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October 2016

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What to look for in Discreet Investigation services?

Do you believe your partner is cheating on you? Are you worried about cat-fishing? Did someone disappear with your money?

These are all good reasons to hire a private investigator — someone who can quietly ask questions and discover hidden secrets, all the while maintaining a professional and confidential approach.

Before learning about Discreet Investigations & Security Ltd, the only thing I knew about the private investigations industry came from the movies. I pictured a very cloak and dagger industry— people with trench coats following a potential “perp”, taking photos under the cover of the night, and digging through crates of documents in file folders. What I didn’t know is that there is little “cloak and dagger” activities involved in the real life private investigations service. In fact, according to James Glanville, the founder of Discreet Investigations & Security Ltd., you don’t want to hire a company that claims to be so.

The most important thing to remember when hiring a private investigations firm is to ensure the company is legitimate. To avoid “fly-by-night” companies, always ask to see their licenses and check to see if they are registered with the Ministry of Community Safety.

Discreet Investigations is one of the few fully licensed and registered private investigation firms in the Greater Toronto Area. What makes them unique is their up-front attitude. Glanville, who is a certified protection specialist and surveillance and counter surveillance expert, is the face of the operation. His information is blatantly posted on their website so that potential clients know exactly who they are dealing with.

Glanville is the reason why Discreet Investigations is so successful — he has over 27 years of experience in a variety of security fields, including firearm experience and tactical training, close protection specialists training by the U.S. Secret Service, and close quarters combat training, to name a few.

He also only staffs professionals — retired police and RCMP officers, accountants, and lawyers— people he can trust to do the job well. This concept of trust is incredibly important to Glanville. “It comes down to integrity. That’s what makes us different,” Glanville. “I only hire people who have a good track record. Trust is a big factor. “

The best part: confidentially is 100 per cent guaranteed. This is the reason why so many world leaders, royal families, CEOs, and professional athletes use Glanville’s company. There is a sense of truth, authenticity, and honesty about how they conduct business.

When choosing a private investigations firm, trust and professionalism has to be a top priority. Some of the services offered by Discreet Investigations include missing persons, fraud, background checks, and law firm support. They also have the skills to go undercover with the intention of finding incidents of theft or sexual harassment within a company. However, Glanville says a lot of their cases have to do with relationships, either cheating spouses or the “epidemic of online dating.”

The Internet has completely altered the profession. With the multitude of apps and websites out there, less people are providing information willingly and more people are vulnerable to fraud (or physically dangerous situations). But, Discreet Investigations has adapted, hiring people with knowledge of the intricacies of the web.

“Now, instead of old fashioned guys like me, we have to have people who can swab on the Internet, Facebook, and get into that cyber investigation,” he said. “Technology has changed, laws have changed, and Privacy Acts have changed.”

No matter the problem, Discreet Investigations is leading the way in the industry. A lot of people joke about becoming a private investigator, but it’s people like Glanville that prove how much work it is to maintain trust with his clients.

If you are looking for a private investigations firm, contact Discreet Investigations & Security Ltd by visiting their website or calling 647-975-0193 or emailing info@discreetinvestigations.ca.

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Woman of the Week: Julia Langer, CEO of TAF

The Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) is celebrating its 25th anniversary — and with that milestone comes an opportunity to expand its mandate to include the greater Hamilton area. TAF is an organization that looks for urban solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and while it focuses most of its efforts on Toronto, Julia Langer, CEO of TAF, knows that it’s time to expand.

“It’s about recognizing that opportunities for solving climate change are not limited to the 416.”

A self-described “perennial optimist”, Langer thinks Ontario and Toronto have won a lot of battles on the environmental front, but in the end they may be losing the war.

“It can be solved,” she said in an interview. “[Climate change can] get waylaid with a bunch of things along the way, whether its political will, lack of capital right now, short term versus long term priorities…It’s all about where we work and where we play — making sure that we can live and work in a way that is a low-carbon lifestyle.”

Langer always had an awareness of the environment, as well as a passion for life. When she was 10, her parents would discuss social and environmental issues, often bringing their daughter along with them to clean up Don River and dredge through the garbage. This mentality was passed on to Langer, who developed a keen interest in marine biology.

