Thursday, February 28, 2008

Christa Giles!

For Pete's sake, update your friggen blog!

Don't you know that blog checking on the company dime is what gets me through the day?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

killing time

This post comes to you as I am killing time waiting for the touch up pink dye to set in my streaks. My lovely fella was kind enough to don a pair of gloves (swiped from work, of course) and re-apply the magic stuff. Everyone in the know (ok, two people in the know - my hair dresser and previously hot pink streaked SIL Cammy) told me I'd have to be redoing the streaks after about two weeks. Well, it's been four. My hair defies you all. The bits of pink closer to my scalp maintained their alarming hot pinkness, but the tips gradually faded out from hot pink to orange to a soft baby pink to nearly blond. After the touch up I've still got half a bottle of the pink goop left, so I figure I'm good for two more doses and then my hair will have to be dyed back to my natural colour. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll go crazy with some other funky do. I've got years and years of not colouring my hair to make up for here!

So this week has been reading week - ostensibly a time to spend reading those textbooks and catching up on assignments and shiz. Not me. I spent the week taking an 8am-4pm five day long first aid course. Why, you ask? Don't I have first aid coming out of my wazoo? Well yes I do, as a matter of fact. This course was a prerequisite for another course I am going to be taking in March which will enable me to teach yet another course. Much of the course I just finished up with (well not yet - practical exam 7:30am on Monday) was pretty mundane and stuff I can do in my sleep, but the instructor was mega cute and did a good job of tolerating my incessent inter-agency questions (but in aquatics we do this . . . ). Many of the other folks in the class had never taken any first aid course before, so it was a really interesting range of abilities. There was only one day I wished I wasn't there, and the post written exam beers on Friday from the brew pub downstairs were dang tasty.

Today is my Dad's birthday. Once I rinse the pink dye out of my hair we're heading over to the folk's place for dinner. I made an edamame salad, which was a recipe I was trying to replicate from taste memory alone from something someone picked up at a deli and brought to a potluck one time. I also made a delish double decker carrot cake with cream cheese icing. This was Dad's reqest, and how could I possibly say no? Particularly when I'm going to be asking for his help fixing the sliding bathroom door I busted off it's runners by kicking it when I was mad the other day. Happy birthday Dad!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy v-day

Veggie day, that is. Today marks for me 15 years as a vegetarian! To celebrate, I thought I'd blog my answers to two of the most common questions I get about being a vegetarian.

1. Why are you a vegetarian?

Well, to be honest the reasons have evolved over the years. Meat always grossed me out. Gristle, fat, veins, whatever, I thought it was gross. I started making the connection with the hunk of meat on my plate and the living thing it once was, and I could eat it no more. I made a new friend who was vegetarian, and I thought that was cool so I decided to do it too. At my friends Sasha and Melanie's 14th birthday party, I decided I was a vegetarian, and after a few days of mishaps with pepperoni pizza and KFC popcorn chicken, I really was. I have not intentionally eaten meat ever since.

The easiest way for me to explain why I am a vegetarian is this - I don't believe in loving one animal and eating another. I believe and animal is an animal is an animal. There are some animals which have been socially constructed as more acceptable to eat than others. It drives me bonkers when I hear omnivores saying things like, "oh I could never eat (insert cute cuddly animal of choice here), that would just be wrong!” I think if you're going to eat one, you should be open to eating them all. I also think that most meat eaters are hideously detached from what they're actually eating. Those sterile styrofoam trays of meat in the supermarket don't really leave people with the true image of what it is. I have the utmost respect for my uncle's fiancĂ©e and her kids, who eat the cattle they raise. I have absolutely no difficulty understanding what I am eating when I am looking at an eggplant or a soybean. It is what it is.

Then there are the ethical reasons - the factory farms and the conditions those animals are raised in, the amount of land it takes to grow feed for animals vs. the amount of land we could be feeding people from, the hormones those animals are given, the waste seeping into water systems surrounding big productions. Yuck.

2. I could never be a vegetarian, isn't it hard?

Umm, no. Picture the food you find the most repulsive, that you never want to eat. Do you have a hard time not eating that food? Me neither.

