Saturday Morning Random Thoughts…by Chuck Duboff

@Chuck Duboff

  • New York Yankees Spring Training Record:  24-9; watching the Bombers spring training games, it is so refreshing to finally see young talent, as opposed to the days of signing “star players” with one or two good seasons left.  They may not make the playoffs this season, but look out for my Yankees, they will be knocking on the door real soon!!
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A big part of the Yankees youth movement:  1B, Greg Bird.

  • Great seeing the effort by the Jets over this past few weeks; even though they are out of the playoffs, the players are realizing how very good this team is and are showing that they have what it takes to be a playoff team.
  • That being said…had we had, even average goaltending this season, the Jets would be in the playoffs.  Right now we sit at 29th in goaltending, imagine where we’d be if we were even at 15th?  Five more wins, eight more wins?  Who knows, but Chevy’s goal this summer has to be to sign a Ben Bishop, Marc-Andre Fleury type goalie!!
  • Top priority this offseason…Jacob Trouba signed to a monster contract!!

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    Chevy needs to get Trouba signed to a monster deal this summer!!

  • How’s all that winning going Mr. President?
  • Guess what you lying, , hypocrite…the noose is tightening and all your lies about Russia will be exposed and you will be sent to prison for TREASON!!
  • Let’s hope this early spring is just that…SPRING!!!
  • Thrilled that I have the cabin in Falcon booked now for six days in May…peacefulness personified!!
  • I can’t thank the Winnipeg Goldeyes enough for giving Laine and Ben and I a tour of the Goldeyes locker room and dugout.  Such a thrill for all three of us…the kids are such huge Goldeyes fans…they couldn’t stop talking about seeing Reggie Abercrombie and Kevin McGovern’s lockers!!  Andrew and Steve….you guys rock!17457764_10154869183725783_4097326211823024607_n
  • Was talking with my travel agent already about next winter’s trip to Puerto Vallarta!!!
  • If you are not watching Schitt’s Creek on CBC, you are missing the funniest show on television; the cast and the writing is unbelievable:  Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy, Annie Murphy, Chris Elliot…I am quite literally in tears laughing watching that show!!  Great to see CBC support this show and watch it become a mega hit, here in Canada and now into the States.Schitts
  • Two more days and it’s PLAY BALL!!!
  • My very good friend, my brother from another mother, Geoff…made such a profound, yet simple comment a couple of Sunday’s ago…it’s something I really want to write about!!  When I talked about the joy and pleasure I had in writing about and receiving messages about the All Time Goldeyes Team…Geoff said: “that’s what it’s all about Chuck”…and it hit me like a brick!!  That truly is what life is about…finding that what gives us joy and savouring those moments!!  I love writing and am equally passionate about baseball…getting to put my music on, make coffee and write about baseball for 3 1/2 hours…that truly is what it’s all about.  Like Geoff and I said…it’s not going to be a thunderbolt moment that tells us about what life is about…but rather it’s living in those moments and being aware of how fortunate we are.  Thank you Geoff…
  • Friendships truly are a blessing!!
  • It has been Pearl Jam 24/ 7 for about three months…this Neil Young & Pearl Jam version of Rockin in the Free World is just unreal; enjoy:  (FYI…watching it on the 65″ 4K big screen with surround sound…it’s like you’re at the freakin concert!!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvtdbfI1sqQ

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You can’t make this stuff up…American spring break students, partying in Cancun, Mexico, chant: “Build the Wall”

© Chuck Duboff

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Take a few minutes to process this: American students, enjoying the beauty, great weather and beaches of Cancun, Mexico, begin chanting: “Build the Wall.”  No, seriously; these half-wits, perhaps buzzed on too much Tequila, are a metaphor for the insanity overtaking the populace of the United States.  It is no wonder that when traveling the world, anywhere but the United States, even the mention of that country draws outright anger for what was once such a great country.

What Donald Trump (read: Steve Bannon) has unleashed upon the world, is beyond troubling.  Racism, hatred, disrespect, lying, lying and more lying, has given permission for seemingly all Americans to bring out their most vile behaviour.  When the President of the United States is spewing lies on a regular basis, when anti-semitism is tolerated, when hatred of Muslims and Jews and Mexicans and Gays is cheered, when the President proudly talks about “pussy grabbing”, when Russian operatives control the goings on in Washington…

It is no wonder that the youth of America goes down to the beaches of Mexico and taunts their hosts with chants of “Build the Wall.”  Perhaps next year they will celebrate Spring Break in Fargo, North Dakota.

This is Donald Trump’s America…

MAKE AMERICA HATE AGAIN!! 

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Saturday Morning Random Thoughts; by Chuck Duboff

VACATION TRAVEL BEST OF THE MIDWEST

“Is this heaven, no it’s Iowa.”  Field of Dreams.

© Chuck Duboff

  • It’s March, the month in which Manitobans can experience all four seasons in one day!!!
  • Big shout out to the Winnipeg Jets for the support they gave to Tyler Myers and his family during a very difficult time.  If you haven’t seen this video, take a few minutes…it’s a reminder of what is important in life:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKAzXhxc1zk
  • Moments of clarity are fleeting; yesterday afternoon and evening provided me with a peacefulness and understanding rarely felt; it was tangible and quite a new feeling.  Grateful for those moments.
  • Though the Jets won’t make the playoffs this season, wins at any time of the year are part of the growth process…I would like to see Roslavic and Conner called up for the balance of the season in order to get a feel for hockey at the next level.Ros
  • So Brian Pallister takes two month winter holidays to Costa Rica; took a 20% pay increase last year…and now he is gutting and slashing every program in Manitoba. Hope everybody is enjoying the PST going down from 8% to 7%!!!  NOT!!
  • What a very special night it was on Thursday evening watching the Jets game with Laine and Ben; non stop commentary, hi jinks, cuddling and just having a great time!!  #grateful.

    Ben, Laine and I playing

    This picture was from the spring the Jets came back to Wpg; 6 years ago and still having fun together!!

  • Watching the World Baseball Classic, it sure makes you appreciate the talent of the players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuala and Puerto Rico; those lineups are power laden…would be interesting to see what would happen if the Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers of the USA decided to compete.  I think it would take the tournament to another level!!
  • Celebrating mom’s 92nd birthday tomorrow…her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will all be here!!
    family
  • This brief moment of clarity, in a life so filled with angst and confusion, has given an incredible insight into so much of what I have to be grateful for; though always aware of the good fortune I have in life…there is a real sense today of what all that means.
  • In all my years of being a New York Yankees fan, I have never seen them have a good spring training…I would attribute that to George Steinbrenner and his boys signing star players in their 30’s who take their time to get ready for the season and the Yankees ending up with a poor spring training record.  I looked at the exhibition game standing yesterday, and low and behold there are the Yankees with the best record.  With so many young kids in the lineup trying to prove themselves: Sanchez, Byrd, Judge, etc, suddenly the Yankees are winning games and shining a light on a bright future.  If the Yankees had more depth at starting pitching, they might compete this upcoming season!!
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  • Once again, I love the team that Goldeyes skipper Rick Forney is putting together; I’ve mentioned this a few times, but with each season, it seems like Rick is signing higher calibre players.  I’m sure his connections to organizations have increased dramatically over the years and he is able to sign the type of player that he is looking for…training camp can’t start soon enough!!
  • Doofus head meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel; she with a PHD in Physics, he just finishing reading Dick and Jane; the misogynistic, serial liar makes more unfounded claims about wiretapping, but ups it one more by claiming that Merkel was also wiretapped; she looks at the media with a “who the fuck is this bozo?” kinda look:
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  • There is always one benefit to the Jets not making the playoffs; I budget money all season for possible playoff tickets.  Once it became clear that playoffs were not in the picture for this spring…I went ahead and booked “my cabin” in Falcon lake for five days in May…filled with such gratitude that I am in a position to take another holiday this spring:

Saturday morning random thoughts; by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

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There’s still a chance boys…17 more games!!  Just win baby, just win.

  • So you’re saying there’s still a chance; last night’s Jets game gave us a brief glimpse into what the Jets future looks like.  Sure we may not may the playoffs this year…but having talented players like Scheif, Troubs, Morrisey, Laine, Ehlers, Lowrey, Copp and Dano…the future is bright.  As for Hellybucyk…last night was his fourth shutout of the season…the skill is there…he is still learning the mental part of the game…the future is so bright!!
  • Thank you Puerto Vallarta; what a magnificent two weeks under clear blue skies, hot sunshine, spectacular mountains, beaches and the Pacific Ocean…see you next winter.
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  • Great stopping in to see Goldeyes GM Andrew Collier and Broadcaster/media guru Steve Schuster.  Got caught up on some of the new players we’ve signed…and brought Andrew, Steve and Goldeyes skipper, Rick Forney,  championship Coheba cigars!!  Baseball is in the air.
  • The noose is tightening on Herr Trump…and as it does, he gets more and more unhinged.  I said it during the election…Russia was behind the Trump tainted win…and it’s all coming to fruition.  Trump is now starting to blame Obama for all the coverups and Russia mess…sad Donald, very sad.
  • Making America Hate Again”        North Carolina man arrested for threatening, knocking over gay couple as he said “you live in Trump Country now.”
  • Watch this video and see further evidence of Trump’s success in Making America Hate again: 
  • http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2017/02/18/rise-in-anti-semitism-in-us-tuchman-ac360.cnn

