Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Question: What's WORSE than cancer?

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have TWO books I *want* to write:

Book 1- The Worst Thing About Cancer Is Other People (TWTACIOP)

Book 2- Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight (FDSTSUE)

I'm NOT in writing mode these days.  For now, it's just ideas spinning in my head.  But the ideas are taking shape and starting to solidify.

FALL DOWN SEVEN TIMES, STAND UP EIGHT  will be a memoir about everything I went through during cancer.  You'd think that cancer would be the worst thing, but in many ways it wasn't.  The hell that George Brown College put me through while I was dealing with chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and such felt even worse.

And a thing has to be pretty awful to be worse than cancer.  What George Brown College did to me, how they treated me, was indeed WORSE THAN CANCER to me.

..... I'd like to believe that all the acrimony and antagonism was put to rest when we came to a settlement of our differences in October.  But the recent issue of digital access/digital barring raises questions.  I want to believe everything and everyone is acting in good faith, but I guess I will only know that as time passes on....

In any case, I know this will be one helluva book whenever I finish it and get it published.  

It's been a long road... one hell of a journey.

***When I eventually write FDSTSUE, I will give full details and supporting dox. 

More shenanigans from George Brown College

Even though I am and have continually been an employee at George Brown College, the bullying and stonewalling tactics by George Brown College -  specifically by a number of people in the Human Resources Dept, such as Roanna Moses, Jaismeen Rai, and now it seems to include Erin Campbell (to name but a few) - seem designed to make me feel like I am NOT an employee.  (See earlier post about getting my belongings from campus).


For instance, I always had digital access to George Brown digital platforms, portal,  etc.  Then *suddenly* in mid 2020, my acess was restricted.  Hmm.

I advised my Counsel, who advised George Brown College's Counsel and my digital access was reinstated around 20th September 2022.

Now *suddenly* my employee access is restricted again.  Erin Campbell in human resources at George Brown College tried to say it was a password issue.  Hmm.  But my password works fine - I can access everything online EXCEPT employee specific webpages.

So, is the stonewalling up and at 'em again?  Instead of being physically barred from George Brown College am I now being digitally barred?  Is this the lastest bullying trick  from human resources, or is it merely incompetence????  

Could it be just an innocent mistake????  Hmm.  This doesn't sound right to me...????  My full employee access was reinstated in SEPT.  Someone had to make a *choice* to have my access restricted again just a few weeks later...

Hmm.  Who knows?

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

More on skills, competence and experience & George Brown College

 I audio recorded the March 26, 2020 teleconference between myself and George Brown College where Roanna Moses admits she had no basis for making the "skills, competence, experience" comment.

The biggest problems with this comment from Roanna Moses are (were):

1.  Roanna Moses is the Disabilities and Accommodations Manager at George Brown College. 

2.  Roanna Moses said this in the context of planning my work assignment at George Brown College.

3.  Roanna Moses admitted to having no basis for making this claim.

4.  In the end, George Brown College did not give me any work assignment at all.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Payroll questions for George Brown College

I had some queries about some of my GBC pay cheques.  The numbers did not seem right.  I posed these questions to George Brown College for ~3 years, but never got clear answers.  But on two occasions, George Brown College told me in writing - from George Brown labour relations manager Timothy Bingham - that George Brown College could not discuss my pay questions with me.  Timothy Bingham basically stonewalled me, since I never got any explanations from Timothy Bingham or anyone else at George Brown College.

It's bizarre that an employee cannot get answers about pay from the organization that signs the pay cheque...

*** When I eventually write FDSTSUE, I will give the full details and supporting dox.

Return to Work at George Brown College

When I attempted to return to work (RTW) at George Brown College in 2017 and 2018, the process took ~6 weeks and involved 4 people.

When I attempted to RTW at George Brown College in 2020, the process dragged on for ~5 MONTHS and involved way more than 4 people, but didn't include my boss at the meeting when it mattered - since only my boss (Chairperson or Dean) can assign me work.  

