Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sticks and Stones

Hello dear reader

I have struggled mightily with this article.  I have stewed over the content, the format, the font size, the font color and whether or not to use English or Swahili.  OK, mostly it has been content and format that I've pondered.  What am I talking about you ask?  Well, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you will have seen a post or tweet I made recently regarding mean spirited kids and the home-schooling option.  It sparked quite the discussion, which I think was a very positive thing.  In that discussion I promised to blog about it.  So, after some debate with myself (I lost said debate), I am sort of ready to write.  And here it opinion.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.  If you have had to say this to anyone, chances are you were saying it defensively.  Chances are you had just been called something not very nice.  Chances are you are the victim of bullying.  In my humble opinion, bullying is running rampant through our society, through our schools, through our churches and through our homes.  And that statement leads me to ask you the question "What do you consider bullying?"  If your answer reflects the physical act of pushing, hitting or intimidating others, then I say you are barely right.  Yes, bullying is a physical thing.  But I firmly believe that physical bullying is on it's way out of society.  Community leaders, educators, church leaders and parents have all been made aware of the danger of allowing physical bullying, and are very cognizant of it...if they see it happen, they do their best to stop it from happening.  And trust me, this is a very good thing.  Being bullied physically is a very hard thing to go through.

But now I ask you "How about verbal abuse?"  If you reply with a 'Pfft", or 'Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me", then I've got news for you.  Verbal abuse is the form of bullying that is much more damaging than physical.  Verbal abuse is much harder to catch.  Verbal abuse is much maligned as 'we're just teasing'.  In our society, our schools, our churches and our homes, verbal bullying or abuse is almost 'chic'.  If you're not teasing the 'weaker' kid, you're just not cool.  You can't fit in with our crowd unless you help us make that boy cry, or get mad.  If you're not with us, you're against us.  Wow.  Talk about pressure.  Talk about being drawn into something that we may know is wrong, but our own sense of self-preservation forces us to give in and join in.  Talk about wrong.

There are many questions I could ask at this point.  Such as "What makes you better than that boy?" or,'What gives you the right to call that girl stupid?'.  And those are just a couple questions I would ask the kids.  How about the parents?  I could ask questions of them as well.  'How are you educating your child(ren) at home about respecting other kids?'  'What sort of training mechanism do you have to steer your child(ren) clear of this behavior?'   There are questions, but I'm not sure they are being asked.  And if they are being asked, the answer is wrong.

Please don't get me wrong...I understand that there is a difference between friendly banter / mild teasing and verbal abuse.  But, the line is very, very thin.  What hurts me or my child may not hurt you or your child.  And that line is what needs to be addressed.  How do we define it?  Can we come up with a clear definition of that line?  A definition which community leaders, educators, parents and children all can understand, agree to and adhere to?  Nope, I don't think we can.  But I think we can teach awareness.  We can empower the bullies to take a step back from their hate (yes, I call it hate for a reason).  And we can provide the bullied the tools to deal with the drivel that spewed at them.

The education of bullies and bullied starts with us as parents.  I need to teach my kids that calling someone names is unacceptable.  But I need to teach this in a tangible fashion.  It is not enough to tell them 'Don't call anyone mean things'.  I'm sorry...that goes in one ear and out the other.  I have recently been engaging in role plays with my kids.  Not to the point where they get hurt by what I say, but so that they get the message.  And I will continue to do this, because once or twice is not enough.  It needs to be an on-going conversation with our kids.  I also need to teach my kids how to handle the verbal abuse.  Again, we have started to do some role play.  I am trying to teach them to mentally throw the words in the garbage, and tell themselves the opposite.  So, if someone calls you stupid, turn away, throw the word in the garbage and say 'I am not stupid, I am smart'.  It is not the only method.  It may not even work for my kids.  But the key is that I have to try.  And I have to continue to try.

I believe that our schools have done a good job in stamping out bullying.  I don't think too many kids are getting beat up on the playground anymore.  Nobody is punching a kid in the eye on the school bus.  No, dear is much more subtle than that.  And as much as we'd like to blame the school for not doing their job, I think we need to blame ourselves for not doing our jobs.  There are many tools and programs available to deal with this...both from a bullies perspective and the bullied perspective.  But it starts with you and me as parents.  Teach your children.  Educate them.  Empower them.  How many of our children have to feel the ravaging effects of depression before we catch on?  Do any of our children have to take their own lives before we as parents learn?  Think it won't happen?  Take off your rose colored glasses.  We live in a sinful world.  There is no Utopia.  There is no perfection.  Pay attention to your children's behaviour.  Is he or she a bully?  Is he or she being bullied?  If so, we need to converse among ourselves as parents.  We need to work together to stamp it out.  We need to love our children.

