Posts Tagged ‘Calgary Sun’


There needs to be more of thinking outside of ourselves in our world, and understanding how decisions we make have a ripple that can adversely effect another. Yes, as you read this know that I have and am a life long environmentalist and progressive. Yet we also need to move forward in healing and reconciling with creation by not picking and choosing who can live. Oh and to borrow a colloquialism from Twitterverse, don’t @ me. I am well aware of the many options for other straws, but there is a percentage those are not safe or usable for so shut it.

From Calgary Sun, Letters to the Editor July 7, 2018:

PEOPLE NEED STRAWS
Re: Plastic Straw Ban. A few pictures of turtles and our world wants to ban plastic straws. Something that makes up 1/10 of 1% of plastics in our world. Not looking a the other 99.9% of plastics that may inconvenience those screaming (frappe cups; Keurig one serves, etc.). It has become a “ban challenge” coming out of B.C. What is left out of the discussion is that for some persons with disabilities, the only way they can ingest liquids is through the pliable plastic straws. That is right, we are running a ban that essentially is telling a segment of the population you do not deserve to drink or belong. When this information, and information on the safety concerns (from choking, to burns, to breaking of teeth, etc.) have been brought forward to city councillors, the response is when we debate this it is something to consider. Please let that sink in for where we are in Calgary’s history: something to consider. We will consider at our political level if it is OK if some cannot provide sustenance to themselves or not? Before bandwagoning, take time to explore outside of your own bubble of self absorption and ask, if I was the one in need of something to live others wanted to ban, what would I want societies response to be? I believe in a Calgary where all are welcome, allowed to belong, thrive and live. The plastic straw ban, asks whether or not people with disabilities are allowed.
TY RAGAN
(Far bigger issues locally and in the world than plastic straws.)


I can already here the outcry going that is rather harsh words for the hard done by corporation that is Direct Energy, but it has been a long road to attempt to get back from them, $153 which they are refusing to return. Which may not seem like a huge amount but for a family with a special needs child and another child, that is a good chunk of our grocery budget.

This story begins on July 4 when bill payments were put forward online. To save money on bank fees I avoid the auto pays, and it also allows for when utilities fluctuate to not have to get behind on a bill.

During this round of bill payment I could swear like every month I clicked Just Energy as with the last 3 years of payments, but I do not know if it was my error or the website payment but this money went to Direct Energy Regulated Services instead (to a closed account I might add).

This error was discovered when the new Just Energy bill came to my inbox mid month and it was double what it should be, and a bit of checking revealed the error. We are now at the beginning of August and Direct Energy is incommunicado and not willing to refund the money.

Here is what is known for truth:

  1. Direct Energy did not respond to any online contact attempts to correct the error.
  2. Friday night July 29 I spoke to 4 different operators, the first 3 kept redirecting me away from “This Direct Energy to this Direct Energy Regulated Services Number” which brought me back to the same loop.
  3. 4th operator stated that any payment sent to a closed account was impossible as it would bounce right back.
  4. Pointed out this had not happened, and there has been no account for 3 years with Direct Energy (whichever one). So I once again gave closed account number, my address, postal code, city, and name. They stated I was not the account holder so they could not disclose anything to me or it would be a breach of privacy.
  5. Stated to operator that account holder was my father, we share same last name. Operator still would not budge.
  6. My father called back the following day, Direct Energy stated if there was money received in error a cheque would be processed within 30 days and sent out, but would not verify when or if this would happen. This is now to the account holder on record.
  7. Why account holder of a closed account on record does not matter in this case: (a) Direct Energy had been accepting payments from the non-account holder for years up until 3 years ago, so this would already show a breach of privacy on their part as I was getting the bills to my e-mail. (b) Just Energy took over the account 3 years ago with my signature authorizing it.  This shows Direct Energy accepted me as the account holder and as such should have simply EFT’ed the money back to my account.
  8. The Hail Mary if you will, was contacting my actual bank. The online secure contact with the details proved fruitless for their secure online answer was call their 24/7 customer line to open an investigation.
  9. Called the 24/7 line last night, and the operator was as helpful as they could be. An investigation was opened and money was credited back to my account with the caveat it would remain ONLY if DIRECT ENERGY refunded the money to the bank, otherwise they would mail me a letter out and remove the money.
  10. So there is $153 in my account sitting there that I could use for groceries, but could not take the hit of money being pulled out if Direct Energy is like Direct Energy.

So that is the story awaiting resolution, that needs to be shared so others can understand the convoluted system that exists with Alberta’s privatized/de-regulated power sector. The crime that has been perpetuated upon us, and that truly there is no mechanism in place to reclaim any monies from mega-corps.

Our family waits, to see if the money turns up, for to keep the power on I had to pay out double to Just Energy end of July which skewered quite badly our family budget, it harkens back to the Klein Days of Alberta of “Feed the Kids or pay the power”.

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From the Beginning...writings up to Autumn 1996

From the Beginning…writings up to Autumn 1996

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As some of you may have been reading in the main stream media ala Calgary Sun and Metro that Harm Reduction has hit the main stream thoughts of the populace through the AHS “scandal” over Safeworks handing out crack pipes to addicts, and then the knee jerk response of cancelling the program. Why? Bad sound byte optics.

Yet what was the purpose? Simple, the health care providers could build relationships of trust at distribution, aid in some education, let the user know they are more than their addiction (they are still a human being) and that as a society we want to keep them disease free (for the economists out there and fiscal conservatives: LOWER HEALTH CARE COSTS) and those they share life with. So protecting the individual and community until a healthier choice is ready.

What does this mean? Simple, Harm Reduction is preventative health care. But does it only have to be out of the back of a van for the “addicts”. I SAY NO.

Let’s expand it, how would the landscape of Alberta change that is currently be ravaged by Syphillis, Chlymedia, Hep C, Gonorrhea and the litany goes on, if we actually took these preventative tools mainstream.

What if?:

-Condoms and aides were provided to every night club, pharmacy and hotel–the main stream public and those at risk alike.

– all forms of contraceptive with medical clinicians were made available for FREE through the local pharmacy, schools and post-secondary institutes.

– Free clean needles/syringes were made available through clinics and pharmacies for those who require them (for medical ala insulin and cancer patients, and those struggling with addiction).

– crack pipes and other needed drug paraphanelia for healthy usage was available for free through pharmacies and hospitals…why? Simple addicts aren’t the homeless, they aren’t addicts. They are our brothers and sisters in humanity and found throughout the province in all socio-economic classes.

So what if harm reduction was not a stigmatized word choice, but a choice of Alberta Health Services to provide preventative care to the people of Alberta much like discounts through community passed recreation activities?

What if Albertans realized that health care was not for the healthy? But was there to aid in preventing illness and aiding those in the midst of illness.

What if our province decided a human life was worth more than a profit?


For me, Harm Reduction is a spiritual response to those in most desperate need. What you may say? But the Calgary Sun today spoke of it encouraging usage and yada yada yada.

NO.

It is simply ensuring someone stays healthy through this journey of the dark night of the soul, so that they are not further destroyed when hope is reignited.  It is simply about seeing a human being, created in a loving God‘s image…life breathed, called blessed, beloved, and very good.

So as we hear in Calgary about Safeworks, and the Alberta Health Services 3 years working distributing needles, condoms and crack pipes, let’s remember–Safeworks has been quite active in Calgary for quite sometime. I quite loved seeing the van pull up to the shelters and knowing that what was needed to keep someone safe and hopefully disease free regardless of their choice that day would be available.

I am simply called to aid and serve, but I do pray for a community that will be able to see all members of the community as that, members of our community, our neighbour, our brothers and sisters…and will provide the aid they need just like we do for anyone struggling through a disease or a rough spot.

For more on Harm Reduction and Faith I direct you to this youtube video: http://youtu.be/c9FyWaGD4OA

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The year away, or rather my continuum of hiding from myself. I survived almost three months as a bag boy, then transferred to becoming a service clerk in the meat department and started learning about being a butcher.  I was also continuing to writer for the Calgary Sun as a teen columnist, it was this time that produced two of my most well received pieces: one a feature on year round schooling, and the other a short piece on the sanctity of marriage-that if two people love one another they should be allowed to marry regardless of their genitalia and sexual orientation.  This was the last piece I wrote for the Calgary Sun in 1996, as I received many death threats.

     I must admit that hindsight is 20/20 and I see the humour, irony and pain in that loaded statement. The old phraseology was that I met my “soulmate” Boxing Day on a stalled out c-train, ah what romantic schmuck.  Essentially my horny and hurting 18-year-old self met another individual hiding from herself, someone who had endured horrific abuses, was an addict in pre-contemplation on quitting, possibly HIV positive, former sex trade worker, junior high school drop out, and all this at the tender age of 17 she was.

