Canadian Tennis On The Map

With Brayden Schnur’s runner up finish at the New York Open this past week, Canada now has five men ranked in the top 110. This is a statistic never seen before to my knowledge. I had the pleasure of watching Brayden warm up at the Calgary Tennis Club a couple years back and play the Challenger Tour event here last fall. He has the physique, the strokes and the drive to win. However; I’m a bit concerned about the stress he puts on his front knee during his service motion. He’ll get to contend with the ace machine and ultimate victor of the New York Open, Reilly Opelka, throughout his playing career.

The two young guns Shapovalov and Auger-Alliasime have burst onto the scene demonstrating court prowess atypical of their youth. We’ll see how this pair contends with the rigors of the tour in the face of fully mature men.

Canadian men on the outside looking in are Peter Polansky and Filip Peliwo. Peter seems to have more fire burning than ever before and Filip may be struggling a bit on the mental side of the game as I witnessed in his match here in Calgary last fall.

The ladies are also making waves. I’m sensing some healthy rivalry building in their ranks given some competitive off court exchanges. There are a handful of ladies now in the mix to provide Eugenie with some company. Bianca Andreescu currently outranks Bouchard.

I’d be amiss not to reference the formally developed coaching development program over at Tennis Canada as an obvious resource in propelling Canada upward in the international tennis scene. 

Governments Giving To Business

Here we go again with government “investments” in business with a $100 million nest egg courtesy of you the taxpayer for new technologies (artificial intelligence) which apparently is such a sought after space that the private sector isn’t interested.

This is what’s happening. Very poor decisions were made regarding the construction of new office towers in the downtown core of Calgary leading to a 30 per cent vacancy. Obstructionist policy from governments in the oil and gas sector has impeded business from expanding into these new commercial spaces. Now, you the taxpayer are going to pay the price for “malinvestment”. That’s right. Governments have historically been poor investors because politicians don’t personally have any skin in the game. Politicians cater to special interest groups and are amenable to influence from effective lobbyists.

When was the last time your government presented you with a performance statement in lieu of a benefit to you arising from their investment decisions in the private sector? You guessed it – never. There is no accountability.

The unremarkable thing about “capitalism” is that people and businesses fail because of poor investment decisions. The backdrop of a failure potential has the effect of scrutinizing capital carefully for its most efficient deployment.

This decision made by bureaucrats with your money is not sound but there is desperation in the corridors of governments because pension funds with equity interests in Alberta office towers are clamouring.

Use ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em – Hospitality and Entertainment

I know, you’re saving up for a family vacation to see the The Great Barrier Reef down under and so all your fine dining dollars for the next while will be “order out” from KFC. The trouble with this is that good restaurants and entertainment venues are losing out on your disposable dollar and could simply shut down. We don’t care if bad ones shut down but the good establishments form part of our cultural landscape. You do want your home to be a place rich in cuisine, dance, theatre, and music.  These things bond us in the place where make our lives.

It’s bad enough that we have urban planners over developing office towers and outskirts. Worse yet, the automobile – as the ultimate entertainment center in and of itself as we spend an inordinate amount of time during the commute out to the ‘burbs.

Although the City of Calgary has made some poor development decisions in the context of facilitating cultural expression, there are still great places to go. Our city has the new Studio Bell which may be under utilized as a music centre in the context of a mandate. It has tasteful aesthetics and delectable acoustics. You must find cause to go down there. There’s been the upgrade to the King Eddy as well as the Telus Science center. Renovations /expansions will be starting on the Arts Commons as further evidence of arts support from governments, donors, patrons and sponsors. Millenium Park has been great for the kids and a new place called “Cobbs Adventure Park” is fairly new. 

My appeal to bars and restaurants is to find some reason for being other than the dining experience in order to keep people interested. Some empathy obviously goes out to the patron who has been hit by job loss, high taxes, government intransigence toward industry, and tight finances due to high mortgage balances. Sustainability in hospitality is going to require flexibility from governments on excise taxes and labor regulation in order to keep our communities vibrant.     

Obama At The Grammys

I’ll reference the unspoken and unpopular because it’s what I do here sometimes on my own forum. Wives of ex-politicians, ex-politicians, and politicians have no business on the stage of the Grammy’s unless they’ve won a Grammy for their contributions to music. Music is an escape from the tedium of political drama and hence the preeminent event should not become theatre for those who possess a larger agenda outside of the realm of music. It’s one more reminder of why I’ve cut my cable chord.

There would have been individuals in the audience with a life-long commitment to their passion for music who had never gained a whiff of that stage having been overlooked by The Recording Academy despite much success and hard work toward their craft. Society has unfortunately been overrun by elitists with special entry back stage passes who need their ego stroked at every turn. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Michelle Obama. On the contrary, I find her to be articulate and warm with generosity in her heart. This was simply not her place.    

