Category: blogging


My wife is looking for a simple laptop so she does not have to share my desktop with me anymore. As she puts it and I understand, she wants a computer she can call her own. Nothing fancy, just a simple, portable unit that will allow he to check her emails and listen to her music and watch the occasional movie from the comfort of her chase.

Today we received the newest, Visions Electronic flyer, in the mail, well that got her excited when she saw the sweet deals Visions was offering…. Netbooks starting at the sale price of $198.00 and 17.3” Acer laptops for only $498.00, plus tax… Sweet deals with the savings of $150.00 off the regular price. Sweet that is until we read the fine print. Not your high-end systems but they are just what she needs and in the price range, she desires to spend.

Yes, at those prices you knew there had to be a catch, right! There was, the deal is you get a Netbook or Laptop at the advertised price, IF you subscribe for a 2 to 3 year contract with a TELUS internet connection of only $40.00 or more per month.

If you do not have internet service already then perhaps it would be a great deal, but what are the chances of that.

As it stands the $150.00 savings on the advertised Netbooks and Laptops becomes a $960.00 (plus tax and installation fees) extra on the advertised price, which is not such a great savings after all.

The moral is, not everything you see in a Visions Flyer, or any flyer for that matter, is always what it seems. Read the fine print and do your homework before you buy. As the old saying goes, “If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is!” In this case it, as I see it is just a well-defined marketing ploy to sway the wary buyer into purchasing an item they are better off paying the full price for, or better still shop around at the other dealers, we are and there are and to date I am finding far better deals.

Visions states, “Visions, Your Best Price!” in this case, they are anything but, as I see it!

Advertisements

Life is often what we make it, for many there is no choice as circumstances dictate otherwise through no fault of their own. I was honoured to have met an awe-inspiring man who is using his own good fortune and talents to assist those who do not have the power to choose as so many of us in developed nations enjoy, his name, ‘Just Another Guy’; Jag for short and this is his story.

Jag, as you have already realized is a Pseudonym and he was willing to share some personal insight into his life as a member of the Canadian branch of an organization called Doctor’s Without Boarders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF for short), with some provisions.

To be honest, while I have known Jag for some time I was not aware of his affiliation with MSF and it was by pure accident I found out, via another source. Jag is one of those rare individuals that do good deeds because they care as opposed to doing it for public recognition and glory.

My inquisitive juices flowing I had approached him with my limited information and explained that I desired to interview him for an article and why. After listening to my proposition, and after some deep thought and bewilderment on his part he finally agreed. He did question me as to how I found out about his alternate lifestyle in the first place but as I had agreed with the individual who had told me, I had to decline to divulge my source to which he understood when I explained why. (True to my word to my original sources I did not divulge to Jag, or anyone else, how I found out about his work with MSF and have not to this day)

I would like to point out that as previously noted; Jag authorized me to use the details written in this article with the stipulation his (Jag’s) real name, and any physical description that might help to identify him, was not published for personal and security reasons.
I had limited time to interview and glean what I felt was the most beneficial information possible, as Jag, being the humanitarian I had come to know and respect was already preparing for a new mission, Jag was heading to Haiti. Following are the brief questions I had time to ask and obtain his answers in return.

Question: I recall you were taking a sabbatical if you will after your stint in the Sudan. What was it like there and what caused you to want to choose not to go back into Africa at this time if you will. I recall you mentioned I do believe the Sudan. My question is, “Was your sabbatical based on what you experienced in the Sudan?”

Jag: “I returned from Sudan a bit more than a year ago. It was an immensely challenging mission. I lost 40 lbs in 5 months, I had high blood pressure when I got back, I was stressed. It was an interesting project, with interesting people. I accepted a mission that I was quite ready for. I needed more experience. However, I did a good job, I kept things running despite serious obstacles. I’m not too comfortable talking about some of the things that happened out there on a forum as expansive as the internet, so I’m going to remain a bit vague here.”

There was an option for me to go to a different country instead of Haiti, back in Africa. I have no hesitation to return to Africa. I love Africa; it holds a pull that I can’t really describe. Once you go, you’ll know what I mean. There is so much hope there, so much intensity, so much love and in the face of adversities like conflict, serious diseases, political instability and ethnic tensions. Yet, it’s a place of inspiration. I can’t describe it with justice.

