Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Thursday, March 22, 2018

"Running a virtual professional- services company"

Oct. 9, 2017 "Lessons in running a virtual professional -services company": Today I found this article by Susan Hyatt in the Globe and Mail:

Five years ago I put my retirement plans on hold to start a third career building a professional-services business that delivers crisis and planning services to the elderly and their families.

We now have a virtual company headquartered in Oakville that serves clients across southern Ontario and the GTA. Their family members can be anywhere in Canada or across the world and connect with us by conference call and e-mail.

It's unusual to see this type of virtual model for delivering professional services. Law firms and accounting firms typically have the client come to them, but we believe it's important to see the elderly person in their own home so we can best understand their needs.

Our virtual work force is anchored at our Oakville office where we contract with Intelligent Office to provide executive assistants who answer calls and help us prequalify clients. This means flex meeting rooms and board rooms are booked as needed, and our overhead costs are lower.

All our sales, business development and client-delivery staff spend most of their day either on the road or working from home offices. The team includes six full-time staff, a roster of client-delivery people who are part-time, a senior management team, some of whom are outsourced, and suppliers who provide expertise in areas such as IT infrastructure and marketing.

The business model we use is based on a village model with a cluster of client-delivery people. Wrapped around them is a trusted professional network of experts such as lawyers, health and personal care providers, and financial advisers. Together they serve elderly clients who typically don't want to move more than 10 kilometres from their neighbourhood, assuming these people can no longer cope at home.

Working remotely is not new. But working remotely and actually running a virtual company are two different things.

Running a virtual company means that everyone has to be connected and aligned with the company's goals. Three things are key. You must have crystal-clear goals and objectives, on-demand synchronization and encryption technology, and effective processes.

Indeed, clear goals and objectives matter even more in a virtual environment because teams collaborate across geographical areas and various skill sets. In our case, we have two teams – one devoted to sales, business development and marketing, and the other to client delivery. Members of both teams attend weekly conference calls to discuss key performance indicators.

Technology for on-demand synchronization and encryption is critical to this operation since users have their own computers or tablets, often with different operating systems. But client files and meeting notes must be done in real time, files must be synched in real time, and all client data and files must be encrypted due to the sensitivity of the information within.

We have found that very few software companies can provide real-time synchronization and encryption in a single application. Still, these files must be readily available to the mobile delivery team when needed for client work.

Our client-delivery team also uses time-tracking software to record the time spent on clients, travel and reporting. Such tracking delivers many advantages such as determining the actual effort needed for client work and planning for how much time is needed for specific tasks.

Along the way, we have learned a few lessons in how to build a virtual company. For example, processes are critical in keeping virtual teams functioning smoothly. For us, this means standardizing processes such as the prequalification interview for a prospect, how we assess an elderly client in their home, or how we run an internal meeting using agendas, conference calls and online conferencing.

If there is one consistent message we hear from our people, it is the need for more face time with their colleagues. They may be part of a virtual company, but they also believe in making a difference with elderly clients every single day.

This is why we hold company meetings every four to six weeks to celebrate achievements and focus on lessons learned. And every quarter, we set aside a full day for a joint company and advisory board meeting.

This is an opportunity for all business advisers to meet with the whole group to share new ideas and discuss how performance measures against goals. We also have some fun with team building and usually schedule a reception or meal later.

We are passionate about serving our clients and their families in the best possible way. Being a virtual company allows us to be nimble enough to do that. But doing so means we must never forget to engage with advisers, health care professionals, family members, neighbours, and others in order to solve real-life problems for the elderly. And that's true whether they are in crisis mode or just planning ahead. A virtual company can work and be successful, but it takes discipline.

Nov. 15, 2017 "Work is changing: what that means for sales professionals": Today I found this article by Jonathan Lister in the Globe and Mail:

The rise of powerful new tools and technologies has dramatically changed the sales function, widening the breadth of the role and the diversity of skills required to be successful.

Today, sales professionals aren’t just sales professionals; they’re data scientists, strategic advisers and technologists. They’re harnessing powerful insights and tools to add value for their clients and strategically pipeline and nurture leads over the long term.

