Thursday, October 24, 2013
As much as I am looking forward to the second part, I am unsure about the first part. my siblings have been arguing about Dad's care and some of them are not even speaking to each other. It's been almost 20 months since I saw my father last, and and I know that occasionally he does not recognize my sisters who are around him frequently. I fully expect him to not recognize me but it still makes me feel weird. Almost like I am walking into something foggy, grey and not at all familiar.
This has resulted in short nights of sleep, waking up and not being able to go back to sleep and weird dreams about loss, death and sadness. I get it is all related, logically I see the dotted lines and connections but it's still unfamiliar to me.
All of that is running tandem with some other stuff that is equally as stressful, and yes I am intentionally being vague right now but I just can't really talk about it yet. Nothing horrible, just stressful. I'm just looking forward to getting to the end of next week and maybe, finally relaxing a bit.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Citybanan Open House, a set on Flickr.
Here in Sweden, major transit and infrastructure projects are managed by the Swedish Transport Administration, Trafikverket. In their own words;"The Swedish Transport Administration is responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of all state owned roads and railways. We also develop long-term plans for the transport system on road, railway, sea and flight."
What this means is that regardless of what city or municipality, they run the show. Because of this it seems that infrastructure ACTUALLY IS BUILT AND MAINTAINED. Wow, what a concept! One of the projects currently under way is to relive some of the traffic on the two railway tracks that run out of Central Stockholm, moving South. Currently all traffic running South must use these 2 tracks, including commuter rail. The Citybanan will shift the commuter rail traffic off of these two older tracks allowing for increased inter-city rail traffic.
Though the track will be only 6km long, it is all underground. Today Trafikverket held an Open House and invited the public to come tour parts of the tunnel as well as see the sections of the "underwater bridge" that were sunk over the summer and connected in order to cross the body of water Riddarfjärden. We could see them but not get to them, though it was pretty cool as I had watched two of the sections be submerged over the summer.
I'm stoked that I got to see this. I wish North American would do things like the open house events we have been to here in Sweden. It gives taxpayers a better idea of what is being done, how it is done and what their tax dollars are being used for.
Anyway here is a link to the pics I took today. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Okay it sounds worse than it really is, but I'm just kind of numb. I have been pretty quiet for the past several months on this here bloggy thing, and the main reason is that there is a lot going on with my family back in the states. My father has been through a series of health related issues, all exacerbated but the fact that he has dementia, and the dementia is of course getting worse, not better.
This comes as no surprise to me that dementia worsens as people who already suffer from it age. My Dad just turned 91 two weeks ago, and the thing that gets to me is that he is literally trapped in his own mind most of the time. I will be going home to see him in the next few weeks. I am somewhat worried about seeing Dad and wondering if he will remember me, though I am more worried about dealing with sibling drama. I won't get into details but there is a lot of crap going on between my sisters (note: I am the youngest of 7 kids, 5 sisters and 1 brother) and I really want to avoid it if I can.
Another thing that has been on my mind a lot through all of this is what will happen to us? Carl and I are both the youngest kids in our families, and we have no children. What will happen to us when we get older? There is no one to take care of us if we need it. What happens if dementia effects one or both of us? This is an unknown that concerns me and will require a lot of thought and research as to what is possible and what isn't. One thing is for sure; we can't be the only people in this situation.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
As some of you may know, the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO), of which my husband, along with more than a thousand Canadian Foreign Service Officers, is a member, has been without a work contract since July 1st, 2011. The negotiations which were to lead to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) broke down earlier this winter and, in March, PAFSO's membership gave a resounding mandate to their union for labor action to begin. Since April 2nd PAFSO has been in a legal position to strike and has judiciously used this job action mandate to demonstrate the importance of a quality Foreign Service for Canada, its economy and prosperity, and its foreign policy and immigration objectives to the Employer and to Canadians.
The one outstanding issue has to do with pay comparability between the Foreign Service (FS) group and other Public Service professional groups such as Commerce Officers (CO), Economists (EC) and Lawyers (LA). Over the last several years, due to various reorganizations and restructurings within the Departments where FS are employed, numerous positions have been either reclassified as being open to FSs, COs, ESs and / or LAs, created outright as being available to members of those various employment groups, or just more or less randomly staffed with employees of any and all of these groups. It is important to note that job classification is an administrative process based on rigid civil service rules – these equivalencies were not pulled out of a hat. They do, however, provide much-desired (from management's standpoint) flexibility for staffing. Employees of these other groups benefit from this unstated equivalence when they are assigned to postings outside of Canada, in positions that are classified FS.
To PAFSO, these equivalencies mean that FSs, COs, ECs and LAs are, well, equivalent. Therefore we seek to have our pay scales adjusted to reflect that fact – as employees of the latter three groups receive higher salaries, at levels deemed equivalent by the Employer, than FS employees. Said adjustment has been estimated to cost $4.2M over the course of the duration of the CBA currently under negotiation, or about 1.5% of the total pay envelope for the FS group. In the meantime the economic impact of PAFSO's job action has already been estimated by the industry to have reached $280M *in the tourism sector alone* for *this summer*. Already some Canadian universities have to scramble to readjust their orientation weeks as their international students will more than likely not receive that student authorizations and (if required) visas in time to arrive for the beginning of the school year.
Last week PAFSO offered to the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) to go into binding arbitration to finally put an end to this dispute. TBS's president, Minister Tony Clement, replied that the TBS would accept arbitration provided PAFSO agreed to various conditions. It turns out that one of the conditions to which the TBS wanted PAFSO to agree was for the arbitration board to be instructed to *not* take into account the salary scales of the CO, EC and LA groups (basically to disregard key provisions of the Public Service Labor Relations Act). All the while the Employer maintains that it is negotiating "in good faith" and that is has tabled a "fair and just offer". You will understand that PAFSO refused this condition. Hence, there will be no arbitration board and the labor conflict continues.
If you have made it this far, thank you. If you are Canadian, please write to Tony Clement at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him at @TonyclementCPC as well as your MP. Let Minister Clement and your MP know that you want the Government to treat its Foreign Service fairly and equitably. Let him know what you think of wasting hundreds of millions of dollars to save $4.2M. Let him know that unfairness, pettiness and arbitrariness are not Canadian values.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Please read this OpEd piece from this past Sunday by Harvey Fierstein regarding Russia's crackdown on GLBTQ rights and the upcoming Olympic Games. #BoycottSochi2014
As Mr. Fierstein writes; "In 1936 the world attended the Olympics in Germany. Few participants said a word about Hitler’s campaign against the Jews. Supporters of that decision point proudly to the triumph of Jesse Owens, while I point with dread to the Holocaust and world war. There is a price for tolerating intolerance."