BOOMERBROADcast

Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who rocked life in THE sixties.


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Hydro has some ‘splainin’ to do

As if I weren’t confused enough already by Ontario Hydro changing their name to Enersource, OPG, Hydro One or whatever, now they’ve gone and done it again! The geniuses who run What’s-its-name have now decided to call themselves Alectra Utilities. It surely has something to do with trying to escape the negative perception of their brand in the market, otherwise, would someone please explain to me why they’re doing it again. Perhaps it gives them more nefarious channels to use for hiding fiscal mismanagement and reaming their customers. I finally just managed to sort out my gas bill from my hydro bill. In case you have the same problem—my gas bill comes under the name Enercare and my hydro bill is called Enersource. I’m not a stupid person but I’m probably not the only one who had to write that down to keep them straight.

As a retired Marketing Manager for a major corporation ($2 billion in new work annually) I have a working grasp of the concept, practicalities and costs involved in changing a brand’s name and logo. Lard thunderin’ jeasus! What are these people doing? Apparently, it’s to amalgamate several company names under one banner. Could they not have thought of this in the first place? We’re all doing our laundry on Saturdays and Sundays or off-hours in the middle of the night, turning off lights and lowering our thermostats to conserve energy and costs while the fat cats at What’s-its-name spend like drunken sailors.

How many Hydro workers does it take to screw in a light bulb? It’s no joke.

We’ve all seen hydro workers in the field. They’re easily recognizable—one person working in a bucket at the top of a pole while six others stand around on the ground with a cup of Timmie’s double/double in their hands. I’m not suggesting this could be part of the reason our hydro bills are so high, or am I? A friend worked in middle management at What’s-its-name for several years and reaching a point when she could no longer stand to be part of an organization that has no concept of controlling overheads or of management accountability, she left. Her stories were horrifying for those of us who toiled in the private sector.

Then, this morning came the pièce de résistance. I received an email from a company called (in case you’re still following this) Alectra Utilities. It’s a customer survey wanting to know my opinion on their operations. I completed the survey which was interspersed with pages of graphs and charts which 98% of people won’t read. The questions are cleverly skewed to justify their excesses and mismanagement. Here’s an example:

Now? You’re asking ME?

Thinking about Enersource’s forecasted plan for replacing aging infrastructure, which of the following statements best represents your point of view?

  • Enersource should look at the long-term health of the system and proactively spend what is needed to ensure costs are spread out evenly over time – even if that means higher rates.
  • Enersource should spend only what is needed to maintain system reliability – even if that means from year to year there may be fluctuations in the rate of capital investment.
  • Enersource should focus on keeping rates as low as possible in the near-term and only spend the bare minimum on replacing aging infrastructure – even if that means higher replacement costs in the future.
  • Don’t know

Here’s a link to the full survey in case you’re interested: http://surveys.alectracustomerfeedback.com/SE/1/survey01/

Ding dong. This isn’t a customer survey. It’s propaganda—thinly veiled permission to continue feeding the fat cat and justify decisions that What’s-its-name’s managers are being paid the mega-bucks to make on our behalf. I ticked off “Don’t Know” for most of the answers because that’s their job, although if they were doing it in the private sector, they’d be fired. Ticking off those innocuous little boxes could never begin to accurately convey what this customer really thinks. As if anyone listens, or cares.

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Ivanka Trump. The real deal or deal me out?

Long before Donald Trump’s name rose from the swamp to become a contender for President of the United States, I was wowed by his daughter, Ivanka. Having watched her on a couple of talk shows and read her early book The Trump Card several years ago, I was impressed with the articulate, beautiful daughter of the real estate mogul. She won me over with comments that were critical of the sense of entitlement that was common among her contemporaries. She denounced the expectation of reward without working for it.

Ivanka Trump is a young, beautiful, intelligent working mother of three children. Educated and articulate, she projects sensibility in the midst of mayhem. One could say she moves serenely in the eye of the hurricane. Her vocal support of women’s business development programs and childcare issues is commendable but is our perception representative of the reality? Let’s face it, Ivanka is someone who may have been working for Daddy’s businesses when she was still in a training bra, MC’ing his beauty contests and walking around construction sites in designer jeans and jewelry, but she lives in a parallel universe. Her life is and never has been anything like what we mere mortals experience.

