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

Monday, September 5, 2016

"New checks on 'predatory' payday loans"

Aug. 3, 2016 "New checks on 'predatory' payday loans": I found this article by Yolanda Cole in the Edmonton Journal today:

Timothy Afolayan was taking home $850 on his paycheque when he found himself short $600 to help cover his mother’s medical bills in Nigeria.
The father of two had $600 in savings at the time, but had to borrow another $600 from a payday lender to send home.

Being paid $12 an hour and with regular bills to cover, there wasn’t much wiggle room in his budget.

Afolayan said he ended up stuck in a “vicious cycle,” unable to pay back the loan for 10 months.

During that nearly year-long period, he ended up paying back $2,400 in interest.
“I couldn’t just cough out $600,” he said.

“I had to either pay rent this month or buy groceries or pay some bills the next paycheque.”
Afolayan spoke as provincial legislation regulating the payday loan industry came into effect.
At a news conference, Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean said Alberta now has the lowest maximum borrowing rate in the country.

Fees have been lowered from $23 to $15 per $100 borrowed.

“We have put an end to 600 percent interest rates, which are predatory payday loan interest rates,” McLean said.

As of Aug. 1, payday lenders are also prohibited from charging a fee to cash a payday loan cheque, soliciting customers directly by e-mail or phone, or offering a loan when customers already have one outstanding.

The legislation also requires government to encourage financial institutions and community groups to offer alternative, short-term loans.

First Calgary Financial and Chinook Financial are the first to launch an alternative micro-loan program in Alberta, with an annual interest rate of 19% and a payback period of six to 18 months.

Shelley Vandenberg, the president of First Calgary Financial, said every year, the credit union sees hundreds of its members making fund transfers to payday lenders that amount to thousands of dollars.

Its new Cash Crunch loan program, which stems from a year-long pilot program, aims to help people facing unexpected expenses or budgeting challenges.

“Our ultimate goal in the development of this loan is to provide options to southern Albertans who need a short-term bridge in their finances,” she said.

When Afolayan found himself in need of a loan a second time, to help cover the cost of a new van for his family, he secured a short-term Cash Crunch loan through First Calgary Financial and Momentum — an experience he described as “night and day” from dealing with the payday lender.

The total he paid in interest on a $1,500 loan over a year was about $68.

A spokesman for the Canadian Payday Loan Association couldn’t be reached for comment. 

My opinion: This is sad.  I feel sorry for Afolayan.  Maybe he should have asked his friends and co-workers for money and they won't charge interest for it.  Though they may not have the money and can't afford to.

Soldier and child photo: I found this in the Edmonton Journal too:

"A soldier with the EU military operation in the Central African Republic bumps fist with a child in Bangui."

I thought this picture was inspiring.  I put this on my Facebook:

K-days: I read in the Edmonton Journal that K-days may or may not move to another place like Rogers Place.

Aug. 10, 2016 "'Lottery curse' can disrupt lives": I found this article by Joseph Brean in the Edmonton Journal.  I saw this before an 20/20 ep.

When he won a $5-million lottery jackpot in 2006, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation had some advice for Daniel Carley, then a small-time weed dealer in St. Catharines, Ont.

Get a financial advisor, it said. Then delist your phone number and change the locks on your home.

It was general advice, offered with a smile to all big winners. But it was especially prescient in Carley’s case, in which sound judgment was not the norm. For example, he blew more than half the money in the first three years, at a rate approaching $20,000 a week. Today he is broke.

News that Carley, 35, was sentenced last week to two and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to dealing crack in association with outlaw motorcycle gangs has offered the latest example of the lottery curse, a familiar story in which a jackpot destabilizes the lives of winners, and leaves them worse off than before.

There are, for example, the tabloid celebrity “lotto louts” of England, such as Michael Carroll, who went full circle from garbage collector to lavish spender and back to garbage collector, collecting addictions and convictions along the way.

There was Ibi Roncaioli of Thornhill, Ont., whose husband killed her when she went broke and her health began to fail. Raymond Sobeski of Princeton, Ont., tried and failed to hide his record-setting $30-million win from his wife. And in Quebec, the Lavigueur family was so plagued by lawsuits, opportunists and untimely deaths that they inspired a sordid miniseries.

As a group, these big lottery winners offer a rich vein of sociological insight. By some estimates, two-thirds of lottery winners are broke within seven years.
Basically, money tends to disrupt your life, and the more you let it change you, the worse you become.

One view, held by Richard Tunney, a professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham, is that the people who go wild and squander their jackpots are basically the sort who would have behaved irresponsibly anyway, whether rich or poor. But for the publicity of the lotto win, no one would have paid much attention.

