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.

COVID – Central Canada’s nightclub king scrambles to salvage his empire as social distancing pulverizes profits

Premium content Vanmala Subramaniam, Postmedia News Published: a day ago Updated: 22 hours ago

Within the first 48 hours of Canada slipping into a pandemic-induced lockdown, Charles Khabouth had to close more than 20 bars, clubs and restaurants he owns in Toronto and Montreal, lay off 2,600 employees, pull the plug on multiple construction projects and cancel some of the most popular summer festivals in both cities.

He alternates between sounding stunned, dejected and hopeful when talking about the plight of Ink Entertainment, a company he founded 36 years ago that has, to a large extent, been responsible for crafting the sleek, exclusive, corporate-but-fun, ritzy-but-arrogant vibe of Toronto’s entertainment and clubbing districts.

“Shocking, sad, draining, straining: I don’t have a good adjective for this, let’s put it that way,” he said over the phone from his penthouse unit in Bisha Hotel, the company’s “crown jewel” in downtown Toronto that opened just two years ago.

“We’ve been moving very fast lately, we’ve had a lot of projects in the works and for that to come to a halt in just a few days is just sad. I’m sad.”

In an attempt to gain some respite from the dark cloud hanging over his entertainment empire, Khabouth has kept one of his properties open: French Made, a high-end coffee shop of sorts attached to Bisha that has now morphed into a takeout-only restaurant, the business model hundreds of other restaurants are clinging to in the hope that they’ll somehow miraculously survive the coronavirus lockdown.

“I wanted to keep French Made open for my mental health and just to have some sort of activity in the building where I live so I don’t feel so depressed,” he said. “Honestly, the cafe is not making money, because we have to pay for labour, supplies, things like that … but I just wanted to leave some life in the building.”

For a company whose entire identity, ethos and business model is built around mingling, mandatory social distancing is effectively a death sentence, and if a company such as Ink Entertainment that has several diverse revenue streams — bars, clubs, restaurants, festivals and a hotel — is bleeding out, the pandemic is likely even more crippling and far-reaching for the hospitality sector than many thought already.

Khabouth’s first love is nightclubs. He grew up in them, built a number of them from scratch during the past three decades, and still owns some of the most popular ones: Dragonfly in Niagara Falls, Rebel in Toronto and its summertime counterpart Cabana Pool Bar.

He has also been innovative over the years in turning them into versatile spaces — Rebel can be a club, wedding venue, concert venue and corporate gathering spot, all in one week, he said — but they are first and foremost traditional clubs, home for those who get a thrill out of dance, loud music and closeness.

It’s impossible not to feel that clubby overtone even at some of Khabouth’s restaurants, such as Patria, Kost, Byblos and Weslodge, to name a few. Some of them turn into club-like dance spots after dinner. In the pre-pandemic days, you would have to plan weeks in advance to get a Friday night reservation at any one of Ink Entertainment’s establishments.

What now though in an era when two people can’t be within two metres of each other?

“Nightclubs are gone. Gone. One million per cent. Until a vaccine is found. Maybe,” Khabouth said. “You cannot space people out in a nightclub. That’s not a nightclub. I can’t make little cubes six feet apart, get people to pay a cover charge, then tell them to go and stand in a cube. No, no, it just doesn’t work.”

Nightclubs are gone. Gone. One million per cent. Until a vaccine is found. Maybe

Charles Khabouth
Khabouth won’t fully disclose the extent to which his business is suffering, beyond that it has been a financially draining two months, but the casualties are quickly piling up in the restaurant and bar space and spreading beyond just independent or small-business owners.

This week, American restaurateur David Chang of Momofuku fame announced he had to permanently close two of his New York restaurants. In Toronto, Murphy said that he’s been fielding calls from both restaurant owners “handing in their keys” and landlords struggling to find new tenants to set up shop in even the most sought-after parts of the city.

Anthony Oliver, chief executive of Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality Inc., which owns almost 40 restaurants and event spaces in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton, said he’s had to lay off 3,500 employees and his revenue has dropped by about 98 per cent since the start of the pandemic.

“If a business like mine and a business like Charles’ can’t survive, I don’t know who can,” he said. “The (Restaurants Canada) data says that 70 per cent of restaurant owners say their business is not going to be able to make it through this. I say it’s going to be more like 90 per cent.”

In the five weeks ending April 7, the full-service restaurant space across Canada lost $2 billion in restaurant sales and 200 million customer visits, according to data by market researcher The NPD Group. Delivery channel orders, however, grew by 22 per cent in March, compared to a year prior.

“We can’t make money just with delivery. We can make some money. But that’s not the experience we are here to give,” Khabouth said. “We want people to come in, gather, socialize and have fun in our beautiful restaurants, bars. That’s the company I built.”

Khabouth has spent the past few weeks on various Zoom calls with his 30-odd remaining employees. He has laid off 98 per cent of his staff, but plans to begin rehiring when Ontario’s reopening plans become clearer. As of now, with a case-rate curve that is barely flattening, the province is maintaining its ban on gatherings of more than five people until at least June 2.

One summer idea percolating is turning Cabana Pool Bar, a Vegas-esque day club at Toronto’s Polson Pier, into a large, fancy restaurant. With 65,000 square feet of outdoor space, Cabana could be reconfigured to seat 450 people, each table six to eight feet apart. As a regular day club, it can house up to 3,000 people.

“We’ll open seven days a week. Everybody will book in advance, and we’ll take people’s information in full when they come in. Then we’ll know, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., for instance, who is sitting at the immediate tables around you,” Khabouth said. “Everything will be done in a safe manner.”

Cabana’s only real competitor in Toronto is the much smaller Lavelle, which sits on the rooftop of a downtown Toronto condo building and has been converted into a day club of sorts. There’s a reason for that lack of competition: the profit margins on day clubs are razor thin, given that they are only open for four months of the year, at most.

“Last year, we spent $1 million to reopen Cabana. Everything gets beaten up by the snow and the ice, so you have to fix your wood, redo your pools. I bring all my plants in on an 18-wheeler from Miami because we really beautify the space with the best greenery,” Khabouth said. “Obviously, we can’t do that this year.”

In normal times, the festivals and concerts organized by Ink Entertainment would more than offset the cost of running a vanity project such as Cabana. Khabouth said his company rakes in tens of millions of dollars each year from sponsorship money and festivals (VELD, Dreams and Solaris are a few of the big ones), creating thousands of both permanent and temporary jobs in the process.

But festivals, along with nightclubs, are perhaps the last entertainment options that will return in the foreseeable future. South Korea had the counter-productive experience of allowing nightclubs to open up as soon as it believed it had the virus under control, only to discover one super-spreader, who visited five different clubs in a night, had infected close to 11,000 people.

The only real source of revenue companies such as Ink have for the next few years will come from restaurants, even though they will operate at less than capacity.

Khabouth is somewhat okay with that idea, given his portfolio of properties has over the years moved towards the high-end restaurant and bar space and away from nightclubs.

He admits there were “one or two sick babies” in his collection of restaurants even prior to the pandemic, and that he has “left no stone unturned” in terms of figuring out which spots to keep open or which ones he’ll have to hand in the keys on.

“You’re asking me how long we can go on for, as a business, and I just don’t know,” he said. “It depends on so many things. How much is the city going to help us? Are they going to be lenient on taxes? Are landlords going to be nicer?”

In the meantime, he has stopped paying rent on all his spaces, simply because he barely has an income.

“I’m a tenant in all of my properties, so I’m dealing with landlords,” he said. “Some amicably, some through legal channels.”

Ink Entertainment does not qualify for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program announced by the federal government in April because it generates more than $20 million in annual revenue. It is a point of annoyance for Khabouth, who otherwise approves most of the other government support programs, especially the wage subsidy.

“Some of the policies are great, and some sound better than they actually are,” he said.

For the hottest neighbourhoods in downtown Toronto, commercial rents have skyrocketed of late, said Stephen Murphy a longtime realtor and investor in the restaurant and bar industry.

Murphy has helped negotiate leases for many of Khabouth’s restaurants and estimates that rent in the most lucrative intersections (for instance, the clubbing heart of King and Portland streets) prior to the pandemic could be as much as $100 per square foot per month.

“Leases are being renegotiated all over the place right now,” he said. “That’s going to plunge by maybe even 50 per cent.”

It adds up then, that after labour, rent is Khabouth’s biggest cost.

“Three months rent could be about $2.5 million for me,” he said. “Where am I going to get that with zero income?”

Three months rent could be about $2.5 million for me. Where am I going to get that with zero income?

Charles Khabouth
Over the past few years, Ink has also expanded internationally, including four restaurants in Miami that were all about to open before the pandemic hit. One possible avenue for companies such as Ink is to move away from jurisdictions that are slow to reopen or struggling to gain control over the pandemic, but it’s tough all over at the moment.

“Miami is not in a better place than Toronto, I can tell you that,” Khabouth said. “That city relies on tourism and there’s only so much money locals will spend.”

But he’s adamant that those four Miami restaurants — Byblos and Amal are two that already have existing branches in Toronto — will open up in 2020, because Ink has heavily invested in the city, and he still sees “big opportunities” down south.

“I checked the weather and it’s 31 degrees down there right now. Look at it here,” he said.

Nevertheless, his heart is set on expanding the Bisha Hotel brand, which he calls a lifestyle hotel. Indeed, two imposing golden lion statues flank the entrance of the hotel, which feels like you’re walking into a club, including bouncers to boot. Unlike a traditional hotel bar, Khabouth has Mister C, Bisha’s club-like lobby bar which is almost always noisy and at capacity.

He tells a rather amusing tale of how his staff simply could not figure out how to lock the towering gold and black doors of the hotel when they were forced to shut down, because those doors had literally never been closed since it opened two years ago.

“Bisha is never closed. We have our bar, restaurant, it’s a residence too and we have about 100 rooms,” he said. “Our revenue in that building is split 50-50 between food and beverage and the hotel itself. So I want to expand that concept, build out the Bisha brand.”

Then reality sets in, and Khabouth admits it might take years for any of his pre-pandemic growth plans to bear fruition.

“2020 is a write-off,” he said. “I’ve never been for this kind of shutdown because Canada’s (virus) numbers are not that high. I’m not saying I blame the government for doing this, we have to be careful,” he said. “But it’s time we try to come back before we have a complete breakdown of people’s mental, emotional and financial health.”

Financial Post

Yet another chapter in my life

Good grief! Hard to believe that it’s been more than six months since I started this post. I also can’t figure out the date because on that day I was in the air somewhere returning from Merida, Mexico to Belleville, Ontario, Canada. My desktop computer was safely packed in my carry-on luggage so I couldn’t use it. 

At long last I arrived back in Canada on November 2nd, just after midnight. It was one of the worst trips I had ever had, rivalling the disastrous trip Elba and I had in 2018 when I came back to apply for my temporal visa. I’ve covered that horror elsewhere. 

As one of the airline clerks had commented, “you have the worst flights I’ve ever seen”. I left Merida, two hours late, and flew to Mexico City, where I had about a seven hour layover before flying on to Cancun. There was nowhere to sit or lay down at the airport so I wandered around until the Krispy Kreme donuts place finally opened at three in the morning. Gorging on coffee and chocolate donuts would come back on me later. Again I had a very long layover until flying on to Toronto. Throughout this very long trip I had not been taking my medications or my insulin. At one point I was sitting on one of the very hard benches trying to sleep when a very nice airline official asked me if I was okay. I wasn’t. The next thing I knew they had me in a wheelchair and were taking me to the medical clinic at the Cancun airport. A very nice doctor, who spoke perfect English, did some tests, told me that my sugars were “off the charts, and then gave me a shot of insulin and some meds. They wheeled me back to the waiting area where I dosed off about two hours before my flight. Next I heard my name being paged and an airline person came rushing up asking my name, then wheeled me to the boarding gate. The stuck me in row one behind the wall. Not a great spot for a long flight but at least I was on the right plane. 

I arrived at Pearson just after midnight. My bus to Belleville was not until six in the morning so I had a lot of time to kill. I did mange to find the Tim Hortons so I got to have my first Timmie’s coffee in two years. Delicious! Of course you can’t smoke in the airport so I had to go outside to smoke. That was the first time I realized that it was freezing and I only had my leather spring coat. I was not happy to leave the perfect weather in Mexico. When I first left two years ago I said goodbye to winter, figuring I would never see cold or snow again. Wrong!

The bus ride was only from the airport to the terminal in downtown Toronto, then I had to wait another two hours for my bus to Belleville. That didn’t start well when the bus driver initially refused my two pieces of luggage, telling me I was only allowed one. Eventually he agreed and threw my bags, including the one I just told him had my computer in it, under the bus. I didn’t know that another surprise was waiting for me in Belleville. Haven seen the Greyhound bus downtown at the main bus terminal before I assumed that was where I would get dropped off. Wrong! For some unknown reason the bus only stopped just off the 401 highway at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere, miles from downtown Belleville. It was a twenty dollar cab ride and I didn’t have twenty dollars on me. Luckily I had my friend, Doral’s number and she agreed to pick me up. She was planning to go to a dance at the Legion so I went along. Hard to believe that I actually managed to dance when I hadn’t slept in two days. 

At this point my memory is a little foggy about how I ended up at a motel in Trenton for the night. I had called the OW emergency number and they had sent a cab to take me there. I was beyond exhausted and had my first good night’s sleep and a wonderful shower in the morning. It was then that I learned that OW takes you to Trenton but does not bring you back. I was very lucky that the motel owner told me there were people in another unit that would take me to Belleville for ten dollars. That was the start of a couple of very strange days where I ended up going with them to the Comfort Inn in Napanee, then back on the reserve they wouldn’t let me stay with them again, so I was going to stay at their daughter’s place. That ended when the police came and told me that I was not allowed to stay there, but a very nice officer drove me all the way to the Comfort Inn in Belleville where OW put me up for another night. They also gave the officer twenty dollars for me to get something to eat.

