The State of Terry 2014 – A Unique Year

(This is more of a personal musing on a life overly lived this past year. It may be of interest, it may not. But in the end, it’s an insight into the life of a quirky lover of Calgary.)

Wow. As of Oct 15, I’ve spent 44 yrs. on this dusty ol’ planet of ours. 44 years where I got to see my waistline go from 0 to an astounding 48 and settle on 34. 44 yrs where I had to live with the knowledge of the lives I’ve saved, failed to, and outright lost through tragedy and simple fate. And 44 yrs to see my life evolve once more from someone who served a few to one who found a new path to help. Oh, and 44 yrs where I learned to write in overly sentimentalist terms.

Ok, enough with the maudlin style of writing. Overly poetic and melodramatic, though the practice would help me get a job scripting the next Thor movie.

Struggling to keep the pants away... (with Kyle MacQuarrie, pic by Neil Zeller)

Struggling to keep the pants away… (with Kyle MacQuarrie, pic by Neil Zeller)

Now let’s see, I turned 44 last week. I’ve helped raise over $40K directly for charity in the last 18 months, and highlighted the Calgary food scene. I’ve left the Investigation business to become a Social Media Manager, and apparently a pretty decent food event creator as well. I’m well regarded in several social media circles, both locally and internationally, and even had a chance to highlight old media skills once more. More importantly, I did this all while wearing pants most of the time.

In this time, I’ve come to enjoy my new position as a surrogate father to a gay son (go Terry… so proud of you) and a daughter that reminds me an awful lot of her late mom. Dragon boat paddling is still my passion in sports, though as the years go by I’ve started to see that my final years of competition are upon me as my back isn’t what it used to be. I’ve seen some great restaurants come up, and met far more interesting people. What I have found though…

- I’ve definitely become a militant atheist. As per my prior posts, I’ve found that the ongoing hypocrisy of organized religion is a far bigger problem than a support. I’m basically burning my political future with this statement, but I would rather be known as being true to my lack of belief than to mollify the sensitivities of theists;

- I have so much to learn about being a dad of a LGBT kid. I’m trying though. I’m trying. It’s amazing what that sort of insight has done to my worldview, and I refuse to ever be quiet about their rights ever again as I was during my theist days. If anyone else wants to give me some advice, I’d love to know.

- For that matter, I have so much to learn about being a dad of a 19 yr old daughter. In the almost 2 years we’ve gotten back together, she’s had 1 fiance, then a husband, was pregnant, then not, and still managed to succeed in law school. And that’s before I even get to all of the little lessons I’ve been discovering about the mindset of a girl. I always wanted a daughter of my own. Now that I do, I love and cherish her indeed, but I have to admit that it’s been a heck of a roller coaster ride.

- The year to come will be a critical year in terms of special plans and personal growth. If you thought YYC Burger Week and YYC Pizza Week was impressive, keep an eye out. This is LITERALLY the start.

- A year since the YYC Floods, I love my home city ever more.

So where is this post going? I’m really not quite sure myself right now, as when I normally write I do have a tale in mind. Did I learn anything? Probably. Was it anything useful? Probably not. But what I can say… I’m surprised by the numbers of people who I’m proud to call my friends, my family and most importantly, the travellers who follow my path and dreams along the way.

For that, I thank you all. And I’ll hopefully see you all soon. Cheers.

Cheers.

Cheers.

 

From Terry’s PI Files : The Sleeping Baby

Newborn kids are always a bit of a nightmare for parents of any sort. There’s the crying, the diapers, the feeding, the burping, and on and on and on… it’s a chase to keep up with a tiny little carbon based machine that does nothing that burp, poops and eats.  Sure they’re cute, but the act gets old really fast. It’s no small wonder that a lot of parents, especially the parents involved in busy office jobs, bring in armies of nannies from overseas to help.

Sleeping peacefully and safely...or is he?

Sleeping peacefully and safely…or is he?

