Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, August 31, 2012

Accessing Higher Education/Quebec

Quebec university and CEGEP students have returned early to classes in an attempt to catch up on time lost last spring when many university and college students, supported by their unions, decided to 'strike' in protest of the provincial Liberal government's plan to increase tuition costs to more closely reflect reality.  Though the tuition increase had the support of the public, nothing was resolved.

The new fees are in effect.  The students are still striking.  The new premier-presumptive of a minority PQ government urges the students not to bother sending in their tuition fees until after the election.  When, presumably, she will take steps with her governing party, to forgive student tuition altogether.
 One small step for student 'democratic' rights, one big step for tax increases.

The striking students who represented a small proportion of the province's student body, were vociferous, angry, disruptive and obnoxious in their bid to draw attention to their rejection of the increase.  They termed it an assault against democracy that the government had the audacity to raise tuition at a time when provincial coffers are badly strained.

They considered themselves to be demonstrating democracy in action when they blocked highways and bridges, destroyed public property, held up traffic, threatened other students and called them 'scabs' and worse, leaped onto desks, smashed computers and stopped classes from proceeding.  As they practised their version of democracy, the majority of the province's students who wanted to continue classes were restrained from doing so.

That majority of students decided to invoke a lawful procedure to ensure that the strikers refrained from interrupting classes and the law agreed with them, issuing an injunction.  Which the democracy-obsessed striking students simply ignored, continuing to be obstreperous and disruptive, disallowing other students from pursuing their studies.

Now that classes have resumed, the striking students who have been relatively quiescent all summer, have resurrected their outrage to re-commence their predations on their fellow students, violently interfering with their right to an education.  In response to which, a class-action lawsuit is being organized by Quebec university students over their frustration by the student strikes.

There will be 25 universities and junior colleges named in the class-action suit, along with the Quebec government.  The plaintiffs claim that action taken was insufficient to allow them access to classrooms and to complete their courses. Damage includes lost work experience, lost tuition fees, lost summer jobs.

Not to worry: with the upcoming election in a few day's time, there will be a new government in power, one whose head is anxious to support the student strikers to the benefit of all.  A new Parti Quebecois government will see to it that more stringent rules will be imposed on language restrictions so that graduates from Quebec universities will be more unprepared than ever to join the workforce.

Confined to one language,with little-to-no-proficiency in the universal language of North American business, perhaps the students will consider in the future the possibility and efficacy of suing the new PQ government for restricting their opportunities for full and well-remunerated employment in the outside world of real life.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Female Obesity and Breast Cancer

"Obesity seemed to carry a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and death, even in women who were healthy at the time that they were diagnosed, and despite the fact that they received the best available chemotherapy and hormone therapy.
"Insulin levels are known to be higher in patients who are obese because they develop insulin resistance... (and) insulin can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells."  Researcher Joseph Sparano, associate chairman of medical oncology at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care in the Bronx, New York

Results from previous studies into the relationship between female obesity and worsening cancer outlooks have provided what appears to be a clear link between obesity and heightened opportunities of breast cancer.  Along with a fiercer outcome in women who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer.  A new study has confirmed that breast cancer is likelier to return and to prove fatal, for overweight women.

Hormones linked to body weight may also fuel tumour growth in the most common form of breast cancer, identified as estrogen receptor-positive cancer.  The study was based on data from trials sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute - of women with stages I, II and III breast cancer who received standard treatment with dosages of drugs calibrated to reflect the women's weight.

Researcher Joseph Sparano and his colleagues discovered that compared to women of normal weight, those who were obese were 40% likelier to experience a breast cancer recurrence over the study period of eight years, and fully 69% more likely to die from breast cancer.  Those women who were merely overweight, but not obese, demonstrated a trend toward higher risk of both recurrence and death with increasing weight.

That link between obesity in women and the prevalence and ferocity of the disease turned out to be particularly strong for women with the most common type of breast cancers, estrogen-receptor-positive.  The new study, emphasized the researchers, does not prove that additional weight and fat directly impact certain breast cancers, only that it appeared to be "biologically plausible".
"There is as yet no proof that women with cancer are capable of improving their long-term prognosis by undertaking weight loss.  The highest priority is just getting through the chemotherapy if chemotherapy is necessary and taking their endocrine therapies.
"But for those who are obese or overweight, there may be additional benefits that one can achieve through diet and through weight reduction that may produce a reduction in the risk of recurrence that's just as significant as the reduction that they get from the standard therapies", explained Dr. Sparano.

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Dog Training, Puppy Training, Behaviour Modification, Rehabilitation – Ottawa, Ottawa Area, Outaouais, Ottawa Valley

Dog and puppy training sessions with the Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer - in your home, your yard, your neighborhood.  
For people with one or multiple dogs.

Imparting Skills for a Lifetime

To be a well-adjusted, happy, healthy canine - dogs require life skills. Life skills are best imparted by one who can see and understand how each piece of knowledge dovetails into the next and can then share the knowledge with true understanding – physical and psychological to another. As intelligent, sensitive beings, dogs do not require domination nor treats to learn they simply require what they give to others: compassion, kindness, understanding, patience, will, persistence and awareness backed-up by calm-considered-confident and clear communication provided with consistency (physical communication, i.e. voice, body language must be truly consistent with emotional state).  Dogs rely on instinct and intuition; they actively and consciously use all of their senses. A dog will do exactly what you really ask them to do - my advantage and ability to observe, asses, address, coach and teach effectively relies on my capability to adopt and deploy the methods that are used by canines to teach and communicate with each other. Too many humans rely on man-made tools and conceits rather than leveraging the beauty and clarity of a dog’s way.
"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog." -- Edward Hoagland

I provide one-on-one training with my clients and their puppies, teenage and adult dogs of all ages…one or multiple dogs. Whether you just want to bring your dog up right from the get go, or you have adopted a rescue dog with a past, or you are experiencing behavioural issues (i.e. anxious, obsessive or aggressive behaviours of all kinds) from low intensity to high intensity (‘over-threshold’, ‘red-zone’).  Perhaps your dog has been placed on doggie Prozac and deemed ‘hyperactive’...I have worked with many dogs labelled and drugged for being hyper – I remove the need for such drugs. Such dogs are hyper-sensitive and require structure, truly good communication and nutrition, not drugs.  Whatever the case I can resolve the behaviour. I have never failed a dog and it’s human. 

