Category Archives: Life

My best laid plans for a vacation…

I am going in a different direction with this week’s post, mainly because I went in a different direction personally this week – I took a few days off work.  I had a few thing things that I had aimed to accomplish in my few days away from the ‘home office’, but even the ‘best laid plans’…you know how the saying goes.

For this short staycation, we planned to spend a day or two with the grandkids, J & J, as Mom was working, and Dad was away on a fishing trip in Northern Ontario. I wanted to get the podcast in good shape for a September launch and I has books I wanted to read.  It all seemed very doable.  All this would take place after one day of working to clear up some issues, this because the idea of taking some time off was late coming to me.  This would be the first vacation since our time in BC for a wedding which appeared in the post Y2KXX in April (and which I have chronicled for the book Not Cancelled: Canadian kindness in the face of COVID-19 from Wintertickle Press).

Our two day stay lasted four. We cooked, cleaned, continued the build of a LEGO research boat at a pace and attention span that a 7-year-old can give you.  We play ‘Lava’, this involves putting cushions on the floor and on the count from three you have to get off the floor (of lava) and get on a cushion before the lava gets you.  This game can go one for quite a while. Days were filled with games, an excursion to a water pad and many walks where we were chasing scooters and bikes.  We even squeezed in a shopping trip to Costco.  We just couldn’t leave but had to as I have a hair appointment late Friday afternoon.

The last 20 weeks has had me do so much, I’ve taken up a few things outside of working hours.  Here is a break down.

Since the end of March, I’ve read 6 book, 20 weeks for 6 books.  The bulk of that time, about 7 weeks was dedicated to reading Margaret Mitchell’s two volumes on WW1 and the Treaty that followed the war.  I read the books in the reverse order they were written, starting with “The war the ended peace” and then on to “1919’.  My reasoning was that “Peace” really outlined the issues that brought war on that would play a role in the treaty negotiations. This order of reading the books gave more ink to the Leaders of the UK, France, Germany and other nations.  It was insightful to read about these leaders and how things would play out in 1919.

I’ve started reading the Stephanie Patrick series of books written by Mark Burnell; I’ve read ‘The Rhythm Section’ and ‘Chameleon’ with “Genesis’ and ‘The Third Woman’ waiting to be opened. Liz has also been reading a lot, we don’t normally share books, but she insisted that I read ‘Where the Crawdad Sings’ by Delia Owen. I loved it!  Maybe I loved it too much as there were a few passages that just might have had a few teardrops dampen the pages.  I have also started reading the ‘Bones’ books written by Kathy Reich – this started due to the fact that Liz and I have been watching episodes of the TV show recorded from the CTV Drama channel. The shows are aired chronologically.  While we started late, we watched the end of the 12-year series and then immediately moved to episode one season one.  As of today, we’ve watched the first 5 seasons and the last 2.  We’re working through the series, but that’s how I turned to reading the books that the TV show has been based on. I’ve finished the first book “Deja Dead” and have another ready to go.  I’ve selected Adam Shoalts’ “A History of Canada in Ten Maps” is next on my reading list.

Hopefully you’ve read my post on my upcoming podcast, the good news is the test episode is complete I’m comfortable with the editing and now I’m writing new episodes.  I’ve been calling the podcast ‘Red Heart Blue Sign – The Podcast’, well now I have finally come up with the moniker for it, it is based on my years in Stratford.  I would spend hours talking with a friend about music and more in his record shop ‘Laughing Gnome Records’.  I am looking forward to sharing with you this new and exciting project. 

Musically, I’ve complied a new playlist called “60 years on” (a nod to Elton John) as a celebration of my 60thbirthday in September.  I have selected 59 songs representing the years 1960 to 2019.  There will be a 2020 song, I haven’t discovered or ‘felt’ which song from this year that should make the list.  I’ll be writing about this in the next few posts.

My song for 2019, “I Got You” by Olivia Lunney

Finally, this is post is number 297 of #RedHeartBlueSign, I’ll be posting the milestone 300th post written since I started the blog in October 2011 in a few weeks.  I don’t know what that will look like as a finished product, but I have a few ideas swirling around, I am just waiting for them to land.