“I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau the Second,” she said.  However, Langer learned early on that she would most likely end up in a lab, and she was more interested in integrating science and policy. So, she transferred to the University of Toronto and continued her studies in toxicology there.

“Academic and scientific work is super important in highlighting and understanding problems, but it was a bit frustrating that academics don’t do policy reforms,” she said. Her attention was focused on taking information provided by these scientists and experts, and enacting positive change — something she has been able to do rather successfully throughout her illustrious career.

After university, Langer landed a number of summer jobs, including a position in James Bradly’s office, the minister of environment at the time. Her work involved providing policy analysis and advice on files involving toxins, pesticides, and sewage treatments, among other things. She went on to work for Friends of the Earth in Ottawa and was hired by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) working with the toxicology program, where she was eventually promoted to Director of the Cuba EcoRegional Program. She also spearheaded the WWF Climate Change program.

At TAF, Langer has a wide portfolio. She is responsible for managing campaigns, defining strategy, working on policy, and communicating with the public about pollution and greenhouse gas reduction. Recently, she has spoken at a number of town halls about the impact of climate change.

While others may see this portfolio as daunting, Langer speaks about it with great fervour.  It’s all about focusing on three main things Toronto (and the surrounding GTHA) needs to do to reduce its greenhouse emissions, she said: improve the energy efficiency of our economy, decarbonize our energy system, and make smart land use decisions.

Langer also co-founded Eco-Babes in Toronto, an organization that facilitates networking among women who work in the sustainability industry.  Once a month, women interested in the environment or in energy can meet up, ask for advice, exchange business cards, and usually enjoy a good glass of wine or pint of beer.

At the same time, Langer says the demographics in the environmental industry are pretty evenly matched. “A challenge in the environmental community isn’t gender, but diversity,” she said. “It hasn’t yet permeated into the staffing within the environmental community. I think it is changing, but it’s not there yet.”

When she isn’t working, Langer is an avid vegetable gardener and recent canning aficionado. “There is something satisfying about growing and making food, and packing it away like a squirrel,” she said with a laugh.  Beyond that, she is quite active. During the summer, she goes canoeing and hiking with her husband and daughter, passing on the tradition of environmental awareness, as it were.

Langer is reading Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Adult Onset.

FOR SALE: Stunning 4-bedroom home in Vaughan

Are you looking for a new home in a quiet neighbourhood in Vaughan, Ont.? Look no further. This beautiful two-story, 4-bedroom home on Windrose Court is in desperate need of a new owner. And it could be you!

The home is beautifully finished — with a large yard in the front and a brick-layered backyard. The kitchen is furnished with wooden cabinets, stainless steel appliances, and marble countertops. Wooden floors and clean tiling can be found throughout the house as well. Each bedroom and living space is equipped with a large window that allows natural light to encompass the space.

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Kitchen, Visual Listings
Sitting Area. Visual Listings.
Sitting Area. Visual Listings.

The neighbourhood has everything: parks, grocery stores, coffee shops, golf course, and recreation centres. It’s perfect for a family looking to get away from the hectic city, but still maintain an important sense of community.

The asking price is $1.5 million. Take a look at this virtual tour of 107 Windrose Court for more information. If interested, please contact Nicolas Scorza, Sales Representative for Vanguard Realty Brokerage Corp at 905-856-8111 / 647-638-7872 or by email, nscorza@trebnet.com.

 

Pumpkin vegan cheesecake without fake cream cheese

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

At every Thanksgiving dinner since I was a child, my mom made pumpkin cheesecake. It was always a hit at family events and a creative twist to the classic pumpkin pie. When I decided to go vegan, I knew I wasn’t going to forfeit my annual cheesecake and set out to find the perfect vegan recipe. Here is my favourite vegan pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I make every year.

Crust:

  • Graham Crackers
  • Vegan Margarine

First off, keep the crust simple. If you try and attempt a complicated crust, it will take forever and there is always a lengthy list of items to make for Thanksgiving dinner as it is. Either purchase a vegan crust or simply use graham cracker crumbs. Crush them up and combine with vegan margarine or coconut oil. Press in a pan until a firm crust has been created.