I chose Haiti over the project in Africa this time because it is more in line with the direction that I wish to follow. I’ve worked in conflict zones and with malnutrition projects, both heavy components of MSF’s work. One of the other sides of MSF is disaster response. Unfortunately, for Haiti, less than a year after a devastating hurricane another crippling blow came in the form of the January earthquake. I was not able to respond with the initial emergency due to commitments here in Vancouver, and was in constant communication to respond in March.”

Question: I understand you are heading to Haiti to help build a hospital, which I find to be very commendable. My question is what part will you play in the construction of the hospital and would you as part of your contract be available if needed to perform other duties to assist the Haitians in their recovery from the quake?

Jag: “The position I’m assuming in Haiti is the construction logistician for a new hospital in Port-au-Prince. I’m not really sure what to expect. I usually just hit the ground running, and do what is needed, when it’s needed. Technically speaking, a construction log tends to oversee the construction, assure that it’s built to specifications and to train the national staff that will be doing the physical construction. A lot of working with MSF is managing and delegating. It tends to be to the advantage of all parties to allow/enable the national staff to take as much responsibility as possible. I’m all for promoting the independence and self-sustainability of those that I aim to aid.”

Question: One puzzling question that keeps coming to mind and that is how did you become involved with, ‘Doctors Without Borders (MSF)’, and why?

Jag: “Three years ago while working at an engineering firm based out of North Vancouver I was on a field project on Vancouver Island. On weekends, I would head to either Tofino or another secret spot to surf. One particular weekend, heading back from a surf trip I picked up a hitchhiker that needed a ride to the ferries that would take her back to Vancouver.

She had previously worked with WarChild International, another humanitarian aid agency. We got to talking, and I expressed that I was feeling like I was capable than I was being pushed in my present capacity, that I was looking to do something that would put all of my technical and engineering skills to use. I wanted to contribute to this world that has been so kind to me. Reciprocation perhaps.

When she said that I’d have my metal tested working with Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF (or Doctors Without Borders), I questioned her listening skills, I after all was/am not in any way medically trained. She suggested I take a look at MSF’s website and that the position of Logistician would suit me well.

Three months later, I was on a flight to Bonn in Germany for my pre-departure training. The rest is history.”

Question: You mentioned that you are a paid volunteer and the position allows you to save some money. That raises the following question: Does your contractual agreement provide, besides what sounds like a small monetary pay, food and lodging or do you have to cover those expenses yourself including travel expenses?

Jag: “MSF covers transport to and from projects, as well as a per diem in the field that tends to cover most personal needs. Lodging is also provided, while food costs are generally subtracted from the allotted per diem. A small financial stipend is provided to help cover costs/bills at home. But then doing this work isn’t about the money.”

Question: What is your position or qualifications in respect to your services that you provide? By that I mean, what services do they hire you to perform and what are your qualifications?

Jag: “My position varies based on the project. My next posting in Haiti I will be a construction logistician. But initially I was “hired” to be an all-round logistician. Essentially a “Jack of all trades” a logistician is likened to the spine of a vertebrate, you don’t see us, you don’t hear us, but we’re always working to make sure that the project maintains is operational capacity. That means being responsible for everything from vehicle mechanics, IT, communications, electricity, sanitation, water to security and supply.

We aren’t physically saving lives, we’re just there to make sure that the medical staff can.

As for my skills/qualifications, I grew up working on my parents farms and on a neighbours large dairy farm, this is where I learnt or developed skills in mechanics, electrical wiring, plumbing, welding, construction and the overall ingenuity to figure out how to fix or make things happen given what we had at our disposal.

In high school, I figured out that I wouldn’t play professional sports, and had to figure out a field that suited me. It turned out that Civil Engineering was the fit at that time, so I went to McGill and graduated with a Bachelor in Civil Engineering. A few years later, combining my technical skills with an education, and I suppose MSF saw a suitable candidate.”

Question: Any information about past contracts and what you see for the future greatly appreciated, as I know you are pressed for time.

Jag: “I’ve worked previously in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in the semi-autonomous state of South Sudan. I’ll see if I can come up with anything short and sweet for this question in the next couple of days… I’m not 100% sure I’ll have time to do so though.”

Jag was not able to contribute more as he had hoped but what he did share enabled me to see a real man who has found his own inner peace as he puts others ahead of both himself and monetary wealth. We have agreed to stay in touch and I for one will look forward to hearing from him as his time allows.

I was able to later access Jag’s personal blog, where he writes notations and updates for family and close friends. Even here, he is ever the humble self-sacrificing individual so many have come to love and respect.

