Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Friday, January 30, 2015

Men. Women. Children. No one is safe from torture in the Philippines.

Stop torture in the
Philippines: No one
is above the law
Dear Tracy,

In a secret detention center in the Philippines sat a large roulette wheel.

On the wheel, descriptions of various torture positions were spelled out.

Spin the wheel and land on "30 second 'Paniki' (Bat)," and a detainee would be hung upside down like a bat for 30 seconds.

Spin again and land on "20 second Manny Pacman," and a detainee would be punched non-stop for 20 seconds.

In the Philippines, no one arrested by the police is safe from torture. The 2014 discovery of this wheel -- known as the "Wheel of Torture" by the officers using it for entertainment -- only served to highlight this. When the Philippines Commission on Human Rights discovered the wheel inside a secret detention center in Laguna, forty-three detainees were also found, with most displaying marks indicating torture.

Torture has been a crime in the Philippines since 2009. Despite an increase in reports of abuse by police, no one has been brought to justice. Insist that President Aquino admit to the problem and enforce an end to it.

The Philippine National Police is one of the most understaffed forces in the world, and corruption is rife. Though sworn to "serve and protect," the police are under pressure to obtain 'results' and will do almost anything to get them.

Most incidents of torture go unreported or unresolved in the Philippines. In fact, of the 43 detainees discovered in the secret detention center, only 23 filed charges with the prosecutor's office. Nearly a year later, all 23 cases filed were still awaiting resolution.

Tell Aquino: No one is above the law -- not even the police. No one gets away with torture.

In solidarity,

Nerve Macaspac
Country Specialist
Amnesty International USA

For my family: Action instead of despair

For my family: Action
instead of despair


Dear Tracy,

On the night of the gas disaster in Bhopal, I was six months old and living across from the Union Carbide pesticide plant with all ten members of my family.

When the toxic gas filled with deadly chemicals leaked from the plant, panic broke out. One of my sisters wrapped me in a blanket and ran away.

She is the only reason I survived. On that December night, the gas killed my parents, two of my brothers and three of my sisters.

Just three of the ten of us remained.

On behalf of my family, call on President Obama and Prime Minister Modi to take action for survivors of the disaster in Bhopal.

My sister and I grew up in an orphanage in Bhopal. Because of the disaster, I never knew what it meant to have parents.

To date, it is estimated that more than 20,000 people have died as a result of the leak. Hundreds of thousands more suffer from ongoing health issues.

Though it's been more than 30 years, generations born in the years and decades since the disaster are still "surviving" Bhopal. The contaminated air, soil, and water have caused birth defects and other health problems for survivors, their children and grandchildren. Bhopalis like me have never received adequate compensation to cover injuries sustained. I personally suffer from pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in my lung. Many others have been driven deeper into poverty. And yet, the companies involved in the leak have never been held fully accountable.

Together, we can work to change this. We must push the U.S. and India to create a joint plan of action that provides adequate medical assistance and a full environmental clean-up of the site.

It's easy to feel angry about the leak, and the loss, and my people's ongoing struggle for justice.

But I won't allow my story to devolve into a place of despair.

Together with Amnesty International and the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, I'm choosing to be active instead in pushing the leaders of India and the U.S. to act. Join me.

Sanjay Verma

Unprecedented and catastrophic: Largest attack by Boko Haram yet

Boko Haram continues
bloody rampage

Dear Tracy,

Armed group Boko Haram is attacking Nigerians in the northern part of the country on an unprecedented and catastrophic scale.

Amnesty International investigators are in Nigeria and have just released shocking evidence of the largest and most destructive attack ever on Nigerian civilians by Boko Haram militants.

Donate now and your donation will help keep our researchers on the ground so they can investigate and publicize war crimes and crimes against humanity - so no perpetrator can hide.

What we're seeing in Nigeria is unfathomable.

Here's what we found:
  • Detailed satellite images show devastation of catastrophic proportions in two towns - Baga and Doron Baga. The latter was almost wiped off the map by Boko Haram attacks in the space of four days.
  • During the siege, Boko Haram militants were shooting indiscriminately, killing even small children and one woman who was in labor.
  • Boko Haram militants kidnapped 300 women who had escaped the attack on Baga and are still detaining some of them in a school.
Amnesty is keeping the pressure on Boko Haram to cease its attacks and release all of the people it has abducted.

We are urging President Goodluck Jonathan to protect the lives of Nigerians in the region and to end impunity for crimes committed by Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces.

And we are pushing the international community to assist the Nigerian government in implementing more effective responses to Boko Haram that do not cause further human rights violations.

Since 2011, 15,000 people have been killed and at least 500,000 have been displaced as a result of this conflict. The people of northern Nigeria need our help. Please stand with them. Make a donation to support our efforts keeping investigators in the field to document these crimes.

Thank you for your support.


Adotei Akwei
Managing Director of Government Relations
Amnesty International USA

Tell Obama: Keep your promise. Reform the U.S. criminal justice system.

Get Involved
Act Now

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama told us that reforming the United States' criminal justice system is a priority in 2015.

Help us hold the President and his cabinet accountable to the President's word.

Help ensure every individual's human rights are protected, respected and fulfilled.
Take Action!

Share This Action
Share on Facebook. Share on Twitter.
Dear Tracy,

Last night, President Obama told us that reforming the U.S. criminal justice system is a priority for 2015:

"Surely we can agree it's a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America's criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all."

Last year, the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner —both at the hands of police officers — highlighted the need to address the use of force and discrimination by police in the United States.

As the President moves to rebuild trust and rehabilitate the nation's criminal justice system, he must closely examine the persistent and widespread pattern of racial profiling among law enforcement officers. He must ensure that the U.S. is a nation whose practices guarantee that every individual's human rights are protected, respected and fulfilled.

Join me in calling for rights-respecting and accountable policing.

The U.S. must be a nation in which policing practices are brought into line with international human rights standards. It must be a nation that mandates that officers may only use firearms as a last resort.

The U.S. must be a nation in which the Department of Justice seeks to accurately collect comprehensive national data on police use of force, making that information readily available to the public.

And the U.S. must be a nation in which systemic racial discrimination is addressed and eliminated.

Call on the Department of Justice to take action to address race and policing in the U.S.

We at Amnesty International welcomed the President's creation of a federal task force on policing in the 21st century. But my hope is that this is just the beginning of comprehensive reforms and accountability that will ensure that all law enforcement officers can be trusted — rather than feared — by the people they are sworn to protect.

In solidarity,

Steven W. Hawkins
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

“Getting her feet wet” / “I don’t have enough to do. Should I say anything?”

Dec. 20 “Getting her feet wet”: I cut out this National Post article by W. Brett Wilson on Dec. 5, 2011.   Here it is about entrepreneurship:

One of the first questions I ask entrepreneurs looking for an equity investor is: How much time and money have you invested? The answer usually reflects their commitment.

Corla Rokochy, founder of Corla’s Kids Creations Inc., may go down in history as the most successful entrepreneur to go on Dragons’ Den with the lowest initial cash investment. She auditioned with a simple $5 prototype — a pair of purchased socks attached by a couple of snaps. 

The mother of five had a simple but smart idea: making socks that snap together before washing and drying to make sorting, well, a snap.

After the audition, Rokochy spent a lot of time registering and trademarking Snappy Socks, and creating an online presence. She pitched the dragons’ with no sales and only a dozen or so sample socks. But because her idea made perfect sense, she got two offers — a low-ball from Kevin O’Leary (which she graciously and intelligently declined) and a joint offer from Arlene Dickinson and I, which Rokochy accepted.

The deal: The deal accepted on air was $50,000 for 50%. During due diligence, Dickinson decided not to proceed, so I took my 25% for $25,000. Rokochy invested some more of her own funds.

To get the manufacturing underway, my first priority was to get Rokochy connected with a China-based sourcing company — a group of Canadians living in China and acting as sourcing agents for Canadian entrepreneurs. One of the biggest issues was finding a snap that wouldn’t rust in the wash or irritate the wearer.

Rokochy spent the entire $25,000 on inventory. It took six months before she had the first shipment and she’s been actively selling since August. Her appearance on Dragons’ Den helped her establish sales relationships with 55 retailers, representing every province across Canada and she is adding two to three stores each week. To date she has racked up more than $20,000 in retail sales.

Rokochy’s challenges Corla’s Kids Creations isn’t Rokochy’s first business, but importing and manufacturing presented a whole new learning curve. She has hired a sales rep to help with shipping and receiving and invoicing.

“Everything takes way more time and money than I imagined,” she said. After three months, she is halfway through her stock, and is planning the timing and amount of the next shipment. It will take three months for the shipment to arrive and she doesn’t want to miss any potential upswing in sales, or sit on a big shipment if sales are slow.

The founder’s take on things: Of my investment, Rokochy says: “Brett didn’t just invest money, he invested in me as a person and entrepreneur. We feel like we’re part of his family.” Recently, Rokochy joined a group of family, friends and staff to build homes for the homeless in Mexico
She’s become inspired by the opportunities for giving back, and is asking herself what more she can do to make her community a better place. “It’s not just about making money,” she says.

Rokochy is also philosophical about the entrepreneurial process. “When people see the socks, they say, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ If I’ve learned anything through this process, it’s that if you’ve got an idea, go for it. You’ll never regret action, but you might well regret not following your dream.”

What’s next: Rokochy will attend a huge trade show in Las Vegas in February where 80 countries will be represented. She is also in conversation with a major distribution company whose network includes 1,700 retailers — an opportunity that came from a Dragons’ Den update show. As she enters the U.S. market, she will be looking for guidance on financing and managing inventory. If the distributor relationship develops, Rokochy could be looking at upward of $250,000 in sales next year.

She says the last year or so has been a ton of hard work, but also a lot of fun. With children ranging between three and 15 years old, she’s focused on potty training and driver training all at the same time. She admits that family activities and other life choices have been put on the back burner. But, with five children to put through school, the success of her business is critical.

“Snappy Socks is one way for me to be home with kids and generate a good income,” Rokochy says. “I’m in it for the long-term potential.”

Jan. 13 Job advice column: 

“I don’t have enough to do.  Should I say anything?”:

I cut out this Globe and Mail article in Mar. 4, 2013.  The job advice column is called “Nine to Five” and there are always 2 answers.  Here’s the whole article:


I started a new job late last summer. My six-month probation is almost over and I think I’ve done well; I get along with everyone and the work gets done well. But I’m not convinced there is enough work to sustain the position I’m in. I have nothing to do for at least a couple of hours each day! I have been politely asking for more tasks to fill the time but those are usually one-day filing chores. I’m about to have my review and come off probation. What do I say, if anything?

What do I do? If I am honest and say there is not enough work for all of us in my work team, I risk losing my job, no? Or do I just keep my mouth shut and try to find my own non-obvious projects to keep myself occupied? I really don’t know what to do.

THE FIRST ANSWER: Colleen Clarke, Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

A review is not the place to tell an employer you aren’t busy in your job. If the managers haven’t figured it out, it is not your place to tell them, unless you want to be let go.

If you like where you work then look for projects and tasks that will improve your skills and add to your tool kit.

Scrutinize processes and procedures to see if you can come up with efficiency strategies; build a data base of resources you can call on when equipment fails or glitches occur.

Offer to sit on committees, initiate a fundraiser and volunteer for any task that has you meeting decision makers in other parts of the company.

Work on raising your visibility to promote your professional wonderment – in other words, get out from behind your desk and look for ways to make a difference. Make phone calls instead of sending e-mails when appropriate.

Is it possible to step outside your immediate department to see if you can be of use to a busier work unit?
Probably the last thing you want to do is conduct another job search after only six months, but that is an option. If you aren’t growing and learning then you will eventually suffer “rust out.”

This starts an unpleasant cycle of mistakes, resentment, regret and eventually being let go. Make a real effort for the next six months.

If nothing changes by then, re-evaluate your situation and decide what course of action to take.

THE SECOND ANSWER: Heather L. MacKenzie, The Integrity Group, Vancouver

“I don’t have enough to do at work” is not the kind of complaint one usually hears from an employee.
I am going to have to assume your concerns are around job security, and to some extent, job fulfilment.

Are your team members/colleagues having a similar experience with their workload? Perhaps you are more efficient than the rest. Maybe you are being given less work because you are junior.

Or maybe the business has a distinct “busy season,” which you have not experienced yet.

You are obviously a conscientious employee, so before your review, take some time to have conversations with your co-workers. Talking with your teammates (especially those who have been with the company for some time) may give you some valuable input and a better perspective on the situation.

During your evaluation, there is no harm in saying that you feel ready for more responsibility. There is also no harm in asking about the direction of the business or your department/division as a whole.

After all, it is a two-way street: You are investing in a career path as much as they are investing in you as an employee.

It is fair to know what the future looks like. If things don’t sound like they will work out, at least you have a couple of free hours a day to start looking for a new job!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

“18 minutes to tame your busy hours”

Jan. 13 “18 minutes to tame your busy hours”: I cut out this Globe and Mail article “18 minutes to tame your busy hours” by Harvey Schacter on Nov. 4, 2011.  There’s some helpful advice about time management here like prioritizing.  Here’s the whole article:

Peter Bregman loves buffets. And like many of us, when the New York-based consultant gets there, he tastes everything in sight. He inevitably leaves the buffet uncomfortable, exhausted, and regretting his consumption.

The challenge he faces (and fails) at the buffet table is the same challenge most of us face when managing our time. There’s so much we can do, so many inviting opportunities, that it’s hard to choose. Instead, we try to have it all.

Time management systems don’t really help with this problem, he notes, because they are focused on how to get it all done in less time. And as happens at the buffet, we end up overwhelmed.

“The secret to surviving a buffet is to eat fewer things. And the secret to thriving in your life is the same: Do fewer things,” Mr. Bregman writes in 18 Minutes.

He focuses on five things over a year, three work-related and two personal. They are large, important catch-all categories – not goals, but wide areas of focus, and of course they would vary from person to person.

The author’s three work categories are: Do great work with current clients; attract future clients; and write and speak about his ideas. On the personal side, his aim is to be present with family and friends; and to have fun and take care of himself.

These aren’t measurable notions, but Mr. Bregman makes sure that 95 per cent of his activities fit his slots. He’s going to the buffet table with a smaller plate, and selecting the nourishing and tasty offerings.

His daily to-do list is a series of six boxes, in which he slots the intended activities into his five categories. If they fall outside, they go into a box labelled “the other 5 per cent” (such as changing the oil in the car or buying a new printer).

He says this structure helps him to carve his overwhelming list of tasks “into manageable, digestible chunks. And it ensures I’m spending my time where I should. Because saying I want to focus on something is meaningless unless I actually spend my time there. And my to-do list is my plan for where I am going to spend my time.”

When in doubt between two alternative uses for his time, he seeks balance. He picks the one in the category he has been spending less time on recently.

He also keeps an “ignore” list – things to be avoided. He believes it has never been more important to learn to say no – no I won’t read that article, no I won’t sit through that meeting, no I won’t take that phone call. We keep thinking the next piece of information may be the key to our success.

But he argues our success hinges on the opposite: Our willingness to risk missing some information. Otherwise, we exhaust ourselves.

A to-do list isn’t enough, however. You need to decide when you will actually do those wondrous, important things on the list. To-do lists can capture a long list of items; calendars, by contrast, are finite, with only so many hours to fill in, as we realize when we try to cram too much in.

“Since your entire list will not fit into your calendar – and I can assure you that it won’t – you need to prioritize your list for the day. What is it that really needs to get done today?” he says.

The author also applies a three-day rule to items on his to-do list.

If something has lingered for that length of time, he either tackles it immediately (which to his surprise, often works, the item taking little time); schedules it; lets it go by deleting it; or puts it on his “some day/maybe list,” where it will usually die a slower death, since he only checks that list about once a month and, as the items age, rarely takes action.

Each day, Mr. Bregman spends 18 minutes making sure he is on the right course, a process that gives his book its name. Before he turns on his computer, he takes five minutes to schedule the items on his to-do list for the day. Every hour for his eight hours at work, his watch beeps and he takes a minute to refocus, asking himself if he is being the person he wants to be, in manner and action.

At the end of the day, he answers a series of questions: How did the day go? What successes did I experience? What challenges did I endure? What did I learn – about myself, and others? What do I plan to do – differently or the same – tomorrow? Whom did I interact with? Is there anyone I need to update, thank, ask a question of, or share feedback with?

The book is broken into short chapters (they were mostly blog postings), with charming anecdotal openings that lead seamlessly into useful messages about organizing our lives. It’s a tasty buffet, and you will want to feast on all of it, so pace yourself.


Instead of yammering away at his seatmate on a flight to Europe a few years ago, Neil McOstrich decided to use the eight hours at his disposal to put the lifetime of stories swimming in his head on paper, and share them with the rest of the world. Marketers are natural storytellers, and the result is a mélange of interconnected and unconnected anecdotes and observations about work and advertising campaigns. Once Upon A Plane (171 pages, $15.95) is independently published, and a reminder that sometimes such ventures are handsomely designed, with unique creative touches.

“How do I explain being let go without cause?”: This was also in the Globe and Mail on Nov. 3, 2011.  It’s written by Cindy Gordon.  There’s some good career advice here to answer the question, but can be applicable to anyone looking for a new career.


I have worked in the financial services industry for 10 years. The first seven were with a major bank and for the past three I have been self-employed.

In the last few months of my employment, my boss and I disagreed on a number of issues. I was offered a different position at the bank, but she declined to approve me for the new post. Her advice was that I should leave the company voluntarily, or I would be terminated. I did not quit and she lived up to her word. I was offered a severance package, which I used to start my own business.

My fiancée and I are now looking to change cities, which means I would have to wrap up my business and more than likely go back to work at a bank. While I have been self-employed, I have been recruited heavily to return to the banking industry. Unfortunately, employers tend to shy away from hiring me based on my record of employment. Will I always be haunted for being terminated without cause?


First, congratulations for taking a dark situation – being dismissed from your job – and turning it into a bright outcome – using the severance to start your own company. It takes courage and skill to succeed in your own business and your three years of success speaks to your abilities. So I wonder why moving your business to a new city wouldn’t be an option? There would obviously be challenges, such as building contacts and marketing yourself, but your knowledge and expertise could be needed in another city. This may be a viable alternative, so keep this an option while assessing your opportunities.

Now to deal with your question: Your record of employment is a permanent document in your career file. Your résumé will show your seven years of experience at the bank, and recruiters and future employers may ask about your termination. The way you handle these questions will have a strong influence on the person interviewing you. According to a BlessingWhite Inc. study, the top reason employees give for leaving an organization is that there are no opportunities to grow or advance. A brief and concise response pointing to a lack of growth opportunities at the bank may be all you need to reply when asked about your termination.

If you move full-steam into the recruiting process, take time to reflect on these points:

Your take on what happened
Assess how you have answered questions about why you left the bank. Could you have been perceived as bitter or spiteful? Could the interviewer have seen you as someone who became hard to manage toward the end of your employment? Or do you come across with a positive, professional and ambitious outlook? Take an honest look at how you are presenting yourself and what you are communicating in the interview process, from the point of view of the potential employer.

Wear the old boss’s shoes
Think about the last few months of employment at the bank from your manager’s position. If you were her, how would the words and actions of your subordinate have made you feel? Would you have felt unsupported, threatened, challenged in any way? There may be some great learning and insight you can gain from this experience that will help you grow, and may also bring some humility into the recruiting conversation: “This is what I’ve learned from that experience and how it can help me to bring more to your business.”

Re-evaluate yourself
If you decide to look for a new job, spend some time before you start the job search evaluating who you are now. After three years of being an entrepreneur, you may have different needs and goals as an employee. Make a list of your strengths, skills and passions. Look at what is important to you and what brings you fulfilment. Use this information to help you assess your career path before you put yourself out there.

Take this opportunity to make the most out of the change you’re contemplating. Examine what you loved about working at a major bank. What is it about your own business that excites you? Learn as much as you can about the coming trends of the financial service industry. With this information, honestly assess your future career path. Is the financial service industry where you want to be? Are you best suited working for an organization or self-employed? What is important to achieve in your day-to-day work life?

Answers to these types of questions may quickly lead you to the right job.

Special to The Globe and Mail
Cindy Gordon is president of Culture Shock Coaching in Toronto.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Florida teen saves cop/ Raider’s player charity

Jan. 20 Florida teen saves cop: I found this on Yahoo news:

Fort Lauderdale, FL — A Florida teen was honored by Fort Lauderdale police on Tuesday after his quick decision helped to save the life of a police officer who was arresting him.

Jamal Rutledge, 17, was handcuffed and sitting in the Fort Lauderdale police booking facility on Sept. 10, a few feet away from a desk where Officer Franklin Foulks was doing paperwork.

Only a few seconds pass before Rutledge gets up to check on the officer and immediately determines him to be in distress.

The handcuffed Rutledge then began kicking the security fence and yelling for help in an effort to alert other officers in the area.

Rutledge, along with the three other officers involved in saving Foulks’ life will be officially honored on Jan. 21 at a city commission meeting.

My opinion: That’s some good news after all the bad news of young black men being killed by police officers.

Post Secret: This was on the website on Oct. 25, 2014:

“Being told how smart I was when I was little has ruined my life.”

My opinion: That reminds me of parenting articles in the newspaper where I read about complimenting your child.  It’s about encouraging them to try and give effort instead of just how smart they are.

“May. 1, 1969: I had a baby girl and gave her up. I know it was the right thing to do but self hate and shame are still with me.  I pray she is happy and has a good life.”

There is a picture of a sign that says Safe Surrender Site with a silhouette of a baby: “We will never know anything about you- not even your name, we DO know how much courage it took to make the decision that you did.  THANK YOU!  Because of that decision we have a beautiful and amazing daughter.”

“Everytime there is a school shooting, I hope that my high school peers remember how they treated me.”

Get enough sleep: I found this Yahoo article on Jul. 23, 2014 called “Getting 8 hrs of sleep a night- you might just want to cut back.”  Here’s an excerpt:

“The lowest mortality and morbidity is with seven hours,” Shawn Youngstedt, a professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University Phoenix, told the Wall Street Journal. “Eight hours or more has consistently been shown to be hazardous.” Experts still generally recommend the range of seven to nine hours nightly for healthy adults, but the ideal number seems to have dropped ever so slightly. It’s why both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has funded a partnership with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine — the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project — to discern how to best update recommended sleep guidelines in the coming year, and why the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation is doing the same.

Sandra: Cut back???  Seriously.  I barely get 5 hours a night.  I'm friggin exhausted all  
the time.  I'm up at 6 am, get the boys up, get them breakfast, make lunches, get them dressed, have them out of the house by 7:00, get them to daycare.  I'm at work by 8:00.  work til 4:00.  shop, plan supper, start supper, pick them up from daycare, get home before supper burns. Starts the laundry, tries to clean house, tries to have time to just play with my boys, feeds them, gets them into the shower, covers whatever homework is assigned to them, get them in pjs.  gets them to sleep, folds the laundry,cleans the dishes, figures out what bills I'm paying today.  Dust, vacuum, laundry.  Try to figure out what the heck I'm going to pack them for lunch tomorrow.  I go to bed about 12:00.  Can't sleep cause my mind won't turn off regarding what has to be done when 6:00am comes again. If you can please tell me your secret

My opinion: We should all get 8 hrs of sleep.  Also reading Sandra’s comment was overwhelming.  In her case, it’s about time management and prioritizing.  You should make sandwiches for lunch and make it the night before so you aren’t as rushed in the morning.

Danish dad wins lottery: I found this on Yahoo “Danish dad shocks sons with nearly $3 million lottery.”  There is a video and the sons faces are blurred.  They look like they’re in their late teens and early 20s.  The dad had an indirect approach to telling them the news. 

Dad: I have to tell you something.
Son: Is it bad?
Dad: No.

At first he gives them some cash.  Then later an iPad and more cash.  Then he tells them he won the lottery.  The sons are like: “Oh my god!” lol.    You can watch the video here.

Daredevil eaten alive by anaconda: This was quite awhile back, but here’s a 3min interview:

Paul Rosolie was deliberately eaten alive by an anaconda for an upcoming Discovery TV special. The daredevil recounts what it was like to go into the belly of the beast.

My opinion: I didn’t watch the special, because I’m not really into nature and animal shows.  I heard about it on the radio station 91.7 The Bounce.  The DJ said she watched it, and the last 7 min was where he gets eaten alive.  The majority of it was trying to find a big enough anaconda.

Truck goes up in flames: This truck flips a few times and blows up.  Fortunately, nobody got hurt.  You should check it out:

Jan. 25 Raider’s player charity: I found this on Yahoo news: 

You know, there are people involved in the NFL who use their vast powers and resources for good. Here's one of those stories. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer connected the Oakland Raiders with the family of 4-year-old Ava Urerra of Las Vegas. Ava has a heart condition that Glazer says is like having "half a heart." The result was magnificent.

The Raiders offered young Ava, who has undergone 14 different procedures on her heart, the opportunity to "captain" the team, and gave her signed gear and toys throughout a visit with the team. Offensive lineman Menelik Watson, so touched by Ava's condition, donated his entire game check, $18,000, to help with the expenses of Ava's family.

Saving a child: I found this on Yahoo news:

A bystander who intervened in what police called the attempted abduction of a baby in an East Vancouver grocery store Saturday says he had to pull the would-be abductor's arms off the child.

"I was trying to talk him down and he wouldn't let go of the child, so that was a pretty scary thing," said Joel Pipher.

Pipher, 26, walked into his neighbourhood grocery store, Donald's Market, to get provisions for a late breakfast Saturday morning.

The 26-year-old's only regret is not asking someone to call police immediately. The man is accused of uttering threats at another baby after leaving the store, before police made an arrest.

"I was thinking I've gotta get this guy away from her, the mother, away from the child and away from anybody else."

Friday, January 23, 2015

"How to build brand You in the workplace"

Dec. 24 "How to build brand You in the workplace": I cut out this Globe and Mail article by Chris Barez-Brown on Sept. 7, 2011.  This is a very inspirational article, and asks good questions.  I felt energized reading it.  Here’s the whole article:

When Bono, the lead singer of U2, goes into any organisation as part of his well-publicised mission to eradicate debt in developing countries, the first question he asks is: "Who's Elvis around here?"

It's a great question. Elvis Presley was the original personal brand: sure of what he stood for, instantly recognisable, with a set of clearly defined talents. It made him shine. Bono is asking who stands out, breaks the rules, makes things happen – and probably loves every minute of it.

This matters to you even if your day job doesn't help the world's disadvantaged. We should all strive to be the person Bono is looking for. Decisions are made every day that influence the work you do, the breaks you get and the opportunities that give you a chance to get ahead. Whatever you want from your work – money, fame, lifestyle, excitement or the next big project – can come down to being at the top of the list in the minds of the people who give you those breaks.

If they believe you will create value, think differently and see opportunities, you'll get the nod. You need to be Elvis: stand out and stand for something distinctive; do iconic work, one big thing at a time; and make sure that you're part of the future.

1 Choose to stand out

Shining isn't compulsory. If anything, the opposite is true. Society certainly won't encourage you to shine; most employers will do their best to make you fit in, be small and unnoticed.

Business needs its worker ants, those who turn up every day and toe the line, head down, never challenging the status quo. Most managers will admit that it's harder to manage Elvises. The talented ones are too much for mediocre managers to bear, as they constantly strive to improve standards.

So there is plenty of space for you to carry on in this world without causing ripples, without being noticed, and no one will object if you do. But always remember that you have another option. You can be you. All of you. You can be that extraordinary human being that you have always known lies deep within you.

You can decide that it's time for the real you to cast off the shackles you have been using to define yourself, and shine in all that you do. You can stand tall, take a huge bite out of this life and savour the taste.

The choice is yours. Why aren't you making it? If you are scared, what are you scared of? What can really go wrong? If you are lazy, take a good look at the person you'll become if you don't change.

2 Know what you stand for

Things change because people care. There is no point trying to have a big impact on something that is meaningless to you. Why would you bother?

You also need to focus. Without it human beings don't function well: our brains are less efficient and our energy becomes dispersed. So choose carefully where to invest your time. Ask yourself: what's important to you, important enough to fight for, important enough to make a stand? What have you read that has created a real reaction in you?

What have been the real highs and lows of the last year, and why? What was it that created such resonance in you? Are you passionate about learning and growth, trying new things, diversity? Do you feel challenged by exciting stimulation, collaboration, or risk taking? Do you love the arts in business, or helping others discover their talents?

You can be motivated by anything that gives you energy and helps you make a mark on the world in a unique way. How can it be linked to what you do every day? Once it is, you will have the power of stampeding elephants and the belief that changes the big stuff. Make it happen.

3 Do 'iconic'

If your resources are limited and you are in an environment where everyone is clamouring for attention, just do the big stuff.

Find a project that's significant, so that when you nail it everyone will be talking about it. Aim to do something that will become the stuff of legend, a project that can be your legacy. When you come across such an opportunity, throw everything you have at it to guarantee its sparkly success. By doing so your profile will be super-enhanced, to a far greater degree than if you were to expend the same effort over 10 averagely interesting projects.

Once, at dinner with friends, I met a lovely guy who I can only think of as Bramble Man. He had invented the fantastic cocktail that is the Bramble. He lives for ever in my mind as the legend responsible for one of my favourite drinks. God bless the Bramble.

I recently saw a YouTube clip that explained how an American called Alec Brownstein used Google AdWords to get the attention of the creative directors he wanted to work for. When they googled their names, as all creative directors should, an ad with his name on it popped up saying: "Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun too."

It cost him $6. He was offered two jobs and is now a senior copywriter at the Young & Republican advertising agency in New York. Simple, iconic action that made young Alec stand out from the crowd. And that's what doing iconic projects is all about; making a lasting impression that creates a halo around you.

4 One Big Thing

Every morning when you arrive at work, identify the One Big Thing that you need to achieve before you go home.

So often I see people sit down at their desk, turn on their computer and start reacting to the world and what the world wants. Many of them won't take their eyes from their screens until it's time to leave. They have spent the entire day out of control, working to other people's agendas.

What is your agenda? If you are clear on where you are going, you can be clear on what you have to do each day: the One Big Thing.

We all love to multitask and to play with all our toys in our sandboxes; busy feels important and effective. But it also dilutes our energy. It is impossible to have impact when your attention is divided among so many projects, conversations, and pleas for help.

A friend of mine told me about a guy he'd met in a Las Vegas casino who was betting big and obviously loving every minute. They got into conversation and it emerged that the high roller had made his money in publishing. He had written an algorithm that identified the most common search term on the internet that elicited the least information. The answer was "parrots".

He then went to a well-known zoo, found the parrot expert there and commissioned him to write a book on parrots. He published the first chapter free online and then made the rest of it downloadable for a fee. In the first month he made hundreds of thousands of dollars; in the first year millions. Parrot Man had One Big Thing and he went for it with all his energy. The purity of his idea and his single-minded focus has brought him huge rewards.

If you always know what your One Big Thing is, you have a much greater chance of success.

5 Be in the picture

Business needs a clear view of where it is going. You need to make that view relevant to you and to the people you work with. The best leaders I know are relentless communicators, who always tell stories about the things that are most important to the business at that time. These stories soon become a part of company legend and culture.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, make sure you know where things are going, and tell good stories to illustrate it. Populate your stories with people you want to make heroes of: the finance director who saved a million; the PA who saved her boss's bacon by spotting a flaw in his plan; the engineer who fiddled with an idea over many weekends that ended up being the next innovation.

Every time you tell that story you give your characters more energy and more chance to shine. In the same way, make sure there are some stories featuring you. Just as you tell stories about others, others will tell stories about you. And there is nothing better than being part of the business's projected future to make sure you stand out from the crowd.

To make these stories really effective, align them to your company's strategic goals. You have to tell a tale that is both simple and memorable, one that creates an emotional response and ends with a clear outcome that is all the richer for having you involved.

It works best if the stories aren't overtly self-promoting, but instead show you in a positive light in comparison with the values of the business. For example, if your business thrust is all about taking more risk, tell a story of how you did just that and got it wrong … yet your boss remained supportive because you were trying to follow the business's commitment to a portfolio approach.

Tell stories, and paint a picture of the future – but make sure you're in it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DJ Maretimo Islands Of Chill - No.13, 14, 15, 16

Islands Of Chill - No.13 Koh Samui, Selected by DJ Maretimo, Beautiful Chillout Flight

A picture of a beautiful sunset on the left side.  There are some boats floating around.

Islands Of Chill - No.14 Cancun - Mexico, Selected by DJ Maretimo, Yucatan Chillout Flight

A picture of a white sand beach, with lots of gray umbrellas.  There are lots of white apartment buildings on the left side.

Islands Of Chill - No.15 Jamaica, Selected by DJ Maretimo, Beautiful Chillout Flight

There is a long wooden dock stretched into bright aqua blue ocean.  There's a boat on the left side of the dock.

Islands Of Chill - No.16 Sicilia, Selected by DJ Maretimo, Beautiful Chillout Flight

It's a bird's eye view of islands.  There is water all around the islands.  It looks like a view from space.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

VIDEO: See how you made a difference for children in 2014.

Thank you from UNICEF Canada for your support during a year that was so devastating for children.

The year 2014 was one of horror, fear and despair for millions of children, as worsening conflicts across the world saw them exposed to extreme violence and its consequences, forcibly recruited and deliberately targeted by warring groups. Yet many crises no longer capture the world’s attention.

As many as 15 million children are caught up in violent conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, the State of Palestine, Syria and Ukraine – including those internally displaced or living as refugees. Globally, an estimated 230 million children currently live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts.

But amidst this chaos, there was hope: supporters like you.

You helped UNICEF be there for children, whether it was delivering urgent aid or ensuring that ongoing development efforts continued. And you can help us make 2015 a better year for children everywhere.

Thank you.

He started a blog: He got 10 years and 1,000 lashes

He started a blog: He got 10 years and 1,000 lashes

Dear Tracy,

Raif Badawi started a blog where readers could openly discuss religion, politics and other topics in Saudi Arabia. For this peaceful act, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.

Raif is a man of principle and a respected Saudi activist. Two years ago, after starting the Saudi Arabian Liberals blog, he was imprisoned by the Saudi Arabian government, who claimed he insulted Islam and violated the Kingdom's repressive information technology laws.

