Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When The Rock Starts Feeling Rocky

Every now and again, Rocky, our Manx kitty, shows us that there is one way in which cats parallel people. Occasionally, humans require a chance to recharge the old battery. That’s what vacation time is for. But if vacation time doesn’t roll around in time, well, now and again one requires what those of the polictically correct persuasion term “mental health days”.

George Carlin could have had a field day with such an expression and, if I put my mind to it, so could I. This faithful scribe is not politically correct, as I see a world of difference between considering people’s feelings as opposed to the silliness of political correctness. But, like the puppy who chews his leash and wanders away, I’m straying from my subject.

We were talking about cats... specifically our boy Rocky. For the Rock, his need for an occasional day of solitary cathood, fits the term “mental health day” perfectly.

As one of us might have mentioned in this space, Jamie drives for over an hour to Toronto every day, while I stay home, working my own job and caring for the fur people. Part of caring for the kitties involves keeping them confined during the day so that they won’t sneak out when I let the dogs into the backyard. This could easily happen because the cats know that I’m blind and can skillfully and gleefully sneak past me without jingling the bells on their collars. It’s a real talent and they have cultivated it to silent perfection.

At any rate, normally we keep the cats together, but occasionally as the time nears to head for the kitty playroom, Rocky begins to wail like a toddler who has not seen a nap in far too long. His cry proclaims in full voiced complaint that if we leave him in the same room with his “brother”, he will just DIE! Brother Petey will tease him. Brother Petey will pounce on him! Brother Petey will TOUCH him! Horror of all time horrible horrors! “Please,” he begs, “anywhere but the kitty playroom! Just anywhere!”

On those days, Rocky becomes our Basement Hermit. He talks to no one. Some days he even hides among the this and that which collects down there. On those days, he is his own cat living in his own subterranean world where no one TOUCHES him.

After a day or two, maybe three and on one occasion, Day 5, he is happy to return to spending his days with his brother in the kitty playroom. Rocky truly does love his kitty brother... most of the time.

By the way, we are now experiencing Rocky’s third consecutive mental health day. Maybe tonight I can ask him how he’s feeling and he won’t reply by biting my big toe.
Contributed by Larry Naessens

Monday, June 23, 2008

Whose Handicap Is It Anyway?

When asked if he is visually impaired, Larry will say he's blind. After all, what does visually impaired mean? Does it mean he can see? Kinda see? See a little bit? No... it means he's blind. All the way kind of blind.

George Carlin was a master of observation and of language. He had observed that somewhere along the line, our language has been changed. But who's changed it? The media? Government? The public a.k.a. all of us? Carlin has a few words to say on words.

In today's post, as tribute to George Carlin, let it be said that George Carlin isn't late, and he hasn't passed away. There are no euphemisms here. George is dead, and we're going to miss him. The world is going to be a little more blind without him.

George Carlin, May 12, 1937 - June 22, 2008

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Good Rabbit Lesson

They're just so good they're bad. I mean really bad. But I think one just has to love the Moldy Peaches. Now this song is perfect for a sing along - forget my recent post criticizing sing-alongs and finding the new Maria. Maria just makes you feel bad because normal people can't hit those insanely high notes.

Now, the Moldy Peaches just makes you feel like you can really sing. And you've also got to appreciate the youthful honesty in Kimya Dawson's lyrics. Now follow that dancing ball, and sing along. I've even provided the lyrics below. Sing out loud (really, you will sound good!):

Anyone Else But You

You're a part time lover and a full time friend
The monkey on your back is the latest trend
I don't see what anyone can see,
in anyone else
But you

I kiss you on the brain in the shadow of a train
I kiss you all starry eyed, my body's swinging from side to side
I don't see what anyone can see,
in anyone else
But you

Here is the church and here is the steeple
We sure are cute for two ugly people
I don't see what anyone can see,
in anyone else
But you

The pebbles forgive me, the trees forgive me
So why can't, you forgive me?
I don't see what anyone can see,
in anyone else
But you

I will find my nitch in your car
With my MP3 DVD rumple-packed guitar
I don't see what anyone can see,
in anyone else
But you

Du dudu du dudu du dudu-du
Du dudu du
dudu du dudu-du
Du dudu du dudu du dudu-du du

Up up down down left right left right B A start
Just because we use cheats doesn't mean we're not
I don't see what anyone can see,
in anyone else
But you

You are always trying to keep it real
I'm in love with how you feel
I don't see what anyone can see,
in anyone else
But you

