BOOMERBROADcast

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


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Never send your husband to the grocery store unsupervised. The sequel


Early cave men were traditionally known as hunter-gatherers, bringing home the wild bacon and mastodon steaks to feed their families after a rough day on the tundra. Their wives then took over roasting the kill over the family fire and kept the cave swept clean in case company came. Things haven’t changed much as I discovered this past week with the tundra now replaced by Real Canadian Superstore. It’s common knowledge among women (gained from years of experience) that men cannot be trusted in grocery stores. They take leave of their senses and the stupid gene kicks in. Before you can stop them they’ve loaded up the cart with giant bags of Cheesies, popcorn, Pub Mix, sugary fruit danishes and gallons of nutritionally questionable beverages.

I’ve written about this issue before (click here to read the original Never send your husband to the grocery store) and it’s obviously a genetic flaw that was passed down through the centuries and endures to this day. When medieval wives screamed that they had enough fermented mead beer already, hubby kept sneaking it in, stashing the barrels behind the pig pen and enjoying a flagon or two when mummy went to visit a girlfriend. Whenever I go away for a few days, I’ve no sooner turned the corner at the end of the street when my husband peels out of the driveway and heads to KFC, after which he and the dog blissfully survive on a bucket of greasy chicken bones and fries. By the time I get home, the recyclers have carted away the evidence.

Men have a different concept of healthy eating.

The hunter-gatherer reemerged this week. It was with a great deal of hesitation and reluctance that I asked my husband to pick up a pork tenderloin on the way home from golf. Sounds simple. There were four of us for dinner (the fourth does not eat meat) and I figured that would be a perfect amount to barbecue with a bit left over for the dog.

Along with the meat, in he came with a super-sized bag of Chicago popcorn, two giant bags of Brookside chocolate-covered blueberries, a bag of Kilimanjaro deluxe chocolate nut mix (“it’s the healthy kind with 70% cocoa”), two bags of ripple chips (“but they were on sale just inside the door”), a bottle of Italian salad dressing, a jar of extra spicy salsa and for good measure, a $20.00 lottery ticket. And, instead of getting a tenderloin, he’d bought an enormous full loin of pork that was so huge I could hardly lift it out of the bag. I really didn’t know pigs had loins that big. We have enough to feed mushu pork to all of mainland China for the rest of the year. After cutting it up, I bagged enough pork chops for fifteen (15) meals. My honey still isn’t quite sure what he did wrong and in fact is rather proud of himself. Needless to say, the dog is ecstatic.

If you haven’t seen it already, check out this hilarious YouTube video Don’t Send a Man to the Grocery Store from YouTube by Jeanne Robertson. Click here.

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In order to be truly proud, Canada still has work to do


The Canada Day 150 celebrations over the weekend prompted me to briefly relax my television news embargo. Hoping to see a lot of feel-good immigrant success stories (which I did), national coverage of patriotic local events (which there were) and a healthy dose of congratulatory video vignettes (tick that one off too), I tuned in. What I saw also reminded me of why I keep taking regular news sabbaticals.

The one issue that refuses to go away and deeply disturbs me is our government’s treatment of our indigenous people. Watching the mix-up around the installation of a teepee on Parliament Hill was unsettling. That was followed by a story about a group of bullying idiots throwing live fireworks into a group of indigenous women who had set up a peaceful camp to protest the industrial pollution of their source of drinking water. Another story highlighted the tragedy of forgotten murdered and abused indigenous women whose perpetrators were never caught and many of the women never found.

Surely, as a nation we can do better.

What is it going to take to sort out the problems with our native Canadians? The government has a tragic history of mismanaging the issue and there are struggles within the indigenous community itself. Let’s accept there is fault on both sides but the problems remain. Last year I read a moving book entitled “Invisible North” written by Alexandra Shimo, a young female journalist who moved into a northern native community. It paints a grim picture of life on a remote reserve. Basics such as clean drinking water and a supply of healthy food including fresh fruit and vegetables were scarce to non-existent and prohibitively expense in a community where most of the people are unemployed. Various make-work and entrepreneurial initiatives presented by local bands had been rejected by government authorities. Many communities have no local fire department which means over-crowded, small pre-fab bungalows quickly burn to the ground when there is a fire.

Prime Minister Trudeau seems to lend a sympathetic ear but what happens when he walks away from meetings with local bands? I suspect the government continues to drop the ball since the problems are compounding. Solutions are complicated but is asking for progress too much to ask? Is there not someone who can take this bull by the horns and start unraveling the problems and bring employment opportunities to these remote communities? Coal miners in Virginia are being trained to write and program computer code. Can this not be done for our indigenous Canadians? If call centres can be operated from places like India and the Philippines, why not on remote reserves? Norway has managed to build and operate successful greenhouses to grow local produce in Arctic climates. Can we not do the same?

I strongly recommend reading Invisible North. I honestly do not know what each of us as individuals can do to make the situation better but we do need to keep pressure on our government to stop dithering and start doing. Sympathetic handshakes and listening circles do not provide infrastructure for clean drinking water, health and safety services and access to decent food.  As Canadians, that’s the minimum we should expect from our elected leaders.

Click here to read earlier blog:  Better understanding the challenges of Native Canadians on reserves

To order Invisible North, The Search For Answers on a Troubled Reserve by Alexandra Shimo from Amazon, click here.

