Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Toronto to Dubai to Mumbai to Capetown to Toronto December 9, 2019 to January 28, 2020

We met a low key but effective cruise salesperson onboard Azamara Pursuit in January, 2019 who wetted our whistle for another ship board adventure. That's this one, or rather two going back to back from Dubai UAE to Mumbai India to Cape Town South Africa in 35 days. We'll spend several days in Dubai and then visit Doha Qatar, Sir Bani Yas, Muscat Oman, Abu Dhabi UAE and dock in Mumbai. We'll be overnight in Mumbai and then visit Cochin India, Victoria Seychelles, Praslin Seychelles, Mombasa Kenya, Zanzibar Tanzania, Maputo Mozambique, Richards Bay South Africa, Durban South Africa, Port Elizabeth South Africa and Cape Town South Africa. In total, if all goes well we will be away from our beloved Port Credit for 50 days.
August 15, 2019 The plan has begun, not the least of this is preparing to pay for it. One third of that is done and we wait for final numbers that may come this month for the second leg from Mumbai to Cape Town. We've looked at hotels in Dubai and believe we'll use Fairmont Dubai at 50% increase to the normal but with plenty to recommend it for the three days pre-cruise from December 14 - 17, 2019. We'll need a visa for anything in India and I have a website for an online purchase. We've selected several shore excursions from Dubai to Mumbai and they are in the basket at this point because Terryl will have some quality advice provided by Tony Taylor, an Air Canada friend, whose knowledge is legendary.
August 27, 2019 I visited three websites to purchase an e-visa for our four days in India. On the first one the application was thorough in that they wanted one's parents detail as well as the traveler. I thought that was a trifle overkill but I proceeded to complete the document and submit it. There's the rub; and I needed to call them if I needed help. After the usual 25 minute wait Mike picked up my call. I thought his manner was rough but he reluctantly walked me through his company's process.  The form didn't reveal the cost so I asked what it was; he didn't know and put me on hold. Another long pause without the elevator music and he reappeared saying $360.00 for my application (he didn't even know about Terryl's) which would have followed. With that information I thanked him and hung up. I looked at the other two companies and went with iVisa.com for $235.00 for the two of us. They tell me that I'll have my visas in two weeks. Additionally the next confirmation came through and the money has been spent.
September 26, 2019 and the Visas are in hand. Azamara Cruise Line has sent the check-in link for the Dubai - Mumbai cruise and we have completed that process (which is decidedly more customer-friendly than some others we've observed on theirs as well as other companies). Terryl's suggestion that the crew hotel in Dubai could be our best bet. She may have a point; so we wait to get the hotel name from friends who have enjoyed that experience. We plan to be in Dubai at least four days before the ship embarks her customers on December 17, 2019.
October 20, 2019 and the dust has settled on our Vienna trip (see it on its own blog post) in which a good time was had by all, as they say. And now we are to concentrate on these final arrangements: flights to and from Dubai, from Capetown to Dubai, and a hotel in Dubai and Capetown.
November 11, 2019 finds me and Terryl dealing with pneumonia for the fifth day. I have it and she cooks and makes me as comfortable as possible. There is a post dealing with this unique (never occurred before) sickness for me. The final plans such as a hotel in Dubai and CapeTown, plus a flight back to Dubai to meet our plane to Toronto from Dubai have not been finalized. The only question is: will I be well enough to do the trip? I hope so, additionally, this possibility has not been mentioned in conversation with Terryl. Full Stop.
On November 26, 2019 the flights from and to Toronto with the hotel in Dubai called Movenpick Jumeirah Beach are reserved. We'll get J class seats (as of this date there are over a hundred seats available with twenty up front), and our hotel for December 10 - 13 is secured in the beach area which is within walking distance of several interesting places to visit. (There will be more on this when we are right in the middle of the action in December.)
It's December 1, 2019 and the final plans are in place. We will be staying at a small hotel in downtown Cape Town from January 21 to January 27 and then fly on Emirates from Cape Town to Dubai on January 27 and on to Toronto on January 28, 2020 with Air Canada. This wraps up the news for this post; we will be creating new posts for the specific aspects of this journey as outlined in the first paragraph. Thank you dear readers.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Pneumonia November 6, 2019 (and a view of a modernized 36 Fernbrook Crescent November 27, 2019)

