Friday 31 January 2014

Sébastien Sasseville and the Politics of the Big Heroic Undertaking

I can still get goosebumps thinking/hearing about Terry Fox and his legendary run.

Sébastien Sasseville, on the other hand? Type 1 diabetic about to embark on his own extended marathon from Signal Hill, NL, to Victoria, BC, in order to demonstrate that diabetes needn't be a barrier to reaching one's goals ... I dunno. The guy himself seems, from the very little I know, perfectly congenial and well-meaning, and there's a lot to be said for someone like him demonstrating to bummed-out diabetic kids (or adults) that their life isn't over ... so I need to work a bit to figure out why his run doesn't excite me very much.

It's one of the things I pondered while Freddie and I walked yesterday ...

Part of it could simply be that he's not Terry Fox. Not as young, or as innocent ... as fragile, or, I'd venture to guess, as tough.
It could be the slick media and corporate machinery that he and his supporters have built up around this and other big athletic challenges that M. Sasseville has undertaken in his career as a motivational person ... the commodification of inspiration??

Maybe it's Sébastien Sasseville's connection to Mount Everest (he boasts the title of first Canadian T1 diabetic to summit Everest) and, thus, to the culture of "conquering nature." Does anyone remember that IMAX movie about a particularly disastrous Everest expedition? As I recall, the movie treated the participants in the expedition as heroes (including a group leader whose wife was roughly 7 months pregnant when he left home for the climb, only to perish on the peak). Heroes? I thought they were kind of selfish and stupid — but that seemed to be a minority opinion!

(Speaking of conquering nature, here's Freddie, conquering a serious log!)

Maybe it's the focus of the run: "to inspire and empower the 3 million people in Canada living with diabetes to live their lives to the fullest." OK, not as maddeningly misleading as the ol' You can do anything you set your mind to! rhetoric ... but still. C'mon, Sébastien. Bobby Clarke, Mary Tyler Moore, Bret Michaels, Halle Berry, that guy who plays for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, etc. etc. have already demonstrated that diabetics can do wild and wacky things. Sure, the motivational aspect of your run will be big and important ... but how about raising a crapload of dough and giving it all to the Faustman Lab (or some other underfunded, cure-obsessed organization), so you and I can do whatever wacky, inspirational shit we want to do ... WITHOUT DIABETES?!

Zowie — a rarity! Three consecutive readings in the 5s. Freddie was on edge for all this time, waiting for me to crash (I think), as the past week or so has been nothing but HIGH, HIGH, HIGH!
I do hope Sébastien's run is a success — in Diabetes Land, as elsewhere, there's no such thing as bad press (well, except the kind that claims T1 can be cured with a raw food diet or cinnamon extract etc.) — and I hope he makes it out here for his target date of November 14th, 2014 (World Diabetes Day / Dr. Banting's birthday). Despite my reservations, I can imagine getting excited about his arrival ... maybe even taking Freddie to meet him.

Still ... personal connections nothwithstanding, it's hard for me to imagine the Outrun Diabetes campaign, or any other Big Heroic Undertaking of its kind, being able to stir me quite like Terry Fox's low-tech, low-profile, highly inspirational Marathon of Hope.

Peaceful Ocean

Have an inspired weekend, everyone!

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Public Access Bootcamp: a play-by-play look!

Normally when Freddie and I are out, just the two of us, it's difficult for me to capture certain things on camera ... because, well, I'm supposed to have all my attention on Freddie and the challenges of our environment. Today, however, Paul took the camera and was able to document our adventures out in the neighbourhood ...

Freddie and I generally the take the stairs in our building to go up, but going down to street level is an opportunity to work on elevator manners.

The toughest situation is when the elevator door opens to reveal another dog. It doesn't happen often, but, challenging as it is, I wish it would happen more, so that Freddie could get more practice staying calm.

No other dogs this time:  :-) and :-(

Freddie and I are heading up Arbutus Street here. 
Good heel position, Freddie!
Poor Freddie — yet another trip to the bank. Relatively boring smells, not much in the way of interesting activity ... but he was a very good boy nevertheless.

Re. Freddie's service dog jacket ... I tend only to use it when we're in places where dogs aren't generally allowed (though Vancity is dog-friendly). It isn't necessary for his scent work that strangers know he's a service dog ... and I find he receives more disruptive attention when he's wearing the jacket than when he isn't. Ironically, more people try to pet him when his jacket is on, even though one reason for the jacket is to prevent people from treating him like a pet. Go figure.
This guy and his equipment were very interesting to Freddie. It took three passes before my "Leave it" had the desired effect.

