Category Archives: personal

This and that

Some random thoughts…

  • I really should not have filed a column for The StarPhoenix this week.  Typing 800 words with a pic line in your hand hurts.  It doesn’t start out that bad but after 200 or so words, it is agony.  So when you read it Monday, envision me in pain and ignore the fact that it felt mediocre and forced to me.
  • Mark Cooper: PhotographerI don’t know how it happened but these arrived in the mail today.  Well actually I do.  Mark has been out with his Pentax K-x and now with his Pentax K-30 for up to six hours a day taking photographs of the city.  He went down to the Lion’s Skatepark and instead of guys being upset that he was taking their photos, they were excited and all wanted to know where they could see his photos.  Mark asked if I would help him design up and print out some business cards on blank stock.  In the end it was cheaper and easier to do some cards up at Vistaprint so we did.  This is what he came up with.  He is thrilled with them.
  • Mark is also talking about joining the Royal Canadian Navy for a three year tour after high school.  To say that Wendy is unimpressed by this idea is an understatement.   The phrase “rising tensions between NATO and Russia” does not go over well in our house.
  • I haven’t really talked about it but I did order a new Pentax K-3 with a 18-135mm lens last week.   I have been too sick to go out and use it but it did allow me to give my Pentax K-30 to Mark.

Pentax K-3 with 18-135mm lens

  • Mark is thrilled with his “new to him” K-30 and I am looking forward to trying out my K-3 around town.  First I need to get rid of the pic line in my hand.
  • Everyone asks if I am going to make it.  It’s been a week of injecting saline solution and antibiotics into my arm and the cellulitis is clearing up but it does that with oral anti-biotics.  The problem is that it comes back as soon as they stop.  So while it looks good, I really don’t know and won’t know for another couple of weeks.
  • The pain is a lot less in the leg.  Last week the dog licked me and I thought I would lose it.  Tonight socks were able to come off with no pain.  That is progress.

Today

After three days of sleeplessness, fevers, and chills I went back to St. Paul’s Hospital.  The cellulitis had gone from my ankle up my calf and almost to my knee.  As of 5:00 a.m. this morning, the infection was winning.

So the plan was to be at St. Paul’s by 6:00 a.m.  We walked in, saw triage and was given a bed right away.  I was quite pleased with how fast this was going.  I expected to be home by 10:00 a.m.  Since the teaching is done at RUH, it meant no interns, no residents and just a doctor.

So the nurse saw it, gave an expected course of action.  The doctor saw it, affirmed her course of action.  He ordered blood work.  The blood work came.  I was rolling along.

The white blood cell count came back as normal.  Which was kind of odd since I have this chronic infection.  The C-Reative Protein test came back.  I did well in it.  It was supposed to be around 7.  Mine was 150.8.  Beat that folks.

So they gave me a dose of IV antibiotics and then I wait until 3p to leave.  I had to see Home Care to get me to agree to give myself an IV.  Then they made me sign off on giving me my own medication via IV.  Then they taught me to give myself medication via IV but not really because I already had it.  I did get an instruction guide. 

Oh yeah, they put the IV into my hand.   Not only do I look like a hardcore addict but you type with an IV in your hand (of course I can inject heroine into my hand if I ever decide to take up drugs).

I think that was the biggest frustration, I asked them several times to keep the needle out of my hands for work and they stuck into my hand because it was the easiest place for them to jab a needle.  Actually they seemed amazed that I would be working and not at home.  Like I have written before, some of us need to work, especially with an illness that has no end date right now.

Then I was allowed to go to City Hospital where they gave me boxes and boxes of medication.  I have more gear then a safe injection site (and with my hand, I look the part).

Some thoughts.

