Saturday, December 23, 2006

The un Christmas

It doesn't feel much like Christmas around here, although there is a lot of snow.

The Wife is a bit depressed. I guess we are still getting used to it. When we found out we we having twins, I was shocked and fearful that we couldn't handle two at once. I think she got used to it sooner than I and started to think and look forward to the unique relationship they would have with each other. There will be an even more unique relationship now, just not the one we expected.

It's two days before Christmas, and we still have not put up the tree. Neither of us are big on the outward displays about Christmas (trees, lights, etc) and with both of us at home, every day seems to blur into the next. Since neither of us have to go to work, days and time do not matter.

The only thing we need time for is to figure out what to watch on TV.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Help for children with Disabilities

Kate at SDA put me onto this article at the Globe and Mail about a plan to allow parent to put up to $200,000 aside for their severely disabled children.

Although we have been in this position for 2 weeks, I have already considered the future for our daughter. The wife and I are both in our mid 30's, so it is likely that our daughter will live a long time beyond us. I would hate to put our other children under a financial burden after we are gone.

I hope this measure is implemented as soon as possible.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Significant is Significant

We had another meeting with Jocelyn's doctor today. Last week, he had the report which noted significant brain damage, but he had not seen the MRI or talked to the experts. I was hoping "significant" was not that significant.

It is. Jocelyn has almost no outer brain, that which controls higher functions. It seems the hope I was clinging to was unfounded.

In these cases, there is a high chance that she will develop seizures and babies in this situation have a 50-50 chance of making it through their first year.

As disturbing as that is, it is not the worst thing we may have to face. He brought up the subject of what measures we want to do to keep her alive, leading me to believe this is something we may have to face soon.

How can I make that kind of decision?

Parents are supposed to care for and protect their children. How can I not do everything possible to protect her? Yet, if her quality of life is so poor that she will never talk, eat, walk or even be aware of what is going on around her, is it really best for her to keep her alive artificially?

I do not want to have to face these decisions.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bittersweet Babies

One of the things parents take joy in is the development of their babies. Their first word, their first steps, their first smile.

Last week, Katherine started to communicate with us. She smiles and makes different noises as I look at her. She tries to repeat the sounds I make and laughs when I laugh at her.

However, even through all the wonderment I feel, there always exists a bit of sadness in the back of my mind. Will Jocelyn ever do these things? Will she ever smile at me? What will her life be like? And will I be able to deal with it?

That sounds a bit selfish to me, but my biggest worry is about the wife and I, and will we be able to handle this.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Day in the Life

Caring for children is difficult.

Both the wife an I are at home, and I still find it a draining experience. A guy I know has twins that are a few months older than ours, and his wife stays home alone with them. I do not know how she does it.

We usually get up around eight am. The girls sleep until about then. Katherine usually sleeps the whole night, from 11 pm, Jocelyn gets up usually once at about 3 or 4 am.

Overall, not much to complain about there. Ours are pretty good compared to other horror stories I have heard.

The problem comes during the day. I feel like I spend my whole life in the living room. There are days when I do not go outside. The wife and I look forward to running out of something, so someone has an excuse to go out.

I have become very familar with the TV schedule. There is nothing much on in the morning, so we leave it on CTV Newsnet until I cannot stand their lefty crap anymore. That is usually about noon, so I switch to CPAC and watch what is going on in the House. After that, I usually flip it around between Seinfeld, and Dr Phil or occasionally to the Food Network, as the wife likes their stuff. Before supper, the wife likes to watch Scrubs. Then it is into the evening schedule, where we just pick the best thing we can.

That is close to 15 hours of TV per day. It sickens me as well, but we are a bit stuck. As Katherine sleeps all night, we almost have to continuously feed her through the day. Jocelyn needs to be hooked up to her feeding machine every two hours, but she requires almost constant holding to keep her calm and relaxed. This means we just use the TV as something to look at while looking after them. The rest of the time is spent cooking meals, using the bathroom or having a shower (something I have yet to have today).

Needless to say, I am feeling fat, tired and generally down.

Hopefully it turns around a bit.

An Interesting perspective on Gay Marriage

A great post at The Politic regarding gay marriage.

Shane has some interesting points.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

MRI Results

On Monday, we received the MRI results. They were not good.

Sometime during the pregnancy, Jocelyn's brain was denied blood, not allowing it to develop normally. She has areas in her brain where there is no brain matter, all of them in the outer brain, where all the higher brain functions are. I do not know how big these areas are, but they are described in the report as "significant".

We have to be prepared for the fact that she may never be able to walk, speak or acknowledge us. We have to be prepared for the fact that she may need to be institutionalized for most of her life.

Next Monday we will get a look at the actual MRI to see how big these spaces are and come to some sort of plan with how to proceed next.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

3 Month MRI

On Thursday, Jocelyn had an MRI.

I spent most of the day in the hospital. We had the first appointment in the morning and with babies under 3 months, they like to keep you after to insure there are no reactions to the anesthesia.

The MRI went well. She was done by eight am and woke up right after.

Tomorrow morning, we see the doc for the results.

We may get some idea what is wrong, or not. I am not sure what result I want. The truth is, I am hoping that we are not going to find anything wrong. It's a bit confusing. We know something is wrong. Her last MRI was abnormal, but they cannot tell how that abnormality will effect her or even if it will affect her (at least that's what they tell me). The brain is still a mystery, so I am hoping that her brain will compensate for whatever was the problem and she will develop normally. Finding something means my hope might be dashed. I think the wife is the opposite. She wants to have a name put to it so we can start doing something about it.

My bet is that tomorrow they will say they still see something wrong, but will have no idea what it means to her. This is probably the best result for me, as I can still hope but it is the worst result for the wife, as it leaves many questions.

Right now, it is obvious Jocelyn is different from her sister and behind in development. Last week, her sister started to smile and now responds to me making faces and noises at her. However, this does not mean Jocelyn has development problems, as she was in the hospital for a month. Being sick is not conducive to normal development and she can be expected to be a month behind her sister. She has given us some positive signs. She has been gaining weight her, cries are getting louder and she is becoming more interested in things going on around her. However, compare her to her sister, and you would not think they are the same age.

So, you can see why I still cling to hope. She is obviously not caught up yet, but she is showing signs of developing. The question is, is it enough and will she eventually catch up.

Tomorrow we will find out. Or not.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Family Update

I have lately been a bit negligent in posting.

Things have settled down a bit lately, and I am now able to devote a bit more time to blogging. Over the next few weeks I will pick up my posting and update everyone on how we are doing.

So far, the babies are doing well. Both are at home. Katherine is fine and doing all the things a baby should and is now over 9 pounds. Jocelyn is just over 7 pounds and is being fed through an NG tube (tube in her nose). Other than that, she is not on any drugs. We have appointments with her doctor every week, just to monitor.

She had a bit of a problem last month in that she was not gaining weight. It was my fault. There are two main things going on with her. Babies need to gain weight, but we also want to get her off her feeding tube. She is on the tube because she is unable to get enough food to gain weight through a bottle, as she has not had the practice. So we were trying to do both and focusing on getting her off the tube. Over 4 days in October, we fed her bottle only, and made great strides. She was up to almost a 60 ml each feeding. Unfortunately, she was not able to keep this up the number of times necessary to gain weight and she lost ½ a pound in a week. At this point we had two babies, genetically the same but one at 6 pounds and one at 9 pounds. The hospital gave us a machine to regulate the formula. I swore I would never use this machine, as I saw it as a symbol of our failure to get her off the tube. It was at this point that I had to reevaluate and give up trying to do two things at once. We barely try to feed her with the bottle and the machine has ensured that she gets what she needs and she is up over seven pounds now.

We still do not know what, if anything, is wrong with her. We have an MRI at the end of the month and that may tell us something, or it may not. She has been calming down, has been less upset and she is often alert, looking around and responding to noises and objects. However, her head size is near the bottom of the percentile, so that is not good.

I think the waiting to know is the hardest.

Next post I will talk a bit about how this affects the parents.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Together At Last

Yesterday, Jocelyn came home.

We spent Thursday night in the hospital. They have a overnight room for families and we took the both and spent the night there. It is a sort of trial run, to help see if you can cope.

