My New Reality- Diabetes

Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. Often if one is neglected, or becomes ill, the other will follow suit eventually. During my days in mental illness, and on the far side of mental recovery, I let my physical health fall to the wayside. I could have gotten a way with it too if it weren’t for the conditions I already have physically.

I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. As a result, I was predisposed to developing diabetes. Well, I am no longer on the predisposed side. Recent blood work showed that I am now diabetic, as my blood sugar after fasting was 6.9. When I heard that I felt like I could hear my body laughing at me, and the judge slamming their mallet down: This was my punishment for letting mental illness run my life, and give into it in the form of eating a lot of fast food, not caring the kind of carbohydrates I was eating, and not bothering with exercise.

In hindsight I can see that it was due to my depression: My life is hopeless, who cares what I do with my body? Not a Christ-like attitude, nor even a responsible adult attitude. Just the attitude of someone who was convinced she was stuck and had no way out. I could sit down on my butt and assume the same thing, couldn’t I?

I could assume this is the end of the world. I could assume this is entirely fair, and kick myself for what I should and shouldn’t have done over these past 4 years or so. I could do all that and all I would accomplish is remaining miserable, and being back where I was just over a year ago. It won’t make diabetes go away and it won’t help me to move forward.

Instead I will simply say it is what it is and I will act accordingly. I cannot change what I did in the past. All I can do is change for the better, and change for the future. I will practice good self care, and I will control my diabetes. Just like with DBT I learned to control my Borderline!


Homework: Is its Death LONG Overdue?

Oh homework. It and I have quite the love-hate relationship: Back in school, I went from liking it to hating it to just barely tolerating its existence. Of course when I went to university, I pretended to like it because homework is 100% inevitable in post-secondary settings: For every hours I spend in class, I was expected to do at least 2-3h outside of class. That increased during my master’s work.

In pubic education, homework for many years was to a degree expected. Kids spend at least 30min after school practising what they learned in the classroom. For many subjects, like mathematics, homework is seen as essential to a child’s learning. Is that still true today?

Like many things in the education system, homework can be a subject of intense debate. Today the CBC released an article about a Winnipeg teacher, Jeremy Ritchot, who flatly refuses to assign his students homework. This teacher usually teaches grades 3 and 4, which are the grades when homework starts to become expected as opposed to the exception. To quote from the CBC article:

“Last year and even years prior to that, I’ve had kids that were panicking and stressed out and anxious because their homework wasn’t done,” Ritchot said.

It’s been a challenge to phase it out. Ritchot has increased the amount of work being done in the classroom so students don’t have to take it home. But he’s kept it fun and.already, he’s noticed improvements.

“Now I find they’re much more energetic. The participation level has increased tenfold, I would say. They’re less stressed. They’re more rested. And they’re better able to learn when they’re not bringing that baggage in with them,” Ritchot said (CBC News 2016).

In the debate brewing in the CBC comments’ section, as well as the CBC News Facebook page, there are arguments on both sides. For the anti-homework crowd, they believe that homework robs children of their childhood, and doesn’t let them be kids once school is done. Instead of going outside to play, and doing other extra curricular activities, they have to sit at home and do more arithmetic and reading. Furthermore, they point to examples of burnout in most adults who do work once their work day is done and to Finland where homework has been eliminated and have the highest grades in the world.

“It’s not an opening bid in a negotiation,” says Quelch. “It’s simply me stating, ‘These are the terms.'”

She came up with this policy three years ago when her daughter was in Grade 1 and came home with one too many packages of what she calls photocopied busywork.

“I used to just laugh when homework was sent home during JK and SK (junior and senior kindergarten). But now, I just say, ‘No’. It was a real relief when it stopped.”

For the Quelch family, it’s about work-life balance and protecting precious family time. Both parents are working, and when they get home at the end of a busy day, they’re exhausted, and they don’t want their daughter’s school to dictate how they spend their time together.

There are two exceptions to the no-homework rule. If her daughter is goofing off in class and doesn’t get her work done during class time, then she will have to do it at home. Or, if she is struggling with a concept and needs extra guidance, then Quelch asks the teacher to provide what she calls “meaningful homework” Luksic 2016).

On the pro-homework side, they point to short term childhood over long term adulthood. This long term usually begins in middle and high school grades, where homework is more than likely required, and post-secondary schools where homework is permitted. Homework is necessary to practice the skills learned in the classroom, and is needed for a well rounded education.

“We’re trying to give children more opportunities to learn by giving them more strategies,” she says. “If a child doesn’t know more than one way and they’re nervous, they have no other way to fall back on. You need practice to become proficient. It’s proficiency rather than memorization.” – Lynda Colgan, professor of education at Queen’s University.

