Mike Bossy: Letter To My Younger Self

The Player’s Tribute site has some brilliant writing by famous athletes.

Today’s post is by my favourite hockey player of all-time.

Dear 14-year-old Mike,

I write to you today as a 60-year-old man, and I have some news from the future that you probably aren’t going to believe.

There are 30 teams in the NHL in the year 2017, and next season, there’s going to be one in Las Vegas.

Guys don’t smoke cigarettes and drink black coffee at intermission anymore. They drink smoothies and “stretch.”

The going rate for a 50-goal scorer is about $9 million a year.

And fighting is considered a dying art.

Music Monday – “Take me to the place where you go/Where nobody knows if it’s night or day/But please don’t put your life in the hands/Of a Rock ‘n’ Roll band/Who’ll throw it all away”

Yesterday’s “One Love for Manchester” concerts, pulled together only a couple weeks after a terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert are being compared to the 1970’s “Concert for Bangladesh“, the 1980’s “Live Aid“, the 1990’s “Tibetan Freedom Concert” and the 2000’s “Live 8” as another in a long line of notable benefit concerts – this being perhaps the biggest of the 2010’s and the first for much of Generation Z members born since ~2000.

“One Love Manchester” featured lots of performances by current and recent stars with a healthy dose of UK-based musicians including Coldplay covering an Oasis anthem

Don’t Look Back in Anger” – Coldplay with Ariana Grande (Oasis cover)

Robbie Williams asking the crowd to help him with his biggest (and very fitting for the occasion) hit…

And an Oasis song, sung by surprise guest, Liam Gallagher, that was also very appropriate to the moment…

Sunset at Echo Valley Provincial Park

Saturday Snap – Thrasher

I have no idea what move this is (ollie?) but Pace assures me that it’s cool. 😉

Friday Fun Link – Barack Obama’s Coolest Presidential Moments

Ah, simpler times


Throwback Thursday – Some Random Thoughts on the Last Day (?) of STC #skpoli

Yesterday was the last day of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company which was shuttered as part of the Sask Party’s extreme cuts in their last budget.

Founded in 1946 by Tommy Douglas’ CCF government as a way to connect and serve a widely distributed and (at the time) mostly rural province, STC hit highs for ridership in the 1980’s before entering a slow decline.

At the time of the Sask Party budget, it was widely reported that only 2 of 27 STC routes were profitable (although there is an equally strong argument that profitability should be a secondary consideration for a valuable public service, just as we don’t expect healthcare, education, libraries, highways and other public services to generate profits.)

This quote from the Minister in charge at the launch of STC reinforces that point:

[STC] will provide employment for Saskatchewan citizens and give the province an efficient bus system operated not for financial profit, but for the good of the whole people.

The company grew and expanded over the years to over 400 stops at one point and even into vacation charters (who knew?)

In 1979, STC began offering escorted vacation tours to such places as Disneyland, Vegas, Florida, Texas and the Maritimes. Those are the glory days to which Kinzel often returns when he talks so passionately about STC.

But now, STC is gone – likely more for ideological reasons as any small financial savings to the government (the government subsidized STC at a cost of between $12-18 million per year depending on whose figure you’re using.  But the main point is that it’s around $1-$1.50 per month for every citizen of the province.)  Tellingly, STC was cut completely with no financial analysis or audit of value received being conducted.

To me, this is no different than the ideological cuts to the Film Tax Credit or the more recent cuts to public libraries.

As they did with library cuts, the government is also cherry picking and framing statistics to bolster their argument – often referring to the “per ride” subsidy (which may sound high at $94/rider) but not thinking of how low the shared cost is to provide a valuable public service that helps cancer patients, the elderly, children, students, non-drivers, business people, farmers and many others.

When I broke my leg a few years ago, I’m sure there was a subsidy greater than $94 for the doctor visit, x-rays, and cast I received.  But that’s part of the deal of why we pay taxes for the common good – so every individual will benefit overall and in many ways that they don’t realise or that will save on other higher costs down the road. (Wouldn’t most non-STC users still be happy to know that farmers can get parts in a timely and inexpensive fashion?  Or that cancer patients can easily get to the city for treatment?  Or that University students can get home to visit their parents on occasion?)

Another way the government framed this as a prudent decision was focusing on the dropping ridership and the “per rider” subsidy but often neglecting to mention the freight operations of STC which were actually profitable.