Ivanka Trump was defensive about her father’s track record on women’s issues.

I first experienced doubts about my faith in her when Donald Trump was campaigning. Ivanka appeared immune to the obvious examples of his shortcomings, the blatant lies, the sexism, racism and the incongruities. His cabinet choices of old, white rich guys speaks volumes. Understandably, she knows criticism is part of the package but she didn’t seem to be relaying these concerns to her father. Or, more likely, he wouldn’t listen.

She was invited by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be a guest panelist at the 2017 W20 Women’s Summit in Berlin recently. When called upon to comment on her father’s disregard for women and minorities, Ivanka understandably defended him by referring to his track record of promoting women within his own organization. The resulting hisses and boos from the audience knocked her off balance for a mere split second. Then, she switched into full-on offensive mode, disregarding the perception of the majority of women.

The truth is self-evident. Trump does not hold women in high regard with the possible exception of his exceptional daughter. Notwithstanding the position of power held by Kelley Anne Conway within his organization, Donald Trump’s track record is dismal and verifiable. My opinion of Ivanka dropped like a rock when I witnessed her reaction to the criticism. When I saw the horror on her face at the suggestion he was a misogynist and how she immediately slipped into her own fantasy-based world of daddy-worship, I was disappointed, to say the least. Perhaps I was naive in hoping she would acknowledge he needs to listen to the criticism and work on improving his attitude and behaviours.

Trump’s statement “no one in the world has more respect for women than I do” is meaningless. His lingo, always delivered in sweeping superlatives is not backed up by fact and affirmative action. I was hoping Ivanka would be the voice of reason whispering sense into the ear of an unreasonable man. What I saw was life viewed by a disillusioned woman on the other side of a gold-plated one-way mirror. And it doesn’t look good for all the other women who are on our side. If we can reach her, we can only hope she will reach him. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

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From this day forth, all male citizens will be circumcised

Imagine if Parliament passed a law that required every male in the country to be circumcised. Or, what if getting a vasectomy required the written permission of the local Catholic priest, regardless of your religion. What would the reaction be if every male in the country was forced to undergo a rectal exam before he was allowed buy condoms. As bizarre as this sounds, that’s exactly the kind of obstacles and unwarranted control over their bodies that women in the United States are now facing compliments of a reactionary, misogynistic government.

There are reasons the original fathers of the American constitution insisted on separation of church and state.  Removing funding from Planned Parenthood has eliminated access for millions of women to assistance in health-related services like breast and pap examinations, STD testing, birth control and other counseling. Students, low-income women and minorities are not the only beneficiaries of services related to women’s health and particular segments of the population are totally dependent on them.

It’s difficult for men to comprehend the challenges faced by women on many levels in everyday life. We cope with lower pay, gender discrimination and general lack of support for “women’s issues”. Many men are oblivious and it’s our responsibility to educate and inform the men in our lives about the importance of fairness and equality. I wish I’d been more vocal when I was younger. If I had, I would have made more money and had a much fatter pension plan waiting for me upon retirement. But, it’s still not too late to make our voices heard.

This won’t hurt a bit. Trust us. We know what’s best for you.

Fortunately, as a Canadian, I live in a more enlightened society. We take care of our sick through universal health care and are more progressive in recognition of women’s issues than our southern neighbours. Canadian women are able to access maternity and health care services our American sisters only dream of.  Perhaps they should start lobbying for reciprocal restrictions on males in health, economic and social issues. Many health plans reimburse men for the cost of Viagra but do not reimburse women for birth control pills. Imagine the backlash if men earned just seventy-six percent of what women made? How would they react to being told they had to get the approval of a fusty old doctor before they could father children or alternatively, choose not to father children. The threat of mutilation or something physically invasive happening to their little boy private parts might get the attention of the alpha neanderthals running the country. Only then will they truly understand what it feels like to have a third party have the final say on what happens to their body, i.e. to be a woman. Religious dogma notwithstanding, men as well as women are the beneficiaries of freedom. America’s founding fathers understood this, but unfortunately the current government can’t read.

