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Filed in:Rachel
Our Life

BC Nursing Crisis

April 2nd, 2005  · stk

The Vancouver Sun newspaper ran a special article on Saturday, March 19th entitled "B.C. Heading for a Nursing Crisis". The upside, of course, is that Rachel will be graduating with a 4-year Nursing degree in little over a year. Job prospects in B.C. (and elsewhere) look good.

The article isn't available online, so I can't put up a link (I guess the Vancouver Sun wants you to actually PAY to read their paper ... go figure!). Some of the salient points are highlighted, below.

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Updated: 1-Jun-2005
Web View Count: 12635 viewsLast Web Update: 1-Jun-2005
Filed in:Alexandra
Our Life

Easter Bunny, Honey

March 31st, 2005  · stk

It seems fitting that the incongruous juxtaposition of a bunny rabbit and a chicken egg (symbols of the religious Easter holiday) should be explained by a landscaping website. For as much as chicken eggs have in common with rabbits, landscaping has with the resurrection of Christ.

What was revealed? Two things: First, the answer to the question that I seem to ask on an annual basis (but heretofore, have done nothing to resolve) and secondly, that foxglove (Digitalis) and monkshood (Aconitum) are poisonous to humans. If you too, wonder why rabbits are associated with chicken eggs, you might enjoy discovering WHY, in this landscaping article.

Enough, you say! Let's get on with what we really want to see: cute pictures of Alexandra Lynn, enjoying her first participatory Easter!

While those in Phoenix (and other points much further south than Edmonton) might enjoy a sunrise service and Easter egg hunt in the backyard, Easter was pretty much confined to the living room, in our house. There was a good six inches of snow blanketing the ground out front and in the back. Temps hovered just below the freezing mark, but it didn't dampen Alex's enthusiasm in her quest to find hidden eggs!

But, we're getting ahead of ourselves, because festivities really began the day before, with the decorating of hard-boiled eggs. It was really Scott's idea, as Alex had no clue or expectation regarding Easter. Scott has enjoyed being a kid again and egg decorating was no exception. A dozen fresh eggs were boiled alive, sacrificing their soft-side for the hard reality of Easter. A few cracked under the pressure, yielding only 9 satisfactory conscripts. (Of those nine, Alex broke two in the decorating ... so, in the end, only 7 eggs made it to 'the hiding', as it is called.)

THE OLD WAY: When Scott was a kid, colored liquid dyes were used, in bowls. Eggs were dunked and allowed to sit (the longer they sat, the more vivid the color). This yielded many plaid-like eggs, though wax crayons could be artistically employed to counter the "plaid look".

THE NEW WAY: The kit Rachel brought home contained tiny sponges and packets of pre-mixed, concentrated dye. The object was to DAB the egg with the sponge, which resulted in a speckled appearance. The plaid look, apparently, is passe. Instead of a wax crayon, clear stickers (in a variety of shapes) were employed to keep the dabbed dye off of the egg.

Which is better? Well, it must be said that speckled eggs look much nicer than plaid ones, but ... the stickers don't do a very good job (the dye gets under them) and the speckled eggs end up quite STICKY, even after they have dried. The mess, however (and fortunately for us), cleaned up completely in a snap.

Alex 'got into' the whole egg decorating thing, as you can plainly see. The fragility of the eggs and the complexity of the design process may not have been high on her list, but COLOR she understands well! So it was that she colored her eggs, ... her hands, ... her face and even the table (because after we were done, we forgot to throw away the unused portions of dye that remained in the packets and while Rachel and Scott were resting (decorating eggs with a toddler can wear a middle-aged parent out), Alex had discovered the remaining colors and was proceeding to finger paint her newest design right onto the kitchen table!) Thankfully, we caught her before her 'artwork' spread to the cushions, ... the floor or ... the walls! *sigh*

Eggs now decorated, we awaited morning for the hunt. Alex, of course, had no clue what was about to ensue. (So "the hiding" was mostly done in plain sight, though Scott did hide many of the small, chocolate eggs in more obtuse places - within Rachel's office. This was done to provide incentive to Rachel's late-night studying, but in the end, it backfired. So enamored with small chocolate candies is Rachel, that all homework ceased until the very last, well-hidden "incentive" was discovered and consumed. Shhhh... don't tell her, but I know for a fact that a handful remain. If she finds out, I'm afraid that she'll tear the place apart and all studying will cease!)

