Monday 16 October 2023

Worried well or health minimizer. Why not both?

A bunch of stuff has been happening lately that is confounding until I find examples in my life which bring things into focus and help me understand, at least a little.

A lot of it is COVID-based. Because COVID is still a novel virus and we don't have a lot of data on the long-term effects of getting it once or multiple times we continue to get shots, wear masks based on risk assessments based on how crowded a location is and how good the ventilation is and generally take care. This doesn't seem like a big deal - it's very transmissible, I hate to be sick if I could avoid it and if I got others got sick...I would feel horrible.

MIL has COVID - she was sick enough to be bedridden for a couple days but didn't bother to let anyone know. FIL can't drive and doesn't cook so I'm not sure what they actually ate for the couple of days. SIL went to look after MIL. SIL is staying with a friend and not wearing a mask or isolating. SIL has recovered from a mild case of COVID already. All of them take a daily assortment of pills.

A friend had COVID and was bedridden for 5 days while the spouse had barely any symptoms. She also has health problems. She doesn't know if it would have been worse had she not been vaccinated and has no intention of getting any more shots because she doesn't like how she feels after.

Our neighbour. He's well over 80 and his mom is nearing 100. He's getting his flu shot but not the COVID one because he's heard the flu is what's going around right now🤦‍♀️ I don't know where he got that info but not from any provincial site (sparse as it is).

One thing that has been shown with SARS-COV-2 is it's much more contagious than the flu, people can be asymptomatic and contagious and there can be some very bad outcomes. Other than the vascular damage there's an increased risk of Parkinson's Disease.

BUT then...

I have low neutrophils. I have them intermittently and the last time there were noticeable was when I was in my 40s. We did some extra tests but it seemed to be my normal so I left it at that. Fast forward 20 years and my new doctor is concerned my neutrophils seem to have been low for a couple years - I suspect the last time I was a low normal it was close to a vaccination date. He wants to refer me to a Hematologist but it's my decision. I say no, I've had this before and it's resolved itself. I mentioned the neutropenia to the eye specialist and he did a very circumspect side-eye when I said I wasn't planning to be referred. Then he said he'd be writing my GP advising him to suggest a little harder that I take the referral. I've already called my doctor for a phone appointment.

So what was I thinking? Referrals aren't offered for nothing. Part of it was the softness of the offer - it's my decision. Part of it was I feel fine - much like the people who've had COVID and got better. Part of it is fear that it will turn into something - much like people who don't go to the hospital when they're really sick.

I've put myself into the referral queue and we'll see what happens. If nothing else, I'll find out that I just don't make a lot of spare neutrophils.

Sunday 6 August 2023

Thoughts on the 6 month Moratorium on the Alberta Renewable Energy Projects

This moratorium is living rent-free in my head even though I am definitely not on board with companies getting to set policy by default. Communities should be able to appeal to the government to regulate the industry - even though it's an industry that I support. I expect they're so used to O&G demanding provincial funding that they didn't realize energy companies could thrive without it and by the time they did - welp a hard brake is a good way to get rid of competition. The UCP is all about perception. The perception they're helping rural communities while forgiving debt owed to them by oil companies. Allowing leaks into the waterways feeding First Nations because they're pretty isolated. Air pollution is no big deal because it's mostly invisible and by the time it's noticeable the polluters can create all kinds of plausible deniability. 

These complaints are from southern Alberta. In Medicine Hat, Smiths's riding, there's a turbine quite close to a road on the edge of town that people regularly see. People who are heavily invested in being Gas City with the accompanying low utility rates. Imagine having a turbine this close to a road you regularly drive on... Plus in Alberta, wind farms have lots of turbines. It seems the standard is lots at different angles so only a few are active at a time. But the perception is the possibility of ALL of them running at the same time.

6 months is actually not long to review material and provide a report and any new regulation will take longer to implement. If Smith's stand on COVID is any indication, the sources they look at will cite a bunch of misinformation so it will be a quick hammer smash making it onerous to comply with new rules. Projects in the planning stages are easy to relocate. This isn't like oil where there are physical constraints - you can do solar anywhere. The US has a big push on and even SK has a range of projects coming online. I hope the Solar industry that remains is ready to capitalize on distributed solar in urban areas because rural projects are likely to be dead until O&G decides to enter the game.

Tuesday 1 August 2023

10 years ago today - life changing incident


10 years ago today, Fred had left town for a week at an isolated work site and I was looking forward to a week chilling with the dogs. The weather was going to be good, and month-end at work meant a structured week full of "stuff" which I enjoyed. It was not to be. I was hit by a car while walking across the highway at a controlled intersection. When I regained consciousness I called work and Fred's work to let them know what happened - you can use a cell phone without moving your head and neck!

I wrote about the incident as soon as I got out of the hospital and 10 years is long enough to assess the long-term effects. We can start with work. I didn't return to work until October with some restrictions. However, I feel like the lucky one. My Plant Manager at the time started having health issues so July 31 was my last routine day at work. I met up with him at a clinic and he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after that visit. He transferred back to the US and passed away very quickly. I reduced ladder climbing a lot as most locations had been changed to stair access and could do most of my job until my planned retirement date. 

We didn't move as desired because, with the O&G downturn our home lost 30% of its value while our desired location rocketed in value. On the upside - housing is affordable here. One thing that would be hard to match? I can easily walk to the vet, dentist, preferred coffee shop and gym. The city continues to change. There are a LOT more pedestrian-controlled intersections - including the one where my incident occurred - and new trails for bikes and people are being built all the time. There are lots of activities, albeit not on the scale of big cities, including Pride events and Indigenous recognition.

But what about the long-term physical effects. I changed a lot of my activities and stopped spontaneous sports through work after a mud run. I am relieved I don't have to think of running as a pass time - I had a love-hate relationship it. I gave up golf and no longer play any racquet sports, since we used to play squash I could see us trying pickleball or me playing with others. Post-injury, I switched to spin for my cardio challenge but since COVID have given that up. I've been doing Zoom or outside workout classes and don't feel like buying a spin bike. Yoga was impossible to return to as I had to do a lot of adjustments due to uneven abilities. Total flexibility never returned - I'm not sure if I could have done more to get there. While I've been aware of my injury all along, recently it's been stiff all the time. My balance is off but is it age or injury? Can't tell but I'm looking for a resolution to that. I'm also pretty sure I had a longer-term brain injury than recognized. My appetite didn't return for years plus it's always hard to tell if the reaching and not catching words is simply aging but I feel like I've gotten better so...

...that's it. I learned what "you will have arthritis in that ankle" means🙂and don't grumble or yell at the sky too much.

Saturday 8 July 2023

Rhubarb Pie experiment

We have a couple rhubarb patches so pie and crisp are mainstays during the summer. We have a pastry rhubarb pie recipe but lately we've been trying graham cracker crusts so it was decided to do a streusel crust for the top. To the Duck Duck Go! I found a crust that seemed reasonable on Crazy for Crust and Streusel recipe on Sugar Spun Run. I'm really putting this here so I can import it into my recipe app🤞🏼 I'm using metric weights where possible because I trained as a chemist and it's just way more reliable. I'm using cups and Fahrenheit because I'm Canadian😁 

I find our oven runs cool so you may want to drop the temperature 25F.


Graham cracker crust

154 g crushed graham crackers

50 g brown sugar

2.5 g cinnamon

pinch of salt

99 g melted butter.

Combine and pack well into a 9" pie dish. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes then let cool


4 c rhubarb cut into 1-2 cm pieces

2 tbsp flour (60 mL)

3/4c white sugar

2 eggs

1 tbsp melted butter/margarine

1 tsp lime juice - or lemon if you have some cut)

Mix flour and sugar then set aside ~1/4 c. Mix eggs, butter and the rest of flour/sugar together. 


78 g flour

50 g golden sugar

33 g white sugar

pinch salt

42g unsalted butter/margarine melted

Mix dry ingredients well. Drizzle melted butter into dry ingredients and cut in to make chunks. Do NOT mix them together into a paste.


Preheat oven to 425F

Sprinkle reserved flour and sugar on the cooled crust then put rhubarb into crust. Pour the egg mixture over the rhubarb then sprinkle the streusel top as evenly as possible. Place a cookie sheet on a lower shelf under where the pie pan will be then place the pie in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes at 425F then lower the temperature to 350F for 25 minutes.

Serve cool.

Let me know how it tastes as this is a fasting day so I couldn't taste as I went. Should be fine though...right?

Thursday 4 May 2023

Thoughts on Social Media

I've been thinking about social media quite a bit lately. While I've been on Twitter, User groups, and Blogger for a long time, I didn't really get into social media until I was invited to join Google+. It was so cool. Like a HUGE BBS with an opportunity to meet lots of different people. And posting links and different media was seamless.

Unfortunately, G+ tech writers didn't like it for reasons (I believe the phrase was ghost town) and was not easily monetized for Google so 👋🏽 Where would people go? A bunch of platforms but the link seemed to be Twitter. I jumped to Diaspora because...I got an invite. Twitter is making changes that make people want to leave and instead of an open-source they're going where they're invited - BlueSky. And because they're people they want everyone there so they can have content.

And I get the invite thing - people like to fit in. An invite implies you'll have a community where you can be assured you'll fit in with someone. If it's the right place it's easier to initiate conversations because you get a hint of the tone of the place and have common terms of reference.  And you have access to casual help if you need it.

