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Remembering my diabetic cat Khan (14 Feb 2005 – 15 May 2015)

In February 2008 I adopted a three-year-old grey cat named Khan.

“My neighbour Pat is looking for a new home for her cat Khan,” my sister tells me. “I think he would be perfect for you. He’s calm, friendly and has grey fur!”

Khan relaxes on the couch.

Khan adjusts to his new home and life with Nathaniel and Housemate. This photo, taken in February 2008, was one of the first I ever took of him.

“Hmm… is he smokey grey?” I ask.

“Yes!” replies my sister.

“I’m coming right down.”

He was a West End kitty who originally belonged to a college student from Japan who was subsequently deported and unable to bring Khan, then named ニャー, with her.

He was subsequently taken in by Pat who said he was a very well-behaved cat who loved the company of humans but not other cats. Apparently he would shoulder box his feline siblings out of their food bowls.

So, Pat set out to find him a new “forever” home. A home where he could be the only cat.

When I first saw him I knew he was the right cat for me.

I was sitting on Pat’s vintage couch next to her mother as this grey behemoth weaved himself between our legs.

“He’s a nice cat,” said Pat’s mother as she stroked his forehead.

And he was.

I packed him into a grey Kennel Cab II crate, loaded him on the 135 SFU bus and brought him to my Capitol Hill apartment.

Cat carrying case

I brought Khan home in this carrying case on 14 Feb 2008.

Today marks the one year anniversary of his death.

He was the centre of my life. Every day he gave me a reason to get up in the morning, clean the house and engage with the world.

He was also a powerful rebuke against this constant voice of self-loathing that runs through my head on a loop.

His survival depended on my intervention and a bad person, I thought, wouldn’t be taking care of their housepet.

I had to feed him, brush his fur, clean his litter, do his blood work and give him his insulin injections. Whenever I performed any of these task that nagging voice dialled down to zero.

Khan and Nathaniel.

Khan and Nathaniel pose for a portrait at Sears. Taken March 2011.

Additionally, his presence seemed to lower my resting heart rate and reduce any feelings of stress or anxiety.

In June 2011 he was diagnosed with diabetes. Needles, insulin and blood tests became a routine part of his and my life.

Everything seemed to go well until May 2015 when he had a few hypoglycemic episodes. He stopped eating and drinking and his blood sugars went all over the map. After a few excruciating weeks he was gone.

I was no longer a pet owner.

It took time to adjust and re-calibrate my life and daily routines.

His early morning injections and feeding routine lingered for a some time after he died. Every morning at about 7 a.m. I would instinctively wake up to attend to his needs. In a few instances I could actually feel the thud of his body against my mattress and hear his plaintive “feed me” meow.

Some friends suggested that this was a ghostly visitation but I think it was just an example of how my mind and body adapted to his needs and routines. Even in death.

One of the hardest post-Khan task was the disposal of his supplies including his needles, blood glucose meter, food, carrying case and litter box.

Especially his litter box. He went in there to die and I just couldn’t bring myself to toss it into the dumpster as it felt too much like I was tossing him into the dumpster.

Khan's litter box.

My cat Khan died in this litterbox on 15 May 2015. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out for a few weeks.

When the garbage truck came I still wasn’t ready to let go of it so I waited another week and gently tossed it into the dumpster at about 3 a.m. when nobody was around.

People often ask if I intend to get another cat and my answer is always, “No.”

I love cats more than anything and would love to have another one. But not now.

I’d like to spend more time working on myself and addressing my own issues. Can you do that with a cat? Sure. But I guess I want to learn to how channel the love and energy that I once devoted to Khan to myself and others.

I’m making slow and steady progress.

Telus came to my building tonight

The Telus team set up a little Christmas promotion table in the lobby of my building.

The Telus team set up a little Christmas promotion table in the lobby of my building.

Earlier this afternoon the maintenance guy in my building was putting up the Christmas decorations.

“Ooh! Are you going to put up the tree today?” I asked.

“No,” he replied. “Telus needs to put up a table in the lobby this evening so I’ll wait until tomorrow.”

