Wednesday 28 May 2008

Journalists vs. Editorialists vs. Experts

RE: "Earlier discussion
Jane Taber took questions on the Bernier resignation
May 27, 2008 at 7:51 AM EDT"

I have a question for this newspaper. Since when did a journalist become an authority on subjects? They are biased and report and create editorials based on the newspaper's political viewpoint and biases.

I know that Jane Taber, for example, has had great opportunities to cover politics and is often on CBO on a panel, but when did we begin to see journalists as experts?
It is one thing to write about a subject, to report on it and to be interviewed, but quite another thing to be seen to be an expert and to be able to answer questions from on-line readers.

I am concerned that the media has moved from reporting to interpreting (which is based on their experience, knowledge and research) to now giving their opinions as truth. I am not being disrespectful of highly regarded journalists, but simply questioning the purpose in this. Sometimes, the viewers/internet users have more knowledge and experience than the journalists, but not often. On the other end of the spectrum what is the reason for the 'man-in-the-street' polls and interviews? We take as gospel truth the opinions of those casually approached in TV Media, the Globe publishes polls with viewer responses. This violates all aspects of good research validity and reliability. I continue to be amazed that media devotes pixels, ink and air time to these pieces.

I would prefer that the Media deliver the news.

Monday 26 May 2008

May's Ferocious Flying Visitors

May you be a half hour outdoors before the bugs know you are there!

The past month has been great for the black flies and mosquitoes. The black flies love the cooler temperatures and have been thriving. Mosquitoes turned up in April but didn't really go after us until May. Our daytime temps have fluctuated between 3 degrees in the early morning, to 10 degrees during the day. Last weekend it warmed up some, and cleared up by the time the tourists had to go home. This is bad for business! So many residents rely on the tourist industry for their livelihood.

The cat sits on the deck and eats a bug a minute. A bug a minute eats me and my husband. We have to keep moving and stay in the sun. The mosquitoes are pesky, and come out in the warmer weather. The black flies go away if I work in the sun shine, then come back the moment a wispy cloud comes between me and the warmth of the day. Last night the cats were pleased with the warm evening and took off. By 1:00 a.m. I was worried about our kitten and went outdoors to find him. There were no black flies, but a few mosquitoes bzzzzing around. I kept moving and calling and made it in the house without being taken away by these wicked little beasts. I have to put salve on the black fly bites, though. Big chunks of flesh torn out and a large lump remaining. They get in behind eye glasses and if your hands are dirty you risk much. One of them bit a chunk out of me just beyond the outside corner of my eye. I look bruised, my eye is swollen and have to assure all that I am OK.

There are those who say we only have three seasons in central Ontario: construction, bugs and snow. In the past few days we have felt 20 degrees celsius, and a welcome break from the coolness of the previous days. It helps of you refrain from perfumes, hair products, and other body lotions. Staying in the sun helps, if you cannot abide long sleeves, pants and hats. I still find that Skin-So-Soft works well on a normal day. This isn't normal, though. They swarm the moment you leave the sanctuary of the house. Starving, voracious little breeders, they need blood to survive. (Think of the mother bear defending her cubs!)

I know that the warmth and eventual heat of June and July will kill of the merciless little beasts who like to take a chunk out of skin. The mosquitoes circles around, often indoors, and drive the sleep deprived nuts as they try to kill the last bug keeping them awake. Next it will be the ants that come in for a break. I can't wait.

I pity the wildlife in the forest. There is nothing as irritating as that sound of the dreaded bugs. Some nights I hide under the blankets if we have been slow at closing doors. (The cats help indoors as well: often trucking nimbly after a flying insect.) Moose run across the forest floor trying to escape. The birds by the shore seem as unfazed as the cats. Although the geese and ducks have an elaborate bath ritual. Perhaps I was mistaken and they are trying to get rid of the flying bugs, not crawling ones!

Of course, the 'good' bugs are out, too: bees and hummingbird moths spread pollen. The dragonflies eat up the bugs, too.

Sunday 25 May 2008

May 2008 was a great year for photos!

