Author Archives: redheartbluesign

About redheartbluesign

I think about things and occasionally write about what I think about. I am expanding my horizons beyond politics - though as a former Ontario PC Candidate, the politics will always be there.

Vacation State of Mind?

Vacation Alert

What is a vacation state of mind? What is an ‘away from work’ Zen moment feel like?

Do you detach completely? Is it an awareness there are something at work that you know will be waiting for you when you get back? To get your vacation state of mind do you leave town? Do you go off grid? Or does obtaining a vacation state of mind merely mean getting out of the office?

I have a week off, so I got out of dodge as they say, this week we’re in Thunder Bay. That does not mean I left everything behind. Give me two weeks away from the office and I will go stir crazy. To avoid that when we go away for two weeks, it better be in another city, town, somewhere that means the regular life trappings are not in my line of sight. Without somewhere to go, why take the time off? It is not an uncommon as you might think.

The benefits of taking vacation are well known; a reduction in stress helps relationships and a paid mental break from work. Are there benefits for the few that don’t want to take vacation? For those enjoy their work, vacation my just be an unwanted distraction from it. It is very difficult to find benefits to not taking vacation, but there are reasons why some workers will avoid it.

Count the reasons for vacation denial as being the fear of email inbox overload and increased assignments, the fear that another worker will take their job away, the fear that someone else doing their work will screw it up and it will have to be redone when they return.

A 2014 study in the US; Project: Time Off found 4 in 10 Americans did not take their vacation. Are Canadians any different? If you believe a study from Expedia .ca, Canadians only did a little better. Just over one in four Canadians did not take the vacation OR had a year between vacations (http://www.torontosun.com/2016/10/19/canadians-leave-31-million-vacation-days-unused-each-year-study ).

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Our work places are changing and work environments are also adjusting to be more competitive, hence the reluctance to get away from it all.   While most of Ontario is off on vacation for one or two weeks this July and August, Ontario MPPs are currently touring Ontario to discuss Bill 148, The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. Sadly, with 173 recommendations from a study that led to the legislation, the majority of press around this bill goes to one recommendation to increase in minimum wage to $15.00/hour by January 1, 2019.

Other aspects about workplaces including vacation, sick notes, emergency personal eleave, overtime and other aspects that will impact Ontario employers are going almost unnoticed. Much of what the Ontario government wants to implement are clauses that are normally negotiated between companies and unions. Is Kathleen Wynne now going to force non-union workplaces to have ‘union’ like workplace rules and atmospheres? Bill 148 will change workplaces in Ontario, but for the better?

Take some time to read about Bill 148, http://www.ceridian.ca/blog/2017/06/ontarios-employment-standards-act-reform-what-bill-148-may-mean-for-employers/ and then talke to your MPP and let them know what you like and don’t like about telling good employers how to run their shops.

Of course there are some bad employers Bill 148 will be awake up call for them – but to force union like rules on workplaces that are successful? The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act is something I would expect from the Ontario NDP…BUT the next Ontario General Election is less that 11 months away (June 2018), so yes I also expect this frm Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

A virtual walk in the snow

RHBS 172There is something to be said for walking away from something you enjoy. Not like Trudeau v1.0 and his walk through the snow on the second last day of February in 1984 (it was a leap year). I took a walk in my mind and made the decision on Friday to not post on social media for the weekend. It was surprisingly easy, but I was tempted.  We had a great weekend, I didn’t post on Twitter or Facebook at all about a Saturday at Lake Opinicon and the great music we heard.  However as difficult I thought it might be that day, it was quite easy and I focused on the music, the food, the beautiful surroundings in and around Chaffey’s Lock and the company of Liz, who posted a few photos on Facebook and Twitter.

I took a virtual walk in the snow after what I thought was a tough weak in social media. To those that say that I should have known what I was getting into because of the two topics I was posting about – it was the overall tone of the discussions of the day that took a toll, not so much what people what commented on after I posted. I think that many would agree that in Ottawa it was a perfect social media storm when the debates over the Ottawa Pride parade requesting the Ottawa Police not wear their uniforms in the parade collided with the Omar Khadr settlement rumours and then the government announcement.

The tone of the two conversations clashed and I burned out.