Thank you for taking time to read #RedHeartBlueSign, stay safe, wash your hands and protect your social circles. If you feel you have symptoms of COVID-19 get tested.


The Boys and Girls are Back in Town

This weekend marked the return of the NHL and the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Other major league sports teams have already returned are or are making their plans to return.   COVID-19 interrupted the NHL and the NBA, it stalled the return of baseball.

Sports is a huge part of our of our pastimes, we argue over it, we come together is moments of celebration and we play sports together.  With the return of the NHL I invited a Humber College Radio Alumni to answer a few questions about his views on big league sports returning to our social circles.

Steve Kee is the host of the #Kee2Travel podcast, is the Director of External Communications at the Insurance Bureau of Canada – but more importantly for the purposes of #RedHeartBlueSign readers, he is a sports fans and a great observer of sports.  Steve lives and breathes Toronto sports.  I asked Steve five questions about the return to action of big-league sports.

The NHL, MLB, NBA are all coming back from a COVID induced break in the season.  Who has managed this the best, the worst and why?

Steve Kee: Baseball has been a joke.  Unnecessary travel is just a recipe for disaster.  I’ll be surprised if the season ends.   As for the best, I have to say the NHL.  They chose Canadian hubs – areas with fewer cases than any of the major markets in North America. 

Red Heart Blue Sign: Though I haven’t mentioned it, the MLS soccer has done a good job in their return.  I’ve read a lot about the National Women’s Soccer League, they just wrapped up well run ‘Challenge Cup Tournament”.  I agree with the comments about MLB, I have high hopes for the NHL ‘City Hub’ return to play.

What can North American sports leagues learn from European and English soccer leagues who have just wrapped up their seasons after pausing their seasons?

SK: Appropriate social distancing….no fans….and a commitment to safety.  Also, the European markets seemed to have a head start on the recovery from Covid, something we are just starting to see trend better here in North America. 

RHBS: They has a couple of situations that almost ended the comeback, but the teams and league prevailed.  Our North American leagues will need to diligent and strict with the teams and the players if any of the big three will have a successful season.

After the Stanley Cup is (hopefully) handed out in October when can we expect to see hockey back?  Will the league have to take a break until 2021?

SK: You can’t wait too long.  So, if the league is back December 15 is that enough time for those players who have competed to recover.  I imagine 2020-2021 will be a strange year with more injuries as a result of the starts and stops of this season. 

RHBS: Can the league afford to have a shortened season in 2021?  Don’t even get me started on the sham about the NHL Draft and a playoff team getting the #1 selection.

Then there will be football, how can the NFL or CFL possibly play in an empty stadium?

SK: They would dress the stadium like they have done for NHL and NBA.  You shoot football for what’s on the field.  I can see the NFL starting…because of the TV money…but can the CFL really justify these costs?

RHBS: It would be like the Argos playing The Rogers Centre (before BMP Field was built. 

Which sports league may be in danger of not surviving 2020-2021?

SK: Of any, the CFL could be the one to die.  They aren’t in the best of financial shape…period.

RHBS: I am I agreement here, if the CFL can’t pull off the planned Winnipeg hub city season this fall they are in trouble.  Best case scenario is the league taking a year off.  Worst is the league folds. If the CFL folds, does that mean the NFL can finally make a shot at a team in Toronto or Montreal?

Which Toronto team walks away with a championship this year?  The Leafs, the Raptors or the Blue Jays? 

SK: Optimist in me says all of the above.  Pessimist says better luck next year. 

RHBS: Of the Toronto pro teams, The Raptors have the best opportunity to win and recapture the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

My thanks to Steve for taking some time to assist with this week’s post.  You can follow Steve on Twitter and Instagram at @Steve_Kee.  If you love and miss travelling, follow Steve and his wife Cynthia on the #Kee2Travel podcast,

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, it is the 296th post I have written for the blog since October 2011! 

Stay safe, wash your hands and protect your social circles. 

Profiles of a possible (Conservative) Leader: Erin O’Toole

This is the third of four posts looking into the candidates running to replace Andrew Scheer as the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.  Last post I looked at Peter Mackay and in today’s post I’ll take a peak at former Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole.

