A Money Coach in Canada

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“How,” I wondered, “is it possible that this lovely, sophisticated, smart summer student actually goes .. goes .. Fishing?”   An expression of horror registered on my face, and said student asked about it.

“How can you kill a fish?”  I stammered.   She burst out laughing and replied, “It’s a fish, Nancy!  A fish!”.

“Yes,”  I replied, “but it was a live fish and when you’re done with it, it will be a dead fish.”

Colleagues chimed in with the obvious about What Did I Think I Was Eating When I Went Grocery Shopping, yada yada yada.

They had irrefutable points, but I guess in the back of my mind I’ve always subconsciously prided myself on being several steps removed from the ugliness of slaughtering the food I eat.

Until last Wednesday.

Last Wednesday, I saw the documentary, Food Inc. And like Martha Stewart, I think anyone who eats needs to see it!

While it’s not gruesome, it is a very stark account of the corporatization of food.

1. For one thing, we’re not getting real food much anymore, folks.  It looks like food, tastes like food and maybe smells like food, but really, it’s bordering on food substitute.  Think of it:  When food becomes a commodity, the corporate discussion centers around making the most food, the most cheaply, for the most profit.   I’m guessing there’s not a lot of, “but, by altering food this way, what health impacts does it have on people?”

2. And if you don’t think there are health impacts from the food in the supermarkets, do a quick google search on diabetes 2.

3. Last, although the film avoided gratuitous violence, anyone with half a heart for animals will be disgusted by the conditions of the life and slaughter of livestock in the corporate supply chain.   In my not humble opinion, we dehumanize ourselves by numbing ourselves to how livestock is treated.

Up here in Yellowknife, I have an opportunity to make meat choices that are better for me, and for the animals.

I’ve been converted.   I think it would be healthy for me to learn to fish – to become intimate with the entire process of life, death, and consumption.   The student has agreed to take me with her, and is prepared that I will probably cry at some point in the process.  (I said, healthy, not easy)

I simply cannot bear the thought of hunting, but there are a lot of people who hunt here, and I plan to acquire the ability to eat game – cariboo, moose, bison.

After seeing how beef and pigs and chicken are treated, it is clear to me that hunting and fishing are so much more civilized and humane.   The fish has had a good fish life – swimming in the good clean lakes up here, eating whatever fish eat.  The bison have had a good bison life – eating grass, drinking fresh water, roaming freely.  No antibiotics.  No force-feeding of corn.  No horror-show cramping into tiny spaces.   And with any luck, a quick, merciful death.

Wish me luck, readers.  I want to do this;  I know it’s the right thing;  but it’s hard to confront the brutal reality that I kill another living thing in order to sustain my own life.


After seven years of home ownership, I feel rather weird renting.  I’m renting an apartment with good “bones” from my mom, so at least it’s in the family, but still, I face a dilemma:

To really make feel like my kinda home, I would:

  • put in laminate flooring
  • replace the kitchen lights with something more contemporary
  • put in new cupboards in the kitchen

But it’s not my home.   Everything is in good condition, just not my style.

Any past or current renters reading this?  If so, I’m curious:  how much have you invested in a home you were renting, to make it feel wonderful for you?

Air Canada, Bell Mobility and Starbucks. I have good things to say about all of them.

Air Canada Embraer 190 @YUL

Air Canada – a steal deal

If you love to travel and aren’t aware of Air Canada’s Flight Pass options, they’re quite a deal. For example, I bought four one-way passes for $600. The terms of the set I bought are that I need to fly on Tuesdays or Saturdays within Western Canada only, and use them up by late October. Trust me when I say that 2 trips to Vancouver from Yellowknife make this a jaw-dropping deal.

Here are some other options:

  • 6 one-ways between western Canada and Hong Kong/Bejeing/Shanghai for $3000
  • 4 one-ways between eastern Canada and NYC on weekends for $640 (easterners – is that a good deal?  not so sure on that one)
  • 6 one ways between western Canada and Europe (Paris/Rome/Madrid/Geneva/London/Frankfurt/Dublin) $3600

My experience so far as been flawless.  I simply reactivated my aeroplan, paid for the passes, booked my specific tickets and here I am in Vancouver.  Hat tip, Air Canada.

Bell Canada – 3 great customer experiences

You know who else has surprised me?  Bell has surprised me.  My initial sign-up was flawless, but then on three occasions, I was convinced I was going to experience Bell Hell.    And didn’t.    Here are three things that went right:

  • My eyes popped out of my head when I received my first bill.  I approached their website, tense, and discovered they have a page specifically for first-time-bill recipients which clearly explained my bill and it all made sense.
  • I thought my phone was stolen.  I called and was irritated that their customer service was closed, but they gave the option to talk to tech support, and the agent was able immediately to disable my phone.  It took a few attempts for him to give a straight forward answer to my question (whether I’d be liable for calls incurred that day. ultimate answer: Yes) but other than that, I got swift and appropriate help.   An hour later when (shamefacedly) I called back having found my phone, the agent sounded honestly happy for me, and got me reactivated just.like.that.
  • While in Vancouver, I’ll want to make local calls.   I called for clarification about billing, got a fast answer, and the agent offered me a one-month option that works for me.

Yay, Bell!

Starbucks –  you don’t know what you’ve got, til it’s gone.

When I lived in Vancouver, I avoided Corporate Starbucks at all costs.  I’ve changed.  I wish there were a starbucks in Yellowknife.  I really do.  There are two cafes in Yellowknife and I’m grateful for them, but Starbucks just has a way of setting the pace and the standard.  The quality of the coffee, the orderliness and cleanliness, and the wireless – this, I miss.

Sometimes, Corporations do it right, and when they do, I think it’s worth noting (although that fact alone is a bit depressing).  So thanks, Air Canada, Bell and Starbucks for surprising me with really good experiences.

Apparently the Edmonton Airport has been charging us northerners for their Airport Improvement Fee.   When we purchase airline tickets that route us through Edmonton (as the vast majority do), our tickets are automatically billed $15 if “it appears” that we are making Edmonton our final destination.  The only way to get the fifteen bucks back is to apply for a refund from the Edmonton Airport Authority.

As Awayne commented on the cbc blog:

Knowingly charging money for a service under these circumstances is Fraud as defined under the Criminal Code. The fee is a good idea but it is not intended to rip off people using the Edmonton International as a connecting destination. This should be an easy administrative fix if they really wanted to do so. This is the type of practice that will see people from the north start to use other airports when they can.

If any Vancouverites are reading this, does #YVR still charge an Airport Improvement Fee? I remember when it was introduced (at least a decade ago?) – it was presented as a temporary charge to alleviate the cost of admittedly massive renovations.

I’m beginning to be irritated by this sly tax which is erroneously imposed in one case, and extends well beyond its original purpose in another (I’m happy to be proven wrong on the latter). Grrrrr!

On a slightly different note, a scammer at the Vancouver Airport has been exposed on flickr. If you go through #yzf, don’t give any money to this man!

90831475_12d2e94978 Photo Credit:  wpwend42 Creative Commons.

Mostly when I was a kid, I was doing what kids do – piano lessons, school, learning to skate, reading, discovering boys, makeup and Farah Fawcett.

But in the background there were certain events that shaped my subconscious sense of the world:

  • A continuous, vague terror that the world would be blown up by nukes
  • Fear of the USSR and fear of China
  • Mulroney as PM; Reagan as president
  • Crazy inflation (oh yes, I remember! chocolate bars jumped from ¢10 to ¢25 in a year!)
  • Advent of McDonalds and McJobs
  • Discovering their were no decent jobs for my cohort when we graduated
  • Graduating with depressing student debt loads
  • AIDS
  • Growing up when adults were hippies and seeing them morph to yuppies
  • Women and the glass ceiling;   women backing off from feminism
  • St. Elmo’s Fire, Thirty-Something, LA Law
  • The movie Wall Street and its legendary Greed is Good speech

In short, it seemed like there was always a promise … a golden promise …that was just out of reach.   Just ahead of us were people with great jobs, advancing their careers and building their stock portfolios.

For me?   I worked like a madwoman – competent, educated, dedicated –  and yet always felt one step behind, somehow, until I started my own business as a money coach.

I took this personally, until I found out that it was sheer demographics:  The tail-end boomers got the remaining good jobs, the market maxed out, and my peers and I were left stranded.   Sucks to be Gen X!

But there’s good news coming.  The world will be our oyster within five years.   Or it would be, if those baby boomers would hurry up and retire, already.  And the probability of that just took a nose-dive, since retirement portfolios are no longer so attractive.

But I’m not bitter.  Yet.

I do recognize myself, shockingly so, in this National Post summary of Gen X, by Ray Williams.  He writes of Gen X:

They question authority, seek bigger meaning in life and work, are technologically savvy, live in the present, are skeptical, see career as a key to happiness, are open to multi-careers, consider challenge and variety as being more important than job security and constantly aim to achieve work-life balance….the Generation X manager is typically mature beyond their years, very adaptable and flexible, and team oriented. They have high expectations of employees and don’t buy into power structures. Generation X managers need positive validation for their work or they will not hesitate to quit their jobs. They hate being micro-managed and want independence in their work, which may explain why so many of this generation have turned to entrepreneurship.

That’s a characterization I can live with.   And with any luck, my peers and I will indeed discover our unique strengths as more senior management roles finally, finally open up to us.   Just don’t expect me to cheer lead any strategies to retain our aging workforce, ok?

Readers, any of you Gen Xers?  Does this resonate for you?

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