Month: March 2013

  • Report # 986

    Hey everyone, I hope that you’ve all been having a great week. It’s been a wonderful spring week here as everyday has been pretty sunny and over 15 C (60 F). Some years spring is so nice and sunny, but other years it stays cooler and wetter for a long time, so it looks like this is going to be a good year. Aside from running in the morning and going for the walk in the afternoon I haven’t really gone anywhere, so I haven’t enjoyed being outside too much.

    Still no news on my visa authorization, though I now understand why it is taking so long. My papers were delivered to the migration office in Monterrey on January 11, and three weeks later on February 1, they were sent to the foreign relations department, so I’m thinking my papers probably went to Mexico City. So if I’m correct, my papers will be mixed in with every other paper for everyone who will be working anywhere in Mexico, not just in Monterrey, so it could be quite a while before I get news.

    I’ve continued to apply for jobs, and I’ve actually applied for over 30 jobs. I’ve applied for everything from super simple jobs such as lawn moving and packaging, to temporary office work, to more advanced jobs such as marketing assistant. I’d really be happy just doing something super simple, though none of the super simple jobs have gotten back to me. I had an interview over Skype yesterday morning for a marketing assistant job, and the office is in my city, so it would actually be amazing if I got that position.

    I probably won’t check any of the job sites until Tuesday as its the Easter weekend here now and I can’t imagine there will be too much getting posted over the next four days as today is a holiday, and a lot of people get Monday off as well. There is certainly nothing Easterly about this house though as I haven’t seen any chocolate or eggs or anything…. though I did see a rabbit yesterday while I was walking. How a rabbit ended up being chosen to hide chocolates and Easter Eggs I’ll never understand, but it’s certainly interesting.

    Now I will just force myself to type up a story seeing as I’ve had this idea for like a year and have never wrote it yet. It’s amazing that for a while years ago I was writing a story, sometimes two, every month, and now I’m hardly making one once a year, but as I’ve said many times before I really don’t enjoy making up stories, and I only force myself to do it, to put something different on this blog on what now have become very rare occasions. So here it goes:

                                                          The Ad Capturers


    The rain poured down, creating a loud noise on the roof of the Grand Plan Marketing Agency. Donovan looked out the window and as excited he was to finish off another week, he really didn’t look too forward to going outside in that downpour. As Donovan was getting ready to finish up another week of work, his boss Walt walked in the room and took a seat next to him with a very grim look on his face.

    “I don’t want to have to tell you this now.” Walt began, knowing there was never a good time to being saying to Donovan what he was going to say.

    “Our agency has been bleeding red for quite a few months now. The economy has been struggling and a lot of our clients have cut back on our services. And other clients have left altogether saying that we really haven’t increased their business enough to warrant continue using our services.

    You’ve been working with me for almost five years now Donovan, and while I truly appreciate everything that you’ve done, I’m going to have to let you go at the end of the month. And it’s nothing personal, but I’ve told the same thing to the rest of the staff too. I’ve going to have to restructure this company completely, just to be able to start making some money again.” Walt said calmly.

    Donovan’s face turned pale and he took a minute to think before really responding.

    “Well I certainly never expected to receive news like that, I understand, there is nothing I can really disagree with.” Donovan responded understanding 100 % what Walt had told him was true.

    Donovan stayed silent for a moment and responded with a question;

    “What if I was able to increase our business over the next two weeks ? I mean I would find new clients, and even more importantly, improve the business for our existing clients.” Donovan wondered.

    Walt looked Donovan in the eyes and responded;

    “Well I don’t see after all this time we’ve had and how much we’ve struggled over the past six months, how you could turn around our fortunes in two weeks time. However, if you were able to do that then sure I would not have to lay everyone off. You’ve all done great work for me, and I’ve only made this decision out of pure necessity… hell, it’s almost gotten to the point where I’ll have to lay myself off and suspend operations of this company altogether.” Walt replied.

    “Ok well this weekend I will sit down a lot and come up with some new plans and ideas that I really think will get this business rolling again.” Donovan added.

    “That all sounds great Don, but keep in mind to be able to keep everyone on board, we’d have to actually have a significant amount of money coming in by two weeks time… not just wonderful ideas planned out that may not even work. While I truly appreciate your offer to try and change our fortunes, I think you have to face reality that the business model is not working, and you’ll be better off searching for another job. And I would do all that I can to help you, and of course I’ll write you an amazing reference letter.” Walt replied.

    Donovan smiled and responded:

    “Well I know what I have to do boss. You’ve explained the situation, and I thrive on challenges. I’m going to work like I’ve never worked before over the next two weeks. I’ll always remember how you hired me when I had no experience and gave me the opportunity to join your company and really learn on the job…. I’ll never forget that. You did so much for me and now I’m going to help you.”

    “Well kid it’s your choice. I wouldn’t put too much time and effort into this, I’d hate for you to be disappointed, but I certainly admire you for jumping into the sinking ship and trying to get it back above water. I can tell you I’ve studied so many business models and plans and I’ve talked with experts.

    They’ve all told me with the state of the economy now and the financial situation we as a company are in, we, well I should say I, won’t be able to turn this around unless I lay everyone off and truly restructure this company. And even if I do all of that, that will just give me more time… that won’t even guarantee future success.”  Walt explained.

    Donovan looked out the window again and saw that it was pouring and getting dark.

    “Well I should get going, I have lots of work to do, but don’t count us out until the time is up.” Donovan said as he got up from his desk, put his jacket on and prepared to leave.

    “Ok Don, but remember what I said…. things are not looking good and the only way I can honestly see things working out if a miracle happens.” Walt replied before saying good-bye to Donovan as he left the building.

    The truth is Donovan had no plan he just wanted to give himself some time to truly take in the situation and see if there was anything to do about it. After working for Walt for almost five years, and feeling that he did so much for his career, Donovan didn’t just want to see things end so badly. Donovan headed outside into the pouring rain, without his umbrella as usual. Instead of catching the bus home, he took a walk in the other direction.

    As he was walking down the street a truck passing by over a puddle send the water from the street soaking Donovan completely. Super cold and frustrated at this point, Donovan stepped inside to the nearest store, and he couldn’t believe what he saw with his own eyes upon entering.


    A completely drenched Donovan wiped the water off of his glasses and after regaining focus saw almost very colour imaginable in the store. The store appeared to be a place that sold signs. Donovan walked around and was in complete awe of the designs of the signs. As he bent down to look at a billboard sign that really interested him, a thick European voice was heard.

    “Ah… you like ?

    Donovan, completely spooked fell to the ground.

    “Sorry ! I didn’t mean to scare you. No wonder I don’t get too many customers here, I probably scare them all away, and it’s not even Halloween yet.” the man said.

    Donovan got up and turned around and responded.

    “No, no, don’t worry about it. I was just so amazed by this billboard, I wasn’t paying attention to anything else.” Donovan responded.

    “Well I’ll be right back.” The man said, walking away through a door in the back of the store.

    Donovan walked around the rest of the store, but he still couldn’t get over the billboard he was looking at before. He really thought it could help, at least a little, with some of the marketing agencies’ clients. A few minutes later the man with the European accent returned, and he was holding an identical billboard as well as a towel.

    “I think you could use this.” The man said, offering Donovan the towel.

    Completely surprised, but very grateful, Donovan accepted the towel and dried himself off. And the man introduced himself.

    “My name is Branko and I come from Macedonia. I had my sign business there too, but I wanted to try new adventure in other country.” I saw that you had quite the interest in that particular sign, so I give you deal. You can have this one for free, and if you don’t have results in the next week, you bring it back. However if sign brings you good business, you buy more signs.” So what you say ?” Branko asked.

    Donovan took a few seconds and thought things over, before coming to the conclusion that he couldn’t say know.

    “That would be amazing. I almost feel guilty, coming here soaking wet and just getting such a beautiful billboard sign for free. You certainly know how to make a positive impression on your customers.” Donovan responded.

    Branko began to laugh before responding.

    “Well I don’t know about that, but I believe a lot in my products, people just need an opportunity to try them. And believe me, if I didn’t think you buy signs from me next week, I wouldn’t be offering you this.” Branko said.

    “Well thanks so much, I really appreciate this offer, especially with how things are going now… it means a lot. I should probably get going, it’s getting late and my wife is probably wondering where I am by now.” Donovan responded seeing that his wife, Heidi, had already texted him tons of messages.

    “Ahh I understand, I too have wife, but she still in Macedonia. Give me 10 minutes, I want to get you something else. Branko disappeared in the back of the store for a while and Donovan texted Heidi that he would be home soon. Shortly after Branko returned with two giant bags.

    “You and your wife probably hungry…. so I have dinner for you.” Branko said surprising Donovan.

    “Wow, what do you have a restaurant back there ?” Donovan said laughing.

    Branko looked serious before laughing and responding.

    “Actually yes ! If you enter this building from the other side, is my Macedonian restaurant.” You and your wife should come one day…. you will love the food. Seeing as you were in hurry today, I just wanted to quickly bring you my most popular dish — you won’t be able to pronounce it, but you’ll love it !”

    “Well thank-you so much, I truly do appreciate all of your help today.” Donovan said.

    “No problem young man, and I’m sure you will be back next week buying signs !” Branko said with complete confidence.

    Donovan said good-bye to Branko and headed outside for a few minutes to catch the bus home. He had a free billboard sign to put up, but absolutely no ideas of what he was going to do with it. It was going to be a long night.


    Donovan arrived home about 40 minutes later and headed inside and saw Heidi sitting on the couch, eating some grapes.

    “Hey honey ! Guess what I got ?”

    “Well you are super late today, so you better have brought some damn good food.” Heidi responded.

    “Actually yes, fresh from a Macedonian restaurant !” Donovan replied.

    “Macedonian ? That’s a new one….. I don’t have any clue what kind of food they eat there.” Heidi said.

    “That makes two of us. I just stumbled upon a sign store, and the owner introduced himself, and he offered  me this sign for free on the condition that if it drives up business, I will come back next week and buy more. And he also offered me this food…. apparently there he operates a restaurant as well.” Donovan explained.

    “Wow people certainly have strange business combinations these days, but whatever works I guess. Well I’m starving lets check this Macedonian food out.” Heidi responded.

    Donovan and Heidi sat down at the kitchen table and started eating, and they were very impressed with the Macedonian cuisine… they both decided they would go to the restaurant one day. Heidi though sensed something was wrong with Donovan as he didn’t seem in a very upbeat mood.

    “Donovan ? I can tell something is bugging you, you just don’t seem to be too happy today.” Heidi said.

    Donovan thought for a moment and decided it was best to explain the whole situation to his wife.

    “Well Walt told me today that the agency has been losing money for a long time and that he’s going to have to restructure the business, and even then it might not survive. He explained to me and all of the other employees that by the end of the month we will all be let go.” Donovan said, his voice cracking up.

    “That’s terrible, but don’t worry everything will work out. I got my job at the Health Spa, and you have a few weeks to look for something new, maybe you can even find something before then.” Heidi responded trying to sound positive.

    “Well, the truth is I’m not giving up on this company yet, and I told Walt I would do whatever I can to save my job and get the company back on track. Basically if I can make enough money in the next few weeks, I have a chance to save jobs and the company in general. It won’t be easy, but I really want to try… I believe I thrive under pressure.” Donovan said.

    “I don’t know Don, that’s an awfully large task for you to do literally all by yourself, but if you truly believe you can do it, and that’s what you want to do, I support you 100 %.” Ultimately I’m sure everything will work out just fine, no matter what happens. Heidi responded giving Donovan a kiss.

    “Thanks-so much honey, you are the greatest and I love you so much ! I was going to ask you, would I be able to use on of the ads for the Health Spa for this new billboard sign I have ? We have some billboard spaced rented downtown and I think with this new sign and in a new location, it could really grab the attention of some people.”Donovan asked.

    “Well my manager wasn’t too happy with the results from the last marketing campaign your agency did for them, but we still have some ads remaining to use. If you agree not to charge them again, I’m sure it would be ok.” Heidi responded.

    “Ok then that will be great ! I just need to see how well this new billboard will work, and your company would be a great test.” Donovan said.

    “I have to head into the Spa for a few hours tomorrow, I will grab some of the ads that we haven’t shown yet, and we can set it up by the afternoon.” Heidi said.

    “That would be wonderful, the quicker the better.” Well I can’t rely only on this one billboard sign, so I’m going to have to brainstorm for a couple of hours tonight, but we are off to a great start.” Donovan said.

    “Awww I was hoping that we could get to bed a little bit early tonight and spend more time together.” A disappointed Heidi responded.