This is a serious issue in which I thought worthy to post. I had been feeling a very slight tightness in the upper chest area as well as a slight shortness of breath for about two weeks. On November 1, 2019 I was registered to play golf in our BGC's 'Men's Hole In One' Tournament and Banquet. That day was particular cold at around 4 degrees Celsius with a fourty mph wind - a day that I would not normally play - but I teed off anyway because a commitment was a commitment. My foursome consisted of two thirty and two late seventy year olds. We didn't play very well, and I tightened up and just couldn't swing a club around the thirteenth hole. I 'picked up' and finished the round in the golf cart. At the end of the day I was fine; I was also fine on November 2, 3 and 4, but, on the 5th (which began without issues) around 5:00pm I was beginning to cough and feel irritable. That night I couldn't sleep due to the coughing and would decide in the morning to see a doctor in our neighbourhood whose first words were "You should have called 911." With her referral in my pocket Terryl and I drove to Trillium Hospital to begin their exploratory procedures. After blood pressure, blood samples, EKG, chest xrays and a few other examinations the young doctor diagnosed Pneumonia and prescribed 100mg Doxycycline and plenty of liquids for a week. In my medical history there has never been any issues like asthma or allergies that could have caused these symptoms. My knowledge of Pneumonia was weak and could be improved quite easily with Google close at hand: 
"Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. Bacteria, viruses and fungi cause it. The infection causes inflammation in the air sacs in your lungs, which are called alveoli. The alveoli fill with fluid or pus, making it difficult to breathe." There is plenty more on google.ca if you are as curious as I am.  With information as well as the answers to frequent questions I concluded my ill-advised decision to golf in the cold was not the culprit - but to be that uncomfortable for that period of time was not the smartest thing to do for this 78 year old.
After two days of medication I feel better, the cough is still there, and I feel well enough to write this post. Additionally, I will need to be considerably better to continue on our wonderful cruise beginning December 17, 2019 in Dubai and ending January 21, 2020 in CapeTown South Africa. My fingers are crossed.
It's November 11, 2019 and after five days of medication I am better still, I spend the days in my chair with laptop and cozy desk exploring world literary and photographic exploits of which there is no discernible end. Currently it's The Kennedy Men and podcasts on all manner of subjects that lead to extraordinary sights and sounds. I make notes, I wonder if my health will be satisfactory soon enough to make our journey a pleasure, or one that challenges the wisdom of travel that may include medical assistance in unknown countries half way around the world.
It's November 15, 2019 and after two days of a new prescription of antibiotics and two inhalers from a new local doctor the condition continues to improve. The cough continues but the choking reality is practically gone. The easy chair and desk is my place of choice instead of a horizontal position on the couch. This medicine also prescribed for seven days will take me back to see Dr. Wahba on November 20 to get more or less of the same or different medicines. I asked this physician if she thought I'd be okay to fly and cruise by December 12. She said we've got plenty of time to find out.
On November 20 Dr Wahba states that I am doing very well and takes me off the antibiotics and inhalers. She wants a chest X-ray and a follow up visit on November 26 to discuss the results and my current condition. The cruise is looking good, and the possibility of a Mozambique hospital in my future is doubtful if not completely out of mind. On November 26 Dr. Wahba examines the X-ray, shoots a pneumonia injection of Prenar 13 into my left arm and smiles stating that I am fit and ready to go on the cruise. Also, I have chosen to have her as my family doctor after thirty-three years with Dr. Langer in Brampton. I could have stayed with him very easily but his practice has been sold to another Doctor and several pieces of relevant communication to specialists have fallen through the cracks, as they say, on two separate occasions which caused my loyalty to wane. So it's done, my files will be altered to give Dr. Wahba my healthcare. Furthermore I like her and her advice has worked wonders for me. Thank you