I could say much more, dear reader.  I have some very strong opinions on this subject.  And maybe some day I will write more about it as I learn more about it.  You may disagree with me, you may agree with me.  That is your right.  But please, don't abuse me because of what I am, or what I believe, or what I write.  Sticks and stones will break my bones...and words will quite often hurt me.


PS:  I'd love to interact with you on this article.  The comment section is open.  I moderate it, and need to approve every comment.  But, if the comment is relevant (whether in agreement or disagreement), I will publish it.  And I hope to interact with every comment.  Keeping up the dialogue is important.  Let's work together.  FF


Friday, October 21, 2011

Athletic Supporters

Good afternoon, dear reader

It was the result of a tweet from @GirlOnATerrace that prompted me to write this article. This tweeter is an English lass who is a lifelong fan of Rochdale AFC. She blogs about the team, follows the team, knows the team. She is truly a fan. I have never met her, and probably never will. But her standards in regards to sports teams is something I admire. And so I decided to write about it...not about her, but about sports teams, their fans and how I view myself as an athletic supporter. Read on, dear reader. Even though you might disagree.

I am a sports fan.  Always have been, always will be.  I love watching sports, and I used to love playing sports.  I've played a lot of different (or football to my British readers) and hockey being the main ones.  I was never very good at hockey, but I could hold my own on the pitch.  I could run like the wind, hoof the ball a mile and pass with pinpoint accuracy.  At least, that's how I remember it.

As I got older, I drifted away from playing sports, and became a supporter.  But, I don't think I was or am a typical fan.  You see, I cheer and I exhort my team on to glory.  I enjoy victories, titles, trophies and promotions.  And yes, I do cheer for some 'big' teams.  I cheer for the Calgary Flames (and have since they were in Atlanta).  I cheer for Liverpool FC.  I cheer for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays.  I cheer...I really do.  I was in Calgary for the celebration in Olympic Park when the Flames won the Stanley Cup in '89.  I was in Toronto on Yonge Street for one of the World Series parades for the Blue Jays.  So, as you can see...I do cheer.

But all this begs the question...what if the teams I cheer for don't win?  What if the 'big' teams don't achieve titles, trophies and promotions?  What if the highly paid athletes that I spur on don't achieve what I think they should?  Well, the answer is simple.  I don't give a rip.  That's right...I could not care less.  I do not get weepy and morose for days on end when the Flames miss the playoffs yet again.  When Liverpool falls outside the top 5 in the Premier league, and miss out on lucrative Europa League football, and on the even more lucrative Champions League guessed it, I don't care.  I do not lose any sleep over it.  I don't shed a tear.  I don't even get a little bit sad.  Because. I. Don't. Care.

However, I do start to care a little bit more when I am cheering for a minor league hockey team, or a lower league football club.  And before you go off screaming double standards, hear me out.  You see, for me, a big part of sports is tied up in money.  Teams go about buying their way to victories, titles, trophies and promotions.  And I have a real hard time caring for teams that didn't quite spend enough to beat the next guy.  But the minor or lower leagues is a little different.  In hockey, they are playing for the privilege of making millions, but they play with their heart.  They put everything they can into it.  They present a different side to the game than the pro's do.  In soccer (or football for my readers overseas), the lower league clubs play for a lot less wages than the pro's do...but they play with more heart, more desire and more effort in a lot of cases.

Do you see the difference, dear reader?  The young lass I mentioned in my introduction cheers for Rochdale AFC, a 3rd tier football team from Northern England.  She lives there and she stays loyal.  Oh, she could choose to cheer for Manchester United or Manchester City, two of the 'big' clubs that are right next door.  Heck, Liverpool and Everton are just down the road.  But she cheers for the little club.  She is not drawn in by the 'glory' that allegedly comes with the money the big clubs spend.

And I feel the same way.  I would rather cheer for the 'little' teams.  That is why I will get a little more unhappy with a poor Lethbridge Hurricanes showing.  That is why I was over the moon when Rochdale got promoted a couple years back from League Two after 39 years.  Buying a title or a trophy is not sport, in my opinion.  It is business.  Paying obscene amounts of money for a player, or paying a player obscene amounts of money is not sport, in my opinion.  Playing hard to get those opportunities is one thing...the heart is there, the desire is burning and the paycheck is smaller.  Don't get me wrong...not all highly paid athletes just go through the motions.  There are many examples of them that work hard at their craft.  And I respect that.  But I respect more those that play for a lot less.  And put in just as much effort.

