeping translation, see below...

beeeeeeeep (meter on) (countdown) beep (1) beep beep (2) beep beep beep (3)
beep (meter and strip ready for blood)
beep (enough blood)
beeeeeeeep (long beep = 0) beep beep beep beep beep (5 beeps = 5) bip (decimal) beep beep beep beep beep (5 beeps =5)
(then it repeats results 2 times)
beeeeeeeep beep beep beep beep beep bip beep beep beep beep beep
beeeeeeeep beep beep beep beep beep bip beep beep beep beep beep

So that's what we did with our Tuesday evening. I was going to post, but instead went through our 200 page meter manual.

I wonder if the police would be called if he ever decides to test if he's in a restaurant or at the airport.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens