Friday, May 30, 2008

Off to Montreal

Well since I'm up early in the morning to head to the airport...this will be brief. I'm heading out to Montreal for a national infection control conference and yes it is as exciting as it sounds - hand sanitizer everywhere, lots of doom and gloom - what more could you want?

In the mad rush to get out of the office, while doing all the end of month paperwork, add in some computer problems and it was ended up to be a pretty insane day. With tomorrow the last day of (a rotten) lobster season and everyone landing traps and two household occupants working opposite shifts in a nursing home and you get the picture.

One of the staff asked me to check on immunization requirements for her for....Rwanda as she's in the running for a mission for physiotherapists. I told her she was only allowed to go if she takes me with her. She said she would have to fundraise as it would cost $6000 but there was an optional trip to see the gorillas and as she said to her husband "if I go that far I am certainly going to see those gorillas!" That goes without saying I assured her.

In the spirit of travel I am pasting a link to a website a local travel agent sent to me about ziploc baggies and travel:

Back in the land of anglophones by Friday so behave until then.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oh no, I can't go

When I looked at my appointment book this morning and discovered that I was already registered for a workshop in the city for one of the dates of the Woods Hole meeting to say I was disappointed was an understatement. It had seemed like such a good idea when I had requested to go and the ironic part is the topic is Conflict Management Skills for Women. The only conflict is with my recreational activities. So it appears that the man will be traveling with usual group.

This really makes me want to qualify for the cruise speaking spot this fall. I adjusted the topic list as requested and submitted it last night. This morning I received a message saying the account manager had put everything together and submitted a proposal to the cruise line. So, we shall see. I'm still a bit wary as I'm wondering why all the Maritime cruises disappeared from the website but negative thoughts are not helpful so....

I had started organizing for packing but first that meant doing laundry, which meant putting away clothes, then trying on what I'd like to take, getting down the suitcases and measuring them, by then the bedtime of the lobster fisherman arrived get the picture - I'm going to pack tomorrow night.

Yesterday as I was driving home there was a report of two lobster fishermen lost near Halifax as they hadn't been seen since early a.m. hauling traps and then debris from the boat was spotted. A search team had been organized to look for the father and son. I got an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach and thought of their family and community. Today as I was making my way home the news reported that RCMP divers had recovered both of their bodies near the boat which was sitting on bottom and interviewed a nephew who had identified them. I cried. That is way too close to home.

After dropping off a car trunk full of books at the local second hand book shop and packing up two bags for the hospital thrift shop I am making progress in sorting out the cupboards. I must get myself off line as I'm awaiting a report as to how the trip to Red Deer went.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Still in the running

Well perhaps all the whining paid off as today I received some emails from the cruise ship speaking agency and basically the account manager is just back from her wedding/honeymoon and getting around to putting proposals together for the cruise lines. She asked for four or five topics for the Quebec to New York 10 day Sea Princess cruise (Classic Canada and New England) mid October, which I'd expressed an interest in so I certainly obliged on that. Figured I could pull off decent presentations on Quebec City, Cape Breton, Halifax, Boston or Rhode Island and threw in the lobstering and Duck Tollers for good measure (largely in part because I actually have those done) So, we shall see.

As well the shore captain came home today with the details on his US/Canada science/fishery meetings being held in Cape Cod the end of June and I'm invited to tag along. They're being hosted in Wood's Hole, Mass. and so we just get a chance to visit our summer neighbour in Vermont if all goes well. We were checking out prices/schedules for the ferry and it will be a fair investment to get two humans and a vehicle over and back but since the journey is funded (at least for himself) then it's a good start.

So I'm gradually picking away at my vacation but still have plenty left to play with and a fair number of airmiles as well. So lots of chances to scheme some absences from work. And it would sure be good for my mental health after today - enough said!

Mind you, I didn't start the day out in a good frame of mind as I was sleep deprived. I had scrapbooking here last night and three of my sister-in-laws and my mother-in-law came over for the evening. Lots of learning and visiting going on until late and then just after I crawled into bed at 11:30 p.m.and was completely unconscious by midnight...the phone rang. I attempted to answer it, no one there so I stumbled out to the kitchen to find the baby daughter filling her face with every light on in the house. I ask "who was on the phone?" and she says "oh, they hung up" with a smirk on her face, so I make my confused way to the phone to look at the caller ID and when my foggy brain registers that the number which has called is from her cell phone I tell her that I don't want to wake myself by assaulting her and go back to bed. When I describe the exchange to her father in the a.m. he suggests marching in and holding a repeat performance for her before I leave for work. So I do just that and I have to admit that it is funny, quite funny actually to see the look on her semiconscious face until as I'm driving up the driveway for work I remember....there is Febreeze in the house and I'm leaving her home with it.

A few years back I asked her to Febreeze in the living room and in a fit of pique she said "you want Febreeze, you'll get Febreeze" When I came down from the office I almost had an asthma attack but wouldn't let on of course. When the houseplants all started dying in the next few days I couldn't imagine why, then when I watered them and the foamy blue stuff in the pots and the smell of Febreeze filled the room as there'd been so much sucked in through the leaves into the soil, I realized what had happened. All the mud had to be thrown out and a friend donated new plants and I started over. Needless to say she hasn't been given Febreeze duties again.

Had a quick message (of course I was online with this dagnabbit dialup) from daughter # 1 and it appears she's surviving the training well. Never doubted that she wouldn't for a moment.

Well off to hit the sack as the morning alarm will ring early.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A party?

Well a four-day week just behind us and that’s a good thing, too bad this weekend wasn’t a holiday here as well as the U.S. is my way of thinking as I’m listening to Memorial Day concerts on Sirius radio. But I must head out to the district facility on Monday and one other day this week actually so only wishful thinking.

It was the old guy’s 52nd birthday on Friday but for some reason the baby daughter was convinced that it was 53 and had it written on the ice cream cake she came home with and the card (which he said he could keep and use next year) It’s only when you’re waiting to turn 19 (here in NS) that you want to add a year I told her. After that age of majority birthday the rest don’t matter. He had calls from his two ‘away’ daughters, a card which arrived on the actual date and a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt which had been hidden here for him – he’s one of the few folks who would dare to wear such a thing. He had expressed an interest in a glass plate, which has been at Charlotte Lane for the past couple of seasons so I dropped in with a gift certificate and picked it up for him. It’s apparently a cod (as the expert tells me) and looks great on top of the dining room sideboard. All kinds of excitement for a guy who had to get up at 4 a.m. as he replied to the daughter when asked if he was having a party. Supper punctuated with phone calls about bait and lobsters and time to watch a hockey game – it doesn’t get much better than that. Speaking of aging, I found this timely piece in today’s paper:

Old brain may be wiserBy SARA REISTAD-LONG The New York TimesSat. May 24 -
When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong.

Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit.

The studies are analyzed in a new edition of a neurology book, Progress in Brain Research. Some brains do deteriorate with age. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, strikes 13 per cent of Americans 65 and older. But for most aging adults, the authors say, much of what occurs is a gradually widening focus of attention that makes it more difficult to latch onto just one fact, like a name or a telephone number. Although that can be frustrating, it is often useful.

"It may be that distractibility is not, in fact, a bad thing," said Shelley H. Carson, a psychology researcher at Harvard whose work was cited in the book. "It may increase the amount of information available to the conscious mind."

For example, in studies where subjects are asked to read passages that are interrupted with unexpected words or phrases, adults 60 and older work much more slowly than college students. Although the students plow through the texts at a consistent speed regardless of what the out-of-place words mean, older people slow down even more when the words are related to the topic at hand. That indicates that they are not just stumbling over the extra information, but are taking it in and processing it.

When both groups were later asked questions for which the out-of-place words might be answers, the older adults responded much better.

"For the young people, it’s as if the distraction never happened," said an author of the review, Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and a senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute. "But for older adults, because they’ve retained all this extra data, they’re now suddenly the better problem solvers. They can transfer the information they’ve soaked up from one situation to another."

Such tendencies can yield big advantages in the real world, where it is not always clear what information is important, or will become important. A seemingly irrelevant point or suggestion in a memo can take on new meaning if the original plan changes. Or extra details that stole your attention, like others’ yawning and fidgeting, may help you assess the speaker’s real impact.
"A broad attention span may enable older adults to ultimately know more about a situation and the indirect message of what’s going on than their younger peers," Hasher said. "We believe that this characteristic may play a significant role in why we think of older people as wiser."

In a 2003 study, researchers tested students’ ability to tune out irrelevant information when exposed to a barrage of stimuli. The more creative the students were thought to be, determined by a questionnaire on past achievements, the more trouble they had ignoring the unwanted data. A reduced ability to filter and set priorities, the scientists concluded, could contribute to original thinking.

I had fired off an email to the cruise speaking agency recruiter after I found that all the Maritimes/New England positions were filled until the end of the season, when I didn’t have a reply to my request for either Sept or Oct. I asked if it would be possible to do special interest topics rather than destination if it meant that I had to wait at least a year to express interest again. I received a reply asking if I’d found any special interest positions in the Maritimes/New England schedule as that what my topics were on file for. I haven’t heard back after I made a point by point rebuttal saying that my topics could be generalized as lobstering is a world wide industry, NS Duck Tollers are more common in Scandinavia than here, etc etc. and finished up by saying my topic list almost exactly matched a gentleman speaking on Orient lines in the Mediterranean last fall. I closed with that since I was as experienced both professionally and personally I could come up with topics on just about anything, what would she suggest? Needless to say I’m still waiting for a reply. I was most ticked to think that if it were going to be a year before I got into the circuit they could at least have been up front with that. Mind you there are surely other agencies out there and if this doesn’t work out I’ll do the audition thing again, at least I have my materials together. It was rubbing salt in the wound to find the brochures and DVD from Princess Cruises, which I’d ordered for research purposes in the mail yesterday.

The way I look at it, it’s good that we have a daughter out west so have an excuse to take a trip in that direction. I’ve already started checking out ‘things to do’ in Calgary online and the list is long so no time to feel sorry. She has already begun to find her way around the city well and is heading out to Red Deer for a course on Monday so expanding her horizons. Speaking of which it appears she lives in one of the smartest cities in Canada, check it out:

I made my way out to the vets and dropped off $90 for tick, flea and worm treatments for the companion animals. Don’t laugh it could’ve been worse as they applied the discount for treating four or more animals. I asked about vaccination against lyme disease for the dog as there were black legged ticks found in a survey in Gunning Cove. They are the type of ticks, which carry lyme disease so now Public Health is just waiting for the test results to see if they are positive. The biggest challenge with the dog is getting her to the vet, as she does NOT handle transport in a vehicle well. The $70 price tag for the two injections is another matter but at least the shots can be given at the same time as regular immunizations.

As a general interest topic I’m including the link to a story about a man who lost a case about finding a fly in a water bottle (which he incidentally didn’t drink out of), which traumatized him, big time. The Supreme Court ruled he shouldn’t have reacted so if he were normally resilient. Hmmm:

This afternoon I dragged a load of yard sale stuff, which I had stored, in the barn from the old house out to the car to take to the library one day this week for the town wide yard sale happening June 7th. Have to get all caught up on chores as I’ll be away the week before that at a conference in Montreal. Hopefully the weather will sunny as predicted tomorrow so I can scratch a bit in the dirt and get the yard settled. All the transplanted perennial and shrubs seem to making their scheduled appearances after their move so I’m pleased – noticed the lungwort is blooming and the tulips are almost ready to bloom out front. The past few days have been showery which adds to a beautiful green landscape while giving an excuse not to walk, although the dog doesn’t agree.

And with the plan to leave you with a smile I’m pasting two of the more printable jokes, which a retired nurse friend sent along. They must be multigenerational as the student nurse (who is working a night shift as I type) found them amusing too:


1. A man comes into the ER and yells, "My wife's going to have her baby in the cab!" I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady's dress, and began to take off her underwear. Suddenly, I noticed that there were several cabs -- and I was in the wrong one.

Submitted by Dr. Mark MacDonald, San Antonio , TX .

2. At the beginning of my shift, I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall. "Big breaths," I instructed. "Yes, they used to be," replied the patient.

Submitted by Dr. Richard Byrnes, Seattle , WA

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Congratulations daughter # 1

This is just a furtive midnight post before I crawl into bed. But I couldn't let the opportunity to congratulate daughter #1 on landing a great job go by. She's been accepted into a management trainee program with Enterprise yes, one of the 50 best companies in Canada to work for! She starts her program on Monday, May 26th (only four days from now) and is off to Red Deer for the first few days. So all the job hunting and hard work of the past month have paid off for her. And of course they're lucky to have her too as she's one smart cookie.

I am hoping my luck runs as well as I've yet to hear from the cruise ship speaking agency. The account manager was to be back in the office on Tuesday from an absence so is likely getting dug out. Two more days in the week yet so I'm still thinking positively. And of course there will be a scramble to get the presentations in order if so.

Scrapbooking is addictive and I was enticed to staying up too late to work on some pages with the junior scrapper so I'll pay the price in the morning. So will she if the phone rings again at 5 a.m. for her to go to work. Her brother is leaving for fishing in the a.m. and his girlfriend is off to finish up her clinical hours, the man of the house lobstering so it will just be the cats holding down the fort.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Spring proof

Today at work was busy, busy but then again what would you expect from the first day back off a four-day weekend? The positive thing is that tomorrow is already Wednesday – yeehaw.

Last evening we (that is the summer resident daughter, myself and a friend from up the road) were scrapbooking. Well actually the daughter was scrapping and the more mature scrappers (well at least older) were sorting so that we will have materials to scrapbook the next time around. I checked email as the friend arrived and was telling her that her husband was sending messages to other women as soon as she left the house. We were amused by his message, which I’m pasting here, as you can see he hasn’t forsaken his Cape Breton roots:


I was wondering if I could use you as a reference. I have a shot at cruise speaking on the Englishtown Ferry. They want me to do a series of three minutes talks on being educated by the Nuns.

If I am successful it could lead to a gig on the Tancook Island Ferry and even, dare I say it, The Brier Island run. The best part is I get to take a guest with me and we only have to pay half price. Maybe I could go on one of your cruises with you and you could trade off and ride the Englishtown Ferry with me.

Thanking you in advance

Ink Slinger

Now daughter # 1 has a third interview tomorrow with the company who are filling their management trainee course beginning May 26th so will just wait to hear that they’ve snapped her up. If they’re smart they will as she’s a fine catch. So I’m sending positive vibes her way.

To prove that spring is actually arriving here I’m including photos of my front flowerbeds. Now bear in mind that we’re near the water and the front is in the shade so flowers here are about a week behind other bloomings. Just the same they have made it through a rough winter after being transplanted from their nursery bed on the hill. Hope remains. And it’s a much nicer marker than saying..... “the ticks are out” as we usually do. Although that is unfortunately the case as well. The dog patiently waits to be checked and jumps looking for imaginary ticks on her when sleeping. I know the feeling!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Long weekend

Well the travel-writing workshop got cancelled as the long weekend wasn’t a good date for most to attend but since there is interest the plan is to reschedule. This created a good chance to have friends over for supper on Saturday so the Capt. saved lobsters and I made potato salad, brown bread and chocolate cheesecake for dessert – which amazingly turned out considering I was forced to substitute many ingredients including Tim Horton’s hot chocolate mix as out of cocoa etc. – but we had a chance to catch up as we haven’t gotten together for a while. Made the morning come early as it turned out to be ‘a chance’ for lobstering but when mister couldn’t round up a crew he hauled as many traps as he could by himself and headed in. He had a poor start to the day as he left his lunch of brown bread/peanut butter and a banana on top of the bait he was taking and jumped down to haul the boat in to tie it up close and when he turned to pick up his lunch…found that the gulls had taken and eaten it and yes they picked the banana apart to open it.

And since food is such a topic - here are some sites with food for thought/ foods that make you happy / and foods that improve your brain power:

The weather actually cleared this afternoon for a few hours allowing for dog walk, straightening of all the things blown around the yard and grilling of sausages for supper. Apparently the forecast had been for rain and fog and this is repeated for tomorrow. With the precipitation you can tell it’s a long weekend eh? All the wet is making the grass grow. The summer neighbours have already had their lawns mowed once and the ‘old place’ across the road is in need of a haircut. I have to say that I’ve gradually come to think of our former house as belonging to someone else and now just have a mild interest in their renovation plans and arrival etc.

I’ve just finished the book I’ve borrowed from the library entitled In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore. It is a wonderful read, which encourages stepping away from our frantic lifestyle. One of the sections on raising less overscheduled children suggested limiting them to three extra curricular activities each. I was blown away as the rule in this household was one activity each until the offspring could drive themselves. This still made for some hectic times as a total of four activities took its toll. Kids still need time to just be kids, play with Lego or play dough, build forts outside, read a book or have a tea party. No wonder folks lack creativity or think they require amusement every waking moment; they’ve never had the opportunity to entertain themselves. This explains the talented children who call me Mom as they were allowed to find themselves.

Just think, it’s Monday tomorrow and no thoughts of rushing off to work. Could almost pretend I’m retired if I really tried. What to do, what to do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chicken cannon

Since the word on the street is that all accommodations between Saint John NB to Truro NS are booked for the weekend of August 1st which is not only the long weekend due to civic holiday but also The Eagles et al concert on Magnetic Hill I was particularly pleased to find two nights in residence at the Universite de Moncton for those dates. Now that our (likely only) summer vacation is arranged I’m all set. And of course we still have the rain suits purchased for the open air Rolling Stones concert two years back.

Also since this is Nurses Week and we’re all celebrating…I’m sure that nurses reading something called Parkinson’s Law would be thinking of severe palsy (or shaking) however not so:'s_law

Now I’m not into watching TV in general or reality shows in particular but this new soon to be aired program sounds promising. Apparently the rich and famous are temporarily sent to the street and at the end of the show give a large amount of their own money to a deserving recipient Works on a couple of levels from the sounds.

A friend forwarded the link for this test to show your real age (related to your various lifestyle habits, health history and genetics) and said that she and her husband were going to live to a ridiculously old age but perhaps because they had lied heavily:

I found that I was 8.2 years younger than my stated age (not a bad thing) with too high a BMI (as if I wasn’t aware of that – I do have mirrors in this house) and needed more social interaction and more time to myself. Now THAT is a test I approve of. Now I just have to make a plan for those extra years. It has led me to reconsider this weekend’s travel writing workshop, which I’ve been waffling on. Hmm.

Off to work for a team meeting, which because of the later start time, is the reason for a morning posting in addition to the fact that I was having major internet problems on dialup last night. Always slow but honestly 8 minutes for webmail to load is very frustrating! I leave you with a smile, as that’s always a good thing:

Sometimes it DOES take a Rocket Scientist!! (true story)

Scientists at Rolls Royce built a gun specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners and military jets, all traveling at maximum velocity. The idea was to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.

American engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high-speed trains. Arrangements were made and a gun was sent to the American engineers. When the gun was fired, the engineers watched in shock as the chicken hurled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer's back-rest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin.

The horrified engineers sent Rolls Royce the film of the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the
windshield and begged the British scientists for suggestions

Rolls Royce responded with a one-line memo

'Defrost the chicken.'

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mothers Day and more

We spent a busy weekend what with daughter # 2s graduation with a Bachelor of Arts from Universite Sainte Anne. This was a very polished affair held in the packed cathedral with the front all backlit, music from a small orchestra and a group of smiling local, national and international graduates. Unfortunately most of our graduate’s family understanding only English were left with puzzled looks on faces as the majority of the two-hour proceedings were en francais. The weather was terrible with strong winds, buckets of rain, foggy and cold so making it tough to get from church to gymnasium and then on to eat. We had supper at Chez Christophe, which has good local food in a restored farmhouse but combined with the drive up and back it made for a long day. And…. this is only a dress rehearsal for the final graduation with BEd in 2010.

Mothers Day was lovely what with a phone call from the Albertan daughter, and local visits from the nearer offspring. I even managed to have the man of the house cook breakfast for me although I heard him later explaining to one of the kids that I’d come around the corner just as he just got the bacon and eggs cooked so he felt he had to give them to me.

Although the planned scrapbooking last evening was modified to accommodate only the internal crafters (due to busyness and illness of invited guests it will be rescheduled) I was pleased to complete my cruise album. Always good to be able to move on to other projects.

I spent Monday in the district facility and it was never ending. It is also one of three days I have to travel there this week. But as I convince myself that facing work in the morning is not THAT bad I found this quote:

It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating. - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bronchitis is no fun

I’ve been feeling under the weather with a barky cough, sore chest and the feeling that someone has rubbed my airways with sandpaper so I managed to wheedle my way into a Dr. appointment to see if he agreed with my diagnosis of bronchitis (he did) and so now I have an inhaler and the promise I’ll feel better in a week. I’m too busy to feel like this.

We had a session about Nursing Standards from our College of Registered Nurses at work and it was quite intense, especially as regards to accountability. In keeping with the healthcare topic, first a letter by union leaders in the newspaper:

Longer waits ahead for patients

Wed. May 7 - 6:29 AM

The provincial government estimates 1,300 nurses and 860 health care workers can retire by 2010.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CiHi) reports that the RN workforce in Nova Scotia increased by just 292 nurses from 2003 to 2006. Nova Scotia educates only 318 registered nurses per year with about 20 per cent of those leaving for other provinces or the United States upon graduation.

Many other nurses and health care workers burn out from overwork and simply leave their profession.

In short, we don’t have enough nurses and health care workers right now and the need will grow dramatically in the very near future.

The provincial government responded to this growing problem in its recent budget by creating just 16 training seats. Sixteen new seats will generate less than one per cent of the new nurses and health care workers who could retire by the year 2010. Government also added $416,000 to a recruitment and retention strategy for allied health professionals.

These initiatives won’t find the 1,300 nurses and 860 health care workers we are going to need.

We cannot understand why the provincial government is neglecting this growing problem and why it is refusing to address a shortage when that refusal means longer wait times for patients in Nova Scotia.

The provincial budget is a clear admission that the current government is not up to the job. The premier has repeatedly said recruitment and retention is a national problem, which means there’s little he can do about it. And his government has endorsed all recommendations of the Corpus Sanchez report which, among other things, says we should reduce services in rural Nova Scotia, including laboratory and emergency room services.

Instead of focusing on recruitment and retention, the premier has chosen to focus on reducing services.

Solving the recruitment and retention problem is challenging, but it can be done. A solution requires a firm commitment from government.

Here are just a few examples of where the government needs to focus its attention.

Nova Scotia needs a government that is committed to eliminating workplace violence and other occupational health and safety concerns. Many of our nursing home and acute care staff suffer abuse on the job. Another recent CiHi study showed almost half of all nursing home patients display behavioural problems.

We have operating staff, such as nurses and perfusionists, who work for up to 20 hours, sometimes longer, and then are required to report back to work within six hours. In many parts of the province, lab and diagnostic imaging staff face the same problem. Often that means just three or four hours of sleep before they are required to assist in another surgery or conduct tests.

We need to increase training seats and work-based upgrading opportunities. Seven hundred people applied to the Dalhousie nursing program last year, but there are only about 150 seats available. The interest is there, but the opportunity is not. The same problem exists for many health care professions, such as diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine to name just a couple.

We need to develop new, mid- and late-career enhancement programs for nurses and health care workers.

We need to provide relief for staff who are required to work excessive and forced overtime. Nurses and health care staff are worked to the breaking point.

We need to establish concrete recruitment and retention targets similar to those proposed in other provinces.

We need to fast-track approvals for specialty nurse practitioners. Right now the province announces which communities will be approved for a new nurse practitioner only once each year. Communities and nurse practitioners wait all year to find out if they are approved.

We need to improve work-life balance for nurses and health care workers through such measures as expanded use of weekend nurse positions and by creating weekend health care positions. These positions essentially pay a slightly higher rate for people who choose to work weekends, thus allowing other staff to spend more weekends with their families.

We need to encourage more men to enter health care professions. Right now only 25 per cent of our health care workers and just 3.5 per cent of our nurses are male, which is well below the national average.

And we need a government that will engage the unions and our members in meaningful discussions about the work environment and how it can be improved. This should include an evaluation of the physical workspace, as Nova Scotia has number of old and environmentally questionable buildings in need of repair or replacement.

Unfortunately, the provincial government’s budget neglects our growing nurse and health care shortage. That will mean Nova Scotians can expect longer waits in the emergency room and for surgeries, diagnostic tests and other procedures.

Submitted by Danny Cavanagh, president of CUPE Nova Scotia; Joan Jessome, president of NSGEU; Janet Hazelton, president of NSNU; Susan Burrows, national representative for CAW; and Cindy Wamback, president of SEIU Local 902.

Then an article on the front page speaking of the nursing shortage, need for retention etc:

I’ve been following along with the post cyclone situation in Myanmar and there was a news blurb about a non-profit based out of Toronto called GlobalMedic, which sounded like they really had the global relief situation figured out:

I’m thinking if I were able to head overseas they would be a good outfit to deal with
Mind you, I’d be wise to check out the listing of world’s dangerous places when I’m tossing off the “overseas” ideas:

And for those of you who like to travel in a more upscale style:

The Calgarian daughter has been updating the job search situation out west and has had a few interesting encounters (not unusual for her as she attracts the unusual) as she was trying to send a resume to one of the temp agencies for a posting and her Chinese roommate had generously offered her the use of his computer but…. the Word program was in Mandarin and no way to download English so that required some explanation. Then she attempted to contact someone originally from here and that resulted in an invitation to use the computer so a cross-city transit ride, search for the apt. and fruitless calling until giving up and heading home. Apparently the Calgary library system charges a $12 annual fee but at least allow use of a flash stick so that dilemma was solved this a.m. This p.m. she tells me that she’s been reinvited and so is meeting the son of a friend who she hadn’t seen for a few years who describes himself as “tall, with a bad haircut and wearing black” hmmm some things don’t change. As I said, attracting the unusual is usual.

And in closing, for those of you not looking for anything more exotic than a good book to read:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Happy place

A very quick update as the email check I did at lunch had a number of happy sites - should you be in need of a lift and with today's work related high jinks I fall into that category:

Mind you with the news of the cyclone damage coming from Myanmar it seems like a decidedly unhappy place. I was listening to coverage on CBC on the drive home today and there was a Nova Scotian connection:

Tuesday, May 06, 2008- The numbers are staggering. More than 22,000 dead and 40,000 more missing in the days since Cyclone Nargis slammed into Burma, also known as Myanmar. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless - prompting the region's military government to accept help from outside aid agencies. Susan Tileston is a Nova Scotian living in Maesot, Thailand, just a few kilometres from the Burmese border. She's a professional photographer - and is running the My Story project with her husband Nathaniel. They give cameras to refugees and ask them to document their lives as per the link below:

It was sure nice today to have those congratultory messages on cruise ship speaking which proved that the blog is faithfully reviewed by a regular number of readers. A positive boost in an otherwise frantic day.

In closing, this site forwarded by the founder of the writing group I belong to which has some suggestions for life lessons as well as writing:

Monday, May 5, 2008

Congratulations cruise ship speaker

This afternoon I received an email saying that…We are pleased to inform you that we have completed the qualification process and that you are now qualified for cruise opportunities with Sixth Star Entertainment. Congratulations and welcome to the Sixth Star family. We are confident that you will do very well and we have high hopes for your future with us. You are currently eligible to present Destination programs onboard premium vessels including
Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Voyages of Discovery. Sixth Star operates a tiered placement system onboard Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and the high end luxury line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises. When you have gained experience and presented a successful program onboard Princess, Royal Caribbean or Voyages of Discovery, you are eligible to apply for a Celebrity Cruise or Disney Cruise Line assignment. With positive comments onboard a Celebrity or Disney vessel, you will then be eligible to apply to be a speaker aboard the high end luxury cruise lines Regent Seven Seas Cruises as well as European itineraries aboard all lines, which are always in high demand. The directions also included applying for edu-tainment opportunities and arranging discount airfare for ‘shipboard enrichment staff’

After setting my mind to it and working on the project for just a year it’s worked out so I was most grateful to my references, photographer, videographer and all those who contributed (yes it does sound like an acceptance speech doesn’t it?). So you can imagine that I floated home after checking out the available cruises for the fall, forgetting all about the hateful workday, which had just passed.

Princess line has a few openings for September and October. There was a gem of a 19-day repositioning cruise from Canada/New England to the Caribbean the last of October. But by the time I ran the itinerary by the travel partner after supper and believe it or not he said, “well I don’t have to go deer hunting the first week of the season” the listing had disappeared. Not to worry, it sure proved that he was serious about not being left ashore this time around. And as the now cooperative co-traveler noted “well you are getting in late in the game for this season but the other destinations would be good too”.

I put my name in for a 10 day cruise on the Sea Princess (1950 passengers) from Quebec City to New York with stops in Charlottetown, Sydney, Halifax, Saint John, Portland, Boston, Newport RI and New York running Oct 13 - 23. As a second choice I applied for a 7 day run on the Caribbean Princess (3100 passengers) round trip from New York September 7 – 14 with ports of call being Halifax, Saint John, Bar Harbor, Boston, Newport RI. The thinking being I can visit with my buddy in Cape Breton and Halifax daughter along the way. I will have to wait until at least May 20th when the account manager returns to see if I’m accepted. At a savings of either $1500 to $3500 on a double package it’s a good deal and it’s not as if we’ll need to spring for shore excursions at any of those destinations although apparently you can offer to lead a group if you wish. Here's a link to check out the two ships:

I spent a chunk of time sorting out the Princess rules – not too onerous – you can’t bring a firearm, if you show up inebriated to board the ship without the Captain’s permission you can be sent home, you can’t play the casino – none of those pose a problem. I ordered a copy of the 2008 Destinations DVD. Have been drooling over the facilities from pools, spas, restaurants, movies under the stars, staterooms and even the most basic were more than acceptable – apparently accommodation equals senior officers so…. the main concern will be getting the Captain in this house into a presentable state beginning with a hair cut and then working on the wardrobe. Tomorrow I’m up and off early to drop daughter # 3 at work for her 12 hr orientation shift on the Alzheimer Unit so all this daydreaming has to stop. Well maybe not, this is retirement planning at it’s best!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Was that a weekend?

Time to be heading back to work tomorrow already. How did that happen? Last week is a blur of work, travel to Shearwater for a large EMO exercise observation. Got to see (part of) the 200-bed field hospital, which is available for deployment in emergencies. There was a mix of vintage equipment (meaning in use when I studied and graduated from nursing as I explained to some much younger attendees who were finding some of the displays amusing) and newer materials. Very interesting in a scary type of way. We got to see the exercise, which had been ongoing for the week, and I made some inquiries about disaster courses with the Red Cross – always making those retirement plans – so a long day well spent.

Home in time Friday p.m. to do some baking for the fundraiser being held for the little girl who is undergoing testing/treatment for her heart condition at the IWK. I learned today that over $10,000 was raised and the money continues to pour in. A great response considering the state of our local economy.

Saturday was spent getting ready for and then enjoying a lunch for four of us from the Class of 76 as one of our own was visiting from BC. Hard to believe that it’s been almost 34 years since we first met and now all of our children are older than we were then. I made lobster chowder, biscuits and key lime pie and we also had coffee cake for dessert. Yum. It was a great afternoon getting caught up on the news and enjoying the peace and quiet of ‘the beach house’ as we watched the lobster boats hauling traps out front.

We were forecast a warm (19c) weekend, which didn’t materialize, as it was only sunny for a few short hours on Saturday and cold at that. However, a weekend is a weekend and I’ll take it. At least we’re not worrying about flooding like our NB neighbours. Daughter # 3 has been checking on the flood status, as she knows the geography as well as lots of New Brunswickers so is able to connect the two.

Today there was the moving of the houseguest with hamster to his clinical placement with resulting reclaiming of the Man Cave by the shore captain. As well there was a call from the western daughter to announce that she’d landed a supplementary job beginning in June at the Calgary Zoo – actually got hired on the spot at the job fair – so will have a free family pass, now that’s a nice perk. And apparently (photo to follow she says) the uniform shirts are a wild animal print (of course) so working the gate will be a piece of cake compared to other pick up jobs she’s had.

A productive day today for myself as I managed to clear out last years vegetation from the flower beds at the front of the house with two hours of clipping and pulling and started mulching the roots but…. the spring showers but a stop to that so to be continued. The dog walk turned into a sprint for the same reason as the laundry had to be rescued off the line. This evening resulted in two scrapbooking pages created so only three more in my cruise album and it’s complete. Of all the things needing to be done here, none would have been as therapeutic as that.

So back to the work world and getting ready for next weekend already which is the graduation en francais for daughter # 2. When the weather warms up a bit so does the schedule it seems.