Month: September 2011

So why the interest in IVF?


So after my first post on In-Vitro Fertilization the hits to my blog have been through the roof for me, however that has not translated into posted comments.  Instead I have received emails, many without links to blogs and the majority of them anonymous.  I will say that I have had some really nice, supportive comments from IVF supporters and like-minded Conservatives, and some not so nice comments from the other side – anti-IVF folks, what I suspect might be Liberals and general complainers. 

To the detractors, I say, go find something better to do.  I have made up my mind and since this is my blog, I choose the topic and I posted my opinions after doing a lot of research looking at all sides of this issue.  When looking at both sides of the coin the one thing that jumps out at me over and over again is the financial benefit to the Province and the taxpayers, should the government fundi this procedure.  If you can argue there are no cost savings, then please enlighten me.  If, however, you want to tell me we should not be interfering in G-d’s work, then please, don’t.

I have also had conversations with aspiring political leaders on the left and on the right and they both agree this needed to have been funded back in 2007 as the Liberals promised and that this McGuinty promise fell by the wayside with many other incentives the Liberals brought forward to get themselves elected.  It’s a very telling tale.

In discussing this post among people who have read this, I have been asked a few times why the interest in IVF, and I’ll tell you why.  I know a lot of families who have gone through IVF and I know many who were preparing to go through it.  In most of these cases it come up when we start talking about having kids and itgoes from there.  But the cost… $10,000.00 a treatment, really adds delays to the conversation.  That’s a lot of money and that amount is only the correct amount if it works the first time.  In cases we have known, couples have spent 5 or 10 times that amount in effort to have children.  They have taken loans, used up savings, by passed down payments on houses in order to grow a family.  That is dedication and I respect that a lot.  It just goes to show if you really want something bad enough, everything else is insignificant.

While IVF is not guaranteed to work 100% of the time, it does give couples hope that they will be able to conceive children of their own and in the cases I know about where the procedure did not work out as planned, the couples were that much more overjoyed when going through the adoption process (also VERY expensive, mind you).

So let’s take a step back and look at IVF, and why is it necessary?

As a refresher to those people who forgot grade 10 health class, or who may not know, women are born with around 400,00 eggs in their ovaries.  Once a month, during a woman’s regular cycle, her body produces hormones to grow and mature some of these eggs which nest in the wall of the uterus.  When these eggs are mature, ovulation occurs, and the egg(s) are ready to be fertilized by the male’s sperm.   If the egg(s) are not fertilized they disintegrate, and about 2 weeks after that, menstruation begins and the cycle restarts.  

What IVF does, is that medication is given to stimulate the ovaries to allow for many eggs to grow and mature.  Those eggs are then surgically removed once they are mature enough and they fertilize in a laboratory.  As the embryos grow, they are then placed back into the uterus in the hopes that they will implant and cause a pregnancy.  Not exactly rocket science, but a very scientific process.

So how many Ontarians are impacted by infertility issues?  Would you believe 1 in 6.

When Quebec recently introduced funding for up to three cycles of IVF to help create families.  It was found that this also helped reduce the number of multiple pregnancies in that province from 27.2% to 5.2% in just 6 months.  As a result, Quebec is now on track to save hundreds of millions of dollars as the number of twins and triplets in neonatal intensive care units is expected to drop significantly.

No surprise that Ontario could realize similar savings by providing OHIP coverage for IVF — between $400-$550 million in savings over 10 years.

So I’m still puzzled as to why we’re discussing this?!?

For more information I recommend you drop by Conceivable Dreams, http://www.conceivabledreams.org.

Conceivable Dreams, the OHIP for IVF Coalition, is the provincial voice for thousands of infertility sufferers and their supporters across Ontario. Their goal is to have OHIP coverage of IVF funded by the Ontario government as is being done in Quebec. With an election coming up right now in Ontario, now is the best time to ask all candidates where they stand on public funding of IVF.

Why Is In-Vitro Fertilization NOT an issue in the 2011 Ontario Provincial Election?


Can some please explain to me why In-Vitro Fertilization is not a major issue in this 2011 Ontario Provincial Election?

As we near the election day – the 40th general election in Ontario on October 6th, 2011 – I find many people still unaware of all the major issues, one of them being Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudek.  I really feel that the PC’s missing a great opportunity to  put pressure on the Ontario Liberal Party for an election promise they made in 2007 that they have since reneged on.  Sure, Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals are great at making promises, then not doing what they say – see taxes… Lots of new taxes, but this issue is a can’t miss win for the PC’s and I’ll explain why if you continue reading.

Let me first be clear about my intentions here.  I was approached by an organization called Conceivable Dreams, http://www.conceivabledreams.org/ asking if I would be interested in writing a couple of posts about IVF with the hopes of raising awareness and getting this on the election radar of voters and of the political parties.  Sure, the ultimate goal of getting IVF funded by the province is also in mind, but getting this out there to the electorate was the number one priority, so here it is. 

So what makes me qualified to have this discussion with you?   I have been involved in politics for as long as I can remember and as a father to 3 beautiful children who experienced stress, delays and questions surrounding childbirth, I know some things about IVF so I jumped at this opportunity to learn something new and to ask some questions that I am pretty sure have been asked by everyone else already.  I learned that it makes sense for the Province of Ontario to fund this procedure much in the same way that the Province already funds vasectomy’s and abortions. 

Ontario’s new slogan:  Want to not get pregnant?  Come to Ontario.  Want to get pregnant?  Go to Quebec.  

So in order to prepare for this post I did a LOT of research – I read a lot of opinions – saw a lot of comments and came to this conclusion;  There are 2 very distinct views on this topic.  The first view, is that the Province has no right funding this procedure.  It’s not Ontario’s fault that couple cannot conceive children, it’s G-d’s decision, so these people need to go adopt some of the millions of orphaned children in the world.  There are lots of kids available who need a good home.  Then there is the other side, the side that says parents who want children of their own, and I mean REALLY want children of their own that they are willing to find the $10,000.00 per procedure in effort to get pregnant are more than likely the kind of parents the Province of Ontario wants to have. 

So why has funding this procedure not yet come to fruition?  Probably because all we ever hear about is the $10,000.00 per procedure cost and that is a lot of money to be spent on a procedure, except when you look at the other side of the coin.  At $10,000.00 it is more common – from what I have read – for doctors to implant more than one fertilized egg, meaning there are greater chances that there will be multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.)  With multiple births, there is a greater chance for the children to be born earlier, for there to be complications to the children and with the expectant mother which in turn means a great reliance on the health care system.  Those costs FAR exceed the costs of the procedure.  In addition if the procedure were funded then doctors would not have to implant more than one embryo and with the reduction in multiple births, comes a reduction in costs to OHIP (the Ontario Health Insurance Plan). 

So now you might understand why Quebec has funded this procedure in 2010.  In Quebec they earmarked $30 million dollars for the first year of this program and expected savings of $30 million dollars in that year.  Those are crazy numbers.

So what do the detractors say?

From what I’ve read the comments are pretty down-right mean and nasty.  Very cold comments mocking parents who cannot have children, making references to G-d wanting it that way, and it’s their fault that they waited too long to have kids, or that they chose an infertile partner.  Some pretty unnecessary stuff indeed.  I can guarantee you the majority of these couples who look to IVF are not looking for an easy way out because they have tried the “natural” way and have been unsuccessful, so they want to pay $10,000.00 a shot in hopes of having a child this way.  I can also come to the conclusion that IVF is not the only treatment that these couples have tried or will try in effort to get pregnant, so don’t worry IVF-haters.  You won’t be asked to fund that too.