Totally off topic but I found something in an old email regarding my residence of 31 years in Brampton from 1986 to 2017. I clicked on a link that was used to sell the home and it revealed photographs both static and moving of the renovated version of my house six months after I sold it. Incredible; please have a look:

Monday, 21 October 2019

Federal Election Canada October 21, 2019

Some think the die was cast when Judy Wilson-Raybould threw in the towel and delivered her take on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's 'rebalancing the cabinet' (but most Canadians felt otherwise). Trudeau had demoted her and she wanted us to know her side and the press and cable news clamoured for more. (It's all on tglf some eighteen posts below this one.)
It's October 21, 2019 and we go to the voting stations across Canada to elect our representatives. The current polls suggest the Red Liberals are tied with the Blue Conservatives, and the Orange NPD are ahead of the Green Green Party, with the other two barely on the board.
I voted Red in 2015 because I wanted a change; I will vote Blue in 2019 because I want a change. We have around 35,000,000 people in all of Canada and there has been a lively discussion between the parties' leaders for many months as well as when the campaign started fourty days ago. The Reds say more of the same to come, the Blues say there will be more money in your pockets, the Orange say we'll govern for all the people of Canada, and the Greens will get Climate Change on the fast track where it belongs, the Bloc Quebecois haven't a chance, nor does Max Bernier of the People's Party. In fifteen hours we'll have the answer.⇩

John Ibbitson published this today in the Globe and Mail:
""Election campaigns sometimes open our eyes to realities we’d rather not see. The current campaign, which wraps up this weekend, has revealed a Canada fractured along lines of geography and generations.
Quebeckers reject English Canada’s multicultural consensus. The West is angry and estranged from the Centre. And younger, more progressive voters resent the baby boomers’ entitlements.
A hung Parliament could deepen these divides. Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives appear able to win over more than a third of Canadians.
There has never been a time when both of the two major parties were so deeply and equally unpopular on the eve of a federal election.
Putting together a government that can obtain a majority of votes in the House on confidence measures could mean concessions to the resurgent Bloc Québécois or New Democratic Party that would leave some Canadians feeling even more estranged.
“I really believe that this election campaign, results notwithstanding, has deepened the cleavages, broadened the gap, between regions of the country,” warns Brad Wall, the former premier of Saskatchewan.
“[Liberal Leader Justin] Trudeau is playing with dynamite, and he doesn’t even know it,” says Eric Montigny, a political scientist at Laval University.
“Young people care about climate change, they care about issues of social justice and inequality,” says Sara Asalya, who established the Newcomer Students’ Association at Ryerson University. “These are issues that really impact them as young people, while older people care about affordability and incomes and tax cuts and those things.”
It’s a mess.""

If Mr. Ibbitson is right about his pessimistic view of politics and government in Canada then all will be led by a collection of representatives who will not have one voice, they may say that they can work  together - which will be very difficult if not impossible - to pass anything of meaningful substance into law. In Canada we call this a minority government where we are neither left or right on the political scale.
The election is over and on October 22, 2019 the (Red) Liberals have the most seats with the (Blue) Conservatives next, followed by the (Grey) Bloc Quebecois, the (Orange) NDP and then the (Green) Green Party with one Independent trailing by the name of Judy Wilson-Raybould mentioned at the top of this post. However, the results constitute a minority government for the Liberals and not the majority they enjoyed for the past four years under Trudeau. As is usually the case with a Minority Government they all promise to go back to work and work hard for their constituents, that is until there is a non-confidence issue and all of the non government reps vote them out, or, the government feels it has regained the confidence of the collective voters and calls another election in less than the mandated four years. Period. This seems fair. Let's see.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Vienna Austria, October 10 to 16, 2019

