BOOMERBROADcast

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


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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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Who doesn’t love the circus?

circus2This is not about the new Trump administration, although they do share the elephant logo and are equally prone to bizarre acts of illusion and deception. It’s about the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey variety of circus, which will soon be phased out because the high costs of production could not be recouped in ticket sales. I may be in the minority but I am not disappointed to see the end of circuses. As a child, going to the circus was never a fun and magical day for me. The acrobats made me nervous and the clowns weren’t particularly funny. But the thing that upset me the most, in fact it made me feel ill, was the undignified treatment of the animals. It was heartbreaking to see lions and tigers penned up in small cages until it was their turn to be whipped into doing stupid tricks. Elephants being coerced from the time they were babies to perform undignified stunts in silly costumes for the amusement of the popcorn-eating public made me hate the entire spectacle.

I'll never understand how anyone can find this entertaining.

I’ll never understand how anyone can find this entertaining.

Cirque de Soleil occupies a slightly different position on the entertainment spectrum than animal acts. Like many other people, I have marveled at the performers’ seemingly impossible feats of athleticism in stunning costumes that dazzle and amaze. Cirque’s feats still make me nervous but they don’t evoke the kind of discomfort and even stress I felt watching old-time circus performers. The Barnum & Bailey promoters blamed the loss of elephants from their lineup as being the cause of diminished attendance but, who really knows? All I know is that the time for eliminating the use of animals for the entertainment of the ticket-buying public is long overdue. Hopefully, many zoos and marine parks will be next. There are more natural and dignified ways of protecting wildlife than putting them on display doing tricks for our amusement. We are not amused and the fact the circus is not coming to town is a cause for celebration.

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Better understand the challenges of Native Canadians on reserves

shimo1Sometimes we need to read a book that makes us feel uncomfortable and think about issues we don’t ordinarily confront. Such is the case with Invisible North, The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve by Alexandra Shimo. I first saw her interviewed on The Social on CTV and found her story fascinating. The Toronto journalist temporarily relocated to Kashechewan, a reserve in northern Ontario that was in the news in 2005 when it was revealed their eighteen hundred residents were facing a crisis with drinking water contaminated with e-coli. The drinking water problem was just the tip of the iceberg, as is the case with so many challenges facing Native Canadians living on remote reserves. Shimo’s research took her into areas darker and deeper than just tainted drinking water.

It’s common knowledge that life on many native reserves is difficult and troubled. This is manifested in social problems including drug and alcohol abuse, violence, unemployment rates running at eighty-five percent and extreme poverty. Non-natives and urbanites are tempted to naively speculate on the causes and solutions but we really have no first-hand experience with their living conditions and the regulations governing their existence. Shimo confronts these issues and in her well-researched and detailed account she explains the how’s, why’s, when’s and where’s that resulted in the current miasma. And the federal government has a lot to answer for.

An inept government agent decreed that Kashechewan be relocated to a flood plain west of James Bay. Consequently, residents' homes are flooded every spring.

An inept government agent decreed that Kashechewan be relocated to a flood plain just thirty-five feet above sea level, west of James Bay. Consequently, residents’ homes are flooded every spring.

Shimo describes the chronic shortage of nutritious, affordable food and understands first-hand why so many residents live on boxed mac and cheese and canned meat like Klik. When a small frozen pizza costs $30.00, a single head of cabbage is $12.89 or a dozen eggs are priced at $15.00, it’s no wonder people living on welfare of less than four hundred dollars a month cannot get enough to eat. Combine this with chronic overcrowding in dilapidated, poorly built homes, no job opportunities, lack of medical care, and the annual threat of their homes being flooded because that’s where the government planted the community, it’s understandable why there are high rates of abuse and suicide. While living on the reserve the author developed the same health and psychological problems as its residents but as a non-native she had the option of flying “home” for recovery.

As a result of reading this book I learned about how little control Native Canadians have over their own lives.. Even though reserve land is supposedly owned and managed by Indians, in fact it’s not. Reservations are considered crown land and subject to the whims and dictates of various government agents. Hence, the tragic and ill-conceived relocation of many communities such as Davis Inlet and Kashechewan. Hundreds of studies, reports and proposals over the years have resulted in great promises that never deliver.

Lacking the expertise to carry out repairs and maintenance necessary as well as no fire department to service homes in the community, fires are common and brutal.

Lacking the local expertise to carry out electrical and other repairs to homes, fires are frequent and brutal. And the community has no active fire department.

To her credit, Shimo doesn’t just present and sensationalize the problems. She details the myriad of ill-conceived government interventions and legislation that have undermined life for Native Canadians. We’re given a better understanding of how the situation developed and in her final chapter offers several suggestions on how each of us can help alleviate it. If no one has already sent this book to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and every cabinet minister then they should. It’s a sober and objective look at a situation that should not exist in a country as bountiful as Canada. At around two hundred pages (depending on the font size of your e-reader) it’s a fast read and more enlightening than you would imagine. Please read Invisible North. You’ll be glad you did.

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