Full Boot Camp
I offer an all-encompassing ‘full boot camp’ session (in your home) where I will address everything – from physical to psychological to diet/health. These sessions are four hours at minimum, extending up to five+ hours depending on the issues at hand. If you would like to understand what a full boot camp session at your home includes and my methods just email me ( and I will send you the information. You can also read this for more information about my methods and what I cover in a full boot camp session.This type of session is invaluable as it addresses every aspect of daily life with your dog and ensures that your dog does not develop behavioural issues. If your dog is currently exhibiting behavioural issues such as those noted below one session is all that is required for rehabilitation… 
  • Anxiety or over-excitement and/or motion sickness in vehicles; 
  • Barking; 
  • Begging for Food, Food Surfing (tables, counters, from children, etc.) 
  • Bolting out your door; 
  • Chasing your cats, and other small animals; 
  • Chewing/ biting your hands, feet, clothing etc.; 
  • Crate Training; 
  • Dog-to-Dog Aggressive-reactive Behaviour; 
  • Dog-to-People Aggressive-reactive Behaviour; 
  • Fear of People, Places and Things; 
  • Food Aggressive-Reactive Behaviour; 
  • Grief; 
  • Unwanted Guarding Behaviour of people, places and things; 
  • Inability to Settle-down (calm) and Relax…’hyper activity’; 
  • Inappropriate Behaviour with Guests; 
  • Obsessive Behaviour; 
  • Marking in the House;Poor Leash-walking habits (pulling, weaving, flopping);  
  • Separation Anxiety; 
  • etc.
Mini Boot Camp
I also offer one hour mini-boot-camp sessions (in your home) to address specific topics for puppy training…you can select from the following or make a special request to me:
  • Learn and Master Sit-Down-Stay in one hour;
  • Nail clipping, grooming and chemical-free all-natural alternatives for maintenance of ears, bathing etc.;
  • Potty Training;
  • Socialization and Manners with other Puppies/Dogs; 
  • Socialization and Manners with other Animals (cats, rabbits, etc)
  • Socialization and Manners around Children; 
  • Socialization and Manners around Guests; 
  • The Walk; 
  • Whole Health Nutrition  
    • understanding how to select good dog food;
    • making your own dog food;
    • selecting healthy treats;
    •  alternate foods;
    • losing and gaining weight;
    • immune system health, fur and skin health, dental health, etc.;
    • Cancer and disease prevention.
So whether you are just starting out with a new puppy, want your dog to have all the life skills required to be a well-balanced canine or are currently dealing with extreme behavioural issues I will be pleased to assist you! 

Session Cost
All-Encompassing Boot-Camp Session - $300.00
Mini Boot Camp Session - $175.00

Fees above are as per my standard service area (i.e. Ottawa, Hull, Alymer, Barhaven, Arnprior, Bells Corners, Carp, Fitzroy, Orleans, Kanata, Renfrew, Stittsville, Manotick, Vars, etc.) 
If you reside in a further outlying area, depending on the exact location – I may need to add a km/time surcharge.

If you reside in another province or country I also provide a national and international consulting service via email.

I Offer Three Payment Methods for my Clients’ Convenience
  1. Cash,
  2. E-mail Money Transfer, and;
  3. Credit Card via Paypal.
Session Bookings
Sessions can be booked on weekdays and weekends.

I do not pre-assessments. As I work intuitively and can shift my methods and techniques on the fly to suit the individuals, I have no need to pre-assess. 90% of my clients have been to 2 or more trainers (who subsequently failed the dog and/or made the dogs issues worse). I am often the last resort between euthanasia and life – it is a responsibility that I take with the utmost seriousness and have never let a dog and its people down.  There are very few dogs that cannot be rehabilitated
My Methods

I do not force/dominance-train, nor do I treat-train as neither methods honor the intelligence or way of a dog.  If you would like to know more about my methods you can read more here. I do not use e-collars, prong/pinch collars, choke chains, haltis, etc. I teach my clients how to work without such devices.

I Teach/train the human…
- To be aware of how their psychological/emotional state affects their dog;
- To understand how they are mis-communicating to their dog;
- To understand their dog; its body language, its reactions, its needs;
- To learn how to effectively communicate with their dog - including using less voice and instead
   more body language;

- To see when their dog is asking for direction;
- To provide leadership to their dog;
I coach and mentor the dog.

Session Follow-up
Post session I send my clients articles that reinforce what we went through in the session. My clients know that if they have a question that they can call or email me.

Working with dogs and their people is not just my ‘job’ – making sure your dog is healthy and happy is my passion…20 years experience living and working with dogs.

You can contact me at…
The Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Karen Rosenfeld
office: 613-622-7958
cell:     613-293-3707
Visit my Website
Follow and Tweet Me
Like my Facebook Page 

Client Comments/Recommendations...
 Good morning Karen,

Toby is a different dog after the session we had with you! Thank you very much for sending this great information after the session....slowly reading through have a good web site!!!

We are having great success with Toby, all thanks to you!!

Hi Karen,

I just wanted to thank you again for everything you've done to help us. You're such a beautiful and dedicated person. I was extremely pleased with the session and although it was a lot of information, I did learn a lot and it certainly built my confidence up. After work this morning, I took Nikita for a walk with the "let's do this" and "not giving a crap about her reaction or the other dog" attitude and it really helped. With my head high and back straight, we marched right by dogs and of course she reacted, but I kept her going and looked far ahead, and didn't let it bother me. It felt great to walk her this way and I look forward to seeing her transition into a more balanced dog. I'll keep you posted on her progress!

Thanks again!

