It’s now 11 years and a week or so since she passed, and now 30 years since that fateful summer when we first met. That special relationship put myself and her children on a path that I never could have foreseen.
I haven’t written much about the kids this year, especially as I’ve only seen them twice. As I’ve explained, they’re not mine through blood or law, but they are of my heart nevertheless. In every way that truly matters to me and to them, we are family, and they’ve taught me so much about how it is to be a proud father.
Terry completed his stage in Las Vegas, and then extended it, and then extended it once again. He’s on leave of absence from culinary school now, simply because he was encouraged to travel and learn under some of the best in the culinary world. He’s in England, doing a stage on a culinary level that simply stuns me. There are no words I can express to describe the heights he will achieve.
Georgia is in year 2 studying law, the very degree her own mother couldn’t complete due to the events long ago. In a moment of face palm humor and frustration, she continues to show the stubbornness, passion and brilliance that her mom possessed. You see, she introduced to me her new boyfriend, another Chinese kid who I swear resembles me a little. But this time, he seems to genuinely love her, and they met through the same law program. Of course, I warned him as a father to take good care of her or else, but he already knew better than to upset her. She’s going to be brilliant, but I admittedly look forward to see her walk the aisle in a white dress.
But that’s not the purpose of this blog, and why I returned to the Days. The real story is why that chance meeting 30 years ago continues to guide my life even now.
As you’ve probably read, I’m running for office now. I wasn’t planning to, but I discovered that I had to. There’s the classic saying, “All it takes for Evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” But while I subscribe to such dramatic thoughts, I believe that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it far better:
I’ve always tried to be a defender for others. I see that the highest aspiration of a person is to serve his or her fellow citizen and found that the problems we see in life is very often rooted in silence. I simply want to serve my city, my home and make it just a little better each day, and to speak out to hopefully inspire others to act and do the same.
Now, I have a chance to serve and make a real difference on a great scale. There are so many causes that matter to me. Education. Equality rights. The future of Calgary. Small business. My friends and family. So many and more… and to make a difference, I choose to stop being someone who spoke from the audience into someone who wants to speak truth to power. This truly unique opportunity has come up, an invitation to run for office and have a voice where it matters.
Why am I standing up for what I believe in, when others could have been content from the sidelines? It was Terry who inspired me. He took the chance and had the bravery to come out to me, telling me a truth where so many other children found themselves ostracized, beaten, abused or even banished as my friend, photographer Kelly Hofer. With this decision, he showed me what true bravery was, and why I fight now.
One summer long ago, my first love and I kissed. It was a cheeky french kiss at a time where I was helpless while pretending to demonstrate mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. It was a kiss full of mischief, joy and bold acts of young love and sweet moments. It put me on a path, through her legacy, that guided me to this moment of perfect clarity and the bravery to act.
To my wife, my friends, my city, the people of Calgary-Glenmore, and the bravery of a young man who I love as my own son, I dedicate myself to serve, to inspire others, and most importantly, I choose to lead. I am Terry Lo, a dreamer fighting to make a great Calgary into reality, and I want to be your MLA. And this is a call to action to all, and I beg of you to stop being neutral or silent. Help me, be brave and stand up and act.
The Story of the Days Before Tomorrow and the Children
My friend Kevin Olenick has gathered some interesting people to talk about the now notorious crossing of Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and the 8 other members of the party, better known now as the Wildrose Nine.
Steven Britton is an outspoken libertarian, affiliated to no party, but a well known prior supporter of Wildrose.
Derek Fildebrandt was once the defender of the Canadian taxpayer, and now a spokesperson for the Oil Industry. While not a member of any known party, he considers himself to be politically right in general, and a facinating person to know.
Robyn Moser is one of Calgary’s brightest real estate stars. Stunning, clever and charming, she’s a staunch self proclaimed PC supporter, and one who sees Premier Prentice as a true leader.
It’s an interesting mix of people , all on the right, who have their unique outlook on Alberta politics, and by far have great unique insight on the crossing that most Albertans do NOT know and should. And more importantly, they’re the ones to know to see the story still unfolding in the backgroud.
Wow. What an insane past few days. An action that I did out of conscience became a firestorm that brought out the best and the worse of the political spectrum in Alberta. Even now, there’s a few detractors who are apparently still attacking me, but as I blocked the majority of them, I really haven’t read them.