I am not much for big organizations telling me what I can and cannot do, especially with my own children, so I was tempted to tell them to stick it and just take her home. However, the wife seemed to want to follow the "rules" and I think it made her more comfortable to go through a trial run with medical help close by if necessary.

The whole system makes you consider what type of people they normally deal with. The first time I realised there were some very different people out there was during the first set of rounds, where I heard them talking about the wife in the thrid person and mentioning that "the mother" had no history of drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy.

The hospital staff was constantly tiptoeing around us, making it very obvious they were not trying to pressure us, to make sure we were confortable with dealing with both of them. Nice of them to be so understanding, but it gets a bit tiring being treated like a teenage single mom all the time.

However, we jumped through the hoops and they are our children now.

We are free to screw them up just like everyone else.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

So Close We Can Taste It

Yesterday, Jocelyn passed a car seat test and had her monitors removed. We have a meeting with the nutritionist in the morning.

We are now this close to bringing her home. I am hoping we can bring her home tomorrow. The wife expects a few more days, as she feels we need the time to start to get her on a schedule and she wants to spend at least a day at the hospital getting her used to our way of operating.

I don't thin they will wait that long and to be honest, I am starting to feel guilty about taking up a bedspace.

It is a great position to be in and I thought it would never come.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Good News

We had a bit of a breakthrough with Jocelyn yesterday.

She took 20 ml of formula through a bottle yesterday. This may not sound like much, but it is the first time she has been successfully fed like a baby since she was born. This is significant as it is the only thing keeping her in the hospital. We have been hoping and trying to get her to feed for the past week.

Since she was born, she has been getting fed through an IV or feeding tube. Babies have a natural instinct to suck, but she has not been required to use it for the last 4 weeks. We were unsure if she would be able to. She has been showing us positive signs all week, but this is most encouraging.

Assuming she continues to improve this week, she may be able to come home as soon as this weekend.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Babies Update

So far, everyone is doing better.

Mom still has some pain for the C section. It takes about 6 weeks to fully recover. You hear about women who prefer a C section, as it is more "convenient", more civilized and less painful. I do not see how anyone would choose a C section over natural childbirth. It is major surgery, one of the few that they have to cut you open for. I recommend avoiding it if possible.

Katherine is doing great. She is eating a lot, but she usually gives us 3-4 hours between feedings. We have to supplement her feeding with formula, as the wife is constantly pumping breast milk, as we try to get as much as possible to Jocelyn. I think the wife is starting to feel a bit like a cow.

Jocelyn is doing better. All drugs, IV's etc are out of her. She is still feeding through a tube and the plan is to wean her off of that. It must be done slowly, to ensure she still gains weight and can feed normally when we get her home. We hope to have her home in 1-2 weeks.

On the other aspect, we still do not know what is wrong. They are suggesting her brain development was not normal, based on an MRI. However, they cannot (or will not) speculate on what that means for her development. My understanding is that most of the time they cannot tell, and must monitor the child's development and base any predictions on that.

So, it seems unlikely that we will get any definitive answers. We will be taking her in for scans at regular intervals for probably the next 5 years, and maybe to special development training. Not much more to say on this subject. It could be nothing; she might be similar to her sister as she develops. Or not. And we may not know until it happens.

That said, she has undergone some tests that are grounds for hope. Her hearing and eyesight tests are normal. She was very alert the other day when I visited her and she seemed to look and respond to my face and voice. I also heard her cry to the first time, although it was a weak and half-assed attempt. Nothing like her sister's.

I want to thank all the readers of this blog for their positive comments and prayers. It means a lot to us that there are people thinking and praying for our daughter.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Climb Aboard Space Mountain

The last few days have been a bit of a roller coaster ride.

On Thursday, Jocelyn was transferred back to be with her sister and mom, and she appeared to be doing better. Unfortunately, during the night she had a number of seizures, requiring drugs to stop her from shaking and eventually necessitating her transfer back to the Royal Alex. This increases the risk that she may have some sort of brain damage.

Needless to say, I am a bit concerned. I am not sure what is going on long term, but I plan to discuss it with the docs. Her regular doc is not on this weekend, so I may have to wait until Tuesday to get some real answers.

On a more positive note, mom and Katherine should be coming home today. They are both doing really well and I should be happy about that. However, I cannot help but think of my other daughter, stuck in the hospital, attached to a bunch of tubes.

I am not very religious, but I have been praying.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Time to Buy a Shotgun

It's a Girls!

Jocelyn (4 pounds 13) and Katherine (5 pounds 3) were born yesterday at approximately 5:30 pm.

Mother and Katherine are doing fine. Unfortunately, Jocelyn had some respiratory distress, and had to be worked on. She is doing very well right now, but is breathing through a tube and has various lines and pipes going into her. Last night she was transferred to the Royal Alex, which can provide a better level of care. She seems to be doing well and, although not out of the woods yet, she is in great shape and provided things progress as expected, she might be able to come home within a week.

I am hoping she will show some improvement in the morning and we will have a better picture of what is going on.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ollie Ollie Oxen Free

Still no babies.

Last week the doc said she was surprised that the wife was still pregnant. This week she was even more surprised. The doc will be gone on holiday for a week, so (Murphy's Law) the babies should be born in the next week. However, she jinxed it by saying she would be really surprised if the wife was still pregnant by the time she got back.

This is what I have been reduced to: Superstition.

I don't believe in that crap, but logic dictates these babies should be born by now. We are starting 38 weeks and 37 is term for twins. Everyone we know has had twins early, usually before 37 weeks.

Nothing to worry about, as they are perfectly healthy. No problems and the wife is doing fine. Better than fine, in fact. She has had no problems, even the usual ones such as high blood pressure. The doc is in no hurry to get them out, as inducing increases the risk of a C section. If we induced and had to get a C, we would always be wondering, "If we had just waited 6 more hours, they might have come out themselves."

So, I guess we should just enjoy the last few days of couplehood. Last night we went to dinner and saw a movie, thinking it might be the last time for a number of years.

Nothing to do but wait. If they are still in at 40 weeks, then I will begin to worry.

One good thing, the old wives tale says that if they are late, they are boys. Good for me, as I fear dealing with identical twin teenage girls.

Superstition. See what I have been reduced to.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

T minus 10...9...8

I am thinking about live blogging the births.

OK, maybe not live blogging it. After all, this is Canada and with our second rate medical system, wireless internet linked up in all the operating rooms is not set up yet. However, I will jot down (that is so 20th century) the key events and post them up as soon as possible.

As for an update, she had another appointment with the doc on Wednesday. The doc was surprised she showed up, saying "I didn't expect you to still be pregnant." I guess that means we should expect them anytime. Here I am thinking we still have some time. Why is it that doctors cannot be direct. They think we know as much as them about the medical field. Just like when she told us they were identical. The comment about them "most likely" being identical was made as casually as you might ask someone to turn on a light. She may have known for a few weeks but it would be nice to get more than 3 seconds to come to terms with it before she moves on the the next thing.

Today's big job is setting up all the baby furniture. The room is still not finished, as we are waiting for an alphabet border to come in so I can put it up. However, based several factors, I think it is going to be this week. Comments by the doc (above), the fact that she is already slightly dialated, and her comments that the first one seems to have already dropped lower make me think it might be anytime. The breech one is moving a lot more than usual. The Wife thinks he/she is trying to get into position.

I am betting on Tuesday, but we will see what happens.

We still have not discussed names.

Friday, August 18, 2006

MCpl Arndt, RIP

I always find funerals difficult.

I went to the funeral of Master Corporal Arndt this week, in Edson, Alberta. It was held in the Legion in town and it was packed. We limited the military attendance, as we did not want to take up all the space and there will be a military memorial next week. I thought there would be about 400 people attending. The news put it at one thousand. I think they were right. The place was standing room only.

I am always of two minds at military funerals. On one hand, we all accept the risk when we join up that we may lose our life. Ray knew the risk and accepted it.

However, to sit there and hear how a person touched the lives of his friends and family, and to think that they will never feel the positive impact of that person makes me very sad. Death is difficult to accept, but especially so with someone who should have had so much time left.

I think one cannot really understand the sacrifice and pain on the family unless it happens to you.

Whether or not you agree with the sacrifice, I hope all Canadians can appreciate it.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

How do you solve a problem like Jehovah?

We are having a little problem.

