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Also available is my new eBook, "How To Immigrate To Canada In The Family Class: The Authoritative Guide Including Qu├ębec And Super Visa Opportunities". Get it at Amazon or the other e-retailers noted above.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Germs

When you travel a lot, back and forth between countries, germs are part of the risk. This has been a particularly bad year for my love and I. In the past four visits she has made out here, one or both of us has become ill. Either she got a bug from someone on the plane, or I got one from her, or we both got one from someone at the airport...it's been crazy and maddening. I can see why people travel with those doctors masks now. I'm thinking of doing the same. I am so tired of getting sick from careless, thoughtless folks who are ill. It not only takes time away from my limited time with my love, but it's expensive (drugs to buy and work missed) too.

So listen up - if you are sick, don't travel. Give us all a break. Sharing the air with 150 other people for 4-hours and leaving your germs everywhere is just RUDE and thoughtless. You should be ashamed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


A snowy night in the Winter of 2005 (collage as seen from the Panorama web cam) Posted by Hello

I have skills! So you'll hire me, right?

One of the biggest hurdles an immigrant faces is finding employment in their new home. Even more difficult is finding it in the field in which they may have worked in the past.

Canada is known in the US for having cabbies with MBA's and PhD's. Same thing probably goes on here, but our businesses seem to be more open to accepting or ignoring (to the benefit of the job seeker) the credentials of other countries, and - face it - we have no idea of what the rest of the world says about us because our media protects us from that!

That last sentence calls for an aside...do you need credentials in the US? I have worked here for close to 20 years now. I have a BA degree from a good school. Has ANY employer EVER verified this? Have they verified ANYTHING? No - not to my knowledge. Here in the States getting a job is about 1. what you know 2. who you know 3. what's your rate? The end. There are any number of interviews that I have been on where my ENROLLMENT in an MBA program is mistaken as HAVING an MBA degree - even though I'm very specific about not having completed the program yet.

If you have a work permit, or are eligible for one (a little harder since the tech bubble burst) and can talk the talk and have connections, you have as good a chance as any in getting a job in your field. Especially if you're cheap and the employer thinks they can take advantage of you...Ahhh...America.

I honestly don't know how much of a problem I'm going to have in Canada finding work in my field, although I've read the stories that it will not be easy...Still - I'm optimistic. Now I have also read a lot of critical reporting on how Canada has a immigration policy specifically trying to attract skilled workers - tech professionals like myself, for example - and then doesn't do anything to assist their assimilation into the workforce.

I also know that steps appear to be in the process of making non-Canadian credentials (especially for Doctors and other health care workers who are in demand) acceptable - or at least not making professionals obtain and entirely new education in Canada for what they already know and have practiced for years.

So I have hope. And I have skills! So you'll hire me, right?

Monday, April 11, 2005

I love Vonage

When love first blossomed, so did my phone bill. It wasn't too bad if you used the calling cards and watched what time you were calling and made the most of each conversation, but let's face it - love knows no timetable, and there is a three hour difference between my cities. When I was yet again between homes, my cellphone bill rocketed to $400 a month! I was desperate! Then I got curious...how far had voice over IP come since I had first checked it out?

I knew it worked pretty well in chat applications, but it's not connecting to the wired that matters - it's connecting to the land-line world. That's when I found Vonage...and life changed.

Now I have local numbers in Seattle and Toronto, I pay a measly $35 USD a month for the service and I can make unlimited, anytime calls anywhere in Canada and the US. My friends and family never pay long distance to call me from the GTA, and despite a few occasional service quirks, no one can tell I'm talking to them over the Internet.

Vonage has made it easy to call anytime for any reason when my love and I are apart. I can sing her to sleep and then leave the line open while she drifts off to sleep. I don't have to count minutes and pennies.

If you are dealing with the distance issues I am, check them out at www.vonage.com - it really is a simple way to make communication with long distance loved ones so much less a burden on everyone.

And, no - I'm not making any money from this post and I don't work for them.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The great abyss

I'm tired of Seattle. I'm tired of being away from my love. She's in Toronto, and I'm here and we've both been waiting for over two years for my permanent residence application to go through. Of course, there are no promises with immigration. Except the promise that you will wait. And wait we have.

First you get all of your application materials together, which is time consuming, nerve-wracking and full of self-doubt. Gather your licenses and passports and credit card statements and phone records and pictures and videos and emails and cards and letters and ticket stubs accounting for the 100,000 miles you both have travelled keeping love alive everything you can think of that will tell someone with power over you that you have a family-class level case. Then fill out application after application and be very careful to follow the directions to the letter. Read all the guidelines and then read them again. Read case law - don't make the same mistakes others have - they are there to guide you.

Then comes the great abyss. For us it was somewhere in Buffalo, NY. A case number is assigned and then you watch the website to monitor processing times. They are only estimates.

In the meantime, flights and visits back and forth, bad food, sketchy Air Canada service, too many colds from too many strangers on too many flights, and too many questions from too many immigration officers. The suitcase is either too big or too small, as we ferry pieces of each other back and forth.

In the meantime, don't make plans - you can't do it. Save yourself the frustration. You are in limbo. We are in limbo. It's the greatest pressure on our relationship and at times it tears us at the seams - we want so much to be able to be like normal couples who can makes plans for their future and try and make them come true, but in this time of living inthe abyss, no plans can be made, because plans involve time and we don't know when that time will come.

