Monday, February 10, 2020

Mistrust

I'm probably not alone in being glued to the developing news surround the coronavirus.

How can I avoid it, when I know people from a number of affected Asian countries who have been faced with the realization that their leaders have again chosen profit over the well being of its citizens.  

I'm so angry for them.  The levels of stress from the unknown but knowing you aren't likely to get the support you need must be unbelievably overwhelming. 

We can exercise our freedom and avoid visiting for the time being if we wish.  But being stuck in countries where substandard and or lack of testing is quietly going on, with no choice, accountability or control reminds me again and again, how very fortunate those of us are here.  

And that world chart showing reported cases, lumping all countries as if they are all acting with the highest standards... BS!   

How can you compare the openess of reporting and extent of contact tracing that a country like Singapore is doing with the likes Indonesia and Cambodia?  And don't get me started on that Cambodian leader.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Settling

I've turned that corner where I don't feel pulled to zoom around the world so often.  There aren't too many places that I'm "dying" to see anymore.  The urgency isn't like it was.  Anticipated that day would come someday and it has.  Am not even that excited when I get upgraded -- You know something is wrong when that is happening!

Very content to be at home with lots to delve into -- New recipes, making it half way through a university level Spanish course, getting into cycling after replacing my 15 yr old bicycle with what D would classify as a "real" bike.

Actually two real bikes as I decided to get into fat biking this winter.  Warning -- it is actually much harder than it looks!  I've always been a bit of a hazard on a bicycle so this is a big big deal for me.  But I do have to say it has been noticable easier with the better bikes.  Similar to when I got new skiis.  Technology does make a difference.

Trying to be patient while waiting for online purchase parcels to arrive.  I seem to be always late to adopt things, so ordering from places like Amazon is new to me...And of course I end up ordering near black Friday and my stuff is likely caught with what must be tremendous volume of sales.

Only have 4 more working days to round out the year, out of a total of 76.  No complaints there.  Feeling much better this year versus last summer.  Next year will be the first where I will no longer be contributing to my registered savings.  Just my non tax and non registered account.

Health wise, I've done such a smashing job with reducing red meat consumption over the last year, that my iron levels have plummeted.  So I've had to make some dietary adjustments and start taking iron supplements for hopefully just a short time to get it back up.  I'm so sick and tired to taking pills of any sort.

I actually got stopped at customs upon arrival in Tokyo where the gentleman went straight for my bottles of vitamins.  It was not the easiest trying to explain to someone who didn't really speak much English about Omega 3, CoQ10, Vit D, Multi-Vitamins, etc.

It was on a longish 12 night stay where I got lazy and decided to just throw the bottles in, rather than just take the numbers I needed.  Could have been a coincidence but I've been back to Japan twice since and had no issues when taking what I needed.

Anyway, am currently on a 3 month trial of an even lower statin dose (5 mg vs alternating 5 and 10 mg) to see if I can manage to keep the test numbers in a good place (equal or less than 2.5 mmol/L LDL as I'm considered high risk) as I continue to fine tune my eating.  Am a good 85% plus meat free these days.

Also super grateful for my Naturopath who caught this dropping iron trend as well as sharing with me what she sees clinically with people whose cholesterol levels become too low (too close to 2 mmol/L LDL, not good) -- Where I was starting to sit at, even though my dosage is already considered to be low.  The current trial is a direct outcome of her clinical wisdom.

We are supposed to spending the holidays in France this year.  But the turmoil that has gripped many parts of the world may have the final say to those plans.  We do have a plan B and C.  I read a comment somewhere related to the current Paris strikes that people often say they wish to seek out a real "local experience" when they travel; well, here it is folks.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Firsts

I finally got talked into giving Uber a try for airport transport in Brazil.

After spending a lot of time trying to find the meeting spot at Rio airport (got conflicting info on the app and forums), going up and down between the arrivals and departure levels and asking people who didn't speak English, I finally figured it out.

Gave myself the length of the free hour of wifi to sort it out and had it not been successful, I would have taken the official prepaid taxi.  Did have an interaction with a couple of guys who tried to up sell me on a better level of Uber, not paid through the app, to save me from walking to the meeting place.

It was quite the impressive organized system, with wifi available all the way to the waiting area so you can communicate with your driver.  They even had someone announce vehicle arrivals and names of passengers.

The app didn't update as well while I waited for my ride back to the airport.  Plus my driver couldn't find a place to park right in front of my hotel so he was waiting for me in front of another garage... all texted to me via the app in Portuguese...luckily he came out of the car and found me.

Everything worked well with the credit card payments through the app.  I was very apprehensive about loading my card number there after all my fraud stuff but decided to get back on the horse.

Rio was as beautiful as ever.








Below is the in flight safety video from Air France.  
Still one of my favourites.  It's So French!



