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Canada

Sunday Sundries – PRIDE Ottawa Weekend

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Photo: The Parliament of Canada, with projected laser and photo story.

I am back at home tonight, after a whirlwind trip to our Nations Capitol, Ottawa. It was Pride Ottawa this weekend. Saturday was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and humidity. Today (Sunday) was not so nice.

We stood in the rain with thousands of people to watch the Annual Pride Parade in the Nations Capitol. Rafa lives in the heart of the Village, so we had ringside seats for the parade this afternoon. We got lots of beads, water bottles, assorted condoms in pretty packaging, and other assorted items that were handed out by the marchers in the parade.

I have over fifty images from the weekend, that I will upload this week.

Ottawa is a really great city. It was the first time that I was on the ground exploring the area Rafa lives in. We had dinner at King Eddie’s Saturday night, and then we walked around the Parliament Hill neighborhood, ending up on The Lawn of Parliament Hill, for the Grand Fireworks display and the nightly, Northern Lights, Laser Light Show, that is a bilingual presentation, displayed ON the Parliament Building itself. This show runs nightly through September.

It is a genius presentation with lasers, lights and imagery covering the history of Canada.

There were thousands of people on the lawn. We had arrived a little over an hour prior to the show, so we had front row seats on the lawn, directly in front of Center Block.

Many years ago, when I got my citizenship, there was no party, no singing, no national anthem to be sung. Just my certificate and a welcome greeting by our NOW mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre.

We visited Parliament Hill, on our Second Christmas together, Hubby and I, but it was Christmas so we did not see anyone from the government.

Last night, Saturday, We sat on the lawn, watching this fantastic presentation, and at the end, they played the Canadian National Anthem. As the song began we were sitting, midway through, I was seeing people, get up and stand.

I got up and stood … I got very emotional, and stood there and sobbed.

Every time I hear the anthem played, especially at an Olympic Games, my heart swells with Pride for my country. Last night, I had a Spiritual Experience, during the anthem.

It sealed the deal for me, as a Citizen of our great country.

I got my Anthem, On the Hill, With my Best friend, who became a citizen, himself, last year.

To be on Parliament Hill, to celebrate our history with thousands of residents and thousands more tourists, I could not have been more proud to be a Canadian today.

And today, Sunday, we spent the day together at Pride.

I have lots of observations about people, places and things, to write about concerning Pride and the politics we saw in action. There was definitely a political agenda going on.

The whole fluidity issue, the racial divide and the struggle within the whole LGBTQ community, was apparent. There were many more girls and women at the parade, but not so many white men. Lots of families, tourists, and folks with serious axes to grind with the political establishment, other factions of the gay community, and the lengths our young people, on all sides, want to be heard and legitimized.

More on that later this week, once I’ve had time to think it all through.

 


Thursday – If I sit down …

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Courtesy:Followeed

It is December and it has been one hell of a week so far. There is much to say, and there has been plenty of opportunity to speak words, or better yet, write them down. Tonight is that night.

Tuesday was December 1st, World AIDS Day. The yearly date when we honor all those who have died, and for those of us who survived that period of tragic times, we remember.

A particular story came to mind on Tuesday, that I thought about writing down “Again” but decided against it. Suffice to say that those of us who were diagnosed with AIDS or today, HIV, we go from Hero to Zero in no time flat.

Back in the day, AIDS was a death sentence. Today they call it a “manageable condition!” Every new diagnosis under ANY circumstances is very sad.

You would think, in today’s gay community, and for that matter, anywhere in the world, that an ounce of prevention would go a long way, yet there are those who continually decide to play Russian Roulette with their lives. Or are caught up in behavior that is detrimental.

One cannot claim ignorance about disease today.

There are still millions of reasons why we can’t stop marking this day, until a cure is found, that would be available to every single human being, to eradicate this scourge.

**** **** ****

Once again, now in the U.S., two deranged killers walked into a service center, and killed 14 people in cold blood, and injured many others.

This is just terrible. And there are not enough words to say that is going to make a hill of beans difference, to those who could do something, but they don’t. There aren’t enough prayers to be said, or vigils to attend that are going to change anything.

Sometimes it is well and good to just not say anything, because someone already has said what we are all thinking, and we are powerless to do a god damned thing.

**** **** ****

Sometime last weekend, I did something to my back. I am not sure what it was, or when it happened, but I have never felt the degree of pain I am feeling today, in all my life. My back is killing me, and I have resorted to taking pain killers just to be ambulatory.

Addicts and painkillers are not a good mix.

At least here, I can phone up my pharmacy and get over the counter medication. In many Canadian pharmacies, they keep assorted drugs behind the counter, so if you know this, that opens up treatment. I don’t need a script nor do I need to see my doctor, but I will see him on the tenth, if I survive that long …

This afternoon baby mama came over to use my computer and as we sat together, she remarked that etched on my face was the look of pain. I can sit down, but there is no guarantee that I will be able to get back up. During our visit, I had several Holy Shit, moments, where I thought I was going to pass out.

I have only so many pills left, before I need a doctors note, and it is the weekend, so no doctor till next week now. And I sure as shit ain’t going to no E.R. because I will sit there for hours and hours, um NO!

It has been rainy / cold the past few days. Rain, that falls in conjunction with below zero temps, means ice on sidewalks.

I half thought to stay home tonight, but decided to go to St. Matthias and hit a meeting. I left earlier than usual, because walking, reaching, bending and stooping is quite the task, which requires some serious deep breathing and equilibrium.

I got to the church and visited with friends before the meeting, and as a friend sat next to me, I had a Holy Shit moment, and I told her that if I sit down, for any amount of time, that I may not be able to get back up.

I waited until the seventh tradition was started and tried to get up, gritting my teeth, because I had to pee … That was a tedious moment for sure. I did get up, but it wasn’t pleasant.

It was a good meeting, nonetheless.

I was talking to my sponsor and a few friends on Tuesday night, and I was explaining that I was riding that “roller coaster of insanity” and what was going on in my head and they responded with, “yup, you are one of us …”

We pushed my cake back until the 20th, because next Sunday is early, and my anniversary falls on Wednesday the 9th. And superstition dictates that you never take a medallion early.

The 13th, is my sponsors Home Group Anniversary on the West End at Loyola. So He will be there, while I do service at my Sunday Home Group. Which leaves the 20th as the first Sunday we can both be in the same place at the same time.

What is good about living in Canada, is this … When shit goes down anywhere else, the media goes crazy. And for the most part, for what it is worth, Most shit going down elsewhere, has nothing to do with us, and when necessary, which is often, I can either turn the channel, shut down my computer, or turn the tv off …

There is so much tragedy. I can only take so much saturation about death and destruction, not to mention, Republican Presidential hopefuls.

I have little patience for crock of shit politics.

Thank God for cable t.v.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Cold with a chance of flurries

 

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It is Sunday, and this new interface is called “Calypso,” and I don’t like it at all. It is very wonky, and all JAVA, and is supposed to be better than sliced bread … Um, NO !

I want my old post editor back. Much more user friendly.

It is on the cold side, the past two nights. We saw flurries fall a couple of times today, but there is NO snow in the forecast in the next week.

It was an odd weekend. I saw the baby the other night, and she was sniffling and coughing. On Friday morning at approximately 5 a.m. i was hugging the bowl, sick as a dog for twelve hours.

I find that I am so thirsty for anything to drink, and I went to the store twice and spent $30.00 on drinkables, yet I could not quench that thirst, it was insane, not that I kept anything down enough to enjoy it. Hubby brought me meds after work, and I took them and was able to sleep until almost 11 p.m. because I was up so early and did not sleep all day long.

I had the funkiest dream … I was stuck in this warehouse of 70’s and 80’s stuff, like video games, toys and it got crazy when I was sitting in an old style Burger King, playing with toys and food. It just kept getting odder and odder, and it was never ending. Back in the day, I had specific toys, and things I liked. Roller skates, and Solid Gold on tv. It was just odd because I’ve never had visuals like this before.

Saturday, I had things to do, and responsibilities that I had to be present for, so there was no time to lay in bed and feel sick or sorry for myself. I had back to back meetings in another fellowship I belong to. During our two hour break between them, I had dinner with friends, down line, and we watched some John Oliver on You Tube.

We’ve been talking about rigorous honesty of late. It is funny, that the one section of my life that I wanted to forget and never talk about or mention to anyone, has become my greatest teacher, and brought me into the lives of men who have changed my life.

This morning, well, for a while now, I’ve been riding my pre-cake roller coaster, that 30 day period that comes before you take your anniversary cake, when your brain goes on overdrive, and one begins to obsess over needless and useless shit.

But this morning, I needed a brain drain, so I got up and opened a word document, and wrote my script for my share on my anniversary next Sunday. I had very specific things to say, so I wrote them down, so I would not fuck it up. It is going to be explosive.

Tonight we sat only a small number. Lots of people still out sick, and we did not empty the coffee urn once again. wasted coffee…

It was Tradition Night, and the eleventh month, means the eleventh tradition. Attraction rather than promotion. That topic of anonymity came up but not many people spoke towards it.

What I did have to say was that the first time I got sober, the room I was in was very nasty and not attractive at all, but that’s where I could hit a meeting, however harsh my peers were towards newcomers. That shitty experience, only added to my alienation from the program and my eventual slip. I had come in contact with enough assholes and homophobes that I was totally turned off with participation and sobriety.

The second time I came in, it was a whole other story. The right people showed up at the right moment, and were very good for me. And when I moved to Montreal, (read: No cell phones yet), I met great people who were attractive in many ways. They took me in and took care of me, and spent time with me, so I was not alone.

I remember one really fun memory… My sponsor at the time, Dave, took me to the mountain in the middle of the night, to climb.

There is a mountain in the middle of the city. There is a trail you can walk, up and down. But on this night, he said that we were going to climb to the top, up the side, and not use the trails. It was odd, but very fun. That was just one of the many attractive things that I did in early sobriety. The other was a few months in, 4 alcoholics climbed into a Toyota and drove all the way from Montreal to Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast for some meetings, and a whale watching tour. That was 17 hours each way. It was fun but a bit irresponsible.

It was a good night. More to come, stay tuned…


Sunday Sundries … Canada Votes Tomorrow and Other Assorted Topics

maple leaf redThis leaf was found on the ground, and set into this photo. What a unique photo incorporating all that is Canada. I really like it.

It has been a very busy week. I haven’t had time to sit down and write, because life is happening at warp speed as of late. However busy it has been, this week, I have had moments of just being present for my friends.

PRESENCE…

I have spoken a great deal about “presence.” And how important that is to others, as well as for ourselves.

Life, it seems, as of late, has been full of opportunity to just be present.

Every day, there is Something to do. Places to go. People to see. Meetings to attend.

I spend a good chunk of time with the baby. And the game is changing up because our friends have now, more time to commit to being present themselves. Which is giving baby mama time to step outside of motherhood, to find the woman she was, before the baby. But she has found that she does not remember the woman she was.

So the task at hand is to realize who she is today.

And we’ve begin the process of being present for her, so that she can take some time to herself during the week, to find herself. It is a good thing.

I have other friends that just need to be loved. The consensus for some of my fellows is that they can’t devote time to people who aren’t “in the game” or “in it for the solution.” I differ in this process. I believe that just being present to begin with, is a start.

We’ve all had things to do this week, which were tedious, and stressful. And on one particular afternoon, I sat with my friends, just to be there, to offer them strength and to witness a change in the way of things.

There have been many ways that “presence” has been presented to me.

This has been a long running theme in my life.

We talked the other night about Ego and Self Esteem. When I think about these two words, images flood my mind.

Nothing kills an ego, faster, than looking down at an overflowing toilet full of shit and piss, because someone has stopped up the toilet with a cup placed backwards in the system.

And knowing that YOU have to clean it up. And not complain about it either.

Todd did a good job at teaching me valuable lessons, I get to draw upon to this day. I’m really grateful that I had the life I have lived up to this point. Because in the end, it has played out quite nicely.

When I came out, I don’t think I ever thought about self esteem. Because I was just a boy, who, with a little alcohol, would find myself, and others, and I would be one of many, just like myself.

The alcohol did for me what I could not do for myself. Until it stopped working.

My brand of alcoholism, was always, trying to find something, do something, or be someone that was unattainable, for one reason or another. I was finished when I put down the drink for the last time. Who I am today, is a direct result of all the work I have put into myself over the last almost fourteen years.

I had to get to the end of whatever road of misery I was on. It was good that I did not have much in the way of things, or money, or responsibility. It was an uphill battle. My life’s career from my teens into adulthood was fraught with complications.

I did have that two year break in the trend of misery, and had the opportunity to live the two best years of my life, with Todd. For a brief time, I knew who I was, I had self esteem, and my life was honored by men I respected and adored.

We read these stories of the folks from the second edition of the Big Book tonight.

I had not wealth, nor title, nor achievement to my name, when I was drinking, and a good thing too. Because it would have been wasted opportunity. God, in his infinite wisdom, held achievement just outside of my reach, until I was finished destroying myself.

They say, that good things come to those who wait …

I’ve learned the fine art of patience and persistence. One day at a time. Sobriety is a long term proposal, that for most, is too daunting to see right now. Which is why, one day at a time, is so useful.

Mortality, or the threat of loosing it is another ego buster. Knowing that your life hangs in the balance, and you are surely going to die, because everyone else is dying or already in the ground, so buckle up and hang on for the ride. Been there, done that …

I get two daily reminders of just who is in charge, and why I am still alive …

Just looking at my medicine cabinet is a sobering thought. That keeps shit real.

LIQUOR LIQUOR EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK …

Living in a big city, with mass transit, that, at certain times of the day, is a nightmare, brings with it a myriad of people, riding the rails. And there are a million and one stories I could tell about them.

Usually, if you travel during rush hour, it is a forgone conclusion, that at some point, the trains are going to stop, for one reason or another. If you travel after 8 p.m. the party crowd tends to ride with arm fulls of beer.

The other day I was on the train, and a gaggle of girls was traveling in the same direction I was. One girl had a bottle of Triple Sec, a second girl had a bottle of Vodka, and a third girl had a bottle of Jim Beam. For a few minutes I sat there, trying to figure out a drink combination from these three liquors …

Having been a bartender myself, I knew what I was trying to figure out.

But I had never used these three in conjunction with each other in the past.

Finally, I had to say to myself that it was either shots or mixers.

Either way, I was glad it wasn’t me carrying any bottles.

Tonight, I had a meeting with a friend, before the meeting to discuss group business. And we headed to the church a little early. And a good thing too.

The streets were packed with parked cars, the organ was cranking in the church, and we walked into the hall, and the smell of booze was sickening.

Apparently a memorial service was going on upstairs, and a wine bar was prepared down in the hall to cap off the service. Our main table was covered in glasses of red and white wine. Funny that all this wine was all over the place, and here were a few members of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting coming to set up a meeting.

That was the closest I have come to open liquor being served in as many years.

Can you say … “Oh, you can have just one … It won’t hurt, will it?”

We set the coffee pot perking and waited out the group to imbibe and go. Which ran the entire time period from when we got there, to six fifteen, when the meeting was supposed to start.

We had to work around them, and set up the room, as we quietly, ushered them out by turning down the lights, and saying nothing. It was all good.

CANADA VOTES 2015

It has been a contentious Seventy Eight Day Campaign. The leaders of our Federal Parties have been battling for votes for the longest campaign yet. Our Conservative leader, the Honorable Stephen Harper is about to loose his position, in an election that is still, too close to call.

The Conservative Party is on its way out, because an overwhelming number of Canadians say that it is time for change. But just what that change will look like is too close to call tonight.

We vote tomorrow. I voted in early voting last weekend.

The Liberal Party, headed by Justin Trudeau, The New Democratic Party, headed by Thomas Mulcair, The Parti Quebecoise headed by Gilles Ducepp, and The Green Party headed by Elizabeth May, are all vying for a position.

We have a Green Party. They are not in contention for leadership, but more supportive role in the government. They hold a few seats, and hope to more than double their numbers which will give them negotiating power in coalitions in the next parliament.

