The Reasons for this Website

There are many reasons for this website. It serves as a digital record of my life, with three specific purposes.

During the time I cared for my mother, who had Alzheimer’s, I watched the gradual deterioration in her memory. I suggested that she start a diary to record the memories she still had of her life, the goal of which was to have her be able to read the diary as her memory got worse and her frustration grew. I bought a writing book and some pens and placed them in front of her on the coffee table where she did her puzzles. Every day, usually several times a day, she would ask me what the book was for and every time I explained it she would say that was a great idea.

Days passed and the book remained blank. I didn’t want to push her about it because she could blow up on a minute’s notice, but I did feel that it was something that would be good for her as her memories faded. Every few months Mum was tested to determine what level her Alzheimer’s was at. At what was to be her last assessment it was a real shock to hear her answers to some of the questions. She had no idea what year it was, what month it was, what season it was, how long she had been married or even why I was there.

When I discussed the journal with her assessor she agreed that it was a great idea; however, she then asked if I knew that Mum had forgotten how to write? She couldn’t sign her own name anymore. This was the reason that she had not written anything in the journal. Sad.

So, seeing as how Alzheimer’s is hereditary, I thought I would get a jump start on recording my own memories, just in case that day comes when I can’t remember anything, including how to use a computer.

The second reason is for my kids. If you know me personally and know the story of what happened with my kids, you know that I have been estranged from them for more than seventeen years now. Several of the posts on this site deal with the why, but it has unquestionably been the regret of my life. They not only cut me out of their lives after I moved West, but they cut out my whole side of the family, which never made any sense to me. So this site is just in case they ever want to know about their Dad and what he’s been up to these last seventeen years.

The last purpose is for business. Just like everyone got their email addresses with their name, which are unique in the whole world, my project now is to have people realize the value in registering their names for all the popular domains. Once you have your name registered you are the only person in the world who will own that domain. This was never practical when both domain registration and hosting was expensive, but now you can register your name for the most popular domains for only a few dollars and hosting is also really inexpensive now. Unlike Facebook, Google+ or any other public site, having your own personal website means you control everything, including access to private information. Anyone who has had Facebook take down their page knows how frustrating this can be. That can never happen when you have your own site.

Closet architect? Maybe

Way, way back in my formative years I dreamed of becoming an architect. Even in my preteen years I was always drawing some house design, although it was with pencil and paper back then. I even built what I called a light table for tracing. Basically a sheet of glass with a light under it. Gradually I moved to CAD once I got my first computer. It was always more of a hobby because my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college or university to get a degree. 

My passion has continued my whole life. My computer is packed with all kinds of projects, from home design to commercial projects. Years ago, back in Ecuador primarily, I got really interested in shipping container homes. The designs had really progressed and there were literally thousands of used containers sitting in the port in Guayaquil. Now I’m here in Mexico and wondering if shipping container homes are a possibility for Lakeside? When I wander around Google Earth I see all kinds of empty land that could be put to good use with these types of homes. I’m not sure where the used shipping containers would be here or if they are the newer height ones, but worth checking out. 

Here’s my latest design – 

James Taylor got it right, but it depends on which “friends” you have

The very popular song from way back in 1971 expressed so very well the true value of real friends, but it also had an ominous verse, for me, at least.

Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend
When people can be so cold?
They’ll hurt you and desert you
Well, they’ll take your soul if you let them

These days Facebook is chocked full of “false friends” who delight in pretending to be actual friends. Most of these have never met you in real life. Many of them are just there to criticize you and insult you when you say something they don’t like. Some just friend you because they think that their value is somehow determined by the sheer number of friends they have. Some just want to air their opinions, good and bad, because they are very lonely. I guess I fall into that last category.

In real life there’s nothing quite as wonderful as having great friends. They share the good times with you and build strong and lasting memories. I always considered that I had a lot of those, mostly because I have lived in a lot of places in my life. Like most people I had school friends, first when I lived in Toronto as a young kid, then in Churchville at a one-room schoolhouse, then in high school in Streetsville. That’s when I first joined the group I played in for ten years during which I made tons of people I would call friends. During my twenty-three year marriage we made a lot of friends as a couple, many of those with our son and daughter’s sports, traveling all over the place for tournaments. When my failed marriage was clearly over and my mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer In 1993 I moved to the Okanagan in BC to spend what time she had left with her, having been apart for more than twenty years. Thankfully she beat the odds and survived another fourteen years and I ended up spending those fourteen years in the Okanagan where I met an incredible group of simply fantastic friends, the best of my life.

In 2007 disaster struck, which I have detailed elsewhere, and my doctor told me that I had to leave to survive, so I moved to Boquete, Panama and stayed for just under two years. Met a lot of people, some good and some not so good, who ripped me off and I was forced back to Canada. My darling cousin, Joan Thomson, in Toronto gave me refuge for several months until I met a girl and moved to London, Ontario, where I spent the next uneventful five years, and hardly made any friends. I did meet one man, Siege Pedde, who changed my life by giving me a job and lending me the money to buy a car at a time I was living in shelters.

As I approached pension age and knew I could not possibly afford to live in Canada on my measly pensions I started researching warmer climes where the cost of living was lower and discovered Ecuador. I moved to Cotacachi in the mountains and soon made many friends, both Expats and locals, including my soon to be fiancee. Patricia. Again disaster struck when I didn’t get one of my pensions and I was forced back to Canada again, this time to Belleville to live in a house in the country owned by my dear friend Heather’s son. Yet another disaster when I was left freezing in the dead of winter with no heat and I moved into my first group home and spent the next two years moving around various group homes. The various guys I lived with could never be considered friends, but the President of the charity that ran the homes, Bob Cottrell, sure was. He helped me immensely over the next two years, especially when I returned to Canada for my visa.

Then it was off to here in Mexico, originally on a six-month tourist visa to just check it out. Within days I met a host of people I thought were going to become really good friends. Then I met the proverbial love of my life, Elba, and we planned to get married as soon as I got my visa and came back to stay here in Mexico. Not only did we have a wonderful group of friends together, but she also introduced me to her large family, including her two wonderful sons who were soon calling me Dad. It was the happiest time of my life.

It’s over a year ago now and getting dumped came dangerously close to killing me. I saw no point in going on. I felt totally worthless. I had no future. I was filled with dark thoughts of swimming out in the lake far enough not to make it back. It’s was only through the grace of two real friends at the time, Violeta and Don, that I survived. They convinced me that I wasn’t worthless and that I would be missed. That was then, and this is now. How things have changed with both of them.

Last October I discovered that I only had twenty-eight dollars in the bank in the middle of the month. I had no idea how I was going to survive and I got very depressed, thinking my life was over. I reached out for help on Facebook and got an onslaught of horrible attacks, both public and private. “Suck it up”, “Quit whining”, “Grow up”, “Stop f*cking posting”, and worse in private messages. It became painfully clear that these people I had thought were friends were not. I was shocked and deeply hurt. About a month before this I had adopted my best Buddy, Rollie, my new dog. We had so much fun together and he filled a very big void in my life. After I had gotten very drunk and was chatting online with my friend Christine, she sent over a doctor, Dr. Lupita, and some of her colleagues to talk to me. She held my hand and promised to help me with food and even some website work to earn a little money. She also said she would talk to the animal rescue operation, who had been threatening to take Rollie from me, to convince them that this would be the very worst time to take him from me. It didn’t matter. They showed up unannounced the next morning and took him from me. Losing my best buddy at such a distressing time nearly killed me. I never heard from the good doctor again. So much for getting the help I so desperately needed.

To make matters even worse this was also the time I started to run out of my critical diabetic medications that I had brought back from Canada in April, without which I would be at great risk of having a heart attack or stroke and would die. Someone told me that I could get my meds from a place called Seguro Popular in Chapala. With help from John Kelly, the President of the Canadian Legion here, I went to the office to apply. After pulling together tons of documents and going to the office three times the doctor informed me that they couldn’t help me. Dead end, literally.

In desperation, I contacted the nurse at my doctor’s office back in Belleville to see if there was any way they would renew my meds without seeing me. When I hadn’t heard back from her I took a chance and called the pharmacy and learned that my doctor had been charged with some offense and his clinic closed. The pharmacist was very understanding and agreed to give me a three-month renewal until I could find another doctor. My friend, Doral, agreed to pick them up for me and ship them to me. I asked her to give me the size and weight so I could check out what courier to use, but she sent them by mail. That was last January 18th. I didn’t know at the time that customs here seizes all meds not sent by bonded courier. Yet another dead end, this time terminal. 

Now that the end is near I again reached out to the friends I thought I had in the world. Although it may well have been pointless, one of my many regrets was that I have maintained this website for more than ten years now, basically a diary of my life since starting to write. In all that time not a single person has ever added a comment, good or bad. I was totally mystified and confused, especially for one post that took me days to create because I listed every friend’s name who I could remember, adding links to their Facebook pages if they existed and asking them to comment. Not a soul responded. Recently I did another Facebook post appealing to my “friends” in all those places to please comment on this site. I prefaced the comment with “my time in Mexico was coming to an end”, not wanting to sound overly dramatic by saying I was leaving feet first. I got only one comment from a stranger, a Facebook friend, saying that she would read more and comment. Not one friend responded. Sad.

I guess it all boils down to how naive I am. People have always said I was a likable guy and a good friend. I truly thought that these people were my friends and that they cared at least a little for me. Not so. No one cares if I live or die. Many of the people I thought I was really close to, people who I thought cared as much about me as I cared about them, totally abandoned me. My best buddy in the whole world, Wade Silver, who had been my closest friend for fourteen years in the Okanagan, never said a word. Those two friends who had saved me after I was dumped, Violeta and Don, haven’t said a word. Don ended up marrying Elba but said our friendship would not change. Wrong. I left two heartfelt messages on Facebook Messenger for Violeta, begging to see her one more time, went unanswered. Even my desperate pleas to Christine, who had agreed to handle my affairs after I was gone, have gone unanswered for months now. I’ve had to turn to John Kelly again for help, but so far he hasn’t responded either. 

Obviously part of the reason I have found myself in such a mess is the fact that I haven’t made a dime with my websites. Despite more than two years of working all day, every day, building my sites I knew I had to do something, so I offered to sell a forty-nine percent interest in my umbrella site, The Mexico Today Group. I sent a detailed proposal to people I knew had money and who would make a fortune by investing in the business. Siege Pedde back in London, Ontario. Jon LeHoup, who I had worked for decades ago. Francis Dryden, who had befriended me before I loved to Mexico and had helped me to find my first apartment. Frank Roberts, who was recently here in Mexico. And many more. Not just people who I knew had the money, but people who knew other investors and might pass the proposal on. Not a single response. When I followed up with Frank a few days after sending him the proposal, asking him if he had read it, he said that he thought the fact that he hadn’t answered me was my answer. Cruel. Not even so much as a thanks but no thanks after all the effort I had put into the proposal to him.

I can’t comment on friends without also including my family. Again I’ve gone into great depth elsewhere about what happened with my family so I won’t repeat myself here, save to say that to this day I don’t understand what happened with my kids, Christopher and Heather. They both encouraged me to leave my terrible marriage and move out West where they saw how happy I was. They both understood after I ended my marriage and went out West to be with my dying mother for whatever time she had left. The day I left my daughter to go out West I never once thought that it would be the last time I would ever see her. I figured she would come out on vacation as she had done before. That was over twenty-four years ago and not a day has gone by that I don’t miss her with all my heart. Chris and I reconnected way back in 2009 and I was to meet his three daughters but that never happened and he ended up blocking me on Facebook. One of his daughters, Mackenzie, connected with me on Messenger when she was fourteen and I was thrilled. She was very upset that her parents hadn’t let her make her own decision about connecting with me. We had many great chats and she told me she was coming to Mexico for a wedding. She was going to let me know where and when and I was praying that I could somehow afford to go and meet her. That was months ago and she stopped talking to me for some reason. 

The only family member I have maintained any contact with is my dear cousin, Joan, but even that has turned sour. Admittedly in my depths of depression, I wrote emails to her explaining my situation and telling her I was about to give up and why. I included my last ditch effort, my website called JustADollar.com.mx, a fund-raising site to save myself and go on to leave a legacy for myself by doing good works here in Mexico. My goal, quite possibly absurd, is to raise a hundred million dollars, a dollar at a time. I asked her to visit the site and let me know what she thought of it, but she either didn’t read my email or didn’t go to the site or didn’t think much of it. I’ll never know. After she rescued me and I lived with her for several months after returning from Panama all those years ago Joan knows all too well how tough my family situation with my kids has been on me and I thought she understood that she was the only family I had left, but I guess not. Just like everyone else in the world, at least in my world, no one cares.   

               

Understanding Mexican women

There’s that old joke. A genie grants three wishes. The first wish is for tons of money, naturally. Genie says, “no problem”. The second wish is to build a highway from the US to Hawaii. The third wish is to understand women. The genie responds, “will that be two-lane or four-lane?”.

Most of the time it’s totally impossible to understand women, love them as I do. For me, one of the most tragic lack of understanding of women was when my fiancee suddenly dumped me by text message with no explanation. A year later I still don’t have a clue why she ended what she said was the best relationship she had ever had in her life. Go figure. 

Yesterday I had yet another most confusing situation with a woman. A few days ago when one of my drivers picked me up he introduced me to one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen here in Mexico. She took my breath away. Her English was very good and after I handed her my business card, something I do with pretty well everyone I meet, we got talking about how I am looking for someone to work with me on my websites. She sounded very interested so she was going to call me the next day to meet and discuss it further. My driver then brought her over to my place yesterday around four. Most unfortunately, my internet was out (not uncommon here) so I couldn’t show her my website, but we managed to talk about a lot of related things, such as the commission program, relationship selling and so on. After about an hour and a half of talking, during which I asked her many times if she understood me and if she was interested, she kept saying she was. Then her phone rang. 

It was her son and she said she needed to meet him on the highway for some reason but she would “be right back”, so I gave her my house keys to get back in. She said she might be ten or fifteen minutes. Still no internet but I printed out a number of things related to my websites, such as the listing form for the Business Directory, the client contract, and the employment contract to show her the specifics of working with me. Then I waited for her to come right back.

An hour went by, then two hours, then three hours. I didn’t have her number to call her until I texted my driver to ask what the hell was going on? He came over and called her. No answer. He gave me her number so I started texting her, asking her if she was okay and asking her to let me know what was going on. No response to several text messages. In one of the last texts I told her I needed my keys back. Still no response and she never did come back. Today I have texted her again, now desperate to get my keys back, but no answer. My driver has also been calling her to pick up my keys and return them to me, but he’s not getting any answer either.

Why would someone who is apparently interested in working with me and making a lot of money do this? She is divorced and has four kids to support. I learned that her only experience was working in a restaurant but I was willing to train her with my decades of experience in relationship selling. She was the right age that I was looking for, late thirties. She was attractive which would mean she is confident and make it easier for her to talk to people when she first met them. She came dressed very professionally in a pretty black dress. She spoke very good English which would make training her much easier for me, plus she would be able to deal with clients who didn’t speak Spanish that well. She was perfect for the part, that is until she pulled this fiasco last night. Regardless of what was going on why couldn’t she just give me a quick call or text to let me know what was going on, particularly when she had my house keys?

Yes. I will never understand women, I guess especially Mexican women.     

Has the business world just gone stupid?

Remember the great line from the 1976 movie Network – “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”  Over forty years ago and it’s still just as relevant today, maybe even more so. The new frustrations of dealing with various businesses seems to suggest that they are all being run by idiots now or, in fact, no one with any semblance of a brain is in charge. The days of visionary CEOs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have given way to leaders whose only concern is the almighty dollar and forget about paying any attention to their customers. Ever since the days of automated phone answering systems, which claimed to be in response to customer needs instead of just another way to lessen service, layoff thousands of workers and save a buck, like we just couldn’t wait to press one for English, business has dumb downed service.

PLEASE feel free to share your own stories. These are just a few of mine:

Banks

As evidenced by the recent inquiry into all the charges being levied by banks customers are tired of all the charges, like paying for paper statements, promoted by all the big banks as their green motive, yet they send all kinds of junk mail out which goes against the grain of any real green movement. More frustrating for me is how pathetic their online message format is. My bank allows youo to login and send them a message, but their answers if I can call them that have nothing to do with the questions you ask. My bank also has the dumbest message system where you can’t respond to the messages they send. I recently got a response that was little more than boilerplate answers that had nothing to do with my question. Instead of being able to reply the only option is to start a whole new message, repeating everything you already said. Really dumb!

Expedia

For the last few weeks I’ve been researching flights trying to get the best fare. It unleashed a torrent of alerts from various online flight companies promising me everything from two-day sales to last-minute offers. Last week I suddenly learned that all the fares had jumped almost a hundred dollars in one day so I panicked to book my flights hopefully at the lower price. Expedia was the only one still showing the lower price so I tried to book the flights I needed. When I got to payment and put in my credit card information I got a message that there was an issue with my payment. I had just received an increase to my credit limit on my credit card so I had no idea why there was an issue. That is until I checked my credit card and saw that although my credit limit was increased my available credit was zero. I didn’t want to lose my flights so I changed my credit card info to my debit card info as was shown on the Expedia payment screen. Again I got that there was an issue. No idea why so I called Expedia and was informed that despite the fact that the field on the screen clearly showed debit/credit card they don’t accept debit cards. When I asked why they did it show debit cards she had no answer. Finally, it was solved by the credit card issue shown below.

MasterCard

My card is with CTC Bank and has an interesting history. I’ve had a good record with them ever since getting my first card with a two hundred dollar limit to now having one with thousands of dollars limit, not that I will ever use it at nineteen percent interest. It’s been hacked twice needing replacement cards, but other than that I’ve had no problems. Recently I got yet another letter from them saying my credit limit had again been increased by several thousand dollars. When my payment to Expedia was apparently declined I called MasterCard to question it. A very nice lady answered me and said she would check with a supervisor. After only a couple of minutes, she came back telling me that everything was fine now. Sure enough when I went back to Expedia this time my payment was processed okay. Relieved to say the least.

Dell

My history with Dell goes back almost fifteen years to when I bought my first laptop, a Vostro 1500, which lasted me far more years than expected, all without a single issue. Eventually, it became just too slow for the work I was doing so I decided that it was time to upgrade. I went to Dell’s site and built the model I wanted, but the price was more than I could afford some fourteen hundred dollars. That was when I first came into contact with Kyle Ross, a sales guy in Toronto. He came back and asked how was eight hundred dollars instead? Needless to say, I jumped on it and placed the order. Little did I know at the time that it was going to be the start of a long and agonizing journey with Dell. From techs coming to me to replace parts to getting replacement computers, all of which meant I had to transfer all my data and reinstall all my programs every time it took three laptops to finally get one that worked.

Fast forward to this year. After a horrible experience buying a Lenovo from Costco and returning it I went back to Dell, this time ordering an Inspiron, their latest model. The very first time I booted it up I couldn’t log in. That was just the start of a host of issues with this laptop, all of which cost me hours and hours of work and lost time working on my websites. Given my previous experience, I immediately asked for a replacement but got nowhere and they insisted on fixing it, to no avail. At one point they asked me to do a complete restore which meant I lost all my programs and had to reinstall everything. Although this did solve many of the earlier issues I still had keyboard errors where I would get characters that I hadn’t typed. Again I asked for a replacement but instead they sent a tech to replace the keyboard.

It took the tech at least two hours to take the laptop all apart to replace the keyboard. No sooner had he replace it than he had no power and no battery. After conferring with Dell he said he had no choice but to put the original keyboard back in. With the original keyboard back in he now had no power and no battery again and no clue as to why. The decision was to send the laptop to the Dell service depot in Toronto. After being without my computer for two weeks I finally got it back. The minute I started it up I again had the same keyboard issues. I then learned that the service depot had not replaced the defective keyboard and had done nothing but reassemble the laptop. Nothing was fixed and they just sent it back to me.

While I was struggling without a computer in decades I wrote out a long letter to Michael Dell giving him all of my history. When I got my laptop back I typed the letter, which turned out to be nineteen pages long. I sent it off not really expecting a response. In the meantime, Dell had decided to again send the tech to replace the keyboard and had refused to send me the replacement I asked for months ago. Although I had no choice but to agree with this, I said that if he replaced the keyboard and we again had no power or battery that was it. I was done. I wanted my money back and I would buy something else. The next day, coincidentally enough, I got a call from Dell corporate thanking me for my detailed letter to Michael Dell and offering to replace the laptop as I had been asking for months. I agreed but the takeaway on all of this is why would Dell choose to spend thousands of dollars trying to repair a dud computer, not to mention the countless hours I had lost, instead of just replacing it in the first place? Makes no sense to me.

Bluehost

This is a hosting company that I had previously used for over ten years. Although their prices were not competitive with the likes of GoDaddy their technical support was unmatched. They were simply brilliant and answered you very quickly. My first issue was when they suddenly with no approval started charging me five dollars a month to backup my sites, something that had always been included in the hosting fees.  Their hosting fees were also becoming less and less competitive approaching five times as much as other companies were charging. The final straw for me was when I contacted technical support and waited forever for somebody, they couldn’t even pronounce the name of the person who came on. Then it became obvious from their lack of English to how little they knew that I was now dealing with an offshore company instead of the brilliant techs I had before. I started looking for other hosting companies for my sites.

After a less than satisfactory experience with two other hosting companies I came back to BlueHost. I did do a lot of research on the company to find out why things had changed so much with them. I learned that there had been some changes in management who had significantly destroyed their previous excellent reputation. I tried to find someone in charge of BlueHost, who was now just one of the many companies they owned but couldn’t so I just wrote a detailed email to their press address. Surprisingly I got a call from someone in only a couple of days and we had a lengthy conversation about the good old days at BlueHost. He explained that his position was to restore this previous reputation ad he said he had management approval to do whatever was required. We’ll see.

ehost.com/domain.com

These were the two hosting companies I tried to use before returning to BlueHost, but they both proved equally inept. Their technical support was again offshore and in twenty or more chats I could not recognize a single name, pronounce it or have any idea whether it was male or female. It didn’t really matter because they were all pathetic. None of them had a clue how to solve the many issues I had after transferring my sites to them and my sites were all down for weeks.

 

The Corporate Manifesto

For years now the governments in democratic countries have been asleep at the wheel letting those who bought and paid for them change the very fabric of their economies. Corporations have no moral compass and it’s only about the almighty dollar. We’ve seen that recently with GM who have laid off thousands of workers despite being bailed out by the taxpayers when they were about to fail. The reaction of the market was to bump up their stock. Never mind the thousands of families who now face an uncertain future because of GM.

If we had moral politicians, which is certainly an oxymoron, decades ago, when corporations started destroying domestic jobs by shipping them to third world countries, many overseas, we would not be in the predicament we find ourselves in today. The manufacturing base has been destroyed. Good jobs are getting harder and harder to find. University grads are flipping burgers. Many people hold two or three jobs. Family structure has broken down. Violence is increasing because the primary cause of violence is poverty. Drug addiction and alcoholism are on the rise because people are searching for ways to cope with a dismal future. The one percent are getting more and more absurdly rich while the other ninety-nine percent are falling farther and farther behind. In many countries like the US the American Dream is quickly becoming the American Nightmare.

Is it too late to restore what once was? Maybe. What’s needed is a viral movement premised on the old Network movie, “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!” Right thinking people need to demand that their politicians listen and stop pandering to the wishes of the corporations and the rich. It must be made clear that failure to do so will mean their demise. They must follow the basic principles contained in a new corporate manifesto; namely:

  • Corporations must pay all applicable taxes in the countries they are operating in. They cannot establish fake Head Offices in countries with lower tax regulations just to avoid paying tax. “Use of tax havens results in a loss of tax revenues to countries which are not tax havens. Estimates of total amounts of taxes avoided vary, but the most credible have a range of US$100–250 billion per annum. In addition, capital held in tax havens can permanently leave the tax base (base erosion). Estimates of capital held in tax havens also vary: the most credible estimates are between $7–10 trillion (up to 10% of global assets). The harm of corporate tax havens has been particularly noted in developing nations, where the tax revenues are needed to build infrastructure“. *Wikipedia.
  • Corporations must carry out all manufacturing of products in the countries they sell the majority of their products in. This does not prevent corporations from seeking markets outside their primary country; however, they cannot establish out of country manufacturing until sales in a given country exceeds their domestic sales in total. Corporations can only establish out of country manufacturing based on their sales in any given country. Any violation of this mandate would impose a stiff penalty tariff of a given percentage on any products imported into the primary country. Also possibility would be to increase the tariff if the country in which products are manufactured does not have an acceptable record of human and worker rights.
  • Corporations must establish product support, such as warranty, technical support and customer service based on the volume of sales in the country in which they operate. For example, assume a telecom company earns all of their revenue in a country such as Canada. That would mean that all support services must be established in Canada. Overseas call centers, something that has occurred over the last few years, destroying thousands of good paying domestic jobs, would not be allowed until the sales in a specific country are a percentage of total sales in that country. Support services can still be established in other countries when sales are made in those countries, providing support in the local language. Using the telecom company example, and Pakistan as an example country, call centers could only be established in Pakistan if and when the telecom company has sales in Pakistan.

Thousands of new jobs will be created, offering people an actual future. Manufacturing faculties, like long abandoned steel plants, will be reopened, which will also restore all the secondary industries that serve those plants. The ripple effect when people have good paying, secure, long-term jobs will enormous. People who now have good jobs will have the confidence to spend money which will have a positive effect on every business and things like the Real Estate market. Crime, drug and alcohol addiction will be reduced when people believe they have an attainable future. University grads will be able to find good paying jobs.

In addition to this new corporate manifesto life could be made even better with universal health care, pharma-care and free education, as has been proven in numerous countries around the world. Dignity and hope would be restored to citizens in every country that adopts this manifesto.

Just one man’s humble opinion.

Lesson learned – a question of who to trust

Yesterday as I picked up a few essentials at Super Lake, bemoaning the fact that I had thirteen dollars left until my pensions come in at the end of the month and wondering how I was going to make it, and, yes, feeling sorry for myself, when I came out of the store I noticed a young girl standing just outside the entrance. She had a crude cardboard sign with English and Spanish scrawled on it saying “please help me. I need food for my baby”.

It’s a sad fact of life here that Mexicans are forced to beg. Kids are often trying to sell you something. Ladies sit outside places like Super Lake with a cup in their hands hoping you will give them a few pesos. The vast majority of Mexicans live in abject poverty.

As I came out I reached into my pocket and gave her the few coins I had planned for the bus. I couldn’t carry what I had on the bus so I was going to need my driver to come and get me, something I could ill afford.

As I stood outside waiting for him I watched person after person just ignores this girl, not even returning the hello she said to them. They saw her sign but just walked by her. As usual with Super Lake, there were no locals coming out because they can’t afford to shop there. I wondered if local folks would ignore a woman begging for food for her baby?

After a few minutes watching this I couldn’t take it anymore. I asked her to come back to the store with me to get some food for her baby. I told her I was not a rich American so I couldn’t get her very much but I would try. She got bread and some small jars of baby food and I treated her to some chocolate for herself. It was only a couple hundred pesos.

She was thrilled at this very small gesture. She told me her name was Melissa and she showed me a picture of her baby, Daniel Alexander. I gave her my card and told her that if she ever faced a day when she had no food to come to my place and I would feed her something. She couldn’t stop smiling and even helped me with my groceries when my driver arrived.

My point in telling this story is simply to encourage you to give when you can, especially if you have more money than you need. The locals are an admirable, warm, proud people, happy with little but when someone like Melissa needs our help please give. It will make you feel very good, as it did for me.

As that old radio program used to say, “And now for the rest of the story.” Oh, and this is a good one. If all you get out of it is how stupid I am, well, you are SO right.

First, Melissa called me yesterday and asked to meet me at Super Lake so I could buy her more food for her “baby”. I told her it wouldn’t be much because I don’t have it to give her but I would buy some for her. I said I would be there around 3:30 and we agreed to meet. She wasn’t there but called me later to tell me she was now at Super Lake and expected me to come back. I said no but told her if she came to my house I would give her a little money. Big mistake!

She showed up a while later with a friend in tow, no doubt because she didn’t want to be alone with a man in his apartment, regardless of the fact that I could be her grandfather. So be it. I understood. I fed both of them. Her friend and I went out on the terrace to have a smoke and Melissa asked where my broom was because she was going to do some cleaning for me for the money I gave her. Nice, I thought. Then she said they had to go because her “baby” was sick. We said our goodbyes.

Oh, read on. This gets a lot juicier. A little while later her friend came back alone. Needless to say, I wondered why. I thought she might have forgotten something. She then tells me that Mellissa had shown her my diamond ring and said she was going to sell it! Sure enough, I checked and it was gone! This was the thanks I got for helping her?

We called the police who showed up fairly quickly. They took all the information and then told me to call Uber to take us to the Chapala police station where they would meet us and then go to Melissa’s house together. When her friend and I arrived at the police station it was closed. No sight of the two officers that came to my apartment. An officer outside said we couldn’t do anything more tonight and we had to come back in the morning.

I figured that my thousand dollar ring would be sold by then so I convinced her friend to go to her house and confront Melissa to give back my ring or she could deal with the police tomorrow. She didn’t answer the door and when her friend called her on my driver’s phone so she wouldn’t recognize the number she hung up on her. Now the plan is to go to her house in the morning with her friend and the police to confront her to get my ring back. No doubt she has either sold the ring by then or will simply deny she stole it. The police believe her friend who Melissa was dumb enough to show the ring to and tell her she was going to sell it.

We gave her the chance tonight to just give my ring back and be done with it. No police. No charges. No possible jail time, but she refused.

The bad part of my story is how stupid I was to trust this girl. It turns out she has five children, all of whom have been taken away from her. For me, as dumb as I know I was to trust her and try to help her, the good part is that I know her friend could have simply gone home and forgotten about it. Instead, she came back to my place to tell me what happened and then she spent hours with me dealing with the police, going to Chapala, confronting Melissa, and now she’s doing it all again tomorrow.

I have hesitated to name her until this is hopefully over and maybe I get my ring back, but she works at Super Lake and I hope to be able to disclose this amazingly honest girl’s name so you can tell her she did the right thing when you see her.

I pray that tomorrow will bring a better ending to this story. Even if she hasn’t already sold my ring and gives it back I don’t know how things work here in Mexico. Will she still be charged with theft now that the police are involved? Do I have the right to stop her being charged if I get the ring back? Do I even want to? She’s clearly a thief and I don’t want her doing this to anyone else. I am trying to warn anyone who sees her begging at Super Lake to avoid her like the plague.

Live and learn.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse….

After the police station was closed last night my driver, Salvador, suggested we go to the police station at 8:30 when it opened today. I handed my phone to her friend to make arrangements to pick her up this morning. When she hung up I asked what time he was picking her up and she said 8:00 o’clock. I asked if she had given him her address and she said yes.

This morning I’m anxiously waiting for them to show up at my place. It gets later and later and she has to be at work at Super Lake at 10:00 so I begin to panic. I text Salvador asking where they are? He calls and tells me he is in Chapala, knows nothing about picking her up and doesn’t know where she lives. By now, with all this total screw-up, Melissa has had plenty of time to sell my ring. The police no doubt wonder where we are and drop the case.

A very bittersweet end and a huge loss for me. A thief gets away with it. and will no doubt do it again? For me, my trust is gone. Never again will I try to help a local. Expensive lesson learned.

A final note. Just when I thought Melissa’s “friend” was so wonderfully honest and was being so helpful, she told me she worked at Super Lake and was working 10:00 until 2:00. My very confused driver, Salvador, and I went to Super Lake to see if Estafan could come with us to the police at 2:00 when she finished work. 

Yup, you guessed it. She doesn’t work at Super Lake. Although I am still absurdly confused as to why she came back to tell me that Melissa had stolen my ring, I guess she was in on it from the start. Maybe she came back to see if she could steal something else. I’ll never understand all this. I’m out my ring and there’s no hope I’ll ever get it back And the little thief gets away with it.

If you are at Super Lake and see a girl holding a sign begging for food for her “baby” rip the sign out of her hands and tell her to scram!

For the death of me

Back in April of this year, after the love of my life, Elba, and I returned from what can only be described as a nightmare of a trip to Canada, where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, I thought I was going to get to actually realize my dreams of life in Mexico. I could not have been more wrong.

Maybe I was blinded by love, or, like most men, just clueless, but I knew something was wrong the day we got back.

The plan for months had been to find a place to live together because they had increased the rent on where we were living by almost sixty percent and we could not afford that. We had looked at a couple of places before our trip but hadn’t found anything suitable for us. Elba had an apartment in Guadalajara which had turned into a nightmare for her when her ex-husband had not paid the mortgage as he had agreed to in the divorce agreement for twenty years! Not only that, but the minute he signed their divorce agreement he had divested himself of all assets, even including his cell phone. She had no chance of getting any money out of him.

Her original plan was to move in with me and give her apartment to her son, Kevin and his girlfriend, partly because in the divorce agreement the ownership of the apartment had gone to Kevin and her other son, Jonathan, with the agreement that she could live there. Making matters all the worse she had just spent twenty thousand pesos repairing her apartment from a water leak above her, for which she got no compensation from anyone. Now she learns that she owes over three hundred thousand pesos or she would be evicted. Even though it was a dump of a place in a very bad neighborhood I advised her to sell quickly, pay off the debt and move on. Instead she hired a lawyer at great expense to sue her ex. I told her she had zero chance of getting a dime out of him so not to waste her money on a lawyer. She paid no attention to me.

The day we got back the plan was to hurry up and find a place to live because we were out of La Floresta at the end of April. The first hints that something was wrong were two things. First, she told me she wasn’t coming back to Ajijic because she had yet another meeting with her lawyer the next morning. When I protested, again telling her she was wasting her time and money, she told me to go ahead and find a place on my own. I told her that I would never agree to rent a place that she hadn’t seen first. I guess it was our language difficulty because what she meant was to find a place literally “on my own”. The first sign that things were not as I believed.

She said she was still coming to Ajijic on Monday night with Jonathan, as usual, but she would be coming to our apartment early. I had gone to play pool with Jonathan as usual and when I came home she had some suitcases packed. When I asked why, she lied and told me that because we were going to get a smaller apartment she needed to get rid of some of her clothes and her many shoes. Made a little sense to me so I bought it.

That night at Adelita’s where we had met and spent so many wonderful nights for six months now, including the night people thought I had proposed to her when all I was doing was giving her a better ring, things were very different. Normally we sat together and were very affectionate with each other, kissing and hugging. It was why so many people said we were so much in love. It was nice.

This night, first she sat on the other side of the table from me, for the first time. Not good. Then when we danced, which wasn’t often that night, instead of laughing, smiling and dancing together better than anyone, she kept looking at the floor, not meeting eyes with me. Even when we went for a smoke, as only she and I did, and was how we first met, she said she was fine when I asked her if something was wrong. The capper was that I had assumed she was coming back to stay at our apartment so we could get to work finding a new place to live. Instead she told me she was going back to her place to, again, meet with her lawyer. This was the very first time I sensed she was lying to me, possibly about everything. In our hours and hours of talking about relationships she had always agreed that honesty was crucial, along with trust and unconditional love. I thought we had it all. She constantly told me she loved me and that she had never been happier in her entire life. I felt the same way.

Despite praying that none of this was true my senses told me otherwise. I knew something was very wrong but I had no clue what was going on. I had hoped that we were going to talk when she came back to our place after Adelita’s which didn’t happen. Then she sent me a text message that nearly destroyed me.

A simple text message, in Spanish, saying she was, ”terminating our relationship”. No explanation why. Naturally I called her, admittedly crying my eyes out, and asked her why was she doing this? I begged her to talk to me, hoping that there was just some misunderstanding that we could get past. She agreed to come and talk so I was hopeful.

Instead the next day she sent a series of very cruel text messages talking about age difference, our language difficulties and even my ED. Our age difference had never been an issue and we had talked for hours on end, only once and a while needing our translation on our phones when things got complicated. She had always understood my ED was a result of my diabetes and she had even come with me to the doctor who had discovered I had very low testosterone levels, for which he had prescribed medication. Despite my ED our sex life had been incredible. She was a typical passionate Latin woman and I never failed to satisfy her. Making our sex life even more magical was how much we loved each other. Now she refused to tell me why all of this suddenly meant nothing to her and refused to even talk to me.

She said she wanted to come and get the rest of her stuff and did say she wanted to talk to me to explain why she had ended our relationship, but there was no sign she wanted to make up, although she did say she might be making the biggest mistake of her life. I just couldn’t face the thought of watching her taking all her stuff and leaving me, so instead my friend Jack took me on a drive to the other side of the lake while Elba got all her things.

Soon I fell into the worst depression of my life. I couldn’t stop sobbing and crying. I had gone from feeling on top of the world because of how wonderful she treated me. How she always said how handsome I was when we got dressed to go out. How great it was when I cooked for her and we ate together. How everywhere we went was such a joy. How we lived together as happy man and wife. I remember going on this crazy ride at the Plaza which nearly killed us. It was so fast. Stopping at the top of the Ferris wheel, looking out over Ajijic. It was all so romantic. We had sat down on a bench at the Malecon one night and just sat there in silence, enjoying each other’s company. So much in love.

A huge part of our relationship had been her family. I knew Jonathan before I met her and he seemed very happy with me, even calling me his “new Dad”. At Christmas I went to Guadalajara and met her other son, Kevin and his girlfriend, Sarita. He also said he liked his new Dad. Over Christmas we had visited so many of her family, especially her mother who I was very nervous to meet, but she also told Elba she liked me, which was a huge relief. Her entire family, which was huge, all treated me so well. Her brother had even said “welcome to the family” when I met him.

A big part of meeting her family was my own family situation. I hadn’t spoken to my son and daughter in years. No idea why they cut me out of their lives. I have five grandchildren, four of whom I had never even met. I had lost both my parents and was feeling so very alone. Her family, especially Kevin and Jonathan, made me whole again. I was part of a new family now and I loved every minute of it. When we went to a family birthday a while later her sister, Gloria, chided her as to why we weren’t already married. I didn’t know that the culture here in Mexico was after you proposed you were supposed to get married right away. That had always been fine for me but Elba was never so sure. Now I saw why.

Now that she had ended our relationship with a simple text message it was a very dark time for me. The worst of my life. I had faced challenges before but I was a fighter and always refused to let things get me down. Many people in my life, on learning what I had been through, expressed amazement that I was still hanging on and was so optimistic despite everything being so negative. For the first time I felt totally worthless and saw no point in going on. My thoughts turned to how I would end my life. I thought of swimming out in the lake, far enough that I could not make it back, but drowning seemed like a painful way to go. I started researching if an insulin overdose could kill me, but it was inconclusive.

Luckily, I guess at the time, two friends intervened when they learned how desperate I was. Don and Violeta. They both chatted with me online telling me that I wasn’t worthless and I had many friends who would miss me. They managed to convince me of the old adage that time heals all wounds and gave me hope. I only got over my severe depression thanks to them.
Fast forward to mid-October. Despite months of grief with my new idiot landlord, who refused to do much needed repairs, left me with no hot water for days on end and just made living here pure hell, I survived. It was difficult not being able to go to Adelita’s which had been such a big part of my social life, but I knew I could not face seeing Elba. That was made all the worse when she and Don hooked up. He had always told me that he had a thing for her but knew she loved me so he had stayed away from any thoughts of being with her. As soon as he learned she had broken up with me he moved in. Now the thought of seeing them together made going to Adelita’s even more impossible.

Not only Adelita’s was a problem. Everywhere I went in town just brought back memories of being with Elba, the wonderful times we had and the fact that it was all over now. Broke my heart. I wandered around on the verge of tears everywhere.

A new club had opened in town, The Spotlight Club, and I started working with the owner, Mark Rome, promoting the club by doing videos and taking photos of the bands that were playing there and posting them on my website. He was most appreciative and told me I was welcome in the club anytime. Although I didn’t get a table and spent all my time working, it was nice to get out of the apartment once in a while. One night when I wasn’t working I got to dance the whole night, something I hadn’t done in months.

Then yet another problem arose. When I came back in April I had managed to see my nurse and get six months of my critical diabetic medications. Now I was running out of them and had no clue how to get more. My blood sugar levels were hovering in dangerous territory at thirty, which put me at risk of a heart attack, stroke or lapsing into a diabetic coma. Because I live alone no one would find me until it was too late.

The final blow was when I learned I had only twenty-eight dollars in the bank and a lot of month still to go. I admit that I had lost track of my finances a little, with purchases from Amazon for stuff I needed, but also because of some fraudulent charges from my hosting company, who charged me to renew hosting on sites that were long dead and not to be renewed.

With everything piling in on me I was very depressed. About a month before this I had adopted my best buddy, Rollie, who was so much fun and had made me feel less alone. One fateful night I had been drinking far too much, something I never did, plus I hadn’t eaten all day. I was chatting with my friend, Christine, who sensed that I was in real trouble. She sent over a doctor and two of her colleagues who managed to talk me down. The doctor said she would get me financial help for food, even offering me to do some website work for them. When I told her they had threatened to take Rollie from me she said she would talk to them and make them understand that this would be the worst time to take him from me.

The next morning, without warning, they came and took him from me. It broke my heart. The doctor who had made so many promises suddenly disappeared on me so there went the help. Thanks to Christine I got a call from John Kelly, the President of the Canadian Legion here in Chapala. We had a long talk in which he offered to take me to what’s called Seguro Popular where I could get my meds. We also talked about them giving me a loan to help me through these tough times. I had some renewed hope thanks to him.

John took me to their office in Chapala to apply; however, I didn’t know that they wanted everything but your first born child to apply. I didn’t even take my passport, so the trip was a waste. We did get a list of what they needed so I spent the next few days copying all the documents they wanted. That first day we went to their office I had met a guy who helps people apply. He picked me up and off we went to the office again. Although we got through the application process there was no doctor available to see me. He said he would go there first thing in the morning to see if he could get me an appointment.

A couple of days later he phoned me in a bit of a panic to say a doctor could see me that day. We arrived at about nine in the morning and he left me there to check-in. It turned out my appointment wasn’t until noon so I wandered off to get a coffee somewhere. When I came back for my appointment the doctor took one look at my list of medications and said they couldn’t help me. Came as quite the shock, of course.

So now I faced having no medications critical to my health. I have been trying desperately to get my medications renewed in Canada, which will need the help of my nurse who has to agree to renew my prescriptions without seeing me, of course. A friend back in Canada has offered to pick them up for me and ship them to me. A lot to ask but it is my only option other than dying.
Even if I somehow solve my dilemma with my meds I face yet another challenge soon. This month I went through hell when two of my pensions were not deposited on time. Umpteen emails back and forth with my MP and my bank manager and I finally got them, just in time or I would have starved. This brought to light the fact that I will soon lose what’s called the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) which is the pension you receive when your standard government pensions aren’t considered enough to live on. The problem is that it stops after you have been out of the country more than six months, which I have. The GIS is almost five hundred dollars a month, or about a third of my limited income, so surviving without it is almost impossible. My pensions are in the lowly Canadian dollar so what I get is tough enough to live on, let alone when I lose the GIS.

So, here’s a recap of my current situation.

  • If I can’t get my meds from Canada it will all be academic because I will die. Even if by some miracle I do manage to get them renewed this time I will face the same situation again in six months,
  • Due to my current health situation I have been too disabled to go anywhere. My peripheral neuropathy in my feet makes walking so painful. Without my meds to control my blood sugars this is only going to get worse,
  • When I faced all this depression I posted for some help on Facebook. The result was a slew of attacks, like “suck it up”, “stop whining”, “stop posting” and “grow up”. People obviously don’t have a clue how their cruel comments hurt someone who is already suicidal,
  • The website business I have worked so hard on for a year and a half has so far not earned me a dime and just recently I barely managed to pay for hosting. When I first came back in April I knew that I would be losing one of my pensions in six months, so I hoped to replace this with advertising revenue from my website.

To get paying clients I always knew that I needed someone to call on potential clients. My Spanish isn’t good enough for that so I have been trying to find someone to work with me. Elba was going to be my Sales Director but all that fell apart when she dumped me. To date I have interviewed seven women, none of whom have understood the opportunity to make a lot of money.

  • Before I left Canada they had discovered a bone spur in my right shoulder, probably because of my decades of playing tennis, squash and racquetball. The specialist in Belleville gave me a cortisone shot, hoping to avoid surgery, but it did nothing. Given the short time I had before leaving for Mexico and the lengthy delays for surgery I couldn’t do anything before leaving. I hoped that this type of surgery was cheap here and I could get it done. Quite obviously there hasn’t been any money for surgery so I still suffer with the pain.
  • Although things have gotten a little better with my apartment, after months of pure hell, with no hot water for days on end, an infestation of ants and cockroaches, no electricity, no internet, no repairs done for months until I threatened not to pay the rent and dealing with an asshole landlord, full of excuses and telling me this wasn’t a “hotel”. Now the manager of the new restaurant, which is being converted from the main part of the house, has proven to be more helpful than my landlord, but my lease is up at the end of April. The new manager has already asked me if I would be agreeable to paying eight thousand a month instead of the current five thousand, so I may well be out of here. Right now it is virtually impossible to find an affordable apartment anywhere in the area. Someone suggested a room in Chapala but it was $450 USD a month just for a room. Not possible, especially after I have lost the GIS. I may well end up homeless.
  • Not being one to give up easily I tried to start a fund raising campaign, first to help with my urgent needs. Not only my meds but I also have about forty thousand pesos in urgent dental work I need. Back in Canada I lost a crown I’d had for thirty years and they wanted a thousand dollars to replace it. Cheaper here but still a lot of money I don’t have.

My goal was to raise a hundred million dollars. Maybe sounds absurd but I had seen so many posts on Facebook that had been viewed by sixty and seventy million people, many of whom had commented. I wondered if those same people were asked to donate just a single dollar would anyone respond. It was worth a try.

Mexico is a great country but there are so many needs, from education to housing to clean water to good paying jobs. I had shared a lot of ideas with my former good friend, Jack, about things like building a solar panel manufacturing plant, hydroponics and building social housing. If I did manage to actually raise a hundred million dollars just think what I could do for the people here. It was dream.

After spending hours developing my campaign on GoFundMe I learned that their minimum donation was five dollars, so there went all that work down the drain. I connected with yet another fund raising site, Ketto, who turned out to be an equal disaster. After again submitting my campaign details they rejected the campaign because, believe it or not, the “recipient was not an Indian”. Seriously?

Still not willing to give up I’ve been designing my own website, called, surprisingly enough, justadollar.com.mx. The site is almost ready, but as is typical in Riberas where I live, we haven’t had internet for two days now, so the site is not finished. I have no idea how I am going to market the site but I’m hoping that friends around the world will have enough faith in me to get the ball rolling by donating just a dollar. I hope that as soon as people see that others are donating that they will jump on board. Who knows? I can only try at this point.

  • In terms of emotional happiness, despite the tragedy of Elba I am still a hopeless romantic and always have been. It took me several months to even start getting over Elba, which was made all the worse because she refused to answer me when I texted her about anything, at one point telling me to “just disappear from her life”. Nice. More war wounds thanks to her cruelty. There are so many gorgeous women here in Mexico. It’s hard to ignore them. One day when I was walking Rollie I saw this absolute vision of a woman coming towards us. Thanks mostly to Rollie we got to chatting. Before long I had asked her she liked to dance and when she said she did I asked her if she wanted to come to Adelita’s the following Monday. To my considerable surprise she agreed. We had a great night together dancing and soon I hoped for more, but it was not to be. She just wanted to be the dreaded “friends”.

Probably because I am hardly what you would call good company in the state I’m in, both physically and mentally, I haven’t found that special woman. I’ve come close chatting with some women on Facebook but it never gets to meeting each other. Without a special woman, or a special dog anymore either, to share my life I am one lonely guy. In my whole life I’ve never once enjoyed living alone and it’s no different now, despite all the romance challenges.

  • As has been discussed a lot lately on Facebook the Christmas season is a particularly tough time for people who are alone. Many have strong and emotional memories of previous seasons spent with, most importantly, family, and friends. I remember many a Christmas dinner when someone would invite a friend who was going to be alone on Christmas. I’m sure they appreciated it a great deal. Who knows? Maybe some of them managed to avoid the suicidal thoughts so prevalent on this, the worst day of the year for suicides.
    I know all too well how this feels. Even in Panama and Ecuador I had never been alone on Christmas. Last year of course I spent Christmas with Elba’s entire family so it was wonderful. They were all my new family and made the Christmas season so very special.

I had also been planning and shopping for weeks to get Elba special and meaningful Christmas gifts. Let’s just say I burned my credit card badly. I got her an Amazon Fire HD 10 which had only just came out in the US and would not be available in Mexico probably for years. I got her a beautiful purse at LCS. I got her a new gold colored case for her cell phone and a personalized case for it, with Elba monogrammed on it. I got her some beautiful jewelry showing just how much I loved her. I got her a gorgeous long dress to wear on New Year’s. I also got her a special little gift I can’t disclose other than to say I bought it at El Dildoria. I’m sure you can figure out what it was. I also bought her a silver scorpion anklet. She loved everything, although she ended up returning her engagement ring, her watch and a bunch of the jewelry when she dumped me. She kept the tablet, the cell phone case and the anklet.

So, this year I am truly alone. For whatever reasons I’ve lost most of the friends I made here. Jack, who I lived above at La Floresta and who spent a lot time with Elba and I with morning coffee and late night drinks, attacked me brutally on Facebook after I posted something on my personal website, garycjones.ca, which I’ve had for ten years. It’s a diary of sorts, done mostly if my family ever showed any interest in me. He told me to “stop f*cking posting” as though I was suddenly somehow accountable to him now for my own website. Such arrogance! After I told him I was never going to answer to him that was the end of our friendship. I’ve had to block him on Facebook because of the mean things he continued to post.

The same thing happened with my dear friend, Francis. I met him over the internet before I even came here and he was instrumental in getting me the apartment in La Floresta. He went over and met my landlord, toured the place and took photos for me. More importantly he recommended I take the place and make a deposit, which I did. When I arrived and saw the place I was even more impressed with it. I could not have been happier with everything at that point.

Over the course of the next few months Francis and his wife, Anastasia, took me everywhere, introducing me to a host of people who would become good friends. I thought. Francis started giving me advice about my websites which was welcomed since he had been here since 2010, but he treated me like I hadn’t been building websites for some thirty years or hadn’t launched city portal sites before in both Panama and Ecuador. He had never built a website, ever. I’ll never know what I said or did but he sent me an email saying that he was “done with me. Period”. I haven’t spoken to him since and he stopped sending me his weekly newsletter to post on my site. If you check out my site you’ll see that I have created my own events calendar, called Encore, plus I have a section called Ajijic Now devoted to promotion of local clubs and bands. I built it when I started working with Mark of The Spotlight Club. It was going very well until my health prevented me from going out to the venues. This year I missed the entire fiesta season that I so thoroughly enjoyed last year.

Some folks have suggested returning to Canada to get my meds. Although, yes, that would solve that problem, there are a host of reasons I can’t do that. First and foremost I can’t pay for my flights, obviously. Second, I have nowhere to live. I overstayed my welcome at the group home, so that’s not an option. Third, although yet another long story, I no longer have my laptop computer. I now have a desktop computer and large monitor which I obviously couldn’t take with me. Assuming I’m coming back I would need to leave it here and do without a computer while I was in Canada.

The biggest issue with this is whether or not I plan to come back to Mexico. Even with everything that’s going on I would hate to give up on my dream of living out my life in Mexico. I just have too much invested in living here. My business would be gone and I know, despite the many challenges, I would forever regret leaving Mexico.

With the dreaded Christmas season fast approaching the thoughts of major depression are front and center. As hard as I try to find a glimmer of hope in anything I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Bad as things are right now I think that they are only going to get even worse.

Back in October things were so bad that I wrote up an agreement with my friend, Christine, at the time to dispose of all my things. Knowing what an asshole my landlord was I also wrote up an inventory list of the things that were mine to avoid any problems for Christine. Eventually he signed it without even looking at it and I don’t trust him. Depending on how I go, whether because of my health or intentionally, I can see him locking the doors and claiming everything here is his. True to the way my life has been Christine has joined the chorus of people who’ve dropped me and I haven’t heard from her in weeks. My friends from Canada, Arnie and Barb, who are about the only ones I have left here, have agreed to handle things in the event of my demise.

One invaluable lesson I’ve learned through all of this is that all those posts on Facebook about who your true friends are and who are not has become painfully clear to me. People I honestly believed were good friends who would support me instead either attacked me or just ignored me. Virtually no one, with the exception of a couple of friends back in BC who wished me well, showed one iota of concern that I was going to end my life. Not one. Some folks on Facebook who I had never met were more supportive, telling me not to give up.

Family were non-existent, of course. My son, Chris, had blocked me on Facebook years ago, for whatever reason. My daughter, Heather, hasn’t spoken to me in twenty-five years so I highly doubt she bothers to follow me on Facebook or my personal site. Only my darling Mackenzie, one of my son’s daughters have ever had anything to do with me and even she didn’t seem to care. My other son, Andrew, originally promised to send me a photo of him and Chris for a page I was doing on family, but he dropped me just as fast. I don’t know if he has ever read anything on my site about his mother or him. I doubt it.

Okay, so I’m gone. Who gives a rat’s ass? In all honesty I think it will be that old adage if you think you will be missed stick your finger in a bucket of water then pull it out and see what difference it makes. There you go. Nothing. Like most people I’ve always wanted to make a mark in my life and do something to make the world a better place. Not a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs kind of thing. Just something to be remembered by.

At many stages in my life I thought I had finally discovered it. Decades ago I invented what today we call the “cloud”. I had assembled a group of very important partners who all agreed to the concept and were willing to invest heavily in it, but we needed Microsoft to be part of the plan. They refused, destroying the entire idea. Naturally years later they announced the exact concept I had proposed to them. My ship had sailed without me.

Throughout my life I’ve always worked very hard and had lots of really good business ideas. Many people have said I was always just too far ahead of my time. That proved to be very true when many of my ideas became reality years later, such as the cloud. I can only imagine how different my life would be today if I had made millions off these ideas at the time. All I know is that I sure would not be in the mess I’m in today, consumed with thoughts of ending it all just to relieve the pain I’m in. Maybe with all that money I wold have just had other issues but I highly doubt that having money would have turned to thoughts of ending it all.

