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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"Are we actually meant to be happy at work?"/ "Two-thirds of employees are ready to jump"

Sept. 19, 2016 "Are we actually meant to be happy at work?": I found this article by Leah Eichler in the Globe and Mail on Sept. 17, 2016:

As a kid, a trip to Disney World felt like the ultimate vacation destination. While my children would certainly welcome the opportunity to visit the Magic Kingdom, their access to so many other virtual fantasy worlds means it doesn’t hold the same appeal. They certainly wouldn’t buy into the tag line that the venue is “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

Nowadays, we seem simultaneously confused by and obsessed with the concept of happiness. This likely explains why there is a World Happiness index that ranks the happiest countries on Earth (Canada comes in sixth) and why books like Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project became an international bestseller. Organizations now compete with each other to be named one of the happiest places to work. It accompanies the belief that the emotion remains integral to a company’s bottom line.

“Happiness, in its various guises, is no longer some pleasant add-on to the more important business of making money, or some New Age concern for those with enough time to sit around baking their own bread. … It has penetrated the citadel of global economic management,” writes William Davies, author of The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being.

That desire for happier employers is presumably the motive behind Amazon’s recent announcement that it intends to experiment with a 30-hour workweek. The company seems to want to leave behind the highly unflattering narrative presented in last year’s New York Times exposé of Amazon’s recruitment and employee management practices, which one former HR executive described as “purposeful Darwinism.”

Can such a company – at which one executive said he had seen most of his colleagues cry at their desks – really be buying into the business case for happiness? Perhaps. If so, it is far from alone in its attempt to appeal to a new generation of workers who, more than anything else, are demanding happiness, said Neil Patel, co-author of the newly published book Hustle: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum.

What people want now, he maintains, is freedom and the flexibility to do what they love. In other words, they want to be happy. That’s why Amazon is rethinking work hours, he said, and why companies such as LinkedIn offer unlimited vacations.

“They know to get top talent you need to make it an enjoyable place where people want to work. … It’s not just about work-life balance. They want you to be happy,” Mr. Patel said.

This is no small shift, he argued, but a new American Dream, where increasingly employees’ professional lives will become more personal, raising their happiness quotient and producing better results.

“The biggest change … is that more companies are treating employees like a person, like a family member and not just a line worker,” he added.
Sounds great, but how far will companies be expected to go to ensure their employees are happy? How do we measure the impact of happiness? Do we really want our companies to feel like families? And what does this mean for life outside work?

According to André Spicer and Carl Cederstrom, co-authors of The Wellness Syndrome, expectations of happiness on the job can have a negative impact on your relationships with your boss as well as your relationships at home. They cite research that shows those who search for happiness at work can conflate bosses with spouses or parents, and when they don’t receive the emotional response they are looking for, feel neglected. Taking that to an extreme, when an employee is fired, they not only lose a source of income, but the promise of happiness, making them incredibly vulnerable.

All this talk about happiness may also make us lose sight of what it truly means, if we ever understood it in the first place. A recent ruling by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board determined that employers cannot force their employees to be happy. The issue arose when T-Mobile employees felt that their company, which demanded “a positive work environment,” was asking too much.

Expecting your employer to make you happy or demanding happiness from your employees sets high and perhaps unreasonable expectations that threaten to make the large number of employees who are already disengaged feel that much more miserable.

So stop expecting to find happiness nestled between the foosball table and beer fridge at work. Your office may not be the happiest place on earth – and that’s okay.

My opinion: That was a good article.  It was like business and psychology.

Oct. 1, 2016 "Two-thirds of employees are ready to jump": Today I found this article by Leah Eichler in the Globe and Mail.  I really like the picture of a dark- haired woman looking at all these graphics with the words "Job search."

Workers are becoming inwardly career-focused rather than on the company

You may not want to hear this, but the majority of your employees are considering leaving. Right now.
Sure, you might think your faithful colleagues, who cheerfully respond to your e-mails late at night and still bring in freshbaked cookies on Fridays are here to stay, but evidence shows otherwise.

According to a recent survey by payroll processor ADP Canada, two-thirds of employed Canadians, or 65 per cent, are ready to walk out their office doors. ADP divides these flight risks into three categories: “the uninspired,” “the casual daters” and “the dissed.” The uninspired remain the largest of the three groups, at 33 per cent of the work force. These employees feel little loyalty and can include anyone from “bored superstars” to “underachieving clock-punchers.”