It will be a dead heat between Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau for Prime Minister.

The man who wins the most M.P.’s by riding, across the country, will be our next Prime Minister.

I am rooting for the younger, Justin Trudeau.

Stay tuned. It is going to be one rip roaring ride.

More to come, stay tuned …


Utter Sadness

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Courtesy: Independent.co.uk

The boy was part of a group of 11 Syrians who drowned off the coastal town of Bodrum in Turkey after an apparent failed attempt to flee the war ravaged country

There are too many people fleeing conflict areas, in search for a new home, safety and security. This massive migration of human beings, “yes they are human beings” and not just migrants, where we do let them go, and where do they go?

How are “we” the WORLD to care for these people? There are so many, an entire section of the world has been vacated because of terrorism, and all their people are on the seas, on the trains, all over Europe, they are trying to find home.

They say we need to stop the conflict ! But how do we do that ? We are well over the tipping point on trying to do something to stop it. But the world has failed in its attempt to stop them.

Now all these people are on the move, trying to get somewhere, anywhere, than where they started at. The world needs a response. A GOOD response.

We need to step up as community and do something now.

They are human beings, let us not forget that.

The promises of Canadian Politicians are not good enough, too little, too late.

The world needs to come together to find a viable solution to this human crisis.


Saturday – August 1st, The Writing Process Round Three

the blue moon rafaRafa’s Blue Moon – Friday July 31st 2015

This is the park we were standing in late last night on the way home, and Rafa clicked this photograph with his phone. It has been filtered and treated to get to this image.

It is exactly what we saw in real time.

I met with Rafa this evening for round three of the outline review. And once again, he had plenty of food for thought. He is a classicist and is well read on a great amount of classical literature, which makes him a perfect mentor for my project.

In pondering my theme of “Canada” from the book, this week, he introduced the concept of
“Nostos” or homecoming to me and that it might apply to my story as it has unfolded for him.

The story opens with a God moment, and as the story unfolds, Canada becomes part of my story, but for almost the whole outline, Canada does not appear until I cross the border into Canada.

I was directed to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but no “nostos.” I went to the Oxford dictionary and got the word “homecoming.” Then I thought of Wikipedia, now I know, as an academic, that Wikipedia is never used as a credible source nor should you ever cite or use a wiki entry, on any paper. But this is what they had to say about “NOSTOS.”

Nostos (Greek: νόστος) (pl. nostoi) is the Greek word for homecoming, the idea of returning home from a long journey. Nostos can also mean “Welcome Home” in the Greek language. Nostos is a theme dealt with in many Homeric writings such as the Odyssey, in which the main character, Odysseus, strives to get home after the Trojan War. The plural term nostoi is applied to Greek heroes’ homeward journeys after the taking of Troy and is the name of one of the poems of the Epic Cycle on that theme.

God is there, in my life, I am introduced to Him and He to me. The God thread runs throughout my life, and at one point, I am in seminary, then I am summarily dismissed from that seminary when my concept and practice of faith does not meet muster with my superiors.

And I walk off the grounds and look to heaven and say …”Hey God, don’t you know who I am?” “Do I matter or what, and why am I standing here outside the gates, when I should still be standing inside of them, and I am not, WHY?

I have read “The Odyssey” by Homer as a student, and later in life, saw a television movie of the same book. Tonight, Rafa gave me his copy to read, “The Odyssey of Homer by Richmond Lattimore. I am told, this translation is the best one to read.

Why are you reading the Odyssey? you might ask.

My story is a story of “homecoming.” Beginning in one place, and as a child, I am taken on a journey by my parents. I grow up, go to college and seminary, where my personal odyssey begins.

I say my personal odyssey, because I chose what I was going to do it, I was not led or taken anywhere by anyone else, like my parents, growing up as a child.

I travel from one “island” to another “island.” I am adrift at sea a number of times, and then end up on other islands, and the final move is to “ITHACA.” My story, not unlike Odysseus’ journey to return home to Ithaca, takes a long time, on a winding path, from one place to another, to this person and the next, but it seems, for a while, I may never get there, until a fortuitous letter comes in the mail, with an invitation to come HOME.

But the journey is not complete for Odysseus, he just doesn’t return and become king or get the title or his wife, and all that was his, he has to work his way back, one step at a time, and we talked of other books, that we do not have, the book that comes before the Odyssey, and the one that comes after the Odyssey, telling us what happens to Odysseus after he returns to Ithaca.

When I get here, to Montreal, there is still work to do. I just don’t win the prize, having freshly walked over the border. And in the end there is a penance that I must do.

At one point in my story, I meet a priest who is crippled by M.S. and he becomes my spiritual director. And in telling Rafa this story again tonight, he likens me to a “crippled preacher (read: recovering alcoholic), who must travel and share his message with others,” like Odysseus carries an OAR into/onto the land far from the sea, to share his message, until he reaches a place where nobody has ever seen the sea or know what an OAR is.

My life is an Odyssey, and in the end, I get to return to Ithaca and I am finally restored to who I am and to whom I am to become, something that was rightfully mine as a child, but taken away, and as the story unfolds, I am sailing and traveling endlessly, until I reach Ithaca.

I get to Canada, and I inherit all that is mine to have, passed down from my family, but it takes time to learn just what those things are, what they mean, and why they are important.

So my task now, it to rewrite my outline. I need to gather my stories in the form of “Islands and Time at Sea.” Each episode is a visit to some place, to meet someone or learn something. I am reminded to use literary economy, and use as little words as are necessary to tell my story. And if what I am writing is not relevant to the story, to just leave it out.

I need to thread all the stories together, which is why I am reading the book now, before I start writing, to see how it is written, what words are used and why and what they mean.

Read the Book, work on the outline. I have two weeks to complete this round.

Which is why tonight, I begin my read of the Odyssey.


Sunday Sundries … On a Monday Morning Early

tumblr_ndwhz7VmHB1qzx74yo1_1280It overnight, Sunday into Monday morning. I wasn’t going to post, but thought otherwise.

It was a beautiful Sunday, they are telling us that this week, will be more of the same. We will see the warmest temps yet this summer, this week.

Thank God for Air Conditioning.

I spent some time reviewing my outline and did some additions, and thought about the writing process and how it was going to go. I guess I won’t figure that out, until I actually sit down and start writing.

I spoke to my writing coach this evening on the way home, and I told him that I had finished the theme section and my graph was complete. And he suggested I start writing. I would rather sit on my outline for a few days to think about it and let thoughts foment and let things fall where they may. And on Saturday, we can do another read through, to see what comes out of our discussion of the new material. He agreed with me.

I find it better to have two minds on the process because he is well versed in literature and language and he sees things that I don’t. I tell him stories about the stories and I get his feedback and also his vision as he sees the project roll out.

I need to talk to my aunt to get some info from her about the opening chapter. I know what that chapter is, but I need to fill in some detail that I don’t yet have, and she might be able to fill in some of my blanks so that I can explain locations and setting a bit better, than just writing,

“it started here and we were in this building, so forth and so on.”

That is just too general of a description.

We sat a full house at the meeting, and we read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Tradition Seven. Every group should be self supporting declining outside contributions.

Several topics came up in discussion.

  • Financial Freedom
  • Emotional Freedom
  • Putting something in the basket, because we are accountable and want to fell part of
  • Meetings don’t run themselves, someone has to do the shopping and pay the rent
  • With no supplies, we could not feed and coffee the crowds that come

I think about ALL the money I spent on alcohol in 34 years of drinking. A mid size fortune, to be honest. I could probably have fed a third world country with it.

Now I toss a loonie or a toonie in the basket, across my meetings, because I can, and because what I get back in grace and love, pales in comparison to what I give on a nightly basis.

I also set up, make coffee and buy supplies for several meetings across town.

Everybody is well tonight.

One of our women could really use your prayers. She is in hospital and the light at the end of the tunnel is too far away to see, and she needs all the love and support we can throw at her.

Monday starts another busy week. But I would not have it any other way. I have time to spend with others, and I do that. And I better make the best of my time, because you know, we aren’t getting any younger.

T – Minus 5 days … Friday is my birthday, 48 years, another year closer to fifty.

