Tuesday, November 27, 2018

ROBBLOG #754- Radio Daze

I do feel sorry for all those Oshawa, Ontario Autoworkers who may be out of a job when the General Motors plant closes next year.

How many thousands of people will be unemployed? A major downturn for the City of Oshawa and area and I know because I lived next door in Pickering once upon a time and worked in Radio in Oshawa- two stations, as well as Durham at CHOO Country Radio.
It was a lifetime ago but GM was an integral part of the community.

GM was everything and Gawd help you if you drove a Ford or a non-Canadian made car. You'd get the middle finger salute when stopped at a light while driving down Taunton Road. My friend Lynda who also worked at these statiuons had a non GM car and she always spoke of rude encounters of the GM kind.

Now, I read that the PM and even Ontario Premier Doug Ford- who only got 40% of the vote and won a majority, are getting all talky-talky trying to save jobs.

I know that's big and I am little but no one from any government tried to save my radio job the day I walked into a Manager's Office at a radio station and asked-
"How come I'm not on the schedule for next week?"
The Manager looked up from his desk for a minute and said-
"Because I don't have anything for you."
He looked back down at his desk and continued to do what he was doing.
I walked out.
That was almost my radio goodbye

No one cared that I was without a job.
Apparently there was no money and no room at the inn.
A government department didn't infuse money into that station so I could keep my job or new jobs could be made.
Not at all.
I was on a contract and because I was over the magic age of 50, nobody in radio wanted me.
Sad, eh?

These are my very own Online Stations broadcasting today.
Check out www.swisssh.ca or look to the right of this Blog
Just a couple of weeks ago a Toronto station's entire morning and afternoon show was canned. An Edmonton morning show in the same chain also let go. That's the way in Radio. Over the years I made it through two such cuts.
It's not easy to find a new job in radio but no government department stepped in with an infusion of cash or help either.

I did work at one other station afterwards but that only lasted another year or so because youngsters would work for less than an "older" man- namely me and I got pushed around. Actually pushed closer to the door.
I didn't make a great wage to begin with and there was no pension. That's something that I tell young folks who ask about going into broadcasting today.
There's no security and plan for your future retirement.

I did work at another station that was the reason Orillia, Ontario got a second FM station a few years back. It was because of a guy named Nick who started a station without going through all the "proper" channels. He was legal- sort of, until area stations complained. The big boys knew the little station was getting listeners. Nick wanted a community station so very badly. Finally, the CRTC said he had to shut down and apply through proper channels. He did and several more did. I was at the CRTC hearings and Nick lost. A company that already had several stations won.
Fuck the little guy.

So, that was really my last terrestrial station.
It was in the next year that I started Swisssh- almost 12 years ago now, from a home studio and eventually Starlite.
How long will these stations last?
I don't honestly know but they both survived the moved to the Island and right now they are both in the Holiday Mood.

Am I getting rich?
I don't get a dime.
I pay my own way with servers and my yearly SOCAN fees for music.

If I had a few hundred thousand, I'd even consider hiring a voice or two. Going "live" on air more and maybe even making a difference with my style of radio.
I am proud of both of my stations and you know what?
I did it all by myself with a little technical help from Charles and help from other radio friends- like Heather and Don who were also displaced long the way.

If Justin is reading this or any other Government-type person and you've got a few thousand dollars laying stuffed in a drawer, you can cut me a cheque today or drop off the drawer's contents.

I'd be ever so glad and thankful.

Monday, November 26, 2018

ROBBLOG #753- Medical Mayhem..sort of

Holy Shit!
I need a new headshot!

I'll work on that. This one above is not exactly recent but it'll do.
I don't have a photographer here on the island. Maybe I'll try for a selfie one day- when I feel I look younger.

Anyhoo, I am not here to write about headshots.
First off, I do apologize if I don't get a lot of new stuff on here at times. I know it's been a week now but last week I had two blogs posted within days so, give me some credit.
I am happy that folks read these blogs and insinuate I don't write enough.
Cripes it's better than telling me to shut my pie hole!

So, today my Dears, a tale of hospitals.
First off- I hate hospitals.
I do.
They have sick people inside.
Hospitals smell like insoles that have been in forgotten in a pair of black rubber boots sitting down under the cellar steps for years.

I have been at our local Cowichan General once before- in emergency no less. Not to worry.
I did survive that experience. Hated it but survived.
Ever noticed just how many sick people hospitals have all over the place and why do guerneys filled with soiled linen always get wheeled by me?
I guess it's all part of the daily routine of having people in rooms and wheeled about in beds who are not so much on the well side.