The next day two people came from the CMHA in Belleville and took me to the office for an intake interview. I met with a guy I knew from before and they took me to the first house on Murney where I had stayed years earlier. Not long after they told me that I was moving to Dunbar, the seniors’ house because someone there couldn’t handle the stairs. What they didn’t tell me was that it was a shared room. The guy I shared the room with basically slept all day and night so I was always creeping around trying not to wake him. He moved to Markham shortly after and I had the room to myself for several months. I eventually moved to a larger shared room and then, over my strong objections, they moved me to my current “emergency” room at Forin, where I had lived twice before years ago.

I was forced to come back to Canada because I had lost my GIS pension which was about a third of my income. I was also running out of my critical medications including insulin and I would die without my meds. After my idiot landlord put my rent up forty percent, totally illegal, and demanded the money right away I had made a fatal mistake taking up an offer for a month’s free rent in Chelem, only to learn that the house was sold and I had to find another place to live. It was brutally hot there and I never wanted to stay there. It was all crashing in on me so I figured I had no other choice than to return to Canada, much as that broke my heart. 

I came back figuring that I would get my meds again. Wrong. I figured I would get my dental work. Wrong. I figured I would live in a decent room. Wrong. I figured I would schedule my shoulder surgery. Wrong. I figured I would find a decent place to live in Belleville. Wrong. I figured that I could get some financial help on getting new glasses. Wrong. I figured that I would restart my web design business and make some extra money. Wrong. I figured that my GIS pension would be reinstated as I had been told in writing. Wrong!

My doctor here in Belleville before had been charged with some narcotics offence and his office closed. I was told that it would take at least a year to find a new doctor. I applied at the local health centre but when I followed up a couple of months later was told the same thing. As a diabetic my medications are critical. I met with the pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart but they would only give me insulin and a couple of the more critical meds until I manged to find a doctor. I was on Metformin for years but Dr. Savic had switched me to Janumet when Metformin stopped working. Despite getting Janumet for years from Shoppers they wouldn’t renew it. I went to a walk in clinic but they would only give me a prescription for a month of Metformin. Eventually I met with a nurse at the Diabetic Education Centre at the hospital and got an appointment with the diabetic doctor a month out. Thanks to the virus that was cancelled and the appointment was by phone instead. The doctor would only renew my diabetic meds and not the other ones that I am on. The only hoe for those is the telemedicine offered by Shoppers, but it is apparently almost impossible to get in touch with.

Although dental work is ten times the price it was in Mexico, the Ontario government had launched a new dental program for seniors. I applied and was accepted. I asked about my broken tooth and, more importantly, the bridge that was falling out any day now. Both were approved and I was given an appointment at the Quinte Health Centre for March 19th. It was not easy to get there so I walked most of the way, only to get there and learn that the centre was closed because of the virus. They had left a message but I didn’t get it. No clue now if and when they will re-open but no doubt it will take months to clear the backlog. 

Prior to coming back to Canada the President of the charity who ran the home I was in before leaving for Mexico told me that they would have a place for me. The day I was leaving I got an email saying that he no longer had a place for me. My flights were booked so I had no choice but to come back despite having nowhere to live. After being shunted around by OW on the emergency list I ended up back at Murney where I had first been years ago. It was not a great room with nowhere to hang my clothes. I was only there a few days when they moved me Dunbar into a shared room. I had so many issues with what was then the CMHA, at one point being threatened with immediate eviction to the street. It was nothing but outright lies, failed promises and abuse. Just one of the outright lies was that they would not move me to the “emergency” room at Forin unless I had more permanent housing arranged, which I didn’t have because they failed to pay London Middlesex Housing as they promised in December. On a Monday the Housing Manager said that she knew that I was happy sharing a room at Dunbar and I would not be moving. On Tuesday I got an email telling me that I was moving to Forin the next day. I knew how bad the room was here. I had had issues with the “facilitator” here before because he was power tripping and I knew we would have problems again, and we have. This room is also hotter than hell in the summer and I will never be able to sleep. My only hope is that now that I am finally on the emergency housing list I will find permanent housing. I have been in touch with a lady at Aldersgate who have wonderful seniors’ apartments. When a unit becomes available they contact Hastings Housing and get three names. Hopefully one of them is mine and I am approved. 

Just before I went to Mexico Dr. Savic had given me a referral to a surgeon who I met with. He gave me a shot of cortisone for my should er but it didn’t work so we were going to schedule surgery. The wait was about six months and I was leaving for Mexico in two, so that didn’t work. When I came back to Belleville I went to his office but I was told that I needed a new referral from a doctor, which, of course, I don’t have and won’t have for months if not years. Looks like I’m stuck with my aching shoulder for now. 

My glasses are now about eight years old. When I got them I had the coating added to protect my eyes. What I didn’t know was that this coating is only good for a year. Maybe it was the strength of the sun in Progreso but I noticed that the coating started breaking up, leaving steaks of it making it very difficult to see. As a senior I hoped to get some assistance getting new glasses when I came back but there is nothing. Even what was a free examination is now eighty dollars. My glasses will cost about eight hundred dollars which, of course, I don’t have. Beyond the streaks my vision has also changed. I need a magnifying glass to read anything small now and my eyes are very strained working on the computer all day.

I’ve been designing websites for decades now, sometimes more successfully than others. That was the case in Mexico where I spent the better part of two years building what I thought was the best site I had ever done, AjijicToday.com.mx. It had everything, from free classifieds and forums, to the most affordable advertising available. Before I went to Mexico I knew that I was going to lose the GIS pension once I was out of the country for six months so I had to replace this income. Several colleagues in Ajijic told me this would be a breeze. It wasn’t. I never made a dime so losing a third of my income became even more critical. 

After going through a horrible time when the government suspended my pensions, in error, leaving me thirty-three cents in the bank, I knew that my GIS pension would be restored as of the date I returned to Canada. The government was claiming that I had been overpaid the GIS so I needed to know EXACTLY what was going to happen with my GIS. I had been dealing with a very helpful lady at Service Canada, Melanie Shumilak. She sent me an email saying that the GIS would be restored as of the date of my return, then there would be a negotiation about the claimed over-payment, but it would never be more than thirty percent of the GIS. That was a major reason that I returned to Canada. 

Based o my return November 2nd I submitted all the documents Melanie told me to submit. I faxed them and mailed them as confirmation. She told me that I had been put on an emergency list and should hear within five days. I didn’t. Instead I went through three months of unbelievable grief with people in the CPP Integrity Office, the same ones who had suspended my pensions in total in error before. Finally a Nicole at Service Canada phoned to give me the “good news”. My GIS had been restored; however, they were taking one hundred percent for November, December and January, leaving me NOTHING! That’s good news? It’s now been over six months that I’ve been fighting with everyone, from the Prime Minister on down, to do what I was told in writing. I learned that Melanie had been wrong about the percentage of my income that they could take. It was twenty-five percent, not thirty. So then tell me how they could take one hundred percent. Taking twenty-five percent as of the date I returned would mean they owe me thirteen hundred and fifty dollars! That would sure help me right now! 

As I’ve repeated many times. John Lennon got it right when he said, “life is what happens while you are making other plans”. I am living, breathing proof of that.                            

Happy Birthday to me….NOT!

Birthdays are often a time for reflection, both on the life you’ve lived, your successes and your failures, and the things you have not yet done, like your bucket list. Today on my seventieth birthday, a day I never expected to make, my reflections on the past are only a very long list of failures, mistakes and regrets, and my only thoughts about a bucket list are about kicking it.

Today is certainly not a day to celebrate. I am totally alone in the world and realize now that no one cares whether I live or die. All I can say is that I have always tried. There’s no question that I have made many mistakes along the way and I accept full responsibility for the consequences. Some things have just been the result of incredibly bad luck. Others have no explanation. 

The biggest regret of my life has been with my family. It’s been twenty-five years since I spoke with my daughter, Heather, but I don’t know why she choose to cut me off. We always had a great father daughter relationship until I left to go to BC to be with my dying mother. At the time I didn’t know whether I would stay in BC after my mother died or not but if I did I hoped that my kids would come out for vacations. We had such an amazing time when my kids had come out before, although it broke my heart when my daughter told me to stay out west. She said she had never seen me happier. Over the years many people have tried to contact my daughter, but failed. Even my Dad had called her one winter from Arizona asking her to call him collect. He could well have been telling her that I had died, but she never called him back. It really hurt.

The year after I went out west my daughter had called my parents, asking me to come down to her graduation. Certainly I would find a way but then she called again to say that her grad had been delayed until the fall but I would still go. I never heard from her again about it. In January of the following year I talked to her briefly and she said that she wanted to see me so I took my life in my hands and drove through the winter across the country to see her. When I got there they had hidden her away and wouldn’t let me see her. After three weeks of trying but failing I drove back to BC, crying all the way back. I never saw her again. 

It was the same with my son. We met when he was coming to London, Ontario with his work, but it was a very short meeting. The end result was that he was going to organize a meeting in the summer with me and his three daughters, my grandchildren. He never contacted me again and when I called the number he had given me it was someone else who had bought his phone. I was upset and asked him what was going on on Facebook. His answer was to block me.

Then after I had moved to Mexico I got a Facebook message from Mackenzie, one of my granddaughters. She was fourteen at the time and was so upset that her parents had not told her about me. She said that she should have been allowed to make her own decision about contacting me, which was so right. We chatted back and forth for a while then she told me that she was coming to Mexico for a friend’s wedding. She was going to let me know where and when. I was so thrilled at the thought of meeting her. Then she suddenly cut me off with no explanation. The next thing I saw was a photo of her in Puerto Villarta at the wedding. She hasn’t spoken to me since or given me any explanation as to why. It hurts every day.

No, turning seventy is not as happy day.      

You got it. They want it. They will take it.

Okay, so you’re asking how I could be so stupid trusting a Mexican “friend” when I had been ripped off of my jewelry by a young Mexican girl who I only tried to help get some food for her baby? Good question. This was much different in that I trusted a guy who I had known for two years and considered to be a “friend”. Boy, was I wrong!

No doubt you think I am just complaining and I do agree that I need to vent a little because I’m so angry and I can’t do a thing about it because of my own stupidity; however,  I am posting this in the hopes that someone will learn from my mistakes and not be victimized the way I was.

I’ve gone into what was happening with my idiot landlord in another post, so I won’t repeat all that here. He had made my life a living hell since the day I moved in but recently it got worse. My apartment flooded every time it rained at night so I got up to an inch of water everywhere. The ceiling was leaking badly plus I had two windows that had been broken for months. Not only did he not do the repairs, but he increased my rent 2,000 a month, which is totally illegal under the terms of my lease and rent control in Mexico, demanded that I pay it early, and said nothing would be repaired until I paid the new rent. It was an intolerable situation to say the least.

Just when I was about to give up two things happened. First, a Canadian friend offered to pick up all my stuff and move it to her storage and let me stay in her trailer until October 28th when it was rented to another tenant. She said she would have me out of there by Saturday, August 31st. She would bring over some plastic bins for me to pack everything in and to go downstairs and wait for her to bring them to me. I waited and I waited, then I sent her a message asking what was going on? She replied that her boyfriend did not agree with what she was doing, so the deal was off.

Now the panic really set in. As much as I had some very dark thoughts about what to do I hated the idea that my idiot landlord was going to get all my stuff, like my desktop computer, my big screen monitor, my printer, my desk and more. I posted photos of everything for sale on Facebook with how much I had paid. Not a soul responded; however two things did happen.

First, a lady in Guadalajara who I had been chatting with on Messenger, asked me what type of things I had for sale. She ended up coming to my place and buying an iron, ironing board and some patio tables. That got us talking a lot more on Messenger and when she understood what I going through she offered to sell my things if I moved them to her place. That avoided my landlord getting everything but I still had no clue what to do with me.

Then out of the blue a guy posted on Messenger an offer to help me with a free apartment for the month. His house was in Chelem, Yucatan and he sent me photos of the apartment which was gorgeous. Right on the ocean. Originally I declined if only because it would be a major move to a place I knew nothing about plus my two years of work on my website, AjijicToday would be toast, but we ended up talking for quite a while and he convinced me to come, although he also said that he needed to know right away or he would rent the apartment. It was a very stressful time and was about to result in some hasty decisions which I lived to regret.

I called a driver I had used for two years, someone I considered more of a friend, to ask about moving my things to my friend in Guadalajara. As luck would have it he said he had been hired by someone to move furniture from Guadalajara, he had a van booked, and, most importantly, he would move my things for free. This was on a Tuesday and he had the van booked for Thursday. Now panic really set in. I had one day to pack all my stuff to move, book a flight to Merida and figure out what I was going to do with my computer.

This is where the lessons learned start.

He took me to get some boxes from Strom and to Walmart to get some plastic bins, which were on sale. I bought five, hoping that would be enough with the boxes. That Wednesday was one of the most difficult of my life and beyond exhausting to pack everything. I knew that I would only be allowed two suitcases, one of which was already oversized so I would have to pay extra for it. It was incredibly difficult to look at everything and decide whether to give it up or take it with me in my luggage.

In the meantime my dentist had asked me about my executive office chair, my monitor and my printer. He was interested in the monitor and he said his brother’s office had been broken into and everything stolen so he would probably want the printer. I was very concerned about these two things making it to Guadalajara or if my friend could get a reasonable price for them, so I had my driver take them to my dentist. I also gave him my 2,000 pesos office chair because of all the work he had done to relieve my pain.

