Thursday, 26 March 2015

English Works

A few months ago, I found an ad in a local newspaper looking for volunteers to speak English with students from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, over Skype. I'm always looking to volunteer. But being able to do it from home, makes it better and easier. I contacted the organizer, a young woman from Rio now living in New York City. Patricia, with the help of Roger (a Canadian living in London, Ontario), arranges English speaking people to have  conversations with Brazilians.

Classes began at the end of February. It's a very interesting situation. After a class, the students spend five to ten minutes in front of the computer on Skype to talk to a volunteer. There are set dialogues to follow but, depending on the level of the student, I ask them a few questions of my own. The ages rang from 13 to 55, both men and woman of varying abilities.

I enjoy teaching English. It's an important language to learn. Most countries speak English and learning a new language is always fun. Most of these students are beginners but some are more advanced. Some speak quite well while others need assistance with the words. It's a lot of fun and I enjoy meeting these people whose wide and bright smiles light up my computer.

For a long time, I have been working with a young man from Rio. I met him on the chat line. He was looking for someone to help him with his English. We hit it off and I began to teach him. In the beginning, his only words were hello, how are you. After a few years of English courses and a two week experience in England at a school for non-English speakers, he is fluent now. His vocabulary is well-established and I'm always impressed with his abilities. He gives me a lot of credit but he had done the work.

Recently, I have been speaking on Skype with one of their assistant teachers. Raphaela is a pretty young girl who desperately wishes to learn to speak English. Her writing skills are excellent but she makes some simple pronunciation errors. I'm sure she will learn quickly. She has a good ear and accepted the corrections instantly.

This world they live in is so different from ours. Classes are cancelled due to police actions, shootings and violent happenings. We are so lucky to live in such a peaceful environment. I was asked why it is so safe here and I couldn't reply. It has always been safe in Canada and I treasure this country for its peaceful existence. When told that if they don't see the police, it is strange. I replied that it is strange for us to see the cops.

If you are interested in volunteering or in the organization, check out this English Works website

have fun,

Friday, 13 March 2015


One thing you may not know about me is that I'm a professional poker player. I've been playing poker for money for two years now though I've been playing at the same poker site since 2005. At that time, I played with fake money/chips but it became boring. You really won nothing. So, I decided to start playing for money. I only play tournaments and not cash games so I only lose a set amount.

Mostly, I play $7.50 tournaments. The most expensive tournament I play in costs $11 to enter. So that's all I can lose: $11 which is not going to break the bank. These tournaments have between 4,000 to 8,000 players so the tourney may take a number of hours to complete. The longest I've played is six hours when I came 9th out of 6,700 people and won $250. Many times, I make it to the money round and at least win back what I paid into the tournament.

Basically, I play maybe four hours. It's my entertainment. I love playing poker. It's so addictive. I'm fascinated with the game. It's so exhilarating when your hand hits and you win. Though I must admit, when you lose it's disheartening but, after a few moments of pain, I bounce back and look forward to the next hand.

I play at Pokerstars a great site. You have a choice of either playing for money or for chips. They make improvements all the time only making the games better. Recently they added a notation where you can learn what place you are in the tournament and how many people are left. You can also easily learn when the blinds change and to what. There is a place where you can make notes about the other players as well as to learn your statistics.

In the past, I played in a few live tournaments held at local bars. I came second in two different tournaments and won $120. However, these games stopped for some reason and I no longer play live. My dream is to play in a poker tournament in Las Vegas. One day I will go but not now. No money.

I wrote a novel about five poker buddies who uncover a conspiracy. Had it edited and it needs work. One day I'll get to it and finish it.

Loving the weather. So glad we moved our clocks ahead. This is great. So nice to see the sun and the temperatures are finally moving up not down. Soon I'll be able to open the windows and let the fresh air in.

have fun,

My favourite poker player is Daniel Negreanu, from Toronto now living in Vegas. He's a big hockey fan and is trying to get a hockey team in Vegas.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Talking about Mental Illness

I'm now gainfully employed as a speaker for an organization called TAMI: Talking About Mental Illness. Jill runs this program for the Canadian Mental Health Association which brings people associated with mental illness into schools, colleges and university classes to teach students about mental illness. It's a wonderful concept to get people to understand what mental illness really is from someone who suffers.

On Friday, March 6th, I was invited to Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, to give a speech about my experience with mental illness. I'm Bipolar. I became sick at 6 years of age even though I wasn't diagnosed until I was 27. All through my childhood, all doctors said I was just a "spoiled brat looking for attention" even though I was screaming out at everyone that something was wrong with me.

I really enjoyed giving the lecture. There must have been 50 students in the class and as I looked around the room, every eye was on me. I told them about my life and discussed what it means to be mentally ill. They gave me a good ovation. The teacher (a blonde bombshell who is also extremely intelligent with a sturdy handshake) said that I was a "charismatic speaker." Wow.

I'm so happy that was the response from her and Jill gave me two thumbs up. I wasn't that nervous speaking. I did forget what I had said. I talked for maybe 15 minutes and I was exhausted. When I got home, I realized what a rush it had been and I can't wait to give more speeches. Hopefully, I'll hear from Jill soon about more possible opportunities.

I love spreading the word about mental illness. My hero is Clara Hughes who rode her bike around Canada in the pursuit of dialogue about mental illness. Thanks to her, people like me find it easier to talk about my Bipolar.

After leading an adventurous life travelling the world, I can admit that I'm basically stable at this moment and never happier in life. I love writing and am working on three books (one mystery, one adventure and the sequel to That Truthful Place ). A few wonderful opportunities are occurring to keep me happy and optimistic about my future.

Life is good!

have fun,

Thursday, 5 March 2015


Spring is just 15 days away. Just 15. I can't wait. I love this season since it means winter is over. Not a big fan of winter but, yes, we survived another winter. Okay. there is still a lot of snow on the ground and the temperature is quite cool, but it will be gone soon. It's guaranteed.

One thing you can't fight is the weather. Everyone here, when planning something, plans for all possible weather conditions. Some sites will tell you the weather on any given day but who knows if that's correct.

I'm not truly allowed to comment on the winter though it wasn't that bad. But, I hibernated and worked at home so I didn't have to get up in the dark, clean off the car every morning then drive into work. After work, you have to clean the car off, manoeuver around snow mounds and return home where you have to shovel the driveway to get the car in. I have lived that life.

Luckily, now I have an empty garage to keep my car warm and safe from the weather. I live in a townhouse complex and we have landscapers who plough our road and driveways. Great service. They cut our grass in the summer so I can go away and it doesn't look like it. Oh and I have a neighbour who is a retired nurse who loves to garden. I pay her a bottle of wine every spring and she keeps my front garden glowing with flowers.

I love the spring. I love seeing colours and not just white and black. I love seeing areas fill up with leaves and not just branches. Once the flowers come out, it is truly beautiful out there. Everything feels and smells new and fresh. It's great being able to open the windows and allowing the fresh air blow throughout the house.

Brrrr. It's still cold out. Just let the dog into the backyard. Glad I don't have to go outside to pee!

have fun,