Friday, January 30, 2009

Justice At Last?

While it may bring some sense of closure and justice to many of the followers of this story, I'm not sure it can do much for 12 year old Karissa Boudreau.
"Mommy, don't," were the last words Karissa Boudreau spoke as her mother strangled her to death in the woods outside of Hebbville, N.S.
Her mother, Penny Boudreau, pled guilty to first degree murder in her child's death. As I read these words, my stomach clenches and turns. How can it not?

Tensions between the mother and daughter had ran high ever since Karissa had moved father's house inShelburne County in November, 2007.

MacCumber, according to the statement of facts, had told Boudreau that living in their apartment felt cramped with her daughter around.

Boudreau then decided to kill her daughter, court heard.

She drove her daughter to a Sobey's parking lot, where she phoned her boyfriend to say Karissa had gone missing.

Boudreau then drove to nearby Hebbville, where she chased her daughter of the red Dodge Neon, forced her to the ground, and choked her with a piece of twine.

Court heard she could feel her daughter struggling beneath her.

With her daughter's body slumped over in the front seat of her car, Boudreau drove to a Tim Horton's and threw out the twine in a coffee cup. She then drove to the LeHave River and disposed of Karissa's body, court heard.

At Lex's, the questions if often asked and re-asked," Where do we find such men?", after reading of the heroic actions of so many in the military. People who respond, in the heat of combat, to protect their comrades, often at the risk (or even loss) of their own lives.

Last February, I asked for people to show some compassion for a woman whose child had just died and in honour of Karissa and her family, not to immediately accept and repeat the horrific rumours which swirled around her.

Today my mind can only barely form the questions, "How could a mother possibly do this to her own child?", "How do such people manage to live with themselves, to even allow themselves to draw their next breath?", "Where, indeed, do we find such scum who mascarade as human?'.

Perhaps I am suppose to feel some sort of pity or compassion for this so-called mother. To grieve for Karissa while thinking that there must have been horror in Penny Boudreau's background or some uncontrollable mental illness that caused her to do what she did. Perhaps there was. But at this moment I can pull up no emotion for this woman other than repulsion, disgust and horror.

My youngest daughter is 12 years old. I would, without a second thought, give my life for her. As I would for her older sister. As would their father. As difficult as life can be, as much as having two teenagers in your home can, at times, cause you to wonder if one of these days they are going to push you over the edge ... I could never even imagine actually harming either one of them.

I'm sorry, Karissa. So, so sorry for so many things.

One of them being for the fact that you never actually had a mother. That woman, who gave birth to you and partially raised you, who I am sure you loved as a child loves their mother. That woman. Was. Not. A. Mother.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Business Hours

The sign on the sidebar should say it all:

SOME DAYS On Afternoons, We Aren't Here At All,
But Lately We've BEEN HERE
Just About All The Time
Except When We're Someplace Else,
But We SHOULD BE HERE Then, Too.
Yeah. Lately, not so much it seems, eh?

Well, in my defence, I have been busier than usual on the other blawg. And those posts tend to take a lot more time to throw together, so you only look like half ways like a babbling idiot, as opposed to a full-on fool.

And there's much to consider, to ponder, in our world today.

For example, there's always the worry as to exactly what the newly-minted President might decide to do with all those former Guantanamo prisoners. I mean, let's get real here, it's not like they're all a bunch of innocent boy scouts about to descend upon the world.

So, just to be clear, just in case anyone comes up with any bright idea to send them North ... umm, no, I don't think so.

And I see the boys are back at work. Or so they say, anyway. Any chance they will be able to play nicely? You best get your act together, do the job you're paid to, I think.

After all, there is lots is up in our little corner of the world. Such as the vast oil sands appear to be drying up, putting many of my fellow Cape Bretoners out of work (okay, okay, I consider myself to be an honourary Cape Bretoner).

And so here I sit, pondering a new world order. And how we are going to pay those oil bills which keep adding up in this cold, cold winter.

Pondering the allure of that unattainable southern beach.

And so it is.
Sometimes a girl just has to do what needs to be done.
Executive decisions cry out to be made.

Just where is this heading, you wonder. Why to a nice long weekend mini-vacation, of course. After all, they do say that Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, do they not?

Yes, yes they do. And I think they might just be on to something there. But first I must research. Find out what's really going on. Even take an extra day (Sunday perhaps) to collect and ponder over the research. Make the sacrifice.

