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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category


A trip to Toronto for ROXY MUSIC’s 50th anniversary concert September 7th included an undesired encounter with the new reality of virtual, rather than paper, tickets.

Just because this is an evolution doesn’t mean it’s advantageous or stress free.

Let’s consider some context by harkening to simpler, tangible, past custom.

Once upon a time (i.e. before internet commerce) it was customary to obtain seating for concerts, sporting events, etc. by physically going to a box office to obtain an actual ticket. This facility need not be the event location itself: I can still recall in 1987 going to a Towers department store in Billings Bridge shopping centre, waiting in line to purchase $25 tickets for Pink Floyd’s first date of its 1987 tour, promoting the ‘Momentary Lapse of Reason’ album launch at Lansdowne Park in July.

There are both existential and esoteric qualities to the collectability of such tickets. As well as measuring sticks for rising prices over the years, ticket stubs help propel memories of the overall experience. The visual, tactile nature of the stub is a kind of snapshot, like the cover of a favoured book or record album.

The earliest such memento I have dates back to February 1980, for a musical comedy performance by Martin Mull, at Convocation Hall in Toronto. A much more intimate experience than that generated by Pink Floyd, with a more cozy price. Next in my collection of receipts is one from a memorable show at the downtown Ottawa Congress Centre in September 1986, featuring several stars of early rock under the banner ‘Class of ‘62’, such as Del Shannon and Peter Noone (the latter of Herman’s Hermits fame).

Many will be familiar with comedy legend Bob Newhart. As an unusual illustration of price non-volatility, a decent seat for his concert at the Ottawa Civic Centre in November 1996 was had for $36.64, later at the National Arts Gallery in May 2000 for $36.

Naturally, the generating of tickets has changed due to no longer having to go to a box office. By the 1990s, print on demand at a ticket access point was common, as was greater likelihood that one would be able to retain the whole ticket. Prior to this time, it was likely at admission that a portion of the ticket would be split off. While more consistent, print quality was impacted by the increasing option of internet purchasing and tickets printed at home.

Infrequently graphics have worked their way onto the actual ticket, such as an IMAX theatre logo or performer image; usually, it’s just background colouration and design (assuming printed in colour). In any case, one has a unique stamp of the event.   

My first experience with the cellphone ticket was early this year, forced by the ‘no option to print’ system operating with the Senators. Part of the baby boomer generation, I’m faced with unavoidable discomfort with the virtual ticket world.

This occasion with Roxy Music’s approximately $150 seats involved an extra out-of-town layer of uncertainty. So, as though prompted by the Peter Principle, my concerns about having tickets visible onscreen on cue came to life. Sure enough, when the time came to enter Scotiabank Arena, the tickets would not appear. A moderately empathetic employee advised that the massive surge of ticket holders accessing the same phone app put a strain on the local internet, which led to requiring assistance from a member of the box office staff. A physical ticket would have avoided this.  

One wonders: is the clearly debatable convenience, not to mention omnipresent security issues, of modern ticket download evolution the trade-off for the limited societal benefit of less printing, as well as the loss of tangible connection to memories embedded in the old-fashioned ticket?  

Being in ‘Ahh’ Voice

An article in the April issue of Psychology Today focuses on an issue familiar with those of us in Toastmasters, but to some extent with a somewhat different, even favourable, position.

One goal in Toastmasters continuously is to reduce, ideally weed out, filler words and sounds; the point of view expressed in Psychology Today is that the person or circumstances dictate some flexibility in applying such a strategy. (more…)

Couching Coaching

A column in the current edition of the Insurance Journal brings up the issue of coaching, albeit within the parameters of insurance versus investment advising. 

The author is a long-time coach, author, and keynote speaker, outgrowth of a highly successful career as an insurance advisor and executive manager.  His view is that coaching advice for insurance agents and insurance-based financial advisors needs to differ from that offered to investment advisors.  In practice, many of the former group are exposed to coaching designed for the latter. (more…)

Writing Blogs vs. Writing Books

I’ve written quite a wide number of blogs.

I’ve also recently finished the last draft of my first book.  (I did craft a full length screenplay years ago.  Perhaps deservedly, it’s sitting in a file drawer; a worthy effort, but some re-work from exhibiting film-worthy credentials.)

While it is probably obvious that there are meaningful differences in the approach and execution of the short, to-the-point, blog versus the wide, hopefully well-structured arc, of the full-length story, these are not all necessarily obvious. (more…)

The Write Way

I have finally finished the last draft chronicling my career in the financial services industry.  I have committed to this being the final revision: sooner or later you have to pronounce it so.  (Unless it were to become a screenplay, which would mean no end to potential changes.)  In addition to the months needed to sort through my files and records, it only took me almost five years to complete this project. (more…)

Socially Correct Holiday Season Slogans

Let’s put out to pasture the term ‘political correctness’!

Not only has this expression increasingly fallen out of favour based on its accumulated baggage, built on decades of use, but the word political doesn’t stand up anymore as encompassing enough to cover the inexorable intrusion of social media and expression.

Therefore, let’s henceforth categorize any relevant references under the theoretically broader, more modern term of ‘social correctness’. (more…)

Reaction Times


Anyone able to reflect on this, based on years of personal experience or through research, knows that one of the biggest evolutions since the latter half of the twentieth century has been the speed of communications. Technology has become an indelible, intrusive catalyst of delivery; combined with more recent omnipresence of the internet and social media, has meant being part of a revolution in daily life around the world. (more…)

Making Words Come Alive

Stories have a better chance to come to life when we construct and deliver descriptions which the listener’s mind’s eye can see.

Stories may be the essence of the message being presented.  Stories might also be part of the construction, such as in support of the theme of a speech.  The latter example is part of the formula discussed in an article in the October issue of Toastmaster magazine. (more…)

The Insure Thing About Traveling

An article in the late summer edition of The Insurance & Investment Journal discusses a side of travel which tends not to be at the top of mind in planning priorities, but which, if not set-up, could have serious financial consequences.   The issue: travel insurance.

A recent survey of Canadians found that 89% felt they had at least a reasonable understanding of what they were getting in their policies.  However, it appears the greatest concern is the time it takes to process claims. (more…)

To Speak or Not to Speak

This week I heard a radio commentator refer to the time-honoured, greatest dread of people (supposedly): the fear of public speaking.  The host noted how importantly the skill of being able to deliver presentations could impact one’s professional opportunities.

He then alluded to a just released story of a teenager who has confronted his own trepidation, by sending out an entreaty to educational authorities that he be spared from having to make presentations to other students in class.  There has been reaction to this quickly in social media.  No doubt, ‘experts’ on both sides of such a debate are aplenty. (more…)