Evolution

Interesting fact:

Nintendo started as a trading card company. They released a few board games in the sixties. They also created Mahjong and Twister. All before they came out with a video game. An excellent example of how companies should adapt in order to stay relevant.

On a more personal level:

I have used Windows computers for years and even took a Linux course and played around with different distros, but with Linux, android tablets and smartphones, I was constantly trying to find a way to do something on the android device the way I could do it on Windows.

An interesting twist happened today.

I tried to find a way to do something on my Windows computer, similar to how I can do it on my android tablet.

It reminds me of when Fahrenheit changed to Celsius, I thought it would take me forever (if ever) to make the change mentally. And then one day I realized that I was mentally trying to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius because I understood Celsius better. (And spellcheck just told me that I was even starting to forget how to spell Fahrenheit.) I also remember the time when they introduced litres/100 kms (crap, now I feel old!). The change from mpg (miles per gallon) just kind of happened. Now I can’t even translate mph to litres/100 kms. Or I can’t be bothered. Either way, I’ve adapted.

Speaking of feeling old, we’re NOT going to talk about mimeographs, teletypes, dictaphone, Faulker / Pittman shorthand, or ditto machines, because I haven’t a clue what any of that means! And don’t you dare ask me what they are. God created Google – look it up!

Even as people, we must adapt to a changing society. Or get left behind and some day die out. 

Forgotten.jpg

Obsolete.


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Tears

tearsI cry a lot. I have always cried a lot. I’ve cried for many reasons. When I was a little girl, my teachers made fun of me in school for crying so much. One teacher, at William G. Miller Public School in Scarborough refused to let me go on a school trip to Niagara Falls because I cried so much.

I didn’t have an easy childhood. There was a stigma to being in the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). Neighbour’s children were not allowed to play with me, a teacher at Norman Cook Public School refused to talk to me. I was tainted with the sins of my biological parents. I had been abused and had nightmares. Life scared me and I had trouble fitting in. The loneliness hurt very badly.

So I cried.

My foster-father made me buy my own tissues – as if somehow that would make me reluctant to cry. Finally he tried to understand.

“Why do you cry so much?” he asked me quizzically.

“Because it makes me feel better” I explained. “When I feel sad and alone, or if my feelings are hurt, I cry about it and then I feel better.”

He shook his head in confusion. I knew he couldn’t understand; he couldn’t relate to me. I loved him for trying though.

My crying continued.

In my twenties, I was often told at work that I needed to grow a thicker skin. The only way that would happen was if I stopped feeling though, or stopped caring. I kept crying.

I cried around family too. If my daughter came home from school and told me someone had called her a name or hurt her, I cried. I could almost feel her pain. I took her pain and disappointment on myself; how I wished I could remove her pain in doing so.

Seeing homeless people or abandoned or mistreated animals breaks my heart. I have only to close my eyes and imagine the suffering in the world to feel the pain; warm tears will follow.

In my thirties, a woman named Jacqui told me it didn’t look good to cry at work. She suggested the stairwells. They quickly became my “go to” places. If I thought I was going to start crying, I would suddenly remember something I had “left” somewhere else, and would dash to the stairs to go and get it.

Once, in a meeting during a difference of opinion, someone said to me “Are you going to start crying now?” I realized it takes more than that to make me cry now; first I have to care.

I’m glad I cry. Besides the release, it reminds me that I am alive, that I have a heart, and that I care. I worry about people who never cry. Have they hardened their hearts? Does nothing touch them? Or do they only cry for themselves when they’re alone and nobody can see them?

We cannot fully appreciate the happy times in life until we know what sadness is, so thank God I cry. I love the times when I’m filled with happiness and joy, but when someone makes me cry, they’ve touched my soul. I still have a heart and I can still be hurt. I can still feel the pain when those I love are hurt.

I still cry. Not for myself as often, but for those who are close to me.I cry for the insensitivity of some people. I cry for the future of our world and I cry for  the injustices I see all around me. I cry for you and I cry for me. I cry for all of us.

I’m glad I can still cry.

Memories of Christmas Past

For the first time in many years, I’m home on Christmas with nothing to do, except clean up from the night before since we had our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. I tried to plan something for today. I tried to find a place where I could volunteer to help serve Christmas dinner – at a shelter or church. Getting the vulnerable sector screen done at the police station was not the problem. Most places had a policy in place where volunteers had to be trained and training was scheduled for January. Some places were surprised I was offering and didn’t know how to answer me. Some never answered at all. Emails and voice mails left unanswered.