Shortly after the trouble started and I had no idea just how bad it was going to get. My driver called and said that the van had broken down. He had two guys who would move my stuff for seven hundred pesos. What choice did I have? My life was packed in boxes and bins piled high. I had packed my food for my friend in Guadalajara. My landlord was pressing me for the rent. I had to agree.

In all the panic I didn’t have a bin to pack all the food from my refrigerator, so we rushed to Walmart again to get another one. This is only important because it’s important to note that there were now six bins in total.

The guys showed up with a pickup truck which I didn’t believe had enough room for my stuff. They also had no room for me, so I had to go with my driver in his car. Yet more money that I could not afford.

The guys left and we followed them shortly after. Again, important to the story of what happened. We found my friend’s house and the moving guys arrived shortly after and unloaded everything into her garage. Given that I would probably never see her again I wanted to spend some time with her, if only to thank her for what she was doing for me. That didn’t happen because my driver said he had another client to take back to Ajijic after he dropped me off at the airport. Here again, important to the story, and the first of many lies.

After I finally arrived to my new apartment here I went on Messenger to let my friend know that I had arrived safely. This was the first indication of the trouble that would soon unfold. She said my driver had come back to her place after dropping me off at the airport. He said that the bins were his and he had loaned them to me. Another lie. He knew that they were mine because he was there when I bought them. Then she asked me where the coffee maker that I had promised to her was? I had no idea. I texted my driver and he said it was there. Another lie.

Then she had gone through all the photos I had taken for the Facebook post and she started asking me where certain things were. Not surprisingly things of value. The ones I hoped that she got a decent price for so I would have some money after paying her a commission that she had agreed to. She had apparently texted my driver asking where certain things were, like her coffee make and he said that I had sold a lot of things before I moved. Yet another lie because I hadn’t sold a thing. She also said my very expensive desk wasn’t there either.

As it became more and more apparent that things had been stolen, either by the guys who moved my stuff, either on their own volition or on instructions from my driver, I started texting him asking what was going on? No response for days, with the last text telling him to respond or I would phone the police.

Still no response so I texted one of his drivers telling her to tell him to answer me or I would contact the police. A short time later he called threatening my life if I sent one more text message. I was now two thousand kilometers away so I wasn’t worried, but he did know where my friend lived and she was already worried now that she knew he was a thief. She begged me not to contact the police because she was obviously worried about her family.

The point in all of this is a question of trust. Not only did I believe that my driver was an honorable, honest man, certainly no thief, but after two years I considered him to be more of a friend than just my driver. He proved that he was no friend. Just a common criminal, willing to screw anyone including friends.

So, what’s the lesson learned, and at great expense to boot?

When it comes to Mexicans trust no one. I am certainly not saying that the majority of Mexicans aren’t wonderful, warm, friendly, hard-working, honest people. They are, but, based on my horrible experience, I still believe that you can’t trust anyone.  

Hindsight, of course, is always 20/20. What should I have done? First, I should have carefully taken photos of everything as I packed. I should have had a documented receipt signed by the moving guys and my driver confirming the number of bins and boxes. For the boxes I should have signed each one on the top and had my driver sign as well so I would know if the box had been opened after it arrived at my friend’s place.

After everything was delivered I should have checked that nothing had been opened, or damaged (they destroyed my large and expensive fan), and taken photos of everything to confirm that what was loaded at my place was actually delivered. It wasn’t. I soon understood why my driver was in such a hurry to leave. He didn’t want me to realize how much had been stolen.

What do I think happened? First, the van did not break down because not only was there room for everything but also room for me to go with the bins and boxes so nothing could be taken. The trip would also have been free as he had promised. Instead remember that the moving guys left before we did and arrived after we did. Why?

Either on their own, or more likely as instructed by my driver, they had stopped somewhere along the way and gone through all the bins and boxes to steal anything of value. They kept the coffee maker and my desk on the truck for my driver who hadn’t even had the decency to make me an offer for them. They put everything that they stole in one bin, a bin that later I understood had never been delivered because we were short one bin.

That a “friend” would do this to me has made me very upset and angry. Yes, I feel stupid for trusting him. Much worse is how it has upset my friend in Guadalajara. She was incredibly generous in offering to sell everything for me. At first I wondered if I was just being unbelievably stupid trusting someone that I barely knew with all my stuff? There was no guarantee that she wouldn’t just sell everything and keep the money, but this was still better than leaving everything for my idiot landlord. In fact, she has already sent me money that literally saved my life because I had no money for food. She’s a wonderful lady who has proved to be a great friend, far better than all the “friends” I thought I had, not one of which offered to help me in any way.

Just in case you think I somehow gipped my terrible landlord by not paying the rent for September, he got to keep eight hundred pesos of the damage deposit. I left the blinds I had bought for the two big windows that I had also paid to have installed. I left many things that were just too difficult to remove or pack, like the bathroom mirror, toilet seat, lighting strip, shower curtain, under counter light in the kitchen, dish drainer, upgraded kitchen faucet, huge 20 X 12 tarp that had blown off the mirador, and three plants on the terrace.

Lessons learned. Don’t trust anyone here.

The Last Post, Again

I guess it speaks volumes about my life that this is my third attempted “last post”. My first very dark days were after I was dumped by the love of my life by text message with no explanation, then or since. It came as close to destroying me as I had ever been in my life. I felt totally worthless and saw no future. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and if I knew then what I know now I wouldn’t have bothered trying to go on. The months since the breakup have only brought more and more pain. 

Around this time last year, believing that it was over for me, I wrote my own eulogy, dumb as that was. I accepted full blame for the mess I found myself in and knew that there sure wouldn’t be anyone at any memorial for me or who would really say anything nice about me. As I said in that original eulogy when someone takes their own life often people around them are left feeling very guilty that they didn’t pay any attention or offer to help before it was too late. There’s also the question about how someone could be so stupid to just give up and take what is often called the “easy way out”. Believe me, there’s nothing easy about this decision. It’s gut-wrenching. I’ve spent days on the verge of tears and fell apart crying uncontrollably many times. You become consumed with that single fact that you will finally be out of all the pain and suffering. Any regrets? Certainly. Hundreds. 

Not that it will matter one iota to me because I’ll be gone, but I do feel the need to explain how I ended up in this mess. Mainly it will be for my family, despite the fact that they have never given a damn about me. My own kids, Chris and Heather, cut me off years ago for reasons I never understood other than their vindictive mother. My daughter was the best thing ever in my life and I was so proud of her, but she cut me off over twenty-four years ago with no explanation. Hurt me every single day since. In explaining myself here, or trying to, the only real reason I could think of was my five grandchildren. With the exception of Mackenzie, who contacted me on Messenger when she was fourteen and was so angry that her Dad had told her I was dead, no one else has ever tried to contact me. I’ve always been very public with this website and I’ve had the same email address for twenty years. Same with Facebook which I joined back in 2004 when it first started. Mackenzie chatted with me several times and then said that she was coming to Mexico for a friend’s wedding last May. She said she would let me know where and when and maybe we could meet. That was a thrill. Then just as suddenly she stopped talking to me, refusing to answer me about her trip. It broke my heart to see her Facebook photos in Puerto Villarta. I have no clue why she cut me off completely.