If God wasn't there with us in this time of waiting, as we wander this dessert of immigration, I honestly don't know what we would do.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Toronto's financial district, with Younge Street to the left and Bay Street to the Right as well as the CN Tower in the upper right. A snowy night in the winter of 2005 Posted by Hello

Everyone's a suspect

TheStar.com - Passport required to enter U.S. within two years

Everyone's a suspect in America. With each passing day we become more and more simply prisoners in the Land of the Free. By 2007, US citizens will not simply be able to show their driver's license - a State form of acceptable ID to cross our own borders and enter our own country - we'll need a Federally Approved documents, soon to include biometric data. The no-man's land between borders just got a lot scarier. You are neither here nor there, you know. You have no power. You are, after all, a suspect - and you are guilty, never innocent. Don't believe that lie for a moment.

Why? Because America is afraid - deeply afraid. We're still afraid of 9/11. William Burroughs wrote of walking backwards into the future. This statement is an accurate description of this nation. We are looking back in fear, doing now what we think should have been done before then to change what can't be changed and to prevent what can't be prevented - walking backwards.

The destroyers in the world are like mice in the house - they come in through the little holes we can't see in the foundation - not through the front door. But protecting the front door makes for good political capital. Looks like we're doing something, eh? Hey - that's nice big deadbolt you have there!

But all these measures really do is create a database somewhere in Fortress America where we and all of our neighbors in North America will have our every intercontinental movement tracked. That's all - don't be fooled.

One in Four Americans has a passport - pushing this burden and expense to the other three is a nice way to raise some Federal Government revenues too. Now, how many of you are going to take that vacation to Canada now? You have to fork over another $100+ a head - oh and it might take 6-months to get the passport - so be sure and plan ahead (and that's NOW - before the forced demand...)

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) - You'll be able to thank this acrynom in the next few years for the drop in tourism between nations, as well as continuing the new tradition of straining relations with Canada and Mexico. Hi Canada - we don't trust you. Hi Mexico - unless we can exploit your labor, we're really not interested in you.

It's times like these when I long for home on Lake Ontario. Reason is in short supply here.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Losing Touch

There's a well noted phenomenon that comes with living between a couple of countries, in my case Canada and the US - it's been described as becoming illiterate in two cultures. While most of my time is still spent in Seattle, I couldn't begin to tell you what's going on in this city as far as the politics, and I have only bold outlines in my head of the big city projects and priorities. Are they still going to replace the viaduct? What's happening with the monorail project? Is that Nichol's guy still the mayor? How long has he been mayor? I don't know.

I do watch the local news in the morning, but it's FOX, so it's not really news, but infotainment. I'm a weather fool, so I typically know what's happeneing there locally, still - I don't really feel like I'm in touch.

Now every evening, my news is Canada Now on CBC, and I guess I'm more in touch with the issues that are going in Canada overall than I am in the US. I watch with a touch of disdain the Gomrey Commission spend more money on an investigation than the Sponsorship scandal that they are investigating, I wonder when the US will open the border to Alberta beef and BC softwood lumber...I wonder why the country doesn't flex it's muscules around water and oil and help the US understand it's place a little better. I don't know why Canada suffers us so much, but they do.

I'm up on a lot going on in Toronto, but there also, I know that I am missing that essential connection that comes from being settled. Like here in Seattle, I know the big picture, but the details are a little fuzzy.

I wonder if Seattle will ever feel like home again once I completely relocate to Canada, and if Toronto will ever feel completely like home, ever. I think once you become a wanderer in your heart, and I've been one for many years now, that there's no place like home, and no place to call home - home like you knew with certainty when you are a child. If I get really internal about it, I'm sure it started way back when - We didn't move a lot, but we moved anough. I remember at least three homes between birth and age 11, and home was always somewhere else. As an adult, I can count nine different places I've called home in Seattle. I loved them all - I cried when I left most of them behind, because it so true - you never can go home again. In this life, we live and we leave. I've lived and left more than many I guess. I envy my brother - he's much more settled than I will ever be. I guess it's just not the path God had in mind for me. It's a good thing I embrace adventure and can find in each place he sets me down, something to call home.

Maybe that's just become magnified over the years as now it seems home will be an entirely other country. Canada is not the US - not by a long shot - and it gets more and more foreign in comparrison to the US in the essential elements of how the culture thinks, acts and what it values, each and every day.

I wonder how much of America I will leave behind when it's time to leave again, hop on that 319 and not consider when I will see this skyline, those Olympic Mountains again?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

I love Toronto

I love Toronto. It is my dream City. What do I love about it? There's so much to choose from, but mainly I think it's that it is truly a city of the world, filled with people from all over the world that now call this "village" their home. There's a lot said about the multicultural nature of Canada, but you have to live in it to really appreciate it. Sometimes statistics help me understand it better.

Here's an example: the number of Chinese-Canadians living in Toronto almost equals the entire population of Seattle! And that's just one of the ethnic groups that make up the city. You'll see this diversity everywhere you go in the City, not just the enclaves of Chinatown and Korea Town or the Italian Danforth. And to see all these people even trying to get along - let alone succeeding a lot of the time, is refreshing to someone from a still relatively very white piece of America.

I love Toronto because I love density, and it's a dense city, even though with the amalgamation of many outlying bergs into the Mega-City means that is is dispersed as well. But in the heart of the City, and that's where I live, it is packed and populated and busy and wonderful to my ears and eyes and heart.

Spend a morning at the Timothy's or the Second Cup off of Bay and College (don't you dare go to Starbucks!) and you'll see so much of the world go by. Younge Street hasn't woken up yet, but thousands of students and professionals cross paths at this intersection in the cool of the morning - some heading east to the campus of the University of Toronto, some heading south to the mass of high rises in the heart of the financial district, and in one single spot, with your cup of coffee, you are everywhere.

I'll share more with you about my City. If you want to see a little for yourself, check out the live webcam atop the restaurant, Panorama at www.toronto.com (follow the links to the live webcam). It's set right off of Bay, north of where I live and you can zoom over to Younge Street yourself if you have a notion.