Big Brother is Watching! YOU!


Big Brother is Watching! – You!

BB 2

It has been a while since I posted but I said it would not be every day . . . . or every week! Plus, now that I know how insidiously Big Brother and all his little Retail and Social friends are watching, I may have to rethink my whole profile and approach – but not likely.

A couple of examples that you can try for yourself – but be careful what you use as your “test” cases – especially if anyone has access to your social content.

Facebook is notorious for this. Profiling is one aspect – e.g., you look at a “funny sports video” and suddenly your are swamped with posting for “funny this” and “funny that” – but they’re not, and you scratch your head wondering why in the world am I getting this crap! BTW – it’s your own fault.

That’s bad enough but at least it is generic and not really targeted. However, it only scratches the surface as out there the Retail guys are monitoring your every move and coming back at you with a vengeance and a clear indication of knowing exactly where you were surfing and what you specifically looked at. They are then turning that around, almost in real time and flooding their sales pitches back at you. There are no Internet secrets and recent hacks are only publicizing the illegal stuff and not the stealthy day to day stuff.

On Good Friday I was bored so I went on to Henry’s camera site and looked at some used equipment – specifically a Nikon DSLR – a DX 7100. I am thinking of trading up one of my DX 5000 for some enhanced features – mainly image size.

After that I bopped over to Best Buy for a quick browse on TVs as Jane is trying to convince me that our geriatric Samsung 50” is soon planning on committing Seppuku and joining its Japanese ancestors (I snuck in this politically incorrect comment to see if the thought police are watching too).

Anyway I looked at a couple of Samsung (brand specific) 65” (bigger is better) smart, 4K, 120mhz. . . models to see what kind of dough I would have to cough up. Did not like it and left to do something else.

Shortly, and I mean very shortly thereafter, I fired up my Facebook page and guess what. Amidst the other junk I had a posting about this wonderful Samsung 65” TV I could buy at Best Buy and just a few intrusions further down a wonderful posting plug offering me a spiffy new Nikon DX 7200 at a wonderful price!

What an amazing coincidence I thought – NOT!

Then Saturday morning I logged in to play a couple of Microsoft games (Xbox versions on my PC – you know that all work and no play make Wayne a duller boy than usual) and low and behold, the drop in ads were from – you guessed it! – Best Buy – Samsung 65” TVs and Henry’s Nikon DX 7200 camera.

Got to hand it to those guys – they are really working the system. However, if those two Retailers have responded that quickly to some marginal browsing data, you may want to consider the personal data that some big vacuum cleaner data mining guy is building on each and every one of us.

Big Brother Number 2 – actually #1 – The Canada Revenue Agency. (CRA – the wonderful Tax Squad). Regular correspondents with me but let’s leave that for another day.

Last week I sat down with my trusty Turbo Tax for a first blush look at my 2017 government donations for a better Canada. The numbers made me wonder why I even bother working but again leave for another day.

This year since I have that nice personal account with my CRA friends and since Turbo Tax is basically idiot proof, I decided to download directly all of those tax forms that my friendly income associates had already kindly forwarded to the spy network on my behalf. What a surprise (or not) to find that my CRA friends already had every one of the forms I would have needed to manually enter to complete my taxes. – T4, T5, T4PS, T5000 and whatever.

As a salaried employee, that begs the question – Why do I have to even bother doing my taxes?

Just send me “another” money grab request or, heaven forbid, a refund.

  • Are the CRA guys just sitting back hoping to catch me “cheating” – by omission or commission?
  • Are the CRA heavy investors in Tax prep software and services?
  • Is this just another way to propagate and grow civil service jobs?
  • Does the CRA just like grinding this odious task in all our faces?

Or, All of the above.

Yes, before you tell me – what about “other” deductions? Not a big deal just have an additional deduction form you can send in – if you have any – to have them adjust your statement (medical. charitable, whatever) or have one on-line form on your CRA account and you’re done.

