Professional Sports And Moving Forward Past Tokenism

Was pleased and excited last week to hear about Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player, being selected in the NFL Draft.

Then, this week, I saw this video about the number WHERE he was picked… 249th overall.

The NFL Draft comes on the heels of NBA player, Jason Collins, announcing that he is gay.

The biggest difference between the two, is that Michael Sam has not yet “proven his worth” at the professional sports level, (he was drafted out of College, where he was extremely successful) whereas Jason Collins was nearing the end of his career, and had become a free agent, (prior to his being signed by the Brooklyn Nets in February 2014).

No doubt, it is difficult to be first.  There has to be a massive amount of consideration, prior to announcing something that is private, and frankly, SHOULDN’T MATTER TO ANYONE.

Why would any team or sports organization want anything BUT the best players, regardless of color, sexual orientation, nationality or whatever other criteria you want to divide people by.  And yet, it apparently still does.

In one article I read recently, this quote floored me…

One NFL coach, speaking anonymously to Sports Illustrated after Sam came out, said: “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet.”

I sincerely hope I am wrong… but the Teams who are giving these players their opportunities, seem to be struggling to find success. And both Teams received a “bump” in merchandising revenues, when these signing announcements were made.  And that got me thinking about ‘tokenism’.

If you aren’t sure what tokenism is, here is the definition:


1) the practice or policy of making no more than a token effort or gesture, as in offering opportunities to minorities equal to those of the majority.
2) any legislation, admissions policy, hiring practice, etc., that demonstrates only minimal compliance with rules, laws, or public pressure: Admitting one woman to the men’s club was merely tokenism.

In light of recent ugliness on Social Media by Boston “fans”, directed towards PK Subban (an African-American hockey player), it makes me wonder how far we’ve come, towards being an “enlightened” society.  Many retired hockey players admit, that they do research on the families and friends of opponents, in order to be able to “rile up” opponents in on-ice scrums.  But, as hockey fans, how do we so easily cast aside the legacy of Boston Bruin Willie O’Ree (the first hockey player to break the color barrier in 1958) and call out a player who is a visible minority.  PK Subban is a well spoken, skilled hockey player, who works hard (on and off the ice) to promote hockey as a sport for everyone.

Hopefully, the selection of an openly gay football player, Jason Collins’ announcement, more and  more visible minorities playing hockey, and inclusive organizations such as You Can Play – are just the beginning of a more open and inclusive sports environment, and the culture of sports will become more enlightened.  This would, I think, help move sports fans, and society as a whole, to a better place.

I don’t think that there should be quotas, or requirements, or any such “rules”… but simply allow the best players to play in the top sports leagues, without their ethnicity, skin color, or sexual orientation being of ANY concern.  I believe the only thing that any of these athletes wants, is to be considered on an equal basis, against the others competing for the available positions on the teams.

I don’t think ALL the idiots will ever go away.  But, in the last while, sports fans have seen a LOT of examples of team owners (such as Donald Sterling), team management (Michael Sam getting passed over 248 times), and team coaches (see the “anonymous” quote above), indicating that many of the idiots are still RUNNING the Teams.


Haute Note – Personalized Note Cards And Stationery

As some of you may know… on October 1st, Lorie and I bought an online card business… Haute Note!

A company that produces custom cards, personalized notes and stationery.

We have a variety of note styles, as well as designs for every reason and every season.

We feel that in this day and age, when pretty much everyone on the planet has embraced the technology for sending emails, texts, PINS and communicating through any number of Social Networks — there are still occasions when it is “special” to get a card.  A keepsake, or reminder of a moment in time.

Whether a photo Holiday card, personalized Christmas cards, birthday invitations, wedding or baby announcements, save-the-date cards, or something else completely… we can customize and personalize any of the hundreds of designs of cards.

A set of 8 Signature cards makes a lovely hostess gift, a thank you gift, something nice for Aunt Sadie or the perfect something for the hard-to-buy-for person who has everything!

