Sunday, August 20, 2017

After Six Years Away.....Back to the Truth

I have been away from my blog for six years now.  I don't know why I let my writing go to the wayside.  I wish I hadn't.  There is so much going on in the world every day with so much subject matter and many great blogs to write.  A way of tracking history and events affecting the world.  That is why I am deciding to jump back on the blog train. 

Writing for me and many others is a way to express opinions and clear the mind.  For me, so many thoughts swirl around in my head and my absence of writing has created a spillover of thoughts that need to be purged.  Hopefully, I will be able to put together the many puzzle piece words and ideas in my mind to create my story articulately each time I write a blog post.

I'm sure there will be differences of opinions with me and many of you.  That's okay.  It makes life more interesting that way.  I will always avoid being mean.  I expect the same in return.  You can be honest and truthful without being mean you know.  Agree or disagree all you want.  Just do it intelligently and avoid the insults and name calling.  Some people think others are being mean just because they are telling the truth.  The truth hurts sometimes yes, but why wouldn't you want to know the truth?  The truth shall set you free!  Sorry if you are someone who can't handle the truth.  That's on you, and you alone, not on me or anyone else.

Remember, opinions are always just opinions.  Don't mistake other opinions for your own.  Do your own research and make your own decision of opinion based on the facts and the truth.  It is somehow liberating to form an opinion that way.  Searching out the truth can be tricky sometimes too.  Why did I just say that?  Well...

Don't equate fact or opinion with emotions either.  They are again totally different things that so many people are now quite confused about.  All of a sudden, hurt feelings and not liking someone or something are reasons why the rest of the population must avoid telling the truth and things must be censored, hidden and removed.  Wait a minute, what?

Looking forward to the research and thought I am about to engage in and then unleash into writing in my coming posts. 

Feels good to be going back to writing again. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Fundraiser's Dream

Michael Douglas

The foundation at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal definitely has something to celebrate. They are holding a gala that has Michael Douglas as a keynote guest and speaker.  How many hospitals will be able to tout this epic tale?  I can just imagine the awe in the air in the halls of Jewish General Hospital. Douglas will be attending with his star struck wife Catherine Zeta-Jones. 

Douglas is so grateful to the Montreal hospital staff for detecting his throat cancer and he wants to give back by volunteering to be a headliner at their upcoming gala.  Douglas has agreed to also participate in a pre-gala meet and greet that will give donors an opportunity to rub shoulder to shoulder with the Hollywood couple.

I will be waiting to hear how much money is raised through this high profile event.  One of the auction items up for bid - a round of golf with Douglas and Zeta-Jones at a club near their vacation home in Montreal. 

Having Douglas and Zeta-Jones attend this event is a blessing and Jewish General Hospital is very fortunate. Opportunities like this are rare and almost never come free.  This is truly a fundraiser's dream and I'm sure will be a hot topic in the health care community in Montreal for a long time to come.

Kudos to the staff of Jewish General Hospital for diligently detecting the cancer in Douglas' throat that many health care professionals had previously missed and to Douglas and Zeta-Jones for giving back. 

I wish I could attend this prestigious event. Or better yet, be able to add this event to my event management list on my resume.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Japan Then and Now

White Water Rafting on the Tone River
(Nancy, Chris, Alistair and me)
In 2002, I had the absolute pleasure of making a journey to Japan.  My destina-tion was Gunma in a town called Mae-bashi and my main reason for the visit was my niece who was teaching English for the JET program.

It was June 2, 2002 when my plane was set to leave Toronto, Ontario and would fly me direct to Narita airport in Tokyo.  My journey would take me to the next day and would last a total of approximately 28 hours.

I spent two and a half weeks in Japan and was fortunate to visit many different areas including: Tokyo Disneyland, white water rafting in Gunma's mountainous region on the Tone River, Takasaki and a mini vacation to Okinawa.

Karaoke was one the most enjoyable experiences of my trip. In Japan you can pay a flat rate to rent a karaoke room with just your friends.  Also included in the flat rate was all the alcohol you could drink.  In the room you have retro type couches, tables, TV, karaoke machine, microphone, tambourine, song listings book, a remote to type in the code for the song and a telephone handy to call up your bartender to order another round.  Who couldn't find fun with that list of goodies?  The group I went with sure enjoyed the goodies to their full extent.

When in Okinawa, I heard someone say it was Japan's Hawaii.  The weather was parallel and the fresh fruit was any person's dream.  I became a lover of pineapple while there.  The hotel we stayed at was right on the beach.  I swam in the Pacific ocean for the first time in my life.  I bought Shisha's while I was there.  These are lion like creatures that will protect your house from evil spirits.  You are supposed to place them close and face them toward the door of your house.

Disneyland Tokyo was exactly like Disney World in Fort Lauderdale Florida.  I've been to both now and feel that Tokyo is more scenic with the unique trees and plants.  The rides were the same with the exception that everything was spoken in Japanese because most of the people there were in fact Japanese. 

White water rafting on the Tone River was a first experience for me and what a first experience it was.  While jumping off a cliff, my niece's husband lost his grip on the guides life rope.  Moving quickly into rescue mode, we all jumped into the Tone River to chase him down the river.  The current was so strong in that river, but we were all able to catch him and the raft.  I never knew I could swim like that.  We all high-fived with our paddles when we knew we were all safe and sound inside the raft again.  That is a day I will never forget.

Dickens Pub was the place to watch World Cup Soccer and eat English style fish and chips.  That was a place we frequented along with a place called TKO.  I believe that stood for Total Knock Out - the guy was a boxing fan.  His name was Sho and he was a gracious soul.

Getting lost in Japan was also an unforgettable experience.  Not knowing enough Japanese to get me further than to the taxi place to get to the train station was quite a challenge.  When I realized I had spent all my taxi fare the night before, walking home was even better.  Many people tried to help me but our language barrier was too great.  I ended up trying to play charades with a Japanese couple in an effort to find a land mark that happened to be a bird symbol.  It was funny when the Japanese couple came back to tell me I was close to the bird.  They were pointing and flapping their arms as a bird its wings to covey to me that I was near my destination.  Just a really hilarious moment that I remember.  I instinctently followed the train tracks and once I found the train station, I was able to find my way to the apartment just fine.  I made it safely and it only took about an hour and a half.  Another experience I won't forget.

The bullet train was just like the name suggests.  The regular train was fast enough but the bullet train made it seem slow.  The bullet train travels at about 185 miles per hour.  It was impossible to take a picture out of the window.

Snacks on the regular train were funny: teeny shrimp, slivers of almonds, tiny fish with eyes and odorless garlic and sweet potato.  Some other things I noticed were: the carrots were gigantic, tomatoes were small and the bread was delicious.  They had the most humongous roses ever and can preserve them to be as perfect as the day they bloomed.

I found the people in Japan friendly, hard working and honest; and the energy I felt while there was incredible.  I believe that because of the high level of energy I felt, my jet lag wasn't so severe.  The sun came up at four in the morning.

I am sad over the recent events in Japan with the earthquake and tsunami along with the nuclear disaster that happened March 11, 2011.  The area that I visited didn't receive the extreme tragic events that northern regions like Sendai has.  My heart and prayers are with the people of Japan for both their human and physical loss. The Japanese people should be given accolades for handling such a horrible situation with such grace.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Farmer's and their Green Thumb


I grew up as a farm kid and worked many years on the land.  I'm not going to say it was an easy life because it was hard work, but at the end of the day when the crops were harvested, it was a time for celebration and rest.  County living is spectacular and views are breathtaking and invokes peace.  This is soon to become a distant memory.  Good things rarely grow in Ontario anymore.

Government has taken the farm life away simply by not supporting it.  They have ruined farming in Ontario.  It is a shame that our once diverse market has turned to virtually non-existent.  Our premier does not believe in rural Ontario.  He has proven this time and time again.  His green initiative is the icing on the cake.  Soon our beautiful land will be covered with solar panels and wind turbines.  Our breathtaking views will be scathed and gone forever.

I have a problem with prime farm land being used for wind and solar projects. Any farmer who allows his land to be ruined by these projects should give up the right to be called a farmer. A true farmer grows product that feeds mouths not transmission lines. It sickens me that there are people who are starving in this world and we are using prime land for this experimental, trendy green initiative.

When these solar panels and wind turbines are worn out and the developers are long gone, who will de-comission them?  The farmer better not be crying when the responsibility falls upon him.  He better not cry because his land is no longer fit for growing crops.  I don't want to hear about it.  In my mind, the day he allowed these monstrous turbines and panels to be installed on his land, he lost the right to be called a farmer.

Can someone tell me why our Ontario government is forging into this initiative without even thinking about the economic repercussions?  Ratepayers are strapped month to month and the worst of the costs have not even begun to hit their peak.  Jobs are scarce and government continues to dictate what is good for us.  They manipulate information and increasingly take more and more of our livelihood.  The goal is to be a leader in green energy initiatives.  This will be a burden that will sit on the taxpayers backs for years to come.

Everywhere I turn, I hear about green energy.  Green energy is viral, it doesn't matter what website I click on, what paper I pick up to read or what news program I choose to watch, I cannot escape green energy.  Anything that has to have such hard sell to it, makes me want to run away.  There is something seriously wrong here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

On Guard - Enjoying the Proverbial Pie

Picture captured from:

Being on guard is becoming such a necessary action in this day and age. If you follow media closely and think about it, you will discover that there are red flags popping up everywhere. If you were to look at life as a proverbial pie, you would quickly be able to put in perspective that most of that pie is not yours. Where do you see most of that pie being enjoyed? I would have to take it a step further. Look at the times. I’ve talked about big business before and how they are choking society as a whole. The government is guilty of taking more and more from taxpayers. We are recovering from a mini economic meltdown in Canada more notably in the US and other parts of the world and it is true that most are feeling the need to scale back. Problem is – recovery from debt is difficult for many. The rising costs of living and trying to pay off existing debt is stressful and is almost impossible to achieve.  Governments continue to spend money when they too should be scaling back.

The world is full of pie takers. If you are a taxpayer and hard working individual, how could you not notice how the organizations and companies that you invest your monthly salary in are trying to take more and more of it? Contracts that are being negotiated between management and unions are becoming more and more difficult. As necessary items for life become more expensive, the companies we work for are trying very hard not to increase our means to pay for these necessaries.  People who are highly educated are working for minimum to medium wage because the high paying jobs are few and far between.  It is sad that a nation deeply committed to diplomacy doesn't support the jobs to go with it.

The battle will continue on and undoubtedly the backs of average citizens will become more broken. We have to stand up for what is rightfully ours - freedom to live life without oppression and sacrifice. Truthfully, if you compared Canada and US to other parts of the world, we would fare out much better and could almost feel guilty for complaining because we really truly don’t know what it is to be poor. We do however, know how it is to crave and give in to the impulses to gather material items. This is what gets so much of us in trouble. There are necessaries and there are luxuries.

We are lucky enough to live in democracy. Although, there is always cause to be on guard as this can turn opposite over time. Much in the way the government spends our money and tells us how to live. There is a little bit of that existing here in our country. We are taxed to the max and seem to just take it. The wages aren’t going up as much as the prices of everything. We are led to believe that it is good for us and it is necessary.

The revolution in Egypt that has been happening for the last 12 days is something to draw attention to. This is a heavily populated Arab county that has been under oppressive conditions for at least 30 years.  Generations young and old is becoming more and more aware of the possibilities of living a free life and are standing up and saying – ENOUGH! It is wonderful. Not wonderful that some have to die in the process; but that the outcome will be liberating and will unleash the souls of these people who have lived in a coerced environment for so long. They want their ruler to surrender his post and take his hand off of Egypt and its people.  President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak is struggling with that decision and does not want to let go.  In 1989, the Chinese Tiananmen Square protests did not end well.  They wanted a democracy and instead the army slaughtered thousands of protesters.