Maybe I'm way off base here.  Maybe some of you will think I have no idea what I'm talking about.  And you may be right.  But, this is my opinion.  This is the way I feel.  This is how I choose to be an athletic supporter.  How about you?


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Adventures in iPad

Good afternoon dear reader

When the iPad first was launched I was a skeptic.  Not only was I a skeptic, but I was a critic of the device and of people who bought the device.  I really didn't see any use for the iPad...other than as a status symbol.  After all, what good was it?  Oh, there were apps.  More and more apps were coming out all the time.  But I was not sold, and  I was not ever going to buy such a useless device.  Read on, dear reader...let's talk iPad.

As I said in my introduction, I was a vocal critic of the iPad.  And I must admit that my opinion was not based on experience with the device, for I had very little of that.  I had never used an iPhone or an iPod or an iPod Touch.  I have an old Mac G4 running Leopard, but that is it for my recent Apple experience (I do not count the Apple IIc I learnt on in high school...that's a long time ago).

And so, I vocalized how useless a device like an iPad would be.  It cannot ever replace a laptop or a desktop computer.  It had no USB ports.  It could not display websites that use Flash technology.  It had no expandable storage.  Really?  64GB was the maximum?  Yes, dear reader...I despised the iPad.  And anyone who bought one I labelled as silly.  These people obviously had too much money.  The obviously were more interested in the status symbol that accompanied the iPad...because apparently only the cool kids bought one.  And the rich kids, but the two go hand in hand usually.

My opinion did not change with the launch of the iPad 2.  After all, there was still no USB ports, no expandable storage, no Flash.  But there was a second camera!!  Sigh.  When would Apple get it right and make a device that I deemed useful?  After all, it was all about me...obviously my opinion was the only one that counted.  The millions of iPad owners were blinded by Apples marketing...they fell for it.  I didn't.  I win.  Or did I?

Dear reader, I was wrong.

In the summer of 2011, one of the schools I work in let me take home one of their iPad 2's.  They said 'Use it for the summer, play with it, work with it, learn it'.  I did that.  I told myself that I would go into the summer with my eyes wide open.  I would find as many uses for the iPad as I could.  I would prove to myself that I was right or wrong.  But I did give it a fair chance.

And so, I bought apps.  I started following the AppStore on Twitter.  I used the iPad in meetings, I used it on holidays, I used it at home.  My kids played games on it, my wife played games on it.  We actually liked it.  Over the course of the summer, I discovered more uses for the iPad than I ever thought possible.  Because of the long battery life, I can use it in meetings without worrying about my laptop battery dying.  I use Dropbox to access my files in a secure manner, thus the issue of no expandable storage is alleviated.  When we were camping, we played games on it during a rain storm (inside the camper of course).  My wife and I have had countless games of Scrabble on it. I bought an Office suite for it that is fully compatible with MS Office and integrates with Dropbox.  It was brilliant.

Yes, dear reader...I was wrong.  I found out over the course of the summer that the iPad was an invaluable tool.  I was sad that I would have to give it back to the school soon.  And so I made a choice.  I made a choice that I had promised myself I would never make.  I bought an iPad.  I bought the 32GB model with no 3G network.  And I keep finding more uses for it.  I would not want to do without it.

I was wrong.  Millions of people were right.  Kudos to Apple on a brilliant device.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Story Spinner

Hello dear reader

This is a brief introduction to the Story Spinner category.  I mentioned it briefly in my Fifafan 2.0 article, but here is where I will get into the nitty gritty of it.

What is it?  Well, it is something new for me.  My plan is to have a plot randomly generated for me through different websites and programs...and then to write about it.  Judging by some of the results I've gotten from the generators, it could be a lot of fun.  Or it could be not a lot of fun.  But it will force me to write about things I've never thought about before.

Are you wondering why it doesn't go under the My Muses category?  Well, in my most humble opinion, what I am going to write is not a muse.  It is not a blog article.  It is a story.  And thus, it merit's a category all on it's own.

I encourage you, dear reader, to follow this category closely.  And I encourage and entreat you to interact with the stories.  Give me advice, give me criticism, give me encouragement.  I want to grow as a writer.  Not only will you be my audience, but you will be my critics.  So let's have some fun with this.

Hopefully, the first story will be written within the next 2 weeks.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Fifafan 2.0

Good evening dear reader

Before I begin, I must give props to my friend James.  He is the one who inspired the title.  He dubbed it Fifafan 2.0 on a Facebook I borrowed it.  Thanks, James.  Next time I see you, I'll buy you a beer.  Now that I'm done that part...welcome.  Welcome to my new site.  It has been quite a while in my mind, and almost as long in production.  And now today, I go live with the new site.  Is it done?  By no means.  Is it different?  Oh yeah.  Read on, dear reader.  Let me take you through some changes and some plans.

