POLITICAL EXHAUSTION

Is it just me or is anyone else becoming politically exhausted? No matter where I turn these days, it is 24/7 of political commentary, opinion, breaking news, blah, blah, blah. And it is much more than just the latest ranting and raving of Trump and his family, supporters and detractors – it seems to be worldwide – Britain, Canada, Germany, OMG – the Mideast, Philippines, China, Venezuela,  Brexit, EU, trade wars, immigration and terrorism – just to name a few of the politically charged stories that are inundating us. I don’t know if it is age, or the age we live in, but it seems impossible to escape as we see wall to wall videos on YouTube, Facebook and TV news, along with constant news updates on our car radios, newspapers (there are still some left aren’t there?) and virtually every social media opportunity that exists.

Everyone seems to be getting in on the act as politicians of every stripe and intelligence level weigh in on everything they see (whether they have any real ability to effect change or not) and anyone with an audience is compelled to let their opinions be known to their followers. I’m simply getting tired of it – what about you? Social gatherings require us to respond to questions about what we think of this crisis or that. In our own city, just the possibility of building a new hockey arena has become a source of accusations and political invective that is laced with personal accusations and blame – get over it – build the damn arena – there’s enough money to pay for it!

People are turning away from the political arena by the thousands as they tire of the never ending diatribe and become wary, as well as weary, of the constant bickering and accusations, unfounded criticism, and outright hatred foisted upon us as “news.” “Aye, but there’s the rub,” a much bigger danger than exhaustion lurks when we choose to ignore the political unrealities of the day, but first a work from our unsponsors…

BOOMER TUNE ALERT

OK, hands up anyone who doesn’t have a copy of “RUMOURS” by FLEETWOOD MAC in their music collection. I didn’t think so. The eighth highest selling album of all time with over 40 million copies sold, it was released in 1977. The band seemed to be in constant turmoil with members coming and going, romantic relationships on and off, and various members leaving and returning but wow, could they turn out the hits. Rumours sat on top of the Billboard list for over 30 weeks and garnered awards and still commands an incredible amount of play time on stations worldwide.

Lindsey Buckingham leads the way on “Go Your Own Way”  and may seem an apt addition to this post.

Go ahead, listen again and turn it up louder – I can wait.

The real danger of political exhaustion is that intelligent people stop listening. They ignore the posturing and nonsense that surrounds the political arena. Political freedom and democracy are messy, tiresome and full of people who are there only to promote their own agendas. The scary part is that if history teaches us anything, then we cannot afford to ignore what is being done in our name. Smarter people than me have warned that if good men ignore what their leaders are doing, then the leaders easily become demagogues out for their own interests and that becomes something far more complicated and scary than democracy. That is when totalitarianism becomes reality. Stay focused and make these leaders remain transparent and accountable. Read not only the viewpoints that you agree with but the opposition as well – alternate ideas may help pave the way to true freedom and democracy.

BARBECUES AND BIKINIS

Barbecues are one of the better bargains of our time. If you assume the cost is about 1000.00 and they last about 10 years, it works our to about 2.00 per week. Not bad economics. I’ve had mine about 10 years now (and the cost per week is less than half the 2.00)  and it is ready to retire. I’ve been pondering my next barbecue purchase for a bit and have always wanted a Weber. The ratings are excellent and apparently the quality tops everyone’s list even if the price seems a bit steep. Over the past couple of months I have been checking and comparing models based on our needs and also hoping for a sale. My standard approach to making a purchase, research, comparisons, shopping and asking questions has been proceeding as usual until this week…

Now, I should admit that I have often suffered from U.S. envy. When I was a young lad, I thought that I wanted to move to California to attend college – I may have had that mixed up with Beach Boy songs about surf, sun and girls but nevertheless – California dreamin’ I did. As I got older I spent time researching the possibility of living in Hawaii and doing some more dreaming. I have many relatives who seem perfectly happy living in the States and I have traveled to many parts, east, west, north and south, for both business and pleasure. However, in my dotage, and as I ponder the recent events originating south of our border, I am frankly getting pissed off.

Yes, it’s a very small thing and will have absolutely no impact on any of Trump’s foreign and trade policy announcements, but I no longer want a “built in the USA” barbecue, any more than I want a built in China barbecue either. So, I have now narrowed my search to Canadian manufacturers and seem to be looking mostly at Broil King made in good old Kitchener. Regardless of ratings and everything else, I am supporting our own manufacturers as much as possible until this “dark night of the orange narcissist” passes.

