Working To Move The Empire Forward

As some of you have noticed, and in some cases, commented on, things have not all been sweetness and light over the last few months for me.

Thankfully Kim has been my rock, especially the times she had to put up with the grumpy old fart persona.

Hopefully though there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, as long as some nasty bugger doesn’t lengthen the tunnel again.

This past Wednesday I was finally able to get out of the house and went for coffee with my friend Jacqueline. In amongst all her talents, she is a motivator, and I can attest that having a motivator for a friend is excellent. I try to be a motivator, with some success, however it seems that I’m totally ineffective when dealing with myself.

I mentioned Jacqueline in my podcast today which can be heard here. I also created a YouTube video of my podcast. It is available here on my YouTube channel. She has agreed to do a podcast with me in the near future, perhaps more as she has much to share.

I have also been adding to my Flickr channel, now having more that 3000 photos (some only available for family/friends). Today I added photos I took in 2011 during a tour in Annecy, France. Here is a small slideshow sample.

Slowly, but surely, I will be catching up and posting more of the thousands of photos I have, many yet to be digitized. I often say, what good are all these photos if people can’t see them.

I remind people that the best way to keep in touch with Wee Internet Empire activity is to subscribe to my newsletter, Old Guy, New Tricks. When changes, updates, or other interesting things, become available they will all be noted in the next issue of the newsletter.

I am on a number of different platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TicTok, Twitter, Matador, LinkedIn and others. All the necessary links are available on my website. I invite you to visit, and feel free to connect if you so desire.

Now I have come to the conclusion of today’s self promotion. However if I don’t work to spread the word how will you know what great stuff you will be missing. So thanks for your attention, your comments are always welcome, and hope to see you soon.

I try to wrap up most things by saying take care of yourself, and, if you can, help take care of those around you.

So A New Year Begins (Time Marches On)

Well, here we are, safely (??) into 2023.

It’s been a month since I’ve done a blog post, and I really have no valid excuse.

For most of the time both my body and my mind felt like crap and I basically just said “screw it” and did nothing about everything, right past the end of the year.

It seems that my post in November, Sick People, Stay The Fu*k Home, was not adhered to, and Kim’s coworkers brought sickness to her workplace once more and both of us ended up sick. It was very unpleasant for both of us. I basically stayed in bed and didn’t eat for four or five days. For Kim, at one point she was very weak and was unable to put on my compression stockings for several days (the reason for the stockings may be another blog post sometime). As a result our daughter came to help a couple of times, then AHS Home Care was arranged until Kim was able to do it again.

The end result was that Kim and I decided that other than her going to work (she always wears a mask at both jobs), we would both remove ourselves from any social activities until further notice. Only Kim would do any grocery shopping, once again always wearing a mask. Since then we have only gone for our regular weekend dim sum, where we sit at a table separated from the other patrons. The only other thing has been some scheduled medical appointments for each of us.

This has meant not going to weekly veteran’s group gatherings, along with missing Christmas occasions with our Kiwanis club, veteran’s groups, Kim’s work and family. As well, many movies have been streamed, and it may be that Otis is getting tired of having us around. I truly appreciate how Kim has been putting up with this old fart and my seemingly wide (at times) mood swings. I’m certainly in good, and patient, hands.

For now, we are keeping tabs on how events may be unfolding and are considering that perhaps we will be able to go to a veteran’s group monthly breakfast in two weeks.

I have decided that I really need to get to work on my “Wee Internet Empire“, so it has occupied much of my time over the last few days. I have been working on my computer photo compilation, improving both my storage and my backups. Photos on my computer comprise only a portion of those which I have on hand. There are thousands of prints or slides, covering the almost forty years of photo taking prior to my first digital camera, that must be digitized. So much to do! Already I have three more groups of photos up on my Flickr site.

Speaking of Flickr, I would like to ask your opinion. On my site I have the albums arranged in chronological order, having the one with the most recent photos first, then going to the oldest album. I have been thinking about doing the reverse. I would appreciate any thoughts you might have about this. When I put in an album, whether from years ago or recent, I always put a direct link to that album in the next issue of my newsletter, “Old Guy, New Tricks” (which you are encouraged to subscribe to).