Jag writes in his own words: “Haiti happened. MSF called, we talked, I wanted to be here for the Olympics, the Olympic people called, they wanted a volunteer driver for the Opening and Closing ceremonies, and parts in-between, called MSF, we talked, about me going to help rebuild post emergency, for probably a year, building a hospital or three, likely in March, pretty stoked, but I’m leaving again, settling down, placing roots once again back-burned, not dating anyone once more.”

In earlier times, he writes, “I wish I could paint this picture with words. Even if most of you might not know what plastic sheeting and shadow nets are, I think you can appreciate it based on what follows.

But imagine parched earth, giant two-inch eggshell pattern cracks in the dirt as far as an eye can see. Think of how a shattered windshield would look to an ant then magnify it to our abilities at perception and you’ll have an idea what I am talking, about well aside from the colour, that is.

Shadow net is exactly what it says, nets tied to poles or trees (if you can find one) that are about 3-5m off the ground, erected to give shadow, to protect us from the unrelenting and scorching sun. Plastic sheeting is essentially just a plastic, rip resistant tarpaulin on a 250m roll. Our compound walls and office roof are made from plastic sheeting and sticks, not the best for any kind of protection but it keeps folks from seeing inside…

Think of relying on satellite for all communication to the capital and Geneva HQ. Think of talking on a sat phone, knowing you can’t walk and talk, or be inside. Or imagine the frustration when you can’t get through and you need to, or worse when you do and the call drops and you have to repeat the process all over again. Try to dream of living and having your storage in tents, for months. Giant white canvas tents, and even with shadow nets the inside can and usually does reach 50 C.

For me, I love to be in the field, even with the heat, the plastic sheeting and shadow nets. The poor conditions and not exactly gourmet food, the struggle and challenges of it all are the fun parts. The challenges of management that are my day-to-day struggle in Juba are less fun. But to be fair, my attitude has changed. I am more positive, I have to be, I couldn’t last the three-four months here if I didn’t.

Think of all of this, and perhaps you might get to experience a bit of Africa and not have to leave the comfort of home. Ahhh, some days I wish I had done that.”

“ – Giving blood to help the Medics save an infants life, twice. I already put a post on this, so I won’t elaborate, other than to say that the second time is just as special.”

Another time Jag writes, “ – Watching a cesarean. Those who know me well know that I am fairly squeamish. So why would I subject myself to watching such an intense surgery? I feel as though I have to confront my fears so that they no longer remain a fear. Did it work? Hells no. This was real fear, I starting sweating that awful cold sticky sweat, my mouth dryed up, I couldn’t breath, all I wanted to do was rip off the face-mask as it was seriously suffocating me, I was too hot, I got dizzy, there was a period of at least two minutes where my eyes were open and yet I saw nothing. I sought solace in the cool of the concrete wall. Cut, cut, stretch, stretch, pull, pull, snip, snip, sew back up and sew back up. 25 minutes later, she was already in the process of recovery, the baby crying and me whimpering. In all fairness it was by far one of the coolest things I have ever seen. I know now though that if someday I find me a wife, and she needs a cesarean, I know which end of the operating gurney I will stay at. Thank you Dr. Claudine and Dr. Claude, I will never ever forget that experience.”

” – Seeing a baby in an incubator, I think that two of my fingers and my thumb would have had the same mass. Without MSF this baby would never make it.”

(There was more, so much more, but now you have some insight into why I feel honoured to have met Jag and why I look forward to hearing from him again when time permits him to do so. I may not have his vitality and youth but his inspiration is contagious just the same, which made it an honour to be able to tell his story abet as brief as it is)

I had both heard and read about Doctor’s Without Boarders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and some of the services they provided but had not really given it much further thought until I met Jag and then I started to recall all the good things I had heard and read. Unlike the Red Cross, which, based on the horror stories of Red Cross corruption from my family and Uncles who served in WW2, still leave a bad taste in my mouth. According to other, present day sources, the Red Crosses corporate attitude of for profit has not improved and is only preceded by the highly paid United Nations staff/contractors.

MSF is the only one, based on my research, that presently leaves me with a good feeling about their services, especially after meeting Jag who gave me such great insight into the workings of MSF, or at least as much as he was able to tell me without breaking any obligations he was sworn not to divulge for safety reasons. As Jag stated, unlike the other groups, MSF will do whatever it takes, often at great risk to get to where they are needed, be it by Plane, SUV, Donkey or even Walking… The people they are there to help come first against all odds.