  • Since the start everyone has been saying that my leg is a vascular issue despite the vascular tests being largely normal.  I have been saying it is an infection.   It’s weird, I have had a few doctors look at my leg closely and none of them have thought it was cellulitis when it clearly was.  I am sure this happens lots but doctors appear to “thin slice” to use Malcolm Gladwell’s term.
  • I have a problem with what the hospital charge for parking.  It cost me $18 for a day of parking and it wasn’t like it was I was there for a party.  That is obscene and taking advantage of people.
  • Here is something else that blew me away today.  Everyone in emergency today was on a waiting list for a specialist and their condition had deteriorated to the point where they were sent to the E.R. (we had time to chat).
  • I am not really that comfortable injecting myself with an IV medication everyday so I asked if I can come in and have it done.  Nope.  My choices were inject yourself or have a nurse come in on their hours (which doesn’t work for my schedule) and they can do it for you.  I can’t go to a clinic or hospital to have it done.  I just want a time and I’ll be there early but nope.  I don’t know why this can’t be done.  So this is patient centric care in Saskatchewan.  Do what you aren’t comfortable doing because it’s cheaper and you have a piece of paper.
  • Cellulitis hurts.  Badly. 
  • I don’t know if this is going to work.  Every treatment they have tried so far “is going to work”.  It’s been 8 months and I am getting sicker.

Random Thursday Night Thoughts

For seven eight months now, I have been battling this infection in my foot.  It has gone from a part of my foot into my ankle, my skin (cellulitis) , and now my bone marrow.  They have been pumping me full of antibiotics and then to keep from developing colitis, they give me probiotics.  If you have ever had probiotics to go with your antibiotics, your quality of life goes way down.  They are just there to minimize the worst of the what the antibiotics are going to do to you.  Even my pharmacist would get freaked out at what I was being prescribed.  The antibiotics make some progress but at the end of the day, the infection comes back worse when they are done.

It came back yesterday and I was stuck with the worst fever and chills cycle that I have ever experienced.  Then today I topped that fever and chills cycle.  My whole body aches from it.  That was my last two days.  I spend hours trying to get warm and then the fever goes the other ways and I have a hissy fit trying to get the covers off of me and so I can cool down. (no one throws a hissy fit like me when I am burning up and I have seven blankets on me)

As a diabetic, this is not a lot of fun because it plays havoc with my blood sugar levels.  Twice in 2015 my blood sugar has gone so high that I have acne on my hands as the body is trying to figure out what to do (yeah, that was gross).  As one doctor said when he looked at my blood sugar numbers, “oh fuck”.   It’s so far down on the list of things they need to fix that they haven’t really made any progress in dealing with it.  Of course it means that a combination of fighting this infection and the high blood sugar levels means that I am exhausted all of the time.

Of course part of the treatment is with CPAS.  If one department needed to reorganized and changed as part of lean, it is them.  Wendy goes to every appointment with me because she helps me with this wound on my foot. This should be straight forward but it never is.  Several times I have been given appointments for things that don’t happen on that day or even that facility.  Other times they call me and say, “You had an appointment”. Wendy and I are saying, “umm, no one said anything to us about this.”  Then we get lectured because we show up for appointments written on an appointment card (and confirmed) but don’t show up for appointments no one tells us about.

Then when I am there, I get lectured by nurses because I haven’t had this test done or an appointment yet with a specialist.  You know I tried to walk in and ask for a MRI myself and that didn’t go so well… I don’t even know what to say (which as we all know, is rare for me).  I’m the one caught in the cracks of a slow system, you don’t think I want this resolved?

I wish I could say it wasn’t painful but it is.  The dog licked my leg this morning (creepy, I know) and I thought I would going to pass out.  The one saving grace from all of this is that it is summer and I can wear short pants (also trying to get a job at the PMO).  I have had jeans on lately and the pain was horrible.  It’s not like I don’t have a high tolerance for pain.  I have had neuropathy for years and cope with it without pain killers but this is something else.

I wish I could say that I have faith in our Medicare system but I don’t.  8 months.  Of course my mother lost her leg in a very similar way.  It just took a couple of years.   The weird thing is that this just seems normal here and from my personal experience and family history it is.

Knife Fight

I use a knife at work and for months, I have used a Strider folding knife.  Strider makes knives for Seal Team 6 and they are really, really nice knives.  This one is smaller but still looks intimidating which isn’t the look I was going for. 