We both have shiny happy fits of rage
You want more fans, I want more stage
I don't see what anyone can see,
in anyone else
But you

Don Quixote was a steel driving man
My name is Adam I'm your biggest fan
I don't see what anyone can see,
in anyone else
But you

Squinched up your face and did a dance
You shook a little turd out of the bottom of
your pants
I don't see what anyone can see,
in anyone else
But you

Du dudu du dudu du dudu-du
Du dudu du dudu du dudu-du
Du dudu du
dudu du dudu-du du
But you
Just as unpolished as their sound is their look. I can safely say that this little indie band hasn't 'gone Hollywood'. Unfortunately the band isn't together anymore, but Kimya Dawson is still doing her thing, and doing it in her own style. One can only appreciate the charming youth and unabashed security in the Moldy Peaches though. Kinda reminds me of Bob Dylan in that way. We all should be so secure.

And not everyone will get up on stage dressed up as a bunny and sing off key. Gotta love anybody who is brave enough to do so.

Maybe there's a life lesson in there ... someplace.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Deconstructing Our Furball Personalities

I remember a comment that a friend of mine offered years and years ago, in fact so long ago that I remember the observation with greater clarity than I recall the friend. As the years fly by, it’s often like that with high school friends. Anyhow, she once observed, “Dogs are people too.”

A simple thought I guess, and at the time the kids we hung with had a good laugh at her expense. I neither laughed nor nominated the bit of philosophy as the insight of the year. I just filed it away as something worth keeping. OK, dogs aren’t really people in the strictest sense, but they mirror their owner’s personality with uncanny frequency. Haven’t you seen it yourself? Friendly person owns friendly dog. Snappy yappy person teaches their dog the same tricks by example.

There are exceptions, of course, and our current furballs are among them. In these days of pet rescue, we see many dogs who are at least in part a personality product of the abuse and neglect heaped upon them before they find their forever home. Both Penny and Keeta wear scars and I don’t mean physical ones. Still, as we work with them I see subtle signs that our girls do mold themselves to us, fitting us into their own daily rituals, anticipating our wishes as we work and play with them.

Of course I wouldn’t share my thoughts on that subject with Keeta. My border collie/lab guide dog believes herself to be her own invention. Further, she sees herself as the molder of her humans and she all but says, “Let me show you how it’s done.”

For instance, yesterday at the grocery store, a cart was in our way and Keeta slowed in her usual fashion, preparing to show me the cart. This is a part of the guiding process which must not be rushed. But in my effort to get around the other person without delaying them, I indicated to Keeta that I already understood the situation by commanding her to go around the cart before actually stopping to touch it.

“Wrong, wrong, wrong!” said guide dog Keeta. I could feel the rebuke in her stance.... in the way that her muscles tensed in disapproval. So, in that way, Keeta might be more intense than her handler. Still, she is very friendly and outgoing, just like me, if I might sound my own horn for just a second.

And Penny? Well since Jamie works away from home and my job keeps me tied to this computer for the most part, I’m also Penny’s handler during the day. Jamie has mentioned that our Penny came to us with a big distrust of people who she didn’t know. Her initial response has been to growl when she sees a stranger. That has held true whether said stranger happened to be spotted through the living room window or from the other side of the backyard fence.

In an effort to decrease the growlies, we’ve been calling her to us and making her sit, whenever we hear that audible sign of her fear. These days, she’s growling so much less that even the neighbours are noticing. And when she does let a rumble slip out, leading us to call her name, she now trots over and sits, even before being told. The best news of all is that Penny’s tail now wags much more than it used to wag. A sign that she is taking on more of her peoples’ demeanor.

Cats on the other hand are another story. When Rocky joined our family he was my first cat ever. I was determined that he would learn to behave according to my dictates. Yes indeed, he would come when called and learn to follow simple commands.

OK, though a really good idea, it didn’t quite work out that way. As Jamie has mentioned here, Rocky comes to me about half a dozen times a day, demanding that I follow him to his food bowl and “show” him that there is food in it. Do I tell him to go get his own food and quit bothering me? Yeah, I really ought to do that. Instead I have to pick him up and set him in front of the bowl. Well, maybe I don’t have to, but it’s really the only time he will let me touch him, so I play along.

Rocky is himself and my impression is that who he is has nothing to do with us. But, if he encounters someone who shows interest in striking up a conversation, Rocky is always willing to have a good cat to human talk. If we make a sound similar to any that he makes, he’ll usually answer. We don’t know what we’re saying and for all I know he could be suggesting that we go play in traffic, but he does converse.