Fifafan 2.0 was born quite some time ago, and it was born in the usual manner...starting as a mere thought, which led to a discussion, which in turn went into some practice runs.  And out of the practice runs came this...the site as you see it right now.  And Fifafan 2.0 will grow, it may mature and it may even show signs of wisdom.  This is how you know it is mine.

A quick tour of the site is in order.  At the top right of the page is the main menu, and this where you get from place to place.  The Home page is...obvious.  The Ramblings page is where the actual blog is located.  It contains 3 sub-menus:  Article Index, which is where you can see a list of all the articles on the blog; Cancer - Our Journey, which is the original blog I wrote throughout Dianne's journey through cancer; and My Musings, which is where the majority of my writings not cancer related will be.

The About Me page is a very brief auto-biography, and the Contact Me page is a form in which you can, me.  Pretty simple stuff, really.

What do you think so far?  Personally I like it.  It is fresh, it is clean.  And I love working in WordPress.  But, I am not done yet, dear reader.  We've been through some let's go through some plans.

Are you wondering where my picture gallery is?  Or my polls?  Well, as of right now, I am not sure they are coming back.  Thus, any article I wrote on the old site pertaining to pictures or polls will not be posted...yet.  If I find a gallery plugin or a poll plugin that I am happy with, I will re-post the old articles as well as new ones.  So, that is one plan...tentative, but still a plan.

The other plan is something that my friend Richard inspired in me.  You see, he was showing me a cool piece of software in his classroom that basically was a story spinner.  Spin the 4 wheels and come up with a plot that one must write a short story about.  This is definitely something I am going to implement.  And soon.  There will be a sub-category under Ramblings called Story Spinner, and this will contain the stories.  There is nothing quite like getting the creative juices flowing by writing about random plots involving random people in random locations.  Plus it forces me to write, and will help me grow as a writer.  Watch for this could be good.

You do have the option of registering on the site.  It doesn't serve much benefit right now, but eventually I am hoping to have guest writers...and it could be you.  You also have the option of commenting on most articles.  And I encourage you to participate in this way.

The site is changing, dear reader.  It might change on a daily basis, or it might not change for a week.  But change it will.  And I will write.  I welcome you to the new  I hope you enjoy your visits.  I know I'm going to enjoy being back.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Simple Muse

Hello again, dear reader.  As I sit here by the dying fire, I contemplate.  I muse.  I react in words to the thoughts in my head.  And so, this article could be a real potpourri of words, thoughts and ideas.  Bear with me, dear reader.  For tonight I have a story to tell, and it is my desire that you come along on this ride.

Before I get too deep into this thing, I should warn you.  This could end at any time tonight.  Oh, it will be continued, but tonights writing could be short.  You see, dear reader, I am tired.  Very tired.  Not that I have been working, nothing could be farther from the truth.  I am actually very relaxed.  Almost like a puddle am I.  After all, I am camping.  My body is sore for some reason, but...I am camping.

Do you like camping, dear reader?  I do.  This year is the first year we have not 'tented'.  My brother-in-law graciously allowed us to use his 5th wheel, and let me tell you, it is awesome!  We never really knew what we were missing because we have never been in anything but a tent.  And now, both my wife and I don't really want to go back to a tent.  Sleeping off the ground, staying dry, having a fridge...these are all creature comforts that did not take us very long to get used to.  I think it was after the first night that we were in 'lots of like' with a holiday trailer.

And so, here I sit, dear reader.  The fire is almost done, and I will not put on more wood.  No, for I too am almost done.  My rye 'n' DP is pretty much empty, my eyelids are heavy, and without the heat from the fire it is freakin' cold.  Yup, almost time to crawl into my nice warm bed.

But there is one more question that needs to be answered, dear reader.  And that question is this:  do I continue this article, or do I start a new one tomorrow?  I suspect that you and I feel the same way about this.  Given my penchant (or lack thereof) for writing lately, I am better off ending this article (after completely reneging on the promised mis-mash of words, thoughts and ideas).  But maybe this simple article will spur me on to write (where have I heard that before?).  Just maybe I will continue in a new article tomorrow.  Just maybe a warm fire will give me motivation.  But right now, a dead fire and an empty glass turns my gaze to my bed.  I will leave you with a glimpse of what was my roaring in it's death throes.  Hopefully my picture turns out.