Apparently Telus is going into apartment buildings as part of some Christmas promotion.

“Come celebrate with us,” reads the poster. “Join us for holiday treats and give always. Learn more about Telus services available in your building.”

The Telus promotion poster that appeared in my building today.

The Telus promotion poster that appeared in my building today.

I thought that was a pretty neat. I’ve lived in this building for over 10 years and this is the first time any sort of event has taken place in the lobby.

At around 5 p.m. I wen t down there and met with the four very pleasant Telus staff people who offered me some candy and a cute Telus brand stuffed kitty. It’s cute!

The Telus folks had some stuffed kitties in a giant Santa sock. They also offered me some chocolate but I declined on account of my braces.

The Telus folks had some stuffed kitties in a giant Santa sock. They also offered me some chocolate but I declined on account of my braces.

I asked them about their promotions and a staff person named Chad let me know what was going on. He explained that I could get cheaper Internet if I switched to Telus but I quickly realized this was a decision that I’d have to make with Housemate. He deals with all the Internet stuff here.

I invited Chad up to our apartment and granted him an audience with Housemate who considered, but ultimately declined, the promotion. We are, after all, quite happy with our current Internet provider.

I want to keep my Shaw emails and I can get the account switched over to a faster speed for about what we’re paying now,” explains Housemate who just celebrated his birthday.

Chad tells me that they do this promotion at one building each day and they have have done three so far.

“It’s nice to come and talk to people here in their building and hear their feedback about our products and services,” he says. “Some people are a bit surprised to see us int heir lobby but we just try to be as friendly as we can.”

It was very nice and rather novel to meet with the Telus team in my lobby.

I thought they were all very professional, courteous and fun.

And no, this is not a promoted post or anything like that. It’s just something that went down in my building. I thought it was cool and blogworthy.

I finally got braces!

I got braces today.

I’ve wanted and needed them for as long as I can remember and now that I have them it’s a bit surreal. It’s a dream come true.
One of the first things people notice about me is the large gap between my two front teeth. My friends tell me they like my gap. “It gives my face character,” they say. “You don’t need to change a thing.”

I don’t share this opinion.

Day one of braces!

Day one of braces!

So, I called several orthodontists and eventually decided to book an appointment with Dr. Jason Gallant at Viva Orthodontics in New Westminster. They had fantastic reviews and the staff was very helpful and courteous.

I was the only adult patient on that whiteboard. The awesome turkey was drawn by Amrita, a very talented artist and dental assistant.

I was the only adult patient on that whiteboard. The awesome turkey was drawn by Amrita, a very talented artist and dental assistant.

Dr. Gallant and his team examined my mouth and determined that it’s pretty screwed up. My teeth and jaw do not align properly which causes heavy attrition and excessive grinding at night.

Without braces and jaw surgery my teeth will continue to break away into a gummy bloody mess.

Mesocephalic facial type

  • Mandibular retrognathia
  • Class II malocclusion
  • Increased overjet
  • Incisal attrition
  • Maxillary midline diastema


In addition to the braces I am also getting jaw surgery in 12 months. They’ll chop my lower jaw in half and then move it forward a bit and then fix into place with screws. The procedure is called a mandibular advancement.

Treatment will take approximately 24 months.

They gave me a care pouch with various items that will help me maintaining my braces. They also threw in a pencil!

They gave me a care pouch with various items that will help me maintaining my braces. They also threw in a pencil!

It’s been a good day.

I updated my voter information card at a mall!

The other day I received my Elections Canada Voter Information Card in the mail.

Unfortunately they got my name wrong so I went to my nearest Elections Canada office at Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby to correct the error. I just showed them my ID and they made correction on their computer without any hassle. When the update was complete they printed off a new Voter Information Card that I’ll bring to the pollls on Oct. 19.

It was a quick and painless process that took less than five minutes.

The Elections Canada office is located on the second level of the mall in the old dollar store next to Payless Shoes. My regular readers may recall that I voted there in Burnaby’s 2014 municipal election.