In the ashes was a weekend of feeling free, no pressure, no need to make a comment – only to read and see what other people say. It turned out to be an opportunity to see how others react, comment and rationalize on the two issues. Having eyes and not allowing your voice to be heard does permit for thought. There was no “I have to comment right away or else it’s old news” to worry about. I also saw that extreme comments and tweets were emotion over logic. The Khadr affair is clearly the best example of this – it should be, and I hope someone picks up on this, a separate lesson in the teaching plan of anyone that instructs students in the use and influence of social media. I see this being the pinnacle of a debate on the usefulness or the drudgery of Facebook and Twitter.

What lies ahead is still unknown, what I thought was going to be a weekend in virtual hiding was a weekend awakening and the thought provoking self-analysis of my own way I use my social media feeds. It have been ‘tempted’ to post on Instagram since Friday, but I had to be true to my self-declared sabbatical. I haven’t posted today (Monday) and haven’t had the burning desire to do so.

As a confession, I did post on my #RedHeartBlueLife blog (see link below) Sunday night but that’s it. I’ll post this blog – but I don’t see how this is the same as posting on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. My plan is to stick with it, the sabbatical, for the rest of this week.

I have vacation planned in Thunder Bay next week and then I’ll be travelling for work the week after in Western Canada. Those two weeks seem like they most certainly will be ‘Instagramable’ opportunities for me, lord knows I will want to be sharing it all. Maybe it will be baby steps, but for now it’s okay, I’m okay and I am okay with not being slayed by people who don’t know me because I have (in my mind) a logical opposing point of view.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Book Review: The ‘Red’ Kelly Story

Playing hockey in the National Hockey League and winning the Stanley Cup is the quintessential Canadian story of success. That is only when you win “the Cup” once. What do you call it when a boy from Simcoe/Port Dover Ontario plays for 20 years and wins the Stanley Cup eight times? You call it The ‘Red’ Kelly Story.

Hockey has changed over 100 years, a read of Stephen Harper’s A Great Game, Bobby Orr’s My Story or Wayne Gretzky’s 99: Stories of the Game demonstrate that evolution since the original six. In The Red Kelly Story, the doubling of the league following the Leaf’s Cup win in 1967 seems like eons ago compared to the recent expansion of the league with the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights.

red kellyLeonard ‘Red’ Kelly is the NHL’s original gentleman and winner of 8 Stanley Cups – that none were won with the Montreal Canadians is a testament to his ability to make a team better simply by stepping on the ice. There are few like him who as a player, team Captain, Coach and General Manager had the respect of almost everyone he played with and against.

But Kelly also knew what he stood for and took the consequences in stride. His banishment from Detroit following his decision to retire rather than to accept a trade to the New York Rangers is an example. Then GM Jack Adams and years later President Alex Delvecchio refused to retire his number 4. But for every instance of rejection there are dozens of rewards. His election to the Hockey Hall of Fame only two years after retiring for good and helping the Maple Leafs win their last Stanley Cup is recognition of his status in the NHL.

So consider what he accomplished and then add another full-time job to his duties that also included being a father of four. In 1962 he ran, at the request of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, and was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Toronto riding of York West, he was re-elected again 1963. He stepped down as the MP in 1965 following the debate and final vote creating a new Canadian flag.

The NHL was much simpler then with a fixed schedule which made it easier to be both in Ottawa on Parliament Hill and on the ice in Maple Leaf Gardens. In the three seasons he was serving in Ottawa, Kelly only missed 4 regular season games. Even Kelly was not aware of what the double duty was doing to him; he still dominated on the ice. Only going into the 1965-66 season when he was ‘only’ a hockey player was he able to see how being an MP had affected his game. Over a 20 year career as a player he only missed 64 games, and played 9 complete seasons.

However it’s also his post playing career that demonstrates his ability to understand the game and influence players to perform better. Through 10 years of coaching he made the playoffs, with teams that should not have been in them 8 times. Just as in his playing career where he missed the playoffs twice, he missed two post seasons coaching – one year, with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he was fired before the season ended. His coaching career is most memorable for the season of pyramid power while coaching the Maple Leafs during the 1976 playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers.

There is not a lot of controversy in the life of Red Kelly, but that’s okay. The Red Kelly Story is one of determination that had a successful career as a tobacco farmer in Simcoe Ontario, as a Hall of Famer in the NHL and to have a family where his success and dedication as a Parliamentarian and father has turned each of his children into being strong and dedicated people in their own careers.

At times it is good to read about a life that works out alright and makes it through the struggles we all may face. Red Kelly was no angel and was not handed anything without having a work ethic that had him earn all he has. We all don’t have stories like The Red Kelly Story, so it’s good to read one like it, if only to reinforce that hard word, faith and family have its rewards.

The Red Kelly Story is a hockey story that cannot be replicated.  Hockey today at 100 years is not the same as it was when the NHL was a young 30 years old in 1947 when Red Kelly broke into the league.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Our Canadian Identity

Canadian Identity

Who do you identify with, or rather what nation or country do you identify with? This was a big question as Canadians celebrated Canada’s 150th year of confederation this week.  This does not have to be the divisive question that it appears to have become.   What has become even more divisive are the ideas of “Canadian values”. In an unfortunate turn of events, the use of the term itself has become a negative value, where our Canadian values are used to divide rather then being seen as what brings people together. The term Canadian values should be retired, never to be used again – unless for intentional (negative) use against one particular political party.

Can we refer to what Canadians are/Canada is as ideals?

We can split the idea of a Canadian identity to who we are and who do we identify with. They will not always s be the same, nor should they; it may be a more truthful way of looking at ourselves in the Canadian mirror. For example, I am a second generation Dutch-Canadian. My parents arrived in Canada in the mid fifties in Montreal and headed to Hamilton where my mother’s brother Lex had settled after arriving years earlier in Canada from the Netherlands.  They later settled in the suburbs of Toronto first in Scarborough and then onto Mississauga where they reside today.  I am a Dutch Canadian, I cheer for both the Canadian and Dutch teams during the Olympics, World Cup and other international events. I subscribe to the twitter feed of the Dutch Prime Minister and receive their latest news in my inbox.

However, I identify with being a Canadian, I identify with the ideas that Canadians are fair, open-minded, friendly and accommodating. That is what I see from my perspective; there will be others who will not share this with me. Historically Canada has brought these ideals forward, but we also have not been so good, with good (but misdirected) intentions.   These ideals allow us to move ahead to make amends, apologize and act to correct our past actions.

Canada Day, Canada’s 150th, was a day where our past came face-to-face with our present and future. Protests from Canada’s First Nations on Parliament Hill highlighted that we have some way to go before all who identify with being Canadian, part Canadian or not a Canadian at all,  are content with how Canada as a nation represents them.

Our Prime Minister commented on Canada Day that new Canadians might feel more proud to be Canadian than those of us who were born here. I disagree and feel he misrepresented the pride of all Canadians. There were only few ‘Canadians’ here when Canada was first thought of, first as far away provinces of the Crown and then as a country on its own. As citizens of Canada, 97% of Canadians have roots that are not from here.  We all came from somewhere, French-Canadians, Dutch-Canadians, Italian-Canadians, Indo-Canadians and many more may not feel less of Canadian pride, but it has become who we are and our identity when we remember our past and relish the present and future.

We have a long way to go to recognize the contributions of our Inuit, Cree, Metis and other First Nations. We have a long road to travel to reach appeasement for the actions of previous governments. Nowhere though do Canadians as a whole feel we should not reconcile with our past – it is part of our open-mindedness to recognize that our future as a country lies in part with our history.

It’s our Canadian identity that makes it easy to see the path and who we are.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

Music Review: Bob Dylan in Ottawa

No longer do I need to have a Bob Dylan concert on a bucket list, if I had one.

After reading Robbie Robertson’s Testimony, my interest in Dylan was peaked, and during the show the musical ghosts of Robertson*, Helm, Manuel, Danko and Hudson* were on stage for me along with the crack band backing Dylan on this tour.

On tour in support of his newest 3 CD set, Triplicate, Dylan appeared to have fun with standards like Old Black Magic, Autumn Leaves and Stormy Weather. I was thank full to have Jim with me at this his 15th Dylan show telling me the titles of Dylan rollicking through classics like Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Duquesne Whistle and Highway 61 Revisited.

In a stage setting that reminded me of a ballroom, not unlike what Dylan would have played in with the Band in the 60’s and 70’s, the lighting was simple and suited the show. The lighting different in that all the lighting was directed from the rear of stage or the side, there was never any light on the faces of the band or Dylan. What we got was the iconic image of Bob Dylan’s silhouette of his head and hair from his Greatest Hits albums.