Good night, dear reader.  And thanks for coming back.


PS:  This was posted to this site by using my phone as a WIFI hotspot.  I love technology.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

So long...and thanks for all the Joomla

Hello dear reader

Alas the time has come.  I must bid you all a fond farewell from this Joomla site.  Most of you have probably noticed that I have written very little over the past little (ok, long) while.  I really thought my creativity and desire was coming back, but it isn't.  I just can't do it anymore.  Honestly, dear reader...I am bored with the site.  I used to have a purpose for writing, for creating the I can't write to save my life and the site has gone stagnant.  And so, Joomla and I bid you au revoir.

But......but wait.  Don't frown.  Don't fret.  Don't freak.

Yes, dear reader...there is a 'but'.  And along with that 'but', did you notice the wording of the aforementioned farewell?  How many of you savvy readers caught it?  (The real question should be 'how many of you care', but I don't want to go there.) No, dear reader, I am not leaving.  I am not quitting.  As a matter of fact, I am hoping to move into a whole new realm of creativity.  I am hoping that by throwing myself a curveball, I will get excited about writing again, stoked to create.  How do I plan on doing this, you ask?  Let me explain.

I have to give a shout out to my friend Lance.  He and I were talking at work, and he threw out the idea of website creation.  He also mentioned WordPress, and how much it has changed and evolved.  And so, I looked into it.  I did a quick install to my website and did a wee bit of poking around.  And you know, dear reader...I could get into this whole WordPress thing.  It is a brand new learning curve for me, but it seems that it will open up more doors for me.  I will be forced to redesign...and that will force me to write.  So, thank you Lance...I really do appreciate it.

So, what becomes of all the work I've done with then?  Well, as of right now, I am planning on keeping the content roughly the same.  I will slowly transfer all my articles over, and along with that, I will also transfer the Cancer Blog over.  How that will all look is still a mystery.  When it will all happen is also undecided.  But it will happen.  I will also have my photo albums.  This is all where the creativity comes in.  We'll just have to see.

At some point in the near future, this site as you know it will go offline.  It needs to go away so that I can implement the new  So let this be notice to you, dear reader.  Some day soon, the site will be gone.  But it will be back...bigger and better.  As I go through the planning stages, I will try update with short snippets here and there.  So check back often.  The work is starting.  And I am excited about it.

Until next time, so long and thanks for all the Joomla.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Patience is a Virtue.

Hello, dear reader

Over the past week or so, I have been feeling it.   Slowly, it is coming back to me.  Oh, some days it is completely not there, but some days it is.  Right now, the 'not there' still outweighs the 'is there', but the balance is changing.  I can't begin to describe the feeling, and that is part of the problem.  My ability to express is on hiatus.  My ability to create went with it.  They must be having a whale of a holiday, because they've been gone a long time.  I suspect they're drinking heavily, and have lost their way.  I'd shine a light for them to follow, but I'm not convinced they'd see it.  Drink will do blinds you.  And so, I wait for the return of my wayward pals.  It is not a patient wait by any stretch.  As a matter of fact, I am getting quite despondent by their absence.  It hurts, dear hurts.  I can't do what I enjoy without my helpers Expressor and Creativity.

But, as I mentioned, I can feel their presence.  Oh, it is not a strong presence, but it is there.  They are coming back.  They are sobering up.  Expressor and Creativity are starting to realize that they belong with me.  But, petulant as they are, they fight it.  They want their own way, and will come back on their terms, not mine.  And thus I will need patience.  I know they'll be back, and that does my heart good.  I miss them.  Soon, dear reader.  Soon.  Soon I will write again.  Soon I will express and create....I will describe, and I will be happy.

But patience is a virtue.  For you and me.



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Going Offline...

Good day, dear reader

This is to inform you that on Friday, August 19, 2011, this website will go offline.  It will be in Maintenance Mode.  Some of you will remember a previous article in which I posted that I am switching from Joomla to WordPress?  Well, it is happening.

How long will I be offline for?  I really don't know.  Maybe a week.  Maybe a month.

But I will be back.  I promise.

See you then!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Why Monday, Why?

Good day, dear reader

On Monday April 4th, I worked.  It was a normal day.  It was a normal Monday.  I was tired, I was grouchy, not much went right at was Monday.  Finally, my work day ended.  I breathed a sigh of relief, packed up my laptop, and walked out of the school I was working it.  It was home time.  True, I had a bit of a drive to get home, but usually it is not horrible.  This day proved not much different.  I got home at the normal time.  As I pulled into my garage, I became a little less grouchy....I only hoped the kids were happy and that my wife was happy.  One is never too sure on a Monday.  For those of you who have followed my blog(s) for the past couple years, you will know that Mondays and I do NOT get along.  No, dear reader, Monday's don't like me and I don't like Mondays.  And so I invite you to read on....learn what Monday did to me this time.