So come Friday, I will saddle up [sans hubbie and children] and head off to the South Shore, the no doubt cold and frigid South Shore. But that's okay. Because I will be amongst friends. And there will good food. And better drink. A pool. A whirlpool. In other words, all the essentials of life.

Wish me well. And if I don't see you before then, I will catch ya on the flip side, okay?

Update: Good (albeit unexpected) news in today's mail. Our monthly furnace oil payments are actually going down! Hmm, perhaps a few more days away, just for research purposes, of cousre, is called for in this happy situation. Something else to ponder...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day Daze in The US of A

I wasn't going to bother writing about this; after all, isn't everybody else? Only 544,620 hits on a Google blog search using the terms "Obama" and "inauguration.

It's not like my opinion is particularly needed, particularly when I spent most of the day painstakingly painfully trying to write a post on the other blog. Talk about getting sidetracked, from taking my daily spin through the blogosphere to a crash-research course in obesity, disability and adoption. But I digress.

I am not among the (apparent) many who are overcome with joy and jubilation at Obama's inauguration, who feel that He will be The One to save us all. Nor am I among those crying in their beer, so to speak, who fear that the 44th President could spell the doom (scroll down through the comments of that last link to see what I mean) of the United States. And, by extension, I suppose the rest of us poor slobs, too.

But he is the first black President of the United States. And that is rather cool. Historic even.

But here's my concern ... with all the hype, all the build-up, all the joy that the pent-up angst of the Bush years will now be over ... what are the chances that any person, any man, can live up to that?

Obama may well be a great President. Or even just a good or adequate one. But I fear that many may be riding for a crash - Obama is inheriting a bad economic situation (to put it mildly) and it's not like he's particularly top-heavy with governing experience.

Then again, he has made some relatively conservative picks for his Cabinet, which some see as good while others, no doubt, will wail and gnash their teeth. Just goes to show, you really can't please all the people all the time.

I hope he does well. I hope Canada and the US build a strong relationship with Obama as President. But that's 'hope', not to be confused with "Hope". And I sincerely *hope* that those drunk on the heady wine of Obama will be able to face reality. Tomorrow. Next month. And next year.

That being said, Congratulations. And Good Luck to you, sir.
Something tells me, you may just need it.

Update: Reality dawns. And sometimes it bites.

H/T to SnakeEater via Lex

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another Senseless Quiz?

Yeah, like Kris, I like these silly quizzes. Well, in all honesty, maybe I don't think they're totally silly. They do tell you a little about yourself.

Of course, we're not touting accuracy here. I took this quiz once, read the result and when I went to copy the result, I screwed up and lost it. Since I couldn't get back to the Results page, I had to retake the quiz and ... you guessed it ... I got a different result.

Apparently I was a Utilitarist the second time, but I tied between Existentialism and Justice the first time (with the tie breaker question making me an Existentialist). Utilitarianism was in third place.

Any which way ... between the three, I would have to say, close enough.

You Scored as Utilitarianism

Your life is guided by the principles of Utilitarianism: You seek the greatest good for the greatest number.

“The said truth is that it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.”
--Jeremy Bentham

“Whenever the general disposition of the people is such, that each individual regards those only of his interests which are selfish, and does not dwell on, or concern himself for, his share of the general interest, in such a state of things, good government is impossible.”
--John Stuart Mill

More info at
Arocoun's Wikipedia User Page...




Justice (Fairness)




Divine Command




Strong Egoism


Update: Just had the Kit Kat take the quiz. An interesting experience, some places I had her; some places, she surprised me. But her results? Utilitarianism. Heh.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rudeness = Discrimination?

Not in my book, it doesn't.

But apparently Ken Saunders disagrees.
Ken Saunders decided to leave the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre on Dec. 30 rather than remain a patient after he said a nurse on the neurological unit where he was being trans­ferred made an insensitive com­ment. Three other patients in the unit were women.

The nurse allegedly said, “You shouldn’t mind. You’re a gay male."

Jack Waller, Mr. Saunders’ common-law partner of eight years, took him to the emergency department on the advice of their family doctor after Mr. Saunders had a series of mini­strokes.

After being admitted to a bed on Dec. 29, Mr. Saunders, 52, left the following day without getting the CT scan and angio­plasty he had been waiting for, Mr. Waller said.

Sound a little over the top to you? Maybe just a little bit of an over-reaction?

But wait. There's more.
Mr. Waller, 70, said Mr. Saun­ders got good care and respect in the emergency department. But they were also unhappy with a nurse on the cardiovascular in­patient unit where Mr. Saunders was first admitted.