Tell me if you heard this one, a single busy mother brings in a nanny from overseas. She’s just finishing her maternity, and is understandably worried that her baby might get abused or hurt by this new stranger living in her home. She still takes a leap of faith, and lets things go on for a few weeks, and surprisingly, everything seems to go well. But soon enough, her suspicions kicks in as her young son is always dead asleep every afternoon when she gets home with no variation at all. Still, everything seems fine, 

That’s where I was brought in. She came to my office, not knowing exactly what she wanted to know. Really, all she needed was some comforting to see that her baby was being treated like gold. So, clock radio camera in hand and a few other choice items, I soon had my client’s home ready and set for an observation.

From KJBSecurity.com, a selection of Hidden Cameras Available for the home

From KJBSecurity.com, a selection of Hidden Cameras Available for the home

Camera one was in the nursery, two in the kitchen and a third in the living room, all the hot spots where you’d expect activity to occur. I would have added another in the bathtub, but privacy issues for the client and the nanny prevented that understandably.

It really didn’t take long. The following day, the camera system recording a day in the life of the busy household. There was feeding, burping, barfing, crying, giggling and more, all as expected in the main feeds from the living room and nursery. But it was the kitchen camera that was unusual. While preparing the afternoon feeding, the nanny had grabbed a droplet and poured something into the milk. It was pretty unusual behavior, and I followed up quickly by showing my client the video.

Did you know that most people only start to develop any sort of resistance to alcohol until their teens? That’s why it takes as little as a thimble full of cognac to knock out a kid. But a baby? Only a few drops of relatively odorless vodka is needed. And guess what had been added to the child’s milk every day for weeks?

Evidence in hand, the client pressed criminal charges immediately. All sorts of hi jinks came about and once the debris had settled, the nanny in question opted to return back to her home country and be banned from returning to get a suspended sentence. 

Any lesson from this? No one expects the Spanish Inquisition? Cameras save lives? There are so many things you can take from it, but all I can say is that I’m relieved that the little boy, now 5 yrs old, seems to have recovered with no ill effects.

Terry’s Old PI Files – The First Wife Stalker

One of my first cases was probably one of the simplest ones I’ve ever been involved in, but easily the most memorable.

Frustration... but who's at fault?

Frustration… but who’s at fault?

A woman walked into my office and stated that her husband was being incredibly unfaithful. There was quite a story after, but it still boiled down to infidelity and wanting proof for divorce hearings. After explaining my pricing, she opted to just put a GPS tracker on the family car, so she could always find his whereabouts.

The GPS Tracker

The GPS Tracker

That was that. I thought that would be the last of this, but it’s interesting where circumstances falls in the strangest places. About a week later, a fellow walks in and tells me about the week from hell he’d been in. You see, he was separated from his insanely jealous wife, and had started to build a life for himself. He had a new bachelor pad, social friends and more importantly, a new girlfriend. But suddenly, his soon-to-be-ex wife was showing up everywhere he and his girl went. They could be in a picnic in the woods, there she would be. A public restaurant? There the wife would be in the next booth. He even saw her trying to find him in a movie theatre during the show! Needless to say, he really wasn’t quite thrilled.

Equally Frustrated... but why?

Equally Frustrated… but why?

When he told me when the timing as well, the proverbial lightbulb magically clicked on above me. My heart kinda sank as I was absolutely sure that his wife was the lady last week, but what to do? I couldn’t explain that his wife had probably bought a GPS tracker from me. So, girding myself for possible discovery, I sat him down and explained that someone may have put a GPS tracker onto his vehicle. We went through the defense options, and in the end, he opted to buy a special Radio Frequency detector that could find such GPS devices.

All was well in the world again… or so I thought. A week passed by, and I honestly put this whole affair out of my mind. Strange how when you’re right, fate seems to always want to have a hand with the joke!