I found a Gerber Rip Stop knife and I decided to get it but Wendy said that the boys would want to get it for Father’s Day.  So instead of letting me have it, she got me a $3 knife from Wal-Mart.

I had it with me and never really used it until one day it wouldn’t even cut through tape.  It was that bad.  Mark found out and starts to re-inact a potential 911 call.

Mark: Help, I am being attacked by my knife wielding lunatic father.

Operator: Are you hurt?

Mark: Well kind of.  He has jabbed me several times and I am starting to get a rash.

Operator: I hasn’t broken the skin?

Mark: No but a couple more days of this and I could get a callous or something.  Maybe a minor infection.

Operator: All the police are busy but I can send a dermatologist early next week….

The knife was that bad.   So finally I get the Gerber Ripstop and the first thing I test is that it can cut Scotch tape.  So at least I am making progress.  It also doesn’t look intimidating  So we are winning in that way as well.

Father’s Day

It was a weird day around here today.  Wendy’s father is dying of cancer.  While they used to be close, he has been horrible to her from the night she told him that she had been molested as a child.  He changed that night and has been horrible to her ever since.

In hindsight if he had said to her that he never wanted to ever talk to her and owned that, it would have been easier but no, her mom has tried to work things out while at the same time blaming Wendy ever since then.  With him dying he wanted to see Wendy (just Wendy, not Mark and Oliver) one last time.  Wendy said no and he kind of burnt every bridge remaining.  Well not that there were not burnt bridges left but he knocked over the piers as well.

It’s really tough on her.  They used to be close.  She thought of him as a friend.  Over the years her mother has been clueless on everything while at least her dad understood some of what she was going through, he would then be cruel while fully understanding what he was doing.  In many ways he hurt her more than the people who molested her did.

So every Father’s Day I get the full brunt of all of that emotion and anger that Wendy feels towards her father.  It just spills out.  Today was no exception except that it had all of the emotion of her being upset that I was sick as well.

Today I had big plans.  The infection in my leg plays havoc on my blood sugar levels.  That makes me really tired so the plan was to go to bed early last night and sleep in today.  However everyone was upset at that plan and was somehow mad that I went to bed early (except the dog) and early this morning they were upset that I was still sleeping.  That was the start of my day.

Another transition in the house is that I am no longer making everyone get ready.  I am frustrated with having to get Wendy and Mark moving out the door every time that I have calmly told them that I am going to give them an itinerary and if they aren’t going to be ready to leave on time, I will leave them behind.

So Friday I let them know that I had tickets to the Saskatoon Valkyries game and that I would leave for Gordie Howe Bowl at 12:30p.  No one was even close to ready.  So I left without them.  That upset everyone even more and made them even more emotional and upset.

I come home and lay down because the last thing I should have done is sit on a bleacher and watch a football game today and waited until my foot had returned to normal.  Again, that caused more anxiety because I wasn’t having fun. 

This kind of anxiety just freezes Wendy and Mark.   Wendy doesn’t know what to do and just introverts everything until she explodes.  Mark is processing this too and doesn’t know what to do. 

So finally I send all three of them out of the house to go for dinner.  The silence was awesome and I got some reading and writing done.

In some ways it is easy for me to deal with things because I have been down this road before with my mom and I know whatever happens, happens.  The doctors will make emergency referrals and do emergency tests and then two months later I will see the specialist I should have seen a month ago.  It’s the Saskatchewan way.  You may die because of how slow our system is but you won’t have to pay for it (somewhere right now Brad Wall is preparing a bar graph that shows less people dying or losing their legs while on a waiting list then under the NDP).

In Wendy’s defense, she had good care when she was really sick.  She has sat there while angry nurses have gotten angry at me because tests haven’t been done yet and have had them say, “Doesn’t anyone realize how serious this is?”  Last time I said, “think of the greater good.”  It didn’t go over well.