But all in all, I do not understand the fuss.  When an individual files for bankruptcy and their creditors are not paid all the money they are owing, who gets hit in the end?  All of us, through rising costs, and increased insurance rates.  Should I get mad because others cannot budget properly?  Or what about all those people who are not working but who have a plethora of social programs at their need.  Who funds those?  I do, through property taxes and other levies and user fees.  Should I post negative comments about people who are unable to work and how its not right for me to be paying their way?  Absolutely not!  I may comment about the city wasting money but never as it relates to those less fortunate that me.  I would never tell anyone how to live their life, how many children to have, who they can or cannot marry and what techniques they can and cannot use to get pregnant.

Step back folks, and take the emotion out of this process.  It’s not about you.  It’s about the province funding a process and saving your tax dollars and my tax dollars while helping couples become parents.

So please Tim Hudek, take this issue to debate and call Dalton McGuinty on this.  In 2007 he campaigned on this issue and now almost 5 years later they are still “investigating” this matter, in the words of Deb Matthews the Ontario Minister of Health.  Tim, take a stand, and this election is yours!  But please take it one step further and fund this procedure.  The haters will always be haters.  The parents struggling to conceive will have one less thing to worry about.

Urban Daddy’s 3rd Annual Coffee Shop Rankings – 2011


Without further delay, please enjoy reading this urban daddy’s 3rd annual coffee shop rankings for 2011.

These rankings are based on the following criteria;

1.       Taste

2.       Price

3.       Freshness

4.       Other intangibles, such as snacks, how to pay and additional perks.  

 

So sit right back with your cuppa java and let’s go!

1. Java Joe’s

2. Tim Horton’s

3. Starbucks

4. Coffee Time

5. Timothys

6. Second Cup

7. Tim Horton’s US

8. Country Style

9. Dunkin Donuts

10. Seattle’s Best Coffee

11. McDonald’s

 

So how did I come to these conclusions, you may ask???  Easily.

For value, taste and freshness, Java Joe’s is the hands down winner this year.  I have found that the flavours are fantastic whether it is their Cinnamon Hazelnut, Jamaica Me Crazy, Raspberry Chocolate, Banana Cream, Caramel, or even their Irish Cream (and I detest Irish Cream!)   Even the regular coffees they sell have some great flavour to them.I go to Java Joe’s when I want a good cup of coffee full of flavour and body.  When I just want a coffee that I can savor I put to no price on that.  As well, their containers that they use to hold the coffee after it is brewed keeps the coffee hot and does not water it down (from condensation) nor does it cause the coffee to continue brewing and therefore get bitter. If you have read this blog before, you may recall that the Java Joe’s I frequent opened up near my office and that was how I came across them.  Before Tim Horton’s finally started taking debit, I would always hit up Java Joe’s who take debit, credit, and cash.  In addition, their food (sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads) are way better than can be had at any coffee shop on this list and they also have a wonderful selection of organic teas, cold iced drinks plus the full range of hot drinks like latte’s, Americano’s, mochachinos and cappuccinos.  The staff are great and the place has cool tables and chairs, WiFi and a flat screen TV which you can watch while sitting next to the built-in fireplace.  Eat-in or eat-out.  Don’t forget the catering.

All of this makes Java Joe’s #1 on my 2011 rankings.

Tim Horton’s comes in at #2 this year for a couple of reasons.  First of all I have found that they are becoming inconsistent – a cup of coffee at one location will not taste the same as one in another location and it also varies during the time of day usually based on who is making it.  There are 4 Timmy’s within 10 blocks of my office and the one I normally go to have done something to their coffee (possibly using 2 packets of coffee for 3 pots of water) and I cannot go there again.  Secondly, their Roll up the Rim contest was very disappointing this year as I bought 2-3 coffees a day every day of the contest and barely won at all.  Yes, their addition of oatmeal gives them top marks – but you have to order it with just berries – no brown sugar powder – otherwise it’s not healthy at all, and I found they put in the sugar powder whether you ask for it or not.I do like the 3 new bagel flavours at Tim Hortons, however a blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese still gets top marks for me with my large double double.  I have not eaten anything else there since I got sick eating a bowl of their chili along with a colleague of mine who got sick as well.  A visit there won’t break the bank, and in some areas they seem to be on every block.  Sure, they rarely stir the coffee, but for $1.65 for a large… You can’t go wrong.  And where else would I be able to say, I’ll have a large double double, please”, and get a smile and a “yes sir”.