Terryl and I planned this get-away two weeks ago. We'll be at the Inter Continental Hotel in Vienna's Innere Stadt enjoying the scenery and cultural pursuits for the first time for me, but not for her.
Our flight had plenty of J Class seats at first but now it's down to two with two ahead of us. However, there are business class still available so we should be okay as of October 9, 2019. I'm having an egg sandwich and getting ready for my Wednesday golf game with Sandy's group at 11.00am.
October 10, 2019 The 'loads' quickly went into the tank: there are 31 cons listed with 18 ahead of us which means we'll be flying economy to Vienna (and hopefully up front on the way home October 16).
After a fabulous ride on AC's brand new 787 Dreamliner we land in Vienna and in no time at all we are in a cab and on to the Intercontinental Hotel where we expect a room four hours before our check-in. In every way and place the people of Vienna are charming and efficiently agreeable. It's a beautiful sunny day around 20 Celsius and after a two hour snooze we are on foot with a map and a few ideas for the day. Walking here is fantastic with its boulevards for pedestrians (only) complete with cafes, shopping and restaurants in and out of doors. I'm sure there are professionals operating like Freud up stairs in these magnificent concrete buildings - some with artwork reaching for the roof - that have been maintained as clean as a whistle. One of Terryl's memories is the Purstner Restaurant for - you guessed it - schnitzel, ribs, beer and wine. It was terrific, and once again our waiter was all over us with help and kindness. The balance of the day we walked and enjoyed the sites before having a nightcap at Kudor and on to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

October 12, 2019 We had mentioned George, the current concierge at the Intercontinental Hotel, spoke of his father who was the concierge in the 1970's. Well he showed up this morning and he and Terryl had a great yack about those golden old days. Apparently, 40 years ago he was out partying with the Air Canada crew and all of them had lots to drink. Carl told us this morning it was right after that night he gave up drinking. Here's Carl and one of his favourite airline people:

Right after that we went for a large walk and bought Opera tickets for Monday night at the Strauss & Mozart Konzerte; and a little later we bought Opera tickets for Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini at the world famous Wiener Staatsoper for tonight's performance at 7:30. For lunch/dinner we ate at the world famous Zum Schwarzen Kameel.
The Opera House was a blinding success: the building and the services are incomparably magnificent. However, our seats in a six seat private box were less than ideal which is what we were led to believe outside the theatre that afternoon prior to purchasing. For example, seats 1,2,3 and 4 allowed a clear site line to the stage as well as the orchestra pit. Seat 5 and 6 (our seats of course) did not. But we sucked it up and enjoyed Madama Butterfly in Vienna, Austria the home of music and a most magnificent city (voted the world's most livable city for the tenth consecutive year.)

Stairway to the grandest theatre in Vienna

This is the door leading to the private box for six

The great hall in the Weiner Staatsoper
On October 14, 2019 we woke early despite knocking off 4/5 of a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Maison Fondee 1812 Champagne, and prepared to visit the Naschmarkt, a wonderful place filled with shops and dining of almost every variety known to man.

After the market we rode the red and then the green line bus up to Grinzing Wineries in the famed Vienna Forests where the Swells summer and relax. Beethoven, a wild man with his music toiled over his compositions until they were just right, had spent loads of time doing his re-writes until perfection was reached in Grinzing. Mozart, on the other hand, sketched his off the top of his head and never re-wrote a thing. I wonder whose inspiration was a result of Grinzing wines?

After missing the third last bus we roared down the mountain to get back to The InterContinental Hotel to ready for the magnificent Mozart and Straus evening right across the street from the hotel.  (Please click the previous link for a look at the artists and theatre: spectacular is the only word.) What a treat this was: the building is a palace, 15 piece orchestra, a Soprano, a Tenor and two ballet dancers firing on all cylinders made this a memorable night on October 14, 2019.

We didn't know this couple until I said, "You look marvellous."