I have mentioned this before, however it is worth repeating. Any feedback that is provided on this blog, or any of the other platforms I publish on, is greatly appreciated. Even negative feedback (hopefully not received) is a validation of what I’m trying to do, and how I can improve my subscribers experience.

So please do let me know what you think. Also, if you have thoughts of what I could include in a blog, podcast, livestream or what ever, please pass them along. Who knows how it will work out.

Well, that’s enough blathering for now. Catch you next time. Take care of yourself, and take care of others.

Domestic Abuse And Violence Is A Major Problem! – Were You Aware Of That?

After reading a CBC news article two days ago, and then seeing similar stories on the news, I was a bit upset.

Then I thought about it, then stewed about it, and now, I’m very upset about it.

According to the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, women’s shelters received more than 65,000 calls seeking support. That is a horrible number of women, often with children, seeking support from an abusive relationship in our province.

Even worse, in my view, is the fact that more than 28,000 women, seniors and children, were turned away from shelters. More than half of the refusals due to the shelters being full, with others being refused for other reasons, including staff shortages or lack of resources.

To be open and upfront, for over fifteen years I have been an active supporter of Women In Need Growing Stronger (WINGS), a 2nd stage shelter in Edmonton, for women escaping family violence and abusive relationships, with their children. I have also supported Jessie’s House, in Morinville.

These are just two of many women’s shelters across the province, most of which are unable to fully assist all of those who come to them for help.

The fact that so many are contacting shelters to escape abusive or violent relationships, to me is an indication that society in general has to do a better job.

From 2012 to 2018, I was employed as a casual cell block guard at a local RCMP detachment. During this time, as part of my work I was exposed to quite a number of cases of domestic abuse or violence.

Since that time, occurrences of this nature have increased, particularly during the COVID pandemic.

As I write this, it came to my mind that, during a period of time after the Fort McMurray fire the detachment I was at had an increase in “domestic” cases, often involving people fleeing the fire devastation which was several hundred kilometres away.

External occurrences like COVID or the Fort McMurray fire will often make a bad domestic situation much worse.

So, what is the answer? How do we solve this situation? How do we make it better?

Unfortunately, we have no simple answer, or in truth, at this time, even a complicated answer.

I do believe there are things that we can do, however.

Firstly, from a lifestyle aspect, we can pay more attention to those around us, friends, coworkers or neighbours. Quite possibly there will be signs of a person being on one side or the other of a domestic abuse situation. If so, there is often some action that we can consider taking.

On the community side, please provide support to a women’s shelter in your area. Make a financial donation. Donate clothing, household items, or contact them and find out whatever they may need. Also, they often are looking for volunteers to assist them in their activities.

Domestic abuse or violence is not an occurrence which is easily reduced or eliminated.

To improve the situation all must be involved. Individuals, community and government.

One thing to me is that we all must speak out more. Too many people are unaware or unconsciously tune it out.

Shout it out. Make them aware.

Give it some thought. What can you do?

Stop And Hear The Music

To preface… I did not write this. Eleven years ago, a friend of mine sent me this most interesting story.  Upon checking further, I was able to find the story behind the story.


This is a true happening, orchestrated by a writer for the Washington Post.  Read it through and then follow the link at the end to find out the rest of the story.

PERCEPTION

Something to think about . . .

THE SITUATION

In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

image

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk. 

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again. 

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year-old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was…

Joshua Bell

One of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $200 each to sit and listen to him play the same music. This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities

This experiment raised several questions: 

* In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? 

* If so, do we stop to appreciate it? 

* Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: 

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Here is the link to the Washington Post article, including a video.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html 


I hope you took the time to read the article, as it’s quite interesting.

So… the question once again is, how many things are we missing as we rush through life?

Definitely a question worth thinking about at any time, but particularly at this time of year.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your support and feedback.