Erin O’Toole

Three years ago, Erin O’Toole finished third to Andrew Scheer and Maxime Bernier for the party leadership.  Three years ago, was also a completely different campaign. Thirteen candidates were on the ballot.  Erin O’Toole was also my #1 choice on the ballot and like so many more my decision to place Andrew Scheer above Maxime Bernier on my ballot helped elect Scheer as the leader of the party.

What a different three years, one election and a pandemic make.  Erin O’Toole is back in the race to win the leadership.  This campaign seems so much different than in 2017.  In 2017 candidates were fighting a campaign on multiple – twelve – fronts, and the Conservative right was aligned with three solid candidates. You didn’t know where the next attack was coming from.  In 2020 the field is much smaller, and campaigns can focus on fewer fronts and target messages with greater accuracy.  

Because of these changes, the Erin O’Toole running in 2020 is different from the 2017 candidate.  The 2017 O’Toole campaign was a kinder and gentler candidate that candidate in 2020, but It makes sense.  O’Toole knows where he needs to focus his campaign, and it is focused right on Peter Mackay.

On the issues, O’Toole has been aggressive on China, Huawei and recently has taken on the United Nations wanting to reform the world institution. O’Toole says he will make sure Canada is a leader in global affairs, again not a country that comes third in a three-country race for two seats on the UN Security Council.  He’ll begin with the creation of CANZUK, an economic alliance with the UK, New Zealand and Australia.  O’Toole has also laid out an economic plan for Canada he’ll implement if elected as PM in the next election.

In 2020 it’s not a given that a right leading candidate will lead the party again.  Where does the values base of the party go?  O’Toole has been courting the supporters of Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan asking them to make him their number two selection on the ranked ballot.  He’s been talking about protecting rights and values that the Liberals want to have removed.  Being loyal to Andrew Scheer as a valued member of the Scheer Shadow Cabinet certainly will score points for Scheer supporters.

One requirement that could make him the winner is if party members want a sitting MP to become the next leader and to be able to join the Opposition as Leader in the House of Commons from day one of their leadership.  In this area the choices are O’Toole or rookie MP Derek Sloan – most party members would choose O’Toole if that were the number one criterion, however there is much more to consider. 

O’Toole has the knowledge, experience and the leadership for the party, he also has the support of 37 caucus members, but is that enough to make him look like the leader that party members want that will upend Trudeau in the next election?

To learn more about Erin and his plans for Canada and the Party if elected Leader visit

Thank you for taking to time to read this post, next and last in the series of four on the Party Leadership Candidates is Derek Sloan.

Stay safe, wash your hands and if you have a ballot for the CPC Leadership make sure you get it to the party before August 21st.


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

Profiles of a possible (Conservative) Leader: Peter Mackay

This is the second of two posts looking into the candidates running to replace Andrew Scheer as the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.  Last post I looked at Dr. Lewis and in today’s post I’ll look at former Minister and last Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada Peter Mackay.

Photo from Wounded Warriors

In 2017, Peter Mackay watched from the sidelines as 13 Conservatives vied for the leadership of the party he helped create, the Conservative Party of Canada.  In the years between deciding not to run in the 2015 election Peter Mackay has set his sights on Bay Street in Toronto and his family.  

As a co-founder of the present-day Conservative Party of Canada, Mackay did not run for the leadership and he did not endorse any candidate for the party leadership.

What is memorable about Mackay in this leadership race is what was said leading up to it, not during it.  In a post-election panel event, he spoke the words ‘stinking albatross’ when referring to the election results of October 21, 2019.  Was he wrong or was he right with those words? Perhaps that is what this leadership campaign is all about; the ability of the Conservative Party of Canada to form government and how the beliefs of a strong portion of the party base reflect the values and how Canadian voters see that.

As a co-founder of the present-day Conservative Party of Canada, Mackay did not run for the leadership and he did not endorse any candidate for the party leadership.

What is memorable about Mackay in this leadership race is what was said leading up to it, not during it.  In a post-election panel event, he spoke the words ‘stinking albatross’ when referring to the election results of October 21, 2019.  Was he wrong or was he right with those words? Perhaps that is what this leadership campaign is all about; the ability of the Conservative Party of Canada to form government and how the beliefs of a strong portion of the party base reflect the values and how Canadian voters see that.

