I Am a Father

When I heard that the Clinton family had added a baby girl as a new addition to their family, I remembered when I first became a father.

Those were the days of anticipation and what the future would bring when starting a new family. Our first child brought pleasure and excitement to our families. I was the first of three to deliver a grandchild to our parents. Those were the days. The sleepless nights, diaper changes, and the most fun initially was the daily bath. My wife was not fond of water so playtime with my infant was bath time. After the bath it was bedtime and I would sing a few repetitive songs as my little sweetheart faded into sleep.

Eventually, we moved into solid baby food and feeding was a messy challenge that continued until she could feed herself. 

Since we both worked, we were able to hire a nanny to take responsibility for the child while we were away. Those were the days. When our first daughter was almost four, we had our second daughter. By this time my wife got used to bathing the new baby and we were sharing the tasks of raising two lovely daughters.

As they grew older we put them into daycare. When they were of school age they started at daycare and were delivered and picked up from school by the daycare. When we finished work, we picked up the girls from the daycare.  Both girls developed good social and communication skills at an early age. I commend the daycare and elementary school for this development.

In 1992 with a 7 year old and a 4 year old my marriage collapsed. As a divorced father, I now only saw my girls weekly.

If you read my earlier blogs you would see that I became a terrible father.  I would miss my day with the girls regularly. The tears in their eyes would leave a lasting impression of the lousy father they had.

I regret those days, but fortunately they had a strong mother and the girls made it through middle school, and then completed high school at the University of Winnipeg. My oldest girl graduated from the U of W’s Public Relations and Management program. She has since moved to British Columbia.  My youngest just completed her Masters in Social Work at U of T and calls Toronto home.

I’ve tried to patch my wrongs with the girls and maybe I have…..or maybe I haven’t. I’m still there for them after all these years, and the communication is positive. They do know who their father is.

If I would have to do it all over again, divorce would be out of the question. After all, I am a father.

I don’t know who wrote the IF CHILDREN (written below) however, I wish I had the chance to read it 30 years ago. In closing, I will share it with you:

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to find love in the world.

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Me playing with my oldest daughter at my parent’s house. Those were the days!

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14 Misconceptions About Winnipeg Part 2

Once again this week I have challenged myself to find a topic for my “Leonard vs Life” blog.  I have decided that since all of my 58 years of life has been spent in Winnipeg, it would be a piece of work to explain what Winnipeg really is. 

Last week I presented 7 points that if improved would help put Winnipeg on the map as a Destination City. Here now are the final 7 points that would make Winnipeg a better place to live, rather than leave.

8. Winnipeg is one of the largest cities in Canada.  Barely. Statistics Canada says: Winnipeg is the 8th largest city in Canada with a population of 771,221 (2013).

Winnipeg has a significant and increasing Aboriginal population, with both the highest percentage of Aboriginal peoples (11.7%) for any major Canadian city, and the highest total number of Aboriginals (76,055) for any single non-reserve municipality.The Aboriginal population grew by 22% between 2001 and 2006, compared to an increase of 3% for the city as a whole; this population tends to be younger and less wealthy than non-Aboriginal residents. Winnipeg also has the highest Métis population in both percentage (6.3%) and numbers (41,005); the growth rate for this population between 2001 and 2006 was 30%. The city has the greatest percentage of Filipino residents (8.7%) of any major Canadian city, although Toronto has more Filipinos by total population. In 2006, Winnipeg ranked seventh of the Canadian cities for percentage of residents of a visible minority. The population is 67.5% white as of 2011 (down from 73.5% in 2006), while non-aboriginal visible minorities represent 21.4% as of 2011 (up from 16.3% in 2006). The city receives over 10,000 net international immigrants per year.

9. The new civic government, which will be elected this October, will be saddled with debt, audits of severe overspending that borders on corruption, and debates over infrastructure and rapid transit just to suggest a few challenges. Questionable planning and urban sprawl has stressed budgets and taxes out of control. 

10. Economic activity is on the rise. NOT.

The city is saddled with limited opportunities for young adults. Many families have been fragmented since after graduating from college or university the kids leave Winnipeg for greener pastures. Both of my daughters have left Winnipeg with no plans of returning. My sister has 2 sons who have also left Winnipeg. This results in slow growth of young educated population and a sliding tax base.

11. Winnipeg has a low poverty level.  NOT.

The number of families and singles living below the poverty level in Winnipeg is stunting it’s growth and in  my opinion the result of limited opportunity.  The busiest days for the economic activity in Winnipeg are limited and predictable. Most families living in poverty have 2 to 5 children.  On or around the 20th of every month Winnipeg comes alive when the Child Tax credit arrives. Shopping for groceries, spending on social activities and taxis are taxed to the limit. Three days later, the money is gone.  At the end of the month the 60,000 or so on Social Service support to get paid. Seniors get their pensions and it’s payday in Winnipeg. For 5 days economic activity spikes, bars and stores are full, taxis are in short supply, and then the money runs out.  Agencies like food banks, and shelters carry the impoverished until the cycle repeats itself. Without the government support Winnipeg would look like Detroit.

12. Winnipeg has a lot of taxi’s.  NOT. 

Compared to other cities Winnipeg has almost half the number of taxis it should. Statistics show a range of 1 taxi for every 600 to 1200 of population in all cities. Winnipeg has 1 taxi for 1750 in population. Considering the demand, we are way out of line.  It’s a little known fact but in 1945 Winnipeg had 300 taxis. I’m 1947 we added 100 cabs to employ war veterans. That brings us up to 400 in 1947. In 2014, Winnipeg has only 410 taxis and 41 accessible taxis. So in 67 years of growth we have only added 51 taxis to the Winnipeg fleet of 451 taxis. 

No coverage for urban sprawl. Hours of waiting at certain times of the day. I could go on but what’s the point? Better take your car to the Airport.  You might have to drink and drive.  Blame the province! Manitoba is the only province to control taxis in a city. In other cities the civic government controls the cabs through a civic taxi commission. It’s time to look at taxis as civic Infrastructure.

13. Civic planning is right on.  NOT

Did it make sense to build a football stadium at the south end of the city?  Did it make sense to move the Red River Exhibition to the West Perimeter?  Does the University of Winnipeg expanding on prime downtown land make for good planning? Why are we wasting so much money on rapid transit? Is Winnipeg really big enough to afford the billions it costs? How come we aren’t building up the downtown to increase density to support downtown as a vibrant community? These are my thoughts and I think you get the message. Civic planning is a FAIL.

14. Finally, as good as the media in Winnipeg reacts to stories that sell, I would like to see a little more effort on focus to create a Winnipeg that works.

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14 Common Misconceptions About Winnipeg Part 1

This week I have challenged myself to find a topic for my “Leonard vs Life” blog.  I have decided that since all of my 58 years of life has been spent in Winnipeg, it would be a piece of work to explain what Winnipeg really is.

1. Winnipeg is one of the largest cities in Canada.  NOT.  Winnipeg is smaller than Toronto, Montreal,  Ottawa, Calgary,  Edmonton and Vancouver.  Those cities have populations in excess of 1.3 million citizens.  Winnipeg, is a slow growth city of only 760,000 residents.

2. Winnipeg has always been a city of urban sprawl.  NOT.  Winnipeg was a small city mostly centrally located around the downtown area until 1971. Before that it was surrounded by many smaller cities; each with their own mayor, council, city hall and police/fire departments. They included the cities of West Kildonan, East Kildonan, Transcona, St. Vital, Fort Garry,  Tuxedo, Charleswood and Brooklands. All of these cities were merged into a Unicity called Winnipeg in 1971.

3. Winnipeg has always been a railroad center.  NOT.  The CPR originally was to be located north of Winnipeg in the City of Selkirk but Winnipeg enticed CPR to locate in Winnipeg by giving them tax free land in the center of the city for rail yards. To this day they are still located in the heart of Winnipeg obstructing growth.

4. Winnipeg has a vibrant nightlife.  NOT. Winnipeg is a weekend city. Most bars and clubs are closed or empty on Monday through Wednesday.  The city will come alive Thursday through Saturday.

5. Winnipeg has a vibrant downtown.  NOT. With the exception of the NHL Jets and the odd concert. The downtown of Winnipeg is empty after dark.  Fear of gangs and personal safety plays a major roll in this phenomenon.  Hardly like big city action.

6. Winnipeg has a large downtown population.  NOT. Although a few thousand residents  live downtown there hasn’t been any major residential development of housing in Downtown Winnipeg since the 70’s.  All major cities have 25 to 100 high-rise condo or apartment complex areas each holding 1000 or more residents. Not Winnipeg. We have subsidized apartment blocks or housing built in the early 1900’s cluttering downtown development. The Waterfront area is the only recent area of downtown development and that is low density.

7. Winnipeg is too cold for homelessness.  NOT.  Winnipeg has a large homeless population, with missions and food banks a major industry.  This has furtherstifled downtown development.

Next week I will conclude with the final 7 misconceptions of my city that I call ‘Little Winnipeg.’

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Up, Up and Away

Finally, after a vacation that took me on a 10 day ride throughout the paradise province of Canada,  British Columbia. I am in awe, from the mountains and valley’s of Pemberton and Whistler,  to Vancouver and the hustle of Granville Island market. From the suburb of Coquitlam to the quiet coastal playground of the wealthy at Deep Cove, suddenly I’m at the amazing Vancouver airport, climbing aboard the Westjet, for the flight back home to Winnipeg.

Now I’m in a position that I’ve never been in. After 17 years of living in hotels or communal rooming houses, I’m coming home without a home.

I’m not homeless. During my holiday I had no fixed address. I moved out of my hotel room of 8.5 years which was across from a former employer and began my vacation.  During that time, I took possession of an 8th floor apartment in a quiet Winnipeg suburb. 

When I arrived back in Winnipeg, I had no keys, no furniture and no food. That was on September 3rd. Since I lived in communal homes of sorts since 1996, I had to start with nothing.  I owned the clothes on my back plus and a few possessions that I had stored in my father’s garage.

I had previously purchased all my new furniture and made arrangements to get set up and delivery for September 5th. For the first time in 40 years I was back at my childhood home with my parents who are in their 80’s, and still fully active seniors.  I spent 2 nights with them just a few blocks from my new digs until my delivery.

On the morning of September 5th,  I was dropped by the apartment block that contained the 8th floor studio suite that was to be home. The cable guy hooked me up with the  HD and Wifi.  The furniture delivery soon followed. 

Once again my life had changed for the better. Being disabled with limited mobility, I am unable to crawl on the floor to assemble the furniture kits. My 85 year old father was a godsend.  He worked with me for a few hours and without him I would still be trying to assemble that TV Stand.  Amazing man, amazing father.  We got it done.

Since I’m not driving, my father volunteered to take me to shop for all the accessories and groceries needed to call my new place a home.

It’s done. I have all the extras  and I just have one more shopping trip to tie up the loose ends. The cost was almost $4000.  Seems like a lot of loot but being disabled and on a pension at 58 years old, I have a benefit of subsidized housing that keeps my 8th floor rent at only $302 per month.  I should be able to recover my investment in 6 months just in rent savings alone.

It’s exciting to finally after all these year’s close another chapter of Leonard vs Life, and start a new chapter.  Up, Up, and Away from the transient society that I was part of since 1996.

Finally, I’m home.

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Facebook & Twitter Limits

Firstly I am still trying to figure out why the word “Status” is used on Facebook to post.  The word status doesn’t fit most posts however, that’s not the issue.

I received a call from a friend informing me that I was posting too much about the Middle East and it’s various war’s. I was doing too much for my friends comfort.  So what? I don’t complain about my friends regular posting of family pictures of grandchildren, wives,  and family.  It’s very nice and some people enjoy those posts.  

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Some people enjoy my news related posts.  Just as much, as a matter of fact.  Then we have the the jokes, cartoons, recipes,  favourite restaurants and whatever.  If you Like a post, hit Like.  If you want to comment, make a comment.  That’s Facebook and unlike Twitter there are no limits.  If you just don’t want to see someone post then unfriend them. SIMPLE.

On Twitter the issues are different. Very few twits actually tweet. Many twits retweet and act like a baby more in a tweet.

I tweet globally, locally and nationally.  My favourite subjects are dependent on where I’m tweeting but I’m an opinionated in all events. I’ll start with a retweet or reply and try to get debates going on my subject matter that I enjoy.

It seems that I get more action on the global side. The local politics in my city of Little #Winnipeg is harder to get twits tweeting. Winnipeg has always been a little backwards. Tweets are mostly complaints about infrastructure, etc…

Twitter will not allow you to follow more than 2000 twits unless your followers exceed that number by 5%. That is a random number and not really correct if you are looking internationally for a following. As such the follow trains are useless. 

Anyways, Facebook and Twitter,  I am what I am and I love the action. Keep it up and don’t whine! 

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Holiday Time

This week I’ll be vacationing in the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada. After five days in the shadow of Mount Currie, in Pemberton with my daughter Blair and her main man Shayne, I’ll be back in Coquitlam, BC. visiting my brother and his family. Coquitlam is just south of Vancouver. I’ll be back to blog next week.

At that time, I will be reviewing my experiences with Facebook and Twitter and asking questions about types and volumes of posts. Please return next Monday.

My daughter took these pictures (the first is me on the bus to Pemberton going over the Lionsgate Bridge and the second is me on the airplane from Winnipeg to Vancouver):

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The Moving Vacation

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This week I’m stumped. I have so much on my mind that I’m having a writers block. Being in the process of moving, with the pleasant interruption of a 10 day vacation in the middle of the move, has caused me minimal stress.

Can you imagine packing up before August 25th because you are moving on September 1st but that you’ll be on a vacation until the 4th of September? Now that the plot is revealed, add a twist of 17 years of living in furnished rentals, and now we need to purchase a whole studio suite of furniture, for delivery when returning from vacation.

AND to add to that, the need for short term storage which is enough on one’s mind to interrupt your thought process on blogging.

Oh, there is MORE:  My arrival back home is at Midnight. I have no furniture, so it’s a sleep on the floor until delivery the next day.

I live in Winnipeg and I’ll be on vacation in Vancouver and the Whistler/Pemberton area with family. British Columbia is the paradise of Canada and I’m looking forward to the 10 days there with family.

Well, that’s this week’s episode and I’m sticking to it. 

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The Iron Dome

 

A couple months ago I was posting on Facebook and Twitter about the Genocide (ethnic cleansing) that was occurring in Syria. I would post about ISIS or ISIL. The response was excellent from the Arab world. Here in America and Canada, nobody even stopped to read the writing on the wall.

A month ago, when Hamas started up with the rocket fire into Israel, the whole world media, social and otherwise, jumped on the bandwagon and vilified the Israelis for killing women and children. All Israel was doing was returning fire or defending itself.

Israel would warn the civilian population of Gaza by roof knocking, pamphlets and phone calls of an attack and advise evacuation.

Meanwhile back in Syria and Iraq ISIS was slaughtering 100’s of civilians all day and a very day. The media still didn’t get it. Total deaths in the 500,000 range and not a peep from the media.

Meanwhile back in Israel, the IDF had purchased a Patriot missile system from the USA years before but It’s accuracy was only about 75%. Not good enough. So Israel developed a highly improved system of rocket defense and called this system the Iron Dome.

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The accuracy of the Iron Dome is set at 93%. It was developed in conjunction with the USA who may need to USE IT IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

After thousands of rockets had been fired into Israel with little effect and just a few deaths and injuries, Hamas was ready to ceasefire and regroup.

The Iron Dome is being developed to eliminate ICBM long range missiles, and a laser system to knock mortars out of the air is in Beta test mode. If the free world ever needs defense. Israel best be your Friend.

Meanwhile, the truth about Gaza and the UN is finally hitting the media. The wasted money on tunnels, the UN schools as missile storage depots, etc…

Now, why all of the sudden the interest in Iraq? Christians and Shea being slaughtered by the 1000s. Killed and overrun by ISIS with American weapons taken from the American trained Iraqi forces.

Remember that ISIS is a Sunni group dedicated to creating a Sunni Muslim nation under Sharia law.

ISIS IS THE ISLAMIC STATE SOMETIMES CALLED ISIL which means Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Levant includes Israel. It also includes Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and North Africa. The focus now is on the Kurdish and other minorities. The future does not look good and the American people have offered too little too late.

Israel can take care of itself. It has the Iron Dome and other surprises. It remains the only true democracy in the middle east. Common sense and the vision of Muslims killing Muslims should define the real enemy of the free world.

 

My Twitter Life

In 2009 I opened a Twitter account. I never started using it until 2013. Until then my social networking experience was strictly Facebook, with friends and family. After posting pictures or posts and liking or sharing the posts of others, I found that FB was not enough to satisfy my thirst to communicate with a wide variety of people with similar tastes (I have a lot to say).

After a while I took the plunge and began to watch Twitter and began reviewing the bios of it’s users. Since I loved the news, especially: political issues, social issues, and current world issues that would have an effect on all of global society, I found Twitter a perfect global fit.

I could also mix in some humor, wisdom, and retweet the the news from others. Because of the multi-generation nature of Twitter, I was able to balance my content for demographic, time of day, and topics of interest to my followers.

I tried that follow back trick. That was a bust. Good for the kids. Not for me. I am satisfied with earning my follower. I have a balance of retweeters, debaters, and acknowledged tweets via favorites.

I love to express informed opinions and debate, with respect, those subjects that are challenged. The biggest problem is to separate local tweets from the global ones. I follow the media, both local (Winnipeg/Canada) and international. I’ve noticed that very few media types follow the average guy. For example: Follow 600 Followers 60000. Some media do in fact leave their ego at the door and follow the average citizen as well as their peers and political hacks.

Recently, Twitter stopped offering the Bing translation features. I had to build my own app to translate those with whom I debate across the world. That is an inconvenience, but I’m sure there is good reason for this. I also can’t understand why Twitter allows this 1 page followback team Tweets. One page or even 2 inches of space is over 140 characters in real terms, and also annoying. That is my biggest beef about the Twitter App. (I only use Twitter on my phone).

The other types of users are during the kiddie hours, people who hardly tweet, tweets of pop stars without clothes and other pseudo porno. These features must be popular because of the 399,000 followers for this demographic.

I tweet a little for all ages during various hours. Each demographic has a prime time. I spend about 6 hours a day with Twitter and try to provide valid and valuable tweets to my followers. I look forward to the retweeters and the following that it come with.

Twitter, you’ve been good to me.

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Moving on Up!

In 2001 I stopped working as a Manager at Convergys, which was a contact center with 2000 employees in Winnipeg. After the tragedy on 9/11 in New York I decided to resign and started driving a taxi for a friend.

The owner of the company needed a Dispatcher so he suggested that I drive weekends and dispatch for him during the week. Done. After a couple years my friend left the taxi business to drive a truck (and moved to Quebec).

What happened next was that I was hired full time as the night Manager/Dispatcher. We started building this taxi company and by 2005 we nearly doubled the size of the fleet.

It was suggested that I move across the street from the taxi company into the Hotel. I was now on call from 5pm to 7am and had to be nearby in case of emergency.

So, on my 50th birthday I moved into this hotel, subsidized by the company. I started a new life experience. Now, living in a hotel has its pros and cons. This place had a wild bar, restaurant with good food and only 5 monthly tenants, mostly hotel staff.

Since I worked nights, I aways missed the drinking and drug parties. I also missed the fights and arguments that happened at bar closing time. I slept the day away, and for a single man, the space was adequate and fully equipped.

Over the last 8.5 years the hotel has been sold three times. Now on it’s 4th owner, more changes are coming. The bar is being converted to a Gentleman’s Club. The bar will feature non-stop strippers and a few rooms have been set aside to be rented by the hour

Although I can remain here, the cost has increased. I’m on a disability pension and no longer work. Why live in what will surely become a strip joint/brothel?

I got lucky. A friend of mine called me and suggested I apply at his apartment block because an opening was coming on September 1. That block is exactly in the suburb I grew up in and is located next door to everything. This 55 plus block is subsidized and because of my age and disability, I qualify. I raced to the block tò check out the suite at the top and went to fill the application. Thanks to connections to the blocks owners I was able to secure approval for September 1 possession!

My rent will drop to less than half of what it costs me in this hotel. Finally after 9 years of core city living. I’m moving on up to the 8th floor!

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