I don’t remember any Christmases before I went in the CAS at 5 years old. I remember the Christmases afterwards though. My foster mother, Alice, would bake the week before – mincemeat tarts, lemon tarts, butter tarts, and shortbread cookies. Then there would be tortière. On Christmas eve, my father, Art, would drive us around to see all the glorious Christmas lights. We’d joke about the most extravagant ones, how they must work for the hydro company! When we got home, we’d hang our stockings, drink our eggnog, watch a Christmas movie on TV, sing some carols, and then go to bed and try to sleep; excited for the arrival of Santa.

On Christmas morning we’d find our stockings on our beds, to keep us amused until the grownups awoke. Inside were colouring books and crayons, clementine oranges (a real treat back then), jigsaw puzzles and small books to read. When the grownups awoke, we’d have breakfast at the kitchen table; usually pancakes or french toast. Then we’d gather around the Christmas tree to open our gifts. We learned patience and delayed gratification in the process! The gifts were never anything large, usually clothing, books, a jigsaw puzzle, and a toy or two. A handmade cradle for a favourite doll, a stuffed animal (mine was a poodle) that we could cuddle with at night; just little things that showed us we were loved and thought of.

After we got dressed, we’d help my mother in the kitchen with the turkey. We’d chop onions and celery for the stuffing, and prepare the turkey for the oven. Even the phrase “sweet and savory” reminds me of my childhood Christmases. In the afternoon the relatives would start to arrive. They’d bring bottles of wine and boxes of candy, such as chocolate covered cherries and Allsorts licorice. We’d all talk at once, in French and in English and eat until we’d almost burst. I’d pass my lima beans to our dog Rex discretely, and he’d be grateful because someone snuck him food from the table!

Dishes were done in shift work. When the tea towel from drying got too wet to dry anymore, another person with another towel would take over. Clean up went by quickly.

So while I spend an uneventful day today, I’m reflecting on my parents, and how grateful I am for all that they gave me and taught me. I’m grateful for the “normal” childhood, for the values demonstrated, and for the lessons of charity that were their most important gifts to me. I tried for many years to recreate that feeling of Christmas and family in my home. I hope I did. Because it isn’t about the expensive gifts, it’s about family, friends, and above all else, love.

This Christmas, I wish everyone much love in their lives.

Empathy and Elections

Someone I care deeply about but hadn’t seen in many years once declared, “life has been better to me than I deserve”. And he did indeed have a good life. His own law firm, world travel, a condo in Palm  Springs; a fortunate life.

I’ve often thought about that phrase and I recently realized that life has been better to me than I deserve too. I’ve spent my whole life feeling like I’m faking it – you know, “fake it until you make it”, and I know that I came across as heartless and self-centred at times, and at times I really was. I had to fight and even bend the rules at times in order to just survive, to stay alive. That’s been my whole life.

But now, I’m tired of faking it and I’m tired of fighting.

The fact is, I care very deeply. In order to survive though, I’ve had to push my feelings down and act tough. When someone is hurting, it reminds me of my hurt and I’m in pain with them. When someone is sad, it makes me sadder than I already am, and I hate that we’re both so sad.

So, I have a vested interest in helping others. If I can make their life a bit better, I reap the real benefit. People have helped me along the way (intentionally or unintentionally) and I want to pay that forward.

That’s why this election means so much to me. If I was growing up now in what were my circumstances, with a government as uncaring and mean – yes, mean! – as this government, I never would have survived, never mind thrived.

It was a Liberal government who gave me chances. Who closed the orphanages and instituted a good foster home system. Who cared about us. Who gave single mothers accessible child care subsidies so they could go to school or work. Who helped people get ahead. And I want the next generation or two to at least have the same benefits and opportunities that I had. So they can become contributing members of society as well.

That’s not too much to ask.

But that’s not Stephen Harper. And that’s not the Conservatives.

We have been through recessions before. The sky doesn’t fall. The world doesn’t end.  We adjust and move forward. But we don’t lose faith in ourselves, as a people, as a Nation. We don’t stop caring about others. We don’t turn our backs on those less fortunate and deny them opportunities.  We have always survived recessions by investing in our infrastructure and investing in our people. And we can do it again. And survive it again. And pull together in unity as a Country.

It really is a time for change – a change back to who we really are, so we can ALL benefit.

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Things Change

My friends tell me I’m focusing too much on politics lately, so I thought I’d mix it up a bit. Since I just sold our 1993 Daytona and I have my 2008 Nissan Sentra for sale, I thought I’d take a trip down automobile memory lane.

My first car was a 1972 Datsun 510 and there is a story behind how I came to buy it, and how I became a driver.

