BOOMERBROADcast

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


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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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Are the fashion experts crazy or am I?

Boomers just wanna have fun with fashion too.

Call me a bitch but one of my favourite old lady past-times is sitting in my LaZgirl chair mocking and debunking the fashion advice I see on television and in many ‘women’s’ magazines. I love watching CITY TV’s CityLine as well as CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show and The Social. I truly enjoy those shows but lordy lordy, am I the only one who thinks much of their fashion advice is a lot of hooey? To their credit, many of the models and makeover candidates featured have normal (a.k.a. not stick thin) bodies which makes it easier for we mortals to relate to the fashion challenges presented, but, the ‘before’ pictures are sometimes better than the ‘after’.

The Marilyn Denis show. My favourite host and everyone’s girlfriend.

Peter Papapetrou and Alexis Honce on The Marilyn Denis Show are my favourite targets. Sometimes Papapetrou nails it, but most of the time the outfits he comes up with are jokingly inappropriate. I like Greta Monahan but much of her fashion advice is just plain weird. Last week she took a top-heavy, tall, solidly built woman who wanted to minimize her ample bust area and Monahan put her in a faux-fur vest. Granted, it was in a dark colour but wouldn’t a light-weight fabric have been more flattering? And what woman alive can tolerate the heat generated by spending the day in a fur vest unless you live above the sixty-nineth parallel? Tracey Moore’s fashions could be better. I love her clothing supplier, Freda’s, but her choices often miss the mark. And, I have to seriously question the sensibility of anyone who would be a fan of jumpsuits, which she is. Have you ever tried going to the bathroom in one of those things? I’ll spare you the details.

One of my biggest beefs is the choice of shoes with wide ankle straps on women with short, heavy legs. Then, the fashion experts compound the disaster by putting the ladies in flouncy skirts or dresses. Or, what about the short-waisted women they insist on outfitting in belted dresses or tops with the sad little belt peeking out two inches below the bustline? Much as I criticize Marilyn Denis’s inflexible choice of jeggings and maternity tops on nearly every show, at least she recognizes she has issues with her waistline and tries to accommodate it. Once in a while she opts for a skirt and shows off her gorgeous legs but she should do it more often. And I rarely see anything on The Social’s ladies that I would wear, but then I’m not their age. I do admire their courage though.

CityLine’s Lynn Spence can generally be counted on for good advice.

Lynn Spence is a generously proportioned woman and she understands the difficulties normal women have in trying to dress fashionably. Most of her choices are not too bad but often she seems to favour promoting the retailer more than the interests of fashion for real women. I miss Sandra Pittana. Her taste is more off-beat but always fun to watch. Lisa Rogers has a reasonable fashion sensibility and I generally enjoy most of her choices. Jessica Mulroney’s tastes lean toward styles geared to women who look like her—wisp-thin young working mothers who could wear a tea towel with a bit of string and look great. She shouldn’t have done whatever she did to her upper lip though.

When these so-called fashion experts have access to an entire mall full of clothing or even a single retailer, how can they make such dreadful choices. I’d love to have the resources they do. I find myself screaming at the television, “Is that the best you can do?”. And the fashion magazines are even worse. Where’s the inspiration for real women in a sea of anorexic teenage genetic flukes?

And while I’m ranting here, does anyone recognize that there’s a whole generation of women out there called Baby Boomers who are completely ignored as a potential target market? The majority of makeovers are new mothers returning to the workforce, looking to regain their business chic while coping with postpartum bodies. Boomers are a huge demographic with the time and the money to spend on fashion, not to mention the time to watch daytime television and cruise the malls after a ladies’ lunch. But who am I to criticize? Are the fashionistas living in some parallel universe that I don’t get or is it just me being a fashion-illiterate bitch?

It’s only because we care, sweetie dahlings. Just want to keep the economy rolling along.

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Tim Horton’s franchisees aiming for a shoot-out

I knew it. I just knew things would go south (literally) when Tim Hortons was taken over by American parent company Restaurant Brands International. RBI also owns Burger King and Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen. How can a company with holdings like those possibly understand what Timmie’s means to Canadian culture? When the takeover happened in 2014, I was concerned Timmie’s would lose its Canadian identity and become just another amorphous American fast-food chain. In fact, I blogged about the issue in September 2015. Click here to read Is Timmies still a Canadian cultural icon?