So, what will Christmas Day bring? I’ve realized I’m too much of a coward to swim out in the lake or jump in front of a bus. With my luck someone would rescue me in the lake or the bus wouldn’t kill me and just put me in traction in a hospital I can’t afford. No guarantees with either. My thoughts right now are to tell the pharmacist I am having trouble sleeping and get some pills. You don’t need to see a doctor here to get medicines other than opioids, so that might work. At least I get to decide when and how I go. Peacefully.

Unless something changes dramatically in the next few days to give me hope I don’t see any other options. I’ve been working furiously on my fund raising site, www.JustADollar.com.mx, in the hopes that people will donate, literally, just a dollar to save me and allow me to go on. Here’s hoping that works.

 

 

 

 

THE END, literally.

Leaving a mark after you’re gone.



Everyone likes to believe that they somehow left their mark on the world. Some people certainly deserve it, like Einstein, Lincoln, Mandela, Mother Teresa and many more, all of whom had a huge impact on the peoples of the world. Others like Hitler, Stalin, Bin Laden, Manson and many more left their mark because they were such despicable people.

Common folk like me were never famous for anything and the mark they leave is minimal in a worldly sense. They hope, as I do, that they have had a positive effect on family and friends. In my case this isn’t true. My family have abandoned me in a time of urgent need. My children, Chris and Heather, disconnected with me years ago for reasons I have never understood. I only chat with one of my grandchildren, Mackenzie, who doesn’t chat with me very often. There is much I would like to share with her to help her to avoid the mistakes I’ve made, but she’s not interested.

Being a thoughtful and supposedly more intelligent person than most, I have always studied the crazy things that go on in the world and formed opinions. Never in my life have I felt that world is crazier than now. All common sense has disappeared and incredibly stupid things happen more and more every day. This has all left to what I am calling my manifesto covering several different topics. It’s certainly not all inclusive because that would be a book. The basic reason for this manifesto is that I am close to death. Complicated circumstances have left me without my critical diabetic medications for more than a month now. My blood sugars are hovering around an incredibly dangerous level of thirty so I am at great risk of lapsing into a coma and dying. I hope no one believes that I just gave up because I have been trying everything possible to get my meds, but failed. So be it.

So here’s my manifesto. At least I hope it gets people talking.

By Gary C Jones, Canadian Citizen, November 2018

BACKGROUND

The world has often been a crazy and cruel place. Decisions made by leaders often seem totally lacking common sense and will do more harm than good. Just one example would be the invasion of Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction which, in fact, never existed. Good people lost their lives in a failed war and today that country is in even worse shape than before the invasion.

THE GOAL HERE IS TO PROPOSE COMMON SENSE SOLUTIONS

  • In this document I just propose what I consider to be common sense solutions, but they are more for debate and input from other clear-thinking people.
  • Obviously open to any intelligent debate; however, I will not accept or tolerate any hate speech, lies, political promotion or insults to others. Always be respectful to others or you will lose the privilege of posting your thoughts.
  • I am not supporting any political party anywhere in the world, primarily because no party offers what I consider a common sense platform. Also, the very structure of political parties in the free world is so corrupted by money and influence that any claims of civility are fraudulent.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Animal Rights  
Crime and Punishment  
Education  
Environmental Regulations  
Equality  
Government  
Guns  
Healthcare  
Housing  
Immigration  
Indigenous People  
Military  
Personal Identification  
Seniors  
Sex Workers  
Taxes  
Voting  
Workers’ Rights  

ANIMAL RIGHTS 

Hunting simply for sport is banned. Killing any endangered species would an automatic twenty thousand dollar fine and one year in jail. Poaching, for example, rhinos for their tusks, would be an automatic fifty thousand dollar fine and five years in jail.

Domestic animal abuse of any kind would carry an automatic ten thousand dollar fine and a minimum one year in jail. Any animal threatened with abuse will be confiscated.

This includes commercial production such as puppy farms, chicken farms, breeding companies, and any company caring for animals of any type in any manner.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT 

For time immemorial crime has existed. Study after study states that for the most part money crimes exist because people have no other choice. They cannot survive on what little they earn and they have to turn to crime to make more money.

Violent crime on the other hand has deep psychological factors. What causes it? Humans being the way we are, gives us not just psychological reasons as to why we turn to crime but also societal. Psychological can be anything from complete parental neglect to just being brought up in a twisted environment, not being taught the rules of the world or being psychologically damaged from mistreatment.

Statistics on imprisonment clearly show that it is not an effective solution to combat crime. Recidivism rates remain high despite attempts to change the prison environment. Punishment has been replace by treatment in an attempt to change the person’s behavior for the better.It has become clear that the right treatment is a more effective option. Giving prisoners the right to work, learn, and feel worthwhile provides a much better chance for them to be released back into the community with more skills and a better attitude to better fit into the community.

Another factor in imprisonment is the cost. In many countries, especially the United States, where much of the prisons have been turned over to for profit businesses, the cost to imprison far exceeds the cost to rehabilitate them in society. They could be provided with housing, work and a decent income at less cost than to imprison them.

Punishment for a crime should entail a loss of freedoms. Prisoners are limited to the facility they are in. Prisoners cannot enjoy the luxuries they had when they were free, like movies, television, entertainment and relationships. They can still be provided with the necessities of life, like food, shelter and the ability to do paid work, particularly with training to do work they enjoy and can continue to do when they are released.

There must be punishment that fits the crime. The Victorian era where people were hanged for being homosexual are long over. There needs to be a clear definition of what is crime, for example, it is not a crime to hold different political or religious views.

In any case where a gun has been used an automatic five years is added to the sentence.

EDUCATION 

All public education through universities and trade schools would be provided regardless of income. Charter schools would continue to operate for those who can afford them.

Standards of education would be established that meet or exceed any private school standards and teachers would be paid on performance. Tenure would be eliminated.

ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS 

CLEAN AIR AND CLEAN WATER ARE DECLARED TO BE BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS

Any persons or companies found to be polluting the air or waters will be held criminally responsible for cleanup. They are required to demonstrate that they are using every available technology to limit or erase any environmental damage. If no effective solution is available their activities will be prohibited.

Any company producing any consumer product deemed harmful to the environment will be given a limited period of time to find alternative safe products, failing which the production of these products will be prohibited. Examples would be non-biodegradable plastics.

Any company proposing any process that is potentially threatening to the environment must post a bond equal to the costs of cleanup. They must also clearly demonstrate that they are employing every possible technology to minimize any potential harm to the environment. This would include projects such as pipelines, mining, transportation, manufacturing plants and off-shore drilling.

EQUALITY 

All persons are treated equal regardless of color, creed, country of origin, sexual preference, gender, religion or political beliefs.

This applies in all situations. Examples would be equal pay for work of equal value, the right to vote, access to housing, medical care, education, the right to marry including equal benefits, legal rights including justice, freedom of expression, free speech and equal opportunities to earn a living wage. Those seeking asylum for legitimate reasons of threats and violence are granted.

GOVERNMENT 

A group of people that governs a community or unit. It sets and administers public policy and exercises executive, political and sovereign power through customs, institutions, and laws within a state. A government can be classified into many types–democracy, republic, monarchy, aristocracy, and dictatorship are just a few.In the US with the passing of the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution the payment of income tax first became permanent to finance the government. Before that any form of taxation on income was only to pay for specific things, such as the cost of wars.

As has often been quoted, a democracy is supposed to be, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, back in November, 1863, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people’. This rarely true today.

This principle has been decimated by the way elections are run today by the influence of money, interference by the elite, lobbyists, the enormous costs of running for election, and even the ills of social media. The sheer elongated and expensive campaigns make it impossible for all but the rich to run.

Even when the various campaigns at all levels are over the results often lead to totally impotent legislatures, with more time spent in political squabbles than in actually governing.

It’s time for a radically different form of government that respects the true “will of the people”.

First, campaigns will be limited to sixty days before Election Day. Any televised debates can only take place during this time period. Incumbents for any office must resign prior to this sixty day period to run their campaigns.All donations must be made anonymously and are limited to a hundred dollars or equivalent currency in the specific country. Corporations are exempted from donating. Executives of any corporation are only allowed to donate personally like everybody else, so they will not have any undue influence on the outcome.

Lobbyists of any kind are deemed to be illegal, thereby further reducing the influence of special interest groups.

Under previously stated freedom of expression any political party may be formed but it will not be recognized until it has a minimum of one hundred thousand members or a specific percentage of the country’s population, as applicable. Once officially recognized the government will fund an office and allow funding based on a specific dollar amount based on membership.

Term limits of any kind will be abolished. If the electorate is satisfied with the job that’s being done there is no reason to arbitrarily end the term. This does not mean that an elected official cannot be terminated for illegal acts or social impropriety such as sexual abuse; however, any such claims must first be proven in a court of law.

All representation is by popular vote only. Any artificial system such as the Electoral College in the US are abolished.

Any legislation entered into law is subject to the same legal right to challenge and will be subject to the ruling by the courts, ultimately to the Supreme Court level.

No governing authority has the right to enforce executive orders of any kind without the express authority of the applicable governing body.

GUNS 

The issue here is not whether to allow or ban guns. Those in favor cite the need for personal protection, to participate in the popular sport of target shooting and for hunting.

None of these require assault rifles and these would be banned, including all forms of rapid fire bullets, for anyone except the military. Anyone caught in possession of any assault weapon would face an automatic two thousand dollar fine and a two year federal prison term. Anyone caught committing a crime with an assault weapon would have an automatic five year term attended to their sentence.

Personal protection firearms and hunting rifles would require registration and a criminal record check, plus a thirty day waiting period.

HEALTH CARE 

Medicine – all prescribed medicines would be provided through a national Pharmacare program with prices established by the national government.Medical Care – all doctor, clinic, specialist, hospital, assisted living would be provided through a national private insurance program paid into equally by employees and employers, similar to unemployment insurance and pensions. Self-employed persons would contribute on in an equal manner.

The single payer system would require a payment based on income. All persons under a preset minimum annual income would not pay for care.

Funerals would be provided for anyone based on minimum income. All persons under a preset minimum annual income would not be required to pay for a basic funeral.

HOUSING 

Government/Private organizations would be established to build public housing at below market rents and rent controlled. These communities would be created under the Land Trust concept on government owned or donated land. Prices would not reflect any ownership of the land; however, participants could do a rent to own or purchase outright with a vested interest in the units.

IMMIGRATION 

First, any person currently classified as “undocumented” can apply online, with help from a government worker conversant in their native language if necessary, to become a citizen of the country. They are required to make available all forms of identification from their native country, such as passports, identification documents, driver’s licenses and so on, including medical reports. They must declare any criminal record under threat of deportation if they lie. Once approved they obtain equal rights and obligations of citizens by birthright.

All countries will remove any physical impediments to entering their countries, for example, the existing wall between the US and Mexico would be torn down. Persons entering the country by any means would be granted a temporary visa and be required to go through the immigration procedure within a set period of time and before their visa expires.

As is the case with current permanent visa applications in many countries the applicant must demonstrate that they have sufficient resources to live without assistance. They must demonstrate that they have sufficient skills to find work. They may also have a domestic sponsor.

Immigrants who are fleeing unacceptable conditions in their native country, such as escaping war or the threat of death, may apply for a special short-term visa, one which will require assistance with housing, medical needs, access to education for their children, language training and assistance finding work. This support will be limited to one year and the applicant must go through the normal visa application process during that period or they will not be permitted to stay.

