Wendy put together a Christmas gift guide for the cook (or foodie) in your life at The Cooking Blog. If you are shopping for someone that loves to cook or bake, make sure you check it out. All of the holiday season’s Christmas gift guides are being posted here so if you are shopping online or are just looking for some gift ideas, the site can help.
The weekend that was: At the Ward 2 forum, my winter jacket was stolen so I spent much of Saturday at the Prairie Summit Shop (there is a Blackstrap joke in there somewhere), Cabela’s, Outdoor Outfitters, and Mark’s Work Warehouse trying to find a jacket I liked that wasn’t going to cost me over $300. Finally I gave up and ran into Wal-Mart where I found the jacket I wanted for $40. I’ll call that a win.
The last time I was at a Ward 2 event, I ended up quitting my job right after. This time my jacket was stolen. I am going to stay out of the ward from now on.
Where I am at the moment: Chilling at work. Listening to Mumford and Sons.
On my to-do list this week: Way too much.
Procrastinating about: Planning our 15th Anniversary dinner.
Book I’m in the midst of: Nothing, just about 20 magazine articles.
Music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: Been listening to the new Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas.
How I’m feeling about this week: I hope the weather stays nice.
The other day DeeAnn Mercier and I were arguing about the hiking the food desert that she was a part of last year. I was talking about it being kind of pointless when Station 20 West was opening up when I realized how much people spend each check day to get to Safeway/Superstore/Wal-Mart in taxis which of course comes right out of the food budget. While Station 20 West will be a big part of the solution, it is still a long ways for people to get groceries. That lead to a discussion about some of the stats in the core neighbourhoods that we have heard over the last year and DeeAnn suggested visualizing some of those statistics into videos. The idea was appealing although relearning Flash (or more than likely Swish wasn’t appealing) As we brainstormed, debated, argued, and brainstormed some more we put together a framework that hopefully will tell the stories of what life is like for those below the poverty line in Saskatoon.
The plan is take look at a bunch of different urban issues that are affecting Saskatoon. Housing, drugs, crime, sex trade, income disparity, racism, urban design, food security, and even sports. Using video, we want to tell the story from the perspective of those struggling to get by but also what the City of Saskatoon, the Province of Saskatchewan, the Government of Canada, and service providers are doing about it. While the story of people struggling is told and the story of government initiatives are told, they are often told independently when in reality they are totally connected.
It’s also a chance to do a project like this correctly. Too often we have seen documentaries shot in Saskatoon that ignore the facts of the situation. They tell a sad story but miss the contributing factors, what others have done, and either ignore the bigger issues or place blame in the wrong places (sometimes on the individual, sometimes on the wrong part of the system).
It won’t be one episode but a series of 10-12 minute videos posted to our channels on YouTube and Vimeo with the goal of posting one a month. If you are interesting in joining our little project to explore and tell the stories of life in Saskatoon, why not contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
You can find out more about our efforts at collectiveimpact.ca, follow us on Twitter (@TheCollectiveSK), YouTube (CollectiveImpactYXE) and Vimeo (CollectiveImpactYXE). We’d love your help and feedback.
I miss working in Riversdale. I am heading down today and renewing my membership at The Two Twenty. I am not sure how often I will use the space but part of me enjoys life better when I am working down there.
A couple of years ago I would periodically stumble to my right from time to time. I wouldn’t fall but I would find myself hitting a wall once in a while and that was embarrassing. It was totally random and it was more annoying than anything. I did go see my doctor who sent me to a neurologist who did a bunch of painful testing. Part of what I learned was that my nerves were either non-responsive, really slow, or misfiring in parts of my leg. As they would misfire or not respond, I would stumble a bit.
Misfiring nerves has been the story of the last eight or nine years of my life. What drove me to getting help for my diabetes was the knowledge that something was wrong because of the pain in my extremities. The pain never left but got progressively worse. Nerve pain is unlike anything else you will ever have and my polyneuropathic pain dominated my life for a couple of years. It was all encompassing and nothing helped. Anywhere I had nerve endings (feet, hands, face) was in overwhelming pain for months at a time. It was relentless. Pain medication didn’t help. Stuff like Oxycontin didn’t help and had some annoying side effects at a time in my life when the last thing I needed was annoying side effect. While nerve pain is horribly painful, it is kind of fun to reflect on. I remember being in excruciating pain and thinking, “This is a new kind of pain, it’s like I am being drilled into slowly” while other times it felt very much like being burned or being electrocuted. While the pain has become more manageable, it is still there, all of the time.