They were hoping because of our innate niceness we wouldn’t notice.

Well, it seems our sugar-coated chickens have come home to roost. Tim Hortons’ Canadian franchisees plan to launch a $500 million class action suit against the RBI American parent and its senior executives claiming that funds they contribute to marketing and sales have been diverted to other corporate coffers, like administration. Each Tim Hortons franchisee is required to pay 3.5% of their gross sales toward a fund to be used exclusively for marketing, sales and promotion. Basically, RBI’s bean counters and their bosses have been caught with their mitts in the donut jar and are getting their fat fingers slapped. Naturally, Sam Siddiqui, President of the Canadian Division denies the accusation. If they think they’re going to pull the toque over our eyes, they’re skating on thin ice.

As a frequent customer and fan of Timmie’s, I consider myself  bit of an expert on the issue, having already noticed a change. The very thing I was dreading came to pass. RBI totally disregarded our Canadian-ness. When was the last time you saw commercials on television of snotty nosed hockey-sweatered Canadian kids gathering at Timmie’s for hot chocolate after practice? Where did those heart-warming shots of our camouflage-clad Canadian soldiers lining up at a Tim Hortons outlet in Afghanistan go? Have you seen any commercials in the last couple of years of polite, multi-ethnic Canadians rolling up the rim on a Vancouver street or on Signal Hill in St. John’s? No? That’s because the RBI bean counters were covertly diverting franchisee’s money into American corporate coffers and hoping because of our innate Canadian politeness we wouldn’t make a fuss.

Am I the only one who thinks Timmie’s lineups are getting longer?

Yep! The lineups at the drive-thru have been getting longer thanks to staff cuts. They’re messing with the quality of the products and franchisees are being pressured to cut costs in order to sustain American executives’ bonuses. Well, that’s just plain un-Canadian and, sorry, we’re having none of it. We can play dirty too. Tim Horton’s franchisees have declared foul and I for one am proud of them. Nobody takes our good nature for granted, hoping we’ll be distracted by Trump’s softwood lumber threats and free trade war. We’re lacing up our skates, putting our best offensive line out on the ice and fighting for our own double double truly Canadian cup. We were hoping it wouldn’t come to this but the RBI Americans have crossed the blue line once too often and we’re calling a penalty. Team Canada is dropping the puck at centre ice and taking our shot. It’s going to be a barn burner.

P.S. July 13, 2017: The Toronto Star ran this article about the issue a couple of days ago: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-12/tim-hortons-operators-worry-chain-is-losing-its-canadian-culture

Click here to read Is Timmies still a Canadian cultural icon?

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Dear Mr. Gates: It’s me again, Lynda, for the umpteenth time

It’s getting harder for Boomers to keep up.

Obviously I’m directing my letters to the wrong person as Bill Gates hasn’t returned any of my emails. Dear I.T. God-in-heaven, whoever you are, I’m at my wit’s end. Trying to manage my I.T. issues is the single largest source of stress in my life (I know, relatively speaking I’m blessed, but still . . .).  You would think that after all these years, technology would be getting simpler not more complicated. I’m convinced my hair loss, weight gain and skin rashes are entirely the result of the stress from trying to resolve problems with my computer, my television and the internet, all of which are supposed to make my life better, not worse.

Yesterday I spent two and a half hours on the phone with Bell Canada because my internet and TV service died early in the morning. I lost count of the number of service reps I spoke to, repeating my simple story a thousand times to each one in succession while they fiddled with keyboards at their end, trying to avoid a service call to my house. Probably my first mistake was switching from satellite television to Fibe TV. Bell installed a new router over the weekend. Now I can’t find any of my favourite channels as Bell doesn’t deem it necessary to provide customers with a printed copy of the new channel guide. When I went on-line to print one out, my ‘search’ yielded nothing but sales pitches. I required the assistance of a telephone service representative to help me find the obscure little link on their website that lists the channels. Hallelujah! When I/we finally found the channel guide, I discovered that our wireless printers no longer recognize the new modem and no amount of fiddling I did with printer and computer configurations would fix it. I may never be able to print again because I don’t think I have the stamina required to sort it out.

