Only Child why no posts for awhile

I have not disappeared off the face of the earth, although sometimes that sounds like a good idea. But I am stubborn and determined, despite being very cranky this winter. But for good reasons – and these reasons are why it has been awhile since I posted here.

My intent is to resume posting – at least every other week and hopefully getting back to weekly postings.

So what has been in my way?

Well, one of the biggies is sporadic or no Internet access – for just over a week late in February. Even my land line went on strike off and on. Combination of old phone wires and old modem and bad luck. I got a new modem and the fibre connection – which is fine with the Internet but I don’t like it with the phone. I have to keep the modem on 24/7 so the phone will work. The 24/7 is okay but not the phone’s dependency.

What’s wrong with this picture? The modem has a battery, but if there is a power failure the battery lasts for only 4 hours. For major power outages that is not acceptable. You might be able to phone the hydro utility, a family member or friend during that time. But if for some reason you have to call the family member or friend or 911 after that and can’t… I’m a senior and need my land line to be an actual land line – not off in cyberspace land. And don’t tell me to get a cell phone – they operate on batteries, so will run out of juice. During the big power outage in southern Ontario in December 2014 (thanks to the ice storm), my landline was my lifeline to my friends and my son. There was a boarder living here then – she had a cell phone and couldn’t use it because it needed recharging.

From another era. Are we too far in the other direction?

Bell Canada smarten up here.

The other biggie is the weather in southern Ontario (and elsewhere -no one has been spared). Too much snow, too cold, mixed precipitation, rain on its own, damaging winds (fortunately the power didn’t go here in Toronto then and I had just had the new Bell fibre system setup and connected two days before). Among other things, I have had to move a dental appointment three times because of weather. It is now on hold until spring, unless it turns into an emergency. Dealing with this weather is and has been horrendous. Below are a couple of shots I took of the outside – at the beginning of one of the big snowstorms.

Above photo – recycling bins waiting to go to the curb. Hah!

 

My backyard patio – where I eat in summer.

The list goes on and on. I swear on one of my pile of mystery books that 95 percent of my problems are not caused by me – they come from what I call “outside” but I have to deal with them. From what I hear from others, I am not alone with this scenario. Many others have been hit with a lot of bad luck since January 1 of this year.

I am a Sagittarius and for 2019 Jupiter is supposed to be my ruling house, meaning lots of good things happening. Well, you astrologers and would-be astrologers, that is bunk and some of us are living proof of it.

Could it be something in the air causing all of this?  Or? (You substitute what you think here).

And what do you think anyway. How is your 2019 so far?

For the record a few good things have happened in my life this year. But the balance of good to bad (or should that be bad to good?) is lopsided. They say that into our life some rain must fall – my emphasis on the some. But we are getting hit with torrents of rain (metaphorically speaking) t seems.

So, my personal way to deal with this? Go after the big trouble-makers/big problem causers and let the rest slide. Connect with the people in my life who really care and I really care about. And

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

I am a writer after all. See my website for more on that.

Like author John Irving once said
“Half my life is an act of revision.”

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Beyond Faith book cover

 

 

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Filed under Computer problems, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Good and Bad Luck, Life Balance, Life demands, Problems

Only Child on Losing a Parent to Cancer

Sharon at 13 with Mom and Dad

When your mother or father is terminally ill and dies when you are still a child, you lose a part of your life, but more importantly you lose a part of yourself. Your mother or your father is no longer there and the hole that was once him or her follows you around like a bad omen.

Especially if you are an only child like me. Yes, I know, I’m a senior now, but that happened to me when I was growing up. Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 58 and I wasn’t quite 10. That was back in the late 1950s when the treatment options for cancer were limited to cut and burn. The link between smoking and cancer was known then, but a lot of it was hidden from public view. Tobacco companies were keeping their mouths shut about it. Here is a much later than 1950s study that covers that issue.

Dad had half a lung removed for the cancer. But that wasn’t the end of it. Two years later cancer spread to his brain and he had to cope with that for four more years. So did Mom and me. I inadvertently found a unique way for Mom and me to do so. But it wasn’t until later years when I was around Dad’s age of death , that I realized what Mom and I were doing back then. What had been foremost in my mind after Dad’s cancer returned was me pulling away from him emotionally because I was afraid he would die. Deep down that was probably something I knew. It scared me and as a pre-teen and teenager that was how I coped. I am not proud of this.