Starbucks, while pricey, and serving very strong coffee come in at number 3 mainly because of their fantastic Cafe Americano’s, which are a very smooth drink and costs slightly more than the price of a regular coffee.  At the suggestion of our friend, Mr. Real Estate Marshall Cohen, I got hooked on having the Americano with a pump of mocha (free if you have a convenience card but you have to police that as they will more often than not charge the $0.35 for that shot) and during the holidays I added a pump of mint too.  Plus, their give you a coupon for a free anything if you don’t like your drink, or waiting too long for it AND, often offer free samples.  Their oatmeal is the perfect treat for a toddler as is their cheese plate (although really pricey).  My kids love the wooden stir sticks (sticks) and the automatic doors.  It’s nice to be able to sit at Starbucks, do the Guterman.

Coffee Time actually has really good coffee with surprisingly nice flavor, more so I found than Tim Horton’s do nowadays, however the coffee must be consumed when freshly made because Coffee Time still uses the pot directly on the burner brewing so the coffee stays hot but gets stale really quickly.  They also have some very interesting treats which are not outstanding but if you are hungry and cheap, hits the spot.  I have often walked in to have a coffee there because I feel sorry they don’t do a better job getting their brand out.  When the place is busy you have a wide selection to choose from – drinks, soups, donuts, treats, muffins, but come in during a quiet period and you won’t be able to find any donuts, let alone a staff member to help you out.  Drink the coffee then, and you will understand why the low price.  I almost feel like they have lost touch with their client base and are a day, week, month or year from bankruptcy.

Timothy’s comes in at number 5 this year because I think they have found their comfortable niche in the coffee marketplace as on giant step below Starbucks for price and one giant step below Tim Horton’s for flavor but light years ahead of the Second Cup for choices of flavors and price on extras.  The flavors sold at my local Timothy’s are great and it’s busy enough that the coffee rarely gets bitter but I have always said when fresh, Timothy’s could be one of the best but their coffee is rarely fresh, a large is $2.00 and it takes 4 sugars and lots of cream to bring down the bitterness. Also they need to do is find a way to keep the coffee fresh and they’ll save a ton in other stuff.  They also need to focus on the name and stock their locations with the history.  Build the brand!

Second Cup comes in at number 6 because I hate their old, bitter coffee and stupidly high prices for this crap – but I had a coffee there today (first in months) that was half Butter Pecan (their best flavour) and half Holiday Blend.  Sure I needed 4 sugars but it was actually quite good.  They need to find a way to keep their coffee fresher – I doubt they would have the traffic to keep making new pots every 15 minutes like Tim Horton’s but they could try picking a flavour and for that specialty flavour, they will make a fresh post every 15 minutes and see what the responses from their customers are.  The other main issue Second Cup needs to address is their choice of coffees.  Normally they have 5 or 6 different types.  One decaf, one is a medium and one is a strong.  There is a mild – something like a Paradiso (whatever the heck that means) and then the flavour… I hate Irish Cream!!!  Detest it!  That is usually their one flavoured coffee and when asked why, I was told, it is because it is popular.  Probably because they don’t regularly offer their good flavors like Butter Pecan and Caramelo in high rotation – as everyone knows that flavoured coffees need less sugar and cream to mask staleness or bitterness, which means less costs.  They’re sweets are poorly chosen and to be honest I can’t eat them after piling all that sugar into my drink.The Second Cup does not take advantage of is the space they have in most of their shops which they could totally utilize to capitalize on families by offering a safe environment for kids and snacks under 5000 calories – something healthy.  Anything healthy? 