So I thought what if when my other grand kids are older and somehow they learn that they had a grandfather they didn’t know about they just might want to know about him? Even if this possibility is beyond remote I wanted to be able to share something with them to answer any questions they might have. There’s also my hope that they might learn something from all the mistakes I’ve made and avoid repeating them. I also believe that many lies have been told about me or why would they have cut me off? There just has to be some valid reason, especially for my son and daughter who are long passed being adults who can make their own decisions. Over the years many friends have said that my kids would reconnect with me once they got out from under their mother’s skirt. Never happened. My hosting for this personal website expires at the end of October so everything I’ve ever written will disappear so I’m hoping that someone, anyone, will share this with my family before it’s gone. Yet another total waste of time if it doesn’t. 

So, why is the fat lady singing her lungs out? 

It’s virtually impossible to prioritize the reasons, so I won’t even try. Here, totally randomly then, are the reasons for me to give up:

First, and foremost I guess, is money. Back in Canada before I made the decision to come to Mexico, I was living in a group home in Belleville, Ontario. I had been bounced around their homes in town and was about to wear out my welcome. They had also just put my rent up from $379 a month for just a room to $479, which was totally not affordable on my measly pensions. An apartment would have cost me at least eight hundred a month, plus utilities or at least a grand a month, leaving me no money for food or anything else. This was also unfurnished and I had little else besides my desk, my laptop and my clothes. All totally impossible. That’s when I started looking at Mexico. It’s a very long story as to how I managed to fly to Mexico, but I’ve covered that elsewhere on this site. The fact was that, thanks to the help of my new friend at the time, Francis Dryden, I managed to get a great apartment in La Floresta, for 6,700 pesos, or about three hundred and fifty dollars at the time, everything included. This was a big apartment of my own, not just a room! Good deal!

As I’ve said many times I fell in love with Ajijic the day I arrived. That very first day I gave up on the idea of just spending my six month tourist visa here and I wanted to figure out how to stay. Then, shortly after, I met the love of my life and everything changed. Now the plan was to go back to Canada to apply for my temporal visa, come back, get married and live happily ever after. That plan went in the dumper the day we got back because she dumped me n a simple text message with no explanation. That sent me spiraling down into a very dark place. I had no wish to go on. 

Somehow, mostly thanks to a couple of friends, well, friends back then anyway, Don and Violata, I pulled through and went on. After my landlords put my rent up to ten thousand a month, illegally, I moved to an apartment in Riberas del Pilar, the one soon to prove to be the apartment from hell. 

Back to finances. Back when I decided to give Mexico a try, after disasters in both Panama and Ecuador, I never gave a thought to my pensions other than could I survive on them in Mexico? From my previous experience with Ecuador I knew that I would lose the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) once I was out of the country for six months, but I thought with Mexico I would probably return to Canada before the six months expired. I had also done a ton of research on websites for the area known as Lakeside, found nothing like I had created in both Panama and Ecuador, so I started building AjijicToday. Francis had said that he thought replacing the five hundred dollars from losing the GIS would be easy to replace. I hoped so but nothing could have been further from the truth. In almost two years of very long days working on my websites I had yet to make a dime. A total disaster compared to Panama and Ecuador. 

Although there was a whole lot of confusion about when I would lose the GIS, I knew that coming back to Mexico in April of last year meant that I might lose it in October, but that didn’t happen, thankfully; however, doom was on the horizon. Earlier this year my pensions were suspended, leaving me thirty-three cents in the bank. What followed was a nightmare with a total asshole in the Federal Government, a Victor Sokolov in the CPP Integrity Services, who said that my pensions had been suspended because a letter had been returned from my old address in Belleville and there had been no response to phone calls made to my dead cell phone in Canada either. After agreeing that all my information had been updated to my address in Mexico and my cell number here, and that suspending my pensions had been wrong, he still did nothing to restore my pension payments. He wanted me to send him the the answers to a multi-page questionnaire along with a Travel History Report from the Canada Border Services Agency, something that takes weeks to get. It was only through the valiant efforts of both Melanie at Service Canada and Adrianna at my MP office back in Belleville that I finally got funds released after three weeks of grief.

Not only had I now lost the GIS of about five hundred dollars a month, or a third of my income, but now this Victor idiot was going to go after me to claw back the over payment of the GIS I had received, about three thousand dollars. If I were to return to Canada I would get the GIS again; however, they would garnishee thirty percent of my total pensions until this was paid back, leaving me even less to try to live on. Hopeless!

Living on fifteen hundred dollars, especially lowly Canadian dollars, was hard enough. Now trying to survive on less than a thousand dollars has been impossible. I end up borrowing money. I end up with no food for days on end. I can’t afford my rent of only five thousand pesos. There are days I don’t have bus fare. The stress has become unbearable. How could it get any worse? 

Well, yesterday, right at the worst possible time possible when I am seriously thinking of just giving up, my idiot landlord increase my rent to seven thousand pesos, plus he wants it now! He whines that he has no money to do all the repairs desperately needed unless I pay him right away. This idiot has made my life a living hell since the day I moved in last year in May. No hot water for days on end. No internet, which he lied about in the first place telling me it was great. It’s not. No electricity when the local utility came to shut off our power because the bill hand’t been paid. Numerous times when I was infested with ants and cockroaches. Most recently my apartment floods every time it rains. One of the windows by my bed has been broken for months and it’s not tempered glass so if it falls out it could take my leg off. The bathroom window which is wooden and so warped and damaged by the rain that half of it fell out onto the toilet the other day is also the reason my bathroom floods as well. He has refused to fix any of this until I pay him more rent. 

I reminded him today that under the law here in Mexico the rent is due on the first of each month in accordance with the lease. The lease also states that any notice of eviction, termination by either party or changes, such as the rental amount, must be notified in writing thirty days in advance. He doesn’t care about the law. The last time I had had enough and told him that I would pay my rent into the court, as I am entitled to do, he shut the water and the electricity off on me. He is unquestionably the worst landlord I’ve ever had in my entire life. A total idiot! Now I was worried that he would change the locks on me and leave me on the street. Just adding to my stress.

My health is in equally bad shape. Somehow, maybe thanks to the climate here, I have managed to survive without my critical diabetic medications for more than eight months, although I still have insulin which is also about to run out very soon. Months ago John Kelly, the President of the Canadian Legion here, told me that I could get my medications from Seguro Popular, but after three trips to their office in Chapala the doctor said they couldn’t give me anything but my insulin. Better than nothing but not enough to deal with my diabetes, especially my very painful peripheral neuropathy in my feet.