Be well. Take care of yourself and take care of others.

Sick People, Stay The Fu*k Home

Back in June, I wrote a blog post about not going to work sick. In Avoid Going To Work Sick I spoke of how both Kim and I were sick as a result of her coworkers coming to work sick.

For a number of years, Kim has worked two jobs (because that’s what she likes to do) and about ten days ago a coworker at her primary job came to work sick, coughing, hacking, sniffing and so on. It was suggested that they go home so as not to spread it, however they refused to do so. As a result, Kim and a couple others caught it, resulting in Kim missing several days of work, from both jobs.

Early this week she was feeling pretty good, having got over most of the aftereffects of the illness. Two days ago, while at her second job, one of her coworkers came in coughing, hacking, you know the drill. Suggested they go home, refused to do so.

Now, once again, Kim is sick, already missing work at her secondary job, and most likely to miss work at her primary job if it doesn’t clear up in the next day or so.

We have also learned that at least two more people from her secondary job are now off work sick as well.

So… who is affected by all this.

About half a dozen employees are now missing work (translated – income). Two employers are having to juggle workers or have their businesses run short of staff, resulting in lack of production or possible loss of business, both of which impact their bottom line.

Then we have the ripple effect, with different issues created in the workers families, particularly should they get sick as well.

When I was an employer for a good number of years, I would have my employees stay home for a day or two when sick. As an employer, there are different ways to make sure the employee did not suffer hardships for missed time. I felt that to be better than having a larger portion of my company absent simultaneously. And I guess I was a good employer, as my employees always seemed to agree.

Today however, even with good employers, that is quite often not the case.

The whole issue really pisses me off. Hence this blog post, and my request.

Sick people, stay the fu*k home.

Is Your Space Clear?

Yesterday evening we had an incident in our area when emergency services responded to the residence for one of our neighbours. Although it required a person to be taken to hospital, I understand that they will be okay.

The reason for this wee blog post is something I observed during the incident, and what I had not considered before. I imagine that many of you may not have either.

As is the norm, fire arrived first, followed shortly by an EMS supervisor vehicle. Once they entered the residence, to assist the individual, I assume they determined that the utilization of a stretcher would be necessary after the ambulance arrived.

Fire Clearing Snow

Now comes the part which I hadn’t really thought about previously. We had recently gotten our first snowfall and I saw one of the fire crew go over and shovel the sidewalk so it would be clear for the stretcher. Then he went and got some salt and/or sand and put it down so the paramedics and others would not slip while transporting the casualty. When the ambulance arrived, the sidewalk was done, and they were immediately able to stage the stretcher at the residence door. A while later the casualty was brought out, placed on the stretcher and then into the ambulance, with all parties having good footing.

Now, all of this highlighted to me, and I hope to you as well, how important it can be to keep your sidewalks and driveways clear of snow in the winter, as much as possible.

As well, it displayed to me that emergency workers have many more boxes to tick while performing their duties than we may think. For myself, I have great respect for all emergency workers, and I do my best to thank them for all that they do.

We all more or less take for granted our work or living spaces, both inside and outside, and tend not to think of emergency workers trying to maneuver themselves and their gear in those spaces.

I suggest that this be a reminder to check your spaces just in case you, or others, need emergency assistance, to make your space more accessible.

I know I will.

And thanks to all those who make it their profession to help us when we need it.

Thoughts and Considerations

Nine years ago this week, Kim and I left Malaysia after a six-week visit. It had been my first time to Malaysia, and it was a most wonderful experience.

Not only did I get to see, for the first time, the country and city where my wife had been born and grew up, I got to meet, in person for the first time, the two daughters from her side of our blended family and our grandchildren. That was so special to me.

Since then, I have been back to Malaysia four more times, in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020. Kim and I went for four weeks in 2015, in 2017 we flew over together with Kim staying four weeks and me for eleven. In 2019 I was back in Malaysia for eight weeks by myself. Kim and I traveled for six weeks in 2020 and were joined by daughter Anita and her husband Aaron for the first three weeks, allowing her to meet her sisters in person for the first time.