In the end, Father’s Day is a difficult day for Wendy.  That makes it a confusing day every year for the boys. 

One of these years we will have a nice Father’s Day.

Grey Owl’s Cabin

Well this sucks.

Six months ago I booked off some time to go to Grey Owl’s Cabin this weekend with Mark and Wendy.  We had bought new backpacks, a lot of gear, and we were ready to go.

On Friday I went in for my wound treatment and had the last conversation with a doctor about my leg.  The infection which they can’t kill has spread to my bone and bone marrow.  Not only that but looks increasingly like it is MRSA.

I knew things were messed up and I know that I am looking at some surgeries and a painful process ahead which is why I decided to do this now and not later.  There may not be a later (or at least a later with two feet).

So as much as it hurt me to do this, I agreed to not go on the trip.  Deep down I thought I could have done it but being 20km from no where with a serious inflection in my foot, ankle, and leg was not wide.   There are some treatments that they can do in the meantime and hopefully that makes a difference.  To be honest, the infection has been taking a toll on my entire body.

We are going to try again on August 21st and 22nd and do it over two nights and take Oliver this time.  We will break it into two night and instead of three.

So we unpacked three backpacks tonight and I realized that a long road ahead for my foot keeps getting even longer.

The Good News and the Bad News

The good news is that doctors are somewhat closer to finding out what is wrong with me.

Last night the infection and swelling had made it’s way out of my foot, up my ankle, past my calf, and now into my knee.

I am off to a vascular surgeon as the feeling is that I need a vascular by-pass surgery on my leg.   Of course they just did some tests that suggested I don’t need vascular surgery.  It kind of feels like a line out of City Slickers.  “I don’t know where we are going but we are making good time.”

So until then I am on another anti-biotic (actually it’s one that didn’t get the job done before) and I find myself on another waiting list.

I get asked if the process makes me angry.  I don’t know about angry but it makes me anxious.  The not knowing what is wrong with me causes me to feel some anxiety.  Since anxiety is a feeling, I never know what to do with it.

If the news was bad, then I would just face it but the entire, “I think it is this” “No, I think it is that” keeps me awake at night.  Well I don’t know if it is that or the pain but something is keeping me awake at night.  It also makes it hard to figure out what to do.  Do I cancel the hike to Grey Owl’s?  Do we cancel our vacation to Calgary?

Anyways, it isn’t something that I factored into this summer.

So this was unexpected

If you remember, last winter I got really sick with a chest infection and flu.  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything.  Even writing my weekly column or appearing on The Saskatoon Afternoon Show was exhausting.    Shortly before this, my doctor just quit his practice and disappeared without anyone from his practice telling me. I was left without a family doctor (he wasn’t that great) so I went into a walk in clinic and saw someone who prescribed me some serious medication (that would come back and haunt me later).  On the same day I went into the doctor, I noticed my foot was badly infected.  The doctor assured me that the anti-biotic that she was giving me for my chest would kill that as well and as far as I realized, it had.

I eventually got better in early January but in late January I was out and slipped on some ice and really hurt the ankle.  It swelled up and has bothered me for months.  I have badly sprained things before and never thought that much about it.  A doctor looked at it and thought it was tendonitis which seemed to make sense to me. 

The swelling continued and got worse for weeks.  It would go down at night and return in the morning.  During that time I was having some of the worst fevers and chills that I have ever had.  I would get some cold that I would violently shake for hours at night and then get so hot as I would be burning up.  My night table still has gloves and toque in it when I would be trying to get warm.  Wendy thought it was something more serious but I just shrugged it off as a flu.

It wasn’t.  I woke up one morning to large ulcer on the bottom of my foot one morning. It was almost an inch deep.  I had no idea how long it was there but there was a trail of blood that followed me from the bed to the tub.  Long time readers of the blog know that I suffer from neuropathy quite badly.  When your feet always hurt, you tend to ignore the pain to cope.  Excruciating pain in my feet is the norm, not the exception but I knew right away I was in deep trouble.

