Do Not Call Me Sweet Heart

The more women assert themselves the more they are being disrespected and insulted by men. This has become more and more common nowadays when we stand on the threshold of a different world order, where more women assume more of the former male dominated jobs and positions.

The worst insult to a woman, a stranger, a customer, a colleague, is to call her “sweetheart”. Nothing could be more degrading or demeaning, showing a total lack of respect (unless it is to their own wives and in privacy). And where does this end ? Not surprisingly, it ends exactly in physical abuse. Like the one perpetrated by newly arrived migrants from the Middle East on European women. Assuming that those women are free game. Lucky, the likes of the Republican nominee for the US presidency who openly brags about women in the worst possible manners, can be ‘shot down’ – by not voting for him. The first step in referring to women with derogatory names is often followed by physical attacks. Men who respect women neither call them “sweetheart” nor physically touch them, nor rape them.

I cannot tell you how many times some delivery person or otherwise some store clerk or business owner has insulted me with calling me “sweetheart”. Or some hired contractor tried to grab me. Maybe they are so dumb that they actually believe that women consider this a compliment.

Today the same happened: some (Ali, Mohammed, Jousuf) person delivering furniture for me called me “sweetheart”, repeatedly. When I told him “do not call me sweetheart”, he responded: “what else you want me to call you” ? Although my name is clearly printed on all the furniture boxes from IKEA. Might seem funny to some, but obviously can result in a more dangerous situation, if I were to give that guy (after I told him NOT to call me “sweetheart”) a knuckle buster right into his guts. Resulting (who knows) that he pulls out an explosive belt and blows up our building. My recourse ? Report this incident to the Customer Service of the company he had been hired by. THIS MUST STOP ONCE AND FOR ALL.

Internet demoralizes

The Internet – by any standards of social interaction – is it still a positive human concept, or does it continue to have a demoralizing effect on social morale ? Notwithstanding its (limited) usefulness for the exchange of valuable information.

The process of international information sharing has not only started in the 1990s, when the World Wide Web became increasingly more known and popular world-wide with its search engines and ever-increasing glut of new technologies, search engines and an ever widening reach of users, which also brought with it an ever widenening “tsunami” of bad stuff, leading to an exploitation of this technology by the ‘human devil’.

In the 1960s we started already working on wide-reach international information networks, my specialty having been information retrieval systems (now referred to as search engines). [ ].

What really started making the Internet powerful on an international level has been its interconnectability of individual machines. Networking on a global scale had been the answer. Although today lots of stuff travels via robots, these in turn are developed by humans. A robot brain can be wired to think, but cannot think by itself, yet. Using robot programs is understandable, given the advancement of AI in computer system research and technology. In other words, human behavior is predictable. As is predictable the demonic nature of human behavior. Where there is something good and useful, there must be something bad and evil. The evil being exploited fully via a technology such as the Internet, because it can reach anybody anywhere. Forget for a moment the Internet. The question is “Why has human moral declined to such an extent that most normal citizens are even afraid of traveling anywhere in the world” ? No matter how one looks at it, anybody who intends to terrorize anybody else does not only use suicide belts to blow up oneself and others, but also uses the Internet.

Research studies have shown now that children, even at a very young age, exhibit distressed behavior, while sub-adults are exposing serious signs of stress and aggression. No wonder, if they spend most of their time on the Internet or operating their smart phones, while at the same time becoming more and more incapable of normal human communication and interaction. Remember, the human race has an uncanny ability for self-destruction.

VOCs and the real cost of carpeting

Ever heard of “off-gassing” ? How about VOC – volatile organic compound ? [ ] Paints, stains, caulking, appliances, cleaners, new carpets – the backing of it – can contain high amounts of VOCs. These VOCs not only are the cause of offensive vapors and odors, but the active chemicals released can be dangerous to human health and can cause harm to the environment. New carpets, particularly nylon carpets, can contain highly toxic substances including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. To those customers who purchase new household items and who are (as we call it) ‘nose-blind’, odors and fumes can be negligeable. That would most logically apply to owners of large department stores who are daily surrounded by their “off-gassing” products.

My own recent experiences recounting, let me first say that in forty years and many new carpet installations I had never experienced before any such “off-gassing” as with the last nylon carpet installed recently in my bedroom. I was told in the store that the carpet manufacturer – a large company in North America – has special awards for manufacturing carpets with LOW emission VOCs. (At that time I did not even know what VOCs are.).

