Friday, July 25, 2014

[Personal Ramble] Cancer attacks the nice gene.

Sometimes I think Cancer looks for the nice gene.

I recently lost another friend to cancer, bringing the count up to four. I'm lucky, that count is much lower than some people's. All of the people I lost, however, were wonderful people. They were givers, they wanted to help others, they wanted to save lost animals, they wanted to help up the fallen. They were a shoulder to lean on, an ear to cry to, and often very good voices of wisdom. When you go to them to offer them a shoulder in return they just smiled and said they'd rather concentrate on something not their own problems and try to help you with yours.

I have chronic pain (pain that never goes away), I have mobility issues, I have brain issues, but none of them are likely to kill me any time soon. I have three friends who are in remission but never quite know and two friends deep in treatment who I'm very scared for. Again, all of them are very nice and wonderful people. They were wonderful before the cancer and have become even more so during the fight. When I was looking for a ride to/from the hospital for my surgery one of those in chemo friends offered to drive an hour and a half each way to help me out, offered to stay on my ridiculously uncomfortable futon to watch me for the night, and then go home. That's above and beyond. I had another friend, in remission, offer to drive further to do similar.

Obviously, I have some pretty awesome friends.

I'm selfish. I don't want to be worrying about my friends. I don't want them to be sick. They don't deserve to be sick. They deserve to healthy, happy, bouncy, friendly, generous, caring individuals who get to live without tubes and tests.

But why does cancer attack them?  I can only figure it looks for people with the nice gene and goes for them first.

Friday, July 11, 2014

[Personal Ramble] Empathy.

I can tell you the exact day I learned empathy. I was in the shower trying to wash my hair. I had recently smashed my elbow into chunks in an attempt to roller blade. I couldn't do it, my elbow just wouldn't work so I couldn't wash my my hair. Previous to this, I'd just worked through the pain, put on a stiff upper lip, sucked it up, and a whole host of other phrases that meant 'don't be a wimp, you could do it if you really wanted to.' Well, I really wanted to wash my hair, but it wasn't happening. My body just wasn't cooperating with me, I physically could not wash my hair. My Mum must have heard me crying or just fumbling because she knocked on the door and asked if I needed help and I said yes. She ended up washing my hair for me. I think what I most remember is that my RN mother didn't ask if I *wanted* help, but did I *need* help. There's a significant difference.

To this day the phrase 'suck it up' screams of a lack of empathy to me. The 'I don't want to deal with your problems, so just make your problems go away' attitude. Yes, sure, a lot of times someone can just push through and work through the problem and do it. But, what is wrong with them working around the problem, doing it a different way? Why should someone deal with true distress rather than finding another route? And what if they can't suck it up to make it go away?

I was recently told by a friend that I CHOSE this life. She never did explain how I chose to fark up my back, be bipolar or get fibromyalgia amongst a host of other problems, but apparently I'm a lay about who mooches off the face of society. I guess I should suck it up.

It never ceases to amaze me the attitudes when it comes to welfare and disability. In most people's mind they seem to think welfare is a trip to easy street. I haven't looked at the process in the last ten years, but it was ridiculously hard back then, I doubt it's gotten any easier under our conservative "BC Liberal Party." Disability is even harder to get. People seem to think that once you get your cheque you're happy to sit on your ass and never work again. I can't speak for anyone else, but I get bored, I get restless, I start bouncing off the walls. I get depressed. And I go find work, I work for a while and I fail at it. My last on the job attempt I had an orthosurgeon tell me to stop or I'd be having more back surgery before I'm 40. ("I'm 38." "Exactly.") Online attempts go even worse. But I should suck it up, right? I should be able to just magically make my body and mind work right and enable me to be a productive member of society.

As much as I wish people without empathy could understand that you can't just magically make your body work when it betrays you, I'm also kind of happy they can't understand. It means they haven't had the trauma or tragedy that would bring the understanding. It means they've always been able to "suck it up" and plow through.  The other thing they never seem to consider is just because one person works one way and can work past x to do y, it doesn't mean another can. If all of our bodies worked the same way, if we all could do everything if we just wanted to and worked on it, we'd all be throwing 100 mp/h fast balls in the MLB.

And of course, by posting this, I'm sure I'm just adding to my "drama whore" reputation. But that's okay, my fellow sufferers can relate and we all know we're not alone and would help wash each others hair as necessary.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

[Personal Rant] Me and Education.

I loved my teachers - they were awesome people, but yeah.

When we came to Canada, the Edmonton Public School System insisted my brother and I be put in with our age groups rather than tested to see where we were educationally. I sat on my ass and didn't learn a dang thing for over two years. I was bored, I was restless, I had no interest in doing work I already knew how to do.

By the time I hit high school (grades eight through twelve) I'd managed to learn to fake my way through the stuff I could care less about or already knew so I could just sit and read instead. My attitude was, if I bring home a 96%, I get a 'What happened to the other 4%?' so what's the difference between that and a 'What happened to the other 20%'? I may as well read and enjoy myself.

I learned to do the absolute bare minimum of the crap to get to the good stuff. I excelled at anything that involved reading or writing since those were my interests, I bombed at anything that required dry reading and spewing forth back what I'd read. Why should I write out the seven different types of glaciers when you can just look in a book? If I were writing a report on Archduke Ferdinand, I would look up the dates before I published the report, it's been well established, so why should I remember them? It was an exercise in recitation, not learning, to me. That the government said I HAD to learn certain things seemed silly. I enjoyed courses like Business Education and Consumer Education that taught us practical use of money, how to buy a car, how to shop for real estate, practical every day things we would use. Things that you can't pick up in a book.

By the time I hit grade 10, I was skipping classes. I was BORED. They didn't challenge me. I learned more online than I ever did in school. I learned more at the library. I learned more from my older than me friends. I learned more from observation of people. I took courses early. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. Trying to do grade 11 physics with only the knowledge of grade 9 math is a no go. I tried it again when I was just starting to learn grade 10 math. But the class, both times, very quickly left me behind.  The other students already learned things like formulas and how to manipulate them while I was struggling with trying to memorize all the various variations of the formulas. Half the time I wasn't told all the variations because it was assumed I already knew how to find them on my own. It hit my teen age ego pretty hard that I couldn't do this, it didn't even occur to me I couldn't do it because I didn't have the prerequisite knowledge, I just thought it was because I wasn't a science or math person. To this day I still don't associate myself with the ability to do anything math related. I can do algebra in my head, but I'm not a math person. I saw my brother seemingly sailing through the maths and sciences and getting the praise of my parents while I was getting told I wasn't trying hard enough. In most cases, that'd have been true, but in this case, I was trying to climb a mountain with no rope.

I skipped more and more classes through grade 11 and grade 12. I got asked 'why' a lot, but how do you tell your teachers that you're bored? How do you confide anything in parents when your parents just turn around to the teachers and say "She says she's BORED." which just insults the teachers. I didn't want to insult my teachers, I liked my teachers. I knew if I had a problem I could identify or they could fix, they'd be there for me. I, however, also knew that they were trapped by the system. They had to teach for the provincial testing at the end of the semester. They had to have us know certain things in certain ways by a certain time. They had 32 - 35 students per class to teach this to.

They were trying their best for me, but I'd become so disconnected and so out of caring by that point, there wasn't much they could do. It didn't help hearing "Your brother could.." or "Your brother scored.."  Dave is a wonderful, generous, kind, and fantastic big brother. He's a very intelligent, very quick witted, and very driven individual. He retains knowledge like a sponge does water. I'm a lot like my brother, but I don't have his drive and stubbornness for completing things. If I don't see a point to something, I just won't do it. Self-defeating, but there it is. I didn't see the point in counting thirty-seven beans the book just told us there were thirty-seven of, so I wouldn't count and would get a crappy grade.

It was never the fault of the teachers. They tried. In my years in school I met only a few teachers I actively disliked, and that's because they didn't listen. Hindsight tells me they were burned out by the demands and the system and were now just going through the motions. Of course, they may also have been frustrated with the strange child/teen who did the bare minimum to get a C+ or B , who could have achieved much better grades but had far more interest in computers than already long established facts. But they tried.

[Personal Rant] House of Cards Review.

So - I watched the first season of House of Cards. I didn't enjoy it. I wouldn't say I didn't like it, but I didn't dislike it either. I think, mostly, because it didn't cause any huge emotional reaction in me either way.

It didn't touch me. Mini-spoiler, but the first scene pretty much summed up the show to me. A dog is hit by a car (hit and run), the Congressman and his security agent find the dog and the Congressman kills it to put it out of its misery.  And the first thought that hit my head was "TAKE IT TO A VET, YOU *Q&#*!!E#@#!" The dog was alive enough to be whimpering, it was probably alive enough to be treated. Guarantee of saving? Of course not, but just killing it yourself? The scene was probably supposed to establish the Congressman as a practical, driven, man. That wasn't at all all the impression it left *me* with.

Without further spoilering, my other issue was the story-telling. It's very much like you're traveling down highway 1, and you're watching the scenery, you stop at a few small towns, you enjoy the quaint cupcakes, and then BAM! Oh, sorry, you were on Highway 3 all along. No, there was no indication that town of Millbury was actually Luxersen, but y'know just deal. Fine, okay, a little shock/suspense is okay, so Highway 3, got it. Oh, no, sorry, Highway 3 is actually Highway 17, you can tell by the complete lack of evidence ever given. The constant changing of tracks with no evidence or forewarning makes me so much less likely to engage the story in the future. What's the point? It's already been established as a lie three times.Yes, it makes sense, yes it fits, but no foreshadowing? No weaving it in, just bam, change? No thank you.

I also seriously don't get why Claire stays with her husband. At every turn he says its a partnership, but it's never about her wants or needs, they always take a backseat. Its always about his path, his power, she just gets to come along for the ride and enjoy it. She's either in it for a bask at his power, or she's deluded and I can't decide which. It strikes me as an emotionally abusive relationship and the only way you could get me to watch season two would be the word "Oh, she leaves him and totally owns his ass."

However, since the patriaricial writing will doubtfully not do that, it all really adds up to the chances of my watching season two being somewhere between none and non-existent.

The show would make much more sense if it were about Putin's rise to power than a Congressman's attempt. Seriously.

Monday, February 10, 2014

[Humour] Valentine's Day.

Some Valentine's poems to help you get ready!

1. My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife:

Marrying you has screwed up my life.

2. I see your face when I am dreaming.

That's why I always wake up screaming.

3. Kind, intelligent, loving and hot;

This describes everything you are not.

4. Love may be beautiful, love may be bliss,

But I only slept with you 'cause I was pissed.

5. I thought that I could love no other

-- that is until I met your brother.

6. Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.

But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's

empty and so is your head.

7. I want to feel your sweet embrace;

But don't take that paper bag off your face.

8. I love your smile, your face, and your eyes

Damn, I'm good at telling lies!

9. My love, you take my breath away.

What have you stepped in to smell this way?

10. My feelings for you no words can tell,

Except for maybe 'Go to hell.'

11. What inspired this amorous rhyme?

Two parts vodka, one part lime.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

[Consumer Rant] Why I (still) don't have a smart phone.

I went into the Rogers Plus store on December 30th to open an account and get a new phone. I wanted a Blackberry for the external keyboard. The very nice gentleman, Kyle, politely recommended I consider an Android device but I said no, I want the keyboard. He said okee dokee, if that's what I want. He then tried to open my account. After spending over an hour and a half on the phone with one agent after another we find the reason I can't get an account without a $200 deposit is because I owe $34 to Fido. If I'd been smart I'd have phoned Fido and paid them by credit card then and there. Instead, I decided I needed to investigate.

I tried the Fido store in the local mall, but their entire purpose, like the useless Rogers Kiosk, is to sell phones. They're representatives, they're not even corporate. So I phone. Basically, it boiled down to my LG Neon died so I ended my contract early. When the contract end date game up, there was an additional charge and that notification went to the address on file. That address, at that point, was a burnt husk of a trailer. My forwarding was no longer in effect, so who knows where that notification ended up. I never received it. Fine, whatever, I paid it to Fido. It was a legitimate charge and a miscommunication.

I go BACK to the Rogers Plus store, I deal with Ashley this time, another very nice Rogers corporate employee. I let them know it's been sorted out with Fido and give them the confirmation number. Poor Ashley still has to jump through half a dozen hoops, talk on the phone, deal with hold times, but after an hour, I have a lovely Blackberry and off I go.

I use it for three days and I hate it. If Blackberry went Android, they wouldn't go bankrupt. The OS is not intuitive, the apps are second rate and cost more than they would on Android, and basically, it's slow and lacking. I loved the keyboard however. So, with the buyer's remorse clause in hand, back I go to the Rogers Plus store in Abbotsford. I tell Amber that Ashley and Kyle were right, I was wrong, and can I please switch for a different phone. I decided on a Sony Xperia SP and with a lot less paperwork and hassle than the last two times.

I get home and I find the top band of the phone's touch screen isn't working. I try several different online suggestions on how to fix it, but no, nothing is working. Guess what? Yup, back to Rogers Plus I go. I show the phone to Amber, and the problem. She and her co-worker (whose name I didn't get, but he has excellent taste in music!) try several things but agree it's broken. Problem is, that was her last Sony. I either have to go up to a pricer per month phone plan or I have to get a Blackberry because that's all they have left of their "price picks."

Now, I already think that $45/mo is a stupid price. $55 or more? No, thank you.  Not only do I think it's ridiculous, it's out of my budget. Amber suggests I phone Rogers directly and order from them since she can't control inventory. I agree to that, thank her for her patience and help and to pass on my thanks to the rest of the staff.

It is now January 9th. I've been trying to get a phone for ten days now.  I order the phone via the website, we get everything sorted out by a couple of phone calls and I supposedly have an account and a phone coming my way.

By January 28th, I'm wondering where my phone is. I realize it can take up to 10 business days to ship and arrive but I've received NO WORD at all. So, having had enough, I try the online support and get a nice person telling me I have to phone a certain department. Okay, so I phone that department and get another nice person (I'll say this for Rogers, they hire good people for their customer service!) who sorts through the mess and says my account is still flagged as 'tentative.' For whatever reason, the account got bounced back to the boss of the lady I started my account with and he never did anything. He'd have gotten notifications and emails and he just sat on it.

And that folks, is when I ran out of patience. I'd been trying to get a phone for nearly a month. I'd spent almost three hours in driving. I'd spent four hours with Rogers Customer Service in one shape or another. I'd waited, I'd phoned, I'd written, I'd driven, I'd done a ridiculous amount of everything to try and get an account and phone with Rogers. I'd run out of enthusiasm.. especially when the agent I was on the phone with said there's nothing she can do, that guy, who ever he is, has to do his thing, she can't do it for him.  It shouldn't be this hard to get a phone and an account.

But, I'm rather impressed, they actually made Telus look good.