Leaving a mark after you're gone.

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

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

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

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

By Gary C Jones, Canadian Citizen, November 2018

BACKGROUND

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

THE GOAL HERE IS TO PROPOSE COMMON SENSE SOLUTIONS

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

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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

ANIMAL RIGHTS 

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

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

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

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EDUCATION 

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

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

ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS 

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

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

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

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

EQUALITY 

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

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

GOVERNMENT 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GUNS 

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

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

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

HEALTH CARE 

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

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

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

HOUSING 

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

IMMIGRATION 

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

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

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

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

There will not be any artificial quota on immigration.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE 

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

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

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

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

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

MILITARY 

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

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

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

PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION 

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

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

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

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

SENIORS 

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

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

SEX WORKERS 

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

TAXES 

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

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

VOTING 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WORKERS’ RIGHTS 

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

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

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

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

Animal Rights 3
Crime and Punishment 3

Writing my own eulogy - first attempt and updated now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The DELL Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Dell

 


Another day in the life

Although no one will probably ever read these posts, no one who has ever experienced suicidal thoughts and feels so completely alone will understand how therapeutic writing can be in a time of such stress. Much of the reason for this site has been for my family, just in case they ever care after I'm gone. Being ostracized from my kids and grand-kids has been the regret of my life, especially when I have never known why. No question I had problems with my son and we didn't connect for many years after I moved out West to be with my dying mother. Then I reconnected with his daughter Danielle, and we chatted a fair bit. Chris suddenly connected and we had an eight hour, very expensive chat. Turned out he was facing some trouble because he was going to be charged with tampering with the mail. He was a contractor for Canada Post and they had added so many additional routes to him that he couldn't keep up. He started storing third class mail in his garage, so he was going to be charged with failing to deliver the mail, a very serious offense and he could well go to jail. He asked for my help. I spent a week researching the issue, including reaching out to the Postmaster General explaining the circumstances. Do to privacy concerns they said they had to deal with him directly. I prepared a detailed summary of everything I had learned and told Danielle on chat to have him call me collect. That was the last I heard from either one of them. He blocked me on Facebook. That was over ten years ago.

When I was back in London, Ontario Chris was a videographer for a dance troupe and they were coming to London. He suggested we get together. I have posted what a disaster that turned out to be, but the end result was we were going to get together with his three daughters that summer. I was thrilled at the prospect of meeting two of my granddaughters I didn't know. Months went by and I never heard from him. I eventually called him at the number he had given me, but the person who answered said she had got the phone from Chris. He blocked me on Facebook so I had no way to contact him. I was so disappointed that I would not get to meet my granddaughters.

At one point I had found a photo of Chris' daughters and posted it on my Facebook page. I immediately got a message from Danielle threatening to report me to Facebook if i didn't delete the photo. After all our great chats I was totally confused by what she did but I removed the photo from Facebook. It's still on this site because no one controls what I post here, although some have tried.

I am even more confused by Heather. First, as I have also detailed in another post, she was the one who encouraged me to stay out West and not return to her mother. She said she had never seen me happier. I cried my eyes out for hours after she left and went home, but I just couldn't stand the idea of leaving her so I went back to Brampton. Big mistake. When my mother was struck with terminal cancer I had to be with her for whatever time she had left. The doctors had given her less than a five percent chance of surviving more than six months. Although leaving Heather was one of the hardest things I had ever done, I thought she would come out on vacation again. She appeared to completely understand and agree that I needed to be with my mother and she was the one who had encouraged me to stay years earlier.

Sometime later in the fall I came home and my Dad said Heather had called inviting me to come down for her convocation and she would let me know when. I was thrilled she wanted me there. I was so proud of her, as I always was. Then I got another message that she had changed her mind and would attend a different convocation in the fall. We did actually connect and I said I needed to see her because I missed her and I needed to know what was going on. She agreed and I drove through the dead of winter across the country to Brampton. When I got to her apartment where she lived with her mother she wasn't there. No message for me. I spent hours trying to find her, even going to Mayfield, her school, but I never found her. Eventually Chris told me that they, her mother and new husband, had hidden her away and wouldn't let me see her. I hung around at Chris and Tina's place for three weeks trying to see Heather, but got nowhere. I cried all the way back on the drive to back to Westbank. I was clueless as to why she had agreed to see me, but then changed her mind after I had driven across the country in such dangerous conditions. I didn't know if this was her decision or her mother's. It broke my heart. Back then I never knew that I would never have any contact with her for the next twenty-five years.

So, back to today. That my new friend, Norma, had dropped by to check on me yesterday made me feel a little better. I was determined to find a way to get my meds. I connected with my friend, Doral, in Belleville, who said she was willing to help me. Now it was a matter of getting my prescriptions renewed at the pharmacy in Belleville and, if necessary, getting my doctor to go along knowing I was in Mexico. Big challenges but I am desperate.

No sooner had I got another glimmer of hope that I might get my meds and not die than I got yet another cruel message posted on Facebook, for all to see, from a guy I thought was my friend, Francis Dryden. It was very mean and cruel so I just deleted it and blocked him. I will never understand why people hurl cruel comments at you when they know how much you are already suffering.

In my desperate attempts to survive I had started a GoFundMe campaign to help me right now with my meds and urgent issues like keeping my business alive, but also to help others in my type of situation in the future. I just asked for a single dollar from anyone. My dear famous friend, Andrea Pearson, who I have always adored, had posted a video about having problems in your life and how much she appreciated the help of friends. I posted a comment about my situation. I told her about the GoFundMe campaign and asked for her permission to add another comment to her post, to which she agreed. Although I appreciated that, I didn't want to appear to be taking advantage of her, so I asked if she would consider just adding a simple comment abut my campaign. If she didn't want to do that I understood. I asked if she might donate that critical first dollar to the campaign. No response.

I sent another Facebook private message to her telling her that I completely understood her position and that she had to protect her own reputation. I wished her good luck with her career. To my great shock I got a response from her sister, Laurie, accusing me of sending "unkind" messages to Andrea. I have no idea what "unkind" messages she is referring to as I have never once said anything negative to Andrea. I adore her and have always been supportive of her, as I have of Laurie, in every way. Laurie's attack really hurt me. Although Laurie and I are not Facebook friends, despite my many attempts to friend her, her attack is just more evidence of how little people understand how hurtful and dangerous their cruel words can be to someone who is already suffering more than they can stand. These people don't know if I have a gun or not. Their attack could well be the final stroke that pushes a person over the edge. Is that really what they want?

As if I needed more, my hosting company, domain.com, charged me for a renewal of one of my sites. Back in July I had given them clear instructions not to auto renew any of my domains. I was also in the process of changing the domains from dot com to dot com dot mx, so I certainly didn't want to renew any of the dot coms. I went on their chat and had the most frustrating chat with the dumbest person, who just made me angry. I gave her the support ticket where I had specifically told them not to auto renew any of my sites. The ticket included their response listing all the sites that had been updated. I didn't realize at the time that this one site was not showing on the list. She refused to refund the charge despite clear evidence that the charge should not have been made. She has given me her manager's email address so I wrote to him explaining what had happened.

No sooner had I sent my email to him than I checked my bank and I had been charged for renewing three other sites! I am already struggling with no money so this was the last thing I needed right now. I sent another email demanding that they reverse all the charges.