After installing that carpet, over night the off-gassing drove me out of the room. Within one day I was beginning to show signs of serious upper respiratory problems,  all-night coughing and keeping me awake. I moved my bed into the living room. Within three days I ordered an expensive air purifier with strong carbon filter for processing VOCs, to install in my bedroom, and leave the window open day and night. It has now been two months since installing that carpet, myself still using my living room to sleep in. During that time there were various contacts with the store where I purchased that carpet. The carpet store did not come forward with any decent customer service (except ‘replacing the carpet with one similar’.) But instead referred the case to the manufacturer, who in turn maintains to have a super record for their products. No tests were done to confirm the level of VOCs. The carpet manufacturer’s warranty is for stains and soiled carpet only, but not for health-related problems caused by excessive off-gassing.

In summary: Is it worthwhile to purchase products that can cause both health and financial problems ? or, do research prior to any purchase to investigate which products are the least “off-gassing”, offensive and dangerous, and which companies are trustworthy ? I would advise,the latter.

{NOTE. Names of companies withheld.}

The good people of Fort McMurray, Alberta

do not deserve negative commentaries the likes of “you asked for it”, or “Fort McMurray hell on earth with oil sands developments destroying the environment”.

Myself, I worked for Suncor, Fort McMurray, on a computer contract in 1987. When I arrived in my old farm truck, I did not have a place to sleep. Prepared to spending the night parked in a street, sleeping in my truck (like so many times on the road). A lady saw me from their kitchen window, came down and offered me a sleeping place in the couple’s kitchen for that night, until I could find a room for rent. These were the years after the oil industry downturn.

Those who publish vicious comments on the plight of the Fort McMurray residents who had to leave their homes in a hurry, have apparently never experienced any losses. Like we had, loosing everything during WW2, and again during the 1980s in Alberta. Being forced to drive between Alberta and Ottawa to work on computer contracts.

Amazingly, fund raising – as usual – in full swing, which is good and can be bad, with some organizations again making profits lining their pockets with millions of donated moneys. I want to see that all donations actually go to those who need them, the people of Fort McMurray.

Tent Cities for questionable dwellers

What does Victoria BC’s tent city (also called InTent City since it has become fashionable and IN to permanently live out doors in city parks, and cool – hence supported by Victoria’s Cool Aid Society) has in common with Brussel’s Moolenbeek Moslem Quarter and France’s huge tent city bordering Calais ?

You ever heard of “You built it, and they will come” ? from the Movie FIELD OF DREAMS. Any construct, being for good purposes or for bad, that is conceptualized enough for building it, will in time turn into something permanent and attract like-minded sympathizers who will join and live there. When it is too late, it is too late.

Let’s start with Calais’ tent city at the edge of the English Channel, also called the ‘Jungle’. Where large numbers of migrants from North Africa and Africa have lived in their make-shift tents, without running water and toilets. [ ][ ]. Apparently what had started out many years ago had turned into over thousand tenters (number not known). Came November 13th 2015, the terrorist attacks in Paris, France, killing 130 citizens and others. I had arrived in Paris November 9th, 2015, for an extended vacation in Cannes, France. I was there, listening daily to the news and observing a shift in political and social beliefs that was tremendous. Regional elections voted in favour of the Front National, Right. Citizens in Calais had had enough of the migrants and their tent city. Voices were heard “we take up arms, go down there and flush them out.” Finally, the local governments and Police took action, and starting bulldozing the filthy eye sore of that cent city. Too little, too late ?

Molenbeek, a quarter in Brussels, Belgium. Over time became a hotbed of islamic radicalism. One might question, if it could have been prevented.

Point is, once a situation has grown out of control, it is difficult to reverse the process. In the fourteen years I have lived in Victoria, this city has changed a lot. The downtown has become to say the least, unsafe. Normal law-abiding citizens have no recourse against lawless drifters. Examples: Several years ago I lived across from Beacon Hill Park, one of the most beautiful city parks. Crossing, to get to Cook Street Village, I came by a number of drunken drifters in the park, who amused themselves by throwing knives at trees. One barely missing me. Do you think I phone this in to somebody ? No. Several weeks ago, one of the so called homeless (guy from Quebec) attached himself to me, while I was walking to the Public Library. Asking me if I need a shelter. (?) or Marijuana. He told me he works in a Cannabis shop, lives in a shelter (not in the Tent City), gets free medical and social care, and free food everywhere. Asking me, which government department to contact to get tax refunds (?). Kidding ? I don’t want to mention at this point what my responses were to all that crap.