Elections Canada Office at Brentwood Town Centre

Elections Canada Office at Brentwood Town Centre

I got a handwritten card from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

I recently received a handwritten message of thanks from the Duchess of Cornwall.

A handwritten message from HRH the Duchess of Cornwall.

A handwritten message from HRH the Duchess of Cornwall.

I’m a big fan of Her Royal Highness and thought it would be nice to send her a birthday card. I sent an anniversary card to her and the Prince of Wales on their tenth wedding anniversary this past April. I received a very nice but unsigned card of thanks attributed to the couple in response and expected the same from my birthday card.

Members of the Royal Family receive a lot of mail and it’s unreasonable to think they read or respond everything that comes their way. But I figure they aren’t going to respond if you don’t send them something so I sent off a card with the slim hope that I might get a personal response.

And I did!

I received an A5 postcard with a photo of the Duchess at the 2015 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition taken by Thomas Alexander on the front and a message of thanks on the back.

The front of the card I received from the Duchess features a photo taken by Thomas Alexander.

The front of the card I received from the Duchess features a photo taken by Thomas Alexander.

The Duchess of Cornwall's royal monogram on the back o the envelope.

The Duchess of Cornwall’s royal monogram on the back o the envelope.

Here’s the card I sent her:

The front of my card features a photo of my prized four-piece Aynsley set which commemorates the marriage of Charles and Camilla.

The front of my card features a photo of my prized four-piece Aynsley set which commemorates the marriage of Charles and Camilla.

My well wishes to Her Royal Highness.

My well wishes to Her Royal Highness.

My birthday is at the end of June but I couldn’t be bothered to organize anything this year. I really wasn’t in the partying mood after the death of my beloved cat Khan.

By mid-July, however, I kind of turned a page and was ready to celebrate with my friends and figured that anyone who would come to a party in honour of the Duchess was a true friend. I thought it’d be nice to let her know about the party and convey the well-wishes of all attendees.

I’m absolutely thrilled and will treasure this note for the rest of my life.

How I survived the great power outage of 2015

On the weekend of Aug 29, 2015 my power went out for 15 hours as a result of major windstorm that hit southern British Columbia.

The scene near Hastings and Beta on Aug. 29.

The scene near Hastings and Beta on Aug. 29.

Many trees and power lines were knocked down and about 500,000 were left without power at some point during the day. It was pretty scary.
Fortunately I survived unscathed. In fact, it gave me a renewed appreciation for non-computer activities such as reading, listening to the radio and looking at things.

As the day progressed an inconvenience turned out to be a welcome break from my routine.

I was still asleep when the power was knocked out at around lunchtime on Saturday the 29th. “No big deal,” I thought. “It’ll probably be back on by the time I roll out of bed.”

I woke up at 2 p.m. only to discover that the power was still out so I decided to go out for a walk.

The metal railing at Fairlane Fire Prevention (4877 Hastings) was wiped out by the winds.

The metal railing at Fairlane Fire Prevention (4877 Hastings) was wiped out by the winds.

The traffic along Hastings in Burnaby seemed quite heavy for a Saturday afternoon. Many drivers and pedestrians had this lost and confused look on their face.

“This is not good,” I thought.

I thought about killing time at Value Village but nixed that idea after spotting a ridiculously overcrowded 135 Burrard Station bus.
The power seemed to be out along Hastings between Sperling and Beta Ave.

I grabbed some baked goods from Valley Bakery as well as some bananas and Diet Coke from Safeway before settling down to lunch at Yo Sushi at 4266 Hastings.

I knew I wasn’t going to have normal access to my food so I ordered some beef udon and a Diet Coke.

I ordered some beef udon soup and Diet Coke at Yo Sushi (4266 Hastings). It was good... but not as good as Osaka Sushi.

I ordered some beef udon soup and Diet Coke at Yo Sushi (4266 Hastings). It was good… but not as good as Osaka Sushi.