Spring slowly unfolds

It is wonderful seeing spring slowly develop. As I look across the lake, I notice many different colours. I absorb the energy and the spirit of nature: destiny unfolding, as it should. Each day, as I observe in quiet mediation, or driving by the deep forests, I noticed that the buds on the trees get larger and larger. It looks as if an artist had gone out in the night and painted more buds. The maple trees had bright red buds. The greens and yellows of the other hardwoods began to hide the homes of permanent residents, as if they were protecting them from the tourists who would soon arrive from the big city. Eventually the homes will no longer be visible. The pine trees are becoming bright green in contrast with the brown of the tree trunks. The colours are beautiful.

In Autumn, the trees proudly display their changing leaves; arrogantly bragging and showing off their striking formal dress. The varied greens, reds, and yellows of spring are more subtle than the glorious fall showing. The buds, as they develop, have much more texture with leaves in varying states of development. The few blossoms in our tough deciduous forests; crab apples, aromatic poplars, compete with trillium in the forest. It is a beautiful scene. The sun sparkles on the water with a brisk wind whipping up the waves, a fine frame for the scene. With cold nights and cool days, the black flies are merciless. The wild animals are irritated. School busses have to wait for moose to cross the road. The animals are hungry as they break their winter fast.

The sounds of nature explode with honking of geese, chirping of spring peepers, buzzing of insects. The hummingbirds have come back, too. The irritating noise of the motor boats break the calming sounds, but week days are much quieter. The boats do not scare Eddie and Eva, or Oscar and Myrtle our ducks. The blue heron has returned, as well. She is quite frightened by the sudden influx of two-legged ones. I hope for peace and harmony as we teach our city visitors how to treat nature and wildlife.

Saturday 17 May 2008

Victoria Day Long Weekend: May 16 -19

The week began to the north, with four-wheelers in Parry Sound. We drove up for a few errands. There must have been nearly a dozen of these vehicles driving around the town. Good thing there wasn't much traffic! What a sight to see!

The weekend started with a bang - or, I should say, a wail. With 1,000,000 people predicted to travel highway 400, the Ontario Provincial Police, with many crime alerts on the highway, had a helicopter posted to spot speeders and wacko drivers. They hired another helicopter to patrol over highway #69. With 8.1 million people living in the Golden Horseshoe, we have always found that people are either driving to or fro around Ontario, and this region. StatsCan says that this comprises 2/3 of the population of Ontario and 25% of the population of Canada. When we travel to visit our son, an actor in two shows at Shaw Festival, highways 400 & 407 are always busy. A drive around Lake Ontario is an adventure. Traffic is heavy and continuous on such weekends with folks going from Toronto to Niagara, as well as Stratford, for the many festivals that mark tourist season.

There are those who visit our area and bring the stress and the desperate hurry of the city with them. They fail to take time to feel, listen, look, and smell the scent of the country. The lessons of the wildlife, who sit contented at the shore, escape them as they escape their city life. In my middle age have found much healing at the water's shore. Some people drive as if they are on their way to an emergency and put many of us at risk. We know that the OPP has been vigilant in tracking those who speed. We take our time and pull over when we encounter such drivers. It is simply not worth it to feel their stress as they anxiously tailgate in their hurry to make it to their important destination. The OPP have targeted these city drivers, and rightly so.

Friday afternoon, as we sat by the water in the sun, far from the crowds, we could hear sirens about every 20 minutes. I think I heard a firetruck, too. We saw the helicopter go over head as we worked by the water, embracing sun and wind and watching out for the blackflies. They are wicked at this time of year, especially in the cooler weather. You have to stay in the sun, as it is chilly with temperatures of only 18 degrees or so. The problem is that the blackflies are numerous and you really need to find a hot, sunny, sheltered spot to sit or work. The wind keeps the flies down, but it is a bit more chilly.

Our birds, and Bea, the racoon, continue to feed at the shore. The heron has been visiting more frequently, although there are not many frogs or other prey, although one hopped across and under my way as I knelt working in the garden. In the pond I can see many clusters of eggs with the tadpoles growing inside. I have warned them all that the tourists are arriving soon. The geese sit on our rock and watch the odd boat go by, apparently non-plussed. The cat will sit on the dock and observe our beloved creatures, even Bea has come to terms with the cats, who realize she is a frowsy-looking mother seeking to feed her young.