**** When I eventually publish FDSTSUE, I will give all details and supporting dox.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Another bizarre thing George Brown College did...

 For ~15 months (Sept 2020 to Nov 2021), I tried and tried to get *some* of my PERSONAL belongings from George Brown College campus.  But GBC  - via human resources person Jaismeen Rai - refused to let me get my stuff, even though I followed the same COVID protocols as other GBC employees.  Jaismeen Rai never gave me any cogent, reasonable explanationfor why I was being treated differently than other George Brown College employees who could access campus.

In the end, George Brown College packed up everything from my cubicle and shipped three large boxes to my home.  

I only wanted certain things, things that were mine, paid for by me.

But what arrived at my home were several items that belonged to George Brown College, including GARBAGE, loose thumb tacks, and 125 student tests/exams.  Why would George Brown College send 125 student tests and exams to a professor on leave with cancer?

***When I eventually publish FDSTSUE, I will give all details and supporting dox.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

George Brown College Salary Issue, part 2

 When I found out my male counterpart, at George Brown College - Andrew Johnston - was paid ~$20k more than I was, I asked Human Resources @ George Brown College to check the calculations for my starting salary.  They assign so many points for education here and points for work experience there, etc.

Upon investigation, I realized that George Brown College had not given me any credit for my 3.5 years working at George Brown College.  I questioned this.  Nancy Hood, the VP of Human Resources (at the time) replied by email, saying that my "George Brown experience is irrelevant."

Wow!  My George Brown College experience is IRRELEVANT??????? I bet they'd bever put that in any recruitment posters!!!!!

***** When I eventually write FDSTSUE, I will give the full details and supporting dox.

Skills, competence or experience & George Brown College

 My (attempted) return to work in Spring 2020 was handled at George Brown by Roanna Moses, the Disability and Accessibility Manager.

Without asking me about my history at the College, and without checking my personnel file, and without speaking to any of my supervisors, she questioned whether I had the "skills, competence or experience" for given work assignments.  So, that's the first problem: Roanna Moses failed to get info.  But secondly, she questioned my "skills, competence or experience" to do an UNNAMED work task.  I definitely don't have the skills, competence or experience to pilot an airplane.   

***** Whenever I eventually write FDSTSUE, I will give the fill details and supporting dox.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

George Brown College - dispute, early days

 As mentioned in a prior post, the dispute (which was originally over salary) began in 2015. .. and my cancer diagnosis was in 2015.  

GBC refused to expedite the resolution.

In March 2018 we came to an agreement.  But it contained an error - my salary was listed incorrectly.  I immediately pointed out the error, and submitted prooof of my salary (pay stubs). Nonetheless, GBC communicated that they could not confirm my salary, even after giving them pay stubs WHICH ORIGINATED WITH THEM & WERE IN  THEIR POSSESSION.  How could any employer not know what they paid an employee?

Work assignment @ George Brown College

 Even though I began, or tried to begin, the return to work process around Christmas - with a planned return to work date of May 01 - George Brown did not give me a work assignment.  Furthermore, they never communicated a reason to me for why they refused to give me a work assignment.

Salary issue at George Brown College

With regard to the salary dispute at George Brown College re: a man - Andrew Johnston- who was hired for the same job, in the same department & hired at the same time as I was, but who is paid ~$20k more than I am..

Necessary detail:  I had worked on contract at the college for 3.5 years before being hired permanent/full time.

When I asked Human Resources to review my resume and starting salary, the VP of human resources (Nancy Hood, who has since retired) told me in writing that my work experience at George Brown College was "irrelevant".

Irrelevant????  Imagine if potential students were told such a thing!!!

2 letters from George Brown College threatened to fire me during cancer

Continuing the discussion of the hell I went through during cancer, specifically as related to my employer George Brown College...  

George Brown College sent me not one but two letters (one from Leslie Quinlan and the other from Dave Maharaj) threatening to fire me WHILE I WAS ON SICK LEAVE WITH CANCER.

The thing is, during the 18 years I have worked there, I have never had a black mark next to my name.  I've NEVER been reprimanded or disciplined for anything at anytime during my employment at George Brown College.

And the thing that makes me scratch my head is that these 2 letters & the threat within them do not jibe with George Brown College’s own "Progressive Discipline Policy."

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Ridiculousness from Roanna Moses at George Brown College

Another source of major headaches was how George Brown College acted when I was due to return to work following cancer.  My doctors advised that initially I should A) work from home and B) work flexible hours.  

Roanna Moses in the human resources dept of George Brown College resisted both doctor's requests. Her job title is "Disabilities and Accommodations Manager".

George Brown College, via Roanna Moses, did not support working from home EVEN THOUGH THE WHOLE PROVINCE WAS WORKING FROM HOME BECAUSE WE WERE IN COVID LOCKDOWN!  The lame explanation given to me was that the doctor's nites didn't match what the insurer said... but again we were in a pandemic lockdown.

And Roanna Moses resisted "flexible hours" because George Brown College didn't understand what "flexible hours" meant, even after 16 emails and 2 phone calls.  I even sent them a link to Dictionary.com so they could look up the words "flexible" and "hours" but they still couldn't figure it out.

***** When I eventually write FDSTSUE, I will explain thisnin full and give the relevant details and supporting dox.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Paola Loriggio Article


Part of the drag-on and on and on is delays and understaffing at the various bodies where the workplace dispute could be adjudicated. 


After about three years of dragging through the HRTO channels, this died on the vine.  What is disappointing was that so much time was wasted getting nowhere.

Other Things @ George Brown College: Andrew Johnston

One of the worst things I  have endured during cancer is a protracted dispute with my employer, George Brown College  It began in July 2015.  I was diagnosed with cancer in October 2015.

The dispute with George Brown College began as one thing, but has morphed into 1,283,864 other things that are still alive today.  

Initially, it was about my salary and the salary of the man - Andrew Johnston - who was hired the same time as I was, for the same job, in the same department.  I found out he was paid $20K more than I am.  Source: Sunshine List


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Works in Progress (WIP)

 For the most part, cancer derailed me from writing, be it the next Sasha Jackson mystery, or blog posts, or pretty much anything else.

In the last 7 or 8 months, I've been very tentatively poking a bit at not one, but two writing ideas.  Both WIPs are in early, nascent  embryonic stages.  The working titles for the two projects are:

■  The Worst Thing About Cancer Is Other People (TWTACIOP)


■  Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight (FDSTSUE)

Both projects are nonfiction.  Both have to do with my cancer experience, but each comes at things from a different perspective.

TWTACIOP mainly focuses on how people around the cancer patient & people who have never had cancer inform the experience of the patient.  You'll shake your head and roll your eyes a lot.

FDSTSUE is about my cancer, ahem, "journey", plus all the things I experienced during my cancer, ahem, "journey."  It covers the good, the bad, and the ugly, much of it will surprise you.  A major theme is the shenanigans I endured via my employer, George Brown College, and the protracted dispute that dragged on during cancer.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll hurl (nod to Wayne's World).

I have no idea when either of these will be completed, nor do I know which one will be finished first.  What I do know is that I have a lot to say.

P.S.  I am not working on any Sasha books at this time.  Even way back before cancer, I had the next two Sasha books (Odd Lang Syne & Home Sweet Homicide) underway.  I like both of these, and will finish them someday.  However, at present, I'm not inspired to write fiction.  So, back burner for now.

***** Whenever I eventually publish one or both of these books, I will provide all the details and supporting documents.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Published Articles


Toronto Star: A Positive Outlook Not Always in Your Best Interest


Toronto Star: Why I'm Giving Up on Online Dating


Globe and Mail: I've Beaten Cancer but Please Stop Telling Me I'm Fine


University Affairs: See You in Court: Five Instructive Cases for Universities


Saturday, August 29, 2015

More Glass Fusing

A couple weekends ago, I did another workshop at Nanopod Studios. This was a glass fusing workshop, which I have done before (and love doing!!!) but Tosca Teran (the owner creative wizard of Nanopod)  did things differently than what I have tried elsewhere.  (You may recall that I did a post a few months ago on Pate de Verre which was also at Tosca's studio).