Probably the real reason that they don’t do this is the would likely screw it up and no one would trust “Them”.

But remember – You are being watched – by everyone – everywhere – everyday – and – someday when you least expect it, someone will come up to you, tap you on the shoulder  and say “Smile. You’re on Candid Camera!” Now turn around and put your hands behind your back.

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The Day of Reckoning. . .


The Day of Reckoning. . .

The Day of reckoning arrived and I survived. I think it was somewhere back in July that I bought a Groupon from The Wine Butler – Half batch – 14 bottles for $39. I had used a Vin Bon the year before and made a batch of Cabernet Sauvignon that turned out well – at least for the few bottles I got as they seemed to disappear regularly.

Any way in late August I wandered into The Wine Butler in Mississauga to start my batch and negotiated a deal with them. I said I did not want to have to make two trips there simply to make a half batch so what kind of deal could they offer to add another full batch of 26 – 28 bottles. They have a $100 coupon that they offer after your first batch and they offered to let me use that up front! Great deal – I ended up with 14 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon (Italian) and 27 bottles of Merlot (Chilean) for a total of $89! Just over $2 per bottle. Wonderful, as long as the wine turned out.

Went back in September and bottled it (by myself – no help) and took it home. Stashed it in the basement to put it out of sight and out of mind and left it.

Wednesday night, for some unknown reason, I decided it was time to find out if I had wine or a large quantity of cooking stuff (possibly as a result of a challenging day at the office). Popped a bottle of the Merlot and was pleased with how it turned out.

Wine 2

If anything, it is a bit “mild”. One down, now how about the Cab?

Shaun and Becky had a belated birthday party for Lilly yesterday so being the fearless sommelier I took a bottle of each with me and opened them up. I liked the Cab as it had a crisp taste to it and apparently, I was not they only one as it got some repeat business.

I don’t profess to be a wine “expert” – read “snob”, but I do know what I like. I may have been lucky in my batches so far but at $2+ a bottle, which I would compare to a $12 – $15 bottle from the LCBO, I have no complaints and wonder why there is not more of this going on. Guess some folks are too snooty to serve a “homemade” label.

If I can’t scam any more “first time” customer deals, I may have to pay the normal discounted price. It seems like the so-called retail is around $200 with a normal discount of around 40% typically available. That leaves it around $5+ a bottle which is still a good deal.

Now I just have to hide my supply so it does not go “missing”!

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Please save us from ourselves – Not!


Please save us from ourselves – Not!

Probably another unpopular view, but the extent to which “authorities” are trying to save us from ourselves (AKA avoid litigation) has reached mind numbing levels and just grates on me.

Big Brother

My current personal favourite is Arena Netting. The NHL fatality was a terrible accident and not to be dismissed. However, that incident has morphed into almost every arena you are in, regardless of size or calibre of play, being draped with netting around anywhere there may be a spectator and oftentimes where there aren’t any. The netting is not standard – has a variety of weights, colours, mesh size and placement depending apparently on what was on sale when the powers that be thought – “Holy Crap – we better do this before we get sued”.

As an amateur photographer this drives me nuts as the different “grades” of netting play hell with auto focus – especially as you try to follow those speeding 7 year olds up and down the ice. Plus it often leaves distracting elements (usually out of focus) in the picture.

Implementation of the “netting” approach is often not thought through at all (or at least it appears that way). Example – Oakville’s Sixteen Mile Sports Complex – a great facility (other than the “miss” on stairway placement) has four pads – 3 NHL size, fully netting  equipped and one Olympic size – no netting on the sides since it is the prestige “bowl” where the Blades play and who wants to watch Jr A through a net? But think about it – if careening pucks are a safety issue – who will do the damage – my 7 year old Tyke Terror with his howitzer shot or some amped up Junior young man who unleashed a bullet. Just saying.

I remember going to the old Stratford Warriors games at “The Barn” and hanging over the boards – never mind no netting – there was no glass either on the side boards. Guess what – you watched the game and the puck! I go to games now and see all kinds of non-game watching activity going on in the crowd – partially because everyone is now “safe”.