My mother lost her right left to an ulcer just like this.  It took years but the ulcer won.  Here I was without a family doctor, type II diabetic, and freaking inch deep bleeding ulcer on my foot. 

So I went back to the walk in clinic.  I got lectured by the doctor over not having a family doctor.  I snapped back for him to recommend me one because the web thinks that many of them are quacks.  He looked at the list and said, “I wouldn’t recommend any of these to you.”  I know, I had been phoning and searching for months.  It’s hard to find a good doctor.  I have horror stories of being the only one in a waiting room but still being left for an hour.   Another one couldn’t remember basic things about me despite reading my chart in front of me.

The walk in clinic doctor referred me to the wound clinic at City Hospital.  I would start to go down there regularly were they would dress my would and tell me to come back in a couple of days.  I would be back with a different dressing.  Since I shower every day of my life and the dressing needs to be dry, I kind of would dress it again myself.  For all of the areas in my life where I am incompetent, this is the one thing I do quite well. 

Since then, they have done some circulation tests and a lot of treatments on the wound.  It is slowly healing but the foot was still infected.

During this I finally found a good family doctor.  The web likes him.  The nurses that I see almost all of the time all approve of him and he has updated magazines in his examination rooms.  He has put me one some extremely powerful antibiotics.  They were so powerful the pharmacist that we go and see was uncomfortable with them.  The good news is that they seem to be working.  I can see my ankle and foot tonight.  This is a big deal.

The bad news is that they make me really sick.  I am taking pro-biotics to counter the negative effects of the anti-biotics but the reality is that the rest of my body is hating these things as much as the infection in my foot is.  Another 12 days of this round of anti-biotics and then the hope is the diminished swelling the lack of infection in my foot will lead to some healing.

And some sleeping in.  I am back at City Hospital early tomorrow morning.  Hopefully things keep healing.  It has almost been six months of this and I am getting tired of it.

Your Dog Does Actually Love You

Not just posting this to make you feel better.  Your dog really does love you.

Is doggie love real? While it may seem obvious to you that your dog loves you, there’s been very little scientific data that dogs feel the equivalent of love for their owners. Some have argued that humans, who crave love and social bonds, see what they want to see when they ascribe “love” to their dogs, while the dogs are simply playing a game to manipulate you for food and care.

Now, from a team of neuroscientists in Japan, comes compelling evidence, released today in the journal Science, that dogs really do love their owners.

In two different experiments, the team, led by Takefumi Kikusui of Azabu University, measured levels of a hormone called oxytocin in response to dogs and owners gazing into each others’ eyes.

Scientists have previously shown that touching between dogs and people increases oxytocin levels in both humans and their pets, but this new research expands on these findings and extends it to include wolves that were hand-raised by humans.

The experiments focused on eye gaze. In the first experiment, dogs and their owners were assigned to interact for 30 minutes. Those dog-owner pairs that engaged in the most in eye contact showed the highest increases in urinary oxytocin levels in both partners. Touching also raised oxytocin levels.

When the experiment was repeated with wolf-owner pairs, the wolves rarely eye-gazed, and there was no correlation “with the oxytocin change ratio in either owners or wolves.”

Tendinitus

So you remember earlier this winter when I was super sick for a couple of months?  Yeah that was fun.  

The doctor gave me a powerful antibiotic to kill what it was that was killing me.  It was so powerful they were worried about the side effects as it could actually induce some severe intestinal issues from killing too much bacteria in my stomach.  It could basically bring on Crohn’s disease.  

Since I had lost the ability to breath, it seemed like a not bad risk to take.  The antibiotics worked, no Crohn’s disease.  It seems like I survived.

Shortly afterwords, I was out walking in City Park.  You know the neighbourhood that refuses to clean their sidewalks.  I slipped slightly on the ice and hurt my ankle.  I shook it off (Well more like “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift) and kept walking.  It didn’t seem that bad until the next day when I woke up and my ankle was the size of a small nation.  