There will not be any artificial quota on immigration.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE 

Although covered by the same rights as all citizens, native people have always been treated differently, more often poorly. Many live in squalid conditions with no access to clean water, for example. They face extreme racism and are denied access to services available only to non-indigenous people. They face increased risks of drug dependency, alcoholism, suicide and discrimination.

In many countries they have been decimated by genocide, killed, tortured and enslaved.

Indigenous Peoples worldwide number between 300-500 million, embody and nurture 80% of the world’s cultural and biological diversity, and occupy 20% of the world’s land surface. The Indigenous Peoples of the world are very diverse. They live in nearly all the countries on all the continents of the world and form a spectrum of humanity, ranging from traditional hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers to legal scholars. In some countries, Indigenous Peoples form the majority of the population; others comprise small minorities. Indigenous Peoples are concerned with preserving land, protecting language and promoting culture. Some Indigenous Peoples strive to preserve traditional ways of life, while others seek greater participation in the current state structures. Like all cultures and civilizations, Indigenous Peoples are always adjusting and adapting to changes in the world. Indigenous Peoples recognize their common plight and work for their self-determination; based on their respect for the earth.

In countries like Canada indigenous people have been treated particularly badly. They live in conditions demeaning to humanity with no access to basic services. Their rights have been trampled on with projects like pipelines that cross their lands.In many countries, again like Canada, they are forced to become more military in their approach. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada made hundreds of recommendations, few of which have been acted on.

These were all people who originally occupied their lands with no interference from the countries that invaded them. They need to be restored to have the rights they had originally. Any condition imposed upon them by invading forces need to be removed.

MILITARY 

All countries will reduce their military presence in foreign countries to what is required to train local military and with specific time limits until they withdraw completely.When military forces are removed foreign aid will also be terminated.

Any and all intelligence agents will be removed from the countries involved. No attempts will be made to interfere in the politics of any other country, including attempts to impose democracy on countries where that goal has proven not to work.

All returning military personnel will be reassigned to domestic projects such as firefighting, security and infrastructure improvements. They will also be paid a living wage subject to the normal conditions. Any injured military personnel will be provided the necessary unique medical care they require, particularly mental health assistance.

PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION 

At birth an application for an identification card is automatically generated. It includes a name, gender, place of birth, eye color, retinal scan, blood type, photo, DNA, and birth parents’ names.

When any changes are made and every five years an application must be made to update the information and receive a new card.As age appropriate additional information is added to the card, such as driver’s license, a change in marital status, a gender change, passport number or change in citizenship.

If the person is convicted of a crime this information is added to the ID card to warn prospective employers, potential partners and custom officials. If a pardon is issued the criminal record information is removed from the card.Any information contained in the card record is private and secure and may never be divulged to anyone. If a card is lost or stolen a new application must be made in person and the original card will be cancelled to prevent ID theft.

Upon notification of the death of a person the card will be so noted and cannot be used again.

SENIORS 

No segment of society has been more mistreated and abandoned than seniors who have worked their entire lives and paid dearly in multiple taxation. The government pensions they have contributed to their entire working lives are woefully inadequate to provide for a decent living. The cost of living in many countries have left seniors far below the poverty line. Many seniors are forced to give up on independent living and stay with their children because they can’t afford the basics. Seniors eating cat food because they can’t afford food are all too common.

In far too many countries immigrants who have never paid a dime in taxes receive far more financial assistance than seniors. At the very least seniors deserve pensions above the poverty level.

SEX WORKERS 

The profession will be legalized subject to all normal conditions such as the payment of income tax and health care benefits to workers. Clients will no longer be subject to arrest or prosecution. Workers must be above a set minimum age and must work only at a legal facility. It will still be illegal to live off the avails of prostitution and be a crime.

TAXES 

All levels of taxation would be eliminated. A tax on income would be the only tax to fund government. It would be a flat twenty percent tax on ALL income regardless of how it is earned, legally or illegally and applicable to all type of organizations based on where their income was earned. Banks, churches, corporations (regardless of domicile), internet companies, foreign companies, stock markets, charities, lottery winners and anyone earning an income from any activity would pay a flat tax on their total stated income with no deductions.

Anyone failing to report their correct total income and paying their tax would be subject to an automatic ten year prison term and would forfeit any illegal gain to the government.

VOTING 

The process starts with getting your voter ID card when you turn legal age to vote in whatever country you live in or whatever country you are eligible to vote in based on your citizenship. This could be done at places like passport offices or driver license offices. Wherever they can take a photo and verify your other ID, ideally with a passport or any recognized photo ID. You would also need a valid credit card because you are going to be charged a fee for your voter ID just like you are with a passport. Also just like a passport it is good for five years.

After applying in person and providing all the required ID you would be sent a photo voter ID card along with instructions on how you register online, just like with a credit card activation. You would be provided an ID number and allowed to select a password which needs to be updated at least annually. You will receive a reminder email or text message to update your password. Because the card is a permanent voter ID information such as address, marital status and anything else that could change frequently would not be required although you can update your registration online at any time. For anyone whose marital status changes their legal name, they would need to go to the appropriate office to update their information and receive a new card with the proper legal name. Their new card would be valid for five years from the date of the changes.

Qualification for a voter ID card would not be automatic. Each country would develop a test based on their accepted values. The application would have conditions similar to filing an income tax return with the same sort of penalties. Basically, you could be fined or charged if you lie. So, a question such as are you now a member of a recognized terrorist organization would automatically disqualify you. Do you have a criminal record could also disqualify you conditional upon the type of conviction. Other questions would deal with the specific values of the specific country and the responses would be rated on a scale of importance. No questions related to sex, discrimination or politics would be allowed.

On voting day you simply log in on your computer or smartphone and vote. Although your vote is duly recorded it is anonymous so there is no record kept of how you voted. It also does away with voter lists. A related system could be added so that you can use your voter ID to donate to a specific party. These donations are recorded both for income tax purposes and to ensure that your donation meets the legal standards for making donations. A corporation would not be allowed to donate if the chief executive does not have a voter ID.

You would still be allowed to vote in person on Election Day as long as you show your ID card. Those overseas, such as military personnel serving outside the country would also vote online.Would this totally eliminate voter fraud? Probably not but it sure would make it a lot harder. Once you have voted online that is recorded for your voter ID and the system does not allow you to vote again. If you make a mistake you would be allowed to void or change your vote until you make a final submission. It would be very difficult to fraudulently come up with all the ID documents required for your voter ID, but nothing is impossible. Regardless, producing documents such as a birth certificate, social insurance card, passport, government photo ID card or driver’s license would need a lot of effort for a simple voter ID card.

Is this big brother? It’s a question of the ends justifying the means. In most countries, the voter turnout is pathetic, often less than fifty percent. Does the elected government truly reflect the will of the people? No. In some countries it is a legal requirement that you vote. If this system were adopted there is no valid reason why every single citizen could not vote. Although maybe a bit heavy-handed, your credit card could be charged a fine for not voting.

With the rapid advances in technology, things like fingerprint ID and taking a photo when you vote could be added. The voting process could also allow clicking on a candidate’s name and getting a brief summary of their positions on the issues before recording your vote. By voting online you can take all the time you want to be informed before voting.Also, in some countries, employers are required to allow their employees paid time off to vote. This cost would be eliminated completely.

WORKERS’ RIGHTS 

All persons working for someone else are covered by safety committees paid for by their employers. Unions are abolished in favor of employee associations to protect workers and negotiate contracts in a non-adversarial environment. All contracts are negotiated on the base premise of a living wage based on a minimum set annual by the government based on the latest poverty index, or salary based on a set number of hours worked per week, with overtime compensation for those who work in excess of the minimum hours.

Additional income plans such as commission, profit sharing, stock options and additional benefits such as company paid trips and entertainment are negotiated based on the structure of the business.

Limits of ten percent of the companies after tax profit are imposed on any chief executive and senior managers combined. No individual person is allowed to earn more than one half percent of the companies after tax profit.

All persons can earn a legal wage with the associated protections, pay their tax and live free from persecution based solely on their tax and live free from persecution based solely on their implied differences.

Animal Rights 3
Crime and Punishment 3

Writing my own eulogy – first attempt and updated now

This one was from a few years back at a time a time, just like now, when I figured no one would show up for any memorial for me and no one would do a eulogy. 

He isn’t lying here and we don’t really know where he is and neither does he at the moment. Let’s just say he’s lying here in our imaginations.

Gary wasn’t anything special, as he’s learned from many of you recently, much to his surprise. He always thought he was a pretty decent guy, a good father (although his kids don’t agree apparently), a good friend, fun to be around, reasonably bright and, in recent years, not a bad dancer. He was a good husband and provider in his twenty-three year marriage, always trying to make it better even though his wife, Janice, never did. He could always be counted on to lend a hand when needed, even though he seldom, if ever, got it back. He always worked crazy hours, both to support his family and then to try to afford the life he never had after he moved out West to be with his mother, who had been diagnosed with fifth stage melanoma at the time and was only given a five percent chance of survival.

His parents, Donald Lloyd, better known as Jimmy from his time in the Navy, and Alice Joyce, known to everyone as Joy, moved out West back in 1970 with his brother, Kevin and his sister, Wendy and Gary had only visited them a couple of times in all those years, once with Janice, Chris, Heather and Janice’s mum, Marion, to visit Expo ’86. After a week at Expo, staying with Don and Karen, friends of his Mum and Dad’s, they piled into a camper van and toured up through Alberta to Jasper, then back to Westbank (now called West Kelowna), where they got to sit in the rain for a week, unusual for that time of year in the Okanagan. At one point with family and friends, there was seventeen people crammed into his parent’s small mobile home, with only one bathroom between them. He was sitting on the picnic table looking out at the lake and his Dad came out with a drink for him and asked what he was doing. Gary said that he was going to sit there until the damned sun came out. It finally did but the rest of their holiday had been ruined.

In 1989 Gary had hit the road after the business he had been working for, GlassVision, owned by Jim Webb, crashed and burned because one customer had failed to pay them as Gary had warned. He knew it was over but just couldn’t take losing everything especially when he had been the one who knew better than to trust this customer. Gary had made promises to pay their suppliers in good faith and he knew they would be screaming. The company had just come through the most successful National Home Show ever, with some three hundred solid leads from people who wanted solariums, ones that now would never be built. The last thing he did was mail back every deposit check they had from customers so they would not lose their money.

When he headed off out of Brampton he had no clue where he was even going. He always loved the open road and just getting away was all he wanted at the time. It was late May. The sun was shining. The car sunroof was open. The music was playing and he felt a tremendous sense of relief even though he had no plan. Even though as a kid he had been with his parents when they drove to Port Arthur/Thunder Bay as it was called back then to visit his Uncle Earl and Aunt Peg, he had no clue just how big Ontario was. When he stopped in Dryden and bought a map he realized just how far he had driven. The thought came to him about driving to see his parents in Westbank, BC. Boy, that would surprise them, eh? No sooner had that crazy thought struck him than he realized he was almost half way there! He could actually do it! Only a couple more days on the road and he would really be there! He finally had somewhere to go and wouldn’t that be fun. So, off he went with a new spirit of excitement at the thought of surprising his parents.