Anyway, today I had to go to get hooked up to this machine for 24 hrs.
Oh, I am home now away from the smells and airless corridors and the soled linen being wheeled past. This gadget that will be a part of me for 24 hours. It works while I go about my normal day measuring how pissed off I get at hospitals- among other things!
Now, I don't expect to die right away. I am really hoping for another three decades- if I can still walk, talk, pee and dress myself.

The problem at present is my freeking blood pressure. It's not enough that I take drugs for high cholesterol- something I never dreamed I would have.
High cholesterol is like getting an early Christmas Gift- like a fucking tie.

Now, when Doctor Kate took my pressure in her office a couple of weeks ago. I could see in my peripheral vision that she wasn't pleased.
It was a look of "Cripes! That's high" or "Are you kidding me Rob?"
Now listen, I have white coat syndrome even though Dr. Kate was not wearing a white lab coat at the time. I knew I'd be up there like a rocket on the First of July!!

So, I had choices and I took door number three.
A trip to the hospital.
Now look. I know these folks work hard and are tired and possibly overworked but I didn't force them to work in the medical field.
Cripes on a Cracker, I mean, I am not familiar with this end of hospital, the staff, or this fucking machine I am hooked up to.

I took the stairs to the third floor from the lobby and trying to hold my breath, I wandered a couple of hallways until I saw little black and white signs that said ECG.
Maybe they said EGG.
I dunno. I didn't have my glasses. Eventually, I found the room number.
The door was cracked open so, I stepped inside.
Nobody at the desk.
I stood and waited. There was no chair. I stood.

Soon, a gal came along. No name, no good afternoon. No small talk just- What are you here for?
I wanted to say a large coffee with milk but I didn't.
I told her what she needed to know and she sat me at the end of the hall next to two women who's perfume was Eau de Curry.
Real nice.
I held my breath ~gasp~.

Soon, a voice shouted out from down the hall from whence I came- Rob!
I went round the corner and back to 336.

Like trying on shoes in a shoe shop, I was fitted for a cuff and a black box that had a strap going around my waist like the smoke that resembled the wreath that encircled Santa's head. I was told when to expect this thing to inflate and what to do.
She asked when I retired.
I said a few years ago.
She said- "No, when do you go to bed- and get up!"
Yes...I knew that...
After midnight- and late in the morning.
She stopped fidgeting with the device and looked at me.
I smiled, realizing she thought I was a lazy cow.
"I'm retired"- I said and smiled broadly.
She was not amused. At least it was the correct answer this time.

That was it.
Do I come back at the same time tomorrow? Do I remove this appendage and drop it off? What?
"Yes" she said, "same time tomorrow" and walked out the door.
Earlier, she had also asked me if it was still raining.
Hmmm, my umbrella was dripping wet onto the floor as I hooked it onto the back of a chair

I had other questions like- I guess I take it off when I shower in the morning.
Am I supposed to shower?
I did mention walking and she said- "You don't want to raise your blood pressure and that's what your walk would do."
Sound advice.
I wanted to ask if I could run up our stairs like I usually do- but I didn't.

If I rated my experience out of 5 stars?
Maybe 2. I might go to 2 1/2- if I included the couple of staff members who said hello and smiled at me while I walked up and down the 6 flights of stairs to the third floor both going and coming.
However, the smells also prevented me from rating my visit higher.

I think people in these type of buildings are comfortable working in that environment and therefore know the place like the veins on the back of their Grandmother's legs.
I don't.
I find it confusing. Signs everywhere but not the one you're looking for.
Did I mention the smells?

Oh and Ontario listen up.
I had to pay $40 for this opportunity to be checked for 24 hours. I never remember paying for anything medical-related back in Ontaryoh- well, ambulance- but here in British Columbia the game is different. We even get billed a set amount every few months for the opportunity to see one's Doctor or seek medical help on those things that are covered. On the other hand one can sell one's piece of shit car to an unsuspecting buyer without a government sanctioned safety check. Probably why you
see cars on lawns everywhere with For Sale etched into old pieces of cardboard with a black magic marker and then taped to windshields.

So, a few hours to go and then- according to a sign I did see, my Doctor should get the results in a week.

Christ on a Cracker, I could be plucking harp strings by then!

UPDATE: I returned to have my BPM removed today and the gal from yesterday says again when she sees me:
"What are you here for?" 
Now this shows me she really has no connection to the public she cares for since in 24 hrs she has forgotten my face. On the other hand maybe this is the same greeting everyone receives. She's busy. She has things on her mind and gets to the point. Another attendant comes in and is all smiles. She's pleasant. Asks how I am and how can she help? We go into an adjoining room. She helps me remove the monitor. We joke a bit and laugh and I leave happy remembering her face and her happy manner. I thank both of them as I trot off down the hall to the stairs. 
Thank you Cowichan Hospital.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

ROBBLOG #752- Maybe I am Old

Holy Shite! Maybe I am old!