Since then it has gotten progressively worse where now walking is a conscious effort many days. What I mean by that is that it’s no longer natural and I find myself thinking about the constant lack of balance that I feel. They tell you as a kid that once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget. Well apparently that’s not true because I am forgetting how to walk. It’s not noticeable for others unless I can’t see where I am walking, like carrying things down stairs or if I am walking in a residential neighbourhood which really bad sidewalks like Mayfair (the old trees lift the sidewalks). I also can’t use my iPhone and walk at the same time. Fatigue also plays a role. All I know is that I hate this with a passion.
With it getting worse, I went and had more tests done and the result is that I am losing my ability to walk. No body knows how long but it is degenerative and will continue to get worse. There are things I can do to slow it but I can’t really ever stop it. The doctor said that it may plateau and be manageable with a cane but that is a best case scenario. Worst case is that it continues to spread.
I don’t know how to feel about it. Yesterday was a day of cancer, suicides, and serious health issues for the clients I work with and I just shrug that off. It’s part of life. So too is this. It’s part of my life and I need to deal with it. It’s frustrating because it’s not something that I can tackle head on and fight. It’s my body giving up on me and I hate that. All I know is if I get a cane, I want one of those ones with the blade hidden in the handle like all of the spies had in the Len Deighton novels I read as a kid.
The weekend that was: On Friday night I dropped by the Rook and Raven to celebrate Sean Shaw’s birthday. On Saturday morning we took Oliver up to the cabin for a night of rest and relaxation. It was so relaxing that other than filling the bird feeder, I got nothing else I want done accomplished which was okay. I did manage to get in a long nap, an extended game of fetch in the lake with Maggi, and a good night’s sleep.
I also realized that the last time I spent some time at the cabin, I came home and quit my job the next day. A lot has happened since I was last up there. One thing that did catch my eye was this hanging on the wall. Wendy had seen it and bought it before our last trip up there. Odd how life works sometimes.
Where I am at the moment: I am work.
On my to-do list this week: I have some bad medical news that is going to be confirmed. Nothing life threatening but maddening and frustrating. I am also finishing up a marketing/communications plan.
Procrastinating about: That doctor’s appointment.
Music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: Been listening to the new Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas.
How I’m feeling about this week: It’s going to be a good week.
Here is a summary of my weekend
- Finished The Patrol by Ryan Flavelle by which is about a seven day patrol by Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Recommended.
- Came into work on Sunday and prepped for a meeting that I having this morning.
- Had coffee with the Siebert’s which is always a good time. I was also introduced to Ubuntu which is fast even on a P4. It runs Libre Office, Skype, has five gigs of backup space, and handles email and the web just fine (Chrome and Firefox). I could see The Lighthouse using it for both residential and office computers. Oh yeah, Jared told me it installed in ten minutes which is 47 hours and 50 minutes faster than a Vista or XP install is taking me.
- Finished watching Generation Kill. It’s not as good as The Wire (few shows are) but it is amazing in it’s own way. I really enjoyed both the book by Evan Wright and the show which was done by David Simon and Ed Burns.
I have written about my type 2 diabetes before here and one of the more troubling aspects of it is what it has done to my feet. Both my feet have suffered a lot of nerve damage and while the pain is under control by walking, taking alpha lipolic acid and using Neurogen. Despite using both of those, I can’t walk barefoot on asphalt (the pain is overwhelming) or on sand. At the lake I have on a pair of water shoes that makes it possible to go into the water and they work fine.
I had been thinking of getting a pair of Vibram FiveFingers shoes for a couple of years but they look dorkish and I didn’t think I would wear them. Over the last couple of weeks I have been talking to a bunch of diabetic doctors who all swear by them, especially because they prevent some of the atrophy of the feet that come from the nerve damage that we experience.