And Petey? For the most part, he is the picture of innocence, the forever little boy. He can make a game out of just about anything and finds cardboard boxes to be sources of endless delight. He trusts most everyone once he gets to know them and would never turn down a good scritch. Both of our aquariums are like interactive TV to him, while Rocky just doesn’t get the fishy attraction. In the Rock’s world, fish are to eat, not to watch.

While we’re talking cats, Rocky would like to point out that Petey is no angel, as he does enjoy running up to the big cat, giving him a poke and then running away, inviting a game of chase. This, as Rocky defines it, is touching and is therefore forbidden. But Petey doesn’t really have a handle on the concept of something being forbidden. That’s OK though because Penny will happily deliver consequences when Petey positions himself on the wrong side of the law.

Dogs and cats... if dogs are people too, then it must also be said that cats are cats. Make no mistake about it. Aside from that, all I really know for sure is that my world is a far better place with dogs and cats in it.

Contributed by Larry Naessens

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dad's Lessons About Life & Other Cool Things

Of the many many things my Dad taught me, he taught me to appreciate things that are mysteries in life. He taught me that life isn't fair (right Dad?). But he also taught me that it does offer mysteries, paradoxes, ironies and conundrums. That's pretty cool.

Dad specifically requested that he didn't need anything for Father's Day, but what I do know is that he will appreciate this simple auditory illusion. It's called a Shepard tone.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Saturday, June 14, 2008

CBC Idol?

Canadian TV is different. In fact, all of Canadian broadcasting, TV or radio is different. But let's consider how different our beloved CBC really is. (Please note that my tongue is so firmly implanted in my cheek).

Before we get to the really strange, to be fair, CBC has come up with a few bona fide gems, both recent and in the past. Most recently we have Little Mosque on the Prairie, which has now been picked up in 86 countries. There's Corner Gas, which I'm not sure of the international appeal, however, it does speak to the quirkiness of small town Canada, and has a certain regional appeal. Canada is filled with quirky characters, exemplified in series such as these. Even in the far distant past, The Beachcombers was a hit south of the border.

But this weekend, CBC is launching a new series - not a 'one off' show, but a series - called How Do you Solve a Problem Like Maria. Sound familiar? If you've passed by CBC flipping through the channels, you can't have helped but have seen the promos which fill your screen. If you don't have CBC, if you are from somewhere else, consider an exerpt from the featured article in this week's TV guide in the Toronto Star, CBC is alive with sound of Marias (seriously):
It involves hopefuls from across the country vying for the chance to take on the role made famous by Andrews - nun-turned-governess-turned-von Trapp family matriarch Maria. One person chosen by the audience will be cast in a revival of The Sound of Music at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre in October.

The firt two taped episodes chronicle the weeding out process, as some 1,000 hopefuls from across Canada are trimmed to 50 contestants and then 20 finalists who are taken to London to meet [Andrew] Lloyd Webber.

The rest of the series airs live each week, with the contestants auditioning for the whole country in a series of tests to determine their singing, dancing and acting abilites.

Each week, the audience votes to eliminate contestants until just one remains.

Enough already! Does the format seem familiar? But there's one important difference - do you think they've got a handle on the audience? I submit it might be a few people out there who love the musical - the movie - but I just can't see it translating well to today's iPod generation. I submit the average age of audience will be of the older set. Can you see Grandma texting in her vote? Even picking up the phone to have the privilege of paying 50 cents to vote? Hmm.

This is not the first time that Canadian shows have been modelled after shows popular in the U.S. Long before current affairs programs or all-news channels like CNN or CBC Newsworld, a little show called Front Page Challenge provided Canadians with a view on the newsmakers of the day - those they read about in their morning papers. Front Page Challenge attracted top journalists of the day, who hosted it. And it's day was long - it aired for 38 years after all!). Guests included figures as diverse as Indira Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gordie Howe, Tony Bennett, Errol Flynn, and Mary Pickford. Walter Cronkite even announced his new job as CBS anchor on the program. Perhaps shamelessly modelled on a popular U.S. format at the time, but yet quintessentially Canadian.

But back to Maria, once again, Canadians, or shall I say the CBC, has put its own unique spin on it. Just when you think it can't get any weirder, it does. As a promotional piece, the CBC presented a screening of the movie. You gotta appreciate the CBC-ness of this. This is CBC re-creating the Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon, Canadian style :

For one night only, CBC Television is presenting a free sing-a-long screening of The Sound of Music in Toronto to celebrate the launch of its new series How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Thousands of girls auditioned in open calls across the country, vying for the lead role of Maria von Trapp to be cast in the new stage production of The Sound of Music in Toronto, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian and David Mirvish. The series debuts Sunday, June 15.

