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Archive for the ‘Social & political commentary’ 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?  

Morals 2.0

While preparing for a new Toastmasters speech assignment about telling a story with a valuable lesson, or moral, I listed a number of candidates among currently well-known axioms.  I’ve finally narrowed this down to one around which to build my own fable.

However, when one considers the way many clichés are constructed, they leave room for alteration, or new perspectives considering our increasingly diversified society.

To wit…

  • When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – why restrict this to lemons, or assume receiving lemons is pejorative?
  • You can’t teach an old dog new tricks – doesn’t this ignore the potential of other pet species?
  • You should look before you leap – shouldn’t there be a warm-up period first?
  • Know which side your bread is buttered on – what about new spreads available as alternatives to butter?
  • Every cloud has a silver lining – is there some way to harvest this precious metal?
  • The handwriting is on the wall – is it signed and dated, suitable for framing?
  • Actions speak louder than words – but what about words that come in parentheses?
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – shouldn’t a metric version of this be around by now?
  • It’s what’s in-side that counts – would modern scanning techniques necessarily agree with this?
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same – is the reverse also true?
  • Opportunity doesn’t knock twice – doesn’t this discount the impact of social media?
  • A rising tide lifts all boats – so, what are we supposed to do at low tide?
  • Too many chefs spoil the broth – given the ingredients of many broths, shouldn’t some of the chefs be focused on healthier options?
  • Walk softly, and carry a big stick – so, what size stick should one carry if walking quickly or with purpose?
  • You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube – how sanitary could this ever be?

A fabulous ‘no prize’ can be had for guessing which cliché I chose.   

A Glossary of Modern Urban Potholes

A combination of highly unfavourable freeze/thaw conditions and less focus on roadway maintenance has resulted in the worst springtime driving conditions in Canada’s capital city in recent memory (i.e. 35 plus years).

It should be noted that this has not only been impacting vehicles with four, or more, tires.  For those of us who like to bicycle, moped, or in some cases even just walk, the circumstances range from unpleasant to daunting in too many places.

The variety of cuts and holes in paved areas has become so voluminous that a category of names is being established for them.  Here are ‘popular’ ones in our region:

  • Aqua crater, a hole with depth up to 10 cm which frequently fills with water and so can provide a hidden dip in proceeding
  • Old rail, as in an imbedded metal sensor showing through crumbling surfaces at intersections
  • Road tube remnant, namely indentation formed by tube counter smashed from volume impacts
  • Cut groove web, as in where pavement at vehicle intersection stops is worn down
  • Reptile cut, with a spine look, which incorporates a hodgepodge of revealed sensors or tubes
  • Cave in, where a soft surface hides vulnerable, undercut asphalt
  • Line of insanity, which is displayed as several metres or more of continuous breakage
  • Danger dodge, which means little reaction time to unexpected locations encountered with little warning
  • Gauntlet, as in having to navigate through a range of cracks both to the left and to the right
  • Trap, as in little reaction time to craters where there is only low to zero margin of error in avoiding
  • Manhole, occurring around manholes, as cracks around them starting to create a widening circle of crumble
  • Depression, as with reaching an appreciable, unavoidable drop
  • Patch-on-patch, as evidenced frequently subsequent to road maintenance patching efforts which become a quilt of unevenness
  • Rivulet crack, as a long, thin stream acting as discomforting accompaniment
  • Bumping up, referring to fill-ins which rise above the roadway, creating turbulence felt physically

It may be that one has to crack a few eggs to make an omelette, but pavement cracks are harder to swallow.


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…)

Where Can I Get a GPS Tattoo?

We have become party to a panoply of leisure travel destinations, embellished by baby boomers entering the retirement lifestyle mode in ever-greater numbers.  With this comes the need to satisfy an ever-widening array of interests or concerns, while communicating with a range of cultures.

There is an abundance of information in both printed and on-line forms, not to mention anecdotal tips one may encounter.  Books in full size to pocket size offer flexibility and quick access for travelers on the move, who do not want to be dependent on connecting devices.  (Of course, many younger trip takers prefer the latter.) (more…)

Reserved Seating Not Needed Here

Our most recent taking in a movie, at our local cinema house, exposed a new wrinkle in the ticket buying experience.  Notwithstanding that my spouse and I were attending a less than half-filled show in the afternoon, we had to select our seats in advance, like choosing concert or airline tickets on a laptop screen.

Apparently, this has become de rigueur at least at some local screens in the last month or so.  One would have thought some warning or notification, if only for public relations sake, would have been justified. (more…)

Facing New Developments

Many of us have memories about tracts of land encountered over the years.  They looked natural, bucolic, perhaps even dreamy – largely because they were undeveloped.

Numerous city boundaries are examples of once-upon-a-time urban/rural landscape divides, where, subsequently, developments have caused diffusion of transition points; the ripple impact keeps expanding, so as to permanently blur any clear sense of dividing lines. (more…)

TOP 10 Election Aftermath Realities

Among the truisms of government elections, and candidates’ behaviours, are that many of them are predicated on massage or sublimation.

Such as in the afterglow of Ontario’s provincial election June 7th(more…)

The Price of Being Outspoken

Many are those whose careers have been negatively impacted by being considered too outspoken. Especially when such speech rattles the cages of those in power, there may be consequences disproportionate to a particular issue raised.

Many examples through history illustrate this conundrum.  We don’t have to look past our current age to see this conflict play out. (more…)

Whatever Happened to Esperanto?   

Some of us are old enough to remember that, before the end of the last century, there seemed to be momentum from supporters of Esperanto, promoting it as a universal language for our world.  Conceptually, this still sounds like a laudable goal.

Deservedly or not, nowadays one seldom (if ever) hears stories about it having impact. (more…)