Cheesecake:

  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice and cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg and ginger

For the cheesecake, most people use vegan cream cheese, but I prefer to keep it out of the cheesecake. Instead, I use raw cashews. Soak the cashews overnight prior to using them. Blend all of the ingredients together and pour into the pan on top of the crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool the cheesecake in the fridge for four to five hours and serve.

This cheesecake recipe is delicious and provides an extra protein kick for vegans. It also has the added benefit of being a healthier version of the original, while still tasting delicious. Enjoy!

What the hell happened to Nuit Blanche?

I remember the first time I went to Nuit Blanche. My sister and I headed out around 10 p.m. and stayed out until 2 a.m. wandering the streets of Toronto, taking a look and even taking part in some of the art. University Ave. was completely closed off and all of the exhibitions were placed on platforms outdoors. There were performance pieces, sculptures, photography galleries, and some really neat interactive installations. A few of the pieces were inside a few select buildings, but the majority was outside. Enjoying art under the stars — there is really nothing better.

As we made our way through the intense crowds, we were handed free samples of coffee or hot chocolate, pamphlets from sponsors, and a bunch of other goodies. There was live music and a few DJs, but mostly it was the atmosphere. All together, it seemed like an incredibly late night festival celebrating Toronto’s art community.

And I have to say I enjoyed it immensely.

This year, I left my house late at night hoping to experience something similar. And boy, was I disappointed.

I’m not sure if lack of funding was a factor, but there was very little that was good about this year’s Nuit Blanche. First of all, there was very little organization or signage. I managed to grab a map from a lone volunteer standing on a street by herself downtown, but aside from the rare volunteer and the odd Nuit Blanche square (it was an actual lighted square with a map and nothing else), there were no directions, arrows, or instructions as to how to find and/or enter each instalment.

Second of all — the lines!! If the point is to present art for the masses, this year’s Nuit Blanche failed. Most of the artwork was held inside, and therefore people had to line up to simply enter the building. Some of the interactive installations only let a dozen or so people in at a time.

The lines extended a few blocks and by the time I walked to the front to read the vague and artistic sign that explained what I would see if I decided to wait 45 min. outside in the cold, my mind was already made up. Like most people, I’m not willing to wait in line that long to see a few lights projected against a wall, no matter how modern it is.

The advantage of having art on the street rather than inside a building is that people can actually see it. There are no lines necessary. It also doesn’t make you feel as though you have to rush when you finally enter the building. I think in my total three hour Nuit Blanche experience, I only truly witnessed four or five installations.

And finally, there was no sense of community. Previous years, there were conversations about art, people spoke to one another, discussed what they were seeing, danced to the music, and celebrated Toronto’s culture.

The music, the atmosphere, it was all missing. Most of the time, I was left wondering: is this art or is this just a random group of people playing music dressed up as deer?

Sure, there were some really cool exhibits. “Pneuma” by Floria Sigismondi, a series of projections onto a steady stream of water being sprayed from the pool at Nathan Phillips Square, for example, was truly beautiful and mesmerizing Luzinterruptus’s Literature vs. Traffic was a treat for us book lovers and was quite the compelling installation.

But it wasn’t enough to warrant a whole night out. And by the end, I felt more exhausted than enlightened.

I realize that Nuit Blanche lost a significant amount of funding when Scotiabank pulled out, but if you are going to do it, make sure it is worth seeing. Because next year, some of us may not bother to show up.

Should I be jealous my husband watches porn?

Whether it’s behind your back, leaving a trail of computer history behind, or right next to you, he’s watching porn. Some women hate it; others don’t care. If your man’s porn fixations are getting under your skin, it’s time to face your feelings head on. Perhaps you’re burdened with questions buzzing in your brain, or worse, a closet full of insecurities bred from feeling upstaged by his favourite pornstar. Despite all this, you hide your jealousy because you don’t want to play porn police and rain on his boobie parade. Fortunately, you don’t have to feel this way.

Read through this question-answer guide to gain some clarity on your husband’s porn dependence.

Is it cheating?

The question of whether porn counts as cheating can be a confusing debate. The answer really depends on your personal definition of cheating. For some, cheating could be as simple as a small crush on a friend or co-worker, while for others, it’s being sexual or emotionally intimate with someone else. So, let’s say cheating can be understood as the latter, then no, watching porn is not cheating—unless he’s fallen in love with the porn star. Eek!

In simple terms, porn allows people to fantasize about spectacles that are not normally attainable in real life. Is this necessarily bad? Well, think about it this way: what’s the root cause of your jealousy? Is it the fact that his eyes and juices are shooting elsewhere or that it’s being directed at another woman? According to sex therapist Alina Palin, “most men do not necessarily watch porn for the women. Rather, the excitement comes from the super sexualized actions that the women are performing.”

Shane Panser, 31, agrees with this view. “When I watch porn, I don’t really care for what the girls look like. I just browse around for videos until I find one giving a crazy good BJ.”

Matt McMillen, a medical writer for Web MD, confirms this sentiment in his article, “Why Men Like Porn”, explaining that for most men, the reliance on porn is not grounded in a preference for another woman, but rather the rawness of the sex she’s performing. He says, “It’s not about what he’s not getting at home. It’s the novelty. It’s a turn-on.”

So, is porn cheating? All signs point to no.

What if it’s too hard core?

It’s common to worry about the type of porn your man watches and its level of intensity. Some types of porn can be pretty hard core, involving all the bells and whistles, from face-slapping degradation to frantic “juice” guzzling, topped with mascara running down the poor girl’s eyes. You get the picture. And all the while, the pornstar is loving it—so not realistic! Consider her size quadruple Z bust, big blonde hair and sky-high stilettos, a look that no regular grocery-running woman would ever wear. Clearly, it’s all just make-believe.

Many women think that their man’s favourite porn is a representation of his sexual desires for his relationship. It’s not. These videos are not real life—it’s pretend, separate from his intimacy with you. There’s also a good reason why he might keep these two realms apart. In the porn world, it can be thrilling to watch a woman get battered up by three schlongs, as distasteful as that may sound to some. However, with you, he can disconnect and compartmentalize his porn cravings, and appreciate your unique sexual dynamic on its own.

It’s not necessarily about being better or worse—it’s just something different, like enjoying a different spice. As explained in the men’s sex guide, featured by Intimate Village, men use porn to supplement and vary their sexual urges. So, while most women hope that their men’s porn appetites remain safely along the lines of low-rez lesbians and homemade videos by couples, realistically, many men enjoy much fiercer exploits.

Am I less desirable?

The true allure of porn for a man is rarely a negative reflection on his partner, says sex therapist Lonnie Barbach, PhD, in practice in San Francisco. “Some women feel threatened because they don’t think they’re as sexy as a porn star,” she says.

Yet, as previously mentioned, the seduction of porn is set in the sexual performance, not the actress’ looks. She could be gorgeous or plain—either way, he’s usually not imagining himself with her on a personal level, but rather enjoying the possibility of experiencing that pleasure.

According to sex and relationship specialist Luke Gilkerson, it’s really just part of a guy’s nature to just look at naked women in general. In turn, women should not personalize this behaviour, which is instinctive, as long as it’s kept respectively controlled within the confines of porn and not with another woman.

If you still feel that your man’s fantasies are alienating you from his sex life, you can always join in on the action. Together, you can role play or experiment, supplementing the experience with twosome toys, as R.Esco suggests in her article, “The Health Benefits of Sex.” Whichever way you fire it up, the main goal is to streamline his porn fetishes to align with your sexuality in a healthy and agreeable manner.

 

Like any habit that needs curbing, your jealousy can be easily diffused with the right attitude toward porn. Accept your husband’s porn as something natural and inevitable, but most importantly, never see it as your competition.

Fact: The cosmetics you use are probably still being tested on animals

When you put on your make-up in the morning, do you ever wonder whether it was tested on an animal first? Do you ever wonder if the mascara on your eyelashes or the gloss on your kips caused the deaths of thousands of rabbits and guinea pigs? Though the winds are changing, animal testing is still happening and we need to know why.

Animal testing is becoming less popular in Canada (but is still legal), however, it remains a mandatory practice in China for international cosmetics products such as those provided by Estee Lauder and MAC. This is despite the fact that animal testing in cosmetics has long been known as an unnecessary practice. Fortunately, there are people who are fighting to get the practice banned in Canada and around the world.

#BeCrueltyFree is a campaign that was launched by the Humane Society International (HSI) in 2012. “It is important to be cruelty-free because animals are suffering. It’s unnecessary. There are so many safe ingredients to use for testing and animals don’t need to be used any longer,”#BeCrueltyFree Campaign Manager Aviva Vetter says. “When we are raising awareness to ban animal testing in Canada, the first thing people say is ‘I thought that was done 20 years ago. Isn’t that done already?’” The European Union banned animal testing in 2013 and since then 34 countries have done so. Isn’t it Canada’s turn now?

In December 2015, Canadian Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen introduced the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, also known as Bill S-214. The bill would “prohibit animal testing and the sale of cosmetics developed or manufactured using cosmetic animal testing” and is about to launch into its second reading. Bill S-214 would mean that cosmetics currently in stores would have to abolish animal testing in order to sell in Canada.

China is one of the countries that has mandatory laws to test imported cosmetics. “Companies [of imported cosmetics] are required to submit finished product samples to the government for testing in a CFDA-recognized laboratory,” U.K #BeCrueltyFree Campaign Director Claire Mansfield says. “Once approved for sale, provincial authorities also conduct post-market inspections of cosmetic products, which can include a further layer of animal testing.”

What does all of this mean?

It means that any large cosmetics company that imports to China is testing on animals. It also means that any small brand owned by a parent cosmetics company that sells to China may not actually be cruelty-free. Estee-lauder, Lacome, Revlon, Clinque, MAC, Covergirl, Victoria’s Secret, and Alamy are some of many large-scale cosmetics companies that are currently selling in China — and testing on animals in order to do so.

When I last bought Mascara at Shopper’s Drug Mart, I was told that Smashbox was cruelty-free. I excitedly purchased their make-up and, when presented with this article, contact them with high expectations. Instead of an interview, I was offered a written statement.

“Yes, we live for lipstick and are serious about primers — but we also love animals. That’s why we are cruelty-free. We don’t test on animals, only volunteers. Nor do we sell in any countries that require animal testing by law,” a Smashbox spokesperson wrote.

That’s when I found out they were owned by Estee Lauder. Spokesperson Alexandra Traber explained that Estee Lauder “may still conduct or require animal testing by law of cosmetic products or ingredients to demonstrate safety” in countries where regulatory authorities require it.

“For example, before we are able to import any of our products into China, the Chinese government requires all importers of cosmetics, including us, to pay for animal testing that is conducted by a government-mandated laboratory in China,” she said. “As a global company, we are committed to providing our products and services to our consumers where they live, and we must comply with all legal requirements in the countries where we do business.”

Smashbox does not sell their product in China, but refused to elaborate on the particulars of their policy, which I found confusing. Is this true cruelty-free advocacy? Needless to say, my Smashbox mascara landed in the trash the next day, just to be safe.

Instead, I turned to a smaller grassroots business. Many cosmetics companies in Canada are already using cruelty-free practices and choose to comply with a standard known as Leaping Bunny. This animal coalition is made up of seven animal protection agencies in Canada and the United States, and certifies companies to ensure they aren’t testing on animals. The coalition has grown over the last 20 years to encompass over 800 cosmetic companies. There is also no cost for a company to become certified.

“If we are working with ingredients that are synthetic and dangerous for the earth and our bodies, why are we animal testing? Two wrongs don’t make a right,”says Milena Lye, owner of Leaping Bunny certified cosmetics company Just the Goods. “I sought out Leaping Bunny personally. I went to their website, and found it is actually easier than I thought to become involved. You document all of your suppliers, assuring that they don’t test on animals. . It is a 2-3 year period, and companies are spot-checked. I found about 80 per cent of suppliers are willing to be cruelty-free, no reason for it to be tested anymore.”

By purchasing cruelty-free and taking part in the #BeCrueltyFree campaign, you are supporting positive change for the way people treat animals. With various in-vitro alternatives to animal testing already available (and cheaper as well), banning animal-testing in places like Canada and China seems to be the only option.

I’m going home to get rid of all of my animal-tested cosmetics, are you?