Again, I have touched many times on the ten years of trouble I have had with Dell. The lettering on the keys on their laptops wears off prematurely because the lettering is not inset on the keys so every time you use the keys it wears off a little more. The first time they replaced the keyboard under warranty in Panama I asked the tech to send my old keyboard to manufacturing, wherever that was back then. I made reference to a previous IBM ThinkPad I had used where the writing was inset and always looked like the day it was new. I suggested it was a simple matter to redo the mold for the keyboard to have the writing inset. He agreed. Well, more than ten years later the keyboard has been replaced on three different laptops, all under warranty, at great expense to Dell, in Panama, Ecuador, Canada and Mexico. No doubt thousands of dollars that could have easily been avoided by Dell.

In replacing my keyboard on my most recent laptop twice the motherboard has blown up, once in Canada and once here. Although replaced again under warranty I had finally had enough. To me there was no question that the keyboard would fail again and there was an obvious possibility that the motherboard would blow again. I insisted that they replace this laptop with a desktop to avoid this possibility. I also told them to send the desktop with a proper keyboard. What did they do? Although they did send a decent desktop, not one of equal value to what I had paid for the laptop mind you, they sent the cheapest keyboard possible. I found it on Amazon for FIVE DOLLARS! Within a few days the writing is already starting to wear off. Not only that, some of the keys have stopped working. I will click on a key and just get a blank space. Then when I try again the key will start repeating across the screen until I stop it by hitting a different key.

I expressed my anger that after ten years of total frustration, not to mention the numerous hours of downtime this had cost me, that I would not be returning the laptop until they sent me a decent keyboard. Their response? They sent me site links for two of their keyboards, but it turned out they were only available in the States, so this means waiting at least three weeks to get here. There's an obvious chance that the keyboard I have will totally fail so I told them this was not good enough. I found a better keyboard available on Amazon.com.mx which could be here in a day, meaning that the distributor had them in stock here in Mexico. Dell replied that they couldn't supply that one. Talk about the proverbial mountain out of a molehill! A solution proposed over ten years ago that would not have cost them a dime, but they have ignored that and made this hell on wheels. Clueless!

Yet another horrible, stressful day.

 

 

 


As the saying goes, "Is that all there is?"

Unless you are Albert Einstein or Bill Gates it's probably not a good time to summarize your life. Have you been "successful" in the eyes of others? Has your life had a positive impact on people's lives? Have you made costly mistakes that have now put you in such a depressive state that you want to end it all? Do you matter to anyone? Has your life just been a waste? Is anyone going to miss you?

After some very tough years, ending up living in a group home in Belleville, Ontario and, in fact, overstaying my welcome there, I had no idea what to do. After disastrous experiences moving to Panama and Ecuador I wanted to give it one more try in Mexico, so I hoped to go for six months on a tourist visa. By a quirk of fate I was given a Canadian Tire MasterCard, which I didn't deserve having gone bankrupt twice, but it allowed me to book my flights. I had found an apartment in Ajijic that was cheaper than just my room in Belleville. A lot of research told me the cost of living was much cheaper, so off I went last September.

I fell in love with the area the first day I arrived. My apartment was even better than I expected and thanks to my new friends, Francis and Anastasia, I met a lot of great people who I thought were going to be great friends. A couple of weeks after I arrived I met the love of my life, Elba. It quickly became the relationship of my dreams. I had never had this kind of love before. Relationships are always complicated but this one was just incredible. Despite our age difference of twenty years and the fact she spoke no English, every minute together was pure magic, for me at least. Although not what was intended when I gave her a replacement ring on New Years everyone congratulated us on getting engaged. Her two sons, Jonathan and Kevin, loved calling me Dad and her family kept telling us to hurry up and get married. I had never been so happy in all my life.

My plan to just check out Mexico for six months quickly changed. I needed to go back to Canada to apply for my temporal visa to return to Mexico and get married. Elba insisted on joining me on the trip although I told her I could not afford her flights, so she agreed to pay for them. I have gone into great detail on what a total disaster the trip was in another post, so I won't repeat myself here. As far as it relates to this post what happened only contributed to where I find myself today. When we returned and she ended our relationship in a simple text message it nearly killed me. It was the hardest thing in my life. I felt totally worthless and just wanted to end it all. The future was destroyed and I didn't even know why I was back in Mexico now. Getting married and all the dreams we had shared together were now shattered. I saw no reason to go on.

Thanks to a couple of good friends at the time they convinced me that I wasn't worthless and urged me to go on. Time heals all wounds. Not true for me. My life had been turned upside down and the wonderful memories of our time together have haunted me everywhere I go. I also had no clue why she had so abruptly dumped me. Still don't. She refused to tell me why. She refused to answer my pleading text messages or talk to me. At one point she simply said she wanted me to "disappear". What a great thing to say to someone who's suicidal.

Then a month or so ago I discovered I had only twenty-eight dollars in the bank and I whole lot of month left. I had also run out of my critical medications for my diabetes. No food. No meds. No hope. I reached out for help from anyone. I offered to sell an interest in my website business. I applied to the local Canadian Legion for a small loan to get me through. Although a couple of people offered small amounts of money for food this was not a solution to the mess I was in. After a day of not eating and drinking far too much, which is not normal for me, I was crying my eyes out in horrible depression and just wanted to end it all. A friend sent over a doctor and two of her colleagues to talk me down. She offered help in not letting them take my dog from me. She offered help with money and some work. She offered help with getting my meds. She gave me hope. She took my bottle of rum, which considering the condition I was in was probably a good thing.

The next morning they came without warning and took my dog, Rollie. Then despite all the offers of help Dr. Lupita basically disappeared on me. Luckily John Kelly, President of our local Canadian Legion, called me and we had a very long conversation. We talked about getting my meds through Seguro Popular, which I didn't even know was possible. We talked about a small loan from the Legion to help me get things in order, most importantly to keep my business alive that I had worked so hard on for so long. Again, that glimmer of hope appeared.

Now, three weeks later that glimmer has gone dark again. Seguro Popular said they can't help me with any of my meds. My blood sugars have been hovering around thirty, which is very dangerous because at thirty-two you risk slipping into a coma. Although I couldn't afford the hospital anyway, falling into a coma would mean the end because no one would discover me in time. At least I would go quietly and not need to deal with suicide.

All the horrendous issues coming at me every day, like the numerous issues with my idiot landlord, like no hot water, no electricity and no internet, were just daily hurdles that challenged my patience, but nothing was worse than what happened with my "friends". The reaction to my painfully honest post about ending it all was such vicious attacks on me. How these people could be so cruel and not get how dangerous their mean words were to someone already on the edge just baffled me completely. The only way for me to survive was to block and ban them. I simply couldn't take anymore.

That no one in my long list of six hundred supposed Facebook "friends" gave a damn came as quite the shock. Even my new found granddaughter, Mackenzie, didn't respond. I had been so looking forward to meeting her finally when she came to Mexico for a wedding next year. I apologized that I would not be here and explained why, but even that got no reaction from her. I got the same reaction from colleagues back in Canada, some of whom are rich beyond compare. I had sent detailed investment proposals to them, not just investing in the website business. Things that would make them a lot of money, but got zero response.

Still fighting not to just give up I started a GoFundMe campaign asking for just a dollar. I had seen sixty or seventy million people view and comment on the dumbest things so I thought they might be willing to invest a single dollar. Not a single response. I even asked my famous friend Andrea Pearson to add a post on her Facebook page encouraging people to visit my campaign but got nothing other than a private message that she hoped things would improve for me. I even asked her if she might donate that first dollar to kick start the campaign, but got nothing. My life is not even worth a person donating a dollar? How's that for "is that all there is?"