I was like, I couldn’t have broken it but then I realized that something was really wrong with my ankle.  So yes, I cracked my ankle.  Of course days later it was even bigger.  It was growing like the Saskatchewan debt under the Sask Party. (oh calm down, I take shots at the NDP and Liberals as well, the debt joke was there and my ankle really hurts).

After more consultations with a doctor, I found out that it is severe tendonitis.  Apparently use of the antibiotic I took has a connection to triggering it in diabetics which is kind of crazy. 

The end result has been unbelievable pain for weeks and it isn’t really going away.  My ankle seems to do much better over night and in the morning, it feels okay.  Then by night, it is horribly painful again.    The treatment that has been suggested is a cortisone shot which isn’t really effective but can also long term damage to my blood sugar.  

It took over two years for my one shoulder to recover from what is called frozen shoulder (tendonitis in the shoulder).  I am not looking forward to this.

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It is my birthday today.  I was awoken to the sounds of my kids and Wendy coming into my room with presents.  I had plans to open the gift but Oliver made me very aware of what they were.  Wendy gave me a Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens.  Mark gave me an old book about the City of Saskatoon’s street car system.  Believe it or not, we once had an amazing transit system in this city.   Oliver gave me a pair of hiking pants, sunglasses, and a new Starbucks Coffee mug.  Life is good.

The highlight of my day was getting my eyes checked at Prairie Optometry.  After failing my eye exam, it was off to order some new glasses.  

As I had mentioned on Twitter, I found a dog at the Saskatoon SPCA’s website.  I filled out an online application one night and they called me the next morning to pick up the dog.  Today we picked up an 8 month old black labrador mix that had been at the SPCA for a couple of months.  She had come in with her mother and siblings and was the last one left.  After visiting with her for a while, we adopted her and took her home.

Our new dog Marley

So far here is a list of things Marley has chewed on.

  • Wendy’s glasses
  • Wendy’s skull
  • My hand
  • My forearm
  • Wendy’s hand
  • Hutch (the other dog)
  • Slippers
  • Oliver’s boot
  • lip balm
  • Hutch (again)
  • My shin.

We haven’t had a puppy in my life since 1985.  I forgot how much fun they are.  When I say fun, I mean chaos.

Anyways, a word about the SPCA.  I know there are some excellent dog rescue’s out there but the SPCA was really pleasant to deal with.  We have gotten Elway, Maggi, and now Marley there and we couldn’t be happier.  

I have wanted a dog this size since we adopted Elway.  Not that there was anything wrong with Elway or Maggi, they were just bigger than I had wanted when we went in. 

A fresh start

So I heard Derek Powazek talking on Twitter about having a fresh start on Twitter.  Someone posted a YouTube video with code on how to unfollow everyone.  After a couple of days of considering it, I decided to try it and saw me unfollow almost 1100 people.

So as soon as I did that, I decided to go look for interesting people to follow.  Of course there was some family and friends but I decided to find local people to follow and started to click “follow”.  It was a lot of fun and some people that I was aware of and enjoyed their tweets and never followed were added to the list.

That took me to about 300 followers and then I looked at who I should be following.  It was all Alberta names!  Apparently many of us in Saskatoon keep an idea on what is going on in Calgary and Edmonton.

I added a few national voices to my followers, photographers, and photography sites and I found myself back at about 900 followers.  I also realized that Saskatoon now has a lot of journalists covering city hall.  You can blame Dave Hutton for that.

I also followed some MLAs from both sides of the floor.  My advice for them is to be more like Brad Wall, Cam Broten, Trent Weatherspoon, or Dustin Duncan.  It’s okay to act more like humans and less like robots folks!

The people I left behind were the spin doctors, NFL pundits, and a lot of American political voices.  They can be fun to follow but don’t contribute much to my life.

If I unfollowed you and haven’t followed you back, don’t take it personally.  It will take some time to track down everyone I left behind and I’ll get to you soon.

The Grey Owl’s Expedition Gear Guide

Since we are still planning to do a hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin in June, we have been picking up some gear for the trip.  A lot of people have been asking us what we are taking so here is the quick list of gear that is going.

North 49 65 litre backpack with an internal frameBackpacks: To carry the gear, we have some frameless backpacks with hip straps.  You can spend a lot of money on these and after reading around, we think we found the right balance between comfort, durability, and price.

I am carrying a 65 litre pack.  It is lots big enough for an overnight trip and this way Mark and Wendy don’t have to carry as much stuff.  It will hold Wendy’s and my tent, the cook set, and sleeping back with a lot of space left over.  I won’t use all of that space but it is there.

If I was walking the Appalachian Trail, I would definitely have purchased a more expensive backpack but it’s only a day and we are only taking so much stuff.  Mark and Wendy have some smaller bags that I bought there bags on clearance for a combined $30.  They are 40 litres and have the external straps they need.  They should do the job.

Tents: Wendy and I are staying in a three man tent we bought for $16 from Wal-mart.  They had a loss leader going last winter and we got it then.  It’s light and just big enough for the two of us.   The tent opens up and hopefully we will be able to sleep under the skies rather than under the fly.  If it does look like it could rain, we’ll be fine underneath it.

Ozark Trail 3-Man Tent

If I was going camping rather than backcountry hiking, we would have gotten something larger and higher quality.   Weight and size are a factor.  Also the price was insanely cheap ($16 on sale).  If it doesn’t last, no harm done but the reviews online were pretty solid.  It’s no where near as durable as a tent from the North Face but then again, it won’t be asked to do much more than keep the mosquitoes or drizzle off of us.  If it was just me, I would got with a two person tent but this way there is just enough room for us and some of our gear.

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Mark is staying in a one person tent from Eagle’s Camp.  It is small but it will be only him and his bag. Either way it is really light and since Mark will be carrying it in and out, he will appreciate the weight.  We bought some ropes to add as guy wires which opens it up a bit.  It’s small but it is light.

We did waterproof and seal the seams and upgraded the tent pegs to something lighter and more likely to stay in the ground.  If the weather is miserable, we should be okay.

Sleeping bags: Mark had a sleeping bag but Wendy and I wanted new 1.5 pound sleeping bags.  We will have foil covered sleeping foams as well and inflatable camping pillows at well which are small, light, and are more comfortable than our bags.   We also bought some compression straps so the sleeping bags take up as little as room as possible.

For lighting both Mark and Wendy have headlamps and lanterns  We also have tactical flashlights and Nite Ize LED zipper tags on our backpacks so if we wander out in the dark, we can be seen.

For the kitchen, we have a Primus Classic Trail Stove and Primus fuel canisters.  Stoves have their own fanboy culture which I understand but for the price, it can’t be beaten.  I know this isn’t the stove to use when it’s winter but since we are doing the hike in June, we should be okay.   It also has a five star review on Amazon.com so it seems to be doing the job.

Primus Classic Trail Stove

As for the camp kit, years ago Lee gave Wendy a great camp set.  We picked up three sporks and we are set to go.

Carmanah Large Cookset from Outbound

As for water, I have talked to a lot of people who had drank right out of Kingsmere Lake with no side affects.  There are giardia warnings about the water so we will have some water filters.  It’s way cheaper using purification tablets but I am told they are disgusting.  Since we are walking along side the lake, we will be using collapsible water bottles to keep weight and volume down.

Food: Basically MRE’s.  We have been to Cabela’s weekly testing out one or two of them each time.  We will eat some snacks on the way in, have a nice dinner (well away from the campground to keep the bears away) and then a big breakfast in the morning on our way out.  Hopefully we get going in time to be back in Waskesiu for a late lunch before heading back to Saskatoon.

Clothes: I went out and invested in some decent hiking shorts and shirts this summer.  As a friend of mine told me that chafing is not something that you will want to do while on the trail.  We also went to Cabela’s and got tested by the Dr. Shoal’s machine for the kind of insoles we all need.  While the custom Dr. Shoals insoles are right there, a row over are competitor insoles designed the same way for a fraction of the cost.  They make hiking boots feel a lot more comfortable and will hopefully make the trip more pleasant.