Hi Karen, 
Thank you so much again for the session and for all of the info you sent! I'm starting my 2 weeks of vacation next week and will have more time to do some reading. Jazz is doing great! We ordered pizza Sunday night and when the doorbell rang she just looked at Ben &I, not a peep! We had her in a down stay and both went upstairs and she didn't move!! We are noticing a big difference in her already and are so proud of her. Our session with you was one of the best things we have ever done for her and OURSELVES! You are amazing!  Thanks again and jazz sends a big kiss back :)
Jen & Ben

Sent from my iPhone
My two year old chihuahua Abbey has had severe car anxiety from the day we brought her home at 12 weeks. It was been miserable as we like to travel to see our kids and I also enjoy taking my two chihuahua's where ever I can. I tried everything, the spray, the tape, the jacket, strong tranquilizers and those did not even work! She always wanted to go but once in the car she would cry and whine non stop,,while her sister would just enjoy the ride and love the warm sun. I was miserable, Abbey was miserable and giving her drugs was not my idea of a solution as it is dangerous to give such a small dog these drugs. well I followed Karen's advice, I did everything she said, it did not happen overnight but all of a sudden I realized my car was quiet and I looked back amd she was snuggled up with her sister enjoying her outing. We were at our wits end as this was going on for two years and to pay a sitter to come to the house is 100.00 a day so it made it very expensive when we could of taken her and we all would of been so much happier. I have referred Karen to many of my dog friends and they are all amazed at her gift of understanding the relationship between the owner and the dog. I knew it was something I was doing but just did not know how to fix it. When ever an issue comes up as dogs are like kids always learning or I am still learning this is where I find the answers. thank you Karen from Abbey and Maggie and especially mommy! We think you are the best dog trainer out there :)
Nancy Lucky
I have to thank you so much for you time! You are so great! And so fast! It shows that you are truly dedicated to the betterment of the dog It is such a warm feeling to know that there are people who think as you do in their approach to dog training. I have learned so much from your expertise! It just reiterates what I believe in. Dog training is my heart and soul and it's all about the dog! Please feel free to visit my web site. I would love to stay in contact with you.... maybe you could mentor me! Again thank you so much for you efforts. They are priceless!!!!!
Jeremy Majors
            Majors Academy Dog Training

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Parsimonious Tippers

So, Vermonters have the impression that French Canadians visiting their fair State and eating at their restaurants have a faint appreciation for the niceties that obligate us to respect the low wages of wait staff and honour their service with appropriate tips. I wonder how that came about?  Oh, evidently they have noticed that French Canadians are loathe to leave more than a 5% tip after a meal.

That would rankle.  "A few times a week, we get tables that will eat for $100 and leave, like, three bucks or $5.  And 100 percent of the time for stuff like that, it's French Canadians.  Not all French Canadians do that, definitely not, but, when it happens, it's always French Canadians.  Basically it's large bills that get loose change as a tip."

How socially inadequate.  And here French Quebecers think of themselves as cosmopolitan.  Where would they get that idea?  A misplaced sense of style, obviously.  Sad, when style and social grace is so completely lacking just where it should be most evident.

At some restaurants in Vermont, it appears that a practise has ensued, that when a waiter observes that his clients speak French they are identified as French Canadian and in anticipation of a dismal tip, a 20%  gratuity will be added to the invoice handed over at the conclusion of the meal.  "No restaurant here has a policy to do that, mainly because it's illegal.  But sometimes servers will do it.  It's at the waiter's discretion."

The issue was recently revealed when a resident of Vermont complained at having realized that 18% had been added to her bill at a restaurant for the third time, once the waiter heard her speaking French.  She spoke French sure enough, but she has lived in the U.S. for 30 years.  She objected to the imposed gratuity, and it was withdrawn.

But that incident shed light on a growing phenomenon; waiters identifying French Canadians and shielding themselves from an anticipated low tip by figuring it into the bill.  "It's really discouraging.  They're lovely people, so I don't know where it comes from.  But most of the time, they leave between five and seven percent", said one waitress.

A manager at a Burlington bistro and cafe was of the opinion that Quebecers were unaware that the minimum wage for wait staff in Vermont is $4.10 hourly.  Whereas that rate is double, at $8.25, for Quebec restaurant and bar staff.  That most certainly is a generous-minded interpretation.  Quebecers have the reputation in the U.S. of being cheapskates.

They would hardly know that French Canadians also don't, as a rule, respond generously to requests from charities.  On average, French Canadians prefer not to give donations to charities. But they are not at all loathe to take charity from other Canadians in the way of Federal government taxation transfers to boost the province's social services.

And, right in line with that, many French Canadians are wonderfully adept at manipulating themselves into positions of permanent public social assistance, otherwise known as welfare, because it beats working for a living.  Though they certainly don't have a monopoly on it.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

 The Conjoining of May and December

Another unfortunate Senate of Canada revelation.  Senator Rod Zimmer, 69 years of age has had his personal life hit the front pages.  Not that he's done anything politically amiss. But one does have a sober second thought about the intelligence and perspicacity of a 69-year-old man, presumably intelligent enough to have incurred the admiration of those in power, to elevate him to the Senate of Canada.

Even in these socially enlightened times, however, a niggling little unease over the disparate age of a man and his wife might occur when one is apprised of the fact that this man married a young woman one-third his age.  The age, in other words, of his granddaughters, if he has any.  In fact,the young woman's own grandmother is a year younger than her husband, Senator Rod Zimmer.

Perhaps Senator Zimmer fancies that whatever was good enough for King David during biblical times is good enough for him.
1 Kings 1:1-4 1 When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. 2 So his attendants said to him, “Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.”3 Then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful young woman and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4 
Maygan Sensenberger, 23, appears to be Senator Zimmer's Abishag.  Her grandmother, 68-year-old Rita, informed the press that "she gets upset easy if anything's wrong with her husband.  He is quite a bit older than Maygan and she does worry a lot about him ... if she thought there was something wrong with Rod she would be very, very upset."

Maygan Sensenberger is in a spot of difficulty, having had to appear in court because of having made quite a fuss on a flight to Saskatchewan from Ottawa. It is alleged that the young woman threatened to kill her husband and "take down the aircraft".  Quite possibly, because her elderly husband was ill and she was dreadfully concerned about him, in her excited state she garbled the message and it came out quite alarmingly wrong.

It is likelier, giving the testimony of a fellow passenger who came to the aid of the Senator and his lovely young wife, that Maygan Sensenberger said something more like that she was about to ask the pilot to land the plane in fear of the experience being enough to kill her husband, as he was ill, his chest constricted and she feared his death.
"I never at any time felt threatened.  And all of the frustration she expressed while I was there was targeted around the medical condition and the health of her husband.  She saw us doing the primary work so she was continuing to speak out.  She was continuing to say, 'What's happening?  Is he OK?  Tell me he's going to be OK.  Why aren't you doing more?  Why aren't you doing something?"

