Monday, August 26, 2013

ROCKIN' WITH SIR PAUL

     Right off the bat I will have to say that I have been a huge Beatles fan ever since The Fab Four first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964 to the screams of my older sisters and the bewilderment of my parents. Why would you scream at a TV screen? And for a rock band no less? Dad could understand screaming at the TV if the Canadiens scored or the Yankees won, again, but for four guys from Liverpool? Singing? C’mon. But he watched. Screams and all. Mom had lived through the Sinatramania period so she had a better understanding of what my sisters were going through.
     Like millions of other children growing up in the 60’s I was swept up in Beatlemania, too. For me it continues to this day. I have vivid recollections of the moments in my life that I associate with their greatest hits. From their first album “Please, Please Me”, in 1963, to their last album, “Let It Be” in 1970 I was hooked. Their songs were the soundtrack to so many people’s lives in the wild decade that was the 1960’s; including mine. We grew up with them. Sure, there we other bands and Elvis, of course, but to me it was always The Beatles.
    So you can imagine my excitement when our dear children presented Deb and me with the tickets to see one of the original Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney, live and in concert at Mosaic Stadium on August 14th. In Regina, Saskatchewan, if you can imagine? Like a zillion other people I had wanted to see these guys, even one of these guys, perform live but I had never made it happen.
    Deb and I pulled into the Victoria Square Mall parking lot around 5:30 pm on the 14th to catch one of the shuttle buses to the stadium. We thought we’d have a bit of time to grab a bite to eat and browse around the mall before catching the bus to the eight-o’clock show but to our amazement the line-up of people for the buses was from the old Zeller’s entrance door, on the east end of the mall, all the way back around to the other side of the Safeway store and this close to the Tim Horton’s on the west side of the mall parking lot. Yikes! We made the best of it though. There’s a certain camaraderie in like-minded people. We found some common ground with a few of the folks waiting in line with us, sharing our Beatles memories and, of course, as most Saskatchewan people do, we all know somebody who knows somebody, you know? and before long the wait was over and we were on our way.
     We got off the bus on Albert St. to another long line-up to get to the stadium gates but this time some friends of ours let us butt in line cutting the wait time in half. I told you that Saskatchewan people always know someone who knows someone. However, nothing was going to discourage us from enjoying this show. Not the line-ups and the line-ups and the line-ups or the people whining about the line-ups and the line-ups and the line-ups…. Or the fact that it started almost an hour late because there was a snafu in getting 44,000 people into Mosaic Stadium, or the inflated food and beverage prices, or the middle-aged-rhinestone-clad-bleached-blonde-reeking of cheap perfume and beer sitting right behind me all noisy and talking all night long and everything…It didn’t matter. We were there to enjoy an evening with Sir Paul. And we did.
     I am not going to tell you that we’ve seen hundreds of live shows but we’ve seen enough. Big name acts and also-rans, great shows and not-so-great shows. I admitted to you right away that I was a huge Beatles fan so my expectations were almost low but Sir Paul blew everyone away! Of course, there’ll be that tiny minority who wouldn’t be impressed by anything but they are so few in number I shouldn’t have even mentioned it. But, “ to each their own”, eh?
     Now, do me a favour. Close your eyes and think of a seventy-one-year-old-man. What do you see? I thought so. On August 14th, 2013 we watched a seventy-one-year-old Beatle rock the house down better than a man half his age or younger. Sir Paul McCartney performed for three hours straight and he and his band, with a cameo accompaniment from the City of Regina Pipe Band, played 39 songs all together and it was the most amazing live show I’ve ever seen.
  “Being in the audience actually looks like quite a lot of fun.”-Paul McCartney (1942-).

Sunday, August 11, 2013

DRIVE SAFE, PEOPLE!


            I’ve logged a lot of kilometers across this province of ours during the past three months and there are a few things that stand out to me regarding the experiences that I’ve had driving at this time of the year on Saskatchewan highways and byways.

            Not only is it summer-time but it’s also tourist season and, most importantly of all, it’s ROAD CONSTRUCTION season! Between the lateness of our spring/winter and the constant downpours of rain the road construction industry has been under even more stress to get the amount of work done that has been contracted to them in the limited time that this far too-short season allows.

            Saskatchewan has the largest municipal grid road network in Canada totaling 165,000 kilometers. In combination with the province’s highway network, the province boasts over 190,000 km of rural roads-the most roads per capita of any jurisdiction in the world. That’s an awful lot of road to look after so no wonder it has taken forever to get those last fifteen miles between Kipling and #9 highway finished! The same could be said for sections of Hwy #42, #47, #123, #35, # 155 and the list goes on and on.

            The bad news is that there are so many roads to do upkeep on and the good news is that there are so many roads to do upkeep on, if you know what I mean. I’d like to be able to take the fastest route possible on the best road conditions possible between destinations and that’s a pretty tall order, but we’re getting there. The amount of highway construction being done on the highways, grid roads and municipal streets in this province is another indication of Saskatchewan’s robust economy, (cue politicians to line up to take credit here).

            I can’t seem to locate any accurate statistics so I cannot say with any certainty that the number of inept drivers is higher in Saskatchewan than anywhere else but it sure seemed like it on some of the days, well…most…of the days that I’ve been on the road. In fact, Saskatchewan set a new record for the number of highway fatalities in 2012 and distracted driving surpassed drunk driving as the number one cause of death on Saskatchewan’s roads.

            Last year SGI recorded 173 fatalities up to December 17th, 2012 with 57 of those fatal collisions attributed to distracted driving and 54 to drinking and driving leaving 62 deaths to what? Selfish driving? Dangerous driving? Carelessness? Lack of skills? A little bit of all of the above perhaps? We really need to pay more attention to what we’re doing out there folks!

            Sidebar here: I was recently cruising down Saskatchewan Drive when I was distracted by an electronic billboard whose message was a read-out stating that distracted driving was now the #1 cause of road accidents and I damn near rear-ended the car in front of me while I was reading the sign telling me not to be distracted while driving! Sheesh! Take those stupid things down already before someone really gets hurt. It’s probably too late now anyway.

            So, mister smarty-pants, what gives you the right to preach to us about driving, you’re thinking? Here’s the thing-I got my driver’s license in 1974 and my first car in 1976. In that time I’ve had two speeding tickets, (both bogus calls by the way), but okay, they’re on my record and I have never had a claim in to SGI for any vehicle that I have owned in 37 years. (Touch wood that I haven’t jinxed myself now!). Nothing! Not a fender bender, not so much as a scratch in a  parking lot. Have I done stupid things while I’ve been behind the wheel? Yes I have. More than I’d like to admit to and I am thankful for the road angel that’s been looking after me all these years but most of my luck has been because I was trained as a defensive driver and I still apply those techniques while I’m driving and I will take some of the credit for going nearly 40 years accident free.

            On August 29th it will have been one year since the senseless death of Ashley Dawn Richards, the 18-year-old pregnant flag attendant who was killed by a speeding passing motorist while she was working in a road construction zone near Midale. In my recent time on the road I must have been passed a dozen times by drivers too selfish for their own time to obey the rules of the road in these construction zones. One small misstep and dozens of lives will be affected by one driver’s bad decision, so, please, people, let’s be careful, be aware of your surroundings and pay attention out there.

            “It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road.” ~ Author Unknown.

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