“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

a smokefree world

World Smokefree day is May 31. If you are a smoker, please consider ending this disgusting habit. I work at the hospital, and the entire grounds are smokefree. People frequently go to smoke at the street corner entry of the hospital, right by the front entrance. As you can see from the photos, the result of this policy is a nasty mess of of discarded cigarette butts. I don't know why people refuse to pick them up and put them in a trash can. And I also don't understand why the hospital allows this trash to persist. There are numerous posts and signs saying "smokefree", and yet I still see people smoking on the grounds. As a hospital employee, if I were a smoker wanting to quit, I could get the nicotine quit patches at a deeply discounted rate. Smoking in New Zealand varyies by ethnicity and socioeconomic group. From Cancer Society New Zealand:

Lung cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Maori males and the second most common among Maori females during 1996-2001. It was the leading cause of cancer death among Maori males and females. On average, 240 Maori were diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and 228 Maori died from this disease. The incidence of lung cancer among maori was over three times that of non-maori. Maori men had the highest rates, followed by Maori women. (Wellington School of Medical and Health Sciences, 2006)
Maori lung cancer mortality rates are three times higher than non-Maori rates (Ministry of Health, 2003a)
An estimated 31% of Maori deaths are attributable to tobacco smoking (Laugesen, 1998)
At least one-third of the shorter life expectancy of those living in the most deprived areas is accounted for by smoking (Ministry of Health. 2001)
There are considerable ethnic differences in smoking rates with Maori (Male: 39.5%, Female: 47.6%) and Pacific Peoples (Male: 32.0%, Female: 22.4%) considerably more likely to smoke than European New Zealanders (Male: 22.6, Female: 19.5%) (Ministry of Health, 2005)
There are considerable socio-economic differences in smoking rates with beneficiaries (Male: 46.3%, Female: 47%) and blue collar workers (Male: 32.9%, Female: 33%) are considerably more likely to smoke than white collar workers (Male: 18.9%, Female: 20.2%) (Ministry of Health, 2005)

This is why the government started putting these gross photos on all the cigarette packs, in both English and Maori. According to this article, it appears to be increasing the number of calls to the Quitline.

Actually the one on the right looks to be a man's belly- weird. For the record, I found these two packs lying on the ground and picked them up. Into the trash now. I expect that NZ is soon going to outlaw the display of cigarettes. Check out this article for more details.

I'm really happy with the NZ government for making the Morning After Pill, or emergency contraception, available in Auckland for free on a trial basis. NZ has a high teen pregnancy level, and they are testing this strategy as a means to lower that level. Of course a woman of any age can take advantage of this. They don't even need to see a doctor, they just go see the pharmacist and ask for it.

The farm drive got put in on Tuesday this week. There's going to be gravel put on it eventually.

Our friends Adam and Roberta had a Cinco de Mayo party a couple weeks ago, and last week was our friends Shane and Vicki's curry cookoff. There were about 6 different curries there, including goat. My contribution was Thai red curry (made from scratch) with snapper. In the blind voting, I won the prize for best curry, a yellow stuffed mouse toy. Now I have to host the next cookoff, and have chosen chili. We'll have to recycle this award.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Give me the bad news first

Do I see a silver lining?
In my last post, I described my attempt to get Thyro-tabs into New Zealand for my dog. I called the ACVM contact person to see if they’d received the Application for Approval to Import a Veterinary Medicine I sent two weeks ago. The person called back and told me that the decision was mailed this week. I have a feeling of doom now, based on the lack of communication on the phone. If it were good news, wouldn’t they just tell me? To be fair, my question was answered and that should be enough. I will have the answer to my Application for Approval to Import a Veterinary Medicine by early next week. If it fails, this ordeal will have cost me about $200 dollars. And I will have to continue to pay $119 every 83 days to give my dog 12 pills a day for the rest of his life. Groan.
This feeling of gloom may be due to the recent consultation with my dentist. I was really bummed out to learn I have a cracked tooth. The dentist will clean the teeth, fix the cracked tooth with a partial crown, remove the other amalgam fillings with decay around them, laser out the bacteria, and fill in the holes with Cerec. The cost for this work is estimated to be $3800, and I’ve paid $200 for the diagnostic pictures and consultation already. There is no dental insurance coverage in New Zealand, so I’m absolutely floored by the cost. On the other hand, I really want to get my teeth fixed, and ultimately, $4000 is not that much when you consider it over the next 30 years. I get horribly stressed when going to the dentist for a cleaning, because of sensitivity. This dentist will do all the work in one sitting (3-4 hrs) and give me a benzodiazepine and halcyon prior to extensive dental work to relax me and give me a short-term memory loss, so I feel that he is rather considerate and kind. Also, this dentist is recognized as one of the best in his field. Still, this is a large, unexpected sum that means dramatic cutbacks in spending.
I have lots of opportunities to spend money this winter on things much more fun than dental work. My niece from Minnesota is visiting for 2 months, and a getaway to Wellington, the International Film Festival, and my birthday are all on the agenda in July. Our old house needs the roof replaced.

So that's enough whinging, I do have some good news. Today our vet called to tell us the application to import Fargo's thyroid medication was APPROVED!! Darin picked up the paperwork from the vet's office and is going to the MAF office at the airport tomorrow to pick it up. I had convinced myself that my try would fail. Wow, that was a learning experience. Now I will have to get a nice little present for my vet, Dr. Doogle at Swanson Road Vet, because I couldn't have done this without his help.
Darin finished his Dayskipper practical course. There was challenging weather, and uncomfortable sleeping conditions, so he was glad to come home to his own bed.
Last weekend, I took a free course on making compost. Rob, our teacher, has an organic orchard and garden in Riverhead, near Kumeu, north about 20 min. from our home. Here's a photo of what we piled into the 3-sided space to make "hot" compost. Ingredients included paper egg cartons, newspaper, wood chips, canna lily stalks, cow manure, hay and chicken poop from the henhouse, grass clippings, several wheelbarrows full of cold compost, and comfrey (the leaves on top). I came home enthused about compost and went to work on improving mine. My effort was half-assed, because I don't have the proper 1 meter square minimum space. We also learned about Bokashi, which seems like less work than worm farming, and could be utilized by every household in any climate.

The above photo shows Rob digging into the delicious plant food.