Movember is Over!

movember

So Movember is over, here is how it left me after 30 days of growing the Mo. So I can say we did well as our team at work managed to raise $1570 for the cause. which is pretty good considering we were only 5 people in our team. So till next year movember….

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Movember is Here!

So this is a new thing for me, I had never heard of or participated in Movember till last year, I started at a new company and found that most of my colleagues in the department all had these large moustaches, was interesting to see and then I heard the story behind it. This year I have decided to join the cause.

The goal of Movember is to raise awareness to men’s health issues, specifically Prostate Cancer. The goal of the program is to grow a mustache for the month of November to bring awareness to the cause  of Men’s health which is often ignored and raise funds via sponsors and donations.

As such I have registered to participate this year and have joined a team of my fellow colleagues at work. you can check out my personal Movember page here and our team page here. If you would like to help the cause, please click on the link below which will bring you to the donation page for me.  Will update this at  the end of the month with my Movember moustache.

Donate to Me

It’s Movember, the month formerly known as November, which is dedicated to growing moustaches and raising awareness and funds for men’s health. I have joined the movement and will be donating my upper lip to the cause for 30 days. My Mo will spark conversations, and no doubt generate some laughs; all in the name of raising vital awareness and funds for prostate cancer.

Why am I so passionate about men’s health?
*On average men live 4-5 years less than women
*1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime
* 25,500 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year in Canada

I invite you to support me by donating to me http://mobro.co/rickymartin

You can even go old school and write a cheque payable to “Movember Canada”, reference my name and Registration Number 1604972 and send it to: Movember Canada, 119 Spadina Avenue, PO Box 65, Toronto, ON M5T 2T2

All donations are tax deductible.

We only have a month to grow Mos and raise awareness and fund, so please come along for the ride.
Funds raised will help make a tangible difference to the lives of others. Through the Movember Foundation and their men’s health partner, the Prostate Cancer Canada, Movember is funding world class awareness, research, educational and support programs which would otherwise not be possible.

For more details on how the funds raised from previous campaigns have been used and the impact Movember is having please click on the links below:

About Movember
Prostate Cancer Foundation research
Global Action Plan

Please donate here – http://mobro.co/rickymartin

Thank you in advance for helping me change the face of men’s health. Go the Mo!

Ricky Martin

Moustache Season. Now Open.

http://static.movember.com/uploads/images/Global/2011/Donate_to_me_Sprite.png
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Support my Friend Tony and The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Canada

My Friend Tony is participating in the ride for the cure. you can see from the video below. take a moment and make a small donation if you can.

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Has Been a While, A lot has Changed!

so to start things off let me first acknowledge the fact that it has been a long time since my last post. And a lot has happened.

So first things first I have changed position, and as part of that changed city again. I am now living and working in the (GTA)  for those who don’t know that is the greater Toronto Area.

In Addition to that big change we also welcomed our first child into the World this year as well. Aidan was born in March.

With All that we are getting settled in to our new life with a baby, in a new community and making the most of it. I will be trying to write more and keep things updated a little more regularly on here.

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ING Announces New Free Checking Account In Canada

I just received the notice last night in my e-mail announcing that ING Canada is going to be offering a brand new FREE Chequing account. This is similar to what they already offer in the US. This could be huge as they offer all the services which we now pay for as free and included with this account as well and on top of that it is also suppose to earn interest.

you can check out the details on their website here at ING. This could be very interesting as it will definitely open up options and cause some competition for the larger banks in Canada.

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5 keys to working around the world

So As some of you may be aware I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work in several cool places around the world over the last few years as a result of that experience I have learned a few things that make it a little easier to be able to this, and will break these down here for you. As with anything there are many ways to do things, these are the ones I know of and have worked for me.

Key 1 – Citizenship

one of the biggest advantages or disadvantages is Citizenship depending on which one you have and what you might be entitled to. One of the advantages I have is being a Canadian Citizen, As a result we enjoy good relation and good will with most countries around the world, and this opens up a lot of opportunities.  Canadian citizens enjoy relatively easy access to work visa’s for the US and and the UK depending on your education and experience. There are some drawbacks as many are temporary visa’s but there may be a route to permanent residency if your looking for it, you just need to explore the options.

Another advantage is if you have dual Citizenship, which my wife shares, And this can eliminate the need for visa altogether, as in my wife’s case European citizenship gives you access to work anywhere within the EU.

Key 2 – Age

Many Countries that are looking to grow have what is called a work study option, which is usually age restricted to people between 18-30. This gives you an option to go visit, study and work in the country. you can usually do a search on the internet with the country you have in mind and should be able to find the information with regards to this option. Or another option is to call up the closest consulate for the country you are interested in and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Key-3 – Skill Set/Experience/Education

Depending on the background or Diploma you have can make life a lot easier to getting a work visa in another country, especially with highly skilled people in demand all over the world. This opens up a lot of options. At the same time you may be able to transfer within a company to another division if you have been with the company for a certain time under different visa categories.  It is a lot easier for an Engineer with a university degree to get a visa than say for a chef that has no experience in the industry.

Key-4- Mobility

This is the key if you want to be able to have the opportunities to work in another city or country, I am thankful that my wife has been open to the opportunities that have presented themselves to us over the years. I don’t think I can stress this enough, if you want to be open to options that are presented you may need to be able to move quickly, even when they are planned out well in advance(trust me I am speaking from experience here…LOL). If you have to many things that tie you down to one place you may hesitate, which could eventually cause you to miss out on a life altering experience.

Key- 5- Desire

This is probably one of the biggest factors to be able to work around the world. YOU NEED TO WANT TO!

If you don’t there is no point in pursuing any of the other things you need to do in order to be able to seize these opportunities. I for one want to experience life and all it has to offer, and to experience different places and cultures, you can only read so much and see so many movies, but it is nothing like seeing it with your own eyes and touching it with your own fingers.

So with that said keep your mind and your options open, you never know when a great opportunity will present itself!

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Top 5 Border Crossing Stories, The Good The Bad And The Ugly

Well I was recently reading a blog post about a bad border crossing into Canada from everything-everywhere.com After reading that story got me to thinking about all the border crossings I have done over the last few years. I will start with the worst and work my way to the best.

5-Going to the USA for a new Job (or so I thought)

Well on this one I had accepted an offer for a new job in the Boston Area, had given my notice at my current job in Montreal, had signed all the paperwork, prepared everything for my trip down. lined up a hotel to stay at till I could start looking for more permanent accommodations. Any way start the drive down to the border on a Wednesday evening,  get there, and get the usual questions, where are you going, why, etc…

Then I get asked to go inside to review my paperwork, after almost 2 hours sitting there, without any update the officer comes back and tells me that I can’t go into the US and need to return home. then I was asked to sign a paper, which I refused as it had no explanation on it, and when I asked him he said that is fine I don’t need to sign it. So I returned home after stopping at the Canadian border and trying to explain to them why I was refused entry. They couldn’t understand why either.

So needless to say that job did not happen.

4-Returning Rental Truck to the USA (After moving back to Canada)

After moving back to Canada I had to return the Penske Truck to the closest rental office in Plattsburg, (take a note if you ever have to do this it might be easier to use U-Haul) well for some reason it was extremely complicated for the agents at the US Border to understand that I was bringing an empty truck to the USA. After about an hour they finally let us go.

3-Coming back to Canada to visit with our Dog

This was probably the easiest border crossing in a car we have ever had, we had prepared everything they might ask for, the vaccination certificate for our dog, his registration, our passports, but there was no need. We got to the agent, she asked us our citizenship, we said Canadian,  and she scanned our passports and told us have a nice day.

2-US Customs in Chicago

This was on the return portion of a trip to Italy for work, we had a stopover in Chicago to visit some family, also as we were in the process of getting our permanent residency in the USA we had some travel paperwork that needed to be stamped by US Customs. This was probably the funniest situation, The lawyer had warned us to make sure they stamp all our paperwork. I had the agent the paperwork with our passports, and he looks at me and asks “what am I suppose to do with this?”. I couldn’t help but laugh, I then answered him and repeated what the lawyer said. he said he had never done this before, so he asked another agent who said ” Oh yeah, this is easy” and finished up the paperwork.

1-Passport control in Milan, Italy

This was probably the quickest and funniest ever, we get to passport control to get out of the airport, the agent is deep in conversation with another agent, without even skipping a beat, he looks at my wife passport, then mine, stamps mine and hands them back and never stopped talking the whole time, and didn’t even say one word to us.

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Netflix Coming to Canada, one more reason to cut the cable

So With the recent announcement that Netflix is coming to Canada this fall with their streaming service just builds more of a case to cut the wires to the cable and satellite  service.

With that announcement you can easily see why this makes it even easier to get rid of the cable company as they will be streaming TV and Movies on Demand.

Just waiting to get the details of what they will offer and what the price will be.

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Amazon Anounces Hit TV Seasons from ABC now Available on demand

The latest way to watch Amazon Video On Demand on your TV.  Starting this month, Amazon customers can now instantly access over 75,000 movies & TV shows on shows on compatible connected TVs and devices. Turn your living room into a digital entertainment center.

Yet another reason to get rid of Cable.

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Vacation Time, how much is enough?

The summer vacation season is in full swing in the northern hemisphere, and here in Montreal it is no different. We are now starting the beginning of the “Construction Holidays” here in Quebec, which is usually a quiet time for most companies in the area usually shut down or scale back operations. all this talk about vacations and taking time off got me thinking about how vacation is given out all over the world.

I have had the great opportunity to work, in several places around the world, with that in mind here is a quick breakdown of the standard vacation allowance (not counting standard holidays Federal/Provincial/State) in each Country I have worked in:

Canada: standard is 10 days, usually goes up to 15 days after about 5 years of service, depends on industry and company.

United States of America: Standard is 10 days, usually as with Canada after a certain number of years of service and/or experience this goes up to 15 days.

United Kingdom: Standard is 20 days. and it can go up with experience and years of service.

So with all that time, does everyone get to use it, can you use it?

from my own experience, with my current employer they encourage people to use their time off, and actually can penalize you if you have too much time accumulated without taking it, which is a great incentive to use it.

Previously it was a struggle with some of the roles I had, as in one role I could not take a real “vacation” as there was no one with the skill set to cover for my role available, so I had to be available in case something happened that they needed my support. I guess it comes with the territory in specialized IT skills.

While in the UK it was actually nice to have so much Vacation time. The problem I had was figuring out how to use it all. which I never really did.

So what are you doing for Vacation?

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