I wrote a personal essay about Dad’s cancer and something Mom and I were doing at the same time after he returned home from his second stay in hospital. The memoir piece was just published in the online magazine The Smart Set which is a publication of Drexel University in Philadelphia. Perhaps what Mom and I were doing did help, maybe even my Dad. We don’t always know or realize these things at the time.

Here is the link to “Don’t Look Down” in The Smart Set Magazine.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Only Child’s Dad when younger

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Filed under 1950s, Albert Langevin, cancer, Death and Dying, Health, Mom and Dad, Piano

Chasing the elusive sleep

Not how Only Child wants to sleep at night

One of my goals for 2019 is to get more sleep at night – more specifically get to bed at a more normal/earlier time than 2 a.m. My problem isn’t waking up and getting up at 8 a.m. – it is getting to bed early enough to get 7 to 8 hours sleep.

But I have identified the gremlins. And yes, I don’t need to fall asleep for 30 minutes watching the news on TV. As part of my hopeful new regime I can do half an hour of that plus 10 minutes of the Weather Network and still get to bed in good time. No, it is the real gremlins behind this that have to be taken to task. So, going through the layers, there is first my health issues and all the extra crap I have to do for them. But, the basic extras would be okay to fit in. It’s the extra extras caused by flare-ups in one or more of those health issues which steal my time. Another time-stealer is the daily evening chores like doing the dishes, etc. (much more etc.). Even they can be reigned in.

IF ONLY I CAN GET RID OF THE HOUSE, COMPUTER PROBLEMS, ETC.  THAT JUST COME AT ME OUT OF NOWHERE.

If I thought or even hoped that 2019 would be any different from 2018 in having to deal with problems “coming from outside” as I call it, I was wrong. I’m referring to problems I don’t cause; problems caused by others, other organizations, etc. But I am the one that has to deal with the aftermath problems. And all this is not helpful to getting to bed at a reasonable time and getting enough sleep.

I’m a Sagittarian and to those astrologers who said because my sign is in Jupiter for 2019, I will have a much better year than 2018, I say “Stop talking through your hat. Take off your damn hat and think. All Sagittrians are not alike.”

Having said that, I am still determined to get my sleep – and not in front of the TV. And woe to anybody or thing that gets in my way.

And that includes health issues over-reaction – no doubt thanks to the stress from the problem

So, I am pursuing one of my other 2019 goals – start meditating. And one of my friends is helping me find resources to get me started. Thank you to her. Meditating may not solve the problem, but it can help me calm down and get my much-needed sleep.

And I just remembered what another friend told me many years ago  and to paraphrase her – Picture in your mind the culprit responsible for your problem(s). But picture them wearing some outlandish outfit – like boxer shorts with well (this next part is my idea) pictures of daggers or a big hand ready to grab them and shove them somewhere. (Well, I do write mystery/suspense so that can get rather dark)..

Well whatever works – as long as it is not sleeping pill prescriptions, large quantities of booze or even cannabis, although I am in favour of the latter for medicinal purposes under the direction of a doctor, but not recreational. So would this constitute medicinal? For more info on the cannabis and its consequences, etc., go to the first episode of my TV show Crime Beat Confidential which I tape every other month at thatchannel.com where I interviewed James Wigmore, a forensic scientist who is an expert on what cannabis is all about, and not from personal experience,

Meantime, here are a couple of links on sleep and stress. Please note: I may not agree with all the information below. There  is much more info online about stress and sleep deprivation but consider the source for helpful info.

Tips to reduce stress and sleep better

Stress and insomnia

And the Mayo Clinic on sleep disorders

Happy zzzzzzzzzs  – at night in your bed.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Life Balance, Life demands, Sleep and Health, Sleep deprivation

New Year New Outlook

Teddy reminding me to slow down

I am one of many who is glad that 2018 is past, deceased, down the drain. It was a very bad year for everybody and for our planet. On my Facebook page, my New Year’s message for all is:

Happy New Year to all my family and friends. May 2019 be your best year yet and the best year yet for our world, especially earth. May we all learn how to slow down before we burn out.

That is what I base my intentions, goals, etc. on. I don’t do resolutions. Instead I do a few lists under headings such as “Want to do/have to do”, “Don’t want to do/have to do”, “Want to do/don’t have to do” and my favourite “Don’t want to do/don’t have to do”. The latter is a bit longer than other years – the first has the longest list, which is good –  it is always better if what you have to do is also what you want to do. What is on my list is for the whole year and I don’t intend to do all at once. But it helps me realize what I have not been doing and what I have been doing too much of. And the focus is on CHANGE.

And no, I’m not going to list the whole she-bang. Just a few highlights.

I have not been able time-wise to do as much reading as I like and enjoy – so that is on the want/have to do list. So is something that has been eating away at my psyche and my health for a few years.

Those of you who follow this blog have probably read my occasional posts where I complain about water getting into my basement sometimes with heavy rainfalls and why it happens. In 2018 a friend offered to pay to get the waterproofing done and so I interviewed five prospective contractors who specialize in waterproofing the basement. But there are two black walnut trees near the house and on my neighbour’s property – trees neither of us planted – the pesky squirrels did it. As digging is required for outside waterproofing and I was concerned about tree roots, I decided I better get in an arborist to look at the tree situation. I kept my next door neighbour up to date on everything.

The arborist came and said the trees had to come down. He was going to charge a  ridiculous fee, plus there is a permit to get, etc. etc. – so  more fees BEFORE the waterproofing could be done. No way did I want my friend paying for trees to come down – she had offered to pay for the waterproofing and I was grateful for that. Anyway, for other reasons, both my next door neighbour and I do not want the trees to come down (shade, etc.) – they have been trimmed in the past by another arborist (who didn’t return my calls to do an assessment).

These trees weren’t big enough to be in the way when the original contractor, one Nigel Applewaite, did the job and did it wrong. He didn’t dig down to the weeping tiles like you are supposed to. I distinctly remember him telling me then that he was digging down four feet (weeping tiles are 5 to 6 feet down at least). Of course, then I didn’t know any better.

The first two years no water got in and then it did – obviously from below where he stopped digging. After he told me to get the drains checked (I did – city workers said they were clear), he ran the hose against the wall in one area to see if any water got in (not from that spot)  and that was it. Never heard from him again.

So I’ve been letting people know not to hire him because of what he didn’t do – including my insurance agent’s manager when her basement flooded for the same reason. “Don’t hire Nigel Applewaite” became my mantra for all.

Well, I’m still suffering thanks to him. So, this year I’m going after him – all legal. I have some options up my sleeve for this.

The rest of my intentions for 2019 are not nasty unless you count dropping so-called friends who betrayed me in 2018. But from that and other experiences I have learned to treasure my true friends and to try to spend more time with them. To that end I am cutting back or deleting some of the unnecessary time-wasters from 2018. Or just saying “NO” to what other people think I should do.

 

I will still be writing (more than in 2018 I hope), doing book promo for my Beyond mystery books, editing clients’ manuscripts and teaching writing workshops. All that will be  covered on my author blog here. But I probably won’t get to this week’s post until tomorrow (Jan. 4, 2019). But posting weekly to both my blogs (as I used to before forces outside me took over it seems), is one of my 2019 intentions

So, happy, prosperous, joyful, productive, peaceful, etc. 2019 to all.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Basement Flooding, Family and Friends, Life demands, New year's resolutions, Only child

Will striking hydro workers actions be the death of us?

Christmas tree with lights – endangered?

LEGISLATION WAS PASSED THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2018 TO BLOCK A STRIKE BY ONTARIO HYDRO WORKERS. READ ABOUT IT HERE

BELOW IS WHAT THE SITUATION WAS BEFORE THE BILL WAS PASSED AND MY COMMENTS ON IT.

Looks like the big Grinch this Christmas and afterwards is the Ontario Power  Workers Union (PWU) who are in a “legal position” (quotation marks mine) to strike since Friday December 14. If the strike goes ahead, these workers plan to shut down Ontario’s hydro power plants starting with the nuclear ones and then moving on to the other plants. Brownouts and blackouts would be a certainty. The nuclear generators take 21 days to completely shut down and the shutdown could begin seven to 10 days after the “legal strike position” day.

That means as early as this Friday December 21. This is scary stuff.

What is wrong with the above?

Everything. Why are hydro workers even allowed to strike? Any utility service should be legislated as essential service. It is for the safety, health and even life of people – you know, us the general public who get stuck unwillingly as the third party in these labour disputes.

This is not an inconvenience strike. People could die. Not just seniors, but all ages. Remember the big blackout  in December 2013 just before Christmas? That was caused by an ice storm so not people caused. Obviously the PWU workers don’t remember it. And they were the heroes then, working so hard to restore power. How the mighty are falling – as the saying goes.

But this strike – if it goes ahead and people die from no heat and no light because of workers’ actions, isn’t this murder? The workers have the intent to shut down the power knowing what it could do. At the very least, criminal negligence causing death. Actions bring on consequences.

But there is some hope from our stick-wielding (figuratively speaking) new Premier of Ontario – Doug Ford. I am not a fan of his, but if he can pull off what he is trying to do (and it is legal), then maybe it will be the one good thing he has done. Mr. Ford has called the Ontario legislature back to business, back early from its Christmas hiatus, and his party is trying to pass back-to-work legislation with the issues between OPG and PUW to be solved by arbitration.

That’s if NDP opposition leader Andrea Horwath doesn’t stop it. She is over-making an effort to do so. But hopefully Ford’s Conservative party will out number her in the vote and hopefully the vote will be done by Thursday. It would also be good if the Conservatives passed legislation for utility strikes to be illegal.

His late brother Rob Ford did this when he was mayor in Toronto – but not for a utility – for Toronto’s public transit system (TTC) workers.

In this day and age, strikes – full scale or otherwise – are not in anyone’s best interest and don’t really solve anything. Both sides suffer but it is us, the third party. the general public. who suffer the most. And we are not even on either side and so not involved until the plug is pulled (pun intended here) with a strike. Negotiations with binding arbitration might have to be the answer – at least for essential services. And more services need to be legislated as essential.

So, I’m keeping toes crossed (can’t type with crossed fingers) that Ford’s legislation gets passed in time this week and the strike and its killing consequences are avoided.

Meantime, you can follow stories on this at various newspapers and TV stations on line (as long as we have power and batteries don’t die on cell phones), such as these. I’m not providing direct story links as the stories will be updated.

If you Google “Ontario Power workers and hydro strike” with or without Doug Ford’s name added you’ll get a list of the stories.

Let’s hope we will all be in the light for Christmas and after.

Cheers (I hope)

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

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Filed under Actions Consequences, Essential Services

Only Child on postal strike and GM closing Oshawa plant

I was 16 and became close to a pen pal (if you are over 50, remember those?) living on the Prairies. We wrote often and after mailing my letter to her I would start looking in my mailbox for her reply. Then the unthinkable to a teenager happened. Our correspondence came to a halt. We didn’t fight and neither of us had stopped writing.

But the Canadian postal service had stopped. No mail delivery because the union and its workers were on strike.

I had never heard of or experienced strikes before. But I learned fast that strikes between employees and management aren’t just between them. There is a third party, an innocent pary maybe you could call them victims – they are called “general public”.

It was my rude welcome to the club. From then on I never was in favour of strikes as a means to settle labour disputes – no matter which side was at fault (and I learned that most of the time there was fault on both sides.)

But not on the third party’s – general public – side.

Yes, I once worked for a government agency and belonged to a union. We weren’t allowed to go on strike because we were considered essential services. But we all got very good raises in pay at contract negotiation time.

Now the federal government has finally passed legislation ordering these postal  strikers back to work.  And their union leader Mike Palecek has the nerve to stick his face in front of a camera and complain that it is not right. Excuse me, but just obey the law. Your strike may have been legal up to now, but now it is time to sort and deliver the mail backlog.

And maybe Mr. Palecek should turn his attention to the real worker problem – not a strike, but a company closure. I’m referring to General Motors closing all of its Oshawa, Ontario, Canada plant by the end of 2019. It will put over 2500 out of work, just from General Motors alone. It will also affect where they took their business – shops, restaurants.

And all these are people. It breaks my heart when something like this happens. This is not disgruntled greedy workers striking for more money and perhaps what they want in working condition improvements. This situation is  no pay, no job. Some of these GM workers have moved their families several times to follow where GM put them, where the jobs were. Now they have nothing, thanks to a parent company decision.

And finding out about this in the Christmas season makes it worse. Even Scrooge will be crying into his Christmas tree.

So Mr.  Palecek – quit complaining, do your job, and let arbitration sort it out. You will have enough to do to sort out the mail – despite online shopping (or maybe because of it) there is still lots of mail waiting to be processed.

Several empty mailboxes awaiting mail delivery

And when you do this, you might also like to pay attention to the GM workers situation. And count your blessings.

Cheers.

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Canada Postal Services, CUPW, Labour Unions and Strikes, Mail Delivery Canada, Unions and Strikes

Banks card security procedures stymie card holder

Pondering the complications of online bank security changes

Both my bank and my credit card company have new security measures for their clients. While I applaud this step, it thumbs down for their procedures to do so. Why? Because they are making it difficult for the avtual card holder to do the changes. I thought these security measures were for our benefit, but if we can’t access our accounts, something is wrong.

Take Scotiabank’s new debit cards. Traditionally, you kept the same debit card, same number for ages (unless the card was stolen, lost, or mangled). I have had the last two happen to my debit card over the years. No problem getting a new card and get it working – including for my online account. And that’s where the problems are now happening. Here’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Last Friday a new card arrived in the mail. No warning ahead of time from Scotiabank – by regular mail or in an online notification at my account. Remember, old debit cards have no expiry date so unlike credit cards you can’t check to see when the new card is expected to arrive. The new cards do have an expiry date, which will help somewhat for the future. But for now I decided yesterday afternoon to go to my bank in person and get all the changes made.

No problem with changing my card number for in-person banking. But the teller couldn’t change my online account because she didn’t have my password. I didn’t either – on me. I don’t carry my passwords around with me. She explained how I could to change it online. I wasn’t happy about the situation and said that I would have problems.

And boy did I – worse than anticipated. I wasted the rest of the afternoon with this. Starting with my laptop I tried to change the card number in my account but each time I tried to log in it kept going back to the old number and flashing ERROR # etc. at the top. I even changed my password. Didn’t work. So I called Scotiabank customer service and got a very patient helpful rep.

First she tried to help me fix it on the laptop. Didn’t work. Then we tried my desktop computer. At first it kept doing the same return to the old card number and wouldn’t let me in. Finally she had me click on something else and got me to the security questions which are necessary for this change. (That didn’t happen on the laptop). Finally we got in. Because computers are linked when I went to my laptop, I got in to my account immediately.

I thanked her profusely for her patience and help and got the Scotiabank phone no. to put in a complaint. I was very clear that the complaint was not against her or the teller but against the card being changed with a changed number  at all without any notice and the setup up for changing it on line (Instructions not in the cover letter with the card from Scotiabank). Again I got a sympathetic bank rep (so far – we’ll see what the result of my complaint brings). Again I was clear that my complaint was not against the teller or the customer service rep. – if anybody, it would be the assholes (pardon my language – I could use stronger language) who initiated this change and decided on how it would be done.

As for the credit card change – that is another bank and so far all I have done is go online to my account. After I enter the password I get this box about all the new security measures and the procedures for doing so. There are points in it to click on for more info. I did this. But I couldn’t see all the information because you couldn’t scroll down the pdf.

So I phoned to get some help. Got through to someone called Sarah right away and complained about the faulty design. She agreed and put me on hold and never came back. I was on hold for over 15 minutes before hanging up. Definitely I will be putting in a complaint about Sarah – if I can get through. I’m still mulling over whether to cancel my card and get another one from another bank….but why should I have to do this?

What do you think of this? Is security getting too complicated for the card holders to get around? Or am I just a luddite?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bank service, Bank service complaints, Banking, Consumer action