The End of the Road 2015, Time to Heal and Unite

78 Days. 11 weeks. In this time, we’ve seen our leaders rise, stumble and fall. Some had risen again. Some just stayed down.

In this time, this election had become especially nasty as American style politics came to bear. There was a ton of accusations that one leader or another would be a disaster for the country, another would be a savior and another would stay the course and bring stability and peace. All cried out that they were the strong leaders that Canada needed, and accused the others of being found wanting in one aspect or another.

Being socially liberal yet fiscally conservative, and an atheist but former Catholic, I’ve found myself torn in the middle very often as the 2 extremes both appeal to me. As such, I’ve been able to do the one thing that many of the sides couldn’t… try to see things from the other’s point of view.

Needless to say, in the end, I don’t know what to feel as this long campaign comes to an end. The fanatics on ALL sides have had their say, and I’ve actually found myself quite disgusted with them. There is NO side of the major parties that is not guilty of having members who have willingly tried to play the games of property destruction, character assassination and outright hatred for his fellow man. And many of those fanatics hug tight to their beliefs while waving their cherry picked polls, selective arguments and “truths” with the thoughts that their philosophies will win out against the forces of “evil”, without even considering that there might be some good points regardless in the other’s views. It’s a deliberate choice to ignore perspective, which leads to tunnel vision and disastrous judgement.

I’m not naive. Politics is a blood sport. My belief in respecting the people who earned their place to run will always be there, just as my disdain for those who coast on a trend by a disgruntled public who are so tired of the screaming, would do anything to end the conflict. But at least, come what may, I still try to respect the candidates. They put their names out there into what can be a thankless job. They’re asking for the opportunity to literally miss seeing their families grow for years. They’re walking out there day after day campaigning, so that once elected, they spend MORE days walking out just to keep appearances, and still do the endless job of serving their constituencies as best they can. I may disagree with a person’s beliefs and/or record, but never the actual person.

But there was a distinct lack of civility, decency and more by a minority smug and arrogant crowd (again, on ALL sides) that was far too loud that has made the whole matter distasteful. And to those who destroyed a sign, wrote “bitch” or other slurs against another candidate or more, I truly hope you eventually understand that your actions are BENEATH you, and shames us all.

As I write this, there are just 2 1/2 hours left to vote. But as of tomorrow, there will be FOUR years of whoever will be our new government (or worse 18-24 months if there’s a minority government).

We all have to live together. I ask all Canadians to join me tomorrow to put down the rhetoric. Quiet your complaints and arguments for a little bit of time to give our leaders the time to organize and try to prove their plans correct for all of us. But let’s just stop the anger from the last 11 weeks to fade as we are all Canadians.

Sure, if they screw it up, then of course let’s speak out. But give whoever it will be the CHANCE to triumph or screw up. We’re all only human, but they’re playing with much higher stakes which is the state of our union.

Canada needs us united to be strong in this climate of economic insecurity. Canada will need our leaders to know they have our mandate to act for just a little while, no matter how much we may initially disagree. But in the end, Canada, and we Canadians need to hope.

We are all the children of this young, incredible country, soon to be 150 years strong. Let’s show the world why.

A Request for Civility this Canadian Federal Election 2015

So long as I’m working for Elections Canada, I can’t comment on anything unless it’s neutral in nature. But I have to admit… this is killing me to stay quiet. I’ve never seen so many political acts that are both inspiring and absolutely insulting to all Canadians.
So I’m only going to say this to all parties involved and those who are friends, family and even enemies of mine.
Yes, this election is important. Yes, this election has fanned a LOT of flames, where even friends are turning on each other.
But there’s ONE fundamental truth. On Tuesday, Oct. 20th, 2015, we will have a government and life goes on. Be civil. Be friendly. We are ALL Canadians. We’re supposed to be better. Prove it.
#elxn42 #Canada #Canadian #pride

CANADIAN POLITICS: A Public Statement On My Federal Support

THIS IS JUST A STATEMENT OF FACT. I AM NOT TRYING TO CONVINCE YOU EITHER WAY BUT PROVIDE YOU WITH THE TOOLS AT THE END OF THIS STATEMENT TO DISCOVER FOR YOURSELF.

I’ve been a Conservative voter since 1988. That first time around, I had just turned 18, I believed in the work that Mulroney was doing, and lauded his guts for trying to correct the mess that started with Pierre Trudeau and the lack of Quebec’s signature (though admittedly, there was no way in hell that Levesque back then would have signed it). Even during the lean years when poor Charest had the thankless job of propping a dying PC party, I still continued to vote PC. It was, at the time, the party that made sense for me overall as the PC was still a centrist party.

The Problems of C-51 is the powers it gives to CSIS

The Problems of C-51 is the powers it gives to CSIS

Even after the merger with Reform/Canadian Alliance, I had continued to vote that way. For those who are puzzled about that decision back then, I wasn’t anywhere near the community firebrand I am today, and admittedly my social beliefs were quite a bit more right and even can be described as evangelical. But also, I lived in a riding where the voter was taken for granted, the former Liberal stronghold of NDG-Lachine (originally NDG).

This time, it’s different. I’m conflicted in giving my support to Harper, and if anyone is interested in my single biggest opposition this time around, it’s C-51.

I don’t recommend anyone reading it in it’s entirety unless you’re a glutton for punishment. It took me several hours months ago, but there’s a reason why virtually every newspaper in Canada, civil group and legal group has found it to be a fundamental limitation on our civil rights, where CSIS becomes a virtually unregulated shadow police and the limits on free speech could be curtailed as its so vague that it could be interpreted in extreme ways easily.

In the world where good intentions do pave the way to hell, this is one of them. I understand the intentions intended to keep us all safe, but what’s one beneficial group’s tools can be a tyrant’s means.

With Harper the mind behind it, and Trudeau blindly or stupidly backing it, I’m honestly considering a protest vote against Harper… and I live in his riding of Calgary-Heritage.

As for those who’ve noticed my work and support for Kent Hehr in nearby Calgary Centre despite his being Liberal, this is one case where I support the best PERSON for the riding, not the party. He himself had nothing to do with C-51, and has fought not only for LGBTQ rights, but for the cause of those he represented in the past, and well. If you do vote in Calgary-Centre, you wouldn’t find a better representative.

Terry Lo, September 9th 2015

A tool for a good cause can be used for tyranny

A tool for a good cause can be used for tyranny

To Find C-51 Resources Go To:
http://www.quirksandquiddities.ca/a-collection-of-resources-concerning-bill-c-51-the-anti-terrorism-act/#s2

You’ll find the Bill as a whole, plus virtually all of the press and analyses behind it. The one created by Global Research is an especial compelling read that states and shows point by point the problems with it.

BILL 51 http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=6932136

LEGAL PRIMER http://www.globalresearch.ca/canadas-antiterrorism-bill-c-51-a-legal-primer-expands-the-powers-of-canadas-spy-agency-allows-arrest-on-mere-suspicion/5436727

The Days Before Tomorrow. 30 Years Later and a Call to Action

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.

Though lovers be lost

Though lovers be lost. I never forgot this poem as it always reminded me of her.

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.

Every Dad's Dream

Every Dad’s Dream

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:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

The First Kiss

The First Kiss

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.

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The Story of the Days Before Tomorrow and the Children

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 1 – An Introduction

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 2 – Shattered

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 3 – Betrayal and Hurts

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

The Days Before Tomorrow, The 10th Anniversary of Her Passing

After the Wildrose Storm, An Assessment and Answers

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?

Er, wha?

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.

SURROGATE FATHER?

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?

WHAT NOW?

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.

A Statement of Belief and Defense of Principle

Today, I made a small stand for what I believed in, leading to what probably was the shortest time I’ve ever held office as VP Communications for the Wild Rose Party in Calgary-Glenmore, and the end to my association with the party as well. Being the surrogate dad to a gay son, Asian, AND atheist, I was always an unusual member of the party. But a few events in the last year made me realize that I was in a place that was morally (to me) untenable. I resigned today with no reservations.

Wild Rose 2014 Resignation Letter – Click Here to Read

I’ve always seen myself as a fiscal conservative, but socially liberal. I believe in a balanced budget, responsible use of the public purse and more. But I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a strong supporter of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and a firm rejection of organized religion. I would suppose that would make me a moderate of sorts. I also try to emulate and follow a modern version of chivalry, whereas the highest aspirations of a person should be in service of others, and built a name in support of charity and goodwill in Calgary. I despise anyone who will not support the strength of their convictions, and I really do try to back my own acts come what may.

Until the WildRose, there really was/is no alternative to the PC Party. The Liberal and NDP parties are ineffective at best, absolutely forgettable at worse. I joined in 2009 and helped here and there and saw the party fortunes rise in the run up to 2012. In the belief of true libertarianism, where individual rights are more important than political expediency in the Lake of Fire debacle, leader Danielle Smith showed me true strength of character if not necessarily political realism. The party ended up managing to seize the jaws of defeat from total victory. But from that, a statement of equality (to atone of sorts) came from it, one that was truly inclusive. I believed I had found my place politically AND potentially ethically as well.

Even when the WildRose actually joined with the PC to vote down a bill to give LGBT youth a place to be safe, with that statement, I believed I might have been able to play a some sort of role to help shift social beliefs to create a truly inclusive party that can run Alberta responsibly. But alas, it was in the recent by-elections that I soon found myself encountering serious doubts.

At the Glenmore Inn election rally in October, I was going around talking to rank and file members to get an idea of what sort of issues they were encountering while door to door knocking. One thing they kept encountering among potential voters was doubt that the WildRose had put the Lake of Fire truly in the past. In face to face and online talks, I had spoken with other WildRose members who truly believed that any animosity of perception of racism and intolerance was over. But being a member of a sports team with gay members, and looking around at random WR events, I knew this was far from the truth. What was sad was this was confirmed as I walked around. But in those several chats, what especially disturbed me was that LGBT people were described as “uppity” and “whiners”. This wasn’t a bad joke, or even a casual careless statement. Looking at each face, it was an honest belief. Needless to say, I was actually angry, no more like pissed and furious, on TV as I was positioned to stand right behind Danielle at the rally. I was close to storming off that day, but calmed down by the end of her speech.

Happy me, and pissed off me on live tv after hearing from members that LGBT people were "uppity"

Happy me, and pissed off me on live tv after hearing from members that LGBT people were “uppity”

The more I was talking with members after the event, I was honestly horrified to see how truly clueless so many of them were about how WR was being perceived (though I admittedly was thinking more in terms of how to get the right message out to the voters AND the members). But with a useless slogan (send the PCs a message), the use of negative ads (which has proven to disenchanted voters in the US) and a surprising rise by the Alberta Party in Calgary – Foothills with a message of hope, I realized that the party might have been hijacked by the right-wing and was shifting right. I still had some hope that this might just be a bad sampling and only representative of individual opinions until this weekend.

This past weekend at the AGM, the party, either in the misguided misunderstanding that nothing LESS than the statement of equality would do after the Lake of Fire event, or out of genuine desire to swing far right, actually BACKTRACKED and voted out the 2013 statement that affirmed and protected HUMAN RIGHTS.

In that moment, the party actually went against their leader and the recommendation of the MLAs, and basically said “screw you” to groups that have never felt included, or protected adequately compared to the white, christian majority. And the sad part, the membership seems to be falling on the argument that the more generic “ALL” statement supported is more than adequate. It’s far from that. In an ideal world, where peace reigns and harmony rises upon the streets, then it would be. But not a single member can comprehend ever the fear of a LGBT or minority kid who’s been beat up by another kid who belongs to that majority. As this vote proves to many outside of the party, “All” in the context of a Wild “Lake of Fire” Rose means the same as the famous statement in Orwell’s Animal Farm: ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’

This vote confirmed to me that the misguided angry beliefs of a minority of the rank and file holds actual sway in party policy. I’ve since spoken to another notable ethnic member who confirmed a similar experience as well over years. Ideologically, I believe now that the party is swinging far right again on social issues, and as such, totally in opposition to my own beliefs. And ANY party that visibly does not protect my son, is one that has lost my support, and in fact, earned my opposition.

I’ve been asked to stay, to reconsider and try to rebuild from scratch and be a part of the culture. I can’t. I wouldn’t ever be able to face my friends and my son with any pride or self-respect. To me, to serve in WildRose while it shifts right is an act of cowardice and insults those I love and care for. But I will find a way to serve, even if it means finding some way to reform through another party, or as a voice on the sidelines.

It’s time to reassess my political direction in this province that I love and dedicated myself to better for all. Just a funny thing to mention though, I worked to get elected VP Communications because I wanted the right message about the WildRose to get across. As my first major act as VP Comm, I believe I actually did just that, by sending a farewell message to the party.

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One minor addendum. I actually did wonder briefly tonight if I should walk away quietly and not go any further. Then a particular malcontent and probably misguided fellow started to attack me relentlessly on Twitter board. I won’t mention his name, but his idea of insults are actually a badge of honour. He reminded me of the people I spoke to at the Rally… and as a result, I walk away proudly. And I won’t be silent.

(11-22-2014 Special note: There’s been a few questions that emerged over this whole tempest in a teapot. I’ve written a follow up blog piece that’s probably too long, a bit dull, but should clarify some things. You can read AFTER THE WILDROSE STORM here. )

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. 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.

Cheers.

Cheers.

An Anatomy of YYC Burger Week

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.

The YYC Burger Week Logo

The YYC Burger Week Logo

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.

The Competitors

The Competitors

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).

The 2013 Nainalicious Winning Burger

The 2013 Nainalicious Winning Burger

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.

Blowfish Sushi Lounge's Ramen Burger

Blowfish Sushi Lounge’s Ramen Burger

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!

Adventures in the Spy Biz: Reflection on the Final Days

Seven years. I’ve been involved in the Spy business for 7 years, and it comes to a relative end in 2 weeks.

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Always watching through the windows when you least expect it

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.

The Turducken VENGEANCE… Part I

In an inspired mood for my cooking…

PART I of the Turducken Vengeance … 

Twas the day before Xmas,
And in my small place,
Dear WK was snoring,
Pillow hiding her face

The Turkey breast was waiting
For me to hit flat
As well as the duck
Chick’n laid on the mat

For Terry had gotten
What he held quite dear
the Makings Turducken
That WK did fear

The celery was all chopped
the Bread was all done
the spices were ready
‘Cause cooking is fun!

So he grabbed the hammer
And hammered away
But this was a taking
way too long you’d say

So he looked around
His kitchen to find
An item to get him
Out from of this bind

He then grabbed a mallet
It was a bit better
Quite balanced and large
than the small hammer

Soon all of the meat
was done and quite flat
now time for the stuff’n
to finish all that

Soon after he had
A roulade all made
of 3 meats all filled
into pan where it laid

The oven was set
at 350 degrees
The results would soon show
the smells would soon tease

Then WK woke up
the loud noise my oh my
made sleeping quite hard
and said “he will now die”

But Terry had gone 
To the shower he went
Off to prep for the day
With dreams meat heaven sent

And in the hot stove
Did WK now did see
A Turducken Roulade
And she said angrily

“I ordered that boy”
“Nevermore could he make”
“Too bold does he act”
“My orders must take”

She bided her time
While he went on his day
with meat dreams of glory
To enjoy the next day…. 

To be continued….

PART II FOR XMAS DAY!

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Picture from http://crunchychewy.blogspot.ca/ , a truly AWESOME food blog. I hope my roulade tomorrow looks 1/2 as good!