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10 Reasons I’m glad I’m Canadian


Canadian3In celebration of Canada Day I’m re-posting a piece I wrote in July 2014 about why I’m proud to be Canadian.

Watching the scary goings-on in the United States, the Middle East and other parts of the globe, it’s obvious the world is, never has been and probably never will be a peaceful place. There’s always an egocentric dictator or political group trying to make history by making trouble. These events constantly serve to remind me that we won the lottery being born in Canada. Here are just 10 of the reasons I’m so happy to be Canadian:

  1. Seasons. We have four of them and I love all of them, although winter, not so much. In the spring we watch nature come alive again when the snow and icespring2 disappear.  Trees explode in fragrant green leaves. Flowers appear through the wet soil and bloom until the snow falls at the end of the year. Summers are hot but serve to remind us how crappy and long Canadian winters can be if you’re not a skier. We boat, camp, swim in our lakes and rivers and soak up the warm sunshine in outdoor cafés in three of our seasons. And autumn smells like crunchy fallen leaves with unbelievably beautiful landscapes and crisp mornings. Then we dig out a whole new wardrobe of soft knits, saucy little jackets and sexy not-for-snow-boots.
  2. Democracy. Our government is not perfect but it’s far better than most places in the world. We have the right to criticize and should probably be more vocal in our criticisms but as Canadians we’re rather apathetic and polite. We get who we voted for and fortunately most of our leaders are reasonably decent.
  3. Manners. Canadians are known for our politeness and we generally treat each other with respect and kindness. We are a country of tolerant, considerate, law-abiding people.
  4. Tim Horton’s. Need I say more. Witness the unending lineups at any Tim Horton’s across the country. We love their coffee, their steeped tea, their drive-thru’s, canadian1their maple donuts and an atmosphere that welcomes seniors for early morning coffee talk, hockey teams for warm-up hot chocolate after a game, affordable lunches for workers on the run or just a nice place to sit and read the paper by yourself  or catch up on e-mails.
  5. Red Rose Tea. Their commercials used to say “only in Canada” and while I have seen it on American grocery shelves I don’t trust the exported blend. I’m pretty fussy about my tea and take a little Ziplok baggie of it with me when I travel. health1
  6. Universal health care. Thank you Tommy Douglas for getting the ball rolling on this one. Canadians do not have to mortgage their home or cash in retirement funds to get a hip replacement. Again, our system is not perfect, but we are all taken care of when we need medical attention. We believe in taking care of our fellow human beings.
  7. Multi-culturalism. As I look at the intolerance around the world, I’m so happy that I live in a country that embraces our differences. My multiculturalcity, Toronto has enjoyed so many benefits thanks to immigrants from other countries. Not only have these people fortified our workforce, they bring wonderful new foods, customs and colours to our society. We are multi-lingual and we admire our fellow Canadians’ command of different languages.
  8. Human Rights. Regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnic backgrounds or religious preferences, Canadians are tolerant and accepting of alternative lifestyles, as long as they are law-abiding and polite. We’re infinitely more tolerant than our American neighbours.
  9. Gun sensibility.  Most guns in Canada are handled only by law enforcement, hunters and collectors. The fact that a few bad guys have gunsthem too is a problem we’re working on. Thank heaven we have no “Second Amendment”.
  10. Good neighbours. We’re right next door to the United States who shares most of our values (except gun control and universal Canada ushealthcare). We’re good neighbours and get along well with each other ever since their failed attempt to invade and annex us in 1814 when we burned down The White House and the Capitol building. I’m pretty sure they’re probably not going to mess with our borders again.

Perhaps you have reasons of your own you’d like to add. One thing’s for sure, we definitely won the lottery, eh!

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Trump was right. Who knew it could be so complicated?


Sometimes, we just need the noise to stop. The Syrian crisis, the threat of nuclear war with North Korea, Putin’s crimes against humanity and the ongoing terrorist threats scare the crap out of me. Then, we have escalating trade wars, racism and climate change denial. Not to mention Trump’s lies and regressive new laws that completely disregard the ordinary person and the future of our planet. When the news starts I get a knot in my stomach so I turn off the television or radio. As I sit looking out my window into the yard watching the trees move gently in the breeze and the new flowers coming to life, listen to the birds, my mind melts into a more peaceful state.

Has the world really become so much more complicated or is my memory failing me?  In the swinging sixties while we were wearing mini-skirts, dancing the night away to Creedence Clearwater or worrying about whether “he would call”, there were still serious issues. We had the the horribly escalating Vietnam War, Bay of Pigs, Khrushchev, and of course, Richard Nixon. We were convinced the world was constantly on the brink of nuclear attack. Later on, Bush Jr. baffled us with his stupidity, lied to the world about false threats and sent innocent young members of the military to their unnecessary early deaths.

Since the beginning of time the world has been in state of turmoil and seemingly on the brink of some war or another. Catastrophic economic depressions in the seventies and to a more serious degree in the nineties wiped out financial security for large segments of the population. AIDS, SARS and other chronic diseases were front page news. Every so often I have to take a sabbatical from the news. Electronic media can simply be turned off. Reading print media requires I just skip over the bits I find distressing. Talking about issues with friends sometimes means changing the subject when we get too frustrated and angry about current events. Despite his stratospheric ego, Donald Trump doesn’t know much which is truly frightening. But the world is a complicated place and the further away I get from his noise the less complicated it becomes. That’s one thing I can do to make the world a better place, at least for me.

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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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