Below are a few examples, chosen at random from hundreds of styles and themes.

You can find more examples at

(Click on any image below to open the images up in a Gallery Viewer)

phot_hpch_crem phot_cndy_gren_1 drea_popy_redd phot_scpt_taup_script_taupethanks_t2_1
flat_gree_hell_greetings_scripthello_3 phot_scpt_save_script_savethedate_t2 phot_hchr_strp_holidaycheer_stripes_t5b phot_bbra_blos_2
holi_holi_tree phot_anim_gren_animalcrackers_green_t1b drea_bran_cher holi_fest_juni
flat_crow_prin_crowns_princess_2 flat_crow_pair_crowns_royalpair_3 flat_addn_pinb_addition_pinblue_5 clas_nost_sugr_1
clas_tree_weve_1 clas_long_kngt_1 clas_holi_gift_1 clas_cbrn_plum
clas_nost_midn_1 cele_wedd_cake cele_gath_cups hn-crown-avi-reverse-w-border-500

(Click on any image above to see the cards in a Gallery Viewer)

Should you need a personal or corporate Christmas card… a card to announce a birth, or a birthday party… a wedding announcement or a BBQ invite… we have all these, and many more! Check us out at

You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!


Remembrance Day Musings

Poppy - Remembrance Day - BobBlahBlah.comThere are a bunch of posts and articles flying around right now… talking about the different colours of Poppies, and which ones different folks support. (Red or White)

I haven’t had an opportunity to read most of the articles, and I don’t know enough about the various discussions and debates to comment on them… and to me, any discussion about this is really quite pointless.

When I see a Red Poppy, I think of my Dad, and my Grandfather.


alex-buchananMy Grandfather (Alex Buchanan) is a man I never knew, who lived and worked in Singapore.

Before the Second World War, he fought against the injustices of the time, for those with skin of a different colour… at a time when the British Colonials thought nothing of their two-class system.

When the war started, he managed to get his family and wife safely onto a freighter, and stayed behind to help fight the Japanese invasion of Singapore… which didn’t last long.  All the guns were fixed… pointing out to sea.  The Japanese invaded through the mainland, and Singapore quickly surrendered.

My Grandfather spent the remainder of his life in Changi Prisoner of War camp, which is where he died.


Robert Harold Gray - Entertaining his fellow soldiers, during a moment's respite - Served 1939 to 1946 - throughout Europe and Africa - BobBlahBlah.comOn September 3rd, 1939, my dad was a young man who had just celebrated his 20th birthday a few days earlier.  He had just started working for the BBC in Scotland.  Then, at 11:15 in the morning, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany.  A day later, my Dad was a soldier.

Like countless others, he signed up immediately… and through 1945, he was assigned to various units as a radio operator on the front lines… until he was wounded.  Then he would get sent to a hospital, to get patched up, and he would be re-deployed to another unit, on another front.

He fought in Italy, Crete, Sicily and Africa.

He was a young man, named Robert Harold Gray, who lived on Hamilton Road in Rutherglen, Scotland. Funnily enough, he knew three OTHER Robert Grays who lived on the same street in the same town.  Not so funny, was the reality that my dad was the only one of the four who came home alive.  And my dad knew full well that it was only by fluke that he made it home.  There was a particular moment during a battle, when his unit was being overrun by the German Army, and amid the retreat, he let a fellow soldier go ahead of him.  That soldier was immediately killed by a grenade blast.  My Dad was evacuated, with more shrapnel wounds, but lucky to be alive.

After the War ended, he was discharged, and went home to Scotland. The first thing he did was burn his uniform, and put away his medals.

He didn’t ever glorify war or hold a grudge.  One of his eventual best friends when he came to Vancouver, was a German neighbour, who lived across the street, who had been a bomber pilot during the Blitz.

My Dad didn’t sit around telling war stories.  He didn’t like or want to talk about it.