    “I know honey, but this is my life and career right now, and just for the next couple of weeks it’s going to be very hectic. I promise you that everything will work out. And please know that you are such a special person to me and I’m so lucky to be with you… I love you so much !” Donovan responded.

    Heidi looked at her husband and approached him closer and gave him a big hug and kiss before responding.

    “Ok Don, but I expect you to make more time for us very soon !” Heidi demanded.

    “Absolutely honey, I promise !” Donovan gave his wife a long kiss and soon sat down at his desk and began a long night of working. He looked over all of the previous marketing plans that he had designed, previous clients, current clients, what has worked well, what hasn’t worked, as well as prospective future clients. The time flew by that night and Donovan was literally up all night researching before he finally fell asleep at 5:45 am.

    Donovan was awoken just after 1:00 pm when he heard the door open to the apartment. It was Heidi and she had already returned from the Health Spa with a number of billboard ads.

    “Wow I can’t believe I slept until now !” Donovan said.

    “Well I can…. it’s not too surprising for someone who stayed up all night.” Heidi said with a smile.

    “Now tell me which one of these ads do you like the best ?”  Heidi asked Donovan showing him three different options.

    After observing them closely Donovan chose the ad that truly showed the beauty of the Health Spa as well as stating clearly the services the business offered.

    “I think this one is the best. It not only shows what a luxurious and modern business the Health Spa is, but all of the services it provides, while showing people it’s a clearly affordable place.” Donovan said.

    “Ok then well lets get to work and put this up !” Heidi responded.

    Donovan had a shower and after the two of them drove downtown and found a great place in front of a busy street with lots of traffic jams, and a bus stop near by as well. Assuring themselves that lots of people would be able to see the ad.

    “I really like this location, I really think people will take notice of this ad, and hopefully it brings in some new business.” Heidi said.

    “Me too honey. And there is just something about the sign I was given, it just stands out so much better than any of the previous ones I’ve seen.” Donovan replied.

    “I actually was able to get a lot of work done last night, and while I have a lot more work to do tonight, I have lots of time to spend the whole day with you today… lets do something special honey.” Donovan added.

    “Really ? That would be wonderful ! Heid responded.

    Donovan and Heidi spent the day holding hands, eating ice cream, walking along a path by the ocean, and just spending an amazingly romantic day together, capped off by a wonderful dinner in one of their favourite restaurants. After they headed home, Donovan spent a little more time with Heidi before she went to bed. Donovan was now ready to being his 2nd all-nighter, and with the sign up in a prime location, he really hoped it would work its magic.


    Donovan turned on his computer and back conducting more research and hunting prospective clients, he knew that he would be making a lof of phone calls in the coming week. Meanwhile downtown where the billboard sign for the Health Spa was set-up, some friends walking back from a night out together, noticed the glowing beauty of the sign. They looked closely at the ad, and before long, they not only felt like they were looking at an ad, but they were experiencing the ad.

    “Wow this ad is incredible, it truly captures your attention.” One of the friends said.

    “I’ve never seen anything like this. I can tell you one thing though, we definitely have to go to this Health Spa, ASAP !

    “That’s for sure, just the sign alone makes this place seem like the most incredible place like ever !” Another friend added.

    The sign had started working it’s magic… and that would only be the beginning. Little did Donovan know, no matter  how hard he was planning to work over the next week, that the sign he had installed would be really the one thing that was going to make the difference for the agency. Donovan spent another night awake, and once again falling asleep around 6:00 am at his desk.

    Heidi woke him up at 11:00 am telling him that because the Spa was really busy.

    “Hey Don, I have to go into work today. Apparently there are like sooooo many people there this Sunday and they are so short staffed.” Heidi kissed her husband who was still mostly asleep and she headed to work while Donovan dozed off for a few more hours.

    Donovan was woken up again around 2:00 pm when his cell phone rang, it was Heidi calling.

    “Baby wake up ! I had to call you immediately. That sign we put up yesterday is working wonders, this place is an absolute zoo and we are jam packed with customers. I told my manager about what we did and he was so impressed that he agreed to write a cheque to the agency if you put up more signs and if business keeps up like this.”

    A shocked but very happy Donovan replied;

    “This is amazing, I know exactly what I have to do.” I’ll call you later honey, I love you !”

    Donovan quickly had a shower and rushed downtown to the sign shop.Branko was inside all by himself at the desk and he knew exactly that it was Donovan who had returned.

    “Wow you back already ? After just two days ? Branko asked.

    “Yes, I want to buy many more signs. How much per billboard sign ?” Donovan asked.

    “They don’t come cheap Sir, but I will give you discount since you came back so soon. $ 500 per sign !” Branko explained.

    Still very pricey for Donovan to purchase by himself, he used his credit card, confident that he could get even more customers for so many more clients and that he’d get the money back soon. Donovan purchased 10 signs and Branko helped him carry them out to his truck.

    “Thanks for your help Branko, you have no idea how well things are going now !” Donovan said.

    “Believe me I know.” Branko said laughing !

    Donovan quickly drove to the agency and found some ads that were lying around for a number of clients and he put them into the billboard signs and began driving around the city and finding places to post them. Even though he didn’t have Walt’s permission, he was so confident that the signs would work the same magic that they did for the Health Spa, for the other companies as well.

    After driving around and putting up signs for the different companies all day, Donovan got home around 8:00 pm and this time it was Heidi who was sleeping. He imagined that after she experienced working a super hectic extra day that she was completely exhausted. Donovan felt that he had done all the work he had to do for that day so he got into bed next to Heidi who woke up slightly.

    “Babe you are here. I missed you so much. You won’t believe how tiring today was. I know how great this is for you and the agency though. If the other companies have even half as much success as we did, you will have absolutely nothing to worry about. Either way, I’m so proud of you and I so lucky to be married to such a wonderful man.” Heidi responded, cuddling with her husband and falling asleep in his arms.

    “I know honey, and I love you so much to.” Donovan said before falling asleep as well. He was happy with what they had managed to accomplish, just over one weekend, but he still didn’t know how things would be like in the office tomorrow, or how Walt would feel about him having posted up all of those ads without any permission. It was going to be a eventful day, no matter what would happen.


    Donovan and Heidi woke up together early on Monday morning and they both prepared to get ready and go to their jobs. Donovan arrived and sat down at his desk and began checking his emails when Walt walked in.

    “Donovan what on earth did you do ? All of the ads we had made for the future for our clients have all been taken and posted around the city… I didn’t authorize that.” Walt said.

    A startled and unprepared Donovan started to talk.

    “Umm, well, uh, you see, I found this place that…..”

    Before he could finish Walt cut him off.

    “It doesn’t matter kid…. whatever you did has worked. I’ve been flooded with calls from many of those clients and they have told me how many people have come into their stores or who have requested their services saying how impressive they found the ads. A few of those companies even told me that if sales continue so well over the future, they will certainly be paying us a great sum of money to continue using our services.

    I don’t know if things can continue as well as they went over the last day or two, but you’ve certainly brought a glimmer of hope to this agency. So well done… keep up the hard work and you never know what will happen !” Walt explained.

    “Thank-you sir… I definitely plan on pushing forward with the strategy I have implemented.” Donovan responded slightly exaggerating, as he had not actually implemented anything from his strategy, aside from using the highly successful billboard ads.

    While the companies weren’t able to attract as many clients as they did after their first day since the ads were placed, they were experiencing a great increase in business, and before the end of the week, many of them made decisions to sign agreements to continue working with the agency to improve their business. Things got so successful that a lot of companies called the agency asking to be clients, so Donovan didn’t even have to call too many of the prospective clients that he had found.

    Over the next week Donovan was able to relax a lot more and spend a lot more time with Heidi. Their relationship really improved in that time, not that they were ever having any problems before that. Donovan made a few more stops at the sign store and he explained just how successful the signs were to Branko.

    “Your product is truly amazing Branko. It’s almost like magic…. guaranteed success. You are able to showcase the very best of any company, even if their actual ads don’t seem to be that good. I don’t know how you do it, but it’s truly something incredible. I would call you an advertising expert, but you haven’t even advertised your sign store or Macedonian restaurant… why is that ? We both know with your signs, you could really get so much more business.

    Branko looked at Donovan and responded.

    “You know, some things don’t need to be advertised. And I’m in the business of preparing good Macedonian food and selling signs…. not advertising. I advertise with what I do. If people like they tell others, they come back, that’s how I advertise.” Branko said.

    “Still though you have to admit there is something special about your signs that really captures the attention of people.” Donovan responded.

    “Well I make signs not ads, it’s the ads that capture the attention of people, my signs just give them place to be.” Branko said

    “Yes you are right, but there is something about your sings that really allows the ads to be seen for much better than they actually are.” Donovan said.

    “Really ? Well I’ll take that as a compliment. Now when are you and your wife going to eat in my restaurant ?” Branko said laughing.

    “See if you had an ad for your restaurant I’d probably already have been ! But yes I would love to bring Heidi here, we’ll drop by next Saturday night.” Donovan said.

    “Sounds good, I will see you here, and it won’t take any signs to capture your attention, but only good Macedonian flavour !” Branko responded.

    Donovan purchased some more signs and said good-bye to Branko. By the end of the second week, a lot of the agencies’ clients had improved their business drastically, while so many other new companies had signed on. Donovan met Walt in his office that Friday afternoon before leaving.

    “Well I don’t know how on earth you did it, but this company is in amazing shape now. I’ve never seen us bring in so much money in such a short period of time. Not only will I not have to lay anyone off, I think we are in such great shape that we have more than enough money to get through any more economic recessions.

    I’ve thought a lot about things over the past few weeks, and I’m not getting any younger, so I wanted to give this to you.” Walt said handing over a paper to Donovan.

    It was a contract offering 50 % of the company to Donovan. A shocked Donovan replied.

    “You mean you want us to be partners ?

    “Well you can read kid, can’t you ? And I won’t take no for an answer. You’ve saved this company and I’m getting ready to cut back my hours, so I want you to sign this. And believe me, you’ve earned this opportunity.” Walt explained.

    “Thank-you so much Sir, I just don’t know what to say… You’ve done so much for my career already.” Donovan replied.

    “And you’ve done so much to keep this company from sinking completely, so don’t say anything, and sign the document so we can go and get something to eat to celebrate…. do you know any good places ?” Walt asked.

    “Well as a matter in fact, there is a great Macedonian restaurant… you would love it, the owner is such a cool guy too.” Donovan explained.

    “Macedonian huh ? Sounds intriguing, and I’m never one to turn down trying new food. And besides maybe we can interest him in our marketing and advertising services.” Walt said.

    Donovan smiled and thought about his talk with Branko from before.

    “I don’t think so but hey, you never know.”

    So after saving the company from going under, keeping a job for everyone, and truly paving a new path for his career, Donovan was incredibly happy. After having dinner with his boss at Branko’s Macedonian restaurant, a meal they both enjoyed immensely, Donovan headed home and spent a super romantic evening with Heidi.

    “See I told you everything would work out Babe.” Heidi said in between cuddling and kissing her husband.

    “You did didn’t you ? Well I guess it’s a relief to know that I’m married to a woman who is always right !” Donovan responded.

    Heidi smiled and replied,

    “Well maybe not always right, but enough to make you know that I know what I’m talking about…. just like your Macedonian friend.” Heidi responded.

    And with that Donovan remembered that he had to go back to the restaurant again tomorrow with Heidi. He continued kissing and cuddling with his wife and he thought to himself, maybe Branko is a lot better at marketing than he originally gave him credit for.

                                                                         The End

    Wow after sitting here for over two hours I’m finally done… what a relief ! I’ve already copied this story in case Xanga screws up and doesn’t post it….. that has happened before ! I actually copy all of my entries before I post them to avoid any problems. Anyways hopefully the people who actually took the time to read the whole story enjoyed it somewhat ! For the next question:

    Do advertisements of any kind work on you ?

    They work on me in terms of getting my attention and making me aware of certain products and services, but it’s not I see an ad and go rushing to a store or restaurant or order something. So they work in a way, but probably not as well as the companies would like !

    I hope that everyone has a fantastic Good Friday and Easter weekend. Take care and I’ll talk to you all on Monday, bye for now.

  • Report # 985

    The weather here has improved greatly over the last few days, from a chilly Friday that was only 7 C (45 F) to yesterday which was super sunny and 15 C (60 F) so it seems that spring is off to a great start here. Yesterday had to have been the warmest day here since I returned from Mexico, and shockingly it was actually warmer than in Monterrey. I talked to one of my friends there and she had told me it was only 11 C (52 F) which was really surprising seeing as they were at 36 C (97 F) just a few days ago…. crazy weather.

