Hacked !!!

ios-hackI would like to begin with today’s events as they happened.

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday) I visited a particular site that I frequently use. And stupidly clicked a foreign link. What I did not know, played out all day, well into the night.

As soon as I clicked it, my computer went crazy. So I deleted the file. The damage had already begun. A hacker, located in Western Canada, (Alberta) to be exact, I know this because during the evening he tried to hack my Facebook account, thank god for suspicious detection software, they noted that the log in was suspicious and they froze my account, I later found this out, when I got home.

But they had mapped his whereabouts and who he was and what he tried to do.

Thank you Facebook… I owe you one.

Anyways, I tried to start a virus scan, across many tools I have on my computer. They would start, then abruptly shut down. It took hubby some serious sleuthing to figure out how to contain the virus and get it detected, because the virus mimics completely normal functions while it hacks your system (I learned this along the way). It would disable all virus detection software.

First he hacked my primary email account and changed the passwords. I also did not know until much later that Google had sent queries to a secondary email that I later checked and saw them there.

Then he hacked my Pay Pal account and shut me out there as well. He signed up for a GAMING ACCOUNT on STEAMPOWERED.COM.

I later went there and found out it was a gaming site.

He opened an account and siphoned $150.00 (CAD) from my Pay Pal account.

Pay Pay, when used, in my case, I have a business account, they automatically forward the funds to the receiver right from the first click. Then in 2 to 3 days, they pull the funds from your bank account to cover the transaction.

Ok, We settled the virus and got rid of it. (7 p.m.) That took over two hours.

I had departed for the Thursday night meeting. More on that later.

While I was gone, my phone began to send me messages about my email account being closed and the password I was using was invalid. I had no idea what was going on till I got home.

So in a few hours time, he hacked into all my accounts, changed all the passwords and locked me out. He stole $150.00 to game with.

When I got home, (9:30 -10:00 p.m.) Google sent me a suspicious email, and I was able to recover my account and change the passwords. When I logged into my email, I saw the transactions that were made, because the email trail was left behind.

I called Pay Pal and they helped me restore my account to get in, because I was locked out.

They had to reset everything and walk me through an account restore. Then I talked to another agent who took my fraud claim and she closed the account because it was set up for multiple billing. She shut down the hacker account and stopped the charges.

She put a hold on the funds, because they are going to come from my bank in a day or two. When the charges hit from my bank to Pay Pal, they are already reversed. So I can just re-deposit the funds back in the bank.

I then started to systematically go through all my banking accounts, email and other assorted accounts that were hacked and changed all the passwords and the security questions.

The last phase was Facebook. I logged in and there was a freeze on my account, because, like I said above, they detected a foreign log in. And I had to tell them if I knew who they were, and they provided a mapping of where the hacker was.

I restored my account and changed the passwords as well.

What a fucking nightmare …

I went back to the site I was on and reported the hacker to them and the trail that was left behind. I have yet to hear from a moderator.

It seems that Steampowered.com is known to host fraudulent hackers who siphon money from hacked accounts to pay for game play on their site. I was not the first to report this kind of hacking.

Lesson learned …

**** **** ****

Tonight I heard a friend talk. I’ve known her for years and the take away was simple,

“Live and Let Live!”

UGH, like I needed a hole in my head when I got home.

I have much better stories to tell about this week, so more on that later tonight…

Friday … May 1st – May Day, Riots, Demonstrations and Mayhem

tumblr_n2w3uhcDia1rvyjllo2_500 spoonsdammitCourtesy: Spoons

Today is May 1st. Today is also my father’s birthday. Not that it matters, since we don’t speak, but it is what it is. We all know what has been going on in the United States these past two weeks. I don’t write about current events, because who needs another opinion on what I feel is wrong, and what we need to do to fix it.

Systemic problems in law enforcement are a common problem not only here in Canada, but in other places like the U.S. I believe that there is a tipping point in all of this. And another dead black man at the hands of police just reinforces that, ONE, the police, for whatever reason, are not paying attention to what other cops have done to other black men, and TWO, not learned the lessons, and so, THREE, on high horses, cops pegged a black man for unsubstantiated reasons, arrested him, shackled him and put him in a police van, then drove him to his death.

Everybody should be wary of police, because nobody is immune to police brutality. It could happen to any of us at any time. For years really, black communities have been target populations, their young people are unjustly targeted.

And it seems cops don’t give a shit about civil rights and proper policing procedures.

Two camps of people, both on edge, both warily watching each other, almost to the point of playing chicken, and as it happened again, one side acted, and the tipping point was reached, and what did we see, riots, looting, fires and civil disobedience.

The cops aren’t on a very good learning curve are they? They just seem to be shooting themselves in the heads week after week, and month after month.

Living above the Northern Border, watching life happen in the South, one has to detach because, one) It isn’t happening here, two) We cannot do anything about it, and three) it has nothing to do with Canada.

Pretty harsh, if it ain’t local, don’t worry about it.

Civil right are civil rights, no matter where you live. They just happen to be on live display down in the U.S.

We have our own problems to deal with here.

It was May Day today. And Canadians are demonstrating all over the country. Our Quebec government has introduced drastic austerity measures, and nobody has escaped these new laws they are trying to push forwards.

So like every Spring, as has happened over several years past, Montrealer’s really know how to protest. They go ALL OUT, or Go Home. From small demos to huge demos, people have been marching in the streets for a long time.

Today was no different.

The downtown core was disrupted, buildings were shuttered, bus routes were stopped, people were marching in the streets. Now the authorities have certain rules for engagement.

  1. All routes must be given in advance
  2. No masks
  3. No violence
  4. Be peaceful and behave and you can march
  5. That RARELY happens.

Our police force is a bit twitchy.

Most demonstrations that go off, are quickly quashed because of rules being broken. Our young people aren’t really afraid of the police. They go fuck all on the police. They scream, yell, throw rocks and bottles. They burn police cars and wreck public cars and buildings.

I was on the train going out this evening, and the trains were FULL of people, with masks, picket signs, and they were chanting on the trains ahead of the chanting they were going to do once they hit the streets.

I got to the church and friends of mine who had come from other directions, spoke about riots, tear gas and marauding hoards of people running through the streets and the police chasing them down.

So you see, even up here, we aren’t immune to social strife and demonstrations.

Spring offensives are a regular occurrence here. As soon as it warms up, those with a bone to pick, start planning. This has been a common theme over the last eight to ten months. For the last year, there have been silent protests by city employees, firefighters, the police. There are protest stickers covering police cars, firetrucks, metro cars, buses, you name it.

If you can stick a sticker on it, there you go.

Now add the layer of public disobedience, on top of pissed off authority figures, you have a disaster in the making. Two sides pissed off for their own reasons, clashing over other issues that have pissed city folks off, and the fire keg is set to blow.

And things are just getting started. It is going to be a long spring.

I have opinions, but I’d rather keep them to myself, so to avoid flame wars.

Tonight we talked about Character.

We sat a full house. Everything was good.

More to come. I just wanted to address the obvious and share a bit about Montreal.

Nobody is immune.

Freedom, Expression, Discretion

tumblr_m187ytnKBN1r3fvxmo1_500 thedarkblueCourtesy: The Dark Blue

Freedom is a notion that was put forwards when nations began. People moving from one locale to another to find Freedom. Because where they were, was not what people wanted. So they moved to new worlds, new continents, they sometimes took over places that were already full of people, and we all know how that story turned out.

Here in Canada, as in most Democratic countries, freedom is a privilege. I was born in a nation that prided itself on freedom. I was raised and taught about how my father fought for the freedom that we, his family, were privileged to live. But that freedom came with conditions.

Living under my father’s roof, I had to follow prescribed notions, beliefs and family gospel. This freedom, in the end, turned me inside out and I struck out to find my own kind of freedom.

I really did not find it. Because I was sunk in the bottom of a bottle.

Moving on in life, I was saddled by sickness and impending death. And I decided to make some changes that would, in the end, bring about “freedom” as I understood it, at the time.

Those changes brought me here to Canada. Montreal became my oyster. I had an opportunity to learn about a new country, a new city, new values, new codes and mores, I was, for all intents and purposes, free of the past, which I chose to shut the book on.

We come here, as tourists, as immigrants. To get in, you have to follow the rules. I followed the rules. And I earned my place at the Canadian table. I was struck by just how passionate people were to certain ideas and beliefs. I cultivated my life in living here, going to meetings, attending University, and living along side other people, who seemed to want the same freedoms I wanted.

The two topics you never talk about over Thanksgiving dinner are Religion and Politics.

You learn, through books, lectures and world events, where we all came from. The media, daily, pummels us with all kinds of information, we must choose what we take in and what we leave behind.

What’s good for one people may not be good for other people.

What’s good for one religion, may not be good for another religion.

What’s good for one country may not be good for another country.

We all have our rules, dogmas, taboos, mores, cultures and beliefs, practices so forth and so on.

Freedom to one to do, say, write or express ones self, may not be agreeable to another.

Like in Canada, we have a law that states, Hate Speech is not something, we as Canadians, entertain. There are world events that are non-negotiable. They happened, we can prove it, and to speak against such world events is taboo.

I’ve learned over the years, that there are topics that I won’t touch, with a ten foot pole. They are usually topics, that I know little about, educational wise, but I know about them, a bit. And I know just enough to know that I won’t write about them or discuss them in my community.

I paid a pretty penny for my University Education. My education has caused me grief over the years with certain religious groups, who assailed me daily with ridicule and apocalyptic threats to my person and my way of life. But I was steadfast, because I learned more about my field, and had enough education under my belt to stand my ground.

I found that certain people think they know things about a certain topic, and they believe they have the definitive last word, even though they never read anything farther than their bibles. And then they came here to condemn me and preach gospel, that I was well versed on and studied for over a decade. They eventually stopped bothering me, and went away.

THANK GOD !

I am versed on major world religions, to a point. I’ve studied them. And my area of concentration is Western Religions, Christianity, Judaism, Eastern Traditions to a point, and a bit on Islam. The only unit of study I failed in University was Islam. I did not get past the final paper. I had to attend remediation for weeks after that fiasco.

But during each unit of study I participated in each religious practice.

I went to Shul during my Judaism section. I attended Friday Prayers during my Islam studies. I was going to church regularly on Sunday’s,  so forth and so on. I did not just read a book or two and listen to lectures. I actually participated in religious practice.

The world sees religion through various lenses. For every human being on the earth, there is a version of their respective religious tradition.

We have our Holy Books. We have our traditions, our beliefs and our ways.

Living where I live, the leaders of our city, and for that matter our country, respect all religions and traditions.

TO A POINT.

If your religion tells you to go to a public place with an automatic weapon and kill people,
You need to find a new religion.

I cannot talk about the Middle East, but to a point. I don’t live there, I know basic history. Certain sections of the world have been embroiled in turmoil for centuries. And It would not be very wise for me to even think about entertaining discussion about those topics.

We have seen how certain countries in the world view certain religious topics. And how they take the notion of freedom, maybe, well maybe more, a bit too far.

We celebrate the freedom to speak, and the freedom of the press, and the freedom to think whatever we want to think, believe and to a point act on.

The world knows, and has known for centuries how certain religious people read, believe in and respect their Holy Books. The world is well versed in taboo, respect of tradition, and how that all boils down.

Then there are those who’s only goal is to push their holy books down our throats and kill us because of them. Not everybody around the world respects the other very well, or not at all. Somebody please show me the hadith that says that killing is a Godly action?

In the Hebrew Bible it is written that you shall make no graven images of G-d.

Christians across the world know what God looks like, what Jesus looks like, and the Cross of Christ Crucified is a tangible sign of our belief. Some wear the cross on their sleeves like martyrs.

Every Religion has their laws, proscriptions and taboos.

  • I am 100% against the killing of innocents, ANY innocents
  • I do not subscribe to the thought that I am an infidel
  • There is no religion that states that killing is a Godly action
  • To believe that the Prophet, peace be upon His Holy name, asks Muslims to kill, is a crime against humanity
  • If your religion asks you to go to a public place with automatic weapons and kill people, you need to find a new religion

I don’t understand why countries allow freedoms to cross that invisible line of decorum and discretion. I don’t understand why people write words or paint pictures or speak words, that they well know, will incite anger. Incite REAL ANGER.

Freedom is not really true, because we believe certain things, and we do or do not do certain things, because they are either wrong or incendiary. In media there are censors, on tv there are censors, and even in print media there are censors. But as we have seen, people continue to break social norms and crank out incendiary media which goes out even faster today thanks to social media.

I agree that we must be free to be able to express ourselves as we please, within the confines of proper speech and discretion.

Discretion is the better part of Valor, they say …

The world is sunk in a war that will not end if we all agree and we stop fighting and we all get along.

We all don’t agree. We all won’t stop fighting. And We all won’t get along.

Militant fighters are hell bent on creating havoc, to kill the infidel and to eradicate populations of people off the face of the earth all in the name of The Prophet, peace be upon his holy name.

Religious factions are split down irrevocable lines.

What does one do, when there are entire warring factions of fighters out there, who’s only goal in life is to Kill Us, and attain martyrdom and inherit seventy two virgins when they die? The battle over who lives and who dies is a terrible problem. And we are no nearer a solution today than we were decades ago.

Innocent people have died around the world because of this taint on religion. Hundreds of thousands of people over generations have been wiped off the face of the earth because of hatred and jihad.

There is no salvation in the killing of innocents.

But what do you say about those people who knowingly cross those invisible lines of freedom, expression and discretion? They knew what they were doing was incendiary, and they pushed the buttons anyway. Were they just expressing their freedom or were they knowingly fanning the fires of hatred and jihad, and today twelve people are dead because of such actions?

I 100% do not agree with crossing incendiary lines. If you want peace with those who want to kill you, for God’s sake, stop the presses, and curb your speech. Stop pushing religious buttons, just because you think you can, and get away with it, without repercussions.

God does not condone killing in any fashion for any reason.

Only God should be able to take a life.

But I will state again, if you kill an innocent. a child, a human being, for the sake of your God, we will hunt you down, and we will kill you. I have said this once before, the day militants killed innocent children in Pakistan, and I will say it again.

This Holy War will not end with the eradication of the infidel from the earth. You will never achieve nirvana or salvation in this war of Gods and beliefs. There is no salvation in killing innocents.

As long as the world has to live with the constant fear of someone walking into an office, or a school, or a sky scraper, or a Parliament building with the intent to kill us, we will defend ourselves.

If you kill a child or an innocent, then I state my belief that the bible says an Eye for an Eye and and Tooth for a Tooth. Killing innocents is a crime against humanity.

We know what the extermination of human beings looks like. And we are seeing it again in modern times.

This must stop.

But how ???

The Pride of Canada … Juniors Win GOLD against Russia

canada-10_635x250_1420519026.gifAfter a drought of years, Canada’s Men’s Junior Hockey team rose to the occasion.

The Final Game Canada versus Russia, was a hard fought battle and when it came to an end

Canada won !!!

Our Young men can be proud of their achievement tonight. We are all so proud of you.

You did the Country Proud. Well Done.

Merry Christmas 2014

tumblr_lw2bl4yyhC1qzcvqpo1_500 rawrdanieltumblr_m87fjdSpOA1ravgvuo1_500 jackandfinnCourtesy: RawrDaniel and JackHarries – Christmas Past

I stayed up late last night watching the Tubes for a while. Our local radio station that usually does overnight radio, is running Christmas music ad nauseum, ugh enough already !!! BAH !!!

Like I have said before, we really don’t get into that shop till you drop mentality. So Christmas is a little subdued. A couple of gifts, things we need, or maybe a surprise or two in the mix. Holidays are really about family and friends, and the table we will sit at later today.

This Christmas was all about Woks, headphones, and Max …

Hubby is Le Chef de Mission here at home. Keeping with tradition, he gets the latest and greatest cooking pans on the market. One of our staple meals is stir fry. And we needed a new Wok, so that was under the tree.

Then it was the Big Box – gifts for both of us in one swing. That was a big hit. New headphones.
Thank you Skull Candy !

Max got an upgrade with a 1 GB memory stick. That was much needed, because my library is pretty full as it is. I also got a shiny new mouse pad. My old mouse pad was really in bad shape.

That’s it for gifts. Nothing too grandiose.

The bird is in the oven, and we are on track for an early afternoon dinner with friends.

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A Christmas Reflection 2014

Today the Queen of England spoke about reconciliation, and the pause in hostilities during the Great War, where British and German troops, in dug out trenches, put down their guns, as the German soldiers sang “Silent Night,” in the night. The British followed suit.

What happened next is the story of legends. The next morning, Christmas Day 100 years ago today, the soldiers came out of their trenches meeting in no mans land for a game of footy, and to exchange presents and greetings.

Imagine, if the world today, took a collective breath, and hostilities were stopped for one day. Imagine, if the world could bring the many, into reconciliation, and END hostilities world wide !

IDEOLOGIES …

I have a friend who eschews holidays, those consumer driven celebrations that pop up every once in a while, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Christmas … Love is an every day feeling. Family is an everyday gathering. Celebrating the lives of others, is a 365 days a year event.

We’ve learned, over the years, what is most important. When the tree goes up, it is a family event. It is a celebration of love, because we created a ritual for the tree. At Christmas our extended family goes well beyond to gift us all with something particularly special. And we return the gesture in kind.

For the past few years, our older members in the fellowship have been alone, they live alone and only go out for meetings, or shopping, or they go without. Us younger members have taken on the work of living in community with our men and women.

We break bread with them regularly. We celebrate holidays together, some share musical talent with them. All so that we do something good on a regular basis, with them, so that they are not alone. My guys are all connected to helping others when they can. Because they are able, and it is the right thing to do.

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus. A blessed birth come to pass in a humble manger in Bethlehem. Yes, the birth of Christ is important. It is the beginning of the story. But if you think about it, the end of the story of Jesus, is the culmination of God becoming man, and having a human experience, to sacrifice himself for the good of mankind.

Christ came to speak words of truth, to heal the sick, to chastise the greedy and wealthy, to give food to the hungry and pardon the sinner. He called twelve men to follow him, they would eventually follow and begin to create simple Christianity, that has blossomed into the Christianity of today.

The end of the story, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, is Man’s Saving Grace. Sacrifice is God’s greatest gift to mankind. He came so that we could have life, and life abundantly. Christ dying on the cross is the pinnacle of the meaning of Christianity. Coming to save man, by dying on a cross.

Sacrifice … Love … Salvation …

I remember when I was a young boy, going to my first retreat, and hearing the words, and listening to people speak about God, Jesus and Salvation. And at the end of it all, the altar call came, and one by one we stood and turned our lives over to this man we call Jesus.

It was a Mountaintop experience.

But like Moses, we too, had to come down from the mountain, and re-enter the world.

In those days, open carrying a bible in public school, was akin to having leprosy for teens.

It marked you as different. Odd. They called us Jesus Freaks, and we were. For a while at least.

I can’t say that I succeeded in my zeal for Jesus given the home I lived in and the schools I went to.

But that time is not lost on me considering my university education and the work I do every day.

Imagine what it was like to proclaim the life of Jesus as a follower to your fellow man. Imagine what it was like for those apostles and then the people. It was like that for us. I’ve learned a great deal of what it means to follow the man we call Jesus today.

That is a 365 day journey. Not just on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day, or Epiphany.

We should love one another every day. We should honor our mates every day. We should honor our children every day. The holidays have been Frankensteined into conglomerate days of greed, money and consumerism.

If it ain’t black Friday, it doesn’t matter.

Tomorrow, bar none, people will be lining up, getting dirty, and fighting tooth and nail to get that 6 a.m. door buster prize. And I guarantee you that by 6 p.m. there will be numerous reports of holiday cheer going out the window as people beat each other up, or shoot one another for that Big Screen tv, or pair of high end sneakers.

Christmas is a day. I’ve encouraged my friends to go out into their communities and serve the less fortunate. But this too is not just a Christmas job, it is an every day job. I’ve said before that if we took all that money we spend on national and international defense and war spending and putting that money to better use, we could change the lives of millions in short order.

Sadly, the world operates on the conflict of the people, whether we like to admit that or not. It is Big Business. And those who have all the money and power rely on the conflict within the people to make their millions, billions and trillions of dollars.

The Christmas message is lost on them totally.

If you miss the real meaning of Christmas, let me remind you of a few point of order:

  • It’s not about the gifts under the tree, but the people around it
  • It’s not about how much money you spend, but the love that you share
  • It’s about family and who sits at your table for your holiday meal
  • It’s about that checker girl/guy at the grocery store, be kind
  • It’s about the less fortunate and random acts of kindness
  • It’s about the birth and beginning of the life of a man who would change the world
  • In the end it is all about the Sacrifice for the salvation of the world
  • It isn’t about what religion you profess, but the God that gives you life
  • It is the peace you share, and the fact that we are spiritual beings having a human existence

The Holidays are a “WE” event. It is not an “I” event. Dinner later on will be a We event.

And later tonight, WE will gather for a Christmas Night Meeting.

More to come …

Part 2 …

The weather held for the evening. But man is it windy. Where is all that wind coming from, and where did it originate? The wind was buckling the windows all evening while we napped after Christmas dinner.

Dinner was a nice meal, with friends and family.

We set out a bit early due to the fact that the buses are on Sunday Schedule for the holiday. Arriving at the church, a good number of people came out for the meeting. I half expected more to come, but we filled the room nonetheless.

Tonight we heard one of our women. One of the many women who feed my desire to be a better man, a sober man, who has done his work, and gives it away to others who want it as well.

In the beginning the story is the same. We were born, most, into dysfunctional families, feeding us mixed, and sometimes the wrong message about ourselves. And that leads into us becoming who we are in that period of time, and usually, but not in all cases, the messages we are fed, lead us into the world of drugs and alcohol to escape, to enhance, and even to blot out what we are hearing and in the end feeling.

Some, in the beginning, come, they look around, and they leave. We find this the case with our young people. How can I, (read: Being so young) have such problems that would need the intense work that we provide to them? For many young people, youth means that they have at least ten to fifteen years of good partying life ahead of them, and the mere thought of turning it all over and coming in for good is such a Tall Order …

Some come, and they stay, and they make a life out of it. But the stats are not good.

The WOMEN I speak so highly about so often, changed my life. Most of those women, by extension and by lineage, are sponsored, grand sponsored and great grand sponsored by women who live in New York City. The message came from one, to the next, and the next, and then finally to them personally. I was in the right place at the right time to hear this and see this in action.

And I wanted so badly to be part of it. And now I am. They say it is difficult to blunt a raging forest fire. Imagine for a moment, a bunch of crazy women on fire for the book and the solution. I had lunch with one of my ladies yesterday. They all warm my heart.

If you stick around, and you get the right message, that the book gives you, you too can join the fire for the book as well. They say that if you want to hide something from an alcoholic, put it in the Big Book. Because most alcoholics won’t read the book, until it is imperative they do so. You can only sit in your chair for so long, until someone sits with you and offers to take you through the book like we do it.

The Solution … I’ve learned that I can be with myself. Alone, quiet, in the center of the storm where the winds are calm. I’ve learned that I don’t have to save anyone, that all I have to do is take care of me, and with that done, I can help take care of someone else.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

Listening to sponsees, reminds me why I am here. Because I hear what happened to them, and I know that some of the same things happened to me as well. Good Healing Fire spreads quickly. We hear our friends share in discussion meetings, but it is also good to hear them share on the open stage at a speaker meeting. I’ve heard her before, and tonight I got to see and witness personal progress.

We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.

Every day we get a daily reprieve, contingent on our spiritual condition.

I understand what that means to me. Because I learned how to do it myself. You may not be one for prayer, or meditation. And in the beginning who can sit still for more than five minutes, at that? I had to practice. And that practice took months upon months, With serious time under my belt.

I had to step up my game if I wanted to reap the rewards of spiritual fitness.

Three, Seven and Eleven … daily, on your knees, humble before God. It is an act of humility to get down on ones knees to pray. Because they say, “When life gets too hard to stand, Kneel.”

Everybody has a journey to take, and no two journeys are the same.

THE WORK is the same for all of us, out of the same book, heading in the same direction.

That’s why I read the book with my guys once a week. That’s why I read the book with my sponsor.

Today, I, like many of my friends, live in the solution.

It was a good night.

My other observation for the night was of one particular homeless man, who has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober. And probably longer than that. The homeless in our city have a routine.

Whether they begin in the East and and work their way West, or from West to East, they either ride the rails, or ride the bus. From one side of the city to the other. Most of them go without food on a daily basis, but they have enough money to provide a bus pass to travel.

Where does that money come from, who provides it, when they can’t afford to eat?

Meetings run on similar lines across town, North, South, East and West. You can get to any meeting by rail and by bus. Our homeless population are well known in our circles, because they show up diligently on time for the meeting, for free coffee and cookies, and/or whatever free food is on the table. That is probably the mainstay of their meals on any given day, unless of course they visit a shelter or food station downtown.

Our city and by extension, our country hides a dark secret, out in the open, and we are powerless to affect change. The city can only do so much. Volunteers can only do so much, and the shelters and food stations can only do so much. Winters are brutal for our homeless. Because there are so many, there are spare resources for them on any given night, so they troll the city from one end to another every night.

Some collect bottles and cans. That is certain money in their pockets. Can and Bottle return is a booming business. The grocery store on the corner does really good business every day. I see the same folks come day in and day out, with tons of cans and bottles. One of them, I don’t know where he gets them all, but he probably collects a thousand cans a day add to that boxes of beer bottles as well.

There are entire populations of people who go without. Entire populations that live well, WELL below the poverty level. People at high levels of government have asked the Prime Minister what he will do for the those who need so much, and last week I heard him say on tv, that “well, they are not even on our radar, to be honest!”

How can you run a country that has so much, and gives so much away to foreign nations, that so many of your own people go without, and come off saying that they are not on your radar and that in turn, they are not important for the country, the provinces and the entire nation?

How can you stand yourself knowing that you ignore entire populations of people, because it isn’t expedient or that it is beneath you – or not politically sound to care or even act like you care for votes when the time comes?

That’s a political hot potato.

Human interest stories at the governmental level are ignored.

No government is perfect, anywhere in the world.

In a country that is so rich, a first world nation, we have entire populations of people who live in third world conditions, and that is terribly sad. I have ideas to float for all of these problems. They sound easy to me when I repeat them in my head, they sound good, they look good, but in the end, to make sweeping changes that many of us agree need to be made, that would take money. More money that most governments want to throw on people who do not matter to their bottom line.

VOTERS.

Most of those people do not vote. Most of those people have substandard homes if they have that at all, countless numbers of them are homeless, drug addicted and alcoholic. Many of them have mental and emotional problems that are never addressed because there is no money and not enough resources to help them all. Hell, even in first world populations, in the biggest cities, across the country, many people face these same problems, and they too go without.

We are heading into election territory in 2015.

Getting these issues onto a stage where they are heard and dealt with is wishful thinking.

Another Christmas, and some of our folks went without. again …

It costs money to take a homeless person off the street. Clean them up, first, then try and find them someplace safe and economical to live, but then you need to find the money to allow them to pay rent, utilities, buy food and live a substantive life. Treat their problems accordingly, but with what resources and from where? How do we do that ?

I asked a friend on the way home about the man I am speaking about now, and I said that he has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober, how do we get him off the street ? And his answer was simply, that he doesn’t want to get off the street ! Now is that by choice, by default, or lack of concern for his own welfare?

This is all terribly troubling when we live these lives of having everything that we need. And on the fringe, just below the radar, so many have little to nothing to call their own.

What did you do for the least of these today?

jersey crop

And with that, my Very Mario Christmas comes to an end.

Thank you for reading, for subbing and for being a part of my life.

Goodnight.

The Great Return

football-mario-gotze-fc-bayern-munich-munchen_3183483jersey cropA Very Mario Christmas Continues …

Guess what came in the mail today …

The excitement of the holidays has begun.

We welcomed friends who arrived from out of town, just in time for the Friday Night Meeting. People will be coming and going over the next two weeks, and our social schedule’s for those weeks have been already planned to maximize all the time we have together, before people go back to their respective schools across Canada and the United States.

In other news … Unlike the downtown core, where there is little snow piled up, basically because it has already been plowed away, up on the plateau where the Friday Night Meeting resides, there is snow piled up ALL over the place. Cars are buried, sidewalks are passable because the city workers plowed away enough snow to make them passable.

I suited up, with many layers, incorporating my new jersey, front and center, bundled up and headed out. There are 2 stations on the same line that are equidistant from home, one up towards the college, Eastbound, and the other down to the mall, three blocks Westward. I needed tickets in any case, and I can get them at the pharmacy, which is in the mall, above the train station.

So that was  my plan.

There were lots of people coming and going. People are certainly taking part in the holiday shopping binge. The mall stations were packed with merry holiday goers. So I made my transit, and I was amazed to see that my phone actually works on the train across both the Green and Orange lines.

They have been upgrading the cell reception and service across the core stations and it seems they tweaked the outbound stations on the Orange line, that I take to get to the meeting. For the second time recently, I got a live text while in the tunnel, with the train in motion. YAY Telus !!!

We sat a good group. A friend that I haven’t seen in some time, came, and actually, I had been thinking about him specifically, over the past few days, and I like to believe that when we think of people. we send a ripple out to the universe, and within hours, or sometimes, days, they show up.

The universe is funny in that way.

These are hard times indeed. Our folks have been coming from other places, and new folks that don’t usually come, have shown up and visitors from out of town are in for the holidays. We are happy to oblige. We talked about A.B.S.I. and “We cannot live alone.”

This particular reading speaks about steps four and five respectively.

“… We cannot wholly rely on friends to solve all our difficulties. A good adviser will never do all our thinking for us. He/She knows that each final choice must be ours. He/She will therefore help to eliminate fear, expediency, and self deception, so enabling us to make choices which are loving, wise and honest.” Grapevine August, 1961.

I remarked to a friend that there is always something to take away from every meeting. It might be a word, an exercise, or just an identification.

In the beginning, folks are very leery about step work. Especially when they consider the “what we think” daunting process of writing our step four. Then speaking it through Step five. Tonight, there was not one horror story. Many of us have done them, and found that they were truly enlightening, freeing and liberating. Everyone had a unique story to share on the topic.

THEN …

We heard about a writing exercise, that is said to be the most powerful writing exercise that is used at the famed Betty Ford Clinic.

  • Pen to paper – Write out the Third Step prayer
  • Pen to paper – Write out three lists: Resentments, Fears and Gratitude list
  • Pen to paper – Write out the Seventh Step prayer

We do this on a daily basis, first the prayers, then our lists for that respective day. You must put at least three things on the Gratitude list every day. And as we do this writing exercise, we watch how items move between the lists and eventually land on the gratitude list.

If you can commit to this writing exercise, it will prove to be a most useful tool.

Every little bit of experience pays off from time to time. Our young people can never get enough of stuff to do to keep them “on the beam.” And those of us who have some time and experience, adding a little something here or there tends to be very useful in our daily ritual of prayer and writing.

I am very keen on having the guys I work with follow simple suggestions.

Like I mentioned yesterday, eventually, for better or for worse, your sponsor should help you along with tools that will make your life easier, which is to say, a good sponsor knows what they are doing, and I work very hard to be that person. And If I suggest something to my guys, again, for better or for worse, following a suggestion usually ends up in the positive column often.

If I’ve done it, or heard that it can be done this way, or know someone who had results doing something specific, I do it myself, then I suggest that idea out, and I watch the results.

It all comes down to The Work …

You are either In It or you are IN IT TO WIN IT …

Which leads back to How it works, chapter five … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.

Little did I know, how that sentence changes in literal meaning, the further IN IT you get.

I mean, this seminal reading we hear ad infinitum at every meeting, read over and over, day after day, night after night, these words now leap off the page when I hear them read. Because now I know what it feels like to go to ANY length.

Imagine it only took me eleven years to understand this.

It took another member who was IN IT to tell me that I need to be IN IT and how to do that.

What a rush …

I love my life. My friends. My fellows.

It was a love fest tonight, that will continue until January 5th.

I’ve heard about gratitude living, and there I usually roll my eyes …

But I truly know what that feels like and means for me.

We need people in our lives, but in the end, the final choices should be ours alone, given with good guidance from people we trust. Not having to pollute ourselves helps a great deal in learning how to make right and good decisions, soberly …

More to come, stay tuned …