And then came Covid-19. And it came fast. We actually had to cut our visit short by ten days so that we could get home. Then we had to isolate for two weeks and then Kim got laid off. But that’s a story for another time.

It is now closing in on three years since we’ve been to Malaysia. And we really have no idea of when we’ll be there again. No idea of when we’ll see our daughters and grandchildren in person once more.

Now I started this blog post more than two weeks ago and walked away, leaving it uncompleted. Following that it just sat when my brain kinda went blah. Until today.

To be honest, I have been feeling great frustration within myself. I have things to do, why am I not doing them! I created this “Wee Internet Empire” thing so that I could keep myself involved in something. So what if few people seem to pay much attention.

In reality it’s more than that.

Yes, I want to be in Malaysia, see our daughters and grandkids, but even more I want Kim to get to be with them. She worries so much about them as they have struggled through Covid (most of them actually caught it at one time or another) and the economic turmoil the pandemic caused throughout Malaysia.

And still more than that.

Pre-Covid I had been placed on the list to have a complete hip replacement. As the medical system was stretched so thin during the pandemic it took quite a while to work my way through all the required tests and procedures to be ready for my surgery to be scheduled. At the end of 2021 it was. However, just prior I had developed a bit of an issue on my lower leg and the surgery was cancelled until it could be dealt with. Long story short, ten months later we are still dealing with it. Once dealt with, I’ll have to begin redoing some of the tests and procedures to prepare for surgery as they must be done within a certain time period pre-surgery.

Don’t get me wrong, all is not doom and gloom.

We have been out on the motorcycle over the summer (limited a bit by my leg condition) and have enjoyed traveling around in the Mercedes convertible. We often enjoy our regular dim sum and get together with fellow veterans on occasion. We see our daughter and husband here in Edmonton, my sister from Calgary, while our son from England and his wife came for a lovely visit.

I guess it kind of boils down to the lingering cloud of uncertainty. It seems to fluctuate between shades lighter and darker grey, never becoming black however white remains elusive.

We are trying to make some decisions. Do we hold off on traveling until all is complete, leg issues and surgery. Or do we call our travel lady and book a trip. Certainly something we are trying to work out.

Our future path remains to be seen. I am hoping though, that by sharing these thoughts with you, my readers, it will help me get back on track doing some of the other things which I should be working on.

Thanks so much for reading. Your feedback is always welcome, as is your support.

If you have not already done so, you can keep up with my “Wee Internet Empire” by subscribing to my newsletter, “Old Guy, New Tricks“.

Until next time, be well and take care of yourself.

A “New To Me” Car

So, just over a month ago I got a “new to me” car.

I wasn’t looking for another vehicle and really, didn’t need another vehicle. We already had a van that Kim drives as well as a car and a motorcycle that I drive. So, why get another vehicle? How did this happen?

Well, every morning as part of my online routine I have a look at Facebook Marketplace, mostly out of curiosity, just to see what’s there. I saw this vehicle, had a look, and moved on, as happens many times. Of course, because I had looked at it, Facebook made sure it appeared on other occasions as well. One day I noticed that the price had decreased quite a bit, so, I figured, why not check it out.

I contacted the seller and arranged to have a look at it. It was an older vehicle and appeared to be in excellent shape with very few flaws. The owner stated his bottom line for the vehicle. Okay. I made no commitment, and that evening mentioned it to Kim, showing her the posted ad. She said she would like to see it in person.

So, an appointment was made, and we went over to have a look, taking it for a test drive as well. When we returned, I was looking over the vehicle, checking things out and Kim was talking to the owner. As I joined them, he said that he would take an amount that was a fair bit lower than his “bottom line”. Kim seems to have this ability with people.

The end result was that we drove home the proud possessors of a new to us vehicle.

So, what is this vehicle you ask.

It is a 1999 Merecedes SLK 230 Hardtop Convertible, a two-seater sports car. Twenty-three years old and only 73,500 kilometres. Oh, and I should mention, because it was originally from Japan, it is right-hand drive and talks to us in Japanese on startup.

