Monday Morning Musings

Posted on October 22, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

Weed… Man

 

If clichés make you cringe or if one more marijuana story will make your eyes glaze over, you might want to skip the first section of my Monday Musings.

And remember. No potshots.

“This Bud’s for you.”

For years (it still might be), this was the tag line for Budweiser beer. Move over you suds swillers, here come the potheads to steal your thunder and maybe your tagline. I promise you this will be the last time I mention the legalization of cannabis. I don’t want your heads to explode. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of math calculations. Here’s one to ponder. On day one, October 17th total sales of cannabis and related products in the province of Nova Scotia were $660,000. If each consumer spent $50 that means 13,200 people probably lit up that day.

Some of that money was spent here in Antigonish according to sources who parked outside the NSLC to witness history in the making. Seeing that the Antigonish store is traditionally one of the highest per capita revenue stores in the province (possibly the universe!)for alcoholic beverages, this should come as no surprise.

My sources tell me that every walk of life was seen lining up, with some of the older crowd humming a few bars of Brewer and Shipley’s “One Toke Over The Line”. Is it possible that The Doobie Brothers will be making a comeback? The younger crowd were likely Green Day fans.

Weed Man, the lawn care company might require a rebranding exercise.

One wonders if the Federal Government thought this strategy through carefully. They may discover that there are a myriad of unintended consequences. For example, what about the already depleted ozone layer? If it’s ok to smoke out in the open rather than in your hermetically sealed bunker in your apartment, won’t this just add to our environmental woes? And have you seen the packaging? I haven’t but I saw a video on Facebook. A gram of marijuana comes in a box that would make Birks Jewelers envious and inside the box there is a plastic container that could substitute for a Tylenol bottle. Do the multiplier on this and you have an enormous amount of new recyclables.

The good news is that legalization will spawn a new generation of stoner songs. No longer will we have to lean on those old standbys like “Coming into Los Angeles” and “You don’t Know How It feels” to get our fix. Even Darius Rucker’s Wagon Wheel might need an upgrade. “Walkin to the south, out of Roanoke; caught a trucker out of Philly, had a nice long toke.”

I was chatting with a 90 something woman the other day. I asked her what she thought about the legalization issue. “For God’s sake, what’s all the fuss about? It should have been legalized a long time ago.” I’ll give her the last word.

Amen.

Two more things to ponder the next time you take your spare change to the Credit Union to put in the change counting machine. You’ll have to save a lot of money to match these numbers:

LeBron James, the star NBA basketball phenom, has a contract that pays him $163,000,000 over four years or $40,750,000 a year. With an 82 game schedule he earns $496,951.22 every time he suits up for the L.A.Lakers.  A regulation NBA game is 48 minutes so Mr.James earns$10,353.15 each and every minute that he runs up and down the court.

And if you think this is hard to get your head around, there is a lottery in the U.S where the winning prize is projected at more than $900,000,000 and might even hit one billion dollars. Seriously, what would Joe Schmo do if he won a billion dollars?

The world has indeed gone mad except here in Canada where cooler heads (potheads) prevail.

Have a great week.

 

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Give Them Credit

Posted on October 18, 2018 under Storytelling with 3 comments

 

(Note: This story was previously published in April 2014. In honour of International Credit Union Day today, it is being republished)

 

By and large, women are running the economy.   By and large, men are ruining the economy.  The good news in Canada is that many of our governments and businesses are led by women.  They are trying desperately to mop up some big messes.  A new broom sweeps clean.

I made a trip to my local credit union the other day.  My mission was quite simple; to empty the contents of our safety deposit box and shut it down permanently.  We hadn’t used it in eons and thought that it was time to pass in our keys.   It had been so long since we visited it, in fact, that we weren’t quite sure what was in it any more.  “Did you find anything valuable?” queried my wife.  “Lint” was my reply.

I must admit my bias towards credit unions, as my father was the long-time manager of our local institution.  Even though it usually isn’t necessary to visit the teller most of the time, with ATM’s and on-line banking at our fingertips, I still find myself being drawn to the wicket and will even patiently stand in line on ”cheque day”.   This is when senior citizens receive their Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security cheques.   I now have a legitimate right to be in this lineup.

In a world that is becoming increasingly cold and impersonal when it comes to business, credit unions have somehow managed to retain the personal touch.  This, of course, is born out of the roots of the cooperative movement which, sadly, has seen better days.  Our local co-op grocery store fell victim to the times not too long ago.

On a busy day you pick up a lot of news while standing in the lineup at the credit union.  When it is quiet, you can engage the teller, who feels almost like next of kin.  Once the topic of the weather has been covered, the conversation usually moves to family and community.  And even though the credit union has grown and competes with all of the major banks, there is still a feel to the place that makes it different.

All businesses should have an information desk.  As a male consumer and a non-shopper, there is nothing more disconcerting than entering a store and being unable to find someone to give you directions.  It’s almost like I have a sign on my back which says “please ignore”.  The women who staff the information desk at the credit union are like air traffic controllers, carefully guiding young and old (increasingly the latter) to their final destination.  And when you need a few minutes to rest, they have a comfortable chair and the morning newspaper.

I still collect loonies and toonies in a small steel container.  Every few months I roll the coins and carry them down to the credit union.  It gives me an excuse to chat with the women who run the place.  Let me make it perfectly clear that women are the backbone of all financial institutions, not just the credit union.  Let’s give them credit where credit is due.

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on October 15, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

In 2 days, it all goes up in smoke

 

Something is terribly wrong.

Does the world seem off kilter to you?  There are natural disasters and extreme weather events with every turn of the page. Democracy seems to be in peril. Capitalism is facing challenges.  Social media seems to bombard us with bad news stories with a ratio of 100 to 1 good stories. Like Anne Murray once crooned, “Sure could use a little good news today.”

Today’s musings are about capitalism and poverty. They seem like an odd couple. That’s because they are.  I am not anti capitalism. But I am very much anti-poverty.

I am helping to organize a discussion on poverty tomorrow evening, October 16th. from 6:00-8:30 p.m. at People’s Place Library. You are welcome to come and add your voice to the discussion. You might be surprised at the high levels of poverty in a community that appears to have everything.

A news story, actually a sports story, caught my eye the other day that made me think of that old April Wine song, “The Whole World’s Going Crazy.” I’m not going to get into a debate about salaries for professional athletes. Sports are entertainment and entertainment is big business. Historically, athletes got a raw deal from team owners but today any decent pro athlete who can walk and chew gum commands a seven figure income.

A current NBA (National Basketball Association) player is in a snit. I won’t mention his name so that he doesn’t receive hundreds of tweets from Nova Scotia. He is annoyed that his team’s ownership only offered him a 4 year, $110,000,000 contract extension. Yes. One hundred and ten million dollars.

Let’s break this down. On a yearly basis (had he accepted this deal), he would earn $27,500,000. A regular NBA schedule has 82 games so every time he dons a jersey; he is guaranteed to make $335,365. A regulation NBA basketball game is 48 minutes long. Very few players play the entire game but let’s be generous and say that this particular athlete is a super hero and plays every minute of every game. This means that he earns $6,986 each minute. On a per second basis this comes to $116. In the time it takes him to tie one of his sneakers (roughly 7 seconds) he earns more than a single person on income assistance in the province of Nova Scotia for a month.

I am not going to suggest that a professional athlete is not worth this kind of money, such is the nature of capitalism. This is an over exaggerated demonstration of the disparity between the rich and the poor but most would agree that globally, the chasm between the poor and the well to do is ever widening. I think we will continue to see the consequences of this inequity.

The meeting tomorrow evening will NOT be examining NBA contracts. Poverty is an extremely complex topic and we’re not likely to solve it in 2.5 hours. But we can pool our collective wisdom and see if we can tackle some of the root causes.

Ok. Here’s the big reveal. My fourth book is within a few months of publication and I have a title: “Chaos and Wonder: Six Months in India.” All of the pieces are coming together including the cover which is being designed by Jean Pearcey (https://www.jeaniousdesign.ca/). I will be donating all of the proceeds from the book to my friends in India, The Daughters of Mary. Many of you know that I spent four months volunteering with the Sisters. They are remarkable women doing incredible things with limited resources to help the plight of the poor.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. Gillis MacKinnon (R.I.P.) used to let us in the Parish Centre after hours to shoot hoops. I’m thinking that I just might give the NBA another shot!

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