Proficiency is all well and good but at some point you can’t get away from straight memorization in order to become proficient at anything.  I may not be understanding fully what professor Colgan is saying but I get the distinct impression that old fashion memorization has no value in her view.  Other “strategies” may have their place but I fear these strategies only serve to muddy the waters and make it more complicated for students to learn basic math skills.  It doesn’t seem to be working for my daughter (LeBlanc 2011).

They say the answer is not to get rid of homework, but to encourage children to learn time management and balancing life between school, play, family, and other things. After all, high school isn’t getting rid of homework and post-secondary institutions aren’t either. How is at least six years of no homework going to prepare them for it?

In some ways, I am on the fence with this debate: I can understand both sides, and I can see holes in them all.  Yet, I am still for homework because I do think it has a place in school. Instead of arguing why,  I will do is comment on the holes I see in the arguments.  Continue reading

Conservatives: Hypocritical Much?

Since Canada’s federal Liberal Party earned the majority government in last year’s election, the opposition has been quick to point out when the governing MPs overspend: Money for nannies, cost of photoshoots, travel expenses, and so many other things one could list. To them, specifically the Conservative Party, think the Liberals are just misusing tax payer dollars.

Of course, such begs the ultimate question: How are the Conservatives doing with their spending habits?! Only in the hundreds? Barely making a dent? Coming out of their own pockets? Ha!

They give Trudeau shit for having nannies,yet Rona Ambrose, the Conservative’s interim leader, has a taxpayer funded housekeeper and personal chef for her live in boyfriend
They pounced on Catherine McKenna for the costs of her Paris photo shoots, yet Clement revealed they spent 2-3 million dollars on photo shoots.
They ripped Gerald Butts and Kate Telford for their moving expenses, then this comes to the surface: Rona Ambrose moving and travel expenses totalled just under $320,000. The Liberal MPs she yelled at? ~$30000 were spent, and they were legitimate travel claims.

First, Rona, I am going to need my share of that $320,000 back. Secondly, I think your party represents Canada’s hypocrites, not the socially and politically conservatives. Thirdly, your party is conservative about what? Obviously not saving money.

Cheques for Legitimacy: Internet Scams Part 2

Yesterday I talked about common internet scams that pop up from time to time on my social media pages. I mentioned scams from fake tax representatives to sharing Facebook photos. I forgot one important that also keeps appearing from time to time. Since it’s such a big one, and so costly to the victim involved, I decided to give this one its own blog post.

What is it? Money laundering schemes that often come in the form of fake or forged cheques. This scam has been around since people could use cheques to send money, and will still be around as long as cheques are alive and kicking. Here’s how these tricksters work today, and how can avoid being their next victim:

Step 1: Offer You a Job

Text messages, emails, and even phone calls from apparent employers offering you or me a job occurs all across the globe. Usually these are unsolicited, and come from “companies” we never applied for. Yet, they contact us with promises of making money easily. Sometimes the “jobs” look legitimate: They’re looking for mystery shoppers, need someone to be a mobile marketer, or perhaps Coca-Cola needs a new admin assistant.


From the CBC Marketplace’s article. This is the original text message Louanne Cataford received. Tempting, right?

Today on CBC’s Marketplace a story was reported about a young university student who was offered a “job” through an unsolicited text message in Montreal. She never heard of the company, never mind applied to work for them, yet could not turn down making $300/wk driving around her car with their company logo.  When she emailed the sender, they seemed to answer her questions about the job in a fair, and unsuspicious manner.

Often they hide behind the names of legitimate companies, like Mystery Shoppers’ Canada or in Louanne Cataford’s case: ” Eden Water and Coffee, a legitimate European company” (Hendry, Leah; CBC; 2016). What happens next is where the red flag should appear, and I’m even going to put the heading in red!

Step 2: Get Paid before doing any Work?

The next step in this process is the “company” will send the person a cheque. The cheque will more than likely clear at the bank, and the new employee keeps a portion of the money as their first “pay cheque.” Then they are supposed to send via money order, or deposit into another bank account the rest of the money.

In the mentioned story above, Cataford was sent a $3,985 cheque from a customs’ brokerage firm in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. She was instructed to keep $300 for her first pay cheque, and then deposit the rest into a CIBC bank account so the graphic designer can make the banner for her car. She did as instructed, and her employer was willing to wait the 5-7 business days for the cheque to clear the bank, and then sent the rest of the money where it was supposed to go.

Unfortunately for her, which I can sympathize because she’s only 19, that entire paragraph should have been full of red flags: First, why would the company get her to pay the graphic artist, instead of sending the artist the money directly? Second, why is she getting paid before doing any work?


Step 3: Consumer Pays the Price

Originally in our story, she assumed the cheque must be legitimate, since it cleared after five days. Surely that is proof the cheque was legitimate, right? Not so fast…

“That’s a misperception that, yes, could be out there,” said Mélanie Baillargeon,  a senior adviser for security and fraud prevention at the Caisse Desjardins (Hendry, 2016).

In fact, no cheques are guaranteed until they’ve gone completely through the due dilligence via the bank. All that the five days do is ensure the account who issued the cheque exists, and the funds are there. In fact, the only cheques that don’t get put on hold are usually government cheques (GST, social assistance, etc), and that’s only if one cashes them at a bank teller.

Proving whether the cheque is counterfeit can take weeks to months. According to Payments Canada, a bank has 90 days to ensure a cheque’s legitimacy. Once it is revealed to be a fake, the onus is on the person who deposited the cheque to pay it back. That’s right, the onus is on the depositor to pay back the funds!

This is why people like Cataford find themselves in the whole for 1000s of dollars once the bank discovers the trickery. By this time the rest of the money and the fraudsters are long gone into the black hole that is the internet. This isn’t the only thing you could get in trouble for.

Once a person cashes the cheque, and breaks up the money, they have crossed the line from legal to illegal. The reason it goes into illegal territory is because this is a form of money laundering. 

Money Laundering: 

  1. the concealment of the origins of illegally obtained money, typically by means of transfers involving foreign banks or legitimate businesses.

 The farther and more divided the money goes, the harder it is to track, and the more illegal it becomes. As stated above, cheque fraudsters have been doing this for decades, and the internet and cell phones have allowed for things to get much easier for them: They can reach a wider amount of people, and spread the money wider geographically than ever before.

Good luck and God’s blessings to the authorities too finding the original tricksters. 

Key Red Flags to Look For:

  1. Initial Point of Contact: If you can’t remember applying to work for the company, ignore the person contacting you! No matter how tempting the money is!
  2. The email address provided: Legitimate companies may use gmail or outlook’s platform, but don’t have for their emails. Usually they’ll have company-based emails. Once you see @gmail, @hotmail, @yahoo, and etc. run away!
  3. Check for grammar/spelling: Employers should pride themselves on sending grammatically correct emails. If you are sent one with many spelling mistakes,  good chance things aren’t as legitimate as they seem.
  4. Get paid without doing work: Real employers don’t pay employees before they do anything for them. They certainly don’t give them cheques to cash and then go and pay other people working for them. The moment they talk about sending you a cheque where you keep a portion, and then send it to another account  is the moment you block the email, and block the number. Report it to the police too if you can!

Happy Ending

So, is our student from Montreal still owing $4000? Thankfully no, according to the CBC’s Investigate in Montreal:

After being contacted by CBC Montreal Investigates, the Caisse Desjardins set up a meeting with Cataford, and she was reimbursed the money she deposited in the CIBC account.

The Caisse’s investigation, which appears to have been prompted by CBC’s queries, showed that Cataford was the victim of a “well-orchestrated scam.”

It said financial institutions evaluate such circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

In a statement, the Caisse said the cheque had cleared through the normal clearing process and was then returned to the credit union with a fraudulent cheque notice.

“As Ms. Cataford was able to prove that she had not used or benefited from the $3,685, the Caisse conducted a complete review of the file and agreed to repay the $3,685, which was the amount returned to the fraudsters.”

“It’s been a heavy weight off my shoulders,” said a relieved Cataford.

Unfortunately, not all of the scammers’ victims are as lucky.

Unfortunately, indeed. Thankfully I am adding one more resource in the fight against fraudsters! Remember if it’s too good to be true, it is!


Warning: Internet Scams

Scam artists have been around since the dawn of time, and seem to get better with each passing decade. Only difference between the 1700s and 2010s iss telecommunication technology gives these scammers a means to get to a larger population of people instantaneously.

I see these scams come up again and again: Tax scams, fakes internet contests, pictures of sick children on Facebook with the promise a share = money donated, and the list could go on. What else goes on is the people who fall for them again and again.

This is why, after a couple of weeks break from blogging, I come back with an article about internet scams. While some examples are Canadian-specific, they still apply to the wider reality of scams!

Common Example: Taxes!

nigeriacartoon2While I’m going to use a Canadian example, the same is true in the USA:  The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is often a name many scam artists use in order to screw people out of $1000s/year by pretending to be legitimate representatives of Canada’s income and sales’ taxes. Often the scam artists contact people by phone, or by email, claiming they owe the CRA money and will go to jail if they don’t pay. Often they convince people to give over their credit card information and/or get them to buy gift cards and prepaid credit cards they can use the numbers given in order to go on spending sprees.  Recently a family in B.C. got scammed out of $8000 before the store clerk told them they were getting scammed.

I will say what is repeated on the CRA’s website: THE CRA DOES NOT TELL PEOPLE THEY OWE MONEY BY PHONE OR EMAIL.

I will repeat this again: The CRA DOES NOT contact people by phone or email.
They always inform people by mail, or via the individual or business’ CRA account. If someone calls claiming to be from the CRA, and tells you that you owe them money HANG UP. Thankfully the scams sent via email are usually caught by spam filters. Continue reading