It was so nice to get back into a convertible, having had three at various times previously, and it being a true sports car was a bonus. It runs as good as it looks and we are enjoying it as much as possible before the ground turns white, at which time both the Mercedes and the motorcycle will buddy up in the garage until Spring.

Well, now it seems that I have become another old guy who drives around in a Mercedes.

However, we are realizing more and more that we need to do more of the things that we enjoy while we are able to. Of course, it will be different experiences for different people. Our health and financial aspects will differ, but the principle remains the same.

We certainly have our ups and downs, however as long as life continues, we’ll do our best to live it from a positive perspective.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy this blog post and the rest of what I share on my Wee Internet Empire. By all means subscribe to my newsletter and keep up with what’s happening.

Itchy Boots Visits Haida Gwaii

During my military career, I had a tour in Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, from 1977 to 1981. On June 3, 2010, the group of nearly 400 islands was renamed Haida Gwaii by the Haida Gwaii Reconciliation Act as part of the Kunst’aa guu – Kunst’aaa Reconciliation Protocol between British Columbia and the Haida people.

I very much enjoyed my time in “the Charlottes”, as we knew it then, and as well, son Colin was born there.

Unfortunately, I have not had an opportunity to return since, although it is on my hope to do list.

As I develop my “Wee Internet Empire” I try to follow quite a few different people as they do different things on social media.

One of those people is a lady named Noraly, from the Netherlands, who goes by the online handle of Itchy Boots. She is a real adventurer and travels around the globe, solo on her motorcycle, documenting her journey on her website, blog and YouTube channel.

Recently her travels had her traveling through Canada, and this took her to Haida Gwaii, making me even more interested in her adventures.

I really liked the four videos which make up this section of her journey. They brought back many memories and, as well, provided information that I was not aware of. In my opinion they can provide people with a really good idea of what Haida Gwaii is like.

Here, in order, are the links to the four videos.

I thought these videos were very interesting, in addition to being well done. I hope you found them to be as well.

Itchy Boots is just one of many folks I follow online. Here I will provide for you her website, and YouTube channel should you like to know more about her.

As well, I invite you to have a look at my “Wee Internet Empire” and check out the different platforms like my blog, podcast, videos and photos. You can also subscribe to my newsletter to be kept up to date on what is being posted and where.

Thanks much for reading. If you like what I do, please share it.

I always appreciate any feedback. Should you have comments, like something, don’t like something, please do let me know.

Rest In Peace – Dallas Boyko

This past weekend another senseless death was in the local news. Unfortunately a great many deaths are senseless, however this one affected me a bit more than usual, even though I have no personal contact or knowledge of the person who died.

Dallas Boyko was a 51 year old paramedic, driving in an on-duty ambulance with her partner at 4am on a Saturday morning, when a suspected impaired driver crossed the centre line and struck the ambulance head on. She and the driver of the other vehicle died, her partner was injured. Here is the CTV Edmonton news story. (Photo from Facebook – Emergency Services Memorial Page)

This story really struck me for a couple of reasons. A very good, long time friend of mine, on duty as a paramedic, was seriously injured when a vehicle struck the car in which she was tending to a casualty. As well Darren, a good friend and fellow veteran, also a paramedic, came close to not one, but two, head-on collisions while on duty just under a year ago within a one week span.

In Darren’s case, I was prompted to do a podcast after his first incident (link here), and then another after the second (link here).

As veterans most of us have a close affinity, not only to serving military, but also to first responders, such as police, fire and ambulance. Indeed, quite a number, when leaving the military, themselves become first responders.

A person’s death can be quite upsetting under any circumstances. If it occurs while the person is performing their duty it has a greater impact on me, and even more so should it be due to someone else’s careless or negligent actions.

Dallas Boyko, while serving as a paramedic, had most certainly positively affected countless number of lives. She died needlessly while performing her duty. That is a tragedy. May she rest in peace.