But remember, this is the age of save us from ourselves. Let’s teach everyone there is no risk in anything because Big Brother is going to watch over you.

Oh BTW – please clean the glass on the inside if you expect me to shoot through it!

Having dealt with Arena trauma, how long before Major League Baseball jumps on the band wagon and extends their backstop screens to cover the whole diamond from foul pole to foul pole and around the outfield fence? Then I wonder if it will migrate down to minor league parks and to what extent. We have all seen rocket line drives, slippery and broken bats go flying into the crowd – just as, if not more dangerous than most hockey pucks. At spring training where fans are often closer to the action I have seen fans ambulanced away from games after a close encounter of the worst kind.

Some other classics – just simple stuff.

Favourite school activities as a kid – Red Rover, British Bulldog and Snowball fights. Try any of that today and guess what – you won’t have fun – you will be sent home and or suspended for anti-social, dangerous behaviour.

That’s if you get to school in the first place. I love getting up in the morning and listening to all the school bus cancellations if there seems to be any possibility it may snow. No one wants to run the risk of the potential liability suits if, heaven forbid, that a bus gets into a fender bender. Snow days are now a national pastime. Again back in the day, I rode a bus to High School every day (well at least I was supposed to be going to school). Neither rain, snow, ice, drifts or blizzards kept our bus driver from his appointed rounds. Nor was it expected to. Many the wild ride we had ploughing through the snow in our big yellow beast with zero visibility to unfortunately get to school. If we got stuck – Jerry’s remedy was to tell all the guys to get out and push! Somehow we survived and potentially learned something about commitment.

My final “bitch” for today is kid’s car seats. Not that I don’t think they are a good idea. I am fully supportive of common sense use. As a kid, my regular rides “unfettered” in the back of my uncle’s pick-up truck would earn somebody big time fines or jail time today. But, back in the day, this was the normal, and generally accepted, approved and allowed form of transportation from point A to Point B for excess passenger transportation. Of course we were told to sit down and not get up and walk around or stand up holding onto the cab to feel the breeze!

However, the planned obsolescence, known as “money grab” for the 5 year life cycle is ridiculous. Given that kids are in a flavour of seat for more than five years it at minimum doubles the market. The seats are made of hopefully quality material that does not magically implode after 5 years and guess what, the primary restraint, usually the car’s seat belt has no arbitrary life cycle. Big Brother’s math here is wonderful – a family with three kids and two cars will often have six car seats to accommodate who is doing what when. So, if they need to be “replaced” on the five year curve we are talking a minimum of 12 car seats – often $300+ each or close to $4,000. Hmmmm.

As grandparents (with 3 GKs) we are not equipped to handle all three at once – we have a car seat and a booster seat so we can deal with two at a time. Given the perhaps once a week or every two weeks exposure is it reasonable to expect that we are going to replace these seats to avoid catastrophic five year failure??? I think not – so that makes us law breaking criminals?

But remember – We are being saved from ourselves.

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Grow a Pair


Grow a Pair

This morning I watched Team Canada ladies hockey team play the “Olympic Athletes from Russia”. We beat them handily which was good but that team and any other “Olympic Athletes from Russia” should not be there and should not be competing. Russia as a country was tagged as a notorious and state sanctioned and supported purveyor of performance enhancing drugs for its athletes and therefore “banned” by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from these games. But wait! Not so.

Subsequently, the lacking in intestinal fortitude IOC then decided to allow the “clean” Russian Athletes as in the potentially not caught yet athletes to compete as “independents”.

I am flat out against this. The athletes in the Olympics are competing for their countries. Yes they earn the medals as individuals or teams but the games are structured around national participation. Either you are in or you are out. There should be no middle ground for Russia or anyone else. It is a tough call for the individuals but somebody has to stand for something.