The nurse allegedly repeated­ly referred to Mr. Waller as his “friend," even after Mr. Saun­ders had told her several times that Mr. Waller was his husband. The couple contacted health authority CEO Chris Power’s of­fice with their concerns and also spoke to a patient representative.
Oh, yeah. Sure. Now that's heavy hitting.

And like denying yourself the required medical care wasn't good enough (talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face), our "friends" started, but then apparently abandoned, the patient complaint process at the hospital and went on to fil­e a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

Yup, that's right. Another human rights complaint.

Listen up, boys. It goes something like this.

I have had a lot of experience with the Nova Scotia health care system. Way more than I ever would have wished for. And I have been treated rudely and unprofessionally on various occasions. By both doctors and nurses.

In fact, after one nurse implied that I was fabricating the 'story' of my daughter's seizures ("Oh no, not that I'm saying you did that, dear. You would have to be crazy to do that") following our return to the ER on the very same day of the Blue Jay's discharge (from the same damn hospital) following a week-long hospitalization for ... wait for it ... seizures, I was more than ready to register a complaint with the hospital.

Months later, that same nurse made rude comments concerning my husband, whom she wrongly assumed was drunk, after he was taken by ambulance to that same ER following a day of severe vomiting and falling. Turns out he had a severe inner ear infection and needed to stay in the hospital overnight for IV fluids and anti-nausea meds. Oops.

Then there was the doctor (same ER, hmm, could I possibly be seeing a pattern here?) who refused to admit the Blue Jay, despite my repeated protests that this was the protocol and what we and her doctors had learned needed to be done) after giving her a medication which he had knocked her out cold and he admitted he had no experience with. Forcing me to carry the dead-weight child out to the car so we could go to our family doctor's office and get the poor girl admitted. As she needed to be.

It wasn't until years later, that I realized that not only was this guy a jerk but also potentially liable for medical malpractice. After a long day of having been admitted but still waiting for a bed to become available, I asked the kid's pediatrician if I could just take her home for the night. And bring her back if when we needed to. I was told that I could only do that if willing to sign a release. Apparently the med she had been given (the very same med given by the jerk doc above) could cause respiratory arrest. Hence, a good reason to have the child monitored by medical types.

Believe me, I could go on.

Of course, I have had wonderful experiences with doctors and nurses, too. People who have touched our lives in ways I will never forget. But that is not the point.

The point is that rude and insensitive remarks do not constitute discrimination. They are simply rude and insensitive remarks. Period. Full stop.

So if Mr. Saunders and his friend partner (sorry, guys, but you're not getting the word 'husband' out of me; you will have to acquire a marriage certificate first) feel they were badly treated and want to complain to the hospital, more power to them, says I. Heaven knows, there were times when I definitely should have.

But stay away from the Human Rights Commission. I happen to be a fan of such institutions, you see. Provided that everyone remembers that the point is to deal with incidents of discrimination. Not rudeness. Not comments that you just don't appreciate.

Or perhaps I am missing something. Perhaps you really do have a right not to be spoken rudely to or not to hear comments you don't like. Perhaps it is discrimination when it happens to you. Just because you're gay.

My daughter and I, on the other hand, have no such rights, do we?

Would you mind explaining that to me one more time? I promise to listen real close ...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thinking Outside The Box

When Harper prorogued [I know, cool word, eh?] Parliament late last year, he and the leaders of the opposition parties might have forgot one tiny thing ... terrorism (or the GWOT or those pesky wars "over there" or whatever you may choose to call it) has not been prorogued. Meaning, it's not about to go away any time soon.

And although, personally, I'm not quite as positive about our new Liberal leader as Danny Eisen (but I am prepared to sit back and give him a chance to show us his stuff - hey, he has to be better than his predecessor), I am somewhat enamoured with this new idea.

Cindy Barkway was five months pregnant with her second child and was in New York on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, while her husband David attended a meeting on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. You can read the rest of her story here.

But she has now banded together with Maureen Basnicki, another 9-11 widow, and other terror victims across Canada to promote a different kind of anti-terror legislative initiative.

These two women and their associates who are members of C-CAT, the Canadian Coalition Against Terror, have taken aim at those who fund and sponsor atrocities like the attacks on Mumbai. The complex and convoluted nature of terrorist financing has made it extremely difficult for our criminal courts to prove the guilt of terror sponsors "beyond a reasonable doubt." Only one person has ever been convicted of this crime in Canada, even though authorities have identified hundreds of millions of terror-related dollars flowing through this country in recent years.

But the legislative initiative proposed by Ms. Barkway and other Canadian terror victims would change that. It would allow Canadian terror victims to launch civil suits against state and local sponsors of terrorism in Canadian courts. In civil action, only the preponderance of evidence is required to successfully find the purveyors of mass murder liable for their actions, to seize their assets and to expose them to the public for what they are. This bill can succeed in deterring terror sponsorship where the criminal justice system has failed to do so. Yet it violates no one’s rights, does not require the firing of a single bullet and does not need the permission of the Governor General.
Civil liability for terrorist acts. Who would've thunk it?

The legislation will soon be re-introduced in the Senate by Senator David Tkachuk. And although I am honestly unsure as to the logistics and the potential, practical effusiveness of such legislation (just how does one go about enforcing a civil judgment against Al-Qaeda, for example), I do hope that the Conservatives, Liberals and other assorted actors will be able to pull their heads out of their own orifices long enough to give it serious consideration.

You have to admit, it is a novel idea. Albeit one that doesn't seem to be receiving much media attention. Although Ms. Barkway appears to be well-known to Canadians in regard to the loss of her husband on September 11th, there isn't much to find in regard to this initiative.

But desperate times, as they say, require desperate measures. Or, perhaps more accurately, it's time to start thinking outside the box and at least consider other possible ways to financially impair the terrorist infrastructure that has hurt us all.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chuckle of the Day

Polygamy is illegal in Canada. Just in case anyone was unaware.

I only mention it because, apparently, Winston Blackmore, isn't so sure. In his mind, out of tens of thousands of polygamists across the country, his religious sect is being targeted, disregarding his basic charter right to religious freedom.
"This is not about polygamy," Blackmore said in a statement to media Thursday. "To us this is about religious persecution."

He said the issue is political.
Umm, no.

Sorry, sir, but I do believe that you might be just a little bit misinformed.

This is about enforcing the criminal law of the country. Something which should have been done long ago. Particularly where, in these types of sects, child marriages are common. Those too violate the law, you see.

As far as your Charter rights go, Mr. Blackmore, you might want to remember that those are subject "to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society".

Reasonable limits. Demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Right. See you at the SCC, sir.

And good luck with that. Not.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's About Time ...

I was pleased (if somewhat surprised) to read this morning that young patients in the IWK (our regional children's hospital) will now be electronically hooked up to their classrooms.

No more missed school, right? Maybe.

The Blue Jay spent a lot of time in hospital, both locally and the IWK, while growing up. In fact, the IWK often felt like our second (and in many months, first) home. And I am a huge fan of the place. Most families might be able to see that they hope and pray they will never have to use it but are just happy to know that it's there. *Just in case*.

Our family says "Thank God that it's there. No, really. Thank you, God".

But of course there will always be some gripes, no matter how good the institution. One of my pet peeves was the Blue Jay's schooling. Or lack thereof.

Being in the hospital four times a year (like clockwork) for two weeks at a time definitely put a crimp in her education. And this was a child who could ill afford it. Take a child who is already delayed, already has difficulty learning and add in the regression caused by each bout of seizures. Not a pretty picture, even without taking into account the missed school time. And the week of post-ictal psychosis (there now, isn't that a nice term?) after coming home.

The IWK had a teacher, you see. One teacher.

Consider this. In 2003, there were "approximately 4,500 babies delivered at the IWK and Maritime children, women, youth and newborns spend approximately 260,000 days as inpatients or in clinics at the Health Centre". So, yeah. That's a few kids, I suppose. All to be served by one teacher.

So there were rules. We must have rules, mustn't we?

Time blurs the memory. Or maybe I just work hard to forget that time in our lives. But it went something like this ... you had to have been in the hospital for one week before you were eligible for the service. One week of missed school.

Okay, but what if you had already spent a total of two weeks in hospital that school year? But in your local hospital, not the IWK. "Hmm, good question, let us check into that."

"Oh wait, we know the answer. Your local school board will provide that service. Here's the name and contact number." With such a bright smile. Such helpful people. So pleased with themselves.

The only problem being that I was well-acquainted with this particular contact at the local school board and knew how far that would get me. I knew they didn't "offer that service". But you go through motions anyway. So you can be told "No" and take that response back to the hospital.

Actually as I recall, we finally did get that worked out. The IWK agreed that the Blue Jay would be automatically eligible for the services of a teacher if she had spent a total of seven days in any hospital that school year. Which was good.