Things are starting to happen. Kooky things. Senior moments.
Oh, I don't just mean today but in the past year or so.

Misplacing stuff is commonplace.
I've been looking for a black belt with a brown leather tip for weeks now. I wore it over the summer but I'll be damned if I know where it is now.

Last year when trying to find my way around Duncan, time after time I had trouble remembering the order of the cross streets along Canada Avenue. Beverley, James, Coronation then, Trunk. No wait, Sherman Road is first then Coronation...or is it York Street?
No. York is on the other side of the Island Highway.
Still after a year and three months in this City I still find myself doubting myself when I am out driving around without the Mister as a co-pilot.
It's getting better but at times it all feels so unfamiliar.

Then, just before I sat down to write this blog, I went to a kitchen drawer where I was sure I had seen a small cord with a night light receptacle on the end. I wanted to light up a "plastic" Santa face I used to hang out every Christmas in the 1960's when we lived on Cochrane Street, back in Orillia. I've kept the face but these days the plastic is very brittle. I thought I'd display it one more year on our protected lanai. Safe from the weather.

The original cord- a cloth cord, was in bad shape. I had already wrapped black electrical tape around it a few years ago to protect the wire but this year when I plugged the cord in the little, soft white bulb flickered.
A short.
Worn out wire.
Hence, I knew exactly where to put my hands on the new cord with the 7 watt bulb socket on one end and a perfectly good plug on the other.
No deal.
I can't find the F&%$ing thing...anywhere!

Then today, before coming out of Costco, I took the Latte I bought at the snack bar and wedged it in the shopping cart between a Chicken Pot Pie, a warm, fresh from the broiler BarBQue Chicken and a bag of buns. You see, I needed a free hand to push the cart and show my itemized bill at the exit. The young man in a nicely pressed blue shirt reached out and I passed the bill onto him to show what I had bought. He drew a straight, green line through the items on the bill and wished me a good evening. The Mister- at this point, had gone on ahead to unlock the van and check on Koko- our mini-Schnauzer, who was with us. He probably found her curled up in her basket in the rear seat.

I pushed the shopping cart out the door and along the side of the building over a speed bump and into the parking lot. Seconds later I looked down into the cart and saw my Latte on its side. The cup's contents were leaking through the basket onto the items below- including a Tuxedo Cake and a Christmas Cake!
Oh Shit!

I stopped the cart and began to wipe up the mess with a couple of snack bar napkins I had tucked into my jean's pocket. The Mister was a few parking spaces away. He saw what I was doing and walked over to ask what was going on.
I was spitting bricks.
F%$#ing speed bump.
F$%#ing Late.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!

Standing under a parking lot light at the back of the van, we wiped the Latte from the edge of the Tuxedo Cake's packaging but couldn't save the "Christmas Gift".
It was soaked with liquid that had that yummy, familiar Latte scent.
We wouldn't be able to wrap this and leave it under the tree.
So, my lovely, understanding husband not only went back inside Costco to purchase the same gift one more time but he also picked me up another Latte.
Isn't he swell?
He treats old folks very nicely.

Possum's- don't let this happen to you!
I didn't want to push my luck but I did say I'd drive home- and I slid into the driver's side of the van before he came back out from the store.
Stop snickering...

"I can do this."
I repeated that mantra about a half dozen times to my old man Reid self.

However, all the way down Island from Nanaimo to Duncan, I questioned my ability to see in the dark- even with my distance glasses on.
As the Mister was checking e-mail on his iPhone, I watched carefully for signage so as not to end up in the Pacific or at least in the direction of the Pacific on the highway that leads to the Duke Point BC Ferries Terminal. Why imagine if I had made a wrong turn off Trans Canada 1 in the early evening November darkness:

Approaching the ticket queue lineup- because I couldn't turn around or at least see clearly to turn around in the darkness I might have said to the gal in the ticket booth-

"I'm awfully sorry Ma'am and you'll think this is very funny but you see, sadly, I made the
wrong turn back on the Island Highway and I really meant to continue along to Duncan, not take the Ferry to Horseshoe Bay and Vancouver."

She might not have found it too funny and maybe would have asked to see my licence. She would have slid the little glass window closed and after doing so pick up the phone and nod to me while smiling cautiously.
Probably calling the cops on me.

