25 November 2009

Furry Painkillers

What a difference a pet can make!

Imagine recovering from a painful surgery and the doctor orders two doses of pet therapy a day while recovering in hospital. Imagine snuggling up to a soft and purring kitten when you are ailing, lonely, frightened or stressed to the max.

Well, it seems that researchers have finally acquired enough 'evidence' to support what we've known for a long time: that pets can reduce stress, relieve pain, encourage exercise and enhance longevity.
Julia Havey, from the Loyola University Health System (LUHS), Chicago, who led the research, said: "Evidence suggests animal-assisted therapy can have a positive effect on a patient's emotional and physical well being.

Too bad 'researchers' didn't include homeless people, who insist on keeping their pets over being forced to abandon them in favour of a roof over their heads.

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19 November 2009

One Homelessness Factor Avoided Like Plague

This story illustrates one major contributing factor to the swelling numbers of homeless in BC. It's constantly avoided by the powers-that-be in this province.

Sherry was polite and resolute.

I was puzzled. I asked why she was willing to sleep in a parking lot in order to be with her cats.

"They've always been with us," Sherry told me. "Even just moving out of the house, one of our cats - because she'd been abandoned before and she'd been abused - she thought that we were going to leave her. She just got really freaked out and stuff."

Sherry looked me in the eye. Tears welled in hers. I forgot whether she was talking about her cats, or herself.

"We're not going to leave her," she declared.

Lori gave Sherry an armload of food, and promised to check back in a few days. We wished her well and left her at the edge of the crumbling blacktop.

The minivan was quiet as we drove away. Lori finally broke the silence.

"Actually, that happens quite a lot," she said. "People who've lost everything else, they get quite attached to their pets. Their pets are like family."

Not quite. For people who have lost everything else, their pets aren't LIKE family, they ARE family.

Consider this question, seriously: Would you give up your family for a roof over your head?

Before you answer that, don't make the same mistake Lori did. Accept the fact that for some people, their pets ARE their family. You may not consider animal companions in the same light. If you have pets, you may view them as being LIKE members of your family, but you are not so attached to them that you couldn't imagine giving them up for a roof over your head. Such is not the case for the people I'm talking about. For the purposes of my question, your view of pets isn't the issue; it's their view that matters, which is why I've framed the question as I have.

So again, I ask: Would you give up your family (your children, or dependent sibling or parent) for a roof over your head?

The problem in BC isn't just about the scant few pet-friendly shelters for the homeless. Contributing to the problem is the BC Residential Tenancy Act which allows landlords to deny accommodation to people with pets. And because property owners can do this, almost every last one of them does do it.

No serious discussion about housing for low-income BC residents can endlessly avoid this issue. The more destitute or alone a person is, the more likely s/he is to have a pet. For housing legislation to allow that a pet be given up for the sake of housing, temporary or permanent, only contributes to the problem of homelessness.

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OMG! Female Sexual Dysfunction

So, get ready goils. Here's another Dis-ease being foisted on us by Big Pharma: 'Restless Vagina Syndrome' aka 'Female Sexual Dysfunction'.
You are among the "43 percent of American women [who] experience some degree of impaired sexual function," according to a Journal of the American Medical Association article. The FDA’s evolving definition of FSD includes decreased desire or arousal, sexual pain and orgasm difficulties -- but only if the woman feels "personal distress" about it.

And who thinks these goodies up?
[Irwin] Goldstein established an FSD clinic with Dr. Jennifer Berman, who now heads a Beverly Hills clinic and appears on Oprah. As one of the health professionals on a 1998 panel that received financial sponsorship from eight pharmaceutical companies, she helped define female sexual dysfunction. Some 22 drug companies, including Pfizer, had financial ties to 18 of the 19 authors of that panel’s report, the BMJ revealed.

I can hardly wait for the next man-ufactured disease to show up! Hopefully something that will cure me of ever having to come across garbage like this.

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18 November 2009

Just Be Yourself, Boys.

It seems that young men today are struggling to create a new masculine identity for themselves, one that takes them away from the good 'ole boys idea of a REAL man. And they are brainstorming new ways to be in this post-feminist world.
This is about so much more than the 200 men who attended this conference. They are on the front lines, but there are legions of progressive men of all ages, all over the country who are struggling to redefine masculinity and live that redefinition every day. They fumble without models but continue on because they know that there is so much to be gained. Guys who reject traditional masculinity, for starters, have a greater chance of finding fulfilling work that isn't just a symbol of their provider status. They might explore the joy of relationships - being nurturing with their kids, real with their friends, open with their partners. They have the opportunity to shed their socialized skin and all the anxiety that comes with trying to be a "tough guy" and make a happy life defined, not by their paycheck or their size, but by their humanity.