He only allowed us two windows to peek through, to catch a glimpse of the pain he had seen and endured during the war years:

– During my teenage years, on Sunday nights, he would listen to Dame Vera Lynn’s record, over and over.  Often I would come in, as he was singing along to the song “We’ll Meet Again”, to find him with tears in his eyes, lost in another time.

– During this time, he and I started watching Remembrance Day services together… until he passed away in 1999.

Since then, when Remembrance Day comes, I don’t go to the Cenotaph… I observe the Ceremony, spending time with my Dad’s memory, and thinking of the sacrifices that he and his friends made, to try to bring sanity back to the world.

The Poppy to me is a symbol of my Dad’s and Grandfather’s generation… most of them, now gone… who gave us gifts that we still enjoy.  Freedom and choice.

I do not diminish or discount the importance of having discussions and debates about the issues of Veterans’ support, peace-keeping efforts and the role of armies in the modern era.  However, I shall recuse myself from that discussion.  To me, the intent of Remembrance Day is to remember those who gave years of their lives, or in some cases, their actual lives, to fight for the intangible values of Rights and Freedoms, that we now enjoy.

The Poppy doesn’t glorify war.  There is no glory in war.  There is only sacrifice and loss, and that is what we honour on Remembrance Day.

I shall wear my Red Poppy, and with it, cherish spending a moment of Remembrance with my Dad, and the Grandfather I never knew.

We’ll Meet Again

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where.., don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.

Keep smiling through,
Just like you always do,
Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds, far away.

So will you please say hello,
To the folks that I know,
Tell them I won’t be long,
They’ll be happy to know, that as you saw me go
I was singing this song.

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where,don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where, don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.


Songwriters: Arthur Wilkinson, Ross Parker, Hugh Childs

Published by: Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

Manic Monday

It has been a crazy time at our house, as appliances and lights stopped working, and THEN we discovered Carpenter Ants had taken up residence in the front of our house.

For everyone who is asking, here is what the front of our house looked like, about an hour ago.

House Renovations - House Renovations -
Removing the rotten/eaten supports, framing & headers.  Stripped back to wood untouched by water or cooties

 Cue the music…  Here is The Bangles… Manic Monday !!!



Family Is A “Relative” Thing

The word “Family” means different things, to different people.

My parents emigrated to Canada in 1956, from Scotland.  They didn’t know anyone here, but my Uncle John in Liverpool had traveled the world, working on ships, and his endorsement of the beautiful city on the Pacific, tipped the scales for Vancouver over Montreal.  Dad thought he could find a job in broadcast radio in Vancouver… so he and my mum packed up their lives into a couple of steamer trunks, and with two young daughters in tow, set sail for Canada, leaving all relatives behind.

A few years, a few houses and a few different jobs later, my Parents had me.

To me, when I was a little kid, the word Family meant my parents, and my sisters.

My parents made many friendships in their newly-adopted country, and growing up, we called most of these people “Aunt” or “Uncle”.  As I grew a bit older, I learned that these people weren’t actually related to us, but were Aunts and Uncles “in name only”.  I also learned that there were OTHER people I talked to on the phone on Christmas Day and sometimes heard, on exchanged reel to reel tapes, who I was related to.  They were the ‘Overseas Relatives’.

As a teenager, my Mum and I went to meet the ‘Overseas Relatives’, and spent three weeks meeting Aunts, Uncles and Cousins… all over Scotland and England.  Being a typical teenager, I wore the unfortunate cloak of being self-absorbed, while lacking in both self-confidence and self-assuredness. Quiet and shy would be an understatement… so I busied myself behind the lens of a camera, taking pictures.  After that trip, I was able to match faces and personalities to the Overseas Relatives. During my teens, there were also a few trips by various Overseas Relatives to Canada.

Later, when I got married, my Family more than doubled when I was embraced by my wife’s family.  Through the following years, our Family also grew to include four lovely nieces.