Like mother, like daughter. It was discovered that Alex too, has a sweet tooth and this, more than the finding of hand-decorated eggs, spurred her in her quest. We hid "robin's eggs" (which are candy and chocolate-covered, malted-milk balls, shaped & colored like eggs). They are one of Scott's favorites and although Rachel purchased them with Scott in mind (bless her heart), I don't think he ended up consuming very many! Alex, it seems, got the lion's share. And, of course, they're just a tad big for her tiny mouth, which resulted in very colorful drool ... on her chin, her hands, the furniture and her clothes. But hey, she was having FUN!

She dutifully collected the decorated, hard-boiled eggs and placed them into a wicker basket. The robin's eggs were consumed the moment each was found, save for a few that Dad put into a clear plastic container, along with some blocks, which had a screw-top lid. If it weren't for that screw-top lid, there wouldn't have been any robin's eggs left for the following day. Alex was so sated with chocolate, that those eggs in the plastic container weren't much of a draw on Sunday. Come Monday, however, motivated by the plainly visible candy within, Alex set upon the task of opening the container. Fruitlessly she banged, tugged and tried to pry off the lid (she hasn't grasped the "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" concept, yet). She is frustrated quite easily, but made her intentions very clear, by taking the container to Dad, plopping it in his lap, saying, "Thank you!" (As if the opening and her consumption of the candy within was a foregone conclusion). Unfortunately, Dad is so smitten by his begotten creature (and for her part, Alex CAN be quite cute), that he did his child's bidding, opened the container and gave her an egg. He did, however, have the foresight to extract only one and then closed it up again, thus saving the last piece until later in the evening, when the whole "Thank you" cuteness was repeated.

And with the final consumption of candy, our relatively non-religious, high-caloric celebration of the spring solstice, Christ's resurrection and the pagan God of Fertility, came to a close. Someone please tell the snow hares that frequent the front yard and the local weathermen that we are now officially into the spring season, because outside still pretty much looks like winter here!

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Updated: 1-Jun-2005
Web View Count: 7050 viewsLast Web Update: 1-Jun-2005
Filed in:XHTML

KISS my <Acronym>

March 25th, 2005  · stk

Nothing strikes up a better debate than abused rules, poor support and general confusion. The use of the <abbr> and <acronym> tags are a case in point.

Normally, I'm not a big fan of rules, per se, but because I'm learning XHTML, have been making the effort to be 'semantically correct'. Before today, however, I had not used either of these two tags, though have been aware of their existence. I began an exploration this morning, which led down a convoluted path and yielded a most confusing result.

First, there seems to be a general misunderstanding about the difference between an abbreviation and an acronym. After searching dictionaries, web discussions & a variety of other sources, definitions for both are below. If the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) wanted to identify acronyms as a special abbreviation, they missed the boat by not doing the same for initialisms, with their own tag. (e.g., HTML is not an acronym, but rather, an initialism). Paraphrased from :


  • Abbreviation: A shortened form of a word or phrase used to represent the complete form (e.g., Mass. for Massachusetts, or Dr. for Doctor.)
  • Acronym: An abbreviation forms a word, using the initial letters of a name (e.g., WAC for Women's Army Corps) or parts of a series of words (e.g. radar for radio detecting and ranging).
  • Initialism: An abbreviation using the first letter (or letters) of a word in a phrase (e.g., IRS), syllables or components of a word (e.g., TNT) or a combination of words and syllables (e.g., ESP). Initialisms are pronounced by spelling out the letters one-by-one.

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Updated: 29-Nov-2010
Web View Count: 16745 viewsLast Web Update: 29-Nov-2010
Filed in:Noteworthy

Gene-altered Foods

March 24th, 2005  · stk

Survery shows Americans are clueless about the genetically modified (GM) foods they eat. (Some would argue that I should have ended that sentence after the fifth word, but that's just mean.)

Answer these questions: (hover over sentence for the correct answer)

  • Can animal genes be inserted into plants?
  • Would tomatoes, modified with catfish genes, taste fishy?
  • Have you eaten a genetically-modified food?

A recent survey has revealed that consumers know little about GM food, even though they've been eating them (unlabeled) for almost 10 years. Roughly 75% of U.S. processed foods (boxed cereals, frozen dinners, cooking oils & more) contain GM ingredients. Most everythign with a corn or soy ingredient has a GM component.

