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Archive for October, 2009

Prologue: This blog entry was first written in 2009 as I celebrated my birthday with those in attendance at the HAPPEN meeting being held that day in the Bank of Montreal Room at Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre. Since then, I have revised and updated the material several times since then (I tend to make this an annual habit when it comes around – so yes I did this again in 2016), especially as I learn more about my birthday and the many historical events that took place. I have also received many positive comments about this article, including one a couple of years ago from a friend who decided to do the same thing with her birthday. I apologize that some may feel this is a very long entry. In spite of that I hope you enjoy what you are about to read, and I wish you all the very best in future.

Hi everyone:

Once again, I am writing this one “live” from another HAPPEN meeting. If you follow my blog, then you will recall that I wrote an entry two weeks ago (October 14) from our Burlington meeting. This time, I write you all from the Mississauga Living Arts Centre – where HAPPEN meets every Tuesday morning. Just like 2 weeks ago, I write this during the second half of today’s meeting. Our current members are seated at various tables around the room networking with each other, while our “rookies” (those attending one of our meetings for the first time) are doing a New Member Orientation, led by our Executive Director.

Today, I celebrate my 53rd birthday. But I really don’t feel any different from when I was 52. Or any other year. I must confess that I don’t always feel comfortable  celebrating birthdays, or making a big fuss over them. In fact, for many years I barely acknowledged my birthday, and have only started observing it again in more recent times.

Still, I always appreciate things like the special birthday supper my parents had for me last night at their Mississauga home, or the several cards I have received recently (either online or in person), as well as other gestures from family and friends. I know they do it out of love and sincere friendship. I do appreciate it and if any of you are reading this blog entry, thank you very much for all your kindnesses.

Rather than make a big deal of October 27 every year, I like to think of my birthday as a time to look back on the previous year, and perhaps dare to look ahead to the future, and in particular to the coming year. So from that perspective, my birthday is a time to take an “inventory” of sorts. I think it’s something we all should do from time to time, no matter how well or how poorly life may be treating you.

As part of my own “inventory”, I recently found a terrific quotation from William Barclay – a 20th century Scottish theologian, author and Bible scholar. According to him: “The two most important days in your life  are the day you were born and the day you discover why”.

Now if you think that this is going to become a long introspective article about my life, with emphasis on what things have been like up to now, or what I hope the next year brings, you might be disappointed. That’s not my intention today. Instead, I would rather take a look at this particular day in 2 sections:

First, an examination of some notable historical events, drawn from past October 27’s.  Second, a list of notable people from the past and present who share this birthday with me. Now that I have set out the parameters, let’s get started.

Like all the other days of the year, October 27 has its share of important events in history. So let’s go back in time and examine some notable Canadian and other world events from this date:

625 – Honorius I begins his reign as Catholic Pope.

1492 – As part of his first voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus reaches Cuba and claims the island for Spain.

1505 – Tsar Ivan the Great dies in Moscow. Some have acknowledged him as the first Tsar of Russia. Ruled as Grand Prince of Moscow since 1462. By 1485 he had consolidated power in the region and laid the administrative groundwork for the establishment of a central Russian state. No, this isn’t Ivan the Terrible (that was his grandson)

1651 – English troops occupy Limerick Ireland.

1662 – Charles II sells Dunkirk to Louis XIV for 2.5 million livres. This would not be the last time that Dunkirk would play a key role in British history, the famous evacuation of British troops in World War 2 proves that.

1682 – Philadelphia is founded by colonists led by William Penn as part of establishment of the Pennsylvania colony by English Quakers as a place for religious freedom and tolerance.

1764 – William Hogarth, an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist, dies in London. As an aside, some sources indicate that he died the day before on October 26. But we’ll go with this one too. In addition to being widely credited with pioneering western sequential art, Hogarth’s work covered a broad range of subjects, including realistic portraiture as well as comic strip-like series of pictures called “modern moral subjects”. Even today, knowledge of his work is so pervasive that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as “Hogarthian.

1775 – U.S. Navy is formed by legislation passed by the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, starting with 7 ships. There is some dispute about this, some sources I checked while preparing this article argue that the actual founding was two weeks earlier (Oct. 13).

1787 – The first of 85 “Federalist Papers” are published in the New York Independent Journal. Written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison using the pen-name “Publius”, the Papers supported the adoption of the new U.S. Constitution

1792 – French troops invade the Austrian Netherlands.

1795 – Spain and the United States sign the Treaty of Madrid (some sources also refer to it as the Treaty of San Lorenzo), establishing the boundaries between the Spanish colonies and the USA, as well as ensuring free and open navigation on the Mississippi River.

1810 – The United States annexes West Florida from Spain on the orders of President James Madison. Congress was on recess at the time, but that didn’t stop the President from asserting his claim that West Florida should be considered part of the Louisiana Purchase and that troops should be sent to enforce this matter.

1838 – Missouri’s Governor, Liburn Boggs, issues the “Extermination Order”, which expels all Mormons from his state. Those who don’t leave face “extermination” – hence the Order’s name

1856 – First passenger trains on the Grand Trunk Railway inaugurate service between Montreal and Toronto.

1858 – Macy’s opens their first department store on 6th Avenue in New York.  Gross receipts on opening day total $1106.00

1871 – Following a territorial dispute between the Orange Free State, several local tribal nations and those who sought to take advantage of the diamond mines in the region, the Griqualand West region of South Africa becomes a British colony. By 1873 its capital is based at Kimberley (where the richest diamond mine is located). But this doesn’t last long, in July 1876 the territory is awarded to the Orange Free State and in 1880 it is reassigned to the Cape Colony. You can learn more about this region by visiting the Griqualand West Wikipedia article

1884 – Designed by architect Henry Hardenberghs, the Dakota apartment complex opens in New York. It would later become famous as the place where John Lennon is murdered in 1980.

1893 – The National Council of Women is formed in Toronto, becoming one of the first organizations to lobby for greater rights for Canadian women

1904 – Official opening of the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit), the first section of the New York City subway system. At 2:35 p.m., Mayor George McClellan proclaimed: “Now I, as Mayor, in the name of the people, declare the subway open!” And with that, the very first train left the City Hall station, arriving at the terminus (145th Street at Broadway) 26 minutes later. Later that day, at 7:00 p.m., the system was officially opened to the public, and before the evening was out, it is estimated the IRT carried 150,000 New Yorkers to their destinations.

The fare on opening day was five cents for a trip along the entire line from City Hall to 145th Street at Broadway – contrast that with $2.25 as of June 2009. That original section is still in service today as part of the “IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line” , although the original City Hall station is no longer used, except as a turning loop for some subway trains.

1913 – In a speech delivered to the Southern Commercial Congress in Mobile, Alabama, President Woodrow Wilson declares that “the United States of America will never again seek one additional foot of territory by conquest”. OK, you can stop laughing now, I think he meant it as a serous comment. Read it and decide for yourself using this link

1918- Canadian pilot Billy Barker is awarded the Victoria Cross. Barker was a native of Dauphin, Manitoba downed 4 German planes during World War 1 in spite of being wounded 3 times himself. Barker died in 1930 in a training accident.

1920 – KDKA Pittsburgh, North America’s oldest continuously operating commercial radio station with the same call letters, is granted a licence by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate and goes on the air a few days later on November 2. In addition to the above claim, KDKA is sometimes described as the oldest radio station in North America. But there is some debate as to whether this is actually the case, so let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

As noted on a Web site that looks at the early days of Canadian radio, CFCF in Montreal actually went on the air as radio station XWA (which stood for “Experimental Wireless Apparatus) on December 1, 1919 – almost a year earlier than KDKA. For the first few months, XWA focused on doing experimental broadcasts (hence the call letters) but all that changed on May 20, 1920 when XWA’s first commercial broadcasts took place. Almost six months later, on November 4, 1920 XWA switched over to the CFCF call letters, which continued to be used by the radio station until they were changed to CIQC as part of an ownership change in 1991. More about those letters in a moment!

I don’t know exactly which frequency CFCF used when it first went on the air. The Wikipedia article which examines the station’s history mentions that CFCF used a number of frequencies back then (including sharing the 730 kHz frequency with the world’s first French language radio station CKAC from 1925 to 1928) and didn’t adopt the 600 frequency that I remember from my childhood days until 1933. The station continued to operate at 600 kHz until 1999 when it moved down the dial to its final home 940 kHz, a frequency which for many years was used by the CBC’s Montreal English language radio station until CBC decided to switch over to FM.

At least one other American radio station (based at Union College in Schenectady, New York) claims to be older than KDKA. But CFCF Montreal ceased operations in January 2010, and WRUC is a college station and therefore may not be considered by some as a commercial entity – or at least not to the same degree as KDKA. So while I think we have shown that KDKA isn’t the oldest radio station in North America, I did say that it’s the oldest continuously operating commercial radio station with the same call letters. And I think the evidence proves this statement is true.

One more thing before we end this section and move on to other famous October 27’s. Although CFCF radio in Montreal was shut down in January 2010, its legacy continues to this day because it has been the call letters for Montreal’s CTV television station ever since it went on the air on January 20, 1961. Although it has never been confirmed, rumour has it that CFCF stands for “Canada’s First, Canada’s Finest”.

1920 – The League of Nations, forerunner of today’s United Nations, moves its headquarters from London to Geneva.

1922 – Voters in Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) vote  in a referendum which proposes the British colony’s  annexation by South Africa. The motion is defeated.

1925 – Water skis patented by Fred Waller.

1931 – Chuhei Numbu of Japan sets the record for the long jump at 26 feet, 2.5 inches

1936 – Wallis Simpson files for divorce from her second husband, which would eventually allow her to marry King Edward VIII, thus forcing his abdication from the throne.

1938 – DuPont announces that it’s naming its new synthetic yarn “nylon”

1941 –  The Chicago Daily Tribune publishes an editorial declaring that the United States will not go to war against Japan. Guess what happened about six weeks later? Can you say “Pearl Harbour”?

1944 – Belgrade is liberated from the Nazis by Yugoslavian forces led by Marshall Tito.

1946 – First commercially sponsored program is broadcast on American television (“Geographically Speaking”, sponsored by Bristol-Myers)

1947 – “You Bet Your Life”, hosted by Groucho Marx, debuts on ABC Radio. In an era just before the advent of commercial television, it’s all about radio. The show becomes an instant hit and becomes one of the most iconic radio shows of its time.

1953 – British gunboats foil a leftist coup in the South American colony of British Guiana. The country would gain independence in 1966, and is today better known as Guyana.

1954 – Walt Disney’s 1st TV show, “Disneyland,” premieres on ABC.

1956 – Elvis Presley is in New York, rehearsing for his appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, which takes place the following evening. It’s actually the second of a three show contact that Elvis and his manager, the legendary Colonel Tom Parker, negotiate with Sullivan. The young musician, already one of the hottest stars of the day, is paid $50,000 – more than Sullivan had paid any act to date. Or at least that’s what the contract says. In reality, Colonel Parker gets 50%. Call it a “commission” or similar fee, but it’s worth it. A few weeks earlier, Elvis appeared on The Steve Allen Show, which was Ed Sullivan’s major competitor in the variety show field. It was a great success, leaving Sullivan no choice but to respond – hence the contract.

An interesting tidbit about this appearance is that the October 28 show is the first time Ed Sullivan actually introduced Elvis. The first appearance, in August 1956, was shortly after Sullivan had been involved in a car accident, so Charles Laughton served as substitute host while Sullivan was recovering from his injuries – and introduced him as “Elvin Presley”! The last of the three shows took place on January 3, 1957 – with Elvis shot from the waist up.
Seems his “gyrations” were just a bit too hot for the late 1950’s.

In each case, Elvis is the opening act on the show, which is beamed into millions of North American homes. And helps the young singer’s popularity grow even further.

I’m also quite fond of this particular entry because it happened on the very day that I was born. When I first got the idea for this thing, I really wanted to include something from October 27, 1956. And in finding this information about Elvis and his appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show I succeeded. So while he was rehearsing on that late fall Saturday in New York, I was just a wee baby somewhere within the walls of the Ottawa Civic Hospital, experiencing my first few hours of life.

1958 – Iskander Mirza, Pakistan’s first president, is deposed by the country’s military in a bloodless coup.  General Ayub Khan is installed as President. This coup marks the beginning of a sad trend in Pakistan’s political history which continues to this day, in which power seems to swing back and forth between civilian and military presidents. Transitions are not always peaceful. The coup was perhaps ironic, in that Mirza had proclaimed martial law three weeks earlier, with the assistance of Khan and others in the military. Hmm – what’s that saying again? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

1960 – Legendary American soul singer Ben E. King records two of his biggest hits: “Stand By Me”, and “Spanish Harlem” in a New York City studio. The songs help propel King’s first solo album after leaving “The Drifters” to bestselling status.

1960 – At baseball’s post-season winter meetings held in St. Louis, the American Leagues approves the move of the Washington Senators to Minneapolis-St. Paul. Franchise is renamed the Twins – a reference to the “Twin Cities”, a popular nickname for the combined area. A new franchise is awarded to Washington, and adopts the Senators name. A second franchise is awarded to Los Angeles and is named the Angels. Both expansion franchises begin play in the 1961 season.

At first glance, the above entry might seem a bit strange – after all, it’s asking a lot to award 2 expansion franchises and have them ready to play within 6 months. Just think of the logistics alone, such as negotiating a stadium lease, naming the team, hiring staff both on and off the field, designing a logo and uniforms… But here’s the “back-story”. Earlier in 1960, the Griffith family (who had been the longtime owners of the Washington Senators) were awarded the Minnesota franchise. After due consideration, however, they asked if that expansion franchise could be placed in Washington, and their current team moved to Minnesota. Their request was accepted.

As for the Los Angeles Angels, I suppose it’s the old adage about how things aren’t always as they seem. While on the surface, it appears that the franchise was granted at those St. Louis meetings, the whole thing had been in the works for some time.

In the years after the Dodgers and Giants left New York for California, there was serious talk about a brand new third major league, the Continental League, aiming to start in 1961 – which led both the National and American Leagues to take action. One of these actions was for the American League to award an expansion franchise to Los Angeles. It took a while to sort out various issues (especially who would own the new team), but in the end everything was ready to go and announced at the St. Louis meetings. An expansion draft, designed to stock the 2 new teams with players, was held on December 14, 1960 and the Angels and Senators took the field in April 1961.

1961 – the American Basketball League begins play. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel too badly. The league only played one full season (1961-62) and part of another. But in their short existence, the ABL was rather innovative. For example, they invented the now common three point shot. Not only that, but the league’s Cleveland franchise was owned by George Steinbrenner. Yes, THAT George Steinbrenner. Who later went on to own the the New York Yankees You can learn more at: The American Basketball League

1962 – Major Rudolph Anderson, a US Air Force pilot, is shot down flying his U-2 aircraft on a recon mission , the only casualty of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

1962 – Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass release their first album: “The Lonely Bull”. According to the liner notes from the 2001 recording: “Herb Alpert: Definitive Hits”, he was inspired to record the title track after visiting a bullfight in Tijuana with some friends. The album was a major success for the group, and during much of the 1960’s and 70’s, the group’s blend of “cool jazz” and Latin rhythms struck a powerful chord with audiences around the world. The group was even parodied in the classic comedy series ‘Get Smart’, where they were known as “Herb Talbot’s Tijuana Tin”, a group of pseudo-musicians who were really KAOS agents out to destroy Max, “99” and the rest of CONTROL. I decided to include this entry because I have loved their music since my childhood.  Funny thing – back then, while other kids were groovin’ to groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, I preferred The Brass. Yes, over time I came to love rock and roll too, but I still love Herb Alpert’s music. When I’m feeling down and blue, I put a Tijuana Brass recording on my stereo, and I feel great in no time!

1963 – Joost de Blank, who served as the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town from 1957 to 1963, and was a leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, declares in his Sunday morning sermon at St. George’s Cathedral that “Jesus Christ in this county would likely have been arrested under the Suppression of Communism Act.”

1964 – Sonny and Cher, one of the most famous couples of the 1960’s, are married. The Web site I got this from notes that Cher wore bell-bottoms to the ceremony. Do we really need to know this? Hmm!

1964 – As part of that year’s Presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan, at the time one of Hollywood’s leading actors, delivers a speech in support of Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate. The speech became known as “A Time For Choosing”, and is cited by many observers as the event which started Reagan’s political career. Shortly after the 1964 Presidential election, won easily by Lyndon Johnson (the Democratic Party’s candidate), Reagan was asked to consider running for Governor of California in the 1966 election. He won and then was re-elected in 1970.

The rest, as one might say, is history. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts during the 1970’s, Regan won the Republican nomination for the 1980 Presidential election, and defeated Jimmy Carter to become the USA’s 40th President. In 1984, he was re-elected to office. Today, he is remembered as one of America’s most popular and respected Presidents.

1968 – Games of the XIXth Olympiad close in Mexico City. Canada wins gold in team equestrian just before the closing ceremonies – the only gold medal Canada won at those Games.

1969 – American consumer rights advocate Ralph Nader launches his first major organization: “Nader’s Raiders”.

1969 – John Tinbergen is awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

1971 – As the culmination of an “Africanization” policy adopted by the government of President Mobutu Sese Seko starting in 1965, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is officially renamed the Republic of Zaire – a name derived from the Portuguese: “Zaire”, which is an adaptation of the Kongo word nzere or nzadi, or “the river that swallows all rivers”.

As one Web site I checked notes, however, the choice of name is a strange one given Mobutu’s desire for Africanization. As noted “Zaire” actually comes from a Portuguese term, but the name “Congo” was used for centuries to refer not only to the great river itself, but also to the ancient Kongo Empire which for centuries controlled much of west central Africa, including parts of present-day Angola and the 2 Congo Republics. The country continues to be known as Zaire until May 1997 when Mobutu’s government is overthrown and the new government decides to once again call it the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mobutu’s “Africanization” policy was far reaching in nature, perhaps designed by the government as a way to rid the country of its European colonial ties, especially during the period up to 1960 when the country was known as the Belgian Congo. For example, in 1966 the nation’s capital of Leopoldville (named for Belgium’s King Leopold II when founded in 1881) was changed to Kinshasa in tribute to an ancient settlement named Kinchassa that stood nearby. Other cities were also given African names (for example; Stanleyville was renamed as Kisangani), the national currency became known as the “zaire”, and even the mighty Congo River itself became the Zaire River. As noted above, all this lasted until May 1997 when the Mobutu regime was overthrown and the country’s name (and the river) reverted back to their pre-1971 names.

1971 – A vote in the House of Commons endorses Britain’s desire to seek membership in what we now know as the European Union. The measure passes by 132 votes and is seen as a major victory for Prime Minister Edward Heath – who had lobbied for closer ties with Europe at least since 1961.

1974 – French long distance runner Chantal Langlace sets the women’s record for the fastest marathon to date. She breaks the tape in Neuf-Brisach, France at an impressive 2 hours, 46 minutes and 24 seconds. This would be one of three times she would win this race. And in an interesting twist, she would recapture the world record from American Jacqueline Hansen on May 1, 1977 with a time of 2 hours 35 minutes and 16 seconds at a marathon held in Oiartzun, Spain. You can learn more about Ms. Langlace at Chantal Langlace. And for those who may be wondering, as of my 2016 revision, the current women’s world marathon record is 2 hours 15 minutes 25 seconds, set by Paula Radcliffe of England at the 2013 London Marathon.

1978 – the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded jointly to Israel’s Menachem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat in recognition of the recently adopted Camp David Accord

1979 – the Caribbean islands of St Vincent and Grenadines become independent from Great Britain.

1982 –  Following passage of legislation by Parliament and Royal Assent, July 1 is officially proclaimed as Canada Day. The change is not universally accepted – to this day, the Globe and Mail newspaper publishes an editorial each July 1 defending the holiday’s traditional name: “Dominion Day”

1982 – China announces that its population has now passed the 1 billion mark, the first country to do so. As an aside, the government hired 5 million census takers to assist in getting this done.

1983 – President Ronald Reagan issues a statement defending the recent coup in the Caribbean nation of Grenada, led by a strikeforce of 2000 U.S. Marines and Army Rangers. Reagan notes that the overthrow of the Grenandian government led by Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was justified for security reasons and because it threatened the region’s economic and political stability. Could the fact that Bishop’s government was considered to have leftist/socialist tendencies and was strongly supported by people such as Cuba’s Fidel Castro have anything to do with it? Hmm – maybe we should think about that, but not for too long if you get my drift. Not everyone agrees, many condemn the American actions and call it a violation of international law.

1984 – France performs nuclear test at Muruora Island. On the same day, the USSR also performs a test, at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk

1985 – Hurricane Juan ravages the Gulf states and then moves up the Eastern seaboard to New England and later strikes Nova Scotia, leaving millions of dollars in storm damage and 49 deaths.

1985 – the 16th New York City Marathon was won by Orlando Pizzolato in a time of 2 hours 11 minutes 34 seconds.

1985 – Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Anthony Carter begins a streak of over 100 consecutive games with at least one catch.

1985 – The Kansas City Royals defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in game seven of the World Series. This Series is sometimes called the “I-70 World Series” because Interstate 70 links the two Missouri cities. It’s the first ever Series win for the Royals – and poignant in retrospect when their manager, Dick Howser, dies from cancer a few months later.

1986 – Not to be outdone, the New York Mets defeat the Boston Red Sox in game seven of their World Series. But this game is actually anticlimactic, in that the Red Sox were one out away from winning the Series in the previous game. Not only that, but one strike away. Only to have a ground ball go under the glove of Boston first baseman Bill Buckner, resulting in the Mets scoring two runs to win the game.

Many fans cite this as more evidence of the famous “Curse of the Bambino”, which prevents the Sox from ever winning another World Series. So it is perhaps ironic that the Curse ended on this day in 2004. See the entry below for more info!

1986 – New financial laws come into effect in Britain, leading to the deregulation of the money market and which causes a “big bang” effect in the City of London.

1987 – South Korea adopts a new constitution.

1989 – The World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s resumes after a ten day delay. Play was suspended after a major earthquake hit the Bay Area on the evening of October 17. In the end, the delay only postpones the inevitable, as Oakland sweeps the Giants in four straight games.

1990 – Xavier Cugat, legendary American bandleader, dies of heart failure at age 90. I noted him because I remember an episode of the classic comedy “All in the Family” when Archie and the gang play a game of guessing bandleader’s initials. When Archie has them try “EC”, they can’t get it until he tells them the answer is Xavier Cugat. But then, much to his dismay, he learns that the first name is really spelled with an X and not with an E.

1990 – the annual Breeders Cup horse races are held at Belmont Park in New York. The “flagship” race (the Classic) is won by Unbridled, who earlier that year won the Kentucky Derby. Other champions that day included Fly So Free, Bayakoa, In the Wings, Meadow Star, Royal Academy and Safely Kept. You can watch the Classic by clicking on this link

1991 – In one of the most thrilling 7th games in World Series history, the Minnesota Twins delight their home crowd by defeating the Atlanta Braves 1-0 in 10 innings. You can watch the game by clicking here. But if you want to do that, I hope you have a looong time to spare.The entire broadcast lasted something like 5.5 hours. Including all the commercials from the CBS broadcast. Wow!!

1992 – Don Baylor is appointed as the first manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies, who along with the Florida Marlins would begin play in 1993.

1992 – Federal Court of Canada rules that the Canadian military’s treatment of homosexuals was unconstitutional, citing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  It leads to more openly gay and lesbian soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces. As of today, Canada is one of 25 countries worldwide which permits this.  Contrast the policy with the United States, where the country is wrestling with similar issues in 2009 and beyond.

But that’s not the end of this story. By an interesting coincidence, on that very same day, Allen Schindler, a U.S. Navy radioman, was murdered by one of his shipmates, Terry Helvey. Schindler was a homosexual, and at least one Web site I checked when researching all this felt that this was the main reason that he has murdered. The aftermath soon led to the American military’s adoption of the famous and controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with respect to gays and lesbians in the miltary, which remained in force until President Barack Obama repealed the legislation in 2011.

1995 – Rally held by pro-federalist campaign in downtown Montreal, three days before Quebec referendum on the concept of sovereignty-association. The rally attracts hundreds of thousands from across Canada – many of whom make the trip thanks to special discounts offered by transportation providers (and which is strongly protested by the “sovereignists” in the days and months that followed). Given the narrow margin of victory by the federalist side, many credit the rally as a turning point in the referendum campaign.

1995 – The contract which makes the move of the Cleveland Browns football team to Baltimore official is signed. As part of the move, however, the team must adopt a new name, logo and team colours. They decide to name the team the “Baltimore Ravens” in tribute to famous author Edgar Allen Poe, a Baltimore native, and in recognition of one of his most well known works, The Raven.

But the Browns and their rich tradition and history are not forgotten. As part of the above agreement an expansion team is awarded to Cleveland and begins play in 1999. The team adopts the Browns name, logo, team colours and uniform. Browns fans don’t see as an expansion team, but rather as the revival of the previous franchise. And even today, Art Modell (the owner who moved the former team to Baltimore) is reviled in Cleveland!

1997 – Five unions representing 126 000 teachers go on strike in Ontario, the largest teacher strike ever in North America. The teachers protest reforms put forward by the Mike Harris government. The strike is rather short-lived, and ends on November 7.

1997 – Dow Jones crashes record 554 pts to 7161, and sets off panic within the American financial community. Is this 1929 and the Great Depression all over again? After all the 1929 crash happened in October too. In the end, while the economy does go into recession for a time, it’s nothing like 1929. Government regulations (we hope!) will ensure that 1929 will never happen on the same scale again.

1998 – One of Canada’s best known newspapers, The National Post, makes its debut. It was originally owned and operated by Conrad Black but in the years since then it has changed owners a few times. As of 2016, it is owned by Postmedia Corporation, which also operates the Sun chain of newspapers, such as The Toronto Sun. Want to read today’s edition of The Post? Take a look by clicking on this link

1999 – the New York Yankees defeat the Atlanta Braves to win yet another World Series, the 25th in their remarkable history. The 4-1 final score completes a four game sweep for the Bronx Bombers. In another twist of sports history, it marks the second time that year that a New York City team would sweep a team from Atlanta out of the playoffs; in the spring of that year, the Knicks would do this to the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the NBA playoffs. It would also mark the final time the Yankees clinched the championship at the old Yankee Stadium. Ten years later, when the new Yankee Stadium opened, the team would do it again. You can watch that final game right here

2002 – The Anaheim Angels win their first ever World Series, defeating the San Francisco Giants 4-1 in the seventh and deciding game. As a lifelong Los Angeles Dodger fan, I am grateful that the Angels denied our bitter rivals the Giants their first World Series championship since both teams left New York for California after the 1957 season. So it’s only right that I include this entry, and thank the Angels for giving me a nice birthday present.

The rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants is among the most heated in pro sports. It began, as one might expect, back in the days when the Giants played at the Polo Grounds in New York and the Dodgers were at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, just a few miles away. When both teams headed west in 1957, the rivalry went with it. If anything it has only grown stronger over time, especially when you consider the natural rivalry between Los Angeles and San Francisco – California’s 2 most dominant cities. And just like many other sports rivalries (Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs in hockey; Boston Celtics and LA Lakers in basketball or the Red Sox and Yankees in baseball), fans of one team would never cheer for the other. As a result, we Dodger fans never cheer for the Giants and vice-versa.

A final irony – 8 years to the day later (Oct. 27, 2010), the Giants returned to the World Series for the first time since their 2002 loss to the Angels. This time, they played the Texas Rangers. Sad to say (at least from my perspective!), but the Giants won the Series – their first win since 1954, when the team was still based in New York. As an aside, it’s interesting to note that during the years when the Dodgers and Giants played in New York, the Giants won five World Series titles, while Brooklyn only celebrated once (1955). But since both teams moved to California, the Dodgers have won five Series titles (1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988), while it took over 50 years for the Giants to do the honours. They won their first World Series title by defeating the Texas Rangers in 2010, a second two years later in 2012 over the Detroit Tigers and did it again in 2014 against the Kansas City Royals.

2004 – Boston Red Sox sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in 4 games to win their first World Series championship since 1918, touching off major celebrations by their long-suffering fans. They don’t have to wait nearly as long for an encore, as the team wins the Series again in 2007. This one is also a sweep, against the Colorado Rockies, who win the National League championship for the first time in franchise history. The Sox would also beat the Cardinals in 2013, this time winning it in Boston – the first time they had won it all at Fenway Park since that 1918 championship. That’s right, this one took place in St. Louis – the 2007 title was won in Denver.

2004 – Scientists announce they have found a possible new species of miniature hominid, or primate, that lived as recently as 12,000 years ago on the Indonesian island of Flores.

2011 – In one of the strangest and most bizarre games in World Series history, the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Texas Rangers 10-9 in 11 innings to send the Series to a seventh game for the first time since that 2002 Series I mentioned above. This game has everything. Poor defence (5 errors combined by the two teams). A couple of times in the ninth and tenth innings when the Cardinals are literally one pitch away from elimination -and survived! Only the third team in World Series history to do that (as an aside, we noted one of the other 2 teams earlier – those 1986 New York Mets against the Red Sox). A “walk-off” home run to lead off the bottom of the eleventh by David Freese to win the game.

And in a scenario straight out of a Hollywood movie, Freese is a St. Louis native and grew up as a diehard Cardinals fan. Not only that but his baseball career had started off poorly, to the point where he actually quit the game after his senior year of high school. He returned a few years later and made the big leagues with the San Diego Padres, only to be traded to his hometown team. You can figure out the rest of the story. Freese’s homer also marks the first time in the Cardinals long and proud history that the team had won a World Series game with a home run.

The Cardinals also achieve some other World Series “firsts”. By scoring twice in the ninth and twice again in the tenth, they become the first team in Series history to come back twice from two run deficits in the ninth inning or later. And if that’s not enough, St. Louis becomes the first team to score runs in the eighth, ninth and tenth innings in a Series game.

And for those who may be wondering – the Cardinals did indeed win that seventh game the following night (Oct. 28). Although Texas started off with two runs in the top of the first, St. Louis answered with two of their own in the bottom of the inning. From there the outcome was never really in doubt, the Cardinals cruised to a 6-2 victory to capture the 11th title in team history. Freese is named the 2011 World Series MVP for his efforts not only in that epic game 6, but for the entire seven games. Oh – and if you have nothing better to do for about five hours, you can watch the game in its entirety by using this link. One brief note about this link, for some reason the first 5 minutes or so has no sound. The same thing happens at other points in the broadcast, but it is still worth watching one of the great games in World Series history.

2012 – The Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League win the final game played in their historic home stadium (Ivor Wynne Stadium), defeating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 28-18. Although close to 30,000 tickets are sold, only about half actually attend the game due to inclement weather.

Although the stadium had been renovated and expanded several times over the years, it dates back to 1928 and hosted the first ever British Empire Games (now known as the Commonwealth Games) in 1930. A new stadium was built on the same site (but with a different “orientation” – Ivor Wynne was designed with the field in an east-west setting – the new stadium is north-south), and was originally scheduled to open in June 2014 – due to construction delays the Tiger Cats did not play their first game in their new home until Labour Day 2014. And the stadium was not officially completed until late spring 2015. It served as the location for soccer events during the 2015 Pan Am Games – and now performs many of the same functions as old Ivor Wynne Stadium (the home field for the Tiger Cats, as well as hosting many other community football, soccer and other events). In the spring of 2013, it was announced that the naming rights had been purchased by Tim Hortons and that the stadium would be known as “Tim Hortons Field”. You can learn more about the stadium by visiting Tim Hortons Field – the official Web site

2013 – Once again, the St. Louis Cardinals are back in the World Series and making news in a game played on October 27. This time it’s a rerun of the 2004 affair as they once again play the Boston Red Sox. Tonight is game 4 and the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals by a final score of 4-2, to even the Series at two games each. So why am I telling you all about this one? Because the game featured another historic “first” when the game ends with the Red Sox pitcher Koji Uehara picking off pinch runner Kolten Wong at first base, leaving Carlos Beltran (the game’s potential tying run) at home plate. The play marks the first postseason game in baseball history to end on a pickoff. Maybe there’s something about playing World Series games in St. Louis because the previous evening, game 3 ends with pinch-runner Allen Craig winning the game for the Cardinals due to an obstruction call charged on the Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks. And that was the first time in Series history that a game had ended with such a call.

2014 – Municipal elections take place across Ontario – in keeping with changes to the electoral laws which moved the elections to the 4th Monday in October every four years. As one might expect from any election, many incumbents were re-elected as mayors, councillors or school trustees. But I wanted to highlight this because the 2014 elections marked the end of an era in Mississauga, the city I lived in from 1978 to 2002 (and still have countless ties with today). After a remarkable 36 years as Mayor, Hazel McCallion decided not to seek re-election. Which I suppose is to be expected at the young age of 93. She was succeeded by Bonnie Crombie, a former City councillor. Now lest you think Hazel (as everyone calls her in Mississauga) has retired to a quiet life – think again. As of this writing (October 2016), Hazel continues to be as busy as ever. Her legacy is all over the city, including a couple of schools named for her (including a Sheridan College campus located just a short walk from City Hall) and several other places. I have long been one of her greatest fans and admirers – some of that might be due to the fact that she grew up in Port-Daniel, Quebec – a small town in Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula only a few miles from New Carlisle (where my family comes from).

2015 – The World Series opens in Kansas City with a historic match-up. It’s the first time in Series history that two teams from baseball’s “expansion” era are in it. In other words, we don’t have one of the classic franchises like the Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Reds, Giants or Pirates from the National League, or teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, White Sox or Tigers from the American League. The New York Mets entered the National League in 1962 and the Kansas City Royals started play in the American League in 1969. The game itself turns out to be an instant classic. Kansas City’s starting pitcher, Edinson Volquez, delivers a terrific six innings for the Royals, when his night ends and he arrives back in the dugout, he is told that his father had passed away earlier in the day (his wife had asked the team not to tell him until after the game – she was concerned the news might have impacted his performance), which makes his outing all the more remarkable. The Royals leadoff batter in the bottom of the first inning didn’t waste any time. Alcides Escobar hits the very first pitch for an inside-the-park home run. It was the first time that had ever happened in Series history and the first inside-the-park homer at any time in a Series game since 1929.  Nearly six hours later, the Royals win the game in the bottom of the 14th, making it the longest first game of any World Series.

2015 – American women’s soccer star Abby Wamback announces her retirement.

For the second major part of today’s blog entry, let’s look at some famous people from the past and present who were born on October 27. In each case, I will cite the name of the person in question, followed by a brief outline of their accomplishments, and finish by listing their date of birth in brackets:

Catherine of Valois – French princess; later married Henry V of England (1401)

Erasmus  – European humanist, theologian and philosopher(1466)

Captain James Cook – Scottish explorer (1728)

Nicolo Paganini –Italian composer and violin virtuoso extraordinaire. One of the most famous musicians of his day, some say he made a Faustian pact with the Devil in exchange for his musical prowess and worldwide fame  – but we may never know for sure! (1782)

Issac Singer – Inventor of the first home sewing machine (1811)

Theodore Roosevelt –  Served as 26th President of the USA from 1901 to 1909; won 1906 Nobel Peace Prize (1858)

Emily Post  – Leading authority on social manners/etiquette (1873)

Edith Halsman –  The last Titanic survivor born in the 19th century (1896)

Marlene Dietrich – German actress; she flees her homeland after Hitler and the Nazi regime take power for the United States and continues her career, appearing in countless movies and later on television (1901)

Helmut Walcha – German church organist; specialized in J.S. Bach and recorded many of his organ works (1907)

Dylan Thomas  – Welsh poet; may be best known for “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”. Among his other works was a radio drama “Under Milk Wood” which was broadcast posthumously in 1954 (1914)

Harry Saltzman – Canadian film producer; famous for the James Bond movies which he co-produced with Albert Broccoli (1915)

Oliver Tambo – South African poltician; co-founder of the African National Congress (1917)

Teresa Wright – American actress (1918)

Nanette Fabray – American actress (1920)

Ruby Dee – American actress, poet, playwright, journalist and civil rights leader (1922)

Ralph Kiner – Baseball player; starred with the Pittsburgh Pirates – later became a broadcaster for the New York Mets (1922)

Carlos Andres Perez – Served 2 terms as President of Venezuela –  from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1994 (1922)

Roy Lichtenstein – American pop artist. During the 1960’s, along with Andy Warhol and others, Lichtenstein became a key leader in the new art movement. Similar to what we noted earlier at the William Hogarth entry (his death in 1764), Lichtenstein was also into social satire and parody, and took comic strips as his basic inspiration. (1923)

H.R. Haldeman – American politician; served as White House Chief of Staff during the Nixon years and  was a leading figure in the Watergate scandal (1926)

Gilles Vigneault – Quebecois composer, poet, musician and advocate for Quebec independence; may be best known for his song “Mon Pays” (1928)

Kyle Rote – star fullback for the New York Giants football team from 1951 to 1961; plays in the 1958 championship game against the Baltimore Colts, considered by many to be the greatest football game ever played and a catalyst in the growth of the National Football League as a key part of the American sports landscape (1928)

Floyd Cramer – American pianist; specialized in country music and helped create “The Nashville Sound”; his most famous recording was “The Last Date”, released in 1960. (1933)

John Cleese – English comedian, one of the original members of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”. Also starred as Basil Fawlty in the 1970’s comedy series “Fawlty Towers”, and in several James Bond, Harry Potter and Shrek movies  (1939)

John Gotti – American gangster; “boss” of New York City’s Gambino crime family (1940)

Lee Greenwood – American country music singer – had hit record with “God Bless the USA” (1940)

Carrie Snodgrass – American actress; best known for her performance in “The Diary of a Mad Housewife” (1945)

Garry Talent – American bass guitarist; member of Bruce Springsteen’s “E Street Band” (1949)

K.K. Downing – guitarist for the rock and roll band “Judas Priest” (1951)

Roberto Beninghi – Italian actor-director. Won 1997 Academy Award for Best Actor in “Life is Beautiful” (1953)

Peter Firth – English actor. Has starred in many television, film and theatre productions on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps best known for his role as Sir Harry Pearce in the BBC television series “Spooks”, but also well known to North American audiences for appearing on programs such as “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”. (1953)

Robert Picardo – American actor. May be best known for his roles in the “Stargate” series of science fiction television series (SG1; Atlantis and Stargate Universe). (1953)

Jane Esther Hamilton – American actress best known for her work in the “adult” film industry, where she has both starred in and directed many X-rated feature films from the 1980’s to the present. I noted her birth name, but she has a number of stage names – the best known may be as Veronica Hart.  She also served as the inspiration for one of the main characters in the 1997 film “Boogie Nights”, a drama starring Burt Reynolds. I’m not a great fan of “adult entertainment” (yes, I hear the snickering from some of you, but it’s true!!), but I thought it might be fun to add her to this list, given her year of birth. That’s right – the same as mine!! (1956)

Patty Sheehan – LPGA golfer; winner of many tournaments, such as the 1994 U.S. Women’s Open (1956)

Glen Hoddle – English soccer ball player; plays for many years with legendary London team Tottenham Hotspur, and longtime member of England’s national soccer team (1957)

Simon Le Bon – English musician; lead singer of the “Duran Duran” rock group. Formed in Birmingham, England in 1978, “DD” went on to become one of the most popular groups of the 1980’s, with hit songs such as “Rio”, “Union of the Snake” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”.  In 1985, the group  also released the title track to the James Bond movie “A View to a Kill” (1958)

Marla Maples – American actress and socialite; one of many wives of entrepreneur Donald Trump (1963)

Jill Hetherington – Canadian tennis player (1964)

Scott Weiland – American musician; lead singer for the “Stone Temple Pilots” rock group. Later joined another music group “Velvet Revolver” and has also found success as a solo artist. (1967)

Vanessa Mae – Chinese violinist; performs in concert with many of the world’s leading orchestras and has recorded many of the “classics” (1978)

Patrick Fugit – American actor. Has starred in many American films, most notably “Almost Famous”. (1982)

Kelly Osbourne – English actress, TV personality and social activist (1982)

Brady Quinn – American pro football quarterback. As of 2011, Quinn is listed as a backup QB for the Denver Broncos. Just one of many famous quarterbacks to lead the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and who eventually made it to the CFL and/or NFL including Joe Montana, Tom Clements, Jimmy Clausen, Terry Hanratty, Daryle Lamonica and Joe Theismann (1984)

Andrew Bynum – Pro basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers. (1987)

Evan Turner – Another member of the hard-court/squeaky sneeker set. I’ll bet these two often played against each other (1988)

And finally!!

Greg Brown – Yours truly! Multitalented author and publisher (including this blog); librarian; information manager; freelance consultant; Web site designer; witty and debonair man-about-town (1956)

Thanks to all of you for reading this blog. Stayed tuned for the next installment – coming soon to a computer near you!!

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Hi everyone:

It’s now late afternoon on Monday October 19. You could say that today’s blog entry is a direct result of the one I wrote from the HAPPEN Burlington meeting last week (October 14) – an indirect sequel of sorts. If you read that one, you know that I am very passionate about finding a cure for breast cancer. That was my basic theme, and I hope that message came through. In the days that followed, I was curious to see what kind of reaction I would generate.

In order to get a message across, create awareness for something and generate a corresponding reaction, however, you need to promote and market it. In the case of last week’s entry, I needed to create some “buzz”, so that people would be interested enough to read my article, react to it and maybe even donate to breast cancer research or decide to try the same things that I did. Especially since I’m not a bestselling author or a high-powered celebrity that everyone watches. Nope, I’m just your average blog writer!

So I spent some time doing just that – using several methods to promote my message, hoping that people would read my blog and then act if they felt so inclined. For purposes of this entry, let me focus on just one method I used. Perhaps like some of you reading this, I am very active on LinkedIn, one of the world’s most popular social networks.  I run 6 groups on LI (they range from one catering to ex-Montrealers living in the Toronto region to one for supporters of the Canadian Football League), and I also subscribe to about 30 other groups. That’s in addition to my other LinkedIn activities. As of today, I have almost 600 people in my “network” and it’s still growing. You can find my LinkedIn presence elsewhere within my blog space here on WordPress. 

One of my promotional methods was to spend a couple of hours last Friday afternoon on my LinkedIn account doing postings to almost all of those groups about finding a cure for breast cancer, and in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And I did include this blog address, in the hope that people would stop by and read what I had to say. I also used the Status section on my LinkedIn Home Page to alert people to my initiative. 

After doing all that work on LinkedIn and elsewhere promoting my blog and its underlying message, I decided to give myself a “computer-free weekend”. I turned my computer off on Friday night, and didn’t touch it again until about 7:30 a.m. this morning – roughly 60 hours in total. 

When I logged into my e-mail, I figured I would find many messages (postive as well as negative) as a result of my actions. And you know what happened? No direct e-mail messages from those I had contacted, and only one comment from all those LinkedIn groups. Just one.  A woman from the THOMAS group (Toronto Hamilton Oakville Mississauga And Surrounding areas – that’s where THOMAS comes from – great name, love it!) wrote and was very supportive. But in all those 35 or so groups that was the only “action”. I even logged into my LinkedIn account just after I checked e-mail, but there were no further messages. 

Was I disappointed about the lack of response? Maybe, but I was not really surprised. It’s exactly what I mentioned above. I am passionate about the issue of breast cancer awareness, and would hope that many others are too. And I am not surprised that the one comment I found was positive.  Based on what she told me, I’ll bet she’s just as passionate about this as I am. But for most people, it didn’t register on their “radar”. Or at least not enough to respond to my message.

I have a theory that the people who do respond on any issue are the ones who either agree with your opinion, or they are just as passionate, but opposed. But the vast majority of people don’t respond because they are not interested, have no opinion, don’t care or have no emotional bond to the subject. I’ll wager that’s why I saw so few responses earlier today. Although in this case, I was trying to promote breast cancer awareness, I believe this will happen on any issue, at any time. 

As another example, I also subscribe to an Internet discussion group on Canadian Anglican issues. Since it is a “hot button” topic within global Anglicanism, it’s not surprising that some in the group are passionate about same sex marriages, gay rights and other issues related to human sexuality and homosexuality in particular. Based on what I have seen over the years that I have been a member, this subject is always “driven” by the same people, who often make the same points over and over again, both for and against the issue. It’s a small but vocal group that represents both those Anglicans who favour gay rights and those who don’t. But most people who are members of our discussion group tend not to say anything and just be quiet. 

So all this leads me to the subject I wish to address today.  I wonder how often we think about our values, beliefs, opinions and what others might think of them. I’ll bet that we think more about them than others do. Unless we’re well known to society, such as one of those celebrity categories I mentioned earlier,  most people really don’t care what we think about a certain issue. This may seem surprising to some, but I think all this is normal human behaviour and should be expected. Maybe all this does surprise us because our worldview is distorted. We think that the world revolves around us and to paraphrase that famous EF Hutton television commercial, we think that when we talk, everyone listens. 

We all hope and expect that everyone out there will be passionate about and embrace the same things we do. And agree with us. To us, it’s a no-brainer. And then we get upset when we realize that most people really don’t care. Or at least not the way we do. We expect the whole world to agree with the same things we do, and support them with the same passion we do.  Sorry folks – but it doesn’t work that way. The world doesn’t care that much about us. Or as the title of a recent bestseller about male-female relationships calls it “He’s Just Not That Into You”. The world never has cared and never will. It’s all part of being human. 

There’s another critical element here that people tend to overlook. Just as people have the right to express their views, and to promote and advocate something they strongly believe in, I also believe that human beings have the right not to. To just “tune out” and be quiet. To ignore an issue or subject and not say anything. It can be frustrating to those of who feel passionately about a particular matter.  We can’t force people to agree with us and do our bidding.  Nor can we force them to even take a position at all. We just have to live with it and accept what others tell us by their actions or lack thereof.

It’s all about interpretation, isn’t it? What we see as something powerful and emotional, an issue that must be acted upon with only one correct action, others see the opposite view and sometimes even feel marginalized, demonized or otherwise impacted, depending on how emotional or passionate the issue in question is. There’s almost something Newtonian here. Remember? “For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction”. The great man was talking science, but it’s just as apt for any other issue on this planet and the consequences of same.  Even if that action is not to care, not have an opinion, or choose to do nothing at all. That’s right. Inaction itself is also an action.  

As usual, I have written another long blog entry. So let me leave you with two “corollaries” to this subject, and then throw all this open to all of you, my readers, to react as you feel led. Or not! 

First, every human being is unique and no two people have the same views on all issues, or the same level of emotional attachment to an issue. We’re passionate about some things, not so much about others. And we should respect that no matter what the issue, the majority of the planet won’t have  the same view on a subject that we do. Or care to the same emotional degree. Just part of being human, folks! 

Unless someone is really passionate about an issue, either for or against, they probably won’t respond at all. I would bet that on any issue, perhaps about one quarter or so of the people support it.  Or similar proportion. On the other side, an equal proportion are opposed. Both sides are equally passionate and emotional for their cause.  And then they spend all their energy trying to convince the rest of us that their side is right. Depending on how well or how poorly they argue and lobby for their side (as well as the corresponding emotions involved by those who support one side or other – as well as by the majority who have no attachment to either side), we see the results. 

Second, ever since the dawn of time, different groups have tried to impose their agenda, values and beliefs on the rest of us. In its extreme forms, it leads to political dictatorships and totalitarian regimes where all forms of dissent and opposition to the dominant value are suppressed.  People tend to gather around the belief or value that they agree with. Call it “liberal” or “conservative” or other labels if you wish, but it happens.  The members of each group believe so strongly in their side, they  don’t understand why people are opposed to it. They don’t understand why the world doesn’t see it their way. I talked of distortions earlier – and that is theirs. They can’t comprehend that others have different opinions. And that their side may be wrong.  As someone once said:  “The most frightening thing in the world is someone who is convinced that they are always right”.  Or as a friend of mine likes to say: “When you find someone who thinks they are absolutely right about something, get as far away from them as you can”.

Here’s another way of addressing this subject. Perhaps like many of you, I am a Peanuts fan, and I dearly miss its creator, the legendary, witty and wonderful Charles Schulz. In one of his cartoons, Charlie Brown finds Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse typing away. When Charlie Brown asks Snoopy what he’s doing,  Snoopy says that he is writing a book on theology.  And he has the perfect title: “Has It Ever Occured To You That You Might Be Wrong?”

Not only do people and groups try to impose their agenda, values and beliefs on others, but instead of respecting and trying to understand their opponents they often seem to try to marginalize, demonize and destroy them.  As I noted here recently when I talked about a solution for global Anglicanism, same sex marriages, gay rights and related homosexuality issues may be a perfect example of this, and why people will still be arguing about this issue long after we are all dead and buried.

As I mentioned in that blog article, not only can’t we  Anglicans agree on what the homosexual issue is all about (is it human rights and equality – or proper expressions of human sexuality?), but we spend all our time trying to convince those opposed to us that our side is good and right, while the other side is evil and wrong. And each side does achieve some level of success along the way. But not entirely. We’re all right and we’re all wrong at the same time. While I used homosexuality as an example, this concept can be easily applied to any issue.

I noted above that as part of  lobbying for our side of an issue, we wind up trying to marginalize, demonize and destroy our opponents. But what do we accomplish in doing this? Almost nothing. Regardless of the issue, if we are really passionate and feel strongly about something, we discuss it in extremist and emotionally heated terms. All this talk may get you an audience , but it also inflames passions needlessly. I believe extremism in any form is wrong, and should be discouraged. Instead of trashing your enemy, why not learn more about them and try to respect them. Try to see things from their side. You may never agree with them, but at least you can understand your opponent and their position on an issue. Who knows, you may get a fairer hearing, and perhaps you may even learn to like each other. Or at the very least, tolerate their opinion while agreeing to disagree.

Finally, if you all think I am starting to sound like Malcolm Gladwell, you may be right. I love his books – and if you haven’t read “Outliers”, “The Tipping Point” or “Blink” I highly recommend them. And his brand new book “What the Dog Saw” is being released tomorrow (October 20). I’ll wager that it won’t be long before that one will also be right up there on the bestseller lists. But then again, to go back to the beginning of this article, Malcolm Gladwell is a bestselling author, a high-powered celebrity that everyone watches.  He doesn’t have to create “buzz”. Just mentioning his name and his writings does that immediately. Me? Not so much – at least not yet. Maybe some day!

Once you have read one or all of Gladwell’s books, you’ll never look at the world in quite the same way again. And you may see where part of my thinking as expressed here comes from. 

For more about Malcolm Gladwell, have a look at: http://www.gladwell.com  Or visit your local bookstore and grab a copy of any or all of his books. 

As usual, I have written too much, and probably bored you all to tears. But if you have read this thing all the way to the end – thank you!

Time to publish this online and  move on to other matters – see you all again soon.

So long from Hamilton 🙂

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Hi everyone:

This blog entry represents a “first”, – if only because this time I am not sitting at my computer back home in Hamilton. This time, I write this entry “live” from the October 14 2009 HAPPEN Burlington meeting.  We hold these meetings  every Wednesday morning from 8:30 to 12 noon at the Burlington Art Centre. In other words, this is the first time I have tried what you might call a “remote” blog entry – from somewhere other than at home, and on another computer. I’m sure this will come through fine, and apologize if there are any undue complications.

Before I get started, I also want to thank all of you who reacted to my recent entry here about HAPPEN. The comments were very positive and I am grateful to all of you for your kindnesses and encouragement. To learn more about the organization: http://www.happen.ca

As I write this, it’s just past 11:00 a.m. on a cool, crisp October morning. The second half of our regular Wednesday morning meeting has just begun. The current members are working together as part of our usual networking session that runs during the second half of most of our meetings, while our Executive Director is meeting with those attending for the first time, leading a New Member Orientation that will give them important and valuable information about HAPPEN – in particular about the benefits of being a member of our organization.

Since I now have some “quiet time”, I want to take some time out to address a serious issue and my small contribution to same. For starters, let’s just say that right now my appearance is rather different from the usual. No – I am not talking about wearing formal business clothing (as in shirt, tie…) because I always do that at HAPPEN. It’s important to dress appropriately I feel it’s part of maintaining a professional image.  Instead, it’s my hairstyle that’s a bit different from the norm. Those of you reading this who know me are aware that I do prefer shorter hairstyles. But this time, I have gone much shorter than usual. Why? Because at the urging of some friends I decided to get involved in a “Shave Your Head For Cancer” initiative  as part of Breast Cancer Awarness Month.  So not only did I have my head shaved, but I was encouraged to leave my hair that way for the entire month of October. The final part of the initiative was to promote this as appropriate, and encourage others to make a donation for breast cancer research.

Although I had heard about this sort of thing before, and heard from others who had done this “Shave your head” thing, this was the first time I had actually considered doing it. And I must say that it felt good to be able to make a small contribution to help find a cure for breast cancer. I should also note that like many people, I am motivated by personal emotions here, and as such this paragraph is difficult to write. I lost my maternal grandmother, Lillian Hayes to breast cancer. I never knew her, because she died 10 years before I was born. But on many occasions, I heard wonderful things about her. I remember in particular once when visiting some of my American cousins in Portland, Oregon, my grandmother was mentioned in very positive terms. Two of my-great uncles (her brothers) spoke very lovingly and poignantly about their sister. I must say it had a great impression on me that day, and still does now. Something like 30 years later, those words still ring inside me.

A second woman who died from breast cancer has had an indirect involvement in my life. That’s Sheila Netten, the mother of my four step-sisters, who passed away in 1986. Our 2 families lived in the same city (St. Lambert, Quebec), attended the same church (St. Barnabas) and the girls, my brother and I attended many of the same schools. And when my mother, brother and I moved to Mississauga in 1978, Sheila was one of many who helped us settle into our new home. I must confess that I didn’t really know her well, but Sheila and my mother were close friends for many years. In fact, our two families have known each other for a long time – dating back to the 1950’s.  So it’s important to pay tribute to her as well.

As a result, finding a cure for breast cancer is an emotional issue for me. And I think about it every year when October arrives and we observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now more than ever, let’s all work together to find a cure for this terrible disease that has taken the lives of millions of women around the world.

This year, I wanted to make a contribution and do something different – something that people would notice and see that I meant it. When the opportunity came to participate in  a “Shave Your Head for Cancer” initiative as outlined earlier, I decided to do it.

As part of this I decided to keep my head shaved for all of October. I know that by mid to late November, my hair will likely be back to its “normal” length again, but that’s not the point here. I wanted to join others in creating a public and visible sign to show people of my support. I hope that as I travel around Toronto and surrounding area in the next few weeks that people will see my shaven head and ask me about this. In that small way, I can be an advocate for breast cancer awareness.

And if anyone is wondering – yes I did announce this at some of our recent HAPPEN meetings. I have been told that in fact a few people have made online donations to the Canadian Cancer Society after talking to me about this. If you did make a donation, and you’re reading this blog entry, I want to personally thank you so much for supporting this, it means a lot to me that you would do that.

I suppose one disadvantage in writing this message on another computer (and the fact that I am not at home right now), is that I am a bit limited for time. So I really should close this off with a couple of final thoughts.

First, let’s all work together to find a cure for breast cancer. And of course for prostate cancer too – since that can be seen as the corresponding cancer for men. I hope that each of you reading this will join me in supporting various research and other intiatives that are working for a cure.

Second, if you support what I have decided to do (or if you enjoy readng my blog entries), please consider making a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation,  or similar group of your choice that seeks to find a cure not just for breast cancer, but for so many other cancers.  You can donate online to the CCS at:

http://www.cancer.ca

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation site is found at:

http://www.cbcf.org

As has been said many times – let’s make cancer history. A third breast cancer site that deserves attention is

http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

When I started telling people at HAPPEN about all this, one of my female friends tipped me off to the above site and asked me if I would promote it.  By visiting the site, you can help those who sponsor and fund it to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on ‘donating a mammogram’ for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn’t cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors /advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Nikolette – if you are reading this, thank you for sharing that info with me. I am delighted to help you promote this site, and wish those involved with that Web site the very best.

Finally, I wish to dedicate this blog entry in memory of two very special women. First, to my grandmother – Lillian Laura Hayes (1904-1946). I never met you, Grandma, but I still love you and always will. Second, to the memory of Sheila Netten, the mother of my 4 stepsisters (Linda, June, Cynthia, Shirley), and first wife to my stepfather Ted. May they both rest in peace today and always.

And to you, dear reader, if you have lost a special woman in your life to breast cancer, I feel and share your pain. Perhaps you might wish to make a donation to the organizations I noted earlier or to others that have a mandate to find a cure for breast cancer in their memory. I hope you do, and encourage you to do so. Even if only one person does this – or if only one person reading this becomes an advocate for breast cancer awareness, this article will be worth it.

Just before I publish this entry – a couple of last things. First, while Breast Cancer Awareness Month is taking place in October, the need to find a cure exists all year long.  If you’re reading this after October 2009, why not make a donation today. Thanks in advance for doing that!

Second, I would encourage other men out there reading this to do the same initiative I have done.  Get your head shaved (either by a barber or other “professional”, or do it yourself). Another alternative is to contact an organization such as the ones I noted earlier and locate a “shave your head” initiative in your area. That way, your hair may be used in wigs given to women who undergo chemotherapy treatments. After that, keep your head shaved for a one month period. Finally, tell your family, friends, co-workers… what you have done.  Encourage them to make a donation to breast cancer research. And encourage other guys to do the same.  Let’s show the women in our lives that we love them, and that it’s time to find a cure today! As part of all this, please share this blog entry with as many of your family and friends as possible. Encourage them to do the same.

That’s all for now. Until next time, I wish all my blog readers the best of everything that life has to offer. Signing off from the HAPPEN Burlington meeting, I’ll be back soon.

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Hi everyone:

As I write this, it is the Saturday afternoon of Thanksgiving weekend in Canada – October 10 2009. Today’s blog entry was originally written last month as part of what I call “My Personal Marketing Strategy” . But upon further reflection, and as part of ongoing revisions to that paper, I felt it might be best to move that section over here and adapt it slightly. It will help “tighen up” that original paper, and possibly make it more attractive to those who may be interested in my services. So as noted back in that “Marketing Strategy” let’s talk about HAPPEN. First an overview – including a history of HAPPEN, especially for those readers not familiar with us, and then we’ll get more  specific and talk about my duties within the organization.  

We are Canada’s largest executive network and we have been around since 1991. Here’s a brief history, aimed at those readers who may want to learn more about HAPPEN.  In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Canada was in the midst of a recession not unlike what we have today.  In Toronto, an organization called the “Executive Advancement Resource Network” (better known by its acronym: EARN) was formed to help executives, senior managers and others at similar employment levels who were in career transition find new jobs. Under the leadership of Colleen Clarke, the people at EARN felt the best way for people to find work was through networking. People helping people.  Sharing their professional contacts with their peers and also providing moral support and encouragement for the “tough times” that are part of any job search.

EARN soon became a success, and attracted members from all over the Toronto area.  Some of them came from the Halton and Peel regions west of the city, but those folks soon felt that instead of attending EARN, perhaps a separate organization aimed at managers and executives in those 2 regions might work. And so a group of people including Toronto radio personality Wayne van Exen went to work getting the new group started. Not only did they take their inspiration from EARN, but Colleen and other EARN members lent their support and encouragement.

In early 1991, HAPPEN held its first meeting in Oakville.  I don’t know where the name came from, but just like EARN, it was actually an acronym. The real name was the “Halton and Peel Professional Executive Network”.  But that’s quite a mouthful, so it wasn’t long before people started calling the group “HAPPEN”.  Today, our official name really is HAPPEN, although we still have title to the “Halton and Peel…” name too.

As an aside, I’ll bet the people who started HAPPEN almost 20 years ago might be surprised to learn we’re still here. Back in those early days, most members felt HAPPEN would only be needed for a few months. Just until that particular recession ended. So everything was administered by volunteers, but with almost no structure or management. Things just sorted of “happened” (0uch, there’s a pun for you!), with little thought to whether it would still be running six months or a year from now. Hmm – it’s now almost 20. Wonder what they would think about that?

As the winter of 1991 melted into spring, the organization slowly grew and met at various places in Oakville. Within a few months, HAPPEN found a “permanent” home – at the Galaxie 707 building owned and operated by the CAW union. I have always found it rather ironic that a group aimed at managers and executives, who are certainly not the best friends of organized labour, held their early meetings at a union hall. But there was a good reason for this – some of the “old-timers” at HAPPEN have told me that the union offered it at little or no charge to the organization. And being close to the QEW highway (on the North Service Road – just east of Trafalgar Road) made it a central location for many HAPPEN members.

In 1994, HAPPEN left the Galaxie, and moved to St. John’s Lithuanian Hall (Anapalis), located on Stavebank Road, just south of The Queensway,  in Mississauga. The group continued to meet there until August 2006 when HAPPEN moved to its current home for the Mississauga meetings, the Living Arts Centre (and as part of the move changed its meeting day to Tuesdays).  During those 12 years, many hundreds (if not thousands!) of people came to HAPPEN. In fact, if you’re a longtime HAPPEN member and are reading this blog entry, I’d almost wager that the Anapalis Hall (known affectionately to many HAPPENites simply as “Stavebank”) was where you first encountered the group.

Up until September 2002, Stavebank was the only place where HAPPEN met. Every Thursday morning from 8:30 to 12 noon. But just as the group had started back in 1991 in response to a need from executives in Halton and Peel regions who wanted to network with their peers but felt that the EARN Toronto meetings were too far away, the same thing was taking place again. Over the years, many people from Burlington, Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and the Niagara region had come to Mississauga to join the organization. 

But over time, some of those people asked if we could set up something closer to their area.  This was understandable – it’s not always feasible to drive over to Mississauga from those places mentioned above due to traffic, weather or other concerns. After several months of planning and considering several facilities, HAPPEN Burlington held its first meeting on the morning of Tuesday September 24, 2002 at the Burlington Art Centre. The new location was well received – to the point where HAPPEN soon outgrow its small meeting room (which in fact was one half of a larger conference room). After some negotiation with Art Centre staff, we were able to get the entire room.  But with one small catch. Starting in January 2003, the Burlington meetings were moved to Wednesday mornings.  We’ve been there ever since, and just a couple of weeks ago celebrated our 7th anniversary in Burlington. If anyone from the Burlington Art Centre staff ever reads this entry – thanks from all of us. You’ve always treated our organization with class and respect, with few difficulties. It’s much appreciated.

Shortly after the Burlington location started, we were invited to consider a York Region location, aimed at those living north of Toronto in places like Markham, Richmond Hill and Thornhill. With this in mind, HAPPEN opened a York Region meeting on Tuesday mornings in November 2003, based at the Paradise Hall and Conference Centre – located on Jane Street, just south of Highway 7.  Sad to say, though, the meetings never really “took off” and for reasons too numerous to explore here, the operation closed a year later in November 2004.

In 2006, HAPPEN started looking at opening a Toronto meeting. Taking their cue from the earlier launches in Burlington and in York Region, the HAPPEN Executive spent several months exploring the possibility and looking at meeting locations.  In January 2007, HAPPEN Toronto opened at the North York Memorial Hall (located on the west side of Yonge Street, between Sheppard and Finch), next to Mel Lastman Square.  The group met on Thursday mornings, and stayed there until spring 2008 when it moved to another location in North York. And on November 13 2008, HAPPEN Toronto held its first meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where the group continues to meet every Thursday morning.

In addition to the Toronto area meetings, HAPPEN also runs meetings on Tusday mornings in Vancouver. And over time, it’s possible that HAPPEN could open “chapters” right across Canada. I do know that in the past, we have had inquiries from people in Montreal and Ottawa – just to name 2 places. So as HAPPEN approaches its 20th anniversary in 2011, who knows what the future holds for the organization? It won’t be dull, that’s for sure!

As you can imagine from the above history lesson, HAPPEN has helped thousands of senior managers, executives and others at similar levels in their career transition, and in particular their search for new employment. In fact, it may be impossible to determine just exactly how many people HAPPEN has helped. That’s because although ca. 10,000 people have taken out a HAPPEN membership over the years, many members have come to us several times during their careers. So it’s quite likely that the actual number is much greater. 100,000 perhaps?  We may never know for sure. Where do I fit in, and what is my involvement with HAPPEN? It goes something like this.

To be more specific, I serve as HAPPEN’s Opportunities Administrator. This means in part that I run the job tables which are out on display at all meetings, as well as its online counterpart found on our Web site: www.happen.ca  In addition, I also serve as an “intermediary”, working on one side to help our members who are currently seeking employment, and on the other side with those companies and individuals in Toronto and surrounding area who are hiring and would like to work with HAPPEN in finding suitable candidates for their open positions.  

In addition to the above, I am also responsible for the Facilitation of our weekly meetings. Not only do I run many of our Toronto-area meetings, but in consultation with my colleagues on the Executive Committee, I also work with other HAPPEN members who perform similar duties. We define facilitation as ensuring that each of our weekly meetings is run smoothly, professionally and efficiently, in a well-organized and business-like manner, to present HAPPEN in the best possible way, and to enhance our professional image.  

The above are the 2 primary areas in which I have worked with HAPPEN since I first joined the organization in November 1996. As a member of our Executive Committee, I have also been involved in many other aspects of our operations – things as diverse as co-ordinating the weekly set-up and take-down of our meeting rooms, to taking Minutes at our Executive Committee meetings. 

To sum up, I have enjoyed my work with HAPPEN.  It has been very rewarding – especially knowing that I have indirectly helped thousands of people through the years. A nice by-product is that many of those people have also become good friends. Indeed, if you check my LinkedIn network, the vast majority of them are HAPPEN members who wish to keep in touch with me and I with them.  As an aside, if you want to learn more about my “presence” on LinkedIn (especially if you may be thinking about using my services), have a look at:

While my association with HAPPEN has been most enjoyable, sad to say that it has not been profitable from a financial perspective. Although I have a strong passion for the organization and the services we provide,  it is a “volunteer-driven” organization. This is because we simply do not have the financial resources for any of us who are closely tied to the organization to be paid appropriately. In my own case, my expenses are looked after, and I also receive a small monthly remuneration. All that, however, does not always cover my basic living expenses, hence the need to generate more income opportunities.  And also the need to develop a Personal Marketing Strategy, from which this blog entry has its origins. If you’re someone who may be interested in my services – and/or can help my “bottom line”, then let’s talk soon.

Time to wrap this up. I hope you have enjoyed this look at HAPPEN. If you live in Toronto and surrounding areas and feel that we can help you – especially if you’re an unemployed senior manger or executive, consider this an invitation to drop by an upcoming meeting. You can learn more about HAPPEN at our online home: http://www.happen.ca

And as with all my blog entries, thanks for reading this one. Time to sign off, and I will be back with another dazzling piece of writing for all of you to enjoy soon.

Finally, I noted back at the beginning that I wrote this on the Saturday afternoon of Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. But we should be thankful all the time, not just on a long weekend in mid-October. Or as Dick O’Brien, one of HAPPEN’s most popular speakers, has said: “Develop an attitude of gratitude”. We would do well to heed his advice, not only this weekend, but all year long.

Until next time/a la prochaine!!!

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Hi everyone:

You might say this is a sequel of sorts to my recent blog post about the New York Yankees. And comes from the same inspiration – a sleepless night back in August when I got thinking about what comes to mind when you mention major league baseball teams. In the case of the Yankees, it led to a separate blog entry. No doubt it will for other teams too – especially my favourite team, the Dodgers. But for now, let’s just do a few lines about some of the other franchises. Let’s start with the American League East, working in alphabetical order.

Baltimore Orioles:  An interesting organization with a proud history – originally as the St. Louis Browns before they moved to Baltimore in 1954. My first memory of the Orioles was back in 1966 when they swept my Dodgers in the World Series. Even back then as a 10 year old kid I remember feeling rather disappointed. Those Orioles went on to become one of the great teams of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Wonderful pitching led by guys like Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Pat Dobson, Moe Drabowsky, Mike Flanagan, Milt Pappas and Mike Cuellar. Supported by outstanding players such as Mark Belanger, Davey Johnson, Boog Powell, Larry Harlow, Don Buford, Pat Kelly, Curt Blefary, Andy Etchebarren,  Elrod Hendricks, Ken Singleton, Eddie Murray, John Lowenstein and Paul Blair – just to name a few!

No description of those great Orioles teams would be complete without the Robinsons – Brooks and Frank. Two great players who really helped define the team. Some have said that Brooks Robinson may be the greatest third baseman of all time. I have little or no argument with that idea. They were managed by one of the best in the business, the colourful and highly respected Earl Weaver. In more recent years, the Orioles are likely best known for Cal Ripken Jr.. The man who broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak and one of the greatest players of modern times. I still remember watching the game in September 1995 when he broke the record. A great evening, and a wonderful salute to an achievement which some said could never be done.

If you want to talk about today’s Orioles and their influence on major league baseball, then you simply must mention Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the stadium where the Orioles have played since 1992. Although no one could have known this at the time, the stadium touched off a flurry of new ballparks around North America. Just like Camden Yards, those stadiums in cities like San Francisco, Seattle, New York (both the Mets and Yankees!),  Denver, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati and Cleveland have the “look and feel” of the old-time ballparks, but added the modern technology and state-of-the-art amenities that today’s fans have come to expect. Can you say luxury suites? Private boxes? In a classic old-time atmosphere? Maybe so, and you can say it in many American cities.  But it all started in Baltimore, and that’s why I mention it when commenting on the Orioles.

Sad to say, but in more recent times the Orioles have slipped and not had too many winning seasons. But I wish them well, and hope that it won’t be long before Baltimore becomes a contender again. They owe it to Ripken, the Robinsons and all the other great Orioles of the past to return the franchise to its former glory. I’ll be cheering them on, and watching with interest.

Boston Red Sox: Ah yes – the Red Sox. A few weeks ago, I talked about their classic rivalry with the Yankees, and in particular how it reminded me of the Star Wars movies. Probably the most heated rivalry in all of baseball and one of the greatest in all of sports.  They are the “big boys” – baseball’s answer to the military arms race.  Reminds me of that famous Irving Berlin song: “Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you. No you can’t. Yes I can…” But since I talked about the rivalry in another blog entry, there’s no need to go further.

When I think of the Red Sox, I think of great players like Bobby Doer, Joe Cronin,  Johnny Pesky, Lefty Grove, Fred Lynn, Jimmie Foxx,  Bill Lee,  Luis Tiant, Rico Petrocelli, Rick Burleson, Nomar Garciaparra, Wade Boggs, Jim Lonborg,  Bernie Carbo,  Ken Harrelson,  Dwight Evans, Carlton Fisk, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and so many others who played in the shadow of Fenway Park’s historic Green Monster. And of course, the legendary Yaz and perhaps the greatest Red Sox of them all, Ted Williams.

I think of images such as game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Carlton Fisk’s classic home run. And watching him jump along the first baseline “willing” the ball to be fair. Then jumping for joy when it was. Or the playoff against the Yankees 3 years later when Bucky Dent hit the homer than dashed the Sox hopes for another year. Also known as Bucky “F*&#king” Dent to millions of New Englanders. I think of the 86 year drought and so many near-misses along the way. Losing game 7 in both 1946 and 1967 to the Cardinals. The aforementioned 1978 playoff at Fenway against their hated rivals from New York. Or the ground ball that went under Bill Buckner’s glove in game 6 of the 1986 Series against New York’s “other” ball team at Shea Stadium and then losing game 7 to the Mets the next night. Or the incredible comeback against the Yankees in 2004 and then winning it all against those same Cardinals a few days later. How appropriate that 2 teams who had denied the Sox so many times in the past contributed to the long-awaited Series win.

And finally, is there any geographic region so attached to their sports team as New England is to the Red Sox? I doubt it. I saw it first hand growing up in Montreal and in many trips to Vermont, New Hampshire and the rest of NE as a child. The Sox are practically part of the DNA code of every New Englander, and I suspect that will always be the case. I wish them all the best.

New York Yankees: Given that my last blog entry was a rather extensive discussion of this team and their wonderful and historic tradition, there’s probably no need to elaborate further. Except to say that as I write this in  early October 2009, the Yankees are once again favoured to appear in the World Series. If they make it, it would be their 40th American League pennant. No one else is even close. And they could repeat history. In 1923, the first year of historic old Yankee Stadium they won the World Series. 2009 marked the opening of their brand new state-of-the-art ballpark to replace it, also known as Yankee Stadium. And just as they did 86 years ago, they just might celebrate the opening of a new stadium with yet another World Series championship.  Aside from St. Louis in 2006, they’re the only franchise in modern baseball history to win the Series in their stadium’s first year. Will they accomplish the “double” later this fall? Time wil tell!

Tampa Bay Rays: This is a fascinating team, with a strange history. At least to me. For the first 10 years or so, the team was just awful. They were known back then as the “Devil Rays”. Terrible uniforms and logo. Easily the worst team on the field. Almost no fan support.  Totally off the radar in central Florida. No one cared. It didn’t help that the NFL team, the Buccanneers had many great years and even won a Super Bowl. And if that wasn’t enough, their hockey team, the Lightning, won the Stanley Cup in 2004. In a warm weather, tropical city, a sport from the cold frozen North had upstaged their major league baseball team. Wow!

But then everything changed. Like in most sports, if you’re terrible year after year, you get the pick of the best young players. If you do it right, eventually you become a much better team, maybe even a champion. In Tampa, it finally happened in 2008. They came out of nowhere to win the AL pennant and go to the World Series. While they couldn’t repeat the feat in 2009, they have a great young team and could be contenders for years to come.

Off the field, new owners have changed things there too. First off, they’re called the Rays now. The “devil” you say? Not any more! And along with the name change, a new team logo and uniforms that look great. They may have gone from the worst looking uniforms in baseball to one of the best. And people in the Tampa area seem to be noticing. Attendance at their games has improved, and so has their profile in the central Florida sports community.

There’s even talk of a new stadium to replace Tropicana Field, one of only 3 domed stadiums left in baseball. Oops – 2 left. Minnesota moves to their new outdoor stadium (Target Field), in April 2010. That will leave only Tampa and Toronto with domes – and also the only 2 still playing on artificial turf. Good luck Rays. Like many ball fans from outside Florida, I’ll be keeping an eye on you and wishing you every success.

Toronto Blue Jays: Yes, I choose to do this in alphabetical order – but maybe it’s only fitting that I save the team that represents my home area for last. Because to me, that’s exactly where they are in my pecking order. Last.  if you read one of my entries here a while back, then you know why I don’t cheer for the Blue Jays.  So I probably don’t need to add much more beyond that entry.

But let me add a small postscript to that earlier blog – especially since the team fired their general manager, J.P. Ricciardi last week, after 8 years on the job.  I remember shortly after Ricciardi came to Toronto, a friend told me somewhat tongue-in-cheek that maybe the best thing about him was that his name rhymed with “Bacardi”. As in the rum. To be fair, of course, he was new in town back then, and no one knew what to expect.

But now, some eight years later, to borrow a line from that classic Gershwin tune, I wonder if the Blue Jays ownership and others in the “braintrust” starting singing: “Ricciardi, Bacardi. Bacardi Ricciardi. Let’s call the whole thing off!”. Gee, I could hear Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong singing that as a duet, with the equally legendary Oscar Peterson tickling the ivories in the background.

In all seriousness, however, I think removing Ricciardi was the right move. He may be a very competent baseball man, and we all wish him the very best in future, but under his watch the Blue Jays have become a very dysfunctional organization.  As I noted in my blog entry about why I don’t cheer for the team, the Blue Jays have no purpose, no long-term vision for the future.

In many ways they remind me of Marlon Brando’s character (Terry Malloy) in the famous 1954 movie “On The Waterfront”. Remember the best known line from the film?:  “Coulda been a contendah! Coulda been somebody!” Well, dear reader, that’s the Toronto Blue Jays. To paraphrase that line, they “Coulda had class. Coulda have been a winnah…”

They also could have been just like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers and other “classic” teams that know how to do it right. That have a plan, purpose and a model of excellence  that goes from the owner and the CEO right down to the hot dog vendor and the usher at the ballpark. Toronto had that once, but for reasons I will never understand, they threw all that away.

But maybe there is hope. The team is searching not only for a new GM, but also a new CEO. Maybe the new regime will get rid of the dysfunctionality that surrounds the team. Go back to the “blueprint” that the team used for the first 20 to 25 years. Gee, maybe even return to their original classic Blue Jay logo and uniform design that more and more people seem to be wearing around Toronto and region. Hmm – maybe I ask too much.

So there you have it. A snapshot of the teams in the American League East division. Thanks for reading this, and as always I hope you enjoyed this. Time to sign off and I will be back with another blog entry soon.

Play ball!!

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