BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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A patriot’s guide to shopping during a Canada-U.S. trade war


Macleans magazine’s Tom Yun has just published a summary of products we Canadians can purchase to offset the idiotic trade war launched by Donald Trump. While we may feel helpless in fighting back, we’re not. Here’s a summary of choices we can make to preserve Canadian business, excerpted from the article:

  • Buy French’s Ketchup manufactured in Leamington, Ontario, not American Heinz.
  • Buy J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe Rye distilled in Windsor, Ontario, not American bourbon from Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky.
  • Buy Minute Maid orange juice from Peterborough, Ontario (even though parent Coca-Cola is a U.S. company).
  • Buy Canadian-made sweets and candies like Coffee Crisp, KitKat and Smarties made in Toronto and Mars Maltesers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers and Mars Bars made in Newmarket, Ontario, Ferrero Rocher, Tic Tacs, and Kinder Surprise from Brantford, Ontario instead of Hersheys’ from Pennsylvania.
  • Buy Cascades toilet paper manufactured in Quebec and Ontario instead of Kimberley-Clark products from Pennsylvania.
  • Canadian Dairy products are always available and preferable to heavily government-subsidized American products from Paul Ryan’s state of Wisconsin.
  • Fresh produce from Canadian producers is now readily available across Canada. Read your labels to avoid American producers. Mexico is still acceptable.
  • Buy President’s Choice soy sauce brewed and packaged in Canada instead of Kikkoman from the U.S.

    Ford Edge. Made in Canada.

  • Buy Canadian-made maple syrup instead of imported syrup from Maine.
  • Buy Canadian-made automobiles and SUVs such as Honda CR-V and Civic made in Alliston, Ontario, Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica manufactured in Windsor, Ontario, Ford Edge, Flex and Lincoln MKT and Nautilus are Canadian-made. General Motors makes Cadillac STS, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Silverado, and Sierra pickup trucks are made in Oshawa. Toyota Corolla and Lexus RX are made in Cambridge, Ontario and the RAV4 is made in Woodstock, Ontario.
  • Choose Godin or Michael Heiden guitars crafted in La Patrie, Quebec and Vancouver, Sabian Cymbals from Meductic, New Brunswick.
  • CCM, Sher-Wood and Colt hockey sticks are still made in Canada
  • Sam Bats for wooden baseball bats manufactured in Carleton Place, Ontario

We can do it. Read labels. For a full transcript of the Macleans article by Tom Yun, here’s the link:

https://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/a-patriots-guide-to-shopping-during-a-canada-u-s-trade-war/


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The irony of drug marketing


The late Anthony Bourdain.

Last night I watched a series of programs about Anthony Bourdain on Gusto TV. During one episode in particular he spoke honestly about his entry into the world drug abuse, heroin in particular. He sat with a group of recovering addicts in Greenwood, a small town in Massachusetts plagued with the problems associated with opioid abuse. A local doctor explained how doctors freely prescribed Oxycontin and other pain-killers for everyday problems like sports injuries, getting wisdom teeth removed and back pain because the drug companies assured the doctors the meds were not addictive. When patients can no longer get legal pain-killers, they resort to street drugs and heroin. It’s a problem no longer limited to big city slums. Small towns are now victims of big-city drug abuse problems.

Nearly very commercial aired during this hour-long show was by a major pharmaceutical company promoting an assortment of remedies for real or imagined ailments. ‘Just ask your doctor’, followed by an exhaustive list of qualifiers. If you’ve ever watched television in the United States (not U.S. stations in Canada with substituted Canadian commercials) you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’ve counted up to 13 drug ads in a commercial break with 15 commercials on American television. Just an observation.


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Timmie, Timmie, Timmie. You’re just not getting it


Tim Hortons’ Canada President Sami Siddiqui and the bigwigs at Restaurant Brands International Inc. have blown it big-time. They’re now ranked 67th down from 13th position in Canada’s list of most trusted companies. They’ve been fighting with franchisees and employees about cuts to service and quality at Tim Hortons outlets and it has seriously hurt their stock prices and brand. The problem is they’re American and they just don’t get us. A few weeks ago I posted a piece about Timmie’s problems (click here to read Timmie Come Home. We miss you and we need you.)

Obviously Mr. Siddiqui didn’t read the email I sent him, which included a copy of my Boomerbroadcast.net posting. It would have saved such a lot of trouble and put Timmie back on the right track. The senior poobahs at Restaurant Brands International have decided that throwing millions of dollars at redecorating their restaurants will make the boo-boo go away. Sami—while new decor is a welcome gesture, it’s not that simple. You’re missing the entire point, which is (as I explained earlier): being a good corporate citizen and it’s about more than the bottom line. We are sure that bottom line would bounce back up if they treated their customers, employees and franchisees with more respect. Taking care of each other is the Canadian way.