I'm not looking for pity or charity. I am looking for a reason to go on. I just hope that anyone who knows me understands just how hard I've tried to go on. Without my critical meds it will all be academic soon. I don't know how I will be remembered, if at all. Maybe just some nutcase, but I just want anyone who ever cared about me in any way to know how hard I tried.

Gracias.

 


A Day in the Life

No doubt most people will think this is a weird exercise but once again being at great risk of slipping into a coma I hate to just go and have no one know what happened. If you suddenly see no more updates, well, then you will know I'm gone. At this point that would be a blessing for both you and me.

If you have been following my posts on Facebook about my meds, which I doubt because that thunderous sound you hear if no one caring. No one. I have been out of my critical diabetic medications for three weeks now and my blood sugar levels have been hovering in dangerous territory, around thirty. Coma time if thirty-two so that's why I thought that the end was near. I've been doing everything humanly possible to save myself. Posts on Facebook begging for help, which only got me ridiculed. Emails to everyone I've ever known or had contact with. I even started a GoFundMe campaign asking for just a single dollar to help me. No response. Not a single person in the world willing to invest just one dollar to save me.

At seven this morning my "medical consultant" called to tell me to get to Seguro Popular as soon as possible. No time for a shower so I just threw on some clean clothes. It was going to be extremely difficult to walk to get the bus because the pain of the peripheral neuropathy in my feet is excruciating without my meds but I told him I would try.  I guess he knew how tough it was going to be because he picked me up half way down the street. We stopped at the bank on the way so I could pay him. We got to Seguro Popular and the place was packed. He took me to the long line-up where you checked in. Had your blood pressure taken and your blood tested. Weighed and checked how tall you were. There were at least ten people ahead of me in line. What I found strange was that when a person was finished another person would suddenly appear from nowhere and sit down. Not someone who was standing in the line. There was a white-haired man at the front of the line, but when someone sat down in front of him he just looked perplexed but didn't question why he wasn't next. Then they opened another table for this process not far away. Same thing again. People appeared out of nowhere to be processed. I swear one of them had just walked through the door. No waiting for these special people. All very confusing.

After about half an hour and having finally made it through the line I asked the nurse, Claudia if I had to stay to wait for my doctor's appointment at 12:00? She said no. Just be back before twelve. So I was starving because I had no time to eat breakfast before rushing off. I asked if there was a restaurant nearby where I could get a coffee and some bakery things. A nice gentleman outside gave me directions but after walking more than I could handle I asked them at a taco place if they had coffee. Thankfully they did and it was good. I ended up having a potato taco which was also good. After too many coffees and a bottle of water I asked where the bathroom was, but they didn't have one. They told me the closest one was two block down at the bus station. Another consequence of my screwed up meds has been a lack of bladder control. At home I normally get up three times a night to pee and during the day probably go twenty times, often with little notice and many times I don't think I'll make it in time. So, here I am with too much liquid in me and urgently in need of a bathroom but I'm blocks away and in no condition to run.

I finally get there, worrying all the way that I'm just going to blow out my shorts before I get there. By the time I wade through the crowd getting on their buses, find the bathroom and pay the lady for my toilet paper I'm on the verge of losing it when I finally get in my stall, and I do, peeing my pants before I sit down. Oh great! Now I'm on my way to see a doctor and I've peed my pants. How embarrassing!

On the way rushing to the bus station I had passed a barbershop where I would love to have had time to shave off my very itchy hair, but I would be late getting back to Seguro Popular so I figured I would come back after finishing there. After all this my heart skipped a beat at the thought of finally getting my meds. A glimmer of hope. That didn't last long after the doctor called my name, took one look at my list of meds and said they couldn't help me with any of them. This after three trips down. Paying Arturo. Not to mention all the people who had told me that I would be able to get my meds through them. My heart sank.

Arturo had told me to call him if I had any problems but he didn't answer his phone or respond to my text messages that I sent him. I was lost. Despite being starving I went back to the barber to at least get rid of my itchy hair. I asked the barber where I could get a hamburger and he told me the Malecon. Now that had my bearings from the bus station I knew the Malecon was a long walk but I was starving so off I went. On the walk I saw a store selling ice cream and I noticed the milkshake makers. They made me a chocolate milkshake, well, more chocolate milk than a shake. While waiting for my shake I noticed that also had hamburgers on the menu so I ordered one. Not great but I was too hungry to care.

It was a nice day so I thought I would wander down to the Malecon now that I wasn't starving. I had asked Arturo if we could go to Soriana after I was finished and he said he had an appointment but maybe later we could so I had some time to kill. On the way down I passed a lady selling some jelly for pain. After a pleasant chat I confessed that I had only stopped to talk to her because she was so beautiful. That got a a smile.

When I got to the Malecon I found a bench down by the water and sat down. As I looked out at the lake and saw the boats along the beach my thoughts once again turned to that long swim out in the lake too far to make it back. My focus became just not to break down in tears as my mind wondered what I could do. I figured it might be very traumatic for the boat operator to take me out and be told I just wanted overboard and for him to leave. Then my logical mind wondered if he would understand my request to take my messenger bag, my wallet and my phone. Would he understand my instructions to call Christine? Maybe he would just throw everything overboard on his way back.

I was so tired I just needed to lie down on the not very comfortable bench. I almost moved because the sun was so intense without any shade but I was tired enough not to care. I drifted off. An hour or so later I was awakened because I was in a downpour. Couldn't move faster to get undercover. Called Arturo several times to get home but no answer. Sort of gave up and called Salvadore, one of my Uber drivers. Told him I needed to go to Soriana then home. He said he was on his way. I told him I would meet him at the Chapala sign. An hour later no Salvadore. My phone was about to go dead but I called him and got some crazy explanation about the police. He said he would send someone else and thankfully he did.

I forgot half the stuff I needed at Soriana but got some important things like milk. Got home and crashed for about three hours. Long day. No success. Back where I started with no meds and no hope.

 

 

 


You can't give up hope when you have none to give up

Looks like this will be my last post, literally the "last post". It has been the most difficult week of my life. Last week at this time I was so depressed and ready to give up. My only question was how to kill myself?

My dear friend, Christine Philipson, was so worried about me last Monday night that she sent a Doctor Lupita and her colleagues to my apartment late at night to talk to me. I was crying uncontrollably at the thought of losing my dog, Rollie, and I only had twenty-eight dollars in my bank for food for the rest of the month. I was out of many of my important medications for my diabetes and could not afford more. My website business, primarily AjijicToday.com.mx, that I had worked so hard on for over a year was in shambles because I did not have the money for my hosting and other things I desperately needed to keep it going. I had other medical issues like my urgent dental work to replace a crown, but I did not have the two thousand pesos to finish it. I did not see any way to go on and urgently needed help to survive.

Dr. Lupita held my hand, got me to stop crying and told me not to give up hope. She told me she would not let them take my dog, Rollie. She offered money to buy food. She said she would help me to get my medications. She even offered me some work to earn some money. That did not solve everything, but it gave me some small glimmer of hope.

The next day, first thing in the morning, without warning, they came and took Rollie, which broke my heart. Dr. Lupita said she would tell them that it would be the very worst time to take him from me, but they didn't care. Their only concern was the dog but he was in no danger. I had food for him and I loved him to death. It was like losing a child. Again I could not stop crying and only wished that I had a gun to end this pain.

Then I got a call from John Kelly, the President of the Canadian Legion here. He scolded me for refusing the help I needed and went on to suggest that the Legion would help me. He said they would give me a small loan to keep me going, saying that they had just helped a lady to buy a car. I felt that my needs were far more justified and more modest than buying a car. He said there was a meeting on Wednesday to discuss it and he would call me around noon on Thursday. I followed this up with a detailed explanation of how much I needed and why. I requested the modest sum of forty thousand pesos, repayable at two thousand pesos a month and allowing me to pay it off early once the business started earning money. He said he would let me know after their meeting, which was now planned a day later.

Initially Dr. Lupita was angry about what happened with the dog, so she said she was fighting to get him back to me. She came back telling me that they would "consider" giving him back to me, in THREE MONTHS! They also said I could "visit" him, as though that would make everything just fine. I told Dr. Lupita to give up on getting him back to me because it was pointless and I had equally big problems that I needed help with, like food and medications.

For some unknown reason she then disappeared. No one could find her, not even her nurse or John Kelly, who understood that she was looking after getting my medications. He told me that he had spent the day running back and forth between Ajijic and Chapala trying to get my medications. He said that there was an organization called Secours Populaire that would provide my medications free of charge. When I asked him about the loan he said he would now let me know on Monday. Luckily I had received a small tax rebate from the Canadian government that allowed me to buy some much needed food. That made me feel a little better. At least I wouldn't starve to death.

If you wonder if Dr. Lupita knew the terrible state I was in, I had messaged her asking if an insulin overdose would work? I told her I did not have the courage to swim out in the lake far enough that I could not make it back. I told her I did not want to hang myself here because of the trauma that would cause to the children who lived here. My research about an insulin overdose was inconclusive about whether that would work and I did not want to just end up in hospital instead because I could not afford that either. Her reaction to my pathetic mental state was simply to just ignore me. Very strange for a doctor.

Then John Kelly sent me a short message that the Legion could not help me with a loan because they "didn't have that kind of money". Considering that they did have the money for a car loan for someone else I figured that was just a way of saying we don't want to help you and we don't care what that might do to you.

On top of everything I was going through I was also the victim of vicious attacks after my honest post about what happened with Rollie. Regardless of whether people gave a damn about me I knew they cared for Rollie and I just felt I should let them know why I suddenly had no more photos or stories about our wonderful lives together. First I was threatened and told to delete the post which I refused to do because I felt people needed to know the truth. Then I got truly vile messages saying things like "suck it up", "stop feeling sorry for yourself"and worse. Although these hurt, I realized just how these people were really showing how little they understood mental health and how dangerous their comments could be to someone already on the edge.

It is said that true friends are there in both good times and bad, especially bad, when you need their nonjudgmental support the most. During my year here I thought I had some of those kinds of friends. I could not have been more wrong. Someone I thought was a real friend since before I even came here to Mexico, Francis Dryden, ignored my request for help and instead picked this time to dump on me about the mistakes he felt I had made with my websites. He said my sites were "just a bunch of worthless code" and nothing more. He said if I had listened to him and done the things he had suggested I would not be in this mess. This despite the fact that I had been in this city portal business for thirty years and done the exact same project before in both Panama and Ecuador. He knows little about designing websites or the business, but somehow he knew better than me? I even sent him an email transferring ownership of my website business to him and hoping that he didn't mind looking after getting rid of my stuff because my executor is back in London, Ontario. No response even to that very clear message.

Shortly after arriving here I met Jack Irish when he moved into the house in La Floresta. We became instant friends and spent many an hour over coffee in the mornings or drinks at night talking about a host of topics. He shared his hard to believe story about some money thing he had been involved in for some six years already, one that was going to make him a multi-millionaire soon. We spent hours talking about all the good projects he planned to do here in Mexico and how I could be involved. He would buy a house for my fiancee, Elba and I to live in, rent free. We declined saying we would pay whatever rent we could afford. He offered to just give me money for my website business, but, again, I said I would only consider an investment and partnership. He said we would "talk" after his millions came in, soon.That was months ago.

Then I went through the devastating experience of Elba, breaking up with me by text message with no explanation. I loved her unconditionally, more than I had ever loved anyone in my life. We had just returned from Canada where I applied for my visa to return to Mexico and get marry her. I was not only in love with her but also her amazing family who all loved me and wanted us to hurry up and get married. Of course I had lost my own kids when they wanted nothing to do with me, so now having her sons, Jonathan and Kevin, tell me they loved me being their new Dad was just awesome. Suddenly, without warning, I had lost that all in a simple text message and had no idea why.

Instead of being a good friend when I needed him the most, Jack chose instead to blame me for everything, regardless of the fact that he knew nothing about what had actually happened. That really hurt. When I told him I had enough of his arrogance telling me what I could and could not do, and blaming me for being "so stupid", he ended our friendship. Although later more by accident at Arnie and Barbs, we got back together again, but he ended our friendship again and hasn't spoken to me in weeks.

I sent him a heartfelt message saying I was sorry he had ended what I thought was a close friendship and just letting him know what a mess I had found myself in. I didn't ask for financial help because I knew he had none to give. He didn't respond and today I learn that he has apparently sent out what has been referred to as a very "vitriolic" message about Elba and I. After six months I thought our break-up was ancient history so I have no idea why he did that, but maybe he just wants to finish me off and take credit for it.

You earn some friendships literally over a lifetime. Regardless of not getting any response from those I naively considered to be friends here in Mexico I did get some very warm and encouraging messages from people back in BC, Canada and from Ecuador. They all expressed sadness at how things had turned out for me and encouraged me to go on in spite of the problems I faced. They gave me words of encouragement, telling me that I wasn't worthless and hoping I would get through this very difficult time. They are good friends who clearly understand how a few words of support can make a huge difference and I thank them sincerely.

When someone gives up and takes their own life it is always sad, but there is also that feeling of guilt by people who feel that they should have known, recognized the cries for help, and done something. Anything. Although there are a lot of folks here who should feel that shame because they not only refused to help, but also thought this was a good time to criticize and insult me, I know and accept that for them it will be like that old adage - if you want to know how much you'll be missed, stick your finger in a bucket of water then remove it and you will see just how much you will be missed.

Certainly I have a very long list of regrets, all of which I take full responsibility for. There is no one else to blame for my dreams crashing into pieces except me. I know all too well the mistakes I have made, what I deserve to be punished for and what I don't. I can only say that I have always tried to do my best. I have treated people with the respect I hoped to earn from them. I have never knowingly tried to hurt anyone.

My biggest regret in my life is what happened with my children and I go to my demise having never understood why they cut me out of their lives. My daughter chose to have nothing more to do with me over twenty-five years ago and this has hurt me immensely every single day since. We always had a wonderful father-daughter relationship and she was the one who encouraged me to leave my terrible marriage and move out West. I couldn't leave her then, but I did years later when my mother had cancer and was given less than a five percent chance of surviving more than six months (she lasted nineteen years). I had to be with her. It killed me to leave Heather but I thought we would be together again soon when she came out to visit. After she said that she actually wanted to see me I drove down from BC in the dead of winter to see her, but my ex and her new husband hid her away from me. I have never understood why. Despite being married for twenty-three years he wouldn't even let me have coffee with my ex-wife.

My daughter has two sons I have never met. My son and his girlfriend had three daughters, only one I had met when she was just a baby, Danielle. Although it is yet another long and complicated story from my youth I also have another son, Andrew, who had decided he wanted nothing to do with me either, regardless of how hard I tried to connect with him. Andrew has actually met my son and daughter, a most complicated situation to say the least. He and my son, Chris, look like twins. Two years ago I reconnected with my granddaughter, Mackenzie, on Facebook. She was very angry that her parents had told her I was dead. She felt that it was her decision whether she connected with me or not. I was overjoyed that we had found each other at long last. She was now fourteen years old and totally gorgeous. She told me that she was coming to Mexico next May for a wedding and that she would let me know where so we could meet. Nothing in the world had ever given me more hope in the future than meeting her and I couldn't wait. Of course, that was then and this is now. I honestly don't know if she is going to be angry with me now or just disappointed a little. Forgive me, darling. Someday you will understand better.