Tracey Ullmann captures the essence of women’s struggles brilliantly.

If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll understand the imbalance when you watch this YouTube Video by British comedienne Tracey Ullmann. Click here.

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Living the Golden Girls’ reality

Communal living Golden Girls’-style has its advantages.

As Boomers approach retirement, we’re circling our wagons, in search of a landing pad that is functional, safe, fulfilling and sustainable. Some of us have branched off to follow children and grandchildren only to find they’re too busy with their own lives to have much room for us. Many of us are colonizing with like-minded fellow Boomers who share our interests, value system, taste in music and social activities. We’re moving into retirement bungalow communities or affordable condos with activity centres and handy amenities. These communities are, however, in short supply.

What makes us different from earlier generations is that we’re demanding more creative approaches to retirement accommodation. One of the reasons our parents are so reluctant to move from their suburban split-level is the lack of viable options. The housing market doesn’t offer many in-between choices for that couple of decades between the big family home and the restrictions and finality of a “retirement home”. My friend MaryAnne sent me a link to a recent article in the Toronto Star about a group of Boomer ladies in Port Perry, Ontario who are living *Golden Girls-style. Four retired women pooled their resources, bought a large Victorian home in a lovely community on Lake Scugog northeast of Toronto and had it customized so they could live independently yet cooperatively in a shared home.

Boomers want specific housing to fill that gap between the big suburban family home and the retirement home.

My own circle of Boomer friends has talked endlessly about communal living. Perhaps it’s a throwback to our idealistic hippie days from the sixties but more realistically it’s just plain practicality. Our families are busy with their own lives and we want the support and social interaction offered by our circle of friends while remaining independent. There are so many options in addition to the Port Perry Golden Girls’ model. The one that appeals to us the most is the “colony”—where we each have our own separate unit but are part of a cluster of similar units forming a pod of lifestyle-sharing retired Boomers. It could be linked or detached one-storey homes. Florida is brimming with this type of accommodation. It could be a multi-unit, two or three-storey condo-style building comprising six or eight units with two units per floor sharing a common elevator/stairwell corridor. That configuration would provide windows for light and ventilation on three sides of each unit.

Retirement accommodation doesn’t have to be expensive . . . but we do have certain expectations.

Land prices are becoming prohibitively too expensive to build cost-effective retirement communities in large cities like Toronto and Vancouver but smaller urban centres could greatly enrich their tax base by marketing to us. Smaller towns and cities should encourage developers to build what we’re looking for. We want access to health care, shopping, theatre, libraries and sports facilities. The baby boomer generation is a huge demographic. It’s a mystery to me why developers, communities and investors aren’t capitalizing on this opportunity by providing what we’re looking for. Build it and we will come. Just call me.

For more on this issue, click on:

Build it and Boomers will come

It pays to listen to Boomers

Can we afford to go on living?

Where will you be in twenty years?

Grandparenting Boomer-style

*Meet a new generation of golden girls

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The News. Was it good for you?

It's not hard to feel discouraged and helpless.

It’s not hard to feel discouraged and helpless.

Where do we draw the line between morbid curiosity and genuine concern? Each morning as I read the newspaper and then watch the news on television later in the evening, I find myself torn. On one hand I want to remain informed but on the other hand it’s making me feel ill. Watching the horror show on the American political scene is like driving past a fatal car accident. Should we just politely look away and drive on (after all, we’re Canadian and it’s not our problem) but we find ourselves wondering how two cars driving in the same direction on a sunny day on a straight stretch of double lane highway could possibly have created such a tragic mess.

Then, as I watched the news on television last night, they described a vicious racial attack on a young woman and her mother who were shopping at Hurontario and Dundas Streets in Mississauga, not far from my own home. The young woman, who had spent her entire life in Canada, was physically assaulted while verbal racial slurs were repeatedly shouted at her and her mother, traumatizing them both.

immigrants1Every single one of us is the product of immigration, regardless of whether we are white, brown, yellow or any variation of colour. Even our indigenous people once crossed the Bering Strait or the Pacific ocean to populate this continent. The Greater Toronto Area has tripled in size and prosperity since I moved here from small-town Ontario more than fifty years ago. We have immigrants to thank for fostering this growth by providing the human resources to run our farms, provide us with service workers, teachers, health care providers including doctors, scientists and technicians, for launching small and large businesses and for building a country of tolerance and acceptance.

I’m very concerned that the new order south of the border is bringing the haters, racists and extreme right wingers out into the light of day in our own country as well. The alarming new attitudes and policies being accepted as mainstream in the once-free United States is a cancer that must not allowed to take root. An extreme right Catholic television station is gaining traction and expanding in Ferndale, Michigan near Detroit. Their anti-gay, anti-climate change, anti-feminism, anti-Muslim message is within broadcasting distance. And thanks to the internet the spores of hate, intolerance and racism jump across the border and infect our own country

welcomeAs Canadians we can no longer politely look away and drive on. Much as I’m tempted to take one of my regular news sabbaticals, I realize I have a moral responsibility to no longer simply look away. We have to stop the car and provide assistance. While we may not be able to provide medical aid to the injured, we can redirect traffic and provide comfort to the victims. We can make it known that inaction is not an option. The racist policies launched in Nazi Germany began with subtle changes that quickly escalated while the German people opted to look away in the mistaken belief that they couldn’t do anything about it. Given to understand they were “making Germany great again” they soon forfeited their rights and the cancer ran rampant. Hate often stems from a lack of understanding. We have to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. Promote tolerance and understanding before it’s too late.

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If you love your pets you’ll read this

petfooledYesterday I watched a documentary film titled Pet Fooled about the dirty secrets of the pet food industry that confirmed my worst suspicions. Commercial pet food is not as advertised and we’re the victims of false advertising and misleading labeling, all with the approval of the FDA. Or, more appropriately, our pet dogs and cats are the helpless victims. Not long ago there was a recall of dehydrated chicken and duck cutlets that were being sold as healthy pet treats. After a great deal of public pressure and undeniable evidence, it was proven that these products were not one hundred percent chicken or duck as indicated on the packaging but in fact contained a number of deadly chemicals including melamine which is used in paint, laminate and other commercial inedible products. I personally know someone who lost their little Shihtzu dog whose kidneys failed after eating these treats. And these products are still on store shelves.

It’s not just treats. Most commercial pet food contains a shocking proportion of useless and in fact harmful, potentially lethal ingredients. Dogs and cats are genetically engineered to eat fresh meat and fish, just like wolves and big cats who lived in the wild for millenia. Most commercial dog and cat food including so-called high-end premium and organic brands is made up primarily of grains and animal by-products. Veterinarians receive their nutritional training from pet food companies which is like letting the fox loose in the hen-house; their only concern is the bottom line. Dogs’ and cats’ digestive systems are not designed to process carbohydrates and will suffer from obesity, cancers, skin disorders and diabetes as a result of being fed a diet high in carbohydrates, corn, wheat, soy, DHA and filler.

About thirty years ago I watched a program on television (60 Minutes or a similar program) that featured a veterinarian who was also a breeder of large dogs. She fed her dogs a diet of “top quality” premium commercial dog food, both dry and wet. Despite her best efforts at providing a healthy diet and trying various brands, her dogs suffered a variety of ailments including allergies, skin diseases and other problems. As soon as she took them completely off commercial dog foods and started serving them real meat she bought from the butcher, all their problems disappeared.

As beloved members of our family, our pets deserve the best.

As beloved members of our family, we want our pets to live long, healthy lives.

I never forgot that and subsequently, over the years I have always given all my dogs a lot of “people food” including real chicken, beef and other natural foods, being careful to not feed them corn or other grains. This goes against common advice from veterinarians who are trained by the pet food industry. When I mix real food with high quality commercial canned food purchased from my vet, my own dogs consistently carefully separate the canned dog food from the real chicken and beef and only eat the canned dog food if they are desperate. Dry kibble is the worst and cats should never be fed dry food; always add a lot of water if you insist on feeding your cats dry kibble. Remember, cats are naturally inclined to eat rodents, bones, blood and all. While we all appreciate the convenience of commercial pet food, be very discriminating about what you buy; research it and preferably restrict it. I am now feeding my dog primarily meat from our table.

Pet foods labelled “organic” are also a hoax. FDA documents specifically state that the designation “organic” may include rendered by-products, chemicals and specifically corn and other dangerous ingredients. Never, ever believe pet food package labeling. We know already to avoid pet food and treats from Asia but Made in U.S.A. or Made in Canada is no guarantee of safety or quality either. There are no practical controls over what goes into pet food and pet treats. End of story.

I couldn’t find a free copy of “Pet Fooled” on YouTube or even a copy on Netflix but it can be rented or purchased through Amazon and Amazon Prime or iTunes. I watched it at a showing by one of the members of our neighbourhood dog park community. The documentary includes a number of helpful websites that can be consulted for more information. I’m including a copy of an information sheet handed out at our meeting which will enable you to (after reading the ingredients on the package) calculate the percentage of carbohydrates in your pet’s food. This documentary is shocking but not surprising. Please watch it and take a stand against what the commercial pet food industry is passing off as healthy, organic and nutritious. Your pet’s life depends on it. The bottom line? DO NOT BELIEVE THE ADVERTISING OR PRODUCT LABELING. I urge you to share this information with other pet owners.

Having a sick pet is heartbreaking and often preventable.

Having a sick pet is heartbreaking and often preventable.

Here are links to some resources:

Pet Fooled Video on Amazon.com (rent or buy)

truthaboutpetfood.com

dogfoodanalysis.com

healthypets.mercola.com

pet-fooled

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5 reasons why Melania will never occupy The White House

If I smile, he said he'd pay my American Express bill.

If I smile, he said he’d pay my American Express bill.

Now that the inauguration festivities are over and President Trump no longer has to fake respect for family values (five children with three wives), First Lady Melania has retreated to her ivory tower in Manhattan, under the guise of being a “full-time” mother. After all, she does have her hands full with making all those wardrobe and accessory decisions while her only child is away all day at private school. But she’s not fooling anyone.

Here’s this Boomer Broad’s take on the real reasons we no longer see the presidential arm-candy around Washington:

      1. gloria2She’s busy packing his things and hauling them to the curb at Trump Tower, dancing around in her gold stiletto’s singing I Will Survive and I’m going to wash that man right out of my hair extensions, at the top of her lungs.
      2. Let’s face it, Ivanka will do a much better job of First-Ladying, having a wee bit of a brain and all.
      3. She got tired of all that orange hair and spray tan in the bathroom sink, and she no longer has to share her makeup.
      4. Her girlfriends on Fifth Avenue provide a much more realistic support system when it comes to making tough decisions about whether to wear the Valentino or the Dolce & Gabanna for her weekly trophy-wife support group lunches.
      5. Life in The White House might require doing some actual work such as pretending she enjoys hosting the King of Tonga or organizing the annual Easter egg hunt. Living away also means she doesn’t have to get behind a worthy cause such as anti-bullying (oops! bad choice) or mental health (sorry, not that one either).

trump2Maintaining security and housing the Secret Service in Trump Tower will conveniently provide a much-needed revenue stream for the financially challenged first family. Former Presidents’ wives have also been known to earn their keep by whispering common sense into the President’s ear when he needs a dose of reality. We’re hoping Ivanka will fulfill that role although her reality is not even remotely anything like that experienced by ordinary citizens. Not much hope there. And, his emperorship listens to reason from no one. So, all in all, having an AWOL first lady is not entirely a bad thing. Perhaps there is an upside to this administration after all. We will survive.

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