This, from Scott Wright, formerly an ambulance attendant who volunteered assistance when the flight crew asked for anyone with medical experience to come forward to assist the senator and his wife.

Happy one-year-wedding anniversary, grandfather, granddaughter.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Having Fun

That's what it's called when you're bored, when everything seemingly goes too smoothly and there is too little tension in your life.  You've achieved all you've set out to do, and in so doing there seem few challenges left to make life interesting.  And then, newlyweds who have it all come up with a new 'fun project'.  To make additional use of that long-planned-for and expensively-acquired bridal gown.  It will never be used again, so why not do something really different with it.

Maria Pantazopoulos, 30 years old who just bought a house of her own, began work as a real estate agent, was married in June, took a honeymoon in the Caribbean and was really, really happy, according to her best friend, thought up a lark.  She had a photo shoot planned, a photographer willing to take part in her ditsy but oh-so-much-fun plan to memorialize herself in her wedding gown, to accompany her to Rawdon, 75 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
DEADBRIDE28N_6_WEBMaria Pantazopoulos via Facebook

This is a trend, evidently named "trash the dress".  Where brides pose happily for photographs in their wedding gowns after the event has taken place, choosing what they feel to be unconventional settings to prove how clever and unique their creative thought processes are.  
"She's a really fun girl, and she just didn't want her wedding dress sitting in a box in the closet. She said 'I want to have fun with my wedding dress.  I want to have great pictures and memories of me in my wedding dress'."
 Ill-thought-out high spirits, a sense of adventure, a game, having fun, surprising one's friends with the results.  They're surprised now, and she is in the past tense, although there will be photographs for her parents and her husband and her brother to treasure, of Maria Pantazopoulos in her wedding dress in a truly unlikely setting.DEADBRIDE28N_5_WEB

ROBERT VOS/AFP/Getty Images  ‘Trash the dress’ photo shoots are intended to look like high-fashion magazine spreads.

"She had her wedding dress on and she said, 'Take some pictures of me while I swim a little bit in the lake'.  She went in and her dress got heavy, I tried everything I could to save her.  I jumped in; I was screaming and yelling; we tried our best", said the photographer, in anguished memory.

Two police officers arriving soon after Maria went under the water, and photographer Louis Pagakis was unable to save her, shed their uniforms and jumped into the water to find her.  Eventually, however, a scuba diver arrived with his gear and retrieved her body.

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Apple's Best-Case Scenario

If you're a huge conglomerate of celebrity status, with your products in feverishly high demand, recognized as an industry leader in every respect, from research and innovation, production and sales, and you're launching a lawsuit against another large corporation whom you accuse of plagiarism, it helps immeasurably if the lawsuit is heard in a court nearby where your corporate operations are located.

All the more so if the corporate interests doing the suing have lodged a somewhat-credible complaint against a competitor who just happens to be a foreign manufacturer.  Inbred bias isn't too hard to detect when an American court and a jury comprised of locals who may be involved at some level apart from national pride, in judging the activities of a foreign-based counterpart are invoked.

And added to that an element of seeking to undermine the influence of another corporate entity through its connection to the party being sued, and you've got a win-win situation for the company that has achieved the status of the largest, most prosperous manufacturing-and-service company on the Planet.  Yet Apple Inc. had its nose out of joint by the fact that its competitor, Samsung, sold more iPhone and iPad units than they do.

The verdict handed by a U.S. jury is a sweeping legal victory for Apple over Samsung with the claim that Samsung's Galaxy line of phones among others violated Apple's patents.  Samsung has sold 22.7 million smartphones and tablets that Apple insists uses Apple's technology.  Apple demands Samsung withdraw its most popular cellphones and computer tablets from the U.S. market.

The supreme irony in all of this is that Apple buys all of its computer components from Samsung.

The result of the trial awarding Apple $1.051-billion in damages from Samsung was predicted.  Industry insiders looked at the makeup of the jury, selected from Silicon Valley where Apple's founder Steve Jobs, remains a revered technological pioneer, both before and after his untimely death.  The issue boiled down to whether or not Samsung's products had the look and feel of the Apple products.

Unsurprisingly, they do.  Now, other companies that sell smartphones based on Google's operating system, also used by Samsung's devices will be looking at paying royalties to Apple for its Android OS. Apple's shares on the stockmarket have zoomed, and Samsung's have plummeted.  In earlier lawsuits in other countries in Australia, Britain and Germany, Apple lost their lawsuit against Samsung.

The icing on the cake for Apple with its own operating system is putting a kink in Google's freely-offered operating system.

A court in South Korea came to a more balanced conclusion, finding both companies to share for the blame.  Samsung was ordered to stop selling ten of its products including the Galaxy SII phone.  And Apple was banned from selling four different products, including its iPhone 4, in recognition of Samsung's counter-suit against Apple.

Will such utter domination of the market for these products of one company be in the best interests of consumers?  Will this advance research and innovation worldwide?  Will the cost to own and operate these products remain reasonable, or be set to rise exponentially?

Microsoft redux.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Physician/Patient Power Point

Those practising in the medical professional are still looked upon as special, their medical knowledge and their diagnostic-and-treatment abilities rendering them in some peoples' judgement as close to god as any human is about to get.  People trust them, hold them in admiration, respect them.  They have knowledge that is not shared by the general public.  Wisdom is ascribed to them of a kind not normally seen in the general, non-medical-profession public.

Doctors and other health professionals earn salaries commensurate in large part with their education, with their practise and experience, with the esteem in which they are held in society.  The shortage of doctors and other medical professionals practising in Canada is a matter of acute concern.  There are far too many people who do not have the comfort of having a family physician.  Doctors' skills are needed to keep a society well-functioning.

So they are respected, and they are well compensated financially.  So well compensated that the salaries they earn, even in a country where universal medicare puts a cap on earnings that would not occur elsewhere, are considerably above those earned by other professionals in other prestige categories of social service or business.  No one really begrudges physicians their relative wealth.  They are generally held to be hard-working and the judgement they exercise can be a matter of life-or-death to their patients.