So far I don’t know if I like them which from what I have been told is kind of normal at first moving from a regular running or hiking shoe but we will see how it goes. Michael Hyatt posted this review of his in 2009. As he says,
Twenty-five percent of all your bones are in your feet. Your feet are a marvel of biological engineering. They are designed to adjust your stride, distribute your weight, and minimize the impact on your joints—on the fly. Unfortunately, when you encase them in modern running shoes, your feet lose contact with the ground. They don’t adjust. They aren’t free to do what they were made to do.
While I have read that your feet take some time to adjust to the shoes and initially feel quite tired, my feet have loved the shoes and have felt quite comfortable in them. We will see how this goes throughout the summer and see if I get back any of the balance I have lost over the next several months.
In what is a tradition around here, I tend to live blog my birthday. For some reason some of you care about that and who am I to mess with a stupid tradition. (2011 | 2009| 2008 | 2007| 2006 | 2005 | 2003)
12:00 a.m. | Sleeping
1:00 a.m. | Fighting with Maggi for covers on the bed.
1:15 a.m. | Maggi won. Darn it.
2:00 a.m. | Pretending to sleep so Wendy will get up with Oliver who is sick.
3:00 a.m. | Sleeping
4:00 a.m. | Sleeping
5:00 a.m. | Crap, forget to turn off alarm.
5:01 a.m. | Sleeping
6:00 a.m. | Might as well get up. Dog’s had the covers all night long.
8:00 a.m. | Back to bed
8:08 a.m. | Oliver and Mark are up and wanting to give me my gifts. They gave me the Generation Kill DVD set and a new set of headphones. Wendy gave me Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, a story about the slums of Mumbai, the dogs gave me Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean (never sure how Maggi is raising the money she spends) while they all went together and got me a new stereo/iPod dock.
The bad news is that I have to listen to the Adele album that I bought Wendy. Doh!
10:00 a.m. | Oliver made me watch Power Rangers with him. That wasn’t a good time.
11:00 a.m. | Off to get some Brier tickets for the final tonight and have lunch at Fuddruckers where Mark wants me to eat a one pound hamburger. If I do eat it, it may very well decide how the rest of my birthday goes.
11:30 a.m | Brier tickets secured.
12:00 p.m. | Lunch at Asia Buffet.
1:00 p.m. | A quick trip to Indigo where I grabbed a discounted copy of Conversations with Myself by Nelson Mandela and Arrival City by Doug Saunders. Because the last thing I would want to do is have a totally pleasant birthday, I also picked up Invisible Chains, a book about the sex trade and human trafficking in Canada.
3:00 p.m. | I am watching Band of Brothers with Mark this afternoon while getting some work down.
4:40 p.m. | Mark has been introduced to NBA Jam on the iPad. Boom-shaka-lacka
5:00 p.m. | What the heck? Where did that flu come from. This isn’t good.
6:30 p.m. | Wendy made me a nice supper and am putting back another episode of Band of Brothers with Mark. I forgot how great the music is in the series. Best line from the mini-series, “We’re paratrooper’s Lieutenant, we’re supposed to be surrounded.”
8:00 p.m. | I am off to bed for the night. The flu has gotten worse.
Well my hearing is slowly but surely returning. The background static is gone and while it isn’t back yet, I can hear enough to function. Blowing my nose is extremely painful (it pops the left ear horribly) but other than that, it is slowly returning to normal. I am off the antibiotics but am still using some ear drops to ensure that there is no infection while the ears heal.
In the end I feel really, really lucky. I have heard stories from people (and know some) that have had the same problem and lost their hearing. As a doctor said, if I had waited at all, it could have been a lot worse.
- Take the stairs to the top of The Lighthouse at least daily. This seems like a really good idea now that building is only four stories but when the new tower is nine stories this summer, it could be a really bad idea.
- Carry less crap. There are days when I go to work with my DSLR, a video camera, my notebook, a Moleskine, an iPod, and my cell phone. Do I really need that much stuff? Well considering that I have never used all of it in a single day, probably not.
- Ride my bike more. Wendy has a Dave King inspired goal of riding 750 kms this year. I think I will join her although none of those miles will be done at Ice Cycle which I still think is insane, no matter how many people enjoy cycling in –40 weather.