So,I’m assuming you probably know the firestorm over the week. If not, just Google my name or read my resignation. It’s been an interesting week.
So…. here goes. Soooo much came out of this, that it’s a LONG BORING read. Try not to fall asleep, but I’ll give you my blessings (and that of the Flying Spaghetti monster) if you do.
WERE YOU EVER REALLY A MEMBER OF THE WILDROSE?
I’ve been a card carrying member from 2009-2014. I actually believe in Danielle Smith. I believe her to be a politician of strong character and respect her actions and work. To me, she would have made an magnificent Premier.
What I ceased to believe in is the Party in itself. The majority of the party are actually respectable everyday people, who actually care about where our province goes. But for a vocal minority like outspoken angry children who believe in a different regressive view as the way to bring Alberta back to greatness, are equally passionate in their belief as I am in mine. The problem is in ideology, their culture which is inherently opposite to what I believe to be ethical and moral , made it impossible for me to stay. I believe that this angry group has taken over the party direction, much like the minority Tea Party has done to the Republican party in the States. But in a more progressive Alberta, this bird doesn’t fly except in the sticks.
WHY DID YOU JOIN IN THE FIRST PLACE?
The Party as a whole has a HUGE image problem. A far bigger problem is that so very few members truly understand or gets it. It’s basically being stuck in a time of movie theatre news reels in a modern age of the internet. If they couldn’t win 4 by-elections, a time when traditionally an opposing party can get a seat out of protest, in a time of near perfect hatred of the PC party, then what hope is there in a general election. The polls in 2012 proved that the Lake of Fire proved that this is a sticking point of distrust among the city populace. And for 148 people to vote away the statement and give the appearance that the Lake of Fire was sanctioned by the party entire? Deplorable and disappointing.
The WR really do need more members like myself. Yes there are the odd Indian, Chinese , black visible minority, but do you see these numbers actually growing? My brief time in WR has showed me that the purpose why I joined, to use my communication expertise that the WR COULD have been inclusive was badly needed. The revocation of the statement has made that job 100x harder, especially considering that I no longer believe in it myself.
I still believe in the need for a strong opposition. I am NOT trying to discredit and destroy the WildRose as I made my stance out of personal belief. If anything, I truly hope the party rank and file will use this unexpected firestorm to be an opportunity to reflect, and for once truly listen to those minorities (religious, sexual, etc) that their actions mistakenly spat on. Changing it to a vague ALL wasn’t the way to do so. And their concerns that it would be too difficult for Albertans to understand and would be confusing. Bulls***. It was word for word VERBATIM from Section 15 of Canada’s Charter of Rights, which has been around since 1982. Are they honestly trying to say that a statement guaranteeing the rights of citizens that has been around for 32 years is now suddenly confusing? The WR was built not just as a protest against the PC, but also as a party of hope, which is now endangered by a group dedicated to bring it back to the 1950s.
As for why an Asian, atheist, and a dad of a gay kid, thought he might best be able to bring an inclusive message? Honestly, who better? Right now, the general appearance of the average WR member is that of a right wing fringe god fearing white rural landowner. I was LITERALLY the exact opposite of that stereotypical image. If someone such as I was willing to look past the stereotype, and gave that message of welcome, then I would have been far more likely to build a dialog. There’s a classic saying, “Only Nixon could go to China” that explains it all.
WHAT ABOUT THE LAKE OF FIRE? WHY DIDN’T YOU LEAVE THEN?
Because I believed that the whole Lake of Fire was just the voice of one person. I still do. But as for why Danielle did not speak out about it, she is a true Libertarian in the definition of the word. However, thanks to the US political process, being a libertarian is now equated to be a lunatic fringe member of the Tea Party, when at the very heart of libertarianism is simply the belief that the rights of the individual matters. That’s why I didn’t leave. I would have faulted the entire party for 1 person, just as I don’t fault the entire party for a loud mouthed minority as well. What I DO fault the party is that it’s following the lead of this destructive angry group.
YOU DID THIS FOR PERSONAL GAIN, YOUR 15 MIN OF FAME, TO RUN FOR OFFICE, ETC?
What gain? This was a VOLUNTEER POSITION. I posted it in a blog that maybe got 10-30 hits a week just to clarify my stance. I didn’t look for the press, they came to me. And while I was satisfied with what I said was enough, it was hacks from the fringe of WR that encouraged me to face them and speak. Personal gain? None. If anything I acquired quite a few enemies across the entire province. I’ve been attacked over and over again in the media and in talk shows. Why did I speak out anyways? Easy. If you see my statement of purpose, I see myself as a knight and a protector. The minute the word got out, I was attacked almost immediately. I will NOT abide bullies, period. If that concept is so difficult to understand, in a time that we’re actively striving to stop bullies at all aspects of life, then take a good hard look and find out why so cynical? To not back the strength of your convictions, good, bad or misguided, is the act of a coward.
As for the 15 min of fame? For what? It serves me nothing but headaches for the last few days. I really do have better things to do than be heckled by losers all over the net. I work in a field where anonymity is treasured, not discouraged.
And really, to run as a liberal? If they actually bothered to read my resignation, they’ll see that I really don’t find the Liberal Party or the NDP party very effective. In fact, mind showing me where’s the nomination papers that I apparently prepared to run for any seat with any party for that matter? I don’t have political aspirations.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS IN WR?
Yes, there were way quieter ways to do this. Way more peaceful ways to do this.Yes, I know I upset quite a few. Politics is politics. I had never intended to offend my friends in WR, but neither was going to be polite about this. If they ever truly understood who I am and what I represent, then I believe my continued inclusion in their lives is probably a good thing. If they don’t, then we probably were never friends in the first place. It’s just like my friends who are religious. I don’t believe in what they do, but we have mutual respect and hopefully love.
Oh, that’s probably the best description I can give. My son, Terry, is not my son by blood or law. I was his godfather (during my catholic days) and he was named after me. His mom, my first love, is a story all told in my blog entries under “The Days Before Tomorrow”. When she divorced her husband, she had intended to get back with me and have Terry formally adopted, when things went awry and in culminated with her accidental death. He’s my son in every way that matters, and he’s presently rocking it as a chef in the US.
ABSOLUTE HATRED OF RELIGION?
Those who read the first draft, and some others who are trying to discredit me, happened to notice that the original text stated “Absolute hatred of religion” was changed to “rejection of organized religion”. Why did I change it or tone it down? Easy, a conversation with a quite polite believer in religion had simply stated that “there’s too much hate” as it is. Considering that the entire point of my resignation was because I rejected the WR anti-LGBT minority agenda, which is based in religion and hatred in itself, countering hate with hate probably isn’t the way to go. After that chat, she convinced me to at least tone it down. I’m still quite anti-organized religion, and I know people are constantly telling me why am I never promoting the good it does. Let’s put it this way… if your best friend was a great charity organizer and helped out thousands of people a year, hell, let’s make it millions, but liked to rape small children every once in awhile, would you condone such actions for the greater good? To me, why are we all following a belief created by bronze-age men trying to explain why it rained?
Honestly, I don’t know. Anyone who knows me knows I joined the PC Party specifically only to vote AGAINST Ric McIver during the leadership vote, and that was all about the Street Church march. I don’t see a home there as they themselves have no such protections. Alberta Party actually is much closer to my philosophy over all, and after the Glenmore Rally, I actually gave my full support to Greg Clark in his run to for Calgary-Elbow. I’m not sure about that either though. As for the Liberal and NDP, my opinion hasn’t changed. I have the greatest respect for Dr. Swann, Kent Hehr, and Laurie Blakeman, but there’s very little chance of them ever taking government. The possibility to take back Opposition is also unlikely in the immediate future. However, a certain announcement by a former news reporter does have an appeal to me.
So in the end, let the critics make their rants. Honestly, given the choice between appeasing a bunch of angry misguided people and being able to be with my friends and my son with pride, I know I made the right choice. It was a no brainer. I look forward to see what will happen in the future.
Signed, Terrence Lo
PS: My predictions – Bill 202 probably will pass, but any vote by WR is now seen as a mea culpa for the AGM as opposed to genuine concern for the LGBT. Wildrose gets slaughtered in the 2016 elections and relegated to a fringe rural party. That vocal minority uses the election loss as reason to get rid of Danielle Smith and probably bring in Rob Anderson, and the party swings far right. The party will be relegated to what the Reform Party was seen as, a fringe party with no chance of ever gaining power.
(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.
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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PTLKPx4kHA
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 an outspoken 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.