Casual daters account for 16 per cent of the work force, and they passively keep their eyes open to new opportunities on venues such as LinkedIn. Compensation acts a motivator for this cohort.

The final group, the dissed, refers to the disaffected 16 per cent of the work force actively looking for new jobs. These may include high performers.

Lack of company loyalty is not a new phenomenon. A Workopolis report from 2014 found only 30 per cent of Canadians had remained at the same job for more than four years since 2002, down from 55 per cent to 60 per cent between 1990 and 2002. In fact, employee loyalty has been on the wane since the 1980s, according to Adam Cobb, assistant professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school, when healthy firms began laying off employees to increase shareholder value and the social contract between employer and employee began to fray.

This shift toward being more inwardly career-focused, versus company-focused, will only become more pronounced for workers as the job market becomes more fluid, according to Ray Williams, chief executive officer of Ray Williams Associates Inc., an executive coaching and public speaking firm.

“The concept of a single, lifelong career has disappeared for most people, partly due to organizations needing to be flexible in growing, shrinking and reallocating the work force according to need and economic conditions,” Mr. Williams said.
With those changes, the concept of employee loyalty has evolved as well.

“Now, we can define loyalty as employers providing not just employment for workers, but a culture and conditions that aim at enhancing employee wellbeing and happiness in return for good work, however long that lasts,” Mr. Williams said.

Rather than viewing employees constantly on the lookout for their next opportunity as “job hoppers,” Mr. Williams prefers to view this arrangement as mutually beneficial, in which a company provides a corporate culture that remains employeecentric, offering them meaningful work and autonomy rather than just financial compensation.

In fact, “job hopping” may be mutually beneficial for everyone. Not only can companies allocate resources as needed, but some experts believe employees who move every two years may earn more and in some ways, act more loyally to the brand. As a work force, we’ve evolved into an employee-employer arrangement in which everyone does what’s best for them and it somehow works for everyone. Additionally, constant job shifting is no longer just associated with millennials.

Elizabeth Williams, director of brand and communications at ADP Canada, said that while 77 per cent of millennials would jump ship today for the right offer, they aren’t alone. Sixty-eight per cent of workers in the 35 to-44 age group and 64 per cent of those between 45 and 54 expressed the same sentiment.

The one risk she observed is that losing older workers can result in vacancies at the more senior level, a problem that’s compounded when those employees take with them experience and “institutional memory” – the trove of knowledge and know-how gathered over their careers. To mitigate that flight risk, she recommends employers ensure their compensation packages, including benefits and perks, remain competitive. Ms. Williams also recommends examining your company’s brand and culture to ensure the workplace remains somewhere employees want to call home.

“Our survey found that combined life-quality issues such as workload, stress and commuting were a very close second to compensation in what job seekers are looking for,” she said.

Then again, most employees will eventually want to leave, and according to Ms. Williams, that’s good news for everyone.

“Some turnover is actually healthy because it makes room for new talent. The takeaway for employers here is that a substantial percentage of their work force, including their top performers, are easy prey for a competitor with a good offer,” Ms. Williams said.

“The flip side, of course, is that if you are in the market for new talent, you will likely find your competitors’ employees are open to an offer,” she added.

"Are we living in a social economy or precarious one?"/ "How to see yourself as your co-workers do"

Aug. 15, 2016 "Are we living in a social economy or a precarious one?":

This piece is part of a Globe and Mail/OCAD University summer series highlighting design thinking, issues and innovation.

Sarah Tranum is an assistant professor of social innovation design in the design faculty at OCAD University. Alia Weston is an assistant professor of creative and business enterprise in the faculty of liberal arts and sciences, school of interdisciplinary studies, at OCAD University. They co-lead the minor in entrepreneurship and social innovation.

The precarious economy, the project economy, the social economy – one is defined as scarce, underpaid, insecure employment while the others point to independent, interconnected, self-directed work. The first term underscores uncertainty while the others focus on potential opportunities.
Different names, different perspectives on one reality, namely the current job market in North America. This is a job market that no longer offers the same hope for full-time, long-term employment that it did even just a decade ago. It does offer flexible employment and greater opportunities to work on various projects of one’s own choosing, to even self-direct a career about creating impactful social change.

Call it what you will, but there is no doubt the economy and our understanding of employment has shifted significantly over the past two decades, and will continue to do so because of technology and changes in the global marketplace.

However it’s defined, people need the hard and soft skills to thrive in this new economy. Progressive education has a critical role in preparing the next generation of workers, but it’s just one piece. A range of supportive policies and programs is absolutely necessary if the supply and demand of the evolving job market are to be aligned – if Canadians, young and not so young, are to find meaningful places in the increasingly global employment market.

We all know the story: After the 2007-08 financial crisis, our economies tanked, companies tightened their belts and jobs were eliminated, while technology kept trucking ahead. By late 2009, the economy had stabilized and companies began seeing profits again. But the jobs lost and the changes made were never fully restored. The result has been fewer full-time jobs, more part-time and contract work, few benefits.

Up to this point, one’s skills, obligations, personal outlook and ability to navigate uncertainty and risk have determined how this reality is shaped on the individual level – whether the new reality is a precarious space of unemployment or a transformational space of opportunity. Moving forward, what’s most critical is recognizing the need to prepare, train and support job seekers for a different kind of market, then actually investing in it. This is the new reality, but instead of meeting it head on, too many in positions to help – in education, industry and government – are looking backward. The result is many workers going it alone, with varying degrees of success.

Some recognize the need to look forward and meet the new reality. In classes at OCAD University, undergraduate art and design students are taught about the historical contexts of work, about the precarious consequences of the Great Recession, about the technological revolutions taking place around us. They are encouraged to consider this history and question causes and implications. But what feels like just a blink to those of us who lived, worked and saw our investments shrink then is old news to most of these young students. So why is this so relevant to teach now?

These shifts have shaped the job market they will enter as graduates. This market looks very different from the one their parents entered, and if they are to navigate and succeed, they will need to understand how it came to be and how it continues to evolve. They need to navigate ambiguity, think entrepreneurially and engage in a socially responsible way. These qualities aren’t new, but the competency to create, launch a business or design solutions to pressing societal challenges is more critical now than ever before.

This is the impetus behind OCAD University’s new entrepreneurship and social innovation minor. The program is focused on teaching business and economic principles through a lens of critical and creative thinking and practice, but it’s rooted in community, ethics and social responsibility. It is not just market forces and analyses of long-term trends that led to its creation but the students, themselves, who have recognized the connection between their studio work and the realities of the marketplace. They are asking for entrepreneurship, leadership and social innovation-based courses to be part of their education and they are creating opportunities to further explore these areas as part of their university experience through student-led initiatives.

This curriculum includes real-world projects, international community engagement and critical analyses, combined with hands-on, studio-based work giving our students both depth and breadth across fields of study. The objective is to instill the ability to navigate a future that is global and digital while also being fluent in local, social realities and in the physicality of materials, processes and techniques of their chosen art and/or design discipline. This mixture of theory and practice, micro and macro, is the future of art and design education. It is the way forward for graduating students poised to create opportunities for themselves and others through their creative work and also make a living from this.

But even more can be done to prepare students – not just to help them carve out a niche in the new economic reality but to empower them to shape it. Canada abounds with people who are helping to chart the future of work, but there are many more who struggle to find their places, to launch their ideas, to secure sufficient income. For those left behind, the economic and social effects can be profound and troubling.

Pro-active and innovative university preparation is a critical piece of the puzzle, but more is needed: support from the business community, consumers and policy-makers to ensure that a generation isn’t lost.

Here’s what active participants – workers, entrepreneurs and social innovators – in the new economy need:

  • Paid internships and apprenticeship programs. Students and job-seekers alike need more access to paid experiential learning opportunities in the field. The more experience they have, the better prepared they are to choose and create successful career paths, often ones that have not yet been paved.

  • Support from businesses and consumers. More than lip service needs to be paid to small local businesses, artists and designers. Choosing quality over the bottom line in business and personal purchasing decisions helps small independent vendors stand a chance against big global competitors, which in turn leads to job creation and more money in local economies.

  • Policy and programs to mitigate risks. The new economic reality needs more supports for those working as consultants, independent contractors and small business owners. Policies and programs that facilitate benefits and retirement savings are critical. Being an active player in this changing economy should not require sacrificing security and piece of mind.