An example of their seriously flawed approach to rebuilding the brand was perfectly displayed in their recent television commercials. The advertisers, with the consent and collaboration of Restaurant Brands’ execs launched a hugely laughable, large-production Hollywood-style commercial featuring employees in a highly choreographed song and dance routine that takes them from dancing and rolling around in coffee beans at the source to dancing around the restaurant floor. Noooooooo! On so many levels. That’s just so un-Canadian. And Timmie’s is all about being Canadian! Sheesh!

Sami. Sami. Sami. I’ll spell it out. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Provide employees with benefits. Don’t cheap out. Canadians take care of each other. It’s a matter of mutual respect.
  2. Stop those stupid Hollywood commercials. We like red mittens around mugs of quality coffee, steeped tea or hot chocolate, filmed in places like Red Deer and Saint John.
  3. Bring back the quality. We’re willing to pay a few cents extra.
  4. Fix your business plan to incentivise franchisees to hire more staff. Those long waiting lines are killing us.
  5. Last and most important. TRY LISTENING TO YOUR TIM HORTONS’ CANADIAN CUSTOMERS for a change. How many executives are busy punching numbers into their smart phone calculators trying to figure out how to cut costs while they completely ignore their entire raison d’être—the customer? Surely they taught you that basic fundamental at Harvard Business School? You are not omnipotent and if you don’t start treating us better you’ll be kicked out of the game.

Just in case Sami’s gate keeper doesn’t pass this along, perhaps you could forward it too. Maybe if a few of us CUSTOMERS screamed at him, they would listen. It’s worth a try. We really want our old Timmie’s back.

Here’s a link to their customer service department. Due to space limitations, I’d suggest copying an excerpt from this posting or this link to boomerbroadcast.net and sending to the attention of Sam Siddiqui at: http://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/about/contact-comments.php

Here’s the link for: Timmie come home. We miss you and we need you.

P.S. Did you know Tim Hortons coffee cups are NOT recycleable because they’re lined with wax? That can’t be good for our health. I didn’t know that until this week. Perhaps it’s better if you bring your own ceramic or insulated stainless steel reusable cup.


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In the world of television, everything old is new again


Remember when we only received three channels and we all watched the same television?

It seems inconceivable that with more than a thousand television channels we still can’t find something we like to watch. The inroads made by Netflix, specialized cable and streaming sources have expanded our options beyond our wildest imagination but there still seems to be a gap, something missing. Remember growing up in the fifties and sixties when we could only get three black and white channels and reception on two of them was so snowy we could barely watch them? So, the media experts are doing what soap company marketers have been doing successfully for more than a century—re-release a “new and improved” incarnation of the same old thing, the proven formula, but now with extra strength, power boosted or special additives.

Just as good second time around.

It started with the revival of Will & Grace which was soon followed by Roseanne. And now I hear there’s a remake in the works of Mad About You with Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt, and Murphy Brown with Candice Bergen. What to make of these remakes? Personally, I love the new Will & Grace for the same reasons I loved the original series. The writing, although a bit formulaic, is brilliant. The Jack and Karen characters played by Sean Hayes and Megan Mullaley are as sharp and outrageous as ever and could probably even carry their own show. Will is deftly played by Canadian Eric McCormack. Debra Messing’s Grace is still zany, albeit rather less appealing than first time around. But all in all, it works and I look forward to watching these characters every week.

The new Roseanne is slightly more political than the original.

What do you make of Roseanne? The new show is not under the complete control of Roseanne Barr as it was two decades ago, which in my opinion is a plus. More stable minds prevail. The show retains its original edge and attacks sensitive and timely issues faced by us ninety-nine percenters. The first couple of episodes packed a lot of material into the scripts to bring us up to speed and introduce us to the Connor’s new millenium challenges, which seemed a bit strained. Darlene is broke and with her sexually ambiguous son and defiant daughter has moved back home. D.J. (who’s had practically no lines this time around) has a bi-racial daughter and Becky is spinning her wheels going nowhere. Jackie fancies herself a life coach and is as irritatingly full of angst as ever. Dan and Roseanne represent the stable status quo. Imagine that! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Roseanne’s character soon sees the light concerning her support of Donald Trump. We’re hoping those saner minds referenced above kick in.

Rehashing old stories is not new. Movie remakes rarely have the same magic as the original but Hollywood keeps pumping them out in the absence of new material. Overboard, originally released more than thirty years ago with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell has been remade, although I haven’t seen the redo and not sure I want to. Unless you’re a fan of sci-fi, extra-terrestrial beings or blood and guts, you’re SOL when it comes to finding a good movie. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to find Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland’s The Leisure Seekers on Netflix, On-Demand or Amazon Prime. No luck.

I just wish I could figure out how to slash my monthly telecom bill enough to make watching what I want more affordable. An old boomer is screwed without a live-in grandchild to manage our on-line and computer issues. I diligently note upcoming movies or TV shows that might appeal to our demographic and then can never find them. The same thing happens with my car keys and my cell phone (which I rarely to never use).

Movies relevant to baby boomers are rare and impossible to find in local theatres. The excellent British releases are considered ‘foreign films’ and relegated to obscure subterranean theatres in inaccessible corners of downtown areas that boomers find inconvenient to find and get to. Or they never turn up on the streaming and other options. I have a whole list of movies and television shows that I can’t find anywhere.

Spare me. Please.

Cineplex shares have registered a six-year low thanks to poor box office sales. Imagine how that could be improved if movie makers recognized there’s an entire generation of baby boomers who love to go to the movies and aren’t fans of blood, violence and special effects. What if television and movie producers rediscovered baby boomers and once again recognized us as a viable demographic? Now that’s what I would call a legitimate revival and something I would definitely line up to buy into.

Back to the future

The Globe and Mail’s Barry Hertz recently described these 10 movies as “summer blockbusters everyone will see”.

Solo: A Star Wars Story: No explanation required.Image result for emoticons

Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom: No explanation required.Image result for emoticons

Incredibles 2: Disney film for children.Image result for emoticonsImage result for emoticons

Deadpool 2: R-rated superhero sequel.Image result for emoticons

Mission Impossible: Fallout: No explanation required.Image result for emoticons

Manhunt: Action flick with lots of bad guys.Image result for emoticons

Disobedience: Drama about same-sex relationship in ultra-orthodox Jewish community in London. “Foreign film”Image result for emoticons

Hereditary: Horror filmImage result for emoticons

Under The Silver Lake: Mystery about missing neighbourImage result for emoticons

The Wife: Another “foreign film” starring Glenn Close as betrayed woman.Image result for emoticons

Do any of these appeal to you? I might catch the Glenn Close one. I’ve been waiting all winter for The Book Club with Dianne Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenbergen. It’s been eight months since I’ve been to the movies because I can’t find one I like. And the movie theatres wonder why they’re going broke!! Just ask a baby boomer.


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Do you use plastic drinking straws?


Thin paper straws were once the only option available and we usually managed to chew the top off the straw before we were finished our drink.

I’m probably not the only person who never realized what a serious crime against the environment it is to use plastic drinking straws. As someone who sipped far too many after-school cherry Cokes through thin paper straws at Long’s Restaurant in the 50s and 60s, I was just happy to finally have a straw that wouldn’t disintegrate before I slurped up the last drops of my chocolate milkshake. We’ve now come to realize that those convenient plastic straws are killing wildlife and polluting the environment. What’s a person to do? The answer is simple; invest in some inexpensive, reusable stainless steel drinking straws. Stainless steel straws may not be practical for commercial use in restaurants or bars. I did receive a strong, heavy-duty paper straw for my Coke at a restaurant recently and it held up well. Paper is a renewable resource and recyclable so paper straws also make sense.

Drinking straws are a part of my daily routine which means I’m guilty of tossing a lot of plastic into the garbage. I sip water through a drinking straw throughout the day. When driving, I always have an insulated container of water in the cup holder of my console. I prefer to drink through a straw so I’m not obscuring my vision by tipping a cup up in front of my face while driving. Even when I’m sipping my Timmie’s steeped tea in the car I use a straw for the same reason. I do realize eating and drinking are not recommended while operating a vehicle but water, tea or Diet Coke are my preferred fuel while on the road, particularly on long trips.

The new me now uses a stainless steel drinking straw. This is the bent version.

Today I test-drove my first stainless steel drinking straw in my insulated cup of water and it worked great. Metal is, however, a conductor and the straw will be colder or hotter in your mouth than a plastic one, depending on the beverage you’re drinking. In fact, drinking Timmie’s tea through a stainless steel straw is probably safer than risking the possible carcinogenic effects of drinking a hot beverage through plastic.

I purchased a set of eight straws 10.5 inches long to accommodate a variety of beverage container sizes; four of the straws were bent for easier use. They’re slightly narrower than most plastic straws but I didn’t want to get the really fat smoothie style. The package even contained two long, skinny brushes for cleaning. I ordered them on-line when I couldn’t find them in the store and they arrived the next day with my Amazon Prime service. I’m trying to do my bit to mitigate damage to the environment.

Click here for a link to Amazon if you would like to order 8 stainless steel drinking straws with cleaning brushes for only $14.99:

 

 


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What’s your take on the Facebook fiasco?


Mark Zuckerberg came prepared but he remains unaccountable.

We’ve all been following the back and forth about the ethics of Facebook and sanctity of the data they collect. If you’re like me, your response has probably been somewhat ambivalent—while I feel I have a minor stake in the issue, I’ll leave the solution to the geeks who are probably smarter than I am. Today I changed my mind. It happened while I was reading the accounts of Mark Zuckerberg’s well-rehearsed testimony to the United States Congress; I began to see the light.

It’s very rare that I post anything about my personal life on Facebook. I use it primarily as a platform to co-post my blog, BOOMERBROADcast.net, or perhaps share something about a particular social cause that I feel strongly about, like gun control or animal welfare. Otherwise you’ll see no pictures of me, my family, my lunch (except for that one time at Five Guys) or my vacations. That’s personal and anything along those lines that I care to share with specific friends, I feel more comfortable doing via email which has a greater level of privacy. I really don’t want the world knowing when I’m away from my home, on vacation or what my friends and grandchildren are up to—that’s their business to share as they wish.

I do, however, really enjoy following certain general information Facebook postings like the one about my hometown which features all sorts of historical photographs of days-gone-by. Wonderful memories. I also like to follow certain baby boomer fashion blogs and specific interest groups. Facebook definitely provides an amazing and wonderful service of filling a need but in the current climate an immense degree of discretion is required because we have no idea how our data is being mined and manipulated.

Be very very careful. You’re not the custodian of your personal data.

The recent American election tampering is not an anomaly; it’s the way of the world. I once ordered a black cardigan on-line through Amazon (another stalkable database) and now I’m forever inundated with ads and announcements of sales of sweaters. I’m a fan of on-line shopping; I just don’t like my preferences being shared without my permission so I spend a lot of time clicking on “Unsubscribe”. Sharing the fact I love Five Guys’ fries may seem innocuous but it could land me on some unethical mailing list or demographic study that I have no control over and did not consent to.

The way I see it, information that we post on Facebook should be treated the same way banks manage our personal account information. It should be private, sacred and inaccessible to anyone we do not wish to share the information with. Despite its so-called privacy settings, that’s currently not the reality. I wouldn’t want my bank selling details of my Visa purchases to interested third-parties for marketing purposes, and the way Facebook is currently set up, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Facebook should be our safe repository for personal information but it’s not and that’s just plain scary. 

I’m no longer ambivalent about Facebook, Amazon, Google and other on-line giants. Mark Zuckerberg and his gang have sold us down the road and made personal fortunes doing it. It is my strong contention that whatever we post on Facebook and other sites should remain in the vault unless they have my specific permission to do otherwise. Their business of making money by selling our personal data is just wrong and should be illegal. They’re a data bank for proprietary information and its contents should be treated accordingly—as personal and private.

Banks, television and radio are governed by strict federal regulations and codes of conduct. Giant media platforms like Facebook, Google and Amazon should be as well. Citizens are entitled to privacy and the law should guarantee that basic right. It’s time for some accountability and oversight. They’ve abused our trust.


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Timmie come home. We miss you and we need you.


Bring back the old Timmies we knew and loved.

We knew it would happen didn’t we? It was a predictable outcome when American/Brazilian-owned Restaurant Brands International (who also owns Burger King) bought Canadian icon Tim Hortons in 2015. When the Canadian-themed commercials disappeared from our televisions, so did the level of service and quality of the products. It’s now strictly a numbers game for the big business that owns Timmies.

I may be going out on a limb here but I’m pretty sure Canadians wouldn’t mind paying a few pennies more for their daily double-double and maple glazed donut to have them freshly made in-house and promptly served by happy people who receive benefits. We don’t ask much. After all, we’re Canadian. But the natives are restless and unless Tim Hortons takes drastic steps to improve service and quality of their products without penalizing their employees’ benefit plans, we could be screwed—by foreign owners. Oh, that it should come to this.

What can we do?

We hate to say “We told you so” but . . . customers are unhappy; franchisees are unhappy; employees are unhappy. Stock prices are going cold. Under American leadership, Timmies has lost its basic Canadian flavour, its essence. Being a good corporate citizen is about more than the bottom line and we are sure that bottom line would bounce back up if they treated their customers, employees and franchisees with more respect. Taking care of each other is the Canadian way.

Should we pass the toque and buy back what should still be ours? We could have bake sales (ironic!), get the Leafs to play a charity fund-raiser game (after all, do they really deserve to get paid for what they do?), get little kids in red mittens with donation boxes around their necks to stand in their skates outside Beer Stores, ask Justin and the missus to put on their Indian costumes and pray?

There has to be a way we can bring Tim Hortons home again. It’s our heritage, our right and should still be our Timmies. The CEOs in charge in 2015 should have never sold out and now all Canadians are paying the price. Get out the old handbook—the one that spells honour and flavour with a “U” and films its commercials in places like Grande Prairie and Chicoutimi—before the Yanks messed with our special formula, our secret recipe. We’re dyin’ here. We need to buy back our Timmies.

Here’s what I posted in 2015 when Restaurant Brands International took over:

Is Timmies still a Canadian cultural icon?

For better or worse?

For better or worse? No longer Canadian.

Canadian Baby Boomers remember the real Tim Horton—the handsome young hockey player who helped the Toronto Maple Leafs win four Stanley Cups back in the sixties. Tim Horton was killed in a tragic car crash in 1974 shortly after one of his entrepreneurial endeavours had just started up. Tim Hortons was originally just a system of franchised donut/coffee shops in Ontario and grew to become a national icon, representing everything Canadian. In fact, I think they should change their corporate colours to red and white.

Is there a Canadian alive who hasn’t at least once walked down the street with the iconic brown cup in hand? Over the years, customers have supplied the material for Timmie’s feel-good commercials showing young kids and parents getting into the car on freezing winter mornings to drive to the hockey rink; our soldiers enjoying Tim’s in faraway desert postings, and seniors meeting over a newspaper for an early morning assessment of the world situation at their local Tim Hortons.

The upside. Mmmmm.

The upside. Mmmmm!

When American-owned Restaurant Brands International (owner of Burger King) purchased Tim Hortons, Canadians were collectively horrified, nervous and skeptical that our national identity would continue being treated with the respect it had earned over several decades. I think enough time has elapsed now that we can make a fair evaluation. I haven’t really seen any major change in the quality or choice of food and beverages being offered. They offer menu items that are fast and affordable, with seasonal promotional treats. I am concerned, however, that they might diversify too much into fast food menu choices which are bound to affect the culture.

What I have noticed, however, is that the always-slow lineups are growing longer and slower. Where there would generally be eight or ten people ahead of me, there are now eighteen or twenty. I recently waited so long in a line at Tim Hortons on Mavis Road in Mississauga that my roots need retouching. If there’s a lineup of cars extending down the street waiting for the drive-thru, I often opt to park the car and line up inside only to find that the drive-thru is still moving faster. I do miss those feel-good Canucky commercials though. Please tell me they’re not using an American ad agency now too. Where are the scenes of red maple leaf mittens hugging a hot chocolate, the maple donuts, all the pedestrians cradling a cup of Tim Hortons as they make their way through daily life?

The downside of Tim Hortons - the #@$%^&$ lineups.

The downside of Tim Hortons,

the #@$%^&$ lineups.

While I am politely (like any good, true Canadian) waiting in the Timmies lineup for the seasons to change or my Canada Savings Bonds to mature, it gives me time to look around and appreciate the common denominator that brings every ethnicity together under that ubiquitous brown and cream-coloured logo every day. It’s a reminder to be thankful I’m living in the best country in the world where we don’t have to clutch our precious children and flee down railroad tracks, over mountains or cross seas in leaky boats to simply be safe while drinking our morning coffee or steeped tea. We are fortunate that we’re not living in refugee camps because our lives were at risk in the place we once called home.

Every single one of us now living in Canada is the product of an immigrant. The next time I’m tempted to become impatient with the lineups at Tim Hortons, I’ll stop and think about those millions of people lining up to flee terrorism in their own homelands who would give anything to be in my place. The fact that many Tim Hortons are owned, staffed and frequented by immigrants is a testament to our tradition of welcoming newcomers to our country. We can only hope that the world leaders will soon get their act together and come up with a solution that will allow these families to rebuild their lives in safe, new countries such as Canada, or better still, to live safely in their home country.

Maybe we should export Tim Hortons to the Middle East, invite opposing sides to sit down and talk over a steeped tea or dark roast with some Timbits, and perhaps they would see that we’re not so different after all. We can all get along. Under that iconic logo we’re polite to each other; no one’s packing a gun; we’re not ducking mortar shells, and we’re sharing warmth and friendliness in a place we all love. You can’t get more Canadian than that—unless we bring the Stanley cup back to Toronto. We can only hope.