Burt Bacharach composed a song in 1965 called "What the World Needs Now" describing what is missing in the world.  “What the world needs now is love sweet love. It’s the only thing, that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love sweet love. Not just for some, but for everyone.”

If the outcome in Egypt is indeed liberation (and we are all hoping for that), I can see this becoming a trend in all nations. There will be more uprising that won't come easy, but the final outcome will be a peaceful one. I vote for a reprieve and a chance for everyone to afford to eat, stay warm, have a roof overhead, clothes to wear, access to health care and have some left over to spoil themselves with, for whatever makes them happy.

The fact that we all need to stay on guard remains true. The key is to prevent government and corporation from taking too much of our proverbial pie. People grow tired of getting nothing but the crumbs.  Keep your eyes, mind and heart open. There are going to constantly be those living among us who aren’t able to achieve this. The sad part is - most of them are living the high life.  Somehow that doesn't seem fair does it?  Maybe we can all learn from this historic event happening in Egypt and put an end to control and oppression once and for all.

"The secret of happiness is freedom.  The secret of freedom is courage." - Thucydides (Ancient Greek historian and author, 460-404 BC).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Poverty becoming the majority?

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Is it just me or is most of the population facing a ton of debt in their lives? I recently read an article that explains that the average person owes about $47K in outstanding debt. I assume this number is not including good debt like mortgages or education loans. Recently, the federal government has changed some policy in order to deal with household debt

When I researched debt, there seemed to be a difference between good debt and bad debt. An example of bad debt would be credit card payments or a car loan. In order to figure out your bad debt to income ratio, add up your monthly payments on bad debt and divide it by your monthly income. Take that number and times it by 100 to get a percentage. This percentage will help you define whether you are carrying a huge bad debt load. We all have good debt load so it is important to keep bad debt under control.

Even though it is common and acceptable to carry education debt, I and many others can’t help but question whether or not the stress of it all is really worth it in the end. Yes a lot of people do work at lucrative jobs that are correlated with their educational accomplishments; however on the flip side, there are more people who have one and two degree designations and are receiving less monetary gain a year than their outstanding accumulated student loans.
We do live in a time where it is absolutely normal and expected to go to college or university, or both, in order to land a job let alone a lucrative one. Twenty years ago and beyond, the job market didn’t seem so segregated, competitive and exhausting. People didn’t need the same credentials that they do now to receive opportunity in the working world. More people hired to companies were given the opportunity to learn and grow with the business and step into other career paths within. Things have changed so much and because of this, we have a huge divide between the classes. We all can’t be lawyers, bankers and doctors and CEOs. It takes us all and many different roles to make the world go around. The average cardiologist makes about 600K/yr and the average merger banker makes about $2M/yr. It seems that big business and life are grossly out of balance. Does this comparison seem fair? I have some real moral red flags going up for me here.

Yes, money makes the world go around but don’t people do a better job of that than money? Near proverty, in poverty and below poverty seem to be rearing its head and is jockeying for position as a top of mind issue for humanitarian and the media. More and more, you see articles in the media stating that the middle class as we know it is in fact disappearing.  I know opinion will differ between the corporate minded and for the humanitarians. If poverty isn’t a hot topic, it surely should be. Seemingly, we care less and less about humanity and more and more about money, business and the huge corporations. 

Life is hard, plain and simple. Big business is closing in on us all. They are buying more and more small to large businesses resulting in a big business acquisitioning all areas of business. I’m not sure this is the smartest thing for the rest of us. We are led to believe that the more powerful a corporation is the more they will create economic stimulus. I question this claim and more rather believe the opposite. The more they get, the more they want. This in turn makes them hang onto what they have more tightly and makes it more expensive for their product or service falling on the shoulder of the average person.

 Product and service have less quality and choice is limited. Customer service is definitely not what it used to be or should be.  We are controlled by merchandising. Just for an example, I spent years building up a movie library and then technology changed and made my collection irrelevant. I realize innovation is important in life but, it seems more like insanity that continues to  increase. Who can keep up?  Doesn't anyone get tired?

How many people do you know that lives from paycheque to paycheque? In 2010, a poll done by The Canadian Payroll Association published by the CBC revealed close to 60 percent of people live this way. Probably more than you even realize. No wonder we are living with more stress, more illness, more suffering. How long can we all go on living like this? There is no hiding from debt for the average person.

Yes there are the people who make and come from money and those of you that do, I hope you consider yourself blessed. I do believe that many of us do need to stop and evaluate our ways and could even possibly loosen the shackles of humongous debt. It does take a budget and some big lifestyle changes, but I believe it can be wrangled back in. Now is the time to cut the spending and help the stress. Face it - living in debt does create a lot of stress.

In the 1940s, Maslow explained that all humans need  five basic things in order to survive in life.  In this material world, how much do we really need? Exactly when did we stop sticking to the basics? Is it time to go back and better yet, can we go back?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Changing the Past – Truly we are in Dire Straits

Dire Straits:

The recent announcement by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) to censor the word faggot (slang – used to describe a homosexu-al) from the 26 year old song performed by Dire Straights called “Money for Nothing” has caused quite a stir among the special interest groups.  Did you know the word faggot also refers to food (a kind of a meat-ball)?  I  remember my Welsh grandmother making faggots and peas for dinner.  Not one of my favourite dishes because the patties or meatballs are made of liver.  I am not a fan of liver.  Should we ban faggots and peas too?  The word faggot is being banned from being played in the Dire Straits song and will be deleted out when played over the radio according to the CBSC.  By doing this, they are: insulting the artist, misunderstanding the context of the song and are opening up a whole gamut of songs, books and quotes to discussion and to possible censorship in this country. Censorship and history changed.  This to me is such a slippery slope.