Seriously, a place for parents to take their kids after dinner to hang out and buy healthy treats might save a few locations… Better than being empty, eh?

I ranked the US version of Tim Horton’s at number 7 because an American double double tastes VERY different from the Canadian version.  As well, a large US version is the size of an XL Canadian version and a XL US version is like the size of a take ten.  But seriously, the US Tim Horton’s coffee is okay, but it’s not great.  I feel bad for Americans who hear us Canucks rave about our coffee and then have to drink that. 

Country Style comes in at number 8 because it used to have good coffee, much better than Coffee Time, but no longer.  Country Style sponsors the Toronto Rock Lacrosse team, however Tim Horton’s coffee is served at the Air Canada Centre.  There is a Country Style near my office and the 3 times I have gone there to get something, I have been disappointed every time.  The first time was for donuts – the selection was terrible – the second time was for a coffee – it was bitter and stale – and the third time was for a cold drink on a very hot day and that drink was barely adequate.  So for a chain with new colours and large, spacious locations, they need to conduct some more product testing to see what people will actually buy.  Very disappointing.

Dunkin Donuts comes in at number 9 because I heard so much about this brand from this side of the border and I was dying to try it.  So when in New York, I tried it.  Then again in New Jersey… and in Florida.  Boy do I feel sorry for Americans coffee drinkers.  This stuff is the most watered down “coffee” I have ever purchased in a chain.  Sure I can get it in super-duper large sized, but Dunkin Donuts makes the only coffee I have thrown out without finishing… Twice. 

Seattle’s Best Coffee comes in at number 10 because I have only tried it once… At Newark Airport.  I scraped together $2.00 for a cup (I believe there were only 4 “flavours”) and then after putting in a lot of sugar and cream until I could taste it, I looked at the person behind the counter and said, “If this is Seattle’s BEST, I’d hate to see their worst…”  Hey, isn’t Starbucks from Seattle?  I got through half a cup.

Last year I gave honourable mention to McDonald’s coffee which I tried that year for the first time when it was free, and then again this year when it was free.  But, can I tell you all… It’s so bad that I won’t even drink it for free.  That stuff is terrible. 

So???

What are your thoughts on my rankings??  What’s your favourite coffee?

Thursday Thirteen. 13 Things I liked about the 2011 Global Corporate Challenge.


This is my list of the 13 things that I really liked during (and after) the 2011 Global Corporate Callenge.

13. The actual Exercise – It was nice at first keeping track of my steps during a normal day, then during a day in which I went to the gym, and finally on a weekend when I took the boys for a 2-3 hour walk.  But as my numbers climbed, I found that I would walk a lot more at night, and always take the stairs, no matter where I was (see post on our holiday where were all took the kids from the 5th floor to the 12th floor numerous times a day).  Then it became routine.  Every day for 16 weeks. 

12. Losing inches – It was nice during the GCC to notice that while I was getting stronger and my endurance was up, that I was losing inches in places where I have wanted to lose inches.  A nice surprise.

11. Feeling lighter on my feet as the event went on. At first I was dragging my ass around, but the more I exercised, the easier it was to move… Funny how that works, eh?

10. Having walking meetings with my staff. It gave me an opportunity to speak with them in a neutral environment and I found they had more suggestions, some great recommendations and they were more eager to ask questions which were HR related or industry specific without the threat of having someone question them on something they should have knoen..

9. Competition – I love competition.  Once I saw that it was going to be a close race to the finish I turned it up and walked, more, exercised more and busted my ass to make sure I did the best I could and help my team win.  I’m really competitive.  REALLY. 