In the presence of their doctors, people are usually given to being compliant.  Following doctors' orders.  For if those orders are contested, or not obliged, the doctor could very well be disgruntled enough at the lack of co-operation to withdraw his services.  Or claim, should health go awry, that though she/he did his/her duty to the patient, the patient failed to do his due duty to his own welfare.

There's a certain amount of intimidation factored into the patient-health-professional relationship.  And here we come to an issue that a group of Ontario doctors are finding wanting within their own professional cohorts in the province.  The Province of Ontario, facing the prospect of a growing deficit has asked some high-earning professional groups for some wage concessions.  Doctors and those in the teaching professions take exception to this singling out of their professions.

Doctors in particular, claim as a group under the Ontario Medical Association that they are being short-shrifted, and the public, as a result, is facing a potential down-grade of services due them.  Anti-cutback petitions targeting the public and patients are going the rounds; not just in newspaper advertisements, but in doctors' offices where patients are asked to sign such petitions.

"Doctors are there for the patient's well-being, not to persuade patients to support their political positions", reads a release by Medical Reform Group, a doctor-operated public health care advocate.  While they may not be averse, as a public-interest non-profit, to the stance taken by their professional body with the petition arguing against a freeze on doctors' wages, they don't appreciate doctors taking the issue to their patients.

Patients being confronted by the petitions will read that the proposed freeze: "will impact my doctor's ability to provide care for me and my family", calling on the provincial government to "negotiate in good faith with doctors for an agreement what will protect Ontario health care".  The cuts which the OMA estimates in the $1-billion ballpark are cited to represent a "serious risk to health care in our community and across the province."

And this is what patients are confronted with and asked by their doctors' office staff or their doctor him/herself, to sign.  "In our view, anything that would enlist the patient's support for a political goal of the physician would be problematic. The OMA would no doubt argue that physicians being paid more is in the patient's best interest - that may or may not be true - but it's clearly still a political issue", stated Dr. Gordon Duyatt, MRG president, a medical researcher at McMaster University.

Dr. Guyatt speaks of the power dynamic between doctor and patient: "The patient's experience could be that if they didn't support the physician's political aim, the physician might in some way be unhappy with them.  If that person is operating on your eye the next day, it might make you a trifle nervous", he explained.  To the consternating objections of the OMA spokesperson who labelled the assertion "insulting".

Let's hear it for Dr. Guyatt and other Ontario doctors who have signed on to the Medical Reform Group.

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Smoking Awareness Setback

Physician and other non-smoking groups lobbying for greater government efforts to alert smokers to the dangers of tobacco use recently criticized Health Canada for its tardiness in coming to a decision over larger graphic displays on tobacco products.  Those larger displays illustrating the gruesome health effects over time of tobacco use are now law in Canada. 

Other developed countries of the world had already made the change.  Nothing, however, changes the fact that Canada's was the first such initiative, persuading other countries to follow suit.

The health-information campaign has had its success, making inroads into peoples' consciousness that in continuing to smoke, or beginning to smoke and becoming entrapped in a cycle of dependence, has persuaded a great number of people to embrace smoking cessation.  But cigarette use is still on the upsurge in developing countries where more people, at earlier ages, begin smoking and start a life-time habit injurious to their health.

And, without doubt, there are some individuals who, despite knowing how injurious smoking can be to their future health and what can lie in store for them as a result of smoking, fail to be impressed by these efforts.  Theirs is the attitude, largely, that they will not be manipulated by government or anyone else.  That if they wish to use tobacco they will do so and damn the consequences.  The cost to society in providing health care to this demographic is enormous.

And now comes word that in the country that most exemplifies the virtues of free enterprise and the glories of the free marketplace, a U.S. appeals court has struck down a law requiring tobacco companies to comply with graphic health warnings.  This decision contradicts an earlier appeals court's ruling.  Making it possible that the U.S. Supreme Court will have to address the issue to settle this obvious legal dispute.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is held by this new ruling to have violated corporate speech rights.  The FDA argued the images of rotting teeth and diseased lungs depicted on the graphic warnings for consumers by edict of law is a true representation and needful to warn consumers, most particularly young people, about the risks inherent in smoking.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 45-million Americans smoke.  That cigarettes represent the leading cause of preventable death in the Unite States is beyond question.  The World Health Organization prediction is for 8 million people annually killed by 2030 through tobacco use impacting human health, if governments do not take the matter seriously enough to impede the inevitable from occurring.

In March, the U.S. Surgeon General warned use of tobacco products by youth has reached epidemic proportions; in the United States one in four high school seniors now smoke regularly.  Australia took a further initiative to limit smoking advertising, banning company logos on cigarette packs.  The European Union has taken note, and is considering a similar ban.

But in the United States five tobacco companies have challenged the FDA rules: Reynolds American Inc., Lorillarad Inc., Commonwealth Brands Inc. owned by Britain's Imperial Tobacco Group Plc, Liggett Group LLC, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc.  The prodigious and expensive lobbying that the tobacco companies engage in speaks to their bottom line.

In its majority ruling the appeals court found that the labelling requirements from the FDA violated corporate speech rights, arguing:
"This case raises novel questions about the scope of the government's authority to force the manufacturer of a product to go beyond making purely factual and accurate commercial disclosures and undermine its own economic interest - in this case, by making 'every single pack of cigarettes in the country (a) mini billboard for the government's anti-smoking message", Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The FDA, according to the reasoning producing the judgement "has not provided a shred of evidence" to indicate that the graphic labels would reduce smoking.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

 What Sizzling Story Is That?

Rupert Murdoch's news empire's revelations of sinister methods undertaken to obtain news scoops provided ample entertainment for the British reading public for a good while.  It also pointed out just how close relations were between government and that news empire's highest paid directors.  And the fallout from disclosure and denunciation of illegal and immoral practises in the production of news snooping at the lowest level for the lowest common denominator resulted in a pall being cast over the gathering and publishing of tabloid-style news.

The Royal Family was fair game, even if unfair investigative methods and underhanded tactics were used, up until the unfolding debacle of News of the World.  And there were enough scandals to keep the tabloids thanking their lucky stars that the younger cohort of the British Royal Families, Windsor Incorporated, were bent on behaving in a rather cheeky manner, letting their sexuality hang out for all to appraise and muse over endlessly.