The fun-filled and interactive event takes place June 10 at the Royal Cinema on College Street, and begins with a vocal warm-up led by CBC’s Gavin Crawford along with specials guests the von Trapp children: Justin, Amanda, Melanie and Sofia—the great grandchildren of Captain von Trapp. They will distribute props to the audience to be used at strategic points throughout the musical, which is complete with subtitles so that everyone can sing along!

And no interactive sing-a-long would be complete without a costume competition. CBC invites the audience to come dressed as an ode to their favourite Sound of Music character, object or song. Previous entries have included:
  • Nuns of both genders
  • Girls (and boys) in white dresses with blue satin sashes
  • A lonely Goatherd
  • A man in a gold lycra catsuit (Ray, a Drop of Golden Sun!)
Creativity is a must and the Maria candidates from How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? will be on hand to judge the best costumes. In addition, celebrity voice coach Elaine Overholt- panelist from the series will pick out the best vocalists during the sing-a-long. One lucky winner in the audience will be chosen by raffle for the chance to win a trip for two to Salzburg, Austria and experience the Sound of Music tour courtesy of the Austrian National Tourist Office and the Salzburg Tourist Board. For those who can't attend the Sing-a-Long or missed the auditions, CBC invites you to sing a few bars from your favourite Maria tune and upload it to Show Canada the Maria in you beginning June 9!
Oh Boy! Are you excited? Aren't you sad that you missed this? Anyone remember 'follow the dancing ball'?

And just in case you think I made this up, I couldn't even if I tried. Read about it here.

So yes, Canada's media will often imitate U.S. TV, but never fails to put its unique spin on it. And don't forget everyone, let's get pumped and tune into CBC on Sunday to watch our newest series, we can call our very own.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Good Ol' Hockey Game

So the buzz in Canada is that CBC is on the lookout for a new theme for Hockey Night in Canada. Apparently the theme that they've been using... for like ... FOREVER!!! ... isn't good enough for them anymore. Apparently CBC resents, or can't afford to pay the $100 royalty fee per play.

I would like to submit this song as the new theme ... and even better (for the CBC), I'm betting it's part of the public domain (aka royalty free) too.

The Hockey Song, by Stompin' Tom Connors, a bona fide Canadian icon... for like... FOREVER!!!

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thoughts of Radio Nation from a Radio Guy

There’s a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one, and they’re all made out of ticky-tacky, and they all look just the same. ~~From "Little Boxes", a poem by Malvina Reynolds and evolved into a song of the same name by Pete Seger
Mind if I jump right in with a question? It might seem a bit random at first, but it gets there and it actually morphs into another related questions. Hey, maybe not so random after all.

The first question is, does anyone care about radio these days?

And the follow up? Is what we hear all made out of ticky-tacky and does it all sound trust the same?

A fair pair of queries and in large part, the answer to that last one at least is yes. Or so says me myself and I. Whether you live on the Canadian side of the border or the American side, a majority of radio stations are owned by a select group of major players. That, from where I sit stands behind the reason why sameness abounds in radio these days. Dull, dull, dull! It’s about as inspired as a reheated TV dinner.

Still, I’m not going to write a column telling you how great radio was back in the day. I’m not going to report on how I used to walk 20 miles up hill to and from the record store, transistor in hand. Ok, maybe one day I will, but not today.

No kidding though, before you reach for your iPod again, can I offer a reason to give radio one more chance? Two reasons actually. One is called XM, the other Sirius.

Last Christmas, Jamie surprised me with an XM radio. I plugged it into my stereo receiver and I haven’t looked back since. With XM, I can listen to any kind of music that fits my fancy. Or I can channel surf, sampling a bit of this, a bit of that and, if the mood strikes, a bit of everything. I can explore any format I like without having to download and pay for a single track. Sure I pay a subscription fee, but the way I see it, I’m just paying for the privilege of not hearing commercials and for me, that is well worth the price of admission.

Jamie seems to thinks so too. Just last night she mentioned that she would like an xm radio for the car to help out with the long commute.

Yes, we are now members of the XM nation. But Sirius offers their own fine satellite choice. Seriously.

The best news is that you can treat yourself to a free online try out of both services, at either of their websites, or Take them for a virtual test drive. Kick the virtual tires and see what you virtually think.