One small piece of good news (and the reason I used a question mark in the title of this post) is that Interim NDP Leader, Trent Wotherspoon, held a press conference at the STC Depot on the bus company’s last day of operations and committed that a future NDP government would restore bus service to the province.

Our family weren’t regular users of STC but we were happy to know it was there when we needed it – mostly to transport us to Weyburn to my wife’s parents when our schedules would otherwise mean taking two vehicles.  Or if I had a work meeting in Saskatoon, STC was often a good option which allowed me to work and read on the bus rather than focusing on the road.  I’ve also used their freight services in both my personal and professional lives.

Here are a few shots I found in my photos of our STC experiences…

Filling out a luggage tag…

Getting ready for a ride on mommy’s lap

STC was modernizing their fleet in many ways and I’m still confused why the government decided to shut it down completely instead of streamlining and improving service.  

(Oh wait, maybe because the Sask Party thinks that shifty party buses that let guests piss on the Legislature are a better option???)


Music Monday – “He might have lots of dough but I know he ain’t right for you.” (Some Thoughts on The New Mosaic Stadium) #reginarocks #yqr

This is one of Bryan Adams’ best songs and it was only ever a “B” side (though it must’ve gotten regular rotation on the radio or video channels when it came out as I feel like I know it quite well!)

Having attended the “Regina Rocks” test event at the new Mosaic Stadium last Saturday night featuring Our Lady Peace, Johnny Reid and headlined by Bryan Adams, I thought this was an appropriate video to post today.

I did a review of the stadium after attending the first test event which was a college football game last fall.  Since I ended up buying some deeply discounted tickets for Regina Rocks which puts me in the relatively narrow Venn diagram of people who’ve attended both major test events at the new Stadium so far, I thought I’d share a few of my random thoughts on our second visit to the stadium (which I’m surprised about as anyone as I was, at best, ambivalent about the new stadium and now I’m a regular!) 😉