Queen Elizabeth II was decidedly not amused.  She was appalled, and chagrined and bemoaned her 'annus horribilis'.  Much of the scandals centered largely around the antics of her daughter-in-law, named by some the Princess of Tarts, seen by far many others as a sympathetic and vulnerable, and hugely wronged figure of tragic, albeit wayward proportions.

And here, by Jove, is her younger son, whooping it up in a style she never quite mastered, although she was no slouch at garnering the attention of her adoring public.  Her son, Prince Harry, is equally adored and evidently equally endowed with poor judgement and a penchant for public display, even in matters where the public should be firmly excluded.

Millions of people have viewed Prince Harry having a lark, buck naked, astride a young woman equally unclad, disporting themselves happily, but not as privately as should have been done.  The young man's minders were obviously busy with their own affairs, or quite simply disinterested in proffering sage counsel to a man of 27 who really should be mature enough to understand that as a symbol of royalty, third in succession to the Crown, and in respect of his grandmother, discretion is truly the better part of display.

"We are not against [Prince Harry] letting his hair down once in a while.  For us this is about the freedom of the press", explained managing editor of The Sun"We've thought long and hard about this.  The Sun is a responsible paper it works closely with the Royal family.  We take heed of their wishes."  However, doing proper service to the public, which has already been exposed to the excess of joy expressed by Harry, was paramount.

Who can blame them?  There was, after all, no religious fatwa proclaimed against the publication of details already well enough known.  One of Harry's guests in his private Las Vegas hotel suite took some incriminating photos, and then distributed them.  Just in fun.  To prove what a delightful chap Harry is.  Somewhat lacking in self-discipline perhaps, but a barrel of laughs.

Disporting himself, recalling how much fun old Henry VIII had, and he was king, for heaven's sake.

The Sun; DANIEL SORABJI/AFP/GettyImages “Today The Sun is publishing the make Prince Harry party pictures our readers have been prevented from seeing in print," reads an explanation on Friday's cover. "We are doing so despite warnings from the Royal Family’s lawyers," it reads.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Ultimate Male Arrogance

"I believe this is a mistake.  There are people of goodwill on both sides of the abortion issue and we need to send a message to voters that there is room in the Republican Party for differing perspectives....  The Republican Party would be well served to recognize in its platform that you can be pro-choice and still be a good Republican."  Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican

What has been revealed about the Republican Party in the United States lately may not be a "war on women" exactly; it may more accurately simply be a gender-based assault on cerebral and social functioning, a kind of antediluvian reaction to one of society's more intractable and polarizing convictions revolving around women's right to control the issue of their own bodies.

But as far as positively influencing American women as potential voters for the Republican Party may be concerned, it's a step backwards.  The revelation that the platform of the Republican Party is a denial of the right of women to access abortion, terminating an unwanted pregnancy, to the extent that all abortions would be forbidden by law, inclusive of those caused by rape, has done the Republicans no good at all during this election season.

It's not all that far to November that women will conveniently overlook the asinine statement by Republican Todd Akin that a "forcible" rape would not result in a pregnancy because women are capable of biologically controlling whether or not they will become pregnant; the body kicking in to reject a pregnancy in the instance of a "forcible" rape.  No one has explained the provenance of an "unforcible"' rape.

And while there have been rumours that she-wolves (bitches) in the wild are capable of re-absorbing a foetus during times of food shortages, never has medical science come up with the whopper that human females are capable of restraining normal biological function to rejection of the formation of those differentiated cells in comprising a foetus in the wake of a rape.

Most helpfully for their own political cause, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pointed out that Akin was "far from alone" in his redefining of rape and his crusade to deny access to health care through the restriction of federally funded abortion procedures to women made victims of "forcible" rape.

It hasn't helped Mitt Romney's presidential prospects to have been ambushed by this revelation that his newly-chosen vice-presidential running mate, a financial whizz at a time when the U.S. really needs some economic intelligence to grapple with its looming deficit and growing debt, alongside the very possible slide from feeble recovery back into serious recession, to the realization that Paul Ryan co-sponsored Akin's rape bill.

"I'm proud of my pro-life record.  But Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket and Mitt Romney will be president and he will set the policy of the Romney administration", asserted Paul Ryan, referring to Mitt Romney's more relaxed acceptance of a woman's right to choose abortion rather than carry an unwanted pregnancy.

What this controversy has revealed in stark blazing colours is that the Republican Party's "no exceptions" position on abortion has represented their position since 2000.  It has rarely been openly discussed as it is now being spoken about, previously.  Republicans are just now awakening to the possibility that they may be acutely damaged by this publicly-perceived "war on women".

It is a well-earned fear.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

They Like Us!  A Lot...

Well, retailers close to the U.S.-Canada border do like Canadians an awful lot.  They don't feel they're being invaded, not at all, when hordes of Canadians drive over the border for a day of shopping.  In fact, while most Americans view Canadians, their continental neighbours and largest trading partners with something quite close to indifference, it's a different story with the retail industry. 

Bearing in mind that this isn't entirely a new reality, but under the circumstances of low economic retail activity overall in the U.S., Canadians are more welcome than ever.

That is to say, Canadians making those countless trips for the exclusive purpose of shopping.  Filling up their gas tanks, moseying about in supermarkets, buying their weekly quota of milk, eggs, dairy products, chicken.  Canadian marketing boards aren't all that popular with Canadian consumers, although they are wildly popular with producers.  Saving a dollar here, a dollar there, is big with some Canadians, well worth the drive to come home with that feeling of shopper satisfaction.

And the traffic from Canada to the United States has been fiercer than ever before.  Canadians have been going stateside in record numbers thanks to a few new and very much appreciated items added to the allure of shopping there.  For one thing, new duty-free exemptions have kicked in nicely, permitting Canadians making overnight trips to declare $200-worth of purchased goods (up from the previous $50) free and clear.  And then, of course, the stronger Canadian dollar as well, at par with or slightly above the U.S. greenback.
"There was concern with the higher exemptions that it could prompt increased shopping trips into the U.S.  Certainly the recent data suggests that's what played out."  Paul Ferley, economist, RBC

Statistics Canada's most recently released report indicates overnight trips to the United States rose to 1.9-million, an increase of 7.5% from the month before.  Car travel is the most popular mode of transit, accounting for over 1.2-million trips.  Canadian retailers are somewhat less than thrilled, most particularly those operating close to the U.S.-Canada border. 