I think that both are worth a listen. Why not see if either one fits your lifestyle? Radio... it isn’t dead yet, but it is evolving.

Contributed by Larry Naessens

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Messing Up A Perfectly Good Mind

At work, for the last couple of weeks, we've been participating on and off with some team exercises, a morale/teamwork booster of sorts. So in honour of this teamwork psychology, I thought I'd share this gem with you - and just think as you watch, what would you do if you were on this elevator?

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My First Furball

Wow, what an intro! After reading Jamie’s excellent buildup to my official entry into the furball field, I spent a few minutes thinking about who in the world I am and what I might have to offer here. A few minutes is pretty much all I’ve allotted for that part of the project. Time to get on with getting on with it, don’t you think?

So, during that few minutes of reflection, what did I come up with? Nothing profound, that’s for sure.

I guess you could say that I know a little bit about this and that. Now and again, when this or that pushes my interest button, I look into learning some more about whatever it is. That pretty much defines me as the work in progress that I suppose I will always be. I do have an old university degree in “broadcasting and the cinematic arts”. Or I guess you’d have to say that I used to have one. The diploma got ruined years back in a storage shed flood along with high school year books and a bunch of other memories that I’ve either virtually cataloged somewhere or virtually forgotten.

But let’s wander along the path a bit further. Since leaving the broadcast industry, way back when radio stations were still housed in caves forged from rock, everything I’ve put my hand to has been pretty much self-taught.

As Jamie mentioned, I’ve written a bit and now here I am writing a bit more. I’ve also learned how to restore audio from old recordings and launched a media transfer business based on that knowledge. Then we have the bits and pieces of experience that I’ve collected as a true gift from a lifetime of living with dogs. For me, the house isn’t quite complete until there is at least one canine companion around the place. Personally I prefer the company of two, and would happily explore living with three, to compliment our pair of cats, but that’s just my own personal and perhaps excessive preference.

These days I work with an exceptionally brilliant guide dog who I helped train, but I didn’t start out with a pup who stood proudly on the top rung of the intelligence ladder.

Jingles moved into my kidhood home when I was 7. On Christmas morning my sister and I awoke to hear her yapping and yowling puppy protest over being confined in a large cardboard box. “We got a dog!” I shouted before hurling the covers aside and racing downstairs to meet my new friend. Thus began eleven inseparable years spent with my very first dog, Jingles the cocker spaniel.

It wasn’t long after moving into our house that Jingles set about teaching us who she was and how she looked at life. As winter gave way to spring, she took to jumping up on the screen door for a peek at the outside world. “Bark bark,” she would comment, before cocking her head in a listening pose. “Bark bark bark!” More listening, then a growl, high pitched and really more comical than fierce. A renewed volley of frenzied barks invariably arrived on the tail of what passed for her ferocious roar, accompanied by a kind of doggy dance. My folks hated this aspect of the performance as it was punctuated by claws digging into the screen while the din grew deafening.

It was my Dad who finally figured out what all the shouting was about. Jingles, our new puppy for whom we had such high hopes, was barking at her own echo. When her shrill voice bounced off the house across the street, Jingles seemed certain that an invisible dog was challenging her, calling her out as it were. So it seemed only reasonable to answer the challenge. That is precisely what Jingles did... again and again and again. We figured that when puppyhood gave way to Jingles the grown up dog, she would leave her ear splitting habit behind, but she never did.
My point here is that if you have a dog, cat, ferret, or whatever else goes through life with you as your own special furball, feathered friend or whatever else, intelligence is not a required ingredient for love. Jingles the cocker spaniel proved it.

I’ll never forget the hot summer night nearly eleven years following that super special Christmas morning when Jingles was the star of a seven year old kid’s Christmas dream come true. Now the kid was eighteen. It was one of those nights when heat pressed down on the world, promising rain but never quite delivering.

I couldn’t sleep for contemplating the next day when I would begin training with my first guide dog. Excitement held sleep at bay, but sadness left its own mark. Jingles, by then elderly and in failing health hated other dogs in all shapes and sizes. I knew this for the fact that it was. Jingles was my dog, for eleven years, my only dog. But I was a blind kid who needed to be able to find my way around a large university campus. I knew that a white cane was a fine option for many, but I also knew that the cane and I would never get along all that well.

The hot summer night droned on and sleep was still a far away non-visitor. I knew why. But as I lay there, listening to train whistles sound their call, followed by the rhythmic rumble of wheels that rolled around a distant corner of the night, I hadn’t a clue as to how to square things with my conscience and more importantly with a dog who had given all she had to a kid who sometimes took her for granted.