Saturday, October 5, 2019

Summer

When I got sick after getting accidentally splashed with river water in Phnom Penh, I didn't anticipate it would end up being the first of several illness events that would eventually lead to cancellation of a few trips and taking 10 weeks off of travelling.

Boy, did I ever need that time.  Even when mid Aug arrived, when I thought I ought to have fully recovered; I still felt like I wasn't ready to pack up and go yet.  It was a return to Guatemala, for more Spanish lessons.  I went, but decided to forgo the lesson part and used the time to slowly wander around Antigua instead.

Even today, I don't feel like I've built back up to where I was yet.  It's coming along slowly but I have acquired some poor eating habits that I need to knock down for me to get the rest of the way there.  Something to do with discovering new Mennonite bakeries...

On a more encouraging note, my lipid levels have been testing great.  My lipid genetics Dr is very pleased.  He told me that he would be quite happy if they stayed the same for the rest of my life.  And that he wishes for me to be far above average for my career, finances, life,  but with respect to long term cardiovascular risk, to be average.

I have no complaints about the casual state of my work week.  Actually I love it and have no plans to make it busier.  D is still in disbelief that his workplace is so balanced and want to ride it out for another 4 years.  He really enjoys the social aspect and it is easy money, he says.

Our ideas of permanently moving out west are fading for now.  We're not sure if they will come back into focus primarily due to lack of similar options for overall conveniences versus where we are.  The geography hasn't outweighed that at this point.  And we seem to be less willing to give up here when we can still get a piece of the action a few times a year.

This was also the first summer without our cottage.  We both get glimpses of moments where we miss the idea of it but miss it really-- No.  We were done with that phase of our lives after 14 years.  And are grateful to have gotten to live out that dream for a while.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Costs

I spent more time and effort than I'd care to repeat, during the months of May and early June, on the phone with various agents in the fraud department of my credit company.  As I so infrequently call anyone anymore, it was way more than my year's share of calls over that 6 week period.

The issue?  Credit card fraud.  The first incident, 4 days after coming home from Kuala Lumpur, someone tried 10 times unsuccessfully, to take $300 from my Visa.  It was a Malaysian company that bounced the charges to San Francisco.

I did get a notification email about the card going on lock down and I impatiently waited 10 working days to get the replacement.  I cannot believe in this day and age, that it seriously takes that long...

So I get the new card and subsequently go and update my upcoming hotel reservations (Booking.com; of which one of them was for Kuala Lumpur again) using my new card number and within 6 hours, 2 fraudulent attempts from Malaysia... I got a couple notification email of the transactions, called, and the card is blocked again and a replacement ordered and I am seriously furious.

I use a really good travel Visa which includes a very comprehensive travel insurance policy as one of its benefits.  It also stipulates that I have to use it for at least 75% of my travel costs of each trip in order to be able to put in a claim for non medical losses.

Plus there are a whole list of items that come out at different times automatically each month as it was our main card too.  So having to change it again was a real inconvenience.  Pro tip -- Ask the credit card company to rush the card to your branch.  It worked like a charm and arrived in 2 days.  No one had offered that as an option before...

I did look at buying a separate yearly travel insurance policy from Amex, Blue Cross etc.  but my plan under the Visa is superior.

When it happened the 2nd time it forced us to look at separating our travel expenses from our day to day spend.  So we permanently moved the monthly auto debits to a different card to mitigate any future work associated with travel fraud.

With this particular card, we get cash back and it has since proved to be much better value than the points earned on the travel card.  Something we wouldn't have discovered otherwise.

My biggest risk no doubt come from my travels.  Using credit cards in places and countries where their security levels aren't as robust as what we have in Canada.  And I buy all my flights online as well as book accommodations. 

As I am not able to pay cash for everything, what can I do other than to limit my travels to "safer, more developed locales" to decrease risk... Not something I'm willing to consider.  

Monday, July 1, 2019

Places 10

It's a wonderful thing to know, that no matter where I may choose to visit,
that I am able to return home, thanks to the sacrifices of those 
before me; back to a country where I am free
to express myself and have the extraordinary 
privilege of creating a fulfilling life.

Happy Canada Day!





























































Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Places 9


















I love how diverse the population is in Sao Paulo.
It's a gritty city, felt poorer than I was expecting.

And you can definitely feel when you've wandered 
into an area that maybe you shouldn't have.

Very easy to use metro system, surprising well lit tunnels
compared to many stations in Paris.

And of course the food was great.  Got my acai fix.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Places 8











Phnom Penh was never my favorite city and will never be, 
but I wanted to see what has happened since I was there 5 years ago.
Deeply saddened to say that many aspects have gone downhill.

Felt so helpless and down in the face of so much struggle
despite suddenly being surrounded by many familiar 
brand names, the contrast making it much worse.