GM foods first hit store shelves in 1994 (Flavr tomato). It wasn't a success and was pulled in 1997, ironically, because of its disappointing flavor. But by 1995, millions of acres of GM corn and soybeans had been planted and processed foods that contained these products were being distributed.

Nearly all GM enhancements are designed to boost yields and resist disease.

Companies developing GM foods voluntarily send data to the FDA, but no official approval is necessary before these products are sold to the public.

Read more in this MSNBC news article

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Updated: 1-Jun-2005
Web View Count: 2048 viewsLast Web Update: 1-Jun-2005
Filed in:Alexandra
Our Life

Oop Trash

March 24th, 2005  · stk

What a difference a week makes! It seems that we were premature in extolling the weather Gods for our glorious spring weather. The jet stream jetted off on its meandering path, leaving us on the frozen side of things. Then a low pressure system descended and we've been snowed upon since. Temps are again in the 17°F (-8°C) range, during the day and we have been covered with as much snow as had previously melted. The cat, again, has had to resort to boot-holes for his (much-hurried) morning constitution. Spring has again, been delayed, much to our dismay.

Alex has been oblivious to the weather, content to gander out the large picture window and say, "cheep, cheep" to all the birds alighting on the suet. She doesn't know that Easter is approaching or that April 3rd will quietly mark her 18th month and her 2nd half-birthday. Both of her great grandmother's, on Dad's (long-lived) side of the family, will have celebrated their 89th and 95th birthdays on (what can only be described as a strange twist of fate) the same day - March 29th! "Happy Birthday Great Grandma Sally and Great Grandma Milly!"

Alex received gifts from both sets of Grandparents, for Easter. She enjoyed opening the envelopes and cards! One of the gifts came in a brown-wrapped box and the box itself was the highlight of her afternoon. Upon rising from her nap, after having slept very hard (the imprint of her precious, soft, hand-made blanket plainly visible on one side of her face), she awoke to find a BOX. She took her time opening it (delayed gratification NOT being one of her better suits, there was no question that the gift should be opened IMMEDIATELY and not postponed until Easter!) Gradually, she made her way through the coarse brown wrapping, joyfully tearing small pieces off the box and scattering them about the room, leaving a right-mess for dear old Dad (AKA the maid) to pick up. When she finally got down to brass tacks, she opened the card and then extracted each of the 4 tissue-wrapped items from the box, only to (just as carefully) put them back! She amused herself for nearly an hour this way, extracting the items, then puzzling them back into place, closing the lid and beginning the process anew. It was finally Dad, who insisted that the tissue be removed and the actual presents revealed! "Thank you," she said, after dad prompted with, "What do you say?" Alex enjoyed her gifts, cards and especially the nicely-wrapped tissued items!

That's our Alex. A little organizer. (I wonder where she gets that from?) One could almost say that she's a compulsive organizer, although the criteria for organization appears to be quite random. And so does her choice of 'containers'.

The other evening, as Rachel was preparing a dinner, she asked Scott, "Where's the lid to the pot?" Scott, thinking that Rachel couldn't be looking too hard, replied (rather curtly), "In the pot cabinet or the drying rack." (Where ELSE would it be? Hello?) When Rachel said (rather curtly in return), "No 'dear', I've looked and it's not there," Scott got up from his desk and wandered out to the kitchen to SHOW Rachel that she hadn't been looking too hard. Hmmm. "No pot lid. That's odd," he said. Finally, it dawned on us .... ALEX! She must've gotten into the cupboard and "organized" things. The question - WHERE did she put the damn thing? We looked high and low, in her toy box, in other cupboards - no pot lid. Finally, Scott looked in the trash. There was the pot lid, buried under coffee grounds, egg shells, dirty disposable diapers and other garbage. But the lid was not the only non-trash item discovered. Alex had 'organized' a toy and Scott's 30-year-old momento which, until recently, was carefully secured in an office drawer! The real question: "How long has THIS been going on?" (And, of course, THIS is the answer to the question that the neighbors have: "Why are those people rooting through their garbage in the alley? What an odd family!")

Odd indeed! We've now had to fortify the garbage canister and "Oop-proof" it. (Weren't we just saying a week ago, "How cute! Alex knows that ripped up paper goes into the trash!" If we had only suspected! What else have we "lost"?)

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Updated: 15-May-2005
Web View Count: 5665 viewsLast Web Update: 15-May-2005