  • Funding and support for enterprise. We need stronger incentives for starting up independent businesses and social enterprises: more help with university tuition, greater student loan flexibility, enterprise funding, mentorship, market access. Innovation needs to be seeded and nurtured. Support is needed for those in the creative industries and social innovation, not just for researchers and innovators in high tech and biomedical fields.

With these measures in place, our economy can become less uncertain and less perilous, and offer greater potential and freedom. While education and perspective attuned to the realities and opportunities of this job market are key, it shouldn’t just be up to the next generation’s work force to turn lemons into lemonade. Much more can and should be done to help new and current employment-seekers find their way and thrive. Broad-based supports and initiatives will help to shape a generation of professionals who can take on the challenges and potential of the new economy and a world that continues to evolve alongside creative, adaptable leaders and innovators.

Sept. 13, 2016 "How to see yourself as your co-workers do": I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on May. 20, 2015:

No One Understands You and What to Do About It
By Heidi Grant Halvorson
(Harvard Business Review Press, 212 pages, $27.50)

“You really do have to read this one, Jonathan.”
That’s how Columbia Business School social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson ends her latest book. Jonathan Halvorson is her husband, a successful executive who never reads books on management, innovation, motivation, and influence – including the ones she has written. She asked him one day what topic he would delve into.

“I suppose the one problem I haven’t figured out a good solution for – the one that keeps coming up again and again – is how I come across to other people. I get the feeling that sometimes people think I’m being critical, or aloof, or disengaged, and that’s not at all my intention. But I don’t know how to fix it, because I don’t understand what they are seeing,” he responded.

Unlike her husband, most of us haven’t given this issue much thought. We assume that people see us for the wonderful people we are. But they don’t.
“The uncomfortable truth is that most of us don’t come across in the way we intend. We can’t see ourselves objectively, and neither can anyone else, ” she writes in No One Understands You and What to Do About It. “Knowing how you are actually perceived – in an interview, on a sales call, in your everyday interactions with your boss and co-workers – can go a long way toward improving nearly every aspect of your working life.”

The first reason is that you are a riddle wrapped in an enigma. You are not an open book – people can’t read your mind. Indeed, when negotiators – who should be sharp at reading people – were asked about the other party’s intentions, they guessed correctly only 26 per cent of the time. You are far from transparent and to be judgable you need to make information about yourself available to others that will provide evidence of the particular qualities you are trying to convey.

However, you need to be careful because a second problem is that your actions are a matter of interpretation. Research shows that people who like Barack Obama consider him intelligent and competent, while those who dislike him consider the U.S. President incompetent and a failure. So perceptions are shaped by feelings toward the individual. “To borrow a bit from Tolstoy, it would appear that while all your fans see you similarly, the haters each hate you in their own unique way,” she said.

As well, we tend to be cognitive misers, wanting to think only as much as we feel necessary. So not only are you hard to understand, but people observing you aren’t willing to expend much effort puzzling you out. They succumb to assumptions, rules of thumb (people from an Ivy League university are smart), and stereotypes. They seek to confirm their biases.

Often they have an agenda that warps perception – in effect, a “lens” by which they view you. She focuses on three:

The trust lens: When people meet you for the first time or are still getting to know you, they are wondering whether they can trust you. Can they let their guard down with you? Are you friend or foe? And do you have what it takes to act on those positive or negative intentions? This is usually unconscious, happening very quickly – a primal response, dating back to prehistoric days when it could mean survival.

“Decades of research show that they are highly attuned into two particular aspects of your character, right from the get-go – your warmth and your competence. Your warmth – friendliness, loyalty, empathy – is taken as evidence that you have good intentions toward the perceiver. Your competence – intelligence, skill, effectiveness – is taken as evidence that you can act on your intentions if you want to,” she said.

The power lens: When the person you are interacting with has more power than you, they have a straightforward agenda: Prove yourself useful to me or get out of the way. And she stresses this is not just power in the sense of business or government, but all relationships. Your goal is to show how you can help the more powerful person reach his or her goals.