I'm not one of those militant vegetarians who tries to force it on everyone around me. I don't believe in pushing my beliefs on other people, and I expect to not have theirs pushed on me. Paul is an omnivore, and we live and eat together in harmony. It's not an issue unless people make it one.

So have a happy V-day. Eat your veggies!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

snippets from project poop

Finally today my mom was released from hospital. This evening found her finally on her way home, to what I'm sure are much more comfortable digs. The nursing staff will be brilliant when Pamela is at home practicing her undergrad nursing skills. They will be questionable at best when it's just Mom and Dad on their own.

During her stint in the hospital, Dad sent out daily (sometimes multiple times daily) progress reports to friends and family. Over the last 6 days or so the reports had a common theme - poop; or lack thereof. Anyone who has had surgery, or hurt themselves significantly enough to require the fun pain killers, knows what they can do to your GI tract . . .

I've pasted some of my favourite snippets from my Dad's emails. They will probably be mostly hilarious to people who know him, but the rest of you may appreciate the humour I find in having a surly old Dad stuck as the primary caregiver of my largely immobile and consipated mother, and 14 yr old incontinent dog . . .

"Heather's project for tomorrow is to have a BM, mine is to be not
there for it."

"Arrived @ 11:00 AM to find H on phone (what else is new), sitting
on bed waiting for the elusive BM. Took her for a long walk then had
to scoot (rush, hurry, run) back for the blessed event. She was not
pleased with the event; or lack there of."

"Heathers main problem at this point is her lack of having a BM.
She took 5 doses of 'Lactulose' to no effect; a hospital record I
think. An intermediate solution, that was partially successful was a
hydraulic wash out."

"I am still optimistic that Heather will be home sometime on
Tuesday. You are all welcome to phone or visit as your whims drive
you. You can bring food as well if you want (I really agonized over
including this one). Food items with lots of 'fiber' (roughage) is
probably what H needs, I will eat anything and I don't care if my kids
eat at all."

"Heather's problem with her lower tract still persists. She has taken
multiple doses of every mild to medium stimulant that exists. She has
just taken a more powerful med called 'citro-mag' with the hope it
will start her system. My dog, on the other hand, goes 3-4 times a day
inside or out - he doesn't care where.
I can't get around the idea that this room costs $200 + per day
and the only reason she's still here is because she can't ----. Just a
foolish aside; after I spilled a bit of the 'citro-mag' on my hand
when mixing it for Heather I foolishly licked it off my fingers.

Cheers for now David"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

happy homecoming

The spinal column has real joints (just like the knee, elbow, etc.) called facet joints. The facet joints link the vertebrae together and give them the flexibility to move against each other. The facets are the "bony knobs" that meet between each vertebra. There are two facet joints between each pair of vertebrae, one on each side. They extend and overlap each other to form a joint between the neighboring vertebra facet joint. The facet joints give the spine its flexibility.

My mom has had the bad luck of having those "bony knobs" wear down, resulting in a shift in the vertebrae causing the spinal chord to be pinched. This necessitated reconstructive surgery four years ago, and again last week, twice. They went in and ground down those bony knobs, drilled holes in the vertebrae and inserted posts running from L2 - L5. A bone graft was harvested from the pelvis, and little chips which should ultimately fuse with the spine and hold everything in place are held in with screws. Four years ago it was two vertebrae which needed fusing, but the spine degenerated further necessitating this second surgery.

Having the good fortune of living only four blocks from the hospital, I stopped by every day for a visit and to check on her progress. I watched my mom go from supine and barely conscious on day one, to WALKING laps around the ward on day three, getting all of the tubes out and enjoying much more mobility on day four, getting ready to go home on day five. Then the unpleasant news was delivered - a routine x-ray prompted a CT scan which showed that two of the screws were not in the right place. One was too close to a major blood vessel, and the other was not holding the fusion in place properly. So just as she was getting ready to go home, the tubes go back in and she's waiting for more surgery. The second surgery took place on Saturday, day six if you will, and was much less invasive than the first. Apparently the passage created for the screw was correct, but the screw did not follow the designated passage. This was corrected, the other screw pressing on the blood vessel was shortened, and she was closed up again. Up and walking the very next day, and fewer problems with nausea as a result of a change in pain meds.