Manitoba wasn’t bad, although he drove through what had been a huge forest fire. Everything was so black and ugly. He couldn’t wait to get passed it. After an incredibly boring drive through Saskatchewan he finally stayed in Medicine Hat, Alberta. He left as the sun came up and soon saw the mountains in the distance, thinking he’d be there in only a few hours. Boy, was he wrong! He didn’t even reach the sight of the foothills until early evening but, having chosen the scenic route of the Crows’ Nest Pass was soon in his favorite place in the whole world, the mountains. He remembers coming down out of the mountains, where there was still snow and frozen lakes, into Grand Forks. As he rounded a corner he noticed what he thought were deer ornaments on the front yard of a house, that is until they all turned their heads to follow him. Before he knew it he was driving into Shady Rest, heading for number thirty-four to greet his Mum and Dad, who he hoped would be home. They were and, as expected, heard his Dad holler, “Oh, my God. Look who it is!”.

At some point, probably not too soon after arriving, he called Janice to let her know where he was and she was, of course, not amused and only asked when he was coming home. The next few days were spent just enjoying being with his parents and loving the beautiful Okanagan. He was in no hurry to go back, although it didn’t take him long to start missing his kids. Soon he was trying to figure out if there was any way he could afford to bring them out while he was there and somehow he managed to pull it off. They both came out for what turned out to be the best three weeks of his life, right up until the last day. They had the first real holiday they had ever had and every single minute was a ball. They did far too much to go into here but the best time was when they went dirt-biking up at the Kettle Valley Railroad trestles. His Dad had managed to put vice grips on the back wheel of Gary’s dirt-bike for Heather to put her feet on. She took to it like nothing else and was soon squealing with delight. At one point they took a wrong turn going back down and ended up at the top of the power line road, which Gary knew was really steep and dangerous. Not wanting to scare Heather, he asked her to just get off the bike at the top of each drop and walk down, then he gingerly coached the bike down, trying not to lose it. By some miracle they made it down and soon found the others, who all said they could not believe that Gary and Heather had survived coming down the power line road.

Although he fully expected to drive back to Brampton at some point, probably soon, he still hated the thought of the day when they were leaving to go home. Heather shocked the hell out of him when she told him to stay out West. She said both Chris and her had never seen him happier and they knew the marriage was a disaster. All they ever saw was him working his butt off, coming home to cook and clean and renovate every place they ever owned, without a minute’s help from Janice. They knew he loved my parents and spending time with his brother and sister and could not love BC any more than he did. Even at that tender age she said he had done enough and deserved some happiness himself. They don’t know that after he dropped them off at the airport he cried his eyes out for three hours alone in the car, disbelieving that his daughter did not want him to come back.

After many hours of agonizing thought he just knew that he could not leave Heather. He loved her more than life itself and the thought of staying out West without her in his life was simply impossible. He headed back to Brampton, wondering if he was doing the right thing or not for anyone.

He left Westbank at 10:30 Thursday morning, dreading the trip home every second. When he stopped at a gas station north of Dryden Friday night the clerk looked out to see who else was in the car when he said he left BC yesterday morning. That was impossible, he said. He would have been home the next day had he not had a flat tire in Parry Sound, but he still made it home late that night. As he was heading down the four hundred he thought that there must have been a huge accident or major oil spill because of how much it stunk, but he soon realized that this was just how Toronto smelled, especially after having spent three months in the fresh air of BC. Not only that but he couldn’t stand the humidity, which was like breathing water, again after the dry heat of the Okanagan. It took him staying in the basement of the four level townhouse for five days before he could handle the humidity. How had he handled this all his life, he wondered?

Soon life returned to what had passed for normal. He was back working day and night, selling their townhouse after renovating it top to bottom and selling it for more than anyone had ever sold in their neighborhood before, and buying a builder’s upgraded home on Mara Crescent, believing as always that if they just had a better home or car or something that things would get better. They didn’t. As his wife sat on her ass, not working or even filing for her unemployment, he landed the biggest contract of his career, a major upgrading of a large thirty-five station computer network for Fellowes Manufacturing in Markham, taking them off a mainframe in the States. Considering that he was from Brampton and Fellowes was smack in the middle of computer junction, it was a real coup. Not only had he quoted them a nice rate for himself, he had also quoted them half his rate for travel, knowing that much of his day would be spent getting back and forth.

Several things happened then. First, it was making less and less sense to spend all those hours traveling back and forth, so he started staying a few nights at the Journey’s End motel. Then he started spending more and more nights at the hotel, mostly because when he got home his wife wasn’t there anyway and he had to be gone early in the morning. Then he started spending time with Gale-Ann Duxbury, the incredibly gorgeous executive secretary. They snuck around during the day, of course, to keep it secret, but they started spending more and more time together outside of work. She was the most amazing woman he had ever run into and soon he was falling head over heels for her. She asked him to move in with her and there ended the marriage. He still continued to pay for everything for the house because Janice was still not working, but something had to change. He was also literally making appointments weeks out to see Heather as well.

The DELL Experience

My story with Dell started way back around 2006 when my cheap Acer crapped out. It suddenly had a wide black stripe down the middle of the screen and I had to send it back to Toronto to get it repaired. I was without it for three weeks. It was such a piece of crap I don’t even remember what I did with it after I bought the Dell.

When I got that first Dell laptop, a Vostro 1500, my first issue was I didn’t know how to get my programs and data files from the Acer. I contacted Dell tech support, which I believe at that time was based in Nashville. Quite quickly and easily I contacted an incredibly helpful rep. He spent the next four hours helping me to setup a home network and connect both laptops. I could not have been more impressed.

That was the last time anything went well with Dell. For the first of many laptops later I found the lettering on the keys wearing off. Prior to the Acer I had rented an IBM ThinkPad that was several years old but the keys were like brand new. The reason was simple. The writing on the keys was slightly inset so you were never typing on the actual lettering. That wasn’t the case with the Dell so as I used it the writing started to wear off to the point that frequently used keys were blank, worn off so bad that the lighting below showed through if back-lighting was turned on. I contacted repair and was told the keyboard overlay was no longer available. That started many emails back and forth asking if they expected me to be able to use a computer with blank keys? I got nowhere fast until I contacted Michael Dell’s office directly. Nathalie in his office, a wonderful lady, apologized profusely and sent me a keyboard overlay the next day. I still had to pay to have it installed but at least I could work again. Of course the lettering started wearing off again.

My life went through a major change when I had to move to Panama around Christmas. I transferred my warranty to Latin America, which was a disaster in itself. Shortly after getting settled in Boquete I contacted warranty support in Panama. Of course they couldn’t find my warranty transfer until I got my sales agent back in Canada involved. I tech came all the way from Panama City, on the bus. About a seven hour drive. He was a nice guy and he ended up staying for dinner and we went out to the bar later. He had friends in Boquete so I assume he stayed over. He was shocked when he saw the condition of my fairly new keyboard. After he replaced it I asked him to make sure that the one he replaced got to production somewhere with the simple solution to change the mold to be inset. He agreed. Now, remember, this was way back in 2007.

All hell broke loose in Panama after the girl who worked for me ripped me off in every way she could, leaving me twenty-eight dollars in the bank. My darling cousin, Joan, back in Toronto, said to come and stay with her until I got my life sorted out. I met someone online and moved to London, Ontario.  Not long after moving they sent a tech from a company called UNISYS. Good technician except that for some unknown reason he took the laptop completely apart, replaced the keyboard overlay, but then forgot to reinstall the hard drive so he had to do it all over again. I had the same conversation with him that I had had with the tech in Panama to send the keyboard to production, wherever that was. He agreed.

Sometime later I took another stab at living somewhere that I could afford and researched Ecuador, but it proved to be even worse than Panama if that was even possible. I nearly died when I was overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning and, according to the doctor in Emergency, was minutes from kicking the bucket.

Yet another Dell disaster. This time not only was the keyboard lettering wearing off again but I got a big flashing red warning that the hard drive was about to fail. Scared the crap out of me. I contacted repair again and they sent the most lovely girl to replace the keyboard and the drive. She gave me a newer, faster, bigger drive. Not only that but she wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with installing my Windows or my programs, but she did anyway. I invited her to dinner and to stay over but she had to catch the bus back to Quito, about two hours away. I’m sure she knew what I had in mind. lol

When Ecuador failed for many reasons I returned again to Canada. This time ending up in a group home in Belleville, Ontario. When the keyboard started failing yet again another tech came to replace it. This time after he replaced the overlay and rebooted the computer the motherboard blew. He went back to the original overlay but the laptop was toast  I had to send it to Toronto where they did nothing except waste my time. They returned it to me and the tech came out again to replace the overlay. We held our hands in prayer when he rebooted it and it worked.

Yet another move, hopefully this time more successful, to Mexico. Wasn’t long before the keyboard started wearing off because despite all the expense of all the warranty repairs, Dell had done nothing to solve the problem. This time the tech traveled from Guadalajara. He replaced the overlay and, of course, the motherboard blew the minute he rebooted. Just like the other techs he had no clue why.

At this point, after more than ten years of so much trouble and particularly that replacing the keyboard had blown the motherboard twice now on this same laptop, I told Dell I had had enough. I wanted the laptop replaced with a desktop with a keyboard that would work and continue working in future. I asked if Dell had any keyboard that had the inset keys so the writing would not wear off. No answer. They finally agreed to send the desktop but sent one certainly not of equal value to what I had paid for my laptop. That was disappointing enough, but what I found just unbelievable was that they sent it with the cheapest keyboard possible. I found it on Amazon for FIVE DOLLARS! How could anyone ignore what I had been through, over and over, for years and not supply a decent keyboard? Was that too much to ask? Literally within days the lettering started to wear off. Worse, some of the keys stopped working. I would click on a letter and just get a blank space. Then after I clicked again the letter would start rapidly repeating across the screen until I hit another key to make it stop. Total garbage!

Back I went to Dell and told them I would not return the laptop until they supplied a far better keyboard. They replied with two keyboard links. I had found what looked like a better keyboard at Amazon.com.mx which could be here overnight, but they said they couldn’t supply that one from their distributor here in Mexico. Suddenly out of nowhere a keyboard showed up the next day. You guessed it. Worse than the first keyboard! Nothing has changed in the design of the lettering. It’s still on the surface and will no doubt start wearing off soon.

So, after at least ten warranty replacements, at huge cost to Dell in four different countries, plus, for me, countless hours and hours of downtime and nothing but frustration, for an issue that could have been so easily solved in the first place and at zero cost to Dell, I still don’t have a functional keyboard. Seriously? I have found a real keyboard at Logitech and I’m working with them to get it here in Mexico. Probably going to cost me a hundred dollars on top of all the time I’ve lost, but at least I will end up with a keyboard that works and lasts more than a couple of months. Puts an end to this nightmare.

Oh, and here’s my nineteen page letter to Michael Dell sent to him last year.

Michael Dell

 

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