It's always a proud moment when your mother gives you recognition


Happy Birthday LeVar Burton


There's a hole in the bottom of the sea

If you're ever driving in Jasper, try not to run over this digital artifact...


A relic from ancient days gone by

I found this letter from a mere three weeks ago from the Wildrose Alliance tonight while passport-hunting.

With Stelmach's resignation doesn't it seem like a document from a bazillion years ago?

"If you got a problem, yo I solve it" says the rapper. "If you got a solution, yo I problem it" says the Alberta healthcare system

April 1st of 2010, the Gimbel Eye Centre in Calgary posted the following notice:

Government decision forces Gimbel Eye Centre surgeons to take their cataract surgery patients to other surgical facilities

Alberta Government decision impacts ONLY Alberta CATARACT Surgery patients

(For further clarification, see our FAQ)

April 1, 2010

* On Friday, March 26, 2010, Alberta Health Services informed us of their decision to limit the number of facilities able to provide cataract surgery services to Alberta patients. Instead of several non-hospital surgical facilities contracted to provide cataract surgery in both Calgary and Edmonton, there will now be only two in Calgary and two in Edmonton.

* What that means is that physicians from various surgical centres will only be allowed to provide surgical services in those specified centres, requiring re-routing of hundreds of patients and doctors from several clinics.

* The decision is to be effective April 1. However, because of the very short notice (4 business days), we are extremely concerned about the impact on our patients, many of whom have been booked for surgery for months. Our priority has been on making the transition as seamless as possible for our patients.

* There are many questions about the ability of these contracted providers to accommodate this demand in such a short time frame. We are concerned about the serious logistical issues that are presented as a result of this decision.

* We are shocked and saddened by this decision, which was made on the basis of who could provide services at the lowest cost to Alberta Health Services.

* We have been working with various levels of government to express our concerns and advocate for the best possible outcomes for our patients.

* We will work in every way possible to minimize the impact on our patients. Alberta cataract patients will continue to receive pre- and post-op care at Gimbel Eye Centre (both Calgary and Edmonton), the only change will be the location of the CATARACT surgery. This decision does not affect our refractive surgery in any way.

* The decision also only affects ALBERTA patients. We will continue to provide cataract surgery to out-of-province and out-of-country patients at Gimbel Eye Centre in Calgary and Edmonton.

This decision saddens us deeply. If you have concerns or an opinion about this decision, here are some options for you. You can call or email your MLA, and/or the health minister, and/or the premier.
In May, they posted the following:
May 21, 2010

Calgary – Gimbel Eye Centre believes the Alberta Health Services (AHS) decision to fund an additional 1,400 cataract surgeries over the next four months, and up to an additional 120 corneal transplants this year, is positive news for Albertans.

“We, along with many others, have been encouraging the Minister to focus funding where wait lists are the longest. Patients waiting for their surgeon-of-choice will benefit from this announcement,” says Dr. Howard Gimbel, Executive Medical Director of Gimbel Eye Centre, and one of it’s four surgeons. “This is an important step toward an interim solution addressing long waiting lists for cataract surgery.”

The new surgical blitz is aimed at reducing long wait times for cataract surgeries, with 1000 surgeries designated for Calgary and 400 surgeries assigned to Edmonton.

Cataract service providers have two weeks to respond to an Expression of Interest document distributed on May 20, 2010. According to the AHS news release, contracts will be awarded to all approved, accredited facilities interested in providing the service within the guidelines stipulated and with the understanding that the surgeries will be completed by September 30, 2010.

Gimbel Eye Centre will be responding positively to the Expression of Interest document and hopes that at least some of their patients will be able to have their cataract surgeries in both its Calgary and Edmonton surgical centres. Gimbel Eye Centre patients have been having their cataract surgeries at another surgical facility in Calgary and Edmonton since AHS began limiting the facilities that could perform surgeries as of April 1, 2010.

“We will continue to participate in the consultation process that the Minister has initiated. We believe that patients deserve the freedom to choose their surgeon as well as the surgical facility where it is provided,” adds Dr. Gimbel.

Family owned and operated, Gimbel Eye Centre offers patients the full range of options for vision correction surgery available today. Trusted by Canadians since 1964, Gimbel Eye Centre has performed over 200,000 procedures and is one of the most experienced vision correction centres in the world, with locations in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.
Now what do we read in the news today?
EDMONTON - An additional 1,500 people from the Edmonton area will be getting cataract surgeries before March 31 as the province continues to roll out one-time surgical blitzes to reduce wait times.