That book needs to be written soon. I promised hubby retirement money for the bank.

And that exactly what I am going to do.

Goodnight from Montreal


Hacked !!!

ios-hackI would like to begin with today’s events as they happened.

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday) I visited a particular site that I frequently use. And stupidly clicked a foreign link. What I did not know, played out all day, well into the night.

As soon as I clicked it, my computer went crazy. So I deleted the file. The damage had already begun. A hacker, located in Western Canada, (Alberta) to be exact, I know this because during the evening he tried to hack my Facebook account, thank god for suspicious detection software, they noted that the log in was suspicious and they froze my account, I later found this out, when I got home.

But they had mapped his whereabouts and who he was and what he tried to do.

Thank you Facebook… I owe you one.

Anyways, I tried to start a virus scan, across many tools I have on my computer. They would start, then abruptly shut down. It took hubby some serious sleuthing to figure out how to contain the virus and get it detected, because the virus mimics completely normal functions while it hacks your system (I learned this along the way). It would disable all virus detection software.

First he hacked my primary email account and changed the passwords. I also did not know until much later that Google had sent queries to a secondary email that I later checked and saw them there.

Then he hacked my Pay Pal account and shut me out there as well. He signed up for a GAMING ACCOUNT on STEAMPOWERED.COM.

I later went there and found out it was a gaming site.

He opened an account and siphoned $150.00 (CAD) from my Pay Pal account.

Pay Pay, when used, in my case, I have a business account, they automatically forward the funds to the receiver right from the first click. Then in 2 to 3 days, they pull the funds from your bank account to cover the transaction.

Ok, We settled the virus and got rid of it. (7 p.m.) That took over two hours.

I had departed for the Thursday night meeting. More on that later.

While I was gone, my phone began to send me messages about my email account being closed and the password I was using was invalid. I had no idea what was going on till I got home.

So in a few hours time, he hacked into all my accounts, changed all the passwords and locked me out. He stole $150.00 to game with.

When I got home, (9:30 -10:00 p.m.) Google sent me a suspicious email, and I was able to recover my account and change the passwords. When I logged into my email, I saw the transactions that were made, because the email trail was left behind.

I called Pay Pal and they helped me restore my account to get in, because I was locked out.

They had to reset everything and walk me through an account restore. Then I talked to another agent who took my fraud claim and she closed the account because it was set up for multiple billing. She shut down the hacker account and stopped the charges.

She put a hold on the funds, because they are going to come from my bank in a day or two. When the charges hit from my bank to Pay Pal, they are already reversed. So I can just re-deposit the funds back in the bank.

I then started to systematically go through all my banking accounts, email and other assorted accounts that were hacked and changed all the passwords and the security questions.

The last phase was Facebook. I logged in and there was a freeze on my account, because, like I said above, they detected a foreign log in. And I had to tell them if I knew who they were, and they provided a mapping of where the hacker was.

I restored my account and changed the passwords as well.

What a fucking nightmare …

I went back to the site I was on and reported the hacker to them and the trail that was left behind. I have yet to hear from a moderator.

It seems that Steampowered.com is known to host fraudulent hackers who siphon money from hacked accounts to pay for game play on their site. I was not the first to report this kind of hacking.

Lesson learned …

**** **** ****

Tonight I heard a friend talk. I’ve known her for years and the take away was simple,

“Live and Let Live!”

UGH, like I needed a hole in my head when I got home.

I have much better stories to tell about this week, so more on that later tonight…


Friday … May 1st – May Day, Riots, Demonstrations and Mayhem

tumblr_n2w3uhcDia1rvyjllo2_500 spoonsdammitCourtesy: Spoons

Today is May 1st. Today is also my father’s birthday. Not that it matters, since we don’t speak, but it is what it is. We all know what has been going on in the United States these past two weeks. I don’t write about current events, because who needs another opinion on what I feel is wrong, and what we need to do to fix it.

Systemic problems in law enforcement are a common problem not only here in Canada, but in other places like the U.S. I believe that there is a tipping point in all of this. And another dead black man at the hands of police just reinforces that, ONE, the police, for whatever reason, are not paying attention to what other cops have done to other black men, and TWO, not learned the lessons, and so, THREE, on high horses, cops pegged a black man for unsubstantiated reasons, arrested him, shackled him and put him in a police van, then drove him to his death.

Everybody should be wary of police, because nobody is immune to police brutality. It could happen to any of us at any time. For years really, black communities have been target populations, their young people are unjustly targeted.

And it seems cops don’t give a shit about civil rights and proper policing procedures.

Two camps of people, both on edge, both warily watching each other, almost to the point of playing chicken, and as it happened again, one side acted, and the tipping point was reached, and what did we see, riots, looting, fires and civil disobedience.

The cops aren’t on a very good learning curve are they? They just seem to be shooting themselves in the heads week after week, and month after month.

Living above the Northern Border, watching life happen in the South, one has to detach because, one) It isn’t happening here, two) We cannot do anything about it, and three) it has nothing to do with Canada.

Pretty harsh, if it ain’t local, don’t worry about it.

Civil right are civil rights, no matter where you live. They just happen to be on live display down in the U.S.

We have our own problems to deal with here.

It was May Day today. And Canadians are demonstrating all over the country. Our Quebec government has introduced drastic austerity measures, and nobody has escaped these new laws they are trying to push forwards.

So like every Spring, as has happened over several years past, Montrealer’s really know how to protest. They go ALL OUT, or Go Home. From small demos to huge demos, people have been marching in the streets for a long time.

Today was no different.

The downtown core was disrupted, buildings were shuttered, bus routes were stopped, people were marching in the streets. Now the authorities have certain rules for engagement.

  1. All routes must be given in advance
  2. No masks
  3. No violence
  4. Be peaceful and behave and you can march
  5. That RARELY happens.

Our police force is a bit twitchy.

Most demonstrations that go off, are quickly quashed because of rules being broken. Our young people aren’t really afraid of the police. They go fuck all on the police. They scream, yell, throw rocks and bottles. They burn police cars and wreck public cars and buildings.

I was on the train going out this evening, and the trains were FULL of people, with masks, picket signs, and they were chanting on the trains ahead of the chanting they were going to do once they hit the streets.

I got to the church and friends of mine who had come from other directions, spoke about riots, tear gas and marauding hoards of people running through the streets and the police chasing them down.

So you see, even up here, we aren’t immune to social strife and demonstrations.

Spring offensives are a regular occurrence here. As soon as it warms up, those with a bone to pick, start planning. This has been a common theme over the last eight to ten months. For the last year, there have been silent protests by city employees, firefighters, the police. There are protest stickers covering police cars, firetrucks, metro cars, buses, you name it.

If you can stick a sticker on it, there you go.

Now add the layer of public disobedience, on top of pissed off authority figures, you have a disaster in the making. Two sides pissed off for their own reasons, clashing over other issues that have pissed city folks off, and the fire keg is set to blow.

And things are just getting started. It is going to be a long spring.

I have opinions, but I’d rather keep them to myself, so to avoid flame wars.

Tonight we talked about Character.

We sat a full house. Everything was good.

More to come. I just wanted to address the obvious and share a bit about Montreal.

Nobody is immune.


Our Flag … The Maple Leaf … Turns 50 today

freestyle-skiing-winter-olympics-day-20140210-202248-596 alex bilodeau Gold mens mogulsFreestyle Skiing Winter Olympics – Alex Bilodeau Gold Men’s moguls

Who better to showcase on this special birthday.

Happy Birthday Maple Leaf


Freedom, Expression, Discretion

tumblr_m187ytnKBN1r3fvxmo1_500 thedarkblueCourtesy: The Dark Blue

Freedom is a notion that was put forwards when nations began. People moving from one locale to another to find Freedom. Because where they were, was not what people wanted. So they moved to new worlds, new continents, they sometimes took over places that were already full of people, and we all know how that story turned out.

Here in Canada, as in most Democratic countries, freedom is a privilege. I was born in a nation that prided itself on freedom. I was raised and taught about how my father fought for the freedom that we, his family, were privileged to live. But that freedom came with conditions.

