Hey Hockey Fans

We had a roomful of hockey fans Friday night. They were were there to have some fun and support a good cause.  As the auctioneer for the “live auction” portion of the program I expected to be seated near the front so that I could access the podium and the microphone with some ease.  You can image my suprise when I ended up at Scotty Morrison’s table with his guests for the weekend,

Boy oh boy, if I’d sold my seat I could have made some real cash.  Seated at the table were some NHL greats: Ron Stackhouse and his wife Sheila, Ron Ellis, Mark Napier, Scotty Morrison and Ray Scampanato and his wife Maureen. 

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Friday Night .. Another Gig

Showered, shaved and a splash of cologne and I’m all set.  I took it easy on the cologne … I don’t want people’s nasal passages to heal over.  

Tonight it’s the 2nd Annual Scotty Morrison Hockey Tournament banquet.  Once again I perform as the pseudo-auctioneer, and we have some delightful items for hockey fans.  Of course, being proud as punch of our boy Matt Duschene (with the Colorado Avalanche), we have a signed jersey from Matt.  We also have a signed Hayley Wickenheiser Olympic Canadian Team jersey … I think that will be a biggie.  For fans of the Canadiens a framed 100th Anniversery poster signed by Frank Mahovalich, Yvonne Cournoyer, Serge Savard and Larry Robinson.  How sweet is that.

Last year the tournament weekend raised over $18,000 for Community Care Haliburton County and I would expect it will do at least as good this year.  Scotty puts his heart and soul into this weekend and because he is so respected (and, can I say “loved”?) people rally around in support. 

Our marvellous chefs at Rhubarb are doing the catering so we know the meal will be mahvaloos!  It shouldn’t go terribly late but if it does I can always go straight to Canoe Fm for the morning show (www.canoefm.com).  Plan on lots of “back to back” music.

Gotta get on my horse.  I like to arrive early.  I want to beat the rush of retired hockey players and their physiotherapists.

Manufacture Time

I remember when we made the move to the Haliburton Highlands family, friends and business associates said, “how are you going to keep yourself busy up there”.   Time and again Haliburtonians chuckle at the concept of being out-in-the-sticks and just watching the maple syrup run. 

Virtually everyone I know up here has a schedule that would make your head spin.  They may have more than one job, they definitely have more than one volunteer commitment and they make every attempt to sandwich in social and cultural events. 

I was in a seminar yesterday that was conducted by a couple of  city folks and it was  pretty obvious they thought we had just wandered in from the woods.  Not that they were condescending or flagrantly insulting, it was in their tone and manner that you could sense that they thought we were borderline bumkins.  The body language of the group telegraphed to me that they had picked up on this.  The people in the room were hard working business owners, artists and entrepreneurs who, in my experience with them, are  as “with it” as you would meet in any community.

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Rush Hour

Actually, that’s a very apt title.  This is rush hour.  I’m dashing about getting organized to attend a workshop at Fleming College (sponsored by Haliburton County Development Corporation), trying to plan arrangements with building officer for the permit for renovations for the Incubator, sorting our a pr release on the subject and squeezing in time to order new flooring for the Incubator.  Pack in some radio program prep, a clay project on the go and assorted “honey would you please….” tasks and you can call it a day.  About five minutes ago the REAL rush hour of Eagle Lake took place.  I thought everyone in the “Big Smoke” and the “Golden Horseshoe” would appreciate this.

Will the rush hour never end???????

Obviously, this little group of happy wanderers haven’t heard the warning about staying off the ice.  Must be the more direct route to Tim Horton’s.

Have a great day everyone.  It may be the last sunny day for a while.

De-Grout Attack

I share this brief story as a semi-invalid.  It is as a result of a de-grout attack.  For those unfamiliar with this physical condition, it comes as a result of working in the first stages of a grouting. 

The Oxford dictionary refers to grouting (v) as “to provide or fill with grout” and grout (n) as “thin fluid mortar”.  Sounds quite straightforward doesn’t it.  What it doesn’t tell you is that before the thin fluid mortar can be applied the old grout has to be removed.

Old Grout.  One could liken the removal of old grout to the clearing of the Canadian Shield in order to make a highway.  Old grout has a very complex structure, similar to the layers of the earth’s crust which have been laid down over millions of years.  In a home that is 30 plus years grout has been applied and reapplied a number of times in order to ensure the slate floor is stable.  I can report that the chemical composition of grout has changed over the years.  Newer grout has a nasty polymer consistency whereas old grout has the properties of tempered steel plate.

New Technology.  There is a tool ‘specially designed for the removal of old grout.  It’s a sonic blaster thinkyjig.  I’ve always thought of a sonic blaster, thanks to Superman comics, as a tool of ultimate destruction.  Not so.  Faced with the kryptonite like material known as grout the unit labours to score and cut this unforgiving material.  Old grout puts up one hell of a battle.  Lesson:  allow lots of time for the sonic blaster to screech and scream its way through the job and be prepared to work hard.

The Position.  In order to de-grout effectively one must assume the correct position and posture.  Kneel, slouch and hold that position for six hours.  I can best describe it as the position that condemmed prisoners take just before they are beheaded.  I saw it in a movie … I think it was Lawrence of Arabia.  The correct position reminds me of a wonderful piece of art in the Haliburton Sculpture Forest

This is a picture I took for the Haliburton Sculpture Forest of "Curled Figures" by Susan Low Beer. The position on the right is similar to the de-grouting, whereas the figure on the left accurately depicts the post-spasm position.

Your Reward.  At the end of the work day you are now ready for the steps leading to the infusion of new grout.  It is at this point of the day that  your knees remind you that this was not a natural position.  With slow and deliberate effort you stand.  I did this with all the agility of a septuagenarian.  But the best was yet to come.  Spasm.  Marvellous word.  It coils off your tongue with the sound of  viper’s breath.  It attacks the same way.  Without warning, in a cold viscious manner.  Done properly a really good 8 (on the richter scale) spasm can return you to the orignal de-grouting position.

Fast Forward.  Today my body, through the mulititude of aches and stiffness, is trying to suggest we had some sort of victory yesterday.   It is trying to encourage me to sally forth on the field of battle, to infuse new grout and claim victory over this gnarly opponent.  Yeh, right.  Take it from me, this was not my finest hour – make that hours.

And to think it all started when my wife said, “I have this idea””.

They're Only Cookies

My friend and former workmate at JAN Kelley Marketing, Tim, reported that the agency’s largest client had sent the agency 8 dozen gourmet cookies…to say thanks for a job well done.

On the surface that appears to be a very nice gesture.  Well, it’s not.  It’s an amazing statement on the relationship between two groups.

Consider: the client’s office is in the U.S., someone had to stop and think about how well the job was done, the decision was made to recognize the successful completion, the gourmet cookies had to be purchased (not sure if the were smuggled across the border or bought in Canada) and last, but definitely not least, shipping had to be considered in light of the fact that smushed cookies are not as nice.  The team that works on this client’s business, headed by Tim, are smart, hardworking and wonderfully Canadian.  The fact that all members of the agency were able to sample the client’s appreciation made the cookies even sweeter.

In a day and age where openness, loyalty and genuinely friendly relationships between suppliers and clients is not the norm, this is a marvellous story.  It’s certainly not the cost and it’s not even about the cookies.  It’s about taking the time to express appreciation.

This little story that Tim shared made me think.  (Ouch)  How many opportunities do we miss over the course of a year to express appreciation.  I’m not talking about the obvious “thank you’s” but rather those creative touches that suprise the person on the other side, the touches that emphasize the depth of your appreciation.  A few I’m sure.

Without spending too much time considering the business implications behind this story, I think the story itself is a reward.  It’s simply about good people on both sides doing their very best work and letting each other know that they value one another and the product of their business relationship.

Thanks Tim for sharing the moment.

Tim, a leader in the Business Solutions team, loves family, photography, snowmobiling and good people.

The "Canadian" Way

Skiing has been excellent at Sir Sam’s Ski Resort and by all reports they’ve had the best year in a long time.  Great.  For them and for the County.

Neither Jane nor I downhill (it’s just my waistline that goes in that direction) and we usually dread the season.  Our humble shack is a stone’s throw from one of the ski lifts.  We find that it’s far busier in winter than it is in summer.  Now, that’s not so bad, but what has left us with a grimace over the past few years is the fact that a neighbour broadcasts music to the adjacent ski run.  People tell me that good rockin’ music adds to the pleasure of a great run.

We are about 1500 metres from the hill through the woods and, as luck would have it, we are  in perfect alignment to receive the the amplified bounce-back of all this great entertainment.  Most weekends you could not sit out and talk to each other without straining to cut through those sensational sixties hits.

Like most Canadians we are a reasonably patient pair.  We’ve frowned and grimaced for about five years now.  Finally it got the better of us and, because I didn’t know the neighbour, I thought I would craft a carefully phrased missive to express our complaint.  I was pleased with the tone and manner of the note but all the while I was rehearsing what might happen in response.  What if this was a biker family that loved to ski?  Or worse still, a party central location for the region’s vampire ski club?  You just can’t tell what’s going to happen or worse still, what might happen to you!

Last Sunday I trundled over to the “sound shack” and left my note.  On the return home I swore I could feel beady eyes watching my retreat.  I would wait for the response all the while hoping it would not end up with some form of vengeful retaliation.

Monday the phone rang.  It was a Toronto number.  I didn’t recognize it.  I answered it with the full expectation that it would be a gentleman or lady from India offering some new and wonderful bank product.  It wasn’t.  It was him.  Oh my gosh, HE was on the line talking to me about my note.  I steeled myself for some form of tongue lashing or a simple suggestion to mind my own business.  I was left gobsmacked.  This very polite and reasonable younger man (well, he sounded younger … and taller and muscular) said that he was so sorry that we were being impacted by the music and he wanted to try and ensure that we weren’t offended in the future.  He gave me his phone number and asked me to let him know should the music still be too loud.  He didn’t at all consider the entertainment needs of the skiiers should come before his neighbour’s comfort.

He was a diplomat in angels clothing as far as I was concerned.  I was left with my eye’s wide and my mouth open (my wife says that’s a normal condition).  After due consideration I realized that we had just settled a ticklish situation “the Canadian Way”.  Good manners on both sides and an appreciation of each other’s needs.  Jolly good show.

Yes.  He called on the weekend just to make sure everything was OK.  Charming chap.  We must share a bubbly pop some weekend – after ski season.

Sir Sam's on a beautiful sunny day, with the volume turned down!