While maybe not a perfect comparison, the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics – often referred to the Boycott Games had 65 countries that did not send athletes. 80 countries did not have the same backbone or morale values and did sent athletes. In fairness it was a country by country national choice.

1980-Moscow-Soviet-Union-Olympics

To my knowledge none of those countries that boycotted the games had any athletes that participated as independent “Olympic Athletes from _____”. The country was out – all athletes were out. While this may be the flip side of the current Russian situation, a lot of athletes in 1980 lost what may have been their only opportunity to compete for Olympic Gold based on their country’s actions.

Interesting that the 1980 boycott was in protest over the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. 38 years later it is still a battleground and once again it is Russia essentially contravening the “morale values” and rules regarding the Olympics but their athletes still get a chance to compete!

Throw them out.

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Olympic Bloat for Gloat!


It used to be, at least to me, that both the summer and winter Olympics were about classic sports and the “prestige” events only in each one.

Olympics lasted around a week, had a limited number of events each day and you knew many if not most of the athletes by the reputations they had built if you were a follower of that sport.

Over the years these “Spartan” Olympic games have morphed into something unrecognizable when considered against the early games – let alone what the early Greek originators would think.

A classic example is curling. A sport that has been in, out and now in again. I love curling as a sport, was a high school skip, and keep trying to convince myself to get reacquainted. So far so good.

But – Mixed Doubles! Give me a break – that’s nuts, it’s not curling and it should not be an Olympic sport. No offense meant to Morris and Lawes who are both great curlers and will represent us well but this is not curling.

Mixed Doubles

Curling is a four person team game. A Skip, Vice, Lead and Second. One person (Skip) calls the shots, another member throws and two sweep. Two rocks each, eight or ten ends – that’s the game.

“Mixed Doubles” with two on a team one calling (usually but not always – sometimes as pictured no one in the house to call the line but out sweeping) – one throwing is goofy – I don’t know the rules as I have not watched it but I envision someone pushing off from the hack, firing their rock and then chasing it down the ice to sweep.

The games used to be about competing to identify the World Champion with a one shot win every four years. There is still a “Champ” but the games are now all about entertainment, spectacle, and putting on the “Big Show”.

To quantify there will be a record 102 Gold medals handed out over 15 different disciplines. To make my silliness point, Alpine skiing events are a long term classic series of events – they rate 11 golds. Not to be outdone, upstart Freestyle skiing (AKA how to try to kill yourself) gets 11 as well.

Figure skating has managed to stretch the classic men’s and women’s to now 5 gold events but compare that to the newbie snowboarders who can grab 11 golds this Olympics.

Looking at dollars and cents emphasizes even more that this is seen by many as big business – not sport. Sochi apparently sunk $50 Billion plus into the last winter event. South Korea was going to put on a “modest” Olympics and stories say their spend is now north of $15 Billion, including a stadium that will only be used for the opening and closing ceremonies and then torn down ($109 Million bucks). Would not have expected that South Korea would have had this pile of dough to spend or could not have found a better use for it. South Korea is not a Winter Olympics power – but they may do well in short track speed skating if they wipe out enough competitors.

However, I have saved the best(?) for last. It is expected that this will go down as the raunchiest Olympics ever with indoor sport playing a record role. Organisers are handing out 110,000 condoms to athletes taking part in PyeongChang this year (need I say another record). I don’t think they are all intended to keep snow out of rifle barrels. With 2,925 athletes taking part (and somewhere near half female), my simple math says that stocks each athlete with 37 of the little raincoats. Wonder how that will affect performance – or are all reserved for post game action?