My tech issues are making me into a crazy woman. Turning my cell phone on and off is a challenge. I’m never sure about whether it’s really on or off or the status of the battery life. Texting is out of the question so you can be sure I won’t be ‘swiping’ my phone to pay for things anytime soon. I’ve never figured out how to access free movies on Amazon Prime and navigating my new Fibe TV service is on the back burner for now. Fortunately I still have a landline and know how to use it, but I’ve never programmed in frequently-called numbers. I have mastered my microwave oven and can read library books on my iPad but that’s the extent of my technical ability.

I’m beginning to think it’s almost worth giving up retirement and going back to the workforce just to have the support of an I.T. Department with my technical questions. I accept that I will never be tech-savvy and I don’t expect to even keep up. All I want is to be able to function in the world without all the stress caused by my electronic devices. Tomorrow I’m going to pick up a new laptop as my old one barely chugs along these days. It’s slow; it wastes tons of my time waiting for things to open and it can barely handle everyday functions without me having to constantly re-boot. Give me strength. Better, still, more wine please. I’m going to need it.

Peace be with you.

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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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Mother Nature can be very unkind to Boomer women

What’s a girl to do?

This morning I tried on all my summer pants. It did not go well. Extensive therapy may be required, followed by copious quantities of wine, or more likely the other way around which doesn’t help the situation. At the very least, I’m looking at another extended spell at Weight Watchers. A recent essay in The Globe and Mail about the horror of trying on and buying a bathing suit (click here to read Is the perfect bathing suit possible?) resonated deeply. Writer Leslie Hill is sixty-seven years old and I could so empathize with her ongoing frustration to remain confident under duress. When you’re a Baby Boomer woman with a successful career behind you, no serious health issues, a network of amazing girlfriends and family who loves you, why are we still knocked off balance by our less-than-perfect (a.k.a. normal) bodies? Oprah Winfrey gets it. She’s admitted many times how she hates that her weight struggles have often superseded all her other massive successes in life.

Fashion inspiration for Boomers is hard to find. We like to look like we’re still on top of our game. When we look good we feel great.

There’s miniscule recognition of our demographic in fashion mags and it’s always with stick-thin models with glorious manes of thick silver hair. Who among us can relate to that? What’s a girl to do? Most of us stock pants in two (or even three) sizes to accommodate our good days and bad days. I’ve always had the best luck with the fit of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans NYDJ but even they wouldn’t button up this morning. We want to look the best we can, be fashionable and attractive without resorting to frumpy, uninspired “I’ve-given-up” pastel polyester with a forgiving elastic waist. Mother Nature is not making it easy.

Fifty-four-year-old French writer Sophie Fontanel has some excellent advice for women on how to achieve a personal style without slavishly following trends or the dictates of youth-centric fashion gurus. She suggests women our age concentrate on a look that’s not overtly sexy.  In an interview in Vogue, Fontanel recommends “Softness, gentleness, sense of humor”. To read her full interview 9 Steps to Style Superstardom in Vogue magazine, click here. Her own personal style would definitely not work for me but her message is inspirational.

In many ways we’re coping with aging better than earlier generations of women. We’ve embraced the magic of great hair colouring and styling. We are deft with makeup. We finally have the budget that allows us to purchase new clothes and accessories when we want. We keep fit, eat healthy and are intellectually curious. We know that when we look good we feel great so there’s payback. I refuse to shop for jeans at Shirley K Maternity to accommodate my Boomer waistline and I empathize with Ms. Hill’s Globe and Mail lament about buying a bathing suit. She’s braver than I am by even trying. We all know our figure faults and try to soldier on. Which means you may never see me in my white jeans this summer, and that’s probably a good thing. Or, more likely, I’ll go out and buy a larger size, specially engineered for my burgeoning waistline and for better or worse, strut my stuff, but with long tunic tops.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty!

Susan After 60 is one of my favourite go-to blog sites for Boomer fashion inspiration.

 

Click here for Susan After 60

 

Click here for 9 Steps to Style Superstardom

 

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