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My impressions of the show are much more than musical, they are of Dylan having fun, behind the piano for much of the show. I missed seeing him playing the guitar, that is the image I had of him in my head. Now I see a man playing the piano like someone who just discovered boogie-woogie, his feet dancing below while his fingers danced over the keyboard.

Dylan is not one for words and in Ottawa he did not speak a word to the audience, but his singing surprised me. I did not know what to expect, I had read and heard of a Dylan whose vocal range was limited at best. In Ottawa, Dylan’s gravel voice was pure Dylan, nothing more and nothing less – just Dylan and that was good for me.

With about a third of the set list from recent cover recordings, that left a lot of ground for him to get to for the rest of the 100-minute performance. While I did not know them before, Desolation Row and the final song of the night Ballad of a Thin Man were highlights along with the previously mentioned Highway 61 Revisited and Duquesne Whistle. The only disappointment was Blowing in the Wind, even Jim didn’t recognize the song  until we got to the course.

No photos or video were allowed, and if you were tempted and took either you would be escorted out as one gentleman beside me was. So, I have two images from last night, the one I took at the end of the night when the roadies hit the stage once the house lights went up, posted here. The other is of Bob Dylan in his white dinner jacket, one hand on his waist like Superman and the other holding his mic stand as he stood there looking out over his adoring and dedicated fans as if saying, ‘here I am, I have conquered Ottawa until my next visit here’.

Now I that I have seen Dylan live, there are too many other songs to hear him perform to say this will be my last Bob Dylan concert.

*Yes, they are still alive

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

How Trudeau blew his advantage 

Parliament rose for the summer on June 21, 2017. It was not the best of times for Justin Trudeau; it may have been the worst of times. It may have been the best of times he’ll have compared to what is coming up for him when the MP’s return to Ottawa on September 18, 2017. The reason? Andrew Scheer will be settled into his role as the leader of the Conservative opposition with a shadow cabinet he’ll select. A few weeks later after the return of the house, the NDP will also have a new leader in place to face off against Trudeau.

In my view the period leading from the election to the end of the current session of Parliament should have been clear sailing for the Liberals. They have the majority and what seems the platform the voters wanted and they had the good will of Canadians willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The biggest advantage the Liberals had for the 1st two years was that the leadership of the opposition parties in house at the start of the four-year mandate would not be the same when the election would come in 2019. Form the outset it seemed that there could be nothing to stop the Liberals. I don’t think they ever considered that they would be their own worst enemies.

Rather than get to work and pass the legislation they promised, what has Justin Trudeau done? They’ve backpedaled on their biggest election promise – election reform. The Liberals tried to change parliamentary procedure, not once but twice. Trudeau has been caught vacationing where he ought not to have, fundraised with rules he said on the campaign were unfair and transparent appointments turned to partisan nominations. All of this and more led to disruptions in the house by the opposition, extended attacks in Question Period, numerous votes to “have a speaker be heard”, endless amendments to government bills, filibusters in committee and motions that would take hours to vote on during midnight sittings in the House of Commons.

How could’ve all this happened? One word; underestimation. Trudeau and the Liberals underestimated that Rona Ambrose would rally and unite the Conservatives in opposition. Trudeau underestimated that Tom Mulcair would not go quietly.

While the Liberals underestimated the strength of the Conservatives, they returned to the opposition benches with 30+ new first time MPs who wouldn’t have the legacy of Stephan Harper to defend. The Liberals also got greedy; it caused them to ignore parliamentary tradition and try to ply their muscle at a time when it wasn’t needed. The muscle would be best saved for when both the NDP and Conservatives would be in the House with new leaders.

The first 199 sitting days of the Trudeau mandate were just the warm up for what is about to come. The Conservatives have Andrew Scheer honing his skills this summer as their leader and the NDP have five candidates vying to bring back the honour of Jack Layton (Read: Saving the House that Jack Built). Day 200 of Trudeau 2.0 will come September 18, 2017, that is the day that the real game of politics begins.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

Summer Music

I like to buy and listen to a lot of new music, always looking for something that is going to make my head swing, get my feet going and find a song that I have to put on repeat. On my iPod I have a playlist I titled “New and Noteworthy”. The past few weeks I have added few new selections to the playlist, they make up part of my summer music.

Buckingham/McVie “Buckingham/McVie”

For Fleetwood Mac fans do not confuse Buckingham/McVie with the 1973 Lp Buckingham/Nicks, but let me just say, if you a fan of Fleetwood Mac, this is a MUST have for you. It can be called, though it wasn’t, a reunion album for the band. The only person missing form performing is Stevie Nicks, but you don’t miss her. The sound on this album took me back to 1975’s Fleetwood Mac Lp, you know – the one BEFORE Rumours.

It is clear that the same musical chemistry that propelled Fleetwood Mac in the ‘70’s has not faded 40 years later. These two sound good together, the song writing is great with each contributing their own songs and collaborating on others. Key tracks on this disc are ‘Sleeping Around the Corner’, ‘Red Sun’, ‘Game of Pretend’ and ‘Feel About You’. The challenge is to shuffle Fleetwood Mac with Buckingham/McVie and try to differentiate the two.

With Fleetwood Mac touring this summer (with Stevie Nicks) you can bet the new Buckingham/McVie material will fit right in.

Fiest “Pleasure”

This CD was sadly, anything but a pleasure to listen to. I found it missing the melodies and musicality of her previous outings. I never expect to hear another ‘1-2-3-4’, but almost every track on this record is so far from it that it would be hard to recognize it as a Fiest record at all. “Pleasure “ is stripped down, and stripped down works for some artists, Johnny Cash is an example, but it doesn’t work for Fiest. It does not work for me because of Fiest vocals; they don’t match the raw guitars, the raw production and yes, the raw songs written for the records.

I heard Fiest interviewed by Tom Brown on CBC’s q; there she says that women will better understand this record. Maybe that’s it; I gave this record a few extra spins hoping the music would grow on me. I am disappointed that it didn’t – I really wanted to like this record, but I am not ready to give up on it either.

Ruth B “Safe Haven”

It took me forever to learn that it was Ruth B behind the song ‘Lost Boy’, only after seeing her perform the song at the Juno Awards did it click just how good the song was.. On that performance I went and purchased the EP “the Intro”, then “Safe Haven came out. Ruth B has an amazing voice and just might be the soul/r&b singer that Canada has been waiting for. In fact the comparisons to Alicia Keys are very much warranted.

Through Safe Haven, Ruth B surprises and presents a sound that may have been in the works for years. It is a maturity that could be equal to, yes – Alicia Keys. With key tracks like ‘Dandelions’, ‘World war 3’, ‘First Love’ and ‘Superficial Love’ make Safe Haven a Summer Album for me. I hope that you will also make it one of your summer listens for the summer of ’17.

Lorde “Melodrama”

With no new music planned from Taylor Swift (but that doesn’t mean something won’t drop before Christmas) Lorde’s follow up to the 2012 Heroine had the largest expectations of all of this years new music releases. Melodrama opens up with the lead single ‘Green Light’, one of the best songs I have heard all year. My worry was if it would be the best song on the album. With a percussion driven set of songs, Melodrama that will remind you of her debut, but in Melodrama I found myself on a few occasions thinking of Phil Collins and the trademark sound he had on his solo work. As different as each song is, each track also melts into the next, almost seamlessly. Lorde’s vocals are unique, her phrasing is unlike what we still don’t hear a lot of today, and yet it is still not tiring to listen to. Melodrama was a good surprise, bit of Heroine but also lots of growth over four years. It may not have a ‘Royals’, but it doesn’t need one.

Serena Ryder “Utopia”

I saw Serena Ryder last summer in Thunder Bay play off Lake Superior on an all-Canadian bill that also featured Gowan and Tom Cochrane. I have been listening to Serena Ryder since she released “If Your Memory Serves You Well” in 2006, and I learned about her from Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap on the CBC,  I’ve been listening since the early days of ‘Little bit of Red’, ‘Good Morning Starshine’ and ‘You were on My Mind’. 2012’s ‘Stompa’ was huge leap for Ryder and ‘Got Your Number’ was an early indication to me that she continuing the leap.

With Utopia, the evolution continues, Ryder’s song writing continues to grow and here the songs are personal, more than before, as she trusts herself more to lay out her life before us. Along with ‘number’, ‘Hands’, ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Sanctuary’ demonstrate what I think are some of Ryder’s’ best songs in years. Utopia as a destination is a high reach; musically for Serena Ryder, Utopia is a place we can hear a performer continue to grow.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.