Who are those Councillors who are running this City ? Interesting to know if they belong to that (cool) Cool Aid Society. I am a tax payer. I assure you, Mister and Mrs. Councillor, any action now is too late. Normal residents instead are deciding to move away from Victoria.

Cool Aid Society of Victoria, BC

To Kathy Stinson, Executive Director (I am impressed): Cool Aid Society of Victoria, BC.

Reading FOCUS magazine March/April 2016, and the article about those who charm with their intelligence and humour – “one can’t help but be heartbroken by their traumas”.
Which traumas ?  They are not old enough to have survived WW2 and years of bombing and having their homeland destroyed while being tiny children ?  or were they brutally beaten at their homes by their families at the same time while their country got fire bombed ? or was any of them married for 7 years to an alcoholic who drank himself to death ?  Making a living in Canada as a single mother. That is only the tip of the iceberg of TRAUMATIC experiences that I had to suffer. But do I lie around in the streets, or take drugs, NO, I worked all my life, I paid taxes here and there all my life, I never got one cent from the government, even when I was unemployed and had no money for food (here in Canada).
So, don’t talk to me about being traumatized.
I myself talked with some of them, or rather they followed me around talking to me – charming, intelligent, trying to sell me on grass (marijuana). You bet!
They know why they are here – it’s too cold in Quebec or out East – they told me how they get everything here FREE – food, health care, housing. Guess, whose money it comes from ? From hard-working citizens like me who work and pay their taxes.
I hope the Cool Aid Society is COOL enough to pay for the damages the Tent-In city people are leaving behind on that little park by the Court House. And remember: They are not homeless, they have families. They have no reason to take any drugs, except maybe out of boredom, or they believe it is COOL (hence the name: Cool Aid Society).

Travel Insurance – needed ? or useless ?

As travel as a pastime, entertainment and necessity has become one the biggest ticket items sold and bought on the Internet, particular by a large seniors’ population, who incidentally require more than anybody else PEACE OF MIND (Oh my God, maybe I suffer a stroke while enjoying myself in a foreign country !), Insurance companies are advertising and selling at all cost and pressurising travelers to buy travel insurance. Sell at all cost, make as an agent your (who knows) 40% commission, but under no circumstances provide the most needed coverage to some poor sod who happens to have travelled out of country. Is travel insurance then useless ? unwanted ? not needed ? not necessary ? I would say so. Today when everything is bought and sold online, how do insurances make money ? They make money on the people who never use it. [ quoted from ].
Point in case: Travel to Europe. Spend several months. Before leaving, buy some travel insurance package, including cancellation insurance, emergency medical insurance, delayed or lost baggage. The insurance company will provide an emergency phone number for the traveller. As you know, in Europe almost no one uses any landline phone, everybody is on a mobile phone (or as we call it: cell phone). Meaning expensive air time and roaming charges. When calling from Europe to North America, where these insurance agents physically reside, nothing but problems with their CALL COLLECT or TOLL FREE phone number (that would only work in North America). Call Collect works in misterious ways. A traveler has a medical emergency and needs to phone the insurance within 72 hours of that incident. If that person ends up in a hospital, a payment out front must be made (give me your credit card!). If that poor traveler is unconscious, he or she will most probably lie in some corner in the hospital, never waking up. Meanwhile the period of 72 hours to call the Travel Insurance overseas, has passed, and the policy is invalid. My recent case: I just spend three months in the South of France, using my cell phone with a French SIM card, that when used costs me a fortune, even if I would ever reach some call collect number. It would be an anwering machine, and waiting times at least ten minutes, costing from Europe like €20 at least. No matter, what kind of contact number the insurance gives you, there are still air time and roaming charges. Call Collect always costs the caller. [ ] While international “Toll Free” numbers may work for the insurance company who sells them (usually residing North America), but not for the international traveler who tries to use them. All those (emergency call) numbers offered by North American insurance companies are foremost controlled by the country where a traveler currently resides.
Before leaving I had bought at Pacific Blue Cross $878 travel insurance for three months to cover emergency medical, and cancellation. When I needed them, using their Medi Assist call collect number, no contact, no way to reach them, my service provider hung up. Meanwhile I could have used a small amount (like not more than €50 to pay for a Doctor or Pharmacy). For the Pacific Blue Cross I tested their phone numbers after my return, typical wait times were way over ten minutes. The travel insurance industry has figured out that according to statistics – comparing insurances sold and emergencies covered – it has become extremely profitable to sell travel medical emergency insurance.
As mentioned before, insurances make money on the people who never use it.

Banking Problems while Traveling

Many times I travel from North America to Europe, there is a problem with any of my Bank cards, either my regular Debit Card or a major Credit Card. The problem being not, that they are stolen or compromised by some hackers, the problem is always with the Banks themselves and their method of contacting them when such emergencies arise. Over the past years this situation has worsened because of the changing and more complex security devices the Banks invent. There are two types of banking privileges that can be cancelled by a Bank while out of country: (a) Using the bank card to get cash out of a banking (ATM) machine, or for payments; (b) access to online banking. Both are important to have as a traveler while having to rely on a mobile phone. But the worst situation arises if there is no way to contact the Bank. Mostly for technical reasons, telephone services, expensive mobile phones (foreign SIM cards and providers), and the banking telephone system itself: Either offering an international toll-free number, or even worse offering clients a call collect number. On another occasion, years ago, when my bank card got cancelled, I called a “collect” number, got someone from my bank on the phone who told me: “we do not accept charges”.
I have two cards, my regular bank card (that works via ATM, international Interac and PLUS* displayed almost anywhere), but which I not use anymore because it got cancelled in Europe (security reason, because I had removed several times a few hundred €). And my Credit Card, most precious, because it can be used anywhere for paying anything even food and super markets, and cash advances via ATM. Two cards from two different banks, I have been client of for at least thirty years.
However, if using a credit card for all payments, then when the payment for the card is due, it needs to be paid using online banking. One cannot pay off a credit card with the same credit card. This time in Europe for three months both my bank cards got cancelled/or suspended: (1) Credit Card because I accessed my online banking with my iPad tablet, a device the bank did not recognize. At least I could connect easily with the Bank and resolve that issue. (2) My online banking with my regular bank, because of a new security system, my error in logon, and telephone connection problems (I have an old unblocked cell phone, using a foreign SIM card), on my cell phone cannot enter other than regular phone numbers, but not bank card numbers, therefore, when calling I got cut off by my foreign phone provider.
This time I have someone here in Europe try out with a smart phone the process to connect to my bank with their ‘international toll free number’, going thru the process. If it works, then it is that old regular cell phone of mine, that is not usable. From all this, it appears that the safest way to have any money on you (at least for food) is, to take sufficient cash with you. Like in the old days. Either way, I still always inform my Banks that I will be out of country, and where, and how long.
It should always be remembered, that any banking or debit or credit cards are property of a Bank, not property of a client. Therefore, can be cancelled/suspended anytime by the Banks’ security system. The client does not need to know the reason. The client only needs to store their money with those Banks.

Travel on a Budget

Home away from home. Though I hate to generalize, but I can safely say – after traveling alone most of my life – that no matter if you find a way to “travel on a budget”, this only works if you NOT travel alone. Almost all accommodations advertise “sleeps 3, 4, 5, or even 12” (whatever that means). The odd times, I can find “sleeps 2”. Very seldom seen “sleeps one person only”. Rule of thumb: As a single traveler you usually pay more. This applies to renting vacation accommodations. [Cruises, you always pay double.] However, even the odd time I found vacation rental for €500 a month. Lots of ‘foot work’ to dig that up. Mostly it is much more.
I am considering for example the Bahamas, because it is half way between the Pacific Coast where I live and Europe, where my family lives. Plus, it is pleasant climate and few restrictions for Canadians. In the following link [ ], someone implies that ”
One of the biggest costs away from home is food and drink – ” (quoted from that web site). From experience I found that accommodation is the most expensive item when traveling”. Food is not. Having a decent “roof over your head” is priceless and costly. Unless you travel in a group (most people do not) and share with half a dozen others. What kind of fun is that ?!
Eating out in restaurants on the other hand is very expensive. Because of the service cost of a restaurant that is passed on to a customer. Super markets, grocery stores, any kinds of markets, food is cheap. No matter which country one travels to. Mostly it is much less expensive than the city where my home is. The other reason I do not eat restaurant food is, that I am a very good cook and do not eat what others present me with. Drink likewise. Anywhere in the world, one bottle of good wine cannot be more expensive than 20 or 30 dollars, in fact in Europe more like under ten €. Restaurant ?, try get a glass for that. Conclusion. To save while traveling: try get accomodation with at least a small kitchen. Try, not to eat street food in certain countries. Make sure the food you buy is clean. Wash your own laundry. Do your own cleaning. Find the best deals where to buy groceries and a decent cup of coffie. [Example: Here in Cannes, Côte d’Azur, one bistro asks €5 for one cappuccino, next door it is €2.50]. To look at pricing, first thing I do is check out how much a cup of coffie and specialty coffie costs.