Peter’s platform is conservative voter friendly, there isn’t a lot of controversy and it could be seen as something that swing voters could accept.  What his and other platforms lack would be a clearer environmental plan.  Voters rejected the Scheer environmental plan in the last election, I don’t know if Mackay thinks he could win a general election without a more substantial plan on the environment and climate change.  I would suspect Canadians and more importantly Liberals would emphasize that Conservatives haven’t learned from 2019 on this issue.  

He has one candidate he is focused on, former Cabinet colleague Erin O’Toole.  While he doesn’t appear to have reached out to the supporters (that I have noticed) of Leslyn Lewis or Derek Sloan, he does mention issues like the conscience right of medical practitioners not to assist in medically assisted deaths on his website. 

What Mackay should be worried about is second and third ballot support if he doesn’t have the numbers to win on a first ballot.  Mackay seems to have unwittingly taken on the burden that Maxime Bernier had in 2017, of not having enough down ballot support to take it all.

Unlike Bernier, Mackay does have something that perhaps Party members and Canadians want; a Leader they can support to defeat Justin Trudeau, a Conservative Leader that can earn the support centre-left voters that are tired of Trudeau his mistakes, his leaning into NDP policy and his personal ethics violations.

With Peter Mackay, Conservatives know who they may have as a leader of the party, it will be up to the members to decide if they like what they see.  I encourage you to visit before you complete your ballot and send it back to the party to make sure it arrives in Ottawa before August 21st

Thank you for taking a few minutes of your day for reading RHBS Post #293. Stay safe and healthy.  I will feature the next leadership candidate in this series with Erin O’Toole. 


My COVID projects – Part 2 – The Podcast

Rode Mini-USB Microphone and Marley Headphones

More than 100 days of COVID19 and I have listened to almost just as many podcast episodes.  I wrote in May on RHBS Post #286 about the podcasts that I have been listening to. If you missed it, “Watcha Listening to” can be found here:  In that post I provided a review of some podcasts that have grabbed my attention. Here I am today telling you about a podcast I am going to launch in the coming weeks.  I have decided to put out there for you Red Heart Blue Sign: The Podcast. 

Even before that post in May I have been putting together the pieces of what a podcast would sound like.  I have taken a few steps along the way.

The Equipment.  I purchased the equipment in May, I ordered it in April.  COVID must have had caused many people to want to start a Podcast as what I originally ordered was on backorder.  The supplier in Montreal called and made a few other suggestions that they could ship right away. What you see in the cover photo for this post is what I ordered, the Rode USB-Mini Microphone.  I decided on this model after watching a review on You Tube.  This choice may present limitations down the road, but for now I think It will be good.  I have a set of Sony headphones I’ve used for DJing that will work and Marley Headphones, the set in the photo, that I’ve been using during the testing. 

The Software. The choice of the Rode Mini USB microphone allowed me to plug and play very easily onto Garage Band on my MacBook Air.  Here as well I have watched some You Tube Tutorials on the basic use of Garage Band for podcasting.  Recording, editing, mix and saving the final product.  This week I’ve recorded a test episode, making sure I understood the processes of Garage Band.  Getting comfortable with the technical processes will take time.  I’m getting there and I am sure the final production value of the podcast will improve with each episode posted.

The Time.  Putting together the idea, concept and the test podcast have shown the time commitment needed for each episode of the podcast.  Unlike this blog where I may not know what I am going write about until I sit down and start clinking on the keyboard, the podcast will need to be planned out.  I am sure that a natural schedule will develop as the weeks go by, but before that a production schedule is needed and kept.  I’m confident that a natural schedule will develop as the weeks go by, but before that comes a production schedule is needed and kept.  An episode script or outline will have to be developed weeks ahead.  The production schedule has to be adhered to as will the schedule for posting the podcast.  I realize that in the beginning there can’t be any vacations form working on the podcast.  What this means to me is that wherever I go, so does the MacBook Air and the microphone.  I know that getting into the groove of having a weekly podcast is going to require adjustment and commitment.  I am looking forward to putting the podcasts out there for you.  

The Episodes.  Waiting for the equipment to arrive allowed me the time to start planning the episodes, coming up with an episode guide.  This is helping with the process of what RHBS: The Podcast will really be about.  I have developed 7 topics into podcast ideas.  As I was coming up with these episodes, it became clear to me that the podcast should become an extension of what this blog is about.  I know that some of the posts have not resonated with readers, but I also know what posts readers have really liked.  The podcast will give me the time I need to go deeper into the discussion of what have been successful blog posts. I’m pleased with how the first seven shows are going to sound.

Finally, I look you to, I’m interested in your thoughts, what do you want to listen to and when do you listen to podcasts?  Please email me at or DM me on Twitter at @RedHrtBlueSign.

As always, I appreciate the time you take for reading, look for episode 1 of Red Heart Blue Sign: The Podcast (or whatever it ends up being called) soon!  Stay safe.


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

How do you Protest?

This week’s post will cut close to the bone for many, but it comes after almost two weeks of protests around the world and closer to home in Canada and Ottawa.  Millions of Americans and 10’s of thousands of Canadians marched because of racism, police brutality and needless deaths.  One name was the centre of the protests this week, George Floyd.

Discarded Ottawa protest signs, photo by Danno Saunt-Videoman Ottawa

The Parliamentary Protective Services released a statement that more than 7,000 people protested with very little disturbance.  That number is very impressive, they gathered, marched went down on their collective knees in an organized demonstration against racism.  They shared a collective voice in silence in that act.

I have friends who march in the demonstrations and many others who don’t. There is a common thread through my circle of friends though, we know we can all do something to make change take place.

I have run for office three times, each time I did because I felt that it was the best way, I could form change – with policy and legislation.  The process of good policy and legislation is not difficult; listening is pivotal as is understanding why and how good policy can lead to effective legislation.  

Today I work to research, investigate and understand how a policy has been helpful or a hindrance.  That leads to new policy, questions to ask the experts and an opinion that will form a solution that will become legislation.  Understand, that the entire last sentence does not include the rigour of debate, counter opinions and disagreements that take place to form the what is hopefully a key to good public policy.  This is how I can be effective in having good public policy. 

I didn’t walk in the protest in Ottawa.  I posted once on social media, on #BlackoutTuesday, regarding the injustices of the death of George Floyd and racism. I’ve seen posts from social media influencers who have chosen to post often and others that have posted very little.  I read one post that suggested that just because they didn’t post on the issue that they didn’t agree or support that cause. I understood where that person was coming from when they posted it and I supported them by liking the post.

If your means of protesting is walking, carrying some very creative signs then I support you.  If you choose words to protest, choose them wisely, select words that can go miles to making change effective and good, for your positive message will go further than anything negative can.  If you chose silence, then make the silence effective by listening. If you choose to question, ask questions that help you understand.  If you make your protests personal, act in a way that creates good.  If you teach, show kindness and when you act, make your parents proud.

Our global village is gathering its voice asking for change, there may be more turbulence as the change comes and is eventually achieved.  The turbulence will come out of frustration because those that NEED to hear haven’t. 

We all have a voice, use it as you must; chant loudly, pray silently, ponder wisely and write with profoundness.

Thanks for reading and stay safe.


—Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

Great Expectations

April showers were once expected to bring May flowers but in 2020, April showers were to bring about May existence and expectations. 

We had expectations to be on our way out of COVID-19, we would be getting to thinking about getting back to work, planning summer camps and vacations.  For all the complications of the coronavirus, we had simple hopes – we wanted to get back to life.  As April became May and now May becomes June, do we really want to get back to normal?

The news of the last week and the actions of a few, have made the expectations we thought about for weeks erase pale to the important expectations that never went away.

The week started with the Canadian Parliament being ‘shuttered’ for another month, then the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) releasing a report on the state of Long-Term Care homes in Ontario and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter protest because of another needless death of a black American.

Thankfully the week ended with hope.

The COVID pandemic gives hope that we will finally act on the care we give our seniors in LTC residences. The report from the CAF was scathing in the treatment seniors are receiving, the report also created the chain reaction of a call for action.  All It took was for the army to come in to make governments sit up and notice. Ontario Premier Ford promised action; he acted quickly by taking provincial control of several private LTC homes and launching first a government inquiry and then an independent commission into the care and operations in LTC homes – finally, the action that families, unions and experts had wanted. Successive governments have responsibility for the state of these facilities, so now we have action that might bring hope the true expectations will come about in Ontario.  

In Minneapolis on the third Thursday in May, George Floyd died after being held down to the ground by a police officer; it was a needless death and once again put the spotlight on police and race relations.  In the case of death of George Floyd four white officers raised the voices of millions across the US and Canada.  Expectations that improvements would ever take place in how coloured Americans and Canadians are treated might have been exhausted had it not been for a 20 something Black American state that it was his generation that had to act now.  The generation of his parents tried and couldn’t affect change and the generation of young black Americans that will follow him deserve a better life and a chance at equality.   

I wonder how as a society we cannot find a way to erase the hatred towards our neighbours, co-workers and fellow citizens?

I’ll finish with an expectation of hope; Space Ex successfully launched after a weather delay stalled the count a few days earlier.  It marked the first launch of a spacecraft from American soil since 2011 when the Space Shuttle program ended.  Space Ex this weekend launched and docked with the International Space Station.  It will return to the earth and then the craft, amazingly will be used again.  The Falcon 9 Space Ex rocket heralds a new age of space travel for the USA which has announced a return to the moon by 2024.

What makes this so exciting is that it could start a new generation of technology for space travel that will make its way back to earth.  What we consider everyday at one time started as needed technology designed and made for space travel.  Some of these products include the Laptop Computer and Mouse; the ear thermometer, foil blankets and wireless headphones.  A list of 20 items is here on this NASA website:  Based on this list, I can’t wait to see what NASA (and Space Ex) come up with next!  The expectations are as far as going to the moon and back!

Thanks for reading and stay safe.


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

I stopped shaving – a COVID update

Like so many people, staying at home has The allowed many of us the opportunity to start projects, explore new ideas and go back rediscover old joys.

The sun during the “Golden Hour” hitting the tree tops along the Rideau Canal

Last week I stopped shaving, I’ll let you decide I this was a project, new idea or a rediscovery of an old joy.  However, that’s not the only thing that COVID has allowed me.

COVID has opened the door to a new opportunity.  On Friday May 22nd the book, “Not Cancelled, Canadian care mongering in the face of COVID-19” was released.  I was asked to be a part of this collection of stories that showed the care, love and nurturing of Canadians after COVID-19 caused most of our lives to come to a screaming halt.  Published by Wintertickle Press, stories from across Canada demonstrating the Canadian spirit.  Visit your local book shop in person or order the book online at and purchase a copy.  There is so much more, likely better, in the book than my 2000 words. 

If you read last week’s post, you’ll know I gave a list of podcasts that I have started listening to.  You haven’t read that post?  No worries, here is the link for you,  Out of our discovery of enjoyable podcasts, Liz and I discussed starting a podcast.  To want to do this is the easy part, “what” the podcast should be about is the real challenge.  It can be about so many things, but what is it I can talk about knowledgably that would make a credible podcast?    Recently I thought of turning the blog into a podcast, it has a broad spectrum of topics; books to music and politics.  Is that something we can pull off?  It certainly allows Liz the chance to contribute regularly, she is very smart, speaks well and has strong opinions – leaving her off the podcasts doesn’t serve the podcast well.  Stay tuned…more to come on this.

It’s taken a while, but I have started to pay attention to the Conservative Party Leadership contest.  My opinions on the race are mixed; I’m glad the party paused it but in the same breath I am frustrated that the party Leadership Committee didn’t give the candidates that preceded the party’s decision to suspend their campaigns because of COVID an extension to raise the money and memberships to make it onto the ballot.  I supported Rudy Husny, while I had a realistic view of his winning, he was a candidate that reflected my ideas of being a conservative and he would have been marked on my ballot. I also believe that MP Marilyn Gladu should have been given the same opportunity to reach the benchmarks after suspending her campaign because of the coronavirus.

There are four candidates that will be on the ballot.  As I write this, I do not have a candidate to fill that number one slot.  This contest has had errors and missteps from the frontrunners.  Of the perceived leading candidates, I have voted for both of them at one time for leader; Peter MacKay to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003 and Erin O’Toole in the 2017 Conservative Party leadership. 

I am now engaging in what the candidates are saying about leading the party.  I will not permit the negative campaigning be a part of my engagement.  The next few weeks as I wait for my ballot in the mail will be my time to hear from all four candidates (some more than others).  I have made one decision about my ballot; I will only be marking one name.  Realistically, with apologies for the 3rd and 4th persons on the ballot, my number two would become the next leader if my number one doesn’t get 50% +1.   I just have to confirm my #1.

One final thing…

Today I shaved, the facial growth provided some balance to the growing hair on top.  Now that balance is gone.

What are your new projects that COVID has opened the door to?  

One more final thing, this is post #301 of Red Heart Blue Sign. Thank you for giving me a few minutes of your day and supporting this blog since October 2011.


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

Whatcha Listening to?

listeningThe most oft asked question during this current period of isolation is either “have you watched anything good lately” or “what do you recommend watching?”  Let me add another question, “whatcha listening to?”

Now that we’re in the house for more hours than out of it we’ve turned our attention to podcasts.  I wanted, needed to get away from watching news all day. I wanted a podcast to be a diversion from mainstream media news outlets.  I was looking for different perspectives on the news of the day and more personal perspectives of the world today. I have found some podcasts that we listen to in the evening and that I enjoy while on a morning walk.  I get my podcasts from Google Podcasts but there are many sources to find these and other podcasts.

Here is some of what we are listening to now, I have provided a link to each of the podcasts listed below.

and another thingAnd Another Thing Podcast, featuring broadcaster Jodi Jenkins and former MP Tony Clement.  This podcast is a mix conversation of music, news and politics.  It’s very entertaining.  Its loose format is easy to listen to.  Some favourite episodes include Season 1 Episode 28 (S01E28) with music insider Larry Leblanc; S01E19 with Tony’s barber Johnny Awesome and S01E06 with UK Senator Daniel Hannan.  The episodes average 30 minutes in length with is perfect for me and Jody and Tony have a fantastic rapport.  A new show drops weekly.

front burnerFront Burner is a Monday to Friday CBC podcast and normally runs 15-20 minutes in length.  I was not a regular listener to this until last week.  I find in podcasts the host will lend a distinct editorial style.  Jayme Poisson was the hoist until recently when she went on maternity leave.  Piya Chattopadhyay is now hosting for a few weeks and recently has had excellent episodes on the 5G conspiracy and what businesses will survive COVID-19.

Herle BurlyThe Herle Burly is hosted by former Ontario Liberal Campaign Manager David Herle, full disclosure here, these are long episodes, most are well over an hour.  They are political, unfiltered and candid.  Episodes are dropped weekly and almost of them feature the political panel of Jenni Byrne and Scott Reid.  For me I have to listen to this every week.  David has been able to bring some great guests to discuss the news of the day and get opinion from the newsmakers themselves.  I highly recommend the May 5th episode that features former Minister Jane Philpott who discusses among other things, what she is doing during COVID19 and her time in cabinet with Jody Wilson-Raybould.  This clocks in just under 2 hours but well worth the time investment. I listened to this over two days, the political panel is very interesting to listen to as they discuss the Philpott interview.

The BridgeThe Bridge with Peter Mansbridge has quickly become a favourite, it has been a daily Monday to Friday podcast during COVID19.  Like the Herle Burly, I try not to miss listening to this.  The Bridge features former CBC National anchor Peter Mansbridge talking mainly about COVID though he has recently turned his attentions to other topics.  Episodes are 30 minutes in length with the Friday edition a little longer as he reads email from listeners (listen to the episode from Friday May 8th, the Weekend Special #8 – as an example).

MunkThe Munk Dialogues have been broadcasting weekly on Facebook discussions with leading figures in tech, economics and psychology focusing on the world after COVID19.  I have to be honest; some guests speak way above my head, especially when it comes to economics.  The three I have enjoyed featured Malcom Gladwell, Niall Ferguson and Kara Swisher.

play mePlay Me, another CBC Podcast and is something I recently discovered; a complete stage play presented in 30-minute episodes and one play will take 3 episodes to air.


ted talksTED Talks Daily is hit and miss for me, I normally listen to 1 or 2 episodes a week, depending on the topic.  Like the TED Talk, these are only 11 minutes in length, so if it’s something I thought I might like, and if it doesn’t live up to the expectations, I can still get through it.

kee to travelFinally, a nod to fellow Humber College Radio Broadcasting Alumni, Steve Kee, who launched Kee 2 Travel, a couple of weeks ago, a travel podcast that features Steve and his wife Cynthia talking about their travels and feature guests from time to time.  The podcast is therapy for them as this year they are not travelling.  They travel 5-6 times a year to different resorts.  I have relied on Steve for advice when we were planning a trip to the Caribbean.  Each podcast is between 7-10 minutes long, easy and interesting to listen to.  There are 7 episodes available now.


Thanks for reading this week, I hope you enjoy listening to some of these.  Please let me know what you are listening to.


40 Days

ronnie hawkins

This past weekend marked 40 days since we arrived back in Ottawa from Vancouver and voluntarily self-isolated based on requests from the federal & provincial government and to protect our family and freinds.  Originally the request was for international travellers to settle in for 14 days after landing in Canada came mid-March, but the move to self-isolate soon swept across the country and all Canadians started to protect themselves in their own homes.



While I mark 40 days, many Canadians have been home for 50 days. This seems like a perfect milestone to reflect on life since March 23rd.

There have been new phone appointments with doctors, canceled appointments for haircuts, eye check-ups.  We’ve had video calls with friends and family.  I miss a good handshake, sharing a dinner table with friends and hugs from family.  I long for a haircut but loath to be unshaven for more than 3 days.

Our last meal out took place at Pearson International Airport, at a Tim Hortons while waiting to catch our connection to Ottawa.  Since them we’ve had take-out pizza twice and ordered from a local restaurant.  Besides that, it’s been cooking at home.  Because we’ve been home the amount I drink has also reduced to once a week, those four cans of beer I bought weeks ago are in the fridge are pretty cold.  I did take part in a virtual whiskey tasting.  As a member of the Ottawa Whiskey Guild we recently we met on a Friday evening. Another is booked for next weekend; two whiskeys will be dropped off and will shared it will 15 others in a video meeting.

Knowing I would be working from home when I was back in Ottawa I had plans to visit the gym in our building every day, but I didn’t consider the Condo Board shutting down the building and it’s common areas.  Today my exercise is our (mostly) daily walks for an hour getting 5k.  With warmer weather, I should get the bike out and log a few kilometres around the city, especially on weekends.  I will miss BBQing as the condo BBQ will be locked away until restrictions advised by the Ottawa Public Health Officer are lifted.

It is safe to say that my reading will not suffer, it certainly hasn’t in the last forty days.  If I take into consideration the 10 days in BC and the last forty, I have been a tear, with 5 books completed.  I took this time to open some books that require a bit more of a time investment.  I’ve decided to read Margaret MacMillan’s two books that look at the periods before and after WW1, The War that Ended Peace and 1919.  The page turning has slowed significantly, but its been worthwhile.  I’ve set a few books up to be recreational reads.  After reading Mark Burnell’s “The Rhythm Section” I’ve purchased three other books in the series of Stephanie Patrick novels.  It is my balance between non-fiction and fiction reading.  I count on weekends to be able to get through large chunks of reading.

The one thing I haven’t done is unzip my guitar case and play (a better description is re-learn to play) Red, I am sure that I could find a friend or two to video play along with.  There are no excuses for this – none!

I don’t like the feeling of being overwhelmed and I’ve felt that too many times the last 40 days.  Working from home has highlighted two things, first if given the opportunity I could work 12 hours a day – there is that much to do. Second, I need to separate the workday from the rest of the day.  Through work, I know just how much COVID-19 is affecting everyone in this country.  There are 37.5 million different COVID-19 experiences in Canada.  For everything the government does to help one Canadian, it doesn’t help another; that’s overwhelming but make no mistake, I appreciate the opportunity I have to help others through a very complicated time.

Most of all in the last 40 days I’m glad I have a partner to do this with and for who knows the how many days ahead.


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