By this time, dear reader, I am walking up my back sidewalk towards my house.  I skirt around the water, and open my door.  Immediately as I walk into my house, I see the lights on downstairs.  Naturally, I look.  Normally I see my deepfreezes, the floor tile and maybe a toy or two.  But no....this time I saw Monday.  In all it's devious glory, I saw Monday.  It laughed.  It chortled.  Monday had the d**m gall to guffaw at me.  And it reared its ugly head in the form of water.  Oh, it was not so cruel this time as to be sewer water, but nevertheless it was water.  The water was being held at bay by towels, but even that was becoming futile.  My poor wife could not keep up with the onslaught.  Every towel we owned was wet.  And Monday kept happening.

I took stock of the situation, and immediately decided that I should get the power bar that my freezers were plugged into out of the water.  One crisis averted.  Then I quickly surveyed the situation, and found where the water was coming in...a spot right at the footing.  Then I decided that towels alone would not help and we needed mechanical assistance....I went to my garage and got my wet/dry vac.  And with that, we managed to get the standing water out of the area, and we could concentrate on the entry point.  We didn't lose anything in the basement except some drywall and floor big deal.  We are very fortunate.  It could have been worse.

I cannot remember all the details of the rest of that day exactly.  I do know that my kids ended up doing a lot of their own supper.  I do know that Dianne made a lot of phone calls trying to get someone to come and fix the problem.  15 calls, 2 people responded.  We managed to get someone booked for Tuesday and for Wednesday to assess the damage.  But, this still left us with the issue of the water pouring into the house.  No, Monday was not over yet.  Not even close.

After we got the inside water under control (sort of), I left Dianne downstairs to keep up with it, and I went outside to see what could be done.  Do you remember, dear reader, at the beginning of my article where I described 'skirting around the water'?  Well, that skirting around turned into wading through.  Even though we had moved snow away from the house all winter, it was still a problem.  I dug a couple small trenches and resevoirs so that the water would flow away from the house, but I couldn't go very far due to the sheer amount of snow piled up in the back yard.  My cousin Sheldon and his son Connor came over and we moved snow...and water.  We found that once we got the outside water under control, it was not going inside near as quick.  Thus the plan became this:  keep the water level outside at an acceptable level, and inside will be good.  Sounds easy, right?  Um, not so much.

I won't bore you with too many more details, dear reader.  Suffice it to say that Dianne and I put in an awful lot of hours keeping the water away from the house.  Turns out that our foundation is cracked....a 7 foot long crack.  We hired a guy to fix it, and included with the job is installing a sump pump, weeping tile, window wells and adjusting the grade slightly.  We will be re-designing the backyard, and spending a lot of time doing it.  At least my house is dry again.  There is much more I could write, but I won't.  After all, it's Monday....and I don't like Mondays.



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Three Fold Purpose

Good evening, dear stranger

Today, the thought came to me that I hadn't written for a while.  Actually, the thought has come to me several times in the past month, but every time I think I feel like writing, I discover how wrong I am.  I just don't have any topics I want to write about.  So, this article is going to serve 3 purposes.  If you're curious, please read on.  If you couldn't care less, please click on this link.

It is plainly obvious that you obviously do care.  I do, however, invite you click on link in the introduction AFTER you have read the remainder of this article.  And without further ado, let's move on to the first of my 3 purposes.

In the introduction, I mentioned that I didn't have any topics to write about.  Well, I am now recruiting you as my dear readers to provide suggestions.  All you need to do is email me at suggestions {at} fifafan {dot} ca with your suggestion, and I will give it due consideration.  Please note that I will most likely NOT write about everything that gets suggested, but I promise to at the very least consider it.  I also promise that, IF your suggestion is accepted, I will somehow work your name into the article, thus giving tribute.  That is, after all, the very least I can do for you.  But also be aware that the topic you provide is open to MY interpretation.  Do you think this could be fun?  Be brave, dear reader.  Be brave.

The second purpose is to update you on the state of my toes.  For those of you who read my Alas....Goodbye article, you will recall the event of my toenail removal.  If you haven't read that article yet, maybe you should consider reading it before carrying on with this one.  You can read Alas...Goodbye here.  Carrying on has been close to 2 months since the surgery, and for a while, infection had set in.  My toes were not healing well at all.  I finally went to see my doctor, and he prescribed me some salve to put on the surgery site, which I had to apply twice per day.  Well, lo and behold....the salve worked miracles!!!  Take a look at the picture: 








Can you believe how well it healed!!!  Not that I am happy about it, mind you.  I did NOT want my nails to grow back.  And look what the left one did.  Does this mean I have to go through more surgery?  No, I don't think so.  Why, you ask?  Well, I'm not proud, but I kind of might of told a wee fib.  It wasn't my idea, honest!!!  But I did execute the idea.  So, let me come clean.  Here are the real pictures.

As you can see, dear reader, my toes are healing nicely.  This week I started keeping them unwrapped, but I think I will continue to wrap the left one for a few days yet.  The right one is not needing the bandages.

And that, dear reader, is the latest update on my toes.

I did say that there was a three fold purpose, right?  Well, for the life of me, I cannot remember what I was going to write about.  So, it seems that this article will only serve a two-fold purpose.  And with that, dear reader, I will be leaving this article.  I sincerely hope that you a) enjoy the toe pics and b) email me some suggestions.  Please, help get the creative juices flowing again.

Until next time.....farewell.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Hello dear reader

Just the other day, I posted an article saying that yes I was around, and yes I will write again.  Who would have thought that my creative juices would start flowing again mere days after that article.  I suppose that the title of this article is a bit mis-leading.  Some of you might read it and say to yourself 'oh no...he's leaving!!'.  Fret not, dear reader.  I am not leaving.  I re-iterate what I wrote the other day...I will continue writing.  With that being said, let me explain the meaning of the title 'Alas...Goodbye'.  Truly, yesterday was the end of an era. For 14 years, I endured.  For 14 years, I put up with it.  Finally I made a decision to start the process to make it all go away.  After months of deliberation, appointments, consultations and sleepless nights....the era ended.  Things are new again....a new day has dawned.  Read on, dear reader, for details on the previous era, and hopes for the future.

As I mentioned, dear reader, it's been a 14 year era.  Now, before I go on, I give you fair warning...the following article contains graphic images and descriptions, and I will not be held responsible for any nausea you may encounter by looking at the pictures.  Have you figured out what I'm talking about?  If you're a Facebook friend of mine, it should be clear.  Yup, that's right.  Toenails.  To be precise...big toe toenails.  14 years ago, I had them surgically removed.  They were not supposed to grow back, but they did.  I found out that with the surgical removal of the nail bed, there is a 15% chance of re-growth.  I fell in that 15% group.  So for 14 years, I walked around with my toenails growing into my toe.  Oh, I would perform self-surgery and dig out the embedded nails....but that was always a temporary solution.  I knew that I'd have to go for surgery again...but I was scared.  I'll explain.

I think I was 11 years old the first time I had this surgery done.  I remember little of it, except the pain of removing the bandages for the first time.  Back then, they wrapped up the nail-less toes with gauze....and didn't unwind it for 3 days.  So, in those 3 days, the wounds started to heal....around the very strings that make up gauze.  Just imagine, dear reader, yanking those bandages off and causing the whole thing to open up again.  I remember the pain...I remember crying.  I was 11.

Since then, I've had my nails removed 4 more times, including this time around.  3 times I've had it done under a general anasthetic, and twice I've had it done with local freezing.  The 3 times under general were the easiest...except for the initial bandage removal as briefly described in the previous paragraph. The first time that it was done with a local anasthetic was the cause of my fears.  You see, when it was done that way, my toes didn't really freeze properly.  I felt the entire operation.  I mentioned this to the doctor in passing (as in "Hey Doc...I can feel you slicing the nail off").  He kind of sloughed it off (as in "Hey Rod...don't worry about it.  We're almost done.").  Yes, dear hurt.  Some of you may think I'm a wimp.  Some may think coward.  Some may laugh.  And that's was 14 years ago.  The scars are mine alone.

Enter 2010.  Once again, the toenails have grown in.  No, it has nothing to do with poor trimming practices.  It is hereditary.  My dad has the problem, my uncle had the problem, and same with a cousin.  It runs (no pun intended) in the family.  I have spent 13 years digging out the nails myself with a nail clipper, a tweezers, and sharp pointy object for digging and lifting.  After 13 years, it got old.  And it got to the point where the left toenail could not be dug out any more, and the right toenail was so mis-shapen that it was too much work and too painful to do self-surgery.   Here are some pics of the toenails.

The left picture is the right toe, and the right picture is the left toe.  Don't ask.  Just accept it as it is.