At this workshop, there were tons of materials to work with, in addition to sheets of glass.  There were colourful glass rods (about the length and diameter of a pencil), stingers (very thin glass rods - skinnier than a spaghetti noodle), and lots of Frit (basically glass sprinkles), plus paint.

Another Budding Artiste named Lori did the workshop with me.  She too has blogged about the experience, and I have to admit her photos are much better than mine, so I shamelessly stole a few of them!

These are the pendants before being kilned.  Mine are mostly the blue ones in the middle (but not the larger ones along the upper and left edge of the frame). I also did the red one near the top.  You can see the use of the stringers on the blue square with white "stripes".  Stringer were cool to work with, they snap so easily.  The two dark blue and turquoise ones to the right - that sort of look like weird blue Lego pieces are the ones I did with glass rods.  The rods cuts fairly easily with a tool that looks like it belongs to an evil 18th Century dentist.  The whitish one at "one o'clock" is layers of clear and light blue glass with lots of Frit between the layers.  And finally, towards the left, the dark blue square with a whitish/clear piece on top is another example of Frit (plus some paint).  And at the bottom left, is a cool piece made by my classmate Lori.  Zoom in a bit and you can see that it's a dolphin jumping out of the water.

Another pre-kiln picture; that's Lori in the background.  My shirt and Lori's pants are a perfect colour match! 

Here's what all of our pendants look like after spending a few hours at extremely high temperatures - like hotter than a Manhattan sidewalk in July.

A close-up of the pendants I made. Too bad the photo above has such glare. But you can see how the ones with stringers turned out - pretty cool, eh? The two mottled dark blue ones in the center/upper right (above) are the "Lego" ones after being baked.  And in the pic below, you can see how nicely the Frit melted.

What made this workshop different than other is that we got to choose one pendant to make into a ring (sterling silver band).  I confess that I suck at metal work (see previous post on Sawpiercing).  So, Tosca did 99% of the work, but I did file the metal a wee bit.  

At any rate, I really like the way my ring turned out!  And I am very, very impressed with Lori's ring.  I think it's stunning!  I love the colours, I love the size and shape, and I hope she wears it often.  It's just gorgeous! 
Lori has more pics on her blog called Frivolous At Last.  You can check them out here.

Lori's ring - awesome, eh?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Jewellery: Sawpiercing

Earlier this summer I did a jewellery workshop.  This was my first time working with metals, and it was much easier than I would have guessed.  I've done a number of artsy-fartsy workshops in the past, and I really get a kick out of making jewellery. And, I enjoy trying my hand at various types of creative activities.  Writing is fun, but making something tangible offers a different kind of outlet and a different feeling of satisfaction.  And it's quicker!

In the pic above, I am sawing a little square of brass.  It's fairly easy to saw through... if you have good technique.   What I mean by this is that it does not require a huge amount of strength, but the saw blades are very fussy and if you go too fast or at the wrong angle, they snap.  I broke 15 blades in four hours!

Yikes!  The photo above is my first time soldering.  I'm terrified of fire and explosive gas canisters.  The bits of solder themselves are finicky.  The metal balls up when it melts, and you have to act quickly to spread it into place.

The final stage was buffing and polishing the piece.  This was easy, as the machine does all of the work.  But you need to take your time with it - the metal gets hot from the friction.

Ta-dah!  I don't really love the design (but don't hate it either).  I simply cut random shapes into the metal without any specific plan, and this is what I ended up with.  I guess it's kind of cool - certainly one of a kind!  