YYC Burger Week, the little event that could. Founded by Sabahat Naureen (First Founder), myself as @calgarydreamer (co-founder) and Chris Karaplis, the mysterious promo shy man in the shadows, we were all former Montrealers who had found our home, and our hearts here in Calgary. But as much as we did, it didn’t seem to be enough to simply just be here. We had to help, but just didn’t know how.
In 2012, while on a routine visit to Montreal, Sabahat had visited Montreal, and partaken in their own Burger event. It was an in-house event, dedicated to simply self-promotion of the restaurants with a competition aspect. However, as I understand it, there was no charity aspect. With that, a light bulb went off in her head, and she came back wondering about how to make this event come into fruition in Calgary. Finding that no one else was even thinking of a similar idea, she started to put out little feelers here and there to assemble a team to organize the event. Seeing a kindred spirit, and a burger lover myself, I was the first volunteer right away.
I’ve known Sabahat and Chris for almost a year by then. Sabahat and I were members of the Yelp Elite, assembled by our friend and current world traveler Wendy Peters, and Chris had attended as Sab’s date often. I had no idea who the heck was the people I would meet at the first meeting, and was shocked to find out that it was them. That January 2013, the work began. We managed to assemble 16 restaurants and parlay what strengths we had into a city wide festival. Sabahat was always stronger in terms of openness and self-promotion, but I was the one who had the restaurant connections, and usually preferred to be the overall support as well. More importantly, I had a good working relationship with the chefs which we all ran with. Chris, ever hiding in the background and preferring anonymity, designed the back end with the initial website and voting system.
We hemmed and hawed, Sabahat ever being the most ambitious one (I believed we needed months to prepare… we actually managed to get 95% of the work done in WEEKS). We all agreed, there was no way on earth we were going to promote a chain like McDonald’s and the like, and wanted to highlight the local talent and the best that Alberta agriculture had to offer. We designed a system of 16 restaurants being voted in by the public and hoped that by making the voting a little annoying (needing a unique email per vote) that it would reduce the cheating. We contacted 8 local charities (it would have been 9 as we almost signed up 18 restaurants, but we just couldn’t wait any longer for their legals).
Despite that, we were still pretty new at this sort of game. Understandably, some restaurants had considered us to be questionable as it was the inaugural year. Some were just too busy, although even now we would LOVE to see them enter and we would gladly invite them again and again. But then there were the one or two who were actually pretty insulting. I’ve heard some rumors that a few thought they weren’t invited because I disliked them personally. Nope, if anything, there were simply too many restaurants that we sent invites in 2 waves, with a 3rd had it been necessary. Once the initial 16 spots were full, it was done. But then again, that’s the name of the game really.
The competition started, and it wasn’t without a few hiccups, but with such fantastic people as Anju’s Roy Oh (missing you this year), downtownfood’s Darren Maclean, Notable’s Michael Noble and more, it came across as a triumph. Still there were a few more problems, but it was a great week.
In the end? We raised over $6300 in a week of burger frenzy. We were a bit too ambitious in terms of charitable givings as we had tried to promote EIGHT charities at once. To try to spread the funds evenly, we partnered them with 2 restaurants each, one that we considered a heavyweight to every newbie, but it didn’t work entirely the way we wanted. Still, everyone got a lot of promo, and we had cemented ourselves as part of Calgary history, even if just for a brief blip in time. More importantly, a great story came about as little Naina’s Kitchen, the smallest and the least known of all 16 places, came out the 2013 Champion. Looking at owner Erin’s face was worth it all, and we couldn’t have been more pleased.
This year, it was much easier, but far more ambitious. We asked over 50 restaurants to join, but put in a caveat that it was a first come first serve basis. Originally we were shooting for 20, with only 2 categories in the $10 and $15, but as the names came in, we soon found that would be impossible. We ended up selecting 30 competitors, and learned from the previous year to ensure a great selection for our participants by adding the $20 category. Again, we also dared the chefs to come up with something unique, something special. It had bothered us a little that in Year One, many of the restaurants simply put up an existing burger on their menu up for the challenge. But this year? They REALLY stepped up, with so many imaginative takes on burgers made of elk, bannock, cranberries, sprouts, hemp, lobster, pork, beef of all sorts and cuts, foie gras, ramen, bao, mac n’ cheese, pepper steak, ahi tuna and more. It always surprises me by the creative energy of our chefs, and how wonderful it is to be a part of that scene in our small way. And to help promote such creativity, we created the Burger Ambassadors, comprised of some of the best food writer, personalities and bloggers in Calgary. They’ve done a great job, and their comments have help the diners choose their preferences.