From my personal observations and research of Jag the man, I found rare qualities that most of us in our daily personal quests are devoid of as we seek personal riches without any thought of the welfare of our less fortunate fellow beings. Jag it seems, is a man who resoundingly puts others ahead of himself and while one day desiring to find a mate and settle down to a home and family of his own, continues in the meanwhile on his present course of putting others first ahead of himself and any monetary gain.

MSF field news… (Dated March 12, 2010) “Currently, MSF has 348 international staff in Haiti working closely with over 3,000 Haitian staff. With the expansion of services, the 26 MSF hospitals and health centres can accommodate 1,346 inpatients. In the last two months, MSF teams have performed more than 3,700 surgeries, provided psychological counselling to more than 22,000 people, and treated 54,789 patients….“

MSF, the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Canadian connection
“The recent Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) comes as something of a shock…” “it is a shock not only because the media spotlight that is focused on Nobel Peace Prize recipients shines so brightly, but also because such “official” recognition is unfamiliar and, perhaps, a little uncomfortable to MSF volunteers.” …Michael Schull, MD. Schull served as president of MSF Canada for five-(5) years.

MSF was born in the early 1970s out of the exasperation of a group of French doctors who worked in desperate conditions in the Biafra War (1967-1970). “They were determined to create a movement to deliver independent humanitarian aid wherever it was needed, and one that would speak out about the plight of the victims it helped.”

DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS SPOTLIGHT SUDAN
“A violent attack in Jonglei State, Southern Sudan, at the end of August resulted in the reported deaths of 42 people. MSF is mobilizing resources to help victims of the attack, which injured more than 60 and displaced up to 24,000.”

In conclusion I would like to thank Jag, for allowing me to get to know the real him as a person and for taking the time to answer my questions and allowing me insight into MSF from an insider’s view. I also want to thank not only Jag, but also all the men and women of MSF for their unending dedication and hard work those for the less fortunate.

While awaiting Jags approval on the final draft of this article I received a message from Jag that the mission to Haiti was canceled due the kidnapping of two Swiss nurses who work for MSF. Sad news for the people of Haiti who really need the help but the good news is they, the nurses, were released unharmed and without having to pay a ransom.

Hello Al,

“I am not going to Haiti. Quite a few non-essential staff were sent home, and a few people like me are no longer going. The two Swiss nurses were returned safely and the ransom was not paid. MSF is in a process of determining their next steps in that country. They/we do not respond well to kidnapping. On the whole, it’s difficult not to feel disheartened when such seemingly selfish incidents occur.

The same day that I was informed that my project in Port au Prince was scrapped I was offered the same position as previously back in Africa, AND, the engineering company that I worked at before MSF just happened to let me know that they had a position for me in (blank as requested) if I was interested. So…I’m going to (blank as requested) tomorrow to have lunch with the guys and see if we’re still a good fit.

It looks like I might be putting up the traveling hat for a while, putting my foot back in the door of the engineering world, and perhaps most importantly creating a bit of congruency back into my life. I’ll keep you posted…”

Jag…

Haiti appeal… “We are not currently accepting donations specifically for Haiti on our website. You can still donate to our emergency medical work around the world through our general fund using the links…” Click here for details.

MVT, a Double Edge Sword

MVT CanadaAs I follow the ongoing saga of MTV Canada vs. its employees, I am reminiscent of the biblical story of David and Goliath, the employees in this case being David.

I first became enamoured with the dispute between MTV Canada (an American firm) and its Canadian employees when I read what I consider a very biased article by Harvey Enchin of the Vancouver Sun entitled, “HandyDart workers have a good offer on the table. They should take it

A good news story should have balance in its reporting, something Enchin seems to have missed in this instance as he espoused the values of the company and the supposed negativity of the Union without offering one iota of detail from an employee’s perspective.

I wanted to know more, with that in mind I decided to do my own research, by approaching the employees of MVT Canada for their side of this seemingly convoluted story. Based on the nature of the situation the names of those who were willing to speak have been changed out of respect of their current situation.

The first individual we will call Sarah. Sarah is an employee and a client of MVT Canada or as we know it, Handy Dart.
Sarah had put her thoughts to paper and presented them to me. Based on the content I felt impelled to present the entire letter as follows:
…………………………………………………………………………

“I have 2 sides to my opinion about how MVT is running the company. I am a driver who has been off on Long Term Disability for 11 months following a motorcycle accident.

When I got hit, I didn’t realize I would now be a HandyDART client as well as an employee. I was confident that I would have a good experience as a client, because as a driver, I knew how hard we all worked at getting people to their destinations….safely, congenially and on time.

When MVT came into the picture, I was being optimistic. They said that they wouldn’t change anything about the company. They said that the customers would benefit because there would be more opportunity to call for bookings 7 days in advance. They said that there would be more buses on the road and more employees to handle the increase in ridership.

They lied.

The week that MVT took over, I noticed a difference. A small one, but a difference. My rides were late outside of the window. I thought surely this was just a problem due to the fact that they’re just getting organized. I optimistically gave them a month to sort out their problems.

It only got worse.

I was starting to hear from the drivers that they time they were given to pick me up was NOT the time I was given over the phone from the booking agents. Who, I might add, seemed increasingly more confused about the city of Vancouver. I thought this too was odd. That they had hired new people, but people who had absolutely no idea how long it takes to get from one place to another because they had no clue how far apart each destination was and they didn’t have a clue about where construction was.

I started being late for my appointments, so I started to book my HandyDART earlier and earlier to compensate for the problems I was having. This still didn’t make a difference, because on 3 occasions they were so late that I was waiting up to an hour and a half.

Once, I waited an hour and a half for a ride only to find out that dispatch had given my ride to someone who was on their break. They actually assumed he would cut his break short to come and get me. Fortunately, he took his break and took care of himself, but unfortunately for me, I got the brunt of it.

They gave it to him when my window had ended. That was when his break had just begun. So…he had to finish his break, then travel to get me. Hour and a half sitting on the curb of the street with no back support amongst decades of ages of bubblegum and cigarette butts. By the time they came, I was in so much pain I had to call my partner to drive all the way to the heights of North Vancouver to come and get me from my friends BBQ because my time was now cut short. Not only because of the fact that my ride to come and pick me up would be there within half an hour, but I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even take the HandyDART ride home. I needed our vehicle with a reclining seat and had tears all the way home.

Where was my independence? Gone.

Another time, I waited in the rain for a HandyDART who was late outside my window and the lovely dispatch said, “Well it’s only 5 minutes over schedule.”

Sure…5 minutes…when you’ve already waited 30 minutes in the rain again in a seat which is damaging your already injured neck and back…35 mintues is a long time.

Needless to say, I called after 15 minutes to say again, where’s my ride? “Oh they’re right around the corner” was the response. Had to wait almost another 15 minutes from there and when I called to find out just what was going on, and why this keeps happening the dispatch told me that there just wasn’t enough buses and that booking agents are told to over book the rides.

In other words, clients stopped mattering. Money took the forefront for MVT.

My very last ride before the strike, which happened to be my very last ride as a client, was pure hell.

I waited my half our as per usual. No ride. I called. No answer for 30 minutes. So, now I’ve been waiting an hour. But to add insult to injury, I had no minutes on my phone, so those 30 minutes at $1/minute cost me $30. $30 out of pocket just to find out where my ride was.

When I finally got through, they told me, “Well we sent you a cab.” Swell. So I’ve been waiting for a HandyDART, cabs at my physio are lined up sometimes 6 at a time, and contrary to what the company believes, the cab drivers DO NOT get out to tell you they are there for you. They told HandyDART I was a ‘no show’. Right…I was sitting right in the doorway you knuckle draggers.

So, they sent ‘another cab’. By this point, my sugar levels had dropped and I was due for my lunch. I brought a snack that I ate after my physio as per usual while waiting for my ride and this usually lasts for me to get home to have a proper lunch. But not this time. I was at this point having to wait an hour and 15 with no lunch.

Cabs were lined up and of course, none of them came to tell me they were here for me. So I walked all the way over in the rain, went from cab to cab and asked if they were there to pick me up. They all shake their heads no, one at a time.

I really couldn’t afford to call dispatch again, so I asked to use my physiotherapist’s phone. They were so unhappy that I was still waiting they obliged.

I find out now at an hour and a half that they called me a ‘no show’ again. Now I’m shaking from sugar drop, my back and neck are so tense I can barely walk and finally…finally…the manager at dispatch gets on the phone and tells me cab number 116 will be there to pick me up.

Hour and a half.

When I was driving for HandyDART run by Pacific Transit Co-operative, this would never have happened. The wonderful dispatch would have taken matters into their own hands and taken care of business right when it happened.

They can’t do that now because MVT is breathing down their necks not allowing them to take care of the clients.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a bus and the driver has had more than one addition added to the list and they just look at me with stress saying, “Well, you might be late. They’ve given me a ride that is from the other direction”. These additions given by a dispatch that I’ve worked with in the past whom would never under any circumstances make you late because they cared about you and the client.

Something else I found as a client, so many times I’ve heard, “I haven’t even had my coffee break”, and they’re more than half way through the shift.

Driving is a stressful enough job without the added pressures of too many rides put in to their day causing them to miss breaks or just be under so much pressure to try to keep up with the demand that they can’t do their job safely.

As a client, I’ve seen the quality of HandyDART go down the tubes. As a driver, I’ve seen my co-workers under so much stress that I worry for the safety of the passengers they’re transporting.

MVT is only here for one thing. Money. Not people. Not clients, not drivers, not improvement of independence in a person with disabilities’ life.

I’m pretty sure a Canadian company would have more compassion for their employees and their clients. U.S. companies are used to treating people like dirt and U.S. people are used to taking it. Canadians will not. We know what we deserve and this is not it. The fight is on and there is so much support for the workers of HandyDART that I know we will win the fight for humane treatment. Not to mention our pensions, benefits, full time hours and dignity.”

…………………………………………………………………………

As was reported in the news HandyDart had issued a 72-hour strike notice and as pointed out by Enchin (of the Vancouver Sun) they (HandyDart employees) went on strike that Monday. “Since Monday, HandyDart drivers and other employees have been on strike… “

He goes on to write in his column, “Their job action has left thousands of our most vulnerable citizens at risk, alone and housebound.” What he fails to mention or neglected to find to research for his article is that according to a second HandyDart employee whom I interviewed, was the pre-empted work stoppage by MVT itself on the Sunday, one day prior to the strike taking place.

As Delmar (the name has been changed) stated, “On that Sunday, (one day before the strike was to begin) without notice to staff or clientele, cleared the booking board of ALL appointments except essential services. Unionized office staff and drivers were not informed of the MVT cancellation of service for HandyDart customers until they (the employees) arrived for work as scheduled.
According to Delmar, the problems at HandyDart started shortly after MVT took over the HandyDart service when it staff started to receive bills for January and February 2009 in their mail for Medical benefits that had previously been paid by the company as part of their benefits package.

Delmar states that once the union approached the company about the situation they were readily assured that the problem would be resolved. However, he continues this was not to be the case as the billings continued to arrive asking for payment.
It was then that Delmar decided to take matters into his own hand and contact the Ministry of Health. The customer service agent informed him that MTV Canada had not applied for the medical plan it stated it was providing its employees, until then he was responsible for paying for the medical plan himself until MVT applied to take over.

“It was not until”, Delmar stated, “I took my findings to the Human Resources Department at MVT that the company applied to provide the promised medical plan for its employees.”

“Others areas of contention we have with the MVT take over, Delmar continued, ‘was with our company pension plan. As of January 1, 2009 no money was being withheld for our long standing Registered Savings Plan.” “MVT”, he commented, “had decided when it took over the Handy Dart contract that it did not want to apply to continue the pension plan as per the contract that was in place prior to the takeover.”

“They later,” he continued,” applied for the pension plan and were denied because they (MVT) only wanted a temporary status.” “As of September 1, 2009, the company started deducting money from the employees’ paychecks for their Municipal Pension Plan. `But as we were informed,” he commented, “it was not going into the pre-existing RSP but rather the money was being held by the company for a future pension plan yet to be determined.“ “To date“, he exclaimed, “ we do not know where our money is!“

You can view other areas of contention between MVT C Canada and its employees here. “HandyDART info`… news & views“

MV Public Transportation
“ Thinking of WORKING for MV Transportation? Then please read this before doing so!… The “Owners “…and Jon Monson” didn’t want to hear about their “Problem Child” Mr. Schell… How about the WRONG man for the job, especially one with ice water in his veins and a distain for his employees?“

It should be noted that Mr. Schell now manages MVT Canada.

African immigrants sue transportation firm, alleging bias [USA]
“Nine East African immigrants filed a lawsuit…against MV Transportation…alleging discrimination based on nationality and religion…The lawsuit…alleges that the plaintiffs faced “severe and pervasive harassment and other discrimination…” The complaint is chiefly against one manager…who allegedly told the plaintiffs they had no rights as immigrants and that they were earning too much money“

In respect to the latter Delmar commented that MTV Canada informed office staff that they were to have NO personal items on their desk, including family photos. Many staff have placed Canadian Flags on their desks in protest. To date the company has neither rescinded the memo nor forced anyone to remove the flags.

HandyDart from a user’s, and a driver’s, perspective
“HandyDart saves the government money and should not be considered a profit-making situation for a private firm. Drivers are entitled to make a fair living wage….“

HandyDart from a user’s, and a driver’s, perspective cont:
“ If the union membership votes to continue the strike, perhaps the LRB could be persuaded to revise what it considers essential so that more buses could be back in service immediately.”

Conclusion:

Personally, I am not a big union fan, as I believe in most cases they have become as corrupt and self-absorbed as the employers they once challenged on behalf of the working class; however, in many cases they are still provide some security for the employee. I say this because I see companies such as MVT and others like them as profit driven mercenaries who will stop at nothing in their quest to line their corporate pockets.

It is natural for every company, big or small to need to turn a profit to be successful, but they must also remember a company is only as successful as the people who work hard to help make it a success, from the CEO down to the labourers.
I do believe in researching my topics to the best of my ability before commenting to ensure I am as unbiased as possible, which sadly was not the case of Harvey Enchin. Harvey`s piece about the MVT conflict resounded of a one sided hypocrisy reminiscent of an individual who has taken a bribe to use his powers as a reporter in an attempt to sway his readers into thinking MVT was an innocent party in the present demise of the HandyDart ridership.

Unlike Enchin I am as opposed to what MVT Canada really is, a for profit company attempting to circumvent Canadian Labour standards at the cost of both its employees and its clientele. Does this situation now enamour me to the Unions, no, it just makes me less sympathetic towards MVT whose sole agenda is to add to its ever-increasing corporate coffers at the expense of the Canadian working class and elderly who rely on the HandyDart system and the benefits it is supposed to provide.

“O` Canada!”

CancelAd's_LogoAre you willing to pay to Cancel Ad’s while surfing the internet? Profy.com thinks you may and have come up with that they perceive as the solution for both web users and marketers alike.

Presenting CancelAds, the brainchild of Svetlana Gladkova and developed by her business partner, Marcus Reimold, a German internet entrepreneur and owner of socialoyster.com and jigtweets.com.

CancelAd’s was designed to allow you, the end-user, to enjoy ad-free surfing on web sites and blogs that are part of the CancelAd’s program. For a small subscription fee per web site or blog, you can not only enjoy viewing the member site free of ads, but also have access to information non-members will not.
Personally, when Svetlana first informed me about the service I was standoffish. Being a member of the older generation I immediately perceived CancelAd’s as a frivolous attempt at generating revenue for a service that was, well, pointless. I mean, I use, Customize Google, Adblock Plus add-ons for Firefox, which serves my needs quite well along with my RSS feed reader and TinyRead.

However, as Svetlana pointed out during our correspondence in respect to CancelAd’s, “There is a difference between simple ad blocking by a plug-in for Firefox and CancelAds”, she notes, “We offer web surfers the option to avoid ads, where online publishers (bloggers like yourself or myself) still make money.” She continues by saying, “At the same time when a usual ad blocking tool is used, the publisher loses money on lost ad impressions – so it is an approach to fair ad blocking, not competition to the existing tools.”

After reading her correspondence and the complete article and doing some deep soul searching I realized I was not giving the program or the idea a fair evaluation and decided to do some personal research before making my final judgement. I wanted to ensure I was giving CancelAd’s an honest chance. With details in hand I decided to ask some members of the younger generation from age 15 to 36 of varied levels of internet usage and I admit I was surprised in the unanimous vote of both interest and appeal such a service actually has. It seems, after discussing the program with others of my age group that the older generation has a developed a higher level of patience when dealing with online spam/advertising.

Advertising is a way of life, like it or not. As a business, it is a necessity in an attempt to generate potential clients and keeping exiting ones thereby ensuring the survival of one’s company. As an individual, advertisements can be either a doorway to enlightenment or hell depending on the message and the frequency they are presented. In some cases, it is seen as a visual assault on ones senses, which can then lead to potential loss of new and or existing clientele. It then raises the question can CancelAds bring peace and harmony to both publishers/advertisers and viewers alike which comes down to wait and see and on the other hand, if Profy.com and their CancelAd program do not at least try they will never know.

As Svetlana has pointed out CancelAd’s already has a number of users signed up in an attempt to monetize their sites, many of which she notes are bloggers as well as a web service called Mloovi Twitter Translator. Svetlana goes on to point out that, the sites are not restricted to just English origin as many are also in Chinese, Spanish and even Arabic.

It should be noted that web publishers DO NOT pay any fees for being part of the CancelAd program. However, a portion of the end-user subscription fees are deducted to cover CancelAds service fees and expenses, which as Svetlana points out, is similar to what any paid service does.

As she further notes, “…I don’t think the service will help publishers attract new customers, instead it is able to help them convert their exiting readers into paying customers…”

It seems CancelAd’s, while still in its infancy is generating some buzz on the internet from the likes of, Allen Stern of CenterNetworks, Jolie O’Dell of ReadWriteWeb and Steven Finch of Crenk each well worth checking out to better allow you to define your own feelings about CancelAd’s.

For myself, while I can see both the pros and cons of CancelAd’s, even after researching it further and actually signing up to better understand it I personally do not see myself paying for the service. It is not based on the fact I would have to pay a micro amount of dollars for the service, in fact, my decision is not based on money, but rather on the fact, I am personally content with the options I have and still use for the past few years that just work for me. (Plus I am somewhat set in my ways and change takes time) That is not to say I will cancel my membership with CancelAd’s, which is free to join ( it is the end-user subscriptions that you pay for) as I may in the future find a need for its services so I am keeping the door open especially after reading one point on particular that Svetlana made to me.

“Allan, I’m afraid I can hardly agree it is fair to use any ad blocking tool because web publishers expect to make money off advertising…”

A valid point, which as a business owner myself I have to agree, it then comes down to what you the end user feel is fair for you. We all know that some, not all, advertisers go overboard in an attempt to get their message across. Some are just downright unethical such as the porn pop-ups for example. Not all advertisers are unethical and do provide a good service but sadly, the bad ones ruin it for everyone.

Remember the world needs open-minded visionaries who are willing to take chances despite all odds. In conclusion, while it is not a service I have a present need for I wish Svetlana and her business partner Marcus much success.

Procrastination is my name!

ProcratinationProcrastination is a behaviour which is characterized by the deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision. The word itself comes from the Latin word procrastinatus: pro- (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow).

Procrastination and I have become very close companions as of late, to close as I envision it. Just when I think, I am ready to tackle one of many overly delayed projects Procrastination promptly pulls up a chair, sits beside me, and within seconds, my mind is filled with reasons why I should put off what I should be doing now to seek and create new projects to add to the multitude I have already started.

Over the years, I have started to write a novel based on real life events, a group of short stories and a movie. Added to the mix are a series of articles based on both old and new technological ideas, many still in the beta stage, each sitting on the shelf gathering dust.
My, mind it seems, never truly rests as it continually searches for new ideas to explore in my never-ending quest for learning. Just when I think, I have a break through it pops up. Yes, good old Procrastination rears its ugly head, whispering sweet nothings in my ear and I like the proverbial push over I am, I give in and once again, nothing is ever completed.

Today is no better as I struggle with the warm sunshine and cool breeze coming in the patio door next to my desk. As I sit and write I am not alone. My nemesis and constant companion is at my side taunting me to put off writing and to take some photos of a bowl of fruit before it is completely devoured, and then there is the sunshine and the fact I am actually on holidays so why do anything, right?

While this article may or may not have any real meaning or interest to you the reader, it does have value by its creation and publication to me, the creator. It is my first step in the long road to recovery and eventually or should I say hopefully, taking back my life and actually starting and finishing a project or projects without any assistance from Procrastination or should I say interference from my own lack of confidence in my ability to finish something once started.

Following is a little piece I write so many years ago that still hold true that I feel not only compliments the latter but is a nice way to end my personal lament….

The Door

Oh that my mind may expand,
To have knowledge would be great!
It accosts me where e’re I turn;
My being strives to understand each and everything!
My soul cries out in anguish,
“Why and I here alone in this great pool of infinity?”
Why can’t I learn?

People rush, push and nudge,
To an endless turmoil of infinite nothingness they go,
Or so it seems!
I’ve found the key; won’t you show me the door?
Please help me find the way!

Those with the answers are like doors shut tight.
Oblivious to the fact that knowledge is to be shared!
Oh to grab them and say.
“Knowledge is for everyone, it’s our right!”

Where is the door?
Where does it lead?
Help me to understand so we in equality relate.
Share, care, life is short!
Confusion I have, knowledge I need.
Help me! Won’t you please?
-30-

Let the battle of my inner will begin…