BOOMER TUNE ALERT

 I don’t know if this happens to you but some songs bring on instant memories for me that are very vivid and detailed. I heard Dream Weaver by Gary Wright three times this past week and it meant that I had to share it today and also allowed me to relive my first few months living in Winnipeg. I moved to Winnipeg from British Columbia and was offered some help from a friend of a friend in locating some living accommodations. Unfortunately, I took his advice and moved into a penthouse in North Winnipeg, on Adsum Drive if you must know. I say unfortunately because I was single and fancy free and living in the heart of the suburbs is NOT where I should have been. I corrected that mistake later but in the meantime I had this brand new apartment complete with fireplace and white shag carpet, swimming pool and covered deck. One weekend afternoon, Dream Weaver, a top ten hit at the time, comes on the station I was listening to, and as I often do when alone, I cranked the volume up to ear-bleed. I stepped out on to the deck and left the doors open as I enjoyed the music. Now this is absolutely true; it was summer time and most people had their doors open and instead of complaints about the loud music coming from the top floor, I heard stereo after stereo being tuned to the same station and everyone else turning up their volume too. It was a great 3 minute party in the middle of the burbs. Oh, and to the girl in the chartreuse bikini by the pool with whom I shared a rhythmic moment or two, “Hi.”

I’m just as smooth as I ever was.

Tax season is coming to a close and I have booked a couple of weeks off starting next weekend. I was just looking at the “To Do” list and I have a feeling that I will be glad to return to work for a rest.

SPRING CLEANUP

I had a landscaping service clean up our yard yesterday since spring seems to be putting a tentative toe in the water these days. Good timing I think because it has decided to rain today and I hear that there is wet snow in the forecast. If we ever get some sun and warm temps, the lawn should look great. Speaking of lawns and lawn mowing, I made the huge switch this year. For about 8 or 9 years I have been using a push mower. I got rid of the gas powered beast in order to lower the noise and air pollution in the area but the real reason was because I simply got tired of repeated pulling on the cord to get the damn thing started. The push mower started first time, every time.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I bought a cordless machine – battery powered – I’m such a tree hugger! I haven’t had a chance to use it but I have high hopes for it being powerful enough and pollution free enough to justify the cost. I could continue to use the push mower but frankly, I’m getting a bit tired of having to constantly pick up pine cones and finding that the cut is not all that even if the grass is wet. Such are the problems of those of us surviving in the first world.

BOOMER TUNE ALERT

39 years ago, this weekend, The Blues Brothers made their debut on Saturday Night Live. John Belushi was a recent convert to the blues at that time but Dan Akroyd had spent many years roaming the blues clubs in his hometown of Ottawa and had already jammed with some of the greats like Muddy Waters. We all know the success that the Blues Brothers reached with albums and movies and since Belushi’s death on March 5, 1982 others, including his brother Jim, have filled in the spot. One of my absolute favourites is their cover of a Sam and Dave hit, Soul Man

Speaking of the first world, the border wall between Canada and the US seems to be getting harder to climb every day. On the south side, we have a leader who seems to want to make an enemy of everybody he comes into contact with. Nothing but conflict, imagined anger and threats. On the north side of the border, we have a leader who is constantly kissing ass with everyone he encounters regardless of their intentions or reputation. Approval ratings for both of these clowns are dropping every day with good reason. It’s too bad that people of talent and ability are no longer willing to subject themselves to the poisonous atmosphere of politics – only the narcissistic ego maniacs are willing to run. Perhaps we should be a bit more selective with our votes.

Simon Winchester is the person we all should have had as a history teacher. He takes one dimensional facts and information and turns them into living breathing books. I just finished reading Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers. Clearly one of the best books I’ve read this year, it is the third one of his I have thoroughly enjoyed. He has a knack for finding the story behind the facts and creating human interest in geological or political information. If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I firmly believe that there is a story behind everything and that’s what makes life interesting. Winchester makes history, events and circumstances come alive with incredible research to reveal the causes and effects behind some of the biggest stories of our planet.

Given the scary threats and posturing currently unfolding around the Pacific (which covers 1/3 of the planet’s surface) I found that reading Pacific by Winchester was timely and gave me an excellent background on what is in the headlines today.