Then the growth stopped…  My Parents both passed away… and Lorie’s long list of Aunts and Uncles started dwindling.  At the same time, the Overseas Relatives were diminishing in numbers, as my Dad’s two siblings and my Mum’s four siblings slowly succumbed to age and diseases.  Until all were gone, save my Mum’s brother John.

Family - Buchanan, Gray, & Knox Clans - Pitt Meadows - August 2013 - BobBlahBlah.comUncle John turned 80, last April.  He and his wife, Aunt Patricia had been very kind when I went to Liverpool as a teen.  It had been Uncle John who, when I went with my Mum to see my Grandmother, Sybil, for the one and only visit, after 15 minutes, took me for ice cream, as it was apparent (even to my teenage self) that Sybil was more interested in the Wimbledon Tennis results on her TV, than in talking to me, as she had placed a wager on the results.

After Uncle John’s recent birthday, John and Patricia’s son and daughter-in-law – David and Louise – started making arrangements for a family trip. So, this is how six of the Buchanan clan: Uncle John, Aunt Patricia, David, Louise, and grand kids Rebecca and Luke, came to be in Vancouver, for a visit.

From the first greeting at the airport, there was an immediate comfort, warmth and ease talking with all of them…  and lots of laughter amid the “getting to know” everyone.  I have always known that the Buchanan men have a distinct “look”… deep-set eyes and black hair that turns gray early… and I can now “see” myself in Uncle John, David and Luke, and them in me.

It had been 31 years since the last time Uncle John, Aunt Patricia and David had been been to Vancouver… and now Luke is the age David had been, and David was the age John had been on their last visit. Someone saw a photo of their last trip, and said each could pass for the generation that followed.  I am also older than the last time they visited, by 31 years… and I’m sure, no wiser.

But I know that these people stepped off the plane as Overseas Relatives, and are leaving today as Family.

Family is a Relative thing, and today, some of my Family are leaving town.

I wish them a safe journey, and look forward to seeing them again… hopefully soon !!!


Surfacing – A Novel

Surfacing - Novel by Natasha Jones and Jim McGregor - BobBlahBlah.comJim McGregor, a long-time Langley citizen and community stalwart has teamed up with Natasha Jones, a Langley reporter to write and publish their first novel: ‘Surfacing’.

Jim sent this note out to a few friends:

If you are looking for some exciting summer time reading, my writing partner, Natasha Jones, long time Langley reporter, and I have published our first Fiction Novel, SURFACING. The books are available now and we will be having a book launch and signing at the Langley City Fire Hall, 5785-203rd St on Saturday, June 22nd. from noon til 3PM.


From the cover notes:

Jeremy knows about the accident but when his mother, Debbie, finally reveals the truth, he has no idea that he will find his once strong firefighter father still unconscious in an extended care facility. The discovery that, after three years, his father suddenly begins regaining consciousness sets in motion a series of events that will rock many lives.
The family ventures into the rundown Franklin Center, the final destination for all of its patients, where Jeremy’s youthful optimism for his father’s recovery triggers emotions long-buried in the nursing staff, the family and their friends.
Drawing on energy from the spirit of a grandfather he can scarcely remember, Jeremy inspires his father’s medical team to question their conventional medical approach to what is possible. While the family confronts the ramifications of Don’s return to consciousness they discover that more sinister forces are at work. Bent on the destruction of the family’s hope and fueled by maniacal jealousy, one staff member will do anything to sabotage the firefighter’s valiant efforts to recover.

It is available now from, for Kindle Readers: Surfacing eBook

If you want a great read, and are in Langley this Saturday, drop by the Fire Hall, and check it out !!!

Special Characters

I don’t know about you, but I have a terrible time remembering keyboard shortcuts to make “Special Characters”.

