November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day in Canada 2009

We've lived in Canada for over a year and we're starting to experience things for the second time around -- Remembrance Day being one of them. This year we find it particularly more patriotic here. Canadians are tired of the war in Afghanistan (they took a pass at Iraq). Each and every soldier is recognized. Below is a cool video by a Canadian musician named Terry Kelly. Be sure to take a moment to read the description at the right side of the You Tube screen -- it's important. Below the Terry Kelly video is a clip from today's ceremony in Montreal which took place at McGill University.

We're heading to Europe tomorrow and a day-trip to Normandy is on our list of things to do. We're planning on visiting both the American and Canadian sites. 

Thanks to all the men and women who have served our countries, and those still serving today.

November 10, 2009

"Free" swine flu shots for all....

We've written about this before...socialized medicine is not as bad as certain US talk show jerks pundits might rant about on a daily basis. It's certainly not perfect. But overall, we have no complaints. It's good to know it's there. Everyone has access to healthcare here. And access to the swine flu vaccine.  For free.

Today the kids got their H1N1 shots. The process was simple for the most part. The government (yes, the government controlled healthcare system) announced the different populations available for the vaccine last week. They were ahead of schedule this week so our kids were eligible since they both have asthma. I picked up a "ticket" this morning with the time I requested, 5:30 pm, and returned at that time. We were assigned numbers after the kids were qualified and waited about an hour until our name was called. We then went to another room for registration where we supplied our medicare card, filled out a simple form in another room and then went to yet another room for the actual shots. We were then directed to the last room where the kids had to wait 15 minutes to make sure there were no reactions. All said, it was an hour and half and painless, sort of. And no bill since the entire program is part of our medicare (and taxes).

Because the medicare cards were presented and entered into the computer, the government knows exactly who received the vaccine. The thought did occur to me that wouldn't the government be annoyed if someone declined receiving the vaccine and later ended up in hospital due to complications? Especially when the vaccine was free and available to all residents in Canada? Most people I know are going to get the vaccine when it's their turn, myself included. I don't know of any Canadians listening to that crazy, irrational, crybaby, insane Beck on Fox news and his theories. 

The video below was from The Rick Mercer report last week...of course the vaccine program had a few glitches, as could be expected, the first week. 

We did get a laugh out of this sign on the door when we left...clearly it was a French speaking person making the translation.

November 4, 2009

Swine Flu panic

We've had a few people ask how the H1N1 vaccination program is going in Canada. Well, it's going. Slowly. The first wave of vaccines are being given to healthcare workers and there's a priority list from there. The good news is that they are FREE. Sort of.  It's called socialized medicine. We're okay with it. 

This clip is from a fantastic show on the CBC called The Rick Mercer Report. We've posted from Rick Mercer before. During each show he does a brief rant about something on his mind. His show is like a cross between SNL and The Daily Show. Comedy and satire. And at the same time we're learning about Canadian politics. Stay tuned, there's another Swine Flu clip later this week. 

November 2, 2009

There's an App for that

This past weekend Danielle had her first Canada Swimming meet. After taking a year off from competitive swimming to dive into water polo, she decided to get back into the sport she has done year round since she was nine.
The meet took place in a “French part of town.” No problem, we’ve learned to negotiate street signs and we have our French lessons to help us. I brought my French homework with me to work on for the five hours I had to sit in the hot, chlorinated pool arena.

Danielle starts her warm up and I buy the psych sheet, which is like the program and listing of events for the day. This is a swim parent ritual, you get the sheet, highlight your kid’s events and figure out how much time you have in between the events to step outside for some fresh air or run and get a decent cup of coffee. I open the psych sheet and yes, every thing is in French. How the heck do you say 200 individual medley in French? I easily figured out that Serie means heat (there’s an accent over the first e but I have not figured that out on this computer).  A good swim parent would suggest looking at the times listed and then figure out the event that way. Not in my case though. First, the events in Canada are all metres. We used to swim in 50 metre pool events in the summer in the states, but winter swimming in Canada is in 25 metres. Danielle tells me the extra “yardage” makes a difference.

So instead, I did what anyone would do, right? I pulled out my iPhone and posted an S.O.S. on my Facebook profile. Within minutes I got a message from Paul’s brother Dan who told me that indeed, there was an App for that. As it turns out my current iPhone French translator only included phrases like “where is the washroom?” and “I would like a glass of red wine please” and nothing for “what event number is the 100 metre butterfly?”

With the help of this handy App I was able to figure out the psych sheet. In case you want to know fly is “papillon” and individual medley is “quatre nages.” Danielle was the one in need of translation before she was DQ’d for swimming all papillon during the quatre nages. She figured it out and did a great job at the meet, even after taking a year off of swimming. Swimming is not the sport to take a year off without consequences. Just ask Michael Phelps.

The translation issues aside, this city of Montreal pool was outstanding. Yes, we pay high taxes up north, but the facilities are unbelievable and I must mention extremely clean --  like I had no problem sitting on the floor clean. And unlike what we have been used to, we didn’t have to pay an admission to watch our own kid swim. I wish more communities in the US could replicate this type of positive building. The pool rivaled anything we have seen in the States. Also in the same complex were  large gyms for indoor soccer, track, tennis and gymnastics and several ice rinks. The building was beautiful and filled with athletes of every age going to their sporting events. And another great benefit we have in Canada – we can submit receipts and receive up to a $500 tax credit/deduction for enrolling our kids in sports. The US has a lot to learn from Canada. 

This photo of the pool area was taken with the iPhone. There's an App for that too.

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