Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another Scary Story About Canadian Health Care

As a Canadian I feel I'm in a good position to let my American friends know what health care in Canada is like. I know you guys are having a bit of a debate down there and I know stories about Canadian health care and how horrid it is are flying down there so I thought I'd share my experiences on occasion to let you know that every bad and terrible thing you've heard about Canadian health care is true!

This isn't the first time I done this for you. Some time ago I wrote about the trials I had to go through for a renal ultrasound. Well, in the past week I've been put through the wringer again over a simple prescription renewal.

Last Wednesday I discovered I had almost run out of a medication I take most weekdays so I called up my doctor's office.

"Hello, Dr. So-and-so's office."

"Hi! This is Dawn so-and-so and I need an appointment to have my prescription of happy-day pills renewed."

"We have a spot tommorrow at 12:15pm"

"I have to be in town that day."

"Okay. What about 11:45 am Friday?"

Did you notice? She deliberately offered me an appointment I couldn't take! An appointment on a day I was busy! Oh sure, I got in to see the doctor within two days but does that honestly make up for the fact that she dared to turn my schedule upside down? The nerve.

So I go to the appointment and my doctor wrote out the prescription and I figured I'd ask her about perimenopause. My voice has taken a small dip over the summer and I've added a full two or three notes to the bottom of my range. I now have the deeper singing voice I've always wanted. I asked my choir director about it Thursday night and he cheerfully suggested perimenopause.

My doctor, all keen to be doctorish, suggested thyroid problems and ordered a blood test to rule that out. Being a bit of a keener she also thought it was time for me to have some more routine blood work done as well. Ridiculously forward of her I thought.


The future date happens to bee the following Monday - yesterday. I have to drive a whole 25 minutes to the local blood clinic. Once I get inside I don't even have a chance to sit down before a receptionist calls me over, take my health card and paperwork and then passes me off to a nurse. The nurse takes me to a chair, takes blood and I'm out of the clinic in ten minutes. No time to even scan an old magazine! They could have at least let me have five minutes of pretend wait time so I could check out an US magazine and find what Madonna's current kid count is at. Some consideration would be nice.

And to top the whole fiasco off I got a call just an hour ago from my doctor's office telling me my blood work was normal. No thought that I might enjoy the waiting, the tension of not knowing for just a little longer. No, with Canadian health care it's wham, bam, thank you ever so much ma'am. From first call to resolution in 5 working days.

The worst? That aside from my prescription no one even thought to ask for money along the way. My pockets are as burdened as ever.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Need a Belly Laugh?

Head on over to FUPenguin. It's the perfect remedy for LOL Cats overload. Lots of bad words but I promise that if your sense of humour runs a little on the snarky side you'll be thanking me.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Got Math All Wrong

I read a post at Kitchen Table Math the other day which linked to a presentation (in pdf) by H. Wu called From Arithmetic to Algebra.

It's an excellent read and led to the revelation (for me anyway) that Algebra isn't about letters stuck in math equations or just about solving for an unknown or variables but, "...what is true in general for all numbers, all
whole numbers, all integers, etc." (from linked pdf). You can use x and y in place of numbers in algebra precisely because the operations you perform can be perform with all numbers. Huge light bulb moment and it fed my growing belief that algebra is totally cool and enormously important.

Anyway, that had been simmering on the back burner of my brain for almost a week when Catherine started geometry today. While I was in Ontario we visited a used bookstore and there I found the neatest little geometry textbook from 1920. It's straightforward, clear and compact and I thought I'd give it a try. I've been up in the air about whether to continue with Singapore 6A this year or take a break and do some geometry (Catherine's preference) so I took finding this little text as a sign.

Chapter one involves drawing lines, marking points and measuring distances. One exercise required that, given how many inches are in a metre, how many centimetres would be in 2 inches. Catherine and I got to work. As we did, she struggled. We had to work with decimals and she couldn't remember how multiplying decimals, in terms of how to move the decimal point, worked.

It was after we'd plowed through this that the Wu pdf came back to me. Algebra being about what's generally true about numbers. I realized that, of course, x and y in an equation could stand for a decimal or fraction as well and then that, of course, that meant there was really no special way of multiplying decimals. There is only multiplying numbers and how we multiply whole numbers is absolutely the same way we multiply decimals. The only difference is that we hide the decimal point with whole numbers and then need to introduce tricks and rules about multiplying decimals later on.

This is the same thing with fractions. Take diving fractions for instance. You don't divide, you multiply the reciprocal right? That's what I taught my daughter and it turned the operation into some kind of arcane formula that had to be remembered with tricks and was thought of as something special you do with fractions. But it's not! You can do the same thing with whole numbers and it's just as true and valid. 5 divided by 3 can also be 5 times one third and the answer will be the same. x divided by y = c can also be x times one over y = c, right?

So I did it wrong in a way. I fell into a trap of teaching fractions and decimals as if different rules applied when really I should have spent a little more time pointing out that the decimal point in whole numbers behaves in exactly the same way as the decimal point in decimal numbers when being put through an operation or that the tricks we do with fractions are in fact, the tricks we do with whole numbers. It's simply that we like to hide those things for simplicity's sake when we work with whole numbers.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Do You Know Where Our Homeschooling Stuff Is?

After our false start in August I was eager to get back to homeschooling this week. Did I? No.


I have no idea where anything is.

Singapore Math has dissapeared. Writing Tales is nowhere to be found. First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind is gone.

Where in the heck IS everything? And why did it all seem to get lost right after I finally caved and turned the never-used playroom into a school room so I could keep everything in one place?


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Back From Toronto

Wonderful trip.

I got to re-connect with my brother who I haven't really had a decent conversation with in over a decade. I got to know my sister-in-law better. She honestly seems to fit into our family so comfortably that qualifying the sister label with in-law hardly seems necessary. I also got to fall in love with my 1 year old niece. She however only had eyes for Catherine and the two of them had an absolute ball with one another.

Leaving was tough. There was nothing I could do or say that could help Catherine feel better as she said goodbye to her aunt and niece and when we had to give my brother a farewell hug at the airport she began to cry again. Turns out my daughter, who I always knew was a softy, has a huge and fearless heart. When she connects with people she doesn't hold back, doesn't keep pieces of herself in reserve or stay aloof in order to spare herself when the inevitable parting happens. She might be a little shy to begin with but it's not long before she's engaged with those around her and loving them fiercely.

For me, someone who always hangs back and is an absolute emotional coward, it's awe inspiring.