  • Jacob Trouba is becoming the #1 defence man we all expected he would evolve into…now, hopefully, Jets can lock him up long term like they did his buddy Mark Scheiffle.
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  • So many great friends down in Puerto Vallarta; must say, it was probably the most difficult time saying goodbye to everybody…They truly are wonderful people, hard working, friendly, kind and caring (Didn’t see any of the “bad ones” Donald.)
    jose
  • So Brian Pallister spends two months down in Costa Rica; comes home and immediately announces his slash and burn campaign!!  All the while accepting a 20% salary increase last year…after all somebody has to pay for his home in Costa Rica.
  • Warning to my friends in the teaching profession, especially the young ones who have just started their careers.  I experienced the same thing in the early 1980’s under the Filmon government; Filmon Fridays came in and  civil servants had to take an unpaid day off a month.  Then teacher layoffs came; I was a young teacher, with a young family…and 35 teachers were cut from the school division I was in.  Lost my job.  Be ware…the Education system is on Pallister’s hit list.
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  • Excited to take our Laine to the Jets game tonight; so blessed that I’m in a position to afford so many tix and have two wonderful grandchildren who are huge Jets fans.  Pretty sweet.
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  • There is a 100% correlation between getting older and the degree to which I can not tolerate winter.
  • Two years in a row I’ve had blogs I’ve written about Puerto Vallarta picked up by PV online websites and official twitter accounts.  Pretty great feeling.
  • The Sierra Madre Mountains, the Pacific Ocean, the beautiful beaches, the hot sunshine…all inspire great workouts and clarity in writing.

Our American friends…many good people having their images tarnished…by Chuck Duboff

 

© Chuck Duboff

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My friend, Big Mike, from Toledo, Ohio

These are very tumultuous times we are living in.  The United States has undergone  a transformation of epic proportions.  To state that the changes have been seismic in nature would, I suggest, be an understatement.  The election of Donald J. Trump has resulted in societal, political and geopolitical  shifts of gargantuan magnitude.  Cultural groups are being banned from the States, major media outlets are being shut out of news conferences and countries around the world are on standby, waiting for the next outburst from the American president.

All the while, the citizens of the United States are all being painted with the same brush, inundated with the same question; “how could you possibly elect that man?”  “what is wrong with Americans, do you realize your image around the world right now?”

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My wonderful friends, Spencer and Megan, from Washington, DC

I came down to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, very intrigued to see what the reaction to the American tourists would be.  I noticed that the Americans were very subdued and mello.  I made a conscious effort to talk with our neighbours to the south.

I got to know Americans from Seattle, Minnesota, Washington D.C, Louisiana and Toledo, Ohio.  I can state categorically that each and everyone of these people were friendly and for the most part very embarrassed with what is happening in the States.  Though a few did  express tepid support for their president, this was countered by many expressions of disbelief as to what is happening in their country.  An over riding comment that I have heard is: “we didn’t have much choice, something had to change in our country.”

I came down to Mexico for a holiday, for two weeks of non-political conversations; for the most part I have stayed true to this…however, I have found it so very interesting talking with friends from the United States; whether from the deep south of Louisiana or just to the south of Winnipeg in Minnesota, remember these are all good people, friendly and just wanting better for their country.

I hope for their sake that things calm down in the United States and all people are treated with the kindness and respect they deserve.

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My friend Bob, a Vietnam War Vet, from Minnesota

 

From the beaches of Puerto Vallarta; Friday afternoon random thoughts…by Chuck Duboff

©Chuck Duboff

  • It’s a hit the pool every ten minutes kinda hot today…lots of water today.
  • Watched Manchester by the Sea…though a slow pace, Casey Affleck was tremendous.
  • Amazing watching how very hard the staff in this resort works; never see anybody sluffing off.
    necklaces
  • It really is great getting to know so many people from all around the world…my friend Jose Martinez and his son Hector are pretty awesome guys to hang out with.
    jose
  • Jets fans can’t concern themselves with what all the other teams are doing during the one week break; it’s out of their hands now…and when they get back to playing, whatever there situation is…they just gotta Win Baby!!!
  • Those long runs in the morn on the sand are so fantastic…the legs are heart are working so hard; and when the run finishes it is an absolutely euphoric feeling.  That’s followed with a great workout in the gym…this environment is so inspiring for workouts and writing.
  • More often than not, reality checks are needed…if not, things go out of kilter really quickly.
  • One of the many good things to go home to is baseball; going to start setting up my Fantasy Teams, ordering MLB TV and writing my Winnipeg Goldeyes and MLB baseball blogs.
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  • Have tried staying away from politics these past two weeks…the moment Herr Trumps name is mentioned…I either walk away or try and change the subject.
  • So very cool that yesterday’s blog got recognized by the Puerto Vallarta twitter account and tourism bureau…that’s two years in a row.
  • Had a major reality check an hour ago…glad I paid attention before it became out of hand.
  • It’s been fun having different bands selected each day for listening by the pool; it was Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Neil Young today…pretty, pretty coolcropped-img_90211.jpg
  • Speaking of pretty, pretty cool..great seeing Curb Your Enthusiasm doing at least one more season…Larry David is priceless.
  • Puerto Vallarta…muchos gracias; though I still have four more full days after today, it’s been great, yet again.
  • Sometimes its just so very hard understanding people…just better to let go and not let it upset you.
  • My favourite view down here in PV; the Sierra Madre mountains just take my breath away.
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Live from the beaches of Puerto Vallarta; Jose and his son Hector; and an Oilers fan and Jets fan share some good times…by Chuck Duboff