"Dognoring" exercise #1: large dog, friendly-looking, but across the street and not paying much attention to Freddie

Freddie scored a B on this one.
Dognoring exercise #2: energetic, fast-moving dog on the same side of the street

Here's Freddie watching the approach.
Definitely interested, but still calm as the runner and his dog pass us. Yay, Freddie! B+!

(A+ to the photo-man for capturing the cute little tongue)
Dognoring exercise #3: Uh oh ... here comes trouble. Large, happy dog, same side of the street ... so interested in Freddie that he (the other dog) starts lungeing and rearing on his hind legs. Not the kind of temptation Freddie is currently equipped to deal with very effectively.

Big fat F!
His expression and my position in the photo below might suggest I'm trying to restrain him, but in fact I'm praising him for finally managing to settle down.

Off we go again!

Outside our old Shoppers Drugmart, getting into "jacket mode."

Not only is the entranceway to this store grate-free (more anon); I find the service a lot more efficient than the Kits store ... plus they know me and Freddie here and are über-friendly.
Heeling through Cosmetics

Down the skincare aisle ...

Good leave-it, Freddie!
Into a down-stay at the prescription counter

Holding the down-stay while Pharmacist Ali gets our stuff
Ali and Richard (featured in this post) are big Freddie fans. :) 

Very challenging Leave-it aisle coming up ... candies and stuffed animals!

The first time we tried this aisle, months ago, Freddie helped himself to a stuffie, but today he was perfect!
Waiting and focusing before venturing back out into the street ...

(Gawd, Heather, could you look like more of a schlump?! Good thing your dog is a sharp dresser.)

Here we are at our next destination, Future Shop, where there are metal grates on the floor in front of the escalator (see this post for more on Freddie's grate-o-phobia) and — bonus! — an out-of-service escalator.

Freddie hasn't conquered moving escalators yet — in part, I suspect, because the steps are grated — so this stationary one was a very good starting place.

In this photo I'm getting out the heavy artillery: pieces of turkey wiener.
Aaannnnd ..... YES! The grate has been traversed, and we have contact with the escalator steps!
This first ascent was a little awkward looking but took very little coaxing.

No request for turkey until we got to the top!

Happy tail!

Still happy going back down ...

Good boy, Freddie! Good jacket work!

Just a boring old plastic wrapper blowing across the sidewalk ...
You can ignore that — right, Freddie?


And that, dear readers, was Freddie's day of Public Access Bootcamp!
Thanks for coming along, and thanks to our man Flash for the photos!

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Where have all the flowers gone? Freddie learns about Pete ...

Freddie: Why do you look sad? It's breakfast time! The bone mat is out! What could be sad?

Heather: It's OK, Freddie. Pete Seeger died ... but I think he had a good long life.

Freddie: Pete Seeger?

Heather: He was a folk singer. A really important one. Here — listen to one of his songs on YouTube.

Freddie: That was nice. Where did all the flowers go? I didn't smell any this morning.

Heather: No, there aren't many around these days. But I bet we could find some if we searched.

Freddie: Can we go search?

Heather: Sure, Freddie. Let's go ... Yes, after your breakfast.

With Bruce, five years ago, at the first Obama inauguration

And, finally, here's a clickable link to the movie ending mentioned in Flash's comment below.

Peter "Pete" Seeger
May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014

Monday 27 January 2014

Ch-ch-ch-changes in Perspective


That's not the call of a highland cow — it's a foghorn, and it's the sound that has punctuated many a morning beach walk this past fortnight or so ("fortnight" is not in my active vocabulary, but I like it, and Vancouver's current connection to London fog gives me a good excuse to use it, I think).

Anyway ... foggy fotos are fun ... but fog also provides an interesting change in perspective ... which has inspired me to play around with perspective in today's pics ...


For those follow such trivia, Freddie is now able to spend 20 minutes alone (with about 30-60 seconds of whining at the start). Progress! His ability to ignore passing dogs is up and down (well, actually, it's nonexistent, as he never really ignores another dog), but overall I think there is progress in that department as well. It all depends on one's perspective ...

"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

~ Hamlet II, ii