Not that I am in any position to give advice to anyone, but I did want to share one aspect of my life that had a truly devastating effect on my entire life and one I hope others can avoid. I want to be very clear that there was nothing criminal about what I did, which even the Crown Attorney who prosecuted me agreed with, and no one lost a penny. Although the exact circumstances of what happened were only ever of concern to the RCMP, who apparently spent over two million dollars on a wild goose chase, it involved the disposition of forklifts that had been damaged by sea water on their trip overseas from Japan. The shipment was fully insured so there was no loss to the company I worked for at the time, American Hoist. After I arranged for the insurance settlement I was given clear instructions that the forklifts were to be destroyed, which was my plan.

Shortly after one of our dealers from Nova Scotia, Sam Osmond, came to our location in Brampton. He met with Terry, our warehouse manager, and they had a conversation about the fact that there were numerous forklifts in the shipment that would still be good for parts. They agreed that is was a shame that they would all be ground up and destroyed. Sam came to talk to me and suggested that he was willing to take the shipment off our hands as we had been instructed to do, but he wanted to offer us some "compensation". I told him that the company had already been paid the insurance settlement so there was no way we could "sell" the goods to anyone. He said he understood but would talk to our General manager, Gerry Waterhouse. Later that day I was summoned to a meeting with Sam, Gerry and Terry. They had apparently agreed to "sell" the shipment to Sam for thirty thousand dollars in cash. All I was asked to do was to issue an invoice to Sam for zero dollars, clearly marked "sold as is, where is, with no warranty expressed or implied". I didn't see any problem with that because it showed that we had disposed of the goods as directed, so I had done my job.

Later, Gerry, who remember was my boss, said that I had been elected to fly down to Dartmouth to pickup the money. In exchange the thirty thousand dollars would be split equally, three ways, me, Gerry and Terry. Ten thousand each. To this day I remember wondering if I was just being played, especially by Terry who I never got along with, but at the time I was struggling financially and ten thousand dollars was sure attractive. I agonized over whether I had done my job properly or if there was something dangerous about doing this. I realized that I had done my job totally and the company had not lost a dime. It all made sense to me at the time.

Unfortunately at this exact same time Gerry and I had been approached to take on another line of forklifts from Japan by a company called NYK. For several other reasons, all of them the fault of management at American Hoist, we knew that it was a house of cards that would soon collapse, leaving us out of a job. Because of the contract between TCM in Japan and American Hoist we were not allowed to take on another line, even though the products from NYK, electric forklifts, were not competitive to TCM. It looked like a golden opportunity too good to miss. On our way flying down to Chicago to meet with the executives from NYK we formed our company, Canada Lift, at least that's what we would tell the Japanese.

Soon after landing the distribution for Canada from NYK I organized a floor plan financing program with the Bank of Nova Scotia and we held a dealer meeting at the Millcroft Inn in Caledon. The dealers, many of whom were TCM dealers, were most impressed and they placed orders for over a quarter of a million dollars worth of NYK products. We had the Letter of Credit in place with the bank so we were off and placed our much welcomed order with NYK.

Not long after, both of us were escorted off the premises of American Hoist's TCM division and duly fired. Shortly after that we were given the opportunity to turn ourselves in to police voluntarily. We learned that we were being charged with several offenses, mostly conspiracy to commit fraud. From our previous employees we learned that the RCMP had turned the place upside down looking for evidence to support these charges. Of course, there was none because there never was any conspiracy.

At our later trial I was most unlucky to have the dumbest Legal Aid lawyer ever. I wrote out the questions to ask that would have clearly disclosed to the jury that there was no conspiracy and not a penny had been lost by American Hoist, but he completely ignored me. Sam Osmond, the dealer, took the stand and basically played dumb Newfie, saying that he knew nothing. Joe Barone, the President of American Hoist, took the stand and basically said he knew nothing about nothing. Even my poor assistant, Betty White (not that Betty), took the stand and admitted she had no clue what anybody was talking about. It was all a total farce, but, boy, did I pay the price!

Mostly because the actual "facts" never came out in the trial I think that the jury was totally confused, but they thought that if the RCMP had spent millions on this investigation there must be something illegal here. They dropped most of the conspiracy charges but found us guilty of fraud. I still have no idea who was defrauded out of anything, but it was what it was. Outside the courtroom even the Crown Attorney said that the only reason I had been convicted was because of my stupid lawyer. When it came time for sentencing he was one of my best witnesses, admitting to the judge that he had failed to see any evidence of any fraud or any loss. Jon Leheup, the President of the company I worked for at the time, Indal Products, also gave a glowing description of how valuable I was to the company and that he would regret losing me if I went to jail. Given the severity of the charges, but the total lack of any evidence, the judge sentenced us both to ninety days to be served on weekends. As much as I may have dodged a bullet at the time, I had no idea how disastrous this was going to be for the rest of my life.

After losing our jobs earlier and despite being charged and facing a trial Gerry and I had to continue on with life. We both felt that we would never be convicted because there was nothing to be convicted of. I had some serious regrets about being the one who had gone to collect the money because the RCMP had my flight records and my hotel bills, so they had me on that, but, so what? It proved I went to Dartmouth to visit one of our dealers but what else did it prove? Nothing. Even Sam wasn't stupid enough to admit to paying the thirty thousand dollars that he gave me on the trip.

We had rented an office and warehouse in Oakville, getting ready to receive our first shipment from NYK, all of which was pre-sold and we were working on our next order. That all came crashing down when we got a call from the Bank of Nova Scotia saying they wanted to see us at their Head Office in Toronto. When we got there we learned that our floor plan financing had been cancelled. Our Letter of Credit which gave us six months of free financing had been pulled. We suddenly had no way to pay for the NYK order that was on a ship heading to us and no way to ship the trucks to our dealers. Regardless of how hard we pushed to understand why they refused to give us any answers. One of the people in the meeting with the bank was their lawyer who just kept shaking his head no every time we asked a question.

On the way down from the bank's penthouse office we stopped into a very famous lawyer's office to see what we could do. After a lengthy conversation with him he said we would unquestionably win. The bank was clearly at fault. Good news, until he then said the bank would drag us through the courts for probably ten years and he would need a retainer of fifty thousand dollars! I still remember his fateful words. In Canada it's not how much justice you have. It's how much you can afford. We knew at that exact moment that we were done.

So everything I had worked so hard for was gone. No choice but to accept that we had been defeated and lost our business and all the profits that would have come in the future. Our weekends at the Metro West Detention Center were a lesson in humility. Yes, we called the guards Boss and we were stripped of any dignity we ever had. After a while we were sent out on charitable works like peeling potatoes and cleanup in various group kitchens where we were always treated like child molesters. Some people may well feel that the punishment did not fit the crime, but I can tell you it was horrible. My one saving grace was that my son had a hockey tournament in Lake Placid. A really big deal. They actually let me go which shocked the hell out of my son.

After my three months were finally done I tried to get back to a semblance of a normal life. I applied for a really good job and was within minutes of getting it when they called and said I lost it because I had a criminal record. That was the case for the rest of my life. I tried on numerous occasions to apply for a pardon. I wrote to every single Minister in the government but got nowhere. Eventually I learned from my local MP that I had a twelve hundred dollar fine that I never knew about. Then the Minister at the time, Vic Toews, changed the entire pardon system and I was told that after I paid the fine I could apply for a record suspension, as it was now called, in just TEN YEARS! I gave up hope of ever being cleared or that I would ever get a job again. At one point I was going to be hired for two weeks at Christmas at a call centre, but the day before I was to start they called and said that their client couldn't accept anyone who had a criminal record.

Facing the fact that I would never be pardoned and never get a job I planned to move to Panama, which I had been researching for months,  hoping to put all this behind me. No sooner had I got to the border then they told me to pull over. The midget, failed police officer with Homeland Security asked me about my criminal record. What followed was three hours of questioning like I was a convicted child molester, fingerprinting, and telling me it didn't matter if I ever got a pardon in Canada because that meant nothing to them, and then barring me from even flying through a US airport. I quickly drove back to West Kelowna, stopping into BCAA to get a direct flight from Vancouver to Panama City that night. Panama sure didn't work out for me, getting arrested when the girl who worked for me, Verushka Valenzuela, lied about me being a drug smuggler, in the country illegally and accusing me of raping her. After stealing my rings, my phone, my new camera and ripping me off for every cent I had she forced me to return to Canada.

Some years later, facing the same dilemma in Canada because of my criminal record, I moved to Ecuador. That proved to be just as disastrous, especially when I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning because of the fireplace with no ventilation in my cabin. I was also ripped off by my landlords, my driver and the private hospital they took me to, who charged me fourteen hundred dollars US for four days of pathetic care, when they could have taken me to a public, free hospital. It didn't help that Service Canada, who had told me there would be no problem receiving my GIS, instead denied payment for more than six months until I contacted the Minister responsible. I had been left penniless, borrowing money from friends back in Canada to eat plus being ripped off for three hundred and fifty dollars US by the person handling my residency application. She also refused to return my passport which nearly stopped me from flying back to Canada.

There. All the bad news and my total confession. When I read it back to myself I can't believe the bad luck I've had and wonder why I didn't give up long ago.

Right now I know that with the legalization of marijuana in Canada a lot of people are hoping that the government will just expunge their criminal records for simple possession. With what I have been through my entire life I hope they agree to do that.

So long mi amigos.

 

 


A startling discovery today. A Facebook page dedicated to the memory of the Club Bluenote.

Posted on the club's Facebook page today. 

UPDATE: It came as quite the surprise that Pat objected so strongly to being included in the story. She threatened to report me to Facebook if I didn't remove her from the post. I contacted the pages's admin and asked them to delete the post, which only they can do and takes about two seconds. Their response was to criticize me for including her in the comment and said how difficult it was to delete the comment. Not true. I have followed this up with numerous messages requesting the deletion but they have done nothing. I told them she had threatened to report me to Facebook which I don't want, of course, having been on Facebook since it started. My last message to the admin is that I will report them to Facebook, who may well overreact and take down the page, which I will very much regret. I do not understand why they are being so difficult. 

Wow! A whole lot of memories come flooding back. I was the drummer in the house band at the club for nine months way back in 1967, 1968, I think. Zak Marshall was on keyboard. Nolan Yearwood was our lead guitarist and Allan McQuillan was our rhythm guitarist and resident nutcase. Among our various names over ten years of playing I don't recall what we were at the club. Either The Bow Street Runners, The Clyde Valley Showband, although I doubt that in a blues club, or maybe even HappyFace, when I painted my bass drum with the bright yellow logo.

Boy did I ever get some lessons in life at the club. Smoked my first joint thanks to Eric Mercury. That was a total disaster when our next set opened with You Keep Me Hanging On by Vanilla Fudge, at about half speed because I was so stoned and groovin on the sound of my kit. Never again!

We played every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, backing the floor show from about 1:00 til 4:00 in the morning, which was quite the challenge because we all had full time jobs during the day. By Sunday morning I don't remember driving home to Streetsville because I was beyond tired. I worked at the bank at the time so who knows who I gave too much money to on a Friday?

Our gig was no doubt the same as for any other house band there. Top name entertainers like The Platters, The Ink Spots and many more would do their shows at other venues in town, then head over to the club for the floor show. I met so many talented people as well as a lot of rising local talent. Among my friends were Shawn Jackson, who I loved to death. I still remember having a long talk with her at a party at Al's house. So many more who would go on to become famous, especially for Canadian artists at the time.

We became better known because of the club and got invited to go places with other musicians. I still remember going down Yonge St for a rehearsal for Grant Smith and The Power. Stony thrilled the heck out of me.

It was during this time that I first met George Olliver. Pretty sure they became the Mandala during this time period. A really cool guy. We were playing on the second floor of some club in Toronto and Domenic Troiano came down to ask if they could use my kit because theirs' went missing. I was happy to help. I think Whitey Glan was with him then. Sorry to learn he's gone.

Reading everyone's comments I had a few laughs and a few tears. Those all too short months playing at the club changed my life forever. Haven't had so much fun since.

Cheers from Mexico. Shameless self promo - check out my website at AjijicToday.com.mx.


A question for you my dear readers.

Having lived in Panama, Ecuador and now Mexico and visited Costa Rica many times, my question is about basic services - electricity, water and internet.

These counties in Central and South America (some consider Mexico part of North America) and quite possibly others, have been referred to as "third-world countries" when it comes to many things, such as hospitals are concerned. The shifting winds of governments over the years, together with the influx of Expats to these countries has brought on many improvements to healthcare, highways and sewage treatment, for example in Panama City where 40,000 metric tons of raw sewage were previously dumped into the Bay of Panama daily. This was the primary reason that all the big hotels on the bay, built to launder drug money, sat empty.

In the countries I have lived in or visited the most frequent occurrence was no water, no electricity or no internet, often for days on end. My question is if this is a result of inadequate infrastructure to support these services, corruption either in private companies or the governments, a lack of funding, incompetence or maybe just a lack of intent?

Each of these countries have at one point made International Living's Best Places To Retire list. First it was Costa Rica, then Panama, then Ecuador and now Mexico. Those who have been part of the Age Wave, the baby boomer generation, are shocked when they move to these countries only to learn that the basic services that they have been accustomed to in their home counties are often not available. Electricity (power) in particular is an exception because people have experienced a loss of power as a result of thunderstorms, ice storms and high winds taking down power poles, but, except in extreme situations, such as the recent tornados in Canada, power is usually restored fairly quickly.

That is not the case in the countries mentioned because weather is seldom a contributing factor. Instead, the power just goes off for no apparent reason at any time of day or night. In some situations I understand that it is because of the electrical grid not being designed to allow localized outages for work to be done. The entire system must be brought down.

Water supply can be just as problematic. Unlike in more developed countries where water supply is a public utility, in Panama, for example, water is supplied by private companies which are often underfunded and ill-equipped to deal with problems that arise. Again, in Panama, a pipe broke in the system supplying my water and I had no water for over a week. Not so great to not be able to flush the toilets for a week. Here in Mexico it's the well known don't drink the water. Bottled water is the norm, although I for one don't know what the problem is with the water supply. I can only assume that it is a lack of purification that is a normal part of water supply everywhere else.

Internet is a whole other issue, although improvements are being made gradually. A common complaint here in Lakeside will soon be solved when iLox brings 50 Mbps service here soon. Telmex is also introducing fiber-optic service. no doubt in response to iLox coming. That being said, Telmex service is completely unreliable. Many areas get less than 2 Mbps, if at all. And just yesterday the service from Telmex was out all day here in Riberas. The question is why?

The new President has pledged to bring WIFI to everyone in the country. A very lofty goal. He has also pledged to stop Guadalajara from drawing a foot of water out of Lake Chapala every year, although there is no indication how that might affect the local water supply.

Obviously I can only speak to these issues as an immigrant to the countries I have lived in, but I wonder how the locals feel. Do they just accept that this is the way it has always been or are they just as annoyed at the constant failure of these services? If so, why aren't there loud protests to clean up the mess that is, for example, CFE? Are Mexicans just used to no water or no power? Don't Mexican businesses suffer the same consequences when they can't operate their equipment? It costs businesses a lot when they must close because they can't function without power. Their employees must be sent home with no pay, which hurts everyone. Food spoils in restaurants when there is no refrigeration. They can't open at night with no lights. Bands can't play music without power.

Please don't get me wrong. I love Lakeside and I do everything possible to promote the area on my website. I simply want to believe that these issues can actually be solved to make life here even better.


Ode to my boy

The last time I had a dog was way back in 2000 when I lived with Tracy and the kids. Somehow we learned about a lab being put up for adoption because the little girl had become allergic to him. They brought him over to meet us and, although it was very sad to see the little girl crying, we said she could come and visit him anytime.

His name was Spade and he was sure something. He was a mix, part pit-bull and part lab. We were a little concerned about how much pit-bull he was, even way back then, because the kids were small. Before we took him we made sure the kids understood they had to take him for walks and clean up his poop in the yard. They agreed, probably just because they instantly loved him.

......................................

I digress, but maybe a little personal history here. When I was knee high to a grasshopper I had horrible eczema. I scratched and scratched so badly that the skin on my hands was pretty well gone. My mother sewed me little bags to put over my hands so I wouldn’t gross out the other kids at school. They had to tie my hands to the crib, and later to my bed, to stop me scratching. My poor parents spent a fortune on creams and medications but nothing worked.

Along with the delights of the eczema, and I don’t pretend to understand the relationship, I was also deathly allergic to anything that had fur, feathers or just about anything else that contains dander. The only animals I could ever be close to were fish. It was so bad that we could go visiting to someone’s house and my eyes would swell up and I’d start sneezing and coughing uncontrollably. We would ask if they had a dog or cat and they would say no, but then they would tell us they had a dog ten years ago. That was enough. I had to go and sit in the car.

Then by some accident, of course long before the internet, my Dad learned about chiropractors, who, back then were considered quacks by most people. We lived in Streetsville and the nearest chiropractor was in Oakville, quite a ways away. We met with him and he took a bunch of x-rays. We learned from those x-rays that there was a bone out of place in my neck that was pressing on a nerve and apparently causing

both my eczema and my allergies. He said he would do the now famous neck crack thing to move it back into place and take the pressure off. Given how chiropractors were thought of back then I had no idea why my Dad was willing to believe all this, especially when the chiropractor told him it would take weekly visits for more than a year. Even considering the cost of gas back then, that was asking a lot of my Dad. I think my parents were just so desperate to find a solution and had been spending so much on failed creams and meds that they took a chance.

To this day I still remember meeting a charming patient at his office, who was basically a paraplegic in a wheelchair, but he was such a nice guy. He told me he was twenty-one, but the amazing part was when he was born the doctors gave him little chance of survival. His poor parents were told he wouldn’t make it to two years old. Well, here he was now twenty-one and it was only thanks to the chiropractor. That sure gave me confidence that this might actually work. The treatments were kind of brutal because he would massage my head back and forth and then, without warning, give me the crack. Sometimes I thought my head was going to come off.

Sure enough he was right. My eczema cleared up and I felt my allergies were gone. At least we hadn’t been anywhere that I had any troubles. Even my aunt and uncles in Toronto for the annual family Christmas party who had four dogs. I didn’t take any chances with them by playing with them and by now my aunt and uncle were used to locking them in a room when we came.

At long last I figured I might just be able to have a pet. My Dad wasn’t keen on a dog yet but he let me get a cat, Bootsy. We became inseparable because I was so thrilled I could finally have a pet after all those years.

Well, life can certainly be cruel, even at that tender young age. I was coming home on the school bus and as we got close to my laneway someone said something about a dead animal in the road. Sure enough it was my Bootsy. She had been hit and killed by a car. It broke my heart, especially after waiting all those years to have a pet.

Not long after that my Uncle Earl asked my Dad to take their dog. They were moving to Vancouver or something and couldn’t keep him. My Dad agreed and we got Hobie, who was part boxer and part hound. He became an instant member of the family and proved to be a great guard dog even though he wouldn’t hurt a fly. During the first thunderstorm we had we couldn’t find him. Eventually we found him shivering and shaking under my parent’s bed. The funny part was that once the storm was over he couldn’t get out from under the bed. We had to all lift up their big, heavy, four-poster bed to let him out. I often wondered if the people who visited us and Hobie would come charging at them barking away ever saw him under the bed would still be afraid of him.

He was with us for years, but, again, life's cruelty struck. My Dad had taken him to the vet in Streetsville. It turned out he had cancer and I think it was going to cost something like eight hundred dollars, a fortune back then, to keep him alive. My Dad said the vet told him it would only give him a few more months and he would be in pain, so my Dad made the difficult decision to put him down. I still remember his funeral when we buried him on the side of the hill where he loved to play with us. We all cried and cried, surprisingly even my tough Dad, who I had never seen cry.

We did have another dog very briefly, Champ, after that but he was a nutcase who attacked and bit anyone who moved. He was gone soon. I remember my in-laws had a small dog. Jiggzy, I think was his name, but we never had a family dog. I honestly don’t know why. My kids would have probably loved to have one. I think it might have been that we were so busy traveling all over the country for their sports that owning a dog would have been a challenge.

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So, back to my story. Flash forward many years to 2000 and Spade. He was the most patient dog in the world. The kids would use him as a pillow while they watched TV. They would maul him to death playing with him and he never complained. I think one time Brayden got a little rough and he let out a little growl to let him know that was too much. He was a pooping machine though and, you guessed it, I got to clean up after him. I never minded though because he was such a great dog. Every time I came home he went nuts as soon as he heard me at the door and he would greet me like a long lost friend every time.

There’s a theme here. Yup. Life’s cruelty struck again and this one was much worse. Tracy was the love of my life and so were the kids. We were twenty-two years apart in age but that was never an issue. I think she was older than her years and I was younger. When we were doing something like hiking or rollerblading she always had trouble keeping up with me.

One fateful weekend she went to Kamloops to spend some time with her friends from school. The minute she walked through the door Sunday night I knew something was wrong. I think her friends had got to her about the age difference, asking her what she was going to do when I was maybe seventy. She admitted that it might be the mistake of her life but she asked me to leave. I fell apart. The night we told the kids was one of the very worst of my life.

I found a place to live and moved out, leaving my family behind, including Spade. A few months later Tracy called and asked me if I could take Spade. Apparently he had started shitting all over the house and she couldn't handle him anymore. I took him gladly but then at the time I was living with Ans, who had another dog, a three-legged dog, Skipper, who was not my favorite dog. Spade was okay for a while but then he started shitting in her house. After coming home I put him out after discovering a pile of shit in her living room. It was raining and she wanted to let him in. I told her that if she did that would be the last she would see of him. I guess she didn’t believe me because she let him in. The next day I took him back to Tracy. Ans was not happy and that pretty well ended that relationship, whatever it ever was.

A little while later Tracy called and asked me to come and get him again. When I started to explain that we had been down this road before she stopped me and said it was much worse. I rushed over and as soon as I knocked on the door he started barking. When I opened the door and he saw it was me he was at the top of the stairs. He came bounding down to me. I say “bounding” because I don’t know how else to describe it. He had completely lost the use of his hind legs so basically bounded down on only his front legs. Something was very wrong. Tracy then told me the news. She had taken him to the vet and been told he had to be put down, but she said she just couldn’t handle that, so she had called me to do it. Nice.

This was all going to be traumatic enough for me but my darling little Madison, who I believe was five at the time, insisted on coming with me to the vet. Here I was on the verge of falling apart and now I had to be strong for her. Looking back into the vet’s office at Spade for the last time is one of those traumatic life moments you will never ever forget.

So other than the fact that I’ve lived in BC, Panama, Ontario (twice), Ecuador and now Mexico, I haven’t even thought about having a dog again, until Rollie came along. Although I had been thinking about maybe getting a dog, mostly because of my failed relationships with women, I hadn’t done anything more. Then I saw Paola in a video walking Rollie along the malecon. Something clicked and I wanted to meet him. That was about a month ago. Let’s just say it was love at first sight on both parts. He was a riot and so affectionate. I truly wish I had been able to video me trying to put my shoes on in the morning to take him for a walk. He wanted to eat my socks, my shoes and my clothes as I tried to get dressed, laughing my ass off at this antics.

Being a rescue and a puppy he was pretty undisciplined but soon I had him sitting to put his leash on. He understood “no”, like not getting on my bed. The only problem was he wanted to eat everything in sight. He quickly devoured the chew toys they brought with him. He ate his leash. He desperately wanted to eat my slippers but got a “no” when he went near them. He started off peeing and pooping all over my apartment but soon understood that Daddy wasn’t happy with that so he started going on the terrace instead. A small improvement but still something.

Then I had to go out shopping and I wondered how he would handle our first separation. I was only gone for a couple of hours and when I came back he was thrilled to see me and hadn’t done anything bad. While I was out I had bought him a new and expensive bed and he took to that immediately. I went out at night and it was the same. No problem.

Then I was out at night working at the Spotlight Club. When I came home I guess you would call it severe separation anxiety. He had destroyed everything he could get his teeth on. His bed was in pieces. My slippers were toast. He had started eating the blanket he loved. It was a mess. He got put outside on the terrace while I fumed and cleaned up. I was not happy and he knew it.

The plan then became putting him out on the terrace when I was gone. I had always left the patio screen open all day to encourage him to go out there, but he had this strange timid reaction to venturing out there so I didn’t want to make it any worse. When I returned he was happy to see me and danger had been averted. It appeared to be a solution, although if I wasn’t watching him while I worked he was trying to eat something else. He destroyed my very expensive lifts in my shoes.

All that bad stuff being said he was still the love of my life. He brought such joy into my life at a time I really needed it. At first I had been hesitant to let him off the leash when we went for our walks, fearing that he would take off and not come back when I called him, but soon I was letting him off more and more. He never failed to come when I called him. About the only time I used the leash was when we walked to the store and I put it on him to wrap it around a tree while I was in the store. No big deal.

One thing that always amazed me, and I never understood, was how he told time. If I wasn’t up yet he would come at 8:15 every morning and start kissing me on the face, like “time to get up, Daddy”. It was exactly the same if I laid down for a quick nap in the late afternoon. An hour later, at most, he’s kissing me awake again. “Time for our walk, Dad”.

We sure had no shortage of things happen on our walks, some good, some not so good. When he did his business, which was usually at a vacant weed-filled lot just down the street, he got his treat and “good boys”. He rarely failed to do his pooping there. I always carried a poop bag with me but rarely needed to use it.

Then the little smart ass tried to get the better of me. When I had first got him he squatted like a girl to pee. Why he didn’t lift his leg like every other male confused me. I was told by others that he would eventually lift his leg. As though he understood the conversation that very day he lifted his leg to pee. Then a few days later, usually when he was not close to me and even after he had done his pooping in the lot, I would see him squatting to pee again. Then I realized that as soon as he peed he came running for his treat. Aha! Trying to fool me. No way, Buddy. Nice try.

As we came back to San Diego one day I heard someone calling his name. Sure enough it was Normis, who Rollie was nuts about. He took off to her in an instant. We ended up walking her home, mostly because she’s gorgeous and I really liked her. When we got to her place their pit-bull was safely behind the gate, going nuts. Her roomie came home with the other dog and the minute she opened the gate the pit-bull went for Rollie pinning him down with just an unbelievably strong grip on him. I tried to pull her off but that proved impossible. Finally her owner managed to get her off. I was panicking because I thought the next bite was going to be to Rollie’s very exposed throat and he would be gone.

Another day we were walking down a new road I had not been on before. We came around a corner and there was a big neighborhood fiesta going on. About ten dogs came running out to check out Rollie. The look on his face as he looked up at me was just priceless.

The last one with him was for me the funniest. Ramone Corona, the street we normally come back on was flooded by some burst pipe somewhere so we headed down to the road we had come back on before, the one with the fiesta. There was a car parked with a beautiful girl sitting on her boyfriend’s lap in the back seat with the door open. Before I could stop him he jumped up on her lap and started madly kissing her. She was squealing with laughter. I told her that Rollie’s problem was that he loved beautiful women. She liked that one. I finally got him to leave her and get out of the car.

Right before this walk, on what turned out to be our last day together, the people who gave him to me had been threatening to pick him up and take him from me. After I stopped laughing at this thing with the girl I started crying again realizing it might just be my last time with him. It was.

It’s another story, but things had basically been falling apart on me. I had just learned that I only had twenty-eight dollars to my name and a whole lot of month left and had no idea how I was going to survive. Worrying about Rollie on top of this was killing me. I did have a big bag of food left for him so I knew he was in no danger. I was. That night, having not eaten a thing all day and drinking way more than normal for me, I started losing it, believing that there was no point in going on. I just couldn’t handle all the crap coming my way all at once. It got so bad that my friend, Christine, sent over a doctor and her colleagues to talk to me. She offered to help me with food, medications and Rollie. I told her they were going to take him on Thursday but she said she would talk to them and explain that taking him from me was the worst thing they could do to me.

It didn’t matter. The next morning, without warning, they came and took him. It just broke my heart. When I told the doctor what happened she was mortified and said she would get him back. Then she called and told me they would “consider” giving him back to me, in THREE MONTHS! How stupid! Then they said I could “visit” him, as though that would make everything okay. I posted all this on Facebook. Big mistake!

First, people I honestly thought were friends started attacking me, without a clue what I was going through. They told me to “suck it up”, “stop feeling sorry for myself” and it was “all in my head”. Just brutal and the very last thing I needed. It’s no wonder that mental health is such an issue when so many people are so clueless about it.

I was deeply upset about losing Rollie, my best friend, but I had equally important things to deal with, like no food, no money, no medications and no future. Fighting over getting Rollie back was more than I could handle. I knew that the bitch who gave him to me was not going to “consider” anything. She was going to make sure he never came back to me again. I knew she would do her very best to get him adopted by someone else as quickly as she could so he could never be with me again. She showed her stripes when she took him from me in the first place knowing I was suicidal. What kind of person does that?

At this point all I can hope now is that he finds someone who loves him as much as I did and makes him happy. Daddy misses you, Buddy.

Good-bye.

Good Boy.