The lyrics of “Money for Nothing”, if really studied, are nothing more than satiric words depicting the jealous types who basically did nothing with their lives. “I want my MTV” is the first line of the song.  If you really want to go down this path, while they can ban the word faggot, they can condone the derogatory images and remarks of the women in the video.  See where I am on this?  Where does it end?  

I actually do get the context of the video and would never judge it to be intended to be racist. Satire is a way to make fun of many touchy subjects. The video characters remind me of the Archie Bunker type with the cigar hanging out of this mouth. Realistically, the video is well done and definitely delivers on the parody of the song’s meaning.

I can’t help but think about why we are changing this and changing that? The notion of changing words in books (specific to the word nigger) such as Huck Fin, another example we could examine. Do you think that history should be changed? I don’t. This is how we learn and grow. History teaches us where we have come from. Is it okay for the Afro-American people to still use the word amongst each other and it can’t be kept in a book written countless years ago (circa 1876)? I think not. It is a double standard. You can’t have it both ways. The written word is in fact art. Art is what it is - a story that is being told, heard or shown depending on what kind of art we are talking about. We are going too far and pretty soon, we will not be able to look at another person without worrying about whether or not they may claim that you looked at them the wrong way.

I’m opposed to the fact that we can just change something that has been around for a long period of time that is meant to entertain. Anyone with half a brain can figure out that satire is the now, just as much as it has always been intertwined in life. There is a difference in deliberate bigot-ism. Entertainment is always blown to proportion

I think we need stop complaining and being so sensitive to many things and just instead choose to be confident. A majority of people can look at things and rise above them. Most people are accepted on every level and diversity is a common practice. Everyone can be an equal and treat others the same.

Censorship seems to be growing more and more. The last time I looked at the constitution, freedom of speech was a part of it. This seems to be losing its momentum.

I believe both this particular incident and the Huck Fin censorship are laughable. Get real people, we have far bigger things to worry about in this world like: Family Guy, All in the Family, and The Simpsons.  The preceding statement was me using satire.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Looks Prosperous - Atrologically Speaking

In my previous blog, I stated that I am glad to see 2010 go in the past and look forward to 2011 in hopes that a better year unfolds.
If you follow astrology, you may have already checked up on the year ahead.  My forecast was inspiring and predicts a very prosperous financial time.  There seems to be an opportunity for me to use my skills to do something that I love to do and turn it into a monetary gain. 

Imagine work becoming something I actually enjoy to do.  I really hope that this forecast is on the mark.  I have worked very hard to educate myself, work different jobs, volunteer my time and gain valuable experience.  If this year brings a bearing of the fruits of my labour, I welcome it with open arms.  Bring on the prosperity - I've been waiting for this.

Check out your own forecast by Nadiya Shah.

Cartoon from Google Images found here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Glad to see the year end?

As 2010 is coming to a close, I can’t help but think of not only my life this year, but others as well. For some  people there may be much nostalgia attached to this soon to be complete year. For others, the year has been an uphill battle and they are hoping that 2011 brings with it, more positive, harmonious and prosperous times.

Whatever this past year has brought to you (or taken away), there will never be another time exactly like this. There are always lessons to learn in every step of life. Sometimes the events that happen leave us wondering where the good is supposed to be. These are episodes in life that I have always been taught to think were things we weren’t supposed to understand. However, whatever has happened, it has helped someone, somewhere, somehow. This seems a nice way to think of things and quite frankly, the best way I know how to keep as positive as I possibly can.

Have you ever heard the saying “you will not be given anything you can not handle.” Did you ever notice how you thought you could never get through a challenging time, and you did? That is definitely food for thought.

As you look back through your 2010, I hope you can find the positive over the negative. If you have experienced a lot of challenge, I hope you look at yourself and the battle(s) you have endured and realize that you are stronger and better in some way for it. I hope you have more peace, more riches, more love and more laughter at the end of this year with more for 2011. A colleague of mine sent an email and one of the things he said was, "follow your passion not your pension".  In these times like these where we are so focused on money and material things, look to your heart and it will never steer you wrong.  Listening to your heart can be a difficult thing. 

Every year, I think next year I'm going to start doing this and I'm going to stop doing that.  I have made so many new year's resolutions that I have broken as quickly as I made them.  This year, instead of making resolutions, I think it's better to focus on things I have learned throughout the year.  Lessons learned definitely help me grow as a person.  I figure the more I grow the better changes I will make in my life.

This year, I learned to definitely never take anything for granted. This is a regrettable action because you should never underestimate another’s experience, kindness, time or action. When someone treats you right, treat them right back. It is so important to life. This is what we are supposed to be like. Instead from time to time, we don’t take the time out to recognize something or someone. Think twice before going down that road. It only takes a minute or two to call, write, email or text. People really enjoy acknowledgement. They like to know their action has made a difference. The feeling of giving is a feeling that provides a feeling like no other.  Study after study has proven that people feel happier when they do something to help another.

As we all say good-bye to 2010 and usher in 2011, stand up, put on your smile face and say hello to a new beginning. This is a brand new chance to change many things to the way you really want them to be. You can not change the past but you can shape the future.  Even if things happen to you that are out of your control – this is an opportunity to do something better. This is an opportunity to help someone, help yourself, help others and who knows, help everyone.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ontario's Green Energy Initiative - The straw that will break the ratepayers back?

The following two videos have been on You Tube for a few weeks.  They are animated videos that explain some of the issues surrounding Ontario's Green Energy Initiative.  Many people who are not educated in the electricity sector would not typically know much of this information.  The Ontario government hides bitter truths behind this initiative.  The videos below help explain some of these truths.  Provincial government continues to use propaganda to set their agendas and gain the approval of the Ontario people. 

As a ratepayer, I would be concerned as to where my hydro bill is headed and whether I will have electricity on an ongoing basis. Most middle class people are having a hard time as it is paying their way in this society. The Ontario government talks about thirty per cent "conservation" as being part of their long term plan. What exactly does conservation mean in this case? Does conservation mean that we will resort to rolling brownouts that happen in places like California?  The Ontario Energy Long Term Plan proposes that Ontarians submit to energy poverty.  Energy poverty is when access to hydro, heat and other forms of power is not attainable because people cannot afford to pay for it.   