There are only two I can usually remember, just because I use them so much:

Holding down the [ALT] key, and then typing the number 0169, when you release the [ALT] key, results in a Copyright symbol… like this ===>  ©

Holding down the [ALT] key, and then typing the number 0149, results in a heavy black dot symbol… like this ===>  •

Because I can never find a “good” reference chart for the ALT Special Character Codes, I thought I would post it on my Blog, so I always know where it is.

(Hopefully you will find it useful, as well)



(ALT +)

Black smiley face


Male sign


Female sign




Up/Down arrow


Up arrow


Down arrow


Right arrow


Left arrow


Left/right arrow


Euro Currency



Dutch Florin




Double Dagger


List Dot









Upside down exclamation mark



Cent sign



British Pound



Generic currency symbol



Japanese Yen



Section Symbol






Not symbol



Reserved mark



Degree symbol








Paragraph Symbol ((Pilcrow)



Fraction 1/4



Fraction 1/2



Fraction 3/4



Upside down question mark



Division sign


Service mark




Care of




Number symbol


Sound recording copyright


Prescription/pharmaceutical symbol





Inverted ohm












Star (solid)


Star (outline)








Ascending node


Descending node






Phone (solid)


Musical single bar note


Phone (outline)




Ballot box


Ballot box with X


Saltire (St. Andrew’s Cross)


Left-pointing index finger (solid)


Right-pointing index finger (solid)


Left-pointing index finger (outline)


Upwards-pointing index finger (outline)


Right-pointing index finger (outline)


Downwards-pointing index finger (outline)


Skull & crossbones


Caution sign


Radioactive sign


Biohazard sign


Caduceus or “Kerykeion”




Eastern Christian cross


Chi Rho cross


Patriarchal cross


Greek cross


Crescent moon & star


Farsi symbol


Adi Shakti


Hammer and sickle


Peace sign


Yin & yang


Dharma wheel


Frowning face


Smiley face


Black smiley face


Waxing crescent moon


Waning crescent moon




Venus (female symbol)


Earth symbol


Mars (male symbol)




































White king


White queen


White rook


White bishop


White knight


White pawn


Black king


Black queen


Black rook


Black bishop


Black knight


Black pawn


Black spade suit


Red heart suit


Red diamond suit


Black club suit(or shamrock)


Red spade suit


Black heart suit (or valentine)


Black diamond suit


Red club suit


Hot springs


Musical quarter note


Musical eighth note


Musical single bar note


Musical double bar note


Flat note


Natural note


Sharp note


Cut above


Cut here


Cut below




Public pay phone


Film reel (tape spool)






Victory sign


Signature/sign here


Pencil diagonal down




Pencil diagonal up




Heavy checkmark


Multiplication sign/X


Heavy multiplication sign/X


Ballot X


Heavy ballot X


Latin Roman cross


Latin cross 3D shadow


Latin cross outline


Maltese Cross


Star of David


Quotation mark single comma


Quotation mark single comma


Quotation mark double turned comma


Quotation mark double comma



Tim Horton’s Camp Day

Tim Horton's Coffee

Tim Horton’s Coffee

Hard to believe another year has flown by, and this Wednesday, June 5th is Tim Horton’s Camp Day 2013!!!

(The one day of the year when I *ALWAYS* switch from tea to coffee !!!)

This Wednesday, head to your local participating Tim Horton’s and buy a coffee to support sending kids to Tim Horton’s Camps.  (And check out the fun and different fundraising ideas the individual franchises have come up with, to raise money for this extra special day !!!

If you don’t drink coffee, or would prefer to make your donation online, you can support Camp Day, here:

Here are some details about Camp Day, from the Tim Horton’s website:

What One Cup of Coffee Can Do

Every time a guest buys a coffee at Tim Hortons on Camp Day they will help send more than 16,000 kids – who could otherwise not afford it – on the camping adventure of a lifetime. All children who attend one of the Foundation’s six camps are selected from within the communities where Tim Hortons Restaurants are located. Tim Hortons Restaurant Owners work closely with local youth organizations and schools to select children, between the ages of nine and 12, to attend a 10-day summer camp session or seven day winter camp session.

“It’s overwhelming each year see how our guests come together support Foundation,” says Bill Moir, President, Tim Horton Children’s Foundation. ” On Camp Day, buying cup of coffee and participating the many activities helps contribute to positive change in child’s life. And that’s a good feeling.”

So… hope to see you at the local Tim Horton’s, this Wednesday !!!

(And on Twitter, using the hashtag #CampDay)



Provincial Election 2013

Whenever an Election (at any Governmental level) rolls around, I always think of my Dad.

He was a life-long radio producer (BBC Radio, United Church Broadcasting, CKWX & CBC) who LOVED the politics of the day.

I’m not sure what he would think of today’s brand of politics, but that isn’t what this post is about.

He covered the BC Legislature for many years, and got to know and respect many of the MLAs.

One of the things he respected most, was how members of different parties could go hammer and tongs at one another in the “House”, and go to a bar after session, and continue the discussion, to try to work to a reasonable and acceptable compromise, that moved the issue at hand, forward.  Now, it didn’t always work that way, but generally, it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

Today, the process seems to be just as much about scoring points against your opponent, as getting the work done.

I wonder how much of that is because there is an “us or them” mentality that seems to have been adopted from US politics.

When I was young, there were Conservative, Liberal, Social Credit and NDP MLAs.

Every vote counts | BobSongs Musings |

Today, Provincially, we have (apart from a few Independent MLAs) a two party system.

I don’t know that it wouldn’t be a good idea to have different people, with different ideas, join in the discussion.

It certainly can’t make things in Victoria any LESS functional.

And yes, under the current system, which doesn’t allow for representational voting, that may cause some vote splitting.

So what ? *

I have always believed that I should vote for the individual who will best represent me, at whatever Governmental level they are campaigning for.

As I’m working with Elections BC, I’ve already cast my vote for the individual that I feel is best suited to work for my needs.  In this case, they are from one of the two major parties.

If I lived in Maple Ridge-Mission or Mission-Abbotsford, I would be voting for individuals from OUTSIDE the two major parties.

When discussing issues, people don’t generally see things in black and white… there are a LOT of different colours in between. (Including us Grays)

I think it will be interesting to see the results of the election.  Hopefully we will get a Legislature that is made up of many voices… from different parties… and having different ideas.

In that case, the different groups would have to work together, to find common ground, if there is to be progress.

And be a little bit more like the Legislature my Dad worked at…  where opponents were still adversaries, but had a common goal, to get things done, as well as they could be done.

My fingers are crossed !!!

Please remember to get out and vote on Election Day !!!



* So what…

I know some folks may say that I’m “ignoring the big picture” when I brush aside any discussion of vote splitting and concerns about votes “not counting”, if you don’t vote for one of the two major parties.

1) Anyone who votes isn’t throwing away your vote.

2) I believe I am looking at a longer time frame than most, because, in this way, people will increasingly see that the “first past the post” system, works to support a two party system, rather than reflecting the diversity of voices of the general public. Hopefully we will reach the tipping point on this issue, soon. (You can read more on the first past the post voting system, on Wikipedia , here)

3) The sooner that people realize that the current voting system doesn’t reflect the will of the people, and only serves to maintain an “us or them” system, the faster the discussion can begin about what system would better reflect the diversity of opinions that our Province and Nation actually has.  (In this area, I am not claiming to know enough to speak to which system would be best, or the details of how it SHOULD work.  I voted YES to the Single Transferable Vote referendum, a few years back, but not enough people understood how the system worked, so it was defeated, but I hope that the discussion will continue. (You can read more on the Single Transferable Vote system, on Wikipedia , here)

Through discussing what voting system would work better, and looking at other examples of Voting reform that have been implemented around the world, our Governments can only get more responsive and more accountable, as they are elected to reflect the many diverse voices and viewpoints that the public have.