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I’m Back – Maybe!


the King 3

For a number of years – sometimes religiously – often sporadic, I maintained a blog on my personal minorhockeyfan site. I gave up the site (a lot of time and effort) and sort of abandoned any posting using my WordPress account – which was setup to automatically also post to Facebook.
My personal time is still at a premium. I still work for a living (although “retirement” is starting to look a lot more attractive). however, the “Off Hours” still seem to get gobbled up rather quickly – my computer nerd activities, my interest in digital photography, the “Honey Do” list that never seems to get any shorter and family time – Ben (Hockey / Lacrosse), Lily (Hockey / Dance) and Oliver (General 2 year old Terrorist activities). I found the blog was a good family chronicle and I often looked back (and often laughed) at what “we” had been up to.
I also like to take what may be considered a contentious position on some topics or float an opinion or comment that I know will likely get some people riled up (just because I can).
So – having said that, I am going to take another stab at going at it again.
Have no idea how this will work out but time will tell.
Who knows what will show up here but that is half the fun “what is that lunatic going to post next”?
Stay tuned and see.
Teaser – Olympics – you’ve got to be kidding me!PyeongChang2018Logo

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Who Cares? – Apparently Not Many and Not Much!


Warning – Mature Content and Opinion!

Thursday night I went to watch the Minor Peewee Red MOHA House League Championship game at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex. I had just heard that the MOHA (finally) were going to recognize Mike Zardo who passed away last June.

mike-z

I came home afterwards as the saying goes “ready to chew nails and spit fire”!  I have applied the “24 hour rule”, and then some, but it hasn’t helped much.

Basically no one was invited and I was lucky to find out about it as Debbie called us.

Mike’s wife, Debbie, only found out about it 2 or 3 days ahead of time via a phone voice mail.

With no disrespect to the Minor Peewee kids, The “recognition” was a trophy for the division’s sportsmanship award with a short spiel lifted from the article the Beaver was finally pressured into running that was provided by Debbie based on the recommendation letter I wrote when Mike was awarded the OMHA Honour Award (a real recognition award) in 2008.

After this “non-event” the agenda quickly moved on to their other prestigious awards –  best defenseman, best goalie etc.

I would say it was a joke, except that it is not funny. The organization would have been better off doing nothing rather than embarrassing themselves with this token award, slap in the face. Anyone involved in orchestrating or supporting this decision should be ashamed!

What a choice!

  • The players in the Minor Peewee division were not even playing in the association when Mike was president
  • Most parents, especially for this age group, would not have a clue who Mike was, let alone what he did for the Association
  • Mike apparently did not even merit having a championship trophy dedicated to hin, as has been done for others who contributed orders of magnitude less.
  • The “award” does not even register on any kind of scale compared to the recognition he got from his peers and the Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s Honour Award but I guess that is not relevant or important to the local folks.
  • Mike was the President, face of, and champion for minor hockey and the kids of Oakville for over 20 years, as well as contributing in other ways for 30.
  • He rescued a bankrupt organization and brought it to the sound financial state it was in when he left with established controls, checks and balances.
  • He gave up most of his evenings and week-ends, nearly year round to support the association, the parents and kids – doing so as a non-parent volunteer and at the expense of his own family time..
  • Developing his “Rhino” hide as the one who took the heat from any league or team official or parent or player who did not get their way and felt the need to complain about it.

At the end of the day this was a thoughtless and insulting gesture make by a group of folks who wanted to be able to say they “checked the recognition box”.

I could go on and on about all of the big and little and unnoticed things that Mike did thanklessly day in and day out but there is no point. The thanklessness has now been extended to him and appears to be the way things are run these days.

People wonder why it is so hard to get good volunteers? Well wonder no more. The “What’s in it for me” here and now, self-interest crowd holds sway.

In case anyone is interested, I have included in the following, the content that was provided and ran (belatedly and under pressure) by the Beaver.

For the uninitiated, I worked with Mike for over 10 years, the last 8 as Vice President of House League. We did not get off to a good start (a whole other story), but I did see and share what he did and put up with to provide the level of excellence that MOHA established and maintained during his tenure. It truly is unfortunate that this is the result.

MIKE ZARDO     1949-2016

As folks prepare for the 2016/17 hockey season, it is important to note that Oakville lost an icon this summer with the passing of Mike Zardo in June.

In 1974 when Mike’s son Rod played his first year of hockey in Oakville there was a shortage of coaches in the organization and after complaining to his wife Debbie that they needed more help she told him to do something about it or stop complaining. These words came back to haunt Debbie as he dedicated much of his life to the MOHA.

For over 20 years Mike was the face of minor hockey in our community, serving as the President of the Minor Oaks Hockey Association. Mike always took pride in championing what was the right decision for minor hockey participants, not necessarily what would be the easiest or most popular choice.

Many times this was a difficult process but Mike always stood by his convictions, despite whatever criticisms are directed at him. The “kids” always come first.

As a volunteer, Mike’s commitment knew no bounds. On almost any evening he could be found in the “hockey office” ready to lend a hand. Parents would show up “expecting him to be there and he was.

Mike served the local association as President from 1986 until his “retirement” in 2008 except for a brief hiatus in 1993 where he still served as Vice President, Town Rep, discipline Chair and Equipment Manager. Mike returned as President from his brief “sabbatical” to rescue an organization that had fallen on hard time. The association was literally bankrupt, with major ice bills outstanding with the Town of Oakville, as well as debts to other suppliers and significant organizational challenges.

Mike spearheaded the “turn-around” efforts that brought MOHA back to a solid financial footing. His roll up your sleeves and find it / fix it approach motivated his team and revitalized the organization. Thanks to Mike’s untiring efforts, MOHA now operates on a sound financial basis, has built a responsible surplus and has established comprehensive financial and operating controls.

Mike established the MOHA as a role model organization within the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) with annual audited statements, mandated team budgets and regularly reviewed bylaws.

Prior to assuming his Presidential role, Mike contributed to the organization for a number of years, dating back to 1982, as a coach and convenor at a number of levels.

As President, Mike shepherded Minor Oaks growth from less than 1,500 participants to close to 4,000 in 2008

Player Development

Mike was a strong advocate of Hometown hockey and local player development. He was a key driver in promoting the Mitron High Performance Hockey System for Oakville. Mike saw the need for a consistent tool for Town Rep coaches to develop players throughout the age groups and ability levels, and to help the coaches work together to achieve these results.

House League development was also a key focus for Mike with his roots in coaching and convening. Mike recognized the importance of giving kids a great start and was a key supporter of MOHA’s revamped Initiation Program. The focus on coach and player development, created a House League program where teams are often deemed “too competitive” for other centres House or Local League events.

Peer Recognition

A key indication of Mike’s contributions to minor hockey is the recognition of his peers. As a long term member of the SCTA and Tri County organizations, Mike was an acknowledged resource on issues and concerns and in sessions, it is often “what Oakville thinks” that carried the day.

The OMHA has also recognized Mike’s hockey contributions over the years. Mike was appointed as the original “905” area representative in the groundwork leading to the formation of the Lake Ontario Region.

His contributions were further recognized in 2008 when Mike was awarded the prestigious OMHA “Honour Award”. The Honour Award was established to honour a person who has made an outstanding voluntary contribution to minor hockey for a considerable period of time. Mike is the only local recipient of this award since it was established in 1948.

Community Involvement

In addition to his MOHA duties, Mike has also taken an active role in supporting youth in the community. As a coach, Mike was approached by the Syl Apps Youth Centre to take on two of their charges as players as an opportunity for these young men to enjoy a recreational outlet and support their rehabilitation.

He also established the “President’s Fund” to support players with financial difficulties and worked with the Big Brothers organization.

While President, Mike also found the time to lend support to the local High School hockey program by serving as the Head Coach for the Purdue hockey team.

Mike also contributed to the Parks and recreation Master plan, was an ongoing participant is ice allocation planning, a key proponent of the “Youth First” policy and was a member of the River Oaks Recreation Centre expansion building committee.

Mike stepped away from hockey in 2008 to spend time with his family.  He was a devoted Papa to his grandchildren Nicholas and Chloe, whom he adored, but always maintained his interest in the game.

He is sadly missed by his much loved wife Debbie and son Rod and all who knew him.

 

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