We have endured tax increases that the liberals promised would not happen.  First the health care tax, then HST, not to mention the eHealth scandal where this government squandered over $1 billion of taxpayers money.  Next came the OLG scandal where billions more was wasted.  It gets better yet, the Ontario government has been involved in sole source contracts.  Imagine that? A government that mandates all government agencies and corporations ensure a competitive bid process is adhered to, didn't even follow their own rules.  The liberals very own former Energy and Infastructure Minister, George Smitherman sole sourced a multi billion dollar contract to Samsung for wind turbines. Prior to being Energy Minister, he was Health Minister and then he went on to municipal government to run for the mayoral race in Toronto.  He lost to Rob Ford.
The liberals are shutting down coal-fired electricity plants in Ontario by the end of 2014, will be buying coal-fired power from the United States and ratepayers will be paying four times more for power. Those plants are in Michigan and are ready to provide Ontario the power that it will need when their Green Energy initiatives fail.  Communities in Ontario where these plants have operated in a safe, reliable and environmentally responsible way for many years are going to lose some great community citizens, volunteers, donors, and taxpayers when these plants shut down in 2014. 

As of 2014, Ontario will be entering their off coal initiative.  Steel companies and oil refineries, who both burn coal to process their products, will be exempt from this initiative. In addition to this, it's okay to buy coal fired power from our neighbours. Shutting down these plants in Ontario will at the very most save 2 percent of the C02 problem for the province and only slightly more for the country.  You can read a letter to the editor at The Hamilton Spectator here.

None of this makes any sense to me. I guess that's why they call this politics.  How do these politicians sleep at night?  How do Ontarians and supporters of this game sleep at night?  I know why I can't sleep at night and it's not because I am knowingly duping and stealing from honest working men and women in this province.  It's because I am so worried about my future, your future, Ontario's future.  This is not Ontario's problem alone, it is a global problem and we are not going to solve it alone.

Where is the green in this plan? I can make a guess where; right in the pockets of policy makers and big green energy organizations.

We are barely recovering from the recent recession and now we are going to spend billions to make a system that cannot sustain itself and needs another system to provide back up.  Residents and municipal government in rural areas have no say in what happens in their communities. 

There will come a day when the people of  Ontario will rise up and say enough is enough.  I find it sad that this plan will pull a lot of people under first. The writing is on the wall and only the affluent will stay afloat in the coming economic times.

I encourage you to view the following videos and learn more details about Ontario's Green Energy Initiative.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Attendance in Flu Shot Clinics Down This Year

In a blog from October 30, 2009, I discussed the hype of the H1N1 flu vaccine.  Last year people were racing to flu clinics to receive their flu shot for fear of catching the infamous H1N1 flu virus. There was so much hype in the media that people were literally jockeying for position as they stood in line for three and four hours with their children to wait for their turn to receive the needle. Not only was that an issue, but on top of that, they rationed the shots to elderly people and children claiming that there was a shortage. No wonder people were worried and competing to be first in line.

This is another example of how powerful our government, medical experts and media are in creating hype among the public. In the end, the H1N1 virus was not an issue through the winter season and the pandemic prediction did not come true.

This year, we see a decline in the number of people coming to flu clinics to receive their flu shots. Why?  Perhaps it's because government, media and WHO didn't create panic among the masses like they did last year. I'm sure we'll have a repeat performance when the next potential pandemic is reported.

 I didn't get a flu shot last year and I won't be getting one this year.  I have to admit that I am skeptical  about media hype and pharmaceutical companies and much of government action.  The more I watch and read the news, the more skeptical I become on many issues.  The fact is that media has a big part in shaping our beliefs, what we buy, how we vote, the list goes on, all the while, exasperating fear.

Cartoon from an editorial in the Cleavland Sun.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Apology

I haven't posted since July and cannot believe how fast these past few months have gone by.   There has been a bit of a separation with my Internet access and I have recently gotten that problem solved.  I apologize for taking so much time in between blogs.  I am excited to get back to blogging. 
The fall is here now.  Winter is on our heels.  Where exactly did the summer go?  I certainly hope the winter season goes by just as fast.  Christmas will be here before we know it and a new year begins.

Now to get researching and find some interesting things to blog upon.
Any writer would love the following quote and it may even make you chuckle...

"No passion on Earth, neither love nor hate, is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft" - H.G. Wells

More to come soon.  Thank you for reading.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A local artist going places was encouraged by her art teacher

Michelle Snively-Jefferies grew up in Boston, Ont. and from a very young age knew she was nurturing a talent deep within.  Snively-Jefferies stated: “My God given talent is, I believe, inherited from my family; my dad, who seems to explain most every story with a quick sketch, and an uncle, who works with many different mediums from wood to iron to paint.”

Snively-Jefferies talked about her Grade 6 art teacher Marion Anderson at Boston Public School. Anderson taught art class and was the principal of the school. This encouraging teacher told her class one day: “You can draw. You can paint. You are stating your very own perception of the subject. It is right for you."  These words would stick with Snively-Jefferies and would give her confidence to continue to enhance her artistic talent. With much enthusiasm, the artist now enjoys spending time painting with her mentor, Anderson, who is now 91 years old.

With acrylics being her preferred medium, Snively-Jefferies got started painting about seven years ago when her husband bought her a tabletop easel, a canvas with acrylic paints and said, “Go for it.” Snively-Jefferies got going right away. Not wanting to experiment on that canvas, she started painting on pieces of old barn board. People who saw her work told her she should start selling her pieces. Things have taken off for her ever since.

Snively-Jefferies has a very supportive family and is very thankful for her husband and two children, who are also artistically talented. With a passion for painting, she will set up her easel anywhere, indoors or out and explained that, "Even during a recent house renovation she was able to create art.” There are plans in the works for a studio/gallery on the family's property and Snively-Jefferies is very excited to see that project turn into reality.

Influenced by the works of Georgia O’Keefe and Andrew Wyeth, Snively-Jefferies says she can,"see beauty in ordinary things." Snively-Jefferies went on to say that she, "wants people to see what she sees.” A day doesn’t go by without her studying and learning something new about art. Snively-Jefferies teaches private lessons and she says, “ I also learn from preparing for my students’ individual needs."

Over the years, Snively-Jefferies is grateful for having the opportunity to be involved in many shows and exhibitions, one being the Norfolk Studio Tour that runs annually in the fall. She also belongs to an organization called Norfolk ArtsCo, and explains that, "She receives a bi-monthly newsletter that keeps her in tune to all types of arts going on in the area."

Snively-Jefferies paints in the moment striving to stimulate the onlooker's senses and emotions. Her paintings now hang in the homes of private collectors across Canada and abroad:  in Britain, Europe and as far away as Saudi Arabia. Like her paintings, she too has been on a journey of self-discovery and is “ Looking forward to where this journey will take her.”

When asked for words of wisdom for anyone who is interested in painting Snively-Jefferies says, “Give yourself permission to fail and also to succeed and go for it."

Snively-Jefferies art can be viewed on her website

Picture featured in this blog is a piece Snively-Jefferies calls "Pink Lily."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Special Friend

This past Friday, I received a call from my brother who delivered some very sad news.  I learned that a dear friend of ours had passed suddenly at the age of 50.  In fact, he had just celebrated  his birthday 32 days before his passing.

My memories of Ron Bunt span over the last 25 plus years.  He was a friend of my brother's and I got to know Ron through him hanging out with my brother.  Ron was a funny, kind, and gentle man.  Ron worked on our farm over the years and he was always a happy spirit who would do just about anything to make others smile.  He was a breath of fresh air to be around on those long work days.  His playfulness and antics were nothing short of plain fun.  Working on the farm was short-term and was only a stepping stone toward Ron's real talent.

Ron was a superb carpenter, and for years, he worked many days and nights on the movie sets in Toronto.  I heard many stories of his adventures in the making of Hollywood films.  One movie that sticks out in my mind is The Bride of Chucky.  The cast and crew seemed to have a lot of fun making that movie.  Ron had pictures of himself and the dolls that he showed me along with sharing many funny stories that transpired through the months of making the movie.  Ron had seen and met many Hollywood artists over the years.

In 2005, I was lucky enough to be invited by Ron to a Wrap Party for Fever Pitch, a film that starred Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.  A Wrap Party is normally held for the cast and crew to celebrate after the completion of the principle filming.  I ventured up to the GTA and met Ron at his house.  We visited for awhile and ordered a cab to go downtown.  First, we went for an awesome dinner at a place that had three restaurants on three separate floors. After dinner, we went to the Wrap Party in another part of the city.

At the Wrap Party, Ron and I were standing over by a set of pool tables when a guy comes over and starts setting up for a game.  The guy then asked me "if I wanted to play a game of pool?" I remember saying something along the line of "Are you sure because I'd kick your butt." We stood there for a few minutes bantering back and forth.  Ron stood off to the side and looked on with amusement.

During our bantering, I tell the guy, "I know karate", and he replies,"I'll just steal your energy and throw you over my shoulder."  I laughed and turned to Ron who says to me, "do you know who that is?"  I say to him, "I have no idea."  Ron then informs me that it is in fact Jimmy Fallon.  I was in shock - I did not clue into the fact that he was the star of the movie.  After that, I turned all shy and Ron and I went over to the other side  of the room.  For the rest of the night, I avoided making eye contact with Jimmy. Ron and my night together was fun and full of entertainment.  The food and drink was amazing just as a true Hollywood event would be.  Ron and I stayed up really late that night telling stories and laughing.  I can hear his contagious laugh in my mind.

I have often thought about that night and other fun times I had with Ron. Today, I just can't believe that a guy so full of life and so much left is now gone.  His family is so sad - it is heart breaking.  Thank you to Ron's brother who told me that Ron was so fond of me.  I was truly blessed with a friend who cared. 

Click here and view some of the movies that Ron is credited for as being Head Carpenter.  Good on you Ron!

 Just in the past two weeks, I've thought of Ron so many times and was going to call to say hello.  Today, I am wondering why I waited so long. Just like that - my chance to talk to him is gone.

Rest in peace my dear friend.  You were loved by many and are sorrowfully missed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sedona Sweat Lodge Tragedy Update

In a previous blog in October 2009, I wrote about a tragedy that happened in Sedona, AZ that ultimately took the lives of three people and hospitalized eighteen others.  These people along with many others, were attending a spiritual retreat in Arizona hosted by guru James Arthur Ray.  One of the activities of this "Spirtitual Warrior" retreat involved a very intense sweat lodge.  Events surrounding this sweat lodge have been under investigation for almost four months now. 

On February 3, 2010, authorities arrested James Arthur Ray on three counts of manslaughter. It will be interesting to see if these charges actually hold up in a court of law.  I believe he definitely needs to be held accountable for his actions that caused three people to die in his intense sweat lodge.  I still can't believe that people paid close to $10,000 each to attend this weeklong retreat. He promosed a profound experience and he delivered in a way that may not have been in line with the intentions of the participants.  Through my research on this self help guru, I am convinced that he is a person who is charasmatic and has the potential to attain a strong hold on his followers.

Now that James Arthur Ray has been arrested, the families of the people who lost their lives may now feel that they have some kind of closure. This story really touched me when I orignially read about it, and I am comforted that authorities have pursued this investigation.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mom Graduates to the Next Level of her Healing Journey

On February 22, 2010, I received a call from the social worker who works in the Burn Unit at Hamilton General Hospital where my mother had been admitted since January 3rd.  The social worker explained to me that mom was now officially past the very acute stages of her injuries and was being transferred to another health care facility closer to home. Mom had been placed on a waiting list for this program and a bed had become available in the Reactivation program on the Complex Continuing Care Unit at Brantford General Hospital in Brantford, Ontario.  On this unit, mom will continue her healing, build her strength back up, and re-gain her mobility.

Because her right arm was so burned and received two different grafting surgeries, a condition called Hypertrophic Ossification developed in her elbow.  This is described as an over abundance of calcium, in turn, causing rapid bone growth, which leads to limited mobility and much debilitating pain. Just another issue that has presented itself, likely because of the trauma she has been through.

She has become quite good at using her left hand considering she has been right handed all her life up until this unfortunate development.  Mom is frustrated by her inability to use her right arm, although she has worked really hard to re-gain some movement here.  Things that a normal person would take for granted are huge obstacles for a person who has gone through trauma and has lost mobility.  For example, touch your index finger to your thumb. This movement may seem easy for you, but to my mother, to be able to achieve this goal has taken a lot of hard work.  One of the most difficult tasks is to try and bend her arm at the elbow. That may never happen due to the hypertrophic ossification, but we are not giving up hope because we know what mom is already capable of.

Each day we see improvement in mom's burns and grafting sites.  Her strength is slowly coming back and she has recently been able to walk a short distance with the assistance of a walker.  She is working toward total independence.  Her Physio Therapist and Occupational Therapist are working diligently with her to help her achieve this goal.  This progress is exhilarating and gives us all much joy.  To see her coming out of her cocoon and continue to develop her beautiful wings is elating.  The healing that she has done so far is incredible.

It will be several more weeks before we will see mom come home again.  She will go back to Hamilton at the end of the month to follow up with her plastic surgeon.  The surgeon will take a look at her burns and grafting sites and determine whether they are healing as expected.  Mom will likely be referred for fitting of pressure garments depending on how far her healing has come.  These specially fitted garments will be worn for 23 hours a day and will help minimize scarring.

The journey continues and is still much like a roller coaster for all of us.  When one is down, the other will help bring them up.  Mom is definitely in need of constant accolades and encouragement.  Understandably, she does get frustrated from time to time.  The good thing is she knows what her goal is and will continue to strive to reach it.  Mom and the rest of us are very thankful for the support of her health care team, family, friends, and many others that continue cheering for us all.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Year Brings Sorrow with New Beginnings

I have been away from blogging for a couple of months now.  There is a reason why this has happened.  My new year did not exactly start happy.  There are things to be happy about though.  You will see when you read this post.  My apologies in advance for the length of this one.

On January 3, 2010, I was busy at home doing various chores and anticipating my return to work the next day.  Since I live in the lower part of my parent's house, I make frequent trips upstairs to see how they are making out.  This particular day, I was up and down a few times looking for my mother.  My father told me that he thought she was in her room reading.  I hadn't seen her yet, and I was waiting for her to appear.  In the meantime, I went back down to my place and continued to do paperwork.  Little did I know in a matter of moments, my life would change in a drastic way.

All of a sudden, I heard yelling and stomping on the floor.  I immediately knew there was something horribly wrong.  I took a big breath and ran upstairs.  What I encountered, ripped my very core from my body.  My mother was totally engulfed in flames and my father was desperately trying to rip the burning clothing off of her.  My first instinct was to run and wet some towels and put them over her to extinguish the fire.  All of this happened so quickly, and my mother remained very quiet.  No doubt she was going into shock from what had been a major trauma to her body.

I called 911 and tried to explain the situation to the operator - this was hard as I was hysterical through this ordeal.  In no time, the air ambulance was circling the area looking for a place to land.  The fire department, ambulance, and police arrived in a matter of minutes.  The attendants loaded my mother into the ambulance and took her to meet the helicopter.  From about 3 kilometres up the road, they airlifted her to the Burn Trauma Unit in Hamilton, ON.  The helicopter could not land near our house because of windy conditions.

My mother had been cooking poached eggs on a gas stove and caught her clothing on fire and couldn't put it out.  I am so thankful to have been home on this day as my father and I were able to react to the situation in the best way we could at the time.  My father sustained some superficial burns on his hands from the flames, but my mother received 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 40% of her body. 

We were able to see our mother for a few minutes on the evening of her accident and were told that her condition was grim.  The next morning, they put mom into a drug induced coma with a drug called Versed to keep her calm and sleepy.  To control her pain, she was given Fentanyl.  In order to help her breathe, she was intubated.  The first few days after the accident seemed like months had gone by.  For 72 hours, we did not know the full extent of our mother's burns.  Existing burns continued to deepen and new ones appeared during the first three days.  The family was so grief stricken and worried, we couldn't focus on anything but the well-being of mom.  I know for myself, flashbacks of the accident have haunted me, tears have been plenty, and nightmares of the incident have interrupted my sleep cycle.  My doctor spoke to me about a condition she feels I am suffering from called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Over time, I will experience less and less anxiety surrounding memories of the event.

Doctors and nurses were constantly monitoring her and adjusting things to keep her alive. No one could ever imagine what this has been like.  Little things like hearing that her urine output was adequate were like amazing steps to healing.  With her being so burned, keeping fluid in her body was a challenge and her wounds were like sieves.  Her bed and floor surrounding her bed were puddled from saline fluid coming out of her wounds. Her vital signs were constantly monitored through an arterial line that was inserted into an artery below her clavicle.  Through this arterial line, they could monitor her vitals, as well as take blood work which happened constantly.  They placed an NG tube through her nose into her stomach to give her constant feeds to keep her protein levels up.  Proper fluid and protein levels are both important factors for healing, especially with burn patients. 