     But we appeared to have a “connection”.  Suffice it to say, not that popular with the family, yet being the insufferable idiot a male of 18 can be, chose her over family, caused more pain, spun more lies, and what did I learn through this life lesson of the first person I became engaged to?

     Misery loves company, and the one hurting the most will drag you down to their level.  Yes she offered me drugs, and no I did not take them, I would distance myself in those moments when she would use, and yet always go back.  When she would trick herself out for cocaine I would forgive.

     It was during this time I was accepted through a government-training program I was accepted into SAIT for an electronics ticket.  Also even though I maintained living with the parents, I was spending more and more time with her and her brother in the basement suite the government was renting them.  Which led to more of a spiral, with mind games, emotional abuses, sucking into my mind creating weird unclarities, the lines between reality and dream blurred severely.

     Three months into my course of study, we finally broke it off, as I finally came to lucidness and challenged her on sobriety, to which she chose her drug of choice and the stroll over me (talk about sending me into a spiral).  Not only that, but on my 19th birthday she also informed me that she had aborted our child.  A kick in the gonads, who knew if it was true or not because upon reflection I do not believe there was much reality at this point in my life, emotionally I was numb.

     There was a downward spiral through my last few months at SAIT where I began to drink a bit heavier, and my need not to be single increased. Let I graduated second in my class, and went to work at an electronics factory, which as my parents informed me would bore the hell out of me, and it did so I began to think about college, and what I wanted to do.

     Another unique thing was my depressive state got quite bad, yet I went to church. Yes you read that right.  The man who had managed through mail order to become a “Druid Priest” and spent time practicing Buddhism to be able to step inside a church.  I went that morning from completely depressed and being the closest to actually acting on my suicidal impulse, to standing in Foothills United, next to my Nanny (whom at my Granddad’s funeral I told her I would take care of her); and singing `Amazing Grace’ I heard a voice that sounded gravelly, and very much like my Granddad stating, “it’ll be alright, Ty”. My mind started to clear a bit.

     The next week I started teaching the Junior High Sunday School Class, with a very ancient King James Bible, holding it up I looked at the teens and simply said, “who knows how to use this thing?”

     Linda Hunter (now at Wildrose United) and her husband Gord (ministering at Forest Lawn United), were the pastoral couple that mentored me in the faith, and how open one’s relationship could actually be with God.  They helped me actually take my grief and pain to the Holy, and begin the next phase of my healing.

     I was laid off and began my favourite part-time dream job ever, working in a bookstore (please note the “I am a geek” flag waving proudly). But was I getting any healthier?


In the Christian world, this is called testimony, in the publishing world it is called memoir.  Some would say unauthorized if you listen to the gossip that swirls around my name, some would say authorized because I have never denied the rumours of me being a saint or an asshole, I just am me.

     And for the record, as it seems time there was one sort of accurate available: I was not born a Minister—Protestant, Universalist or otherwise—I was born Tyler Richard Ragan, baptized in the second month of life Anglican (St. George’s parish) in a Catholic School gymnasium (love the shot of the b-ball hoop behind the priest when I am presented).

     For good measure I attended the local Alliance church pre-school, not cause my family are some born again yahoos, but because the local community one had many weird things circulating (I stood beside my neighbour, the sheik kid singing Jesus loves me).  To round out my theological education as a child I attended the ecumenical Vacation Bible School in our area, signed up through the (Centennial) Presbyterian Church, until my eleventh year on this planet.

     The essence of my childhood was that I was taught there is a God, Jesus is his son, God loves you, stand up for what you believe in, help the poor, and yes love does solve most problems (oh and it’s all the same bloody God so why kill over it).

     I was bullied in elementary school, and sadly, it led me to join a bullying group on occasion (not my finer moments as a living douche bag).  From a young age I suffered chronic bronchitis’, ear infections, and convulsions. The convulsions led to me being placed on Phenobarbitrol, around age 9 I came off that, with scar tissue remnants on the brain (more on that later).

     Back to my journey with the institution that is Christendom, there was nothing after 11 years old for me in the summers in regards to VBS, and as such I began to journey through other religions to discover my community.