Living under my father’s roof, I had to follow prescribed notions, beliefs and family gospel. This freedom, in the end, turned me inside out and I struck out to find my own kind of freedom.

I really did not find it. Because I was sunk in the bottom of a bottle.

Moving on in life, I was saddled by sickness and impending death. And I decided to make some changes that would, in the end, bring about “freedom” as I understood it, at the time.

Those changes brought me here to Canada. Montreal became my oyster. I had an opportunity to learn about a new country, a new city, new values, new codes and mores, I was, for all intents and purposes, free of the past, which I chose to shut the book on.

We come here, as tourists, as immigrants. To get in, you have to follow the rules. I followed the rules. And I earned my place at the Canadian table. I was struck by just how passionate people were to certain ideas and beliefs. I cultivated my life in living here, going to meetings, attending University, and living along side other people, who seemed to want the same freedoms I wanted.

The two topics you never talk about over Thanksgiving dinner are Religion and Politics.

You learn, through books, lectures and world events, where we all came from. The media, daily, pummels us with all kinds of information, we must choose what we take in and what we leave behind.

What’s good for one people may not be good for other people.

What’s good for one religion, may not be good for another religion.

What’s good for one country may not be good for another country.

We all have our rules, dogmas, taboos, mores, cultures and beliefs, practices so forth and so on.

Freedom to one to do, say, write or express ones self, may not be agreeable to another.

Like in Canada, we have a law that states, Hate Speech is not something, we as Canadians, entertain. There are world events that are non-negotiable. They happened, we can prove it, and to speak against such world events is taboo.

I’ve learned over the years, that there are topics that I won’t touch, with a ten foot pole. They are usually topics, that I know little about, educational wise, but I know about them, a bit. And I know just enough to know that I won’t write about them or discuss them in my community.

I paid a pretty penny for my University Education. My education has caused me grief over the years with certain religious groups, who assailed me daily with ridicule and apocalyptic threats to my person and my way of life. But I was steadfast, because I learned more about my field, and had enough education under my belt to stand my ground.

I found that certain people think they know things about a certain topic, and they believe they have the definitive last word, even though they never read anything farther than their bibles. And then they came here to condemn me and preach gospel, that I was well versed on and studied for over a decade. They eventually stopped bothering me, and went away.

THANK GOD !

I am versed on major world religions, to a point. I’ve studied them. And my area of concentration is Western Religions, Christianity, Judaism, Eastern Traditions to a point, and a bit on Islam. The only unit of study I failed in University was Islam. I did not get past the final paper. I had to attend remediation for weeks after that fiasco.

But during each unit of study I participated in each religious practice.

I went to Shul during my Judaism section. I attended Friday Prayers during my Islam studies. I was going to church regularly on Sunday’s,  so forth and so on. I did not just read a book or two and listen to lectures. I actually participated in religious practice.

The world sees religion through various lenses. For every human being on the earth, there is a version of their respective religious tradition.

We have our Holy Books. We have our traditions, our beliefs and our ways.

Living where I live, the leaders of our city, and for that matter our country, respect all religions and traditions.

TO A POINT.

If your religion tells you to go to a public place with an automatic weapon and kill people,
You need to find a new religion.

I cannot talk about the Middle East, but to a point. I don’t live there, I know basic history. Certain sections of the world have been embroiled in turmoil for centuries. And It would not be very wise for me to even think about entertaining discussion about those topics.

We have seen how certain countries in the world view certain religious topics. And how they take the notion of freedom, maybe, well maybe more, a bit too far.

We celebrate the freedom to speak, and the freedom of the press, and the freedom to think whatever we want to think, believe and to a point act on.

The world knows, and has known for centuries how certain religious people read, believe in and respect their Holy Books. The world is well versed in taboo, respect of tradition, and how that all boils down.

Then there are those who’s only goal is to push their holy books down our throats and kill us because of them. Not everybody around the world respects the other very well, or not at all. Somebody please show me the hadith that says that killing is a Godly action?

In the Hebrew Bible it is written that you shall make no graven images of G-d.

Christians across the world know what God looks like, what Jesus looks like, and the Cross of Christ Crucified is a tangible sign of our belief. Some wear the cross on their sleeves like martyrs.

Every Religion has their laws, proscriptions and taboos.

  • I am 100% against the killing of innocents, ANY innocents
  • I do not subscribe to the thought that I am an infidel
  • There is no religion that states that killing is a Godly action
  • To believe that the Prophet, peace be upon His Holy name, asks Muslims to kill, is a crime against humanity
  • If your religion asks you to go to a public place with automatic weapons and kill people, you need to find a new religion

I don’t understand why countries allow freedoms to cross that invisible line of decorum and discretion. I don’t understand why people write words or paint pictures or speak words, that they well know, will incite anger. Incite REAL ANGER.

Freedom is not really true, because we believe certain things, and we do or do not do certain things, because they are either wrong or incendiary. In media there are censors, on tv there are censors, and even in print media there are censors. But as we have seen, people continue to break social norms and crank out incendiary media which goes out even faster today thanks to social media.

I agree that we must be free to be able to express ourselves as we please, within the confines of proper speech and discretion.

Discretion is the better part of Valor, they say …

The world is sunk in a war that will not end if we all agree and we stop fighting and we all get along.

We all don’t agree. We all won’t stop fighting. And We all won’t get along.

Militant fighters are hell bent on creating havoc, to kill the infidel and to eradicate populations of people off the face of the earth all in the name of The Prophet, peace be upon his holy name.

Religious factions are split down irrevocable lines.

What does one do, when there are entire warring factions of fighters out there, who’s only goal in life is to Kill Us, and attain martyrdom and inherit seventy two virgins when they die? The battle over who lives and who dies is a terrible problem. And we are no nearer a solution today than we were decades ago.

Innocent people have died around the world because of this taint on religion. Hundreds of thousands of people over generations have been wiped off the face of the earth because of hatred and jihad.

There is no salvation in the killing of innocents.

But what do you say about those people who knowingly cross those invisible lines of freedom, expression and discretion? They knew what they were doing was incendiary, and they pushed the buttons anyway. Were they just expressing their freedom or were they knowingly fanning the fires of hatred and jihad, and today twelve people are dead because of such actions?

I 100% do not agree with crossing incendiary lines. If you want peace with those who want to kill you, for God’s sake, stop the presses, and curb your speech. Stop pushing religious buttons, just because you think you can, and get away with it, without repercussions.

God does not condone killing in any fashion for any reason.

Only God should be able to take a life.

But I will state again, if you kill an innocent. a child, a human being, for the sake of your God, we will hunt you down, and we will kill you. I have said this once before, the day militants killed innocent children in Pakistan, and I will say it again.

This Holy War will not end with the eradication of the infidel from the earth. You will never achieve nirvana or salvation in this war of Gods and beliefs. There is no salvation in killing innocents.

As long as the world has to live with the constant fear of someone walking into an office, or a school, or a sky scraper, or a Parliament building with the intent to kill us, we will defend ourselves.

If you kill a child or an innocent, then I state my belief that the bible says an Eye for an Eye and and Tooth for a Tooth. Killing innocents is a crime against humanity.

We know what the extermination of human beings looks like. And we are seeing it again in modern times.

This must stop.

But how ???


The Pride of Canada … Juniors Win GOLD against Russia

canada-10_635x250_1420519026.gifAfter a drought of years, Canada’s Men’s Junior Hockey team rose to the occasion.

The Final Game Canada versus Russia, was a hard fought battle and when it came to an end

Canada won !!!

Our Young men can be proud of their achievement tonight. We are all so proud of you.

You did the Country Proud. Well Done.


Merry Christmas 2014

tumblr_lw2bl4yyhC1qzcvqpo1_500 rawrdanieltumblr_m87fjdSpOA1ravgvuo1_500 jackandfinnCourtesy: RawrDaniel and JackHarries – Christmas Past

I stayed up late last night watching the Tubes for a while. Our local radio station that usually does overnight radio, is running Christmas music ad nauseum, ugh enough already !!! BAH !!!