We learned that the medical team would have to perform skin grafting surgery on mom and would have to take healthy skin off of her and place it on the burn sites.  The process would involve a total debridement of the dead skin and then the new skin would be placed on the burn sites and held there with hundreds of staples.  We were told that mom had a 40% chance of making it through this surgery.  We were horrified and sat waiting to hear news.  After waiting for over eight hours, we saw the doctor come into the waiting room.  Mom made it through the surgery, but within a few days, she suffered a heart attack.  The medical team was quick to respond with medications to help her condition. We knew that she would need more surgery because they were only able to do so many areas during the first surgery.  The major concern was always her burns.  I was told by the medical team that burn patients are the sickest patients because every system of the body is affected. 

Mom needed more surgery and the team held off for a few weeks due to the fact that her condition was further weakened from the heart attack she suffered.  When the team felt she was stronger, they decided to do the second surgery.  My sister's and I were at the hospital bright and early that morning to see mom before she went to the Operating Room.  I texted my brother, as he had to be at work that mornng.  The hours ticked by very slowly and finally we got some news from a nurse that the surgery was going well.  It wouldn't be long and she would be back in her room.  She made it through another one and we were so relieved.  Within a few hours after the surgery, her left lung collapsed.  We were back in panic mode and mom had to have a chest tube inserted to inflate her lung.  Within the next week or so, mom was improving and was able to come off the respirator and breathe on her own.  For the next few days, her vitals were off and her blood pressure was extremely high. She was working harder on her own without help to breathe and her body was reacting to this.  The team finally got things in check again.  One of the doctors that were taking care of mom came into the room and said "ah we fixed her".   He then said, "was it the drugs or was it all the love that brought that blood pressure down"?  This was such a compliment to our family to have the medical team notice the warmth and love that surrounded our mother.

Once she was more stable, they moved her out of intensive care to the step down care.  This was an exciting time for all of us.  She was coming off of the heavy drugs and was now talking to us.  Conversations were convoluted as the narcotics play a big part in confusion in patients.  Within a couple of days, we learned mom had developed an infection in her blood commonly known as sepsis.  Doctors quickly put her on a couple of antibiotics to combat the infection.  They did blood cultures to see what the best course of treatment would be and they found that Vancomycin was their drug of choice. She has received this drug for two weeks now.  Her temperature has gone to normal as well as her white blood cell count.  The team suspects that the PICC line they inserted into her was the cause of her infection.

The team in the Burn Trauma Unit has been amazing with the care they have given our mother.  It has been over six weeks since my mother's accident and she has been through two major surgeries for skin grafting, was asleep for over a month, and has fought an infection in her blood.  She is improving day by day and is now regaining memories and making conversation.  Her road to recovery is long but she is healing and that is a gift.  She will have to go through physiotherapy to regain mobility and control scarring for the better part of two years. 

I am thankful to the Burn Trauma Unit team, my family, and friends for their support, love, strength, and commitment.  The many prayers and healing thoughts that have been sent to my mother and our family have definitely played a big part in how this story has been shaping up.  Mother has proved her strength and will to live.  She has amazed her medical team and many others.  We love her so much and are so proud to call her mom. 

In a card to our mother, my sister and I wrote a poem that says the following:

The healing thoughts and healing hands that you have felt;
Are lifting you out of the sickness that has dwelt;
Accept this love, that encircles you;
It's your guardian angels that will get you through.

I can honestly say I have learned a few things from all of this. Never give up on the possibilities and certainly never underestimate the power of LOVE.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Time - Yours to Enjoy

Christmas is over and New Years is on it's way.  The holidays continue on for another week for many of us.  The last few days have given me a chance to catch up on some cleaning and take in numerous movies. Yesterday, I made a dinner for a dear friend of mine.  We enjoyed good food, great conversation, and a few glasses of wine.  What a nice way to spend an evening.

Needless to say, today was a very low key day.  I spend most of it curled up on the couch watching movies.  There have been some very enjoyable movies including: I love You Man, The Ugly Truth, The Proposal, and Julie and Julia.  I have to admit this was a very good way to spend a day.  I even had a surprise visit from another firend of mine.

Tomorrow is another free day for me.  Maybe I'll read a book that has been sitting wating for me to pick it up.  The beauty of holidays is that you can do what you like, when you like.  If you decide to do something different, that is okay too.

If you are off this week, enjoy every moment and make sure you do things you want to do.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Eve Before Christmas

Today is the official start of the holiday season.  Those of us who celebrate Christmas are likely spending time with family and friends.  The children are excited, they've written their letters for Santa Claus asking for their most desired presents, and can't wait for his arrival.  Tonight will be a night that parents will likely struggle to get those little ones to sleep.  The last resort will be telling them that if they don't go to sleep, "Santa will not come".  That one will be guaranteed to work.

Christmastime is also the end of one year and the beginning of another.  There is much reflection of 2009 - with a hope for a better 2010.  For myself, I am glad to see 2009 end.  This past year has been a difficult year.  My father has not been well and that has been a big worry.  2009 also took with it many lives, some close, some acquantances, and some celebrities. 

The next week or so, I will be enjoying some time off work.  I look forward to a much needed rest and spending time with my family and friends.  I wish everyone a joyous holiday season and a prosperous New Year. In a famous poem called "Twas the Night Before Christmas" Santa would say, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Province Appears Desperate

In an article in the Globe and Mail, it appears that the Ontario government is tossing around the idea of selling off many Crown corporations in an effort to bring down the $24.7 - billion deficit.  Perhaps, this is just a balloon being floated out to see how much public outcry they receive.

Some of the corporations named are Ontario Power Generation, Hydro One, LCBO, and the OLG.  These Crown corporations have been a money maker for the Ontario government for many years.  In some cases, they have also been a money pit for the tax payers of Ontario.  Many money spending issues have come out into the open over the past several years, putting many of these organizations in a bad light to many. 

The latest one being the OLG and before that the E-Health scandal, commonly known as "Muffingate".  I think instead of selling off these corporations, the government should keep a tighter reign on spending habits and actual benchmarks. 

This appears to be a sign of desperation coming from the Ontario government because they realize what a mess they have made in the province.  I'm afraid that selling precious Crown corporations will only put Ontario in a worse position.