The original woman who came in, and asked for my help again! You see, the tracker had done it’s job too well, and she was always able to find her “wayward” husband. She was able to prove he was “cheating”, but then suddenly she noticed her husband started going back and forth to Edmonton. So one day, she started to follow the signal for a full day, only to find out she was following a GREYHOUND bus. She didn’t know what else to do, but we chatted for awhile after…. (what happened later is another tale)

Catch the Greyhound!

Catch the Greyhound!

Not long after, I received a phone call from the gent, who told me that he DID find a GPS device and attached it to a bus out of town. He was pretty sure that was the problem, because he had 3 days of uninterrupted peace and quiet from his wife. Needless to say, I found the whole thing amusing.

So what lesson to impart? Nothing that’s mind breaking or soul shattering, except maybe… what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. :)

A Lesson in What NOT to do in Social Media if You’re the COMPANY PRESIDENT

Bizarre. Yesterday, I just had a great abject personal lesson on what NOT to do on Social Media.

I had made a pic of a shut down mall kiosk yesterday, stating how relieved I didn’t buy into it. The previous franchise owner, a former client of mine, had tried to get me to buy into 1 of his kiosks and when I changed my mind (gut was warning me there was something hidden going on), he ended up closing it apparently.

Well, a friend asked me about why I was relieved and I mentioned that the parent company was bankrupt. Suddenly, some guy suddenly made some comment about me being liable in Twitter and so on.

I had no idea what the heck this was about, but as I had just made comments and posts about a local politician, Ric McIver and his association with a notorious anti-LGBT ultra-right christian agenda, I said that I stood behind my words (re: McIver). This stranger then basically accused me of spreading lies and was slandering his “company”.

Ok, that piqued my interest now. I took a looked at Google to see if this guy’s name would show up… and to my surprise, it was the PRESIDENT of the parent company. I then replied to the guy with the link to the CBC story that stated that his company was bankrupt. He then went on about how this was all lies and implied that he was going to sue me.

I then asked him simply for an updated story or a link that the CBC reported wrong. Instead I still got a comment implying legal action. As I wasn’t about to listen to an online bully, I requested again for info and so on, but nope… now silence. I’m wondering if he realized that he himself may have gotten himself into trouble or that he was satisfied with his efforts to try to bully me, or that he was now planning to sue me (if he does, this should be a fun circus as he really doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on).

I’ve since had a few friends mention about how surreal that was and wondering what the heck was in this guy’s mind. All I know is that I’m especially sure that I have no intention of ever going near that company’s products if it was the last provider of that service on Earth.

SO let’s go through the lessons here….

1st – You do NOT use your own personal account. And read the context. This man is definitely implying legal threats here.

The pic I took and the surprise veiled threat

The pic I took and the surprise veiled threat

2nd Lesson – You do not CONTINUE to make veiled threats or believe that you’re so huge in the world that people know who the hell you are. Honestly, I argue and talk about dozens of topics in a day. Without being specific, I had no clue what the hell he was talking about. Oh, and the “Ahh…” post? I just punched in his name in Google and the identity of the guy appeared on LinkedIn.

The threats continue, and I find out who the hell this guy was

The threats continue, and I find out who the hell this guy was

And this is who I found out who was attacking... boy was I surprised

And this is who I found out who was attacking… boy was I surprised

#3… Look, sometimes a person gets it wrong. But if you’re going to make serious legal threats over something that based on what I know at the time from news stories, the least you can do is prove the person wrong. Reply with a correction. I’m not too ashamed to say I got it wrong but I would like some proof instead of just the empty claims of a guy obviously trying to bully me.  But doubling down isn’t the best reply ever.

And now he DOUBLES DOWN #facepalm

And now he DOUBLES DOWN #facepalm

#4… Never assume that this is an entirely private conversation. Now, this guy comes across as a lunatic to more than just me. I find out that at least 2 more people were following the thread. So much for public relations…

The conversation is over, but now I find out about the audience

The conversation is over, but now I find out about the audience

#5. If you’re going to defend your company, make sure there isn’t say….. dozens of news stories from the CBC, Financial Post, Globe & Mail, Blog Posts and so on repeating and confirming that your company is bankrupt. More importantly, you might want to be sure you’re not on Industry Canada’s official page with direct listings of the Ernst & Young papers filed stating you’re bankrupt.

Posting on Industry Canada for Bankrupt Companies Owing More than $5 Million

Posting on Industry Canada for Bankrupt Companies Owing More than $5 Million

So what did we learn here? Well that company loyalty is fine and well, and circling the wagons is an understandable tactic, but to do so as the company PRESIDENT using your own personal Twitter account and attacking each and every person who states what is public knowledge… well, it definitely reflects seriously badly for the company. He is right, you are accountable on Twitter for what you say. But in this case, the real fight isn’t in a legal courtroom, but in the court of public opinion.

And the shoe drops... he attacks pretty much everyone. Anger issues?

And the shoe drops… he attacks pretty much everyone. Anger issues?

A Statement Over Ric McIver, the Future of Alberta, and Gay Rights

As all readers know, I’m a new found father of sorts. The son of my heart, Terry, is a culinary student, presently doing a stage in a restaurant in the US. He is also gay. And it is for him as his father and as a supporter of gay rights, that I write this.

Statement of Dedication: I will do anything and everything in my personal name and reach to fight the PC leadership candidacy of Ric McIver (within legal means of course).

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On Father’s Day, the “March for Jesus” went through the streets of Calgary,  proudly heralded by PC Alberta leader hopeful Ric McIver. As an avowed Atheist, admittedly I find such events to be mildly annoying, but the beauty of Canada is that all opinions can be accepted, or at least tolerated in a live and let live situation. So long as the religious sensibilities of a group doesn’t impose or be used in an act of tyranny against a helpless populace, then why not celebrate their beliefs in a man who celebrated the cause of love for your fellow man.

But while I would normally prefer to stay quiet, the more I learn about this, the more I’m absolutely disgusted and furious. This so-called event, originally created by multi-denominational groups in the 80s as a celebration of Christianity, has continued on through the hard work of zealots who oppose all LGBT rights as it offends their religious sensibilities.

For anyone who represents himself as worthy of leadership of this province, or at one time, Mayor hopeful of Calgary, who not only advocates and supports all of these groups who through their misguided homophobic beliefs or even outright hatred and intolerance, has proven himself unworthy of any public office. To represent this province, a leader has to represent all members, not just the rancid dogma of right-wing religious extremists.

Most shocking of all are the claims by the extreme right-wing Progressive Group for Independent Business (in their own site), which states that McIver had worked with them for years, had successfully managed to elect him as an alderman, and honoured him with an award for his work in city council. This is a group that all of the conservative parties, both PC and Wild Rose, had rejected for being too extremist.

If you are PC, regardless of the bread and butter issues, do you really want a possible bigot to represent you? And then when you do think of bread and butter issues, he claims he was responsible for killing the Redford penthouse, but then can’t show even the slightest bit of proof that he did. More importantly, while fiscal hawks may love him for being “Dr. No” (by opposing each and every project ever proposed by city hall), neither has he ever displayed any sort of vision on the future of our city, let alone the province. A leader inspires, gives direction and hopefully can see the potential of what can be. Has that ever been displayed?

And as for something more to think about, this statement comes directly from one of the groups that organized the March for Jesus:

———————————–

From the Web Site of March for Jesus 2014

“Last year alone, Calgary’s streets were flooded with people of wrong sexual preferences during a homosexual parade of over 30,000 attendees and none of them were embarrassed the slightest to publicly even present their nakedness in front of families and in front of future generations to openly proclaim and manifest that they are not ashamed to declare the name of their master (Satan) and in the same way not concerned with provoking greatly the wrath of the Living God.”

————————————–

If you believe that the next PC leader, and as such, the future premier of Alberta should be someone who’s guided by such thoughts, then by all means support Ric McIver. But it is my dearest hope that Alberta, land of hope, dreams and opportunity, composed of a people who believe in honor above all, can prove to Canada and the world that such men should be relegated to go rant on the lonely soapbox in the corner of the park, unwanted, unheeded and unheard.

Some more interesting light reading for thought:

Alberta PC Candidate Ric Mciver Needs to Explain his Connections

Ric McIver and the Lake of Fire Redux

PC Hopefuls Spar Over Parents Right to Pull Children over Classes

From Terry’s PI Files : The 3 Wives – Wife #1 and the Teen Lover

Through the years I worked in investigations officially and unofficially, none were as enigmatic to me as the 3 wives. These 3 women, all in successful businesses, relationships and so on, were mothers, power negotiators and more. Yet from when I first met them (all within the same year), to when I saw them last, they all had the same problem, philandering husbands and yet refused to break away.

Today, I’m going to cover the first one. She’s since threw the jerk out, but there was a pretty long period where she just wouldn’t pull the trigger on this guy. She was clearly an emotionally abused woman, without much self confidence. Attractive and still young, she had apparently caught her husband once with her neighbor but refused to give me the full details.

Still, what she DID give me was more than enough to work with. And more importantly, the guy had the habit of using her laptop to contact his lover through messenger and the like. EVEN more so, he liked to use her car for quick trips out to the office or wherever as opposed to his ridiculously powered Hummer.

Image

It was a fairly easy sting as stings go. I placed a GPS tracking device onto her car, so I would have a record of his comings and goings. With her permission, I put a data logging program into the computer. There, now I had whatever he would write online. (By the way, if you ever find yourself in the need to find out if your computers are being abused by your employees or kids, I can’t begin to recommend properly the software Spector Pro. Trust me on this.) Finally, I resorted to plain old PI work.

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After about 2 weeks, I was ready. We’re all people of habit. You and I might like going to a certain cafe a few times a week, or certain restaurants, a bus stop, a favorite path to jog around in. These are all examples that with the help of GPS, I had his. I also had a LOT of rather incriminating emails written in code names that indicated that there was not only an affair going on, but a pretty hot and heavy one.

On Tuesday I noticed that he would go to a certain parking lot at 3 pm every day. It was close to a good sized strip mall, a city community rec centre, and… a large high school. This got me thinking, as my client still hadn’t told me much about the neighbor. Doing a routine check, I found out that 3 persons lived there, a father, mother and a daughter. As the mother was in her late 30s, I assumed that was the possible partner. But now… was it the daughter? I went to the parking lot to find out.

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It didn’t take long. A rather attractive teenager, maybe 16-17 ran across the street, and into his car. They then sped off, and not far behind, I followed them to a house that apparently had a basement suite. Well, that was enough info (and pics), and I went off. I asked to meet the client, and she asked me to see what else I can find online before meeting.

I had done a cursory examination of the email files before. Nothing too serious, just looking for anything that might be a smoking gun (which was most of it), but all of it was still under code names. This time, I looked into it seriously, and soon found quite a few pics that made the word compromising seem mild.

I won’t go any further into the lurid details. The client had proof that her husband had seduced a teenager and kept a secret love nest. The girl, as distasteful as it was, was officially at the age of consent at the time (over 14 yrs of age), and as she was the one who did a ton of porn selfies, the law wasn’t quite clear on whether to charge her with creating her OWN self child porn willingly.

She stayed the with guy for another 2 years before kicking his ass onto the curb. There were other related matters she would bring me in, but none as surprising as those early days.

As for any lessons? Well, I guess, never be so cheap or stupid to use the laptop and car of the wife you’re cheating on? Outside of that, nope, no idea of anything else.

But as she was the first of three who stayed as my clients throughout the years, I never quite understand the power of love, hate, obsession, safety and security until I met them. Wait until next week.

 

From Terry’s PI Files – Bizarre Family Relations & The Shawarma Shop

Now that I’m more or less out of the game, there’s a few of my more bizarre cases that I always wanted to write about but couldn’t. Just to let you know, no names will be mentioned, or which business involved (as I understand it, it’s since changed ownership), but it was beyond weird.

A few years back, a young attractive woman walks into the shop with a number of kids. She asks for some information on what I did, what was possible and what could be done. She explains that she and her family owns a restaurant, and that her husband has been having an affair with someone there during the day. She needed to have proof and it had to be indisputable. A typical case in the private eye biz, more or less. A few nights later, I was putting up a disguised smoke detector in the kitchen and a recorder. It has a good resolution, battery life, and I was able to install it quickly. Angled it. Pointed it. All done, and now time to wait and see.

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A Smoke Detector… but also a disguised Hidden Camera System all in one

I didn’t have to wait long. According to the time stamp, it was roughly during the lunch rush, with what I could probably guess was a full dining room and a line up at the cash. From the angle of the camera, I had a great shot of a prep table, the door to the dining room and the stove. And there was the client’s husband, and a pretty attractive woman in her 40s. And then….

A few days later, I had retrieved the camera and looked at the recorded footage and captured the incriminating evidence. Job done, I went off to meet the client and we watched the footage together. It was… well… pretty graphic admittedly, but nothing I’ve never seen before. But while I wasn’t really fazed at all by the video, I was by my client’s reaction to it. ZERO. Nothing. She might as well have been reading the menu at a McDonald’s. This struck me as completely odd, as most clients have always reacted with some satisfaction, some sort of relief, anger, fear, even laughter. But this gal? She was stone cold still.

I almost jumped when she turned my way and asked me, “Can you play that again in a few minutes? My Dad is coming home.” Now let me explain the significance of this comment. This client was from an east Asian background, one of those that are very patriarchal in their views. Even after all of the years living in Canada, the concept of equality between man and woman wasn’t exactly very high on their list. The client had long since known about her husband’s infidelities, but no one would take her seriously whatsoever. Worse, she was even beaten up by both her husband and her father for making such accusations without proof. It was after such a beating that she had decided to come get professional help. She needed to make a point.

I thought the request was a little odd, but I didn’t dispute it. The client was paying my time, and my presence probably would have saved her from an immediate beating if her dad went ballistic. Either way, the video was hers now, and sure, why the hell not. Her dad was a man in his late 50s or so, but still in pretty good shape. He did however look pretty darn stern, the serious type of guy who always seems to be disapproving of anyone or anything that’s not of his world. Still, he calmly sat down as his daughter told him who I was, Well, the video started again. The husband was prepping some food with another attractive woman. He puts down the knife, and then quickly grabs the woman, flips up her skirt and I’ll leave the rest to you.

Strangely enough, my only reaction was that this guy was having sex with some woman on the prep table during lunch service. Having some relations with the restaurant industry, that was just disturbing to me. Well, the father was simply stone cold silent, but now you could kinda feel a seething amount of anger, even disgust now. That old saying, you can cut the tension with a knife? I doubt a machete could have gotten through that! My client simply turned around and said, “Dad, I told you MOM and (…) were having an affair!” Well, that was pretty much it. I stood up, simply asked for my cheque, and left. Given how supremely awkward this event had become, “discretion is the better part of valor” and all that. I left.

Now admittedly it probably wasn’t the best thing to leave the client alone, but I really didn’t want to be stuck in the middle of that mess. Would you? As for a tidy ending? Not really. I was paid for the job, so I know that the client survived and was going through divorce hearings. No idea about what happened to the mom or the husband, but some things are better left unsaid.

But I do have one quick tip. Next time you go to a shawarma shop/restaurant in town, are you really sure the garlic sauce is just that? Just sayin’.