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 | BobBlahBlah.com

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 !!!

 

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* 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.

 

 

Friends In Need Food Bank’s Most Wanted

Yesterday, as I was shopping at our local Save-On Foods, I came across a small laminated notice on the shelf, under the Peanut Butter.

The sign was small enough, and the print tiny enough, that it was almost invisible, amongst the bright and gaudy labels on the jars, but as I bent to read it, I thought about how blessed my wife and I are… able to go to the grocery store, and be able to buy whatever we want and need.  The list is from the Friends In Need Food Bank, (supporting Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge) and was a reminder of their most wanted (and needed) items:

  • Campbell’s Soup / Chunky Soup
  • Side dishes (Hearty Noodles, Ramen Noodles)
  • Canned Fish or Meat (salmon, tuna, ham)
  • Prego. Pasta Sauce or Canned Tomatoes
  • Meal in a Tin (Chunky. Chili, stew, pork and beans, ravioli)
  • School Snacks (Goldfish)
  • Pasta & RIce
  • Peanut Butter
  • Meal replacement drinks (Boost)

Friends In Need - Food Bank in Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows - BobBlahBlah.com

If you are blessed to have enough food on your table, then the next time you are shopping, why not grab a few of these basics, and share your good fortune with your local food bank ?

If you don’t have the extra money, but you have some time, most Food Banks can always use volunteers.  Why not stop by ?

Or, if you have a few extra dollars, why not share with the food bank, so they can purchase the supplies they need ?

However you help, the folks at the Food Bank are always grateful !!!

 

 

Pink Shirt Day

Today is Pink Shirt Day.

A day, dedicated to wearing pink shirts as a way of drawing attention to the issue of bullying.

You can find out more details about Pink Shirt Day, and how it started, on their website: pinkshirtday.ca

Over the past few days, there have been a number of people in the media, who have asked the question: “Does ‘Pink Shirt Day’ help ?”

The obvious and concise answer, in my opinion, is a solid and resounding “YES !!!”

pink-shirt-day-400

I was lucky enough to go to Elementary and Secondary Schools where, except for one occasion, I can’t remember encountering bullying.

However, I do know that my childhood and early teen years were a time of change, and a period where I felt alone… isolated… and vulnerable.

I was short… gawky… quiet… not popular and wore glasses.   As it was, I largely just kept to myself, and tried not to draw attention to myself.  Had I gone to a different school, or had my school had a different environment, I would have been a choice victim for bullies.

And I would have been in trouble.

 

Later in life, I encountered another set of circumstances and a time where the place I worked for 21 years had to close… I started a new job… I lost both my parents… and we moved… all in the period of four years.  At that time, I became entangled in the quicksand of depression.  It was an all-consuming, physically-painful period… where I searched for a way out of the darkness, and back into the light of “normalcy”.  It was a tough go.  But I made a conscious decision, that was critical (in my opinion) to my eventual success… I shared my problem.

I told friends, family and co-workers that I was having a tough time, and was struggling with depression.  I took my boss aside, and let him know that I was having a tough time.  I relied on my wife more than I usually do.  And the thing that surprised me, was the steady stream of those same folk, who, privately, would come up, one by one, and confide that they were going through the same thing… but alone, privately and isolated… and how great it was to have someone to talk to.

They rarely did… but they benefited from the knowledge that they were not alone in their struggles.

 

A few years later, I worked with an Organization helping parents of kids with eating disorders to understand their children’s journey… and the most impactful lesson I came out of that endeavor with, was their catch phrase: “You Are Not Alone”… which is why I wrote this song.

So, to ask if talking about something makes it better ?  Certainly…  Undoubtedly…  Absolutely… Yes.

It does not make it go away… Only the strength of a society where bullying is unacceptable can stop that.

But the first step is talking about it.

And so today, I wear a pink shirt… and I talk about it.

 

 

Upside Downton Abbey

As everyone who follows me on Twitter knows (and if you aren’t a follower, why dontcha ???) I am a big Downton Abbey fan.

We got hooked, and wait with bated breath for each episode… trying desperately to avoid the spoilers on Social Media.

And, today, I came across the Sesame Street version of Downton Abbey:  “Upside Downton Abbey” featuring the dowager Countess and Carson.

Enjoy !!!

 

 

Castle – A Great TV Show

Various sources have been nattering on at me about Nathan Fillion, for a long time.

A while back, there was a promotion at a store, where I got a free Castle Season 1 DVD.

As a mid-season replacement, the Castle TV Show came in, with a short season.

Being sick with a cold, I blasted through those ten shows in a mini-marathon that left me wanting more.

For those unfamiliar, Castle is the story of Richard Castle, a mystery writer, who, feeling there are no surprises left with his detective character, kills him off… but then is struck with writer’s blocks.   As the book is published, Castle is drawn into a “real-life” murder, where the victims are killed in manners that resemble those in his books.  In this way, Castle meets Detective Kate Beckett, and upon successfully concluding the case, Castle asks the Mayor (a fan of the writer) to be allowed to continue “tagging along” with Detective Beckett and her team, under the guise of research, but also because the lead characters are developing feelings for one another.

TV Show - Castle - BobBlahBlah.com

 

If you are a fan of smart-aleck, Rockford Files-type crime dramas where the character is startled and offended when punched, this is right up your alley.

I didn’t find it surprising to find out that one of the show-runners called Stephen J Cannell “Uncle Steve”

If you haven’t discovered Castle, you should check it out !!!

Longmire by Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson is an American writer who created the Sheriff Walt Longmire series of novels.

I came across them, by way of the Arts and Entertainment (A&E) TV series, (and later seasons on Netflix).

Longmire, is based on Johnson’s books, with a few minor changes.

Longmire TV Series - Netflix Show - BobBlahBlah.comThe series is built around the character of Walt Longmire, who is the long-standing Sheriff of (fictional) Absaroka County, Wyoming, and his struggle to return to work and normalcy, after the death of his wife.  His daughter, Sheriff’s department staff, best friend Henry Standing Bear and colorful local characters all contribute to richly-drawn episodes, which are interwoven with wonderful and tantalizing backstories.

It struck me that the characters were so well fleshed out, evoking almost a sense of familiarity, but without any of them slipping into cliches… that I thought the books must surely be even better.

On a series of journeys, I visited multiple bookstores in Maple Ridge, Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle… and none had them in stock.  A number of the stores were aware of the series, and couldn’t keep them on the shelves.  The other book-sellers just shrugged.  In all cases, I was left wanting.

So, I went to Amazon, and took a leap of faith.  Not wanting to pay for shipping, I ordered the first four books in the series, and waited anxiously for their arrival.

I was not disappointed.

The first book was devoured in a non-stop reading session that drew me in, and caused me to cast EVERYTHING (including sleep) aside.

As soon as I finished the first book, I ordered the rest of the series… for I knew they would not last long.

Because there are a limited number of books (currently nine) I have given them to myself sparingly, in order to not burn through them as quickly as I might want.

Each of the books build upon the previous ones, some beginning on the day after a previous book ends… so it is important to read them in order, to gain an understanding of the characters’ relationships and motivations.  There is also (in each paperback) a Question and Answer section with Craig Johnson, and a series of discussion topics for book chat groups.

About the time the second set of books arrived, I became aware that Craig Johnson was also active on Social Media, with both Twitter and Facebook accounts.

(His twitter handle @UcrossPop25 comes from the Town he currently lives in… Ucross, Wyoming… which currently has a population of 25 folks).

He sometimes also offers short stories to his readers, in exchange for signing up for the mailing list (although, other than the December 2012 Christmas short story, I have received no email from him… save a “Thank you, you are officially deputized” acknowledgement.)

I am pretty select in my choice of reading, especially with regards to mystery novels, yet I have added him to my list of favorite authors, alongside Robert Parker, Rex Stout, Robert Crais & Michael Connelly.  I’m sure you will, as well !!!

 

 

MyVegas Game on Facebook

Recently, our family took a trip to Las Vegas, to celebrate my nieces 21st Birthday.MyVegas - How to play MyVegas - BobBlahBlah.com

While we were there, I saw a LOT of advertising at MGM Resort properties for a game called MyVegas, which (unlike most Casino games) is played on Facebook.

MyVegas - How to play MyVegas - BobBlahBlah.comThe difference being, that MyVegas is a Facebook game, played to win real-life Las Vegas rewards at MGM Resort properties.

There is no cost to play (other than you have to have a Facebook account) and, although you can BUY chips, so far I’ve played enough to get a couple of free show tickets (a couple of hundred dollar value) without buying anything.

Because it is SUCH a new game (there are new aspects to the promotion that were unveiled less than a week ago) it is constantly changing, which from a marketing geek’s perspective, is quite fun to watch them try to engage and maintain their customer’s interest.

I’ve got a website detailing some of my observations and findings at http://LetTheChipsFall.com

Check it out, if it sounds like something you might be interested in !!!

(Getting stuff for free, is NEVER a bad thing, right ???)

Good luck !!!

 

 

 

Spirit Day

Purple Square - Spirit Day - BobBlahBlah.comToday is Spirit Day…

Recently we all heard about cyber-bullying causing a teen to commit suicide…

And we all rally around the sentiment “It Gets Better”

But does it ?

Tonight, I am watching on twitter, as adults spew venomous vitriol on Whoopi Goldberg, (@WhoopiGoldberg)  for her question to Ann Romney on The View, about the Mormon faith, and asking to clarify whether the faith precluded Mitt Romney or his five sons from military service.

She is being attacked, not with reason or argument, but with the blunt force of hate and vile insults.

I don’t know that we can say “It Gets Better”… I just think the venue changes for the playground bully, who, after graduation, can go online and throw stones from the safety of an anonymous twitter or facebook account.

Cyber-bullying is not something restricted to any particular age, religion or political view… but the rules have to change.

I do not like censorship.

But I dislike HATE SPEAK more.

 

 

Giving Thanks

It being Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, it seemed like an appropriate time to “take stock” and give thanks.*

Thanks to the weatherman, for the sunshine, and for making us believe it is August in October.

Thanks to Mom Nature, for giving me a reason (and the option) of going outside to rake up crunchy leaves and breathe in the fresh, warm air.

Thanks to Lorie’s family for sharing wonderful meals and evenings of fun, warmth and laughter.

Thanks to my family for always being there, even when they’re not right here.

Thanks to friends (both IRL and online) for their friendship, thoughts, debates, discussions and (on this weekend) good wishes.

Thanks to my clients, who took a chance on a one-guy start-up, and trusted both my opinions and my work ethic.

Thanks to my partners, for trusting me with their projects and ideas.

Corona Beer - Giving Thanks - BobBlahBlah.comThanks to the folks at Corona for making “La Cerveza Mas Fina” (…and curse them for it going down so quickly after a hot afternoon, outside)

There are many others, who I thank for the value and richness they bring to my life.

But mostly, I thank my sweetie for being my best friend, and always being able to laugh, even when the wind is blowing a gale.

Hope everyone has a great (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend !!!

* The list isn’t complete, but heavily influenced by the last 24 hours and two beers that went down FAR too quickly. : )

 

 

Rogers Wireless – Good, Bad And Indifferent

Recently, I’ve had a LOT of interactions with the folks at Rogers Wireless.

Rogers Wireless - BobBlahblah.com

 

To say my experiences have been uneven, would be an understatement.

I am a Blackberry guy… One of those die-hards that love our phones, and cling to them with a fear that an Android or I-Phone user will somehow snatch it from us.

I have been trying to hold out for the BB10 OS phones, but they keep getting delayed, and the trackball on my old BB9000 keeps dying.

It locked up a few weeks ago, and literally, as I was on my way out the door to go to the Rogers Store, I got a call from Rogers, asking if I wanted to upgrade my phone.  (Insert Twilight Zone music here)

I said yes, and discussed with the gent on the phone the options I wanted, and he suggested the 9810.  He also suggested tweaking my plan, to better suit my needs.

I then got passed along to a “Order Confirmation Specialist”, who confirmed all the aspects of my order, the changes to my plan, and confirmed my account information.

Two days later, I got my new Blackberry… in White.

(I’m a slob, and cannot wear white shirts, drive a white car, use a white computer or have a white phone.)

I called up Rogers, explained the problem, saying that my assumption was they would send me a black phone, like the last three phones… they said “No problem. Ship it back, and we will let you know when we get it back, and you can go to a store, to pick up the one you want.”

Slight delay, modest frustration (my trackball wasn’t working properly) but I dealt with it.

Call Rogers a week later, and yes, they have received my phone back, and I can go pick up the phone I want at any Rogers store.

I went to three different stores, and none stock the 9810… which made me ask the question: “Why?”

I gathered, without anyone saying it, that it just wasn’t a popular phone, so perhaps I would be happier with the more popular 9900 ?

Yes, I am.

The gent (Ravi Chima) who helped me, at the Coquitlam Centre Rogers Store, was awesome.  Going through the details of the phone, the contract and touching on a few of the features I might not know about.

Then, this morning, I get a call from Rogers, asking me if I would like to review and adjust my plan…

“I just did that a week ago”

This call is not being charged to your cell phone…

“No, it is not… You called me on my home phone.”

* Long pause *

Can I please have some personal information to verify your identification ?

“No.  You called me.  If you don’t know who you are speaking to, where you called them, or whether I have updated my plan recently, I’m not giving you ANY information.”

She thanked me for my time, and gave me a number to call, in case I had any questions.

 

I am ALL FOR good customer service.

But there is a difference between “busy work” and “customer care.”

Busy work, is always moving, always working… but not working SMART.  Not taking into account the customers’ needs, or assessing them as individuals.  It puts ALL customers into one category, and assumes all customers need the same things.

An awful lot of people at Rogers seem to be engaged in busy work.

It takes lots of energy, but is FAR from effective.

I would call them, but the last time I made a comment on their customer service, they robo-called me three times, asking for feedback on my customer service phone experience.

I love energetic and enthusiastic customer service… but there HAS to be a level of autonomy and intelligence applied.

Customer Service Reps shouldn’t be script-reading robots… If THEY are calling me…  they should ask if I like my new phone, if I have any questions or concerns, and then thank me for my business and my time.

Don’t make me second guess my choice, right after I made a purchase.  That is just busy work.

* NOTE: Less than one hour after posting this, I had received the following comment:

Hi Bob,

This is Nicolas from Rogers.

Our apologies for some of the experiences you’ve had. You’re raising some valid points and I shared your blog post with our internal teams.

For future, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via Twitter @RogersHelps or Facebook and we’ll help!

@RogersNicolas

Maybe it is lip service, or maybe something was gained. It will be interesting to see !