So what does it mean to be a sales professional in 2017? Automation will lead to significant work-force displacement within the next few years as artificial-intelligence (AI) tools dramatically reduce the cost and inefficiency of basic processes. Forty-two per cent of all Canadian jobs are at a high risk of being affected by automation.

The sales industry is especially vulnerable. According to the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, sales-rep roles in Canada have an 85-per-cent probability of becoming automated.

Despite this, innovation is your ally. AI can make sales pros more effective rather than threatening job security. As AI tools become more readily available, they can empower you to filter through previously unimaginable pools of data to prospect more effectively, analyze business outcomes and then make predictions and recommendations for customer engagement.

Automating templated tasks can also make your sales processes more efficient and free up valuable time and resources to focus on complex, value-added activities, such as nurturing customer relationships, identifying growth opportunities and refining your strategy.

Embracing new tools as a crucial part of your daily work and viewing machine-intelligence applications as a way to enhance rather than challenge human ability will breed a new generation of agile, insightful and effective sales professionals.

Zero in on the right decision makers from the start

Corporate spending has become committee-driven. The average business-to-business (B2B) purchasing team has 6.8 members, according to CEB. Larger buying committees with diverse stakeholders are both a challenge and opportunity for the modern sales professional.

While conventional sales wisdom tells professionals to focus on the chief executive officer, if you take that approach, you’re missing 5.8 members of the decision-making committee. In fact, our 2017 State of Sales survey found that more than half of these purchase-decision makers aren’t even in the C-Suite.

So how do you reach the right people? Sales filters and lead bots are two essentials for the modern sales professional. Sales filters allow you to pull information out of a social platform and designate specific qualifiers, such as the geographies that you want to zero in on, titles and companies.

One of the most important weapons in any sales rep’s arsenal, lead bots are an automated tool that monitor the types of accounts that you’d like to engage with and proactively recommend prospects. With today’s incredibly sophisticated algorithms, lead bots are also very accurate.

Lead bots are integrated into several social platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. There are 1.2 million B2B decision makers on LinkedIn across more than 300,000 organizations, and tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help you identify the right leads – based on their industry and unique needs – at the right time.

There’s no excuse for cold calling in the digital era, when professionals have a trove of information right at their fingertips to help them nurture a strong sales pipeline, based on data-driven insights.

A value-based sales approach will drive better results

Successful modern selling is value based and insights-driven, and those adopting sales-intelligence strategies to drive ROI are well positioned for long-term success in this new era.

The rise of automation and AI tools in sales means that professionals must transform their client relationships, evolving their role from a vendor to a strategic adviser and making sure to add value with each interaction.

In fact, 74 per cent of buyers will choose the sales rep that was first to add value and insight. Demonstrate a keen understanding of your customers’ business and bring forward insights that can help solve their most complex problems. In today’s shifting landscape, you’re not just selling a solution but your own expertise.

When prospects don’t engage with the content you provide, you need to adjust your strategy. This is another inflection point in the sales funnel, where arming yourself with insights is crucial for success. Tools such as LinkedIn’s PointDrive expose buying intent and automation software such as Marketo provides key information about prospects and the campaigns that they’re engaging with, enriching your perspective so that the next time you reach out, you have even more value to offer.

Technological innovation has evolved the modern sales role, upping the stakes for professionals and their organizations. Customers expect more: more support, more expertise and more insight. However, new tools and technologies also present a unique opportunity for sales professionals to increase the value they offer their clients as data scientists, strategic consultants and technical experts.

AI as an opportunity, not a threat

Embracing new tools as a crucial part of your daily work and viewing machine-intelligence applications as a way to enhance rather than challenge human ability will breed a new generation of agile, insightful and effective sales professionals.

"How employers view online education"

Nov. 15, 2017 "How employers view an online education": Today I found this article by
Daina Lawrence in the Globe and Mail:

Ten years ago, Lisa Lalonde, now a professor in the faculty of early childhood education at Algonquin College in Ottawa, was cautioned by a friend about her choice to pursue an education almost exclusively online.

"When I first started this journey, someone asked me about what my career objectives were in the long-term … and they warned me that some of the upper crust of academia don't look highly upon this [online education]," she recalls. "Whereas, I'm finding that is definitely not the case any more."

Prof. Lalonde completed her master of arts in educational leadership and management from Royal Roads University in Victoria in 2014 and is pursuing her PhD online in applied psychology and human development at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute of Studies in Education.

"I have never been faced with, in any of my job prospects, having someone say [dismissively], 'Oh you did online learning.' That's never happened once," says Prof. Lalonde.

According to students who studied online and employment recruiters alike, Canada's employers do not see a digital education as inferior to its on-campus counterpart – as long as the courses are through a reputable university.

Online postsecondary learning is a growing global phenomenon and shows no signs of slowing. But there are still cautionary tales. The University of Phoenix – a for-profit institution that offers online education – has a history of being investigated for overstating results and other issues, along with other private institutions.

It's clear that caution needs to be taken when pursuing online studies, but ensuring courses are from a public, Canadian postsecondary institution is a good place to start, says Prof. Lalonde.

"I did my research," she explains, "and I was confident with my choice of school because I had done my due diligence and I would tell others to do the same."

Canada's postsecondary institutions are expected to continue to increase their online offerings to keep up with demand from students who like the convenience and affordability of online learning.

According to a 2015 study, Online and Distance Capacity of Canadian Universities, commissioned by Global Affairs Canada, 361,000 members (nearly 30 per cent) of the student population in Canada took online courses in 2015.

And it is this growing popularity that is helping to garner approval of online studies by Canadian employers, explains Mary Barroll, president of TalentEgg, a student and recent-graduate career resource company.

"I think there is a growing acceptance of online learning, but it fundamentally comes down to the reputation of the program, the institution offering it and the accreditation attached to it," says Ms. Barroll. "It doesn't have the same stigma attached to it as it did 10, 15 years ago."

While employers are not balking at a candidate's online education if it is from a recognizable source, they may question if the person has the interpersonal skills that many jobs require.

"Employers tell me frequently that they are looking for leaders and because of the nature of online learning, you have a harder job to prove that you have those soft skills that employers are looking for," explains Ms. Barroll. "So it's crucial that people have other experience – in the community or the workplace – that can demonstrate that sort of capacity to lead, collaborate and work in a team."

However, e-learning often requires self-discipline, drive and other skills that are attractive to employers, so online students should not be afraid to play up those on an application, says Ms. Barroll.

Online studies "are a really good way to show you've got time management skills, the dedication, the discipline and initiative that it takes to be involved in an online learning experience," she adds.

Kelly Edmonds, an e-learning specialist, echoes the call for caution when it comes to online courses.

"There are all sorts of courses – non-credit, recreational – out there now and the quality is all over the place," says Dr. Edmonds, who received the majority of her training online and says there was a negative perception of online studies in previous years.

"I think we've worked so hard in the e-learning field to contribute research, papers and articles, and have studied how students can learn better online, that the e-learning field is very much behind this concept of 'how can we do this better?'"

The availability and variety of online courses makes them accessible, but it does mean the onus is on the student to research the course to ensure it is going to be positively viewed by employers.

"It makes sense that employers would question where a program is from and place a value based on that assessment," she explains.

"I think employers would be skeptical if they saw an online degree from ABC University," says Dr. Edmonds. "But when they know the university, they can determine the calibre of the program and the rigour of the content."

"Four tips for adult digital learners": Today I found this article by Guy Dixon in the Globe and Mail:

The title alone, Death 101, suggests something other than typical University of Toronto fare.
But Death 101 is no horror show. It is an online course, now archived, on global health risks, death and disease, and their effect on policy, developed by the University of Toronto for EdX Inc. And that makes the course even less typical.

EdX is a third-party platform on the web (another popular service is Coursera Inc.) that is in the business of hosting MOOCs, or massive open online courses. Sometimes the courses have a prerequisite, such as prior knowledge of the topic. Sometimes they are part of professional certification programs.

MOOCs have become another option, along with the plethora of online courses already offered directly by postsecondary institutions, for busy adults looking to dip into online learning, whether for work or pleasure.

And as a result, this has led to rapid changes in adult learning. The design of online classes has evolved dramatically in the past five years. And what is required of students online has also changed dramatically.

Prospective students who choose to study online have a few key issues to consider.

Expect to be busy

Simply signing up, doing some reading and dabbling in a class anonymously are not enough. That is no more effective than sitting in a lecture and watching a professor speak for one, two or three hours, says Gregor Kiczales, executive director of the University of British Columbia's extended learning department and a professor of computer science.

Online courses are about concision. Each lecture tends to be short, about 10 minutes, accompanied by exercises sprinkled throughout the course. They aren't about daydreaming through long classes and weeks of plowing independently through vast texts.

"What's interesting is that the online courses, in a funny way, have a real advantage, because it's so easy for them to intermix presenting content with activity. It's so easy for them to say to the learner, 'Hey, you haven't solved a problem in a day. Why don't you do this now?' " Dr. Kiczales says. "It's so easy for them to encourage the kind of activities that we know promote learning."

Shop around for the right class

This isn't as obvious as it may sound. There are many different ways in which online classes are designed to engage students, from continual assignments to little nudges by an algorithm or directly from an instructor. Consider your preferences.

"Look for signs that the online course is well designed for learning, not that it's well designed to be efficient for the institution providing it. Does it have a clear sense of what's going to happen each week? Does it have real activities that are going to be interesting to engage in? Does it check back in with you to see how you're doing, and keep you up to date? When you post questions online, do they get answered quickly? All of those are quality indications," Dr. Kiczales says.

Expect a "flipped" learning experience

The traditional method of doing the reading, attending the lecture and then doing some exercises later is now frequently flipped. The emphasis with online courses is often on the exercises. This creates a more sequential learning experience – baby steps – different than the go-it-alone experience that some courses offer.

"I have them do a little bit of reading, a little bit of video [watching], and a little bit of exercises on which they get feedback. And that process repeats until they get all their skills," says Saul Carliner, a professor and interim chair of the department of education at Concordia University. This flips the learning experience by emphasizing activity rather than passive listening. This is spilling over into how many tradition classroom courses are taught, too, often with a hybrid, online-offline approach.

"There is a fair amount of evidence that this is quite a successful means of teaching. It may be more entertaining, that's great. But ideally, it's more engaging," he says. "It's doing what you're supposed to do with effective instruction, which is, I introduce a skill and I verify that you understand it before I move you on to the next skill."

The question, though, is whether this flipped method, this step-by-step approach of sequential exercises online, suits the way you like to learn. Not everyone is so linearly minded; not every subject is as suited to linear teaching.

Think about what you want from the online class, not just what it offers

Are you looking for a new professional skill, or obtaining a prerequisite for further study, or looking to earn a certificate?

"That self-assessment of what's appropriate for you, and what you're looking for, is probably the most important thing, so that you follow a path that's not going to be frustrating for you," says Laurie Harrison, director of online learning strategies at the University of Toronto.

Remember, too, that even if the class is a good fit for your needs, the way it is delivered online can alter what it provides. For instance, some MOOCs are free, but certain things like a completion certification or study aids are likely behind paywalls. So assessing your needs often means plowing through options of which class to choose.

"It's a double-edged sword. You could almost say that with so much choice, where do you begin? But with so much choice, there's a right fit for everyone," Dr. Harrison says.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Ugandan transgender man refugee/ bone- marrow donor

Dec. 12, 2016 "Ugandan transgender man secures refugee status in Edmonton": Today I found this article by Clare Clancy in the Edmonton Journal:

Adebayo Katiiti believes returning home to Uganda is tantamount to a death sentence.

The 22-year-old Ugandan, who identifies as a transgender man, has qualified for refugee status in Edmonton. He arrived in August to compete at the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Championships before returning home. But in the midst of the competition, Katiiti started to receive threatening text messages from his own family. 

“My family called me evil,” he said. In Uganda, same-sex relationships are illegal and can lead to lengthy prison sentences. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as well as their allies face discrimination and assault.

Days before his trip to Canada, Katiiti was arrested when police stormed the Mr. and Miss Pride Pageant during a private celebration in Kampala. His family saw a video of the event that circulated in the media and effectively outed him.

“I know what it means to be gay back home,” he said. “I was undressed. I was humiliated … pulling out your hair, beating you up, treating you like a non-citizen in your own country … forcefully taking pictures of you. All those things I went through with the police.”

Katiiti said his decision to seek asylum in Canada was unpopular with his teammates because they were concerned it could hinder their ability to re-apply for visitor visas.

 “It was a really hard decision,” he said. “I don’t regret it.”

Coach Nate Freeman, who formed the team, said visas were valid until January. He’s hopeful the situation won’t affect future athletes.

“This was an extraordinary circumstance,” he said. “Everyone wants what is best for Adebayo … even if status is granted, the road can be really hard.”

Katiiti said he has found support through the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, which guided him through the refugee claimant process. He was granted the status Nov. 16 and said he plans to apply for permanent residency, and eventually citizenship.

“I’ve seen the beauty of Canada through the queer people I’ve met and the St. Paul’s United Church community,” he said.

He added the most difficult part of becoming a refugee has been leaving behind the LGBT community in Uganda. He had been passionate about helping his peers access medical services despite rampant discrimination in the Ugandan medical system.  

Now Katiiti is focusing on building a new life — one that has changed drastically in a short time. He is dating a Canadian woman, living with a family and is planning to pursue a career in sports, as a physical trainer or a lifeguard.

“I played soccer at the national level in Uganda,” he said. “I dream to be on the national (soccer) team of Canada, but I don’t know how to get there.”

For now, he is committed to swimming, soccer and floor hockey. 
“But I don’t know skating,” he said with a laugh.

Katiiti acknowledged there are challenges that come with being a refugee — he has faced instances of racial discrimination, such as being shouted at while waiting for a train. 
“A lot of things I can handle,” he said. “I can’t compare those things to what I’ve been through.”

He believes he is lucky, knowing how many people are in hiding in Uganda, fearing for their lives because of their gender or sexual orientation.

“Many of them are chased away from their families and have nowhere to go … I believe I have work to do for them. I hope I can change their lives one day.”

"Bone-marrow donor, recipient remain close": Today I found this article by Dave Lazzarino in the Edmonton Journal:

Edmonton woman, Maryland man urge others to consider donating

When Allison Atlas was diagnosed with leukemia, it set off a chain of events that travelled from her home in Maryland in the early 1990s to Edmonton and Europe and continues today.

A call went out for bone marrow donors and Bethesda, Md., resident Ken Wagner stepped forward. An engineer who designs electronics for NASA, he figured why not see if he could help.

“I didn’t match her and she ended up passing away because she never found a perfect match,” said Wagner.

But his file in the registry remained and into the picture stepped Edmonton chartered accountant Kristina Milke.

“I was diagnosed with leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, in 1994,” Milke said.
She was 27 then. Doctors told her without a bone marrow match, she wouldn’t live past 30, maybe 32.

“I was kind of numb,” she recalled. “The doctor’s telling me that they think I have leukemia and I’m looking at her and she’s like, ‘You’re not saying anythig.’ And I said, ‘I don’t really know what leukemia is.’ I honestly didn’t know what it was. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know.”

Doctors will normally look to siblings for a bone marrow donor because it offers a one-in-four chance of a match. Milke has no siblings. Instead, they went to the International Bone Marrow Registry, a growing list of nearly 30 million people who have come forward as potential donors.

Wagner was a match. He was contacted and asked if he’d be willing to donate.
“I knew it was a woman who lived outside the United States, that was the only information I had,” he said. “And they asked me if I would do a couple more tests and then would I donate bone marrow. I said, ‘Of course, yes.’”

A two-hour procedure involving hypodermic needles being injected into either side of his tailbone removed around 800-millilitres of bone marrow. It was put into a cooler and sent to Edmonton. Wagner felt sore for a week while his marrow replenished, like he had been tackled roughly at the waist, but was back to work a few days later and back playing sports within a month.

For Milke, the struggle had just begun. She underwent chemo and radiation therapy, killing off all of her white blood cells in preparation to be given Wagner’s bone marrow.
She dropped down to less than 100 pounds, lost all her hair and her taste buds were rendered temporarily ineffective.

Wagner’s marrow was administered intravenously. Her white blood cell count was taken 20 times a day to see if it would take, hoping graft-versus-host disease or other unexpected complications wouldn’t reduce her chance of survival.

She spent the next year recuperating, determined to find out who had given her a second chance at life. According to the rules, she had to wait a year and the donor had to be willing to be identified as well. All she had from him was a written letter, unsigned, that she received along with the donation.

It took her a few attempts to work up the nerve to call. When he answered, he knew it was her.

“I thanked him. I said, ‘You don’t know who I am but you saved my life.’”

Awkward at first, the two have become close, taking part in family celebrations and being there for the losses.

“I call him my brother, he calls me his sister. There’s no other way to describe our relationship at this point,” said Milke.

“I don’t have any sisters,” said Wagner, interjecting without interrupting, the way a story gets told by simultaneous siblings.

“I have brothers. But sisters can tell you things that ... they have a different set of eyes and a different perspective on things, so I enjoy having her as a sister and that’s something that I treasure.”

The two aren’t exactly alike. Milke is emotional when she tells the story of their meeting while Wagner, an engineer to the core, prefers calculations.
“The whole process is just a cotton swab on the inside of your cheek,” an ever-humble Wagner said.

“I don’t think of it as heroic, I just think of it as something you do. I’m not somebody who can save lives normally. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a teacher, I’m not a fireman or a policeman. I’m just an engineer.”

What they see eye-to-eye on is the importance of the registry that brought them together.
“It’s one of those things that you can do to save somebody and not have to give your life for them. That’s what makes it so cool,” Milke said.

The numbers back it up. From the drive that Wagner took part in, 200 donors have been matched to recipients.

Milke’s case wasn’t much different. Of the people who volunteered to register when she got ill, she knows of one who proved a match for a young boy in Europe.

The process has changed slightly in the past two decades. The two hour extraction procedure is down to 45 minutes and is only used five per cent of the time — the other 95 per cent is no different than taking blood.

And stem-cell blood, including the more than 700,000 units of cord blood units stored in Edmonton, is now being used to treat more than 80 diseases.

But with nearly 1,000 people still waiting for a marrow match in Canada alone, both Wagner and Milke hope their story prompts more people to call 1-888-236-6283 or go online to

For Wagner, the reason to donate is just too obvious.
“It’s the thing that I’m most proud of that I’ve done in the world.”

Dec. 15, 2016 "December tough for new couples": Today I found this article by Joanne Richard in the Edmonton Journal:

Festive fare isn’t the only thing that can give you heartburn. It’s not the most wonderful time of the year — for single men, that is.

Not dating in December sucks! According to an survey, Canadian men hate being single at Christmas, and are far more likely than women to view it as a romantic holiday to be shared with that special someone. Women think Valentine’s Day is the worst day of the year to be single.

But while the single men are bemoaning love, those coupled up are big on gift giving. Men are more enthusiastic than women about exchanging holiday gifts — 67 per cent of men think that it’s important to buy gifts for a new partner, compared with just over half of women.

Men are also happier to give big gifts earlier: 13 per cent of men (and just six per cent of women) think it’s OK to gift something big, expensive, and/or meaningful within the first month of dating, reports the survey.

However, men may want to rethink this festive enthusiasm, as 39 per cent of women reveal that a fancy gift too soon into the relationship makes for discomfort not cheer.

A few more stats that came up: Celebrating the holidays as a couple is more important to men than women — 36 per cent versus 26 per cent. And more men than women think it’s the perfect time to introduce their new partner to the family — 65 per cent versus 50 per cent.

According to EliteSingles psychologist Salama Marine, overall the survey suggests that the main difference between women and men regarding Christmas holidays is that men prefer to spend time on focused activities like choosing nice gifts for those they love, while women devote more attention and time to hosting the best Christmas ever — “an often stressful situation when they might feel that everything needs to be perfect! This naturally means that they have other things on their minds besides love.”

She adds that this could also be the reason that men are more enthusiastic about exchanging holiday gifts with their partners: “If men feel they have less to worry about, they are free to focus on gift giving as one of the biggest parts of the day.” Women, on the other hand, feel they’re juggling it all.

Interestingly, this seems to be a phenomenon repeated around the world. “We repeated this study in several countries, and found that men are more into gift giving than women in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Norway. However, Sweden and Hungary buck the trend: in both countries women are ones most enthusiastic about gift giving,” says Marine.

Meanwhile, being single in December can be a struggle for singles everywhere. End-of-year traditions with family can mean facing questions about your love life: Who are you dating? Did you finally meet someone? When will you get married?

“The questions are hard to avoid and, for some, it can feel like they’re the only one still looking for love,” Marine says.

She says it’s actually a great month to start dating and meeting people, at least online — for there, these singles are not alone in their search.

“In fact, every year at EliteSingles we notice a peak in registrations around Christmas and New Year’s.”

Overall, the end of the year is always a time for self-reflection and for many singles that will involve the realization that they don’t want to be single at this time next year. “Happily, December is a great time to do something about it!” she says.

Apr. 28, 2017 "Mind your manners, bachelorettes": Today I found this article by Jaimie Woo in the Globe and Mail about mainly women and their bad and rude behavior at these LGBT/ drag queen places.

My week:

Mar. 14, 2018 Spring TV season: All my fall TV shows will be ending soon.  I usually watch 6 or 7 TV shows a week.  Now I am going to record the series of all these shows.

I will have these shows as backup in my DVR in case I'm really bored, and there are no shows to watch during the summer.

In summer 2017, I watched 5 shows.  I had saved the TV show Salvation on my DVR.  I had watched the pilot and didn't really like it.  After they aired all the episodes, I did end up deleting it because I didn't want to watch it.  Also fall has arrived.

1. Timeless: I saw the season 2 premiere and it was good.

2. McMafia: I saw the pilot.  I really liked the lead character, but I am unsure if I will watch the rest of the series.

Alex Godman, the English-raised son of Russian mafia exiles, has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of their past, building his own legitimate business and forging a life with his girlfriend, Rebecca. But when a murder unearths his family's past, Alex is drawn into the criminal underworld where he must confront his values to protect those he loves.

3. Deception: I saw the pilot and it was really fun and exciting.  My sister liked it too.  I will watch the rest of the series.

Cameron Black is the world's greatest illusionist. At least, that's what people used to call him - before his greatest secret was exposed and his career destroyed. Even worse, Cameron has good reason to believe this was no accident. 

3. Instinct: I will check out the pilot: This looks interesting like Criminal Minds.

A former CIA operative (Cumming), who has since built a "normal" life as a gifted professor and writer, is pulled back into his old life when the NYPD needs his help to stop a serial killer on the loose.

4. The Detail: The promo said it's from the producers of Rookie Blue.  I really liked Rookie Blue. However, I saw the TV show Ten Days in the Valley, also from the creator of Rookie Blue, Tassie Cameron, but I thought that show was just average.  I will check out the pilot.

Three female homicide detectives solve crimes while also dealing with their personal lives.

5. The Terror: I don't really expect to like this show because it's set in the 18th century, but I will check out the pilot.

The crew of a Royal Naval expedition searching for the Arctic's treacherous Northwest Passage discovers instead a monstrous predator. 

6. The Crossing: I will check out the pilot because it's seems very interesting:

Refugees from a war-torn country 250 years in the future start showing up to seek asylum in an American town.

Woman texts wrong message, funny answer:
A text to the wrong number is doing more good than Tony Wood ever imagined.
Wood, a father of six from Sedalia, Missouri, received a text from an unfamiliar number with photos of a woman trying on an evening gown. Instead of simply replying "wrong number," he decided to respond with humor.

"I believe this message was intended for someone else," he wrote. "My wife isn't home, so I couldn't get her opinion, but the kids and I think you look stunning in your dress! You should definitely go with that one!"

He also included a photo of five of his six kids giving the sender a thumbs up.
Twitter user Mandi Miller posted screenshots of the exchange, garnering over 176,000 retweets and almost 700,000 likes.
"Syd accidentally sent pics of her dress to the wrong number and this was their response," she tweeted with a cry-laughing emoji.

There's a reason why Wood's wife wasn't home to offer fashion advice — she was at the hospital with their four-year-old son, Kaizler, who is battling leukemia.
The viral tweet raised awareness for the family's GoFundMe campaign to help with expenses during Kaizler's treatment, and donations began pouring in. The campaign has now surpassed its $10,000 goal by almost $5,000.