    My weekend was pretty boring as I didn’t do anything aside from running and going to Tim Hortons and taking a bunch of walks. Yesterday morning I ran all the way to Willowbrook Mall as I wanted to go to the book store to get some books for my mom’s birthday. I wasn’t able to find anything that really stood out, so I just bought two romance type books for her as she always enjoys those. Afterwards I ran home, stopping at Tim Hortons along the way.

    In total I must have run around 10 km, so that was definitely my longest run since I had left Monterrey. The Vancouver Sun run is in less than a month, but I haven’t registered yet. I’ll probably wait another week and then sign up. I got a call from a lady from a company yesterday, which I missed, but I was able to call her back and I had an interview over the phone. She asked me what position I was applying for, and I couldn’t even remember as I had applied for so many and a lot of times on Craigslist it won’t actually say the name of the company.

    She just asked me a whole bunch of questions regarding my past work experiences, what my duties were, why I left my jobs, and what I would like to learn more of. In fact I think that was the first time I’d ever had a real interview over the phone before. She told me that she had some more phone interviews to do but would get back to me by Thursday. I don’t really know if she will or not, because a lot of times people from companies say that but they never do call back.

    At the very least it was a start and I did get one interview so I just have to keep at it. I didn’t get to apply for any jobs yesterday as my grandmother came over to make dinner and I ended up washing and vacuuming out her car. I went for a good walk afterwards before returning home and eating. We had some chicken with an onion sauce and mashed potatoes.. it was very good. It was my mom’s 56th birthday and my grandmother had brought cake as well, so it was a good day for her I’m sure.

    This morning I’ve already done my short run to Tim Hortons and vacuumed the upstairs portion of the house… I’ll be doing the downstairs portion on Thursday like I have the previous two weeks. And after I get all of this Xanga stuff typed up it will be on to applying for jobs. So as I said in my last entry I wanted to discuss tourism here in Canada which I think has taken a beating in the last 10 years. From what I have read, around 2002 Canada was the 6th most visited country in the world, and in recent years we’ve dropped to around the 17th most visited country in the world.

    Now I’m sure there are a few uncontrollable reasons for this as well so I’ll give the tourism people and the government of Canada the benefit of the doubt to start. As we all know, the economy has been absolute garbage in the past few years, and while the worst years seem to have been around 2008/2009 and Canada never has been hit anywhere close to as hard as many other countries, many people have been affected by this. So if people are struggling because of a bad economy they certainly aren’t going to travel as much.

    And as anyone who knows geography would know, Canada certainly isn’t a cheap country to travel to. It’s bad enough just flying between Canadian cities, but for someone from a far away country, that would be extraordinarily expensive. So the government of Canada and it’s tourism department can not do anything about where Canada is located, the price of the flights to get here, or the state of the world economy, but I will say in terms of appealing to tourists, they’ve done a horrendous job in the last decade.

    What is Canada like ? The truth is most people from around the world, including many people who don’t live that far away clearly have no idea. They have such stupid ideas in their heads sometimes and they think the most ridiculous things. Now some of this is the fault of an individual person for not taking any time and effort into educating themselves a little more, so ignorance plays a key part in that, but clearly the Canadian government has failed to market this country to the world.

    Now some people will scoff at the idea of throwing more dollars into a tourism department when clearly there would be more pressing needs, however if Canada can get back up there as one of the top world destinations for travelers, the plan would not only pay for itself, but pay huge dividends in the Canadian economy. I truly believe if the Canadian government gave the resources necessary to the Canadian tourism department, and the right people were on hand to market some great ideas to the world about coming to Canada, that a lot more people would actually come here.

    Canada needs to market it’s clean modern cities, it’s vast abundance of natural wonders, parks, mountains, lakes, beaches, oceans, the arctic and all of the treasures they can think of. They need to market the diversity, the culture, and generally the idea of what Canada truly is. If people around the world see this they will have a much better idea of what Canada is truly about and I believe that will capture the interest of many more people; an increase in tourism would clearly happen.

    Now an issue that I feel very strongly about….. the visa requirement facing many people interested in coming to Canada. If this isn’t the # 1 tourist killer that we have to this country I don’t know what is. Even if the Canadian tourism department did absolutely zero advertising, if this country stopped requiring literally the whole damn world to have a visa just to come here on a short vacation, Canada would see so many more tourists.

    Aside from countries such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and most EU countries, almost the whole world needs a visa to come here….. and that’s just ridiculous. The government clearly has become extremely paranoid that if nothing was done, Canada might end up like the United States with a massive problem with illegal immigration, but I really don’t think visas are the issue with that.

    A lot of the illegal immigrants in the US just snuck in across the border so they didn’t even have a visa anyways. And the truth is a lot of those illegal immigrants in the US did have visas, which they used to enter the United States legally…. they just never left after the visa expired. So I have no idea why the government here thinks requiring the majority of the people in the world to need visas to come here will truly make that big of a difference.

    In fact I believe the visa requirements are hurting Canada more than anything, and not only that the rules are very discriminatory. The rules judge that everyone from one country is more likely to try and stay illegally than everyone from another country, and that’s just not right. As I’ve said in the past, it is wrong to punish everyone from one country just because there are some people that break the rules from that place. And until Canada really reforms the issue of visas, we will continue to struggle with our tourism here.

    And I’ve talked to some people from other countries and from what I’ve been told, getting a visa to come here is super difficult. Basically if a person doesn’t have a job and doesn’t want to come here to study, but just to visit someone or for general tourism, they most likely will be denied… that is terribly unfair. And there are people who have put so much time, money and effort into the whole process to get a visa to come here, only to be denied in the end.

    That would be a horrible experience for anyone, and I can imagine the people who that has happened to would have an unfortunately negative view of Canada, and would just go somewhere else. So I basically think there needs to be great lenience given to people from any country who truly just want to come here and take a vacation. A passport should be good enough as it will give the government an idea of who comes and who long they are here, and if people are breaking the rules they can deal with the consequences later on !

    I read that in the UK they are toying with the idea of making tourists from some countries pay a deposit to come to the country. This would be fully returnable when the tourists leave, and I was thinking that could be a great idea for Canada. If we eliminated all of our stupid visa laws, the government could still charge a deposit to people entering the country. The amount would have to be something not ridiculously high, but enough money that the person would certainly want back.

    This gives a good medium in between allowing free travel with just passports, and forcing so many people to have visas. I am sure many people now who have to go through the visa process would rather do the deposit thing, so that could be an idea worth studying. Ultimately though, I do believe that Canada has to be a country that is welcoming to tourists, no matter which country they come from, and this would mean treating all the tourists equally.

    I just don’t think it’s right to make some tourists have to do one thing, and other tourists have to do another thing. The only tourists that should be treated differently should be the ones who break the rules ! So while there may be more pressing issues in Canada right now, a look into our sagging tourism industry is definitely something that should be done ASAP, and some serious reform is needed.

    As I have said, if these changes are implemented I truly think Canada has a tremendous opportunity to really put itself on the map as a world tourist destination and the government would be able to celebrate a huge increase in revenue from tourism. With the greater focus on marketing this country around the world, the elimination of the visa requirements and treating equally people from around the world, Canada can get back to where it once was in terms of desired destinations.

    And while I can truly imagine all of the positives here, unfortunately I think our government is just too stupid to understand, keeping things the same, but I truly hope they prove me wrong. For the next question:

    How is tourism in your city/region ? What can be done to improve it ?

    Well as a city alone I think Vancouver is a great tourist destination and has done a great job of marketing itself around the world. We have a great film industry here, and a bit of everything in terms of nature: mountains, ocean, beaches, forests and lakes. So with the help of the Canadian government and a look into some of the ideas I have suggested, I think the city would do even better !

    I wish everyone all of the best with everything. Take care and I’ll talk to you all on Friday, bye for now.

  • Report # 984

    Hey everyone, I hope that you’ve all been having a great weekend so far. Over the last few days I’ve basically been sticking with the same routine. I’ve woken up around 10:00 am, ran to Tim Hortons, came home and cleaned up a bit, and applying for jobs. I’ve applied for about 18 jobs over the past week, so I’m hoping to hear something this coming week. I did get a call yesterday morning from a place super close, but they called the house phone and I didn’t get the call.

    I called back and a lady transferred me to another lady, but she didn’t pick up so I had to leave a message. She didn’t call me back on Friday, but hopefully she will on Monday. The whole job application thing is a bit of a process, but it usually takes a few weeks to get something. The company that did call me was a place that I applied for on Monday, so it took them four days to call me, so I’m hoping some of the other jobs, most of them which I applied for after Monday, will get back to me sometime this coming week.

    I check with my visa process online yesterday evening, but there was still no response, so I will continue looking for something as I would like to work at least for a short time period while I’m here. There were actually some very interesting jobs for which I applied and I think I’d enjoy doing a number of them, so I will hope to get a response sometime soon. I certainly haven’t been running like I was doing in Mexico, and I don’t really have a good excuse for that, but I’m going to have to get back to running a lot longer else I won’t be able to beat my Sun Run time from last year like I really want to do.

    It’s too bad the Sun Run hadn’t been the 2nd week of March after I returned, I would have been easily ready to destroy my time. I am still very confident that I’ll be able to do that, but I’m going to have to start running a lot more seriously again. I’ve watched a couple of movies over the past few nights. I saw Crank: High Voltage, which was a Jason Statham movie, a sequel to one that I saw in the theatres a number of years ago. I remember seeing the first one, and while it was far from an award winning film, it was entertaining and I enjoyed it.

    However, this second movie absolutely sucked and so far it’s my run away nominee for the worse movie of the year for the next Kyle Awards. It was just plain awful on so many levels, and I really think it will be hard for me to find a worse movie… unless I go out of my way to find horrible movies to watch.

    Last night I watched a horror movie called I Spit on your Grave, about a woman who was raped by a number of guys and she gets her revenge and kills all of them…. what can I say, sometimes watching these types of movies is interesting.

    Aside from that the last few days haven’t been too exciting. Aside from taking pictures of the pets, I haven’t done any picture taking since I’ve arrived back home, but that’s fine with me as I was on picture overload throughout the last few months.

    Every once and a while I read about a story that is just so shocking that I never would have believed it unless I actually read it. There is a reality TV show on the National Geographic channel here called Border Security: Canada’s Front Line. The goal of this show was to give Canadians a glimpse of what the border services people do on a day to day basis, however, there was an episode that aired recently that has cause a whole bunch of controversy in this country and rightfully so.

    On TV was a raid of a construction site in Vancouver being filmed, and several workers arrested for being here illegally. From what I read the workers were from places like Mexico and Honduras though they had been in Canada illegally for a number of years. A few of the people arrested had Canadian born children, and girlfriends or wives here, and now they are going to be deported back to their countries.

    Now I don’t support people coming in and working illegally, but to have these poor people shown on TV in a reality show when they are being raided by immigration officers, I just think this is a new low for Canada. The workers had to sign papers saying it was ok for them to appear on television, but from what I’ve been reading, they only signed because they were too scared what might happen if they didn’t.

    Now the worst part of all of this is that this reality show was approved by the government of Canada; a government that tries to show itself as being pro-immigrant. Now this government can send the immigration minister wearing religious garbs to all of the different temples and mosques it wants, but it’s clear he is only doing that to try and exploit voters in ethnic communities in a bid to get more votes. It’s appalling that this show was approved to be on TV by the government of Canada itself…. I’m just thoroughly disgusted.

    I was reading some of the letters written to the Vancouver Sun and posted online in the Yahoo news stories throughout the last couple of weeks, and some people were posting how they thought something like this would happen in the United States and that Canada isn’t Texas… but it’s time for Canadians to wake up and realize this is taking part in our own country and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

    Sure shows like Cops have existed for years, but this is just the lowest of the low in terms of reality television. It’s not like those immigrants being arrested on TV were criminals who had harmed anyone. They were working very hard and it’s very probable that they were doing jobs that most people would not have wanted to do themselves. Now as I said earlier, I certainly don’t support illegal immigration, but there has to be a level of compassion that is shown towards these people, as we don’t understand their stories or how life was like for them back at home.

    Some of them were in the process of being sponsored by a partner, and were actually trying to be in this country legally. They have kids and girlfriends, and wives. I just don’t think by making an example out of them on national television in a grab for ratings is the way to go on this issue, and it’s shameful that we have a government that seems to think that this sort of activity can count as a form of entertainment. I certainly hope the majority of Canadians are as disgusted by this as I am and they won’t be turning into this reality garbage.

    I’ve supported the current government in the past on a number of occasions, but I’ve clearly given up on them. Canada’s standing in the world has gone down over the past few years I believe, and our tourism has taken a beating. (which I will discuss next entry) I can say with 100 % certainty that I will not be voting for the Conservative Party of Canada in the next election, and I am sure I’m not the only person who has been turned off by their outrageously appalling actions in recent years.

    Protecting the border and caring for the immigration system is a very serious job, and not something that needs to be shown on television as a reality TV show. Worse yet the government has been super silent about the costs of this reality show, and they showed a complete lack of leadership in terms of answering questions…. which is nothing new for them. I’m all for being supportive of the work that the people in the border security department do, but this whole reality show just shows it all in the wrong light.

    It’s not the fault of the border services employees as they are just doing their jobs, but the government of Canada for approving this TV show and having absolutely no problems with exploiting the tough lives of illegal immigrants by showcasing them on television for people to watch as a form of entertainment. It’s a new low for this country and I’ve determined that it will take a change in government to get this country back to where we should be.

    Obviously I’m very proud to be Canadian and of the country itself, but this government has greatly disappointed me and by the time the next election rolls around they’ll have been in power for about 10 years, so it will definitely be time to turn the page and give Canada  a fresh start. As for the reality TV show, I just don’t know at what point these ideas become too much. Just anyone involved with this show, the making of it, the acceptance of the idea… they should all be greatly ashamed.

    Anyways I’ve said about all I can say on this issue, for the next question:

    What are your thoughts on the government of Canada using a reality TV showing border services agents arresting illegal immigrants on national television ?

    I hope that everyone has an awesome weekend. Take care and I’ll talk to you all on Tuesday, bye for now.

  • Report # 983

    Hey everyone, I hope that you’ve all been having an awesome week. I woke up this morning at 10:00 am and I was going to run to Tim Hortons, but it was pouring rain so I just had a shower and decided to walk over there. By the time I got outside it was not raining, but after walking for over 10 minutes it kind of started raining hard for a few minutes. Luckily it didn’t last too long so I didn’t get soaked. By the time I arrived to the Tim Hortons and got my order and headed out, it was sunny. Now it’s like 12 C (53 F) and super sunny, so it will be a great day to head outside this afternoon.

    Yesterday I walked to my grandmother’s house with a Tupperware full of washers as she needed a couple to fix her closet door. She asked me if we had any here, and if I knew what a washer was…. I said something to wash clothes, but I knew what they were, so I just checked the garage and found some. I don’t think any of the ones there will fit, so she might have to buy some anyways. My grandmother and I walked up to Tim Hortons and we had something to eat. I was able to see how hard it was to open up the “roll-up the rim” thing on the Tim Hortons coffee cups.

    Basically it’s a contest and if the person peels the top of the lid off underneath they will see if they won a prize. My grandmother got please try again, but I’ve seen people win donuts or coffee before…… nothing more than that. Though supposedly there are $ 100 gift certificates to be won and even bigger prizes such as barbeques and cars. I can imagine there are very, very, very few of those given away though.

    I read online that one man got a cup of coffee for his girlfriend and he had a message underneath saying “Will you marry me ?” He must have phoned Tim Hortons and got them to agree to do a special one for him. Of course they agreed though as it was great publicity for the company. After having lunch my grandmother and I stopped at the grocery store and I helped her carry some bags up to her apartment. I helped her with a few things in her place and then looked at all this old money that she had. She had tons of super old coins and many bills from around the world as well.

    My grandmother didn’t even know where she got the majority of the bills that she had. She had been in Europe a number of times, so it wasn’t surprising to see she had bills from Romania, Yugoslavia and Germany, but I have no idea how on earth she got money from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, China, Sierra Leone or Brazil. I don’t think any of it would be worth anything… well except face value, but she has a few old coins from the early 1900′s and even late 1800′s, so she should definitely check with someone.

    And seeing as countries like Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia don’t even exist anymore, it’s cool that she has some bills from there. I got a Mexican bill for $ 50,000 pesos, but seeing as the currency there was devalued like almost 20 years ago, I highly doubt it could even be exchange for any currency today. And it wouldn’t even be worth it anyways as my friend told me it would only be the equivalent of 50 pesos today (like 4 dollars) So I might as well just keep the bill and not do anything with it !

    I walked home around 2:30 pm and after cleaning up the house for a bit my brother drove me to the Central City mall. I met a friend from Cuba there and we were going to go to Tim Hortons, but the line-up was sooooo long we just decided to leave the mall and walk to another Tim Hortons. On the way there we were passing the Knight and Day restaurant and I was telling her it was a very good place, so we ended up going there. I thought they were going to tear that place down, but they never did so I think the restaurant is there to stay.

    It’s been there since before I’ve been born, and I have eaten there many times over the years, though this was probably my first trip there in about a year and a half. I just had a cheese burger and some fries with tons of pepsi and then a chocolate coffee ice cream cake. It was pouring after dinner but luckily my friend had an umbrella. It’s pretty bad that I’ve lived here my whole life practically and I’m still not prepared for the pouring rain.

    So it was great to meet my Cuban friend and hear her interesting story. She was working at a resort in Cuba and she met a retired Canadian couple and they offered to bring her to Canada, and after months of all the paperwork she was able to come and has now been here for almost two years. She told me she should be able to get residency before the end of this year and that will allow her to go back to Cuba to visit her family.

    I never thought I’d meet a Cuban person here, so it was good opportunity for me, and we basically spoke in Spanish the whole time so that was good as well. I said good-bye to my friend at around 7:00 pm and then I took the bus back home. The bus fare has been raised since I left as before it was $ 2.50 for a ticket, now its $2.75…. I can’t imagine how much more they can keep going up. It will get to the point where it’s hardly any cheaper for people to use public transit than it is to drive !

    I got home around 7:30 pm and I watched an episode of Cachito de Cielo and then just relaxed for the rest of the day. On Monday my brother drove me to Willowbrook mall and I went to the Fido store to see about my options for getting a new cell phone number. I had a phone that I bought from Fido almost two years ago, but I hadn’t been using it for the last seven months as I was in Mexico and I never really tried too hard to see if I could unlock it to use it there after some guy in Michoacán told me he couldn’t do it.

    Unfortunately the cell phone companies here don’t seem to have a simple way of paying $ 10 dollars like I was doing in Mexico and then having enough credit on my phone to last me for a month. And I was told that going month to month would be a cheaper option than prepaid, so I just went with that. Basically I will have to pay $ 40 a month, though I’ll get unlimited text messages to anywhere in the world, unlimited calling on weekends, and weekdays after 6:00 pm. And also I have data on the phone so I would be able to browse internet, though I can’t imagine myself doing that too often.

    So while it’s not super cheap this whole plan, it’s not a contract and I can cancel at anytime seeing as I already had my own phone, and it’s certainly cheaper than what I was paying in the past. I paid $ 56 a month before and I had a much worse plan, and when I had a Blackberry, I was paying like $ 90 a month. I wanted to get a number while I am here as I don’t know how long I’m going to be here, and I will be applying for jobs and I would prefer to have a cell phone for that instead of people just calling the house phone.

    After spending over half an hour in the store I walked home and that was my exercise for the day. Tomorrow will be exactly one month until the Vancouver Sun Run, so starting tomorrow I will be starting to run a much longer distance to prepare myself. I haven’t even signed up yet, so I should definitely do that soon as there is a limit of 50,000 people and if they reach that number and I’m not signed up, I’ll be out of luck. I applied for five jobs on Monday, and that was my first day of applying for jobs.

    Unfortunately they were all posted almost a week ago, so I think I missed the boat on those opportunities, but starting today I will be checking every single day and applying for whatever job I think is worth applying for. I will look for temporary, part-time, and even just normal jobs. I figure that I don’t have to say that I might be leaving soon anyways as most of the jobs wouldn’t hire me anyways if they knew that, so if I can’t find a temporary or part-time job, then I will just go with something regular.

    I actually would have been interested in any of the five jobs I applied for on Monday, as they were all simple office jobs and now I have a year and a half experience in doing that, so something like that would be perfect for me. So even though I applied too late for those ones, it showed me there are going to be some options, and if I’m applying for something everyday I will have  a greater chance of hearing from someone. Ok so seeing as Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day and I said absolutely nothing about it, I have decided to do something for today.

    However instead of focusing on St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve decided to focus on Ireland. I have to admit I don’t know too much about Ireland aside from the fact that it’s a European country close to the United Kingdom and they’ve had a very tough time during the economic recession over the past few years. From what I know though the people are incredibly friendly and it’s a country full of history and tradition and of course beautiful countryside and coast line, so obviously I would love to go there one day.

    (Irish Flag, sources:

    (Map of Ireland, sources:

    In terms of population Ireland is the 121st largest country in the world with just under 4,600,000 people and the 120 largest country in the world in terms of size, 70,273 kilometers square. The country had a female president (Mary McAleese) for 14 years from 1997-2011, and for those people who didn’t actually know, Irish is actually an official language in Ireland, though English is the main spoken language.

    (sources: Wikipedia: Republic of Ireland)

    And I can imagine a lot of people in Ireland were watching the election of the new pope as the majority of the people living in the country are Catholic. Dublin is by far the largest city with over 1 million people, and while I highly doubt that anyone would find leprechauns or pots of gold, they would be able to enjoy many historical buildings and points of interest and many traditional places to go shopping.

    (sources: Wikipedia: Republic of Ireland, Dublin)

    By typing in attractions in Ireland on Google, some of the places that popped up were Blarney Stone, National University of Ireland, The O2, Dublin Castle, Bunratty Castle, Guinness Storehouse, Kilmainham Gaol, Blarney Castle and the Burren among with many parks and other amazing places to visit. I can imagine if I ever get the opportunity to make it to Ireland I’d be taking thousands of pictures. And Ireland is not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, so I wouldn’t have to be drowning in all of that monarchy garbage !

    (sources Google search: attractions in Ireland)

    And without all of the violent problems facing Northern Ireland, Ireland seems like a safer place to visit, though as I’ve learned with Mexico, a person can’t just turn on the TV and read the paper and truly assume things about a country until they’ve been there for themselves. So I can definitely say that Ireland would be near the top of any list of places I’d love to travel to, though clearly it won’t be for a while as I haven’t worked in seven months and I’m still waiting to see what will happen with my life, so no vacations for me for a very long time.

    And seeing as Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day, I will write a little something about it, and for I’m sure many stupid people here in North America who think it’s just a day to wear green, drink beer and get wasted, the day has much more meaning for at least some people. Here is a lit of four goals the Irish government came up with for St. Patrick’s Day to promote Irish culture and Ireland itself:

    1. To offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebration in the world
    2. To create energy and excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.
    3. To provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.
    4. To project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal.

    (sources wikipeida: St. Patricks Day, celebrations by region: Ireland)

    And as wikipedia states, here is what St. Patrick’s Day is truly about:

    “St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March. It is named after Saint Patrick (pictured below) (c. AD 385-461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. Thed ay commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as well as celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve parades and festivals, céilithe, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks.

    (sources: Wikipedia, St. Patrick’s Day)

    Now I could go into Leprechauns and Pot of Gold and all of that, but this was supposed to be a serious entry about Ireland, so today is not the time for silly country stereotypes. I would like to profile more countries in the future and even actually give interviews to people from those places, so I will see if I have some friends online who will help me with that. Seeing as I don’t really know anyone from Ireland I just kind of winged it !

    So bottom line, St. Patrick’s Day is a day of great importance and anyone who just uses it as a day to go out and get drunk is a clueless loser who is lacking cultural knowledge ! And Ireland is an exceptional country and anyone who has the chance should visit is ASAP. Anyways, for the next question:

    Do you ever do anything for St. Patrick’s Day ? Is Ireland a country that you would love to visit, why or why not ?

    There I’ve finished this super long entry and now I don’t feel so guilty about saying absolutely nothing on St. Patrick’s Day. If this blog, typed up by someone who has never been to Ireland in his life encourages at least one person who reads it to go there, the Irish tourist department should thank me ! And I will do my best to get to Ireland myself one day ! Now I’m off to comment everyone and then I’ll be applying for jobs. I wish everyone all of the best with everything. Take care and I’ll talk to you all on Saturday, bye for now.

  • Report # 982

    It’s finally sunny here today…. this has to be the first day I’ve seen the sun in over a week. It’s been around 10 C (50 F) most days, but it’s just been sopping wet all week, so it’s nice to have a dry and bright day. I’ve been running to Tim Hortons everyday, but I want to start running a lot longer, especially if I have plans to beat my time from the Sun Run last year, so I think starting tomorrow I’m going to do my old run around the block everyday like I used to. It wouldn’t be 10 kilometers like I was running in Fundidora Park, but there is a steep hill to climb, so that sort of compensates for the shorter run.

    On Friday my grandmother came over and we ordered Greek food for dinner. I had chicken souvlaki with rice and potatoes, ceasar salad and pita bread. I only ate about half of it and I still have the rest to finish, so I’ll have that today or tomorrow. I started watching a new telenovela, Cachito del Cielo (Cachito (persons nickname), from heaven/sky) It started off so silly ! It was about a soccer player who was engaged to his girlfriend and after one of the games he gets struck by a bolt of lightning while he’s on the soccer field and he basically dies.

    He goes to a place that seems to be like heaven and he has to get a number and wait his turn to talk to some guys. They find out that he wasn’t supposed to die, but someone else with a very similar name, so a mistake was made. He was told that since he couldn’t get back his own body, the best they could do was to send him back as another person, so he is sent back as a priest, even though he knows absolutely nothing about being a priest. And it’s interesting because his ex-fiancee goes to that church and he’s already been to her family’s house for dinner.

    And of course it’s odd because he still says things as if he knows the family, even though they just think of him as the new priest. And the second episode ended with him entering the room of his ex-fiancee and seeing her looking at a photo of him and her while they were together and saying she still loves him, and then he says he will always love her too. And of course she gives a weird look since she thinks he’s just the new priest ! So while it’s an incredibly weird show, it should keep me entertained for the next four months…. though I really just watch these shows to get a good dose of Spanish everyday !

    I haven’t really looked up any job opportunities yet, but tomorrow I’m definitely going to spend a lot of time and seeing what is out there. Even if it’s just something super temporary or something they just need people on weekends, that would be good enough…. I just want to find something small. And of course there is still no news on my visa authorization as I just checked yesterday, but hopefully one week soon there will be something. I did get my taxes mailed off, so it will be nice to get around 800 dollars back like my mom has estimated.

    My first full week back here has been pretty good and already I’m used to everything. I’ve made a few observations since I’ve returned. One of our cats, Shelby, is on a diet so she’s only supposed to eat the diet food, and she’s only supposed to eat it a few times a day. She meows a lot trying to convince me to put the food down, but I have to be sure not to give her too much. It will be better for her in another month when it will be a few degrees warmer and less rainy as I think she’ll be going outside.

    We have three cats, though technically we have 3.5 as there is a black cat who comes from the barn across the street who comes looking for food regularly. My mom actually bought him his own cat bed which he uses sometimes. I tried petting him about a year ago and he swiped at me, so I have no plans of trying that again, though I think my mom is able to pet him anyways. She just calls him Smudge so he’s cat number 3.5 here and he always gets the cat food he wants here, so he is pretty happy.

    Speaking of food, I think someone should be feeding the waitress I saw at Boston Pizza last week when I was with my grandmother. She had to be one of the thinnest people I had ever seen in my life, and I would even say she seems anorexic. I know some people have extremely high metabolisms, but I can’t imagine it’s healthy to be that skinny. She was seriously as thin as a pancake, and I certainly think it would be a lot better if she ate more food and got some curves ! Hopefully someone in her family or her friends realizes this girl is way too thin and actually tells her about it, because she definitely needs to put on some weight.

    While my grandmother was waiting in the line-up at London Drugs, an employee was asking if anyone wanted to come use the self checkout. My grandmother was trying to say that she had no idea how to use them, but the employee said she would help her… though I know how to use those things as well. I remember I was in California in 2005 when I saw those self check out machines for the first time. I remember thinking what amazing technology it was, and shortly after I started seeing them in stores here too.

    The truth is that I don’t think the stores have installed all of those machines for convenience, but to cut down on costs. Most of these companies would rather pay a machine wages than an employee…. oh wait it’s a  machine, it doesn’t make any money, so the stores are reaping in the savings ! I have mixed feelings about these machines as it’s cool they are there and really are super convenient to use, but exiting that London Drugs and seeing all of those machines and only one employee working cash showed me the much larger picture that a lot of people who would have been working in that store in a previous time no longer have that option to work there.

    So while everyone wants to save money and come up with ways to be more efficient,if these machines are just adding to the unemployment numbers, I think their harm is much greater than their benefit, and that’s something that all stores should be looking at. Is it really worth having a few extra dollars in the pocket of a corporation or making a city prosperous and doing what is possible to keep the unemployment levels lower than Justin Bieber’s level of musical talent ?

    The other day I was waiting for my order at Tim Horton’s and I saw it arrive at the counter, but a young looking sporty woman just took my bag and left. I thought maybe she had ordered the same thing, as unlikely as that could have been, but it turns out she just stole my order. One could think that it was an accident, but there was a breakfast sandwich sitting on the counter unclaimed for ten minutes. And if all she ordered was a breakfast sandwich, I don’t know why she would have grabbed a bag full of three items.

    I heard two of the employees talking and one suggested the number system, and she said they tried that when that Tim Hortons first opened, and that it didn’t work. One of the employees made the point though if someone wants to steal they will steal, and it’s tough to prevent that. For me it was no big deal as of course they prepared my order again, but it’s these sort of things that make restaurants have to raise their prices, so I won’t be forgetting the image of that young sporty yoga woman running off with my order… she can be the new face of the corrupt customer !

    I’ve never really enjoyed the healthy cereals as they taste more boring than a curling championship on TV, so I’ve enjoyed sugary cereals such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch. There was a large box of that cereal on top of our fridge in the kitchen, though it was bought right before I left for Mexico in August. It said it had expired a few weeks ago in February, but I figured since it was never opened it would not be a big deal. So I opened the cereal up and tasted it and while it was as crispy tasting as it should have been, it tasted like soap !

    My brother tried it too and he also said it tasted like soap, though my mom did not think so. She thinks maybe my taste buds changed. Nonetheless, a new box was bought and the old one was sent out to the trash or compost, or wherever on earth it went, faster than a baseball slugger goes for the steroids. I suppose it wasn’t that fast though, it was sitting on top of the fridge for at least seven months. I will try the new Cinnamon Toast Crunch very soon, and if it still tastes like soap, than my tongue is really screwed up !

    Anyways that’s about all of my observations for my first full week back at home. For the next question:

    What sort of interesting things have you seen, dealt with, experienced in the past week of your life ?

    I hope that everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend. Take care and I’ll talk to you all on Wednesday, bye for now.

  • Report # 981

    Hey everyone, I hope that you’ve all been having a great week. It’s been a super wet week here as every day has been pouring down rain, though it’s been over 10 C (50 F) so it hasn’t felt too chilly. Each morning I’ve ran to Tim Hortons and I’ve gone for a 45 minute walk in the afternoon. In a couple of days I’ll have to start running more again, as the total run to and from Tim Hortons is probably not even 3 km, and after all of the running I was doing in Monterrey, that’s just not good enough.

    On Tuesday afternoon I went to Boston Pizza with my grandmother, which was the first time I went out for lunch with her since last August. The last time we went out, we ate at that exact same restaurant too. I had a bacon penne pasta, and seeing as I had went to Tim Hortons earlier in the day I wasn’t able to eat the whole plate, though I finished the rest for dinner. Afterwards we went to London Drugs and I just bought some packs of lined paper, and then made a quick stop at the bank to cash a cheque my grandmother had given me that was from Christmas.

    That night I sent an email to the lady I used to work with at Supersave to see if they needed any help there. She told me that they were still busy and she would check in with the manager. I thought it could possibly be a good temporary opportunity as I already worked there before and I can get there without a car, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. If it was up to the manager, I would have been able to come back and work for a while, but she had to talk to one of the president’s from the company, and she was told they were operating at full capacity, so I won’t be able to go back and work at Supersave for a while.

    It would have been the quickest and most convenient thing for me to be able to do, but I’ll obviously have to look into some other options. It’s a bit difficult as I don’t have a car and there would be only so many places I could get to from here, but I will look and see what I can find. I would like to be able to work at least for a little while as I wait the whole visa process. So I’ll take a look again this afternoon and see what I can find. Aside from that I’ve just been doing laundry today and I’ll probably vacuum the house and head for a walk.

    Well it’s been over eight months, so today is a good day for an update to the comment standings. I’ve done it a little more thoroughly this time around, so it actually took quite a bit of work ! This is my 981st entry and I’ve posted 863 of Canada (822 in British Columbia, 40 in Alberta, and one in the Yukon Territory) 87 from Mexico (52 from Nuevo León, 22 from Michoacán, 7 from Oaxaca, 2 from Sonora, and one each from Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Jalisco and Mexico City) And from the United States I’ve posted 31 entries (14 from California, 9 from Indiana, 3 from Washington State and Texas, and 2 from Missouri)

    I’ve received 4,725 comments since I started this site on February 24, 2005, and while most of them are from the United States, I’ve got lots from Canada, and some from other countries such as Mexico, Philippines, Indonesia, Germany and El Salvador. I definitely would like to get more comments from around the world, but Xanga isn’t so easy to connect with people from around the world as it was in the past.

    And finally here are the comment standings:

                   Most Comments by Username

    1. Duckymomo…………….. 224

    2. Goaliegirl………………….. 203

    3. Jennylove……………………200

    4. Onescrewloose……………160

    5. Pepin909…………………….147

    6. Zsa-md……………………….146

    7. Phoenixdown17…………….122

    8. Jst4e…………………………….116

    9. Rybabyg.……………………….102

    10. Jazziegal97……………………102

    Most Comments by Location

    1. California = 466

    2. Pennsylvania = 248

    3. British Columbia = 232

    4. Alberta = 220

    5. Illinois = 209

    6. Florida = 192

    7. New York = 188

    8. Nebraska = 177

    9. Arizona = 165

    10. Wisconsin = 162

    And that concludes the comment update for a long time… at least until December ! Now before I got I wanted to talk a little about International Women’s Day which was held last week on Friday March, 8. I was coming back from Mexico that day and I bought a copy of El Universal, which is Mexico’s national newspaper. I was reading an article that was filled of letters written by women who had been abused physically or sexually by their boyfriends, husbands, neighbours, uncles…. even their own parents.

    I was talking to my friend about this last night and she was saying how they aren’t such nice stories to read for International Women’s Day, and I agree 100 %… they are horrific, however the importance of reading them and being aware that this sort of stuff has happened and continues to happen is just huge. Too many people for too many years have been blinded and not seen what they should have been able to see. There are so many women in this world who feel trapped in such terrible situations.

    As a caring society, it is the job of other people to take care and do something about it and help these women when it is obvious that they are going through hell everyday of their lives. Ultimately it is up to the individual to have the courage to walk away from a situation, but many times the person who has been violating these women in different ways for so long has made these women feel so weak, worthless and powerless, they just don’t have the strength to get the help that they need and deserve.

    My friend was even telling me how she was talking to her friends about their relationships, and some of them are married or who have boyfriends who are very possessive and controlling over their lives. I thought that was very sad to hear, because this is only the beginning, and I can imagine guys like them would just get worse and worse and it’s only a matter of time before their overly controlling and manipulative ways turn into raging temper based attacks and physical violence.

    I would hope those women realize that they should not have to put up with that garbage and they have the strength to leave before it’s too late, but ultimately it’s their lives and friends can just talk and try and tell them what they think. These friends can do what they can to help, but it would be the decision of the individual to leave and find themselves something much better.

    If it gets to the point of people seeing women out with bruises on their bodies or emotionally destroyed, clearly these women need help immediately, and in that type of situation friends and family, and whoever else is aware of the situation would have to intervene immediately. The sad thing is so many men think they are so powerful and they can just get away with what they are doing without consequences. This has to change and society has to make it 100 % clear that violence and abuse towards any woman is not tolerated and that the punishments for these offences would be as harsh as possible under the rule of law.

    In the cases of the children who are being molested or beat by their parents or someone close to them, I think in a lot of those situations someone in the family is aware that this is taking place, and if they are just staying silent for years and doing nothing to stop it, they are just as guilty as the person doing these sick things, and they should be punished severely as well. In these situations as well, teachers, close family friends, and anyone else who has any connections with these kids should be alert and watch for any signs that any sort of injustice is taking place towards these children…… there has to be warning signs.

    And while I believe it’s super important for society to beware of all of these injustices and violence towards women, the International Women’s Day is about so much more than that. When I was reading through El Universal, there were various articles about actresses, politicians, and even an article about a woman who directs a prison. So it was great to read that so many women have risen up and accomplished so much and have had such amazing opportunities in their lives.

    So celebrating the success of women is certainly something that is of utmost importance as well. Clearly so many women around the world have defied many odds and passed through many obstacles to get to where they are today, and that is something that should be greatly appreciated and celebrated as well. One of the issues that was talked about a lot, is equality…. and clearly things are still not 100 % equal for women. Of course things have improved greatly, but there is still so much more to be done to create a world that is 100 % equal.

    There are still women who work basically the same jobs as men with a salary that is less, yet to get to that point I am assuming they had a much tougher path than their male counterparts have had. In the sectors which are male dominated, women still face discrimination and clearly suffer types of bullying and abuse. (There has been horror stories in the police force in Canada about how some women have been treated) And as we all know in some countries women’s rights are basically nothing.

    So in 2013 women have much to be proud of. There are women leading some of the most important nations in the world, Angela Merkel in Germany, Park Geun-Hye in South Korea, and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, women actresses which are truly talented and appreciated for their acting skills and not their sex appeal, women who do work in industries traditionally dominated by males, firefighters, truck drivers, police officers, and manufacturing plants… and just so many more wonderful examples.

    In the sports world women are truly doing great things.Throughout the world unfortunately, the opportunities for these women to participate in sports are greatly limited – sometimes they are non-existent. So women deserve all of the opportunities as men to play the sports they want to play, and any country that is denying women these rights is truly not supportive of equality or women’s rights at all. So while there is much to celebrate this year in terms of all that women have been able to accomplish around the world, clearly there is much work to still be done….. definitely in some places and in some industries more than others.

    The world has come a long way towards equality though, and if we stick to the path we are going and we all put up a fight towards 100 % equality, we will arrive there sooner rather than later. This can happen and I believe that it will happen, we just all have to do what we can to make this world a better place for women. And a lot of what can be done to do this can be done by men as well….. they just have to understand the reality of the situation women around the world face and work towards developing a plan to lead us towards full equality.

    Obviously in some countries in the world women’s rights are basically non-existent, but pressure can be put on these countries and their governments to make changes that will benefit women, because no religion and no type of government has any excuse to deny women equality, freedom of speech and full human rights. And I know that there isn’t really a religion that discriminates against women…. its just some of the extremists and zealots who try and bend the rules of their religion to make it seem that’s who things should be.

    So to sum everything up, if we all work together and a strong plan is implemented in every country things can and will improve for women. Each country could set up a group of some of the most respected women, and some men as well, and they can get together and come up with basic ideals that could be implemented and put into law to truly make equality a reality… not just a pipe dream. I know this is possible, it’s just something people have to get working on !

    Perhaps I’m being a bit optimistic, but I hope not. I strongly believe in equality for both genders, I strongly believe in equal rights for both genders, I strongly believe in a zero-tolerance policy for violence against women, I strongly support equal opportunities and rules for both men and women regardless of where they live, and most importantly I support a world where a person’s attributes,characteristics, personality, and skills are what stand people apart…. not their gender.

    So International Women’s Day has been a great addition to the calendar, but it can’t just be the one day a year that these important issues are discussed, and it can’t just be a symbolic day either. There has to be awareness of these issues throughout the year and that is really what needs to be done. Awareness leads to discussion, discussion leads to planning, and planning leads to implementation. I seriously believe if all of this can be accomplished, the world will be a much better place for women, and in turn a much greater place to live for us all.

    For the next question:

    What do you think can be done to further create equality among men and women in this world and how would we go about in achieving that goal ?

    That’s all I have for today. I hope that everyone enjoys the rest of the week. Take care and I’ll talk to you all on Sunday, bye for now.

  • Report # 980

    Hey everyone, I hope that you’ve all had a great weekend. It’s already been three days since my arrival back home from Mexico and I guess I’m all used to everything again. My dad picked me up from the airport on Friday morning and we drove home. I unpacked my suitcase and later on in the afternoon I ran up to Tim Hortons to have my first meal from there in almost seven months. It was great to be able to have the bagels with cream cheese, iced cap, and two chocolate chip cookies for the first time in so long !

    My grandmother came over in the afternoon and she made pizza which was delicious as always. I was quite surprised when I weighed myself and found out I was only 64 kg (140 pounds) I dropped at least 12 pounds while I was in Mexico, which certainly wasn’t due to healthy eating habits, but from running so much. The Vancouver Sun Run is on April 21, and seeing as I don’t think I’ll have gotten an answer on my visa quick enough to be back in Mexico by then, it will be great to race for the third consecutive year.

    With all of the running I’ve done in the last couple of months and not carrying my camera and wallet, starting at the tape, and hopefully not having to stop and tie my shoe laces a few times, I am more than certain I should be able to beat my time last year of 49 minutes and 8 seconds for the 10 km run. I ran up to Tim Hortons again on Saturday morning and my brother and I helped wash my parents’ cars in the afternoon, aside from that it was a pretty boring day.

    On Sunday I ran to Tim Hortons, and just pretty much relaxed at home most of the day, though I walked around the block in the evening. It was still light before 8:00 pm as we had the daylight savings time on Sunday so the days are nice and long now. I’ve had some popcorn in the evenings and watched a few episodes of the Simpsons and that’s been it for all of my excitement. I ran to Tim Hortons once again this morning… already four times since I’ve arrive home !

    Today I’m going to check out some sites and see if I can find any temporary job opportunities that are close to my house. I think it will be challenging, but it would be nice to find something I could do. If I’m unable to find anything, I’ll send an email to the lady I used to work with at my last job and see if they could use my help for a while. It would be cool to be back at my old job helping out for a while, but if not I wouldn’t really mind, as long as I find something….. seven months of vacations is long enough !

    As I would think most people are aware of, last week the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, passed away after his battle with cancer. I was reading some newspapers and headlines after his death, and they were saying things like “It’s good that he is dead” or “No tears for Chavez.” Now I certainly didn’t agree with this man’s policies and there was no question he was bending the rules and really crossing the lines in terms of operating democratically, but I felt articles such as those were unnecessarily harsh and cold.

    I read an article talking about the death of Russian dictator Stalin 60 years ago and then seeing how Chavez died on exactly the same day, but aside from that being a coincidence, anyone who has studied history would know any comparison between the two men would be completely ridiculous. I’ve said before that it was time for Chavez to step aside and let someone else lead the country, and while he never did, now Venezuelans will have a true chance to bring change to their country.

    I thought it was stupid how Chavez put in so much effort of trying to retain power despite how sick he was. Maybe if he put more attention on his health in the past few years instead of trying to be the leader for life, he would still be here today. So while Hugo Chavez was an extremely controversial and divisive figure in his country and around the world, I really don’t think people should be celebrating his death like it’s some amazing thing.

    This man was running an extremely ideological socialist government, but he was not a brutal and murderous dictator. The people of eventually elected this man again and again, and while it was not 100 % fair how he controlled the Venezuelan media for his own political purposes, the voters have to be given some credit. They can’t be stupid…. and if they still chose to vote for this man time and time again they obviously were happy with him.

    A lot of world leaders from other countries criticized Hugo Chavez’s leadership, but that’s not their job. Their job is to rule their countries and do what they can to help their people…. not to involve themselves in the politics of another country. And seeing how many world leaders refused to deal with Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela just because they didn’t agree with his politics was ridiculous. And the leaders of those countries were in turn harming their own countries by not having good business with Venezuela.

    Now I’ve always thought there are so many people in Venezuela who would vote for Chavez no matter what. Especially the poorer people, who Chavez would always do enough for to make them feel like he was improving their lives while he never truly got them ahead. I’ve always thought these type of voters are very dumb people because they don’t even bother to think about the other options… they will just blindly vote for the same person every time. I still think this, but the truth is as much as I think it’s a stupid way to vote, it is their vote and they can vote the way they want.

    So my main point today is that I think the Venezuelan people have an incredible opportunity in next month’s elections to truly move ahead as a country. And while no one should be celebrating the death of a man who died of cancer at 58 years old, it’s a bit much that there are people crying and flooding the streets with tears acting as they just lost their parents or love of their life.

    The same man who ran against Chavez in the presidential election last fall, Henrique Capriles, will be at it again, this time facing off against the Vice President, who is now interim president, Nicolás Maduro. My prediction is that Maduro will win the election as the Venezuelan people will ultimately vote to carry on with Chavez style government, but I really do hope people at least look at the alternatives and truly vote for who they believe is the best choice for their country.

    Some people in the opposition in Venezuela think that the constitution has been broken and that Maduro should not have been allowed to be named interim president, and that the constitution says the speaker of the national assembly should have been appointed. In my opinion though it truly doesn’t matter. They are all friends of Hugo Chavez, so who cares ? The opposition needs to unite and put up a hell of a fight to take these guys out if they really want to bring change…. who is going to be the president up until the elections on April 14 really shouldn’t matter.

    As long as the rules of democracy are followed, the rest of the world will have to accept the results of the presidential election in Venezuela next month. And any country that goes out of it’s way to speak against whoever is elected president, and that chooses to avoid having relations with Venezuela just because they aren’t happy with who the leader is will just be stubbornly ruining some great trade benefits which could be beneficial to both countries, and I think that would just show stupid leadership.

    There will always be leaders around the world that make the news for whatever reason, but all these countries are being led by adults, and instead of name calling and bickering, they have to find out ways to work together and have good relations for the benefit of their peoples and the world in general. Unless someone is truly a dictator and oppressing their people and truly posing a threat to the world, then there is no reason why two countries can’t have good relations.

    So my ultimate point, Chavez was no hero, and he was certainly overstayed his welcome in Venezuela, and his death provides the Venezuelan people with a chance to move their country in a different direction if they choose. However, he was not some murderous dictator either and reading some of the editorials and articles about his death really had me shaking my head. Some people seem to like to demonize anyone they truly don’t agree with, and that’s just going way overboard.

     And while other countries have concerns about the government in Venezuela, it is ultimately the decision of the Venezuelan people who runs their country, and the rest of the world has to accept that decision…. whether they like it or not. And just because people have different ideologies from leaders from other countries doesn’t mean they still can’t have good relationships !

    The truth is that while Hugo Chavez was wrong in his attempt to try and hold on to power no matter what, he clearly did some good things in Venezuela, and the rest of the world has to accept that a lot of his people truly admired that man… and he clearly died being more admired than a lot of other politicians are in the world. And while we may not agree with what he did in Venezuela or his style of politics, we have to respect the fact that a lot of people in his own country truly appreciated that man.

    For the next question:

    What are your thoughts on the passing of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez ? Do you think the media has overreacted in terms of the person he was, or was he every bit as bad as so many people from outside of Venezuela have said ?

    I will leave you all with some pictures that I took from Teotihuacán, the pyramids and ruins in the state of Mexico. Take care and I’ll talk to you all on Thursday, bye for now.

  • Report # 979

    Hey everyone, I hope that the week has gone well for you all. It’s 5:30 am as I start to write this and I’m in the airport in Mexico City waiting to board my flight back to Vancouver which will leave at 6:40 am. The last couple of days here in Mexico have been super busy but very enjoyable. I woke up at around 9:30 am on Wednesday morning in Monterrey and I went to Fundidora Park one last time.

    I took more pictures of the park, even though by now I’m sure I have close to 1000, and I returned to the steel museum that I went to with my friend on Sunday. This time I had my camera, so I was able to enter and do a quick tour and take many photos. Of course the best part of the museum is going up in the elevator lift to the top of the old steel factory and seeing an amazing view of the city. It wasn’t super clear like it was when I was there on Sunday, but it was pretty close.

    After walking around up top for about 10-15 minutes I headed down, exited the museum and exited Parque Fundidora for the last time, at least for some time….. though I hope not too long. I just had lunch at Carl’s Jr. as it was super close and I didn’t want to head out and walk more to find a place to eat. I had lunch and returned home after 1:00 pm. I uploaded all of my photos to Facebook and then I quickly washed a few of my things, ensuring I was leaving Monterrey with nothing but clean clothes.

    It took a long time to pack my suitcase, but it’s around 22 kg (48 pounds) and I wanted to fit everything in decently. My friend Arturo who was supposed to come and pick me up at 4:20 pm, called me half an hour before saying that he wasn’t able to make it at that time and that it would be a better idea to take a taxi. I thanked him for telling me, though I wasn’t too happy that he just called me 30 minutes before he was supposed to arrive. Otherwise I could have taken the metro for a ways and only paid around 180 pesos for the taxi instead of close to 400 pesos (32 dollars).

    Luckily there was a taxi passing outside right away and I didn’t have to walk 15 minutes with my heavy luggage to find a taxi. The traffic was a bit slow at times, but overall it wasn’t too bad, and we arrived at 5:00 pm, two hours before my flight to Mexico City was to leave, so it worked out well. I had half a sub from Subway and used the computer for a while before boarding the plane. The flight to Mexico City from Monterrey is very quick, taking less than an hour and a half. I thought I was going to arrive at 8:30 pm, but I believe it was quite a bit earlier.

    After arriving at the airport I got my luggage and just used the internet for a while as I waited for my friend Karina and her mom to pick me up. I told Karina where I was by text and I headed outside and her mom passed for us in her car and we headed off. We drove to an Italian restaurant to have dinner and it was a wonderful meal. I had four cheese soup and pasta with chicken.

    Afterwards I was absolutely stuffed, but we were all ordering dessert, so I ordered a dessert pizza with fruit and cream cheese. I really wasn’t thinking when I ordered it, but pizza meant pizza, and they weren’t joking. They literally gave me a full plate dessert pizza that really appeared like a second dinner aside from a dessert. I believe it was definitely something meant for two or three people to share ! I ate half the pizza and saved the rest for the morning.

    Karina’s mom paid for dinner and that was very nice of her. She was super nice the whole time and definitely one of the nicest people I have met before. She told me that I would be welcome back and was just very friendly with me. It’s great to know there are still such wonderful people in the world. By the time we got home it was around midnight, and I had to lug me huge suitcase up four levels of stairs, but it really wasn’t too hard. After eating so much it was a good workout !

    I stayed up and talked to Karina for a bit, but we were both super tired so we went to bed pretty soon. I got up around 8:15 am on Thursday morning and Karina and I walked across the streets to buy licuados which are like healthy drinks with fruit and honey and milk as well for those who want it. I think I had something with strawberry, papaya and honey, and I really enjoyed it. After heading back to the house and having a shower, I finished off my dessert pizza for breakfast and then we were off for an exiting day.

    We took a few of the metro lines to get to the bus station and we arrived there very fast. It’s really amazing how many metro lines there are in Mexico City…. enough to make most other cities in the world seem like small towns. By the time we arrived at the bus station and made it up to the counter, we found out the next bus to Teotihuacan,  the ruins in Mexico State that we wanted to go and see was leaving in five minutes. I quickly went to the bathroom and we got on the bus, and in less than an hour we arrived.

    Karina had visited the ruins before, but not for 13 years, so it was definitely time for her to see them again. I really enjoyed the scenery around the ruins as there were many cool trees, cactuses, and aloe vera plants, as well as mountains in the distance. The ruins were absolutely incredible and I enjoyed them so much. Getting to climb all of the steps was a challenge, but it was definitely worth it as the view was amazing. And just being able to see something so historical, which I hadn’t seen in a long time was very cool.

    After climbing the first pyramid Karina and I walked almost a kilometer to head to the museum which was very interesting. There were many cool artifacts and models of the civilization that had lived here so many years before. I embarassed myself in one of the rooms as we were walking on a glass floor above a display of the civilization and I touched the rail and I got such a shock I kind of yelled. Luckily after that jolt of electricity I didn’t have another shocking experience.

    We exited the museum and rested for a while and then made our way to the second pyramid, which was the huge one. I loved seeing all of the people from around the world. There were some tourists from France, Spain, Colombia, Argentina, the US, maybe Canada, places in Asia, and two guys who were filming some sort of documentary video with their ipad….. we knew they were from some European country, speaking a language somewhat like Russian, but we weren’t sure.

    There were also some tourists who were not super smart. One lady was trying to go up the pyramids in high heels, another in flip flops, and a couple had scaled up and down the pyramid carrying a baby which only appeared to be just a few months old…. if that. I even heard other people comment on how bad of an idea it was. When we got halfway up the huge pyramid, I noticed I was able to walk all around, so I walked around and took some pictures.

    When I got back Karina was wondering where I was and was telling me that a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers named “Flea” was there. Apparently I had seen him before, a guy wearing a Los Angeles Lakers cap, though seeing as I have no idea what the people in the Red Hot Chili Peppers look like, I never would have had any idea. I didn’t see anyone else say anything either, so I think Karina was the only one who recognized the guy.

    We finished climbing the pyramid, and Karina, who had talked with the Flea guy before while I was going around the pyramid asked if she could take a picture with him. He said that he doesn’t like to take photos, and shook her hand and said nice to meet you and he was off. I thought the whole thing was very odd, but I guess some people really don’t like photos. I guess since the Red Hot Chili Peppers had a concert in Mexico City the previous night they wanted to tour some places.

    We scaled down the pyramid after relaxing and taking some pictures and then we made our way to the last pyramid which we were both kind of happy that it was only possible to scale up halfway. We made out way up and I took a picture of some girls from Asia, and after relaxing for a while we made our way down and walked back to the area where the buses drove back to Mexico City.

    The ruins were absolutely amazing and I would recommend them to any person in the world. Only someone with a serious lack of cultural and historical interest would not enjoy Teotihuacan… the place is incredible in every sense of the word. Luckily we didn’t have to walk all the way back to where we had started and it was just a short walk. The buses were super convenient and we didn’t have to wait on the way there or the way back.

    I’m not too sure if I fell asleep on the bus ride back to Mexico City, but I definitely closed my eyes the majority of the way and if I wasn’t sleeping I was pretty close. We got back to the bus station downtown and we took a taxi to Liverpool where I went to buy a new wallet. After seven years, and my sporty wallet from 2006 looking like complete garbage, it was time to buy a new one.

    It certainly wasn’t cheap, as I bought a Nautica wallet for like 1,200 pesos (almost $ 100) I certainly can’t complain though as if this wallet last me another seven years like the last one, it will be a bargain. It only took me about 2 minutes to choose a wallet and the sales woman was saying how guys don’t really care too much and are super quick with those types of things.

    Afterwards we went to Johnny Rockets to buy some dinner for Karina’s mom and then we sat down on the bench and waited and I happily threw my old wallet in the garbage as well as some cards and pieces of paper that I definitely wouldn’t need. Having four empty Tim Horton’s cards really serves no purpose aside from filling up space, so I threw three of them in the garbage and just kept the one with the picture I liked the best, with the snowman. Karina’s mom came and picked us up and we got back to her place very quickly.

    Karina and I walked to a pastry place to buy some pieces of cake, and while we checked to see if there were frappuichinos, it was kind of late, and the people in the two places we went to had already shut down their frappe machines. The guy in the second store didn’t even seem too interested in serving anyone as we waited for five minutes, and his phone even rang and he still didn’t come out. I was joking that it must have been self serve. We headed home and ate our cake and talked with Karina’s mom for a while and then went to watch movies.

    First we watched Speed, which I had never actually seen, though it was definitely a good movie. I don’t know if I’ll see Speed 2 though as Karina basically told me it sucked ! Afterwards we saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I always wanted to see. At that point I was super tired and I don’t know if I was able to process such a complex movie fully, but I really enjoyed it, and I hope they will make movies out of the other books…… all though I can say I’ve never read any of the books, which isn’t surprising since I only seem to read newspapers and articles on the internet.

    The 2nd movie didn’t finish until just before 2:00 am, and by the time I did my online check-in and prepared for the morning, it was 2:10 am before I got to bed. This is a late hour to sleep on any day, but later than ever when you have to get up at 3:45 am. I woke up in the morning and quickly put together my suitcase and carried my super heavy bag down the stairs where the taxi that Karina requested the night before awaited me. I said good-bye to Karina and thanked her for everything and headed off to the airport.

    I got to the airport super fast, in like less than 20 minutes as there was obviously no traffic on the road at 4:00 am, though by the time I got to the Air Canada line, there were actually quite a few people ahead of me. It wasn’t a big deal as I would have had to wait anyways by the gate, so it’s ok that it took like an hour to get my bag checked in and boarding pass.

    I had such a wonderful time in Mexico City and it was great to spend time with Karina and meet her mom as well who was amazingly nice as I said before. It’s such an amazingly worldly city that I would need so much more time there to truly see everything. And technically yesterday the ruins we went to were in the State of Mexico, so I didn’t actually explore Mexico City anymore in my day there, though we did walk downtown for a bit yesterday evening.

    If everything goes well with the visa I hope to make it back to Mexico soon, and I’ll definitely be wanting to visit Karina again and spend more time in Mexico City. It’s a city I would recommend to anyone as there is so much culture and history, restaurants from all over the world, very cool trees, and it’s just a super cool place. I was telling Karina the only thing I don’t like about Mexico City is the traffic, but with it being such a metropolis that is not too surprising !

    On the plane home I watched The Hunger Games, another movie I had been wanting to see. It was certainly an interesting type of film and I enjoyed it…. makes me wonder if the world could ever really be like that. I had an omelette with some fruit and bread that was served on the plane, and for airplane food I really couldn’t complain. As far as I’m concerned Air Canada has done everything they can to make almost a six hour flight feel super short.

    There is food, and drink and snack service, tons of movies to choose from, and music as well on the online entertainment system, so flying has really improved over the years. I watched about an hour of the Golden Compass, but the plane arrived, so I’ll have to finish watching that movie in the near future. The plane arrived in Vancouver 8 minutes early and I was able to pass through the customs and get my bag fairly quickly. In fact I’m here waiting for my dad right now as he told me he would probably be another half an hour as he was caught up in some construction.

    As I type this up it says Vancouver is 9 C. (48 F) It’s actually really nice sitting outside and typing this up as I haven’t felt much cool air in the last couple of months…. though I certainly won’t forget the 3 or 4 days in Monterrey in January where I was freezing without heat ! It’s exciting to be back home and to be able to see everyone and the pets as well. I will have a lot of things to figure out in terms of what I’ll be doing in the next couple of weeks, but I’m hoping I get an answer on the visa super soon as that would make my future a lot simpler and much clearer.

    There is much I could talk about today, the death of Hugo Chavez, International Woman’s Day, or what on earth I’ll be doing in the next week, but this entry is long enough, so I’ll have to save those posts for the future. For the next question:

    What is one place in the world that you really want to go that you haven’t had the opportunity to see yet ?

    I will leave you all with my final set of pictures from Monterrey. Take care and I’ll talk to you all on Monday, bye for now.

  • Report # 978

    Hey everyone, I hope that you’ve all been having a great start to the week. I ended up going to VIPS one more time on Saturday seeing as I went downtown to buy a few things from the market and I was in the area. I bought some cajeta type cookies as well as a Mexican design thing for my mom and afterwards I had lunch and read the paper for a while in the restaurant. I picked up a frappuichino from El Globo later on before heading home.

    On Sunday I met a friend at Fundidora Park and we went to the Horno 3 museum there which is a very cool place within the park that used to be where steel was made for many years. The actual museum is surrounding an old furnace and there is a cool show with lights and sparks as well as a video explaining the history of the steel industry in Monterrey. The coolest part was going up in a lift all the way to the top and having a wonderful view of all of Monterrey.

    Unfortunately I had no idea that we were going to go to this place so I was caught without my camera which really sucked. It was such a sunny and clear day, so I really missed a great opportunity to take some very cool pictures. I sat a table with my friend for a while and we talked for a bit before the show and we were going to get something to eat later on but she had to go as her brother had a car accident and was in the hospital.

    I walked to the metro and headed downtown to quickly stop at Interplaza and pick up some tacos from Buchakas. It was an absolute zoo in there like always so I just wanted to quickly grab the food and get out of there. I headed home and ate and just had a relaxing evening. Before going to bed I watched The Thing, a movie about some scientists who discover an alien space ship under the ice in Antarctica and when the aliens try to get into the humans’ bodies and copy them.

    I saw the original one when I was 11 years old, and there were a lot of parts that reminded me of that movie, so it was very similar. On Monday I woke up around 11:00 am and I had a shower and headed straight to the San Agustin mall to meet a friend for lunch. I had told her that we could meet at the Sirloin Stockade, but after arriving at the mall, walking around for a while, and reading the directory, it became very clear there was no Sirloin Stockade at this mall.

    My friend texted me saying she was there and that she asked and was told there was no Sirloin Stockade as well, so I must have been confused with another mall I went to. I met her in front of Sears and we ended up having lunch in Focaccia. I always enjoy going there, and it was even better this time as we got the lunch special of a main dish, two side dishes and a desert for 99 pesos. (like 8 dollars) And this time they had converted to the coke machines so there were refills.

    We had lunch and talked for a long time and we actually were in the restaurant for four hours ! It’s very rare for me to sit in a restaurant talking to someone for so long, but the time really went by fast. Afterwards we bought some ice cream cones from Helados Sultana. Luckily I remembered how super big their ice cream is, so I only bought a single, and it was still huge. We walked around the mall for a while longer, and around 6:45 pm we decided it was time to head home.

    I hugged my friend good-bye and caught the bus and then took two metro trains and another bus to go to Guadalupe as I had to meet another friend for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Seeing as I’m leaving Monterrey tomorrow I’ve been trying to spend time with everyone and say good-bye. I wasn’t overly hungry, but I wasn’t stuffed either, so I was able to have a plate of sushi and some miso soup. Of course after this meal I was completely full.