Technology: We won’t be taking much technology along although we will have a GPS, compact binoculars, and some rugged cameras.  We will have our multi-tools and a hatchet with us but I don’t know if that is considered technology or not.  In case we do get some rain, we have some gadget bags which are essentially waterproof zip lock bags for gear.  It says that you can submerse them but I’d rather not.  What they do a good job of doing is if a tent or bag does leak, your stuff will still be safe.

We bought everything local.  While MEC had a good price on some stuff, by the time we calculated shipping, it was less expensive to get something at Cabela’s and Wholesale Sports.

Let me know if you have some suggestions in the comments below.

Resolved, 2015

Hi 2015, it’s nice to meet you.  Since our relationship is rather new and still optimistic, I thought I would make some goals before I kick you to the curb a year from now.

Hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin

As Wendy noted, we have never done our expedition to Grey Owl’s cabin.  It’s a two day walk into the backwoods of Prince Albert National Park.  It should be a lot of fun.

Explore & photograph some great urban locations

I hate to think of Moose Jaw as a great urban location but it does have some great architecture as does Calgary and Winnipeg.  My camera and I need to do some some travelling and exploring.  Let’s not take too long to reflect on the fact that Moose Jaw has some of the best architecture in Saskatchewan.

It's Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

So the plan is to spend a day photographing and exploring Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and hopefully a couple of days in Calgary.

Make progress on my book

Last year I was sitting in a Saskatoon City Council meeting listening to our finest elected leaders talk about residential snow clearing and then voting on cleaning some of our streets.  At the same time I was following Calgary City Council make plans for taking over the world.

Saskatoon City Council chambers

Since then I have read more about the formation of cities than I care to think of.  Why do some cities turn into Calgary or New York City while others turn into Cleveland, Detroit or Regina?  Why does it feel like we are wasting the boom?  Why do some cities like Saskatoon allow themselves to be defined by low taxes while other cities defined by the quality of life?

Integrate Evernote into my workflow

I have some big plans for Evernote in 2015 but the biggest is incorporating it into my workflow for columns, roundtables, and this blog.

Evernote

I use it right now and find it invaluable but I know I can more with it in the future.

Enjoy 2015 more than 2014

2014 was okay but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.  Here is to more coffees on patios, more late nights on decks, and more fires in the backyard.

Starbucks Patio

Mark posted his New Year’s resolutions here while Wendy posted her’s over on her weblog.

Some Christmas thoughts

After cancelling cable television and therefore taking advertisers out of my kid’s lives, it changes Christmas.  When I asked Oliver what he wanted for Christmas, he asked for one thing and that was “grown up binoculars” which we got him for $10 at Canadian Tire.  He was thrilled.  He uses them all over the house, even while walking.

I asked Mark what he wanted and he said a good book on history or true crime.  

That was it.  Now Mark wanted a lens but it was out of our budget (I got one for him anyways as I get a deal from Pentax & Don’s Photo on some gear) but he never asked for it.

So I am left with two options.  One is that I have two of the greatest kids ever to walk the earth (possible but not probable) or that the removal of television advertising out of their lives has made them less materialistic.  

Of course it isn’t media that does it.  We have Netflix and the kids watch and I watch that a lot but it has no commercials.  No one is telling the kids to “want this” or “want that”.  No “biggest toy of the season” and very little to make them feel insecure that they don’t have something.

As far as news goes, they consume that via websites and while there is video, advertising online seems rather annoying rather than integrated.  Who really cares what is on that banner ad.

I keep hearing parents tell me that their kids are so demanding and consumption orientated and before we jump at the conclusion that these kids are flawed, maybe it is television advertising.  With no one to tell my kids what is cool all of the time and to tell them what they want, they just figure it out themselves.  For Oliver it is binoculars.  For Mark it is The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

The whole thing has made me wonder if for all of the worry we put on peer pressure, if media pressure is what we should be worried about.