It was filling and appetizing but not as good as the beef udon at nearby Osaka Sushi. I should point out, however, that the owner of Yo Sushi used to give Khan free tuna sashimi whereas Osaka Sushi always charged for that.

I connected to their WiFi using my beloved Sony PRS-T1 e-book reader and got some quick BC Hydro updates from their Twitter account as their website was down.

By the evening most of my electronic devices had run out of power. My laptop died after a 15 minute game of Civilization IV and my Sansa Clip Zip Mp3 player held out for a few more hours. By 9 p.m. only my e-book reader and Dingoo A-320 handheld gaming console retained a charge.

By 10 p.m. I was a bit anxious about when power might be restored so I tuned into the radio for the first time in many years using my Dingo A-240.

I know of several news stations on the AM dial but my Dingoo A-320 only has FM radio.

This Dingoo A 320 outlasted every other rechargeable electronic device in the house.  I played some Neo Geo, SNES before tuning into the radio for weather updates.

This Dingoo A 320 outlasted every other rechargeable electronic device in the house. I played some Neo Geo, SNES before tuning into the radio for weather updates.

I couldn’t find any news broadcast; it was all music. When I tuned into the local music stations I was disappointed when the DJs failed to deliver any weather updates aside from silly anecdotes about being alone in the dark.

That was not helpful.

I eventually found CBC Radio Two with its hourly news updates.

That was helpful.

I lit six candles and placed them around the living room. I then flopped down on my very comfortable Sklar Peppler couch and listened to The Signal hosted by Laurie Brown as well as the host-free Nightstream program.

“This is nice,” I thought as I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Housemate handled this power outage well. Much better than he did during the last power outage… You can read about that here.

I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for replacing the spoiled milk on Sunday morning. Nothing else was spoiled so we’re back to normal!

All is well.

Two milk cartons

Housemate labelled the good milk as “safe” and the bad milk as “not safe.”

My cat Khan has died

My cat Khan died at home on Friday, May 15, 2015. He was 10-years-old.

Rest in peace, Khan.

He had been very ill for the past six weeks and couldn’t hold on any longer.

At around 11:30 a.m. Housemate found him curled up in his litter box.

“I’ve never seen him do this before,” he exclaimed. “Something is wrong!”

I rushed over and noticed he was shaking uncontrollably. I quickly grabbed his medical kit from the cabinet and called his name twice. No response. Even when he was sick he would respond to his name with at least a twitch from his tail.

I checked for his pulse. I thought I found it, but I was feeling my own. His was gone.

“I think Khan has died,” I exclaimed.

I reached down to pick him up. He was still warm but totally limp. He was gone.

Khan and I in March, 2011.

I spread out his favourite blanket on the dining room table and set him down. I noticed he had some litter in his fur and a bit of food still on his mouth so I cleaned him up with some baby wipes.

“I’ll leave you alone for a bit,” said Housemate. “Let me know when you’re ready to take him to the vet and I’ll drive you there.”

Khan had been to the vet three times in the past six weeks.

His decline was rapid and alarming.

In early April he stopped eating his dry food and by the end I had to feed him through an oral syringe. He lost over two kilograms, became incredibly weak and eventually stopped meowing. He had had a tooth infection as well as an instance of severe hypoglycemia and I guess everything just sort of snow-balled.

I tried but failed to save him.

We now had to bring him to the vet who would, in turn, dispose of his remains.

“We will go after I have had my tea,” I told Housemate. “I just need a few more minutes with him.”

I sat with Khan and gently pet his brow as I slowly drank tea from one of the heavy Corelle mugs that Housemate’s father gave him a few months ago.

After half an hour Housemate discreetly emerged from his room to check up on me.

My cup was about one-third full and the tea still warm.

“I’m not ready to go,” I said looking down at my mug. “I’m not done my tea yet.”

When I eventually finished I wrapped Khan up in his blanket and held him close to my chest.

We drove to Hastings Veterinary Hospital where he had been the previous day. I handed him to one of the staff people who took him into the examination area out of sight to confirm, for certain, what I already knew.

Hastings Veterinary Hospital in North Burnaby.

I then gave Khan’s blood-glucose meter and test strips to another staff person at the front desk.

“Maybe you can give this to another pet owner who needs…” I began. At this point I broke down and cried. “That’s very generous of you” she replied.

The first staff person emerged from the back area and confirmed in the kindest possible terms that Khan was no more.

I now had to deal with the unpleasant task of his final disposal.

I was given the option of a private cremation in which I would receive Khan’s ashes, or the less expensive communal cremation where he would be cremated with more than one animal and his ashes would not be returned to me.

I opted for the second choice which cost $57.

Khan at the vet’s office on May 14, 2015. This would be the last photo I took of him.

The staff person then placed Khan, who was still wrapped in his blanket, on an examination table so I could say my final goodbye.

I noticed the blanket was a bit messed up so I gently flattened out the folds and tucked him in snugly.

I kissed him on the forehead.

“Goodbye Khan,” I said. “You were a good a cat.”

My Charles and Camilla china collection

I have always liked the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall so I’m happy to note that today marks their tenth wedding anniversary.

In 2005 I sent them my best wishes for a long and happy marriage and today I repeat and renew that greeting in this blog post, in a card I mailed to them and some new additions to my china collection.

To me their marriage and continued happiness is an example of triumph over adversity. To me, it’s a reminder that life can, and does, get better and I thought it would be an vice idea to buy some china that commemorates their 2005 wedding.

I sent this card to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall! The photo was taken during their 2009 visit to British Columbia.”

Earlier this year I decided that Aynsley’s four-piece collection which is made of bone china with 22 carat gold detailing was the best choice. I think it’s the most dignified, tasteful and attractive option.

A lot of royal commemorative china is just straight-up tacky. But these four pieces – which form a complete set – will be a grand addition to my collection.

This set includes: a tankard, a commemorative plate, a twin-handled “loving cup” and a small pin dish and I look forward to the day when I can prominently display the complete collection in one of my china cabinets.

The set lists April 8 as the wedding date. Initially they were supposed to get married on April 8 but on April 4, 2005 they postponed the wedding until April 9 so that the Prince of Wales could attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

Aynsley Charles and Camilla commemorative loving cup. It reads, “To Commemorate the Wedding of H.R.H. Charles Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles April 8th 2005”

Aynsley Charles and Camilla commemorative plate. It reads, “To Commemorate the Wedding of H.R.H. Charles Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles April 8th 2005” Photo by Geordie Clarke.

Aynsley Charles and Camilla commemorative tankard (front). Photo by Geordie Clarke.

In recent months I’ve purchased three of the four items. Unfortunately someone outbid me by £0.50 on the pin dish and I haven’t seen another surface on eBay since. The loving cup was sent directly from the eBay merchant to my address here in Burnaby.

To save on shipping I had the plate and tankard sent to my friend Geordie who lives with his awesome Lady Friend in some borough of London that I’ve never heard of. Geordie’s kindly agreed to mail them to me the china at a future date. In the meantime he’s supplied me with some lovely pictures of the items.

I bought this commemorative plate a few years ago. It was made by Wedgwood for the Daily Mail. It’s not as nice as the Aynsley set.

A TransLink lost and found success story

I love living in Burnaby.

For starters I know that if I leave something on the bus or in the library there’s a good chance it will be returned to me. I’ve lived in Burnaby for almost 10 years now and in that time I’ve recovered about 90 per cent of my lost or misplaced items thanks to the honesty of strangers.

I was reminded of this last week when I lost and subsequently found three CDs and my Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500.

Due West Vancouver Chamber Choir (Performer), Stephen Chatman (Composer)

Due West Vancouver Chamber Choir (Performer), Stephen Chatman (Composer)

Holst: The Planets. The Toronto Symphony (Performer), Gustav Holst (Composer)

Holst: The Planets. The Toronto Symphony (Performer), Gustav Holst (Composer)

Labour Day. Spirit of the West (artist).

Labour Day. Spirit of the West (artist).

A few Thursdays ago I left a bag of groceries from No Frills and three CDs that I purchased at Value Village on the 135 SFU bus. I was carrying more than I normally would and my brain just didn’t register that I had a third bag when I got off at my stop.

The food in the bag was all perishable: roast beef and some vegetables for a stew I planned to make.
It took me about 15 minutes to realize that my grocery bag was missing so I immediately called TransLink’s lost and found hotline. The person on the other end of the line advised me that the bus I took was likely coming back down from SFU at that point in time. So, I ran out to the bus stop and checked the next six 135 buses for my stuff. No luck.

I did not have roast beef stew that night.

I figured that that the groceries were likely a write-off at this point but held out hope that my CDs could be reclaimed.

I’ve gone to thrift stores at least once a week for as long as I remember and it’s fair to say that it’s a part of my wellness routine. I especially love buying CDs and records by Canadian artists and composers and I kind of hit a gold mine when I found three quality Canadian titles.

The CDs only cost me $6.69. Although I was bummed I had a feeling that I would probably see them again.

And I was right!

TransLink Lost Property Office at Stadium–Chinatown Station

TransLink Lost Property Office at Stadium–Chinatown Station

On Monday afternoon I received a call from the TransLink Lost Property Office who happily informed me that my CDs had been returned! They noted the food had “gone off,” however. But that was okay. The food was a lot easier to replace than my precious CDs!

A few days later I paid a visit to the Lost Property Office at Stadium–Chinatown Station. A clerk had me sign something and then handed me my CDs which were still in the same sturdy yellow No Frills bag. w00t!

Shortly after I left the Lost Property Office I noticed that I was missing yet another item: my white Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500. Argh!

Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500

My prized white Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 in the packaging. Yup! I still have that!

I normally use it with my Sony Vaio UX 380N when I’m doing research at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch or Simon Fraser University’s Bennett Library. It wasn’t anywhere in my apartment and the only time I take it out of my backpack is when I’m settled down to do hours of research. It had to be in one of those libraries!

When I went up to SFU to do my weekly research I stopped by the security office to see if anyone had turned in my beloved mouse. The nice young lady at the counter asked me for a description and I told her that it was a white Microsoft mobile mouse.

My prized Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500

My prized Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500

“We do have a black and white mouse.” she said as she dug through a huge drawer of computer peripherals. “Yes!” I exclaim. “If it’s missing its USB Nano Transceiver then that’s my mouse!” Although I lost the mouse I still had the transceiver in my backpack. I promptly retrieved it and snapped it back into the mouse with great aplomb. “This is it! You found my mouse!”

It was a glorious moment.

Oh! Also, apparently Amazon’s weird pricing algorithm thinks that one of the CDs I bought is quite valuable:

Due West on Amazon.ca

Due West on Amazon.ca

Anyways, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the folks at TransLink, SFU campus security and whoever else was responsible for making sure I got my items back.

I voted in a mall!

I like voting. It’s a fun, easy and affordable way to participate in the democratic process.

And it just got a lot easier here in Burnaby ‘cause we get to vote at the mall!

I’ll be out of province on municipal election day (Nov 15) so I voted in an advance poll at Brentwood Town Centre on Nov 1. Advance polls will also be open on Nov 5 and Nov 8 at Brentwood Town Centre, Metropolis at Metrotown, Lougheed Town Centre, Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and Edmonds Community Centre.

I have only ever voted in a school, community centre or church. These are places that I wouldn’t otherwise go to. This year, however, it really felt like the election came to me as I was able to cast my vote while I was doing my weekly Brentwood shop.

Aside from the novel location it was just like every other municipal election. I presented my voting card to the poll clerk who handed me a ballot. I marked and cast my ballot and then went on with my day. The entire process took less than two minutes.
It was easy and convenient.

The location used to be an Athlete’s World shoe store where I bought my current runners in 2012.

I also got this fun purple sticker which I placed on Khan:

Sadly, cats are not eligible to vote in this election. That being said, I think Khan’s vote does count – especially when tuna is on the ballot.

For more info on the election check out the City of Burnaby’s election page.