I have to admit, even though I learned a lot and enjoyed trying something new, I do not LOVE working with metal.  It's a very precise skill; you have to be very exact and really pay attention to the details.  That doesn't jibe well with my usual bull in a china shop approach to so many things.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dating Post #1 - Ick Ick Ick

Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick Ick 

People often ask me about inspirations for my characters. Ha!  The answer is Real Life!  I swear to gawd, I have a magnet in the middle of my forehead that draws freaks and weirdos to me.  I seem to meet a great number of them via the dating world. So, I'll be doing a few posts in the coming weeks about dating in general, but for now, let me begin with El Jerko Supremo.   

I had one date with Super-Doofus, and it was so bad it almost made me want to give up on dating all together.  

Dickhead and I arranged to meet at a restaurant.  He had arrived a little early and was already seated at a table when I got there (that detail will be important a little while from now...)

Dude is middle aged.  He told me that for his "midlife crisis" he decided to get some tattoos.  He got his first tattoo a few months ago.  Now, I am not against tattoos, and any adult who wants one, should go ahead and get one.  But...

On Mr. Moron's forearm was a tattoo, a German quotation, comprising a few lines of text.  Did I mention it was in German? Yes, German.  Dingbat does not speak German.  But he still got a tattoo in German. 

Loosely translated, the tattoo said: "I have no God, I have no master. I am my own master, I am my own destiny."  Something like that.  But in German.  I have no comment on the content of the tattoo, or the "philosophy" of it.  (Nietzsche anyone???) 

The tattoo had the German pronoun "I" four times.  The German first person singular pronoun in the subjective case is "Ich".  The pronunciation is exactly the sound a cat makes when hacking up a hairball.   Remember: There were four instances of the 1st person singular pronoun on his arm.  Four. 

A sloppy pronunciation of "Ich" might sound like "ick" (rhymes with "sick" or "dick" or "prick".)

Well, Mr. Dumb Dumb - who apparently has never heard of  a German-English dictionary - had it spelled  "ick" in three of the four instances.  The fourth time, it was spelled correctly (Ich).  It's 2015 for gawd's sake... Look it up online before getting PERMANENT ink on your 

I commented on the three misspellings and he replied: "Yeah, it's got a few typos."  Typos?  Are you kidding me?  I really wanted to stick a fork in my eye at that point.  But I politely sat through the WORST DATE EVER IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF DATING. 

When it was time to leave, Dorkface stood up and put on his... hoodie.  Captain Idiot told me  where he got the hoodie (in case I want to get one for myself?)  Here's the link to the site from whence he ordered a Hyena Hoodie - complete with a tail.  YES... MY DATE HAD A TAIL!   
And, yeah, Sir Loser Lose-A-Lot is about 50, and he's still single.  I wonder why?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Recent Reads: Heist Bandidos Takedown

This was off to a rip-roaring start.  I loved the first half of the book!  But then... meh...  The second half felt unrelated to the first half, and I found it rather predictable at times, and a little bit forced (plot-wise) at other times.  I generally enjoy Da Silva's books, so my lukewarm feeling about this one won't deter me from reading more by him.

WOW!!!  This was terrific!  A weirdly, wildly wonderful tale of some of the most inept would-be tough guys ever!  Edwards has a terrific voice, and he gives enough detail to make you see and feel the places and people, but not so much that it feels bogged down.  A thoroughly enjoyable book - highly recommended!!

Totally MEH.  I was a die-hard fan of Evanovich/Plum from day one, but now... The books just feel forced and silly now.  Once upon a time, Stephanie's shenanigans were a delightful romp, but the magic is gone.  I'll probably read the next installment - because, hey, there's still Morelli and Ranger - and I hope the next one harkens back to earlier books.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Recent Reads: Great Angel Jury

It was okay, I guess.  Ferguson made some great points and I agreed with some of what he had to say.  I particularly liked his discussion of community involvement.  But... there were a number of points I disagreed with.  Overall, I guess it made me think, so that's good, but overall, I was a bit disappointed.

Hmmm... now, let's see... I read this in 2015 - about six decades after it was first published.  Had I read it way back when, I'm sure I'd have enjoyed it more.  The depictions of women, the interactions between Hammer and women, the dialogue, etc. all really grated on me.  I liked the plot and the pace, and Hammer is the ultimate Hard-boiled PI, but still, it was hard to take at times... And I figured out whodunit before I got to the end.  

This was a good read - and different from my usual tastes in crime/mystery fiction.  The plot was terrific, with lots of twists and turns.  The settings and description - the research that must have gone into this!!! - were great, very detailed.  I could see the places, and I could feel the tensions the characters experienced.    Recommended.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

Glass Blowing!!!

On Saturday, I tried glass blowing for the first time ever.  It was a bit of a challenge, but I really enjoyed doing it.  The workshop was at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, and I was working with instructor Anne.  She's been doing glass works for many years, and she is now in her third year as a resident artist at the Centre.  

The hot, fiery furnace looking thing above is actually called a Glory Hole.  Yes, really. 
The process begins with a scoop of molten glass (from the boxy looking furnace in the right hand side of the photo).  The glass is stuck on the end of the metal rod.  

The temperature of the Glory Hole is about 2250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Holy shit that's hot!  So, you stick the rod into the Glory Hole and keep rotating it to get some shape.

Then, you dip the mushy lump of molten glass into trays with bits of coloured glass.  You then stick it back in the heat so that the added colour melts in.  The process is repeated a couple of times (as more colours are added). 


Then, Anne used tongs to shape the top a bit and to smooth out any stray pieceds around the neck (of the metal rod).  

Then it was time to blow, blow, blow.  The harder you blow, the bigger (and thinner) the ornament becomes.  Throughout the process, the rod must continually spin, or the glass will droop and sag (and your sphere will become a deformed oblong or some other odd shape). 

Because the glass is so darn hot, it needs a day or so to cool down, so I picked it up today (Monday).  


My three ornaments!  The small, turquoise one was a deliberate SNAFU - I just wanted to see how it would look without being forced into shape.  Kinda cool...

Ed and Aurora - two other instructors/resident artists - stood at the ready to add the stem (so the ornament can be hung on a Xmas tree).  It's juts done with more molten glass and a pair of pliers to twist it into shape.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pate de Verre

After burying myself in school for the last several weeks, I finally got busy doing something new and different, and very cool: Pate de Verre.  I had no idea what this was all about when I stumbled upon the website for Nanopod Studio and saw their list of upcoming workshops.  

But since it wasn't terribly expensive and was just an afternoon, I figured: What the heck - might as well give it a try...  

The instructor was Tosca Teran y Hidalgo, and she was amazingly patient.  I think I asked her 627 questions (many of which were duplicates!)   

The inside of the mold is "painted" before you do anything else.  The paint is not what you'd expect.  It's very finely-powdered, coloured glass to which you add some kind of magic solution to bind it enough so that it will hold in place.  Once you have the outer (or bottom) layer painted, then you fill the mold with little bits of ground glass - the pieces are so small and so fine that they looks like grains of sugar.  

Next, the masterpiece is kilned for several hours.  The temperature of the kiln is fairly low (comparatively speaking), which is why the glass granules retails their shape, as opposed to melting together. 

Here's a short YouTube video that gives a brief explanation of what Pate de Verre is and how it's done.  

*  *  * 

So, I did the first part (above) on Dec. 13, and went back tonight to pick up my finished piece.  Very cool! 

I had to use a little chisel  and a pick (it looked like a medieval dental instrument!) to gently smash away the plaster cast.  I literally broke the mold.  Anyhow, the pics tell the story and you can see my colourful skull end result.  

Did I mention that this activity was very cool?!  I had a lot of fun doing this and look forward to doing it again some day.

The five photos above were taken by Tosca Teran - the artist-instructor who owns Nanopod Studio.  Tosca is awesome - and very patient!  Her studio is filled with all sorts of her creations: jewellery, metal works, glass works, a wild pair of shoes and a very funky pink felt headpiece/wig! I can't wait to return and discover some new creations.