I say good for you, guys! Even though it appears to be difficult to come up with a model that will work for these brave men:
While it's thrilling that there is also a movement of young men all who want to tear down the patriarchy right alongside women, it's dangerous that they don't have a clear picture of what they want to build in its place.

I question the 'dangerous' part. It's dangerous NOT to tear down the patriarchy; the sooner that's done the better.

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17 November 2009


In BC, the CEOs of crown corporations are getting grandfathered salaries.

At the opposite end of the economic scale, renters living with disabilities in this province can be denied rent grandfathering. This effectively prevents these long-term, reliable renters from moving to identical, but more accessible, units.

Where's the justice?

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Visiting the Food Bank

Went to the food bank for the first time two weeks ago. Had been putting off this visit for the past eight years, during which my household income from self-employment was at or below the poverty gap. Disabilities prohibit regular employment.

In Canada, the poverty GAP hovers around the lowest decile (i.e., 10th) income category, while the poverty LINE marks the lowest quintile, or 5th, income category. In other words, the poverty measure almost exclusively used in this country is Statistics Canada's Low Income Cut Offs (LICOs), which divide the income from all Canadian households into five groupings.

Since the LICOs are the same across the country, there are some communities in which residents living at the poverty line, as opposed to the poverty gap, are experiencing no real hardship. Certainly that had been the case in this community. Recent economic development in the form of a huge big box boom - thanks to business-friendly municipal councils - has resulted in a rapid increase in rents and other household costs. That has made living at or below the poverty gap even harder.

Anyway, my visit to the local food bank was only to get bread, which is free to anyone who walks in off the street. One doesn't have to apply for this food assistance, which is why I didn't get anything but bread. Have felt too embarrassed and intimidated to go through the application process.*

With bread prices more than having doubled over the past year, I'd stopped buying it. Was nice to have bread again and I'm grateful to local grocers for supplying it to the food bank.

I just wish our grocers wouldn't send ALL their day-old bread to the food bank.

It used to be that bread and other foodstuffs, like ripe fruit and veggies, was available at half price for customers to purchase. Now, either you must pay the full price for fresh bread or go to the food bank to get day-old bread for free.

There's no longer an in-between option for low-income shoppers. This suggests that it's not just the recession contributing to a surge in food bank use. It's also changes in local practices made in response to the existence of food banks, such as the removal of shopping alternatives for people of low income.

* For example, do applicants to the food bank have to be on government financial assistance? If not, must they reveal everything about their personal finances, backed up by bank statements, copies of their rental agreement, etc? All this can be enough to keep some people away, despite their need for help.

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Good News

According to researchers at BC Cancer Agency a breakthrough has been achieved in the fight against breast cancer.
For the first time in history, BC Cancer Agency scientists in British Columbia, Canada have decoded all of the three billion letters in the DNA sequence of a metastatic lobular breast cancer tumour, a type of breast cancer which accounts for about 10 per cent of all breast cancers, and have found all of the mutations, or “spelling” mistakes that caused the cancer to spread.

The landmark study, which will be published October 8th as the cover story in the prestigious international science journal Nature, helps unlock the secrets of how cancer begins and spreads, thus pointing the way to the development of new breast cancer treatment targets and therapies.

What does this mean for women?
“One in nine women is expected to develop breast cancer, and breast cancer accounts for 29 per cent of all cancer diagnoses for B.C. women,” said Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon. “As a result of the efforts of the scientists behind the study, this breakthrough finding gives further hope to the thousands of women with this terrible disease."

It gives women HOPE and this is good news, indeed.

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09 November 2009

For Cat - and Rossini - Lovers Everywhere

This is one of the better renditions of Duetto buffo di due gatti (Humorous Duet for Two Cats), which has been attributed to Gioachino Rossini, but likely was written by Robert Lucas de Pearsall. Have been playing it all day and it cracks me up each time I hear it.

These two boys certainly get the audience going. At about the one-minute mark, a little girl can be heard giggling - very cute.

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