We did make it home and I have to say night driving these days is not the same as when I was in my 30's or 40's. Maybe even 50's...

It was not a rainy night, for that only adds another challenge while driving up island or down island on the Island Highway. The dry road lay ahead in the van's lights and I followed it sipping my Latte at each traffic light along the way as I listened to Starlite on the radio.
I had to stop at every light all the way down island.
Every damn light.

Now, we're safely home and inside but before calling it a night I might just have one more quick little look for that black belt with the brown leather tip.

Who knows, I might find something I was looking for last month!
Good Grief. Pass the depends...that's another story for another time.

Monday, November 19, 2018

ROBBLOG #751-Good News?

Anne Murray sang it a few years ago- We need a little good news today...

Some days it feels few and far between.
Those are the news stories that make us smile or say- that's good. They can be hard to find.

One good news story is our ten dollar bill featuring Viola Desmond appears today. She was a successful business woman and the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. Miss Desmond was removed from a New Glasgow, Nova Scotia movie house when she sat in the "whites only" section and refused to leave.
She was escorted from the cinema to jail by police.

What? In Canada you say? Lovely little all-accepting Canada
Yup. I do say.

We have our dark moments. I mean Ford is Premier of Ontario!
You've heard of that Catholic Boys School St Michael's in Toronto? Apparently they teach boys how to be men and be pillars of the community. Not all, unfortunately.
Some get the idea that sticking a broom handle up a fellow student's ass is fun and exciting and just may teach little faggots a lesson.

These boys need to be thrown out of school permanently. Maybe the Pope can fly over and scourge them. They've been arrested and will have something to explain on their records for years to come, well, unless it gets swept under the rug of Holy Catholicism.
I say nail 'em up!
Was that my outside voice?

Anyhoo, back to pleasant stories.
The Santa Claus Parade happened in Toronto on  Sunday. We watched it on television as we are here on Vancouver Island. It was jolly but they never show enough of the marching bands. These days the telecast is rather like one big television commercial after another as the huge floats roll by. I'll bet it takes mega bucks to put on such a display these days. I wonder how much Eaton's put aside each year to present their Eaton's Santa Claus Parade? It was a sight to behold and they did it all by themselves.
Those were the days.

We are driving over the Malahat to Victoria on Saturday to see the Santa Light Parade. That'll be fun. Thousands of lights and marching bands too. Then, next week the small 6,000 strong community of Ladysmith- about 20 minutes north of us here in the Cowichan, presents a huge light parade that takes about an hour and a half to pass by. Last year it was magnificent!
Much easier to have evening parades here with milder temps and no snow. I'm not sure a lot of folks would turn out on a cold November night in "old home" of Orillia, Ontario if their Santa Parade shifted to nightime.

Did you see the photos of the small bear cub rescued from Downtown Huntsville Ontario? He'd been hanging around- obviously separated from his mother, at an intersection when citizens became concerned. A police officer picked him up and placed him on the back seat of the cruiser where he curled up and went to sleep. The cub was taken to a sanctuary.

Finally, there was the heart-warming picture of an officer holding a baby while the babe's mother filed an abuse report. Apparently, the officer cuddled and kept watch while all the paperwork was completed.
This is good stuff.

You may have to look a little harder for it but there are some good news stories out there.
Thank goodness for that!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

ROBBLOG #750- Fah Lah Lovember

There was a time back in Ontario when I would shutter at the thought of this month called November.

Cool- if not cold.
Rainy and gray.
Wet snow and frozen snow- and

I'm not thinking that way here on the left coast of Canada.
We've had many days of sunshine here this autumn and lately, only a couple of rain-soaked mornings that turned into sunny afternoons. As a matter of fact this past weekend when Orillia back in Ontario, has been seeing snow and ice and wind chills of minus 11, we here in the Cowichan on Vancouver Island have been enjoying morning coffee in the sunshine and afternoon walks in shorts and a sweatshirt.

We are lucky here.
Oh, it's no Florida but we don't see minus 11 either- or snow and blowing snow like I saw in the video on the Weather Network this past Saturday. Much of our garden is still green- although a couple of cold overnights caused the huge elephant ear-sized leaves of my Red Abyssinian Banana plant to droop and go mushy. Yet, nearby the New Zealand Flax, a  towering green banana plant and the Cordyline are all as they were.

Today, I decided to look back over blogs I had written years ago to see what comments I had made in November. Here's one thought from November 2014:

"We seem to be stuck in the midst of dull and grey. This is when I hear- this is exactly what the west coast is like. Would you want to live there? Yes!! Chances are there will be no snow...some mornings I am afraid to open the shutters (in Ontario)..."