     It was also while entering Junior High School that my Grandpa died, he was a good man, and a bad man, but more on him later in the journey about self-revelations.  His death also created a rift in my family over remembered and non-remembered memories.  My Granddad (best friend read) was also diagnosed with Emphysema during this time and I became one of the close relatives that would spend time with him and help him as he journeyed down the pathway home.

     I will digress here a little bit, as my Granddad was a war hero too me, he served in World War II in the Royal Canadian Signal Corps, he was a machinist, and a hobby carpenter.

     Junior High is also the time to put to rest the rumour that started that I lost my virginity when I was 12 years old…sadly this is false, but man in high school was it one rumour I didn’t mind circulating (LOL). There was also a rumour starting that I commenced drinking while in Junior High School, I may have sampled some alcohol, but I was not a drinker.

     In fact, in Junior High, like much of High School I was a honour roll student, Trekkie, role playing game, and comic book geek, that had few close friends, some were female, who saw me as “that good guy” and I worked hard against that mold, and unfortunately hurt many decent people.  But that my dear reader is why adolescents is a bitch.

     For the first two phases of public school I got into a few fights, and won more than I lost, which is pretty good for a chunky geek J in my opinion.

     But part of what the experience of the Gaould (has anyone else noted that the Gaould/Tokra give a yin-yang, anima-animus dichotomy to SG-1?) for me is the realization of being authentic with my past, so maybe this is part of the self-flagellating Roman Catholic in me, and this is part confessional.

     My life really began to turn around in high school as I finally managed to break away from the “friends” from elementary/junior high school as they all went to James Fowler and I headed to Lester B. Pearson High School.  Why was this a good break? Simple, the Properties Communities of North East Calgary were designed to be a city within a city that functioned like a small town, so it was great to go to a school more geared towards academics.  It was there that in Grade 10 phys.ed (a course I used to despise) I discovered the weight room. My 15th year was a year of physical transformation as I shed over 100lbs. Slimmed down, chopped off my already thinning thin hair, started getting my ears pierced, and yes, some girl’s started to notice me as more than just “the friend”.

     I have deeply studied and practiced most of the world’s religions, I have had the great fun of having been apart of the Future Entrepreneurs of Canada, Model Parliaments, Debate Clubs, Junior Achieve of Southern Alberta (even going to the WESJA Conference), taking the Dale Carnegie Course, Alberta Theatre Projects Writerific program, Science Olympics, Writer’s Guilds and working for the Calgary Sun as a writer all while in high school. 

     My confidence went up, yet I was still feeling shaky, anxious, and afraid that I did not fit in.  I had multiple girlfriends and was actually afraid of being lonely, mostly because I struggled with my sexuality, and did not want to have to deal with homophobia.  I was not gay, but neither was I straight, essentially I did not and do not hold to those labels, I believe there is one person out there for each of us that God has made that completes us and it is that journey for the person that brings two pieces of one soul together in God.

     In my grade 11 year, my Granddad took a turn for the worst and that summer he would pass away. I would be a paul bearer at his funeral, and my anxiety and low self-worth would spiral into depression where I would contemplate suicide throughout my grade 12 year.

     Did I attempt? That is a good question. The answer is…

No.

  I did however manage to do things that isolated me socially and created a false me that pushed people away.  I played up the “tough guy” persona, I was a prick to girls I authentically liked and wanted to date, playing around with their emotions and then tossing them aside, and a small part of me cared, but then I would go back to my “contemplative centre” and realize in the grand scheme of things it did not matter.

     Behaviours I know that I myself am ashamed of, and for the life of me cannot remember all those I hurt, but to those out there that I did, I deeply apologize.  I lied quite a bit, especially around sexual conquests and alcohol use (in spite of my spiralling depression, I never actually drank in high school).  Essentially after school I would do my extra-curricular, work my part time job at Chuck E. Cheese (do what I could to keep my co-workers at a distance); and yup I lied about being a Don Juan (think Charlie Harper with less integrity if you can); and most people saw me as a tough guy they did not want to mess with.

     But it was January of my grade 12 year when it unravelled through a hatchet job with a dull razor on my scalp that led to an opening up about my depression to my parents, and helped me get on a more even keel for the rest of the year and make it through as someone who was an honour roll student, but got out of high school with second class honours.

     My graduation led to a job as a grocery packer at the local Calgary Co-op as I decided I needed a year off to find myself, and what a joke that was.