Speaking of help - no wonder people are willing to trade their personal data and being marketed to for ease of use. I want to be in a community where I know I will get casual conversations I can enjoy while expanding my horizons beyond personal experience but...distributed means you have to find all the linking pieces. I like where I am on Diaspora but I'd like to be on Friendrica because it links better with Mastodon and I can use one app for both. I've heard you can autopost between the two. Ideally, I'd like somewhere easily store photos for sharing that would be separate from personal ones and that would self-delete.

Or I can just use separate apps on my phone since that's how I do most social media anyway. Much easier to look for an app for Mastodon than do all this blending - or is it. I would learn that. 

Thursday 27 April 2023

Home Updates complete at last


When we last met, the kitchen update had been completed along with the main part of the bathroom renovation. We redid all the window coverings - 2 more large windows than we had planned. 

The guys ensured we could use the ensuite before Christmas, but some finishing touches ended up taking until the end of January. Now it's completed and it is really lovely. Taking a shower is like a mini vacation to what I imagine the Mediterranean to be like (I've never been). The space has been filled with plants as a finishing touch.

I've seen a lot of renos that prioritize a larger shower in the main bathroom. When we built the big thing was a soaker/jacuzzi tub. We doubt we'll be moving and I remember how difficult it was to bathe when I had my broken ankle. While we don't expect another event like that we do expect to have reduced mobility at some point and wanted to build in accessibility. There's lots of room for a support bar should we ever need one.

There is a next stage of course but it's just appliances. Homes are money pits; maintenance simply delays the replacement of most things. When the washer dies (which will likely be never since we know what we want to replace it with) we'll update the dishwasher and fridge. We just got a new gas stove and, while wasteful, we calculated the cost per GJ of gas vs. electricity and it's orders of magnitude more for electricity. We have good ventilation in our home so we're not terribly concerned about the methane and benzene we could be exposed to.

We were talking about which update makes the biggest cosmetic difference and, hands down it's the blinds. If your only concern is making things pretty, update your window treatments. For energy efficiency, it's hard to choose between the furnace and windows. The windows keep temperatures much more stable but the furnace uses less gas to heat and electricity to circulate the heat. our energy use is down and our comfort level is up so that's also a win. 

The only downside is the counter hides stuff so we end up looking for items like jewelry, spoons etc. Doesn't even rise to the level of first-world problems🙂The upside was we got to support a lot of local businesses and they were great to work with. Any bumps in the road were dealt with quickly and with minimal fuss and there was very little wait considering all the moving parts. The big thing was that people showed up when they said they would and if they didn't it was because they were sick. Which yeah, don't come to our house and be distracted while working because you're ill.

Saturday 17 December 2022

Boox Nova Air C Impressions


Nova Air C Backlight off

I like tech and I especially like tech with styli. I had a Note and upgraded to the Ultra. My computer flips and has a pen. Now I have an e-ink tablet ... with a stylus. I do use the stylus on my phone to write notes. I'm hoping to use the stylus on the Boox for making notes when I read books. That sounds like it's a process to learn. For a really good introduction to this device, check here and here. This is an expensive device so make sure you have a specific use in mind.

That said, I wanted to get a larger device and was willing to give colour and a stylus a shot. I have a Poke 3 so I'm familiar with Boox; I have to admit the Kindle Scribe gave me some FOMO. This is a 7.8" screen which was as large as I want to go for a device that may fall on my face as I fall asleep while reading. I'm happy with the experience I got with the Poke 3 - I can get library books and read books from all the stores. I haven't used the default app (yet) because I tend to upload through Play Books. I have to explore upload options (I do tend to get epubs). NeoReader has some features, like page keys, that I'd like to try.

The Nova Air C is quite a bit heavier than my Poke and the included cover is not as "nice". and by nice I mean it's kind of floppy when it folds back because of the wider spine. I've got a pen holder on order that should help how the case folds and store the pen better. The magnet is ok but the pen gets in the way.

So the most important part - reading! I wanted colour just for reading magazines. I'm used to the AMOLED screen of my phone and computer so I would want that quality of display for reading graphic media. These colours are fine but not intense. I find a lot of screens too bright so the contrast for reading works well for me with the settings available. I love the screen size. If you want phenomenal battery life, you'll have to accept screen ghosting. I found the Nova Air C to be much more responsive than my Poke 3.

Backlight on 
Sooo...would I buy again if on a budget? I would stick with my Poke 3. If the Poke 3 broke, I would look at a Leaf but I suspect, from the splash screen that it would be the same speed as my Poke 3 which is mildly annoying so yeah, likely. It would be nice to be able to check performance out in a store before purchasing but that's not available.