Mind Boggling

              Last week, here in Toronto, someone stole an unattended dog walker’s van. That’s not the mind boggling part; it’s that there were sixteen dogs in the van at the time. They were all recovered later, none the worse for their ordeal.

 Interesting Exchange

              I overhead an interesting exchange on the subway.

              “How can Trump possibly explain why he’s taking advice from a white supremacist like Steve Bannon.”

              “I guess the same way Obama would explain why he took advice from a black racist like Al Sharpton.”

 Boards of Directors

            At lunch recently a friend asked how many boards I sat on during my career; I didn’t know offhand, but his question piqued my curiosity so I did some digging. Here is the list:

             Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario

            Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

            University of Waterloo Accounting Advisory Council

            Comprehensive Auditing Foundation

            University of PEI Foundation

            Junior Achievement of Canada

            Canadian Scottish Heritage Foundation

            Hockey Canada

            Canadian Federation of Amateur Baseball

            Ontario Club

            St. Joseph’s Hospital

            Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Council

            Minacs Worldwide Inc.

            Battery Technologies Inc.

            Balmur Limited

            Balmur Inc.

            Marson Productions Inc.

 My Working Life

            Digging out info on the boards started me musing about the companies I worked for. Here is that list, in chronological order and using the name of the organization at the time I worked there:

            Montreal Star (1 week)

            Morell Co-op (3 months)

            CPR (4 years)

            Radio station CFCO, Chatham, Ontario (3 days)

            TransCanadaPipeLines (7 years)

            H. R. Doane and Company (4 years)

            Clarkson Gordon (2 months)

            IBM (3 weeks)

            Coopers & Lybrand (7 years)

            R. D. Manning & Co. (9 months)

            Deloitte & Touche (15 years)

            John Labatt Ltd. (1 year)

            Balmur Ltd. (4 years)

            Ernst & Young (7 years)

             With the exception of the Montreal Star job, which my family forced me to quit (I was only 14 years old and supposed to be in Toronto on a holiday), all the other short stints were because I realized I’d made a mistake in taking the job in the first place; and living with mistakes was never one of my strengths.

             My first day of work (at the Toronto office of the Montreal Star) was July 9, 1953. My full-time association with Ernst & Young ended on October 31, 2003. So my working life spanned 50 years, 3 months and 22 days.

 Leon Russell

            Leon Russell died recently in Nashville. Most of you will never have heard of him, but his death is being mourned by the entire recording industry. Leon Russell (whose real name was Claude Russell Bridges) for decades was one of the most sought after session piano players in both LA and Nashville. No one seems to know exactly how many recordings he played on, but it was many, many hundreds. How good was he? Well, here is a list of just some of the artists whose records he played on: Jan and Dean; The Beach Boys; Doris Day; Elton John; Frank Sinatra; Ray Charles; Eric Clapton; The Byrds; Barbra Streisand; Bob Dylan; B.B. King; George Harrison; Herb Alpert; and, The Rolling Stones.

             Russell also recorded over 30 albums of his own.

 Ralph Branca

            Another death that sent me to musing occurred on Wednesday; former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca passed away at age 90. Although a fine pitcher, Branca was unfortunately best known for giving up the pennant-winning, three-run homer to the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson in the bottom of the ninth inning of the 1951 tie-breaking playoff game; a home run that became known as “the shot heard around the world.”

             On October 3, 1951, I was visiting Toronto (my school in rural PEI was closed for “potato-picking”) and was walking up Yonge St. between Wellesley and Bloor when I came upon a group of people watching a television set which was on display in the window of the Howard Radio store. I’d never seen television before so I joined them, just in time to see Thomson hit his home run. So, the first thing I ever saw on TV was the “shot heard around the world.”

             A resulting trivia question:  who was in the on-deck circle when Thomson hit the dinger? It was Giants rookie Willie Mays.

 Gary Bettman

            Those who know me well, or who’ve been regular readers of my articles, know that I don’t like Gary Bettman. I think he’s an arrogant, haughty, pompous, imperious, over-bearing, condescending, supercilious, elitist snob who, although being very good at lining the owners’ pockets, hasn’t been good for the game. But, this week he did something right.

             Players who are either injured or have been sent down are no longer eligible to be elected all-star captains by fan voting. This should help avoid last year’s farce whereby John Scott, a goon who was warming the bench in the AHL, was elected one of the captains. Forget that the players conspired to make him MVP; it still blighted the game. I deliberately said should avoid because it may not. Sports fans have a limitless capacity for screwing up all-star voting.

             Back to Bettman. Prime Time Sports host Bob McCown was the first I heard point this out, but Bettman bears an uncanny resemblance to the Sesame Street puppet The Count