Costas Carillo Cosell

I’ve put these three C’s together because alliteration wasn’t foreign to any of these three. My biggest miss for cancelling cable has been the celebration of athletic feats through language. There was Bob Costas’ deployment of vocabulary atypical of the arena but succulent to the scholastic. Mary Carillo triumphed with unrehearsed back seat colour laden with one- liners. Howard Cosell’s deliberately slurred maligned characterizations injected fodder for the fortunate fans of Wide World of Sports.

Costas is in the news because of an opinion in the face of the sports machine. He’ll retire after a good run and his legacy will be steeped in his affinity for the formidable phrase fitting to the forum (okay, I can do alliteration too).

I have no idea what happened to Mary but her charisma simply shone through the TV.

Although young as an admirer during the Cosell years, I remember Cosell as an obvious stalwart in and industry critical to extracting entertainment value from sport. There were the Muhammad Ali interviews and the Monday Night Football mantras such as “he could go all the way”. As a boy, it became evident that there was eloquence in sport beyond finesse on the field. In spite of having snipped the cable, my sense is that the market and mystique of midfield monologue has now left the broadcast booth. Was Cosell’s opinion that ex-athletes were not best equipped for the microphone correct? I suspect yes with exceptions.   ���F�z�Q4 �h

Top Ten Symptoms of Polar Vortex Cabin Fever

  1. You’ve been beaten at Risk so often by your adolescent that your getting a complex
  2. You’re going broke after making so many auto deposits over at pokerstars
  3. Your privates are getting chaffed from…..
  4. Your heating company has called looking for an advance payment
  5. Your spouse has cleaned the house
  6. Your once docile canine has eaten the laundry room door
  7. The little one has actually produced melody on her toy piano
  8. You’ve baked bread
  9. You’ve finally put to work that grocery delivery app
  10. Dum te de dum…..you’ve unboxed and glared intently at your elliptical trainer  

Browns Social House

What I like about Browns Social House: It’s friendly and has high padded bar stools with foot rests. It has properly controlled climate. Décor not overly imposed by big screens. Happy hour. Four dollar draught. Quick service. Reasonable prices. Did I say that? Square bar accommodating for socializing. You’re not there just for the booze, right?

Distracted Driving At Centre of Humboldt Bus Crash

While much focus has been on the driver of the Humboldt bus crash, it’s become evident that an insidious behavioural pattern of distraction while at the wheel is underlying the cause. Although it was a flapping tarp and not a cell phone, every single driver who owns a smart phone and is compelled to jump to its chime indicating the latest facebook notification should take heed. Speaking to passengers is distracting, changing CDs is distracting, and soothing crying babies is distracting. Some minds may be better equipped to deal with distractions than others but should you really be assigning yourself the confidence to multi-task while at the wheel when one misstep can lead to a life-long occupation of guilt. 

It’s certainly easy to judge this man responsible for the deaths of these Humboldt teens but hypocrisy given one’s own behaviour is peculiar.

In addition to the driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, law enforcement and the regulatory framework of the transportation industry must also answer to this event. We put doctors in this country through seven years of training and a driver of a transport truck through three weeks, if that. Mr. Sidhu  may have lacked training in how to properly secure a load. Our justice system is structured in such a way that police tend not to put resources where they believe that the probability of conviction is low. I postulate that in the minds of law enforcement, the process of obtaining the necessary evidence to charge a suspected distracted driver is not worth the application of resources and hence this matter is at large with you and I witnessing distracted drivers in metropolitan centres daily.

If the financial penalties were materially strong and the justice system had the practical powers to enforce, we could actually make headway toward significantly reducing this problem.         

Who Was Allan James McKinnon

He was one of the very nicest people that I’ve ever come to know and he was my boss for a brief period of time around 2003. He practiced public accounting and the dynamic between the two of us was mutual respect. Upon helping him through one tax season, I pursued another opportunity which helped paved the way to establishing my own practice. 

Al should have been winding up his practice right around the time I had come on board. However; it’s clear that his clients and the game of golf were preeminent interests which weren’t going to go away. We had lost touch between my tenure and his passing but I can only imagine that he had a tremendous home life with loving people around him. Evidence of his high intellect is referenced from his obituary listing his university graduation at the age of 19 from our common alma mater, the U of A.

Upon reflecting this morning of one particular collaborative effort on a file with Al, I just had to draft a blog post in remembrance of him. He was one of many fine folk instrumental in assisting me with the street level application of tax accounting.  Al was one of those people who knew exactly how to treat people respectfully. He was a soft spoken big man who carried clout through his unspoken word.