"There was a lot of attention in the media and elsewhere in respect to the increased border exemptions, so it's not surprising that there was increased activity at the border", commented David Wilkes, a senior vice-president at the Retail Council of Canada.  "Until we address the root causes we are going to continue to see consumers going to the U.S. seeking the best value for their dollar."

Let's see now, the most popular items are likely electronics, they're considerably less expensive in the U.S.  For most people it's an irritating puzzle that automobiles, electronics, clothing, household products, books, virtually most consumables, are less expensive in the U.S.  Not always, of course, but usually.  Consumers don't think of what's involved, they're just resentful that they have to pay more for all manner of consumer items than their American neighbours do.

There are many reasons why things are cheaper in the U.S.  Economies of scale, lower fixed costs, a larger domestic market, to begin with.  Then there's the reality of a larger un-unionized workforce, the fact that American workers earn less on average than Canadians do, and at the same time they work harder.

Does it really make all that much sense to make those cross-border shopping trips to save a few dollars?  To many people it just doesn't seem reasonable; they're the people who prefer to buy at home.  To many others the trip is an opportunity to get out, look around, have some fun, because shopping represents fun to quite a number of people.

They can always justify those cross-border shopping trips by reminding one another that our friends, the Americans, need all the help they can get to dig themselves out from under their financial doldrums, with the retail sector reporting poor sales in tandem with an unemployment rate that doesn't seem interested in budging. 

Besides which, the friendly glow that emanates from the welcome they get from U.S. retailers speaks for itself.

They've just got to remember when they pass through the border not to inform the U.S. border authority that they're bringing citrus fruits along with them.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Old-Fashioned Nature

Scorn nature at one's peril. 

But we do, nonetheless, push to achieve another kind of reality, one that confounds nature, but which expresses the sometimes bizarre reality that many of us wish to live and celebrate.  And could there possibly be anything more bizarre and strangely absurd than an individual born female, opting to become a transgendered male deciding despite having undergone both surgery and hormonal alterations (having kept the uterus intact) to become a mother?

Only Trevor MacDonald who decided to keep his uterus and not make genital alterations but did undergo surgery to remove his female breasts in favour of a more male chest appearance, decided to give birth to a child as a 'father', not as a decidedly more traditional 'mother'.  It's only a convention to him, after all.  And, as a father of a very young child, he wished to give his child all the advantages that nature offers to offspring of human beings.

He would breastfeed his son.  The La Leche League Canada group, committed to breastfeeding as a natural course that provides a baby and infant with a superior start in life, gave Mr. MacDonald invaluable assistance.  Teaching him the use of a supplemental feeding tube using donated breast milk.  As a former female having undergone a pregnancy as a male doing the normally impossible; bearing a child, he still produced a small amount of breast milk.

Not enough to suffice, not nearly.  So Mr. Macdonald breastfeeds from both his chest/breast, and through the medium of a long thin tube giving the baby donated breast milk.  Mr. MacDonald has had five years of being a male, having transitioned from female to male at age 22.  To allow himself to become pregnant with the aid of his partner, he temporarily halted his normal dosage of chemical testosterone.

"I overcame significant challenges in order to breastfeed", he explains, "and I believe that this background, combined with leader training, will enable me to effectively help others", he wrote in a letter to the La Leche League.  However, the response from the league was less than satisfying to Mr. MacDonald's expectations: "Policies do preclude men from becoming Leaders".

Mr. MacDonald has aspired to many things in his young life; wishing to turn from a woman into a man, and succeeding.  Determining that simply because he refused to continue life as a woman need not deflect him from becoming a father, and proceeding to do just that.  And then deciding that, having accomplished those milestones, nothing should deter him from becoming Leader of a breastfeeding support group for the La Leche League.

Except, of course, that the La Leche League feels otherwise.  Informing him that since he identifies as a father it would be "difficult to represent LLL philosophy".  For, according to the league, "A Leader needs to be able to help all women interested in breastfeeding.  Fathers are able to help in other ways."  A doubtless crushing disappointment.

Reasonably enough, they remind the father who managed to accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of a man giving birth to a child - other than that nature bestowed that gift upon him when it fashioned him originally as a woman - that "You acknowledge that some women may not be comfortable working with a male Leader."  Case closed?

As far as Mr. MacDonald is concerned this is all terribly tedious and old-fashioned.  There are no limits to what human beings can aspire to.  It's always been known that men - and women too, as well - can become asses if they are so inclined.  He just went one better, becoming a man from a woman, and then having his cake and eating it too.

Regarding mothering and fathering as two distinct concepts, according to Mr. MacDonald is "old fashioned".  For, as it happens, "A lot of people live in between on the gender spectrum and they parent in all kinds of ways."

Yes.  Indeed.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Ignominy of Queens Park

Countering complaints from Jewish groups that Queens Park, the seat of Ontario provincial government, is offering legitimacy to an virulent anti-Israel group advocating for the destruction of Israel under the banner of al-Quds Day advanced by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the legislature's sergeant-in-arms serenely responded it is all permissible in the name of free speech.

Free speech, then, permits the presence of flags and banners advocating violent destruction of a free state, and the logos of terrorist groups.

The sergeant-in-arms, Dennis Clark, explained his handling of the application process, along with the speaker of the legislature, assuring his critics that the issue would be handled more delicately this year, with fewer provocative speakers and an absence of Hezbollah symbols.

And, according Speaker Dave Levac, the application by the Pro-Palestinian International Day of Al-Quds Day was confirmed to have been given approval.

So that makes for quite odd bedfellows; the Government of Ontario and the Government of Iran agreeing that Al-Quds Day was deserving of being honoured in both countries.  In the country of its origination with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamist Revolution declaring that Israel must be destroyed and Jerusalem retaken for the Arabs of the Middle East and specifically the Palestinians.