Alberta Health Services will be spending $1.6 million from its existing budget to perform the additional Edmonton surgeries, plus 1,550 in Calgary, another 120 in Grande Prairie and 60 in Lethbridge. Cataract surgeries are also regularly performed in 13 other Alberta communities.

“Combined with prior blitzes, we have significantly increased the number of cataract procedures done in Alberta this year,” said Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky in a news release. “With predictable five-year funding for health care, we continue to add more surgeries to reduce wait times for high-priority procedures.”

Previous blitzes targeted people needing urgent cancer, heart, joint, brain, eye or gynecological surgeries, as well as hip and knee replacements. Wait times for these medical procedures were a huge pressure point in the province.
Micromanaging blunder after micromanaging blunder, you'd think that eventually somebody might clue in that public healthcare (being a political, not an economic, beast) just plain doesn't work. No matter how many more millions spent, no matter how many new plans are concocted, its the same disaster striking every few months.

Hey, what have we here? Gimbel used to do cataract surgeries 3,000 times per year until the province's health bureaucrats forced him to drop that number to 500. And since Gimbel can no longer do private cataract surgeries outside the system, the cases build up and build up, until the taxpayer has to pay to fix the problem that Gimbel was already fixing.

Get rid of public healthcare, and watch these cataract and ER and cancer crises dissolve in the aether.


Happy birthday sweet 16

Nashville Predators: December 15, 3-2 vs. San Jose

Dallas Stars: December 4, 4-3 (OT) vs. Minnesota

Carolina Hurricanes: December 28, 4-3 vs. Toronto

Phoenix Coyotes: December 26, 1-0 vs. Dallas

Anaheim Ducks: December 12, 6-2 vs. Minnesota

Boston Bruins: December 9, 5-2 vs. NY Islanders

San Jose Sharks: December 16, 4-3 (OT) vs. Dallas

Vancouver Canucks: December 12, 2-1 vs. Edmonton

Philadelphia Flyers: December 4, 5-3 vs. New Jersey

Columbus Blue Jackets: December 11, 3-1 vs. NY Rangers

Washington Capitals: November 26, 6-0 vs. Tampa Bay

Ottawa Senators: December 26, 3-1 vs. Pittsburgh

Toronto Maple Leafs: January 7, 9-3 vs. Atlanta

Buffalo Sabres: January 1, 7-6 (SO) vs. Boston

New York Rangers: December 3, 2-0 vs. NY Islanders

Montreal Canadians: December 2, 5-1 vs. New Jersey

St. Louis Blues: December 21, 4-2 vs. Atlanta

What do all these dates mean? These are all the dates the respective teams celebrated their 16th win of the 2010/2011 NHL regular season. Why do I bring this up? Look at all the December dates in there. Now look at this:

Edmonton Oilers: February 7, 4-0 vs. Nashville


Your author, case in point

Daveberta writes:

As readers of this blog might know, one of my biggest pet peeved (sic) is hearing people stereotype Alberta as “redneck” or “backward.” We may be many things, but we are certainly not “backward.”

How very true. We certainly are not "backwards". We're forward thinking rednecks. Sorry, wasn't it obvious?


Cool things on Bing Aerial View (Amarillo edition)


Cadillac Ranch, where my "Vive L'Alberta Libre" graffiti has probably been painted over by now:

The Amarillo Cattle Auction:

The Big Texan Steak Ranch, where curious and really really dedicated people could actually discover my identity:

Some crop circles:

Some snazzy "lakeside" condos:

Who do you think is the wealthiest person in this development? Try and guess:

Rick Husband International Airport:

Westgate Shopping Centre:


Ten Ways the Alberta Party Does Liberal Party things slightly differently, maybe

I've been nursing a half-written takedown of the Alberta Party for a couple of months now. Every time I make progress on the second half I make a prediction about the dangerous ways the party may proceed, which I read in the paper the next morning they actually follow.

To that extent, Mark Zaugg (with or without the extent of his family, its unclear) has a tongue-in-cheek ten ways the Alberta Party "will do things differently". I don't want to rip on their mantra too much here: that itself is a good half of what I'm already busy ripping them on. Suffice it to say that when they constantly talk about "politics done differently" they either mean "exactly the same" or "differently in precisely the way that they were wisely not done already".

So here's Mark's Top Ten. He tries to rationalize them away himself [self-delusion, believe it or not, is not politics done differently! -ed], but let's be honest: there are far more rational explanations for each "no, really" gotcha moment.