8. I hate to lose way more than I like to win – This challenge reinforced that I hate to lose more than I like to win. Now that the competition is over and my team came in first out of all our company’s teams in North America; 309th out of 28,249 in the world for and 6th in Canada out of 809 teams. That is all warm and fuzzy, but it’s over and I am so past it. But when we were losing… That got my ire up.

7. Saving my ass – By beating all the teams I trash talked in the early stages of the challenge, I saved my ass from ridicule and the fear of being mocked was part of my motivation to get the job done!

6. Knowing I had no choice but to walk / run / swim / cycle. With this challenge and your teammates depending on you plus the fact I was the team leader, I felt more was expected of me. With that “pressure” I had to keep moving… all the time. That meant I only went to sleep one day out of the 16 weeks before midnight because I reset my pedometer at midnight, so I used every spare minute to walk, walk and walk.

5. Being able to spend time walking and thinking about life, work, family and other things. The quiet was refreshing and it was nice to get out late at night to just walk around. When I run, I run late at night – 10:30 or 11pm, so I am used to getting out that late, but I’ve never been a fan of late night walks… Until this competition.

4. The race at the end. Since there were 4 teams really close together, I was fixated on the step entry and seeing who made personal bests, and the sort. It was a lot of stress but also a lot of fun!

3. The change to my body shape was a nice touch. My legs and torso are slimmer, my upper body more muscular and overall, I feel better.

2. Seeing all the locations on the http://www.gettheworldmoving.com site as we moved trough the course and the final drive to complete the course which we did not. Seeing that in Canada there was snow made me laugh since it was August and obviously there is NO snow here in the summer.

1. I’ve changed my ways and in addition to all the exercise I regularly do in a day (before GCC I was averaging between 12000-14000 steps without the gym, and 21000 with the gym) I find I’m more than ever walking to keep moving.

So what benefits did you find from the GCC? If you did not take part, would you enter it next year if your company took part?

So you want children, eh?


So… You really want children, eh?  I certainly did.  Now that I’m exhausted and running around every weekend taking the three of them to birthday parties, I have a different perspective on how to keep these kids from beating each other up on a daily basis.

Here are some things the kids have done in the past few days which I had to share.

The other night after Stewie went to bed, I heard music coming from Linus’ room.  I walked inside and there he was sitting on rug in the middle of his room, clock radio playing some am radio station, and his little sister Berry dancing in front of him.

“Change the station, Daddy”, he said.  “Put on something with a Rockstar” he said as he strummed his imaginary guitar. 

I put Q107 and Enter Sandman was playing .  He stood up and started dancing with his sister.  Then he got down on the floor and started break-dancing.  I was laughing but I sat down on the edge of the bed to watch.  The highlight was when he got off the floor and said to Berry, “your turn” at which point she lay down on the carpet and began breakdancing too. 

Hilarious.

The kids and I danced for a couple more songs, then we all went off to bed.

 

Tonight after having a going-to-bed snack Berry was laying on our bed with my wife.  We have developed a routine to get Berry into her crib without freaking out.  I ask her who is in her bed, and her and I name off the stuffed animals sleeping in her crib. 

Tonight as I picked her up off the bed she reached out to her arms, looked me straight in the eyes, and said to me “dumb ass”.

Still resenting that brilliant idea of mine to teach her those words.

 

This morning Linus was annoying me, our nanny and his brother – par for the course.  He had a piece of “mail” in his hand – something written on lined paper folded in four and with a sticker of the Thing on it.  I was running around trying to get him ready for school – Stewie was too sick to go but then decided he was going and I had a lot on my mind so when he tried to give me the mail, I waved him off.  I’m pretty sure he tried again but I ignored him on that too. 

Fast forward to this afternoon, I found that piece of mail in my laptop bag.  It was the letter.  I opened it up and it read;

“I love you”.

I looked at it.  I choked up.

I thought about him the whole way home and when he greated me at the door I gave him a huge hug and a kiss and told him I loved him too.

Kids…