Finally, I crept out of bed and slipped down to the kitchen where Jingles slept. That night I had a long talk with my long time companion. I explained to her why I needed to start building a life with a new dog and why it just couldn’t wait until she moved beyond a life that was, for her, already clouded with too much pain.

I don’t know how much of that night was spent in talking with my friend and I’ve long since forgotten exactly what I said, but one image is clear - her cocker spaniel head with the ears that probably heard less than half of what was said to her remained raised for the entire conversation. To this day, I believe she understood every word. To this day, I still smile when I think of Jingles, my very first furball.

Contributed by Larry Naessens

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sharing the Stories

Everything that doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. And later on you can use it in some story. ~~Tapani Bagge

I would like to welcome our newest feature writer on staff. Okay, maybe staff is understating it a bit. But I would like to welcome Larry who has kindly offered to help me out, and keep this Furball place busy with posts. Larry has been my mentor and my critic. He has been published. He's my number one fan and is now my partner in more than one way. Best of all, he's okay with the fact that the pay around here is just plain lousy.

Larry will provide a new and sometimes quirky perspective to this Furball space. He's our resident dog whisperer and trainer. He patiently shows Rocky his food bowl for the 1,545,222nd time, and offers a lap to Petey whenever he wants it. He always looks out for the best interests of our fish (his last words to me as I rush out the door - did I remember to close the fish lid. He knows how much Petey loves it when I forget to close the lid after feeding time). You'll also find out that he has a lot to share about music, and can often 'name that tune' on the 2nd note.

I know that sometimes I post infrequently, and cause my loyal fans to wonder if and when Furballs will come back. But sometimes life just gets in the way. So I hope you enjoy what Larry has to share, because he's got plenty to say, and he's pretty good. Above all, I hope you will tune in to enjoy both of our views on our Furball world.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Monday, June 2, 2008

Numb what?!

I can only imagine what is going on in this kids head. I'm amazed he could keep it together as well as he does.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What's Your Type

Personally, I can do without Wilfred and his constant badgering about Quaker oats. Enough about the oats alreay! Larry finds this particularly funny, and I had to send the link directly to him (I guess so he can play it anytime he needs a pick-me-up). But whether you like Wilfred or not, you gotta love this one:

Diabetes is in the news - a lot. Type 2 is the new "in" disease. Our doctors and the media are telling us that we have sedentary lifestyles, get fat, we are at risk of getting this disease. In the U.S. 8% of the population has Type 2, and many more are undiagnosed.

Type 2 is a genetic-related disease, generally speaking, often brought on by choice of lifestyle. Only 10% of those diagnosed with the disease are Type 1, otherwise known as insulin dependent, or juvenile diabetes (I swear, I am not juvenile!)

I've noticed that the media has been offering many poorly researched articles and ads by companies wanting to sell the latest weight loss program - and the implication (and sometimes in part stated outwardly), that is Type 2 happens to fat and lazy people. Just lose the weight, exercise a bit, and you'll be fine. Commercially, this phenomenon is a boon to the weight loss industry. Lose weight, you can look great, and be all better! Isn't life just so simple?

The media rarely talks about Type 1, except in hushed tones as it talks about poor Timmy who's only treatment is to take insulin. If Timmy says he has Type 1, adults give Timmy a new respect, because after all, poor Timmy has to take NEEDLES!! (actually many T1s, including kids, use insulin pumps - needles are so 'old school'). But the implication is that, if you have T1, you have a "real" disease.

Now if you have been diagnosed as having T2, the implication is that you must be fat and lazy. The fact is, we are all a product of the diseases we have, and we need to deal with the disease as it affects us.

But let's take a right turn for a moment, and talk about cancer (I'll get back to diabetes in a moment, just bear with me). Now just about everyone knows someone in their family who has cancer. But is there a difference, for example, if you got cancer due to exposure to asbestos or whether you got it because it's in your family? It's still cancer. Causes, treatments, impacts on quality of life and survivalrates may vary, but it is still cancer, and a life threatening disease.

Both T1/T2 diabetes is serious, regardless of why someone has it. It is up to our doctors to determine the appropriate course of action and treatment based on our own medical conditions and set of circumstances, and it is up to the person with the disease to keep on top of things.

If you, a friend, or someone in your family has, or is diagnosed with diabetes, they are part of a growing crowd of people with this disease. But just because there's a big crowd of people, don't assume that all people with diabetes are the same, after all, this disease is so much more than just saying no to the piece of cake.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens