Entitlements, Responsibilities & Wishful Thinking

A classic case of Entitlements ………….” In 1974, Frank Sinatra came out of a short retirement to tour Australia for the first time in over fifteen years. The legendary crooner was not prepared, however, for the changed political landscape Down Under. Increasing numbers of women were entering higher education professions and public life” and to refer to Australian female journalists as “hookers” was a big mistake and one  that the journalists’ Trade Union could not overlook. Unions hit the Sinatra tour with a black ban that immobilized the tour. Check out the following video………

After the tour Sinatra commented ” I made one mistake in Australia. I got off the plane”.

Nearly half a century later another celebrity tangled with Australian officials. This time it was the number one seed in the Australian Tennis Open, the  Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic. To compete in the event the request from the Australians was simple. To enter the country he just had to show proof of vaccination against Covid 19 and abide by the public health rules in place. In reality it was a non-issue. If you want to compete you have to be vaccinated. A very simple equation. Djokovic, an outspoken anti-vaxer tried to evade the rules and as a result he was deported from Australia. The decision to deport the tennis star was generally supported by the Australian public. The country had come through two years of public health lock downs and was in no mood to overlook entitlement behavior. Because Djokovic was removed from Australia using ministerial powers under the Migration Act, he is now barred from returning to Australia for three years. However, since each visa application is reviewed on its merits, the ban can be waived in certain circumstances if he satisfies the conditions of a visa. How ever, His future participation in the Australian Tennis Open Championships is in jeopardy. As a follow up to the Australian brouhaha  Djokovic’s participation in the French open is now also in jeopardy. As vaccination rules tighten up in other jurisdictions he might end up in a very lonely place on the tennis circuit.

Across North America and the world there is a misplaced celebrity culture that fosters a sense of entitlement without a counter balancing sense of responsibility. Djokovic was one of a number of athletic celebrities trying to evade or bend the rules.  Luckily the general public tends to follow the rules and not support entitlement bad behavior. In British Columbia the public has acted very responsibly. Vaccination rates are over 90% and, by and large, public health orders are followed. In certain sectors this has not been easy. Gyms and hospitality industries have been hit hard and despite some confusion around some orders, compliance has been excellent. We acknowledge that all citizens have a right to earn a living but some people have tried to stand on that principle to allow them to flout public health orders. Certain health care workers, despite their intimate contact with vulnerable populations, have refused to vaccinate. The policy of the public health team has been to tread “softly, softly” and have tried to rely on education to nudge the unwilling in the right direction. Health orders are out there but enforcement has been mostly non confrontational. In the case of the Health care workers refusing vaccination they were given the option to comply with health orders or face unpaid leave with the possibility of eventual dismissal.  Apart from the health orders there are certain professional ethics that needed to be observed and if not followed there would be professional consequences.  Dr. Bonnie Henry was heard to comment that if “they are not prepared to vaccinate and protect their patients then, perhaps, they are in the wrong professions”. A very tactful criticism of the offender’s behavior. Those refusing to comply are small in number but very vocal. The latest group to buck the vaccination orders are the cross border truckers. Because of the essential nature of their services, they had been exempt from vaccination. That is about to end. Both the Canadian and US governments are now demanding that truckers need to be vaccinated. Just for their own safety the majority of truckers have been vaccinated, but, once again there is a vocal minority  who feel they have been hard done by. I suspect when faced with significant quarantine periods after cross border trips, the hold outs will comply. It is the old story of when paychecks are threatened then there is an incentive to buckle under and comply.

From the very beginning of the pandemic there has been a significant level of wishful thinking. The foremost question has been “when can we get back to normal?” It has driven certain politicians to ignore the science and pursue policies that contravene sensible public health policies. The most infamous was Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenny declaring the end of public health precautions and predicting that Alberta was going to have “The best summer ever”. We all know how that turned out. Following the government’s pronouncement there was a very predictable spike in Covid cases .

For most people “getting back to normal” means a return to way things were before the pandemic. That is not going to happen. The pandemic is a catastrophic world changing event and there is no going back to the way things were. Just a brief look back at catastrophic events over the past hundred years underscores that notion. World War I started in 1914 and lasted until 1918 and that was followed immediately by the “Spanish Flu” pandemic that lasted a further four years. When that was over the world was a different place. Life in the early 1920s were vastly different to life in the 1914  pre-WWI era. There was no going back and, if the truth is known, there was nothing to be gained by trying to go back. Similarly the Great Depression of 1929 was followed almost immediately by World War II. Once again life had changed so dramatically and there was no going back. Life in 1945 was vastly different to life in 1930. So here we are only two years into the current pandemic, and optimistically we are at the mid point with at least 12-24 months still to go. and when we come out of the pandemic that there are the implications of Global Warming breathing down our neck. By 2024 the world will be a very, very different place to the one we left in 2020. There are expectation that international travel and tourism will resume at pre-pandemic levels. We have forgotten how the virus was originally spread across the world. We have also forgotten how prime tourist destinations were being overrun by visitors and local populations were already calling a halt to the disruptions of the tourism industry. Despite the warnings of the CDC there are people “dying” to get back on board the “floating petrie dishes” that are cruise ships. The last time I looked,  the CDC was advising against taking cruises and 19 cruise ships are being currently monitored. Some maritime destinations have refused to allowed some cruises to land.

Over the next two years there will be many false starts and hiccups on the way back to “normal”. I suggest it is better to continue to hunker down and allow the post-pandemic world unfold in a slow and orderly way. Jason Kenney is probably right. We are going to have to live with the virus but that is going to take time and experience. As the saying goes “everything will turn out in the end and if it hasn’t then we are not at the end” (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).

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2022-01-24 Postscript: As we speak, cross border truck drivers are rebelling against the government’s mandate for all cross border truckers to be vaccinated. A truck convoy has started traveling across the country to converge on Ottawa. I suggest as a protest it is doomed to failure because……..

  • Both the US and the Canadian governments are in lock step with their demand that cross border truckers must be vaccinated.
  • Governments cannot afford to have such important supply lines at risk.
  • The protest lacks public support.
  • The truckers lack industry support.
  • The protest is a form of social blackmail.
  • Truckers cannot afford to have their rigs off the road for the duration of a protest. Each day off the job is a very significant economic drain on their resources.
  • The truckers have had over a year to comply with vaccine mandates.

So guys, give it up and suffer the minor inconvenience of a vaccine jab. Swallow your wounded macho pride and get back to work.

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Read any Good Books Lately (#21): The Balkans – The Middle of Nowhere and the Center of Everything

Australia. “The Land Down Under” and the last great discovery in “The Golden Age of Exploration”. An island continent perched  on the edge of nothing. Below Australia there is no significant land mass until Antartica. To the East there a lots of scattered Pacific islands but no major land mass until until you eventually hit South America. To the west, provided you steer ever so slightly north there is Africa but if you veer just a little bit south there is nothing until you hit the east coast of South America. Once again, to the north of Australia there are lots of island nations but no major land mass until you hit the Asian mainland. Australia is a long, long way from everywhere, including the Balkans.

The Balkans. Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia of the former Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria  Albania, Macedonia and Greece are a collection of small nations that are the buffer states between Christian Europe and the Islamic states of Asia and the Middle East. If it were only as simple as a  case of East meets West then maybe the history of the region would have been different. Within the Balkans there is a hoge-poge mixture of ethnic and religious animosities. Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Albanians, Hungarians, Romanians, Macedonians, Muslim, Orthodox Christians, protestant denominations and  Roman Catholics all intent on pursuing their own agendas.  On first glance one would be forgiven for discounting the Balkans as a region of world wide significance. And yet what happened in the Balkans in 1914 precipitated World War I and impacted the whole world. Australia is a long way from the Balkans and yet the activities there eventually resulted in Australian and New Zealand troops fighting the Turks in the Dardanelles. That campaign became a monumental military disaster and gave birth to the ANZAC mythology that has became ingrained in the culture of both of those countries. How is that possible?

The author Tim Butcher was obviously puzzled by notion of how could the assassination of two Austrian Royals in a nondescript  Balkan city in 1914 lead to a World war. After all Arch Duke Ferdinand wasn’t the first assassination in that part of the world. What was so different about the circumstances of that particular event? Tim explores the event and then  goes onto explore the ongoing pivotal role of the Balkans in the history of the twentieth century.

The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War (Kindle Edition)

“A splendid book, part memoir, part history,” about the teenager who killed Archduke Ferdinand and sparked World War I.

“Sarajevo, 1914.  On a June morning, nineteen-year-old Gavrilo Princip drew a pistol from his pocket and fired the first shot of the First World War, killing the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Princip then launched a series of events that would transform the world forever. Retracing Princip’s steps from the feudal frontier village of his birth to the city of Belgrade and ultimately Sarajevo, journalist and bestselling author Tim Butcher discovers details about the young assassin that have eluded historians for a century. Drawing on his own experiences in the Balkans covering the Bosnian War in the 1990s, Butcher also unravels the complexities and conflicts of this part of the world, showing how the events of that day in 1914 still have influence today.” –  Amazon Books……

For history buffs this is a good fast read and I highly recommend it as a companion to Balkan Ghosts – A Journey through History by Robert D. Kaplan (1993). To have some understanding of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s this is an essential read. I have read it several times and I will probably read it again.

Most books on the Balkans point back to the 1938 travel book Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by novelist Rebecca West. Although it is listed as a classic I found it heavy going.

On a tangential subject Why Angels Fall – A journey Through Orthodox Europe from Byzantium to Kosovo by Victoria Clark (2000) is also an excellent read. Back in the heyday of the Soviet empire there was a belief that the empire was evil because the communists had lost religion. It was thought that once they found religion again the world would come back into balance. That has turned out to be a pretty naive assumption. The Soviet empire has gone and Putin’s Russia is once again Orthodox and yet nothing much has changed.  Victoria Clark’s book is an exploration of the impact of the various Christian Orthodox religions on modern Eastern Europe. Unfortunately it is a book that is hard to find. My edition I picked up in a second hand book store in Sydney Australia.

(2022//01/03 – I have just discovered that Why ANGELS Fall is now available from Kindle for $9.99)

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Postcript: Growing up in Sydney,  Australia any notion of the Balkans was intimately linked with the the local football (Soccer) clubs. The growth of the sport was linked to post war immigration from Britain and Southern Europe. Local clubs conformed to ethnic origins with such teams as Yugal, Croatia, Pan-Hellenic, Macedonian and Italian based clubs. Fans were divided along ethnic lines and often reflected old loyalties and divisions in the home countries. This often led to tensions off the field. If I remember correctly this lead to the renaming of some clubs to diffuse ethnic tensions. Also, if I remember correctly, in the 1960s it was not uncommon to read in the newspaper of bricks thrown through the window of the Yugoslav embassy in Sydney. At that time ethnic tensions in Australia were high off and on the soccer field.

Migrants continued to boost interest in the sport in the 1970s and 1980s, especially from the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia.

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The Tree

About ten days ago I was standing by the kitchen window drinking my morning tea and it just caught my eye. The unmistakable tint of dead needles in one of the huge trees just downhill from the house. It was a surprise because earlier in the summer the trees by the house were healthy. This one must have died very quickly and very silently over the summer. The was no lightning strike no catastrophic event. It just died of old age I guess.  I walked down and checked it out and it was dead. A tree dying in the forest is not a remarkable event, however this was a huge tree and if it should come down it could take out our power, telephone, the sun deck and a significant portion of the house. There was no need to panic. A dead tree could stand for a couple of years before mother nature and gravity brings it down but eventually it would come down.

I contacted a local tree service run by Don Johnson. He came in, confirmed my fears and arranged to come back with a crew in few days and take it down. As mother nature would have it,  a tremendous storm blew through the province and Don was delayed as he dealt with clients with more urgent needs. A few days later he showed up with a crew, three trucks , Cherry picker, flat bed trailer, a huge chain saw, tools and a chipper. They formulated a plan: Stage 1 – Decide where to fall the tree and clean out the landing area; Stage 2 – Bring the tree down; Stage 3 – Remove the branches; Stage 4 – Cut up the log and remove; Stage 5 – Clean up

Here is  photographic record of what ended up as a  2-3 hour job………..

Preparing the landing site

Bark removal & the first cuts :

   

Working it with Wedges

     

And down she comes, on target  right between the trees…….

On the ground and the clean up

Counting the rings

Portrait of a Logger – Don Johnson

The Job’s done – The final paragraph: The tree  came in at around 80-90 feet and was probably around 200 years old. That means it germinated around the time Queen Victoria was born (1819) and was a mature tree by the year of Canadian Confederation. A tree of that maturity and magnitude deserves to have a name and Ol’ Vic would seem appropriate.

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Read any Good Books lately? (#20) – The Day of the Triffids

There is nothing like a pandemic to whet ones appetite for a good post-apocalyptic novel. These days it seems that there is whole genre of science fiction that ruminates on what-if-end of world scenarios. There are plenty to pick from but a good place to start is to go back to the classics and that would include  THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS by John Wyndham. Written in 1951 it is probably his best known work and is a classic of the genre. His other famous novels  include the Midwich Cuckoos (1957) otherwise known as The Village of the Dammed. Readers today may find the writing style a little to old fashion but for me they are still page turners.

The Amazon synopsis of  The Day of the Triffids goes something like this……….

“Bill Masen wakes up one morning in his hospital bed. His eyes are completely bandaged after an eye operation so he is unable to see. He immediately notices how still and quiet everything is. Having taken off his bandages, he discovers that both inside the hospital and out, the majority of the population (who watched a display of startlingly bright comets in the night sky the previous evening) have all gone blind, and realizes that there is a terrifying new enemy for humankind to contend with. This is his thrilling, chilling and enthralling story…. When Bill Masen leaves hospital and goes into the center of London, he finds that looting is rife as people are grabbing anything from the shelves of shops that they think they might find useful – mainly food.

While surveying the scene he comes across an attractive young woman who also wasn’t blinded, Josella. Together they return in her car to her parents’ home, only to discover everyone at the house has been murdered by the Triffids. The Triffids are walking plants which carry a vicious and lethal sting. Bill used to have one in his back garden, but far from being completely harmless they have now developed and are threatening to take over the world. They are also strongly linked to the mysterious comet shower.

Bill has an advantage over other survivors in that his job had involved him researching the Triffids. In fact, it was a Triffid sting that was one of the reasons he had been in hospital on the night of the comets, and this incident saved him from blindness. Together, Josella and Bill, whose bond to each other is growing, join a group of people, many of whom are blind but some of whom can see, with plans to head into the country…and their true struggle begins.” and so on. The Triffids appear to be the result of some genetic tampering and the accidental mass dispersal of the seeds into the atmosphere. Prior to the the “night of the comets” the Triffids were controlled and harvested in various commercial enterprises. After “the night of the comets” it became obvious that the only advantage that man had over the Triffids was the  ability to see.The novel explores human survival after the mass blinding of the human race.

It is a believable premise and for me resonates with our current pandemic predicament. The elements of denial and the hankering to get things back to normal are similar. There is a failure to fully realize that the notion of normal has drastically changed. In both instances there is a watershed moment of “before and after” and nothing can ever be exactly the same again.  In the novel the change is way more dramatic and permanent than in our coming post-pandemic world. Some things we hold near and dear will return but in some ways it is like the world in 1919. Things had changed too much to ever really go back to the way things were. The world in 1919 was a vastly different place to that of 1914. Similarly the world of 2023 will be vastly different to the world of 2019. Millions of deaths on a global scale will do that sort of thing.

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Postscript: “Day of the Triffids” was turned into and unsuccessful B grade movie that is best forgotten. There was a sequel novel set 25 years after John Wyndham’s original novel. It is called The Night of the Triffids and was  written by Simon Clark in 2001. It is a reasonable attempt at a sequel but is not as believable as the original.

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Karma’s a bitch!!

ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES

WHAT GOES ROUND COMES ROUND

Otherwise known as KARMA – The spiritual principle of cause and effect wherein intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect): Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and happier rebirths, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and bad rebirths. This concept has also been adopted in Western popular culture, in which the events which happen after a person’s actions may be considered natural consequences…… wikipedia

Mak Parhar was an outspoken COVID denier and conspiracy theorist from Vancouver, British Columbia. He passed away on Thursday, November 4, 2021. He had shown COVID-19 symptoms for the past couple of days prior to his death, but it is not clear whether he had tested positive for the virus.

He first came to public attention when he was operating a yoga studio in North Delta in contravention of Public Health orders. It was shut down after he claimed that the COVID-19 virus  could not survive heat. Considering his public denial of the existence of the Covid virus it was an odd position for him to take.  In July 2021 he  was accused of repeatedly breaking COVID-19 quarantine rules and appeared in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. He was charged with three counts of breaking the Quarantine Act. At the time of his death his trial was still ongoing. Parhar allegedly refused to self-isolate after returning from a Flat Earth conference in the United States in November 2020. At the time, he spent four days in jail. In March 2020 after he encouraged people to attend the studio and falsely claimed the heat would kill the coronavirus the City of Delta revoked his business license. That did not deter Mr Parhar from continuing to deny the existence of the Covid virus.

Last month while in his car, Parhar posted a video describing that he was suffering from a number of symptoms. They included a “rheumy sore throat” and hot and cold feelings. In the midst of that diatribe, he was also coughing and spitting phlegm out his driver’s side window. But Parhar adamantly denied that he had “COVID”. That’s because according to him, “COVID doesn’t exist”. In a subsequent video, Parhar revealed that he took Invermectim, a quack remedy for Covid,  which is used to treat parasite infections. Once again, considering his Covid denial, it was an odd position take

In his final video posted on his Facebook page, Parhar expressed hope that he could cross the border in the future to attend a convention of Flat Earth believers in the United States. One can make the most outrageous claims but, in Mak Parhar case,  there are consequences. If the cause of his death is attributed to Covid then he will join  a growing list of deniers and anti-vaxers who have also died from the virus.

On a different scale President Donald Trump’s performance in fighting the coronavirus pandemic was the worst in the industrialized world. His bad handling of the pandemic probably contributed to election defeat in 2020 (karma). Other leaders were very bad  but nobody else in rich countries matched Trump’s combination of maliciousness and addle-brained incompetence. But at least one other president did worse: Tanzania’s John Magufuli, who refused to admit COVID-19 was a problem, suppressed discussion of the pandemic, and ultimately died of the disease himself, along with many of his top political allies.  It’s a stark lesson in the deadly cost of denying the pandemic and a perfect example of bad Karma coming back to bite the perpetrator.

You can deny the reality of the covid virus and you can refuse to be vaccinated but there are consequences. Without being vaccinated it is a certainty that you will catch the virus, possibly end up in an intensive care ward and you may die. Do you really want to take that risk?

As I said Karma’s a bitch.

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Paul Reed Smith Custom SE Semi-Acoustic Guitar

Fan…….. I hate that word. It always brings to my mind screaming teeny-boppers at a pop concert. I am not a fan of anything and if I should end up so labelled then you have my permission to take me outside and shoot me. As I said I am not a fan of anything but for some things I am an aficionado. In particular I think of myself as a Jazz Guitar Aficionado. I have been listening to Jazz Guitar my entire adult life. Probably the first jazz guitar recording I came across was the 1929 recording of Knocking a Jug featuring Edie Lang with the Louis Armstrong Orchestra.

In many ways, musically and culturally, it was a landmark recording. It must have been one of the first inter-racial bands on record.  Edie Lang was white and Louis Armstrong was black. Edie Lang pretty well killed off the use of the banjo in jazz. After Edie Lang came along banjo players started switching to guitar. Edie went onto to make a whole series of classic recordings with the jazz violinist Joe Venuti. Following a routine tonsillectomy in 1933 he died at the age of 30. In 1977, Lang’s recording of  Singing the Blues with Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The other great guitarist of that era is the French gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, who along with the violinist Stephane Grapelli took American Jazz and invented a whole new style of playing, one with a particularly French flavor. It became a whole new genre of jazz called Manouche or Gypsy Jazz .

I suppose to modern ears those recordings sound quaint but it must be remembered that at the time of the recordings around 90 years ago the technology of the day was pretty primitive and musicians spent as much time fighting the technology as they spent on learning their craft. For guitarists things did not really get better until the invention of electricity, specifically  the electric guitar. Charlie Christian wasn’t the first electric guitarist but he was the one who virtually invented the electric guitar vocabulary and has pretty well influenced every electric guitar player who came after him. With the electricity came the volume that allowed guitarists to step up to the plate and join the front line of the band. They now had the ability to play complex harmony, unison lines and solos and actually be heard. That  changed the texture and style of the music.

Charlie Christian opened the flood gates and in the post war period and even up to the present day there are so many electric jazz and rock guitarists that he influenced that to just name them would fill a book. He died of tuberculosis on March 2, 1942, at the age of 25.

What does that have to do with the Paul Reed Smith Custom SE Semi-Acoustic Guitar in the photo below? Even with the invention of the solid body electric guitar jazz players seemed to favor the carved top orchestral guitar with its big body and characteristic f-holes. Rightly or wrongly in my mind the sound of Jazz Guitar became associated with the carved top orchestral guitar.

It was only much after I heard the Canadian jazz guitarists Ed Bickett  and Oliver Gannon play exquisite jazz on a Fender solid body guitars  that I realized that it was possible to get an authentic jazz sound on something hardly more than a piece of two by four with a fret board and a pickup. So maybe I didn’t have to spend a fortune  on a “jazz guitar”. Semi-hollow body guitars like the Paul Reed Smith are a compromise between the classic arch top and the Fender style solid body guitar

I first saw and heard a YouTube review of this particular  Paul Reed Smith model about 12 years ago. I will admit the instrument just looked so pretty that I couldn’t resist it. The price was modest so I purchased one. However, I never really got to grips with using it in performance. At the time I was looking for a cool jazz sound and in pursuit of that ideal I installed some high priced European flat wound strings. They were thicker than the set on the instrument and I had to file the slots in the nut to accommodate them. The result was I ruined the nut. To repair the damage I would have had to travel out of town to find an artisan to do the job. As a result the guitar has just been sitting on my wall unplayed and, despite its good looks, unloved. Earlier this year I did find a replacement nut on Amazon. I would have liked to install one of those fancy zero fret nuts but I wasn’t sure of the sizing. Any way, the Amazon nut was almost a perfect fit and it got the instrument almost back to normal. It did the job. After replacing the nut I tried to set up the guitar  and, although  I did have some success with that it was not perfect. Well, about two weeks ago I learnt that there was a guy in town, Darin Massicotte, who could do a professional set up. So last week I got him to install and set up  D’Adddario Chrome Medium Flat Wound strings on the guitar. For the princely sum of only $60 he did a fabulous job. There is still a little “pinging” on the top E string around the 10-12th fret but we are going to let the instrument settle for a few weeks then re-adjust. I am impressed with the final outcome. The strings are super smooth, absolutely unbelievably smooth,  and the sound is nice, rich  and mellow and with a little reverb and chorus it is the sound I have been seeking. It’s a pleasure to just sit down and practice dumb scales and arpeggios. So that’s what I have started working on again but it is like learning a new instrument. Compared to acoustic guitars, electric guitars are different and the music, particularly jazz, requires a different approach to master the  sound and the phrasing. So with time I have high hopes of maybe getting to eventually play some faux jazz. Maybe even have a shot at Kenny Burrell’s Midnight Blue. I may never get to play “real” jazz but I think I will have fun trying.

I am so taken with the flat wound strings that I am going to install a light set on my Irish Bouzouki. That instrument needs some fret work etc and with some help from Darin  it would be nice to get the instrument back into shape. If the Chrome strings works on the Irish Bouzouki I will probably do the same for my Cittern and get Darin to sort out the balance on the pickup. The Chrome strings are expensive and I suspect they will not last long. So for the Bouzouki and Cittern I am looking at around $30-40 to install new strings (two sets for each double course instrument). If I get 6 months out of them I will be happy.

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Post Script: Darin Massicotte – Guitar Tech

“Originally from Edmonton, now a Cranbrook native of 22 years. I moved here with my wife to be in the mountains and ride mountain bikes and ski. I have a always had an interest in guitars. I had a love for punk rock music and after a friend taught me the basics I started playing guitar. Years later I discovered my ability for repairing and setting up stringed instruments, particularly guitars. I have a mechanical background kin repairing bicycles and in precision wood work.

Due to a fairly recent injury I found myself having a difficult time being employable. With that I discovered that my hobby of instrument repair was a desirable skill in the community and people began bringing me their guitars for repair. Word of mouth is big in small communities and word travels fast and I’ve become busy with my “hobby” and have made many new friends over the time. Whether setting up a brand new guitar or re-fretting an old friend, it’s all enjoyable and I learn from each instrument.

I try to get repairs done in a timely manner, limiting the amount of time that you’re without your instrument. Appointments are the best way to do this and I usually only require a day or two with your guitar unless unusual parts are needed or extensive glueing is required.

Next time you need some work done feel free to give me a call.”

Darin Massicotte’s   workshop is called Kootenay String Works and he is located in Cranbrook, B.C.

Telephone number: 250-489-8887

Email: Kootenaystringworks@gmail.com

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Read any Good Books Lately? (#19) – The Recent Past

I like reading books with some historical basis. Historical novels work for me as does a significant number of non-fiction books. The published works of David Halberstam (April 10, 1934 – April 23, 2007) are non-fiction works well worth reading.  He  was an American writer, journalist, and historian, known for his work on the Vietnam War, politics, history, the Civil Right Movement, business, media, American culture, and later, sports journalism. He won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1964. While doing research for a new book Halberstam was killed in a car crash in 2007……. Wikipedia.

For me the following two books had instant appeal because they are about the recent past, just before my time, but close enough for me to see and feel the reverberations of what has just gone by.

THE RECKONING by David Halbertam

“New York Times Bestseller: “A historical overview of the auto industry in the United States and Japan [and] the gradual decline of U.S. manufacturing” (Library Journal).
After generations of creating high-quality automotive products, American industrialists began losing ground to the Japanese auto industry in the decades after World War II. David Halberstam, with his signature precision and absorbing narrative style, traces this power shift by delving into the boardrooms and onto the factory floors of the America’s Ford Motor Company and Japan’s Nissan. Different in every way—from their reactions to labor problems to their philosophies and leadership styles—the two companies stand as singular testaments to the challenges brought by the rise of the global economy.From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Fifties and The Coldest Winter, and filled with intriguing vignettes about Henry Ford, Lee Iacocca, and other visionary industrial leaders, The Reckoning remains a powerful and enlightening story about manufacturing in the modern age, and how America fell woefully behind”.

THE FIFTIES, by David Halberstam

“This vivid New York Times bestseller about 1950s America from a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist is “an engrossing sail across a pivotal decade” (Time).

Joe McCarthy. Marilyn Monroe. The H-bomb. Ozzie and Harriet. Elvis. Civil rights. It’s undeniable: The fifties were a defining decade for America, complete with sweeping cultural change and political upheaval. This decade is also the focus of David Halberstam’s triumphant The Fifties, which stands as an enduring classic and was an instant New York Times bestseller upon its publication. More than a survey of the decade, it is a masterfully woven examination of far-reaching change, from the unexpected popularity of Holiday Inn to the marketing savvy behind McDonald’s expansion. A meditation on the staggering influence of image and rhetoric, The Fifties is vintage Halberstam, who was hailed by the Denver Post as “a lively, graceful writer who makes you . . . understand how much of our time was born in those years.” 

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Read any Good Books lately? (#18) – The North-West Is Our Mother

The North-West Is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People, the Métis Nation  

by Jean Teillet

There is a missing chapter in the narrative of Canada’s Indigenous peoples—the story of the Métis Nation, a new Indigenous people descended from both First Nations and Europeans

Their story begins in the last decade of the eighteenth century in the Canadian North-West. Within twenty years the Métis proclaimed themselves a nation and won their first battle. Within forty years they were famous throughout North America for their military skills, their nomadic life and their buffalo hunts.

The Métis Nation didn’t just drift slowly into the Canadian consciousness in the early 1800s; it burst onto the scene fully formed. The Métis were flamboyant, defiant, loud and definitely not noble savages. They were nomads with a very different way of being in the world—always on the move, very much in the moment, passionate and fierce. They were romantics and visionaries with big dreams. They battled continuously—for recognition, for their lands and for their rights and freedoms. In 1870 and 1885, led by the iconic Louis Riel, they fought back when Canada took their lands. These acts of resistance became defining moments in Canadian history, with implications that reverberate to this day: Western alienation, Indigenous rights and the French/English divide.

After being defeated at the Battle of Batoche in 1885, the Métis lived in hiding for twenty years. But early in the twentieth century, they determined to hide no more and began a long, successful fight back into the Canadian consciousness. The Métis people are now recognized in Canada as a distinct Indigenous nation. Written by the great-grandniece of Louis Riel, this popular and engaging history of “forgotten people” tells the story up to the present era of national reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

2019 marks the 175th anniversary of Louis Riel’s birthday (October 22, 1844)