So, I went to see my family Dr., who referred me to another doctor.  The second doctor only performs toenail removal via local anasthetic, and I was going to have no part of that.  I insisted on being knocked out.  Yeah, i know....I'm a wimp.  So, this second doctor put the word out, and found a surgeon willing to do this.  A consultation was booked.  I went in to see him, he looked at my toes and we talked.  We talked about my fears of local anasthetic.  He laughed....I didn't.  But, not only is he a doctor....he  is also a salesman.  He convinced me to have the surgery done with a local anasthetic.  And this, dear reader, was the start of a few sleepless nights.  I worked myself into a real fret imagining the horrors of 14 years ago being replayed.  But, the surgery day was booked, my time off work was booked and coverage for my schools was arranged.  I couldn't back out now.

The day arrived. My dear cousin gave me a ride to Grey Nuns Hospital.  I was nervous.  I had taken a couple pain killers before I got there as preventative medicine.  I could tell I was nervous (and maybe a wee bit stoned) just by the conversation I was having with the nurse as she took me to my room.  The doctor came in, followed by a couple nurses.  He prepped his needles.  After looking at the size of the needle, I said "You're not sticking that thing in my toe!!".  He laughed and said "No, it's just a filling needle."  He then showed me the needle he was going to jab into my toe.  I didn't feel too much better.

Let me interject here for a moment, dear reader, and explain something.   When the doctor sold me on local anasthetic, he told me that he would only give me one needle per toe, for a grand total of two needles.  He said that two needles was hardly anymore that the one needle needed for a general anasthetic.  *sigh*.  I fell for it.  But, here's the kicker (no pun intended).  What the Dr. failed to tell me was that each needle was going to be jabbed into each toe 4 times.  One needle.  4 Jabs.  One prick.

Back into the room.  I'm lying on my back, my pant legs hiked up to my knees.  The Dr. is ready, and he is swabbing my toes with cleansing alcohol.  He asks me that no matter how badly it hurt, not to move my foot.  He will stop if I ask him, but I cannot move my foot.  Great.  And here goes.  The first needle jab is on the outside part of the toe, right beside the the joint at the foot.  This particular jab hurts...bad.  I do not scream, or cry.  But I think I emitted a moan or a groan.  The second jab hurts, but not quite as much, as the freezing from the first jab is already taking hold.  I slightly feel the third poke, and I wasn't aware that there was a fourth until I saw the marks on my toe.  The Dr. has effectively created a ring block...freezing the nerve that goes down into the toe.  The whole process to freeze the first toe takes about 14 seconds.  The second toe goes just as quick, with the same amount of hurt.

So, now I'm frozen.  The Dr. leaves for about 10 minutes, letting the freezing take hold real good.  The part that I remember most about the operation 14 years ago is coming up...the nail removal.  The Dr. and his nurse come back in...he does a few things and I can feel some bumping on my foot.  I ask him what's happening and he says the nail is gone.  Wowsers....I ddin't feel a thing!!  It was at this point that my 14 year old fears were gone.  The Dr. and his nurse talk abou the chemical that they are applying to the nail bed.  He says that normally they leave it on for about 40 seconds, but for me they will leave it on for 3 minutes.  Hopefully this lessens the chances of re-growth.  The deed is performed on the second toe, and before I know it, they are bandaging me up.  I am instructed to lay still for 5 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of sitting up with my feet dangling down.  After the 5 minute dangle, they change the bandages and I am free to go!!










And that, dear reader, is the end of it.  Nothing much more to tell.  I popped a couple of T3's once I got into the car, but as it turned out I didn't really need them until much later.  My wife and I changed the bandages twice that first day.  We figured it was better to do it a couple times whilst I was still frozen.  I suspec that the good Dr. took heart to my horror story, and that he gave me enough freezing to freeze a horse.  I fell asleep around midnight....still frozen!!  By morning, the freezing was out, but I had very little pain.  As of this writing, I hurt a wee little bit, and I am still bleeding a little bit, especially if I walk on them.  Thus, I stay on the couch as much as possible.  The toes cleaned up nicely in a warm bath, and it did not hurt horribly to submerge them.

So, you want pictures of the finished product?  Here are a couple pics before I cleaned them up:
























And that, dear reader, is all I got.  Thanks for coming on this journey with me.  I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did.  Until next time.....goodnight.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Yup, I'm still around...

Good morning, dear reader

In case any of you are wondering, the answer is yes.  Yes, I am still around.  Yes I am still interested in my website.  Yes, I am still interested in writing.  But, no, I have not written anything for quite a while...I am very much not inspired.  Once the inspiration hits me again, I'll write.

Thanks for your patience.