We also started looking for funding again, since we thought that it might not be as hard as last year, but was surprised that it was actually even harder as our contacts for many organizations had changed, and had to re-justify ourselves. More so, while YYC Burger Week came about, so did literally dozens of other new food festivals, and we ended up having to compete ourselves in a much bigger forum.
But as a wise man once said… the universe will listen. Things will work out somehow.
It did. We still worked on everything, and refused to compromise on our principals to promote Alberta restaurants, talent and produce. I wager that if we were willing to do so, funding would probably would have been a lot easier, but then, what would have been the point? We are CALGARY STRONG. It’s our home, and we wanted dearly to be at the heart of it all. More importantly, we found ourselves ever more in love with our city, and found inspiration in the people that united for those shining moments after the Floods. There would be NO compromise.
The team also expanded this year, with great new members joining in. Wanda Baker, noted food blogger of Baker’s Beans, came in with her knowledge and experience, and insight on how to approach matters while ensuring that the t’s were crossed and the i’s were dotted. Trevor Gibbons, our surprise Unofficial Judge in the Bacon Suit in 2013, also leaped in, and brought in a new energy and great ideas to promote our festival. More members with unique strengths still joined in, and now we number 11 strong. It’s a great team, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
With those skills, connections and energy, and the excited inclusion of ATB Agriculture, we found our little festival now stood toe to toe with some of the best festivals in the city. To date as I write this, there has been literally THOUSANDS of tweets, and who knows how many people out there roaming the city, discovering new and old restaurants for the first time, and personally challenging themselves to try all THIRTY burgers (for those who are doing so, I recommend our next festival YYC Soup and Salad Week…). We’ve been in tv, radio, print, and online all over the city. The restaurants are being lauded, tried out and challenged creatively in a fun and unusual way. And at the heart of it all, the 3 charities chosen this year will greatly benefit from the exposure and the funds.
So that’s really that for now. YYC Burger Week is almost at it’s 1/2 way point, and we’re seeing such an incredible energy through the city as people run into the restaurants with their passports. We love it. I love it.
To Calgary, from the 3 founders and the 8 new committee members, this is our labour of love, and our gift to the city. And we can’t wait until 2015.
Bon Appetit. And don’t forget to stamp your passport and VOTE by RATING your favorite burgers!
It’s sad you know. The world where I lived in makes so many people paranoid for the stupidest reasons. And when they’re that paranoid, you really have no idea what to expect.
So to make a change of things, I’ve decided to talk about some of the past cases I’ve been in, that a psychologist was better warranted.
First, I’d like you to understand that many of these people genuinely need to have treatment. Of all of the cases I’ve been personally involved in with people I call paranoid, in only 1 case out of 6 YEARS actually panned out as a genuine situation… and even then that went sideways.
Next, if you’re wondering why I even took the cases in the first place, there’s 2 reasons. One, there’s the old saying, when there’s smoke there’s fire. For my “normal” clients, I’ve found that to be accurate. But in the realm of madness, it’s so much harder to tell. I had to give them the benefit of the doubt. Second, sometimes just having my presence and involvement was enough to give a little peace of mind. Either way, here are a few memorable clients or would be clients.
1- Killer lasers from above.
Around 2008 or so, a gentleman came in saying that the US army was after him, even trying to kill him. I admittedly went instantly into “look serious but try not to sigh” mode for obvious reasons. He barely looked like he had $100 total to his name, but I calmly stood by and listened. As for that plane you’re seeing, that’s a C-130 Hercules. It costs thousands to keep in the air. It costs hundreds of thousands to maintain. Inside of its belly is a 100-kilowatt laser capable of knocking hole through a 3’x3′ piece of metal from 20 km an hour, and costs tens of thousands of dollars to fire. But according to the would-be client, it wasn’t flying around New Mexico test grounds or somewhere in Afghanistan. Somehow, it was circling Calgary around and around, for the sole purpose of striking him.
2- Radiation girl
In 2009, this poor girl came into my store and gave me a pretty harrowing take of how an international conglomerate has been purposely trying to kill her. No matter where she would move to, this secret Illuminati was going to send a would be assassin to move into a nearby apartment or house or wherever she was and would dose her with radioactive isotopes. That’s when she requested I find out who was this international group, and to see if I could obtain a lead-lined suit of some sort.
For months, she would come in asking for one bizarre thing after another, but for the most part it was harmless. It was around the time that she started to ask for enough copper to make a Faraday cage and enough lead to line her home against plutonium is when I started to stall. Basically put, she was asking me to procure her tens of thousands of dollars of metal, to combat a supposed beam of radiation or a stick of plutonium that just happens to be lying around that was sent by secret illuminati killers. I couldn’t in all conscience take advantage of this. In the end (well so far at least), she still has her money, doesn’t appear to have been radiation poisoned the last 6 years, and I can sleep at night.
3- From the Tabloid Pages
Now this is something that’s unique. This client, I had honestly thought she was a paranoid schizophrenic. She walked into my office, and told me a story about how things were missing all the time.
Buuut, I hooked her up with a hidden camera, and then had it watch her living room. And wouldn’t you know, she really DID have someone coming into her place. The super of her building was later convicted for breaking and entering and theft, as she was one of many victims in that building while the super padded his income. Mission solved, and that was that… or so I thought.
The following week, she came back, with a video that she stated was conclusive proof that a team of ninjas with camcorders were filming her 24/7 for some secret website. Needless to say, I hate it when my initial thoughts of a person is later confirmed in such a surprising manner. As I couldn’t convince her otherwise, I ended up watching a 30 min video of trees swaying in the wind where apparently there are invisible ninjas. I have to admit, those ninjas were good. Never saw a thing.
4- The Purse Whisperer
This lady came in all perturbed and upset in a manner that was almost worrying. As she tried to describe her problem through her tears and her fear, she described how someone was trying to gaslight her by moving her purse every day a few inches here and there. Please note… I said MOVE, not steal, damage, break or hide… just move.
Well, I tried to reason with her, but there are just some cases that you can’t talk any sense to, so I just gave up and my boss designed a hidden wireless cameras system that did nothing but watch her purse all day long. Being a custom job, it wasn’t cheap, so I hope she found what she was looking for.
That’s enough for now, as there’s plenty of memories of my 6 1/2 years as a Spy/Investigator. In the meantime, I close off this entry with my farewell interview as I walked off into the sunset last month.
Seven years. I’ve been involved in the Spy business for 7 years, and it comes to a relative end in 2 weeks.
In 7 years, I’ve been involved in at least 4-5 police investigations involving murder, assault or kidnappings. I’ve assisted in a number of child abuse cases, or at least made it possible for the parent to do the work themselves. I’ve helped prevent at least 2 child abductions, and helped family members find out if their son or daughter was into drugs, planning secret parties or being cyber-bullied. As for infidelity or other stuff, I can’t even begin to count the number of cases I’ve either directly or indirectly been involved in.
In the end, as my time here comes to an end (not 100% immediately, I’ll still do the odd case or two or assist with my successor to complete existing contracts that started in my time), I wonder what did I learn?
Well, the first thing is… unless you work for a corporation or contracted to one, it’s not exactly the most glamorous job in the world. For every interesting case involving police work, there are 10 jobs involving husbands or wives cheating. It’s not so much James Bond as it’s the cheekier side of Magnum PI. In my last entry under “Adventures”, there tended to be a lot of times that would involve long hours watching a hotel or sneaking around a place in the middle of the night to plant tracking devices, cameras and the like.
Next, you find out that Hollywood has completely misconstrued everything to be a world where there are tracking devices the size of sugar cubes that work around the world and need absolutely zero power. For example, those wireless portable cameras that Lisbeth uses in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. How the hell did those cameras operate? Battery power on wireless cameras work for a matter of HOURS, not days, not weeks as suggested. If they applied the real rules, then the cameras would have run out of power long ago and her journalist friend would have been murdered. There’s Hollywood, and the laws of physics. I would bet on those laws every day. One special note though, the tools and the gear has improved a lot though, even from when I first started my work.
Finally, there’s always an anterior motive. It doesn’t matter who and what case, there always is one. I won’t comment on the Police ones out of respect to the inspectors who have a hard enough time as it is, but there have been too many cases from other Private Investigators and the public at large to not have seen this. I’ve found that without knowing that motive, a client’s case would linger for weeks, even months. I’ve had cases go for over 5 years because I was directed to look in one direction without knowing the other. Sure they pay well, but you just want to have the closure eventually.
So, as my time comes soon to an end, I wonder, was it worth it? I know that a huge chunk of my soul has been bruised in ways that I can never describe. The look of horror of that woman when she found out how her child was being drugged. The knowledge that no matter what I do, often the client refuses to help themselves and endure unspeakable abuse. The regular disappointments by occasional clients that despite retrieving what they needed, they lack the courage to take it that last step. But in the end, I think yes. Despite what my family and friends who disapproved of the job, in the end, I can honestly say that I was in a position to help far more than most. That’ll be the thought that will follow me.
But if I’m so melancholy of the time I spent as a spy of sorts, how did I manage for so long? People in Calgary know me as a social media person, a regarded foodie and Calgary booster. That description probably fits me well, but little do people know that all of this wasn’t just me being a particularly involved with things, it was my life line. While the infidelity stuff can be funny, more often than not, it was simply tragic. It’s a world where there are legions of broken hearts, misplaced anger and residual damage in the lives any children involved. I needed the social media world, a dynamic arena of minds and spirits the world over to keep me engaged with the brighter parts of life. I needed to be a foodie, not simply because I truly enjoy good food and the passions involved with cooking, but to give me a means to brighten the horizons of others through the simple communion of a shared meal. As for being a Calgary booster, that was easy. For every one case I dealt with, there were 100 Calgarians making the lives of one another a better place. If anything, the people of Calgary bring me hope that there are happy families out there, lovers enjoying the simple joys and artists creating art and music. To this incredible city, thank you, and I promise to continue to serve.
A few years back, I was requested by a client to see if I could give her a hand. I had been working at Spy City as the store manager for a while, and we had long since established ourselves in Calgary as a place of last resort. We dealt with the people who couldn’t get help from the police, needed to get evidence and find a means to protect themselves.
In the almost 7 years I’ve been there, I can honestly say that I’ve prevented some child abductions and saved I don’t know how many women from serious physical and emotional abuse. There are stores and restaurants that I’ve stopped internal theft and outright assaults. Information I’ve gathered have stopped a murder and made life easier for helpless seniors. Needless to say, I really have to write a book about all this one day, but the most prevalent type of case I’m involved in usually has something to do with infidelity and the like.
Well, with my work, I’ve gotten much more involved in some cases than simply selling product or advising companies. Why take the risk? I’d like to say it’s because I love being a spy for hire, or try to emulate my favorite childhood tv show Magnum PI. I might even say that with my strong belief in Chivalry, that maybe it has something to do with being a White Knight and helping the damsel in distress. But really, in the end, if I ever do get involved in a case, it’s more because the person in trouble simply trusts me and her situation is dire, and I just can’t look away.
Now there are plenty of pretty serious cases, but there are a few that were also pretty hilarious. So let’s get to a few tips to the Cheater on what NOT to do, and I’ll give a bit of a summary.
1) When you’re having a nooner, do NOT use the Company Van
A few years back, a wife had intercepted her husband’s cell phone message from his secret lover. He was supposed to go to a motel at the outskirts of town, and be available for an hour of bedroom acrobatics. Since the wife was a housewife who didn’t drive, she turned to me to see if I can get some evidence ASAP. My problem, he was going to his nooner the next day, and the exact motel wasn’t mentioned. Still, I knew that there were only so many possible places, so I drove up and down this strip of 16 Ave NW and tried to figure it out.
I had barely gone 2 blocks when I noticed the work van. Now, normally, trying to find a single work vehicle in a large neighbourhood would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But this particular vehicle was with a company that’s quite popular in Calgary, with especially visible cartoon like characters all over the sides. Needless to say, it took me less than 2 min to find the place, and being a motel, I just waited around with a camera and got the evidence when the client’s husband and lover left the motel. Easiest tracking of a client EVER.
2) Don’t post your topless pics to try to impress your lover on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.
You would think that this would be a no-brainer, eh? I mean, Anthony Weiner is by far a great example of what can be found out. Apparently, NO!
My client was admittedly had a bit of a tech-phobia. She had barely any idea how to use her computer, and had not touched social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and the like. Her husband, being a little tech saavy, had no such restrictions, and was using his own Facebook page as a means to impress a friend with topless beach pics and the like. Worse, he was encouraging the target of his affections to make comments and so on. It really didn’t take me very long to get evidence obviously.
3) Do NOT get a mother angry. Not unless you really want to become a eunuch.
There’s an old saying, the female is the deadlier of the species. I prefer the ol’ saying, “Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned.”
When a family is about to be broken up or endangered and young kids are involved, I find that women are always going to find unusual levels of strength and anger to protect her cubs. I’ve also found that they tend to be ESPECIALLY vengeful for the family being damaged in the first place.
To my experience, when a guy is cheated on, 9 out of 10 times he’ll just do what’s needed to confirm and then leave or break things off. When a gal is though, and kids are involved….. well, 6 out of 10 times she’ll do what’s necessary… and THEN do even more to continue to make his life a living HELL long after the breakup! I’ve got cases that has lasted over 5-6 years where I found the evidence a long long time ago and they’re still after the guy’s head. Needless to say, I should give presentations at wedding encounter workshops.
That’s enough for a start for now… but I guarantee that you’ll be more than a little amused. Same bat-title, same bat-channel!
“Now its been suggested to me this week that I should try to buy your support with jobs, & the promise of access. It’s been suggested to me [that it] is more important than your democratic rights… That’s right, it’s not, and you have a decision to make. Don’t vote for us because you think we’re perfect. Don’t vote for us because of what we might be able to do for you only. Vote for the person who shares your ideals, your hopes, your dreams. Vote for the person who most embodies what you believe we need to keep our nation strong & free.”.
– Matt Santos, The West Wing
That speech, written by the brilliant Aaron Sorkin for his show, the West Wing, always brought chills up my spine. It’s not because it’s so catchy, or well written, or even that it definitely tugs at your heart strings. It’s because it appeals to a dream. It appeals to the dream that we all should have, one where our leadership should be responsive to our needs and values without being beholden to one group to another. In our modern democracy, while no where near as insanely skewed as in the US where it takes tens of millions of dollars to win a job paying $150k, our politicians still have to raise a fair amount of money in order to put up those lawn signs, to organize the volunteers and pay for those TV and radio ads. Let’s face it, virtually every candidate INCLUDING Mayor Nenshi is beholden to some extent by outside forces. Any politician who says otherwise is a liar.
But let’s take things a bit in perspective.
1) There’s being open and transparent with your donors, and then there’s candidates with backing from groups skulking in the shadows, with secret plans and huge money spent to have a council in their control. There’s enough in the news to prove it, and I’m not going to name names. If you don’t care enough to find this out and confirm for yourself, then whatever I say won’t matter anyways.
2) Who actually has a dream for Calgary? A politician does what’s expedient for the immediate future. A leader has a plan that looks forward regardless of any backlash, and fights for his/her cause because it’s right.
3) Who is willing to make hard decisions when needed? A politician will give in to the hoi polloi which is usually short sighted and has repercussions in the long term. A leader will follow his or her decision, come what may, for the benefit of all regardless of how unpopular it may be.
That’s how I based my vote, and why I chose the people I did.
I call myself the Calgary Dreamer in Social Media. Once upon a time, it was become I was a person who had dreams on what Calgary could be. And then came the floods… and the people… and the good will… and the chance to see true leadership in action. Then and there, I rededicated myself to a new definition of Calgary Dreamer. I now strive to make the dream that IS Calgary to become a dream to us all.
Please. This is your city. Be a part of my dream where our city is prosperous, open-minded and free of corruption at the highest echelons. Think and consider carefully. Think of who are the people who didn’t take their money from special interests. Think of who are the ones who have financial supporters who were “suggesting” to their employees on who to vote for. Think of who are the ones who decided to fire teachers, yet give themselves raises and have meetings in Palm Springs with your money. Think of the ones who seems to be honest, and brings inspiration and leadership. Think of the ones who share your beliefs and values, and have a dream of what could be a Calgary you can live and grow happily in. In the end, you are your own person, but do you really want to live in a kleptocracy where corruption and special interests are the ones in power, or in a city where your leaders will do what is good for all?
I believe in a Calgary with leaders that we all can be proud of in the end. One that we need, if not necessarily deserve. Most importantly, I believe in my fellow Calgarians.
See you tomorrow at the ballot booth. #YYCVote