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Hector,Chuck and Jose  (Goldeyes fans reading this…doesn’t he look like Luis Alen?)

The white hot sandy beaches are packed with tourists from all over the world; Canada, US, England…enjoying the hot sun and beautiful  beaches!!  Everybody wants to bring souvenirs home for family, friends, lovers and….shops are visited all along the strip…you can get your Mexican trinket, shirt, chess set, tequila and cigars…everybody will deal with you, trying to coax out the most they can.

Then you it the spectacular beach and you see so very many Mexicans selling their wares on the beach: mugs, jewelry, blankets, beads and so much more.

This is where you will find Jose and his son Hector.  Jose has been selling his jewelry and cigars and blankets for more than twenty five years.  He loves his tourists…doesn’t matter where they are from…Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto, U.S, England..as long as they have dollars to spend, he is a happy man.  He’s a very happy man during the tourist season…the tourists, especially Canadians, can’t get enough of his jewelry, cigars and blankets.  Business is great during the tourist season…under the hot sun, Jose and his son Hector deal with tourists, anxious to bring home authentic Mexican souvenirs.  Jose is now training his son Hector the business:  “you deal with him now, he has to learn the business” Jose shared these words with me when I was dealing with Hector to get may annual box of cigars.

Early this morning I enjoyed just a fabulous workout; first I hit the beach, where I did a fabulous 47 minute run…the Sierra Madre mountains were right in front of me, inspiring a great run; that was followed by a great workout in the gym here at Canto del Sol resort.

To put a capper on a great morning…I followed my mom’s instructions and had a few drinks for her; muchos Tequila..which ended up with my having many Tequila with an Edmonton OIlers fan..how cool was that…seriously…Dean from Edmonton…and we were both enjoying our Tequila and pining over McDavid and Laine…what a great time we had.

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A Jets fan and am Oilers fan…many Tequila and saying great things about Conner McDavid and Patrik Laine….

What an awesome day here in Puerto Vallarta…thank you for the amazing sunshine, beaches and hot temps Puerto Vallarta.

Monday afternoon random thoughts…live from Puerto Vallarta; by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

  • Just a beautiful, hot, sunny day here in Puerto Vallarta.
  • Meeting so many awesome people from right across Canada and the United States.
  • Interesting chatting with Americans…several “we are so embarrassed” to “finally we have a President who is doing something for our country.”  I try to be careful in what I say.
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Mike, from Toledo, Ohio…good friends with former Bomber QB, Chuck Ealey

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Mi amigo, Jose Hernandez…been selling his wares on this beach for 25 years…under a very hot sun.

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Vietnam Vet, Bob, from Minnesota…spends three months at the resort.

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Spencer and Megan…from Washington D.C…great friends…lots of fun together.

  • So many Canadians here…lots o f Winnipegers gathered to watch both Jets games this weekend; the lounge has a big screen TV and they put the games on for us…so much fun,
  • Other than some wi-fi which isn’t the greatest, this resort is fantastic…couldn’t ask for much better!!
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  • Apple music is so awesome…put together an awesome “ultimate hippie playlist” yesterday…listening to the music on my Bose wireless headphones is just amazing!!
  • Feels like I’ve been here forever…and still 8 more days to go.
  • So wonderful talking to Laine and Ben this morn…excited to tell me about their baseball and soccer; so proud of them.
  • Patrik Laine first star of the week in the NHL; Jets so lucky to get the second pick in the draft!!  A franchise changing player.
  • That’s it for today…doesn’t get much better; hasta la vista.

Aura & Ancient Steps…new poetry by Geoff Brookes

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© Geoff Brookes

Aura

Ambling bobs with short right steps,

Courtney’s weight rests on her left,

Lagging, like a spirit’s quest,

Her sister, brother, more adept.

Her father traces close beside. 

Eyes follow source of restful sound,

Where waters over boulders slide.

Upstream, boats rest over ground.

The kayaks’ colours fade in glare,

Casting light, absorbing heat,

Their aura beckons like a dare,

Challenging to hero’s feat.

Omega dog to water leaps,

Splashing in the shallow shade.

Alpha fiddles with the keys.

In border sand, the vessels laid.

Courtney smiles at sister’s chants – 

Cheerful rhymes of never-land.

Forgetful of her fearful chance,

Strides gunwhale, with her father’s hand.

He slips the kayak, floating now, 

And angles hips along the stern.

Mother smiles and shoves the prow.

Drifting back, he pauses, turns,

And waits, while swimmers navigate

This place where lake and creek repose.

Mom launches next while “Hils” creates

A commentary Courtney knows.

To peals of laughter, Sean partakes

With paddling pet pulled into boat.

He hugs, retreats, as canine shakes.

He pulls the oar – already soaked.

The trio work to gather pace

Against the flow. Courtney yells 

“We’re beating you!”, her gleeful face

A conqueror’s, with joy unveiled.

They set a course for central isle,

With landing rock for boats and crew.

The loons appear, all still awhile –

Silently, their souls renew.

Chastened, scouting isle from lee,

Searching for the landing stone,

Guiding from their memories – 

Patterned legends they have known.

Securing kayak as he can, 

Dad rests it close beside the rock.

Courtney struggles there to stand .

The other boats approach to dock.

Soon all begin again on foot,

Their journey now a shorter trek.

They pick their way through fallen wood.

Sean finds himself a walking stick.

Their destination manifests

In desolated cabin frame.

Opening the broken chests,

They search for clues, or just a name.

And in the bedroom, mirror found,

Old and speckled like a tree.

Courtney gazes, turns around,

Glimpses her eternity.

As they travel back to shore,

Yawns and speeches floating free,

Courtney’s mirror is no more.

Her aura now is plain to see.

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© Geoff Brookes

Ancient steps  

Welcome walk down ancient steps

Crossing craggy cliffs, 

Visit paths so lightly tread,

Descendants of the hills.

Stones underfoot, and formed to walls,

Artfully adjoined,

Spaces small, but still permit

The greenery to flow.

Unbroken for the ages past,

But suddenly a fall –

The path truncated, walls collapsed, 

Narrow steps withal.

Proceeding by the rubble round,

Resuming settled ways,

Chaos charging wonderment – 

The order that remains.

Setting aside politics for a few minutes; enjoy the spirit of Cuba in pix…by Chuck Duboff.

© Chuck Duboff

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On of my favourite pictures from Cuba; I took school supplies to hand out to the kids…I was fortunate, in that I was allowed to enter this school and talk with the students…what a great experience that was.

The response to my last blog on the dual personality of Cuba was astounding; the number of views and interesting commentary spoke to the unique place Cuba holds throughout the world.  I really lost count of how many times I visited Cuba; I am certain it was more than ten…throughout those visits, I attempted to capture, what I believe was, the essence of what makes Cuba such a fascinating country.  Enjoy these pix…I believe they present both sides of the ongoing debate about reality of Cuba.  One thing is for certain…the Cuban people are warm and caring and are mere pawns in the hands of the Cuban government.


There are pictures and posters of Che Guevera through out the country, however, there were never any pictures of Fidel Castro.  That tank is from the days of the Cuban Revolution, while the car in the top right pic is just one of the classic cars you see on all the streets.


Amazing architecture everywhere you go.


Ernest Hemmingway’s bar…that he spent a lot of his days at.  I was thrilled when I got to see his apartment and his original manuscript for Old Man and the Sea. (trying to track that picture down.)

Cigar makers, baseball, artists, musicians, children playing and buggy rides…all a staple of Cuban life.


The Cuban people are so very warm, friendly and kind…the beaches…second to none.

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…and every where you go…Baseball, the life blood of Cuba.

Cuba: A tale of two countries: paradise & oppression; by Chuck Duboff

“Chuck quiet, secret police everywhere.”  I remember those words like they were five minutes ago.

I had visited Cuba many, many times as a tourist.  I was taken in by the beauty, the culture, the wonderful people.  It seemed idyllic through the eyes of a traveler.  A health care system second to none, free education right through University, beautiful beaches, hot sun…what could be wrong with this island paradise?  And so I returned, time after time after time.  This led to a relationship with a wonderful Cuban women, whom I met on one of my visits.  Yosadania is tattooed on my left arm…as a reminder of the life that the Cuban people are “forced to live”…we had a wonderful relationship, but given the overbearing government, Yosdania was not free to come back home to Canada with me.

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I decided that I wanted to go down to Cuba and live the life that “the people” did.  Yosdania was thrilled that I would be coming down and living with her for a few weeks; I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but was eagerly looking forward to the adventure.

Little did I know what I was in for, the reality of Cuba was about to dramatically change.

It’s difficult to put into words the level of government control over the people.  The first day I was living in Havana with my friend, we went for a walk.  Everywhere we went, there were soldiers with machine guns; when I said something to Yosdania about this, she said to me: “Chuck quiet, secret police everywhere.”  So, we walked the beautiful beaches and parks, rather quietly.  I wasn’t used to not saying what I was thinking.  Yosdania told me that there were spies in every little six block radius…people who would report to the government anybody who spoke out against the country.  Even in the apartment we lived in, we were very careful as to what we said.  I learned a lesson one evening, when all the lights and electricity went out.  I was told this was common (however this did not occur in the resorts in which the tourists stayed).  This was the governments way of maintaining control and power over the people.  Wanting to get in touch with my family back home in Winnipeg, I was hoping to find a computer.  I was allowed to go into a tourist hotel and rent a computer for a few minutes…however, Yosdania was not allowed to join me.  In fact, the citizens of Cuba at that time had little opportunity to use the internet and had a very limited understanding of the rest of the world.  In the hotel, I was able to rent a computer for a while in an air conditioned room…amenities which the people were not able to access.

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46th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution; the only billboards you see in Cuba.

One morning we decided to go for a walk to get some food.  However, it’s nothing like we have here in Canada.  Families are given little notebooks each month which indicate their food allotment; 1 bag of rice a certain amount of bread, chicken, etc.  Literally limits to the bland food which was available to the people.  Now remember, if you are a tourist, you are treated like royalty…and your Canadian dollars go a very long way to helping the government maintain control.

However, if you are a Cuban citizen, life is much different than the all-inclusive resorts Canadians fly to each winter.  Your freedoms are limited, your voice muted, your opportunities minimal…an individual working as a server in restaurant would be making the same amount of money as a doctor.

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Then again, Cuba is noted around the world for one of the best health care systems; additionally, the education system is free right through university.  The weather is beautiful, the beaches magnificent, and there is baseball every where you go.

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Though he was a revolutionary, I sat for hours to have this picture of myself and Che drawn.

It’s not an easy life.  Many Cubans have died trying to escape the oppression, while others made it safely to Little Havana in Florida.

Fidel Castro has died…what awaits the people of Cuba?

No paper today…here’s some reading with Sunday morning random thoughts..by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

  • Joel Armia has been an incredible revelation for the Jets and maybe the best player in that blockbuster trade with Buffalo.

    HKN Avalanche Jets 20160118

    Joel Armia

  • I’m Canadian and not personally invested in the American election, but the political junkie in me can barely stomach this ugly election anymore.
  • Day 1 out of 109…feels great and highly motivated.
  • I said at the start of the World Series that I’m 60/40 pulling for Cleveland…I’ve always seen Cleveland as the Winnipeg of the United States…from not winning championships to always having jokes made about them.  Well, the Cavaliers won this season, they’ve got the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame there…now it’s time for the Cleveland baseball team to join in the fun!!  We’ve got a Winnipeg Goldeyes Championship, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights….time for the Bombers or Jets to chip in.
  • It’s been a very long time for both the Cubbies and the Indians…both can’t win:cleveland-world-series
  • So very, very, very cool watching Laine at a soccer clinic yesterday morning led by Desiree Scott of Canada’s National Women’s team.  Scott herself had been a Kidsport participant and it’s great to see her giving back to the community.

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    Our big girl Laine and Winnipeger and Canadian National Soccer team player, Desiree Scott

  • To paraphrase the ol’ professor, Mickey Steen…the Bombers stunk the joint out yesterday.  Such a crucial game and they were just terrible.
  • Some people just aren’t worth the time and effort.
  • I would say that #29 for the Jets, Patrik Laine, has a chance to be a pretty decent player!!  Ovechkin: “he has a chance to score 50/60 goals” Elliot Freedman: “Hockey people are comparing him to Ovechkin, Kovulchuk and Bossy.”
  • Winning that Lottery Ball second overall pick was franchise changing!!14591597_10154380773080783_6491552696864755528_n
  • “Mexicans are murderers and rapists” “Ban all Muslims from coming into the States” “I grab them by the p****s and just kiss them”  “I don’t need to show my tax return”…Lose a Billion dollars in one year…don’t pay any taxes…have 12 women accuse you of groping them…run a scam with Trump University…claim you’ll bring jobs back to the US after using Chinese steel for your hotels…and this person is actually running for the presidency???   Really?
  • I used to be so into the NFL and now it is almost completely off the radar…more than any other reason, it is the never ending commercials on TV which have driven me away…there is no flow to the game and every time they go to commercial I just lose more and more interest.
  • Textbook case in how to ruin a player’s career: Jacob Trouba!!  Allowing his dad and agent to control things like he is…is ruining Trouba’s career.  I always liked the kid, but he has zero leverage for seven years and to come out demanding a trade and then being told he doesn’t want to play in Canada…good luck with that Jacob…if it was me, I’d have him sit for the seven years the Jets have him under control…Jets have to send a message to future RFA’s that this kind of garbage won’t be tolerated.jacob-trouba-winnipeg-jets
  • There is a 100% correlation: the older I get the more I hate, yes hate, winter!!
  • The Winnipeg Free Press…you used to be such a pleasure to read…now all you are is 24 hours old news and poorly written and edited stories; so sad to watch.
  • Hey Andrew: that Goldeyes mug that I used on our championship playoff run…now 2 for 2 with the Jets…just sayin!!!
  • Watching how very much Ben and Laine love reading is so wonderful…here’s Ben at 7:00 in the morning reading a Babe Ruth biography…takes great parenting to instil a love of reading!!14632921_10157564638125580_92702574251880207_n
  • Couldn’t be prouder of Matt and the determination he showed…I know you’ll be great with your new job at the West End Cultural Centre.

A breathtaking Italy…in words and pictures from Geoff Brookes

© Chuck Duboff

My good friend Geoff Brookes, and his wife Laureen, are currently on a three week holiday in Italy.  Geoff has been sending breathtaking pictures and this morning an e-mail arrived (of course Geoff has been asking for Jets updates…lol)  Enjoy this blog written and photographed in Italy:

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© Geoff Brookes

‘m in the outdoor seating at “Bar Focacceria Antonio”, in Monterosso Al Mare, on a peaceful Saturday morning. In the misty distance I can see rocky hills falling to the sea like folds in a roughly thrown blanket. In each fold is another town of the “Cinque Terre”, the five towns that dot this spectacular stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. I’m having my second cappuccino, but I will wait until Laureen wakes to sample the three kinds of Focaccia bread that I spied in the display case. (We brought our gluten-cutter pills for this reason). This is where they invented Focaccia bread – Liguria province.

Last night we had a feast of seafood at a wonderful restaurant, “Belvedere”. It is indeed a “beautiful view”, through an open window to the Mediterranean. With a fine local white wine made in neighbouring “Vernazza”, it’s a slice of heaven to sample, where earth, wind and sea wish each other “buonasera”.

Rome was spectacular. We had guided tours of the Pantheon, the Colliseum and the Forum, while we wandered through the Palatine hill on our own. We also had an excellent guide for the Vatican and St. Peter’s (thanks Trev!). We liked the guide for the Pantheon, but the guide for the forum seemed to evaluate the ruins based on how much was left standing for each of the hundreds of ruined structures for the “forum” and the palatine hill. The forum is actually a vast congregation of ruins from the valley that was the centre of Ancient Rome. The Palatine hill was the area where the aristocrats built their palaces, above the city centre, and technically beyond its city limits, as was required at that time.

There are amazing ancient buildings scattered everywhere throughout modern Rome, but when you walk through the large area of the coliseum, the forum and the palatine hill, you feel like you’re walking through time. There are enough fully preserved remnants that you feel like you can imagine them as they were 2,000 years ago.

This 5 square miles (my guess) controlled Europe and North Africa for parts of 1,000 years, long before plagues ravaged the population of Europe. Most importantly, the Romans provided continuity in culture, art and science from the Greeks (who played at least some role in the origins of Rome), and similar historical cultures before them. Unfortunately, this knowledge went underground for 1,000 years after the Roman Empire collapsed, until its “rebirth” in the Renaissance, in which the Italians played a leading role once again.

Enjoy the pictures!

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Lake Itasca – a travelogue;… by Geoff Brookes

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Boardwalk at Lake Itasca

(C) Geoff Brookes

One of the most beautiful places in the world is an easy day’s drive from Winnipeg (4 1/2 hours of driving time). But in my conversations with fellow ‘Peggers, very few people know it exists.

Most Manitobans have heard of Bemidji, Minnesota. But not many have the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River on their map – just a stone’s throw southwest of Bemidji.

Lake Itasca is not large, in terms of square miles of water. Instead, this glacial lake is really two long, narrow fingers that join near the headwaters of the Mississippi. You’d think that it would flow from north to south, based on the fact that the water system ultimately flows south to the Gulf of Mexico. But it actually flows north, almost reaching Bemidji, until it circles around to the east, finally heading south through Minneapolis, on its way to the southern states. The two fingers of the lake are easily navigated – my daughter and I canoed the entire course of the western arm of the lake in two hoursof leisurely boating.