But money also changes people’s outlook on those close to them, according to H. Roy Kaplan, a sociologist at the University of South Florida, who has surveyed hundreds of winners. He found that people who are already introverted tend to become more anxious and suspicious after they win.

He found Americans tended to move house immediately to areas of established privilege, whereas Canadians tended to renovate. Nearly 80 per cent of winners from both countries quit their jobs, often to their regret, and many who kept working were alienated from co-workers, as if they no longer needed or deserved to be working.

A study in Ohio in 2004 found that six per cent of big winners temporarily stopped work, 11 per cent went part time, 10 per cent started their own business, and 63 per cent continued full time — figures that are roughly in line with data collected by Canadian lottery agencies.

Edward Ugel, author of Money for Nothing: One Man’s Journey Through The Dark Side of Lottery Millions, has said that, of the thousands of winners he interviewed, a few were happy, “but you would be blown away to see how many winners wish they’d never won.”

In Carley’s case, misfortune was upon him the minute he claimed his winnings, and he was instantly alienated from some of his closest friends.
His friend since grade school, Paul Miller, who according to a judge was a sidekick “chauffeur” to Carley’s more dominant, charismatic personality, sued for half the winnings.

In a trial described by a judge as “awash in untruths and curiosities” with witnesses including “liars, fools, criminals,” Miller claimed he gave Carley $10 to buy tickets, and even scratched the winner himself, meaning he should share in the prize. His lawyer argued Carley took advantage of Miller’s “limited mental capacity.”

But the judge was having none of it. Miller was dishonest under oath, and Carley had the law and the facts on his side, so he kept the jackpot all to himself.
In arguments at Carley’s sentencing hearing last week, Carley’s lawyer summed up his client’s last few years, in a familiar story that insulates the rest of us against envy. Once an accidental millionaire, now Carley “has lost everything primarily from people taking advantage of him. He sold drugs to support his habit.”

Aug. 15, 2016 7 yr old boy tries to sell teddy bear for food: This is a sad story.  At least the parents were arrested.

“Officers see this nationwide every day and they do go above and beyond to feed homeless, feed children … they treat people like their own family,” Chief Whitman told the Journal-News.

“I’m very proud of my officers for what they did, but officers across the nation go above and beyond every single day,” Whitman told CNN. “We just happened to be put in the limelight. You can find stories like this everywhere with police officers every day. That’s why we get into this business, to help people.”

My week:

Aug. 28, 2016: Here is something I had put into my drafts in my email account.  I will put this in my inspirational quotes:

Jan. 2, 2016 "Dancing with the stars": I was reading this article by Barry Hertz in the Globe and Mail on Jan. 2016.  He wrote about believing in horoscopes as a kid, until when he was 9 yrs old and read that "If you were born on this day" all your hopes and dreams will be fulfilled.  He was excited that he was going to get the Zelda video game, and he did not.

Then he stopped believing in them.  I kind of felt sorry for the 9 yr old kid.  He said horoscopes are so vague that anyone can read anything in them. "Isn't there no fate but what we make?" - Connecting People Through News

Aug. 29, 2016 My opinion: This reminds me of a couple of jokes from The Simpsons.  Homer was reading his horoscopes at the breakfast table.  I don't remember what the episode was about.

Homer: Today will be like any other day.

I do remember the episode where the kids are snowed in at the elementary school with Principal Skinner and Groundskeeper Willy.  Later this big water tower topples over.  A man is outside and he sees it.

Man: My horoscopes came true.
He holds up the paper that says: "You will face challenges today."

I used to read my horoscopes because it was kind of inspirational.  Then I stopped by 2013.  I only seem to cut out and read the New Year's one about what will come of this year.   

Cottage couple advice column:  This is with David Eddie. I like reading advice columns so I know or my friend knows what to do in a situation.  Here's one that I found today.  The answer is an excerpt:

The question

We have often invited good friends to our cottage for a weekend visit. This summer, they said that their 15-year-old son wanted to bring his girlfriend, and that the two of them would share a room! First of all, we have never met her; secondly, she is only 14 years old; thirdly, they have never spent the night together before. We said no … that we were uncomfortable with this. They said: “Our kid … our rules.” We said: “Our cottage … our rules.” They then cancelled their visit and our relationship has been chilly since. Who was right?

The answer

You were.
Click. Dial tone. End of column.
Just kidding. 1) I get paid by the word, 2) it’s an interesting and thorny dilemma, 3) something almost exactly the same happened to me at a cottage we rented this summer.

My case involved a “bunky” (i.e., a small satellite cottage), and a pair of 17 year olds who had slept together before.
Spoiler alert: We let them share the bunky. But there was a lot of palaver beforehand, and a cross-examination about birth control in which all questions were answered to adult satisfaction.

My opinion: As of now, there are 31 comments that are siding with Eddie.  I have to side with Eddie too.  It's their cottage, their rules.  I'm not going to make comments about if it's "bad parenting" or "relaxed parenting."

Aug. 29, 2016: I was thinking about this today.  This was a black and white case, with an obvious answer.  It was so obvious and stupid.  There was no shades of grey.

Maury example: If you don't like this show, you can skip to the next paragraph.  Here is some shades of grey situation.  It was back in 2004 when I used to watch this show.  I remember this white couple.  A blonde woman with some weight on her suspect her husband who is a skinny guy is cheating on her.  They have 2 kids together.  He was put in a room with a "sexy decoy" who is a sexy woman.  He hits on her and he kisses her.  There is a hidden camera filming all this.

He failed the lie detector test (I don't remember the questions).  When they showed the hidden camera video of him kissing another woman, he laughed it off and was like "whatever."  The wife yells at him.

Cut to one year later she says to him: "I cheated on you to get back at you for cheating on me.  And the baby may not be yours."  He is upset and crying.  Before the results come, she says: "No matter what happens, I hope we can work it out."  He is the father.  The audience cheers.

My opinion: I see the husband is 55% wrong because he cheated on her first and didn't feel guilty about it.  She is 45% wrong because she cheated, but she wouldn't have if he hadn't cheated on her first.  Two wrongs don't make a right, but in this case it does.  I 100% see this marriage lasting because they're even and all the kids are theirs.  If he wasn't the father, I would still say the marriage was going to last.

It's totally fine, if you guys disagree with me and say the marriage isn't going to last.

Sept. 1, 2016: One more example is this white married couple:

1. Woman cheated on her husband and the baby may not be his.  He is the father.
2. They have a second kid and the man thinks he may not be the father due to wife's previous cheating.  The woman's mom also thinks the same thing.  He is the father.  The woman yells at them both.
3. Woman thinks her husband is cheating on her to get back at her for her previous cheating.  He does the lie detector and he passes.  He hugs her.

My opinion: I see this marriage has a 90% chance of lasting.  If he cheats on her, I don't know if it will totally even out.  They would need counseling.

Globe and mail comments:

duali 4 days ago
Completely absurd question that lacks any semblance of credibility.


shadow4Q 3 days ago
Well said. My thoughts exactly. Why is this even a question?


duali 2 days ago
Well - it's a fake question -- that's clear. There would have been less creepy and bizarre versions of this question that could have been used.

You have to wonder about the G&M sometimes.

sandia2007 1 day ago

It does make you wonder. First you have what for most people is a completely mind-boggling scenario with an obvious answer. Second that someone still felt the need to write into an advice column for reassurance that their opinion and rules weren't unreasonable given the scenario.

Sept. 3, 2016 "Grind my gears": Does anyone remember the Stewie Griffin movie?  I got that from the library.  There is a part where Peter gets a segment on the TV news.  He talks about what "grinds my gears" and he makes complaints.  That advice column did grind my gears.  However, it won't get me as angry as Dr. Phil and Maury.

Babysitting kids: This also reminds me of the time I met this 16 yr old boy named James at Call Centre #1 in 2005. 

James: I was helping my friend babysit yesterday and since the kid was walking so slow I had to carry him, we almost missed the LRT because of him.
Tracy: Yeah, well how old is he?
James: I don't know, like 2?
Tracy (laughs): Well, of course he can't walk that fast; his legs are too short.

I'm going to give James a pass, because he is 16.  He doesn't seem to have any knowledge or experience taking care of kids. 

Aug. 29, 2016 "Log on to beat insomnia": I found this article by Roni Caryn Rabin on how to improve your sleep.  I like the article, and the tips I have heard before like going to bed and waking up at the same time.

Sept. 1, 2016 Value Village item is now $10,000:

He was able to hook up with a big collector that same morning he started the hunt for information.

"Within 45 minutes or so I had found a collector in the state of New York," said McDonald. "Right away he offered me $3,000, a few days later $4,000, a couple of weeks later $6,500, and a couple of days later I said, 'Give me $10,000 Canadian and it's yours.'"

Still, he did feel some seller's remorse when it came time to part with the treasure.

My opinion: I guess I'm writing this because I donated so many things to Value Village this year.  However, they are mostly magazines and aren't expensive.  I know there are some books that can cost a lot of money, but most of the books I donated aren't going to get a high price.  Maybe if the author autographed it.


At April 26, 2018 at 1:57 AM , Blogger clarajessy said...

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