10. Tweet our way to victory!
9. Hardcore recruiting of those moderates.
8. When someone talks "environment" we'll talk "economy." When they talk "economy" we'll talk "health." When they talk "health" we'll talk "education." When they talk "education" we're going back to "environment."
7. Steal ideas from everyone. Wait - is that really different?
6. Ask the same three questions over and over again.
5. Turn down invitations to a health care debate.
4. No permanent leader, 1000 unofficial spokespeople.
3. Tell people that after we win, we'll make it harder next time to win again.
2. We'll be the first party that is both left wing and right wing at the same time!
1. I'm not really sure, but when we get there we'll post it on our webpage.
So here we go:

10. All right there Howard Dean. The funny thing about "tweeting ones way to victory" is that roughly 100% of Alberta Party members are already on Twitter talking about how great it is that they are Alberta Party members. Off Twitter only six people have even heard about the party. And none of the six are impressed (after all, they listen to Dave Rutherford).

9. Moderates already have a party to call their own. It's called the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, and its comprised entirely of moderates who aren't sure how the 'hardcore' and award winning nominated slogan of "you've been doing this all wrong" is supposed to recruit them.

8. Ah, changing the subject to avoid uncomfortable topics where errors in policy are obvious even to a five year old. This is truly Politics Done Differently(TM). The rationale for this one is "they're all interconnected" which I'm sure in some hug-a-rainbow sense rings true to these people. It of course neglects to mention that with a strong economy by its very nature we get something most people would vaguely recognize as a "strong environment" (quick, would you rather live next to an intense oil extraction operation in Alberta or Kazakhstan? Don't everybody start learning Russian all at once!). As for health and education, they keep talking about it. A lot. Bear that in mind as we get lower down this list.

7. Stealing ideas from others has been practised quite adeptly in the 90s in North America. Welfare reform by President Cumstain in the U.S., and deficit reduction by the Shawinigan Strangler. Their primary ideological motivation for doing so, clinging onto power for dear life, is perhaps not quite the "politics done differently" angle they need to be moving towards.

6. Their third question, apparently, is "What are you grateful for living in Alberta?" The answer is simple: progressives, the useless footsoldiers of statism that so commonly infest inferior places (and by curious non-coincidence the Alberta Party) are not welcome here. Take away the glorious achievements caused by the right wing firmly entrenched here, and you've got a second rate swath of BC scenery with the economic prospects of northern Manitoba. It's the people who made us strong, every Manning/Aberhart/Klein voting one of them beautiful sum-bitches.

5. Don't be surprised to learn the Alberta Party's objection to "polarized debate" about healthcare vanishes into the aether the moment a polarized leaders debate on the 3 main TV channels is waved in their face like a steak in front of a killer whale that eats your arm off while claiming its Nature's Brutality Done Differently.(trademark pending).

4. No permanent leader. Oh, except they're working on that. So it's a strength. Except when its not, then its a weakness. If the Alberta Party ever got more than two seats and the inevitable floor crossing of one of their members took place, don't be surprised to hear how its proof the Alberta Party is thinning the herd in some sort of sick-and-weak-buffalo analogy that just goes to prove that they...well, you know how it ends.

3. Sound familiar? Every Reform MP talked about it from 1989 until 2000. Why don't you hear Reform MPs in Opposition still talking about it? Hint: its because of every part of that sentence which is no longer remotely true. I'm sure a [wait, stop: please put down any milk you're drinking before you read this next bit, we'd hate for the spray to ruin your futon. -ed]Alberta Party *snicker* Government would have no problem telling its legion *snicker* of dedicated fundraisers that hey, we finally became the majority party. Excuse us as we adjust our British Westminster Parliamentary Traditions and oh, by the way, Feynman & Coulter's Love Child will be the separatist Premier 45 minutes after we enact these.

2. "We'll be the first party that is both left wing and right wing at the same time!"? Really? Really? I'm getting sick of this. Scratch a progressive and you'll find a liberal -- which means you've stumbled across a liar. Who knew? More to the point, name a single goddamned policy or advocate in the Alberta Party who can even charitably be described as right-wing. Seriously, the last Alberta Party cheerleader I asked to name a right-wing policy brought up government subsidies for her youth outreach corporation in a way we wouldn't have to call it a government make-work program. No, seriously. Keynesian economic drivel is their farthest right policy. Any talk about privatizing healthcare or opening up more private schooling options? Go re-read #8 and remember what a full 50% of their talking is going to be comprised of.

1. "I'm not really sure, but when we get there we'll post it on our webpage." I really liked this bit the first time I heard it, in the Three Dead Trolls song British Saskatchalberta. And that, at the very least, was a triumphant call to Alberta Separatism, freeing us from the likes of the Quebec Liberals, the Ontario NDPers, and the assorted folk on the wrong side of the political spectrum.

You know, the one that the Alberta Party is firmly entrenched on.