The ego lens: The perceiver wants to view you in a way that allows him or her to come out on top. We do this when we dismiss a celebrity, without much evidence, as a jerk – it makes us feel superior. People are less worried by other folks who aren’t that close to them, so their behaviour doesn’t matter much (like a second cousin rarely seen) or whose achievements don’t seem all that relevant (the friend who is an expert at playing the flute, something you care little about). But when the achievements are relevant and the relationship close, it can threaten the ego.

The book offers lots of advice on those three lenses and the broader issue of how you are perceived by others. It’s clearly written, based on research, with lots of examples. Perhaps Jonathan Halvorson should read it.


Leadership trainer Michael Lee Stallard explains the competitive advantage of empathy and understanding in Connection Culture (ATD Press, 134 pages, $29.95).

Innovation expert Rowan Gibson explores creative thinking in The 4 Lenses of Innovation (Wiley, 284 pages, $42).

In The Payoff Principle (Greenleaf, 264 pages, $29.95) Alan Zimmerman of the Institute for Management Studies presents a formula for success: Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff.

My opinion: The Payoff Principle seems pretty interesting.  I will look it up.

By reading this article, it brought me this Apr. 2013 article.  There was a job interview with this woman:

Job interview: A few months ago, I did a job interview and I wrote about it.  Remember that time the interviewer was a woman who I felt like was "attacking" me?  Her tone of voice was kind of harsh.  The whole story is this: I was interviewing for a credit and collections agency.

Now I'm sure all you are like: "Oh yeah.  That explains her tone of voice.  She is probably so used to yelling at people on the phone to pay their bills, that this is how she normally talks now."

My 2016 opinion: She probably doesn't know or notice that she seems angry.  She didn't directly say anything mean to me, but I felt that she was coming off harsh.

"Bad state of play"/ "Kids in the Hall Gala"

Sept. 24, 2016 "Bad state of play": I found this article by Ana Swanson in the Edmonton Journal today:

Danny Izquierdo, a 22-year-old who lives with his parents in Silver Spring, Md., has found little satisfaction in a series of part-time, lowwage jobs he’s held since graduating from high school.

But the video games he plays, including FIFA 16 and Rocket League on PlayStation and Pokemon Go on his smartphone, are a different story.

“When I play a game, I know if I have a few hours I will be rewarded,” he said.
“With a job, it’s always been up in the air with the amount of work I put in and the reward.”

My opinion: It's not always true.  I know that when I go to work, I do my job and I get paid.  Money is the reward.  At least in the 2nd restaurant job.

At the 1st restaurant job, I get tips and that can vary a bit.

Izquierdo represents a group of video-game-loving Americans who, according to new research, may help explain one of the most alarming aspects of the nation’s economic recovery: Even as the unemployment rate has fallen to low levels, an unusually large percentage of able-bodied men, particularly the young and less-educated, are either not working or not working full-time.

Most of the blame for the struggle of male, less-educated workers has been attributed to lingering weakness in the economy, particularly in male-dominated industries such as manufacturing.

Yet in the new research, economists from Princeton, the University of Rochester and the University of Chicago say an additional reason many of these young men — who don’t have a college education — are rejecting work is that they have a better alternative: living at home and enjoying video games. The decision may not even be completely conscious, but surveys suggest young men are happier for it.

“Happiness has gone up for this group, despite employment percentages having fallen, and the percentage living with parents going up. And that’s different than for any other group,” says the University of Chicago’s Erik Hurst, an economist at the Booth School of Business who helped lead the research.

While young men might temporarily enjoy a life of leisure, the implications could be troubling for them as well as the economy.

The young men aren’t gaining job experience that will better equip them to work in their 30s and 40s.

That, in turn, could lead to a lifetime of decreased wages, limited opportunities and challenges such as depression and drug use — problems the U.S. is already seeing in areas hit with heavy job losses.

At the same time, if a historically vibrant portion of the population doesn’t feel as much desire to work, this could harm the economy’s future and the ability of government to use policy to create jobs.

Young men without college degrees have replaced 75 per cent of the time they used to spend working with time on the computer, mostly playing video games, according to the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, which is based on the Census Bureau’s time-use surveys.

Before the recession, from 2004 to 2007, young, unemployed men without college degrees were spending 3.4 hours per week playing video games.
By 2011 to 2014, that time had shot up to 8.6 hours per week on average.

More-educated young men have ratcheted up their gaming time, too, but they have an easier time finding good jobs, so their work hours haven’t fallen as much.
The trends are different for women, who are much more likely to go back to school after leaving the labour force.

The paper attributes one-third to one-fifth of the decline in work hours by less-educated young men to the rising use of technology for entertainment — mainly video games. The new study has not yet been published, and the researchers say they are continuing to refine the precise figures.

But other prominent economists who reviewed it for this article said it raises important questions about why so many young men have abandoned the workforce. A few decades ago, an unemployed person might be stuck on the couch watching TV, isolated and depressed.

Today, cheap or free services such as Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and Netflix provide seemingly endless entertainment options and an easy connection to the outside world. Video games in particular provide a strong community and a sense of achievement that, for some, real-world jobs lack.

Young men are also helped out economically by living at home.

In the U.S., nearly two-thirds of nonworking, less-educated young men live with parents or other family members, up from about one third before the recession. For the first time since the 1930s, more U.S. men aged 18-34 are living with their parents than with romantic partners, according to the Pew Research Center.

Data from the General Social Survey, a U.S. survey of several thousand people, shows young non-college men report being happier than in the early 2000s, with the percentage of men saying they are very or pretty happy rising from 81 per cent to 88 per cent. In the same period, the reported happiness of other groups remained constant or fell.

For Izquierdo, video games provide a respite from job-market pressures. “As a young, first-generation male, there’s a lot of expectations. So it’s kind of cool to pop on a game ... and you will be rewarded for doing small tasks,” he says.
“They just make me happy.”

Oct. 24, 2016: This is kind of a sad job article.  It reminds me of The Simpsons where Homer broke his leg and opens his own daycare.

Homer: What do you expect me to do?  Sit on my ass and watch TV all day?  That ain't my style!

It totally reminded me of this email about the bad time in 2006.  I got laid off from Call Centre #1 and then got a job at Call Centre #2.  I worked like 20 hrs a week and was bored.

Kids in the Hall Gala: Today I found this article called "Two different charities, one culture of giving" by Nick Lees in the Edmonton Journal:

James Milliken, 21, from the small Saskatchewan reserve of Ahtahkakoop, drew a standing ovation Friday night after his speech at the 20th anniversary gala of the Kids in the Hall Bistro.

Milliken was one of three youngsters who told their stories and helped raise $145,000 for the non-profit charity which helps youth face barriers, including homelessness, poverty and addiction.

“I couldn’t go to school on the reserve as I always got beat up because I didn’t wear brand-name clothes and always looked poor,” Milliken told the 160 guests who dined in the City Hall lobby.

“All the money my grandmother got was spent on drugs and alcohol and my little brother. I ended up going to a white school outside the reserve and found they were kind of racist.”

He had gone to live with his grandma, along with a younger brother and sister, because his mother “wasn’t around much.”

“I eventually got into drugs and alcohol, nothing serious, just marijuana at a young age,” said Milliken. “Alcohol was always involved when things went wrong. My mom was getting sick of me getting into trouble, started talking to family in Edmonton and found me a place to stay.”

He moved here three months ago, missed his family and was very lonely. But he was sick of the reserve and knew he had to be here.
“An aunt eventually brought me to Kids in the Hall and I got my very first job,” said Milliken. “I am training to be a chef, my dream job. I love coming to work every day. And Kids in the Hall has helped me change to be a better person.

“I don’t drink as much as I used to and I have a good group of friends.”
Kids in the Hall helped him register with the Alberta Apprenticeship Program and he is now taking courses and earning hours toward his chef’s journeyman certificate.

“I sometimes get lonely for my family and want to go home to them,” said Milliken. “But I am doing this so they can be proud of me. I am proud of me.”

The two other speakers were Megan Strawberry, 23, and her sister Marianne Strawberry, 25.
Born and raised in Edmonton, Megan said she was 16 when her family broke up on the passing of her mother and she had no direction.

Four years later, she decided to leave addictions behind and get her life on track by getting a job and going back to school.

“The staff at Kids in the Hall really opened my mind to believing there are people who do care about people like me, which is exactly what most youth need,” said Megan.
“Today I am finally finishing my high school and working towards a career in both health care and social work.”

Marianne said she was 14 when she lost her mother and at 16 she was dealing with addiction, depression, panic and homelessness.