The violets and the forget-me-nots show off their purples and blues. They embrace the cool weather, the warmth of the sun, and present their spring colours. The few hardy pansies that I planted show their faces and smile, content in the breath of spring air. The daffodils have faded, but many of the other garden plants are beginning to raise their heads to nod at the arrival of spring. We cannot compete with the beauty of the showy trees of Niagara, but the green is startlingly bright with the rain and the growing conditions.

Thursday 15 May 2008

Eddie and Eva and the battle with lonesome Charlie!

This is the story of Eva, Eddie and Lonesome Charlie!  What a trio. They made up in the end, and flew off to raise their young.
Eddie likes to protect his rock. Off he goes after Lonesome Charlie, Charlie takes off. Please with his effort, Eddie goes back to his rock. Another chase, as Eddie gives it another try.
Eva ignores the boys as they fight. Charlie comes back for another go at it. Eddie looks over at the cracked corn on the rock. Eddie is vigilant, Eva grooms. Closer and closer. he wind ruffles Charlie's feathers. Eddie figures he needs to put some grooming time in, too. One big happy family? The third time lucky, Charlie watches as Eddie postures. He made it. Eddie ignores him. It is spring, and the water rises, as do the hormones. I don't know what it is that Edie allowed Charlie, and the ducks, to feed. They all lived happily ever after. Actually, they disappeared, I presume to raise their young.

Saturday 10 May 2008

weekends & tourists

It is so peaceful here during the week. We have many visitors.

As the tourists fill up the lakeside, the geese, whom we feed every day, become wary. We have two pair of geese (one pair is Edie and Eva), who keeps the other pair away from the cracked corn we throw out for them. There is one lone goose and a flock of single ducks, as well as a pair of mallards we call Oscar & Myrtle. We have told the neighbours that we are escaping the tourists for the city. We know how many ducks we have and they all better be here when we get back, as we have full counts of our populations. There is a pair of loons, and couple of mergansers, too.

We have a raccoon who visits looking for food, the cat usually trees it or chases it off the property.

We abhor the weekends when the tourists come. When they arrive they seem to have to honk at the top of a driveway, letting the entire peninsula know that they are here. They the shouting and laughing seems jarring after a week of bird calls, squirrels chirping at the cats, and the murmur of the geese and ducks. Not that the laughter is not welcome, but it seems so intrusive as sound can carry across the still lake. A motorboat went by as we sat by the shore, watching our geese preen and primp. The goose watched them pass, as they commented on them. But s/he held fast on our "Flower Rock", as we call it. The geese bobbed up and down, then did a complete flip, soaking their backs, feet up in the air as they soaked their feathers. Then, back upright they used their beaks to preen their beautiful bodies and wings. They did this several times, completely soaking one wing first, then repeating with the other one. Once that was done they stretched their wings to the full 3 or 4 ' width, and flapped very hard lifting themselves slightly off of the water with a deep, drum beat as their wings flapped back and forth to dry. They are so marvellous to watch. We sit in awe.

Everytime they come in for a landing they arrive honking. I am not sure if it is to warn the smaller ducks. Another pair of geese came by, I could see Edie becoming agitated. He honked up a storm warning. He got off the rock, and lowered his body into the water. Then, he stretched his neck out, as if trying to hide himself. Eventually, he rose up to meet the other bird. He was not amused. He flew up as if in a rage, and flew at the duck. It took off about 5 or 6 meters and stopped. He kept at him. And kept him away. Eva just kept up her preening, content to let Eddie do the work.

Yesterday, a lone goose came by. This time, Eddie chased it off about 10 m. then returned to his rock by his mate. The goose repeated the movements towards the shore and the bird seed. It wasn't until the third time the goose came close, perhaps 2 m in front of us, and Eddie accepted the fact and, while he watched him closely, Edie permitted him to feed off the bottom. A veritable soap opera, for sure! I wished I'd had the videocam there.

But everyone settled in, the men next door BBQd their meal, on their "boys only" weekend, promised to watch out for our friends while we escaped to the city to visit Shaw Festival and see our son's performance in The Stepmother.

Friday 9 May 2008

Seniors Driving

With an increased life span, and many people with health issues we must be more vigilant in monitoring health issues in seniors. Current buzz revolves around keeping senors off the road.

The Star seems concerned about this issue with two articles!

Physicians, health care providers, family members and insurers are responsible for reporting seniors who are unable to drive. Despite the magic age of 80, we must be aware and take responsibility at the earliest signs of dementia. Families have a responsibility to monitor their aging family members to protect society. If a family member has shown dementia-related factors, then adult children must monitor these issues.

CBC this morning featured a clip that stated that "100,000 drivers over the age of 65 will be on the roads in 2028." I was quite surprised. How certain are they that these folks will have dementia? I hope to sail through my 60s in good health. Such ageism in this day and age...

We can prevent, identify and ameliorate dementia symptoms, but they must be recognized and faced up front by family and neighbours. Most are in denial in my experience. When accessing services caregivers and family members might be at their wit’s end.

In Ontario the CCAC oversees patients released from hospital, but their mandate does not cover frail or ailing seniors at risk in the community. Very few resources exist. Some seniors can find resources through non-profit agencies (see my links), but these agencies rely on donations, rather than tax dollars, and care is finite and difficult to arrange. Aging at home funding agencies and programs have been slow to develop, despite a long-standing client bases in those who are disabled and in supportive living and day programs.

Thursday 8 May 2008

Health Issues in Ontario

Changes must occur before the Ontario initiative towards establishing Family Health Teams will have an impact. Physicians are not trained to look at the whole person. They tend to treat symptoms and not conditions or diseases. With limited time they may not be able to devote time to more than one issue. If their client faces a major issue, such as cancer, or depression, other comorbidities will remain untreated as they attempt to spend time on the most serious issue.

Currently, if you have physical issues you may or may not encounter a physician who understands mental health issues. In my situation, I was facing depression issues due to various personal factors: moving, changing jobs, living apart from my husband, working in a new environment with a new boss and a stressful job. As time passed, I then began giving palliative care to my mother.

Concurrently, I faced menopause symptoms that affected my sleep patterns, energy levels, gave me acne, dry skin and many other symptoms. But some of these symptoms were attributed to my bereavement and depression issues.

What would help a Family Health Team, would be either a patient navigator, nurse practitioner, or a case manager who can help patients oversee management of their care. An holistic approach is the only way to ensure that physical and mental health issues are dealt with in a timely and auspicious manner.

Saturday 3 May 2008

Death in LTC

The most recent death while preventable, is not unexpected.
I predict an inquiry in which, as my husband said, will only result in two deaths: the already deceased frail senior and the truth.
A new long-term care act, part of Health Minister George Smitherman's "revolution" into nursing home care, promised after a 2003 Star investigation into nursing home neglect, will further tighten the rules around restraints. Homes must first show that there is no alternative before they can be used.
The truth is clear. Some seniors must be restrained. Seat belts must be tight. If a senior is determined to get out of a chair, they will worry it with all their might.

My heart goes out to families who must choose LTC and leaving family members in profit-oriented institutions. Long-Term Care has faced a great deal of criticism and the current crisis overwhelms a system unable to care for its seniors in dignity and respect. The barriers are immense: lack of funds for more staff, untrained staff, lack of staff to hire, and the inability of a system to maintain already high waiting lists of ailing seniors. We cannot meet their needs either at home or in the LTC sector. There are not enough nurses, physicians, or PSWs.
The food is bland and unappetizing.
Issues include:
• More palliative care rooms.
• More staff
• Better trained staff with a wide-range of expertise to manage chronic disease
• Family health teams that include PSWs, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, as well as Physicians, to address issues and deliver a full range of care
• More funding for staff
• Requirements for in-service training of PSWs, and medical staff, including nurses and physicians in geriatric issues: physical and mental health issues which require specific treatments
• More continuity of care, with staffing levels that permit this to occur

I recall my father desperately trying to release the seat belt mechanism on his wheelchair. In his advanced state of dementia he could not understand that he needed to stay in the chair. More often than not I would go into the LTC residence and find him worrying the seat belt, trying to take it off, instead removing his pants, and knocking things over in the process.

Restraints are important. Dad would continually get up out of bed in the night, fall, and then lie on the floor. First they raised the sides of the bed. This did not work. They put mattress pads on the floor around his bed and lowered it to the floor. Eventually, he was physically unable to roll out of he bed. It is heart-breaking to see.