The Mozart & Strauss theatre on Johannnesgasse right across from the InterContinental
October 15, 2019 we loved the Cafe-Restaurant Landtmann for its comfort and simply the best organic boiled eggs and breads served with tasty jams and juices. Terryl's eggs were served with a halved Avocado and watercress, in her words, "To die for."
Now we're off to a market that really didn't excite us so we quickly walked up to the Kärntner Strasse on of the most magnificent all pedestrian boulevards we've ever experienced. After several hours gawking, complimentary cheese tasting courtesy of Cheese&More, relaxing with a beer while Terryl launches into a shopping extravaganza, we set foot, body and soul to Purstner Restaurant - once again - to dive into a rack of ribs, grilled potatoes and assorted dips while Terryl revels with a Cordon Bleu that the waiter said, "You'll love it and don't order the Gulash, Gustav Mahler never did."

The Magnificent Stephansdom Cathedral

Stephansdom Church

Pano of Stephansdom Church

Last Supper at the Purstner Restaurant October 15, 2019
So long Vienna, we enjoyed you immensely. We hope you opened the Links to the highlighted websites to get a larger view and appreciation of these wonderful establishments.

Friday, 13 September 2019

CCCottage Reunion September 14 - 21, 2019 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

I'm booked and checked-in on Air Canada's #1123 at 11:00 on September 14 arriving at 12:33 to begin (I'm guessing now) our 23rd reunion since John DeLisle convened the first one in 1995. Many a tale has been told and retold since the mid 1960's when it all started in Thurstonia Park on Sturgeon Lake where a small, less than glorious, cottage was our weekend retreat. I think there were 12 guys who formed the original group, with Arch, Bill and me signing on for life a couple of years later. (We were the old guys who were allowed to hang out when some of the younger decided their weekend-time would be better spent elsewhere.) That roster remains to this day except for Pat and Arch who passed away rather suddenly. Jack, Phil and Paul have been replaced by Rod, Eric and the odd mystery guest (one named Piggy comes to mind) whose sudden appearance illuminates our gatherings from time to time. Our yearly experience seems to stay ignited by regular emails about horse races, football pools, birthdays, trips to the hospital and other remembrances of special occasions like anniversaries and a whole lot of times that make up the constant mix of our lives well lived.
I've told our story to many friends and, to a man or woman, they marvel at what we have been able to achieve and maintain for fifty-four years. Oh yes, the title 'CCCottage Reunion' was uttered by cousin Bill who stuttered a great deal as a youngster, but now reaching for 80 years his voice's ability has improved considerably.
September 14, 2019 everyone arrived with generous man hugs for each other and we piled into cars and set off for Emma Lake which is about a two hour drive north of Saskatoon and deep into a land of many lakes and wild life. We passed Elk and Deer and a coyote or two before settling into a very nice cottage donated by a friend of Ted's at zero cost to all of us. The food and drink had been purchased on Friday; the fishing and golf equipment was stored in three SUV's. Dinner was prepared, eaten and cleared away for the poker game to follow. The rooms had been assigned and the older guys got their pick, and why not? That evening the writer was awarded the "Gary McDonald Come back Award" as its first recipient. I was moved by the generosity afforded me and expressed the hope that we all live for a long time and enjoy many more reunions in far off wondrous places.

Enjoying the last can of beer in Victoria airport 2018
Monday arrived and we golfed at Waskesiu Golf Club in a National Park, a place of awesome beauty blessed by the desire to be maintained by the citizens and their government.

In the trophy room of Waskesiu Lake Golf Club
On Tuesday we rested; some went to Prince Albert the home of John (The Deif) Deifenbacker -- a former Prime Minister of Canada in the 1960's -- and entertained the Casino dealers with a generous contribution to their cause. On their return we headed back to Waskesiu to dine at Pietro Restaurant a nicely appointed dining facility with Gary the owner and Gary the waiter attending to our comfort and enjoyment for the evening.

Gary the owner preparing his 23,500th Caesar salad
On Wednesday golfing at Emma Lake golf course was a very nice local venue where we enjoyed a two-man scramble with the lowest score of 75 shot by Mike and John. Larry and I were 85, Dan and Tom 82, Ted and Bill shot 76.
The fish fry will start at 7:00pm around an open fire pit and oven mitts will be available.