  • Once again, Shea and I decided to ignore the advice/suggestion/commandments of the event organizers and drove instead of taking a shuttle.  And after getting a message from a friend who’d taken the shuttle from Victoria Square Mall and ended up missing the first twenty minutes of the opening act, I was glad we did.
  • The first event had 16,500 attend but no upper deck seats were open. This one had seats in the upper deck available plus floor seating on the field (well, whatever they use to cover the field) so it was quite a bit higher – 21,000.
  • With that said, the event was supposedly not a sell-out to what organizers were hoping and there were rumours of many free tickets being given out to put butts in seats.  (Shea and I hadn’t planned to go initially but a co-worker told me about a deep discount which got us $5 tickets that, with the usual TicketBastard charges and stadium fees, ended up costing us about $17/each.  I’ve paid more than that to see a no-name band at a 100-person capacity local bar.)
  • $5/ticket sounds like an amazing deal until you realise you’ll just use it as justification for spending more on insanely overpriced concession food.  For supper, we had two $8 draft beers and two sandwiches (one chicken, one pulled pork) plus some “meat on a stick” thing for about $50.  Later, before Bryan Adams came on, we went back down to the main concourse (we had tickets way up in the nosebleeds – Section 532) and managed to be one of the last people to get Coney Island Poutine before they ran out of potatoes and that was another $40 for two $8 beers and two regular poutines for $11/each.
  • Funny “nosebleeds” story – most people probably know that this refers to seats that are supposedly up high enough to cause nosebleeds due to the thin air.  But one co-worker didn’t realise this and said “Oh, I thought that always meant that was the section where the most fights were!” 😉
  • I asked the guy beside me what he paid for his seats (“Why?  Did you get yours for free?”) and he said he paid $70.  I wasn’t sure if that was for one or two tickets though.
  • We tried walking around the entire concourse like we had for the Rams game last fall but the area behind the stage was fenced off.  I understand this was probably something to do with not wanting people to have access or even a view of the backstage area.  But I talked to more than one person who was disappointed they didn’t get a chance to experience walking around the whole concourse like we could at the Rams game.
  • We found the west side very windy and cool during the Rams game even though it was a hot, sunny day.  This time, we ended up with tickets on the west side and found it windy and warm on a hot, sunny day.  Slightly better than being cold but man, two for two on that place being really bad for wind.
  • I had noted the apparent steepness of the seats in the main bowl during the Rams game.  They felt even steeper way up in the upper decks and my advice if you have any fear of heights, you might want to avoid buying tickets in a higher level section.
  • We took both elevators and walkways to get up and down from our 500-level seats and both worked really well – we only had one overly crowded elevator the whole time (they had attendants which probably won’t be the case once the stadium is running smoothly.)  When it was full to the brim, someone asked if we should keep squeezing in and she said “These elevators are supposed to say when they’re at full capacity” and someone quipped “Well, I hope they’re not just trying to test the elevator’s safety features!”
  • The walkways seemed really long, like giant switchbacks in the mountains or something.
  • The main concourse was *extremely crowded* with long lines at food vendors, for washrooms and people struggling to walk through the crowds in both directions.  I expect this will be much better once the whole stadium is operational – for example, up in the 500’s, there was only a Western Pizza outlet open but lots of shuttered concession windows that would’ve helped to alleviate the congestion on the main concourse.  And the washrooms weren’t crowded on the higher level either.  I didn’t realise it until it was too late but even the poutine was cheaper up high! 😉
  • Kudos to stadium folks who have made sure to include unique local restaurants – Western Pizza, Beer Bros, Coney Island Poutine, etc. in the offerings. I didn’t find any local craft beers (yet) but that’s supposedly coming too.  If I’m going to pay outrageous prices for beer, I’d prefer something that tastes a bit better than Moose Piss (er, Coors Light).
  • Speaking of beer, we found the cups they used to be pretty flimsy.  One tipped over on the counter while we were grabbing our food and drinks because I expected the sides of the cups to be more like Dixie cup plastic, not “that stuff you peel off a new smartphone” plastic.  We slipped about a quarter of a beer (cash conversion – about two buck’s worth of beer!)
  • Not sure it’s resolved but local charities and non-profits used to work some concession stands to raise funds at Taylor Field and it was unclear whether this would continue at Mosaic Stadium. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him but at one concession, I saw a guy I know who has a government day job working behind the counter so I assume he was there with one of his kids’ sports teams or something.
  • It was really cool to hear Raine Maida from Our Lady Peace insert the Tragically Hip’s “Grace Too” into one of their songs and it made me sad to think about how I’d never see the Hip in this particular stadium.
  • The stage had three big screens but it’s too bad they didn’t turn on the SaskTel Max jumbotron as well.
  • I thought the sound was pretty good for both OLP and Johnny Reid but it felt really inconsistent for Bryan Adams for some reason – very bass heavy and then coming in and out of focus (er, that’s not really a musical term.)
  • I admit that I was in the camp that thought Bryan Adams was the wrong choice for this concert (and the lack of ticket sales may back that up.) But that’s no slight on Mr. Adams who was one of the first singers I ever got seriously into. “Reckless” is still a monumental album for me and when I was looking through my CD collection before the show to reacquaint myself with him, I realised I have four of his albums.
  • Speaking of, I remember listening to “Heaven” as a youngster in around grade six or seven and thinking how amazing it would be to actually have a girlfriend to share that song with.  Then, on Saturday night, I was sitting beside my wife of 14 years and partner of 20 years and realised that moment had come true.  Except when I looked over to see if the moment meant as much to her, she was scrolling through Facebook on her phone! Oh well… 😉
  • My wife and I did have a very involved conversation about the switch from lighters to smartphones at concerts, when it happened, how it happened and some of the deeper meanings of this change which is why I love her! 🙂

Overall, it felt like there were a lot glitches but it’s hard to tell how many are things that are a result of it only being the second event without the stadium in full operation (crowded main concourse, running out of food) and how many are things that might not be resolvable (noticeable wind tunnel effect both times I attended, insistence on people taking transit that makes them late for the event instead of having adequate parking options available on-site or nearby.)

Anyhow, when’s the next big event? I’ll be there! 😉

Andrew Scheer Wins Federal Conservative Leadership? #CalledIt #cpcldr

My MP, Andrew Scheer,. surprised quite a few people by winning the leadership of the Conservative Party yesterday.

Not me though.

Way back in October 2015 on the night of the last federal election during the Liberal landslide, I called it:

I doubled down in January 2017 when I reiterated that I thought Scheer would be the winner.

Since I’m obviously a genius political prognosticator, I’ll make another bold prediction – not only will Ryan Meili win the leadership of the Sask NDP, he will lead the party to an upset victory in 2020 (er, or is that 2021?  I can’t find it now but I saw speculation that the Sask Party might override their own fixed election date legislation to postpone the next election by a year so they have more time to “fix” the economy.  Given how successful they’ve been so far, I doubt an extra year will help!)

Saturday Snap – Sasha in the Valley