I actually don’t remember where I was living at the time, or even where I was working. I must have been working though, since I ended up with car payments. In my recollection (let’s face it – that was a long time ago), I woke up one day and decided I wanted… no, I NEEDED a car. So I looked in the newspaper and saw a couple of cars for sale that I thought were in my price rangedatsun and I went to visit Islington Datsun. My first car buying experience was a bit surreal. I told the sales person what I could afford and he told me he had the perfect car for me. I actually bought it sight unseen. It was a yellow four door car with a vinyl roof and an A/C unit that had been installed (so I was told) by the Radman in B.C. It was cute.

Did I mention I didn’t have a driver’s license? I’m so glad they check those things these days. That’s real progress!

The first time I ever drove in my life, was the day I drove that car home. I knew the theory of driving (thanks Dad!) so all I had to do was put it into practice. I did end up getting what was called a Learner’s permit (aka 365) and went for a road test. I was kind of shocked when I failed the test the first time though – after all, I’d already been driving for months! I was experienced!

I could devote almost the length of a book to that car, my adventures in it, my misadventures in it, and how I almost quit driving for good because of it, but for now, I want to talk about my cars in general.

My father was not a fan of my Datsun. He was a GM guy, born and bred. He never could wrap his head around why I bought a Japanese car and he doubted it was even suitable for our Canadian climate – did they even have snow in Japan?

After I got married, my Dad sold us his car, a 1977 Malibu – the famous Iraqi tMalibuaxi. That Malibu took us to Florida and back, up to northern Ontario, and all over the New England states. Despite not having A/C, it was a very well made car.

Our next car was a 1982 Pontiac J2000 (manual transj-2000mission) that my cousin sold me. I’ve heard that those cars were the prototypes for the Sunbirds. Another excellent car – it just didn’t want to die.

While my father was a Chevrolet guy, I found I preferred Pontiacs. My husband was a Chrysler/Dodge guy but I’m only going to talk about MY cars.

My next car was a 1987 Pontiac Bonneville – what luxury! A plush interior, wood-grain dash, V6 engine, A/C, power windows, cruise control, etc. I bonnevilleloved it. I loved it through 2 transmissions and 2 A/C units. The power windows stopped working well, much to the annoyance of people waiting behind me going into the underground parking at work.

The Bonneville had given me so many prsaturnoblems (and cost me so much money) that the next car I purchased was a 1995 Saturn SL1 – another manual transmission car. No A/C, and no power windows. Basic transportation became my main priority. I purchased it two years old from Richmond Hill Honda on Yonge Street and drove it for many years. I sold it for $2000 less than when I purchased it.

Then my father stopped driving, and he gave me his 1998 Caprice Classic. It was a very comfortable car, but very large. He had hardly ever driven it and the mileage was quite low, but that actually isn’t a very good thing. The capriceproblems I had with it had to do with the seals and stuff like that, the type of things that happen to cars that aren’t driven much. It was rear wheel drive and built like a tank. The first time I had to put gas in it, I felt like I might need a second mortgage on my house to afford it!

The first “brand new” vehicle I had ever purchased was a 2002 Pontiac Montana minivan from Slessor Motors in Newmarket. It was hard to believe that it ended up being worse than the Bonneville. I loved that minivan – the ergonomics were fantastic, the fuel consumption decent, the engine design? not so much. Around 100,000 kms, montanathe cylinder heads cracked (both of them) and that caused a problem with coolant. I don’t understand the whole thing, but it involved the intake manifold gasket, cost $3,000 to repair and was part of a class action lawsuit against GM.

cateraI must be a slow learner because after I sold the Montana, I purchased a 2001 Cadillac Catera from Broadway Motors – which I quickly came to realize was just a prettier piece of crap sold by a slimy used car salesman. Within just a few months, the heating module needed replacing, followed by the module for the high beam lights, each of which was a few thousand dollars to replace. On top of needing premium gas, it then started burning oil. I purchased it for $10,000 and was only able to get $3000 on a trade in about 6 months later. What an expensive lesson.

The trade in was for my 2nd “brand new” car – a 2008 Nissan Sentra. It’s sentraa car I still own (although I just listed it for sale). For those that don’t know – Nissan is actually Datsun. It seemed I had come full circle (sorry Dad!), and my Sentra was the very best car I’ve ever owned. It had all the features I needed and wanted, and it never, ever broke down or left me stranded. Whoever buys this car is definitely getting a gem. Great fuel mileage, and still warranty left on the CVT transmission.

So, what have all my cars taught me? They’ve taught me that things change. When I bought my first car, GM was quality and the Japanese imports were the cheap cars that students bought. Isn’t it funny how that got turned around? It reminds me of political parties. The Conservatives are kind of like GM; once they were a decent party, but things change. And the Liberals are acting more like NDP in this election.

So the lesson here is don’t make your decisions based on historical experiences. You need to look at each party (like each car manufacturer) to see what they’re like today and try to figure out if you think they’re going to be reliable or if eventually, they’ll let you down and disappoint you.

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