Jehovah's Witnesses have been visiting our house. Every Saturday, between 10 and 11 am, they show up without fail.

We live in a secluded area. Our house in hidden by 300m of trees. Our house coud be blown up and you could not tell from the main road.

Due to our seclusion, my first instinct when I hear a car coming up the driveway is to meet whomever it is with a shotgun in hand. We haven't got a dog yet (not sure if I want to deal with twins and a dog at the same time), but once we do, I will feel a bit more comfortable.

Don't get me wrong, we live in a nice area and have never had a break in or heard of one in the area. However, on 2 occasions, a car has driven up to the house, turned around and left. Both times I was not fast enough to confront them, but only caught a glimpse as they left.

I am a nice guy, so I do not want to be rude to the Jehovahs. They are really nice people and are very earnest in their beliefs. However, I already have one religion I am not practicing, and if I felt a need for religion, I would become a more active Catholic and not convert.

I like to argue and explore new ideas, and I actually enjoy hearing their view of the world. However, I am afriad I am being a tease. If you engage these people, they will keep coming back. I do not want to lead them on, thinking I am serious about a religion I consider to be just this side of a cult.

Last week the wife and I hid from them. I dislike people coming to my home uninvited to sell me something. This week, they saw me watching tv, so I answered the door. A man should not be a prisoner in his own home.

I enjoy my weekend, I do not want each one interupted by someone trying to sell me something. We left the city to get more privacy.

The wife has some relatives that are Jehovahs, so we are pretty sure it is not for us.

The question is, how do we let them know that they are wasting their time without being rude?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

One View From the Front (part 2)

Part 1 is here

Day three was uneventful for C Coy. and we prepared to go back to our FOB. Which would have been good because I had come down with a cold… not what I needed in combat (umm, I mean state of armed conflict!) Unfortunately that was not to be. A British Company from 3 Para had been isolated and surrounded by Taliban in the Helmand Province in the Sangin District Center. They were running out of food and were down to boiling river water. They had tried to air drop supplies but they ended up landing in a Taliban stronghold (thank you air force). C Coy. was tasked to conduct an immediate emergency resupply with our LAVs. We headed off to what can only be described as the Wild West. The Company (B Coy) of the Paras that was holding the District Center had lost four soldiers there and was being attacked 3 to 5 times a day. We rolled in there after a long and painful road move across the desert. When we arrived in Sangin the locals began throwing rocks and anything they could at us, this was not a friendly place. We pushed into the District Center, and during the last few hundred meters we began receiving mortar fire. They never taught me on my LAV Crew Commander course how to command a vehicle with all the hatches closed using periscopes in an urban environment. I truly did it by sense of touch, meaning as we hit the wall to the left I would tell the driver to turn a little right!! We resupplied the Brits and unfortunately it turned dark and we couldn’t get out of there, so we had to spend the night. We were attacked with small arms RPGs and mortars three times that night, I still can’t believe that the Brits have spent over a month living there under those conditions. They are a proud unit and they were grateful but embarrassed that we had to come save the day. And as good Canadians we didn’t let them hear the end of being rescued by a bunch of colonials!!

We left Sangin again thinking we were headed home. We made it about 40km before we were called back to reinforce the District Center and help secure a helicopter landing site. As we sat there we received orders that we were now cut to the control of 3 Para for their upcoming operation north of Sangin. This was turning out to be the longest three day operation ever!!! Enroute we were engaged by an 82mm mortar from across a valley. I engaged them with our artillery, it felt a lot more like shooting in Shilo as they were 2.8km away as opposed to the 100m or less my previous engagements had been. We went round for round with them in what Rob, the Troop Commander firing the guns for us, called an indirect fire duel. In the end he said the score was Andrew 1 Taliban O and there is no worry of that mortar ever firing again. We rode all through the night (with my LAV on a flat tire) and arrived right as the Paras Air Assaulted onto the objective with Chinook helicopters. There were helicopters everywhere. It was a hot landing zone and they took intense fire until we arrived with LAVs, and the enemy ran away. It was a different operation as we were used to a lot more intimate support tanks to shoot the Paras in. It was impressive to watch them though, they are unbelievable soldiers.

We left the operation about 25 hours later (still3 going on no sleep) and thought that for sure we were now done this “three day op”. But as we were withdrawing to secure the landing zone for the Brits (under fire from 107mm rockets and 82mm mortars) we received Frag orders to conduct a sensitive sight exploitation where the Division had just dropped two 1000lbs bombs. Good old C Coy. leading the charge again!

We drove to the sight and saw nothing but women and children fleeing the town. I thought, “here we go again.” Luckily this time I found a good position for observation with my LAV and did not have to go in on the attack. The Company quickly came under attack from what was later estimated as 100+ fighters. For about 15 minutes we lost communications with the Company Commander and a whole Section of infantry as they were basically overrun. The Section had last been seen going into a ditch that was subsequently hit with a volley of about 15 RPGs; I thought we had lost them all. I had Brit Apaches check in and they did an absolutely brilliant job at repelling the enemy. The only problem was I couldn’t understand a word the pilot was saying because of his accent! Luckily I had the Brit Liaison Officer riding in the back of my LAV. I ended up using him (a Major) as a very highly paid interpreter to help me out. After about an hour long fight the Company broke contact (but lived up to the nickname the soldiers had given us, “Contact C”) and we leveled several compounds with artillery. Somehow we escaped without a scratch, truly amazing.

We were again ordered back to the Sangin District Center with 3 Para and spent the next few days fighting with the Paras. For four days I did not get a chance to take off my Frag vest, helmet or change my socks, etc. We were attacked 2-3 times a day, and always repelled them decisively. I also discovered during this period that exchanging rations with the Brits is a really bad idea. Not only were they stuck in this miserable place but their food was absolutely horrible!

After saying our good byes to our Brit comrades (the enemy learnt their lesson and finally stopped attacking the place), we again prepared to go back home. Alas, it was not to be again. We were ordered South to take back to towns that the Taliban had just taken. Luckily this time after 11 straight days in contact, C Coy. was the Battle Group reserve. We headed to the British Provincial Reconstruction team (PRT). We rolled into the town to the strangest arrival yet. This was coalition country. The locals (unlike Kandahar and even more so in Sangin) were excited and happy to see us. We had kids offering us candy and water instead of begging. There were no Burkhas. The women were in colorful gowns with their faces exposed. The town was booming with shops everywhere and industry flourishing. We went to the PRT and it didn’t even seem real. I took off my helmet, Flak vest and I had a shower and changed my clothes for the first time in two weeks. I ate a huge fresh meal (until my stomach hurt), and then went and sat on the edge of a water fountain in garden and watched a beach volleyball game between the Brits and Estonians. I laughed as I had supper and watched the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) which was reporting that we had taken back the towns, but H Hour was still 2 hours away, so much for the element of surprise. After what we had been through it was hard to believe this place was in the same country. I slept that night (still on the ground beside my LAV because they did not have enough rooms) better than I think I have before in my life. The next couple of days were quiet for us as they did not need to commit us as the reserve. On day 14 of our 3 day op we conducted the 10 hour road move back to KAF, literally limping back as our cars were so beat up (mine was in the best shape in the entire Company and we had a broken differential … again).

Things look like they will be quieter for us now, and I will be home soon. Sad news from the home front, our little Yorkie, Howitzer, was in an accident the other day and didn’t make it. It won’t be the same going home without him, he truly was one of our kids (furkids!). We had three great years with him though and my only regret is that I wasn’t there to comfort Julianne who has been through so much lately. But she has some great friends there who have looked after her. To those of you who have been with her through this and the events of the last few months, I am forever indebted to you.

There are more stories I could tell of these last two weeks but this email has become long enough as it is and if I did that I would have no war stories (I mean state of armed conflict stories) to tell you when I get home. I will end by saying that I have truly enjoyed this experience. Combat is the ultimate test of an officer, and on several occasions I did things that I didn’t know I was capable of. I am so proud of my crew and the entire Company Group, we soldiered hard and long and showed the enemy that messing with Canadians is a really bad idea. We accomplished something in the last two weeks that Canadian soldiers have not done since Korea. The Afghan Government, elected by the Afghans, requested our assistance and we were able to help. We were the equal, if not superior of our allies in everything we did. I hope that I gave you all an appreciation of what these young brave men and women are doing over here, and even if the media can’t find the time or effort to report what we are doing and the difference we are making, hopefully you can pass it on. I will see all of you real soon. I hope all is well with all of you, and please keep the emails coming, I read every one and enjoy hearing from you, even if I cannot respond individually.