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Minne-Sodah ice cream & soda shop.

Depending on whether you measure it by length, volume, or drainage area, the Mississippi River is either the third or fourth largest river in the world. It gets its start by draining most of the water systems in Minnesota, beginning with Lake Itasca.

(A quick pronunciation note – the “i” is pronounced like “eye” by Americans. I incorrectly fall into the more Canadian-styled short “i”, but I guess it’s their lake, so “eye – taska” has got to be the right way!)

The headwaters is the focal point for visits to the park. The lake water flows like a slow river through the reeds as it nears the northwestern tip of the lake, then trickles over small rocks and stones between the near shoreline and a small outcropping of trees and rocks on the other side of the shore. It resembles a creek at this point, but quickly grows as it flows out of the park.

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If you want to get a quick orientation to this Minnesota park, the main visitor centre is near the east entrance. There are some video presentations there, maps, and knowledgeable staff. Very near to that  Visitor Centre is Douglas Lodge, and yet another visitor centre (“the Forest Inn”), with some good books for sale. Finally, there is an excellent visitor centre at the headwaters, near the north park entrance, which has a diorama of the entire Mississippi River, from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. There is a casual restaurant at the headwaters visitor centre.

A word about driving in the park – it’s slow, and you must watch carefully for bike paths crossing the road (with many cyclists). Watch out for wildlife and fallen branches or trees (after a strong windstorm).

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Douglas Lodge

There are many rooms of various types at the Douglas Lodge (with many separate buildings and cabins). There is also a youth hostel, and two campgrounds (all inside the park and near bike paths). There are many private campgrounds within half and hour of the park. Weekend dates will fill up quickly, and must be booked months in advance, but weekdays can be booked a month in advance, for the park campgrounds. You might find space in the private campgrounds in the surrounding areas, if you’re booking late.

The trees are spectacular. The best way to enjoy them is on the bike trails. The main bike trail goes about 7 or 8 miles from Douglas Lodge to the headwaters, with links to the campgrounds. Adventurous cyclists can also experience the 13 mile wilderness trail, which completes a circle around Lake Itasca, ending at the lodge. There are many smaller hikes off of these larger trails.

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Great time cycling with the family.

The cycling is challenging at times with the hills, but a weekend putz like me is able to make the 7 mile journey with my daughter, on my tandem bike. Neither my daughter or I are great cyclists, so it’s possible for the average biker to do it. Use your gears. If you’re not a great biker, and if you can get someone to pick you up at the headwaters, go south to north, starting at the main visitor centre near the east gate. Going this way, you can take advantage of the slight overall drop in elevation. It’s mostly uphill to the Pine Ridge Campground, but then mostly downhill from there to the headwaters. The easiest route is from Pine Ridge Campground (or the nearby University of Minnesota station) to the headwaters. If you plan to ride back and forth, take a break at either of the visitor centres before heading back the other way.

There is a beach, not far from the headwaters. It’s a nice way to cool off on a hot day. The beach is also on the northern stretch of the bike path. People also swim in the lake at the headwaters.

Also at the north side of the lake, there is a bike/canoe/kayak/boat rental operation. The people there are very friendly and helpful. You can also buy fishing supplies there. Check the map, and take one with you. The lake navigation is simple, but a map always helps to get the big picture. As with any navigation, make mental notes of the landmarks, as you go.

Supplies – bring them with you. The nearest towns are fun places, but Park Rapids is half an hour away – actually more than that, if you include the time driving through the park. You can get ice and firewood at the campground office. Get gasoline at the nearby towns – or at the gas station just north of the intersection of highways 200 and 71, near the east entrance.

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Bear Paw Campground.

The towns are a fun diversion from the nature experience. Park Rapids’ Main Street has old-fashioned parking – parallel parking in the middle of the street, and angled parking at the curb. It has a 60’s styled diner and soda shop, called “Minne-sodah “, complete with many antique period pieces, coke coolers etc, with ice cream, floats and milkshakes. There is also a nice Italian restaurant, “Necce”.

You can travel to the town of Walker directly from Itasca on highway 200, or indirectly from Park Rapids on highway 34, via Akely. In Akely there is a statue of Paul Bunyan. Walker is a quaint town on Leech Lake. At “Reeds” you can buy camping and boating supplies, and related fun things. Our favourite store is “Christmas Point”, which is not a Christmas store, but is named after a local place. In both stores you can buy excellent, Minnesota-grown wild rice.

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Paul Bunyan; Akley, Minnesota.

But the towns are a side story. You can easily spend a week enjoying all of the scenery and recreational opportunities at Lake Itasca. Like my family, you might find that it becomes an annual pilgrimage!