Ironically that occurred just at the time that we got the Blue Jay's seizures under some semblance of control. Meaning a lot less two-week long hospitalizations. Not that I'm complaining. Not about that.

But let's just be clear here.

When we talk about the services of a teacher, that which we worked so hard to get, we are talking about one half-hour two to three times a week. So I don't think I was shooting for the moon here. And were we, ultimately, successful? Sure. After a lot of advocacy. Did I mention it took a lot? As an inordinate amount of time and mental energy? Right.

But wait, things are better now. Right?
The IWK launched the Child Life Interactive Computers for Kids pro­gram on Tuesday. The program al­lows patients to see and talk to their teachers and peers with a computer while they’re in the hospital.

The IWK is the first hospital in the Atlantic provinces to adopt the program.
With the click of a mouse, patients can listen and participate in the day’s lesson.

Austin Husbands, 9, tested out the virtual classroom, waving to all his friends at Sycamore Lane Elemen­tary School in Lower Sackville when they gave him a raucous hello. “It’s good because I can see my classmates and be with them," Aus­tin said.

The eager student said he misses French class the most because he wants to learn Canada’s other offi­cial language.

He’ll be able to do that by booting up a laptop at the hospital, connect­ing to a wireless network and using a webcam to be a part of the class.

It's great to see Microsoft contribute $400,000 to set the hospital up with the equip­ment and Aliant contribute $200,000 to provide Internet service. The program equips the hospital with a wireless network, hardware, software, technical support, Xbox systems and age-appropriate games.And the Microsoft funding also pays for a three-year contract for an individual to oversee the program and teach patients how to make the most of it.

But will it help that segment of the IWK in-patient population who, like the Blue Jay, require the services of a one-on-one teaching assistant? Even when they are actually physically present in the classroom with their teacher and peers?

Maybe not so much.

Nine-year-old Austin is quoted in the article as saying "“Technology is a powerful thing when used for good".

Know what, Austin? I agree completely. And I will even raise you one. Technology is a real boon to kids like the Blue Jay.

But just as the school often seemed to delight in telling me that it was just one of many tools to be used, might I suggest that as wonderful as this new program at the IWK will be, it won't be, it can't be, the be all and end all.

That the hospital will still require the services of a a real teacher (or two). A physical body with the appropriate training and experience. In the hospital. To help that large segment of their in-patient population for whom a wireless network, hardware, software and technical support will not be enough. At least that's my (admittedly somewhat) warped perspective.

But the Xbox? Cool. Appreciate that, Microsoft.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Note To Parliament: Get a Job Life

You know it must be bad when Jon Stewart makes fun of you. Okay, okay, he does like to poke fun at Canadians a fair but but still ... a whole show devoted to us?!

At any rate, I certainly was reminded of the Daily Show shenanigans when reading this column. Reading this column and nodding my head vigorously in agreement. After all, it wasn't that long ago, that I was saying essentially the same thing. "Do your job already, will ya?"

And since then, it's only gotten worse. Just ask Stewart.

But sometimes, they just say it so much better than I ever could.

First, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to add the word "consensus" to his vocabulary. He does not have a mandate to govern like a bully any more than the opposition has a mandate to overthrow him.

It’s reasonable to expect Harper to find ways of getting things done by working with the opposition parties rather than by running roughshod over them.

It’s time, for the good of Canada, for Harper to learn that there are better ways to lead than by crisis and confrontation.

Admittedly, the opposition often objects for the simple sake of objection. But with the country tiptoeing on the edge of an economic trap door, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and even Gilles Duceppe should be looking for ways to go beyond their base self-interest.

Canada needs this right now. This is a time when authentic leadership is required to help the country get through the economic challenges in its path.

Canadians do not agree that any one party has all the answers, a fact plainly demonstrated in the minority election result.

All of the parties claim they know best how to steer the country. But it is rank presumption for any one party to claim it has a monopoly on solutions. Quite the opposite: There’s more likely wisdom in the team.
So, yeah. What he said.

By the way, does anyone know when they are going to send the young'uns in for the night so the adults can actually govern the country for once? Sheesh ...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year’s Prayer

Dear Lord, please give me…

A few friends who understand me and remain my friends;

A work to do which has real value,
without which the world would be the poorer;

A mind unafraid to travel,
even though the trail be not blazed;

An understanding heart;

A sense of humor;

Time for quiet, silent meditation;

A feeling of the presence of God;

The patience to wait for the coming of these things,
With the wisdom to recognize them when they come.

Shamelessly borrowed from bc at Lex's