Out of total desperation I tried to contact my doctor back in Belleville to see if there was any way for them to renew my medications. When I had not heard back from my wonderful nurse, Claudia, I took a chance and called the pharmacy. The pharmacist informed me that my doctor had been charged with some narcotics offense and the clinic had been shutdown. She was most empathetic and agreed to renew my meds for three months until I could find another doctor. My friend, Doral, back in Belleville agreed to pick them up for me and ship them to me. I just asked her to give me the size and weight of the carton so I could figure out what courier to use. Instead she sent them with Canada Post who are located in the pharmacy. The clerk said that I would have them in two weeks, which only shows how little Canada Post knows about the mail system, or rather lack thereof, here in Mexico. The shipment was January 19th. I received it five months later!

Could it get any worse? Oh, yeah! When I opened the small box it was insulin, not my dry meds! Obviously total garbage after sitting somewhere, not refrigerated, for five months. Why she would have picked up insulin instead of my dry meds, then shipped them by mail, destroying it in the process, is beyond me. Doesn’t everyone know that insulin must be kept refrigerated? Guess not. So, after five months of delay and then still not getting my meds I contacted Shoppers Drug Mart and explained the whole situation, asking if my proper meds could still be shipped? They refused despite telling them that it was death sentence for me. They’re in the health industry, professing to care, but they don’t.

Like any diabetic constantly at risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, even on the right medications, there is also a risk of losing hands or feet to amputation, vision damage including blindness, kidney failure, hearing loss, dental problems with fracturing teeth, infections, slow healing and even Alzheimer’s. Such fun! With your feet it is important that they are inspected regularly for any cracks or dryness and your nails must be cut to avoid fungal infections. Whenever I could afford it, which was all too rarely, Elisa at Doctor George cut my nails and inspected my feet. She also gave me some medication to treat some minor infection. After losing the GIS pension I had not been able to afford to see her so my nails were in terrible shape. I also dropped my mirror and broke it, so I couldn’t even check the bottom of my feet myself.                           

So many things have contributed to my current depression. Some big. Some small. One thing that has surprised me is that I believe, like most people do, that when you are in trouble, either from mental illness or severe depression, all you need to do is ask for help. Turns out that’s not true. I’ve begged for help from everyone. People I thought were friends. Family. Every level of government in Canada, from the Prime Minister’s Office on down, including the Minister responsible for Seniors. The Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Sheer, who is facing an election soon. I’ve begged every politician to restore the GIS for seniors who are just looking for somewhere that they can afford to live. I’ve asked them to increase pensions to at least the poverty level so seniors can live with some dignity. Not a single response from anyone. I went so far as to contact gopublic at the CBC, who didn’t care and wouldn’t pick up the cause. I emailed or tweeted every news organization in Canada trying to tell my story. Not just for me but for others who were also suffering. After watching a story about mental illness on The National on the CBC, about an organization in Ontario and funded by OHIP, called Big White Wall, I registered and sent them an email detailing my desperate situation and begging for help. I got no response. 

This is what you get when you ask for help? What is painfully obvious is that no one cares. You are alone in the world. Period. 

Another huge disappointment is with people I stupidly, naively thought were true friends. I’m not referring to my more than a thousand Facebook “friends” because few of them are friends or even people I know. Facebook just seems to be a case of he who has the most friends wins. Stupid! I did believe though that some of the “friends” I have made in my life, back in Canada, during my twenty-five plus years in Brampton, Ontario, my five years in London, Ontario, my two years in Belleville, Ontario and especially my fourteen years in BC, plus in Panama, in Ecuador, and here in Mexico, were people who actually cared. They would read or listen and offer to help in anyway they could, just like I would as a true friend. Boy, was I wrong! Not a soul has ever made a comment on this personal website in more than ten years. The only thing I ever got from Facebook “friends” was personal attacks telling me to “suck it up”, “get over yourself”, or “stop posting”. So cruel and dangerous at a time when you are so fragile. 

When I first arrived here in Mexico I met so many people and I thought I would soon have as many friends as I had back in BC. About forty at least. I met Francis who had helped me with that first apartment, his lovely wife, Anastasia, their friends, Violeta and Bill, who were the ones who soon got me and my love together, and just so many other wonderful people at the places Francis and Anastasia took me to the very first week I was here. I could not have been more thrilled to have met so many potential friends, if only because I have always been a very social person who loves being with a lot of people. I thought that this was going to be paradise here for sure. 

Well, it seems that just like everything else in my wasted life, that didn’t turn out to be true either. Just like when couples get divorced, people choose sides and you lose the friends you had as a couple. I don’t think that happened with us. It was more because I stopped going to all the places we had gone for months, like Adelita’s, because I just couldn’t face her, plus she married Don Row, a guy who had been my best friend before she dumped me. Seeing them together would have killed me so I just stopped going out. The friends I had before I got involved with her, Bill and Violeta, had their own troubles after Bill got very sick, spent months in hospital and Violeta cared for him. Something terrible happened because she suddenly went on a tirade to me against him swearing to never have anything to do with him anymore. I offered to get together and talk, but she never answered me, in fact, she never spoke to me again. We haven’t seen each other since January of last year and she has ignored my requests to get together to catch up. She was good friends with my former fiancee so I can only think that she was told some lies. 

On a hopefully less depressing topic and mostly if anyone who ever cared for me in any way ever actually reads this, I want to cover how hard I’ve tried to get ahead here and survive. I mentioned earlier that I hadn’t made a dime from my websites and that I have never understood. I’ve built what I believe is the best city portal website that I’ve ever built. There’s so much to offer, both to advertising clients at very affordable rates, and to visitors with tons of free features. I’ve just failed miserably to attract any paying clients or visitors, no matter how hard I’ve tried. It’s a mystery to me. 

Hard as I’ve worked on my websites though it isn’t all I’ve done to try to survive. For decades I’ve come up with business ideas that were eventually launched by others and it seems that I was always ahead of my time. Decades ago, back in Kelowna, BC I put together a group of companies to launch what today we know as the “cloud”, long before its time, but Microsoft had no vision of just what it could be and they squashed it. Ironically my slogan for our concept, called iNetworks, was “access anytime, anywhere and on any device”. Months later, after turning down our proposal, Microsoft launched their plan with the slogan, you guessed it, “access anytime, anywhere and on any device”. Had I had any money at the time I would have sued their ass off. 

At one point in my life, many years ago, I had a hard copy file chock full of ideas, drawings, written proposals, hand-drawn CAD renditions and more. Just one of them was for what I called The Future Shoppe, which was going to be a store featuring all the latest products. I paid a graphic designer to draw up a logo which was basically a light bulb logo showing the future. This was all long before the actual Future Shop started but is now closed. My idea would have been better. Years later I built a website for what I called Google World, featuring all the many apps they could easily create to serve every need, including what I told them to call Office Suite which would replace Microsoft Office. Of course they ignored me and now offer all the apps I proposed.

Speaking of Google I have been trying to connect with anyone in their senior ,management with an idea that would revolutionize the way we all use the digital world. I prepared a detailed proposal on how it would work and that it would make Google millions, if not billions. Despite spending hours of research on both Google Inc and Alphabet, their parent company, I have failed to contact anyone. Like so many companies when they become successful they insulate themselves from the real world and stop listening to the people who made them successful in the first place, believing now that only their own ideas have any merit. Quite obviously my proposal has remained closely guarded until I finally connected with someone who could be trusted to actually do something with it. My decision now is whether to post it publicly on this site so the world will know who came up with it, but I need to believe that anyone will ever read it. 

Going all the way back to when I lived in BC I got involved in developing websites, first with an ancient program called Hot Dog Pro, which was basically HTML coding. I built many sites of my own such as the Okanagan Manufactured Homeowners Association, later the Canadian Manufactured Homeowners Association, to fight the horrible situation with people getting evicted from mobile home parks where they had lived and invested in their homes for decades. I also formed a partnership with Westcorp in Edmonton and Chaparral Homes in Kelowna to build a unique manufactured home park on what was a Land Trust concept. Westcorp had unceremoniously been thrown out of Kelowna after proposing a two hundred and fifty million dollar waterfront project that would have invigorated all of Kelowna. They were willing to develop the infrastructure in exchange for an interest in the development company. Chaparral was willing to provide a model home and pay me a commission on home sales. I needed the involvement of the Westbank Indian Band, CMHC and the provincial government to agree to the Land Trust concept. The housing minister at the time, Rich Coleman, a total idiot, said that he didn’t want to disrupt the development of any planned parks in BC, despite the fact that none were planned. Yet another promising idea failed. 

As much as I really didn’t want to get involved in building websites here in Mexico, mostly because there were now sites like WIX where you could build your own sites, I needed the money so I created a site for myself called the Lakeside Design Group. That’s when I first met Sergio Gonzalez, one of the owners in the group that had taken overt the old Salvador’s restaurant. When I first met with him he said that they were going to call it Spago’s. I suggested that this was going to be a very bad idea because that was a world-wide registered trademark and no doubt they were going to sue. He didn’t listen. They installed a new sign for Spago’s and the next time I saw him he said they were buried with lawyers fighting Spago’s. Certainly they were. What else did they expect? Could you open a burger joint in Lakeside and call it McDonald’s? No way! Only the lawyers get rich. 

That started a search for another name. I liked Clasico and designed several logos for him, but it turned out that there were sixteen Clasico restaurants in Mexico so that was the end of that idea. He then said that they had come up with Scallion, which means “onion”. Not the best association for a restaurant but it was available. He wanted a logo that looked like ribbons and I managed to find a font called ribbons and designed his logo. He said he loved it! There was then the discussion about calling it Scallion or including Ajijic in the name. I suggested that it was kind of insulting to have a sign that included Ajijic as though people were too stupid to know that they were in Ajijic. I lost. They decided to call it Scallion Ajijic Bistro and I registered the domain name. I also suggested registering Scallion Bistro to protect themselves if they opened in other locations because obviously they couldn’t include Ajijic in the name. Eventually he agreed. 

I had found a website theme I thought would be great for them, called Elegantia and Sergio agreed. I met with him and his partner, Erick to discuss designing the site. I offered to build the site at far less than I would normally charge, only because I needed the money. For the first time in my career I also asked for a deposit, only because I was starving. They beat me down but eventually agreed and I got to work. What followed was at least ten times the work I had charged them for. It was a completely new theme for me and a new developer that I had never worked with before. Despite that they proved to be very good with support and even made some requested changes for me. Over far more hours than I had planned in my low price I managed to come up with a very good site, although there was still a lot of information I needed from Sergio to finish the site. That’s when the problems started. 

In my original meeting with Sergio and Erick I had carefully laid out a plan on what would be needed for their site. This included things like their social media links, photographs, specifically photos of their actual food, decision on including a blog, a reservation form, responding to customer comments and so on. They agreed to provide everything. Since then everything has been a total mess. Sergio sent me some twenty photos of food but didn’t tell me what menu items they were. I carefully prepared a return email to him showing a space under each photo that he could show me what menu items they were. That was weeks ago but no response. The photos on the menu are for items I had carefully researched and found comparable photos for, but not his actual food, which could result in huge problems when customers didn’t get what the photos showed. His social media was a disaster! Their Facebook page didn’t even have a photo and their hours were wrong. Someone else did their Facebook page for him and he didn’t have the login information for me. This was even worse because I was going to add Facebook Live for his planned cooking shows. It was the same with his Instagram account. He didn’t have the login information for that either so I couldn’t add all the photos he had. There were many other social media links I wanted to add but failed because he didn’t give me the information. I had created a special home page for the site which included their daily specials, which because he failed to provide me the Spanish version I had designed myself. They have a Sunday special and I had asked for the graphic for it at least ten times, but never gotten it. 

I sent him a detailed email listing some twenty-seven issues that needed to be resolved. Two weeks ago he said he wanted to come over to my place Sunday afternoon to review everything and get it finished. He never showed up or called or let me know what was going on. I was very upset and sent him a message that I would remove my logo from his site and provide the information for someone else to finish the site, stressing that high season would soon be upon us and the site needed to be finished, albeit not by me. He still hasn’t responded. That leaves me very confused and upset because I probably did at least forty thousand pesos of work for a measly five thousand. I also wanted to promote this site to the many other restaurants here to build their sites for them. Now I can’t do that because the site isn’t finished properly which is clearly not my fault.

Then I connected with Patrick O”Heffernan, who has a number of sites relating to what he calls Music Fridays Live. He has a Facebook page, an Instagram page, a YouTube channel and a podcast on BlogTalkRadio and wanted a new website to pull it all together. I admit that we had a tough time getting together and that I failed to follow my normal process to build a website for someone. First I meet with them to learn why exactly do they want a website. Sometimes it is only because they say everyone else has a site which is not a good reason. Once we have agreed on the website they want I go to work. First I research available domain names for them. Once I have found one that they agree on I register the domain name along with other similar names to protect them. I also offer free hosting which means I need to point the website to this, or what’s called the DNS (Domain Named Server). This can take about forty-eight hours to propagate and I can’t work on the site until it does. I then do a lot of research to find a theme for their site. This alone can take hours searching through numerous free sites and premium sites. Eventually I find several to recommend to the client. I then purchase the theme and start building the website for them. 

In this case I found a theme, called OnAir2 which seemed to fit the bill. I was confused by why I found this theme for only nineteen dollars one one site but fifty-nine on another. I thought something must be wrong, but after Patrick liked the theme I recommended that we buy it quickly before they discovered the mistake. What I didn’t notice and clearly should have was that this was the HTML version, not the WordPress version that we needed. Not only did Patrick not agree to let me handle the domain registration but he also setup an account with Envato and bought the theme, the wrong theme, himself. He also did not understand what adding the DNS records was all about so I could not start working on his site. Eventually everything got sorted out and his new site, MusicSinFronteras.com was live. Now there’s another problem because I can’t afford to renew my hosting so I have asked him to get his own account, preferably with my hosting company, so his site content can be moved. I’m still waiting. 

Just when I thought that my life could not get any worse, it has. Stay tuned.   

 

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.

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