Like I have said before, we really don’t get into that shop till you drop mentality. So Christmas is a little subdued. A couple of gifts, things we need, or maybe a surprise or two in the mix. Holidays are really about family and friends, and the table we will sit at later today.

This Christmas was all about Woks, headphones, and Max …

Hubby is Le Chef de Mission here at home. Keeping with tradition, he gets the latest and greatest cooking pans on the market. One of our staple meals is stir fry. And we needed a new Wok, so that was under the tree.

Then it was the Big Box – gifts for both of us in one swing. That was a big hit. New headphones.
Thank you Skull Candy !

Max got an upgrade with a 1 GB memory stick. That was much needed, because my library is pretty full as it is. I also got a shiny new mouse pad. My old mouse pad was really in bad shape.

That’s it for gifts. Nothing too grandiose.

The bird is in the oven, and we are on track for an early afternoon dinner with friends.

**** **** ****

A Christmas Reflection 2014

Today the Queen of England spoke about reconciliation, and the pause in hostilities during the Great War, where British and German troops, in dug out trenches, put down their guns, as the German soldiers sang “Silent Night,” in the night. The British followed suit.

What happened next is the story of legends. The next morning, Christmas Day 100 years ago today, the soldiers came out of their trenches meeting in no mans land for a game of footy, and to exchange presents and greetings.

Imagine, if the world today, took a collective breath, and hostilities were stopped for one day. Imagine, if the world could bring the many, into reconciliation, and END hostilities world wide !

IDEOLOGIES …

I have a friend who eschews holidays, those consumer driven celebrations that pop up every once in a while, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Christmas … Love is an every day feeling. Family is an everyday gathering. Celebrating the lives of others, is a 365 days a year event.

We’ve learned, over the years, what is most important. When the tree goes up, it is a family event. It is a celebration of love, because we created a ritual for the tree. At Christmas our extended family goes well beyond to gift us all with something particularly special. And we return the gesture in kind.

For the past few years, our older members in the fellowship have been alone, they live alone and only go out for meetings, or shopping, or they go without. Us younger members have taken on the work of living in community with our men and women.

We break bread with them regularly. We celebrate holidays together, some share musical talent with them. All so that we do something good on a regular basis, with them, so that they are not alone. My guys are all connected to helping others when they can. Because they are able, and it is the right thing to do.

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus. A blessed birth come to pass in a humble manger in Bethlehem. Yes, the birth of Christ is important. It is the beginning of the story. But if you think about it, the end of the story of Jesus, is the culmination of God becoming man, and having a human experience, to sacrifice himself for the good of mankind.

Christ came to speak words of truth, to heal the sick, to chastise the greedy and wealthy, to give food to the hungry and pardon the sinner. He called twelve men to follow him, they would eventually follow and begin to create simple Christianity, that has blossomed into the Christianity of today.

The end of the story, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, is Man’s Saving Grace. Sacrifice is God’s greatest gift to mankind. He came so that we could have life, and life abundantly. Christ dying on the cross is the pinnacle of the meaning of Christianity. Coming to save man, by dying on a cross.

Sacrifice … Love … Salvation …

I remember when I was a young boy, going to my first retreat, and hearing the words, and listening to people speak about God, Jesus and Salvation. And at the end of it all, the altar call came, and one by one we stood and turned our lives over to this man we call Jesus.

It was a Mountaintop experience.

But like Moses, we too, had to come down from the mountain, and re-enter the world.

In those days, open carrying a bible in public school, was akin to having leprosy for teens.

It marked you as different. Odd. They called us Jesus Freaks, and we were. For a while at least.

I can’t say that I succeeded in my zeal for Jesus given the home I lived in and the schools I went to.

But that time is not lost on me considering my university education and the work I do every day.

Imagine what it was like to proclaim the life of Jesus as a follower to your fellow man. Imagine what it was like for those apostles and then the people. It was like that for us. I’ve learned a great deal of what it means to follow the man we call Jesus today.

That is a 365 day journey. Not just on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day, or Epiphany.

We should love one another every day. We should honor our mates every day. We should honor our children every day. The holidays have been Frankensteined into conglomerate days of greed, money and consumerism.

If it ain’t black Friday, it doesn’t matter.

Tomorrow, bar none, people will be lining up, getting dirty, and fighting tooth and nail to get that 6 a.m. door buster prize. And I guarantee you that by 6 p.m. there will be numerous reports of holiday cheer going out the window as people beat each other up, or shoot one another for that Big Screen tv, or pair of high end sneakers.

Christmas is a day. I’ve encouraged my friends to go out into their communities and serve the less fortunate. But this too is not just a Christmas job, it is an every day job. I’ve said before that if we took all that money we spend on national and international defense and war spending and putting that money to better use, we could change the lives of millions in short order.

Sadly, the world operates on the conflict of the people, whether we like to admit that or not. It is Big Business. And those who have all the money and power rely on the conflict within the people to make their millions, billions and trillions of dollars.

The Christmas message is lost on them totally.

If you miss the real meaning of Christmas, let me remind you of a few point of order:

  • It’s not about the gifts under the tree, but the people around it
  • It’s not about how much money you spend, but the love that you share
  • It’s about family and who sits at your table for your holiday meal
  • It’s about that checker girl/guy at the grocery store, be kind
  • It’s about the less fortunate and random acts of kindness
  • It’s about the birth and beginning of the life of a man who would change the world
  • In the end it is all about the Sacrifice for the salvation of the world
  • It isn’t about what religion you profess, but the God that gives you life
  • It is the peace you share, and the fact that we are spiritual beings having a human existence

The Holidays are a “WE” event. It is not an “I” event. Dinner later on will be a We event.

And later tonight, WE will gather for a Christmas Night Meeting.

More to come …

Part 2 …

The weather held for the evening. But man is it windy. Where is all that wind coming from, and where did it originate? The wind was buckling the windows all evening while we napped after Christmas dinner.

Dinner was a nice meal, with friends and family.

We set out a bit early due to the fact that the buses are on Sunday Schedule for the holiday. Arriving at the church, a good number of people came out for the meeting. I half expected more to come, but we filled the room nonetheless.

Tonight we heard one of our women. One of the many women who feed my desire to be a better man, a sober man, who has done his work, and gives it away to others who want it as well.

In the beginning the story is the same. We were born, most, into dysfunctional families, feeding us mixed, and sometimes the wrong message about ourselves. And that leads into us becoming who we are in that period of time, and usually, but not in all cases, the messages we are fed, lead us into the world of drugs and alcohol to escape, to enhance, and even to blot out what we are hearing and in the end feeling.

Some, in the beginning, come, they look around, and they leave. We find this the case with our young people. How can I, (read: Being so young) have such problems that would need the intense work that we provide to them? For many young people, youth means that they have at least ten to fifteen years of good partying life ahead of them, and the mere thought of turning it all over and coming in for good is such a Tall Order …

Some come, and they stay, and they make a life out of it. But the stats are not good.

The WOMEN I speak so highly about so often, changed my life. Most of those women, by extension and by lineage, are sponsored, grand sponsored and great grand sponsored by women who live in New York City. The message came from one, to the next, and the next, and then finally to them personally. I was in the right place at the right time to hear this and see this in action.

And I wanted so badly to be part of it. And now I am. They say it is difficult to blunt a raging forest fire. Imagine for a moment, a bunch of crazy women on fire for the book and the solution. I had lunch with one of my ladies yesterday. They all warm my heart.

If you stick around, and you get the right message, that the book gives you, you too can join the fire for the book as well. They say that if you want to hide something from an alcoholic, put it in the Big Book. Because most alcoholics won’t read the book, until it is imperative they do so. You can only sit in your chair for so long, until someone sits with you and offers to take you through the book like we do it.

The Solution … I’ve learned that I can be with myself. Alone, quiet, in the center of the storm where the winds are calm. I’ve learned that I don’t have to save anyone, that all I have to do is take care of me, and with that done, I can help take care of someone else.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

Listening to sponsees, reminds me why I am here. Because I hear what happened to them, and I know that some of the same things happened to me as well. Good Healing Fire spreads quickly. We hear our friends share in discussion meetings, but it is also good to hear them share on the open stage at a speaker meeting. I’ve heard her before, and tonight I got to see and witness personal progress.

We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.

Every day we get a daily reprieve, contingent on our spiritual condition.

I understand what that means to me. Because I learned how to do it myself. You may not be one for prayer, or meditation. And in the beginning who can sit still for more than five minutes, at that? I had to practice. And that practice took months upon months, With serious time under my belt.

I had to step up my game if I wanted to reap the rewards of spiritual fitness.

Three, Seven and Eleven … daily, on your knees, humble before God. It is an act of humility to get down on ones knees to pray. Because they say, “When life gets too hard to stand, Kneel.”

Everybody has a journey to take, and no two journeys are the same.

THE WORK is the same for all of us, out of the same book, heading in the same direction.

That’s why I read the book with my guys once a week. That’s why I read the book with my sponsor.

Today, I, like many of my friends, live in the solution.

It was a good night.

My other observation for the night was of one particular homeless man, who has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober. And probably longer than that. The homeless in our city have a routine.

Whether they begin in the East and and work their way West, or from West to East, they either ride the rails, or ride the bus. From one side of the city to the other. Most of them go without food on a daily basis, but they have enough money to provide a bus pass to travel.

Where does that money come from, who provides it, when they can’t afford to eat?

Meetings run on similar lines across town, North, South, East and West. You can get to any meeting by rail and by bus. Our homeless population are well known in our circles, because they show up diligently on time for the meeting, for free coffee and cookies, and/or whatever free food is on the table. That is probably the mainstay of their meals on any given day, unless of course they visit a shelter or food station downtown.

Our city and by extension, our country hides a dark secret, out in the open, and we are powerless to affect change. The city can only do so much. Volunteers can only do so much, and the shelters and food stations can only do so much. Winters are brutal for our homeless. Because there are so many, there are spare resources for them on any given night, so they troll the city from one end to another every night.

Some collect bottles and cans. That is certain money in their pockets. Can and Bottle return is a booming business. The grocery store on the corner does really good business every day. I see the same folks come day in and day out, with tons of cans and bottles. One of them, I don’t know where he gets them all, but he probably collects a thousand cans a day add to that boxes of beer bottles as well.

There are entire populations of people who go without. Entire populations that live well, WELL below the poverty level. People at high levels of government have asked the Prime Minister what he will do for the those who need so much, and last week I heard him say on tv, that “well, they are not even on our radar, to be honest!”

How can you run a country that has so much, and gives so much away to foreign nations, that so many of your own people go without, and come off saying that they are not on your radar and that in turn, they are not important for the country, the provinces and the entire nation?

How can you stand yourself knowing that you ignore entire populations of people, because it isn’t expedient or that it is beneath you – or not politically sound to care or even act like you care for votes when the time comes?

That’s a political hot potato.

Human interest stories at the governmental level are ignored.

No government is perfect, anywhere in the world.

In a country that is so rich, a first world nation, we have entire populations of people who live in third world conditions, and that is terribly sad. I have ideas to float for all of these problems. They sound easy to me when I repeat them in my head, they sound good, they look good, but in the end, to make sweeping changes that many of us agree need to be made, that would take money. More money that most governments want to throw on people who do not matter to their bottom line.

VOTERS.

Most of those people do not vote. Most of those people have substandard homes if they have that at all, countless numbers of them are homeless, drug addicted and alcoholic. Many of them have mental and emotional problems that are never addressed because there is no money and not enough resources to help them all. Hell, even in first world populations, in the biggest cities, across the country, many people face these same problems, and they too go without.

We are heading into election territory in 2015.

Getting these issues onto a stage where they are heard and dealt with is wishful thinking.

Another Christmas, and some of our folks went without. again …

It costs money to take a homeless person off the street. Clean them up, first, then try and find them someplace safe and economical to live, but then you need to find the money to allow them to pay rent, utilities, buy food and live a substantive life. Treat their problems accordingly, but with what resources and from where? How do we do that ?

I asked a friend on the way home about the man I am speaking about now, and I said that he has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober, how do we get him off the street ? And his answer was simply, that he doesn’t want to get off the street ! Now is that by choice, by default, or lack of concern for his own welfare?

This is all terribly troubling when we live these lives of having everything that we need. And on the fringe, just below the radar, so many have little to nothing to call their own.

What did you do for the least of these today?

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And with that, my Very Mario Christmas comes to an end.

Thank you for reading, for subbing and for being a part of my life.

Goodnight.


The Great Return

football-mario-gotze-fc-bayern-munich-munchen_3183483jersey cropA Very Mario Christmas Continues …

Guess what came in the mail today …

The excitement of the holidays has begun.

We welcomed friends who arrived from out of town, just in time for the Friday Night Meeting. People will be coming and going over the next two weeks, and our social schedule’s for those weeks have been already planned to maximize all the time we have together, before people go back to their respective schools across Canada and the United States.

In other news … Unlike the downtown core, where there is little snow piled up, basically because it has already been plowed away, up on the plateau where the Friday Night Meeting resides, there is snow piled up ALL over the place. Cars are buried, sidewalks are passable because the city workers plowed away enough snow to make them passable.

I suited up, with many layers, incorporating my new jersey, front and center, bundled up and headed out. There are 2 stations on the same line that are equidistant from home, one up towards the college, Eastbound, and the other down to the mall, three blocks Westward. I needed tickets in any case, and I can get them at the pharmacy, which is in the mall, above the train station.

So that was  my plan.

There were lots of people coming and going. People are certainly taking part in the holiday shopping binge. The mall stations were packed with merry holiday goers. So I made my transit, and I was amazed to see that my phone actually works on the train across both the Green and Orange lines.

They have been upgrading the cell reception and service across the core stations and it seems they tweaked the outbound stations on the Orange line, that I take to get to the meeting. For the second time recently, I got a live text while in the tunnel, with the train in motion. YAY Telus !!!

We sat a good group. A friend that I haven’t seen in some time, came, and actually, I had been thinking about him specifically, over the past few days, and I like to believe that when we think of people. we send a ripple out to the universe, and within hours, or sometimes, days, they show up.

The universe is funny in that way.

These are hard times indeed. Our folks have been coming from other places, and new folks that don’t usually come, have shown up and visitors from out of town are in for the holidays. We are happy to oblige. We talked about A.B.S.I. and “We cannot live alone.”

This particular reading speaks about steps four and five respectively.

“… We cannot wholly rely on friends to solve all our difficulties. A good adviser will never do all our thinking for us. He/She knows that each final choice must be ours. He/She will therefore help to eliminate fear, expediency, and self deception, so enabling us to make choices which are loving, wise and honest.” Grapevine August, 1961.

I remarked to a friend that there is always something to take away from every meeting. It might be a word, an exercise, or just an identification.

In the beginning, folks are very leery about step work. Especially when they consider the “what we think” daunting process of writing our step four. Then speaking it through Step five. Tonight, there was not one horror story. Many of us have done them, and found that they were truly enlightening, freeing and liberating. Everyone had a unique story to share on the topic.

THEN …

We heard about a writing exercise, that is said to be the most powerful writing exercise that is used at the famed Betty Ford Clinic.

  • Pen to paper – Write out the Third Step prayer
  • Pen to paper – Write out three lists: Resentments, Fears and Gratitude list
  • Pen to paper – Write out the Seventh Step prayer

We do this on a daily basis, first the prayers, then our lists for that respective day. You must put at least three things on the Gratitude list every day. And as we do this writing exercise, we watch how items move between the lists and eventually land on the gratitude list.

If you can commit to this writing exercise, it will prove to be a most useful tool.

Every little bit of experience pays off from time to time. Our young people can never get enough of stuff to do to keep them “on the beam.” And those of us who have some time and experience, adding a little something here or there tends to be very useful in our daily ritual of prayer and writing.

I am very keen on having the guys I work with follow simple suggestions.

Like I mentioned yesterday, eventually, for better or for worse, your sponsor should help you along with tools that will make your life easier, which is to say, a good sponsor knows what they are doing, and I work very hard to be that person. And If I suggest something to my guys, again, for better or for worse, following a suggestion usually ends up in the positive column often.

If I’ve done it, or heard that it can be done this way, or know someone who had results doing something specific, I do it myself, then I suggest that idea out, and I watch the results.

It all comes down to The Work …

You are either In It or you are IN IT TO WIN IT …

Which leads back to How it works, chapter five … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.

Little did I know, how that sentence changes in literal meaning, the further IN IT you get.

I mean, this seminal reading we hear ad infinitum at every meeting, read over and over, day after day, night after night, these words now leap off the page when I hear them read. Because now I know what it feels like to go to ANY length.

Imagine it only took me eleven years to understand this.

It took another member who was IN IT to tell me that I need to be IN IT and how to do that.

What a rush …

I love my life. My friends. My fellows.

It was a love fest tonight, that will continue until January 5th.

I’ve heard about gratitude living, and there I usually roll my eyes …

But I truly know what that feels like and means for me.

We need people in our lives, but in the end, the final choices should be ours alone, given with good guidance from people we trust. Not having to pollute ourselves helps a great deal in learning how to make right and good decisions, soberly …

More to come, stay tuned …


December 9th 2014 … Thirteen

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Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

I offer you “Thirteen” a retrospective.

In May of 2013, I had been at Tuesday Beginners for eleven years. The New York women came to us and I began to watch them and listen to them. I watched what they did for a while and I longed for that kind of life to come to me.

The end of May came with the West Island Round Up. And I heard Lorna Kelly speak, along with a host of others from New York. And I learned, much to my dismay, that I’d been warming a seat for years, and not really doing anything about it. Comfortable at just being a talking head and showing up and doing service.

One of the men who spoke talked about prayer … I prayed, but not with the intensity or meaning that our man was trying to get across to the people sitting in front of him while he spoke. Three, Seven and Eleven, every day, like you mean it. You have the book, why aren’t you working it?

This is how we do it.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT !!!

Are you listening??

I faded from my then sponsor and decided to go it alone. It was time. Days, turned into weeks, which turned into months. I changed up my meetings, added the Friday A.B.S.I. meeting, and I was doing the work, praying and being present for my friends.

In the Summer of 2013, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners, opting for the “other” beginners meeting that was on earlier, because that is where my friends were, or, more to the point, the young men of that I needed in my life and it ended up, this meeting carried me through some tough times. And I gave back to that meeting.

On my 12th anniversary, December 9th 2013, I asked a friend to give me my chip, so it went. Since then, Vendome Beginners moved to the location we are at now, albeit in smaller numbers, we have a committed group of folks who come week in and week out.

There was an old timer there, who had the years, and I was in the market for a new sponsor, in January this year, we went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. He had a few rules that I must agree to follow. I was supposed to call him every day for a month. I did that. At the end of the month, on the last day, I called him, and he said to me that I did not have to call him anymore. And I was like “What?” But I want to call you every day. That was the answer he was looking for.

It has been close to a year, and I call him every day. He also started me on the journey with the Men’s Intensive Big Book, Steps, Study. We have been working our steps in tandem with each other. My sponsors sponsor, my sponsor, and then myself. I had been doing the work, praying and acting As If.

And God seemed to be pleased because he sent me young men to work with, something my life had lacked for all the years I was sober. They have taught me many things, about themselves, and about myself, and about us.

In May of 2014, he invited me to my first Men’s Intensive Weekend at Mad River Barn, in Vermont. Being the only Queer in the bunch, I told them my stories about getting sober in certain groups. And the fact that people sent me away because I was gay! That changed everything. It was the first weekend where men from other places listened to me and spoke kindness to me. I came home from that weekend with lessons I still use today. I work the same way with my guys, that my sponsor works with me.

The weekend after then Men’s Intensive, it was my hope to share a round up with my guys. It was an ok weekend. The singleness of purpose problem was a barrier for my guys, and they felt left out of the US and segregated to just them and the just us club. But the message was clear from the Atlantic Group.

The Mantra was “THE WORK.”

Since May I have talked about the work, and how that has panned out over the past seven months. In October of 2014, we again returned to Mad River for the Fall Men’s Intensive weekend. Sadly, that would be the last time we visited that Inn. This time around, I was asked to speak. Actually, before I even got home from the Intensive in May, an invitation to speak was waiting for me when I got home. So I had months to prepare. I did not get a notice on what I would be speaking on in any case.

Half our number came for the weekend. People were not pleased with the Inn from the last visit and the price had gone up considerably. Nonetheless, I was the opening presenter for Steps One and Two for the weekend.

I met some of the same men as the first time, but also got to meet several other men who had come for the first time. I had been working my steps, working with my guys, and I talked about that with the guys, a handful of them disagreed with my style and approach, and voiced those opinions.

My Sponsor listened to what I had said and told me to ignore them.What I was doing was working, so don’t get caught up in old men being pissy.

On the way to the Mad River Barn, My sponsor, myself and a friend, took an excursion to East Dorset Vermont to visit Bill’s House, where he was born and was raised. We also visited Bill’s and Lois’s grave with a group of women making an intensive weekend there at the house. It was a life changing event for me, and for all those who were there.

Standing on Bill’s Grave, speaking about recovery, to others present, changed my life. I had the opportunity to visit the man who started it all. Then attend an intensive weekend, and then bring all that home for my guys, my friends, my fellows, the list goes on and on. On the way home from that weekend, we visited the next site of the Men’s Intensive for Spring 2015. A little place called Saint Anne’s Shrine in Vermont. About an hours drive from here.

We have celebrated Thanksgiving and we are coming up on Christmas.

Three seems to be the magic number for me. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a man who came to our Sunday night meeting, and since. I’ve become his sponsor. You loose one, God gives you another one. They say, when you work with others that, you might find folks to work with, and they might decide that drinking is far more fun, and take leave of you. But when one goes, there is always someone waiting in the wings to take their place. And so that has happened.

The Pre-Cake roller coaster did not take off this year.

There were no massive upheavals, no major issues, no major problems. It has been a slow burn. However, this year, I have not only had myself to work with, but my guys and my sponsor. I’ve really had no down time to think of myself. When the phone rings, it rings, I answer.

It is one thing to be present for your own sobriety, it is totally a different fish, when you are accountable to young men with whom you work with. They call every day. We talk every day, except when life takes precedence. I meet my guys once a week to talk, to read the Book, and to do Step Work. One of my guys moved to the states, this past fall for his M.A. so we Skype every week.

Thank God for technology and sponsorship.

They have totally kept me on my toes and busy with something to do and something new to think about on a daily basis. Working with others is the greatest joy you can have in sobriety. Because it isn’t about me, it’s about them. I’ve truly grown this year, in ways I couldn’t have imagined. All because I have done my work.

Now they do their work.

Continuing the story … This post is a two parter. It is Tuesday and mother nature dropped snow on us today. A little worried about people not coming, my sponsor says … “We went to any length to drink, snow or whatever, people will come, don’t fret!”

Our usual group of folks came. We called New Foundland to talk to one of our women who is up there with her new daughter, and I thought that it would be nice for all of us to talk to her, so we did that. Have phone will chat !!!

We covered the second half of Step twelve. There were lots of laughs and giggles, but it was all business.

So what can I say for sobriety, I am in my steps. My sponsees are in their steps. My sponsor is in his steps. We’ve now heard the steps presented three times in the last year. Twice in an intensive weekend, and once at our meeting for twelve weeks.

This journey to where I am today, started some time ago, and only now can I say, I’ve reaped the rewards of really working my sobriety for all its worth. No roller coaster, no drama. Everything is where it should be and all is well in my world.

It was bittersweet because one of my friends, who was sober, when I FIRST got sober, was here tonight. He got stuck in the revolving door for a long time, and now he is back. He’s got six months. And I think about him a lot. Had he stuck and stayed he would be long sober, longer than I am today, had he stayed. But he didn’t.

I did everything I was told to do. I’ve been blessed to be able to maintain the sober schedule I built thirteen years ago. And I did not deviate from that schedule. Ever. I stayed sober. Many of my friends did not.

What did I do right, and what did they do wrong?

We are all suffering alcoholics. Some got better, some didn’t. At least tonight, all in our number are alive, well and sober.

I am very grateful for all that I have.

Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned …