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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

We won’t turn a blind eye to torture

We won't turn a
blind eye to torture
Dear Tracy,

This is an American Torture Story.

Majid Khan was at the mercy of CIA interrogators for 1,200 days -- at least. During that time, he was stripped. He was forced into ice water baths. He was "hung up" for a day in a sleep deprivation position. He was denied solid food for seven days.

After about a year, Majid Khan went on hunger strike to protest the treatment he was receiving. The CIA responded with "involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration." Majid's lunch tray, consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was "pureed" and "rectally infused." This happened repeatedly. Eventually, Majid Khan attempted to cut his wrists.

I'm interested in the power of words. Terms like "enhanced interrogation" or "rectal feeding" are clever disguises for the true term we should be using to describe the CIA's treatment of Majid and more than 100 others: Torture.

The CIA can try to bury the truth of these atrocities, but it's up to us to hold the agency responsible. Tell U.S. authorities that no one gets away with torture.

From 2002 to 2008, the U.S. government disappeared more than 100 men and subjected dozens of them to torture using some of the same "interrogation methods" they used against Majid Khan.

Despite the release of a report recently issued by a Senate committee, which provides evidence of these horrific crimes, the U.S. Justice Department refuses to act.

In fact, the department apparently refuses to even read the report - keeping it in a sealed envelope, unopened.

But the truth is undeniable, and no amount of wordplay can disguise it. Tell the U.S. Department of Justice that it must read and respond to the Senate's report on torture.

Torture is a crime and no one should get away with it. It's up to us to enforce that. Join us in telling this American torture story and use the power of your voice to speak out for justice.

Noam Chomsky

Join the global outcry to free Raif

May 7: Join the
global outcry
to free Raif
Dear Tracy,

We're gearing up for a major mobilization on May 7, and we need your help.

Raif Badawi was imprisoned and publicly flogged by the Saudi government - lashed 50 times - for starting a blog that encouraged social and political debate. Right now, he's in a cell serving the remainder of his 10-year sentence and awaiting 950 more lashes.

Amnesty and other global partners are planning a mass mobilization outside Saudi embassies and consulates around the world on the first anniversary of Raif's sentencing. Please support our efforts on behalf of Prisoners of Conscience like Raif with a financial contribution.

We believe that the global outcry has been key to sparing Raif from the weekly floggings mandated by his sentence. But until Raif is unconditionally freed, our work is far from over.

We are gravely concerned that the Saudi government is waiting for the international spotlight to fade and is considering trying Raif for apostasy, which carries the death sentence.

That's why we're planning this event on May 7. We must show the Saudi government that the world is still watching and won't stand for anything but Raif's unconditional release.

Please donate to support our efforts. Your support makes a difference:
  • $25 can help print banners and signs for activist events on May 7.
  • $50 can help Amnesty pay for digital advertising that asks people to put pressure on the Saudi Embassy in DC.
  • $75 can help us mobilize activists to generate more letters, calls and emails to the Saudi Embassy in DC.
  • $250 can support a human rights expert who will apply "grasstops" pressure on Saudi authorities.
The more support we amass, the more pressure we can apply to demand Raif's release. Please help us maximize this moment. Support our efforts.

Let's free Raif once and for all!

With hope for justice,

Jasmine Heiss
Senior Campaigner, Individuals at Risk
Amnesty International USA

Don't her grandchildren deserve the truth?

Don't her grandchildren
deserve the truth?
Dear Tracy,

On a sunny afternoon in 2012, a woman named Mamana Bibi was gathering okra in her family's fields. Then, before the eyes of her grandchildren, she was blown into pieces by Hellfire missiles fired by a U.S. drone.

Tell President Obama acknowledge the killing of Mamana Bibi.

Last week, President Obama took the welcome step of acknowledging and apologizing for the killing of U.S. and Italian hostages in a January U.S. drone strike. But U.S. acknowledgment of killings should not be limited to U.S. and European citizens.

The Pakistani and Yemeni families who have lost their loved ones to U.S. drone strikes - including the grandchildren of Mamana Bibi - deserve the truth, too.

"I saw her shoes. We found her mutilated body a short time afterwards," Mamana's granddaughter Nabeela told Amnesty International. "We collected as many different parts from the field and wrapped them in a cloth."

The President is creating the appearance of an ugly double standard: that the U.S. will meet the deaths of U.S. and European citizens with empathy and regret while meeting the deaths of non-Westerners with a stubborn, indifferent silence.

We can't bring Mamana Bibi back to her family. But the U.S. government must acknowledge her killing and start the process of accountability.

"We used to gather in her room at night, and she'd tell us stories," Mamana's grandson Zubair told Amnesty. "Sometimes we'd massage her feet because they were sore from working all day," her granddaughter Asma added. "I miss my grandmother."

Join me in telling President Obama: Every family deserves the truth. Break your silence on the killing of Mamana Bibi.

Naureen Shah

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

comparisons/ “Heads in Beds” book

Apr. 5: This is what I have learned as I was writing my script.


People who are enemies have to work together because of a common goal:

It was done on the Alias pilot.  It’s where Sydney learns that she works for SD-6 that was part of the CIA.  In reality, the SD-6 is working against the CIA.  Now she becomes a double agent.  She learns her estranged dad Jack is also a double agent and they have to work together to bring down SD-6.

It was done on Prison Break season 4 where good guys Lincoln and Sucre have to work with bad guys Gretchen and T-Bag.  There were a slew of characters where they had to work together.

It was done on Once Upon a Time, where the good guys and bad guys have to team up together to find the kid Henry in Neverland.

A character complicates the story and has to add to it: I was writing my Rain script and I had created a character where she complicates the story, but she doesn’t add to it.

I have a bad guy and complicates the story and he adds to it.

Don’t make story “too busy”: I watched Degrassi and there are 3 storylines and it’s in 2- part episodes.  The writing is alright.
On Arrow, there are usually 3 storylines in one episode.  Usually 2 are set in the present.  There is 1 storyline in the flashback storyline.

Apr. 6 “Heads in Beds” book: I cut out this article “Anything that you can imagine happening in a hotel has happened” by Brad Wheeler in the Globe and Mail on Nov. 24, 2012.  It was in the Travel section of the newspaper about a hotel front- desk clerk who wrote about his experience working at a hotel.  I have worked at a hotel in room service, and I haven’t experienced his experience.  My experience was positive.  Here’s the whole article:

He’s not only checking you in, he’s checking you out. With his personable, advice-filled book Heads in Beds, one-time hotel front-desker Jacob Tomsky gives the lowdown on the “hospitality” business and what the workers really think of you, the paying guest.

Often in a movie, there’s the scene when someone checks into a hotel room, and there’s the awkward moment when the bellman waits for his tip. Is that a Hollywood cliché, or does it happen that way?

That moment of uncomfortableness is a very powerful tool for a bellman or a doorman. That skilled lingering is an art form. The moment lasts five seconds more than it should, and suddenly “tip” pops into your brain. Doormen do it even more than bellmen, because not everyone thinks to tip the doorman. So he will stand there and just linger, and you can feel the guest having that uncomfortable feeling that there is a gentleman behind their back, floating about.

I never know how much to tip. You mention $2 in the book, but that is that enough?

The bellman would have no anger at $2 a bag. But I would say tipping less than $5 would not be that helpful. So, even if you have two bags, you should round up to $5.

You advise never to tip with loose change. But in Canada, we have dollar coins and two-dollar coins. Would a hotel worker be offended if I flipped them a two-dollar coin with my thumb?

Yeah, you would kind of look like a jerk there. Unless he’s a 10-year-old newsie who just sold you a newspaper and who’s going doff his cap to you and head on down the road. I don’t think an adult is going to want to catch the money you’re throwing at them.

Do you find that guests who book through Expedia or are cheap with the tips? Do you treat them with less appreciation?

The bellman and the doorman are very much aware that discount-seeking guests are not guests who tip.
On the other hand, if I see someone who books through the hotel website, I know they want to stay here and I’ll definitely pay more attention to them, as a valued guest.

But even if you book through a discount bulk-rate service, there are ways a guest can get upgrades or better treatment, right?

Absolutely. If you get thrown onto a property through for example, you should find that hotel and call them. Front desk will call up your reservation, and now you’re speaking to a human being who can find out exactly what room you have. Then, when you come into the hotel, you’re not just one of 56 bulk reservations.

You’re the one who called a week ago. You’ve made a personal connection.

There’s the often told story about hotel guests getting their vacation photos back and finding photographs involving their toothbrushes being used, shall we say, in a non-traditional and unsanitary manner. Is that just an urban myth?

I’ve honestly never done that, but I’ve known hotel workers who have done some pretty disgusting stuff. Would 99 per cent of hotel employees ever consider doing that? No. But there are some really weird people out there in the world. I firmly believe that anything that you can imagine happening in a hotel has happened in a hotel. If you can imagine an employee doing something nasty to your toothbrush, there is a time when that happened.

In your book, you begin in New Orleans as an enthusiastic hotel employee. Things soured by the time you ended your career in New York though. How do you feel about the hotel business now that you’re out of it?

I miss all my co-workers. You spend more time with them than you do with your family. I miss the excitement of the job. But the reason I was working in the hotel was so I could pay rent, which allowed me to write. Today, with the publishing of my first book, is the greatest day of my life.

So, it’s bittersweet. I miss my friends. But I hope people really enjoy my book, and I hope they learn from it and it makes them laugh.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


Want to raid the minibar – for free? Hotel clerk turned author Jacob Tomsky shares one (highly unethical) way to do it in Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky (Knopf Doubleday).

Here is the plan. Check in at the desk and make a strong request for a non-smoking room, possibly mentioning allergies (but don’t go overboard and annoy the agent, please). Refuse help from the bellman (that shouldn’t be hard for your cheap ass), and go up to your room unaccompanied. Immediately open the minibar and shove every god-damn item into your suitcase. Take it all. Then smoke a cigarette on the bed and gaze out the window. Afterward, call down to the desk and complain about the heavy smoke smell in the room. Request to be moved. I mean, it smells like something just smoked in here. The front desk will send a bellman up with your new keys, and – not that he has been informed, nor would he care – should he pop his head in, he too will smell the odour. Go to your new room, close the door, and get fat and salty and drunk on your suitcase of snacks. The hotel will never trace that minibar to you. Moving rooms in the system, when it’s done the same day you check in, leaves almost no trace, no overnight confirmation that you actually ever occupied the suite.

disk/ It Follows movie review

Feb. 28 Disk: On Feb. 18, 2015 my Memorex blue 3.5 floppy disk stopped working.  I bought this back in 2002.  I will give it points it lasted 13 yrs.  Now I will recycle this disk at Staples.
Calculator: While I’m at it, I will recycle my calculator.  The equal sign doesn’t work.  The equal sign rubber button doesn’t work.  You can still get an equal if you press the plus sign button.  I might as well recycle it.

Mar. 29 It Follows movie review: I cut out this article “Supernatural killer will scare you witless” by Chris Knight on Mar. 28, 2015.  I got these emails promoting this film because of my blog.  I saw the trailer and it looked pretty good.  This movie was given 5 stars by Knight.  Here’s the whole article:

There’s a filmmaking lesson to be found in the title of this supremely effective horror from writer/director David Robert Mitchell; one that applies to all genres. Simply set up an effective and arresting premise, then let the plot play out by the rules you’ve created. Successful storytelling? It follows.

The film’s basis is simple: What if the D in STD stood for Demon? That’s what Jay (Maika Monroe) discovers after the first time she has sex with her new boyfriend (Jake Weary). What’s transmitted isn’t a disease but a kind of condition, apparently uncureable.

As the boyfriend explains (shortly before he disappears; seems he only wanted her for one thing), Jay is now being tracked by a relentless, supernatural killer. Only its victims can see it. It can look like anyone, friend or foe or stranger. It will walk calmly toward its prey, but it will never stop. Imagine a medium-speed zombie, but fixated only on you.

If it kills her, it will then go after the now-missing boyfriend. Her only hope, he tells her, is to pass it along to someone else and hope they do likewise. So there’s an element of another old terror staple, the chain letter. Send it to someone else, or something bad will befall you.
Maika is at first skeptical, but several near brushes with the thing convince her it’s for real. She enlists the aid of her sister (Lili Sepe), her torch-carrying pal Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and the neighbourhood ne’er-do-well (Daniel Zovatto), who among other things has a car and access to a cottage outside the city.

Such a simple storyline would suggest — perhaps even invite — a similarly unexceptional filming style, but part of what makes It Follows so beguiling is the care and craft that went into it. Fashions and vehicles suggest a 1980s setting, and the characters watch even older movies on TV, but there are modern elements as well; Jay’s sister is reading Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot on an e-reader that looks like a makeup compact.

Then there’s the sound design, ranging from near-silence to freight-train and wind-tunnel noises that practically assault the listener. The score, meanwhile, is an electronic mix that sounds as though the Vangelis music from Blade Runner had been remixed by the team behind The Shining – or perhaps by the ghosts from The Shining.

The weirdness continues with the cinematography, which includes the occasional handheld (and one wheelchair-held) camera, but mostly involves rock-steady, wide-angle shots that have us peering into the distance to try to glimpse something we know is out there, coming.
Monroe is an appealing audience surrogate, adding to the list of strong female characters in horror films of late. (See also The Babadook, The Cabin in the Woods and last year’s thriller The Guest, which coincidentally also starred Monroe.)

Frightened yet resolute, she’s trying to reason her way out of this mess while rebuffing the virginal Paul, who offers to receive the curse from her – a sacrifice with benefits, as it were. For once, the age-old horror-movie metaphor of sex=death is played straight, without winking or irony.

All of this takes place in the interstices between urban, suburban and rural Detroit, a city with many a dark, uninhabited space in which a demonic sprite — or its intended victim — can hide. The ghost-town boulevards add to the film’s sense of dreamlike disconnection.
It’s worth mentioning a particularly disconcerting image, in which Jay’s follower, having assumed the body of a giant, unfolds its body like a lawn chair and clambers into her room from behind a friend who’s oblivious to its hulking presence. I don’t like horror films as a rule, but the ice-cube-down-the-back shiver I got from this scene convinced me to watch this one twice. I wanted to follow it, too.


David Mitchell: There is an interview with the It Follows filmmaker.  It’s called “Superbly creepy film based on a nightmare” by Chris Knight on Mar. 28, 2015:

David Mitchell suffered from a recurring nightmare as a child. It was simple yet terrifying; he would see a figure walking toward him from far away. “I knew this was some kind of a monster that was coming to hurt me.”

He could run from it. He could even walk from it. “It wasn’t hard to get away from it,” he says. “But I knew deep down that it was always walking closer.”

Mitchell, 39, hasn’t had this anxiety dream for years now. But others may start to, thanks to his new film, It Follows, which takes its chilling premise from those long-ago night terrors.

It Follows stars Maika Monroe as Jay, a young woman haunted by a creature that literally won’t stop until it catches and kills her. It can look like anyone, so Jay must fear the approach of strangers and friends alike.

Oh, and somehow she “caught” this demon through a sexual encounter. That wasn’t part of Mitchell’s nightmare, but “at some point I started adding to it, connecting it to something that can be passed on through sex,” he says. It was a way of connecting characters physically and emotionally.

It’s a simple premise, which might be why it works so well. Twenty-one-year-old Monroe, who also appeared in the thriller The Guest last year, also helps sell the concept. Mitchell says he knew she was right from their first meeting.

“It’s up to Mika, in those moments when these crazy things are happening, that we really believe this character exists,” he says. “It would be so easy for it to fall into B movie territory where it’s just screaming. And she has that. She can do the soft, subtle, gentle performance that a lot of the film needs, but then also take it to these crazy, chaotic places. And we go with her.”

Mitchell is a fan of the horror genre. “Creature from the Black Lagoon is one of my favourites,” he says, and also lists John Carpenter and David Cronenberg as influences. But the film has resonated even among non-fans, this writer included.

“I’ve heard that from a good number of people,” Mitchell confirms, “connecting to this even though they don’t like horror.”

Part of that no doubt stems from the sympathetic main character. But Mitchell, whose first feature was the critically acclaimed The Myth of the American Sleepover in 2011, put a lot of careful craftsmanship into It Follows.

To begin, he selected production design elements from a few different eras. So there’s a 1980s vibe, especially from the vehicles, “but there are some modern things as well. To me it’s a little bit outside of time.”

The score, too, refuses to stay still: “It moves back and forth between beautiful melodic pieces and things that were sort of musical controlled noise at some level, and it reaches points of being nearly an assault.” He cites Blade Runner as an inspiration on that.

“And not just music but the sound design beyond that,” he notes. “We put a lot of energy into crafting really small sounds in the film. There are really delicate moments: a little bit of wind here; the sound of a lamp.”

Then there’s the cinematography, which is unusually calm for the genre; here Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is raised as yet another inspiration. Mitchell would often choose a lens with a wide field of view, he says, “to suggest to the audience that you should be looking in the background.” Fittingly, that feeling may even follow people out of the cinema after a screening of this superbly creepy film.

Post Secret

Feb. 7 Post Secret:  A picture of a piece of paper in a Post Secret book:

Hi Frank,

I couldn’t send it, but I need to let it go.  I hope someone finds it.

(There were longitude and latitude degrees written.)

Dear Frank

Thank you for posting the email of the person’s reaction to finding the note I wrote.  I wrote that note while living away from friends and family in another state as a new stay-at-home mom and wife.  I was lonely and feeling neglected.  I wrote the note for myself as much as for postsecret readers.

Now I am divorced, a single-mom, and a teacher.  It is powerful to see that my small gesture of care during a challenging time in my life could be so positive for a stranger.  It renewed my dedication to caring for my students daily, and made me grateful for that phase in my life which caused me to write the note.  All experience is meaningful if you allow it to be.

Best wishes.

Note in a Post Secret: Whatever you are going through, there is someone out there feeling exactly like you are right now.  You are not alone.  There is hope.

Hi Frank,

I hope this email finds you well.

Of all the “scandalous” secrets I had been dying to share with the world, you published my most shameful one yet in your new book. I had a day to myself and was planning on spending it at a bookstore with a latte, combing the pages of your new book, like I always do when a new one is published. However, this time was a little different. Carefully looking through each secret, smirking at some, eyes-widening at others, I let out a loud, albeit dramatic, gasp when I spied my own. I stared down at the page, in shock, trying to convince myself that maybe it wasn’t my hand writing. I hardly even remembered sending it. But I knew.

In November of 2012, the guy I had been dating for 4 years asked me to marry him. I was a mess of a person at this time. I didn’t know what or who I wanted (there was, and had always been, “someone else,”), what I wanted to do with my life, etc, but it was the next logical step and we were on a cruise ship. If I had said no, there was no where to go for a whole week. Besides, this guy was great and I did love him, I just didn’t know if he was *THE ONE*. So, I sorta thought, “oh, what the hell.” How romantic! I shudder now even just telling you honestly about my thought pattern as it happened. Flash forward to six months later and we are full-blown wedding planning…and I was full-blown panicking. Not to pat myself on the back, but I knew he didn’t have a single doubt in the world about me, and I love him for that, but it made it hard on me because I had TONS! Not about HIM, but the idea of him. The whole one-penis-forever thing, closing the door on past loves, closing the door on future loves! The idea of what if there is someone even better for me. That’s what caused me to send in my secret, the one you recently, and finally published, that said: (on a post card from the Bahamas) We were on our way here when he asked me to marry him. I gave him the wrong answer.”

We have been married now for seven months. And while it’s certainly not easy, I can now honestly tell you that “yes” WAS the right answer. I can sometimes be a self-destructive, selfish, and like I said before, secretive person. But Frank, if I make nothing but bad choices for the rest of my life, I will die knowing I made a great one when I agreed to marry my husband. He is thoughtful and sweet and caring and everything I always thought I never deserved. I am still struggling with that, especially knowing that I told the world, via my secret, that i didn’t want to marry him. But I did it anyway, and I’m so glad. I know I have a lot to learn, and a lot to make up for, but I wanted to set the record straight. After many attempts at trying to share my secrets with the world, and perhaps (almost desperately) with the people they were about, you published the most important; the one I needed you to. Although I did spend a few hours quite angry with you, (“of all the ones I’ve sent, THAT’S the one you publish!?!?!?” came up a lot), I actually want to thank you for that. Because it forced me to take a deeper look; to realize that my secret was WRONG. That I was wrong. And i’m so grateful that that is my truth.

I don’t know that I will ever tell my husband or show him the book with my secret it in. I bought it, and the book is hidden in our apartment until I can decide what to do with it. Before I left the bookstore that day, I was in a shocked daze but I knew I had to do something. I happened to have stationary in my bag with me, so I took out a sharpie and began to write…

“Sometimes I feel like I know exactly who I am, who I want to be, where I’m going and what I want. Other times, I have no fucking idea. And you know what? That’s OK.”

I tucked it away in the book I was holding, put it back on the shelf for someone else to find, and grabbed another copy to take with me to the register. I can only hope that someone else will learn my lesson, a lesson you helped guide me through, and that they’ll come out on the other side.

Thank you for what you do.

Lots of love and light,

Feb. 15 Scars:

A picture of a young guy without his eyes in the photo: “My dad stabbed me when I was 19.  I can never take my shirt off because I’m so unbelievably self-conscious of that scar.”

“I purposely touch your scars so you know how okay I am with them.”

A picture of a young woman’s stomach: “Never will I let myself or another person make me feel like the scars that SAVED my life are ugly.”
A picture of a baby: “Scars are cool.  One day he and I will sit down and make up an awesome story about where his came from.”

A picture of tattoos: one of a open cage and three birds flying: “Those scars do not define me.  I’m free.”

“The nail salon attendants have been talking s--- in Spanish about us for the last half hour.  I plan on switching to Spanish when it’s time to tip them so they understand why I don’t.”
My opinion: I hope people learn to be more polite.  Don’t go assuming that someone doesn’t know what you’re saying.  There was a meeting at my work, and the manager says that we can only speak English.  There are lots of Filipino people in my work and they speak their own language.

I found this on Post Secret on Dec. 20, 2014:
“2 yrs ago, my Christmas wish is for us to be together forever.
Last year, my Christmas wish is for you to remember how you once loved me.
This year, my Christmas wish is for me to forget you.”
Feb. 22. 2014:
“To my biological mother that I have never met…
I am happy, healthy, and living a great life! 
I respect and am grateful for the difficult decision you’ve made.
I pray you have no regrets.
I am loved!”

Mar. 29, 2015:

"If the psychic didn't tell me to leave my husband, I would have stayed.  I haven't been this happy in 8 years."

Monday, April 27, 2015

URGENT: Earthquake in Nepal, Hundreds Dead

A devastating 7.9 earthquake has struck central Nepal, near the capital city of Kathmandu. This is the worst earthquake the region has seen in more than 80 years.

We need your help.

A devastating 7.9 earthquake has struck central Nepal, near the capital city of Kathmandu. This is the worst earthquake the region has seen in more than 80 years.

This earthquake has been deadly, toppling buildings and destroying infrastructure. We already know that more 1,400 people have been killed and many more are missing.

Children account for nearly half of Nepal’s population. I know that you share our concern about what this disaster means for children and their families in the affected region.

UNICEF staff in Nepal are already working hard to assess the damage and identify immediate needs for emergency assistance.

But we can’t do it without you.

Please donate now »

We will continue to keep you informed as we learn more about this terrible disaster. In the meantime, please consider making an emergency donation to support UNICEF’s relief efforts in Nepal.

Thank you,

David Morley
President & CEO, UNICEF Canada

Your donation will be tripled!

I’ve just received some important news.

All donations made until May 25th towards relief efforts in Nepal will be matched by the Government of Canada. And thanks to a match from our generous corporate partners, your donation will now go three times further.


Thank you...and thank you to all our supporters who have given in the last couple of days during this desperate time for the people of Nepal.

Thank you.

David Morley
President & CEO, UNICEF Canada

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: UNICEF Canada <>
Date: Sunday, April 26, 2015 03:17 PM
Subject: URGENT UPDATE: Reaching children in Nepal

I wrote to you yesterday, appealing for your help in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

“Near the city I saw an open van rushing towards the hospital. At the back of it, rolling with the twists and bumps of the road was the body of what must have been a very young girl. Face down all covered in dust. Black jeans covered with dust. Hair tangled with dust. That made me realize the enormity of the impact to everyone's lives here. I feel pain for all the families here. Lives snuffed out in a minute."

-Rupa Joshi, UNICEF Nepal Communication Officer

I wrote to you yesterday, appealing for your help in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal. Many of you have already made donations to support our efforts – thank you.

As information slowly starts to come in, we are getting a clearer picture of the devastation on the ground – and it’s a grim picture. The destruction is widespread: at least 40% of the country is affected. It is now estimated that more than 2,500 people have lost their lives and Nepalese authorities expect that the death toll will continue to rise. Thousands more are injured and many more are still unaccounted for. With homes demolished or unsafe, children and their families are forced to sleep outside in the cold.

These children desperately need our help.

Water is now scarce and stocks of medical supplies are dwindling. UNICEF has pre-positioned critical supplies in the area; now we’re working to deliver them to the people who need them most.

That’s where our supporters come in. If you’ve already made a donation, I offer my heartfelt thanks. If you have not yet done so, please consider making an emergency gift today. Your contribution of any amount will make a difference in helping us respond to the immediate needs of the people of Nepal.

We will continue to keep you informed about UNICEF’s response in the coming days and weeks.

For all that you do for children, I thank you.


David Morley
President & CEO, UNICEF Canada

Friday, April 24, 2015

College programs I researched in 2014

Apr. 24 College programs I researched in 2014: Here are all the college programs I researched in 2014.  This is why I called 2014 "The Year of Education and Research."  If you look up on my blog, you can see what I wrote about each program.

Grant MacEwan

1. Accounting and Strategic Measurement
2. Acupuncture
3. Arts and Cultural Management
4. Asia-Pacific Management
5. Bachelor of Applied Business Administration – Accounting
6. Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration
7. Bachelor of Arts
8. Bachelor of Child and Youth Care
9. Bachelor of Commerce
10. Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary Popular Music
11. Bachelor of Physical Education Transfer

12. Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing
13. Bachelor of Science
14. Bachelor of Science in Engineering transfer
15. Bachelor of Science in Nursing
16. Business Management
17. Cardiac Nursing Post-basic Certificate
18. Correctional Services
19. Design Studies

20. Disability Management in the Workplace
21. Disability Studies: Leadership and Community
22. Early Learning and Child Care
23. Emergency Communications and Response
24. English as a Second Language
25. Fine Art

26. General Studies
27. Hearing Aid Practitioner
28. Holistic Health Practitioner
29. Human Resources Management
30. Insurance and Risk Management Diploma

31. Legal Assistant
32. Library and Information Technology
33. Life Support Training
34. Massage Therapy
35. Music
36. Occupational Health Nurses
37. Office Assistant
38. Open Studies
39. Perioperative Nursing for LPNs
40. Perioperative Nursing for RNs
41. Police and Investigation- Investigative Studies
42. Police and Investigation- Police Studies

43. Post-basic Nursing Practice: Hospice Palliative Care or Gerontology
44. Preparation for University and College
45. Professional Golf Management

46. Psychiatric Nursing
47. Public Relations
48. Social Work
49. Special Needs Educational Assistant
50. Theatre Arts
51. Theatre Production
52. Therapist Assistant - Physical Therapist/Occupational Therapist Assistant Major
53. Therapist Assistant - Speech Language Pathologist Assistant Major
54. Travel
55. University Studies International
56. Wound Management Post-basic Certificate


1. Radio and TV-TV program
2. Radio and TV-Radio program
3. Radio and TV courses- non- credit
4. RATTV100
5. RAT- TV200
6. Final Cut Pro –X

7. Digital Media and IT
8. Graphic Communications
9. Photographic technology
10. Photographic technology courses
11. Hospitality management
12. Hospitality Management with English Language Training
13. Hotel and Restaurant Supervision Certification
14. Producer Emergence Program
15. Landscape Architectural Technology

16. Animal Health Technology
17. Veterinary Medical Assistant

18. Accounting courses
19. Applied Banking and Business
20. Bachelor of Applied Business Administration- Accounting
21. Bachelor of Applied Business Administration- Finance
22. Bachelor of Business Administration
23. Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management
24. Becoming a Master Instructor:
25. Business Administration- Accounting
26. Business Administration- Accounting Certificate
27. Business Administration- Finance
28. Business Administration- Finance Certificate
29. Business Administration-General Management Certificate

30. Business Administration-Human Resources Management
31. Business Administration-Human Resources Management- Certificate
32. Business Administration –Management
33. Business Administration- Marketing
34. Business Administration- Marketing Certificate
35. Business Administration- Small Business Certificate
36. Business Administration- Year 1

37. Business Administration –Year 1 with English Language Training:
38. Business Analyst Leadership Certificate
39. The Business for Journeymen Management Diploma
40. Business Management Certificate
41. Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) Certification Programs
42. Captioning and Court Reporting
43. Captioning and Court Reporting courses
44. CGA Pace Partnership Courses
45. Conflict Resolution & Negotiation Certificate
46. Corporate and International Training (CIT) seminars and workshops

47. Dental Assisting Technology
48. Dental Technology
49. Fluid Power Certificate
50. Laser Cutter Operator Certificate
51. Lean Six Sigma (Green Belt) Certificate
52. Machine- Shop Inspection and Calibration Certificate
53. Master of Business Administration in Community Economic Development
54. Medical transcription

55. NAIT Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program
56. Oil Field Thread Inspection Certificate
57. Operations Management Certificate
58. Professional Sales Certificate (CPSA):
59. Project Leadership Certificate
60. Project Management Certificate

61. Quality Management Certificate
62. Robotics Automation and Control Certificate
63. Special Events Management Certificate
64. Supervisor/ Manager Facilitation Skills Certificate
65. Supervisory Communication Skills Certificate
66. Supervisory Development Certificate
67. Teller Training Courses
68. Welding Automation Operator Certificate
69. Youth Leadership Program


Adult Continuing Education programs

Digital School

1. Architectural CAD Technician
2. Engineering CAD Technician
3. Computer Aided Drafter
4. Process Piping Specializations

Pixel Blue College

1. Aboriginal Graphic Design
2. Graphic Design
3. 2D Animation & Illustration
4. 3D Animation & Modelling
5. 3D Game Modeling
6. Digital Audio Production

University of Alberta Extension

Master of Arts in Communications and Technology
Residential Interiors

Thursday, April 23, 2015

“Get the most from 2015: Do less, focus more”

Mar. 30 “Get the most from 2015: Do less, focus more”: I cut out this article by Dane Jensen from the Globe and Mail on Jan. 30, 2015.  I cut it out because it’s about priotizing and being productive.  Here’s the whole article:
Every year upon returning to work from the holidays, I am reminded of the timeless wisdom of Mike Tyson: “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

The return to work can feel like a gut punch – with hundreds of e-mails to catch up on, a full voicemail box, and colleagues dropping by to say hi and catch up. Oh, and a whole bunch of things that you resolved to do differently or better in the haze of the end of year break.

Inevitably things start to fall off the wagon, and your attention gravitates towards what is most immediate – rather than what is most important. What can you do to get back on plan – and stay there? Here are five ideas for the New Year:

1. Focus on doing less

The easiest way to ensure that your aspirations for the year hold up is to hold fewer aspirations. This may sound like simply lowering the bar – but the reality is that if you focus your energy you can actually significantly raise your standards.

Whether it’s Covey’s limit of two wildly important goals, Tony Schwartz’s classic Harvard Business Review column The Magic of Doing One Thing At a Time, or Jony Ive reporting that it was Steve Jobs’ unrivalled focus that made him so productive – the research clearly points to the fact that the highest performers are those that are the most focused.
Take a look at your list of resolutions. What are two that you can un-resolve?

2. Come to terms with the fact that you know nothing, and act accordingly

In a recent interview in the McKinsey Quarterly, to sum up what he has learned from decades of advising CEOs and executives, management guru Tom Peters said: “My real bottom-line hypothesis is that nobody has a sweet clue what they’re doing.”

Ever since Socrates, the smartest people in the room have been reminding us that it’s best to come to terms with the fact that we actually know very little and proceed accordingly.

Make this the year you question your assumptions, and prioritize rapid experimentation and learning over false certainty.

3. Cultivate a developmental bias

How much more could you accomplish in 2015 if everyone around you got 10 per cent better? Take a minute to actually answer this question for yourself.

If you’re like most leaders we work with – answering this question immediately clarifies that one of the best investments you can make in your own productivity is to invest in those around you. This year, choose to become biased towards developing others.

This is a life’s work – and something that the coaches we work with in sport and business have spent thousands of hours learning and honing – but there is an easy place to start: giving precise, varied, and frequent feedback.

Many of us hold back from delivering feedback because we either feel that we’re going to jeopardize our working relationship (in the case of corrective feedback) or give someone a ‘big head’ (in the case of positive or reinforcing feedback for ‘just doing their job’).

The reality is that if your feedback stays focused on the behaviour (“you interrupted” instead of “you were rude”) and looks forward (“please wait until the customer finishes talking” instead of “why did you interrupt?”) it almost always helps rather than hurts both performance and the relationship.

4. Develop a positive relationship with pressure

If you want to make 2015 a year in which you grow, develop, and move beyond what you’ve done before, you are going to encounter pressure along the way. Pressure is inherent in the journey of human growth and development.

Underneath pressure is power – and just like the power that heats our homes, it is terrific when channelled properly – and can be devastating if left unchecked. So, take the time to develop a positive relationship with pressure. One of the best ways to do this is to play an active role in managing your energy.

5. Manage your energy in addition to your time

In our work with the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario on leadership, one of the key points that has been driven home by Troy Taylor, the Director of Sport Science and Medicine, is that the highest levels of performance occur as a result of variation in effort. “We monitor our athletes’ training loads on a daily basis – and one of the main things we are looking for is that, over time, we see peaks and valleys: periods of high intensity training followed by periods of rest and recovery. Training consistently at high intensity is not only bad for your health – it’s bad for performance.”

Take some time to integrate the principles of recovering energy into your routine (summarized wonderfully by my colleague Garry Watanabe here). At the very least, take breaks every 90 minutes in your work day. It’s not being lazy or wasting time. It’s being smart with your most valuable resource: energy.

6. Don’t do all five of these things

It’s important to add a sixth item to this five item list: do not attempt to do all of these things. In line with the research I mentioned at the start, focusing on all five will make it almost certain that they join your “no sugar” resolution in the February scrap heap. And, in line with No. 2, try one out, see if it works for you, and – if it works – keep doing it. If it doesn’t, try something else. Don’t think of them as rules – but rather as suggestions to kick off an experiment in how productive you can be this year.