- Read more books in 2012. Darryl Dash has a post on how he wants his reading to more focused which I tend to go the other way. I want to read and explore topics that I haven’t explored before, understand new things, and then figure out how they fit together later. In the spirit of Thomas Homer-Dixon’s book The Ingenuity Gap, I want to be a deep generalist. Part of it is the column I write but part of it is cultivating a spirit of curiosity. It may be because I am at a point of life when I have a lot to learn and I don’t have the need to be a specialist.
- Contribute more to the matrix of agencies that I am a part of as a staff member at The Lighthouse. Some of those actions are proprietary but I can’t handle agencies that don’t play that well with others. It comes from an atmosphere of fear and competition that doesn’t need to exist. Hopefully we can model a different way.
- Spend more money locally. Saskatoon Farmer’s Market, Souleio, Broadway Roastery, The Two Twenty, Collective Coffee… you know businesses that are Saskatoon born and bred. Less Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, and fast food joints.
- Attend more University of Saskatchewan Huskies and Saskatoon Hilltops games. The Huskies may have the best game day experience of any football team in Canada and the Hilltops because of what they did for Mark’s understanding of football in 2011. That and all they do is win national championships.
- Post more photos. Despite having a decent camera phone camera, a DSLR, and a pretty good compact camera, I took far too photos in 2011. That needs to change in 2012.
- Keep losing weight in 2012. I lost 40 pounds since my heart event this summer and I want to lose another 120. I should have it lost by next Christmas.
- Listen to more music. I love music but I rarely take time to listen to it. It’s always a background activity and never a foreground one.
Those are my resolutions. Good luck with yours.
It’s been an interesting week at work and at home. I might as well first talk about work.
- For me I should be at home but I am at The Lighthouse. I have been working with a really paranoid guy and we had been making some progress. Today some events happened that more or less undid all of the progress we had made. I am loitering around the office trying to see if I can make it better because I feel terrible about how it went down. An staff member at The Salvation Army used to bug me for my bleeding heart and she is right. Colleague at The Lighthouse walked into my office with some chocolates and says, “These are disgusting, do you want to try one?” Her salesmanship was lacking. I used the same line on Wendy later in the week and she tried on and said, “They taste like soap.” I later offered them to some residents with both comments attached and some people took me up on my dare. One liked them and the others agreed with Wendy’s assentation that it tasted like soap. At least they were warned.
- Seniors below the poverty line are not well treated in this country. Once on pension seniors do not qualify for emergency social services nor do they get things like supplemental health coverage. It’s really tough and if they have limited capacity, the system doesn’t do much to reach out to them. In Saskatchewan there is a shortage of care homes which mean that care home operators are quite choosy because there is always someone easier to take care of. It’s sad but those that need help the most in our society often are the last to get it.
- Christmas is a really tough time for those in a shelter. Some colleagues at The Lighthouse asked every resident here what they wanted for Christmas and went out for seven hours in the malls and bought (and wrapped) each resident what they wanted. The staff now have signs of PTSD after seven hours in the mall but are the residents ever excited about it. On top of that our Rawlco Radio rep, Sheldon came by with some pizza and lunch for the staff and then shocked us when he told us that Adopt A Family gave each resident of both the rooms and the shelters a nice gift card for Christmas. People are pretty excited that they are getting what they wanted for Christmas, I can’t imagine how excited they will be because of what Rawlco/Adopt a Family has done.
- The Lighthouse is the old Empire Hotel. When it was built in 1909 it was THE hotel in the city and expensive (and $2.50 a night). I got the hardhat tour of the building. I need to bring my DSLR and a tripod to take some photos some day as there is some mysteries to this old place like where to the bricked up doorways under 20th go?
- I am reading Super Freakonomics this week. It’s a good book and is on sale for $10 at Indigo! if you are interested.
- I am really loving working downtown. It’s a bit farther walk home than it was from the Salvation Army but I can cut through Midtown Plaza and stop by at one of two Starbucks or Cafe Sola if I am so inclined. Of course it also brings me by 33rd Street Safeway to see Wendy if it isn’t that busy. While the commute works, I forgot how great it is to eat downtown. Soulieo has become a new favourite for lunch.
I am not sure what my plans are tomorrow yet. I know it doesn’t include going to a mall or any shopping. If you waited this late to do your Christmas shopping, may you have safe shopping mercies as you will need it.