And in Canada, where similar rallies were planned for Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.  The Edmonton co-organizer crowed that his group had no trouble at all securing a permit to similarly present at the Alberta legislature.  "We feel a human rights duty to not be silent about oppression in other parts of the world", said Hosein Taghaddos.

Speaking in nomenclature readily understood and righteously supported by leftist-liberals who have no problems, it would appear, with the notion that life is as simple as they would have it, that there are oppressors and the oppressed, that the Republic of Iran is not a threat to world peace and security with its nuclear plans but Israel, which has been forced to fight for its existence over the length of its existence, represents a condemnatory state.

הפגנה לרגל יום ירושלים בטהרן
Tehran rallies for al-Quds Day

With the current president of Iran telling worshippers at Tehran University that "The Zionist regime is a malignant cancer, if even one cell remains on Palestinian land, the current situation will continue in the future. Zionists want to spread."  And the massive rallies in Tehran holding aloft banners in support of the "Palestinian resistance to the Israeli regime."  Although the Hezbollah flags seemed not in evidence in Toronto this year, they featured large in Tehran.

"Imagine, for instance, a neo-Nazi group, the Klu Klux Klan or an anti-gay group coming to the grounds of the legislature the year before.  Let's say it's an anti-gay group proclaiming gay people are behind all the injustice in the world ...  Is there a chance the same group would be permitted to use the grounds again?  Not a chance.  We feel there's a double standard here", expostulated Howard English, senior vice-president at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

Toronto-based defence lawyer Sayeh Hassan, along with fellow pro-democracy Iranian Canadians set themselves up to appear at the anti-Zionist rally to counter the "hate rally".  "I don't think this sort of thing has any place on Canadian government space.  If they want to have a rally, go have it somewhere else - not somewhere that's a symbol of our Canadian democratic values."

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Amanda Lindsay concealed something about himself for 35 years and it cost him his marriage. When he and his wife announced their plans to separate, their daughter Michelle bolted to escape the tension-filled house. Before she could flee, he signalled there was one more thing he needed to say. Paul was a cross-dresser.

Pride?  Really?

"There's an urge inside.  I get a tense, nervous feeling.  You've got to express that side of you.  I've got a woman tapping lightly inside my head, asking to come out, and it gets stronger - until I actually dress and let her out - she keeps banging harder and harder."  Paul Lindsay

Paul Lindsay, by his own account, always wanted to be able to dress like a woman, even as a child.  At puberty he was drawn to wearing women's clothing.  A compulsion that he kept well hidden until he was 48 years of age.  By that time he had long been married and was a father of two teen-age children, a boy and a girl.  Teens, needless to say, don't anticipate discovering that either of their parents is not what they appeared to be; they trust that their father and their mother will always be just that.

In Paul Linday's case, he will always be the father of those two children for he did, after all, father them.  His biology as a male made that possible.  His wife of long standing viewed him as a masculine partner and they enjoyed what would be characterized as normal conjugal relations: ergo, the children.  Throughout it all Paul had an inescapable yearning to dress himself in clothing not normally worn by men; stockings, girdles, skirts; items of apparel that would certainly turn heads.

But there's a photograph of Paul Lindsay, and he certainly makes a presentable-enough-appearing woman.  He looks comfortable in the persona.  He would be, since just after he married his wife, Paul began acquiring female garb which he would tuck away secretly in a small crawl space of the apartment they shared.  When his wife was absent from home that was his opportunity to indulge.  He did not divulge to her his fascination with wearing women's clothing.

Fearing, and with good reason, that her reaction would be a visceral one; disbelief and distaste.  And who could blame her?  What woman would expect to be informed by her husband that he thinks her clothing is great, so much so that he too would enjoy wearing them, would she mind?  It would be a rare woman who did not react with shock and a numbing sense of betrayal.  Which is just what happened with Paul, when he informed his wife he liked to cross-dress.

"I said, 'I like to cross-dress'.  She was stunned and didn't believe it.  She shut down and didn't want to talk after that.  In hindsight, I think I couldn't keep the secret anymore - more than just being open about it."  Their marriage was on the skids, in any event.  And Paul decided to break the news to his children, son 19, daughter 17.  His son quietly took the news, stating his father had taught him tolerance.  For his daughter it was a little different; she was fearful of what would happen to their relationship; father/daughter.

"It was weird just trying to figure out what was going on and how to handle it.  I was afraid that he was transsexual and that I'd lose my dad, which wouldn't have been OK.  It's like someone died.  Finding out he's a cross-dresser was a relief, because I got to keep my dad."  More or less.  Sometimes her dad is a man by the name of Paul Lindsay, and sometimes he's a woman named Amanda Ryan.  Paul/Amanda call the female persona Paul's 'femme'.

When Paul is fully dressed as Amanda he wears earrings, makeup, nail polish, hip pads, high-heeled shoes, a dress, wig, and breast forms.  When he is arrayed in this manner people still do a double-take; evidently the male in him remains in full evidence.  The human mind is a strange thing.  It exercises control in psychologically perverse, confounding, confusing ways.  That's quite the gender contortion; slipping from male to female.  Representing another mystery of the unknowable human mind.

Paul spends time on hair removal, undergoing laser treatments on beard and arms.  He sometimes waxes his back and chest, shaves his legs, trims his eyebrows.  And Paul/Amanda do a lot of public education.  "I think that we've accomplished a great deal, the attitude of the public has changed a lot.  Ten years ago, attitudes were very stereotypical.  We were perceived as 'sexual deviants, perverts, and pedophiles'.  Now, when I say the term 'transgender' the response is, 'Oh, I've heard about that, tell me more'.  To me, that's a quantum leap.  It opens the door to conversation and education."

As a male, Paul continues to try to sustain intimate relationships with women.  Once, about a month after initiating a new relationship he told the woman about his need to cross-dress.  Her response was that she was fine with the situation and they had a four-year relationship.  In the final analysis, however, the relationship broke down, because the woman wanted a male who was positive about his gender, not someone who would meander from one identity to the other.

"Amanda", he explains, "is a significant part of my life - not one I want to repress anymore.  If someone is not interested in getting involved with me as a whole, then why bother being involved?  I'd rather be true to myself.  I spent too many years trying to figure out who Amanda is to simply give up on that."

So he has figured out who Amanda is, then?  As though life isn't complicated enough.

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