Incredible Pickerel Shore Fish Fry
Mike Bird is presented the 'Gary McDonald Come Back Award' for 2020
Larry Beriault convenor of the  Cccottage Reunion 2019
On September 20, 2019 the sun rose between three of the millions of trees surrounding Emma Lake and the cottage we shared courtesy of Ted Merriman's friend Peter Kilborn.

Ted Merriman organized the cottage and much much more
During our week of golfing, fishing and poker games made more memorable with the usual kibitzing and stories told and expectedly retold because they are the foundation that unites us under The Cccottage Boys now and for as long as we want. Let the end not be in sight for years to come.

And the week ended with a dinner and a hockey game between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League in Prince Albert.

After the reunion, on September 24, 2019 my darling Terryl wished to email The Cccottage Boys the following:
"Dear Cccottage Boys:
Thank you so much for thinking of us girls with these absolutely beautiful shawls. Ted, I think you initiated this lovely gesture. I love, love my gift. It is my prize possession and will always travel with me.
Thank you Josephines Dreams and Ted.
Love Terryl"

Monday, 9 September 2019

Bianca Andreescu US Open Ladies Champion September 7, 2019

Bianca on Television talk show tours Sept. 9/99
All of Canada glued themselves to television on this Saturday afternoon. Bianca, now being called, She The North after the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball champions, was taking on the 24 Majors Champion Serena Williams in front of a stacked crowd pulling for the American.
Bianca is a free swinging tennis athlete who appears to know no fear of losing or winning. She meditates, seeks professional advice for her mind and thoughts as well as her tennis technique. She wears a hair springy band around her right arm's elbow for no reason that we know of, yet. She is comfortable with the post-win adulation that has fallen on her as the only Canadian to have ever won one of the Major Tennis Championships (US, French, Aussie and Wimbledon) ever. Canada has had contestants in the finals but who never crossed the finish line first.
I'll predict that if she can remain injury-free she will be number one in the Tennis world for years to come.
Cathal Kelley has written these carefully crafted words that speak to Bianca's incredible 19 year ride to athletic and personal triumph:

""Years before she’d won anything important, Bianca Andreescu already understood how you’re meant to talk about such things.
She took up tennis seriously at 10 years old. She made her first headlines in youth tournaments at 14. A year later, she beat a bunch of older girls at a talent-spotting U.S. event.
“I’m only 15 and this is like the next step to winning a Grand Slam,” Ms. Andreescu said afterwards. That’s what you’re meant to say. That good enough is not good enough.
She even understood that boilerplate quotes work best with a hook. She said she was going out afterwards to The Cheesecake Factory because “I didn’t have any cake this week.”
On Sunday, Ms. Andreescu told CNN that she began writing herself mock cheques for the winner’s portion of U.S. Open prize money as a motivator. She wrote a new one each year as the amount changed. When we talk about ‘making’ a champion – as if there are assembly instructions included with children – it works the same in most instances. Ms. Andreescu got no more or better training than thousands of gifted kids looking to make it in tennis. She was prodigious, but plenty of them are. Injuries hit her early and harder than most.
So why is Ms. Andreescu Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion? What makes her different?
A lot of people have been asking her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, that question lately. Ms. Andreescu won the U.S. Open by beating Serena Williams in straight sets on Saturday. Mr. Bruneau didn’t get a cheque but he was also a winner. His career just broke the atmosphere en route to global orbit alongside his protégé.
Even though he’s there every day, Mr. Bruneau doesn’t have a good answer about what makes Ms. Andreescu more special than all the other special people. There’s a lot of talk about mental toughness, corralling a high tennis IQ and being “a street fighter.”
But Ms. Andreescu tried to explain it in terms that are deeply out of fashion. We live in the era of perfectibility and truth through data. If you collate information the right way, you will find your answer.
Ms. Andreescu’s formula is more metaphysical. She wins because she believes she will.
A year ago, she was injured. She failed to advance through the qualifiers of the U.S. Open. She didn’t even watch the final. On Saturday evening, she claimed to have not seen any of it until she watched a few highlights that morning for scouting purposes.
How did a pro tennis player remain so ignorant of what was easily the biggest story in tennis last year? Because she’s avoiding tennis.
Even so recently – fully grown and essentially the player she is now – Ms. Andreescu describes herself as petulant and miserable.
“I would get very negative thoughts going through my mind. I would smash racquets,” Ms. Andreescu said. “So I started seeing … (here she paused and decided against saying the word ‘therapist’ out loud) … I’ll say I started seeking advice from other people.”
She now practises meditation. She is to visualization what Novak Djokovic is to the war on gluten. She ritualizes positive thinking (which sounds much more exhausting than playing tennis). She talks a lot about breathing, as if that’s a pastime rather than a biological fact.
She calls all this “working your mind.”
“At this level, everyone knows how to play tennis,” Ms. Andreescu said. “The thing that separates the best from the rest is the mindset.”
All this useful advice and insight came spiced with some absolute nonsense as well.
“Like I said many times, if I can do it, if Serena [Williams] can do it, if Roger [Federer] can do it, if Steve Nash can do it, then anyone can do it,” Ms. Andreescu said.
No. They can’t. You or I could visualize greatness 25 hours a day and we are still not winning Wimbledon eight times.
But successful people think success is simply a matter of trying hard enough. Because that worked for them.
Another thing we’re talking about when we’re talking about making champions is codifying the process so completely that it is repeatable.
What if Eugenie Bouchard had been a big visualizer?
It may be cruel to compare Ms. Bouchard with Ms. Andreescu right now, but it seems apt. They received essentially the same training in the same environment. They were each prodigious teens. They peaked at around the same age.
But one of these things is not like the other. Ms. Andreescu has the head for this. For whatever reason, Ms. Bouchard doesn’t. That’s the only explanation for someone who made three slam semis in a season no longer being able to win a first-round match.
Despite her troubles, Ms. Bouchard is still banging away with the same power-of-positivity mantras that Ms. Andreescu uses. I guess it doesn’t work for everyone.
The bottom line is that you can’t make a Ms. Andreescu. She is born. Through some unrepeatable combination of genetics, upbringing, experience and outlook, we have arrived at a nearly perfect athletic competitor. Someone who isn’t affected by fear and self-doubt in the same way as the rest of us.
What you are struck by when you talk to truly great athletes is how little philosophy they apply to their art.
Former Toronto Blue Jay Vernon Wells – who was at the time perhaps the most gifted centre-fielder in baseball – used to do a drill wherein he would turn his back to the plate and run to balls hit into the outfield. At the last minute, he’d spin and catch them without fail. His only point of reference was the sound of the ball off the bat.
I asked him how he did that.
“I don’t think about it,” Mr. Wells said, as if that were an explanation.
How did Ms. Andreescu – someone who’d never been there before, had no idea how it would feel, facing the best that ever was in front of the most hostile crowd in tennis – do it?
“I just tried to breathe,” was the closest she could come to an explanation.
In any sport, you can train them up to a certain level. By the time you have gotten to the professional ranks, the vast majority of aspirants have been eliminated.
At that point, it becomes ineffable. Some people are just born winners. That offends our societal belief in the great meritocracy, but it doesn’t make it any less true. You can’t tell the winners from the losers until they’ve won. Then it’s obvious.
You can’t scout a winning mentality. At the developmental stage, they’re all winners. You can’t develop it. It just is or it isn’t.
Ms. Andreescu is a winner. Tennis Canada didn’t turn her into one. It gave her the basic tools. She did the finishing work herself. Whatever she has can’t be broken down into steps in a training manual, although God knows people will try.
This is a good thing. It’s the best possible thing. Because if sports really were a science, we would not be capable of being amazed by their magic.""

Kelley's article appeared in the Globe and Mail on September 9, 2019

Saturday, 3 August 2019

In 1990 Arthurs Jones rockets through the Topline of $28,000,000.00 producing Custom Made Projects

On Leadership: 1906 - 2001

With battered machinery producing commercial printing projects for the likes of Rust Craft Greeting Cards and Advertising Agencies who always demand more at less cost to gain its business - Arthurs Jones has emerged from the dust of the 1960's to the top of Canada's printing industry by 1990.
AJ had its birth in 1906 when Mr. Arthurs started the company; Mr. Jones joined in the 1920's and Mr. Adams and Mr. Reid McGregor purchased control in the 1950's; Mr. Duncan McGregor, right out of Ryerson University joined in the early 1960’s, and earned its presidency and ownership in 1976.
While this dollar amount of $28,000,000 annually may not seem like a significant amount, please consider that blocks of type and relevant photographs produced in any colour of ink on any manufactured paper stock, and finished in a variety of ways for every single individual project will limit an ability to create the volume possible in other production facilities. However, this characteristic of our business gave us the opportunity to create and establish superior techniques and craftspeople that, simply put, did it better than our competition. That is a saleable commodity - and one that was used and practised by every person who worked at AJ.
Hiring individuals who would learn and apply these practices followed; the addition of top quality printing and pre-press equipment from Heidelberg followed; the addition of a new modern 75,000 square foot manufacturing and office building built by Orlando in Mississauga followed in 1984; and most importantly our reputation as a trusted and quality supplier of important documents such as annual reports, advertising and various promotional materials surely followed.
The driving force behind all of this is without doubt Duncan McGregor the son of Reid McGregor who had asked me if I would like to join the sales force in 1963. My life changed instantly when I accepted the inquiry and his father accepted me.
This post is about a company of people who had optimal leadership not always found in many companies. Duncan McGregor was the leader who had the guts to speak out on issues he deemed fair, smart and dedicated to his goal.
During each day decisions were made for and against but the goal was in sight: to be the trusted, quality supplier of quality printed documents beyond repute. Year after year, example after example cemented that trust between our clients, prospects and our employees.
In 1986 Jannock Corporation liked AJ (within the communications industry) and made an offer for 50% of AJ with a Put and Call for the other 50% in 1991. Duncan liked the opportunity to join a larger corporation and, after discussion with his partners, accepted their offer. We were delighted and accepted the cash for half our shares.
During the next five years the "MacAttack" kicked in and everything about our industry changed. Designers became typesetters; printers became commodity producers whose differentials could not easily be distinguished. With these changes AJ's intrinsic value eroded somewhat and the intelligent decision was to accept the price and sell the balance of ownership to Jannock in 1991.
The next several years have no real significance to this post other than Jannock put a For Sale sign on AJ as well as their other print-related purchases and waited for a buyer while AJ produced top quality work as always. Duncan did resign and recommend that I report to Jannock. Three years would pass with business as usual until 1994 when Leland Verner made an offer to buy AJ using 10% of his money and the balance payable by Arthurs Jones.
His offer was based on his intention to take AJ public on the TSX but only after he secured the support of our key employees and the Bank of Nova Scotia for the rest of the debt. To his proposal I added a proviso that all of AJ's employees including Duncan McGregor should have the option to buy in at an agreed-to share price. Leland Verner accepted, Duncan accepted, I accepted and so did 60% of our employees who also bought shares in the private Arhurs Jones at 12.5% of the IPO price.
The IPO was an unmitigated success except that control and top-level decision-making did change hands as expected. It was now in the hands of the Chairman and new CEO Leland Verner.

Let me close by stating that the 'Hands on Control' that made this enterprise successful would never be the same without skilled executive, tradesman and qualified leaders in our industry calling the shots. The collective leadership that had built this great company would resign prior to 1998 under the circumstances that followed Mr. Verner's vision and tutelage. Duncan and I resigned when  Leland Verner would not heed our advice on several vital matters. Unfortunately for Arhurs Jones and its remaining employees and clients, we were right; AJ closed its doors forever in 2001 after 95 years of service.

Gary McDonald 2019

(1941 -)

Toronto to Dubai to Mumbai to Capetown to Toronto December 9, 2019 to January 28, 2020

We met a low key but effective cruise salesperson onboard Azamara Pursuit in January, 2019 who wetted our whistle for another ship board a...