Take Care

One View From the Front

The following is a email making the rounds in the military community. It was sent by a guy serving in Afstan. I have no reason to think it is not true. I do not know the person who sent it and I post it with the implied permission granted at the end of the email.

Update: I am now certain that this email is authentic.

I have split the email into 2 parts

Part 1


Hey everybody! First off I apologize for the length of this email, as it contains two weeks worth of Afghanistan fun. I am doing well and brutally honest I have enjoyed this last couple of weeks. Seven years of training culminating in 14 action packed days. At first I wasn’t going to write a lot of detail about what happened, because some people might find it upsetting. However, when I got back to Kandahar Air Field (KAF) and read the deplorable media coverage that the largest operation Canadians have been involved in since Korea, I really felt I had to write it all down, to give you all (and hopefully everyone you talk to back in Canada) an appreciation for what we are really doing here in this “state of armed conflict” (lawyers say we can’t use the word “war”, I don’t know what the difference is except for it being far more politically correct.)

We received word while down at our Forward Operating Base (FOB) that we were going to be part of a full out three day (HA HA) Battle Group operation. This was going to be the largest operation Canada had undertaken since the Korean War. When we arrived back in KAF for orders we found out that we were rolling for Pashmul in the Panjawai District of Kandahar province. That was hard for my crew to hear, as that was the same town where Nichola had died and where Bombadier Chris Gauthier (a signaler in the party before I arrived) had been injured in an ambush. Participating in this attack were A, B and C Company (Coy.) Groups, both troops of artillery from A Battery, an Engineer squadron, two Companies of Afghan National Army (plus all of their attached American Embedded Training Teams – ETT), as well as a huge lineup of American and British Fixed and Rotary wing aircraft. Additionally, we had elements of the 2/87 US Infantry and 3 Para from the UK conducting blocks to prevent the enemy from escaping. From an Artillery perspective beyond the two gun troops (each equipped with 2 x155mm Howitzers and 4 x 81mm mortars) we had three Forward Observation Officers (FOO) and their parties as well as the Battery Commander and his party going in on the attack.

On the night of the 7th around 2200 hrs local C Company Group (with yours truly attached as their FOO) rolled for Pashmul. As we arrived closer to the objective area we saw the women and children pouring out of the town… not a good sign. We pushed on and about 3 km from our intended Line of Departure to start the operation we were ambushed by Taliban fighters. At around 0030hrs I had my head out of the turret crew commanding my LAV with my night vision monocular on. Two RPG rounds thundered into the ground about 75m from my LAV. For about half a second I stared at them and thought, “huh, so that’s what an RPG looks like.” The sound of AK 7.62mm fire cracking all around the convoy snapped me back to reality and I quickly got down in the turret and we immediately began scanning for the enemy. They were on both sides of us adding to the “fog of war”. We eventually figured out where all of our friendlies were, and where to begin engaging. We let off about 20 rounds of Frangible 25mm from our cannon at guys about a 100m away before we got a major jam in our link ejection chute. We went to our 7.62 coax machine gun, and fired one round before it too jammed!! Boy was I pissed off. I went to jump up on the pintol mounted machine gun, but as I stuck my head out of the LAV I realized the bad guys were still shooting at us and that the Canadian Engineers were firing High Explosive Incendiary 25mm rounds from their cannon right over our front deck. I quickly popped back down realizing that was probably one of the stupider ideas I have ever had in my life J Eventually after much cursing and beating the crap out of the link ejection chute with any blunt instrument we could find in the turret, we were back in the game. The first Troops in Contact (TIC) lasted about two hours. The radio nets were busier than I had ever heard before and we realized that A and B Coys. as well as Reconnaissance Platoon had all been hit simultaneously, showing a degree of coordination not seen before in Afghanistan. The feeling amongst the Company was that was probably it, as the enemy usually just conducted hit and run attacks. Boy, were we wrong! We continued to roll towards our Line of Departure and not five minutes later as we rolled around a corner, I saw B Coy. on our left flank get hit with a volley of about 20 RPGs all bursting in the air over the LAVs. It was an unreal scene to describe. There was no doubt now that we were in a big fight.

We pushed into the town following the Company Commander behind the lead Platoon. This was not LAV friendly country. The entire area was covered in Grape fields, which due to the way they grow them are not passable to LAVs, and acres of Marijuana fields which due to irrigation caused the LAVs to get stuck. The streets were lined with mud compounds and mud walls just barely wide enough to get our cars through. After traveling about 300m our lead platoon came under attack from a grape drying hut in the middle of what can only be described as an urban built up area. The Company Commander then issued a quick set of frag orders and I was about to participate in my first ever Company attack. He signaled for me to dismount and follow him. It was an uncomfortable feeling dismounting from the turret, as the only way out is through the top of the turret. I was standing probably 15 feet high in the air with friendly and hostile rounds snapping and cracking in the air everywhere. Needless to say I got down quick. I went to the back of my LAV and banged on the door to signal we were dismounting. As the Master Bombardier opened the door he went pale as we were only 20m from where they had previously been ambushed and where Nich had died. Regardless, we soldiered on. We grabbed our radios and followed the Company Commander. We went into a compound that was actually the same one Howie Nelson had dropped a 1,000lb bomb on after the attack in May. We went up to a second story ledge on a mud wall, and the Company Commander pointed out a compound and said “can you hit that?” I lased the building and found out it was only 89m away. Back in Canada we never bring Artillery in much closer than a 1000m, so you can imagine what I was thinking. I sat down and did the math (those of you who know my mathematical skills are probably cringing right now!). I looked at him and said that in theory and mathematically we would be okay where we were, but I made him move one of the other Platoons back 150m. A funny story as I was doing the math, an American ETT Captain working with the ANA looked down at me and said “There are no ANA forward of us” I responded “Roger”, to which he said “good” fired three rounds and said “Got him”. I then realized that he had asked me a question and had not stated a fact (for some reason everyone seems to think that the FOO magically knows where all the friendlies are). Through all the gunfire I had missed the infliction in his voice. I looked at him and said, “Hey, I have no idea where your ANA are, you’re supposed to look after them!” Luckily it wasn’t a friendly he had shot at.

We started the Fire Mission with the first round landing about 350m from my position. The noise of Artillery whistling that close and exploding was almost deafening, the FOO course sure hadn’t prepared me for this! Master Bombardier and I debated the correction for a second and eventually agreed upon a Drop 200m, mostly because we needed to get rounds on that compound ASAP as we were taking heavy fire. The round came in and landed a bit left of the compound. We lased the impact and found out it was 105m from us. We gave a small correction and went into Fire For Effect with 50% Ground Burst and 50% Air Burst. The rounds came in 85m from us, right on the compound. Truly I did not appreciate the sheer frightening and awe-inspiring nature of proximity (the air burst rounds). I then had the worst moment of my military career as one of the Sections began shouting “Check Fire, Check Fire!” on the net, followed quickly by their Platoon Commander saying they had casualties and to prepare for a 9 Line (air medical evacuation request). It turned out the two events were unrelated but for a while I thought I had injured or even worse killed a Canadian. In actuality the Section that called Check Firing was actually the furthest of anyone in the Company from the shells and had panicked (which led to a lot of ribbing and jokes from their buddies afterwards who had all been closer). The 9 Line was for an ANA soldier who had been struck 5 minutes before. However unfortunate, I was definitely relieved to here all that.

Day one carried on with several more small skirmishes and me moving from compound to compound to set up Observation Posts (OPs), from which I could support the Company’s movement. I never thought that in my career I would literally be kicking in doors and leading a three man stack, clearing room after room to get to my OPs.

We ended the day, which had seen us in contact for 12 straight hours, by sleeping beside our vehicle in full battle rattle for about an hour with sand fleas biting us. They are the single most ignorant and annoying bug ever. The next morning started off with what seemed like a benign task. We were to clear the grape fields to the south of our objective area. Intelligence said there was nobody there and this would only take us a couple of hours. About an hour into the clearing operation we came under contact from a heavily fortified compound. Unfortunately we had a young fellow killed early in the engagement when the infantry tried to storm the compound. They met fierce resistance, far greater than expected. (I didn’t know the young soldier personally, but do recall thinking how fearless he was a week earlier when I saw him running around the Brit compound with a Portuguese flag right after England had lost in the World Cup. I was impressed by his peers and friends and how professionally they carried on after his death.) After the attempted storming of the compound, the Company Commander came to me and said “right, we tried that the old fashioned way, now I want you to level that compound.” As I was coming up with a plan for how I would do this, we had a call sign I had never heard before check in. It was Mobway 51. Ends up he was a Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle armed with a hellfire missile. I don’t know how he knew we needed help or what frequency we were using, and frankly I don’t care, he was a blessing. When the Company Commander asked me what the safety distance for a hellfire was I literally had to go to the reference manual I carry (J Fires Manual) because I had never seen one before and had no idea what it actually could do. I told him the safety distance was 100m. To which he asked how far we were from the compound – the laser said 82m. We debated the ballistic strength of the mud wall beside us and in the end he decided to risk it. Nothing like seeing an entire Company in the fetal position pressed up against a mud wall! The hellfire came in and it was the loudest thing I have ever heard. Three distinct noises: the missile firing, it coming over our heads and the boom. For about 30 seconds we couldn’t see anything but a cloud of dust. Then when the dust settled the Platoons started hooting and hollering. The compound barely even looked the same. (At this point our embedded journalist Christie Blanchford from the Globe and Mail had enough and left us, can’t blame her I guess.) The Company again tried to clear the compound but still met resistance. So we lobbed in 18 artillery shells 82m from us (even closer than the day before) and then brought in two Apache Attack Helicopters. On the second rocket attack (I actually have video of this) the pilot hit the target with his first rocket and the second one went long and landed just on the other side of the mud wall from us. It engulfed us in rocket exhaust, but thankfully no one was hurt. When the hellfire had gone off it had started a small building in the compound on fire and suddenly we started getting secondary explosions off of a weapons cache that was in it. Everything started exploding around us, and the two guys that had not listened to me to press up against the wall got hit with shrapnel, both in the legs. One was the Company Commander’s Signaler, a crazy Newf, who was cracking jokes even with shrapnel in his leg. The medic dealt with him and I went over to the American ETT Captain who was only a few feet from me and began doing first aid on him. He looked liked he was going into shock, until his American Sergeant came up behind me and said “Shit Sir, that’s barely worth wearing a Purple Heart for!” I was surprised how much first aid I actually remembered, and the only difficult part was trying to cut off his pant leg because American combats are designed not to tear, making them particularly difficult to cut! In the end we took the compound and captured a high level Taliban leader who was found by the infantry hiding in a sewage culvert, begging for the shelling to stop. As well, we found a major weapons cache, which the engineers took great delight in blowing up. Unfortunately the assault had cost us one killed, two wounded, a Section commander had blown his knee throwing a grenade and four guys had gone down to extreme heat exhaustion. We found out though that this was a Taliban and Al Qaeda hot bed and that they had been reinforced by Chechen and Tajik fighters (which I guess means we really got a chance to take on Al Qaeda and not just the Taliban).

Part 2 is here.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What's in a Name?

The wife and I have been fighting about names.

She saw an episode of Scrubs, where one of the surgeons and his wife, who is also a nurse, are pregnant. The couple talk about names and she agrees to tell him the name she likes only if he promises not to tell anyone. Of course he tells the other guy (JD) and he then goes on to name some hamster that name, thereby making it unuseable for their child.

I am sure the wife thinks I will do the same. Everyone has been bugging the wife to divulge her list of favorite names but she has refused to break, even to me. Anyone who knows the wife, knows that the more you ask her, the more stubborn she gets. I was able to get her to agree to give me her ideas if I shared mine.

This did not last for very long. As soon as I made a few suggestions, she quickly shot them down with statements such as, "No", "Absolutely not", "That's dumb", you get the picture. Now, I fully admit that some of mine were a bit silly, as when I thought the twins might be a boy and girl and suggested they be called Luke and Leia. (My mother thought this was a great idea. I had to explain the part about it being from a movie).

So I finally got fed up with my suggestions being treated so poorly, and said, "Fine. Tell me some of yours then." She refused.

What's up with that? I give my suggestions in (mostly) good faith and get nothing in return.

I know from experience that the wife will not give in, so I have refused to give any further suggestions until she makes one. She can hold out longer than I (this has been proved in other areas of our relationship) however, there are principles at stake.

Unfortunately, I have no other suggestions.

Therefore, I open the comments of this post for name suggestions.

A few points. We know the twins are identical, but do not know the sex, so male and female suggestions are appreiciated. However, no rhyming names, no names with the same initial or sound too much alike, and no unisex names (I hate that).

If I get some good suggestions, I may put up a poll.

Make a suggestion. Maybe you can claim you named my kids.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Surprises Keep on Coming

Just when I thought we were done with these surprises, we get another one at the last appointment.

The doc is 95% certain that the twins are identical.

If you know doctors, I am sure she would not tell us that if she was not certain. 95% just gives her a bit of wiggle room, just in case.

I was surprised. Not as surprised as when we went from one to two.

Identical twins could be fun. I was hoping for fraternal and they would be one of each, mostly because I am afraid that I won't be able to tell them apart and people will think I am a bad parent.

We still do not know what sex they are. The wife wants it to be a surprise. Boys would be nice, but they can be a handful when growing up. I am worried about my ability to deal with teenage girls, particularly tow of then (and twins to boot).

I guess I have resigned myself to my fate. Whatever happens, my life is going to drastically change in a number of weeks.

No choice but to get used to it.

Friday, June 30, 2006

It's Crowded in Her

Last week, for the first time, I felt the fruits of my loins.

The babies have become more active. They are starting to kick. I often catch the wife rubbing her belly, trying to calm them down.

I am certain that at least one of them is a boy. They start to kick so the wife calls me over to feel it. They immediately stop kicking.

Last week, I finally caught them at it. It is a weird feeling, to have a hand on someone's stomach and have something poke up for a split second.

I few weeks ago, the wife was in the doctor's office waiting room and they became quite active. She caught another woman laughing at her as the babies were kicking so hard that you could see her shirt moving from across the room.

At least one of them is going to be a good soccer player.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Narrow Media Coverage

The Canadian media does the Canadian Forces and all Canadians a disservice in their reporting of our actions in Afghanistan. Recent Posts at Small Dead Animals and this one at Counterterrorism Blog highlight the “Deathwatch” by reporters at the Kandahar Airfield.

To be fair to reporters, it has been reported that they do not want to sit in Kandahar waiating for soldiers to die, but they are at the mercy of the news bureaus that are looking for the sensational story (there being nothing more sensational than the death of a soldier).

However, rather than blame the MSM and wail about the media, I feel it is more important to look at what can be done about it. The obvious thing for the Canadian Forces to do would be to send their own reporters out to Afghanistan.

But the Canadian Forces has no reporters, you say? Technically this is true, but as most of those on the right of the political spectrum would say, based on some of the quality of reporting we see in Canada, it doesn’t take much to be a reporter.

The Canadian Forces publishes a number of newspapers, including a national newspaper, the Maple Leaf. As well, most major bases have their own newspaper, such as The Petawawa Post in Petawawa, The Lookout in Esquimalt and The Contact in Trenton, to name a few.

Now, I agree that a base newspaper is a far cry from a national daily. Most stories are the sort you would find in a local community newspaper with a bit of a military twist. For example, instead of a local councilman opening up the new swimming pool, it will be some guy in a military uniform, probably with the title of Lieutenant Colonel in the front of his name.

However, this is not to say that the editors of these newspapers could not act as reporters. With such a small staff, (these are usually one man operations), the editor might write a number of articles for each issue, particularly if the paper is short of content to fill the space.

Why not find one, or more, of these editors who are interested in going to Afganistan and send them? The military would get a reporter not beholden to the “Deathwatch” focused news bureaus and the citizens of Canada might get more information from Afghanistan than the coverage of coffins. In addition, if the reporter is a military member then they are aware of military culture and how the system works, resulting in less confusion regarding military terms and time spent trying to understand the military mindset. The Canadian Forces might only have to do it for a few months, as the public might become more interested in the actions going on in the war and the demand of these types of stories grows, the MSM might step up.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Kittens are Good Training for Kids

The cat we got six months ago, Orion, is a bit of a monster.

Every morning, at about 6 am, he comes into the bedroom and starts licking or biting some part of the wife’s face. I hate it because I get awakened by her cursing.

A few months ago, we were outside when a deer came on to the driveway about 100 meters from us. He decided it was something to be stalked, so while I stood still and in full view of the deer, he quickly closed the distance by half and crouched down to start his “hunting”.

After about 5 minutes of a staredown, the cat decided to rush the deer, whereupon the deer took off into the woods with the cat in hot pursuit. Have you ever see a 200 pound deer run from and 8 pound cat? I have.

Just yesterday when the wife and I were coming home from work, a skunk scurried off of our driveway into the forest. A few hours later, I happened to be watching TV when movement out the front window caught my eye. Looking out, I exclaimed to the wife, “Hey, look, a skunk.”

Anyone who has had a pet sprayed by a skunk knows what a pain it can be, so imagine my concern when I see the cat come out of the trees, following closely behind. Based on the deer scenario, I make the assumption that he is think of going in for the kill, an assumption I am sure the skunk shared, as he was constantly pointing his tail at the cat in a threatening manner. We had to chase the cat part way through the forest before we finally caught up with him while the skunk got far enough away to lose him.

Actually, the cat is starting to settle down. There is less biting in the morning and he tends to sleep through the night, as opposed to chasing his most noisy toys around our hardwood bedroom floor at 2 am or dropping wet with drool toy mice on my face.

Although he is a pain, the kids will likely be much worse. Also, kittens become cats in about a year, while human take 18 years.

We have enjoyed laughing at his antics this last year. I expect to get the same enjoyment out of my kids for the next 18.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Wife's Experience Pt 2

Continued from Pt 1.

Original ultrasound post here.

So as the wife is going into the ultrasound room and getting hooked up, she is talking away to the technician. We had agreed not to find out the sex of the baby, as we wanted it to be a surprise. Also, some friends told us that the birth was just not as exciting when you knew the sex.

So as she is getting ready, the wife is going on and on about how we don't want to know the sex, we want to be surprised, blah blah blah. (In fact, this place does not allow you to know the sex, which seems to be standard now.)

After a while she starts to get a bit upset, as the women seems to be ignoring the wife, giving her that polite grunt that says "Whatever you say, I am not paying attention".

About this time, I guess the woman gets tired of the wife's chatter, so she turns to her and says:

"Honey, I think you have more important things to worry about than that. It's twins."

I would have loved to see the expression on her face. It was probably a mirror of mine a few minutes later.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Wife's Experience Pt 1

Before relating how the wife found out, I have to say there are very few times in my life I have been truely, jaw-dropped surprised. The last time I can remember was my 19th surprise birthday party (the two are not really comparable).

I had completely written the possibility of twins out of my mind as of the first meeting with the doctor. My first meeting with the doc was the wife's 3rd meeting, and I naively thought that any big surprises would have been out by now. Our ultrasound was at 18+ weeks, which is half way through. As a commenter mentioned in this
post, there were surprises like this in the past. I figured having two show up at birth instead of one was so far in the past that I would have known the size of the team sooner than at the half way mark.

An interesting aside, less than a week before we found out we were having twins we were at our first baby sale. Picture a packed community hall, 30-50 women, each with a table covered with baby clothes and toys. I hate shopping unless it's power tools or some sort of electronic toy. So as the wife is looking at baby clothes, I wandered into the larger item room (strollers are sort of like a machine). The wife wanders in after me and we see a double stroller there.

I remark to her, "At least we are not having two". Her reply:

"I was just thinking the same thing".

Part Two tomorrow

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It's Twins

Yes, you read correctly. We are having two, not one.

This wonderful news just about floored me.

It was at the 18 week mark, and we were going in for our first ultrasound. They take the wife in first for some reason, but said they would be soon out to get me. The wait is getting longer, and I am starting to worry when finally the technician comes out and calls my name. No hint of what is to come.

I get to the room and the wife looks up at me and says "Guess what?"

I say "I do not know, what?"

She says, "Guess"

Now I am starting to get pissed. What could be there to guess? We already agreed not to know the sex of the baby, so the only thing I could think of was various horrible deformaties that I did not even want to think about.

My reaction was to start to pace, then stop and look her in the eye and demand she tell me what was going on. This is my serious look, the one I save for situations when you should not mess with me. It is the "I am considering doing serious bodily harm to you" look.

The wife must have recognised the look (though this is the first time I used it on her) and she spilled the beans and told me we were having twins.

My reaction was disbelief. I mean, we had seen the doctor a few weeks ago. He checked her out, we listened to the heartbeat (I heard only one) and said eveything was fine. No mention of the possibility of more than one.

I don't like doctors. Some tend to conceal the true about what is going on "for your own good". Perhaps conceal is a strong work, but I like to know all the possibilities. I am not some liberal who can't take the truth. You can bet I will have words with this guy.

Next: Discussions with the doc and how the wife found out.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Collecting Ammo

I'm not sure how much the wife is into this baby thing. She has taken to calling the fruit of my loins "the pod".

I suppose that it better than her prior nickname, which was "the parasite". She stopped doing that after I threatened to tell the kid when he/she grew up.

I can just imagine, in the middle of some big fight, I would say "Well, at least I don't think Junior is a parasite."

It's never too early to start building up ammunition for the divorce hearing.

I wish I could claim that one, but I actually heard someone claim that marriage was not about love or all that other junk, but it was actually about having someone to collect information on and use against, in an effort to "one up".

The wife certainly has that one down pat. Once, about 1 million years ago, I burnt some meat I was cooking. Every time I cook or BBQ something, there is always some comment about "Is it burnt", or "How about a bit less carbon this time, honey?"

I will save this one, locked away in my brain, for a suitably appropriate time in the far future.

Everyone needs something to look forward to.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

All Hail the Power of the Fertility Cock

(or How Tom Cruise Helped Conceive My Child)

The wife belongs to a dancing group and one of the things they do is give this rooster to each new married couple. They call it the Fertility Cock and is supposed to help conceive a child (a modern version of some ancient fertility myth). The thing has a good track record. Every couple who has had it gets pregnant.

All that hippie crap aside, the thing worked from a few thousand miles away and the wife is pregnant.

I am sure no one wants the details of the conception (it’s not that kind of blog), but suffice it to say, if The Last Samurai had been a more movie interesting, I might not have kids.

However, that is not the worst of it.

More details tomorrow.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Post Anniversary

Thanks for the suggestions.

In the end, we did some work around the house during the day and spent the night in a nice suite at the Fantasyland Hotel in Edmonton.

The evening included a fancy dinner and some gambling at the casino, where the wife won $16 at roulette.

Unfortunately she lost $20 at blackjack, so we were down $4 at the end of the night.

Lack of Posting

Sorry to all three of my readers for my lack of posting. Things have been a bit busy around here but I promise to start posting more.

There has been a bit of an event that will change the nature of this blog and that will provide you, dear reader, with much amusement.

More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Next week, we will be celebrating one year since our wedding.

One year is paper, so I am thinking of paper plates as a present.

But seriously, does anyone have a suggestion as a present for a lefty wife?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lefties are always trying to fudge the numbers

There has been a number of instances lately, especially in the US media, of the MSM, minions of the left wing, trying to game or ignore the numbers that don't fit in with their plan. Examples include the drop in the Bush approval rating to 34% that interviewed more Democrats than Republicans. Newsbusters is a good site that tries to keep them honest. Here is a recent post that serves as an example of poll fudging.

I can say this as a have some personal experience with this type of behaviour.

I have taken down the poll in the side bar. The final numbers were as follows:

MB has the patience of a saint. I don’t know what he sees in her. - 29%

I wish my husband/boyfriend was half as good a man as MB. If you ever break up, give me a call. - 8%

You two need counselling. I know a good therapist. - 17%

Men are pigs. A woman is always right, even when she is wrong. This is no exception. - 46%

Unfortunately, they are not to be believed. I noticed the poll going up by one per day, in only one category.

Suspecting the wife, I confronted her. To give her credit, she openly admitted that she was voting every day, trying to push the numbers up to make me look bad. She even bragged that it was easy, implying that I was at fault for making it easy to cheat.


I don't have a private detective following her around all the time to ensure that she is not having an affair.

Am I making that too easy, honey?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Arsonists on the loose

Being a lefty, the wife is all into various lame causes such as recycling.

When we lived in Edmonton, recycling was easy. Put everything (except organics) in the blue bag and leave it with the garbage. They come and pick it up and sort it at this new sorting facility in the city. Edmonton is really ahead of the courve when it comes to this sort of thing.

Sherwood Park, not so much. We have to haul eveything ourselves to a central location, and put it into the various bins provided. For all I hear about the redneck sterotype, I sure see alot of people sorting through their own garbage for no pay when we go down there.

Of course, we do our own organics on the property. I am looking to set of vegetable garden this summer, so the wife had me buy one of those black composters, about $20 at Canadian Tire last year.

In addition to bannana peals, orange skins, etc, I also put the ashes from the fireplace in there, as they are good to compost. Of course, no rotting going on yet, but with spring just around the corner, we should have some nice, rich stuff by the time we want to plant.

So, on Saturday I emptied the fireplace, putting the ashes in the plastic composter. Anyone see where this is going?

By the time we woke up on Sunday morning the thing had burned (melted down). In fact, you wold think the thing had been stolen, except for the tiny drops of melted platic all around the snow and the smell.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

In like a Lion...

Last night we had the most snow that we have had all winter and I finally got to really use the tractor snowblower. We have about 300m of driveway, so a blower is a must. I tested the thing out last week, as I thought we were done for snow and wanted to use it at least once before spring.

No need to worry about getting some use out of it. The 2-4 cm we were supposed to get ended up being about 30 cm of new snow. The snow was up to my calves when I went outside. The wife and I got up at the usual time, not thinking I would need to blow, as we usually just drive over 2-4 cm in her Focus. As I got outside to shovel the walk, I noticed more snow than expected. All the while the wife is talking about being late for work, etc. Well, it took about an hour to do all of it, including the one time I got stuck. I had to get the wife on the machine and reverse it while I pushed. Once it was free, I expected to finish the job, but the wife just drives off and finishes it herself. Taking away all my fun.

I guess it is my fault for showing her how to run the thing. You can imagine how fun it is if she wants to do it. To top it off, I am in longjohns and track pants, all bundled up, the person dressed for the task, while she is wearing dress pants working the tractor. With the wind, you end up getting covered with snow, which isn't pleasant, particularily if you are not dressed for it. She had to change before work.

This has to be the last snowfall before spring.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Radio Free Edmonton

In my quest to be the King of all media, a buddy and I have started up our own underground radio program.

Check it out and download our podcasts at Radio Free Edmonton.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Get thee to Hell, St. Valentine

The wife is away this week.

This means no need to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Not that I hate Valentine’s Day. I view it as any other man on this planet, with a sense of fear and slight loathing. When I was single, I dreaded Valentines Day. It was like a trap, set by society to destroy whatever relationship you happened to be in.

Here we have this day where men are forced to buy a present for whomever they are dating. Do I get her a present? If you don’t and she thinks you should have, it’s over. If you get her something, then what? Too cheap, its over. Too expensive, you are too serious, and it’s over. Get it just right and you win big. Unfortunately, men are not wired to be good at making those types of judgements, so the chance of winning big is stacked against us.

Valentines Day was part of the reason I got married. No more guesses, get her a token and you are good to go. If she is mad about you spending only $10 on flowers, some excuse about saving the money for a trip, or being broken after buying the big TV would usually suffice.

I am luckier than most, and this is why I recommend dating or even marrying the left wing types: They don’t believe in Valentines Day!

The wife considers it a conspiracy of the greeting card companies (I tend to agree). Lefties think everything is a conspiracy, so even if she doesn’t, drop a nice hint, such as “So, should we get something for each other for Valentines Day? I was going to, but the whole thing is a bit of a scam by the greeting card companies, don’t you think?”

When I decided to ask her to marry me, two things went through my head. I knew it would be difficult, as I have trouble dealing with the lefty conspiracy types, such as everyone’s favourite Robert McClelland. The lack of logic in their arguments makes my head hurt. I know I would have to put out with that sort of stuff for the rest of my life. On the other hand, lefty girls hate all the open my door and Valentines Day crap, and will do anything in the sack.

Don’t you believe it. The Wife says Valentines Day is a conspiracy, but watch her eyes light up when you get her something. Or watch the chance of you getting something fade if you don’t.

This Valentines Day she isn’t here, so problem solved.

Oh, and that stuff about doing anything in the sack. That’s crap.

Just like Valentines Day.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Shameful Joy

The Wife has been away on a business trip for a few days. Unfortunately, this means Orion has no one else to bother other than me. For some reason, every morning at 4 am, he wakes up and wants to play. Of course, no child or kitten can play without someone watching them. So we normally receive a 4 am wake up, not by alarm clock, but by a cat licking and nibbling on the face.

Actually, that is not completely honest. The Wife wakes up to a cat licking and nibbling. I wake up to a wife cursing and swearing. For some reason, he always does this to her, not me. Even though I do not like to be awakened at 4 am to cursing and swearing, I am experiencing a bit of Schadenfreude.

Before we got this cat, the other cats use to sleep on our bed. They always seemed to sleep on either side of my legs, and at 13 and 10 pounds it felt I was pinned to the bed. I would always be having weird dreams about aliens tying me down and probing me.

For a time, I tried to keep the cats out of the bedroom to stop the weird dreams and maybe improve the sex life. Since it is hard to make love with a cat constantly scratching and meowing at the bedroom door (and the wife is not interested in pleasuring the person who is putting her "children" in distress) I eventually gave up. Instead of alien probes, I tried those dream control techniques and imagine I was tied to the bed by some bikini team. That dream control stuff is bunk.

So I was experiencing a bit of pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune at the expense of the wife.

However, now that she is away, that cat has only one person to lick and nibble.

Seven more days and I can go back to my shameful joy.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Orion the Hunter is a Monster

The latest addition to the family, Orion, has been an annoying pain lately. The cat is starting to get smart. We don't let him outside, as it is cold, he still does not know his way around the property, and is so friendly that he would probably go up to a coyote and get eaten. I used to be able to distract him with a cat toy and throw it down the hall and exit the house before he realized I was leaving. Not anymore.

As well as meowing pitifully at the door when we are about to leave, I have to pick him up and throw him down the hall, closing the door as fast as possible so he cannot escape without slamming him in the doorway.

After a few years of two cats who saw humans as feed bowls, it takes a bit to get used to a cat that is more like a dog. He even fetches his toy mouse and brings it to be thrown, over and over.

The wife is getting pissed at Orion. He gets up each moring at about 4 am to lick and bite her face. When that fails to get her up, he sleeps on her neck, in what appears to be an attempt to smother her. He never does this to me. I think he may be jelous of her, due to the fact that if she gets up to shower, he then settles down on her side of the bed to nap with me.

She has started to refer to him as "your cat" and complain loudly when "your cat" does something bad, like try to climb her like a tree just after exiting the shower.

That was supposed to be my job.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I have a shiny new toy

Bought the TV.

Man, is it nice. 32 inch Sony LCD XBR. I watched the Superbowl in High Def. Everything looks better. Non high def looks about twice as good, but the difference is most noticable when watching an HD channel.

The wife did not give me a hard time about it. She probably watches more TV than I. All the cracks about me wasting money are just that, cracks to try and get my goat. She knows it works, because I get the most worked up when people accuse me of something that is obviously not true.

In other news, the wife lost her wedding ring this weekend.

Isn't there a rule that if you lose your ring within the first year the wedding is null and void?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Post election at the Ranch

The wife and I voted first thing in the morning on election day, on the way to work. She had received her voter registration card, I had not. As we moved only 6 months ago, all of our info was incorrect, and she called them to change it. She says she told them ot change my information as well as hers. For some reason mine did not get sorted out, but hers did, even though she says she changed them as the same time. A bit suspicious, eh?

Not to worry, I was able to vote and thereby cancel her vote. Which is the same reason she said she was voting.

I need not have bothered. In our riding, Vergreville-Wainwright, the CPC candidate won by a landslide. (For election results try here.)

CPC Candidate, Leon Benoit, won with 74.2% of the vote (37,854 votes). The next closest candidate was the NDP at 9.2% (4,727 votes)

It is interesting to look at the third and fourth place:

Liberal 7.6% (3,873)
Green 7.5% (3,822)

Is this a reflection of how far the Liberals have fallen in Alberta when they can just barely beat the Greens?

The Liberal president of this riding must be going some real soul searching.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

No Mom, we are not getting a divorce

This recent post got a comment which led me to believe I may be driving off my readers (all 2 of them). Hopefully this post will reassure you a bit.

From the comments:

Reading this blog has begun to depress me. In particular, that separate account thing doesn't sound good to me. Sort of like a "just in case we break up, at least I'll know what's mine" provision.

Part of the problem is that we are moving and trying to adjust our lives. Remember we have spent over half our married life away from each other and we just moved into a new house. Of the six major life stresses, we had two last year (marriage and moving), so I expect some time will be needed to adjust.

Still, I think we should just have one account and be done with it. I am not sure why she wants to have separate accounts. I only have a part time job and we could not afford to pay the bills on my money alone, so she pays most household expenses.

If she is planning to "get out", it would be in her best interest to merge everything.

I think the separate account thing is more about some sort of left wing, "I am my own individual" thing. However, she did take my last name so that doesn't really make any sense.

There were two things I wanted to do in writing this blog. The first was to get some experience writing, to see if it was a career I wanted to pursue. The second was to highlight the problems of two people who love each other but hold different political views. I hoped this might provide some humour to my readers and show that every marriage/relationship has ups and downs, conflict and difference of opinion. And to show that those things can be worked through.

At least I think they can. I am not sure, since I have not had a relationship last over 3 months in the last 15 years.

This is a bit of unfamiliar territory to me.

Hopefully I will be able to give you a final accounting in 40 years.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Canary in the Coal Mine (4)

The purpose of these posts is to regularily interview someone I caonsider a fairly typical Ontario Liberal voter who can be swayed by the campaigns. The idea is to follow the attitudes and perceptions of this person as a barometer to how the campaigns are going and what the composition of the government might be after 23 Jan.

The Canary is my Father. See the below posts for past info.

Canary in the Coal Mine

Canary in the Coal Mine (1)

Canary in the Coal Mine (2)

Canary in the Coal Mine (3)

Election day voting.

Dad decided to “give Harper a chance” and voted Conservative. I think this may be what many people from Ontario are thinking.

If there is going to be a long term political shift to the right in Canada, similar to what we have seen in the US, it will depend a lot on what the Conservatives are able to do as the government.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Post deployment readjustments

Things have not been going super smoothly since I got home.

To be honest, I expected a bit more things done around the house. I was gone for almost 5 months, and we still do not have curtains or a set of drawers for the bedroom. There were a few things I asked her to do when I was gone and they were not done.

Before all the femanists out there get all uppity, these were things that most women like to do. It's not like I asked her to chop a winters’ worth of firewood. These things were all, what a friend of mine likes to call, "pink" things. Buying curtains, getting some stools for the kitchen, buying a chest of drawers for the bedroom, buying a pot rack. I said buy one thing each month or about 5 major items. I said try to keep it down to about $500 per, but use your judgement. I expected I would see some overpriced stuff, but better to have something a pay a bit more than have nothing. Or she could buy nothing.

Now I fully accept that I would have to do something when I got home and I was ready for a pile of what I call the "blue" things waiting for we when I got back. These include such things as putting up the curtains, moving the dresser, chopping wood, etc. But there are no "blue" things to do. In fact, it seems the only major thing the wife did was chop firewood (she did a lot of firewood), which is a blue thing. She did buy a few other things, the biggest being a small liquor cabinet (low priority) and some Leggo at a garage sale, for the kids. Since we don't have any kids, and if we did have one tomorrow it would be at least 5 years before he/she could play with it, this is an even lower priority.

Suffice it to say, things are not were I thought they would be.

Now, in her defence, she says that she was very busy at work and did a lot of overtime. If this is true that means we should have a ton of money to spend. I want to buy a new, fancy TV, one of those LCD 32 inch types. The one we are watching now is at least 8 years old and is 26 inches. If you know me, you know that I am cheap. I do not want to spend a cent if I do not have to, especially on big ticket items. I don't mind spending money on something it if we need it, otherwise I sock money away. Now, we do not need a TV. The present one is old and doesn't fit in the space, but we could survive without it, so this is a tough purchase for me. I am wracked with guilt, as demonstrated by having been into a number of stores a number of times looking at the thing and always putting buying it off for some reason. So you would thing the wife would be a bit more supportive as I struggle with this purchase. Not so. She keeps making comments about how we do not need a new TV. I know we do not need a new TV. When you get right down to it, we don't need a TV at all. Sure, we could continue to leave the TV in the center of the room, on the coffee table, so close to the fireplace that the plastic melts. That's not the point. The point is how can a woman who did very few of the "pink" things criticize when I want to buy something to get the place in better shape? Especially since we are rolling in so much money after all this overtime.

That's another thing. The wife still insists on the "my money, your money". I say we put it all in one account, she wants separate accounts. To be honest, I really don't care, since we divide up all the bills anyway. But how can I be sure there was overtime. Maybe she found out I asked the neighbour to watch the house while I was gone and shoot any strange men that were around. Maybe this "overtime" was really a cover for an office affair.

This weekend is my birthday. If she gives me trouble about buying the TV this weekend, I will know she had an affair.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Can this Election get any more Buzzare?

Just after posting the below and discussing Buzz Hargrove with my dad, I go back on the net to read the following, courtesy of Andrew Coyne:

Buzz Hargrove and why Quebecers should vote for the Bloc

Buzz on Alberta

When I spoke to Dad and told him that Buzz says Quebers should vote for the Bloc, he mentioned he did not see that.

I wonder if it will be in the Liberal endorsing Toronto Star tomorrow.

Update: Yes it can!

Liberal Campaign Caught Falsely Accusing Conservative Candidate of Sexual Abuse

Via Nealenews

Canary in the Coal Mine (3)

The purpose of these posts is to regularily interview someone I caonsider a fairly typical Ontario Liberal voter who can be swayed by the campaigns. The idea is to follow the attitudes and perceptions of this person as a barometer to how the campaigns are going and what the composition of the government might be after 23 Jan.

The Canary is my Father.

See the below posts for past info.

Canary in the Coal Mine

Canary in the Coal Mine (1)

Canary in the Coal Mine (2)

Jan 8 to Jan 18. Turnaround in the works for the Libs?

I had a bit or trouble contacting the Canary this week. My parents have been out a lot, babysitting for my sister. I was only able to speak to my Dad today, so this includes everything up to this point.

I hate to go against the conventional wisdom, but I think the Liberal attacks and the "scary" Harper stuff is getting some traction, at least in my father's case.

Although Dad says that there were no significant election stories this week and he states that he is still leaning towards the Conservatives, he sounded less sure about voting Tory this week than last. He read the Toronto Star endorsement of Martin, and said they made some good points. The fact that the TStar admitted Martin made some mistakes seemed to mitigate the whole Liberal corruption, adscam, etc, in his eyes. I specifically asked him about the corruption, and he said, "Scandals are hard to stop". I guess this is the old "everyone is corrupt" argument.

Still, he thinks that Harper has "conducted himself well" but his is concerned that Harper may not be a Red Tory. He wishes Harper was less conservative. Since I was wearing my journalist hat, I had to stop myself from biting through my tongue to keep myself from attacking that statement.

Dad seems to still have some deep seated feeling in his gut that Harper is still "scary". He couched this by saying he was scared about some policies, specifically that Harper would give more power to the provinces. I don't believe there is anything in the Troy platform about more power to the provinces, perhaps just about the feds no longer stepping on provincial toes. It shows that there is still some of the scary Harper meme left over from the last election.

We discussed the polls indicating a possible Conservative majority government. Dad does not want to see that happen and still thinks it will be a Tory minority. He thinks that, once in the booth, many Liberals who were thinking of voting conservative (such as him) will "chicken out" and vote Liberal on Monday. He was quite ready to admit he was in that position.

We shall see what happens on Monday. I hope to talk to him after he votes and find out which way he voted.

Dad has not seemed to consider voting NDP. Strange considering Oshawa is a strong GM town.