    I got home at 10:00 pm, and that finished what was a fun but very long day. I got up today around 10:30 am and went to Fundidora Park to go for a run. I thought about making a stop at the museum again to see if I could head up and take pictures, but it was very cloudy today, so it wouldn’t have been worth it. I will have time to go tomorrow morning, so if it’s clear enough I will go and if not it will have to wait until I’m in Monterrey again in the future.

    It felt a lot fresher outside today because of a big drop in the temperature. Yesterday was 33 C (91 F) and today was only around 23 C (73 F) with a very strong breeze, so it felt really nice today. I came home and had a shower and started to do my laundry one last time and then I headed to the Galerias mall to go to Cinépolis one final time. This time I watched a Mexican movie called Me Late Chocolate, and I really liked it !

    I would say I’ve enjoyed over 75 % of the Mexican movies I’ve seen…. there have only been a couple that I thought were kind of boring, and only really one that I thought was complete trash. So the majority of the movies made in Mexico are actually of great quality and they have such good comedies. I will have to try and keep up and watch them while I’m at home. I still have a telenovela on DVD to watch, so I will start with that after returning home.

    After the movie I had one final taco from Buchackas. It’s interesting after never going there in four months, I went there three times in March, so I really enjoyed it and it was nice to find another good place to eat before leaving. I made a stop at HEB to buy some Mexican coffee for my dad and brother and then I walked home and here I am. So tomorrow evening is my flight to Mexico City and Arturo will drive me to the airport. I’ll have one full day in Mexico City on Thursday and early on Friday morning I will board my plane and return to Vancouver.

    I’ve been reading some very stupid stories about some political happenings that have been going on in Canada and my own province of British Columbia very recently. The senate in Canada is a huge problem and it’s just full of corruption. Senators are completely unelected in Canada, and they are just appointed by the Prime Minister. I remember back in 2006 when he was first elected, the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper talked about really reforming the senate and making it accountable, but seven years later, he has utterly failed in that regard.

    In the past few weeks there have been stories about some senators collecting living allowance money when they probably shouldn’t be, one senator was arrested for domestic violence, and a few others might not even be living in the province they are supposed to be representing. At first the Prime Minister didn’t have a majority in the senate to implement those changes, so he kept appointing people from his own party, and soon he obtained his senate majority.

    Next he didn’t have a majority in the House of Commons, but he achieved that goal with the big election win in May of 2011. So almost two years later and Canada still is stuck with an unelected and unaccountable senate full of corruption. From what I read the Supreme Court of Canada is looking into what would be needed to either make changes to the senate to make it more accountable to Canadians (such as having elections) or to just outright eliminate the senate….. which I think most Canadians would support.

    This will take a long time to have any real answer, but I hope when there is an answer it is a good one. As far as I’m concerned the Prime Minister and his Conservative party have been dragging their feet on this whole issue and they’ve done very little to truly make the positive changes needed that the Canadian people deserve that would give them at least some hope and confidence.

    Ultimately though I think Canadians are fed up with the corruption that has taken place in the senate for so many years, so to suggest anything else other than to eliminate the whole senate altogether would just not be going far enough. I can say after all of the stories I’ve read regarding some of the senators in the last few weeks, I have less confidence in politicians than ever before as well as even less respect.

    Things have gotten so bad I just really don’t blame people for not voting anymore. Almost 40 % of Canadians didn’t even bother voting in the last federal election, and unless politicians start listening to the people more and stop with the lies and corruption, it will be even less in the next one. So in terms of senate reform the Canadian government has failed miserably up until this point.

    While they may one day reach a solution to this, taking over seven years is not acceptable, and the Prime Minister ended up doing exactly what all the previous Prime Ministers did….. appoint their own friends basically. And to think Canadians as a country have it really, really good it just scares me thinking how much more corruption there is in so many other countries in the world, because in Canada it is bad enough !

    Speaking of elections, there will be a provincial election in my province of British Columbia this May, and if the opinion polls are to be believed, the governing party will go down to defeat after 12 years in power. There was some controversy this week as the opposition party released pages of a government plan to try and get more votes in the multicultural community.

    If anyone is more interested of what exactly happened they can check out this article from CBC news: Some of the wording of what was written in the plan has offended some people in the Chinese community, and other communities as well. The opposition party has tried to make people believe that government money was used in this plan, but the government has said it was just a plan and was never started.

    From what I have read some of the wording is kind of offensive to minorities from certain ethnic groups, but the story has been blown out of proportion. It is to be noted the whole plan was released by the party trying to win the next election, so they didn’t do so because they really felt it was wrong or outrageous, they did so because they knew it would make the government look bad and that they could get political points for doing so.

    I’ve read some people calling on the Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, to resign, but that’s just ridiculous. There have already been a few people within the party resign, and I mean I think the government has shown mistakes were made and people have taken responsibility. It was wrong to word the plans the way they did in such a way that made it seem like it was all about making apologies to ethnic voters about sins of the past just to get votes, but it’s politics…. every politician will do something crazy to get votes.

    And I still have no doubt in my mind that the BC Liberal Party will go down to defeat to the New Democratic Party in the May election, so there is no point of the premier resigning now….. she’ll be fired by the voters in two months time anyways. I kind of feel bad for the woman as she hasn’t done a bad job in her two years as premier.

    She’s mainly been cleaning up the trash left by her predecessor, but she has made some bad mistakes as well such as continuing to be a cheer leader for the HST even though it was super clear that the majority of British Columbians hated that tax. So in any event this is just an overblown issue and people can’t be offended that the government had a plan to earn votes…. every government will try to earn votes in some way. The wording was stupid and not overly appropriate, but people are just overreacting !

    Anyways that’s enough politics for a long time again. I’m absolutely sick of the majority of the politicians out there and as I’ve said before I think 90 % of them are really not in it for the right reasons… well now I’m starting to think 95 % of them. I think the problem is that politics shouldn’t be a career profession, it should be something that people who truly believe they have something to offer the people get involved with and stay around for 8-10 years and move on.

    However having people who are politicians for decades, they just lose all touch with reality and become part of the problem and not the solution they probably wanted to be part of when they first came aboard. And until people understand that politics should just be a temporary job truly about making a positive difference within the communities, cities, and countries people live in, things will not change and the whole business will continue to be clouded with corruption. For the next question:

    What issues are going on in your area right now that are truly frustrating you ? What do you think possible solutions are to fix these lingering problems ?

    I wish everyone all of the best. Take care and I’ll talk to you all on Friday, bye for now.

    Sources: Senate abolition debated in the House of Commons. March 5, 2013 By Andy Radia. Canada Politics.

    Leaked documents reveal Liberals’ plan to win ethnic vote. February 27, 2013

  • Report # 977

    Hey everyone, I hope that you’ve all been having a great weekend so far. After going for my run on Wednesday I came home and had a shower and headed to the Galerias mall to go to Cinépolis and watch Gangster Squad. It wasn’t a movie that I wanted to see too badly but seeing as there wasn’t really anything else on I went to see it and overall I thought it was a pretty good action movie. I had some dinner after at a place in the food court, and like usual after having all of that popcorn and food I was stuffed.

    On Thursday I went for a run in the morning and came home and booked my flight back to Vancouver. I’ll be arriving back in Vancouver at 10:35 am on Friday, March 8 so I think that is just a wonderful time to get back. Seeing as I didn’t want to have to fly back to Texas and wait around in an airport there for a few hours before getting home I wanted a direct flight to Vancouver, so I chose a flight out of Mexico City.

    Last night I booked a flight to Mexico City for March 6, so I will be able to spend some time with a friend there and quickly see the city again before heading home. I checked my visa process online yesterday evening, and there was still no news, so unless I get an answer in the next week, I’ll be heading home without a resolution. I’ve done all I can do though so I will just have to head home and be patient and hope for the best.

    I went to VIPS on Thursday afternoon and had some tortilla soup and pasta and enjoyed my 50 % discount. I thought that would be the last time I’d head to VIPS before I go back home, but I think I’ll be going again today as I have to head downtown and pick up a few things. After lunch on Thursday I walked to El Globo and picked up a frappuichino. I’ve always enjoyed their frappes as they are so thick with tons of mocha and chocolate. It will definitely be good to be able to have a Tim Hortons Ice Cap again in a week though !

    On Friday I ran once again though it wasn’t an easy run as I had some bad cramps. I can’t remember the last time I had cramps like that while I ran so it was a bit uncomfortable. I toughed it out and eventually the pain went away mostly and I was able to finish my run. It’s amazing how easy it is to lose my time. Most days I have been running about three minutes slower than I was running before going to Texas. Those 11 days in a row without running and being sick really took a toll on me, and I’m still trying to get back to the level I was at less than a month ago.

    I went to Cinépolis again on Friday, this time seeing Parker, an action movie with Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez. It’s always funny seeing Jennifer Lopez play these roles of some silly woman struggling financially, yet she’s obviously nothing like that in the real world. I suppose one may call it good acting, but I just call it complete fake ! I enjoyed the movie though as it had lots of action and some plot so it was cool. Afterwards I had something to eat from a Mexican place in the food court called Buchakas.

    I had seen the place in various malls over the last few months but I had never tried it before. I had this giant taco (Gringa) which I had from some other places before, but here it was so huge, and it was a mix of pork and beef and melted cheese. I also had some Horchata and rice, and along with the three chocolate chip cookies from Subway later on I was stuffed once again. It will be good to get home and stop going through these crazy eating days !

    The last few nights I’ve seen a bunch of horror type movies. I watched Gone, about a girl who was all paranoid about her sister being kidnapped and the cops didn’t believe her because she’s had some mental problems, and two Robin Williams movies, Insomnia and One Hour Photo. It was surprising to see those movies because Robin Williams always seems to be funny, but in those movies he played bad guys… they were both very good though and I enjoyed them.

    I’ve already been for a run this morning, which makes nine straight days in a row, and I’ll just finish typing this up and commenting everyone and then heading out. As some of you may know, the Catholic Church is in need of a new Pope as Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation a few weeks ago, finishing his term at the end of February. This was pretty surprising news as I read there hasn’t been a Pope that has resigned for almost 600 years. So clearly what has transpired here is a shock to many people around the world who know anything about this sort of thing.

    I can sort of understand his resignation in some ways. The job can’t be too easy, though I’m sure it has its luxurious perks. However the man was 85, almost 86 years old, and he clearly felt that he didn’t have the health or the energy to serve in the manner that was necessary of the Pope. I remember when Pope John II died back in 2005 being very surprised that the man they replaced him with was almost as old as he was… that just didn’t make sense.

    Of course with age there is experience and that would be super important in a job like this, but no one has to be around 80 years old to have lots of experience. This time around I think the Catholic Church needs to find someone at the very least under 70, someone who they could see leading the church for 20 years or so. And while it shouldn’t be expected that the Pope would have to serve until he dies, having someone who could provide longevity would really be an important thing I’d think.

    Now from what I’ve read there are almost 20 people who could be picked, though I’m sure much fewer of those people have a legitimate shot of being chosen. I think this is a great chance for the Catholic Church to show some renewal and pick someone who will not only be different, but more modern, and someone who has the energy and the dedication to take out the garbage. And anyone who doesn’t think there is any trash within the Catholic Church is very naive as there have been various child abuse cases, and I still don’t think this has been properly dealt with.

    All of the religions have their controversies, problems, and sins, but it’s up to the leadership of these religions to take charge and do something about it. I felt that while Pope Benedict was not a bad person, he didn’t have the energy, commitment, or desire to truly investigate the wrong doings within the church and take positive steps to put an end to what was going on and provide some justice and closure on the dark chapter of the church’s history.

    While it was unfair for people to compare this Pope to his predecessor, John Paul II, he certainly didn’t help his cause with his lack of acceptance towards people of different sexualities. And while as someone who is the head of a church, that’s not surprising, but at times I felt he went out of his way to condemn the people who live differently, and with all of the horrific child sexual abuse cases happening in the catholic church and never hearing him do much about that, he just came across as a big hypocrite and someone who was targeting the wrong subjects.

    So I would hope the new Pope that is chosen would be someone with more moderate views, someone who is relatively young by Pope Standards, at least in their 60′s, and from a region other than Europe…. maybe choose the first Latin American Pope, the first black Pope…. there are certainly some great options out there from what I have read.

    Ultimately though it’s not about making history, it’s about choosing the best person for the job, and hopefully with the vote, the right man is chosen and he can get to work immediately and bring some positive changes to the church.

    For the next question:

    What traits should the leader of a religion have ? Is is possible to follow the rules of the religion while modernizing certain beliefs ?

    I will leave you all with some pictures that I took from San Antonio. This will conclude my pictures from Texas, and unless I take some pictures during my short stop in Mexico City, I won’t have any posted for a while. I wish everyone all of the best with everything. Take care and I’ll talk to you all on Tuesday, bye for now.