I don't sound like a happy camper- do I? I continue:

"We have to keep busy this month. Have a coffee with friends. Go to the theatre. Get out for a walk in the soggy, damp, miserable air."

Sounds like a dismal scene setup for Dicken's- A Christmas Carol.

I go on to talk about turning both my Online radio stations-Swisssh and Starlite, into Christmas Jukeboxes. I mention a radio station manager who says:

"I get asked in October when is the Christmas Music starting. Holiday Music is like comfort food, you know Macaroni and Cheese, only Let it Snow and It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."

This is true since I see many, many, many additional listeners on both stations once I play nothing buy Holiday Tunes. This season marks the 10th anniversary of Swisssh playing all holiday music under the moniker of "Your OFFICIAL" Holiday Music Station". We lose a few regulars until closer to Christmas but we more than make up for that with seasonal listenership.

What can it hurt playing Christmas Tuues now?. I have heard of  many stations- both Terrestrial and Online, playing 100% Christmas already and what does it hurt keeping a few "Scrooges" in Holiday check a little early. Who cares if the Grinch starts to smile in Mid-November instead of Christmas Eve?

It's November on the Island too and one trip around the aisles of Hudson's Bay or Canadian Tire will tell the tale- Christmas is here for another year! I intend to shout it from the rooftops in my new Island Home. Last year since we just moved in to our new home the first of December, the Holidays were a bit of a rush. We had overnight guests and visitors and it was difficult to find time to decorate the trees that stood for a week- set up but not decorated. This year I have the luxury of more time- and believe me like back home in Ontario, I start early because I enjoy taking my time.

Even though we are living in the "Duncan Riviera"- as a friend calls it, we still have a few weeks to go after Christmas to endure what Islanders call "winter" before we see Snowdrops in late January and cherry blossoms soon after.
Sorry about that Ontarians. I really am.
I used to stockpile all that holiday cheer from November and December and live on it as the months of January and February- sometimes March, dragged on and on and on.

Not quite the same here in British Columbia to be sure, however Islanders still like to think November and December as unbearably cold and wintry. Judging by last winter's weather, I have to say they are a bunch of wintry wimps and wouldn't last a day or two in the grips of a real hearty Ontario winter.

Anyhoo, November aside, I am setting my sites on Christmas and Swisssh and Starlite will both begin programming holiday music this coming weekend.
Fah Lah Lah.

I am also happier than a fan in a windstorm that I live here in this mild, Mediterranean climate.

Let be be the first to say-
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

ROBBLOG #749- 10 Lanes. No Waiting. Open 24 hrs!

"Sometimes I feel so alone what with family and friends leaving this earthly plane".

I wrote this one night a few evenings ago before I turned out my light. I don't know why I thought that particular thought. I just did. I wasn't reading anything remotely close to the idea of people passing.

I guess it's true enough though.
When you're younger the first family members who leave are the Grandparents.
The oldest members of the family. It makes sense.
Two Grandparents left in their 70's.
One in her 90's and another in between.

Then, an Uncle. An Aunt. Then another and another.
A four-legged family member.
Another Aunt and Uncle.
Then a couple of friends I went to school with in the 60's.
A fellow work colleague or two.

Closer to home a Father.
More Family Pets including a precious yellow lab who still makes the tears flow five years later.
Then Mum...

In laws.
More friends.
Then, more recently, a cousin and lastly a precious little girl- a mini-schnauzer. ~sniff~

That's just a rough overview but you can see from that list that the final pins are being put in place and in the next 30 years- if I'm that lucky, a huge black bowling ball- with my name on it, will mow down one of those final pins- in my lane of life, me being one of them.

I have often thought about that bowling alley analogy these past few years. When I tell someone they smile, giggle and say they've never quite thought about one's end of days that way.
Just one big lane over at the local Bowling Alley.
10 pins- 5 if your a five pin bowler.
Numerous balls and bam!
One can always hope that the Grim Reaper and his crowd are less than professional bowlers and one's "game" could be extended indefinitely.

Overall though, it means there's not that many games left to play. There's been a whack of pins mowed down before me. I'm not even going to start to count them. It would just be too depressing, although sometimes I find myself thinking-
Just 30 more times to decorate the tree, sing Joy to the World and celebrate Christmas Day.
A couple of dozen chances to go out to dinner on a birthday.
Two, maybe three decades of summer days.
Twenty trips to London or Paris.
Well, I could go on but you see what I mean.

One could start to feel quite alone in this big old world but as a famous "Scarlet" said one day into the wind-

 "I'll think about that tomorrow- Fiddly-Dee-Dee!"