Today, day nine, is the day she'll hopefully get to go home to start the two month long convalescence with no bending, twisting, or contact sports. My mom is fit and active, lean and healthy, walks, swims, goes to the gym, does all her physic exercises, and still her spine degenerated. Fingers crossed this is the last of it.

UPDATE: Not home yet . . . still in hospital awaiting elusive BM. Going on day 10 now . . .

UPDATE #2: Project poop a success. Finally coming home tonight!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

good advice

Contrary to what the comments section of my previous post may indicate, I have been getting a lot of really good feedback on the business plan. The advice coming from people who are in the know about such things is the same - keep it simple, and say what it is.

My Dad thinks I should be getting this done professionally - branding, that is. Although I'm sure I knew in the back of my mind that branding was a thing, until this week I didn't really understand what that thing entailed. Branding, I'm told, is an intensive project which will leave me with a cohesive look, word mark, colour scheme, and logo. Such a project is thought to run around $1000, which my Dad has offered to put up (with payback plan of course).

My sister has offered some sage advice about using words which for search engine optimization, and how to set up words and information on a site which will help me get indexed high up in Google.

I have had one name suggestion which I really like, and I like how it was come up with. All will be revealed at a later date if I decide to go this route.

Right now I'm trying to decide whether professional branding is the way to go, or whether I want to take this new name (which does what it says on the tin) and use the website I had used before for business cards, letterhead, and promo gizmos. I change my mind about every five seconds, so until that slows down I suppose I'll keep thinking about it.

I've got another project on the brew I'll need some feedback on too . . . stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

creative minds needed!

I have a small business on the side teaching CPR and First Aid courses. It's pretty much an under the table in cash thing at the moment, but it is growing to the point I feel I need to go legit with it soon. My primary market thus far has been CPR recertifications for nursing students, who need to do them annually. Word of mouth is a powerful thing - my business has been growing steadily, and my market is growing. Recently I've been trekking over to Commercial drive to teach CPR and resuscitation to 'Parents on the Drive', a group of self organized parents who decided they needed CPR training after witnessing one of their daughters having a seizure, thinking she was choking, and realizing none of them knew what to do. I've also been teaching Emergency First Aid courses at one of the graduate student residences on campus where they've put together an emergency response team, and want in house training.

The end of January saw me taking an AED instructor trainer course, which enables me to teach people how to teach people to use those nifty automated external defibrillator units which are popping up all over the place, as well as being able to deliver the programs myself. This is HUGE for me as a contract instructor, particularly since UBC has decided to put AED units in all of the athletic facilities, and the program will ultimately expand to the entire campus. Someone has to do all that training!

February and the beginning of March will see me jumping through hoops to be able to teach the new Occupational First Aid program that the Lifesaving Society, the organization with which I am affiliated, has finally managed to get off the ground. In my opinion, the OFA program is seriously inferior to the SFA program we've already been teaching for years, but it is the program sanctioned by WCB, and therefore the program that tons of and tons of businesses need their employees to take. Again, this is huge for me as a contract instructor and even huger for me as an individual affiliate since it means I will be able to market myself to big businesses as someone who can show up and conduct this program for their staff on site.

The batch of business cards I ordered for myself at the end of this month last year is dwindling away (interestingly, I've gone through more of my personal business cards in one year than I have my business cards at work in 5 1/2 years) and it is nearly time to reorder. Enter your creative minds . . .

My current cards read, "CPR with Katie" and have a cool heart logo (an actual human heart, not a heart shape) and details about course options and contact info on them. I guess by default my company name is this "CPR with Katie", however, with the addition of all these other courses I can contract, and the intention of going legit with the side business and starting to market myself to companies, I need a new name. I'm planning on putting together a whole promotional package . . . company letter head on which I will write letters and send them out to businesses explaining how awesome I am, and that I can come to THEM and do all of their CPR and First Aid training on site, website, new business cards (I want to keep the logo), promotional pens or some other cheesy give-away . . . the whole shebang. I want a name that encompasses everything I can do, and that sounds cool. The only thing I can think of so far is "Custom First Aid" but I don't think that's cool enough, and I think it might be taken.

Please help me come up with a name! If I select the name you come up with, I'll send you a whole package of all the promotional shiz I put together, and a chocolate vagina. What's better than a chocolate vagina?