“I had no guidance and no direction until I found Kids in the Hall,” she said. “Staff gave me a chance to get high school credits and gain life skills and job experience.

“I am now in my second year of social work at school and will graduate next year.”
Meanwhile, the best-selling item that went under the hammer of auctioneer and event sponsor Sine Chadi was a 14-karat yellow-and-white-gold diamond ring. It sold for $4,800.

My opinion: That was inspirational.  I hope that people stop being lazy in the "Bad state of play" article and start looking for a job, and/ or at least people are more grateful that they didn't experience poverty and addictions.  

My week:

Oct. 24, 2016 The Walking Dead: I saw the season 7 premiere.  It was intense.  I felt really tense.  In the season 6 finale, a character got killed and the audience doesn't know who.  Here is a mild spoiler alert:  They killed 2 people. 

The Cleveland Show: Here is a light and fun joke from the show.  They had an episode where they did various versions of the show.  What if the show was Italian?  At the end of an episode it is either Rallo or Cleveland Jr. who gets shot and we don't know who.

Cleveland: Now I don't know who got shot!  I am so emotionally invested in these fictional characters.  Now I have to go on the internet forums and complain.

I have to remind myself that this is fictional, but it's still pretty intense.

However, I would rather watch fictional shows so I can say it's not real.

Unlike watching Dr. Phil and Maury, I know it's real and I get too angry and depressed.

Matt Damon on Arthur: I was going to record a TV show, and then I see the cartoon show Arthur.  I read the description that the kids were making a video for Matt Damon's TV show.  I then watched the last min. of it.  Damon plays himself and is an aardvark on the show.  I thought that was funny.  The episode was in 2007.

Oct. 26, 2016 River Cree Casino buffet: Last night and 9 of my co-workers (from the 1st restaurant job) went to the Surf n' Turf buffet there.  It's mainly seafood.  The service and food was good.  I filled out the comment card.

I've been there with my Soup place co-workers for a party on Jun. 2008 and Jun. 2009.  It's like $35.95 for an adult.

I also learned a bit of the Shuttle Service.  There's a bus that goes from the River Cree to West Edmonton mall.  It usually runs every 30min.  You should ask Front desk for a schedule.

After announcing their happy news on Facebook, the couple has been flooded with one question: How did she not know she was pregnant? Michael explained that Stephanie showed almost no signs of pregnancy due to other health problems and factors. The mom of four was diagnosed with pre-menopause, which explained the hormonal imbalance that can also be associated with pregnancy. Also, the baby was breech throughout the entire pregnancy causing Stephanie to never "show" or be able to feel the baby moving.

"The most bizarre part is she continued to have a menstrual cycle, which the hospital tells us is rare, but can happen," Michael wrote. "Lastly, Steph broke her ankle a couple of weeks ago and was laid up for the last couple of weeks limiting her movements. All of this together ruled out in our minds even the remote possibility of a pregnancy

My opinion: I saw this kind of thing on 20/20.  Also:

"Michael Kors, Kate Hudson tackle hunger": Yesterday I found this article by Aleesha Harris in the Edmonton Journal.  They are selling a Watch HungerStop activity tracker ($175) or special edition watch ($355) at Michael Kors store or online.  For each watch or tracker sold, Kors will donate 100 meals to the United Nations World Food Programme.

Oct. 27, 2016 I saw this big ad last night.  I then see an ad again on the internet:

"Talk to your family and your doctor about participating in a clinical trial, or join a panel to help decide what we should be researching. Sign up below and you'll get email updates about new opportunities to help shape Alberta's medical future."

Job search: I know you can't exactly tell, but I did take a break from my job search.  I have read the business section of the Edmonton Journal and the Globe and Mail 6 days a week even when I wasn't looking for a job.  Now  I'm on it.

Oct. 29, 2016 Sears closing: My sister told my family about this yesterday:

The Sears outlet store at Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre will close its doors Dec. 24 because the retailer doesn’t have as many items to sell there as it did in the past, company spokesman Vincent Power says.

“It was mainly selling off-price goods that were surpluses from our catalogue channel and other retail stores,” he wrote in an email.

“However, more modern inventory management systems and capabilities have greatly reduced the amount of surplus inventory we have to sell in our outlet stores, so we do not have the (same) space requirement.”

Oct. 30, 2016: Happy Halloween!