He's now serving 10 years and was sentenced to 1,000 lashes. His wife hasn't seen him and fears for his life. So do we at Amnesty.

Please help us win Raif's release and the release of other Prisoners of Conscience like him. Make your first donation to Amnesty now and your gift will go twice as far until December 31st.

Plus, when you make a donation of $50 or more, we'll send you an Amnesty t-shirt you so you can start a conversation about human rights wherever you go.

Our team is pressuring the Saudi Government to release Raif. We have the experience. We have the connections. We have freed countless other people like him. But we can only do it when we have financial support from people like you.

Raif's wife Ensaf told us that he taught her to "always hang on" and be resilient, despite the circumstances.

I'm hanging on and will continue the fight for his release. Please join me.
Jasmine HeissSincerely,
Jasmine Heiss
Senior Campaigner, Individuals at Risk Program
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Donate before December 31st and your donation will go twice as far. Thank you.

I am looking forward to trying your recipe....

Dear Tracy,

I sent you an email a couple of weeks ago with a link to some special recipes, along with a request to submit your own kid-friendly recipe.

I have to admit, I’ve been enjoying reading the recipes coming in from our generous friends and supporters across Canada.

I haven’t noticed your recipe yet, which is why I’m sending you this brief reminder to submit your recipe and donation online!

I also wanted to remind you of some great news.  

Your gift has double the impact this year thanks to Quaker® Canada, Tostitos® Canada, and parent company PepsiCo Canada.

They will MATCH every donation made to this campaign up to a maximum of $25,000. That means your gift today will go TWICE as far.

Each month the equivalent of 6200 full school buses of children are supported by food banks across Canada, that’s 310,000 kids.

With your holiday gift, you are investing in programs designed to get kids interested in cooking and healthy eating… like The Curious Chefs: Cooking Club for Kids, delivered by Agape Centre in Cornwall.  Those recipes I shared with you are just two of the many recipes children learn to make each and every week.

I encourage you to test them out with a special child in your life. But first, will you share your own special kid-friendly recipe right now?

Watching the mail in anticipation,
Debbie O'Bray Signature.JPG
Debbie O'Bray 
Volunteer, Food Banks Canada Board of Directors and Supporter
P.S. Did you know that today is Giving Tuesday!  Spread the news about our online recipe book at

"The only decision I have left: to live or to die"

Tell President Obama: Transfer Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo.

"I have been deprived of everything but my life. So that's the only decision I have left: to live or to die." - Shaker Aamer, detained in Guantánamo for nearly 13 years

Dear Tracy,

President Obama cleared him for transfer.
President George W. Bush cleared him for transfer.
U.K. Prime Minister Cameron publicly and repeatedly calls for his release to the U.K.

Why is Shaker Aamer STILL in Guantánamo? How long must he wait for an end to his nightmare?

Join me today for Amnesty International's worldwide day of action on closing Guantánamo.

Tell the President: Keep your resolve. Close Guantánamo without delay. Transfer Shaker Aamer today.

Six years ago, President Obama ordered Guantánamo closed. But he failed to make good on this promise. We have kept up the pressure and are beginning to see long overdue progress: In the last eighteen months, the government has transferred 39 detainees out of Guantánamo.

But President Obama must do far more. He must harness the momentum and close Guantánamo by ensuring every detainee is either fairly tried or released - including Shaker Aamer, who was cleared for transfer more than seven years ago.

Tell the President: Transfer Shaker Aamer to the U.K. now and close the festering injustice that is Guantánamo.

Nine men have died in Guantánamo, including Adnan Latif, who, like Shaker, was cleared for transfer.

The Obama administration has said it plans to "significantly reduce" the Guantánamo population over the next six months.

But some in the new Congress want to keep Guantánamo open forever. We can't let that happen.

Steel President Obama's resolve. Urge him to transfer Shaker Aamer and make good on his promise to close Guantánamo.

Thank you for standing up for human rights today.

Naureen Shah
Director, Security and Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

Flogging of Raif Badawi postponed

Flogging of Raif Badawi postponed! 

Dear friends,

Today's planned flogging of Raif Badawi was postponed for medical reasons.

Badawi_Ensaf_300.jpgI share this news with a tremendous sense of relief, for Raif. After the outrage and grief we felt following the terrible injustice of last week's 50 lashes, this is a small victory.

But we remain deeply troubled that this cruel sentence remains in place.
The postponement of flogging based on medical grounds exposes the shocking brutality of this kind of punishment.
Thank you for speaking out: Saudi officials the world over are hearing our voice! Your action has been part of a phenomenal worldwide groundswell of mobilization, as embassies around the world are bombarded with urgent pleas to release Raif, and Amnesty International activists spread the word on the streets in Ottawa, Montreal, Oslo, London, Rome, Paris ... See images
You're helping us end the cruel, inhumane practice of flogging and stand up for freedom of expression.

Until Raif is free - and all charges are dropped - our continued vigilance and action is needed. The draconian laws behind Raif's sentencing need to be changed, and the repression of peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia must stop.
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Thank you for your continued support for Raif and his family, and for speaking up for a better world.


Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada