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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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.


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Got a problem? Get an enemy.


It’s a page right out of The Handbook for Dictators. When you’re in deep doo-doo, find someone else to blame. It’s an effective distraction tactic as old as time itself. When you sleep in and are late for work, blame traffic. Stalin blamed the intelligentsia and packed them off to Siberian labour camps when things didn’t go his way. Hitler wrongly blamed the Jews and other minorities for all Germany’s problems. We know how tragically that turned out. During the Cold War, the United States blamed communism for the world’s ills. That rationale gave them the green light to invade foreign countries and impose their own political agenda on local populations. Failing at school? Blame the teacher (that one never worked particularly well for me). Can’t lose weight? Blame menopause—well, bad example because that one is actually true. The point is, find a scapegoat and push your agenda until your perceived enemies are kneecapped.

Donald Trump has seized on this principle with amazing tenacity. In the bizarro world, he has the Midas touch. Everything he touches turns to disaster. So he blames fake news. He blames Mexico, China and Canada. He blames the NFL, FBI and immigrants. Autocrats need fake enemies. In a further manifestation of this philosophy, Donald Trump has now set his sights on Amazon and in particular their use of the United States Postal Service who handles a large portion of their deliveries.

Someone has to explain this business case to me. I do not have an MBA. In fact I can barely calculate the tip in a restaurant so I’m not exactly the brightest light on the tree. But it seems to me that when a business attracts more paying customers, especially ones with the power of Amazon, the result is usually:

Amazon also creates thousands of jobs.

  • more business, which equals
  • more revenue to grow the business, which equals
  • more jobs created to support the business, which equals
  • more sales revenue, which equals
  • more profits, which equals
  • more taxes paid, which equals
  • more happy people

Except for Donald Trump. Do you suppose his beef with Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon has anything to do with the fact Bezos is a known critic of Trump? And this from the guy who said not paying taxes is just “smart business”.

Full disclosure here. I’m a big fan of Amazon. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t have an Amazon box arrive at my door—a book, an item of clothing or a kitchen gadget. I even took Warren Buffet’s advice and bought stock in a business I understand and have some knowledge of or experience with, which means I also own shares in Amazon. They were purchased as a long-term investment and I’m holding on to them. In fact with their market price now low, I’m tempted to buy even more shares because I believe in the business. They’re certainly not perfect corporate citizens but we have to accept progress while remaining cautious in our choices.

Working through the blame theory to its natural conclusion

The basic strategy of blaming others for our shortcomings is perhaps something I should investigate on a personal level. It certainly has advantages. That means the dairy industry’s marketing is responsible for my passion for butter pecan and black jack cherry ice-cream. That’s why I weigh more than I should. Not my fault. Martha Stewart set impossibly high standards for entertaining. That’s why I am incapable of making decent hors d’oeuvres and generally do not like cooking. Not my fault. Five Guys’ french fries? Probably laced with cocaine. Not my fault I’m addicted. Same thing with Tim Horton’s steeped tea and peanut butter cookies. Fake news and not my fault?

Hey—that was easy. Donald Trump is on to something. I’m sure he’s well aware of it and we can expect to see and hear a lot more ‘passing the blame’ as time goes on . . . and on . . . for nearly three more years. That should be all the time I need to convince myself that this approach is not fake news and my failings are not my fault. Will it work? What do you think?

Footnote to Mr. Jeff Bezos: Want to put Mr. Trump in his place? Locate your planned new Amazon distribution centre in Canada! Canada Post would be happy to work with you and your employees would get health care, work in a country that doesn’t worship guns and respects the hard work and contribution of immigrants.


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Guns . . . from killing accessories to fashion accessories


Every day when I put on my earrings, my watch and wedding ring, I slip a hammered stainless steel bangle on my right wrist with the serial number 17805 engraved on the side. That’s the serial number of the gun the metal in the bracelet came from. That’s my one small step toward helping eliminate guns from the civilian population. Canadians, fortunately and wisely do not share the Americans’ preoccupation with guns. We operate under the assumption that if only the good guys (police, military and qualified hunters) are allowed to have guns we don’t need guns to ‘protect our family’. It’s not easy to get a gun in Canada and the system generally works.

When I started blogging in 2013, one of my first posts was about a gun amnesty program started under then-Mayor Cory Booker (now Senator) of The City of Newark, New Jersey. Here’s an excerpt:

My kinda’ gun control

The City of Newark, New Jersey joined forces in 2012 with a jewelry designer to recycle the metals from guns collected during a paid gun amnesty program and seized during crimes to create bracelets and other jewelry made from steel and brass parts. Each bracelet has the serial number of the original gun inscribed on the piece. A portion of the profits produced from this program is returned to Newark to continue the program. The bracelets are available in three sizes for a custom fit and the one I bought fits perfectly. I currently have a steel one and plan to order a brass one as well.

In addition to bracelets, the organization has other jewelry and clothing.

In addition to bracelets, the organization has other jewelry and clothing.

The Caliber Foundation aims to offer support to victims and families of illegal gun violence.

When a community is affected by gun violence there are many unforeseen and unplanned-for expenses, in the worst cases; funerals, and for those lucky enough to survive there are; medical bills, wheelchair ramps, and lost income. Churches and community organizations struggle to meet these needs, just as the Caliber Collection™ creates opportunities for those who may never have walked the streets of Newark to participate in making the city a safer place, the Caliber Foundation connects anyone who donates with the organizations and people on the front lines of re-building lives one small act at a time.

Six Years Later . . .

It’s now 2018 and crime involving guns has only increased. The recent school shootings in Florida and similar acts of violence prompted me to revisit the site and see if the program is still in operation—and it is. The Caliber Foundation takes parts from guns seized at crime scenes and guns turned in by citizens and recycles the metal parts into unique jewelry. The proceeds are returned to the community and police organizations to assist in furthering the removal of guns from the streets and provide assistance for victims of gun violence.

When I originally posted this piece, I sent a copy to the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department suggesting they adopt a similar program, but received no reply or acknowledgement. Maybe we could all send it to them again as a suggestion they create a similar program. It may be a small step, but it’s one thing we can do to demonstrate our opposition to guns in society. I’ll make it easy. Copy this blog posting and forward it the Chief of Police. Here’s the link:

officeofthechief@torontopolice.on.ca

I’ve worn my bangle every day for the past five and a half years. Every time I put it on I think about the ongoing struggles with gun control. At the very least, check out the website to learn more about the program. I encourage you to think about purchasing a piece of jewelry or item of clothing to show your support. Here’s the link:

http://www.calibercollection.com/


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It’s March madness time again


For the benefit of new readers I’m reposting my annual March Madness message.

march-madnessPlease tell me I’m not the only person in the world who thought March Madness was about special annual retail sales—like Black Friday or Boxing Day. For weeks leading up to the big event and for the duration, I’ve been waiting for the flyers from my favourite retailers to arrive in my mailbox. With visions of bargain-priced sugar plums dancing in my head I couldn’t wait to hit the mall to stock up on half-price bras and underwear and my favourite jeans. Surely all the big cosmetics companies would be having extra-special promotions with yummy new shades of lipstick in their give-aways.

Excitement turned to disappointment when my husband gently explained that the “real meaning” of March Madness was about sports— the narrowing down of basketball teams competing for ranking in their respective cups—as in athletic. Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus, but not in March.


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Airlines versus animals . . . what to do?


Airlines maintain that companion animal privileges are getting out of hand.

Commercial airlines are raising a stink about the legitimacy of ‘companion’ animals being allowed in the cabin during flights. Pets and other animals are required to fly cargo unless special dispensation for passengers with medical conditions allows them to accompany their owners in the cabin. It’s become a touchy subject because so many people are abusing the privilege with negative consequences. Pets with bad manners are causing problems for flight crews and other passengers. Behaviours such as aggressiveness and soiling are marring the original good intentions of the policy. Pet owners are understandably stretching the rules rather than check their beloved pet with baggage. What’s the solution? Anyone who has ever tried to fly with a pet on a commercial airliner can attest to the multitude of problems involved.

Pets have to be really itty bitty and practically comatose to tolerate this for several hours.

Small pets that can be crated and stuffed into the six inches of foot space under the seat are allowed. But don’t try to open the cage door or unzip the top a bit to let the poor animal stick it’s cramped head out or you’ll be threatened with eviction. So you’re forced to listen to your pet whine (or worse) for several hours while they’re cramped under the seat. Sedation is a last resort and often results in unpleasant side effects. The alternative, checking your caged pet with the baggage in cargo is even more disturbing. It’s extremely stressful for both pets and their owners.

While I sympathize with the concerns of fellow passengers with allergies or asthma, as a pet owner I don’t see why the airline can’t sort out the problem. People will always want and need to travel with pets and something has to be done. I know space on airplanes is limited but couldn’t a bit of cabin space be designated to accommodate crated pets? Perhaps a special locker in the rear of the plane could be designed with shelves, like open luggage racks for stacking crates where owners could check on them and pets would not be subjected to being squished under seats or banished to dark, cold cargo spaces. Pet owners also pay fares for their pets to fly and they deserve to be treated like the paying passengers they are, not incidental baggage.

Why can’t they be transported in a special cabin area closer or visible to pet owners?

This week United Airlines stashed a puppy in the overhead bin despite protests by its owners and the animal died. The way airlines treat pets is long overdue for changes. Pets regularly get lost, ill, misdirected and sometimes die. I know many Canadians who winter in Florida and cannot fly back and forth because of concerns for flying with their dogs or cats. It doesn’t take a genius to come up with a workable solution. I’m just a simple pet owner who has suggested a simple solution. Are any of the airlines listening?

P.S. And while we’re at it, here’s the solution for abuse of excessive carry-on baggage. Make checked baggage free and charge for carry-on. It’s not that complicated.


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Goat yoga? Save your money


P.T. Barnum had a name for people like this.

You may or may not have heard of goat yoga. There are actual people paying real money to have a live goat walk on their backs. I’m not making this up. Advocates of this new form of therapy go to a farm or designated facility equipped with layers of straw or similar material on the floor (for obvious reasons) and play barnyard for an hour or two. Pictures of this latest exercise craze are popping up on television, in the newspapers and on internet news streams. It’s called goat yoga and is the latest fad in the world of sucking in the stupid consumer. I’m confident that anyone who would spend their hard-earned money to have a goat walk all over them also once owned a pet rock.

Who needs goats?

Proud owners of real pets, which may or may not include a goat, know that goat yoga is totally unnecessary. Dog owners who lie on the floor to do their Pilates or yoga know for a fact that dogs can always be counted on to do the job new-agers are paying goat-owners for. Just try doing the downward dog in your livingroom and see what your Labrador retriever will get up to. It’s called doing what comes naturally. They sniff your privates, try to climb on top of you and as much as possible generally attempt to become part of the game they think you’re playing. They have an entire repertoire of moves aimed at stealing kisses and trying to push you over.

Pets with benefits.

This same propensity for getting in your face and on your back is part of everyday life for pet owners who are generous enough to offer a spot of room on their bed for pets. We all know how it works. When we get a new puppy or kitten, we swear this time we won’t allow it on the bed. Then, during its first night in your home, you’re awakened by whining, whimpering and half-awake spectacles of a little body boinging up and down beside your face on your side of the bed. How can you not let them up for a snuggle?

Pets are engineered for loving. That’s why we get them. They provide it in spades and their way of showing it is by delivering a steady supply. Sleeping with pets is frowned on by many (I used to be one of them) until you experience the warmth and affection radiating from your dog or cat wedged against your spine while you sleep. Smaller pets also have a talent for wrapping themselves fascinator-style around your head which keeps your brains warm and functioning on cold winter nights. Not so much fun on hot summer nights, especially when you wind up with a tail in your mouth or ear. The other night I was a bit cold in the middle of the night and considered snuggling up against my honey to get warm. But the thought of rearranging our three-and-a-half pound Yorkie just seemed like too much trouble so I simply pulled the covers up closer and went back to sleep. Where are those hot flashes when we need them?

Our yoga partner and personal alarm clock.

Owning a pet also means you probably never need an alarm clock. Dogs and cats have built-in circadian clocks that chime at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. and demand instant attention. In our house, if we’re a bit slow to respond, our dog climbs on top of my husband, scaling his length like a tiny mountain goat (see . . . I told you goats are unnecessary). If he still doesn’t respond, she starts pulling the covers off, followed by licking his eyelids and cleaning his ears. This is usually enough to generate the desired result, but if not, we’re treated to an escalating symphony of growling followed by urgent barking.

So, if any new-agers are tempted to sign up for goat yoga, save your money. Give me a call and I’ll send my Yorkie over for a session. I also have friends who have cocker spaniels, Labrador retrievers and standard poodles if you’re feeling like a more extreme workout. I could even rustle up a Newfie if you’re into hot yoga. Satisfaction guaranteed. We’d be happy to let you experience life as we know it and no goats, long drives to the farm or allergy-inducing straw are involved. The lovin’ is just a bonus.